Guest Post: K.D. Richards – PURSUIT OF THE TRUTH

Saturday Salutations and Greetings. I can’t believe this is the last Saturday in January of 2021! They say time flies as we get older, but this is beyond ridiculous people. I know that some of you are still trying to adjust to being homebound. Perhaps because I have no children or job and my sole responsibility is taking care of my 86-y.o. mother, I get to spend a lot of my time reading (my mom has gotten back in the habit of reading, so now we read silently together, it’s a beautiful thing). Since I’ve been doing more reading, I’m always on the lookout for new books and new-to-me authors (discovering new authors is like unwrapping a gift that keeps on giving). Having a blog means I get the opportunity to do just that, meet plenty of new-to-me authors and books. Today, I’d like to introduce you to one of those new-to-me writer, Ms. K.D. Richards, author of the recently released The Pursuit of Truth. I hope you’ll follow the blog tour to read some great reviews and to learn more about this book and author. I’ll be adding this book to my TBR list and hope you will as well. Ms. Richards will be talking to us today about her take on the foundations of writing. Thank you, Ms. Richards for taking time away from writing and your family life to join us today. The blog is now yours.

Tower of Writing

Like many of you, I’m experiencing the joys and frustrations of virtual school. Having my husband and two sons at home in the house I am used to having completely to myself for six and a half hours a day has been an adjustment.

A few weeks ago my youngest son was assigned a school project where he had to build something taller than himself using anything we had in the house. Of course we used books!

As I was helping him stack, and then restack because our base wasn’t wide enough the first time, and then re-restack because our base wasn’t wide enough the second time either, it donned on me that this project was a lot like my process for writing a book.

Our first couple of tries at building something taller than my son failed because we hadn’t built a sturdy enough foundation to hold all the books that would be piled on top. This often happens to me when I’m writing my outline (I’m a plotter) and/or first draft. The idea may be sound but the problem or goal I plan to have my character pursue might not be weighty or complex enough.

Because I write suspense and thrillers the external goals tend to be ‘stay alive’ or ‘catch the killer.’ But the best protagonists have both external and internal problems and/or goals. Yes, the character may be running from a killer but the only way to stay alive is to return to her hometown and face her family’s dark secrets. When I’ve done things really well, the external goals and internal goals complement each other. I find that for most readers, it is the internal goal that makes the character dynamic and interesting enough to keep the reader engaged.

Once I have a solid base it’s time to start stacking or, in the case of writing, building in your complications – otherwise known as creating plot twists! Twists come in many forms. Secrets, unforeseen obstacles, setbacks, and devastating revelations. Really anything that sends the characters in a direction they, and hopefully the reader, did not anticipate.

I like my twists to carry the characters into the big reveal (sorry, I don’t have a book tower reference for this one!). Some writer’s refer to this as the “Ah-ha moment.” This is the point that the who, what, when, and where all come together. The hero and heroine finally figure out what they need to do to solve the problem or achieve the external goal. They also should have sufficiently dealt with their internal problem or goal.

So after two failed attempts, my son and I finally had a tower that would last long enough for me to snap a picture and prove he had achieved his goal. In writing parlance, this is the resolution point. In a suspense or thriller, the resolution can take many forms. When I’m writing or reading a book I like to at least be left with an idea of where the main character’s life is headed. I’m not a gal that appreciates ambiguity at the end of a good novel. Tell me what happens!

If you are writing a romance, or romantic suspense, the resolution is also sometimes called “the happily ever after, or the happy for right now”. Most romance readers want the couple to end up together at the end of the book. To be honest, I do too. It’s fiction, right? One of the only places everything can always work out well for the good guys.

Whatever the genre, the end of the book must not only tie up all the threads of the plot and resolve the problem, twists, and turns that carried the reader through to the end of the book, it must give the reader the psychological payoff that is promised at the beginning. I’m sure we have all read books that were fabulous but the end was just…meh. Of course, this is easier said than done.

If you’re looking for a read full of suspense and romance, pick up Pursuit of the Truth by K.D. Richards.

About The Pursuit of the Truth

Pursuit of the Truth (West Investigations)

Romantic Suspense 1st in Series

Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue (January 26, 2021)

Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages

ISBN-10: 1335401539

ISBN-13: 978-1335401533

Digital ASIN: B08CSRDVWK

His skills can keep her safe

Her secrets could get them killed…

Security expert Ryan West’s worst fears come to life when hotel CEO Nadia Shelton is pushed in front of a taxi and nearly killed. Someone will do whatever it takes to find the brother Nadia thought was dead, and the only way Ryan can protect her as they uncover the truth is to stay strictly professional. But the sparks igniting between them are nearly impossible to ignore.

From Harlequin Intrigue: Seek thrills. Solve crimes. Justice served.

Purchase Links: AmazonKoboHarlequinB&N

About K.D. Richards

K. D. Richards is the pseudonym for Kia Dennis. Kia was born and raised in the Maryland suburbs just outside of Washington, D.C. A writer since a young age, after college she earned a law degree and worked as an attorney and legal instructor for fifteen years but never stopped writing fiction. She currently lives in the Toronto area with her husband and two sons. Sign up for her newsletter at kdrichardsbooks.com and follow her on Twitter @kiadwrites

Author Links:
Website: kdrichardsbooks.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kdrichardsauthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kdrichardsauthor
Amazon: https://amzn.to/3fYaI6P
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20494862.K_D_Richards

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Book Showcase: THE SECRETS OF LOVE STORY BRIDGE by Phaedra Patrick


The Secrets of Love Story Bridge by Phaedra PatrickISBN: 9780778309789 (hardcover) ISBN: 9780778310211 (trade paperback) ISBN: 9781488056345 (ebook) ISBN: 9781488208188 (digital audiobook) ASIN: B082YDJ187 (Audible audiobook) ASIN: B07QZ3SLPR (Kindle edition) Publisher: Park Row BooksPublication Date: April 28, 2020


A single father gets an unexpected second chance at love in the heartwarming new novel from the author of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper It’s summer in the city and passions are soaring along with the temperature—for everyone but Mitchell Fisher, who hates all things romance. He relishes his job cutting off the padlocks that couples fasten to the famous “love story” bridge. Only his young daughter, Poppy, knows that behind his prickly veneer, Mitchell still grieves the loss of her mother. Then one hot day, everything changes when Mitchell courageously rescues a woman who falls from the bridge into the river. He’s surprised to feel an unexpected connection to her, but she disappears before he can ask her name. Desperate to find out her identity, Mitchell is shocked to learn she’s been missing for almost a year. He teams up with her spirited sister, Liza, on a quest to find her again. However, she’s left only one clue behind—a message on the padlock she hung on the bridge. Brimming with Phaedra Patrick’s signature charm and a sparkling cast of characters, The Secrets of Love Story Bridge follows one man’s journey to unlock his heart and discover new beginnings in the unlikeliest places.


Read an Excerpt


The Lilac Envelope

The night before


As he did often, over the past three years, Mitchell Fisher wrote a letter he would never send. 

He sat up in bed at midnight and kicked off his sheets. Even though all the internal doors in his apartment were open, the sticky July heat still felt like a shroud clinging to his body. His nine-year-old daughter Poppy thrashed restlessly in her sleep, in the bedroom opposite. 

