Sep 102019
 

The Deception

by Kat Martin

September 10, 2019 Book Blast

Synopsis:

The Deception by Kat Martin

“Fans of romantic suspense won’t be able to put this book down until the final page is turned.”―Publishers Weekly on The Deception

When missing turns to murdered, one woman’s search for answers will take her to a place she never wanted to go…

After searching for her sister for two long years, Kate Gallagher is devastated when she’s called to the morgue to identify Chrissy’s body, the runaway teen the victim of a brutal attack. Guilt and grief send Kate into a tailspin. She failed Chrissy once…she won’t do it again. Even if finding her sister’s killer means following a lethal bounty hunter into the heart of darkness, placing both their lives in danger.

Working at Maximum Security has taken Jason Maddox down some dangerous paths, but never for a client he’s so drawn to, or for a case so monstrous. As clues lead them deeper into the city’s underbelly, connections to human trafficking draw them closer and closer to peril, but even Jase’s warnings can’t convince Kate to walk away. As the deadly operation puts a target on their backs, they’ll have to decide what matters most: the truth…or their lives.

Book Details:

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Published by: Harlequin Books
Publication Date: September 10th 2019
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 1488054320 (ISBN13: 9781488054327)
Series: Maximum Security #2
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Jason Hawkins Maddox sat at the old-fashioned long bar in the Sagebrush Saloon, a country-western hangout with a live band for dancing on the weekends and a jukebox that served the same purpose the rest of the week. The place, out I-30 on Bruckner Boulevard, was a spot Jase had been to before but not for a couple of years.

He was there tonight on business, meeting an informant he hoped would give him a lead on the fugitive he was hunting.

Randall Darren Harding, a cement contractor, had been arrested for the brutal murder of his ex-girlfriend. He’d been out on bail when he’d decided to flee instead of standing trial, where most likely he would have been convicted.

On the outskirts of Dallas, he’d had a firefight with police, shot two sheriff’s deputies and escaped. The guy was tough. He wouldn’t go down easy.

From what Jase could find out, Harding was a rotten, self-centered, mean-tempered bastard, the kind who could wind up killing again. He’d strangled his girlfriend in a fit of rage, but a fancy lawyer had gotten him out on bail.

Jase had a warrant for Harding’s arrest—rearrest, technically, since the guy had already been charged with murder-one, the premeditated kind that could earn you the death penalty in Texas.

The reward for catching him was a fat 15 percent of his million-and-a-half-dollar bond. Jase planned to collect.

Thus his meeting with Tommy Dieter at the Sagebrush Saloon.

It was relatively early, a little after 9:00 p.m., but the place was already more than half full. A big dance floor dominated the interior, surrounded by a sea of wooden tables. Being Wednesday, there was no band, but the juke was belting Willie Nelson so a few couples two-stepped out on the floor.

It was a decent place, not one of the rat holes he occasionally frequented for information, the crowd a mix of cowboys and bikers, couples of various ages, and a smattering of tourists, there to try some real Texas line dancing.

From the mirror in the carved oak back bar across from him, Jase could keep an eye on the front door and watch for Tommy’s arrival. Between a row of liquor bottles, he could see himself on a bar stool next to a little guy in a blue Texas Rangers baseball cap. The little guy made Jase look even bigger than his six-foot-four-inch, 210-pound frame, a size that in his job often came in handy.

So far Tommy hadn’t shown, but he wasn’t due for another few minutes. In the meantime, Jase was enjoying the local scenery, his attention fixed on the tall blonde with the pretty face, sexy curves and amazing cleavage, but then half the guys in the bar were watching her.

In a short denim skirt, a pair of cowboy boots and a bright pink tank top, she had danced to five songs in a row. Jase figured as long as her stamina held out, she wouldn’t lack for partners. If he weren’t there on business, he might have asked her for a turn around the floor himself.

The blonde finished the dance and sat back down on a bar stool a ways down from him. He noticed she was drinking tequila shooters. Looked like someone was going to get lucky tonight. Hearing the throaty purr of her laughter, he felt a tug in his groin and couldn’t help wishing it was him.

The front door swung open and Tommy Dieter walked in. Jase tossed money for the Lone Star he’d been drinking on top the bar. Time to go to work.

Tommy spotted him and walked over to the bar. “Hey, Hawk.” It was a nickname Jase had picked up thanks to his middle name. They called him the Hawk because he swooped down on his prey and always got his man. Or so the story went.

“Tommy.” He was a slender guy in his early twenties with carrot-red hair, not a bad sort, but he hung with a bad crowd, which gave him access to a lot of dirt, and he was hungry enough to deal the info for money.

Jase nodded toward an empty table at the back of the bar, and the two of them made their way past a pool table where a couple of cowboys clacked balls across a sea of green.

Tommy and Jase both pulled out chairs and sat down at the battered wooden table. Jase didn’t ask Tommy if he wanted a beer. It wasn’t healthy for an informant to spend too much time with a guy who hunted people for a living.

“You got something on Harding for me?” Jase asked.

“Yeah. Randy has a girlfriend in Houston,” Tommy said. “Mexican girl. No papers. She keeps him happy. He pays her rent.”

“What’s her name?”

“Rosa Diaz. She’s got a brother in town. A mechanic named Paulo.”

“You think Randy’s still in Houston? I figured he’d leave the state, head for Arizona, maybe, or New Mexico.”

“Word is he’s got the serious hots for Rosa. According to Randy, she’s a great piece of ass.”

The words sent Jase’s gaze back to the blonde who had returned to the dance floor with a lanky biker too short for her, too skinny and a few years too young.

She wasn’t meant for the boy biker, but she was just Jase’s type, luscious, with legs that went on forever. And, as she slid her arms around the boy biker’s neck and he pulled her close, clearly uninhibited. It didn’t take much to imagine the way she’d feel moving beneath him.

Jase ignored a surge of heat and forced his mind back to business. “If Randy’s that close, you’d think the cops would already have him in custody.”

