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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

GEEKS AND THINGS COZY MYSTERY SERIES



Pains and Penalties

A Geeks and Things Cozy Mysteries Novella #1
by
Sarah Biglow

Genre: Cozy Mystery

A new amateur sleuth is on the case in the first book of this 
Cozy Mystery novella series.


When Kalina Greystone returns home to the small town of Ellesworth, MA in
the wake of her father's passing to take over the family's comic book
shop, she never expects to reconnect with her old flame, Detective
Christian Harper. But when elderly Mrs. Davies winds up murdered at
the annual Solstice Fair, Kalina can't help but get swept up in his
investigation and solving the case. While Detective Harper runs his
investigation, she cozies up to the dead woman’s best friend, Mrs.
Grant, and learns that she and a third woman, Ms. Ellicott, might be
targets. Someone has sent them notes with the cryptic warning ‘Lying
is a mortal sin’. As Kalina digs deeper into the women’s shared
past, she unearths the perjury that sentenced an innocent man to
prison. After discovering Ms. Ellicott dead in her home, Kalina and
Detective Harper must race to unmask the killer before vengeance can be sated.


**FREE on all platforms!**




PAINS AND PENALTIES Excerpt:

The fairgrounds bustled with people stopping by vendors on both sides of the promenade, buying everything from handmade picture frames to tote bags with hand-painted waterscapes. The pastry judging tent sat at the far end of the promenade. They always did the judging early on to encourage people to buy the winning sweets. It was never that much of a real competition. Mrs. Margaret Grant always won for her blueberry and raspberry scones. It had been that way since Kalina was a little girl. Usually, Mrs. Agatha Davies also won for her European sponge cake with lemon drizzle. Kalina walked with purpose towards the judging tent until she felt a hand squeeze lightly on her wrist.
“Sorry,” she said when she saw Chris slowing her down. “I guess I still have some city habits to break.”
“It’s okay. You just don’t need to be in such a hurry. You know they announce the winners over the loudspeaker.”
She smiled sheepishly and fell into step beside him. The sun peeked out from behind a thin layer of cloud cover, highlighting thin veins of gold in Chris’s hair. For a moment she remembered them as two high school kids who thought they were in love. But that time was past. They weren’t kids anymore, maybe friends but nothing more. “So, did you ever settle down?”
“Nope. Still a bachelor. I guess I just never found the right girl. What about you?”
She shook her head. “There was a guy in college but … it didn’t end well.”
They reached the judging tent and found both Mrs. Davies and Mrs. Grant sitting behind their respective entries. Kalina bent down to place an order for Mrs. Grant’s scones and noticed another set of scones down the table manned by Andrea Nevins. She’d been a couple years ahead of Kalina and Chris in school. At the far end of the table, Captain Cahill stood beside someone Kalina didn’t recognize.
“Who is that?” She pointed at the woman.
“That’s Leslie Mayfield, Dan’s fiancée. She teaches at the elementary school. Benji is in her class.”
They moved down the table and Chris placed an order for Leslie’s apple tarts. “Good luck.”
Leslie tucked a piece of hair behind her ear, not so subtly flashing her engagement ring, and smiled big. She turned to Kalina and offered her non-bejeweled hand. “Hi, I don’t think we’ve met.”
“I’m Kalina Greystone.” They shook hands briefly. “My father used to own Geeks and Things up on Main Street. I moved back to run the store after he died.”
“Oh, right, of course.”
Dan leaned in and kissed Leslie on the cheek. “I think they’re about to start the judging.”
Kalina and Chris moved back into the crowd while the judges sampled the various sweets, concurring in low whispers and making notes on their clipboards. The town took the contest very seriously. Tension rose amongst the crowd as they awaited the announcement. At the far end of the table Mrs. Davies sat with her hands folded in her lap. Mrs. Grant shot Andrea annoyed looks as the judges handed the winning votes to the announcer, Theodore Maxwell. He cleared his throat and held the microphone too close to his mouth.
“We have the results of the baking contest. Remember, you can put an order in at any time to purchase the winning pastries. All proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior charity.”
The feedback on the speakers squealed and Kalina covered her ears along with many of the people watching. Theo held the mic further from his mouth and studied the first scrap of paper. “The winner for best fruit tart goes to Ms. Leslie Mayfield.”
Cheers went up from the crowd and Leslie grinned and waved. Captain Cahill let out a loud whistle, making his fiancée blush. He darted up to the stage and placed a huge bouquet in her arms. Theo waved his hand for quiet and the crowd settled down. “Best sponge cake, of course, goes to Mrs. Agatha Davies.” The crowd’s response was a little more subdued as Agatha stood up and took a little bow. Kalina noted the older woman’s cheeks were a bit flushed but she assumed it was just due to the excitement of yet another blue ribbon for her mantle. Beside Agatha, Mrs. Grant already had her hands on the armrest, ready to push herself up to accept the blue ribbon for her scones.
“And finally, the winner for the best scones is…” Theo stopped and turned to the judges. They nodded in unison and he faced the growing throng, clearing his throat as he did so. “The winner is Ms. Andrea Nevins.”
A hush fell over the crowd. Mrs. Grant jumped from her seat and marched toward the judges before Andrea could accept the ribbon. Chris stood beside Kalina, mouth agape as the older woman leaned in close enough to Theo’s microphone that her tirade carried across the fairgrounds.
“This is unacceptable. My scones were far better than hers.”
Andrea paled and dabbed her eyes before hurrying off the stage clutching the ribbon to her chest. A few members in the crowd patted her on the back and her older brother broke from the group to wrap an arm around her shoulders, leading her away.
“Mrs. Grant, please. This is just a friendly competition,” Theo said, trying to yank the microphone out of her reach.
She wasn’t having any of it. She waggled a finger at the judges, summoning them forward. “You three had better explain yourselves.”
From behind her, Mrs. Davies shuffled forward and tried to tug Mrs. Grant away but had no luck.
“It’s not that your scones weren’t good, Mrs. Grant. It’s just … Andy’s were better this year,” one of the judges said.
People began to disperse, no longer interested in seeing Mrs. Grant lose her temper with the judges. Kalina nudged Chris in the ribs and nodded back towards the booth. “I should probably head back to make sure AJ is doing okay.” She looked at her watch. “Besides, he’s probably looking for an early lunch.”
“No problem.”
They walked side by side back down the promenade. Kalina made a mental note to stop by some of the booths near the end of the day to pick up some early Christmas presents for her sister and mother. The Geeks and Things booth came into view and she couldn’t keep a smile from tugging at the corners of her lips. A small group of kids clamored around the table, picking up action figures and T-shirts. Money changed hands rapidly and AJ gave her a double thumbs up when he spotted her.
“Well, I’ll leave you to hawking your wares,” Chris said.
“Enjoy the rest of the fair.” She waved and slid in behind the table next to her nephew.
He blew out a breath. “Thank God you’re back. It’s been super nuts. I’m starving.”
Kalina chuckled. “Yes, yes. Go get food. Bring me back a fried dough. Extra cinnamon sugar.”
He gave her a salute and raced out of the booth and toward the refreshment tent. Kalina settled into the metal chair behind the table and waited for people passing by to stop. She didn’t have to wait long before Leslie appeared with her big smile plastered to her lips. She’d pinned the ribbon to her blouse. The bouquet was nowhere to be seen.
“Congrats again on your win,” Kalina said.
“Thanks. I’m sorry I didn’t recognize you before. I guess I’m not all that good with faces unless they are my students.”
“No worries. I left town for a while after high school. Big city dreams. Earned my business degree and worked in Boston for a few years. But I guess my heart was always back here in town.” Kalina glanced around for Captain Cahill. “Where’s your fiancé?”
“Oh, getting some drinks from the refreshment tent. We’re going to celebrate. Did you want to buy some fruit tarts?”
“Sure. I’d love to.”
Their conversation died instantly when a high-pitched shriek went up from the direction of the food. Another scream followed it. Leaving cash box and merchandise untended, Kalina took off at a sprint. Thoughts of AJ spurred her forward. Leslie stood frozen in front of the booth for thirty seconds before she followed suit. Kalina arrived at the tent to find people bunched together in a semi-circle around one of the tables. Wheezing and choking noises echoed from within the middle of group and Kalina shoved her way to the front. AJ bent over a writhing Mrs. Davies. She lay on the ground, one hand pressed to her stomach, the other gripped around her throat. She’d already started to lose color in her cheeks. AJ looked up, his facial features contorted into a mask of helpless terror, and he said, “I think she’s dead.”



