Friday, March 27, 2020

The Sinner by J.R. Ward (+Giveaway)


I’m delighted to be participating in the Gallery Books Blog Tour for author J.R. Ward’s THE SINNER, the 18th installment in her Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

THE SINNER
The Black Dagger Brotherhood series
by J. R. Ward
On Sale: March 24, 2020

Purchase Link:

A sinner’s only hope is true love in this passionate new novel in J.R. Ward’s #1 New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

          Syn has kept his side hustle as a mercenary a secret from the Black Dagger Brotherhood. When he takes another hit job, he not only crosses the path of the vampire race’s new enemy, but also that of a half-breed in danger of dying during her transition. Jo Early has no idea what her true nature is, and when a mysterious man appears out of the darkness, she is torn between their erotic connection and the sense that something is very wrong.
Fate anointed Butch O’Neal as the Dhestroyer, the fulfiller of the prophecy that foresees the end of the Omega. As the war with the Lessening Society comes to a head, Butch gets an unexpected ally in Syn. But can he trust the male—or is the warrior with the bad past a deadly complication?
With time running out, Jo gets swept up in the fighting and must join with Syn and the Brotherhood against true evil. In the end, will love true prevail...or was the prophecy wrong all along?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Author J.R. Ward
J.R. Ward is the author of more than thirty novels, including those in her #1 New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series. There are more than fifteen million copies of her novels in print worldwide, and they have been published in twenty-six different countries around the world. She lives in the South with her family.

Don’t forget to sign-up for exclusive Black Dagger Brotherhood original content:

Now here’s a sneak peek at THE SINNER:

Route 149
Caldwell, New York

          Behind the wheel of her ten-year-old car, Jo Early bit into the Slim Jim and chewed like it was her last meal. She hated the fake-smoke taste and the boat-rope texture, and when she swallowed the last piece, she got another one out of her bag. Ripping the wrapper with her teeth, she peeled the taxidermied tube free and littered into the wheel well of her passenger side. There were so many spent casings like it down there, you couldn’t see the floor mat.
          Up ahead, her anemic headlights swung around a curve, illuminating pine trees that had been limbed up three-quarters of the way, the puff y tops making toothpicks out of the trunks. She hit a pothole and bad-swallowed, and she was coughing as she reached her destination.
          The abandoned Adirondack Outlets was yet another commentary on the pervasiveness of Amazon Prime. The one-story strip mall was a horseshoe without a hoof, the storefronts along the two long sides bearing the remnants of their brands, faded laminations and off -kilter signs with names like Van Heusen/Izod, and Nike, and Dansk the ghosts of commerce past. Behind dusty glass, there was no merchandise available for purchase anymore, and no one had been on the property with a charge card for at least a year, only hardscrabble weeds in the cracks of the promenade and barn swallows in the eaves inhabiting the site. Likewise, the food court that united the eastern and western arms was no longer offering soft serve or Starbucks or lunch.
          As a hot flash cranked her internal temperature up, she cracked the window. And then put the thing all the way down. March in Caldwell, New York, was like winter in a lot of places still considered northerly in latitude, and thank God for it. Breathing in the cold, damp air, she told herself this was not a bad idea.
          Nah, not at all. Here she was, alone at midnight, chasing down the lead on a story she wasn’t writing for her employer, the Caldwell Courier Journal. Without anyone at her new apartment waiting up for her. Without anyone on the planet who would claim her mangled corpse when it was found from the smell in a ditch a week from now.
          Letting the car roll to a stop, she killed the headlights and stayed where she was. No moon out tonight so she’d dressed right. All black. But without any illumination from the heavens, her eyes strained at the darkness, and not because she was greedy to see the details on the decaying structure.
          Nope. At the moment, she was worried she was about to provide fodder for True Crime Garage. As unease tickled her nape, like someone was trying to get her attention by running the point of a carving knife over her skin—
          Her stomach let out a howl and she jumped. Without any debate, she went diving into her purse again. Passing by the three Slim Jims she had left, she went straight-up Hershey this time, and the efficiency with which she stripped that mass-produced chocolate of its clothing was a sad commentary on her diet. When she was finished, she was still hungry and not because there wasn’t food in her belly. As always, the only two things she could eat failed to satisfy her gnawing craving, to say nothing of her nutritional needs.
          Putting up her window, she took her backpack and got out. The crackling sound of the treads of her running shoes on the shoulder of the road seemed loud as a concert, and she wished she wasn’t getting over a cold. Like her sense of smell could be helpful, though? And when was the last time she’d considered that possibility outside of a milk carton check.
          She really needed to give these wild-goose chases up.
Two-strapping her backpack, she locked the car and pulled the hood of her windbreaker up over her red hair. No heel toeing. She leftright-left’d it, keeping the soles of her Brooks flat to quiet her footfalls. As her eyes adjusted, all she saw were the shadows around her, the hidey-holes in corners and nooks formed by the mall’s doorways and the benches pockets of gotcha with which mashers could play a grownup’s game of keep away until they were ready to attack.
          When she got to a heavy chain that was strung across the entry to the promenade, she looked around. There was nobody in the parking lots that ran down the outside of the flanks. No one in the center area formed by the open-ended rectangle. Not a soul on the road that she had taken up to this rise above Rt. 149.
          Jo told herself that this was good. It meant no one was going to jump her.
Her adrenal glands, on the other hand, informed her that this actually meant no one was around to hear her scream for help.
Refocusing on the chain, she had some thought that if she swung her leg over it and proceeded on the other side, she would not come back the same.
“Stop it,” she said, kicking her foot up.
          She chose the right side of the stores, and as rain started to fall, she was glad the architect had thought to cover the walkways overhead. What had been not so smart was anyone thinking a shopping center with no interior corridors could survive in a zip code this close to Canada. Saving ten bucks on a pair of candlesticks or a bathing suit was not going to keep anybody warm enough to shop outside October to April, and that was true even before you factored in the current era of free next-day shipping.
          Down at the far end, she stopped at what had to have been the ice cream place because there was a faded stencil of a cow holding a triple decker cone by its hoof on the window. She got out her phone.