Mitchell turned on his bedside lamp, squinting against the yellow light, and took out a pad of Basildon Bond notepaper from underneath his bed. He always used a fountain pen to write—old-fashioned he supposed, but he was a man who valued things that were well-constructed and long-lasting. 

Mitchell tapped the pen against his bottom lip. He knew what he wanted to say, but by the time his words of sorrow and regret travelled from his brain to his fingertips, they were only fragments of what he longed to express. 

As he started to write, the sound of the metal nib scratching against paper helped him block out the city street noise that hummed below his apartment.

Dearest Anita
Another letter from me. Everything here is fine, ticking along. Poppy is doing well. The school holidays start soon and I thought she’d be more excited. It’s probably because you’re not here to enjoy them with us. 
I’ve taken two weeks off work to spend with her, and have a full itinerary planned for us—badminton, tennis, library visits, cooking, walking, the park, swimming, museums, cooking, a tour of the city bridges, and more. It will keep us busy. Keep our minds off you. 
You’ll be amazed how much she’s grown, must be almost your height by now. I tell her how proud I am of her, but it always means more coming from you.


Mitchell paused, resting his hand against the pad of paper. He had to tell her how he felt.

Every time I look at our daughter, I think of you. I wish I could hold you again, and tell you I’m truly sorry.
Yours, always
Mitchell x


He read his words, always dissatisfied with them, never able to convey the magnitude of grief and guilt he felt. After folding the piece of paper once, he sealed it into a crisp, cream envelope, then squeezed it into the almost-full drawer of his nightstand, amongst all the other letters he’d written. His eyes fell upon the slim lilac envelope he kept on top, the one addressed to him from Anita, that he’d not yet been able to bring himself to open. 

Taking that envelope out, he held it under his nose and inhaled. There was still a slight scent of her on the paper, he thought, of violet soap. His finger followed the angle of the gummed flap and then stopped. He closed his eyes and willed himself to open the letter, but his fingernails dented crescents into the paper.

Once more, he placed it back into his drawer. 

Mitchell lay down and hugged himself, imagining Anita’s arms were wrapped around him. But, when he closed his eyes, the words from all the letters weighed down upon him like a bulldozer. As he turned and tried to sleep, he pulled the pillow over his head to force them away.

1. A Locked Heart

The lovers who attached their padlocks to the bridges of Upchester might see it as a fun or romantic gesture but, to Mitchell, it was an act of vandalism.

It was the hottest year on record in the city and the morning sun was already beating down on the back of his neck. His biceps flexed as he methodically opened and squeezed his bolt cutters shut, cutting the padlocks off the cast-iron filigree panels of the old Victorian bridge, one by one.  

Since local boyband Word Up filmed the video for their international smash hit “Lock Me Up with Your Love” on this bridge, thousands of people were flocking to the small city in the North West of England. They brought and attached locks marked with initials, names, messages, to demonstrate their love for the band and each other, on the city’s five bridges.  

Large red and white signs that read no padlocks studded the pavement. But as far as Mitchell could see, the locks still hung on the railings like bees swarming across frames of honeycomb. The constant reminder of love surrounding him, other people’s, made him feel like he was fighting for breath. 

As he cut off the locks, he wanted to yell, ‘Why can’t you just keep your feelings to yourselves?’ 

After several hours of hard work, Mitchell’s trail of broken locks glinted on the pavement like a metal snake. He stopped for a moment and narrowed his eyes as a young couple strolled toward him. The woman glided in a white floaty dress and tan cowboy boots. The man wore shorts and had the physique of an American football player. With his experience of carrying out maintenance across the city’s public areas, Mitchell instinctively knew they were up to something. 

After breaking away from his girlfriend, the man walked to the side of the bridge while nonchalantly pulling out a large silver padlock from his pocket.

Mitchell tightened his grip on his cutters. He was once so easy and in love with Anita, but rules were rules. ‘Excuse me,’ he called out. ‘You can’t hang that lock.’

The man frowned and crossed his bulging arms. ‘Oh yeah? And who’s going to stop me?’

Mitchell had the sinewy physique of a sprinter. He was angular all over with dark hair and eyes, and a handsome dorsal hump on his nose. ‘I am,’ he said and put his cutters down on the pavement. He held out his hand for the lock. ‘It’s my job to clear the bridges. You could get a fine.’ 

Anger flashed across the blond man’s face and he batted Mitchell’s hand away, swiping off his work glove. Mitchell watched as it tumbled down into the river below. Sometimes the water flowed prettily, but today it gushed and gurgled, a bruise-grey hue. A young man had drowned here in a strong current last summer. 

The man’s girlfriend wrapped her arms around her boyfriend’s waist and tugged him away. ‘Come on. Leave him alone.’ She cast Mitchell an apologetic smile. ‘Sorry, but we’re so in love. It took us two hours and three buses to get here. We’ll be working miles away from each other soon.  Please let us do this.’

The man looked into her eyes and softened. ‘Yeah, um, sorry, mate,’ he said sheepishly. ‘The heat got the better of me. All we want to do is fasten our lock.’

Mitchell gestured at the sign again. ‘Just think about what you’re doing, guys,’ he said with a weary sigh. ‘Padlocks are just cheap chunks of metal and they’re weighing down the bridges. Can’t you get a nice ring or tattoo instead? Or write letters to each other? There are better ways to say I lov– Well, you know. . .’

The man and the woman shared an incredulous look.

‘Whatever,’ the man glowered, and he shoved his padlock back into the pocket of his shorts. ‘We’ll go to another bridge instead.’ 
‘I work on those too . . .’ 

The couple laughed at him and sauntered away.

Mitchell rubbed his nose. He knew his job wasn’t a glamorous one. It wasn’t the one in architecture he’d studied hard and trained for. However, it meant he could pay the rent on his apartment and buy Poppy hot lunch at school each day. Whatever daily hassle he put up with, he needed the work.

His workmate Barry had watched the incident from the other side of the road. Sweat circled under his arms and his forehead shone like a mirror as he crossed over. ‘The padlocks keep multiplying,’ he groaned. 

‘We need to keep on going.’

‘But it’s too damn hot.’ Barry undid a button on his polo shirt, showing off unruly chest curls that matched the ones on his head. ‘It’s a violation of our human rights, and no one can tell if we cut off twenty or two hundred.’

Mitchell held his hand up against the glare of the sun. ‘We can tell, and Russ wants the bridges cleared in time for the city centenary celebrations.’

Barry rolled his eyes. ‘There’s only three weeks to go until then. Our boss should come down here and get his hands dirty, too. At least join me for a pint after work.’

Mitchell’s mouth felt parched, and he suddenly longed for an ice-cold beer. A vision of peeling off his polo-shirt and socks and relaxing in a beer garden appeared like a dreamy mirage in his head. 

However, he had to pick Poppy up from the after-school club to take her for a guitar lesson, an additional one to her music class in school. Her headteacher, Miss Heathcliff, was a stickler for the school closing promptly at 5.30pm, and it was a rush to get there on time. He lowered his eyes and said, ‘I’d love to, but I have to dash.’

Then he selected his next padlock to attack. 


Excerpt from The Secrets of Love Story Bridge by Phaedra Patrick. 
Copyright © 2020 by Phaedra Patrick. Published by Park Row Books. 
All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.

