18 September, 2019

Sea of Darkness by Isadora Brown & Rebecca Hamilton Book Blitz! @InkMuse


Sea of Darkness
Isadora Brown & Rebecca Hamilton
(The Vampire Pirate Saga #1)
Published by: Evershade Publishing
Publication date: May 10th 2018
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Working with a supernatural enemy is Kelia’s only hope of solving her father’s murder. But her investigation puts her own life in danger.
The Society’s sole purpose is to protect the general population from vicious Sea Shadows, and Kelia’s their top Slayer. But when her father is murdered and her handler insists it’s suicide, she starts to question whether The Society really has her best interests at heart.
Now, to solve her father’s death, Kelia must work with an unexpected ally: Drew Knight, an infamous Sea Shadow and the most beautiful creature Kelia has ever set eyes upon. A Sea Shadow who, without intending to, just may show her who the real enemy is…and it’ll only cost her one unnamed favor to be collected at a future date.
But after her affiliation with Drew Knight is discovered, Kelia is forced to choose between what she’s known since the beginning of her existence…or a dark, terrifying truth that puts her life at risk.
Find out who dies and who survives in SEA OF DARKNESS, the first installment of The Vampire Pirate Saga, an exciting new urban fantasy romance readers of Sarah J Maas and Karen Marie Moning are sure to devour!
EXCERPT:
“There,” he said, pointing at Kelia’s face. “You have a range of emotion littering your face.” He chuckled. “You’re easier to read than a book.”
Kelia bristled. She absolutely detested knowing she was here because she needed the assistance of a Sea Shadow. And not just any, but the most infamous vampire pirate of them all.
“I found out some information,” she murmured. “And I feel you would be able to assist me in what to do with it.”
He tilted his head to the side, his eyes shining. “Do share, darling.”
It was hard to concentrate when he smiled that way. Kelia had known he was dangerously beautiful, but when he was directly in front of her, cocking a smile like it was a weapon and shooting it in her direction, she was completely powerless.
“Well, don’t be shy with the goods,” he prodded. “What did you find that you need my help with?”
She shot him a glare, and he laughed.
“You are so good to goad, darling,” Drew said. “Something you need to work on. You don’t want your enemies to pick up on your weakness. They might use it to manipulate you.”
Kelia arched her eyebrow. “And how do I know who my enemies are?”
Drew’s smirk deepened. “That, my dear, is a very good question.”


Author Bio:
New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Hamilton writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Harlequin, Baste Lübbe, and Evershade. A book addict, registered bone marrow donor, and indian food enthusiast, she often takes to fictional worlds to see what perilous situations her characters will find themselves in next.
Represented by Rossano Trentin of TZLA, Rebecca has been published internationally, in three languages: English, German, and Hungarian.
Author links:
Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Bookbub
--
Isadora Brown loves all things dark, dangerous, and deadly. Things that go bump in the night and send shivers down backs are things she adores. She loves (and writes) sexy, forbidden romance, usually with some bite and a hint of magic. She is the author of The Somerset Series, The Dark Paradise Trilogy, The Stranger Trilogy, and The Neverland Trilogy. You can find her work on Amazon and keep up with her by signing up for her newsletter here: http://madmimi.com/signups/349869/join
Author links:
Goodreads / Facebook / Bookbub
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Eye for Eye by JK Franko Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Eye for Eye by JK Franko

Eye for Eye by JK Franko

on Tour July 22 - September 20, 2019

Book Details:
Genre: Crime & Mystery
Published by: Talion Publishing
Publication Date: June 22nd 2019
Number of Pages: 400
ISBN: 1999318803 (ISBN13: 9781999318802)
Series: Talion #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

"NEW TWIST ON STRANGERS ON A TRAIN"
~ THE SUNDAY TIMES

Roy and Susie are on a skiing holiday, trying to take a break from the constant reminders of their daughter, tragically killed by a careless driver. Out of the blue they meet Deb and Tom, another couple with a tragic past and a shocking proposal to put things right.

As the bodies accumulate, secrets are revealed and alliances crumble. Ultimate survival depends on following the rules for a perfect murder. And the first rule is… leave no singing bones.