          Her call was answered on the first ring.
“Are you okay?” Bill said.
“Where am I going?” she whispered. “I don’t see anything.”
“It’s in the back. I told you that you have to go around back, remember?”
“Damn it.” Maybe the nitrates had fried her brain. “Hold on, I think I found a staircase.”
“I should come out there.”
Jo started walking again and shook her head even though he couldn’t see her. “I’m fine—yup, I’ve got the cut through to the rear. I’ll call you if I need you—”
“You shouldn’t be doing this alone!”
          Ending the connection, she jogged down the concrete steps, her pack bouncing like it was doing push-ups on her back. As she bottomed out on the lower level, she scanned the empty parking lot—
          The stench that stabbed into her nose was the kind of thing that triggered her gag reflex. Roadkill . . . and baby powder?
          She looked to the source. The maintenance building by the tree line had a corrugated metal roof and metal walls that would not survive long in tornado alley. Half the size of a football field, with garage doors locked to the ground, she imagined it could have housed paving equipment as well as blowers, mowers, and snowplows.
          The sole person-sized door was loose, and as a stiff gust from the rainstorm caught it, the creak was straight out of a George Romero movie—and then the panel immediately slammed shut with a clap, as if Mother Nature didn’t like the stink any more than Jo did.
          Taking out her phone, she texted Bill: This smell is nasty.
Aware that her heart rate just tripled, she walked across the asphalt, the rain hitting the hood of her windbreaker in a disorganized staccato. Ducking her hand under the loose nylon of the jacket, she felt for her holstered gun and kept her hand on the butt.
          The door creaked open and slammed shut again, another puff of that smell releasing out of the pitch-black interior. Swallowing through throat spasms, she had to fight to keep going and not because there was wind in her face.
          When she stopped in front of the door, the opening and closing ceased, as if now that she was on the verge of entering, it didn’t need to catch her attention and draw her in.
          So help her God, if Pennywise was on the other side . . .
Glancing around to check there were no red balloons lolling in the area, she reached out for the door.
I just have to know, she thought as she opened the way in. I need to . . . know.
Leaning around the jamb, she saw absolutely nothing, and yet was frozen by all that she confronted. Pure evil, the kind of thing that abducted and murdered children, that slaughtered the innocent, that enjoyed the suffering of the just and merciful, pushed at her body and then penetrated it, radiation that was toxic passing through to her bones.
          Coughing, she stepped back and covered her mouth and nose with the crook of her elbow. After a couple of deep breaths into her sleeve, she fumbled with her phone.
          Before Bill could say anything over the whirring in his background, she bit out, “You need to come—”
“I’m already halfway to you.”
“Good.”
“What’s going on—”
          Jo ended the call again and got out her flashlight, triggering the beam. Stepping forward again, she shouldered the door open and trained the spear of illumination into the space.
          The light was consumed.
Sure as if she were shining it into a bolt of thick fabric, the fragile glowing shaft was no match for what she was about to enter.
The threshold she stepped over was nothing more than weather stripping, but the inch-high lip was a barrier that felt like an obstacle course she could barely surmount—and then there was the stickiness on the floor. Pointing the flashlight to the ground, she picked up one of her feet. Something like old motor oil dripped off her running shoe, the sound of it finding home echoing in the empty space.
          As Jo walked forward, she found the first of the buckets on the left. Home Depot. With an orange-and-white logo smudged by a rusty, translucent substance that turned her stomach.
          The beam wobbled as she looked into the cylinder, her hand shaking. Inside there was a gallon of glossy, gleaming . . . red . . . liquid. And in the back of her throat, she tasted copper—
          Jo wheeled around with the flashlight.
Through the doorway, the two men who had come up behind her without a sound loomed as if they had risen out of the pavement itself, wraiths conjured from her nightmares, fed by the cold spring rain, clothed in the night. One of them had a goatee and tattoos at one of his temples, a cigarette between his lips and a downright nasty expression on his hard face. The other wore a Boston Red Sox hat and a long camel-colored coat, the tails of which blew in slow motion even though the wind was choppy. Both had long black blades holstered handles down on their chest, and she knew there were more weapons where she couldn’t see them.
          They had come to kill her. Tracked her as she’d moved away from her car. Seen her as she had not seen them.
          Jo stumbled back and tried to get out her gun, but her sweaty palms had her dropping her phone and struggling to keep the flashlight—
And then she couldn’t move.
          Even as her brain ordered her feet to run, her legs to run, her body to run, nothing obeyed the panic-commands, her muscles twitching under the lockdown of some invisible force of will, her bones aching, her breath turning into a pant. Pain firework’d her brain, a headache sizzling through her mind.
          Opening her mouth, she screamed—
         
