#BlogTour #ZooloosBookTours @zooloo2008 / #QandAs : The Wickham Market Murder (Bloomfield & Palmer Book 1) #TheWickhamMarketMurder #BloomfieldAndPalmer – Iain Maitland @IainMaitland @SharpeBooks

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

The Wickham Market Murder Book Tour Poster

Today I’m on the ‘The Wickham Market Murder’ blogtour, organized by Zooloo’s Book Tours.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Iain Maitland Author PhotoIain Maitland is the author of three previous psych thrillers, The Scribbler (2020), Mr Todd’s Reckoning (2019) and Sweet William (2017), all published by Contraband, an imprint of Saraband. Mr Todd’s Reckoning is coming to the big screen in 2023.
Iain is also the author of two memoirs, Dear Michael, Love Dad (Hodder, 2016), a book of letters written to his eldest son who experienced depression and anorexia, and (co-authored with Michael) Out Of The Madhouse (Jessica Kingsley, 2018).
He is also an Ambassador for Stem4, the teenage mental health charity. He talks regularly about mental health issues in schools and colleges and workplaces.
Find out more about Iain at his
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Synopsis :

Iain Maitland Author PhotoSuffolk, 1907.
Wickham Market’s local constable William Palmer spends his days yearning to solve a significant case so he can earn his detective’s badge.
But Palmer is torn, because he is also in love with the school mistress Alice Kemp who doesn’t want to leave the village.
One night, the night of a dramatic storm, there is a murder. A housemaid – Evelyn Maud Roberts – is found stabbed to death at the local vicarage.
Palmer has his chance to make a name for himself.
The local doctor declares that Evelyn was six months pregnant.
And the vicar’s daughter, Charlotte Mellor, names three men who may have reason to commit murder; Walter Fisk, soon-to-be-master at the workhouse; Albert Nunn, the postman; Frederick Hawes, the slow-witted village boy in love with Evelyn.
Palmer investigates. But he only has so much time before Inspector Bloomfield – the veteran detective from Suffolk Police – arrives from Ipswich to take over the case.
And before the killer strikes again.

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Q&A :

Hi

First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I’ve been a freelance writer all my working life; mostly articles and books and newsletters on business and finance and property. I’d always wanted to be a creative writer and got into my early 50s and decided if I don’t do it now I never will. I wrote two family memoirs, Dear Michael, Love Dad (Hodder, 2016) and Out Of The Madhouse with my eldest son Michael (JKP 2018). Then thrillers – Sweet William, Mr Todd’s Reckoning, The Scribbler (Contraband, 2017-20) and The Girl Downstairs (Inkubator, 2021). The Wickham Market Murder is my latest (Sharpe Books 2022).

Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
I read all the Agatha Christies and all the Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes from about ten to the age of twelve. I was a latchkey kid for much of the seventies and just devoured them one after the other. Thank goodness for the local library. The Wickham Market Murder has shades of Agatha Christie and Holmes and Watson.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
To be honest, no. I spent more than 25 years writing all across the board, including some copywriting. I felt confident I could write. I have always wanted to do my own thing and write the books I wanted to write. I don’t really look at other people’s books as I don’t want their stories, characters or phrases in my head.

If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
Probably Mr Todd of my book, Mr Todd’s Reckoning – my ‘Norman Bates’ character. I’d like to see how he’d be with someone who knows him inside out. This book was coming to TV as a six part series starring Paul Ritter but sadly he passed away. After a while, we talked to a film company who wanted to option it but, for one reason or another, that did not happen. We are now talking to a production company about a TV series. Fingers crossed.

Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
I walk my dog Dolly and go for a swim at the leisure centre and have a breakfast up the town before I begin work. I can’t just go upstairs to my attic room and start writing. I break up my day, emailing and talking to people, so it’s not just me at my desk nine until four when my wife Tracey comes home and I stop work. Writing can be a lonely affair. My eldest son Michael had some mental health issues and spent some time in The Priory and we are both now ambassadors for the teenange mental health charity, Stem4. I am conscious of my mental health which is generally fine.

Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
Sometimes, they just come into my head. Other times, I will read something in a newspaper and then kind of twist and turn it into a story of my own. With The Wickham Market Murder, I’d been reading about the Peasenhall Murder – the murder of a maid, Rose Harsent, in Peasenhall in Suffolk in 1902. That gave me my starting point.

Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I usually have a beginning, a middle and an end. As often as not, the beginning stays the same as I start writing but the middle and the end are often different. The Wickham Market Murder is the perfect example of this. Mostly because I was conscious that Rose was a real person and may have relatives alive out there. Also, as I got into it, the story kind of took over and led me in a different direction.

Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
I would say that you should not necessarily sign up with the first agent and the first publisher who offer to take you on. That’s really hard to do, I know. I spent 18 months being rejected by everyone and was really demoralised and desperate by the end of it. But that first agent or publisher may not be the right one for you. I’ve been through quite a few agents and publishers to get myself in the right place. You may , for example, have an agent who does not have the contacts in your niche and a publisher who is really nice but does not generate the sales you want.

What are your future plans as an author?
I’ve two sequels to The Wickham Market Murder coming with Sharpe Books – The Southwold Murders and The Cobbold Point Murder; they are out later this year. I’ve three pysch thrillers coming with Inkubator Books, starting with The Perfect Husband in July. I’m in talks to bring Mr Todd’s Reckoning to TV. I’ve a semi-autobiographical novel, The Walker, coming out next year. Busy!

Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Wickham Market’s local constable William Palmer spends his days yearning to solve a significant case so he can earn his detective’s badge.
But Palmer is torn, because he is also in love with the school mistress Alice Kemp who doesn’t want to leave the village.
One night, the night of a dramatic storm, there is a murder. A housemaid – Evelyn Maud Roberts – is found stabbed to death at the local vicarage.
Palmer has his chance to make a name for himself.
The local doctor declares that Evelyn was six months pregnant.
And the vicar’s daughter, Charlotte Mellor, names three men who may have reason to commit murder; Walter Fisk, soon-to-be-master at the workhouse; Albert Nunn, the postman; Frederick Hawes, the slow-witted village boy in love with Evelyn.
Palmer investigates. But he only has so much time before Inspector Bloomfield – the veteran detective from Suffolk Police – arrives from Ipswich to take over the case.
And before the killer strikes again.

Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Iain Maitland.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!

#BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub @maryanneyarde / #Excerpt : The Brantford Wagers (The Brantford Series, Book 1) #TheBrantfordWagers – Nadine Kampen @cookiebuxton #HistoricalFiction #RegencyRomance

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

The Brantford Wagers Tour Banner

Today I’m on the ‘The Brantford Wagers’ 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 :

Nadine Kampen_1MBIn her début novel, The Brantford Wagers, Nadine Kampen draws on her passion for stories that bring a smile and warm the hearts of the reader. The author immerses the reader in the fictional world of traditional historical romance, set in the memorable Regency England period, sharing the hopes, schemes, and antics of her characters.
Prior to her career as an author, Nadine served as a regional marketing manager with an international consulting firm and as a communications and marketing director on university campuses. Earlier in her career, she worked in public relations and journalism, and was co-author and project lead for five non-fiction books comprising The Canadian Breast Cancer Series, published in 1989.
A resident of Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada, Nadine loves relaxing with family and friends, reading and walking, playing tunes on her 1905 Bell piano, and gardening.

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Synopsis :

Book Title: The Brantford Wagers
Series: The Brantford Series, Book 1
Author: Nadine Kampen
Publication Date: 20th January 2022
Publisher: Birdsgate Publishing
Page Length: 358 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Regency Romance

Nadine Kampen_1MBIs Clara Vincent ready to risk it all for love?
Clara Vincent is “the artful dodger” when it comes to marriage, especially when her father is bent on match-making. Will her attitude change when she meets two eligible suitors and is drawn into the lives of intensely competitive families? Clara falls unexpectedly in love, but when fortunes are reversed and relationships up-ended, she needs to decide whether to trust James Brantford, who is seeking retribution, or accept the love of the man everyone else
believes is her ideal match.
As the Brantford wagers unfold and lay bare the history of past relationships, will Clara be able to learn the truth and finally follow her heart?

