*Book Blitz* Murder in A-Minor: A Sam Wedlock Musical Murder Mystery by Janis Thomas

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MURDER IN A-MINOR2 (1)Title: Murder in A-Minor: A Sam Wedlock Musical Murder Mystery

Author: Janis Thomas

Genre: Murder mystery, crime

Date released: May 31st, 2016

Length: 327 pages

Blurb: Former detective Samantha Wedlock is having a bad year. After botching a huge case with the New York PD, Sam flees to her childhood home of Southern California and escapes her demons with the Internet and booze. Her career is over, her instincts have taken a vay-cay, and her music—the songs she composes in her head to help her solve puzzles and the challenges of her life—has abandoned her. When her old flame, sexy Lieutenant Jack Hudson, shows up on her doorstep to ask for her help with the case of two murdered college coeds, Sam refuses. But she can’t resist Jack, and she can’t resist the hunt, and soon becomes enmeshed in the investigation. The more involved she becomes, the more she sees the case as a means of rediscovering the things she’s lost: her purpose, her drive, and her hope for the future. With her music playing at full volume, Sam must re-sharpen her wits and learn to trust her instincts again in order to catch a cunning killer.

Buy Links: Amazon US       Amazon UK

Author bio:

Janis Thomas shoot 2Janis Thomas is the author of Murder in A-Minor, the first book in her Musical Murder Mystery series (available May 2016), as well as three humorous women’s fiction novels, Something New, Sweet Nothings, and Say Never, which was chosen by Chick Lit Central as one of the best books of the year. Janis has written over fifty songs, and two children’s books which she wrote with her dad. When she isn’t writing or fulfilling her PTA duties, Janis likes to play tennis, sing with her sister, and throw wild dinner parties with outrageous menus for friends and loved ones. Janis lives in Southern California with her husband, their two beautiful children and two crazy dogs.

 

https://www.facebook.com/authorjanisthomas

https://twitter.com/janis_thomas

www.janisthomas.com

 

*Book Blitz* Psychopomp and Circumstance (Books of Nethermore #1) by Adrean Messmer

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Psychopomy and CircumstanceTitle: Psychopomp and Circumstance (Books of Nethermore #1)

Author: Adrean Messmer

Genre: Horror, New Adult

Release date: May 1st, 2016

Released by: A Murder of Storytellers

Length: 311 pages

Blurb: It starts on Facebook—an update that Nell doesn’t remember making. It’s bad enough that she’s dying and none of her friends know. Now, she’s pretty sure she’s going crazy too. She sees the Sewercide Man everywhere she goes.

The bright, safe little town of is Bandon descending into darkness, dragging the inhabitants along for the ride. Death follows madness for those bound to the Sewercide Man’s will.

But the Sewercide Man is more than just a ghost or a monster. He is death without justice. He is destruction without remorse. He doesn’t have a plan.

He just wants to bring everyone home.

“A blend of gritty realism and dark supernatural, Psychopomp and Circumstance is Heathers meets It Follows, with a sprinkling of The Twilight Zone, all told with black humor, nihilist teen angst, and a buried need to be loved and accepted.”—Richard Thomas, author of Tribulations

Buy Links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Author bio:

Pychopomp and Circumstance authorAdrean Messmer is a horror writer living in Tulsa, Oklahoma with a tiny human she put together from some spare parts and a technowizard husband. She has a cat named after a Batman villain, and a dog who’s really a magician.

When she was eight, she asked her mother to read Stephen King’s It to her as a bedtime story and her mother actually did it. So, that probably explains a lot.

https://twitter.com/JunkyardPoet


https://www.facebook.com/adeymess/

www.Splatterhouse5.com

 

*Book Blitz & Giveaway* Kale’s Paroxysm by Nina R. Schluntz

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KalesParoxysm_WDTitle: Kale’s Paroxysm

Author: Nina R. Schluntz

Genre: M/M Romance

Date released: April 7th, 2016

Released by: MLR Press, LLC

Length: 311 pages

Blurb: Convinced Martin will come back, despite their volatile history, Kale embarks on a relationship that is perfect if it remains superficial; but Eli’s past is riddled with secrets and Kale’s obsessive nature drives him to uncover it all.

Kale has spent years in a volatile relationship with his ex, Martin. Convinced he will come back, even after a conflict that results in Kale being incarcerated and suspended from his law firm, Kale begins a no-strings-attached relationship with the man he meets in jail.

Eli has always kept his romances with men temporary. He hasn’t always been honest about being gay and he prefers to keep the secrets of his past hidden. Kale’s obsessive nature makes it difficult though, and soon their relationship is edging toward something more. Kale’s possessiveness appears to have no limits, nor do his fits of rage, and Eli worries, as Kale’s affection shifts from Martin to Eli, that he may become Kale’s next victim rather than his lover. 

Buy Links:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Author bio:

KalesParoxysm authorHer husband continues to ensure her stories maintain a touch of realism as she delves into the science fiction and fantasy realm. And their kitty, a rescued Abyssinian, is always willing to stay up late to provide inspiration.

Kale’s Paroxysm” is Nina’s first contemporary novel, but will not be her last. Visit her blog, mizner13.wordpress.com, for information regarding previous and upcoming publications. She also posts book and movie reviews for a wide variety of genres.

On Twitter: @mizner13

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amaranthine.mizner/

Website: https://mizner13.wordpress.com/

Publisher: http://bit.ly/23SXXRQ

On Amazon: http://amzn.to/1qJCuJ4

On Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1WPIlsW \

The author is hosting a giveaway for ONE lucky reader to WIN a $10 Amazon GC!

