Tag Archives: romantic 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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Review and Contest: Splintered Lies by Karen Lopp

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Splintered Lies

Karen Lopp

Genre:  Romantic Suspense

Publisher:  SilverTree Publishing

Date of Publication:   May 18, 2014

ISBN:  978-0-9903666-0-7

ASIN:  BOOK1FSEW

Number of pages:  223

Word Count:   70k

Cover Artist:  Karen Lopp

Available at Amazon

splinteredlies850x1362Book Description: 

Detective Rissa Marten sacrificed her only chance for a normal life to put a drug lord behind bars. Now, her life in the shadows has to be brought to life to save the man she has secretly loved for years. With a price on her head can she risk letting him know?

Detective Jerah Qassem has built his career as an undercover agent in the dangerous world of drug cartels. But when a ghost from his past is resurrected can he overcome his bitterness in time to save her life?

REVIEW: 

I love Romantic Thrillers, especially if the suspense is intense and the romance sizzles. SPLINTERED LIES delivers all that and more.

There’s a whirlwind of action in this story, and  more twists and turns than an amusement park roller coaster. Some readers may find Rissa Marten’s multiple alias’ a bit confusing in the beginning but the author is merely staging with a little backstory . . . necessary to understand the extreme measures Rissa has taken to keep her identity secret. Things soon smooth out and we know exactly who Rissa is, why she is in hiding and how much she loves Detective Jerah Qassem. In fact, the only person who is still in the dark about how much she cares is Jerah.

After believing for eight years that Rissa was dead, Jerah is more than a little confused, angry and excited when she wanders into the bar where he is having a drink. Within a few pages of their meeting, Rissa and Jerah are whisked off to Mexico on the yacht of a drug lord, shot at by Federalizes, and almost drowned in the ocean. As I said, there’s a lot of action in this book!

There are some violent scenes so if you are sensitive to physical brutality, you might squirm from time to time. I personally don’t like graphic violence but I wasn’t too put off by the detailed beatings. It seemed an appropriate way to show the villain’s  capacity for cruelty.

I would have liked a more realistic approach to Rissa and Jerah’s reunion. I felt Rissa was a bit too “offish” for the well written sexual chemistry playing out between her and Jerah, and he didn’t seem as curious about why she faked her death as most men would have been. These are minor issues and in no way take away from the fast pace and suspenseful plot.

If you enjoy thrillers or suspense with a healthy dose of romantic angst, SPLINTERED LIES is a good choice for your to-be-read list.

 Excerpt:

Jerah Qassem had never been more grateful for his years of undercover training than at this moment. Fingers tight around the tumbler to stop the tremors, he watched the apparition glide up to the bar, and wondered if someone had laced his drink with a hallucinogen. Mary was dead. He had nightmares or wet dreams about her most nights for the last eight years.

It wasn’t only the woman’s face that had his insides swirling like a hurricane. It was the way she moved. Long, smooth strides, shoulders straight and eyes darting around like a caged cat. Mary had always been casting looks over her shoulder as if she expected someone to jump out and chase her. But those legs were just as toned and shapely as Mary’s had been. She had been athletic and grabbed every chance she could to romp around the beach. Even the hair was the exact same color of ripened wheat and bounced just below her shoulders. Just like Mary had worn it.

Chills erupted all over his body and cold fingers caressed the nape of his neck. Unable to blink, Jerah stared at the ghost of Mary. The girl he had sent to her death in a fit of anger. The girl he had fallen in love with, yet had been too proud and ambitious to acknowledge until she was gone. Forever.

Jerah closed his eyes against the jarring memory of two firemen holding him back from the charred remains of the building he had sent Mary into as three body bags were carried out. A shudder rattled down his spine. He had relived that day too often. When he glanced back at the bar, the woman had taken a seat and smiled at the bartender. Jerah knew that smile. The same smile that once had almost melted his resolve to not get involved. He had had a career to build. Mary had stirred up thoughts of forever and love, things he hadn’t been ready for. The temptation had been great. But somehow, he persevered and tossed away the best thing that had ever happened to him.

Air exploded from his chest and Jerah shook his head. He did not believe in ghosts. Prickles sprang up his legs as if his blood had decided to flow again. He tugged his leaden body from the chair and stalked to the bar. “Give me a shot of Wild Turkey.” Needing the fortification, he gulped down the amber liquid. Fire burned down his throat. Nope, he wasn’t dreaming. Hands braced on the edge of the bar, he turned to the woman at his side.

“Jerah?”

A voice from the grave, soft and melodic, brushed across his ears. That face, resurrected from the dead, shimmered under the neon lights, a few years older, but still able to mesmerize him. Fear, anger, and profound sadness glittered in those honey-hued eyes as the color leeched from her face.

Anger and shock swelled like a wave and crashed over Jerah. That’s all she had to say? After leaving him to believe she had been killed?