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Excerpt :

Chapter 16
A Memorable Composition

If Clara anticipated anything at all of Andrew Hill’s music, it was heaviness and fury. She fully expected him, in fact, to bang his hands down onto the ivories. What she heard instead completely startled her. The first sounds were full, sweet notes in the upper octaves. The music began in lightness and rapid motion, the melody beginning in the higher tones and echoed in an enchanting counter-movement in the bass.
‘How beautiful!’ she said quietly, tingling with excitement. Brantford smiled and nodded.
On the man played to his company, phrase after phrase taking shape under his capable hands. Clara watched his wrists and saw how his hands hovered, moving with such speed, caressing the keys. He came at length to a variation on his opening melody but played now with authority and power. The melody held more weight this time, more maturity, almost. The passage was mournful rather than sweet, resolving in a manner that was utterly satisfying and complete.
They remained still at the end of it, shocked by what they had heard. It was as though he had placed a spell on them. What an extraordinary composition. Lifting her daughter from her lap, Jenny Hill moved silently to her husband’s side. Mr Brantford and Clara looked to one another. Mr Hill rested, absolutely still. His wife lifted one of her husband’s massive hands to her tear-stained face, kissed the tips of his fingers, and pressed his hand to her cheek.
The husband had played for his wife alone. Clara understood that and looked away. Brantford, watching her, pressed his handkerchief into her hand, and she took it gratefully.
Mr Hill stood up and bowed, smiling at no one in particular. He knew the value of his work and he knew he had played brilliantly. When he did finally look towards his guests, it was in triumph and pride.
Brantford rose to his feet. ‘It is outstanding. All England shall thank you for it.’
‘What a privilege it is to hear your music. I was deeply moved. Thank you for inviting me to stay.’ Clara would have said more, but he had heard enough of praise. Mr Hill fixed his attention upon his daughter.
‘What say you, daughter? Do you like it?’
‘Yes, Papa, except the middle is noisy. The ending is splendid; that is the best part.’
‘I see. You were glad when it was over.’
The child pursed her lips and blinked back tears, hurt at being misinterpreted.
‘It has a happy ending,’ she explained.
He hugged Angelina and gave his wife a tender smile that lit up his tired features.
Clara looked away once more. This was all so private, these emotions and hidden feelings. She yearned to leave, and expressing her appreciation once more, bid the couple farewell. Mr Brantford, saying he would follow her in a moment, asked her to wait for him. Outside, she felt a wave of emotion sweeping over her. She could name the feeling, had anyone asked her: it was loneliness, and it seemed to fill her lungs, leaving her breathless. Hearing of Jenny’s estrangement and listening to the husband’s music made her heart hurt, and it brought a flood of memories, of the loss of her loved ones and her own isolation as an outsider. Even gaining the affection of the wrong man—she realised that now—brought a sense of emptiness, and she felt overwhelmed. Happiness had some future date written upon it; it was not to be claimed any time soon. Every note of that song had resounded inside her chest, and her heart was pounding.
Mr Brantford soon joined her, and they sat beside one another on a low stone wall.
‘His music is so very memorable. My father commissioned this piece and has secured a buyer in London, which will help considerably. The timing could not be better.’
‘Truly? I am glad to hear it.’
‘Miss Vincent, you mentioned at our last meeting that your brother-in-law enquired after my stables. I confess, it caught me by surprise, but I would be pleased to show you some of our horses. They are not all here at Middlegate, but you are welcome to see them. Feel free to come by when it suits you.’
‘I should like that immensely. Perhaps I could return at the end of October, then, since the day of your picnic will be rather busy for you,’ she suggested, pleased by his offer.
Brantford nodded and smiled happily. ‘You need only name the date.’
Clara, confused by his attention and friendly demeanour, felt exhausted from trying to rein in her natural warmth. The effort must have shown on her expressive features.
‘Are you tired? Let me see you home. I am ashamed I let you walk home from the river that day, when you so badly needed rest. I shall not be guilty a second time. Wait here while I collect my grandmother, and I will take you home.’
‘Your grandmother is here with you?’
‘Yes, on a rendez-vous with some acquaintances, enjoying tea. I shan’t be long.’ True to his word, he returned promptly with Mrs Brantford already settled in the carriage, and they journeyed the few miles to Stancrofts’ in comfort and ease.
On arrival, Mr Brantford declined Mrs Stancroft’s invitation to stay for refreshments. Clara was grateful he was leaving. She wanted and needed time to be alone. The music she had heard was still playing through her mind, and her enjoyment of Mr Brantford’s company on the ride home had given her much to think about. She escaped to her own room, lay down on her bed, and closed her eyes. Stretched out on her back, arms under her head, she replayed the sounds and scenes over and over to her heart’s content while tears trickled down her cheeks.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #HarlequinTradePublishingBlogTour @htp_books / #Excerpt : Mrs. England #MrsEngland – Stacey Halls @stacey_halls @MIRAEditors @HarlequinBooks

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

619-HTP-Banner---HISTORICAL-FICTION-for-Google-Form

Today I’m on the ‘Mrs. England’ 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 :

Stacey Halls B&W author photo credit Ollie GroveStacey Halls grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and has written for publications including the Guardian, Stylist, Psychologies, the Independent, the Sun and Fabulous. Both of her first two novels, The Familiars and The Lost Orphan, were Sunday Times bestsellers, Mrs England is her third novel.

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Synopsis :

Title: Mrs. England
Author: Stacey Halls
ISBN: 9780778386315
Publication Date: April 12, 2022
Publisher: MIRA

Mrs. England - final cover

From the bestselling author of The Familiars and The Foundling comes Stacey Halls’ most compelling and ambitious novel to date.
‘Something’s not right here.’
I was aware of Mr Booth’s eyes on me, and he seemed to hold his breath. ‘What do you mean?’
‘In the house. With the family.’
West Yorkshire, 1904. When newly graduated nurse Ruby May takes a position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear there’s something not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs England.
Distant and withdrawn, Lilian shows little interest in her children or charming husband, and is far from the ‘angel of the house’ Ruby was expecting. As the warm, vivacious Charles welcomes Ruby into the family, a series of strange events forces her to question everything she thought she knew. Ostracised by the servants and feeling increasingly uneasy, Ruby must face her demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there’s no such thing as the perfect family – and she should know.
Simmering with slow-burning menace, Mrs England is a portrait of an Edwardian marriage, weaving an enthralling story of men and women, power and control, courage, truth and the very darkest deception. Set against the atmospheric West Yorkshire landscape, Stacey Halls’ third novel proves her one of the most exciting and compelling new storytellers of our times.