 Read an excerpt:
When I try to piece together how this whole mess began, a part of me thinks it may have started over thirty years ago. At least the seeds were planted that far back, in the early 1980s. What happened then, at that summer camp in Texas, set the stage for everything that was to come.
Odd, how something so remote in time and geography continues to impact me here, today.
Sometimes I try to imagine her, how she felt—that eleven year-old girl—as she ran, stumbling and tripping through the woods that night. I try to put myself in her shoes. When I do, I wonder if she was frightened.
Did she understand the consequences of what she’d gotten herself into? I imagine it felt otherworldly to her, like a dream. But not a good dream. No, one of the bad ones—the ones that make your heart machine-gun as you try to outrun some dark thing that’s chasing you. But the faster you try to run, the slower you go, your legs feeling leaden, clumsy, useless.
Panic sets in. Tears of frustration form. Fear takes hold and won’t let go. You open your mouth to scream but realize, to your horror, that you’re paralyzed. It’s not that you can’t scream; you can’t even breathe. Not a dream—a nightmare.
Then again, all that may simply be my imagination. It could just be me projecting what I might have felt onto Joan. Maybe she wasn’t scared at all.
True, it was dark out. The night smelled of rain, but there was no lightning, only the far-off rumble of thunder hinting at a distant storm. There were no trail lights, no visibility but for the moon peeking out intermittently from behind a patchwork of clouds. But, Joan had been down this trail before. She was running toward the main cabin.
She had been at Camp Willow for almost two full weeks. She had been up and down that trail at least ten times a day, every day. Of course, that was during the day, and always with her buddy, or a camp counselor (the children called them troop leaders). Joan had never been on the trail at night. And never alone.
Maybe I imagine Joan was scared because, as an adult, I believe that she should have been. I would have been terrified.
***
Excerpt from Eye For Eye by JK Franko. Copyright © 2019 by JK Franko. Reproduced with permission from JK Franko. All rights reserved.
 Author Bio:
JK Franko
J.K. FRANKO was born and raised in Texas. His Cuban-American parents agreed there were only three acceptable options for a male child: doctor, lawyer, and architect. After a disastrous first year of college pre-Med, he ended up getting a BA in philosophy (not acceptable), then he went to law school (salvaging the family name) and spent many years climbing the big law firm ladder. After ten years, he decided that law and family life weren’t compatible. He went back to school where he got an MBA and pursued a Ph.D. He left law for corporate America, with long stints in Europe and Asia.
His passion was always to be a writer. After publishing a number of non-fiction works, thousands of hours writing, and seven or eight abandoned fictional works over the course of eighteen years, EYE FOR EYE became his first published novel.
J.K. Franko now lives with his wife and children in Florida.Catch Up With JK Franko On:
jkfranko.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
Enter The Giveaway!!!:
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for JK Franko. There will be 6 winners. Two (2) winners will each win (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. Two (2) winners will each win a signed copy of EYE FOR EYE by JK Franko (Open to U.S. addresses only) and Two (2) winners will each win a Knife set (Open to U.S. addresses only). The giveaway begins on July 22, 2019 and runs through September 22, 2019. Void where prohibited.


 

The Very Least by Ken Kuhlken Blog Post!

The Very Least
By Ken Kuhlken
ISBN-10: 1725909782
ISBN-13: 978-1725909786
Publisher: CreateSpace 
September 13, 2018, 330 pages
Genre: Suspense thriller
Series: Hickey Family Crime Novel

Also available for Kindle



A dear friend of Clifford Hickey’s cousin Bo crosses the border on the run from a charge of molesting children in a church nursery school. Because Bo believes him innocent, journalist Clifford agrees to investigate. Soon he has made enemies of gangsters, politicians, and tycoons on both sides of the border. That’s the bad news. The good news: he meets Jodi McGee who helps him discover his purpose and write this story.

The Very Least is both a standalone novel of crime and suspense and a volume in the much praised and awarded Hickey Family Crime series.

Anne Tyler, as Chair of the Ernest Hemingway Award selection committee, wrote, "The pace, clarity and assurance of Midheaven made it a pleasure to read."

From Kirkus Reviews: "Kuhlken has, with Jodi, created a character new to us--the born again adolescent who’s in-the-know--and he provides her with grit and honesty."


Novelist Andy Straka commented, "Midheaven is one of those rare gems of a novel that sneaks up on you and nestles in your soul. I especially enjoyed the setting and character development. The sun-dappled mountains and cold water beauty of Lake Tahoe hold too many secrets for a teenage girl to bear. Jodi is a character you won't soon forget."