Forgive and Forget

A Geeks and Things Cozy Mysteries Novella #2

Your favorite amateur sleuth is back on the case in the second 
installment of the Geeks and Things Cozy series.


Life is looking good for Kalina Greystone. Geeks and Things is thriving
and she’s even rekindled her high-school romance with Detective
Christian Harper. But her world spins off-kilter when she finds her
high school best friend, Nadine Larrabee, huddled over her father’s dead body.

Nadine fears she’s responsible for her father’s death but doesn’t
remember details. As Kalina keeps close to the investigation--certain
her friend is no killer--a horrifying family history unfolds,
providing motive for the girl Kalina once knew. Refusing to believe
Nadine is capable of such an act, Kalina peels back the layers of
family drama to find the truth.







Debts and Debtors

A Geeks and Things Cozy Mysteries Novella #3

Kalina Greystone is back for another small town, amateur mystery in the
third installment of the Geeks and Things Mystery series.


It’s Thanksgiving in the small town of Ellesworth, MA and Kalina and her
family have gathered to celebrate the holiday—their first since her
father’s passing—but all is not well when Savannah Chase,
Jillian’s college roommate appears on their doorstep. She’s
distraught over her missing husband. She just knows something’s
happened to him. Despite knowing Chris wouldn’t approve, Kalina
keeps tabs on the investigation. After all, Savannah is like family.

The investigation takes a turn for the curious when Mr. Chase’s body is
found in a foreclosed house in a area ripe for commercial
development. Kalina and Chris soon discover that Thomas had recently
changed jobs, giving up real estate for debt collection. But who
would want him dead? The more Kalina digs, the more she finds herself
in the cross-hairs of a dangerous man. She and Chris must solve the
case before she becomes the next victim.







Have and Hold

A Geeks and Things Cozy Mysteries Novella #4

Your favorite amateur sleuth is on the case in a new Geeks
and Things Cozy Mystery.


The small town of Ellesworth, MA is abuzz with the upcoming wedding of
Kalina Greystone and newly promoted Police Captain Christian Harper.
But not everyone is thrilled for the happy couple. On the morning of
Chris’s promotional ceremony, they receive a shocking package—a
severed finger wearing an engagement ring! Under the guise of
last-minute wedding preparations, Kalina questions a local jeweler
who may have sold the ring adorning the finger. In fact, he’d sold
three such rings recently. When a second finger is sent to a local
reporter and the bodies of the victims are discovered near the beach,
Kalina knows there is little time left to find the third victim. But
why target these brides-to-be? After digging deeper, she uncovers a
startling connection between the players and must race to save the
woman who is the true target of the killer’s rage.







Saints and Sinners

A Geeks and Things Cozy Mysteries Novella #5

Your favorite amateur sleuth is back for one last case in the final
installment of the Geeks and Things Cozy Mystery series.


