#GuestPost Meet the Character Day: A Chat with Prince Allan from “A Most Unfortunate Prince” by Kelli A. Wilkins

This “Meet the Character Day” blog is part of a series examining my romance novels. In each “Behind the Scenes” blog, I talk about why I wrote the book, share my thoughts on the plot and/or characters, and reveal what I loved most (or least) about writing the book. The “Meet the Character Day” blogs are fun chats with the heroes and heroines from my romances. Warning: blogs may contain spoilers.

A Most Unfortunate prince

Hello romance lovers. Today we’re chatting with Prince Allan, the hero from A Most Unfortunate Prince by Kelli A. Wilkins.

Q: Greetings, Prince Allan. A Most Unfortunate Prince is the last book in Kelli’s Royal Desires series of historical/fantasy novels. Can you tell us about the trilogy?

A: Absolutely. I’ll tell you anything you want. I can even give away secret spoilers, if you like. As readers may already know, A Most Unfortunate Prince is the final story in a trilogy that began with A Most Unusual Princess and continued with A Most Intriguing Temptation. Although the books are related, each stands alone as an individual read. Kelli calls the trio the Royal Desires series, which I think sums up the books perfectly. We are, after all, royals, with lots of desires! (Laughs)

A Most Unusual Princess introduced readers to my headstrong sister, A Most Unsual PrincessPrincess Elara, and her ever-patient guard, Dalton. Their story continued in A Most Intriguing Temptation, and that’s where readers were given the pleasure of meeting me for the first time. In the book, Dalton and I attended a business meeting with Emperor Salizar and Elara followed us. She got us all into a lot of trouble. And believe it or not, Dalton and my father blamed me for it.

A Most Unfortunate Prince begins right after A Most Intriguing Temptation A Most Intriguing Temptationends. This book is (unfortunately, ha-ha get it?) about my banishment and fall from grace. Yes, my own father banished me. He said I was too spoiled and… a lot of other unpleasant things. So he kicked me out and sent me to the worst place in the kingdom. This novel follows my adventures and my journey as I find true love. Elara and Dalton also appear in the book as minor characters, but they play a very important part in the ending. (Kelli says I can’t give it away.)

Q: Tell us about yourself. What got you in the crosshairs for your author?

A: Well, the way I hear it is… When Kelli was writing my scenes in A Most Intriguing Temptation she was so impressed with my good looks, charm, and witty and wiseass personality she decided I needed to have a book of my own. She said I was one of those characters who try to take over a story. I thought having my own book would be a great idea. Of course, I didn’t realize I’d have to suffer. The nerve! (Eyeroll)

As the title suggests, the book is all about my trials and tribulations. Right on page one, I’m banished, kicked out of my posh and pampered life. I’m forced to live as a commoner. Well, you can imagine that didn’t go over very well. I never really thought my father was serious. I figured he would change his mind in a day or a week… Nope.

 

Before I was banished, I was very spoiled and said and did whatever I wanted. I took all my luxuries for granted and could snap my fingers and have beautiful women crawling all over me. All that changed when I was living on my own. It sounds strange, but now I realize being banished was the best thing that ever happened to me. Why? Because I met Claudette.

Our first meeting didn’t go over very well, but in time, I earned her respect and we fell in love.

Q: Tell us more about your first meeting. What drew you to Claudette?

A: Claudette is a seamstress, and she’s a very clever young woman who has been forced to make her own way in the world. She’s not one to put up with nonsense from people, is strong-willed, and opinionated. And guess what? She hates rich people—and that certainly includes the royal family more than anything. Sounds like a great match, right?

We met in an odd way. I went into a shop to get a button on my breeches replaced. Somehow, my breeches “accidentally” fell down and I exposed myself to her. I thought it was a funny joke—for about two seconds. Then Claudette hauled off and smacked my privates. The next thing I knew, I was on the floor in pain, and she was yelling at me. Nice meeting, huh?

Yes, what I did was crude and inexcusable, but I had been so used to doing and saying whatever I wanted that I couldn’t help myself. Claudette apologized (she was worried I would tell her boss what she had done) and we made up. I thought she was cute and wanted to get to know her better. Naturally she was hesitant about seeing me, but I persisted.

When I learned she despised rich people (and the royals) I knew I had to keep my identity a secret, or risk losing her forever. Over the course of the book I learned all about Claudette’s troubled past and her loss. I admired her strength and determination to make a good life for herself, despite all the odds. It inspired me to make the most of my banishment and to redeem myself in my father’s eyes.

Q: A little naughty fun, where was the wildest place you seduced your partner? Or where she seduced you?

A: In this book, Claudette and I get frisky in several places. She isn’t shy when it comes to making love, and she was willing to share her affection with me quite often. The wildest place was at the shop where she worked. One night we couldn’t control ourselves and made love (actually, we screwed like mad) on the counter. This book is definitely a blend of adventure and steamy love scenes.

Q: Do you sometimes want to strangle your author because of the situations she puts you in?

 A: Absolutely! Kelli started torturing me on page one. I heard Dalton thought she put him through difficult situations in his book—bah! He doesn’t know what it’s like to be beaten, starved, and humiliated like I was. Kelli has admitted putting me through all that was hard on her, and writing one part of the book broke her heart. And it broke my heart, too. (I’m not allowed to give away that spoiler.)

 Q: What was one of the most embarrassing things Kelli did to you in A Most Unfortunate Prince?

A: Let’s see, Kelli did about five hundred embarrassing things to me in the book. Here’s a sample: I was banished and humiliated in front of my royal family; I was sent away to practically starve to death in the worst part of the kingdom; I had to get a job working at the docks for a vicious beast of a boss; a sweet shop girl smacked my genitals; I was stripped and flogged like an animal… Need I go on?

Kelli really made me suffer. In A Most Intriguing Temptation I had a good time and enjoyed myself. And all that changed in A Most Unfortunate Prince. I guess you can say I “paid my dues” and had a fall from grace.

Of course I realize Kelli did all those awful things to me so I’d change and redeem myself. Now I’m a better person, a different person. And I have Claudette by my side. I’d willingly go through it all again, knowing her love would be my reward. (Pauses) Does that sound too mushy? Claudette changed my life and saved me from myself—and I thank Kelli for that.

Q: When Prince Dalton was a guest on this blog, he hinted there was a different side to you. Can you explain?

A: Oh. Well… Dalton warned me you might ask about that. When Kelli was writing my story, I surprised her with a secret. You see, just because she’s the author, she thinks she knows everything about her characters. I showed her she was wrong.

Sometimes characters “take over” and steer the story in a different direction. That’s what I did. Here’s a secret spoiler from the book: Although my primary romance was with Claudette, I fell in love twice. Before I met Claudette, I had a relationship with my male roommate, Alex. Yup. (Nods) Alex plays a crucial part in the story, and he saved my life. Kelli won’t let me share more details (you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens), but I can say Kelli fell in love with Alex as much as I did.

Q: Anything else you want to add?

A: Although A Most Unusual Princess, A Most Intriguing Temptation, and A Most Unfortunate Prince make up the Royal Desires series, each of our stories stand alone as individual reads. You can start with book 2 and then go back to book 1 to see how everything started, or start with book 3 and go in reverse order. However you read them, I encourage romance lovers to catch up on all of our adventures.

Of course, I’m partial to my own book. I think it’s the best. Kelli has said: “Allan’s fall from grace and the journey of self-discovery he undergoes are some of the reasons why I love this book. It has something for everyone: hot love scenes, tender moments, mystery, adventure, and suspense.”

You can’t get much better than that. I’m content with the way the trilogy ends. Kelli says I can tell you “we all live happily-ever-after.”

Thank you for having me on this blog. This was fun. I invite readers to catch up on all of Kelli’s romances and visit her on social media (whatever that is). You can also write me fan letters, if you like. (Winks)

 Thank you, Prince Allan, for joining us today. Readers can learn more about all of Kelli’s books on her site: www.KelliWilkins.com

 

Missed a blog? Catch up on Kelli’s blog series here: https://www.kelliwilkins.com/blog

Here’s the book summary:

A Most Unfortunate Prince

This time, it’s all about Allan… and he never expected to fall in love!

Banished by the Royal Family, pampered Prince Allan is forced to abandon his life of luxury. The former Royal Shipmaster General is sent to the worst part of the kingdom and manages to find work at the docks. Lost in a commoner’s world, Allan is miserable—until he has an unusual encounter with a saucy shop girl named Claudette.

Allan must earn the respect of the woman he loves while keeping his true identity a secret. In an effort to redeem himself in his father’s eyes, he exposes a dangerous smuggling operation involving the Royal Fleet. But his loyalty to duty comes with a deadly price.

Can he keep Claudette and his royal title? Or will he lose her forever when she discovers his secret?