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Excerpt :

London, 1904

I took Georgina the usual way home, east through Kensington Gardens toward Hyde Park. She had fallen asleep with a fistful of daisies, and I pushed the pram along the bridleway, nodding at the other nurses. Her shoes nudged the end of the cushioned carriage; she would soon outgrow it, and I felt a distant stab of mourning for the baby she had been. She could sit up herself now, which she did on fine days with the hood folded down; she loved to see the Household Cavalry with their piped uniforms and plumed hats, and ladies would put down their parasols to admire her.
I crouched to retrieve a woolen bear lying on the sand be¬side a pram. The baby’s nurse sat on a bench reading a novel and had not noticed. Behind her a tangle of small boys tore about the grass, bashing one another with sticks.
“Oh, thank you,” the nurse said as I passed her the bear. She took in my uniform, distinct from the other nurses’, designed to set Norlanders apart from the rest: beneath a smart brown cloak I wore a fawn drill dress with a white cambric apron edged with lace. At my throat a frothy cream tie completed the summer uniform. In winter we wore light blue serge, and all year round we did our heavy work in pink galatea, clean¬ing the nursery and making up fires.
“I wish she went off like that,” said the nurse. She nodded at the occupant of her pram: a slim, serious-looking child a little older than Georgina, who glared at me from beneath a white sun hat. “How old?”
“She’s seventeen months,” I replied.
“And look at her lovely curls. It’s a shame this one’s hair’s so straight. She pulls out her rags when I put them in.”
“You could try setting them when she’s asleep. If you wet the rags first, it’ll dry like that.”
The nurse brightened. “That’s an idea.”
I said goodbye and she returned to her book. We passed through Albert Gate, where black stags stood guard on the park railings, and I smiled at the old woman who sold wind¬mills and toy balloons. The windmills waited rigidly in their crates for a breeze to stir them that August afternoon, and the woman spun one half-heartedly. She never smiled back, but I supposed I looked much the same to her as all the other nurses. We flocked to the park after lunch with our charges, occu¬pying the lawns and benches, spreading blankets on the grass, feeding the ducks and pushing prams through the rose gardens. An hour or two later we’d pass her again, heading home for naps and paste sandwiches before taking the children down¬stairs to see their parents.
Georgina was the only child of Audrey and Dennis Rad¬lett, though Mrs. Radlett was expecting again. I’d laundered Georgina’s linens in readiness and circled cots in catalogues to show Mrs. Radlett; Georgina would still be in hers when the baby came. The new arrival excited me, though I was yet to find a monthly nurse for feeding, and the prospect of shar¬ing my nursery even for a few weeks caused a distant flutter of anxiety. For the top floor of number six Perivale Gardens was my kingdom, my domain: my office, schoolroom and workshop. Sometimes it was a tearoom, if Georgina wished to give her toys refreshment; occasionally it was a jungle, and the two of us would crawl on our knees on the carpet, hunt-ing for lions and tigers.
Georgina’s hand opened, causing the daisies to scatter over her blanket, and deftly I swept them up and put them in my pocket. On the nursery windowsill I’d arranged in jars the f lowers we’d picked in the park, and I was teaching Georgina their names. Georgina already had an impressive vocabulary, quietly absorbing as I pointed at plates and spoons and toys and stamps. “Tag!” she’d declared one afternoon a few weeks ago, straining out of her pram to point at the Albert Gate stags. I’d felt a rush of pride and love for this cheerful, confident little girl, who everybody adored when they met, and who reflected adoration back at them.
On Knightsbridge, motorcars growled past carriages and choked the road with fumes. I glanced about at the redbrick apartment buildings, the hot potato man, the green Bayswater omnibus and the Chinese laundryman unloading fresh linen from his cart. Crossing sweepers stepped aside for ladies in wide hats on their way home from department stores, tailed by their maids laden with boxes. Perivale Gardens was a large, quiet square a few minutes from the busy thoroughfare. A score of houses stood around an oblong lawn, guarded by black iron railings and planted with cedars and rhododendrons. The Radlett home was tall and stuccoed, with smooth white columns flanking a glossy black door. At the top was the nursery, which overlooked the long and sunny garden, and the neighbors’ gar¬dens either side. The Bowlers next door kept hens, and some¬times let Georgina collect the eggs.
The hall was empty and silent, and I carried Georgina up¬stairs, where she allowed me to remove her cream leather shoes and settled in her cot with a sigh. I closed the blinds and pulled the curtains, glancing into the street for a moment and see¬ing the butcher’s boy on his rounds with his basket. He went down some steps and a kitchen maid examined its contents at the door, piling packets into the crook of her elbow. My father did his rounds with Damson, our docile pony, A. May, High Class Fruiterer & Greengrocer painted in large white letters on the side of his cart. My brothers and I would fight over who sat at the reins with him as he steered us through the streets, waving at people. “You take the reins, Rhubarb,” he would say, putting them in my hands.
I closed the curtains.
At half past three, Ellen brought me a ham roll and a pot of tea, and I gave her a copy of Young Woman I’d read and a penny dreadful I hadn’t. I took a seat at the table beneath the window to eat, looking about to see what needed dusting; in summer, within hours of my morning clean, a thin layer of grime drifted in through the window and coated everything. On the bookshelf, the golden letters of my testimonial book winked from the black spine. On graduation day, the Norland Institute principal, Miss Simpson—who we fondly called Sim— handed them out from a gleaming stack. The books contained everything we would need for our fledgling careers, from uni¬form materials to blank pages for references. My photograph was pasted in the front, larger than I would have liked; I ap¬peared stern and unsmiling, one hand resting nervously on the table beside me. At the end of my three-month probation, Mrs. Radlett had marked my needlework very good, punctu¬ality excellent, neatness excellent, cleanliness excellent, order excellent, temper excellent, tact with visitors very good, tact with children excellent, tact with servants very good, power of amusing children excellent, power of managing children excel¬lent and general capability excellent. I was awarded my certifi¬cate in the autumn and kept it inside my trunk. Some nurses had sent theirs home for their parents to frame, but I imagined handing it to my mother, could picture her bemusement that there was such a thing as a certificate for caring for children.
I’d finished my roll and begun tidying when there was a light knock at the door. “Come in, Ellen,” I called, moving the miniature globe an inch to the right and setting its equa¬tor. There was no reply.
“Mrs. Radlett!” I straightened at once. She was a young mistress, only a few years older than me at twenty-three or-four, and so gentle and feminine. A wide smile was the nat¬ural shape her mouth took, and pretty gowns and gleaming brooches showed her plump figure and creamy skin to its ad¬vantage. Her hair was the color of toffee cooling on the stove, and she wore it in all the latest styles copied from magazines. My own hair was thin and dark and would not be coaxed to any height. My skin turned brown easily, and since the Nor¬land hat offered no shade, I took care to keep out of the sun.
“Good afternoon, Nurse May,” said Mrs. Radlett. She was good-natured and liked to tease; one of her favorite games was playacting at being grand and proper, though the joke was slightly lost on me. “Would you join me in the parlor when you have a moment?”
“Of course, ma’am, I’ll come now. Miss Georgina’s having her nap.”
I followed her into the house. The downstairs was far re¬moved from my own quiet story, with its own rules and codes and timings, from which I was happily exempt. Nurses were not servants, existing in that tricky place between domestic and family, belonging to neither. Sim warned us it could be a lonely profession: friendless, she had called it. But I’d been friendless most of my life, and found only joy in the busy hours, and peace in the quiet ones. Every morning I took Georgina to the din¬ing room, every evening to the drawing room, where Mr. and Mrs. Radlett devoted an hour to entertaining her before sup¬per. Mr. Radlett played the piano while Mrs. Radlett danced with her daughter, lifting her into the air and guiding her fat feet around the carpet. They were as delighted to see her as if they’d been away a week, and sometimes Georgina sobbed as I carried her back to her nursery, reaching backward for her mama. “Up the wooden hill and down Sheet Lane,” I would murmur as we climbed the stairs, and by the time the nurs¬ery door was closed she had often forgotten her anguish. She sucked her thumb when she was tired, and I always removed it from her sleep-soaked mouth when Mrs. Radlett came to kiss her good-night.
The parlor was at the front of the house, seldom used and stuffy in summer, with the windows fastened to keep out the dust from the street. The blinds were closed against the heat, and the lace curtain hung flat against them. The Radletts’ house was tastefully decorated and filled with antiques; the mistress even had her own library. As a couple they were intel¬lectual and political. They entertained often and friends called frequently at the house, filling it with cigar smoke and leaving sticky rings of sherry on the sideboards, decorating the hat stand with feathers and ribbons, like a strange tree of exotic birds. In the eaves of the building there was little to disturb me, but occasionally Mrs. Radlett asked me to bring Georgina down to kiss and pass around before bed. She always deferred to me, and was politely inquisitive about her daughter’s diet and rou¬tine; there was no doubt whatsoever who was in charge.
“Do sit down,” she said now. I took a seat in a stuffed arm¬chair beside a potted fern.
“I have some thrilling news.” Mrs. Radlett placed a hand on her rounded stomach. She had recently begun to show beneath her waistband, and Ellen had let out her skirts. “I’ve been long¬ing to tell you for weeks, but Mr. Radlett forbade me until it was all agreed and finalized, which it was last night, so now I can share it with you.”
I felt a glimmer of excitement and straightened my apron.

