#NewRelease “Deadlocked by Dawn” by Afton Locke

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Paradise in the Florida Keys…

After 2020, Delia Sloane struggles to keep Rainbow Falls Resort afloat while grieving the loss of her father and husband. She refuses to let her Key Largo slice of paradise—a haven for non-mainstream couples—die. But when a serial killer begins attacking her guests—leaving a single dreadlock on each victim—everything spins out of control, including what’s left of her family.

Hides a killer…

After her brother’s experience with police brutality, the last place she wants to turn to for help is law enforcement. Scarred mentally by a deadly force incident, Detective Will Peterson has avoided homicide cases. But only he has the skills to drill into the elusive killer’s twisted mind.

And it just got personal…

When a hurricane strikes, exposing the horrible truth behind Delia’s losses and threatening everything she holds dear, trusting Will may be her only hope. Are they up to the challenge?

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#CoverReveal “A Chance Encounter” by Rae Shaw

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Julianna Baptiste, a feisty bodyguard, finds her new job tedious, that is until her boss, the evasive Jackson Haynes, spikes her curiosity. Who is behind the vicious threats to his beautiful wife and why is he interested in two estranged siblings?

Mark works for Haynes’s vast company. He’s hiding from ruthless money launderers.

His teenage sister Ellen has an online friend whom she has never met. Ellen guards a terrible secret.

For eight years their duplicitous father has languished in prison, claiming he is innocent of murder. The evidence against him is overwhelming, so why does Mark persist with an appeal?

Keen to prove her potential as an investigator, Julianna forces Mark to confront his mistakes. The consequences will put all their lives in danger.

Pre-order Link

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Publication Date: 24th March

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Author Bio   

Rae Shaw is a pen name for the author Rachel Walkley.

Rachel is based in the North West of England. She read her first grown-up detective novel at the age of eleven, which proved to be a catalyst for filling many shelves with crime books, which still occupy her home and grow in number whenever she visits a book shop.

As well as crime, Rachel likes to unplug from the real world and writes mysteries that have a touch of magic woven into family secrets.

Social Media Links

Website    Twitter    Rae Shaw Facebook    Rachel Walkley

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#BookTour “The Black Candle Killings” by Andrew Segal

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Conspiracy Series, Book 3

Detective Thriller

Date Published: March 1st 2021

Publisher: Happy London Press

A church going district of North London and a neighbourhood where friendly residents know each other. But when a brutally murdered woman is found next to a burned-out black candle, a strange mark etched deep into her back, the locals became afraid.

Her old boss, a Chief Superintendent in the Met, calls for PI, Tammy Pierre’s assistance. He’s aware of her Caribbean links, and knowledge of Obiah, a voodoo curse found in Trinidad, and used, some claim, to commit bizarre murders. So, is it voodoo? Or just superstition?

A trip to the West Indies reveals some disturbing facts, new evidence of child abuse and murders going undetected for over twenty years.

Returning to London, her situation becomes dangerous – is it all more than Tammy had bargained for?

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EXCERPT

Prologue

Yuh gonna die!

“Hmm? Watch you say, lady? Hear me now, hear me. Don’t y’all cry. You muss up yuh face. Me ain’t gonna hurt you none. Gonna be quick an’ easy. All be over soon, soon. You understan’? De Lord, he am waitin’ for yuh.”

Lillian Persaud hadn’t had sex with Tom for over a month. As she made for the office at a brisk trot, she smiled to herself. Gorgeous fresh morning. Gentle breeze. A few spots of rain tapping at her brolly. Some wispy grey cloud. Might warm up later, though. Bound to really, she thought with her usual optimism.

Out of the corner of her eye she spotted something moving. A shadow; perhaps her own? Couldn’t place it. Coming from behind a parked car? A moment of unease, but not one to break the glorious mood she was in.

The day ahead, filled with appointments, staff meetings and then, this weather forecast had said it would be a mixed day, so at least there’d be some sun to look forward to.

Business was getting busier by the week in her expanding company, Persaud IT Ltd. A hectic day ahead of her. Evening to think about.

Plans for sex, she mused. Lots of it. Asap. On the agenda. And about time too. She smiled again at the prospect. Some soft music; modern jazz. The contemplative tones of Miles Davis’s trumpet. Chic Corea on piano. Tom’s favourite record, Peggy Lee singing, ‘Some Cats Know’, and she added mentally the following refrain, ‘How to go real slow’. Tom knew how to go real slow. Lovely man. What a wedding night they’d had. Not a real wedding, but an exchanging of vows and commitment before an Unofficial Officiant in a Humanist service. They both had their own reasons for preferring to avoid a religious ceremony. A couple of dozen close family and friends in a tiny hotel off the beaten track, near to Bourton-on-the-Water, in the Cotswolds.

Of course, it wasn’t the first time they’d made love, but Tom made it feel that way. It was as if he’d saved something special for just that evening. Up till then, every night with him had been special. But, wow! she thought. Was that night extra special, or was it not?

Not too many nights like it since the baby. Gracie was a demanding tot, and now an even more demanding little girl. Still, she thought, their imp seemed to have got over her current bout of sleeplessness.

Someone on the other side of the street, emerging from behind a tree this time, looking at her. Looking at her? A phantom silhouette. Following her. Dark tracksuit and trainers. Hoodie obscuring the face. Soundless steps. Were they smiling? She couldn’t see.