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The Royal Desires Series is available on Amazon & other platforms. Catch this hot historical/fantasy trilogy from the start:

A Most Unsual Princess

Book 1: A Most Unusual Princess:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CBX43D8

All other platforms: https://books2read.com/u/me00L9

Read reviews here: https://www.kelliwilkins.com/a-most-unusual-princess

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Book 2: A Most Intriguing Temptation:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01D8P8604

All other platforms: https://books2read.com/u/47kkvj

Read reviews here: https://www.kelliwilkins.com/a-most-intriguing-temptation

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Book 3: A Most Unfortunate Prince:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Most-Unfortunate-Prince-Historical-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B01DMBYJ6E

All other platforms: https://books2read.com/u/3yPPM6

Read reviews here: https://www.kelliwilkins.com/a-most-unfortunate-prince

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 ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelli A Wilkins

Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 20 romance novels, 7 non-fiction books, and 3 horror ebooks. Her romances span many genres and settings, and she likes to scare readers with her horror stories.

In January 2021, Kelli released Journaling Every Week: 52 Topics to Get You Writing. This fun and innovative guide to journaling is filled with hundreds of thought-provoking prompts designed to get you writing about your feelings and emotions.

 

Her horror short, “A Witch’s Wishes” was published in the Nothing Ever Happens in Fox Hollow anthology in December 2020. In October 2020, Kelli had horror stories published in two anthologies. “The Uninvited” was published in Halloween Horror Vol. 2. This tale about a children’s Halloween party gone horribly wrong is one of her favorites. Her unsettling short story, “What the Peeper Saw” appeared in Madame Gray’s Creep Show anthology.

 

Earlier in 2020 Kelli published Love, Lies & Redemption, a western romance set in 1877 Nebraska. This novel blends a sensual love story with mystery and danger.

Kelli posts on her Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKelliWilkins and Twitter: www.Twitter.com/KWilkinsauthor.

Visit her website/blog www.KelliWilkins.com for a full title list and to find all her social media links.

#GuestPost “The Deadening” by Kerry Peresta

The Deadening by Kelly Peresta Banner

April 1-30, 2021 Tour

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The struggle to be an independent woman, to cut ties with dependence on that perfect partner to make us complete, whole; happy…is an ongoing battle.

Often it takes a disaster or two to help us open our blind eyes, our deaf ears. We learn, either willingly or unwillingly (through traumatic consequences), that we have to be a 100% whole woman before we can attract a 100% whole mate. This 50/50 stuff, just doesn’t work. All we have in this scenario are two broken people trying to mend each other, and that doesn’t benefit anyone.

Such is the case with my protagonist, Olivia Callahan. She is broken, but doesn’t know it. And this is a big problem. She is a sitting duck—vulnerable, naïve, clueless.

It takes twenty years, two beautiful daughters, and a divorce before she realizes something is dangerously wrong. In her haste to depart her parents’ home at the tender age of 18 she had leapt into her husband Monty’s arms, unaware that she was trading one fire for another. Monty felt comfortable. Familiar. They rock along for twenty years, and all is well as long as she lets Monty take the lead.

In everything.

Bad move.

When he leaves for a younger, perkier version, Olivia is shell-shocked. Devastated. What happened? She’d given him everything she had to give. Had she needed to try harder? Be more available? Claw into his mind to find out what she’d done wrong?

In a desperate attempt to pursue normalcy, even though her life would never be ‘normal’ again; after the divorce she takes her daughters to the beach, the family’s yearly vacation spot. In retrospect, she realizes this was not the best decision, since she sees the ghost of their marriage around every palm tree, in every beach chair. She is desperate to move on, to stop dwelling on what was and embrace the possibilities ahead. But she is still broken.

And so the cycle continues. One poor—but well-intentioned—decision after the other. One of which lands her in the bushes, bleeding and unconscious; the victim of an apparent assault. Fortunately, she is in the bushes outside an ER, and is carted in after someone finds her.

The ER team finds a massive brain injury, and struggles to save her. She lapses into a coma, and all the medical team can do is wait. She has no ID, and is admitted as a Jane Doe.

Olivia is based on an expanded and darker version of myself, decades ago, before I found strength and support in a recovery group. The information was life-changing, and boy, did my life ever change!

It got worse immediately.

They don’t tell you that this happens. I guess they like to keep it a secret, or the recoveree will run screaming from the meeting. I’m joking, but many times life does get worse when we begin facing facets of ourselves that are unpleasant and non-productive, but the resultant healing is phenomenal. Worth every cringy, hard-fought moment. These moments are temporary and healing.

Oliva is in for a tough battle. It’s one I believe most women experience in one way or another, and its severity depends on what the woman is willing to endure. Whether she will move forward, or stay stuck because it has become familiar. In Book One, Olivia stumbles through trying to find her way back to her life, but since the coma has stolen her memory, she is exhausted trying to reclaim the memories from her marriage, and memories of her children’s most precious years. And angry. She finds the anger energizing, and it propels her to carve out a better future than what family and friends share about her past. Pre-coma. Unfortunately, in order to be completely free of the past, she must revisit it.

What she discovers makes her more determined than ever to run from it as fast as she can.

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Synopsis:

The Deadening by Kerry Peresta

OLIVIA CALLAHAN’S quiet, orderly life is shattered when she regains consciousness in a hospital and discovers she is paralyzed and cannot remember a thing. The fragmented voices she hears around her help her piece together that an apparent assault landed her in the hospital, but nobody knows who attacked her, or why.

Now, in spite of a brain injury that has rewired her personality, Olivia is on a mission to reclaim her life. As clarity surfaces, and she starts to understand who she was, she is shocked.

Could she really have been that person?

And if so, does she want her old life back?

Praise:

“A gripping read populated by likable characters. Peresta draws us into a colorful detailed world and makes us care what happens to the people living in it. We root for Olivia as she struggles to regain her memory, her bearings, and the identity she lost long before her injury. Excellent!”
– Susan Crawford, Internationally bestselling author of The Pocket Wife and The Other Widow.

The Deadening is a captivating psychological suspense novel that will have you holding your breath with each turn of the page. Peresta has created a world chock-full of characters who are dynamic and unforgettable, for better or worse. Hold onto your seat.”
– Clay Stafford, bestselling author and founder of Killer Nashville Writers’ Conference

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Suspense

Published by: Level Best Books

Publication Date: February 21, 2021

Number of Pages: 353

ISBN: 1953789358 (ISBN13:9781953789358) (ASIN:B08SVKLMZ8)

Series: Olivia Callahan Suspense, 1

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

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Tour Participants:

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

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Giveaway!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Kerry Peresta. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card.
The giveaway begins on April 1, 2021 and runs through May 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

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#BlogTour “Sins of Our Mothers” by Nicole Souza

It is a pleasure to welcome author Nicole Souza here today to talk about her latest release, SINS OF OUR MOTHERS.

◊ Genre: Dystopian Novel
◊ Publisher: WiDo Publishing (August 25, 2020)
◊ Print & eBooks
◊ Paperback: 338 pages
◊ ISBN-10: 1947966391
◊ ISBN-13: 978-1947966390

     It has been fifteen hundred years since the solar flare devastation of the Global Catastrophe. Due to the radioactivity in the harvesting fields, society dismisses its defective children as nothing more than flawed products of the malfunctioned seeds in the field.

     But Lyratelle, a hyper-observant musical prodigy, believes these “defects” are intelligent, particularly her own sibling, the youngest child of her impervious mother. Abandoning her dream career, Lyratelle climbs the bureaucratic ladder to run the Defect Research Center, where she can safeguard the child.

     With an underground team of women who share her uncertainties, Lyratelle unearths the Old History truth that womankind’s survival actually hinges on the existence of these defects.

     When General Sarah Love, the city’s most powerful advocate against the defects, detects Lyratelle’s sympathy toward the creatures, she threatens the life of Lyratelle’s sibling.

     Now Lyratelle’s desperate attempt to save this child endangers everyone she loves—her team, her family, even the existence of the defects themselves.

SINS OF OUR MOTHERS is available at AMAZONBarnes & Noble * WiDo Publishing. Also, be sure to add it to your TBR List on Goodreads.

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EXCERPT

Chapter 4
Juley 23, 1513 P.C.

10:00 a.m.

“Incoming call from the Governor’s office.”

Lyratelle stared at her ring. She wasn’t expecting a call from Governor Sky. She stepped away from the window where she observed the morning’s extractions and stood with her back to the wall. “Accept call.”

Governor Sky’s face emerged. Her silver hair was tied back in a bun, her jawline more prominent than usual.

“Governor Sky, to what do I owe this honor?”

“I’m afraid it’s unpleasant. You’re aware, of course, Valiance Serenity is ill.”

Lyratelle breathed carefully, conscious of her heartrate and the speed and tone of her voice. “Yes. You relocated one of my best doctors to care for her.”

