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Monday, November 27, 2023

Blog Tour: Review of The Wishing Bridge by Viola Shipman

 
Publisher: 
Graydon House (November 7, 2023)
Paperback: 336 pages

Workaholic Henrietta Wegner can feel her edge beginning to dull in middle age. Once the company’s hottest mergers and acquisitions executive, Henri can see the ambitious and impossibly young up-and-comers gunning for her job. When her boss makes it clear she’ll be starting the New Year unemployed unless she can close a big deal before the holidays, Henri impulsively tells him that she can convince her aging parents to sell Wegner’s—their iconic Frankenmuth, Michigan, Christmas store—to a massive, soulless corporation. It’s the kind of deal cool corporate Henri has built her career on.

Home for the holidays has typically meant a perfunctory twenty-four-hour visit for Henri, then back to Detroit as fast as her car will drive her. So turning up at the Wegner’s offices in early December raises some eyebrows: from her delighted, if puzzled, parents to her suspicious brother and curious childhood friends. But as Henri fields impatient texts from her boss while reconnecting with the magic of the store and warmth of her hometown, what sounded great in the boardroom begins to lose its luster in real life. She’s running out of time to pull the trigger on what could be the greatest success of her career…or the most awkward family holiday of her life.

My thoughts:

In The Wishing Bridge, Henrietta returns home in an attempt to talk her parents into selling their business to the big company she works for.  She is sure it will help save her job.  Can she get back into the Christmas spirit that she had when she was a child? 

I'll be honest, this just wasn't a book for me.  I had a hard time connecting with "Henri".  She is supposed to be in her 50s but she is written much younger.  I almost felt like the character was originally supposed to be in her 30s maybe (?), but she was aged up for an unknown reason.  I also had a big issue with the beginning where things like certain toys were mentioned as being in a 1975 toy catalogue that didn't exist until a couple of years later.  If you are going to throw in name brands like Simon, Star Wars and Nerf, at least make sure the year fits the toys.  This reads very much like a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie.  I know there are a lot of people who l enjoyed this one, so it's probably a me thing.  Give it a shot.




About the author

Wade Rouse is a popular award-winning memoirist and internationally bestselling author of twelve books, which have been translated into twenty languages and selected as Today show Must-Reads, Indie Next Picks and Michigan Notable Books. Rouse writes fiction under his grandma’s name, Viola Shipman, to honor the woman whose heirlooms inspire his writing. He lives in Michigan and California, and hosts Wine & Words with Wade, A Literary Happy Hour, every Thursday. –This text refers to the paperback edition.
TLC tour schedule:
Monday, November 6th@donasbooks
Wednesday, November 8th@readingwithremy
Thursday, November 9thThe Romance Dish
Friday, November 10th@coffee.break.book.reviews
Saturday, November 11th@booksimperfectcondition 
Monday, November 13th:  @nobookmark_noproblem 
Wednesday, November 15th@temmathomas
Thursday, November 16th:  @randi_reads 
Friday, November 17th@nurse_bookie
Friday, November 17thReading Reality
Saturday, November 18th@webreakforbooks 
Monday, November 20th@subakka.bookstuff and Subakka.bookstuff
Wednesday, November 22nd@shopcoffeekids 
Friday, November 24th@wordnerdbookworm
Saturday, November 25thLaura’s Reviews and @laurasreviews_1
Monday, November 27th:  From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, November 28thStranded in Chaos and @sarastrand9438
Wednesday, November 29th@a_book_read_in_jersey 
Friday, December 1stGirl Who Reads
Friday, December 1st@everlasting.bookworm 
Saturday, December 2nd@readdrinkandbemary
 

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Review: The Bellwoods Game by Celia Krampien

Author: Celia Krampien
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: July 2023

Everyone knows Fall Hollow is haunted. It has been ever since Abigail Snook went into the woods many years ago, never to be seen again. Since then, it’s tradition for the sixth graders at Beckett Elementary to play the Bellwoods Game on Halloween night. Three kids are chosen to go into the woods. Whoever rings the bell there wins the game and saves the town for another year, but if Abigail’s ghost captures the players first, the spirit is let loose to wreak havoc on Fall Hollow—or so the story goes.

Now that it’s Bailee’s year to play, she can finally find out what really happens. And legend has it the game’s winner gets a wish. Maybe, just maybe, if Bailee wins, she can go back to the way things used to be before her grandma got sick and everyone at school started hating her. But when the night begins, everything the kids thought they knew about the game—and each other—is challenged. One thing’s for something sinister is at play…waiting for them all in the woods.

The Bellwoods Game is a middle grade horror book that is the perfect book to read around Halloween.  In the story, Bailee is determined to play and win the annual Bellwoods game.  It's a sixth grade rite of passage.  Three kids are chosen and the one who rings the bell can save the town.

This is exactly the type of book that I would have loved as a middle school reader. The characters were fun.  I liked all of them and how they ended up helping each other in the game.  Even the ones that didn't get along. All of the kids who participate have a secret or issue that the end up having to face during the game.  The book is really creepy and would be a great intro into the horror genre for a middle schooler.  The main villain was also well written and gave me the chills.  I don't want to spoil the story and tell you who wins or if the town was saved.  I highly recommend this one and think it would be a great addition to any middle school library.


Saturday, November 25, 2023

Blog Tour: Review & Excerpt from Face of Greed by James L'Etoile

Face of Greed by James L’Etoile Banner

Face of Greed

by James L'Etoile

November 6 - December 1, 2023 Virtual Book Tour

Face of Greed by James L'Etoile

Greed, corruption, and betrayal— no murder is as simple as it seems

When a prominent Sacramento businessman is killed and his wife injured in a brutal home invasion, Detective Emily Hunter and her partner, Javier Medina, are called to investigate. At first glance it seems like a crime of opportunity gone horribly wrong, but Emily soon finds there might be more to both the crime and the dead man.

The high-stakes investigation also comes at a time when Emily is caring for her mother who has early-onset Alzheimer’s, and Emily struggles to balance her job with her personal life. The city’s political elite want the case solved quickly, but darker forces want it buried.

Could there have been a motive behind the attack, making it more than a random home invasion? Emily uncovers clues that cause her to reconsider her understanding of the crime. A deadly game of greed and deception pulls Emily deeper into the shadowy world of gang violence and retribution. She has to walk the razor’s edge to identify the killer—without becoming the next victim.

Praise for Face of Greed:

"An incredible story that grabs you by the throat and tosses you across the room. L’Etoile is a gem."
—J.T. Ellison, USA Today best-selling author

"James L’Etoile is such a talented and terrific storyteller! His real-life experience in the criminal justice system gives his compelling, high-stakes thrillers an authenticity that only a savvy insider can provide. You'll be turning the pages as fast as you can!"
—Hank Phillippi Ryan, USA Today best-selling author

"Smart-mouthed, tough, pull-no-punches Emily will do whatever it takes to solve the case, and she and Javier keep investigating until they finally uncover the tragic, shocking truth. The suspenseful, twist-a-minute, fast-moving plot . . . make[s] this an outstanding must-read."
Booklist (Starred Review)

"Face of Greed is yet another fantastic offering from James L'Etoile, thoroughly enjoyable, a true winner—Bravo!"
—Baron Birtcher Los Angeles Times best-selling author

"L’Etoile’s long career in California criminal justice lends veracity to this page-turner—the courtrooms and precincts feel uncommonly lived-in. Admirers of strong female protagonists will be eager to see more from Hunter down the line."
Publishers Weekly

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller, Procedural
Published by: Oceanview Publishing
Publication Date: November 2023
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 9781608095889 (ISBN10: 1608095886)
Series: Detective Emily Hunter, Book 1
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads | Oceanview Publishing

My Thoughts:

Face of Greed is a police procedural featuring detective Emily Hunter and her partner Javier Medina.  They are called to the scene of the murder of a prominent business man.  The Mayor and Chief of Police want this case wrapped up quickly, but Emily is determined to solve the case no matter where it leads.

I thought this was a really enjoyable mystery.  There were a of of twists and turns.  I had one of the suspects pegged from the start, but the rest of the story was a surprise.  I read this in one sitting. I really liked Emily's character.  She was a great detective because she was smart and took her job seriously. What I loved the most about the book was Emily's relationship with her partner Javier.  Their banter was effortless and just really fun.  I would definitely want to read more about this duo in future cases.  I hope if there is a next book, we get to see more of Emily and Brian.  That seems like it would be a cute relationship.  I definitely recommend this one.



Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

Emily Hunter learned to be wary of open doorways when she rolled up to a call. In the five years of her assignment to the detective bureau of the Sacramento Police Department, she knew bad things often lurked in the dark behind partially open doors. When it was the front door of your own home, at seven in the evening, the anxiety bit deep.

She crept close, listening for anything or anyone who didn’t belong. Her hand tapped the grip of the Glock on her hip as she climbed the stairs. The lights were on, and the television blared an infomercial for a product promising the end of dry skin.

“Mom?”

Emily had moved her mother in with her four months ago after the seventy-year-old retired teacher suffered a series of memory lapses and household accidents. The advancing scourge of dementia meant Connie Hunter was unable to live a safe, independent life in her own home.

“Mom, are you there? Sheila?” Emily called out for the caregiver she’d hired to stay with her mother while Emily worked long hours as a detective.

When no response came from within, Emily’s subconscious went to a very dark place. She’d investigated a series of home invasions in the city where gangbangers targeted the homes of elderly people to terrorize and loot money and prescription drugs from the weak and powerless.

The front door hadn’t been kicked in, and there was no sign of a forced entry. Emily entered and scanned the living room—except for the missing mother and caregiver, the home appeared normal.

She turned off the television and heard the kitchen faucet running. A quick look into her remodeled kitchen found the water running over a sink full of dishes, but no one there. She shut the water off and spotted Connie’s GPS-enabled pendant on the kitchen counter. She held the tracker in her hand.

Emily heard the front door slam followed by the metallic click of the deadbolt. She heard the voices before stepping into the living room. Sheila had draped a comforter from the sofa over Connie’s frail shoulders. Her mother was wearing a light housecoat and a pair of fuzzy pink slippers. She shivered as Sheila rubbed her arms, warming her.

“What happened? Where were you?” Emily asked.

“I found her wandering down the street, near the park,” Sheila said.

Connie looked small and fragile in the housecoat, one too thin for the cold spring air.

“Mom, what were you thinking?”

“It was time to go,” Connie said with a shiver in her voice.

“Go? Go where?”

“Home.”

Emily bit her lip. It wasn’t the first time her mother mentioned going home, or a need to do something somewhere else. Sundowner’s Syndrome, the doctors called it. A little gift that came with dementia—confusion, a sudden surge in anxiety, and a feeling that she was lost. In a way, she was.

“Mom, this is home now,” Emily said.

“I swear, I turned my back for a second while I was finishing up the dinner dishes, and she slipped out.”

“She hasn’t pulled that one before. What happened?”

“She seemed a little more confused than usual but couldn’t tell me why. She was watching her shows, then walked out. I can’t be responsible for her wandering off. You might want to think about moving her into a facility—”

“I’m not putting my mom in a home.” Emily draped the GPS locket around her mother’s neck.

“Why weren’t you wearing this?”

“That’s not mine.”

“Yes, it is. Remember? We talked about it.”

Connie didn’t respond, but the look behind her eyes was one of confusion and uncertainty.

Emily’s work cell phone vibrated in her pocket. Calls after seven in the evening weren’t telemarketers who should be banished to a leper colony. These nighttime calls invariably meant someone suffered a beating, rape, or another murder in a city with no shortage of victims. In earlier years, she’d wondered if she didn’t answer the phone—if she let it ring until it stopped—would the crime still occur? Could she prevent another victim from ending up in some desolate field? A few hundred calls later, her na├»ve hope evaporated, and she came to terms with the fact the flow of victims in this city was never-ending.

She stabbed the answer button. “Hunter here.”

“Evening, Detective, please hold for the Watch Commander,” a woman’s voice instructed.

While Emily waited, she plodded to the office in the rear of her home and removed a fresh notebook out of the bottom drawer. On the first line of the first page, she wrote, “1935 hours, rec’d call from Watch Commander.”

“Hi Emily, Lieutenant Ford here. Initial report is a home invasion gone bad. One victim dead and one injured.”

“Another one? Where are we talking about?”

“The location is . . .” Emily heard rustling paper in the background. “Here it is. It’s 1357 46th Street. That’s a nice neighborhood.”

“It used to be anyway. I’ll call Medina and get there as soon as I can,” Emily responded.

“I called him first. His name was up on the rotation. Javier said he would meet you on scene. Emily, there’s something else you need to know.”

Emily fell silent.

“The Chief’s already there. He’s taking a personal interest in this one.”

“Oh sweet Jesus! That’s never a good sign.” Emily tossed the notebook on the desk.

“Gotta mean this is a high profile case. So, watch your back.”

“I appreciate the heads up. I’ll be there as soon as I tie up something.” She disconnected the call and tried to figure out how she could work the case remotely. Maybe her partner, Javier, could hold up his phone and livestream the crime scene. Who was she kidding?

“Sheila?”

Emily found her mother and Sheila parked in the living room watching a television show that was popular in the sixties. Connie had calmed, and her face was relaxed.

“I can stay,” Sheila said. “I overheard the call. I think she’s calm now. It won’t be long until she’s off to bed. I’ll keep an eye on her.”

“Thank you. Call me if there is any problem and please make her wear that GPS pendant. I’ll figure something out . . .”

As Emily changed into a fresh blouse, the thought of Chief Clark wandering through the crime scene kept surfacing. Whatever drew the top cop out to a crime scene after dark wasn’t going to bode well for the assigned detectives.

Once in her dark blue Ford Crown Victoria, Emily let the defroster attack the rapidly-forming condensation on the windshield. Sections of the window cleared and showcased the obnoxious blue Christmas lights her neighbor clung onto four months after the holiday season. They blinked on and off at once, stabbing a constant strobe into the detective’s bedroom window—another flimsy excuse for her insomnia.

As the car warmed up, Emily got out and scraped a thin film of ice from the driver’s window with the side of her hand. She stole a glance down the quiet street, gathered her shoulder length dark hair in a ponytail, and stepped back into the shadows, away from the car. She followed the fence line to the neighbor’s glowing stale yuletide shrine. Emily pulled the seventh and tenth small bulbs from their sockets and partially rethreaded the hellish electrical orbs back in the strand. The entire string blacked out, and she basked in the electric silence without the hellish current knifing out into the night. Then she returned to the car, backed out of the driveway, and wondered when her lazy-ass neighbor would recognize he’d become a victim of a drive-by-bulbing.

Emily made a right on J Street and sped to 46th, where the glow from the blinking red, blue, and yellow lights of emergency vehicles exacted some sort of revenge for her neighbor’s light display. Residents of this upscale enclave didn’t typically park their Benz, Jag, or Maserati on the street. Their precious status symbols were locked away in garages, or behind walled courtyards. She recognized the silver Crown Vic in front of her as the Mayor’s car and crept forward until her front bumper came within an inch of the Mayor’s sedan, effectively boxing the politician’s ride against a fire vehicle with a bright red and white sign warning, “Keep Back 100 Feet.”

“The Chief and the Mayor at the crime scene. Fricken awesome.”

The residence dwarfed the other homes on the block by double. A massive red brick front, coupled with heavy black iron gates to the right side of the residence, gave the place the feel of an embassy compound. Emily approached the front door, where an officer stood post, ensuring only official personnel entered the crime scene. She identified herself to the young officer in his freshly pressed dark blue uniform. After signing in on a clipboard held by the officer, Emily snagged a pair of blue paper booties from a box on the porch and pulled them over her shoes. She stepped through the front door and immediately noticed blood spatters on the marble floor, each marked with yellow plastic numbers. She grabbed a set of nitrile gloves and pulled them on before she accidentally contaminated the scene.

Emily followed the sound of voices and the strobes of camera flashes to a room down from the entryway. She paused at a large living room space where a petite blond woman sobbed on a white leather sofa. A paramedic knelt in front of her and tended to a red lump on her forehead. Detective Javier Medina sat in the chair next to her.

Javier and Emily became partners six months ago, and while he had more time in the department, Emily’s tenure in-grade as a detective made her the senior investigator. Unlike many of his fellow officers, he didn’t resent a woman—particularly one with fewer years behind the badge—holding the lead position.

Emily thought Javier possessed a natural inclination to the job. He could coax a confession from a suspect, or listen to a victim with an honest sense of compassion.

Javier nodded at Emily and pointed toward the kitchen. The Mayor came strolling out with a glass of wine, handing it to the woman.

“Thank you, Johnny.”

Mayor Stone perched next to her on the sofa and held her hand—the one not holding a wine glass.

“It’s probably not a good idea to drink anything until we make sure you’re checked out. You took a pretty solid blow to the head,” Javier said.

“Lori needs a little something to calm her nerves, something you certainly aren’t doing,” Mayor Stone said.

Emily continued down the hallway and located the hub of activity in a well-appointed office. It gave off more of a library vibe, with floor to ceiling polished mahogany bookcases on the two sidewalls and subdued lighting through Tiffany glass lampshades. A set of French doors with large windows opened out onto a manicured garden.

Chief of Police Thomas Clark, a tall man with the weathered face of a ranch hand, stood off to one side as an evidence technician framed-up a series of photographs of a dead man, face down in a pool of blood, in the center of the room.

“I’m glad you and Medina caught this one, Detective,” the Chief said, somber with a glance toward the Mayor.

“Chief,” Emily replied with a quick nod of her head to the living room and the city politician.

Chief Clark shrugged. “Long-time family friend is what I understand. Sure seems there’s more to it than that. She called him first thing after 911.”

Emily circled behind a medical examiner’s assistant who secured paper bags over the victim’s hands to preserve any forensic evidence. A uniformed officer stood near the patio door and observed the activity.

“You first on scene?” Emily asked.

“That would be me,” the officer said. “My partner and I responded to a 911 call from the residence. We found the wife in here kinda hanging over him. She seemed pretty messed up with what she stumbled into.”

Emily scanned the overturned furniture, files strewn on the floor, said, “What were they looking for? Wife give you any indication?”

The officer shook his head.

She noticed a red smear on the officer’s gloved hand. “Did you touch the body?”

The officer held up his bloody right latex glove and explained, “Yeah, I checked for a pulse and found his throat slit from ear to ear.”

Emily nodded. “You have an ID on this guy yet?”

“Yep, sure do. That’s the homeowner, Roger Townsend. He and his wife, Lori, are the only two occupants. She came home and interrupted the suspects.”

“She able to give any ID on them?”

“Detective Medina is with her now.”

A medical examiner’s assistant unfolded a plastic tarp next to the body to contain any fibers or trace evidence. The assistant said to whoever listened, “We’re gonna roll him now.”

The body stuck on the hardwood flooring where the thickened blood adhered to Roger Townsend’s face. A sickening elastic snap sounded as his head released from the floor. When the body rolled face-up, Townsend’s dead eyes stared up at the assembled group hovering over him. One eye was puffy, his cheek welted from a blow. The body settled, and Roger’s jaw fell slack, exposing the gaping slash wound to his neck. The wound severed the major blood vessels and nearly cut through to his spine. The victim’s head remained attached only by the thick muscle bundle at the back of his neck.

Deputy Forensic Pathologist Elizabeth White knelt alongside the body. “Ward, get a shot of this, please.” She pointed to the gash in Roger’s throat.

One of her staff stepped in and snapped a series of photographs of the victim’s body in the new position.

“Our subject suffered a gunshot wound to the back, but I see no evidence of an exit wound,” Dr. White said.

“COD?” Emily asked.

“There’s no surviving an attack this severe. Exsanguination—he bled out right where he dropped.”

“Looks like he took a beating before he died. Any defensive wounds?”

“None evident now. I’ll be able to tell you more later, Emily. We’ve taken liver temps and gotten everything we can from the scene. I’m ready to transport the body. I've tentatively set TOD approximately two hours ago. You need anything else before they cart him off?” Dr. White asked.

“When can I take a look at your crime scene photos?”

“By the time you return to the bureau, they’ll be downloaded and emailed to you.”

“Thanks, Doc,” Emily said. She remembered a few years ago the same photos would take hours. A vestige of the past that labeled her as one of the last dinosaurs to leave the comfort of paper and convert to the digital age. New detectives coming on board now would never know the joys of film developing, paper map books, and carbon paper.

The Chief motioned for Emily, who had paused behind the victim’s desk over a stack of papers spread out on the slick bloody surface. She felt the papers were too neat, too tidy, in a room that suffered a tossing. Emily used her phone and snapped a photo.

“Here’s what they came for,” the Chief said and pointed to the open floor safe.

Emily approached the floor safe, squatted, and shot photos of the high-end safe and the sliding cabinet capable of hiding it from view. She ran her gloved hand around the lip of the safe. Nothing felt rough or out of alignment, telling her the safe wasn’t forced or cut open; someone opened it using the combination lock. Emily started to stand when a white smudge in the bottom of the dark safe caught her attention. A small trail of light-colored crystalline powder stood out on the safe’s black steel floor.

“Hand me an evidence vial, would you,” Emily said to one of the crime scene techs behind her.

She grasped the clear plastic tube in one hand and swept up the powder into the container with a plastic scraper. After she capped the vial, Emily used a pen from her pocket, labeled it with her name, badge number, and sequence number of the sample. “I want to make sure this is tested back at the lab. Not enough to do a field test without destroying the whole sample, but I’d swear it’s meth.”

“Then it belonged to the killer. He must’ve dropped it when he stole whatever Roger kept in the safe,” the Mayor said. So much for keeping the crime scene secured.

“We don’t know yet, Sir,” Emily answered.

“What we do know is Roger Townsend wasn’t involved in the drug trade.”

Emily stood and faced the Mayor. “And exactly how do we know that?” The irritation on the detective’s face bled over into her voice. At five-six, she needed to look up at the politician.

“Townsend held power and influence in this community. He ran my last reelection campaign and donated a significant amount of money to several prominent legislators. He had no need to be involved in drugs.”

Emily shrugged and replied, “Maybe it’s how he raised his donated cash. If he was involved in politics, then he’s dirty.”

The Chief stepped between the two, and Javier caught his partner’s eye as he stuck his head in around the corner. He had a knack of sensing Emily’s fuse of self-destruction burned short and knew to extract her before this confrontation with the Mayor exploded.

“Excuse me, Mr. Mayor, I’m done with Mrs. Townsend. I’m sure she would appreciate a moment of your time,” Javier said.

Mayor Stone’s eyes narrowed, and the muscles on his jaw tightened into thick cords on his square face. He glared hard at Emily, then turned and strode out of the room toward the front of the home.

The Chief turned to Emily. “Don’t poke the bear.”

“What? Because our victim here ran in some high-powered political circles, I’m supposed to ignore the evidence?”

“No one is saying sweep it under the rug. Make sure you use a little diplomacy and document the hell out of everything.”

A metallic rattle interrupted the conversation, and the medical examiner’s team rolled a compact folding gurney into the room. One of the two men opened up the gurney and lowered it close to the ground next to the victim’s plastic-wrapped body.

“You ready for us to take him?” one of the M.E.’s staff asked.

Emily turned to Javier, who nodded and responded, “Yep. He’s ready for you. We’ve gotten what we need.”

While the M.E.’s technicians bundled the body and placed it onto the gurney, Emily asked her partner, “When did the Mayor get here?”

Javier leaned back against a bookshelf. “He was already here when I arrived. And I got here twenty minutes after the first units rolled up. They caught me on my way home from a date.” He grimaced and closed his eyes immediately after divulging his abbreviated date.

“Really? A date? Ended kinda early didn’t it? I take it you struck out?”

Javier’s cheeks flushed, and he approached the victim’s desk and sorted through the documents. “It was fine, thank you very much.” Javier changed the topic. “I called the Chief and let him know Mayor Stone happened to be here consoling the widow when I arrived.”

“Yeah, good call.”

“Turns out Mr. Mayor lives a few blocks away.”

“Uh huh,” Emily responded. “What did you get from the wife?”

“Not much. She came home, found her husband on the floor, and someone clocked her from behind. When she came to, she worked herself free from a phone cord, but by then the killer had disappeared.”

“She get a look at who hit her?”

“No.”

“How long was she out?” Emily asked.

Javier paused from sifting through the paperwork on the victim’s desk and said, “She doesn’t know, but it took her about ten minutes to work free from the phone cord around her wrists.”

“You buy her story?”

“I don’t know. If someone clocked me from behind, I wouldn’t have a goose-egg on my forehead.”

“You think she’s holding back?”

“I do. Perhaps not intentionally. Could be shock,” Javier said.

“Did the wife tell you if anyone else knew the combination, or what he kept in the safe?”

“No, she didn’t mention the safe.”

“Well,” Emily said. “Let’s go ask her.”

The newly widowed Mrs. Townsend parked on the white leather sofa with Mayor Stone, her hands held tightly in his. “Lori, we’ll handle everything. You need to take care of yourself now,” he said.

“Mrs. Townsend, I need to ask you a few questions,” Emily said in a soft voice. For all of her faults, the detective handled the survivors of murder victims with sensitivity and compassion. She didn’t refer to them as the “next-of-kin,” which implied they weren’t victims of the crime. Wives, brothers, husbands, and children who experienced a loved one ripped from their lives were victims. The only difference is they remained behind and continued to suffer the loss. They bore the pain of surviving.

Mayor Stone dropped Lori Townsend’s hands and said, “Detective, this isn’t necessary right now—she’s been through quite enough, I would think.”

The small-framed blonde turned in her seat and crossed her legs. Blood stained the knees of Mrs. Townsend’s spandex tights, and when she noticed the red patches on her legs, she became conscious of them and tried to cover the spots with her hands. The red polish on her right index fingernail was chipped and she seemed self-conscious about it. “I’ve already told the other detective what happened. I don’t know what else I can say,” she said.

“I realize you’ve spoken with Detective Medina, and we know you’ve been through an ordeal. I’d appreciate a few moments of your time to help us find the person responsible for the death of your husband.” Emily sat on the corner of a large white marble coffee table directly across from Mrs. Townsend.

“Detective,” the Mayor warned.

“It’s all right Johnny,” Lori responded, putting a hand on the Mayor’s knee. “Go ahead, Detective. I’m not sure what happened. Maybe it will help me put the pieces together, too.”

“Thanks, Mrs. Townsend.”

“Please, call me Lori,” she responded while she pulled her blond hair together, quickly securing it back in a ponytail, readying for a fight. Her stiff posture told Emily this woman was used to being in control.

“Tell me, how many people knew your husband kept a safe in his office?”

“I really couldn’t say. I mean, he didn’t do a great deal of business here at the house. Every so often he’d hold a meeting in his office, so someone could’ve seen him open the safe.”

“I’ll need a list of those people, Mrs. Townsend.”

“Really now, Detective.” Lori let out a nervous laugh. “I’m sure Councilman Perkins, Senator Rodriguez, and the Mayor didn’t conspire to murder my husband.”

“How many people knew the combination to the safe, Mrs. Townsend?” Emily asked.

“That was Roger’s safe. I don’t think anyone else knew the combination.” Her face hardened as she thought about the question. “You don’t think I had anything to do with this, do you? Roger never gave me the combination. That was his baby.”

The Mayor puffed up and put his hand on Lori’s shoulder. “I’m sure that’s not what the detective meant. Did you, Detective?” He cut an icy glare at Emily.

“I asked if anyone else other than your husband could’ve opened the safe?”

“No, Roger was the only one with the combination.”

“What did your husband keep in the safe?”

“I know he kept some cash in there, along with business papers.”

“How much money would he keep in there?”

“I don’t know, not much; maybe ten—twenty thousand or so?”

Emily considered her response and wondered what kind of world it would be where ten grand was pocket change. She decided to throw her a curve and asked, “Did your husband keep any drugs in the safe?”

“Hunter, damn it! I’ve already told you Townsend was not involved with illicit drugs. You’re done here. Lori, I’m taking you to the hospital,” the Mayor announced as he stood and extended his hand to Lori.

Lori Townsend drew herself up from the sofa in a slow and calculated way that carried a feline quality. She stood up on her toes and kissed the Mayor’s cheek. “Thank you, Johnny, I’ve had quite enough for one night.”

As the Mayor held out a jacket for Lori, she turned her back on Emily. “Roger wasn’t into drugs. He wasn’t that kind of man.” She shrugged into the jacket. The Mayor put his arm around her shoulder and escorted her out of the room.

Javier leaned against the hallway near the living room, said, “Well, that went well.” He paused until the front door sounded. “The Mayor’s all twisted up with this one. There’s more here than some family friend connection. Trying to cover some shady campaign financing?”

Emily stood at an assortment of photographs of Mr. and Mrs. Townsend arranged on a small white enamel table. Javier picked up one of the silver frames and handed it to Emily. A group of smiling people in black tie dress; Roger Townsend and his wife, Lori, with another attractive blond woman and Mayor John Stone.

From behind them, a young uniformed officer called out, “Hey, Hunter, move your car so I can drive the Mayor home with his prom date.”

Emily tossed the officer her keys. “I’ll follow you out. Give me a minute to finish up.”

“Poor kid, I wonder what he did to deserve his assignment?” Javier asked.

The cell phone in Javier’s pocket played the first few notes of Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and he pulled it out quickly. “Detective Medina.” He listened for a few seconds and hung up. “That was the Medical Examiner’s Office. They’ve scheduled the post for eight in the morning. That’s quick.”

Emily nodded. “Everything about this case is quick—too quick.”

***

Excerpt from Face of Greed by James L'Etoile. Copyright 2023 by James L'Etoile. Reproduced with permission from James L'Etoile. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

James L'Etoile

James L’Etoile uses his twenty-nine years behind bars as an influence in his award-winning novel, short stories, and screenplays. He is a former associate warden in a maximum-security prison, a hostage negotiator, and director of California’s state parole system. Black Label earned the Silver Falchion for Best Book by an Attending Author at Killer Nashville and he was nominated for The Bill Crider Award for short fiction. Dead Drop garnered a Lefty and Anthony Award nomination, and a Silver Falchion Award, and a PSWA win for best novel.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Spotlight: My Husband's Lies by Liz Lawler


Author: Liz Lawler
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication date:  November 2023
Buy Link:

The police are coming, they’re going to arrest me.’ My blood runs cold at his words. My husband is accused of murder. He swears he is innocent – so why won’t he tell me where he really was that night?
I feel so lucky to have my handsome husband Mark and our blue-eyed little boy. Everyone says we’re the perfect family. I used to believe them.
But everything changes when Mark comes home from a work trip with dark circles under his eyes. That night I jump at a hammering at the door. The police want to question him about the murder of a beautiful, blonde young woman. Mark swears he had nothing to do with it, that she was a colleague, nothing more.
Mark is a respected airline pilot, and the model husband and father. It seems impossible that he would be involved in something like this. But he won’t say a word about where he really was. I believe that he’s not a killer – but I know he’s hiding something. It wouldn’t be the first time.
Then my husband is attacked. I sit by his hospital bed praying for him to wake up, tears streaming down my face. The police say it’s an accident. But what if someone has done this to him?
I go rigid with fear when I see someone hidden in the garden, watching the house. Are they coming to hurt us too? I’ll do anything to protect my precious little boy – and I have to start by uncovering my husband’s lies...
An unbelievably tense and twisty psychological thriller that will leave you breathless for more! Perfect for fans of Kathryn Croft, T.M. Logan and Ruth Heald.

Author Bio:

Liz Lawler grew up sharing pants, socks, occasionally a toothbrush, sleeping four to a bed. Born in Chatham and partly raised in Dublin, she is one of fourteen children. She spent over twenty years as a nurse and has since fitted in working as a flight attendant, a general manager of a five star hotel, and is now working with trains. She became an author in 2017 when her debut novel Don’t Wake Up was published by Twenty7.


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Monday, November 20, 2023

Review: Dead Mountain by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

Author: Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date:  August 2023

In 2008, nine mountaineers failed to return from a winter backpacking trip in the New Mexico mountains. At their last campsite, searchers found a bizarre scene: something had appeared at the door of their tent so terrifying that it impelled them to slash their way out and flee barefoot to certain death in a blizzard. Despite a diligent search, only six bodies were found, two violently crushed and inexplicably missing body parts. The case, given the code name “Dead Mountain” by the FBI, was never solved.

Now, two more bodies from the lost expedition are unexpectedly discovered in a cave, one a grisly suicide. Young FBI Agent Corrie Swanson teams up with archaeologist Nora Kelly to investigate what really happened on that fateful trip fifteen years ago—and to find the ninth victim. But their search awakens a long-slumbering evil, which pursues Corrie and Nora with a vengeance, determined to prevent the final missing corpse from ever coming to light.

Dead Mountain is the fourth book in the Nora Kelly/ Corrie Swanson series.  This time around, they are trying to figure out what really happened to nine climbers back in 2008.  It seems the government and possibly other groups don't want the truth to come out.  I have been a big fan of this series, so my expectations were really high here.  I will admit, this was probably my least favorite of the series.

I loved the mystery part. Following along with Corrie as she put the pieces of the puzzle together was enjoyable.  I also liked how Corrie is growing as an FBI agent.  And her relationship with a certain Sherriff was fun to watch.  What I wasn't a fan of was the side plot involving Nora's brother.  It was unnecessary and should not have been included.  It really added nothing the the story.  It was also unrealistic in how it all played out. I also wanted more of Corrie and Nora working together.  There was a huge lack of that in this book.  Their relationship and interactions are what I really like about this series.  I would still recommend this one as a part of the overall series. It just wasn't my favorite.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Review: The Puzzle Master by Danielle Trussoni

Author: Danielle Trussoni
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: June 2023

All the world is a puzzle, and Mike Brink—a celebrated and ingenious puzzle constructor—understands its patterns like no one else. Once a promising Midwestern football star, Brink was transformed by a traumatic brain injury that caused a rare medical condition: acquired savant syndrome. The injury left him with a mental superpower—he can solve puzzles in ways ordinary people can't. But it also left him deeply isolated, unable to fully connect with other people.

Everything changes after Brink meets Jess Price, a woman serving thirty years in prison for murder who hasn't spoken a word since her arrest five years before. When Price draws a perplexing puzzle, her psychiatrist believes it will explain her crime and calls Brink to solve it. What begins as a desire to crack an alluring cipher quickly morphs into an obsession with Price herself. She soon reveals that there is something more urgent, and more dangerous, behind her silence, thrusting Brink into a hunt for the truth.

The quest takes Brink through a series of interlocking enigmas, but the heart of the mystery is the God Puzzle, a cryptic ancient prayer circle created by the thirteenth-century Jewish mystic Abraham Abulafia. As Brink navigates a maze of clues, and his emotional entanglement with Price becomes more intense, he realizes that there are powerful forces at work that he cannot escape.


The Puzzle Master  features Mike who has the ability to solve most if not all puzzles due to a brain injury.  He is asked by a psychiatrist to interview a woman convicted of murder. She hasn't spoken since her conviction and has has left a puzzle that no one can solve. I was really looking forward to reading this book.  The premise looked intriguing.  I'm a fan of puzzles and mysteries. Sadly, I ended up disappointed.

I was liking the book for the first 1/4 of the book. But the last 3/4 was dull, confusing and made no sense.  I felt like the author didn't exactly know what kind of book it was supposed to be, so she threw everything in and stirred. What came out was unfocused and a mess. The solution to the puzzle was laughable and made no sense.  I literally rolled my eyes.  I really don't have much else to say.  I disliked the plot so much that not even the characters could redeem the book.  I honestly wouldn't recommend this one.


Saturday, November 18, 2023

Spotlight: Excerpt from Plot Twist by Erin La Rosa

 


Author: Erin La Rosa 
ISBN: 9781335458117
Publication Date: November 14, 2023
Publisher: Canary Street Press
18.99 US | 23.99 CAN

Readers who love books about books will fall for Erin La Rosa's latest rom com—a friends (with benefits)-to-lovers story about a romance author who's never been in love, and needs to find out why before her next manuscript is due! For fans of BY THE BOOK and BOOK LOVERS.
Romance author Sophie Lyon’s ironic secret just went viral: she’s never been in love. Though her debut novel made readers swoon, Sophie’s having trouble getting her new characters to happily-ever-after, and she blames it on her own uninspired love life. With a manuscript deadline looming, Sophie makes an ambitious plan to overcome her writer’s block: reunite with her exes to learn why she's never fallen in love—and document it all for her millions of new online followers. Which also means facing her ex-girlfriend Carla, the one person Sophie could have loved.

Luckily, Sophie’s reclusive landlord, Dash Montrose—a former teen heartthrob—has social media all figured out and offers to help. But he doesn't mention that he’s an anonymous online crafter, a hobby that helps him maintain his sobriety. No one knows about his complicated relationship with alcohol and he intends to keep it that way. His family is Hollywood royalty, so Dash has to steer clear of scandal.
As Sophie and Dash grow closer, they discover a heat between them that rivals Dash's pottery kiln. But Sophie needs to figure out who she is outside her relationships, and Dash isn’t sure he’s stable enough for the commitment she deserves. So Sophie suggests what any good romance author would: a friends-with-benefits arrangement. Surely a casual relationship won’t cause any trouble…
 
Buy Links: 
Harlequin 
BookShop.org 
Barnes & Noble 
Books A Million 
Amazon 
 
Excerpt:

Sophie Lyon was not in a good place. 

     More specifically, she’d had one (or three) too many the night before. So instead of falling asleep on her bed, she was lying on the couch with a paperback book as a makeshift pillow. Her legs were tucked up in the fetal position inside her billowy dress. And as she licked her lips, she tasted vodka and fried chicken, which she didn’t remember drinking or eating. 

     She attempted to open her eyes, but her lashes stuck together from the makeup she’d forgotten to remove the night before. With the help of her index finger and thumb, she managed to peel one lid open. White-hot summer light poured in through the arched living-room window and her mint green walls, a color she’d specifically chosen for its soothing properties, were mockingly chipper.

     But even more unsettling was the book on the coffee table directly in front of her, Whisked Away. Sophie’s first published book. She closed her one good eye and wished she’d never opened it. 

     Her mom had always dreamed about Sophie filling an entire bookshelf with all her titles, the years of working multiple day jobs while tinkering on romance books finally worth the struggle. But, as it turned out, Whisked Away would be Sophie’s one and only book. Had she known she’d be a one-hit wonder, she wouldn’t have ordered the little placard for her writing desk: Ask Me about My Tropes. 

    The worst part was that she had sold a follow-up book—or, at least, a pitch plus the first three chapters—but she hadn’t been able to finish The Love Drought (a title so tragically similar to her own personal problems that it made her cringe). She’d been given multiple extensions but missed all of them. And, per her contract, her publisher had the right to terminate their deal if those deadlines weren’t met. But no matter how many drafts she started, Sophie couldn’t find her way to the happily ever after that all romance books promised and that she loved.

    The phone call with her agent started with We need to talk… and ended with You have six weeks to finish this book or your contract, plus the advance, will be taken back.

    She’d spent most of that advance, though, along with the royalty checks that grew smaller and smaller as interest in her last book waned. She needed money from turning in the next book if she wanted to continue paying for things like food or a place to stay.

    She should’ve seen the implosion coming. Her horoscope had warned that the entire month of June would be bad for important communication. But the damage was done: Sophie was a romance author with writer’s block, and in six weeks’ time, she’d lose her publishing deal.

    So she’d done the only thing she knew would make her feel better: called Poppy. And her best friend had suggested a night out at their favorite downtown karaoke bar to drown away the loud whir of failure. 

    She cautiously sat up, then settled her feet into the woven jute rug. Her legs were as firm as Jell-O when she stood. Still, she managed to make it to the hallway mirror, where she saw that her normally side-swept curtain bangs had morphed into Medusa, snakelike tendrils across her forehead, and she had more flakes on her face than her pet goldfish had in his bowl.

    She cringed. Rain Boots. Her goldfish was twelve years old and the longest relationship she’d ever had. She planted her hand on the wall for support and shuffled over to her bedroom where a large glass fishbowl sat on her bedside table. Rain Boots swam in the exact middle and blinked at Sophie with large accusatory eyes.

    “I’m sorry, honey,” Sophie croaked out. “I know we have our bedtime routine, but Mommy got horribly drunk.”

    She tapped the glass with her index finger and waited for a response, but none came. Eventually the silence broke when her doorbell loudly ding-donged and caused her to jump in surprise. The next, and bigger, surprise came when she made her way to the front door and saw her landlord waiting on the porch. 

    Dash Montrose wasn’t a tall man, but he had presence. Part of that was because he always seemed to be fidgeting—tapping his fingers, shifting his feet, or pacing slightly—but also, he had thick arms with swirling, inky-black tattoos. 

    It’s not that Sophie had stared at those arms in prior instances but…well, yeah, she probably had.

    Still, her first instinct was to hide behind the couch because what the hell was Dash doing there? She and Dash lived next door to each other, but they were not close. In fact, Dash hardly ever acknowledged her existence. He lived in the large house tucked behind her bungalow, but he was always walking away in some kind of a hurry. If she waved, he only ever nodded back. She didn’t think he was intentionally being a jerk, but he clearly had no interest in interacting with her. They hadn’t spoken actual words to each other in at least a few months. She Venmoed him the rent, and sometimes he left a thumbs-up in response. That was the extent of it. 

    But there he was, in jeans and a T-shirt. What could he want? Did he somehow know her funds were about to run out and he was preemptively evicting her? Sophie avoided confrontation at all costs, but she couldn’t run away from him, not when his face was pressed against the window of her door and he was peering directly at her. She clutched her arms across her chest, extremely aware that she was still dressed in her clothes from the night before, as she made her way to him. 

    When she opened the door, she was hit not only with the heat from the high sun above but by the sight of Dash’s wet hair slicked around his face. Water trickled down his neck and splotched his faded shirt, like he’d come straight over from a shower. Which meant a few minutes prior he’d been totally naked, covered in soap and water and…

   “Hey, uh, whoa.” His voice cut through Sophie’s thoughts. When she glanced up, Dash gave her an uneasy expression, then gestured down the length of her. “What happened…”

    She never left the house without a minimum of tinted moisturizer, but of course Dash came on the one day where she closely resembled a Madame Tussauds wax statue melting in the sun. Sophie gently swiped her index finger under her eye, and it came back coated in black liner. Excellent.

    “Vodka happened,” she muttered.

    She rubbed the liner between her fingers. Something was wrong. Mercury must’ve been in retrograde. If thirteen-year old Sophie had known that she would be renting a place from Dash Montrose—former teen heartthrob movie star turned still hunky landlord—and he was seeing her hungover…she’d be even more embarrassed than she already was. And she’d probably also be delighted. Because Sophie had maaaybe had a photo of him from a magazine cover on her wall when she was growing up. His film Happy Now? was her all-time favorite movie.

   She absolutely did not have a crush on adult Dash, though. Well, he was undeniably hot. No point in glossing over that thick, dirty-blond hair, the dimple in his chin, or any of the other tatted-up details. But he was Poppy’s brother and so off-limits that Sophie had built a wall around Dash in her mind. Though bits of the wall appeared to crumble at the sight of his strong jaw and the dark circles under his eyes that made him all the more mysterious to her.

    “Poppy asked me to come check on you. She said you weren’t answering your phone.” He glanced behind her, as if searching for a potential thief holding her cell hostage. 

    “My Poppy?” Sophie had worked at Poppy’s spa, Glow, for years—one of the many day jobs she’d had before quitting to write full-time. Though, now that she had endless writer’s block, she might have to beg for her old job back. 

    “She’s my sister, so she’s technically our Poppy.” His hands landed in the pockets of his jeans.

    Sophie looked behind her to where the phone usually was, and blessedly, while she’d been drunk enough to use a book as a pillow, she’d been just sober enough to plug in her phone. She rubbed at one of her throbbing temples and walked over to her desk, grabbed her phone, then held down the power button and watched the white icon flash back.

As she waited for the phone to boot up, she walked back toward Dash.

    “Okay, she wants me to tell you that there’s a video of you going viral?” Dash gestured to his phone, which made his forearm flex and Sophie’s eyes widen in response.

    She tried to process what he’d said. She needed an intense boost of caffeine—maybe a matcha—to be able to comprehend the words coming out of his mouth. “A video?” 

    “I don’t know, she said you needed to see it. And that I needed to make sure you saw it.” He shrugged, but the small motion lifted the edge of his shirt up just enough for Sophie to catch a glimpse of his boxers. 

    Sophie didn’t want to be impolite—Dash was Poppy’s older brother, after all—but what was she supposed to do? She couldn’t so much as look at a candle shop without rushing in to buy one. Dash was the male equivalent of fresh beeswax. She was definitely staring. 

     Just then, her phone erupted in a series of pings, vibrations, and what sounded like one deafening goose honk. If she owned pearls, she’d be clutching the hell out of them. The screen filled with notifications—emails, texts, missed calls, and push notifications from Instagram—but she pulled up Poppy’s text conversation first. 


Soph, are you up? 


It’s 10. You never sleep this late. 


I’m at work, ARE YOU OK 


I’m sending Dash over.


YOU’RE NOT DEAD! YIPPEE! 


OK, here’s the vid. Don’t freak out!


    Dash’s phone pinged too, he looked down, then sighed. “Did you get it?” He sounded a little irritated.

    Sophie frowned at the blurry thumbnail of a woman, but clicked the link, which sent her to the TikTok app. Then, almost immediately, she saw herself reflected on the screen. The video was taken at the karaoke bar, and Sophie was the main event. She stood onstage as the undeniable background music to Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” played. She had requested that song, hadn’t she? The small pieces of her lost-memory puzzle began to click into place. 

     Only, in the video, she was sobbing, with tears running down her cheeks, as she gazed wild-eyed into the crowd. Poppy ran onto the stage and attempted to coax Sophie off, but Sophie grabbed the mic and shouted, “I’ve never been in love, okay?!” Her voice so angry and vehement that she appeared to be deranged. The person holding the phone zoomed in at that exact moment to capture Sophie’s grimace as she shrieked out, “Love isn’t real!” Then Poppy yanked the mic out of Sophie’s hand and dropped it for her. End of video. 

    “Stop, stop, stop!” The words screeched out of her as she furiously poked the screen to try and delete the video. Then she remembered this was not her video—someone else had uploaded it. Eventually, her eyes drifted down to the caption, which read Relatable! The video had over two hundred thousand views and thirty thousand likes.

    “Oh my holy hot hell.” She was a writer but could not think of any other words in that moment. Her mind raced at the thought of hundreds of thousands of people watching her have a public meltdown and liking it.

    Normally, Sophie was an optimist, but after the last twenty-four hours, she was beginning to understand the appeal of pessimism. Her hand instinctively went to her chest and her fingers tap-tap-tapped at her pacemaker—something she always did to steady herself—as she scrolled through the comments and saw that not one but multiple people had recognized her. 

    Sophie Lyon is FUN 

    Sophie Lyon is secretly unhinged and it’s sending me 

    I hated her book, but I like this? 

    “Just breathe.” Then Dash’s hand was on her back, steady and warm, which momentarily distracted her, but not for long. 

    The heat outside had intensified to Palm Springs–level boiling and caused Sophie to break out in either hives or a rash. She furiously clawed at her throat with her free hand. She walked away from Dash and down the porch steps. Her bare feet hit the cool blades of grass in her yard, and when she looked up, the iconic Hollywood sign perched in the Santa Monica Mountains shined pearly white in the distance. Seeing those letters from her yard every morning used to make her feel closer to the success she so deeply craved, but now she felt buried under the weight of its implied expectations. 

     She stumbled, and Dash was next to her within seconds, holding her steady. He grabbed her elbow with one hand, and the other wrapped around her waist to cup her hip. His skin was warm against her, even through her dress. Her stomach flipped, probably from the lingering alcohol. “Sophie, you really need to sit. You look like you’re about to faint—” 

     The sound of her phone pinging cut him off. And when she looked down, a familiar name flashed across the screen. Carla. Sophie stopped scratching her throat. Her ex. The woman who had single-handedly led her on for close to a year. A year in which Sophie could feel herself beginning to fall head over heels, and then… Carla had ended it and dragged their relationship to the trash. Sophie stared at Carla’s name, and the text underneath, which read Saw the video… As in her ex had seen the video of Sophie having a full-on meltdown. 

    It was at this moment that she tilted her head back, let the punishing sun burn her eyes, and shouted as loudly as she physically could. When she eventually stopped screaming, her head felt light. The edges of her vision blurred with the realization that she had nothing left, her life was over, and she was completely mortified. 

    “Seriously, Sophie? My ears are ringing.” 

    Sophie was so focused on her own humiliation that she must’ve forgotten that Dash was right there

    “Are you on something?” Dash asked. 

    Sophie frowned. No, she was not on something. She may have been braless, hungover, and hanging by a thread emotionally, but what kind of an accusation was that? 

    And even if she were on ayahuasca and beginning to see rainbow caticorns encircling her feet—which sounded great, actually—what she did with her body was absolutely none of his business. She paid her rent on time. This was her place. He was the one who’d come bounding over, all wet and wearing a too-tight shirt, and now he had the nerve to suggest she was the one out of line? 

    She would tell Dash that he needed to leave. But when she opened her mouth to say as much, she felt the bile rise in her throat. Her eyes bulged wide as she closed her mouth and held back something akin to a burp. Dash clocked her panic, and his eyes narrowed. She shook her head, but there was no use. She was definitely going to hurl all over her high-school celebrity crush. And without even being able to call out a warning, she projectile-vomited all over Dash.




Author Bio: 
Photo Credit:
Cathryn Farnsworth


ERIN LA ROSA is a writer living in Los Angeles. As a writer for BuzzFeed, she frequently writes about the perils and triumphs of being a redhead. Before BuzzFeed, Erin worked for the comedy websites Funny or Die and MadAtoms, as well as E!s Fashion Police, Wetpaint, and Ecorazzi. Erin has appeared on CNN, Headline News, Jimmy Kimmel, and The Today Show on behalf of BuzzFeed. She is the author of Womanskills and The Big Redhead Book.