#BlogTour #HarlequinTradePublishingBlogTour @htp_books / #Excerpt : The German Wife #TheGermanWife – Kelly Rimmer @KelRimmerWrites @GraydonHouse @HarperCollins

– ‘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 German Wife’ 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 :

author photo_KellyRimmer_credit Bree Bain PhotographyKelly Rimmer is the worldwide, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Before I Let You Go, The Things We Cannot Say, and Truths I Never Told You. She lives in rural Australia with her husband, two children and fantastically naughty dogs, Sully and Basil. Her novels have been translated into more than twenty languages.

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Synopsis :

author photo_KellyRimmer_credit Bree Bain PhotographyThe enmity between two women from opposing sides of the war culminates in a shocking event as anti-German sentiment sweeps America, when the aristocratic wife of a German scientist must face the social isolation, hostility and violence leveled against her and her family when they’re forced to relocate to Alabama in the aftermath of WWII. For fans of Beatriz Wiliams, Pam Jenoff, and Kristin Harmel.
Berlin, 1934—Ilse Meyer is the aristocratic wife of a scientist whose post-WWI fortunes change for the better when her husband, Jurgen, is recruited for Hitler’s new rocket program. Although Ilse and Jurgen do not share the popular political views rising in Germany, Jurgen’s new job forces them to consider what they must sacrifice morally for their financial security. But too late they realize the Nazi’s plans to weaponize Jurgen’s technology as they begin to wage war against the rest of Europe.
Huntsville, Alabama, 1949—Jurgen is one of hundreds of Nazi scientists offered pardons and taken to the US to work for the CIA’s fledgling space program. Ilse, now the mother of four, misses Germany terribly and struggles to fit in among the other NASA wives, who look upon her with suspicion. In a moment of loneliness, she confesses to a neighbor, Rachel Carlson, about Jurgen’s membership in the SS and her resentment for being forced to live in a country that will always see her as the enemy. What she doesn’t know is that she has trusted the wrong neighbor.
When the scandalous news about the Meyer family’s affiliation with the Nazi party spreads, idle gossip turns to bitter rage, and the act of violence that results will tear apart a community and a family before the truth is finally revealed—but is it murder, revenge or justice?

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Excerpt :

1
Sofie
Huntsville, Alabama 1950


“WAKE UP, GISELA,” I MURMURED, GENTLY SHAKING my daughter awake. “It’s time to see Papa.”
After the better part of a day on a stuffy, hot bus, I was so tired my eyes were burning, my skin gritty with dried sweat from head to toe. I had one sleeping child on my lap and the other leaning into me as she sprawled across the seat. After three long weeks of boats and trains and buses, my long journey from Berlin to Alabama was finally at an end.
My youngest daughter had always been smaller than her peers, her body round and soft, with a head of auburn hair like mine, and my husband’s bright blue eyes. Over the last few months, a sudden growth spurt transformed her. She was now taller than me. The childhood softness had stretched right out of her, leaving her rail thin and lanky.
Gisela stirred, then slowly pushed herself to a sitting position. Her eyes scanned along the aisle of the bus as if she were reorienting herself. Finally, cautiously, she turned to look out the window.
“Mama. It really doesn’t look like much…”
We were driving down a wide main street lined with small stores and restaurants. So far, Huntsville looked about as I’d expected it would—neat, tidy…segregated.
Minnie’s Salon. Whites Only.
Seamstress for Colored.
Ada’s Café. The Best Pancakes in Town. Whites ONLY!
When I decided to make the journey to join my husband in America, segregation was one of a million worries I consciously put off for later. Now, faced with the stark reality of it, I dreaded the discussions I’d be having with my children once we had enough rest for productive conversation. They needed to understand exactly why those signs sent ice through my veins.
“Papa did tell us that this is a small town, remember?” I said gently. “There are only fifteen thousand people in Huntsville and it will be very different from Berlin, but we can build a good life here. And most importantly, we’ll be together again.”
“Not all of us,” Gisela muttered.
“No, not all of us,” I conceded quietly. Loss was like a shadow to me. Every now and again, I’d get distracted and I’d forget it was there. Then I’d turn around and feel the shock of it all over again. It was the same for my children, especially for Gisela. Every year of her life had been impacted by the horrors of war, or by grief and change.
I couldn’t dwell on that—not now. I was about to see my husband for the first time in almost five years and I was every bit as anxious as I was excited. I had second-guessed my decision to join him in the United States a million or more times since I shepherded the children onto that first bus in Berlin, bound for the port in Hamburg where we boarded the cross-Atlantic steamship.
I looked down at my son. Felix woke when I shook his sister, but was still sitting on my lap, pale and silent. He had a head of sandy curls and his father’s curious mind. Until now, they’d never been on the same continent.
The first thing I noticed was that Jürgen looked different. It was almost summer and warm out, but he was wearing a light blue suit with a white shirt and a dark blue bow tie. Back home, he never wore a suit that color and he never would have opted for a bow tie. And instead of his customary silver-framed glasses, he was wearing a pair with thick black plastic frames. They were modern and suited him. Of course he had new glasses—five years had passed. Why was I so bothered by those frames?
I couldn’t blame him if he reinvented himself, but what if this new version of Jürgen didn’t love me, or was someone I couldn’t continue to love?
He took a step forward as we shuffled off the bus but didn’t even manage a second before Gisela ran to him and threw her arms around his neck.
“Treasure,” he said, voice thick with emotion. “You’ve grown up so much.”
There was a faint but noticeable American twang in his German words, which was as jarring as the new glasses.
Jürgen’s gaze settled on Felix, who was holding my hand with a grip so tight my fingers throbbed. I felt anxious for both children but I was scared for Felix. We’d moved halfway across the world to a country I feared would be wary of us at best, maybe even hostile toward us. For Gisela and me, a reunion with Jürgen was enough reason to take that risk. But Felix was nervous around strangers at the best of times, and he knew his father only through anecdotes and photographs.
“Felix,” Jürgen said, keeping one arm around Gisela as he started to walk toward us. I could see that he was trying to remain composed, but his eyes shone. “Son…”
Felix gave a whimper of alarm and hid behind my legs.
“Give him time,” I said quietly, reaching behind myself to touch Felix’s hair. “He’s tired and this is a lot to take in.”
“He looks just like—” Jürgen’s voice broke. I knew the struggle well. It hurt to name our grief, but it was important to do so anyway. Our son Georg should have been twenty years old, living out the best days of his life. Instead, he was another casualty of a war that the world would never make sense of. But I came to realize that Georg would always be a part of our family, and every time I found the strength to speak his name, he was brought to life, at least in my memories.
“I know,” I said. “Felix looks just like Georg.” It was fitting that I’d chosen Georg for Felix’s middle name, a nod to the brother he’d never know.
Jürgen raised his gaze to mine and I saw the depth of my grief reflected in his. No one would ever understand my loss like he did.
I realized that our years apart meant unfathomable changes in the world and in each of us, but my connection with Jürgen would never change. It already survived the impossible. At this thought, I rushed to close the distance between us.
Gisela was gently shuffled to the side and Jürgen’s arms were finally around me again. I thought I’d be dignified and cautious when we reunited, but the minute we touched, my eyes filled with tears as relief and joy washed over me in cascading waves.
I was on the wrong side of the world in a country I did not trust, but I was also back in Jürgen’s arms, and I was instantly at home.
“My God,” Jürgen whispered roughly, his body trembling against mine. “You are a sight for sore eyes, Sofie von Meyer Rhodes.”
“Promise me you’ll never let me go again.”
Jürgen was a scientist—endlessly literal, at least under nor¬mal circumstances. Once upon a time, he’d have pointed out all the reasons why such a promise could not be made in good faith—but now his arms contracted around me and he whispered into my hair, “It would kill me to do so, Sofie. If there’s one thing I want for the rest of my life, it’s to spend every day of it with you.”
“Many of our neighbors are Germans—most have just arrived in Huntsville in the last few weeks or months, so you will all be settling in together. There’s a party for us tomorrow at the base where I work, so you’ll meet most of them then,” Jürgen told me as he drove us through the town in his sleek black 1949 Ford. He glanced at the children in the rearview mirror, his expression one of wonder, as if he couldn’t believe his eyes. “You’ll like it here, I promise.”
We’d be living in a leafy, quiet suburb called Maple Hill, on a small block the Americans nicknamed “Sauerkraut Hill” because it was now home to a cluster of German families. I translated the street signs for the children and they chuckled at the unfamiliar style. Our new street, Beetle Avenue, amused Gisela the most.
“Is there an insect plague we should worry about?” she chuckled.
“I really hope so,” Felix whispered, so quietly I had to strain to hear him. “I like beetles.”
As Jürgen pulled the car into the driveway, I couldn’t help but compare the simple house to the palatial homes I’d grown up in. This was a single-story dwelling, with a small porch leading to the front door, one window on either side. The house was clad in horizontal paneling, its white paint peeling. There were garden beds in front of the house, but they were overgrown with weeds. There was no lawn to speak of, only patchy grass in places, and the concrete path from the road to the porch was cracked and uneven.
I felt Jürgen’s eyes on my face as I stared out through the windshield, taking it all in.
“It needs a little work,” he conceded, suddenly uncertain. “It’s been so busy since I moved here, I haven’t had time to make it nice for you the way I hoped.”
“It’s perfect,” I said. I could easily picture the house with a fresh coat of paint, gardens bursting to life, Gisela and Felix running around, happy and safe and free as they made friends with the neighborhood children.
Just then, a woman emerged from the house to the left of ours, wearing a dress not unlike mine, her long hair in a thick braid, just like mine.
“Welcome, neighbors!” she called in German, beaming.
“This is Claudia Schmidt,” Jürgen said quietly as he reached to open his car door. “She’s married to Klaus, a chemical engineer. Klaus has been at Fort Bliss with me for a few years, but Claudia arrived from Frankfurt a few days ago.”
Sudden, sickening anxiety washed over me.
“Did you know him—”
“No,” Jürgen interrupted me, reading my distress. “He worked in a plant at Frankfurt and our paths never crossed. We will talk later, I promise,” he said, dropping his voice as he nodded toward the children. I reluctantly nodded, as my heart continued to race.
There was so much Jürgen and I needed to discuss, including just how he came to be a free man in America. Phone calls from Europe to America were not available to the general public, so Jürgen and I planned the move via letters—a slow-motion, careful conversation that took almost two years to finalize. We assumed everything we wrote down would be read by a government official, so I hadn’t asked and he hadn’t offered an explanation about how this unlikely arrangement in America came to be.
I couldn’t get answers yet, not with the children in earshot, so it would have to be enough reassurance for me to know our neighbors were probably not privy to the worst aspects of our past.
Jürgen left the car and walked over to greet Claudia, and I climbed out my side. As I walked around the car to follow him, I noticed a man walking along the opposite side of the street, watching us. He was tall and broad, and dressed in a nondescript, light brown uniform that was at least a size or two too small. I offered him a wave, assuming him to be a German neighbor, but he scoffed and shook his head in disgust and looked away.
I’d been prepared for some hostility, but the man’s reaction stung more than I’d expected it to. I took a breath, calming myself. One unfriendly pedestrian was not going to ruin my first day in our new home—my first day reunited with Jürgen—so I forced a bright smile and rounded the car to meet Claudia.
“I’m Sofie.”
She nodded enthusiastically. “Since we arrived last week, you are all I’ve heard about from your husband! He has been so excited for you to come.”
“I sure have.” Jürgen grinned.
“Are you and the children coming to the party tomorrow?” Claudia asked.
“We are,” I said, and she beamed again. I liked her immediately. It was a relief to think I might have a friend to help me navigate our new life.
“Us too,” Claudia said, but then her face fell a little and she pressed her palms against her abdomen, as if soothing a tender stomach. “I am so nervous. I know two English words—hello and soda.”
“That’s a start,” I offered, laughing softly.
“I’ve only met a few of the other wives, but they’re all in the same boat. How on earth is this party going to work? Will we have to stay by our husbands’ sides so they can translate for us?”
“I speak English,” I told her. I was fluent as a child, taking lessons with British nannies, then honing my skills on business trips with my parents. Into my adulthood, I grew rusty from lack of speaking it, but the influx of American soldiers in Berlin after the war gave me endless opportunities for practice. Claudia’s expression lifted again and now she clapped her hands in front of her chest.
“You can help us learn.”
“Do you have children? I want Gisela and Felix to learn as quickly as they can. Perhaps we could do some lessons all together.”
“Three,” she told me. “They are inside watching television.”
“You have a television?” I said, eyebrows lifting.
“We have a television too,” Jürgen told us. “I bought it as a housewarming gift for you all.” Gisela gasped, and he laughed and extended his hand to her. I wasn’t surprised when she immediately tugged him toward the front door. She’d long dreamed of owning a television set, but such a luxury was out of reach for us in Berlin.
I waved goodbye to Claudia and followed my family, but I was distracted, thinking about the look of disgust in the eyes of that passing man.

