#ReleaseBlitz “The Inspector’s Daughter and the Maid” by Marlene F. Cheng

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Women’s fiction, Historical romance fiction

Date Published: August 30, 2022

 

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The Inspector’s Daughter and The Maid is a moving and delightful blend of
historical and speculative romance fiction.

The foundations of traditional structures reveal themselves to be no longer stone, but sand, and in the hearts of The Inspector’s Daughter and the Maid some natural ease gets broken, and their trust in a promising future loses
its innocence
.

In the severance of winds, beyond their wildest dreams, possibilities are awakened.

Which one will win the heart of the wealthy merchant’s son – the Music
Teacher?

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Excerpt

It’s the city of Delft, the capital of the Dutch Republic, sometime in the mid-17th century. Nowhere in Delft is far from water. It’s a small city of canals, overflowing with humanity that ripples over a few acres and out the city gates into the low-lying farmland and to Oospoort, the city’s opening to the North Sea and to the world. To place it, a brisk morning’s walk will get you north to Hague, the centre of the Netherland’s government and courts. It’s a carriage ride to Amsterdam. The Reformation and a changed Christian practice may have been the instigator. But the foundations of traditional structures, of not only religion, but consequently, also of community and family, revealed themselves to be no longer stone, but sand. If this crumbling and the confusion it caused wasn’t happening, The Inspector’s Daughter and the Maid’s story may never have been told. The society, however, was not infrangible, and these juffrouwen were ripe. The social changes that were birthing, sprung from mindfulness towards humanity. Small incremental steps. No giant leaps. That’s what was best for the greater good. Seeds that consequence stories can be planted by previous generations, and, indeed, such is the case here. The mother of one of the girls was the progenitor. Thus, the story begins with her.

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About the Author

Marlene Cheng is a Maincrest Media and a Book Excellence award-winning author of women’s fiction. Her books are about the relationships that define women’s lives–romance, friendship, and family. Marlene is a keen observer of how people think and feel, and she writes lyrical, uplifting, and
emotionally rich stories.

What is being said: “Today’s best up-and-coming fiction writer.”–Publishers Daily Reviews.

“Marlene writes with great facility. Her writing is intelligent: her prose is poetic.”–Dr. David

Yeung MBBS FRCPC (certified psychiatrist). “A fantastic journey that takes readers to the innermost corners of the human heart.”–Reader’s Favorites.

Marlene was prairie-born, farm-raised, and now lives among the old-growth pine and cedar, overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the West Coast of Canada.

 

Contact Links

Website

Twitter

Facebook

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Purchase Links

Kindle Unlimited

Amazon

Amazon CA

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RABT Book Tours & PR

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#BookTour “Year Zero (Revolution’s Children Book 1)” by David Dean Lugo

Welcome to the book tour for the first installment in David Dean Lugo’s Revolution’s Children series, Year Zero! Read on for more info!

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Year Zero (Revolution’s Children Book 1)

Publication Date: May 24th, 2022

Genre: YA Dystopian

A thrilling new YA dystopian novel has dark parallels to a conceivable future America.

It’s been two years since the establishment of the brutal dictatorship The Incorporated Precincts of America and its governing Board and CEO, as well as the death of the old America. Sixteen-year-old Joey Cryer has two missions: to keep their six-year-old sister, Julia, safe, and to not die.

America first. America last. America always. This is the vow that the CEO leader of the IPA—The Incorporated Precincts of America—pledges to his suffering citizens. With violent protests breaking out in every city, attacks against immigrants, and the national crisis of the Capitol Event, young Joey must keep their vigilance in staying clear of the IPA’s ever-watching Sons of Liberty—its ruthless police force—to avoid becoming “disappeared” with his little sister. This means not maligning the governing body, The Corporation, with any thought, word, or action, or else suffer the consequence. One such sanction for disobeying citizens is being forced on to the required viewing television show “Manhunt,” where they fight for their lives against the Sons, upholding The Corporation’s domination over society.

Two years earlier, before the Second Revolution ended and before the election, Joey’s biggest concern was sitting at the right cafeteria table at his high school or if the girl they liked liked them back. Avoiding the school bully, Harlan Grundy, was always a plus, and so was not getting pummeled. So, it was no big surprise that Harlan became a Son, loyal to The Corporation and carrying out their dirty deeds to keep citizens in check and in fear. The only correct response to a Son? Everything is goodly.

Having lost everything in the revolution’s aftermath, Joey takes an unfathomable risk by helping the near-dead leader of the rebellion, John Doe. Having anything to do with Doe will skip you right past penalties and sanctions all the way to the death penalty, not only for you, but for anyone you love. And yet Joey’s sole mission is keep Julia safe until they can secretly escape to freedom. To do so, they finds they have an unlikely partner in a recently betrayed Harlan. Trusting their former enemy may be the only way to ensure their future—but is it worth the risk for Joey, Julia, and his community?

Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

No law respecting the established religion, prohibiting its free and compulsory practice, may be passed. All citizens free or otherwise are responsible for their speech, as is the press. The Board may sanction the people or the press should they choose to malign The Corporation or its representatives in print, thought, word, or action.

—First Amendment, Constitution Incorporated Precincts of America

A hand grabs my shoulder, and I know I’m screwed. The flickering light from the Jumbotron across the street dispels the concealing darkness. What was I thinking trying to sneak my way across town square after dark? I pull my hat lower, hoping that he won’t recognize me.

Especially if curfew has started.

Dan and Katie are starting the Manhunt preshow on the Jumbotron, which isn’t a good sign. Manhunt rarely starts before seven.

My mouth is dry, and my heart’s hammering fills my ears. It’s the fight-or-flight response kicking in big time. Except in my case, it’s the flight-and-still-get-pommeled response.

Even knowing how it will end, I still think about running.

Just for a second.

Old habits die hard.

I move my eyes to the hand, hoping it’s not covered by a white glove. Crap. It is. So, the he attached to the hand isn’t a regular cop. A cop will just shake me down and let me go. But not this guy.

He’s a Son of Liberty.

I’m surprised he hasn’t shot me yet. They usually do. I mean, it’s kinda their go-to move. I glance from his glove to his face.

I silence a scream. This guy isn’t any old Son. He’s Harlan Grundy. That name alone makes most kids cry. Always has.