“I don’t think the cops know anything about the girl.”

Probably not. They had their hands full without having to arrest the same guy twice.

Jase reached into the pocket of his black T-shirt, plucked out a folded-up hundred-dollar bill and slid it across the table to Dieter. “Let me know if you come up with anything else.”

Tommy snagged the hundred. “Good luck,” he said. “I hope you nail this prick. What he did to that girl…fucker deserves to fry.”

Jase made no comment since he completely agreed. One of the perks of the job was bringing dicks like Harding to justice.

As Tommy walked away, Jase noticed his seat at the bar was still empty. Since he wasn’t ready to leave, he picked up his beer and headed back the way he’d come.

He watched the blonde as he passed the dance floor. He’d been watching her all evening. The good news was, she’d been watching him, too.

When the song came to an end, she left the boy biker and walked toward him, stopped right in front of his bar stool, the heels on her boots pushing her closer to his height.

She smiled. “You like to dance, cowboy?”

***

Excerpt from The Deception by Kat Martin. Copyright 2019 by Kat Martin. Reproduced with permission from HQN Books. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Kat Martin

Top ten New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara. Residing with her Western-author husband, L.J. Martin, in Missoula, Montana, Kat has written 70 Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. More than 17 million of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Kat is currently hard at work on her next novel.

Catch Up With Kat Martin Online:
www.katmartin.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

 

Tour Participants:



 

 

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Kat Martin. There will be one (1) winner. The winner will receive an Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on September 10, 2019 and runs through September 19, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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Sep 092019
 

Strands of Truth

by Colleen Coble

on Tour September 9 – October 4, 2019

Synopsis:

Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble

Strands of Harper Taylor’s childhood are resurfacing—but will the truth save her . . . or pull her under?

Harper Taylor is used to being alone— after all, she grew up in one foster home after another. Oliver Jackson finally took her under his wing when she was a runaway teenager, and now Harper pours her marine biology knowledge into Oliver’s pen shell research. But she’s never stopped wishing for a family of her own.

So when a DNA test reveals a half-sister living just two hours away, Harper is both hopeful and nervous. Over warm cinnamon rolls, Harper and Annabelle find striking similarities in their stories. Is it just a coincidence that both their mothers died tragically, without revealing Harper and Annabelle’s father’s name?

Oliver’s son Ridge still sees Harper as a troubled teen even all these years later. But when Oliver is attacked, Ridge and Harper find themselves working together to uncover dangerous secrets that threaten to destroy them all. They must unravel her past before they can have any hope for the future.

Book Details:

Genre: Romantic Supsense
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: September 10th 2019
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 0718085906 (ISBN13: 9780718085902)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble is a USA TODAY bestselling author and RITA finalist best known for her coastal romantic suspense novels, including The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, and the Lavender Tides, Sunset Cove, Hope Beach, and Rock Harbor series.

Guest Post
Five Fun Character Facts from Strands of Truth

Harper and Annabelle discover through DNA testing that they’re half-sisters. They have the same father but different mothers. The kicker is that neither of them know that father’s identity, though they’d each hoped for clarity when they finally meet.

I don’t have a blood sister, though I have friends who are as close as a sister could be. Does blood tell when it comes to likes and dislikes in real life? I think I want to see how it plays out in fiction!

Harper

1. Harper dislikes cooking. She’d starve if her best friend didn’t constantly stop by with food. Research is much more interesting to her than something as mundane (in her mind) as cooking and eating. Her favorite meal is fondue.

2. Harper has a strong creative streak that she expresses by making sea silk—a fabric made from the sticky strands of a pen shell.

3. Her longing for family comes through in her taste for movies and novels. On her bookshelf you’ll find every Kristin Hannah book published, and her copy of The Nightingale is dogeared and stained. Her favorite movie is The Pursuit of Happyness, mostly because of Gardner’s great love for his son and all he goes through to provide for him.

4. At the top of Harper’s bucket list is a trip to Italy, specifically Sardinia. She longs to meet the last known artisan of sea silk, an Italian woman named Chiara Vigo.

5. In spite of her love for the sea, Harper is afraid of stingrays. She makes sure to give them a wide berth when diving or snorkeling.

Annabelle

1. Annabelle loves to cook. She believes in showing love by taking care of people, and her chocolate chip cookies are famous. She loves Mexican food.

2. Her creativity comes through with interior design. Her special style, a kind of coastal casual, is sought after in central Florida. Until she finds some of her dead mother’s belongings, she had no idea she inherited that creative gene.

3. Annabelle is a romantic. She had a great marriage to her husband, and she’s very close to her two boys. On her nightstand is a dog-eared copy of Surrender Bay by Denise Hunter and The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. Her favorite movie is The Princess Bride.

4. Someday Annabelle wants to dip a toe in the cold waters of Lake Superior. Her husband grew up along its banks in Eagle River, but she’s never seen it. Her sons have promised to take her as soon as she finishes her cancer treatment.

5. Annabelle is afraid of drowning and never goes into the sea. She nearly drowned once when she was a little girl, and she’s never been able to overcome that fear.

So there you have it! Are you and your sister alike or very different?

Connect with Colleen online at:
colleencoble.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @ColleenCoble
Twitter – @colleencoble
Instagram – @colleencoble
Facebook – @colleencoblebooks!

 

Read an excerpt:

Prologue

January 1990

St. Petersburg, Florida

Lisa ran to her Datsun Bluebird and jerked open the yellow door. Her pulse strummed in her neck, and she glanced behind her to make sure she wasn’t being followed. She’d tried not to show fear during the confrontation, but it was all she could do not to cry. She couldn’t face life without him.

She’d been on edge ever since yesterday.

Twilight backlit the treetops and highlighted the hanging moss. Instead of finding it beautiful, she saw frightening shadows and shuddered. She slid under the wheel and started the engine, then pulled out of her driveway onto the road.

She turned toward the Gulf. The water always calmed her when she was upset—and she had crossed upset moments ago and swerved into the scared zone.