Meet The Author


Photo by Sam Ralph

Phaedra Patrick is the author of The Library of Lost and Found, Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone and The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, which has been published in over twenty countries around the world. She studied art and marketing, and has worked as a stained-glass artist, film festival organizer and communications manager. An award-winning short story writer, she now writes full-time. She lives in Saddleworth, UK, with her husband and son.


Connect to the author via her website, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, or Twitter.



This excerpt brought to you by Park Row Books

Book Showcase: HOSTILE PURSUIT by Juno Rushdan



Hostile Pursuit

A Hard Core Justice Thriller Book 1

by Juno Rushdan

Genre: Romantic Thriller




When ruthless killers target them, even a safe house isn’t safe.

Only twenty-four hours remain until marshal Nick McKenna’s informant, Lori Carpenter, will testify against a powerful drug cartel. Nick has kept her safe for an entire year, but now all hell is breaking loose. With a team of cold-blooded assassins closing in, the by-the-book lawman decides to go rogue. He’ll risk his life for duty…and put it all on the line for his irresistible witness.




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Nick had kept Lori safe for three hundred and eighty-six days. What could possibly go wrong in the next twenty-seven hours?

They reached the women’s clothing store. As they walked inside, a chime dinged from a motion-activated PIR sensor he spotted.

An employee behind the register, wearing a blazer and sporting a curly bob, made eye contact and gave a perky smile. One female customer perusing a row of blouses didn’t glance their way.

“Hello,” the young sales associate said, her warm voice rich with enthusiasm. “Let me know if you need help finding anything.”

“Thank you,” Lori said.

“You’ve got twenty minutes.” Nick looked at his watch while Ted swept the rest of the store. “We’re in and out, okay?”

Lori went to a rack of suits. “You don’t give a gal much time.”

“One hour away from the property,” he said, reminding her of the US Marshal Service rules that kept witnesses alive. “Not a minute more.”

Nick’s attention flickered to the other customer.

The woman was in her early forties, petite, olive complexion, coal-black hair pulled in a tight bun. No jewelry, wore slacks and a blousy top and carried a leather purse. She reached up, taking a shirt from the upper rack, and the frilly bell sleeve of her blouse dropped an inch, revealing a tattoo of a black rose on the back of her hand. The ink fit her. Beautiful. Elegant. Dark.

Reflexively, Nick pressed his arm against the Glock 22 in his shoulder rig.

“This is a big deal.” Lori checked the size on a navy suit. “Forgive me for not wanting to rush.” 

Tomorrow she was testifying in federal court against her in-laws’ financial firm for laundering millions. He could tell she was doing her best to hold it together and not let nerves derail her. If he could give her more time, he would.

The low chime at the front rang. Another woman entered the store. Bottled-bleach-blonde. Tall and thin. Jeans and a buttoned shirt. Sneakers that squelched lightly against the tile floor.

“I’m sorry. Eighteen minutes,” Nick said, telegraphing with his tone this was nonnegotiable.

Lori picked a navy two-piece from the rack. “This should work. I better go try it on. Tick-tock.”

Nick looked to Ted, where his partner stood at the entrance of the dressing rooms. Ted nodded, signaling the stalls were empty and he’d make sure no one followed Lori inside.

Blondie headed straight to some dresses hanging in the rear of the store, grabbed one almost mindlessly, or perhaps she’d been in before and knew what she was looking for, flicked a glance at a tag and made a beeline for the dressing rooms.

Ted lifted a palm, not letting the blonde in after Lori. The woman huffed and protested, raising a loud stink, but his partner held firm.

Show her your badge, Ted, and be done with it. Flashing the Eagle Top five-pointed star had a way of shutting down any complaints lickety-split.

“Who do you think you are?” Blondie asked with a fist on her hip.

“A US Deputy Marshal, ma’am,” Ted said. “Sorry for the inconvenience and the wait.”

“Listen, jerk. I need to get in there now.”

Ted laughed in his self-deprecating way. “Sorry. Not going to happen.”

The sales associate went over to the scene unfolding. “Hi,” she said brightly, her sunny disposition almost disarming. “Is there a problem?”

Nick maintained his position, monitoring the rest of the shop and the entrance.

Black Rose circled silent as a fox around to an ornate display of scarves and ran her fingers across the silk. Not once since they’d entered had she acknowledged their presence in the slightest. Until now.

Her gaze lifted, meeting his, her face an expressionless mask, but her sharp eyes were those of a merciless predator.

Prior experience as an army ranger in Afghanistan before becoming a marshal had taught him the hard way never to underestimate a woman with a slight build, or even a child for that matter, and the deep scar under his chin was a testament.

For a chilling instant they stared at one another, sizing the other up. Not from a physical perspective. It was an assessment of will. And what Nick saw in her was fathomless.

Blondie threw the dress at Ted, dividing Nick’s attention, and stormed out of the store.

The bell chimed. Black Rose’s steely eyes narrowed before she turned and strode unhurriedly toward the door—as if she had all the time in the world.

Then he saw it. Her low-heeled boots that didn’t make a sound.

His neck prickled the way it did when he was on a hunt for big game with his siblings. Nick followed. He had no reason to detain or question her, but something about that woman was wrong. From the tattoo, those rubber-soled shoes, to how she’d looked at him. As if she’d wanted to slice through him like a hot knife through butter.

None of it was evidence of anything and not cause for more than suspicion, but training and years of experience had taught him not to dismiss either.

The woman strolled away, lengthening the distance between them with each store she passed. One, two, three. But the tightening in his gut didn’t ease.

Black Rose glimpsed back at him over her shoulder, caught his fixed stare and stopped in her tracks. Pivoting, she turned and faced him, leveling her icy gaze his way. The look she sent him was full of loathing and in a blink it changed. Her lips hitched in an ominous half grin and she winked. Almost daring him to pursue.

Old ranger instincts urged him to take up the chase, confirm what his gut screamed about the woman, shake something that made sense out of her, but his training overruled recklessness.

He looked back in the quiet clothing store, checking on things.

Ted no longer stood stationed at the entrance of the dressing rooms.

Nick touched his Bluetooth earpiece. “Ted? What’s your position? Do you have eyes on Hummingbird?” he asked, using the codename for Lori.

Deafening silence.

Nick’s pulse spiked, but he remained calm—never one to succumb to panic. He stepped past displays and racks, his gaze scanning, his mind assessing.

No sign of Ted. Or the sales associate.

Drawing his gun, Nick hustled toward the dressing rooms.

Anticipation coiled in his chest, adrenaline roaring through him. The weight of his backup piece strapped to his ankle was a small comfort. Nick’s fingers tightened on his Glock. He reached the threshold, scanned left, then right.

Ted lay on the floor beyond the entrance in a corner. Blood soaked his white hair at the base of his skull.

Son of a— Ted was down.

There was no time to check if his partner was unconscious or dead. A commotion deeper in the dressing room drew him forward. Two people struggled inside the second stall.

The horror in Lori’s terrified whimper jolted his heart.


Excerpt from Hostile Pursuit by June Rushdan. Copyright © 2020 by Juno Rushdan. Published by Harlequin. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.