“Even in Doctor Rain’s care, she’s worsened. This morning, Valiance conceded she’s unfit to run the Settlement and is being checked into Lilac Hospital.”

Lyratelle couldn’t stop herself from reacting but managed to play it off as surprise rather than joy. “I’m sorry to hear that.” She was accustomed to the taste of a righteous lie.

“There’s no telling when she’ll recover. As you know, when a Chief Director retires, passes away, or is otherwise unable to run the Settlement, the DRC President is promoted to replace her. Which means, effective immediately, you’re Chief Director of Settlement eleven-sixty-three. You’ll receive intensive training this week and relocate to the Settlement on Monday.”

It took every bit of training, mirror rehearsal, and natural ability for Lyratelle to mask the surreal elation washing over her. “Monday, wow.”

“I realize it’s sudden, probably shocking, but you’ll have plenty of flexibility to visit your family in Lilac.”

“Sudden, yes, but not shocking. I’m prepared for whatever the job requires. May I ask who will replace me here at the DRC?”

“I’m hoping you’ll guide me. Losing you is quite a blow. Doctor Rain is the obvious choice, but to limit her to an administrative position seems unwise, especially under the circumstances.”

“Agreed.”

“Who do you trust to take on the load?”

Lyratelle pretended to consider the options. “I have an unconventional idea.”

“Tell me.”

“We recently hired Reproductive Specialist Emily River. She’s brilliant, trained in record time. Because she’s new, her routine isn’t concrete. The other doctors run the place like a well-oiled machine. It would really be a shame to interrupt that. I recommend assigning Doctor River the administrative role.”

“A brand-new doctor? Maybe if you could stay to train her, but you begin your own training Wednesday morning.”

“You know my assistant, Grace Angels. She’s my anchor. She knows the program inside and out and has a great relationship with the doctors. She’ll help Doctor River find her footing.”

“You really think . . . ?”

“I wouldn’t suggest it if I didn’t know it will work.”

Sky nodded. “I trust you, Faith. Let’s move forward.”

“Great. I’ll speak with them immediately.”

“Then that just leaves your meeting with Valiance.”

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Meet the Author

 

As the third of eight siblings, Nicole has always been surrounded by people. Among her immediate family are spoken seven languages. Her favorite thing is hearing her nieces and nephews speak French, Tongan, or Mandarin. It’s no surprise she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Languages, as language is one of her greatest passions, topped only by music and Beat Saber.

Nicole minored in Women Studies and continues to take a particular interest in both women’s history and their individual stories. She’s grateful for her ancestors and other women who paved the way for her to pursue her dream of publishing stories and strives to create new avenues for the coming generations to pursue their dreams.

Though she’s lived-in various states in the U.S. and Brazil, Nicole considers Utah “home base” and continuously finds herself returning, even when previous moves were intended to be permanent. She attributes her love of Utah to the beauty of the Wasatch Mountains and the incredible people who make it feel like home, even when she’s been away for long periods of time. Recently, however, after visiting her sister’s family overseas, she’s been dreaming of a quiet beach house in Taiwan.

Connect with Nicole on her website nicolesouzabooks.com
Facebook @nicolesouzabooks
Instagram @nicolesouzabooks

 


Be sure to enter the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card by clicking HERE.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you enjoy books where the main protagonist is a female?

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#GuestPost “Memoirs of a Karate Fighter” by Ralph Robb

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Novelist and former karate champion Ralph Robb recounts his experiences at one of Europe’s toughest dojos and provides an insight into the philosophy and training methods of a club which produced national, European and world titleholders. In a hard-hitting story, Ralph tells of the fights on and off the mat; his experiences as one of a very few black residents in an area in which racist members of the National Front were very active; and the tragic descent into mental illness and premature death of the training partner who was also his best friend.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Amazon US

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MEMOIRS OF A KARATE FIGHTER

Ralph Robb

 My first international competition was really a more domestic affair, as it was an invitational tournament that incorporated the English Under-21 vs the Scottish Under-21 squad. Three of us from the Wolverhampton YMCA Karate Club had been selected to represent England at various weights. Up until that point, I’d never had the opportunity of leaving England.

From the moment we stepped off the train in Glasgow, I became aware of how I was being perceived by the Scots I met and by the end of that day, I felt myself going through a minor identity crisis. It all stemmed from the fact, that in my mind I represented the Wolverhampton YMCA karate club but in reality, I was representing England and in doing so I attracted the wrath of the Scottish supporters.

I have always believed coming from a disadvantaged environment bred a certain uncompromising fighting spirit. Whether this was just wishful thinking or had some basis in fact didn’t really matter, so long as it gave me a mental edge in achieving my goal. I believed, and I still do, that the strong sense of camaraderie that came with being a part of the YMCA club did give me an edge.

Now, we were up against opponents who came from neighborhoods every bit as economically disadvantaged as the ones I was familiar with. They were people who had a similar sense of camaraderie to the one generated in our club but theirs was on a national level. Plus, they had what I often referred to as ‘northern grit’ – a hard, no-nonsense state of mind that we had noticed when fighting anywhere north of Wolverhampton.

It was an uncomfortable feeling being one of the underdogs without the senior members of the YMCA club supporting me, but it was nothing I’d not experienced before. If nothing else, growing up in Wolverhampton did hone my mind for hostile situations like the one I found while in Glasgow.

By the end of the tournament, results had not unfolded as we had predicted, or hoped for, but it had served a purpose. It was a reminder of how much more training as well as mental preparation was needed for the European championships.

Book Excerpt

Once we had deposited our bags in our rooms, we went down­stairs where the Scottish karate officials gave us a welcome that contrasted with the cold and drab afternoon. We had headed north thinking of ourselves as representing the YMCA but, as the evening wore on, it was obvious that our hosts saw us as part of the people they referred to as the ‘Auld Enemy’. I had been sent an England badge that was to be sewn onto the jacket of my karate gi with the letter confirming my selection but even though I had thrown mine into the rubbish bin, I was still identified as a member of an ‘invading force’ that the Scots told us they would take great pleasure in repelling. As a few more drinks were downed by our hosts, it became plain to me that the talk about being ‘part of the enemy’ was not all light-hearted banter: there was real venom behind the words. I was feeling the first stirring of a minor identity crisis: while I had been born in England, I had never considered myself, nor ever felt regarded, as English. Neither Clinton nor Leslie seemed to be troubled in the same way; to them our selec­tion for the England under-21 team was simply a means of enhanc­ing our competition skills and providing an opportunity to compete at the European junior championships. They were confident too that the Scots would not be much opposition – but I was not so sure.

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Author Bio Ralph Robb

Ralph Robb was born and raised in the industrial town of Wolverhampton, England and now lives in Ontario Canada with his wife, cat and dog. A proud father of four, Robb works as an engineering technician and loves rugby, martial arts and a good book. His world is balanced by quality TV, global events, great outdoors and of course his grand-daughter.

Social Media Links

Facebook

Twitter  

Webpage

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#GuestPost “Meet the Character Day: Chatting with Princess Elara from A Most Unusual Princess” by Kelli A. Wilkins

This “Meet the Character Day” blog is part of a series examining my romance novels. In each “Behind the Scenes” blog, I talk about why I wrote the book, share my thoughts on the plot and/or characters, and reveal what I loved most (or least) about writing the book. The “Meet the Character Day” blogs are fun chats with the heroes and heroines from my romances. Warning: blogs may contain spoilers.

Hello romance lovers! Today we’re chatting with Princess Elara, the heroine from A Most Unusual Princess by Kelli A. Wilkins.

A Most Unsual Princess

Q: Greetings, Princess Elara. A Most Unusual Princess is the first book in Kelli’s Royal Desires series of historical/fantasy novels. Can you tell us more about the trilogy?

 

A: I’d be happy to. A Most Unusual Princess is the first story in a trilogy that also includes A Most Intriguing Temptation and A Most Unfortunate Prince. Although the books are related, each stands alone as an individual read.

 

A Most Unusual Princess introduces readers to me and my hero, Dalton. My father is searching for a proper husband for me, and Dalton acts as my special guard. In the second book, A Most Intriguing Temptation, I follow Dalton and my brother, Prince Allan, to a sultan’s palace and get into a bit of trouble. A Most Unfortunate Prince (the last book in the series) is all about Allan’s banishment from the kingdom and his journey as he finds true love. Dalton and I are also in the story, and we play a central role in the ending. (I won’t reveal too much about that.)

Q: Tell us about yourself. What got you in the crosshairs for your author?

 A: I’m a princess and I’ve been pampered and sheltered my entire life. Some people might find that the perfect arrangement, but for me, it’s always been suffocating. I hate being told what to wear, how to speak, and I’m never allowed to have any fun. My brothers are free to do whatever they please while I’m forced to act like a lady. Bah!