Blood roared in his ears and he clamped a shaking hand around her arm. “Come with me.” A tiny voice told him this was a bad idea. That too many curious eyes watched this little exchange. But he couldn’t help it. Mary was alive and he damn sure wanted to know how. Carl and the risk of a blown cover be damned. Besides, this wasn’t the usual meeting place, and Carl wasn’t here yet.

“Let go of me, Jerah.” The sharp whisper of dismissal slapped him in the face.

He leaned in close and tightened his grip. “You are coming with me and I don’t give a shit if you cause a scene or not.” The bartender sat another drink on the counter and Jerah gulped it down in one swallow, ignoring the open interest of the bartender. The burn of alcohol on his throat was not enough to ease the utter chaos of his insides. “Come on.”

Mary catapulted out of her stool at his tug and stumbled into him. When she landed against his chest, sizzles and crackles exploded over his flesh like a bolt of lightning. Conscious control flew away as Jerah’s free hand snaked to the nape of her neck and he feathered his fingers through her soft tresses. Something he had dreamed of many nights over the years.

About the Author:

karen loppStories have always been a part of my life, from books to tales passed down from my ancestors that brought history to life. Danger, struggles and the will power to overcome are all found in the rich legacy of my family tree. Inspiration from their lives inspired me to write what I love. Branching out to contemporary suspense has been another dream come true. I hope my stories bring you entertainment and inspiration.

I love history of all times and places. And my second but equal love of suspense fills my books.

http://karenlopp.com

https://twitter.com/karen_lopp

https://www.facebook.com/authorkarenlopp

http://www.pinterest.com/karenlopp

 

Spotlight on Romantic Suspense: Tender Deceit by H.Y. Hanna

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Tender Deceit

First Love Series, Book 1

H.Y. Hanna

Genre:  Romantic Suspense

ISBN:  978-0-9923153-6-8

Word Count:  67,000 words

Cover Artist:  Kim Killion

 

TenderDeceit_HYHanna(large)Book Description:

First love. Second chance.

All they have to do is stay alive…

Following her father’s mysterious death in Singapore, Leah leaves her life in London and returns to the island that was her childhood home – braced to confront her past. Toran James may have been the boy her fourteen-year-old heart yearned for, but the magic of stolen glances and first kisses faded with his betrayal.

The enigmatic man she meets upon her return, though, is nothing like her memory, and the past holds more secrets than she realised. Was her father’s death really an accident? What was hidden in his study? And why has Toran contacted her again after all these years? Someone is out to silence Leah – and that someone might be the man she is rapidly falling in love with… again.

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Excerpt:

“Quiet!” a voice hissed, as a hand clamped over her mouth and Leah felt herself pressed against a hard, male body, muscular arms folding around her like a band of iron.

She tried to scream again and struggled, kicking back with her heels. She heard a sound of annoyance and the hand fell from her mouth for a second. She took a deep breath, ready to scream again, when a voice she recognised spoke urgently in her ear.

“Leah! Leah! It’s me!”

He let go of her, then strong hands gripped her shoulders and gave her a sharp shake. Her head snapped back and her scream was cut off. Leah stumbled backwards, staring at the man in front of her.

“Toran?”

He glanced around, then moved swiftly, taking her right arm and leading her towards the building entrance. She stumbled along beside him, trying to keep up with his long strides, as they passed through the lobby of the building and headed towards the lifts.

“What—”

“Get in,” he said tersely as the lift doors opened.

“No.” She balked. “Not until you explain what’s going on. And what the hell you thought you were doing just now, manhandling me like that.”

He glanced back the way they had come and gave her a gentle push. “I don’t have time to explain now.”

“Well, I don’t care. I want—”

GET. IN.”

The look on his face scared her. This was not the boy she used to know, but a man who could be dangerous. Very dangerous. She stepped into the lift and stood well away from him as the doors swished shut after them, and the hum of machinery told her that they were ascending. She noticed for the first time that he was wearing a baseball cap and dark glasses.

“Where are we going?” she demanded.

“To the fifteenth floor.” He took off the shades and cap, and ran a hand through his hair. “Leah, I’m sorry; this wasn’t how I planned the evening at all—”

“Oh, really? You mean you don’t always attack your dates and maul them as soon as you see them? I guess I should be honoured that I get that special privilege!” She was angry now—angry at how scared she had been, angry at his strange behaviour, maybe even angry at herself for feeling a thrill of excitement when she had been pressed up against his body. She remembered the way his chest felt, hard under her hands, and the rough thrust of his thigh against hers, and her face burned. Whatever it was she had expected to feel when she saw Toran James again, it wasn’t this raw attraction.

“Don’t be melodramatic,” he said.

“Melodramatic? Me?” Her voice rose in indignation. “You’re the one with the kidnapping act!”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I just… Someone might have heard you scream and—” He broke off.