Some of Ken’s favorites are early mornings, the desert in spring, kind and honest people, baseball and other sports played by those who don’t take themselves too seriously, most kids, and films he and his Zoe can enjoy together.
He reads classic novels, philosophy, theology, and all sorts of mysteries. On his blog, he offers some hard truths and encouragement about living as a writer.
He has long been the author of novels, stories, articles, poems, and essays. Lots of honors have come his way, including a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship; Poets, Essayists and Novelist’s Ernest Hemingway Award; Private Eye Writers of America Best First Novel and Shamus Best Novel; and several San Diego and Los Angeles Book Awards.

Buy links:
Midheaven
The Very Least


Taming Demons for Beginners by Annette Marie Book Blitz and Giveaway! @AnnetteMMarie


Taming Demons for Beginners
Annette Marie
(The Guild Codex: Demonized #1)
Published by: Dark Owl Fantasy Inc.
Publication date: September 13th 2019
Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy

Rule one: Don’t look at the demon.
When I arrived at my uncle’s house, I expected my relatives to be like me—outcast sorcerers who don’t practice magic. I was right about the sorcery, but wrong about everything else.
Rule two: Don’t listen to the demon.
My uncle chose a far deadlier power. He calls creatures of darkness into our world, binds them into service contracts, and sells them to the highest bidder. And I’m supposed to act like I don’t know how illegal and dangerous it is.
Rule three: Don’t talk to the demon.
All I had to do was keep my nose out of it. Pretend I didn’t find the summoning circle in the basement. Pretend I didn’t notice the shadowy being trapped inside it. Pretend I didn’t break the rules.
But I did, and now it’s too late.

From the author of The Guild Codex: Spellbound comes a new series that will plunge an unprepared young woman into the darkest magic of the mythic world.
Want to join the blog tour?
Sign up here!
EXCERPT:
I snapped the Demonica guide shut and replaced it under the table, then scooped up my remaining cookies and walked across the hardwood floor. I stopped two long steps from the summoning circle, the dome-shape interior filled with inky, impenetrable shadows.
I held up a cookie.
“This,” I announced, “is a double-chocolate brownie cookie. It’s delicious, and I’ll give it to you if you answer a question for me.”
Silence from within the darkness.
“I answered your question,” I added accusingly.
Quiet lay upon the room—then a soft, husky laugh.
“A question, hh’ainun?” the demon crooned. “What would you ask?”
Doubts trickled through me. This was a bad idea, but I plowed on. “Do demons lie?”
“Ch,” it replied, a sound of cold amusement. “Zh’ūltis question. Ask another.”
I frowned. “What does zhuh-ool … what does that word mean?”
“Stupid. Stupid question.”
My frown deepened into a scowl. I rephrased. “If it’s true that demons don’t lie, why is that?”
A long pause, but it wasn’t the same silence as before. My skin prickled, instinct warning that a predator’s attention was locked on me.
“Tell me truths and lies, hh’ainun.”
“What?” I asked blankly.
The demon said nothing, waiting.
Brow furrowed, I searched for harmless things to say. “I moved here six days ago. I miss my college classes. My favorite class was biology. I enjoy baking for my family.”
“Moved here,” the demon repeated in its swirling accent. “True. Miss your … college,” it enunciated carefully, as though unfamiliar with the word, “true. Biology … lie.”
My eyes widened.
“Your family.” It rolled the last word as though tasting it. “Lie.” “No,” I said. “That one is true.”
“Lie,” the demon repeated with certainty.
“You’re wrong. I love baking for my family.”
“Zh’ūltis.”
“Did you just call me stupid?” I clenched my jaw, then relaxed. “You didn’t answer my question.”
“I did.”
“No, you didn’t.” Glaring, I took a deep breath. “Fine. Whatever. If that’s your idea of answering a question, I won’t bother asking any more.”
I stepped closer to the circle, knelt, and carefully set the paper towel of cookies on the floor. Keeping my body as far away as possible, I nudged a corner of the paper across the silver inlay, then snatched my hand back. This was the closest I’d ever come to the circle.
A soft scuff against the hardwood emanated from the darkness. The paper towel twitched, then slid into the black dome.
Icy blades of fear cut through me. Suddenly, the demon was no longer a voice—it was a physical being. Something alive and solid and real that could pull the cookies into its prison cell. My gaze rose from the floor where the treats had disappeared to the curved black wall.
A spark of red in the darkness.
Flames burst to life and shot upward in a hungry blaze. I flung myself back. As I landed on my butt, the brief flare lit a shape within the black—the dark outline of shoulders, the edge of a jaw, the plane of a cheekbone.
Burning crimson eyes caught the light and glowed.
The fire died as quickly as it had appeared, and the dome was once again filled with impenetrable darkness, the demon hidden within. Gray fluff fluttered out of the circle—ash. Flakes of ash. The demon had burned the paper towel.
I scooted across the floor, then pushed onto trembling legs. Without a word or a backward glance, I ran through the door and pushed it shut behind me, swearing never to return.
An hour later, as I lay in bed, trying to sleep, all I could see was the demon’s dim outline—and those eyes that had glowed like hot coals, like magma erupting from a volcano’s heart.