Harlan’s been bullying kids since the old days, back when we still lived in a place called the USA. By the time The Corporation ran things and changed the name to The Incorporated Precincts of America, or IPA, Harlan had transformed bullying into an art form. I mean, watching him terrorize a kid is like watching Michelangelo turn a hunk of stone into a statue. Pure artistry.

Unless you’re the rock.

All the Sons are big, but Harlan’s bigger. Not like Schwarzenegger big. It’s more natural. Like a gorilla. Most let his stocky form, with its squashed nose, thick fingers, and stubby legs, fool them. But he possessed a speed unheard of, even among Olympic athletes.

And I, underneath this big ass coat, am just a scrawny sixteen-year-old. Exercise and me are not the best of friends. I mean, we wave when we pass by in the halls. Unless running from Harlan counts. Because if it does, I’m a gold medalist.

Okay, maybe a bronze because he always catches me.

“Hold it, citizen,” he says loud enough for me to hear over the Jumbotron’s droning voices. That is quite a feat since they always have it turned up to like a million.

Wait. Citizen?

He doesn’t recognize me.

He says something, but Dan speaks over him from the Jumbotron. “We’ll be back after this message.”

A second later, tolling bells replace his smug voice, sounding out the half hour. I glance at the screen, hoping it says six thirty. Instead, a robotic voice says, “The time is now seven thirty. Curfew is in effect.”

I’m doubly screwed.

After curfew, you get arrested or worse, unless you’re on official IPA business. It won’t take anyone more than one look to know I’m not. And Harlan’s fists and I have known each other since I was eight, and he was eleven. It’s only a matter of time until his dim brain dusts off the cobwebs and the first faint itch of recognition dawns on him.

If he doesn’t shoot me, which I doubt, I have two simple choices left. But I won’t get to choose. Instead, an Inquisitor will decide between sending me to a Liberty Camp or inducting me into the army.

The second is most likely. They’re drafting more people every day. Younger and younger too. I mean, except for like Ward Commanders, Inquisitors, and Auditors, the whole Corporation is getting younger. I guess they figure the young don’t have as much attachment to the way things were.

The CEO says we’re winning the war, and the extra troops are for the last push into Ottawa. But I’ve heard the rumors. Who hasn’t?

Some say Mexico, Canada’s ally, has won ground in the Southwest. Others say the early winter weather has paralyzed our troops in Ontario and Alaska. What’s happening in Europe is anyone’s guess.

So, whatever the Inquisitor decides, it’s better if Harlan shoots me.

Usually, I’m home before curfew, but I had forgotten it’s earlier now. That’s thanks to the Does—John and Jane Doe—and their rebels blowing up stuff. Last Tuesday, the day most Sons get their rations, they blew up the rationing center. Now, the rest of us are still living off our last pitiful portion.

Movies make rebellion seem exciting and heroic. I guess it is, fighting oppression or whatever. But from where I sit, trying to get by and staying off The Corporation’s radar, it’s terrifying. It doesn’t help people like me. Maybe it will someday, but I’m not holding my breath.

I burrow deeper into my father’s coat, trying to avoid eye contact. The coat must be the only reason Harlan hasn’t recognized me. There’s no point in trying to hide the bag of contraband I’m holding.

I mean, it’s right there.

Besides, it’s just dumb cans of stupid beef stew I bought at the black market. E-rations don’t hardly give anyone enough food. So, most people, leastways those who can afford it, turn to the black market. Even Block Watch Commanders like Harlan.

It’s not totally the Does fault, though. Food, at least the unpowdered kind, was scarce even before they blew up the rationing center. The troops passing through on their way north to the wall, took most of what we had. They didn’t bother leaving much for us citizens.

I’m not sweating the stew, though. I expect he’ll “impound” it. I’m more worried that what’s stuffed into my belt will spill out. If it does, he’ll definitely shoot me.

He’s eyeing the bag though. His mouth might even be watering. We both stand there, playing our weird freeze tag while waiting for the stupid bell to stop tolling.

As soon as it does, Harlan says, “You’re behind curfew, citizen. Slice me the stew, and I won’t donate a one.”

Ugh. Slanguage.

It takes me a moment to translate his words to regular English. If I give him the stew, he won’t give me a class one penalty. I can’t speak because he’ll recognize my voice, so I nod. Kneeling, I set the bag down and take off.

I don’t look back.

You never look back.

If you do, they might see your face, connect it to a list of subversives, rebels, or whatever list you didn’t know you were on.

I’m two blocks away before a grin spreads across my face. Dumbass Harlan was so preoccupied by the bag that he didn’t notice the cans crammed in my pockets.

I decide to go home through the woods. It’s longer and a thousand percent spookier, but it has more cover. Plus, The Corporation hasn’t put cameras in the forest. At least not yet anyway. That might change if they suspect the squirrels of treason.

Plus, Harlan lives two houses away from me. If he’s heading home, it’s worth the extra twenty-minute walk to avoid him.

I trudge along. I can’t see a thing in the inky blackness. Everything is a muddied silhouette, and I don’t want to trip on something and break my neck. I used to find the sounds of leaves crunching under my feet satisfying. But I don’t anymore.

They just tell the Sons or the rebel squirrels where you are.

My breath comes quick now. Heart racing. It’s my anxiety getting the better of me. I don’t bother fighting it because I’m too busy cursing myself. If Harlan is out on patrol, he’s nowhere near his house. Then again, it might be dumb luck that we ran into each other.

Either way, I don’t really care right now because I’m sure Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers has spotted my dumbass alone in the woods. I stop for a second, but the sound of crunching leaves doesn’t.

A twig snaps.

I turn.

A half-naked figure lunges from the darkness, falling to the ground.

I almost scream.

A man lies motionless. I get a little closer and notice he’s covered in blood. Against my better judgment, I turn him over. A few holes leak his blood.

Someone shot him.

The only people with guns these days are Sons or rebels. Which means they’re probably out searching for him. That thought alone makes me nope my sorry ass out of the woods as fast as I can.

I emerge, unharassed by either rebel squirrels or a fictional slasher, near the non-Harlan end of my block. My breath comes in short, panicked gasps. I’m more than a little embarrassed by how fast I’m moving down the block.

