Feed Your Reader! #FREE or #99c Books!

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Stuck inside? Need a good book to read? You’ve come to the right place!

GoddessFish Promotions has organized the Feed Your Reader event featuring some great authors and their books that are #99c or #FREE!

Find your next great read or fill your reader! Books are separated by genre for easy browsing, and there’s even a Rafflecopter and a chance to win a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble GC!

This event runs through April 3rd, but why wait?  Start feeding your reader today!

Contemporary Romance (erotic and non-erotic)

Historical Romance (erotic and non-erotic)

Science Fiction or Fantasy Romance (erotic and non-erotic)

Romantic Suspense (erotic and non-erotic)

LGBTQ Romance (erotic and non-erotic)

Women’s Fiction / Chick Lit

Non-Romance Mystery/Suspense/Thriller/Horror

Non-Romance Historical Fiction

Non-Romance Science Fiction or Fantasy

Literary Fiction / Contemporary Mainstream Fiction



~ R A F F L E C O P T E R ~



#AudioTour “Donn’s Hill: The Soul Searchers Mysteries Book 1” by Caryn Larrinaga

Audiobook Series Blog Tour: The Soul Searchers Mysteries by Caryn Larrinaga

Author: Caryn Larrinaga

Narrator: Jessica McEvoy

Length: 9 hours 54 minutes

Series: The Soul Searchers Mysteries, Book 1

Released: Aug. 1, 2017

Publisher: Twisted Tree Press

Genre: Supernatural Cozy Mystery

“Grief can change us… rewire our brains and shift the way we look at the world…”

After returning home from her father’s funeral to find her boyfriend in bed with another woman, Mackenzie Clair is looking for a fresh start. She thinks she’ll find it in her favorite childhood vacation spot, but returning to Donn’s Hill awakens more than nostalgia. Mac regains a lost psychic ability to talk to the dead, and the poltergeist haunting her apartment is desperate to make her use that gift to find his killer.

Aided by her new roommate – a spirited Tortoiseshell cat named Striker, and the ghost-hunting crew of the nationally televised show Soul Searchers, Mac struggles to learn how to use her powers. But she’d better get a handle on them fast, because someone in town is hiding a deadly secret. If Mac can’t somehow divine the truth, Donn’s Hill will never be the same.

Buy on Audible

Caryn Larrinaga is a self-described horror evangelist and paranormal junkie. Her debut supernatural mystery novel, DONN’S HILL, won the League of Utah Writers 2017 Silver Quill Award in the adult novel category and was a 2017 Dragon Award finalist. Her short fiction has won multiple honors and been featured in local and international anthologies. Watching scary movies through split fingers terrified Caryn as a child, and those nightmares inspire her to write now. She lives near Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and their clowder of cats. Visit http://www.carynlarrinaga.com for free short stories and audiobooks.


Narrator Bio

Between peddling video games and teaching yoga in her home state of Arizona, Jessica McEvoy attempts to conduct a career as a professional voice actress. This, however, is moderately undermined by the fact that she records in a dimly lit closet with her microphone balanced on a stack of old board games (Junior Scrabble and Powerpuff Girls Monopoly form a strong foundation), but she hopes that no one holds that against her.

Though her main work consists of narrating audiobooks, her first dive into the voice world was through the NoSleep podcast after answering a post from the LibriVox forums. Having been raised on horror movies and scary stories, she was beyond excited to be able to work on the show. Many stories, tortured screams, deranged villains, and creepy little girl giggles later, Jessica hopes to work on the podcast for seasons and seasons to come.


Q&A with Author Caryn Larrinaga
  • Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
    • I had so much fun working with Jessica as she adapted both of these novels into audiobooks! Luckily, I had already worked with her on a smaller project before, and I knew she would be the perfect Mackenzie from her reading of my novelette Hide and Seek and her amazing work on the NoSleep Podcast, so we skipped the audition part of the process. Once each of the novels were ready, I sent them to her to read and crossed my fingers she’d like them enough to want to perform them. (When looking for a great narrator like Jessica, there’s definitely a “She said YES!!” moment that involves much shrieking and jumping up and down.) We decided on a reasonable production schedule, then she started recording chapters and uploading them for me to approve. I love that I get to listen to it as she’s working, so we can make sure we’re both on the same page about personalities, accents, and cat-related awesomeness. Then we get to celebrate together once the book is finally live on Audible and iTunes, which is always super exciting!
    • My favorite unexpected bonus about this process is that it happens while I’m working on the next book in the series, so I’m listening to my characters “talk” to me through Jessica’s performance, and that actually has a huge impact on my writing. Listening to her narrate Donn’s Shadow definitely helped me overcome a bit of writer’s block with the third book, and I’m so grateful!
  • How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
    • Jessica made it really easy to work very closely with her. She requested a pronunciation guide, and since even my own name can be tricky for some people, I sent over an audio recording of me saying the different character names and any other oddball words. For the first book, I even sent her an audio clip of me making Striker’s trademark “Brrrllll,” since that was based on the real Striker’s habit of trilling at us instead of meowing. 🙂
    • Every once in a while, while listening to a chapter, I’d hear Jessica pronounce a word differently than I do (like “ylang ylang”). Before reaching out to ask her to change it, I’d look it up online… and pretty much every time, I’d learn that I’ve been saying something wrong for literally YEARS! So that’s another nice little bonus of working with a good narrator, haha.
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • Absolutely! Mackenzie’s first encounter with a ghost is based on a friend of mine, who mentioned (far too casually for something this spooky) that ghosts who are “just passing through” will sometimes sit for a spell at the edge of her bed. In the night. In the dark. It doesn’t bother my friend, but it bothered the heck out of me, so I had to go home and start writing a story about it.
    • Mac’s additional encounters with poltergeists and other paranormal entities were also based on a few real-life events, like an experience my mother had with some kitchen chairs that moved on their own (six of them, all at the same time).
    • I get freaked out pretty easily and I like to let myself lean into those fears and write them down, especially when they take me to weird or scary places in my mind. But in real life, I’m a huge scaredy cat. Let’s just say Mackenzie is much, much braver than I am!
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    • Wow, is this something people say? Everyone starts out listening to stories before reading them. If there’s someone out there shaming audiobook listeners, the first thing I’d say is, “Stop it.” Because if they don’t like it, that’s fine, but there’s no wrong way to enjoy a good story. It’s like how everyone has their own learning style; we all have our own leisure style, too. Don’t be ashamed if you prefer one format over another. Whether you prefer to experience good stories via ebooks, paperbacks, books, movies, games, or whatever… just enjoy it! And then do all the content creators a favor and leave reviews. 🙂
  • Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams?
    • Striker visits me in my dreams all the time, which I’m sure is because I miss her. Not long after she passed away, we fostered and adopted some special-needs kitties, one of whom passed away after only a couple of years with us. The pair of them show up in my dreams together, always snuggling and cleaning each other.
    • None of my other named characters have really shown up in my dreams. But many of the monsters I write about definitely appeared in my nightmares before making it onto the page, like the monsters in the corners of the ceiling that I wrote into my story “Watchers’ Warning.”
  • How do you select the names of your characters?
    • I put a lot of thought into naming my characters, especially for Donn’s Hill and Donn’s Shadow. Mackenzie is named after my favorite character on a TV show called “The Newsroom,” and I thought that if I was the kind of person who wanted kids (I am not), I’d name a daughter after her. Instead, I named a character after her. 🙂 Her last name, Clair, comes from the fact that she’s a clairvoyant.
      Mackenzie’s handsome landlord, Graham Thomas, is named after one of my favorite fictional men and the man who created him: Thomas Harris’ Will Graham.
    • I’ll usually look up common names from the year a character was born, or names that represent their heritage. Then, to make sure I’m not reusing the same name over and over (my placeholder for characters who identify as female tends to be “Megan” and I have no idea why), I check them against a spreadsheet I keep of every character name I’ve used and where I used it. Yep, I’m one of those people who (rightly) thinks spreadsheets are fun.
  • Who is your favorite character to write?
    • In the Soul Searchers mysteries, I love writing the characters who antagonize Mac. For some reason, creating moments where they get under her skin is incredibly fun. I also love writing Kit, because our personalities are really similar but I do a better job acting polite than she does. I like living vicariously through Kit and just saying whatever I want, doing what I think is best, and fighting for the people I love regardless of the consequences.
  • What is your writing Kryptonite?
    • Books and video games. If I’m on a deadline, feeling stressed, or–let’s face it–just awake and at home, it’s soooo tempting to spend the entire afternoon living in someone else’s imaginary universe instead of working on my own. I have to work hard to keep myself on task some days, but I try to find a balance between working and relaxing.
  • Do you write listening to music?
    • Most of the time, yes. I like to listen to Delerium’s Poem album on repeat so it sort of fades into the background, filling up the part of my brain that wants music without distracting the part of my brain that needs to imagine things and think of the right words to describe them. If I need to set a specific mood or get into the mind of a particular character, I’ll switch it up. Emotional scenes with Graham get written to ‘90s alternative rock, for example.
      But when I need to write a scary scene, like Mac attempting to summon a spirit, I have to turn the music off.
  • What’s next for you?
    • Right now, I’m working on the third and final book in the Soul Searchers Mysteries. It’s bittersweet to be wrapping up Mac’s story, but I’m excited for her to get to solve her personal mysteries on top of yet another murder (poor girl – she’s such a body magnet!).
      Apart from that, I’m also working on a standalone horror novel that pulls from my Basque heritage. We have some deliciously terrifying folklore and it’s so much fun to explore the dark things that scared my ancestors. I also have three short stories coming out in a few different anthologies this year, and hopefully more to come!
      Definitely subscribe to my newsletter at www.carynlarrinaga.com — you’ll get a free ebook, plus you’ll stay in the loop about everything I have coming up!



