Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Book Blitz & Giveaway: Dark & Lovely Mermaids (Broken Mermaids, #2) by Julie Catherine

Dark and Lovely Mermaids
Julie Catherine
(Broken Mermaids, #2)
Publication date: June 11th 2024
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Mermen. Monsters. And a lot of Manipulation. An at-odds prisoner (merman) and warden (mermaid) are about to set off to cross the deep ocean and end up running for their lives. Dive into the twisted waters of Dark and Lovely Mermaids, a forced proximity, enemies to lovers paranormal romance where the love is deep and the ocean is wild.

Ellara Merme made a bad deal. To save her friends and human sweetheart, she agreed to become a sea-slave, the lowest class in the mermaid world. It’s hell on earth, at the bottom of the ocean. A terrible choice. The only decision that’s worse, is the choice she’s about to make.

The leader of the mermaids has offered her an out: Deliver the merman prisoner to Neptune’s army and all will be forgiven. No problem. Should be an easy mission. Except…

… the deep ocean is full of sea monsters itching to make the mermaid their next meal.

… plus she might be catching feelings for the merman she’s supposed to be delivering. Could he possibly be so charming? Or are there other manipulations at play?

With danger crashing with every wave, Ellara has to decide: should she stick to the plan and save herself from sea-slavery? Or dive headfirst into the waters of romance? Can she outsmart the ocean and resist the merman’s charms? Or will she end up making an even worse bargain to survive?

Dark and Lovely Mermaids is a thrilling, loyalty-testing, romantic underwater adventure full of monsters, natural disasters and an army of mermen—an underwater story so enchanting you won’t want to come up for air!

Goodreads / Amazon


Who should go? Among us, there is a mermaid brave enough, wise enough, and strong enough to do this task? To journey alone. To finish what must be done. To save our kingdom from Poseidon’s spy work. Ellara Merme.”

Petra thrust me forward and lifted the hand she still held in a victorious pose.

All of Merme erupted in whoops and cries.

I plastered a foolish smile upon my cheeks.

All this adoration was for me? What a joke.

I was a hoax standing here, paraded out to the town, in my new silver hair. They were acting like I was some sort of savior, but in reality I was just a jerk they could blackmail into completing the task. So desperate to become a Fert, I’d risk my life.

“Smile,” Petra hissed.

“I am smiling.”


A hollow grin pushed up the corners of my lips. I tried to hide the terror behind my eyes. Petra swooped me forward ’til I was side-by-side with Quinn. The leader held up my other arm. I tried not to faint.

“Ellara Merme is our courageous warrior, our mighty Merme.” Quinn said. “She brought the terrible merman’s presence to the attention of the Pause. Ellara brought him down in the fight during the storm. She has killed a Portrayan Kingfisher Crab, manipulated human women into becoming her friends, and she has bedded hundreds of men.”

How about one. The day after my transition was over.

I wanted to vomit in my own mouth.

At best, these claims were a wild twisting of the truth. At worst, the city of Merme had just been pacified with lies. And promises that couldn’t come true. Somewhere in the crowd, I imagined Blonde craning her neck, rolling her eyes. Quinn was making me out to be some sort of super woman. It couldn’t have been farther from the truth. But the women of Merme didn’t care. They just wanted to be safe.

“Ellara Merme was blessed by Abigailya, the sea witch. In fact, the sorceress bestowed on her the magical third eye.”

Which I still didnt know how to use.

“She defeated a clever water nymph. All by herself.”

I couldn’t stand it anymore. My eyes searched for Blonde. I started to shake my head, no. Petra’s fingernails dug into my palm.

“Play along,” the rainbow-woman hissed. I tightened my smile.

“Ellara Merme is the perfect woman for this mission. A vital soldier. A master mermaid. A linchpin in the success of Neptune’s war. And we will win.” A less experienced orator might have shouted that from the rafters and beaches, but Quinn knew better than that. “We will win,” she whispered, it came out like a shiver. An ear-worm in the brain of every young mermaid. “We will win.” She repeated. Then, finally, she brought the mighty point home. “We. Will. Win!”

Author Bio:

Julie Catherine is an author, screenwriter and playwright. 

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Monday, June 17, 2024

Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway: The Honeymoon Homicides: A Provincetown Mystery (Sydney Riley, #10) by Jeannette de Beauvoir


The Honeymoon Homicides
A Provincetown Mystery
Sydney Riley Series
Jeannette de Beauvoir

Cozy Mystery
10th in Series
Setting – Provincetown, Massachusetts, is a resort town on the tip of Cape Cod.
Publisher: Homeport Press
Publication Date: June 15, 2024
Paperback:‎ 290 pages
ISBN-13: 979-8986865430 / Digital ASIN: B0CYHL3FBH




Despite an unforeseen disaster ruining her carefully planned wedding reception, hotelier Sydney Riley is undaunted as she and her brand-new husband Ali leave for their honeymoon in the dunes of Cape Cod’s National Seashore. But even in this deserted location, Sydney uncovers clues that might have a bearing on the wedding fiasco. Despite hoping for a new life, she’s drawn into yet another murder investigation—this time to protect Ali, who’s been called away on a secret and dangerous assignment. Can Sydney find the murderer(s) before Ali is harmed, or will a joyous week in the dunes be her only memory of their married life?


5 stars!

Exciting new addition to the Sydney Riley series! 

The Honeymoon Homicides: A Provincetown Mystery is the tenth book in author Jeannette de Beauvoir’s humorous, cozy mystery series, which features former wedding planner turned hotel owner Sydney Riley. Sydney and her new husband Ali start their married life together with an uninvited guest dropping into their wedding. 

The main character, Sydney, is an absolute magnet for mystery and murder, and this latest book brings both elements to the table in full force. Sydney is just as fun as she can be as she works toward finding answers, even when worried about the threats to Ali’s wellbeing. She is surrounded by a plethora of fine supporting characters that bring the story to life and provide the perfect platform for the author’s signature wit and clever dialogue to shine. 

The plot of this book literally ‘hits the ground’ running, as they say, and the author keenly maintained my interest throughout with twists and added mystery. My pleasure with the story was greatly enhanced by the inclusion of historical tales regarding this part of Cape Cod, such as the German U-boats that roamed the coast during WWII and the actual existence of the dune shacks along the beach outside Provincetown and the related controversy. 

