Sep 172019
 

Strangers She Knows

by Christina Dodd

September 17, 2019

on Tour September 17 – October 1, 2019

Synopsis:

Strangers She Knows by Christina Dodd

Perfect for fans of Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Linda Howard, and Jayne Ann Krentz, New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd returns with the chilling finale to the Cape Charade trilogy.

I have three deadly problems:

  1. I’ve seriously offended a maniacal killer.
  2. I just had a bullet removed from my brain.
  3. My new daughter is growing up too fast—and she’s in the line of fire.
  4. Living on an obscure, technology-free island off California means safety from the murderer who hunts Kellen Adams and her new family…or does it? Family time becomes terror time, until Kellen finds herself alone and facing an all-too-familiar psychopath. Only one can survive, and Kellen knows who must win…and who must die.

    Be sure to also check-out the rest of the Cape Charade series, starting with DEAD GIRL RUNNING and WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER, available now wherever books are sold.

    Series STARRED reviews from Booklist

    “From the unforgettable heroine with a past to the incisively etched cast of secondary characters to the brilliantly imaginative plot, Dodd is at her most wildly entertaining, wickedly witty best.” -Booklist STARRED review on DEAD GIRL RUNNING

    “Featuring an unforgettable protagonist…who makes Jack Reacher look like a slacker when it comes to dispatching trouble, and an ingenious plot that includes plenty of white-knuckle twists and turns as well as some touching moments of mother-daughter bonding.” -Booklist STARRED review on WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER

    “Dodd continues her addictively readable Cape Charade series featuring Kellen Adams with another white-knuckle tale that simply begs to be inhaled in one sitting. With a fascinating island setting that includes a spooky old mansion, a secondary storyline involving World War II, and an antagonist who could give Villanelle from Killing Eve a pointer or two, this is Dodd at her brilliant best.” -Booklist STARRED review on STRANGERS SHE KNOWS

    Book Details:

    Genre: Mystery/Suspense
    Published by: HQN Books
    Publication Date: September 17, 2019
    Number of Pages: 352
    ISBN: 1335468331 (ISBN13: 9781335468338)
    Series: Cape Charade #3
    Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

    Read an excerpt:

    Yearning Sands Resort Washington’s Pacific Coast This Spring

    Rae Di Luca stacked up her Level Three lesson books, opened the piano bench and put them away. She got out the Adult Course Level 1A book, opened it to “Silver Bells,” and put it on the music rack. “Mom, you have to practice.”

    Kellen didn’t look up from her book. “I know.”

    “When?”

    “When what?”

    “When are you going to do it?”

    “I’m at the good part. Let me finish this chapter.”

    “No, you have to practice now. You know it helps with your finger dexterity.”

    When had their roles reversed, Kellen wondered? When had ten-year-old Rae become the sensible adult and Kellen become the balky child?

    Oh yeah. When she had the brain surgery, her right hand refused to regain its former abilities, and the physical therapist suggested learning the piano. But there was a reason Kellen hadn’t learned to play the piano earlier in her life. She loved music—and she had no musical talent. That, added to the terrible atrophy that afflicted her fingers, made her lessons and practices an unsurpassed agony…for everyone.

    She looked up, saw Rae standing, poised between coaxing and impatience, and the Rolodex in Kellen’s punctured, operated-on and much-abused brain clicked in:

    RAE DI LUCA:

    FEMALE, 10YO, 5‘0″, 95LBS. KELLEN’S DAUGHTER. HER MIRACLE. IN TRANSITION: GIRL TO WOMAN, BLOND HAIR TO BROWN, BROWN EYES LIGHTENING TO HAZEL. LONG LEGS; GAWKY. SKIN A COMBINATION OF HER ITALIAN HERITAGE FROM HER FATHER AND THE NATIVE AMERICAN BLOOD FROM KELLEN; FIRST PIMPLE ON HER CHIN. NEVER TEMPERAMENTAL. KIND, STRONG, INDEPENDENT.

    Kellen loved this kid. The feeling was more than human. It was feral, too, and Kellen would do anything to protect Rae from threat—and had. “I know. I’m coming. It’s so much more fun to listen to you play than practice myself. You’re good and I’m…awful.”

    “I’m not good. I’m just better than you.” Rae came over and wrapped her arms around Kellen’s neck, hugged and laughed. “But Luna is better than you.”