I turn the corner. My house blazes bright in the frigid night. It’s almost enough to chase away the harsh twilight glow from the screens on the telephone poles.

Julia, my little sister hates being alone, but she isn’t right now. Unless Winnie’s wandered off again. She has turned on every light, which means he probably did. The Sons don’t pay him much mind, so he’ll be okay. Hopefully, she hasn’t used up our electricity ration for the month.

I linger in the driveway, eyes darting. I need to make sure I wasn’t followed.

An angry orange flower of fire blooms over the nearby hills. Must be the rebels blowing something up or being blown up themselves. Either way, a bunch of people are dead. A tenth of a second later, a dull roar reaches my ears, and everything shakes.

Every porch light in the neighborhood blinks on, and people spill out from their houses, scurrying around like angry ants. A few have wide eyes, their O-shaped mouths gulping the chilly night air. Which reminds me of the fish that Dad and I used to catch. Others just sigh, wringing their hands. A few look furious.

I’ve lived here for like forever and recognize everyone.

That is everyone except the young man with the neat dark hair walking along the walkway in front of the house next door. His hands are in his pockets, posture crisp but relaxed.

I do a double take because I didn’t expect to see anyone coming from there. It and the house across the street have stood vacant since the Perrys and the Youngs disappeared a year ago. He might be a zig though.

Zig is short for zigzag. They’re the people who refuse to go along with The Corporation but won’t join the resistance either. So, they zigzag between the two opposing forces that shape the IPA. They usually come in small groups, no more than four. There’s not a lot of them. At least as far as anyone can tell. Anyway, neither side likes them much, and both will see them wiped out just as soon. Which is why, if he is a zig, he certainly wouldn’t be so careless and let everyone know where he lives.

He might be a rebel. They sometimes hunker down in vacant buildings. That thought both excites and frightens me.

As he draws closer, there’s no mistaking this man for a zig or a rebel. He wears a suit, but the distant flames give everything a crimson tone, so I can’t tell what color it is. Something on his jacket flickers. He reaches the end of the walkway, and I notice that the light glints off a bunch of Corporation commendation pins on his lapel.

At first, he acknowledges no one as he crosses his arms and stares straight ahead. He appears calm, but his breath comes in peculiar fits like he’s out of breath but doesn’t want anyone to know. Maybe he’s asthmatic? I don’t know. His eyes don’t watch the distant flames like everyone else; they’re watching the streetlights.

Something glistens on his forehead like sweat, but the night is cold, so that’s impossible. He appears to sense me gawking and gives me a nod.

By reflex, I wave.

Another fireball blossoms, this one almost bright enough to read by. The windows rattle from the blast. The neighborhood lights blink a few times before going out. Someone screams as we’re plunged into a weird twilight of flickering screens since those never stop.

I swear Pinman smirks.

A second later, old Doc Salazar asks, “Do you think it’s the Canadians?”

That isn’t as silly as it sounds, since if you’re lucky enough to own a car, it’s like three hours to the border.

“Nah. I bet it’s the Does and the rebels,” Mr. Taylor replies.

Everyone stares at him for a moment. Calling the Does rebels is against the law.

“You mean terrorists,” a throaty unfamiliar voice—my new neighbor—says.

“Yes, y-yes,” Mr. Taylor stammers. He probably noticed every commendation on Pinman’s jacket. He chuckles nervously, running a hand across the back of his neck.

I don’t want to call attention to myself, but Taylor was my dad’s fishing buddy. I can’t count the number of times that the Taylors shared a meal with us after a good day on the lake.

A familiar voice breaks the uncomfortable silence. “Mr. Taylor is scaredly is all. He’s not trying to be outside the box.”

I look around, trying to find who spoke. For some reason, everyone’s staring at me like I punched a nun or something.

Well, everyone except Taylor. He’s got a grateful smile pasted on his stupid round face. The looks confirm my growing suspicion. The voice was familiar because it’s mine.

Pinman doesn’t reply, just cocks his head.

“Well, um, good night, sir,” Mr. Taylor croaks as he scurries back inside his house.

A second later, the loudspeakers atop every telephone pole on the block crackle to life. On the screens, a severe looking yet appealing middle-aged woman appears with her hair wrapped tight around her head. Everything can go dark but not PR Polly, the voice of The Corporation.

There’s a whine of feedback, and Polly stares with a Mona Lisa smile on her lips, waiting for it to pass. It fades to a crackling static and clears.

Her familiar, faintly British voice sounds out. “Return to your homes. All is goodly. We have the situation under control.” As always, she adds the Corporate slogan. “America first. America last. America always.”

Another squeal of feedback sounds out. Dan and Katie return to the screens, laughing about the ratings bonanza it’ll be when the real Does are caught and put on Manhunt. But since Manhunt is required viewing, ratings are a bonanza every day anyway. I’m also not sure how we’d know if they’re the real Does. I mean, every time they think they’ve got them, it turns out they’re regular rebels.

No one even knows what the Does look like.

A weird sensation tingles my leg. It’s my phone vibrating in my pocket. I put aside my stray thoughts for now as I fish it out.

“What did you think of this Realnews brief” flashes on the screen. Underneath, like always, are two emoji:

a smiley one,

and a frowning one.

I tap the smiley face to show that I loved it. No one clicks the other one anymore. Well, no one without a death wish.

Soft clicking echoes around me as my neighbors do the same. By the time I’m done, they’re scurrying back into their homes. I guess they’ve all realized it’s after curfew, so we are all technically criminals right now.

Pinman still stands there with his arms crossed, staring at me. I try not to meet his gaze and mumble something about how my little sister is waiting for dinner inside.

In the distance, sirens blare. A lot of them. All isn’t goodly. I sense the stranger watching me as I walk into my house.

I don’t look back.

You never look back.

Available on Amazon

Kindle Unlimited

About the Author

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Author David Dean Lugo often gets ideas for his stories by wondering what if? In his new young adult dystopian novel, Year Zero, he probed this when writing about a future fascist America run by a governing body called The Corporation and its CEO. Lugo believes that today’s trend of people judging one another too harshly—whether based on their political party, gender identity, or something else—is causing people to drift too far away from one another. His story explores potential extreme ramifications of this.