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#GuestPost “Dirty Old Town” by Gabriel Valjan

Dirty Old Town by Gabriel Valjan Banneron Tour March 1 – April 30, 2020


Crime in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

 1968, the year I was born, was an apocalyptic year, according to my high Gabriel Valjanschool English teacher. We had a half-hour class one day before lunch, which was too little time to do much, so we shot the breeze with her. Most of my classmates in the Eighties were born within a year or two, give or take, of each other. We were born during the time she was a graduate student at Columbia studying the poetry of William Blake. If you read Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon, then you know William Blake didn’t paint sunflowers and wheat fields. The way she spoke, the serious tone in her voice is something I’ll never forget. She said 1968 was the one year in her life that she thought the world would end. Assassinations. Vietnam. A pallor of cynicism and despair clung to everything, she told us.

She did say, however, that when Walter Cronkite, the legendary journalist for CBS Evening News and an outspoken war-hawk, questioned political and military leaders about American involvement in Vietnam, there was a short-lived sliver of hope that even the venerable Cronkite was willing to admit that the government had lied to the public. People, she said, thought there might be a change. There wasn’t. Her comments that day haunted me for years.

The Eighties never spoke to me. Yes, like some of my peers, I enjoyed the films of John Hughes, and I can appreciate the soundtrack to the film and musical Rock of Ages, but the Seventies offered more to my imagination as a writer. The film Three Days of the Condor shows the dirty and gritty Manhattan I knew as a child. Times Square then was surreal, and not for the porn theatres but the street life, the ‘characters’ who walked the sidewalk. Fort Apache, The Bronx wasn’t just a movie with Paul Newman, but as real a place and as vivid as graffiti spray-painted on subway cars, while they were still moving and packed with people. I remember when SNL first aired. I remember the Summer of ’77, the heat wave and blackout, and how the Son of Sam terrorized New York City. I remember the day Etan Patz disappeared.

Readers of my Shane Cleary series will revisit the Seventies, but experience a different city. Boston. My choice of city is a bold one since I’m walking in the shadows of literary heavyweights such as George V. Higgins, Robert B. Parker, and Dennis Lehane, but I think I can offer something new and different to fans of crime fiction. I offer readers a principled main character, a person you would want to have your back. I’ll also take readers into parts of Boston that the authors I’ve named did not write about. I will show readers how the 1970s were fascinating and that Boston was every bit as corrupt and tough as any other urban city in America; in fact, many of the social issues then are still with us today.