Her belly barely fit under the wheel, but this baby would be born soon, then she’d have her figure back. She accelerated away from her home, a dilapidated one-story house with peeling white paint, and switched on her headlights.

The radio blared full of the news about the Berlin Wall coming down, but Lisa didn’t care about that, not now. She switched channels until she found Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’ ”playing, but even her favorite tune failed to sooth her shattered nerves. Could she seriously be murdered over this? She’d glimpsed madness in those eyes.

She pressed the brakes as she came to a four-way stop, but the brake pedal went clear to the floor. She gasped and pumped the pedal again. No response. The car shot through the intersection, barely missing the tail end of another vehicle that had entered it before her.

Hands gripping the steering wheel, she struggled to keep the car on the road as she frantically thought of a way to bring it to a stop that didn’t involve hitting another car or a tree. The baby in her belly kicked as if he or she knew their lives hung suspended in time.

“We’re going to make it, little one. We have to. I can’t leave you alone.” No one would love her baby if she died. Her mother couldn’t care for her child. She cared more about her drugs than anything else.

Lisa tried to tamp down her rising emotions, but she’d never been so frightened. The car fishtailed on the sandy road as she forced it back from the shoulder. Huge trees lined the pavement in a dense formation. Where could she drive off into relative safety? A field sprawled over on the right, just past the four-way stop ahead. If she made it through, it seemed the only place where they might survive.

Had the brakes been cut? What else could it be? She’d just had the car serviced.

Lisa approached the stop sign much too fast. The slight downhill slope had only accelerated the speed that hovered at nearly seventy. Her mouth went bone dry.

***

Taken from “Strands of Truth” by Colleen Coble. Copyright © 2019 by Colleen Coble. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/.

 

 

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Sep 052019
 

Fatal Strike

by DiAnn Mills

on Tour September 1-30, 2019

Synopsis:

Fatal Strike by DiAnn Mills

There’s a killer on the loose in Galveston, targeting law enforcement officials and using a fatal injection of snake venom to take them down. Authorities have reasons to believe the Veneno gang is behind the hits, and FBI Agents Leah Riesel and Jon Colbert team up to track down those responsible. Their best lead is an eyewitness who identifies a young man dumping the third body on a church doorstep. But their suspect has gone into hiding, and those closest to him are reluctant to reveal anything that might help investigators find him.

As Leah and Jon check connections among the victims and dig deeper into motives, they discover appearances may be deceiving. Someone is desperate to keep their secrets hidden, and Leah and Jon must face their greatest fears in order to stop the next fatal strike.

Book Details:

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Published by: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication Date: September 3rd 2019
Number of Pages: 400
ISBN: 1496427106 (ISBN13: 9781496427106)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

DiAnn Mills

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She weaves memorable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure?

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Mountainside Marketing Conference, and the Mountainside Novelist Retreat with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

Guest Post

10 things the reader doesn’t
know about Leah and Jon

Leah

1. I have a collection of steampunk costumes, and I’ve made many of my own hats.
2. I like to design steampunk jewelry.
3. While I have a problem with how my parents and I handled the adoption of my siblings, and I’m sure I would also make mistakes, I’d like the opportunity to adopt children from other countries.
4. When I began training at Quantico, I was the worst shot. But I didn’t let my lack of skill stop me. I practiced at every opportunity until I reached the top of my class in marksmanship.
5. I never met a cupcake I didn’t like—all flavors, even weird ones that are supposed to be healthy but smell and taste a little funky.

Jon
1. I can be bossy, but I’m working on it. With Leah’s marksmanship skills, I don’t want to make her mad.
2. If a woman chooses to spend one on one time with me, I’m impressed.
3. I’ve like to have my PhD in Criminal Justice
4. I almost drowned when I was ten years old during a family outing. The next day and for 10 days afterward, my dad made me swim to eliminate my fear.
5. I’m not big on chocolate. I’d rather have a fruit dessert.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on:

diannmills.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Read an excerpt:

SPECIAL AGENT LEAH RIESEL scanned the headlines on her phone. A prosecutor from Galveston had been found murdered behind a construction site, the second apparent victim of gang violence in two days. Both deaths were caused by rattlesnake venom injections to the heart. Before she could pull up additional reports on the woman’s untimely death, Leah’s phone
rang.

“Riesel, hostage situation in Galveston,” the SWAT commander said. “Grab your gear. The chopper takes off in five.”

“On it.” She took a last lingering look at the half-eaten blueberry donut and coffee on her cubicle’s desk.

Could this have anything to do with the two murders in Galveston?

Before most of the city began the workday, Leah boarded a Little Bird helicopter beneath whirling blades and the pressure of a critical operation. Dressed in full camo and shouldering her sniper gear, she inhaled the rising temps. Feverish Houston. With the familiar air transport sounds ushering in memories of past missions, her adrenaline kicked in.

A pilot from the tactical helicopter unit lifted the chopper into the air for the twenty-minute ride to Galveston. She recognized him from previous assignments involving aircraft used to deliver SWAT and the elite hostage rescue teams to crisis incidents. This morning her focus eliminated any chitchat.

Leah grabbed sound-canceling headphones and contacted the SWAT commander already on the ground. “Riesel here. Special Agent in Charge Thomas briefed me on a home invasion that’s turned violent.”

The SAC would be watching the operation at the Crisis Management Operations Center.

“Negotiations have gotten us nowhere.” The SWAT commander’s voice rose above the chopper’s blade-snap. “Two unidentified men are holding two women and three children at gunpoint. Galveston PD estimates they’ve been inside the home for at least an hour. Demanding we leave the area after giving them five hundred grand and a gassed-up speedboat.
Clock is ticking with forty minutes max. We’ve backed off as far as they know.”

Leah swiped through pics taken with telephoto lenses and sent to her phone. Each ski-masked man held a child as a shield. Leah detested the savagery and the horrific emotions the hostages
must be feeling.