Juno is a veteran Air Force Intelligence Officer who writes romantic thrillers with sizzle, pulse-pounding suspense, and plenty of action. Her stories are about strong heroes and gutsy heroines fighting for their lives as well as their happily-ever-after. Expect an intense emotional journey and a thrill ride to keep you turning the pages.

A native New Yorker, she currently lives in the Washington, DC area with her patient husband, two vivacious kids, and a spoiled rescue dog. Juno loves hanging out with readers and anyone friendly over a great glass of wine.

The Final Hour series features a covert, off-the-books unit sanctioned to operate beyond the black and white constraints of other intelligence agencies. They work in the shadows safeguarding national security. When a horrifying conspiracy hits too close to home, they’re the last line of defense. They’ll do anything to keep their country safe and sacrifice everything for the ones they love.


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Book Showcase: THE SEA GLASS COTTAGE by RaeAnne Thayne


The Sea Glass Cottage by RaeAnne Thayne
ISBN: 9781335045164 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781488055874 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488207945 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781094098425 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B07XVMH6YT  (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B07QTL1F7Y   (Kindle edition)
Publisher: HQN Books
Publication Date: March 17, 2020


From the New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne comes a brand-new novel for fans of Debbie Macomber and Susan Wiggs. RaeAnne Thayne tells the story of an emotional homecoming that brings hope and healing to three generations of women.

The life Olivia Harper always dreamed of isn’t so dreamy these days. The 16-hour work days are unfulfilling and so are things with her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when she hears that her estranged mother, Juliet, has been seriously injured, Liv has no choice but to pack up her life and head home to beautiful Cape Sanctuary on the Northern California coast.

It’s just for a few months—that’s what Liv keeps telling herself. But the closer she gets to Cape Sanctuary, the painful memories start flooding back: Natalie, her vibrant, passionate older sister who downward-spiraled into addiction. The fights with her mother who enabled her sister at every turn. The overdose that took Natalie, leaving her now-teenaged daughter, Caitlin, an orphan.

As Liv tries to balance her own needs with those of her injured mother and an obstinate, resentful fifteen-year-old, it becomes clear that all three Harper women have been keeping heartbreaking secrets from one another. And as those secrets are revealed, Liv, Juliet, and Caitlin will see that it’s never too late—or too early—to heal family wounds and find forgiveness. 






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Read an Excerpt


1
Olivia



Olivia shoved her hands into her pockets against the damp Seattle afternoon. Nothing would take the chill from her bones, though. She knew that. Even five days of sick leave, huddling in her bed and mindlessly bingeing on cooking shows hadn’t done anything but make her crave cake.

She couldn’t hide away in her apartment forever. Eventually she was going to have to reenter life and go back to work, which was why she stood outside this coffee shop in a typical spring drizzle with her heart pounding and her stomach in knots.

This was stupid. The odds of anything like that happening to her again were ridiculously small. She couldn’t let one man battling mental illness and drug abuse control the rest of her life.

She could do this.

She reached out to pull the door open, but before she could make contact with the metal handle, her cell phone chimed from her pocket.


She knew instantly from the ringtone it was her best friend from high school, who still lived in Cape Sanctuary with her three children.

Talking to Melody was more important than testing her resolve by going into the Kozy Kitchen right now, she told herself. She answered the call, already heading back across the street to her own apartment.

“Mel,” she answered, her voice slightly breathless from the adrenaline still pumping through her and from the stairs she was racing up two at a time. “I’m so glad you called.”

Glad didn’t come close to covering the extent of her relief. She really hadn’t wanted to go into that coffee shop. Not yet. Why should she make herself? She had coffee at home and could have groceries delivered when she needed them.

“You know why I’m calling, then?” Melody asked, a strange note in her voice.

“I know it’s amazing to hear from you. You’ve been on my mind.”

She was not only a coward but a lousy friend. She hadn’t checked in with Melody in a few weeks, despite knowing her friend was going through a life upheaval far worse than witnessing an attack on someone else.

As she unlocked her apartment, the cutest rescue dog in the world, a tiny, fluffy cross between a Chihuahua and a miniature poodle, gyrated with joy at the sight of her.

Yet another reason she didn’t have to leave. If she needed love and attention, she only had to call her dog and Otis would come running.

She scooped him up and let him lick her face, already feeling some of her anxiety calm.

“I was thinking how great it would be if you and the boys could come up and stay with me for a few days when school gets out for the summer,” she said now to Melody. “We could take the boys to the Space Needle, maybe hop the ferry up to the San Juans and go whale watching. They would love it. What do you think?”

The words seemed to be spilling out of her, too fast. She was babbling, a weird combination of relief that she hadn’t had to face that coffee shop and guilt that she had been wrapped up so tightly with her own life that she hadn’t reached out to a friend in need.

“My apartment isn’t very big,” she went on without waiting for an answer. “But I have an extra bedroom and can pick up some air beds for the boys. They’ve got some really comfortable ones these days. I’ve got a friend who says she stayed on one at her sister’s house in Tacoma and slept better than she does on her regular mattress. I’ve still got my car, though I hardly drive it in the city, and the boys would love to meet Otis. Maybe we could even drive to Olympic National Park, if you wanted.”

“Liv. Stop.” Melody cut her off. “Though that all sounds amazing and I’m sure the boys would love it, we can talk about that later. You have no idea why I called, do you?”

“I… Why did you call?”

Melody was silent for a few seconds. “I’m afraid there’s been an accident,” she finally said.

The breath ran out of Olivia like somebody had popped one of those air mattresses with a bread knife.

“Oh no. Is it one of your boys?” Oh please, she prayed. Don’t let it be one of the boys.

Melody had been through enough over the past three months, since her jerkhole husband ran off with one of his high school students.

“No, honey. It’s not my family. It’s yours.”

Her words seemed to come from far away and it took a long time for them to pierce through.

No. Impossible.

Fear rushed back in, swamping her like a fast-moving tide. She sank blindly onto the sofa.

“Is it Caitlin?”

“It’s not your niece. Stop throwing out guesses and just let me tell you. It’s your mom. Before you freak out, let me just say, first of all, she’s okay, from what I understand. I don’t have all the details but I do know she’s in the hospital, but she’s okay. It could have been much worse.”

Her mom. Olivia tried to picture Juliet lying in a hospital bed and couldn’t quite do it. Juliet Harper didn’t have time to be in a hospital bed. She was always hurrying somewhere, either next door to Sea Glass Cottage to the garden center the Harper family had run in Cape Sanctuary for generations or down the hill to town to help a friend or to one of Caitlin’s school events.

“What happened?” 

“She had a bad fall and suffered a concussion and I think some broken bones.”

Olivia’s stomach twisted. A concussion. Broken bones. Oh man. “Fell where? Off one of the cliffs near the garden center?”

“I’m sorry. I don’t know all the details yet. This just happened this morning and it’s still early for the gossip to make all the rounds around town. I assumed you already knew. That Caitlin or someone would have called you. I was only checking in to see how I can help.”

This morning. She glanced at her watch. Her mother had been in an accident hours earlier and Olivia was just finding out about it now, in late afternoon.

Someone should have told her—if not Juliet herself, then, as Melody said, at least Caitlin.