    “Don’t talk to me about that dog. She howls every time I sit down at the piano. Sometimes she doesn’t even wait until I start playing. The traitor.” Kellen glared at the dog, and once again her brain—which had developed this ability after that shot to the head—sorted through the files of identity cards to read:

    LUNA:

    FEMALE, FULL-SIZED POODLE/AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOG/AT LEAST ONE OTHER BREED, 50LBS, RED COAT, BROWN EYES, STRONGLY MUSCLED. RESCUED BY RAE AND MAX WHILE KELLEN RECOVERED FROM SURGERY. FAMILY MEMBER. RAE’S FRIEND, COMPANION, PROTECTOR. MUSIC LOVER.

    Luna watched Kellen in return, head resting on her paws, waiting for her chance to sing a solo protest to Kellen’s inept rendition of “Silver Bells.”

    “Everybody’s a critic.” Rae set the timer. “Come on. Ten minutes of scales, then you only have to practice for thirty minutes.”

    “Why do I have to practice ‘Silver Bells’? Christmas isn’t for seven months.”

    “So you’ll have mastered it by the time the season rolls around.”

    “I used to like that song.”

    “We all used to like that song.” Rae took Kellen’s left hand and tugged. “Mom, come on. You know you feel better afterward.”

    Kellen allowed herself to be brought to her feet. “I’m going to do something wild and crazy. I’m going to start learning ‘When the Saints Go Marching In.’ It’s the next song in the book, and I like it.”

    “You can learn anything you want after you practice your scales and work on ‘Silver Bells’ for fifteen minutes.”

    No one wanted to be inside today, certainly not Rae Di Luca, certainly not Kellen Adams Di Luca, certainly not upstairs in their private quarters in the Yearning Sands Resort. Not when spring had come to the Washington state Pacific Coast. April and May’s drenching rains turned the world a soggy brown. Then, on the first of June, one day of blazing sunshine created green that spread across the coastal plain.

    Kellen made her way through the ten minutes of scales—the dog remained quiescent for those—then began plunking out “Silver Bells.” 

    As she struggled with the same passage, her right hand fingers responding only sporadically, Luna started with a slight whine that grew in intensity. At the first high howl, Kellen turned to the dog. 

    “Look, this isn’t easy for me, either.”

    Luna sat, head cocked, one ear up, one ear down, brown eyes pleading with her.

    “I would love to stop,” Kellen told her and turned back to the piano. “How about a different tune? Let’s try ‘When the Saints Go Marching In.’”

    She played the first few notes and out of the corner of her eye, she saw the dog subside. Then, as she worked on a tricky passage, made the same mistake, time after time, the dog sat up again, lifted her nose and howled in mourning for the slaughter of the song.

    Rae giggled, and when her mother glowered, the child controlled herself. “Come on, Luna, I’ll take you outside.”

    The dog didn’t budge.

    “She thinks she’s helping you,” Rae explained. “Come on, Luna. Come on!” She coaxed her out the door, turned back to Kellen and said sternly, “Twenty more minutes!”

    “Yeah, yeah.” Kellen struggled on, trying to make her recalcitrant fingers do her bidding. Even when she finally got the notes right, it wasn’t a piano tune so much as jack-in-the-box music. When at last the timer went off, she slumped over the keyboard and stared at the fingers of her right hand.

    They were trying to atrophy, to curl in and refuse to do her bidding ever again. But the physical therapists assured her she could combat this. She had to create new nerve ways, train another part of her brain to handle the work, and since two hands were better than one and her right hand was her dominant hand, the battle was worth fighting. But every day, the forty minutes at the keyboard left her drained and discouraged. 

    Behind her, Max said, “Turn around and let me rub your hands.”

    She noticed he did not say, That was good. Or even, That was better.

    Max didn’t tell lies.

    Kellen sighed and swiveled on the piano bench. Again that Rolodex in her brain clicked in:

    MAX DI LUCA:

    MALE, 38YO, 6’5″, 220LBS, ITALIAN-AMERICAN, FORMER FOOTBALL PLAYER. HANDSOME, TANNED, CURLY BLACK HAIR, BROWN EYES SURROUNDED BY LONG BLACK LASHES. ONCE HIGH UP IN THE DI LUCA FAMILY CORPORATION, STEPPED DOWN TO RAISE HIS DAUGHTER, NOW DIRECTOR OF THE FAMILY’S YEARNING SANDS RESORT ON THE WASHINGTON COAST. KIND, GENEROUS, RESPONSIBLE, LOVING. A STICKLER FOR DUTY. FAR TOO MUCH WILLPOWER, WHICH WAS IRRITATING TO KELLEN IN MATTERS RELATING TO THEIR MARITAL STATE.

    He took her right hand gently in both of his and, starting at the wrist, he massaged her palm, her thumb, her fingers. He used a lavender-scented oil, and stretched and worked the muscles and bones while she moaned with pleasure.

