#BlogTour #KenyonAuthorServicesBlogTours @kenyon_isabelle / #Excerpt : Foolish Heroines #FoolishHeroines – June Wentland @june_mw @valleypress

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Foolish Heroines Blog Tour

Today I’m on the ‘Foolish Heroines’ blogtour, organized by Kenyon Author Services Blog Tours.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

TwitterJune Wentland is an ordinary woman who believes that extraordinary things can happen if you keep your eyes peeled and your heart open to new possibilities. She grew up in Hull, moving to Manchester and Bristol before settling in Wiltshire. June has worked in community development and outreach for libraries as well as being a rather lacklustre waitress and on an assembly line sticking tassels onto lampshades.
She has had stories televised and published by the BBC and her poetry has appeared in many literary journals and anthologies. Her first novel, Foolish Heroines, was published by Valley Press in September 2021.

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Synopsis :

9781912436637Janina Reston is a language expert, translating fiendishly tricky Arabic and Asian mathematical and scientific texts. Words are her world. But she can’t find any to share with her husband Owen. Instead, she confides in a spider named Gladys (who may or may not be her deceased grandmother).
She lives in an ordinary city suburb where extraordinary things happen. Lily’s husband dies in a strange accident with a milk bottle, while Fatima writes biographies of unknown people living seemingly inconsequential lives, and Zosia – whose most daring adventure thus far has been replacing jelly and ice cream with lemon meringue pie – runs off to Delhi with an Asian Women’s Sewing Group.
Written with zest, zeal and humour, June Wentland’s debut novel is a surreal journey through the avenues and alleyways of everyday life. But forget dull domesticity. This is a suburb where dense jungle leaves creep through the patio door when you’re putting the kettle on, where porcelain shepherdesses have evil intent, and where a seven-legged arachnid can be a wise companion for a woman at the end of her tether.

Valley Press

Excerpt :

June Wentland talks about writing the opening of her novel:
The first chapter of Foolish Heroines wasn’t the original start of the novel. I was planning to write a novel that was connected in some way to the Brontë sisters. I even spent a weekend in Haworth for inspiration! I wrote a few paragraphs but they were pushed out of the way by what is now the beginning of Foolish Heroines. This novel needed to be written instead. This first chapter came to me very easily. I think it had been brewing in my subconscious for some time and it really sets the scene for the world of Foolish Heroines. It’s firmly in our everyday world but unusual and remarkable things can happen – disappearances, sudden realisations and exuberant transformations.

1

When Janina Reston touched Owen Reston’s arm and her hand passed straight through it, it only confirmed what she’d suspected for some time – her partner was simply a figment of her imagination. He wasn’t really there at all. She wondered if he’d ever been real and, if so, whether he’d disappeared all in one go or whether it had happened gradually, bit by bit.
She had an acquaintance whose husband had vanished in the supermarket. One minute he was walking down the aisle between the cream crackers and the packs of lager, and the next he was gone. He’d undressed, leaving his clothes and shoes in a neat pile. Then he’d dived into the salty depths of a deep freezer amongst the battered cod and the new crabmeat fish cakes, never to be seen again, tossed about for infinity on the tides of consumer capitalism. Missing, presumed dead.
Owen had been looking increasingly transparent since the jumper incident. The question was, who’d put the jumper on to boil wash? Who’d committed the sin? Wash with care in cool water, the label said, delicate. A sure candidate for programme J: suitable for hand wash items with a crease guard and a gentle spin.
The jumper had hung from her hand like an unexpected blossom, an out of season bloom, defying horticulturalist theory. It emitted an aura of novelty, a self-conscious exclamation mark at its own existence. Perfectly circular drops of water clung to the surface, resisting its pull but inevitably absorbed by it.
“What the fuck’s that?” Owen asked as he and Janina stood in the kitchen. “Is it my jumper?”
Janina leaned against the sink and weighed up the possibilities, the jumper still hanging from her hand like a question for which a solution must be found.
When objects, or people for that matter, went through such drastic change could they really still claim to be what they’d originally been? How many married individuals were still the same people they’d been on their wedding day? Did that annul the marriage? Janina and Owen stared at the offending piece of laundry, still steaming from the hot wash. Neither could quite draw their eyes away from it.
“Do you want it to be?” she asked. It was a philosophical question but he took it as an insensitive reply.
“What do you think?” he said.
“I think you put it in with the fast colours.” she said. “Or it could have got put on with the boil wash.”
The impasse couldn’t go on forever in such a small kitchen, so Janina walked out into the garden. A few birds sang in the newly blossoming trees, pinprick specks of delicate colour, gently piercing the cool air; the trees’ roots like wooden toes entwined affectionately or engaged in a hidden power struggle beneath the grass. Concealed beneath Janina and Owen’s conversation had been the unsaid implication that, somewhere along the line, she was to blame for the jumper. As if, at some point, she’d been duped into signing a contract with unreadably small print that made her responsible for any shrinkages or mishaps that took place within the womb-like confines of the washing machine. Any mistake would be viewed as collusion between woman and technological hardware.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #HarlequinTradePublishingBlogTour @htp_books / #Excerpt : The Overnight Guest #TheOvernightGuest – Heather Gudenkauf @hgudenkauf @parkrowbooks @HarlequinBooks

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

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Today I’m on the ‘The Overnight Guest’ blogtour, organized by Harlequin Trade Publishing Blog Tour.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Heather Gudenkauf is the critically acclaimed author of several novels, including the New York Times bestseller The Weight of Silence. She lives in Iowa with her husband and children.

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Synopsis :

Title: The Overnight Guest
Author: Heather Gudenkauf
ISBN: 9780778311935
Publication Date: January 25, 2022
Publisher: Park Row Books

In a snowstorm, the safest place is home. Or is it?
True crime writer Wylie Lark doesn’t mind being snowed in at the isolated farmhouse where she’s retreated to write her new book. A cozy fire, complete silence. It would be perfect, if not for the fact that decades earlier, at this very house, two people were murdered in cold blood and a girl disappeared without a trace.
As the storm worsens, Wylie finds herself trapped inside the house, haunted by the secrets contained within its walls—haunted by secrets of her own. Then she discovers a small child in the snow just outside. How long had the child been there? Where did he come from? Bringing the child inside for warmth and safety, she begins to search for answers. But soon it becomes clear that the farmhouse isn’t as isolated as she thought, and someone is willing to do anything to find them.

