Breaking Free by Debbie Williams *Blog Your, Review & Giveaway*

Hi everyone!

I’m excited to be part of the Blog Tour for Breaking Free by Debbie Williams! I had the opportunity to read and review the book, so make sure the check that out. Also, don’t forget to enter the giveaway!


Breaking Free

by Debbie Williams
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Chloe is from a rich, controlling family. Finally able to embark on life, she finds herself free from the clutches of her controlling father. Enter Kai, who comes to her aid when her car strands her on the side of the road. She just doesn’t realise how much things are about to change. A close bond soon builds between them, but deep dark secret ties their families together and threatens to blow them apart.

Will they both survive?

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Review

Breaking Free was a quick read full of romance and suspense. The story follows Chloe and Kai as they get to know each other, and learn how their pasts intertwine.

I have to admit, the romance was pretty “insta-love,” which threw me off a little. However, pushing that aside, the romance was healthy, and happy, and that’s all I can ask for when I’m reading any book with a romance plot. Kai treats Chloe like a queen, and she treats him just as well. I really love to read this kind of romance, so I can forgive the insta-love.

The mysteries of Chloe and Kai’s pasts tie really well with each other. It felt really fleshed out, and I wasn’t confused at all. I was genuinely shocked, and I never was able to guess before the truth was revealed.

I enjoyed Chloe and Kai as characters. They were well rounded and entertaining, and I liked that we were able to get into both of their heads.

Wrap-Up:

A quick, fun read with likable characters, a healthy (albeit instant) romance, and a well thought out and delivered reveal made Breaking Free an enjoyable read. If Romantic Suspense is a genre you enjoy, I definitely recommend checking this one out.

Rating:

4/5☆


Excerpt

“WAIT! Please, I’m sorry. You just startled me and to be truthful you look kinda scary in that hard man biker get up.” I couldn’t help but giggle at how ridiculous I thought he looked with his biker boots and Jeans, but his voice sure sounded good, even if it was muffled by that helmet. I looked again, and mmm mmm his ass was tasty, especially with the tear in his jeans.

I watched as he lifted the hood to my car, never once removing his helmet. Bad sign he must be really ugly underneath that helmet. My eyes were constantly attached to that perfectly formed muscular ass. The way his hips wayed as he worked. I swallowed deeply and told myself to behave.

Again, his muffled voice spoke, startling me back into the present. “Sorry lady it’s your alternator, nothing I can do right now. We can call a garage in the morning.”

In the morning damn now what am I going to do?

“Can you give me a ride? I mean do you have a spare helmet? I really don’t want to stay out here alone all night.”

What the fuck am I doing? I don’t know this guy; he could be a murderer for all I know.

My eyes were yet again drawn to his ass, as he walked over to his bike and opened the box on the back. My heart was pounding as I saw him lift out another helmet, then turn to saunter over towards me. Handing me the helmet, he stood and removed his own to help me put it on.

OH, MY GOD!!!! How wrong was I? He was GORGEOUS!!!!

His hand brushed my jaw line as he placed the helmet on my head. I took a deep breath as a shiver ran down my spine. I glanced up into his eyes and was met by the deepest blue I have ever seen in my life, his face framed by shoulderlength jet-black hair. Angular jaw and whoa look at that mouth, his lips so perfect.

“There you go all ready, do you need to get anything from your car? I can get you to the next service area where maybe we will find a motel for the night.”

I was trembling now as I had never been on the back of a bike before and had never been so close to someone this damn hot. I straddled the rear seat and hung on for dear life, what if I fall off!

“Settle Princess, don’t hold on quite so tight and just lean with the bike as we go.” His voice broke through my internal panic like molten chocolate. I squealed and buried my head against his back; this was amazing, the wind in my face felt so good. Again, my life felt right.

MY LIFE!!!!!


About the Author

Debbie Williams is married with 3 grown up kids, a beautiful daughter in law and an even more gorgeous grandson.

She is a Fibromyalgia sufferer who found a new outlet by writing to help fill her days.

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Giveaway

$5 Amazon gift card

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive content and a giveaway!


Tour Hosted By:

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If you read Breaking Free, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Good luck in the giveaway!

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The Coin Series by Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra *Blog Tour & Giveaway*

Hi everyone!

I’m excited to be part of the Blog Tour for The Coin! Make sure you check out all the info below and enter the giveaway!


The Coin Series Box Set
by Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra
Genre: Romantic Thriller

The thrilling, complete story of Gabriela Martinez and Richard Harrison, as they try to keep one step ahead from madmen who are trying to kill them.

THE COIN (Book One)

A coin found, a terrible secret, and a psychopath who will stop at nothing to keep that secret safe.

When Gabriela Martinez finds a French coin on one of her outings, she never thought the possession of it could get her killed. Only Richard Harrison, the intelligence operative sent to protect her, can save her from this madman, who will do everything to silence Gabriela. And when the psychological games to terrorize Gabriela escalate, Richard must find a solution, or it may be too late for both their lives and their love.

Set in the exotic French Riviera, The Coin is a story of hatred, betrayal, love and duty–terrible and painful choices that, nonetheless, bring about personal triumph.

THE BOOK OF HOURS (Book Two)

For Gabriela Martinez, psychopaths do hit twice.

Four years ago, when Gabriela Martinez almost lost her life to a sociopath’s twisted vision, she never thought she’d be hunted again.

After catching a glimpse of Gabriela’s new work, The Book of Hours, Arnold Wickeham has been like a man possessed. Now, he will do anything to claim it, and no one, especially not Gabriela, will stand in his way.

Now that her life is being threatened once more, Richard Harrison will risk everything, not only to protect her, but especially to get her back in his life. However, the stakes are higher this time around and there is much more to lose. Together, Gabriela and Richard must find a way to stay one step ahead of the danger, if not, Gabriela’s life, but especially their future together, may very well go up in flames.

Set in California and in London, The Book of Hours is a story about greed, dangerous obsession, family duty, and, especially deserved second chances.

“The Coin is a suspenseful, sexy, romantic thriller…a page-turner — Kirkus Reviews”

“Dare I say that The Book of Hours may have been better than The Coin? Along with the action, suspense, romance, and murder attempts, who wouldn’t enjoy this book? – Books, Reviews, Links, and a Little Extra”

Add to GoodReads

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Book Trailer 1|Book Trailer 2


Excerpt

Richard moved in a direct line to intercept Maurice. The skin on the back of his neck crawled as if a cold hand had been pressed against it. Richard’s stomach muscles clenched. What the hell was wrong? He searched his surroundings, his grip on Gabriela’s upper arm tightening. He picked up the pace.

Gabriela tried to keep up, sensing his mounting tension. What was happening that he wasn’t telling her? Nervously, she looked about her. She then searched Richard’s face, saw the tension there, and didn’t question his tight grip, or his hurried pace again.

Maurice stopped, his knowing grin stretching his face like putty.