    He listened with a slight smile, and when she looked into his face, she realized his lips looked fuller, he had a dark flush over his cheekbones and his nostrils flared as he breathed. She looked down at his jeans, leaned close and whispered, “Max, I’m done with practice. Why don’t we wander up to our bedroom and I’ll rub your…hand, too.”

    He met her eyes. He stopped his massage. Except for the rise and fall of his chest, he was frozen in that pose of incipient passion.

    Then he sat back and sighed. “Doctor says no.”

    “Doctor said be careful.” 

    “Woman, if I could be careful, I would. As it is, nothing is best.”

    “I am torn between being flattered and frustrated.” She thought about it. “Mostly frustrated.”

    I’m just fine.” Max didn’t usually resort to sarcasm, so that told her a lot. Married almost two years and no sex. He was a good man, but he was coming to the end of his patience.

    “If we’re refraining because we’re worried I’m going to pop a blood vessel while in the throes of passion, I’d like to point out there are solutions that you might enjoy.”

    “That isn’t fair to you.”

    “You’re massaging my hand. That’s pretty wonderful.”

    “Not the same.” Again he took her tired hand and went to work.

    Bitterly she said, “Kellen’s Brain. It’s like a bad sci-fi fantasy.”

    He laughed. “It’s improving all the time.” When he had made her hand relax and Kellen relax with it, he said, “I’ve been thinking—the Di Luca family owns Isla Paraíso off the coast of Northern California. The family bought the island seventy years ago with the idea of placing a resort on the island, but now that doesn’t seem likely. Someone needs to go there, look things over, make decisions about its fate.”

    Kellen nodded. “You want to go there? See what you think?”

    “Actually, I thought we should all go there.”

    He was still working her hand, but with a little too much forcefulness and concentration.

    “Ouch,” she said softly.

    He pulled away, horrified. “Did I hurt you?”

    “Not at all. Except that you’re treating me like a child.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “You’re not telling me what’s really going on. Why do you want to go to this island?”

    “I told you—”

    “I don’t doubt that what you told me is the truth. But it’s not all the truth. Max, what’s wrong?”

    Max sighed, an understatement of a sigh, as if he dreaded what he was about to say. “You’re not going to like it.”

    “I gathered that.”

    “Mitch Nyugen.”

    “What about him? He’s dead.” She remembered she couldn’t always trust Kellen’s Brain. “Isn’t he?”

    “Yes. He was buried in the Cape Charade cemetery.”

    Was buried?” Unease stirred in her belly.

    “This week, his widow arrived from Wyoming.”

    “He wasn’t married.” That brain thing. “Was he?”

    “No.” Max was as sure as Kellen was not. “Yet the woman who claimed to be his widow had all the necessary paperwork to have his body exhumed.”

    “Oh, no.”

    “She had the coffin placed in the chapel. Last night, the undertaker, Arthur Earthman, found her there, with the coffin open. She murdered him, and almost killed his wife, Cynthia. The widow escaped ahead of the sheriff, and she left her calling card.”

    Kellen knew. She knew what Max was going to say. “She cut off Mitch’s hands.”

    “And took them.” Max looked up at her, his brown eyes wretched with fear. “Mara Philippi is back. And she’s here.”

    ***

    Excerpt from Strangers She Knows by Christina Dodd. Copyright 2019 by Christina Dodd. Reproduced with permission from HQN Books. All rights reserved.

     

     

    Author Bio:

    Christina Dodd

    New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd writes “edge-of-the-seat suspense” (Iris Johansen) with “brilliantly etched characters, polished writing, and unexpected flashes of sharp humor that are pure Dodd” (ALA Booklist). Her fifty-eight books have been called “scary, sexy, and smartly written” by Booklist and, much to her mother’s delight, Dodd was once a clue in the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle.

    Enter Christina’s worlds and join her mailing list at:
    christinadodd.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook!

     

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    This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Christina Dodd and HQN Books. There will be one (1) winner. The winner will receive an Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on September 17, 2019 and runs through September 26, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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Sep 112019
 

What She Never Said by Catharine Riggs Banner

 

 

What She Never Said

by Catharine Riggs

on Tour August 19 – September 20, 2019

Synopsis:

What She Never Said by Catharine Riggs

How much would you pay to keep a secret? Ruth Mosby is the VP of operations at Serenity Acres, where the privileged elite go to die. For a hefty fee, wealthy retirees can live the good life in this posh Santa Barbara community—even after they outlive their money. But the savvy new boss has a new rule: if you can’t pay, you can’t stay.