Excerpted from The German Wife by Kelly Rimmer, Copyright © 2022 by Lantana Management Pty, Ltd. Published by Graydon House Books.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#MiniBlogBlitz #RachelsRandomResources @rararesources / #Excerpt : A Defiant Maiden’s Knight – Melissa Oliver @melissaoauthor @MillsandBoon @HarlequinBooks

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

A Defiant Maidens Knight

Today I’m on the ‘A Defiant Maiden’s Knight’ 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 :

2wOPzYMAMelissa Oliver is from south-west London where she writes historical romance novels. She lives with her lovely husband and daughters, who share her passion for decrepit, old castles, palaces and all things historical.
Melissa is the WINNER of The Romantic Novelist Association’s Joan Hessayon Award for new writers 2020 for her debut, The Rebel Heiress and the Knight.
When she’s not writing she loves to travel for inspiration, paint, and visit museums & art galleries.

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Synopsis :

A Defiant Maidens KnightA tense, dramatic medieval love story.
A knight’s protection…
That she doesn’t want…or need?
Joan Lovent may be losing her sight but she refuses to lose her independence too. So when Sir Warin de Talmont tells her it’s too perilous to be out alone in the city, she doesn’t pay him any heed. But with threats surrounding them, she begins to value his protection and helps with his dangerous work in return. If only the powerful connection between them wasn’t so impossible to ignore!

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Excerpt :

Warin de Talmont and his friend, Nicholas d’Amberly encounter Joan Lovent once again on the streets after she had agreed that she would no longer come to that part of London alone.

‘Sir Warin de Talmont?’ The woman had the temerity to grimace at him. ‘It seems that once again you have somehow found yourself in this part of London that you have a great dislike for.’
He smiled. Joan Lovent certainly had a spark of humour laced with her obvious irritation in finding him here again. ‘Ah, but I only dislike it when I happen upon you here, Mistress Joan.’
‘You put me to the blush, sir, by singling me out with these attentions. Truly—you honour me.’
‘I very much doubt it,’ he said wryly. ‘May I introduce my friend, Sir Nicholas d’Amberly?’
‘Of course. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, sir.’
She turned her head around, but something in the manner in which she spoke must have raised D’Amberly’s curiosity in her. The man’s brows shot up as he darted a quick quizzical glance in Warin’s direction before returning his attentions to the woman. Ah, d’Amberly had not been aware of Joan Lovent’s impaired eyesight and he had forgotten to inform him. After all, for Warin it was neither an important nor a pertinent fact about her. The woman was vexing with or without her diminishing sight.
‘Enchanted, Mistress Joan.’ D’Amberly caught the woman’s dainty hand and lowered his head over it. ‘I have heard so much about you.’
‘Have you indeed, sir? I am surprised.’
‘I do not see why. For once my friend has not been excessive in any way when describing your lovely appearance.’
Her lips curved into a real smile—one that she had never bestowed on him. ‘I thank you but I’m sure Sir Warin has grossly exaggerated.’
Nicholas d’Amberly flashed his devastating smile. One that had usually amused Warin at the absurdity at the impact it had on women—but not this time. This time it irritated him in a wholly unexpected manner.
‘I assure you that he has not.’
‘Thank you, sir, but I think it might be prudent to release my hand from yours as it might raise a few suspicions about your attentions to just an unassuming page.’
D’Amberly let go of her hand and tilted his head. ‘You see, mistress, how your beauty and graciousness, even dressed as you are, make me forget myself. In truth, I have quite forgotten where I am.’
This time Joan Lovent actually giggled, making Warin grind his teeth together. And not because he had never managed to make her laugh. Not that he cared about such trifles—the woman was nothing to him. Even so, it was irksome that she was actually enjoying this discourse with Nicholas d’Amberly. But then most women did.
‘Then allow me enlighten you, sir, for I would hate for you to get lost.’ She grinned. ‘You are on the corner of Honey Street in a part of London considered so terrible, so very bad, that our friend here has resorted to following me in attempt to intimidate me into never returning back here again.’
‘That is very poor form.’ D’Amberly shook his head. ‘However, I can vouchsafe that he does mean well.’
‘I do.’ Warin was beginning to get more and more aggravated with the mild flirtation between his friend and this woman. ‘And by and by, there was never an intimidation, rather an agreement that was made, Mistress Joan. An agreement, I might add, which you have soundly broken with this little outing.’
She had the good grace to blush before tilting her head up defiantly. ‘I’m afraid to say that when I thought about it at length I came to the conclusion that my prior vow to the souls of All Hallows must prevail.’
Warin’s face was like thunder. ‘Is that so, mistress?’
‘I’m afraid it is. But you will be heartened to know that my visit here is not entirely unsanctioned, since I informed my sister by marriage of it. Indeed, Brida acquiesced to my little outing here.’
Warin’s patience was becoming raggedly thin.
He moved a little to shield the woman from a moving cart, before responding.
‘You might believe that these jaunts might meet Mistress Brida’s approval, but be assured that they would not meet her husband’s—your brother’s.’
Warin noticed a muscle flick in her jaw. ‘Then it is good thing that Thomas is none the wiser, sir, and can only hope that it would remain so. I bid you a good day. Sir Nicholas, it was a pleasure to make your acquaintance,’ she muttered, turning to leave.
‘Wait one moment, if you please.’ Warin reached out and caught her wrist, preventing her from moving away. ‘As I have maintained before, this is not some jest, Joan. Nor is it a game.’
‘Have I said that it was?’ she whispered, looking up, hurt filling those pretty blue eyes of hers.
He needed to make the woman understand the situation far better. He needed her to cease being so bloody obstinate.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #HarlequinTradePublishingBlogTour @htp_books / #Excerpt : Breaking Time #BreakingTime – Sasha Alsberg @sashaalsberg @InkyardPress @HarperCollins

– ‘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 ‘Breaking Time’ 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 :

SashaAlsberg_authorphotoSasha Alsberg is the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Zenith, the first book in The Androma Saga. When Sasha is not writing or obsessing over Scotland, she is galavanting across social media with her two dogs, Fraser & Fiona. Sasha lives in London, England.

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Synopsis :

SashaAlsberg_authorphotoRomance, Celtic mythology, and adventure swirl together in this time travel fantasy by #1 New York Times bestselling author, booktuber, and popular Outlander social media influencer Sasha Alsberg.