“And what?” She raised her eyebrows.

The lift pinged and the doors slid open.

“Come on,” he said, putting a hand to her elbow.

“No!” Leah pulled her arm away. “I’m not going anywhere with you until you explain. I’ve barely been in Singapore twenty-four hours and already I feel like I’m in some bad B-movie. What the hell is going on, Toran? Why did you contact me again after all these years? Why did you ask me to meet you last night?”

He said impatiently, “Because I wanted to see you, of course.”

“Don’t lie,” Leah snapped. “There’s more to it than that. I know about the yacht explosion.” She saw with satisfaction that he had gone very still. “Why didn’t you mention that when you saw me last night?”

The doors had slid shut again. Suddenly, the lift seemed a lot smaller. Leah felt a flare of panic. What was she thinking, confronting him here in this tight, airless space? She should have waited until they had gotten out, gone somewhere more public, somewhere she could get away.

She flew towards the controls, but he stepped forwards, blocking her with his body. His hand shot out and gripped her wrist. Leah felt herself pulled up against him, pressed once more against the taut, muscular length of his body. She gasped, throwing her head back, and looked up at him. The pad of his thumb brushed against the soft skin on the inside of her wrist and a shudder of awareness ran up her arm.

“I’ll explain, but not here. Not now. You have to trust me.” His green eyes burned into hers.

 

About the Author:

HYHanna-AuthorPhoto(Med)H.Y. Hanna was born in Taiwan and has been a globe-trotter most of her life, from growing up in the United Arab Emirates to attending school in New Jersey, from working in the glamorous world of London advertising to emigrating Down Under.

Along the way, she somehow managed to pick up a wonderful husband, a huge, slobbery dog, two rescue cats, an assortment of cardboard boxes and a slightly dodgy “trans-atlantic” accent. After graduating from Oxford University, she tried her hand at a variety of jobs before returning to her first love: writing.

She’s the author of the Amazon bestselling children’s mystery series, Big Honey Dog Mysteries, and is now diving into the world of romantic suspense with the launch of Tender Deceit, Book 1 in the First Love Series.

You can find out more about H.Y. Hanna and her books at: http://www.hyhanna.com or catch her on Facebook at “H.Y. Hanna” or the Big Honey Dog Mysteries Facebook Page.

Website www.hyhanna.com

Facebook http://bitly.com/hyhanna-facebook

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/H.Y.-Hanna/e/B00EWX1C08

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7232313.H_Y_Hanna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Holy Moly . . . AN UNHOLY ALLIANCE


An Unholy Alliance

Deb Sanders

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Genre: Paranormal Thriller with Romantic Elements

Date of Publication: January 25, 2014

ASIN: B00I1THOII

AMAZON

Book Description:

What would you do if the future of mankind depended on whether you lived or died?Reyna Blair has learned two things from life – she can tolerate a lot of pain and wounds aren’t always visible. After a stint in the army, she’s ready to drop off the grid and heal. A job as Peace Officer in the small community of Purgatory, Texas sounds like the perfect solution – until the town is rocked by a gruesome murder.When sexy Texas Ranger, Ty Carter, steps in to help with the investigation, Reyna is both thrilled and annoyed. He’s nice to look at and a definite boost to her sagging ego but his aggressive ambition might push her right out of a job. To make matters worse, she’s being stalked by a mysterious stranger with a sword that can burst into flames on command.Reyna soon learns her problems are just beginning. The stranger is an angel of God . . . an Enforcer . . . sent to eliminate a Nephilim woman that prophecy states will give birth to the Antichrist. Realizing she’s the target, Reyna must flee or be killed. Along the way, she discovers dark secrets which will change her world forever, and force her to choose between life and death.*** This story is based on a biblical theme but includes scenes with graphic violence and strong language.

Excerpt:

The stench of decaying flesh filled the air like day old road kill on a hot August night. Reyna Blair folded a handkerchief, covered her nose and choked back the urge to gag.

“How long?”

The medical examiner pushed wire framed glasses further along his nose and looked up. “Hard to say, Officer Blair. This damn heat’s accelerated the breakdown of tissue.”

“Then how ’bout a guess?”

The older man squinted, twisted his mouth to one side, and arched bushy brows over pale blue eyes. “Well, the blowfly larvae are at third instar so I’d say your vic has been dead four, maybe five days. Once I get him to the lab and run some tests, I can give you a better estimate.”

Reyna nodded as her eyes riveted to the gaping wound in the dead man’s chest. Someone split his sternum from throat to abdomen, leaving an open cavity that now hosted an infestation of slithering maggots.

Great. Just fucking great.

Rubbing her temples, Reyna glanced away. The mid-morning sun penetrated her dark blonde hair, raising sweat bubbles on her scalp and provoking an already short temper. She glared at the uniformed Rangers swarming her crime scene like an army of pissed off ants.

