Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Book Blitz & Giveaway: The Accidental Sereph (Carran Hollow Fated Mate< #1) by Maci Aurora

The Accidental Sereph
Maci Aurora
(Carran Hollow Fated Mate, #1)
Publication date: June 25th 2024
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

When Atlas Black, a bad boy with a reputation in Carran Hollow, walks into The Hole-in-the-Wall bar investigating a demon sighting, it’s mostly business as usual until he comes face-to-face with his calix—his fated-mate. Except Ivy Day, oblivious to the world of seraphs and demons, thinks she’s stranded in Carran Hollow because a stupid bus has broken down. She just needs a ride to get to the next bus in order to get to her sister across the country. While the guy in the bar hitting on her is hotter than any human has the right to be, unless he’ll give her a lift, she doesn’t have any patience for anything else. But little does she know, Atlas is about to take her on the ride of her life—that is, as long as they can get through the demons.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

[Rome] pulls his phone from his pocket and glances at it. “Bus coming into the Hollow.”

Samson and I groan. Buses mean tourists. Obnoxious tourists drag in the demon riff-raff hiding among them, and they aren’t usually the organized kind, but rather the fledgling demons or the deserters attached to the taedae, unsighted humans.

“Not it,” Samson says.

“How’s that injury?” Rome asks me.

“Not an injury,” I repeat. “How many times do I have to say it?”

Rome looks me over, eyes narrowed, as if he can see beyond my skin and bones. “Fine,” he relents. “You go into town. Wait for the bus to roll in, see if any demons have hitched a ride.” He points at me. “But don’t engage, not without backup.”

I’m already walking over to the cabinet, pulling on my harness, sliding a sharpened dagger into a sheath, along with another into my boot. “Me? Engage?” I glance at my bow but leave it, knowing I probably won’t need it. Those off the bus are rarely difficult to dispatch. I glance at Rome with a smile. “Never.”

Samson laughs.

I shrug into my black leather jacket and grab my helmet before I’m out the door, headed for the heart of town. After driving past Lowry’s Gas and Sundries, where the bus stops, and seeing the hulking, metal can is already empty, I ride down Main. I park my bike, cross to the other side, and duck into The Hole in the Wall, a small bar sandwiched between a diner called The Getaway, and a witchy souvenir shop that sells Carran Hollow guidebooks. One of these three establishments is often the first stop for tourists, and thereby their parasitic demons, when they reach town.

My eyes adjust to the dark. There’s an older guy playing guitar near the door. The shiny wooden bar is on the left and runs the length of the room. There are a few people lined up along the counter, atop barstools. Booths—mostly empty—line the right wall, and in between is a stretch of space big enough to walk between the two. I’ve been here before. I have been in every single shop in Carran Hollow, every single home—though the owners haven’t known I was there. The Hollow is my town.

The locals glance at me then look away, giving me a wide berth. They might know me. They might know I’m a Black. If they don’t, they feel it—that sensation skittering across their skin telling them danger is near. That’s all that’s needed.

Author Bio:

Romance author.

Lover of stories.

Maci Aurora has been writing stories since she was a child. When she was eleven, she fell in love with reading Sunfire Historical Romances about girls who made a difference in their lives and still fell in love. In high school, a friend introduced her to Lavyrle Spencer and Judith McNaught, and from there, her writing journey was cemented in telling stories about love. Having already published many novels (all of which are threaded with romance as upper YA and New Adult titles) under the pen name, CL Walters, Maci Aurora wanted to write stories that offered the same attention to story and characters but with additional steam.

Maci writes in Hawaiʻi where she lives with her husband, their children, and their fur-babies.

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Monday, June 24, 2024

Review Tour & Giveaway: Threat (The City of the Magicians, #1) by Peter Gribble


THREAT
The City of the Magicians, Book One
by
Peter Gribble

Fantasy
Publisher: Tellwell Talent
Publication Date: November 18, 2020
Page count: 314 pages

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SYNOPSIS:

"A Journey Without Departure" is the traditional term for a telepathic sending. It is a talent few can perform yet this is the strategy the City of the Magicians—non-violent pacifists, without army or weapons—hopes will mitigate the barbarian invasion coming in six months. The plan could work, but then maybe not. Sas, the young man chosen to "educate the barbarian," can only think, Me? Sendings? They've made a mistake!

Lalya, a City librarian searching for her dead lover's vanished manuscript, is ensnared by a secret society planning to collaborate with the same barbarians. Attempts to extricate herself from the blackmail, double-dealing, seduction and betrayal force her to realize her final treachery could very well destroy her.

Shoan, the Council strategist, is fully aware a shadowy opposition lurks behind the scenes but is stymied how to lure it out into the open. He should remember one of the basic axioms of tactics is, "Methodology is seldom prepared for surprises."Both Sas and Lalya are pawns in the strategies of others... yet it only takes a pawn to change the game.

Threat, the first book in The City of the Magicians series, reveals all the preparations for a barbarian arrival, but when strategies collide, will anyone be ready? Will anyone be safe?

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Get the rest of the books in “The City of Magicians" series on Amazon!

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ENJOY AN EXCERPT:
“Choose!”
 
Naked and surrounded by cowled, robed figures, Lalya knew there was no choice.
 
Choice vanished two years ago after Jumeyat disappeared. She had waited hours for him to show up in Pilgrims Park where they had met a month earlier, but he never came. First-love’s anguish soared to alarm and, once home, she walked her room until her father, Kseyad, demanded from outside her doors, “What are you sickening after?”
 
“Nothing.” 

Next morning, she slipped down into the outer City to find out what she could without alerting the gossips. Kseyad would never approve of Jumeyat as her potential companion, for his inability to shore up the Family fortunes. 

Jumeyat lived in a rickety pilgrim’s house north of the Break in the Wall. The lady proprietress admitted she had not seen him for days, and thought his absence odd given his quiet, regular habits and the few belongings still in his room. She was mostly concerned about the unpaid rent for the waning half of the month. 

At different times over following days, Lalya paid additional Calls. 

“Back again? Not seen him. You must’ve been companions,” the landlady insisted.


REVIEW:
4 stars!

Intricate world-building and an intriguing tale of magic and geopolitical threat. 

Threat is the first book in author Peter Gribble’s epic fantasy series, The City of the Magicians. I enjoy fantasy tales, in general, and I really like it when multiple storylines unfold featuring engaging characters with distinct voices and plot trajectories before merging. This book does just this while the author slowly reveals the immensity and grandeur of the fantasy world he’s envisioned for us. 