Given their recent history, it wasn’t particularly surprising that her niece, raised by Olivia’s mother since she was a baby, hadn’t bothered to call. Olivia wasn’t Caitlin’s favorite person right now. These days, during Olivia’s regular video chats with her mother, Caitlin never popped in to say hi anymore. At fifteen, Caitlin was abrasive and moody and didn’t seem to like Olivia much, for reasons she didn’t quite understand.

“I’m sure someone tried to reach me but my phone has been having trouble,” she lied. Her phone never had trouble. She made sure it was always in working order, since so much of her freelance business depended on her clients being able to reach her and on her being able to Tweet or post something on the fly.

“I’m glad I checked in, then.”

“Same here. Thank you.”

Several bones broken and a long recovery. Oh dear. That would be tough on Juliet, especially this time of year when the garden center always saw peak business.

“Thank you for telling me. Is she in the hospital there in Cape Sanctuary or was she taken to one of the bigger cities?”

“I’m not sure. I can call around for you, if you want.”

“I’ll find out. You have enough to worry about.”

“Keep me posted. I’m worried about her. She’s a pretty great lady, that mom of yours.”

Olivia shifted, uncomfortable as she always was when others spoke about her mother to her. Everyone loved her, with good reason. Juliet was warm, gracious, kind to just about everyone in their beachside community of Cape Sanctuary.

Which made Olivia’s own awkward, tangled relationship with her mother even harder to comprehend.

“Will you be able to come home for a few days?”

Home. How could she go home when she couldn’t even walk into the coffee shop across the street?

“I don’t know. I’ll have to see what’s going on there.”

How could she possibly travel all the way to Northern California? A complicated mix of emotions seemed to lodge like a tangled ball of yarn in her chest whenever she thought about her hometown, which she loved and hated in equal measures.

The town held so much guilt and pain and sorrow. Her father was buried there and so was her sister. Each room in Sea Glass Cottage stirred like the swirl of dust motes with memories of happier times.

Olivia hadn’t been back in more than a year. She kept meaning to make a trip but something else always seemed to come up. She usually went for the holidays at least, but the previous year she’d backed out of even that after work obligations kept her in Seattle until Christmas Eve and a storm had made last-minute travel difficult. She had spent the holiday with friends instead of with her mother and Caitlin and had felt guilty that she had enjoyed it much more than the previous few when she had gone home.

She couldn’t avoid it now, though. A trip back to Cape Sanctuary was long overdue, especially if her mother needed her.



Excerpt from The Sea Glass Cottage by RaeAnne Thayne. 
Copyright © 2020 by RaeAnne Thayne. Published by HQN Books. 
All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.





Meet The Author


New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne finds inspiration in the beautiful northern Utah mountains where she lives with her family. Her books have won numerous honors, including six RITA Award nominations from Romance Writers of America and Career Achievement and Romance Pioneer awards from RT Book Reviews. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at http://www.raeannethayne.com. 




Connect to the author via her website, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, or Twitter.




This excerpt brought to you by HQN Books

Book Showcase: THE LITTLE BOOKSHOP ON THE SEINE by Rebecca Raisin



Little Bookshop on the Seine, Little Paris Collection #1/The Bookshop #2, by Rebecca Raisin
ISBN: 9781335012500 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9781488056628 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488207891 (audiobook – digital)
ISBN: 9781094097404 (audiobook – MP3 on CD)
ASIN: B07Z43QL3Q  (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B07QV8YWLK (Kindle edition)
Publisher:  HQN Books
Release Date: January 7, 2020


It’s The Holiday on the Champs-Élysées in a great big love letter to Paris, charming old bookstores and happily-ever-afters!

When bookshop owner Sarah Smith is offered the opportunity for a job exchange with her Parisian friend Sophie, saying yes is a no-brainer—after all, what kind of romantic would turn down six months in Paris? Sarah is sure she’s in for the experience of a lifetime—days spent surrounded by literature in a gorgeous bookshop, and the chance to watch the snow fall on the Eiffel Tower. Plus, now she can meet up with her journalist boyfriend, Ridge, when his job takes him around the globe.

But her expectations cool faster than her café au lait soon after she lands in the City of Light—she’s a fish out of water in Paris. The customers are rude, her new coworkers suspicious and her relationship with Ridge has been reduced to a long-distance game of phone tag, leaving Sarah to wonder if he’ll ever put her first over his busy career. As Christmas approaches, Sarah is determined to get the shop—and her life—back in order…and make her dreams of a Parisian happily-ever-after come true. 






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CHAPTER ONE
October



With a heavy heart I placed the sign in the display window. 

All books 50% off.

If things didn’t pick up soon, it would read Closing down sale. The thought alone was enough to make me shiver. The autumnal sky was awash with purples and smudges of orange, as I stepped outside to survey the display window from the sidewalk. 

Star-shaped leaves crunched underfoot. I forced a smile. A sale wouldn’t hurt, and maybe it’d take the bookshop figures from the red into the black—which I so desperately needed. My rent had been hiked up. The owner of the building, a sharp-featured, silver-tongued, forty-something man, had put the pressure on me lately—to pay more, to declutter the shop, claiming the haphazard stacks of books were a fire risk. The additional rent stretched the budget to breaking level. Something had to change.

The phone shrilled, and a grin split my face. It could only be Ridge at this time of the morning. Even after being together almost a year his name still provoked a giggle. It suited him though, the veritable man mountain he was. I’d since met his mom, a sweet, well-spoken lady, who claimed in dulcet tones, that she chose his name well before his famous namesake in The Bold and the Beautiful. In fact, she was adamant about it, and said the TV character Ridge was no match for her son. I had to agree. Sure, they both had chiseled movie star cheekbones, and an intense gaze that made many a woman swoon, but my guy was more than just the sum of his parts—I loved him for his mind, as much as his clichéd six-pack, and broody hotness. And even better, he loved me for me.

He was the hero in my own real-life love story, and due back from Canada the next day. It’d been weeks since I’d seen him, and I ached for him in a way that made me blush.

I dashed inside, and answered the phone, breathlessly. “The Bookshop on the Corner.”

“That’s the voice I know and love,” he said in his rich, husky tone. My heart fluttered, picturing him at the end of the line, his jet-black hair and flirty blue eyes. He simply had to flick me a look loaded with suggestion, and I’d be jelly-legged and lovestruck.

“What are you wearing?” he said.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” I held back a laugh, eager to drag it out. So far our relationship had been more long-distance than anticipated, as he flew around the world reporting on location. The stints apart left an ache in my heart, a numbness to my days. Luckily I had my books, and a sweeping romance or two helped keep the loneliness at bay.

“Tell me or I’ll be forced to Skype you and see for myself.”

Glancing down at my outfit, I grimaced: black tights, a black pencil skirt, and a pilled blue knit sweater, all as old as the hills of Ashford. Not exactly the type of answer Ridge was waiting for, or the way I wanted him to picture me, after so many weeks apart. “Those stockings you like, and…”

His voice returned with a growl. “Those stockings? With the little suspenders?”

I sat back into the chair behind the counter, fussing with my bangs. “The very same.”

He groaned. “You’re killing me. Take a photo…”

“There’s no need. If you’re good, I’ll wear the red ones tomorrow night.” I grinned wickedly. Our reunions were always passionate affairs; he was a hands-on type of guy. Lucky for him, because it took a certain type of man to drag me from the pages of my books. When he was home we didn’t surface until one of us had to go to work. Loving Ridge had been a revelation, especially in the bedroom, where he took things achingly slow, drawing out every second. I flushed with desire for him.