“We’re located on San Luis Pass Road on the western section of the island. Nearest house is five hundred yards away. Owners are in Europe. We’re in contact with the agency managing it.”
She didn’t need a key to access the home.

The SWAT commander continued. “One of the hostages is the owner of the home, Amanda Barton.”

“Is there a Mr. Barton in the picture?”

“Divorced. Lives in California.”

Unlikely the ex-husband was behind this.

“Agent Jon Colbert will be on scene shortly,” the commander said. “He had a deposition early this morning in Texas City and drove on to Galveston. Over the weekend, his SWAT partner had emergency knee surgery. Out for six weeks.”

And Leah’s partner had left the city yesterday on vacation.

The luck of the draw meant she and Jon would be working together. “I’ll contact you as soon as we land.”

Jon Colbert, a sniper who had excellent marksmanship and a stellar reputation, also worked organized crime. But she and Jon had never worked together. The idea of teaming up with an agent she barely knew made her uneasy. If a sniper mission required a partner, she preferred an established relationship where she would know how the person processed information.

Shoving aside her doubts, she narrowed her thoughts on what lay ahead. The precarious situation and local law enforcement’s inability to negotiate added up to why she and Jon had
been assigned to the case.

She grasped her backpack, lighter than usual with only a spotting scope, ammo, water, communication equipment, extra batteries, granola bar, and a handheld radio. Her Glock, as comfortable in her right hand as a toothbrush, found its spot in her back waistband. She touched her H-S Precision heavy tactical rifle.

The sooner she got to Galveston, the sooner she could provide intelligence and help neutralize the circumstances. Her priority was seeing the women and children freed from these ruthless men.

* * *

Jon received a text from Special Agent in Charge Thomas that Leah Riesel had left the Houston FBI office and was en route to Galveston. He’d met her a few times, and they’d qualified
together. Attractive woman—dark-brown hair, light-olive skin, New Yorker with the accent to prove it. Her professionalism in the violent crime division wavered between exceptional and extraordinary. A touch of toughness. Jon had heard not to make her mad—she had earned the nickname Panther for a reason. He remembered her stats—number three in the US for distance shots. Good thing he wasn’t easily intimidated.

Once the chopper landed, Leah would be transported in an unmarked car to a vacant house more than a quarter of a mile away from the Barton home. No point in making the two men more trigger-happy when they’d warned law enforcement to back off.

The SWAT commander spoke through Jon’s radio attached to his collar. “Thermal imaging confirms four adults and three children inside the Barton home. The men claim they’ll kill the
children first. We have fifteen minutes.”

In Galveston, Jon stopped at Broadway and Sixty-First Street. Tourists persisted in the middle of the thoroughfare, pushing strollers, riding surrey bikes, and enjoying the day. Some were dressed for the beach and others clutched what they needed for their excursion. All hindered his turn. Obstacles in his mission. If they knew the situation not far from them, they’d grab their loved ones and speed home. Each moment delayed his shot and shoved the hostages closer to death. A chilling composure took over his emotional, mental, and physical reactions. The busy street finally cleared. Jon turned west onto Seawall Boulevard and drove on to San Luis Pass. The hostage site was four and a half miles beyond there.

Were the two men inside the Barton home wannabes looking to make a name for themselves? Strung out on drugs? Was this a personal vendetta? No matter how this ended—either a surrender or he’d be instructed to take a shot— their moment in history would likely be the lead story on tonight’s news. His phone alerted him to an incoming call. He responded
before the first ring ended. “Colbert.” The chopper’s rhythmic whir reverberated through his phone.

“Riesel here. Landing in five at Galveston Island State Park. SWAT commander has given me a location on the west side of the Barton home.”

“I’ll be on foot by then. Taking a position on the east, beach side.”

“I’ll need seven minutes to get into place,” she said.

“Okay.” No need to remind her of the ticking clock.

He touched End and whipped his truck onto a beach-access road where police officers had instructed residents to shelter in place. He switched off the engine. Grabbing his gear, he bolted
down the beach. A Galveston police officer stopped him, and Jon handed him his ID. Seconds later, he moved toward his site.

A sultry breeze blew across the water, and he recalculated his shot.
Crouching low, he moved past police SWAT standing guard.

FBI SWAT held the position Riesel was headed for. They were racing against time, a commodity that stopped for nothing or no one. At any moment, one of the armed men could pull the
trigger on those inside the Barton home.

Restraint.

Control.

Tense muscles relaxed. His heartbeat slowed.

A clear head laid out the steps before the kill shot.

No mistakes.

Precision.

Accuracy.

A chance for the women and children to live another day.

Near a sand dune, he tuned out the occasional seagull and the waves rushing against the shore. After wiping the sweat from his hands on his pants, Jon set up his rifle and scope,
activated his radio, and spoke to the SWAT commander and Leah Riesel.

***

Excerpt from Fatal Strike by DiAnn Mills. Copyright © 2019 by DiAnn Mills. Reproduced with permission from DiAnn Mills. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for DiAnn Mills. There will be 2 winners each winning one (1) Gift Card (choice of Amazon or B&N). The giveaway begins on September 1, 2019 and runs through October 2, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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Aug 292019
 

Eye for Eye

by JK Franko

on Tour July 22 – September 20, 2019

Eye for Eye by JK Franko

 

“NEW TWIST ON STRANGERS ON A TRAIN”
~ THE SUNDAY TIMES

Roy and Susie are on a skiing holiday, trying to take a break from the constant reminders of their daughter, tragically killed by a careless driver. Out of the blue they meet Deb and Tom, another couple with a tragic past and a shocking proposal to put things right.

As the bodies accumulate, secrets are revealed and alliances crumble. Ultimate survival depends on following the rules for a perfect murder. And the first rule is… leave no singing bones.

