Guest Promotion–Too Old For Christmas by Zina Abbott

A holiday romance set in 1854 Columbia, California.
Too Old for Christmas, by Zina Abbott.



 About the Book:

Irishman Sean Flood
survived the potato famine, crossing the Atlantic, the Mexican-American War,
and wandering the Western wilderness with his mules and freight wagon. But, due to poor diet and deprivation, his teeth did not fare well. It’s November of
1854 in Columbia, California, Queen of the Southern Mines, a city Sean is helping to rebuild after the disastrous fire the previous summer. Intense stabbing tooth pain drives him to see Doc Massey, the local dentist. He first stops
by the mercantile to pick up a bottle of whiskey—for medicinal purposes—and food­­­­ he’ll be able to eat when it’s all over. If only the beautiful but aggravating
woman ahead of him who keeps her face half hidden and insists she won’t accept charity would finish up with her purchase so he can get his supplies, his tooth pulled and return home to his mules and half-built cabin….

That night, Sean meets the woman’s two sons, Jesse and Benjy McNair, and learns her secret. He decides with only three teeth left in his head, he needs widow Ona McNair’s charity—and he’s willing to pay for it. Sean won’t accept nine year-old Jesse’s declaration his family’s poverty means the boy is too old for Christmas that
year. Sean is a full-grown man and he’s not too old for Christmas. He not only plans to come bearing gifts to Christmas Eve dinner with the McNairs, but he knows exactly what gift he wants for himself.  

          Even though he burrowed deep into his
blankets inside the steep-sided

Carriage house at Columbia State Park

freight wagon that served as his bedroom, Sean sensed the inside of the barn grow brighter as someone opened the door. He threw his arm over his squeezed-tight eyes and groaned as the pounding headache topped by a touch of nausea hit him full force.

          “Mr. Flood. Are you in here?”
          Sean recognized the woman’s voice. It belonged to the aggravating blue-eyed beauty he had met the day before—the McNair boys’ mother.
          Aye, nothing like meeting a woman when you be at your worst, boyo.
          “I told you he keeps all his things in the wagon and sleeps in there, Ma. We only built a fire inside the cabin out of the wind to fix his supper.”
          So, Jesse, you had to be bringing your ma up to talk to me at the crack of dawn, did you?
          “Mr. Flood, if you’re here, may I please speak with you for a moment? The boys said you wanted to talk to me about chicken soup. They were very insistent I come.”
          “Aye, be with you by the by.”
          Sean stretched and rubbed his fingers through his hair, then scratched his beard. Unfortunately, it did nothing to ease his aching head. With his hair sticking up in tufts twisted in every direction, his beard bristling every which way and his rumpled clothes smelling sour with sweat, Sean felt loathe to face his visitors.
          A woman will nay be letting a man die in peace, now will she? ’Tis what you get for having the boys ask their ma to cook for you.



Too Old for Christmas is now available on pre-order at Amazon, release date is November 18th. You may purchase it by clicking HERE. It will be available on Nook soon.

 About the Author:

Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels. 

The author
currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” She
is a member of Women Writing the West, American Night Writers Association, and
Modesto Writers Meet Up. She currently lives with her husband in California near the “Gateway to Yosemite.” She enjoys any kind of history including family history. When she is not piecing together novel plots, she pieces together quilt blocks.



Zina Abbott Links:


Grateful For Books Blog Hop


Why I’m grateful for books:

Growing up a shy child, books were the friends I wished to have. Reading about brave or adventurous story characters helped me absorb just a little of those elements. Pippi Longstocking was an elementary school favorite because she was so bold, outrageous and had super-strength. Not go to school? Sail away on the ocean with a horse and monkey as pets? Those actions were daring to imagine but very far outside my suburban experience. This is about the time I discovered the Little House books and what young city girl didn’t want to get into such innocent mischief like she did. I’ve re-read the series a couple of times, attributing the beginning of my love of historical fiction to that series.

When I hit that age when all girls seemed to yearn to own a horse, I discovered My Friend Flicka, The Black Stallion, National Velvet and Black Beauty. Those books were read and re-read, and plastic horses were integrated into my Barbie doll collection. Then I discovered the Nancy Drew series and imagined myself as a young crime-solving detective. And oh, Nancy drove such a sporty little car. During high school and college, pleasure reading took a backseat except for the occasional “must read” like The Exorcist or Roots.

While raising my kids, I always made sure to include a wide diversity of type of books in our family read-aloud titles. From their homework assignments, I was introduced to new authors and exciting characters in stories that became much-beloved. I remember one summer of several novels having death as a theme and those titles are imprinted as definite tear-jerkers. Like the movies you’re glad you saw but won’t seek out again for a repeat viewing.

Now, as a writer, I build on all I’ve learned from those stories and always have the fervent wish that a story I’ve created has the power to evoke emotion in the reader.

Please enter the rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance at the audio version (3 copies) of historical Christmas novella, The Ring That Binds, or an ebook of On With The Show, a Thanksgiving-themed contemporary novella. [if the icon doesn’t appear, use this link: ]

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Also participating in the blog hop are the following authors:

Character Interview from A Knight To Remember by M.J. Schiller


Tell us your name.

I’m called Orion.

Where were you raised?

When I was a small child my parents saw something in me, and left me at the Academy of the High Order. That was where I was raised. My instructors and fellow students became my family, but of course I was closest with my mentor, Sir Darius Lee. When Darius married, his wife, Maggie, became like a sister to me. Sort of. We also have a kind of odd assortment of friends we have gathered throughout our travels across the galaxy that I would consider part of my family.

The Academy was a beautiful place to grow up. It is kind of like a huge crystal palace built into the side of a cliff on the planet Albion.

Are you athletic?

I’m not quite sure what you mean by ath-let-tic. I am fit. My coordination was honed at the Academy through many classes and exercises. I feel I had some natural talents to begin with, but I learned a lot from my Master, Darius, and even Maggie. *grins* Yes, she’s taught me a thing or two. And I like to think I’ve learned from every opponent I’ve faced as well. That’s the only way you can get better. 

Did you always want to be a Knight?

Well, it wasn’t like I was given a choice. But, yes. It is an honorable job. I like serving the common good and trying to protect the innocent from those who mean them harm. Plus, I get to meet all sorts of people and travel to amazing places. Some dark and miserable, some unbelievably beautiful.

What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you?

Ha! Ha! Where do I start? One of the craziest, and most wonderful things that has ever happened to me actually happened on my wedding night. No, before that. Although that was wonderful…and amazing… Ahem. What I was referring to was when my wife sang this little number…she was wearing this red boa and man! The way she moved! Mmm.

Talk about your favorite setting for a date. (or favorite way to court a woman)

There has only been one woman for me. And we’ve only really been on one date. We went to this place that Darius and I trained at. It was quite a hike up to the spot I wanted to share with her, but well worth the effort. The scenery was spectacular. A lovely spot for a dip in the water with a woman who made me forget about all of it. All I was aware of was her.




M.J. Schiller profile pic (picmonkeyed)

I was born in Overland Park, KS, grew up in St. Louis, MO, went to school at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and moved to Bloomington, IL fresh out of college. I worked as a high school/junior college teacher, personnel recruiter, office manager of a jewelry store, and, for the past ten years plus, as a lunch lady. I like to karaoke and attend rock concerts. I’m also actively involved at church and spend too much time on Facebook. I am the mother of a twenty-year-old and eighteen-year-old triplets, and have been married to my husband, Don, for over twenty-five years.

Cover Reveal for Hearts Of Valor

Hearts Of Valor
The Promise by London Saint James

The year Veronica turned twenty-two changed her life. She graduated from San Diego State University, married the handsome Lieutenant Carter Weis—widowed six months after the happy nuptials.

Captain Quinn Alstrom of the U.S. Coast Guard was eager to start his newest post; however the excitement had nothing to do with the beautiful surroundings of Key West, and everything to do with his best friend’s wife.

Will Quinn’s surprise arrival in Veronica’s life re-spark the fire in the vivacious woman he remembered? Or, will the memory of her fallen husband stop the two of them from finding happiness?
A Manly Man by Jean Young

Confederate POW, Braxton Bolton, had an unexpected visitor the day before his execution, when Arabella Anderson walked into his jail cell and, in front of other POWs, kissed him until he shook with desire.

Two years prior, she had been the Lieutenant Colonel’s prisoner. While she was tortured and raped by the other Confederate soldiers, Bolton was different. He protected her from further suffering, and the grateful young woman had come to repay his kindness. While they became more and more intimate, she learned the story behind his kindness.

But what she learned while with her hero POW, turns the sweet girl into a fearsome warrior. One determined to save the soldier with a noble heart.
Hero of Her Heart by S.L. Hughson

Nicole Taylor has loved Vincent for years. Now he’s back from serving in the Army, and she’s determined to make him see her as something other than a little sister.

After a heated Valentine’s date, Nicole is confused by Vince’s withdrawal. She confronts him, but no matter how hot their physical attraction, he keeps backing away.

Nicole helps him follow his lifelong dreams but he drifts further from her happily-ever-after plans. What will it take for him to see he is truly the hero of her heart?
Feathers by T. E. Hodden

Kerry only wanted to do right by Christopher. To protect him from the whispers of ‘coward’ and the shame of a white feather.

But the war doesn’t look like a grand adventure any more. All Kerry wants is Chris home safe. But will he still be the same man she once knew?
Goin’ Home by Philip Lisagor

How will Jack be able to put Iraq behind him and return home to Leah and their two children? The green peaceful coast of Ireland is the perfect landing zone from the brown violent landscape of Mesopotamia. Jack is humping his ruck along the North Atlantic coast when a chance encounter with an Irish maiden turns him all around and he hears the voice of Leah in a magical moment calling him home.

Character Interviews from Two Tutor Doves by Patricia Kiyono

How about you introduce yourself by providing the basics?

My name is Jeanne Brown. I am lady’s maid to the Duchess of Bartlett.

I am Robert Townley, valet to Phillip Peartree, Duke of Bartlett.

Where were you raised? 

I was born in France. My mother was the daughter of a wealthy French aristocrat, and my father was an Englishman. When I was young, we moved to England to get away from the unrest of the French revolution. We lived in the English countryside near my father’s family.

I was raised in Bartlett Manor, in Lincolnshire. My father was valet to the present duke’s father. My mother died when I was young, and the duchess allowed me to live on the estate with my father.

Family members?

My father died in a farming accident when I was a teenager, and I went to work in the home of the Earl of Sudbury to help support my mother and younger brother Pierre. But the house burned down and my mother died in the fire. My brother’s body was never found, and no one knew what happened to him.

I don’t remember my mother, and I don’t have any siblings. I was raised with the present duke, but my father taught me to always remember my place.

Did you always want to be a lady’s maid? 

I never really thought about it. I became a domestic servant because I had to make money, and there really aren’t many professions open to women.

Being a valet is all I know. My father and his father before him served the Peartree family.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I enjoy sewing and knitting, although my duties don’t allow much time for them. I did manage to make some clothes and blankets for the new baby.

My father took me to the boxing saloon in London when I was a teenager so that I’d learn how to defend myself from ruffians. Now I go there when I need to think, or when I need to work out my frustrations.

Describe your ideal mate.

I never imagined marrying. I always assumed I’d remain in the duke’s household all my life. But I suppose if I met someone like my father, I’d be tempted to leave. Papa was handsome and strong, and he always took time to play and read to my brother and me. Until he died, he did his best to provide for all of us. He was our hero.

I’d never thought about marrying until recently, especially with the duke and duchess expecting their first child. I grew up without a mother, so the previous duchess is the only mother figure I’ve known. Children are a legacy, and in order to have children, I need a wife. My ideal mate would be intelligent and well mannered. She wouldn’t have to be beautiful, but at least pleasant to look at. And she would need to know how to work with children, because I simply don’t have the patience for them and their endless questions.

TwoTutorDoves 500x750BLURB

Robert Townley prides himself as an efficient and indispensible valet to Phillip, Duke of Bartlett. But when Robert is coerced into teaching the poor children at the duchess’ chapel school, he’s out of his element. Thankfully, he has assistance from some of the other servants, including the prickly Miss Brown.

Jeanne Brown is lady’s maid to the Duchess of Bartlett. She loves working with the children but can’t abide Robert’s lofty attitude toward them. She’d love to put him in his place — but she needs her job.

When the duchess decides to hold the school’s Christmas party in her home, Robert and Jeanne must put aside their differences and work together to ensure that the holiday celebration goes off without a hitch. Will they be able to endure the partnership, or will their sparks ignite something more?


Two Tutor Doves is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, and Itunes.


What would it be like to have a family of my own, a home where I could decide what to put where, and a husband who will give me children?

Taking one last glance around the room, she noticed a candle out of place above the mantle. Pushing one of the library ladders over to the correct wall, she mounted the bottom step.

“Miss Brown, please allow me.” Robert appeared behind her, and his nearness sent a warm glow through her.

“Oh, I’m not going very high. I just want to straighten that candle up there.”

“Then I shall hold the ladder steady for you.”

She opened her mouth to argue, but thought better of it and nodded. If not held still, the wheels on the bottom of the ladder could cause it to move. Robert put his foot on the bottom step and held on to the side rails, using his weight to hold the ladder still. She made quick work of straightening the errant candle and came back down.

Stepping backward off the bottom step, her back made contact with Robert’s chest, and she realized he still held on to the ladder. She basked in the circle of his powerful arms. “Er, thank you.”

“It was my pleasure. If the ladder had moved while you were perched on it and you were hurt, I would be devastated.” His warm breath tickled her neck, and a delicious shiver ran through her. The sensation burned in her memory long after they parted ways and she retired for the night.

Blast the man!


In a previous life, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary school students by day and changed diapers at night. Now she teaches college students part time and changes diapers only when she’s taking care of grandkids. She loves to do anything that doesn’t involve exercise. Right now her favorite activities, in addition to writing, include scrapbooking, sewing, and making music. She and her husband live in southwest Michigan, near their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.


Patricia can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and Pinterest, as well as her website and blog.


Cover Image Preferences

cowboy hat

I spent three hours yesterday looking through a stock photo site to find images for a new historical series. (I know I’ll spend an equal time today on other sites.) The setting is 1870s Texas and the genre is clean romance. So far the heroes are ranchers or cowhands, so my idea was to have a man and a horse against a background.

Although the stories are centered around a specific holiday, I didn’t want to limit the appeal by including any symbol of that–maybe just a background depicting the season.

bluebonnets in Big Bend





My quandary is the number of couples in authentic dress is limited and are used and re-used within the subgenre. And I always want my covers to be “different.” My question is, for a western historical, would you expect to see a couple? Or would a lone cowboy be enticing?

horseman with big skyI’d love to hear any and all opinions.




Halloween-Themed Boxed Set

Look what’s available for a bargain price of only $.99!! 573 pages of creepy sweet-to-sensual western romance stories.


A boxed set of all twelve novelettes from both western romance anthologies titled Cowboys, Creatures and Calico.

Titles and authors include:

Family Tradition by Kathleen Rice Adams

For Love of a Brystile Witch by Kaye Spencer

Have Wand — Will Travel by Jacquie Rogers

Hunter and Lily Graham By C. Marie Bowen

Spellbound by Cheryl Pierson

The Beast of Hazard by Sarah J. McNeal

The Bridesmaid by Tanya Hanson

The Crow and the Coyote by Kristy McCaffrey

The Legend of Venture Canyon by Shayna Matthews

The Sheriff of Hel’n Gone by Lorrie Farrelly

Wanderer, Come Home by Linda Carroll-Bradd

Wild Injuns, Wicked Trains, and Cerulean Blue by Cher’ley Grogg
Buy your set today at this bargain price and settle in for wonderful storytelling.

Amazon buy link


Character Interview of Natalie Jayne of Scarred by Alicia Dean

How about you introduce yourself by providing the basics?

My name is Natalie Jayne, and I’m a fashion buyer.

Where were you raised?

I was born and raised in Westbury, Maine, but moved to Oklahoma my senior year of high school.

Family members?

I have both my parents, but I’m an only child.

What do you like most about being a fashion buyer?

I love losing myself in the study of beautiful clothes. Sometimes, I get so engrossed, I forget everything else in the world.

List your favorite movie of all time and why:

My favorite movies are comedies. I don’t like scary movies, suspense or any kind of drama, any dark movies at all. Life is dark enough, your entertainment should be light.

What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you?

Probably when I was in high school and I accidentally used my ‘gift’ with our beloved principal. I saw things, awful things about him. He was fired, and even though he was guilty, the entire town treated me like I was at fault.

Where did you go for your most recent vacation?

I travel so much with my job that I seldom take vacations. Plus, I would have to take them alone since I don’t really have friends or a significant other. Most recently, I was in Paris on a business trip. All alone in the City of Love. Fun, right?

What attracts you first to a man?

I think first off, physically, I’m usually drawn to their eyes. But deep down, I look for someone with strength of character who is caring.

Are you talking about a particular man?

Well, maybe… I don’t date because of my ‘gift.’ When I touch a person with my hands, I see things about them, things I shouldn’t know. I avoid relationships because of that. I mean, who wants to know everything about the person they’re intimate with, right? But, Simon Cordell… I dated him in high school, then I had to move away and leave him. He was someone with great strength of character, and one of the few people who didn’t treat me like I was some kind of freak. Oh, and he had the most gorgeous dark eyes. They literally glittered like a midnight sky.



Is her ability to uncover secrets with a simple touch a blessing or a curse?

When Natalie Jayne moved away from her home town ten years earlier, she left behind painful memories, along with Simon, the man she loved.

Now, she’s back on Halloween night to attend a memorial marking the one-year anniversary of the tragic death of her childhood friend, Jessica.

Rumors that Simon was responsible for Jessica’s untimely passing shake/unnerve/rattle/alarm/dishearten her. Even more disturbing is her unsettling attraction to a masked stranger in attendance at the event.

Her gift may be the key to unlocking the truth, but will it also lead to heartbreak?




Kristopher stood on a small stage at the end of the ballroom. He wore a white tux with a black tie, his blond hair glowing like a halo, although the image was deceiving. The man was as duplicitous as Satan himself.

He spoke into the microphone, his voice booming throughout the cavernous room. “I would like to thank each and every one of you for coming tonight, to not only pay tribute to Jessica Thacker and her death, but to celebrate her life.” He grew silent and cleared his throat. When he spoke again, his voice was hoarse. “She was a special person, a beautiful soul who loved people, loved life. She would be honored to see the number of people who gathered to pay homage.”

The crowd erupted in cheers. When they quieted, Kristopher said, “While this is a night of reverence and honor, it’s also a night to remember the brutal, senseless way that she died. Although the monster responsible is free, we must never forget, never let him live in peace. Simon Cordell is free to live his life, while our beloved Jessica lies in a cold grave.”

Simon’s heart sped up. Although the people in the room didn’t know he was here, he could feel their anger, their accusation. His skin burned with the heat of their ire. He stepped back, planning to retreat, when Natalie spoke.

“That’s not fair!” Her voice rose in the momentary silence. “Simon was absolved of her death, and you need to let him be.”

Kristopher’s gaze swung to her. “Natalie Jayne?” Even from this distance, Simon could see red suffuse Kristopher’s face. “You have no right to show up here a year after her death, after not even attending her funeral, and speak of something you know nothing about.”

Natalie lifted her skirts and headed toward the stage. Simon wanted to call her back, to keep her from coming to his defense, but she was already approaching the podium.

She moved gracefully up the steps and to the microphone. Kristopher held up his hands as if to push her away, and Simon tensed. If he laid a hand on her…

Author Picture - Alicia Dean

I live in Edmond, Oklahoma. I have three grown children and a huge network of supportive friends and family. I write mostly contemporary suspense and paranormal, but have also written in other genres, including a few vintage historicals.

Other than reading and writing, my passions are Elvis Presley, MLB, NFL (I usually work in a mention of one or all three into my stories) and watching my favorite televisions shows like Vampire Diaries, Justified, Sons of Anarchy, Haven, New Girl, The Mindy Project, and Dexter (Yes, I know some have ended, but I will forever be a fan). Some of my favorite authors are Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, Lee Child, Lisa Gardner, Sharon Sala, Jordan Dane, Ridley Pearson, Joseph Finder, and Jonathan Kellerman…to name a few.








Release Day for Hauntings In The Garden, Vol. II

An anthology of Halloween-themed stories published by The Wild Rose Press


Unlocked Treasure by Linda Carroll-Bradd

Aleen MacRae resists the lure of the sea. But when her interest is caught by a man she sees both in person and in a dream, she is afraid that her future is tied to the sea.

Braden Williams hunt for buried treasure brings him to Aleen. Collaboration on genealogy research draws them closer, and Braden steers her toward his true passion—sailing.

Will Aleen play things safe or accept what this free-spirited man offers?

Love Her Like the Devil by Stacy Dawn

A chance meeting in a honky tonk on Halloween finds Luke in the arms of a brown-haired beauty. But if the stories he overhears are true, she may be far more than she seems…and he’s more than ready to find out.

Caper Magic by Veronica Lynch

P.I. Nick Forrester has tracked a woman on the run to Cape Brendan. Within days he is confronted by Annunciata Doyle, a vivid reminder of a pain-filled past.

On the shores of Lake Ontario, Nunie Doyle has earned the love and respect of new friends and neighbors—and put her talent for helping women to good use.

Together again, Nicke and Nunie discover a side of each other that has them considering drastic changes for the rest of their lives. Is it madness or Caper Magic?

ShriekWeek by Anne Knol

Two problems threaten Maggie Ballater’s new career as Island events organizer. One is the inexplicable murder of the lead actor in her Halloween pageant. The other is a dangerously attractive guitarist, Bram Jenkins, who brings back memories she’d rather forget. Is his interest in her real, or is he stalking her with a more sinister motive?



All Romance ebooks

Barnes & Noble

For a chance to win a copy of this ebook, leave a comment about your favorite aspect of the Halloween holiday, past or present.

Character Interview from Blood Moon by Leah St. James


How about you introduce yourself by providing the basics?

Good morning, Linda. Thanks so much for having me on your blog today. I’m excited to meet your readers!

Where were you raised?

I’m a Midwestern girl, born and raised in Iowa, in a town near the bump at the Mississippi. I attended college in Virginia though, and fell in love with the beach. I moved there my sophomore year of college and never went back.

Family members?

My mom, dad and younger brother still live in Iowa. We visit every so often, mostly around the holidays. Thank goodness for Skype!

My husband, Matt, is an FBI agent assigned to the nearby field office. I met him at a mystery conference. He was giving a talk on profiling serial killers, and I asked him to show me his badge <winking>. We’ve been together since.

Did you always want to be a book reviewer?

Well, no. My degree was in English lit, so I always hoped I would do something with books and fiction. I was one of those kids who hid under the blankets with a flashlight reading after my bedtime. I started my review blog, Readers’ Retreat, in college, and it took off. Now I read and review two to three books a week.

What do you like most about reviewing books?

The best part is discovering a new author and helping to get the word out to other readers. It’s like finding that pristine, perfectly formed conch shell on the beach after a storm. Like it’s been there all along, just had to get churned to the surface.

 What are your reading tastes?

My personal favorite is romantic suspense. I love that feeling of apprehension in a well-crafted suspense novel, and trying to figure out how the hero and heroine will get themselves out of trouble, and into love. I also love relationship stories, not necessarily romantic. You know, like mother-daughter stories, or sibling stories.

Professionally, I read pretty much all genres, but I draw the line at the way-out things, like bestiality.

List your favorite book of all time and why.

Oh gosh…that’s a tough one. I don’t think I can. It would be like picking a favorite child.

Do you have any hobbies?

I love to cook and experiment with new textures and flavors. It’s a great outlet to cleanse my palate, so to speak, between books.

 What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you?

(Shivering) Well, last Halloween I got in a bit of trouble while Matt and I were walking on the beach. There was this big, red moon in the sky, and it was so romantic. And all of a sudden, all you-know-what broke loose. (Shivers again.) But, you know, now I’m fine, Matt is fine, and the bad guy is behind bars…I hope.



Leah St. James – Blood Moon

One Halloween night, a killer terrorized a strip of Virginia beachfront, murdering a dozen young women whose only crime was walking the beach with a boyfriend. Now, fifty years later, book reviewer Ronnie can’t shake the feeling that another has come to take his place. Is it nothing more than her vivid imagination running wild, or are the spirits stirring, warning of approaching danger?



Barnes & Noble


Leah is a worrier, a self-described neurotic who tends to imagine the worst-case scenario in response to brewing troubles. She hasn’t decided if this leaning toward the dark side is what draws her to write edgy, gritty stories, or if the suspenseful mysteries and Gothic romances that filled her childhood bookshelves somehow imprinted their shadows on her psyche.  Despite (or maybe because of) this propensity for infusing her fiction with murder and mayhem, she still craves those happily-ever-after endings and the romance of everlasting love.

You can read more about Leah at

Connect with Leah on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

EXCERPT  FROM “BLOOD MOON” included in “Mysteries of the Macabre | A Halloween Anthology.”

On the beach, two lovers kissed. Behind them, the moon—hanging giant and hazy red in the sky—dripped feathery tendrils into the sea, painting crimson tips on the dancing waves.

Its raw beauty was lost on the two, engrossed as they were in each other, entwined so closely, they appeared from a distance as one. They never heard my approach. Never knew I’d been observing them earlier while they joined their friends around a bonfire.

I moved closer, my steps inaudible over the crashing surf. Something about the woman—girl really—called to me. More than that…vexed me.

Maybe it was her waist-length hair the color of coal. Most of the girls teased their hair into those ugly beehives, but she’d let hers flow free, like a curtain of silk. She reminded me of…

I forced that image from my mind. Maybe it was the way her date, a handsome young man, brought her hand to his mouth for a kiss. He pressed his lips not to the back of her hand, like a gentleman would, but to the center of her palm. I imagined their eyes making love as surely as if they lay together, unclothed, in bed.

Maybe it was her response, a trill of sensuous laughter, carried by the sea-scented breezes to my ears.

My stomach stormed. What made her boy-man so special? Why did he deserve her love?

A need to make her suffer, just as I had suffered, rose and filled my soul with hate. Despite that, my hands flexed with the urge to touch, to sample the woman’s lushness, the curves so happily on display in the indecently short dress with fanciful red polka dots that looked eerily like that moon.

Was it a symbol, a sign, that it was time to indulge that craving for her body, her blood? Was it destiny that brought me to their part of the world on that specific night?

 I moved in. First on the boyfriend. So unaware. So full of youthful passion in the way he clutched her close. A quick chop to the back of the head, and the boy-man was down, twitching in the sand. When he woke, would he understand that it was his attention that caused her death?

I turned to her. She backed up, her eyes rounded, her hands over her open mouth. Screams bubbled from her crimson lips, so loud and shrill they must have come from some deep dark place in her soul.

Blood coursed through my veins, carried by the excitement of the prize before me, and I laughed at the sheer power of the moment. I stepped closer, close enough to see that her cheeks were wet with tears, close enough to smell fear.

I grabbed for her and —

Something hot and sweaty clamped on the back of Ronnie’s neck, and a shriek tore up her throat as she twisted to face her attacker.

Matthew jumped  back, hands lifted, palms out. “What the hell, Ronnie? I just wanted to tell you it’s almost time to go.”

“Sorry.” Sitting up from where she’d been lounging on the couch, she gave her husband a sheepish smile and drew in a slow breath to calm her heart. “I was reading.” She flipped the paperback around to show him the cover of the true-crime novel she’d started earlier in the day.

Half illustration, half black-and-white photo, it depicted a shadowed man poised over a woman sprawled on a beach. Her body lay prone, right arm akimbo, legs splayed. A tear in the bodice of her mini-dress revealed a jagged, bloody gash over her heart. Blood had gushed from the wound and pooled in the sand at her side, puddled slick and oily-looking in a splash of red moonlight. In the background, a man’s face stared from behind prison bars with eyes that were at once triumphant and defiant.

It was a mock-up—he’d never been caught—but every time Ronnie looked at the cover, she shivered at the sheer evil of the man whose very real kill diary had been excerpted in the best-seller.

With a snort, Matthew took the paperback, flipped her bookmark in place, then snapped it shut and placed it on the end table. “What a shock. I’m surprised you even remember you have a real life half the time. Pretty soon you’re going to be buried in your work…literally.” He gestured to the several stacks of books crawling drunkenly up the wall in the corner of their living room.

“Not all of us can have jobs saving the world,” she said, raising her voice so he could hear her as he walked away. Wasn’t a big to-be-read pile to be expected for the life of a book reviewer?

by author Linda Carroll-Bradd