Kalina Greystone’s life has finally fallen into place. Now happily married
and eight months pregnant, she is ready to step away from sleuthing
and give all of her time to her family and Geeks and Things.
Unfortunately, sleuthing isn’t quite done with her. On a trip to
the cemetery to visit her father’s grave, she happens upon a dead
woman’s body. Video footage reveals the killer but the case takes
one bizarre turn after the next. The woman, Verona Maxwell, shares
fingerprints with Paige Fischer, a little girl who died over fifteen
years ago in a boating accident with her twin brother, Patrick. Or
did they? The killer looks an awful lot like Patrick. Having briefly
known the twins in her youth, Kalina searches their past in the hopes
of making sense of the present. But the more she digs, the darker the
reality becomes. Systemic abuse by Paige and parental neglect rise to
the surface, making her wonder if the past isn’t as buried as
everyone was led to believe.





Sarah Biglow lives in Massachusetts with her fiancé. She is a licensed attorney
and spends her days combating employment discrimination as an
Investigator with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.


She is a self-professed TV junkie and in her spare time (what’s that?),
she runs a TV recap blog with her best friend (and sorority sister),
Jen. Sarah currently enjoys an array of TV shows including (but
definitely not limited to) Once Upon a Time, Blindspot, Chicago Fire,
Chicago Med, Chicago PD, Grimm, The Flash and Arrow. She is always on
the hunt for new shows to binge!




Follow
the tour HERE
for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!



Tuesday, February 27, 2018

WITH THIS CLICK, I THEE WED -- #GIVEAWAY







With this Click, I Thee Wed 
by Bonnie R. Paulson


"Uh, oh, what did I do?"

A lonely divorcee…

A rancher who can lose everything…

One website that matches them for marriage…

They have to learn about the importance of decisions and family or lose their one shot at love.

Stuck in a town where everyone knows her and her ex-husband, Rachel is distinctly aware of who chose his side – everyone – and who chose her side – no one. Even her hairstylist won’t schedule her.

But when she finds herself alone with a bottle of chianti and the internet, Rachel stumbles upon Clickandwed.com. The survey is easy and clicking “I Do” seems to be the magic button she’s been searching for.

Before she can snap out of her decision, she finds herself packed and flying across the country to meet her new husband.

Would her new life be better or worse than the hell she left behind?





Praise:

First, there is no cliffhanger!! That is important to me so I am assuming it is important to others as well. This is a very unusual story. it starts off with the heroine being recently divorced from her dirt bag, cheating, lying ex-husband. She has moved back home since she has nothing to show for the years of marriage - he got everything and she is depressed. She moved back in with the two people who should love her and support her no matter what. That is not the case. I have never seen two more hateful and unloving parents as these two. They belittle and do everything in their power to let her know she is nothing more than an embarrassment and a disappointment. It is very easy to hate these two.

I will start by saying that I have not read a book by Bonnie R. Paulson that I did NOT like. I love the way she writes and I love the things she writes about. I find that when I read her books that I get pulled into them and can't stop until I reach the ending.

Being afraid that happiness is something not for either of them, yet finding it. In the most delightful way makes this a fun read.








WITH THIS CLICK I THEE WED Excerpt:

I closed my eyes at the fourth or fifth round of premature fireworks booming outside. My neighbors had an overzealous streak that showed its ugliness during celebratory times. The fireworks would be gone and they’d start on homemade balloon bombs to blow in the street next. There weren’t strong enough earplugs for that.

“Well, it looks like it’s just you and me.” I tilted my wine glass back and drained the rest of my red Chianti. The movies that I had picked out lost their luster when it was just me, all alone.

Time was now counted in glasses, or maybe bottles? I’d lost count. I'd been sipping on it pretty steadily for the remainder of the night. The new year was almost there. I had only a few more minutes left to go.

Nothing had changed.

What was I doing? Why was I just sitting there eating or drinking my life away? I hadn't meant to be where I was. I didn’t want to live in my parents’ house. I didn't want to live in the same small town where people liked my ex-husband more than they liked me.

A voice over a black screen with pink text reading ClickandWed.com said, “Why are you sitting there watching TV and drinking wine?”

What? I glanced at my nearly empty glass and blinked blearily at the TV.

The voice continued. “Put down your loneliness and rediscover your purpose. Stop messing around; take the next step. Be with someone who isn't afraid of commitment.” A picture of happily smiling couples began to zoom across the screen, like a badly designed collage. “Get matched with your ideal spouse.” Another shot of the logo with a nice white text beneath it said, all candidates are verified. ClickandWed.com. Find your forever.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Author Bonnie R. Paulson


Real people, real loss, real love.

USA Today Bestselling author, Bonnie focuses on the emotional thrill of the romance, the discovery of self and the dynamic forces at play to both pull and push love growth.

With 6 children and her own eternal romance at home, Bonnie lives her own dream every day. She's spoiled with blessings and wants to share the joy of ever-after possibilities with others. Whether it's a happy-ever-after or a happy-for-now, the emotions will leave you story drunk for days, if not years.

Feel good romances with sweet twists. Or is it Sweet romances with bold twists? You decide.

You'll be able to say where you were when you closed the book. Surviving all things real and coming out better on the other side.

Some of her favorite authors are Robyn Carr, Pamela Kelley, and Christine Kingsley!







$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 3/18/18

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

THE MARQUIS AND I



Ella will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.


Trouble is no match for a lady of the extended Worthington family—except when it comes in the form of a most irresistible gentleman . . .

Lady Charlotte Carpenter’s brother-in-law has put an infamous brothel owner out of business—yet it is Charlotte who suffers the consequences. Abducted by thugs and held at an inn, she is plotting her escape when she’s suddenly rescued by a dashing gentleman. Only afterward does she realize she’s seen him before—with two courtesans! Unwilling to tarry with such a man, Charlotte makes her second escape. But it is too late to repair her reputation . . .