When the story starts, I had been acting out a lot. I’ve been called headstrong, spoiled, too opinionated, and unmanageable. It’s not my fault, though. I’m an intelligent (and very pretty) young woman who doesn’t appreciate being talked down to because I’m female.

My father decided I was old enough to be married and wanted to find me a husband. I told him I could find my own husband and would only marry someone I loved—not a dull prince who only wanted me for my dowry.

Kelli started the story just before the search for my husband began. She was kind enough to see past all of my so-called faults and realized that deep down I’m a sensitive, caring individual who wants to be loved. Meeting Dalton changed me for the better.

Q: What drew you to Dalton?

A: Dalton is unlike any other man I have encountered before. We met under very unusual circumstances (I was undressed and bathing in a pond) and he… well, he thought the whole thing was amusing. At the time I didn’t think I’d ever see him again, but then he turned out to be my special guard. Imagine! As we spent time together, I realized Dalton was strong, brave, and not easily swayed by my tantrums or tricks. He understood me and treated me like an equal. And I loved him even more for that. (He also acted a bit naughty, which I liked!)

Q: Speaking of naughty fun, where was the wildest place you seduced your partner?

A: In the story, we make use of a settee and my bed. But one night after the story ended, Dalton and I went back to the pond where we first met. We did all the naughty things we had only fantasized about doing before. It was fun fooling around outside in the dark, and it’s something I’m sure we’ll do again soon.

Q: If your partner wants to seduce you, what’s one sure-fire trick he can do?

A: All Dalton needs to do is kiss me or touch me—anywhere. The feel of his hands running down my body, light kisses on my stomach, touching my backside… Anything he does makes me eager for him, and he knows it!

 Q: What was one of the most embarrassing things your author did to you in A Most Unusual Princess?

A: Well… the story starts off with Dalton catching me nude in a bathing pond. It would have been embarrassing enough to be seen like that, but I wasn’t exactly bathing… I was… how did Dalton put it? Touching myself to relieve a bit of tension. (If you know what I mean.) But a girl is entitled to her privacy! Later, Dalton teased me about it without mercy.

Q: Kelli has written a lot of romances in all genres in all heat levels. How does she switch back and forth so easily?

A: I’ve been curious about this myself, so I asked a few of her other characters. They said each book comes to her in a different form. Sometimes an entire story “jumps” into her head, and she’ll know everything that happens to the characters. (It happened with A Deceptive Match, Loving a Wild Stranger, A Most Unusual Princess, and The Viking’s Witch.)

Other times, she gets bits of the story and parts of the characters. Once in a while, she’ll have a character come first and then the other pieces of the book fall into place, like a puzzle. (It happened with Dangerous Indenture, Love, Lies & Redemption, and A Secret Match.)

Before Kelli starts a book, she needs to know who the characters are and what’s going to happen to them. Then she outlines the scenes and starts writing. She says that writing a new book is always an adventure, and she never knows where the characters or stories will take her.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

A: Although A Most Unusual Princess is the first book in the series, all of our stories stand alone as individual reads—and I encourage readers to catch up on all of our adventures. I’m content with the way the trilogy ends—and I know readers will be satisfied (in many ways!).

Kelli has written several fantastic books in all genres, and I wish I could have a crossover with a few of her other characters. We would have a lot of fun together. Talking with readers was fun! I’ll ask Dalton and Allan to answer a few questions in another chat.

 

Thank you, Princess Elara, for joining us today. Readers can learn more about all of Kelli’s books on her site: www.KelliWilkins.com

Here’s the book summary:

 A Most Unusual Princess

Princess Elara needs to find a royal husband, but claims that no man can satisfy her. Her father hires Dalton, a special guard, to watch over her while she’s courting suitors. Dalton finds her unusual behaviors charming—and enthralling.

Dalton’s aloof manner intrigues Elara, and despite their differences, they share tender moments and intimate nighttime encounters. Elara is heartbroken when her father chooses a “proper” husband for her—until she meets the mystery man.

 Bonus! This e-book includes a sneak peek at the second book in the Royal Desires series: A Most Intriguing Temptation.

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The Royal Desires Series is available on Amazon & other platforms. Catch this hot historical/fantasy trilogy from the start:

A Most Unsual Princess

Book 1: A Most Unusual Princess:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CBX43D8

All other platforms: https://books2read.com/u/me00L9

Read reviews here: https://www.kelliwilkins.com/a-most-unusual-princess

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Book 2: A Most Intriguing Temptation:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01D8P8604

All other platforms: https://books2read.com/u/47kkvj

Read reviews here: https://www.kelliwilkins.com/a-most-intriguing-temptation

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Book 3: A Most Unfortunate Prince:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Most-Unfortunate-Prince-Historical-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B01DMBYJ6E

All other platforms: https://books2read.com/u/3yPPM6

Read reviews here: https://www.kelliwilkins.com/a-most-unfortunate-prince

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelli A Wilkins

Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 20 romance novels, 7 non-fiction books, and 3 horror ebooks. Her romances span many genres and settings, and she likes to scare readers with her horror stories.

In January 2021, Kelli released Journaling Every Week: 52 Topics to Get You Writing. This fun and innovative guide to journaling is filled with hundreds of thought-provoking prompts designed to get you writing about your feelings and emotions.

Her horror short, “A Witch’s Wishes” was published in the Nothing Ever Happens in Fox Hollow anthology in December 2020. In October 2020, Kelli had horror stories published in two anthologies. “The Uninvited” was published in Halloween Horror Vol. 2. This tale about a children’s Halloween party gone horribly wrong is one of her favorites. Her unsettling short story, “What the Peeper Saw” appeared in Madame Gray’s Creep Show anthology.

 

Earlier in 2020 Kelli published Love, Lies & Redemption, a western romance set in 1877 Nebraska. This novel blends a sensual love story with mystery and danger.

Kelli posts on her Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKelliWilkins and Twitter: www.Twitter.com/KWilkinsauthor.

Visit her website/blog www.KelliWilkins.com for a full title list and to find all her social media links.

#GuestPost When History and Science Fiction Collide by A&H Frosh, author of “Space Taxis”

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When History and Science Fiction Collide

By Adam Frosh, author of Space Taxis

NB this blog contains a spoiler alert for Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock.

The literary world is full of cross genres. Historical crime, historical horror, romance fantasy, science fiction comedy to name but a few. Historical fiction is hugely popular, notwithstanding the interesting settings for which the stories are based, but also the learning opportunities to study history in a way that many would prefer to reading a formal textbook. It also gives, through sense of place, an opportunity to ‘exist’ within the world and almost feel that you are there within it.

So, why is the genre mix of science fiction history so comparatively rare? In the most part, this genre mix relates to stories of time travel. One piece of literature that influenced my journey into literature was the Nebula Award winning novella, Behold the Man, by Michael Moorcock.

In this story, Karl Glogauer, a time traveller from 1970, travels back in time to witness the story of Jesus as it unfolds. As he arrives in the Holy Land in AD 28, his time machine is broken, and he has no way of returning to his own time. Moorcock’s depiction of the Christ of Nazareth is very different to the accepted Christian version that Glogauer was expecting. The Christ in this world would have no chance of carrying out the accepted teachings the world was destined to see. Assisted by the accounts of his “magical” properties by the Essenes who witnessed his strange method of arrival, he finds himself stepping in to act out the historical version of Jesus.

Glogauer, a hugely flawed character with a Messiah complex, eventually displaces Jesus entirely and, through his own engineering, is eventually crucified on the cross.

On one level, this novella could be seen as an exercise in blasphemy. However, on further reflection, it is so much more than that. At every stage, it represents an allegorical concept. The insignificant Christ of the story is displaced by a tangible representation of the story. His discussion with his girlfriend, Monica regarding how the myth itself is less important than the impulse it creates. For Glogauer, the story is what is important to fuel people’s need for compassion, love and forgiveness. His solution was to displace symbolism with a form of fact.

The time travel itself is never discussed in detail but is merely a plot vehicle to establish a litany of allegorical themes that exist within the novella. In this way, science fiction can work at its best. It was never intended as a real explanation of the historical event.

I often think of Stanisław Lem’s masterpiece, Solaris, that questions the notions of identity and the self. That story is set in the future and blurs the boundaries of our notions of our uniqueness and the facsimiles that are ourselves. Science fiction set in the past, can often allow for an even richer form of allegorical study through the study of the human condition through events that have already taken place.

Harriet’s and my novel, Space Taxis, can, and should, be viewed as an allegorical tale that uses science fiction as a speculative vehicle to discuss Heinrich Himmler’s otherwise poorly explained actions towards the end of WW2. It has been carefully researched to include eyewitness and historically recognised accounts of the time. It is a moment to enjoy high adventure, real history, and an all too rare opportunity for allegorical thought provocation.

