Category Archives: guest release

Guest Release–The Fourth Victim by Beverley Bateman

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Sara’s emotionally abusive husband dies unexpectedly. She’s struggling to reclaim the intelligent, independent person she was before she married. Now she’s part of a special team, training to help other women.

Mac is responsible for training women in special ops, so they are prepared in their challenge to save other women. When he meets Sara, sparks fly between them. He wants her to quit the training and let him take care of her.

Sara graduates. Her first assignment is to save Sara’s daughter from a serial killer. Can Mac step back in this dangerous situation? Can Sara and Mac resolve their issues?

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EXCERPT

The office said he’d had a heart attack. Was he alive? Did she want him to be? What if her husband had to stay home for a few weeks to recuperate? Palms sweating, Sara’s breath came in short, shallow bursts at the thought.

The taxi jerked to a stop in front of the hospital emergency entrance.

Sara fumbled through her purse and counted out her meager number of dollar bills. Gordon didn’t allow her to have a credit card and he only allowed her to have a small amount of cash. She didn’t have enough money to pay the taxi.

“I’m so sorry. I left home without any cash. I…I … Would you take a check?” Tears spilled over and trickled down her flushed cheeks.

The driver spun around. A short stubby finger waved at the sign over the rearview mirror. “Look lady, it says right there – No Checks.”

“I know, I know. I’m sorry. My husband’s had a heart attack and I … I don’t know what to do.” Sara ran her fingers through her hair and scrunched the tight bun at her neck.

The driver shook his head. “Aw, shit. Go ahead, lady. Write the check.”

Sara pulled the single crumpled check Gordon allowed her carry for emergencies out of her purse. When she touched the check a vision of Gordon floated in front of her.

She froze and rapidly blinked her eyes. She only saw the ghosts of dead people. Gordon didn’t believe her and forbid her to ever mention it.

Could he really be dead?

“Gordon?” she whispered.

“Lady, are you writing that check or not?”

“Yes, sorry.” Sara scribbled her signature on the bottom of the check. “Please, fill it in, and give yourself a generous tip. Thank you, thank you so much.” She clutching her worn purse to her chest, slid out of the cab, and scurried through the emergency room doors.

What if he was dead? She didn’t have any money. Gordon did all the finances and never shared anything with her. How would she manage?

Twenty years ago she could have handled it. Could she do it again? But he couldn’t be dead. Gordon would never allow that to happen.

His face flitted in front of her, fixed in an angry glare.

He had to be dead or she wouldn’t be seeing him. He didn’t want to be dead. He didn’t want her to be free. If he thought she could see him he’d be furious.

Sara shuffled toward the reception desk. She glanced over her shoulder, searching for some sign of Gordon, listening for his voice, waiting for him to yell at her. She couldn’t believe he was really dead, even though she had seen him. She clung to the edge of the transition counter, her head down, chewed on her lower lip and waited to be noticed.

Finally a brusque voice snapped, “Can I help you?”

Sara looked up to see a heavy set, older woman in a loose blue top. The woman’s thick dark brows met in a v in the middle of her forehead.

“I’m sorry, I …I’m looking for my husband. His office phoned to say he’d been brought here.” Sara shrunk into her body.

“Name?” the woman commanded.

“Gordon, Gordon Peters.” Sara stared at her worn black oxfords, then at the scuffed, gray linoleum with the red, blue and yellow lines that led to different areas. Maybe she shouldn’t have come. Maybe she should have waited for Gordon to call and tell her whether she should be here or not. But if he was dead she would have to make her own decisions. Her pulse raced. Her head pounded. For the last nineteen years she had never made a decision. Gordon made all of them for her.

“When was he admitted?” The woman reminded Sara of a sergeant major.

“I’m not sure, less than an hour ago. They told me to meet him here. Maybe he’s been discharged already?” She chewed her thumbnail. If Gordon had been discharged he’d be furious at her for spending all that money on a taxi. But she’d seen his ghost.

Tension twisted her stomach into knots. The pain caused her to clutch her purse tightly against her abdomen. She needed to get home and start dinner. She’d have to take a bus. Did she have enough money? She opened her purse.

The woman moved to a second pile of folders and pulled one out. “You’re his wife?”

Sara nodded. “Yes. Can I see him?”

A sob slipped out. If she didn’t find see him soon, he’d be furious. He’d think she was too stupid to even find him in a hospital and he’d be right.

His ghost floated in front of her. This time confusion mixed with his anger.

“Have a seat, Mrs. Peters. I’ll have the doctor speak to you.”

BevB_Oct2

Beverley Bateman is a Canadian author now living in Medicine Hat, Alberta, with her husband and Shiba Inu dog. She’s exchanged the Okanagan vineyards and orchards for ranches. Winters she’s a snowbird. She writes the latest romantic suspense in both places. She enjoys reading, watercolor painting and the Native American flute.

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Guest release–Not a Chance by Maureen Bonatch

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Hope just wants to be normal—too bad that will never happen.

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The last thing Hope Hallows wants is to become the latest headline. Living in a town that likes secrets, she prefers to keep hers hidden. Avoiding a nosy reporter’s questions about her ability to infuse euphoria or despair with a single touch, and those who crave this bliss, is nothing new. But having her brother’s annoying girlfriend, Berta, go missing is—especially when it makes Hope suspect number one.

