Sometimes the Past Should Stay There by Carolyn Arnold – Guest Blog and Giveaway

 

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Carolyn Arnold will be awarding  $25 PayPal to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Sometimes the past should stay there…
During the time I was working on Violated, I went through a hard time on a personal level. If any of you reading this have a pet, you know that they are so much more than that. They are family. Well, my female beagle, Chelsea, was in a fight for her life. When I first took her to the vet, I had just expected them to say she had a bug or an infection and that a dose of medication would have her feeling well. But that wasn’t to be the case. In fact, the vet didn’t even know what was wrong with her, at first. It took blood testing to show the underlying cause of her health issues and the prognosis didn’t look good. Yet, she was only five and a half years old. We weren’t ready to lose her; she was family. And there was a spark of hope…

For two weeks, we were at the vet’s almost every day getting her fluids. She fought courageously, even bounced back, but, unfortunately, not to her full health, and then had a quick decline. Sadly, the time came and we had to say good-bye to her. Needless to say with her passing, I went through the what-ifs and if-onlys and they weighed heavily on me for some time. And this was even knowing—from a logical standpoint—that we had done everything possible.

But as I went back to my manuscript, I reflected on the quote that I had chosen. Now, please know, that I’ve never chosen a quote for my books before, but I was moved to do so with Violated, and that was before I knew Chelsea was unwell.
Here is the quote:

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” —Søren Kierkegaard

Wow! There would be no advantage to revisiting the past. Nothing could change the outcome and the fact that I couldn’t bring her back. And really, that’s the premise behind my latest release: we can’t do anything about past choices, they are behind us, all we can do is move forward. This isn’t to say that the what-ifs and if-onlys won’t wash over us at times, but we don’t need to let them drown us. And it doesn’t mean that the pain or heartbreak will completely disappear, but hopefully we will realize we can choose to release some of this.

Regarding the loss of Chelsea, I’m still working through my grief, and there are times I can still cry over her (like now, while writing this post), but I am full of gratitude for the time I had with her. And she gave me and my husband everything she had, she spent her entire life with us, and how could we ever ask for more than that? She was a sweet, caring beagle who will never be forgotten. She’s why Violated is dedicated “To Chelsea.”

Sometimes the past should stay there…

The murder is one of the most heinous Brandon Fisher has ever seen, but that’s not why it has his and his colleagues’ attention. The FBI’s interested because the prime suspect is one of their own, Paige Dawson.

But Paige didn’t go to Valencia, California to kill anyone. She had set out on “vacation”—her new lover in tow—only to confront the man who had raped her friend twenty-some years ago. While the hands of the law are tied, she wants him to face the fact that he destroyed a young woman’s life and know that, as an FBI agent, she’ll be watching his every move. But instead of accomplishing her goal, she wound up in the back of a police cruiser.

Now Paige must face off with a hard-nosed detective determined to stick a murder charge to a fed. But with the trained eyes of the FBI on the case, it’s becoming more and more obvious that the evidence lends itself to a serial killing, not an isolated incident. And as long as the local authorities are focused on Paige, the real murderer is still out there, possibly waiting to strike again…

Enjoy an excerpt:

Paige blinked the tears from her eyes. It couldn’t be. She wiped her wet eyes, her gaze not leaving the necklace in her hand. The chain was a common style, but the heart pendant and the letter N…

Still, it didn’t mean this one had been Natasha’s…

Paige swallowed. But she remembered when Natasha had realized she’d lost it. She had dropped on the end of the hotel bed as if all the weight of the world were piled on her shoulders. It was the morning after the rape.

Tears now fell freely down Paige’s cheeks. There was no doubt in her mind that the necklace she now held had been Natasha’s.

Paige cried as the past washed over her and continued to do so until rage replaced her sadness.

Somehow, she would make this son of a bitch pay for what he had done. She was past the point of keeping within the shades of the law and would circumvent legal means if that’s what it took to hold him responsible.

She clasped the necklace around her neck. Had Ferris kept it as some sort of sick notch in his bedpost? If so, that showed a psychology to him that confirmed he was a repeat offender. And if that was his mentality, prison wouldn’t have rehabilitated him, and that meant there were likely date-rape drugs here to prove it.

She stormed from the bedroom and toward the bathroom.

Beyond the point of caring anymore if she left her fingerprints behind, she emptied the contents of the medicine cabinet, and his toiletries now filled the sink.

Nothing.

She rushed back to his bedroom and tore it apart. The drugs were here somewhere. A man like Ferris wouldn’t stop raping…

Several minutes passed as she searched, and when she was finished, his bedroom looked like a tornado had struck. But still no pills.

Maybe she was being ridiculous, hoping to find something where there was nothing. And even if she found the drugs, what did she hope to accomplish? While possession of date-rape drugs was illegal, her means of getting them would make them inadmissible in any court. But she couldn’t stop. All she could see was her friend’s body in that casket—the way her face, even in death, showed her tortured existence.

She hurried downstairs to the kitchen. There was no way she was stopping now.

She searched each cupboard and drawer, pulling out items and rooting to the back. She had one place left to look, and as she opened it, she saw that it was a catchall drawer. Stuffed with anything and everything from a meat thermometer, to sandwich bags, to tin foil, to… She pulled out a sleeve of pills. She flipped them and read the stamp on the silver backing. Allergy pills.

She continued working through the contents of the drawer until she reached the last item. It was an Aleve bottle. That was an inconvenient place to keep a pain reliever… She opened it and looked inside. It was only the medication. She was still holding the bottle in her hand when she recalled the one on the counter. She exchanged one for the other, not about to give up. Just because the bottle was labeled one way… She twisted the lid.

Police sirens wailed somewhere nearby, and she paused. Her instinct told her to leave this alone and get out of his house immediately. But it was too late, the whooping sirens were on top of her now, and then the patio door slid open on the other side of the dining room. Two police officers entered the house, guns drawn.

“Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Department! Put your hands on your head!”

“What’s—” The strength drained from her legs, and her head spun. She was under arrest?

Oh God. That woman must have called the police.

“I said, put your hands on your head!” the same officer shouted.

Another officer went around behind her, stripped her of her gun, passed it off to the second officer, and proceeded to cuff her. “You have the right to remain silent—”

“This isn’t what it looks like.”

“It looks like you’re ransacking the house of a dead man.”

A dead man?

“I’m an FBI agent. I can explain—”

“You can do that down at the station.”

About the Author:

CAROLYN ARNOLD is the international best-selling and award-winning author of the Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher, and McKinley Mystery series. She is the only author with POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT.™

Carolyn was born in a small town, but that doesn’t keep her from dreaming big. And on par with her large dreams is her overactive imagination that conjures up killers and cases to solve. She currently lives in a city near Toronto with her husband and beagle. She is also a member of Crime Writers of Canada.

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When the Serpent Bites by Nesly Clerge – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Nesly will be awarding a signed paperback copy of When The Serpent Bites to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

MediaKit_BookCover_WhenTheSerpentBitesFrederick Starks has it all—a gorgeous wife who was his high school sweetheart, three beautiful children, a mansion and cars others envy, millions in the bank, respected in his community, admired by his employees, loved and respected by loyal friends. He revels in the hard-earned power and control he’s acquired. As the saying goes, “All that glitters is not gold,” which Starks discovers when gut-wrenching betrayal by his wife sends him over the edge and into a maximum security prison. There, Starks is a new “fish,” stripped of nearly everything he’s always relied on. In that place, where inmates and guards have their own rules and codes of conduct, Starks is forced to face the darker side of life, and his own darker side, especially when the betrayals, both inside and outside the prison, don’t stop. He must choose which path to follow when the line between right and wrong becomes blurred: one that leads to getting out of the physical and emotional hellhole he finds himself in or one that keeps him alive.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Two wrongs don’t make a right.

How often his grandfather had repeated that old adage while Starks was growing up. Perhaps that was the seed of the twisted tree his and Kayla’s marriage had become, he thought. They’d each ignored the meaning of that phrase intended to make reasonable people pause before they acted. They’d both failed miserably.

Somewhere in the recesses of his mind he recalled hearing someone say, though he couldn’t remember who, “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they will.”

Damn easy to say. Not so easy to practice.

His father’s absence from his life was one he never meant to copy, and certainly never in this way. Starks’s father stayed with his wife and son until Starks was three. Then he left; removed himself from their lives, as though he’d never existed.

Starks’s mother had struggled to support them. When Starks was five, she moved them into her father’s house, at his insistence, and where several other relatives lived within a small radius.

His grandfather had never gone beyond fourth grade—he’d quit school to help his family with their farm, which they lost—and was why he, along with his daughter, was strict with Starks about education. That time had formed habits and beliefs about a work ethic, which he demonstrated to a young Starks by rising each morning at five to get some chores done and to get to work a half hour earlier than his 7 a.m. shift at the clothing factory. He woke his grandson as well.

A sleepy six-year-old Starks asked, “Why do you get up so early. Why do I have to get up too?”

“Better to start early, Freddy. You get a lot done that way.”

“But why do you go to work so early?”

“I go a half hour early because I don’t own the factory. If I owned the factory, I’d go two hours early. It’s a discipline you want to practice. You want to take good care of your family when you’re a man, don’t you? Want them to be proud of you, don’t you?”

“I guess. Can I have some cereal?”

The old man poured cereal into a bowl. “You practice now so it becomes natural to you later.” He added milk. “Practice now to build stamina and character. A man’s character’s his calling card in life.”

Every weekend, holiday, and summer break, no matter the weather, Starks did yard work and chores at his home and for a few older relatives. His services were unpaid—“So you learn the true value of being paid for your labors”—his grandfather told him. The older and stronger he got, the more work the old man found for him to do, until Starks was legally old enough to get one or more part-time jobs that paid. He was allowed to keep a small amount of what he earned to use as walking around money. The rest went into savings.

The other relatives, for the most part, were old-school. This included how they felt about divorce: It just wasn’t done. This, however, didn’t prevent husbands from cheating on their wives and not being bothered about doing so. Even if wives felt shamed by their husbands’ infidelities, they shared the belief that it was even more shameful to divorce, and equally shameful to remarry. How many times had he listened to these matters discussed by the older relatives over coffee at their kitchen tables? They’d practically spoon-fed such beliefs to him.

Starks’s mother, Lynn, remarried anyway. The relatives showed leniency in her situation, since her husband had abandoned her and her child. It was a short-lived union, lasting long enough to provide Starks with two stepsisters for a couple of years. The three children had been close, until the divorce and his stepsisters’ move with their father to the opposite coast ended any interaction.

He still believed the philosophy of the men in his family, his role-models: satisfy your curiosity and appetites; no point in going hungry when life’s a buffet.

They should have told him to be discreet.

And he should have listened to his family’s initial opinion about Kayla.

About the Author: Nesly Clerge received his bachelor’s degree in physiology and neurobiology at the University of Maryland, and later pursued a doctoral degree in the field of chiropractic medicine. Although his background is primarily science-based, he has finally embraced his lifelong passion for writing. Clerge’s debut novel, When the Serpent Bites, will be available in 2015, with the sequel to follow in 2016. His debut novel explores choices, consequences, and the complexities of human emotions, especially when we are placed in a less-than-desirable setting. When he is not writing, Clerge manages several multidisciplinary clinics. He enjoys reading, chess, traveling, exploring the outdoors, and spending time with his significant other and his sons.

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Killer Pursuit by Jeff Gunhus – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Jeff will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

MediaKit_BookCover_KillerPursuitWhen a secret webcam is found in the Georgetown bedroom of a murdered high-society call girl, everyone in Washington, DC wants the recording…especially the killer.

After a high-society call girl is brutally murdered in her Georgetown home, investigators find two cameras hidden in the walls of her bedroom. One has its memory erased, presumably by the murderer. The second is a webcam with an encrypted connection…and no-one knows who’s on the other end. Whoever has the recordings has embarrassing leverage against some of the most powerful men in DC, not to mention a video of the murder showing the identity of the killer.

FBI Special Agent Allison McNeil is asked by beleaguered FBI Director Clarence Mason to run an off-the-record investigation of the murder because of the murder’s similarity to a case she worked a year earlier. Allison knows the most direct path to apprehending the killer is to find the videos, but rumors that the victim’s client list may include some of Washington’s most powerful men makes her doubt the director’s motives. As she starts her investigation, she quickly discovers that she’s not the only one pursuing the recording…but that the most aggressive person racing against her might be the murderer himself.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Allison McNeil tensed when she spotted the first shadow dart through the mist and take cover behind a tree. In the early-morning light it took her a while to pick out all six members of the Hostage Rescue Team approaching the cabin, but within a minute she could clearly see the tactical team converging on their target.

The small building stood on a rise, up from the swampy, flood-prone land around it. Wood-slated walls tilted precariously inward, twisting the windows into deformed rectangles. Moss and dead leaves covered the roof. The place smelled and looked like decay, well on its way to inevitable reclamation by the weeds and vines choking the cabin to a miserable death.

And, if Allison was right, the place deserved what it got. Hell, if she was right, she had half a mind to take a match to the place after everything was done.

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_KillerPursuitJeff Gunhus is the author thriller and horror novels for adults and the middle grade/YA series, The Templar Chronicles. The first book, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his reluctant reader eleven-year old son excited about reading. It worked and a new series was born. His books for adults have reached the Top 100 on Amazon and have been Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Finalists.

After his experience with his son, he is passionate about helping parents reach young reluctant readers and is active in child literacy issues. As a father of five, he leads an active lifestyle in Maryland with his wife Nicole by trying to constantly keep up with their kids. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of the City Dock Cafe in Annapolis working on his next novel.

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The Purse by Julie A. Burns – Spotlight and Giveaway

 

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Julie will be awarding 1 printed book of The Purse or 2 ebooks (The Purse and a second of their choice) from RRPI to a randomly drawn winner (international) via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

When Lydia Blackwell visits her dying father for the last time, he reveals the deeply hidden truth about her mother. After the funeral, the stranger Derek Meade gifts her with a gorgeous antique purse. But before she has the chance to connect with the man who knew her father intimately, Lydia finds Derek murdered in his home.

Lieutenant Sonja MacIntosh is assigned to investigate Mr. Meade’s death, but her career on the force never prepared her for Lydia Blackwell. As Sonja works to solve the murder, Lydia takes the greatest risk of her life in leaving Chicago to search for clues to her mother’s past. Their instant attraction surprises them both, but even through the chaos Lydia can’t deny the intensity of her feelings for the strong willed Lieutenant.

Lydia’s possession of the antique purse throws her already chaotic life into a whirlwind of kidnapping, blackmail, vengeful mob bosses, and mind-numbing revelations. Through it all, Lydia must find the strength to accept herself – and those closest to her – despite their darkest secrets.

Enjoy an excerpt:

At thirty-eight, Lydia Blackwell was a striking woman, taller than most, but not quite six-foot, with long, flowing black hair and hazel eyes in which many men could lose themselves. Many men, however, would not. It took several years for Lydia to realize that men didn’t make her heart beat faster. It wasn’t until college that she discovered her real self, thanks to a beautiful, blonde study-partner. Something in her had captured Lydia’s heart and she was never the same again. To many of her friends, it had just been “experimenting”. But this was Lydia’s life, her soul, and her very being. Still, it wasn’t everything.

For years, Lydia kept her innermost thoughts and her secret life to herself. Her father would never have understood her way of thinking—of being. It was possible he could have made the assumption. After all, there were no men around and no children. There were so many things she couldn’t discuss with her father, nothing resembling emotions, or even people about whom she’d felt emotional. No, nothing like that. Certainly not even Danielle. Oh Danielle. Lydia’s mind drifted away as she traveled the open road closer to her father’s house.

Danielle Baldwin certainly had issues, but issues were Lydia’s specialty. Lydia was a psychotherapist and ran her own practice in a posh suburb of Chicago. Five years had passed since she first saw Danielle smile, and now Lydia held therapy groups out of her home. So much had changed, yet somehow the feelings remained the same.

About the Author:

Julie A. Burns is a native Iowan born in Marshalltown, Iowa and raised in Davenport, Iowa. After her parent’s divorce at age 7, she took to writing, whether it was her diary or poems about people she met or situations that bothered her. After graduating from high school in 1983, she spent time working as a Nurse’s Aide in different nursing homes in Iowa. In 1989, she gave birth to a daughter, Brittany and raised her as a single parent. In the same year, she enrolled at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology in 1994. Since then, Julie has spent time working with developmentally disabled adults and the mentally ill throughout Iowa and also in Wyoming, where she lived for 6 years. Julie currently lives in Waterloo, Iowa with her spouse. When she’s not writing, she enjoys being a grandmother to 3 year old Sophie.

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Porcelain Doll by Joe Cosentino – Q&A

Joe Cosentino has just released the second book in the Jana Lane mystery series, Porcelain Doll, and has stopped by to visit with us.

Can you tell us a little bit about creating the Jana Lane mystery series?

As a child I loved child stars like Shirley Temple, Hayley Mills, and Patty Duke, seeing their movies over and over. So I created a heroine who was the biggest child star ever until she was attacked on the studio lot at eighteen years old. In PAPER DOLL the secret behind that attack is exposed.

In PORCELAIN DOLL, it is 1982 and Jana is thirty-nine years old, living in a mansion in Hyde Park, New York. She makes a comeback film and uncovers who is being murdered on the set and why. Her heart is set aflutter by her incredibly gorgeous co-star, America’s heartthrob Jason Apollo. The other suspects include Jana’s James Dean type young co-star, her older John Wayne type co-star, her children’s Eve Harrington type nanny, the film’s gossipy makeup and hair artist, a local reverend trying to stop the film’s production, and Jason’s agent.

In SATIN DOLL (not yet released), Jana and family head to Washington, DC, where Jana plays a US senator in a new film, and becomes embroiled in a murder and corruption at the senate chamber. She also embarks on a romance with Chris Bruno, the ex-professional football player detective.

In CHINA DOLL (not yet released), Jana heads to New York City to star in a Broadway play, enchanted by her gorgeous co-star Peter Stevens, and faced with murder on stage and off.

Through the course of the books, Jana not only solves the mysteries, but also reclaims the courage and fortitude she had as a child. This is an important message for all of us. As one reviewer wrote, she starts out as a wounded bird, and ends as tiger.

Was PAPER DOLL well received?

Yes, here are a few of the rave reviews: “Paper Doll is a superbly crafted mystery with an eclectic cast of characters that will engage you and elicit some very emotional responses as you are completely caught up in the events that unfold in these pages. Everyone has secrets and the people in Paper Doll have them in spades!” Fresh Fiction

“If you like novels that are filled with new and old Hollywood, and a range of sub-plots, you are going to love this!” Saguaro Moon Reviews

“I liked that there was enough evidence for each of the suspects to keep me guessing until the very end.” Molly Lolly Reviews

“Joe Cosentino knows how to keep his readers’ interest with every page.” Universal Creativity Digital Magazine

“The setting, the characterization and the plot keep you turning the pages.” The Book Mistress

“Joe Cosentino has crafted an engaging tale of secrets, lies and deceit set in that crazy, ego driven scene called Hollywood.” Deb Sanders

“Mr. Cosentino has produced a masterpiece of mystery” “The story gripped me from the start and there were enough twists and turns, with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure, to keep hold of me until the end of the book.” “Great book, can’t wait for book 2.” Readers’ Favorite

Who is your favorite character in PORCELAIN DOLL? And why?

Jana’s agent, Simon, is my favorite character for five reasons. He is amazingly resilient, old world Hollywood, incredibly funny, loyal to Jana, and most importantly, I want to play him in the movie version!

Which one of your characters was the hardest one to write? And why?

Reverend Charlton, the reverend protesting Jana’s film, was difficult to write since he is so frightening. I could never understand why some people use religion to try to attack and demonize others.

Do you think Christians would be offended by his character?

I sure hope not. Jana seems like a true Christian to me since she tries to love her neighbor as herself, not judge others, and help the downtrodden and outcasts. Reverend Charlton doesn’t seem very Christian to me since he uses his power and wealth to demean others.

Which one of your characters did you enjoy writing the most? And why?

Jana’s young co-star, Trevor, was fun since he has such a huge ego and is certainly a rebel without a cause

You’ve acted with Bruce Willis (A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM onstage), Nathan Lane (THE ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT onstage), Rosie O’Donnell (AT&T Industrial), Holland Taylor (ABC-TV movie MY MOTHER WAS NEVER A KID), Charles Keating (NBC’s ANOTHER WORLD), and Jason Robards (Commercial Credit Computer commercial) to name a few. Did you use your background as an actor to write PORCELAIN DOLL?

Definitely! As one reviewer of PAPER DOLL wrote, I used my knowledge of show business to devilish ends. Actually, I used my background in each of the Jana Lane novels, since I know the ins and outs on a movie set. Thankfully nobody was murdered on my sets.

Why did you set the books in the 1980’s?

I love the music, hair styles, clothing, and decadence of that era. I had great fun writing about Jana’s mansion, wardrobe, makeup, and hairstyles. I was also able to incorporate some of the music, films, television shows, Broadway shows, and political and social events of the era, including the AIDS epidemic. I needed to do my research and remember back (though I was a mere child in the 1980’s-hah).

What are the difficulties in writing a series?

On the positive side, the leading characters are so real to me, each book is like visiting with old friends. I love Jana and I enjoy every moment with her. On the negative side, for continuity I need to keep a notebook full of information on each character and the various repeat locations—i.e. every room in Jana’s Hyde Park mansion.

How have the reviews been?

Amazing so far. Here are two examples. “Porcelain Doll is Joe Cosentino at his finest. We are drawn back to the fashions and attitudes of the 1980’s in a character-driven story full of intrigue and passion.” Kirsty Vizard, Divine Magazine

“Beautifully written and intensely detailed, Porcelain Doll is one not to be missed. Flirtatiously decadent with a strong moral undertone, set in a decade of extraordinary social change this is a story of its period that is as poignant today as it was then. Joe Cosentino controlled the emotions that the book encouraged with a deft but delicate touch. Suspenseful and mysterious, Porcelain Doll is a masterful creation, one that was impossible not to be affected by.” Carol Fenton, BooksLaidBare Reviews

How are the Jana Lane mysteries different from the Nicky and Noah mysteries?

Each of the Nicky and Noah comedy mysteries published by Lethe Press is loaded with wacky humor and romance in a fast-paced whodunit. Since I am a college theatre professor/department head, and theatre departments are havens of mystery, secrets, romance, and high humor; the series takes place at an Edwardian style New England college. In DRAMA QUEEN theatre college professors are dropping like stage curtains. With the inept local detectives, it is up to Directing professor, Nicky Abbondanza to use his theatre skills (including playing other people) to solve the murders, while he directs a murder mystery onstage. Complicating matters is Nicky’s intense crush on Assistant Professor of Acting, handsome Noah Oliver, the prime suspect in the murder. In DRAMA MUSCLE Nicky and Noah have to use their theatre skills to find out why musclemen are dropping like weights in the Physical Education department while Nicky directs the Student Bodybuilding Competition. In DRAMA CRUISE (not released yet), Nicky and Noah go on a cruise to Alaska, and discover why college theatre professors are going overboard like lifeboats while Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship.

Have you written other books besides mysteries?

Yes. My MM romance novellas are published by Dreamspinner Press. They are AN INFATUATION, A SHOOTING STAR, A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, and THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND. I also have my novels set in a New Jersey beach resort called Cozzi Cove. Though I hide under a beach umbrella due to my fair skin, I love the beach! Nine Star Press is the publisher of COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK and COZZI COVE: MOVING FORARD (not yet released).

What are you writing now?

Ragdoll, the next Jana Lane mystery, where Jana stars in a TV murder mystery series. You guessed it! Life imitates art yet again.

How do you deal with bad reviews?

Most of my reviews and reader response have been incredibly positive, which fuel my writing. What a gift it is for a reader to post a positive review on Amazon or Goodreads, relating how something I’ve written has moved them, made them laugh, made them cry, think about something new, or changed their life. I can’t think of anything better. As for the few bad reviews, I don’t read them. As my mother always told me, if you don’t have something nice to say about somebody, don’t say anything. I can’t imagine why anyone would continue reading a book after chapter one if he/she doesn’t like it. Just put it down and read something else. Why attack a book someone has poured his/her blood, sweat, and tears into? As the saying goes, just say no.

Who is your ideal reader of your books?

My ideal reader is a lover of mystery, romance, and Hollywood. Someone who craves being swept away by a story and becoming part of the novel. My reader loves clues, suspects, and plotlines that zigzag with numerous surprises leading to a shocking yet totally justified conclusion. Finally, my reader relishes in beautiful, lush locations and captivating characters as she/he enters the portal of my book.

How can your readers contact you?

I love hearing from readers. They can contact me at http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com.

3_18 porcelain dollIs art imitating life in 1982? Jana Lane, ex-child star, is doing a comeback film about murder. When a crew member is killed on the set, it looks like Jana could be next. Thickening the plot is Jana’s breathtakingly handsome and muscular leading man, Jason Apollo, whose boyish, southern charms have aroused Jana’s interest on screen and off. Will Jana and Jason stop the murderer before the final reel, or end up on the cutting room floor in this fast-paced whodunit with a shocking ending?

Enjoy an excerpt:

As Jana sat waiting for Jack to call for action, she looked up at Jason’s encouraging face. She again was taken aback by his incredible beauty.

Reverend Charlton and Gloria reentered the study.

Jack called for quiet and action. Jana and Jason played the scene, where the detective notifies her of her husband’s death. Jason delivered his lines with warmth, vulnerability, and obvious affection for Jana. In turn, Jana listened then reacted with deep emotions, conveying shock, loss, fear, and hysteria while being comforted by the man she trusted. Jana clutched onto Jason with such force, her fingernail accidently tore a hole in his jacket.

“Cut!” Jack hollered.

While the wardrobe woman repaired Jason’s jacket, Jana noticed Reverend Charlton step out of the study again, this time with Ryan O’Halloran.

After the two men returned, and the jacket was mended, Jack called for slate and action for take two. Jana and Jason did the scene two more times. Each take was more realistic and heart-wrenching than the next, and each appeared as if it were the first time Jana was given the sad news.

After the third take, Jack shouted, “Cut! It’s a wrap. Ryan, let’s move on to the next location.”

Jana wiped the tears from her cheeks.

Jason placed his hand on the side of her face. “You’re amazing.”

“You’re not so bad yourself, partner.”

“You make me better,” he said with adoration in his true-blue eyes.

They shared a smile as again people hurried around the room like ants after a picnic.

Suddenly, Jana heard a loud crash followed by a scream. Leaping from her chair, she followed the horrified gazes of the others in the room to Ryan O’Halloran lying motionless on the floor with a Fresnel tungsten shuttered light next to his head, and blood dripping from his scalp onto the hardwood floor.

About the Author: 3_18 joeAmazon Bestselling author Joe Cosentino wrote Paper Doll the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), Porcelain Doll the second Jana Lane mystery (The Wild Rose Press), Drama Queen the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), Drama Muscle the second Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), An Infatuation & A Shooting Star & A Home for the Holidays & The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press), Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (Nine Star Press), and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming novels are Satin Doll the third Jana Lane mystery (The Wild Rose Press), China Doll the fourth Jana Lane mystery (The Wild Rose Press), Drama Cruise the third Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), and Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward (Nine Star Press).

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Once Upon a Lie by Michael French – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Michael will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

MediaKit_BookCover_OnceUponALieOnce Upon a Lie is about a smart, ambitious sixteen year old, Alexandra, who chooses to keep silent when she learns terrible secrets about both her father and her mother, whom she grew up adoring. The price of keeping her “perfect” family together soon unravels her well-planned future, and puts in jeopardy the life of a young stranger whom she befriends and ultimately falls in love with. We learn how your life can end at any time, and it can end more than once. And then it can be saved.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Jaleel began to wonder if running away was the smartest thing. Detective Patterson might have forensic evidence, but he couldn’t have any real proof that Jaleel had killed his father. But what Texas jury would believe the story of a twelve-year-old black kid?

Come on, focus, Jaleel thought as he studied a map from the glove box. His plan was to travel northwest, cross into New Mexico, and ditch the Chevy. He would take a bus to Arizona or California. He would find a place to live, get a job, and go to school. He just hadn’t figured out the details. Maybe he’d have to lie about his age to get work. How expensive were apartments? He had never been completely on his own. He hoped that inside him was a gyroscope, the kind he had read about, with an interior spinning wheel to keep him steady.

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_OnceUponALieMichael R. French graduated from Stanford University where he was an English major, focusing on creative writing, and studied under Wallace Stegner. He received a Master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. He later served in the United States Army before marrying Patricia Goodkind, an educator and entrepreneur, and starting a family. In addition to publishing over twenty titles, including award-winning young adult fiction, adult fiction, biographies ad self-help books, he has written or co-written a half-dozen screenplays, including Intersection, which has won awards in over twenty film festivals. He has also had a long business career in real estate, living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His passions include travel, collecting rare books, and hanging with friends and family. He describes his worst traits as impatience and saying “no” too quickly; his best are curiosity, taking risks, and learning from failure.

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I Wish I Could Have a Do-Over by Lisa Regan – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Lisa Regan will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

I WISH I COULD HAVE A DO-OVER

That time in 1994 when I sent out one of my crappy YA novels to literary agents and got a call from one of them—only to blow them off. DOH! Lesson: follow through and don’t be an idiot!

That time I sent my 175,000 word second draft out to agents before it was ready. Lesson: keep your word count down and use CPs!

That time I accidentally sent Agent John Doe before-and-after photos of my living room after my husband rehabbed it. That’s right. I had put Agent JD on my email contacts list since he had taken TWO YEARS to reject me, and when I was sending out the photos I accidentally clicked his name along with the names of various family members. I’m hoping that he deleted it without reading it. I like to pretend that didn’t happen. Lesson: manage your email contacts better!

That time an agent rejected me after two years and I didn’t ask for a referral. Lesson: if an agent has been considering signing you for a really long time, has been willing to go through revisions with you and you feel you have a rapport, but they reject you anyway, ask for a referral!

That time I sent my book to agents when half of it was a psychological thriller and the other half was a romance novel. Lesson: know your genre and stick with it.

That time I had a blog on my website for like, a year and didn’t get any traffic whatsoever besides my mom and my best friend. Lesson: if you’re going to blog, do it where people will see it and cross-promote on social media sites.

That time I had a moment of raging insecurity after an agent told me she couldn’t stop thinking about my book but wanted to take baby steps. I emailed her and asked her if there was something off-putting about me. I thought she would say, “There is NOW!” but she was very gracious and reassuring that I was just fine. My book just needed work. Lesson: we’re all insecure, writers most of all. Keep it to yourself or within your close circle of friends.

That time I didn’t use commas. Like, at all. 430 pages, no commas. Lesson: commas are your friend.

That time I did a very lengthy, in-depth critique for someone in a rush and then when she did my book, she put in a comma and sent it back. When I asked her for something more, like her overall impressions, she stopped returning my emails. Okay, so maybe she needs a do-over on that one. Lesson: not all critique partners are created equal so if you find a good one, make sure to keep that person happy!

MediaKit_BookCover_ColdBloodedFourteen years ago, high school track star Sydney Adams was gunned down in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. The investigation yielded useless clues, and the case went cold. But homicide detective Augustus Knox never gave up on finding Sydney’s killer. Now, retired from the police force and with only months to live, he enlists the help of private investigator Jocelyn Rush to clear the case once and for all.

Armed with little more than a theory as to who murdered Sydney, Jocelyn tries to lure a killer into the open. But unraveling the mystery means facing off against a cunning psychopath whose ruthlessness knows no bounds. When more bodies start to pile up, Jocelyn has to decide just how far she’s willing to go to catch a cold-blooded killer.

Enjoy an excerpt:

She stumbled, crying out as her left foot tangled with a rogue tree root poking up through a crack in the concrete. Her hands shot out, prepared to break her fall, but her legs stuttered, almost of their own volition, finding purchase. She stopped, leaning against the offending tree. Her chest heaved. Sweat ran down her forehead and into her eyes, irritating them. Laughter erupted from her diaphragm. How many times had she run this path? Hundreds. Sprained ankle by way of tree root was a rookie move. This was exactly the problem. This distraction.

Pop.

It sounded like a firecracker and registered as a searing, stabbing pain in the back of her right thigh. Like a hot poker. Before she could react, another pop sounded, this one closer. Then two more. She suddenly tasted dirt in her mouth, and her temple was resting on that damn tree root before she could even begin to process what was happening to her. Her legs wouldn’t work. Panic, hot and frenzied, closed in on her. What was happening?

“Help,” she said, but her voice came out small and squeaky. She thought she heard footsteps approaching from behind. Sydney willed her legs to move, to stand, to scramble, to run. She reached forward with her right arm, feeling for the base of the tree. She had to get up. As her surroundings began to fade to an inky, charcoal blackness, she felt a tug on her lower body.

“Please,” she croaked.

Then the darkness swallowed her.

About the Author: Lisa Regan is an Amazon bestselling crime/suspense novelist. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Master of Education Degree from Bloomsburg University. She is a member of Sisters In Crime, Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. Her debut novel, Finding Claire Fletcher won Best Heroine and was runner up in Best Novel in the eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards for 2013. Her second novel, Aberration won Best Twist in the 2014 eFestival of Words Best of the Independent Book Awards. Her third novel, Hold Still was released by Thomas & Mercer in 2014 and has been translated into German. She is at work on her fifth novel.

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Where Ideas Come From by W.E. Lawrence

Long and Short Reviews welcomes W.E. Lawrence.

Where Ideas Come From

Authors, are you looking for new and fresh ideas on which to base your next novel? How about this? Take three or four old ideas from various sources, mold and shape them, then carve the edges of each piece so they fit together, and create a whole new concept?

Seriously, think of all your favorite movies, books, television shows, magazine articles, life experiences, etc. Then pick out parts that intrigue you and mold it into your own creation. For example, if you like the characterization of the protagonist in a movie and he or she was an American, ask yourself how that character would perform as an Australian. Then continue to consider different scenarios. Change the location, change the story’s objective or goal, change the time period, all using your own voice.

Changing any of these components can bring about a whole new set of situations for you, as an author, to deal with. Like, if you change the time period from modern day to the turn of the twentieth century, what problems are the characters going to have to overcome not having modern technology? What different weapons would a medieval story have? What different forms of transportation? Different clothing, etc. How would the whole civilization and way of life be?

If you change the location to a different country, how different is the scenery, the architecture, even the food? A tremendous alternative could be to change the objective to the story. If the goal of your favorite book was to find an ancient treasure, how would the story turn out if instead the objective was to recover a sensitive document vital to the security of a nation?

In writing my recently released novel, Chakana, Encounter in the Sacred Valley, I gleaned from a variety of different sources to come up with the foundation for a work of my own. If you read the book, you may be able to determine the basis for a few of the ideas, but my guess is it’s not what you think. The point is, there exist an endless reservoir from which you can base your future projects. My suggestion is that you watch as much as you can, read as much as you can, and keep your eyes and ears open. Then just use your God given imagination. It’s the best way I know to combat writer’s block.

2_18 lawrence ChakanaIn 1940, before the start of World War II, James Fleming, the original British secret agent, races on a high-stakes chase to track down the ancient lost treasure of King Huascar of the Incas. He must recover it before the Nazis do or the whole world will be in imminent danger.

Fleming joins forces in the remote ruins of Peru, South America with Kate Rhodes, a policewoman on leave from the United States, her archaeologist brother, Nick, and their college professor, Dr. Charlie. Together, they must decode and interpret the clues, and face the challenges of the Chakana on their hunt for the treasure.

The group is hounded throughout their search of the ancient Sacred Valley by international artifact smugglers, familiar with the Chakana and working with the Nazis, who are determined to acquire the treasure to help finance their war effort. Intrigue, danger, suspense, action, adventure, and even romance abound in this brave band’s quest to save the free world.

About the Author: 2_18 W. E. Lawrence HeadshotW. E. Lawrence graduated in 1978 from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill with a BS in business administration. He has run a successful home health care supplies distributorship for the past twenty-three years.

Passionate about God, writing, reading, family, sports, politics, and America, Lawrence currently lives in Davidson, North Carolina, with his lovely wife and their two wonderful children.

W. E. Lawrence enjoys writing historical romance novels filled with action, adventure, and suspense. He published his debut novel Guardian of Paradise in October 2014. His latest book Chakana was published in December 2015. To learn more, go to the author’s website.

Readers can connect with W. E. Lawrence on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

My Publishing Journey by Judy Penz Sheluk – Guest Post and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Judy Penz Sheluk will be awarding $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

My Publishing Journey
by Judy Penz Sheluk

I began writing The Hanged Man’s Noose on Christmas Eve, 2011. That may seem like an odd day to start a first novel, but I’m a freelance writer/editor in my day jobs (yes, jobs with an “s”) and for the first time in ages, I found myself with ten days off and no real plans beyond the usual Christmas dinners. By the end of that “vacation,” I was hooked, and for the next several months I wrote every single day. Sometimes it was only for a half hour, sometimes a few hours, but I was on a mission.

In June 2012, I met with an agent at the Bloody Words Mystery Writing Conference in Toronto. She loved my premise: a greedy real estate developer comes to a small town with plans to build a mega-box store on the town’s historic Main Street. She asked me to send her the full manuscript when I finished the novel. I didn’t realize, at the time, that most agents won’t even listen to a pitch unless a book is ready for submission, and certainly never from a beginning writer. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss!

I told my husband, family and friends. Drank champagne. Celebrated. Danced in my pj’s. The fact that I was still on the first draft of my very first novel seemed like such a minor point. Surely I’d have the book finished within a few months. Visions of advances danced through my head.

Spurred on by the agent’s enthusiasm, I completed the first draft by September. Reread and revised it in October and November. Polished it up in December and sent it to two friends to read in January 2013. Got their feedback in February, made another round of minor revisions, and voila! I was ready to submit.

I drafted up a decent query letter, reminded the agent of our meeting and waited. Six weeks went by without so much as a word. Was it too soon to follow up? I had no idea what the protocol was, but since I hadn’t received an acknowledgment to my first email submission, I decided to send another email. This turned out to be wise; she hadn’t, in fact, received the first email. On the plus side, she did remember me, and encouraged me to resubmit the entire novel, along with a bio, synopsis and marketing plan.

The bio wasn’t difficult. I had a professional bio as a freelance writer and editor. The synopsis was almost as difficult as writing the book. For those of you unfamiliar with a synopsis, it’s a one to two page document that tells the entire story, from start to finish, including the ending. That’s right: you are expected to boil 70,000 words down to less than 1,000 (and some agents/publishers want no more than 500 words). As for the marketing plan, I didn’t even have a website yet, let alone a Twitter account, Facebook page or Pinterest profile. I wrote that I was working on all four. Then I took a website course and got started.

I’d like to tell you that this dream agent wrote back with an offer of representation, but the reality is after four months of waiting, I received this email:

“Thank you so much for your patience while I reviewed this project! After much debate and multiple reads, we’re ultimately going to pass. I think that your voice is superb, and the premise is very strong, I just didn’t fall entirely in love with the characters. Please know that this was not an easy decision, and I genuinely wish you the very best with it.”

Did the rejection sting? Of course it did. The first cut really IS the deepest, if only because it marks the first loss of innocence. So I did what anyone would do. I cried. Shamefacedly confessed my failure to my family and friends. Brooded and ate junk food. Read about famous authors and their experience with rejection before they were published. Their stories gave me hope.

After a couple of weeks of feeling sorry for myself, I went back over my manuscript and started the revision process all over again, this time with an eye to making my characters “more lovable,” or at least more memorable. Then I hired a developmental editor—something I should have done in the first place—and dissected chapter by chapter, adding here, cutting there. The end result was a much stronger book. Unfortunately, we only get one chance with an agent or publisher, unless of course, they encourage you to resubmit. My dream agent hadn’t done that, but because of her encouragement, I completed my first novel, sent it out in the world to be read, and learned from rejection. For that, I’ll be forever grateful.

Here’s what I learned from this experience (and you can too):

• Don’t submit your story before it’s truly ready. Most beginning writers get impatient (and I was no exception). Remember this: you get one chance at an agent or publisher. There are no “do-overs.”

• Once your story is polished to perfection: Don’t query just one agent or publisher, regardless of how enthusiastic they may seem about your project. Writing is subjective and reputable agents are paid ONLY upon the sale of your books. Unknown writers are not on the top of their client wish list.

• Start building your Social Media platform early and methodically. The days of agents and/or publishers doing all (or even most) of the marketing are over. Slow and steady wins this race.

• Learn how to write a decent synopsis. Take a course. Study examples online. Try not to be daunted by the process.

• Believe in your story. Rejection is part of every writer’s life. Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, was rejected 60 times before getting a publishing contract. Learn from it, and move on.

MediaKit_BookCover_TheHangedMansNooseSmall-town secrets and subterfuge lead to murder in a tale of high-stakes real estate wrangling gone amok.

Journalist Emily Garland lands a plum assignment as the editor of a niche magazine based in Lount’s Landing, a small town named after a colorful Canadian traitor. As she interviews the local business owners for the magazine, Emily quickly learns that many people are unhappy with real estate mogul Garrett Stonehaven’s plans to convert an old schoolhouse into a mega-box store. At the top of that list is Arabella Carpenter, the outspoken owner of the Glass Dolphin antiques shop, who will do just about anything to preserve the integrity of the town’s historic Main Street.

But Arabella is not alone in her opposition. Before long, a vocal dissenter at a town hall meeting about the proposed project dies. A few days later, another body is discovered, and although both deaths are ruled accidental, Emily’s journalistic suspicions are aroused.

Putting her reporting skills to the ultimate test, Emily teams up with Arabella to discover the truth behind Stonehaven’s latest scheme—before the murderer strikes again.

Enjoy an excerpt:

The faint scent of vanilla filled Emily’s nostrils. “Pure vanilla extract, the real stuff, not the imitation kind,” a man’s voice called from the back of the store. “Stir one tablespoon into a gallon of paint and you get rid of that new paint smell. I add it to every gallon I sell.” He came out into the open, held out his hand, and smiled. “Emily Garland, I presume.”

The main thing Emily noticed about Johnny Porter, beyond the fact he was roughly her age and drop-dead movie star gorgeous, were his eyes. Eyes so dark brown they looked black. Miner’s eyes, her old pals at boarding school would have called them, the kind of eyes that could dig their way into the depth of your soul. Emily made an effort to collect herself. Acting like an infatuated high school student was not the way to start off her new life in Lount’s Landing.

“And you must be Johnny Porter.” Emily shook his hand, noticing his grip was firm but gentle. Thought his hand lingered a moment longer than necessary. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“Likewise,” Johnny said, although Emily got the distinct feeling he was assessing her. She wondered if she made the grade.

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_TheHangedMansNooseJudy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery, The Hanged Man’s Noose: A Glass Dolphin Mystery was released in July 2015 through Barking Rain Press. Her short crime fiction appears in The Whole She-Bang 2, World Enough and Crime, and Flash and Bang. In her less mysterious pursuits, Judy is the Senior Editor for New England Antiques Journal and the Editor for Home BUILDER Magazine. Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society. Find Judy on her website where she blogs about the writing life and interviews other authors.

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Dog Collar Knockoff by Adrienne Giordano – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Adrienne Giordano to celebrate the release of Dog Collar Knockoff, the second book in her Lucie Rizzo series tomorrow. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win one of two $25.00 gift cards or a swag pack.

2_8 adrienne Dog Collar KnockoffCatering to the pampered paws set took Lucie Rizzo from unemployed to entrepreneur. With her dog walking/chic pet accessory business on the verge of success, Lucie’s ready to make a name for herself. One not tarnished by her dad’s mobster rep.

When an art deal she brokered between clients turns suspicious, it’s up to Lucie to sniff out the truth. She might not know the difference between Monet and Manet, but Rizzos are no strangers to jail time—and Lucie refuses to be someone’s prison bitch.

Unless that someone is a tall, blond and Irish cop. Detective Tim O’Brien certainly knows how to get Lucie hot under the rhinestone collar. And with her on-again-off-again relationship with Frankie Falcone currently off, O’Brien isn’t shy about making her feel wanted, mafia ties and all. Even joining her crack—or crackpot—team on the trail of two paintings with equally shady origins.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Lucie paused in front of the Lutzs’ garage while the door made its ascent. The heat from the tiny cobblestone driveway scorched right through the bottom of her sneakers, and she rocked back on her heels. For what this brownstone cost, the driveway should have come with air-conditioning. After all, Chicago in August? The humidity alone could suffocate her.

Once the door silently halted, Lucie pointed toward the interior door. “Stay alert, Lauren. This is where it gets tricky.”

The newest part-time member of Lucie’s dog walking team studied the door and waited for instructions. Lauren seemed like a nice kid. Well, at twenty, she wasn’t really a kid. Lucie was only six years older. Still, Lauren was new to Coco Barknell and needed to understand the intricacies of working with the dogs.

Particularly this dog.

“The door,” Lucie said, “is your friend. Otis is the deadly combination of a jumper and a runner.”
Lauren scrunched her face. “What?”

“When you open the door, you have to do a body block so he doesn’t squeeze through. He’s an eighty-five pound Olde English bulldog. If you’re not careful, you will either A) wind up flat on your butt with Otis on top of you or B) be chasing him around the neighborhood. I’ve done both and it’s not fun. Plus, it’ll destroy your schedule.”

And with the number of clients Coco Barknell serviced in a day, the schedule was the Bible. As happy as Lucie was about the growth of her dog walking and upscale-dog accessory business, she hated turning the dogs over to others. Of course, she’d done a thorough background check on Lauren, but these animals were almost her babies and she couldn’t trust just anyone with them.

Lucie stepped to the door and planted her feet, weight on her heels. “Are you ready?”

“Ready.”

Lauren smiled and maybe that smile had a bit of lady-you’re-a-fruitcake in it, but the first time Otis did one of his Underdog leaps, she would learn.

Lucie opened the door and the howling began. “Hi, boy,” she said, her voice firm and level, no excitement that would cause a doggie mindmelt. “I’m coming in.”

Slowly, she inched the door open and slid through with Lauren bringing up the rear. Otis did his normal jumping and Lucie steadied herself for the onslaught. “Off!”

Finally, he sat, but he tracked Lauren with his eyes. Then—here we go—unable to withstand the pressure of a new person in his space, he leaped, his long tongue flying in search of a cheek to lick.

“Off!”

But Lucie would never be Cesar Milan when it came to making Otis understand who the alpha was. That was Joey’s specialty. It helped that he was six-foot-four and weighed somewhere in the vicinity of two-thirty.

“Sit, Otis,” Lauren said, her voice calm, yet assertive in a truly enviable way.

Otis sat.

Dressed in micro shorts, a tank top, and sneakers, Lauren epitomized the wholesome, yet sexy college co-ed. Her heart-shaped face and long blond hair only added to the morphing of girl-next-door and sexy vixen. If Lucie wasn’t careful, the girl might drive Coco Barknell’s male clients insane.

But the risk was worth it. So far she’d been a responsible employee who showed up on time, ready to work.

Lucie led her through the kitchen to the utility closet, strategically placed in a nook between the kitchen and the adjoining dining room. Otis’s leash and various other dog supplies—poop bags, treats, shampoo—were all stored there and it made Lucie’s life a whole lot simpler. Too bad all her clients weren’t this organized.

“Whoa. Is this an Arturo Gomez?”

About the Author: 2_8 adrienne Giordano Author PhotoUSA Today bestselling author Adrienne Giordano writes romantic suspense and mystery. She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her workaholic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaten Terrorist (Terrier). She is a co-founder of Romance University blog and Lady Jane’s Salon-Naperville, a reading series dedicated to romantic fiction.

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