Wednesday, 28 February 2018

#BookReview The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard @FreshFiction @Morrow_PB #FFreview

The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the bestselling tradition of Hidden Figures and The Wives of Los Alamos, comes a riveting novel of the everyday women who worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II

“What you see here, what you hear here, what you do here, let it stay here.”

In November 1944, eighteen-year-old June Walker boards an unmarked bus, destined for a city that doesn’t officially exist. Oak Ridge, Tennessee has sprung up in a matter of months—a town of trailers and segregated houses, 24-hour cafeterias, and constant security checks. There, June joins hundreds of other young girls operating massive machines whose purpose is never explained. They know they are helping to win the war, but must ask no questions and reveal nothing to outsiders.

The girls spend their evenings socializing and flirting with soldiers, scientists, and workmen at dances and movies, bowling alleys and canteens. June longs to know more about their top-secret assignment and begins an affair with Sam Cantor, the young Jewish physicist from New York who oversees the lab where she works and understands the end goal only too well, while her beautiful roommate Cici is on her own mission: to find a wealthy husband and escape her sharecropper roots. Across town, African-American construction worker Joe Brewer knows nothing of the government’s plans, only that his new job pays enough to make it worth leaving his family behind, at least for now. But a breach in security will intertwine his fate with June’s search for answers.

When the bombing of Hiroshima brings the truth about Oak Ridge into devastating focus, June must confront her ideals about loyalty, patriotism, and war itself.


**********

For eighteen-year-old June Walker, the prospect of working at Oak Ridge is a chance to get away from home. She has no idea what she is actually doing at Oak Ridge other than she's helping the war effort. As she starts an affair with a Jewish physicist, Sam Carter, she starts to realize more and more what they are doing there. At the same time, her roommate Cici is trying her hardest to find a rich man and get away from her past life. African- American construction worker Joe Brewer has left his family behind since the job at Oak Ridge pays well, but being away from his family is hard for him. All these people have their own dreams and goals, but life isn't always easy and things can change in a moment.

READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION!

#BlogTour Hiding by Jenny Morten Potts @jmortonpotts @rararesources

A gripping psychological thriller with chilling twists, from a unique new voice.

Keller Baye and Rebecca Brown live on different sides of the Atlantic. Until she falls in love with him, Rebecca knows nothing of Keller. But he’s known about her for a very long time, and now he wants to destroy her.

This is the story of two families. One living under the threat of execution in North Carolina. The other caught up in a dark mystery in the Scottish Highlands. The families’ paths are destined to cross. But why? And can anything save them when that happens?


Purchase from Amazon UK - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hiding-gripping-psychological-thriller-chilling-ebook/dp/B078XK95S1/


Read an excerpt from the book: 


Chapter 6 (Once his father has been executed, Keller takes the trip he has planned for so long: to hunt down Rebecca Brown.)

This was Keller Baye’s first trip in an airplane. Frankly, he’d been expecting something bigger. What was he supposed to do with his legs, they were six inches too long for economy. The stewardesses were attentive though, he’d give them that. He liked to watch them stretch up to the overhead lockers. He liked the cloud of perfume which wafted into his nostrils each time they walked by.

He was pleased with his passport. Got a haircut specially for the photo and treated himself to a close shave at the barber shop. It had been months in the planning, this trip. He bought his flight to London Heathrow on a no-refund basis. If the execution had been stayed, he’d have lost the ticket. But here he was. A window seat too. It was breath-taking when you got up high above the Atlantic and into the clouds. He felt like an astronaut. The view alone was worth a thousand dollars. Nobody else seemed much to notice.

The toddler who’d been yelling at take-off was quiet now. And the airplane personnel were getting busy with something. The gentleman seated next to him was already asleep, jaw hanging. Keller wouldn’t want to look like this guy, not in front of those stewardesses.

But Keller could sleep just about anywhere. He’d nearly nodded off at the press conference after the execution. Of course, that may have been partial concussion. Something which felt like a rubber dumbbell had been brought down on his head as he banged at the glass of the window. He pounded at the window to the execution chamber but the glass must have been inches thick. Nobody on the other side of it reacted.

The guards hauled him back to his seat and threatened to throw him out if he moved again. Keller’s shoulders heaved up and down but he remained in his chair and watched his father die in silence.

He had no idea the press conference would go on for so long. But there had been many victims and of course each of them had a family. And it seemed as the afternoon sun slipped down the wall of the conference room, that these families would never shut up. On and on, all saying the same thing. They were good and mad at the journalists for asking Warden James about the prisoner’s state of mind leading up to the procedure. They were irate when the Warden was asked about any suffering that Othaniel Baye may have felt as he endured those dying minutes, at the mercy of the Midazolam. A reporter from UNC-TV questioned why a doctor with a stethoscope had had to be present when the heart monitor already confirmed death. That question annoyed the relatives too. What difference does any of that make, they wanted to know. It seemed each and every one of those relatives wanted to take the stand.

Venting spleen the PhD redhead wrote down in her A4 pad. Once the execution was over, she recovered quickly and was eager to make notes once more.

Venting just about everything, Keller thought, as the relatives ranted:

‘What you people fail to understand is that Baye’s feelings, Baye’s so-called suffering has nothing to do with it. Nothing. The point is the victims. The point is my father had to watch his own daughter die right in front of him. He had to see that happen. And then face the same thing himself, in the hospital. His ass hanging out, couldn’t even lie down. Days we waited. Five days and five nights. And then he died anyway. Who gives a fuck about stethoscopes and laboured fucking breathing? Who gives a good fuck?’

Warden James tried to create some calm and took the stand himself again. He was asked by a magazine lady what Othaniel Baye had requested for his last meal. Keller leaned forward. Suddenly he knew what the Warden would say. Keller felt almost omniscient, all the power was draining from these weaklings and channelling into him. The press perked up too. Hey, who didn’t love a last supper question.

‘Mr Baye asked for chicken tenders with fries and a side of corncakes. That is all. No, um, no appetiser. No dessert.’

‘Did he ask for something special to drink?’ a journalist wanted to know.

‘Any alcohol?’ another asked.

‘No. He did not ask for anything special. He just had water.’

The wife of the relative who had spoken last stood up. ‘What is wrong with you people?’ She rushed to the stand and almost pushed the Warden aside. ‘Who gives a rat’s behind. Cold dish of cyanide and save us all the trouble of this ugly day. Know what? I thank God this Governor ain’t gonna have any of this twenty five years in jail shit. Waiting, waiting.’ She shook her pretty, long hair. ‘They took ‘em out. In broad daylight. Our family members. Yours and mine.’ She poked her finger at the other victims’ families, as if their response was lacking. ‘Shot ‘em all up. In cold blood. All what’s happened here today is justice. Some of you people just not getting it. Justice! You media people are fucking full of it.’

She was ushered away and the rest came then with the same thing. Brothers, cousins, a grandfather. No end to it, till Keller felt his eyelids getting heavy and excused himself. He had been attracting attention these last years, since working out at the gym, but he’d always had some, with his square jaw and his blond hair.

‘That’s him!’ One of the victims’ families, a boy with a chuck of freckles over his face, stood up and pointed. ‘That’s the son!’

Keller was too tired for this. He turned around slowly. The boy looked barely out of his teens. ‘What? You gonna lynch me too?’ Keller wagged a lazy finger and exaggerated his southern drawl. ‘I think you done had your money’s worth for one day. Y’all take care now.’


About the author


Jenny is a novelist, screenplay writer and playwright. After a series of 'proper jobs', she realised she was living someone else's life and escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England, to write her socks off. 

Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, settled with family. 

She tries not to take herself too seriously.


Social Media Links



Giveaway – Win 3 x e-copies of Hiding by Jenny Morton Potts (Open Internationally)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

#BookReview A Whisper of Bones by Ellen Hart @StMartinsPress @MinotaurBooks

A Whisper of Bones: A Jane Lawless Mystery by Ellen Hart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fans of Jane Lawless new and old will be fascinated by newly minted Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Ellen Hart's latest intricate puzzle in A Whisper of Bones.

Britt Ickles doesn't remember much from her only visit to her mother's childhood home when she was a kid, except for playing with her cousin Timmy and the eruption of a sudden family feud. That's why, when she drops by unannounced after years of silence, she's shocked when her aunts tell her Timmy never existed, that she must be confusing him with someone else. But Britt can't shake the feeling that Timmy did exist...and that something horrible has happened to him. Something her aunts want to cover up.

Britt hires Jane Lawless, hoping the private investigator can figure out what really happened to her cousin. When a fire in the family's garage leads to the discovery of buried bones and one of the aunts dies suddenly and suspiciously, Jane can't help but be pulled into the case. Do the bones belong to Timmy? Was the aunt's death an accident, suicide, or homicide? What dark secret has this family been hiding for decades? It all depends on Jane Lawless to unravel.


**********

I knew that A Whisper of Bones was the latest book in a series. However, until I started to write this review had I no idea that this was the 25th one about Jane Lawless. Then again, I'm used to being late to the party. A Whisper of Bones is a book that seems to have a quite straight-forward case. 

Britt Ickles meets her aunts for the first time in decades and discover that her childhood friend Timmy is apparently a figment of her imagination. At least that's what her aunts try to get her to believe. So, she turns to Jane Lawless to get to the truth. And, Jane starts to dig around and soon she starts to believe that the aunts may have a secret or two.

What a truly enjoyed about this book is how captivating the book was right from the start. Sure, you know right from the start that the aunts are hiding things, but that just adds some more tension to the story as Jane tries to figure out if Britt is right about Timmy. Also, despite being a newbie did I find the book very easy to get into. I enjoyed getting to know more about Jane and those around her. Right now is an old girlfriend living with her. And, it seems that Jane, still have some feelings left for her, which makes it a bit tragic since her ex is battling a series illness.

As for the mystery, what I really liked that it was not as straight-forward as it seems. I also liked how well-written the characters were, from the old aunts, the neighbors that also seem to be hiding something, to the people around Jane. It's a book that you can easily breeze through quickly since it's not that thick, despite that does it not feel too short. It's a perfect balance, not too wordy. I quite enjoyed the book and I'm looking forward to reading the 24 previous books...

I want to thank S:t Martins Press for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!

#BookReview Zero Day by Ezekiel Boone @ezekiel_boone @AtriaBooks

Zero Day by Ezekiel Boone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the thrilling, nerve-wracking finale of Ezekiel Boone’s “hair-raising” (Parade) Hatching series, the United States goes to war against the queen spiders that threaten to overtake the human race forever.

The world is on the brink of apocalypse. Zero Day has come.

The only thing more terrifying than millions of spiders is the realization that those spiders work as one. But among the government, there is dissent: do we try to kill all of the spiders, or do we gamble on Professor Guyer’s theory that we need to kill only the queens?

For President Stephanie Pilgrim, it’s an easy answer. She’s gone as far as she can—more than two dozen American cities hit with tactical nukes, the country torn asunder—and the only answer is to believe in Professor Guyer. Unfortunately, Ben Broussard and the military men who follow him don’t agree, and Pilgrim, Guyer, and the loyal members of the government have to flee, leaving the question: what’s more dangerous, the spiders or ourselves?


**********

Zero Day is the third and final book in The Hatching trilogy and here we finally get to know if mankind will survive the spider invasion or of the word is doomed. This book is less gory than the previous two (yeah that disappointed me since I love being creeped out), but it's one heck of an ending. Fair warning, you really need to read the previous two books before reading this one. In many ways it's just one story split into three books.

As a big horror fan do I love threat against mankind books and spiders are creepy, let's face it. Escpailly ancient spiders that are taking over the world. Here, in the last book must President Stephanie Pilgrim decide what to do next. She has already nuked part of the US, but there are those around her that think that she waited too long and should have used more nuke. And, time is running out, the spiders are soon ready for the next phase of the attack. Could it be that if you kill the queens will the rest of the spiders also perish? Should Pilgrim trust the scientist or the military?

Zero Day is an action-filled book where our heroes face threat not only from the spiders, but from people that are set against them. It's an engrossing and satisfying book with a great ending. I have enjoyed reading this trilogy and I can't wait to see what Ezekiel Boone will write next!


I want to thank Atria for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!

Monday, 26 February 2018

#BlogTour By Love Divided by Elizabeth St. John @ElizStJohn @hfvbt

By Love Divided by Elizabeth St. John

Publication Date: October 12, 2017
Falcon Historical
eBook & Paperback; 381 Pages
Series: The Lydiard Chronicles, Book Two
Genre: Historical Fiction
Royalist Sir Allen Apsley thinks his choice is clear, but when his mother embraces the Puritan cause, and his beloved sister Luce falls in love with John Hutchinson, a Roundhead soldier, his loyalties are tested. Is it family first? Is it country first? As England falls into bloody civil war, Allen must fight for king and country, while Luce embraces Parliament’s radical views and confronts the very core of the family’s beliefs. And when their influential Villiers cousins raise the stakes, Allen and Luce face a devastating challenge. Will war unite or divide them? In the dawn of rebellion, love is the final battleground.

Based on surviving memoirs, court papers and letters of Elizabeth St.John’s family, By Love Divided continues the story of Lucy St.John, The Lady of the Tower. This powerfully emotional novel tells of England’s great divide, and the heart-wrenching choices one family faces.

"I am completely blown away by Elizabeth St. John’s follow up novel, By Love Divided. The depth of her characterization, the elegance of her prose (and dialogue) and the masterful way in which she presents the realities of the English Civil War such that we’re bleeding for both sides is nothing short of brilliant. If you want a compelling, exquisitely written story to immerse you in the past, By Love Divided is a must read! I consider it one of my favourite historical reads and it's earned a place on my keeper shelf! 5 plus stars!" -Cryssa Bazos, Author of The Traitor's Knot

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound


About the Author


Elizabeth St.John was brought up in England and lives in California. To inform her writing, she has tracked down family papers and residences from Nottingham Castle, Lydiard Park, and Castle Fonmon to the Tower of London. Although the family sold a few castles and country homes along the way (it's hard to keep a good castle going these days), Elizabeth's family still occupy them - in the form of portraits, memoirs, and gardens that carry their imprint. And the occasional ghost. But that's a different story...

By Love Divided, Elizabeth's sequel to The Lady of the Tower, follows the fortunes of the St.John family during the English Civil War, and is out now.

For more information, please visit Elizabeth St. John's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule


Monday, February 19 
Interview at Passages to the Past 

Wednesday, February 21 
Interview at Let Them Read Books 

Thursday, February 22 

Friday, February 23 
Feature at A Holland Reads 

Monday, February 26 
Feature at A Bookaholic Swede 

Thursday, March 1 
Feature at Bibliophile Reviews 
Guest Post at Clarissa Reads It All 

Friday, March 2 
Review at 100 Pages a Day 

Thursday, March 8 
Review at Donna's Book Blog

Giveaway


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a paperback copy of By Love Divided to one lucky winner! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 8th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US & UK residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. By Love Divided #2

Sunday, 25 February 2018

#BookReview The Beach at Painter's Cove by Shelley Noble @ShelleyNoble3 @FreshFiction #FFreview @Morrow_PB

The Beach at Painter's Cove by Shelley Noble
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Whitaker family’s Connecticut mansion, Muses by the Sea, has always been a haven for artists, a hotbed of creativity, extravagances, and the occasional scandal. Art patrons for generations, the Whitakers supported strangers but drained the life out of each other. Now, after being estranged for years, four generations of Whitaker women find themselves once again at The Muses.

Leo, the Whitaker matriarch, lives in the rambling mansion crammed with artwork and junk. She plans to stay there until she joins her husband Wes on the knoll overlooking the cove and meadow where they first met. Her sister-in-law Fae, the town eccentric, is desperate to keep a secret she has been hiding for years.

Jillian, is a jet setting actress, down on her luck, and has run out of men to support her. She thinks selling The Muses will make life easier for her mother, Leo, and Fae by moving them into assisted living. The sale will also bring her the funds to get herself back on top.

Issy, Jillian’s daughter, has a successful life as a museum exhibit designer that takes her around the world. But the Muses and her grandmother are the only family she’s known and when her sister leaves her own children with Leo, Issy knows she has to step in to help.

Steph, is only twelve-years-old and desperately needs someone to fire her imagination and bring her out of her shell. What she begins to discover at the Muses could change the course of her future.

As Issy martials the family together to restore the mansion and catalogue the massive art collection, a surprising thing happens. Despite storms and moonlight dancing, diva attacks and cat fights, trips to the beach and flights of fancy, these four generations of erratic, dramatic women may just find a way to save the Muses and reunite their family.


**********

THE BEACH AT PAINTER'S COVE by Shelley Noble is a tale about the Whitaker family, of a summer when truths are revealed and feuds are addressed. It all starts with Issy's sister, Vivianne, leaving her children at the Muses by the Sea, the Whitaker family's Connecticut mansion and letting Issy and Vivianne's grandmother, Leo, take care of them. Just as Jillian left Vivianne and Issy with Leo when they were little. But, then Leo is taken ill and is taken to the hospital and Vivianne's children frantically contact their aunt that they hardly know to come because there is no one else to take care of them. And, Issy has to leave work to go home, the first time in a long while and not only deal with her three nieces, but with some troubling news about the Muse.

READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION!

#BookReview Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker (@Wendy_Walker) @FreshFiction @StMartinsPress

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn't add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister's return might just be the beginning of the crime.

**********

As a big thriller fan, the blurb for EMMA IN THE NIGHT by Wendy Walker intrigued me. Two sisters, Cass and Emma, both go missing and are gone for three years until Cass, the younger sister comes back, and all she says to her family and the FBI is find Emma!

READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION!

#BookReview Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan @FreshFiction #FFreview @torbooks

Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The conclusion to the thrilling memoirs of Lady Isabella Trent and her legacy of dragon evolutionary research and anthropological adventures.

After nearly five decades (and, indeed, the same number of volumes), one might think they were well-acquainted with the Lady Isabella Trent--dragon naturalist, scandalous explorer, and perhaps as infamous for her company and feats of daring as she is famous for her discoveries and additions to the scientific field.

And yet--after her initial adventure in the mountains of Vystrana, and her exploits in the depths of war-torn Eriga, to the high seas aboard The Basilisk, and then to the inhospitable deserts of Akhia--the Lady Trent has captivated hearts along with fierce minds. This concluding volume will finally reveal the truths behind her most notorious adventure--scaling the tallest peak in the world, buried behind the territory of Scirland's enemies--and what she discovered there, within the Sanctuary of Wings.


**********

First, I want to say that I haven't read any of the previous books in The Memoirs of Lady Trent series. However, it has been one that I have been curious about for some time. As a fantasy fan can't I help but find the books in this series very appealing. The covers for the books are fabulous and I found the idea of an alternative world set in the early 20th century with dragons intriguing. Now, since the book didn't have many maps can't I say for sure how similar the world in this series is to ours, and all the countries have different names. But, it does feel like reading an alternative Victorian-era book.

READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION!

Saturday, 24 February 2018

#BlogTour The Fourth Gunman by John Lansing @jelansing @partnersincr1me

The Fourth Gunman by John Lansing
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

VThe Fourth Gunman by John Lansing Tour Banner

The Fourth Gunman

by John Lansing

on Tour February 19 - March 24, 2018


Synopsis:

The Fourth Gunman by John Lansing

From the best selling author of The Devil’s Necktie, and Blond Cargo comes the latest title in the Jack Bertolino series.


Retired inspector Jack Bertolino straddles two perilous worlds. Known for his impeccable police work, Jack has also done a priceless favor for an infamous Mafia Don: he saved the gangster’s kidnapped daughter from being sold into the sex trade, and brought her safely home.

In Jack’s line of work, he can’t help but have friends—and enemies—on both sides of the law.

So when FBI agent Luke Hunter goes missing after a deep undercover assignment with that same mob boss, the FBI calls Jack in, looking for a favor. With his connections and skills, Jack’s the only man for the job: find Luke Hunter, dead or alive.

The Mobster operates an illegal gambling yacht in international waters off of Southern California, and when Luke went missing, so did half a million dollars of the mob's money. As Jack dives into the case, he’ll learn the true mystery isn’t the agent’s disappearance, but something far more ominous…

The Fourth Gunman is a sizzling action-packed thriller that will keep you turning pages until the explosive finale.

Book Details:

Genre: Crime/Thriller
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Number of Pages: 375 (estimated)
ISBN: 1501189530 (ISBN13: 9781501189531)
Series: Jack Bertolino, 4 | Each is a Stand Alone Novel
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & Goodreads

Book Review:


As a new reader to this series was I curious to see how reading this book without having read the previous three books. I'm glad to say that I found both the plot interesting and the characters well-developed. 

Retired inspector Jack Bertolino as approved by FBI to find Luke Hunter, a missing agent, who has gone missing during an undercover mission. One of the FBI agents that wants him to find the missing man is Luke's sister. The problem is that not only is Luke missing, but so is half a million dollar that belongs to the mob. So, has the skipped town with the money, or has someone gotten rid of him because of the money?

There is not a big mystery to what happened to Luke, the story starts off with explaining that and then it's up to Jack to figure it out. I liked the start of the book, it has that kind of intense start that I love in books when you get thrown into the story right from the very start. I usually like more mysterious kind of books, when the identity of the villain(s) are unknown, but I did enjoy knowing from the start who not to trust as Jack had to figure it out for himself. And, just because you know certain fact doesn't it mean that you know all of it.

Jack Bertolino is the kind of characters that I liked right from the start and he's definitely the kind of character that makes me curious to read the other books to get to know him better. His "relationship" with Angelica, for instance, is turbulent and unwise since she is the daughter of a Mafia Don. However, that fact also makes the book more interesting to read.

I will definitely be on the lookout for the other books in the series!

Read an excerpt:

One

Luke Hunter sat hunched over a tight built-in desk in the cabin of a weathered thirty-six-foot catamaran docked in Marina del Rey. His fingers flew over the keyboard of a MacBook Pro. There had been one amber sconce illuminating the cabin before he broke in to the vessel, but now the laptop computer was throwing more light than he was comfortable with. At two a.m., all was quiet on the dock, but Luke was running late and still had another stop to make before he could call it a night.
Luke’s hair was short, brown, and unruly, his Italian eyes smoky, his beard dark and in need of a shave. His angular face was set with determination as he slipped a flash drive into the computer, tapped a few keys, and hit Copy, hoping to make short work of his theft.
The cabin was teak, and brass, and well worn. Rolled navigational charts littered the cramped workspace but didn’t intrude on the comfortable living quarters and the bunk that occupied the bow of the catamaran.
Luke spun in the chair, unraveled specific charts on the bed, snapped photos with his iPhone, and stowed the maps back where he’d found them. He had a theory as to why so many of the charts were focused on the waters in and around the Farallon Islands, off the coast of San Francisco, and hoped the computer files would corroborate his suspicions.
He took pictures of the scuba tanks, masks, flippers, speargun, and weight belts that were stowed aft. The galley was diminutive but efficient. A few potted succulents and fresh herbs on a shelf above the sink lent a feminine touch to the nautical surroundings. Nothing of interest there.
Luke heard the screech of the rusted security gate that led from the parking lot to the yachts and immediately shut down the computer, pocketed the flash drive, and closed the lid, tamping out the light.
He hoped it was just another liveaboard moored at the same dock, returning home after a night on the town. But he spun in place, laced his hands behind his head, and stretched out his legs, facing the teak steps that led from the stern into the cabin, ready to talk his way out of a dicey spot if necessary. It would be uncomfortable but doable. He set his face into a gotcha grin, ready to go on the offensive. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
The boat rocked slightly, the slippered footfalls nearly silent as a woman made her descent into the body of the vessel. Silk drawstring pants hugged her willowy frame as she stepped off the wooden stairway and seemed to suck all the air out of the cabin.
Roxy Donnelly had straight red hair that kissed her collarbone and parted in the middle, and a light feathering of freckles on her cheeks and chest. Her hazel eyes bore in to Luke’s, assessing the situation. She came to a conclusion and—without speaking—told him everything a man wanted to hear from a woman.
Roxy was backlit, her figure silhouetted in a diaphanous white blouse. Luke could see she was braless, and his heart quickened. Her nipples rippled the fabric, and sparks spread to Luke’s chest and down to his groin. As he became aroused, he found himself at a loss for words. No mafioso cracking wise, only deep breathing trying to hide his visceral reaction to the danger of her unexpected arrival. The cabin seemed to become tighter still, if that was possible, until Roxy broke the silence.
“I knew you were smarter than you looked.” If she was aware that Luke had raided her computer, she gave no indication or surprise at his presence. “You saw the schedule, Trent’s on call.”
She stepped closer and Luke found himself on his feet. “I made the schedule,” he said.
Roxy stepped so close their noses touched. He could feel her breath. The light scent of perfume was intoxicating. She reached down and touched his erection, stoking the fire. “I know what you drink, but I don’t know how you like it.”
“Any way you serve it,” Luke said, his voice deep, throaty, and bedroom. He knew he should hit the road but stood transfixed.
Roxy took his hand, squeezed it, and led him to the queen-size bunk in the rear of the cabin. “Get comfortable.”
She stepped into the galley, poured two glasses of Scotch, neat, kicked off her slipper shoes, and glided barefoot to the bed, handing Luke his drink. They clinked and each took a deep sip, never breaking eye contact.
Roxy set her glass down, slowly unbuttoned her blouse, and shrugged out of it, revealing sheer perfection. A dancer’s body. Compact upright breasts, a narrow sculpted waist, and a sapphire-pierced belly button. She tossed the blouse onto the chair Luke had been sitting in, leaned over him, and unbuckled his belt more roughly than he would have expected.
Luke might have received a reality check, but by the time his cell phone buzzed in his pants pocket, they were hanging over the chair.
“You’re not upset?” he said, a statement of fact.
“You should’ve called first, but it was inevitable. It was perfect the first time. We work too hard for no pleasure. Roll over, I’m good with my hands.”
No argument from Luke, who pulled off his gray crewneck and tossed it on the chair. He eased onto his stomach carefully because he was sporting a blazing hard-on.
Roxy was fully engaged. She lit a candle, then raked his back with her fingernails, the brief contact from her nipples as she leaned over him burning a trail from his neck down to his waist. As she straddled Luke, he felt her heat and let out a husky groan.
Roxy started on his lower back and slowly worked her way up his spine, compressing with thumbs and forefingers every third vertebrae until she reached his neck.
“You are good,” he murmured.
By the time Luke realized cold steel was pressed against the back of his head and not her thumbs, he was dead.
The explosion of the hammer striking the .22 round in her derringer created a blinding electric flash behind Luke’s eyes. The bullet rattled around his skull, tearing up brain matter, until his world turned pitch-black.
Roxy jumped off the bed, grabbed a plastic garbage bag out of the galley, pulled it over Luke’s head, and cinched it around his neck to catch any blood evidence. She picked up her cell and hit Speed Dial.
“Trent. We’ve got a situation,” and Roxy gave him the rapid-fire shorthand version while she rifled through Luke’s pants and billfold, her voice devoid of emotion. Her body vibrated uncontrollably as adrenaline coursed through her nervous system. She dropped Luke’s keys and willed her hands to stop shaking as she placed his cell phone and the flash drive next to her laptop. “I’ll clean things up on the home front, you keep your ears open and get a feel for the play at your end. Stay on shift—Shut the fuck up and let me talk!” And then in a tight whisper, “I killed a man, okay? I’ve had better nights. Okay, okay, but only text if you sense movement in our direction.” Roxy was unraveling. “You won’t hear from me again until, until, shit, Trent, until I call you.”
Roxy snapped out the light and walked over to the door and tried to still her breathing as she sucked in the thick sea air and listened for any movement on the dock. Water lapping against hulls and nylon lines clanking on aluminum masts were the only early-morning sounds. If not for the dead body lying on her bunk, it would almost be peaceful.
Roxy got down on her hands and knees and scrabbled around until she came up with the keys she’d dropped. She sat on the edge of the bed and made a mental list of what she had to accomplish. Sucked in a breath, nodded, and went into action.
Roxy pulled the duvet cover over Luke’s body and changed into jeans and black T-shirt and black running shoes. She grabbed a pair of thin cotton gloves and shrugged into Trent’s oversize black hoodie.
She rifled through the junk drawer and pulled out a roll of blue painter’s tape, took a credit card and the cash out of Luke’s wallet and added it to her own, and ran out of the catamaran, locking the door behind her.
*****
Roxy pulled the hood over her red hair and slipped on the gloves as she ran up the dock and out through the chain-link security gate.
There was a smattering of cars in the lot, and Roxy started hitting the button on the remote-entry key for Luke’s car but got no response. She knew Luke drove a black Camaro but was at a loss. She spun in place and felt like she was going to explode. She turned off the emotion, knowing that if she didn’t fly right, she was as good as dead.
She jogged over to the next lot that was half full and tried the key again. Nothing. Roxy fought to suck down the bile and panic that threatened to overwhelm her. She ran up and down three rows of cars. Still nothing. She pounded toward the apartment complex across the street.
Roxy heard the ding before she found the car.
Luke had parked in the open lot that serviced the channel on the other side of the road. Mercury-vapor security lamps provided ambient light. Roxy checked the license plate and went to work.
She pulled out the tape and ripped off a small strip, turning a 1 into a 7. She tore off two smaller strips and changed a second 1 to a 4. She repeated the task on the front plate and dove, flattening herself on the rocky macadam surface, as a car drove up the street.
A black-and-white rolled onto the lot, its tires crackling over the uneven surface. The cop car did a silent drive past her aisle, slowed, then moved up to the far end of the lot, turned left, and back out onto the street.
Time seemed to stand still, but the pounding of Roxy’s heart reminded her that the clock was ticking and daylight would be her enemy. She grabbed a handful of dirt from the ground and wiped it onto the license plate with one eye peeled for the cop car. She did the same with the rear plate, obscuring some of her handiwork. After the cop car made his final pass down the street and disappeared onto the main drag, Roxy jumped behind the wheel of the Camaro, adjusted the seat and mirror, put on a pair of dark glasses, and rumbled out of the parking lot.
*****
It took sixteen minutes to get from the marina to long-term parking at LAX. The black Camaro had black-tinted windows, and when Roxy pulled into the lot, hit the button, grabbed a ticket, and waited for the electronic arm to rise, she had her hood pulled tight, her dark sunglasses in place, and her head tilted down. If there had been a security camera at play, all it would’ve recorded was the top of a dark hoodie.
The lot was huge. Roxy motored to the far end and parked between two large SUVs that all but swallowed Luke’s low-slung muscle car. She checked the glove compartment to see if there was anything worth taking, or revealing as to Luke’s true purpose, snooping in the wrong place at the wrong time. She found the car’s registration and proof of insurance and pocketed the documents in the hope that it might slow the inquiry sure to follow. She hit the button that opened the trunk, readjusted the driver’s seat, locked the doors, and exited the vehicle.
A salmon glow pulsed above the horizon, a warm-up for the main event. The adrenaline had worn off, and Roxy was so tired she could have slept standing up. What she saw when she looked in the trunk got her heart pounding and her head spinning again. A large leather satchel on wheels, filled with cash. More cash than Roxy had ever seen in her twenty-seven years on God’s planet. It was Mafia money. The weekend’s take from the illegal gambling yacht where she bartended. She zippered the bag and slammed the trunk shut. She didn’t need any more heat than she’d already generated.
Roxy took a few steps away, spun back, opened the trunk, grabbed the satchel, and started wheeling it down the long row of cars toward the shuttle that arrived every fifteen minutes. She’d take the short ride to Tom Bradley International Terminal, where she planned on using Luke’s credit card at a McDonald’s to create a paper trail.
Inherent problems were created by taking the Mafia’s money, but leaving it would have been a major fuckup. A man on the run would never leave without the cash.
*****
Two black stretch limos roared into the parking lot at Long Beach Shoreline Marina, adjacent to the Bella Fortuna. Doors flew open, and eight men exited the vehicles, ran across the lot, and pounded up the yacht’s gangplank, disappearing into the body of the luxury craft.
A somber Tony-the-Man stood at the railing on the main deck and looked down as Vincent Cardona stepped out of the lead car and walked slowly up the gangplank. The two men locked eyes for what seemed to Tony like an eternity before Cardona boarded the ship.
Heads would roll, and Tony instinctively rubbed his neck— his was at the top of the list.
*****
The yellow cab let Roxy off at the Admiralty Club in Marina del Rey. She paid the driver with cash and waited until he was gone before walking next door to the Killer Shrimp Diner, where she was a regular and knew the kitchen was open twenty-four/seven. She peeled off her sunglasses, pulled the hood back, and shook out her startling red hair.
Roxy forced herself to eat scrambled eggs, bacon, and buttered toast, generating an alibi with her own credit card receipt. She paid up and rolled the satchel, laden with cash, down the sidewalk and the half-mile trek to her catamaran as the sun breached the Santa Monica Mountains behind her.

Two

Twenty-four hours had passed since the death of Luke Hunter, and the weather had turned nasty. The sea was whitecapped, the crescent moon blanketed by a thick marine layer. A perfect night for what Roxy and Trent had to accomplish.
A perfect night to dump a body.
Trent was piloting the catamaran, heading south toward the San Pedro Channel and powered by the auxiliary engine. He knew the depth of the basin was good for at least 2,250 feet. He’d studied the charts, set the GPS, and they were just a few minutes from their destination.
Trent looked right at home, almost regal, standing behind the wheel of the craft that bucked, rolled, and cut through the waves, never veering off course. He was a Saudi national and a U.S. citizen, raised in the States from the age of eight, so he had no discernible accent. He was twenty-eight years old, with a boyish open face, a buffed physique, a swarthy complexion, buzz-cut brown hair, and gray eyes that could set Roxy’s heart thrumming. A finely inked tiger ran the length of one muscled forearm, the tattooed claws drawing red blood.
Roxy stepped out of the cabin and carefully made her way behind him, wrapped her arms around his six-pack, and leaned her cheek against his back, trying to still the beating of her heart.
Trent gave her hand a firm squeeze before grabbing the wheel with both hands. “You’re a brave woman, Roxy,” he shouted over his shoulder, fighting the howling wind. “A warrior.”
The moment he announced they were approaching their destination, the GPS system gave off a shrill cry. The night was black; there were no other boats in the area, no container ships navigating the channel. It was time to get to work. He shut off the engine, locked the wheel, and lowered himself into the cabin, followed by Roxy.
Luke, head still covered with the plastic garbage bag, was dressed in nothing but his briefs. He’d been rolled onto the cabin floor; his body lay on top of the duvet cover.
Trent grabbed two fifty-pound diving belts from their scuba gear and carried them up to the main deck. Roxy handed a twenty-five-pounder through the hatch. Trent ran back down, wrapped Luke’s body tightly in the blanket, and, with Roxy’s help, dragged his deadweight up the stairs and onto the aft deck behind the wheelhouse.
Trent pulled back the duvet and fastened one belt, cinched it tight around Luke’s waist, and then made short work of the second. He grabbed the twenty-five-pound belt, wrapped it twice around Luke’s neck, and secured it. Postmortem lividity had turned Luke’s back, buttocks, and legs a blackish-purple where the blood had settled.
Trent pulled the duvet taut, rolling Luke’s body over, and ripped a cut from top to bottom on the garbage bag so it would disengage after splashdown and be dragged out to sea. He worried it might fill with air as the corpse decomposed, and drag the body to the surface.
Roxy steeled herself as she looked down at Luke. His face was bone-white, his eyes devoid of color, just a thick opaque film. If there was one life lesson she had learned from her father, it was to meet trouble head-on. Never roll over, never look back, and never run. She swallowed her rising bile and choked, “Do it.”
Trent grabbed both ends of the blanket and muscled Luke’s body with 125 pounds of lead weights off the stern of the catamaran, tossing the duvet into the chop behind him.
Roxy and Trent stood shoulder to shoulder as they watched Luke float for a second and then slip below the water’s surface; they were confident he was permanently buried at sea and they could move forward with their plan.

Three

Day One
Retired Inspector Jack Bertolino was sitting in the nosebleed seats at Klein Field at Sunken Diamond, Stanford University’s baseball stadium, in Northern California. The sun was blinding, the sky ultra-blue, the wisp of cirrus clouds as white as cotton. The old-growth pepper trees surrounding the field swayed in the light breeze carrying the scent of eucalyptus and fresh-mowed grass, taking some of the heat off the early-September afternoon.
Jack had his eyes closed behind his Ray-Bans, taking in the sounds of the college baseball game, now in the eighth inning, being played in the stadium below. His hair was dark brown verging on black, with strands of silver feathering the temples, and worn long enough to threaten his collar. His angular face was weathered from years doing undercover narcotics work on the streets of NYC, and his tan only served to accentuate the scars from hard-fought battles. A bump on his otherwise straight Roman nose, a gift from a crack dealer, buffered some of Jack’s innate intensity. At six-two and big-boned, Jack had a tight fit in the stadium seating, but the sound of the hard ball slamming into leather, the crack of the bat, the umpire’s barked calls, and the emotion of the crowd made it a perfect day. Took him back to his youth playing the game on Staten Island, where he had raised his son, Chris.
There was a chance Chris was going to pitch for the first time since the attempt on his life that had shattered his throwing arm nine months earlier. Jack wouldn’t have missed seeing his son in action again for the world. It hadn’t been an easy recovery for the young man, physically or mentally, and Jack tried to keep his own emotions in check. He didn’t want his heavy feelings to pull Chris down.
Jack was jolted out of his reverie as a trim man wearing a light-weight gray suit and dark aviator sunglasses, with zero body fat and white brush-cut hair, banged against his knees as he moved down the aisle, finally dropping into the seat directly to Jack’s right.
An attractive, serious woman wearing an equally professional gray pantsuit, with a jacket cut large enough to accommodate her shoulder rig and 9mm, made her way up his aisle. There was something about a woman and a gun that was a turn-on for Jack. Or maybe it was her shoulder-length auburn hair that shone as bright as her mirrored sunglasses. She head-tossed her hair off her face as she took the seat to Jack’s left, feigning interest in the game.
Jack wasn’t surprised by the untimely visit; he had made the feds on his flight from LAX and been waiting for them to play their hand.
“To what do I deserve the honor?” he said, his eyes lasered on the game as the Ohio State Buckeyes headed for the bench and the Stanford Cardinals ran onto the field. Chris had been in the bullpen warming up for the past twenty minutes but remained sidelined; the game was tied three to three at the top of the ninth, and it seemed unlikely he’d be called to play.
“I couldn’t do it,” the female FBI agent said, her eyes never leaving the field. Jack didn’t respond, so she continued, “Come to the game if it were my kid. Too much pressure.” Her voice carried an easy strength, and she wasn’t going to be deterred by his silence. “Especially with all your boy has been through,” letting Jack know he had no secrets from the FBI.
Ohio pounded a ball toward the left-field fence. The batter shot by first and was held up on second by the third-base coach.
It never surprised Jack how much the government knew about civilians’ lives, but his son was sacrosanct. And he knew if he spoke right away, he might not be able to control his growing anger at the personal violation.
The male agent, picking up on Jack’s energy, took off his glasses and proffered his hand. “Special Agent Ted Flannery.” He looked to be pushing fifty but had the body and vigor of a thirty-year-old. “Sorry for the intrusion, Jack, but we’ve come to ask for your help.” Flannery’s hand hung in midair until it became clear Jack wasn’t going to respond. Undaunted, the agent went on, “You’ve had a good relationship with the FBI throughout your career, Jack, and beyond. It’s been duly noted and appreciated, and because of your recent history, you’re in a unique position to be of service.”
“What do you need?” Jack asked, giving away nothing.
“Vincent Cardona,” the female agent said, answering his question. “You visited his home in Beverly Hills on the seventh of May. You were on Cardona’s payroll, hired to find his daughter, Angelica Marie, who’d been kidnapped. An altercation occurred. You slammed Cardona up against the wall, Peter Maniacci drew down on you, and Cardona’s cousin Frankie, with two other gunmen on his heels, ran out of the kitchen, ready to shoot you dead if ordered.”
“You wired the house?” Jack asked.
“Cardona’s too smart for that. He does a sweep once a week. No . . .” She paused for effect. “The fourth gunman was an FBI agent.”
The level of intensity in her tone wasn’t lost on Jack. She had referred to her agent in the past tense, but there was something more. Something unspoken, Jack thought.
Ohio thundered a ball over the fence for a two-run homer. Jack’s body tensed as the coach walked onto the field, huddled with the pitcher and catcher, and signaled toward the sidelines.
Chris Bertolino, number 11, ran out onto the mound and tossed a few back and forth with the catcher as the field was cleared and the game resumed. At six-two, Chris was as tall as Jack, but lean and rangy with sandy brown hair, a gift from his mother’s side of the family.
Jack raised his hand to his lips, and the feds let him concentrate on the game. They knew Bertolino wasn’t a man who could be pressured, and understood the personal significance of this moment.
Chris sucked in a deep breath, nodded to the catcher, and unloaded. His first pitch flew high on the outside. Ball one.
His second pitch went wide. Ball two.
The third pitch was hit. A sizzling line drive caught by the shortstop. First out.
The catcher walked out to the mound, whispered a few words to Chris, and resumed his position behind home plate.
Chris nodded, his game face on. If nerves were at play, he showed nothing to his opponent. He wound up and fired a fast-ball. Strike one. He denied the first two signals from the catcher and threw a second blistering pitch. Strike two. The crowd in the stands started to get loud. Chris tossed a slider, wide. The batter reached, fanned for the ball, and came up empty. Strike three.
The stadium erupted as the second batter stepped into the dugout and tossed his helmet in disgust.
The crowd started chanting and Jack’s stomach tightened. The lanky Buckeye leadoff batter made a big show of whipping his bat to loosen up before flashing a dead eye toward Chris, hocking a loogie onto the red clay, and stepping up to the plate.
Chris smoked a fastball.
The batter swung and made contact. The ball took a short hop and was plucked up by the second baseman, who threw Ohio out at first.
The crowd leaped to its feet as Chris led the team off the field, having stopped the flow of blood.
Jack let out a long, even breath, trying to slow his beating heart.
Chris never made it to bat. The first three Stanford starters were struck out in succession.
Stanford lost the game five to three, but it was a personal triumph for Chris, and Jack wished he were alone to savor the moment.
“I’ve got to get down to my boy,” he said to the female agent, who seemed to be in charge.
“Our agent disappeared three weeks ago,” she said, clearly un-willing to relinquish the moment. “He was deep undercover, and we believe he was on to something major. He never checked in, never filed a final report.”
“You should call in the cops.”
“We won’t jeopardize the case we’ve built against Vincent Cardona.”
“I’ve been down that rabbit hole,” Jack said, ending their impromptu meeting. “Don’t want anything to do with the man.” He stepped past the woman.
“Jack,” she said. The undercurrent in her voice, a sadness, struck a chord and turned him in place. She reached out with her card and looked up to lock eyes with him. “Liz Hunter. Think about it, Jack, and call me. Any time.” And then, “We could use your help.” Agent Hunter wore light makeup on her clear tanned skin. She couldn’t have been over thirty, but her wide forehead was etched with fine worry lines. The hazards of the job, Jack decided. Her cheekbones were high and strong, her figure athletic, her slender, elegant neck tilted slightly to make her point. Jack found himself wondering what her eyes looked like.
“Why should I get involved?”
“The missing agent is my brother.”
Jack nodded, took the card, turned, and made his way down the steep concrete steps toward the Cardinals locker room.
***
Excerpt from The Fourth Gunman by John Lansing. Copyright © 2017 by John Lansing. Reproduced with permission from John Lansing. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

John Lansing
Best-selling author John Lansing started his career as an actor in New York City. He spent a year at the Royale Theatre performing the lead in the Broadway production of “Grease” before putting together a rock ‘n’ roll band and playing the iconic club CBGB.

Lansing closed up his Tribeca loft and headed for the West Coast where he landed a co-starring role in George Lucas’ “More American Graffiti,” and guest-starred on numerous television shows.

During his fifteen-year writing career, Lansing wrote and produced “Walker Texas Ranger,” co-wrote two CBS Movies of the Week, and co-executive produced the ABC series “Scoundrels.”

John’s first book was Good Cop Bad Money, a true crime tome he co-wrote with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano.

The Devil’s Necktie, his first Jack Bertolino novel, became a best seller on Barnes & Noble and hit #1 in Amazon’s Kindle store in the Crime Fiction genre.

Jack Bertolino returns in John’s fourth novel, "The Fourth Gunman."
A native of Long Island, John now resides in Los Angeles.

Catch Up With John On www.johnlansing.net, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!


Tour Participants:

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

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for John Lansing. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com gift Card. The giveaway begins on February 19 and ends on March 25, 2018.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

#BlogTour Lord Ravenscar’s Inconvenient Betrothal by Lara Temple @laratemple1 @rararesources


“Women either ran from Lord Ravenscar or ran to him.”

A Wild Lords and Innocent Ladies story

Alan Rothwell, Marquess of Ravenscar, is furious when unconventional heiress Lily Wallace refuses him purchase of her property. He can’t even win her over with his infamous charm. But when fever seizes him and they’re trapped together, horrified, Alan realizes Lily’s attentions will compromise them both! His solution: take Lily as his betrothed before desire consumes them completely…

Purchase Link: myBook.to/Ravenscar


Author Spotlight


‘Where do you get your inspiration?’ Is always a tough question for me: it never follows the same path and it can truly come out of nowhere (or everywhere). One of my books was inspired by watching a rather elderly pug waddle down the street, pausing to plump itself down every few yards with all the gravitas of a dog who has decided the world would have to move before he did. That moment the image came into my mind of a young woman charged with exercising a portly pug trying to beg, bribe, berate him into action (he became Marmaduke in my third book – The Duke’s Unexpected Bride). 

Another was inspired by a scene that came to me, literally, at 4am (some of my best inspiration times, which is hard on my sleep patterns). I woke up with an image of a man entering a library where a young woman brandishing a mace is standing amidst a pile of scattered books (this became the opening scene in my current Lord Ravenscar’s Inconvenient Betrothal). 

These flashes of images and scenes often start me on a path that I have to follow. I am, quite simply, hooked and I put all my creative juices to work so I can find out ‘what happened next.’ In this sense I am really inspired by curiosity about my own characters. I am a complete pantser (vs. plotter). I love not knowing what my characters are going to do next – some of my best scenes (I think) are those that were a complete surprise to me and I actually go back to them and wonder a little where they came from. It’s like I sometimes look at my kids and am a little dumbfounded at how amazing they are (when they aren’t driving me up a wall, of course) and I wonder – could they possibly have come from me? 

But though I’m guided by these moments of inspiration, now that I write professionally there are always several points in my writing when I stop and take stock – when the story and characters are strong enough already to stand up to criticism and then I sit down and write an outline and begin to see what is working and what isn’t and then I go back to some more (now informed) pantsing. This is often the hardest part of my writing – it is stepping outside the fun and the flow and taking a deep and responsible look at what I am trying to say. This is also the stage when I sit down and start doing the research that the story requires. I studied history and specialized in 19th century history and read history books all the time so I draw on my general knowledge but there is always more I need to uncover – what types of looms, names of racing horses, diplomatic intrigues and causes of political unrest, current gothic novels, what paintings were exhibited during the Summer Exhibition that year, and a million other esoteric facts. This is a dangerous phase – I disappear down so many fascinating rabbit holes, it’s a miracle I find my way back to doing the actual writing!

There is one last thing I’d like to say about inspiration: if you really want to write, don’t wait for inspiration! For years I thought I would have to wait for a grand idea to become a decent author and as a result I did nothing with my writing. It was only when I had a gun to my head that I actually competed a book. Prodded by my mother I found myself committed to submit a compete manuscript for the SYTYCW writing contest. There was no time to wait for inspiration – I just gritted my teeth and wrote, wrote, wrote. I think inspiration is not a reliable driver for writing, but a wagon that tags along once you are going at full speed. If you have something interesting to say, it will (eventually) come out in your writing.


Author Bio


Lara Temple writes strong, sexy regency romances about complex individuals who give no quarter but do so with plenty of passion. Her fifth book with Harlequin Mills & Boon, 'Lord Ravenscar’s Inconvenient Betrothal,' will be published in March 2018, and is the second in her Wild Lords series. Her four previous books are: Lord Hunter's Cinderella Heiress, The Duke’s Unexpected Bride, The Reluctant Viscount, and Lord Crayle’s Secret World.

When she was fifteen Lara found a very grubby copy of Georgette Heyer’s Faro’s Daughter in an equally grubby book store. Several blissful hours later she emerged, blinking, into the light of day completely in love with Regency Romance but it took three decades of various fascinating but completely unrelated careers in finance and high tech before she returned to her first love.

Lara lives with her husband and two children who are very good about her taking over the kitchen table for her writing (so she can look out over the garden and dream). She loves to travel (especially to places steeped in history) and read as many books as possible. She recently went looking for that crowded little bookstore but couldn’t quite remember around what corner it was…hopefully it is still there and another girl is in the corner by the window, reading and dreaming…

Social Media Links


Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/2mWin9R

Giveaway – Win 3 x e-copies of Lord Ravenscar’s Inconvenient Betrothal (Open Internationally)


Thursday, 22 February 2018

#BookReview Don't Look For Me by Mason Cross @MasonCrossBooks @FreshFiction #FFreview @Pegasus_Books

Don't Look For Me by Mason Cross
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Six years ago, the woman Carter Blake loved disappeared and told him not to ever look for her. For six long years, he kept that promise. She was a woman on the run — a woman with a secret many would kill for. It was better that she stay hidden.

But now someone else is looking for her. Trenton Gage is a hitman with a talent for finding people — dead or alive. And his next job is to track down the woman Carter Blake once loved, a woman on the run. With both men hunting the same person, the question is: Who will find her first?

A riveting new thriller from Mason Cross, ideal for readers of David Baldacci, Linwood Barclay, and Mark Billingham.


**********

Carter Blake gets an email from a concerned neighbor of a couple that has gone missing and the cops are not doing a thing to find them since they don't suspect a crime has been committed. In their opinion have they left of their own free will. All that is left is a notebook with an email address to write to in case of emergency. In the email is a photo of the couple that has gone missing and Blake sees that it's Carol, the woman he loved and lost six years ago. The woman that left a note telling him "don't look for me." Something has scared away Carol and her husband and Blake, together with Susan, the neighbor, decides to find out what. Susan and Blake find a clue in the notebook that leads them to a ghost town. But, they are not the only ones looking for Carol and her husband...

READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION!

#CoverCrush A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler

For new visitors do I want to explain that Cover Crush is something that my friend Erin over at Flashlight Commentary came up with and I adopted the idea together with some other friends. And, now we try to put up a Cover Crush every week. You can check below my pick of the week for their choices this week!


The riveting novel of iron-willed Alva Vanderbilt and her illustrious family in as they rule Gilded-Age New York, from the New York Times bestselling author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.

In 1883, the New York Times prints a lengthy rave of Alva Vanderbilt’s Fifth Ave. costume ball—a coup for the former Alva Smith, who not long before was destitute, her family’s good name useless on its own. Marrying into the newly rich but socially scorned Vanderbilt clan, a union contrived by Alva’s best friend and now-Duchess of Manchester, saved the Smiths—and elevated the Vanderbilts.

From outside, Alva seems to have it all and want more. She does have a knack for getting all she tries for: the costume ball—no mere amusement—wrests acceptance from doyenne Caroline Astor. Denied a box at the Academy of Music, Alva founds The Met. No obstacle puts her off for long.

But how much of ambition arises from insecurity? From despair? From refusal to play insipid games by absurd rules? —There are, however, consequences to breaking those rules. One must tread carefully.

And what of her maddening sister-in-law Alice? Her husband William, who’s hiding a terrible betrayal? The not-entirely-unwelcome attentions of his friend Oliver Belmont, who is everything William is not? Her own best friend, whose troubles cast a wide net?

Alva will build mansions, push boundaries, test friendships, and marry her daughter to England’s most eligible duke or die trying. She means to do right by all, but good behavior will only get a woman so far. What is the price of going further? What might be the rewards? There’s only one way to know for certain…

Thoughts:

Sometimes I look at a cover and think "that's so clever". This one is definitely a "clever" cover. Just look at the two V's that dominates the pic with Alva standing proudly in the middle. It's stylish and it's gorgeous! 

Check out what my friends have picked for Cover Crush's this week:

Stephanie @ Layered Pages





Wednesday, 21 February 2018

#BlogTour Two Journeys Home by Kevin O'Connell @NEBookPromotion

Two Journeys Home: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe by Kevin O'Connell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s 1767. As the eagerly anticipated sequel to Beyond Derrynane begins, Eileen O’Connell avails herself of a fortuitous opportunity to travel back to Ireland. In Two Journeys Home, the O’Connells encounter old faces and new—and their lives change forever.

Her vivacious personality matched only by her arresting physical presence, Eileen returns to Derrynane this time not as a teen aged widow but as one of the most recognised figures at the Habsburg court. Before returning to Vienna she experiences a whirlwind romance, leading to a tumult of betrayal and conflict with the O’Connell clan.

Abigail lives not in the shadow of her sister but instead becomes the principal lady-in-waiting to Empress Maria Theresa.

Hugh O’Connell leaves behind waning adolescence and a fleeting attraction to the youngest archduchess when he begins a military career in the Irish Brigade under Louis XV. But more royal entanglement awaits him in France…

Author Kevin O’Connell again deftly weaves threads of historical fact and fancy to create a colourful tapestry affording unique insights into the courts of eighteenth-century Catholic Europe and Protestant Ascendancy–ruled Ireland. Watch as the saga continues to unfold amongst the O’Connell’s, their friends and enemies, at home and abroad.

Book Review


I read Beyond Derrynane, the first book in this series last year, and was thrilled to get the chance to reading the sequel and finding out more about Eileen O'Connell, what the next step in her life would be. You don't have to have read the first book to appreciate this book, but it's plus, although the events that happened in the first book and are mentioned in this book would be explained so you will not feel left out.

I found the first half of the book the best, to be honest. Eileen O'Connell is going back to Ireland, to visit her family for the very first time in years. It's a joyous reuniting for Eileen to once again be back home with her family. When she left Ireland was she a young widow and now she is an important person at the Habsburg court where she is in charge of the two young archduchesses. One of them being the future Queen of France, Marie Antoinette. What really appealed to me was the love story that took place back in Ireland when Eileen met the man she knew she would marry. However, not everything is that easy and she had to fight for the man she loved. There is a scene in the book where I sat with my heart in my throat as she literary had to flee together with the man she loved to freedom and a life with him. How that ended, well you have to read the book.

The second part of the book takes place back in Vienna and yes that part of the book was also good, but I did not experience the same feeling that the first half of the book gave me. The arrival of Hugh O'Connell, Eileen's little brother in Vienna and his friendship with archduchess Maria Antonia that started to blossom into warmer feelings was a storyline that just didn't truly engross me. However, the last part, in France, when Maria Antonia had been married off was both interesting and tragic.

Two Journeys Home is a book that feels really well-researched and I loved getting an insight into Habsburg court. I have read several books about the French court at the same time and getting a different view was great.

Editorial Reviews


O’Connell is a fantastic storyteller. His prose is so rich and beautiful it is a joy to read. The story is compelling and the characters memorable – all the more so because they are based on real people. . . I am Irish but I did not know about this piece of Irish history. It is fascinating but historical fiction at the same time . . . Highly recommended for historical fiction lovers!
(c) Beth Nolan, Beth’s Book Nook

I enjoyed the first part of the Saga awhile back . . . (and) couldn’t wait to continue the story of Eileen and her family . . . this author really does have a way with words. The world and the characters are so vivid . . . Overall, I was hooked from page one. I honestly think that (Two Journeys Home) was better than (Beyond Derrynane) – which is rare. The characters and world-building was done in such a beautiful manner . . . I can’t wait for the next one . . .
(c) Carole Rae, Carole’s Sunday Review, Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell

Two Journeys Home: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe . . . is a gripping story that will transport the reader back in time, a story with a strong setting and compelling characters . . . a sensational romance, betrayal, family drama and intrigue . . . The plot is so complex that I find it hard to offer a summary in a few lines, but it is intriguing and it holds many surprises . . .  great writing. Kevin O’Connell’s prose is crisp and highly descriptive. I was delighted (by) . . . how he builds the setting, offering . . . powerful images of places, exploring cultural traits and unveiling the political climate of the time . . . The conflict is (as well-developed as the characters) and it is a powerful ingredient that moves the plot forward . . . an absorbing and intelligently-crafted historical novel . . . .
(c) Divine Zapa for Readers’ Favourite

About the Author:


Kevin O’Connell is a native of New York City and the descendant of a young officer of what had—from 1690 to 1792—been the Irish Brigade of the French Army, believed to have arrived in French Canada following the execution of Queen Marie Antoinette in October of 1793. He holds both Irish and American citizenship.

An international business attorney, Mr. O’Connell is an alumnus of Providence College and Georgetown University Law Centre.

A lifelong personal and scholarly interest in the history of eighteenth-century Ireland, as well as that of his extended family, led O’Connell to create his first book, Beyond Derrynane, which will, together with Two Journeys Home and the two books to follow, comprise the Derrynane Saga.
The father of five children and grandfather of ten, he and his wife, Laurette, live with their golden retriever, Katie, near Annapolis, Maryland.

Links:

Author Website 


Tour Schedule: Blog Stops (February 19th – 23rd)


February 19th
Spotlight  Layered Pages

February 20th
Guest Post -The Writing Desk
Guest Post – Blood Mother Blog

February 21th
Book Review - A Bookaholic Swede
Book Excerpt – Kate Braithwaite
Guest Post – A Literary Vacation

February 22nd
Interview & Review – Flashlight Commentary
Book Excerpt – Just One More Chapter
Book Review –Impressions In Ink

February 23rd
Book Review – Lock, Hooks and Books
Book Review – before the second sleep
March 5th –Tour Recap


Novel Expressions Blog Tours Website