Guests whisper about an “Angel” who assists with suicides. Ruth has another word for it: murder.

Ruth enlists her neighbor, an ex-detective named Zach, to discover the Angel’s secret identity. However, the two have a painful history, and Ruth has dark secrets all her own. To solve the mystery, Ruth must descend her golden tower—but can she bear the consequences of revealing her own sinister truths?

Why Readers LOVE What She Never Said:

“Riggs keeps the tension high to the dramatic climax.”
Publishers Weekly

What She Never Said is a fast-paced, compulsive read—and I speak as a slow-paced, easily distracted reader.”
—Ashley Dyer, award-winning author of the Lake & Carver series.

“A compelling read that will keep you awake well into the night.”
—T.R. Ragan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

Beneath the weight of metastasizing secrets, idyllic veneers buckle to reveal shocking truths that will haunt readers long after the final page.
—P. J. Vernon, acclaimed author of the debut thriller, When You Find Me

MY THOUGHTS/REVIEW

5 stars

Where do I begin because there is so much to say?! But I am apologizing in advance because this is going to be a very vague review so I won’t let too much slip.

This is the second book in the Santa Barbara Suspense series, however, it read well as a stand-alone but I will be reading the first book soon.

Being a retired RN and having worked within the elderly community, I was instantly drawn in from the first page, as the synopsis states the setting is Shady Acres, an elite geriatric facility where the patients are called guests. But there is someone who is assisting with suicides. Or is it murder? And who is in and what is this group within the complex that are members of “The Goodnight Club”?

This book was so engrossing that I finished it in one sitting, which is very rare for me. I literally could not put it down as there were so many aspects that I had to know how it ended.

Shady Acres has just been sold to a huge conglomerate company that their bottom line is first money and second, their image and lastly the patients. Right before the sale, Ruth Mosby, VP of Operations has found pink post-its with a guest’s name and date of their death but hasn’t told anyone about this. She is more concerned about being named the new Director.

Since the sale, more patients have died especially those that are destitute. Not only are the patients dying, but a nurse has also been found murdered in the parking lot, which it is rumored that he was the complex’s drug dealer.

Ms. Riggs has created characters that pull the reader into their lives wanting to know what their dark secrets, betrayals, guilt, depression, past traumas, substance abuse, regrets, shame, and more, which is why I just kept turning the pages.

The suspense did not let up and had me guessing as to who were the leaders of this exclusive group, “The Goodnight Club”. Who was “The Angel” carrying out the passing of the residents? Who was “The Ambassador” or the go-between and who was the “leader” that passed the pink post-it notes getting the word to those above her/him.

Is The Angel an empath for these aging people that want to die with dignity, or is there a serial killer working amongst them?

Totally engrossing!! Chilling!! Will have you on the edge of your seat!!!

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Suspense
Published by: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: September 10, 2019
Number of Pages: 377
ISBN: 1542042135 (ISBN13: 9781542042130)
Series: Santa Barbara Suspense #2
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

RUTH MOSBY

ONE

Monday, May 6

My goal each day is ten thousand steps. A Fitbit monitors my progress. One. Two. Three. Four. This morning I’ll reach six thousand steps. Only four thousand left after that. It’s nice the days have grown longer. I’ll walk the harbor loop after work. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. I speed up the slope of Orpet Park through the grove of moth-eaten oaks.

At the summit of the steepest hill, I catch a peek of ocean gray. The islands are invisible today, shrouded in waves of lowering fog. June gloom. That’s what the locals call it, although we’ve barely stepped into May. Locals? I am a local. Or should be after thirty-some years. But oh no. Not in Santa Barbara. You can’t be a local unless you’re born here. Ridiculous but true. Sometimes I wonder why I stay. But at my age, where would I go?

Cresting the final hill, I catch my first glimpse of the mission bells. They’re a sad reminder of my walks with Carlyn and the chats we had every day. She thought the Queen of the Missions was a sign of God’s blessing on our tony beachside town. I wonder what she thinks of God now. I wonder what she thinks of me.

I continue past the mission lawn, verging on parched and dry. The agaves look weathered and dusty; they’re wilted at the tips. A handful of elderly tourists snap photos of the iconic scene. Their foreign chatter disrupts the calm, so I cross the street to the rose garden and follow the rutted trail. A lone dog shoots into view, and I slow my rapid gait. The golden Lab jumps, twists, and barks, nabbing a Frisbee in his mouth.

“Morning,” his master calls to me, a smile gracing his youthful face.

“Morning.” I lock my gaze on my running shoes. How did he miss the DOGS ON LEASH signs staggered every twenty feet? Or maybe he didn’t but somehow believes he’s above the city’s rules. I make a mental note to call animal control and continue on my way.