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EXCERPT

“I swear you have a death wish. Are you looking for any excuse to use your abilities again?”

I started at the ferocity in his remark and straightened in defense. He was supposed to be my ally, but I should’ve anticipated his reaction. “I had no choice.”

“Only because you chose to take her in the woods in the first place.” The tiny haze of lights ignited around him as his frustration built.

I pushed my hands in my pockets to prevent from reaching for him for my own selfish comfort. He had to understand. Griffith was the only one who understood me. He was my rock in this ever-changing town. “I had to help look for Berta. There isn’t a choice in everything. I couldn’t let Chance go alone. Yes, I went because it was my idea in the first place, but also because he’s my brother. It’s not safe for him.”

His gaze locked with mine. “You didn’t worry about yourself? Or consider how much worry you’ve caused me? Damn it Hope, you, of all people, should realize what lurks undercover in the daylight has little fear at night and outside of town.”

Griffith always saw right through my petty motives. The trait was what I loved and hated about him.

 

maureenbonatchMaureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line.

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Guest Release–Cowboys, Cattle and Cutthroats By Gini Rifkin

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Ochessa is heartbroken when she finds her brother fatally wounded. His dying words are about a childhood puzzle box, missing legal documents, and a drifter named Nicodemus Breedlove. Ochessa vows to find Will’s murderer—and the man Will described.

No stranger to trouble, Nic’s only concerns are his Stetson, his mule Sadie, and a long-awaited chance at retribution. After gaining Ochessa’s trust, and taking the job she offers, life gets more complicated.

Weathering a stampede, a gully washer, and a pack of outlaws, they locate the killer. As Nic’s quest for justice, and Ochessa’s vendetta for Will play out, bullets fly…

Not everybody’s gonna make it out alive.

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EXCERPT

She wanted so badly to be loved and needed. And she wanted Nic to be the man to fulfill those emotions. What made him special she couldn’t—maybe shouldn’t—define. But like a half-remembered dream, an ethereal connection existed between the two of them and right now that seemed all that mattered.

When he halted to stand before her, his gaze turned hungry, and he eased the hat from her head and lowered his mouth to hers. Accepting the full depth of his kiss, she braced her hands against his chest, gripping his shirt with both fists—she never wanted him to leave.

He pulled away first. “Ochessa,” he whispered, in a husky voice. “I can’t go on wanting you without knowing if you feel the same.”

“I want you too. You know I do. But I’m scared, and I don’t even know what it is I’m scared of.”

“How about change. Or the future or the raw need I feel in you. Sometimes I’m scared too—and lonely.”

At his declaration, part of her fears melted.

“You don’t trust my intentions.” He spoke the words that always sat like a dark harbinger in the recesses of her mind.

“No, I do trust you. Really I do.” She was amazed at her own admission, but the decision felt right. “I just need time to sort out my life.”

“Well, time is about all I got.  And I can bear the wait as long as I know what it is I’m waiting for.”

If joy could be counted as a tangible commodity, she suddenly felt rich beyond compare.

Their gazes met and held until it seemed the writing on their souls told the same story, and what bound them emotionally could no longer be separated by Man or Destiny, but only by their failure to take a chance.

Gini Rifkin

Gini Rifkin’s characters are courageous and passionate, and when they meet sparks fly, while danger often threatens.  Her settings include the American West, Medieval and Victorian England, and contemporary fantasy. When not writing, she has the privilege of caring for her rescue animals including ducks, geese, goats, rabbits, donkeys, and cats.

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The inspiration behind A Christmas Cowboy to Keep–a contemporary western collection

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I posed the question “What is the inspiration for your story?” to the seven authors who contributed to this collection currently on pre-order for only 99 cents to release October 25th. Here are their answers:

Christmas, Liberty, and the Three Minute Man

Carra Copelin: The inspiration for my story came from my brother who has a much more colorful past than I do. He’s also a Country Western Gospel singer/songwriter, who writes some amazing songs. Last year he helped me with an idea for a book I was writing at the time and I asked him for some insight into a character he had helped me develop. I wanted to be sure I had the flavor of the personality right in the dialogue. He said, “Sis, I don’t know anything about writing books. I’m just a three minute man.” Well, I knew I had to write a book around that statement. That’s when I came up with the story about Liberty Hart and Daniel Layman. It’s a fun read about a sassy event planner from Nashville and a sexy cowboy songwriter from Texas. I think you’ll like it.

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A Christmas Carole

Andrea Downing:  You say, ‘Christmas book’ and the first one that pops into my mind is Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  So what could be more inspirational than that?  Of course, transferring ideas from the story into a contemporary western romance is another matter. The story wasn’t going to be paranormal so out went the visiting ghosts for a start.  And could someone actually be named Scrooge? I played around with the spelling and came up with Schrugge—if you google ‘pronouncing the name Schrugge’ Scrooge comes up. In other methods, the name comes out as pronounced both Shrug or Screw-gy.  Since I have a friend whose last name is pronounced three different ways by three branches of her family, I felt justified in choosing ‘Shrug.’ As for the rest of it, well, there are Staves instead of ‘Parts’ as per Dickens, a tiny Tim, and definitely a look at Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come.  I hope I’ve used just enough of Dickens to give a nod toward that most well-respected story.

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The Peppermint Tree

Kristy McCaffrey:  The main inspiration, initially, was the Christmas theme. I wanted a fun title that conveyed the holiday, so I came up with THE PEPPERMINT TREE first, not really knowing how I was going to work it into the story. I also decided early on that my heroine, Skye Mallory, would be a lawyer. This caused me no end of angst because I know nothing about lawyers LOL. Time to research. The rest was fleshed out during car rides with my husband. He’s not a writer, but he’s usually a good sport in helping me brainstorm. He gave me the idea for shifting property lines because true north moves ever so slightly over time, as well as insights into the types of vehicles the hero and heroine would drive. The steamy love scene in the country club bathroom facilities came about because I was recently visiting my in-laws in Florida and their club restrooms were so spacious—practically mini-apartments. Seemed like the perfect spot for a romantic encounter. I really had a good time writing this novella, and I sure hope readers will enjoy reading it.

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The Devil’s Christmas Kiss

Devon McKay: The inspiration for my story came from my 3 year old granddaughter. She was telling me of a boy who likes to pick on her during play dates. After a two hour long conversation, I summed up that Connor pulls her hair, especially when she wears pigtails, steals her baby, and likes to make her cry, all of which was accompanied by over-the-top dramatic sighs (she is seriously either going to be an actress or an author). When she finished her story, I suggested maybe taking her to another play date group. Her response was crocodile tears and a loud, “No! Connors my boyfriend and I’m going to marry him one day.”

For some reason, I thought this would make a perfect romance.

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Slay Bells

Hildie McQueen: The inspiration for my story came from my last visit to Wyoming and Montana and my marriage. I can definitely relate with Carmen, the heroine in that she would have never settled in Missoula or even considered it, if it wasn’t for falling in love.

As a young woman I would have nixed the idea of life in the small town where my husband grew up. He was raised on the border of Montana and Idaho and I lived in San Diego, CA.

Nowadays, if my husband were to ask me to move to Montana, I’d do it in a heartbeat!

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The Best Christmas

Hebby Roman: The inspiration for my story was a movie/documentary about rehab ranches that help handicapped and/or troubled teenagers. I wanted to show a heroic, counselor-type cowboy who ran a non-profit converted dude ranch near Bandera, TX, the self-proclaimed “Cowboy Capital of the World.” I wanted to depict a heroine, who was not married to the son’s father and is an immigrant, and the struggles she has gone through, keeping custody and contact with her son, once he becomes older and is being mentally and emotionally manipulated by his father, who is super wealthy and has a lot of clout.

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 Counting Down to Christmas

Patti Sherry-Crews: I was inspired by the Christmas spirit: family, traditions, and giving all tied up together. Is there another holiday that evokes as much nostalgia as Christmas? I put all the sights, scents, and details I associate with the holiday in my story.

There is no one who embodied that spirit more than my Grandma Alma did. I drew my inspiration from her. I also named a character after her.

Early in December, we’d help her bring down all the boxes of ornaments. After the tree was set up and decorated (always a seven foot Douglas Fir) there were dozens of cookies to be made. Making and decorating cookies was an all-family affair, where we’d sit around her large kitchen table and work together, using cookie cutters and recipes that had been in the family for generations.

My grandparents belonged to a small church in their neighborhood. I have memories of walking into the side door and heading up the dark stairway to the community room at the top of the stairs for the holiday bazaar. I have my heroine, Melody, walk up those same stairs, and Alma is the first person she sees.

Grandma Alma lived to be 96. Family does change. It got harder to get everyone together as people started their own families and moved away, so we had to find different ways to celebrate the holidays. I remember in later years debating whether to get a tree for Grandma or not. Were we forcing a Christmas tree on her for our benefit or hers? Still, every year until she was gone, we got down all the decorations and set up a 7-foot tree for her.

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Amazon pre-order link for October 25th release of 99 cent collection

Guest promotion–One Red Shoe by Diane Burton

41126920 - driving on an empty asphalt road through the cultivated fields and single tree at idyllic sunny day.

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It Happened One Night meets Knight and Day

When elementary teacher Daria Mason left Iowa for a writers’ conference in New York City, she didn’t expect to come home with a wounded spy. Sam Jozwiak works for a shadow agency that gathers intel vital to U.S. security. From the moment he steals digital files from a Russian Mafia kingpin, Murphy’s Law takes over. No matter how he covers his tracks, the kingpin’s assassins find him. What’s worse than getting shot in the butt? Accepting help from an Iowa tourist. Thus, begins a road trip that takes Sam and Daria cross country with the assassins right behind them.

PRE-ORDER LINK for October 22, 2018 release (revision of previous title released by The Wild Rose Press)

EXCERPT

For the second time in her life, Daria Mason came face-to-face with a man pointing a weapon at her. A pervert, with unzipped jeans, wielded a green box knife. Because she’d raced into the restroom without checking out the situation, he now stood between her and the exit.