Crime scene. The words sounded odd when paired with Purgatory, Texas – a small retirement community cradled in the rolling hills between San Antonio and Austin. So much for living the quiet life of a small town cop.

Reyna had accepted the position of Peace Officer six months ago after an old army buddy told her about the opening. It wasn’t a seamless hire. The mayor didn’t like her and protested publicly when the town council extended an employment contract. Some said he opposed women in law enforcement. Reyna suspected it had more to do with her contempt for his inflated ego.

In spite of Mayor Townsend’s disapproval, and Reyna’s exasperation with the slower moving senior citizens, she’d been thankful for the job. Purgatory was a much needed antidote for her frayed nerves. A place to hide – and heal. A refuge from the murder and mayhem plaguing her adult life. She’d wished for such a place after being discharged from the army.

But as her drill sergeant used to say, “Wish in one hand and shit in the other, soldier. See which one fills up fastest.” Today was a perfect example of what Reyna had come to expect in life – a handful of shit.

“Where’s the law in this town?”

A teasing voice drifted over her shoulder, eliciting a grudging smile from her tightly sealed lips. Ty Carter. Texas Ranger and eye candy extraordinaire. She turned to greet the detective walking toward her. His crisp khaki shirt and creased slacks appeared immune to the heat and humidity. No man should look that good in uniform.

Ty let out a long, low whistle as he stared at the corpse. “What a way to start the day.”

“You talkin’ to him or me?”

He snickered. “From the look of things, I’d say his day ended long before yours started. Who found him?”

She leaned toward him with a conspiratorial whisper. “Agnes Gaines, who graciously served as tour guide for family and friends before deciding to notify me.”

“That explains the golf carts parked on the side of the road. Looks like a damn old folk’s convention.” A lopsided grin lit up his face as he thrust a cup of coffee into her hand. “Iced Mocha Grande. Figured you could use it.”

Cute. Ty Carter was definitely cute. Ever since the tautly muscled detective first sauntered into her office issuing a cocky introduction and a list of services available through the Texas Rangers, she’d joined the ranks of secret . . . and some not so secret . . . admirers. Logic told her he was way too young, or at least he looked it with boyish dimples aligned perfectly on either side of a too kissable mouth.

Five years separated their ages, but Reyna felt decades older. The war had stolen her innocence. War – and working as a beat cop in one of the toughest, most drug infested neighborhoods of Tulsa, Oklahoma. She’d witnessed horrors most people couldn’t imagine and would never want to see – which left Reyna even more confused about why a bunch of retirees would rush to view a decomposing body.

She took one more look at the stiff carcass and turned away. For once, it was a blessing to detach emotionally, even though her army shrink considered it a debilitating personality trait. Admittedly, Reyna had sandbagged the counseling sessions but only because the good doc displayed a superiority complex the size of Antarctica. Reyna had no use for know-it-alls or prima donas, and the psychiatrist demonstrated a proclivity for both.

Scowling with the memory, she lifted the cup of coffee to her lips and took a sip. The lid loosened, flooding the front of her shirt with a dark, icy stain. Reyna gasped, quickly brushed away what she could of the beverage and launched a mortified glance at the bystanders hovering near the yellow crime scene ribbon. God, I hope nobody saw that.

It was the most people gathered in the city park she could recall since starting her job, proof of what she’d suspected all along – Agnes Gaines was a natural instigator. Political lobbyists would pay big bucks for someone with her skills.

Her gaze settled on a tall stranger standing apart from the crowd. Black hair spiked across his forehead as he stared at her with unnerving intensity. Shark eyes. Dead eyes. Reyna pushed her aviator sunglasses further up her nose, camouflaging her scrutiny with the reflective lens.

Whatcha lookin’ at, mister? You know something I don’t? The hair rose on the back of her neck as he continued to watch her. It was as though he could see right through the sunglasses and into her mind.

Massive shoulders filled his long coat, suggesting he wasn’t from the area – or else a complete idiot. What native Texan would wear a heavy duster in the middle of July? He tilted his head to one side, reinforcing her perception he was a telepath.

You’re one strange son of a bitch. The side of her mouth shifted upwards as he flinched. Damn, maybe he really can read my thoughts. The possibility left her more uncomfortable than ever.

Reyna whirled around and nervously kicked up a cloud of dust with the toe of her boot. Instinct told her the guy was involved in John Doe’s murder and her natural senses seldom steered her wrong. So why was she reluctant to ask the big Neanderthal a few questions? She glanced at Ty flirting with a cute reporter from the Austin Statesman.

Because it’s always better to send a Texas Ranger.

“Hey, Carter, I need some help over here.” He looked up, arched a brow as if to say “your timing sucks” and reluctantly joined her. “Can your team handle the crowd interviews?” He nodded slowly. “Good. Be sure to check out the  . . .” She started to say “creep” but stopped so as not to influence the detective’s opinion. “See if the big guy has an alibi.”

