Posts Tagged ‘Release Day’

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Blood Dragons

Rebel Vampires

Volume 1

Rosemary A Johns

31348711

 

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Fantasy Rebel Limited

Date of Publication: 14th August 2016

ISBN-13: 978-1533679819

ISBN-10: 1533679819

Large Print Edition:

ISBN-13: 978-1533681362

ISBN-10: 1533681368

Number of pages: 294

Word Count: 80,000

Cover Artist: JD Smith

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Synopsis

There are three people in this affair – and two of them aren’t human…

A hidden paranormal London lies beneath our own. Escape into the supernatural world of the Blood Lifers – where vampires are both predator and prey.

1960s London. Light is a rebel Rocker Blood Lifer with a photographic memory. And a Triton motorbike. Since Victorian times he’s hidden in the shadows. Both predator and prey. His venom is deadly. He feeds on blood. Human, of course. But when he discovers his ruthless family’s horrifying secret experiments, he questions whether he should be slaying or saving the humans he’s always feared.

Ruby is a sexy but savage Elizabethan Blood Lifer. She burns with a destructive love for Light. But he’s keeping something from her. Something that breaks every rule in Blood Life. When she discovers the truth, things take a terrifying turn.

Kathy is a seductive singer. But she’s also human. Light knows his passionate love for her is reckless but he’s enchanted. Yet such a romance is forbidden. When the two worlds collide, it could mean the end. For both species.

What dark revelations will Light reveal at the heart of the experiments? Will he be able to stop them in time? The consequences of failure are unimaginable. Unless Light plays the part of hero, he risks losing everything. Including the two women he loves.

A rebel, a red-haired devil and a Moon Girl battle to save the world – or tear it apart.

Enjoy the excerpt

CHARACTER PROFILES:

A hidden paranormal London lies beneath our own…

1960s London

Light is a rebel Rocker Blood Lifer with a photographic memory. And a Triton motorbike. He’s a Blood Lifer James Dean: rough leather motorcycle jacket, studded and faded, decorated with a worn gold Ace of Spades, collar firmly turned up, over a black t-shirt, jeans and tall motorcycle boots, topped by a light brown pompadour, tamed with Brylcreem. He tried to conforming once: didn’t fit.

When and where elected into Blood Life? Victorian London.

Human name? Thomas Blickle

Favourite music?  The Stones, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, Marty Wilde, Eddie Cochrane, Chuck Berry, The Animals, Them and Billy Fury and THE FOUR JAYS…Light loves his rock ‘n’ roll.

Favourite motorbike? Triton. ‘A sodding scarlet slash of beauty. 650cc Triumph twin-cylinder engine in a Norton ‘slimline’ Featherbed frame – and my bloody god.’

Favourite possession? His leather jacket. For the last 150 years, Light has always owned a ‘blinding coat’.

Favourite phrase? ‘Bollocks vampire myth…’

Who is Ruby? A sexy but savage Elizabethan Blood Lifer in crimson silk. She burns with a destructive love for Light. But he’s keeping something from her. Something that breaks every rule in Blood Life. When she discovers the truth, things take a terrifying turn. ‘Ruby. My red-haired devil, Author, muse, liberator, guide: my gorgeous nightmare.’

Who is Kathy? A seductive singer, with blue eyes and long black curls. But she’s also human. Light knows his passionate love for her is reckless but he’s enchanted. Yet such a romance is forbidden. When the two worlds collide, it could mean the end. For both species.

‘You looked like some little Moon Girl, shimmering in silver: silver-spangled trousers, plastic biker jacket, with poppers and white ankle-length boots. I would’ve blasted into space with you in a bleeding heartbeat… ’

 

About the Author:

Rosmary A Johns Urban Portraits

Rosmary A Johns Urban Portraits

ROSEMARY A JOHNS is a traditionally published author of short stories under the name R. A. Johns. Blood Dragons is Rosemary A Johns’ debut novel.

Rosemary A Johns wrote her first fantasy novel at the age of ten, when she discovered the weird worlds inside her head were more exciting than double swimming. Since then she’s studied history at Oxford University, run a theatre company (her critically acclaimed plays have been described as “uncomfortable, unsettling and uneasily true to life”), and worked with disability charities. When Rosemary’s not falling in love with the rebels fighting their way onto the page, she heads the Oxford writing group Dreaming Spires.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / LinkedIn / Google + / PRWeb

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I’ve enjoyed other books by Kirsten Weiss and was thrilled to hop on this blitz. I want to apologize to Kirsten, Bewitching Book Tours, and all of you readers for being late getting my post up. My internet got zapped in a storm and this is the soonest I could get internet access.