A known gossip has spied Charlotte’s movements, and his report is speeding through the rumor mill. Soon, everyone knows that Charlotte spent the night with Constantine, Marquis of Kenilworth. And everyone agrees the only answer is marriage—including Constantine himself, his overjoyed mother—and his mistress! But Charlotte’s abductors aren’t finished with her yet. Now Constantine will do anything to protect the spirited woman he loves and win her heart . . .

Monday, February 26, 2018

WARWICK'S MERMAID



WARWICK'S MERMAID
by ELLIE GRAY
Contemporary Romance

Date Published: 11th October 2017
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing

 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

Having escaped an abusive relationship, Chloe MacGregor is determined to put the past behind her. The little cottage high up on the cliffs overlooking the beautiful North Yorkshire town of Whitby is her safe haven, somewhere she is free to be herself.

When the arrival of her new neighbour and boss, Luke Warwick, threatens her peaceful, sheltered life, Chloe is forced to confront her past and to re-evaluate who she really is. Falling in love with Luke is not part of her plan but, to her surprise, Luke is falling for her too. The only thing preventing their happy ever after is Chloe herself. Will she ever truly learn to leave the past where it belongs?

WARWICK’S MERMAID Excerpt:

Chloe stared at the bright blue front door, not quite sure if she was willing it to open or remain shut. Cerulean Bliss. She had been drawn to the name, conjuring up images of crystal clear Mediterranean Sea, sandy beaches, and cloudless skies. Chris had appeared amused by her decision to choose the paint based on the name rather than the colour.

‘‘Babe, if you want Cerulean Bliss for the front door, Cerulean Bliss is what we’ll go for.’’

But when he’d returned from a boys’ weekend away to find Chloe had painted the door, it had been a different story. He had flown into a rage, claiming she hadn’t consulted with him on the colour and had gone behind his back, waiting until he was away to make changes to his house. That was the first time she had been on the receiving end of his anger; the first time she had been frightened and confused by his apparent about-turn on something he had previously agreed to. It hadn’t been the last time.

Chloe glanced at her watch, frowning when it showed only a minute had passed since she had last looked. The frown deepened when she lifted a hand to rub her eyebrow and saw how much her fingers were trembling. A gentle hand touched her forearm and she looked up to meet her friend’s calm gaze.

‘Don’t worry. It’s going to be fine.’

Chloe shook her head, unable to prevent her gaze from returning to the front door only twenty or so metres from where they were sitting in her car. What if he glanced around and saw her? What if he didn’t?

‘What am I doing, Bekah?’ She dropped her head in her hands, squeezing her eyes shut and immediately wincing as that small movement resulted in more pain than it should.

‘The right thing, that’s what.’ Rebekah rubbed her friend’s forearm. ‘Come on, Chloe. We talked about this.’

‘I know, I know we did.’ Chloe lifted her chin, but didn’t remove her gaze from the door. ‘I just…I keep thinking about it, over and over. He’s not always that bad, not really, and I think…I think maybe it was my fault.’

Chloe didn’t have to see her friend’s face to know she was angry; she could feel it radiating from her in waves. Rebekah remained silent and reached across to pull down the sun visor in front of Chloe, lifting up the small flap covering the vanity mirror.

‘There is nothing you could have done that would ever justify what he did to you. Nothing.’

Chloe stared at her reflection, taking in the dark purple bruise circling her left eye—now bloodshot and half-closed—the ugly graze reaching across her cheekbone and further down to the swollen and split bottom lip. Without thinking, she licked her lip. The tip of her tongue slipped over the injury, and she drew in a sharp breath at the sting it produced.

She met her gaze in the mirror once more, noting the confusion and uncertainty dulling their green hue. ‘I know. But it’s not usually this bad. He pushes me around a bit sometimes, nothing major, and he says things…you know, usually when he’s had a drink.’

‘That doesn’t make it right. You know that.’ Rebekah blew out a long breath. ‘I can’t believe you never told me.’

Chloe avoided her friend’s accusing gaze. What could she have told her? That Chris was proving her mother right? That she wasn’t woman enough for any man?

‘It doesn’t matter now anyway. I—’ She drew in a strangled breath as the front door opened and, shrinking down a little in her seat, Chloe prayed he wouldn’t glance down the street and recognise her car among all the others parked along the kerb.

As she watched, Chris locked the door before turning and sauntering along the path, tossing his keys in the air and catching them, his lips pursed as he whistled. Chloe couldn’t hear from this distance, but she knew he would be whistling the tune to whichever song had been on the radio before he left the house. She glanced at her watch once more; 8.15am on the dot. Chris was a creature of habit.

‘Bastard.’ Rebekah thumped the dashboard in obvious frustration as he got into his car without glancing left or right before driving off. ‘Look at him, acting as if he hasn’t a care in the world. You should have let Sean come round last night and hammer ten bells out of him, see how he liked it.’

Chloe gave a weak smile. ‘I don’t suppose that would have solved anything.’

They sat in silence for a few minutes before Rebekah finally opened her door. ‘So, come on then. Let’s do it.’

Chloe bit her lip and immediately winced in pain, wishing she hadn’t. Gingerly exploring her lip with her fingers, she saw they were stained with blood, and stifling a sigh, searched in her bag for a tissue.
‘What if he comes back? What if he’s forgotten something?’

‘He’s not coming back. He’s gone to work,’ said Rebekah, nodding her encouragement. ‘Come on, the sooner we get in, the sooner we get out. We’ll only be a few minutes.’