“What big guy?” Ty scanned the faces over her shoulder before donning a quizzical frown.

“The man in the long coat.” She kept her voice low before shifting sideways to raise her arm and point. “He’s gone. Damn it! The guy’s involved in John Doe’s murder. I know it.”

Ty’s mouth twitched. “I’d sure like to enroll in the Reyna Blair Course on Intuitive Crime Scene Investigation. It’d make the process go a lot faster. By the way, Officer, how do you suggest I word my report to say I know someone is a suspect without substantial proof?”

“Shut up.” Her insides jumped at his teasing, sending a splash of color across her cheeks. Reyna quickly hid behind the edge of her cup, praying the lid stayed in place this time.

“I’m done.” The medical examiner stood up, grumbling as his stiff limbs popped and cracked. Removing his gloves, he wiped his hands on a small rag before speaking. “It looks like our man was killed somewhere else and dumped here. No blood around the body. No papers. I found bruising on his wrists which indicates he was restrained before death. Terrible way to go.”

Reyna frowned. Doc’s assessment validated her suspicion it was a ritualistic murder. The weirdo in the long coat looked like he belonged to a Satanic cult so it all fit. “Thanks, Doc. I appreciate your coming out. Purgatory doesn’t have the equipment or manpower to investigate something like this.”

“No problem. The Texas Rangers are always available for helping out. Do you want to be present for the autopsy?”

Her stomach clenched as Reyna shook her head. “Just fax the report. I’ll call if I have questions.”

He nodded then turned to Ty. “You want to examine the body before we transport?”

“Yeah, Doc. Thanks.”

Reyna clamped her mouth shut as a sharp retort rose to her lips. It was her crime scene, damn it, not Ty Carter’s. Rangers always stuck together. If Purgatory had been better prepared to process the crime scene, she’d never have called him. And after seeing the small platoon he brought as an investigative team, she sure as hell wouldn’t do it again.

While Ty searched the victim’s pockets, Reyna wandered to a nearby hedgerow, kicking under the shrubs with her boot. A faded cigarette package, empty beer container, plastic Wal-Mart bag . . . normal trash.

Something glinted in the grass as she turned away. Removing her sunglasses, Reyna knelt for a closer look, parting the Bermuda grass with the tip of her ballpoint pen. A small iridescent ball lay under a low hanging bough. It was larger than a marble, about two inches in diameter with a glassy appearance. The surface was still shiny so it must not have been there long. Probably a kid’s toy, she mused, scooping the object into an evidence bag. If nothing else, she’d keep it on her desk as a gazing ball.

Reyna shoved the bag into her pocket before turning her attention to the attendants unrolling a body bag. She’d witnessed the same procedure with fallen comrades in Iraq. Biting the inside of her lip to block the memories, Reyna averted her gaze. Friendships were usually short lived during the war, but it didn’t make the final goodbye any easier.

Ty nudged her arm. “That man is staring at you. He doesn’t look very happy.”

She whirled around, immediately recognizing the portly figure of Mayor Townsend. With arms crossed petulantly over a round chest, he glared disapproval. His scowl deepened when she refused to acknowledge his presence by looking away.

It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do but Reyna figured the shit was already on the fan. She’d not taken time to consult the town council before requesting a forensic investigation. What was I supposed to do? Sweep the whole thing under a rug and pretend it never happened? It all boiled down to one thing – money. And this investigation would cost the town plenty.

Reyna watched the hearse drive away, wiping a trickle of sweat from her face. The vic didn’t look like a local but it was hard to say. Putrefaction had morphed his features into a grotesque, bloated mask. Hopefully, the autopsy and dental records would produce a name. It was up to her to find a motive.

A sharp pain shot through Reyna’s temple as her vision erupted with bright pinpoints of light. Another migraine. She needed to go . . . now . . . even if it meant leaving Ty in charge.

Pinning a stiff smile to her face, she struggled to conceal her pain. “Let’s finish up and get outta here.”

He nodded. “I’m with you. We’ll meet up later and write the report together.”

“Sure.” Reyna silently vowed to keep Ty Carter away from her notes. Just because he was cute, didn’t mean she trusted him.

Reyna directed her steps toward the parking lot, inwardly groaning as reporters pressed against the yellow ribbon. They jockeyed for position, barking questions as she moved within earshot. This was the part she hated – dealing with the press. It was like running a gauntlet.

Reyna held up a hand, blocking their frantic efforts to elicit information as she pushed through the microphones. “No comment.”

Damn vultures. She clenched her teeth, staring straight ahead while wishing the tables were turned. Would they impose the same pervasive questions if the victim had been a friend or family member?

Reyna hurried to her vehicle, slid across the seat, and slammed the door to silence their shouts. How did they get here so fast? Purgatory was in the middle of nowhere. Surely there was enough crime in their own towns to keep them busy.

“Oh, crap . . .”

She leaned her forehead against the steering wheel and closed her eyes. If John Doe hailed from someplace other than Purgatory, she would have to coordinate efforts with another police department. She didn’t play well with others. Not even Ty. What he lacked in typical Texas Ranger arrogance, he made up for with ambition – which meant he’d do everything in his power to take over the highly publicized murder investigation.

Well, it’s not going to happen. As soon as Doc sends over the autopsy report, I’ll get rid of the good detective . . . and his damn dimples.

Expelling a pent up breath, Reyna sat back and inserted her key into the ignition. She brought the powerful engine to life and backed out of the parking space, carefully maneuvering the SUV around news vans and satellite trucks.

I can’t go back to town.

Her head reverberated with each heartbeat. The thought of reporters camped outside her office left her nauseated. Turning left at the next corner, Reyna guided the vehicle out of town and away from the madness.

Twenty minutes later, she turned off the main road and followed a gravel lane to a small, wood framed farmhouse. It was a rental but came with ten acres of open pasture and no meddling neighbors. After moving in, Reyna considered adopting a dog but quickly changed her mind. Ownership would require full time care, as well as taking responsibility for another life besides her own. She wasn’t up to that kind of commitment yet.

Pushing through the front door, Reyna charted a course toward the bathroom and extracted an orange prescription bottle from the medicine cabinet. The mirrored door swung shut, leaving her to stare at the hollow-eyed woman in the glass. Her thirtieth birthday was less than two weeks away yet she looked much older. Dark blonde hair dangled at the nape of her neck in an unkempt ponytail.  Deep purple circles rimmed her eyes, the result of too many sleepless nights. Too many nightmares.

She shook a couple of pills into the palm of her hand before tossing them to the back of her mouth. Turning her head sideways under the faucet, she washed them down with a gulp of water.

The new prescription seemed to work better than the last one although oddly, she’d been experiencing stomach aches. Still, it was easier to deal with the cramps than a debilitating migraine.

Reyna walked across the hall to her bedroom and fell across the bed. “Five minutes, that’s all I need,” she muttered aloud. “Just five minutes and I’ll be fine.” Consciousness was already fading by the time she closed her eyes.

It was a fitful sleep, filled with images of menacing forms beckoning to her from the shadows. Why wouldn’t they leave her alone? A dim orb floated in her peripheral vision, hovering. Watching. It began to move toward her, casting a warm circle of light that banished the shadows farther into the darkness. She reached out to touch it . . .

“Reyna.”

Oh, God . . . the voices again. No amount of sleep-aid seemed to get rid of them. She moaned and pulled a pillow over her head.

“Reyna.”

Her eyes flew open in a rush of awareness. She jumped from the bed, her hand instinctively reaching for the pistol strapped to her side. Withdrawing it from the holster, she pointed it at the figure in the doorway. Ty leaned against the frame, a broad grin creasing his face.

Her eyes narrowed to slits. “You scared the shit out of me, Carter. What are you doing here?”

“Looking for you. You didn’t answer your cell phone.”

Guilt washed over her as she rolled her eyes and holstered her weapon. “I’m sorry. I left it in my car.” She frowned. “How do you know where I live?”

“I’m a Texas Ranger. I know a lot of things.”

“Yeah, like how to bullshit.” She forced a half smile to her lips before rubbing her temples.

“Another migraine?”

Reyna nodded before quickly adding, “But the new meds are great.” She glanced at the clock on the bedside table. “Geez! I didn’t mean to sleep so long. What’s happening with the investigation?”

“Not much. You were right. Mrs. Gaines played havoc with the crime scene when she escorted her friends around the body. Too many footprints, cigarette butts . . .  I’m sure most of it will track back to your local residents. You should cite her for interfering with a police investigation so she doesn’t do it again.”

Reyna gave a short laugh. “Again? I hope this is Purgatory’s first and last murder. Besides, Agnes is Mayor Townsend’s sister in law. He’s already looking for a way to get rid of me. I don’t want to escalate his efforts.”

“Point taken.” Ty dug his hands into his pockets and stared at the floor. “I’d like to bring in a consultant from Austin, Jasper Holliday. He’s retired from the Texas Rangers but has worked some cult cases. I think it’d be worth our while.”

Reyna jutted her chin defensively. “It’s still my investigation, Detective Carter.”

“I know that, Officer Blair.”

Her heart skipped a beat as Ty stepped closer, tilting her chin with one finger. It was odd staring upward into the deep blue pools studying her face. She was tall. But Ty was taller.  “Don’t mock me,” she sputtered uncomfortably.

“I’m not.” Ty looked as if he wanted to add something but after a long few seconds, diverted the conversation to another topic. “Look, I’m already involved in the investigation and my bosses want answers. Why don’t we work on this together and keep everyone happy?”

“No . . .”

“Care to negotiate over lunch?”

Lunch? Reyna steeled herself against the urge to say “yes” as she pushed past him. “Not today, Ty. I need to check in at the office. Maybe another time.”

“I’ll take a rain check on the lunch but it’s in everyone’s best interest if we present a united front during the investigation. At least for now,” he added as she stiffened.

Reyna ushered him out the door with non-committal small talk and waved goodbye from the porch, not relaxing until she saw his vehicle disappear on the main highway. The effect he had on her was unnerving.

She’d lived a celibate existence for over a year, blaming post-traumatic stress disorder from the war for extinguishing her passion. Not that it was a concern. Reyna had never been keen on intimacy, chalking it up to her troubled teens. One night stands were more her thing. No strings. No commitments.

But then the dreams started. Dark, primal images provoking unwanted longings. Monsters . . . demons . . . formless shadows invading her consciousness and whispering wicked promises in her ear.

Slamming the door, Reyna stalked to the hall table and retrieved her keys. Ty Carter was not the answer to her awakening sexuality. She wasn’t even sure she liked him that much. He could be annoying as hell – like a rambunctious puppy.

But cute. Definitely cute.

Spotlight on: The Wishes Chronicles

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Careful What You Wish For…

The Wishes Chronicles – Book 1

Paula Millhouse

CarefulCover

Genre: Romantic Suspense

ISBN 13: 978-1468029567

Number of pages: 368ASIN: BOO63XNT6K

Word Count: 66K

Cover Artist: Paula Millhouse

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Book Description: 

Author Evie Longfellow wants to stay alive long enough to write her fourth New York Times Best Seller. She accepts a blind date that changes everything sane in her life. Drugged, kidnapped, and horrified Evie escapes and runs for her life with evidence the FBI needs to nail one of their most wanted.

TV Psychologist Dr. Nick Franklin wants to help Evie with her goals. He hides her from a sadistic mafia kingpin, and even though he doesn’t trust his judgment when it comes to the diagnosis of love, he senses Evie may just be the story of his life.

Hit man Tony Aiello plans to do whatever it takes to protect Miss Aida Marino and her Fortune 500 company. He chases Evie and Nick from New York City to the wilds of rural Vermont to recover the stolen evidence threatening to take Miss Aida down, and faces off with evil in a showdown that brings hometown justice to life.

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All Your Wishes…

The Wishes Chronicles – Book 2

Paula Millhouse

WishesCover

Genre: Romantic Suspense/Thriller

ISBN-13: 978-1468069402

ASIN: BOO6HJ72E

Number of pages: 348

Word Count: 61K

Cover Artist: Paula Millhouse

Book Description:

A Christmas Story to warm your heart.

Dr. Nick Franklin finds himself falling hard for the love of his life, Evie Longfellow. Hunted by a mafia princess, Evie’s terrified something’s wrong, and revenge won’t let her rest.

Tia Marino figures the person who killed her father is his last victim – Evie Longfellow – the only one that ever got away from Paulie Marino. Tia plans to kill Evie in front of her grandmother just before she takes Miss Aida’s place as the new queen of Marino Industries. Hostile-takeovers have never seen the likes of Tia.

Nick’s not gonna have it.

He’ll do anything to protect Evie, even if it means aligning himself with Miss Aida’s hit-man, Tony Aiello.

Follow Nick and Evie from their simple home in the winter wonderland of Vermont down to New York City in their race to stay alive, and out of the hands of a new generation of criminals intent on tearing them apart.

ALL YOUR WISHES… Book 2 in THE WISHES CHRONICLES torches up 60,000 words with Romantic Suspense.

Christmas has never been so hot.

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About the Author:

Paula Millhouse grew up in Savannah, Georgia where Spanish moss whispers tales in breezes from the Atlantic Ocean, and the Intracoastal Waterway. As a child Paula soaked in the sunshine and heritage of cobblestones, pirate lore, and stories steeped in savory mysteries of the south.PaulaMillhouse

She’s a member of Romance Writers of America, the Fantasy, Futuristic, & Paranormal Writers specialty chapter, and the KOD Mystery and Suspense Writer’s specialty chapter. She achieved the opportunity to become a member of the distinguished RWA designation of PRO after submitting her first full-length romance novel for publication in 2013.

In the southern tradition of storytellers, she loves sharing the lives of her characters with readers, and following her muse on the quest for happily-ever-afters. She writes fantasy romance and romantic suspense.

She lives with her hero, her husband of twenty-five years at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains with their pack and pride of furry babies.

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In Pursuit of a Good Read? DANGEROUS PURSUIT

Dangerous Pursuit Button 16-23 Tour 300 x 225Review:

Margaret Daley has once again nailed it with fingernail decimating intrigue while romantically tangling two wonderful characters in a fun romp through the jungles of Brazil. DANGEROUS PURSUIT is Book One in her new series, The Protectors . . . and I can’t wait for more!

The chemistry between Samantha Prince, a woman searching for her brother in the wilds of the Amazon, and Brock Slader, the adventurer she hires as a guide, is tangible, fun and well structured, adding just the right amount of spice. Don’t expect steamy, however. The main heat in this tale comes from the climate, not the bed sheets. And that’s okay. I don’t mind a book that builds sexual tension with thoughts and banter instead of descriptive sex if the characters are realistic and the plot holds my attention. DANGEROUS PURSUIT succeeds on both counts.

I was reminded of the movie, “Romancing The Stone”, when I first started reading this book. While there are similarities – as in the bookish heroine who blossoms in a foreign country while being pursued by villains, and the roguish, devil-may-care hero who reluctantly serves as her guardian and ends up losing his heart – DANGEROUS PURSUIT provides enough twists and turns to keep things interesting and fresh.

If you like big adventure or treasure hunting scenarios such as the Indiana Jones movies, you’ll be pleased with DANGEROUS PURSUIT. I don’t believe it’s marketed as Christian romance, but could probably qualify under that genre. I prefer to think of it as a rollicking romantic suspense. Margaret Daley has written 84 books and earned a legion of fans along the way. I think her record speaks for itself.

Read DANGEROUS PURSUIT. You’ll be glad you did.

Dangerous Pursuit

The Protectors, Book One

Margaret Daley 

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Dangerous_Pursuit_small

ISBN: 9781301248940
ASIN: B00E7HNG6M
BN ID: 2940148824664

Number of pages: 172
Word Count: 59,000 words

Cover Artist: Laura Marie Altom

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Book Description:

Reading about danger never prepared Samantha Prince for the desperate phone call from her brother in Brazil that sent her from the safety of her New Orleans bookstore into the rugged, inhospitable Amazon in search of him and a hidden treasure. And reading about romance never prepared Samantha to resist the mysterious appeal of Brock Slader, a guide she hired to help her in her quest.

Alone with Brock in an alien world of orchids and anacondas, primitive headhunters and very up-to-date gunmen, she struggles to keep their relationship strictly business. Will Samantha survive the dangers in the jungle only to have her heart broken by a man who lives on the edge—no strings attached?

Excerpt:

“Don’t worry. You won’t have an hysterical woman on your hands. I don’t go in for that.” Samantha’s voice held none of the confidence she wanted. She told herself that it was the humidity and strangeness of the jungle city. But in truth all her senses converged on the touch of Brock’s hand on her arm, his fingers a tantalizing combination of rough and gentle.

Brock released his hold on her but didn’t move away. He was only inches from her, his male scent mingling with the potent odors of the tropics carried on the moisture-laden breeze. The noise of Manaus surrounded them, but all Samantha could hear was the loud pounding of her heart that filled her ears.

“I knew a man who disappeared about six months back without a trace. There are a lot of stories like that, Miss Prince.”

“I’m sure there are, but I’ll find Mark. I would know if something had happened to him.”

The warm gleam in his eyes that made them appear almost silver was gone, replaced by a serious look that turned his gaze a dark gray like storm clouds. “It will be worse if you discover nothing.”

“Worse?”

“The jungle has a way of swallowing people up. You may never find out what’s happened to your brother. You may spend the rest of your life hoping for something that won’t happen.”

The thought sent a chill down her spine, in spite of the heat. “What has made you so cynical?”

“Reality,” he said in a clipped voice, his expression suddenly very closed. His stance forbade further discussion of the subject.

Samantha took a step back, trying to distance herself from his very masculine presence. “Are you saying I should hope to find my brother dead rather than not at all?”

Brock’s mouth thinned. His eyes narrowed. He didn’t need this. Why was he even standing here with her. His common sense told him it was dangerous to become involved with Samantha Prince and her quest. He needed to keep his distance. She reminded him of all the things he had left behind in the States: security, normalcy, order.

But looking at Samantha Prince at that moment stirred something in him he didn’t need or want—a protective instinct. Wisps of her fiery hair had escaped her bun and framed her face. Not a beautiful face by most people’s standards but definitely intriguing, he decided as his gaze took in the angry tilt of her head, the glint in her sherry-colored eyes, the frown on her full lips, the sprinkle of freckles on her upturned nose.


About the Author:

Margaret Daley, an award-winning author of eighty-four books, has been married for over forty years and is a firm believer in romance and love.

When she isn’t traveling, she’s writing love stories, often with a suspense thread and corralling her three cats that think they rule her household.

To find out more about Margaret visit her website at http://www.margaretdaley.com.

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Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/MargaretDaley