She was at the end of the proverbial rope. After walking in circles, she finally found a restroom and nobody was stopping her from using it. Especially not someone playing copycat with that guy in the movie who wore one red shoe.

“I am having a really bad day,” she declared in the don’t cross me voice she used on her brothers. As soon as her words echoed off the hideous pink and black tiled walls and floor, she lowered her voice. “You are in the wrong place, mister. Now zip up and get out.” She pointed straight-armed toward the door.

The man shook his head and set the flimsy knife on the counter. “Lady, you have more guts than sense. You are in the wrong place, at the wrong time.” His voice was even softer than hers. He eyed her with a look so dark and intense it paralyzed her like a hawk freezes its prey. She swallowed past the fear in her throat, certain it sounded like a gulp.

Diane Burton 2-for July 10

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides writing science fiction romance, she writes romantic suspense, and cozy mysteries. Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and five grandchildren.

For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website: http://www.dianeburton.com

 

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Guest Release–By Reservation Only by Barbara Edwards

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New kitchen, new owner, new future–all rooted in three hundred years of history.

It’s the grand opening of The Deerbourne Inn! Award-winning Chef Nathan Harte has worked long and hard to restore this historic property in Willow Spring, Vermont. He’s ready to greet his guests with fine cuisine, comfortable rooms, and maybe even a ghost or two.

He’s escaping the rat-race of the city for a slower more rewarding life, but is he ready to deal with a broken arm, a quirky arsonist, and a long-ago mystery? And what might he find up in the 300-yr-old attics?

This  novella is the launch title in The Wild Rose Press’s latest multi-author series, Deerbourne Inn.

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EXCERPT

Since the inn was quiet, Emily pulled on a long t-shirt and opened the door. Her heart fluttered. She was disappointed Nate wasn’t waiting for her in the dark passage. She blew out a frustrated breath and opened one of the bedroom windows to let the fresh breeze blow in. A whip-poor-will called from the hill.

The comfortable bed beckoned her. Flowery potpourri scented the bedroom air. She lay on top of the handmade quilt and stared at the ceiling. Sleep eluded her. She lost count of the times she turned over, punched the pillow, yawned.

An owl hooted from the nearby woods. The call of the whip-poor-will sounded closer. The curtain flapped and the scent of smoke tainted the air. Her watch claimed it was only twelve thirty, not nearing dawn. She swore and rolled over again.

Someone knocked on Nate’s door and called his name. Emily pulled on her pants and sneakers before she opened her door.

“What’s happening?” Her pulse raced. Smoke, she smelled smoke.

BEdwards

I’m Barbara Edwards, a native New Englander, and a graduate of the University of Hartford with a Master’s degree in Public Administration. I write poetry for myself and novels when I need to tell a longer tale. I’m fascinated by the past so naturally turned to writing historical romance. The dark paranormal stories evolve from nightmares. The romance comes from my belief in people’s basic goodness and longing for love.

I lived in Florida for several years and am past president of the Central Florida Romance Writers and a member of Romance Writers of America.

When I returned to Connecticut, I founded the Charter Oak Romance Writers, a Chapter of Romance Writers of America, along with several close friends.

My husband is a retired Police Sergeant. We share an interest Civil War re-enacting and travel the Eastern states to participate in events. I love visiting museums, galleries and battle sites, gathering information for my stories.

I taught Romance Writing at Manchester Community college for three years.

I’m fond of gardening and growing antique roses with limited success.

Most of my exercise is when my Belgian Shepherd, Keeno, demands a walk.

Please follow, friend or like me. I love to hear from my readers.

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Guest Release Promotion of The Mason’s Mark by M.S. Spencer

Thank you so much for having me at Musings about the Writing Life, Linda. Several of my romantic suspense/murder mystery books are set in Alexandria, Virginia, a colonial town on the Potomac River across from Washington, DC, where I lived for many years. The Mason’s Mark: Love and Death in the Tower, is one of those novels.

GeorgeWashingtonMuseum in Masonic Memorial

Most of The Mason’s Mark, is set at the George Washington National Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia. The 330-foot-tall building has three sections—the ground level, the main floor, and the tower. The tower holds six progressively smaller rooms. The top level opens to an observation deck, from which visitors can see all of Alexandria and Washington, DC—or, if you’re my heroine, find a dead body.

The fourth floor contains a museum dedicated to George Washington. Washington served as the Charter (first) Master of the Alexandria lodge, and many of his letters and memorabilia are housed here, including the Washington family Bible. Since our heroine and hero meet in the museum, it follows that the Mason’s Mark would involve long-lost papers, distant family scandals, and academic intrigue concerning our first President. Delicious mystery and even more delicious romance ensue.

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In the worst first day at work ever, newly minted docent Claire Wilding’s carefully memorized spiel is interrupted by the discovery of a dead body. As she deals with a smitten police detective, a hunky Senator, shadowy black ops agents, and two eccentric mothers, she learns more than she ever expected to about jewels and pennies, renegade Italian Masons, and our first President’s family secrets. Along the way she discovers that first love is not always the right love.

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EXCERPT

When they reached Prince Street, Gideon found a parking spot directly in front of her house, no small feat. Just one more way he’s special, thought Claire glumly. He walked her to her door. She unlocked it and turned to thank him, but he was already on his way to his car.

Ichabod greeted her with a snarl.

“I know. I forgot to feed you. Come on, Icky.” She found a can of cat food and emptied it into his bowl. Then she poured herself a large glass of water and took it to the living room to conduct an analysis of the soiree.

So at any point did I come across as even semi-coherent? She tried to hack through the warm, fuzzy blanket of the evening. Gideon had been the perfect gentleman, ordering foie gras and champagne, pointing out the constellations with obvious expertise, helping her in and out of the car. It all seemed so…unreal. Like he was acting a part. Too perfect. And he’d sucked her in like soda through a straw. She slapped her forehead, forgetting that she still held the glass. Water sluiced across her face and ran down her front. She mopped it up with some tissues and vowed to hit the antique stores that weekend. I’ve got to get a coffee table. Preferably one with cup holders.

The doorbell rang. With the disintegrating tissue pressed to her face, she stood on tiptoe to check the peephole and looked straight into an unblinking sea-green ocean. Gideon. After a minute she remembered to open the door.

He stared at her with concern. “Are you all right?”

Claire pulled the tissue away and noticed black streaks on it. Her mascara must have run. Oh no, I bet he thinks I’ve been crying. She rubbed her eyes, hoping that wasn’t making it worse. “Fine. I spilled a glass of water, that’s all.”

“Oh.” He stood, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. “Um, could I come in for a minute?”

She pointed at the living room and backed away, then turned and leapt up the steps. A quick look in the mirror confirmed her suspicions. I look like something Ichabod’s been playing with. She fixed her face, wrung out her blouse, and returned with renewed aplomb.

Gideon filled the small space. Claire sidled around him and sat on a packing crate. He looked around the room. “So…er, have you just moved in?”

“Yes.” It struck her that he was more uncomfortable than she and drew strength from that. “About a week ago. Sorry about the mess. Won’t you have a seat?”

He dropped down on the loveseat but immediately sprang back up. He patted his rear, flummoxed. “Why am I wet?”

Claire put a hand to her mouth to suppress the giggle. “Ooh, I’m sorry. I forgot. That’s where I spilled the water. Here, let me.”

She retrieved a towel from the kitchen and began to dab at the dark blotch on his khakis. He stood it for a minute, then put a hand under her chin and lifted her up. “You’d better stop doing that. This is hard enough for me.” He blinked. “Do you…do you know how beautiful you are?”

The question threw her. How to respond? Yes? No? Tell me more? She decided to let him talk.

“Your eyes are the color of the deepest part of the Caribbean Sea on a cloudless day. I could sink into them and drown.” He touched her brow. “And these little cinnabar ringlets framing that soft, creamy face…” He wrapped one around his finger. “Wind one up tight and it could strangle me.” He took her hand. “Your fingers—so slim and delicate, like little stilettos. Sharp enough to gouge an eye out.”

Claire stepped away from him, bewildered. “You make me sound like a vicious animal. Why?”

His hands dropped to his sides. “Because I sense how dangerous you are.”

“Dangerous?”

“To me. Claire…I—” He gazed at her helplessly.

Someone had better take charge.

M. S. Spencer Author (2)

Although she has lived or traveled in every continent except Antarctica and Australia (bucket list), M. S. Spencer has spent the last thirty years mostly in Washington, D.C. as a librarian, Congressional staff assistant, speechwriter, editor, birdwatcher, kayaker, policy wonk, non-profit director and parent. Blessed with two fabulous grown children and an adorable grandchild, she has published ten romantic suspense/mystery novels. She now divides her time between the Florida Gulf coast and a tiny hamlet in Maine.

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Guest Release Promotion–666 Pine Edge Place by Caryn McGill

spooky mansion

How does a house become haunted? Must someone die there? Do ghosts or goblins seize it against its will? Or does the house decide? Learning to focus its energy. Relentlessly practicing until able to slam shut doors and windows, control faucets and thermostats…ignite blazes in its fireplaces…or anywhere it chooses. Unearth the answers in the short story 666 Pine Edge Place. If you dare.

Release date is October 28, 2017 from Drunken Pen Publishing

EXCERPT

I didn’t always look like hell. Once, I stood three stories tall crowned with a cupola and a wind vane perpetually pointing north. Wrought iron curly cues, like the letter L written in ornate script, pinned my black shutters tightly to the gray clapboard. My paint gleamed, my wainscoting appeared dent-and-scratch-free, my twenty-foot ceilings embossed with glorious white federal molding. Rather than the current inhabitants of creepy crawly creatures, pesky feral animals, and ghoulish spirits, happy families lived here…for nearly two hundred years. I protected them from the elements with my sturdy roof and walls, and from the frigid temperatures with my toasty-warm fires.

I watched with a sense of immense satisfaction as fathers tickled their children to near hysteria before finally tucking them into bed at night, then reading a favorite bedtime story, and mothers prepared sumptuous family dinners, sometimes with the aid of a kitchen staff. Holidays were magnificent with grand Christmas trees and mountains of festively wrapped presents; the sweet smells of holiday treats permeating the air as they baked in my professional-grade oven. Music and song filled my hallways. Dancing feet pranced on my marble floors and people made love in my bedrooms, sweet, thrilling love. I tried not to watch, but sometimes I just couldn’t help myself.

I felt like a worthy house, solid, set on a good foundation, hugged by magnificent magnolia trees and protected by sturdy oaks. Until the Sinclairs moved in…then everything went to shit. Perhaps if I’d been more patient, or just ignored them I might have survived.

The moment they stepped across the threshold of my magnificent mahogany door with the stained glass window spelling out WELCOME, a chill spread through me. No matter how high I turned up the thermostat I still couldn’t banish the dreadful iciness that penetrated my rafters. I shuddered, and the sound unnerved me…a sound I’d never made before.

The year was 1979. Dr. Sinclair, an eminent physician from New York, had just taken over old Doc Jensen’s practice who’d recently succumbed to liver cancer attributed to years of excessive alcohol consumption. Honestly, the stories I’d overheard from the previous owners made me think the new doc was sorely needed.

Upon her arrival, Mrs. Sinclair’s tall thin frame—her posture indicative of the stick up her ass—paraded around the first floor like a solider marching to war, her sharp spikey heels digging into my polished hardwood. I winced, and the wallpaper in my foyer wrinkled. My vents hissed, all the air seemed to get sucked out of me and I threw a few windows open so I could breathe. Nobody noticed.

Two children ran up the stairs, yelling and jumping around, as children are prone to do. But they didn’t seem joyful, their screams more like shrieks, unsettling, evil. I didn’t think there was such a thing as an innately evil child, but the second I saw them I knew this would turn out bad. Really bad. A few tears formed, the tiny droplets leaking from my faucets onto the ceramic basins with a bit of a plopping noise.

I tried to shove my anxiety and apprehension into my attic, giving myself a pep talk. You’re overreacting. You’ve been spoiled with wonderful loving families and these people are, well, just a little different. A little off… but everything will be okay after they settle in. It always takes me a while to get used to new residents. Perhaps I’m still too old-fashioned. People are more sophisticated these days. They smoke pot and believe in free love. I need to relax, chill out. Give them a chance.

Well, that attitude only lasted a goddamned week. I valiantly tried to ignore the giant gashes in my woodwork made by flying objects that should never become airborne. I really did. Mrs. Sinclair had a violent temper and both her children and her husband sported enough cuts and bruises to have her taken into custody. I couldn’t comprehend why they put up with her abuse. I mean… her husband is a doctor for Christ’s sake! He should know better! But Dr. Sinclair rarely made it home, spending long nights at his practice or the hospital and turned a blind eye to the dysfunctions of his family.

I witnessed the evilness of the children as they tortured small animals and also each other. A gleeful sneer would overtake their faces as they smeared their hands in the greasy red blood of their victims—painting their faces like war paint—and popped eyeballs with their feet. At times I couldn’t decide who was more malicious, the kids or the mother. Often I felt the urge to scream and I did so. My wailing sounded like the wind mostly, and frequently resulted in comments like “This old house sucks!” or “I hate this creepy house!” I should have been angry at the insults, but instead I was…well…hurt.

The basement became my own personal hell. Dr. and Mrs. Sinclair never went down there, but the children made it into kind of a Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory. The smells alone nearly suffocated me. The rotting bodies of furry creatures littered the cement floor when they should have been out running through the dewy green grass in my yard. I have a magnificent yard hugging me, one where lovely flowers grow and people could sit and sip a cocktail on a hot summer evening.

About a month after the move-in date I decided I couldn’t put up with one more second of this depravity. This repugnant family had to go.

Caryn McGill

Caryn McGill is published in paranormal: THE WIVES OF LUCIFER and also erotic suspense: UNSUB, under the name Kendra Greenwood.

Born on New York’s Long Island, Caryn McGill resided on its bucolic East End until a recent move to Richmond, Virginia.

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Guest Release Promotion–Moosed Opportunities by Jan Elder

Last Christmas, a group of contemporary Christian authors got together to form a “boxed set” of novellas that would include dessert recipes of some sort. That set was called Frosting and Flurries, and it’s still going strong. My book in that set is called Moostletoe, the first book in the Moose Creek series.

We had so much fun doing the set, we did it again this summer, another “boxed set” that came out in July called Picnics and Promises. Moosed Opportunities is the second book in the Moose Creek series. And guess what? Book three (Almoosed Heaven) releases in November.

Working with these lovely ladies has been so much fun, and creating the little town of Moose Creek, Maine, has been a joy. Rev. Samantha Evans and her boyfriend, moose wrangler Eric Palmer, continue to thrive despite many obstacles and adventures. Oh, and did I mention the town moose, Matilda? She causes a ruckus in more ways than one.

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BLURB

Rev. Samantha Evans loves living in Moose Creek, Maine, the land of moose and men … or namely one man, her fiancé, Eric Palmer. The problem? Trouble looms large; Eric’s meddling ex-wife lives right around the corner.

Forest ranger, Eric Palmer, just wants to plan his wedding and marry the woman he loves. Not that life makes it easy. Samantha’s busy schedule, an interfering ex-wife, missing college students, and a misplaced pregnant moose, all conspire against him.

Will they find the time to clear the air and concentrate on their relationship? Or will their lives be a series of Moosed Opportunities?

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EXCERPT

Eric hurried down the path toward the woods, shouting for his dog. “Apollo. Stop!”

The bounding deer rapidly disappeared in the distance, and the gleefully barking miniature dachshund followed in hot pursuit. Eric didn’t have time for these shenanigans. He was due at Samantha’s house for dinner, and he was already running late.

The merry deer headed for the trees, traipsing through the wet spring snow as if prancing on a sandy beach in the Bahamas. Before Bambi’s mom disappeared completely, the female deer flipped her white tail at the excited dog, making a game of the chase. The two sped down the path Eric had created with his snowshoes, taking advantage of his man-made corridor in the trees.

“Apollo! Get back here.”

His disobedient dog paid no attention whatsoever as he scrambled, hopped, and skated across the freshly fallen snow lying atop frosty ground.

Eric quickened his pace. Tonight, he’d planned to bring the boys over to Sammie’s to introduce them to Jezebel. Before stowing the wiener dogs in the car, he’d let them out for a quick pee break. His attention had wandered as he’d allowed himself a moment of reverie … Sammie had such soft, silky hair … That was when Apollo had spotted the deer.

Eric glanced over his shoulder. His more obedient dog, Zeus, waited on the front porch. Hopefully, the little guy would still be there when this ill-timed adventure was over.

Excited yips echoed through the crisp air. Dang it! His dog was headed for the frozen creek. Eric’s best boots broke through the crusty top of the snow, the resulting crunch ringing in his ears as he tramped down the trail. Apollo had to be tiring by now, and that blasted deer had to be long gone. But then again, his pup was the stubborn type.

When he’d trudged through here yesterday morning, the sun was perched on the horizon, rays of soft light peeking through the treetops. So peaceful, so serene, so awe inspiring. A good way to start his day. Now, through the trees up ahead, pink wooly clouds puffed across a spectacular sunset and glimpses of waning light glinted off the snow-covered creek. Surely his foolish dog would stop when he reached the debris-strewn banks of the solidified water.

Eric rounded the corner in time to see the deer hurtling up the bank on the opposite side of the creek. The waters of Moose Creek were normally deep and fast, the wide expanse river-sized at this point in its journey south. The creek had been frozen over for a couple months, though the big deep freeze in northern Maine had been late this year. On his daily walks, he’d thought he’d heard water running near the beaver dam upstream. Was the ice safe? The deer had made it across handily, and if she could do it, so could a ten-pound canine. Right?

A moot point, since his dog was not going to get the chance if he had anything to say about it.

A short distance away, Apollo picked his way between the rocks on the shore, each step taking him closer to danger, his gaze on the prize fifty feet away, across the frozen expanse. Mrs. Deer stopped at the top of the hill, seemingly just as fascinated with the sight of the yappy dachshund.

The scrappy dog was shaking, whether from excitement or cold, Eric couldn’t tell. He headed down the slope toward his miniature canine. “Come here, boy.”

Apollo tossed him a cursory glance and then ogled the deer, the joy of the chase shining in his doggie eyes.

Eric sidled a few steps forward and to the side, moving slowly and carefully so as not to send the dog running in the wrong direction. He was so close he could almost reach out and grab the dog’s collar.

Whew. Apollo yipped one last time and back-peddled toward Eric’s waiting fingers. At last.

And then the deer at the crest of the hill pawed at the crunchy snow. The canine couldn’t help himself. He launched onto the frozen expanse, tiny legs propelling him like a windmill in a gale. A few feet out, the dog lost his footing on the slippery snow-covered ice. Landing on his stomach, legs all akimbo, the brownish-red missile rocketed straight for a thin spot in the ice on the other side of the stream.

With only a split second of indecision, Eric flung himself off the bank, half-skating on the ice, the breeze stinging his ears as he zipped forward. If he had any hope of catching that bundle of fur, he was going to have to slide. If a full-grown deer could make it across…

The ice creaked, but it held fast. Thankfully, he was gaining on the dog. Halfway across the river, he caught up to Apollo and grabbed his collar with his right hand. They kept sliding. They were going to make it.

 Crack! The ice on the other side of the stream gave way and he plunged into the frigid water, his breath whooshing from his lungs. The animal slithered from his grasp as Eric fought to keep his head above water.

Apollo’s soft brown eyes grew impossibly large as he bobbed to the surface a few feet away. Before Eric’s frightened dog could be carried away by the loosed current, he managed to grab onto the leather collar, hauling the animal to his upper body.

Water swirled around them. He kicked his legs to bring them to shore, his sodden cold-weather clothes weighed him down. He stumbled through the cripplingly cold water, laboring each step of the way, his boots as heavy as if he had a brick strapped to each foot.

The poor dog whimpered and Eric clutched him closer as he stumbled onto land. “It’s okay, boy. We’re safe now.”

He crashed down on a log and surveyed his soaking body, chest heaving. No doubt about it, he was in a pickle.

BIO

JAN ELDER is an inspirational romance writer with a passion for telling relateable stories. She strives to write novels that will strengthen the reader’s faith, while also providing an entertaining and engrossing love story. She lives in Maryland with her beloved husband and two pampered cats.

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GIVEAWAY

I’d be happy to give away two ebooks of Picnics and Promises from among those who leave comments. Moosed Opportunites is the first book in the set.

Picnics and Promises_Oct 6

Guest Release Promotion–Targeted by Beverley Bateman

Targeted is the third book in the series. I was at a conference In Victoria, BC, Canada, up on the mezzanine overlooking the expensive lobby with marble floors. I sorted of squatted down and peeked through the carved posts and had this image of a cowboy in spurs striding through the lobby. I then became the heroine, watching him arrive with mixed feelings. And that was the start of Hunted, the first book in the series. I love ranches and cowboys, and I developed this small town in Montana.

Targeted_Oct 2

BLURB

After an eleven-year absence Janna Kincaid inherits a ranch and must return to a town she remembers with unhappiness, a man she briefly married and never wants to see again, and someone is trying to kill her.

Kye Hawkins has loved Janna since they met. They were married, but right after she left without an explanation. He hasn’t figured out why. Now she’s coming back. Can he rekindle the romance, and prevent her from being killed?

Janna doesn’t want Kye’s help, yet he’s always there when she’s in trouble. Can they work together to stop a killer, and find romance again?

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EXCERPT

Someone had shot her back tire. Janna gripped the wheel to keep the vehicle on the road. She debated whether to try and outrun the shooter, wherever he was, or find cover. The windshield shattered as a third bullet entered the passenger side.

So much for outrunning the shooter.

She scanned the area and spotted an outcropping of rocks a few feet ahead on her right. She aimed the vehicle in that direction.

Two more shots, and both the back tires went down.

Definitely find cover.

Janna ducked low behind the steering wheel until the vehicle reached the rocks. When the car stopped, she grabbed the keys from the ignition and her purse and dove out the door. Bullets bounced off the rocks behind her as she scrambled for cover. Whoever was doing the shooting was serous. Anyone of the shots could have hit her.

She reached the rocks, keeping low until she got to the middle where she curled up as tightly as possible, her back against a rock. Her heart pounded in her ears, her breathing came in gasps. This was getting to be a habit. First someone tried to kill her in Seattle, and now, out in this god-forsaken country.

What the hell is going on? Why are they shooting at me? Was it the same person who shot at me in Seattle? That doesn’t seem likely, but who even knew I was coming here? Maybe it’s someone just trying to rob a stranger.

Yeah right, be honest, Janna, does this road look like many strangers came this way? And if they did, would they have a lot to steal? You really think this person selected a spot in the rocks where he would have a good shot at my vehicle. Coincidence? Not damn likely.

At least she’d worn boots and jeans—even if they were designer jeans. Now they were filthy, and so was her red sweater and jean jacket.

Another shot hit the rock behind her. She rolled over onto her stomach, shaded her eyes, and squinted into the sun. He must be up on the cliffs straight ahead. She wasn’t sure, but she thought she might have glimpsed a light, maybe a reflection off his scope.

Terrific! Now what? My gun is in my purse. I could fire back, but that would be a waste of bullets at this distance.

She yanked out her cell and punched in 9-1-1.

Damn—no reception.

A pounding pulsed through the ground and came closer. Janna could feel the vibrations. It felt like horses. She glanced around, without raising her head, to see what was coming.

Suddenly there was a hand in front of her face.

“Grab it and jump on.”

The deep, rumbling voice was not asking. It was an order.

Janna grabbed the strong hand. In one smooth motion, she swung up behind a man on his horse. Seconds later, she had her hands wrapped around his well-developed, muscular chest, as the big chestnut thundered across the ground, out of the bullets’ range.

The man wore a leather jacket over a sweater. Her hands slid under the jacket for better grip. Even through the sweater she could feel sinewy muscles. She laid her head against his back and his braid. She took a breath in, inhaling the rich scent of leather, trying to calm her racing heart rate.

She glanced behind her. The cliffs were fading into the distance. The muscles of his well-developed shoulders bunched and relaxed as he led the horse at a gallop across the field. She felt safe for some unfathomable reason.

He had a familiar woodsy scent that made her think of sex under pine trees, not that she’d ever made love there. In fact, her sex life was pretty negligible these days.

They’d been riding for several minutes when Janna leaned forward. “You can put me down any place. I can manage now.”

“Really? And just what are you going to do out here, miles from town, by yourself, with someone shooting at you?”

The voice was deep, but soft, and rolled over her like warmed brandy. It triggered something in the back of her memory. The earthy scent, the sinewy body, the braid, the voice… She knew this person who had ridden up out of nowhere to save her.

“I have my cell. I’ve already called 9-1-1,” she snapped.

“And did you get an answer?”

Janna yanked her cell phone up where she could see the screen again and re-tapped in 9-1-1. And then there was that famous phrase—No Service.

There was a deep chuckle. “That’s what I thought. There’s no service in this area. The mountains block it.”

BevB_Oct2

Beverley Bateman exchanged the Okanagan vineyards and orchards for the ranches and farms of Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she lives with her Shiba Inu dogs. Winters she snowbirds and continues to write her latest romantic suspense books. Hunted, Missing and Targeted are part of her Hawkins Ranch series.

 

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