Two minutes later, Chloe unlocked the door with trembling fingers, her heart thumping painfully in her chest as she pushed it open. Cerulean Bliss. It conjured up no happy thoughts for her now. It hadn’t done from the moment Chris had returned from his weekend away. When she hesitated on the step, Rebekah gave her a gentle shove, propelling her into the hallway.

‘Hey!’

‘Well, we can’t stand in the doorway all day.’ Rebekah glanced around. ‘Okay, so where first? In here?’

Rebekah gestured to the living room but Chloe shook her head immediately. She wasn’t ready to face that room, not yet. Instead, she walked over to the bottom of the stairs and, after a moment’s hesitation, shouldered her overnight bag and ran lightly up to the first floor. Ten minutes later she reappeared and joined Rebekah, where she was waiting patiently in the hall.

‘Got everything?’

‘Almost.’ Chloe licked her lip, the sharp sting and coppery taste of blood reminding her why she was doing this. Taking a deep breath, she walked into the living room where her gaze was immediately drawn to the coffee table. It looked as tidy as ever, with the magazines and books neatly stacked in one corner. In her mind’s eye, she replayed the moment Chris had finally tipped over the edge.

It was football this time; football and beer. His team had lost and, downing his fifth can of beer, he had turned to her, obviously looking to pick a fight so he could vent his frustration. Chloe couldn’t remember what it was he had said, but she had responded non-committally before asking him if he wanted a coffee – a somewhat obvious effort to change the subject. But he hadn’t let it drop, blocking her path as she tried to walk into the kitchen. Her stomach rolled as she recalled Chris pushing his contorted face into hers as he yelled at her through gritted teeth, backing her up against the wall and knocking over the plant stand by the fireplace as he did so.

She closed her eyes. It had been her fault. If she had just let him carry on, he would have calmed down eventually. But she hadn’t. She had pushed him away, pushed at his chest as he crowded in on her. And that was all it had taken. Any ounce of self-control Chris might have had went flying through the window, just as she went flying through the air when he grabbed her hair and threw her across the room.

She could remember lying on the floor in a daze, wondering what had happened, and Chris dragging her to her feet before punching her in the face. That was when she had fallen across the coffee table, her cheek grazing the corner as it tipped over and spilled the magazines to the floor. A kick to the ribs for good measure had followed, with Chris standing over her, his breath coming in harsh rasps, before he turned away and went upstairs, hissing, ‘You’re not worth the effort.’

‘Chloe? You okay?’

Rebekah’s gentle voice broke into her thoughts and Chloe blinked, unable to speak for a moment. ‘Um… yes. I just need a couple of things from here.’

She hurried over to a bookshelf and took a handful of books before casting a final glance around the room, sick with fear that Chris might return at any moment. There was very little here that she could call hers; Chris’s minimalist taste left little room for any of her personal items. Anything she had bought herself had either mysteriously gone missing or been accidentally broken.

Sorry, babe, don’t know what happened there. Never mind, it wasn’t expensive, we’ll get you something else.

‘I think that’s it. There’s nothing else here I want.’ Following Rebekah out of the house, Chloe locked the door and posted the keys through the letterbox. With a final look along the street, she walked back to her car. She was worth more than that.


GUEST POST FROM ELLIE GRAY

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Ellie Gray

1.      The first book I ever wrote hasn’t been published. Looking back now, I can see why – it needs a lot of work. At some point in the future, I think I may re-visit it to see if it could be worked up to publishable standards. It remains the book of my heart.

2.      I have always been obsessed by Ancient Egypt and I have a beautiful, Egyptian sarcophagus standing in my conservatory at home.

3.      I am addicted to stationery and have a desk full of notebooks, sticky notes, pens etc. Hardly any of the notebooks have been written in; they’re just too beautiful to spoil by writing in them!

4.      I have recently become very interested in family history and have enjoyed researching my father’s side of the family. My great grandfather went across to India to manage a tea farm in the late 1800s with his wife and son. Some time later, they were set to return home to Scotland and my great grandmother sailed home with her children while my great grandfather stayed behind to close up his affairs. Unfortunately, he fell ill and died and was buried in India. The tea farm at Dauracherra is still there and one day I hope to be able to go and visit the area.

5.      When I was younger, I played the flute and piano. I did teach myself to play the guitar but was never particularly proficient at this.

6.      I’m getting married this year!

7.      I am determined to learn to speak Portuguese as we regularly spend our summer holidays there.

8.      Although my three published books are contemporary romance, I have also written a young adult fantasy novel which I hope to publish some day, probably under a pseudonym.

9.      I generally tend to ‘write’ the full novel in my head before I ever even start to think about putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).


10.   I have a notebook (one that I have actually allowed myself to write in!) full of ideas for different stories and novels. When I find myself at a bit of a standstill with my current work in progress, I look through the notebook and work up each of the ideas a little bit more. Working on something completely different tends to give me the boost I need to keep writing.


About the Author


I’m a contemporary romance author, published with the lovely Tirgearr Publishing, and am a proud member of the Romantic Novelist Association. I live in the beautiful East Riding of Yorkshire in the UK and, although I work full-time in the public sector, my favourite pastime, when not writing, is wandering around old stately homes.

My debut novel, BEAUTY AND THE RECLUSE, was published in February 2016, closely followed by my second, LOVE ON THE NILE, which was released in the Summer of 2016. My third novel, WARWICK'S MERMAID, was  published in October 2017.

A few random pieces of information about me:

•         Favourite TV shows – The Walking Dead, The X-Files, Nashville, Dr. Who, the Great British Bake-off.

•         Favourite Music – I’m an 80’s girl!, country, sixties, Elvis, classical (when I’m writing)

•         Favourite Food – Indian, tapas, crisps

•         Favourite Drink – black coffee (copious amounts when I’m writing), sauvignon blanc

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Friday, February 23, 2018

A RIVER OF SILENCE!






