Monday, September 21, 2020

Two for the Road Blitz


An Adam Fraley Mystery

Mystery, Crime Mystery

Published: September 2020

Publisher: Melange Books

 

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Private investigator Adam Fraley and his colleague, Tamra Fugit, the woman to whom he is engaged, travel vastly different paths, as they take on two seemingly unrelated missing person cases. The trails take them through idyllic lands darkened by underworld intrigue, twisted relationships. carnal temptation, physical danger, and personal tragedy. Such are the legal ramifications they confront during their crossing of both state and international boundaries, that the FBI is eventually drawn into the matter. From the very beginning, little did the investigators realize that the two roads they were travelling eventually would come crashing together in a manner entirely unexpected, testing not only their professional skills and resolve, but their personal faith in each other.

  

Excerpt

 

Chapter One

April 1997

 

The paramount lesson Adam Fraley learned early on in the private investigation business was to place a premium on case selection. Much like personnel hiring, you want to make sure you take on the right case, just as you would the right person, lest you end up drowned in disappointment and endless damage control. Fortunately, he had thus far successfully managed this aspect of the business. First, by hiring Tamra Fugit several years ago as his office manager. Secondly, by relying on her knack for making the right choices. Still, no selection system was foolproof. As an old boss of his was fond of saying, “You can only ride horses so many times before you get bucked off one.” Consequently, the admonition was always in the back of his mind when he and she met for their regular Monday morning caseload review.

“What’s on the agenda?” he asked from a visitor’s chair positioned in front of her desk.

“Two cases—one for you and one for me,” she said, working her desktop computer.

He halted in mid-motion the sip of coffee he was about to take to look askance at her.

She swiveled her chair to face him. “I’ve assisted you in nearly every case we’ve taken on since I was hired here, Adam. And thanks to your generosity, I will soon own half of the business. No better time for me to start taking half ownership of some of the cases, don’t you agree?”

“By ownership you mean taking to the street—the actual gumshoe part.”

“Yes...surveillance and tracking.”

“Who’s going to take care of the office end of it while we’re out gumshoeing?” he asked, carefully setting his coffee cup on her desk.

“Think of it this way,” she replied. “As with the modern family, the mother sometimes stays home to tend to the house and kids while the father is at work. Conversely, the husband stays home while the working wife takes to the road. We are destined to become a family business, are we not?”

“You’re looking terrific today,” he abruptly said to the woman who would have to be subjected to prolonged physical duress, say like an extended hike through the Mohave desert, to look bad---the woman, by the way, he happened to be betrothed to. But for her presence, the Adam Fraley Private Investigations office could best be described as nondescript, he opined.

“Do you realize your auburn hair, beautiful green eyes, and bright yellow dress offset very well the dull cast of this office?” he continued.

“You’re digressing,” she said. “Or are you stalling?”

“Okay, what are the two?” he asked in resignation.

“The first is for you,” she said, sorting through some notes on her desk. “I received a call from a woman by the name of Carmen Rivera. She was calling from Bogota, Colombia, where she lives. She has a son by the name of Manny who is attending Coastal State College here. She and her husband have not heard from Manny in over a month. Normally, he checks in with them at least once or twice a week. He lives in an off-campus home which he shares with another student who, for whatever reason, claims no knowledge of his whereabouts.”

“She’s contacted the cops?”

“Yes, and received the standard reply. Since he is an adult and there is no evidence of foul play, they will not get involved at this point.”

“We should send the department a thank you note, considering how much business that policy of theirs generates for us. You have the address for the kid?”

She again scrambled through the notes on her desk, picked one out and handed it to him. “Here you go.”

“Before we get started, how are we handling the fees? It’s not like we have a history of job requests from overseas on which to draw from. In fact, we have no history of it…right?”

“Correct,” she said. “However, if we do take the case, she will wire us a down payment upfront with the remainder to follow once we have concluded our investigation.”

“What do you think?” he asked. “Legitimate?”

“She spoke in a very cultured voice and with a mother’s concern. My sense is the Rivera family could very well be one of the five percent of the populace who control the wealth of the country.”

“Five percent…is that a fact or your opinion?”

“It comes from a former roommate of mine who spent a half year in the country.”

“Doing what?”

“Studying the Colombia rainforest region.”

“For what?”

“Six course credits,” she cracked. “She was in a study abroad program.”

“Well, it’s not likely we’re going to break the parents financially,” he said. “And the second case---the one you’ve put a claim to?”

Tamra glanced at another note on her desk. “I received a call from a man named Mickey Riley. He says his sister went missing about four weeks ago. He wants us to find her.”

“Let me guess…the cops don’t want to get involved because she is an adult and there is no evidence of foul play.”

“You got it.”

“So, does Mickey have any idea where his sister might be?”

“With her husband somewhere, he says.”

“And that’s a bad thing?” Adam asked, no doubt repeating the same question the cops asked the brother.

“According to Mickey, the husband, himself, is a bad thing…a very bad thing. Apparently, his sister has become a virtual prisoner of her husband, to the point he won’t even let her out of the house. A control freak, to say the least.”

“So, you aim to free her?”

“I aim to find her. It’s up to the brother to free her. He’s coming in for a meeting this afternoon. I should know more then, including where would be a good place to start looking for her. Meanwhile, your mother called. She’d like to know if we want a wedding planner. If so, she knows of a good one.”

“We’ve already decided we don’t need one, don’t you remember?”

“I certainly do, but apparently you failed to pass that bit of info along to her.”

“I’ll tell her when we finish with these two cases,” he sighed, perturbed by his oversight.

“You know, this will be a good time to go on the road,” he followed. “Noelle will be on her school-sponsored camping trip. We should be home by the time she returns.”

“If all goes well,” Tamra responded with a deadpan expression.

Adam leaned across the desk. “I have a proposition for you. How about we flip the cases? You trail after the missing student and I chase after the missing sister? You know how volatile these simmering domestic situations can get. They’re invariably about some demented guy’s passion to control another, usually a helpless woman, like the one you describe in this case. The moment you show up, you become a threat to take away that control. Needless to say, he’s not going to like that at all.”

“Are you worried for my safety? Would you rather I go chasing after porch poachers…sit in the car for hours on end waiting for a home delivery to be stolen? We still have one of those requests on the back burner waiting for a decision.”

“No, I’m not worried for your safety. It’s the safety of the captive wife’s husband, I’m worried about,” he joshed, rising from his chair to give her a quick kiss, followed by a longer one, before heading out of the office. “Before you leave, I have two other items to run by you,” she said, halting his movement.

“Okay…the first?”

 

“Harold Jenkins, the attorney from The Justice Brigade called. He wants to know if you’d like to meet with him regarding the merger idea that he discussed with you over the phone a while back.”

Adam slipped back into the chair, indicating it was a subject requiring immediate attention. “What do you think?” he asked of her.

Tamra gave a slight shrug. “I remember you mentioned the idea at the time. Run it by me again.”

“They’re interested in bringing us into their fold via some sort of a partnership, whether it be a corporate takeover, merger, or retainer-type arrangement. Whatever it takes to get us on board.”

“A big operation like theirs? What for?”

“Law firms have a need for tracking missing persons or conducting background checks, as you well know...”

“Yes, we’ve conducted several for them recently,” she interjected.

“Right, and apparently they liked the results. The Justice Brigade is one of those young, aggressive, fast-growing firms looking to gain a leg up on their competition. It’s not like they don’t have many law firms to compete with.”

Tamra flashed a look of surprise. “By doing their own detective work?”

“My guess is they’re planning to become a one-stop shopping operation, so to speak.”

“What’s in it for us?”

“Well, it could mean a steady work flow, which is no small matter. Looking down the road a way, there’s Noelle’s college tuition costs looming on the horizon. Right now, we’re operating at a small profit margin, enough to keep us afloat for the time being. However, as you and I have discussed, we’ve reached the stage where we’re either going to have to raise production or raise prices. I have a hunch joining forces with the Justice Brigade would lessen our office management burden significantly. Taking on the bulk of our paperwork would be an insignificant addition to their overall workload. Doing so would allow us to concentrate on the detective work.”

“You’re making it sound like—what do they call it in the business world—a white knight coming to the rescue. I don’t see it as magnanimous move on their part, Adam. They are simply making a business pitch.”

“Oh, I agree, but at the moment we’re discussing potential benefits, not the drawbacks. Jenkins also pointed out we would be working under their legal umbrella.”

“Meaning?”

“Meaning they would provide us free legal service, both personal and professional. And depending on the business arrangement, perhaps even corporate benefits, like retirement plans, something foreign to us.”

“Adam, we may be gaining corporate benefits, but would we not be losing our corporate identity?”

“That’s going to depend on the details of the proposed agreement. The question is how much independence we would be surrendering, starting with the case selection process. Who is going to have the final say on which ones we take on?”

“I do see one potential benefit in that regard,” Tamra opined. “They could serve as a filter to the possible legal landmines of each case. There are always those we have to consider.”

“True, but then there are other issues—potential conflicts of interest, the need to report to a supervisor, how it may affect the positive relationship we’ve developed with local law enforcement officials over the years—not to mention the more logistical items like office location. No question, there would be details galore to be worked out. Perhaps not so many if it was a retainer-type agreement, which could suffice, for all we know.”

“Something along the lines of a rental car company operating in the maintenance section of a car dealership,” Tamra suggested. “Have you consulted with your old boss on this?”

“Pete? No, though I definitely intend to before any final decision is made.”

Adam was already having second thoughts on the proposed relationship, particularly its impact on the freedom of choice regarding the case selection guidelines. Currently, the procedure was greatly influenced by their location. They were operating out of a street-level office situated on the corner of a moderately busy street. Walk-in traffic was steady—granted, not always a good thing for a P.I. outfit. It led to a significant amount of “impulse buying,” which was not in tune with most of the trade’s target base. Passersby would spot the store sign and on the spur of the moment decide they would rid themselves of lingering suspicions that their spouses were cheating on them, or an employee of theirs had his or her hand in the till, or they wanted their outdoor cat trailed so they could find out where it was spending the day. Following one walk-in guy’s request that they conduct a background check on his neighbor whom he suspected was a mass murderer, he joked to Tamra that they should post a sign on the front entrance stating We don’t do serial killers. It was one of the reasons a growing number of private investigators were forsaking the brick-and-mortar store for the home office where there was less chance of the delusional individual wandering in off the street to seek their assistance. In a home-based operation it was much easier to concentrate on corporate clients who were interested in tackling problems like insurance fraud or employee theft. That’s where the money was.

Yet, despite all the challenges posed by the walk-in trade, it did offer what Adam considered the most rewarding aspect of the profession—the opportunity to fix a family for the man or woman in the street. Tamra had picked up on this preference of his early on and had developed the skills to take on cases based on the attributes of clients, more so than the task involved, a distinction that greatly reduced the possibility of subsequent regret.

“In selecting clients, you want to pick someone whose side you wish to be on,” he had advised her. “There are no honeymoon, probation, or engagement periods with clients. Therefore, you want to be on the same page with them from day one. Lawyers may look at it differently, giving greater consideration to the case.”

Her earlier mention of a white knight potentially acting as a filter for the business brought him an inward smile, for there was no better filter than her in screening out the nightmare client.

“Maybe these two cases we’re taking on simultaneously will give us an indication of how raising the production end of the operation impacts us...office-wise and field-wise,” Tamra continued.

Adam glanced at the wall clock. “Maybe so...now, what was the second item you wanted to bring up before I head off?” he asked, hurrying her along.

“I received my first subpoena.”

“Relating to Adam Fraley Private Investigations, I assume.”

“Yes.”

“Another good reason to join The Justice Brigade,” he quipped. “Seriously, you are to be congratulated. I’m surprised it took this long. In this business you come to expect them. What does it pertain to?”

“Do you recall those background checks I conducted for the Midtown Mall security people for that job opening they had a few months back?”

“Sure do.”

“One of the applicants is suing, claiming she lost out to a far less qualified candidate. I’m not sure why they want my testimony.”

“Which side are you testifying for?”

“The security firm...any tips?”

“Stick to the facts of the background checks and be very careful with your opinions. I had a similar case not long after I first got into this business. I conducted background checks on a group of applicants for an upper level position in a banking firm. As in your case, one of the applicants sued for being bypassed for what she called a less qualified candidate. The bank felt they had a solid case and, in my opinion, they did. In the court testimony, however, one of the bank’s personnel managers on the hiring panel stupidly commented on the witness stand that he considered the plaintiff a dullard. When the judge’s final ruling came down in favor of the plaintiff, the word ‘dullard’ appeared five times in the written decision. He cited it as an example of a preconceived bias. As a result, the plaintiff ended up getting the job and the careless personnel manager wound up without one. He was fired.”

“I’ll be sure to watch my language,” Tamra declared.

“When’s the court date? It’s not going to interfere with present business, is it?”

“No, it’s a month away.”

“You’re fortunate, though I should say we’re fortunate. Often those subpoenas are served hours in advance,” he said. “Nothing like having a monkey wrench thrown into your regular workday plans before you even get started on them.”

Adam paused a moment, reflecting on Tamra’s proposal about who would handle which assignment. Both cases could present dangerous circumstances, he knew from previous experience, so trading cases based on the facts as presently known could be premature.

“Tamra, I’m not comfortable leaving you in charge of a domestic case that could go awry,” he said.

“The future is always unclear, no matter what type of case we take on,” she countered.

“This is the nature of the business we’re in.”

“Then promise me that you’ll fill me in the moment your intuition tells you that you’re in over your head.”

“You’ll be the first to know, she said, gathering her notes. “With that in mind, we best hit the road.”



About the Author

Henry Hoffman is a former newspaper editor and public library manager. He is the author of the Adam Fraley Mystery Series and is the recipient of the Florida Publishers Association's Gold Medal Award for Florida Fiction.

 

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Hell & Back Blitz



Outbreak Task Force, Book #5

Romantic Suspense

Date Published: 9/21/2020

Publisher: Entangled Publishing


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Racing to lock down the CDC's deadly virus samples from terrorists, ex-Special Forces medic Henry Lee partners with Ruby Toth on the Outbreak Task Force. But the terrorists always seem one step ahead. As they work side by side, Henry's taken with how Ruby accepts and respects him, instead of pitying him for all he lost overseas, including his leg. Ruby's hiding something, though, and Henry fears she's been leaking sensitive information. Terrorists have kidnapped her brother, and now microbiologist Ruby Toth faces a horrible choice. If she doesn't give them a vial of Small Pox as ransom, her brother will die. She knows her prickly—yet very hot—boss, Henry, could provide the help she needs. But she joined the CDC to root out insiders plotting to unleash a bio-engineered pandemic, and she can't trust anyone. Not even Henry.

 

Excerpt

 

About time he called her. Where the hell was he?

She answered the phone with, “Where have you been?”

“Your brother is with us, Miss Toth,” a distorted voice said. “If you don’t do everything we tell you to do, you’ll never see him in one piece again.”

A cold fist punched her in the stomach, and she was standing without recalling how she got there. The cold pushed its way through her body, weakening her knees until she collapsed back onto the chair she’d been sitting on.

“Who is this?”

“You know who we are.” The distortion made it impossible to discern if the voice was male or female. “Your brother is healthy. For the moment.”

Assholes. Anger freed her diaphragm from its icy cage. She harnessed the energy and rode it, breaking it down into something useful. Patience.

Watch, wait, listen, then act. She’d learned the hard way not to let her emotions hijack her mouth. To get along with difficult people, you had to figure out what they wanted and what they didn’t before you spoke.

What kind of response would a bunch of terrorists who’d kidnapped her brother want from her? Defeat, not defiance. Compliance, not confidence. She needed to make them believe she’d do whatever they told her to do.

“Please don’t hurt him. Wh-what do you want?” There was enough adrenaline surging through her system it wasn’t hard to stutter and breathe a little too hard. To sound like she was on the edge of panic.

“A live sample of smallpox.” Despite the distortion, the voice sounded self-satisfied. Arrogant. Superior. For a moment, she couldn’t quite believe what she heard.

“You can’t be serious.”

“Get it or your brother dies.”

“How do I know he’s not already dead?” Her voice broke on the last word.

 

About the Author

Full-time author and workshop facilitator, Julie Rowe’s first career as a medical lab technologist in Canada took her to the North West Territories and Fort McMurray, Alberta, where she still resides. Her most recent titles include Search & Destroy book #4 of the Outbreak Taskforce series and Trapped with the Secret Agent book #1 of the Trapped with Him series. Julie’s articles have appeared in magazines, such as Romantic Times Magazine, Today's Parent magazine and Canadian Living. Julie facilitates communication workshops at Keyano College in Fort McMurray, and has presented writing workshops at conferences in the United States and Canada. You can find her at www.julieroweauthor.com , on Twitter @julieroweauthor or at her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/JulieRoweAuthor.


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Virtual Book Tour: It Takes Death to Reach a Star by Stu Jones & Gareth Worthington


Sci fi, dystopian, apocalyptic

Date Published: May 22 2018

Publisher: Vesuvian Books


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The world you know is dead. We did this to ourselves.

The epidemic struck at the end of the Third World War. Fighting over oil, power, and religion, governments ignored the rise of an antibacterial-resistant plague. In just five years, the Earth was annihilated. Only one city survived—Etyom—a frozen hellhole in northern Siberia, engulfed in endless conflict.

The year is 2251.

Two groups emerged from the ashes of the old world. Within the walled city of Lower Etyom dwell the Robusts—descendants of the poor who were immune to the New Black Death. Above them, in a metropolis of pristine platforms called lillipads, live the Graciles—the progeny of the superrich, bio-engineered to resist the plague.

Mila Solokoff is a Robust who trades information in a world where knowing too much can get you killed. Caught in a deal gone bad, she's forced to take a high-risk job for a clandestine organization hell-bent on revolution.

Demitri Stasevich is a Gracile with a dark secret—a sickness that, if discovered, will get him Ax'd. His only relief is an illegal narcotic produced by the Robusts, and his only means of obtaining it is a journey to the arctic hell far below New Etyom.

Thrust together in the midst of a sinister plot that threatens all life above and below the cloud line, Mila and Demitri must master their demons and make a choice—one that will either salvage what's left of the human race or doom it to extinction …

 

        Bronze Medal Winner — 2019 Independent Publisher Book Awards — Science Fiction

·         Gold (1st Place) Winner — 2019 Feathered Quill Book Awards — Science Fiction/Fantasy

·         Finalist — 2018 Dragon Awards — Science Fiction

·         Winner — 2018 New York Book Festival — Science Fiction

·         First Place Ribbon — 2018 Chanticleer International Book Awards — Science Fiction

  

 

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Next Book in the Series



Sci fi, Dystopian, Apocalyptic

Date Published: Aug 25 2020

Publisher: Vesuvian Books


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Four years have passed since the lillipads fell and Etyom slipped into darkness. The New Black Death has mutated again, spreading to near epidemic proportions. What little order existed in Earth’s last city has disintegrated into chaos.

Rippers roam the Vapid, robbing and leaving their victims butchered. The Robusts have spilled out of their broken enclaves and hide in any dark corner that will conceal them. Meanwhile, the elite Graciles, fallen from their pristine towers in the sky, have all mysteriously disappeared.

Demitri is a prisoner in his own mind. His demon, Vedmak—now known as the Vard√łger—is manipulating Demitri’s body to execute a secret plan far more disastrous than even the Gracile Leader dared.

Mila, her status among the fractured resistance elevated to that of Paladyn—a protector of the people—leads the fight against zealots intent on destroying what little remains of Etyom. It is a responsibility she never wanted, a calling that prevents her from doing what she truly desires.

Yet, Mila should be careful of what she longs. Caught between annihilation and loyalties that refuse to die, she must reconcile a single immutable truth: following your heart comes at a price.


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 About Stu Jones


A veteran law enforcement officer, Stu Jones has worked as a beat cop, an investigator, an instructor of firearms and police defensive tactics and as a member and team leader of a multi-jurisdictional SWAT team.

 



About Gareth Worthington 


Gareth Worthington BSc PhD EMBA is a trained marine biologist and holds a doctorate in comparative endocrinology. Gareth works in the pharmaceutical industry helping to educate the world's doctors on new cancer therapies.

 

 

IT TAKES DEATH TO REACH A STAR: TRAILER #1 

IT TAKES DEATH TO REACH A STAR: TRAILER #2 

IN THE SHADOW OF A VALIANT MOON: TRAILER #1 

IN THE SHADOW OF A VALIANT MOON: TRAILER #2 

 

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Saturday, September 19, 2020

✱✱Audio Book Review✱✱ Playing to Win by Stacey Lynn


Playing to Win
Ice Kings
By: Stacey Lynn
Narrated by: Liam DiCosimo, Stella Hunter
Length: 5 hrs and 32 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 07-07-20
Language: English
Publisher: Spectrum Audiobooks

This time, he’s playing to win, and the prize he’s looking to score is me.

It was a three-week fling. Nothing more than a couple of college kids having some fun, but then I did the stupid thing and fell for Jude Taylor quicker than he can score a goal on the ice. And after one beautiful night together, he left for the pros before I could make my first cup of coffee. 

I thought I’d put him behind me. I thought I’d moved on. Then he hobbles into my physical therapy office and I realize how absolutely wrong I’ve been - there’s no getting over Jude Taylor. 

But now things are complicated. Jude lives half a country away and his career is in direct opposition to my need for stability. Most of all, getting involved with him could mean losing my job and everything I’ve worked so hard for. 

Jude doesn’t seem to mind one bit and he’s all in. He might be a patient in my office, but he’s no longer the patient guy I remember. 

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Momma Says: 3 stars⭐⭐⭐

I've read and enjoyed other books by Stacey Lynn, and I didn't get far into this one before I was wishing I'd just read it too. I think I would've liked it better. The story is interesting and the characters are likable, and I do like a second chance romance. Jude and Kate don't even have a lot of angst over their first chance, which was refreshing to see in this romance trope. They do have their hurdles, of course - we have to have some conflict to keep things moving along, but I like that it wasn't all about what happened the first time around. So, the story is good. The problem for me is all about the audio performance. Well, performances, but some parts were better than others. This one is done in dual narration just like the book is written with chapters alternating between Jude and Kate. Stella Hunter does a fair job with Kate's chapters. Some parts were better than others, and there were times when I would've liked to have heard a little more emotion, but mostly, she does pretty well. That said, Liam DiCosimo drove me to distraction. His voice is pleasant, but more often than not, it just lacks any feeling, which didn't do much for holding my attention. At the risk of sounding harsh, he may as well have been reading the newspaper for all the emotion being used, or not being used. There were a few rare moments when I heard some feeling, but mostly it was just a guy reading the lines without any connection to those lines. What it comes down to is I would definitely read another book by this author, and I'd probably listen to one too but not with these narrators. 

❃❃Audiobook provided by NetGalley and Spectrum Audio


✱✱Book Review✱✱ Shadow Garden by Alexandra Burt



Shadow Garden

by Alexandra Burt


A wealthy woman suspects something is off about the luxurious complex she lives in . . . and she is right, in this riveting domestic-suspense novel from international bestselling author Alexandra Burt.

Donna Pryor lives in the lap of luxury. She spends her days in a beautifully appointed condo. Her every whim is catered to by a dedicated staff, and she does not want for anything.

Except for news of her adult daughter.

Or an ex-husband who takes her calls.

Donna knows something is wrong, but she can't quite put her finger on it. As her life of privilege starts to feel more and more like a prison, the facade she has depended on begins to crumble. Somewhere in the ruins is the truth, and the closer Donna Pryor gets to it, the more likely it is to destroy her.

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Momma Says: 4 stars⭐⭐⭐⭐

The cover and title for this one caught my eye immediately. That cover is absolutely haunting, and with a title like Shadow Garden, I thought it just about had to be a doozy of a read. So, I checked out the blurb and went for it. And I realized pretty quickly that what I expected and what this book actually is are two very different things. It is certainly domestic drama, and there is some suspense, but it's a bit too predictable for much of that. Nevertheless, there's something immensely readable about this story, something as compelling as it was frustrating at times. The story is told by three characters, Donna, Edward, and their daughter Penelope, and not a one of them is exactly a reliable source of information. There also isn't a likable one in the bunch, so there's that. However, those things aren't what frustrated me. Unlikable and/or unreliable characters in a story like this are practically a given. What did frustrate me was the jumping back and forth in the timeline with little to no warning. It all feels rather scattered, but the more I read, the more it started coming together, and the more I felt like the style worked for this story. Donna felt scattered, herself, so the storyline reflecting that made sense. What it all comes down to is there were many things about this book that I wouldn't care for in most cases, but Alexandra Burt brings all those things together to create a story that I felt compelled to finish. Even the ending isn't what I would've liked for it to be, but again, it just worked for this book. My advice would be to go ahead and check out that terrific cover, and go ahead and read the intriguing blurb, then wipe the slate clean, and forget them both. Go into this one without preconceptions or expectations, and just settle in and read. Admittedly, this isn't the book for everyone, but it turned out to be the one for me. 

❃❃ARC provided by NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group

✱✱Book Review✱✱ Danger and Desire: A Romantic Suspense Anthology

 

Danger and Desire

A Romantic Suspense Anthology

by Kimberly Kincaid, Janie Crouch, Rachel Grant, Cristin Harber, Elle James, Maryann Jordan, Cat Johnson, Caitlyn O'Leary


Eight of today’s best-selling romantic suspense authors bring you BRAND NEW stories not available anywhere else! No cliffhangers, new stories, all sizzle! But this collection is only available for a limited time--after September 25, this deal will be GONE!


THE ROOKIE by Kimberly Kincaid
Police recruit Xander Matthews has two goals: to keep his head down and his dark and dangerous past where it belongs--behind him. He never thought he'd see brash, beautiful ADA Tara Kingston again. But now they must catch a brutal killer before it's too late.

SCOUT by Janie Crouch
Linear Tactical’s Wyatt Highfield is running for his life with intel that will break up a human trafficking ring. The last thing he wants is to bring danger to Nadine Macfarlane’s door. The gentle beauty has been through enough, and has the scars—physical and emotional—to prove it. But she’s his only option.

NIGHT OWL by Rachel Grant
Jenna O’Donnell wants only three things: to live in Tamarack, Alaska for the rest of her life; for Ted Godfrey to fall into a glacial crevasse; and Brad Fraser.
Brad Fraser wants only three things: to leave Tamarack, Alaska and never return; for his coworker, Ted Godfrey, to be fired; and to never, ever fall in love.
But Brad tempts fate when he takes Jenna out for a night of owl watching, and once he spends time alone with her, his carefully planned escape from both frigid north and fiery waitress is no longer simple…

THE GUARDIAN by Cristin Harber
After a rollercoaster of headline-grabbing family tragedies, Roxana Carter couldn’t have said yes any faster when her perfectly predictable boyfriend proposed marriage. But the arrival of a mysterious gun-wielding couple reveals that Roxana’s steadfast man isn’t who he seems.

BREAKING AWAY by Elle James
Delta Force Operative navigates dangerous territory when he’s assigned to protect a hotshot war correspondent with a price on her head, who also happens to be the girl who got away.

LEVI by Maryann Jordan
Heading from Wyoming to Maine to take on his new position with Lighthouse Security Investigations, Levi was ready to get off the highway and take the backroads. Offering to help a stranded woman seemed like a good idea until he discovered the secrets she was hiding. With the help of the LSI Keepers, can Levi untangle Claire's problems in time to save her life?

DESIRE IN D.C. by Cat Johnson
They couldn't be more different, but sometimes opposites attract so strongly, there's nothing that can keep two people apart. Not even a deadly terrorist hijacking . . .

LAWSON AND JILL by Caitlyn O’Leary
When Marine Raider, Lawson Thorne is goaded into grief counseling by his Navy SEAL brother, he never expected to meet the woman of his dreams. When he and Jill decide to ditch the group and form a group of their own, sparks fly. But what happens when Lawson realizes Jill has been targeted by a madman?

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Momma Says: 4 stars⭐⭐⭐⭐

There's no better way to meet a new author than in an anthology in my opinion. I prefer a mix of familiar favorites and new to me authors so I'm sure to like at least some of what I find. Usually, there will be at least one author or story that will be the draw for me. In this case, I was pretty sure I'd like most, if not all, of the stories enclosed since they're all romantic suspense - one of my favorite genres. This one has 8 novella length books in one, and it amounts to somewhere around 800 pages of - well, as the title says, Danger and Desire. Some are heavier on the danger, and others lean more toward the desire, but they all have some level of both.
The Rookie by Kimberly Kincaid starts with a good bit of excitement and doesn't let up. It's fast-paced, and Xander and Tara have great chemistry. It's a good mix of suspense, danger, and attraction, and ended up being one of my favorites in the collection.
Scout by Janie Crouch was the one that drew me to this collection, to begin with, and another favorite in the collection. As a fan of the Linear Tactical series, I'm always ready to gobble up anything that includes those characters. This one gives us Wyatt and Nadine, along with a few others from the Linear Tactical team. The romance moves a little faster than is typical for the series, but this is a novella, and it's done in a way that is kind of perfect for this couple and their story. It also has the author's usual flair for action and intrigue mixed with some well-timed wit. Many of the characters are from the Linear Tactical series, but Scout can be read as a standalone. I will warn that once you meet any of the characters from this series, you'll want to know them all.
Night Owl by Rachel Grant takes us to Alaska for a bit of romance and owl watching. This one starts as kind of a lust from afar type of thing with it being implied that the attraction has been there for some time but neither Brad nor Jenna have acted on it until now. Brad was a little too wishy-washy for me with his back and forth, 'I want her, but I shouldn't start something with her,' and it grew tedious even in a novella. Of course, that can't hold so we do get some romance, but it's not as suspenseful as I expected. This one also has a sort of open-ended conclusion with a mention of the series, so there is that. This is the only one in the series that had that open-ended vibe. I will say that other than Brad's indecision, the characters and storyline did hold my interest, and the series sounds promising. 
The Guardian by Cristin Harber is loaded with secrets that Jason and Roxana are going to need to overcome to get their happily ever after - if those secrets don't kill them first. This is another fast-paced story with a solid mix of romance and suspense. The story is entertaining and engaging, and I will be checking out more of Cristin Harber's work.
Levi by Maryann Jordan starts out a little bit slower than I prefer, especially in a novella, but that doesn't last long, and then we're off and running. The premise is interesting, and I love the idea of a romance blooming during a cross-country trip. Of course, that's not what Levi had planned as he set off for a new job, and he and Claire have plenty to deal with. This is another one with some great characters and an entertaining storyline.
Desire in D.C. by Cat Johnson is another favorite in this collection. I do love me some political intrigue, and this has plenty of that. There's also a romance that blooms despite different political beliefs and some heated debates, at least on one side of that debate - of course, the heat isn't all about different sides of the political arena, and it burns even hotter with the attraction between this couple.
Lawson and Jill by Caitlyn O’Leary was a little harder for me to read. Not because it isn't good, but because I've had my own grief to deal with these past few weeks. At the same time, it was a story that pulled me in, and I ended up liking it a great deal. This pair fits so well together and they do have their own danger to deal with. 
All in all, we have 8 stories of romantic suspense, and while I liked some better than others, they were all well worth the read, and in addition to enjoying an author I know and love, I've also found a few more to check out. 

❃❃ARC provided by the authors

The Vicar's Daughter Blitz


Gothic Regency Romance

Released: August 2020

Publisher: Kone Enterprises


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Independent and capable Prudence Wedderburn, daughter of a vicar, is a woman before her time. She not only manages the parish duties usually performed by a vicar's wife, she has learned the art of healing, and during her father's final illness, she also assumes some of his religious duties—all actions welcomed by her village until her father's death abruptly ends her life as First Lady of Kenner's Cove, Kent.

Well aware she must curb her independence—even learn to practice subservience, a quality entirely unknown to her—Prudence accepts a position as governess to a five-year-old girl in Cornwall. Where, alas, rumors of her activities in Kent plunge her into difficulties with the church, she clashes with her pupil's father (an earl), finds herself hip-deep in smugglers and Cornish legends, is befriended by a 500-year-old cat, and discovers that someone—several someones?—want to kill her. Finding a happy ending in a deluge of disasters will be the vicar's daughter's greatest challenge.


 

 


 

About the Author

My mother was a highly successful author of children's books, and for many years it never occurred to me it was possible to have two authors in the same family. I pursued a career in music, as teacher and performer, touring in the first National Company of The Sound of Music. But only when my children were off to college did I seriously consider trying my own hand at writing. And discovered I loved it. To be able to create people, even whole worlds from the imagination is a never-ending joy.

I was fortunate enough to win a number of writing awards, but after nine print books, in 2011 I plunged into the world of e-books and never looked back. It offers a level of creative freedom not to be found anywhere else. As Blair Bancroft, I have become best known for books set in the Regency period (early 19th c.)—Regency Gothics, Regency Historicals, Traditional Regencies, and a series that reveals the darker side of the Regency era (The Aphrodite Academy). I also write SciFi/Fantasy/Paranormal, Romantic Suspense, and Mystery, with a Medieval Young Adult and a Steampunk thrown in for good measure. (I do enjoy experimenting with new genres.)

I now have more than forty books available through online vendors, including a non-fiction compilation of all the Writing and Editing tips posted to my blog since 2011 (Making Magic with Words).

I am an outspoken advocate of "out of the mist" writing. One of my favorite sayings: I can hardly wait to sit down to my computer each morning and find out what my characters are going to do today.

 

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