Thanks for stopping by today. Don’t forgot to enter the giveaway below. Isn’t it fascinating when authors create other worlds for us to visit.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

This giveaway is for one (1) finished copy of THE SINNER (US only).

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020


* Screwed and Satisfied
* By Em Petrova
* (Moon Ranch #2)
* Publication date: March 23rd 2020
* Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
Second chance at romance? Like hell, and definitely not with the girl next door.
Dane Moon is the troublemaker of the family, and his latest screw-up was marrying a Vegas stripper. Or was it that she married the male dancer? Either way, that chapter of his life’s over, along with the marriage. He’s back in Colorado on the family homestead, attempting to pick up the broken pieces of his past, present and future.
When vet assistant Brennah Peterson finds a drunk guy passed out in her hay bale, she isn’t surprised it’s Dane Moon. The panty-melting bad boy next door always had a reputation for being the life of the party. Any torch Brennah used to carry for the rough and tumble cowboy has been long extinguished—at least until he throws that crooked smile her way again.
Wanting Brennah and wanting to be a better man go together like boots and hats, and maybe it’s time Dane cleans up his act. But Brennah’s got every reason to stay away from him, and he doesn’t want another ex-wife anyhow. When things heat up, it’s hard for Brennah to walk away. But a hot roll in the hay with Dane won’t be enough, and she won’t accept less than all or nothing.
EXCERPT:
Brennah stared down at the big, muscled, tattooed cowboy passed out in her barn. His black hair and the blacker five o’clock shadow coating his jaw gave him a dangerous air.
Speaking of air, she could use some fresher variety. Manure was a treat compared to this guy, who smelled like he’d soaked himself in alcohol and hadn’t bathed since the time of pirates.
Setting a hand on one hip, she contemplated calling the Stokes sheriff to come get him. She didn’t have time to spend on a drunkard—she had animals to tend to before her real day of work started at her veterinary practice. Without looking, she knew her schedule was jam-packed all morning. She’d eat lunch in her vehicle on the way to some ranch calls to see to livestock and then return late in the day to her clinic to treat more dogs, cats, iguanas, and whatever ailing animal came through her door.
Looking at the man curled on his side, she couldn’t help but think she recognized him. His angled jaw and the breadth of his shoulders seemed mighty familiar.
Sometime in his sleep, his Stetson had toppled off and lay a few feet away. The deep, heavy sleep spoke of one hell of a hangover to come.
Feeling a little on the evil side today, she clapped her hands loudly. “Hey! Get up! Hello!”
He moaned and rolled onto his back, giving her a good view of his big, hard body sprawled on her barn floor. The horses were restless in their stalls, eager for their breakfasts, and in the big corner pen, several llamas pawed the floor to show they wanted out to roam the fields too.
Brennah nudged the cowboy’s foot with her own boot. “Hey! You’re trespassing! Wake up!” No matter how loud she yelled, she didn’t get even a flicker of an eyelid in response.
Storming outside, she looked around for a bucket. She located one and filled it with water—cold mountain water from the spring-fed well—and carried the bucket back in. One heave of the bucket and water hit the guy square in the face and chest.
“What? Wha—” He shook his head, but didn’t get up. In fact, he went back to snoring, mouth open.
Brennah stared at him in shock. His blood must be 100-proof if that didn’t do the trick.
“All right. You asked for it.” Her last resort lay in the midsized tractor she used to haul hay bales to her animals. Quickly, she walked outside and climbed into the tractor seat. She started the engine and backed to the open double barn doors.
A glance over her shoulder revealed that the guy hadn’t stirred even at the sound of the loud engine. She set the brake and then leaped to the ground again. After locating a rope, she hitched it to the back. Then she looped the other end around the man’s ankles. To do this, she had to move each of his spread legs, which weighed as much as tree trunks.
She’d seen drunk people sleep this heavily before, and the behavior always scared her. But her annoyance outweighed any butterflies in her stomach that the guy would wake and come up swinging.
Once she had the rope around his booted feet, she stood back to look at him. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.
But he was big and heavy, and she had no choice but to drag him out of her barn.
With a shake of her head, she returned to the tractor. Another backward glance and she saw he hadn’t budged.
She put the tractor in gear and rolled forward. The guy bumped along the wooden floorboards. As his body crossed the threshold, she swore she heard a groan from him. Looking back again, she watched his head bump over the lip of the doors and onto the patchy grass outside.
She towed him across the bumpy earth to the water trough and cut the engine. Jeez, this guy was really out for the count, wasn’t he?
When she climbed down, she spotted a small leather object along the trail that had been cut into the dirt by his heavy body. His wallet—and presumably he carried an ID. Though the feeling she recognized him burned strong, she didn’t know the guy’s identity.
She gave him a wide berth in case he woke suddenly and made a grab for her. Then she’d have no choice but to brain him with a shovel.
She walked over to pick up the wallet that had fallen out of his pocket. Propriety told her not to open the bifold and look, but she had to identify the guy, right? She flipped it open and stared at the Colorado driver’s license—expired with a picture of a younger man.
She groaned. No wonder she recognized him—Dane Moon.
Her mind waged a war with her younger alter-ego. In high school, she would have done just about anything to have Dane throw one of his gorgeous crooked smiles her direction, and he never gave her the time of day.
He could only be described as rough around the edges, with a look about him every girl in Stokes High wanted a piece of. Heck, Brennah had her fair share of fantasies involving Dane Moon.


Author Bio:
Em Petrova was raised by hippies in the wilds of Pennsylvania but told her parents at the age of four she wanted to be a gypsy when she grew up. She has a soft spot for babies, puppies and 90s Grunge music and believes in Bigfoot and aliens.
She started writing at the age of twelve and prides herself on making her characters larger than life and her sex scenes hotter than hot.
She burst into the world of publishing in 2010 after having five beautiful bambinos and figuring they were old enough to get their own snacks while she pounds away at the keys . In her not-so-spare time, she is fur-mommy to a Labradoodle named Daisy Hasselhoff and works as editor to other authors.
You can find Em Petrova at http://empetrova.com
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Thanks so much for stopping by today. Don't you just love stories where the bad boy tries to become a good guy for the love of a woman?

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Monday, March 23, 2020

Jace by Sasha Summer (+ Giveaway)


It’s my please today to feature author Sasha Summer’s latest release, JACE, as part of her Sourcebooks Blog Tour. This is the first installment in her Kings of Country series.

Music is all he has…but is it enough to heal them both?

Jace Black went from an oilfield roughneck to an overnight singing sensation. Now he’s working on a duet with country music legend Krystal King, and he’s determined to earn his way to the top. But the more time he spends with Krystal, the more he finds himself falling for her—and he’s beginning to be more interested in her than he is in making a name for himself.
Krystal King grew up on stage and in the spotlight. No matter how golden her life appears, her past left deep wounds. But Jace Black makes her wish things were different. To do that, she’d have to risk letting him in… And that might be too big a risk for her battered heart to take.