Lugo believes a great book is one that has believable characters that readers can identify with and relate to. He hopes his stories evoke emotion and thinking from his readers long after the book is closed.

When he isn’t writing thought-provoking YA novels, Lugo enjoys playing guitar, watching movies, playing video/board games, and hanging out with his amazing family. He lives in southwest New Hampshire with his wife Meredith, son Jacob, and their rascally Labrador/Collie mix named Astrid. Year Zero is the first volume in his The Revolution’s Children trilogy.

David Dean Lugo | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Book Tour Schedule

August 29th

R&R Book Tours (Kick-Off) http://rrbooktours.com

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

@happily_undignified (Review) https://www.instagram.com/happily_undignified/

Jonathan Pongratz (Spotlight) https://jonathanpongratz.com/

August 30th

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.com/

@gryffindorbookishnerd (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gryffindorbookishnerd/

The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

Books + Coffee = Happiness (Spotlight) https://bookscoffeehappiness.com/

@itsabookthing2021 (Spotlight) http://www.instagram.com/itsabookthing2021

August 31st

@takealookatmybookshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/takealookatmybookshelf/

@fariha_binte_islam (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/fariha_binte_islam/

The Book View (Spotlight) https://thebookview.com/

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

@fle_d (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/fle_d

Ecce! Libri! (Spotlight) https://eccelibri702630676.wordpress.com/

September 1st

@juliethebookworm (Review) https://www.instagram.com/juliethebookworm/

Bunny’s Reviews (Review) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

@booksnsnax (Spotlight) https://www.tiktok.com/@booksnsnax

Dark Whimsical Art (Spotlight) https://www.darkwhimsicalart.com/blogs/news

 September 2nd

@brandidanielledavis (Review) https://www.instagram.com/brandidanielledavis/

@bookswithstacie (Review) https://www.instagram.com/bookswithstacie/

@amber.bunch_author (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/amber.bunch_author/

@allpagesandcoffee  (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/allpagesandcoffee/

Cocktails & Fairytales (Spotlight) https://www.facebook.com/CocktailsFairytales

 

 

Book Tour Organized By:

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R&R Book Tours

#BookTour “The Damned Lovely” by Adam Frost

August 29 – September 23, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

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Synopsis:

 

“She wasn’t pretty but she was ours…”

Sandwiched between seedy businesses in the scorching east LA suburb of Glendale, The Damned Lovely dive bar is as scarred as its regulars: ex-cops, misfits and loners. And for Sam Goss, it’s a refuge from the promising life he’s walked away from, a place to write and a hole to hide in.

But when a beautiful and mysterious new patron to the bar turns up murdered, Sam can’t stop himself from getting involved. Despite their fleeting interaction, or perhaps because of it, something about her ghost won’t let go…

Armed with the playbook from the burned-out ex-cops, Sam challenges the police’s theory on the killing, butting heads with hardened detectives and asking questions nobody wants to answer. As his obsession takes hold so does his sense of purpose—as if uncovering the truth about the killer might heal some part of his own broken life. But the chase sets him on a collision course with a crooked charity, violent fundamentalists, corrupt cops, brazen embezzlers and someone dangerously close to home—all who want to make sure the truth never comes out.

Praise for The Damned Lovely:

The Damned Lovely is the LA crime story born anew, an addictive mystery and a love letter to the careworn and forgotten places of Los Angeles—Los Angeles as it is right now. Adam Frost is a crime writer with a sharp new voice, telling a tale about the one thing everyone in Los Angeles has: desire. Desire for truth, for justice, for love, or maybe just a place to call home. Highly recommended.”

Jordan Harper, Edgar Award-winning author of She Rides Shotgun

“Frost’s crackling debut novel belongs on the shelf right next to Joseph Wambaugh and Michael Connelly. Crisp prose. An intricate plot worthy of Raymond Chandler, packed with scruffy, lovable, and lived-in characters that leap off the page. Frost brings a fresh voice and much-needed new blood to LA crime fiction.”

Will Beall, author of L.A. Rex and creator of CBS’s Training Day

“An unputdownable and suspenseful whodunnit: anchored in the quandary of manifesting destiny in grief and lost opportunity.”

Blake Howard, producer and host of the One Heat Minute podcast and Film Critic

“Every bourbon-soaked sentence in this endlessly entertaining first novel proves Joseph Wambaugh dipped Adam Frost by his ankle into the L.A. river. Roll over Michael Connelly, tell Raymond Chandler the news.”

Adam Novak, author of Rat Park and Take Fountain

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Crime

Published by: Down & Out Books

Publication Date:

Number of Pages:

ISBN: 1643962531 (ISBN-13: 978-1643962535)

Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | The Down & Out Bookstore

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Read an excerpt:

I took a sip and checked my phone. Waiting for the screen to siiiing. Praying. Hoping.

She held her ground and I lost the fight.

The empty telephone. Reminding me, I had no excuses. To be in a better place. To be successful.

I was an American.

I was white.

I grew up safe and surrounded by love.

There was money for birthday parties and proper schools.

I had a college degree in communications.

I’d traveled to Southeast Asia. Seen Europe. Touched down in South Africa. I had a sweet girl who liked to cook and wanted a ring. We had an apartment in West Hollywood with good light.

I’d found a marketing gig early and wrote ad copy for seven years. Logos. Corporate promos. Internet ribbons. Microcopy drawl. Quippy garbage that paid the rent and then some.

I was on the right track.

Until I broke. Crashed the cart and pulled the plug on my world of California lies.

Staring into those smiling faces across a Doheny dinner table one night.

The masquerade of happiness.

The Instagram sham.

There was no substance. No truth. No intent for anything more than gain.

I had sealed the truth for years. Locked and bottled that depression south, convinced I could kick it. Convinced the gnaw would pass.

Things are great, I kept saying. Things are great.

But something about those faces on that very Doheny night popped the cork and shattered the glass. I called it out. I let it rip ugly. These weren’t my friends. They were assets. Nothing more.

This wasn’t love. This was compliance on rails.

I needed something pure. Something with purpose and mine all mine. That I truly adored.

So I quit the girl who liked to cook. Lost the apartment with the light and moved to Glendale. Where it was cheaper. Where there was no good light.

And worst of all. I was compelled by a force inside my bones to write something real. Something long and from the heart. Something maybe even wise.