 

Book Details:

Genre: Crime & Mystery
Published by: Talion Publishing
Publication Date: June 22nd 2019
Number of Pages: 400
ISBN: 1999318803 (ISBN13: 9781999318802)
Series: Talion #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

JK Franko

J.K. FRANKO was born and raised in Texas. His Cuban-American parents agreed there were only three acceptable options for a male child: doctor, lawyer, and architect. After a disastrous first year of college pre-Med, he ended up getting a BA in philosophy (not acceptable), then he went to law school (salvaging the family name) and spent many years climbing the big law firm ladder. After ten years, he decided that law and family life weren’t compatible. He went back to school where he got an MBA and pursued a Ph.D. He left law for corporate America, with long stints in Europe and Asia.

His passion was always to be a writer. After publishing a number of non-fiction works, thousands of hours writing, and seven or eight abandoned fictional works over the course of eighteen years, EYE FOR EYE became his first published novel.

Q&A with JK Franko

Welcome and thank you for stopping by CMash Reads
Reading and Writing:

What inspired you to write this book?

I was actually driving home from the grocery store when the idea hit me—a book about what it would take for a normal married couple to plan and commit a murder. I could see the whole book clearly in my mind by the time I got home and was unloading the groceries, and I knew I was going to write it.

What was the biggest challenge in writing this book?

About halfway through, I had an editor quit on me claiming that the morality of the story was “questionable”—particularly Chapter 19. That was when I knew I was onto something interesting.

Give us a glimpse of the research that went into this book.

One of my prior careers was as a trial lawyer, so the legal aspects came easy. The research into planning the perfect murder was very detailed, and is actually very clearly set out in the book. Then of course, I had to make all of those trips to the Bahamas on yachts…

How did you come up with the title?

The working title was actually “What makes you stronger.” But, when I got down into it, I wanted something much more primal and archetypal. The Old Testament just worked.

Your routine in writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

I write from both ends to the middle. Prologue, Epilogue, Chapter One, last Chapter, Chapter Two, next-to-last Chapter, and so on until everything meets in the middle.

Tell us why we should read your book?

I am a voracious reader myself, and I am always looking for tightly woven stories that serve up unexpected twists and bring everything brilliantly together. That’s what Eye for Eye is.

Are you working on your next novel? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

There are three books currently planned for the Talion Series: Eye for Eye, Tooth for Tooth, and Life for Life—with a surprise prequel coming out as well. All I can say about Book Two, without spoilers, is “What goes around, comes around.”

Fun Questions:

Your novel will be a movie. You would you cast?

I actually can’t say because we are currently in discussions regarding just that!
That’s GREAT!!!! Congratulations!!

Favorite leisure activities/hobbies?

Boating, of course.

Favorite foods?

Fava Beans

J.K. Franko now lives with his wife and children in Florida.

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Read an excerpt:

When I try to piece together how this whole mess began, a part of me thinks it may have started over thirty years ago. At least the seeds were planted that far back, in the early 1980s. What happened then, at that summer camp in Texas, set the stage for everything that was to come.

Odd, how something so remote in time and geography continues to impact me here, today.

Sometimes I try to imagine her, how she felt—that eleven year-old girl—as she ran, stumbling and tripping through the woods that night. I try to put myself in her shoes. When I do, I wonder if she was frightened.

Did she understand the consequences of what she’d gotten herself into? I imagine it felt otherworldly to her, like a dream. But not a good dream. No, one of the bad ones—the ones that make your heart machine-gun as you try to outrun some dark thing that’s chasing you. But the faster you try to run, the slower you go, your legs feeling leaden, clumsy, useless.

Panic sets in. Tears of frustration form. Fear takes hold and won’t let go. You open your mouth to scream but realize, to your horror, that you’re paralyzed. It’s not that you can’t scream; you can’t even breathe. Not a dream—a nightmare.

Then again, all that may simply be my imagination. It could just be me projecting what I might have felt onto Joan. Maybe she wasn’t scared at all.

True, it was dark out. The night smelled of rain, but there was no lightning, only the far-off rumble of thunder hinting at a distant storm. There were no trail lights, no visibility but for the moon peeking out intermittently from behind a patchwork of clouds. But, Joan had been down this trail before. She was running toward the main cabin.

She had been at Camp Willow for almost two full weeks. She had been up and down that trail at least ten times a day, every day. Of course, that was during the day, and always with her buddy, or a camp counselor (the children called them troop leaders). Joan had never been on the trail at night. And never alone.

Maybe I imagine Joan was scared because, as an adult, I believe that she should have been. I would have been terrified.

***

Excerpt from Eye For Eye by JK Franko. Copyright © 2019 by JK Franko. Reproduced with permission from JK Franko. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Aug 282019
 

Silent Meridian by Elizabeth Crowens Banner

 

 

The Time Traveler Professor, Book One:

Silent Meridian

by Elizabeth Crowens

on Tour August 18 – September 21, 2019

Synopsis:

The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: Silent Meridian by Elizabeth Crowens

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is obsessed with a legendary red book. Its peculiar stories have come to life, and rumors claim that it has rewritten its own endings. Convinced that possessing this book will help him write his ever-popular Sherlock Holmes stories, he takes on an unlikely partner, John Patrick Scott, known to most as a concert pianist, but a paranormal investigator and a time traveler professor to a select few.

Like Holmes and Watson trying to solve a mystery, together they explore lost worlds and their friendship is tested to the limits when they go back in time to find it. Both discover that karmic ties and unconscionable crimes have followed them like ghosts from the past, wreaking havoc on the present and possibly the future.

The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: SILENT MERIDIAN reveals the alternate histories of Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Houdini, Jung and other luminaries in the secret diaries of John Patrick Scott, in an X Files for the 19th century. First Prize winner of Chanticleer Review’s Goethe Award for Turn-of-the-Century Historical Fiction and First Prize for Steampunk in the Independent Press Awards. Stay tuned for A POCKETFUL OF LODESTONES; Book Two in the Time Traveler Professor series by Elizabeth Crowens.