Jace
by Sasha Summer
Series: Kings of Country #1
Genre: Contemporary Western

Publication Date: 3/31/2020
Purchase Links:

Excerpt:
“How’d you get here?” she asked, a smile on her face.
“My sister. She entered me in that reality show and everything changed.” He shook his head. “All this”— he pointed around the studio—“is still a shock to my system. Your dad in there. Your sister. Being opposite you. Singing with you?” His voice deepened. “I am in my head a little.”
Her expression shifted, from curious to…concerned. “I’m guessing there’s a reason you’re working so hard?” She cleared her throat. “Wife? Kids?”
“No.” Not anymore. Thinking about what he’d lost still tore him up inside. Talking about it here, now? No way. “Little sister. A lot of medical bills to pay off.” He didn’t elaborate. “She’s a freshman in college now.” He ran his fingers through his hair. “She’s a kid. A good kid. Deserves having her chance.”
“What about you?” she asked. “Ever stop to think this is your chance?”
This was definitely his chance. But he’d been putting Heather first for so long, putting her first now just made sense. “A chance I can’t afford to screw up,” he agreed.
She grinned. “Jace Michael Black. My daddy thinks you can sing. And if my daddy thinks you can sing, you can’t be all that bad.” 
He laughed. Was it wrong that hearing her say his name felt good? And her grin. Damn but she was a pretty thing. Even without all the makeup and fancy clothes she’d been wearing the other night. If anything, he preferred her like this—young, natural, casual. And then he realized, she was relaxed, all the defensive tension and anger gone. She loved this, loved music. They had that in common.
“What’s your sister’s name?”
“Heather,” he said.
“She’s named Heather and you get stuck with Jace?” She shook her head.
“Still not over the name yet?” he asked, his gaze falling to her long neck.
“Told you, I’m not sure what I think yet,” she said.
“I’m fine. I mean, I’m ready now.” He rolled his head. He could do this.
“You sure?” she asked, picking up her headphones. “We could go once, no music. If you want?”
He shook his head and put on his headphones.
Krystal gave the sound booth the thumbs-up and a slight hum flooded his ears. The yearning strains of the guitar flipped a switch inside. The melody was sweeter than he’d expected. And when the lead-in notes rolled over him, he closed his eyes and sang, “I remember you, standing in the sun, smiling at me, and suddenly the world caught fire. Blinding, beautiful fire.”
The music kept going, but Krystal was silent.
He opened his eyes to find her staring at him, her lips parted and her eyes wide. He’d screwed up? His gaze bounced from the pages to Krystal. She just kept right on staring. Shit. What had he done? He glanced at her, skimmed the lyrics, then turned to the sound booth. “Aw, was my timing off?” As far as he could tell, he’d been spot on.
Hank King chuckled. “No. You were great. You just blew her socks off, son.” He was still chuckling. “How about we start again? Will that work for you, Krystal?”
Jace looked at Krystal then, really looked at her. There weren’t many musicians he admired like Krystal. She was the real deal, what singers and songwriters should strive to be. And he’d impressed her. He’d impressed her? “Did I?” he asked, disbelieving. “Knock your socks off?”
She shook her head but didn’t say a word.
“I did.” He sat a little straighter, more than a little pleased.
“Don’t let it go to your head,” Krystal teased. “Besides, I’m not wearing socks.” She smiled at him. “You keep singing like that and you’re going to do just fine.” She blew out her breath. “Okay. Let’s do this.”
One minute, he was feeling pretty damn proud of himself. The next, he was drowning in the heat of those green, green eyes.
“Let’s go,” Hank said.
He slid his earphones back on, the swell of the music flooding his ears. She liked what she heard. And this time, he didn’t close his eyes. He watched her. “I remem­ber you, standing in the sun, smiling at me, and suddenly my world caught fire. Blinding, beautiful fire.”
She blinked, green eyes flashing before she closed her eyes to sing, “I remember you, taking my hand, holding me close, and suddenly my world caught fire. Blinding, beautiful fire.” Her voice—damn, her voice. It reached inside and grabbed hold of him.
“You were everything. My breath, my home, my night, my day. Didn’t care what people said. Didn’t need a thing but you,” he paused a beat. “Till the flames inside burned too hot, and you tried to run from the heat.”
“You were everything. My hope, my fear, my night, my day. Didn’t know my heart was gone. Didn’t know you took it all.” The words gutted him. “And your words, your lies, your promises were the sweetest pain of all.”
The chorus was together. Her gaze met his then, locked together as the words hung in the air between them. “Love isn’t love when the flames burn it down. There’s no hiding or forgiveness from the damage that it’s done. When the smoke clears away, you’ll still find me search­ing here. Searching for the ashes of my heart.”
He was lost in her green-eyed gaze by the time they’d finished the second verse. And the chorus, together… Singing with her was more than he could ever have anticipated.
Her lyrics were powerful and real. He knew what it was to love someone and suffer betrayal. The anger and pain took some of the joy out of life. If he thought about Nikki and Ben too long, the pain made it hard to breathe. How many times had he replayed that night, over and over, wishing he could go back and change it?