This, more and more it seemed, may have been a grave mistake.

It was in no way working out.

Still, I refused to believe in misery. An honest rut is all. It’ll turn around soon. It has to. Because when you’re going through hell in Glendale, keep going. Right?

So. Soldier on. Live with intent and drown those voices out.

Drown. Them. Out. Soldier!

Swish. Swish.

A red Trojan alpha bro was swipin’ right at the bar. Americana run off sipping a sea breezer with a skinny lime. Slice and I shared a healthy glare of disdain when Jewels crossed behind me and nodded to stool 9.

“She’s baaaack,” Jewels cooed.

And there she was. Hiding her green eyes under a black felt fedora and a worn-out paperback of To the Lighthouse. She had dark brown hair pinned low at the back. Wore a simple tight white V-neck tee exposing that soft skin around her collarbones. She sat straight. With her legs crossed in black jeans that pinched in at her waist and exposing a band of flawless smooth lower back. She kept her face down. Never spoke to a soul beyond ordering a drink. And never looked at her phone. Not once. Not once had I seen her look at her phone. Instead, she just buried her eyes in that book. Drowning out the world with a Negroni and Woolf’s words like some kinda mystery from a different era. She’d been in four times now by my count. And it was consistent. Early in the afternoon. Same drink. Same book. Alone. Like an oasis in this godforsaken Glendale desert.

***

Excerpt from The Damned Lovely by Adam Frost. Copyright 2022 by Adam Frost. Reproduced with permission from Adam Frost. All rights reserved.

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Author Bio:

 

ADAM FROST was born and raised in Vancouver. He began as an actor, and now works as a television writer and producer, best known for the crime shows Tribal and Castle. He lives on the east side of Los Angeles. He’s also one helluva T-ball coach.

Catch Up With Adam Frost:
www.AdamFrostWrites.com
Instagram – @thedamnedlovely
Twitter – @Afrostbite23
Facebook – @adam.frost.9655

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Tour Participants:

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

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GIVEAWAY!

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Adam Frost. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

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Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours

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#BookReview “Happiness is a Thing With Wings” by Susi Osborne

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5/5 Stars!

Just before her forty-ninth birthday, Joanna Donahue is having a mid-life crisis… the crisis being all she has is a life, an existence. She’s never really lived.

She’s spent thirty years in a marriage that never should have been and almost as long in a job where she’s little more than a worker bee in a hive. The one bright spot in her life is Jack, her twenty-nine-year-old son.

While making one last try to revitalize and save her marriage, Joanna realizes it’s hopeless, and not what she wants. Dull, boring, controlling David with his anger management issues will never be the man she needs him to be. Something she’s known for thirty years. A supermarket encounter with a sexy young man and a tube of K-Y Jelly makes her even more resolute.

Joanna’s journey is emotional, and at times hilarious. It’s also painful as she analyzes the relationships in her life and has to admit to herself she was complicit in solidifying her low self-esteem, in allowing herself to be a doormat, in never standing up for herself and putting herself first.

Although there were times I wanted to give her a good shake, I liked Joanna Donahue. Short and pudgy with a fondness for gin and chocolate, when she allows her true personality out of the box, Joanna shines. She has great support from Jack, and most of the time, from her sister, Hannah, and mother, Barbara. However, they all will experience the tribulations of life during Joanna’s journey.

But it is Gavin, the sexy young man from the supermarket, who will impact her life, the most and set her on a new path.

Life-changing and traumatic events occur during the story, and the author handles them with sensitivity, a light touch, and great writing. And humor. The well-developed characters had me wanting this read to go on and on. I’m a sucker for witty comebacks and great banter, and this read delivers.

By story’s end, Joanna’s journey isn’t over, but she is transformed, no longer accepting life as it comes, but shaping it to get the most from it. All of the characters also go through transformations, and Joanna is a part of each one.

Happiness is a Thing With Wings is stellar women’s fiction and a great read.

Enjoy!

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Joanna is approaching the end of her forties and the empty nest syndrome looms. She consoles herself with gin and chocolate, realising that apart from her son Jack, she has achieved absolutely nothing in her life.

Somewhat on the plus side of plump and barely five feet tall, she finds it difficult not to envy her younger, prettier sister. Such elevated elegance seems so unfair – as does Hannah’s successful marriage. Joanna, in contrast, has remained in a loveless marriage for the past thirty years, stuck in a rut with the most miserable man on the planet but not having the impetus to get out.

It takes an embarrassing but hilarious encounter in the supermarket to make her realise what she’s been missing. It’s exactly the push she needs to make her change her life. With a little encouragement, Joanna starts to regain her independence, finally leaving her grumpy husband to enjoy life as a single woman. As she attempts to rebuild her own future, her family and friends continually surprise her with their own revelations.

Life is never dull, laughter never far away; can Joanna finally find true happiness within herself at last?

Purchase Link – https://amzn.eu/d/ftHPlMW

Amazon US – https://tinyurl.com/2fuwf2hx

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#BookTour “Fire & Ice (A Mauzzy & Me Mystery, Book 2)” by B.T. Polcari

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 A Mauzzy & Me Mystery, Book 2

Cozy Mystery, Young Adult Mystery, Mystery

Date Published: 08-15-2022

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

 

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After encountering a brief power outage at work, college student Sara Donovan might be allowing her imagination to run wild. The main vault in the Carlton Museum holds the Fire and Ice Exhibit, a collection of rare gems, including the Star of Midnight, a 175-carat diamond. Although all the stones are accounted for, Sara suspects the Star of Midnight was stolen and replaced with a fake.

While conducting her own investigation, what Sara uncovers is beyond even her wildest imagination: a coded message, papers with strange characters, and a mysterious set of numbers carved into an office wall. Despite dismissive historians and other experts, she is certain these clues point to a mysterious centuries-old legend.

Unfortunately, her colorful history of usually being right, but always being wrong, means she must solve the mystery to prove her theory.

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Mrs. Majelski

I navigated my way through the grody garage in search of my car, a daily routine for me. Parking garages always mess with me because everything looks the same. Not to mention the stench and filth. Just a fricking maze of concrete pillars and walls, with signs and arrows pointing every which way. Except the right direction for finding your car and the way out of the dang place.

After several futile minutes of searching, I hit the panic button on my key fob in hopes of my car signaling its presence. Multiple blasts of a car horn reverberated off the walls. On the other side of a stairwell, flashing lights danced on the low ceiling in perfect time with the blaring horn.

Score.

I hurried toward the flashing display of—

A sturdy voice called out from the inner recesses of the stairwell. “Hello, dear.”

I jumped sideways, stopped, and spun toward the opening. I recognized that voice.

A scratching sound followed by a metallic click and more scratching emanated from the dark void. A walker emerged from the black, a head of snowy white hair floating above it.

Peering at the ghostly image in the gloom, I called out, “Mrs. Majelski?”

The walker pushed further into the garage, and the jowly image of a very short, very old lady came into focus. Like a four-foot-eight, eighty-five-year-old lady. It was Mrs. Majelski. What the heck was she doing here? I knew her from Tuscaloosa. We met at the gym at the beginning of freshman year, where her iron-pumping, treadmill-dashing, and elliptical-cranking routines put me to shame. Zoe has always been suspicious of the mysterious octogenarian, and she’s never missed an opportunity to remind me. Never. And now Mrs. Majelski is up here? When Zoe finds out, she’ll go ballistic.

“In the flesh,” she declared.

“What…what are you…doing here?”

Mrs. Majelski flipped a hand toward my car. “Shut that racket off.”

I fumbled with the fob, and after two failed punches on the button, turned off the alarm. “What are you doing here?”

“Visiting my twin sister. The old girl is getting on in years,” she cackled.

“You never mentioned you were a twin.”

“I didn’t?” She flicked a thick, gnarly hand. “Pish posh. Not important. What’s important is you think a robbery occurred at the museum?”

My head jerked back. “How do you know that?”

She wheeled forward two steps. A crooked smile appeared beneath soft white curls and a droopy nose. “Let’s say a little birdie told me.”

“Who called you?”

The old lady’s gaze swept the garage before turning back to me. “Again, not important.” Another step forward. “What’s important is why do you think there was a heist? Nothing was out of place. No alarms went off. So…”

Mrs. M was freaking me out, although it’s not the first time she’s done that to me. “How do you know all this?”

She stared up at me, her slate-gray eyes boring into me. “Just answer the question, dear.”

“I had Mauzzy with me in the vault when the power went out. It set him off and when the lights came back on, he was barking and scratching at the wall of the valuables vault. Pretty sure he heard something going on inside it.”

Mrs. Majelski arched an eyebrow and chuckled. “That’s it? Because your little dog was scratching and barking? Like a dog?”

“He’s never wrong.”

She snickered. “Didn’t realize he’s an expert on museum heists.”

I winced. “He has very good hearing.”

Her dubious smile vanished, replaced by a stern visage. “Anybody else with you in the vault during that outage?”

“Just Tony Carlucci.”

“Who is…”

“He’s the evening security supervisor.”

She hesitated. “That his normal post, inside the vault?”

“No, he’s usually upstairs. He stayed behind after they locked the exhibit away to clear everybody out and close the main vault at five.”

The squealing of tires echoed through the garage.

Mrs. Majelski scanned the area, then made a break for my hatchback.

“What are you doing?”

“Let’s get in your car.”

I hit the fob’s unlock button and headed for the car. By the time I got there, she was sitting in the passenger seat, the walker folded and stored behind her.

“Man, you move fast,” I said.

“That’s why I work out.” She looked at the floorboard, then into the back seat. “Looks like you live in here, dear.”

I grimaced. “Commuting two hours a day does it.”

“Mmmm hmmm.”

“Why did you find me?” I shuddered. “Here, in the garage of all places.”

She checked her side mirror, then fixed on me with an unwavering gaze. “Because I need to tell you a few things. Look, I know I can’t stop you from doing what you’re going to do. Lord knows I learned that about you back in Tuscaloosa. So, you need to know this. If that diamond was stolen, and that’s a mighty big if, dear. But if it was stolen like you say, then there are only a few crews in the world who could get past the security measures and into the vault in the short time available and pull that job off.”

“You gotta believe me. The Star of Midnight on display is not the same one I saw in the vault yesterday.”

Mrs. Majelski put out a hand. “I believe that you believe it. I’m just not convinced. However, two crews jump to mind when I think of sophisticated high-value heists.”