Book Details:

Genre: Alternate History, Mystery, Fantasy Noir
Published by: Atomic Alchemist Productions LLC
Publication Date: June 12th 2019
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 9781950384 (ISBN13: 9781950384044)
Series: The Time Traveler Professor #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Elizabeth Crowens

Crowens has worked in the film and television for over twenty years and as a journalist and a photographer. She’s a regular contributor of author interviews to an award-winning online speculative fiction magazine, Black Gate. Short stories of hers have been published in the Bram Stoker Awards nominated anthology, A New York State of Fright and Hell’s Heart. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America, The Horror Writers Association, the Authors Guild, Broad Universe, Sisters in Crime and a member of several Sherlockian societies. She is also writing a Hollywood suspense series.

Q&A with Elizabeth Crowens

Welcome and thank you for stopping by CMash Reads

What inspired you to write this book?

On my book tour this summer, I’ll be giving a lecture in London on using metaphysical concepts in literature. There isn’t a lot of decent, entertaining literature which embodies these concepts on a level where “Muggles” will understand them. I spotted the parallels in Star Wars Episode IV, A New Hope right away in regards to the Force, which is similar to ki (as in Aikido) or chi (as in Tai Chi). In fact, Star Wars inspired me to wind up getting a black belt in martial arts and to live in Japan. That experience helped me write our protagonist’s time travel adventure back to feudal Japan.

During the nineteenth century, there was a surging interest in the occult, seances and paranormal phenomena that inspired the Gothic writers like Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein and Bram Stoker to write Dracula and Edgar Alan Poe to write horror and some of the first detective stories. New technologies inspired authors like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells to write some of the first science fiction, known back then as scientific romance. There was also a group of metaphysicians, primarily in Britain, that attempted to write fiction with occult themes: William Butler Yeats, Aleister Crowley, Sax Rohmer and Dion Fortune. Rohmer became more famous for his Dr. Fu Manchu series instead of his dream detective. Yeats was more well-known for his poetry, Dion Fortune’s material only made sense if you read and understood her non-fiction work, and Crowley was more of a poet with a reputation that undermined much of his credibility. Hermann Hesse attempted with Siddhartha and some of his other stories, but by and large, there has been a dearth of good metaphysical fiction. Ironically, many of these authors I mentioned had cameo roles in my novel.

The details for my book tour are on my website, including when I’m going to be giving that lecture in London. Sign up for my monthly newsletter at elizabethcrowens[dot]com/contact for updates and for free eBooks I give away to my subscribers.

What was the biggest challenge in writing this book?

Lack of available research material. I’m a stickler for fact-checking. The protagonist, John Patrick Scott, was based on a real, but largely unknown person, and there wasn’t a lot of information available. I had to play “Sherlock Holmes” and do a bit of detective work, but at least this is a novel and not a non-fiction reference book. Silent Meridian was much easier to research than its sequel, A Pocketful of Lodestones, because I had already written articles for magazines on feudal Japan which is featured in the main time travel subplot. Lodestones, which launches August 1st, tackles several historical time periods that I wasn’t that familiar with.

Give us a glimpse of the research that went into this book.

Five trips overseas with another one coming up this August. Plus, I had to invest in a lot of out-of-print antiquarian books that couldn’t be found in local libraries or libraries in London, Edinburgh or various cities in Germany where I wouldn’t have enough time to read them. I have to admit it was really fun to spend four and a half days in the Rare Books Room at the British Library reading handwritten letters by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. When I’m abroad for my book tour, I’ll be doing research in St. Petersburg and Moscow — spoiler alert for Book Three.

How did you come up with the title?

Originally, the title of the first book was simply, Silent Meridian, but it wasn’t obvious what it meant and might’ve confused readers as to whether to buy the book. The term Silent Meridian is explained in a conversation our protagonist, John Patrick Scott has while consulting with the famous psychologist, C.G. Jung. It’s defined as the fine line between waking and dreams and parallel realities, and its transition can be as imperceptible as the effect Leonardo da Vinci creates on his famous paintings like the Mona Lisa where boundaries and edges seamlessly blend together. Yes, I know… It’s a mouthful. Now the book has been retitled, The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: Silent Meridian to focus more on the concept of time travel. It will also help if you are searching online for books on that subject. It’s a search engine thing.

Your routine in writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

Catch as catch can, but often my best time is in the middle of the night which doesn’t help my insomnia. For those of you who are writers, I use a combination of outlining and pantsing. For me, outlining is essential, because my plots are very complicated.

Tell us why we should read your book?

If you love time travel, I present a unique angle by tying it in with the concepts of karma and reincarnation. If you love steampunk or the Victorian era, you’ll love to plunge into that world. For those who appreciate Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes, it’s something completely different. The book appeals on many different levels.

Are you working on your next novel? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

I’m juggling three book projects at the moment. The Time Traveler Professor, Book Three: A War in Too Many Worlds, the third novel in a Hollywood suspense series I’m trying to get a literary agent to pick up, and an independent “chick lit” novel about three eccentric sisters trying to escape their problems in the States by hiding out in Mexico. Never a dull moment.

Your novel will be a movie. You would you cast?

You’re asking that question to someone who wore many hats in the entertainment industry for over twenty years. Conan Doyle? No question about it, I’d cast Hugh Jackman. They are close to the same height and build, and if you compare photos of them side by side when Hugh is dressed in 19th century attire, it wouldn’t take much to make the transformation. Besides, Hugh is a big box office draw. Edward Norton could pull off H.G. Wells. Depending on how old we want to make Francois Poincaré, I’d go for Sasha Baron Cohen or Rami Malek, because the character has a Freddie Mercury-like quality. Cohen was one of the first choices to play Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. For the protagonist, John Patrick Scott, I’ve had my eye on Robert Sheehan, an Irish actor who recently was in The Umbrella Academy and National Geographic’s Genius series on Picasso.

Favorite leisure activities/hobbies?