Young partial Deliberator Sas quickly became my favorite character, and Lalya came in a close second, though they are as different as night and day. However, both begin their stories in a state of naivete, learning quickly from those around them who manipulate events to fit their own agendas. I truly enjoyed the unique concept of “the sending, the journey without departure,” and was worried about the toll it exacts on those involved. 

The author has developed an amazingly complex world, and readers are dropped right into the middle of a fully formed society with little exposition. This immediate immersion in such an unfamiliar setting may not be for everyone; it made reading difficult for me initially. The characters’ names are foreign, the dialogue contains strange new words, and the location is completely unfamiliar; there are few comfortable anchors to help readers gain their footing. However, repeated use of unfamiliar terminology in context soon eased the feeling of being off-balance, and I was able to get into the story and its unfolding intrigue and impending threat. 

I don’t know if I can ever do justice to the author’s amazing creativity in giving readers such a complex and fully formed world right from the start. This imaginary culture is robust and multilayered, with an extensive history and long-hidden literature of the arcane. There were often FOOTNOTES that CITED these ancient tomes: titles, authors, and all. I soon became invested in what would happen to these very likable characters, and the pace of the story naturally picked up as they, and others, became familiar to me. I was compelled to keep reading to find out how their separate stories would eventually converge and resolve. However, at the tale’s end, there is still a lot of story yet to be told. 

I recommend THREAT to fantasy readers looking for something fresh and different and, perhaps, a little more challenging. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Peter Gribble studied art at Sheridan and psychology at U of T. He has written for NUVO and other publications in British Columbia, including gardening columns for two journals for over ten years.

To find out more about Peter’s exciting book series visit www.petergribble.com.


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Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway: The Garden Girls (FBI: Strange Crimes Unit, #3) by Jessica R. Patch

The Garden Girls by Jessica R. Patch Banner

THE GARDEN GIRLS

by Jessica R. Patch

June 24 - July 19, 2024 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

The Garden Girls by Jessica R. Patch

FBI: Strange Crimes Unit 

On a remote Outer Banks island, a serial killer collects his prized specimens. And to stop him, an FBI agent must confront his own twisted past.

FBI agent Tiberius Granger has seen his share of darkness. But a new case sets him on edge. It’s not just the macabre way both victims—found posed in front of lighthouses—are tattooed with flowers that match their names. There’s also the unsettling connection to the woman Ty once loved and to the shadowy cult they both risked everything to escape.

Bexley Hemmingway’s sister has gone missing, and she’ll do anything to find her—including teaming up with Ty. That may prove a mistake, and not just because Ty doesn’t know he’s the father of her teenaged son. It seems the killer is taunting Ty, drawing everyone close to him into deeper danger.

As the slashing winds and rain of a deadly hurricane approach the coast of North Carolina, the search leads Ty and Bex to an island that hides a grisly secret. But in his quest for the truth, Ty has ignored the fact that this time, he’s not just the hunter. Every move has been orchestrated by a killer into a perfect storm of terror, and they will need all their skills to survive…

Praise for The Garden Girls:

"A perfect storm of thrilling suspense and intricate plot twists that will leave readers breathless!"
~ Nancy Mehl, author of the Ryland & St. Clair series

"The Garden Girls by Jessica R. Patch is a hold-your-breath-and-pray novel full of suspense and unexpected twists. This gritty and compelling story is outstanding in every way. Highly recommended!"
~ Colleen Coble, USA Today bestselling author

"In a word, WOW! The story caught me up and didn’t let go to the final page. Tight action, beautiful pacing. **Highly Recommended**"
~ Carrie Stuart Parks, best-selling, award-winning author

"'Riveting!' Jessica R. Patch has created an immaculate psychological thriller that will leave the reader racing through the pages. Well-written characters and a plot that sizzles and crackles with danger made this story impossible for me to put down, and yet I didn’t want it to end. . .it’s that good. The Garden Girls will leave you breathless from the non-stop suspense filling the pages and wanting more from this amazing author"
~ USA Today Bestselling Author Mary Alford, author of Among the Innocent

"Buckle your seatbelt! Jessica R. Patch is about to blow you off the road with The Garden Girls. The story will grab you on the first page and won’t let go until The End!"
~ Patricia Bradley, USA Today Best-Selling romantic suspense author of Counter Attack Book 1 in the Pearl River Series

Book Details:

Genre: Christian Psychological Thriller
Published by: Love Inspired Trade
Publication Date: April 23, 2024
Number of Pages: 367
ISBN: 9781335463074 (ISBN10: 1335463070)
Series: FBI: Strange Crimes Unit, Book 3 || Each is a Stand-Alone Novel
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads | Harlequin | JessicaRPatch.com

Read an excerpt:

Prologue

Sharp claws scrape along my neck.

Back and forth.

Back and forth.

Buzzing fills the room, and I strain to open my eyes but they’re like molasses, thick and sticky and slow-moving. My stomach jumps and the room shifts as my blurred vision registers red walls and coffee-colored concrete. I inhale a hint of bleach and incense with a spicy note as I shift to survey the rest of the room, but my muscles ripple like languid water.

The air-conditioner kicks on, and the cold air raises chills across my naked body.

I’m…naked. A fist squeezes my lungs as panic rips through my system. My memories are disjointed.

Where am I? How did I arrive here?

What is happening to me? What has already happened? Shoe soles click on the floor and silence my questions.

I am not alone. Or…I wasn’t. The door closes with a quiet click.

Get up. Move. Run!

Gripping the sides of a massage table, I roll off, and my bare feet hit cool flooring. The walls close in and shift, and my stomach roils. Something is wrong. Off.

Floor-to-ceiling mirrors cover an entire wall, and my breath catches as reality comes into view.

Pink flower buds wend through a vine of black along my neck and upper back.

Confusion clouds my senses, and I stand cemented in place gawking at the angry red skin, sore and tender and smeared with glossy petroleum jelly.

A tight knot grows in my throat, and tears stab with heated force against the backs of my eyes.

I have to get out of here.

Behind me, I spot a twin bed with luxurious sheets and a thick white comforter as well as tattooing equipment. My hands tremble. Am I in a tattoo parlor? Why is a bed in here?

Lying on the floor next to the bed is an old iron cuff attached to a thick, heavy chain that is anchored to the wall.