“Like who?”

~~~~

About the Author

B.T. Polcari is a graduate of Rutgers College of Rutgers University, an award-winning mystery author, and a proud father of two wonderful children.

He’s a champion of rescue pups (Mauzzy is a rescue), craves watching football and basketball, and, of course, loves reading mysteries.

Among his favorite authors are D.P. Lyle, Robert B. Parker, and Michael Connelly. He is also an unapologetic fantasy football addict.

He lives with his wife in scenic Chattanooga, Tennessee.

 

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#BookBlitz “The Shade Under The Mango Tree” by Evy Journey

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Literary, Contemporary Fiction, Multicultural

 

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Gold Medal, Contemporary Fiction, 2021 Global Book Awards (formerly New
York City Book Awards)

Finalist, 2021 SPR (Self Publishing Review) Book Awards

Finalist, Multicultural Fiction, 2021 International Book Awards

 

After two heartbreaking losses, Luna wants adventure. Something and somewhere very different from the affluent, sheltered home where she grew up. An adventure in which she can make some difference.

Lucien, a worldly, well-traveled young architect, finds a stranger’s journal at a café. He has qualms and pangs of guilt about reading it. But they don’t stop him. His decision to go on reading changes his life.

Meeting later at a bookstore, Luna is fascinated by Lucien’s stories and adventurous spirit. She goes to a rice-growing village in a country steeped in an ancient culture and a deadly history. What she finds there defies anything she could have imagined. Will she leave this world unscathed?

An epistolary tale of courage, resilience, and the bonds that bring diverse people together.

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Excerpt

Prologue

Luna: February, 2016

Ov’s thin upper body is slumped over his crossed legs, his forehead resting on the platform. His brown, wiry arms lie limp, the right one extended forward, hand dangling over the edge of the platform. Dried blood is splattered on his head, and on the collar, right shoulder, and back of his old short-sleeved white shirt.

It seems fitting that he died where he used to spend most of his time when he wasn’t on the rice fields—sitting on a corner of the bamboo platform in the ceiling-high open space under the house. It’s where you get refreshing breezes most afternoons, after a long day of work.

The policeman looks down at Ov’s body as if he’s unsure what to do next. He lays down his camera and the gun in a plastic bag at one end of the platform untainted by splatters of gelled blood.

He steps closer to the body, anchors himself with one knee on top of the platform, and bends over the body. Hooking his arms underneath Ov’s shoulders and upper arms, he pulls the body up, and carefully lays it on its back. He straightens the legs.

He steps off the platform. Stands still for a few seconds to catch his breath. He turns to us and says, “It’s clear what has happened. I have all the pictures I need.”

 He points to his camera, maybe to make sure we understand. We have watched him in silence, three zombies still in shock. Me, standing across the bamboo platform from him. Mae and Jorani sitting, tense and quiet, on the hammock to my left.

Is that it? Done already? I want to ask him: Will he have the body taken away for an autopsy? I suppose that’s what is routinely done everywhere in cases like this. But I don’t know enough Khmer.

As if he sensed my unspoken question, he glances at me. A quick glance that comes with a frown. He seems perplexed and chooses to ignore me.

He addresses the three of us, like a captain addressing his troop. “You can clean up.”

The lingering frown on his brow softens into sympathy. He’s gazing at Jorani, whose mournful eyes remain downcast. He looks away and turns toward Mae. Pressing his hands together, he bows to her. A deeper one than the first he gave her when she and Jorani arrived.

He utters Khmer words too many and too fast for me to understand. From the furrowed brow and the look in his eyes, I assume they are words of sympathy. He bows a third time, and turns to go back to where he placed the gun and camera. He picks them up and walks away.

For a moment or two, I stare at the figure of the policeman walking away. Then I turn to Jorani. Call him back. Don’t we have questions? I can ask and you can translate, if you prefer. But seeing her and Mae sitting as still and silent as rocks, hands on their laps, and eyes glazed as if to block out what’s in front of them, the words get trapped in my brain. Their bodies, rigid just moments before, have gone slack, as if to say: What else can anyone do? What’s done cannot be undone. All that’s left is to clean up, as the policeman said. Get on with our lives.

My gaze wanders again toward the receding figure of the policeman on the dirt road, the plastic bag with the gun dangling in his right hand. Does it really matter how Cambodian police handles Ov’s suicide? I witnessed it. I know the facts. And didn’t I read a while back how Buddhism frowns upon violations on the human body? The family might object against cutting up Ov—the way I’ve seen on TV crime shows—just to declare with certainty what caused his death.

I take in a long breath. I have done all I can and must defer to Cambodian beliefs and customs.

But I can’t let it go yet. Ov chose to end his life in a violent way and I’m curious: Do the agonies of his last moments show on his face? I steal another look.

All I could gather, from where I stand, is life has definitely gone out of every part of him. His eyes are closed and immobile. The tic on his inanimate cheeks hasn’t left a trace. The tic that many times was the only way I could tell he had feelings. Feelings he tried to control or hide. Now, his face is just an expressionless brown mask. Maybe everyone really
has a spirit, a soul that rises out of the body when one dies, leaving a mansize mass of clay.

I stare at Ov’s body, lying in a darkened, dried pool of his own blood, bits of his skull and brain scattered next to his feet where his head had been. At that moment, it hits me that this would be the image of Ov I will always remember. I shudder.

My legs begin to buckle underneath me and I turn around, regretting that last look. With outstretched hands, I take a step toward the hammock. Jorani rises to grab my hands, and she helps me sit down next to Mae.

Could I ever forget? Could Mae and Jorani? Would the image of Ov in a pool of blood linger in their memories like it would in mine?

I know I could never tell my parents what happened here this afternoon. But could I tell Lucien? The terrible shock of watching someone, in whose home I found a family, fire a gun to his head? And the almost as horrifying realization—looking back—that I knew what he was going to do, but I hesitated for a few seconds to stop him.

~~~~

About the Author

Evy Journey writes. Stories. Blogs (three sites). Cross-genre novels. She’s also a wannabe artist, and a flâneuse (an ambler).

Evy studied psychology ( Ph.D. University of Illinois) initially to help her understand herself and Dostoevsky. Now, she spins tales about
multicultural characters dealing with the problems and issues of contemporary life. She believes in love and its many faces.

Just as she has crossed genres in writing fiction, she has also crossed cultures, having lived and traveled in various cities in different countries. Find her thoughts on travel, art, and food at Artsy Rambler (https://eveonalimb2.com).

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#BlogTour “Happiness is a Thing With Wings” by Susi Osborne

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Joanna is approaching the end of her forties and the empty nest syndrome looms. She consoles herself with gin and chocolate, realising that apart from her son Jack, she has achieved absolutely nothing in her life.

Somewhat on the plus side of plump and barely five feet tall, she finds it difficult not to envy her younger, prettier sister. Such elevated elegance seems so unfair – as does Hannah’s successful marriage. Joanna, in contrast, has remained in a loveless marriage for the past thirty years, stuck in a rut with the most miserable man on the planet but not having the impetus to get out.

It takes an embarrassing but hilarious encounter in the supermarket to make her realise what she’s been missing. It’s exactly the push she needs to make her change her life. With a little encouragement, Joanna starts to regain her independence, finally leaving her grumpy husband to enjoy life as a single woman. As she attempts to rebuild her own future, her family and friends continually surprise her with their own revelations.

Life is never dull, laughter never far away; can Joanna finally find true happiness within herself at last?

Purchase Link – https://amzn.eu/d/ftHPlMW

Amazon US – https://tinyurl.com/2fuwf2hx

~~~~

Susi OsborneAuthor Bio

For many years Susi Osborne worked in libraries, and later as a classroom assistant in a junior school. She currently runs a business selling all things vintage in an antiques centre. She also runs Northwich LitFest which she started ten years ago. Susi lives in Cheshire with her husband, her family and two dogs. Happiness is a Thing With Wings is her fifth novel. Her previous books are:

The Ripples of Life

Grace & Disgrace

Secrets, Lies & Butterflies

Angelica Stone

 

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#NewRelease “Under The Radar (Ray Okon Crime Thriller #2)” by Stanley Umezulike

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Some cases will get you killed.

When the body of a final-year student at the University of Lagos is found in the lagoon, the police rule it an open and shut case: suicide. But as the bodies of more final-year university students end up in the lagoon, DSS Special Agent Ray Okon is called to investigate the incidents sending chills across the country.

National Intelligence Agency security expert Sarah Aderinsola is investigating a similar case. Ray and the DSS Criminal Investigation Department team up with her to find answers.

As Ray and Sarah race across university campuses and peel layers of deceit, they face a terrible evil residing under the radar, unnoticed —until now. Worse, it is ready to shatter the fragile heart of the nation.

To save the country, they must risk their lives to stop a ruthless enemy determined to bring the nation to its knees.

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Order Your Paperback in Nigeria (Naira): tinyurl.com/LAPpaperbacksN

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#ReleaseBlitz “Out of Performance, Into Identity: How Love Found Me” by Angela Yarborough

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Self-Help/Spiritual

Date Published: 8.28.2022

Publisher: Help from 100X Publishing

 

 

This is my story of how I went from fighting for the love, belonging, and acceptance my heart yearned for in finding my place in this world, to laying down my sword and allowing God’s love to find me.

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About the Author

Angela Yarborough has a passion to see women set free from the lies of their pasts and begin living in the love and freedom of Christ. Having
accomplished this in her own life, she regularly speaks to women and gives them hope for a love story of their own.

Combining her business knowledge, creative gifting, and love for the women she is called to serve, Angela has built an online jewelry business that employs women coming from the prison system or sex trade industry. AmadeaDesigns.com equips women with the skills they need to obtain a
long-term job that fits their God-given talents.

Living in a small town in North Louisiana with her husband, Jerry, along with their last 2 kids at home, daily adventures in nature bring a smile to her face. Picnics by the lake, kayaking on the river, and playing with her pet goats and sassy chickens are just a few things you might find Angela doing when she is not designing jewelry, writing books, or ministering to women.

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#Excerpt “On the Beach (The Maison de Danse Quartet Book 3)” by Greg Jolley

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Book Three: The Maison de Danse Quartet

Suspense

Date Published: 08-01-2022

Publisher: Épouvantail Books

 

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Private investigator Joy Nakamura is working the strangest cold case of her career, the 1999 disappearance of the five Sanger children. Working the old files, she tries to make sense of a twisted and clearly delusional interview within the records, the closest thing to a confession or explanation. Fighting her personal demons and ruinous alcoholism, she latches onto a clue and goes on the hunt.

The trail leads Joy to Maison de Danse, a family compound in Ormond Beach. Gaining access, she questions Bo and Jangles Danser, a  handsome man with two distinct
personalities: one well-mannered and kind; the other vicious and deadly. They are soon entangled in lies and deceits as she presses on with the investigation, determined to find out what happened to the five children.

When she next meets Izzy Danser, her world is turned upside-down as the mystery gets dark and menacing. Caught up in the family’s ménage, she’s drawn into their eccentric lives and secrets, desperate to discover what happened to the Sanger children. As she draws
closer to the answer, a long black shadow threatens to consume her.

Risking her life and sanity, Joy will stop at nothing until the killer is made to pay for his crimes.

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EXCERPT

Chapter One

Volusia County Sheriff’s Office

Case# 1503207

Unsolved Homicide

Evidence Item: 1747-A

 

Suspect Statement Anonymously Received

The world ended on Tuesday, June 3, 1959, at 4:17 a.m. EST. A new form of an electro-magnetic pulse was the cause. By my calculations, it took twenty-seven seconds to round the planet. The effect was instantaneous. The world population that year was 2,979,576,185. You can look it up. In those twenty-seven seconds, that number was cut by ninety-nine percent.

Human life was erased—ended—and no continent was spared. The President in the Oval Office. A housewife at the stove. A child in a rice field in China. No matter what they were doing, all 2.9 billion dropped dead in their tracks. If it could hear, if it had ears, it died. Man and animal tumbled like rows of dominoes.

The pulse sounded blue. I’m not sure why. It was invisible, of course. Immediately following was a screech of electric silver that lasted less than a minute. Then nothing. All channels were silent. I was at the radios, monitoring all three frequencies. The signal room was at the back of the helm.

“You hear that?” I turned to my right.

Seaman James ‘Jimmy’ Cavanagh was a big boy, weighing in at an easy two hundred and forty pounds, head like a white eggplant with a tuft of blond hair never staying down. He had a wide mouth, soft chin, tiny eyes, and a mumble, except when on the radio. Then his voice became crisp and decisive.

He was already dead, headset in his hands, head back, mouth yawned open to expel his ghost. It had been nearly eleven months since I last saw a dead body. This was the first death I hadn’t had a hand in.

After unplugging, I draped the cloth cord over my shoulder and went to the helm fronting the wheelhouse. Captain Collins and NCO Hanson had both crumbled to the deck before the chart table. They lay side by side facing each other, looking like two fallen dance partners. Both were dead as can be.

Not so, sonar specialist, Fabian Andreoli. Fabian—a hoot, right? He was gawking at the dead officers, having spun his chair around from the radars screens. Fabian was movie star handsome—tall, skeletal thin, black hair with a wave always spilling onto his brow. All the blood had drained from his lovely face, replaced with a sickly pallor.

His eyes rose to mine as I entered.

“What just happened?” he asked me. “It swept the screen for less than a second. Then they fell.”

“Some kind of EMP, I think.”

“Are they?”

I kneeled before the two fallen officers, taking each of their wrists for Fabian’s benefit. I already knew the answer.

“Dead. Dead as doorknobs.”

“Dead? But the electronics, the ship is still running. I don’t understand…”

“I’m going to go look for others. Seaman Jimmy died beside me.”

“Why didn’t it kill you and me?”

“I don’t know. Maybe it still will. Help me search?”

“Go ahead. I’ve got the tender boat coming in.” There was both sadness and fear in his eyes.

He swiveled his chair from the view of the two dead bodies to monitor the arrival of the supply boat.

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About the Author

Greg Jolley earned a Master of Arts in Writing from the University of San Francisco and lives in the very small town of Ormond Beach, Florida.

When not writing, he researches historical crime, primarily those of the 1800s.

Or goes surfing.

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