Dirty Old Town by Gabriel Valjan

“Robert B. Parker would stand and cheer, and George V. Higgins would join the ovation. This is a terrific book–tough, smart, spare, and authentic. Gabriel Valjan is a true talent–impressive and skilled–providing knock-out prose, a fine-tuned sense of place and sleekly wry style.”– Hank Phillippi Ryan, nationally bestselling author of The Murder List

Shane Cleary, a PI in a city where the cops want him dead, is tough, honest and broke. When he’s asked to look into a case of blackmail, the money is too good for him to refuse, even though the client is a snake and his wife is the woman who stomped on Shane’s heart years before. When a fellow vet and Boston cop with a secret asks Shane to find a missing person, the paying gig and the favor for a friend lead Shane to an arsonist, mobsters, a shady sports agent, and Boston’s deadliest hitman, the Barbarian. With both criminals and cops out to get him, the pressure is on for Shane to put all the pieces together before time runs out.

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Fiction, Mystery, Procedural, Historical Fiction

Published by: Level Best Books

Publication Date: January 14th 2020

Number of Pages: 162

ISBN: 1087857325 (ISBN13: 9781087857329)

Series: A Shane Cleary Mystery

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


Read an excerpt:

The phone rang. Not that I heard it at first, but Delilah, who was lying next to me, kicked me in the ribs. Good thing she did because a call, no matter what the hour, meant business, and my cat had a better sense of finances than I did. Rent was overdue on the apartment, and we were living out of my office in downtown Boston to avoid my landlord in the South End. The phone trilled. Again, and again, it rang. I staggered through the darkness to the desk and picked up the receiver. Out of spite I didn’t say a word. I’d let the caller who’d ruined my sleep start the conversation. “Mr. Shane Cleary?” a gruff voice asked. “Maybe.” The obnoxious noise in my ear indicated the phone had been handed to someone else. The crusty voice was playing operator for the real boss. “Shane, old pal. It’s BB.” Dread as ancient as the schoolyard blues spread through me. Those familiar initials also made me think of monogrammed towels and cufflinks. I checked the clock. “Brayton Braddock. Remember me?” “It’s two in the morning, Bray. What do you want?” Calling him Bray was intended as a jab, to remind him his name was one syllable away from the sound of a jackass. BB was what he’d called himself when we were kids, because he thought it was cool. It wasn’t. He thought it made him one of the guys. It didn’t, but that didn’t stop him. Money creates delusions. Old money guarantees them. “I need your help.” “At this hour?” “Don’t be like that.” “What’s this about, Bray?” Delilah meowed at my feet and did figure eights around my legs. My gal was telling me I was dealing with a snake, and she preferred I didn’t take the assignment, no matter how much it paid us. But how could I not listen to Brayton Braddock III? I needed the money. Delilah and I were both on a first-name basis with Charlie the Tuna, given the number of cans of Starkist around the office. Anyone who told you poverty was noble is a damn fool. “I’d rather talk about this in person, Shane.” I fumbled for pen and paper. “When and where?” “Beacon Hill. My driver is on his way.” “But—” I heard the click. I could’ve walked from my office to the Hill. I turned on the desk light and answered the worried eyes and mew. “Looks like we both might have some high-end kibble in our future, Dee.” She understood what I’d said. Her body bumped the side of my leg. She issued plaintive yelps of disapproval. The one opinion I wanted, from the female I trusted most, and she couldn’t speak human. I scraped my face smooth with a tired razor and threw on a clean dress shirt, blue, and slacks, dark and pressed. I might be poor, but my mother and then the military had taught me dignity and decency at all times. I dressed conservatively, never hip or loud. Another thing the Army taught me was not to stand out. Be the gray man in any group. It wasn’t like Braddock and his milieu understood contemporary fashion, widespread collars, leisure suits, or platform shoes. I choose not to wear a tie, just to offend his Brahmin sensibilities. Beacon Hill was where the Elites, the Movers and Shakers in Boston lived, as far back to the days of John Winthrop. At this hour, I expected Braddock in nothing less than bespoke Parisian couture. I gave thought as to whether I should carry or not. I had enemies, and a .38 snub-nose under my left armpit was both insurance and deodorant. Not knowing how long I’d be gone, I fortified Delilah with the canned stuff. She kept