Why is that in here and where are my clothes?

I snatch the downy comforter and drape it over my exposed body.

Run. Run. Run!

I open the door but have no clue which way to go or where he is or how long until he finds and cuffs me to that bed.

I’ve been trapped before at the hands of a vicious predator. Old memories surface and spur me across the carpeted flooring. The hall veers left. My eyes begin to adjust to the darkness as I flee to safety—no.

To a dead end.

Defeat leaches like muddy water into my soul, and my chest aches. The only choice is to turn around.

But he’s in that direction.

Sweat slicks down my temples and spine, springing up through my pores like an underground fountain as I return the way I came.

I see what might be a crack in the wall. Light seeps in from the other side. As I approach, I discover it’s a door made to look like part of the wall. I swallow hard and guide my fingers along the smooth wood until I feel a lever. I push it and the door releases, but it takes some grit to open it enough for me to slide through.

I expect some kind of lair or dungeon or God knows what—a wall with torture devices and cages—but it’s not.

It’s a living room with wall-to-wall windows overlooking dark water.

Where is he?

I suck in a breath as creaking registers on the stairs. There’s nowhere to hide, and the comforter is bulky and will easily give me away. I have no option but to ditch it in the corner. I can’t dwell on modesty.

Outside.

I dart toward the sliding glass door, silently slide it open and slip out into the warm night air before scrambling to the edge of the balcony. I crouch to make myself small, like when I was a child and needed to obscure myself.

Maybe he doesn’t realize I’m gone, but then it hits me.

I didn’t shut the secret door concealing the other rooms.

A sob bubbles to the surface as I shake uncontrollably like I’ve woken from anesthesia. The ground is far below me. I’d die or break my legs, maybe my spine. But I’d rather die than go back to that room.

To that chain.

To more tattoo needles.

To him.

I draw up my knees and wait, pray. Hope.

When the door doesn’t open, I scoot across the deck, the raw wood digging into tender flesh, but I need to see if the coast is clear.

What if he’s standing at the door, waiting? Watching?

I hear something and freeze.

One Mississippi. Two Mississippi…I count silently until I reach Twenty Mississippi and scoot again.

I can’t be sure if he’s nearby. If he is, deep in the marrow of my bones, I know the kinds of things that await me. I know what evil men can do. I’ve seen it. Experienced it.

Finally, I muster the courage to peep through the door. The room is empty and dimly lit from the one glowing lamp. I creep inside; my brain is fuzzy and spins.

No footsteps. Only bulging shadows in the corners.

I slither across the Berber carpet and inhale the newness. A set of stairs is on the other side of the open living concept. About ten feet of space isn’t occupied with furniture which means when I make a run for it, and he enters the room, I’ll have no cover.

If he doesn’t and I make it downstairs, he could still be waiting for me.

I try to form a defense plan, but my brain might as well be sludge. Making my move, more out of my flight response than logic, I army-crawl across the open space to the stairs.

Two sets of six. I practically roll down the first set and pause.

He’s not there at the small landing.

Six more to go.

This time I move slower, ignoring the adrenaline shouting sprint. I can’t. He could be waiting and I need to listen.

One…two…three…four…five…six. I pause again at the bottom of the stairs.

No light befriends me on the ground floor. Only darkness—and darkness is never a friend. Darkness is deceptive, offering false security. Nothing good transpires in darkness. It’s not a refuge to hide. But a place to be found. In the dark, I can’t see my predator, but I know he’s lurking.

The door is five feet away to freedom, and I sprint for it.

Hope blooms in my chest.

I mutter a prayer as I run. Three feet left.

Two.

Thank God, I’m here. I twist the knob.

It’s locked.

A cry cracks loose inside me, but I hold it down and fumble with the dead bolt.

Shuffling sounds across tile.

Closer. Closer.

I manage to turn the dead bolt and pull on the door, but it sticks.

He’s coming. The clicks are methodic, slow and measured as if he’s in no hurry. Like he knows I can’t escape. It’s a game.

Please. Please. Come on!

The door opens and I slip out, forcing myself to stay calm in case my mind is playing tricks on me and it’s not him. This time, I make sure to close the door behind me. The air is balmy and the wind rustles through the grass.

The briny sea air washes over my tongue and the marsh grass swishes as I dart down a private boardwalk that leads…I don’t know where. I only know to run and eat up the ground and create distance between me and the house of horror. Between me and him.

Thick walls of clouds block the moonlight.

A door slams. Then I hear something.

Thwupt. Thwupt. Thwupt.

He’s dragging something across the boardwalk. I dare not turn to look.

He’s coming.

Slow and methodical. Silent. Only the awful dragging noise.

Nothing comes into view but marshland and water surrounded by clusters of trees. Alligators lie in wait. I can’t remember how I know this. There are snakes and snapping turtles too.

But he’s behind me.

Plopping noises in the water draw my attention, and I freeze. What is it? Will it approach me or prey on me if I enter too?

I can’t risk staying on the boardwalk. I ease myself into the icy depths and it steals my breath. Slime oozes over my feet, and I sink into mire. Murky water reaches my waist, sending a shock along my abdomen, but I can’t gasp. Instead, I push through the grass and hope the stirring due to my movement won’t alert him of my location.

Sharp twigs and rocks gouge into the bottom of my feet, and I crunch my bottom lip to keep from crying. Marsh grass appears soft at a glance, but it’s strong and sharp like knitting needles and stabs into my flesh and tender places where I’ve been tattooed in flowers.

Ahead is a patch of dense trees that would conceal me even in daylight. A huge splash sends ripples only a few feet away, startling resting birds to flight. Now I know what’s been causing the dragging noise.

A canoe.

He’s cutting through the narrow channels and at an advantage.

I can’t stop now. I push through the mud, which tries to hold me captive, and toward the dense thicket of trees. I finagle my way inside, but it’s like camping in a thorn bush, and nettles rip my flesh. A quiet cry escapes my throat, and I cover my mouth.

Did he hear me? Does he know I’m here?

I shiver in the water, my teeth chattering as something lightweight drops onto the crown of my head and skitters into the thick layers before I can catch it.

I squeeze my eyes shut and clench my jaw to muffle a scream. What hideous legged creature is creeping through my hair?

What swims unseen below my waist?

Plop. Plop. Plop.

Fish, alligators, snakes…him?

