Category Archives: Suspense

EGO – Everyone’s Got One

I’ve often wondered at what point A-list celebrities become jaded to their success. Recognizable folks from any walk of life are at risk but since the world (especially Americans and Brits) obsess over the antics of the rich and famous, it must happen more quickly with those prominent, newsworthy folks. However,  even photogenic “beautiful” people have flaws.

Authors are a different lot for the most part, perhaps because we hide behind our characters. I seldom see that nose-in-the-air snootiness with a well-known author. Oh, there’s a few, don’t get me wrong. I won’t name names but every aspiring or mid-list writer knows who they are. Unapproachable. Kiss-my-ring, peon attitude. “I’d be happy to speak at your event but I must have Evian water and no red M&M’s at my table” type requests. “Certainly I will be a keynote speaker but keep those autograph hounds away from me.” Sadly, I’ve even met some of those ego driven folks at chapter meetings for various author organizations.

Sad, isn’t it? My parents stressed that I should never forget my roots – which came from an archaic middle class, hard working, respect your elders, have pride in your work, look at those less fortunate and say “for the grace of God, there goes I” type upbringing. That being said, today’s world requires caution when dealing with the public because the values I was raised with got thrown out with the bathwater.

Old habits die hard. I’m a writer. A good writer but not the best or most recognized writer. I’m not sure I would even classify myself as mid-list. I love spinning a good yarn and am flabbergasted when others seem to like it, too.

Today I received a 5 star review for one of my older books. A book I considered irrelevant to today’s market. It’s not graphically sexy. My characters are not as contemporary as those written by my peers. It’s kinda hokey, I guess, but back when romantic suspense was popular, it did okay. I like it. In fact, it’s one of my favorites. A nice blend of things I love like strong men, sassy women, Native American culture, and a bad ass (IMHO) villain. I actually thought about taking this book off my availability list. But now, because of one kind and expressive person who cared enough to leave a short review saying they liked it, I will keep Red Hot and Dangerous active in hopes someone else might find respite form the craziness between its pages.

Thank you to all my reviewers. Remember, most authors are an insecure lot. It makes us feel good when you enjoy our hard work that probably took months, or even years to release. Writing a novel is like giving birth to a child. We carry it inside us for ages, allowing it to grow and nurture. When our manuscript finally takes its first breath as a published work, we are proud.

If you don’t like it, there’s no reason to be cruel. Just let us know what you think would have made it better. The majority of us want to know. Believe it or not, we listen – and also realize it’s impossible to please everyone. But as writers, we’re probably still going to try.

 

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Welcome Back, Jack – Gritty, Gutsy, Good!

jack bannerREVIEW:

Welcome Back, Jack starts as a slow moving police procedural that subtly wraps around you like a constrictor, keeping you snug and comfortable with the story and characters. . . until it starts to squeeze. By then it’s too late because you’re morbidly fascinated by this psychological thriller bordering on a horror novel.   You can’t put the damn book down.

I admit, my love affair with Welcome Back, Jack did not start on the first page . . . or even the first chapter. While I usually enjoy attention to details, I felt the story stalled a bit as author Sweeny set the stage. Granted, there is a gruesome murder with graphic descriptions of the mutilated bodies. No one is going to sleep walk through that! But the initial investigation and introduction to the many characters seemed to take a long time and did not reel me in as quickly as I like.

However, once you get past the slough, this is an intriguing tale with some darned good twists. The story starts off like a gumshoe detective novel but soon gets in your head and stays there until the final page. Jack is a gruff detective who smokes too many cigarettes and keeps his emotions under lock and key. His wife, Mary might be the only one who truly understands him since she hails from a family of cops, but even that is debatable at times. As the investigation unfolds, clues reveal something even more terrifying – the killer is tied to Jack’s own biological parent’s murders from years earlier.  Things go from murky to dark, spiraling to a conclusion that will leave you breathless.

Fans of police procedural, crime or horror/thriller novels will want to put Welcome Back, Jack on their must read list, as well as anyone who likes dark psychological whodunits. It’s a good read.

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Release Day: Amber Prelude by Kevin B. Henry

amber preludeAmber Prelude

Amber Gifts

Prequel

Kevin B. Henry

Genre: Fantasy, Time Travel, Science Fiction, and History

Publisher: Burst/ Champagne Books

Date of Publication: June 01, 2015

Word Count: 20,000

Formats available: eBook, PDF

Cover Artist: Ellie Smith

Book Description:

Mitchell didn’t really believe the story the Man told him, Just take a sip and speak a year. He whimsically chose a historic event to witness. Little did he know he would become part of that history. Faster than you can say Teithwyr Amser our man Mitchell is chasing a bona fide assassin not only across America but across time.

