Saturday, April 30, 2016

Marry Screw Kill by Liv Morris

$2.99 or FREE for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers


There are two men in my life. I'm marrying one, want to screw the brains out of another, and by the time this story is over you may want to kill someone. The choices are still pending...

Harlow's a beautiful young woman alone in the world after a tragic event in her life. When she finds comfort and safety in the arms of an older man, his love for her turns into a wicked obsession.

Unexpectedly a younger man walks into her life and opens her eyes to the darkness surrounding her. A forbidden attraction builds between them, until decisions have to be made. Does Harlow stay with the older man and marry him? Or does the younger man help her flee?

(MSK is a no cheating psychological thriller that evolves into a powerful love story.)

Friday, April 15, 2016

A Killer Retreat (A Downward Dog Mystery) by Tracy Weber



When Kate Davidson gets an offer to teach yoga classes at the Elysian Springs resort, she jumps at the opportunity—even if it means enduring the wedding ceremony of the center’s two caretakers. But avoiding the M-word turns out to be the least of Kate’s problems when a wedding guest is found floating face-down in the resort’s hot tub, shortly after a loud, public fight with Kate.

The police pick Kate as their number-one suspect, so she teams up with her boyfriend Michael, best friend Rene, and German shepherd sidekick Bella to find the real killer. They must solve the crime before the police arrest Kate, or her next gig may last a lifetime—behind bars.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Trapped In Shadow by Caryn Moya Block



Stacey Johnson is all about secrets. She’s an operative for the government and kills people on command. Love has no place in her life. Even when she dreams about Hugh Thunder Hoof, the one man who makes her wish for a different lifestyle. With him she can believe that happy endings are possible.

Hugh Thunder Hoof, Shadow Walker, left the service after being injured. Now he walks with a slight limp. The one thing he still craves from that crazy lifestyle is his last partner, Stacey Johnson. When she shows up in his life five years later, he thinks he’ll finally get his wish. But Stacey isn’t going to make it easy on him and once again when the mission is finished she disappears. Only this time, he’s going after her.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Let Me Be The One by Christa Maurice - $0.99!



A little matchmaking mischief…

She’s the girl of his dreams, but she belongs to another man. Still, that doesn’t stop rock star Brian Ellis from standing by Suzi’s side when she needs him most. Or offering her a strong shoulder to lean on when her relationship crashes and burns. But will Brian get burned by the beautiful writer when Suzi goes back to the man she believes she loves?

Suzi has always had a crush on Brian, which doesn’t mean she’s ready to risk everything for the sake of a fling. Yet the more time she spends with him, helping the sexy single dad with his kids, she knows there’s more between them than simmering sensual tension. An invitation to join him in the sweet mountain town of Potterville, West Virginia, may be too tempting to resist. But how can Suzi give her heart when she’s already promised herself to another?

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Echoes of Mercy by Kim Boykin Excerpt

$2.99 - Regularly $4.99


How can you make up for something that you did as a kid that was both so stupid and so terrible, forty years later it still follows you like a pack of lost dogs? For Billie Warren, it means piling up more and more responsibilities, doing good for the community as the police chief of her Lowcountry hometown. Trying to be the best mother of a teen mom, and daughter to her mom with Alzheimer’s, that she can be.

But Billie’s fragile life is thrown into turmoil when the target of her biggest regret, Crazy Sadie, shows up claiming to have witnessed the only murder in the town's history. Sadie Byrd accuses the nearly dead and sainted Judge Norris of savagely beating his own little girl to death forty years ago. Could Miss Sadie be right? As Billie uncovers the terrible truth of stolen babies and bone-chilling corruption, she will have to risk everything when powerful people are prepared to do anything to keep buried.


Forty years of atonement ought to count for something. After all, Billie Warren was just nine years old when she did what she did. She’d hoped the memory of that one horrible act would be diluted by time, by the birth of her daughter, and the death of her father. But the recollection was always there, following her around like a pack of lost dogs.

Lately, the dogs hadn’t stirred, and, if they did, Billie didn’t have time to notice them. At forty-nine, she considered herself too young to have a grandson and too old to deal with his teenage mother, both of whom lived with her. She was the police chief of Stanton, which really meant she was the glorified mom of a tiny Lowcountry town near Charleston that was barely a speck on a map. Throw in her mother’s Alzheimer’s, and Billie was in the middle of a shit storm that had no end in sight.

The admission yanked hard at the left side of her chest, and the landscape was nearly black by the time she jerked the squad car onto the shoulder that overlooked the marsh. She threw the car in park , her finger stabbing wildly at the button until the window was all the way down. She gulped at the thick salty air and pressed her palm into the tight spot on her chest, her thumb digging into the muscle like she could push clean through to her heart.

God, she used to love riding patrol because it gave her time to think. Now she hated it for the same reason. But riding patrol also gave her moments like this, with the full moon suspended just above the creek like a giant dollop of butter. The silvery glow illuminated the marsh grass and bathed the pluff mud in a dreamy light that made the oyster shells laced across the surface glow like rhinestones.

Billie drew in a long steady breath and let the sweet musty smell of the marsh take her mind away the way a dog-eared black-and-white photo from a dresser drawer could, the way an old beach tune always did. It took a while, but the tightness in her chest began to ease. Her breathing was near normal until the police radio sent all that flying with a garbled message. Billie fiddled with the knobs until she caught the tail end of the dispatcher’s message. “Come again?”

“911 call, Chief,” Delores snapped. “Melvin Gifford’s wife has winged him good. County dispatcher sent the sheriff for back up. Ambulance is on its way.”

“Shit,” Billie hissed. “Copy that,” Delores said.

Billie flipped the light on as she pulled onto the highway and headed back toward town. Delores had said winged, hadn’t she? Billie couldn’t remember, so she turned on the siren and picked up speed. She hung a left on Cherry Vale Lane and proceeded down the street lined with neat white-washed clapboard houses until she reached the tiny red brick home that was the crime scene. The ambulance and the county’s boys were already there. Jimmy Malden, old Chief Malden’s nephew, was holding court on the front porch with two other cops who were barely wet behind the ears.

The screen door flew open and two hefty medics navigated the gurney onto the porch. Melvin Gifford was lying on his belly as they wheeled him toward the ambulance, his backside full of lead. He wasn’t dead, but as often as he had knocked his wife around, he ought to be. The front door was open and Billie could see Penny Gifford sitting on the edge of a tattered blue Lazy Boy with a lace doily where Melvin’s greasy head had lain for most of his sorry life.

The hairs on the back of Billie’s neck prickled as she got out of the car and walked toward the front porch. She ignored the smirk on Jimmy’s face over the fact that he’d beaten her to the scene of the crime. She recognized only one of the other cops. Donnie Shepherd was boy band cute and had always had a thing for Billie.

Jimmy had shared that little tidbit over more beers than Billie cared to count and then laughed his ass off over the very idea of Billie with a twenty-three-year-old. But Jimmy wasn’t laughing several beers later when he confessed that after his uncle disappeared, he’d wanted to be the police chief of Stanton more than anything. Jimmy Malden was a natural born smug bastard, so it had thrilled Billie’s soul that he’d actually cried when he confessed that a Malden belonged in her job.

“Hey, Billie.” Donnie was the only one of the three officers with his hat in his hands. “We all tried to talk to Mrs. Gifford. Sergeant Malden even acted like he was going to put the cuffs on her, but she says she’s not talking to anybody but you.”

“He’s exaggerating,” Jimmy said. “I’m just letting her simmer down.” Billie didn’t speak, just nodded to them and opened the screen door.

Before it closed, a bleary-eyed Penny was up and out of the Lazy Boy. “I know,” Billie said, and she did know. Billie wrapped her arms around the sobbing woman. She’d been called to the Gifford home too many times to count over the past twenty years, mostly by the neighbors who feared for Penny’s life. Penny was always glad when Billie responded to the call, but she was too afraid to press charges. Too afraid that some good old boy judge would turn Melvin loose, and he would kill her for putting him away.

Billie couldn’t blame Penny for not sending Melvin to jail. Judicial wisdom in domestic cases like Penny’s was legendary, and not just in little podunk towns in South Carolina. But if anything had kept Penny Gifford in her place all those years, it was the raw power that a man like Melvin Gifford wields that makes women like Penny believe there is no place they can go where they won’t be found. No wonder she shot him. “Oh, Billie.” Penny sputtered and held tight while Billie stroked her hair and the cop in her looked around the room. Blood was splattered on the wall behind the easy chair. Just off the living room of the tiny house, the kitchen was spotless. There were two plates and two jelly jar glasses in the dish drain, a pair of wire spectacles on top of a well-worn Bible on the dinette.

Best guess, Penny cleaned up the supper dishes, did her daily devotional before she got the same shot gun Melvin had shoved up under her chin a thousand times, and shot him as he was treading toward his sacred chair. “Oh, Billie—I just couldn’t—”

“Shhh. You’re alright now.”

“No.” Penny pulled away and looked at Billie like she was back to believing she was worthless, a know-nothing who couldn’t do anything right. “I was aiming at his head,” she sobbed as Billie pulled her close again. Jimmy took a long draw off his cigarette and threw it down on the concrete stoop. “Billie.” The smugness was gone, but he didn’t sound like he was going to throw his arms around them for a group hug.

Billie looked Jimmy Malden straight in the eyes to let him know he had better take good care of Penny Gifford if he knew what was good for him. Maybe he half-nodded his head as he snuffed out his cigarette with the heel of his boot; Billie wasn’t sure. But it tore at her gut when Penny took a deep breath and pulled away like she was ready to go anywhere, even to hell if it was better than the one she’d been living in for the past thirty-four years.

“They told you they have to take you to the sheriff’s office for processing?” Billie asked. Penny nodded at the floor. “I’m so sorry.”

“Chief Warren doesn’t have a jailhouse in Stanton, Miss Gifford, or she’d take you herself,” Donnie said.

“I know.” Penny wiped her eyes. “I don’t mean to be no trouble.”

Donnie gave Billie a sheepish look as he led Penny Gifford to the squad car. They didn’t cuff her, even though procedure said they should. Jimmy’s sidekicks were young, but Billie knew between the four officers, they’d seen enough women like Penny to know they were carting the wrong person off to jail. If things went the way they normally did during domestic calls, Melvin wouldn’t file charges; men like Melvin Gifford prefer to administer their own brand of justice.

“We didn’t cuff her,” Jimmy said, like that was some big consolation. “There aren’t any kids to take to social services.”

“No, they’re all grown and gone,” Billie said. “And you can bet wherever they are, they’re carrying on the proud family tradition of beating the shit out of their loved ones.”

Jimmy was quiet for once as Billie leaned in the driver’s side window of the squad car. Penny’s hands were folded in her lap. She was whispering the Twenty-third Psalm. Billie knew she didn’t have to remind Donnie how to treat Penny and appreciated the way he’d handled the situation. She started to tell him so until she noticed him staring down her shirt.

Billie rose up enough to stop the peep show. “Penny, whether you’re at home or—you’re going to be okay. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

Jimmy rapped on the top of the squad car, and Donnie obediently pulled out of the yard. “We got this one covered, Billie.” Even with all the drama, he was smiling over one of his young pups trying to sneak a peek. “He must like little tits.”

“Jesus, Jimmy, don’t you read? They’re ample breasts.”

“It’s no fun to give you shit, Billie Warren. Nothing gets to you.” Jimmy was half-flirting, but he was dead wrong. Things did get to Billie in a big way, especially lately. Seeing Penny Gifford carted away in a squad car was an undeniably hard pill to swallow. If she added up all the other shit in her life, the odds that she could muster enough objectivity and detachment to do her job were impossible.

She got back into her piece of crap Ford and radioed Delores. “Penny okay?”

“Yes,” Billie said, “but it’s a damn shame her daddy never taught her how to shoot a gun.”

“They arrest her?”

“She shot the man, Delores. Not much anybody can do to pretty that up.” “Penny ought to know better than to just wing the bastard. Tell her next time, make that bullet count.”

Billie’s lips tipped up. “Thinking I’ll let you pass that tip along to her.” “Glad to,” Delores snorted. “Half an hour ’til the day is done. You be careful out there.”

“Will do.”

The squad car meandered through the city streets and then seemed to have a mind of its own as it headed out past the city limits. This was Jimmy Malden’s territory, but Billie always came out this way after her shift was over. The Ford followed the highway toward Rainbow Row. Not the pristine Row fifty miles away in Charleston. The one just nine miles outside the Stanton City limits where funky old houses painted electric shades of eggplant and fuchsia, chameleon green and sunshine yellow dotted the Edisto riverbank.

The lights of the Row came into sight. She turned off the county highway and onto a dirt road that wound its way toward the homes of folks who had found a way to make a living out of their art. Tiny houses and workshops filled with creativity spilling over into front yards and into the back eased the knot in Billie’s stomach that had tightened hard when Donnie put Penny in the squad car. Although she still felt like somebody, maybe a small toddler, was standing on her chest.

The headlights flashed across the Devil Oak, the centerpiece of the Row and a counterpart to the famous Angel Oak on Johns Island, near Charleston. While neither of them had anything to do with the angel or the devil, both were southern live oaks as old as time, with branches sixty yards long. The Devil Oak was the most prized work of art on the riverbank and was said to be sculpted by God himself. But Billie was more interested in the other sculptor on the Row.

The thought of letting the car follow the slight hill into Cole Sullivan’s front yard was tempting, not to see if he had anything new displayed or because he was a great artist. Her favorite pieces weren’t the pricey burled wood or metal ones in the shop or on his front lawn. She loved the ones in the garden, just off his bedroom, people made out of old fence posts that looked real in the early morning shadows.

For six months, Billie had had the good sense to turn around be- fore she got within sight of Cole’s house. Shoot, with all that had been going on with Mama and Amber, the last thing Billie Warren needed was man troubles. But something inside begged her to take her foot off the brake. The road was slightly downhill. If she let it, the car would roll right into Cole’s front yard. He would meet her on the porch with a smile that said he was glad she was back. It would feel good to put her arms around him, to wake up with him and look out at those fence post people.

To be fair, Cole was no trouble. He was one of the best things that had ever happened to her, and yet she denied herself. Why was that? Why couldn’t she just save the world five days a week from three to eleven and then fall into his arms? Why does any woman do that—reject the very things she knows are best for her, whether it’s a man, a little extra sleep, copious amounts of chocolate? If she could answer that question Oprah would offer Billie her own show. If she could answer that question, she could be Oprah.

The key was a good excuse, and the one that worked best for Billie was that she didn’t have time for Cole. Granted, it wasn’t real sexy, but it sounded good and kept people like Delores and Amber off her back. The lack of time made so much sense to Delores, she’d taken it upon herself lately to check in on Mama for Billie because it was on her way home from work. Billie was grateful for Delores’s little gift, but not so she could slip between the sheets with Cole. It stung that Mama never called her by her name anymore and never recognized her face.

Before she could fall down that rabbit hole again, the clock on the dashboard blinked 11:00. She pulled the squad car back onto the highway and was headed toward home when her radio chirped.

“You ain’t gonna believe this. You close by?”

“I’m done, Delores.” Beyond done. “Unless there’s been another shooting, whatever it is will keep until tomorrow.”

“Honest to God, Billie, you better get to the station,” Delores hissed. “Now.”

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Heavy Artillery Husband by Debra Webb and Regan Black Excerpt



Husband and wife reunite in USA TODAY bestselling authors Debra Webb & Regan Black's sizzling Colby Agency: Family Secrets series! 

When someone tries to kill security expert Sophia Leone on a dark road, she's rescued by her husband—a US army general she thought died a year ago. Suddenly, Frank Leone is back, very much alive, and insisting that someone is trying to kill Sophia. Convicted of treason before his supposed death, Frank claims a shadow group is behind everything. Now Sophia must put her life in the hands of the handsome desperado she married for better or worse thirty years ago…the man she never stopped loving.

Chapter One

Chicago, Illinois
Monday, April 18, 6:45 p.m.
Sophia Leone sat back as the waiter delivered wide shallow bowls filled with the best pasta in the Windy City. From the first warm embrace upon her arrival, her friend Victoria Colby-Camp and her husband, Lucas Camp, had carefully kept the conversation on lighthearted topics.
It couldn’t stay that way. All three of them recognized there were serious matters to address. As the founder of the Colby Agency, Victoria never let her mind stray too far from business, especially not when she sensed a friend in trouble.
Was she in trouble? Sophia couldn’t decide. She was still processing everything that had happened over the past few days.
She resisted the urge to run her fingers over the fading goose egg on her scalp. Hidden by her hair just above her ear, it was the only remnant of the shocking fight in her kitchen. Though it had been a terrible ordeal, the real culprit was in custody and the people who mattered most were safe. Coming to Chicago gave her a chance to escape and some space to decide how she wanted to move forward.
While this visit to Chicago needed to shift into business, tonight was for pleasure. She wanted time to relax and catch up with her friends. She hadn’t realized just how pervasive that undercurrent of tension in her life had been during the months when her daughter, Frankie, refused to speak with her. Now it was marvelous to share how happily Frankie and her fiancé, Aidan, a former Colby Agency investigator, were coming along with their wedding plans. With countless questions and decisions remaining, the two most important details were finalized. They’d set a date for September and Aidan’s family would be in attendance.
I’m still not sure we’ve forgiven you for stealing Aidan away,” Lucas teased when the waiter walked away. “Victoria had to get creative when she recruited him.”
He was ready to try this side of the pond.” Victoria shot her husband an amused glance. “I might’ve implied that when the river turned green on St. Patrick’s Day, Chicago would feel like Ireland.”
Watching the banter between the pair made Sophia’s heart twist painfully. It reminded her so much of the wonderful days when she’d felt that camaraderie and partnership with her own husband. Brigadier General Franklin Leone had been dead almost a year now and she still couldn’t quite accept it.
She took a bite of her meal and worked hard to enjoy the fresh flavors of tender pasta and crisp vegetables. She would not let a wave of loneliness ruin the evening. Doing her best to keep up her end of the conversation, she shared more about her future son-in-law. “Aidan is mesmerized with the Seattle area. He hasn’t seen much beyond the sights downtown, but when they dropped me at the airport this morning, he and Frankie were planning a visit to Tillicum Village this weekend. It’s a traditional native tribal experience.”
I remember making that trip ages ago,” Lucas said. “They’ll have a fantastic time.”
You know, I think he might be considering it for the rehearsal dinner.” Sophia smiled with anticipation. “It would be quite memorable if it works out.”
Victoria’s eyes sparkled. “Their wedding will be memorable, regardless. I know we’re both looking forward to attending.”
And Frankie can’t wait to have you both join us,” Sophia replied. With so much to celebrate, it was silly of her to dwell on who wouldn’t be there. She took another bite of her pasta, washed it down with a sip of excellent wine and struggled again to forgive her husband for missing this incredible milestone in their daughter’s life.
Victoria leaned forward and lowered her voice. “If everything is perfect and wonderful, why are you only poking at your dinner?”
Sophia lifted her gaze and met the concern shining in her friend’s eyes. Victoria was as sharp as any of the private investigators she kept on her staff. While all three of them knew this dinner was meant to be comforting, neither she nor Victoria had ever been good at beating around the proverbial bush.
Sophia smiled. “I just can’t say thank you enough.” Without Victoria, she and her daughter might never have been reconciled.
Victoria set her fork aside and reached for her glass of wine. “You’ve said thank you more than enough already—none of which was necessary. I’m happy for you and Frankie, even if it cost me a top investigator.”
Why had Sophia come all this way if she wasn’t going to be honest about her other concerns? This wasn’t something to discuss over a phone or a video chat later. She wanted to see their immediate reactions when she asked her questions. Sophia tried to muster some courage. Shy and uncertain weren’t typical for her. She was accustomed to boldly heading exactly where she needed to go in a conversation or in business.
Aidan is remarkable,” Sophia said with a tight smile. “You should see them together.” Here she went again, dancing around the more pertinent issue. Get to the point!
We’ll see them at the wedding.” Victoria’s smile didn’t quite ease the curiosity in her eyes. “But I’m sure that’s not why you’ve come all this way, Sophia.”
Should I excuse myself?” Lucas asked.
Of course not,” Sophia replied immediately. Whatever she told Victoria would find its way to Lucas anyway. She didn’t begrudge them that. It had been the same in her own marriage. Until those last two years anyway when his overseas operations put more than geography obstacles between her and her husband.
Why couldn’t she just get the words out? It wasn’t as if Victoria wouldn’t understand her predicament. By now her friend had probably guessed why she’d made the trip. “You know I still have questions about Frank.”
Both Lucas and Victoria nodded, though neither offered any comment.
Her husband had been found guilty of treason during his last deployment. Before he could be transferred to prison, he’d killed himself, leaving Frankie and Sophia to deal with the fallout. When she closed her eyes at night, the memory of watching that closed-circuit monitor fill with the image of his pale, lifeless face haunted her. Sophia suspected he had carried terrible secrets to his grave. Secrets that might not even have answers.
Though Frankie believed her father was innocent of the treason charge and was certain he’d been murdered, there had never been a scrap of evidence to support her theory. It was only one facet of the complex situation that had wedged them apart.
While Sophia had accepted she’d always be curious about her husband’s last days, it was her internal battle that had brought her to Chicago. During her career as a military analyst, she’d taken information and made concise assessments. Now she wondered if her ability to read people and situations had failed her.
Not just Frank.” Sophia shook her head. “It’s Paul, too.” In the wake of Frank’s suicide, she’d needed to act quickly to protect her future and Frankie’s, as well. Paul Sterling, an old friend, had helped her launch Leo Solutions, the security company she and her husband had envisioned to keep them busy after his retirement. Mere days ago she’d found out Paul had betrayed her in favor of his own interests.
How had she allowed two men to fool her so completely?
Every way I look at what’s happened,” Sophia went on, “the common denominator is my judgment or lack thereof.” She picked up her fork, stabbing a stem of roasted asparagus and dragging it through the light cream sauce. “Forget I said anything.” She glanced from Victoria to Lucas. “I don’t really know what I need, or even what I want to do next. Please, let’s talk about something else.”
All right,” Victoria said. “Have you found your dress for the wedding?”
I have something in mind.” Sophia felt her smile bloom. It happened whenever she toyed with ideas for the upcoming wedding. While the final choices would be up to Frankie and Aidan, she loved window-shopping and perusing magazines and online sites for creative ideas to present to the bride and groom. “It’s all happened so quickly, I’ve only been shopping online so far. Frankie hasn’t had any time to decide on colors or venues, though she made me promise not to wear something that fades into the decor. I thought I might shop a bit while I’m here.”
We should go together,” Victoria said with an eager smile. “The mother of the bride should dazzle, if not quite as much as the bride herself. Has Frankie given any thought to her dress?”
Not particularly. You know she wasn’t the type of little girl who played wedding day dress up like so many of her friends.” Sophia curled her fingers around the hemmed edge of the napkin in her lap, assaulted by memories of happier times. “I don’t want to jinx it, but I’m hoping she’ll choose to have my wedding gown altered and restyled to make it hers.”
Oh, that would be beautiful.” Victoria blinked rapidly. “You’re all right with the idea?”
I suggested it.” Sophia forgot to take the bite of pasta she’d gathered onto her fork. “She loves the traditional, understated lines of my wedding dress and it’s a way for her to include her father.” Sophia felt bittersweet tears at the back of her throat. She would not cry another tear for Frank or his memory. “She wants to honor the start of our family as she starts her own.”
Sounds as if your daughter’s a thoughtful and compassionate young woman,” Lucas said.
Sophia could have hugged him. It was the perfect assessment and a lovely way to put it. “Thank you. I think so, too.”
Her gaze dropped to her plate as her mind drifted back to that idyllic time when the future was a bright, hope-filled horizon. The Leone family had faced the world together as a team. She’d weathered the highs and lows with her husband during his military career. Just when they were on the cusp of the next stage—ready to enjoy their empty nest and launch a new venture—life had fallen to pieces. Countless times over the past year, she’d fought off the urge to scream and wave her fist at that deceptive horizon. Life is not always fair, Sophia.
Frankie still believes he was innocent, doesn’t she?” Lucas asked.
Sophia nodded, her heart heavy. “Her faith in him is relentless and even stronger now since Paul revealed his true colors.”
She’s Frank’s daughter through and through,” Victoria observed. “I saw it the moment she walked into my office. She has his stride, his chin and all of his tenacity.”
Among other things,” Sophia admitted. There were moments, such as this one, when the sadness at the scope of her loss flattened her. She tossed her napkin over the remainder of her dinner and swallowed back another wave of unanswerable questions. Her fingers locked in her lap and she squeezed until her knuckles protested.
Victoria leaned forward, her voice low. “Keeping your worries bottled up isn’t helping you move forward.”
If you’d rather discuss what’s troubling you elsewhere, we can wrap this up,” Lucas offered.
That’s kind of you both, but not necessary. I’m overthinking things.” Sophia tried to believe that explanation as she unclenched her hands, automatically rubbing the place where her wedding rings had been. She’d taken them off the day after the funeral, when any reminder of her ties to her disgraced husband would impede the launch of Leo Solutions. As a family, they’d been so close. As a couple, they’d focused their plans on giving Frankie a solid foundation. How had it suddenly crumbled?
Frankie wasn’t the only one to dig into Frank’s case. I’ve been discreet,” Sophia confessed. “I haven’t found anything helpful or conclusive yet. It would be nice to confirm my suspicions about his guilt or innocence. Frankie views him with a daughter’s hero worship. I won’t take that away from her.”
Of course not,” Victoria agreed.
After the things Paul said and did last week, it made me wonder about Frank all over again.” Sophia recognized that Victoria knew more than her fair share about pain and betrayal. She understood how betrayal often led a person to ignore some details and put more weight on other points, which blurred the facts into something closer to fiction. “Maybe Frankie’s right and we should try harder to clear her dad’s name.”
Say the word and I’ll have one of our investigators start digging into it.”
Sophia appreciated Victoria’s offer. It came as no surprise, and professional assistance was one more reason to be here in person. She should say yes and let Victoria handle it while she went back to help Frankie with wedding plans. Would the answers change anything? Her husband was dead, a convicted traitor—it wasn’t a simple matter at all. The problem was still too sensitive, too fresh even a year after the verdict.
Now that the offer was on the table, she wasn’t sure an investigation was the right way to go. “Maybe we should investigate.” As the words left her mouth, everything felt all wrong. “Or maybe not.” Exasperated with herself, she tried to laugh. “What do I know?”
Her throat tight with frustration, she raised her glass and finished off her wine. Her hotel was just down the street and she didn’t have to worry about driving. The bold flavors of the wine melted on her tongue but didn’t give her any insight or steady her nerves. Didn’t she want the answers? Wouldn’t that help her sleep at night?
Assuming Victoria’s investigators could find the truth, knowing the facts wouldn’t actually change anything. Frankie would still be short one outstanding father. As Sophia had reviewed Frank’s last few years, even amid all the chaos and inevitable suspicion, she’d never doubted his love or devotion to their daughter.
Why don’t we launch the investigation? You can call it off at any time,” Lucas said.
No, it was better not to start at all. “Perhaps,” Sophia replied at last, “his secrets, good or bad, are better left buried.”
Even if he was murdered?”
I know what Frankie believes and I can’t blame her. Suicide doesn’t fit the Frank Leone we knew and loved.” Sophia carried the burden of that heartache in the locked muscles across her shoulders. “I didn’t tell her or anyone else how he changed, how he pulled away from me at the end. I’m not sure she ever needs to know about those final months.”
Though they hadn’t been aware back then that it would be the end. Sophia had thought there would be time for him to come around and be himself once more. She’d talked about it with a therapist, focused on shoring up her weaknesses, never expecting Frank to break.
You have excellent instincts, Sophia. What do you know?” Victoria prompted.
Certainly my husband had enemies capable of staging a suicide.” Though she’d searched, none of his obvious adversaries had been in the area at the time of his death. “Even if by some miracle of detective work we could pinpoint a culprit now, bringing that person to justice would likely be impossible.”
That’s a fair point.” Lucas nodded sagely. “And it would create a distraction and turmoil when you and Frankie should be focused on happier events.”
Yes,” Sophia agreed. “That’s exactly the issue. I don’t want to do anything that would cast a cloud over her wedding day. She and I might have unanswered, even unanswerable questions, but we’re finally at a point where we both feel as though we have strong family ties again.” She leaned back as the waiter removed dishes and poured more wine. When he was gone she admitted, “Part of my hesitation is that I don’t want to be proven right, either.”
Lucas’s brow furrowed. “What do you mean?”
If the verdict was correct, if Frank did commit treason, I don’t want to confirm that and destroy Frankie’s fond memories. Whatever happened in his final assignment, he did everything right as a dad.”
We understand completely,” Victoria said. “If you change your mind at any time, the offer is there for you.”
Thank you for listening and letting me ramble on about it.”
If you want my professional assessment, I’ll say your instincts haven’t been compromised in the slightest,” Victoria declared in her trademark steely tone. “Paul took advantage while you were distracted by grief, that’s all. Whatever Frank didn’t tell you about his career or his personal problems, he loved you and Frankie above all else. He must have been protecting you.”
He loved Frankie.” During those last two years, Sophia had lost her faith that her husband loved her with equal devotion. He’d grown distant and secretive. She’d tried and failed to chalk it up to his protective nature.
Victoria consulted her watch. “One more minute for self-pity and then I’m ordering an outrageous dessert for all of us to share.”
Lucas pretended to protest, shifting his chair close enough to drape an arm across the back of Victoria’s.
They looked utterly content as a couple, as a team. Sophia had had that once, for nearly the entirety of her thirty-year marriage. However, that period of her life had ended, and she needed to focus on the good times, to let the uncertainty go.
I don’t need even one more minute.” Sophia reached into her purse for her cell phone. “Let me show you some pictures of far more important things.”
She brought up a slide show and together the three of them admired the options Frankie would eventually sort out, from bouquets and centerpieces to tuxedo tails and cake flavors. “We’ve already decided to surprise Aidan with an old family recipe for the groom’s cake.”
This will be a dream day for all of you,” Victoria said with a wistful smile. “You must be so excited.”
We’re going to have so much fun with the planning. Both of them are huge assets to Leo Solutions. I have so much to look forward to.” Catching herself gushing, she paused for a breath. “I thought I’d lost that relationship with her forever. You returned it to me, Victoria. You and Aidan.” There weren’t enough thank-yous to adequately express her joy that her daughter was healthy, happy and thriving again. It truly was time to stop dwelling on the past and let go of the questions that would never have answers.
Sophia insisted on paying for dinner, managing to win a lighthearted argument with Lucas over the check. As they parted ways at the restaurant door, a shopping date scheduled for tomorrow, she chose to walk rather than accept Victoria’s offer for a ride to the hotel. The crisp spring breeze drifting off the lake caught at her hair, boosting her mood as she headed down the street.
Moments after Victoria’s car pulled away, she regretted her decision. Without the distraction of conversation, she felt eyes on her immediately. A chill raised the hair at the back of her neck and she called on her years of self-discipline not to show any recognition to her observer. She knew she would be safe enough as long as she was surrounded by other pedestrians.
Though she hadn’t made a secret of her travel plans to Chicago, she couldn’t imagine who would bother watching her. Mind over matter, she thought as she put one foot in front of the other, shoulders back, head high, refusing to let her discomfort show.
The tactic had served her well as a general’s wife, an analyst and a mother. Opponents large and small had cowered in the face of her poise and determination. Let whoever was out there watch. Let them see Sophia Leone hadn’t changed a bit as a widow or under the pressure of the events that followed.
Poised or not, she felt a wave of relief wash over her when she entered the hotel lobby, interrupting that intense, uncomfortable scrutiny. She crossed to the front desk with a smile on her face. She might as well extend her reservation for an additional night. One day of shopping with Victoria might not be enough.
Ah, Ms. Leone, of course. And you have a message.”
I do?” Sophia was surprised. Frankie would have called her cell.
The man behind the desk passed her a small envelope embossed with the hotel logo. Sophia noted the precise block lettering of her name on the outside. Memories whispered through her, making her shiver. Frank had preferred that style over his nearly illegible cursive handwriting. They’d often joked that he had the penmanship of a doctor. How rude of someone to try to irritate her by mimicking his habit. She caught herself in the middle of the overreaction. Printed lettering wasn’t a personal attack or automatic insult. She chalked up her edginess to having been watched so closely on her brief walk. Moving down the hall toward the elevators, she opened the envelope and pulled out the note.
She quickly read it through. She grabbed at the nearest wall for support as her knees buckled. “You and Frankie are in danger. Meet me at Parkhurst by nine. Prepare to run.”
It wasn’t signed, but the writing, the location told her it had to be from Frank. That was impossible. He was dead.
Parkhurst, the U.S. Army Reserve Center just off the old Route 66. She and Frank had been there once for a dining-out, early in his career. They’d just learned she was pregnant. She remembered avoiding the wine but not curious speculation of the other wives. She pressed a hand to her mouth to smother the whimper building in her throat. This wasn’t happening. Couldn’t be. She needed to get to her room. Needed to return to the desk and get a description of who had delivered the message.
Her stomach tightened while she read the note again more slowly. The meaning didn’t register at all as her fingertip followed the bold swipe of the pen strokes making up each letter and word. Her body sighed with memories of those happier times.
With an effort, she straightened her spine, tucked away the nostalgia and pulled herself together. Whoever had created this note had forged Frank’s handwriting perfectly. Sophia swallowed and forced herself to take a deep, calming breath. Frank wasn’t the only person in the world to write this way. He wasn’t the only person who would choose a remote location for a discreet meeting. At the edge of the nature preserve surrounding the facility, there would be plenty of privacy at night.
She walked back to the front desk, hoping she didn’t look as pale as she felt. When the clerk smiled, she held up the note. “Can you tell me who left this and when?”
The young man on duty shook his head. “It was here when I came on an hour ago. Jenny only told me it was urgent, according to the man who left it.”
The desk clerk nodded.
She pressed her lips together as potential images and thoughts collided like bumper cars in her head. “Could I access your security footage?”
Um, no? That kind of thing would have to be approved by our—”
It’s okay,” she said, cutting his protest short. What were the odds the person who’d written the missive had had the audacity to deliver it? Zero to none. She tapped the note against her palm. “Thank you for your time.”
Shoulders back, she aimed for the elevator once more. Frank was dead. She’d seen him in that morgue. Dead men didn’t send notes inviting their widowed wives to meetings, advising them to run. Someone was attempting to put her off balance. She hitched her shoulders at the thought of being watched during her walk from the restaurant. Someone wanted to frighten her and lure her from the safety of the hotel.
Defiant, she reached out and punched the call button for the elevator. When the car arrived, she shoved the note into her purse, ignoring it. She would not be influenced by the emotions of her past. It would be foolish to dash out to a relatively deserted area alone. She knew better than to take that sort of risk.
When she reached her room, she found another note on the floor just inside the doorway. Someone had slipped it under the door. No name on the envelope this time. She tore it open and tears sprang to her eyes as she skimmed it. The message was the same handwriting as the note left at the desk, but the first word stole her breath.
Stunned, she went limp and slid to the floor, the wall her only support. Her gaze was locked on the precious endearment Frank had used from their first date through every phone call and letter when they were apart. She pressed her lips together, holding back the wail of frustration and pain swelling in her throat.
So he’d called her sweetheart in Italian. Any number of people might know that detail about their lives. This did not mean Frank had miraculously returned from the dead. Whoever was orchestrating this was pushing all the right buttons, prodding her to make a predictable response. Melodramatic and cruel, she thought, checking her watch. If she left now, she’d just get to Parkhurst in time. Options ran through her mind. Victoria could help her sort out who had delivered the message. She could certainly find someone to ride with her or shadow her to the meeting.
But what if it was Frank?
What was she thinking? Her husband was dead, his body buried in Seattle. She thought suddenly about the closed casket. What if…?
No. Her husband had been an incredible man and she’d loved him from that first moment through all the ups and downs of marriage and career to the farewell she hadn’t known would be their last. She’d stood by him against the treason charges despite her doubts.
She glanced at the note, heard his voice whispering “dolcezza” at her ear when she read it again. Absolutely not. Remarkable he might’ve been, but not even Frank could come back from the dead. Shoving the second note into her purse with the first, she dragged herself from the floor and went to the bathroom to freshen up.
When she came out, the notes taunted her. Her maternal instinct kicked into high gear. While she might ignore a veiled threat against herself, she couldn’t leave Frankie’s safety to chance. Her daughter had worked tirelessly to triumph over a devastating physical injury and subsequent emotional turmoil. She wouldn’t let any vicious stunt ruin things now.
Determination beating urgently in her veins, Sophia packed her overnight bag. She considered changing clothes, but only switched from her heels to her flats. Her lightweight black sweater and slacks were easy to move in and the closest things to camouflage in her wardrobe. Whoever was waiting for her at Parkhurst, she had to go.
Nothing and no one would prevent her from keeping Frankie safe and her future secure.


Line Dancing Bundle by Kathy Carmichael - $0.99!

$0.99 - Regularly $9.99!


TEXAS TWO-STEP Bundle — The First Four Titles — Contemporary Western Romance

"For charming romantic comedies, Kathy Carmichael never disappoints." ~ Debra Webb, USA Today bestselling author

The first four stories in The Texas Two-Step Series are now available at a limited-time bargain price! The price on the books separately would retail for nearly $14. This is a deal you won’t want to miss!

All Texas Two-Step titles are sweet, charming and emotional contemporary romance. Each story in the series stands alone, but all Texas Two-Step novels and novellas feature love stories about members of the Nelson, Murphy or Palmer families — and sometimes, more than one!

Included in the Box Set: The First Four Titles in the Texas Two-Step Series

Western Pleasure — Novella — Prequel — Book 0

Jim Turner has always loved Ellen Murphy. But Ellen was already happily married.

Following the death of Ellen’s husband, Jim was right by her side, helping her. Now, more than friendly support and business advice seems possible, but what will her friends and family think?

While Jim works to find the courage to step out of the ‘friend zone,’ Ellen worries she’s about to lose a friendship of a lifetime.

Chasing Charlie — Book 1

Raised in a family of rodeo champions on a South Texas cattle ranch, Charlie wants only one thing: to avoid thrill-seeking cowboys.

Davis Murphy, cowboy wannabe and one of Dallas’s most eligible bachelors, needs a pretty and witty faux fiancée so his widowed mother will marry her longtime gentleman friend. Charlie, his local librarian, seems the prefect choice.

Charlie’s first reaction is to run, but she’s promised herself to step out of her plain-jane routine.

When Charlie accepts, Davis’s plan is set. But now Charlie’s sweet ways are challenging his bachelor heart.