“You better swipe that grin off your face, mon ami.” Richard spoke loud enough for Maurice to hear, his own lips curled into a self-deprecating smile. He extended his hand for the keys. “Where is—”

The air suddenly howled, ripped apart by a blast that surged forward like a living force, dazzling in its fury. The ground heaved, dislodging its contents, while dust rose in increasing waves like a tsunami. In a split second, the impact of the explosion tossed Gabriela forward as if invisible hands had slammed a sack full of bricks against her back. She rammed into Maurice, his grin wiped clean by a look of stunned disbelief. The force of the shock wave knocked them both off balance and onto the flagstones, with Richard catapulted through the air beside them with the ease of a finger knocking dominos over.

Richard hit the ground with enough of a wallop to knock the breath out of his lungs, but instinct and training took over within seconds. Cursing in all the languages he knew, he rolled on top of Gabriela, shielding her body with his own as fireballs and car fragments began to rain on them like in the aftermath of a volcanic eruption, nicking and tearing at flesh. Behind them, fire ignited explosions, explosions created more chaos. The intense heat sizzled skin, clothes and hair, even made metal sweat.

Before more debris could pelt them, Richard and Maurice each grabbed Gabriela by an arm and quickly disappeared behind the protective glass of the building, now cracked like crushed ice by the shock waves from the blast. Screams and curses filled the air outside, blending with the stampeding noises of humans searching for cover inside. Completing the chaotic symphony was the sound of grinding metal as cars crashed into one another, while smoke belched from the raging inferno outside in the parking lot.

Maurice grabbed an agent as he scurried by and barked out orders. He shoved the man away to do his bidding and shouted at the top of his voice. “Pascal! Attends-moi!”

“I’m taking her out of this,” Richard shouted over the din. “Meet you in your office.”

Maurice nodded curtly. Richard turned and shouldered his way through the living mass swarming the lobby. He pushed and shoved, slowly opening a gap until they reached the elevators, all the while Gabriela burrowed herself deeper into Richard’s body.

“Are you okay?”

“Yes,” she whispered, but a shudder wracked her.

Richard framed her face with his hands, quickly scanning it, taking note that fortunately it wasn’t bruised too badly. The elevator doors opened and Richard shoved people aside as he propelled Gabriela in. One quick look at her pale face had shown him she needed to sit quickly before she fainted.

The passage from lobby, to elevator, to third floor office took on surreal proportions to Gabriela. Sensory messages existed only in a muted reality, with Richard her only focal point, her anchor. She barely noticed his zigzagging her through the chaos of people, yet paradoxically was keenly aware of his frantic heartbeat, the steely strength of his arms wrapped around her, protecting her. She felt his warmth amid the cold that had taken possession of every nerve in her body. Minutes later, when he tried to deposit her on a chair, she resisted, refusing to break contact. Her hold was so fierce Richard was forced to bend over until the seat stopped her descent. And even after she recognized the hard surface beneath her, she didn’t let go.

Richard carefully disengaged her arms. “Sweetheart, I have to assess any damage.” His voice was soft, husky, as if he were experiencing difficulty with it.

Gabriela finally let go. She tried to swallow, but her mouth was dry and her body couldn’t stop shaking. Seconds ago, this building had felt pleasantly cool. Now, it felt like an icebox. Her throat constricted and she tried to hold back tears. She never thought she could feel this frightened.

“Are you—” Her voice came out as a croak. She swallowed. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” he said, but didn’t look up from his gentle examination of her. If he did, he was afraid she would read the horror in his eyes, the anger, and his vulnerability. He had been prepared for anything—but this? Richard concentrated on cataloging her injuries. This had been too damn close.

Gabriela sensed that, despite his words, all was not well with him. Richard’s hands were shaking slightly. His tight discipline seemed to be fraying like a spider’s web against buffeting winds. She had once scoffed at the idea of Richard ever losing control, but now she was aware he was human, not a superhero of comic strip proportions. He could be hurt, and had been, trying to protect her. The back of his shirt sported burnt patches where hot metal had struck him as he’d shielded her body after the blast.

He pried her hands open and studied her battered palms. A shudder shook him. “God, Gabriela.” His voice sounded hoarse. “You could’ve been killed out there.” His eyes connected with hers. They were violently dark, in stark contrast with his ashen face. “If anything had happened to you—” He stared at her lovely eyes and knew he couldn’t have borne it had she died. “I don’t think I could have lived with myself.”

He cupped her face gently, his thumbs roving softly across her cheeks, savoring her softness, her warmth, her life. Gabriela closed her eyes, avoiding the raw pain she read in his, her heart thumping outrageously at each caress. “I—” She lifted her eyelids and held his look for a moment, a deep flush heating her face. “Ditto. To you, I mean.”

Her simple confession destroyed the final barrier that had caged him away from her. His thumbs shifted to her lips, felt the slight tremors there. With a hunger so fierce it practically drowned him, he brought her face to his and kissed her, softly at first, wanting to taste her, to absorb her tremors. When she opened her lips to him in welcome, he dived in, drinking deeply, longingly, wanting to fuse with her.

It was heaven.

It was hell.

“Gabriela.”

Gabriela had never heard her name whispered with such longing, such heat. It snapped her back to reality. She pushed him gently away, hiding her face in shame and shocked at her own response. “No. No more. I should never . . . we can never—” She pressed her palms against her cheeks. They were burning. “This should not have happened.”

“But it did.” He tried lifting her face. “Listen—”

“No.” She got up abruptly. She knew what Richard wanted to say, but she couldn’t allow it. Things that were said could never be taken back. She concentrated on the chaos of agents rushing back and forth outside Maurice’s office. “Please, Richard, let it be for now. Let’s concentrate on bringing this man to justice.”

Richard rose from his crouched position. He knew he shouldn’t press, but what the hell, he wanted her, needed her. He stepped forward.

“You’d better look at this,” Maurice said, rushing in and brandishing a small piece of paper like a sword. He extended it to Richard.

Richard scanned the contents. There wasn’t much, just a single word: Boom! “Did anyone see the son of a bitch?”

“Yes. The security guard at the entrance gate signed for it an hour before the explosion. Pascal is reviewing the surveillance tapes now.”

An hour. While Gabriela was practicing her shooting. “Where was the blast?”

“At the northeast section of wall in the compound.” Maurice speared his hair with such force that the cigarette on his lips wobbled. “Near enough to be felt, but far enough to cause only minimal damage.”

Richard began to pace. He wished he had the bastard’s neck in his hands. “This guy is good at his fucking games.”

Gabriela’s eyes rounded with incredulity. “You call what just happened a game?”

“That bomb had very little blasting power. It was also set off before we even got near the car.”

“He’s right, Madame,” Maurice said, grinding his cigarette into an ashtray. “It was a warning, perhaps a delaying tactic.”

“What I can’t figure out is why,” Richard answered.


