#BookBlitz “Anguished (A JD Pickens Mystery, Book Four)” by George Encizo

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A JD Pickens Mystery, Book Four

Mystery

Published: June 2021

Publisher: Gatekeeper Press

Murder and mayhem hit close to home for Sheriff JD Pickens. Someone viciously attacked his father from behind, and his best friend, Leroy Jones, was shot in the back and left for dead. Several other attacks forced Pickens to seek outside help, not only for solving the crimes but for his peace of mind. Never before had Pickens and his deputies had to deal with so many harsh realities of life.

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Other Book in the JD Pickens Mystery Series:

Descent Into Hell

JD Pickens Mysteries, Book 1

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Murder on Grange Road

JD Pickens Mysteries, Book 2

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Murder Knows No Boundaries

JD Pickens Mysteries, Book 3

Amazon

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About the Author

George Encizo is an award-winning author and has written seven novels. Encizo is a retired banker and lives in Tallahassee, Florida. When not writing, he enjoys a cup of coffee on the back porch with his wife communing with nature.

Contact Links

Website

Amazon Author Page

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Purchase Links

Amazon

B&N

Kobo

iBooks

Google Play

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RABT Book Tours & PR

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#Excerpt “Lost on a Page” by David E. Sharp

About the Book

Title: Lost on a Page

Author: David E. Sharp

Genre: Fantasy / Science Fiction

Some genres were never meant to cross.

Joe Slade is a detective with a hot lead and a warm gun. He no longer believes in happy-ever-afters, but his faith in plot twists is devout. Good thing.

He is about to discover the biggest twist of all.

Joe Slade is not real.

He is a character in a series of mystery novels. And when he discovers all his pain has been in the name of book sales, there will be hell to pay. Vowing revenge on his author, he will set off for the World Where the Books Are Written. The road will take him through genres foreign and treacherous: High Fantasy, Bodice-Ripping Romance, Intergalactic Sci-Fi, and others even more awful and terrifying.

But what if this new life is about more than just living? And will Joe still come out on top when all the rules have changed?

Get the book today from:

Amazon

Black Rose Writing

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Excerpt

She leads me down an aisle of books. The aisles are short. I sneer at a tacky paperback entitled The Marquis’s Mistress by Lyla Birdsong that sits crooked on the shelf. The marquis, as pictured on the cover, seems to have difficulty buttoning his shirt all the way, and a perpetual breeze blows through his curly dark hair. The strawberry haired mistress hangs off him in a still frame of passion, her breasts barely contained by her bodice. As we walk, the woman in indigo whispers something under her breath.

All worlds, connected by words

All words, connecting to worlds,

From the dawning of time

Through the end of all days,

Bring us to the Nexus of Words.”

I snort at the ridiculousness of it. It doesn’t even rhyme. Call me old fashioned, but when I hear ominous, occult mantras, I at least expect them to rhyme. I am jarred from my thoughts when we pass a copy of The Marquis’s Mistress by Lyla Birdsong sitting crooked on the shelf. Does the world truly need two copies?

The air is stale and soupy. Guess these old buildings don’t have much ventilation. I feel a tingling in the fillings of my teeth. An electric hum fills the air. My head throbs too, which shouldn’t surprise me since I got ambushed in an alley some hours ago. But there’s something odd about it. Like each throb propels lingering echoes through my skull.

Now I consider we have been walking long enough that we should have come to the end of this short aisle twice over, but we haven’t even made it halfway yet. I look behind me. The front of the bookstore seems farther away than it should be. I look in front of me again. The row of shelves goes on for about fifteen feet. We are still walking at a normal pace. After several

steps, the row of shelves continues to stretch out about fifteen feet in front of us. I look to my left. The marquis’s mistress can barely contain her unbridled passion.

I stop. The air is hard to breathe. My head is reeling. The floor keeps changing directions on me. “Just give me a minute, fellas. I seem to be having a nervous breakdown.”

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Author Bio

David E. Sharp is a noisy librarian. He is fond of theatre and got his start in writing by producing original plays in his hometown. He has also published short stories in various anthologies. David is a member of the Northern Colorado Writers and frequently contributes to their blog. He lives in Greeley, Colorado with his wife and family.

Find the author on Goodreads

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Lost on a Page won the 2021 Maxy Award for the Fantasy/Sci-Fi Category

Lost on a Page recently received a score of 4.6 on IndieReader.

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#FREE “Wilizy” by David J. Wighton (33-book Young Adult Series)

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From Book 1: If you think being a teenager in today’s world is tough, try being one in 2081. In Alberta’s It’s Only Fair society, your brain-band will zap you just for chewing with your mouth open. One boy pried his brain-band off to see what living with emotions would be like. Being chased by the entire Alberta army was bad enough. It became worse when another 15 year old kid offered to help him escape.

