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#BookReview “The Bellhop Only Stalks Once” by Cat Hickey

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An anonymous shrieking toddler and an annoying, overly attentive, flirtatious young bellhop not only interrupt a young woman’s morning yoga routine on the beach, but they’re just the beginning of the vacay-from-hell.

Chloe’s already on edge, proven when Cooper, the steadfast and dependable… and controlling and boring fiancé back home continues to intrude into her thoughts.

Determined to enjoy her Costa Rican getaway, Chloe pushes the negativity from her mind and goes on a guided tour of the island’s volcano trails a few hours away the next day.

However, during her outing, the pesky bellhop, Jaime, shows up again, waving his arms and calling her name. Perturbed, before Chloe can respond, Jaime disappears… without a trace. No one else saw Jaime. Not the park ranger or the resort employees escorting her, but they all discount anything serious happening to the errant bellhop.

Unable to shake her feelings of dread, especially after finding a pendant of Tlaloc—referred to by locals as the God of Death—on the spot where Jaime disappeared, Chloe’s fears are realized when other bellhops go missing from Club Pacifica and other surrounding resorts.

Before the mystery is solved, Chloe will make two new friends, confront a drug dealer, assault a chicken, take a mind-altering drug, become a prime suspect in the case, and develop feelings for one of the resort employees.

And Cooper shows up.

As Chloe plays private investigator, she’s also on a path to self-discovery. One she’s avoided for far too long… and may not live long enough to enjoy.

While I would have liked more details about Chloe’s backstory, her growth during the story made up for what I didn’t know. She’s surrounded by a great cast of characters who may or may not be worthy of her trust.

Despite the dark overtones of kidnapping, The Bellhop Only Stalks Once is a fun read. Well-written with a smooth pace, it was an easy one-sitting read as I needed to know “what happened next.” Mystery readers will enjoy Chloe’s journey.

Enjoy!

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Lies, secrets, and a sinister plot hide in broad daylight at the heart of the Club Pacifica.

A beautiful tropical resort, exciting new friends, and a handsome guest liaison – it’s the perfect getaway for Chloe, a free-spirited Baltimore girl just getting to know herself. But the vacation of a lifetime quickly takes a dark turn when a young, overly flirty bellhop starts following her everywhere. It gets even worse when he disappears, and Chloe is the sole witness.

As bellhop after bellhop goes missing, she struggles to figure out what’s happening. When suspicion falls upon her, Chloe must not only try to rescue the kidnapped bellhops, but also to clear her name.

Complicating things further is the relationship she forms with Mateo, Club Pacifica’s guest liaison. Charming and easygoing, he is everything that her fiancé at home is not, and she finds herself fighting a growing attraction to him. But can he be trusted?

She soon discovers that she’s landed herself in a world of secrets, and, worse, that these are not just those of others, but also the secrets she keeps from herself.

Can she find her way through all the lies to finally discover the truth before it’s too late?

Purchase Link – http://mybook.to/bellhop

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#CoverReveal “Edge of Tomorrow (Arrow’s Edge MC, #3)” by Freya Barker

Title:Edge Of Tomorrow (Arrow’s Edge MC, #3)
Author: Freya Barker
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: September 21, 2020
Photographer: KW Photography
Models: Darrin Dedmond & Baby John
Hosted by: Buoni Amici Press, LLC.

Solitude and motor oil meets soul food and wariness

I’m a grease-stained enigma.
A watcher, a protector, an ex-con, and a mechanic.
My name is Brick.
I’m old enough to know good things come to those who wait, and hungry enough to go after what I want.
I am a proud independent.

A nurturer, a cook, a casualty, and a grandparent.
My name is Lisa.
I’m cautious enough to keep my distance, and too wise to let a chance at love pass me by.
We seem unmatched—in race, in history, in lifestyle—but when tragedy leaves a baby in our care and a target on our backs, we discover the strength of family.

Unified.

Pre Order Your Copy Today!!

AMAZON

 

Tweet: Check Out The stunning Cover for The Latest Book In the Arrows Edge MC By @Freya_Barker HERE>> https://ctt.ec/swU9c+ #PreOrder @Amazon #KU https://ctt.ec/34yEW+ #BAPpr

 

USA Today bestselling author Freya Barker loves writing about ordinary people with extraordinary stories.
Driven to make her books about ‘real’ people; she creates characters who are perhaps less than perfect, each struggling to find their own slice of happy, but just as deserving of romance, thrills and chills in their lives.
Recipient of the ReadFREE.ly 2019 Best Book We’ve Read All Year Award for “Covering Ollie, the 2015 RomCon “Reader’s Choice” Award for Best First Book, “Slim To None”, and Finalist for the 2017 Kindle Book Award with “From Dust”, Freya continues to add to her rapidly growing collection of published novels as she spins story after story with an endless supply of bruised and dented characters, vying for attention!

Available in Kindle Unlimited

AMAZON

AMAZON

#GuestPost “Anarchy of the Mice” by Jeff Bond

Anarchy Of The Mice by Jeff Bond Banneron Tour July 1 – August 31, 2020

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Making an Audiobook

by Jeff Bond

Audiobooks are fantastic. They’re the fastest growing segment of the publishing industry, and they’re an absolute lifesaver for someone like me, who—between parenting and cooking and an aggressive writing schedule—doesn’t have time to read with his eyes. What I do have is a nice juicy forty-five minutes early each morning when I’m walking the dog, and audiobooks allow me to spend that time in Diane Gabaldon’s eighteenth-century Scotland, John Updike’s suburbia, or Tana French’s Dublin.

When I released my first book two years ago, I knew I wanted to produce an audiobook version. I had no clue how to go about it, but naturally everyone’s favorite ten-ton gorilla was there to help: Amazon. Amazon has an entire audiobook ecosystem—creation, distribution, marketing, etc.—called ACX, Audiobook Creation Exchange. The system works quite well despite some quirks, like a messaging system the narrators all say stinks and a rigid workflow sequence that blows up if you accidentally push a project to its next phase before it’s ready. Using ACX, you can create an audiobook without having a Rolodex of professional narrators or cold calling Scott Brick. (If you don’t know the name, you must not be an audiobook person.)

You begin the process by uploading a sample of your book and instructions for potential narrators. Male or female, smooth or forceful, accented or not—those types of things. Then ACX opens up an audition, and narrated audio clips of your sample start rolling in. I received dozens my first day and even more the second. Each one is thrilling, the chance at finding that perfect voice for your story. Most will have some disqualifying mark against them. A weird cadence, or wrong mood, or a voice that just doesn’t fit your concept of the protagonist. Some you’ll nod along to and think, “Yeah, that could be my book.” But these don’t last long because soon enough you’ll run into that reader who just nails it—in whose voice every line sounds like notes from a symphony. And you’ve got your narrator.

Okay, not really; that was the streamlined, romanticized version. Auditions are exhausting. Beyond the sheer number of clips you need to consider and polite emails you’ll need to write, there’s the mental toll of saying no to all these supremely talented people. Authors are fairly conditioned to the shoe being on the other foot. We’re the ones giving out samples, scrapping for a chance to show our stuff, hoping to be picked over all the other creators in the marketplace. I listened to voice authors who’d been public radio anchors, classically trained singers, who had IMDB bios five pages long. I struck up email conversations with a few, and heard that most ACX jobs are industrial voiceovers from overseas—dry commercial work. The narrators generally don’t even get a note acknowledging their audition clips, which surely take hours to produce. So many of them would’ve given me an excellent audiobook, but I could only say yes to two.

Two?

Among the decisions I had to make was whether to have a single narrator voice all chapters or have separate male and female voices. Because The Winner Maker, my first book, had two roughly equal protagonists, one male and one female, I decided to use separate. Beyond that, there was the decision to do the narration “duet style,” where the two actors can trade off within the same chapter, or stick to one voice per chapter. I chose the latter, which simplified things.

From there, my narrators took the manuscript and did their thing—reading ten hours of my debut novel. I then had to listen to every last second of it and jot edits along the way. This was fine-grained, tedious work, made more complicated by the fact that I did it using those aforementioned forty-five dog-walking minutes each morning. Imagine tapping out a note on your phone about stressing the second syllable of “Rivard” rather than the first while 120 pounds of shaggy Newfoundland dog lurches after a squirrel, and you’ll know my struggle. Hopefully my neighbors got a laugh or two out of it.

My narrators, Natalie Duke and Brandon Paul Eells, are extraordinarily professional and did a great job. I found only minor fixes, one or two per chapter. Some were personal preference, how to pronounce a particular name or street. Other times I started to correct a pronunciation only to Google it and find I’d been saying the word wrong in my head all along—my narrator had actually gotten it right.

For all this, it was truly wonderful hearing my story come to life as an audiobook. I recorded one for Blackquest 40 and The Pinebox Vendetta as well, and my two releases in June—Anarchy of the Mice and Dear Durwood—will also be audiobooks. Audible has a long quality-check process; I expect them to pop up in late July or early August. If you’re looking for an introduction to my stories, I’d highly recommend trying an audiobook. They were hard work, but the end result was a lot of fun.

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Synopsis:

Anarchy of the Mice by Jeff Bond From Jeff Bond, author of Blackquest 40 and The Pinebox Vendetta, comes Anarchy of the Mice, book one in an epic new series starring Quaid Rafferty, Durwood Oak Jones, and Molly McGill: the trio of freelance operatives known collectively as Third Chance Enterprises. How far could society fall without data? Account balances, property lines, government ID records — if it all vanished, if everyone’s scorecard reset to zero, how might the world look? The Blind Mice are going to show us. Molly McGill is fighting it. Her teenage son has come downstairs in a T-shirt from these “hacktivists” dominating the news. Her daughter’s bus is canceled — too many stoplights out — and school is in the opposite direction of the temp job she’s supposed to be starting this morning. She is twice-divorced; her P.I. business, McGill Investigators, is on the rocks; what kind of life is this for a woman a mere twelve credit-hours shy of her PhD? Then the doorbell rings. It’s Quaid Rafferty, the charming — but disgraced — former governor of Massachusetts, and his plainspoken partner, Durwood Oak Jones. The guys have an assignment for Molly. It sounds risky, but the pay sure beats switchboard work. They need her to infiltrate the Blind Mice. Danger, romance, intrigue, action for miles — whatever you read, Anarchy of the Mice is coming for you.

Book Details:

Genre: Action-Adventure

Published by: Jeff Bond books

Publication Date: June 15, 2020

Number of Pages: 445

ISBN: 173225527X (978-1732255272)

Series: Third Chance Enterprises, #1

Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

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Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE The first I ever heard of the Blind Mice was from my fourteen-year-old son, Zach. I was scrambling to get him and his sister ready for school, stepping over dolls and skater magazines, thinking ahead to the temp job I was starting in about an hour, when Zach came slumping downstairs in a suspiciously plain T-shirt. “Turn around,” I said. “Let’s see the back.” He scowled but did comply. The clothing check was mandatory after that vomiting-skull sweatshirt he’d slipped out the door in last month. Okay. No drugs, profanity, or bodily fluids being expelled. But there was something. An abstract computer-ish symbol. A mouse? Possibly the nose, eyes, and whiskers of a mouse? Printed underneath was, Nibble, nibble. Until the whole sick scam rots through. I checked the clock: 7:38. Seven minutes before we absolutely had to be out the door, and I still hadn’t cleaned up the grape juice spill, dealt with my Frizz City hair, or checked the furnace. For twenty minutes, I’d been hearing ker-klacks, which my heart said was construction outside but my head worried could be the failing heater. How bad did I want to let Zach’s shirt slide? Bad. “Is that supposed to be a mouse?” I said. “Like an angry mouse?” “The Blind Mice,” my son replied. “Maybe you’ve heard, they’re overthrowing the corporatocracy?” His eyes bulged teen sarcasm underneath those bangs he refuses to get cut. “Wait,” I said, “that group that’s attacking big companies’ websites and factories?” “Government too.” He drew his face back ominously. “Anyone who’s part of the scam.” “And you’re wearing their shirt?” He shrugged. I would’ve dearly loved to engage Zach in a serious discussion of socioeconomic justice—I did my master’s thesis on the psychology of labor devaluation in communities—except we needed to go. In five minutes. “What if Principal Broadhead sees that?” I said. “Go change.” “No.” “Zach McGill, that shirt promotes domestic terrorism. You’ll get kicked out of school.” “Like half my friends wear it, Mom.” He thrust his hands into his pockets. Ugh. I had stepped in parenting quicksand. I’d issued a rash order and Zach had refused, and now I could either make him change, starting a blow-out fight and virtually guaranteeing I’d be late my first day on the job at First Mutual, or back down and erode my authority. “Wear a jacket,” I said—a poor attempt to limit the erosion, but the best I could do. “And don’t let your great-grandmother see that shirt.” Speaking of, I could hear Granny’s slippers padding around upstairs. She was into her morning routine, and would shortly—at the denture-rinsing phase—be shouting down that her sink was draining slow again; why hadn’t the damn plumber come yet? Because I hadn’t paid one. McGill Investigators, the PI business of which I was the founder and sole employee (yes, I realized the plural name was misleading), had just gone belly-up. Hence the temp job. Karen, my six-year-old, was seated cheerily beside her doll in front of orange juice and an Eggo Waffle. “Mommy!” she announced. “I get to ride to school with you today!” The doll’s lips looked sticky—OJ?—and the cat was eyeing Karen’s waffle across the table. “Honey, weren’t you going to ride the bus today?” I asked, shooing the cat, wiping the doll with a dishrag. Karen shook her head. “Bus isn’t running. I get to ride in the Prius, in Mommy’s Prius!” I felt simultaneous joy that Karen loved our new car—well, new to us: 120K miles as a rental, but it was a hybrid—and despair because I really couldn’t take her. School was in the complete opposite direction of New Jersey Transit. Even if I took the turnpike, which I loathed, I would miss my train. Fighting to address Karen calmly in a time crunch, I said, “Are you sure the bus isn’t running?” She nodded. I asked how she knew. “Bus driver said, ‘If the stoplights are blinking again in the morning, I ain’t taking you.’” She walked to the window and pointed. “See?” I joined her at the window, ignoring the driver’s grammatical example for the moment. Up and down my street, traffic lights flashed yellow. “Blind Mice, playa!” Zach puffed his chest. “Nibble, nibble. The lights had gone out every morning this week at rush hour. On Monday, the news had reported a bald eagle flew into a substation. On Tuesday, they’d said the outages were lingering for unknown reasons. I hadn’t seen the news yesterday. Did Zach know the Blind Mice were involved? Or was he just being obnoxious? “Great,” I muttered. “Bus won’t run because stoplights are out, but I’m free to risk our lives driving to school.” Karen gazed up at me, her eyes green like mine and trembling. A mirror of my stress. Pull it together, Molly. “Don’t worry,” I corrected myself. “I’ll take you. I will. Let me just figure a few things out.” Trying not to visualize myself walking into First Mutual forty-five minutes late, I took a breath. I patted through my purse for keys, sifting through rumpled Kleenex and receipts and granola-bar halves. Granny had made her way downstairs and was reading aloud from a bill-collection notice. Zach was texting, undoubtedly to friends about his lame mom. I felt air on my toes and looked down: a hole in my hose. Fantastic. I’d picked out my cutest work sandals, but somehow I doubted the look would hold up with toes poking out like mini-wieners. I wished I could shut my eyes, whisper some spell, and wake up in a different universe. Then the doorbell rang. CHAPTER TWO Quaid Rafferty waited on the McGills’ front porch with a winning smile. It had been ten months since he’d seen Molly, and he was eager to reconnect. Inside, there sounded a crash (pulled-over coatrack?), a smack (skateboard hitting wall?), and muffled cross-voices. Quaid fixed the lay of his sport coat lapels and kept waiting. His partner, Durwood Oak Jones, stood two paces back with his dog. Durwood wasn’t saying anything, but Quaid could feel the West Virginian’s disapproval—it pulsed from his blue jeans and cowboy hat. Quaid twisted from the door. “School morning, right? I’m sure she’ll be out shortly.” Durwood remained silent. He was on record saying they’d be better off with a more accomplished operative like Kitty Ravensdale or Sigrada the Serpent, but Quaid believed in Molly. He’d argued that McGill, a relative amateur, was just what they needed: a fresh-faced idealist. Now he focused on the door—and was pleased to hear the dead bolt turn within. He was less pleased when he saw the face that appeared in the door glass. The grandmother. “Why, color me damned!” began the septuagenarian, yanking open the screen door. “The louse returns. Whorehouses all kick you out?” Quaid strained to keep smiling. “How are you this fine morning, Eunice?” Her face stormed over. “What’re you here for?” “We’re hoping for a word with Molly if she’s around.” He opened his shoulders to give her a full view of his party, which included Durwood and Sue-Ann, his aged bluetick coonhound. They made for an admittedly odd sight. Quaid and Durwood shared the same vital stats, six one and 180-something pounds, but God himself couldn’t have created two more different molds. Quaid in a sport coat with suntanned wrists and mussed-just-so blond hair. Durwood removing his hat and casting steel-colored eyes humbly about, jeans pulled down over his boots’ piping. And Sue with her mottled coat, rasping like any breath could be her last. Eunice stabbed a finger toward Durwood. “He can come in—him I respect. But you need to turn right around. My granddaughter wants nothing to do with cads like you.” Behind her, a voice called, “Granny, I can handle this. Eunice ignored this. “You’re a no-good man. I know it, my granddaughter knows it.” Veins showed through the chicken-y skin of her neck. “Go on, hop a flight back to Vegas and all your whores!” Before Quaid could counter these aspersions, Molly appeared. His heart chirped in his chest. Molly was a little discombobulated, bending to put on a sandal, a kid’s jacket tucked under one elbow—but those dimples, that curvy body…even in the worst domestic throes, she could’ve charmed slime off a senator. He said, “Can’t you beat a seventy-four-year-old woman to the door?” Molly slipped on the second sandal. “Can we please just not? It’s been a crazy morning.” “I know the type.” Quaid smacked his hands together. “So hey, we have a job for you.” “You’re a little late—McGill Investigators went out of business. I have a real job starting in less than an hour.” “What kind?” “Reception,” she said. “Three months with First Mutual.” “Temp work?” Quaid asked. “I was supposed to start with the board of psychological examiners, but the position fell through.” “How come?” “Funding ran out. The governor disbanded the board.” “So First Mutual…?” Molly’s eyes, big and leprechaun green, fell. “It’s temp work, yeah.” “You’re criminally overqualified for that, McGill,” Quaid said. “Hear us out. Please.” She snapped her arms over her chest but didn’t stop Quaid as he breezed into the living room followed by Durwood and Sue-Ann, who wore no leash but kept a perfect twenty-inch heel by her master. Two kids poked their heads around the kitchen doorframe. Quaid waggled his fingers playfully at the girl. Molly said, “Zach, Karen—please wait upstairs. I’m speaking with these men.” The boy argued he should be able to stay; upstairs sucked; wasn’t she the one who said they had to leave, like, immedia— “This is not a negotiation,” Molly said in a new tone. They went upstairs. She sighed. “Now they’ll be late for school. I’m officially the worst mother ever.” Quaid glanced around the living room. The floor was clutter free, but toys jammed the shelves of the coffee table. Stray fibers stuck up from the carpet, which had faded beige from its original yellow or ivory. “No, you’re an excellent mother,” Quaid said. “You do what you believe is best for your children, which is why you’re going to accept our proposition.” The most effective means of winning a person over, Quaid had learned as governor of Massachusetts and in prior political capacities, was to identify their objective and articulate how your proposal brought it closer. Part two was always trickier. He continued, “American Dynamics is the client, and they have deep pockets. If you help us pull this off, all your money troubles go poof.” A glint pierced Molly’s skepticism. “Okay. I’m listening.” “You’ve heard of the Blind Mice, these anarchist hackers?” “I—well, yes, a little. Zach has their T-shirt.” Quaid, having met the boy on a few occasions, wasn’t shocked by the information. “Here’s the deal. We need someone to infiltrate them.” Molly blinked twice. Durwood spoke up, “You’d be great, Moll. You’re young. Personable. People trust you.” Molly’s eyes were grapefruits. “What did you call them, ‘anarchist hackers’? How would I infiltrate them? I just started paying bills online.” “No tech knowledge required,” Quaid said. “We have a plan.” He gave her the nickel summary. The Blind Mice had singled out twelve corporate targets, “the Despicable Dozen,” and American Dynamics topped the list. In recent months, AmDye had seen its websites crashed, its factories slowed by computer glitches, internal documents leaked, the CEO’s home egged repeatedly. Government agencies from the FBI to NYPD were pursuing the Mice, but the company was troubled by the lack of progress and so had hired Third Chance Enterprises to take them down. “Now if I accept,” Molly said, narrowing her eyes, “does that mean I’m officially part of Third Chance Enterprises?” Quaid exhaled at length. Durwood shook his head with an irked air—he hated the name, and considered Quaid’s branding efforts foolish. “Oh, Durwood and I have been at this freelance operative thing awhile.” Quaid smoothed his sport coat lapels. “Most cases we can handle between the two of us.” “But not this one.” “Right. Durwood’s a whiz with prosthetics, but even he can’t bring this”—Quaid indicated his own ruggedly handsome but undeniably middle-aged face—“back to twenty-five.” Molly’s eyes turned inward. Quaid’s instincts told him she was thinking of her children. She said, “Sounds dangerous.” “Nah.” He spread his arms, wide and forthright. “You’re working with the best here: the top small-force, private-arms outfit in the Western world. Very minimal danger.” Like the politician he’d once been, Quaid delivered this line of questionable veracity with full sincerity. Then he turned to his partner. “Right, Wood? She won’t have a thing to worry about. We’d limit her involvement to safe situations.” Durwood thinned his lips. “Do the best we could.” This response, typical of the soldier he’d once been, was unhelpful. Molly said, “Who takes care of my kids if something happens, if the Blind Mice sniff me out? Would I have to commit actual crimes?” “Unlikely.” Unlikely? I’ll tell you what’s unlikely, getting hired someplace, anyplace, with a felony conviction on your application…” As she thundered away, Quaid wondered if Durwood might not have been right in preferring a pro. The few times they’d used Molly McGill before had been secondary: posing as a gate agent during the foiled Delta hijacking, later as an archivist for the American embassy in Rome. They’d only pulled her into Rome because of her language skills—she spoke six fluently. “…also, I have to say,” she continued, and from the edge in her voice, Quaid knew just where they were headed, “I find it curious that I don’t hear from you for ten months, and then you need my help, and all of a sudden, I matter. All of a sudden, you’re on my doorstep.” “I apologize,” Quaid said. “The Dubai job ran long, then that Guadeloupean resort got hit by a second hurricane. We got busy. I should’ve called.” Molly’s face cooled a shade, and Quaid saw that he hadn’t lost her. Yet. Before either could say more, a heavy ker-klack sounded outside. “What’s the racket?” Quaid asked. He peeked out the window at his and Durwood’s Vanagon, which looked no more beat-up than usual. “It’s been going on all morning,” Molly said. “I figured it was construction.” Quaid said, “Construction in this economy?” He looked to Durwood. “I’ll check ’er out.” The ex-soldier turned for the door. Sue-Ann, heaving herself laboriously off the carpet, scuffled after. Alone now with Molly, Quaid walked several paces in. He doubled his sport coat over his forearm and passed a hand through his hair, using a foyer mirror to confirm the curlicues that graced his temples on his best days. This was where it had to happen. Quaid’s behavior toward Molly had been less than gallant, and that was an issue. Still, there were sound arguments at his disposal. He could play the money angle. He could talk about making the world safer for Molly’s children. He could point out that she was meant for greater things, appealing to her sense of adventure, framing the job as an escape from the hamster wheel and entrée to a bright world of heroes and villains. He believed in the job. Now he just needed her to believe too. CHAPTER THREE Durwood walked north. Sue-Ann gimped along after, favoring her bum hip. Paws echoed bootheels like sparrows answering blackbirds. They found their noise at the sixth house on the left. A crew of three men was working outside a small home. Two-story like Molly’s. The owner had tacked an addition onto one side, prefab sunroom. The men were working where the sunroom met the main structure. Dislodging nails, jackhammering between fiberglass and brick. Tossing panels onto a stack. “Pardon,” Durwood called. “Who you boys working for?” One man pointed to his earmuffs. The others paid Durwood no mind whatsoever. Heavyset men. Big stomachs and muscles. Durwood walked closer. “Those corner boards’re getting beat up. Y’all got a permit I could see?” The three continued to ignore him. The addition was poorly done to begin with, the cornice already sagging. Shoddy craftsmanship. That didn’t mean the owners deserved to have it stolen for scrap. The jackhammer was plugged into an outside GFI. Durwood caught its cord with his bootheel. “The hell?” said the operator as his juice cut. Durwood said, “You’re thieves. You’re stealing fiberglass.” The men denied nothing. One said, “Call the cops. See if they come.” Sue-Ann bared her gums. Durwood said, “I don’t believe we need to involve law enforcement,” and turned back south for the Vanagon. Crime like this—callous, brash—was a sign of the times.  People were sore about this “new economy,” how well the rich were making out. Groups like the Blind Mice thought it gave them a right to practice lawlessness.   Lawlessness, Durwood knew, was like a plague. Left unchecked, it spread. Even now, besides this sunroom dismantling, Durwood saw a half dozen offenses in plain sight. Low-stakes gambling on a porch. Coaxials looped across half the neighborhood roofs: cable splicing. A Rottweiler roaming off leash. Each stuck in Durwood’s craw. He walked a half block to the Vanagon. He hunted around inside, boots clattering the bare metal floor. Pushed aside Stinger missiles in titanium casings. Squinted past crates of frag grenades in the bulkhead he’d jiggered himself from ponderosa pine. Here she was—a pressurized tin of black ops epoxy. Set quick enough to repel a flash air strike, strong enough to hold a bridge. Durwood had purchased it for the Dubai job. According to his supplier, Yakov, the stuff smelled like cinnamon when it dried. Something to do with chemistry. Durwood removed the tin from its box and brushed off the pink Styrofoam packing Yakov favored. Then allowed Sue a moment to ease herself down to the curb before they started back north. Passing Molly’s house, Durwood glimpsed her through the living room window. She was listening to Quaid, fingers pressed to her forehead. Quaid was lying. Which was nothing new, Quaid stretching the truth to a woman. But these lies involved Molly’s safety. Fact was, they knew very little of the Blind Mice. Their capabilities, their willingness to harm innocents. The