There was a muffled voice and the low buzz of phones ringing. Ridge mumbled to someone before saying, “About tomorrow…” He petered out, regret in each syllable.

I closed my eyes. “You’re not coming, are you?” I tried not to sigh, but it spilled out regardless. The lure of a bigger, better story was too much for him to resist, and lately the gaps between our visits grew wider. I understood his work was important, but I wanted him all to myself. A permanent fixture in the small town I lived in.

He tutted. “I’m sorry, baby. There’s a story breaking in Indonesia, and I have to go. It’ll only be for a week or two, and then I’ll take some time off.”

Outside, leaves fluttered slowly from the oak tree, swaying softly, until they fell to the ground. I wasn’t the nagging girlfriend sort—times like this though, I was tempted to be. Ridge had said the very same thing the last three times he’d canceled a visit. But invariably someone would call and ask Ridge to head to the next location; any time off would be cut short.

“I understand,” I said, trying to keep my voice bright. Sometimes I felt like I played a never-ending waiting game. Would it always be like this? “Just so you know, I have a very hot date this afternoon.”

He gasped. “You better be talking about a fictional date.” His tone was playful, but underneath there was a touch of jealousy to it. Maybe it was just as hard on him, being apart.

“One very hot book boyfriend…though not as delectable as my real boyfriend—but a stand-in, until he returns.”

“Well, he better not keep you up half the night, or he’ll have me to answer to,” he faux threatened, and then said more seriously, “Things will slow down, Sarah. I want to be with you so much my soul hurts. But right now, while I’m freelance, I have to take whatever comes my way.”

“I know. I just feel a bit lost sometimes. Like someone’s hit pause, and I’m frozen on the spot.” I bit my lip, trying to work out how to explain it. “It’s not just missing you—I do understand about your job—it’s…everything. The bookshop sales dwindling, the rent jacked up, everyone going on about their business, while I’m still the same old Sarah.”

I’d been at this very crossroad when I’d met Ridge, and he’d swept me off my feet, like the ultimate romance hero. For a while that had been enough. After all, wasn’t love always the answer? Romance aside, life was a little stagnant, and I knew it was because of my fear of change. It wasn’t so much that I had to step from behind the covers of my books, rather plunge, perhaps. Take life by the scruff of the neck and shake it. But how?

“You’ve had a rough few weeks. That’s all. I’ll be back soon, and I’m sure there’s something I can do to make you forget everything…”

My belly flip-flopped at the thought. He would make me forget everything that was outside that bedroom door, but then he’d leave and it would all tumble back.

What exactly was I searching for? My friends were getting married and having babies. Buying houses and redecorating. Starting businesses. My life had stalled. I was an introvert, happiest hiding in the shadows of my shop, reading romances to laze the day away, between serving the odd customer or two—yet, it wasn’t enough. In small-town Connecticut, there wasn’t a lot to do. And life here—calm, peaceful—was fine, but that’s just it, fine wasn’t enough anymore. I had this fear that life was passing me by because I was too timid to take the reins.

It was too hazy a notion of what I was trying to say, even to me. Instead of lumping Ridge with it, I changed tack. “I hope you know, you’re not leaving the house when you get home. Phones will be switched to silent, computers forgotten, and the only time we’re leaving the comfort of bed is when I need sustenance.” A good romp around the bedroom would suffice until I could pinpoint what it was that I wanted.

“How about I sort out the sustenance?” he said, his voice heavy with desire. “And then we’ll never have to leave.”

“Promises, promises,” I said, my breath hitching. I hoped this flash of longing would never wane, the sweet torture of anticipation.

“I have to go, baby. I’ll call you tonight if it’s not too late once I’m in.”

“Definitely call tonight! Otherwise, I can’t guarantee the book boyfriend won’t steal your girlfriend. He’s pretty hot, I’ll have you know.”

“Why am I jealous of a fictional character?” He laughed, a low, sexy sound. “OK, tonight. Love you.”

“Love you too.”

He hung up, leaving me dazed, and a touch lonely knowing that I wouldn’t see him the next day as planned.

I tried to shake the image of Ridge from my mind. If anyone walked in, they’d see the warm blush of my cheeks, and know exactly what I was thinking. Damn the man for being so attractive, and so effortlessly sexy.

Shortly, the sleepy town of Ashford would wake under the gauzy light of October skies. Signs would be flipped to open, stoops swept, locals would amble down the road. Some would step into the bookshop and out of the cold, and spend their morning with hands wrapped around a mug of steaming hot tea, and reading in any one of the cozy nooks around the labyrinth-like shop.

I loved having a place for customers to languish. Comfort was key, and if you had a good book and a hot drink, what else could you possibly need to make your day any brighter? Throw rugs and cushions were littered around seating areas. Coats would be swiftly hung on hooks, a chair found, knitted blankets pulled across knees, and their next hour or two spent, in the most relaxing of ways.

I wandered around the shop, feather duster in hand, tickling the covers, waking them from slumber. I’m sure as soon as my back was turned, the books wiggled and winked at one another, as if they were eager for the day to begin, for fingers of hazy sunlight to filter through and land on them like spotlights, as if saying, here’s the book for you.

Imagine if I had to close up for good, like so many other shops had in recent times? It pained me to think people were missing out on the real-life bookshop experience. Wasn’t it much better when you could step into a dimly lit space, and eke your way around searching for the right novel? You could run a fingertip along the spines, smell that glorious old book scent, flick them open, and unbend a dog-eared page. Read someone else’s notes in the margin, or a highlighted passage, and see why that sentence or metaphor had dazzled the previous owner.

Secondhand books had so much life in them. They’d lived, sometimes in many homes, or maybe just one. They’d been on airplanes, traveled to sunny beaches, or crowded into a backpack and taken high up a mountain where the air thinned.

Some had been held aloft tepid rose-scented baths, and thickened and warped with moisture. Others had childlike scrawls on the acknowledgment page, little fingers looking for a blank space to leave their mark. Then there were the pristine novels, ones that had been read carefully, bookmarks used, almost like their owner barely pried the pages open so loath were they to damage their treasure.

I loved them all.



Excerpt from The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin. Copyright © 2015 by Rebecca Raisin. Published by HQN Books. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.




Meet the author



Rebecca Raisin is the author of several novels, including the beloved Little Paris series and the Gingerbread Café trilogy, and her short stories have been published in various anthologies and fiction magazines. You can follow Rebecca on Facebook and at http://www.rebeccaraisin.com




Connect with the author via Twitter, Facebook, her website, Instagram, and Goodreads

Book Excerpt: FATAL INVASION by Marie Force

Fatal Invasion The Fatal Series #13 by Marie Force
ISBN: 9781335000439 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781488032844 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488205453 (audiobook)
ASIN: B077ZZ212L (Kindle edition)
Publisher: HQN
Release Date: February 5, 2019


First the fire, then the heat…

A brutal home invasion. Two small traumatized survivors who may have witnessed the horror. Lieutenant Sam Holland has never worked a case quite like this one, in which her eyewitnesses are five-year-old twins. But when Sam steps up in a big way for them, she risks her heart as much as her career.

While Sam and her husband, Vice President Nick Cappuano, go to battle in more ways than one for her tiny witnesses, her colleague Sergeant Tommy “Gonzo” Gonzales battles his own demons. Months of unbearable grief and despair come to a head in an unimaginable way that threatens Gonzo’s status with the department and his relationship with his fiancée, Christina.

With trouble both at the precinct and on the case, Sam struggles to keep her priorities straight at home and at work while trying not to lose her heart to her latest crime victims.




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Sam was the first of her team to arrive on the scene of the smoldering fire that had demolished half a mansion in one of the District’s most exclusive neighborhoods.

“What’ve we got?” Sam asked the fire marshal when he met her at the tapeline.

“Two bodies found on the first floor of the house, both bound with zip ties at the hands and feet.”

And that, right there, made their deaths her problem. “Do we know who they are?”

He consulted his notes. “The ME will need to make positive IDs, but the house is owned by Jameson and Cleo Beauclair. I haven’t had time to dig any deeper on who they are.”

“Are we certain they were the only people in the house?” Sam asked.

“Not yet. When we arrived just after four a.m., the west side of the house, where the bodies were found, was fully engulfed. That was our immediate focus. We’ve got firefighters searching the rest of what was once a ten-thousand-square-foot home.”

“Any sign of accelerants?”

“Nothing so far, but we’re an hour into the investigation stage. Early days.”

“Has the ME been here?”

“Not yet.”

“Could I take a look inside?”

“It’s still hot in there, but I can show you the highlights—or the lowlights, such as they are.”

Sam followed him up the sidewalk to what had once been the front door. Inside the smoldering ruins of the house, she could make out the basic structure from the burned-out husk that remained. The putrid scents of smoke and death hung heavily in the air.

“That’s them there,” the fire marshal said, pointing to a space on the floor by a blackened stone fireplace where two charred bodies lay next to one another.

Sam swallowed the bile that surged to her throat. Nothing was worse, at least not in her line of work, than fire victims. Though it was the last thing she wanted to do, she moved in for a closer look, took photos of the bodies and the scene around them, then turned to face the fire marshal. “Anything else you think I ought to see?”

“Not yet.”

“Keep me posted.”

“Will do.”

He walked away to continue his investigation while Sam went outside, carrying the horrifying images with her as she took greedy breaths of fresh air. As she reached the curb, the medical examiner’s truck arrived. She waited for a word with Dr. Lindsey McNamara.

The tall, pretty medical examiner gathered her long red hair into a ponytail as she walked over to Sam.

“Fire victims,” Sam said, shuddering.

“Good morning to you too.”

“Hands and feet bound with zip ties.”

“Here we go again,” Lindsey said with a sigh. “Looks like it was quite a house.”

“Ten thousand square feet, according to the fire marshal.”

“I’ll get you an ID and report as soon as I can.”

“Appreciate it.” Sam opened her phone and placed a call to Malone.

“I’m at the scene of the fire in Chevy Chase.”

“What’ve you got?”

“Two DOA, bound at the hands and feet, leading me to believe this was a home invasion gone bad. I need Crime Scene here ASAP.”

“I’ll call Haggerty and get them over there.”

“I want them to comb through anything and everything that wasn’t touched by the fire, and they need to do it soon before the scene is further compromised. We’ve got firefighters all over the place.”

“Got it. What’s your plan?”

“I’m going to talk to the neighbors and find out what I can about the people who lived here while I wait for Lindsey to confirm their identity.”

“Keep me posted.”


Excerpt from Fatal Invasion by Marie Force. Copyright © 2018 by Marie Force. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission from Harlequin/MIRA.



Meet the Author



Marie Force is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance, including the indie-published Gansett Island Series and the Fatal Series from Harlequin Books. In addition, she is the author of the Butler, Vermont Series, the Green Mountain Series, and the erotic romance Quantum Series. In 2019, her new historical Gilded series from Kensington Books will debut with Duchess By Deception.

Altogether, her books have sold 7 million copies worldwide, have been translated into more than a dozen languages and have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list 29 times. She is also a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller, a Speigel bestseller in Germany, a frequent speaker and publishing workshop presenter as well as a publisher through her Jack’s House Publishing romance imprint. She is a two-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA® award for romance fiction.

Her goals in life are simple–to finish raising two happy, healthy, productive young adults, to keep writing books for as long as she possibly can and to never be on a flight that makes the news.

Join Marie’s mailing list on her website at marieforce.com for news about new books and upcoming appearances in your area.



Connect with the author via Facebook, her WebsiteTwitter, and Instagram.



Tour Stops 

Instagram Tour

Monday, November 26th: @jennblogsbooks

Tuesday, November 27th: @girlandherbooks

Wednesday, November 28th: @_ebl_inc_

Thursday, November 29th: @novelmombooks

Friday, November 30th: @sarahandherbookshelves

Saturday, December 1st: @mandyvoss

Sunday, December 2nd: @remarkablylisa


Review Tour

Monday, November 12th: Write Read Life

Tuesday, November 13th: A Holland Reads – excerpt

Wednesday, November 14th: Bewitched Bookworms

Thursday, November 15th: Becky on Books

Monday, November 19th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy

Tuesday, November 20th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, November 26th: Jathan & Heather

Tuesday, November 27th: The Book Diva Reads – excerpt

Wednesday, November 28th: What is That Book About – excerpt

Thursday, November 29th: Natalie the Biblioholic

Monday, December 3rd: Mystery Suspense Reviews

Tuesday, December 4th: The Sassy Bookster

Wednesday, December 5th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Thursday, December 6th: Stuck in Books

Friday, December 7th: Books & Bindings

Monday, December 10th: Evermore Books

Monday, December 10th: Book Twins Reviews and @booktwinsreviews1




This excerpt and blog tour brought to you by TLC Book Tours

2018 Book 324: THE BOY AT THE KEYHOLE by Stephen Giles

The Boy at the Keyhole by Stephen Giles
ISBN: 9781335652928 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781335005465 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9781488098611 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488205170 (audiobook)
ASIN: B0781P7HWF (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Release Date: September 4, 2018 


Nine-year-old Samuel lives alone in a once-great estate in Surrey with the family’s housekeeper, Ruth. His father is dead and his mother has been abroad for months, purportedly tending to her late husband’s faltering business. She left in a hurry one night while Samuel was sleeping and did not say goodbye.

Beyond her sporadic postcards, Samuel hears nothing from his mother. He misses her dearly and maps her journey in an atlas he finds in her study. Samuel’s life is otherwise regulated by Ruth, who runs the house with an iron fist. Only she and Samuel know how brutally she enforces order.

As rumors in town begin to swirl, Samuel wonders whether something more sinister is afoot. Perhaps his mother did not leave but was murdered—by Ruth.

Artful, haunting and hurtling toward a psychological showdown, The Boy at the Keyhole is an incandescent debut about the precarious dance between truth and perception, and the shocking acts that occur behind closed doors.