All 33 books in the series are FREE!

Amazon

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#BookSale “Kings of the Mountain: Collection” by Kate Tilney

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They’re strong and loyal, heroic and true. They call the mountains and wilderness of Montana home. They’re the Kings of the Mountain. Five curvy heroines. Five mountain men. Five instalove short romances.

BROCK
A curvy artist from the city and a mountain man with a dark past find true love and inspiration after he saves her life. 

FLINT
A curvy college grad goes to the mountains to help her brother’s best friend save his family’s lodge, and a long-lingering spark ignites with the promise of so much more.

RHETT
A curvy romance author rents a rustic cabin from a handsome mountain man and finds the inspiration for her next hero and possibly her own happily ever after.

MAX
A curvy reporter hires a mountain man guide and together they find romance in the face of danger.

ZEKE
A curvy actress is taken in by a volunteer firefighter mountain man and finds the prospect of true love and a family in an unexpected place.

Kings of the Mountain is a standalone series of steamy, sweet, instalove short story romances with curvy heroines and alpha heroes who fall hard and fast while carving out their happily ever after in the Montana wilderness. No cliffhangers. No cheating. Happily ever after guaranteed!

Kindle Countdown

99c

(Returning to 3.99 soon!)

Amazon

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#BookSale “Her Golden Eyes” by Holly March

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Medieval Morocco, 1195 CE, 591 AH…

Sabbah’s neatly ordered life is about to be overturned. He is an important man in an important city who has been successful at everything so far, but can he succeed with love?

He should be worrying about a conspiracy to undermine Marrakech itself, but his beautiful new housekeeper is disturbing his house, his head, and his heart.

Tison is in a new city, and she is determined to control her own destiny. That destiny was not supposed to involve falling for her new master, or getting involved with a shadowy underground cell bent on anarchy.

The first medieval romance in the Heart of Gold series, Her Golden Eyes will captivate and intrigue.

“[Holly March] perfectly captured the struggle of a conservative Arabic man in love.” – Ahmad Fathy, beta reader

“I mega loved it. Tison and Sabbah are so wonderful together.” – Kiru Taye

50% off at Smashwords until July 31st!

$1.49!

Smashwords

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#BookTour “Silence in the Library” by Katharine Schellman

Silence in the Library by Katharine Schellman Banner

July 12 – August 6, 2021 Tour

silence-in-the-library-by-katharine-schellman--cover

Synopsis:

 

Regency widow Lily Adler didn’t expect to find a corpse when visiting a family friend. Now it’s up to her to discover the killer in the charming second installment in the Lily Adler mysteries.

Regency widow Lily Adler has finally settled into her new London life when her semi-estranged father arrives unexpectedly, intending to stay with her while he recovers from an illness. Hounded by his disapproval, Lily is drawn into spending time with Lady Wyatt, the new wife of an old family friend. Lily barely knows Lady Wyatt. But she and her husband, Sir Charles, seem as happy as any newly married couple until the morning Lily arrives to find the house in an uproar and Sir Charles dead.

All signs indicate that he tripped and struck his head late at night. But when Bow Street constable Simon Page is called to the scene, he suspects foul play. And it isn’t long before Lily stumbles on evidence that Sir Charles was, indeed, murdered.

Mr. Page was there when Lily caught her first murderer, and he trusts her insight into the world of London’s upper class. With the help of Captain Jack Hartley, they piece together the reasons that Sir Charles’s family might have wanted him dead. But anyone who might have profited from the old man’s death seems to have an alibi… until Lily receives a mysterious summons to speak with one of the Wyatts’ maids, only to find the young woman dead when she arrives.

Mr. Page believes the surviving family members are hiding the key to the death of both Sir Charles and the maid. To uncover the truth, Lily must convince the father who doesn’t trust or respect her to help catch his friend’s killer before anyone else in the Wyatt household dies.

Praise for Silence in the Library:

“Schellman’s gracefully written whodunit is equally a tale of 19th-century female empowerment and societal conventions…More than a clever murder puzzle, this is an immersion in a bygone era.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“The fast-paced, engrossing story has a climactic confrontation worthy of Rex Stout or Agatha Christie.”
Library Journal, starred review

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery

Published by: Crooked Lane Books

Publication Date: July 13th 2021

Number of Pages: 352

ISBN: 1643857045 (ISBN13: 9781643857046)

Series: Lily Adler Mystery #2 | The Lily Adler series are stand alone mysteries but even more fabulous if read in sequence

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Given the way she hadn’t hesitated to interfere in the Wyatt family’s affairs, Lily expected Lady Wyatt to politely rescind her invitation to ride the next morning. But she had insisted, saying her arm was sure to be better by morning. So after breakfast, Lily instructed Anna to lay out her riding habit.

Though she had forgone her usual routine of breakfasting in her own room and instructed Mrs. Carstairs to lay breakfast in the parlor, Lily hadn’t seen any sign of her father. She didn’t mind. If she couldn’t be cozy while she dined, she was at least happy to be alone. And it gave her the opportunity to go over the week’s menus with her housekeeper and offer several suggestions for managing her father’s requests while he was with them.

“And do you know how long might that be, Mrs. Adler?” Mrs. Carstairs asked carefully. “Mr. Branson was unable to say when I spoke to him last night.”

Lily pursed her lips. “For as long as he needs, Mrs. Carstairs. Or as long as I can bear his company. My record on that score is fifteen years, however, so let us hope it will not come to that.”

The housekeeper wisely didn’t say anything else.

Lily’s pleasant solitude lasted until she was making her way back upstairs to change, when she found her path blocked by her father’s belligerent frame. Unwell he might be, but George Pierce was still a solid, imposing man, and Lily had to remind herself to square her shoulders and meet his scowl with a smile as he did his best to tower over her from the step above.

“Good morning, Father.”

He didn’t return the greeting. “I am going to breakfast,” he announced, eyebrows raised.

Lily waited for a moment and then, when no more information was forthcoming, nodded. “I hope you enjoy it. Mrs. Carstairs is an excellent cook.”

He sniffed. “And I assume your excessively early rising is an attempt to avoid my company?”

“It is past nine o’clock, father,” Lily said. “Hardly excessive. And I have an appointment this morning, so if you will excuse me—”

“What is your appointment?”

He couldn’t curtail or dictate what she did with her time, Lily reminded herself. Even if having him in her home left her feeling as if her independence were being slowly stripped away once more, in practical terms he had no say in her life anymore. Answering his question was only polite. “An engagement with a friend—”

“That sailor again, I assume?”

Lily took a deep breath. “Captain Hartley was also invited, but no, the engagement is to ride with Lady Wyatt this morning. Which I assume you would approve of?” Seeing that she had momentarily surprised him into silence, she took the opportunity to push past her father. “You would like her, I think. She is charming and elegant.”

“And her husband’s a fool for marrying again,” Mr. Pierce grumbled, but Lily was already heading down the hall and didn’t answer.

Jack was coming just before ten to escort her to the Wyatts’ house, and Lily was in a hurry to dress and escape her father once again. Her room was empty when she walked in, but Anna had laid out her riding habit on the bed, pressed and ready, its military-style buttons glinting in the morning light amid folds of emerald-green fabric.

Lily stared at it without moving. She had forgotten that her habit wasn’t suitable to wear when she was in mourning.

She was still staring when Anna returned, the freshly brushed riding hat in her hands. When she saw Lily’s posture, Anna paused.

“You don’t have another, I’m afraid,” she said gently.

Lily nodded, unable to speak. One hand reached out to brush the heavy fabric of the habit; the other clenched a fold of the gray dress she wore. She had stopped wearing colors even before Freddy died—in those last months of his illness, she had traded all her pretty dresses for drab gowns more suited to nursing an invalid who would never recover. And even after full mourning was complete, she had lingered in the muted shades of half mourning long past when anyone would have required it of her, even Freddy’s own family. Laying aside the visual reminders of her grief felt too much like leaving behind her marriage.

But that had meant more than two years of sorrow. And in the last few months, since she had come to London and taken control of her life once more, something had shifted inside her.

“Yes, thank you, Anna,” Lily said quietly, her voice catching a little. She cleared her throat and said, more firmly, “I will wear this one.”

***

She managed to leave the house without encountering her father again. When her butler, Carstairs, sent word that Captain Hartley was waiting in the front hall, Lily felt a pang of anxiety. Jack had loved Freddy like a brother. And he had never given any indication that he thought her mourning had gone on long enough.

Jack was in the middle of removing his hat, and his hand stilled at the brim as he caught sight of her. Even Carstairs fell still as they watched her come down the stairs, the heavy folds of her green skirts buttoned up on one side to allow her to walk freely and a single dyed- green feather curling over the brim of her hat and flirting with her brown curls.

Lily felt exposed as she descended the final few steps, though she was bolstered by the approval that softened Carstairs’s smile. She had never considered herself a shy person, but she could barely meet Jack’s eyes as she crossed the hall to give him her hand.

For a moment neither of them spoke, and when she raised her gaze at last, Lily thought she saw the captain blinking something from the corner of his eye. “That was Freddy’s favorite color,” he said at last, his voice catching.

Lily nodded. “I know.”

Jack’s jaw tightened for a moment as he swallowed. But he smiled. “Well done, Lily,” he said quietly. “Good for you.”

***

There was a lightness between them as they made the quick journey to Wimpole Street. As Jack waved down a hack carriage and handed her in, Lily found herself laughing at all of his quips or droll pieces of gossip, even the ones she normally would have chastised him for repeating. And Jack kept glancing at her out of the corner of his eye.

“Do I look that dreadful?” Lily asked at last as he handed her down from the carriage in front of the Wyatts’ home.

“Quite the opposite,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck as he released her hand. “Did you know, you are actually quite pretty?”

“You mean you did not find me pretty before?”

“I think I had forgotten to consider it one way or another,” Jack admitted, grinning. “What a shame everyone has left London already; you would cause quite a sensation.”

Lily shook her head. “I know full well I am not handsome enough for that.”

“Surprise can cause as much of a sensation as admiration,” Jack pointed out.

“Captain!” Lily exclaimed in mock indignation. “You were supposed to argue with me!”

They continued bantering as they mounted the steps to Sir Charles’s townhouse, only to fall silent and exchange a puzzled glance as they realized that the door was half-open, the sounds of raised voices echoing from within.

Lily glanced at Jack, an uneasy sensation beginning to curl in the pit of her stomach. “Should we knock?”

He shrugged and did so, rapping firmly on the wood of the door. There was no response, but it swung open a little more. After hesitating a moment, Lily bit her lip and said, “Well, we ought to at least make sure Lady Wyatt knows we’ve come. If it is no longer convenient to ride, she can certainly tell us to leave.”

“And you were already happy to interfere yesterday,” Jack pointed out, though she could hear the unease lurking beneath his playful tone. “We might as well do it again.”

“Very true.” Lily pushed the door the rest of the way open and strode in, Jack following close behind.

The front hall was empty, but they could still hear voices not far away, now low and urgent, and the sound of quiet crying from somewhere just out of sight. The uneasy feeling began to spread through Lily’s chest and arms, and she reached out her hand in blind anxiety. She was relieved to feel Jack take it and press it reassuringly into the crook of his arm.

She had just decided that they should leave after all when quick steps echoed down the stairs. A moment later Frank Wyatt came rushing down, checking himself at the bottom as he stared at them in surprise.

His face was pale and his eyes red as he gaped at them, his easy manner vanished. “Lily? And Captain . . . I’ve quite forgot your name. You must excuse . . . what are you doing here?”

“The door was open, and no one answered our knock,” Lily said, feeling a little ashamed of their hastiness in entering. “I apologize, Frank; we did not mean to intrude, but we had an appointment to ride with Lady Wyatt this morning. Is everyone well?”

“Is everyone . . . No. No.” Frank gripped the banister with one hand, his knuckles white. “I am afraid that Lady Wyatt will not be able to ride today. My father . . .” He swallowed. “My father has died.”

Lily stared at him, unable to make sense of his words. They had seen Sir Charles just the day before. If he had seemed a little older and weaker than she remembered, he had still been utterly vital and alive. “Died? But . . . how?”

“In point of fact,” a new voice said quietly from behind them. “It seems Sir Charles Wyatt has been killed.”

***

Excerpt from Silence in the Library by Katharine Schellman. Copyright 2021 by Katharine Schellman. Reproduced with permission from Katharine Schellman. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Katharine Schellman

Katharine Schellman is a former actor, one-time political consultant, and currently the author of the Lily Adler Mysteries. A graduate of the College of William & Mary, Katharine currently lives and writes in the mountains of Virginia in the company of her family and the many houseplants she keeps accidentally murdering.

Find her online:
katharineschellman.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @KatharineSchellman
Instagram – @katharinewrites
Twitter – @katharinewrites
Facebook – @katharineschellman

 

 

Tour Participants:

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

 

Don’t Miss Your Chance to Enter the Giveaway!!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Heather Redmond. There will be 1 winner of one (1) BookShop.org Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs July 12 through August 8, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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#BlogTour “Tainted Harvest (Simone Doucet Series, Book 1)” by E. Denise Billups

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She escaped servitude for a worse fate. Now she wants everyone to know what happened.

Simone Doucet is searching for a meaningful life. As a travel writer, she’s searched but hasn’t found a purpose yet. She accepts an assignment that takes her to Magnolia Sunrise, a historical bed-and-breakfast on the bluffs of Natchez, Mississippi. Soon, frightful images of a young slave girl, Delphine Randolph, haunt her every evening. Are the dreams related to the assignment? Will she find answers in Natchez?

The first night at the B&B, a ghostly visitation transports Simone to 1863, antebellum Natchez. Through spectral eyes, Simone sees Delphine’s history. Her servitude as a wet nurse to her master’s wife, rape, and forced pregnancies, her daring escape, and early demise inside a Civil War contraband camp known as the Devil’s Punchbowl. Delphine wants everyone to know what happened to her at Magnolia Sunrise and inside the Union soldier’s encampment. She won’t stop haunting Simone until she TELLS HER STORY.

But why has Delphine chosen Simone? Will this awakening bring a new purpose to Simone’s life? Or more untold mysteries to be discovered?

BOOK LINKS

AMAZON UShttps://amzn.to/2TKeGJp

AMAZON UKhttps://amzn.to/36fiRjg

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AUTHOR BIO

E. Denise Billups Headshot

Denise Billups is an author with a rare mixture of southern and northern charm. She was born in Monroeville, Alabama, and raised in New York City, where she has worked in finance and as a freelance columnist and currently resides. A multi-genre author of fiction, she has published four novels—Keepers of the Gate: Twilight Ends (Book 1), Kalorama Road, Chasing Victoria, and By Chance. She has also written several supernatural short stories, including Off the Grid, Ravine Lereux: Unearthing A Family Curse, The Playground, and Rebound. As an avid reader of magical realism, mystery, suspense, and supernatural novels, she was greatly influenced by authors in these genres.

Currently, she is working on book two of her trilogy, Twilight Ends, a paranormal historical fiction, and book two of Simone Doucet Series to be released in 2022.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

Website: https://edenisebillups.com/

Next Chapter Publishing: https://www.nextchapter.pub

Facebook: @E. Denise Billups

Twitter:    @DeniseBillups

Goodreads: @E. Denise Billups

YouTube:  @E. Denise Billups

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#BookBlitz “Key West Dead (A Jake Wolfe Novel)” by Mark Nolan

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Mystery-thriller and romantic suspense

 

 

Date Published: 03-31-2018

 

 

A beach wedding, with a hidden explosive device waiting to murder the newlyweds.

A kidnapped teenaged girl, strapped with an IED vest that turns her into a suicide bomber.

A former Marine and his girlfriend, along with their trained K-9, who volunteer to hunt for the bomb-maker.

There is trouble in paradise at Margaritaville Resort, where Jake and Sarah try moving in and living together for the first time to see how it goes. Suddenly they have far more than just their progressing relationship on the line. Now their very lives are at stake.

When a murderer begins threatening his friends, Jake vows to hunt him down and stop his crime spree. He and his former war dog, Cody, are soon following the twisted trail of an elusive bomb-maker whose explosive devices are wreaking havoc among the Florida Keys residents and tourists.

The killer is not amused by their interference in his plans, and he soon adds Jake, Sarah, and Cody to his list of targets.

With the islands under constant attack and everybody a suspect, the chase is on in a race against time, as the clock keeps ticking down toward a final heart-stopping confrontation that will bring the trio of Jake, Sarah and Cody face-to-face with death.

Will Cody’s trained nose be able to hunt down the criminal in time, so Jake can stop his bombing spree before he detonates “the big one?” And will Jake and Sarah’s relationship survive their life-threatening ordeal so they can sail away together to sunny islands? Read Key West Dead to find out what happens next.

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About the Author

Mark Nolan is the Amazon Bestselling Author of the Jake Wolfe Series. Subscribe to his reader newsletter at marknolan.com for updates, specials, giveaways, and news.

 

Contact Links

Website

Facebook

Twitter

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Purchase Link

Kindle Unlimited

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RABT Book Tours & PR

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#BookTour “Black Label” by James L’Etoile

Black Label by James L'Etoile Banner

July 12 – August 8, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Black Label by James L'Etoile

Sanity is something you don’t miss until it’s gone. Hard charging pharmaceutical executive Jillian Cooper fears she’d destined to inherit her mother’s history of mental illness when she finds herself accused of murdering her boss. All the evidence tells her she’s either a murderer, or insane. When Jillian struggles to find the truth, she uncovers a web of black market pharmaceuticals, prison gangs, and greed. She begins to believe she may have killed to cover up the off-the-books drug operation.

Can she discover the truth before she’s condemned to life in prison, or a mental hospital?

Praise

“Tight, terrific, terrifying. BLACK LABEL delves into the murky world of pharmaceuticals where profit is prioritized above all else. L’Etoile creates a strong female lead in Jillian Cooper, a woman who faces obstacle after obstacle, but still charges into the abyss. More unnerving than a fistful of amphetamines. Unputdownable.”
—K.J. Howe, international bestselling author of SKYJACK

“James L’Etoile’s BLACK LABEL is a delightfully complex and twisty thriller with a ripped-from-the-headlines plot that will make you think long and hard before you swallow your next dose of medication. Add in an intrepid heroine willing to do whatever it takes to uncover the truth no matter the cost, and L’Etoile’s newest offering is a winner!”
— Karen Dionne, author of the #1 international bestseller THE MARSH KING’S DAUGHTER and THE WICKED SISTER

“Relentlessly fast-paced and compellingly twisty! The talented James L’Etoile sets up an irresistibly high-stakes situation: a woman is certain to be charged with murder and doesn’t remember a thing. Can she prove her innocence before she’s silenced forever? A dark journey through the world of big Pharma and big money—you will turn the pages as fast as you can.”
— Hank Phillippi Ryan USA Today Bestselling author of THE FIRST TO LIE

“If this book had a tag, it would say ‘proceed with caution’ because nothing is what it seems. Told with a vivid and visceral style, this is le Carré’s Constant Gardener meets The Fugitive. As the title suggests, BLACK LABEL is a top of the line thriller.”
Gabriel Valjan, Agatha & Anthony Award nominated author

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller

Published by: Level Best Books

Publication Date: July 20, 2021

Number of Pages: 300

ISBN: 978-1-953789-14-3

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

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Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

It was bad this time. Jillian shielded her eyes from the sharp edge of morning light and dug her fingers into the pillow clutched over her face. Deep in her temples, her pulse hammered a fast, painful staccato rhythm. She’d gone months since her last migraine, and this one tightened a vice around her skull. Even with her eyes closed, her vision clouded with a kaleidoscope of bright dots. The rustle of bedcovers sounded like the world fell in around her. Jillian Cooper’s world had crumbled down and threatened to suffocate her, only she didn’t know it–yet.

She reached for the phone she kept on her bedside table. There was no way she was going to make it to her Saturday morning spin class. Her hand probed for the phone, her head still tucked under the pillow. First one way, then she groped in another direction, knocking over a small brass table lamp. Jillian recoiled from the clatter as the metal lamp rung as loudly as the bells at Saints’ Peter and Paul Church over in North Beach. She peeled off her protective pillow and reached for the phone. Her phone wasn’t on the bedside table, and neither was the stack of paperback books she habitually kept at hand. Blinding pinpricks of light danced in her vision, making it impossible to focus through the swirling aura.

Fighting against the pounding in her head, Jillian crept to the edge of the bed, dangled her legs off the side, and brushed her toes gently on the polished hardwood floor. Jillian shuddered, a wave of nausea poured over her. The feeling wasn’t from a migraine. It came from the realization she wasn’t in her apartment. Her place didn’t have hardwood floors. Jillian didn’t know where she was, or worse, how she got here.

Instead of her phone, a half-empty Gran Patrón Platinum tequila bottle and a wrinkled condom wrapper lay on the nightstand. She spotted her clothes on the other side of the room, in a heap on a leather chair. Jillian pulled the sheet away from herself and peered downward.

“Shit.”

She was naked under the bed covers. Jillian couldn’t remember the slightest detail leading up to her ending the night disrobed, nor could she feel the lingering warmth of being with someone, in spite of the condom wrapper left on the nightstand. She’d never experienced a blackout from alcohol before. Jillian stayed away from tequila as a rule because of a few bad hangovers back when she attended San Francisco State University. If it weren’t for the half-empty bottle of pricy booze, she’d have sworn she hadn’t touched the stuff in ten years.

Yet, here she was–tequila, nakedness, and all. She hoped a tall, dark, handsome, athletic man was going to burst through the bedroom door with a tray of cappuccinos and warm croissants. At this point, a short, round, gnomish man with instant coffee and a day-old pop tart would be welcome. It wasn’t her habit to “sleep around,” as her mother used to call it. However, Jillian Cooper was a woman who enjoyed the occasional company of men, and this was not the first time she’d greeted the sunrise from a man’s place following a late night hook-up. She always remembered them, until this morning. The migraine and the tequila played games in her head—loud, pulsing, and painful games.

The bedroom, where she did God-only-knows-what, was expensively furnished and decidedly masculine. Dark hues of burnished leather and deep mahogany dominated the space. A set of wooden horizontal blinds kept out some light, and in spite of her headache, curiosity demanded she open them.

The window looked out over Huntington Park in Nob Hill, some of the priciest real estate in San Francisco. From her vantage point, Jillian figured the room sat on the sixth floor, or higher, and commanded a view of the grey slate tile roof of Grace Cathedral and Mt. Sutro off to the South. The condo, or whatever this place was, offered the resident one of those “ten-million-dollar views” everyone wanted, but few could afford. Jillian’s salary as a Vice President of Marketing for Dynalife Pharmaceutical wouldn’t buy the dust in a place like this.
Another wave of nausea buckled Jillian’s knees. She grabbed onto a dresser near the window and braced herself while the queasiness passed. As she opened her eyes, she focused on a silver-plated frame on the top of the dresser. Jillian peered at a photograph of her own image, a picture of her, with her boss, Jonathon Mattson, the CEO of Dynalife Pharmaceutical.

Confusion and panic clawed at Jillian’s mind. Mattson was thirty-five years her senior and married to one of the city’s society matrons. Jillian supposed some women found him attractive, with his swagger and the ease with which he flaunted his wealth. There were lines Jillian did not cross; never, ever, get involved with someone at work, and married men were off limits.

What was she doing here, naked in Mattson’s apartment? Had Jillian broken both rules? The thought of a relationship with Mattson was unthinkable. The photograph meant they’d been together before. The two looked at ease with one another in the photo, and it hinted at a close personal relationship, her hand on his chest. When the hell was that taken? She had no recollection of an evening with Jonathon Mattson, let alone posing for a photo.

“What have I done?”

Jillian staggered to the chair with her wadded-up clothes, slid into her panties, quickly stepped into her dark blue dress, shoved a bra in her purse, and grabbed her shoes from the floor. With an ear to the door, Jillian listened. Filtered by the thrum of her heartbeat, she heard voices deep within the apartment. She felt her face blush thinking about who she’d meet as she snuck out. Her hand trembled on the doorknob as she turned it, a fraction of an inch at a time until the lock slid back with a muted click. The door opened inward a few inches, the voices became more distinct–a television.

Shoes in hand, Jillian crept down the hallway. The hardwood floor felt cold under her bare feet as she made her way to the large open living space. A flat-screen television blared the financial news from CNN to an empty room. Jillian glanced at the kitchen, and she exhaled when she realized she was alone in the apartment. The veil of swirling bright spots in her vision started to clear, and she needed to head home for her migraine medication. She desperately wanted to leave before Jonathon Mattson returned. She couldn’t face him with the cocktail of anger and shame whirling inside her.

Slipping on her shoes, she listened as the CNN anchor, a carefully coifed and airbrushed young blonde reporter, delivered her monologue.

“The market opened with a quick rally this morning,” the anchorwoman said.

“Today’s Saturday and the market isn’t open, bimbo,” Jillian said. “Where do they find these people?” She found her jacket folded over the back of a sofa.

Jillian tucked the jacket under her arm, reached for the apartment door and stopped when she heard the woman’s voice drone on.

“In other financial news, the death of Dynalife Pharmaceutical CEO, Jonathon Mattson sent the mega-pharmaceutical company’s stock prices plummeting in early trading. Authorities are looking into the matter and haven’t disclosed any details about the death.”

Jillian froze when the screen flashed a photo of Mattson, with a banner under the image proclaiming, “Billionaire Pharmaceutical CEO Dead.”

The television news turned the page and droned on about other financial news. Mattson was a mere footnote in the market ledgers. Business goes on.

“That can’t be. Jonathon, dead?”

Another cramp of nausea hit her, and she wrapped her arms around her midsection as if she held her insides together. The apartment space closed in on her, and when the spasms subsided, Jillian darted for the door and flung it open. She ran across the hall to an elevator and stabbed the down button repeatedly, willing the car to appear. The hallway space was foreign; nothing in the décor sparked a memory of how she got here. But here she was, and it wasn’t like she magically appeared in Mattson’s apartment. Jillian didn’t know Jonathon kept an apartment on Knob Hill. It must have been a secret rendezvous pad for Jonathon and his rumored affairs. A wave of nausea swept over Jillian at the though she was now among his conquests.

The whir of the elevator stopped, and a light electronic bleep sounded the arrival of the conveyance. She slid into the empty elevator before the doors fully opened and punched the lobby button. The cool wall of the elevator car soothed the back of her head, the first comforting thing since awakening in this bad dream.

She couldn’t shake the nightmare off. Questions without answers cascaded through her mind. What happened? Where was she? Who was she with?

“Come on–come on,” she urged the doors as they closed at a slow agonizing pace.

“It’s not possible. Today is Saturday, and I saw Jonathon at a board meeting yesterday–Friday. It has to be a huge mistake.” She drew in a deep breath and tried to center herself.

The elevator chimed, and the doors opened into the building’s lobby. Jonathon wasn’t there to expose some elaborate practical joke. Instead, Jillian found the marble-tiled lobby empty, except for a doorman who gave her a smirk and a nod signaling, “I know what you did last night.” The man leered and stroked his short stubble beard as Jillian passed his station.

Jillian stepped outside to the curb and raised her hand for a taxi. She glanced at a newspaper rack on the sidewalk next to her, and the headline caught her breath short.

Billionaire Jonathon Mattson Murdered.

The date jumped off the page. It was the Monday edition.

Mattson was dead; she’d met with him on Friday and woke up in his apartment this morning. Jillian’s knees buckled with the realization that two days passed without a single lingering memory. Two days erased without a trace.

***

Excerpt from Black Label by James L’Etoile. Copyright 2021 by James L’Etoile. Reproduced with permission from James L’Etoile. All rights reserved.

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Author Bio:

James L'Etoile

James L’Etoile uses his twenty-nine years behind bars as an influence in his novels, short stories, and screenplays. He is a former associate warden in a maximum-security prison, a hostage negotiator, facility captain, and director of California’s state parole system. He is a nationally recognized expert witness on prison and jail operations. He has been nominated for the Silver Falchion for Best Procedural Mystery, and The Bill Crider Award for short fiction. His published novels include: At What Cost, Bury the Past, and Little River -The Other Side of Paradise.

Catch Up With James L’Etoile:
www.JamesLEtoile.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @jimletoile
Instagram – @AuthorJamesLEtoile
Twitter – @JamesLEtoile
Facebook – @james.letoile

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Tour Participants:

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

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Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for James L’Etoile. There will be Seven (7) winners for this tour. Two (2) winners will each receive a $20 Amazon.com gift card; Three (3) winners will each receive a $10 Amazon.com gift card; and Two (2) winners will each receive 1 signed print edition of At What Cost and Bury the Past by James L’Etoile. The giveaway begins on July 12 and runs through August 10, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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#CoverReveal “Guarding Temptation” by Talia Hibbert

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GUARDING TEMPTATION

BY TALIA HIBBERT

COVER REVEAL and celebratory 0.99 SALE!

GUARDING TEMPTATION is a quick and steamy, brother’s best friend, bodyguard romance.

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Blurb

Protective. Obsessive. And rough around the edges.

James Foster knows the rules: you don’t fall for your best friend’s little sister. Nina is too young, too reckless, and too busy saving the world to be tied down by the commitment he craves.

If he was smart, he’d stop wanting her. But she’s the one thing on earth James just can’t quit.

Fierce. Principled. And impossible to resist.

Political campaigner Nina Chapman is sick of one-time things. She wants forever, and she wants it with her brother’s best friend—but James still sees her as a child to be coddled.

So when a controversial article lands Nina in hot water, she finds herself under his protection and under his roof. It’s a shame James doesn’t want her in his bed, too.

…Or does he?

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GuardingTemptation_Teaser-2

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Excerpt

James was biting his lower lip in concentration as he strode—yes, strode, with impressive balance—onto the springy platform, his expression as suspicious as his steps were aggressive.

“I don’t think you can dominate the trampoline, James,” she called over the sound of her own tentative bounces.

He looked up at her, dark eyes gleaming as he arched a wicked eyebrow. “Can’t I?”

And God, that gravel voice and that solid jaw, and his shirt sleeves rolled up to expose those thick, tattooed forearms of his… She was dizzy. She was absolutely dizzy. She moved forward, everything about him hooking into her and dragging her closer. He was so goddamn sweet, this man, doing whatever it took to calm and entertain her. 

Maybe that was why he’d let them cross the line again, last night. Maybe he could tell she needed it. After all, James was protective enough to take his ‘look after Nina’ mission really, really far.

She should probably be upset by that idea—that they’d essentially had pity sex. Or therapy sex. Or something like that. But whenever she thought about it, all she could focus on was how horrifically hot he’d looked: sprawled naked on that sofa like a huge, lusty god. 

He was just as handsome now, too, even fully clothed. Watching her with a fading smile, awareness creeping into his gaze, resistance written in the curl of his fists and the regretful curve of his mouth.

Ah, that mouth. Gorgeous and infuriatingly responsible and so determined to reject her.

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GuardingTemptation_SaleGraphic.v2

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Get your copy now for 0.99!

Amazon US https://amzn.to/2yXbuj3

Amazon UK https://amzn.to/34uyh1m

Apple https://apple.co/2wzKrcE

Kobo https://bit.ly/GuardKobo

Nook https://bit.ly/GuardBN

Google https://bit.ly/GuardGoog

Read the first chapters https://wp.me/paMzJE-Dv

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ABOUT TALIA HIBBERT

Talia Hibbert is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author who lives in a bedroom full of books. Supposedly, there is a world beyond that room, but she has yet to drum up enough interest to investigate.

She writes steamy, diverse romance because she believes that people of marginalised identities need honest and positive representation. Her interests include makeup, junk food, and unnecessary sarcasm. Talia and her many books reside in the English Midlands.

 CONNECT WITH TALIA

AUTHOR SITE | FACEBOOKTWITTER | INSTAGRAM

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