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*Cover Reveal* Dark Confluence (The Darkening Book 1) by Rosemary Fryth

Dark Confluence - Banner

 

TITLE: Dark Confluence

SERIES: The Darkening Trilogy, Book

1

AUTHOR: Rosemary Fryth
GENRE: Paranormal Horror Thriller

IMPRINT/PUBLISHER: COVET, Bison

Publishing

RELEASES: MAY 3rd, 2016
Dark Confluence - Rosemary Fryth - BISON PUBLISHING

Dark Confluence – Rosemary Fryth – BISON PUBLISHING

SYNOPSIS

It’s just another ordinary day for Jen McDonald. Until she slams

on her brakes and narrowly misses hitting a shrouded woman. Disoriented and stumbling from

her car, she’s stunned when she discovers the woman has disappeared. Unbeknownst to Jen, the

one event triggers many others in the small Australian town of Emerald Hills.

In another part of town, a witch rises up, determined to gain

more power, influence, and wealth. Through persuasiveness, she sets into motion a series of

catastrophic episodes.

People disappear, only to be later found dead, animals are

mutilated, seedlings and saplings suddenly appear that only Jen can see, children go missing, a

strange group of pale men and women show up, and the town folk appear to be entranced.

Amongst this all, Jen is experiencing strange things happening to her as well. Something dark

and sinister is coming and it’s determined to take over the town.

Jen’s world is turned upside down when she’s told by Fionn, a

handsome Fae she sexually attracted to, that it is only she that can save the town and its

residents. Will Jen be brave enough to accept her destiny, even knowing she may have to

sacrifice herself?

ADD to your TBR: http://bit.ly/1qnjwYy
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rosemary Fryth lives in a small, quiet Australian country town

in an upland region that is known as ‘Celtic Country’. She is the author of the self-published

‘Riothamus’ and ‘The Darkening’ trilogies, and the poetry anthology ‘Elemental’. Her interests

include medieval and ancient history, paleoanthropology, astrophysics, and sculpting. Rosemary

lives a happy and peaceful life with her beloved husband in an eighty year old cottage. They care

for one and a half cats, four chickens, and a pond full of frogs. Rosemary will this year be

formalising her lifelong love of writing by starting an online Bachelor of Arts, majoring in

Writing, at a local University.

FOLLOW THE AUTHOR
ABOUT THE PUBLISHER
bison
Bison Publishing
Brooklyn, New York

 

*Promo w/Author Bio & Excerpt* The Double by Alison Brodie

“The luxury of living a lie.”

 

THE DOUBLE

Title: The Double

Author: Alison Brodie

Genre: Women’s fiction, mystery, romance, chick-lit

Date released: January 19th, 2016

Length: 294 pages

Blurb: A night she can’t remember. A week she won’t forget.

*

Beth is mistaken for rock star Sonita La Cruz, and ends up on a billionaire-dollar yacht. As a shift-worker in Glasgow, Beth has only known hardship. Now she’s in a world of uniformed stewards, delicious French food and rows of gorgeous designer clothes. Beth keeps quiet about the mix-up, determined to wear every outfit in her wardrobe before she’s sent home. What’s wrong with a little play-acting? Beth takes to the role of rock diva like a duck takes to water.

Aleksandr, the captain, arrives and is astonished to see a beautiful raven-haired girl lying on deck issuing orders through a loud-hailer. After talking to Beth, Aleksandr realises what has happened. His smuggling buddies, knowing Aleksandr needs to speak to Sonita about a kid’s crisis, grabbed Beth by mistake. Aleksandr is desperate. To save those children, he needs money, but Sonita has disappeared.

Beth rises to the challenge. She looks like Sonita, so why not BE Sonita? Beth does a magazine interview for one million dollars, and ransoms herself for another million. Beth saves the kids … but can she save herself? Too late, Beth discovers why Sonita disappeared.

*

A love story set against the backdrop of a luxury yacht on the Côte d’Azur, a civil war in the Eastern Bloc, and a Glasgow housing estate.

Buy Links: Amazon UK & Amazon US

Author Bio

Alison Brodie Author photo

Alison Brodie is a Scot, with French Huguenot ancestors on her mother’s side of the family. Alison was a photographic model, modelling for a wide range of products, including Ducatti motorbikes and 7Up. She was also the vampire in the Schweppes commercial.

A disastrous modelling assignment in the Scottish Highlands gave Alison an idea for a story, which was to become Face to Face. She wrote Face to Face as a hobby and then decided to send it off to see what would happen. It was snapped up by Dinah Wiener, the first agent Alison sent it to. Three weeks later, Alison signed a two-book deal with Hodder & Stoughton. Subsequently, Face to Face was published in Germany and Holland. It was widely reviewed, ie: “Vain, but wildly funny leading lady.” -Scottish Daily Mail. It was also chosen as Good Housekeeping’s “Pick of the Paperbacks.”

Unfortunately, Alison then suffered from Second-Book Syndrome. The publisher’s deadline loomed and she was terrified because she didn’t have an idea for a story! She found the whole experience a nightmare; and this is why she cautions first-time authors to write more than one book before approaching an agent. She managed to finish the book – Sweet Talk – but it bombed.

While writing Sweet Talk, she moved to Kansas and lived there for two years. She loved the people, their friendliness, their free-and-easy way of life, the history and the BBQs! Sadly, her visa ran out and she had to come back to the UK – although her dream is to one day live permanently in America. Now, Alison lives in Biarritz, France with her rescue mutt, Bayley.

Alison has taken the exhilarating steps to becoming an indie author. Her second ebook, THE DOUBLE, is out on Amazon Kindle with some great reviews. “Excellent.” –San Francisco Book Review.

Alison writes contemporary romance. She aims for a strong plot line, set against the background of a world-changing event, coupled with touches of humour, sexual tension and character transformation.

She loves to hear from her readers.

Link to website: http://www.alisonbrodiebooks.com/#!the-double/c1253

Excerpt

Aleksandr

It was early evening when Aleksandr leapt from his boat and onto the boarding platform of the Kazka. All around the sea boiled as the great engines roared. Why was the Kazka moving? he wondered. Had Gerrard found another captain to replace him?

He saw Gerrard at the top of the stairs and bounded up. ‘Are you sailing?’ he shouted to the butler.

Gerrard’s answer was lost in the roar. As the noise of the engines subsided, Aleksandr spoke again. ‘I’m sorry I’m late, I tried contacting you but my radio is dead.’

I have something to tell you Aleksandr.’

Hearing the grave note in his friend’s voice, Aleksandr stilled. Something was wrong.

We have a passenger aboard,’ Gerrard began. ‘A woman.’

Aleksandr nodded. So far, it didn’t sound too bad.

Her name is Sonita La Cruz.’

Sonita La Cruz?’ Aleksandr repeated cautiously.

That is correct.’

The American singer?’

Yes.’

Aleksandr gripped Gerrard’s arms. ‘My friend, you cannot believe how lucky this is! I have been desperate to speak to her and all this time she was here, as Karimov’s guest.’

She is not a guest of Karimov. As we speak, he is in Marseilles, detained by the French authorities and knows nothing of her presence on board. It was your friend, Boris Lazutin, who brought her here. He found her in Port Glasgow and-’

Stop!’ Aleksandr’s shoulders sagged with bitter disappointment. ‘She is an imposter. An American rock star would have no reason to be in Port Glas-’

It is her,’ Gerrard insisted. ‘Boris looked in her passport.’

Aleksandr scoffed: ‘Sonita La Cruz permitted Boris Lazutin to look in her passport?’

She did not give permission, because …’ Gerrard took a visible breath. ‘There was chloroform in the shipment they picked up …’

Aleksandr felt the first stirrings of unease. ‘And?’

They abducted her.’

No.’ Aleksandr shook his head emphatically. ‘Boris would never do such a thing.’

It was Igor.’

Igor!’ Aleksandr balled his fists. This, he could understand. His old cell-mate had the morals of a barbarian, and what had he, Aleksandr, said to him back in Odessa? ‘How I wish I could speak to Sonita, if only for five minutes.’

The Chechen, ever loyal, had given Aleksandr his wish. But at what cost?

She must have been terrified!

Gerrard reared back in affront. ‘Pas de tout! Boris and Dimitri showed her a message, in English, reminding her of the children and immediately she understood what was happening. She even sang for them and signed autographs.’ Gerrard swept out a hand. ‘And her time with us has been most pleasant, I can assure you. She has been quite content to wait for your arrival … until last night.’ Gerrard sighed. ‘If only you had arrived earlier, this debaçle would never have occurred.’

What happened last night?’

She wanted to go ashore to make a phone call. When I told her she could not leave the ship, she became wild with fury.’ Gerrard held out his palms. ‘But I could not allow her to make that call. Her intentions may be good, they may be bad, but I cannot risk police investigation, especially at this time.’

Yes, yes, of course.’

Gerrard continued: ‘She believes her abduction was part of a game.’

‘A game?’

Mais, oui. The rich become easily bored; it is a curse. They need always to search for fresh amusement. She talked of James Bond and hunting micro-chips that would save the world. Perhaps, she believed a friend had taken her. When she realised this was no game, she accused you, Aleksandr, of masterminding her abduction. She also began to insist that she is not Sonita La Cruz.’

She has been shunted from boat to boat like a barrel of beer. Is it any wonder she wishes to be anyone but herself?’ Aleksandr raked his fingers through the stubble of his hair. There had been a glimmer of hope that this one woman would help them but … now?

Where is she? Take me to her.’

No. You are dirty and unshaven. You must scrub yourself, first.’

No more delay!’ Aleksandr marched off. ‘I brought photos and a video recording to show you – now I can show them to her. And when she sees the suffering, she will forgive everything.’

Gerrard put a hand on the big man’s arm. ‘For the sake of privacy, she has asked me to use her alias, Mademoiselle Skiffington.’ He hurried to catch up with the big man. ‘My friend, you will be disappointed. This woman will not help you. The means by which she has been brought here have cancelled out the good intentions she may have had.’

But I must try.’ Aleksandr had to shout as, once more, the ship’s engines began to roar. ‘Why are we moving?’

Gerrard waited for the noise to subside before answering. ‘Mademoiselle has given the order to turn the Kazka around.’ He shrugged helplessly. ‘She wishes to view the sunset without having to move from her chair.’

Aleksandr gazed at Gerrard in astonishment. He was now aware of classical music. The clarity of the sound system was astounding, as if a live orchestra was performing. He walked onto the open deck. It was a live orchestra; the musicians dressed as angels.

Beside him, Gerrard muttered, ‘She has been making outrageous demands of me. An orchestra dressed in wings. Cocaine. Even peanut butter! It has been a nightmare. She keeps saying, “You want a rock star, pal, well that’s exactly what you’re going to get.”’

As the ship’s engines began to grow in volume, a woman’s voice filled the sky.

STOP THE BOAT – YOU’RE GIVING ME A HEADACHE!’

Then he saw her.

She reclined on a sunbed, holding a loudhailer to her mouth. A small white animal sat on an ornate gold chair beside her. Because the rock star was angled away from him, he could not see her face, only the veil of long black hair cascading over a crimson gown, and a slim brown leg, bent at the knee.

At her command, the engines subsided, leaving only the music. The loudhailer swung to the orchestra. ‘MOZART PIGFART! FUCK OFF!’ She tossed the loudhailer to the deck in childish bad-humour. ‘Gerrard!’ she called peevishly. ‘I need an aspirin.’

Immediately, Mademoiselle,’ Gerrard replied before hurrying away.

Aleksandr hesitated. Was this the woman who had written to him promising her help? He strengthened his resolve against his growing sense of dread and walked forward.

As he drew to a halt beside her chair, he saw a scarlet bikini against brown silken skin and a diamond-studded belt around slim hips – a belt which seemed to be an exact replica to the collar around the animal’s neck. She held a silver teaspoon to the creature’s mouth, watching as the tiny tongue licked the caramel-coloured paste from the spoon. Aleksandr had never been interested in the music scene, but he couldn’t deny this surge of ‘teenage’ excitement that he now stood before someone so famous.

As his shadow fell over her, she waved him away. ‘I am TRYING to look at the sunset.’

He stepped to one side. ‘Miss Skiffington-’ he began.

Where’s my aspirin?’ The sunglasses glanced in the direction of his hands. ‘What do I have to do? Writhe around on the deck in agony?’ With her attention on him now, her gaze travelled sharply up and over him. ‘Oh my God!’ She sat straight. ‘How dare you stand there … dirty. Look at your fingernails – they’re black!

It’s not dirt. It’s engine oil.’

Engine oil!’ She recoiled; pulling her scarlet robe tight around her as if fearful he would mark it. ‘What are you doing outside the engine room? Go back in, immediately.’

He pulled up a chair from the table and sat down.

I am not a mechanic,’ he said. ‘I am Aleksandr Shtcherbatsky Zhivago.’

Beth

Beth didn’t give him a second glance. She lifted her chin and shouted across the deck, ‘Gerrard, I am not stupid!’ God, she thought, Gerrard must be desperate to pacify me if he has to dig up a man from the engine room and palm him off as Zhivago.

She carried on feeding Pookie, smiling indulgently as she watched the tiny tongue licking the peanut butter off the spoon. She’d expected some big greyhound-type and had been surprised and delighted to receive this little bundle of fluff. Tonight, at dinner, she would clip diamond ear-rings on his perky ears.

The mechanic still hadn’t budged. She shouted again: ‘GERR-ARD!’

I am Aleksandr Shtcherbatsky Zhivago,’ the man blustered.

Look, sunshine, I know you’re not, so take a hike.’

Why do you say this? Why do you believe I am not him?’

Because he’s short, fat and ugly and you’re …’ Needing the relevant description to finish the sentence, she inspected the man from over the top of her sunglasses. He sat with his big hands gripping his knees, heavy black eyebrows converging into a frown. Despite the oil marks, dirt and bruises, he was strikingly handsome, if a little wild-eyed, ‘… not.’

She turned her attention back to Pookie.

Short and fat?’ the man echoed.

She sighed. ‘His photos are all over the boat, so I know what he looks like.’

Ah, that is Yakov Karimov. He is the owner of the Kazka. I am the captain.’

She wasn’t going to let him think she was listening but she was, her eyes narrowed suspiciously behind her sunglasses. Was she being led to believe that instead of being abducted by a suave and sophisticated billionaire, she had in fact been abducted by a man who reeked of diesel?

He took out a wallet. ‘This is my captain’s licence.’

She saw his photo stamped with an official seal and the name: Aleksandr Shtcherbatsky Zhivago.

Zhivago!’ She spun on her bottom and planted her feet firmly on the deck between them. ‘You! You had me kidnapped!’

Startled, he held out his palms against her accusation. ‘Please, Miss La-’ He quickly corrected himself, ‘Miss Skiffington. I knew nothing of it. I have come from Odessa on my own boat, with no means of communication. This was the fault of Igor. He knew how desperately I wanted to talk to you, but there is no excuse for what he did.’

The man hoisted a satchel onto his lap. ‘I have video recording and photographs that will prove my honesty. Five minutes of your time is all I ask. If, after that, you do not wish to involve yourself, I will gladly escort you from the ship.’

The words, ‘But you’ve got the wrong woman!’ had been on the tip of Beth’s tongue but his suggestion struck her dumb.

Escort you from the ship.

But she didn’t want to be escorted from the ship!

She lay back on the chaise-longue, her thoughts flustered and indignant. Pierre was making her favourite pudding tonight: Charlotte Malakoff aux Framboises. And the fur-trimmed, copper-coloured gown – which she knew to be extra-special because she’d discovered it in a refrigerated wardrobe – was now hanging ready in her dressing room.

Of course, she wanted to leave, had to leave, but this was all too … sudden.

A launch is waiting,’ Zhivago added helpfully. ‘You can be back in Glasgow by midnight.’

Glasgow…

She thought of Andy’s twisted, angry face; the smell of urine on the stairs; the cacophony of televisions and wailing babies. The flat with its low-ceiling and box rooms with no space to move, to breathe, to think. She gazed towards the horizon seeing the pink feathery clouds that the sun had left behind; the heart-melting blue of the sky that went on for ever; the silence, the space, so much glorious space, it made her feel she could spread her arms and fly.

Your aspirin, mademoiselle.’ Gerrard bent towards her, holding a tray.

I don’t want it.’

Gerrard straightened. ‘Mr Shtcherbasky Zhivago has explained everything, I trust?’

She nodded sullenly. She knew she was behaving like a petulant prima donna but she couldn’t help herself. Anyway, it was their fault. They’d given her a mega cruise-liner, a battalion of servants, diamond tiaras and designer frocks; and now they were throwing her back to where she’d come from as if she was a rag doll.

I am relieved,’ Gerrard said. ‘Now, I hope, you can forgive me for keeping you here?’

She refused to look at him.

Let me bring you a beer, Captain Shtcherbatsky Zhivago.’ Gerrard moved off. ‘And I will fetch water for Pookie.’

Beth looked at her little dog. She couldn’t take him back to Glasgow. How thoughtless of her to demand an animal. But it wasn’t her fault! It was these people who had made her so angry she’d been unable to think straight. Now, Pookie would have to go back to the breeders. And she would have to go back to Glasgow.

She scowled at Zhivago. I will stay one more night, she decided. I’m owed that much. After that, I don’t care if they think I’m Sonita La Cruz or King Kong.

She paused in thought: Had Sonita promised to help with this children’s hospital? If so, was she, Beth, hindering the project by continuing this farce? But, surely, one more night wouldn’t make any difference. She turned to Zhivago. ‘I just want to get a couple of things straight. Why have you brought me here?’

To discuss building a children’s hospital.’

And you’re not holding me to ransom?’

He looked appalled. ‘No! Please believe me, no.

She did believe him. With her eyes obscured behind her sunglasses she was able to study him openly. He was dark, rather tensely drawn with a swarthy gypsy-look. Although he looked like some un-neutered tom-cat, there was a reassuring sincerity about him.

OK,’ she announced. ‘I will stay one more night.’ Watching how he fell back in his chair, she could almost see the tension flow from his body.

Thank you,’ he whispered.

She carried on feeding Pookie, distancing herself from the man’s obvious relief. ‘So, where’s the owner while all this is happening?’

Yakov Karimov? He is in Marseille.’

And you’re the captain?’

Briefly, yes. I am to sail her back to her home port of St Tropez.’

St Tropez!

Although she continued to look at the man, her inner eye gazed beyond him, imagining herself at the prow of the Kazka with Pookie in her arms as the crème de la crème of the Riviera looked up from their aperatifs, watching them in awe.

When does the Kazka leave?’ she whispered, feeling her throat choked with tears.

Tomorrow.’ The man leant forward, misconstruing her silence. ‘I know this has been difficult for you.’ He removed a manila envelope from his bag. ‘But once you see the evidence, you will understand and forgive.’

Beth wasn’t interested in his envelope. She continued to stare into space, wistfully choosing the gorgeous outfits she and Pookie would have worn if they’d had the chance to sail into the most glamorous port in the world. She snapped from her reverie, aware of a lip-smacking sound. Pookie had peanut butter stuck to his upper palette and was trying to dislodge it with his tongue.

The man nodded. ‘What is it?’

Peanut butter. Crunchy.’

No, the animal. What is it?

A Papillon.’

What is that? A cat, a dog?’ The man tilted his head to one side. ‘A rabbit?’

A dog,’ she answered tartly, watching him suspiciously for signs of mockery.

Gerrard appeared and handed the Zhivago a glass of beer before placing a bowl of water on the deck. ‘Would you like your cocktail served now, Mademoiselle Skiffington?’

Startled, she realised the light had faded from the sky. ‘Absolutely not! I can’t possibly take my cocktail looking such a mess.’ She saw Zhivago’s expression and chose to ignore it. Slipping her feet into scarlet sling-backs, she scooped Pookie up from the bowl of water and stood straight. Courteously, Zhivago rose with her, increasing alarmingly in height.

Are you joining me for dinner?’ she asked; conscious of his dirty hands and loathe to think he might touch her.

That would be an honour, but do not worry, I will first scrub myself clean.’

She nodded her approval. Dressing up for oneself was fun, but not as much fun as when a man was there to appreciate it. And the fact that the man believed himself to be in the presence of a sex goddess added a delicious piquancy. She pushed her sunglasses to the top of her head to give him a clear-eyed look; then she bathed him in a dazzling smile, turned and sashayed away.

She would be Sonita … for one last night.

THE DOUBLE

‘Give any girl a billion-dollar yacht, a mile of pretty frocks and an army of manservants and she’ll turn into Cleo-sodding-patra!’ – The Double quote

Taglines

“She saved the children.  But who will save her?”

“Her dream came true but her nightmare is just beginning.”

“Only someone this bad could be this good.”

*Promo w/Excerpt* Pieces Like Pottery by Dan Buri

Pieces Like PotteryTitle: Pieces Like Pottery

Author: Dan Buri

Genre: Contemporary fiction, short stories, drama

Date released: October 2nd, 2015

Length: 179 pages

Buy Links: Amazon UK Amazon US

Blurb: The first collection of short fiction from Dan Buri, Pieces Like Pottery is an exploration of heartbreak and redemption that announces the arrival of a new American author. In this distinct selection of stories marked by struggle and compassion, Pieces Like Pottery is a powerful examination of the sorrows of life, the strength of character, the steadfast of courage, and the resiliency of love requisite to find redemption.

Filled with graceful insight into the human condition, each linked story presents a tale of loss and love. In Expect Dragons, James Hinri learns that his old high school teacher is dying. Wanting to tell Mr. Smith one last time how much his teaching impacted him, James drives across the country revisiting past encounters with his father’s rejection and the pain of his youth. Disillusioned and losing hope, little did James know that Mr. Smith had one final lesson for him.

In The Gravesite, Lisa and Mike’s marriage hangs in the balance after the disappearance of their only son while backpacking in Thailand. Mike thinks the authorities are right—that Chris fell to his death in a hiking accident—but Lisa has her doubts. Her son was too strong to die this young, and no one can explain to her why new posts continue to appear on her son’s blog.

Twenty-Two looks in on the lives of a dock worker suffering from the guilt of a life not lived and a bartender making the best of each day, even though he can see clearly how his life should have been different. The two find their worlds collide when a past tragedy shockingly connects them.

A collection of nine stories, each exquisitely written and charged with merciful insight into the trials of life, Pieces Like Pottery reminds us of the sorrows we all encounter in life and the kindness we receive, oftentimes from the unlikeliest of places.

AUTHOR BIO

Pieces Like Pottery Dan BuriDan Buri’s first collection of short fiction, Pieces Like Pottery, is an exploration of heartbreak and redemption that announces the arrival of new American author. His writing is uniquely heartfelt and explores the depths of the human struggle and the human search for meaning in life.

Mr. Buri’s non-fiction works have been distributed online and in print, including publications in Pundit Press, Tree, Summit Avenue Review, American Discovery, and TC Huddle. The defunct and very well regarded Buris On The Couch, was a He-Says/She-Says blog musing on the ups and downs of marriage with his wife.

Mr. Buri is an active attorney in the Pacific Northwest and has been recognised by Intellectual Asset Magazine as one of the World’s Top 300 Intellectual Property Strategists every year since 2010. He lives in Oregon with his wife and two-year-old daughter.

EXCERPT

From the short story “Expect Dragons

Between the two notebooks was a sheet of paper. At the top it read: “40 Tips for College and Life.” On the last week of high school, Mr. Smith handed out his college advice, the same college advice I was now holding. I sat and read through each of them.

            40 Tips for College and Life

  1. Life’s too short to not seize the opportunities with which we are presented. Always take the chance to do what you love when it comes along.
  2. Question authority.
  3. Question those who question authority.
  4. Don’t be afraid to see dinosaurs even when everyone else around you doesn’t.
  5. Be kind. Kindness can change things far beyond your wildest dreams. They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it’s kindness that makes the heart grow softer.
  6. Walk barefoot through grass.
  7. Be quick to show compassion and empathy.
  8. Don’t dress like a bum all day long.
  9. Have a routine, but avoid being routine.
  10. Smile.
  11. We are all intelligent, thoughtful individuals. Don’t let others tell you something has to be that way. It doesn’t. The world is far too complex for it to have to be that way.
  12. Be conscious of the present. Time is your most valuable asset.
  13. It’s easy to doubt. Don’t be easy. Hold on to faith and hope.
  14. Love a little more. You can always love more.
  15. Don’t jump at the first chance to go out. There will always be another party. It’s college.
  16. Live with purpose.
  17. Not everything you do has to have a purpose. Folly can be quite satisfying.
  18. Don’t act like you know more than you actually do. There’s no shame in admitting you don’t know the answer.
  19. Remember that the things you do know are of value. Don’t act like you know less than you do. Share your knowledge.
  20. Don’t spend each day only staring at a screen. Put down your phone. Close your laptop. Turn off your TV.
  21. Share laughter. There’s far too much that’s funny out there to take yourself too seriously.
  22. Share tears. There’s far too much pain and hurt out there not to take others’ struggles seriously.
  23. Enjoy music.
  24. Remember to get lost in your mind from time to time.
  25. Breathe slowly.
  26. Don’t be afraid to be alone. Everyone knows: “Not all who wander are lost.” Few realize: Not all who are alone are lonely.
  27. Take in the beauty of nature. Look around you. Don’t take it for granted.
  28. Take in the beauty of mankind. Look around you and see how wonderful your neighbor can be.
  29. Dance in the rain.
  30. There will come a time in college, and in life, when you are presented with decisions that compromise your values. Know how you will respond to those times before they ever happen.
  31. Have resolve.
  32. Share excitement when you’re excited. People that hold that against you are most likely projecting their own feelings of inadequacy.
  33. Remember to read, and something more than a blog. Pick up a book from time to time.
  34. There is only one you.
  35. Laugh hard, kiss softly, disparage slowly, and forgive quickly. 
  36. Eat fully, drink deeply, and always remember to give often.
  37. Decide what you believe, know who you are and live accordingly. Don’t apologize to anyone for that.
  38. But if you realize later on that you were wrong, admit it. Ask forgiveness.
  39. Maya Angelou has a great quote: “If I’d known better, I’d have done better.” We can only do the best we know how, but there’s no excuse for not striving to attain the know-how. And there’s certainly no excuse for not doing better once we have it.
  40. Expect Dragons.

           I stared at the list thinking about how influential Mr. Smith was in my life. At a time late in my high school career when I felt lost and alone, he inspired me to believe life was full of wonder and hope. Now, just two hours before, I found out he was dying. I placed the list back into its box and slid into the front seat of my borrowed car. It was 4:25 in the afternoon and I eased the car onto the I-84 heading east, on my way to say goodbye to my beloved teacher one last time.

*Promo post w/excerpt* Hot Basque by Laurette Long

Hot Basque is the second novel of A French Summer by Laurette Long. The characters do cross over into book 2, however both novels can be read as stand-alones. I am looking forward to reviewing Hot Basque over the coming weeks, and I’m sure it will be a beautiful, scenic contemporary romance! A perfect holiday read!! (Please read below for an excerpt and author bio!) 🙂

COVER HOT BASQUETitle: Hot Basque: A French Summer Novel 2

Author: Laurette Long

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Chick-Lit

Release date: May 11th, 2015

Length: 341 pages

Blurb: Sit back with a glass of chilled rosé and let yourself be carried away to the white sands and pounding surf of the French Basque coast. What could be more relaxing? Find out what’s going on at the Villa Julia, where Caroline and her honey are enjoying the song of the crickets, the glow of the stars and happy romps in the boudoir. Caroline is also doing some matchmaking between best friend Jill and the hot Basque himself, Antoine, he of the smouldering eyes and perfect teeth. And Annabel the sister from hell, is miles away, no need to fret about her. What could be more idyllic? Not a cloud on the horizon…well, maybe it’s looking a bit black to the north, but nothing to worry about, surely??

Read on to see how, in Edinburgh, Jill is preparing her body for that nail-biting June encounter with the hot Basque:

EXCERPT – HOT BASQUE

Jill stepped out of the cubicle, tugging down her swimsuit, and came face to face with the full length mirror at the end of the ladies changing rooms. She barely repressed a gasp of sympathetic horror. Jesus if that’s what these aquagym folks looked like she was certainly going to get a boost to her ego. She turned round as casually as she could for a closer look at the poor freak behind her.

The changing room was empty.

She swung round in the direction of the mirror again, leaned forward, blinked, and leapt back. The freak was herself!

Surely she hadn’t looked like that when she tried on her swimming kit in the bathroom of her flat a couple of weeks ago? Of course, the mirror wasn’t full length, and it was one of those rather flattering ones, the same sort they had in expensive boutiques, the ones that persuaded you that your derrière had shrunk to Kylie Minogue proportions thanks to that cute little black number you’d just tried on, the one with the four-figure price tag.

She advanced cautiously, turned to the right, then to the left. She was positively bulging out of her Speedo swimsuit! She really had to cut down on the G and Ts. And the chocolate biscuits. She turned full face again. An alien with the head of a fly had been grafted on top of her shoulders. No wonder she’d had all that trouble in the changing room, pushing and shoving to get her thick mop inside the small slithery rubber cap that kept shooting off one side of her head as soon as she’d managed to tug it down on the other. A bit like one of those old fashioned diaphragm thingies that women used to wear for contraception. She’d actually come across one at the back of her own mother’s drawer, shock horror, all dried up and yellow with age. Well it would be, she supposed it had been a while since Kathleen O’Toole had been needing it. Five strapping boys and finally the hoped-for girl. Her mother had been forty-five when Jill was born and on the point of giving up. She supposed the diaphragm had been chucked into its box as soon as Kathleen had got out of hospital and told Jerry O’Toole that if he didn’t get the snip Kathleen was going home to her mother in Dublin. Forever.

And now here was Jill, no longer a cute baby but a hefty thirty-something, ready for her first aquagym class, wearing her mother’s old diaphragm on her head and a swimsuit two sizes too small. She tugged the Speedo up, then down, trying to cover her buttocks and her boobs. It became obvious she’d have to accept that one of those two areas was going to be on display. Better the buttocks, she decided, after all they’d be under water for most of the time whereas if her boobs were popping over the top she’d probably put the men off their stride.

Men…were there any men in the class? She suddenly realised there was no one else in the changing rooms, that was funny. Maybe there were no women in the class, just her and a group of hairy males all having the same problem trying to get their bits inside their Speedos. Did they have to wear the funny hats too? Perhaps there’d be some prime specimens, all sleek muscles and washboard abs, like that Florent what’s his name, the one in the Olympics with the cute dimples.

No Jill, enough of that, she told herself sternly. Antoine is waiting for you, in his wetsuit, with his smouldering eyes and sexual techniques known only to the Basque nation.

In spite of her Nordic hill walking and her sessions at the gym, she had decided that more drastic measures were needed if she was going to be the Belle of Biarritz in June. She needed toning, as well as developing her heart and lungs, which both seemed to be in pretty good shape, especially her lungs, she thought, yanking at her swimsuit again. Apparently aquagym was the answer. Lots of stretching and tightening up those flabby thighs and bingo wings, twirling those funny pink and blue foam thingies that looked like giant noodles. It would be fun! She’d rummaged round until she found her old swimsuit from college and popped into Aquasports R Us to look at swimming caps. The snotty young assistant had said no, the cap with devil’s horns would not go down well at an aquagymn class. These young ones, no sense of humour. Miss Snootyface had informed her that what she needed was a slippery scrap of rubber which was the only device tight enough to prevent the least drop of water getting onto her hair and ruining its colour. Did she by any chance want to stop being a red-head and opt for green hair the texture of a horse’s dinner? Of course she didn’t.

Snootyface had omitted to mention that it needed ten minutes and steel talons to snap the thing in place and that not only did it keep the bloody chlorine out, it also, in a reverse or perverse action that probably had something to do with thermodynamics, was so eye-wateringly tight that it forced every brain cell downwards to the chin area making the wearer resemble Benny Hill.

She became aware of a sudden loud, regular tick. The clock over the door said 12h40. Fast, obviously. The class started at 12h30. But in that case, a small voice inside her head told her, why was the ladies changing room empty except for her?

She was late for her first class. Sweat broke out. Perhaps she could just sneak in, slide into the pool without anyone seeing? She pushed open the door into the shower room, hurried along to the end.

Uh oh. She could hear the voice of the instructor going on about ‘drop that head down, feel its weight, now turn slowwwwly to the left, now slowwwwly to the right…’

They’d started. She’d probably get a belt with a rubber hose or something. She hurried out into the pool area, tottering down the wet steps, careful, don’t want to fall smack on your increasingly exposed buttocks now, do you Jillian Benedicta? There seemed to be rather a lot of people down there in the pool. She got to the bottom of the steps, was making her way as unobtrusively as possible to the water’s edge when a voice rang out:

‘Shower!’

What? Was someone talking to her? The class had come to a standstill in the water, all eyes were on Jill in her Speedo and her diaphragm. The instructor had turned, hands on hips. And what hips! Jill couldn’t help marvelling at those toned slender meercat items dropping down to equally toned slender thighs and going up to, well she didn’t have much in the boob department, but Jill supposed that was what you looked like if you were a sports fanatic.

Or maybe it was the lycra. Her eyes, fascinated, got stuck on the instructor’s outfit. Pure, poured-on lycra. You could even see, well, she didn’t want to linger on the bit between the instructor’s legs, frankly it left nothing to the imagination, she wondered how anyone could have the nerve–

‘Shower!!!’

‘Pardon?’

Jill lifted one side of her diaphragm.

‘You obviously haven’t been through the showers. Your swimsuit–’ the instructor gave a little sneer ‘–is bone dry. Didn’t you read the instructions?’

‘Oh. Er. Sorry. Sorry. ’

Jill fled back up the steps, turned on the cold water and gave herself a vigorous soak adding a few loud gasps for authenticity.

This time when she ventured to the edge of the pool she was able to step delicately down the steps and join her fellow aquagym-ers.

They were obviously regulars. The warm-up had finished, they were all leaping up into the air like Icelandic geysers, arms rigid at the sides, pushing down the water with their flattened palms. Jill joined in, jumping as energetically as she could ‘and push that water and push that water…’ She felt a kick in the back of her leg, turned around. A senior citizen in a cap covered in fake roses was glaring at her. Where was her diaphragm? In fact there were quite a few non-diaphragm pieces of headgear, now she looked. She’d have been better in the devil’s horns. Rosebonnet was saying something, over the sound of splashing.

‘Forward! Move forward!’ she hissed, in between jumps.

‘Oh sorry,’

Jill realised her energetic leaps had been taking her towards the back of the pool. She waded forward, gave another leap, then realised the exercise had changed, now they were all swinging their upper body from left to right, arms extended. Was that a snigger she heard from Rosebonnet? A knobbly finger gave her a karate chop below the ribs but the woman next to her had already swung round the other way. They were feral, this lot. Jill hopped a bit further to the left, started swinging, feeling her waist muscles give a nice satisfying tug.

Ten minutes later she was definitely getting the hang of it. It was a bit tougher than she’d thought, she’d asked the girl at reception what sort of level she ought to start with, intermediate or advanced? But the receptionist had smiled sweetly and suggested that maybe she could try ‘Beginners’, she could always move up to Intermediate and Advanced once she saw how she got on.

Beginners! Jill had capitulated, with bad grace. Now, in the brief moments when they were relaxing and deep-breathing she had time to do a quick recce of her fellow aquagymers. They were all, with one exception, senior citizens. And all, with one exception, female. There was one ancient wheezing grandad at the back, with sagging breasts and a gold necklace. The only other person who looked to be remotely Jill’s age was at the front of the class, under the watchful eye of Lycra-woman, and was heavily pregnant.

‘OK, floats!’

‘Ouch!’

A pink noodle hit her on the head, then a blue one, good job they were made of foam but still she’d sensed a certain hostility in the way they had been hurled in her direction by a wizened old prune of ninety.

‘Everyone on their backs, legs together, flex those feet, now to the count of eight, scissor those legs, keep your back straight, tummy up, feel those tummy muscles working.’

Oh they were working alright. By the time she’d done two sets of eight Jill was puffing and panting like a steam engine. Around her the grannies carried on, scissoring fit to cut a rug, flashing their false teeth at Lycra-woman.

‘That’s wonderful Gladys! Keep going! Excellent Phyllis, those legs are really straight.’

But if she’d thought the scissors thing was bad, by the time they got to the abdo curls Jill was sure she was going to die. Not only that, either she kept drifting into other people’s ‘space’ or they kept drifting into hers, causing a lot of collisions and submersions and hissed insults.

As the lesson finally drew to a close Jill watched them emerge slowly from the buoyant water, totter up the steps like newborns, arms and legs like sticks, and putter off to the showers like arthritic tortoises. She could scarcely believe this bunch of pathetic creatures were the same lot of beasts she’d spent the last forty minutes with, exchanging sly kicks and punches under the water. She was going to be black and blue tomorrow. And her stomach muscles were on fire.

‘Ouch!’

She was hauling herself out of the water and up the steps when she felt a pinch on her bottom. A decided, deliberate, old-fashioned, good-handful-of-flesh pinch. She turned round, outraged, ready to sock this fighting gran right out of her rose-covered bonnet.

Grandad was grinning up at her, gap-toothed, gold chain glinting in his grey chest hairs.

‘Welcome to wor class, lassie. Fair got a wee stiffie on me just watching yer do them jumps!’

He gave a leer and a wink as she shot up the final steps and made for the showers. What could she do, report him for sexual harassment? He must be at least a hundred and four. He’d never make it to the police station.

AUTHOR BIO:

Laurette LongLaurette was born in the UK, near Brontëland. Graduating from the University of Leicester with a degree in English, she taught in the USA, UK and France, where she now lives.

Her forays into fiction writing when she was seven reveal her literary influences and distinctive style. “The Phantom Ghost Girl of Raven Castle” begins: ‘Vicky Dare, the girl detective and her big Alsatian, Rex…’ then stops. The Ruined Cottage” is longer and also demonstrates she is equally at home with either first or third-person narrator: ‘…it was a favourite haunt of mine and I never grew tired of it.’ In the chilling tale “The adventures of Carlotta”, the heroine ‘…dashed to the door her face white with horror’ while, surprisingly, in “The Secret at the Ball” ‘…a secret compartment was revealed! There glittering lay the Lane jewels!’

(Yes, she is a hoarder, incapable of parting with childhood books and notebooks.)

Aged 10 she developed a passion for the theatre, and throughout her career wrote plays for students. “A Midsummer’s Nightmare”, where Shakespeare’s lovers get into time warps in the wood, meeting Dracula and Little Red Riding Hood, was a tricky favourite. Everyone wanted to play Dracula. She had to wield authority. (Those with pointed canines had an advantage). Later, unable to find a textbook suitable for adult ESL students, she wrote one. Beguiled by an admirable work of French literary criticism about American writers in Paris, she translated it. (“Paris in American Literature” by Jean Méral)

(As well as being a hoarder she has also been accused of being bossy and a dilettante.)

Recently the ghosts of Vicky Dare and Carlotta nudged her into a return to fiction. “Biarritz Passion”, a contemporary romance, was inspired by the Basque country and its magic. (Go see!) An Amazon fan, she attempted self-publishing. After wrestling with formatting rules and sweating during the on-line tax interview, she finally hit the ‘submit’ button in March 2014, thus proving that even non-techies can do it. (Hoarder, bossy, dilettante and getting better with computers).

In spite of distractions–good friends, good food, Monsieur Wonderful, and a project to transform a hill of brambles into a Mediterranean garden–Book Two in the French Summer Novel Series, “Hot Basque”, was finally finished in May this year. Ouf.

AVAILABLE FROM AMAZON

HOT BASQUE

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hot-Basque-French-Summer-Novel-ebook/dp/B00XK2II3G/

http://www.amazon.com/Hot-Basque-French-Summer-Novel-ebook/dp/B00XK2II3G

BIARRITZ PASSION (A French Summer, Novel 1)

http://www.amazon.com/Biarritz-Passion-French-Summer-Novel-ebook/dp/B00J2ERSSM

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Biarritz-Passion-French-Summer-Novel-ebook/dp/B00J2ERSSM

Keep up with Laurette’s thoughts about books and writing on her blog ‘Get Passionate’:

http://laurettelong.com

where all comments are welcome.