About the Author

Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra is a romantic suspense author with a unique point of view. Her adventure novels take place in locales across Europe and the United States, reflecting her international upbringing and extensive time as a global traveler. In her duology, The Coin and The Book of Hours, her characters, Gabriela and Richard, walk the same paths as their creator, though her life was never in so much danger.

Her short story collection, The Fish Tank: And Other Short Stories, is an imaginative ride through various genres. One section in particular, “Soul Songs”, delves into the gut-wrenching experience of exile with Ms. Alonso-Sierra’s fictionalized Cuban Diaspora stories, based on her own experience of exile.

The author’s short story, “Retribution Served”, is featured in the anthology Book Dreams: Volume 1, and has been well received by readers.

Ms. Alonso-Sierra’s writing career began circa age thirteen with a very juvenile science fiction short story, but the writing bug hit, and she has been writing, in one capacity or another, ever since. She has worked as a professional dancer, singer, journalist, and literature teacher in both the university and middle school levels (and not necessarily in that order) and holds a Masters in English literature. She loves to hear from readers and, when not writing, roams around to discover new places to set her novels.

She is currently working on her fourth book, a Detective Nick Larson novel, and lives in North Carolina with her husband and her dog, Amber.

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Giveaway

Swag Pack

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!


Tour Hosted By:

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If you read these books, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Music Monday

Hi everyone!

Happy Memorial Day and happy Music Monday!


This meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You pick a song that you really like and share it on Monday.

I’m picking Trust in You by Lauren Diagle. I love her voice, and this is one of my favorite songs by her. If you enjoy Christian music, I definitely suggest listening to this one.

You can listen here.

Album: How Can It Be


Let me know what you’re listening to in the comments!

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3 Quotes, 3 Days – Day 3 (Round 2)

Hi everyone!

Last day of the 3 Quotes, 3 Days tag. I hope you enjoyed these quotes. 😊

I was tagged by Mischenko @ ReadRantRock&Roll to participate in the 3 Days, 3 Quotes tag. Be sure to check out Michenko’s blog, because it is fantastic!!


Happy Memorial Day!!!! ♡


As usual, I tag anyone who wants to participate. I hope you’re having an amazing Memorial Day weekend.

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Gone by S.H. Love *Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway*

Hi everyone!

I’m excited to be part of the Blog Tour for Gone by S.H. Love! I had the chance to review Gone, there’s an excerpt to check out, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!


About the Book

Gone
by S.H. Love
Genre: Psychological Thriller

Rory Richards is self-absorbed and suicidal.

Over the last year, he has lost his job, has attempted suicide multiple times, and has gotten his relationship to the point where it is heading for divorce. Fed up with everything, Rory has accepted his fate.

When he wakes up from a failed suicide attempt, he learns that his wife, Maggie, has disappeared without a trace. Her car is found abandoned on the highway, miles away from home. Her purse and her cell phone are discovered in the trunk. There is no sign of Maggie.

All Rory can remember about the previous night is that the two had the fight of a lifetime. The dispute causes him to storm out of the house and steal prescription pills from his neighbors in an attempt to overdose.

After that, everything is a blur.

Maggie’s sudden disappearance becomes a mystery.

Was she kidnapped? Did she disappear on purpose?

To avoid coming across as insensitive, Rory plays the part of loving husband and attempts to find his wife. He gives an emotional plea on television, reaches out to the Missing Persons Network, and even hires a private investigator to gather information.

All of these actions are to show police that he is actively searching. Deep down, though, he just doesn’t care anymore. But, does Rory’s lack of affection mean that he is responsible for Maggie’s disappearance? Or will he serve as the unlikely hero who finds her?

What happened the night she disappeared?

Purchase Gone on Amazon


Review

Gone is told in first person and our narrator is Rory Richards. At first, I didn’t know how to feel about Rory. He is selfish, and he lies a lot. I felt conflicted because generally, you’re supposed to like the main character, but Rory got under my skin. And that, I think, was done on purpose by the author, and it was fantastic.

It’s been a while since I read a mystery, so I was immediately drawn in. I had my theories in the beginning, but I was blown away by the end. Obviously, I can’t really talk about my theories because I don’t want to spoil. Just trust me on this one, I didn’t see it coming.

Rory is the character we really get to know. We learn about Maggie through Rory, so we get kind of a blurred vision of who she really is. That’s the way we are introduced to all characters in the book, and it’s interesting to get Rory’s point of view and then try to decide what you think of the person.

I think the writing style is interesting. The only complaint I had, was sometimes, when we jumped back in time and then back to present day, I felt a little loss. Like there wasn’t enough of a cue to tell me we were back to the main story until a sentence later. Otherwise, I really enjoyed the way it was written.

Wrap-Up:

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. If you’re like me, Rory is going to irritate you, and then he’s going to draw you back in. It’s a fun ride, and I loved the mystery. I didn’t think it was predictable, and the ending blew me away.

Rating:

5/5☆


Excerpt

The taste of charcoal briquettes lined the inside of my mouth. It was chalky, almost sweet, but not in a good way. The charcoal’s texture was thick, pebbly tasting, and difficult to swallow. The sensation remained in my mouth and almost made me puke.

I had just woken up after what seemed like days. Months, really, the time just flew by. Just like that, it was gone. My brain was resting after a lifetime of activity, dreams creeping in, only to disappear again.

Body collapsed, exhaustion forcing me to nearly drift into another blackout, I inhaled quickly in order to stay conscious. Inhaling made my throat sore, the roughness scratching like sandpaper.

In and out, my mind went black, only to resolve to faint lights with warped images. Nothing really resonated inside, the time lapse unknown in my current state.

What day is it?

Where am I?

My eyes opened wide. Dried and strained, they focused on the ceiling. The drop ceiling tiles multiplied in front of me, expanding outward, adding four times the amount. Growing larger and then shrinking in a fast instant, the tiles kept going in and out of focus until they became clear. The mineral fibers absorbed all the ambient noise that surrounded me. Not that it mattered in my case. I was as laid up as one could get.

After a rush of constant blinking, my vision came into focus. The ceiling was again normal. Water stains shaped like countries struck out against the plain white tiles. Italy was to my left. Thailand was to the right. The United States’ forty-eight, it was as if the South had actually won the Civil War and had relocated to Africa. Stretched across one of the corners in the room was a thin spider web. Part of it was unattached and blowing from the air conditioner vent. The cold air pushing out of the vent kissed my face, tickling my cheeks and making them numb.

Looking around my environment, my body depressed in a slow, dragged out sigh.

My tongue worked around my lips, licking the spots where my skin and lips met. The heavy, smoky flavor was all I needed to know to describe what happened the night before. My face began to crease from the burnt charcoal taste within. Caving in, it was a crushed aluminum can bending inward. It was as if someone punched me super hard, my face staying locked in its current position.

The medical staff used the charcoal to absorb the toxins from the pills I had swallowed. All one hundred thirteen of them. In a single sitting, swallowing the enteric-coated pills until my vision faded. One by one by one, I had attempted to take my own life. It was a smorgasbord of poison with various colored pills. Some I had recognized. Others I had not.

There was a bottle for sleeping disorders. There were various prescriptions for pain. One container was filled with Ativan. Another, filled with God knows what. I had no idea.

It was the perfect cure for anxiety, pain, and seizures, for one low price.

Who would have thought that that many pills could be found inside your neighbors’ medicine cabinets? Then again, who would have thought that amount of pills could be pumped out of a human body? Gastric lavage and activated charcoal, these were two procedures that I didn’t recommend.

If you ever need an emergency antidote to combat the dangers of prescription drugs, consider the two-step process of gutting and then grilling your face. The stomach pump was to remove the pills. The charcoal was used as a poisoning antidote, to interrupt the circulation of drugs from the liver to the bile, back into the small intestine, and ending back into the liver. The process was called enterohepatic circulation.

Coming to, I was greeted by a small, empty hospital room. A single bed surrounded by varying degrees of medical equipment. There was a heart monitor near my bed. An overbed table pushed off to the side. A cabinet filled with supplies. All the ingredients were present to revive the damaged soul of a person.

The television hanging from above was turned off, an old tube unit sitting on a shelf that was bolted to the wall. The screen was dirty; it was covered in dust particles from not being turned on.

The thick curtains were closed. Peeking in underneath and on the sides of the curtains’ fabric was a parking lot streetlight. The light from the tall post cast dark shadows into the room; the shadows creeped me out. They were monsters ready to attack, ready and willing to conquer under their master’s order. Whoever their master was, I wasn’t sure.

Swallowing was difficult. There was a tightening in my throat each time I’d attempted. Harder and harder to bring the saliva up my esophagus, I could feel it start in the pit of my stomach.

This was not my first attempt at suicide. No matter how hard I had tried, I could never fully succeed. Three fucking times was definitely not the charm.

My first attempt at offing myself happened about a year ago. My wife and I had begun to feel the effects of money shortfalls.

I had lost my job when the economy crashed and had never really gotten back on track. Sure, there were a few part-time positions here and there. And one full-time job that was so out of my field I had to quit. But there was nothing that had brought in near the same salary, near the same satisfaction, of what I had been living with for years before.

My wife, Maggie, had said that she understood.That working in a job that did not complement your skillset was difficult. Deep down, I knew my not being employed (or as Maggie had put it, sitting around) had still bothered her. She would often throw in sentences such as, “But every little bit helps,” and, “Maybe just stick it out for a while,” ending in, “Well, it’s your decision and I will support you nonetheless.”

She was just going through the motions at that point. This marked the beginning of the end for us. We were heading for a divorce.

The truth was jobs were not that available in our hometown of Rock Island, Illinois. A stagnant population of just under forty thousand, with only a handful of big employers that could provide a decent living. The cost of living was low, but you would have to be in a position that paid well enough. Most of the residents in the area worked at John Deere and the Rock Island Arsenal. Neither of which seemed to ever be hiring. It was almost as if you had to know or be related to someone in order to get your foot in the door. Of course, generations upon generations handed these jobs down like relay runners passing the batons behind them. With so much history between the two organizations, getting a job at either of these places was equivalent to being born into the royal family.

Me, I used to be the operations manager of a manufacturing company. Relative to the size of Deere and Arsenal, our company was small, a blip on their financial scope, a mere footnote in the conversation. But it was big for me, and it was what worked. That was, until I was let go.

We specialized in packaging, various types of packaging and shipping methods. One of our contracts was with John Deere, so you could say that I was a bastard stepson of the prestigious royal family. I was more of a second cousin that hardly came around, one that never saw the photo ops or royal invites.

I oversaw the plant workers at different locations around the area, who spent most of the days boxing items and getting them ready for shipment to wherever it was they were headed. Much of my time was dedicated to streamlining the process in order to cut costs. It took me several months to scheme up the process, paying particular attention to its destinations and what trucks needed to be loaded and at what times. Logistics wasn’t difficult; rather, you had to be on your game to know the shortest routes possible. You could say I was so good at my job that I cut my own salary out of the company. Shipped it out in a nicely packed container. Really, there wasn’t a need for me anymore. A win/lose situation.

My job, my life, my marriage, they were all packaged and ready to be shipped out. And to be honest, I didn’t care anymore. To be frank, getting divorced was the only true thing I had looked forward to.

Lying on the bed, my head facing the ceiling, I moved my eyes left to right, and screamed, “NO!” Clenching my teeth until my jaws hurt, bringing my voice down to a hush, I whisper-screamed, “FUCK YOU!” I had convinced myself that I had wanted to die this time. Deep down to the depths of my soul, I wished that I was dead.

All the while, the chair shadow creature was lurking in silence, staring in my direction.

The angled door monster sat mocking me. A malicious grin on its face, it could turn on me at any moment.

My body tightened until I turned bright red. Holding my breath in a weak attempt to suffocate, hopes of passing out to prevent my brain from picking back up again, my mind started racing. Through the half-closed blinds leading into an illuminated part of the hospital, two detectives were talking to a doctor. They were in mid-discussion ever since I had come to. The doctor was, on occasion, looking into my room while he continued to speak.

Struggling on the bed, kicking my legs under the sheets, the jerking of my body like a possessed demon, I was vying for their attention. Whipping my head side to side, the air from the vent reminding me that I was alive and well, I screamed inside, my mouth wide open, stretching until my cheeks became sore.

The officers looked serious, their bodies stiff and alert. Staring with intent into the doctor’s eyes, one of the policemen leaned in closer. A concerned look on his face, the detective nodded in agreement to whatever it was the doctor was discussing.

The window made it difficult to make out what they were saying. The light, reflecting off from the other side, made the men appear translucent. Squinting with a brave optimism that I could read their lips, I saw the policeman with the crew cut on the right side crane his neck toward me and then slowly return to the doctor.

Leaning in closer to the door, my head pulling forward, a sharp pain ran up my spine and into the nape of my neck. My body tightened into a crunch, my abs flexing for the first time in years. The balls of my feet were blistering for some reason, as if I had been on them for days. The soreness caused me to straighten, and before I could readjust my body, the door opened.

Flipping the light switch, the doctor, wearing multi-colored scrubs and a white smock, entered with the officers in tow. The shadow demons, they disappeared into tangible objects. One became the sink faucet. Another transformed into the tissue paper box. In an instant, the monsters assumed their positions in the real world. Their master, so it seemed, signaled them to be calm. It only took a second for my eyes to adjust to the bright light. My brain was still disordered. My recollection, it was groggy to say the least. The three men came into focus as they approached me.