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“A perfect blend of science fiction and alternate history”

He’s abducted by aliens to the planet Vost.

He’s saving up for his fare home.

But he’s got the small matter of a planetary apocalypse to deal with first…

In 1977 a New York Cab driver Mike Redolfo is abducted by aliens after being mistaken for a renegade scientist. Meanwhile, back in 1944 a mysterious man and his Jewish fiancée are fleeing across Nazi-occupied Europe.

Redolfo tries to keep a low profile on his new world whilst earning his fare home, but unwittingly gets involved with a shady gang of alien criminals, inadvertently bringing the planet to the brink of catastrophe.

As the link between the timelines becomes clear, Redolfo must discover secrets from the past that may hold the key to saving the planet.

If you like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5, and Frank Herbert’s Dune, you’ll love this gripping and entertaining sci-fi mystery thriller.

Purchase Links

Kindle Unlimited

Amazon UK  

Amazon US  

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Author Bio

Adam wasted much of his youth watching Star Trek on the TV and films like Planet of the Apes and Alien on the big screen. He redeemed himself by becoming a surgeon but has since graduated from writing articles for science journals into writing his own Sci Fi and Alternate History stories. As a writer he is dedicated to giving his readers a great story laced with strong, fun and scary characters. Descended from Jewish refugees who escaped from the pogroms, he is haunted by the stories of the Holocaust but inspired by heroes who put themselves at risk to save others. Adam likes to hear from his readers. You can find him at http://adamfroshauthor.com or on his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AdamFroshAuthor

Harriet will never be able to let go of Greek gods. No, not the sculpted Adonis-like figures on the beach, but the ancient ones.

Loving all things mythological, her writing incorporates myths and legends from around the world. Her other fascination is with the criminal mind, and you can expect to see a blend of these two interests in her writing.

As a student of English, she spends her day critiquing literature and her evenings creating exciting characters and fun stories.

Harriet is also an artist, and she would like to hear from her readers and those interested in her art. You can get in contact at http://harrietfrosh.com/

 

Social Media Links

Facebook     |     Twitter

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#GuestPost The Ten Best Political Thriller Films Ever by Jon Land, author of “Murder On The Metro”

Murder On The Metro BannerMarch 1-31, 2021 Tour

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From its very inception, Margaret Truman’s Capital Crimes series has excelled at stitching tales of murder and mystery with Washington, D.C. as a backdrop. Look no further than the title of each of the now 31 entries to find a particular setting in the Capital where a murder sets off a high stakes game or gambit with the pursuit of political power invariably serving as the motive. So to commemorate the publication of MURDER ON THE METRO, my first effort in the series, I thought it would be especially appropriate to conjure up a list of the greatest political thriller films ever, all based on equally terrific books of the same title.

SEVEN DAYS IN MAY: John Frankenheimer’s brilliant adaptation of the Fletcher Knebble bestseller remains the quintessential benchmark of the genre. The mere notion of a military overthrow of the United States government seemed like a true paranoid fantasy until the last few years stretched the limits of what is possible. The plot’s gradual unraveling through the eyes of Colonel “Jigs” Casey, magnificently played by Kirk Douglas, is a structural schematic of brilliant proportions. And Burt Lancaster’s irrepressible and hubris-riddled General James Mattoon Scott leads a stellar cast, highlighted by Fredrick March’s embattled president Jordan Lyman, on a high-stakes romp through corridors of power that never felt so threatened or claustrophobic.

THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR: Dominated and defined by Robert Redford’s portrayal of a CIA cypher whose job it is to read books in search of hidden meanings and nefarious plots that may stray too close to the truth, the thriller by James Grady’s (titled Six Days instead of Three) became the seminal tale to emerge from the post-Watergate era of conspiracy-laden tomes. Evoking classic Hitchcock films featuring an innocent man on the run, director Sydney Pollock pits Redford’s Condor against the whole of the US government when his entire station is wiped out because of a report he wrote. The mystery lies in what he inadvertently uncovered and the fun in watching him do battle with a sinister yet saintly assassin wondrously played by Max Von Sydow. The film’s genius is cemented into legendary status by their final scene, especially the sequence that begins with Von Sydow’s deceptively deadly Joubert saying, “It will happen this way. . .”

ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN: The ultimate political thriller because it was all true. William Goldman’s Oscar-winning screenplay elegantly stitches Woodward and Bernstein’s reportage into a nail-biting narrative you have to pinch yourself to remember is real. There is so much to like here, but nothing exceeds the intrepid reporters’ dogged efforts that roil the halls of power en route to toppling an entire administration. Again, current events have lent this thriller fresh resonance and credibility, reminding us that the press remains the greatest safeguard against would-be tyrants.

FAIL SAFE: Sydney Lumet’s relentlessly suspenseful tale of an accidental nuclear attack launched against the former Soviet Union is included here because it’s dominated by exchanges between the American president, played by Henry Fonda, and the Soviet premier, stoically interpreted by Larry Hagman. As the nightmarish scenario ticks down to a potential doomsday, the principals are faced with an impossible choice. This while a stellar klatch of characters, led by Walter Matthau and Dan O’Herlihy (in his finest role), do battle with themselves and each other. The final moments of the film are among the most powerful ever, right up until the shattering fadeout when O’Herlihy’s doomed General Black realizes he is “the matador,” the villain of his own recurrent, and ultimately prescient, nightmare.

THE CANDIDATE: While running for the senate, Robert Redford’s title character is determined not to let anything get in the way of his ideals. Under the tutelage of a political consultant, wondrously played by the underrated Peter Boyle, though, Redford’s Bill McKay finds himself in a rigged game where the goal posts keep getting moved and the means to winning become an end in themselves. Never has a film’s message been better summed up than in a final line with Redford’s McKay posing a question to Boyle’s Marvin Lucas after they win: “What do we do now?,” to which Lucas has no answer.

BEING THERE: Many consider Peter Sellers’ portrayal of a simpleton who accidentally becomes a pawn of power brokers to be the actor’s finest performance in this farcical parody.  Hal Ashby’s touchtone rendering of Jerzy Kosinski’s classic novel has gained new and scary relevance in an era where truth has become a relative term and facts are dumped into a hamper with yesterday’s laundry. The film is built around a kind of figurative battle between perception and reality with the former winning out hands down. Sound (regrettably) familiar?

ADVISE AND CONSENT: Otto Preminger’s faithful adaptation of the pitch-perfect book by Alan Drury gives a bird’s eye, behind-the-scenes view of all the mechanizations involved in confirmation hearings for a controversial selection for secretary of state. The 1962 film was way ahead of its time in stitching together a trail dominated by duplicitous politicos, backroom manipulations, and the cloudy nature of the truth itself. Preminger’s stunning take on the dark side of politics makes the process a character, and a villain, in itself. The film’s genius lies in the fact that the system portrayed is pretty much the same, and even more broken, 60 years later.

THE PARALLAX VIEW: This is director Alan J. Pakula’s second appearance on this list, a kind of nightmarish expansion of his All the President’s Men. Warren Beatty plays a political reporter whose quest to expose the conspiracy behind the assassination of a presidential candidate evokes memories of Dallas on November 23, 1963 as well as Watergate.  Lacking the support enjoyed by his fictional counterparts, Beatty’s character bites off more than he can chew and ends up getting swallowed himself, along with the entire country, as a result.

THE LAST HURRAH and ALL THE KING’S MEN: A twofer of loosely-disguised biopics on Mayor Michael Curly and Huey “the Kingfish” Long respectively, both classics dwell on the manipulations and mechanizations behind political machines. These period pieces spell doom for the old-fashioned way of doing business as Spencer Tracy’s Frank Skeffington and Broderick Crawford’s Willy Stark find that when you sell your soul, sooner or later the devil comes calling to collect. Again, though, what emerges beyond all else is that in politics the more things change, the more they remain the same.

THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE: We started with one John Frankenheimer adaptation so let’s end with another, in this case the great Richard Condon’s Cold War thriller that lives on stronger than ever in pop culture. What would indeed happen if a young man marked for greatness was actually a brainwashed plant totally beholden to a foreign power? Thankfully, Frank Sinatra’s tortured Major Ben Marco is there to unravel the deceit and save the US from a crazed plot that seemed utterly outlandish . . . until now.

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Synopsis:

Murder On The Metro by Jon Land

Israel: A drone-based terrorist attack kills dozens on a sun-splashed beach in Caesarea.

Washington: America awakens to the shattering news that Vice President Stephanie Davenport has died of an apparent heart attack.

That same morning, a chance encounter on the Washington Metro results in international private investigator Robert Brixton thwarting an attempted terrorist bombing. Brixton has no reason to suspect that the three incidents have anything in common, until he’s contacted by Kendra Rendine, the Secret Service agent who headed up the vice president’s security detail. Rendine is convinced the vice president was murdered and needs Brixton’s investigative expertise to find out why.