Fate brought them together. Time will tear them apart.
When a mysterious Scotsman suddenly appears in the middle of the road, Klara thinks the biggest problem is whether she hit him with her car. But, as impossible as it sounds, Callum has stepped out of another time, and his arrival marks the beginning of a deadly adventure.
Klara soon learns she is the last Pillar of Time—an anchor point in the timeline of the world. After being unable to protect the previous Pillar, Callum believes he’s fated to protect her. But now a dark force is hunting the Pillars—and Klara and Callum are the only two standing in the way. They’ll have to learn to trust each other and work together…but they’ll need to protect their hearts from one another if they’re going to survive.

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Excerpt :

Callum
1568

“Thomas!” Callum yelled as he left the pub. The wall of crisp night air dizzied him, causing him to stumble over cobble¬stones that seemed to shift beneath his feet. Drunken laughter muff led as the door slammed shut behind him.
“Where the hell are ye?” he shouted. His voice echoed through the deserted streets.
No answer came.
Lanterns flickered along the main road, setting the heavy fog aglow. In a wee town like Rosemere, the slightest whis¬pers could be heard a mile away. They carried farther than that, Callum knew; the windows around him were shuttered, but candles burned low just inside. How many prying eyes watched from behind the slats? How many would speak of his friend, the disgraced fighter, in hushed voices at tomor-row’s market, over bread bought with the coin they’d won betting on him mere weeks earlier?
Callum clenched his fists. The whole pub had shouted and jeered while Thomas got pummeled that night. Sounds still rang in Callum’s ears: the thud of fist and flesh, the sickening crunch of bone. It was the third time this month that Thomas had lost—only the third time, in two years of fighting.
Brice would be angry.
Master, keeper, devil, father. Brice MacDonald was all of these things to Callum and Thomas. Whatever Brice’s wrath tonight, Callum could not let Thomas face it alone. Not when Thomas had looked after Callum for so long, raised him up from a nipper as well as a real older brother would.
But he would not abandon Thomas like his mother had abandoned him.
The thought sobered Callum. He called again, lowering his voice to a taunt.
“Thomas! You owe me three shillings!” Thomas could usually be drawn out with a jab.
Callum paused, straining his ears for a response but was met with unease instead. An owl watched from its perch atop the baker’s roof, golden eyes unblinking against the dark night sky. The shining orbs fixed on him.
He tore his gaze from the bird and walked on, moving away from the firelight and into shadow.
Even more worrisome than Brice was the fact that Thomas had given Callum his most treasured item earlier that night: his notebook, small sheaths of vellum bound in leather. When he first began carrying it around, Thomas claimed to have stolen it from the apothecary when he went in for a poultice.
He had kept it on him, always, and had never let Callum lay eyes on what was inside. Yet he had pressed it into Callum’s hand, just before the match tonight. He said something to Callum when he did, but his words were inaudible within the roar of the pub. Then after, he disappeared from the pub without even a goodbye.
Now Callum was wandering the streets, alone.
It was unlike Thomas to behave so strangely, to lose so badly. The Thomas he knew—boyish and rowdy, tough as leather but never mean—had fallen away with the autumn leaves these past months. Instead of spending evenings at The Black Hart Inn, weaving stories he’d learned as a child of selkies and sailors for red-cheeked barmaids until the sun rose, Thomas began to disappear for days, weeks at a time—stretches too long for Callum to explain to Brice. He took a beating or two for it, too. When Thomas returned, he was sullen, sometimes violent, and consumed by a strangeness Callum had no words to describe. His eyes stared but did not see, as distant as stars burning in his skull. If he spoke at all, he told tales of the demons that terrified them as children: like the Sluagh, spirits of the dead who wandered in flocks, flying around the sky like soaring reapers and stealing souls, flesh hanging off them like blackened rags. Or the bean-nighe, banshees, messengers from the Otherworld and omens of death, who lingered in lonely streams, washing the clothes of doomed men. Normally Callum heard of such dark crea¬tures within the stories of heroes, but Thomas’s stories didn’t end in life…but death. He fixated on that fact, as if it were coming for him.
I saw her, he’d said of the bean-nighe. I refuse to die.
It worried Callum, but just as his worry morphed into con¬frontation, Thomas would come back to himself. This was enough to comfort Callum as he watched Thomas return to tales of ancient heroes and kings. Maybe he accepted his re¬lief too soon since the nights of those stories were fewer these days, and more often Thomas’s speech would turn dark again. He would speak of strange visions, of men who leaped from one world to the next.
They’re coming, Cal, you’ll see. It’s as simple as stepping through a veil.
Who’s coming, Thomas? What veil? Callum asked, and Thomas would laugh.
It was no tale that Callum knew. He’d warned Thomas not to tell it. He didn’t like the wary looks it earned him. It was one thing to be a bard who told these stories for a living, but it was another thing to speak like a madman of evil spir¬its and fairies as if they were tangible things away from the lyrics of a song or the pages of a book.
Callum reached the end of the main road—the turn for Kelpie’s Close. If you wanted trouble, you found it in Kelpie’s. The narrow backstreet edged Rosemere like a blade pressed against the town’s throat.
A chill clung to his skin. Here, there were no lanterns to light the way, his only guide sparse slivers of moonlight. The wind picked up suddenly, lifting his hair and reaching under his woolen cloak. He tried to shake off visions of the Sluagh hovering above him, raking their cold fingers down his neck.
“It’s as dark as the Earl of Hell’s waistcoat,” he mumbled.
Callum reached for the dirk tucked under his arm and found the carved handle concealed under layers of wool, feel¬ing a sting of guilt. It was Thomas’s knife. Callum had slipped it away from him before the match, worried about what his friend might do in the crowded pub if he got enough drink in him. He tapped it, drawing enough strength to plunge into the darkness.
“Scunner!” he cursed, meaning it. “Where are you?”
A cry pierced the quiet.
Callum’s heart pounded as he followed the sound farther down the alley. He pulled the dirk from under his arm, cer¬tain now that he’d need to use it.
“Thomas?”
Unease, cold and metallic, crept up his spine. The alley appeared empty—strange, for this time of night—but the si¬lence was thick, alive with a feeling Callum couldn’t name. He pushed on, deeper into the gloom. “Thomas?”
Another strangled cry, ahead.
Callum broke into a run.
A single lantern flickered a short distance away, casting a wan glow over a lone figure slumped against the wall. A sweep of red hair, bright even in the dim alley.
“Thomas, ye bastard, do ye ken what—”
The insult lodged in his throat. Thomas lay on the ground, his legs splayed at sickening angles. Blood seeped through his shirt, blooming like ink on paper. Callum rushed to his friend and knelt beside him. He dropped the dirk and pressed his hands against the deep slice that marred his friend’s torso. A knife wound.
“Dinnae fash, Thomas, dinnae fash,” Callum repeated, voice tight and panicked. He glanced up, searching for friend or foe, and found no one. “We’ll be back to the pub before Anderson kens we havna paid our tab.”
Thomas stared up at him with glassy blue eyes. With each shuddering breath, more blood spilled through Callum’s fin¬gers. He ripped the cloth stock from his neck and pressed the fabric onto the wound. It did little to stem the flow of blood. Within a few heartbeats, the cloth was soaked through, red and dripping.
If he pressed any harder, would it be doing more harm than good? Should he call for help, though it might draw the at¬tacker? Callum hadn’t a clue. He wished suddenly, ferociously, that he’d had a proper mother, one whose wisdom he could call upon to calmly guide his hands. However, Thomas was the only family he had.
His only family was dying.
Thomas opened his mouth, but instead of words, a wet cough came out, splattering red across his pale face.
“Dinnae move, Thomas,” Callum shushed him. His uncer¬tainty gave way to desperation, burst from his throat. “Help! Help us!”
His words dissolved into the night air, leaving behind only a tightness at the center of his chest. If he hadn’t taken Thomas’s dirk, he would have been able to defend himself, he wouldn’t be dying in Callum’s arms—
Thomas gasped, but it seemed as if no air reached his lungs.
Lowering his head, Callum gripped Thomas’s hands, though his own were shaking. “I will find the man who did this, I swear—”
Then the world flipped sideways. A blow had hit Callum like a runaway carriage, throwing him against the alley wall opposite Thomas.
Pain exploded along his ribs. Grasping the mossy wall for purchase, he struggled to his feet and wiped blood from his eyes, scouring the darkness for his attacker—and found no one.
“Show your face,” he growled.
A cruel whisper cut through the quiet. “Are you certain?”
The man emerged from the shadows as if he had been one with them. He wore a dark black cloak, in stark contrast to his unkempt, pale hair. Deep set in his face, a pair of amber eyes seemed to emit their own light. Callum’s gaze was drawn to a glinting shape in the man’s hand.
A dagger, dripping with blood.
Thomas’s blood.
Callum’s heart pounded like a war drum in his ears.
The man sighed. “Move along. Unless you’d like to meet the same fate as your compani—”
Callum lunged forward, cutting off the man’s speech with a guttural cry, striking with the speed of a viper.
The man ducked. He whirled around as Callum charged again. He overreached with the arc of his knife, and Callum used the moment to surge upward with a punch. His fist took the assailant in the chin—
And the force knocked Callum back.
He stared. A blow like that would have laid out the tough¬est fighter, yet the man stood and smiled, rubbing his chin with a gloved hand.
“I’m going to have fun with you,” the stranger whispered. “I like a man with a bit of fight in him. It’s more fun to play with your prey, don’t you think?”
Callum didn’t see the blow coming, only felt the pain sear¬ing across his temple as he was thrown to the ground again.
He lifted his head, vision blurring. He blinked it clear, took in his friend’s ashen face. The sight flooded Callum with rage.
Whoever said to never fight with anger fueling your fists was a fool. Thomas’s best fights had been powered by emo¬tion. Callum wasn’t fighting for money now. Or for Brice. He was fighting for Thomas. Because Thomas was—
“Stay down, little man,” the attacker’s voice hissed.
Callum dragged himself to his feet. His body, corded with muscle from a lifetime of training, screamed for him to stop. Instead he stood, swaying.
“I dinnae believe I’m going to Heaven,” Callum said, rais¬ing his fists once more, drawing strength from the familiar ache that radiated through his arms. “But I cannae wait to bring you to Hell with me.”
Lunging forward again, Callum poured everything he had into a single strike. He swung, landing the punch more out of luck than skill, half blinded by blood and dirt.
The man merely flinched, then caught Callum easily by the throat. A grin curled over his face.
How could that be possible?
“My, my, you are a feisty one,” he hissed.
The man lashed out, and pain flared along Callum’s torso. He released Callum and stepped back, red-tinged silver shin¬ing in his fist.
Callum touched his side, and his fingers came away wet with blood. He watched as crimson spread across his shirt. He tried to take a step, only to crumple to the ground beside Thomas, whose head rested limp against his chest.
Callum had never feared death, but now as he looked into its eyes, terror seized him.
“Many thanks for the entertainment,” the man said.
To Callum’s horror, he bent low, holding a vial to the spreading pool of Thomas’s blood. He was gathering it.
“If you’ll excuse me, there’s one last Pillar I must find.”
Pillar?
The unearthly amber eyes melted into darkness as his oppo¬nent backed away and turned, disappearing into the shadows once more. Softly hissed words echoed in the alley. Àiteachan dìomhair, fosgailte dhomh, Àiteachan dìomhair, fosgailte dhomh…
The words the man spoke were Gaelic, but Callum’s fad¬ing mind couldn’t make out their meaning. A dark, mist-like substance rose from the ground and curled around the man’s feet, nearly indistinguishable from the dim of night. Like a sudden fog had rolled in.
Callum sputtered a curse, lacking the strength to spit. He tried to lift himself, but with each breath, pain flared in his side like a web of fire.
“I’m sorry, Thomas,” he croaked. Tears fell freely down his face, mingling with blood and sweat. He pressed his forehead against his friend’s. Grief washed over him at the still-warm press of his skin.
Thomas was gone, and Callum would soon follow.
A shiver raked his body. His eyes drifted shut.
Take me already, he pleaded to the darkness.
And the darkness answered.
No, not the darkness—Thomas’s voice, a memory now, though it was solid as stone.
“Get up, scunner.”
The warmth of the words turned electric, spreading through Callum’s body like wildfire. His eyes shot open and he gasped, breathing in a shock of cold air still sharp with the smell of blood. His fingers found the dirk he’d dropped earlier.
Grief and agony and pain and rage lifted Callum onto his feet, thrumming in him as he charged after Thomas’s mur¬derer, knife raised and eager for flesh. He grabbed blindly, finally grasping a handful of fabric—the man’s cloak. Turn¬ing, the man’s eyes widened, making two white rings of sur¬prise in the dark. Callum’s hand grabbed the man’s neck and aimed his dirk at the pale slash of his throat.
Suddenly, they froze. Callum could not move. His hand remained around the man’s neck, the tip of the dirk pressed against his vein. Light flowed around them. It’s not time for sunrise, he thought. Dimly, he noticed markings along the man’s collarbone. Knots carved into his skin.
The man cried out—not in pain, but in anger—but then, the cry was stifled by a rush of silence, so thick Callum thought he might drown in it. His stomach turned violently as the ground seemed to drop out from under him, forcing him to squeeze his eyes shut. He was falling, flying, falling.
I must be dead in the alley. The man must have killed me. This must be death.
A bright glow burned against his lids. He closed his eyes tighter and welcomed whatever might follow, only hoping he’d find Thomas there. A wall of light had formed above, descending as if the sun were pulling him through the sky. His body rose into its searing embrace.
He waited for the long drop to the ground, but it never came.
Callum kept soaring.
Not just through the street.
Not to death’s embrace.
But somewhere else.
Leaping to another world, like the man in Thomas’s story, Callum thought.
So he leaped.