Mystery
Date Published: January 24, 2018
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing


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When Detective Winston Radhauser is awakened by a call from dispatch at 12:45a.m., it can mean only one thing—something terrible awaits him. He races to the Pine Street address. In the kitchen, Caleb Bryce, nearly deaf from a childhood accident, is frantically giving CPR to 19-month-old Skyler Sterling. Less than an hour later, Skyler is dead.

The ME calls it a murder and the entire town of Ashland, Oregon is outraged. Someone must be held accountable. The police captain is under a lot of pressure and anxious to make an arrest. Despite Radhauser’s doubts about Bryce’s guilt, he is arrested and charged with first degree murder. Neither Radhauser nor Bryce’s young public defender believe he is guilty. Winston Radhauser will fight for justice, even if it means losing his job.



A RIVER OF SILENCE Excerpt:
Prologue
1988
In only eleven minutes, Detective Winston Radhauser’s world would flip on its axis and a permanent line would be drawn—forever dividing his life into before and after. He drove toward the Pima County Sheriff’s office in Catalina, a small town in the Sonoran Desert just twelve miles north of Tucson. Through the CD speakers, Alabama sang “You’ve Got the Touch”. He hummed along.
He was working a domestic violence case with Officer Alison Finney, his partner for nearly seven years. They’d made the arrest—their collar was sleeping off a binge in the back of the squad car. It was just after 10 p.m. As always, Finney wore spider earrings—tonight’s selection was a pair of black widows he hadn’t seen before.
“You know, Finn, you’d have better luck with men if you wore sunflowers in your earlobes.”
She laughed. “Any guy intimidated by a couple 14-carat web spinners isn’t man enough for me.”
He never missed an opportunity to tease her. “Good thing you like being single.”
The radio released some static.
Radhauser turned off the CD.
Dispatch announced an automobile accident on Interstate 10 near the Orange Grove Road exit. Radhauser and Finney were too far east to respond.
Her mobile phone rang. She answered, listened for a few seconds. “Copy that. I’ll get him there.” Finney hung up, then placed the phone back into the charger mounted beneath the dashboard.
“Copy what?” he said. “Get who where?”
She eyed him. “Pull over. I need to drive now.”
His grip on the steering wheel tightened. “What the hell for?”
Finney turned on the flashing lights. “Trust me and do what I ask.”
The unusual snap in her voice raised a bubble of anxiety in his chest. He pulled over and parked the patrol car on the shoulder of Sunrise Road.
She slipped out of the passenger seat and stood by the door waiting for him.
He jogged around the back of the cruiser.
Finney pushed him into the passenger seat. As if he were a child, she ordered him to fasten his seatbelt, then closed the car door and headed around the vehicle to get behind the wheel.
“Are you planning to tell me what’s going on?” he asked once she’d settled into the driver’s seat.
She opened her mouth, then closed it. Her unblinking eyes never wavered from his. “Your wife and son have been taken by ambulance to Tucson Medical Center.”
The bubble of anxiety inside him burst. “What happened? Are they all right?”
Finney turned on the siren, flipped a U-turn, then raced toward the hospital on the corner of Craycroft and Grant. “I don’t know any details.”
TMC was a designated Trauma 1 Center and most serious accident victims were taken there. That realization both comforted and terrified him. “Didn’t they say the accident happened near the Orange Grove exit?”
“I know what you’re thinking. It must be bad or they’d be taken to the closest hospital and that would be Northwest.” She stared at him with the look of a woman who knew him almost as well as Laura did. “Don’t imagine the worst. They may not have been in a car accident. Didn’t you tell me Lucas had an equestrian meet?”
Laura had driven their son to a competition in south Tucson. Maybe Lucas got thrown. He imagined the horse rearing, his son’s lanky body sliding off the saddle and landing with a thump on the arena floor. Thank God for sawdust. Laura must have ridden in the ambulance with him.
But Orange Grove was the exit Laura would have taken on her drive home. The meet ended at 9:00 p.m. Lucas always stayed to unsaddle the horse, wipe the gelding down, and help Coach Thomas load him into his trailer. About a half hour job. That would put his family near the Orange Grove exit around ten.
The moon slipped behind a cloud and the sudden darkness seemed alive and a little menacing as it pressed against the car windows.
Less than ten minutes later, Finney pulled into the ER entrance and parked in the lot. “I’m coming with you,” she said.
He shot her a you-know-better look, then glanced toward the back seat where their collar was snoring against the door, his mouth open and saliva dribbling down his chin. It was against policy to leave an unguarded suspect in the car.
“I don’t give a damn about policy,” she said.
“What if he wakes up, hitches a ride home and takes out his wife and kids? Put him in the drunk tank. I’ll call you as soon as I know anything.” He ran across the parking lot. The ER doors opened automatically and he didn’t stop running until he reached the desk. “I’m Winston Radhauser. My wife and son were brought in by ambulance.”
The young nurse’s face paled and her gaze moved from his eyes to somewhere over his head.
With the change in her expression, his hope dropped into his shoes. He looked behind her down a short corridor where a set of swinging doors blocked any further view. “Where are they?”
It was one of those moments he would remember for a lifetime, where everything happened in slow motion.
She told him to wait while she found a doctor to talk to him, and nodded toward one of the vinyl chairs that lined the waiting room walls.
He sat. Tried to give himself an attitude adjustment. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as he thought. Laura or Lucas could be in surgery and the nurse, obviously just out of nursing school, didn’t know how to tell him.
He stood.
Paced.
Sat again. The hospital might have a policy where only a physician could relate a patient’s condition to his family.
His heart worked overtime, pumping and pounding.
When he looked up, a young woman in a lab coat with a stethoscope around her neck stood in front of him. She had pale skin and was thin as a sapling, her light brown hair tied back with a yellow rubber band. Her eyes echoed the color of a Tucson sky with storm clouds brewing. “Are you Mr. Radhauser?”
