‘The Headmaster’s Wife’ by Thomas Christopher Greene

tcg thwSTORY: An immensely talented writer whose work has been described as “incandescent” (Kirkus) and “poetic” (Booklist), Thomas Christopher Greene pens a haunting and deeply affecting portrait of one couple at their best and worst.

Inspired by a personal loss, Greene explores the way that tragedy and time assail one man’s memories of his life and loves. Like his father before him, Arthur Winthrop is the Headmaster of Vermont’s elite Lancaster School. It is the place he feels has given him his life, but is also the site of his undoing as events spiral out of his control. Found wandering naked in Central Park, he begins to tell his story to the police, but his memories collide into one another, and the true nature of things, a narrative of love, of marriage, of family and of a tragedy Arthur does not know how to address emerges. Luminous and atmospheric, bringing to life the tight-knit enclave of a quintessential New England boarding school, the novel is part mystery, part love story and an exploration of the ties of place and family. Beautifully written and compulsively readable, The Headmaster’s Wife stands as a moving elegy to the power of love as an antidote to grief.

REVIEW: When I started reading this book, I was completely drawn in by the interesting story and cozy way the author wrote it.  As I got into the novel, I found that it was not only a quick read but one that the reader cannot put down.

Arthur Winthrop is the Headmaster of Lancaster School, an élite prep school in Vermont.  Like his father and grandfather before him, he has become the third generation of Headmasters of Lancaster. Arthur and his wife, Elizabeth, both scholars, have settled into their life at Lancaster.  After some years, they find themselves parents to a son named Ethan.  Arthur thinks that Ethan will become the next Headmaster and pass the tradition on down the line.  However, Ethan has different ideas for what he want to do with his life and chooses to join the military after the devastation of September 11th.  Completely flummoxed by their son’s decision, they worry about him but accept his decision.  When word comes that Ethan has been killed in battle, they are devastated and express their grief in their own way.  Elizabeth chooses to sit in Ethan’s room rocking in a chair and remembering him as a child.  Arthur’s reaction comes in a more psychologically frightening way that lands him in jail.

I don’t want to share too much more of this story but suffice to say that there are big surprises as you get toward the end.  

I started reading this book one evening and could not put it down until I had finished it.  That’s how compelling the story is and it will not let you go until you too have finished it.  I would be interested to see the reaction that others have to this novel.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by my Library. 

‘No Ordinary Mistress’ by Robyn DeHart

rdh  nomSTORY: London, 1814

Remington Hawthorne, Earl of Latham, has spent his life protecting the Crown. When he’s assigned to play the part of lover to Emma Masterson, one of the few female spies in England and the one woman he can’t forget, he’ll have to risk his heart as well as his life.

It isn’t easy being an independent woman, much less a spy. Perpetually tasked with proving she is as valuable as any man in her profession, the last thing Emma needs is to be reunited with the one man who makes her want to forget her duties and get lost in passion.

Pretending to be his mistress isn’t difficult—remembering that it is all a charade is a challenge. With every glance, every touch, every kiss, she is drawn deeper under his spell and pulled further from her goals. She refused him once, but it will take every ounce of strength to not give in to the passion that still burns strong…

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | 

REVIEW: Trained at the esteemed yet secret Seven academy for spies, Emma Masterson is a very smart, courageous, headstrong and beautiful young woman.  Choosing to take an assignment alone is unusual for a woman, however, Emma is determined to do so.  She is sent to seduce Lord Comfry to learn what she can about him being suspected of selling secrets to the French.

Remington (Remy) Hawthorne, an Earl, is also a member of the Seven and has worked with Emma in the past.  At that time, they found they were attracted to one another, but when Remy tries to protect Emma, she becomes angry and they part for a time.  Thrown back together again to solve this crime, their attraction is renewed.

This is a novella that is very well-written and holds the reader’s interest.  The love story between Emma and Remy is very romantic and the story of the spy mystery is quite intriguing.  I’m sure that readers will want to grab a copy of this right away.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author.

‘The Winter People’ by Jennifer McMahon

jmcm twpSTORY: The New York Times bestselling author of Promise Not to Tell returns with a simmering literary thriller about ghostly secrets, dark choices, and the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters . . . sometimes too unbreakable.

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara’s fate, she discovers that she’s not the only person who’s desperately looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

REVIEW: Sara Harrison Shea lived in West Hall, Vermont.  In 1908, she was savagely murdered.  She was only 31.  The story goes that she was married and the mother of two deceased children.  The loss of her children affected her deeply.  Her son passed away when he was a baby.  However, when at age 9, her daughter, Gertie, was found dead at the bottom of a well, her sanity was pushed over the edge.  People say that Sara’s ghost is still with us.

Ruthie Washburne now lives in Sara’s house with her Mom and her little sister.  Her father passed away recently and her Mom has always been very strict with her.  Her parents have preferred to live their lives in a  private way and have even eschewed many modern necessities such as the internet.  While Ruthie doesn’t believe the ghost stories about Sara, she is very wary of the thick woods behind the house.  When one day her mother vanishes, she and her sister, aided by her boyfriend, begin a search for her. They find a diary of Sara’s and other items in the house that takes them deeper into a story that opens a world of fear that terrifies Ruthie.

The tale of Sara reaches out even further to touch the lives of Katherine and Gary.  They had lost their young son to leukemia a few years back and are grief stricken.  Gary seems to be the one having the most difficult time with the loss.  When one day he fails to return home, Katherine finds that he has been killed in an auto accident in an an area unknown to her – West Hall, Vermont.  Katherine is determined to uncover the mystery of why he was there.

All of these lives weave together to find all the pieces of Sara’s diary and uncover the truth that has been hidden for such a long time.

This story was magnificent.  It switches back and forth from present day to 1908 as the reader learns new clues that solves this mystery in an edge-of-the-seat way.  I highly recommend it!

*Connie for b2b

*Book provided by my local library.

 

‘This House is Haunted’ by John Boyne

jb thihSTORY: 1867. Eliza Caine arrives in Norfolk to take up her position as governess at Gaudlin Hall on a dark and chilling night. As she makes her way across the station platform, a pair of invisible hands push her from behind into the path of an approaching train. She is only saved by the vigilance of a passing doctor.

When she finally arrives, shaken, at the hall she is greeted by the two children in her care, Isabella and Eustace. There are no parents, no adults at all, and no one to represent her mysterious employer. The children offer no explanation. Later that night in her room, a second terrifying experience further reinforces the sense that something is very wro

REVIEW: Eliza Caine lives frugally in London with her father and teaches in an all girls school. Her mother had passed away some years earlier.  A huge fan of Charles Dickens, her father insists on braving the cold and rain to attend a reading by this renowned author only to quickly be stricken by a cold that soon claimed his life.

When she finds that she must leave the home she has known, Eliza decides to answer an ad for a position of a governess at Gaudlin Hall in Norfolk.  When she arrives, she is perplexed to find only the children to greet her.  They are 12-year-old Isabella and her brother, Eustace, a few years younger.  They are well-groomed and polite yet they tell her she is to be the adult of the home and is also to prepare their meals.  The person who oversees the finances for the home is a solicitor, Mr. Raisin, who lives in the town.  While trying to understand all of this, she explores the house and decides to visit Mr. Raisin the next day and find out what is really going on.  

That’s when the nightmares begin.  She feels someone’s hands on her feet dragging her from the bed.  When she awakens from her dream, no one is there.  Many strange and frightening incidents occur that show there is an evil presence in the house, yet as Eliza is a sensible young woman, she is determined to find out what is happening at the home.  When she learns that she is the sixth governess in a year and all but she and another one are dead, her fear grows.  

I can’t give away anymore of this plot but suffice to say that it was written very well and just scary enough.  I think it would make a good movie.  Stick with it until the end because that’s when you will probably, as I did, say, “Uh-Oh!”

*Connie for b2b.

*Book provided by my local library.

‘Murder with Ganache’ by Lucy Burdette

lb mwgSTORY: Hayley Snow, the food critic for Key Zest magazine, has her plate heaped high with restaurant reviews, doughnut and sticky bun tastings, and an article on the Hemingway cats. But this week she’s also in charge of her best friend’s wedding. And then someone adds a side of murder…

For better or worse, Hayley has agreed to bake over 200 cupcakes for her friend Connie’s wedding while still meeting her writing deadlines. The last thing she needs is family drama. But her parents come barreling down on the island like a category 3 hurricane and on their first night in town her stepbrother, Roby, disappears into the spring break party scene in Key West.

When Hayley hears that two teenagers have stolen a jet ski, she sets aside her oven mitts and goes in search of Rory. She finds him, barely conscious, but his female companion isn’t so lucky. Now Hayley has to let the cupcakes cool and assemble the sprinkles of clues to clear her stepbrother’s name—before someone else gets iced.

REVIEW: ***Spoiler Alert***

 

Hayley Snow is up to her ears with things to get done.  She’s got lots of her special lime cupcakes with lime cream cheese frosting for her friend, Connie’s wedding in a couple of days.  As she is the food critic for the Key Zest magazine in Key West, Florida, Hayley knows and loves food.  We find her juggling the arrival of family and friends for the wedding and her job.  It’s spring break in Key West with lots of people visiting and activities going on.  When her visiting teenage stepbrother, Rory, requests to meander into town to see the sights while everyone is getting together for pre-wedding festivities, fear replaces fun when he fails to return and goes missing overnight.

When found, he is injured and ends up hospitalized in intensive care.  As more comes out that he had been with another young woman who was found murdered, the finger of suspicion points squarely at Rory.  Fearing the worst, Hayley slips into sleuth mode and joining up with the local police and friends, she begins to investigate the murder and comes closer than expected to the real culprit.

This was the first of Lucy’s books I have read but it most certainly will not be the last.  I enjoyed the camaraderie of Lucy’s friends and her knowledge of Key West.  You don’t have to be a Key West fan to love Lucy’s stories.  However, I’m betting you will get the bug to visit this fun city one day!

*Coonie for b2b.

*Book provided by the author.

‘Song Of the Fireflies’ Blitz Tour with …

J.A. Redmerski!

sotf jarBOOK BLURB: The Truth Will Set Them Free
Brayelle Bates has always been a force of nature. Even as a child, Bray’s wild and carefree spirit intimidated everyone around her. The only person who’s ever truly understood her is her best friend, Elias Kline. Though every fiber of her being wants to stay with Elias forever, Bray can’t bear the thought of him discovering her agonizing history. She’s done everything she can to keep him at arm’s length, including moving away. But their undying bond was too strong a pull to deny, and Bray couldn’t survive without him. Now she’s back home with Elias, and things have never felt more right-until one night changes everything.

Elias vowed never to be separated from Bray again. So when she decides to flee in a desperate attempt to escape her fate, Elias knows he must go with her. As the two try to make the most of their circumstance, taking up with a reckless group of new friends, Elias soon realizes there’s a darkness driving Bray he can’t ignore. Now in order to save her, he’ll have to convince Bray to accept the consequences of their reality-even if it means losing her.

Buy Links: Amazon / B&N / Bookish / iTunes

Song-of-the-Fireflies-Pre-Launch-Blitz

EXCERPT:

Thunder rumbled in the sky and the thick, dark clouds lit up in the distance, revealing what the tops of the trees looked like painted against the black backdrop that had shrouded them. The crawling branches that reached upward along the infinite dark looked ominous as the flash of light faded.

I felt a drop of rain. And then another.

“So much for a quiet walk together,” Bray said.

And just then, the sky opened up and it began to pour. Bray shrieked and tried to cover herself unsuccessfully with her arms and then the screaming turned into laughter. We were both drenched in under five seconds. The rain pounded down so fast and so hard that we had to shout over the noise to hear each other; each drop like a million nails being thrust into the dirt on the baseball field.

“It’s a long walk back!” I said.

Bray started spinning like a ballerina in the middle of the field. She laughed and raised her arms above her and turned her face upward toward the sky and just let the rain wash over her. She opened her mouth and spun around and around. I watched her for a moment, mesmerized by her innocence. I saw that little girl I met so long ago, running with me through that pasture without a worry in the world. Just seeing her like that, it made me smile, but deep down it also crushed me. I knew that she would never be that innocent again, that our life together would never be as carefree as it was when we were children.

“Dance with me!” she shouted.

“What?”

“Dance with me!”

I had heard her right the first time. I just didn’t understand why here, why now.

“There’s no music!” I said over the rain.

She grabbed my hand. “You don’t hear that?!” she said, motioning to the patter of rain and thunder around us.

She started spinning around me and I stood in the same spot following her until she grabbed both of my hands and pulled on them. Next thing I knew, we were spinning together, holding each other’s hands tightly and distributing equal weight on our arms. At first, I felt like an idiot and hoped Tate wasn’t spying, or worse, Caleb. But I was quickly lost in Bray’s laughter and her smile and her beautiful blue eyes. The thunder got louder, the lightning more intense. I was beginning to worry about us being out in the open like this, in the center of a baseball field just asking to be struck down by the finger of God. But soon, I didn’t care. We were those two innocent children again, living free and loving life. And not even lightning could ruin this moment. It wouldn’t dare.

We stopped spinning, and I twirled her around by her hands as I stood in place, and then I dipped her. Leaning over her body, I pressed my wet lips between her breasts as her white shirt was weighted down by the endless rain.

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JR EdmerskAUTHOR BIO: J.A. Redmerski, New York TimesUSA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author lives in North Little Rock, Arkansas with her three children, two cats and a Maltese.

She is a lover of television and books that push boundaries and is a huge fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead.

Social Media Links: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

Leah’s 2013 choices for…

Five Star Reads are:

XMTS VRI know we all have our favorite genres and our favorite authors. As for me, I read all types of historical books. Even a few contemporaries.

I had many 4 – 4 1/2 star reviews this year but I thought I’d post about my 5 star reads and you will see by my list just where my heart lies when it comes to genres, which doesn’t mean that I won’t give high marks to contemporary novels.

I gave a very high 4 1/2 to ‘Spin’ by Bella Love.  I am hooked! You can check out my review here.

Now, back to my FIVE STAR reads and so, here we go….

Julianne Lee and her Tenebrae series

‘Knight Tenebrae’, ‘Knight’s Blood’ and ‘Knight’s Lady’.

“Trapped in a place not their own, two strangers find the only thing they can count on is one another”.

Follow Alex and Lindsay as they travel back through time to 14th century Scotland. All three books take you on their journey. I was simply full of emotion throughout all three books. Read Mel’s reviews for the series here.

Sue-Ellen Welfonder and her Highland Warriors series

 ‘Sins Of a Highland Devil’, ‘Temptation of a Highland Scoundrel’ and ‘Seduction of a Highland Warrior’, along with SOTC PBthe novella, ‘Once Upon a Highland Christmas’.

I can tell you that Sue-Ellen brings medieval Scotland to life for me every time I go into one of her stories. They are full of humor, mystery, highland magic, warfare, and love. All are filled with history bits that will keep all history buffs happy. You can read my reviews for the series here, here & here, with Melanie’s review for the novella here,

Monica McCarty and ‘The Hawk’

It is part of the Highland Guard series and I highly recommend it. They all received high marks from me but Eric “Hawk” MacSorely stood out above the rest. She is another auto-buy for me. You can read my review here.

Diane Darcy and ‘She Owns The Knight’

I can’t express enough how much I enjoyed this book! I am sitting here smiling from ear to ear as I write this. If you love 13th century England, laughing, and watching as two people learn what love is all about, this story is a must buy! You can read my review here.

Victoria Roberts and ‘X Marks The Scot’

TH MMcCThis is #2 in the Bad Boys of the Highlands series and I waited patiently for Declan and his story and was so excited when I finally got it in my hands.

I knew there was a wonderful man behind the rogue. Laidain is just the woman for him too, one who won’t let him hide behind his blether, and one who is strong enough to stand her ground with him and everyone else for that matter.

This story is packed with treason, danger it seems around every turn, secrets discovered that condemns some and saves another, and laughter…..tons of laughter!

Patricia Bracewell and ‘Shadow on the Crown

Loved this story! From the history to the direction Patricia took this story in, her writing had hooked me in!

I felt for Emma as she accepted her lot in life and smiled when she stood for herself when needed. King Aethelred was constantly suspicious of everyone and because of his guilt, found himself tortured by visits from his murdered brother’s ghostly shadow. He also blatantly carried on with Elgiva, his mistress. I enjoyed the way Ms. Bracewell took the story line with Athelstan, the King’s son and his relationship with Emma. Through her words she brought OUAHC SEWcharacters into my life to love and hate, and added with the history, this became one of my most favorite reads this year. I cannot wait for the next on this series to see what she brings us next!

Kris Kennedy and ‘The Conqueror’

This author’s words move me. Period. I feel a deep connection while reading her work and urge you to give her a try if you haven’t yet. You can read my review here.

Margaret Mallory and ‘The Chieftain’

This is book 4 in the Return of the Highlanders series.

From beginning to end she had me captured in their world. My heart-felt warmth as I read the epilogue. I enjoyed watching their love come to fruition and talk about HOT!! I loved the mystical parts of this story. Tearlag and Ilysa and their sight, the fairy glens and the chants… ghostly sightings and the legends surrounding them all call to my heart. Scotland is full of lore and Margaret Mallory does an TIW KKexcellent job of bringing it to life.

She left me aching to walk the fairy glens, graveyards, and hills with standing stones. You can read Melanie’s review here.

Tanya Anne Crosby and her Highland Brides series. 

‘The MacKinnon’s Bride’, ‘Lyon’s Gift’, ‘On Bended Knee’ and ‘Lion Heart’ were re-reads for me that kept calling for me to pull out. Screamed at me actually. ‘Highland Song’ is a new addition to the series and stole my heart just as swiftly as the others did.

I found Tanya when I started reading 20 years ago and she was instantly catapulted to the top of my favorites list.

To me, her writing pulls at my heart and wraps me solidly within its pages.

You can read my reviews for the series herehereherehere, and here. You can now get the first 4 in the series in a boxed set…Cheaper that way, only $9.99!

So, there you have it! The stories that hit 5 stars for me this year and in no particular order. I would love to hear what everyone else read this year that received a 5 star rating. Feel free to share with us and give us your recommendations.

Now, I’m looking forward to seeing what 2014 brings into my reading world.

*Leah for b2b

Julianne Lee stops by b2b …

‘The Scottish Play Murder’ by Anne Rutherford aka Julianne Lee

TSPM ARBOOK BLURB: The first production of The New Globe Players was marked by murder. Now Suzanne Thornton’s company dares to mount the most cursed of plays…

When charming Scotsman Diarmid Ramsay asks to play the titular role in Macbeth, he sets off a flurry of excitement among The New Globe Players. Despite protests from the company director that performing the “Scottish play” will lead only to disaster, Suzanne decides that the show must go on—with herself acting the part of Lady Macbeth, opposite the handsome stranger.

Rehearsals begin—but then rumors about Ramsay arise, implicating him in the death of a sailor found behind the Goat and Boar. Is the man a murderer, possibly involved in a plot against the newly restored king? Suzanne refuses to believe it, until another murder connected to Ramsay occurs.

It seems the curse of Macbeth may have been unleashed, leaving Suzanne no choice but to use her wits and her wiles to determine if Ramsay is a gifted actor—or a murderous villain.

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N / iBookstore

***   ***   ***

EXCERPT: 

He said to the voice, “Tell your business.”

“Louis, let him in. I can’t hear him out there.”

With a show of reluctance, Louis hauled the door wide enough to allow the visitor to enter. In stepped a man in a skirt. Not just a skirt, but a checkered one that barely covered his knees. The woolen fabric of it overflowed his belt so lavishly that he threw the excess over his shoulder like a cape or shawl. Suzanne had seen a kilt once before, but that had been a dull brown with black threads running through it. This luxurious garment was a stunning red with green, black and yellow criss-crossing in large squares. The fabric was clean and appeared new, a rare thing in this neighborhood, and in her experience almost an oddity in a Scot. Beneath the kilt the visitor wore a clean white shirt that was equally stiff and fresh. His belt was dyed shiny black and bore a large, silver buckle wrought so finely as to bespeak a great deal of wealth. As did the sword that hung at his side from a black leather baldric. A utility dagger with a plain wooden handle was thrust into his belt without scabbard. For shoes he wore only soft leather without ornament or heel, and no leggings at all. It begged the question of what linens he might be wearing beneath the kilted wool, and though there had once been a time when Suzanne might have simply lifted the hem to find out, today she refrained for the sake of proving herself no longer a tart. At her age, that sort of behavior was less than amusing to most men and should be left to women far younger and comely than herself.

And besides, this man’s face caught her attention and held it. He had the black Irish coloring she’d always found appealing, with jet black hair, pale skin, and warm, ruddy cheeks. His mouth was red, and appeared to have the sort of habitual smile that made some people seem happy all the time. In addition, this man was actually smiling. His charm was palpable, and Suzanne felt if she stood in his presence long enough she would soon be covered in it, like spring pollen.

He looked straight into her eyes and said, “I’ve come for an audition.”

Suzanne blinked, surprised. This man appeared far too wealthy to need employment as an actor. Theatre was something one did when desperate and only when without skills other than lying. Certainly that was how she herself had ended up here. In the general scheme of things, acting was thought by most people as one step down from military service, one step up from thievery, and just around the corner from murder for hire. The wealth and beauty she saw standing before her was almost never found onstage.

Their visitor continued, in a rich, rolling brogue, “My name is Diarmid Ramsay, and I’ve been told you’ve a need for someone to play the title role in Macbeth.”

This was news to Suzanne. That play was one the troupe had not yet addressed, and she’d not heard mention of it from Horatio. She turned to call him from the ‘tiring house, and found he’d not left the stage. He was still there, staring at the brightly dressed Scot as if fascinated by the busy tartan wool. “Horatio!” she called. “Have you put out an audition notice regarding Macbeth?”

“I expect you mean the Scottish play.” An odd stress in his voice puzzled her, and he crossed himself as if she’d uttered a curse. When he kissed the wooden crucifix he wore around his neck, she knew she’d truly frightened him.

Oh, right. Nobody ever called that play by its proper name. Bad luck, or something. Horatio was a stickler for taking no chances with theatre superstition, going so far as to ban whistling in the ‘tiring house though he’d only just that year heard it was bad luck. “Very well, then, if you like. The Scottish play. Are we casting for it?”

“No, and we will not ever. ‘Tis terrible luck and I won’t have it.”

Suzanne turned to Ramsay. “I’m sorry, kind sir, you seem to have been ill informed. We’re not casting Mac…that play.” She took a glance back at Horatio.

“Are you certain?” asked the would-be Macbeth.

Horatio called out from where he stood, “We are most certain. No Scottish play for us. Every troupe that has performed that play has failed and dispersed soon after. ‘Tis bad luck.”

Suzanne frowned, thinking, and turned back toward Horatio. “Well, it seems to me the luck is not so much luck as simply timing. Everyone knows that a failing company performs popular plays to increase attendance. And you can’t deny it’s a popular play.”

“You’ll recall in the old days, the time Cromwell’s soldiers attacked us we’d just performed that play.”

“We were performing The Twelfth Night when they came.”

“But the day before it had been the Scottish play.”

“And you think we were cursed by Shakespeare?”

“’Twas the witches. The witches cursed us.”

“You mean the Double, double…”

“Stop!” Horatio pressed his palms to his ears and shut his eyes tightly. “Do not say it!” He crossed himself again, then quickly returned his right palm to his ear. He crouched, as if awaiting a blow.

Louis said mildly, “I’d like us to do Macbeth.” Horatio flinched, but Louis ignored him. “I’ve always enjoyed that play, all dark and mysterious like. I prefer the spooky ones. Witches and ghosts and all that there suchlike.”

“A young man such as yourself would know no better than to flirt with the powers of darkness. So exciting for yourself, but not so merry for those of us who know the ways of the world and how badly they can go awry. ‘Tis bad luck, I say. You can have your mystery, Louis, and keep it.”

Matthew said, “Not so mysterious, I think. Ambitious woman eggs on her husband to do murder, they both go mad with guilt, and everyone ends up dead.”

“Not everyone.”

“Everyone who deserves it, and then some. A crowd pleaser, that one.”

Suzanne allowed as she did rather like Macbeth, and thought it would be a good addition to the repertoire. Indeed, one might think it a necessary addition, being a crowd pleaser. “I think we should do it.”

***   ***   ***

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Julianne LeeAUTHOR INFO: At twelve I began to write for fun, which I think is the only real reason to write fiction. Daydreaming with a purpose, and gradually I realized I could gain approval for the very thing teachers used to criticize me for in class. When I was thirty I decided to write for money and bought a copy of Writer’s Digest.

Twelve years, twelve completed novel manuscripts, and eight proposals for uncompleted novels after buying that Writer’s Digest, I sold a novel. Son of the Sword was my thirteenth completed manuscript. Lucky thirteen. Since then Berkley has published two time travel series set in historical Scotland, and two straight historicals set in Tudor England. I also write historical mysteries set in Restoration London, under the pseudonym Anne Rutherford.

Social Media: Website / Facebook / Tweeter

Wayne Tripp stops by b2b…

‘Grim Island’

(Book 1) Legacy of Terror

LighthouseBOOK BLURB: Shrouded in fog, Grim Island used to be shunned and used as a dumping ground by the early American colonists to rid themselves of undesirables. An island home to ghosts, monsters and practitioners of Dark Magic. But now, for school teacher Lacey Rodriguez and her detective boyfriend, Jamie MacLeod, Grim Island is home.

Unfortunately, Jamie seems to be losing interest in their budding romance. Either that, or he loves her so much, he’s keeping away to protect her. Making matters worse, Jamie’s new partner on the island police force, a woman with a dark secret, seems determined to steal Jamie away. Lacey and Jamie have secrets too, but then most of the people stuck on Grim Island do. Secrets that refuse to stay buried and have a bad habit of coming to life in the dark.

***   ***   ***

EXCERPT:

“Lacey Rodriguez swatted at the empty air around her as though trying to get rid of a bothersome wasp, and took off like a spooked mare toward the distant entryway, mindless of her hammering heels or her disheveled appearance.

She half expected the door to be locked.  What a humorous image that would be if she hit the door’s panic bar and ricocheted backwards to fall on her ass a dozen yards away.  Funny as hell if she wasn’t so damned frightened.  Miraculously, the door opened easily, virtually dumping her into the winter night.  She recovered her balance and trotted a dozen feet outside, stooping forward with her hands on her knees, her heaving breasts teasingly visible beneath her half-buttoned blouse as she fought to catch her breath.  She straightened as her breath slowed, a sudden wave of dizziness competing with her stomping headache.  She peeked out at a frigid winter night filled with swirling snow.  No Jamie.  Where was he?  She hoped he hadn’t forgotten to pick her up!  She heard a sound behind her then; the door slamming open, and whirled around, ready to scream.

As she looked, her large eyes glanced at the pretentious school sign. The one that read:  Constance Paine Elementary-Junior High School.  She thought of the joke around the school, among the teachers as well as the students. Everyone said that with Gerald Sweetling as principal, they should’ve changed the school’s name to Constant Pain instead.

Suddenly, there was a big man coming straight at her, calling her name.  Defensively, she raised her small fists; then seeing him step into the light, mumbled, “You bastard” into his chest and crumpled into his arms.  Unseen, he dropped the expensive irises he’d brought, suddenly concerned for the tears that racked her trembling body.”

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Wayne R TrippAUTHOR INFO: Wayne Tripp lives in New England and therein lies his passion for writing. “Allure of Siren’s Song” is his first historical adventure novel. In addition to his writing and his long-time avocation as a skilled SCUBA diver, Wayne enjoys spending time with his beloved wife, other family members, and his adorable Siberian Husky.

A strong believer in his childhood notion that love always triumphs, he manages to keep the darkness that threatens to crawl out of his creative closet at bay . . . most of the time.

Once in a while, something wicked finds a method to claw its way out, and those are the stories that Wayne Tripp enjoys telling.

Social Media: Facebook / Goodreads

Barbara Monajem stops by b2b…

HOC BM‘The Heart of Constantine’

BOOK BLURB: Vigilante Native American rock star Constantine Dufray has hit rock bottom. His telepathic abilities have spun out of control, and destructive rumors about him run rampant. Some are true—he caused a violent cop’s suicide, and telepathy destroyed his marriage—but he didn’t poison his wife, and he couldn’t have caused riots at his concerts, killing his fans…or could he? Now an unknown enemy is trying to frame him for rape and murder.

Aura reader Marguerite McHugh finally gets a close encounter with the mysterious star, but it’s nothing like she expected. When Constantine finds her after she’s been drugged at one of his shows, she’s pulled into his quest for the truth. As dangers mount and murders pile up, Constantine and Marguerite are forced into an ever more intimate relationship. Only by facing their fears and working together can they unmask the killer before more innocent people die.

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EXCERPT:

Marguerite blinked away the fuzz in her eyes and her mind. She wasn’t in her bed but outdoors, lying near a vast tree. Under her was a blanket, with blades of grass pricking through here and there. A crow cawed high above her.

What time is it? Where am I? Somewhere a car door slammed, followed by urgent voices. She sat up, looking around. Her heart thumped dizzily against her chest. A man stood a few feet away, silhouetted against the pink and gold of dawn. He wasn’t looking at her but toward the voices. Blinking again, she followed his gaze but saw nothing but a vast field and, in the distance, the haphazard tops of a stand of pines. She was on a hill. . . . She returned her eyes to the man. He was tall and wide-shouldered, with a long, dark ponytail hanging down his back.

What’s going on? How did I get here? She didn’t remember a thing.

Then her sixth sense woke up, and she really saw him: a cacophony of colors, a spiked wheel of rage and despair. It hurt. God, it hurt. She clutched her hands to her head, gasping, and the rage withdrew, the spikes of the wheel turned inward, and the man shuddered as if he truly were impaled.

“Sorry,” he said softly, his tone tight and flat.

The other voices neared. Two men, one with untidy blond curls and a darker guy carrying a camera, appeared over the brow of the hill and charged across the lawn. Fully alert now, Marguerite bristled with loathing. There were always a few paparazzi in town, and she recognized these two. They were obsessed with Constantine Dufray, and—oh!

That’s who he was. God, he was beautiful. She had seen him before, of course—pictures aplenty and occasionally in person—but never this close. What presence the man had. It wasn’t just the gorgeous high cheekbones and the copper skin of his half-Navajo heritage or his graceful build. He radiated power—intense, a little frightening, and fascinating at the same time.

“Got you!” cried the blond guy. “What could be better? Murder was bad enough, but now you’re drugging and raping innocent women. You’ve had it, Dufray. Face it, you’re dead.”

“Sure am,” said Constantine Dufray. Marguerite ignored the photographer capering about and stared up at the rock star, wondering if he recognized her. She’d seen him now and then at the Impractical Cat, the restaurant where he hung out, and she’d done her best to read his aura, but he’d become something of a recluse lately. He’d had the most awful bad luck at some of his concerts—even riots where people were killed. Sure, he was one of Bayou Gavotte’s vigilantes, but would he try to murder his own fans? No way.

Go ahead, a voice said dully. Who’d said that? Not the reporter or his sidekick, and Constantine wasn’t looking at her but up at the crow, which had fluttered down to a branch just above his head. The colors that surrounded him roiled and churned, fizzled and spat. His aura stretched and reached out toward her.

Accuse me. Get it over with.

She hadn’t heard a voice in her head for years. It wasn’t one of her favorite experiences. In fact, it ranked right up there with her worst. But this wasn’t someone’s secret wish sent out involuntarily. This was a voice that intended to be heard.

She found her tongue. “What did you say?”

The reporter bent down and shoved his recorder in her face. “Tell us about it, love. All the gory details.”

Marguerite pushed his hand away. “I’m not talking to you.” She’d known a few people who projected their thoughts, particularly when their auras were in turmoil, but nothing as clear and directed as this. It seemed that the rumors about Constantine Dufray’s telepathic abilities were true.

Accuse me, the flat voice said again. That’s what you’re here for, so just do it. A maelstrom of bitterness and despair swirled around and above Constantine like a tight column of flame. The crow cawed loudly and skittered sideways along the branch. Marguerite knitted her brows, trying again to take it all in, and realized at last that she was on top of one of the Indian mounds, the only hills in Bayou Gavotte.

“Can’t let him get away with it, love.” The blond wasn’t an Englishman, so the pseudo-Brit endearment only emphasized his obnoxiousness.

Marguerite frowned up at Constantine. “Get away . . . with what?”

Come on now, girl. Didn’t he prep you better than that?

 “Prep me? I don’t understand.”

Constantine rolled his eyes casually, indifferently, but his aura writhed toward her, flickered and shuddered, its message utterly contradicting his behavior and making her head hurt again. Drugging and raping you, to be followed by ritual murder. His aura withdrew, and the pain went with it. It’s all right, babe, you can play your role. I won’t harm you, I swear.

Constantine had raped her? A brief terror ran through her, but she shook it off and cleared her thoughts. Somebody must have drugged her—but Constantine? She didn’t believe it. She fought away the last of the fog, blinking up at him and his aura. She sensed nothing of the predator in that whirlpool of emotions—only pain and anger, and an overwhelming despair.

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Barbara MonajemAUTHOR INFO: Barbara Monajem wrote her first story in third grade about apple tree gnomes. After dabbling in neighborhood musicals and teen melodrama, she published a middle-grade fantasy when her children were young.
Now her kids are adults, and she’s writing historical and paranormal romance for grownups. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.

Social media links: Website / Facebook / Tweeter

LAAA BM

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