“Mr. Richards,” the doctor said, his eyes scanning the paperwork on his clipboard, never making eye contact. Nodding his head, his lips curled downward. Skimming the chart before speaking again, he mouthed some words to himself. He then looked up, rejoining the conversation, and said, “I’m Doctor Wynn.”

Dr. Wynn was a skinny Asian man, his hospital garb baggy off his legs. He was a middle-aged gentleman, mostly wrinkle-free with not much grey. He had a full head of hair. Crow’s feet branched out from his half-opened eyes when he spoke. I could tell that he laughed a lot. Other than that tiny flaw, he was well put together.

I pegged him for having a trophy wife, brunette and much younger, and driving a convertible Mercedes-Benz. Aside from announcing that he was a doctor, his pickup line could have been, “If you go out with me, it would be a Wynn/Win.” And then a sparkling smile filled with whites. Who wouldn’t fall for this? Hell, I was beginning to fall in love with him. But that could just be the medication.

Reading through my charts more in-depth, his lips moving slightly, he scanned the file and then re-addressed me.

Tilting his head, he smiled, flashing his medical school teeth. “And how’re you feeling today?” His cadence was quick and with crisp enunciation. He displayed a charming politeness to his audience when he spoke.

Before I could answer, the doctor said, “You’re very lucky, Mr. Richards.”

Was I? Tracing the words with his index finger, he said, “You swallowed a lot of pills.” He was lecturing me like a third grade teacher would do to one of her students—

“Do you know what happens when you don’t finish your assignment?”

I was waiting for him to put me in the corner, but I guess this was close enough.

The officers stood stoic, hearing the diagnosis from the medical expert. Each was attentive for the most part, often looking down at the floor or around the room to inspect the potential sleeping monsters.

Casual demeanor, reading the shorthand notes scribbled on the paper, Dr. Wynn gave an inappropriate smile. He said, “Over one hundred.”

One hundred thirteen to be exact.

He looked me in the eyes and said, “How do you feel?” The doctor was full of questions. For someone who was a supposed expert, he was definitely curious. “Does your throat hurt?” he said.

The large thirty-six gastrostomy tube that was jammed into my esophagus was, to be very thankful, lubricated. Just because I had tried to kill myself did not warrant a dry throat fuck. Leaning in toward me, he said, “You were administered two hundred milliliters of warm tap water on a repeated basis in order to be fully drained.” His crow’s feet, they branched out as he emphasized certain syllables. He said this as if this was an everyday occurrence, as if he saw attempted suicides all the time.

A cop, the one with shaggier hair of the two, glanced at the doctor’s clipboard, squinting at the small lettering. The other, staring through me, stood statue still with his eyebrows lowered. He was thinking, or waiting his turn to speak, one of the two, or both. Dropping the clipboard down toward his waist, cupping it in his hand, Dr. Wynn said, “I recommend getting some rest. Your body blah! blah! blah! gone through some blah! blah! blah! and you’ll need some time to recover. And then we’ll have—”

The toll on my body caused me to almost crash out. My attention drifted with quick ambition with every other word the doctor said. I could hear the voices in the room, consulting each other, but the dialogue was incomprehensible. It was as if I was sitting next to Charlie Brown in school. At this stage, I wasn’t even sure it was happening.

Then, my head fell backward, my mind going blank.

Before I went under, the room spun out of focus. The countries on the ceiling tiles began to swirl, spinning around in a clockwise motion until they transformed into something else. Slowly, the shadow creatures came out of hiding, taking their positions as the hand sanitizer and drawer handle. My eyes wandered, attempting to escape their reach.

The voice of Dr. Wynn dissolving, I fell into a deep sleep.


About the Author

S.H. Love writes mysteries and thrillers. S.H. Love is the pseudonym of a critically acclaimed author.

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Giveaway

$20 Amazon gift card.

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!


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I definitely recommend this one. If you decide to give it a go, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Good luck in the giveaway!

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The Last Princess of Latura by Darren Simon *Blog Tour, Giveaway & Reviews*

Hi everyone!

I’m excited to be part of the blog tour for The Last Princess of Latura by Darren Simon! I had the opportunity to review both books, which I definitely enjoyed. There’s also a giveaway at the end, so be sure to read through the post. 😊


Guardian’s Nightmare
The Last Princess of Latura Book 1
by Darren Simon
Genre: Middle-Grade/New Adult fantasy

Charlee Smelton is an average thirteen-year-old girl struggling to adapt after her family moves to San Francisco. She thinks her biggest obstacle is facing the bullies who brand her a nerd and a dweeb. She’s wrong. Her life is about to change—for the worse. First, she receives a gift of the ugliest, most old fashioned bike she has ever seen. Try as she might to ditch it in the city, she just can’t seem to escape that very mysterious two-wheeler. Then come the visions of a world across a dimensional divide, a princess in fear for her life and a dark knight pursuing her. Are they just dreams or something more? For Charlee, everything she ever thought she knew about herself soon crumbles as she starts down a path to discover her true self, and she will need that hunk-of-junk bike more than she could ever imagine. Without it, she might not be able to find the hero in herself—the hero she must become to save her friends, family, her city—the world—from an evil only she can defeat. An evil she allows into this world.

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Excerpt:

Theodora nodded. “As you wish.” The sorceress drew back her hand and slung Charlee and the bike clear across the city.

They hurtled uncontrollably through the night. But this time, Theodora was not going to stop their fall. The bike spun out of control, its wings flailing uselessly. It seemed…unconscious.

Have to…wake it…up…or we…die!

Charlee reached out for the bike. She had to snag a handlebar, a pedal, a wing—anything to make contact.

Come on! Reach. Reach! Reach!

The city rushed by beneath her. She flew by one rooftop, then another. She craned her neck to glance ahead.

Oh my God!

A skyscraper stood directly in their path. They would smash into the glass exterior in seconds.

Try…again! Reach for the bike! Reach!

The fingers of her right hand touched the handlebars. Then she got a full grip and pulled herself onto the banana seat, but the bike did not respond to her presence.

“Bike, wake up!” No response. “Bike, we’re going to die!” Nothing. She steadied herself. This time, instead of shouting, she used thought to communicate.

She willed it to regain consciousness.

Bike, please! Wake up!

Review

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even though it was clearly aimed at a younger audience. It has a fun plot with a lot of humor and action in it, and I think it’s a perfect coming of age story for a middle schooler to enjoy.

Charlee is a great main character, who really shows growth in her journey. She is 13, and struggling with real life problems – then added into the mix, all of a sudden she has a whole new world filled with magic to deal with. I think she is a relatable character, with a snarky personality, which I enjoyed.

Bike is worth mentioning. What a great side character. I won’t get into too much for fear of spoilers, but I just loved how unique this character was.

I thought the world building was decent. I have to admit, I was a bit overwhelmed toward the end, as Charlee learned who she really was. I think there was some info-dumping, and it threw me off a bit. However, the book is fast paced, and it’s a page turner. I was never bored.

Wrap-Up:

Overall, I think this was a great read. Again, I would recommend this for a middle schooler, mostly, but as an adult, I found the story entertaining as well.

Rating:

4/5☆


Guardian’s Return
The Last Princess of Latura Book 2

A month has passed since fourteen-year-old Charlee Smelton discovered her magical abilities and faced her great aunt, Theodora, in a life or death struggle to protect Earth. A month has passed since she tricked Theodora back across the dimensional gateway that brought Theodora to Earth. Since then, Charlee—now fully aware that she is part of a noble bloodline from another world…another dimension…has grown stronger in her magic, aided by her protector, a shapeshifter sent to Earth to protect her.

But the terrible dreams won’t stop.

Theodora lives, and if Charlee’s dreams of death and fields of spilled blood are true, her great aunt has avenged herself on that world across the dimensional divide.

Charlee knows what she must do. The fight is not over. She must travel across the gateway to the home of her ancestors and face Theodora one more time. But doing so may cost Charlee more than her life. The same medallion her great aunt desires so much—a medallion Charlee possesses—could make her just as evil as her great aunt.

Can Charlee stave off the twisted tendrils of the medallion long enough to defeat Theodora—for good—or will evil consume her? Can she even survive so far from home? Her only hope may rest in the Lord of the Dragons, but that beast turned his back on her grandfather long ago…

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Excerpt

Calling on her magically heightened strength, she kicked the door. It didn’t budge, but the timber around the hinges cracked. She struck a second time. The door broke from the frame and fell forward. A wall of fire rushed through the opening, engulfing Charlee. She dropped to one knee and shielded her eyes.

The blinding flash muzzled her cries. Somehow, though, the layer of energy kept her alive—a glowing barrier between her flesh and the inferno. She could breathe, too, but the air had become thick. She could only manage short breaths.

“I have to move. Can’t fail.” Peering through her fingers, a swirling vortex of oranges, yellows and reds prevented her from seeing beyond a few feet in any direction.

Her mom’s thoughts returned.

Get up! Run through it! Straight ahead!

Her body trembled, and her heart pounded so fast it might burst from her chest. Her skin baked despite the protective shell. Blinking sweat from her eyes, she charged through the firestorm.

Don’t stop…don’t stop until you’re through,her mom urged.

Overhead, the house creaked in protest. Oh no! Burning timber plunged toward her. Diving out of the way, she broke through the flames. Behind her the fire roared. Ahead, the second-floor hallway lay darkened by charred mist.

Coughing, Charlee clutched her chest to quiet her wild heart and slow her breathing. Her legs wobbled and her head drooped. Hot tears formed. She couldn’t help it.

I’m alive.

Still have a chance. Must press on.

Standing tall, she lifted her head.

You’re not going to beat me, fire.

“Sir, where are you?” she called to the little girl’s dad. “Can you hear me? Sir…”

Review:

I think Guardian’s Return is a bit better than Guardian’s Nightmare. This is probably because we get to see more magic. This was a bit more fast paced, and I felt myself getting excited toward the end to see what happened.

I think Charlee has grown as a character. She is well aware of what she needs to do, but is still timid – which makes her relatable. She still has a bit of an attitude, and I love that about her.

The world building and lore of the world is much more fleshed out in this book. You learn a great deal about the past events that led to the present circumstances. I really enjoy when a second book has purpose and isn’t just a bridge to a third book.

Wrap-Up:

Overall, I enjoyed this story. It has a lot of heart, action and it keeps you entertained. I think the magic system is unique, and I’m definitely interested in checking out the next book.

Rating:

4.5/5☆


About the Author

Darren Simon resides in Southern California where he works as a college English teacher after a career as a newspaper journalist. His love for writing began with a love for reading when his grandmother gave him a wonderful gift—a brown paper bag filled with comic books from the 1960s and ’70s. From there, he moved on to Choose Your Own Adventure books. Eventually he discovered the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, which solidified his interest in writing epic fantasy and science fiction tales.

So far, he has focused his writing on middle grade and young adult fiction to inspire young readers just as he was inspired to read and write at a young age.

He self-published his first novel though iUniverse and immediately went on to write the second book in the series. Upon completing the second book, he decided to seek more traditional publishing. After countless rejection letters, a small independent publisher—Divertir Publishing—decided to pick up the series, a fantasy about a teen-aged girl who learns her family is actually from an alternate dimension, and only she has the power to protect Earth from a sorceress from her world—who just happens to be her great aunt. Divertir republished the first book, titled, Guardian’s Nightmare, in 2015. The second book in the series, Guardian’s Return was released in April.

Darren has also written another series—a young adult historical pirate fantasy set in the golden age of piracy, mixing historical pirates and pirate hunters with his fictional characters in a time-traveling, swashbuckling tale. The first book in that series, The Dangerous Legacy, was published in 2016 by Tell-Tale Publishing. The second book in the series, The Deadly Waters, is due out later this year.

All his books are available at Amazon.com and Barnes&noble.com.

Darren, who lives with his wife, Sandra and two sons, Daniel and Jacob, and two crazy dogs, in the Valley, is continuing to write and develop new stories, including a young adult novel now in the hands of literary agency.

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Giveaway

$15 Amazon gift card

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!


Tour Hosted By:

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If enjoy middle grade fantasy, these are definitely fun books. If you pick them up, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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3 Quotes, 3 Days – Day 2 (Round 2)

Hi everyone!

Welcome to day 2 of the 3 Quotes, 3 Days tag!

I was tagged by Mischenko @ ReadRantRock&Roll to participate in the 3 Days, 3 Quotes tag. Be sure to check out Michenko’s blog, because it is fantastic!!


I decided I needed something funny for today. I’m not sure about you guys, but this happens to me ALL. THE. TIME. 😂


As usual, I tag anyone who wants to participate. Are you doing anything fun for Memorial Day? Let me know in the comments.

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3 Quotes, 3 Days – Day 1 (Round 2)

Hi everyone!

I was tagged by Mischenko @ ReadRantRock&Roll to participate in the 3 Days, 3 Quotes tag. Be sure to check out Michenko’s blog, because it is fantastic!!

I did this once already, but I love it, so I’m doing it again. 😊


As some of you know, I’ve been struggling with debilitating pain. We are thinking Fibromyalgia, but they’ve found a couple other things we need to look into. I’ve been really trying to read and digest the Bible more than I ever have before, and this verse really spoke to me. If you’re struggling, I hope you find comfort in this one.


As usual, I tag anyone who wants to participate. I think this is a really fun tag. We are going to my Dad’s for a cookout. What are you doing this weekend?

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Aether Walker by Nak Baldron *Blog Tour & Giveaway*

Hi everyone!

I’m excited to share all the details about the Aether Walker novels by Nak Waldron! There’s a really awesome guest post, as well as a giveaway, so be sure to read all the way through!


About the Books

Discovery of Light
Austin Chronicles: Book 1
An Aether Walker Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Aether Walkers plague the city!

Kandice sees the creatures throughout her city, but no one else seems to care.

She watched as an Aether Walker killed her mother. Now regret fuels her need for vengeance. Forced to live with her aunt – Kandice must hide her nightly hunts. How could she explain the need to kill these creatures when they appear human to everyone else?

kandice struggles to attend school by day, and hunt by night. She meets a fellow hunter and discovers just how little she knows. Now she’s confronted with a choice – to trust him or not. Vengeance isn’t possible alone.

Can she manage to pull off her double life – avenge her mother, and keep her 4.0 GPA? The weight is crushing her, and something is about to break.

Discovery of Light is a lightning-paced urban fantasy – gripping adventure – with a strong heroine, a mysterious hero, and unique magic.

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Seal of Light
Austin Chronicles: Book 2
An Aether Walker Novel

Aether Walkers still plague the city, but at least Kandice is not alone.

After discovering that Lance can see the Aether Walkers, Kandice has decided he will teach her. However, he doesn’t know it. She struggles to pull off her double life, but it hasn’t fallen apart. Yet!

Kandice’s issues with her aunt heat up and she must choose between family and honor. Her skills as a huntress are at an all time high, but they’re still not enough. She needs help, and only one man can provide it. Will her feelings for him get in the way?

When Kandice learns the truth about the Aether Walkers, will she be able to make the right choice? She stands in the eye of the storm. One wrong step and she’ll lose everything she has left.

Seal of Light is a lightning-paced urban fantasy – gripping adventure – with a strong heroine, a mysterious hero, and unique magic.

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Theft of Light
Austin Chronicles: Book 3
An Aether Walker Novel

The mayor is an Aether Walker!

Kandice and Lance must save the city, but they can’t do it alone. They’re putting their team together, while at the same time the mayor is preparing to take over the city.

Kandice has made her choice, moved out from her aunt’s house, and left school behind. She is committed to fighting the Aether Walkers, but now it’s more than revenge for her mother’s death. If she fails the whole city will suffer.

Will Kandice and the team be able to pull off their mission? If they fail it will cost more than their own lives.

Theft of Light is a lightning-paced urban fantasy – gripping adventure – with a strong heroine, a mysterious hero, and unique magic.

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Guest Post

In the 6th grade I started my first novel – an epic fantasy – where a farm boy discovers his ability to speak with wolves, and a wise wizard comes to guide him. I’m particularly proud of those first five chapters, and that my twelve-year-old self realized the project was worth abandoning. That first book fueled my desire to be a writer and spurred me onwards.

My first love of reading happened with Harry Potter, like many other children of my generation. However, Eragon gave me the hope I too would become a writer one day. When I learned Paolini wrote the first draft as a teenager I thought I could too. Even today I’m in awe of his abilities. I was not a prodigy, but I dedicated myself and kept at it.

In college I took my writing endeavors serious and finished my first novel. Thankfully, I didn’t know about self-publishing because that novel isn’t ready, and I’m not sure it ever will be.

The real turning point in my journey was when I discovered Brandon Sanderson’s Writing course online. BYU was kind enough to allow Sanderson to upload his lectures for the world to see. I’ve taken his course via YouTube at least 10 times. Each year when he uploaded a new recording, I would stop everything else to listen. What’s more is I noticed that I wasn’t learning as much each time. And today I’m proud to say I’ve learned everything the course has to offer. However, my journey is far from over. I constantly focus on new areas to improve as a writer. Yet, I wouldn’t be as competent a writer as I am today if it hadn’t been for Sanderson’s lectures.

With television it’s easier to keep track of my influences. (With books there are too many to count.) The first show that changed my fundamental understanding of story was Stargate SG 1 along with Stargate Atlantis. Being able to see two shows that were so similar to one another and identify how they differed taught me about story structure in a way that nothing else could. Gilmore girls taught me quick witted dialogue, and any historical drama set before the steam engine inspires me.

This may seem like an odd spattering since I write Urban Fantasy, but to the best I can tell these have been my major influences and the stories I go back to for ideas or mood. I’m always pushing myself to learn and expand, and I read at least two books a week, but I’m not sure I’m influenced in the same was I was with those early media loves.

“Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.” ― Flannery O’Connor

I’d like to add, “The stories we experience in our childhoods are the stories we’ll build upon as adults.”


About the Author

Nicholi (N.A.K. Baldron) is an author and avid reader. He likes stories that take place in fictional worlds, with memorable characters.

He spends his days debating between whether it’s coffee or tea time, and pecking away at his keyboard to produce stories for his readers. He can be found strolling through one of the many wooded areas in the small town outside of Austin, Texas that he calls home.

If he could have any power, it would be the power to control time; then he could freeze it and find enough reading time. One of his deepest regrets in life, is knowing he’ll never get around to reading all the books on his to-be-read list.

Knowing how precious reading time is, he’s always honored when his readers choose to spend their time on his stories.

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Giveaway

$25 Amazon gift card!

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive content, Guest posts and a giveaway!


Tour Hosted By:

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If you read these books, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Katrina Williams Series by Robert E. Dunn *Cover Reveal & Giveaway*

Hi everyone!

I’m bringing you the cover reveal for the Katrina Williams series by Robert E. Dunn! Make sure you enter the giveaway!


A DARK PATH
Series: Katrina Williams #3
by Robert E. Dunn
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Pub Date: 8/7/2018

Sheriff’s detective Katrina “Hurricane” Williams confronts deep-rooted hate and greed in the Missouri Ozarks in this riveting police procedural…

What at first appears to be a brush fire in some undeveloped bottom land yields the charred remains of a young African-American man. As sheriff’s Katrina Williams conducts her in-spection of the crime scene, she discovers broken headstones and disturbed open graves in a forgotten cemetery.

As Katrina attempts to sort out a complex backwoods criminal network involving the Aryan Brotherhood, meth dealers, and the Ozarks Nightriders motorcycle gang, she is confronted by the sudden appearance of a person out of her own past who may be involved. And what seems like a clear-cut case of racially motivated murder is further complicated by rumors of hidden silver and dark family histories. To uncover the ugly truth, Katrina will need to dig up past crimes and shameful secrets that certain people would kill to keep buried . . .

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*****

A PARTICULAR DARKNESS
Katrina Williams Book #2
Pub Date: 9/12/2017

From the author of A Living Grave comes a gripping police procedural featuring sheriff’s detective Katrina Williams as she exposes the dark underbelly of Appalachia . . .

Dredging up the Truth

Still recovering from tragedy and grieving a devastating loss, Iraq war veteran and sheriff’s detective Katrina Williams copes the only way she knows how—by immersing herself in work. A body’s just been pulled from the lake with a fish haul, but what seems like a straight-forward murder case over the poaching of paddlefish for domestic caviar quickly becomes murkier than the depths of the lake.

Soon a second body is found—an illegal Peruvian refugee woman linked to a charismatic tent revival preacher. But as Katrina tries to investigate the enigmatic evangelist, she is blocked by antagonistic FBI agents and Army CID personnel. When more young female refu-gees disappear, she must partner with deputy Billy Blevins, who stirs mixed feelings in her, to connect the lake murder to the refugees. Katrina is no stranger to darkness, but cold-blooded conspirators plan to make sure she’ll never again see the light of day . . .

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*****

A LIVING GRAVE
Katrina Williams Book 1

The first in a gritty new series featuring sheriff’s detective Katrina Williams, as she investigates moonshine, murder, and the ghosts of her own past…

BODY OF PROOF

Katrina Williams left the Army ten years ago disillusioned and damaged. Now a sheriff’s detective at home in the Missouri Ozarks, Katrina is living her life one case at a time—between mandated therapy sessions—until she learns that she’s a suspect in a military investigation with ties to her painful past.

The disappearance of a local girl is far from the routine distraction, however. Brutally murdered, the girl’s corpse is found by a bottlegger whose information leads Katrina into a tangled web of teenagers, moonshiners, motorcycle clubs, and a fellow veteran battling illness and his own personal demons. Unraveling each thread will take time Katrina might not have as the Army investigator turns his searchlight on the devastating incident that ended her military career. Now Katrina will need to dig deep for the truth—before she’s found buried…

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Excerpt

Burning is not the best way to dispose of a body. It’s hard to get a fire hot enough, long enough, to burn through the layers of fat, muscle, and bone to destroy all the evidence you need gone. It doesn’t smell very good either.

Before it ever got to me, the situation had worked through a few preliminary steps. First, the pair of teens who discovered the fire debated calling it in. They had been parking and fooling around in a secluded spot off a rutted dirt track—usually used by fishermen going to the lake. I imagine it was a tough debate among hormones, responsibility, and fear of angry parents. They told me later they would have let the blaze go if the boy’s father hadn’t been a volunteer fireman.

After a brutally stormy spring, the summer had been hot and dry. Over recent weeks, the Ozarks had fallen into a deep drought. Lake levels were way down, crops were withering, and small fires were whipped into big ones by even the smallest breeze. The boy had been lectured about it so many times, it was impossible for him to pretend ignorance.

After the kids called 911 to report what they believed was a trash fire, deputies and the fire department were dispatched. The boy’s father showed up on the pumper. I understand there was a parenting opportunity that involved a little tough love.

That opportunity was probably lost when the embers were raked out and doused. In the center of the smoking pile was a charred lump everyone assumed was a log. When it was hit with direct pressure, the log split open. Under the black surface was pink meat and steaming flesh. That was when they called me.

My phone rang a few minutes shy of two a.m. Late Saturday night—or early Sunday morning—depending on how pedantic you are about that sort of thing. I’m not at all, at least not at that hour. I was in bed, and not yet sleeping because it wasn’t my bed.

Every call to my phone rings the same tone except one, the Taney County Sheriff’s Department. I knew it was a work call even without the tone. Real life always intrudes whenever I find a bit of peace in my life.

“This is Katrina,” I said softly into the phone.

“Who’re you whisperin’ for?” our jailer asked. He laughed like he actually knew something. It was a thick, rheumy cackle that made me picture the soggy cigar in his jowled face.

I was actually relieved. If he was calling, I might be able to stay in bed. “What do you want, Duck?” His name was Donald Duques, earning him the permanent sobriquet, Donald Duck—always shortened to simply Duck. He laughed again and I became unpleasantly aware of being naked.

“Got a body,” he interjected between wet hacks of laughter.

“What?” Given who he was and the old school Ozarks diction, I can be forgiven for thinking he was commenting about my appearance.

I was about to give him some choice thoughts on his manners when he said again, “We got a body. Out on the west side shore of Bull Shoals by Kissee Mills.”

Detective Billy Blevins shifted in the sheets behind me. His arm moved against my bare thigh and hip. I was distracted by the warm contact. “What?”

Duck laughed again. “What’d I catch you doin’? Work can’t hold your attention?”

“Why are you calling me?”

“I told you—”

“Why you, Duck?”

“Oh,” he swallowed the laugh. “Gettin’ a little overtime. Workin’ weekend overnights on dispatch.”

“Then stick to the job at hand, would you? What’s the call?”

“Couple ‘a kids called in a fire. Calvin called for a detective when the fire department found a body in the brush heap.”

“Where?” I stood and broke contact with Billy’s arm. My skin immediately regretted the loss.

“That undeveloped bottom land, down the fishing trail that goes off of Hole Road.”

“Who’s there?”

Duck told me the names of deputies on scene and I started searching for my underthings. They were close by on the floor. Finding them made me think of losing them. I smiled.

“I’ll be half an hour,” I informed Duck.

“From your place?” He sounded surprised.

“Half an hour,” I repeated and broke the connection.

Moonlight through a high window illuminated Billy lying in the sheets. It was a nice sight. I was amazed—and alternately delighted and terrified—by that development in my life. Not as amazed; however, as I was that he’d never woken while I talked on the phone and dressed. Maybe I was projecting. My own sleep was fragile and filled with ghosts. Billy seemed to have the ability to sleep without demons.

He and I had circled each other for years. We were deployed to Iraq at the same time. In the worst moment of my life, Billy appeared for the first time. I don’t even know if the memory is real. Everything else about that time is solid and undeniable. I was brutalized by two superior officers. They left me for dead in the blowing brown dust that eddied behind a mud wall. Grain by grain, the dun-colored wind piled a grave on top of me. I pulled myself from the dirt, staggered then crawled to a road. Insurgents found me first. They would have shot me like a rabid dog in a ditch if an Army patrol hadn’t shown up. All of that is true. And it’s true that a young medic, a corporal, cleaned and stabilized me in the back of a rushing Humvee. There’s a little piece of that, the piece I believe but don’t know: Billy Blevins was that medic. He’s never said and I’m afraid to ask. But I believe.

There were so many reasons why we never should have gotten to this point. I hated giving up any moment of lying naked with him.

Still. . . I’m a cop and the real world was calling.


About the Author

Robert E. Dunn was born an Army brat and grew up in the Missouri Ozarks. He wrote his first book at age eleven turning a series of Jack Kirby comic books into a hand written novel.

Over many years in the, mostly, honest work of video and film production he produced everything from documentaries, to training films and his favorite, travelogues. He returned to writing mystery, horror, and fantasy fiction for publication after the turn of the century. It seemed like a good time for change even if the changes were not always his choice.

Mr. Dunn is the author of the horror novels, THE RED HIGHWAY, MOTORMAN, and THE HARROWING, as well as the Katrina Williams mystery/thriller series, A LIVING GRAVE, A PARTICULAR DARKNESS, and the upcoming A DARK PATH.
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