time better than any of the Bruins referees and there was always a present outside the penalty box when I ran overtime with her meals. I meted out extra portions of tuna and the last of the dry food for her. I checked the window. A sleek Continental slid into place across the street. I admired the chauffeur’s skill at mooring the leviathan. He flashed the headlights to announce his arrival. Impressed that he knew that I knew he was there, I said goodbye, locked and deadbolted the door for the walk down to Washington Street and the car. Outside the air, severe and cold as the city’s forefathers, slapped my cheeks numb. Stupid me had forgotten gloves. My fingers were almost blue. Good thing the car was yards away, idling, the exhaust rising behind it. I cupped my hands and blew hot air into them and crossed the street. I wouldn’t dignify poor planning on my part with a sprint. Minimal traffic. Not a word from him or me during the ride. Boston goes to sleep at 12:30 a.m. Public transit does its last call at that hour. Checkered hacks scavenge the streets for fares in the small hours before sunrise. The other side of the city comes alive then, before the rest of the town awakes, before whatever time Mr. Coffee hits the filter and grounds. While men and women who slept until an alarm clock sprung them forward into another day, another repeat of their daily routine, the sitcom of their lives, all for the hallelujah of a paycheck, another set of people moved, with their ties yanked down, shirts and skirts unbuttoned, and tails pulled up and out. The night life, the good life was on. The distinguished set in search of young flesh migrated to the Chess Room on the corner of Tremont and Boylston Streets, and a certain crowd shifted down to the Playland on Essex, where drag queens, truck drivers, and curious college boys mixed more than drinks. The car was warmer than my office and the radio dialed to stultifying mood music. Light from one of the streetlamps revealed a business card on the seat next to me. I reviewed it: Braddock’s card, the usual details on the front, a phone number in ink. A man’s handwriting on the back when I turned it over. I pocketed it. All I saw in front of me from my angle in the backseat was a five-cornered hat, not unlike a policeman’s cover, and a pair of black gloves on the wheel. On the occasion of a turn, I was given a profile. No matinee idol there and yet his face looked as familiar as the character actor whose name escapes you. I’d say he was mid-thirties, about my height, which is a liar’s hair under six-foot, and the spread of his shoulders hinted at a hundred-eighty pounds, which made me feel self-conscious and underfed because I’m a hundred-sixty in shoes. He eased the car to a halt, pushed a button, and the bolt on my door shot upright. Job or no job, I never believed any man was another man’s servant. I thanked him and I watched the head nod. Outside on the pavement, the cold air knifed my lungs. A light turned on. The glow invited me to consider the flight of stairs with no railing. Even in their architecture, Boston’s aristocracy reminded everyone that any form of ascent needed assistance. A woman took my winter coat, and a butler said hello. I recognized his voice from the phone. He led and I followed. Wide shoulders and height were apparently in vogue because Braddock had chosen the best from the catalog for driver and butler. I knew the etiquette that came with class distinction. I would not be announced, but merely allowed to slip in. Logs in the fireplace crackled. Orange and red hues flickered against all the walls. Cozy and intimate for him, a room in hell for me. Braddock waited there, in his armchair, Hefner smoking jacket on. I hadn’t seen the man in almost ten years, but I’ll give credit where it’s due. His parents had done their bit after my mother’s death before foster care swallowed me up. Not so much as a birthday or Christmas card from them or their son since then, and now their prince was calling on me. Not yet thirty, Braddock manifested a decadence that came with wealth. A pronounced belly, round as a teapot, and when he stood up, I confronted an anemic face, thin lips, and a receding hairline. Middle-age, around the corner for him, suggested a bad toupee and a nubile mistress, if he didn’t have one already. He approached me and did a boxer’s bob and weave. I sparred when I was younger. The things people remembered about you always surprised me. Stuck in the past, and yet Braddock had enough presence of mind to know my occupation and drop the proverbial dime to call me. “Still got that devastating left hook?” he asked. “I might.” “I appreciate your coming on short notice.” He indicated a chair, but I declined. “I have a situation,” he said. He pointed to