Pages

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Spotlight: Book of Love by Erin Satie

Erin Satie is joining us for the blog tour of her historical romance, Book of Love! Check it out and be sure to get your copy today!

Title: Book of Love

Author: Erin Satie

Genre: Historical Romance

About Book of Love:

She's trying to make ends meet. He's out for a bit of fun.   Cordelia Kelly is busy, focused, worried about the future of her fledgling bookbinding business. When a handsome man stops her on the street to pester her with questions, she gives him the consideration he deserves: none. That handsome man happens to be the Duke of Stroud, and he finds Cordelia's hostility hilarious. He gives chase, if only for the pleasure of provoking her again.   He thinks life is a game. She doesn't play around.   Within days of meeting Cordelia, Stroud sets a marching band on a matchmaking mama, defaces a local monument, and ropes Cordelia into a round of his favorite game. In that same time, Cordelia stitches together the complete works of Mary Wollstonecraft, enthusiastically devotes herself to a petition demanding expanded legal rights for married women, and beats Stroud at his own game.   She defies all expectations. So does he.   Most people dismiss Stroud as a fool--himself included. When Cordelia sees past his lighthearted facade, he's terrified and also... in love? Stroud barges into Cordelia's life, offering her all the material and sensual temptations she's learned to do without. She usually has willpower to spare, but turning him down takes all of it, and then some. He's oddly irresistible. Or maybe they're perfect for one another.  

Get Your Copy Today!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes | Google Play

 

About Erin Satie:

Erin Satie is the author of the dark and elegant No Better Angels series, historical romances set in the early Victorian period. She’s currently hard at work on her upcoming series, Sweetness & Light, which should be just as elegant but not quite so dark.   Erin is a California native who’s lived on the coasts and in the heartland, in tiny city apartments and on a working farm. She studied art history in both college and graduate school—research is always her favorite part of starting a new book.   Her favorite part of finishing a book, whether reading or writing, is the happily ever after.  

Connect with Erin:

Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Review: Danger in Numbers by Heather Graham

Author: Heather Graham
Publisher: MIRA
Publication Date:  March 2021

A ritualistic murder on the side of a remote road brings in the Florida state police. Special Agent Amy Larson has never seen worse, and there are indications that this killing could be just the beginning. The crime draws the attention of the FBI in the form of Special Agent Hunter Forrest, a man with insider knowledge of how violent cults operate, and a man who might never be able to escape his own past.
The rural community is devastated by the death in their midst, but people know more than they are saying. As Amy and Hunter join forces, every lead takes them further into the twisted beliefs of a dangerous group that will stop at nothing to see their will done.
Doomsday preppers and small-town secrets collide in this sultry, twisty page-turning thriller.

Danger in Numbers is the latest from Ms. Graham that is not part of her Krewe of Hunters series.  It still involves the FBI, but there is nothing supernatural here.  The story involves a series of murders that seem to be related to a cult.  For the most part, I did enjoy the book.  

I thought the mystery was solid.  I was sucked into the hunt for the killer and how they were tied to a cult.  There were some twists.  Along with the present day mystery, we also get flashbacks to a family who is trying to flee a cult years before.  It was interesting how that storyline was tied onto the present day murder case.  But the thing I didn't love was the romance. Honestly, it would have been OK if it had not been included .  It was a bit too insta-love for me with little chemistry. The story only takes place over a few days.  The ending was left on a bit of a cliffhanger.  So I hope there will be another book.  


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Blog Tour: Review of The Swansong Conspiracy by Nick Vossen



Author
: Nick Vossen
Narrator: Marcus Rothenberg
Length: 8 hours 30 minutes
Publisher: The Parliament House2021
Genre: Horror; New Adult
Series: The Eldritch Twins, Book 1
Release date: Jan. 5, 2021

 Weirdness is in their blood.
After a near cataclysmic worldwide event shook the foundations of society and unleashed numerous supernatural hazards onto the Earth, twins Quincy and Lilly just want to lead their lives as normally as possible. However, this proves to be quite difficult. The twins are the heirs of legendary horror writer and occultist W.A. Swansong, who has been declared a prophet now that many of his gruesome creations appear to really exist. 

When a mysterious inheritance falls into the twins’ hands, a strange and violent secret organization becomes hell-bent on finding them. Quincy and Lilly are forced to flee their hometown of New Orleans, leading them on a wild, supernatural chase throughout the southern United States. With only a handful of allies and a trapped Fire Vampire named Tim, the twins uncover a great mystery tied to their inheritance, the source of all pandemonium, and even the true origins of mankind.

Buy Links
Buy on Audible

My thoughts:


When I started The Swansong Conspiracy, I wasn't sure if I was going to like the story.  I was definitely pleasantly surprised.  I was quickly pulled into the world that the author has created.  I liked his take on why supernatural creatures are now a reality in this world.   The twins were great characters and ones I would love to follow in their further adventures.  They were given a task and I am rooting for them to complete it in future books.  Time was also a fun character.  I listened to the audiobook for this.  I thought that the narrator did a great job with the voices.  My only complaint was the laugh he had for Tim.  I could have done without that.  I definitely recommend checking this one out..



About the Author: Nick Vossen


Nick Vossen was raised on blockbuster films from the 80s and 90s as well as fantasy and sci-fi novels, comics and games. No matter the medium, his love for storytelling grew ever larger. Having always had a fascination with the fantastical and weird, he quickly grew fond of authors such as Terry Pratchett, H.P. Lovecraft, Neil Gaiman and many more. During the winter of 2017 Nick released an anthology of short, weird fiction entitled The Fissures Between Worlds, which delves into the strange places on Earth where time does not flow as it should. It was received quite favourably, and so Nick’s desire to tell more stories grew. He has since been privileged to appear in several other anthologies, magazines and short story compilations and has quite a few projects still in the works. His biggest fascinations and inspirations are old forgotten woodlands, the deepest depths of the oceans and the unsettling, uncanniness of retro futurism.

Nick graduated in Media- and Culture studies at Utrecht University in The Netherlands. He is currently working as a freelance creative writer and author. He also


frequently works on projects in the Dutch indie-film industry, putting his talents to use in art-direction, set-dressing and of course screenwriting. His first novel, The Swansong Conspiracy (book 1 of the Eldritch Twins series) was released at the end of 2020 by Parliament House Press and well received. The book series offers a unique blend of coming-of-age comedy, supernatural horror and mystery.


About the Narrator: Marcus Rothenberg


Marcus Rothenberg is a voiceover artist born and raised in Springfield, Illinois. After high school, Marcus joined the Air Force as an air traffic controller. Once out of the service, he began to pursue his passion and dream career as a voice over artist.

 Marcus began pursuing voice work full time in November of 2019. Since then, he has lent his voice to multiple projects ranging from commercials, to commissioned Dungeons and Dragons character voices, to full length audiobooks.

He currently lives back in his hometown of Springfield, Illinois and is continuing to use his voice to fuel his passion. When Marcus is not recording, he enjoys table top games, video games, reading, and kayaking.


  

Monday, April 19, 2021

Spotlight: Excerpt of A Plan for Her Future by Lois Richer

 


 
by Lois Richer
Price: Ebook $4.99 USD / MMP $5.99
On sale date: April 27, 2021
ISBN: 9781488071096

One little girl 
could give him a second chance at love.

Jack Prinz barely knows how to be a grandfather, much less raise a child by himself. But he has the perfect solution—marry his childhood friend to provide his orphaned granddaughter with the mother figure she needs. Now he has to convince Grace Partridge to accept his loveless proposal. If only sticking to his plan were that simple…
 
From Harlequin Love Inspired: Uplifting stories of faith, forgiveness and hope.
 
The Calhoun Cowboys
Book 1: Hoping for a Father
Book 2: Home to Heal
Book 3: Christmas in a Snowstorm
Book 4: A Plan for Her Future
 
Heartfelt or thrilling, passionate or uplifting—our romances have it all. Visit TryHarlequin.com to sample FREE books from among 12 different series. It’s just a taste of the new books published each month—every story a journey guaranteed to leave you with That Harlequin Feeling.

 
Buy Links:
Harlequin  IndieBound   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Walmart   Apple Books   Google Play   Kobo 

Blog tour excerpt
 
Grace Partridge, you look stunning so stop fussing.” Jessica James flipped up the car’s visor, hiding the passenger mirror. “Trust me, with your makeup update, your stunning wardrobe and now that glorious feathered cut, you’re going to be attracting men’s looks the entire three months you’re traveling the world.” 
“Oh.” Grace gulped. Attracting men’s looks— Did she really want that? “Maybe it’s too much...” 
“Out!” Jess laughed as she parked in front of Grace’s tidy bungalow. She leaned across and flicked the door latch so the passenger door swung open. “No more second- guessing yourself. Embrace the new you, best friend of mine. And finish getting ready,” she ordered after glancing at her watch. “The Calhoun boys will soon be here to drive you to catch your flight in Missoula.” 
“Yes, they will. Thanks for being my cheerleader.” Grace hugged Jess, stepped out of her car and then she bent over to ask anxiously, “You will call me before I leave?” 
“Try and stop me.” Jessica sounded amused by her hesitancy.
“Thank you, dear friend. You are so—” 
“I love you, too. Later, kiddo.” With a cheery wave, Jess drove away.”
-
Inside her home, Grace dropped her keys on the dish in the foyer while thinking how much she’d miss Jess these next few months. She hung the new dress she’d just purchased in the closet. What a lot of things she’d bought for this trip. 
Actually, her wardrobe shift wasn’t only for the trip. It was part of Grace’s plan to shed the three D’s: Dumpy, Drab and Dreary. 
Her musing disintegrated at the sound of frantic pounding on her front door. When she pulled it open, her jaw dropped at the sight of a young girl whose face streamed with tears while she danced from one foot to the other. 
“Help,” she pleaded. “My pops is hurt.” 
Taken aback, Grace wondered when that nest of black hair had last seen a comb. 
“Hey! Lady! Help him,” the girl begged. 
“Of course, dear.” Grace snapped into action and grabbed her phone. “Uh, where is your pops?” 
“There.” The child pointed. 
Grace gasped at the sight of a silver-templed man in a battered black leather jacket, lying sprawled on the street in front of an expensive-looking black car. She dialed 911 before racing outside and down her sidewalk toward the victim. 
“I didn’t see him, Grace,” her elderly neighbor Mrs. Fothergill wailed as she stood by her car. “When I started backing up, he wasn’t there. Then he was and my foot slipped on the gas pedal. Please help him.” 
“I’ll try, Mrs. Fothergill. I’m reporting an accident.” Grace focused on the operator and gave her address. “A man’s been hit by a car. We need the ambulance and police. Hold on while I try to find out more about his condition.” 
Grace knelt by the man. He was unconscious. She pressed her fingers against his neck for a pulse. With his head half-buried under his arm she couldn’t get a good look at his face. She was afraid to move him lest there were nonvisible injuries. 
“Oh, Lord, help us,” Mrs. Fothergill chanted repeatedly. Distracted by the feeble woman’s agitation, Grace suggested she sit in her car and wait for help. 
“Please, do something for Pops,” the little girl implored her. 
“I’m doing my best, dear.” Grace studied her watch. “He has a pulse,” she told the operator. “It’s a bit fast. Yes, I do have first-aid knowledge, but I don’t want to move him because his leg is at a strange angle. Also, there’s a large bruise forming above his left eyebrow. I believe he hit his head when he fell so he may be concussed.” She turned to the child. “Does your grandfather take medication?” 
“He already took it,” the girl explained. “I dunno if he’s s’posed to take more.” 
Grace relayed that information and the name of the pre- scription on the vial she withdrew from the pocket of the leather jacket. The name suddenly registered. 
“Jack?” she gasped in utter consternation. 
The man moaned and moved his arm slightly, revealing his face. Grace gaped as her breath whooshed out. 
He’d aged. His face was thinner, more angled, rendering him more rakish-looking than ever. But it was Jack. The operator demanded to know what was going on. 
“The victim’s name is Jack Prinz,” Grace explained after licking her dry lips and finding her voice. “He’s fifty-three. Not from Sunshine. Not for many years.” 
 
***
Heartfelt or thrilling, passionate or uplifting—our romances have it all. Visit TryHarlequin.com to sample FREE books from among 12 different series. It’s just a taste of the new books published each month—every story a journey guaranteed to leave you with That Harlequin Feeling.
 

Author Bio
With more than fifty books and millions of copies in print worldwide, Lois Richer continues to write of characters struggling to find God amid their troubled world. Whether from her small prairie town, while crossing oceans or in the midst of the desert, Lois strives to impart hope as well as encourage readers' hunger to know more about the God of whom she writes. 
 
Author Links
Website: http://www.loisricher.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/128821.Lois_Richer

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Blog Tour: Review of Goldilocks by Jay Crownover

 


GOLDILOCKS by Jay Crownover just went live! 
 
Grab your copy now: 
 Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3slzPou
 Amazon CA: http://bit.ly/GoldCAzon
 Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2Rv04fy
 Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/GoldAU
 Amazon paperback: https://amzn.to/3wWFiG1
 
For Olivia Adams, the world has always been too big or too small. 
Forced to live her life caught between what she wanted for herself and the unfair choices and crazy obsession of those around her for as long as she could remember, Ollie has always felt confined and trapped. It was hard for her to imagine a future beyond the crushing control of those who wanted to make sure she paid the price for her role in a tragic accident that ruined several young lives. However, having no hope and living in a constant state of fear never stopped Ollie from dreaming of different ways to break free and how to reunite with the one person who always made her feel safe. Huck is the only one who ever made her feel like there was a place in his world, right by his side, that would fit her just right. 

The world has always forced Huck Snyder to be a guy who runs either too hot or too cold.
Unwanted and barely tolerated, his temper burned hot and bright, often leading him into trouble. After the accident, he was tossed out, disowned, and forced to fend for himself. Struggling to survive, Huck quickly realized the only way he would make it was to freeze out every single memory and moment from his past. Especially those surrounding Ollie. He allowed his heart to harden into a block of ice and refused to let anyone close enough to melt it. Years have passed, and Huck has adjusted to the constant cold that permeates through his new life. He was in no way prepared for the only girl who could ever control his inner fire to show back up. Ollie is on the run and doesn't seem to mind the chilly reception she receives when she shows up unannounced on Huck's doorstep.

Fire and ice no longer define Huck because when he's with Ollie, it's easy to remember that the temperature between the two of them has always been just right.

 
★✩★✩★✩★✩★
 
Join Jay's Reader Group for Details: 
https://www.facebook.com/groups/crownoverscrowd/
 
 
My thoughts:

Goldilocks is the latest book out by one of my favorite authors.  One of the things I love about her is that she isn't afraid to tackle tough issues.  In this case, we are talking about abuse of many kinds. This was definitely a tough book to read.  The things that Ollie and Huck both went through were horrific and really sad.  I definitely rooted for them to be able to find their way back to each other. There are a couple of twists, one I never saw coming.  My only complaint really was that I wanted a longer story.  I wanted more of the other characters because they really intrigued me.  Maybe they will get their own stories some day.  I liked the epilogue and thought it was very fitting.  I agreed with their decision.  
I highly recommend this one.



------
About JAY CROWNOVER:
 
Jay Crownover is the international and multiple New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men Series, The Saints of Denver Series, The Point Series, Breaking Point Series, and the Getaway Series. Her books can be found translated in many different languages all around the world. She is a tattooed, crazy haired Colorado native who lives at the base of the Rockies with her awesome dogs. This is where she can frequently be found enjoying a cold beer and Taco Tuesdays. Jay is a self-declared music snob and outspoken book lover who is always looking for her next adventure, between the pages and on the road.
 
Website: https://www.jaycrownover.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJayCrownover/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jay.crownover/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6875794.Jay_Crownover
Reader Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/crownoverscrowd/
 

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Spotlight: Excerpt of Sweet Paradise by Gene Desrochers

Sweet Paradise Banner

Sweet Paradise

by Gene Desrochers

April 5 - May 7, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Sweet Paradise by Gene Desrochers

In this harrowing Caribbean noir murder mystery, we meet Private Investigator Boise Montague, a man on the brink who is trying to get his life together after his wife died. He has returned to his childhood home and he’s started a private investigator firm of one. Since returning, his drinking has accelerated and he needs clients desperately before the life insurance money dries up.

Enter Junior Bacon, grandson of Francine Bacon of the Bacon sugar and rum empire. Granny’s gone missing and Junior wants Boise to figure out what happened.

As Boise delves into the mystery of the missing matriarch, a reporter associated with her winds up dead in his new office, dramatically raising the stakes. Now Boise must contend with questions from the police, the newspaper president, and the reporter's widow.

As Boise investigates he uncovers surprising truths about a woman seeking redemption, a family on the brink, and why no matter how hard we try, the past can sometimes never be fixed.

In the end, Boise must not only confront a killer, but the island's dark history and his own inner demons.

Kudos:

“Boise Montague, intrepid St. Thomas, V.I. private investigator, returns in SWEET PARADISE. Talented author Gene Desrochers delivers a suspense-filled tale overflowing with duplicitous characters and greed-driven agendas in lushly authentic Caribbean environs. A mature generation is determined to hold tight to the empire that provides them with every luxury, while the next generation attempts to fulfill its dreams … Others will compromise all that is decent. And Boise Montague will do what he does best as he separates the winners from the losers and the innocent from the guilty. A 5-star read.”
--Laura Taylor - 6-Time Romantic Times Award Winner

“Boise is back! Gene Desrochers returns his readers to the island paradise of St. Thomas. You’ll feel the warm tropical breeze as Private Investigator Boise Montague must discover [what happened to] the matriarch of a wealthy island rum producer. The deeper he digs, the closer he gets to his own mortality. Wandering and sometimes stumbling through his investigation, Boise learns about family secrets—and they could kill him. Outstanding writing and the vivid setting will keep you transfixed.”
--R. D. Kardon, award-winning author of Flygirl and Angel Flight

Book Details:

Genre: Murder Mystery
Published by: Acorn Publishing
Publication Date: April 6th 2021
Number of Pages: 299
ISBN: 9781952112379
Series: Boise Montague, #2 (Each book in the series is a stand alone mystery)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

The first coat was drying. More droplets of sweat rivered between my shoulder blades as I slugged water and Guinness alternately. Two in the afternoon was no time to be painting in the October heat, but I didn’t know what else to do and sitting around worrying about my looming penury seemed pointless.

The used old-timey clock radio I’d picked up at Bob’s Store babbled on about hurricane warnings as reception fizzled in and out. It was the latter part of hurricane season and we’d seen minimal storm damage in the region. We might dodge hurricanes for one or two years running, but it was never long enough to truly get complacent about them the way places like New Orleans had.

The overhead fan whirred. Outside my door sunlight filtered thinly through a cloud, illuminating the traffic circle a faint ocher. As I considered the faded lines denoting parking spaces and the cracked pavement, a young man bobbed into my line of sight. He was one of those people who walked on his toes at all times, like the tendons in his calves were so tight his heels couldn’t touch the ground for more than an instant before popping up again. He squinted at the building, turning his head back and forth, then perusing a sheet of paper clutched in both hands. A green Osprey backpack hung loosely off his shoulders. People in California used them for hiking. He tugged at the built-in sippy straw and sucked. The bubbly slurping of the last drops of water in his pouch filtered up to me. Disappointment clouded his face.

His attention snagged on my door. I grinned and gave myself a mental pat on the back. He shifted one hand to his hip and gave a slight lean. I wasn’t sure whether I should let him see me in my ratty painting outfit, but figured that could be explained by the wet door. A spooge of cantaloupe paint dominated the center of my gray t-shirt. I eased the door open a couple more feet.

“Help you?” I asked. “You look lost.”

“Nice door.” He pointed at his forehead and swirled his finger around. “You got some.”

He was college-aged and his face was sunburned, as were his arms. He wore a Hawaiian shirt and khaki pants, a classic tourist outfit.

He continued to stand in the same spot, squinting and considering the sheet of paper. I returned to my inner office, needing another sip of water and the breeze from the fan. Out my open doorway, I could barely make out the top of his Caesar-style haircut.

“You should get a hat!” I hollered out.

His head rose up from the paper and he pushed up on tip-toes so I could see his eyes. “The sun’s doing a number on you,” I said. “Want a drink of water?”

He stared at me a while with a strange stillness, like he was in no hurry as he weighed every option. This boy was a local and he would pull me into events that would rock one of the largest industries in the Virgin Islands.

“Do you have Perrier?”

***

Excerpt from Sweet Paradise by Gene Desrochers. Copyright 2021 by Gene Desrochers. Reproduced with permission from Gene Desrochers. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Gene Desrochers

Gene Desrochers hails from a dot in the Caribbean Sea called St. Thomas. He grew up with minimal supervision and free-roaming animals in a guesthouse that also served as a hospital during wartime. If you ask, he will regale you with his Caribbean accent and tennis prowess.

After a lifetime of writing and telling short stories, he ventured into the deep end, publishing his first novel, Dark Paradise in 2018. Sweet Paradise is Gene’s second published novel in the Boise Montague Series.

He lives in Southern California with his wife, step-daughter, and two cats.

Catch Up With Gene Desrochers:
GeneDesrochers.com
Goodreads
BookBub - @problemsolvergene
Instagram - @authorgenedesrochers
Twitter - @problemsolverge
Facebook - @ggdesrochers

 

 

Tour Participants:

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



 

 

Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Gene Desrochers. There will be two (2) winners. Each winner will receive an Amazon.com gift card. The giveaway begins on April 5, 2021 and runs through May 9, 2021. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

Friday, April 16, 2021

Blog Tour: Review of An Invincible Summer by Mariah Stewart

Author: Mariah Stewart 
Publisher: Montlake 
Publication Date: May 1, 2021

It was a lifetime ago that recently widowed Maggie Flynn was in Wyndham Beach. Now, on the occasion of her fortieth high school reunion, she returns to her hometown on the Massachusetts coast, picking up right where she left off with dear friends Lydia and Emma. But seeing Brett Crawford again stirs other emotions. Once, they were the town’s golden couple destined for one another. He shared Maggie’s dreams—and eventually, a shattering secret that drove them apart.

Buying her old family home and resettling in Wyndham Beach means a chance to start over for Maggie and her two daughters, but it also means facing her rekindled feelings for her first love and finally confronting—and embracing—the past in ways she never thought possible. Maggie won’t be alone. With her family and friends around her, she can weather this stormy turning point in her life and open her heart to the future. As for that dream shared and lost years ago? If Maggie can forgive herself, it still might come true.

Purchase Links
Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

An Invincible Summer follows Maggie who return to her home town for her fortieth high school reunion. As there always are in small town, there are secrets that need to be revealed and dealt with.    I think this book will be a good summer beach read for a lot of fans of this author.  For me, I found it to be just OK.  I felt like it took me forever to get through.  The first couple of chapters felt very much like an info dump and I could myself skimming.  I like Maggie well enough.  But none of the other character really stood out to me.  In the end, I felt like I had read this plot before.  As I said, I think it just wasn't for me, but I do think others will probably enjoy it.

About Mariah Stewart


Mariah Stewart is the New York TimesPublishers Weekly, and USA Today bestselling author of several series, including The Chesapeake Diaries and The Hudson Sisters, as well as stand-alone novels, novellas, and short stories. A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors country life, tends her gardens, and works on her next novel. She’s the proud mama of two fabulous daughters who—along with her equally fabulous sons-in-law—have gifted her with six adorable (and yes, fabulous) granddarlings.

Connect with Mariah
Website | Facebook | Instagram

Instagram features:
Monday, April 5th: @megsbookclub
Monday, April 5th: @stumblingintobooks
Tuesday, April 6th: @lovelyplacebooks
Wednesday, April 7th: @suethebookie
Wednesday, April 7th: @acericolalife
Thursday, April 8th: @irishgirliereads
Friday, April 9th: @workreadsleeprepeat
Friday, April 9th: @mrsboomreads
Saturday, April 10th: @mynovelmenagerie
Sunday, April 11th: @mybooksandplants
Sunday, April 11th: @the_unwined
Monday, April 12th: @talielovesbooks
Tuesday, April 13th: @pages.and.plates
Wednesday, April 14th: @theocbookgirl

Reviews:
Monday, April 5th: Where the Reader Grows and @wherethereadergrows
Tuesday, April 6th: Novel Gossip and @novelgossip
Wednesday, April 7th: Booked on a Feeling
Thursday, April 8th: @sarahandherbookshelves
Friday, April 9th: Pacific Northwest Bookworm and @pnwbookworm
Monday, April 12th: @what.ems.reading
Wednesday, April 14th: @bryantparkbooks
Thursday, April 15th: Books Cooks Looks
Friday, April 16th: From the TBR Pile
Saturday, April 17th: Leighellen Landskov and @mommaleighellensbooknook
Monday, April 19th: @tamsterdam_reads
Monday, April 19th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Tuesday, April 20th: Laura’s Reviews and @laurasreviews_1
Wednesday, April 21st: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, April 21st: @bibliolau19
Wednesday, April 21st: Reading Reality
Thursday, April 22nd: Nurse Bookie and @nurse_bookie
Friday, April 23rd: View from the Birdhouse
Friday, April 23rd: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Saturday, April 24th: @rozierreadsandwine
Sunday, April 25th: @bookscallmyheart
Monday, April 26th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Monday, April 26th: @readerofthewrittenword
Tuesday, April 27th: Seaside Book Nook
Wednesday, April 28th: @bookish.bethany
Thursday, April 29th: Living My Best Book Life and @livingmybestbooklife
Friday, April 30th: The Sketchy Reader
 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Spotlight: Excerpt of The Glass Slipper by K. Webster

The Glass Slipper
K. Webster
Published by: Dangerous Press
Publication date: April 13th 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Betraying the most powerful man in New York wasn’t something I ever envisioned when I first started playing games with Winston Constantine. But he’s engaged in far more dangerous games than ours, and his enemies are out for blood.

Winston has my heart, the Morellis have incriminating photos, and I’m left with nothing except three stepbrothers who want to hurt me and a future in doubt. I knew Winston wouldn’t be my prince charming, but that didn’t stop me from falling for him.
After all, the slippers fit, and I let myself believe I’d be dancing with Winston forever.
Until too much truth comes to light.

Until I realize instead of ruling the board, I was just a pawn.

In the end, I have only one question. When his game with me is over, will I be able to pretend as if the glass slipper wasn’t a perfect fit?

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

EXCERPT:

Chirp.

I love my bird. Shrimp is the best little birdie on the planet. But, the one single sound he makes isn’t a pleased one. It’s angry. Hurt. Scared. This, above anything else that’s happened tonight, is the most upsetting. I’ve let Winston down. And, I’ve let my damn bird down.

Stupidly, I got swept up in the little fairy tale I’d imagined where I was a maid turned princess who perfectly fit into her filthy prince’s story. Winston, billionaire CEO and world’s hottest bachelor, gave me a fantasy not a reality. He offered me a world made of glass. I stepped into those new shoes, blinded by the shininess, eager to be his little plaything.

But the cracking has begun.

At the first sign of trouble, everything feels as though it’s going to shatter at my feet.

No charming prince will be sweeping me in his arms this time.

I bite down on my lip to keep from crying. I’m tired of crying. Emotionally exhausted. Sick of it. Swallowing down the tight ache in my throat, I lock the apartment door and then swivel around to greet my bird.

“Shrimp,” I say in a raspy, wobbly voice as I toss my purse onto the love seat and kick off my heels. “Welcome home.” To the whore apartment.

He flaps his wings angrily from inside his cage. I’m unnerved wondering how he even got here. Winston obviously handled this during all the chaos that was dinner when he’d been texting someone.

It’s not just my bird.

Sitting on my bed is my bag of toiletries, my backpack, and a garment bag that most definitely doesn’t belong to me. I don’t have to unzip it to know it’ll be filled with outfits that were once hanging in my room at Winston’s place.

“Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry,” I chant, even as fresh, hot tears roll out.

I unlatch Shrimp’s cage door so he can get some space. Rather than hopping into my waiting hand, he flutters past me, swooping around the small area. He chirps in sharp, high-pitched noises that indicate he’s not pleased about his surroundings. The poor bird misses his chandelier playground, high ceilings, and huge windows.

“I fucked it up,” I explain to him with a wave of my hand. “I can’t even begin to imagine what the fallout for all of this will be.”

And I can’t.


Author Bio:

K Webster is a USA Today Bestselling author. Her titles have claimed many bestseller tags in numerous categories, are translated in multiple languages, and have been adapted into audiobooks. She lives in "Tornado Alley" with her husband, two children, and her baby dog named Blue. When she's not writing, she's reading, drinking copious amounts of coffee, and researching aliens.

You can easily find K Webster on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads!

Can't find a certain book? Maybe it's too hot for Amazon! Don't worry because titles like Bad Bad Bad, This is War, Baby, The Wild, and Hale can all be found for sale on K's website in both ebook and paperback format.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Bookbub / Newsletter


GIVEAWAY!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hosted by:
XBTBanner1

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Review: The Children of Red Peak by Craig DiLouie

Author: Craig DiLouie
Publisher: Redhook
Publication Date: November 2020

Bram Stoker Award-nominated author Craig DiLouie brings a new twist to the cult horror story in a heart-pounding novel of psychological suspense.
David Young, Deacon Price, and Beth Harris live with a dark secret. As children, they survived a religious group's horrific last days at the isolated mountain Red Peak. Years later, the trauma of what they experienced never feels far behind.

When a fellow survivor commits suicide, they finally reunite and share their stories. Long-repressed memories surface, defying understanding and belief. Why did their families go down such a dark road? What really happened on that final night?

The answers lie buried at Red Peak. But truth has a price, and escaping a second time may demand the ultimate sacrifice.

The Children of Red Peak was a recommended horror/thriller by my library. I'm always intrigued by cults, so it seemed right up my alley.  The book follows 4 adults who were the only survivors of a cult.  Years before when they were kids, the cult disappeared and the survived with no memory of what happened. Now an anniversary is coming up and the group is compelled to return to the mountain to finally figure out what happened. 

I had high hopes for this book, I was on board with it up until the last third of the book.  We get to see what happened a within the cult through each of the characters' perspectives in flashbacks.  I enjoyed those parts.  We get to see the buildup to how a small co-op community ended up becoming a doomsday cult.  We also get to see how the past has affected and shapes each character as an adult.  Where the book lost me was the amount of time it took for them to go back to the mountainOnce they got there, I'm not even sure what happened.  I hated the ending.  I felt like I had no real answers after all of that buildup.  You all know I'm not a fan of ambiguous endings.  Maybe someone out there who has read it can explain to me what happened.  If you can ignore the ending, I would recommend checking out the book for the rest of it.



Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Blog Tour: Excerpt of The Bookstore on the Beach by Brenda Novak

 


Brenda Novak
On Sale Date: April 6, 2021
9780778361053
Trade Paperback
$16.99 USD
448 pages
 
For fans of Elin Hilderbrand and Mary Kay Andrews, comes New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak's newest standalone work of women's fiction, a big, sweeping novel about family and the ties that bind and challenge us. In this novel, three generations of women from the same family share a house and work together at a bookstore in Colonial Beach over the course of a summer.
 
How do you start a new chapter when you haven’t closed the book on the last one?
 
Eighteen months ago, Autumn Divac’s husband went missing. Her desperate search has yielded no answers—she still has no idea where he went or why. After being happily married for twenty years, she can’t imagine moving forward without him, but for the sake of their two teenage children, she has to try.
 
Autumn takes her kids home for the summer to the charming beachside town where she was raised. She seeks comfort by working alongside her mother and aunt at their quaint bookshop, only to learn that her daughter is facing a life change neither of them saw coming and her mother has been hiding a terrible secret for years. And when she runs into Quinn Vanderbilt—the boy who stole her heart in high school—old feelings start to bubble up again. Is she free to love him, or should she hold out hope for her husband’s return? She can only trust her heart…and hope it won’t lead her astray.

Enjoy this excerpt:


CHAPTER 1

Tuesday, June 8

 

Today her daughter was returning for the summer. Mary Langford gazed eagerly out at the street in front of her small bookstore, looking for a glimpse of Autumn’s car and, when she saw nothing except a large family going into the ice cream parlor at the end of the block, checked her watch. Three-thirty. Autumn had called at lunchtime to say that she and the kids were making good time. They probably wouldn’t be much longer.

“You’ve been quiet today,” Laurie commented from where she sat behind the counter, straightening the pens, tape, stapler and bookmarks.

Mary turned from the large front window she’d recently decorated with posters of the hottest new releases. “I worry when she’s on the road for so long.”

“She’ll make it, and it’ll be great to see her and the kids. They haven’t been back since Christmas, have they?”

“No.” She picked up the feather duster and began cleaning shelves—a never-ending job at Beach Front Books, which she and Laurie owned as 50/50 partners. Autumn lived in Tampa, Florida, far enough away that it wasn’t easy to get together when Taylor and Caden were in school. “And I doubt they’ll come back for the holidays this year.” Fortunately, they were more consistent about returning for the summer—except for last summer, of course, which was understandable. Mary hoped she’d be able to count on that continuing, but with the kids getting older, nothing was certain. Taylor had only one more year of high school before heading off to college. Caden had two. Mary feared this might be the last time, for a while, they’d all be together in Sable Beach.

“You could go visit them,” Laurie pointed out.

Autumn had invited her many times. Remembering the arguments her refusal had sparked over the years caused Mary’s stomach to churn. She wanted to go to Tampa, wanted to make it so that her daughter wouldn’t have to do all the traveling. Autumn had been going through so much lately. But the thought of venturing into unfamiliar territory filled Mary with dread. Other than to go to Richmond occasionally, which was the closest big city, she hadn’t left the sleepy Virginia Beach town she called home in thirty-five years. “Yes, but you know me. This is the only place I feel safe.”

Laurie rocked back on the tall stool. “Well, if the fear hasn’t gone away by now, I guess it’s not going to.”

“No. I don’t talk about it anymore, but the past is as real to me now as it’s ever been.”

Although the store had been busy earlier, what with the influx of tourists for the season, foot traffic had slowed. When that happened, they often talked more than they worked. Beach Front Books wasn’t Laurie’s sole source of income. Her husband, Christopher Conklin, was a talented artist. He painted all kinds of seascapes, and while he wasn’t in any prestigious galleries, he sold his paintings in a section they reserved for him in the store as well as online.

But Mary, who’d never been married, had no other support. Beach Front Books didn’t make a large profit, but no one loved the escape that books provided more than she did, and the store garnered enough business that she could eke out a living. That was all that mattered to her.

“Autumn gets so mad that I won’t go out and see the world. Visit. Travel. That sort of thing,” she murmured, wishing she didn’t have the scars and limitations that had, at times, put such a strain on their relationship. “She keeps saying I’m too young to live like an old lady.”

“She has a point.”

Mary sighed. “I’m not young anymore.”

“What are you talking about? You’re nine years younger than me. Fifty-four is not old.”

That was true, but she’d had to grow up far sooner than most people. “I feel ancient.”

“Next year, you should go to Tampa, if they ask you.”

She shook her head. “I can’t.”

“Maybe you’ll prove that you can.”

Mary couldn’t help bristling. She didn’t like it when Laurie pushed her. “No.”

“Autumn doesn’t understand, Mary. That’s what causes almost every fight you have with her.”

“I know. And I feel bad about that. But there’s nothing I can do.”

Laurie lowered her voice. “You could tell her the truth…”

“Absolutely not,” Mary snapped. “Why would I ever do that?”

“There are reasons. And you know it. We’ve talked about this before,” Laurie said, remaining calm, as always. That was one of the many things Mary liked about her—she was steady and patient, and that steadiness somehow helped Mary cope when old feelings and memories began to resurface.

In this instance, Laurie might also be right. Mary could feel the past rising up from its deep slumber. Maybe it was time to tell Autumn.

But there were just as many reasons not to—compelling reasons. And the thought of revealing the past, seeing it all through her daughter’s eyes, made Mary feel ill. “I can’t broach that subject right now, not with what she’s been dealing with the past year and a half. Besides, it’s been so long it’s almost as if it happened to someone else,” she said, mentally shoving those dark years into the deepest recesses of her mind. “I want to stay as far away from that subject as possible.”

Laurie didn’t call her out on the contradiction her statement created. And Mary was glad. She couldn’t have explained how it could be real and frightening and always present and yet she could feel oddly removed from it at the same time.

“Except that it didn’t happen to someone else,” Laurie responded sadly. “It happened to you.”

* * *

The scent of the ocean, more than anything else, told Autumn she was home. She lowered her window as soon as she rolled into town and breathed deeply, letting the salt air fill her lungs.

“What are you doing?” Taylor held her long brown hair in one hand to keep it from whipping across her face as she looked over from the passenger seat.

Autumn smiled, which was something she knew her children hadn’t seen her do enough of lately. “Just getting a little air.”

“You hate it when I roll down my window,” Caden grumbled from the backseat.

“I’m hoping I won’t be so irritable anymore.” For the past eighteen months, Autumn had been mired in the nightmare that had overtaken her life. She almost hadn’t come to Sable Beach because of it. But when her children had each pleaded with her, separately, to ask if they could spend the summer with “Mimi” like they used to, she knew they needed some normalcy in their lives—needed to retain at least one of their parents. Her grief and preoccupation with her husband’s disappearance had probably made them feel as though she’d gone missing, too—at least the mother they’d known before. She hoped by returning to the place that held so many wonderful memories for them all, they’d be able to heal and reconnect.

It wasn’t as if she could do anything more for Nick, anyway. That was the ugly reality. She’d exhausted every viable lead and still had no idea where he was. If he was dead, she had to figure out a way to go on without him for the sake of their children.

The second she spotted the bookstore, the nostalgia that welled up—along with memories of a simpler, easier time—nearly brought her to tears. When she was a little girl, she’d spent so many hours following her mother through the narrow aisles of that quaint shop, which looked like something from the crooked, narrow streets of Victorian London, dusting bookshelves or reading in the nook her mother had created for her.

She’d spent just as much time at Beach Front Books when she was a teenager, only then she was stocking shelves, ordering inventory, working the register—and, again, reading, but this time sitting on the stool behind the counter while waiting for her next customer.

God, it was good to be back. As hard as she could be on her mother for her unreasonable fears and idiosyncrasies, she couldn’t wait to see her. Until this moment, she hadn’t realized just how much she missed her mother. So what if Mary was almost agoraphobic with her unwillingness to leave her little bungalow a block away from the sea? She was always there, waiting to welcome Autumn home. Maybe Autumn had never had a father, or the little brother or sister she’d secretly longed for, but she was lucky enough to have the enduring love of a good mother.

“There it is.” She pointed to the bookstore as she slowed to look for a place to park.

“We’re not going to the beach house?” Caden asked, looking up from whatever he’d been doing on his phone.

“Not right now. First, we’re stopping to see Mimi and Aunt Laurie. Then we’ll take our stuff over to the house.”

A glance in the rearview mirror showed her his scowl. “I hope it won’t be too late to go to the beach,” he said.

“I’m sure we can manage to get there before dark,” she responded as she wedged her white Volvo SUV between a red convertible and a gray sedan and grabbed her purse.

Taylor spoke, causing her to pause with her hand on the door latch. “You already seem different.”

“In what way?” Autumn asked.

“Less uptight. Not so sad.”

“Coming here makes me happy,” she admitted.

“Then why were we going to skip it again?” Caden asked.

Autumn twisted around to look at him. “You know why.”

A pained expression claimed her daughter’s face. “Does this mean you’re letting go?”

“Of Dad? Of course she’s letting go,” Caden answered, the hard edge to his voice suggesting he considered the question to be a stupid one. “Dad’s dead.”

“Don’t say that!” Taylor snapped. “We don’t know it’s true. He could be coming back.”

“It’s been eighteen months, Tay,” Caden responded. “He would’ve come back by now if he could.”

“Stop it, both of you.” Autumn didn’t want them getting into an argument right before they saw her mother. They were at each other’s throats so often lately; it drove her crazy to constantly have to play referee. But she could hardly blame them. They’d lost their father, and they didn’t know how or why. And she had no explanation. “Life’s been hard enough lately,” she added. “Let’s not make it any harder.”

“Then you tell her,” Caden said. “Dad’s dead, and we have to move on. Right? Isn’t that the truth? Go ahead and say it—you are letting go.”

Was she? Is that what this trip signified? If not, how much longer should she hold on? And would holding on be best for them? She couldn’t imagine her kids would want to spend another eighteen months swallowed up by grief and consumed with seeking answers they may never find. Taylor was seventeen, going to be a senior and starting to investigate colleges. Caden was only a year behind her. Surely, they would prefer to look forward and not back.

Regardless, Autumn wasn’t sure she could continue to search, not like she had. She was exhausted—mentally and physically. She’d put everything she had into the past year and a half, and it hadn’t made a damn bit of difference. That was the most disheartening part of it.

“I’m continuing to hold out hope,” she said, even though everyone she’d talked to, including the FBI, insisted her husband must be dead. It was difficult to see the idyllic, two-parent upbringing she was trying to give her kids—something she’d never had herself—fall apart that quickly and easily, and the heartbreak, loneliness and frustration of looking for Nick, with no results, created such a downward spiral for her. She knew it had been just as painful for her children. That was why maybe she should let go—to provide the best quality of life for them as possible.

“What does that mean? Are you going to keep looking for him?” Caden pressed. “Is that how you’re going to spend the summer?”

He could tell something had changed, that coming here signified a difference, and he wanted to reach the bottom line. But Autumn wasn’t ready to admit that she’d failed. Not with as many times as she’d tried to comfort them by promising she’d have answers eventually.

She opened her mouth to try to explain what she was thinking in the gentlest possible way when she spotted her mother. Mary had come out of the store and was waving at them.

“There’s your grandmother,” she said.

Thankfully, her children let the conversation lapse and got out of the car.

“Hi, Mimi.” With his long strides, Caden reached Mary first. Although he wasn’t yet fully grown, he was already six-one. And Taylor was five foot ten. They were both tall, like their father.

Mary gave each of the kids a big hug and exclaimed about how grown-up they both were and how excited she was to see them before turning to Autumn.

“You’ve lost weight,” she murmured gently, a hint of worry belying her smile before they embraced.

“I’m okay, Mom.” Autumn could smell a hint of the bookstore on Mary’s clothes and realized that was another scent she’d never forget. It represented her childhood and all the great stories she’d read growing up. She’d once hoped to read every book in the store. She hadn’t quite made it, thanks to new releases and fluctuating inventory, but she’d read more books than most people. She still considered books to be a big part of her life. “It’s good to be home.”

“Laurie’s dying to see you. Let’s go in and say hello,” Mary said and held the door.

As soon as the bell sounded, Laurie hurried out from behind the register. “There you are! It’s a good thing you came when you did. I was afraid it would drive your mother crazy waiting for you. She’s been so anxious for you to arrive. We both have.”

Taylor allowed her aunt to give her an exuberant squeeze. “I’m glad we got to come this year. Where’s Uncle Chris?”

“Probably on the beach somewhere, painting. You know how he is once the weather warms up—just like a child, eager to get outdoors.”

They took a few minutes to visit the small section of the store dedicated to Christopher’s work so they could admire his latest paintings. Autumn was especially enamored with one he’d done of the bookstore that portrayed a child out front, hanging on to her mother with one hand and carrying a stack of books with the other. That child could’ve been her once upon a time. She almost wondered if his memory of her had inspired it, which was why she decided, if that painting didn’t sell before she left, she’d buy it herself and take it back to Tampa.

Fortunately, she had the money. As a corporate attorney, Nick had always done well financially. After the first few years of their marriage, which he spent finishing school, they’d rarely had to scrimp. But it was what he’d inherited when his father passed away that’d really set them up. After Sergey’s death, Autumn had quit working as a loan officer for a local bank and, for the past ten years, had focused on her family, her home, gardening and cooking. Her financial situation was also one of the reasons she rejected the idea that Nick might’ve left her for another woman, a possibility that had been suggested to her many, many times. Why would he leave his children, too, and walk away without a cent? Sure, they’d had their struggles, especially in recent years, when his work seemed to take more and more of his time and attention, but neither of them had ever mentioned separating.

“This is amazing,” she exclaimed as she continued to study the little girl in the painting. “I love Chris’s work.”

“The last original he donated to charity went for six thousand dollars,” Laurie announced proudly.

“Who bought it?” Autumn asked. If whoever it was lived in Sable Beach, chances were good she’d know him or her.

“Mike Vanderbilt, over at The Daily Catch. He was drunk when he got into a bidding war for it, and now it’s hanging in his restaurant. I think he’s glad to have it, but I imagine he also sees it as a reminder not to raise his paddle when he’s been drinking.”

They all laughed to think of the barrel-chested and good-natured Mike letting alcohol bring out his competitive nature.

“His wife must be doing well, then,” Autumn said. “She’s still in remission?”

Laurie shot Mary a surprised glance, and it was Mary who answered. “I’m afraid not. She was when he bought that painting, but they received word just a couple of months ago that Beth’s breast cancer has come back.”

“Oh no,” Autumn cried. Everyone knew the owners of The Daily Catch. They did a lot for the community. And it was her favorite restaurant. When she was home, she ate there all the time. “What’s her prognosis?”

“Not good. That’s why Quinn has moved home from that little town in upstate New York. He helps his father with the restaurant these days. I’m sure he’s also here to spend time with his mother before…well, before he has to say goodbye to her for good.”

“Quinn’s home?” Autumn said. She wasn’t expecting that; the mention of his name knocked her a little off-kilter. When he was a senior and she was a junior, she’d given him her virginity in the elaborate tree house that was in his backyard, even though he hadn’t been nearly as interested in being with her as she was him. And then he’d broken her heart by getting back together with his girlfriend, the same woman he married five years later. “So his wife and kids are here now, too?”

“No, he doesn’t have any kids,” Laurie said, chiming in again. “And he and Sarah—what was her maiden name?”

“Vizii,” Autumn supplied.

“Yes. Vizii. They divorced almost two years ago. You didn’t know?”

“How would I?” She’d seen nothing about it on social media, but then, Quinn had never been on social media, and she’d never been able to find Sarah, either—not that she’d checked recently because she hadn’t. “I haven’t seen him since he was working as a lifeguard at the beach after his first year of college and he had to swim out and save me from drowning.” She didn’t add that she’d faked the whole episode just to get his attention. She was mortified about that now and cringed at how obvious it must’ve been to him.

“I’m surprised the gossip didn’t reach you all the way down in Tampa,” Laurie said. “For a while, it was about the only thing anyone around here could talk about.”

But who would tell her? Her mother wasn’t much for gossip, which was ironic, considering she’d lived in Sable Beach for so long. The town where Autumn had been raised took talking about their friends and neighbors to a whole new level.

“Why would his divorce be such big news?” she asked. Besides being one of the most popular boys in school, Quinn had been handsome, athletic and at the top of his class—undoubtedly one of Sable Beach’s finest. But still. Divorce was so commonplace it was hardly remarkable anymore. And Quinn was thirty-nine. He’d been gone from this place—except for when he visited his folks—for twenty-one years. How could what was going on in his life be such a hot topic?

Laurie tilted her head toward Taylor and Caden in such a way that Autumn understood she was hesitant to speak in front of them. “There were some…extenuating circumstances. Have your mother tell you about it later.”

I want to hear,” Caden protested.

“Why? We don’t even know him.” Taylor jumped in before Autumn could respond, then Caden snapped at her to shut up and they started arguing again.

“Don’t make Mimi regret inviting us.” Autumn rolled her eyes to show how weary she was of this behavior.

“Should we go over and get you settled in?” Mary asked. “Laurie offered to close the store tonight, so I’m free to start dinner while you unpack.”

“Sure,” Autumn said. Once Caden and Taylor got to the beach, maybe they’d mellow out and fall into the same companionable rhythm they usually achieved when they came to Sable Beach.

Her mother’s house seemed the same, except that its shingle siding was now white instead of green. It had needed a fresh coat of paint, and the white looked clean and crisp. But as much as she loved the update, Autumn was relieved to find that nothing else had changed. Visiting Mary was like going back in time. Not many people could do that twenty years after they’d left home.

Because it was such a small cottage, Caden had to sleep on the couch, Taylor took Autumn’s old room next to Mary’s, and the three of them shared the only bathroom, which was off the hallway. Autumn slept above the detached garage, where she had her own bed and bath, thanks to Nick. Because he’d typically had to work when she brought the kids, he’d never spent more than a few days at a time in Sable Beach. That had caused more than a few arguments over the years, so she’d readily agreed when he’d insisted they have their own space for when he did come. She’d thought it might mean he’d accompany them more often, or stay a little longer when he did. It made no difference in the end, but he was the one who’d hired an architect to create the plans to finish off the top of the garage, even though it had been Autumn who’d picked out the finishes and colors.

A wave of melancholy washed over her as she left the kids with her mother to get settled in at the main house, let herself into the garage and climbed the narrow stairs at the back to the apartment, where she’d be living for the next few months, by herself. As often as she’d been here over the years, it felt strange to know that Nick would not be visiting. At times, she was still so lost without him.

“Where are you?” she whispered as she walked around, touching the things he’d touched. She’d come for Christmas without him, but she and Taylor had shared her old room in the house. They could do that for a week or so but not for three months—not without wanting to turn around and head straight home.

She stopped in front of the dresser, where her mother had put a picture of her family. She’d known her husband was getting involved in something secretive, that a friend who was with the FBI had recruited him for his knowledge of Ukraine. Because his parents had emigrated from there, he’d known the language, was familiar with the customs and still had a few relatives in the country. That made him useful in what had become a very troubled region.

Although he couldn’t tell her exactly what he was doing for the government, she guessed he was working in counterterrorism, probably trying to infiltrate various radical groups. She’d read that the FBI sometimes used civilians who were particularly adept with computers, or had some specific knowledge or ability, to assist them.

Maybe he’d become a full-fledged spy, and whoever was on the other side had discovered his activities. The FBI claimed they hadn’t sent him to Ukraine to begin with, but she’d discovered that he’d flown into Kyiv before disappearing and had no idea why he’d go there if not at their request. If he wanted to reacquaint himself with his uncle and cousins, he would’ve told her. Besides, the family he had there claimed they hadn’t heard from him. She’d traveled halfway across the world to speak to them face-to-face—not that the long, tiring trip had accomplished anything.

She lifted her suitcase onto the bed and was unpacking her clothes when her mother came up. “The kids would like to go to the beach before we have dinner, but I told them I’d rather they not go alone.”

“Mom, they’re sixteen and seventeen,” she said. “Kids that age go to the beach by themselves all the time.”

“Still. I don’t mind walking down with them.”

That was her mother’s polite way of saying she was afraid they wouldn’t be safe and felt the need to watch over them. Mary had always been overprotective. But Autumn managed not to say anything. What would it hurt for their Mimi to walk down to the water with them? There was no need to transfer the suffocation she’d felt to her children, especially because they’d had to put up with so much less of it. “Okay.”

“Would you like us to wait for you?”

“No, I’ll find you in a few minutes.”

With a nod, her mother turned to leave but paused before descending the stairs. “It can’t be easy for you to stay out here, knowing that Nick won’t be coming. Would you rather we make other arrangements, like we did at Christmas? Have you stay in the house with us?”

Unless Nick suddenly showed up, she’d have to brave it at some point, wouldn’t she? It might as well be now. “No. There’s not enough room. Taylor and I both need our space.”

“If you’re sure.”

“Mom?”

She looked up. “Yes?”

“Before you go, tell me what Laurie was referring to at the bookshop.”

“About…”

“Quinn and Sarah,” she said.

“Oh. No one really knows exactly what happened,” her mother said.

“There must’ve been a story circulating.” And she was eager to focus on something besides her own troubles for a change. She could see Nick’s rain boots in the corner of the room and knew there would probably come a time—in the not-too-distant future—when she would have to make the difficult decision about what to do with them.

She couldn’t even imagine that. But she had a whole houseful of his belongings in Tampa, and if he didn’t come back, she’d have to decide what to do with all of it. Should she box it up and put it in storage? Stubbornly continue to wait? And if so, for how long?

Her mother seemed as reluctant as ever to repeat gossip, but she must’ve understood that what’d happened to Quinn might create a good distraction, because she finally relented. “Sarah claims he was having an affair, which caused her to fly into a jealous rage and stab him.”

This was not what Autumn had expected. “Did you say stab him?”

Her mother frowned. “I’m afraid so.”

“But…he must be okay. Laurie said he was here, helping his father run the restaurant.”

“She didn’t hit anything vital, thank goodness. But I heard he spent a few days in the hospital, so his wounds weren’t superficial, either.”

Autumn whistled as she imagined how bad their marriage must’ve been for something like that to happen. “I thought they’d be happy together. They dated for so long before they got married. It’s not as if they didn’t know each other well.” She sank onto the bed next to her suitcase. “Did he admit to cheating?”

“Not that I know of.”

“But you think he did—cheat, I mean.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised. Something had to have made her react so violently.”

Mary never gave the benefit of the doubt to a man. Autumn had noticed this before and assumed her father was to blame. Although Mary refused to talk about the past—went rigid as soon as Autumn mentioned her father—there were times, more of them as she got older, when she found herself wondering who he was and what he was like. Before Nick went missing, she’d told her mother that she was tempted to try to look him up, and Mary had been so appalled—that Autumn would have any interest in him when he was such a “bad person”—that she’d dropped the idea.

It was something she thought she might like to revisit, though. Times had changed. Nowadays, a simple DNA test could possibly tell her a great deal. And there were moments when she felt she should be allowed to fill in those blanks.

But she hated to proceed without her mother’s blessing. She owed Mary a degree of loyalty for being the parent who’d stuck with her.

Finished unpacking, she put her empty suitcase in the closet while trying to ignore Nick’s snorkel gear, which was also in there, changed into her bathing suit and cover-up, slipped on her flip-flops and grabbed her beach bag. She was on her way down the stairs when she heard her phone buzz with an incoming call.

Assuming it would be her mother or one of her children, wondering what was taking her so long, she dug it out of her bag so that she could answer. But according to Caller ID, the person attempting to reach her wasn’t a member of the family. It was Lyaksandro Olynyk, the Ukrainian private investigator she’d hired to look for Nick.

It was seven hours later in that part of the world. Why would he be calling her in the middle of the night?

 

Excerpted from The Bookstore on the Beach by Brenda Novak, Copyright © 2021 by Brenda Novak, Inc. Published by MIRA Books.

 

 


 





About the Author: 


Brenda Novak, a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, has penned over sixty novels. She is a five-time nominee for the RITA Award and has won the National Reader's Choice, the Bookseller's Best, the Bookbuyer's Best, and many other awards. She also runs Brenda Novak for the Cure, a charity to raise money for diabetes research (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she’s raised $2.5 million. For more about Brenda, please visit www.brendanovak.com.
 
SOCIAL:
TWITTER: @Brenda_Novak
FB: @BrendaNovakAuthor
Insta: @authorbrendanovak 
Goodreads