Who has time for that? Just kidding. I enjoy going to author readings and traveling to conventions, although it’s for business as well as pleasure. This year I have a convention in Dublin. Next year I have one in New Zealand. While I’m there, you better believe it… I’m going to see some of those locations from Lord of the Rings.

Favorite foods?

Coffee and chocolate — the essentials. LOL

Catch Up With Our Author On:
elizabethcrowens.com, Goodreads, Bookbub, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Read an excerpt:

Edinburgh, 1898

Scotland was just barely crawling its way out of the nineteenth century. I was a naïve, but ambitious student studying music at the University of Edinburgh hurrying over to meet Arthur Conan Doyle, the man who would change my life forever.

“John Patrick Scott, sir,” I said and approached Mr. Doyle, who was already seated at a back corner table of the Deacon Brodie, the pub that inspired the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

I extended my hand to greet him and removed my rain-soaked hat, while my overcoat slipped out of my hands and fell on the floor by accident. It was still hard to believe that good fortune finally brought us together, but we were both nervous. “Mr. Conan Doyle, or should I call you Doctor Doyle?” I was unsure how to address him.

Doyle scrutinized me from top to bottom as he signaled the waiter. “John, call me Arthur.”

“Sir, I’m so honored that you agreed to discuss this matter. Perhaps you can enlighten me in a way that I’ve failed to comprehend.”

I wanted to ask him about my unusual turn of events straight away but he caught me off guard and was dead set on pulling me into the swift current of an unexpected conversation.

“Can I assume you believe in the transmigration of souls?” he asked.

“Until now, I haven’t given it a lot of thought,” I said, unsure as to which direction he was leading.

“Did you ever read those books about that Swiss doctor who felt his body and soul had been taken over by a Benedictine monk? That presented a curious case. He claims that he was approached by the spirit of an elderly monk before he died, and that the monk needed to rent his body to continue his spiritual mission.”

“Rent?” I choked in disbelief.

“We truly don’t take anything with us when we pass on, do we? This monk knew he was dying and therefore needed to replace his physical body with something more youthful and vital.”

“That’s incredible. It debunks the theory that you need to die and be reborn as an infant to carry on your spirit.”

Mr. Doyle had the tinge of excitement in his voice.

“John, here’s another instance. I’ve had my suspicions about a famous musician who had an obsession about a notorious and controversial mystic. You’d surmise by his overwhelming attraction to that person he might’ve been him in a previous lifetime, but facts were clear he was born three years before the mystic died. My understanding is the mystic was aware he didn’t have long in his present incarnation. Therefore he made plans for some sort of partial soul transference while he was still alive to imprint his essence upon the child. That would’ve allowed him to carry on and accomplish unfinished business, which couldn’t have been executed otherwise. Essentially he had the ability of being two places at once.”

“Sounds more like Spiritualism,” I replied.

“Honestly, John, I don’t think there are any steadfast rules when it comes to this matter. That’s what makes it so intriguing.”

I sensed he had a secret agenda.

Doyle reloaded his churchwarden pipe with fresh tobacco and continued, “This is not at all like anything you’ve ever read from H.G. Wells or Jules Verne. We’re poking holes in every treatise written on the subject — the idea of being able to reincarnate a part of yourself while you are still alive into another soul.”

Our conversation was quickly becoming like a speeding train ready to jump the tracks. Realizing this, Doyle slowed down the pace and took a deep breath. He carefully composed his next statement.

“Fiction it may seem to be but it’s not hocus pocus. Don’t you also find it strange that you somehow found yourself initiated into a mystical order on a commuter train bound from London to Edinburgh when the instigators kept on mistaking you for me? There are no accidents.”

I became silent for a moment, stalling for time as I slowly raised my glass of ale to my lips. As soon as I fished a small red book out of my coat pocket and placed it on the table in front of us Arthur eyed it intently. It had been the source of intrigue, which led me to Doyle in the first place and piqued his curiosity as much as it did mine.

“Could I have done something terrible in my youth that caused this to happen?”

“You have no recollections, John?”

“I remember so little of my childhood. I wish I could.”

“You’re a smart young man. I’m sure you’ll come up with a clever deduction.”

Mr. Doyle paused to relight his pipe. He had an unnerving look in his eye, which I vainly tried to read into, but he took me for a spin when he brought up the next topic.

“On another note, John, have you ever considered that people are capable of communicating without speech, and I’m not talking about writing letters?”

“Pardon me?”

“Imagine communicating by mere thoughts. I’ve always wanted to experiment with someone open to these concepts. God knows — my brothers at the Society for Psychical Research certainly talk enough about it. My wife, Touie, has been an unwilling subject and is not the most objective choice.”

I looked at him, somewhat perplexed. “Are you asking me to accurately guess what you’re thinking?”

“Come now. We’ll play a game. I’ll form an image in my mind, and for the next minute I will try to project it into yours. Clear your thoughts of any distractions and be as receptive as possible,” he explained.

As much as I tried, I couldn’t have been more preoccupied. Images of that fateful event flashed through my brain. My recollections revealed my rain-soaked train ticket. I kept arguing with the steward about putting me in the wrong cabin. An erroneous judgment had been made when three strangers insisted I was Arthur. We were so different in physical appearance. He was a large, athletic man with a distinguished moustache. On the other hand, I had baby smooth skin and couldn’t grow facial hair to save my life. I was nearly twenty years younger and much shorter with wild auburn hair that resembled Maestro Beethoven’s with the exception of premature strands of gray.

So why was I singled out? Was there laudanum in my brandy? Details spun like a whirlwind. I must’ve been in a drug-induced stupor but I was initiated into some secret Masonic-like society, and when it was all over those mysterious men were gone. What remained were an engraved silver ring on my finger and an ominous red book on the seat beside me.

“Looks like you’ve seen a ghost.” Arthur broke my trance and realized my thoughts had been elsewhere.

“I felt like I had.” Barely able to articulate, I tried to tame my wild mane in place. Visions faded in and out. Timelines jumped. So I gulped down another swig of ale to focus on the present.