Amber Prelude will require Mitchell to travel from the America he knows to France and Africa. He will travel to decades and centuries he is unfamiliar with. Mitchell will chase authentic villains and make historic friends, all in an attempt to set history back the way he remembers.

Amber Prelude RDB Banner 851 x 315

Excerpt Chapter One 

1963: New Mexico

It had started simply. I uncapped the vial, drank the liquid, and spoke the year I had chosen aloud. The room spun. I dissolved.

I anticipated nothing happening. I began by sitting at the old wooden table feeling numb. My expectations extended to looking for shelter the following morning. Maybe I would move under a bridge for a short time; maybe I would do something much worse to myself.

I’d experienced severely morbid thoughts for months. Moving often transformed me.  A nightmarish combination of a manic and depressed person was all I had been until the vial. It continued for months, and I expected it to continue forever. What I didn’t expect was a twisting feeling in my chest and lower abdomen. It wasn’t painful, just an unusual feeling. I didn’t expect the room to blur. I blinked several times, but it wasn’t my eyes; the room was blurry. Soon the room ceased to exist.

I had not spent long hours considering the year I would move to. I flippantly selected 1963. It would give me almost ten years before my birth moment and I vanished from the universe forever. The Man was specific about not existing past my birth moment. It would give me a chance to see some of the most tumultuous years in America, civil rights marches, hippies, the moon landing. My choice of year would give me a chance to stand at Dealey Plaza and personally see if there was a second shooter. It was a shallow choice, but it was the best I could come up with.

My first thought as the world congealed around me was that I had said something wrong. Had I said 1863? It was night. The stars above me were crisp and clear. Sagebrush surrounded me in all directions. Gone were the smells of the city. My senses absorbed a clean, fresh smell. This was how I remembered the world use to be. A scrub oak blended with the evening shadows just a few feet to my right. To my left was a light in the distance, a campfire. The flames created dancing shadows on the two trees surrounding the fire. Someone sat next to the fire, stirring the flames, sparks rising into the starry sky.

I walked toward the fire. I didn’t see that I had any choice; every other direction was pitch-black. Halfway there he rose from his place at the fire and raised his left hand above his head.

He sparkled. It wasn’t anything residual from the fire. His whole body twinkled and sparkled. It was disturbing.

“About time, Mitchell,” he yelled. “I’ve been waiting here for damn near three days.” “Come on in. I’m sure you have questions, son.”

I got over my initial anxiety of the twinkle man and sat on the far side of the fire. We had been sitting before the fire for fewer than five minutes. I was dazed, confused, and overwhelmed. Less than an hour ago, I was sitting in a dingy, two-bit hotel room.

Now, here I was, in some large expanse of desert in the company of someone who looked like Ray Teal, that quintessential sheriff on so many TV westerns and movies. He wore standard blue jeans, a simple button-front dress shirt, and a light-gray jacket. This twinkle man had a slouch hat, not exactly cowboy, but not a fedora either. He was half a foot shorter than me, stockier, and a minimum of twenty-five-years older, if I had to guess his age. There was salt and pepper stubble covering his face. His voice was deeper than mine, but not so deep that I envied it.

“Okay,” I began. “Where am I?”

“New Mexico,” he answered without hesitation. “You’re about three miles east of Tucumcari.”

I considered that answer. “When am I?”

“It’s November, 1963.”

“What’s the date, the day?” It concerned me I might miss my reason for picking this year.

“It’s the sixth.” A wave of relief swept over me. I wasn’t too late.

His answers were rapid-fire, no pauses or measurable moments that I would have considered creative thinking. He was either telling the truth or extremely well prepared for my random questions. I tried to think of the relevant questions I should ask. The standard ones, who, what, when, where, seemed a good place to start.

“How did I get here?”

“Well now, that’s an obvious answer to a poorly considered, ill-thought out question.” He shook his head. “You took a drink from that vial you have tucked away in your jacket pocket.”

A sudden gust of wind caused me to wrap my windbreaker tighter around my body. Maybe it wasn’t the night air. I was a little hurt. It wasn’t an attempt at sounding stupid; just understand what had happened to me.

“How did you know I was coming?” Maybe that question would seem less inept.

“Now that’s complicated.” He answered this question more slowly. He was thinking more and not just responding. “My name is Gil, Gil Seward. I got a letter just a few days ago. It asked me to come here and see if you’d appear. The letter said to just wait here a while and see if you drank from the vial or not. If you did, I’m supposed to help you out a little. Get you started and send you on your way.”