Lillian frowned for a moment. No-one else around. Early morning. A few parked vehicles. An unexpected feeling of loneliness. Maybe they were scowling? She hurried on, getting nervous now, her heels clicking on the pavement, echoing in her ears.

Like being on the ghost train in a fairground. Never sure what was going to jump out at you. Nothing was going to attack her out here in the street. This was Bloomsbury where bad things didn’t happen. She’d soon be at the office. Door locked behind her. Safe. Then, hot coffee. The world waking up. Staff arriving shortly.

Tom said she was a worrier. “Darling,” he’d told her one day, “if you didn’t have something to worry about, it’d almost certainly worry you.” He was right of course. But worriers get things done, she’d protested. And, looking around, she found her imagined stalker had vanished. A heaved sigh of relief.

Baby Grace had been fractious and her sleepless nights had impacted Lillian and Tom. But there’d been six undisturbed nights when the parents had caught up with some desperately needed shut-eye, and now Lillian was beaming to herself as she mentally planned the evening in.

 

“Look! Look! See? It say in here in de Bible, Deuteronomy 23, verse 2, dat no-one born of a forbidden union may enter de kingdom of de Lord. Even to de ten generation, none of his descendants may enter de assembly of de Lord. Yuh gonna have to pay, lady.”

 

Tom loved cooking, but he also liked to eat out. He’d probably booked somewhere for them already. It was their anniversary, that of the first time they’d met. But tonight was going to be all Lillian’s treat. And for a change there’d be no meat. Tom could eat lamb and beef for England, but he’d been told by his doctor to cut down as his cholesterol levels were too high. So tonight, would be fish. Cod, baked in fish stock, with chopped onions and tomato, and a handful of black olives to finish it off. Steamed new potatoes in their skins, dripping in butter, well, maybe not exactly dripping. A mixed salad, with her own dressing. A bottle of Pino Grigio. And for dessert, a blueberry pavlova coupled with vanilla ice cream by Marshfield Farm, an English make on a par with the best of Italian. Divine thoughts.

Tom hadn’t seen the white thong yet. The one with the split crotch. The matching, barely there, white bra. The contrast with her ebony complexion would be stark. Heavens! she thought, I’ll be stark, or as good as. She’d kept them for an occasion like she was going to make tonight’s. Her legs went slightly wobbly at the thought. However would she make it through the day? she wondered.

The first thing she noticed upon opening up the office was that the alarm hadn’t been set the night before. She frowned. Must have a word with the cleaners later today. But, just the same, she thought, worrying.

They’d kept all the original features of the beautiful Georgian building’s interior, whilst managing to lay out desks with smart glass dividers to allow, if not privacy, at least the chance to concentrate on work without the immediate intrusion of others in the room overwhelming you.

There was a separate boardroom for client meetings, and it was to this she presently repaired. She needed to spread out paperwork in a manner more convenient than might be obtained, no matter how many screens she chose to work with. For all her IT skills, sometimes it was the old tried and tested routines that worked best.

Lillian was happy. Happier than she’d ever been in her life. After a ghastly childhood, from which she’d made a timely escape, things were coming together more satisfyingly than she had ever dared to hope.

 

“Dey all jagabat womans tink dey can fool me. Dey run away from me, but me have catch yuh. Me have seen you, lady, flahntin’ y’all an’ yer babby. Lady, de chile am barn of a forbidden union. Who you tink you is? Me ain’t no dotish man. No mamaguy. Me am gonna bring y’all back to God.”

 

And yet, that shadow again, from the corner of her eye. And, here? In the office? Her mind playing tricks? Had to be. But why, all of a sudden? She wasn’t normally given to random fears. She’d be seeing ghosts next. Shaking her head resolutely, she told herself not to be stupid.

Then the light pad of a muffled tread, a sharp pinprick in the back of her neck, the warmth of a thin stream of blood, her blood, running down her spine and a cultured voice warning her not to look round.

She felt as though she were being crushed with fear. She couldn’t breathe properly. Her blood was freezing in her veins, as she shuddered, uncontrollably. She could see the papers spread around the boardroom table, but made no connection with them. It was as though she were marooned in a foreign country, where she could neither understand nor make herself understood.

She knew she mustn’t panic, mustn’t scream, because the shadow would want her to scream, would need her to scream in order to exercise power over her. She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply to try to calm her nerves. The voice was educated, could be spoken to. She might use reason. This was clearly a case of mistaken identity which she could quickly establish.

Then the voice changed. The tone dropped by a couple of octaves and to her consternation, the accent was now clearly patois.

Lillian heard a match flare, smelled burning tallow as smoke played around her head. She tried to think who it could possibly be. Racked her brains, uselessly. Didn’t know who it was. No idea in the world. But they clearly knew all about her.

 “De candle am burnin’ dong. It have you name on de side, Lillian.

“When it reach de bottom yuh gonna die.

“Hmm? Ah! Now you screamin’, Lillian? Dat’s good. Show y’all repentin’. Keep screamin’ now, Lillian, keep screamin’. Ain’t no-one to hear you.

“Praise de Lord.”

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About the Author

Having never written a dramatic word in my life some thirty years ago, an idea for a short story popped into my head. With the encouragement of my wife and daughter I wrote a tale about a timid and ineffectual man and his pet cat, called Cat and Mouse. Wife and daughter approved so I produced more stories and then joined a writers’ group who also liked what I wrote.