Excerpted from Breaking Time by Sasha Alsberg, © 2022 by Sasha Alsberg, used with permission from Inkyard Press/HarperCollins.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #HarlequinTradePublishingBlogTour @htp_books / #Excerpt : Good Husbands #GoodHusbands – Cate Ray @CateRaywriter @HarperCollins @parkrowbooks @septemberbooks

– ‘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 ‘Good Husbands’ 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 :

author photo_Cate Ray_credit_Paolo FerlaCate Ray is an author of four previous novels of suspense published in the UK under the name Cath Weeks. She was named an Author to Watch by Elle magazine. She lives in Bath with her family.

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Synopsis :

author photo_Cate Ray_credit_Paolo FerlaThree wives, one letter, and an explosive secret that will change everything.
He said, she said. Who do you believe?
Jessica, Stephanie and Priyanka are complete strangers, but they have one thing in common: they’ve each received a letter accusing their husbands of committing a sexual assault more than two decades prior. Is the accusation true or is there more to the story? It was a secret that remained buried for years.
With their worlds suddenly turned upside down, they don’t know who to trust—a complete stranger or the men they love and built their lives with. The three women come together to embark on a hunt for the truth, but they are hardly prepared for what they will discover. Who is the victim, and will justice ultimately be served?

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Excerpt :

Jess

I’m one hundred percent average, said no one ever. Yet that’s what most of us are, myself included. I know the sum of my parts and it equals ordinary and there’s no shame in that. In fact, it’s a strength. My parents were ordinary too and as their only child they raised me to respect being a leaf on a tree, a grain of sand on the beach. You get the picture. But it doesn’t mean being insignificant, anonymous. It means being part of a community, a tribe, a cause greater than yourself.
I realise this kind of thinking isn’t very now. The idea of being average scares my girls to death. I wouldn’t accuse them of it outright, yet it’s probably in their DNA too and at some point, they’ll have to confront it. Mediocrity isn’t something they can deal with and perhaps that’s where we’re going wrong because ordinary is what gets you through. Ordinary is noble, life-affirming. It’s the heart of humanity and somehow, we’ve forgotten that.
And then the letter arrives and I know as soon as I read it that I’m going to have to re-think everything. Because I’m fairly sure that ordinary people don’t get letters like this.
It’s the first day of autumn and I don’t know if it’s actually colder or whether I’m imagining it, as though a door closed yesterday on summer and a chillier one opened, but I’m definitely feeling it today. The tip of my nose is icy and I would get a hot water bottle for my lap, only I’m leaving the house in twenty minutes.
I’m meeting Duane Dee, my favourite sculptor—the only sculptor—on my client list and anything could happen. You never know what you’re going to get with artists, which is why I like working with them. They’re up and down but more than that, they’re honest. I’ve never known a profession like it. My artists talk about integrity and authenticity all the time and I lap it up. I love that the men don’t shave for meetings, the women don’t dye their greys, no one bothers ironing anything.
The investors are another sort altogether. People who buy and sell art are very different from those who create it. I know whose company I prefer, but I keep that to myself because even I know not to bite the hand that feeds me.
Max thinks it’s funny that I work for Moon & Co—he calls them the Moonies—even though he was the one who got me the job. He knows everyone in Bath because he grew up here, whereas I’m originally from the East End, London. I’ve been living here for twenty years and it still makes me laugh that locals think it’s urban, even though I can see cows from our bathroom window.
I’ve just got enough time for a quick look at Facebook. I don’t know why I do it to myself, but sometimes I feel that if I don’t keep up, I’ll be left behind. Which is odd because it’s not as if it’s a race, is it, being human?
I’m forty-six years old and still looking for friends. I’m pretty sure I won’t find them here in this endless scroll of happy images. People work so hard to make themselves look perfect, it’s hard not to try to find faults. I don’t enjoy it. It makes me feel bitchy but still I return and peek.
I glance at the time: ten minutes until I have to go. Outside, red leaves are hanging on the trees as though they’ve gone rusty and can’t move. There’s no wind today, the air completely still.
Duane Dee doesn’t use social media. He thinks the tech companies are using us to get rich and that it’s odd I’m willing to be a pawn in Silicon Valley because I strike him as militant.
It’s probably because I still have a slight East End accent, which can sound blunt, tough, but I like to think of it more as plain-talking. My late Dad used to say that the EastEnders wore their hearts of gold on their sleeves. A firefighter all his life, he believed in helping people out, especially along our street of identical terrace houses where no one could set themselves apart.
Enough of Facebook. I shut it down, telling it I won’t be back, knowing I will. And then I gather my things, ready to take off.
In the hallway, I sit on the stairs to put on my trainers, wondering when I started dressing like a teenager, and that’s when the postman comes. There’s only one small piece of mail, which slips in like a piece of confetti, drifting to the mat. I pick it up with interest because it’s handwritten and I can’t think when I last received one of those.
Then it’s out of my mind because I’m locking up and putting on my puffa jacket as I walk to the car. And then I’m driving to town—the sun a pale wedge of lemon above me—running through what to say to Duane Dee.
Is he well? Is he pushing himself too hard? Is he sleeping enough? He always looks chronically tired.
I ask too many questions. Intrusive. That’s the little bit of feedback my boss always gives me. Jess, here’s some feedback you didn’t ask for…
When people say you’re intrusive, assertive or direct, they’re basically telling you to be quiet. Are men given feedback like that? I don’t know. But I’m thinking about this as I enter the Sicilian café which is my personal preference and not Duane’s. Whenever he chooses, we end up somewhere too dark to see our food, sitting on tasselled mats.
The service here is very good. Within seconds of my sitting down, the waitress hands me a menu even though I always have an Americano and an almond pastry.
Glancing in the wall mirror beside me, I note that my expression is severe. A semi-friend told me recently that I carry a lot of tension in my face. It was a bit passive aggressive of her to say so, but I know what she means. I have bony cheekbones and thin lips that can look mean if I’m not careful.
So, I’ve been making an effort lately to smile more, worry less and unclench my hands. I also tend to tap my teeth together and I’m doing that now in time to the café music as I wait for Duane.
And then I remember the letter.
It takes me several minutes to find it, as well as my read¬ing glasses. Since hitting my mid-forties, I misplace things all the time. I normally ask myself, where would I have put it? And it’s never there.
The letter is in the front compartment of the rucksack which I haven’t used for so long, there are crumbs and bits of foil in there from the primary school-run. Flicking the crumbs off the envelope, I examine the handwriting, feeling a pang of nostalgia at the idea of someone putting pen to paper just for me.
The writing is tiny and in capitals, internet code for shouting, but in this case is more like whispering. Something about it gives me the sense that it’s trying its hardest not to offend or take up too much space. I have to prise the paper out of the envelope, where it’s wedged, folded into eighths.
THURS 1ST OCTOBER
DEAR JESSICA,
I HOPE YOU’RE SITTING DOWN TO READ THIS AND THAT YOU’RE ALONE.
THIS IS SO DIFFICULT. YOU WOULDN’T BELIEVE HOW OFTEN I IMAGINED TALKING TO YOU, BUT I DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO GO ABOUT IT. AND NOW IT’S TOO LATE.
For what? I check the postmark on the envelope: Monday 5th October, 5pm. That was last night. Shifting uneasily in my seat, I turn over the letter to see who sent it: Holly Waite.
I’VE KNOWN FOR SOME TIME THAT I WON’T MAKE OLD BONES, BUT NOW IT’S URGENT AND I’VE ONLY GOT A FEW DAYS LEFT. SO, I’LL JUST COME OUT WITH IT.
ON 22ND DECEMBER 1990, MY MUM NICOLA WAITE WAS RAPED BY 3 MEN IN THE MONTAGUE CLUB, BATH. THE MEN WERE ANDREW LAWLEY, DANIEL BROOKE AND MAXIMILIAN JACKSON.
MY MUM FELL PREGNANT WITH ME. SHE ASKED THE MEN FOR HELP, BUT THEY DIDN’T WANT TO BE INVOLVED. SHE NEVER RECOVERED FROM WHAT HAPPENED AND DIED 9 YEARS AGO OF AN ACCIDENTAL OVERDOSE.
EVERYTHING I OWN IS AT STONE’S STORAGE, UNIT 21, 156 CLEVEDON ROAD. IF YOU GO TO THEM, THEY’LL GIVE YOU THE KEY. YOU’RE WELCOME TO ANYTHING. I HAVE NO ONE ELSE TO LEAVE IT TO.
WE NEVER KNEW WHO MY FATHER WAS. SO, I’M ALSO WRITING TO:
PRIYANKA LAWLEY. 32 WALDEN WAY, HIGH LANE, BATH.
STEPHANIE BROOKE, 7 SOUTH AVENUE, BATH.
I’M SORRY TO DO THIS. I KNOW IT’LL BE A SHOCK, BUT I COULDN’T GO WITHOUT TELLING YOU. YOUR HUSBANDS WENT UNPUNISHED, WALKING AWAY COMPLETELY FREE. I ALWAYS HOPED THAT ONE DAY I’D SEE JUSTICE DONE, BUT I COULDN’T THINK OF A WAY TO DO THAT WITHOUT DESTROYING MORE LIVES.
NOW THAT I’M OUT OF TIME, I CAN SEE THAT IT WASN’T MY CHOICE TO MAKE. SO, I’M PASSING IT OVER TO YOU, TELLING YOU WHAT YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN FROM THE START. IT ALWAYS FELT SO PERSONAL, BUT IT WASN’T, NOT REALLY. YOU CAN’T DRAW A LINE WHERE ONE LIFE STARTS AND AN-OTHER BEGINS.
ONCE AGAIN, I’M SORRY.
I HOPE YOU DO THE RIGHT THING.
YOURS TRULY,
HOLLY WAITE X
The kiss throws me the most. I stare at it. It’s like she’s trying to add a softener, after making the worst possible accusation.
I read the letter again, my eye lingering on Maximilian Jackson. No one ever calls Max that. It doesn’t even sound like him.
“Jess?” I glance up to see Duane standing there, untying his Aztec scarf, clay stains on his jumper. “Alright, darlin’?”
I can’t pull out a smile for him. I’m not great at hiding my emotions. It’s one of the things Max has always loved about me and I like it about myself too. Yet suddenly, it feels like an impairment; a liability even.
Slipping the letter into my bag, I stand up robotically and we exchange kisses. He smells of autumn air and his cheek as it brushes mine is so cold it makes me shiver. “Hi, Duane.”
We sit down and Duane scans a menu before tossing it aside. “Who am I kidding? I’m gonna get the calzoni. I always get the calzoni.”
“So…how are you?” I manage to ask. “How’s the new project going?” I sound uptight, formal. I clench my hands, trying to stop them from trembling.
The waitress takes our order. And then I sit rigidly in my chair, listening as Duane describes his latest creation—how it embodies technoculture, hyperreality, paranoia.
When the coffees arrive, I drink mine too quickly and burn my tongue.
“You OK?” He cocks his head at me.
No, I’m not. How could I be?
“Actually, I just need to pop to the ladies. Could you excuse me a minute?”
Out in the restroom, I stand with my hands against the sink, trying to breathe, feeling dizzy. Closing my eyes, I see Maximilian Jackson again in that tiny handwriting.
It’s not Max. It’s some sort of mistake. Holly Waite…whoever that is…is wrong. And perhaps, dead.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt happy before to hear of someone’s demise, but as I open my eyes it occurs to me that if this woman is deceased then there’s no one present to make any accusations.
I return to the table, where Duane is tucking into his calzoni, a thread of cheese hanging from his lip. Normally I wouldn’t hesitate to tell him, or anyone, so they could set themselves straight.
But something strange happens and I just sit there, silent, watching the thread dangle as he chews and talks. It seems to me that I don’t know who I am. Or more to the point, who my husband is.

Excerpted from Good Husbands by Cate Ray, © 2022 by Cate Ray, used with permission from Park Row Books/HarperCollins.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #HarlequinTradePublishingBlogTour @htp_books / #Excerpt : Never Coming Home #NeverComingHome – Hannah Mary McKinnon @HannahMMcKinnon @MIRAEditors @HarperCollins @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 ‘Never Coming Home’ 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 :

Hannah Mary McKinnon author photoHannah Mary McKinnon was born in the UK, grew up in Switzerland and moved to Canada in 2010. After a successful career in recruitment, she quit the corporate world in favor of writing, and is now the author of The Neighbors, Her Secret Son, Sister Dear and You Will Remember Me. She lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and three sons, and is delighted by her twenty-second commute.

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Synopsis :

Title: Never Coming Home
Author: Hannah Mary McKinnon
ISBN: 9780778386100
Publication Date: May 24, 2022
Publisher: MIRA Books

2021-11-17 NCH coverFirst comes love. Then comes murder.
Lucas Forester didn’t hate his wife. Michelle was brilliant, sophisticated and beautiful. Sure, she had extravagant spending habits, that petty attitude, a total disregard for anyone below her status. But she also had a lot to offer. Most notably: wealth that only the one percent could comprehend.
For years, Lucas has been honing a flawless plan to inherit Michelle’s fortune. Unfortunately, it involves taking a hit out on her.
Every track is covered, no trace left behind, and now Lucas plays the grieving husband so well he deserves an award. But when a shocking photo and cryptic note show up on his doorstep, Lucas goes from hunter to prey.
Someone is on to him. And they’re closing in.
Told with dark wit and a sharply feminist sensibility, Never Coming Home is a terrifying tale of duplicity that will have you side-eyeing your spouse as you dash to the breathtaking end.

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Excerpt :

1
SUNDAY

The steady noise from the antique French carriage clock on the mantelpiece had somehow amplified itself, a rhythmic tick-tick, tick-tick, which usually went unnoticed. After I’d been sitting in the same position and holding my ailing mother-in-law’s hand for almost an hour, the incessant clicking had long wormed its way deep into my brain where it grated on my nerves, stirring up fantasies of hammers, bent copper coils, and shattered glass.
Nora looked considerably worse than when I’d visited her earlier this week. She was propped up in bed, surrounded by a multitude of pillows. She’d lost more weight, something her pre-illness slender physique couldn’t afford. Her bones jutted out like rocks on a cliff, turning a kiss on the cheek into an extreme sport in which you might lose an eye. The ghostly hue on her face resembled the kids who’d come dressed up as ghouls for Halloween a few days ago, emphasizing the dark circles that had transformed her eyes into mini sinkholes. It wasn’t clear how much time she had left. I was no medical professional, but we could all tell it wouldn’t be long. When she’d shared her doctor’s diagnosis with me barely three weeks ago, they’d estimated around two months, but at the rate of Nora’s decline, it wouldn’t have come as a surprise if it turned out to be a matter of days.
Ovarian cancer. As a thirty-two-year-old Englishman who wasn’t yet half Nora’s age I’d had no idea it was dubbed the silent killer but now understood why. Despite the considerable wealth and social notoriety Nora enjoyed in the upscale and picturesque town of Chelmswood on the outskirts of Boston, by the time she’d seen someone because of a bad back and they’d worked out what was going on, her vital organs were under siege. The disease was a formidable opponent, the stealthiest of snipers, destroying her from the inside out before she had any indication something was wrong.
A shame, truly, because Nora was the only one in the Ward family I actually liked. I wouldn’t have sat here this long with my arse going numb for my father-in-law’s benefit, that’s for sure. Given half the chance I’d have smothered him with a pillow while the nurse wasn’t looking. But not Nora. She was kindhearted, gentle. The type of person who quietly gave time and money to multiple causes and charities without expecting a single accolade in return. Sometimes I imagined my mother would’ve been like Nora, had she survived, and fleetingly wondered what might have become of me if she hadn’t died so young, if I’d have grown up to be a good person.
I gradually pulled my hand away from Nora’s and reached for my phone, decided on playing a game or two of backgammon until she woke up. The app had thrashed me the last three rounds and I was due, but Nora’s fingers twitched before I made my first move. I studied her brow, which seemed furrowed in pain even as she slept. Not for the first time I hoped the Grim Reaper would stake his or her claim sooner rather than later. If I were death, I’d be swift, efficient, and merciful, not prescribe a drawn-out, painful process during which body, mind, or both, wasted away. People shouldn’t be made to suffer as they died. Not all of them, anyway.
“Lucas?”
I jumped as Diane, Nora’s nurse and my neighbor, put a hand on my shoulder. She’d only left the room for a couple of minutes but always wore those soft-soled shoes when she worked, which meant I never heard her coming until she was next to me. Kind of sneaky, when I thought about it, and I decided I wouldn’t sit with my back to the door again.
As she walked past, the air filled with the distinctive medicinal scent of hand sanitizer and antiseptic. I hated that smell. Too many bad memories I couldn’t shake. Diane set a glass of water on the bedside table, checked Nora’s vitals, and turned around. Hands on hips, she peered down at me from her six-foot frame, her tight dark curls bouncing alongside her jawbone like a set of tiny corkscrews.
“You can go home now. I’ll take the evening from here.” Regardless of her amicable delivery, there was no mistaking the instruction, but she still added, “Get some rest. God knows you look like you need it.”
“Thanks a lot,” I replied with mock indignation. “You sure know how to flatter a guy.”
Diane cocked her head to one side, folded her arms, and gave me another long stare, which to anyone else would’ve been intimidating. “How long since you slept? I mean properly.”
I waved a hand. “It’s only seven o’clock.”
“Yeah, I guess given the circumstances I wouldn’t want to be home alone, either.”
I looked away. “That’s not what this is about. I’ll wait until Nora wakes up again. I want to say goodbye. You know, in case she…” My voice cracked a little on the last word and I feigned a cough as I pressed the heels of my palms over my eyes.
“She won’t,” Diane whispered. “Not tonight. Trust me. She’s not ready to go.”
I knew Diane had worked in hospice for two decades and had seen more than her fair share of people taking their last breaths. If she said Nora wouldn’t die tonight, then Nora would still be here in the morning.
“I’ll leave in a bit. After she wakes up.”
Diane let out a resigned sigh and sat down in the chair on the opposite side of the bed. A comfortable silence settled between us despite the fact we didn’t know each other very well. I’d first met Diane and her wife Karina, who were both in their forties, when they’d struck up a conversation with me and my wife Michelle as we’d moved into our house on the other side of Chelmswood almost three years prior. Something about garbage days and recycling rules, I think. The mundane discussion could’ve led to a multitude of drinks, shared meals, and the swapping of embarrassing childhood stories, except we were all what Michelle had called busy professionals with (quote) hectic work schedules that make forging new friendships difficult. My Captain Subtext translated her comment as can’t be bothered and, consequently, the four of us had never made the transition from neighbors to close friends.
Aside from the occasional holiday party invitation or looking after each other’s places whenever we were away—picking up the mail, watering the plants, that kind of thing—we only saw each other in passing. Nevertheless, Karina regularly left a Welcome Back note on our kitchen counter along with flowers from their garden and a bottle of wine. Not one to be outdone on anything, Michelle reciprocated, except she’d always chosen more elaborate bouquets and fancier booze. My wife’s silent little pissing contests, which I’d pretended to be too dense to notice, had irked me to hell and back, but when Nora fell ill and Diane had been assigned as one of her nurses, I’d been relieved it was someone I knew and trusted.
“I’m sorry this is happening to you,” Diane said, rescuing me from the spousal memories. “It’s not fair. I mean, it’s never fair, obviously, but on top of what you’re going through with Michelle. I can’t imagine. It’s so awful…”
I acknowledged the rest of the words she left hanging in the air with a nod. There was nothing left to say about my wife’s situation we hadn’t already discussed, rediscussed, dissected, reconstructed, and pulled apart all over again. We’d not solved the mystery of her whereabouts or found more clues. Nothing new, helpful or hopeful, anyway. We never would.
Silence descended upon us again, the gaudy carriage clock ticking away, reviving the images of me with hammer in hand until the doorbell masked the sound.
“I’ll go,” Diane muttered, and before I had the chance to stand, she left the room and pulled the door shut. I couldn’t help wondering if her swift departure was because she needed to escape from me, the man who’d used her supportive shoulder almost daily for the past month. I decided to tone it down a little. Nobody wanted to be around an overdramatic, constant crybaby regardless of their circumstances.
I listened for voices but couldn’t hear any despite my leaning toward the door and craning my neck. I couldn’t risk moving in case Nora woke up. Her body was failing, but her mind remained sharp as a box of tacks. She’d wonder what I was up to if she saw my ear pressed against the mahogany panel. Solid mahogany. The best money could buy thanks to the Ward family’s three-generations-old construction empire. No cheap building materials in this house, as my father-in-law had pointed out when he’d first given me the tour of the six bedrooms, four reception rooms, indoor and outdoor kitchens (never mind the abhorrent freezing Boston winters), and what could only be described as grounds because yard implied it was manageable with a push-along mower.
“Only the best for my family,” Gideon had said in his characteristic rumbly, pompous way as he’d knocked back another glass of Laphroaig, the broad East Coast accent he worked hard to hide making more of a reappearance with each gluttonous glug. “No MDF, vinyl or laminate garbage, thank you. That’s not what I’m about. Not at all.”
It’s in the houses you build for others, I’d thought as I’d grunted an inaudible reply he no doubt mistook for agreement because people rarely contradicted him. As I raised my glass of scotch, I didn’t mention the council flats I grew up in on what Gideon dismissed as the lesser side of the pond, or the multiple times Dad and I had been kicked out of our dingy digs because he couldn’t pay the rent, and we’d ended up on the streets. My childhood had been vastly different to my wife’s, and I imagined the pleasure I’d find in watching Gideon’s eyes bulge as I described the squalor I’d lived in, and he realized my background was worlds away from the shiny and elitist version I’d led everyone to believe was the truth. I pictured myself laughing as he understood his perfect daughter had married so far beneath her, she may as well have pulled me up from the dirt like a carrot, and not the expensive organic kind.
Of course, I hadn’t told him anything. I’d taken another swig of the scotch I loathed, but otherwise kept my mouth shut. As satisfying as it would’ve been, my father-in-law knowing the truth about my background had never been part of my long-term agenda. In any case, and despite Gideon’s efforts, things were working to plan. Better than. The smug bastard was dead.
And he wasn’t the only one.

Excerpted from Never Coming Home by Hannah Mary McKinnon. Copyright © 2022 by Hannah Mary McKinnon. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #HarlequinTradePublishingBlogTour @htp_books / #Excerpt : On A Quiet Street #OnAQuietStreet – Seraphina Nova Glass @SeraphinaNova @HarperCollins @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 ‘On A Quiet Street’ 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 :

Seraphina Nova Headshots Jan 2019Seraphina Nova Glass is a professor and playwright-in-residence at the University of Texas, Arlington, where she teaches film studies and playwriting. She holds an MFA in playwriting from Smith College, and she’s also a screenwriter and award-winning playwright. Seraphina has traveled the world using theatre and film as a teaching tool, living in South Africa, Guam and Kenya as a volunteer teacher, AIDS relief worker, and documentary filmmaker.

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Synopsis :

Title: On A Quiet Street
Author: Seraphina Nova Glass
ISBN: 9781525899751
Publication Date: May 17, 2022
Publisher: Graydon House Books

Seraphina Nova Glass author photo - verticalA simple arrangement. A web of deceit with shocking consequences.
Welcome to Brighton Hills: an exclusive, gated community set against the stunning backdrop of the Oregon coast. Home to doctors, lawyers, judges–all the most upstanding members of society. Nothing ever goes wrong here. Right?
Cora’s husband, Finn, is a cheater. She knows it; she just needs to prove it. She’s tired of being the nagging, suspicious wife who analyzes her husband’s every move. She needs to catch him in the act. And what better way to do that than to set him up for a fall?
Paige has nothing to lose. After she lost her only child in a hit-and-run last year, her life fell apart: her marriage has imploded, she finds herself screaming at baristas and mail carriers, and she’s so convinced Caleb’s death wasn’t an accident that she’s secretly spying on all everyone in Brighton Hills so she can find the murderer. So it’s easy for her to entrap Finn and prove what kind of man he really is.
But Paige and Cora are about to discover far more than a cheating husband. What starts as a little agreement between friends sets into motion a series of events neither of them could have ever predicted, and that exposes the deep fault lines in Brighton Hills. Especially concerning their mysterious new neighbor, Georgia, a beautiful recluse who has deep, dark secrets of her own…

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Excerpt :

ONE
Paige

Paige stands, watering her marigolds in the front yard and marvels at how ugly they are. The sweet-potato-orange flowers remind her of a couch from the 1970s, and she suddenly hates them. She crouches down, ready to rip them from their roots, wondering why she ever planted such an ugly thing next to her pristine Russian sage, and then the memory steals her breath. The church Mother’s Day picnic when Caleb was in the sixth grade. Some moron had let the potato salad sit too long in the sun, and Caleb got food poisoning. All the kids got to pick a flower plant to give to their moms, and even though Caleb was puking mayonnaise, he insisted on going over to pick his flower to give her. He was so proud to hand it to her in its little plastic pot, and she said they’d plant it in the yard and they’d always have his special marigolds to look at. How could she have forgotten?
She feels tears rise in her throat but swallows them down. Her dachshund, Christopher, waddles over and noses her arm: he always senses when she’s going to cry, which is almost all the time since Caleb died. She kisses his head and looks at her now-beautiful marigolds. She’s interrupted by the kid who de-livers the newspaper as he rides his bike into the cul-de-sac and tosses a rolled-up paper, hitting little Christopher on his back.
“Are you a fucking psychopath?” Paige screams, jumping to her feet and hurling the paper back at the kid, which hits him in the head and knocks him off his bike.
“What the hell is wrong with you, lady?” he yells back, scrambling to gather himself and pick up his bike.
“What’s wrong with me? You tried to kill my dog. Why don’t you watch what the fuck you’re doing?”
His face contorts, and he tries to pedal away, but Paige grabs the garden hose and sprays him down until he’s out of reach. “Little monster!” she yells after him.
Thirty minutes later, the police ring her doorbell, but Paige doesn’t answer. She sits in the back garden, drinking coffee out of a lopsided clay mug with the word Mom carved into it by little fingers. She strokes Christopher’s head and examines the ivy climbing up the brick of the garage and wonders if it’s bad for the foundation. When she hears the ring again, she hollers at them.
“I’m not getting up for you people. If you need to talk to me, I’m back here.” She enjoys making them squeeze around the side of the house and hopes they rub up against the poi-son oak on their way.
“Morning, Mrs. Moretti,” one of the officers says. It’s the girl cop, Hernandez. Then the white guy chimes in. She hates him. Miller. Of course they sent Miller with his creepy mustache. He looks more like a child molester than a cop, she thinks. How does anyone take him seriously?
“We received a complaint,” he says.
“Oh, ya did, did ya? You guys actually looking into cases these days? Actually following up on shit?” Paige says, still petting the dog and not looking at them.
“You assaulted a fifteen-year-old? Come on.”
“Oh, I did no such thing,” she snaps.
Hernandez sits across from Paige. “You wanna tell us what d id happen, then?”
“Are you planning on arresting me if I don’t?” she asks, and the two officers give each other a silent look she can’t read.
“His parents don’t want to press charges so…”
Paige doesn’t say anything. They don’t have to tell her it’s because they pity her.
“But, Paige,” Miller says, “we can’t keep coming out here for this sort of thing.”
“Good,” Paige says firmly. “Maybe it will free you up to do your real job and find out who killed my son.” Hernandez stands.
“Again, you know we aren’t the detectives on the—” But before Hernandez can finish, Paige interrupts, not wanting to hear the excuses.
“And maybe go charge the idiot kid for trying to kill my dog. How about that?”
Paige stands and goes inside, not waiting for a response. She hears them mumble something to one another and make their way out. She can’t restrain herself or force herself to be kind. She used to be kind, but now, it’s as though her brain has been rewired. Defensiveness inhabits the place where empathy used to live. The uniforms of the cops trigger her, too; it reminds her of that night, the red, flashing lights a nightmarish strobe from a movie scene. A horror movie, not real life. It can’t be her real life. She still can’t accept that.
The uniforms spoke, saying condescending things, pulling her away, calling her ma’am, and asking stupid questions. Now, when she sees them, it brings up regrets. She doesn’t know why this happens, but the uniforms bring her back to that night, and it makes her long for the chance to do all the things she never did with Caleb and mourn over the times they did have. It forces fragments of memories to materialize, like when he was six, he wanted a My Little Pony named Star Prancer. It was pink with purple flowers in its mane, and she didn’t let him have it because she thought she was protecting him from being made fun of at school. Now, the memory fills her with self-reproach.
She tries not to think about the time she fell asleep on the couch watching Rugrats with him when he was just a toddler and woke up to his screaming because he’d fallen off the couch and hit his head on the coffee table. He was okay, but it could have been worse. He could have put his finger in an outlet, pushed on the window screen and fallen to his death from the second floor, drunk the bleach under the sink! When this memory comes, she has to quickly stand up and busy herself, push out a heavy breath, and shake off the shame it brings. He could have died from her negligence that afternoon. She never told Grant. She told Cora once, who said every parent has a moment like that, it’s life. People fall asleep. But Paige has never forgiven herself. She loved Caleb more than life, and now the doubt and little moments of regret push into her thoughts and render her miserable and anxious all the time.
She didn’t stay home like Cora, she practically lived at the restaurant. She ran it for years. Caleb grew up doing his homework in the kitchen break room and helping wipe down tables and hand out menus. He seemed to love it. He didn’t watch TV all afternoon after school, he talked to new people, learned skills. But did she only tell herself that to alleviate the guilt? Would he have thrived more if he had had a more nor mal day-to-day? When he clung to her leg that first day of preschool, should she have forced him to go? Should he have let him change his college major so many times? Had he been happy? Had she done right by him?
And why was there a gun at the scene? Was he in trouble, and she didn’t know? Did he have friends she didn’t know about? He’d told her everything, she thought. They were close. Weren’t they?
As she approaches the kitchen window to put her mug down, she sees Grant pulling up outside. She can see him shaking his head at the sight of the cops before he even gets out of the car.
He doesn’t mention the police when he comes in. He silently pours himself a cup of coffee and finds Paige back out in the garden, where she has scurried to upon seeing him. He hands her a copy of the Times after removing the crossword puzzle for himself and then peers at it over his glasses.
He doesn’t speak until Christopher comes to greet him, and then he says, “Who wants a pocket cookie?” and takes a small dog biscuit from his shirt pocket and smiles down at little Christopher, who devours it.
This is how it’s been for the many months since Grant and Paige suffered insurmountable loss. It might be possible to get through it to the other side, but maybe not together, Paige said to Grant one night after one of many arguments about how they should cope. Grant wanted to sit in his old, leather recliner in the downstairs family room and stare into the wood-burning fireplace, Christopher at his feet, drinking a scotch and absorbing the quiet and stillness.
Paige, on the other hand, wanted to scream at everyone she met. She wanted to abuse the police for not finding who was responsible for the hit-and-run. She wanted to spend her days posting flyers offering a reward to anyone with information, even though she knew only eight percent of hit-and-runs are ever solved. When the world didn’t respond the way she needed, she stopped helping run the small restaurant they owned so she could just hole up at home and shout at Jeopardy! and paper boys. She needed to take up space and be loud. They each couldn’t stand how the other was mourning, so finally, Grant moved into the small apartment above their little Italian place, Moretti’s, and gave Paige the space she needed to take up.
Now—almost a year since the tragic day—Grant still comes over every Sunday to make sure the take-out boxes are picked up and the trash is taken out, that she’s taking care of herself and the house isn’t falling apart. And to kiss her on the cheek before he leaves and tell her he loves her. He doesn’t make observations or suggestions, just benign comments about the recent news headlines or the new baked mostaccioli special at the restaurant.
She sees him spot the pair of binoculars on the small table next to her Adirondack chair. She doesn’t need to lie and say she’s bird-watching or some nonsense. He knows she thinks one of the neighbors killed her son. She’s sure of it. It’s a gated community, and very few people come in and out who don’t live here. Especially that late at night. The entrance camera was conveniently disabled that night, so that makes her think it wasn’t an accident but planned. There was a gun next to Caleb’s body, but it wasn’t fired, and there was no gunshot wound. Something was very wrong with this scenario, and if the po-lice won’t prove homicide, she’s going to uncover which of her bastard neighbors had a motive.
She has repeated all of this to Grant a thousand times, and he used to implore her to try to focus on work or take a vacation—anything but obsess—and to warn her that she was destroying her health and their relationship, but he stopped responding to this sort of conspiracy-theory talk months ago.
“What’s the latest?” is all he asks, looking away from the binoculars and back to his crossword. She gives a dismissive wave of her hand, a sort of I know you don’t really want to hear about it gesture. Then, after a few moments, she says, “Danny Howell at 6758. He hasn’t driven his Mercedes in months.” She gives Grant a triumphant look, but he doesn’t appear to be following.
“Okay,” he says, filling in the word ostrich.
“So I broke into his garage to see what the deal was, and there’s a dent in his bumper.”
“You broke in?” he asks, concerned. She knows the How-ells have five vehicles, and the dent could be from a myriad of causes over the last year, but she won’t let it go.
“Yes, and it’s a good thing I did. I’m gonna go back and take photos. See if the police can tell if it looks like he might have hit a person.” She knows there is a sad desperation in her voice as she works herself up. “You think they can tell that? Like if the dent were a pole from a drive-through, they could see paint or the scratches or something, right? I bet they can tell.”
“It’s worth a shot,” he says, and she knows what he wants to say, also knows he won’t waste words telling her not to break into the garage a second time for photos. He changes the subject.
“I’m looking for someone to help out at the restaurant a few days a week—mostly just a piano player for the dinner crowd—but I could use a little bookkeeping and scheduling, too,” he says, and Paige knows it’s a soft attempt to distract her, but she doesn’t bite.
“Oh, well, good luck. I hope you find someone,” she says, and they stare off into the backyard trees.
“The ivy is looking robust,” he comments after a few minutes of silence.
“You think it’s hurting the foundation?” she asks.
“Nah,” he says, and he reaches over and places his hand over hers on the arm of her chair for a few moments before getting up to go. On his way out, he kisses her on the cheek, tells her he loves her. Then he loads the dishwasher and takes out the trash before heading to his car. She watches him reluctantly leaving, knowing that he wishes he could stay, that things were different.
When Paige hears the sound of Grant’s motor fade as he turns out of the front gate, she imagines herself calling him on his cell and telling him to come back and pick her up, that she’ll come to Moretti’s with him and do all the scheduling and books, that she’ll learn to play the piano just so she can make him happy. And, after all the patrons leave for the night, they’ll share bottles of Chianti on checkered tablecloths in a dimly lit back booth. They’ll eat linguini and clams and have a Lady and the Tramp moment, and they will be happy again.
Paige does not do this. She goes into the living room and closes the drapes Grant opened, blocking out the sunlight, then she crawls under a bunched-up duvet on the couch that smells like sour milk, and she begs for sleep.

Excerpted from On A Quiet Street by Seraphina Nova Glass, Copyright © 2022 by Seraphina Nova Glass. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

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)
*Terms and Conditions – UK 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

#Recensie @HarperCollinsHL : Niemands Kind #NiemandsKind – Ingrid von Oelhafen, Tim Tate @TimTateBooks

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is een hobby, recensies en andere boekgerelateerde berichten worden gratis geplaatst.
Ik ben dankbaar voor het ontvangen van een gratis boekexemplaar van de auteur/de uitgeverij in ruil voor mijn eerlijke mening. –

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De auteurs :

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Korte inhoud :

1186Aangrijpende memoires: als kind ontvoerd en opgegroeid in Hitler’s geheime Lebensborn-programma

In 1942 werd de negen maanden oude Erika Matko door SS-artsen weggehaald bij haar ouders uit Joegoslavië. Ze werd ontvoerd naar nazi-Duitsland en opgenomen in Heinrich Himmlers geheime project Lebensborn, het naziprogramma voor ‘germanisering’ van niet-Duitse kinderen. Met haar blonde haren en blauwe ogen was Erika de perfecte kandidaat om een ‘kind van Hitler’ te worden.
Erika groeit op als Ingrid von Oelhafen. Pas op latere leeftijd durft ze de zoektocht naar haar ware identiteit aan. Dan blijkt dat er in haar geboortedorp al die tijd een Erika Matko heeft geleefd; haar naam, haar ouders, haar leven.
Niemands kind onthult de geheimen van het Lebensbornproject, een van de gruwelijkste nazi-experimenten, en toont het voortdurende trauma van een half miljoen kinderen die de hoop van Hitlers Derde Rijk moesten zijn.

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Mijn mening :

Ik lees regelmatig boeken over WW2, maar moet eerlijk toegeven dat ik niet heel veel weet over het geheime project dat ‘lebensborn’ noemde.
Hier en daar had ik er natuurlijk al over gehoord en gelezen, maar net zoals met ‘Aktion T4’ zijn, in mijn ogen althans, de boeken schaars.
Ik was dan ook zeer geïnteresseerd in ‘Niemands Kind’ van Ingrid von (?) Oelhafen toen het werd uitgegeven en kon niet wachten om het te lezen.
Ik kan meteen zeggen dat ondanks dat ik het persoonlijk een zeer interessant boek vond, ik ook ergens lichtjes teleurgesteld werd.
Ik dacht namelijk, mede door de ondertitel, dat we het verhaal gingen krijgen van hoe het leven van Ingrid was tijdens de oorlog, dit werd echter heel summier weergegeven.
Daarnaast had ik, eerder stilistisch weliswaar, moeite met sommige zinsconstructies en ben ik er niet uit of het nu ‘Von’ of ‘von’ Oelhafen is.
Begrijp me echter niet verkeerd, dit is een echt wel een aangrijpend boek en het doel om mensen iets mee te geven over ‘Lebensborn’ is bijzonder goed geslaagd.
ik heb immers heel wat bijgeleerd, op een best leesbare manier, over dit project en wat de gevolgen hiervan waren en nu, vele jaren later, nog zijn.
Ik had het alleen net iets anders verwacht!

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#Blogtour #RandRBookTours @RRBookTours1 @Shanannigans81 / #PromoPost : Five Wives #FiveWives – Joan Thomas @JoanThomas_Sky @HarperCollinsCa #HistoricalFiction

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

Five Wives

Today I’m on the ‘Five Wives’ blogtour, organised by R&R Book Tours.
To promote this book I have some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Author Pic(2)Joan Thomas’s fourth novel Five Wives won Canada’s prestigious Governor General’s Award for Fiction. Described by the Globe and Mail as “brilliant, eloquent, curious, far-seeing,” it is an immersive dive into a real event, the disastrous attempt by five American families to move into the territory of the reclusive Waorani people in Ecuador in 1956.
Joan’s three previous novels have been praised for their intimate and insightful depictions of characters in times of rapid social change. Reading by Lightning, set in World War 2, won the 2008 Amazon Prize and a Commonwealth Prize. Curiosity, based on the life of the preDarwinist fossilist Mary Anning, was nominated for the 2010 Giller Prize and the IMPAC Dublin Award. The Opening Sky, a novel about a family navigating contemporary crises, won the 2014 McNally Robinson Prize and was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award.
Joan lives in Winnipeg, a prairie city at the geographical center of North America. Before beginning to write fiction, she was a longtime book reviewer. In 2014, Joan was awarded the Writers Trust of Canada’s prize for mid-career achievement.

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Synopsis :

Title: Five Wives
Publication Date: September 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins CA

Five Wives Cover ArtIn the 1950s, in the aftermath of World War II, five American families moved to Ecuador, determined to take the Christian gospel to a pre-Neolithic Amazonian tribe they called “the Auca.” The Waorani (proper name) were just as determined to maintain their isolation, and killed the missionary men at their second meeting. Four of the wives remained in Ecuador and one, Elisabeth Elliot, went further into the rainforest with her three-year old daughter to live with the Waorani.
Joan Thomas’s fictional treatment of this incident explores themes that are both eternal and immediate: faith and ideology, autonomy and self-protection, cultural understanding and misunderstanding, grief and doubt, and isolation. Five Wives rises out of immaculate research, including a visit to the ruins of the Elliot house in Ecuador, and out of the author’s own experience with the thinking and imperatives of evangelical missions. The novel sinks into the points of view of characters who are bound by past choices, yet make their own personal bargains in the midst of a crisis.

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#Recensie @HarperCollinsHL : Het Laatste Leven #HetLaatsteLeven – Mohlin & Nyström

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is een hobby, recensies en andere boekgerelateerde berichten worden gratis geplaatst.
Ik ben dankbaar voor het ontvangen van een gratis boekexemplaar van de auteur/de uitgeverij in ruil voor mijn eerlijke mening. –

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De auteurs :

294Peter Mohlin en Peter Nyström groeiden samen op in een klein Zweeds plaatsje. Ze schreven hun eerste verhaal toen ze tien jaar oud waren. Na succesvolle carrières als scenarioschrijvers en regisseurs voor theater en film besloten ze de draad weer op te pakken en samen hun eerste thriller te schrijven.

Korte inhoud :

jjjjjjjjScandinavische crime met internationale allure
Wanneer FBI-agent John Adderley na een mislukte infiltratie in een drugskartel met schotwonden in een ziekenhuis in Baltimore ontwaakt, weet hij dat hij zo snel mogelijk van de radar moet verdwijnen. Hij krijgt een nieuwe identiteit en vertrekt naar zijn geboorteland Zweden. Daar wordt hij onderdeel van het coldcaseteam van Karlstad dat zich bezighoudt met een tien jaar oude vermissingszaak.
De verdwijning van het tienermeisje Emelie Bjurwall is voor iedereen altijd een raadsel gebleven. De politie heeft destijds wel wat sporen op een hoge klif aangetroffen, maar het lichaam van de miljonairsdochter is nooit gevonden. Met zijn Amerikaanse mentaliteit kost het John moeite een plek te vinden tussen de Zweden, temeer omdat de zaak persoonlijk is: de hoofdverdachte is namelijk niemand minder dan zijn halfbroer.
John bijt zich in de zaak vast, maar moet tegelijkertijd op zijn hoede blijven, want als het drugskartel lucht krijgt van een onconventionele detective die zich ophoudt in een Zweeds provinciestadje is hij zijn leven niet meer zeker…

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Mijn mening :

Naast Amerikaanse thrillers lees ik ook al eens graag Zweedse thrillers, dus toen ik las dat dit een soort van combinatie was van beiden was ik al enthousiast voor ik goed en wel de korte inhoud had gelezen.
Ik weet het, het is niet echt slim om enkel daarop verder te gaan, maar een paar hoofdstukken in het boek en Mohlin & Nyström hadden mijn enthousiasme nog niet kunnen temperen.
Een echte voltreffer zo bleek, want zowel de verhaallijn in Amerika als die in Zweden was spannend en interessant te noemen.
Belangrijker nog, het boek was van een zeer goed geschreven niveau (of van een zeer goeie vertaling natuurlijk) en de hoofdrolspelers waren aimabel te noemen.
Dat het gaat om het debuut van dit duo is ook absoluut niet te merken, want het leest supervlot en lijkt geschreven door slechts een enkele auteur met heel wat kennis over de topics.
Zeer goed gedaan dus, al was het in mijn ogen nu niet echt heel erg spannend of gruwelijk en konden sommige personages misschien wel wat meer body gebruiken.
Dit gezegd zijnde, is het een fijne, typisch Zweedse toch wel, thriller, die na de cliffhanger toch wel druk legt op de auteurs om heel vlug dat vervolg in de boekenwinkels terecht te doen komen.
Ik kan alvast niet wachten op meerdere avonturen met John Adderly, al dan niet vertaald!

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