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Excerpt :

Three

“Maybe we can go outside and play?” the girl said as she peeked around the edge of the heavy curtain that covered the window. The sky was gray and soft drops of rain tapped at the glass.
“Not today,” her mother said. “It’s raining and we’d melt.”
The girl gave a little laugh and then hopped off the chair she had dragged beneath the window. She knew her mother was teasing. They wouldn’t actually melt if they went out in the rain, but still, it made her shiver thinking about it—stepping outside and feeling the plop of water on your skin and watching it melt away like an ice cube.
Instead, the girl and her mother spent the morning at the card table cutting pink, purple, and green egg shapes from construction paper and embellishing them with polka dots and stripes.
On one oval, her mother drew eyes and a pointy little orange beak. Her mother laid the girl’s hands on a piece of yellow paper and traced around them using a pencil. “Watch,” she said as she cut out the handprints and then glued them to the back of one of the ovals.
“It’s a bird,” the girl said with delight.
“An Easter chick,” her mother said. “I made these when I was your age.”
Together, they carefully taped the eggs and chicks and bunny rab-bits they created to the cement walls, giving the dim room a festive, springy look. “There, now we’re ready for the Easter Bunny,” her mother said with triumph.
That night, when the girl climbed into bed, the butterflies in her stomach kept chasing sleep away. “Stay still,” her mother kept re-minding her. “You’ll fall asleep faster.”
The girl didn’t think that was true, but then she opened her eyes, a sliver of bright sunshine was peeking around the shade, and the girl knew that morning had finally arrived.
She leaped from bed to find her mother already at the tiny round table where they ate their meals. “Did he come?” the girl asked, tucking her long brown hair behind her ears.
“Of course he did,” her mother said, holding out a basket woven together from strips of colored paper. It was small, fitting into the palm of the girl’s hand, but sweet. Inside were little bits of green paper that were cut to look like grass. On top of this was a pack of cinnamon gum and two watermelon Jolly Ranchers.
The girl smiled though disappointment surged through her. She’d been hoping for a chocolate bunny or one of those candy eggs that oozed yellow when you broke it open.
“Thank you,” she said.
“Thank the Easter Bunny,” her mother said.
“Thank you, Easter Bunny,” the girl crowed like the child on the candy commercials that she’d seen on television. They both laughed.
They each unwrapped a piece of gum and spent the morning making up stories about the paper chicks and bunnies they made.
When the girl’s gum lost its flavor, and she had slowly licked one of the Jolly Ranchers into a sharp flat disc, the door at the top of the steps opened, and her father came down the stairs toward them. He was carrying a plastic bag and a six-pack of beer. Her mother gave the girl a look. The one that said, go on now, mom and dad need some alone time. Obediently, the girl, taking her Easter basket, went to her spot beneath the window and sat in the narrow beam of warm light that fell across the floor. Facing the wall, she unwrapped another piece of gum and poked it into her mouth and tried to ignore the squeak of the bed and her father’s sighs and grunts.
“You can turn around now,” her mother finally said. The girl sprang up from her spot on the floor.
The girl heard the water running in the bathroom, and her father poked his head out of the door. “Happy Easter,” he said with a grin. “The Easter Bunny wanted me to give you a little something.”
The girl looked at the kitchen table where the plastic bag sat. Then she slid her eyes to her mother, who was sitting on the edge of the bed, rubbing her wrist, eyes red and wet. Her mother nodded.
“Thank you,” she murmured.
Later, after her father climbed the steps and locked the door behind him, the girl went to the table and looked inside the plastic bag. In-side was a chocolate bunny with staring blue eyes. He was holding a carrot and wore a yellow bowtie.
“Go ahead,” her mother told the girl as she held an ice pack to her wrist. “When I was little, I always started with the ears.”
“I don’t think I’m very hungry,” the girl said, returning the box to the table.
“It’s okay,” her mother said gently. “You can eat it. It’s from the Easter Bunny, not your dad.”
The girl considered this. She took a little nibble from the bunny’s ear and sweet chocolate flooded her mouth. She took another bite and then another. She held out the rabbit to her mother and she bit off the remaining ear in one big bite. They laughed and took turns eating until all that was left was the bunny’s chocolate tail.
“Close your eyes and open your mouth,” her mother said. The girl complied and felt her mother place the remaining bit on her tongue and then kiss her on the nose. “Happy Easter,” her mother whispered.

Excerpted from The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf, Copyright © 2022 by Heather Gudenkauf. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #ZooloosBookTours @ZooloosBT / #Excerpt : Ashes of Innocence (The Wilson Files, Book 1) #AshesOfInnocence #TheWilsonFiles – Phil Price @PhilPrice19 @SpellBoundBks

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Today I’m on the ‘Ashes of Innocence’ blogtour, organized by Zooloo’s Book Tours.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Phil Price was born in Sutton Coldfield in 1974. He lived in various places in the UK until his family settled in Rednal, a suburb on the outskirts of Birmingham in 1979. Growing up with an older brother and sister, he always flirted with reading, his home always littered with books. Then in 1997, Phil embarked on a travel expedition that took him from Greece to Thailand, via East and Southern Africa. Sitting in dusty bus stations in Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi with Wilbur Smith and James Herbert accompanying him, his imagination was sparked into life. Since those far-off days, he has never been without a book to read.
Phil started toying with the idea of writing a book in 2009. After writing a few short stories, he caught a whiff of an idea in his head. It started to evolve in 2010 until he had enough to begin his writing journey. Marriage and two children came along, with the story being moved to the back burner for periods of time. However, during those periods of writing inactivity, the story continued to manifest until it just needed one thing. To be written down.
The story was littered with places that had influenced Phil’s life. From the Lickey Hills in Birmingham to the Amatola Mountains in South Africa, with other many other locations, in-between and far beyond.
The book was finished sometime in 2014, left on his computer until a chance conversation with an author friend made Phil take the bold step to publish his story, Unknown.
From there, Phil’s love for the first book spurred him on, creating The Forsaken Series. A vampire/paranormal/horror trilogy, set in our world, and others too. His love of horror and all things supernatural, inspired by authors such as King, Herbert and others, helped create the epic series.
After writing a science fiction novel, titled Zoo, Phil released his first psychological thriller, Ashes of Innocence, a story that he’d kept bubbling away for many years.
Aside from his writing, Phil lives on the edge of a small town in Worcestershire, UK. A wife and two sons keep Phil happily occupied as he steers his way through life, playing the husband, dad and world creator in equal measure

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Synopsis :

He was fighting for his country in a far-off land, hoping to make his home a safer place for his family.
Twelve years ago John Wilson returned from conflict prepared to put the past behind him and settle down.
He never thought he would survive the horrors of war only to find a bigger threat stalking the streets at home.
A vicious incident involving two young boys blows John’s world apart robbing him of what he loves most.
Now, just as John finally seems to be getting his life back on track, shadowy figures from his past emerge and threaten to take the one thing left worth fighting for.
Just how much can one man take ?

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Excerpt :

A few minutes before, the three figures came to the same stretch of road. “I want Mummy,” Lottie stated matter-of-factly.
“Don’t worry,” Sean soothed, his vision swimming as he pulled her towards a steel flyover that spanned a dual-carriageway next to a disused rail yard. “We’re taking you to her now.”
“But she’s in the shop,” the little girl replied insistently. “I want Mummy.”
“Sean,” Luke said. “What are we doing?”
“Shut it,” the older brother hissed. “You said she was the evil doll. She looks just like her.” She’ll probably slit our throats if we let her.”
“I’m not a doll,” Lottie countered. “I have lots of dollies at home.”
“It’s okay,” Sean replied, taking another swig of vodka to dull the rising panic he now felt. “We have some dollies over there,” the teenager pointing towards the rail yard. The brothers were unsteady on their feet, as they had consumed the second joint a few minutes before the girl had come walking out of the coffee shop with a throng of customers. Both brothers had seen the likeness to the doll from the horror movie, their addled minds twisting reality before they led her away.
“Sean. We’re gonna get in trouble for this. If people find out we’ve taken her, the police will be after us and you’ve already been in trouble with them.”
“Shut it. I know what I’m doing. No one knows we’ve got her.” They came down the other side of the flyover as traffic still trundled past on the nearby motorway. A footpath led off in either direction, hugging the dual-carriageway that was devoid of traffic. “We need to get off the road. Someone will spot us any minute.”
“I want my Mummy!” Lottie shrieked, trying to pull away from Sean’s grip.
“Shut the fuck up!” he shouted, his piercing grey eyes glaring at her. Lottie flinched before the tears began. She wailed in his grip as a car appeared a few hundred yards away, its headlights fighting against the dreary afternoon. “In there,” Sean barked, pointing towards a gap in the steel fencing that led to the disused rail yard. The brothers ducked through the hole, dragging the protesting four-year-old with them.
“Make her quiet, Sean,” Luke hissed. “She’s driving me mad.” He placed his hand over her mouth to quieten her. Lottie responding by biting the boy’s little finger until she broke the skin. “FUCK!” he screamed, yanking his hand away. “Little bastard,” he hollered, inspecting the damaged finger. He kicked out at the little girl, catching her on the thigh, making Lottie cry out in pain.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #ZooloosBookTours @ZooloosBT / #Excerpt : 3 Days in Vienna #ThreeDaysInVienna – John Steinberg @SteinbergStory

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Today I’m on the ‘3 Days in Vienna’ blogtour, organized by Zooloo’s Book Tours.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Born and raised in North London in 1952, John still lives in the city with his wife and three children. Privately educated, John left school after ‘A’ levels and completed a business diploma in what is now the University of Westminster, before entering banking.
He started training as an accountant but did not complete the course, choosing a position in his family’s furniture manufacturing business instead. John started his own mergers and acquisitions business in 1987, which he ran for almost 20 years before quitting to become a full time writer in 2007.
John has co-written and produced comedies for the stage and has created a series of books for children. “Previously, I had only been interested in comedy and finally started to write down the things I said or thought of. That led me to co-write and produce a play, In the Balance, and then W for Banker – which appeared at the New End Theatre, Hampstead. It was then I decided to quit the world of business in favour of writing full-time, and move toward more serious subjects. My first novel has taken two years to write and is the first in a series of books I am calling the ‘Steinberg Stories’.”

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Synopsis :

Elizabeth McCreary’s mother Lillian Frankl was a child of the Kindertransport – but she refuses to speak of the past. Determined to learn more, Elizabeth flies to Vienna on the start of a life-changing journey.
At home in London, her lawyer husband Anthony is facing disgrace. Vast sums have been siphoned off from his firm’s client account to support the far right British Independent Party of which his father, William, is Treasurer. William’s close links with the Crediton Trust in Devon, a pharmaceutical company of prestige and power, are helping to make his political ambitions a reality. However, behind the big-business façade of Crediton lies a dark past rooted in Nazi Germany, of theft and the sinister use to which its drugs were put during World War Two.
For the McCrearys, one astounding revelation follows another. Nothing can ever be the same – and all roads lead inexorably back to Vienna.

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Excerpt :

The true extent of the dangerous views held by Elizabeth’s Father in Law are explored

Over in the pretty rural setting of Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds, a meeting of
the British Independence Party was about to commence.
A robust man in his early sixties got to his feet, called for silence and began to address the select group, which consisted in the main of thirty or so like-minded politicians and captains of industry.
‘Good morning, gentlemen. I’m sure some of you need to get to London for the afternoon’s vote in the Commons so I’ll keep it brief. Though if it were up to me I’d lock them all up and throw away the key! Cutting the age of consent for homosexuals – whatever next?’ he bellowed.
The comment brought subdued mutterings of approval.
‘As your treasurer,’ William McCreary continued, ‘I can confirm that, as of last night, contributions pledged have passed the three million pound mark. That is correct, isn’t it, Rupert?’ He addressed the obese financier with a black eye-patch who sat to his right. The relationship with Meredith’s Bank went back over forty years.
Of course, he was aware of the controversy surrounding the bank’s dealings with so-called German war criminals, fugitives living in South America, but that had proved no more than a temporary blot on their reputation and they were soon able to resume their rightful position amongst the City’s elite institutions. More importantly, Meredith’s remained resolutely supportive of the BIP’s cause and shared its nationalistic aspirations.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub @maryanneyarde / #Excerpt : The Heart of a Hussar (The Winged Warrior Series, Book 1) #TheHeartOfAHussar #PolishWingedHussars – Griffin Brady @griffbrady1588 #HistoricalFiction

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

The Heart of a Hussar Tour Banner

Today I’m on the ‘The Heart of a Hussar’ blogtour, organized by The Coffee Pot Book Club.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

GB Head shot (1)Griffin Brady is a historical fiction author with a keen interest in the Polish Winged Hussars of the 16th and 17th centuries. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. The Heart of a Hussar took third place in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ 2018 Colorado Gold Contest and was a finalist in the Northern Colorado Writers’ 2017 Top of the Mountain Award.
The proud mother three grown sons, she lives in Colorado with her husband. She is also an award-winning, Amazon bestselling romance author who writes under the pen name G.K. Brady.

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Synopsis :

Book Title: The Heart of a Hussar
Series: (The Winged Warrior Series, Book 1)
Author: Griffin Brady
Publication Date: 12th September 2020
Publisher: Trefoil Publishing
Page Length: 434 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Heart of a Hussar eBook Cover LargeHe’s determined to protect his country. But can he defend himself against the ultimate betrayal?
Muscovy, 1610. Jacek Dąbrowski yearns to be recognized for his valor. Hoping his recent promotion to lieutenant will help secure the lands he desires, the twenty-two-year-old Polish cavalry officer earns instead the enmity of his captain. And his out-of-character rescue of two innocents from slaughter sets in motion a chain of grave consequences.
Discovering the young woman and her brother are not Russian enemies and have no kin, Dąbrowski escorts them back to the castle in his homeland. But as the rivalry with his superior grows and the blossoming beauty sparks a fire in his heart, the brave horseman may find his dreams of glory lying in tatters.
Can the courageous warrior survive hidden schemes that could destroy all he holds dear?
The Heart of a Hussar is the stirring first book in The Winged Warrior Series historical fiction duology. If you like driven heroes, gut-wrenching twists, and vivid scenes of combat, then you’ll love Griffin Brady’s well-researched tale.
⬧ Bronze Medal Winner of the 2021 Independent Publishers Book Awards for Best Adult Fiction E-Book!
⬧ Finalist for the 2021 National Indie Excellence Awards in Historical Fiction!
This book includes adult content and is intended for mature audiences.

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Excerpt :

Chapter 14

Jacek stood just outside Eryk’s solar and announced himself. Low voices interspersed with pacing bootsteps drifted through the partly open door.
“Come,” Eryk ordered. Jacek stepped beside Mateusz and stood at attention.
Eryk swatted a sheaf of papers against the edge of his desk. “Jacek, Mateusz has been advising me of rumors my cousin Antonin is building up his forces.”
Jacek tracked Eryk as he resumed pacing.
“I still do not believe he could have had anything to do with the ambush, but in spite of our inquiries, we’ve learned absolutely nothing. I thought perhaps to pay him a visit at his fortress and satisfy myself.”
“Of course, my lord. When do we leave?” Mateusz asked.
“Two weeks, but you are not going, Mateusz. As captain of the guard, you will remain here. Jacek will be my second on this foray.”
In Jacek’s peripheral vision, Mateusz eyed him with a frown. Jacek kept his eyes straight ahead, trained on the lord.
Eryk’s shoulders drooped. “I would have left sooner but for my wife’s health. She is recovering from a bout of illness, and I expect her to be fully restored when we leave for my cousin’s stronghold. I need to make it seem like a friendly visit, a family visit.” Eryk chuckled mirthlessly. “I shall call on a man I neither like nor trust.”
When the meeting ended, Jacek left the solar briskly, putting distance between himself and Mateusz. His effort did not get him far.
“Dąbrowski!” Mateusz barked.
Jacek bit back his irritation and turned to face his superior.
“Captain?”
They stood outside the great hall, poised at the top of the forestairs in a chill wind.
Mateusz’s face was mere inches from Jacek’s. “I know what you’re doing, Dąbrowski.”
Jacek looked down at him. “Sir?”
“You’ve set that brat of yours to spy on me while you ingratiate yourself with Lord Eryk. You’re trying to steal my position.” Mateusz pulled his gloves on.
Heat rose in Jacek’s cheeks. “Begging your pardon, Captain, but I have given Filip no orders to ‘spy’ on you. If the boy is being a nuisance, I will deal with him.”
Mateusz’s mouth twisted in a snarl. “See that you do, Dąbrowski. See that you keep him away from me. And another thing. Stay away from my wife!” Mateusz was so close he sprayed Jacek’s chin and mouth.
Calmy, Jacek removed a linen square and scrubbed it over his face. The captain’s bloodshot eyes smoldered, and a vision of a deformed, split nose bleeding between them flashed through Jacek’s mind.
In a low voice, Jacek replied, “I think, Captain, it would serve you better if you told your wife to leave me alone.”
Jacek turned on his heel, but before he took a step, a hand clamped on his shoulder. He let the captain spin him around, calculating all the while. One well-placed jab. One well-placed jab and a knee to the groin. Grab the back of his head and ram his face into the knee, hear the gratifying crunch. Watch the blood pour.
Jacek clenched his fists. Mateusz stared at him for several heartbeats. Two of Mateusz’s underlings called to him from the bottom of the forestairs, and Mateusz started to laugh. He smacked Jacek’s cheek and pointed a blocky finger at him.
“Don’t flatter yourself, Dąbrowski.” He gave Jacek a rough shove, turned, and leapt down the stairs, still laughing.
Just then, Filip careened into the courtyard, his head down as he trod the rutted path to the forestairs. Mateusz took four steps out of his way and barreled over Filip, sending him sprawling on his backside in the dirt. Mateusz roared with laughter, spurring his two men-at-arms to join in.
“Why don’t you watch where you’re going, you little rat? Now stand up and apologize.”
A hand gripped Jacek’s arm as he readied to descend the stairs, and Henryk’s even voice sounded in his ear. “Don’t give him the satisfaction.”
Feliks paced into the courtyard and pulled Filip up by the scruff, talking to him in a low voice Jacek couldn’t make out. Filip looked up at Mateusz with blazing eyes and mumbled something. Mateusz wheeled toward Jacek and erupted in another round of laughter before turning his attention back to Filip.
“Apology accepted,” he hollered. Mateusz started to walk away but stopped and pivoted. “And tell that sister of yours I’ll pay her a visit soon.”
Jacek jerked his arm from Henryk’s grasp. Feliks caught his eye and shook his head, then grasped Filip’s shoulders and spun him toward the stables.
“Jacek. Time for the midday meal. Come, before the food is gone,” Henryk said. Jacek blew out a breath and trailed his friend, his hands still fisted.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #HarlequinTradePublishingBlogTour @htp_books / #Excerpt : The Ex-Husband #TheExHusband – Karen Hamilton @KJHAuthor @HarlequinBooks

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

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Today I’m on the ‘The Ex-Husband’ blogtour, organized by Harlequin Trade Publishing Blog Tour.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Karen Hamilton author photoKaren Hamilton spent her childhood in Angola, Zimbabwe, Belgium and Italy and worked as a flight attendant for many years. She has now put down roots in the UK to raise her three children with her husband and she also writes full time. Her books include The Perfect Girlfriend, The Last Wife, and The Ex-Husband, out January 2022.

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Synopsis :

Title: The Ex-Husband
Author:
Karen Hamilton
ISBN:
9781525811609
Publication Date:
January 18, 2022
Publisher:
Graydon House

y404It’s an offer she can’t refuse…and can’t escape.
True: Charlotte has an unsavory past. She married the wrong man, got caught up in his con artist games, took what wasn’t hers. She got out, though: divorced Sam, started fresh.
False: She left him before things went too far. Nothing bad happened.
True: Sam is missing, and before he disappeared, he left cryptic messages about someone threatening him—someone who has been threatening Charlotte, too.
True: She’s on the straight and narrow, has accepted a job as a personal assistant for an engagement party on board a private luxury cruise ship, the Cleobella.
False: No one on board knows about her past, and she’s far away from anyone who means her harm.
As the Cleobella sails through its glittering destinations—the Bahamas, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago—increasingly sinister events haunt the guests, and the turquoise waves and sun-drenched beaches give way to something darker. Someone knows what Charlotte did. Is it the blushing bride? The seemingly placid mother-in-law? Or the mysterious heiress?
Someone knows, and someone wants revenge—before the ship reaches its final port.

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Excerpt :

THEN
Eighteen Months Ago
Barbados
A TIP-OFF. THAT COULD BE THE ONLY EXPLANATION.
Dreaded realization filtered through the rows of passen¬gers and crew in the cruise terminal via mutters about delays intermingled with curiosity and general resignation at the inevitable holdup. Sickening dread roiled deep in my gut. Surreptitiously, I glanced back at the queue snaking behind me. Still no sign of Sam. Where was he?
The person in front of me took a step forward, pushing his backpack with a foot. Reluctantly, I followed.
Sam had only darted back to the ship to pick up his watch, carelessly left beside the basin in his cabin. It should have taken him fifteen minutes—twenty max. He had insisted that I save our place in the line to save time. Our flight to freedom was less than four hours away.
I messaged him.
Where the hell are you? Hurry up! I am nearly at the front of the line.
Well, not quite, but it was true enough.
No reply.
Indecision kept me rooted to the spot. Sam would be an¬noyed if I lost our place. It would break one of our rules about blending in. Then again, neither of us was thinking straight. Our nerves were frayed. We were both tense after a wakeful night dissecting what had gone wrong, each of us blaming the other. But he left me with no choice. We always disem¬barked together. We had each other’s backs. Rule number one.
I tried to calm my fears. The upheaval wasn’t necessarily anything to do with us. I was too quick to jump to worst-case scenarios, usually after my conscience had given me a good poke. Sam and I excelled at slipping beneath the radar, despite his popularity.
In the corner of the vast, high-ceilinged building, portable air-conditioning units blasted out woefully inadequate cool air. My heart pounded so hard it almost hurt. Sweat slid down my spine. I stepped out of line and walked back in the direc¬tion of the ship. James, head of the ship’s security team, was standing by the exit. Relief. He would know where Sam was.
Strangely, James didn’t acknowledge or return my greet¬ing. His manner was uncharacteristically off. No, he said. I couldn’t go back on board.
“But Sam should have been back by now,” I said. “He only went for something he’d forgotten.”
James shrugged.
“Just wait for him in line. He’ll show up. There’s nowhere else for him to go. This is the only exit.”
“What’s going on?” I said, trying to cajole James into thaw¬ing his attitude.
I opted for a friendly, neutral tone. And why not? We were colleagues, after all. Friends, companions. Equals, really.
“There are searches, from time to time.”
“Not that I’ve ever seen,” I said. “I hope it doesn’t hold us up. What is it? Drugs? Weapons?”
I smiled, safe in the knowledge that I was carrying neither.
“Get back in the line,” said James. “Wait for Sam there.”
I had no choice. As I turned, I saw Sam up ahead. He must have joined a different line. His bag was already being searched. How the hell had we missed each other? Why hadn’t he called me? Why did he go through without me?
There was nothing I could do but rejoin the queue and watch. I couldn’t read the expression of the person searching his bag, but the body language appeared at ease. Jolly, even. Everything felt off, badly wrong. Fragments of our heated conversation last night started piecing together. Just wait until I get hold of Sam, I thought. I would kill him for breaking our rules and putting me through all this extra stress.
I watched as Sam exited into the outside world. I could imagine the sun brushing his face as he inhaled the warmth of the Caribbean air. I distracted myself by dissecting the type of people they were pulling over. Lone travelers. Fresh, bub¬bling red rage at Sam rose. I called him. Straight to voice mail.
I was now among the stragglers, recognizing some of the faces. God, this was torture. I fought the urge to push to the front, explain about Sam and ask to be whisked through so that I could catch up with him, find out what the hell he was playing at. Breathe, breathe, breathe, I repeated over and over in my mind. I can do this. It’s all about playing the game.
A calmness descended over me as I was beckoned forward. One step after another, a neutral expression on my face. I could see the sun through the glass doors. No sign of Sam in the crowds beyond. I focused on the large brandy or whiskey I was going to order on the flight. I thought about the type of movie I would watch, a comedy or something light and easy to absorb. Or maybe I wouldn’t bother with any distractions at all. I could use the time to think.
Half a yard, then another. The man in front was pulled over to my right, with a brusque wave. A harmless-looking elderly couple was also summoned. Not me. Not yet. I was so nearly there. Please, God. I know I’ve made mistakes. I know I’ve made bad choices, but just let me keep walking and I will make amends.
“Miss?”
Shit.
“Yes?”
“Can you come over this way, please, and place your bags on the table?”
I smiled. “Yes, of course.”
Everything turned numb, as though this was happening to someone else. Invincibility was Sam’s superpower, not mine.
Victimless. That is what Sam and I had always said about the people we befriended. Relax, I told myself. They won’t find anything. I’d triple-checked, hadn’t I?
My bag felt unusually heavy as I lifted it up. It was still cov¬ered in hotel, airline and cruise stickers. Funny, the incon¬sequential things I focused on. Sam often told me to scrape them off. “Bland and anonymous is always best. The smallest of details can offer up rich clues to the wrong people.” He would know.
“Open your bags, please.”
“Sure.”
My mouth was dry. I rotated the combination on my lock: one, eight, eight, my birth date and month, a small act of rebel¬lion when it came to Sam’s insistence never to do the obvious. It clicked open. Yet I couldn’t bring myself to lift the lid, to display my personal belongings ready for public inspection. It was humiliating.
The officer lost patience and did it for me. Time slowed as he unzipped the bag. Nestling on top of my favorite red blouse was something that, although familiar, didn’t belong to me.
Blind panic.
“That’s not mine.” I reached to grab it, to remove the em¬erald necklace from its nest among my possessions. Someone had put it there.
“Stand back, please.”
I felt the fresh horror rise inside me as two other customs officers walked over and peered at the necklace.
“I said it’s not mine. Someone has been in my bag.”
Stony faces, bland expressions, dismissive words.
I tried again.
“You need to go through the CCTV, check who entered our cabin. Someone planted this.”
I looked from face to face.
Still nothing.
I should’ve kept quiet. They’d already decided that I was guilty. A thief. Someone without rights.
Anger replaced fear as my privacy was violated. My swimwear, toiletries, underwear, shoes, travel guides, my Spanish-language course books, my costume jewelry, my every-bloody-thing was removed and examined by careless rubber-gloved hands.
A glimmer of hope ignited when their search concluded. All they had found was something that was such an obvious plant. The necklace rested on the side of the counter, taunting me. Not for the first time either. Magpie-like, the moment I had first spotted the emerald-and-diamond choker with a teardrop pendant, I longed to own it. Green was most defi¬nitely the color of envy.
“Come with us, please.”
I was shown to an interview room. I could hear a baby crying outside. Alone, without my belongings, I had time to piece things together. Grim reality, like a blast of icy water. I had been sacrificed, thrown under the bus. Sam knew. He’d been tipped off. Instead of saving the two of us, he’d chosen to save himself. “For better, for worse” clearly no longer applied. It was a final act of cruelty. A brutal end, regardless of how rocky our marriage had been. All that mattered was himself.
Time spooled and distorted. I sat, trying to appear non¬chalant, yet as outraged as an innocent could be, robbed of her freedom. I felt watched. The heat stifled me. I wanted to plunge into a cold pool, swim below the surface, some¬how wash away the dirty feelings that threatened to swal¬low me whole.
Anger took over as I sat there. I wasn’t taking the rap—no way. As two police officers walked into the room, I was pre¬pared to embrace my inner canary. Whatever it took. But it became clear I wouldn’t need to sing that day.
I was free to go. It had all been a terrible mistake. Huge apologies. Strange, but true. My belongings—even the neck¬lace—were returned.
Outside, despite the heat of the midday sun, I wanted to run. I had got away with it. I was free. Except… I wasn’t.
I didn’t like the person I had become—hadn’t for a long time. Something needed to change. Sam’s customary reassur¬ances that “all would be well” had been my elixir. It smoothed away fears and doubts, the ones my conscience tried in vain to shove to the forefront of my mind during the darkest hours. The sudden and horrible unraveling of our gilded situation was the result of arrogance. His and mine.
But for now, I had to put myself first. I walked toward the shade and sat on a bench beneath a palm tree. I had less than two hours to catch my flight, but I could still make it. I sent Sam a message.
Call me. ASAP.
Nothing.
I hailed a cab to take me from the cruise terminal to the airport, deciding to make one detour to a friend’s house en route. I wanted to hide my pot of gold somewhere safe.
As we drew into the airport, fear took hold again. What if I was making a mistake? In a daze, I checked in. The airline staff wouldn’t tell me if Sam had checked in too. I called him again even though I knew, deep down, that there wouldn’t be an answer. As I placed my bag down to go through the X-ray machine, I heard my phone beep. I had to wait more painful minutes while my bag passed through the checks be¬fore I could snatch up my phone and read it. Sam!
One word.
Sorry.
What the hell was he doing?
Sam’s empty plane seat taunted me all the way to Lon¬don as I planned the things I was going to say and do when I next saw him. Because I would see him again. He wasn’t the only piece of unfinished business, because there was some¬one else I needed to track down too. The real owner of the necklace and the catalyst behind our downfall and the death of our marriage.

Excerpted from The Ex-Husband by Karen Hamilton, Copyright © 2022 by Karen Hamilton. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #RachelsRandomResources @rararesources / #Excerpt : Hunter’s Rules – Val Penny @valeriepenny @crookedcatbooks @darkstrokedark

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Hunters Rules

Today I’m on the ‘Hunter’s Secret’ blogtour, organized by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

sGCoOwzwHunter’s Rules is the sixth book in Val Penny’s Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series of novels published by darkstroke.
Val Penny’s other crime novels in this bestselling series are Hunter’s Chase, Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s Force, Hunter’s Blood and Hunter’s. They are set in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Her first non-fiction book Let’s Get Published is also available now and she has most recently contributed her short story, Cats and Dogs to a charity anthology, Dark Scotland.
Val is an American author living in SW Scotland with her husband and their cat.

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Synopsis :

Hunters Rules CoverWhen best-laid plans go awry…
Hunter and Meera’s romantic plans come to an abrupt end when they stumble into the scene of a crime.
A young woman was attacked in a hotel lift. She has traumatic injuries, but she clings to life. Hunter notes that her wounds are like those inflicted on two other women, who died from their ordeal.
Can Meera keep the injured woman alive long enough for her to identify the assailant? Is the same person responsible for all three crimes?
When Hunter is identified as a suspect, can he establish his innocence and lead his team to solve the crime and keep Edinburgh safe?

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Excerpt :

Meera and her colleague, David Murray, were the attending pathologists for the two women who had been murdered.

Meera scrubbed up and disinfected her hands then made her way over to the examination room where David was already waiting for her. He had wheeled in the body of the second victim into the hospital mortuary. She looked around her domain and thought how much her post-mortem examination room looked like an operating theatre.
David had already transferred the corpse to a stainless-steel table that occupied the middle of the spotlessly clean white floor. The victim was lying on her back with her arms loosely resting by her sides. Meera glanced at David and shook her head.
“This is so vicious,” she said. “And very difficult when we know so little about the victim.”
“That’s true. But we’ll find out what we can. Who do you think will attend for Police Scotland today?”
“I believe metallurgists found the corpse in its original site on Cramond beach. PC Neil Larkin was the first officer on the scene. Hunter told me that he planned to second Neil to CID, so I believe he and Nadia Chan have been delegated to come today.”
“Well I hope Neil manages a little better than some of the other first timers. Didn’t Bear Zewedu faint during his first post-mortem?”
Meera nodded.
“But Nadia is a trouper. We can always rely on her, at least to stay conscious.” David smiled.
Meera turned her attention to the body on the table. She noted the livor mortis on the woman’s body caused by the settling of the blood.
“She was definitely not killed in the location where she was found.” David frowned.
“True enough indeed. Oh, it sounds like the boys and girls in blue are arriving,” Meera said.
As Neil and Nadia walked towards the examination room, Meera looked up and smiled.
“DC Chan, how good to see you again.”
“Thanks Doctor Sharma. This is my colleague, DC Larkin.”
“DC Larkin, hello. Thank you for coming. It seems we were correct on our guess of attending officers, David.”
“Post-mortems are always interesting, but I would happily never come here again if it meant that people stopped getting killed.” Nadia looked at Meera then at Neil.
“And I would just quite happily never come here again. It smells awful,” Neil said.
“We should get gowned up, Neil,” Nadia said. “This way.”
“There really is a distinctive smell in here, isn’t there?” Neil commented as he followed Nadia.
“Yes, a bit like a combination of formaldehyde, antiseptic and industrial soap, isn’t it? It’s also a bit chilly, just those few degrees below what would be considered comfortable makes all the difference.”
“It’s a big room,” said Neil, when Nadia and Neil returned to witness the post-mortem.
“Yes, well by the time I’ve got my large double sinks along the wall, a metal counter to hold all the tools and the channel leading to the drain, I suppose it has to be big,” Meera said.
“When you two are finished discussing the equipment, might we get on with the job?” David asked.
The two DCs moved so that they could see the body on the stainless-steel examination table below the powerful circular halogen lights which were suspended from the ceiling. Meera positioned herself on the other side of the table from the two detectives. They watched in silence as Meera first freed the body from its sandy, laced shoes. There were cuts and grazes on the body’s hands, possibly from a fight she put up against her attacker, and there were animal bites and scratches that she had suffered since death. Meera also noticed the tiny abrasions and colour changes to around the neck.
“Look at this,” Meera said. “Her neck was bound, held or restrained in some way, by the looks of things. She might have been throttled into unconsciousness before her eyes were removed.”
David pulled a face as he watched Meera remove the clothes from the top of the body to get a better look. “There’s bits of sand and dirt stuck to that,” he said. “Probably from after she was dumped on the beach.”
“Yes, that would be right. She was just above the tideline when the metal detecting guys called it in. That’s where I first saw her,” Neil said.
As each piece of clothing was taken from the body, Meera methodically gave them to David. He put every item carefully into plastic evidence bags which would be handed over to the forensics experts for further examination. Meera then took blood, urine and hair samples as well as oral, vaginal and anal swabs. When Meera removed the victim’s underwear – the next thing she noticed was the large bruise on the victim’s belly.
“Have you seen this David?” she asked. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he knelt on her to get the purchase to remove the eyes. We’ll need to check for injuries to the internal organs.
“Nasty!” David Murray frowned.
“I don’t suppose there’s much doubt about the cause of death.” Neil grimaced.
“I don’t like to pre-empt our findings, but the poor soul would have suffered severe shock from the removal of the eyeballs and if we find damage to the internal organs, there could be massive internal bleeding inside the abdominal cavity,” Meera said.
Then David looked at Neil. “We expect to find evidence that she was drugged like the first victim. If so, she would never have recovered consciousness from that and the strangulation. The victims may not even have felt the pain from the cuts.”
Nadia gasped. Neil closed his eyes and fell to the floor with a thud.
“And he was doing so well,” David said.
Nadia didn’t respond. She just placed Neil gently into the recovery position, apologised to the doctors and invited them to continue with their work.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #RachelsRandomResources @rararesources / #Excerpt : Daughter Of The Sea – Elisabeth J. Hobbes @ElisabethHobbes @0neMoreChapter_ @HarperCollinsUK

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Today I’m on the ‘Daughter Of The Sea’ blogtour, organized by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Elisabeth’s writing career began when she finished in third place in Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest in 2013.  She was offered a two-book contract and consequently had to admit secret writing was why the house was such a tip.  She is the author of numerous historical romances with Harlequin Mills & Boon covering the Medieval period to Victorian England, and a Second World War romantic historical with One More Chapter. She lives in Cheshire because the car broke down there in 1999 and she never left.

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Synopsis :

On a windswept British coastline the tide deposits an unexpected gift …
It was the cry that she first noticed, the plaintive wail that called to her over the crash of winter waves. Wrapped only in a sealskin, the baby girl looks up at Effie and instantly captures her heart. She meant only to temporarily foster the young orphan but when news reaches Effie that her husband has been lost at sea, and months pass without anyone claiming the infant, she embraces her new family – her son Jack and her adopted daughter Morna.
Effie has always been an outcast in her village, the only granddaughter of a woman people whisper is a witch, so she’s used to a solitary existence. But when Midsummer arrives so too does a man claiming to be Morna’s father. There’s no denying Lachlan is the girl’s kin and so Effie is surprised when he asks her to continue looking after his daughter, mysteriously refusing to explain why. She agrees, but when he returns six months hence she pushes him for answers. And Lachlan tells a story she never anticipated … one of selkies, legend, and the power of the sea …

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Excerpt :

Lachlan, the enigmatic father of Effie’s foster daughter, has visited on Midsummer’s Day and invited her for a walk along the beach.

The breeze was still warm from the heat of the day. Effie wrapped her shawl over her arm rather than wear it. Her neck felt sticky and she longed to feel the air on her skin. She undid the top button of her blouse and then the one below that and loosened her collar to let the breeze do its best to cool her. Lachlan had draped his fur over his arm. It looked heavy and hot but he didn’t seem to mind.
The beach curved away from the village towards the inlet called Boggle’s Cove. Effie and Lachlan walked side by side until they reached the stream that trickled down to join the sea from the cove between the rocks. The bay was sheltered and out of sight of the village. They would only be visible from the sea itself. Any worries that they might be seen melted away.
Lachlan selected a large, smooth boulder. He spread his fur out and sat on it before gesturing to Effie.
“Will you join me?”
The boulder was not large and they would be sitting intimately close. Her heart gave another thud, quickly followed by a shiver that ran down through her stomach and settled low in her belly. He had no idea what effect he had on her but, given his brief show of jealousy over Walter, she wondered if she was having the same effect on him.
She spread her shawl out next to the skin but not touching, and sat on it. She twisted round to face him and where his collar fell open she noticed a blueish-green circle about the size of a thumbprint. At first she thought it was a bruise but it was too regular. It must be a tattoo of some sort. She wondered what the rest of it – the part concealed by the shirt – looked like.
“You seemed ill at ease with Morna,” she said.
“I’m not used to children. I don’t know what to do with them.”
“You’ll grow better. You did well tonight soothing them to sleep.”. Effie patted his arm. “The song you sang was beautiful.”
Lachlan ran his hands through his hair and over the back of his neck.
“Tell me about Morna.”
Effie thought before answering. How to conjure a child’s life in a few words for a father who seemed reluctant to know her in person.
“She’s wilful,” she said, smiling as she added, “and I don’t mean that in a bad way. She’s strong and determined to get her own way as all children are. She likes strawberries but not in jam. She fights going to sleep. At least usually she does. If I could sing to her like you did I’d have an easier time.”
“I could teach you the tune but the words are harder to learn. The language is ancient,” Lachlan said. “Tell me more.”
Effie chatted easily now, listing the new words Morna had learned since his last visit, how well she could walk and how close she and Jack were. Lachlan nodded in encouragement, asking questions and before long Effie had almost forgotten her awkwardness.
“Children grow so quickly. If you came more often you would see the change yourself,” she said.
“I can’t do that.”
A breeze blew the warm scent of saltwater across the beach. Effie inhaled with a satisfied sigh and was instantly consumed by the urge to wade into the depths. She looked towards the sea.
“If you want to go in then do it,” Lachlan murmured.
She turned to him in surprise.
“How did you know that is what I was thinking?”
“You have a very expressive face. Also, I was thinking the same thing.”
She kicked off her clogs then turned her back to Lachlan and discreetly peeled off her stockings. The sand was cool and she burrowed her toes in it with a sigh of pleasure She picked her way over the shells and pebbles to the edge of the water and stood close enough for the gentle waves to lap at her toes as they washed in.
Lachlan was still sitting on his fur watching her with a look of longing on his face.
“Will you join me?” she called.
After a moment he pulled off his boots and came to stand beside her at the water’s edge. He rolled up his trouser legs, revealing well-shaped, smooth calves that were lightly tanned. He took a couple of steps further out than Effie. This brought them to the same height so that when he turned back his eyes were level with Effie’s. He smiled and the edges of his eyes crinkled.
The sea was chilly but not as cold as it would be by morning. It felt refreshing. Invigorating. Her skin came alive. Effie wished she could lift her skirts and wade in as deep up her legs as Lachlan. Wished she could spread her arms and fall backwards into the waves.
“Morna loves the sea,” she said, smiling at him. “She makes it her purpose to reach it at every opportunity.”
Lachlan looked at her sharply.
“Has she managed it?”
Effie took a step back, surprised at his sudden ferocity. “I take her to play in the waves. It doesn’t do any harm. She was so determined it seemed cruel to deny her. She wanted to do it so much I was worried that forbidding it would lead to her trying all the more.”
“Did something happen to make you suspect that?” Lachlan asked. His voice was soft once more, inviting her to tell him.
Effie gazed out to sea as she told him of the terrible day when she had lost sight of Morna and how the child had almost gone headfirst into the foam. While she spoke, Lachlan stood rigidly, face carved from granite and eyes never leaving the sea.
“I’m so sorry,” Effie whispered. “I should never have taken my eyes of her. If she had drowned…”
She swallowed the end of the thought, a painful knot tied in her throat. She stumbled back to the rock and sat on it, her head in her hands. Warm tears bubbled at her eyes. She felt Lachlan draw close and looked up.
“It wasn’t your fault. It is in her nature. I had hoped…”
He broke off and gazed out to sea. “It matters not. The fault is mine.”

Giveaway :

Win a signed copy of Daughter of the Sea (UK Only)
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The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #HarlequinTradePublishingBlogTour @htp_books / #Excerpt : Cry Wolf #CryWolf – Hans Rosenfeldt @Hanover_Square @HarlequinBooks

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Today I’m on the ‘Cry Wolf’ blogtour, organized by Harlequin Trade Publishing Blog Tour.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Hans Rosenfeldt is a Swedish screenwriter, radio presenter, novelist and actor. He created the Scandinavian series The Bridge, which is broadcast in more than 170 countries, as well as the ITV/Netflix series Marcella.

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Synopsis :

Title: Cry Wolf
Author: Hans Rosenfeldt
ISBN: 9781335425713
Publication Date: December 28, 2021
Publisher: Hanover Square Press

A DEAD WOLF
A DRUG DEAL GONE WRONG
A LETHAL FEMALE ASSASSIN
The first book in a new series by Hans Rosenfeldt, creator of the TV series The Bridge as well as Netflix’s Emmy Award–winning Marcella.
Hannah Wester, a policewoman in the remote northern town of Haparanda, Sweden, finds herself on the precipice of chaos.
When human remains are found in the stomach of a dead wolf, Hannah knows that this summer won’t be like any other. The remains are linked to a bloody drug deal across the border in Finland. But how did the victim end up in the woods outside of Haparanda? And where have the drugs and money gone?
Hannah and her colleagues leave no stone unturned. But time is scarce and they aren’t the only ones looking. When the secretive and deadly Katja arrives, unexpected and brutal events start to pile up. In just a few days, life in Haparanda is turned upside down. Not least for Hannah, who is finally forced to confront her own past.

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Excerpt :

Everything had gone according to plan.
First their arrival.
Be the first in place, park the jeep and black Mercedes be-side each other on a rutted clearing in the middle of the forest, used by lumber trucks and harvesters for loading and U-turns, then position the coolers to face the narrow forest road they’d just come down. The ruts beneath them, the nocturnal birdsong around them, the only thing besides absolute silence until the sound of engines announced the arrival of the Finns.
A Volvo XC90, also black, drove up. Vadim watched as Artjom and Michail took their weapons and left the Mercedes, while he and Ljuba climbed out of their jeep. He liked Ljuba, thought she liked him, too. They’d gone out for a beer together a few times, and when they asked her who she wanted to drive with, she’d chosen him. For a moment he considered telling her to wait in the car, take cover, say he had a premonition this might go wrong. But if he did that, what would they do afterwards?
Run away together? Live happily ever after?
That would be impossible once she knew what had happened. She’d never betray Valerij; she didn’t like him that much, he was sure of it. So he said nothing.
The Volvo stopped a few meters in front of them, the engine switched off, the doors opened and four men stepped out. All of them armed. Looked around suspiciously as they fanned out.
Everything was still.
The calm before the storm.
The Finnish leader, a large man with a buzz cut and a tribal tattoo wrapped around one eye, nodded to the smallest of the four Finns, who holstered his gun, walked behind the Volvo and opened the trunk. Vadim also backed up a few steps to un-lock his jeep’s trunk.
So far everything was going according to their plan.
Time for his plan.
A bullet from a rifle with a silencer on it entered just beneath the eye of the large Finn closest to the car. The sudden explosion of bone, blood, and brain matter as the projectile made its way through the back of his head made the others react instinctively.
Everyone started shooting at the same time.
Everyone except Vadim, who threw himself behind the shelter of the jeep.
The man with the tattoo on his face roared loudly, hugged his trigger, and immediately took down Michail with four or five shots to the chest. Artyom answered with gunfire. The tattooed man was hit by two bullets, staggered back, but re-gained his balance and turned his weapon on Artyom, who threw himself behind the cover of the Mercedes, but it was too late. Several bullets hit his legs from the hip down. Shrieking in pain, he landed on dry gravel. The tattooed man continued bleeding, roaring, and shooting as he moved toward the Volvo, determined to make it out of here alive. But a second later he fell to his knees gurgling, let go of his weapon and pressed his hands to what was left of his neck.
Somewhere more shots were fired, more screams could be heard.
Artjom slid up into a sitting position, while trying to stop the blood that gushed from his thigh in the same rhythm as his racing heartbeat. Then another series of shots, and he went still, his gaze turning from desperation to emptiness, his lips forming some soundless word before his head slumped onto his chest.
The third Finn had thrown himself into the cover of a shallow ditch with a good view beneath the parked cars. A round of concentrated fire from his semi-automatic had hit Artjom in the back. Vadim realized that he, too, must be visible and flung himself around the jeep to hide behind one of its large wheels. When he got to the side of the car, he saw the smallest of the four Finns lying dead on the ground.
Ljuba wasn’t visible.
Another round of shots sounded from the ditch at the forest edge and bullets hit the metal on the back of the wheel, puncturing the tire. One went through the rubber and hit him in the side, just above his butt. The pain was a white-hot flash through his body. He closed his eyes, swallowed a scream, leaned his forehead against his knees and made himself as small as he could. As he slowly let the air in his lungs out again, he realized the gunfire had ceased.
It was silent. Completely silent.
No movement, no voices, no roar of pain or betrayal, no bird-song, nothing. As if the very place itself were holding its breath.
He peeked out carefully from behind the jeep.
Still silent. And still.
Slowly, slowly he raised his head for a better view. The sun hung below the trees, but still above the horizon; the scene in front of him was bathed in that particular soft, warm light of the midnight sun.
He rose cautiously to his feet. A bullet was still lodged in his muscle and tissue, but it didn’t seem to have damaged any vital organs. He pressed his hand to the wound. Blood, but no more than he could stop with a compress.
“Ljuba?”
Ljuba was leaning against the rear bumper of the Finn’s car, breathing shallowly, the front of her gray T-shirt beneath her jacket soaked in blood, the gun still in her right hand. Vadim assessed the damage. The blood was running out at a steady rate, so it hadn’t nicked an artery. No air bubbles, so her lungs were probably intact. She might very well survive.
“Who shot us?” she asked, out of breath, grabbing Vadim’s jacket with a bloody hand. “Who the fuck started shooting?”
“He’s with us.”
“What? What do you mean with us? Who is he?”
“Come on.”
He gently took the gun away from her, pushed it into his pocket before standing up, leaned forward and helped her to her feet. She grimaced from the pain of exertion but managed to stand. With his arm around her waist and her arm around his shoulders, they walked out into the open area between the cars. When they reached the rise where the tattooed Finn had fallen, Vadim stopped, gently removed Ljuba’s arm, released his supportive grip from around her waist, and backed away with two large steps.
“I’m sorry…”
Ljuba’s gaze was uncomprehending at first, but she soon realized what was happening, why he’d brought her here. Seconds later a bullet pierced her temple and she was thrown to the ground.
Vadim pressed his hand to the wound on his lower back and stretched, let out a deep sigh.
In the end, everything had gone according to plan.

Excerpted from Cry Wolf by Hans Rosenfeldt, Copyright © 2022 by Hans Rosenfeldt. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #AmazonPublishing @AmazonPub / #Excerpt : Her Second Death (Bree Taggert #0.5) #HerSecondDeath – Melinda Leigh @MelindaLeigh1

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

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Today I’m on the ‘Her Second Death’ blogtour.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

#1 Amazon Charts and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh is a fully recovered banker. Melinda’s debut novel, She Can Run, was nominated for Best First Novel by the International Thriller Writers. She’s garnered numerous writing awards, including two RITA nominations. Her other novels include She Can Tell, She Can Scream, She Can Hide, and She Can Kill in the She Can series; Midnight Exposure, Midnight Sacrifice, Midnight Betrayal, and Midnight Obsession in the Midnight novels; Hour of Need, Minutes to Kill, and Seconds to Live in the Scarlet Falls series; Say You’re Sorry, Her Last Goodbye, Bones Don’t Lie, What I’ve Done, Secrets Never Die, and Save Your Breath in the Morgan Dane series; and the Bree Taggert novels, Cross Her Heart, See Her Die, Drown Her Sorrows, and Right Behind Her. She holds a second-degree black belt in Kenpo karate, has taught women’s self-defense, and lives in a messy house with her family and a small herd of rescue pets. 

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Synopsis :

Title: Her Second Death
Author: Melinda Leigh
Series: Bree Taggert
Page Count:
48 pages
Release Date: December 7, 2021
Publisher:
Amazon Original Stories

When a man is shot in the head, Bree Taggert and her new partner, veteran detective Dana Romano, respond to the call. They break the news to the victim’s ex-wife and learn the estranged couple’s five-year-old daughter was supposed to have been with him. What starts as a murder investigation quickly morphs into a desperate search for a missing child. The case stirs memories of Bree’s own traumatizing childhood. To find the little girl, Bree will have to relive her own terrifying past.

Amazon

Excerpt :

The medical examiner pulled out of the Ford’s interior. “No rigor yet. Livor mortis isn’t fixed yet either. Cold would slow decomp, but he’s relatively fresh. Died very early this morning.” He closed his eyes and his jowly face screwed up as he did the mental math. “Six to eight hours ago, roughly between midnight and two a.m.”
Which matched the times on the surveillance video. “Detective Romano?” Reilly called. “CSU is here.”
As soon as the ME removed the body, the crime scene unit would take over.
“Do we have a next of kin for the victim?” Romano asked.
Reilly nodded. “He’s married to Kelly Tyson.”
“Let’s go notify Mrs. Tyson.” Romano turned back toward their vehicle. Once behind the wheel, she rubbed her palms together, then pulled a pair of leather gloves from her pocket and tugged them on.
In the passenger seat, Bree blew on her freezing hands. Romano peeled away from the curb.
“Wasn’t a robbery.” Bree rolled the facts around in her head. “They left cash in Tyson’s wallet. Also, they didn’t take the car. Drug deal gone sour?”
“We have no idea what happened, other than a guy got shot.”
“You don’t like any of those theories?” Bree asked.
Romano shot her a direct look. “I like evidence, not theories.”

Giveaway :

$20 Amazon Gift Card & A Digital Copy of Melinda Leigh’s Her Second Death

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The Magic of Wor(l)ds