Excerpted from Mrs. England by Stacey Halls, Copyright © 2022 by Stacey Halls. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub @maryanneyarde / #Excerpt : Shake Loose the Border (Thunder on the Moor, Book 3) – Andrea Matthews @AMatthewsAuthor #HistoricalRomance #TimeTravelRomance #ScottishHistoryRomance

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

Shake Loose the Border Tour Banner (1)

Today I’m on the ‘Shake Loose the Border’ 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 :

Andrea Matthews is the pseudonym for Inez Foster, a historian and librarian who loves to read and write and search around for her roots, genealogical speaking. She has a BA in History and an MLS in Library Science, and enjoys the research almost as much as she does writing the story. In fact, many of her ideas come to her while doing casual research or digging into her family history. She is the author of the Thunder on the Moor series set on the 16th century An-glo-Scottish Border, and the Cross of Ciaran series, where a fifteen hundred year old Celt finds himself in the twentieth century. Andrea is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Long Island Romance Writers, and the Historical Novel Society.

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Synopsis :

Book Title: Shake Loose the Border
Series: Thunder on the Moor, Book 3
Author: Andrea Matthews
Publication Date: 22nd November 2021
Publisher: Inez M. Foster
Page Length: 356 Pages
Genre: Historical Time Travel Romance

Andrea Matthews(1)With Will and Maggie’s wedding just a week away, the last thing they need to stumble upon is Johnnie Hetherington’s dead body tied to a tree, especially one that’s so close to their cottage. Recognizing it as a sure sign that Johnnie has betrayed the family once too often, Sergeant Richie Carnaby gathers Will and his family together for questioning, though it seems obvious only a fool would kill a man on his own land. Then who did murder the rogue, and why?
Feeling confident it wasn’t any of the Fosters, Richie allows Will and Maggie’s wedding to proceed, but the couple has barely exchanged vows when the Armstrongs attack in force. Geordie is determined to rescue his niece from the clutches of Will Foster, whether she wants to go or not. And if he happens to make her a widow in the process, so be it. Will senses the danger and implores Dylan to get Maggie away to safety, no matter where — or when — that may be.
Though Maggie protests, Will assures her he will follow as soon as he is able. Yet how can that be possible when Dylan whisks her back to the twentieth century? Sharing her fears about Will, and unable to forget his own love, Annie, Dylan attempts to return to the past one last time despite his growing concerns over the disintegrating amulet stone. But will he make it in time to rescue Will, or will the villainous Ian Rutherford, who has already killed in cold blood once, win the ultimate battle and see Will and Maggie separated forever?
Trigger Warnings: Sex and violence

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Excerpt :

Once more, there was a knock and this time Dennis stepped into the room. “Are ye coming, brother? Auld Geordie’s moving fast. Then again, if I was coming after such a fine lass . . . I’m sorry, mistress, to steal yer husband away on this yer wedding night, but . . .”
“I’ll be there presently,” Will said, and Dennis nodded, leaving the room. “I’ve nae desire to argue with ye, Wife,” Will said as he stood. He held Maggie in front of him and finished hooking the clasp on her cloak. “Now have ye a kiss for yer husband afore he goes off to battle?”
Maggie just stared at him, her eyes filled with tears, until she could contain herself no longer. “Oh, Will, I’m so scared of losing you.”
“Ye’ll no’ lose me, Wife. ’Twill take more than a few Armstrongs to cut me down.”
Maggie took a deep breath to summon her courage. “Oh, you think not, rogue? Well, I know of one who plans to do so all by herself.”
“Do ye, mistress? Then I must prepare a strong defense.” Will grinned broadly as his lips parted to embrace Maggie’s in one long, erotic caress. Then with an obvious reluctance, he pulled away, and the first sign of fear she had ever seen in his eyes crossed their dusky gray surface. “Take yer dagger, Maggie, and if anyone dares touch ye . . . make sure they never see another sunrise, aye.”
Maggie swallowed hard and, with a shaking hand, relieved him of the weapon. She couldn’t imagine killing anyone, and yet she wouldn’t be abused again, nor would she be separated from her husband. Will took her hand and led her to the top floor, where the other women and children had gathered. He checked that she still held her dagger, then looked at her longingly, as if he were never going to see her again.
“I love ye, Maggie Armstrong,” he whispered, and he kissed her lips one last time before hurrying down the stairs.
Maggie’s heart filled with emotion, and she gasped for air. It was as if her very life’s breath had been taken away. Slipping down on the floor, she huddled up against the wall, still clutching the dagger he’d given her. Should Will die, she’d use it on the man who took him. Though she wanted to be by his side, her place was there above, in a way guarding their last bastion of defense. If the Armstrongs broke through, it was where they would all end up, and Maggie knew she would defend it to her dying breath.
Arrows shot back and forth through the early morning sky, the silver-gray tinge of daylight brightening with each passing moment. Maggie shivered in the cool crisp air of the tower, though it was not the chilling dampness of the stone walls that caused her trembling, but the sound of cold hard steel clashing in the yard below. The Armstrongs had somehow breached the barmekin gate and were even now fighting their way toward the tower. She inched her way over to one of the narrow arrow slots and peeked over the ledge to look down at the melee below.
Will and Dylan were fighting back-to-back. Many of the Hetheringtons had been there for the wedding, so she couldn’t tell if more had arrived, but she did spot Tom and Richie Carnaby over by the cottage, getting the best of two scraggly looking scoundrels. Another man came riding through the gate, followed by his kinsman, a Selby, she thought. The fact that he aimed his bill at her cousin Jamie’s heart confirmed her suspicion.
She held her breath as her cousin managed to move aside at the last moment, yanking the Selby man from his horse. Part of her was relieved, for Jamie had always been a decent sort, and yet the fact that he lived only meant another sword aimed at Will’s heart. A sudden wave of nausea overcame her, and it was all she could do to hold it down. At least help was arriving, she told herself as she chanced another peek.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #ZooloosBookTours @ZooloosBT / #Excerpt : Operation George #OperationGeorge – Stephen Bentley @StephenBentley8 @HendryPub

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

Operation George Book Tour Poster

Today I’m on the ‘Operation George’ 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 :

Stephen Bentley Author PhotoStephen Bentley is a former UK police Detective Sergeant, pioneering undercover cop, and barrister. He is now a freelance writer and an occasional contributor to Huffington Post UK on undercover policing and mental health issues.
Stephen also writes crime fiction in a fast-paced plot-driven style including the Steve Regan Undercover Cop Thriller and the Detective Matt Deal Thriller series.

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Synopsis :

Stephen Bentley Author PhotoMeet the real Line of Duty ™ undercover team in this previously untold and gripping story of how a Northern Irish terrorist and murderer and one of his followers, were caught in an audacious and brilliantly executed undercover sting on the English mainland, codenamed, Operation George.
In 2006 at Belfast Crown Court, William James Fulton, a principal in the outlawed Loyalist Volunteer Force, was jailed for life and sentenced to a minimum of 28 years after the longest trial in Northern Ireland’s legal history.
Fulton was an early suspect in the Rosemary Nelson killing. Following the murder of the prominent human rights lawyer, he fled to the United States and, with help from the FBI in collusion with the British police, he was deported. On his arrival at Heathrow, Fulton ‘walked through an open door,’ a Lewis Carrol-like euphemism for an invitation created by the covert team, only to disappear ‘down the rabbit hole’ on accepting the invitation.
That ‘rabbit hole’ led to an alternative world: an environment created and controlled by the elite covert team and only inhabited by the undercover officers and their targets. The subterfuge encouraged the terrorist targets into believing Fulton was working for a Plymouth-based ‘criminal firm’ over a period spanning almost two years. In that time, over fifty thousand hours of conversations between the ‘firm’ members were secretly recorded and used to bring the killer to justice.
This unique story is told by former undercover officer Mark Dickens who was part of an elite team of undercover detectives who took part in ‘Operation George,’ one of the most remarkable covert policing operations the world has ever known. You won’t know him under that name nor the many aliases he adopted as an undercover police officer infiltrating organised crime gangs.
Together in ‘Operation George,’ with pioneering Operation Julie undercover officer and bestselling author, Stephen Bentley, they have written a gripping account of a unique story reminiscent of the premise of ‘The Sting’ film, and the ‘Bloodlands’ setting, combining a true-crime page-turner with a fascinating insight into early 21st-century covert policing.
The publisher wishes to make clear by using the Line of Duty™, there is no implied association with the Line of Duty series nor World Productions Ltd and the trademark is attributed to World Productions Ltd.
‘Operation George’ is brilliant! It’s a unique insight into the undercover world, the ingenious tactics, the outwardly serene UCOs and the fastidious adherence to rules and training are nothing like I’ve ever read before.
Devoting the majority of the second half of the book to the trial was inspired. It’s all very well for readers to have that amazing peek into the undercover world (and the way the team created a totally illusionary one for Fulton at huge potential risk to themselves given his background and connections) but to show how the evidence obtained stands or falls in court does the whole tactic justice.’ – Graham Bartlett, former UK senior police officer and co-author with international best seller, Peter James, of a Sunday Times Top Ten bestselling non-fiction book, Death Comes KnockingPolicing Roy Grace’s Brighton.

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Excerpt :

CHAPTER 15
Slough

“I need you to do a bit of work with Robbie for a few days. You okay with that, Jimmy?’ Neil asked.
“I’m yer man,” Jimmy replied, all too keen to impress Neil, and he was now on the payroll of the Plymouth gang.
“Okay then. Meet him at the Port O’ Call at eight tomorrow morning,” Neil instructed.
Plymouth’s Port O’ Call café was near to the Hoe and a regular meeting spot for Jimmy and the UCOs. It served what some call a ‘big boys’ or ‘fat boys’ breakfast. Others call that huge cholesterol laden English breakfast by other names, one of which is amusing and often used in Sheffield – ‘the full train smash.’ Over breakfast, Robbie said, “Right, we’re going to have a drive up to Slough. There’re loads of industrial estates there and we need to have a mooch around and check out a trailer worth nicking. I’m told there is, but I need to see with my own eyes.”
“Right yer are, Robbie,” Jimmy said, delighted to be placed in a position of trust within the firm.
It was mission accomplished in that Robbie and Jimmy would be spending five hours or more together in the confines of a car wired for sound, as was Robbie. The people who’d listen to those tapes were located many miles from Plymouth and buried away in a police headquarters back office. They would listen after the event and make notes before passing the tapes on to the transcribers. Those transcripts were typed documents and, in the future, would be used as evidential material in the case against Fulton and Gibson.
In one revealing moment during that recording, Jimmy laughed about when he’d invite people round to tea. He went on to explain that in his world back in Northern Ireland getting invited around for your tea means you’re going to get punished – a shooting or kneecapping. He did so with a laugh and a smile in his eyes. Robbie stayed calm… and silent. Fulton went on to demonstrate to Robbie how he’d kneecap somebody. If it were somebody he liked, he’d put it through the fleshy bit of the thigh, close to the knee. If it were somebody that he didn’t like and deserved the worst he could possibly get, he’d put the bullet through his kneecap and cripple them for life. All through this, Fulton laughed and joked and suddenly switched to how he had grown up in Belfast. Robbie gained the impression Fulton wasn’t a soldier. He wouldn’t have gone gun to gun – mano a mano. But Robbie remained silent, keeping his innermost thoughts private.
With every recording it felt like they were getting closer to snaring Jimmy Fulton, but he still hadn’t mentioned the Rosemary Nelson murder. After some consultation the team decided to up the stakes. In three weeks they would stage a lorry theft. By upping the stakes like that, they could convince Jimmy how serious they were. The question remained: would he finally give them what they needed, or would everything unravel before they got their man?

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #RachelsRandomResources @rararesources / #Excerpt : The Lake Templeton Murders – HS Burney @hsburneyauthor

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

The Lake Templeton Murders

Today I’m on the ‘The Lake Templeton Murders’ 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 :

The Lake Author IMG_4764HS Burney writes fast-moving, action-packed mysteries set against the backdrop of majestic mountains and crystalline ocean in West Coast Canada. She loves creating characters that keep you on your toes. A corporate executive by day and a novelist by night, HS Burney received her Bachelors’ in Creative Writing from Lafayette College. A proud Canadian immigrant, she takes her readers into worlds populated by diverse characters with unique cultural backgrounds. When not writing, she is out hiking, waiting for the next story idea to strike, and pull her into a new world.

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Synopsis :

The Lake Templeton CoverA body washes up on the shores of Lake Templeton, a small town on the coast of Vancouver Island. Sharon Reese, the victim, was a dedicated government employee. Everyone liked her, but no one knew much about her. Was she hiding something? Maybe a questionable past riddled with scandal. And did it lead to her plunge to death, in a drunken stupor, off the dock outside her secluded lakefront lodge?
Was it an accident? A suicide? Or cold-blooded murder? Private Investigator, Fati Rizvi, is determined to find out.
Fati arrives in Lake Templeton to find secrets that run as deep as the City’s sewers. Everyone is hiding something and nothing is as it seems. A cult escapee. A corrupt politician. A struggling airline. A multi-million dollar public-private project to revitalize the Lake Templeton waterfront. How are they all connected?
As Fati valiantly unravels the knots, another body is found on the shore. Is it the same killer? And can Fati stop them before they strike again?

Purchase Links:
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Excerpt :

Our murder victim, Sharon Reese, has a complicated and mysterious history. In this scene, Private Investigator, Fati Rizvi, starts to uncover it. It opens up a whole new world into Sharon’s character and Fati starts to better understand who she was as a person.

Sharon’s story is gripping. Her mother abandoned her shortly after they arrived at the remote commune in the Haida Gwaii Queen Charlotte Islands. She relinquished her daughter’s hand without hesitation, as if under a trance. A confused Sharon was shuffled screaming and wailing into a wooden cage where she was kept for two weeks. Twice a day, a stone-faced woman would push a leaky gruel through a trapdoor, ignoring Sharon’s dirty fingers that tried to grab at her ankles. This was Sharon’s initiation. She was seven years old.
On the ninth day of her confinement, Sharon stopped crying. She drew inwards. At the two week mark, they took her out of the cage, washed her down with cold water, and gave her clean clothes. She was cleansed. Now, she was worthy.
Sharon joined a community of zombies, paralyzed by ideological rigidity. Haunted souls searching for something elusive. They wore simple clothing and grew their own food. No one talked about where they came from. They were there to be reborn.
The cult leader, Jefferson Wall, lived with them like a God among men. When he entered a room, everyone froze in rapt attention. His words were napalm, soothing and irresistible. Several hours every day were spent in prayer, meditating on the leader’s sermons. As per the usual cult formula, he had his pick of girls of all ages at the commune.
Alcohol abuse was rampant. They drank moonshine they brewed themselves. Girls as young as eleven were force-fed the brew to dull their senses on nights they had to copulate with the leader. Being drunk was the only way to survive this life. But Sharon never partook, not even once. And no one pushed her.
Sharon escaped the fate of the other young women at the cult. She was never raped by the leader. Instead, she became his sidekick. He took a keen interest in her – groomed her like a daughter. Sometimes slipped her chocolates and let her read the news, which only he had access to.
Maybe it was because she was stronger than the others. The two weeks at the cage affected her differently. She didn’t shrink into a sniveling mess. She lengthened, strengthened, and endured. She walked out with her eyes dry and her head held high. At seven years old.
Sharon said she was not privy to the mass suicide plan. I am skeptical. She was the only one at the commune that Jefferson Wall took into his confidence. Why would he have kept this from her?
Sharon said that the poison in her drink was diluted, not as potent as what others took. Maybe Jefferson Wall wanted her to continue his quest, to build a new flock, to carry on his legacy.

Giveaway :

Win $10 Amazon Gift Card. (Open INT)
*Terms and Conditions – Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #HarlequinTradePublishingBlogTour @htp_books / #Excerpt : Crimson Summer #CrimsonSummer – Heather Graham @heathergraham @MIRAEditors @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 ‘Crimson Summer’ 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 Graham 2020 credit Marti CornNew York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Heather Graham has written more than a hundred novels. She’s a winner of the RWA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Thriller Writers’ Silver Bullet. She is an active member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America. For more information, check out her website, TheOriginalHeatherGraham.com, or find Heather on Facebook.

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Synopsis :

Title: Crimson Summer
Author: Heather Graham
ISBN: 9780778311829
Publication Date: April 5, 2022
Publisher: MIRA Books

Heather Graham 2020 credit Marti CornFrom New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham, suspense following agents from the FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement as they investigate a series of murders linked to conspiracy theorists and doomsday cults.
Just when FDLE agent Amy Larson thought she’d wrapped up her most chilling case, she was delivered a red toy horse–a not-so-subtle taunt from a Doomsday cult that she and FBI agent Hunter Forrest hoped they’d taken down. A apparent turf war in Seminole territory in North Florida is the scene of a bloody massacre, and the blame seems to lie with drug cartels out of South America. The trail will take the pair on a cross-country hunt, and deep into a world of conspiracy theories, greed and privilege, where a powerful, hidden group is trying to create civil unrest through violence.

Buy Links:

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Powell’s

Excerpt :

Prologue

The sun was out, inching its way up in the sky, casting golden rays and creating a beautiful display of color over the shading mangroves and cypress growing richly in the area. The sunlight touched on the streams running throughout the Everglades, the great “River of Grass” stretching over two hundred acres in southern and central portions of Florida, creating a glittering glow of nature.
The sky was gold and red at the horizon, and brilliantly blue above, with only a few soft puffs of clouds littered about. Diamonds and crystals seemed to float on the water.
Such beauty. Such peace.
Then there was the crime scene.
The bodies lay strewn and drenched with blood. The rich, natural earth hues of the Everglades were caught in a surreal image, greens and browns spattered liberally with the color red as if an angry child had swung a sopping paint-brush around.
Aidan Cypress had never understood why the mocking-bird had been made Florida’s state bird—not when it seemed that vultures ruled the skies overhead. Never more so than today.
Now, as he stood overlooking the scene with his crew and special agents from the FDLE, trying to control the crime scene against the circling vultures, Aidan couldn’t help but wonder just what had happened and why it had happened this way—and grit his teeth knowing there would be speculation.
Stooping down by the body of a man Aidan believed to be in his midthirties—with dark hair, olive complexion, possibly six feet in height, medium build—he noted the shaft of an arrow protruding from the man’s gut.
All the dead had been killed with arrows, hatchets, axes and knives. Because whoever had done this had apparently tried to make it look like a historical Native American rampage.
Except the killers hadn’t begun to understand there were differences in the weaponry and customs between the nations and tribes of the indigenous peoples across the country.
In South Florida, the dead man’s coloring could mean many things; Aidan himself was a member of the Seminole tribe of Florida, though somewhere in his lineage, some-one had been white—most probably from northern Europe originally. He had a bronze complexion, thick, straight hair that was almost ebony…and green eyes.
South Florida was home to those who had come from Cuba, Central and South America and probably every island out there. The area was truly a giant melting pot. That’s how his family had begun. In a way, history had created the Seminole tribe because there had been a time when settlers had called any indigenous person in Florida a Seminole.
But while the killers had tried to make this look like a massacre of old, the dead men were not Seminole. They were, Aidan believed, Latino. He could see tattoos on the lower arms of a few of the dead who had been wearing T-shirts; a single word was visible in the artwork on the man in front of him—Hermandad.
Spanish for “Brotherhood.”
“What the hell happened here, Aidan?”
Aidan looked up to see that John Schultz—Special Agent John Schultz, Florida Department of Law Enforcement—was standing by his side.
John went on. “It’s like a scene out of an old cowboys and Indians movie!”
Aidan stared at John as he rose, bristling—and yet he knew what it looked like at first glance.
“Quaking aspen,” Aidan said.
“Quaking aspen?” John repeated blankly.
“It’s not native to this area. Look at the arrow. That wasn’t made by any Seminole, Miccosukee or other Florida Native American. That is a western wood.”
“Yeah, well, things travel these days.”
Aidan shook his head. He liked John and respected him. The older agent was experienced, a few years shy of retirement. The tall, gray-haired man had recently suffered a heart attack, had taken the prescribed time off and come back to the field. They’d worked together dozens of times before. He could be abrasive—he had a sometimes-unhappy tendency to say what he thought, before thinking it through.
A few years back John had been partnered with a young woman named Amy Larson. It had taken John a long time to accept her age—and the fact she was female. Once he’d realized her value, though, he’d become her strongest supporter.
But Amy wasn’t here today.
And Aidan missed her. She softened John’s rough edges.
She was still on holiday somewhere with Hunter Forrest, the FBI agent she’d started dating. They were off on an island enjoying exotic breezes and one another’s company minus all the blood and mayhem.
Aidan stopped lamenting the absence of his favorite FDLE agent and waved away a giant vulture trying to hone in on a nearby body.
Half of the corpses were already missing eyes and bits and pieces of skin and soft tissue.
Aidan sighed and looked around. There were twenty bodies, all of them male, between the ages of twenty and forty, he estimated.
Because he’d noted the tattoos on a few of them, and using his own years of experience, he theorized the dead were members of a gang. Florida had many such gangs. Most were recruits from the various drug cartels, resolved to hold dominion over their territories.
He looked at John, trying to be patient, understanding and professional enough to control his temper. “You know, you may be the special agent, but I’m the forensics expert, and this was not something perpetrated by any of the Florida tribes—or any tribe anywhere. I can guarantee you no one sent out a war party to slaughter some gang members. Someone tried—ridiculously—to make this look like some Natives did this.”
“Hey, sorry, you’re right. Forgive me—just…look around!” John said quickly and sincerely. “It’s just at first sight…well, I mean—wow. You’re right. I’m sorry.”
The apology was earnest. “Okay. Let’s figure out what really happened.”
The corpses were in something of a clearing right by a natural stream making its way through hammocks thick with cypress trees and mangroves and all kinds of underbrush.
While the area was customarily filled with many birds—herons, cranes, falcons, hawks and more—it was the vultures who had staked out a claim. The bodies lay with arrows and axes protruding from their heads, guts or chests, as if they’d fought in a bloody battle. And now they succumbed to decay on the damp and redolent earth.
John followed Aidan’s gaze and winced. “It’s a mess. Okay, well…all right. I’m going to go over and interview the man who found this.”
“Jimmy Osceola,” Aidan said. “He’s been fishing this little area all his life, and he does tours. Two birds with one stone. Members of his family work with him and all of them fish and take tourists out here. He has a great little place right off I-75. It’s called Fresh Catch, and his catch is about as fresh as it gets. Catfish. He’s a good guy, John.”
“I believe you. But we’re going to need a break here—you and your team have to find something for me to go on.”
Aidan stared at him, gloved hands unclenching at his sides. John was rough around the edges and said whatever came to mind, but he was a good cop.
He’d be hell-bent on finding out just what had gone on here.
Aidan told him what he’d heard. “Jimmy was out with a boatload of tourists—they’re right over there. See—two couples, a kid who just started at FIU and two middle-aged women. The first officers on the scene made sure they all stayed. Go talk to them. They look like they came upon a bloodbath—oh, wait, they did.”
John arched a brow to him and said, “Yeah. I got it.”
He headed off to talk to Jimmy Osceola and the group with him.
Aidan studied the crime scene again, as a whole.
First, what the hell had all these men been doing out here? A few of them looked to have been wearing suits; most were in T-shirts and jeans.
The few bodies he had noted—not touching any of them, that was the medical examiner’s purview—seemed to bear that same tattoo. Hermandad.
That meant a gang of enforcers in his mind, and he was sure it was a good guess.
Had a big drug deal been planned?
They were on state land, but it was state land traveled only by the local tribes who knew it. The park service rangers also came through, and the occasional tourist who arranged for a special excursion into the wilds.
Bird-watchers, often enough.
All they’d see today, however, would be the vultures.
“Aidan.”
He heard his name spoken by a quiet female voice and he swung around.
Amy Larson was not enjoying an exotic island vacation.
She was standing just feet from him, having carefully avoided stepping on any of the bodies, pools of blood or possible evidence. She was in a navy pantsuit, white cotton shirt and serviceable black sneakers—obviously back to work.
No matter how all-business her wardrobe, Amy had blue-crystal eyes that displayed empathy and caring. She was great at both assuring witnesses and staring down suspects.
“What are you doing here, Amy?” Aidan asked her. “You’re supposed to be sunbathing somewhere, playing in the surf with Hunter.”
“I was.”
“So what happened?”
“It was great. Champagne, chocolates, sun, surf, sand…” She sighed.
“And?”
“And a little red horse—like the one from last month’s crime scene—delivered right to the room,” she said.

Excerpted from Crimson Summer by Heather Graham, Copyright © 2022 by Heather Graham Pozzessere. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #RandomThingsTours @RandomTTours / #Excerpt : Date With Betrayal #DateWithBetrayal – Julia Chapman @DalesWriter @panmacmillan

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

Date With Betrayal BT Poster

Today I’m on the ‘Date With Betrayal’ blogtour, organized by Random Things Tours.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Julia Chapman Author picJulia Chapman is the pseudonym of Julia Stagg, who has had five novels, the Fogas Chronicles set in the French Pyrenees, published by Hodder. She is also
the author of the Dales Detective series which follows the adventures of Samson O’Brien and Delilah Metcalfe as they solve cases in the Yorkshire Dales.
Born with a wanderlust that keeps her moving, Julia has followed her restless feet to Japan, Australia, the USA and France. She spent the majority of that time as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language but also dabbled in bookselling, pawnbroking, waitressing and was once ‘checkout chick of the month’ at a supermarket in South Australia. She also ran an auberge in the French Pyrenees for six years with her husband.
Having spent many years wandering, she is now glad to call the Yorkshire Dales home. Its distinctive landscape and way of life provide the setting for her latest set of novels, the Dales Detective series.

Synopsis :

Date With Betrayal CoverIn the seventh novel in Julia Chapman’s Dales Detective series, Date with Betrayal, betrayal is rife in the idyllic Yorkshire Dales as Samson O’Brien, owner of the Dales Detective Agency, is targeted by a hitman. Can Bruncliffe save him? A brilliantly engaging and witty mystery, perfect for fans of Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club and M. C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series.
Death is coming to Bruncliffe: its target is Samson O’Brien.
Oblivious to his impending date with fate, Samson is busy juggling a number of cases at the Dales Detective Agency. Too busy, in fact, to notice his partner behaving oddly.
Because Delilah Metcalfe knows what is coming. A hitman. Sent from London with one objective: to finally silence the troublesome O’Brien before his corruption case can make it to court.
With Samson’s life in peril, and betrayal around every corner, Delilah has no choice but to call in favours from all of her Bruncliffe connections in order to counteract the menace threatening to engulf the Dales town.
The only trouble is the townsfolk have long memories and deep grievances when it comes to Samson O’Brien. Trust must be earned and they will take some convincing before they put themselves in danger in order to save him.
And even then, it might not prove enough …
Full of charm, wit and characters that will capture your heart, the series begins with Date With Death. Have you read them all?

Date Graphic 1

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Date Graphic 2

Date Graphic 4

Excerpt :

Two Days Before …
They ambushed her in the ginnel on her way back to the office. With the evening throwing the narrow alleyway into gloom and the large mass of the limestone outcrop overhead adding to the shadows, she didn’t see it coming. One minute she was walking towards someone she knew. The next, two strong arms were grabbing her from behind, the Chinese meal and bottle of wine she’d been carrying knocked to the ground, glass smashing. She tried to scream, but a large hand was covering her mouth. So she kicked instead, backwards, the satisfaction of feeling her heels connect with solid shins, a rough grunt of pain her reward.
Useless though.
Those same strong arms lifted her off her feet and bundled her to the end of the ginnel, towards a waiting car. She had a glimpse of sleek black lines, a BMW, and then she was sprawled on the back seat, face pushed into leather, aware of the roar of the engine as the vehicle sped away. Aware of the panicked thumping of her heart.
She’d been warned that there was trouble coming. Warned not to trust anyone. But she’d mocked those attempts to protect her. And now she’d been abducted.
Alongside the fear, she felt an overwhelming sense of shame. She’d been an idiot for not listening.
Forcing her terrified mind onto more practical matters, she noted the car had started climbing, the incline steep enough to roll her body against the back of the seat, her head kept face down by a heavy hand. She lay there, twisted uncomfortably, counting off the seconds, doing her best to track time. Approximately three minutes later they turned right, onto more level terrain, a track of some sort, the BMW jolting along it for twenty seconds before stop- ping. A blindfold was pulled over her eyes and she was hauled out into the evening air.
But only an offcumden born beyond the stone walls of the Dales could think a piece of cloth was enough to befuddle this local. With a strong wind on her cheeks, bringing with it the spring scent of grass and sheep, she was calculating the route they’d taken, the geography of her home town unique enough to give her a fair idea of where she was—
A loud screech and frantic flapping of wings at close quarters made her captor jump, his grip on her arm tightening.
‘Bloody countryside,’ he muttered against the clatter of birds taking to the air.
Pheasants. A large number of them judging by the noise, startled into clumsy flight and further confirming her hunch. She was somewhere on the high fells to the east of town. Not far from the large estate where the birds were bred for sport. And close to Ellershaw Farm.
Her parents, her oldest brother and his family – they’d be sitting down for their tea in the farmhouse kitchen. If she screamed, would they hear?

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub @maryanneyarde / #Excerpt : Under the Weeping Willow (Sheltering Trees, Book Two) #ShelteringTreesSeries – Jenny Knipfer @JennyKnipfer #HistoricalFiction #ChristianHistoricalFiction #WomensFiction

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

Under the Weeping Willow Tour Banner

Today I’m on the ‘Under the Weeping Willow’ 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 :

Jenny KnipferJenny lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Ken, and their pet Yorkie, Ruby. She is also a mom and loves being a grandma. She enjoys many creative pursuits but finds writing the most fulfilling.
Spending many years as a librarian in a local public library, Jenny recently switched to using her skills as a floral designer in a retail flower shop. She is now retired from work due to disability. Her education background stems from psychology, music, and cultural missions.
All of Jenny’s books have earned five-star reviews from Readers’ Favorite, a book review and award contest company. She holds membership in the: Midwest Independent Booksellers Association, Wisconsin Writers Association, Christian Indie Publishing Association, and Independent Book Publishers Association.
Jenny’s favorite place to relax is by the western shore of Lake Superior, where her novel series, By The Light of the Moon, is set.
She deems a cup of tea and a good book an essential part of every day. When not writing, Jenny can be found reading, tending to her many houseplants, or piecing quilt blocks at her sewing machine.
Her new historical fiction, four-part series entitled, Sheltering Trees, is set in the area Jenny grew up in, where she currently lives, and places along Minnesota’s Northern Shore, where she loves to visit. She is currently writing a four-part novella series entitled: Botanical Seasons.
Keep current with Jenny by visiting her website. Ways to connect with Jenny via social media, newsletter, and various book sites can be found there.

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Synopsis :

Book Title: Under the Weeping Willow
Series: Sheltering Trees, Book Two
Author: Jenny Knipfer
Publication Date: 21st October 2021
Publisher: Jenny Knipfer—Author
Page Length: 346 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Christian Historical Fiction, Split Timeline Fiction

Under the Weeping Willow Cover

A HISTORICAL NOVEL ABOUT A MOTHER AND DAUGHTER AND THE SECRET SHAPING THEIR ROCKY RELATIONSHIP

1918:
Just as Robin Holcomb settles into married life with her husband, Willis, on his aunt and uncle’s farm in Wisconsin, WWI calls Willis away. With an unknown future and a child on the way, Robin makes the best of life among people she barely knows.
After the birth of her child, Robin struggles with depression and battles to overcome her inner demons before despair and hopelessness drive her to attempt to take her own life. Will Robin survive her dive into postpartum depression, let alone see Willis again?
1983:
Enid Fenton clears out her Mother’s house and puts the family farm up for sale, trying to not be consumed by guilt for installing her mother into the county nursing home.
Reading through some of her mother’s diary entries, Enid uncovers a secret that helps her make sense of the unnamed point of division that has always soured their relationship.
Can Enid reconcile with her mother before the ravages of Alzheimer’s claim her?
Readers of historical fiction, Christian historical fiction, literary fiction, and women’s fiction will be moved as this novel takes them from the depths of a person’s psyche and grief to the pinnacle of long-hoped-for peace.

Trigger Warnings: Postpartum depression, attempted suicide, Alzheimer’s

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Excerpt :

But is it my goal to get her to remember? If so, I’m fooling myself. That’s a losing battle, at least from what Mom’s doctor told me. On our last visit, Doctor Chang told me Mom’s memory would slowly decline until practically nothing remained, if she lived that long.
Why does she have to slowly lose herself until there’s nothing left? What cruel twist of fate handed Mom this? I imagine a large emery file in her brain, slowly grating away at her memories.
The words of Mom’s written prayer in ’77 come back to me,
“Whatever unknown path is ahead, I pray that you will walk it with me.”

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #RachelsRandomResources @rararesources / #Excerpt : The Girl in the Van – Helen Matthews @HelenMK7 @darkstrokedark

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

The Girl in the Van

Today I’m on the ‘The Girl in the Van’ 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 :

GEwlS83sHelen Matthews writes page-turning psychological suspense novels and is fascinated by the darker side of human nature and how a life can change in an instant. Her first novel, suspense thriller After Leaving the Village, won first prize in the opening pages category at Winchester Writers’ Festival, and was followed by Lies Behind the Ruin, domestic noir set in France, published by Hashtag Press. Her third novel Façade will be published by Darkstroke in September 2020.
Born in Cardiff, Helen read English at the University of Liverpool and worked in international development, consultancy, human resources and pensions management. She fled corporate life to work freelance while studying for a Creative Writing MA at Oxford Brookes University. Her stories and flash fiction have been shortlisted and published by Flash 500, 1000K Story, Reflex Press, Artificium and Love Sunday magazine.
She is a keen cyclist, covering long distances if there aren’t any hills, sings in a choir and once appeared on stage at Carnegie Hall, New York in a multi-choir performance. She loves spending time in France. Helen is an Ambassador for the charity, Unseen, which works towards a world without slavery and donates her author talk fees, and a percentage of royalties, to the charity.

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Synopsis :

The Girl in the Van coverA tormented mother. An abandoned girl. A deadly game of survival.
What happened to Ellie?
Traumatised by events, Ellie’s mother, Laura, can’t bear to stay in the Welsh seaside town where she lives with her partner, Gareth. She escapes to London, breaking all ties with him, and refusing to tell anyone her new address.
After two years of living alone and working in a mundane job, Laura buys an old campervan and joins a singles holiday. Here, she meets Miriana, a teenage girl who bears a chilling resemblance to Ellie. As Laura uncovers Miriana’s story, she’s shocked by the parallels to her own life.
But stories can be dangerous, and someone out there will stop at nothing to prevent the truth about Ellie from coming out…

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Excerpt :

This extract is from the end of Chapter One. The main character, Laura, a former teacher, left her home and partner after a devastating event involving their teenage daughter, Ellie. She’s lived a solitary life for two years but recently made a tentative try at interacting with other people, buying a secondhand campervan and joining a group holiday on a campsite in Wales. The passage begins as Laura leaves the campsite to drive back to London.

I restart my engine and swivel round for one final check on my living quarters. The bed fills the whole space. I’ve left it assembled and covered with cushions, but my backpack has burst open, spewing out clothes and shoes in haphazard heaps so it looks a bit like Tracey Emin’s Unmade Bed artwork. I notice a lump in the duvet – odd; I don’t remember stuffing pillows underneath.
A car beeps its horn. Dave, the campsite manager, raises the barrier, holds it aloft and motions me out. Cars rev their engines, and it’s hard to edge past along the narrow country lane. I glance in my mirror. That bump under the duvet is rippling gently, out of step with the motion of the van. It must be an illusion. Like that fleeting sense of movement you get when you’re staring out of the window of a stationary train and the one on the next platform pulls out. All the same it’s unsettling, but I can’t stop to check because the winding road has deep gulleys, hewn from rock, running along both sides and there are no passing places. I need my eyes on the road and hands clamped onto the steering wheel.
Seeing that bump has spooked me. What if one of the kids from the campsite climbed into my campervan while I was packing up and getting rid of my rubbish? Perhaps they were playing Hide and Seek. The last thing I need is to turn around and drive back to reunite a missing child with their angry parents. But if it is a child, wouldn’t they have realised we’re on the move and crawled out of their hiding place?
“Who’s there?” I ask in a hoarse whisper, glancing in my rear-view mirror.
Silence, apart from the thudding of my heart. Perhaps they’re scared.
“You can come out. I won’t be cross.”
No reply.
I’m itching to check, but tall beech trees leaning across to embrace their neighbours on the opposite side of the road form a dense tunnel and block out light. The road is empty.
I grit my teeth. I won’t panic. I’ll find somewhere to stop and sort this out.
At last a sign for a picnic area comes into view and I reach a clearing in the trees, with wooden tables dotted around on scrubby grass. A Land Rover is parked in the layby, but no sign of a driver. I ease my van to a halt, wrench on the heavy handbrake, unfasten my seat belt and clamber through the gap next to the driver’s seat into my living quarters.
“Whoever you are, get out now.” I shove pillows and cushions aside to reveal a mound under the covers. My hand is trembling, and I can’t bring myself to touch it. What if it’s an injured animal? A horrific image of the decapitated horse’s head under the bedclothes in The Godfather slips into my mind. Breathing rapidly, I grasp the duvet in both hands and tug. It seems to be tucked in or weighted down. As I slide my hand down the side of the mattress to free it, a skinny arm thrusts out from under the heap of covers.
I freeze. “What the heck!”
The arm is wearing a friendship bracelet and holding up a note as if it’s a white flag. Shock forces me to lean in and squint at the scrawled words: Help me. Don’t tell anyone.
A laugh that’s part-hysteria, part-terror catches in my throat as I yank back the duvet and uncover a girl with tangled dark-blonde hair and a nasty gash on one side of her face. She cowers away from me, covering her face with her hands.
“Sit up,” I demand, grabbing her arm. She’s a teenager, not a small child, and she’s wearing a white t-shirt with a faded photo of a band I don’t recognise. “What the hell are you playing at?”
The girl levers herself into a sitting position, keeping her face curtained by her long hair.
“Look at me,” I say, clamping my hand on her shoulder and turning her to face me.
She straightens her spine, rocks forward and flicks her hair back behind her shoulders so I have my first proper look at her face.
I gasp.
It’s her! Ellie.
For the briefest of moments, I allow myself to believe it.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds