#CoverReveal “Bang: A Dark Billionaire Romance (Villains Club Book 5)” by Abbi Cook

Bang cover

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Bang

by Abbi Cook

Series: Villains Club #5 – Dark Billionaire Romance

Cover Design: Clarise Tan, CT Cover Creations

Photo: Michelle Lancaster

Model: Chase Mattson

Release Date: February 8, 2022

PRE-ORDER LINKS:

US: https://amzn.to/2YEKIc1

UK: https://amzn.to/3BzZAaa

CA: https://amzn.to/3oVSOYZ

AU: https://amzn.to/3azppLH

BLURB

Helix Rule is a madman. Some say it comes from who his mother was. Others say it’s because of his father.

Whatever the reason, he gets more dangerous with every passing day.

His brothers think he’s the favorite son of Stephen Rule. If that’s true, his favor has been bought and paid for with blood, sweat, and tears.

I don’t care about any of that, though. To me, Helix will always be that one soul who’s meant for me.

Everyone thinks I’m some fool who doesn’t know what he does when I’m not around. I know. I also know why he does those things.

You see, just as he’s the only person who understands me, I’m the only one who knows what lies beneath the madness.

We’re joined together until the end. Only Helix decides when the end will come.

GOODREADS LINK: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56468277-bang

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/abbicookauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/abbicookauthor

TikTok: https://vm.tiktok.com/ZM8Y6uXrX/

#Bang #CoverReveal #AbbiCook #DarkRomance #BareNakedWords

#ReleaseDay “Cross My Heart: A Family Saga Romance (Lone Star Crossed Saga Book 1)” by Kris Jayne

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The star-crossed love affair starts with a lie…

Real-estate mogul Carter Cross has spent his life toiling for another man’s legacy. Then, a phone call unlocks his true destiny as part of the country’s wealthiest oil dynasty. With his famously cool command, he’ll stop at nothing to seize the Cross family’s birthright.

When an infamous oil baron drops dead in a most scandalous fashion, tabloid reporter Nisha Donovan gets assigned to dig up dirt on the new J.P. Star Energy executive—the filthier, the better.

Neither of them counts on their undeniable attraction derailing their plans, but sometimes a star-crossed love can’t be denied. Can Carter and Nisha escape the snares of power to build a new legacy together?

Cross My Heart is book one in The Lone Star Crossed Saga and has a happily ever after. The family saga unfolds with soapy dramatic fun in each book, but there are no romance cliffhangers. Book one has a slow burn but heats up—way up—at the end, so grab a fan!

Amazon

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#ReleaseTour “Backup Offer (Stewart Realty, Book 9)” by Liz Crowe

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Backup Offer Cover

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Author: Liz Crowe

Genre: Contemporary Second-Chance Romance

An ex-boyfriend, his massive dog, her house, and no hotel room in sight. What could go wrong?

After Blair ended things with Brandis, she was determined to get away–and stay away from him for good. She put family, friends, and the life she knew in Michigan in her rear view mirror and started over. As owner and head chef of her own place in Louisville, she stays plenty busy, especially since “Blair’s Kitchen” is the darling of the restaurant scene. She’s managed to avoid Michigan for almost a decade, but when her best friend needs her help, she drops everything and heads home.

Brandis has spent the last ten years coming to terms with addiction, personal tragedy, and the loss of the woman he loved. He’s now the third generation to run his family’s construction business, and he’s managed to reconstruct tattered relationships with his family. He’s even adopted a dog, thanks to some donated renovation time spent at an animal shelter. He’s got everything he needs—except a for one thing.

When the contractor she paid to build her restaurant’s expansion vanishes, leaving her with a giant mess, Blair only hesitates a moment before calling Brandis for help. But when he rushes to her side to evaluate the crisis, there isn’t an available room in a twenty mile radius. So they settle in to a routine—her, her one-time boyfriend, and his giant, slobbering dog in her small house. It doesn’t take long for the temptation of close proximity to give way, and while Blair tries to keep it all physical, Brandis has other ideas.

The end of the Stewart Realty saga brings the second generation full-circle in ways many never expected, but no one regrets.

Stewart Realty Book 9

Or as a stand-alone novel

Content warnings:

References to past addiction

Pregnancy

Birth scene

Super cute bonding between man and his adopted pit bull

Feels. Lots and lots of feels.

Heat level: medium-hot (3 scenes that are explicit)

Universal: https://books2read.com/u/mvqEq2

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EXCERPT

“He’s doing really well, Blair.”

She froze, her jaw locked, her heart pounding in her ears. “Don’t,” she squeaked out.

“Seriously, I think you guys should…”

“Don’t you dare, Gabriel Freitag.” She kept her voice level. “Don’t you even think about daring. I couldn’t bear to keep watching him fail, or for you to have to watch me watching him.” Her voice cracked. She didn’t believe she was having this conversation after all these years. Fury blinded her.

“Listen, hear me out. He’s really great now. His company is gangbusters. He’s added this whole handyman thing, he calls it the Honey Do Crew. And he’s mentoring at-risk kids out of juvi, hiring them for scut work and making sure they get supervision so they can learn a trade. He… he got a dog, Blair.”

She was shocked that there was anything left to of it to break, but the look in her brother’s eyes shattered what remained of her heart. Brandis Gordon. The great mistake of her young life. The thing that had come between her and her family, and her friends. He’d been a golden boy, rising star football player, stellar student, handsome son of attractive, successful parents who were her own parents’ best friends. They’d celebrated every single holiday together, traveled and vacationed as a giant, rowdy group, partied as a unit for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, the works.

Until she and Brandis had gone and fallen for each other the way only teenagers did—fully, and with the sort of gusto and conviction which had, for a time, been the one thing she’d lived for. When he’d come apart on so many levels and in so many ways, it had blasted holes in relationships between the close-knit families. She shuddered and held up both hands as if in surrender.

“I left him, and my family, behind on purpose. Because I had to do it. Brandis and I will never be anything but a memory. Period. I have to get some sleep.” She whirled on her heel and marched into the bathroom. Once inside, she slammed the door, leaned against it, and slid to the floor, grabbing a hand towel on her way down to muffle the stupid, inevitable sobs. 

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Enter to win one of FOUR Big Surprise Book Boxes!

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Giveaway

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Author Bio

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Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville living in Central Illinois. She’s spent her time as a three-continent expat trailing spouse, mom of three, real estate agent, brewery owner and bar manager, and is currently a social media consultant and humane society development director, in addition to being an award-winning author. With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, inside fictional television stations and successful real estate offices, and even in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are compelling and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, at times frustrate, and always linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.

Follow along with Liz online:

TWITTER:  https://twitter.com/LizCroweAuthor

FACEBOOK:  http://www.facebook.com/lizcroweauthor

FACEBOOK CHAT ROOM: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Lizcrowefans

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/lizcroweauthor/

TIKTOK: https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMeQoUHjD/

BOOKBUB: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/liz-crowe

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: https://www.amazon.com/Liz-Crowe/e/B00573TC7M

GOODREADS PAGE: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4350864.Liz_Crowe

WEBSITE: http://www.lizcrowe.com

SIGN UP FOR THE LIZ NEWSLETTER & GET A FREE BOOK: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/r2a2q5

INTERESTING HUMANS PODCAST INTERVIEW; https://interestinghumanspodcast.buzzsprout.com/639664/6917804-liz-crowe-romancing-the-romance-novel

BOOKS ON THE MIC PODCAST INTERVIEW: https://www.audible.com/pd/Books-on-the-Mic-Ep-16-Liz-Crowe-Desiree-Holt-Podcast/B092QRW2HP

EMAIL LIZ: lizcroweauthor@gmail.com

https://linktr.ee/LizCrowe

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#ReleaseBlitz “Back Up Offer (Stewart Realty, #9)” by Liz Crowe

Title: Back Up Offer (Stewart Realty, #9)
Author: Liz Crowe
Genre: Family Saga, Fiction

Release Date: July 13, 2021
Hosted by: Buoni Amici Press, LLC.

When Blair ended things for good with her long-time boyfriend, she knew she’d have to get away–and stay away–from him. Which meant leaving family, friends, and the only life she knew in Michigan in her rear view mirror and opening a farm-to-table restaurant in a new city. Being owner/head chef keeps her plenty busy, especially since “Blair’s Kitchen” has become the talk of the restaurant scene thanks to its fresh approach to food, drinks, and paying her staff a living wage. She’s managed to avoid traveling home for almost a decade, but when her best friend needs her help, she drops everything and heads back, figuring she’s had enough time away to resist Brandis’ pull.

After years spent fighting addiction and the fall-out from personal tragedy, including losing Blair thanks to his own bad behavior, Brandis has spent the last ten putting his life in order. As the third generation president of his family’s successful construction company, he’s added several new services, including a program that hires at-risk teens and pays them to learn trade skills. He’s also reconstructed his relationships with his family, and is his older sister’s go-to kid wrangler. He’s even adopted a dog, thanks to some donated renovation time spent at the local animal shelter. He’s got everything he needs—except a girlfriend.

When the contractor she’d already paid to build her restaurant’s expansion takes her check and vanishes , leaving her with a giant mess and little money, Blair only hesitates a moment before calling Brandis. She’d managed fine when she’d seen him in Michigan, after all. What could go wrong? Famous last words, she figures, when she realizes that the weekend he comes to evaluate her crisis is so busy there isn’t a hotel room to be found in a ten mile radius. So they settle in to a routine—her, her one-time boyfriend, and his giant, slobbering dog in her small house. It doesn’t take long for the temptation of close proximity to give way, and while Blair is determined to make it nothing more than physical, Brandis has other ideas.

The end of the Stewart Realty series saga brings the second generation full-circle in ways many never expected, but no one regrets.

AMAZON | APPLE BOOKS | NOOK | KOBO |

Tweet: Book 9 in the Stewart Realty Series, Back Up Offer By @ElizabethTCrowe is #Live Buy Now at your favourite retailer https://ctt.ec/9Fo5b+ Start the Series: https://ctt.ec/a0zYw+ #BAPpr #Fiction #FamilySaga

Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville living in Central Illinois. She’s spent her time as a three-continent expat trailing spouse, mom of three, real estate agent, brewery owner and bar manager, and is currently a social media consultant and humane society development director, in addition to being an award-winning author. With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, inside fictional television stations and successful real estate offices, and even in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are compelling and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, at times frustrate, and always linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.

AMAZON| iBOOKS| NOOK| KOBO

#ReleaseBlitz “Good Faith” by Liz Crowe

 

Title: Good Faith (Stewart Realty, #8)
Author: Liz Crowe
Genre: Family Saga, Fiction

Release Date: June 8, 2021
Cover Designer: Buoni Amici Press
Publisher: Buoni Amici Press
Hosted by: Buoni Amici Press, LLC.

Brandis Gordon struggles to maintain control as he ricochets between wild success and miserable failure as an energetic boy, an athletic teen, and young adult, proving time and again how even the strongest relationships can be strangled by the ties that bind.

Blair Freitag spent her entire life in close contact with her family’s friends, the Gordons. But when her obsession with the boy who at one time was nothing but a teasing nuisance, blossoms into a strength of will that Brandis comes to depend on a little too much, all bets are off.

A chronicle of three families navigating teen years minefields, into the turbulence of young adulthood, Good Faith holds up a mirror to contemporary life, unflinchingly reflecting life’s joys and temptations. Somewhere between the tangle of good memories and bad, independence and addiction, optimism and despair, the intertwined destinies of the new Stewart Realty generation collide, leaving some stronger, others broken, but none unscathed.

Please note:

GOOD FAITH is mainstream fiction with romantic elements. Is it not a romance as it lacks a final HEA but it contains the following:

2 YA /coming of age romances only one of which works out during this books

1 addiction storyline

1 death of a main character

Teenagers having consensual sex

AMAZON| iBOOKS| NOOK| KOBO

Tweet: Book 8 in the Stewart Realty Series, Good Faith By @ElizabethTCrowe is #Live Buy Now at your favourite retailer https://ctt.ec/bmB92+ Pre Order Back Up Offer https://ctt.ec/ds2Uf+ Start the Series: https://ctt.ec/qk2Be+ #BAPpr #Fiction #FamilySaga

✦✦ COVER REVEAL ✦✦

Back Up Offer (Stewart Realty,#9)

Release Date: July 13, 2021

Pre Order Today!!

AMAZON| NOOK| KOBO

Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville living in Central Illinois. She’s spent her time as a three-continent expat trailing spouse, mom of three, real estate agent, brewery owner and bar manager, and is currently a social media consultant and humane society development director, in addition to being an award-winning author. With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, inside fictional television stations and successful real estate offices, and even in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are compelling and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, at times frustrate, and always linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.

Start the series for #Free

AMAZON | iBOOKS | NOOK| KOBO

#CoverReveal “Good Faith” by Liz Crowe

Title: Good Faith (Stewart Realty, #8)
Author: Liz Crowe
Genre: Family Saga, Fiction

Release Date: June 8, 2021
Cover Designer: Buoni Amici Press
Publisher: Buoni Amici Press
Hosted by: Buoni Amici Press, LLC.

Brandis Gordon struggles to maintain control as he ricochets between wild success and miserable failure as an energetic boy, an athletic teen, and young adult, proving time and again how even the strongest relationships can be strangled by the ties that bind.

Blair Freitag spent her entire life in close contact with her family’s friends, the Gordons. But when her obsession with the boy who at one time was nothing but a teasing nuisance, blossoms into a strength of will that Brandis comes to depend on a little too much, all bets are off.

A chronicle of three families navigating teen years minefields, into the turbulence of young adulthood, Good Faith holds up a mirror to contemporary life, unflinchingly reflecting life’s joys and temptations. Somewhere between the tangle of good memories and bad, independence and addiction, optimism and despair, the intertwined destinies of the new Stewart Realty generation collide, leaving some stronger, others broken, but none unscathed.

AMAZON

> https://ctt.ec/0X9o1+ ‎ #Preorder your copy @Amazon https://ctt.ec/nq7ZX+ the Series https://ctt.ec/R24Yd+ #BAPpr #Fiction #FamilySaga”>

Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville living in Central Illinois. She’s spent her time as a three-continent expat trailing spouse, mom of three, real estate agent, brewery owner and bar manager, and is currently a social media consultant and humane society development director, in addition to being an award-winning author. With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, inside fictional television stations and successful real estate offices, and even in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are compelling and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, at times frustrate, and always linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.

Start the series by reading books 1-7

AMAZON | AppleBooks | Nook | Kobo

#Excerpt “The Boy and the Lake” by Adam Pelzman


Family Saga Fiction. Literary Fiction

Date Published: October 7th, 2020

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Haunted by his discovery of a beloved neighbor’s body floating lifeless in the lake where he’s fishing, 16-year-old Benjamin Baum is convinced she was murdered despite her death being deemed an accident.  While those around him tire of his fixation on finding a supposed killer, Ben’s alienation leads to drinking and the reader begins to wonder if he’s a reliable narrator. The plot takes a shocking twist, revealing the terrifying reality that things are not what they seem—that, beneath a façade of prosperity and contentment, darkness lurks. 


CHAPTER ONE

June 1967

I can recall with near perfect clarity the moment I saw Helen Lowenthal’s bloated body slide up through a carpet of emerald water lilies and bob on the water’s surface like a ghostly musk turtle. In the seconds before her lifeless ascent, a constellation of fireflies—tiny flickering furnaces—danced and glowed in the early summer dusk; a white egret, all legs and neck, landed atop Split Rock and stood regal guard over the lake; a long-eared bat carved wicked arcs through the sky before devouring a plump imperial moth.

From the direction of Second Beach, Nathan Gold’s pontoon boat—the Ark—puttered along the shoreline with four prosperous couples reveling in their evening cocktails. A symphony of big bands, laughter, and giddy howls poured off the boat and tumbled across the lake’s still water. Nathan and his wife, Bea—a gregarious, stocky woman—called out to me as they passed, and I waved back with delight, wondering how two people could be so festive, so happy, so often.

Bonnie Schwartz, my mother’s friend, was also on the boat. She was considered by many to be the prettiest woman on the lake, as was her mother before her. I waved to her with the hope of some reciprocity—maybe a nod or a simple smile in my direction—but this auburn beauty, distracted by her empty martini glass, did not notice me—an omission that punished my fragile sixteen-year-old heart.

I sat on the edge of the dock, my feet immersed in the water of our beloved New Jersey lake. As the Ark turned north toward the clubhouse, the boat’s wake caused the pungent, algal water to lap against my calves. I held a wooden fishing pole that Papa, my grandfather, had given me when I was six. The hook baited with a throbbing night crawler, I watched as the red-and-white bobber teased me with a quick downward thrust, only to rise to the surface and drift with rippled ease. Clever fish, I thought.

A few seconds before the swollen body emerged, I turned back to look at my grandparents’ summerhouse. I could see Nana flitting about the screened-in porch, setting the table for yet another dinner party, while Papa probed the lawn for moles, angling empty glass bottles into their holes with the open ends facing downward. “Makes a howling noise, Ben,” he once told me as he guided a beer bottle into the earth. “Drives them crazy, like psychological warfare.”

What I noticed first in the water before me was not a body, but a flutter in the lilies that I mistook for a jumping frog. It was only when the attenuated rays of the descending summer sun flashed off Helen’s gold and diamond watch that I realized something terrible had occurred. I gasped and leapt to my feet. “God,” I mumbled and raised my right foot as if to take a step forward, toward the body. “Papa!” I yelled, dropping the rod to the dock. “Papa, come down!”

Despite his old age, my grandfather was a lithe and energetic man who, after numerous injuries and surgeries, had somehow managed to retain much of the athleticism of his youth. He was alarmed by the distress in my voice, for he threw a bottle to the ground and dashed down the slate path to the water’s edge. I glanced up to my grandmother, who stood frozen on the porch, right hand on chest, her mouth open.

“There!” I shouted to Papa and pointed to the blue-white body of his next-door neighbor. Helen Lowenthal, whose rare kindness had evoked in me the greatest loyalty, was dressed in a pink tennis skirt and matching top. Barefoot, she floated on her back, her face dappled with lake slime, her dyed blonde hair draped over a mat of lilies, her pale arms elevated above her head as if she were a surrendering soldier. I took another step closer, toward the water. I found myself drawn to her body, to its deadness, to its serene, haunted passage, as one is drawn to the very things—once beautiful, now rotten—that intrigue us, that repulse us with their incomprehensible transformation.

Papa reached the dock and grabbed my arm. He stared at the body in silence, then, as if looking for a clue, scanned the shoreline and the lake’s expanse. A hundred feet from the dock, in a pool of quiet water, an elderly couple fished from an anchored motorboat; the Ark continued its journey toward the clubhouse, a familiar Ella Fitzgerald melody drifting off the stern; a small sailboat floated in the windless dusk; and the white egret elevated from Split Rock, relinquishing its perch in search of food. “Go inside and call the police,” Papa cried. “It’s Helen, you know.” He wiped the sweat from his face then, panting, bent over at the waist. “Helen … Lowenthal,” he said through heavy breaths, before stepping down, fully-clothed, into the shallow water.

I watched as he struggled to traverse the muddy lake floor, the water rising from his knees, to his waist, to his chest. When he reached Helen, he touched a small bruise on her forehead. He then grasped her left hand and guided her—belly-up—toward the shore, her body slicing through the water with ease and purpose. As I watched this scene unfold, I was immobilized by my first close contact with death. I stared at her corpse with a vast fear, with a revulsion that shamed me, and, I would later acknowledge, with something approximating wonderment.

With great care, Papa placed his palm on the side of Helen’s head—a tender movement that protected her from hitting a protruding rock. Now just feet from the shore, the water knee-deep, he turned to me. “Go, Ben,” he demanded. “Go now!”

Unable to divert my eyes from the scene before me, I moved slowly up the dock. I watched as Papa stepped up onto the shore, his legs heavy from the weight of his sodden pants. I watched as he lifted Helen, as he groaned in exertion, and then gently laid her down on the spongy moss. I took one last look at the woman. She wore the fancy watch her husband had given her for their twentieth anniversary, and on her left hand was an engagement ring, the one with a diamond so large that some of the women from the bridge club had started a rumor that the stone was fake. I glanced at her toenails, painted cherry red, and at her slime-lacquered face.

“Go!” Papa screamed, now with fury in his eyes. And then I ran to the house and into my grandmother’s fleshy, perfumed embrace. I ran to a safe place.


About the Author

Adam Pelzman was born in Seattle, raised in northern New Jersey, and has spent most of his life in New York City. He studied Russian literature at the University of Pennsylvania and went to law school at UCLA. His first novel, Troika, was published by Penguin (Amy Einhorn Books). He is also the author of The Papaya King, which Kirkus Reviews described as “entrancing,” “deeply memorable” and “devilishly smart social commentary.” The Boy and the Lake, set in New Jersey during the late 1960s, is his third novel.

 

Contact Links

Website

Facebook

Goodreads

Instagram

 

Purchase Links

Amazon 

Barnes and Noble 

Kobo

iBooks 


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RABT Book Tours & PR

#ReleaseBlitz “The Boy and the Lake” by Adam Pelzman


Family Saga Fiction. Literary Fiction

Date Published: October 7th, 2020

photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

Haunted by his discovery of a beloved neighbor’s body floating lifeless in the lake where he’s fishing, 16-year-old Benjamin Baum is convinced she was murdered despite her death being deemed an accident.  While those around him tire of his fixation on finding a supposed killer, Ben’s alienation leads to drinking and the reader begins to wonder if he’s a reliable narrator. The plot takes a shocking twist, revealing the terrifying reality that things are not what they seem—that, beneath a façade of prosperity and contentment, darkness lurks. 


About the Author

Adam Pelzman was born in Seattle, raised in northern New Jersey, and has spent most of his life in New York City. He studied Russian literature at the University of Pennsylvania and went to law school at UCLA. His first novel, Troika, was published by Penguin (Amy Einhorn Books). He is also the author of The Papaya King, which Kirkus Reviews described as “entrancing,” “deeply memorable” and “devilishly smart social commentary.” The Boy and the Lake, set in New Jersey during the late 1960s, is his third novel.

 

Contact Links

Website

Facebook

Goodreads

Instagram

 

Purchase Links

Amazon 

Barnes and Noble 

Kobo

iBooks 


a Rafflecopter giveaway


RABT Book Tours & PR

#BookBlitz “Frank Vaughn, Killed by His Mom” by D. Krauss

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coverFamily Saga
Publisher: DOA Enterprises
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A dark version of The Wonder Years, Frank Vaughn Killed by his Mom is The Great Santini written by Homer, careening through a coarse world of racism, adultery, abandonment, and even the occasional hope.
It’s summer, 1965. School’s out and Butch’s birthday is in a few weeks. Perfect; three months of freeze tag, hide and seek and riding his bike way past dark. Well, maybe not completely perfect — Frank Vaughn, a classmate, is beaten to death by his crazy mother for leaving a report card at school. On top of that, Dad is touchier than ever and Mom sadder, so best to hide out next door with his best friend Tommy reading X-Men and hoping for that birthday GI Joe.
But in one night, Butch’s summer explodes and he’s now riding across a turbulent and changing Dixie in a white Rambler station wagon, at the mercy of a manic depressive and wildly violent Dad. Like a crewman on Ulysses’ ship, Butch encounters a one-eyed evil grandfather, a 12-year-old Siren, the lotus-eaters of Alabama…and Frank Vaughn. If Butch ever sees his beloved sister, Cindy, again, it’ll be a miracle. If he’s alive at the end of the summer, it’ll be a bigger one.

Purchase Links

Amazon

B-A-M

IndieBound

~~~

Excerpt
Chapter 1
Butch sat on the porch watching the girls skip rope:
“Frank Vaughn, killed by his mom
Lying in bed alooone,
She picked up a bat
And gave him a whack
And broke his head to the booone
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven…”
…and so on.
Cindy reached the twenties before snagging a toe, but Frank’s mom couldn’t have hit him that many times. A lot, but not that many.
Immortalized in skip rhyme. Amazing. It had been what, only a week? Frank was still on TV. Pat Jarrod, the Channel 7 news anchor, was all grim last night while narrating the film of Frank’s dad escorting Frank’s mom, very pretty in a silk dress and beehive hairdo, into the Lawton Court House. Mr. Vaughn was wearing his class-A uniform and dark glasses and looked like the President of Vietnam, and his wife looked like Mrs. President of Vietnam.
“They’re Filipino,” dad said.
Could’ve been a state visit, except no one was happy.
Butch had been surprised when Frank’s dad helped Mrs. Frank up the courthouse stairs.
Odd. He should be really mad at her, but there he was, being nice. The girls weren’t being nice; they were making fun of Frank, which wasn’t right. Wasn’t like it was Frank’s fault or anything.
Cindy was in again and the others—Lynn and Debbie, Carlafromdownthestreet, Maria and Joseph (who might as well be a girl), and some random passersby—were doing their best to trip her up while staying on the Frank call. You’d think they’d get tired of it, go on to “Spank” or “Battleship,” but no. Butch should go over and tell them to stop, but that would invoke the deadly kid “Ewww!” response and its follow-up, “Go away, you big baby, we’ll do what we want!” and even Cindy would join in because this was the herd, although she’d be gentle. He’d be humiliated and might get his suit, the same one he wore to Frank’s funeral, dirty, which meant a beating and not going to Dale’s graduation.
Best to stay here.
Graduation. Sure making a big deal. All of them dressed up, even Art, with some put-together shirt and skinny tie that wasn’t a suit at all, something Butch, with great delight, repeatedly pointed out. Cindy had on a flowered dress with a yellow silk belt and mom had brushed her red-blonde hair until it was full and fluffy and floated like a cloud, as it did now inside the rope…twenty-four, twenty-five, twenty-six. She wouldn’t get dirty.
Never did. Even when they had mud ball fights and slid head first, screaming and laughing, down the crap hills piled up by the bulldozer guys building apartments near the ball fields, only Butch came back with twenty or thirty layers of dirt hiding his identity. She was untouched. She was perfect.
She was beautiful.
Butch watched her, and his heart soared and knew he was lucky to be her brother…okay, adopted brother. All the boys wanted to cut the string on her finger but she wouldn’t let them, and all the girls wanted to play with her, just her, but she played with them all, no favorites, her laughter ringing up and down the hallways of B.C. Swinney Elementary.
Because of Cindy, the bullies more or less left Butch alone and the other kids tolerated his goofiness. In any other family, that’d be enough. But she favored him, him, over the smart, handsome boys who pursued her on the playground and the sophisticated girls who called her on the phone. Butch was her sole companion when she ran through the alley and over the crap hills. They rolled down the slopes together until they were so dizzy that earth and sky blurred and then they lay on their backs and made things out of clouds and said their secrets and never, ever, told on each other. She didn’t call him stupid or spaz or any of the other names everyone including dad did; she covered for him, even made him look better than he was to the other kids. Even now, somehow she’d disentangle him if he went over there and screamed at the girls for making fun of Frank. Without her, he’d be dead.
Just like Frank.
Tommy walked up the mile-high steps onto the porch and scooted Cha Cha, who lay next to Butch, out of the way. The dog smiled good-naturedly as Tommy sat down and handed Butch a Journey Into Mystery, “To Kill a Thunder God”! Good cover with the Destroyer on it and Butch flipped to “The Crimson Hand,” one of the Tales of Asgard. He’d already read it, but he liked to re-read things he liked, and the Norse myths fascinated him. Tommy had X-Men #12, “The Origin of Professor X”! and Butch glanced over. His copy was in the house. He and Tommy had bought probably the last two left at Carl’s Drug Store, thank God, before someone else got them. Good issue, but he wasn’t sure which origin story, Professor X’s or Juggernaut’s, was the more compelling. Juggernaut was magic, not a mutant. That made him hard to defeat.
“You wanna read this one?” Tommy had caught his glance and shook the X-Men at him.
Yes, but Asgard first.
Butch finger-waved it away, already back on the Hand. Tommy grunted and turned to the page showing Juggernaut at Professor X’s feet, helmet off, surprised by a Professor X-guided Angel attack. Butch abandoned Asgard for Juggernaut’s terrified face. There’s always a weakness. Just had to find it.
“Why you all dressed up?” Tommy asked.
“Dale’s graduation.”
“Oh,” Tommy nodded and looked at the girls. Tommy was in sixth grade now but, next year, moved on to middle school. Next week Butch turned ten, double-digits at last, teenagery mere scattered months beyond, a birthday of grand implications heralded with cupcakes and ice cream and singing and presents and maybe, please God, that longed-for GI Joe. Butch looked forward to it with all the twittery anticipation of a Christmas morning. But their mutual promotions might have a dangerous effect on their friendship.
Tommy lived right next door, very convenient for a best friend, and there were hardly two hours straight in the day that Butch wasn’t at Tommy’s or the other way around. They played army, with Tommy the Americans and Butch the Germans, or Civil War, with Tommy the North and Butch the Rebs, or Marvel, with Tommy as Dr. Strange or Reed Richards and Butch as Dormammu or Doctor Doom. Occasionally, Chuckie from two doors down joined them when he wasn’t in trouble, or Dale (funny that he had Butch’s sister’s name) from across the street when he was visiting his aunt. But those were interludes Butch really didn’t like because, invariably, Chuckie or Dale teased Butch about something stupid he did or said and Tommy let them continue until Butch cried and went home.
The best times were right now, side by side, reading Marvel. Tommy got him started a few years ago, dragged Butch and his weekly quarter off to Carl’s. “Don’t buy baseball cards, jerko, lookee here!”
Tommy had spun the magazine rack to a slot containing a Fantastic Four #1 with that big green thing coming out of the street.
Wow.
Butch liked Batman, and Sergeant Rock and the tank haunted by the ghost of General Stuart in GI Combat, but this! He bought the FF and a Two-Gun Kid and still had one cent left over for bubblegum with a Luis Tiant and Tug McGraw inside to trade later.
So who’s the jerko, jerko?
They had raced to Tommy’s back porch and Tommy read the comics aloud because Butch couldn’t read yet. First grade was still months away, and he hadn’t gone to kindergarten like Cindy and Art. If it hadn’t been for those comic books and Green Eggs and Ham, Butch wouldn’t have had a clue what a letter was, much less whole words, when he walked into Miss MacDonald’s first-grade class that fall.
Now, look at him. He read as well as Tommy, maybe better. Butch had read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer five times already, loving each pass-through. Miss Hale, the most beautiful second-grade teacher in the world, had read it to them during story time. Enthralled, Butch had pestered her to do so again, and she asked, “Would you like to read it for yourself?”
Would he!
“Maybe a little advanced, Butch, but if you think you can do it …”
He sure did think he could do it. Hadn’t he blasted through the SRAs, didn’t he swap Happy Hollisters with the third graders and wasn’t he a Marvel True Believer? She lent him her copy and he finished it in a week, and Miss Hale was so astonished she gave it to him when school ended. He could read anything now, couldn’t he?
Call me a bookworm, dad, I don’t care.
But all that was in jeopardy. If there was one group of kids with which middle schoolers had no truck, it was elementaries … like Butch. Butch wouldn’t ascend to seventh grade until Tommy was already in ninth, one year away from high school, and ninth graders had even less truck with seventh graders. Their friendship was aging out. It was more than likely that this summer was the very last time that he and Tommy could, or would, remain the best of friends.
That prospect gave Butch the chills, and he glanced apprehensively at his very best friend in the entire universe and, oh my God, look at this, Tommy was still on the girls. Butch frowned. Tommy had the narrowed eyes that dad got whenever he looked at bent-over girls or girls walking by in their bathing suits. Butch always looked away feeling guilty, even though he didn’t understand why. Dad, though, stayed on them; smiled, too.
Wait. Wrong word—’leered,’ yeah, that’s it. An ugly word. But appropriate.

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About the Author

D. Krauss resides in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. He has been, at various times: a cottonpicker, a sodbuster, a librarian, a surgical orderly, the guy who paints the little white line down the middle of the road, a weatherman, a door-kickin’ shove-gun-in-face lawman, a hunter of terrorists, and a school bus driver (and a layabout, don’t forget that). He’s been married for over 40 years, and has a wildman bass guitarist for a son.

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Meet Jules Hayes, author of “The Walls We Build”

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Thank you for stopping by Nesie’s Place today, Jules!

Let’s talk about your new book, The Walls We Build, which has Winston Churchill’s estate, Chartwell, as the backdrop. It centers around three friends and has a dual timeline. Wow! What’s your inspiration for the story?

Lovely starting question, and thank you so much for having me here.
I’ve always been intrigued with the life of Winston Churchill and so when I came across a photo of him addressing his troops in 1943 Tripoli, North Africa, I had that ‘what if’ moment. What if a soldier amongst the crowd was Churchill’s old employee from Chartwell? Perhaps his bricklayer, as I was intrigued with Churchill’s passion for bricklaying in his spare time! Perhaps they had a unique relationship – I liked the idea of juxtaposing the ordinary and the extraordinary man. How will their paths cross again? And in what capacity will Florence, my other main protagonist, and Frank’s friend but true love, fit in to the story? I knew then that at the heart of the novel would be an unconventional love story, as well as a mystery, and all set against the rich backdrop of war and its aftermath. But I also knew too that I needed a present day protagonist, Richard, Frank’s grandson, to untangle the intrigue of the past.

Research books
A pile of books I used for researching The Walls We Build

 Please share an excerpt with us.

This section is told from Florence’s viewpoint in October 1940, the setting is Blitz London. At her lodgings she’s getting ready to attend a fundraiser at the Savoy hotel, invited by Mary Churchill, the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill’s, youngest daughter.

Florence was late getting home from Kings Cross where she’d bought her ticket to go up to Yorkshire to visit Anna; tomorrow’s train, 3 o’clock. First though, was the Savoy bash. Tonight. It was time to wear her dress, and try to be someone she wasn’t. Her mum had told her not to worry, born in the wrong household you were, my girl. You’ll fit into the Savoy as easily and snug as ol’ Cinder’s foot slipped into that slipper. She missed her mum.

Florence surveyed her tiny bedroom but the mirror on the wall was huge and she could see herself in full, nearly. Her feet were missing in her reflection. She didn’t mind this though, because she hadn’t been able to afford new shoes. But as she looked down at her suede turquoise slip-ons that she’d buffed up with an implement Elizabeth had lent her, she was pleased at the match with the emerald green dress.

She’d straightened her hair with irons and put on the reddest lipstick she’d ever worn. She fiddled with her hat. She loved it but was unused to such frivolity in her headwear. It sat precariously on the front of her head, just as the shop assistant had shown her. The ruffles of red fabric seemed to her to be asymmetrical. She pushed and pulled them but finally, after hearing the church clock outside strike six, gave in. She scrutinised her reflection. Not bad. Not bad at all. Momentarily she thought about Frank, guessing the shine in the eyes staring back at her was due to the afternoon in his hotel.

She picked up the red gloves, checked her hat one more time, and left her room.

Florence was ready.

‘You could have come with me, you know, Elizabeth.’ Florence went to sit at the kitchen table, but not before shoving a paper handkerchief under one of the legs of the uneven surface.

‘Not my thing, Florence. I want ol’ Churchill to win the war for us. He is the right man for the job. I mean, he likes a good war doesn’t he? But I hate all that upper-class stuff.’

Elizabeth was at heart a staunch labour supporter, not a commie though, she was always keen to emphasise. Left in her politics, although it didn’t stop her from sleeping with a wealthy man who lived in Knightsbridge. Elizabeth’s socialism was a bit like Churchill’s domestic communism. When it suited. Wednesdays were Elizabeth’s nights with her lover. Florence’s room was the one below where Elizabeth slept. Every Wednesday Florence had to sleep with cotton wool stuffed in her ears, and every Thursday morning there was always a late breakfast. The gentleman politely doffed his cap to her on leaving, a huge smile in place. He reminded her a bit of Mr Churchill, the way he was able to appear quite ordinary and at home with the lower class, in a way peculiar to the confident and rich.

‘It’ll probably be deathly boring,’ Florence said.

Elizabeth grinned. ‘Probably. Lots of lovely food, though, I’m guessing.’

‘I hope so.’

Elizabeth laughed. ‘Never known a girl with an appetite like you.’

Asylum
An image from inside an asylum, which I used to create the asylum in The Walls We Build, where my character Anna is a patient.

Do you have a favorite character in the story?

I have three point-of-view characters in The Walls We Build, and I do like all three, but I love Florence the most. She’s ahead of her time, liberated and mischievous, but ultimately she is driven by love, honour and duty. She is the character who has a fair amount of page time in both the past and present sections, and it’s Florence who links the two timeframes.

What’s your favorite genre to read?

I love reading modern historical fiction, anything from the beginning of the 20th century onwards. I do have a degree in modern history. But I like a modern day thread too, which is why I suppose I tend to often write in this structure. I like a good thriller/mystery and love it when a story set in the past incorporates these elements too.

What are you reading now?

I’m reading a biography on Gladstone, a Kate Morton novel and CJ Tudor’s new book!

Where are you from?

I was born in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire but went to uni in London at 18, where I completed a history degree. I’ve lived in the south east for a long time now, although I’m still a ‘northerner’ at heart. “You can take the girl out of the town but not the town out of the girl” sort of thing!

Are you self-published, traditional, or hybrid?

With the publication of The Walls We Build I’m joining the ranks of the Hybrid Author Club, using my pseudonym, Jules Hayes. My debut psychological thriller, Falling Suns by JA Corrigan was published in 2016 (Headline Accent.)

Do you write full time, or do you also work outside the home?

For the past 3 years I write pretty much full-time.

Where do you get the most writing done?

I’m lucky as I have a study and its there where I do most of my writing, although in the summer I take my laptop and sit on the patio; sometimes in the summer I also write in our summerhouse at the bottom of the garden. It’s perfect as it has no internet! I have a treadmill in there too, so that comes in handy!

Do you have pets who “help” or inspire you?

We have a very cute cockapoo, champagne-coloured – Harley. He follows me everywhere, although that does change when my daughter comes home from university, when he follows her everywhere and I lose my shadow for a few weeks!

Our dawg, Harley, with his winter coat on!

Totally addicted to social media or could you live without it?

I don’t think I’m addicted but that’s what all addicts say! I wish I could sign-out to be honest, but I do find out so much in there and have made a lot of friends on social media. I’m a big Facebook user (that’s my generation my daughter tells me!), not so into Twitter, although I loved it 8 years ago when I first started out writing, but it’s a much more hostile and commercial selling place these days. I’m just getting into Instagram, it’s a forum I like, even if my photography skills aren’t up to much.

What’s your next project?

I’m working on my next Jules Hayes novel – another dual timeline historical, although simultaneously, I’ve also begun work on another JA Corrigan novel, which is a speculative thriller – although still in its early stages.

Do you have any advice for new authors?

Success in the literary world is all about stamina, passion and having an extraordinarily thick skin. It’s also about being able to sift through good and bad advice. Interact with other writers, find your tribe, it’s the only way to survive in such a brutal, transitory, mercurial and ultimately, supremely competitive environment.

**Many thanks to Jules Hayes for spending a few minutes with us today! Scroll down to get your copy of The Walls We Build–which is also in the Kindle Unlimited program–and don’t forget to enter her international giveaway. You could be the lucky winner of a signed copy of The Walls We Build!**

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Three friends … 

Growing up together around Winston Churchill’s estate in Westerham, Kent, Frank, Florence and Hilda are inseparable. But as WW2 casts its menacing shadow, friendships between the three grow complex, and Frank – now employed as Churchill’s bricklayer – makes choices that will haunt him beyond the grave, impacting his grandson’s life too.

Two Secrets …

Shortly after Frank’s death in 2002 Florence writes to Richard, Frank’s grandson, hinting at the darkness hidden within his family. On investigation, disturbing secrets come to light, including a pivotal encounter between Frank and Churchill during the war and the existence of a mysterious relative in a psychiatric hospital.

One Hidden Life … 

How much more does Florence dare reveal about Frank – and herself – and is Richard ready to hear?

Set against the stunning backdrop of Chartwell, Churchill’s country home, comes a tragic story of misguided honour, thwarted love and redemption, reverberating through three generations and nine decades.

For readers of Kate Morton, Rachel Hore, Katherine Webb, Lucinda Riley and Juliet West.

“Passion, intrigue and family secrets drive this complex wartime relationship drama. A page turner. I loved it.”  #1 bestselling author, Nicola May

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Author BioJules Hayes

 Jules Hayes lives in Berkshire with her husband, daughter and a dog. She has a degree in modern history and holds a particular interest in events and characters from the early 20th century. As a former physiotherapist and trainer – old habits die hard – when not writing Jules likes to run. She also loves to watch films, read good novels and is a voracious consumer of non-fiction too, particularly biographies.

Jules is currently working on her second historical novel, another dual timeline story.

Jules also writes contemporary thriller and speculative fiction as JA Corrigan.

Jules Hayes can be found at:

Website:

Twitter @JulesHayes6

Facebook Author Page: JulesHayesAuthor

Instagram: JulesHayes6

Writing as JA Corrigan, Jules can be found at: Website

Twitter: @juliannwriter

Facebook Author Page: JA Corrigan
Instagram: corriganjulieann

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Giveaway

Win a Signed copy of The Walls We Build

(Open INTERNATIONALLY)

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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the link above  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days, then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfillment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.

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