Author Bio:
Annette Marie is the author of Amazon best-selling YA urban fantasy series Steel & Stone, its prequel trilogy Spell Weaver, and romantic fantasy trilogy Red Winter. Her first love is fantasy, but fast-paced adventures and tantalizing forbidden romances are her guilty pleasures. She lives in the frozen winter wasteland of Alberta, Canada (okay, it's not quite that bad) with her husband and their furry minion of darkness—sorry, cat—Caesar. When not writing, she can be found elbow-deep in one art project or another while blissfully ignoring all adult responsibilities.


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17 September, 2019

Call Upon the Water by Stella Tillyard Book Review! @SusanIsaacsNY

CALL UPON THE WATER by Stella Tillyard

Spanning several decades in seventeenth-century Great Britain and America, this “impressive piece of work, rich in historical detail and human insight” (The Sunday Times) is an unforgettable love story exploring the power of nature versus man and man versus woman. 

I am an engineer and a measured man of the world. I prefer to weigh everything in the balance, to calculate and to plan. Yet my own heart is going faster than I can now count.

In 1649, Jan Brunt arrives in Great Britain from the Netherlands to work on draining and developing an expanse of marshy wetlands known as the Great Level. It is here in this wild country that he meets Eliza, a local woman whose love overturns his ordered vision. Determined to help her strive beyond her situation, Jan is heedless of her devotion to her home and way of life. When she uses the education Jan has given her to sabotage his work, Eliza is brutally punished, and Jan flees to the New World.

In the American colonies, profiteers on Manatus Eyland are hungry for viable land to develop, and Jan’s skills as an engineer are highly prized. His prosperous new life is rattled, however, on a spring morning when a boy delivers a note that prompts him to remember the Great Level, and confront all that was lost there. Eliza has made it to the New World and is once again using the education Jan gave her to bend the landscape—this time to find her own place of freedom.

A “story of passion, possession, and a painful education in love” (Sarah Dunant, author of In the Name of the Family), Call Upon the Water is an adventure, an unusual and intelligent love story, and a powerful comment on the relationship between humans and the environment. “Richly involving…rousing and heroic” (The Guardian), this unforgettable historical novel is perfect for fans of Hilary Mantel, Geraldine Brooks, and Philippa Gregory.

*Note: This book was published in the UK under the title The Great Level.

My Review
Call Upon the Water by Stella Tillyard is a historical novel that takes place in the Netherlands, Great Britain and the American colony of Virginia in the mid-1600s. Jan Brunt is an engineer talented in mapmaking and his skills are prized.

He is hired to drain and develop wetlands in the Great Level in Great Britain while doing so he meets Eliza, a woman who he immediately falls in love with. They spend a lot of time together and she learns how to read from him and how to read the maps. She betrays him and is punished and sent off to be an indentured servant in Virginia, a chapter or two devoted to this time in her life I found refreshing. Jan goes to America unbeknownst to him that she is there. He is hired to drain the swamp if you will in Dutch American colony of New Netherland, New York today. 

One day a boy delivers a message that Eliza wants to meet with him, she is a free woman by this time and wealthy. He mulls this over for a long time. Want to learn more, then you have to get the book.

