Read an Excerpt:“Why does anything pertaining to you have to come with extra baggage?” Uncle Damon said. His dominant pack power surged, affecting the others nearby and making them restless.The air crackled with his energy. I held my ground. His words stung, but he’d never hear me say it. I’d had lots of practice over the years keeping my hurt from showing, but at this moment, I lashed out with a barb of my own.“I’m just lucky that way. Kind of like you.” I tapped the desk with my fingertips, knowing he hated it and narrowed my eyes at him.He sure as hell had his own baggage when it came to relationships and pack bonds, especially when it came to anything with my mother.“If the two of you are done poking at one another, I’d like to move on to the pertinent issue of the cursed map,” Sebastian said. He stood a good foot away from his desk and peered down at the map as if it might explode.Everyone had a hands-off approach to the map after I’d blurted out that it was cursed.“It won’t curse you just by touching it,” I said. “At least, not from what Gwenn or I could tell. It has a hidden layer that will attack you if you try to force it out in the open.”“That’s just great,” Mutther said. “I suppose you found out firsthand?”“Not me. Gwenn did. I was the innocent bystander.”“Right. How innocent?” Nick said. He moved to Mutther’s side and viewed the map from farther away. Neither of them was taking any chances.Not that I blamed them. They had suffered from being too near me in the past. Mutther was still rebuilding his bar.
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Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Pirate Lover’s Curse (Sleepy Hollow Hunter, Book Three) by Sheri Queen #UrbanFantasy #UF #Romance Give*Away
FA Confidential Teaser Tuesday ~ Riko Radojcic ~ @RABTBookTours #RABTBookTours #FAConfidential #RikoRadojcic #TechnoThriller
Date Published: 02-10-2023
Publisher: Open Books
Three people doing their jobs and making decisions that may lead to a conflict between the world’s powers. After all, the US must respond to an attack on its flagship project to build home-grown ‘fabs’, especially as it is linked to the reputation of the President. And People’s Republic cannot possibly ignore unprovoked aggression on its sovereignty…
Jane Sullivan’s appointment as the National Security Adviser is the pinnacle of her career. She knows that access to ‘silicon chips’ is a strategic imperative of vital interests to the nation and decides to do whatever she can to ensure a fully domestic Semiconductor Supply Chain…
Argon Zhi has built a good career with the local semiconductor industry. He has become a successful man and is a member of an elite club of professionals who work behind the scenes to make their island one of the Asia’s ‘Tiger Economies’. When a friend asks, he agrees to craft a plan for ensuring the continued competitiveness of the island’s technology companies. It is the ‘right thing to do’…
Cedric Dyson is a tinkerer and does not care about politics. Instead, he loses himself in his job as a Failure Analyses (FA) engineer who figures out why some chips do not work the way they are supposed to. Then he notices a pattern. Like a crime detective on a murder case, he follows the clues, trusts his intuition, and uncovers a shocking truth…
Everything comes to a head with a murder of a foreign citizen on US soil…
Read an Excerpt:
‘There is a Tide in the Affairs of Men’
t-0 + 20 months, Chandler, AZ
Jane knew that this time around she would need to be nothing more than a wallflower. But she did not mind. In fact, she knew that her participation on this junket was something of a reward. In the political language of the capital, the proximity to the president that this trip offered was recognition for the part she’d played in the project. Besides, flying with POTUS on Air Force 1 was always fun. Even Iron Brew was impressed. And since all the attention would be focused on him, she would get to do what she preferred―observe rather than be observed.
Yes, this trip was to be a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the first of her advanced semiconductor factories. POTUS would meet the CEO of Intel, they would shake hands, pose for pictures, probably with one of those silly giant scissors, and then pretend to tour the facility.
Jane was however surprised by the many thousands of man-hours that went into orchestrating the event. The team that represented the hosting company―Matt Nowak, the site manager, and his tech geeks―were highly concerned about the prospect of a tour of the facility. Apparently, this would contaminate the line and once corrupted it would take them weeks to bring it back up to the needed standard. They kept going on about Class-1, whatever that meant, and insisted that the only possible way of supporting a tour was if the party was limited to no more than eight people, and if everyone wore the full ‘bunny suits’ and followed standard procedures. Some amongst the nerd squad thought that even that would be unacceptable.
On the other hand, the Secret Service people went into conniptions at the idea of POTUS wearing a bunny suit. Apparently having POTUS in a disguise that would make him indistinguishable from the rest of the party was unthinkable. It seemed that having him out of sight of the full support team―aides, snipers, eyes and ears, the guy carrying ‘the football’, medics, and all the rest of the normal retinue―was totally against procedures. Not to mention that the level of protection provided by only a couple of agents who would not be allowed to bring in their weapons was entirely unacceptable.
And the White House political spin doctors were concerned about someone snapping inappropriate pictures of the President struggling to get in and out of one of those bunny suits―an awkward procedure that would apparently call for levels of agility that may be beyond the septuagenarian POTUS.
About the Author:
Riko Radojcic was born in poor post-war Yugoslavia but enjoyed a very happy and secure early childhood there. When he was twelve his father took a job with the UN World Health Organization and Riko spent his teen years in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania, observing the demise of the colonial Raj as well as some harsh Third World realities. He completed high school in Swiss private schools -- a polar opposite of the Third World -- which gave him a peek into the lives of the one-percenters. He then moved to Manchester, UK, where he witnessed the bleak circumstances of the working class in the heart of industrial England.
After working in the UK for several years, Riko immigrated to the US, settling in San Diego. There he enjoyed a rewarding and a very stimulating career in the semiconductor industry, working in a variety of technical, managerial and business development roles. His professional life exposed him not only to the amazing wonders of silicon chip technology, but also gave him an opportunity to travel internationally and to interact with smart and talented people from very diverse backgrounds. After 35 plus years in the world of high tech and engineering management, Riko is now devoting his full energies to writing as he tries to bring to life the magic of technology, the realities of the high-tech industry, and some of his diverse life experiences through storytelling.
Sandy Wishes by Judith Keim @judithkeim ~ @RABTBookTours #RABTBookTours #SandyWishes #JudithKeim #RomanticWomensFiction
Sandy Wishes by Judith Keim
Sanderling Cove Inn Series, Book 2
Contemporary Romantic Women's Fiction
Date Published: January 31, 2023
Sometimes, wishes do come true…
Brooke Weatherby is tired of being the dependable one, the boring one of everyone at Sanderling Cove. She agreed to come to the cove for the summer unaware her two cousins, Charlotte “Charlie” Bradford and Olivia “Livy” Winters, would also be there to help manage The Sanderling Cove Inn while her grandparents take a long road trip in Europe. More than anything, she wishes for independence from her role as a sometime caretaker of her mother, so she’s free to find true love.
Unknown to her and her cousins, the five grandmothers at Sanderling Cove have invited their beloved grandchildren to spend as much time as possible this summer at the cove, hoping that romance might flourish among them.
One grandson, Dylan Hendrix, is a well-known artist who decides to take a break from Santa Fe and experiment with different kinds of paintings inspired by the scenic Gulf Coast of Florida. As he and Brooke get to know each other, he encourages her to discover her own artistic talent. Brooke’s world opens to colors and possibilities she never dreamed of as her life begins to change.
Grandmothers can be very determined when it comes to seeing their grandchildren happy. A family saga full of love. Be sure to read all the books in the series – Waves of Hope, Sandy Wishes, Salty Kisses.
Another of Judith Keim’s series books celebrating love and families, strong women meeting challenges, and clean women’s fiction with a touch of romance—beach reads for all ages with a touch of humor, satisfying twists, and happy endings. Be sure to check out her other delightful books and series that readers adore.
Sanderling Cove Inn Series:
Waves of Hope, Book One
Sandy Wishes, Book Two
Salty Kisses, Book Three
Available on Amazon
About the Author:
Judith Keim, A USA Today Best-Selling Author, is a hybrid author who both has a publisher and self-publishes. Ms. Keim writes heart-warming novels about women who face unexpected challenges, meet them with strength, and find love and happiness along the way, stories with heart. Her best-selling books are based, in part, on many of the places she's lived or visited and on the interesting people she's met, creating believable characters and realistic settings her many loyal readers love.
She enjoyed her childhood and young-adult years in Elmira, New York, and now makes her home in Boise, Idaho, with her husband and their two domineering dachshunds, Winston and Wally, and other members of her family.
While growing up, she was drawn to the idea of writing stories from a young age. Books were always present, being read, ready to go back to the library, or about to be discovered. All in her family shared information from the books in general conversation, giving them a wealth of knowledge and vivid imaginations.
When she’s not writing, which isn’t that often, she enjoys an evening glass of red wine and her husband’s creative cooking and always loves spending time with family and friends.
Ms. Keim loves to hear from her readers and appreciates their enthusiasm for her stories.
To sign up for her newsletter, go here: https://BookHip.com/RRGJKGN
Judy’s special FB Group -Women with Heart
Finding True North by Dianne Beck ~ @RABTBookTours #RABTBookTours #FindingTrueNorth #DianneBeck #YoungAdult
Finding True North by Dianne Beck
Young Adult Fiction
Date Published: January 31st, 2023
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
North Carolina Simon hates her name. As a fourteen-year-old girl growing up in the 1970s, she has a lot of challenges. People not only make fun of her name, but also scoff at her eccentric family. Dad’s a hoarder, Mom’s an unpredictable artist, and her older sister lives with an autism diagnosis. After a humiliating middle school event shatters her confidence as a singer, North determines to break free from the stigma surrounding her family.
As she starts high school, North tells people to call her Carol. Armed with a new name, she updates her appearance, befriends a popular boy in hopes of joining his band, distances herself from her two longtime friends, and avoids being seen with her adoring and dependent sister. Everything seems to be going according to plan until her sister suddenly disappears. Carol is forced to face reality. Should she continue to focus all her time and energy on fitting in or should she surrender to God’s calling on her life?
Finding True North is a prequel to Sticks and Stones, but each can be read as stand-alone novels.
About the Author:
Dianne Beck has spent most of her career teaching students ranging from kindergarten through adult and currently works as a high school youth director at her church. In each of these roles, she hopes to encourage students to be their own unique selves, to have confidence in who they are, and to follow their passions. Dianne’s debut young adult novel Sticks and Stones, winner of multiple awards, was inspired by her years of teaching, where she saw how an understanding ear and relevant literature could make a significant impact on students’ lives. She hopes young people and adults can find faith and strength in her stories.
Visit her author website at http://www.diannebeck.com.
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Monday, January 30, 2023
What the Monkey Saw by Lynn Chandler Willis ~ @LynnCWillis #Crime #Suspense @partnersincr1me #G1veaway
What the Monkey Saw
by Lynn Chandler Willis
January 30 - February 24, 2023 Virtual Book Tour
About the Book:
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
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 Link: Amazon https://amzn.to/3XruaxL
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?"
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.
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.
Meet the Author:
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
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Cover Reveal ~ Battle of Hearts by Stella Holt ~ @InkSlingerPR @NazareaAndrews ~ Contemporary Romance
Stella Holt is so thrilled to announce the upcoming release of BATTLE OF HEARTS, the second standalone romance in her Legacy of the Maguires Series. Check out the gorgeous cover and be sure to pre-order now!
Title: Battle of Hearts
Author: Stella Holt
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 11th
About Battle of Hearts:
Pre-Order Your Copy:
Catching Up with the Series:
Last First Kiss
About the Author:
Connect with the Author:
Website | Instagram | Goodreads
A Grave Roast: A Paranormal Cozy Mystery (Orchard Hollow) by A.N. Sage #CozyMystery #ParanormalCozyMystery
A Grave Roast: A Paranormal Cozy Mystery (Orchard Hollow) by A.N. Sage
About A Grave Roast:
A Grave Roast: A Paranormal Cozy Mystery (Orchard Hollow)
Paranormal Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Cauldron Press (January 23, 2023)
Number of Pages - ~300
Digital ASIN : B0BPDXZ7F5
Piper Addison has three problems: a broken espresso machine, malfunctioning magic, and a dead body. Guess which one she doesn’t see coming?
One month from forty, Piper Addison thinks she finally has life figured out. Sure, her bank account could be fuller and the cafe she opened with the last of her savings could use some help, but what’s a few kinks for an Orchard Hollow witch?
Too bad Piper can’t witch to save her life, which is exactly what she might need to do when a dead body is discovered in the alley behind her cafe. To make matters worse, all the evidence points to Piper and the local sheriff is not too keen on the town’s paranormal inhabitants.
When a mysterious envelope lands on Piper’s doorstep, she has a decision to make: go behind the sheriff’s back and try to clear her name, or spend her fortieth birthday in a prison cell.
A Grave Roast is a paranormal cozy mystery complete with an unlucky witch, a ghost familiar, and a feisty raccoon with a talent for getting into sticky situations.