The Lassoed Brides — Novella — Book 2

Six years ago, Barbara Palmer fell head-over-heels for cocky cowboy Ben O’Shea. He was devastatingly appealing, and he knew it. He had her heart—until the day he stood her up and disappeared. Now he’s back, determined to take up again where they left off—even though she’s about to marry another man.

Despite all the growing up Ben has done in the past six years, including the highly successful dude ranch he’s built that’s made him a millionaire—he’s never forgotten Barb and he wants her back.

But her wedding grows closer every day. He has to win back her love and her trust, before she’s lost to him forever.

Country Courtship — Book 3

When Kelli Palmer meets Bobby Gray Nelson at a family get-together, their attraction is immediate. But Kelli’s kid sister already has dibs on Bobby Gray.

Bobby Gray Nelson never takes no for an answer, a resolve that made him a rodeo champion.

But Kelli is standing her ground.

Now Bobby Gray must do something he’s never done: woo the woman who’s already claimed his heart, and earn permission to place his brand on hers.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Not Your Usual Familiar: Guest Blog Post by Tonya Kappes

All of my life I couldn’t wait to get my very own familiar. After all, my mama has an ornery cat named Riule, Gilbert the macaw is my sister’s, Lilith, and Ms. Kitty the owl is my Auntie Meme’s.

I guess I should explain that I’m a witch and a familiar is usually an animal or supernatural spirit that will aid a witch in performing magic. Simple, right? Wrong!

Vinnie. My familiar’s NAME is Vinnie. Now, I don’t know about you, but that name sounds to me like Vinnie is somewhat outspoken, do what I want kinda name. Not only is my familiar’s name is Vinnie, but to make matter worse, Vinnie is a 1965 classic red AC Cobra. Can you get a car that screams muscle car? 

You got it. Vinnie is my snarky familiar. Just how is Vinnie going to help me get out of my predicament where I’ve been thrown into helping Agent Mick Jasper, undercover agent for SKUL, a little-known division of Interpol – the Secret Keepers of the Universal Laws, figure out how to fix his investigation when I’m the one who messed it up by botching up a silly little spell after I lost a bet with Lilith playing Truth or Spell.

Spies and Spells

SPIES AND SPELLS, the first in this highly anticipated new series from USA TODAY Bestseller Tonya Kappes because we know she's a queen at writing paranormal mystery witch series, is here!

Spies and Spells 

Spies and Spells Book 1

While Maggie waits for her Witchy Hour, she works at the family diner with her mom, aunt Meme and Lilith, her sister - all witches. Soon Maggie gets entangled with a mysterious handsome stranger, Mick Jasper, and his secret U.S. organization, SKUL. Has she found her calling?


Be sure to visit each blog on the Spies and Spells blog tour. At each stop you will notice a bold and italicized word. These words make up one sentence. On April 9th, the last blog stop, you will have to opportunity to answer the sentence question and be entered to win a Tonya Kappes Loves Her Readers Mystery Box! On each blog stop, you will be able to enter a Rafflecopter giveway for a $50 Amazon Gift Card and signed print copy of Spies and Spells from Tonya Kappes. An added bonus~ All the blog titles are in the word search puzzle above. There are four extra mystery words in the word search. Find them and be entered to win a Starbucks Gift Card, Kappes mini Tote, Kappes flashlight pen, and Kappes sticky notes! You will be able to tell them to Tonya on April 9th! Good luck!

Spies and Spells Blog Tour Schedule

April 1st: Brookes Blog

April 2nd: Forget The Housework I’m Reading

April 3rd: Cozy Up With Kathy

April 4th: A Girl and Her eBooks

April 5th: Chatting about Cozies

April 6th: Lisa K’s Book Review

April 7th: Booth Talks Books Blog

April 8th: Shelley’s Book Case

April 9th: Tonya Kappes Blog

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 1, 2016

Kissing Jessie (Return to Redemption Book 7) by Laurie Kellogg



A Reluctant Groom

Just one kiss and he knew . . . he’d made a terrible mistake

Growing up unwanted left contractor, Mike Danvers, unwilling to risk his heart. Despite wanting marriage less than an incurable disease, he yearns for the family he never had. At nearly thirty-eight, he feels time running out and reluctantly proposes to his uptight girlfriend, Tracy, fearing he may regret settling. When he meets his fiancée’s much younger sister, Jessie, he’s enchanted by her exuberance and wishes there weren’t thirteen years between him and the bubbly pixie.

Twenty-four-year-old culinary school graduate, Jessie Perkins, is hesitant to accept Mike’s offer to turn the old Victorian she’s inherited in Redemption, PA, into a B&B. The heart-thumping attraction she feels for her sister’s hunky intended could become a big problem. The last thing she wants is to provoke Tracy’s perpetual jealousy. Unfortunately, with an extremely tight budget, she’d be a colossal idiot to turn down Mike’s help and expertise.

Within weeks of starting the renovation, they forge a precious friendship. Mike is bummed when Tracy suddenly breaks their engagement, but he and Jess are both confident she’ll change her mind about wanting children. Then, one night, Jessie’s innate sensuality shatters his resistance. He kisses her and realizes he made a huge mistake proposing to her sister. Despite that he would never ask Jessie to give up her youth to become his wife, there’s no going back with Tracy—especially after his sizzling, unforgettable night with the girl who taught him to trust a woman’s love.

Jessie couldn’t care less about their age difference. Even so, she refuses to destroy her relationship with her sister. Somehow, she must convince Tracy Mike isn’t right for her. Meanwhile, she won’t hesitate to use all the secrets he shared—about what men want and how to tempt them—to lure him back into her bed and persuade him to stay there for a lifetime.
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