***
Excerpted from Jace by Sasha Summers. © 2020 by Sasha Summers. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with Sasha, here’s a bit of background on her.

Author Sasha Summers
Sasha Summers’s passions are storytelling, romance, and travel. A bestselling and award-winning author of more than 20 romance novels and novellas, Sasha continues to fall in love with each hero she writes.

Sasha lives with her family in the suburbs of the Texas Hill country near San Antonio.

For more on Sasha and her writing, visit her website at https://sashasummers.com/

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Don’t you just love stories that tug a little on your heart strings?

Friday, March 20, 2020

Phoenix by Amanda McKinney (+Giveaway)


* Phoenix
* By Amanda McKinney
* (Steele Shadows Rising)
* Publication date: March 19th 2020
* Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
From bestselling and multi-award-winning author Amanda McKinney comes a **standalone** romance in the bestselling Steele Shadows series.
A man who cheated death.
A woman hired to pick up the broken pieces.
And an obsession strong enough to kill for.
They told him he’d been given a second chance at life. Told him to count his lucky stars, to stop and smell the roses. Kind of hard to do when your body is bound by chains and cuffs. That’s what it felt like, anyway, when Phoenix Steele woke up from his coma to a life full of restrictions.
Once known around town as the fearless, indomitable heir to the Steele fortune, the former Marine was suddenly labeled unstable, short-tempered, and loose cannon. Unwilling to accept his issues, Phoenix instantly clashes with his assertive therapist—the town’s most eligible bachelorette.
No one knew overcoming the odds like Dr. Rose Floris. Determined not to be a statistic, Rose lived her life under carefully constructed routines—until a gruesome murder and a series of mysterious events reveal she’s become the center of a madman’s obsession. Suddenly, Rose’s world is turned upside down and she finds herself under the watchful eye of her new client, a broken man she’s been warned not to trust.
As the tables begin to turn on their client-patient relationship, Phoenix realizes he must battle his own demons before he can save anyone, including the woman who’s become his own obsession…
An obsession he’d kill for.
EXCERPT:
After taking a quick second to review my new patient’s file, I stepped into my office—and stopped dead in my tracks. The dark silhouette faced the window, sitting in my chair. His back was to me, his feet kicked up on the windowsill as if he owned the place.
The first thing I noticed was the size of his feet, two dirty cowboy boots crossed at the ankles, a trail of mud running down the wall. I literally cringed. He had brown, shaggy hair that looked like it hadn’t seen a pair of scissors in months, and a neck as thick as a tree trunk. A tattoo peeked out of the collar of a black leather jacket stretched over the widest shoulders I’d ever seen.
Although he had to have heard the door open, the man didn’t move. Yep, my new patient, whom I’d never met, had made himself right at home behind my desk in my office chair. Had he gone through my stuff? Pilfered through my space? My mind began spinning with all the confidential information he could have read on my desk. Totally unacceptable, and totally inappropriate.
Little did I know what kind of inappropriate this man had in store for me.
“Thanks for showing up.” The faceless voice was jarringly low. The man was pissed. At me.
“Excuse me?”
He kicked his boots off the window, plopping them onto the floor with a thud, leaving enough mud to fill the Grand Canyon. Another cringe.
“You’re late,” he said, still not gracing me with the front part of his body.
I blinked. No way. This was not happening. Who did this guy think he was? I bit the inside of my cheek and squared my shoulders. Professional, professional, you need this job, be professional, I reminded myself.
“I apologize, Mr…” I glanced at the name typed on the file in my hands. “Steele.”
“Phoenix.”
The chair swiveled and a flutter of butterflies rippled through me.
And I thought the voice was jarring…
His eyes were the color of a tropical ocean, a baby blue, almost iridescent, if not for the heat that spilled from them. The lines of his face were sharp with defined angles, a mirror to the disinterest he wore like a beacon, blinking brightly, making sure I knew he didn’t care to be there. Days of unkempt scruff covered his clenched jaw line, pulling my attention to a pair of lips that had me licking my own. Circles shaded his puffy eyes with wrinkles at the edges suggesting he was a good decade older than me, possibly pushing forty. A grey T-shirt fit snuggly under that leather jacket, defining a pair of pecs I could only assume were as hard as the expression he was pinning me with. I felt my weight to my tiptoes, like a magnet being pulled, assessing him with a frowned expression that I knew was giving me away. Because under all that weather-beaten, overtly masculine appearance, narrowed eyes, and locked jaw, there was a strikingly handsome man. Hidden, almost as if on purpose.
I’d never seen an aura before, but the man vibrated the air around him in a hostile, dark cloud like an animal warning of its presence. I could actually feel him in my office.
A Mighty King.
Fallen.


