#ReleaseBlitz “A Wider World (The Tudor Court, Book Two)” by Karen Heenan

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The Tudor Court, Book Two

 

Historical Fiction

Release Date: April 25, 2021

Publisher: Authors 4 Authors Publishing

 

Memories are all he has…

Now they could save his life.

Returning to England after almost five years in exile, Robin Lewis is arrested and charged with heresy by the dying Queen Mary. As he is escorted to the Tower of London, Robin spins a tale for his captor, revisiting his life under three Tudor monarchs and wondering how he will be judged—not just by the queen, but by the God he stopped serving long ago.

When every moment counts, will his stories last long enough for him to be saved by Mary’s heir, the young Queen Elizabeth?

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Other Book in the The Tudor Court Series:

 

Songbird

The Tudor Court, Book One

Publisher: Authors 4 Authors Publishing

Published: November 2019

She has the voice of an angel…

But one false note could send her back to her old life of poverty.

After her father sells her to Henry VIII, ten-year-old Bess builds a new life as a royal minstrel, and earns the nickname “the king’s songbird.”

She comes of age in the decadent Tudor court, where the stakes are always high, and where politics, heartbreak, and disease threaten everyone from the king to the lowliest musician.

Her world has only one constant: Tom, her first and dearest friend. But when Bess intrigues with Anne Boleyn and strains against the restrictions of life at court, will she find that constancy has its limits?

You’ll love this richly-detailed historical novel, because we all want to know what goes on “backstairs at the palace.”

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About the Author


Karen Heenan was born and raised in Philadelphia. She fell in love with books and stories before she learned to read and has wanted to write for nearly as long. After far too many years in a cubicle, she set herself free to follow her dreams—which include gardening, sewing, traveling, and of course, lots of writing. She lives in Lansdowne, PA, not far from Philadelphia, with four cats and a very patient husband.

 

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RABT Book Tours & PR

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#BlogTour “Beloved Woman” by Sheri Peppers

Welcome to the tour for historical romance, Beloved Woman by Sheri Peppers! Read on for more details and a chance to win an Amazon gift card worth $15!

Beloved Woman Book Cover for toursBeloved Woman: A Historical Novel

Publication Date: January 2020

Genre: Historical Romance/ Historical Fiction

Beloved Woman, a Historical Romance takes place in 1705 in the Allegheny Mountains, South Carolina. Bryanna, a strong, privileged young English woman loses the love of her life, her father, to a brutal and bloody campsite attack by Iroquois renegades. Injured, and so full of grief, she grows determined to learn the ways of the Cherokee and become a respected war woman called Beloved Woman in the Cherokee town of Toxaway. This is the only way to find her father’s killer and have peace within herself once again.

Black Bear, the Red Chief is enamored by Bryanna’s courage and beautiful charm, so much that he desires to help her in every way he can. She rejects him blaming all Indians for her father’s murder. Still, his strength and determination bring them together as they face amazing obstacles to find the Iroquois renegades who were spreading havoc and murder across the great mountains. Can Bryanna learn the ways of these amazing people in this untamed land, and find her peace, and maybe love, once again?

Although the story is fiction, the customs, names of the towns, and ways of the Beloved Woman are authentic.

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Excerpt

She heard the deep pounding of drums a short distance away. Black Bear planned strategies in the Council House the entire day and she wondered if he were at the square now attending the dance. She ran a brush through her hair and allowed it to drape over her shoulders in thick waves of silk. Her heart thumped lightly taking her breath away as she pushed aside the curtain of her room to brave the coming evening.

Storyteller sat near the fire sewing diligently on another garment. She gazed up and stopped. “You are a vision, my dear.”

“Thanks to you and your fine talents,” she said, turning to give Storyteller a view from every angle, “I feel beautiful. I’m grateful.”

“That’s because you are beautiful.”

“Will you join the celebration tonight? Accompany me to the Town Square.”

“I will attend shortly. You go ahead without me. Have a pleasant time and try to keep open to our ways. Our event is quite joyous, but you must be kind in your judgment. Remember, this is not the colonies, nor England.”

“I will.” Bryanna stepped out into the cool night.

The Town Square rested in front of the Council House at the bottom of the mound. The pulsation of the drums grew louder as she came nearer. A rhythm of flutes fluidly intertwined with the drums creating an enticing temptation for the body to move and sway.

The Square came into view as she rounded the mound. Rattles joined in with the instruments while the center of the Square remained filled with people moving in a circle to the rhythmic melody of the music.

With their backs slightly bent forward, they stomped their feet, turning first to the left, then to the right. They whirled around repeating the movements over and over as they continued in a large moving circle. She had never seen such dance.

The permeating music floated seductively over the dance, igniting a warm flame within her. Along with the music, the movement of the dance emerged just as wildly passionate in its stirring rhythm as she swayed her shoulders in and out.

They all knew precisely what to do, flawlessly keeping in unison with each other. The dance came forth untamed, and the music portrayed a tremendous strength in who these people were. Now she understood what Black Bear meant when he said exhilarating.

Colorful feathers fastened in their hair and on their clothing bounced and swayed with every twist and turn they made. The feathers transformed into brief flashes of color melding together as they danced without any signs of fatigue.

Warriors wearing animal skins on their heads jumped into the circle imitating the kill and skinning of an animal.

This was a far cry from the gentle dance in England. She remembered tender flowing music, one person facing the other in minuet with hands gently touching. As these people danced before her, its strangeness loomed within her, leaving an overshadowing loneliness for what she once knew and loved.

The music changed, and they stomped and swayed to a new dance. Simply standing there, with a babe’s new innocence of their customs, she became gravely aware of her awkwardness.

She perused the Square, searching for the one familiar face whose tolerance would help fortify her fading nerve. Sitting among a group of men at the edge of the Square were a pair of familiar eyes that locked onto hers the moment her gaze came upon him. A smile adorned his face as he stood and approached her.

Bryanna’s breath caught in her throat as Black Bear strode toward her. His smile remained affixed on his face and she labored to keep her gaze upon it although the temptation to gawk at his body overwhelmed her. His breechcloth barely covered his extremities revealing long muscular limbs, honey-browned from life under the sun.

The currents of shivers returned moving throughout her body as she fought not to reveal her feelings. Still, she noticed no shirt on his back. The smoothness of his chest only accentuated his massive size and strength. A string of white wampum shells lay comfortably around his neck and dipped downward across the swollen hills of his sun-kissed chest. He’d tied back his black straight hair leaving high protruding cheekbones and glistening white teeth.

Concentrating solely upon his face did not comfort her. The strange quivering in her veins had a mind of its own traveling the full length of her limbs to the tips of her sensitive breasts. Her bosom heaved with each difficult breath as he halted before her.

“I find your extraordinary beauty quite imposing upon my manners as a gentleman. Those manners are quite difficult to sustain.” His chest maneuvered in and out as his hungry copper eyes consumed a path into the pit of her core.

Available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble!

About the Author

Photo 4

Sheri studied writing and screenwriting at University of California Los Angeles, and Moorpark College in California. She is an avid history buff with an emphasis on the American Indian, and a former member of the Romance Writer’s of America. Retired with an 18-year background in aerospace, she now lives in Thousand Oaks, California, where she is working on a sequel to Beloved Woman and plans for several projects.

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#Excerpt “Under the Light of the Italian Moon” by Jennifer Anton

 

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Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Biographical Fiction

 

Date to be Published: March 8, 2021

Publisher: Amsterdam Publishers

A promise keeps them apart until WWII threatens to destroy their love forever

Fonzaso Italy, between two wars

Nina Argenta doesn’t want the traditional life of a rural Italian woman. The daughter of a strong-willed midwife, she is determined to define her own destiny. But when her brother emigrates to America, she promises her mother to never leave.

When childhood friend Pietro Pante briefly returns to their mountain town, passion between them ignites while Mussolini forces political tensions to rise. Just as their romance deepens, Pietro must leave again for work in the coal mines of America. Nina is torn between joining him and her commitment to Italy and her mother.

As Mussolini’s fascists throw the country into chaos and Hitler’s Nazis terrorise their town, each day becomes a struggle to survive greater atrocities. A future with Pietro seems impossible when they lose contact and Nina’s dreams of a life together are threatened by Nazi occupation and an enemy she must face alone…

A gripping historical fiction novel, based on a true story and heartbreaking real events.

Spanning over two decades, Under the Light of the Italian Moon is an epic, emotional and triumphant tale of one woman’s incredible resilience during the rise of fascism and Italy’s collapse into WWII.

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EXCERPT

On the day of the Festa dell’Uva  the weather was blustery, and the tents of the merchants whipped and shook. No one wanted to cancel, but the conditions were less than ideal. It seemed it would rain any moment. Nina looked out the window, cursing her luck. The door to the house opened, and Corrado entered along with a gust of wind.

“Bundle up! The festa is still on. Even if we have to huddle under blankets, we won’t be cancelling!” he announced. Everyone let out a cheer and grabbed their scarves and coats. Nina tied her chignon tight to avoid the wind making a mess of her hair. Vante, Aurora, Evira, and little Luigia tied blankets over their shoulders like capes as they marched to the piazza where the festivities would begin.

In the Piazza Primo Novembre, the Fonzasini huddled next to each other on either side, leaving space for the parade. Nina scanned the crowd for her friends and Pietro. To her surprise, Onorina grabbed her arm and shouted at her, “Come with me!”

Nina allowed herself to be pulled across the piazza towards a section of the crowd where Onorina’s friends stood, anticipating the celebration, next to a row of young men in linen pants and wool caps. To Nina’s nervous pleasure, Pietro was with them.

“Squeeze in!” yelled Toni Bianchi, a wilful and brawny young man who had spent time abroad in Canada, come back to fight in the Great War and returned to find his father had died of the Spanish flu. He pulled the two girls next to him with Onorina on his side, forcing Nina between her sister and Pietro.

“Hello there,” Pietro said, jostling as the crowd pushed and pulled to get the best view of the parade. The wind tossed his curls. “You weren’t at the festa in Frassenè!” he nearly shouted, and she didn’t have time to respond to him as the crowd cheered. Each cart rolling by celebrated winemaking and depicted a different step in the process. The first cart came through the crowd, adorned with twisted grapevines covering every surface, and one of Onorina’s old classmates, Bettina Napoli, waved from the carriage with a wreath of vines on her head. She was supposed to wear a Roman goddess costume, but with the cold and wind, whatever she wore was hidden beneath a coat. The girl held tight to her crown to keep it from blowing away.

The crowd shoved forward and tightened, pushing Nina against Pietro on the right and her sister on her left. To her secret delight, the pressure of the crowd on Onorina’s side was rising, and she had the distinct impression Toni was instigating it, pushing closer to her sister, and forcing her into Pietro. She could feel Pietro’s warm body under many layers, and they laughed, cheering as each cart went past. Pietro’s hand brushed against hers, sending an electric current through her belly. As the carriage drove by with old men and small children stomping on grapes in a vat, the skies opened, and a light rain fell, flying about in the wind. Someone lifted a large blanket behind and above the group and Nina found herself squeezed underneath it, protected from the rain with Pietro. It was oddly intimate despite the entire population of Fonzaso and surrounding villages gathered around them. They laughed and shook their heads, unable to hear anything through the shouting crowd, accordion music, and roaring wind. They cheered along, laughing at the absurdity of the entire situation and the thrill of being close until someone released a corner of the blanket and the wind ripped it away. The group screamed in surprise as the rain drenched them.

Pietro’s hair was soaked, his damp curls stuck to his forehead as chaos started around them, everyone running for cover from the storm. Nina imagined her hair must look wild, most of her chignon loose. The organisers announced the Alpini band would play in the Corsos’ barn.

“Are you coming?” Pietro shouted to Onorina and Nina over the madness in the piazza and the intensifying rain.

“We’ll see you there!” Onorina called in response, pulling Nina again with her.

“What was that about?” asked Nina when they found cover under an umbrella someone handed them.

“What was what about? It’s a festa!  Have fun, sorellina!  Your life is too serious!” Her sister was in an exceptionally good mood, even though her waves were damp and would soon frizz. They were the first into the Corso barn as the Alpini  band started, and the accordions hummed.

The exhilaration of the cold and the extraordinary situation of the festival took away any inhibition Nina had of being first to dance, and she and Onorina bounced to the music as soon as they entered. Onorina was an excellent dancer, and they both swung their hips, dipping and spinning with the music. Nina finally felt free. She twirled under the timber roof, giving in to an abandon she hadn’t felt since childhood, since before the awful days of the war took it away.

A flood of people soon joined, swaying, and waltzing around them. Nina’s cheeks hurt from smiling, and she danced with everyone. The temperature rose in the barn, making the air muggy with the earthy smell of rain and hay. Where was Pietro? The men passed bottles of wine and raised them to allow the liquid down their throats, swigging, and handing it on. Her father appeared and lifted her around, then swung her sister. Vante and her little sisters stamped past, clapping their hands, and twirling as the music played. It reminded her of the weddings she’d attended when she was small before the war. Everyone wanted to dance with her then, and she never wanted to leave the floor. Women swished their skirts, men slapped their thighs and when the Alpini  band played ‘Quel Mazzolin di Fiori’, a cheer went up for the favourite song. Nina spotted Pietro through the boisterous crowd, but as he was about to break through, a young man with red hair swung her away. “Hey, Pampo!” someone shouted at him and gave him a wink as he swung Nina on the dance floor. She wanted to get away, annoyed at his awful dancing and even worse timing. She watched as Pietro found Onorina and gave her a twirl, both of them swaying to the music. Nina tried to move away from the redhead, but the barn was too packed with bodies, and he swung her again. This time, she lost her balance and, with two steps, trying to catch her footing, fell into the crowd.

“Whoa there,” a low voice hummed in her ear as strong arms wrapped around her, catching her from her fall.

“I remember you telling me you could dance,” Pietro said, smirking at her in a kidding manner while he pulled her into his arms.

“Don’t blame me. A girl has to have the right partner,” she quipped back, surprised by her own words and immediately taking in the heady scent of his cologne: wood and spice mellowed by dried rain.

‘La Monella’ played, and Pietro put his hand on Nina’s lower back, guiding her in an easy waltz to the quick tune. No one had ever held her in such a way; his palm was firm on her lower back, possessive, as though sending a message to everyone in the room. He was smooth on his feet, confident. They spun around in the packed space until the other dancers parted enough to allow them to travel. As the pace of the song picked up, Pietro became animated; he raised his eyebrows dipping her, and teasing with his movements. Nina liked how he moved. He was smooth but didn’t take himself seriously, and it was exhilarating to be twirled around in his arms. His hair had dried into a wild flop covering his left eye. She resisted the urge to push it back for him.

“Did you learn to dance like this in America?” she asked, as he spun her and then pulled her back close to him.

“I’ve learnt a lot of things in America.” He leaned towards her and changed the subject. “Do you ever go to the movies?” he asked. When he spoke to her, he had to get close to her ear so she could hear him over the band. She felt the heat from his breath on her neck.

Sì.  In Feltre and we’re meant to get a small picture house behind the church soon. I especially love American films!”

Pietro grinned at her, searching her face as if memorising her features. “Why weren’t you at the last festa?  I saw everyone else in your family but not you. Onorina was the star of the night.”

“I’m sure she was,” Nina frowned, a chill going through her at the mention of her sister. “I had to help my mother. Babies don’t plan around events, she said, breathless and annoyed the conversation had headed again in Onorina’s direction. How many times had men tried to get information about her sister through her? Was Pietro the same?

“You want to be a midwife, too?” It was a serious question to ask in the middle of a dance floor, but his brown eyes made her want to share her thoughts with him.

“I want to matter to the world,” she admitted. “My mother has figured out how to do that.” He spun her again, then looked at her seriously.

“You do and you will,” he said. Un colpo di fulmine. The lightning bolt returned as his words sunk into her like she had been waiting to hear them all her life.

The song changed again and, this time, Corrado appeared, took Nina in his arms, and spun her around the barn. Losing sight of Pietro, she was tossed away again as Corrado seized her mother for a rare dance. She kept moving to the music as Pampo came up once more; this time she shook her head at him, unwilling to let him have her hand. He stayed nearby anyway, gesticulating towards her. For a moment, she thought she saw Pietro frowning on the other side of the barn as the annoying ragazzo danced at her.  Nina smiled awkwardly, feeling uncomfortable, not wanting to be rude but miserable about the change in circumstances. Pampo grabbed her wrist and twisted her roughly again. This time, she stepped with intention away from him and inched into a corner of the barn where observers sat on stacks of hay. She searched the space until a flash of burgundy drew her attention. On the other side of the barn, there was Onorina, again in the arms of Pietro. He had her sister’s scarf tied around his neck and was making the same animated faces at Onorina he had made at her. Nina felt the blood drain from her face, and her urge to dance died, replaced by the desire to escape. Her siren of a sister could enchant any man; and why shouldn’t he fall in love with her? Hours before, it seemed like Onorina was steering Pietro her way, but, as she batted her eyes and grasped onto the ends of her scarf around his neck, it was clear she was interested, too. Nina wove her way through the crowd to the exit, pushing away tears with the palms of her hands, and ran up the moonlit stones of the Via Calzen and home to her bed.

~~~

About The Author

Jennifer Anton is an American/Italian dual citizen born in Joliet, Illinois and now lives between London and Lake Como, Italy. A proud advocate for women’s rights and equality, she hopes to rescue women’s stories from history, starting with her Italian family.

In 2006, after the birth of her daughter, Jennifer suffered a life-threatening post-partum cardiomyopathy, and soon after, her Italian grandmother died. This tumultuous year strengthened her desire to capture the stories of her female Italian ancestors.

In 2012, she moved with her family to Milan, Italy and Chicago Parent Magazine published her article, It’s In the Journey, chronicling the benefits of travelling the world with children. Later, she moved to London where she has held leadership positions in brand marketing with companies including ABInbev, Revlon, Shiseido and Tory Burch.

Jennifer is a graduate of Illinois State University where she was a Chi Omega and holds a master’s degree from DePaul University in Chicago.

Under the Light of the Italian Moon is her first novel, based on the lives of her Italian grandmother and great grandmothers during the rise of fascism and World War II.

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Review the book at Amazon.com, Goodreads, and Bookbub

Connect with Jennifer on Instagram @boldwomanwriting

Connect with Jennifer on Facebook @jenniferantonauthorpage

Join her mailing list

Goodreads

~~~

Purchase Link

getbook.at/JAnton

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RABT Book Tours & PR

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#ReleaseBlitz “Under the Light of the Italian Moon” by Jennifer Anton

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Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Biographical Fiction

 

Date to be Published: March 8, 2021

Publisher: Amsterdam Publishers

A promise keeps them apart until WWII threatens to destroy their love forever

Fonzaso Italy, between two wars

Nina Argenta doesn’t want the traditional life of a rural Italian woman. The daughter of a strong-willed midwife, she is determined to define her own destiny. But when her brother emigrates to America, she promises her mother to never leave.

When childhood friend Pietro Pante briefly returns to their mountain town, passion between them ignites while Mussolini forces political tensions to rise. Just as their romance deepens, Pietro must leave again for work in the coal mines of America. Nina is torn between joining him and her commitment to Italy and her mother.

As Mussolini’s fascists throw the country into chaos and Hitler’s Nazis terrorise their town, each day becomes a struggle to survive greater atrocities. A future with Pietro seems impossible when they lose contact and Nina’s dreams of a life together are threatened by Nazi occupation and an enemy she must face alone…

A gripping historical fiction novel, based on a true story and heartbreaking real events.

Spanning over two decades, Under the Light of the Italian Moon is an epic, emotional and triumphant tale of one woman’s incredible resilience during the rise of fascism and Italy’s collapse into WWII.

About The Author

Jennifer Anton is an American/Italian dual citizen born in Joliet, Illinois and now lives between London and Lake Como, Italy. A proud advocate for women’s rights and equality, she hopes to rescue women’s stories from history, starting with her Italian family.

In 2006, after the birth of her daughter, Jennifer suffered a life-threatening post-partum cardiomyopathy, and soon after, her Italian grandmother died. This tumultuous year strengthened her desire to capture the stories of her female Italian ancestors.

In 2012, she moved with her family to Milan, Italy and Chicago Parent Magazine published her article, It’s In the Journey, chronicling the benefits of travelling the world with children. Later, she moved to London where she has held leadership positions in brand marketing with companies including ABInbev, Revlon, Shiseido and Tory Burch.

Jennifer is a graduate of Illinois State University where she was a Chi Omega and holds a master’s degree from DePaul University in Chicago.

Under the Light of the Italian Moon is her first novel, based on the lives of her Italian grandmother and great grandmothers during the rise of fascism and World War II.

Review the book at Amazon.com, Goodreads, and Bookbub

Connect with Jennifer on Instagram @boldwomanwriting

Connect with Jennifer on Facebook @jenniferantonauthorpage

Join her mailing list

Goodreads

~~~

Preorder Link

getbook.at/JAnton

~~~

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RABT Book Tours & PR

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#GuestPost Crime and Corruption, Boston Style by Gabriel Valjan, author of “Symphony Road”

Symphony Road by Gabriel Valjan BannerFebruary 1-28, 2021 Tour

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~ Crime and Corruption, Boston Style ~

Stories of political and police corruption and conspiracy theories permeated Seventies cinema and crime fiction. Richard Nixon and his cast of misfits were in the White House. Viewers cheered “Attica! Attica!” alongside Sonny Wortzik in Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon, or agreed with Charles Bronson’s architect Dr. Paul Kersey’s idea of justice in Death Wish because cops were nowhere to be found. If there was one cop everybody loved, it was Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry because criminals gamed the system and got away with it, and Harry wasn’t having any of it. It’s a tossup as to which film showcased corruption in the Seventies better: Serpico or Prince of the City.

Beantown was right up there, in competition with the Windy City and the Big Apple. In The Friends of Eddie Coyle, ATF agent Dan Foley is ambitious and working both ends against the middle, like his other informant, Dillon. Knowing what we know now about “Whitey” Bulger, he ran amok for decades through South Boston, thanks to corrupt FBI agent and handler, John Connolly. My Shane Cleary is no stranger or innocent to whatever his town has to dish out for crime, corruption, and other forms of treachery.

Boston has a long dark history. The greatest swindle in American sports history, the fixing the World Series in 1919, was cooked up in a room at Boston’s Buckminster Hotel, overlooking Kenmore Square. In that same year, the Great Molasses Flood, the cause of which was revealed to be shady and shoddy construction, killed 21 people. A year later, the Boston Police unionized, the idea formed over beers at Foley’s Café, blocks away from where Shane lives in Union Park in the South End. Governor Calvin Coolidge convinced the public that a strike of police officers was Bolshevism and un-American. He crushed the Police Strike and rode the victory into the White House. His reprisal was so effective and brutal that there was not another police strike in the nation until 1974.

History repeated itself with the Coconut Grove Fire in 1942, which killed 500 people. In the late Seventies, Symphony Road—a street in Boston and the title of my second Shane Cleary mystery—was home to an arson for-hire ring, which involved landlords, lawyers, insurance adjusters, and the Massachusetts State Police. City politicians looked the other way until state and federal officials investigated.

As for the virtues of those public servants…John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald and grandfather to future JFK was removed from office in the US House of Representatives when evidence of voter fraud surfaced. Mayor James Curley ran Boston’s political machinery, like Al Capone controlled Chicago. The IRS put Al away in Alcatraz for tax evasion, and James spent time in Danbury for mail fraud, though federal lawyers wanted him for bribery and war profiteering. Mayor Kevin White, in office when Shane enlisted for Vietnam, was indicted and prosecuted for a variety of charges, including fraud, extortion, and perjury. He sat in the chair while Boston roiled in violence around desegregation and the busing crisis of 1974.

This is the world in which my PI Shane Cleary worked his cases. The cops didn’t like him and the politicians were often worse than the criminals he encountered on the street. The city’s elites were given carte blanche on prime real estate and other lucrative business deals, while everyone was at each other’s throat. Shane navigates social circles, murkier than the Charles River. He is up against cops dirtier than the Boston Harbor. The more things don’t change, the more they remain the same.

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Synopsis:

Symphony Road by Gabriel Valjan
Trouble comes in threes for Shane Cleary, a former police officer and now, a PI. Arson. A Missing Person. A cold case. Two of his clients whom he shouldn’t trust, he does, and the third, whom he should, he can’t. Shane is up against crooked cops, a notorious slumlord and a mafia boss who want what they want, and then there’s the good guys who may or may not be what they seem.

Praise for Symphony Road:

“The second installment in this noir series takes us on a gritty journey through mid-seventies Boston, warts and all, and presents Shane Cleary with a complex arson case that proves to be much more than our PI expected. Peppered with the right mix of period detail and sharp, spare prose, Valjan proves he’s the real deal.” – Edwin Hill, Edgar finalist and author of Watch Her   “Ostracized former cop turned PI Shane Cleary navigates the mean streets of Boston’s seedy underbelly in Symphony Road. A brilliant follow up to Dirty Old Town, Valjan’s literary flair and dark humor are on full display.” – Bruce Robert Coffin, award-winning author of the Detective Byron Mysteries   “A private eye mystery steeped in atmosphere and attitude.” – Richie Narvaez, author of Noiryorican  

Book Details:

Genre: Crime fiction, Procedural, Noir, Historical Fiction

Published by: Level Best Books

Publication Date: January 15, 2021

Number of Pages: 232

ISBN: 978-1-953789-07-5

Series: Shane Cleary Mystery, #2

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

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Read an excerpt:

I went to cross the street when the wheels of a black Cadillac sped up and bristled over tempered glass from a recent smash-and-grab. The brake lights pulsed red, and a thick door opened. A big hulk stepped out, and the car wobbled. The man reached into his pocket. I thought this was it. My obituary was in tomorrow’s paper, written in past tense and in the smallest and dullest typeface, Helvetica, because nothing else said boring better.

Click. Click. “I can never get this fucking thing to light.”

It was Tony Two-Times, Mr. B’s no-neck side man. His nickname came from his habit of clicking his lighter twice. “Mr. B wants a word.”

“Allow me.” I grabbed the Bic. The orange flame jumped on my first try and roasted the end of his Marlboro Red. “You really oughta quit.”

“Thanks for the health advice. Get in.”

Tony nudged me into the backseat. I became the meat in the sandwich between him and Mr. B. There was no need for introductions. The chauffeur was nothing more than a back of a head and a pair of hands on the wheel. The car moved and Mr. B contemplated the night life outside the window.

“I heard you’re on your way to the police station to help your friend.”

“News travels fast on Thursday night. Did Bill tell you before or after he called me?”

“I’m here on another matter.”

The cloud of smoke made me cough. Tony Two-Times was halfway to the filter. The chauffeur cracked the window a smidge for ventilation. As I expected, the radio played Sinatra and there were plans for a detour. A string of red and green lights stared back at us through a clean windshield.

“A kid I know is missing,” Mr. B said.

“Kids go missing all the time.”

“This kid is special.”

“Has a Missing Persons Report been filed?”

The look from Mr. B prompted regret. “We do things my way. Understood?”

We stopped at a light. A long-legged working girl with a chinchilla wrap crossed the street. She approached the car to recite the menu and her prices, but one look at us and she kept walking.

“Is this kid one of your own?”

The old man’s hand strummed leather. The missing pinky unnerved me. I’ve seen my share of trauma in Vietnam: shattered bones, intestines hanging out of a man, but missing parts made me queasy. The car moved and Mr. B continued the narrative.

“Kid’s a real pain in my ass, which is what you’d expect from a teenager, but he’s not in the rackets, if that’s what you’re wondering. This should be easy money for you.”

Money never came easy. As soon as it was in my hand, it went to the landlady, or the vet, or the utilities, or inside the refrigerator. I’d allow Mr. B his slow revelation of facts. Mr. B mentioned the kid’s gender when he said “he’s not in the rackets.” This detail had already made the case easier for me. A boy was stupider, easier to find and catch. Finding a teenage girl, that took something special, like pulling the wings off of an angel.

“He’s a good kid. No troubles with the law, good in school, excellent grades and all, but his mother seems to think he needed to work off some of that rebellious energy kids get. You know how it is.”

I didn’t. The last of my teen years were spent in rice paddies, in a hundred-seventeen-degree weather—and that was before summer—trying to distinguish friendlies from enemies in a jungle on the other side of the planet. And then there were the firefights, screams, and all the dead bodies.

“Does this kid have a girlfriend?” I asked.

Mr. B said nothing.

“A boyfriend then?” That question made Mr. B twist his head and Tony Two-Times elbowed me hard. “I’ve got to ask. Kids these days. You know, drugs, sex, and rock’ n roll.”

“The kid isn’t like your friend Bill, Mr. Cleary.”

The mister before Cleary was a first. The ribs ached. I caught a flash of the driver’s eyes in the rearview mirror. Mr. B conveyed specifics such as height and weight, build, the last known place the kid was seen, the usual hangouts and habits. This kid was All-American, too vanilla, and Mr. B had to know it. Still, this kid was vestal purity compared to Mr. B, who had run gin during Prohibition, killed his first man during the Depression, and became a made-man before Leave It to Beaver aired its first episode on television.

The car came to a stop. The driver put an emphasis on the brakes. We sat in silence. The locks shot up. Not quite the sound of a bolt-action rifle, but close. Mr. B extended his hand for a handshake. I took it. No choice there. This was B’s way of saying his word was his bond and whatever I discovered during the course of my investigation stayed between us, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

“I’ve got to ask,” I said.

“I’ll pay you whatever you want.”

“It’s not that,” I said, feeling Tony Two-Times’ breath on the back of my neck. “Did you hire Jimmy C to do a job lately?”

“I did not.”

“And Bill called me, just like that?” I knew better than to snap my fingers. Tony would grab my hand and crush my knuckles like a bag of peanuts. A massive paw on the shoulder told me it was time to vacate the premises, but then Mr. B did the tailor’s touch, a light hand to my elbow. “Jimmy is queer like your friend, right?”

“What has that got to do with anything?”

“When it comes to friends, you forgive certain habits, like I allow this idiot over here to smoke those stupid cigarettes. Capisci?”

“Yeah, I understand.”

“Good. Now, screw off.”

I climbed over Tony Two-Times to leave the car. Door handle in my grip, I leaned forward to ask one last thing, “You know about Jimmy’s predicament?”

“Ironic, isn’t it?” Mr. B said.

“What is?”

“I know everything in this town, except where my grandnephew is. Now, shut the door.”

The door clapped shut. I heard bolts hammer down and lock. There was a brief sight of silhouettes behind glass before the car left the curb. I had two cases before breakfast, one in front of me, and the other one, behind me in the precinct house. There was no need for me to turn around. No need either, to read the sign overhead.

The limestone building loomed large in my memory. Two lanterns glowed and the entrance, double doors of polished brass, were as tall and heavy as I remembered them. It was late March and I wasn’t Caesar but it sure as hell felt like the Ides of March as I walked up those marble steps.

***

Excerpt from Symphony Road by Gabriel Valjan. Copyright 2021 by Gabriel Valjan. Reproduced with permission from Gabriel Valjan. All rights reserved.

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Author Bio:

Gabriel Valjan
Gabriel Valjan lives in Boston’s South End. He is the author of the Roma Series and Company Files (Winter Goose Publishing) and the Shane Cleary series (Level Best Books). His second Company File novel, The Naming Game, was a finalist for the Agatha Award for Best Historical Mystery and the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original in 2020. Gabriel is a member of the Historical Novel Society, International Thriller Writer (ITW), and Sisters in Crime.

Catch Up With Gabriel Valjan:

www.GabrielValjan.com GabrielsWharf.wordpress.com Goodreads BookBub – @gvaljan Instagram – @gabrielvaljan Twitter – @GValjan Facebook

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#BlogTour “Road to the Breaking” by Chris Bennett

Road to the Breaking

Welcome to the blog tour for Road to Breaking by Chris Bennett! Read on to learn more about this riveting historical fiction and enter for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

Road to the Breaking - PaperbackRoad to Breaking (The Breaking Saga #1)

Publication Date: January 5, 2021

Publisher: CPB Publishing

Nothing survived ‘The Breaking’ unchanged; lives and fortunes, love and hate, freedom and slavery …
It’s early 1860, and war hero Captain Nathaniel Chambers, commander U.S. Army Fort Davis in the west Texas wilderness, has received shocking news – his father is dead. He must return home to Virginia and claim his inheritance before a maniacal neighbor can murder his widowed mother and seize the family plantation.
But he’s torn by a terrible dilemma – to stay in the army and turn his back on his fortune, his mother and his beloved childhood home, or become the thing he despises; a slave master! Is there no other choice?
Meanwhile, a woman desperate to redeem her family’s fortunes schemes to marry her beautiful but troubled daughter to the handsome young heir. But will Evelyn’s own plans break his heart instead?
An epic journey across a young nation seething with debauchery, brutality, corruption, and political intrigue, unwittingly on the brink of an unimaginable disaster; the American Civil War. Nathan Chambers has left the violent army life behind in Texas, never imaging he’s on the very ‘Road to The Breaking’.

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Excerpt

“Hey, Billy. Why is it the Comanche hate the Tonkawa so much?” he called out. The Captain’s bowed head looked up, startled by the sudden noise.

“What … the Comanche? Oh, it is a very long, old tale. Would you like to hear it, Sergeant Clark?”

A long tale, Tom thought. Just the medicine the Captain needs.

“Yes, Billy, if you please.”

The other men started to perk up. Billy rarely spoke much, but when he did his stories tended toward the bizarre and supernatural, with plenty of his own special brand of odd, dry humor thrown in. This typically made for highly entertaining stories.

“There once was a time, very long, and long, ago. Back before the grandfathers of our grandfathers were even conceived by their grandfathers’ grandfathers. So long ago, in fact, it is said it was almost the very beginning of time—whenever that was.” He shrugged his shoulders and grinned.

“Anyway … in that long-ago time it was different between the Comanche and the People, those of us you white men now call Tonkawa. Back then we did not hate each other and fight always, the way we do now. We didn’t love each other either, of course; there is no amount of time going that far back, ha!

“In that time the People and the Comanche knew each other, but lived apart, sometimes seeing each other when they shared the hunting grounds. The land was not dry as now. It was filled with a great greenness. It is said the water was abundant, and fell from the sky so often, it flowed carelessly, wandering across the land, heedless of its proper places in rivers and lakes.

“And so, the land was filled with so many animals the People did not have to hunt long or hard for their daily meat. And never did they give thought to saving anything for tomorrow. Both the People and the Comanche were wasteful in their excess, never having known want.

“But there came a time when the People were led by a great and wise man. His name was Tchezse—um … Tchezselkeizl … well, it would mean nothing in your language, anyway. You would say something like ‘Sun-and-Moon-in-Sky-Together-and-Wind-in-Stars,’ but that is not quite right either. For my story, I will just be calling him ‘Sun-Moon’ and you will know who I’m talking about.

“Sun-Moon was very wise, as I have already said. One day he called the People together saying, ‘I have had a mighty dream of the gods, and they have made my eyes to see many great and terrible things.’ And the People listened as Sun-Moon told his seeing—of a time to come when water would stop falling from the sky and would no longer flow heedless across the land. It would return to its ancestral home in a few, shallow rivers and lakes or sink deep into the ground. And the land would change from green to brown, and the animals that once provided the People with their daily meat would hide away in far-off lands.

“Then the People were afraid, and asked Sun-Moon what would become of their children, and their children’s children, if there were no greenness and no meat. But Sun-Moon said, ‘You needn’t worry about your children’s children, or even your own children; this time the gods have shown me is coming even unto the lives of you who sit before me. If the People do not prepare to face the evil time coming, all will perish from the earth.’
“And so, Sun-Moon led the men high into the hills, or deep into caves under the Earth. There the animals were few and fierce, so the men must become great hunters and trackers. And he taught the women and children to cure the extra meat they did not eat daily, with salt and different herbs growing in the earth. In this way their meat might be saved for many months in time of want. And he showed them where to find roots growing under the ground, for water, and food, at greatest need in time of dryness.

“But the Comanche had no great leader like Sun-Moon. They laughed at the People for making their hunts so difficult when meat was so plentiful. And they mocked them for digging in the earth for roots when food and water were so easily had on the open earth.

“But Sun-Moon was not angered by the cruel laughter of the Comanche. You see, he was a truly great and wise man—but I think I have already said that. So he went to them and told them also of his dreams, by way of warning they should prepare for the evil days to come. But still they would take no heed and sent him away with great scorn.

“And so, you will not be surprised to hear there came a day when the water stopped falling from the skies. And then the land turned all to brown, even as Sun-Moon had foretold. And though the People had been warned, and had prepared as best they could, still the greatness of this evil time was even greater than any had imagined. So although they had practiced hard to become mighty hunters, and great trackers of animals, still, bringing home the meat was hard. Though they ate little, and salted and kept back what they could, still many, and many died. And all suffered great want.

“This story was told me by a wise, old man when I was just a young boy, and he called this terrible time The Breaking.”

“The Breaking?” Nathan asked, having become absorbed in the tale. “What does that mean?”

“He said it was called that because it was a time of such suffering and death, it caused the breaking of all the old ways. Some for the good, and some for the worse. Nothing came through The Breaking unchanged, and all that once was, even to the greenness of the earth, was broken during that time, and was never again the same.

“Well … it is said while the People suffered greatly in The Breaking, the Comanche suffered more. They had not heeded the words of Sun-Moon, of course. So they had never learned the skills to hunt the few animals remaining, and to dig the roots from the earth. Their need was great, and they became desperate, and dangerous.

“They saw the People still had the meat they had preserved, and a store of the roots they had pulled from the ground. And they became angry the People had food, and they had none. So they came to the People and demanded they be given the food the People had saved.

“But Sun-Moon took pity on them. He said, ‘There is not enough of the salted meat and roots for both the People and the Comanche, so we cannot give it to you. But we will teach you to hunt that you may bring home your own meat. And we will teach you to save your meat by salting, and how to find roots living under the ground that you might dig them up.’

“But the Comanche were hungry and did not want to wait to learn these things. Instead they decided they would take the food from the People by war. So they returned to their village, put on their war paint, and collected their hunting spears. By the time they had made ready for war it was becoming dark. They lit torches and carried them to see their way back to the camp of the People.

“But Sun-Moon had foreseen this as well and made ready the People for the war that was coming. The Comanche came, carrying their torches. They have always been larger, stronger, and more fearsome than the People, so they carried their deadly spears with confidence of easy victory. They could already taste the precious food that would soon be theirs.

“But they had forgotten the men of the People had become great hunters. Because their prey had been more fierce and cunning, the People had learned to use the bow, and shoot arrows with deadly aim. And they had learned to use lightweight throwing spears to hit prey from a distance, rather than short, heavy spears the Comanche used to butcher their easy kills.

“Many Comanche were killed, and the rest fled in fear. But those who fell, and those who fled, all dropped their torches, and the dry earth was set afire. It burned all that night with a great flame that lit the sky.

“When the sun rose in the morning, the People found all their food had been destroyed by fire. They were hungry but were also very tired from the fighting and the fire and had no strength left to hunt. Also, all the animals they might have hunted had been driven far away by fear of the flames.

“And so the People did the only thing left for them to do. They ate the Comanche they had killed.”

“They … ate them?” Georgie asked.

“Yes. Sun-Moon told them it was the only sensible thing the People could do so they would not all starve and die. And so that is what they did.

“It is said the great flames of the fire sent smoke high into the sky. It climbed so high it mingled with the scant clouds, and caused the water to start falling again, though never so much as before.

“The war with the Comanche, you see, was the end of The Breaking, but it was the beginning of the hatred of the Comanche for the People.”

“Well, I don’t see why the Comanche should hate the Tonkawa. Sounds like they lost the war fair and square, and after they started it!” Jamie said, and Georgie nodded in agreement.

But Billy shrugged his shoulders and said, “Guess Comanche don’t like being eaten. Ha!”

The men chuckled and even the Captain smiled.

“I’ve heard people say the Tonkawa still eat their enemies,” William said.

Billy turned toward him and grinned, “Then best hope I never have to kill you, William!”

William shook his head “No,” emphatically.

Billy continued, “I have heard of it being done. When the enemy is not of the People and is killed in man-to-man battle. Some say it is to honor those who fought the war of The Breaking. Others say the fighting spirit of the dead is taken into the living that way. I don’t know … seems to me the one left alive had more fighting spirit than the dead one! Ha!”

Though he seemed more alert after Billy’s tale, by the time they’d made camp that evening Nathan was already laid down and asleep, as if from utter exhaustion. Tom was still concerned and sat up long into the night watching over his Captain. At first, Nathan tossed in his sleep and seemed to moan as if in pain. But then at some point, it seemed to Tom he began to rest more at ease and sleep more at peace.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Bennett Author Photo

Chris Bennett grew up on the shores of Klamath Lake in southeastern Oregon. For a young boy it was a dream world of water, hills, forests and abundant wildlife. His love for action and adventure morphed into a lifelong love for books when his Mom read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to the family on a long road trip.

It was routine and normal for the family dinner table discussions to involve history, politics, and anything interesting going on in the world. So, when he attended the University of Oregon it seemed perfectly natural (and easy) to study history and political science. But everyone said you couldn’t make a living in those fields, so he decided to try his hand at Computer Science. He’s been writing professionally, in the software development business for more than 35 years now.

However, Chris’s thirst for adventure never faded and he began to live out his love of history onto the pages of his first book, The Road to the Breaking. Once he started writing he just couldn’t stop and the result is The Road to the Breaking series; an epic journey across a young nation seething with debauchery, brutality, corruption, and political intrigue, unwittingly on the brink of an unimaginable disaster; the American Civil War.

Chris Bennett | Facebook | Instagram

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February 8th

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#BookSale “Killing Commendatore: A novel” by Haruki Murakami

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When a thirty-something portrait painter is abandoned by his wife, he secludes himself in the mountain home of a world famous artist. One day, the young painter hears a noise from the attic, and upon investigation, he discovers a previously unseen painting. By unearthing this hidden work of art, he unintentionally opens a circle of mysterious circumstances; and to close it, he must undertake a perilous journey into a netherworld that only Haruki Murakami could conjure. A tour de force of love and loneliness, war and art, Killing Commendatore is a stunning work of imagination from one of our greatest writers.

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#BlogTour “The Book of Uriel” by Elyse Hoffman

TheBookofUriel

Congratulations to author Elyse Hoffman on the release of this absolutely stunning novel, The Book of Uriel!

“The Book of Uriel is a heartbreaking blend of historical fiction and Jewish folklore that will enthrall fans of The Book Thief and The World That We Knew.”

Read on for an excerpt and a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

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The Book of Uriel

Expected Publication Date: January 26, 2021

Genre: Historical Fiction/ Jewish Fiction/ Jewish Folklore/ Holocaust Fiction

Publisher: Project 613 Publishing

In the fires of World War II, a child must save his people from darkness…

Ten-year-old Uriel has always been an outcast. Born mute in a Jewish village known for its choir, he escapes into old stories of his people, stories of angels and monsters. But when the fires of the Holocaust consume his village, he learns that the stories he writes in his golden notebook are terrifyingly real.

In the aftermath of the attack, Uriel is taken in by Uwe, a kind-hearted linguist forced to work for the commander of the local Nazi Police, the affably brutal Major Brandt. Uwe wants to keep Uriel safe, but Uriel can’t stay hidden. The angels of his tales have come to him with a dire message: Michael, guardian angel of the Jewish people, is missing. Without their angel, the Jewish people are doomed, and Michael’s angelic brethren cannot search for him in the lands corrupted by Nazi evil.

With the lives of millions at stake, Uriel must find Michael and free him from the clutches of the Angel of Death…even if that means putting Uwe in mortal danger.

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Excerpt

Uriel wished he could scream.

Normally, he could. A scream was one of the few noises that ever emerged from the boy’s lips. No words ever escaped, but he could summon a scream.

Yet his lungs couldn’t gather enough air to produce a cry. They struggled to supply enough oxygen to keep the child awake. Smoke invaded his throat and clawed at his lungs. Although screams pierced the air from every angle, he couldn’t add his own to the din.

He still felt the pressure of mother’s fingers locked around his hand, even though she was gone. Uriel’s golden eyes darted to and fro, searching for her face. His fingers twitched as her warmth faded. He strained his ears, trying to hear her call to him, but her voice did not rise above the ruckus.

Mama! Uriel thought, his tears allying with the smoke and assaulting his eyes. He wanted to cry out for her. Perhaps if she heard him, she would find him, and they could get to safety. But his voice had never worked before, and though he opened his mouth to call out, all he could do was pant and cough.

Gunshots rang out. The fleeing villagers clung to their families and their few precious possessions, shoving one another out of the way as they tried to escape the flames enveloping the little town and the murderous mob cutting down the Jews. Young and old, women and men, little children and babies were thrown to the ground, beaten with clubs, shot, stabbed, and slaughtered. Their blood mingled with the warm ash coating the cobblestones.

Uriel stood in the midst of the mayhem, still as a statue, alone. His right hand yearned for his mother, while his left clutched the one possession he had snatched before fleeing his house. His little golden notebook. Small enough to fit in his pocket and filled with stories he couldn’t leave to burn.

Although the villagers would normally never leave a small child alone in the street, concern for their own lives and the lives of their families caused them to stampede. Uriel was pushed against a brick wall, and his golden notebook flew from his hand. He gasped, inhaling an army of ash. The boy desperately tried to crawl to his notebook. Boots and shoes stomped on the cherished book, but Uriel reached it. He grabbed the notebook and held it to his chest, shielding it with his body.

The child was trampled and kicked. His lungs began losing to the smoke and ash entering through his nostrils and silent lips. He felt as though his insides were on fire, as though every bone in his body was about to shatter. When darkness finally took him, all he felt was gratitude.

Available on Amazon!

About the Author

Author-picture-1-1

Elyse Hoffman can write a lot of things, but finds her own story dull and difficult. She has been interested in the Holocaust and Nazi Germany since she was thirteen. Her somewhat morbid fascination is purely intellectual and emotional. She advises you to be careful when signing contracts. You never know where or when you may end up.

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#BookBlitz “The Marauders Of Pitchfork Pass” by Clay Hudson Shivers

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Historical Fiction, Old West, Western

Date Published: August 2020

Publisher: Gunslinger, A Next Chapter Imprint

It’s 1873, only a few years after the Civil War, and the West is changing. But there is still one town where good citizens can feel safe.

When the sheriff of Silver Vein is killed, it’s up to saloon keeper Curly Barnes – an admitted coward – to see that justice is done. Along for the ride are two legendary Texas Rangers, the soon-to-be-famous outlaw Johnny Ringo, and a couple of brothers who like to play with dynamite.

But after the dust settles, who will be the last man standing?

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About The Author

Clay Houston Shivers is an American novelist currently living in San Francisco. He grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, but spent every summer at his grandparents’ ranch near Georgetown, Texas. He first became fascinated by the American frontier and discovered his love for westerns. He attended college at SMU in Dallas, Texas. For the last twenty years he has worked as an advertising copywriter.

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