He nodded.
“Please come with me.”
He expected to be taken to his wife and son, but instead she led him into a small room about eight feet square. It had a round table with a clear glass vase of red tulips in the center, and two chairs. Though she didn’t look old enough to have graduated from medical school, she introduced herself as Dr. Silvia Waterford, an ER physician.
They sat.
“Tell me what happened to my wife and son.”
“I’m so sorry,” she said. “It was an automobile accident on Interstate 10.”
The thread of hope he held started to unravel. “Are Laura and Lucas all right? I want to see them.”
Her throat rippled as she swallowed. “There is no easy way to say this, Mr. Radhauser. I’m so sorry for your loss. But there was nothing we could do for them.”
All at once the scene bleached out. The tulips faded to gray as if a giant flashbulb had gone off in his face. The doctor was rimmed in white light. He stared at her in disbelief for a moment, praying for a mistake, a miracle, anything except what he just heard. “What do you mean there was nothing you could do? This is a Level 1 Trauma Center, isn’t it? One of the best in the state.”
“Yes. But unfortunately, medical science has its limits and we can’t save everyone. Your wife and son were both dead on arrival.”
His body crumpled in on itself, folding over like paper, all the air forced from his chest. This was his fault. Laura asked him to take the night off and go with them. Radhauser would have avoided the freeway and driven the back way home from the fairgrounds. And everything would have ended differently.
He looked up at Dr. Waterford. What was he demanding of her? Even the best trauma center in the world couldn’t bring back the dead.
There was sadness in her eyes. “I’m sure it’s not any comfort, but we think they died on impact.”
He hung his head. “Comfort,” he said. Even the word seemed horrific and out of place here. Your wife and son were both dead on arrival. Nine words that changed his life in the most drastic way he had ever imagined.
“May I call someone for you? We have clergy on staff if you’d like to talk with someone.”
A long moment passed before he raised his head and took in a series of deep breaths, trying to collect himself enough to speak. “No clergy, unless they can bring my family back. Just tell me where my wife and son are.” His voice sounded different, deeper—not the same man who went to work that evening.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “But when deaths occur in the ER, we have to move them down to the morgue.”
Radhauser stood. Beneath his anguish, a festering anger simmered. Laura was a good driver. He was willing to bet she wasn’t at fault. More than anything now, he needed someone aside from himself to blame.
Outside, a siren wailed, then came to an abrupt stop. The sound panicked Radhauser as he headed for the elevator, waited for the door to open, then got inside. He pushed the button to the basement floor. He’d visited this hospital morgue once before to identify a fellow police officer shot in a robbery arrest gone bad. The door opened and he lumbered down the empty hallway.
As he neared the stainless steel door to the morgue, a tall, dark-haired man in a suit exited. At first Radhauser thought he was a hospital administrator. The man cleared his throat, flipped open a leather case and showed his badge. “I’m Sergeant Dunlop with the Tucson Police Department. Are you Mr. Radhauser?”
“Detective Radhauser. Pima County Sheriff’s Department.”
Dunlop had a handshake Radhauser felt in every bone in his right hand. “I’m so sorry for your loss, Detective.”
“Are you investigating the accident involving my wife and son?” Radhauser looked him over. Dunlop wore a pin-striped brown suit with a yellow shirt and a solid brown tie—the conservative uniform of a newly-promoted sergeant. The air around them smelled like antiseptic and the industrial solvent used to wash floors. “Have you determined who was at fault?”
Dunlop hesitated for an instant. “Yes, I’m the investigating officer. From the eyewitness reports, your wife was not to blame. A Dodge pickup was headed south in the northbound lane of Interstate 10 near the Orange Grove exit. No lights. He hit her head-on.”
Radhauser cringed. The image cut deep. “Was he drunk?”
“I need to wait for the blood alcohol test results to come back.”
The anger building inside Radhauser got closer to the surface every second. Silence hung between them like glass. He shattered it. “Don’t give me that bullshit. You were on the scene. What did you see? What did the breathalyzer read?”
Dunlop’s silence told Radhauser everything he needed to know. “Did the bastard die at least?”
“He was miraculously uninjured. But his twin boys weren’t so lucky.” Dunlop’s voice turned flat. “They didn’t make it.” He winced, and a tide of something bitter and hopeless washed over his face. “The idiot let them ride in the pickup bed. Five fucking years old.”
“What’s the idiot’s name?”
“You don’t need to know that right now.”
Biting his lip, Radhauser fought against the surge of rage threatening to flood over him. “Who are you to tell me what I need to know? It’s not your wife and kid in there. Besides, I can easily access the information.”
Dunlop handed him a card. “I know you can. But you have something more important to do right now. We can talk tomorrow.” He draped his arm over Radhauser’s shoulder the way a brother or a friend might do.
The touch opened a hole in Radhauser’s chest.
“Say goodbye to your wife and son,” Dunlop said, then turned and walked away.
In the morgue, after Radhauser introduced himself, a male attendant pulled back the sheet covering their faces. There was no mistake.
“Do you mind if I sit here for a while?” Radhauser asked.
“No problem,” the attendant said. “Stay as long as you want.” He went back to a small alcove where he entered data into a computer. The morgue smelled like the hallway had, disinfectant and cleaning solution, with an added hint of formaldehyde.
Radhauser sat between the stainless steel gurneys that held Laura and Lucas. Of all the possible scenarios Radhauser imagined, none ended like this.
Across the room, two small body bags lay, side by side, on a wider gurney. The twin sons of the man who killed his family.
The clock on the morgue wall kept ticking and when Radhauser finally looked up at it, four hours had passed. He tried, but couldn’t understand how Laura and Lucas could be in the world one minute and gone the next. How could he give them up? It was as if a big piece of him had been cut out. And he didn’t know how to go on living without his heart.

###

For an entire year afterwards, Radhauser operated in a daze. He spent the late evening hours playing “For the Good Times” on Laura’s old upright piano. It was the first song they ever slow danced to and over their fourteen years together, it became their own.
He played it again and again. The neighbors complained, but he couldn’t stop. It was the only way he could remember the apricot scent of her skin and how it felt to hold her in his arms on the dance floor.
Night after night, he played until he finally collapsed into a fitful sleep, his head resting on the keyboard. The simple acts of waking up, showering, making coffee, and heading to work became a cruel pretense acted out in the cavernous absence of his wife and son.

INTERVIEW WITH SUSAN CLAYTON–GOLDNER

Is There a Message in Your Novel That You Want Readers to Grasp?

A RIVER OF SILENCE is about a hearing-impaired man, Caleb Bryce, who is falsely accused and imprisoned for the murder of a 19-month old child. This is the 3rd book in my Detective Radhauser series. Because of pressure from both the small community of Ashland and his boss, Captain Murphy, Radhauser makes the arrest, but remains convinced Caleb Bryce is innocent. With the help of a young public defender, who wants to prove herself to her father, a world-renown criminal defense attorney, they set out to find the real killer and free Bryce.
The novel deals with issues of abandonment and the effects it has on the child even after he reaches adulthood. It also deals with alcoholism and its aftermath which can cling to the lives it affected for decades. Mental illness and disabilities is also a theme. And the book shows us that sometimes a person who is mentally challenged sees life in a more beautiful way than those of us who are “normal.”
I’d also like to say that I’m so grateful to my readers. I had no idea how much it would mean to me to have a reader write a review or send me an e-mail about how much they enjoyed the book. It means more to me than royalties—just to know someone enjoyed and was moved by my story.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Writing is hard work. It takes dedication and a willingness to spend long hours in isolation. There are times when family issues get in the way. Balancing can be difficult. And I’m often torn. I want to be the best possible wife, mother and grandmother. But I’m also driven to be the best storyteller I can be.

How many books have you written and which is your favorite?

I’ve written 8 novels so far. I’d say my favorite is A BEND IN THE WILLOW because, more than any other of my books, this one draws from my life, what I’ve learned, what I’ve loved and what I regret.


If You had the chance to cast your main character from Hollywood today, who would you pick and why?

I would choose Timothy Olyphant (from the Elmore Leonard Netflix series, Justified) to play Winston Radhauser because of his rugged good looks and the way he fills out a pair of jeans and a Stetson.

When did you begin writing?

I don’t think I decided to become a writer. I believe I was born a writer. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. Let’s face it, writing is isolating and doesn’t pay very well. I’m not sure many people would choose to write if they could avoid it or were of sane mind. When I was a little girl, my father won a Smith Corona portable typewriter in a poker game. He gave it me. It came with 45 rpm records guaranteed to have you typing. It was the beginning of my life as a writer. I taught myself how to type with the help of those records and starting writing poems and stories. I’ve never stopped. I went back to college after my children started school. This time I majored in creative writing.


How long did it take to complete your first book?

It generally takes me about a year to complete a novel. I’m trying to work faster these days because I now have a publisher and that has changed everything. I recently read a book about a woman who’d taken her productivity from 2,000 to 10,000 words per day. She gave me some very helpful hints about writing faster. And I strive to get 2,000 words a day now. It doesn’t always happen, but I am writing faster than in the past.


Did you have an author who inspired you to become a writer?

I believe the first book I ever read that inspired me to be a writer was TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. I was a child when I read it, but it remains my favorite book. Atticus Finch was such a wonderful character. He fought hard for what was right, for what he believed in, even though he knew victory was impossible. He was a man you never forget. He touched my life. I wanted to touch the lives of others by creating my own memorable characters.


What is your favorite part of the writing process?

The best part of the writing process for me is when I get totally immersed in the fictive dream and all concepts of time disappear. People ask me if it is lonely being a writer and sitting in front of a computer screen for hours on end. Yes, it can be. But once the dream has captured you, it is thrilling, filled with excitement and adventure, and there is absolutely nothing I’d rather be doing.


Describe your latest book in 4 words.

Mysterious, heart-wrenching and human.


Can you share a little bit about your current work or what is in the future for your writing?

I have just completed the edits and handed off a stand-alone novel to Tirgearr Publishing. It is entitled THE GOOD SHEPHERD and is the story of a priest who falls in love with one of his parishioners and she ends up being murdered. I suspect it will release sometime in the summer of 2018.

I’m also working on the 4th book in the Detective Winston Radhauser series. It is entitled, A RIVER OF SHAME and it is about the murders of two high school students in what appears to be hate crimes.

About the Author


Susan Clayton-Goldner was born in New Castle, Delaware and grew up with four brothers along the banks of the Delaware River. She has been writing poems and short stories since she could hold a pencil and was so in love with writing that she was a creative writing major in college.

Prior to an early retirement which enabled her to write full time, Susan worked as the Director of Corporate Relations for University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona. It was there she met her husband, Andreas, one of the deans in the University of Arizona's Medical School. About five years after their marriage, they left Tucson to pursue their dreams in 1991--purchasing a 35-acres horse ranch in the Williams Valley in Oregon. They spent a decade there. Andy rode, trained and bred Arabian horses and coached a high school equestrian team, while Susan got serious about her writing career.  

Through the writing process, Susan has learned that she must be obsessed with the reinvention of self, of finding a way back to something lost, and the process of forgiveness and redemption. These are the recurrent themes in her work.


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