Sir George Everest said, they climbed that mountain, ‘Because it is there.’ The same might be said of writing. Why do we write? because of the idea, the notion, the thought. ‘Because it is there,’ and the irresistible urge to put it down in print.

My inspirations have come from real people, events or situations that have presented themselves. Titles like, I am a Contract Killer, Beads of Blood, Death Zone, and License to Kill, are all based on my own lifetime experiences, questions asked, incidents occurring. So far, nobody has been murdered on my watch. But the notion gave rise to the impetus to write my first murder mystery, The Lyme Regis Murders. Could I make the jump after years of writing macabre short stories to a full-length drama? That familiar beating in the gut, said, ‘Yes, try it. Give it a go.’

And so to that cosy coastal town where nothing untoward ever happens. Or perhaps it does. The author seeks to shatter notions, change people’s perceptions, spoil long held views. That was my intention in entering into the world of crime thrillers. I’ve found that ‘nice’ people are not always what they seem. The helpless can be transformed into the most dangerous, the most dangerous become the most harmless. It’s all up to the writer and what they’re hoping to achieve. For me, so far, there have been several children’s books, one collection of short stories, with three more planned and three novels completed, plus a fourth in the mixer.

Whilst a short story might be written with a flurry of adrenalin in the space of a few hours, a book will need more than just a flash of creativity. It will need, perseverance, discipline and dogged determination. But then, isn’t that what is required of every ambition?

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#BookBlitz ‘n’ #BookReview “Lockdown Innit” by MJ Mallon

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4/5 Stars!

Frustration, trepidation, fear, confusion, ennui, and boredom. Marjorie Mallon has taken the emotions so many of us experienced at life’s ironies and absurdities during coronavirus lockdowns and penned them in musings with her short prose and poetry.

From anger at the unmasked and the privileged to the trials of working from home and a health scare to a bin-guarding swan, memories of 2020 are crystal clear.

This short collection isn’t just a memoir and observations, but also a tribute to the spring the whole world changed.

Enjoy!

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SYNOPSIS

Lockdown Innit is a poetry collection of eighteen poems about life’s absurdities and frustrations during lockdown. Wherever you live in this world, this is for you. Expect humour, a dollop of banter and ridiculous rants here and there. Amongst other delights, witness the strange antics of a swan posing by a bin and two statuesque horses appearing like arc deco pieces in a field. Check out the violin player on a tightrope, or the cheeky unmentionables wafting in the lockdown breeze!

BOOK LINKS

KINDLE UNLIMITED

Kindle Amazon UK 

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Goodreads 

Universal link for kindle 

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AUTHOR BIO

 MJ MallonMy alter ego is MJ – Mary Jane from Spiderman. I love superheroes!

On the 17th of November I was born, in Lion City: Singapore, (a passionate Scorpio, with the Chinese Zodiac sign a lucky rabbit.) My early childhood was spent in Hong Kong. During my teen years, my parents returned to my father’s birthplace, Edinburgh, where I spent many happy years. As a teenager, I travelled to many far-flung destinations. It’s rumoured that I now live in the Venice of Cambridge, with my six-foot hunk of a Rock God husband. My two enchanted daughters have almost flown the nest, but often return with a cheery smile to greet me.

During the day, I work in an international sixth form with students from around the world. I’m the meet and greet lady who welcomes them to their new college and issues them with late slips when they don’t get to their lessons on time!

I write YA fantasy, paranormal, horror/supernatural short stories, flash fiction and short form poetry. More recently, I have produced and compiled an anthology/compilation set during the early stages of COVID-19 entitled This Is Lockdown. Following on from this, in February 2021 I will be releasing Lockdown Innit, poems about absurdity.

I’ve been blogging for many moons at my blog home, Kyrosmagica, which means Crystal Magic. From time to time I write articles celebrating the spiritual realm, inspiration and my love of nature, crystals and all things magical, mystical, and mysterious.

My eclectic blog shares my three loves: reading, writing, and creativity. I adore reading and have written over 150 reviews on my blog: https://mjmallon.com/2015/09/28/a-z-of-my-book-reviews/

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Author Website | Author Amazon Page | Twitter  | #ABRSC  | Goodreads | BookBub | Instagram

Mallon Books

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#GuestPost A Perfect Time For Historical Fiction by Mally Becker, author of “The Turncoat’s Widow”

The Turncoat's Widow by Mally Becker BannerFebruary 22 – March 19, 2021 Tour

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That popular television series, Bridgerton, with its dreamy Regency balls and characters, is motivating some readers to take another look at historical fiction and historical mysteries, even if they previously steered away from those stories.        

There’s just something about stepping into another time and place while following great characters that makes me happy. And because authors write what they love to read, it’s no surprise that my debut novel, The Turncoat’s Widow, is a historical mystery that tells the story of General Washington’s most reluctant spy, a young widow who uncovers a plot that threatens the nation’s future.

But enough about my book for now, because I want to share four reasons this may be the perfect time for you to find a historical mystery that perfectly matches what you need in this moment:

  1. Do much traveling? We all had plans, didn’t we? But whether you dreamed last year of Paris, Peoria or Phnom Penh, it will have to wait a while longer. In the meantime, a good historical mystery – with social norms, fashion and parties so different from our own– can carry you someplace new. If you miss getting on the road, too, you might like Sujata Massey’s series, which takes place in India during the 1920s, or Laura Joh Rowland’s Sano Ichiro mysteries, which carry readers back to feudal Japan. And if sneaking a drink in Chicago during the Prohibition 1920s is more your jam, then pick up Susanna Calkins’ great new Speakeasy Mysteries.
  2. Comfort for troubling times. These are “unprecedented” times, some people say. But historical mysteries remind us that there have always been unprecedented times. There’s something comforting in that and in reading about everyday people–even fictional everyday people–who manage to fall in and out of love, raise families, and overcome overwhelming challenges during tough times. Susan Elia MacNeal’s “Maggie Hope Mysteries” is one of my favorite series of this ilk. It opens with American expat Maggie Hope accepting a job as one of Winston Churchill’s secretaries during WWII. (What could go wrong?) For those with a false nostalgia about the “old days,” Eleanor Kuhns’ Will Rees early 19th century mysteries remind us that life wasn’t always easy back in the early days of the Republic.

My mystery, The Turncoat’s Widow, falls into this category, too. Recent widow Becca Parcell is too busy struggling to maintain the farm she’s inherited to care who wins the War for Independence. But General Washington offers her a deal she can’t refuse when rumors begin to spread that she’s a secret Loyalist and the town turns against her.

  1. Reality bites. There are times when I need an author who knows how to wax witty and keep the blood–so to speak–off the page. Rhys Bowen is a master here. Try one of her lighthearted “Her Royal Spyness” mysteries, which follow Lady Georgiana, 34th in line to the throne, in England during the 1930s. Deanna Raeburn’s Lady Julia Gray series, Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily series, or Charles Finch’s Victorian Charles Lenox series also fit the bill. They will have you guessing the murderer while enjoying the lives of England’s 19th century gentry.

Looking to go even further back in history? If that’s the case, start with Lindsey Davis, whose series take place in Ancient Rome, or C.J. Sansom’s Shardlake series. Sansom’s protagonist, a hunchbacked lawyer, solves crimes in King Henry VIII’s 16th century England.

  1. What the past says about the present. Historical mysteries also entertain while illuminating the present. Lyndsay Faye’s fabulous novel Jane Steele or any of Laurie King’s Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes novels reminds us of the hurdles women have had to surmount to accomplish their goals and make us think about how much things have changed or haven’t. Some mysteries, like Barbara Neely’s Blanche on the Lam or anything by Walter Mosley (historical or contemporary), entertain while reminding us of the inequities that still haunt us.

Do you have a favorite historical mystery author or a reason you like this genre? I’d love to know!

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Synopsis:

The Turncoat's Widow by Mally Becker

Recently widowed, Rebecca Parcell is too busy struggling to maintain her farm in Morristown to care who wins the War for Independence. But rumors are spreading in 1780 that she’s a Loyalist sympathizer who betrayed her husband to the British—quite a tidy way to end her disastrous marriage, the village gossips whisper.

Everyone knows that her husband was a Patriot, a hero who died aboard a British prison ship moored in New York Harbor. But “everyone” is wrong. Parcell was a British spy, and General Washington – who spent two winters in Morristown – can prove it. He swears he’ll safeguard Becca’s farm if she unravels her husband’s secrets. With a mob ready to exile her or worse in the winter of 1780, it’s an offer she can’t refuse.

Escaped British prisoner of war Daniel Alloway was the last person to see Becca’s husband alive, and Washington throws this unlikely couple together on an espionage mission to British-occupied New York City. Moving from glittering balls to an underworld of brothels and prisons, Becca and Daniel uncover a plot that threatens the new country’s future. But will they move quickly enough to warn General Washington? And can Becca, who’s lost almost everyone she loves, fight her growing attraction to Daniel, a man who always moves on?

Praise for The Turncoat’s Widow

“The Turncoat’s Widow has it all. A sizzling romance, meticulous research, and an exhilarating adventure. Becca Parcell is too independent for both 18th-century Morristown and her feckless English husband. Her individual plight when she is pressed into service as an unwilling spy after her husband’s death reflects the larger situation of colonists during the American Revolution, whose lives were upended by a political fight they cared nothing about. Becker balances the ruthlessness of George Washington and the underhanded charm of Alexander Hamilton with the excesses of the British, as part of a detailed picture of how the colonies were governed during a war that was far from a simple fight between two opposing nations. But historical exactitude is balanced by dashing romance between Becca and Daniel Alloway, the escaped prisoner charged with protecting her, and plot full of bold escapes and twists. A great series debut. I can’t wait for the next installment.”

– Erica Obey, author, Dazzle Paint (coming 02/2021), The Curse of the Braddock Brides, and The Horseman’s Word.

“An exciting Revolutionary-era thriller with a twisty mystery, great characters, and historical accuracy to boot.”

– Eleanor Kuhns,author of the Will Rees mysteries

“The Turncoat’s Widow reminds readers that treachery from within and without to our republic were real, and those early days for American independence from the British were fragile, the patriot cause, unpopular. This is a rousing debut novel with insights into the hardships of colonial life, the precarious place of women in society, while giving fans of historical fiction a tale with suspense, surprises, and an outspoken and admirable heroine in Becca Parcell. Mally Becker is an author to watch.”

– Gabriel Valjan, Agatha and Anthony-nominated author of The Naming Game

Book Details

Genre: Historical Suspense / Mystery
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: February 16, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-953789-27-3
Purchase Links: Amazon || Goodreads

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Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

Morristown – January 1780

There was a nervous rustling in the white-washed meeting house, a disturbance of air like the sound of sparrows taking wing.

Becca Parcell peered over the balcony’s rough, wood railing, blinking away the fog of half-sleep. She had been dreaming of the figures in her account book and wondering whether there would be enough money for seed this spring.

“I didn’t hear what ….” she whispered to Philip’s mother.

Lady Augusta Georgiana Stokes Parcell, known simply as Lady Augusta, covered Becca’s hand with her own. “Philip. They’re speaking of Philip.”

Becca couldn’t tell whether it was her hand or Augusta’s that trembled.

“The Bible says, if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee, does it not?” The preacher’s voice was soft, yet it carried to every corner of the congregation. “They’re here. Amongst us. Neighbors who toast the King behind closed doors. Neighbors with no love of liberty.”

Philip was a Patriot. He had died a hero. Everyone knew. Minister Townsend couldn’t be talking about him.

The minister raised his eyes to hers. With his long thin arms and legs and round belly, he reminded her of a spider. She twisted her lips into the semblance of a smile as if to say “you don’t scare me.” But he did.

“Which of your neighbors celebrates each time a Patriot dies?” Townsend’s voice rose like smoke to the rafters, took on strength and caught fire. “Their presence here is an abomination.” He rapped the podium with a flat palm, the sound bruising in the quiet church. “Then cast them out. Now.”

Men pounded the floor with their feet.

Becca flinched. It wouldn’t take much to tip the congregation into violence. Everyone had lost someone or something to this endless war. It had been going on for almost five years.

Townsend’s thin arm rose, pointing to her.

Becca’s breath caught.

“And what of widows like Mrs. Parcell? Left alone, no longer guided by the wise direction of their husbands.”

Guided? Becca pulled her hand from Augusta’s. She rubbed her thumb along the palm of her hand, feeling the rough calluses stamped there. She had learned the rhythm of the scythe at the end of the summer, how to twist and swing low until her hands were so stiff that she’d struggle to free them from the handle. She’d fallen into a dreamless sleep each night during the harvest too exhausted even to dream of Philip. She, Augusta and their servant Annie were doing just fine.

“He hardly slept at home, as I hear it,” a woman behind her sniffed to a neighbor.

Becca’s spine straightened.

“No wonder there were no babes,” the second woman murmured.

Becca twisted and nodded a smile to Mrs. Huber and Mrs. Harrington. Their mouths pursed into surprised tight circles. She’d heard them murmur, their mouths hidden by fluttering fans: About her lack of social graces; her friendship with servants; her awkward silence in company. “What else could you expect from her?” they would say, snapping shut their fans.

Relief washed through Becca, nonetheless. This was merely the old gossip, not the new rumors.

“Some of you thought Mr. Parcell was just another smuggler.” The pastor’s voice boomed.

A few in the congregation chuckled. It was illegal to sell food to the British in New York – the “London Trade” some called it — but most turned a blind eye. Even Patriots need hard currency to live, Becca recalled Philip saying.

“He only married her for the dowry,” Mrs. Huber hissed.

Becca’s hand curved into a fist.

Augusta cleared her throat, and Becca forced herself to relax.

“Perhaps some of you thought Mr. Parcell was still a Tory,” the minister said.

The chuckling died.

“He came to his senses, though. He was, after all, one of us,” Minister Townsend continued.

One of us. Invitations from the finer families had trickled away after Philip’s death.

“We all know his story,” Townsend continued. “He smuggled whiskey into New York City. And what a perfect disguise his aristocratic roots provided.” The minister lifted his nose in the air as if mimicking a dandy.
“The British thought he was one of them, at least until the end.” The minister’s voice swooped as if telling a story around a campfire. “He brought home information about the British troops in the City.”

Becca shifted on the bench. She hadn’t known about her husband’s bravery until after his death. It had baffled her. Philip never spoke of politics.

Townsend lifted one finger to his chin as if he had a new thought. “But who told the British where Mr. Parcell would be on the day he was captured? Who told the Redcoats that Mr. Parcell was a spy for independence?”

Becca forgot to breathe. He wouldn’t dare.

“It must have been someone who knew him well.” The minister’s gaze moved slowly through the congregation and came to rest on Becca. His eyes were the color of creosote, dark and burning. “Very, very well.”
Mrs. Coddington, who sat to Becca’s left, pulled the hem of her black silk gown close to avoid contact. Men in the front pews swiveled and stared.

“I would never. I didn’t.” Becca’s corset gouged her ribcage.

“Speak up, Mrs. Parcell. We can’t hear you,” the minister said in a singsong voice.

Townsend might as well strip her naked before the entire town. Respectable women didn’t speak in public. He means to humiliate me.

“Stand up, Mrs. Parcell.” His voice boomed. “We all want to hear.”

She didn’t remember standing. But there she was, the fingers of her right hand curled as it held the hunting bow she’d used since she was a child. Becca turned back to the minister. “Hogwash.” If they didn’t think she was a lady, she need not act like one. “Your independence is a wickedly unfair thing if it lets you accuse me without proof.”

Gasps cascaded throughout the darkening church.

From the balcony, where slaves and servants sat, she heard two coughs, explosive as gun fire. She twisted. Carl scowled down at her in warning. His white halo of hair, fine as duckling feathers, seemed to stand on end. He had worked for her father and helped to raise her. He had taught her numbers and mathematics. She couldn’t remember life without him.

“Accuse? Accuse you of what, Mrs. Parcell?” The minister opened his arms to the congregation. “What have we accused you of?”

Becca didn’t feel the chill now. “Of killing my husband. If this is what your new nation stands for – neighbors accusing neighbors, dividing us with lies – I’ll have none of it. “Five years into this endless war, is anyone better off for Congress’ Declaration of Independence? Independence won’t pay for food. It won’t bring my husband home.”

It was as if she’d burst into flames. “What has the war brought any of us? Heartache, is all. Curse your independence. Curse you for ….”

Augusta yanked on Becca’s gown with such force that she teetered, then rocked back onto the bench.

The church erupted in shouts, a crashing wave of sound meant to crush her.

Becca’s breath came in short puffs. What had she done?

“Now that’s just grief speaking, gentlemen. Mrs. Parcell is still mourning her husband. No need to get worked up.” The voice rose from the front row. She recognized Thomas Lockwood’s slow, confident drawl.
She craned her neck to watch Thomas, with his wheat-colored hair and wide shoulders. His broad stance reminded her of a captain at the wheel. He was a gentleman, a friend of General Washington. They’ll listen to him, she thought.

“Our minister doesn’t mean to accuse Mrs. Parcell of anything, now do you, sir?”

The two men stared at each other. A minister depended on the good will of gentlemen like Thomas Lockwood.
The pastor blinked first. He shook his head.

Becca’s breathing slowed.

“There now. As I said.” Lockwood’s voice calmed the room.

Then Mr. Baldwin stood slowly. Wrinkles crisscrossed his cheeks. He’d sent his three boys to fight with the Continental Army in ’75. Only one body came home to be buried. The other two were never found. He pointed at Becca with fingers twisted by arthritis. “Mrs. Parcell didn’t help when the women raised money for the soldiers last month.”

A woman at the end of Becca’s pew sobbed quietly. It was Mrs. Baldwin.

“You didn’t invite me.” Becca searched the closed faces for proof that someone believed her.

“Is she on our side or theirs?” another woman called.

The congregation quieted again. But it was the charged silence between two claps of thunder, and the Assembly waited for a fresh explosion in the dim light of the tired winter afternoon.

With that, Augusta’s imperious voice sliced through the silence: “Someone help my daughter-in-law. She’s not well. I believe she’s about to faint.”

Becca might be rash, but she wasn’t stupid, and she knew a command when she heard one. She shut her eyes and fell gracelessly into the aisle. Her head and shoulder thumped against the rough pine floorboards.

Mrs. Coddington gasped. So did Becca, from the sharp pain in her cheek and shoulder.

Women in the surrounding rows scooted back in surprise, their boots shuffling with a shh-shh sound.

“Lady Augusta,” Mrs. Coddington huffed.

Independence be damned. All of Morristown seemed to enjoy using Augusta’s family title, her former title, as often as possible.

“Lady Augusta,” she repeated. “I’ve had my suspicions about that girl since the day she married your son. I don’t know why you haven’t sent her back to her people.”

“She has no ‘people,’ Mrs. Coddington. She has me,” Augusta’s voice was as frosty as the air in the church. “And if I had doubts about Rebecca, do you think I’d live with her?”

Becca imagined Augusta’s raised eyebrows, her delicate lifted chin. She couldn’t have borne it if her mother-in-law believed the minister’s lies.

Augusta’s featherlight touch stroked her forehead. “Well done,” she murmured. “Now rise slowly. And don’t lean on me. I might just topple over.”

“We are eager to hear the rest of the service on this Sabbath day, Minister Townsend. Do continue,” Thomas Lockwood called.

Becca stood, her petite mother-in-law’s arm around her waist. The parishioners at the edges of the aisles averted their eyes as the two women passed.

As they stepped into the stark, brittle daylight, one last question shred the silence they left behind: “Do you think she turned her husband over to the British?”

Someone else answered. “It must be true. Everyone says so.

***

Excerpt from The Turncoat’s Widow by Mally Becker. Copyright 2021 by Mally Becker. Reproduced with permission from Mally Becker. All rights reserved.

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Author Bio:

Mally Becker

Mally Becker is a writer whose historical suspense novel, The Turncoat’s Widow, will be published in February 2021 by Level Best Books. She was born in Brooklyn and began her professional career in New York City as a publicist and freelance magazine writer, then moved on, becoming an attorney and, later, an advocate for children in foster care.

As a volunteer, she used her legal background to create a digest of letters from US Supreme Court Justices owned by the Morristown National Park. That’s where she found a copy of an indictment for the Revolutionary War crime of traveling from New Jersey to New York City “without permission or passport.” It led her to the idea for her story.

​A winner of the Leon B. Burstein/MWA-NY Scholarship for Mystery Writing, Mally lives with her husband in the wilds of New Jersey where they hike, kayak, look forward to visits from their son, and poke around the region’s historical sites.

Catch Up With Mally Becker On:
www.MallyBecker.com
Goodreads
BookBub
Instagram – @mallybeckerwrites
Twitter – @mally_becker
Facebook – Mally Baumel Becker

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Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Mally Becker. There will be Five (5) winners for this tour. One winner will receive a $20. Amazon.com Gift Card, Two (2) winners will each win a physical copy of The Turncoat’s Widow by Mally Becker (U.S. addresses only), and Two (2) winners will each win an eBook copy of The Turncoat’s Widow by Mally Becker. The giveaway begins on February 22, 2021 and runs through March 21, 2021.
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#CoverReveal “Dogs of DevTown” by Taylor Hohulin

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Cyberpunk, Science Fiction

Date Published: April 16, 2021

Welcome to DevTown.

In this city, holo ads lumber like neon giants seeking advertising targets. Men and women pop Oracle tabs in search of relief or enlightenment or both. Creatures of unknown origin stalk the darkest alleys. In the center of it all, NexDev Tower looms over the city, home to hundreds of floors of top-secret research.

And in its shadow, Shan Hayes kills people for money.

Rejecting the mechanical enhancements so popular in DevTown, Shan needs only two things: The resynth serum that can reshape her body’s entire cellular structure, and her hand-cannon containing a sentient parasite capable of converting her blood into weaponized wasps.

As a hired gun for various crime syndicates, there’s little of the city’s underbelly Shan hasn’t encountered. But when a longtime business associate hires her to track down an underling who’s vanished into the neon night, Shan finds DevTown still holds secrets more deadly and terrifying than anything she could imagine.

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About The Author


Taylor Hohulin is a radio personality by morning, a science fiction author by afternoon, and asleep by 9:30. He is the author of The Marian Trilogy, Tar, Your Best Apocalypse Now, and other genre-bending stories. He lives in West Des Moines, Iowa with his wife, where they are owned by two cats and a dog.

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#Excerpt “Dark Secrets of the Bayou” by Kim Carter

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Mystery, Suspense

 

Date Published: November 2020

Publisher: Raven South Publishing

Catherine “Tink” Mabrey, an up and coming attorney, is shocked by her recent inheritance from her estranged family on the bayou. After her mother died during childbirth, Tink’s father had quickly relocated them to the big city of Atlanta, Georgia. With no memory of her mother, she is determined to learn more about her lineage and decides to visit the bayou town of Kane, Louisiana. Candace, Tink’s co-worker and best friend, agrees to make the trip with her.

Before she has time to explore her family’s history, or decide what to do with the declining property, local murders plague Tink’s homecoming. She quickly finds herself caught in the middle of a multiple murder investigation – and quite possibly, the prime suspect. When Candace retreats back to Atlanta, Tink, with the support of an unlikely cast of characters, sets out to discover clues that have haunted and tormented her family for generations.

Could a concealed crime from the 1800’s, or the family’s estate itself, harbor keys to unlocking the past? The more they learn, the more they question whether some secrets are best left buried.

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Other Books By Kim Carter:

 

Sweet Dreams, Baby Belle (2017)

Murder Among The Tombstones (2017)

No Second Chances (2017)

Deadly Odds (2018)

And The Forecast Called For Rain (2018)

When Dawn Never Comes (2018)

Amazon

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KANE, LOUISIANA, 1859


EMMANUEL SINCLAIR STOOD BACK and surveyed the sprawling plantation that had encompassed his life for the past two years. He nodded with pleasure as if someone were there awaiting his approval. Placed perfectly amidst rows of river oaks, magnolias, and sycamores, the estate was breathtakingly beautiful. The well-designed landscape surrounding the home contrasted sharply with the bald cypress and coastal willows rising prominently from the waters in the bayou.

Emmanuel had no doubt, Lucretia, his soon-to-be bride, would be delighted with her stately new home. Within the next twenty-four hours, she was scheduled to go by train from Baltimore to the Ohio River.

Lucretia would then travel by steamboat via the Ohio and the Mississippi to New Orleans, where Emmanuel would be waiting for her. Lucretia’s trip would be grueling, but she’d experienced many challenges over her eighteen years. Her grandparents had been part of the Expulsion of 1755 when the British ejected all French-Acadians refusing to pledge allegiance to the King of England. Originally settling in Maine, her family relocated to New York before putting down permanent stakes in Baltimore.

Young Lucretia longed for consistency, and it had been Emmanuel’s stability that’d won her over. By the age of thirty-five, he’d already made his fortune in the cotton business. His father had died seven years earlier, leaving Emmanuel a sizeable concession of land and a fledgling cotton crop, which, at best, kept the plantation self-sufficient. But it was the combination of Emmanuel’s business savvy, the increase of cotton production, and Louisiana’s strategic ports that’d quickly increased his wealth.

AS EMMANUEL HAD BEEN STEADILY BUILDING a prosperous empire, Thaddeus Jackson had been constructing a flourishing kingdom of his own, on an equally expansive plantation a few miles away. Thaddeus had his father, Mathias, to thank for being born a free man of color. He had caught Andrew Jackson’s eye as a standout on the battlefield during the War of 1812. His grueling work ethic and leadership skills played pivotal in constructing breastworks, later referred to as Line Jackson.

Thaddeus had quickly tired of the story, even as a young boy, and considered his father nothing more than a yes-man who’d covered cotton bales with logs and mud to protect the white army. However, Andrew Jackson had been quite impressed— enough so, in fact, that he’d facilitated Mathias’s freedom. Not one to take any blessing for granted, Mathias had chosen to acquire Jackson’s surname out of gratitude.

Thaddeus had found much to dislike about his father, but he’d inherited many of his most admirable traits. He was a powerful leader and quick learner with a sense of adventure. These characteristics had led to his success as a Mississippi River privateer. His tall frame and good looks didn’t hinder him either. Both his appearance and self-confidence had also captured Fatima Lambert’s attention.