Author Bio:
Amanda McKinney is the bestselling and multi-award-winning author of more than ten romantic suspense and mystery novels.
She wrote her debut novel, LETHAL LEGACY, in 2017 after walking away from her career to become a writer and stay-at-home mom. Set in small, southern towns, Amanda's books are page-turning murder mysteries packed with steamy romance.
Her books include the BERRY SPRINGS SERIES and the BLACK ROSE MYSTERY SERIES, with a surprise new series being released later this year. THE CAVE, the seventh book in the BERRY SPRINGS SERIES, was released August 2019.
Text AMANDABOOKS to 66866 to receive Amanda's newsletter and get the latest on new releases, promos, and freebies!
Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you enjoy a little romance mixed in with a suspenseful story?

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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Carousels of Paris by Kaye Wilkinson Barley


It is with great pleasure that I welcome friend, author and fellow blogger, Kaye Wilkinson Barley, to Thoughts in Progress today to talk about her recent release, CAROUSELS OF PARIS.

Just saying the name, CAROUSELS OF PARIS, makes me smile. Here’s a brief synopsis of it.

A charming collection of color photographs and historical information about many of the carousels in Paris. Carousels are said to be a French invention brought about by the accidental death of King Henri II during a jousting tournament in 1559. Renaissance knights stopped jousting, and the games evolved into spearing rings with their lances. The idea of mounting wooden horses on a rotating frame dates to the 17th century. To entertain thousands of people during an event at Versailles, the Sun King, Louis XIV, King of France from 1643 until his death in 1715, had his engineers design the first rotating merry-go-round, a four-seater with gilded chairs for ladies and horses or swans for the men. By the end of the 18th century, there were merry-go-rounds in several of the Parisian public gardens. In the wake of the French Revolution, the merry-go-round, like other sorts of entertainment previously enjoyed by aristocrats, became more easily accessible to workers and their families.

Now please join me in giving a warm welcome to Kaye. Welcome, Kaye.

Thanks so much for having me back, Mason - it's been awhile!

"Carousels of Paris" is a different sort of book than my "Whimsey: A Novel."  For one thing, it's not fiction - although the very nature of carousels do make them whimsical, which we all need a little of. I think.

This book is actually a photo essay with over 80 pictures taken by me and by my husband, Donald, along with some snippets of facts and history.

I love to research any place I'm going to be traveling to and while researching Paris I kept seeing photos of a carousel with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

Having been a lover of carousels since I was a little girl, I felt like this was a stop I'd love to make while in Paris.

Little did I know that Parisians, actually French people in general, share a love of carousels.

They're everywhere.

They’re in the gardens – both large and small tucked away hidden gardens, and occasionally plopped down in the street near a Metro Station. 

We have tried our best to capture and photograph all of them, but it became a fun bit of a challenge.  There are approximately 20 carousels scattered around the city, but when we would get to the location specified, we stopped being surprised to find that it was gone – possibly moved to another location temporarily.
Or, truth be told, it’s very easy to get sidetracked by something else while on a carousel hunt in Paris. And one would be silly to pass by a small café set back under the trees in Luxembourg Gardens for a brief respite with a pastry and a café crème. 

So.  This book has a few of the carousels we did find, along with many photos we took in the Musee des Arts Forains: Carousel Museum  -  http://arts-forains.com/en/visitors - where we were able to ride some very old carousels and learned a bit of history.  It's a fun place not many people know about, but I recommend it.

Since we didn't find all the carousels, we're hoping to try again, and who knows, maybe there will be a "Carousels of Paris, Part II" one of these days.