Although this novel is well down the line in this long-running series, it can still be read and enjoyed as a standalone. I recommend THE HONEYMOON HOMICIDES to cozy mystery readers looking for a new series to jump on and fans of the previous books in the series.



Jeannette de Beauvoir is an award-winning author of historical and mystery fiction and poetry, whose work has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies. Her Provincetown mystery series is now on its 10th book, and she’s a member of the Authors Guild, the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Historical Novels Society. She’s also a local theatre critic and hosts an arts-related program on WOMR, a Pacifica Radio affiliate. She lives and works in a seaside cottage on Cape Cod.


June 14 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT
June 15 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
June 16 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
June 17 – Guatemala Paula Loves to Read! - REVIEW
June 18 – Christy's Cozy Corners – CHARACTER GUEST POST
June 19 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
June 20 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
June 21 – Maureen's Musings – SPOTLIGHT
June 23 – StoreyBook Reviews – AUTHOR GUEST POST
June 24 – Cassidy's Bookshelves – AUTHOR GUEST POST
June 25 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER GUEST POST
June 26 – Sapphyria's Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
June 27 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – AUTHOR GUEST POST



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Book Blast & Giveaway: Private License (Sam Quinton Mystery, #5) by Kevin R. Doyle

Private License
A Sam Quinton Mystery
Kevin R. Doyle

Publisher: Camel Press
Projected Publication Date: August 14, 2024
Page count: 266 pages

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by
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All Lorie Jones wants is a little help with her divorce. Some extra information, a bit of ammunition to take into court against her no-good husband. And when she hires the biggest and best investigation firm Kansas City has to offer, that’s exactly what she gets. But after their operative wraps up Lori’s case, he decides he doesn’t want to move on, and Lori soon realizes that she’s got an even bigger problem than she had before, one that threatens her privacy, and maybe even her life.

It’s up to Sam Quinton, one-man detective agency, to take on the largest firm in the business, and as Sam digs into the background of Lori’s harasser, he soon finds something bigger, and much more dangerous, than one overzealous guy who just can’t let go.



Lorie hadn’t reported the latest invasion of her home. Maybe she was tired of running to the police and getting nothing accomplished, but when I considered the last intrusion and threatening note had happened before Karyn Roberts had suggested coming to me, my stomach fluttered a bit.

“Not exactly the kind of stuff you go to local cops for,” I said. “No offense.”

Sloan grunted. “None taken, mainly because you’re right. And actually, she didn’t initially bother us with the first two incidents.”

I nodded. “It was the third went over the top for her.”

“Yeah.” Sloan closed the file. “Which kind of fits because messing around with someone’s home is cop business. The rest of it lies with the post office and the banking people.”

“So what did you do?”

“About what?” Sloan looked up at me.

I sighed and managed to keep myself from shaking my head. And here we’d been getting along so well. “Did you look into her allegations?”

“These would be the allegations that a respected employee of a respected firm in the city was screwing around with her mind and emotions.”

“No,” I said, dropping my voice an octave or so. “Those would be the allegations a licensed private investigator, an ex-cop at that, was harassing and intimidating his own client.”

“You implying somehow we slow walked this because the guy she mentioned used to be a cop?”


A retired high-school teacher and former college instructor, Kevin R. Doyle is the author of four novels in the Sam Quinton mystery series, all published by Camel Press. He’s also written four crime thrillers, including And the Devil Walks Away and The Anchor, and one horror novel, The Litter, along with numerous short horror stories published in small magazines over the years. The first Quinton book, Squatter’s Rights, was nominated for the 2021 Shamus award for Best First PI Novel, and the fifth in the series, Private License, will be out in August of 2024.


Kevin R. Doyle will award a $10 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner. 

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Virtual Book Tour, Giveaway, & Awesome Guest Post!: Map of My Escape by Cheryl L. Reed

Map of My Escape by Cheryl L Reed Banner


by Cheryl L. Reed

June 10 - July 5, 2024 Virtual Book Tour


Map of My Escape by Cheryl Reed

The shooting of a homicide detective is captured on film by a mysterious figure from a second-floor window, implicating Riley Keane, an anti-gun activist and a school shooting survivor. Riley flees Chicago for a frozen island in Lake Superior. A race to find her ensues between her secret lover—Chicago politician Finn O’Farrell—a corrupt police lieutenant, and the mysterious cameraman who extorts Riley’s family and Finn. Finn’s entanglement with Riley and the extortionist threatens his ambitious political career.

On the island, Riley ingratiates herself into the close-knit community, but when she witnesses both an islander’s murder and another death in a suspicious boating accident, the local sheriff starts asking questions that begin to unravel her true identity. As the sheriff and the FBI are closing in on Riley, Finn faces media pressure to reveal his mysterious role in that long ago school shooting. If the facts come out, Finn may go to prison, but his biggest fear is that the truth will forever sever his relationship with Riley.

Praise for Map of My Escape:

"Atmospheric and gritty, Reed's tale of a woman on the run from her own shocking past will keep you rooting for her until the end. A dark thriller with a redemptive ending from a master of suspense."
~ Jamie Freveletti, International Bestselling author of Blood Run

"Taut, atmospheric and unputdownable. Reed knows how to keep you turning pages!"
~ Candice Fox, International Bestselling author of Crimson Lake, now an ABC series Troppo

"Bending genres of police drama and adventure thriller, The Map of My Escape is both original and breathlessly page-turning!"
~ Wendy Walker, International Bestselling author of Don't Look For Me

"Cheryl Reed's Map of My Escape is a character-driven thriller, a poignant opposites-attract love story, and a journey of self-discovery. As secrets unfold and twists abound, Reed keeps us on a razor's edge. An absolutely gripping read!"
~ John Copenhaver, award-wining author of The Savage Kind and Dodging and Burning

"Map of My Escape combines tragic events, engaging characters, and unique locations to give readers one hell of a ride."
~ Elena Taylor, author of All We Buried and the Eddie Shoes mysteries.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery and Detective
Published by: Running Wild Press
Publication Date: June 18, 2024
Number of Pages: 402
ISBN: 9781960018175 (ISBN10: 19600018175)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads

Read an excerpt from Map of My Escape:

I had often wondered what it would be like to disappear. As a teenager, I read books like Famous Female Fugitives and pored over stories in my mother’s magazines about women who had committed crimes with their boyfriends and ran. They changed their names, plucked birthdates off gravestones of dead babies to obtain new Social Security cards, and created new lives. I was never curious about the men who disappeared. The FBI’s Most Wanted lists were full of men who’d eluded cops for years, only later to be discovered as the quiet loner next door. The women fugitives, though sparse in number, were seldom quiet. They married, raised kids, built careers. Sara Jane even joined the PTA, acted on stage, and made speeches before her state senate. They lived their new lives in public as if they were flaunting the authorities in plain sight. I admired their tenacity.

There had been times in my life when I desperately wanted to disappear, when I dreamed of slipping away from the present and starting over somewhere else under a new identity. The pull became stronger after forty-four of my classmates, including my brother, and five of our teachers were killed by a guy in combat boots re-enacting his favorite video game.

I remember that day vividly. We were all at an assembly in the gym. I was sitting somewhere in the middle of the bleachers—they were the old-fashioned, accordion kind that pull out from the wall. I was reading index cards, trying to memorize trigonometry theorems for a test. Principal Brown was at the podium talking, but it was all background noise until a loud crack resounded through the gym. The metal doors at the front of the gym—the only way in or out—opened and slammed shut. Everyone turned to look. Even Principal Brown stopped talking mid-sentence. Darren Wallack, a guy no one paid much attention to, was standing at the gym entrance dressed like a Ninja warrior, a gun and ammo strapped across his chest, a rifle in his hands. He looked almost comical, except it wasn’t Halloween.

Nancy Greene, a whisper of a girl with thick glasses and braces, let out a high-pitched squeal. She was his first victim. Then pandemonium struck. Everyone moved at once. People climbed over others, trying to get away. Some hunkered down, attempting to hide. The air smelled of desperation and fear. Everyone was screaming, panicking. The gun blasted, again and again, loud, sharp cracks, like a whip cutting the air.

I noticed a guy slide his feet in between the thin slats of the bleachers. Our eyes met. He hesitated, then offered me his hand. We climbed down the support scaffolding. A few others chose to hide beneath the bleachers, too. We spread out in clumps of two and three as if we were safer with space between us. The stranger and I crouched in the corner, peaking through the gaps of the bleachers watching as Darren fired continuously, swinging his rifle from left to right like some character he’d seen in a bad movie.

“He’s going to kill us,” I whispered. I couldn’t breathe.

I’d never met this guy next to me, but his eyes were kind, reassuring. He was black. At our charter school, Blacks, Asians, Mexicans, and Whites didn’t mix.

“It’s going to be okay.” He patted my back. He seemed so calm.

Through the crack in the bleachers, we could see our classmates scrambling back and forth across the basketball court, shrieking terrified screams. Darren stalked them, firing a barrage of bullets until they slumped to the floor. I looked away. I couldn’t take it anymore.

Several rounds flew over our heads. “He’s coming toward us,” the guy said. “Get down.”

I lay on my stomach on the cold floor, the stranger next to me, convinced we were about to die. I thought about my family, my mother and father, and my older brother, who had just started college. And for a quick moment, I mourned for them. Then I thought about my younger brother, Ross. He was out there somewhere. I tried to remember where he was sitting. When was the last time I saw him?

“What is your name?” I whispered.

“What does it matter?”

“Because I don’t want my last minutes on earth to be spent with a complete stranger.”

“I’m Reece,” he said. “You’re Riley.”

“How do you know my name?”

“Everyone knows who you are.” He reached over and draped his arm across my back, his upper body forming a protective shield.

Darren’s boots stomped above our heads. Kids screamed, scuttled to get away. The gunfire sounded like firecrackers. I plugged my ears with my fingers. I couldn’t bear to hear it anymore. If Darren came down under the bleachers, we were dead. There was nowhere to run. It was the most horrifying fifteen minutes of my life.

Then the footsteps stopped.

We didn’t know if we could come out. We heard hard footfalls, police hollering as they hunted down Darren. It seemed like we were huddled down there for hours. When the police announced it was over, we walked out from under the bleachers like horror movie zombies.

That’s when we saw them.

Bodies were sprawled on the bleachers. They covered the gym floor, piled in some places. I recognized many of their faces, kids I saw in literature class or passed in the hallway. I stepped around them, my sneakers sticky with blood, looking for friends, anyone I knew. Then I recognized his mousey brown hair. His face looked serene as if he were taking a nap. He was wearing his new White Sox jacket with black sleeves and white on the torso. Our parents had given it to him for his birthday two weeks earlier. He only took it off to go to bed. Now the white part was ruby red. And my brother was never going to wake up.

For years afterwards, I dreamed about disappearing. Just up and walking out of my life—what was left of it. I hadn’t thought about my fugitive fascination in a long time. Of course, now it’s much harder to evade police in a digital age when a person’s every movement can be tracked. But I didn’t consider any of that the day I ran after shooting Reece.

Running is the natural reaction—even if you do not know where you are running to. The adrenaline and animalistic self-preservation kick in, leaving your brain a scrambled mess while your body takes over.

I drove in a daze, focused on the yellow line that I hoped would lead to a better future. Running from the cops is challenging for a normal person. But when you’re an activist and your mug shot is floating on police and FBI computers, vanishing is a lot harder. We are all electronic files, avatars moving from screen to screen, followed by one entity after another.

I had to jump off those screens. That meant no electronics of any kind—no phones, no GPS, no computers. If I wanted to escape, I had to do it old school, like the women in the Famous Female Fugitives.


Excerpt from Map of My Escape by Cheryl Reed. Copyright 2024 by Cheryl Reed. Reproduced with permission from Cheryl Reed. All rights reserved.


Guest Post:

 Today, I'm delighted to welcome to the blog the author of our featured book, Cheryl L. Reed, for a special Guest Post!

Why Authors Love Fans 

By Cheryl L. Reed 

When I meet someone for the first time and they learn I’m an author, I can see a flash of awe or disbelief on their face. And it’s usually one or the other. Either they imagine I’m one of those writers portrayed in the movies who spends her days tapping away without disruption and has standing-room-only author events or they act as if I just pushed print on my computer and called myself an author. 

Because of those looks, I rarely ever tell strangers what I do. My usual answer is: I’m a writer and at the moment I’m working for —. That’s because most authors juggle other jobs while trying to eke out time to write and perfect their craft. It feels pretentious and a bit untrue to convey that you only write books for a living, especially when the median book sales for authors is $2,000 — not enough to live on. 

That’s why dedicated readers and fans play such an increasing important role in the lives of authors. You are part of the circle of publishing—and it’s not just because you pay for books. 

I don’t deny that some authors are highly motivated to write for money. But compared to the hours and days it takes to birth a book, most authors receive little compensation for their efforts as the above statistic bares out. For a great many authors—and I count myself among them—we write because we have a story to tell, a message to get out to the world. And for that chain of events to succeed, we need readers—people to receive what we are writing. 

As the number of readers declines – 46 percent of Americans didn’t even read one book last year—connecting with book lovers is vital. One bright spot in all those dire reading statistics is that mysteries is one of the top two genres readers prefer, the other being histories. So, I think this is a perfect collision of two topics on Guatemala Paula Loves to Read! 

If you are reading this, you are no doubt a reader and probably a mystery lover and maybe one of those smart-as-a whip readers who consume more than 20 books a year. You are our rock stars. And I’m not just saying that because you buy books and that puts *some money in the pocket of authors. I’m saying this because for most authors you are the end game, the reason we spend incredibly long hours alone, separated from our families and their needs. We do this to connect with an invisible body of people, with the whisper of a dream that what we write might influence or touch them in some way. 

You might think that as readers what you do in your sparingly free time isn’t that important, but as the airlines say: we know you have a choice. You could be like most Americans who watch more than three hours of digital programming a day. 

I do believe books can have a dramatic effect on people’s lives, even if the story simply takes the reader to a place they’ve never been or introduces them to a point of view they hadn’t considered. Drawing attention to books you love is really a kind of literary proselytizing. 

Which reminds me of one day when I was in prison—just visiting. Once a week, I volunteered to teach creative writing to incarcerated men at a maximum security prison. I taught in a room divided by a glass partition to other classrooms. One day I saw the prison warden in the next room with his hand on a prisoner’s head as a crowd of prisoners looked on. 

“What is going on over there?” I asked, with a bit of shock in my voice because I knew full well what was happening. 

 “Oh, the warden is saving an inmate,” the men explained. 

“As in saving his soul?” I was astonished that as a state employee, the warden would be mixing religion with his state duties. 

“Yeah,” the men said in unison and chuckled. 

“Well, I’m here because I intend to save your souls through literature.” 

That got smiles and a few amens! 

Upon the publication of my first book —a work of nonfiction called Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns— I learned that I had a small fan club. It was sort of exhilarating. They wrote me emails and came to my readings. One even told me she wrote her dissertation on my book. 

After the publication of my second book, Poison Girls, a thriller based loosely on events that had happened in my own life, I was awarded novel of the year by Chicago writers. Attendance at my readings were sparser than they had been for my first book, but more than one person came up to me afterwards and said I had portrayed Chicago right, and more than one journalist told me I depicted the newsroom right. One of my former literature professors —who did not normally read genre fiction —told me she’d stayed up all night to find out who the killer was. I don’t remember most reviews of the book, but I do remember those personal comments. 

I’m not sure how my new novel, Map of My Escape, about a female fugitive who flees to a frozen island and remakes herself to elude the police, will be received. But I know that the most important judgment will be from everyday readers. 

So the next time you meet an author whose work you like or whose reading you attend, don’t be shy. Come up and tell us what specifically engaged you, and when you hear something you like at an author reading, feel free to shout a few amens

Author Bio:

Cheryl Reed

Cheryl L. Reed is the author of the nonfiction book Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns and the novel Poison Girls, which won the Chicago Writers' Association Book of the Year. A former staff editor and reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times and other publications, Reed's stories have won multiple awards, including Harvard's Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting. She has twice been awarded a U.S. Fulbright Scholar fellowship by the State Department, first in Ukraine and then in Central Asia. She splits her time between Washington, DC and her home near the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia.

Catch Up With Cheryl L. Reed:
BookBub - @cheryllynnreed
Instagram - @cheryllynnreed
Twitter/X - @AuthrCherylReed & @JournoReed
Facebook - @CherylLynnReed

Don't miss this Interview Cheryl L. Reed on #BookTok!


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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Book Blitz & Giveaway: Return to You (Emerald Creek, #3) by Bella Rivers

Return to You
Bella Rivers
(Emerald Creek Series, #3)
Publication date: June 12th 2024
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Two broken hearts. Ten years apart. Can one small town bring them back together?

Ten years in the military might have changed me, but it didn’t change the reasons I left Emerald Creek. Back for a short visit to my family after a decade away, I’ll do everything to keep my stay painless.
It will be short.
There will be no trips down memory lane.
There will be little to no reconnecting with locals.
One thing is certain: I won’t run into the girl who broke my heart. She’s long gone, married away.
Or so I thought.
All it takes is a pulled muscle, a massage tent at the town fair, and some not-so-subtle interventions from my friends for me to suddenly be alone with her—with me flat on my back on the massage table and her kneading me like I’m a stranger. Like what we had back then meant nothing to her.
She won’t even talk to me? Fine. I’m ready to bolt anyway.
But when the townies engineer another close encounter and I find out what she’s trying to hide from me, it’s Operation Get Her Back.

Goodreads / Amazon


It’s dark inside the tent, and my eyes strain to adjust. A sweet and relaxing scent fills the atmosphere. Oriental-type carpets cover the ground, giving the space a sense of being elsewhere. There’s a chair next to the entrance and a massage table in the center.

To the back, there’s the silhouette of a woman busying herself at a small console with lotions. My heart ba-booms at the shape of her shoulders, the tilt of her head. Jesus fucking Christ, she’s thousands of miles away. Not here. And even if she was here, what does it matter? Shake it off, man.

But her dark, curly hair stirs something deep inside me, and I hold my breath.

Am I hallucinating? It can’t be her, dammit.

It’s a trick of my imagination.


It’s been so long.

But then she turns around, and my heart hammers in my chest.

The last time I saw this woman, she didn’t even have one word for me.

After everything we’d shared. After everything she’d told me.

She was walking down the aisle, holding some idiot’s arm, a stiff smile fooling only herself, her gaze glazing over me.

And she didn’t have one word for me.

Not one explanation.

Didn’t even bother trying to be my friend.

It was like I’d never existed.

I’d been on leave, decided four years without coming back to my hometown was enough. I had one week off, and god played a trick on me. It was the weekend she was marrying someone else.

She was supposed to be mine.

Always was.

She said so herself. So many times.

But after her wedding, didn’t she move to Texas? She’s not supposed to be here.

She does a double take. Her eyes round, her mouth gapes, her breath catches.

“Why are you here?” I ask right as she says, “What brings you here?”

I clear my throat. “I’m—I’m just visiting.” I should add something generic and half-assed polite, like It’s nice to see you, or How have you been, but the words stay stuck in my throat.

She’s supposed to be in fucking Texas.

She blinks several times, takes a small breath, shows me a list of services calligraphed on an elegant paper and framed in gold. “I mean, what type of massage would you like?”

Oh, really? Not even Hey, Ethan. Not even Wow, it’s been a while.

Granted, I’m not good at small talk either.

But really? “I dunno. My back is tight. It hurts down to my leg.”

I can’t believe we’re talking like we’re two fucking strangers.

I glance at the tent opening. I never should have come here. I should just go. It’s only gonna get weirder and weirder.

Her voice is melodious with a touch of coldness. Professional. “Strip down to your underwear and get under the sheet. Face down.” She turns around. “Let me know when you’re ready.”

Yeah, that’s not gonna work out. “I-I… maybe I should just go.”

She whips around. Her eyes are shiny, her bottom lip trembles until she pulls herself together and snaps her mouth in a fine line. Her voice catches when she says, “Yeah, maybe you should.”

What the hell? I don’t think so. I pull my T-shirt off my back. Her eyes narrow on my torso, slide down to my abs, and even in the dimness of the tent I can see her cheeks turning a deep red. She catches herself and turns her back to me just as I unbuckle my jeans.

I fold my clothes neatly and place them on a stool. My hands don’t shake. My heartbeat doesn’t rattle the tent. Nothing betrays the anger boiling inside me. Then I slide under the cool sheet.

Face down. I turn on my belly. I wish I could look at her. Make her squirm under my gaze. Ask her to her face what the hell happened to her.

To us.

“Ready,” I grunt.

Author Bio:

Bella Rivers writes steamy small town romances with a guaranteed happily ever after, and themes of found family and forgiveness. Expect hot scenes, fierce love, and strong language!

A hopeless romantic, Bella is living her own second chance romance in the rolling hills of Vermont. When she’s not telling the stories of the characters populating her dreams, you can find her baking, hiking, skiing, or just hanging around her small town to soak in the happiness.

Her newsletter is where Bella shares progress on her writing as well as sneak peeks into upcoming books, the occasional recipe from her characters, and books from other writers she thinks her readers might like. Subscribe from her website.

You can also connect with Bella on TikTok, Instagram, or Facebook, all @bellariversauthor, or through the contact form on her website.

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Friday, June 14, 2024

Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway: On the Horns of Death (Ancient Crete Mystery, #2) by Eleanor Kuhns

On the Horns of Death by Eleanor Kuhns Banner


by Eleanor Kuhns

May 20 - June 14, 2024 Virtual Book Tour


On the Horns of Death by Eleanor Kuhns

An Ancient Crete Mystery

Ancient Crete, 1450 BC. When young bull leaper Martis finds Duzi, the newest member of the bull leaping team, dead in the bull pen early one morning. Made to look like he met his end on the horns of the bull, it's clear to Martis that this was no accident . . .

Martis once again finds herself thrown into a dangerous game of hunting down a murderer as the deaths start to mount. An old friend of Martis' sister, and possible lover to Duzi, is the next person to be found dead, and Martis' investigations lead her to believe love and jealousy are at the heart of these crimes against the Goddess.

Is someone targeting the bull leaping community? Or is there something else at play? With only the Shade of her sister Arge to confide in, Martis struggles to untangle the growing web of secrets which stretch around her.

Praise for On the Horns of Death:

"A clever, feisty, likable heroine, vivid descriptions of life in ancient Crete, and a complex murder make this a good pick for historical-mystery fans"
~ Booklist

"A wealth of historical detail"
~ Kirkus Reviews

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Severn House
Publication Date: April 2, 2024
Number of Pages: 224
ISBN: 9781448310890 (ISBN10: 144831089X)
Series: An Ancient Crete Mystery #2
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads | Severn House

Read an excerpt:


Late again, I hurried down the stony slope into the caves under Knossos. Even from the top of the twisty path, I could hear the grunting and the nervous kicking of cage walls by agitated bulls. I increased my pace despite the slippery footing. I could smell the thick coppery scent of blood, far more intense than the usual odor of damp rock. Why was there blood? Something terrible was happening.

The oil lamps in the center of the cave cast a dim smoky light, but there were several, enough to see by. Although all the bulls were restless, most of the bull leapers were crowded around the foremost pen. ‘What’s going on?’ I asked Arphaia and Obelix as I reached the stone floor. Arphaia and Obelix had helped fill the hole left by the loss of my sisters.

Arphaia rolled her eyes at me and shrugged. ‘Don’t know.’ A short, sturdy girl, her skin was the color of ripe figs. Obelix was taller and paler and so slim she looked like a boy from the back. Like me, they’d tied their hair back into braids. ‘I’m busy here,’ Arphaia continued. She was helping Obelix pull her skirt over her loincloth, and I guessed the older girl had unexpectedly gotten her monthly. It was always an inconvenience for us women on the team.

‘Can I help?’

Arphaia shook her head. Glad to be excused – I was burning with curiosity – I hurried across the stone floor toward the cluster of older bull dancers by the cage. Ready for the upcoming ceremony, they wore only loincloths and boots.

‘Something upset the bulls,’ Geos said with a frown, running a hand over his bald head. He had trained all of us.

‘Especially the bull chosen for sacrifice . . .’ Elemon glanced anxiously at the pen. He was the most experienced of us but a recent injury had left him skittish.

I dropped my metal belt on the floor with a clatter and went to join the team. The bull in the pen was white – a pure white like the foam that came ashore from the sea. The largest and strongest of them all, he’d been chosen for our performance at the Harvest Festival today. After the six days of the celebration, he would be sacrificed to the Goddess. Other sacrifices would be made through out to the Dying God to thank him for the grape harvest, and the wine he’d taught us how to make. But this bull, the greatest of all, would be sacrificed last.

I approached the pen. The strikes against the wooden planks had loosened several. I tried to squeeze into the throng at the front, but no one would move away to let me through. I went around to the side and peered through a crack.

The white bull was trotting around the pen, lashing his tail, kicking up his front feet and grunting angrily. But he did not come near this side. Hmm. Why not? I crouched down to peer through a larger gap at the bottom.

And there, right in front of me, was the body of a man. I gasped and fell back. ‘Geos,’ I said in a trembling voice. When he did not hear me, I raised my voice. ‘Geos.’

‘What, Martis?’ He sounded harried.

‘Come here. There is a body inside the pen.’

‘What? Who is it?’

‘I don’t know.’ I shook my head. I hadn’t wanted to look. The body appeared to have been both gored and trampled by the bull. ‘I think this is why the bull is so nervous . . .’

Geos came around the corner. Although, at sixteen, I stood taller than him by several inches, now he stared down at me sitting on the rock floor.

‘Are you sure?’ He sounded disbelieving. ‘Why would anyone join a bull in the pen? These are not tame animals.’

‘I don’t know.’ I scooted backwards so he could crouch down beside me. Groaning, he lowered himself first to one knee and then to the other. Cautiously, using both hands, he collapsed to a sitting position. From there, he looked through the breach between the weathered wooden boards.

‘By the Goddess,’ he muttered, ‘you’re right. How could this happen!’ He struggled to rise. ‘We’ve got to get that body out of there. None of the bulls will settle . . .’

Turning, Geos shouted at the other bull dancers. ‘One of you, go find Tinos.’

As the High Priestess’s consort and the wanax who served as the chief administrator of Knossos and its environs, Tinos would be responsible for investigating this tragedy.

I rose shakily to my feet and peered into the pen next to the one occupied by the white auroch. This one was empty. Glad to have a problem to focus on, I said, ‘Maybe we can put the bull in here. And this wall’ – I gestured to the partition we’d been looking through – ‘is already damaged.’

Geos glanced into the empty pen and then turned his gaze on the battered fence. ‘Perhaps. But first we need to pull the body out. Once that is gone, maybe the bull will settle down.’

By now, the other bull dancers had joined us. Elemon shouldered me out of the way. ‘The boards are already damaged,’ he said. ‘Maybe we can pull them away and slide the body through.’

Geos nodded and his eyes shifted to the pen behind me. ‘We can take some of those pieces and use them to barricade the hole afterwards.’ As Elemon wrenched the boards away from the cage bottom, Tryphone grabbed the victim’s arm to pull him through. After a few seconds of futile struggle, Thaos, one of the other men, knelt down to help him. The body awkwardly inched forward.

I could barely watch. I could see that several bones were shattered and his arms flopped limply behind him.

Once he was free, we bustled around gathering wooden planks to place over the gap. I didn’t believe the bull could escape through the narrow opening at the bottom, but we covered it, nonetheless. No one wanted an angry animal charging around the caves, and he was still not settling down. Of course, the smell of blood hung heavily in the air.

‘What happened?’ Arphaia asked as she and Obelix approached us.

Before Geos could reply, excited chatter from the youngest of our team – all still congregated at the entrance to the arena – distracted us. Geos hurried around the pen, the rest of us following. Tinos had arrived. He was clad in a long robe banded with diagonal stripes of red and blue and wore his ceremonial knife on the belt around his waist. Apparently, he’d been pulled away from an important ritual. ‘What happened?’ he asked. ‘He’ – gesturing to Curgis – ‘told me you discovered a body in the bull’s pen?’

‘That’s right,’ Geos said. ‘I sent him to you.’

In his formal clothing, Tinos seemed older and much more serious than the man I knew and liked. ‘Show me,’ he said.

Geos glared at the kids. ‘Stay here,’ he said firmly. ‘This is not something any of you should see.’

Thirteen-year-old Costi curled his lip mutinously but didn’t argue.

‘I’ll watch them,’ Obelix offered. She was quite pale.

Arphaia glanced at her. ‘We both will,’ she said.

I did not offer. Although I did not want to look at the body, I did want to be near Tinos. I quickly joined the line of bull dancers following him and Geos to the side of the bull pen.

Tinos stared at the battered and bloodied remains on the floor for several seconds and heaved a sigh. ‘Who discovered the body?’ he asked.

‘Martis,’ Geos said.

Tinos shot me a look from under his thick black eyebrows. This was not the first time I had witnessed a violent death. ‘Of course, it would be,’ he said.

‘I could smell the blood when I got here,’ I said, rushing into speech. ‘And the bull was angry and upset. They’ – and I gestured to Elemon and Tryphone – ‘were here by the pen.’

Tinos glanced at the bull dancers, and then his gaze flicked to the pen where the white bull could be heard snorting and shuffling. ‘I see.’ He turned to Geos. ‘That white bull can’t be used in the ceremonies now.’

‘I know,’ Geos agreed. ‘He’s been tainted. But we have a few others.’ He pointed to the pens at the back of the cave. ‘Backups. The second choice is black, though. Not white.’

Tinos nodded. ‘He will have to be the one. A bull that murdered a man is no fit sacrifice to the Goddess.’

I thought of all the bull leapers who’d been gored or trampled by a bull during the ceremony and wondered why a wounding or a death in the course of a performance was acceptable to the Goddess. Because this had not happened during the Goddess-sanctioned ritual?

‘What possessed him to enter the cage?’ Tinos wondered aloud, pushing his hair to the back. When no one replied to what was clearly a question without an answer, he asked, ‘Does anyone recognize him?’

‘I don’t think any of us really examined him,’ Geos admitted apologetically.

Tinos raised his brows and looked around at us. Thaos and Curgis, the newer bull dancers, shook their heads and backed away. I refused to show such weakness in front of Tinos – I did not want him to think less of me – so I steeled myself and stared down at the body. Elemon cut through the crowd and joined me.

It was difficult to recognize the victim through the blood and the bruising. I thought his skin was naturally darker than the fair Elemon, but I couldn’t be sure. Finally, Elemon shook his head and stepped away to join the others. I continued staring at the body a few seconds longer – not at the face, but at the kilt around his hips. We all wore loincloths during the bull dancing. It was necessary to move freely, and we did not wear clothing like a long skirt that would catch on the horns. The victim’s garment was subtly different, longer and decorated with blue stripes.

‘I know who that is,’ I said, my voice breaking. ‘It’s Duzi.’


‘Duzi?’ Geos said, staring at me in shock. ‘Are you sure?’ He too spoke softly so the others could not hear.

I nodded, too shaken to speak. I’d first seen Duzi a few weeks ago. Although my mother did not want me visiting the docks, insisting it was too dangerous, I still occasionally went. I counted Tetis, an Egyptian prostitute who worked there, as my friend. That time, as we were talking, Tetis stopped mid-word and stared over my shoulder. I turned to look.

Several Cretan sailors manhandled a prisoner off one of the slim naval ships. His heavy black beard, stretching all the way down his chest, and the battered bronze helmet with a spike in the center marked him as a foreigner. ‘A pirate,’ Tetis said with dislike. ‘More and more of them harass Egypt.’

By the time Duzi joined the bull leapers a week later, the helmet was gone and the beard shaved away. But the kilt girding his hips was the same one he wore now.

‘Who’s Duzi?’ Tinos asked, keeping his voice low so he could not be overheard.

‘A volunteer for the bull leapers—’ Geos began.

‘The navy brought him here,’ I said at the same time. ‘I saw them take him off a ship.’ My voice trembled, and Tinos raised his eyebrows at my emotion.

‘Ah. The pirate,’ he said. He knew my mother did not want me visiting the docks. But he didn’t scold me. Not this time anyway. ‘Did you know him well?’ I shook my head.

‘A pirate?’ Geos repeated incredulously, staring at Tinos. Crete had probably the best navy in the world; our cities and towns suffered little from the depredations of pirates.

‘Egypt asked for our help,’ Tinos explained. ‘The seafarers from the east – they target those rich cities of the Black Lands, and the cargo ships that trade with us.’

‘But they don’t dare attack us,’ Geos said in satisfaction.

‘Only once in a while,’ Tinos agreed with a smile. He turned and looked at the tunnel that led to the arena. Although he couldn’t see anything in the gloom, he said, ‘It must be time for the bull dancing and time for me to meet the High Priestess. On the way, I’ll tell the bull handlers that we won’t be using the white bull and they should take out the black one instead.’ He glanced first at Geos and then at the rest of us. ‘Please, don’t gossip about this tragedy. We don’t know what happened . . .’

I sneaked a look at Elemon and the others. They didn’t seem to realize the victim was Duzi – one of us.

Geos nodded. ‘I don’t want the kids to know either,’ he agreed. ‘Not until after the performance, at least. It’s dangerous enough as it is, without distraction. What possessed the young fool to go into the pen?’

‘And please, can we cover him up?’ Tinos added as he turned away.

‘Cover him with what?’ Geos muttered as Tinos disappeared into the tunnel. I looked around. All the bull leapers except for Obelix and me were clad in loincloths, and I was the only one wearing a jacket and a linen blouse as well as a skirt. At sixteen, I felt awkward running through the town half-naked so I covered my loincloth with street clothes. I slipped off the skirt and held it out to Geos. Although the skirt was an old one, and both faded and shabby, I wore it often. I would not be happy if Duzi’s blood stained it and made it unwearable. But right now, I didn’t see what else I could do.

Geos nodded his thanks and draped the garment over Duzi’s face. ‘And what am I supposed to do about bull leapers,’ the old man grumbled. ‘Half the team is too young and untried – still basically children.’

I knew Geos did not like sending me in. Geos and my grandfather had been close friends and although we honored the Goddess with the dance, it was dangerous. Injuries and, yes, deaths were common. Geos didn’t want to see me hurt. That was why he had been so ready to accept Duzi into our ranks. The barbarian was untried but also strong and lithe. He learned the acrobatics quickly. Geos had had high hopes for him.

I guessed today I would leap over the bull’s back more than a few times. Although we numbered thirteen without Duzi, we were only nine once the youngest – Costi, Nub and the twins – were taken out.

I dropped my linen blouse and jacket on the belt, stripped the bangles from my arms and ran my fingers through my hair to remove the hair clips and ropes of beads. Automatically, I dropped them on my clothing. But I did not join the line of bull dancers waiting to parade into the arena. Instead, I returned to the body. Poor Duzi. At least the protection of my skirt offered him some dignity. I shifted it to cover his face more thoroughly and saw to my dismay that the cloth was already stained. I doubted the marks would ever wash out. But with the blood wiped away, the wounds on Duzi’s face and chest were now more easily seen. There was something odd . . . As I bent over the body to get a closer look, Geos shouted at me.

‘Martis! What are you doing? Come on. We have to go. We’re late already.’

I jumped. ‘Coming.’ I quickly squeezed in between Arphaia and Thaos. After a growth spurt this past summer, I no longer stood at the front but in the middle.

Although it was not yet raining, the sky was overcast and the air was cool. The hot dry summer had ended, and we were moving into the cooler, wetter autumn. In another week or so, the farmers would begin sowing the wheat and barley in the fields.

But today, and for the next few days, we celebrated the grape harvest.

We were a somber group that paraded around the arena, entertaining the crowd with handstands and somersaults. As we queued up at one end of the space, and I looked at my teammates forcing smiles as they waved at the audience, I wondered how they would behave if they knew who lay dead in the bull’s pen.

With a self-conscious grimace, Obelix removed her skirt.

Flowers rained down upon us – but not the brightly colored blooms of spring. Mostly narcissi and crocus bloomed now, so we were showered in yellow and purple.

A few moments later, the bull handlers released the animal into the arena. The black auroch, although not a small animal, appeared smaller to me than the white bull. But this one also seemed more energetic. He snorted and pawed the ground in the middle of the arena, watching us with his shiny black eyes.

Elemon nervously touched the thick ropy scar that twined around his torso. He’d finally recovered from the wound sustained in a ceremony seven or so months ago, but it had been a difficult convalescence.

Tinos, still in his long robe, leaned forward, his face twisted with sympathy. He was a former bull leaper himself and wore a scar almost identical to Elemon’s around his waist.

Tryphone took up his position. He was two or three years older than I was and almost as dark as Duzi. Tryphone had come to Knossos from a town on the eastern side of Crete. I don’t think any of us knew why he’d left Gortnya and traveled east. But Geos had been overjoyed to discover Tryphone was already an experienced bull leaper.

At Geos’s nod, Arphaia moved around to the rear of the bull where she would catch us as we dismounted. Geos usually chose her as the catcher; a farmer’s girl, she was cautious but not afraid of the beast. But she was graceless as an acrobat. Short and stiff, her flips over the bull’s horns usually dropped her right behind the beast’s head in a clumsy sitting position.

Geos looked up at the High Priestess. As usual, she did not smile, and her expression was as rigid as a statue’s. Her obsidian-dark eyes flicked over us, and then she nodded. Geos gestured at Tryphone. He moved forward.

His bronzed arms reached out to grasp the bull’s horns, and his legs lifted up until I could see the soles of his boots. He used the momentum from the bull’s head toss to flip over, landing easily on the bull’s black back. With a salute and a bow to the High Priestess, Tryphone jumped down, barely touching Arphaia’s hand for balance.

Since Obelix and Thaos would jump after Elemon, who had just stepped forward for his performance, I allowed my mind to wander. Wondering what exactly Duzi had been doing in the bull’s pen was so much easier than imagining his fear as the bull charged. I recalled the drying streaks of blood; he had not died much before the arrival of us bull dancers. Of course, that did not tell me when he might have gone into the bull’s pen. Or how long he had been inside suffering the bull’s attacks.

My mind went reluctantly to my last sight of the body. Something bothered me about the wounds. I knew what the injuries caused by a bull’s horns and hooves looked like; during the last year, I’d seen more than I cared to. The blunted horns left craters and long gashes in human flesh. And the battering left by the monstrous hooves was especially memorable; the power and the weight of the bull resulted in large bruises and broken bones. But there was something—

‘Martis!’ Geos’s voice suddenly interrupted my thoughts. ‘What is the matter with you?’ Coming out of my deep thought, I blinked at him. He gestured at the bull standing in the middle of the arena. I gulped. I usually spent a few minutes mentally preparing myself for the run across the sand, the careful stretch out to grasp the bull’s horns and finally the leap up and over. ‘Go,’ Geos said impatiently.


Excerpt from On the Horns of Death by Eleanor Kuhns. Copyright 2024 by Eleanor Kuhns. Reproduced with permission from Eleanor Kuhns. All rights reserved.




5 stars!

Intriguing historical mystery uniquely set in ancient Crete. 

On the Horns of Death is the second book in Eleanor Kuhns’s unique historical series, the Ancient Crete Mysteries, and features a precocious and talented young female bull dancer as the main character and amateur sleuth. With its engaging protagonist and uncommon setting, this intriguing mystery completely immersed me in the life of this early civilization. 

Martis, the main character, is the 16-year-old daughter of a weaver priestess who trains and performs as a member of the troop of bull dancers during celebrations and religious ceremonies in Knossos. She’s a curious and precocious young woman and, like most at that age, is somewhat undecided on what path she wants her future to take. For now, though, she lives for the excitement and adrenaline rush of leaping over the horns of a charging bull in front of large crowds of people. Her quick wit and sharp eye for details give her insights others overlook but also get her into trouble, especially when on the trail of a murderer. Besides her unusual choice of entertainment, she’s a relatable and likable heroine. 

The plot starts with Martis’s discovery of the dead body of a new bull dancer. The assumed cause of death is from the bull in whose pen the victim was found. Right away, Martis notices oddities regarding the victim’s wounds and realizes there’s a murderer responsible for Duzi’s death. Unfortunately, the suspects include the other bull dancers, who are all Martis’s trusted friends and fellow performers, or several close friends of her older sister, Opis, who died the previous year, creating a difficult and sensitive dilemma for Martis in her investigation. She is assisted in her inquiries by the ghost of another deceased family member, Arge, her sister, who was murdered at her own marriage ceremony. 

The ancient setting on the island of Crete offers its own attractive and unique aspects to the story. Other than through this series, I am only vaguely familiar with this culture and time period and have thoroughly enjoyed the immersive nature of the author’s storytelling. I remember motifs from ancient pottery when reading descriptions of activities, clothing, and even hairstyles. 

With its endearing main character, unusual setting, and entertaining plot containing plenty of surprises, I recommend ONE THE HORNS OF DEATH to traditional, historical, and cozy mystery readers.

*Read my review of Book One of the Ancient Crete Mystery series, In the Shadow of the Bull, here!

Author Bio:

Eleanor Kuhns

Eleanor Kuhns is a previous winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel competition for A Simple Murder. The author of eleven Will Rees mysteries, she is now a full-time writer after a successful career as the Assistant Director at the Goshen Public Library in Orange County, New York.

Catch Up With Eleanor Kuhns:
Instagram - @edl0829
Twitter/X - @EleanorKuhns
Facebook - @writerkuhns



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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Book Blitz: Symmetry by Dimm Lamp

Dimm Lamp

Science Fiction
Independently Published
Publication Date: August 22, 2023
Page count: 445 pages


Survival knows no bounds in the depths of space. Are you ready to uncover the chilling truth?

Spaceship Seven Ocean is sent to investigate a mysterious object near Pluto. As they approach it, they receive a distress call from Auria, the radar operator. She claims that everyone aboard is killed in fire after oxygen leak. The engineers soon find out that the oxygen tanks indeed have been damaged. They fix the tanks and avoid a deadly accident. But it doesn’t change the fate of the ship. The crew is erased one by one, while charred corpses appear on the floor as a haunting reminder of their inevitable fate. Only Salin, the co-pilot, is left alive. She is trapped in a tomb-like vessel with an unknown force. As she fights for survival and uncovers the truth, she realizes she is not alone in the darkness.

A gripping tale of survival and mystery, Symmetry will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very end. Fans of The Martian and Gravity will also love this heart-pounding adventure.

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