“Daaaah, daaaah, dah daaaah,” his rich buttery tone sings. It echoes through the wetland and sweeps over my skin like icy talons. “I’ve got all night,” he continues singing. “I’ll take my time.” I cup my hands over my mouth to silence my chattering teeth. He’s close. So close. “I’ll find you. There’s nowhere to hide,” he belts out as if we’re in a Broadway show. His voice is magical and terrifying. “You belong to meeeee…You want only meee…”

I can’t stay here. He’ll find me. I work as silently as possible out of the thicket and away from the concentration of his voice. I hoist myself onto the wooden boardwalk because he believes I’m in the water. Rushing is out of the question. He’ll hear my footfalls. Slow and steady is about all I can muster anyway. My legs might as well be licorice sticks.

He’s still singing and slicing an oar through the water as I forge ahead, quickening my steps by a small measure until I finally reach the end of the boardwalk and am on dry ground. In the woods.

The woods mean I’ll find a road at the clearing. Help will drive by, and I’ll flag it down to freedom.

I wait a beat while my eyes adjust to greater darkness. The trees loom overhead, and the ground is mushy and mixed with sand. I stub my toe, tripping over roots jutting out, but press on. There’s a path and I follow it. Bike path maybe?

My feet are cut and bleeding and my head pounds. The path curves, then straightens out, and I halt.

Not a road.

Not freedom.

Before me is a long stretch of beach littered with driftwood and shells that cut into my feet. Beyond the beach is the endless sea. No homes. Only wetland to my back and the sea everywhere else.

I have no boat. No canoe. Nothing to propel me to freedom.

I’m on a private island, and I finally remember how I arrived.

***

Excerpt from The Garden Girls by Jessica R. Patch. Copyright 2024 by Jessica R. Patch. Reproduced with permission from Jessica R. Patch. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Guest Post:

Please welcome to the blog Jessica R. Patch, the author of today’s featured book, The Garden Girls, to reveal her philosophy behind writing thrillers.

Guest Blog Post
by Jessica R. Patch

“A GLIMPSE INTO THE WORLD PROVES THAT HORROR IS NOTHING OTHER THAN REALITY.” 
~ Alfred Hitchcock

 Dark and twisty thrillers are my jam, but I don’t leave readers in a puddle of pain and hopelessness. I love this quote because I believe what makes a book suspenseful and scary isn’t the Aliens or unrealistic horrors, but the ones that are found often in reality, things that could knock on any of our doors at any time. 

When a thriller is set against a backdrop of darkness, and then that darkness is very much reality or could be in your own life, the light that shines—the hope that scoops up the character for a better reality—shines the brightest. 

In my books, I peer into the world from an overall Christian worldview and that means hope and redemption. It means God working all things out for good for those who trust Him. You can trust that I won’t leave readers in shock (in a disturbing way but the twists are coming so be ready to drop your jaw) or depressed because there was no justice, no hope, nothing good that came out of such horrors. I can’t do that because I don’t believe that. I believe there is hope in Jesus for everyone, and I pen it realistically and organically and sometimes simply symbolically in the books I write. The Garden Girls reveals evil masquerading as an angel of light. He binds and imprisons after enticing and alluring his victims. But there’s hope for rescue! And the same can be said of us too.


Author Bio:

Jessica R. Patch

Publishers Weekly Bestselling Author, Jessica R. Patch is known for her dry wit and signature twists whether she’s penned a romantic suspense, a cold case thriller, or a small-town romance. When she’s not getting into fictional mischief with her characters, you can find her cozy on the couch in her mid-south home reading books by some of her favorite authors, watching movies with her family, and collecting recipes to amazing dishes she’ll probably never cook. Sign up for her newsletter "Patched In" at www.jessicarpatch.com and receive a FREE short thriller exclusive to subscribers. Jessica is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Management.

Catch Up With Jessica R. Patch:
www.jessicarpatch.com
Goodreads - @JessicaRPatch
BookBub - @JessicaRPatch
Instagram - @JessicaRPatch
Threads - @JessicaRPatch
Twitter/X - @JessicaRPatch
Facebook - @JessicaRPatch
TikTok - @readjessicarpatch

 

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and opportunities to WIN in the giveaway!

 

 

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This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Jessica R. Patch. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

 

 

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Release Blitz & Giveaway: The Ocean Hugs Hard by Eric Avedissian


The Ocean Hugs Hard
by
Eric Avedissian

Horror / Mystery
Publisher: Shadow Spark Publishing
Publication Date: June 24, 2024
Page count: 336 pages

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SYNOPSIS:

Surfside City, New Jersey. 1966. Cub reporter Harman Bass is cutting his teeth in the fast world of local journalism and getting out-scooped by the competition. Facetious, cocky, and always quoting Nietzsche, Harman isn’t making any friends both in and out of the newsroom.

All that changes when the daughter of a prominent family is found dead on the beach, handing Harman the juiciest news story of the year. But she wasn’t any old beauty pageant queen; she was his high school girlfriend. Harman’s dogged reporting into the young woman’s death reveals pushback from the authorities and pulls the newshound into the resort’s darkest corners.

After one of his sources is murdered, the routine story becomes dangerous and personal. Something watches Harman from the shadows, something ancient and hungry, worshipped by powerful men who kill to keep their secrets. Harman’s job and life are soon threatened, and the once brash reporter must battle his boss, rival journalists, and his own sanity before filing what could be his last story.

THE OCEAN HUGS HARD is a mystery with the salty whiff of the ocean, a tinge of nostalgia, and a dollop of mind-shattering eldritch horror.

CLICK TO PURCHASE!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

ERIC AVEDISSIAN is an adjunct professor and speculative fiction author. His published work includes the novels Accursed Son, Mr. Penny-Farthing, Midnight at Bat Hollow, and the role-playing game Ravaged Earth. His short stories appear in various anthologies, including Across the Universe, Great Wars, and Rituals & Grimoires. Avedissian received a 2024 Fellowship in Prose from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and a ridiculous number of books. Find him online at www.ericavedissian.com if you dare.



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RABT Book Tours & PR

Friday, June 21, 2024

Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway: Framed for Murder (Pine Cove Mystery, #1) by Marla A. White

Framed For Murder
A Pine Cove Mystery
by
Marla A. White

Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting - California
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
Publication Date: June 17, 2024
Print length: 284 pages
Digital ASIN: B0D18C415T

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SYNOPSIS:

 

After a life-changing injury, Mel O’Rourke trades in her badge for bed sheets, running a B & B in the quirky mountain town of Pine Cove. Her peaceful life is interrupted when an old frenemy, the notorious and charismatic cat burglar, Poppy Phillips, shows up on her doorstep, claiming she’s been framed for murder. While she’s broken plenty of laws, Mel knows she’d never kill anyone. Good thing she’s a better detective than she is a cook as she sets out to prove Poppy's innocence.