Pub Date was March 17.  I hope some of your readers will find it interesting enough to pick up, and I hope everyone finds it as enjoyable as Don and I did photographing them.

You can read a little more about it at my webpage  -  http://kayewilkinsonbarley.com/ 

Thanks so much for having me!

Kaye, it’s always a pleasure to have you stop by. Thanks for sharing the background on this delightful new book you have. 


Here are what others are saying about this enchanting book.

          “Kaye and Donald Barley’s photographs of Parisian carousels capture the whimsy, wit, and charm of the raucous merry-go-rounds that pepper the cobblestone streets and manicured parks of the City of Light. So grab a copy of Carousels of Paris and let your imagination wander back to a world full of colored lights and painted horses, quaint carriages and playful tigers, fantastical griffins and endangered dodos.” — Juliet BlackwellNew York Times bestselling author of The Lost Carousel of Provence and Letters from Paris

          “Simply enchanting! The carousels are delightful, and the photographers manage to bring them to life. I half expected them to leap off the pages. I absolutely adored this book!” — Jenn McKinlayNew York Times bestselling author and author of soon to be released Paris is Always a Good Idea

Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with Kaye, here’s a bit of background on her.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley & Donald Barley
I live with my husband of almost 34 years, Don, in the North Carolina mountains along with one little princess of a pup—Annabelle, who is a fluffy Welsh Corgi.

We’re both retired and spending time doing things together we both enjoy—photography and traveling.

We both, of course, have individual interests that we pursue on our own. While Donald’s off exploring the world on his motorcycle, I might be reading, writing, or cooking up a big pot of chili.

While we’re not always in agreement on all things, we do agree on what we both believe are life’s most important concerns—trying to live by The Golden Rule and doing no harm to others while accepting no nonsense.

We’re music lovers who have managed to see most of our favorite bands and musicians in concert. We also spend a great deal of time in search of the perfect pizza.

I’m a voracious reader and lover of books, a long-time blogger, an indie author, an amateur photographer, dabbler in mixed media collages, and fiddler of fiber arts. A person who believes creativity is essential to the soul. I’m a collector of “things” pretty and sparkly. I’m opinionated and mouthy, but a marshmallow at heart. Loyal to a fault. And have strong (very strong) political opinions.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today during Kaye’s visit. Did you enjoy riding on carousels when you were growing up and/or do you enjoy riding on them nowadays? Isn’t there something just magical about a carousel?

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Safe House by Jo Jakeman


It’s an honor to be a part of the blog tour for SAFE HOUSE (Berkley Trade Paperback Original; March 10, 2020), the second standalone thriller by the author of The Exes’ Revenge (2018), Jo Jakeman.

Jo’s breakout debut told the story of three women taking matters into their own hands after being wronged by the same man. Now, Jo returns with another chilling story, this time starring a betrayed woman who just wants a fresh start.

She's paid the price for giving her ex a false alibi, and now she's moved to a seaside village to escape her past--but more than her lie follows her there in this chilling and twisty psychological thriller from the author of the acclaimed The Exes' Revenge.

One day, a woman turns up in a remote coastal village. She's bought a crumbling, long-vacant cottage and calls herself Charlie Miller. Charlie keeps to herself, reluctant to integrate with the locals. If they ever find out who she really is, and what she's done, she'll lose what little she has left.
           Charlie served two years in prison for providing a false alibi for a murderer. It was the mistake of a woman in love, a woman who couldn't believe her boyfriend was guilty--or lying to her. All she desperately wants now is a fresh start.
          As Charlie slowly lets down her guard and becomes friendly with her neighbors, she can't shake the feeling that someone is watching her, someone who knows what she did. When one of her new friends suddenly disappears, Charlie's worst fears are confirmed. She must confront her past head-on, but as she knows all too well, everything is far more dangerous than how it appears.

This is a twisted, atmospheric novel that will hold your attention from beginning to end.

About the author

Author Jo Jakeman
Jo was the winner of the prestigious Friday Night Live competition at York Festival of Writing. Her debut Psychological Thriller was published in the UK as Sticks and Stones by Harvill Secker (Penguin Random House) and as The Exes’ Revenge in the USA and Canada. It was shortlisted for the Best Revenge thriller of the year at the Dead Good Reader Awards. 

Thanks for stopping by today. Do you enjoy thrillers that have that twisted side that keeps you on the edge of your seat until the last sentence?