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It’s 1961 and it’s been a rough year for nine-year-old Samuel Clay. His father died several months ago and then his mother reportedly left in the middle of the night to return to America and seek funding to save the family’s business. She’s been gone for more than five months and Samuel’s imagination is beginning to run wild. All he has are a few postcards from his America detailing her journeys across America. But the more Samuel reviews the postcards, the more he realizes that something isn’t quite right. His mother hasn’t even called, according to the housekeeper, Ruth. Now Ruth has had to fire the last housemaid due to limited funds. Samuel’s imagination had already been running in overdrive, then his best friend, actually his only friend, Joseph Collins, tells him a story about a German housekeeper that had murdered all of the residents of the house. When Joseph begins to question whether Samuel’s mother is really in America, Samuel begins to believe that Ruth has done the unimaginable. She has murdered his mother and hidden the body. Then he believes she’s murdered not only his mother but his father as well all to keep their wealth. The only course of action for an inquisitive young boy is to begin searching for clues, as well as listening and looking through keyholes to find out the truth. Has Ruth done the unthinkable or is Samuel the high-strung and unbalanced young boy that Ruth always accuses him of being? Whose version of the truth is based in reality?

The Boy at the Keyhole by Stephen Giles was a rather fast-paced read. Samuel is a likable character and one that evoked a lot of sympathies. It’s hard to imagine a nine-year-old bereft of friends or close family, stuck in a home with a housekeeper and no word about his mother’s whereabouts or even if she’s remotely interested in how he’s doing. It was hard feeling sympathy toward Ruth, but she’s also left in a tenuous position where she’s struggling financially to maintain a household that isn’t hers and raising a child that isn’t hers either. All she can do is the best she can to provide for this child she’s grown to care for and protect him the best way she knows how. There aren’t a lot of characters in The Boy at the Keyhole as most of the action and drama is between Samuel and Ruth and occurs in the house. The ending was dark, twisted and a definite surprise (no, I won’t tell you what happened…read the book!). For those of you into dark suspense (and by dark, I mean psychologically dark not blood-guts-and-gore dark), you’ll want to grab a copy of The Boy at the Keyhole to read. If you’re not sure about dark, twisted suspense reads but are a fan of suspense reads, then I suggest you set aside your qualms and read The Boy at the Keyhole. This may not be the perfect read for everyone, but it is, perhaps, an excellent introductory read for those new to the suspense genre.


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the



Read an excerpt here.



About Stephen Giles

Stephen Giles is the Australian author behind the lauded children’s series “Anyone But Ivy Pocket”, penned under the pseudonym Caleb Krisp. The series, published in the US by HarperCollins/Greenwillow and the UK by Bloomsbury, appeared on the New York Times Best Seller List, has been translated into 25 different languages and was optioned by Paramount Pictures.

Prior to selling his first book, Stephen worked in a variety of jobs to supplement his writing including market research, film classification and media monitoring. The Boy at the Keyhole is Giles’ first work for adults and the film rights for this book have been acquired by New Regency.




Giveaway

Enter to win one (1) print copy of The Boy at the Keyhole by Stephen Giles. This giveaway runs from 12:01 AM ET on September 4, 2018, through 11:59 PM ET on September 10, 2018. The winner will be announced by 10:00 AM ET on September 11, 2018. Please use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Please note that the book will be supplied to the winner by TLC Book Tours at the conclusion of the blog tour. 

This giveaway is open to residents of the United States and Canada. Void where prohibited by law. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway





Instagram Tour
Monday, September 3rd: @bookpairings

Tuesday, September 4th: @hotcocoareads

Wednesday, September 5th: @worldswithinpages

Thursday, September 6th: @novelmombooks

Thursday, September 6th: @dropandgivemenerdy

Friday, September 7th: @biblio-files

Saturday, September 8th: @booksbeforebedtime

Sunday, September 9th: @jennblogsbooks “Sock Sunday”


Review Tour
Tuesday, September 4th: The Book Diva’s Reads

Wednesday, September 5th: Mama Reads Blog

Thursday, September 6th: Bookchickdi

Friday, September 7th: Cheryl’s Book Nook

Monday, September 10th: Literary Quicksand

Monday, September 10th: Books Before Bedtime

Tuesday, September 11th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, September 12th: Bewitched Bookworms

Thursday, September 13th: Mrs. Mommy Booknerd

Thursday, September 13th: Rockin’ Book Reviews


Monday, September 17th: Girl Who Reads

Tuesday, September 18th: Buried Under Books

Wednesday, September 19th: From the TBR Pile

Thursday, September 20th: @wherethereadergrows

Friday, September 21st: A Bookworm’s World

Monday, September 24th: ReadWonder

Tuesday, September 25th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Tuesday, September 25th: @booksncatsncoffee

Tuesday, September 25th: Books and Cats and Coffee

Wednesday, September 26th: Sweet Southern Home

Wednesday, September 26th: @lesa_cap

Thursday, September 27th: Books & Bindings

Friday, September 28th: What is That Book About



This review, giveaway, and blog tour brought to you by TLC Book Tours

2016 Book 20: TOUGH JUSTICE – EXPOSED by Carla Cassidy

Tough Justice: Exposed (Tough Justice #1) by Carla Cassidy
ISBN: 9781460393628 (ebook)
ASIN: B013OMLKIQ (Kindle version)
Publication Date: January 12, 2015
Publisher: Harlequin Special Releases


A new job. A new case. A new criminal?

Special Agent Lara Grant will do anything to get her mark – until her last undercover case, infiltrating the notorious Moretti crime ring, forced her to get close to the top. Way. Too. Close…

Now starting a new job in New York City, all Lara wants is to leave the ghosts of her past behind. Until a dramatic sniper attack leaves Lara’s face – and real name – all over the media. In the blink of an eye, her cover is blown, her identity exposed.

Then a woman’s body is found, branded with the ritual Moretti tattoo. Someone knows who Lara is…and exactly how to make her pay…

Part 1 of 8 in a chilling, high-octane FBI thriller TOUGH JUSTICE from NYT bestselling author Carla Cassidy and Tyler Anne Snell, Carol Ericson and Gail Barrett.

  

Lara Grant spent several years in deep undercover to bring down the Moretti syndicate. Her undercover work was so successful that she then had to spend a year in a safe house to protect her life. She’s just returned to work in the FBI when she’s called out to talk to a man on a ledge. A man that asked for her by name. A man she doesn’t know. After talking this criminal off the ledge, she escorts him from the building only to have him killed in front of her by a sniper. Now the entire world, including the Moretti’s, know that Lara is back at work. Lara begins work with her team of FBI agents to try and determine what link, if any, the deceased has to the Moretti syndicate. The more they dig, the more questions are raised. When an innocent jogger is found murdered in the park, it becomes clear that these crimes are linked; not only to the Moretti’s but to Lara. Can the FBI determine who is behind these crimes before another crime occurs? Is Lara a target?

Tough Justice: Exposed was an incredibly quick read, not just because of its length, but also because it is a fast-paced read. The reader gradually gets to know Lara as the investigations begin, and she is just as enigmatic as the crimes being committed. If you enjoy fast-paced suspense thrillers, then you’ll definitely want to add Tough Justice: Exposed to your reading list. Tough Justice: Exposed is the first book in the Tough Justice series. Each book will be written by a different author, but will feature the same characters and storyline. I look forward to reading the next seven installments and finding out what happens next.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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Tough Justice: Exposed (Part 1 of 8)