a decanter of brandy. “Like some…Henri IV Heritage, aged in oak for a century.” He headed for the small bar to pour me some of his precious Heritage. His drink sat on a small table next to his chair. The decanter waited for him on a liquor caddy with a glass counter and a rotary phone. I reacquainted myself with the room and décor. I had forgotten how high the ceilings were in these brownstones. The only warm thing in the room was the fire. The heating bill here alone would’ve surpassed the mortgage payment my parents used to pay on our place. The marble, white as it was, was sepulchral. Two nude caryatids for the columns in the fireplace had their eyes closed. The Axminster carpet underfoot, likely an heirloom from one of Cromwell’s cohorts in the family tree, displayed a graphic hunting scene. I took one look at the decanter, saw all the studded diamonds, and knew Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton would have done the set number of paces with a pair of hand-wrought dueling pistols to own it. Bray handed me a snifter of brandy and resumed his place in his chair. I placed my drink on the mantel. “Tell me more about this situation you have.” “Quite simple, really. Someone in my company is blackmailing me.” “And which company is that?” “Immaterial at the moment. Please do take a seat.” I declined his attempt at schmooze. This wasn’t social. This was business. “If you know who it is,” I said, “and you want something done about it, I’d recommend the chauffeur without reservation, or is it that you’re not a hundred percent sure?” I approached Bray and leaned down to talk right into his face. I did it out of spite. One of the lessons I’d learned is that the wealthy are an eccentric and paranoid crowd. Intimacy and germs rank high on their list of phobias. “I’m confident I’ve got the right man.” Brayton swallowed some of his expensive liquor. “Then go to the police and set up a sting.” “I’d like to have you handle the matter for me.” “I’m not muscle, Brayton. Let’s be clear about that. You mean to say a man of your position doesn’t have any friends on the force to do your dirty work?” “Like you have any friends there?” I threw a hand onto each of the armrests and stared into his eyes. Any talk about the case that bounced me off the police force and into the poorhouse soured my disposition. I wanted the worm to squirm. “Watch it, Bray. Old bones ought to stay buried. I can walk right out that door.” “That was uncalled for, and I’m sorry,” he said. “This is a clean job.” Unexpected. The man apologized for the foul. I had thought the word “apology” had been crossed out in his family dictionary. I backed off and let him breathe and savor his brandy. I needed the job. The money. I didn’t trust Bray as a kid, nor the man the society pages said saved New England with his business deals and largesse. “Let’s talk about this blackmail then,” I said. “Think one of your employees isn’t happy with their Christmas bonus?” He bolted upright from his armchair. “I treat my people well.” Sensitive, I thought and went to say something else, when I heard a sound behind me, and then I smelled her perfume. Jasmine, chased with the sweet burn of bourbon. I closed my eyes, and when I opened them I saw his smug face. “You remember Cat, don’t you?” “How could I not?” I said and kissed the back of the hand offered to me. Cat always took matters one step forward. She kissed me on the cheek, close enough that I could feel her against me. She withdrew and her scent stuck to me. Cat was the kind of woman who did all the teaching and you were grateful for the lessons. Here we were, all these years later, the three of us in one room, in the middle of the night. “Still enjoy those film noir movies?” she asked. “Every chance I get.” “I’m glad you came at my husband’s request.” The word husband hurt. I had read about their marriage in the paper. “I think you should leave, dear, and let the men talk,” her beloved said. His choice of words amused me as much as it did her, from the look she gave me. I never would have called her “dear” in public or close quarters. You don’t dismiss her, either. “Oh please,” she told her husband. “My sensibility isn’t that delicate and it’s not like I haven’t heard business discussed. Shane understands confidentiality and discretion. You also forget a wife can’t be forced to testify against her husband. Is this yours, Shane?” she asked about the snifter on the brandy on the mantel. I nodded. “I’ll keep it warm for you.” She leaned against the mantel for warmth. She nosed the brandy and closed her eyes. When they opened, her lips parted in a sly smile, knowing her power. Firelight illuminated the length of her legs and my eyes traveled. Braddock noticed and he screwed himself into his chair and gave her a venomous look. “Why the look, darling?” she said. “You know Shane and I have history.” Understatement. She raised the glass. Her lips touched the rim and she took the slightest sip. Our eyes met again and I wanted a cigarette, but I’d quit the habit. I relished the sight until Braddock broke the spell. He said, “I’m being blackmailed over a pending business deal.” “Blackmail implies dirty laundry you don’t want aired,” I said. “What kind of deal?” “Nothing I thought was that important,” he said. “Somebody thinks otherwise.” “This acquisition does have certain aspects that, if exposed, would shift public opinion, even though it’s completely aboveboard.” Braddock sipped and stared at me while that expensive juice went down his throat. “All legit, huh,” I said. “Again, what kind of acquisition?” “Real estate.” “The kind of deal where folks in this town receive an eviction notice?” He didn’t answer that. As a kid, I’d heard how folks in the West End were tossed out and the Bullfinch Triangle was razed to create Government Center, a modern and brutal Stonehenge, complete with tiered slabs of concrete and glass. Scollay Square disappeared overnight. Gone were the restaurants and the watering holes, the theaters where the Booth brothers performed, and burlesque and vaudeville coexisted. Given short notice, a nominal sum that was more symbolic than anything else, thousands of working-class families had to move or face the police who were as pleasant and diplomatic as the cops at the Chicago Democratic National Convention. I didn’t say I’d accept the job. I wanted Braddock to simmer and knew how to spike his temperature. I reclaimed my glass from Cat. She enjoyed that. “Pardon me,” I said to her. “Not shy about sharing a glass, I hope.” “Not at all.” I let Bray Braddock cook. If he could afford to drink centennial grape juice then he could sustain my contempt. I gulped his cognac to show what a plebe I was, and handed the glass back to Cat with a wink. She walked to the bar and poured herself another splash, while I questioned my future employer. “Has this blackmailer made any demands? Asked for a sum?” “None,” Braddock answered. “But he knows details about your acquisition?” I asked. “He relayed a communication.” Braddock yelled out to his butler, who appeared faster than recruits I’d known in Basic Training. The man streamed into the room, gave Braddock two envelopes, and exited with an impressive gait. Braddock handed me one of the envelopes. I opened it. I fished out a thick wad of paperwork. Photostats. Looking them over, I saw names and figures and dates. Accounting. “Xeroxes,” Braddock said. “They arrived in the mail.” “Copies? What, carbon copies aren’t good enough for you?” “We’re beyond the days of the hand-cranked mimeograph machine, Shane. My partners and I have spared no expense to implement the latest technology in our offices.” I examined pages. “Explain to me in layman’s terms what I’m looking at, the abridged version, or I’ll be drinking more of your brandy.” The magisterial hand pointed to the decanter. “Help yourself.” “No thanks.” “Those copies are from a ledger for the proposed deal. Keep them. Knowledgeable eyes can connect names there to certain companies, to certain men, which in turn lead to friends in high places, and I think you can infer the rest. Nothing illegal, mind you, but you know how things get, if they find their way into the papers. Yellow journalism has never died out.” I pocketed the copies. “It didn’t die out, on account of your people using it to underwrite the Spanish-American War. If what you have here is fair-and-square business, then your problem is public relations—a black eye the barbershops on Madison Ave can pretty up in the morning. I don’t do PR, Mr. Braddock. What is it you think I can do for you?” “Ascertain the identity of the blackmailer.” “Then you aren’t certain of…never mind. And what do I do when I ascertain that identity?” “Nothing. I’ll do the rest.” “Coming from you, that worries me, seeing how your people have treated the peasants, historically speaking.” Brayton didn’t say a word to that. “And that other envelope in your lap?” I asked. The balding halo on the top of his head revealed itself when he looked down at the envelope. Those sickly lips parted when he faced me. I knew I would hate the answer. Cat stood behind him. She glanced at me then at the figure of a dog chasing a rabbit on the carpet. “Envelope contains the name of a lead, an address, and a generous advance. Cash.” Brayton tossed it my way. The envelope, fat as a fish, hit me. I caught it. *** Excerpt from Dirty Old Town by Gabriel Valjan. Copyright 2020 by Gabriel Valjan. Reproduced with permission from Gabriel Valjan. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

Gabriel Valjan Gabriel is the author of two series, Roma and Company Files, with Winter Goose Publishing. Dirty Old Town is the first in the Shane Cleary series for Level Best Books. His short stories have appeared online, in journals, and in several anthologies. He has been a finalist for the Fish Prize, shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, and received an Honorable Mention for the Nero Wolfe Black Orchid Novella Contest in 2018. You can find him on Twitter (@GValjan) and Instagram (gabrielvaljan). He lurks the hallways at crime fiction conferences, such as Bouchercon, Malice Domestic, and New England Crime Bake. Gabriel is a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime.

Catch Up With Gabriel Valjan On: GabrielValjan.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook


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#ReleaseBlitz “Like Fire and Powder” by Shannon A. Hiner

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coverPrequel novella to The Immortal World series (release #5.5)
Paranormal Romance
Date Published: 3/20/20
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She’s Risqueen.
Celeste was never meant to be a vampire. She never wanted to die, or be undead, or drink blood. And the vampire who turned her, Angela Estrada, certainly didn’t want her either. Celeste has never been a fan of Angela’s cynical overly religious ways and she’s spent two whole centuries asking the same question: Why her?
He’s Fraccas.
Tanner is in a bind. Even as Second in Command to the Fraccas clan, he’s never been completely on board with the leader’s view of the world and their place in it. Now there’s a strong likelihood that Ignatius is looking for a way to replace Tanner. Permanently.
Sworn Enemies. Until . . .
Eyes meet across a crowded ballroom. The world stops. And then starts spinning again…in the opposite direction. Moving them toward each other when everything about who—and whose— they are is designed to keep them apart.
When your world won’t let you have the one thing you desire most, what other choice is there than to burn it down and build a new one?

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Celeste didn’t know what she’d been expecting. Clearly, she hadn’t been thinking. Just reacting. Moving on instinct. She’d never had an instinct so strong as the one that had pulled her across the room to that man.
She hadn’t bothered to ask herself what she would do once she stood in front of him.
Seeing the leggy brunette in a skin tight red dress had been a serious wake up call.
Celeste slipped out the back door and into the cool night air with a sigh. Autumn was nearing its second half, where the trees were barren and the cold mornings were slow to relinquish their hold, returning with a vengeance as soon as the sun turned its back again.
Celeste didn’t feel the chill. No gooseflesh rose on her arms, she didn’t shiver or pace about to keep warm. Instead, she took a deep breath of fallen leaves and impending dew and leaned her back against the wall of the building.
It was quiet outside. Quiet and deserted. Above, music and conversation escaped the hall through the open balcony doors. Couples who thought no one could hear them rendezvoused on those balconies. Their whispers floated down almost incoherent to where Celeste stood. She closed her eyes and listened without really paying attention.
When she opened her eyes again, she already knew she wasn’t alone. The breeze moved past another before reaching her.
He stood only a few feet from her. Silent and imposing as a gravestone. His eyes rested on her with a curious sort of ease, as if he was able to relax for the first time in ages.
Celeste didn’t move from where she leaned against the building. She stared back at him and waited. He hadn’t thought it through either. The “what came next” part. The side of her mouth lifted. What a pair they were.
He took in her smile, eyes lingering on her mouth, flicking back to her eyes, then spanning the curve of her cheeks and jaw.
Celeste had never felt so seen in all of her life . . . or death, for that matter. He took in every aspect of her and kept on looking. She swallowed back the jumble of words that rose in her throat. Nothing she attempted to say would make any sense. Jibberish, all of it. And the first person who spoke might break the moment. Dispel the magic.
And it was magic.
Celeste stared back at him just as intently. Admired the breadth of his shoulders and the straight line of his nose. The unforgiving slant of his jaw and the steady warmth of his light eyes. What color were they? Impossible to tell in the starlight.
He opened his mouth, but only a small sigh of air escaped before Celeste moved forward, cutting him off with a shake of her head. She stopped barely a foot from him. The space between them wavered, pulled like a magnet to its mate.
Celeste took a deep breath. Cotton and pine and bourbon whiskey. Clean and warm and welcoming. She closed her eyes with a smile, opening them again when his hand touched her hair, smoothing over her curls so lightly, it was as if a butterfly had landed against them.
They were closer somehow.
Time and space vanished until only their senses ruled them.
His hand curved around the back of her neck, tangling in her hair. Celeste’s fingers found their way into his coat, curling around the lapels.
Nothing in her life had made sense for so long. Nothing had fit. Nothing felt right. There was always a “but.”
Until him. Until this. Until . . .


About the Author
SHANNON A. HINER lives in far Northern California with her feline roommate, Pangur Ban. She attended and graduated from Butte College in Oroville, CA. Having believed in faeries, vampires & all sorts of immortal creatures her entire life, it came as no surprise to her family and friends when she started writing down her stories in a grossly exaggerated fashion.
After finishing her first book in 2009, Submerged In Darkness, she realized she had written not the first book of many, but the last in an epic series. Since that time, she has been laboring to write & publish all prior books.
She wishes you would follow her on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram where you can enjoy quotes from works in progress, grammar puns, music that inspires and irregular updates on future works. @ShannonAHiner
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