Fatima came with quite the story of her own. With a shortage of white women in the state of Louisiana and laws forbidding interracial marriage, the institution of plaçage enabled her to be a mistress to the very wealthy, and incredibly old, William Lambert. She’d been merely a teenager when he’d spotted her working his fields and had quickly arranged for her to be a kept woman.

Accustomed to hard labor and the unrelenting heat, she hadn’t objected to being at his beck and call and his bed when he’d insisted. Fortunately for Fatima, she’d only had to suffer through a few sessions of his sexual desires before he’d dropped dead of a heart attack at the ripe age of seventy-eight.

With William being a childless widower and having no other heirs with whom to split his fortune, Fatima had become the proud owner of not only his cotton plantation but his slaves as well. It wasn’t her attractiveness as a mulatto that’d lured Thaddeus to pursue Fatima; it’d been her property and the glorious cotton fields that promised a lifetime of financial security. Once he’d set his sights on her, there was little Fatima could do but concede to his advances. After all, who wouldn’t want a bright, handsome husband to take care of things?

A RABBIT SCURRIED beneath some underbrush, drawing Emmanuel’s attention to the cool, damp breeze and dark clouds promising an impending storm. He walked to the front porch, paused long enough to grab his oil lamp, and made his way inside. Emmanuel hesitated briefly to take in the magnificence of the grand staircase winding its way, like an ornate ribbon, up to the second and third floors. One of his slaves, who’d been trained as a blacksmith, had spent the past few months creating it, and he hadn’t disappointed.

It would surely take Lucretia’s breath away. Aside from a bed and some office necessities, the remaining furnishings would be left to Lucretia’s desires. Yet another of Emmanuel’s wedding gifts to her. Although it was midday, and the many windows gave way to ample light, thunder clouds had begun to darken the home’s interior. Emmanuel made his way up the stairs, down the corridor leading to the west wing, and entered his office. He slid the mantel a smidgen to the left.

This released the mechanism holding the entire faux fireplace intact, enabling him to unlock the steel door leading to an array of complex tunnels, and ultimately, his concealed vault. THIS WAS where the lives of two greedy and shrewd businessmen merged.

This was the beginning of a tale older than time, filled with greed, lust, superstition, and murderous secrets they’d both take to their graves.

It was a story meant to be locked away forever…

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About The Author

Kim Carter is an author of suspense, mystery and thriller novels. She was a finalist in the 2018 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award and recipient of the 2017 Readers’ Choice Award for her book Murder Among The Tombstones. This is the first book in her Clara and Iris Mystery series. The characters in this series are a couple of overly curious widows who become private investigators and were inspired by Kim’s mother and her mom’s best friend.

Her other titles include: When Dawn Never Comes, Deadly Odds, No Second Chances, And The Forecast Called For Rain, and Sweet Dreams, Baby Belle.

Kim’s writing career started after she suffered an illness that made her housebound for a couple of years. An avid reader of mystery novels, she embarked on writing as a means of filling her time. Kim shared those early writings with friends and family who encouraged her to pursue writing professionally. Her health struggles and successes have been chronicled on The Lifetime Television in early 2000, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Women’s Day Magazine, and Guideposts.

Prior to her illness, Kim worked in many different capacities in county government ranging from Park Director with Parks and Recreation to the Grant Department with Human Services. But, ultimately, it was her job as a correctional officer that provided her the opportunity to interact with a variety of people from all walks of life. Her experiences ran the gamete of inspiring success stories to tragic endings, much like her mysteries.

She self-published her first book No Second Chances. One of the guest speakers at the launch party she had at the Performing Arts Center in Newnan, Georgia included her close friend retired Atlanta Police chief Eldrin Bell. This connection would become helpful as she started doing more research for other books, this time working with a small publishing house.

Kim started networking and made connections with the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office. Her research has taken her many places including morgues, death row and the occasional midnight visit to cemeteries.

She is a college graduate of Saint Leo University, has a Bachelor Degree of Arts in Sociology. Kim and her husband have three grown children and live just outside of Atlanta, Georgia.

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#CoverReveal “Edge of Fear (Arrow’s Edge MC, #4)” by Freya Barker

Title: Edge Of Fear (Arrow’s Edge MC, #4)

Author: Freya Barker

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release Date: May 3, 2021

Image: Golden Czermak (Furious Fotog)

Model: Scott Benton

Hosted by: Buoni Amici Press, LLC.

 

Ink and sawdust meets brisket and moxie
I’m a tattooed casualty.
A charmer, a fraud, a skeptic, and a carpenter.
My name is Tse.
I’m cocky enough to believe my own lies, but too oblivious to see the truth is already out there.
I’m a cautious perfectionist.
A sister, a scrapper, a dreamer, and a workhorse.
My name is Sophia.
I’m capable enough to plan ahead, yet too powerless to avoid getting blindsided.
We’re complete opposites—one who plays it safe, the other a thrill-seeker—but when old sins resurface bringing violence to the present, our path forward becomes clear.

Tweet: Check out the #CoverReveal for @freya_barker Latest book in the Arrow's MC series Edge of Fear HERE>> https://ctt.ec/4mKab+ Start the Series @Amazon https://ctt.ec/3ELp1+ #KU #MCRomance #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

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