In Israel, meanwhile, legendary anti-terrorist fighter Lia Ganz launches her own crusade against the perpetrators of that attack which nearly claimed the lives of her and granddaughter. Ganz’s trail will ultimately take her to Washington where she joins forces with Brixton to uncover an impossible link between the deadly attack on Caesarea and the attempted Metro bombing, as well as the death of the vice president.

The connection lies in the highest corridors of power in Washington where a deadly plot with unimaginable consequences has been hatched. With the clock ticking toward doomsday, Brixton and Ganz race against time to save millions of American lives who will otherwise become collateral damage to a conspiracy destined to change the United States forever.

Praise :

“Jon Land is one of the best thriller writers in the business, and the Capital Crimes series is in superb and skilled hands with him. Nobody does pacing better than Land, and MURDER ON THE METRO starts with a bang and keeps on going at breakneck speed. If you haven’t read this excellent series, start with Land’s MURDER ON THE METRO.” —Lisa Scottoline, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: Forge Books
Publication Date: February 16th 2021
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 1250238870 (ISBN13: 9781250238870)
Series: A Capital Crimes Novel, #31
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

Washington, DC; the next morning

Not again . . .

That was Robert Brixton’s first thought when his gaze locked on the woman seated across from him in the Washington Metro car. He was riding into the city amid the clutter of morning commuters from the apartment in Arlington, Virginia where he now lived alone, his girlfriend Flo Combes having returned to New York.

Former girlfriend, Brixton corrected in his mind. And Flo’s return to New York, where she’d opened her first clothing boutique, looked very much like it was for good this time.

Which brought his attention back to the woman wearing a hijab and bearing a strong resemblance to another Muslim woman who’d been haunting his sleep for five years now, since she’d detonated a suicide bomb inside a crowded DC restaurant, killing Brixton’s daughter Janet and eleven other victims that day. He’d seen it coming, felt it anyway, as if someone had dragged the head of a pin up his spine. He hadn’t been a cop for years at that point, having taken his skills into the private sector, but his instincts remained unchanged, always serving him well and almost always being proven right.

But today he wanted to be wrong, wanted badly to be wrong. Because if his instincts were correct, tragedy was about to repeat itself with him bearing witness yet again, relocated from a bustling café to a crowded Metro car.

The woman wearing the hijab turned enough to meet his gaze, Brixton unable to jerk his eyes away in time and forcing the kind of smile strangers cast each other. The woman didn’t return it, just turned her focus back forward, her expression empty as if bled of emotion. In Brixton’s experience, she resembled a criminal who found strange solace in the notion of being caught after tiring of the chase. That was the suspicious side of his nature. If not for a long career covering various aspects of law enforcement, including a private investigator with strong international ties, Brixton would likely have seen her as the other passengers in the Metro car did: A quiet woman with big soft eyes just hoping to blend in with the scenery and not attract any attention to herself.

Without reading material of any kind, a cell phone in her grasp, or ear buds dangling. Brixton gazed about; as far as he could tell, she was the only passenger in sight, besides him, not otherwise occupied to pass the time. So in striving not to stand out, the young woman had achieved the opposite.

He studied her closer, determining that the woman didn’t look tired, so much as content. And, beneath her blank features, Brixton sensed something taut and resigned, a spring slowly uncoiling. Something, though, had changed in her expression since the moment their eyes had met. She was fidgeting in her seat now, seeking comfort that clearly eluded her.

Just as another suicide bomber had five years ago

If he didn’t know better, he would’ve fully believed he was back in that DC restaurant again, granted a second chance to save his daughter after he’d failed so horribly the first time.

***

Five years ago

What world are you in? Janet had asked a clearly distracted Brixton, then consumed by the nagging feeling dragged up his spine.

Let’s go.

Daddy, I haven’t finished!

Janet always called him “Daddy.” Much had been lost to memory from that day, forcibly put aside, but not that or the moments that followed. It had been the last time she’d ever called him that and Brixton had fought to preserve the recording that existed only in his mind resolvedly ever since. Whenever it faded, he fought to get it back, treating Janet’s final address of him like a voicemail machine message from a lost loved one forever saved on his phone.

Come on.

Is something wrong?

We’re leaving.

Brixton had headed to the door, believing his daughter was right behind him. He realized she wasn’t only when he was through it, turning back toward the table to see Janet facing the Muslim woman wearing the hijab who was chanting in Arabic.

Janet!

He’d started to storm back inside to get her when the explosion shattered the placid stillness of the day, an ear-splitting blast that hit him like a Category Five wind gust to the chest and sent him sprawling to the sidewalk. His head ping-ponged off the concrete, threatening his grip on consciousness. Parts of a splintered table came flying in his direction and he threw his arms over his face to shield it from wooden shards and other debris that caked the air, cataloguing them as they soared over him in absurd counterpoint. Plates, glasses, skin, limbs, eyeglasses, knives, forks, beer mugs, chair legs and arms, calamari, boneless ribs, pizza slices, a toy gorilla that had been held by a child a table two removed from where he’d been sitting with Janet, and empty carafes of wine with their contents seeming to trail behind them like vapor trails.

The surreal nature of that moment made Brixton think he might be sleeping, all this no more than the product of an airy dream to be lost to memory by the time woke. He remembered lying on the sidewalk, willing himself to wake up, to rouse from this nightmare-fueled stupor. The worst moment of his life followed the realization that he wasn’t asleep and an imponderable wave of grief washed over him, stealing his next breath and making him wonder if he even wanted to bother trying for another.

Brixton had stumbled to his feet before what moments earlier had been a bustling café filled with happy people. Now, bodies were everywhere, some piled on top of others, blood covering everything and everyone. He touched the side of his face and pulled bloody fingers away from the wound. He looked back into the café in search of his daughter but saw only a tangle of limbs and clothing where they’d been sitting.

“Oh, my God,” he whispered, his senses sharpening. “Janet!”

Washington’s Twenty-third Street had been crammed with pedestrians at the time of the blast, joined now by people pouring out of office buildings and other restaurants nearby, within eye or earshot of the dual blasts. Brixton’s attempts to get closer to the carnage, holding out hope Janet might still be alive, were thwarted at every turn by throngs fleeing in panic in an endless wave.

“My daughter! My daughter!” he kept crying out, as if that might make the crowd yield and the chaos recede.

***

It wasn’t until Brixton reached the hospital that he learned Janet hadn’t made it out, had been declared one of the missing. Having served as an agent for a private security agency out-sourced to the State Department at the time, he knew all too well that missing meant dead. He had another daughter, Janet’s older sister, who’d given him a beautiful grandson he loved dearly, but that was hardly enough to make up for the loss of Janet. And the guilt over not having dragged her out with him when she’d resisted leaving had haunted him to this very moment, when instinct told him many on this crowded subway car might well be about to join her.

Thanks to another woman wearing a hijab, but it wasn’t just that. Brixton had crossed paths with an untold number of Arab women in the five years since Janet’s death, and not one before today had ever elicited in him the feeling he had now. She might’ve been a twin of the bomber who’d taken his daughter from him, about whom Brixton could recall only one thing:

Her eyes.

This woman had the very same shifting look, trying so hard to appear casual that it seemed she was wearing a costume, sticking out to him as much as a kid on Halloween. Brixton spun his gaze back in her direction, prepared to measure off the distance between them and how he might cover it before she could trigger her explosives.

But the young woman was gone.

Brixton looked down the center aisle cluttered with commuters clutching poles or dangling hand-hold straps. He spotted the young woman in the hijab an instant before she cocked her gaze briefly back in his direction, a spark of clear recognition flashing when their eyes met this time.

She knows I made her, Brixton thought, heavy with fear as he climbed to his feet.

He started after her, heart hammering in his chest, the sensation he was feeling in that dreadful moment all too familiar. He couldn’t help but catalogue the people he passed in the woman’s wake, many of whom were either his late daughter’s age or younger. Smiling, gabbing away on their phones, reading a book, or lost between their earbuds without any knowledge of how horribly their lives might very well be about to change. If he needed any further motivation to keep moving and stop the potential suicide bomber though any means necessary, that was it. Doubt vanished, Brixton trusting his instincts in a way he hadn’t that tragic day five years ago when he was still a de facto agent for the US government.

Janet . . .

In Brixton’s mind, this was no longer a Metro car, but the same restaurant where a suicide bomber had taken a dozen lives and wounded dozens more. And he found himself faced with the chance to do today what he hadn’t done five years ago.

Stop!

Had Brixton barked that command out loud, or merely formed the thought in his head. Other passengers were staring at him now, his surge up the aisle disturbing the meager comfort of their morning routine.

Ahead of him, the woman wearing the hijab had picked up her pace, Brixton spotting her dip a hand beneath a jacket that seemed much too heavy for the unseasonably mild Washington, DC spring. His experience with the State Department working for the shadowy SITQUAL group, along with that as a cop, told him she was likely reaching for the pull cord that would detonate the suicide vest concealed under bulky sweatshirt and jacket.

If you could relive the day of your daughter’s death, what would you do?

I’d shoot the bitch before she had the chance to yank that cord, Brixton thought, drawing his Sig Sauer P-226 nine-millimeter pistol. It had survived his tenure with SITQUAL as his weapon of choice, well balanced and deadly accurate.

He could feel the crowd around him recoiling, pulling back, when they saw the pistol steadied in his hand. Several gasped. A woman cried out. A kid dropped his cell phone into Brixton’s path and he accidentally kicked it aside.

“Stop!”

Shouted out loud for sure this time, the dim echo bouncing off the Metro car’s walls as it wound in thunderous fashion through the tube. The young woman in the hijab was almost to the rear door separating this car from the next. Brixton was close enough to hear the whoooooshhh as she engaged the door, breaking the rule that prohibited passengers from such car-hopping.

“Stop!”

She turned her gaze back toward him as he raised his pistol, ready to take the shot he hadn’t taken five years ago. Passengers cried out and shrank from his path. The door hissed closed, the young woman regarding him vacantly through the safety glass as she stretched hand out blindly to activate the door accessing the next car back.

And that’s when she stumbled. Brixton was well aware of the problems encountered by this new 7000 series of Metro railcars after federal safety officials raised repeated concerns about a potential safety risk involving the barriers between cars that were designed to prevent blind and visually impaired people from inadvertently walking off the platform and falling through the gap. The issue initially was raised by disability rights advocates, who argued the rubber barriers were spaced too far apart, leaving enough room for a small person to slip through.

The young woman wearing the hijab was small. And she started to slip through.

Brixton watched her drop from sight an instant before an all-too familiar flash created a star burst before him. He felt light, floating as if there was nothing beneath his feet, because for a moment there wasn’t. The piercing blast that buckled the Metro car door blew him backward, the percussion lifting him up and then dropping him back down, still in motion sliding across the floor amid a demolition derby of commuters crashing into each other, as the train barreled along. Separated now from its rear-most cars, what remained of the train whipsawed through the tube with enough force to lift this car from the rails and send it alternately slamming up against one side and then the other.

Brixton maintained the presence of mind to realize his back and shoulders had come to rest awkwardly against a seat, even as the squeal of the brakes engaging grew into a deafening wail and his eyes locked on the car door that to him looked as if someone had used a can opener to carve a jagged fissure along the center of its buckled seam. The car itself seemed to be swaying—left, right, and back again—but he couldn’t be sure if that was real or the product of the concussion he may have suffered from the blast wave or upon slamming up against the seat.

Unlike five years ago, Brixton had come to rest sitting up, staring straight ahead at the back door of the Metro car currently held at an awkwardly angled perch nearly sideways across the tracks. He realized that through it all he’d somehow maintained grasp of his pistol, now steadied at the twisted remnants of the Metro car door as if he expected the young woman to reappear at any moment.

Janet . . .

A wave of euphoria washed over Brixton as, this time, he thought he’d saved her, making the best of the do-over fate had somehow granted him. The Metro car floor felt soft and cushiony, leaving him with the dream-like sense he was drifting away toward the bright lights shining down from the ceiling.

And then there was only darkness.

***

Excerpt from Murder on the Metro by Jon Land. Copyright 2021 by Jon Land. Reproduced with permission from Jon Land. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Jon Land

JON LAND is the USA Today bestselling author of over fifty books, including eleven in the critically acclaimed Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong series, the most recent of which, Strong from the Heart, won the 2020 American Fiction Award for Best Thriller and the 2020 American Book Fest Award for Best Mystery/Suspense Novel. Additionally, he has teamed up with Heather Graham for a science fiction series that began with THE RISING (winner of the 2017 International Book Award for best Sci-fi Novel) and continues with BLOOD MOON. He has also written six books in the Murder, She Wrote series of mysteries and has more recently taken over Margaret Truman’s Capital Crimes series, beginning with Murder on the Metro in February of 2021. A graduate of Brown University, he received the 2019 Rhode Island Authors Legacy Award for his lifetime of literary achievements. Land lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

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#AudioTour “Stolen” by Marlena Frank

Author: Marlena Frank

Narrator: Caoilainn O’Horen

Length: 11 hours 32 minutes

Series: The Stolen Series, Book 1

Publisher: The Parliament House

Released: Dec. 16, 2020

Genre: Fantasy; YA


It’s difficult taking care of a delusional father by yourself. Sixteen-year-old Shaleigh Mallet would rather explore and photograph dilapidated buildings than cater to her father’s dark episodes. But when she’s kidnapped by a creature who carries her atop a flying bicycle into another world, she realizes this wasn’t the escape she wanted.

In a kingdom known as the Garden, where minotaurs pull carriages and parties are held in hot air balloons, Madam Cloom and her faerie servant, Teagan, rule over the land with incredible but terrifying magic. Shaleigh must prove that she is the reincarnation of a long-dead ruler, not because she believes it, but because it’s her only chance to survive. With the help of a trespassing faerie, a stoatling, and a living statue, Shaleigh hopes to outwit everyone. She aims to break the bonds of servitude and finally make her way home. What she doesn’t realize, however, is that she’s playing right into the hands of a far worse enemy.

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Marlena Frank is the author of books and novellas that span genres from young adult fantasy to horror. Her debut novel, Stolen Book 1 of the Stolen series, has hit the Amazon bestseller charts twice. She has two books coming out in 2021: Chosen, the final book in the Stolen trilogy, and The Impostor and Other Dark Tales, a collection of dark fantasy and horror short stories.

Marlena has also written several fantasy and horror short stories, which have been included in notable anthologies such as Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Not Your Average Monster Volume 2, and The Sirens Call issue #29.

Although she was born in Tennessee, Marlena has spent most of her life in Georgia. She lives with her sister and three spoiled cats. She serves as the Vice President of the Atlanta Chapter of the Horror Writers Association and is an avid member of the Atlanta cosplay community.

She is also a Hufflepuff, an INFJ, a tea drinker, and a wildlife enthusiast.

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Narrator Bio

Caoilainn is a narrator hailing from Los Angeles, they work from their professional home recording studio. Having grown up in the generation inspired by the Disney renaissance, they fell in love with animation and the voices behind the characters. Having been an avid reader, Caoilainn was originally going to school for animation and game design but switched their career path when they learned about audio books and how one person could bring so many characters to life. They started their Voice Over career in early 2017 and it has been their primary focus since then.

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Author Marlena Frank’s TOP TEN LITERARY INSPIRATIONS

The problem with reading a lot of different books means that you have a bunch of literary inspirations as an author. I read a lot of different fiction, but my reading tastes skew toward fantasy and horror. I have always read a bunch of young adult fiction too. Of the six books I’ve written, Stolen is my love letter to the fantasy stories from my youth with a focus on lush worlds and vibrant characters that I’ve loved.

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is a big inspiration. Alice is trapped in a world that doesn’t make sense, but she must navigate it anyway to get home. Her key to survival is negotiation and playing mind games with the creatures she encounters. One of the pieces of Stolen that I love so dearly is the dialogue and banter. There are so many layers to everything going on, so there is a lot that can be gleaned on each reading.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is another book I love. Something about the quiet, rather unlikeable Mary at the start of the story having to learn and grow during the book impacted me. So many people tell her she’s mean and rude, not caring how she feels, then she learns to find her own place, find people who accept her, and reach out to her grieving father. The descriptions of the garden are incredible too. Although the leaves look dead in winter, they slowly grow back in over spring, and as they come to life, Mary also finds her own happiness.

In Stolen, Shaleigh is kidnapped and taken into the Land of the Fae, a world filled with faeries and other strange beings with an unusual portrayal of magic. The inspiration for the magic came from my love of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. It’s a long book with footnotes galore. Although it starts slow, it builds into an inspiring portrayal and use of magic. Somehow Clarke seamlessly mixes the absurd with reality. One of my favorite parts of that book were the dark and surreal portrayal of the Fae and how their magical pacts worked in bizarre ways.

It would be wrong not to mention perhaps the biggest inspiration for Stolen, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. This was a favorite book of mine growing up, and my favorite scene involves the banter between two characters. The whole story builds up to the encounter of Bilbo the hobbit and Smaug the dragon, and after seeing the destruction this dragon can do and the hoard of gold he has collected, what does Bilbo do? Distract him with riddles. It’s great! I love seeing characters have to use their wits to overcome challenges rather than their strength alone.

Stolen was really a culmination of a bunch of stories I’ve loved, of concepts I was drawn to, and of worlds that captivated me as a child. Not only is it a world I loved building, but it’s one that I went on to expand on in the following books in the trilogy: Broken and Chosen. I hope it inspires others as I was inspired by so many incredible fantasy books over the years.

 

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#GuestPost By the Book by Lee Matthew Goldberg, author of “Orange City”

OrangeCity

Welcome to the tour for Orange City by Lee Matthew Goldberg! Today I have an excerpt to read and a chance to win a signed copy of the book!

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~~ Guest Post ~~

By the Book

What books are on your nightstand?

My list of books to read next are The Power by Naomi Alderman, Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami, The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson, The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai, and Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.

 What was the last truly great book you read?

Probably A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles about a count in 1920s Russia who’s sentenced to house arrest at a grand hotel across from the Kremlin. While some of the most tumultuous decades of Russia accelerate outside of his doors, he remains removed from the action. It completely transports you to another place and time.  

 What’s your favorite thing to read? And what do you avoid reading?

I love a good thriller with a plot. Because I write thrillers mostly, I can see twists and turns coming a mile away so if an author is able to really surprise me, I’m hooked. I don’t avoid any genres. I dislike overrated books. Some novels get anointed and they just don’t deserve the attention. Like this book The Wife Between Us, which was cheesy, unbelievable, and the twists were so obvious. Skip that one.

 What book would we be surprised to find on your shelf?

I love great sci-fi as well. I don’t read it too often but when it’s done right and the author really takes the time to build a new world, it’s very satisfying. I’ve never read Dune, but it’s been waiting on my shelf for a long time.

 Are you a rereader? What kinds of books do you find yourself returning to time and time again?

I reread only my favorite books and usually it’s the classics. Catcher in the Rye I read when I was twelve and go back every few years. As you get older, Holden becomes whinier, but it’s still great. Confederacy of Dunces, The Great Gatsby, Wuthering Heights, A Moveable Feast, East of Eden, Brave New World, The Sheltering Sky, The Good Soldier and 1984 I’ve reread many times.   

 What’s the last book that made you laugh?

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh. It’s about a twenty-something woman who just wants to sleep for a year. Some readers might only take away the depressing parts of it, but the nameless narrator is hilarious in her awfulness. It reminded be a lot of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. People assume it’s sad because of the author’s background, but actually it’s satirical.

 What’s the last book that made you cry?

The Road by Cormac McCarthy, a post-apocalyptic novel about a father and son walking through a burned America. Besides it being sparse but beautifully written, it captures the need to preserve humanity while watching it be stripped away.

 What’s the last book that made you furious?

The Girl on the Train got so much hype but was pretty average with an annoying narrator and all of its twists were easy to spot. Great cover though. Also, I’m over reading books about unreliable narrators because of their drinking. It gets boring.

 What kind of reader were you as a child?

I loved the Choose Your Own Adventure books because I was a writer as a child and I liked the power of having control of the story. I also read a lot of Encyclopedia Brown and Henry and Ribsy and the Ramona Quimby books by Beverly Cleary. I also loved the Bunnicula books by James Howe and Deborah Howe   

 Who is your favorite fictional hero or heroine? Your favorite antihero or villain?

Wuthering Heights is one of my favorite books and I like that Heathcliff is both the hero and the villain. I love a good villain. In my novel The Mentor, the main character is a villain. You hate him for what he does but hopefully understand him a little by the end. The villain is always more interesting than the hero anyway.

 You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?

I mentioned Cormac McCarthy before so he’d definitely be invited. Maybe I’d add Jay McInerney and Donna Tartt, since they came of age around the same time in the 1980s and were some of the first adult books I read as a teenager like Bright Lights, Big City and The Secret History. Also, Jay McInerney knows a lot about wine so he’d help with some good pairings.

 If you could meet any writer, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you want to know?

Scott Fitzgerald is my favorite novelist. I read The Great Gatsby in high school and knew I wanted to become a writer. But since he never really achieved fame and critical success in his lifetime, I’d want to know if he ever thought he’d be as popular as he became. And also, how to construct such amazing sentences.

 Whom would you choose to write your life story?

Hmmm, that’s a good one. Maybe I’d do it myself when I’m eighty. No one knows it better than me.

~~~

SYNOPSIS

Orange City

Expected Publication Date: March 16th, 2021

Genre: Science Fiction/ Dystopian Sci-Fi

Imagine a secret, hidden city that gives a second chance at life for those selected to come: felons, deformed outcasts, those on the fringe of the Outside World. Everyone gets a job, a place to live; but you are bound to the city forever. You can never leave.

Its citizens are ruled by a monstrous figure called the “Man” who resembles a giant demented spider from the lifelike robotic limbs attached to his body. Everyone follows the man blindly, working hard to make their Promised Land stronger, too scared to defy him and be discarded to the Empty Zones.

After ten years as an advertising executive, Graham Weatherend receives an order to test a new client, Pow! Sodas. After one sip of the orange flavor, he becomes addicted, the sodas causing wild mood swings that finally wake him up to the prison he calls reality.

A dynamic mash-up of 1984 meets LOST, ORANGE CITY is a lurid, dystopian first book in a series that will continue with the explosive sequel LEMONWORLD.

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Excerpt

At six on the dot, the gloved cellular let out a piercing ring. A timer turned on, ticking down with each buzz. E wouldn’t have long to remain idle. The entire pod apartment vibrated, and his capsule bed slid open. The white ceiling drew his attention, the walls devoid of color, a minimalist’s fantasy—nothing like a home.

Shades of the dream from last night still lingered. His knuckles painted with blood as he beat a shadow. The voice of the shadow belonging to a ten-year-old boy. The boy’s cries stabbing E’s ears. He shook that dream away.

He removed the intravenous tube that connected him to his bed and switched off the cooling mist which allowed him to slumber for days. He stretched his old bones, his hair standing up in a state of white shock like it had since he was a young man. Swinging his thick legs over the side of the bed, he yawned at the morning before finally answering his cell.

“I’ll be right there,” he coughed into the digital eye on his gloved palm.

He removed the glove and pushed a button on the side of the bed. Doors opening along the wall revealed a sliver of a kitchen with a piping pot of subpar and gritty coffee brewing on the counter— the best offered to the Scouts— and two sizzling poached eggs from a suspect source. He scarfed down the eggs and pushed another button to raise the shades along the lone wall facing east. The heart of The City hovered in the near distance, its new buildings staggering on one end like giant colorful stalagmites. Sipping his black coffee, he watched it in motion as he did every morning.

Between the Scouts and the rest of The City lay a half a mile of ice water. The City was made up of many Regions, his situated on the outskirts. Sometimes he wondered what it would be like to fall into those frosty waters and drift off to wherever it might choose to take him, no longer having to shuttle between The City and the faraway Outside World anymore. But instead of a dramatic suicide, he suited up and headed through the tunnel with a suitcase in hand like he had for twenty years. He’d convinced himself long ago that living here was better than rotting in prison like he would’ve been if they hadn’t selected him. At least he was still able to get lost in a bottle of whiskey or feel the sun against his cheek during

the few instances it was allowed to peek through the chronic clouds. Even though The City was far from ideal, the Outside World remained definitely worse. It reminded him too often of the man he used to be and of the terrible sins he’d committed. These thoughts returned at the beginning of every week while he geared up for another one, as he wondered if one day the Man in the Eye might give him a promotion and he wouldn’t have to be a Scout anymore.

That way, he’d never have to return to the Outside World.

Then, he could possibly be at peace, like all The City’s inhabitants wished.

Available on Amazon!

About the Author

DSCF2105b copy

Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels THE ANCESTOR, THE MENTOR, THE DESIRE CARD and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the Prix du Polar. His first YA series RUNAWAY TRAIN is forthcoming in 2021 along with a sci-fi novel ORANGE CITY. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in The Millions, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, LitReactor, Monkeybicycle, Fiction Writers Review, Cagibi, Necessary Fiction, the anthology Dirty Boulevard, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. He is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. Follow him at LeeMatthewGoldberg.com

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Giveaway: Signed Copy of Orange City (US ONLY)

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Book Tour Schedule

March 1st

Reads & Reels (Guest Post) http://readsandreels.com

Bonnie Reads and Writes (Review) https://bonniereadsandwrites.wordpress.com

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

Scarlett Readz & Runz (Spotlight) https://www.scarlettreadzandrunz.com/

March 2nd

Horror Tree (Guest Post) https://www.horrortree.com

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

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

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

March 3rd

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

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

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

Tsarina Press (Spotlight) https://tsarinapress.com/blog/

March 4th

Book After Book (Interview) http://bookafterbook.blogspot.com/

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

Book Review Crew (Review) https://bookreviewcrew.blogspot.com

Rambling Mads (Spotlight) http://ramblingmads.com

March 5th

Sophril Reads (Spotlight) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

Cup of Toast (Spotlight) https://cupoftoast.co.uk

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

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

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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!

~~~

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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