The situation gets complicated, however, when the ruggedly handsome Deputy Sheriff Gregg Marks flirts with Mel, bringing him dangerously close to the criminal she’s hiding. And just when her friendship with café owner Jackson Thibodeaux blossoms into something more, he’s offered the opportunity of a lifetime in New Orleans. Should she encourage him to go, or ask him to stay? Who knew romance could be just as hard to solve as murder?

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GUEST POST:

Today I'm very excited to welcome Marla A. White, the author of FRAMED FOR MURDER to the blog to discuss cozy settings.

Welcome to Pine Cove - A Cozy Destination
by Marla A. White

If you’re a fan of cozy mysteries, you know they’re typically set in a small town. Somewhere quaint where, like Cheers, everybody knows your name. The Thursday Murder Club is set in the confined space of a British old folks’ home. Miss Marple lived the small village of St. Mary Mead. Jeffrey Allen’s Stay at Home Dad series is set in a small Texas town, and on and on. I’ve often wondered why that is. Can amateur detectives only investigate in small towns without worrying about destroying evidence or getting caught by the police, unlike in real life?

Pine Cove, the setting for “Frame for Murder”, is no exception. Inspired by the actual town of Idyllwild, California, Pine Cove has one major street that is actually a large circle. You can walk the entire town but trust me, as someone who meant to take a two-minute walk down North Circle Drive and wound up spending forty-five minutes on South Circle drive, it’s not easy. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited to be a mentor at a writing retreat in Idyllwild for the past eight years, and it was love at first sight. The rooms at the first inn I stayed at had themes. One was something like “The Nest” and it had a ton of bird themed prints and light fixtures. One was “Camp” which included a canoe shaped bookshelf. Later I stayed in a room at the inn that became the inspiration for The Babbling Brook Bed-And-Breakfast. That room had a tiny balcony where I could hear the rushing waters from the brook behind the place. The inn is very bear themed, with more cabins than attached rooms with names like Papa Bear or The Owl’s Nest. 

More than the accommodations, the town is almost at the top of a mountain surrounded by breathtaking peaks and pine forest. There’s one movie theatre in town, a gift shop that has a giant cowboy hat—and I mean giant—over its door and a totem pole-like carving in the center of town. There’s even a house that looks like a 1960s era flying saucer in bright yellow, but that’s for another book. 

Inspired by Idyllwild’s artsy, independent, small-town vibe, you won’t find a Starbucks, McDonalds, or even a CVS in my fictional Pine Cove. There are just Mom-and-Pop shops with delightfully quirky selections. That’s a tough adjustment for my main character, Mel O’Rourke. A recent transplant from Los Angeles, she doesn’t know how to navigate the small town without a “how to” guide. In L.A., you just know Pink’s is the place to get a hot dog because everyone knows that. You know to go to Porto’s for potato balls because it’s like we’re a hive mind, you just do. Disconnected from her network and naturally a little reserved, she’s at a loss about how to know things. Then in walks Poppy. 

Poppy Phillips doesn’t even know the meaning of the word “reserved” and there’s nothing she likes better than talking to people. She chats with the ironically named Tom Horton, a guest at the inn, and finds out the Pastry Village has amazing crullers. Need a manicure? She heard from the florist the best place to go. Poppy will talk to anyone and everyone, which is an odd trait for a wanted cat burglar known as “The Ghost”, but that’s Poppy, always making up her own rules. She tells Mel, “I appreciate Officer O’Rourke kept a keen eye out, but civilian Mel needs to quit seeing suspects and start finding neighbors and friends.”

After she finds out who really killed Kyle Lane and framed Poppy for his murder. And it better be soon. Deputy Sheriff Gregg Marks keeps dropping by to compete with Jackson Thibodeaux for Mel’s affection, but it’s only a matter of time before he figures out the identity of her new assistant.

   

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 
Marla White is an award-winning novelist who prefers killing people who annoy her on paper rather than in real life. Her first full-length mystery novel, “Cause for Elimination,” placed in several contests including Killer Nashville, The RONE Awards, The Reader’s Favorite, and finishing second in the Orange County Romance Writers for Romantic Suspense. Originally from Oklahoma, she lived in a lot of other states before settling down in Los Angeles to work in the television industry. She currently teaches at UCLA Extension and gives seminars about the art of script coverage. When she’s not working on the next book, she’s out in the garden, hiking, cheering on the LA Kings, or discovering new craft cocktails.

Fun facts Something readers might find interesting about this book:

The quirky Babbling Brook Bed-and-Breakfast is loosely inspired by the Silver Pines Lodge in Idyllwild. Highly recommend staying there if you’re even in that neck of the woods.

A fact about me that readers might find interesting:

I share Mel’s nearly debilitating fear of heights. Well, not to the same extent, I can climb a set of stairs, but looking down more than a few flights? No way 😀

There’s a scene where Mel does a singing bowl session. I’ve done that and honestly, it’s pretty cool!

I accomplished the dream of becoming a published writer in my late fifties after helping other writers craft their stories for thirty years.


TOUR PARTICIPANTS:

June 17 – Mystery, Thrillers, and Suspense – SPOTLIGHT
June 17 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
June 18 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
June 18 – Maureen's Musings – SPOTLIGHT
June 19 – Christy's Cozy Corners – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST
June 19 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
June 20 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
June 20 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR GUEST POST
June 21 – Book Club Librarian – REVIEW
June 21 – Guatemala Paula Loves to Read – AUTHOR GUEST POST
June 22 – Baroness Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT
June 22 – Sapphyria's Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
June 23 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
June 24 – Sarah Can't Stop Reading – REVIEW
June 25 – Elizabeth McKenna - Author – SPOTLIGHT
June 25 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
June 26 – Novels Alive – REVIEW
June 27 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
June 27 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
June 28 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
June 29 – StoreyBook Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST
June 30 - Boys' Mom Reads! – REVIEW


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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Review Tour & Giveaway: Tangerine Marmalade Murder (Luscious Delights Mystery, #3) by Meg Benjamin


TANGERINE MARMALADE MURDER
A Luscious Delights Mystery
by
Meg Benjamin


Cozy Mystery
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
Publication Date: June 10, 2024
Page count: 250 pages

SCROLL DOWN FOR GIVEAWAY!