About A.N. Sage:
A.N. Sage is a bestselling, award-winning author of young adult fantasy and mystery. She has spent most of her life waiting to meet a witch, vampire, or at least get haunted by a ghost. In between failed seances and many questionable outfit choices, she has developed a keen eye for the extra-ordinary.
A.N. spends her free time reading and binge-watching television shows in her pajamas. Currently, she resides in Toronto, Canada with her husband who is not a creature of the night and their daughter who just might be.
A.N. Sage is a Scorpio and a massive advocate of leggings for pants.Author Links:
Frenemies with Benefits by Lydia Sharp @lydia_sharp @EntangledPub @XpressoTours ~ Comedy, Contemporary Romance, Romance, Young Adult
Frenemies with Benefits
Publication date: September 5th 2023
Genres: Comedy, Contemporary Romance, Romance, Young Adult
About the Book:
One summer. One plan. Two boys.
Jess’s older brother’s best friend—aka her giant crush—is staying at their house for the summer. She either has the best luck ever or the worst. This is her chance to show him she’s not just his best friend’s shy little sister anymore. But he’s a college boy. And she’s…her.
Just turned eighteen. Just graduated high school. Just way too innocent for him.
Jess is a virgin. She’s never been ashamed of that, except now it’s holding her back from what she wants. Her lack of experience is wildly obvious, a repellant for boys who want a partner who knows what they’re doing. So the only way to get the boy she really likes to notice her is to ask the boy she really hates to show her how to be, well, less innocent.
And she hates Benjamin Oliver. Loathes. Despises. Can’t stand the sight of his stupid-hot face. He’s her frenemy throughout and through, and a player, so not the kind of guy she’d ever seriously consider. But she needs his help—and he’s actually willing to give it. All she has to do is promise him one little favor…
Add to Goodreads / Pre-order https://amzn.to/3HbMVye
Meet the Author:
Lydia Sharp worked a number of different jobs, everything from retail management to veterinary medicine, before turning their passion for stories into a career. They are now an editor for Entangled Publishing and write young adult novels with lots of kissing and adventures. Lydia lives in Ohio with their family and an ever-growing collection of owls. When not completely immersed in a book, Lydia binges on Netflix, pines for Fall, and hosts mad tea parties in Wonderland. Follow on Twitter @lydia_sharp and visit lydiasharpbooks.com for more details.
Sunday, January 29, 2023
Not Me: Speluncaphobia, Secrets and Hidden Treasure (Macavity and Me Mystery) by Charlotte Stuart ~ #CozyMystery @quirkymysteries @dollycas
Not Me: Speluncaphobia, Secrets and Hidden Treasure (Macavity and Me Mystery)
by Charlotte Stuart
About Not Me!
Not Me: Speluncaphobia, Secrets and Hidden Treasure (Macavity and Me Mystery)
3rd in Series
Setting - Seattle (where the protagonist lives), Vancouver BC, and a trip up the Inside Passage
Taylor and Seale Publishing (July 29, 2022)
Paperback: 242 pages
Digital ASIN: B0B8187514
Aztec gold artifacts from the 16th Century, a fake treasure map, and cryptic clues leading to a cave in the Canadian wilderness—
• Feuding family members • A suspicious death and surfeit of suspects • A sailboat trip up the Inside Passage and . . . a stowaway cat
Two cousins get together to investigate the death of a favorite uncle and to honor his legacy by fulfilling his dream to recover Aztec gold. They are thwarted in their efforts by greedy family members, a jumble of challenging clues, a prank from the grave, and unscrupulous treasure seekers.
What begins with a letter from the deceased leads to a wilderness adventure and ends with revealed secrets and a confession.
About Charlotte Stuart:
Charlotte Stuart, PhD is an award-winning mystery writer who got her start in academia, left a tenured faculty position to go commercial fishing in Alaska, spent a frustrating year as a political speech writer, enjoyed time as a management consultant, and survived several years as a VP of HR and training.
Her current passion is for writing mysteries with complex characters and twisty plots. Books in her Macavity & Me Mysteries have won a Pinnacle Book Achievement Award, a gold Global Ebook Award, and a Firebird Book Award for humor. Two were NYC Big Book Distinguished Favorites, one was a finalist in Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion contest, and Not Me! is currently a finalist in the Chanticleer Mystery and Mayhem competition.
Charlotte lives and writes on Vashon Island in the Pacific Northwest and is the past president of the Puget Sound Sisters in Crime.Website: https://www.charlottestuart.com