What I liked about the book, I enjoyed learning about what Jan's trade was, the era, as I love historical fiction and just the geographical areas in the story. What I didn't like was that it was very wordy and not a lot of dialogue. To me, that can put a person to sleep very easily. Guess I have not read a lot of books written this way. Not to say that it was not informative, just that I got bored frequently. I persevered and did find that I did like the book. I give it 4 stars.
I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


About the Author
Stella Tillyard is a British novelist and historian. She was educated at Oxford and Harvard Universities and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Her bestselling book Aristocrats was made into a miniseries for BBC1/Masterpiece Theatre, and sold to over twenty countries. Winner of the Meilleur Livre Etranger, the Longman-History Today Prize, and the Fawcett Prize, Tillyard has taught at Harvard University, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters at Queen Mary, London. She is currently a Visiting Professor in the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck, University of London. Her latest novel is Call Upon the Water (published in the UK under the title The Great Level).

The Last Chapter by Michelle Alstead Book Tour! Read the Excerpt!


Emma Barton is drowning. A single mother of a son with a genius-level IQ and Autism, she’s given up on love to focus on the child who needs her. Her writing aspirations—the only dream she hasn't abandoned—withers as her latest novel bombs, and she’s dropped by her publisher. Ethan Wise, an A-list actor, wants an Oscar, but he’d settle for being something other than a romantic comedy lead or a beefcake superhero. Discovering Emma’s novel happened by chance, but it could also be his opportunity to finally become a serious actor. When Ethan seeks Emma out to buy the movie rights to her novel, they fall so passionately in love their lives are turned upside down. Emma wants to be with Ethan, but there’s her son to consider and the secrets she’s kept to protect him. She’ll do anything to keep her little boy’s world safe and happy. She’d even give up the love of her life. 

  Buy on Amazon or read for FREE in Kindle Unlimited 

Read an Excerpt!

 “Emmy!”
Her boss’s high-pitched voice rang out across the office, bringing everything and everyone to a halt.
Emma stood up, peering over the cubicle wall. Should she answer? What if her new boss wasn’t calling to her, and she ended up looking like a moron on her fifth day? Emma waved her hand to catch the attention of Veronica, the young administrative assistant staring at her phone in the cubicle across from hers.
“Hey,” Emma hissed.
Veronica pointed to her earbuds and smirked.
Emma gritted her teeth and pointed in the direction of the boss lady’s office.
Veronica pulled one earbud out. “What do you want?”
“She called for Emmy. Do you think she means me?”
“I don’t know. Is your name Emmy?”
“No, it’s Emma, but that’s close—”
Veronica rolled her eyes. “If your name isn’t Emmy, then she didn’t mean you.”
“But it’s just so close to my name, and I’m new. She could easily think my name is Emmy and not Emma. Surely someone has called you Veronique at least once.”
“Nope.” The young woman yawned. “I need to get back to work.”
“What work? You were on your phone. You’re always on your phone.”
“I’m processing in my own way. I don’t judge you for your hair choices, so don’t judge me for how I process.”
Welcome to your mid-thirties, Emma, where suddenly you’re old and lame.
Her hands went to her hair. The loose bun was a mistake. Clearly, Cosmo was wrong, and updos weren’t making a comeback. Even after scrolling through Instagram while hiding in the bathroom from JD for an hour, Emma wasn’t sure what was trendy. There were too many looks and styles to sift through. She’d gone with her only decent pair of jeans, a crisp white blouse, and a navy blazer. Granted, she’d had the blazer since the early aughts, but the look was still classy.
Perhaps the outfit was as big a mistake as taking the job. From the minute she’d walked into the office filled with people almost all still in their twenties, Emma had been floundering in the shallow end.
She frowned, her lower lip trembling. Without the job, there would be no healthcare for her son. They’d be back to where they were a year earlier—struggling to survive.
Veronica’s tone was sharp. “Are you about to cry?”
She bit her lower lip. “No.”
“You look like you’re about to, and this is a place of business.” Her co-worker gestured to the surrounding office. “We’re one of the best marketing firms in the mountain west region. How would it look if the oldest person in the office was crying on her first day?”
“It’s my fifth day. Not my first.”
“What’s the difference? Either way, you’re bombing worse than Ben Affleck as Batman.”
Emma’s eyes widened as she mumbled, “I liked his Batman.”
“You would.” Veronica flipped her hair. “My point is: do not bring your personal drama into the workplace. I just got dumped by my friend with benefits and you don’t see me crying at my desk, because I’m a professional.” Veronica turned away, suddenly engrossed with whatever was on her computer screen.
Emma sank down into her chair. “Right, no one wants to hear about my problems.” She studied her blank computer screen and blinked away tears.
Don’t take it personally. She doesn’t know you or what you’ve had to give up. Deep breaths. It will all be okay.
“But it’s never okay,” she muttered. “Just write the piece. Don’t think about the rest.” Slowly, Emma’s fingers tapped out words across the empty screen.
Writing fitness and nutrition articles for a startup marketing firm wasn’t the dream. But there were medical bills and a tiny house with a mortgage to pay. It’s still writing, she reasoned. You’ve got this. Just write about the vitamins.