SYNOPSIS:

When a stranger is murdered near Roxy Constantine’s farm, she’s sure it has nothing to do with her. But the investigation turns up surprising links to Roxy’s past. As if that weren’t enough, Roxy’s quarreling with her Significant Other, Nate Robicheaux, and facing a possible break-up. Just when the stress begins to ease, the murderer strikes again, sending Nate to the hospital. Now Roxy needs to figure out the link between the Constantine Farm and a blackmailer before she becomes the killer’s next target.

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READ AN EXCERPT:

We settled down at the dinner table for some general conversation about the Merchants Association, blueberry jam, and just how much snow we were likely to get from the latest storm, which was still stalled somewhere on the Western Slope. I’d just gotten up to see what ice cream I had in the freezer when someone hammered on my door. 

Herman whimpered, and Uncle Mike pushed himself up from the table. “What the hell?” 

I started for the door, where the hammering was still going on, but Uncle Mike grabbed my arm. “Let me open it. You hold onto Herman.” 

That was a good idea, since Herman had moved from whimpering to growling along with stalking toward the door as if he’d actually protect us. In fact, it was more likely we’d protect him, but I wouldn’t tell him that. 

Uncle Mike threw open the door. “What the hell…” he started, then paused. “Donnie?” 

I moved closer to the open door and saw Donnie McCray, Dolce’s dad and Uncle Mike’s foreman, standing on my doorstep. He’s a big man, but right then he looked like he was ready to collapse. “Come inside.” I grabbed his arm. “Sit down. What’s wrong? Are you hurt?” 

Donnie dropped onto my couch, gasping. “There’s a woman,” he began and then stopped to catch his breath. 

“What woman?” Uncle Mike said. “Where?” 

“Up by the road. In a car.” Donnie gasped again, and I dropped to my knees beside him. 

“What about her, Donnie? What’s wrong?” 

“She’s dead,” he blurted out. “She’s dead up there in the car.”



REVIEW:

5 stars!

A solid mystery when Roxy's forgotten past intrudes into her present. 

Tangerine Marmalade Murder is the third book in author Meg Benjamin's wonderful culinary-themed cozy mystery series, Luscious Delights, and a welcome return to the people and town of Shavano, Colorado. The well-developed and engaging characters really have come to life in this series, and each new book is like reuniting with old friends. While it is very comfortable and fun to catch up with everyone, this visit is fraught with mystery, murder, and a few bumps on the road to romance. 

Roxy Constantine is a great character, a level-headed and interesting young woman who experienced some sadness in her early life when her mother left her and her father behind to go her own way and the subsequent loss of her father when she was a teen. Thankfully, her Uncle Mike stepped in and gave her the home and love she deserved. When her mother's driver's license is found among the possessions of a stranger found murdered in a car on the side of their farm's road, Roxy must confront her feelings about the woman who gave her life but never knew and find out how this stranger did. Although she's pretty chill about her mom not being in her life at the start, I could understand her curiosity when faced with learning more about that side of her family after that time. In addition to this, Roxy and Nate are struggling as they try to navigate working together and having a personal relationship. 

The story begins with the discovery of the victim's body but backtracks in time to establish context. Readers only get a single scene with the victim alive, so while she doesn't have much time to make an impression, she effectively comes across as unpleasant and sly. The twist in the story may explain her sly demeanor when she shows up on Roxy's doorstep, though. The investigation into the murder is well done, and I was on board from the start, even while agonizing with Roxy over Nate's grumpiness. As always, the discussion of jams, flavors, and jam-making, as well as the dishes prepared for the catered events, were tempting and crave-inducing. I was surprised by the resolution of the story, though I'd had my suspicions. 

Although the third book in the series, readers new to Luscious Delights shouldn't have any trouble reading and enjoying this one independently. I recommend TANGERINE MARMALADE MURDER to cozy mystery readers, especially those who enjoy culinary-themed stories.

*See my review of book one in the Luscious Delights Mystery series, The Pepper Peach Murder, HERE!



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Meg Benjamin is an award-winning author of romance and cozy mysteries. Meg’s Konigsburg series is set in the Texas Hill Country and her Salt Box and Brewing Love trilogies are set in the Colorado Rockies (all are available from Entangled Publishing and from Meg’s indie line). Her new cozy mystery series, Luscious Delights from Wild Rose Press, concerns a jam-making sleuth based in the mythical small town of Shavano, Colorado. Along with romance and cozies, Meg is also the author of the paranormal Ramos Family trilogy from Berkley InterMix and the Folk trilogy from Soul Mate. Meg’s books have won numerous awards, including an EPIC Award, a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Holt Medallion from Virginia Romance Writers, the Beanpot Award from the New England Romance Writers, and the Award of Excellence from Colorado Romance Writers. Meg can be reached via email at meg@megbenjamin.com.

 

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Meg Benjamin will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner.


Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway: Secrets and Photographs (Marissa Ambrose Witness, #1) by A.K. Ramirez

Secrets and Photographs by A. K. Ramirez Banner

SECRETS AND PHOTOGRAPHS

by A. K. Ramirez

June 17-28, 2024 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Secrets and Photographs by A. K. Ramirez

The Marissa Ambrose Witness Series

 

How do you stop a killer you can't even see?

It’s been two years since Detective Marissa Ambrose nearly lost her life working the Couple’s Killer case, but time hasn’t stopped the vivid nightmares. She still carries the heavy guilt of her partner’s death, and the Seattle Police Department refuses to support her theory that the suspect they arrested had an accomplice. With her ex-husband regretfully out of the picture, Marissa was supposed to be focusing on adjusting back to something resembling normalcy in her quiet tourist town. Then the letters came.

Unmarked envelopes full of photographs have been arriving at Marissa’s door. Candid shots of her at home. Now, Marissa is certain the missing murderer is stalking her, tracking her every move to finish what he started. As she obsesses over the strange images, the Seattle PD unexpectedly asks for her help. A serial killer is on the loose and targeting members of the Port Townsend community. Despite a personal connection to the first victim, Marissa agrees to pin her badge on once more.

The photographs are piling up and the suspect can’t be seen by surveillance cameras. Like a ghost, this killer is haunting her.