Check out The Mannequin Offensive!

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

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The Mannequin Offensive

Rocky Bridges

Book 1

Kirsten Weiss

30731173

 

Genre: Mystery/Suspense (paranormal)

Publisher: Misterio Press

Date of Publication: July 1, 2016

ISBN: 1-944767-02-9

Number of pages: 328

Word Count: 72,300

 

Book Description:

After an overseas assignment goes bad, all Rocky Bridges wants is out of the global security business. No more personal protection gigs. No more jaunts to third world countries. No more managing wayward contractors. But when her business partner is killed, Rocky must investigate her own company and clients.

Rocky’s no PI, but she’s always trusted her instincts. Knife-wielding mobsters, sexy insurance investigators, and a Russian-model turned business partner are all in a day’s work. Now her inner voice has developed a mind of its own, and she finds herself questioning her sanity as well as reality as she knows it. Rocky can’t trust those around her. But can she even trust herself?

The Mannequin Offensive is a fast-paced novel of mystery and suspense.

 

Release Day Sale. 99

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Chapter 1

It was just meat.

Sickly green tiles, slick with something I didn’t want to identify. A wall of cabinets with square, metallic doors. And on the autopsy table…just meat.

I adjusted my mask, adapted my breathing. My stomach flipped at the smell of ammonia and petroleum. By this point, I should have been used to the oil stink. Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital, reeked of the stuff. It seeped from the ground, staining the sand, hanging heavy in the air. But surely I was imagining the odor here, in the morgue two stories below the city’s streets.

My scalp itched where my blonde hair had been shorn away. My brain throbbed, spun, and I recognized the signs of a potential faint. I relaxed my knees so I wouldn’t pass out and focused on his toes. Not his toes, I mentally corrected, its toes, the corpse’s toes, crooked from a lifetime in dress shoes.

It wasn’t Derek, not anymore. The man who, yesterday, had skipped out on a meeting with Azeri officials to drag me to see the burning gas fields was gone. He’d told me the fields had been holy to the Zoroastrians. Mystical. But he’d told me a lot of wild stories, about missing pirate ships and Vikings who’d made their way down to the Caspian.

“Who knows?” he’d said. “One might have been your ancestor. You look like a Valkyrie, tall and blond and powerful.”

“Viking pirates.” I’d rumpled my hair, scanning the low, brown hills for marauders, pickpockets, and corporate spies. “Sounds like a movie.” And I’d launched into a fantasy screenplay, complete with axe-play, wenches, and a traitorous Viking who’d doomed the expedition.

“They were wiped out by disease,” he’d said.

I’d snorted. “Non-fiction. Who needs it?”

The coroner cleared his throat.

I glanced across the table.

The coroner’s black eyes gleamed maliciously over his surgical mask. I was an intruder, my appearance in his morgue an insult to his professional standards.

“Are you all right?” They were the first English words he’d spoken, and they surprised me.

“I’m fine.” I shrugged. “It’s just meat.”

A sunburst of light glinted off the coroner’s scalpel, expanding, disorienting me.

He placed his fingers on the body’s clavicle.

Oh God, he’s going to cut him. My heart thundered. Meat, I told myself. Just meat.

Something grabbed my leg, and I jerked, woke up. My feet swung off the suede couch, and I swayed drunkenly, blinking.

My neighbor, Glenda, stepped hastily back and adjusted her lightweight green duster. A fit seventy-something, she favored flowy fabrics. Her lips moved, silent. Her white brows creased, and her mouth moved again. Glenda prodded the neat coil of white hair piled upon her head with a long finger.

Shaking my head, I tried to escape the remnants of the nightmare. I yanked the earplug from my right ear. “Sorry. What?”

Sun slanted through the sheer curtains, making rectangles on the burnt orange and blue oriental rug. My dog, Churro, panted on the bamboo floor next to Glenda, his black and white head tilted with concern. He was a dachshund-beagle mix. It was a mystery to me how two short-legged breeds had combined to create a svelte, mid-sized dog that looked like neither. But Churro, like me, was his own dog.

“I said, your phone’s been ringing off the hook.” Glenda raised a white brow. “I can hear it in my townhouse.”

I grimaced. My landline was intentionally loud. I checked my cell, lying on the glass coffee table. Dead. I tugged down the hem of my rumpled, white t-shirt. “What are you doing in here?”

She rested her hands on her narrow hips. “You gave me a key. Remember?”

I remembered. We’d exchanged keys when I’d first moved in. Glenda would water my plants when I was away, and I’d make sure that if Glenda died, her body would be found before being eaten by her cats. (Her words, not mine.) Since I traveled often and Glenda could only be eaten by her cats once, it had seemed a good deal at the time.

I squinted at my fireplace mantel, painted a butter-cream yellow, and the clock perched on it. Three o’clock. My gaze drifted upward to the painting of sunflowers. Happy thoughts. Think happy thoughts.

A garbled murmur turned my attention back to my neighbor. “Did you say something?” I asked.

“Sorry. I keep forgetting.” Glenda motioned toward my head, and my hand automatically rose to the shaved patch of skin above my left ear. Fine hair grew over the puckered scar. I’d tried parting my hair on the other side, covering it up. But it looked odd, and so I wore my blond hair in its usual long braid.

“I asked when you were planning on returning to work. This moping isn’t healthy.” Glenda’s lips pulled down, deepening the lines around her mouth, and I felt an unreasoning guilt.

“I’m not moping, and I’m not returning. I’m done.” I was done with the travel, done with the health hazards, done with the egos. Done, done, done.

Besides, a lifetime of new possibilities stretched before me. I could do anything. I could open a bar. I could open a bookstore. Or a bakery. Or a bookstore and bakery. I could even start something that didn’t start with the letter B. Lifetime of possibilities? There was an entire alphabet of possibilities.

“Done.” Glenda’s mouth pinched. “You’ve been sleeping all day, ignoring your responsibilities…”

“I’m on leave.”

“You’re too old for this.”

“Thanks.” Sheesh. She wasn’t my mom. Though she was old enough to be.

I stood, unpeeled the t-shirt from my back, and arched, feeling rather than hearing the crack. I was built like a German barmaid, able to carry six steins of beer in one hand, all curves and hidden muscle. It had been a useful physique in my role as security consultant. I rubbed my hands over cheeks splattered with freckles.

The dog pawed at my knee, whining.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” I opened the glass door that looked over my fenced garden.

Churro bolted past.

“What will you do?” Glenda asked. For a moment, I thought I heard a hint of motherly concern in her voice.

But I was imagining it.

I watched Churro race in circles, ears flapping, ball in his mouth. He stopped before a New Zealand palm and dropped the tattered ball, cocking his head, as if waiting to play. He nosed the ball toward the plant.

I snorted and shook my head. I loved Churro but was under no illusions about his degree of smarts.

“Well?” Glenda asked.

“Well, what?”

“What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to open a combo wine bar and bookstore.”

Glenda lowered her chin. “You can’t be serious.”

“It’ll be great,” I said, spinning the fantasy. “I’ll call it the Book Cellar. Get it?”

“What do you know about running a wine bar? You don’t even drink wine. You’re a beer drinker.”

“Yeah, but the Book Keller just doesn’t have the same punny ring.” I laid an earnest hand on my chest. “People buy books during the day and drinks at night. It’s an optimal use of the space.”

“What space? Have you already found a space?”

The phone jangled, and I flinched.

“I told you it was loud,” Glenda said.

I walked into the light-filled kitchen and picked up the phone. “Rocky here.”

Someone pounded on the black-painted front door.

I jerked my chin toward the door, covering the phone with my hand. “Would you mind?” I asked Glenda in a low voice.

My neighbor glided toward the door.

The voice on the phone cleared his throat. “It’s Hank.” He paused. “Rocky, you need to prepare yourself for some bad news.”

My breath hitched, and I leaned against the gray granite counter. I knew those words. I’d spoken those words. And there was no way to prepare for what came next.

The front door swung open, and Glenda stepped aside.

Two uniformed police officers walked in.

“Who?” My throat tightened.

“It’s Pete. He’s been killed.”

My brain stumbled, hit a wall. I pressed my palm into the edge of the granite counter, felt its coolness beneath my skin. The bastard couldn’t be dead. I hadn’t forgiven him yet. I tried to swallow, failed.

“Rocky?” Hank asked.

“How?” My voice was a croak.

“Knifed. They found his body in a parking lot this morning. Must have happened sometime late last night.”

I bowed my head and ran my palm over my hair. My scalp was damp with sweat. “What do you need?” I finally said.

“The police are looking to talk to you. Don’t say anything.”

“Why? I don’t know—”

Hank broke the connection.

I stared at the phone. I wasn’t in the habit of blabbing to cops. Over two decades of working in third world countries had taught me the authorities were not my friends. American cops were light years ahead of the thugs I’d dealt with overseas, but old habits died hard. More importantly, there was nothing I could tell the officers. I didn’t know anything.

It made no sense. Pete couldn’t be dead.

The uniformed police moved toward me, their broad faces grim.

I leaned against a cabinet.

I didn’t cry.

About the Author:

Kirsten Weiss

Kirsten Weiss worked overseas for nearly twenty years in the fringes of the former USSR, Africa, and South-east Asia.  Her experiences abroad sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.

Now based in San Mateo, CA, she writes genre-blending steampunk suspense, urban fantasy, and mystery, mixing her experiences and imagination to create a vivid world of magic and mayhem.

Kirsten has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching Ghost Whisperer re-runs and drinking red wine. Sign up for her newsletter to get free updates on her latest work at: http://kirstenweiss.com

Web / Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

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Today is the release day of Rachel Higginson’s Love and Decay: Revolution, Episode Five. This is a serial novella, and completely standalone in the Love & Decay universe. I am so excited to share this with you!! Be sure to enter Rachel’s giveaway as well and grab your copy today!

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About Love and Decay: Revolution: Episode Five:

Revolution Episode 5
It’s not easy being a badass Zombie killer. But somebody’s got to do it.

Page Parker and family have survived the worst of their journey back to the former United States. They managed the Darien Gap and fought their way through Mexico City. But now, on the brink of Revolution, they’ve made one last stop in the Mexican Territories.

Hoping to find an ally in an old friend, they walk into a volatile community fighting more wars than they have Zombie armies for.

But it’s not just cannibals and Colony scouts they have to fear. There are internal battles that have to be fought too.

When Page learns more about Miller’s dark side, she has to confront the reality that maybe he isn’t the hero she thinks he is. Maybe he’s more like his father than she ever thought possible.

Love and Decay: Revolution is a Dystopian Romance Novella Series about Zombies, the end of the world and finding someone to share it with. Every episode is approximately 20,000 words long and released every two weeks. Look for Love and Decay: Revolution, Episode Six coming February 19th, 2016.

Buy now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Catch up on the Revolution

Episode 1: Amazon | BN

Episode 2: Amazon | BN

Episode 3: Amazon | BN

Episode 4: Amazon | BN

Volume 1 (episodes 1-4) Amazon | BN

 

Rachel Higginson Bio:

rachel_profile_pic (1)Rachel Higginson is the author of The Five Stages of Falling in Love, Every Wrong Reason, The Star-Crossed Series, Love & Decay Novella Series and much more!

She was born and raised in Nebraska, and spent her college years traveling the world. She fell in love with Eastern Europe, Paris, Indian Food and the beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka, but came back home to marry her high school sweetheart. Now she spends her days writing stories and raising four amazing kids.

 

Links:

Author Page | Instagram | Twitter | Website

 

Enter Rachel’s giveaway!
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For a list of my reviews go HERE

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Tour BannerGenesis Boxed Set 2

 

Genesis Boxed Set

Genesis [jen-uh-sis]
Definition: an origin, creation, or beginning.

From demons, weres, and vampires, to dragons, shifters, and angels, GENESIS is the ultimate must-have boxed set for any urban fantasy & paranormal romance fan. GENESIS brings you eight new worlds to sink your teeth into. From some of the genre’s brightest talent, each title in this boxed set is the first installment of the authors’ respective series.

Featured in Genesis:

– The Devil You Know by J.M. Gregoire
– Ghost of a Threat by Beth Dolgner
– Everlasting Hunger by Brandy Dorsch
– Fallen by Julie Morgan
– Spark by K.C. Stewart
– The Mortal One by Shannon Bell
– Valkyrie’s Vengeance by Melissa Snark
– Juan by Crystal Dawn

Dig in your claws and hang on as these eight authors
take you on a wild ride in GENESIS!

CURRENTLY ONLY $0.99 ON AMAZON!!!

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RELEASED TODAY!

KEEP READING TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE
BOOKS FEATURED IN THE GENESIS BOXED SET!

 

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We are so excited to bring you the Release Day Launch for BLOOD ON THE BAYOU by Heather Graham!

BLOOD ON THE BAYOU is A Cafferty & Quinn Series Novella brought to you by 1001 Dark Nights.

Grab you copy of this sexy novella today!

 

Blood on the Bayou - cover

Amazon eBook ** Amazon Paperback

 

Excerpt:

Michael Quinn heard the hysterical crying the minute he entered the police station. The young woman creating the commotion was inside Detective Jake Larue’s office. Someone else was trying to soothe her while not becoming hysterical herself.

“This one is right up your alley,” Larue told him as he approached.

“My alley?”

“That young woman is certain she saw a rougarou. She was on a bayou tour in Honey Swamp last night.”

He smiled. No kid grew up in Southern Louisiana without hearing about the rougarou. Every region of the world had their own particular brand of monster. The rougarou belonged to the Cajun region of Southern Louisiana, stretching right into the city.

“Honey Swamp?” he asked. “Doesn’t a problem in that area go to the Pearl River police?”

“Yep,” Larue said. “But she’s here because she believes the rougarou followed her home, showing up in the window of her hotel last night.”

He arched a brow at the ridiculousness of the statement. “I’m assuming there’s more.”

“A dead man in the swamp. Head bashed in, throat ripped.”

Which grabbed his attention.

“I want you to talk to them,” Larue said. “I told them that you’re a rougarou expert and that you’ll get to the bottom of things. They were out on some night ghost tour in the bayou and their boat came upon the dead man. Right now, she’s so hysterical that she’s not making sense. But you rougarouexperts are used to dealing with that.”

He shook his head at Larue’s sarcasm. He was no more a rougarou expert than someone was a ghost expert. Once upon a time, he’d worked with Larue as partners in the NYPD. Before that, Quinn’s life had been anything but normal. He’d actually been a pretty horrible person, not as in deadly or criminal, but as in vain and egotistical. His prowess in sports had led to excess, which eventually led to him being declared legally dead.

Which changed everything.

 

Blood on the Bayou - RDL teaser 1

 

About BLOOD ON THE BAYOU: A Cafferty & Quinn Novella

From New York Times bestseller Heather Graham…

It’s winter and a chill has settled over New Orleans, binding a stream of blood that leads a tourist to a dead man, face down in the bayou.

The man has been done in by a vicious beating, so violent that his skull has been crashed in.

It’s barely a day before a second victim is found . . . once again so badly thrashed that the water runs red. The city becomes riddled with fear.

An old family friend comes to Danni Cafferty, telling her that he’s terrified, he’s certain that he’s received a message from the Blood Bayou killer–It’s your turn to pay, blood on the bayou.

The two quickly become involved, and–as they all begin to realize that a gruesome local history is being repeated–they find themselves in a fight to save not just a friend, but, perhaps, their very own lives.

 

Blood on the Bayou - RDL Teaser 2

 

Heather Graham HeadshotAbout Heather Graham:

New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Heather Graham majored in theater arts at the University of South Florida. After a stint of several years in dinner theater, back-up vocals, and bartending, she stayed home after the birth of her third child and began to write, working on short horror stories and romances. After some trial and error, she sold her first book, WHEN NEXT WE LOVE, in 1982 and since then, she has written over one hundred novels and novellas including category, romantic suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult, and Christmas holiday fare. She wrote the launch books for the Dell’s Ecstasy Supreme line, Silhouette’s Shadows, and for Harlequin’s mainstream fiction imprint, Mira Books.

Heather was a founding member of the Florida Romance Writers chapter of RWA and, since 1999, has hosted the Romantic Times Vampire Ball, with all revenues going directly to children’s charity.

She is pleased to have been published in approximately twenty languages, and to have been honored with awards from Waldenbooks. B. Dalton, Georgia Romance Writers, Affaire de Coeur, Romantic Times, and more. She has had books selected for the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild, and has been quoted, interviewed, or featured in such publications as The Nation, Redbook, People, and USA Today and appeared on many newscasts including local television and Entertainment Tonight.

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter Sign Up | BLOOD ON THE BAYOU on Goodreads

 

 

Blood on the Bayou - Available Now

 

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romancing-the-fox-webNo matter how far up the rungs of corporate success Sinopa Locklear climbs, her family will never be satisfied. To them, she’s worthless because she refused to live out her destiny among the tribe and produce cubs. Her decision left an impassable bridge between her and those she loved.

When an offer to wipe the slate clean comes up, Garret Fox can’t pass up the chance. All he has to do is spend a week with Sinopa, and pretend to be her fiancé. Seven days and they could go their separate ways. How hard could it be?

Both are running from something, afraid of getting too close and too intimate—until they are forced to behave as a couple for her family.

Who’d have thought a fox would chase after a wolf of her own?

Or is she his prey?

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Romancing the Fox
by Marissa Dobson

Series
A Crimson Hollow Novella

Genre
Paranormal Romance

Publisher
Independent

Publication Date
January 12, 2016

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Lone Wolf

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About Marissa Dobson

Marissa DobsonBorn and raised in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, Marissa Dobson now resides about an hour from Washington, D.C. She’s a lady who likes to keep busy, and is always busy doing something. With two different college degrees, she believes you are never done learning.

Being the first daughter to an avid reader, this gave her the advantage of learning to read at a young age. Since learning to read she has always had her nose in a book. It wasn’t until she was a teenager that she started writing down the stories she came up with.

Marissa is blessed with a wonderful supportive husband, Thomas. He’s her other half and allows her to stay home and pursue her writing. He puts up with all her quirks and listens to her brainstorm in the middle of the night.

Her writing buddy Cameron (a cocker spaniel) is always around to listen to her bounce ideas off him. He might not be able to answer, but he’s helpful in his own ways.

She love to hear from readers, send her an email at marissa@marissadobson.com or visit her online at http://www.marissadobson.com.

Author Links

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For a list of my reviews go HERE

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I’m so excited to share Anna’s new release with you.

I was thrilled when she told me she’d written a cozy. I’m addicted to them. LOL

I’ll be sharing my review in January, so watch for the tour.

Check out the lovely cover art.

Get a peek inside the book.

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

White Light

by Anna Simpson

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Publisher: Three Worlds Press

Genre: Cozy

Synopsis

Emma never dreamed of being a super-sleuth. In her mind, she’s more Scooby Doo than Nancy Drew and when her nosy neighbor, Mrs. Perkins, drags her to an anniversary party to solve a mystery, she rolls her eyes, buys a box of chocolates and hops in the car.

What’s a party without an attack on its host—or more accurately on the host’s grandson, sparking an allergic reaction and moving the party to the hospital waiting room. Suddenly, everyone is a suspect. Emma and Mrs. Perkins, along with Great Aunt Alice (a spirit with boundary issues who keeps stepping into Emma’s body like a new dress and playing matchmaker), dive into an investigation that almost gets Emma killed along with the man they are trying to protect. With so many reasons to kill him and so much to be gained if he died, Emma and Mrs. Perkins must unravel the tenuous ties that point to every member of his family as potential killers.

Even if it means going back to the psych ward, Emma will protect her friend and this innocent man. What good is freedom if it’s haunted with guilt?

AMAZON

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Enjoy this peek inside!

To stay free, I perform a ritual every morning. It begins with stepping outside, where dawn streams through the leafy branches of my maple tree, landing, shifting, and dancing on the flowerbeds at my bare feet. A steaming cup of coffee warms my hands. The fragrant air fills my lungs. I sip, leaving the liquid on my tongue to capture a moment of rich goodness.

My name is Emma, and I need to stay grounded and calm. It’s important for my health, so I walk along the fence and let the cool blades of grass tickle my toes and dewdrops cling to my skin. For fun, I kick a ball of dandelion fluff. Little parachutes take flight catching the same breeze moving the leaves above my head. The seeds float up, and up, over the fence to land on Mrs. Perkins’ perfectly tended lawn. Not a dandelion or mat of moss to be seen.

In a half acre of green sits one flowerbed, brimming with Lily of the Valley. I remember the first time I saw them over fifteen years ago. The delicate white bells could only be fairy hats. Today, the round base of cemented river stone is still full of waxy green spear tips. I don’t see fairy hats anymore. No, now I enjoy the effects of nature—its simple perfection.

Mrs. Perkins does it best. In fact, everything around Mrs. Perkins is perfectly cared for—her home, her yard, her car—all perfect.

But not today. A dark line sits between the jamb and the edge of the door.
A few inches of shadow drives my calm away and prickles the long blonde hairs at the nape of my neck. Butterflies in my stomach tell, no scratch that, demand I find my phone and go next door.

Don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not a snoop.

Mrs. Perkins, a wiry old bird, did everything herself. I’m not sure if it is because she’s the independent sort or if she has no one else to help her. Either way, when she suggested we watch out for one another, I agreed.

I’m also alone. It doesn’t bother me unless I catch the flu or something. Then I wonder if I will die and no one will notice. It’s a thought, or fear, I can’t shake. Mrs. Perkins’ house has my full attention, and within it sits the same worry. I’ll check on her because she would do the same for me.

I crash into my kitchen, slopping my coffee onto the counter as I slam the mug down. My phone could be anywhere. My gaze travels from the pine tabletop to the gray marble counter. It’s not here. I push through the swinging door to the living area, run my fingertips between the couch and chair cushions, scan the smoked-glass coffee table through my veil of long blonde hair, and sneak a peek under my overturned book on the throw rug. Desperate, I check around the bowl by the door where I toss my keys as I pass the spiral staircase to the loft. Still nothing.

Down the short hallway, I rush to my bedroom. I tug the midnight blue duvet off the bed and shake it. My pulse speeds up as something thuds on to the carpet. I pick up my smartphone and check the battery. Half power.

Excellent. I dash through my front door, across the lawn and unlatch Mrs. Perkins’ white picket gate. Her shiny yellow front door looks as solid as stone. I follow her path to the back wondering if danger lurks.

I gasp as I near the door. It’s like living a moment in a crime drama. I mimic what I have watched on television and bring up my phone to take a picture. Inching forward, heart pounding, I wonder if poor Mrs. Perkins is sprawled out on the bathroom floor, from a stroke, heart attack, or a butcher knife.

Don’t worry, Mrs. Perkins. I’m coming.

I pull my cotton sleeve over my hand and push the door wider. Her kitchen looks untouched as if it’s sterilized or newly installed. Tiles cool my bare feet with each step. Fear scratches at my nerves, “Mrs. Perkins? It’s Emma from next door. Are you okay?”

Silence.

I raise the phone to call for help.

A small sound carries from deeper in the house. I should stop, leave, and make the call.

Following the sound might be dangerous or, worse, plain stupid. And I’m scared. So scared, my breathing is all I hear over the pounding of my heart.
I’d look stupid if I’m wrong. Ravenglass Lake is so small-townsville, and Benny the bully is like no cop I’ve ever met. He would be no help. Worst of all, they’d call me crazy for sure. I slip the phone back into my denim pocket, quietly open her knife drawer, and pull out a meat cleaver. Armed, I creep forward.

Thank goodness Mrs. Perkins likes an open airy room. Evil housebreakers have nowhere to hide in the dining room.

A small thump like a cat landing on carpet makes me jump. But Mrs. Perkins doesn’t have a cat…or carpet—only allergies.

I tighten my grip on the cleaver as I stick my head into the living room. All is quiet and undisturbed. I enter the corridor to the front door. To my right are stairs to the upper floor. Farther ahead is a hall closet and nook where she keeps a desk and a small bookcase. Nothing seems touched.

I glance up at the glittery ceiling, swallow, and pull my phone from my pocket. The sensible thing is to dial 911. I sidestep for the front door, but in my mind’s eye Mrs. Perkins, wiry but frail, shakes her head. Her arm outstretched urging me not to leave.

Thump, I freeze. The noise is right beside me coming from the hall closet.
Without thinking, I open the door and find Mrs. Perkins tied up with duct tape across her lips. Her green eyes, round and unblinking, grow wide, and her usual perfect curls are mussed. I drop the cleaver. It clatters on the floor, and I pull the tape free.

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About Author Anna Simpson

Anna Simpson lives near the Canadian-US border with her family. Even though she’s lived in several places in British Columbia, her free spirit wasn’t able to settle down until she moved back to her hometown.

She is easy to find though, if you know the magic word — emaginette. Do an internet search using it and you’ll see what I mean. :-)

Author Links:

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