leader, Josiah, was a reckless troublemaker. He spewed his nonsense on Twitter, announcing targets ahead of time, talking about his own penis. The heavyset men were back at it. One on the roof. The other two around back of the sunroom, digging up the slab. Durwood set down the epoxy. The men glanced over but kept jackhammering. They would not be the first, nor last, to underestimate this son of an Appalachian coal miner. The air compressor was set up on the lawn. Durwood found the main pressure valve and cranked its throat full open. The man on the roof had his ratchet come roaring out of his hands. He slid down the grade, nose rubbing vinyl shingles, and landed in petunias. Back on his feet, the man swore. “Mind your language,” Durwood said. “There’s families in the neighborhood.” The other two hustled over, shovels at their shoulders. The widest of the three circled to Durwood’s backside. Sue-Ann coiled her old bones to strike. Ugliness roiled Durwood’s gut. Big Man punched first. Durwood caught his fist, torqued his arm behind his back. The next man swung his shovel. Durwood charged underneath and speared his chest. The man wheezed sharply, his lung likely punctured. The third man got hold of Durwood’s bootheel, smashed his elbow into the hollow of Durwood’s knee. Durwood scissored the opposite leg across the man’s throat. He gritted his teeth and clenched. He felt the man’s Adam’s apple wriggling between his legs. A black core in Durwood yearned to squeeze. He resisted. The hostiles came again, and Durwood whipped them again. Automatically, in a series of beats as natural to him as chirping to a katydid. The men’s faces changed from angry to scared to incredulous. Finally, they stayed down. “Now y’all are helping fix that sunroom.” Durwood nodded to the epoxy tin. “Mix six to one, then paste ’er on quick.” Luckily, he’d caught the thieves early, and the repair was uncomplicated. Clamp, glue, drill. The epoxy should increase the R-value on the sunroom ten, fifteen, units. Good for a few bucks off the gas bill in winter, anyhow. Durwood did much of the work himself. He enjoyed the panels’ weight, the strength of a well-formed joint. His muscles felt free and easy as if he were home ridding the sorghum fields of johnsongrass. Done, he let the thieves go. He turned back south toward Molly’s house. Sue-Ann scrabbled alongside. “Well, ole girl?” he said. “Let’s see how Quaid made out.” CHAPTER FOUR I stood on my front porch watching the Vanagon rumble down Sycamore. My toes tingled, my heart was tossing itself against the walls of my chest, and I was pretty sure my nose had gone berserk. How else could I be smelling cinnamon? Quaid Rafferty’s last words played over and over in my head: We need you. For twenty minutes, after Durwood had taken his dog to investigate ker-klacks, Quaid had given me the hard sell. The money would be big-time. I had the perfect skills for the assignment: guts, grace under fire, that youthful je ne sais quoi. Wasn’t I always saying I ought to be putting my psychology skills to better use? Well, here it was: understanding these young people’s outrage would be a major component of the job. Some people will anticipate your words and mumble along. Quaid did something similar but with feelings, cringing at my credit issues, brightening with whole-face joy at Karen’s reading progress—which I was afraid would suffer if I got busy and didn’t keep up her nightly practice. He was pitching me, yes. But he genuinely cared what was happening in my life. I didn’t know how to think about Quaid, how to even fix him in my brain. He and Durwood were so far outside any normal frame of reference. Were they even real? Did I imagine them? Their biographies were epic. Quaid the twice-elected (once-impeached) governor of Massachusetts who now battled villains across the globe and lived at Caesars Palace. Durwood a legend of the Marine Corps, discharged after defying his commanding officer and wiping out an entire Qaeda cell to avenge the death of his wife. I’d met them during my own unreal adventure—the end of my second marriage, which had unraveled in tragedy in the backwoods of West Virginia. They’d recruited me for three missions since. Each was like a huge, brilliant dream—the kind that’s so vital and packed with life that you hang on after you wake up, clutching backward into sleep to stay inside. Granny said, “That man’s trouble. If you have any sense in that stubborn head of yours, you’ll steer clear.” I stepped back into the living room, the Vanagon long gone, and allowed my eyes to close. Granny didn’t know the half of it. She had huffed off to watch her judge shows on TV before the guys had even mentioned the Blind Mice. No, she meant a more conventional trouble. “I’ve learned,” I said. “If I take this job, it won’t be for romance. I’d be doing it for me. For the family.” As if cued by the word “family,” a peal of laughter sounded upstairs. Children! My eyes zoomed to the clock. It was 8:20. Zach would be lucky to make first hour, let alone homeroom. In a single swipe, I scooped up the Prius keys and both jackets. My purse whorled off my shoulder like some supermom prop. “Leaving now!” I called up the stairwell. “Here we go, kids—laces tied, backpacks zipped.” Zach trudged down, leaning his weight into the rail. Karen followed with sunny-careful steps. I sped through the last items on my list—tossed a towel over the grape juice, sloshed water onto the roast, considered my appearance in the microwave door, and just frowned, beyond caring. Halfway across the porch, Granny’s fingers closed around my wrist. “Promise me,” she said, “that you will not associate with Quaid Rafferty. Promise me you won’t have one single thing to do with that lowlife.” I looked past her to the kitchen, where the cat was kinking herself to retch Eggo Waffle onto the linoleum. “I’m sorry, Granny.” I patted her hand, freeing myself. “It’s something I have to do.” *** Excerpt from Anarchy of the Mice by Jeff Bond. Copyright 2020 by Jeff Bond. Reproduced with permission from Jeff Bond. All rights reserved.

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Author Bio:

Jeff Bond Jeff Bond is an American author of popular fiction. His books have been featured in The New York Review of Books, and his 2020 release, The Pinebox Vendetta, received the gold medal (top prize) in the 2020 Independent Publisher Book Awards. A Kansas native and Yale graduate, he now lives in Michigan with his wife and two daughters.

Catch Up With Jeff Bond On: JeffBondBooks.com BookBub Goodreads Instagram Twitter Facebook!

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Tour Participants:

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#BlogTour “The Bellhop Only Stalks Once” by Cat Hickey

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Lies, secrets, and a sinister plot hide in broad daylight at the heart of the Club Pacifica.

A beautiful tropical resort, exciting new friends, and a handsome guest liaison – it’s the perfect getaway for Chloe, a free-spirited Baltimore girl just getting to know herself. But the vacation of a lifetime quickly takes a dark turn when a young, overly flirty bellhop starts following her everywhere. It gets even worse when he disappears, and Chloe is the sole witness.

As bellhop after bellhop goes missing, she struggles to figure out what’s happening. When suspicion falls upon her, Chloe must not only try to rescue the kidnapped bellhops, but also to clear her name.

Complicating things further is the relationship she forms with Mateo, Club Pacifica’s guest liaison. Charming and easygoing, he is everything that her fiancé at home is not, and she finds herself fighting a growing attraction to him. But can he be trusted?

She soon discovers that she’s landed herself in a world of secrets, and, worse, that these are not just those of others, but also the secrets she keeps from herself.

Can she find her way through all the lies to finally discover the truth before it’s too late?

Purchase Link – http://mybook.to/bellhop

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Author BioCat Hickey

Cat Hickey has a Master’s degree in Biology, and teaches Anatomy and Physiology at a university in Baltimore, MD, USA. She writes light-hearted mysteries and thrillers that are based, partly, on her extensive travels around the world. She is also an avid yogi who teaches aerial yoga and practices aerial circus arts, and spends the rest of her time with her four rescue animals, which consist of three cats and a horse.

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#BookTour “Zone of Action” by Cathy Skendrovich

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Romantic Suspense

Date Published: 7/27/2020

Publisher: Entangled Publishing

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 Former terror cell expert Audrey Jenkins has seen enough death and destruction to last a lifetime. When she uncovers her ex, Brett, a
higher-ranking officer in her unit, selling military secrets, she turns him in and returns to the simpler life she has embraced since leaving the army.
CID Special Agent Cam Harris is a career military man with a strong sense of duty. When a military prisoner who once saved his life in Afghanistan escapes while in his custody, he requests the assignment to track him down.
Cam’s manhunt leads him to Audrey’s door. His prisoner—her
ex—will resurface here, he’s sure of it. The feisty woman wants
nothing to do with hunting down her ex, but when a terror cell she’s
all-too-familiar with launches a deadly attack on army intelligence soldiers
and officers, she knows it’s Brett. Helping Cam is the right thing to
do. But the attraction burning between them may be the mistake that gets her
and Cam killed…

Purchase Links

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EXCERPT

Her tears had stopped. She should release him. But a new storm threatened. She hadn’t been with a man since Brett, hadn’t trusted her choices in companions.

Brett’s defection, and subsequent courtroom nastiness, had cautioned her into remaining celibate. He’d been so far from what she’d imagined, she’d decided to swear off men. That had been easy until Cameron appeared on her horizon.

His hot body in a uniform plus overall good looks had snared her attention at the court martial, as well as Elena’s. They’d salivated over him at the time, and then moved on. They’d returned to work, and she’d begun to pick up the pieces after Brett. She didn’t need a man to be fulfilled. Or so she thought. By the way she was reacting to Cam now, she realized her attraction from back then had only lain dormant. His kindness, gentleness, and quiet strength had awakened her desires. God, she felt protected in his embrace. Protected and aroused.

The arousal part scared her. Here she was, finding another soldier wildly attractive. If she was smart, she’d push him away, thank him for his kindness, and call it a night. He wouldn’t insist. He’d already proven he was a gentleman. He was nothing like Brett.

Since she’d met him a few days ago, he’d been only professional and understanding, quietly strong and reliable through the home invasion, the fire, and now their flight into the wilderness. He’d never come on to her, had simply offered opinions while listening to her explanations. She had no idea whether he looked at her that way or not. He’d make a significant poker player, with no hint of what he was thinking visible to another person. Perhaps that was why she was getting more turned on as the seconds ticked by. She’d love to see him lose control.

Brett never had. He’d always been in full control in the bedroom, as well as in the war room. His orgasms had been quiet, disciplined releases, and she’d stifled her screams to match his restraint. She had no idea whether Cam would be the same. Maybe she was destined to only be attracted to cold fish.

She pressed closer to him and felt his arousal between them. So, not a cold fish. She raised her head and opened her eyes. His dark brown ones stared back at her, a glint of confused desire in their depths.

“What the hell are you doing, Audrey?” His voice was hoarse, questioning. He stepped back, arms dropping to his sides. And ran a hand over his face. She took a step forward. Their chests touched. His gaze never left hers. “What are you doing?”

Her heart skipped a beat. It had been a long, long time since she’d acted on a sexual attraction. Part of her wanted to turn tail and run to her room. It wasn’t too late. She could still keep face. A larger part of her wanted to remove Brett’s final hold on her. She didn’t want her last lover to be a traitor. She met his look head on.

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About the Author

Cathy Skendrovich has always loved a good story, and spent her formative
years scribbling what is now called Fan Fiction. The current heartthrob of
the time featured heavily in all her stories. Unfortunately, once she went
to college, her writing took the form of term papers, written on typewriters
instead of computer keyboards.

Upon graduation, Cathy took a job as an English teacher in a middle school.
Along the way, she married her husband of thirty-six years, and had two
sons. Now an empty nester, she and her husband have embarked on their own
adventure, moving to Idaho to live overlooking a pond.

Romantic suspense has always been her favorite genre to read and write,
though she has dabbled in historical romance. Creating an unpredictable
storyline is her goal, and she hopes she has done so in her current and
previous books. Prisoner of Love is her first published novel, followed
closely by The Pirate’s Bride, The Pirate Bride’s Holiday Masquerade,
and Undercover with the Nanny. Zone of Action is her fifth book, and her
first military suspense. For research, she asks her son in Army Intelligence
for up to the minute information. Lately, he’s stopped taking her
calls.

 

Contact Links

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#ReleaseBlitz “Impromptu Seduction” by Stephanie Nicole Norris

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IMPROMPTU SEDUCTION

BY STEPHANIE NICOLE NORRIS

Raised as a debutante, ladylike, and reserved, London Jones has stepped into unknown territory. From the moment her life collided with a man who should’ve been off-limits, a bachelor with a hot reputation—staying out of his way was the sensible thing to do. However, she finds herself caught in a tangled web of passionate fervor whenever he comes near. So much so that her ability to place a barrier between them becomes a futile battle. The heart wants what it wants, and London’s heart yearns for him.

Borboleta…

She was the impetus of his desire. The only one who captured his eye for more than a moment and beckoned his soul to blend in beautiful bliss with hers. For software engineer Kyle Valentine, his attempt to hold back the hedonism that struck whenever they were together threatened to be his undoing. His heart yearned to connect with London’s soul, and soon he finds himself questioning if he’s worthy of her love. But now that he’s gotten next to London, determination becomes the motto for his pursuit and his ultimate will to hold on to her, forever.

NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!

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ABOUT STEPHANIE NICOLE NORRIS

Stephanie Nicole Norris is an author from Chattanooga, Tennessee, with a humble beginning. After becoming a young adult, her love for romance sparked, leaving her captivated by heroes and heroines alike. With a big imagination and a creative heart, Stephanie penned her first novel in 2012. She went on to write grin-inducing romance and has been nominated multiple times, receiving three literary awards for Best Series, Best Book Cover, and Author of the Year. As a prolific writer, Stephanie’s catalog continues to grow. Her books can be found on Amazon as well as http://www.stephanienicolenorris.com.

“Posh Frocks & Peacocks” is ** LIVE **

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** Now Live **

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Posh Frocks & Peacocks,

the third and final part of Lizzie’s humorous journey,

by Tracie Podger

*Blurb*

What better to accompany Colleen the Llama, Gerald the goat, and Piggy the pig with rickets than two rescue peacocks?

In true Lizzie and Ronan style, however, these aren’t just any old peacocks.

Life for Lizzie and Ronan has been hectic. With a thriving holiday destination set up in the castle grounds, the naked artists still…naked, and the use of the castle as a film location, it’s time to plan the next development in their relationship.

However, a promise to an elderly neighbour means the introduction of two new pets to the menagerie of misfits that free roam the estate causing all sorts of trouble.

With a wedding in the planning, the prospect of swingers meeting naturists for the first time, Lizzie and Ronan have their work cut out for them!

But will it all go to plan?

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#OneClick: mybook.to/PFP

Haven’t read Lizzie’s story yet?

Start with Limp Dicks & Saggy Tits: mybook.to/LDST

#RomCom #Romance #TraciePodger #MustRead #Humorous

#FollowLizzieOnHerJourneyOfSelfDiscovery

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Song Lyric Sunday | “Harvest for the World” – Vanessa Williams

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Song Lyric Sunday was created by Helen Vahdati from This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time and author Jim Adams from A Unique Title For Me is our current guest host. For complete rules or to join in the fun, click here.

This week’s theme is  Acquire/Collect/Gather/Secure.

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While I usually have more than a few options for SLS posts, Harvest for the World was my first and only choice for this week’s prompt.

However, I chose the cover by Vanessa Williams from her 2005 album, Everlasting Love, instead of the original by the Isley Brothers from their 1976 album of the same name.

The original version helped spur the album on to half a million copies sold in less than three weeks, making it one of the fastest selling albums in history. I prefer Vanessa’s more contemporary upbeat version… and I love her voice!

Sadly, the socially conscious song is still as relevant today as it was almost fifty years ago. The planet is a mess. Everyone is hurting and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Now, more than ever, we need a Harvest for the World.

FUN FACTS:

  • Released in May of 1976, Harvest for the World was the fourteenth studio album for the Isley Brothers.
  • Not released as a single, Vanessa’s cover still receives airplay on satellite radio.
  • Except for the final track, Everlasting Love was a compilation of covers of popular soul songs from the 70s.

Two of the original members of the Isley Brothers Trio, Ronald – 79, and Rudolph – 81, survive and live is St Louis, Missouri and Chicago, Illinois, respectively. Eldest brother, O’Kelly, suffered a fatal heart attack in 1986 at the age of 48.

57-year-old Williams lives with her third husband, businessman Jim Skrip, in Chappaqua, New York.

Enjoy!

See my Song Lyric Sunday selection for FeliciaDenise.com.

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Disclaimer: I have no copyrights to the song and/or video and/or hyperlinks to songs and/or videos and/or gifs above. No copyright infringement intended.

Harvest for the World

Compiled from Genius Lyrics, Google, Wikipedia, Songfacts.com, and YouTube.
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My "bump" was in 2016, aged 48, when I suffered a stroke. This blog charts my recovery. (Header clipart licensed by pngguru.com.)

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Books served with a generous slice of cake.

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We celebrate being over 50!

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