I pick up my pace for the final ten blocks, feeling better than I have in weeks. Turning down my narrow driveway, I cringe at the sight of my neighbor standing on his porch.

“Morning, Ruth,” he calls.

“Morning, Zach.”

Zach limps down his steps and through his drought-stricken garden, a frown rumpling his grizzled face. He’s dressed in board shorts and a tattered T-shirt, mended flip-flops shielding his feet. “You hear those kids partying last night?” he asks.

“No,” I lie. “Was it loud?”

“Hell yeah. I can’t believe they allow short-term rentals in our neighborhood. We’ve got to put a stop to that.”

“Well, kids will be kids.” I fail to mention I called the police at ten sharp. That’s when the noise ordinance kicks in.

“I’m going to complain at today’s city council meeting. Want to come along?” The breeze shifts, and I catch a whiff of spoiled milk. Zach has taken to strategic bathing, which results in an occasional stench.

“I would, but I have to work.”

“Bummer. There’s a better chance if we complain together.”

I nod, thinking he’d have a better chance if he made an effort to clean himself up. When we moved into the neighborhood decades ago, Zach had been a handsome man with an easy smile and a mop of thick black hair. A homicide detective whose pretty wife, Tina, taught art at the nearby elementary school. The perfect neighbors on a perfect street of tiny Craftsman homes. Then their son died in a tragic accident, and Tina passed soon after that. A broken man, Zach took early retirement and nearly drank himself to death. He’s in recovery now and has replaced the booze with an obsession for neighborhood affairs. “What about my petition?” he asks. “You plan on signing that?”

I bite my lower lip. “I’m not sure.”

“Construction begins next week.”

“I wish I could, but . . .”

Mumbling under his breath, he eyes me with a frown. He’s also taken to talking to himself. Is dementia creeping up? “But what?” he asks.

“I don’t think it’s wise for someone in my position to take a political stance.”

“Your position?” He rolls his eyes. “You work at an old folks’ home.”

“I work in a life-care community.”

“Same thing.”

“No, it’s not.”

His frown deepens into a crevasse. “So, you’re okay with those homes coming down?” He nods at the four vacant bungalows located directly across the street. They’re slated for demolition, to be replaced by a ten-thousand-square-foot mansion with an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Our future neighbors are a flashy young couple with toddler twins and an army of well-groomed staff. Seems our former middle-class neighborhood is attracting the fashionable Hollywood types.

“I’m not okay with it,” I say, “but what can we do? The planning commission has made their decision. We’re not going to change their minds.”

“But if we don’t take action, it won’t be long before people like us can’t live in this town.”

“At least we’ll make a mint when we sell.”

“You’re not thinking of moving, are you?”

“Of course not.” Although I might if the price is right.

Zach sniffs and takes a swipe at his nose. “I just wish we could stop these assholes. They even complained about my new picket fence.”

I hold my voice steady. “They did?” Last month, Zach replaced his aging fence with a synthetic version that lists from side to side.

“Hell yes. City says my fence is four inches too tall, and I’ve got one month to replace the thing.

Where the hell am I going to get that kind of money? My pension only goes so far.” He searches my face with his electric-blue eyes. They’re the only part of him that haven’t aged.

“That’s terrible,” I say, dropping my gaze and backpedaling down the driveway. “Got to get to work. Have a nice day.” I hurry through the gate, swimming through waves of guilt. What if Zach finds out I turned him in? He’ll be angrier than a cornered wasp. But by the time I step out of the shower, I’ve pushed away all my self-doubt. Is it my fault his fence is too tall? For God’s sake, rules are rules.

***

Excerpt from What She Never Said by Catharine Riggs. Copyright © 2019 by Catharine Riggs. Reproduced with permission from Catharine Riggs. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Catharine Riggs

Catharine Riggs lives and writes on California’s central coast. Before her dive into thrillers, Riggs worked as a business banker, adjunct college instructor, and a nonprofit executive. What She Never Said is the second novel in her loosely linked Santa Barbara Suspense series. The first, What She Gave Away, was published by Thomas & Mercer in September of 2018.

Catch Up With Catharine Riggs On:
www.CatharineRiggs.com, Goodreads, & BookBub, Twitter!

 

 

Tour Participants:

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Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Catharine Riggs. There will be 4 winners. Two (2) winners will each receive one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card and Two (2) winners will each receive one (1) print copy of What She Never Said by Catharine Riggs. The giveaway begins on August 18, 2019 and runs through September 22, 2019. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.

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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!

 

 

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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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