Strangers She Knows by Christina Dodd Book Blast!

Strangers She Knows by Christina Dodd

Strangers She Knows

by Christina Dodd

September 17, 2019

on Tour September 17 - October 1, 2019

Synopsis:



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


I have three deadly problems:
  1. I’ve seriously offended a maniacal killer.
  2. I just had a bullet removed from my brain.
  3. My new daughter is growing up too fast—and she's in the line of fire.


Living on an obscure, technology-free island off California means safety from the murderer who hunts Kellen Adams and her new family…or does it? Family time becomes terror time, until Kellen finds herself alone and facing an all-too-familiar psychopath. Only one can survive, and Kellen knows who must win…and who must die.

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

Series STARRED reviews from Booklist

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

Read an excerpt:

Yearning Sands Resort Washington’s Pacific Coast This Spring
Rae Di Luca stacked up her Level Three lesson books, opened the piano bench and put them away. She got out the Adult Course Level 1A book, opened it to “Silver Bells,” and put it on the music rack. “Mom, you have to practice.”
Kellen didn’t look up from her book. “I know.”
“When?”
“When what?”
“When are you going to do it?”
“I’m at the good part. Let me finish this chapter.”
“No, you have to practice now. You know it helps with your finger dexterity.”
When had their roles reversed, Kellen wondered? When had ten-year-old Rae become the sensible adult and Kellen become the balky child?
Oh yeah. When she had the brain surgery, her right hand refused to regain its former abilities, and the physical therapist suggested learning the piano. But there was a reason Kellen hadn’t learned to play the piano earlier in her life. She loved music—and she had no musical talent. That, added to the terrible atrophy that afflicted her fingers, made her lessons and practices an unsurpassed agony…for everyone.
She looked up, saw Rae standing, poised between coaxing and impatience, and the Rolodex in Kellen’s punctured, operated-on and much-abused brain clicked in:
RAE DI LUCA:
FEMALE, 10YO, 5‘0", 95LBS. KELLEN’S DAUGHTER. HER MIRACLE. IN TRANSITION: GIRL TO WOMAN, BLOND HAIR TO BROWN, BROWN EYES LIGHTENING TO HAZEL. LONG LEGS; GAWKY. SKIN A COMBINATION OF HER ITALIAN HERITAGE FROM HER FATHER AND THE NATIVE AMERICAN BLOOD FROM KELLEN; FIRST PIMPLE ON HER CHIN. NEVER TEMPERAMENTAL. KIND, STRONG, INDEPENDENT.
Kellen loved this kid. The feeling was more than human. It was feral, too, and Kellen would do anything to protect Rae from threat—and had. “I know. I’m coming. It’s so much more fun to listen to you play than practice myself. You’re good and I’m…awful.”
“I’m not good. I’m just better than you.” Rae came over and wrapped her arms around Kellen’s neck, hugged and laughed. “But Luna is better than you.”
“Don’t talk to me about that dog. She howls every time I sit down at the piano. Sometimes she doesn’t even wait until I start playing. The traitor.” Kellen glared at the dog, and once again her brain—which had developed this ability after that shot to the head—sorted through the files of identity cards to read:
LUNA:
FEMALE, FULL-SIZED POODLE/AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOG/AT LEAST ONE OTHER BREED, 50LBS, RED COAT, BROWN EYES, STRONGLY MUSCLED. RESCUED BY RAE AND MAX WHILE KELLEN RECOVERED FROM SURGERY. FAMILY MEMBER. RAE’S FRIEND, COMPANION, PROTECTOR. MUSIC LOVER.
Luna watched Kellen in return, head resting on her paws, waiting for her chance to sing a solo protest to Kellen’s inept rendition of “Silver Bells.”
“Everybody’s a critic.” Rae set the timer. “Come on. Ten minutes of scales, then you only have to practice for thirty minutes.”
“Why do I have to practice ‘Silver Bells’? Christmas isn’t for seven months.”
“So you’ll have mastered it by the time the season rolls around.”
“I used to like that song.”
“We all used to like that song.” Rae took Kellen’s left hand and tugged. “Mom, come on. You know you feel better afterward.”
Kellen allowed herself to be brought to her feet. “I’m going to do something wild and crazy. I’m going to start learning ‘When the Saints Go Marching In.’ It’s the next song in the book, and I like it.”
“You can learn anything you want after you practice your scales and work on ‘Silver Bells’ for fifteen minutes.”
No one wanted to be inside today, certainly not Rae Di Luca, certainly not Kellen Adams Di Luca, certainly not upstairs in their private quarters in the Yearning Sands Resort. Not when spring had come to the Washington state Pacific Coast. April and May’s drenching rains turned the world a soggy brown. Then, on the first of June, one day of blazing sunshine created green that spread across the coastal plain.
Kellen made her way through the ten minutes of scales—the dog remained quiescent for those—then began plunking out “Silver Bells.” 
As she struggled with the same passage, her right hand fingers responding only sporadically, Luna started with a slight whine that grew in intensity. At the first high howl, Kellen turned to the dog. 
“Look, this isn’t easy for me, either.”
Luna sat, head cocked, one ear up, one ear down, brown eyes pleading with her.
“I would love to stop,” Kellen told her and turned back to the piano. “How about a different tune? Let’s try ‘When the Saints Go Marching In.’”
She played the first few notes and out of the corner of her eye, she saw the dog subside. Then, as she worked on a tricky passage, made the same mistake, time after time, the dog sat up again, lifted her nose and howled in mourning for the slaughter of the song.
Rae giggled, and when her mother glowered, the child controlled herself. “Come on, Luna, I’ll take you outside.”
The dog didn’t budge.
“She thinks she’s helping you,” Rae explained. “Come on, Luna. Come on!” She coaxed her out the door, turned back to Kellen and said sternly, “Twenty more minutes!”
“Yeah, yeah.” Kellen struggled on, trying to make her recalcitrant fingers do her bidding. Even when she finally got the notes right, it wasn’t a piano tune so much as jack-in-the-box music. When at last the timer went off, she slumped over the keyboard and stared at the fingers of her right hand.
They were trying to atrophy, to curl in and refuse to do her bidding ever again. But the physical therapists assured her she could combat this. She had to create new nerve ways, train another part of her brain to handle the work, and since two hands were better than one and her right hand was her dominant hand, the battle was worth fighting. But every day, the forty minutes at the keyboard left her drained and discouraged. 
Behind her, Max said, “Turn around and let me rub your hands.”
She noticed he did not say, That was good. Or even, That was better.
Max didn’t tell lies.
Kellen sighed and swiveled on the piano bench. Again that Rolodex in her brain clicked in:
MAX DI LUCA:
MALE, 38YO, 6'5", 220LBS, ITALIAN-AMERICAN, FORMER FOOTBALL PLAYER. HANDSOME, TANNED, CURLY BLACK HAIR, BROWN EYES SURROUNDED BY LONG BLACK LASHES. ONCE HIGH UP IN THE DI LUCA FAMILY CORPORATION, STEPPED DOWN TO RAISE HIS DAUGHTER, NOW DIRECTOR OF THE FAMILY’S YEARNING SANDS RESORT ON THE WASHINGTON COAST. KIND, GENEROUS, RESPONSIBLE, LOVING. A STICKLER FOR DUTY. FAR TOO MUCH WILLPOWER, WHICH WAS IRRITATING TO KELLEN IN MATTERS RELATING TO THEIR MARITAL STATE.
He took her right hand gently in both of his and, starting at the wrist, he massaged her palm, her thumb, her fingers. He used a lavender-scented oil, and stretched and worked the muscles and bones while she moaned with pleasure.
He listened with a slight smile, and when she looked into his face, she realized his lips looked fuller, he had a dark flush over his cheekbones and his nostrils flared as he breathed. She looked down at his jeans, leaned close and whispered, “Max, I’m done with practice. Why don’t we wander up to our bedroom and I’ll rub your…hand, too.”
He met her eyes. He stopped his massage. Except for the rise and fall of his chest, he was frozen in that pose of incipient passion.
Then he sat back and sighed. “Doctor says no.”
“Doctor said be careful.” 
“Woman, if I could be careful, I would. As it is, nothing is best.”
“I am torn between being flattered and frustrated.” She thought about it. “Mostly frustrated.”
“I’m just fine.” Max didn’t usually resort to sarcasm, so that told her a lot. Married almost two years and no sex. He was a good man, but he was coming to the end of his patience.
“If we’re refraining because we’re worried I’m going to pop a blood vessel while in the throes of passion, I’d like to point out there are solutions that you might enjoy.”
“That isn’t fair to you.”
“You’re massaging my hand. That’s pretty wonderful.”
“Not the same.” Again he took her tired hand and went to work.
Bitterly she said, “Kellen’s Brain. It’s like a bad sci-fi fantasy.”
He laughed. “It’s improving all the time.” When he had made her hand relax and Kellen relax with it, he said, “I’ve been thinking—the Di Luca family owns Isla Paraíso off the coast of Northern California. The family bought the island seventy years ago with the idea of placing a resort on the island, but now that doesn’t seem likely. Someone needs to go there, look things over, make decisions about its fate.”
Kellen nodded. “You want to go there? See what you think?”
“Actually, I thought we should all go there.”
He was still working her hand, but with a little too much forcefulness and concentration.
“Ouch,” she said softly.
He pulled away, horrified. “Did I hurt you?”
“Not at all. Except that you’re treating me like a child.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re not telling me what’s really going on. Why do you want to go to this island?”
“I told you—”
“I don’t doubt that what you told me is the truth. But it’s not all the truth. Max, what’s wrong?”
Max sighed, an understatement of a sigh, as if he dreaded what he was about to say. “You’re not going to like it.”
“I gathered that.”
“Mitch Nyugen.”
“What about him? He’s dead.” She remembered she couldn’t always trust Kellen’s Brain. “Isn’t he?”
“Yes. He was buried in the Cape Charade cemetery.”
“Was buried?” Unease stirred in her belly.
“This week, his widow arrived from Wyoming.”
“He wasn’t married.” That brain thing. “Was he?”
“No.” Max was as sure as Kellen was not. “Yet the woman who claimed to be his widow had all the necessary paperwork to have his body exhumed.”
“Oh, no.”
“She had the coffin placed in the chapel. Last night, the undertaker, Arthur Earthman, found her there, with the coffin open. She murdered him, and almost killed his wife, Cynthia. The widow escaped ahead of the sheriff, and she left her calling card.”
Kellen knew. She knew what Max was going to say. “She cut off Mitch’s hands.”
“And took them.” Max looked up at her, his brown eyes wretched with fear. “Mara Philippi is back. And she’s here.”
***
Excerpt from Strangers She Knows by Christina Dodd. Copyright 2019 by Christina Dodd. Reproduced with permission from HQN Books. All rights reserved.


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

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



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A Curio Killing (A Keepsake Cove Mystery) by Mary Ellen Hughes Blog Tour and Giveaway!


A Curio Killing (A Keepsake Cove Mystery) by Mary Ellen Hughes

 About A Curio Killing
Cozy Mystery 3rd in Series Setting - Maryland 
Midnight Ink (September 8, 2019)
Paperback: 264 pages
ISBN-10: 0738752266
ISBN-13: 978-0738752266
Digital ASIN: B07KMX5QY4
Callie finds treble in Keepsake Cove when her ex-boyfriend is framed for murder . . .
Callie Reed is looking forward to her first Keepsake Cove spring festival. But her excitement dims considerably when she learns that her ex-boyfriend, Hank, will be performing with one of the hired country-western bands. Callie vows to keep her distance, but that changes when the band's manager, Bobby Linville, is found dead, killed with the music box Hank bought at Callie's shop.
Hank is soon singing a sad tune in a detention center with Callie his only lifeline. Though thoroughly aware of his many faults, she knows violence and murder aren't in his blood. But that means one of her fellow Keepsake Cove residents must be hiding a dark secret—something Callie desperately needs to uncover.

About Mary Ellen Hughes

Mary Ellen Hughes is the bestselling author of the Pickled and Preserved Mysteries, the Craft Corner Mysteries, and the Maggie Olenski Mysteries, along with several short stories. The Keepsake Cove series begins with A Fatal Collection and continues with A VINTAGE DEATH and A CURIO KILLING.

Author Links
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MaryEllenHughesauthor 
  Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/mehughes13/ 
  Twitter – https://twitter.com/mehughesauthor 
  GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/402922.Mary_Ellen_Hughes

Purchase Links –
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