“Asked by whom? That guy who gave me the vial?”

“Yeah” was his only response. I hate one-word answers.

“Who was he? Why did he give me this vial?”

“He was someone I owed a favor. I haven’t seen him for a long time. He isn’t someone you need to know. Forget him. I don’t know why he decided to give you his vial. He just did.”

He paused for a while, stirring the fire with his stick, a small branch from one of the nearby trees.

“One last question for now,” he said. “Make it a good one.”

“Okay, Gil,” I said, using his name for the first time. “Why the hell do you sparkle? You look like some creation by Industrial Light, a special effect in a vampire or science fiction movie.”

“Forgot all about that,” he laughed. “You sparkle too. You just can’t see it. You started as soon as you drank from the vial. All Amser will sparkle.”

“What’s an Amser?”

“Sorry, Mitchell, You’ve reached your limit on questions for now. It’s my turn to ask some.”

I started to say something, but the look on his face made me stop. I hoped that ‘for now’ meant there would be more answers in the future.

“What made you pick this year?”

“It wasn’t a rational decision. Who would believe this would really work? I figured I’d see something special, something historic. Dallas and the Kennedy assassination was a significant event in my life. All the other conspiracy theories I remember while growing up could never surpass this one event. Standing on the grassy knoll and knowing beyond a doubt if there was or wasn’t a second shooter seemed as good an idea as any.”

“With all of history to choose from, you wanted to watch somebody die?”

“That wasn’t my motivation.” I said “I thought of it more as watching a documentary on TV.”

“We’ll see what you think of your documentary as you watch it live. Did you have plans afterward?”

“I don’t have many concrete plans. Just live out the next decade before I die.”

“Why would you want to die?”

“The Man said I couldn’t live past my birth moment. That was another reason I came here. That gives me several years to live before that time.”

“He didn’t tell you?”

“Tell me what?”

“You have it all wrong, Mitchell. You can use that vial repeatedly. Just refill it. You can travel to any year, any time, as often as you want, as many times as you want. You’re not stuck in this year or decade forever.”

I’m not sure my mouth actually fell open, but that is how I remember it.

About the Author:Henry

From an early age, Kevin B. Henry was a voracious reader. His collection of science fiction, fantasy and mystery books bring tears of envy to the eyes of many small community libraries.

Kevin has worked as an educator, technology specialist and day laborer most of his adult life. During all that time he lived the life of a frustrated author. That it took 30 years for him to piece together the series, Amber Gifts is a testament that the best meals need slow cooking to bring out the flavor.

The Amber Gifts Series begins with Amber Gifts. The second story, which is really the first, is Amber Prelude, and is available now. The third story, Amber Legacy continues where Amber Gifts left off. It will be available in November 2015. All are published by the wonderful folks at the Champagne Book Group. A fourth story is in the process of being written.

Kevin is a natural story teller, so it’s logical that he lectures occasionally. Topics range from the implementation of cutting edge technology hardware to the creation, modification and use of e-books within education. He constantly pursues research to expand his range of possible topics. His most recent research revolved around the aerodynamic properties of reindeer. He’s also been known to include little known facts and trivia within his presentations. Did you know just 146 years ago today the Union Army marched into Atlanta. It took longer than anticipated. They were delayed by a traffic jam on I-75 and the toll booth on Ga. 400

He continues to live in the Mid-West without human or domesticated mammal companionship.

Blog/Wesbite: www.ambergifts.blogspot.com

Twitter:       @Kevin_Henry

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AmberGifts

Catherine Bybee Continues the Love with “Seduced by Sunday”

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SEDUCED BY SUNDAY

Catherine Bybee

Weekday Brides, Book 6

Series, Stand Alone

April 14, 2015

Montlake Romance, Contemporary

Goodreads Book Page

BUY LINKS:

Amazon   B&N   BAM    BOOK DEPOSITORY

Book Description:
She swore off love forever…but he just might change her mind.

The sixth sweet, thrilling book in the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling Weekday Brides series from Catherine Bybee.

Meg Rosenthal: Matchmaker by day, realist by night, Meg is not about to get swept away by a charming, darkly handsome businessman in a designer suit. She’s come to a beautiful secluded resort to evaluate the private island’s potential for her agency, not to ogle its owner. But there’s something about the magnetic man that’s hard to resist, even for a woman who refuses to fall in love.Seduce by Sunday L

Valentino Masini: A successful and drop-dead sexy businessman, Valentino is used to having the finer things in life. Yet he’s never wanted someone the way he wants Meg, who’s stirring up a hurricane of trouble in his heart. But just as he decides to convince her to stay, someone else decides it might be time to get Meg off the island…permanently.

Praise for Catherine Bybee

“Suspense, survival, and chemistry mix in this scintillating read in the style of Julie Garwood and Suzanne Brockmann.” —Booklist on Fiancé by Friday

“This is a book nobody should miss, because the magic it contains is awesome.” —Booked Up Reviews on Married by Monday

“[A] wonderfully exciting plot, lots of desire, and some sassy attitude thrown in for good measure!” Harlequin Junkie on Single by Saturday

MY REVIEW:

Catherine Bybee continues the love with SEDUCED BY SUNDAY, Book 6 of the Weekday Brides series. It seems redundant to tout the remarkable talent by this USA Today and NY Times Best Selling Author but I simply can’t resist. Simply put, Ms. Bybee is the BOMB when it comes to contemporary romance!

Her stories explode from Page One, ripping apart any preconceived notion the novel is formulaic and only names and places have changed. Quite the opposite. SEDUCED BY SUNDAY is a great stand alone read or a continuation of a very popular and entertaining series.

Meg is a high profile matchmaker secretly researching an island resort for the Alliance Agency. She wants to make sure it offers the discreet accommodations and privacy it advertises. Plans go awry when she is not allowed access to the resort until they complete a background check, which sends Meg into a cyber frenzy as she pens not-so-friendly emails to the owner.

After she is finally allowed admittance, Meg meets Val, the hotel owner. Sizzling attraction ensues but Meg doesn’t trust those feelings. Val on the other hand, is quite eager to push the envelope. As these two lovebirds-in-the-making maneuver past a rocky beginning, they discover all is not as it seems in “paradise”. I love a little suspense with my romance and Ms. Bybee knows how to deliver.

This is a well written tale with an interesting plot, snappy dialogue, beautiful setting and a great cast of characters, some from previous stories in the series. If you haven’t read the other Weekday Brides books, don’t despair. While I highly encourage you to indulge, SEDUCED BY SUNDAY will make perfect sense as a stand alone novel. But be warned . . . this series is addictive. Once you’ve read one, you’ll want to keep going!

Rating:  ♥♥♥♥♥

Meet Catherine Bybee:

Bybee Author Photo

New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee was raised in Washington State, but after graduating high school, she moved to Southern California in hopes of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Weekday Brides Series and the Not Quite Series. Bybee lives with her husband and two teenage sons in Southern California.

CONTACT LINKS:

http://www.catherinebybe.com

catherinebybee@yahoo.com

catherinebybee.blogspot.com

twitter.com/catherinebybee

ROMANTIC ROAD – A Thrilling Whodunit by Acclaimed Author, Blair McDowell

Romantic Road

Blair McDowell

Genre: Romantic ThrillerRomRoadCover

Publisher: Wild Rose Press

Pages: 290

Cover: Diana Carlile

Amazon      Barnes & Noble

Book Description:

When Lacy Telchev buries her husband, she finds herself in treacherous waters. Igor, much older than Lacy, had secrets. Suddenly, Lacy is being chased across Europe by men who believe she can lead them to those secrets.

Evading her pursuers with the aid of a chance acquaintance, the handsome and mysterious Max Petersen, Lacy travels across Germany, Austria and Hungary, to a shattering discovery in Budapest. Along the way, she meets three women from Igor’s past.

As Igor’s story unfolds through them, Lacy is less and less certain who her husband really was. Who can Lacy trust? Will she survive to find out?

REVIEW:

Romantic Road has something to please everyone, beginning with top notch writing. Blair McDowell has penned another riveting tale chock full of danger, suspense, romance and mystery. I’m quite sure the book grew tentacles and wrapped around me because I found it impossible to look up until I’d turned the final page. I confess, I was a willing prisoner.

The fast paced plot takes readers on a superb journey, beginning in New York and extending through several European countries. It’s obvious the author is well traveled because of her attention to detail. Rather than use a heavy hand with descriptive prose, however, Ms. McDowell delicately layers enticing tidbits of local flavor that blend seamlessly into the story.

I loved the heroine’s character arc. Her growth and development were expertly crafted, making Lacy Telchev believable but more importantly, likable.

Romantic Road is a story with twists and turns, several subplots, and a great unraveling of the mystery behind Lacy’s husband. Add it to your reading list, then READ it! This novel is too good to remain unopened.

Excerpt:

“Where is it? Just tell us where it is and you won’t get hurt.” The taller man loomed over her, his face expressionless, a mask.

“Where is what? What are you talking about? Who are you?” Lacy began to be annoyed. That was better than being scared. “Can I see your badges again?”

The second man stared hard at her though dead-looking flat grey eyes. “Mrs. Telchev,” he said, his voice low and menacing, “we mean you no harm. But you must tell us where he hid his manuscript.”

They knew her name? Icy tentacles of fear slipped down Lacy’s back. She shook her head. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

At that moment the red and white lights of a state police vehicle rounded the curve coming toward them. Seeing the blocked road it stopped. Two uniformed officers got out and approached the two parked cars.

“You’re blocking the road. What’s the trouble here?”

The taller man spoke.  “No trouble, Officer. Sorry about the way we’re parked. I’ll move the car immediately. The lady was pulled over here and we just stopped to see if she needed help.”

He flipped open his wallet and showed the officers the same ID he’d shown Lacy.

It seemed to mean something to the policemen.

Lacy opened her mouth to say something and then thought better of it. What could she tell the police? These men wanted a manuscript from her but she didn’t know where it was? Or what it was about? Or even if it existed. That it involved her dead husband? No. She wouldn’t say anything. Not until she knew more.

BlairAbout the Author:

Blair McDowell wrote her first short story when she was eleven and hasn’t stopped writing since. After many years producing non-fiction professional books in her field, Blair decided to exercise her rich imagination and write fiction; novels of mystery and romance set in places she knows and loves, peopled with characters drawn from her experiences in those locales.

 

Want An OMG Moment? Read “The Frailty of Things” by Tamsen Schultz

REVIEW:

I love good Romantic Suspense so discovering a new author AND series is like experiencing Christmas morning all over again! THE FRAILTY OF THINGS is Book 4 in the Windsor Series by Tamsen Schultz. I’ll be honest – until recently I’d not read anything by this remarkable writer but I certainly plan on amending this oversight .

THE FRAILTY OF THINGS is an intriguing story but more than romance and more than suspense. It’s a riveting tale riddled with mystery and intrigue, spiced with witty dialogue and boasting an incredible cast of supporting characters. The main characters ain’t so bad, either. Kit Forrester is an internationally acclaimed author who has some trust issues and a few dark secrets in her past. When Kit unintentionally falls on the bad side of some war criminals, her brother’s partner, Garret Cantona, steps in to offer protection and ends up losing a bit of his heart in the process.

Sounds like a typical formula for romantic suspense . . . but it’s not. THE FRAILTY OF THINGS is a notch above  genre offerings with well developed strong characters, a superb plot and intelligent action. I was concerned about starting the series with Book 4 and not knowing the back story but Ms. Schultz aptly layers in just enough past history to bring new readers up to par without bogging down the action packed thriller. That being said, I’m still eager to catch up with the rest of A Windsor Series. If the first three books are as good as this one, and I’m told they are, I will be a lifetime fan of Tamsen Schultz.

This is easily a novel I can recommend to readers of mystery, suspense or action thrillers. You won’t be disappointed.

frailty banner

The Frailty of Things

By Tamsen Schultz

Genre: Romantic Suspense

296 pages

 Amazon   Barnes&Noble

Book Blurb:TFOT Final Cover

Independence. Kit Forrester is a woman who wears her independence like armor. Despite keeping secrets and hiding her past, she’s built a life she loves and is accountable to no one. Until, that is, one of the world’s most wanted war criminals sets his sights on her and she must weigh the risk to one against the chance of justice and closure for many—a decision Kit couldn’t make on her own even if she wanted to.

Certainty. As a man who makes his living in the shadows of governments and wars, certainty isn’t a part of Garret Cantona’s vocabulary, and he’s just fine with that. But when Kit walks into his life, he realizes he’s never before been so sure about anything or anyone. Suddenly, he finds he’s looking at the world, his world, in a different light. And now that he is, he’s determined to protect it, and her, in whatever ways he can.

Frailty. No one knows better than Kit and Garret that an appreciation for what is, or what was, or what might be, can be born from the uncertainty and fragility of life. But when a hunt for a killer leaves Garret no choice but to throw Kit back into her broken and damaged past, even his unshakable faith in what they have together might not be enough to keep it from shattering into a million pieces.

About the Author:

cover picTamsen Schultz is the author of several romantic suspense novels and American Kin (a short story published in Line Zero Magazine). In addition to being a writer, she has a background in the field of international conflict resolution, has co-founded a non-profit, and currently works in corporate America. Like most lawyers, she spends a disproportionate amount of time thinking (and writing) about what it might be like to do something else. She lives in Northern California in a house full of males including her husband, two sons, four cats, a dog, and a gender-neutral, but well-stocked, wine rack.