The McKinley Mysteries! Spotlight on Valentine’s Day is Murder #romance #humor #murder @Carolyn_Arnold #giveaway

 

August 14 – 28, 2017

Series Information

Romance. Humor. Murder. Are you looking for a murder mystery without all the graphic violence and foul language? Something that you can enjoy in an afternoon and walk away feeling good about afterward? How about a dash of humor and romance? If so, meet former detectives Sean and Sara McKinley. When a billionaire leaves them all his money, they no longer have to work, but they find themselves sticking to what they’re good at—solving murders. Undercover, off the books, and around the world, they’ll get to the bottom of things…and romance it up along the way.

This is the perfect book series for fans of Hart to Hart, Castle, Colombo, Monk, Rockford Files, Psych, and Magnum PI.

Book Overview (in published order)

    1. The Day Job is Murder (2014)
    2. Vacation is Murder (2014)
    3. Money is Murder (2014)
    4. Politics is Murder (2014)
    5. Family is Murder (2014)
    6. Shopping is Murder (2014)
    7. Christmas is Murder (2014)
    8. Valentine’s Day is Murder (2015)
    9. Coffee is Murder (2015)
    10. Skiing is Murder (2016)
    11. Halloween is Murder (2017) – the cover will be available by the end of May/June, with some retailer links coming through in July, the rest in August.

Valentine’s Day is Murder

Cupid’s arrow may have missed its mark…

Jimmy finally takes a vacation–and a chance on love–only to be abducted. His female companion originally thinks he had cold feet about their relationship, but Sean and Sara know there’s more to it. Jimmy isn’t the type to just up and disappear, let alone leave a lady stranded.

Setting out on their private jet, Sean and Sara reach the tropical paradise of Ocho Rios, Jamaica with sightseeing as the last thing on their minds.

With a gold coin being their initial tie to Jimmy’s kidnapper, Sean and Sara even speculate about the involvement of pirates. Yet as the hours pass, and there’s no word from Jimmy’s captors, Sean and Sara will need to figure out the real motive before it’s too late.

With help from their friend, Adam, back in Albany, the pieces come together and not a moment too soon.

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Author Bio

CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international bestselling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.

Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.

She currently lives just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada.

Connect with CAROLYN ARNOLD Online:

Website – http://carolynarnold.net/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Carolyn_Arnold

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCarolynArnold

And don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter for up-to-date information on release and special offers at http://carolynarnold.net/newsletters.

Giveaway

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Tour Participants

August 14 – T’s Stuff – INTERVIEW, REVIEW – The Day Job Is Murder

August 14 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT – The Day Job Is Murder

August 14 – The Layaway Dragon – REVIEW – The Day Job Is Murder

August 15 – Must Read Faster – GUEST POST – Book 1 – The Day Job Is Murder

August 15 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT – Vacation Is Murder

August 15 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – GUEST POST – Book 2 – Vacation Is Murder

August 15 – Books, Dreams, Life – REVIEW – The Day Job Is Murder

August 16 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT – Money Is Murder

August 16 – Readsalot – SPOTLIGHT – Valentine’s Day Is Murder

August 16 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT – Series, GUEST POST – Book 3 – Money Is Murder

August 16 –Books, Dreams, Life – REVIEW – Vacation Is Murder

August 17 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT – Skiing Is Murder

August 17 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT – Politics Is Murder

August 17 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW – The Day Job Is Murder

August 17 –Books, Dreams, Life – REVIEW – Money Is Murder

August 18 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT – Family Is Murder

August 18 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW – Shopping Is Murder

August 18 –Books, Dreams, Life – REVIEW – Politics Is Murder

August 19 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST – Book 4 – Politics Is Murder

August 19 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT – Books 1-5

August 19 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW – The Day Job Is Murder

August 19 – Books, Dreams, Life – REVIEW – Family Is Murder

August 20 – Babs Book Bistro – REVIEW – Christmas Is Murder

August 20 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT -Blogger’s Choice

August 20 –Community Bookstop – REVIEW – Vacation Is Murder

August 20 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW – Family Is Murder – GUEST POST – Book 5 – Family Is Murder

August 20 – Cozy Up With Kathy – SPOTLIGHT

August 20 –Books, Dreams, Life – REVIEW – Shopping Is Murder

August 21 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW – The Day Job Is Murder

August 21 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT – Shopping Is Murder

August 21 –Community Bookstop – REVIEW – Money Is Murder

August 21 –Books, Dreams, Life – REVIEW – Christmas Is Murder

August 22 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT – Christmas Is Murder

August 22 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – REVIEW – The Day Job Is Murder

August 22- Community Bookstop – REVIEW – Politics Is Murder

August 22- StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST – Book 6 – Shopping Is Murder

August 22 – Books, Dreams, Life – REVIEW – Valentine’s Day Is Murder

August 23 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT – Valentine’s Day Is Murder

August 23 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW – Money Is Murder

August 23 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW – Family Is Murder

August 23 – Valerie’s Musings – GUEST POST – Book 7 – Christmas Is Murder

August 23 –Books, Dreams, Life – REVIEW – Coffee Is Murder

August 24 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT – Coffee Is Murder

August 24 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW – Shopping Is Murder

August 24 –Community Bookstop – REVIEW – Shopping Is Murder

August 24 – Books, Dreams, Life – REVIEW – Skiing Is Murder

August 25 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT – Skiing Is Murder

August 25 – Bea’s Book Nook – REVIEW – The Day Job Is Murder

August 25 –Community Bookstop – REVIEW – Valentine’s Day Is Murder

August 26 – Sleuth Cafe – GUEST POST – Book 8 – Valentine’s Day Is Murder

August 26 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW, SPOTLIGHT – Books 1-3

August 26 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW – Coffee Is Murder

August 26 –Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT – Books 5 – 11

August 27 – Brooke Blogs– REVIEW, SPOTLIGHT – Book 4 – 5

August 27 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW – Skiing Is Murder

August 28 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW, SPOTLIGHT – Books 6-7 – GUEST POST – Book 9 – Coffee Is Murder

August 28 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT – Blogger’s Choice

August 28 – Laura’s Interests – GUEST POST – Book 10 – Skiing Is Murder

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Spotlight on Deadly Choices by Karen Randau #Suspense #Thriller #Giveaway

Deadly Choices Front Cover RGB SM

Title: Deadly Choices

Series: Rim Country Mysteries, 3rd in series

Author: Karen Randau

Genre: Suspense Thriller

Published: July 17, 2017

~ Synopsis ~

An elderly woman with an arrow in her chest. A murdered journalist. A decades-old cover-up. In Deadly Choices (Rim Country Mysteries Volume 3), Rita and Cliff Avery team up again to solve a spate of murders in their picturesque Arizona mountain town of Rim Vista. Rita’s mother Willow delivers gun-wrenching news while falling for the man who could be responsible for four deaths. And Rita must escape a string of life-threatening predicaments thrown at her by an assailant willing to do anything to scare Cliff off the case.

This book does not contain any explicity language or adult scenes.

Grab a copy → Amazon

Add to Goodreads → Here

~ About the Author ~

2016 Karen Encanto Park 2

Karen Randau is the author of the Rim Country Mystery series. Her fast-paced novels include Deadly Deceit, Deadly Inheritance, and Deadly Choices, each with intricate plots and lots of action and told from the point of view of protagonist Rita Avery.

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~ Giveaway ~

Win a Signed Print Copy of Deadly Choices by Karen Randau

(U.S. Only)

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~ TOUR PARTICIPANTS ~

August 14 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

August 15 – Readsalot – SPOTLIGHT

August 16 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 17 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

August 18 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST

August 19 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

August 20 – The Book’s the Thing – SPOTLIGHT

August 21 – Valerie’s Musings – GUEST POST

August 22 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW

August 23 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

August 24 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

August 25 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

August 26 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

August 27 – Laura’s Interests – SPOTLIGHT

August 27 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

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Book Blast ~ Vishwamitra (Indian Mythological Fiction) by Dr. Vineet Aggarwal @drumbeatsofeden

Vishwamitra by Dr. Vineet Aggarwal

Indian Mythological Fiction

~ Book Blitz ~

11th August, 2017

Book Cover

When Satyavati, wife of Rishi Ruchik, exchanges with her mother the magic potion for bearing a child, they change not just their children’s destiny, but also the history of mankind. Born of this mix up is Vishwamitra, the son of a Kshatriya, who strives to become a Brahmarishi—the ultimate and most powerful of all Gurus. 

Vishwamitra is the powerful story of a brave but stubborn, haughty yet compassionate, visionary king of Aryavarta who not only acquires material wealth through military conquests but also becomes one of the most well-known sages of all times.

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5 lesser known facts about Vishwamitra

Vishwamitra (3)

Almost everyone would have heard the name of Vishwamitra and some may even know of his dalliance with Menaka, or the role he played in the Ramayan but even those who are familiar with his name, may not know these five things about him:

1. Vishwamitra was born a Kshatriya prince and he reached the status of Brahmarishi, the highest possible rank for a Brahmin only through his tremendous effort!

2. He is the discoverer of the Gayatri Mantra that is spoken by millions of Hindus even today all over the globe!

3. He is associated with two major Avatars of Lord Vishnu – Parshuram, the 6th incarnation was his grand-nephew while he himself became the Guru of Shri Raam, the 7th incarnation.

4. Vishwamitra’s daughter Shakuntala gave birth to Bharat, the King who gave India its official name – Bhaarat.

5. He is credited with the remarkable feat of creating actual star systems purely on the basis of his mystical powers & the stars he created can still be seen in the southern hemisphere as the Crux.

About the Author

 Author Pic

Dr. Vineet Aggarwal is described by many as a doctor by qualification, manager by profession and artist by temperament. Born in a family of doctors, he successfully completed an initial stint with the family occupation before deciding to venture into pharmaceutical management and currently pursues writing and photography as a passion.

He is the author of popular online blogs ‘Decode Hindu Mythology’ and ‘Fraternity Against Terrorism and Extremism’ and the author of books ‘Vishwamitra – The Man who dared to challenge the Gods’ and ‘The Legend of Parshu-Raam’

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Read an exclusive excerpt from Crossing the Line, #Contemporaryromance from @KimberlyKincaid #giveaway

Don’t miss this sexy small town romance with heart and heat. A cocky small town farmer must decide whether to reveal his secrets or follow his family legacy.…CROSSING THE LINE will delight fans of IT STARTED WITH A KISS by Marina Adair and SWEET LITTLE LIES by Jill Shalvis!

Kincaid-CrossingtheLine-23186-CV-FT-r5

Title: Crossing the Line

Author: Kimberly Kincaid

Series: Cross Creek #2

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: August 8, 2017

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Cocky farmer Eli Cross plays twice as hard as he works. When his latest stunt drums up a heap of negative PR for the family farm, he grudgingly agrees to play host to an ambitious New York City photographer. Her feature on Cross Creek could be just the ticket to show the country what the Cross brothers do best…which is more problem than solution for Eli.

Scarlett Edwards-Stewart has photographed everything from end zones to war zones. She’s confident she can ace this one little story to help her best friend’s failing magazine. At least, she would be if her super-sexy host wasn’t so tight lipped. But the more Scarlett works with Eli, the more she discovers that he’s not who he seems. Can his secret bring them closer together? Or will it be the very thing that tears them apart?

Add to your TBR list → Goodreads

Grab a copy!

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Excerpt

Just as she finished her last piece of toast, a knock sounded off on the door to Scarlett’s apartment. Her heart did the samba in her chest, but she pressed a hand over the front of her dark-green tank top to cover the commotion. Eli had said he wanted to stick to business. She could totally do that. They’d be professional. Polite. Work only.

But the perfectly professional, perfectly polite greeting Scarlett had worked up in her head completely disintegrated at the sight of Eli standing on her doorstep with a charming-as-hell smile on his face and a brown paper bag in his hand.

“Morning.” He extended the bag, looking hotter than anyone had a right to. Seriously, who made a hoodie and a pair of banged-up jeans sexy? At five o’clock in the morning? It just wasn’t right.

“What’s this?” she blurted as she took the bag from his outstretched hand, and God, could she be any more graceless?

If Eli was bothered by her distinct lack of a filter, though, he sure didn’t show it. “This is a vegan breakfast burrito.” He paused, tipping his blond head slightly as he added, “And we can add that to the list of things I never thought I’d say.”

Scarlett blinked, trying to piece the words together in a way that made sense. “You bought me a vegan breakfast burrito?”

“No. I made you a vegan breakfast burrito.”

The shock pumping through her veins must’ve taken a detour over her face, because Eli took one look at her and backpedaled. “Okay, sort of. I went up to the main house an hour ago to get a bunch of crates that didn’t fit in the box truck, and Owen was making breakfast burritos. I helped him come up with one for you that fits the bill.”

“Why?”

Scarlett clamped down on her lip just a second too late to bite down on the overly bold question, but to her surprise, Eli just laughed.

“What, is breakfast some sort of sacrilege once you cross the Mason-Dixon Line or something?”

Seriously, she needed to build some sort of immunity to that here-comes-trouble smile of his. Either that or she was going to have to head back to that cute little town where she’d gotten her coffeepot for some cute little batteries to fuel her cute little vibrator.

“No! Nope, mmm-mmm,” she barked, chasing the burn from her cheeks with a sweep of her fingertips. Sure, Eli was good-looking (Fine. He was sex on a stick. Potato-potahto). But they needed to stay professional. That’s what he’d said he wanted.

Only from the look of the cocky, come-and-get-it smile on his face right now, Scarlett wasn’t so sure he’d meant a single word.

About the author

Headshot Kincaid

Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet and hot and edgy romantic suspense. When she’s not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as “The Pleather Bomber”, she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly is a USA Today best-selling author and a 2016 and 2015 RWA RITA® finalist and 2014 Bookseller’s Best nominee who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. Kimberly resides in Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters.

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One (1) lucky winner a $25 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below:

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Spotlight on Lee Anne Wonnacott, author of From Windy Ridge to the Flint Hills #YA #Western #Adventure

9 august 3

Title:  From Windy Ridge to the Flint Hills

Author: Lee Anne Wonnacott

Genre:   Young Adult; Western Adventure

Published: July 2017

Synopsis

Everything changes for Kelly Stolter the morning she finds her mother dead from pneumonia.

The rug is suddenly jerked out from under her and her two younger siblings, Lola and Colton. Their steady world started to shake. Bills were coming due. The ranch loan on Windy Ridge Ranch must be paid. The tears won’t stop.

Shifty cattle ranchers rubbed their hands together ready to prey on the seemingly naïve young children. Kelly had watched her blue-ribbon cutting horse riding mother and champion rodeo winning father negotiate horse sales all her life. Either she could follow in their footstep and keep the family going or not.

Shady relatives begin to come out of the woodwork to lay claim to the prosperous horse breeding ranch. In an old trunk, under her mother’s possessions lay the name of the distant attorney. 135 miles to the south was a longshot but it was the only hope in sight.

The Flint Hills family friend knew more than she would tell held secrets behind tight lips. The averted eyes and the cold silences told Kelly there was more history to the family.

A letter from a Hattiesburg attorney told of the death of the friendly stranger and the news shocked their world. A scandalous family truth out kept hidden for decades is thrust into the open light of day.

Her father, Nick Stolter, had ridden east at the side of a long-time friend in need. Was that man with the green eyes truly a friend or a past partner in crime as others alluded to in discreet whispers?

Before he disappeared into the deserts of Arizona, the one thing Kelly’s father left her was a gritty determination and sassy boldness.

As sole heir to a ranching dynasty, Kelly’s mother held title to hundreds of prime grasslands to the distant south. Kelly and younger sister, Lola make the nine-day ride and run into familiar faces and new-found friends. But evil comes in all shapes and sizes. When outlaws attempt a stagecoach holdup, Kelly and Lola’s Colt pistols save the passengers.

After visiting the verdant ranch, it is a united decision for the three to move to the Flint Hills Ranch. With a few hired hands, jangling spurs, and a lot of help from friends, they arrive in their new, yet old, home.

Connections were everything in the old west and the friendly teenaged son of the neighboring rancher brought out the rosy blush on Kelly’s cheeks. Twinkling blue eyes, a brilliant white smile, and a quick wit inspire warm admiration for the young man.

At last, word comes that Nick Stolter is alive and headed for home. But a month of hell has chased him across Arizona and into California and he is bringing it to their front gate. The three Stolter children turn loose a barrage of bullets to protect their bloodied father. The herd crosses onto the Flint Hills Ranch and Nick tumbles from his saddle. Together again. Family again. Home again.

Grab a copy!

Amazon ~ Apple ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Google Play ~ Inkterra ~ Kobo ~ Smashwords

About the author

9 august 2

Lee Anne Wonnacott grew up enamored with the struggle and adventure of men and women living in the 1800 U.S. At thirteen, it felt as if she had suddenly awoken to hear that space was the final frontier. Eventually, she came to realize that is was the human imagination that encased the new frontier.

Lee Anne believes it was the stories of others who ignited her novelist imagination. Neighbors recited trials and tribulations on trains. Elderly relatives brought forth memories from diaries and letters. A lonely stranger in the Zurich train station revisited deep scars.

It was the prodding, nitpicking, and pushing from one determined high school English teacher who showed her where to jump into storytelling. Lee Anne’s secret to crafting the moving story is that if the story is not working, just kill off a character in a horribly painful death. Her passion is authoring and promoting her western adventure novels. Author of fiction titles Newton Cutter, Iron and Rawhide, Rage at Rancho del Oro, and Nick Stolter.

 Lee Anne Wonnacott cooks, knits, hunts for sea glass, and howls with the neighborhood dogs in Oceanside, California.

Contact the author

 Website

 

My #bookreview of Under Fire, new #romanticsuspense from @ItsScarlettCole

Cole_Under Fire

UNDER FIRE by Scarlett Cole

Published by St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Publication Date: August 1, 2017

ISBNs: Print – 9781250128447; EBook – 9781250128454

Price: $7.99

Synopsis

“Fantastic characters, scorching sexual tension, and non-stop action make this one of my favorite reads this year!”—New York Times bestselling author Laura Kaye RITA nominee Scarlett Cole’s Under Fire pairs a hot Navy SEAL with a medical researcher who finds herself in too deep.

Hot, hard-bodied Sixton Rapp is a former SEAL who’s raring to begin his brand-new civilian life. He and his Navy “brothers” start a security firm that offers the kind of services only a team of military-trained professionals can provide. But nothing prepared Six for his new client: an innocent woman on a mission to improve thousands of lives. . . unless someone takes hers first. Dr. Louisa North knows time is against her as she tries to create a “miracle” medical treatment for a disease with no known cure, until she creates a sample so powerful that the wrong people want to use it as a chemical weapon. At first, Six is unwilling to accept Louisa as his client. But soon he realizes that the danger is real and that there’s much more to this plain-Jane scientist…including a burning passion between them that neither of them can resist. And now that an enemy is on Louisa’s trail, Six will do whatever it takes to protect her—or die trying.

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My Review

As a former Army Military Policewoman who is more than a little obsessive about details, I often steer clear of novels with ex-military heroes. I’m a fan of Scarlett Cole, however, and decided to give Under Fire a try. It was worth it!

I really liked Louisa, like I’d totally be her BFF if she could get over her shyness around me. She is truly smart – not like you often read in romance novels where the hero refers to how smart the heroine is even though she’s obviously not smart and keeps making stupid decisions. Nope, Louisa is a genuine genius. Her background and reasons why she’s such a dedicated researcher are thoroughly explored and add depth to the story. Her shyness is painful to read but completely believable.

Six was okay. Sure, he was totally hot and I’d probably jump him, but he was just your typical military hero. He had some issues (perhaps PTSD) but those issues weren’t delved into.

The story itself kept my attention despite the ‘bad guy’ being fairly obvious from the beginning. There was plenty of suspense and action to keep me glued to my kindle. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series as Cole has already set the premise for it and I must say I’m intrigued.

There were some formatting issues that have to be mentioned as they disrupted the flow of reading. The point of view would change mid-chapter very abruptly. Something to mark the change would have been helpful.

Excerpt

“Now that you’ve got a little more color in your face, and you’ve stopped shaking, you want to tell me who those men were, or what they wanted?”

Louisa smoothed her hands down the front of his chest to fix his rumpled hoodie and then straightened the hem. Six grabbed her hands in his and stilled them. His hands were the size of baseball mitts compared to hers.

“I don’t know for sure. They beat you in here by a minute or two at most. They told me that they wanted me to go with them, and that was about it. I don’t want to think this has something to do with the missing sample.”

Thoughts crowded in almost too quickly to process them all. Things like this didn’t happen to her. It went against the rules. Her rules that said she would spend her life doing research away from all the horrid stuff that went on in the world. And shit like this certainly didn’t happen in Mission Hills. She wondered if it was smart to keep the fact that she’d swapped the two samples and disposed of the one they seemed to be after five days earlier from the police when they finally arrived. But this was a golden opportunity to find out where the police were with the theft in the lab. Obviously Six had saved her life, but she didn’t want him to get into trouble for shooting one of the men. She wasn’t even sure how that would work. It wasn’t like he was defending his home. He was defending hers with a gun he’d brought with him which she wasn’t sure was even legal. Crap.

“It’s all such a mess,” she whispered against Six’s shoulder.

“I know. But I’m right here with you,” he said softly.

Her heart pounded again and her head felt groggy, like mud, as though she was hungover. What she really needed was some silence. She tried to pull away from Six, but he wouldn’t let her move. “Let me go,” she said, blowing her bangs out of her face.

Six shook his head slowly. “I don’t know what’s going on, but you’ll walk the police through it step by step, and I’ll tell them what I know. Then we’ll figure out how to make you safe tonight. Then in the morning, I’ll help you figure out what you can do to remain safe while this gets sorted out.”

What if they came back? Oh, God. She hadn’t thought that far ahead. She could go to her mother’s home, but that might lead the people that were after her to her family. Damn. Why had she already decided it was about the sample when it could have been an abduction attempt or an armed robbery, which didn’t make her feel less vulnerable but did quash all the conspiracy theories in her head? What if she was excluding options that were important? She was the daughter of a very wealthy widow. Ransom could be a possibility.

Six squeezed her shaking hands, bringing her back to the present. “And just so you know, staying safe means learning to protect yourself, sweetheart.”

“I did just fine,” Louisa huffed, unwilling to take on the mantle of victim she was constructing in her head.

“You held a rolling pin,” Six said, shaking his head at her. “What were you going to do, Betty Crocker them to death?”

She pushed her hands against his chest, and this time he let her go. It had never occurred to her that someone would violate her home, but Six was right. If she looked at it logically, she obviously needed to upgrade every element of her home security. She couldn’t even remember when she’d last opened the window in the dining room, but she’d obviously become lax in locking it afterward. And none of her external security lights had come on, which meant they either weren’t effective or the sensors were pointing at the wrong places. And her alarm had the ability to be on for just the doors and windows when she was home but awake, yet she never—

“What’s going on inside that head of yours?” Six asked. “Because you disappear inside it sometimes and I worry when I see you start messing with things.”

Louisa looked down at her hands and realized she was restacking the coasters she had placed on the marble. “I was just thinking through what you said. I guess I’ve become a little lazy … I’ve stopped worrying about home security because nothing ever really happens here.”

“Okay, we’ll look at two things. One, how you protect your home, and two, how you protect yourself in the event that someone makes it past all of your other defenses.” He parted her bangs with his finger, and it made her shiver.

Since her father’s death, she hadn’t had anyone to count on. Not like this. “Why are you really here, Six? It’s not about my uneven shelves, is it?” she asked quietly.

Six studied her face, taking in her forehead, her cheeks, and even her neck before meeting her eyes. It was a moment that felt much longer, filled with … something. Potential, maybe. “Because you asked me to help, and—”

He stopped talking at the sound of wheels pulling onto the gravel. Quickly, he shut off the kitchen light, and it became apparent that the exterior lights were on. With a swift jog, gun drawn, he hurried to take a look out the window. Blue and red beams of light flashed onto her kitchen wall. They were the best thing she’d seen all day, well, other than seeing the door to the kitchen burst open and Six rolling in, looking as deadly as any soldier she’d ever seen. In hindsight, now that the danger had passed, she realized he’d looked hotter than any Hollywood action star in a big blockbuster movie.

Even as she wondered what other reason he’d been about to give her for being there, she realized that none of his words, or the arrival of the police, meant she was safe.

About the Author

Scarlett Cole Author Pic

Born in England, Scarlett Cole traveled the world, living in Japan and the United States before settling in Canada where she met her own personal hero – all six and a half feet of him. She now lives with her husband and children in Manchester, England where she’s at work on her next book. She is the author of The Strongest Steel.

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Read the first 2 chapters of Sin Eater #fantasy #paranormal from @The_GrayTower #giveaway

1-Kindle Sin Eater Cover_400x600

Sin Eater

The Aria Knight Chronicles Book 1

By Alesha Escobar and Samantha Lafantasie

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal

Aria Knight has an unusual set of skills: she will hold back the hounds of Hell so you can fly toward the Pearly Gates, and she will wipe your slate clean so that you don’t become karma’s bitch…for a price.

A Sin Eater has to make a living in today’s world somehow. But when she’s called in the dead of night to perform her rite for a recluse billionaire, she stumbles upon a murder scene, and the evidence points to her. In an attempt to clear her name and uncover the true culprit, Aria is forced to team up with a private investigator who’s possessed by three spirits, and a handsome wizard who would rather see all Sin Eaters like Aria go extinct. Aria knows her job is never easy, but now it’s become downright deadly. SIN EATER is the first book of the Aria Knight Chronicles by USA Today bestselling author Samantha LaFantasie and Alesha Escobar, author of the bestselling Gray Tower Trilogy.

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 Excerpt

Chapter 1

Aria

Aria would die tonight.

If Hessa didn’t unlock her damn door and let her in, that would certainly be the case. Aria’s back stiffened when she heard the faint but distinctive howls from the Hounds of Hell. Their shrieks always struck her as a cross between wolves wailing at the moon and jackals whining into the night.

Hessa finally opened the door and stood at the threshold, sizing her up and taking a long drag from her cigarette. A tear, mingled with ruined mascara, trailed down her cheek. “Thanks for coming, Aria. This was the last thing Mom asked for, so…”

“I understand. May I come in?” Aria nearly knocked her over trying to slip inside. The howling grew louder. They were down the street, and Aria’s time was running out.

“Yeah.” Hessa rolled her eyes at Aria’s terse attitude, but she’d do the same if she could hear what came their way.

“You should place a ward around the house.” Aria speed-walked down the hall.

“Okay…” Hessa’s voice trailed off.

She wished she had been called sooner. If the hellhounds made it to the dead woman before she did, then she’d have to watch them tear the old woman’s soul to shreds before dragging her off to the abyss.

Aria wrinkled her nose at the smell of wet fur and garbage. A small dog somewhere in the house barked a few times. As if drawn like a magnet to metal, she guided herself to the last room, toward the deceased. A short, white-haired woman in a long-sleeved gown lay in repose on a bed. Her arms were crossed just below her chest, with her hands meeting in a clasp.

Aria’s lips pressed into a thin line. She didn’t have time for this. She had told Hessa over the phone not to move or position the body. She quickly took the dead woman’s right hand and extended it, placing it to her right side. She did the same for the left hand, so that nothing sat on or near the deceased’s chest. She felt the moment Hessa cast her warding spell around the house. It felt like a stab of tension in her chest, the same type people felt when walking downstairs and missing a step.

“What was her name?” Aria asked, when Hessa joined her in the back room. She needed to know this in case she needed to grab the spirit’s attention.

“Lora.”

“Beautiful name. Do you have the bread?” Aria grabbed a rickety stool from the left corner of the room and brought it over. She sat down next to the bed. The hellhounds circled the house, probably salivating over their prey. Aria could hear their gleeful snarls at the prospect of devouring another soul. If she weren’t careful, they would tear into her as well. It wasn’t unheard of for them to go after sin eaters.

Hessa jabbed her cigarette into an ashtray on the nightstand and then unraveled a fresh-baked loaf of bread. Steam rose from the bread, and Hessa used the towel that was covering the small loaf to protect her hands as she transferred it to her mother’s chest.

As a sign of respect, and also as a way to mark the beginning of the Final Rite, Aria inclined her head in a slight bow, mentally offering up an ancient prayer of blessing. She was the very last call, the end of the line for many. Probably in some ancient desert Monastery or buried in the Vatican archives, there was a dusty old manuscript with a footnote, speaking of the loophole offered by sin eaters. Most would ask for her if they couldn’t reach a priest, or as extra “insurance” after receiving Anointing of the Sick.

Aria raised her right hand, palm facing forward, revealing the birthmark that identified her as a sin eater. She lowered her hand, but kept it suspended in mid-air just above the bread. She already felt the pulsating power of the S-shaped mark on her hand that begged to let the flame emerge. It happened whenever she began a sin eating ritual, and the first time her birthmark erupted into a large flame, she fell on her ass and tried to smother it with a handkerchief. Not exactly a move that would instill confidence in a client entrusting their loved one’s soul to her.

The flame meant there were sins that needed to be ripped away from a penitent Lora and passed on to Aria instead. Lora’s soul would be free to throw off any shackles burdening her and find peace, and Aria would know that she helped guide someone to paradise. There were also the perks of increased longevity for Aria, youthful appearance, and extra cash. Witching families paid well for this gig.

“Once I begin,” Aria said, watching the flame on her palm subside, “don’t interrupt the process.” She decided not to mention that hellhounds would make their way in within the next few minutes, seeking Lora’s soul.

Aria turned her attention toward the bread resting on Lora’s chest. She reached over with her right hand and took the small loaf, biting off a large piece and chewing it. The bread was plain and slightly salty, but what really made an impression on Aria was the rush of mystical energy that filled her from head to toe. All of her physical senses were amplified in that moment. The lights in the room looked brighter, the color of Hessa’s green dress and auburn hair were more vibrant, and the scent of wet fur and garbage returned with a vengeance.

And so did the howls of the hellhounds.

Aria almost felt buzzed by the sensations, but she had been sin eating for a long time, so she knew when to shove them aside and get to work. She motioned toward the nightstand. “The wine, or beer, please.”

Hessa blinked a few times in astonishment, probably wondering if her mother’s final request was some elaborate practical joke. With a little hesitance, she leaned over and grabbed a cup. She handed it to Aria and backed away, conveniently close enough to the door just in case she didn’t like what would happen.

Aria held the cup with a steady hand just above Lora’s chest. Inclining her head in a gesture of respect once more, she brought the rim of the cup to her lips and drank.

The beer traveled down her throat; it was cool and spritzy, with a surprising richness in body and a malty flavor. Now Aria’s spiritual senses were heightened. A burst of light temporarily blinded her, and when her view came back into focus, she saw Lora’s soul standing next to Hessa. Silver speckles of light adorned the elderly woman’s white hair, and her face appeared thirty years younger than that of her corpse. Aria grinned when she saw that Lora chose to wear a yellow evening gown reminiscent of the starlets of Old Hollywood.

Lora made a sweeping gesture with her hand, showing off her lean frame. “If I have to go, why not in style?”

“Agreed.” Aria took a final swig from the cup and placed it aside.

Hessa raised an eyebrow, and her gaze went from Aria and then across from her, where from her perspective, she was talking to an invisible person. “Aria? Is it working?”

“Shhh.” Aria kept her gaze on Lora. The entire room quivered as the hellhounds broke through Hessa’s protective ward, but only Aria felt it.

Barking erupted in the hallway, but this wasn’t the yapping of the little dogs in the house. Hessa couldn’t hear it, but Lora and Aria did. Lora’s expression fell, and she floated across the room, through her bed and body, and stood next to Aria.

“I’ll make it, won’t I? I know I’ve done some things terribly wrong in my life, but I’m a believer. Would’ve told Hessa to fetch the Padre, if my lungs hadn’t given out on me, but she knew that I also wanted her to call for one of you when it was my time to go.”

Aria stood and placed her hand on Lora’s shoulder. After imbibing beer or wine in her ritual, she could see, hear, and touch souls. “Of course. I won’t let anything bad happen to you.”

“Shit.” Hessa chuckled as she slipped another cigarette into her mouth and lit it with a snap of her finger. “If I’m forking over five hundred big ones for a dramatic act, I’m gonna be pissed.”

A gray portal that looked like a whirlpool of storm clouds appeared right behind Hessa. Lora stepped behind Aria, grasping her shoulders with trembling hands.

“Please, don’t let them get me!”

Aria cleared her throat. “Hessa, you might want to step aside.”

The other woman turned around, and upon seeing nothing out of the ordinary behind her, faced Aria and shrugged. “Okay, are you for real?”

“Too late.” Aria raised her right hand, letting her birthmark bring forth the flame that had ignited earlier.

In an instant, two hellhounds burst through the portal and passed straight through Hessa. She went rigid and let out a shriek. The cigarette fell out of her mouth and onto the floor.

“Oh my God! What was that? What just happened?” Hessa frantically patted her chest and torso. When smoke began rising from the floor, she screamed again and grabbed a nearby towel which she used to smother the flames from the carpet where the cigarette fell.

Aria ignored Hessa’s plea to stop the ritual. She wouldn’t, and she couldn’t. Besides the fact that she promised to help Lora, she now had to deal with two large, black, salivating hellhounds bent on dragging Lora’s soul away.

Their red eyes glowed with malice as they circled Aria and Lora. They had come for souls many times, and most of those times, sin eaters like Aria had repelled them. She swore to herself that tonight would be another victory.

As if reading her thoughts, the hounds unleashed deafening barks that echoed throughout the room. Hessa couldn’t hear them, but she did gag at the pungent odor that filled the bedroom. Aria wanted to vomit in response to the smell, but she quelled the unease in her stomach and swept her flaming right hand in an arc. A fiery circle enclosed itself around Aria and Lora.

“This penitent is under my protection,” Aria said in a clear voice. “She will pass on to the light, and I will bear the darkness.”

One of the hellhounds blew an ice-cold breeze toward the fiery circle, while the other opened its mouth and made a sucking motion. Lora squealed when an invisible force lifted her and started pulling her toward the hellhound.

Aria grabbed hold of Lora. “Uh, I don’t want to rush your spiritual enlightenment, but now’s a good time to let go of those vices.” She doubted Lora wanted to be swept away because she kept the flaws that had entrenched themselves in the depths of her being.

Lora gritted her teeth. The icy wind whipped her white hair in different directions. “I…don’t know if I can!”

No shit. This wasn’t like giving up ice cream or chocolate for Lent. If Lora couldn’t, or rather wouldn’t, peel away the slivers of corruption that still clung to her, then the hellhounds would claim their right to her and clamp down with their hungry mouths and drag her away.

“Lora, whatever’s in there trying to stick around, don’t give in to the idea that you can’t defeat it. We’re weak, yes, but you know what’s stronger?”

Lora looked over at Hessa, her daughter, and her expression of fear softened. The old woman’s grey-blue eyes shined, and a sense of confidence took hold of her. She turned and met Aria’s gaze. “Love. True Love’s light.”

Aria used her flaming hand to brand the “S” symbol, the same as her birthmark, onto Lora’s forehead. In that moment, they were bound together, and small black specks, the remaining sins and darkness in Lora, floated out of her and went straight into Aria. The old woman had finally let go of what held her down.

The hellhounds let out disappointed howls. They backed away with indignant whines. With a few threatening snarls, they turned and jumped back into the gray portal and disappeared. Once the portal faded, Aria released Lora from her grasp. The elderly woman slowly faded, but she wore a grateful smile. She was finally moving on to her next journey–sans the hellhounds.

“Thank you, my dear,” Lora said right before she completely disappeared.

Aria nodded in response. Her throat was on fire and her hands felt numb.

“Can I come in now?” Hessa’s voice carried from just outside the room.

Aria rolled her eyes and sighed. “Yes. It’s done.”

Hessa stumbled back into the room, trying to hide her shaking hands by smoothing her green dress, which had now lost its vibrancy. She placed her hand over her heart and eyed her mother’s body. “Whatever passed through me,” she said, taking in a deep breath, “it was horrible. But I felt Mom’s presence, and I just knew she was here.”

“She was, and now she’s moved on. She’s fine now.”

Seeing Hessa’s affection for her mother ignited a twinge of jealousy in Aria. She wished she had something like that with her mother, but the woman gave her up when she was just a baby. She had been told that her father, whoever he was, had passed away before she was born. She had always wondered if her mother, a witch named Clare, didn’t want her because she was born with the mark of the sin eater, or, if there was more to the story.

Hessa shook her head, still in disbelief at what she just experienced. She reached into her ample cleavage and pulled out a wad of cash. “I felt Mom right next to me, I swear it. I guess you earned this, honey.”

Ew. Sweaty boob cash. Aria pinched the roll of money and slipped it into her leather jacket pocket. “Thanks. You can call and have the body picked up now.”

She nodded. “Will you do me when I die?”

“Yes, good night, Hessa.” She acquired most of her clients through word of mouth or by them sitting through a sin eating ritual as a witness. Most of the world had forgotten that her kind even existed.

She left the room and headed down the hallway, but paused when the other woman called out to her. “Does it hurt when you do that?”

Aria turned and shook her head, her long, dark, wavy hair moving back and forth. “Does it hurt when you do your type of magic?”

Hessa’s eyebrows rose together in an expression that told Aria that she understood. “But, how come there aren’t more like you?”

Aria shrugged and gave a confused look, though in truth, she’d known the answer for over sixty years. Most of her kind had decided that they would rather die than go on absorbing the sins of a mankind that thought throwing innocent people into death camps was a good idea, or slaughtering innocents by the millions was acceptable. There were a few hundred sin eaters in the world, and only a handful left in the United States. She was the only one she knew of in Miracle Falls, California.

“Goodnight,” she said again with a little more agitation in her voice. The Final Rite had exhausted her, and the last thing she wanted to do was recall memories of the 1940’s.

As she went down the steps of the front porch and headed toward her car, she slipped her hands into her leather jacket pocket. A biting chill hung in the November air, but what caused a tremor in her fingers and her body to shudder was the effect of the ritual. It tired her out, making her feel like an athlete who had just passed her peak and was about to head downhill. She knew of only one solution to that.

She shoved those thoughts aside and concentrated on what she could attain immediately. She wanted a big ass glass of wine. She needed her nice, warm bed. And then, she needed to magically be prepared in the morning to serve as nanny to a mind-reading ten year old, and her awkward older brother who probably knew more about human history and magic than most scholars in the world.

Joy.

Chapter 2

Harry

Curses were a funny thing.

They were like a chronic disease that just kept agitating you, breaking you down until it finally destroyed you. Truth be told, Harry would’ve preferred a quick death that night when he fought the wizard, Warren Bright. Instead of snapping his neck, the twisted bastard blasted him with an eerie force that seeped into his clothes, skin, and mind. Imperare, was what it’s called. To Harry, it was sheer hell.

Harry’s hands twitched as he let go of his steering wheel. He pulled his key out of the ignition and threw on his jacket. His stomach churned as he felt the familiar throb in his ears and as his eyesight blurred.

Not yet, he thought. I’m already here.

He got out and locked the door to his black ’77 Maverick. He didn’t like being out so late at night in this part of the city, but when the choice was between running into a few gang members and the occasional wino, versus loosing his damn mind and going on a killing spree, he’d gladly take his chances with the thugs. If he was lucky, maybe they’d put a bullet through his head.

He intentionally parked under the only available lamp light in the parking lot. He briskly made his way past the few cars occupying spaces, finding an odd solace in the gravel crunching beneath his feet. It made him feel like he was still in control of his body and mind, that he still had a physical connection to this world.

“You got an extra dollar, Harry?” Chad sat against the side of the building the parking lot was attached to. He probably hung out on this side instead of near the front because Mayra threatened to cure his alcoholism with an alchemical potion.

Harry’s hands trembled. Shit. He didn’t have time for this. “Not now, Chad. I’ve gotta see Mayra before she closes the shop.”

Chad flipped him off, his scraggly beard reeked of liquor and un-brushed teeth. “Harry…it’s only a buck! Come on!”

“Shut up, Chad.” He turned the corner and stepped onto the sidewalk, ignoring Chad’s insult that he was a selfish bastard.

He approached the front door of Gaia’s Apothecary and hammered on the door with a tight fist. The throbbing in his ears drowned out the sound of traffic from passing cars and the barking of a few dogs. He prayed Mayra had his potion ready. His nerves calmed a little when he saw the petite blonde woman approach and unlock the door. She flashed him a half-smile and ushered him in.

“I’ve got it ready for you, Harry. Don’t worry.”

He sighed. Good old Mayra. He could always count on her. Maybe if he found Warren, the wizard who cursed him, and forced him to undo it, he’d ask her out for coffee.

Mmmm…coffee sounds nice, a feminine voice purred in his head.

“Mayra, I can hear them! Give me the potion, now!” If he let it progress past this stage, the three spirits who swooped in and possessed him would overtake his will and assume command.

Coffee always gave me jitters and kept me up at night, a nerdy ass male voice commented.

Mayra nearly tripped as she scrambled to her counter and grabbed a small amber bottle with “Harry Storm” written on its white label.

“Stop talking, you hear me? All of you!” He snatched the bottle from Mayra.

You know what I want to do? a third voice, darker and deeper than the other two, asked.

“No!” Harry poured the contents of the bottle down his throat as if it were the elixir of life. He shut his eyes and gripped the bottle so tightly that his knuckles turned white. His entire body grew rigid, tensing up as if expecting a devastating blow.

Instead, the soft hand and lavender scent of Mayra’s perfume made contact with him and ignited his senses. His senses. He was still in control. The spirits did not overtake him.

“It’s okay,” she said. “I made you an extra bottle, in case of an emergency.”

Harry regained his composure, nodding slowly. “Thanks.”

She went back over behind her counter and grabbed an extra amber bottle from what must have been over a hundred filled potions. They were neatly organized on shelves by bottle color and size. She slipped the extra bottle into a paper bag, folded the top, and handed it to Harry with a worried expression.

“You should’ve come yesterday, Harry. If you push it this far again…”

He took out a wad of cash and offered it to her. Her touch lingered just a few seconds longer than usual as she took the money. She slipped it into her pocket.

“I’ll be okay, Mayra. Some snob hired me to keep tabs on the mayor’s chief of staff.”

“And?” She raised an eyebrow. When she wanted to, she could be intimidating. All five feet of her.

He shrugged. “I’ll follow the guy around, take some pictures, probably catch him with a whore…look, the point is, I’ll make enough money to buy some information. The right information I need to find Warren Bright.”

“Just be careful, Harry. And please, be here next Wednesday. Not Thursday.”

“I will. I have no choice.” He gave her a slight nod before turning on his heel and heading toward the exit. He breathed in the lavender scent of her perfume and glanced around the shop one last time, wondering if any of the medicines or potions could help lift the curse for good, and not just stave off its effects for a week.

He headed back outside to the parking lot, finally pausing to give Chad his weekly dollar. He knew the man would probably go buy wine, or something worse, if that was what he was into. He liked to think Chad maybe took it sometimes and got something off the dollar menu at a fast food joint. He bet it pissed these guys off that people didn’t think of giving a few extra cents to cover tax.

As he jumped into his Ford Maverick and started the engine, all he could think about was starting his new assignment. Make the money. Buy the information I want. Find Warren Bright. Rain hell down on him until he lifts the curse.

He’d work out the kinks and details as they came along, but it was as good a plan as any.

***

About the Author

aleshapic2_415x600

I’m a caffeine addict and chocoholic who enjoys reading and writing engaging stories, loveable (and not-so loveable) characters, and expressing my creativity daily. I write fantasy with intriguing characters, action-packed scenes, and always throw in a good dash of humor and romance.

Science Fiction and Fantasy are my favorite genres, but I also adore the classics (Shakespeare, Dante Alighieri, etc.) and I have a soft spot in my heart for Victorian poetry. You can geek out with me all-day every day over these

Some of my favorite contemporary fantasy authors are George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan (rest in peace), J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Jim Butcher (Dresden Files made me love Urban Fantasy), and Ilona Andrews among others. I enjoy movies and shows like Sleepy Hollow, Supernatural, Arrow, The Flash, The Avengers…there are too many to name!

I want to read more comics and graphic novels, please shoot a recommendation or two my way (I LOVE the Hellblazer comics, by the way).

Please don’t be a stranger–I want you to kick up your feet, sip your coffee (or tea) and join in on my weekly rants, discussions, and updates.

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