Praise for Secrets and Photographs:

"This book is Amazing!! I couldn't put it down. I need book 2!!!"

~ Nicola Jamieson

"We love a messy family and a plot thick with dark and winding paths. Truly enjoyed this book and read it very quickly! I am very excited to get a signed copy of the next book that was just released!! AK Ramirez is "one to watch" in the crime/thriller genre. You have a fan for life now."

~ Molly Badgett

"I had the pleasure of meeting this author in Richmond at a convention. I really enjoyed the story. The author pulls you in from the first page. Quick read"

~ Chris Kennedy

"A friend recommended this book to me as I was looking for a new mystery novel and I was so sad when it ended because I wanted more! The writing was exceptional and the story captivated me. Twists I didn’t expect had me reading this book in record time. Absolutely recommend!"

~ Melissa Brown

"I’m a sucker for a good crime novel and this one kept me hooked. I also love books set in the Pacific Northwest - I might be biased since I live in the PNW but I thought the author did a good job of using the coziness of Port Townsend to contrast with the horror of the crimes. I’m looking forward to reading book 2!"

~ April O'Brien

"I was hooked on the book from the beginning. It was a great read. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone that likes mystery and suspense."

~ Diana

"I wasn't sure how much I enjoyed this book at the beginning. It felt like it was moving very slowly. In fact, I was wondering if there was ever going to be a murder when I was about a third done. Then a couple minutes later, a murder! That's when the book sped up! I had a little trouble keeping the two investigations separate. The twist was great! And I did enjoy how the two cases crossed. I felt for Marissa that no one believed her and was thankful when the police started listening to her. She's a great detective and I'm looking forward to revisiting her and hopefully solving the big mystery soon!"

~ CMC

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery Thriller
Published by: 4 Horsemen Publications
Publication Date: November 15, 2022
Number of Pages: 362
ISBN: 9781644506639 (ISBN10: 1644506637)
Series: Marissa Ambrose Witness Series, #1
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads | 4 Horsemen Publications

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

Marissa felt cold. She couldn’t see anything, a blindfold tied tightly against her eyes. Music blared against her ears, the throbbing in her head synced with the beat of the music. The cold, rough concrete burned her bare legs, and every time she attempted to adjust them, she felt sharp sensations rush through. She was stiff and cold and tired. Her right hand was handcuffed to something that felt heavy and unbreakable, though she tried to pull away. Time had blurred, and her mind swam, unable to focus on anything. She was thirsty, hungry, and tired. Marissa had never been so frightened in her life.

Someone grabbed her by the arm, squeezing tight as they unlocked her cuff from whatever she was attached to and ushered her along. She whimpered in protest and tugged away from the fingers that dug into her. She thought she heard a laugh in her ear over the music before that hand shoved her hard. She nearly toppled over but fell into another set of hands that caught her in their arms. These weren’t as rough and didn’t grip her as tightly. They held her up as she pulled her legs back under her, and one of the hands rubbed her arm where the other had aggressively gripped. She could feel his breath on her neck as his lips touched her ear, whispering something she couldn’t quite hear.

She gasped, sat up with a start, and sighed, acknowledging she was safe in her room. Ellie was lying on top of her legs, her cold nose poking at her in concern. She rubbed Ellie’s ears, feeling her heartbeat slow to normal. Her chest heavily convulsed as tears fell down her cheeks. Pulling the dog in close, she hugged her tight—a solid reminder she was no longer in that place but inside her bedroom, in her home. Safe.

“Good girl,” she whispered, gripping Ellie’s fur. The shepherd leaned in close, burying her cold nose into her neck.

Leaning back, Marissa glanced over at her clock. It was nearly five.

“Come on. Let’s go downstairs.”

With a heavy sigh, she shifted as Ellie bounced off the bed and toward the door. Marissa swung her legs over the side and winced, aches traveling through her body from her heels as they hit the floor.

“It’s going to be a day,” she mumbled and forced herself to stand.

It was still dark outside, and she was sure the air outside was cold, but the old house was warm. It may have been old, but her mom had updated everything except for the walls. Marissa wandered into the bathroom; she could still hear Ellie bouncing in the hallway, excited to start her day. She did not share the dog’s enthusiasm.

She washed her hands and stared at the reflection that stared back at her. Her dark hair was a tangled mess, and dark circles were under her eyes. Marissa remembered when she took pride in how she looked, brushed her hair several times a day, and had a whole skincare routine. She had been a beauty queen when she was younger. It all seemed so pointless now. Her eyes drifted from her face down to her shoulder with the long, dark scar. Then they drifted to the scar that ran from the bottom of her collarbone across her chest. Her tank top covered most of it, but she knew the rest ran down her side and to her back. She was full of scars now.

She turned the light off and followed Ellie to the hallway, stopping at the top of the stairs. It was the same every morning: the stairs were always daunting. Her ankles locked up like they usually did, forcing her to take slow and precise steps. Once she reached the bottom, she headed to the kitchen and opened the back door, letting Ellie bound out into the dark yard. Sunrise was still a way off, but the sky was beginning to lighten.

She went to the cabinet above the sink and dug out her meds. Since her recovery from the events at the warehouse, Marissa had received a long list of diagnoses: fibromyalgia brought on by trauma, panic attacks, PTSD, and arthritis. Not to mention a rapid heart rate they couldn’t pin down, chronic migraines—so many meds.

Putting on her tea kettle, she set up her teacup and waited for the water to boil. It had taken some time, but Marissa had made her childhood home her own again. Her mom had signed the house over to her while she healed, which gave her full rein to do as she pleased with the place, taking the opportunity to downsize without selling. Port Townsend was not where Marissa thought she would be, especially after so many years in Seattle. She loved the city: the noise, the crowds, the food. The fact that almost everything was open until at least midnight. Not like this tourist town, which felt like it had a town-wide bedtime of 9 p.m. It was known as a charming, quaint town by the sea, and as far as she was concerned, it had lost its charm decades ago.

Slowly but surely, the house was coming together. She sighed, grabbed her hoodie off the hook by her back door, and threw it over her head while letting Ellie back inside. Her mom had done all the hard stuff, remodeling the upstairs and downstairs to an open-concept floorplan and updating the plumbing and electricity. Marissa could see her front door, the living room, the dining room, and a study from the kitchen. Below the stairs was a full bathroom.

As the tea kettle screamed, she poured the water into the cup and watched the steam rise. This was not where Marissa expected to be at thirty-six. Growing up, all she wanted was to get the hell out of this town. She would be married to her high school sweetheart with kids, living in a big city, and making detective. The funny part was, Marissa had married her high school sweetheart. Twice. They’d also had two divorces. She had been living in a big city, owning not one but two properties in Seattle. She had made detective, reaching incredible heights as one of the youngest promoted in her unit. And now, she was back in her childhood home, divorced and alone, still a detective but benched for the unseen future. It felt like a punishment.

Of course, some of it was her doing. She had pushed Jared away and moved back home. Her nightmare wasn’t only when she slept. Her precinct had done all but call her a liar during her recovery when she told them there was more than one assailant. She couldn’t see, so it was simply her word. She had undergone so much; she couldn’t have been sure. That was what her unit had said because it didn’t fit into the profile the SPD had given. People she had trusted with her life didn’t have her back.

She paused for a moment before retrieving the hidden key from her hutch and carefully climbing onto her counter. Despite telling herself she wouldn’t, most mornings she would pull down the box. She winced, pain stretching through her leg as she reached the top of her cabinets to recover a lockbox. Once it was on the counter, she paused as her feet hit the ground. She hoped that one day, something new would stand out. Some tangible clue she could hold in her hands. Ellie came right alongside her and whined, sensing her discomfort. Marissa stretched a hand down, scratching her ear as she unlocked the box and let the photographs pour out onto the countertop. There were candid shots of her going about her day, walking down the street, leaving the bakery, checking her mail. A good stack of them was just Jared. Sometimes they would arrive weekly, and sometimes she would go a few weeks without receiving anything. Or maybe it was just a good reminder of why this was her life now. Why she had chosen to be here, alone. A reminder that her life was in danger.

Local cops and SPD, while agreeing she was a victim of a stalker, wouldn’t connect it to that case because before the warehouse, Marissa hadn’t received any photos. She had been given police protection across the street, but she knew no one had taken her seriously. In the eyes of the law, she hadn’t been threatened and couldn’t identify anyone. She only had pictures that appeared on her doorstep or in her mailbox. She kept them safely locked away, spending most of her days trying hard to forget them. But too often, she found herself thumbing through them. It had become an almost daily ritual.

Once she was satisfied the tea had steeped long enough, she returned the photos to the box and put everything back in its place. Her former partner, Tom, would tell her dwelling over the same pieces of evidence wouldn’t get her anywhere. He had always given her advice like that. He had been so much like the older brother she’d never had, having been the oldest of three sisters. Taking her mug with both hands, she headed out to the backyard, not bothering to turn the light on. She stretched out on her swinging bench and scrolled through her socials. Occasionally, she found her eyes wandering over the backyard, watching for anything or anyone out of place. She knew there was always an officer across the street, watching over her and her home, but they hadn’t proven very helpful yet. They hadn’t managed to see who or how things were being left on her doorstep.

The early morning air was chilly and quiet. The only noises she could hear were Ellie’s panting as she plopped herself down next to Marissa and the occasional breeze blowing by. She glanced at the clock on her phone. Barely any time had passed. Putting her feet up, she finished her tea, put the empty cup down on the side table, and looked out into her dark yard. She needed to rest, but she knew sleep would keep eluding her. She didn’t want to sleep anymore; the nightmares had worsened.

If she had stopped to think about it, she would have realized why. All that mattered was every time she closed her eyes, she was back there again.

***

Excerpt from Secrets and Photographs by A. K. Ramirez. Copyright 2024 by A. K. Ramirez. Reproduced with permission from A. K. Ramirez. All rights reserved.

 

 

Review:

5 stars!

What a fantastic story! I’m glad book two is already available! 

Secrets and Photographs is the first book in this exciting new mystery series by A.K. Ramirez, Marissa Ambrose Witness. I was completely and totally swept away into the story of this former police detective recuperating from the trauma of her last case for the Seattle PD. The main character is wonderfully sympathetic and believable, one I could root for from the very start. 

Homicide detective Marissa Ambrose lost her partner on a call and was kidnapped by his murderers. What happened to her during this ordeal is slowly revealed in the story only in tiny bits and pieces. She returned to her hometown, nearby Port Townsend, to heal her wounds and learn to manage or overcome her PTSD from the incident. She’s off the job until cleared for duty by a therapist, and her leave of absence has already been extended by more than two years. 

To complicate her rehabilitation, she’s got a stalker sending her photos to her home: secretly snapped pictures of her and her former husband, Jared, with the implied threat that they are targets of the Couple’s Killer, the same criminal that shot her partner and kidnapped her two years earlier. When her former department doesn’t believe her theory that these two things are related, she breaks up with Jared to get him out of harm’s way. When murder comes to Port Townsend, the sheriff of the small town enlists Marissa’s aid to investigate the case. 

While I felt Marissa’s thoughts and reactions were believable, for the most part, I didn’t feel the same about some of the plot elements. A two years leave of absence? Probably not. Breaking up instead of leveling with the man you’ve loved forever and who is your lifelong best friend and confidant? I don’t think so. The sheriff of another department enlisting the assistance of a, for all intents and purposes, civilian who he knows is in therapy for psychological issues rather than the state police or a nearby agency? No. Nevertheless, it still makes for a tense, suspenseful, and fantastic story, and this author is an absolutely riveting storyteller. I was all in. It’s fiction. 

While I had suspects along the way, I was surprised when everything didn’t all wrap up by the book’s end. However, I was delighted to see book two was already available and ready to go. This story was intense and one that I could have happily read in one extended session if life had cooperated. It is one I’ll definitely be talking up with family, friends, and my local mystery book club. I recommend SECRETS AND PHOTOGRAPHS to mystery and thriller readers.


Author Bio:

A. K. Ramirez

A.K. Ramirez is a mystery writer tucked in a corner of the Pacific Northwest. She likes to weave mystery, and family drama with a little bit of romance all in one. She has participated in NaNoWriMo on and off for years, reaching her goal three times with three different novels, in both the mystery and fantasy genres. When she isn’t writing, she runs a dog training, boarding, and daycare facility or spends time with her husband, kids, and pack of dogs.

Catch Up With A.K. Ramirez:
www.akramirezwrites.com
Goodreads
Instagram - @AKRamirezWrites
Threads - @AKRamirezWrites
Twitter/X - @AKRamirezWrites
TikTok - @AKRamirezWrites
Facebook - @AKRamirezWrites

 

 

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