Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Copper Waters (Annalisse, #4) by Marlene M. Bell

Copper Waters (Annalisse Series #4)Copper Waters by Marlene M. Bell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This series keeps getting better and better!

When Verina announced that Alec Zavos was the father of her young son, Noah, Annalisse Drury felt she had to turn down his marriage proposal until the matter of paternity was resolved. She needed to step back and regroup before planning for a future together.

She was also burdened by questions regarding her own past; her mother had almost come clean about Anna’s parentage. The people Anna had thought were her parents turned out to be complicit replacements. But, before Kate revealed the truth about her real father, she took off again.

Soon after, a note from an old friend of her mother’s, the heir to a vast sheep station in New Zealand, arrived, inviting her to come for a visit; Anna decided to take him up on his offer. If anyone knew where her mother was, Ethan was most likely to be the one. Also, she and Alec could use a little time and distance to reflect on how to proceed going forward.

Alec, worried about Anna traveling alone (she’d proven to be a magnet for trouble in the past), arranged for his best friend, private investigator Bill Drake, to join her on the flight as a protective measure. Still, from the moment the two set down in Christchurch, trouble finds them with first one murder and then another dogging their every step.

Copper Waters is the fourth book in Marlene M. Bell’s captivating international mystery series, Annalisse. It seems that with each subsequent book, this series keeps getting better and better.

This time, our heroine, confused and hurt over her boyfriend’s refusal to take care of business regarding a paternity claim hanging over his head, spontaneously heads off to New Zealand in search of her mother and answers to her own origins. She and her traveling companion, Bill Drake, unknowingly walk into the middle of a situation that has resulted in the death of a local character and environmental activist. While Ethan Fawdray proves to be too distracted by station business to play host, his family makes it abundantly clear Anna and Bill are not welcome, and Anna’s mother has already flown the coop yet again. Still, Anna learns some critical details about her father.

Even after the rude welcome and Anna’s and Bill’s decision to try and make the most of their trip seeing the sights, the action keeps dragging them back into the drama on the sheep station. The author includes some wonderful descriptions of the countryside and small towns, which really gives the story a local flavor. Even the bach sounded charming! Poor Anna doesn’t come away unscathed, though. Between multiple bouts of indigestion and some tainted tea, there wasn’t a meal that went by that ended well. She was a trooper throughout, though. I liked that Alec and Anna didn’t take long to sort out their feelings for each other. I really like this couple. But Bill is a very sympathetic odd-man-out and needs to meet someone, too.

However, this book is ultimately a mystery, and there are some good suspects to consider who is behind the murders and mayhem. While one revelation was no surprise and a natural, another was a shocker and a well-done one at that! I will wonder what will happen with that situation for quite a while.

I recommend COPPER WATERS to fans of the previous books in the series and the complete series to mystery readers who enjoy international settings, romantic suspense, intrigue – both foreign and domestic, and stories involving art and ancient antiquities.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Lone Star Book Blog Tours.

View all my reviews

Monday, February 27, 2023

Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway: Falling Into Magic (Destiny Falls Mystery and Magic, #1) by Elizabeth Pantley

Falling into Magic by Elizabeth Pantley Banner

Falling into Magic

by Elizabeth Pantley

February 27 - March 10, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


Falling into Magic by Elizabeth Pantley

An accidental journey through a magic mirror. A portal to an enchanted land. A mysterious family she never knew she had. Hayden's life is upended with the wonder of Destiny Falls. But it is tainted by the danger that brought her here and that threatens her newfound family. Can Hayden and her sassy sidekick remove the threat, so that she can begin her magical new life in this captivating world?

~~~ Nominated by The Cozy Escape Book Club for BEST BOOK in the Cozy Escape Awards ~~~

…When Hayden was a child, she lost her cat. Adults told her the cat ran away, but she knew the truth. The mirror had taken her. She knew because the mirror gave her a glimpse of an alternate world and had nearly pulled her in, so she was certain the cat had suffered that fate.

Twenty years later, Hayden discovers the secret of the mirror when she is thrust into it. She learns of an enchanted world she never knew existed, and a family she never knew she had.

But danger brought her here, and it followed her. Now, Hayden is on a mission to remove the threat, so that she can begin her magical, meaningful new life in this enchanted world.

Praise for Falling into Magic:

"Will blow you away!"
Cozy Mystery Book Reviews

"Absolutely brilliant, delightful, magical story. This is one book that you cannot stop reading. More please, much, much more!"
Carol, Goodreads

"Oh my goodness this was SO GOOD!! Please do yourself a favor and read this book."

"A captivating read! A great story, full of interesting people and places, with surprises around every corner."
Linda C. Goodreads

"This is no run-of-the-mill paranormal book! Unique ideas. You will be glad this is a series!"
Susan G. Amazon

"A magical, delightful tale with a quirky cast of characters, engaging dialogue, a pleasantly appealing universe, and an intriguing plotline that I could not put down"
Dru Ann, drusbookmusing.com

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery; Paranormal Cozy Mystery
Published by: Better Beginnings, Inc.
Publication Date: November 2020
Number of Pages: 352
Series: Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic, Book 1
Book Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

Twenty Years Ago

Nana and Gran always told me I could figure anything out. They said I had a sharp mind and an abundance of curiosity. I knew I could make the drawbridge work on the castle I was building. Just a few more hinge pieces and maybe a rubber band and a paper clip. I found the pieces and worked to connect them.

I stepped back to look at my creation and caught a glimpse of it in the mirror above my dresser. I stepped closer. It was my castle I was seeing. But it wasn’t. The reflected version was glowing and floating on carpet that looked more like a cloud.

I turned around, squinted my eyes, and spied my castle. My non-glowing, non-floating castle, sitting on the beige carpet. I giggled. Nana was always saying I let my imagination run away with me. I shrugged my shoulders and turned my back to the mirror.

I added a few more pieces and was pleased to see my drawbridge could go up and down. Success!

“Look at that, Fluffball! I made a real drawbridge!” My new pet rubbed against my legs and meowed. It was fun to have a friend. Growing up with no brothers or sisters sometimes made me lonely. A cat wasn’t exactly someone to build with, but it was someone to talk to, and I liked that.

I placed my favorite piece on top — a flag I had painted. It was my castle’s crest: a shield with a waterfall and an old-fashioned goblet like the one on our bookcase.

Standing up, I took a slow trip around my creation. As I moved around the back, I saw the mirror-version castle. It was still glowing, still floating — and now, it had a small flag with my crest on top. But the flag was waving in the breeze from the open window overlooking the sea. The sea? I lived in the city and could see only the other homes in our neighborhood from my bedroom window.

As I moved closer to the mirror, I saw a child’s arm wave over the structure, and then, suddenly, a boy came into view. His eyes popped open, and his mouth made a wide, soundless “O.” He was about my age, maybe a little older. He stepped closer to the mirror, tilting his head to the side, and reached out toward me. I sucked in a breath and spun around to look behind me. There sat my castle, my bedroom, my bed. The same as always. I very slowly turned back to the mirror and gasped. The boy had his face pressed up against the other side, looking directly at me!

He smiled and waved. I smiled and waved back. He pointed at his castle and then pointed at mine and gave me a wild, dancing two-handed thumbs-up. I laughed at him. He laughed, too. I could see the happy crinkles by the corners of his eyes, but there was no sound. My real bedroom seemed to fade, and the mirror room was becoming clearer.

“Hayden, time to go to the park. Come on downstairs!” Nana’s voice startled me, and I jumped back. My own room snapped back into focus. The boy looked confused. Then he smiled brightly and motioned for me to come over to his side of the mirror to play.

I stepped forward and reached toward the reflection. My hand should have been touching the surface of the mirror, but there was no surface to touch. Nana called me again to come downstairs. My bedroom seemed wavy now, in the same way that things looked when I swam underwater in the pool. Yet the castle in the mirror was crisp and colorful.

Fluffball meowed and jumped up onto the dresser. At that exact moment, a bright flash came out of the mirror. I grabbed Fluffball, jumped backwards and landed on the floor with a thump. Then I ran downstairs and went to the park with Nana.

Two days later, when I came home from school, Fluffball was gone. We waited for days, hoping she’d return. We put up posters in the neighborhood. But after a while, we had to admit that my cat was gone for good. Nana and Gran tried to tell me that Fluffball must have snuck out when a door was open. But I knew the truth. The mirror had taken her.

After that day, I didn’t trust mirrors. They even had to take the mirror out of my bedroom. As I grew up, I remained uneasy around them. As a teen, I learned to put on my makeup and do my hair in the reflection of the shower door or in my small compact mirror. Sometimes, when I walked by a mirror, I would swear I saw a man in there, looking at me. I came to understand that it could be any mirror, but not every mirror. It was unpredictable. Over time, I convinced myself it was a good image that I saw — like a guardian angel. He became a welcome sight.

If anyone questioned me, I explained away my unease by saying I was superstitious, breaking a mirror meant seven years of bad luck and all that, because the truth was harder to believe.


Excerpt from Falling into Magic by Elizabeth Pantley. Copyright 2022 by Elizabeth Pantley. Reproduced with permission from Elizabeth Pantley. All rights reserved.




5 stars!

Fun and fanciful, with just the right amount of menace lurking around the edges of cozy mystery debut.

Falling Into Magic is the debut novel in author Elizabeth Pantley’s paranormal cozy mystery series, Destiny Falls Mystery and Magic. The story is fun and fanciful, with just the right amount of menace lurking around the edges of the mysterious tale.

Hayden is the plucky heroine with an amazingly accepting and positive outlook on life and all the magical happenings, and she's just so likable. It was unique that she and her friend, Luna Caputo, worked together on an online natural living magazine. In a twist from being a typical report, this highly portable occupation allows freedom to travel and provides a broad cover story, when needed, to solve mysteries or disappear into Destiny Falls. And although Hayden had a loving and joy-filled childhood, things really started out rough for her. The “Minis” were so alive and vibrant. Her older brother, Axel, experienced a different environment growing up with his extended family.

This author’s writing never fails to capture and hold my attention from start to finish. In fact, the prologue for this book, while short, was one of the most compelling I’ve read in a while. And with that kick-off, the tension steadily builds. That opening is awesome!

I liked that there were several cats in the story. I liked how Sassy/Princess Latifa’s personality blossomed once she could communicate. She sounded just like what I thought a cat would if it could speak its mind. I enjoyed the comments sprinkled throughout, which are some fun observations giving a humorous nod to pop culture.

Published in late 2020, I am so happy to note that there are already five more books in the series! I certainly look forward to falling into those soon. I recommend FALLING INTO MAGIC to cozy mystery readers who enjoy a touch of the paranormal or magic in their stories and fans of the author’s other series.

Author Bio:

Elizabeth Pantley

Elizabeth Pantley is the international bestselling author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution and twelve other books for parents. Her books are published in over twenty languages. She is also the author of the popular Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic series an the new Magical Mystery Book Club series. She lives in the Pacific Northwest and is the mother of four and Nana to one. She hopes you have as much fun reading these books as she has writing them. Visit her & sign up for her mailing list at nocrysolution.com.

Catch Up With Elizabeth Pantley:
BookBub - @DestinyFalls
Instagram - @destinyfallsmystery
Facebook - @DestinyFallsMysteryandMagic



Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews and giveaway entries!



Join In:

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



Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours


Sunday, February 26, 2023

Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway: Murder Served Neat (Cocktails and Catering Mystery, #2) by Michelle Hillen Klump


Murder Served Neat
A Cocktails and Catering Mystery
Michelle Hillen Klump

Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting - Texas
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: February 21, 2023

Page count: 320 pages
ISBN-10: 1639102345 / ISBN-13: 978-1639102341

Page count: 314 pages
Digital ASIN: B09ZRLRFB4


About Murder Served Neat

Reporter-turned-mixologist Samantha Warren has already thwarted one murder. Now, her world is shaken—definitely not stirred—once again as another killing throws her world into chaos.

Samantha is mixing up traditional cocktails at the German Texan Lodge’s Fourth of July festival—a gig she was roped into by her mother. But amidst the bratwurst and brass bands, trouble is brewing. Lodge loyalties are divided over a proposal to build a private, country-club-style tennis center on the lodge grounds. Her mom’s best friend Patty Davis is vehemently opposed to the plan. Society matron Angela Clawson is all for it. At the festival, they’re seen in a heated argument—and hours later, Angela is found dead, killed by one of the ceremonial shovels intended for the groundbreaking.

Samantha’s mother begs her to help clear her best friend’s name, but can she handle another murder case or will the whole investigation go bottoms up?

4 stars!

Engaging characters and a page-turning plot will keep readers guessing!

Murder Served Neat is the second book in author Michelle Hillen Klump’s delightful Cocktails and Catering Mystery series, and it is a fine follow-up to the debut. The unique mother-daughter sleuthing combination works together to solve a murder and clear the name of a family friend.

Samantha Warren is good-hearted and fun as she creates signature cocktails, even if they are to mark an unusual event: a funeral. She is a relatable and engaging young woman and must deal with a disappointing incident in her past involving the son of the main suspect and her mother’s oldest and dearest friend. Having made it clear that she wants to take a budding relationship with a character from the first book slowly, she finds herself the object of interest of not one but two men. Her journalistic experience stands her in good stead as she seeks out clues. Lilian is entertaining and sometimes alarming as she tries to help her BFF, Patty, out of her dilemma. Together, mother and daughter, librarian and former reporter, work their way through a worthy list of possible suspects.

The murder mystery itself is solid and kept me turning pages from the very start. The author’s writing style is easy and engaging, and I was quickly drawn into Samantha’s current case. The story is brimming with mentions of delicious-sounding entrees from the catering side of her business as well as lip-smacking libations that had me snacking my way through this book in defense. Readers who enjoy recipes for the dishes and drinks mentioned in their stories won’t be disappointed.

With its engaging characters and a page-turning plot that will keep readers guessing, I recommend MURDER SERVED NEAT to mystery lovers who enjoy culinary-themed cozies with the tantalizing talk of good food and drink or a central Texas setting. Also, for all those readers participating in reading challenges, as the events in this book occur over the Fourth of July, it will fulfill the often-used prompt of occurring “during a holiday other than Christmas.”

About Michelle Hillen Klump

Michelle Hillen Klump began her writing career as a newspaper reporter, traveling the back roads of central Texas and Arkansas, reporting on everything from natural disasters to crime and corruption. She’s interviewed former presidents, covered a midnight manhunt through the Ozark Mountains, and learned the finer points of how to break a car window from a looter while covering a hurricane. Now, she uses her experiences as fodder for fiction, writing a cozy mystery series about a former reporter turned craft cocktail caterer.

Michelle lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and young daughter. When she’s not writing or working her day job, she enjoys gardening, reading, exploring Houston’s neighborhoods, hiking and biking, and creating craft cocktails for friends and family.


February 20 – Angel's Guilty Pleasures – SPOTLIGHT 
February 20 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT WITH RECIPE 
February 21 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT 
February 22 – Maureen's Musings – SPOTLIGHT 
February 23 – Jane Reads – CHARACTER INTERVIEW 
February 24 – The Book Decoder – AUTHOR INTERVIEW 
February 25 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW 
February 26 – Guatemala Paula Loves to Read – REVIEW 
February 27 – I'm Into Books – CHARACTER GUEST POST 
February 28 – Cassidy's Bookshelves – AUTHOR GUEST POST 
March 1 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW, AUTHOR GUEST POST
March 1 – Elizabeth McKenna - Author - SPOTLIGHT 
March 2 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT 
March 2 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW 
March 3 – Sapphyria's Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
March 4 – Baroness Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT
March 4 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW 
March 4 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT 
March 5 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT WITH RECIPE 


Have you signed up to be a Tour Host?

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Rain Dance (Rain Mystery Trilogy, #2) by David Homick

Rain Dance (Rain Mystery Trilogy Book 2)Rain Dance by David Homick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The second of the RAIN MYSTERY TRILOGY, RAIN DANCE is another stellar mystery from the pen of author David Homick.

After solving the mysteries of his missing younger brother and his father’s murder, Dillon Bishop and his mother left Bradley, Texas, in their rearview mirror for the Red Valley Ranch in Redfield, Colorado. The ranch is home to the woman Dillon thinks may be “the one,” Jenn Myles, and for him, home is where the heart is.

Their arrival surprised and pleased Jenn, but Dillon also had a shock waiting. The young boy he’d saved from the rubble of an Afghani village was there. Jenn had gotten close to the child while overseas and had gotten him into the country. She was in the middle of arrangements to adopt Alex. But that wasn’t all. Jenn had inherited the ranch equally with her cousin, Seth McDonald, and Seth made it clear he thought Dillon, his mother, and Alex didn’t belong there.

Not to be run off from the woman he loved, Dillon pitched in on the ranch, ready to do whatever it took to fit in. But as the days passed, little things about Uncle Roy’s final days and death failed to add up. And when secret deals that Seth made behind Jenn’s back with a large, commercial marijuana-growing conglomerate come to light, something Roy had wanted nothing to do with, Dillon starts to dig into the truth behind Roy’s death. It becomes immediately apparent that someone doesn’t like it.

Rain Dance is the second book in author David Homick’s exciting Rain Mystery Trilogy, and it is another riveting page-turner of a story. This go-round, Dillon Bishop and Jenn Myles investigate the final days before her Uncle Roy’s death and have a number of possible culprits for a murder that’s been covered up as natural causes. Each of the suspects muddy the waters of truth by adamantly pointing the finger at one of the other candidates.

Dillon is still showing signs of recovery from the PTSD that had plagued him since Afghanistan: Colorado had been good for him in addition to the Rain Dance tea provided by the shaman, Leota, in book one. His apprehension about becoming a father (adoptive) and formalizing his relationship with Jenn was thoughtful and understandable, and I liked that he was working on both. On the other hand, Jenn has some secrets yet to explain, and I will anxiously await the final book in the trilogy for the resolutions to those.

This author’s writing style continues to hit all the right notes. The dialogue throughout and Dillon’s inner voice is perfect. The plot is intriguing, as Dillon and his pal, Cooper Hill, follow the money and outsmart the bad guys. It was a very clever and well-thought-out investigation.

Readers are introduced to Dillon’s new stomping grounds of Redfield, Colorado, and the small town brings with it some fresh new supporting characters. Hattie Scott is a quirky and lovable throw-back to the 60s, as is Charlie “Buck” Owens. I was midway through the story before the penny dropped and on his nickname. (But of course, that’s what it would be!) I hope both returns in the next book. Alex is a wonderful addition to the family that is forming, and I really liked his storyline. With the inclusion of Alex, the horse rescue setting, and Dillon’s inner monologue, I am somewhat reminded of David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter series, only grittier and more serious.

With its compelling plot, engaging characters, and bold-as-brass tactics of the bad guys, I was thoroughly absorbed into another stellar mystery by David Homick. I recommend RAIN DANCE to mystery readers who enjoy a solid plot with an intelligent investigation or a Colorado setting that makes you feel like you’re right next to the characters.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.

View all my reviews

Friday, February 24, 2023

Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway: What the Monkey Saw (Death Doula, #1) by Lynn Chandler Willis

What the Monkey Saw by Lynn Chandler Willis Banner

What the Monkey Saw

by Lynn Chandler Willis

January 30 - February 24, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


What the Monkey Saw by Lynn Chandler Willis

When F.B.I. agent Emily Gayle’s partner is brutally murdered, Emily forsakes her career at the bureau and returns home to the North Carolina mountains to care for her disabled father. Guilt ridden over leaving her partner alone to die, Emily takes a job as an end-of-life caregiver.

Deep in Appalachia, Jude Courtland is desperate for a fast buck to pay for his grandmother’s chemotherapy. Together with his brother Crispin and cousin, Devo, the trio takes to hijacking insulin delivery vans and selling the stolen drugs on the black market. When Emily is assigned to cancer patient Hazel Courtland, the line separating right and wrong begins to blur.

As the hijackings escalate and turn violent, Emily’s intuition hones in on startling evidence she can no longer ignore.

Struggling with the truth, Emily is torn between her conscience and her loyalty to a dying woman. With her own life in jeopardy, Emily’s forced to take a side. Right or wrong, the consequences are deadly.

Praise for What the Monkey Saw:

"A stunning portrait of small town southern crime where characters walk a moral tightrope and risk everything to do what they believe is right. Emily Gayle, who watches people die for a living, is caught up in a drug theft ring and if she's not careful, death will come for her. With breakneck pacing, you'll want to devour What the Monkey Saw in one sitting, but don't—this is one you'll want to savor. Highly recommended series debut for fans of S.A Cosby, Joe Landsdale, and James Lee Burke."

James L'Etoile, Award winning author of Black Label, Dead Drop, and the Detective Penley series

"This tale, ripe and deep with the Appalachian experience, makes us feel sorry for the bad guys and better understand how some people make ends meet to get by. The struggle of living is real. The crime is ugly in some ways and needed in others. Combine all this with Emily Gayle's deep-seeded struggle to overcome her trauma and reluctance to use her investigative prowess and you have a solid, multi-layered, intriguing mystery that still warms your heart, even amidst the hardness of Appalachian living."

C. Hope Clark, award-winning author of The Edisto Island Mysteries, The Carolina Slade Mysteries, and The Craven County Mysteries

"As in the best crime fiction, Lynn Chandler Willis's What the Monkey Saw is about far more than the crimes committed, in this case the hijacking of insulin deliveries in Appalachia. Through the plot of a heist novel, Willis demonstrates how some people respond to the twin pressures of poverty and illness by breaking the law, and she accomplishes this without either glamorizing the crimes or condescending to her characters. Ultimately, What the Monkey Saw stands out as an exploration of death and dying, and how we react to both: the avoidance, the denial of loss, and the acceptance and grief that wash over us like mountain rain, either drowning us or bringing the promise of brighter days just over the next ridge."

Christopher Swann, 2022 Georgia Author of the Year (Detective/Mystery), Author of Never Go Home, A Fire in the Night, and Never Turn Back

"From the very first pages you'll sense that this is something truly special not only a suspenseful story, but one that represents the triumph of the human spirit to survive hardship and confront the inevitable end. A must read!"

Lawrence Kelter, International bestselling author of the Stephanie Chalice Mystery Series

Book Details:

Genre: Crime/Suspense
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: January 2023
Number of Pages: 240
ISBN: 978-1-68512-220-1 (ASIN: B0BMCSK8KG)
Series: The Death Doula Series, Book 1
Book Links: Amazon

Read an excerpt:

Jude Courtland stared through the passenger window of his truck, focusing without blinking on the road so hard his eyes burned. He didn't dare blink. Life could change in that split second and he wasn't going to fuck this up. There was too much riding on it. Like the deal he'd brokered with the pit bull for the money they needed. Plus, his grandma's life depended on it.

His right foot rested lightly on the gas, ready to drop as soon as the van came into view. Beside him in the cab, his baby brother and cousin yakked their never-ending bull shit.

The glimmer of a front bumper edged into sight. Jude's chest tightened, clutching at his lungs, his breath trapped like miners waiting for rescue.

His cousin, Devo, leaned back in the seat as a Ford pickup passed by. "Damn. I thought that was it," Devo mumbled.

Jude's brother Crispin said something back to Devo but Jude didn't grasp it. He concentrated on the intersecting road. Every brain cell he possessed that had survived the weed zeroed in on the two-lane.

A van rounded the curve. "Showtime," Devo said. He and Crispin quickly tugged down their hunting masks. The clock in the console said 2:24.

Jude hit the gas and pulled out in front of the Belton Pharmaceuticals delivery van. The van barely missed the bumper of Jude's truck. Jude saw the driver in the rearview mirror give him the finger. He gunned the engine to pull away from the van, then slammed on the brakes while jerking the wheel to the right. Crispin and Devo were out of the truck before the delivery van had stopped fishtailing to avoid the crash.

They were on the van in record time. Devo yanked the driver's side door open before the driver had time to react. In the same second, Crispin grabbed hold of the driver with both hands and jerked him out of the cab while Devo climbed over the console into the passenger seat.

"What the hell!" the driver yelled, struggling to stay upright as Crispin tossed him aside. He was an older dude, paunchy in the middle, and no match for Crispin.

The driver didn't see it that way and lunged for Crispin. Jude's throat tightened. The stupid driver may have signed his death warrant.

Crispin body-slammed the man to the rocky ground and before the man reacted, Crispin had the barrel of a .38 pressed between the man's eyes.

"No, no, no," Jude whispered to himself. "Don't do it, Crispin." His gut muscles tightened as he silently prayed his brother would for once, just once, act like he had some goddamned sense.

The driver pissed himself, cowering and begging for his life. The dark piss spot spread across the front of his uniform khakis. Probably shit himself, too. Crispin drove his size 15 boot into the man's ribs once to make his point and again out of pure meanness. With the man crumpled in a heap of moans, pleading for no more, Crispin spit on him before climbing into the driver's seat.

Jude backed the truck up enough to straighten it in the road. He pulled away with Crispin and Devo behind him in the van. The old guy writhed on the side of the road, his pants loaded with piss and shit, his face covered with spit. Jude looked at the clock in the console. 2:30.

He smiled. Damn, they were getting good at this.

Jude drove to the spot they had scouted. Crispin and Devo followed in the van. He guided the truck down a dirt path, the wheels bouncing over exposed roots. The undercarriage scraped a time or two. Low hanging brush glided over the hood. "Damnit. If this shit scratches my truck," he mumbled to no one but himself.

Finally, a mile deep, the land opened up to a grown-over field. Broken fence posts stood defeated by the elements near the far tree line. Jude pulled off the path and came to a stop. The area spooked him. He didn't know anything about this part of North Carolina. His knowledge of the state centered around Boone town limits. Unlike his home in Tennessee, where he knew every back road, these roads were squiggle marks on Google Maps.

Jude killed the engine. Crispin turned the van around and backed it up so the rear doors lined up with the truck bed. They all three got out at the same time and went to work.

Jude slapped at a mosquito that had landed on his neck. He scanned the area, looking for a pond he might have missed on the satellite image. If he'd missed a body of water, what else had he missed?

Devo handed him one of the cold boxes full of insulin and Jude shoved it to the back of the truck bed. Standing on the tailgate, he waved his hands at Crispin and Devo to hurry with the others. "Come on, come on."

Crispin, the big dumb brute, carried two boxes at once to speed things up. Thirty minutes into this heist and they still had half the van to unload. Jude swore sirens passed in the distance. The unfamiliar surroundings of this area made him jumpy and kept his nerves on edge. No way to see anything through the overgrown thickets and underbrush tight as a steel wool pad. No way to see someone coming up on them.

"We gotta get outta here," Jude said, more firmness in his voice.

Devo, skinny as a broomstick but strong as a mule, put some urge to his step and copied Crispin, moving two at a time. Sweat trickled down Jude's back as he worked quickly to secure the containers in the bed.

"Whatdaya think?" Devo said, handing off the boxes. He scratched at the beard tickling his chest. "Gotta be twenty grand worth?"

"Ain't gonna be worth shit if the cops show up." Pushing forty minutes. Jude hopped down and started helping to transfer the containers himself.

They had to be in Beckley by six P.M. Thirty minutes for the deal and back on the road and home to Mountain City by nine. He didn't like leaving his grandmother alone all that time.

Two-by-two, they moved the cold boxes until the transport van was empty. Jude and Devo pulled the canvas tarp over the bed of the pick-up and secured it while Crispin wiped the van of prints. A few minutes later, with Jude and Devo waiting in the cab waiting, Crispin poked his head through the open passenger door. "We might have a problem."

Jude glared at Crispin a moment. He scrambled out of the cab, rushing to the van with Devo right behind him. His mind whirled with possibilities and none were good. Crispin led the charge to the passenger side of the drug supply van, yapping a mile a minute.

"I don't know where it came from. I swear it wasn't there when we snatched the van. Was it, Devo?" He carefully opened the door, scared something was going to jump out at him.

For a moment, Jude couldn't speak. When the words finally came, he spoke so softly he wasn't sure he'd said anything. "What the fuck?"

A monkey wearing a diaper and a tiny striped t-shirt stood on the seat, staring them down.

"It's a fucking monkey," Devo said. "One of those cappuccino things."

"Capuchin," Crispin corrected. He reached his hand into the cabin, slowly. The monkey watched with curiosity.

"What the hell are we supposed to do with it?" Devo balked.

"We can't leave him here. He'll die." Crispin didn't know his ass from a hole in the ground, but he knew his animals.

Jude backed away from the van, assessing the situation. Damnit! A monkey. A fucking monkey. Jesus Christ.

"What are we gonna do?" Devo said.

With his own .38 pressed against the small of his back, a quick solution came to mind. Jude jerked the Glock from his jeans and racked a round. Before he brought it up to fire, Crispin plowed into him like a linebacker, taking them both down. Every ounce of air in Jude's lungs whooshed out as his back slammed against the ground. The gun flew from his hand and skittered to a landing a few feet away.

"What the fuck?" Jude pushed against Crispin's 250 pounds, trying to free himself from underneath, trying to reach the gun.

Crispin raised up but held Jude's shoulders pinned to the ground. "I ain't gonna let you kill him, Jude. Say you ain't gonna hurt him. Say it," he hollered.

Rage flamed deep in Jude's belly. He spit in his brother's face, ignoring the backsplash his own face absorbed. Beneath clenched teeth, he mumbled, "Get off of me, Crispin."

Crispin pressed harder on Jude's shoulders until Jude was sure they'd cracked. Every broken twig and sharp-edged rock bore into his back. "Get the hell off me, Crispin."

Crispin pushed harder. "Say you ain't gonna hurt it. Say it!"

"I ain't gonna hurt the goddamn monkey," Jude yelled.

Devo tugged at Crispin's t-shirt. "Come on, man. He said he weren't gonna hurt it."

Crispin moved slowly off his older brother. Jude staggered up, rolling his shoulders to ease the pain. He walked it off, his heart hammering in his chest. He couldn't let Crispin think he'd won.

He spun around and caught Crispin with a closed fist below his left eye. He punched him again, this time connecting with his brother's left cheek bone. Crispin's head snapped backwards. He stumbled but didn't go down. Devo moved between them, hands on Jude's chest, pushing him toward the truck.

"Jesus Christ, you two," Devo said. “You can kill each other after we get the money."

Jude staggered to the truck. He climbed behind the wheel, clenching his teeth so hard he worried he'd chipped a molar. His back hurt, his shoulders hurt, and the skin on his knuckles was busted. Devo slid beside Jude creating a barrier between the brothers. There'd always been a barrier. Always would be.

Safely inside the cab, Devo handed Jude the .38.

Crispin climbed in with the monkey cradled in his arms like a baby. He sat it in his lap long enough to buckle up.

"Maybe we can take it to the drug company and they'll get it back to its owner," Devo said.

So angry he wanted to spit, Jude's hands shook as he gripped the steering wheel. His knuckles were already swelling. Devo's bony-ass elbow jabbed him in the ribs as his cousin pushed closer to make room for Crispin. "We can't take him back, Devo. Think they're gonna believe we found him on the side of the road?" Jude said.

He maneuvered the truck over the dirt pathway, trying to avoid the gullies and tree roots. The wheels bumped over a small mound of rocky dirt and finally grabbed hold of the asphalt. The two-lane snaked around the mountain in back-to-back S curves and emptied into the highway. Jude picked up I-81 and escaped into his own mind for the two-hour ride.

Too many thoughts ran rampant through his head. Crispin talking non-stop about the damn monkey. Arguing with Devo. The cab of the truck, stuffy as shit. Body odors, stale cigarettes, crusted sweet tea in his Gas-N-Go thermal cup. Jude punched the air conditioner as low as it would go, hoping to circulate some air.

He didn't like leaving their grandmother, Hazel, alone this long. Maybe with the next heist, he'd stay back and let Devo and Crispin make the run? Not a smart move. He couldn't trust either one of them to not fuck something up. Besides, that lady from the agency would be there sometime this week to sit with Hazel. Emily something-or-nother.

Jude jacked up the volume of the radio hoping some Tyler Childers would drown out his arguing brother and cousin. They'd all squabbled since Jude could remember. Back when they were kids, Devo's mom would let Jude and Crispin spend the night on a Saturday, and haul them all to St. Paul's Gospel Church the next morning. Even as kids, in Sunday school, the boys would find something to argue about. While Crispin and Devo fussed, Jude learned the bible stories from the Old Testament and the gospels from the New. Learned his name--Judah--meant the betrayer. Why didn't his momma name him John? The one that meant love.

At thirty-two, Jude and Devo were the same age, Crispin two years younger.

Devo married his high school sweetheart fresh out of school and had been producing kids ever since. There were four red-headed boys like stairsteps and one little blonde named Grace who had Jude wrapped around her skinny little finger. Crispin paid her no mind.

Devo's mom was a good woman. Real Christian-like. Total opposite of Jude and Crispin's mother. There wasn't a pill Tammy Courtland wouldn't swallow or a powder she wouldn't snort or shoot. Jude was fourteen when she od'd. Her death didn't really affect him much. She was hardly around, anyway. Crispin cried some and Jude grew angrier at her even in death because his little brother didn't understand. He was a pain in the ass and dumb as a sack of rocks, but he was Jude's baby brother.

"I heard monkeys throw their own shit," Devo said.

The comment rattled Jude. "They what?"

"They throw their shit at you."

Crispin coochie-cooed the creature like it was a tiny baby. "That's why you put diapers on 'em. Same with a baby."

"Babies don't fling their shit at you," Devo said.

The two continued to argue and Jude wondered if this trip was going to be worth it. Regardless, he needed the money for his grandmother Hazel. He wished the two idiots with him came with an on-off knob like a radio. Just a simple twist to allow him a moment to himself.

When they crossed into West Virginia, Crispin asked, "Can we go to the New River Gorge Bridge?"

"You gonna throw the monkey off the bridge?" Devo said.

"The gorge is thirty minutes north, Crispin. We ain't got time this trip. Maybe on the next one." Any other time, Jude would detour out of the way to take in the sight of the steel structure. The pinch in his shoulder reminded him a while earlier he'd have killed Crispin if he'd still had the gun in his hand.

Five miles outside of Beckley, Jude turned off the highway at the Jesus Saves sign. His gut tightened as he pulled onto the mile-long dirt driveway. This was the third deal he'd brokered with Pansy Thomas and there wasn't a damn thing pansy about him. Dude looked like he ate a pack of pit bulls for lunch.

"Leave the monkey in the truck when we unload." Last thing he needed was Pit Bull Pansy to see them with a monkey in a diaper.

Pansy Thomas stepped out onto the sinking porch of the ramshackle house and hooked his thumb to the back. Jude followed instructions and drove the truck as directed, parking in front of a free-standing garage about twenty yards behind the home. The grass died years ago and had never been re-sewn. Pansy came into view in the rearview mirror, all three-hundred pounds of him lumbering toward the garage. A grease-stained t-shirt with the sleeves cut out rode up on his belly.

Jude got out, followed by Crispin and Devo. They waited while Pansy unlocked the roll-top door of the building and pushed it open. "How many you got?" A toothpick bobbed between his lips when he spoke.

"Twenty-two." Jude went around to the back of the truck and lifted the tarp for the pit bull to inspect the goods.

Pansy removed the toothpick and spat, barely missing Crispin's boot. Jude held his breath and prayed his idiot brother would ignore the blatant insult. Crispin stared at the cab, too preoccupied with the monkey to notice.

The pit bull pulled a stack of bills from his pant pocket. He handed the wad of cash to Jude then turned to Devo and Crispin. "Put 'em on the left near the back."

While his cousin and brother unloaded the cold boxes, Jude counted the money. Twenty-two-thousand, like they'd agreed. He dropped the money in his pocket, satisfied for the moment.

"I've got another order for next week." Pansy said, the toothpick bobbing again. "Y'all up for it?"

"Damn straight."

Pansy offered his meaty hand and Jude shook it, hoping the lady from that agency worked out. He'd hate to leave his grandmother at home alone almost as much as he'd hate back-peddling on a deal with this redneck. Few things in life scared him. Pansy Thomas was one of them.

Chapter 2

My name is Emily Gayle and I watch people die for a living.

At thirty-two, I ran home to Meat Camp, North Carolina, to live rent free with my disabled father when things went south at the Bureau. Pretending to help out dad eased the guilt I carried. Tripoint Transitions didn’t pay near what I'd earned with the F.B.I. But this job wasn't about the money. I didn't pay my penance to the dead. Those struggling for that last breath granted my atonement. Like Hazel Courtland, my newest assignment. I was one more curve away from meeting the next person I'd watch die.

I slowed for the switchback twisting around the mountain. I spotted a sad-looking mailbox at the end of a sparsely graveled driveway and slammed on brakes. "Courtland'' was painted in elementary-style script on the side. The pathway snaked from the road through a dense forest of pines. Streams of sunlight filtered through the trees in spots and lit the path in far-between sporadic waves. My headlights flickered on in reaction to the perceived darkness. The driveway emptied into a clearing, exposing an old house, and beyond that the Appalachian Mountains rising up like sentries standing watch.

The A-frame structure looked like any of the others dotting the mountain landscape. Like most of the inhabitants, the houses appeared tired. The Courtlands’ was no different. Colorless weathered siding could benefit from needed paint along with new shutters to replace the half-slatted ones. The unmowed yard rolled into a forgotten garden on the other side of a free-standing carport with a lean to. Although faded, a blue pickup sat sheltered under the aluminum carport like a prized possession.

I gathered my bag and the folder containing detailed info on Mrs. Courtland. Seventy-six years old, second bought with Leukemia. Lives with her two adult grandchildren. As soon as I got out of the S.U.V., two mutts sauntered up from the side of the house, neither in a hurry to attack nor welcome me. The larger of the two stood knee-high while his cohort stood underneath him. The big dog shied when I offered my hand to sniff but the smaller one greedily accepted a scratch behind the ear. They followed me up on the porch, in no rush, stretching out the kinks from a good night's sleep. The shy one crawled up under a cheap plastic chair like he was hiding and I couldn't see him.

Hand lifted, ready to knock, I jumped when the front door jerked open. A brutish-looking guy stared at me through the screen door. He was as broad as the door was wide. My mind flickered with images of Saturday night wrestling matches at the high school gym with headliners named Pretty Boy or Crusher. The proceeds going to the fire department's ladies' auxiliary. The purple bruise underneath his right eye, along with the busted skin on his left cheek gave credence to the wrestler image.

The big guy gave me the once over. "Who are you?" he said.

Special Agent Emily Gayle came to mind but that was another life ago. "I'm Emily Gayle, from Tripoint Transitions. I'm here to meet Judy Courtland."


Excerpt from What the Monkey Saw by Lynn Chandler Willis. Copyright 2023 by Lynn Chandler Willis. Reproduced with permission from Lynn Chandler Willis. All rights reserved.




5 stars!

Exciting, tense, and utterly unique, WHAT THE MONKEY SAW is one of the best crime novels I’ve ever read.

What the Monkey Saw is the first book in author Lynn Chandler Willis’s new series, Death Doula, and it is one of the most fascinating and unique crime novels I’ve ever read. With characters so finely drawn, you’ll feel as if you knew them personally, its unusual premise, its mix of poignancy, heartache, and heart-pounding excitement, you’ll want to read the whole thing in one satisfying and absorbing session.

I loved the main character, Emily Gayle. She’s haunted by the circumstances of her fiancĂ©’s death and conflicted over leaving her former career, but she feels like what she’s doing now is truly of more service than anything she’s ever done. Much of the story is told from her first-person viewpoint.

Jude Courtland is also carrying many burdens. He is desperate to save his beloved grandmother but, at the same time, aches to be free of his responsibilities. He’s weary from the toll that being a caretaker extracts and feels guilty for his desire for release. He’s also keeping his brother in line, while Crispin seems oblivious to Hazel’s and Jude’s needs. Crispin loves animals, and when he discovers a small capuchin monkey inside one of the stolen vans, he takes it home as a pet, but not until after coming to blows with Jude over that decision. In his early 30s, Crispin is a little boy in a big man’s body.

The story is told in alternating points of view, Emily’s and Jude’s, and this works well as the two separate storylines wind their way toward each other. They came together in a tense collision and kept me on the absolute edge of my seat all the way to its shocking resolution.

I recommend WHAT THE MONKEY SAW to readers who enjoy strong and thrilling crime stories, unusual premises, Appalachian settings, or tales told from the “villain’s” perspective.

Author Bio:

Lynn Chandler Willis

Lynn Chandler Willis is a best-selling, multi-award-winning author who has worked in the corporate world, the television news industry, and had a thirteen-year run as the owner and publisher of a small-town newspaper. She lives in the heart of North Carolina on a mini-farm surrounded by chickens, turkeys, ducks, nine grandkids, a sassy little calico named Jingles, and Finn, a brown border collie known to be the best dog in the world. Seriously.

Catch Up With Lynn Chandler Willis:
BookBub - @lynn361
Instagram - @lynnchandlerwillis_author
Twitter - @LynnCWillis
Facebook - @lynnchandlerwillis.author



Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaway entries!



Enter for a Chance to Win:

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Lynn Chandler Willis. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.



Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours


Cover Reveal, Pre-Order Book Blitz, & Giveaway: Brutal Season (Seasons Mysteries, #4) by Maryann Miller


The Seasons Mysteries Series #4

Police Procedural / Mystery
Publisher: MCM Enterprises
Coming April 10, 2023

Scroll down for Giveaway!

Eighteen-year-old Jamel Frederickson is shot and killed by a white, rookie Dallas police officer. His crime? Being black and mentally ill.

Following that unwarranted death, anger, and violence erupts on the streets, leading to the murders of two protestors who were marching around the downtown federal building.

Detectives Sarah Kingsly and Angel Johnson are thrust into the investigation of those murders, while desperately clinging to the threads of their partnership.

The shootings also raise questions about whether the alt-right white supremacists that invaded the city with their guns and inflammatory rhetoric are responsible.

Will more people get killed?

Is there more than one person out there with an agenda?

When a member of the team, Ryan O’Donnell, is shot while attempting to prevent looting, the tension in the city, and the department, ratchets up even higher. And it deeply affects Angel who’s been pretending she really isn’t falling for this white man.

Angel joins the protests to take a stand against racism in the city and within the department; an action that puts her job, her relationship with Ryan, and her fragile partnership with Sarah at risk.

For her part, Sarah comes to realize that she is not as enlightened as she thought she was, and both women just hope they can come through the personal and professional challenges and end up with something that resembles a true partnership.

While catching the killers in the process.


"In the compelling fourth installment of the Seasons Mystery series, Miller once again tackles difficult subjects in this absorbing, page-turning crime thriller."--Carrie Rubin, author of Fatal Rounds, a Publishers Weekly BookLife Prize Finalist

Maryann Miller, an award-winning author, has been in love with storytelling since she was a child and used to scare her sister with stories of the monsters in the cellar.

When she grew up, she started her professional career as a journalist, writing newspaper columns, feature stories, and short fiction for regional and national publications. Her novels are primarily mysteries, with an occasional mainstream novel thrown into the mix.

Miller is the recipient of the Page Edwards Short Story Award for her story Maybe Someday and the New York Library Best Books for Teens Award for her nonfiction book, Coping with Weapons And Violence In School and On Your Streets. Her mystery, Doubletake, was honored as the Best Mystery by the Texas Association of Authors. She took first place in the short story and screenwriting competition at the Houston Writer's Conference and was a semi-finalist at Sundance for her script “A Question of Honor.” She was also a semi-finalist in the Chesterfield Screenwriting Competition with the adaptation of Open Season, the first book in the Seasons Mystery Series.

When not writing, Miller loves to play on stage and play in her garden. She lives in Texas with her dog and three cats. The cats rule.


FIRST: $50 Amazon gift card
+ signed copies of the first three books in the series.
SECOND: Signed copies of the first three books in the series.
(US only; ends midnight, CST, 3/2/23)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


blog tour services provided by

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Central Station by Joseph Cariffe

Central Station: A Ray DeLuca NovelCentral Station: A Ray DeLuca Novel by Joseph Cariffe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Action-packed and enthralling, I loved Ray DeLuca and cheered for him every step of the way.

The son of an east coast Sicilian mafia boss, young Ray DeLuca, was part of “the life” but entered the Navy instead of following in his father’s footsteps. Sixteen successful years later and a SEAL Chief Petty Officer, he retires to pursue a career in protecting and serving with the San Francisco Police Department. However, on his very first shift at Central Station, he attracts the ire of the Watch Commander, Lt. Flynn, who takes any opportunity to criticize and embarrass him.

Assigned to a two-officer black and white, Ray and his partner, Chinese-American Officer Hank Lau, patrol the Chinatown/Little Italy neighborhoods experiencing an upswing in gang activity. Chinatown, already home to the deadly Ghost Boys, has attracted the notice of a Sicilian mob family, and an influx of wise guys shaking down the business owners for protection money has the area teetering on the brink of an all-out war.

When a domestic violence call goes south, and a Ghost Boy dies, Ray is marked for death with a $50K bounty on his head. Ghost Boys make several failed attempts on his life but still seem one step ahead of Ray at all times. One night while he’s out on a first date with his dream girl, four gang members confront the couple. Ray fights back, injuring two and sending them running. His date, appalled by the violence and frightened out of her mind, never wants to see Ray again. But worse yet, later that night, he is called into Central Station, where Lt. Flynn is gleefully waiting with the news that the thugs he fended off have filed charges and a complaint, intending to sue the city. But when Flynn blames Ray and takes the thugs’ side over his own man, Ray loses his cool standing up for himself and earning himself a suspension.

With his gun, ID, and protection of his badge gone, Ray must now fend off continued attacks from the Ghost Boys on his own while waiting for his opportunity to defend himself, clear his name, and return to the job he loves.

Central Station is a riveting crime thriller featuring the engaging and immensely likable Ray DeLuca. The action is non-stop as the story unfolds and we follow the main character through his trials and tribulations and the will-he-catch-him murder plotline. I was glued to this story from page one until the close, smiling almost the entire time. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and the family ate out while I was reading it. Who has time to cook when you’ve got such a page-turner in your hands?!

Our man Ray is a charming guy with a successful career as a Navy SEAL behind him. He has a couple of relationships with different women during the course of the story, some of which, for a number of reasons, don’t flourish. Like Ray’s mother, though, I have high hopes.

While the action and adventure commands center stage, I loved his interactions with his mother. Whenever he got a care package from home, I was dying to know what she’d sent this time. The discussions of her cooking had me enthralled and ready to head to Sicily (or at least the east coast.) One thing I didn’t go for was how her dialogue was written to convey her accented English, but I don’t know any other way the author could have accomplished this. I eventually got the rhythm of it, and it didn’t slow me down as much as it did initially. I also enjoyed the peek inside THE FAMILY, especially when Ray’s father was incarcerated.

The book is GODFATHER long but literally full of exciting action. The author’s writing is smooth, comfortable, and compelling. It is also the author’s DEBUT novel. Amazing! I can hardly wait to see what comes from his pen next and for Ray DeLuca’s future adventures.

I recommend CENTRAL STATION to readers who enjoy crime fiction with a charming main character, police stories featuring organized crime and criminals, San Francisco settings, and non-stop action/adventures that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Book Review Tour: Any Fin For Love by Petie McCarty

Any Fin For Love
Petie McCarty

Contemporary Romance


Publication Date:

Page count: pages



She could almost hear the fish laughing at her . . .

Cody Ryan’s father never missed fishing the annual Loon Lake tournament until his unexpected passing. So this year, Cody packs up her how-to fishing videos and her dad’s old johnboat and gives him one final entry.

Gage Connor needs some R&R away from his coast guard deployment catching drug smugglers along the Louisiana coast, so he borrows a bass boat from his buddy and heads to Loon, Alabama to do some fishing.

When Gage and Cody meet at Loon Lake, their attraction is immediate and intense—until the two discover there is only one boat slip left on the lake and they both need it, and there’s only one vacant hotel room left in Loon and they both want it. Thus, their competition begins. Both vow to keep their distance from the other to fight the temptation, but fate has other plans. The tournament pairing party picks the two-man teams and chooses Gage as Cody’s partner.

For two days.

Alone on a boat.

Working as a team.

Good things come to those who bait . . .

| Amazon | Kindle


Double damn!
Gage looked over Lila’s head and saw Cody stomping toward the dock, a big Igloo cooler in her arms, fire in her eyes, and steam escaping from her ears. Okay, no steam, but she looked mad enough for some. He swallowed hard and tried to pry Lila’s arms free, but she was having none of that.
“Now you just hold still, cutie patootie,” she drawled, “and let little ole Lila give you my special good-luck hug.” She crushed her barely-covered breasts against his abdomen, causing the neckline on her tank top to droop almost to her navel.
Cody had reached the dock and stomped so hard he could feel the vibration in the boards. Her glare could singe the fins off an alligator gar, and Gage had Lila stuck to him like a tick. He was a sitting duck.
Cody looked even madder now than when she left to get the rest of her gear, which could only mean . . .
Wait a minute! She’s jealous.
Of Lila.
Cody’s glare deepened upon final approach.
And Gage grinned for real.
Zeke Tumson, my ass. She likes me.
He stopped trying to struggle free of Lila and waited for Cody to get to the boat and the fireworks to begin. Lila felt his struggle cease and snuggled in closer, rubbing every inch of her breasts against his gut, then laying her cheek on his chest. A week ago, Lila’s antics might have elicited a very pronounced and noticeable reaction. Today—he glanced down to check—nothing. His gaze shot to Cody steaming down the dock. Had she done this to him?
“Mmmm,” Lila cooed and squiggled her body again, “good luuuuck.”
Cody marched mere steps away. When Lila purred, Cody hesitated for a heartbeat, made a sharp left, stepped down into the johnboat, and proceeded to hook up her livewell.
Gage waited a five-count, but Cody kept her head down and fooled with the tubing attached to the cooler. He knew he had to move. If he didn’t, Lila would be in his shorts any second.
Maybe he should let . . .
Nope, bad idea.
Cody would push him overboard later, then drive off and leave him. Heck, she may already be planning that.
He cleared his throat to be sure Cody heard. “Thanks for seeing us off, Lila,” he said politely.
No reaction from Cody.
“I didn’t come to see her off,” Lila sniped. “Just yooouu,” she cooed and rubbed her breasts against his gut again.
Cody missed it. She never looked up.
“All right, you get on back to your registration table, and let me get to my fishing.” Gage took Lila’s shoulders and physically set her back.
Still ignoring him, Cody finished with the livewell and picked up a fishing rod.
Lila batted her eyelashes. “I’ll be waiting when you get back, sugar. What say we have dinner tonight?”
No way would he answer that question. He just smiled and stuck a foot out to step down in the johnboat at the same instant Lila hooked her finger in his belt loop to tug him back.
Too late, Gage saw the butt end of Cody’s rod push off on the dock cleat, and the johnboat shot back the full three feet of loose bow and stern line.
His sneaker stepped into thin air, and he dropped like a rock.
Gage hit the water at an angle, and Lila followed him in, her finger still hooked in his belt loop.


5 stars!

A contemporary romance with so much more!

Any Fin For Love is a new contemporary romance by veteran author Petie McCarty, and her skilled hand really shows! Not only are there great characters, main and supporting, but the romance is accompanied by bittersweet memories, sparkling dialogue, suspense, and danger, all set around an annual fishing tournament held outside of Loon, Alabama. I was immediately captured by the story, smiling at the circumstances of our two lead characters and turning pages like crazy to see what happened next.
Our heroine, Cody Ryan, retraces her recently departed father’s annual trip to participate in a fishing tournament. Spurred by regret that she was too busy when he was alive, she has the sweetest intentions to honor his annual tradition, but there is just so much she doesn’t know. She slowly realizes her disadvantage, yet she perseveres; she’s one game gal. Our hero, Gage Connor, desperately needs some R&R from his stressful Coast Guard job chasing drug smugglers and is wound tighter than a drum. Why he thought entering a fishing tournament would be a better respite than a leisurely vacation just doing some fishing escaped me (if this were real life.) Still, it was a great device to throw these two together, and his stress adds just that little extra pressure to the situational comedy. I loved their inevitable pairing during the tournament, and all the aforementioned sets the stage for the fun and excitement to come.

This great premise gets dialed up to “11” with the addition of stellar supporting characters, some good and some very shady ones with evil doings on their minds. One of my favorite secondary characters was Dougah Broussard. Introduced early on, I enjoyed his manner of speech with its smattering of Cajun patois and his advice to Gage regarding his love life, work life, and whatever.

With its engaging characters, fun setting, fishing, and multiple storylines, I recommend ANY FIN FOR LOVE to readers who enjoy contemporary romances with a touch of comedy and a good dash of suspense.


Petie spent a large part of her career working at Walt Disney World—"The Most Magical Place on Earth"—where she enjoyed working in the land of fairy tales by day and creating her own romantic fairy tales by night, including her new series, The Cinderella Romances. She eventually said good-bye to her "day" job to write her stories full-time. These days Petie spends her time writing sequels to her regency time-travel series, Lords in Time, and her cozy-mystery-with-romantic-suspense series, the Mystery Angel Romances.

Petie shares her home on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee with her horticulturist husband and an opinionated Nanday conure named Sassy who made a cameo appearance in No Angels for Christmas.

Visit Petie's web site online at https://www.petiemccarty.com or her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/petie.mccarty.


Petie McCarty will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.