Arthur leaned in closer. “I can see you’re still worried about that event on the train. Those men have been after me for some time. Why? It’s hard to fathom. I’ll dilly dally with notions here and there about Sherlock Holmes and his partner, Watson, who fancy themselves as detectives. Me? I’m just a simple doctor and writer with interests in Spiritualism trying to find scientific explanations for the unknown.”

“Arthur, what would anyone want with an unassuming music student like me?”

“Personally, I don’t think this was A Case of Identity,” Arthur replied with a smile.

Obviously he meant to say my dilemma was not a case of mistaken identity, not the name of one of his famous Sherlock stories. He was pleased I caught the humor of his play on words.

“Perhaps it has something to do with that book,” he said pointing to the one I brought.

“I’m concerned it’s dangerous, that it’s a curse. I wish I had never found it.” I shoved it back into my pocket and drained my glass.

* * *

One week later as I was returning home from school, my landlady, Lydia Campbell, yelled from the kitchen as I trudged my muddied shoes through the front door of her boarding house. “John, a letter from Undershaw arrived for you today! I wonder whom it could be from? You don’t know anyone from Undershaw, do you?”

Oh, yes I did. I grabbed the letter and ran upstairs so fast I nearly tripped on my muffler and fell on my face. I poured myself a glass of port to calm my nerves, doffed my wet garments and sank into my most comfortable brass-studded leather chair I affectionately named my thinking chair, where I created many a melody in my head, could think deep thoughts, and drift off to dreamland.

* * *

Dear John,

I wholeheartedly enjoyed our conversation at the Deacon Brodie and kept my promise of a prompt reply. By now, you are well aware of my passion to explore the realms of Spiritualism and related paranormal phenomena far surpasses any personal interests involved with Sherlock Holmes. Public demand for my writing, however, exerts a strain on how much I can overtly reveal to even my most trusted colleagues. Whenever I indulge in any activity, be it a simple séance, investigating a revered medium or attending a meeting of the British Society for Psychical Research, it never fails to raise the eyebrows of my wary publishers and critics. It’s God’s honest truth that I believe in many of these inexplicable accounts. Even my father painted beautiful renditions of fairies, which I trust he witnessed with his own eyes. The betterment of mankind rests on embracing such theories once they are proven to exist by the scientific community. Thus, I’ll have to continue more controversial and debatable endeavors in utmost secrecy, or at least for the time being until more evidence can be brought to light.

Since you seem to be an open-minded young man who has already experienced some effects of the preternatural, this is my proposal: At midnight every night, we should conduct a variety of remote operations with the primary purpose of communicating through means of telepathy. Since I have a tendency to travel, we’ll have to make some sort of adjustment to take into account the different time zones. Of course, you must share this secret with nobody. Besides us, only my wife will know, although she will not participate.

When you shared the account of the strange commuter train incident that was enough to convince me that you would be the perfect partner for this private undertaking. Most assuredly, there was something you did in the past in the realm of the arcane to warrant such a chain of events. That was not mere happenstance, and now since you possess that enigmatic red book, I’m sure it will affect your life in ways you’ve never imagined.

My intentions have been to perform similar trial and error enterprises with Harry Houdini, a rising star whose stage performances have been astounding audiences, but his busy schedule has made it nearly impossible to coordinate such engagements with any sort of regularity. One of these days we’ll catch up. Meanwhile, I collect whatever news comes from across the herring-pond. At one point, he and I will develop a special relationship based on mutual interests.

Regarding the two of us, however, we’ll back up our observations with letters or telegrams as often as possible as proof of results, but those must be destroyed as soon as they are read. Once again, I cannot over emphasize the importance of confidentiality. Regardless, we must keep a faithful agreement, as skill will come with practice.

If you are willing to put aside any apprehensions regarding trains, I’ll pay for you to travel down to Undershaw and visit me on weekends whenever possible. My driver can meet you in London at a pre-arranged time. You’ll stay in one of our guest bedrooms, and as long as you don’t mind the children and can tolerate what our kitchen staff provides, you’ll be well taken care of. That’ll give us the opportunity to expand our repertoire and commence further psychical experimentation with ectoplasm, spirit photography and astral projection. And bring the red book. I’d like a chance to look at it.

I’ve also desired a partner to accompany me for ghost sightings and occult investigations. For all we know with the knowledge gained, we might even break through the barriers of time. That would certainly give Bertie (H.G. Wells) a shock to the senses, proving his imagination does not merely dwell in the realm of fiction. We’ve been at odds on this topic for years.

Regarding telepathic technique, I can only suggest you conduct yourself in a way as you see fit. Personally, I don’t give credence to things like magical amulets, but if it helps to have an etheric link, use this letter you hold in your hand, as it contains my heart, soul and signature with a drop of blood, which I added to the ink. You might wish to reciprocate.

Let’s raise our glasses to honor the quest of conquering the unknown.

Arthur Conan Doyle

* * *

So, Arthur was serious when he first brought up the subject. When he and I left the pub, I really didn’t know what to think. After all, he was a famous author, and I was merely a student. What possessed him to choose me for such an engagement?

I shuffled through my schoolwork to find my pen and ink and a fresh sheet of paper. Blood, I needed blood. Ah, my razor! That would work. I fetched my shaving kit and winced as I drew a few drops. I scribbled a swift, affirmative reply with the blood-tainted ink, mailed the letter the following day and looked forward to our first otherworldly encounter.

***

Excerpt from The Time Traveler Professor, Book One: Silent Meridian by Elizabeth Crowens. Copyright © 2019 by Elizabeth Crowens. Reproduced with permission from Elizabeth Crowens. All rights reserved.

 

 

Tour Participants:

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!



 

Giveaway!!!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Elizabeth Crowens. There will be eight(8) winners. One (1) winner will receive an Amazon.com Gift Card and seven (7) winners will each receive Silent Meridian by Elizabeth Crowens (eBook). The giveaway begins on August 18, 2019 and runs through September 23, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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;

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours