CELTICLADY'S REVIEWS   

23 September, 2017

JG Sumner - Web of Lies Promo Blitz!



Romantic Suspense
Date Published: August 8, 2017
Publisher: Limitless Publishing

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My perfect life is falling apart. My wife is leaving me, and I’m fighting for our marriage, our kids—for her. Then she walks through the door, and everything changes. Beautiful, sweet Beth. She’s much too young, but I can’t stay away. Despite our secrecy, someone knows. They’re using the information to destroy me. It’s not a matter of if my marriage will survive, or if I’ll be able to find happiness with my new love…it’s a matter surviving at all. I have to unravel this web of lies before it’s too late.

About the Author


J.G. is a Registered Nurse who went rogue. As good as she was at starting IV's, she enjoys writing the down the stories in her head even more. Most of the time the characters won't stop pestering her until she has them down on paper. J.G. can often be found with a glass of red wine or prosecco in front of her computer. She has a very dry sense of humor, and should never be taken too seriously. She loves to hear from her fans, and even those who aren't especially fond of her work. J.G. writes romantic suspense/thrillers including: A Shot in the Dark, Into the Light, The Surrender Trilogy including Surrender, Shattered, and Saved, Web of Lies and Wrecked.




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Once a Rebel by Mary Jo Putney Blog Tour and Giveaway!


Once a Rebel
by Mary Jo Putney
Genre: Historical Romance

“Putney’s endearing characters and warm-hearted stories never fail to inspire and delight.”
 —Sabrina Jeffries

A Rogue Redeemed

As Washington burns, Callista Brooke is trapped in the battle between her native England and her adopted homeland. She is on the verge of losing everything, including her life, when a handsome Englishman cuts through the violent crowd to claim that she is his. Callie falls into her protector's arms, recognizing that he is no stranger, but the boy she'd once loved, a lifetime ago.

Lord George Gordon Audley had been Callie’s best friend, and it was to Gordon she turned in desperation to avoid a loathsome arranged marriage. But the repercussions of his gallant attempt to rescue her sent Callie packing to Jamaica, and Gordon on a one way trip to the penal colony of Australia.

Against all odds, Gordon survived. Finding Callie is like reclaiming his tarnished soul, and once again he vows to do whatever is necessary to protect her and those she loves. But the innocent friendship they shared as children has become a dangerous passion that may save or destroy them when they challenge the aristocratic society that exiled them both….


Washington, DC
August 24, 1814

Usually the capital of the young United States bustled with energy and ambition, but four days after the British Army made its nearby landing, Washington was as deserted as a plague city. Callie had hardly slept at all the previous night. In the darkest hours, she saw the light of a fire to the northeast. A bridge burning, she guessed.

This morning she’d chosen her clothing carefully, deciding on a blue gown that was elegant but simple so that she would look like a modest lady deserving of respect. She also pulled her hair back into a prim knot since it was too colorful to be respectable.

Now it was late afternoon and the artillery that had boomed earlier had fallen menacingly silent. The nearby battle must be over, but what had happened? Callie moved restlessly around her house, oppressed by the silence and wishing desperately that there was something she could do.

She almost jumped out of her skin when her front door knocker was rapped, but it was a polite-sounding knock. With her loaded pistol in her left hand and concealed in the folds of her gown, she warily opened the door. A harried-looking man dressed as a clerk bowed slightly. “I’m Mr. Williams from the Treasury Department, ma’am. We’re trying to move as many records as we can out of the city. Do you have a horse and wagon my department can borrow? I’ll give you a receipt.”

Grateful that her household had left for Baltimore the morning after Callie had received news of the British landing, she said, “I’m sorry, my horses and cart are in Baltimore with my family.”

He sighed. “A wise decision, but I wish you had more horses and wagons!” He touched the brim of his hat. “You stay safe, ma’am.”

“You also, Mr. Williams.” She closed the door. He wasn’t the first to come by foraging for transportation for vital documents, but he might be the last.

She’d told her two young seamstresses to stay home with their families. Many of the few people left in town were women like herself who were staying in the hope that they could save their homes. It wasn’t a vain wish. Several women in towns around the Chesapeake had been able to persuade British officers not to torch their homes. It was worth the risk of her remaining here.

She was sewing trim on a gown when she heard shouting outside. Again she opened the door, and saw a battered militia officer trotting down the street. Seeing her, he called, “There’s been a battle at Bladensburg and the British routed us! They could be here in a matter of hours, so lock your doors and pray!”

Now that the danger was imminent, she felt surprisingly calm. She’d never been good at waiting. After locking her front door, she left the house through the kitchen and walked quickly down the side street to bring the news to her friend Edith Turner, an older widow who had been the first to welcome Callie to the city. With invasion imminent, Edith had taken in several elderly friends who didn’t have the strength to evacuate.

She answered the door at Callie’s first knock, her face worried. “There’s news?”

“Yes, a militiaman reported that the British routed our forces at Bladensburg.”

Edith gasped. “That’s only a few miles way!”

“The militiaman said to lock our doors and pray,” Callie said grimly. She gave her friend a swift hug. “That’s good advice. Stay safe, Edith!”

Her friend hugged her back. “You also, my dear.”

As Callie returned to the safety of her own solid brick home, she heard a booming explosion to the east, in the direction of the battle. At a guess, American forces had blown up another bridge to slow the British advance. Wryly she wondered if Americans were doing more damage to their capital than the British would have done.

Half an hour or so later, she peered out her front curtains and saw retreating militiamen trickling past. One looked over and saw the movement of her curtain. He spoke to the young man next to him, and the two turned in to her front walk. More knocking. They looked more frightened than threatening, so she opened the door, though once more she kept her pistol handy.

“Ma’am.” The taller of the two young men coughed, then started again. “Ma’am, could we have some water? Please? Me and my brother are like to keel over.”

“Of course. Get in the shade of that tree and I’ll bring you some,” she replied.

Guessing there would be more men needing water, she brought two full buckets and a pair of ladles. “Help yourselves. There’s more where this came from.”

“The only Americans who knew how to fight were Commodore Barney’s flotilla men,” the taller brother said bitterly after he thirstily gulped down a ladleful of water. “They been fightin’ the British Navy up and down the bay for months. They knew how to stand their ground! I heard some of ’em say they’d keep fighting all through the streets of Washington.”

Seeing their humiliation, Callie said quietly, “If soldiers aren’t experienced and the whole company collapses and retreats, there’s no point in individual soldiers staying to fight. Your mother wouldn’t like it if you got yourself killed for no good reason.”

“The lady is right, Jem,” the shorter brother said. “Ma would kill us again if she thought we was that stupid.” He drank deeply, then poured a ladleful of water over his head to cool himself down. “We ran today, but by God, we’ll fight again another day!”

“They’ll not take Baltimore!” Jem used the ladle to fill his empty pewter canteen. “Thank you kindly, ma’am. We’ll be on our way again. It’s a long hike north.”

Callie wished them well and refilled the water buckets, leaving them on the edge of her lawn with the ladles so other retreating soldiers could drink. Then she withdrew into her house again, pulled the curtains, and waited.

The summer days were long in August, and it wasn’t yet full dark when she heard the sound of marching men. She took her pistol in hand again. A single shot wouldn’t be of any use against an army, but she felt better for having a weapon to hand.

Needing to see, she pulled her curtains open a sliver and peered out. A group of several dozen soldiers was marching past her house with mounted officers in the lead. They were heading toward the capital building and flying a white flag of truce.

She sighed with relief. Perhaps the British wanted to negotiate a ransom that would save the city from being destroyed.

Being female, Callie thought a ransom in return for sparing the capital was a fine idea, though she suspected that many men had too much pride to give money to the enemy even to save the city. But even if the government was willing to be reasonable, she wasn’t sure there was anyone left in Washington with the authority to negotiate.

She studied the riders. That erect man in the lead wore the insignia of a major general and was surely Robert Ross, the commander of the army forces. One of Wellington’s top generals in the Peninsular wars, he was said to be a just and honorable man who didn’t wreak havoc on civilians. But the man riding next to him . . .

She frowned. An admiral of the Royal Navy rode be-side Ross. That must be George Cockburn, who had been named the most hated man in America because of his months spent slashing and burning up and down the Chesapeake Bay. He’d destroyed whole towns as punishment for American destruction in Canada.

It was said that Cockburn’s older brother had died fighting the rebels during the American Revolution, so the admiral had a very personal hatred for Americans. Callie hoped that since they were on land, General Ross had command over Cockburn.

The troops were moving in good order despite having fought and marched on a very long, hot day. The group was directly in front of her house when she heard noise from upstairs. Footsteps?

She went from nervous to near panic in the space of a heartbeat. The lock on the kitchen door at the back of the house was a simple one and wouldn’t resist a determined housebreaker, and the servants’ stairs ran up from the kitchen. The noise of marching troops must have drowned out any sounds until now.

Clutching her pistol, she headed for the stairs to investigate, but before she could start up, a ragged blast of rifle shots boomed from directly over her head. Hell and damnation! Some American soldiers weren’t giving up, and they had chosen her house as a sniper post!

Mary Jo Putney is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has written over 50 novels and novellas. A ten-time finalist for the Romance Writers of America RITA, she has won the honor twice and is on the RWA Honor Roll for bestselling authors. She has been awarded two Romantic Times Career Achievement Awards, four NJRW Golden Leaf awards, plus the NJRW career achievement award for historical romance. Though most of her books have been historical romance, she has also published contemporary romances, historical fantasy, and young adult paranormal historicals. 

Mary Jo Putney, Jo Beverley, Joanna Bourne, Patricia Rice, Nicola Cornick, Cara Elliott, Anne Gracie, Susan King are the ladies otherwise known as the Word Wenches. These eight authors have written a combined 231 novels and 74 novellas. They’ve won awards such as the RITAS, RT Lifetime Achievement award, RT Living Legend, and RT Reviewers Choice award. Several of them are regulars on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists.




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Twins The Dragon's Dove Chronicles, the novella genesis of book 6 by Kim Iverson Headlee Book Tour!

TWINS
The Dragon's Dove Chronicles, the novella genesis of book 6
by Kim Iverson Headlee

Prophesy by A.E. Via The King & Alpha, #1 Book Tour and Giveaway!

PROPHESY

by A.E. Via The King & Alpha, #1 
Publication Date: September 23, 2017 
Genres: Adult, M/M, Romance, Paranormal

NEW RELEASE!

SYNOPSIS:

An Enemies to Lovers Shifter, Vampire True Mates story.
Justice Volkov is the youngest Alpha Zenith to ever lead the wolf shifters. Following in his father’s large paw prints was a responsibility he met head on. Now at age thirty-three, he is alpha of the alphas. As a direct descendant of the original Siberian pack, his wolf is bigger and stronger than Justice, himself is sometimes able to control.
“His wolf howled long and hard but Justice kept it inside. It felt like a bass drum beating against his rib cage. The harsh breaths, angry snarls and the determined pacing inside him was overtaking him. All the while… his mate kept calling.”
Justice takes his role of leadership and his legacy very seriously. He has little time for romance, not to mention a true mate. His packs are his priority. With a human government trying to regulate them, an uprising of rogue shifters, and a violent team of scientists trying to experiment on them, Justice has his hands way too full.
Chadwick ‘Wick’ Bentley is not enthusiastic when the captain of his escort tells him he has to leave his comfortable London home and go back to the States. As the Vampire King, he has no choice but to get his species back in line before they cause anymore chaos. At over two-hundred years old, Wick is no one to trifle with, but his smooth, charismatic manner makes him quite unique, despite the negative reputation vampires have. Wick has had nothing but time up to this point. He doesn’t feel the need to make issues pressing. Nothing is urgent in his life. Until he meets Justice. His beloved.
“Natural enemies can’t be mates.” Or so Justice thought. He knows his skepticism and rejection is hurting his mate, so while he fights their connection, Wick gets help from a source very close to Justice to help him win his beloved’s heart. Wick is a force all on his own, but when he’s blessed with a special gift from the Mother herself, not even Justice’s powerful wolf can prevent the prophesy from being fulfilled.
This story DOES NOT contain/mention MPREG. No multiple pairings. It does not end on a cliffhanger and has an HEA.
Warning: This book is MM paranormal: If you DO NOT like hot, alpha men shifting into large wolves, or vampires feeding from their mates, this may not be your read.

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SNEAK PEAK - EXCERPT

His animal growled and snarled inside him. Justice grunted and cursed while he fought to keep his wolf under control. What was wrong with him? What the hell was coming? He could feel it as sure as he could feel his beating heart, his racing pulse and his mighty wolf trying to get out and explore. He’d never had to reign in his animal so fiercely. Justice was finally able to open his eyes, not realizing they were squeezed shut in concentration.
“Justice! You’re forcing a lot of power, man.” Mac’s strong voice cut over the incessant presence trying to reach his mind.
Justice growled again. Something’s in my head. “Clear the room.” Justice’s voice was strained, spitting his words through clenched teeth. His wolf was clawing at him, ripping him apart, wanting out.
“Justice you’re scaring me. I can feel you fighting.”
He could hear his baby sister begging but he couldn’t focus on his siblings when he was barely keeping himself together. It had to be the Vampire King doing something to him. If Justice shifted and went crazy right here in a police headquarters, only the heavens knew what would happen to his people. “Get my family out of here.” Justice grabbed Alek’s arm in an authoritative grip. “Everyone. Out. Now.”
“We’re your betas. We won’t leave you, Justice,” Taleb snarled, looking in the same direction as Justice.
“Alek!” Justice thundered. He needed him to act for him.
“You heard your Alpha, Taleb. Warren, get them in the RV and back on the Humboldt pack lands now! Protect them with your lives,” Alek barked to the enforcers, who immediately began to shuffle Justice’s sister and his younger brothers out of the room and to the safety of their vehicle. Alek watched them down the hall until they turned out of view. His brother looked up and down the corridor before dipping back inside the room and locking the door.
“I think the Vampire King just turned the corner. Is it him doing this to you? I’ll kill him right now,” Alek growled.
“No!” Justice’s voice was sharper and stronger than he intended. He was still leaning hard against the wall farthest from the door for support, holding both clenched fists against his chest as if that alone could keep his wolf from bursting free. Justice closed his eyes and tried to center himself. He needed to breathe, relax. But with each second, the feelings intensified, an all-encompassing entity in his head.
“I can feel you too.”
“Oh shit. Was that you, Alek?” Justice grabbed his brother’s arm and yanked him to face him. “Did you just speak to me?”
“What? No? I am speaking to you now. Justice, goddamnit! You’re pushing too much energy.” Alek released a pained grunt. His brother looked like he wanted to break the window behind them and just get them the hell out of there. He’d never seen Justice behave this way, so out of control, and wasn’t sure what he was about to be faced with, but knew he may have to fight it alone because Justice was in a complete state of disorder.
It was an accented, smooth voice. “Something. Someone just said—” Then he smelled it. That faint, delicious scent that appeared last night was back, only it wasn’t diluted by nature’s elements. This time it was full strength, concentrated, and like nothing he’d ever smelled before. Impressive and so damn compelling. Justice’s thick cock pushed against his loose jeans and his wolf howled inside him, fighting to break free. His animal was so strong. Justice gritted his teeth together and hung on. Oh, Mother… please. Can’t… it just can’t. Justice heard footsteps right outside the door and his body began to shake from effort.
“Justice,” Alek warned. “You gotta tell me what’s going on, brother, so I can help you.”
How the hell was he supposed to explain this?
Justice saw the knob jiggle for a second before it was completely ripped from the door. Neither he nor Alek flinched at the show of strength. They had strength of their own. Justice thought dozens of vampires would storm the room, but only two walked in and Justice knew exactly which one was in his head. The Vampire King. The sexy, beautiful one. But how?

ABOUT A.E. VIA


A.E. Via has been a best-selling author in the beautiful gay romance genre for four years now, but she’s no stranger to MM. She’s been an avid reader of LGBTQ Romance for over fifteen years before she picked up her laptop to place her own kiss on this genre. She’s also the founder and owner of Via Star Wings Books, having published a couple great new up and coming MM authors.
A.E. has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Virginia Wesleyan College that she used to start her own paralegal firm after she graduated in 2008. She spent five years preparing and filing bankruptcy petitions for struggling blue collar workers who couldn’t afford to file with a lawyer. It was a rewarding and satisfying career… but another path called to her. Writing.
A.E.’s writing embodies everything from hopelessly romantic to adventure, to scandalous. Stories that often include intriguing edges and twists that take readers to new, thought-provoking depths.
Now that she’s gotten over her 10 books published hump, she’s kind of known now for her hardcore, play rough and love hard, bad boy, alphas. However, she does like to push herself to step out of her comfort zone, exploring with different tropes, but she won’t push herself into a whole other genre. She’s head over heels for MM romance and has tons of more hot stories to tell.
Be sure to visit Adrienne on her social media pages and subscribe to her newsletter to never miss another release date! Go to A.E. Via’s official website http://authoraevia.com for more detailed information on how to contact her, follow her, or a sneak peak on upcoming work, free reads, VSWB submissions, and where she’ll appear next.

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The Last Man by Tobias Wade Book Spotlight!



Name: The Last Man
Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KMFBKAC

Description:
Embark upon the fantasy story of enlightenment through these seven surreal worlds.

Test your bravery to pass the land of fear and pain.
Resist temptations to pass the land of pleasure.
Clear your mind to pass the land of illusion.
Trust your heart to pass the land of love and loss.
Keep your word to pass the land of truth and lies.
Know yourself to pass the land of identity.
Forsake the world to pass the land of attachments.

All the while pursuing a desperate course to the center of the Earth where a primordial force awaits its freedom with the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy. An epic and insightful adventure filled with magic, monsters, dragons, betrayal, and transcendence!
Farris did not believe in the old stories. Grandmother Rochette spoke of such strange things: monsters and magic and impossible heroes who could only exist in legend. But when Tom, her little brother, is kidnapped by the same monsters Grandmother spoke of, Farris is forced to change her view of reality in order to save him. 

Following Tom and his captors sends Farris below the crust of the earth, where layer after layer of new worlds await. She travels both within the mind and without, taking a path of harrowing adventure and personal enlightenment as she tries to free Tom. Unlikely companions join her, from her faithful goat Bumble to Gloria the magical fish, a seemingly trustworthy dweller of the Brass City, and Sasha … a man who knows far more about her than he should. 

THE LAST MAN is the first volume in a trilogy of young adult fantasy adventures sure to delight fans of C.S. Lewis and Phillip Pullman





Author Website: TobiasWade.Com
Author Bio: Former neuroscience researcher, born again novelist. During my studies, it struck me as odd that I could learn so much about why humans behave without understanding the intricacies of human nature. It occurred to me I learned more about the depths of human experience from reading Dostoyevsky than I ever had from my text books, and I was inspired to write.
After several years of selling scripts in Los Angeles, I have turned my focus toward my own publications. Full time novelist, script writer, and horror blogger.

22 September, 2017

Alpha Squad: The Complete Collection by Lorelei Moone Alpha Squad, #1-4 Book Tour and Giveaway!


Alpha Squad: The Complete Collection

by Lorelei Moone Alpha Squad, #1-4 
Publication Date: September 22, 2017 
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Shifters, Boxed Set

NEW RELEASE!

Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/2xyuTUv
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2hmM8yD
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/2wb18Wm

SYNOPSIS:

It has only been a few months since humanity found out about the various shifters that live among them. This brave new world is not without its challenges; neither for the humans or the shifters. Alpha Squad is formed to help law enforcement agencies deal with shifter related matters, and not a moment too soon! Follow the brave men and women of the squad as they try to come to terms with their new reality, catch criminals and find love along the way.
Boot Camp Bear shifter Eric King is asked to join Alpha Squad; a task force meant to promote cooperation between shifters and humans in law enforcement, but there are problems: Is Alpha Squad even a serious initiative? And how will he focus on his training when his inner bear insists that the squad leader is his mate?
Friends & Foes Alpha Squad has received its very first assignment and bear shifter Adam King is excited to jump head-first into the action. Upon investigating a string of seemingly shifter related murders, he finds himself torn between his job and the local police’s main suspect; Felicity Weir; female bear shifter and Adam’s fated mate…
Infiltrator For the past six months, Thomas Blackwood has been serving two masters: he’s been an active part of Alpha Squad, but only on his old alpha’s say-so. When he finds himself stuck in between two sets of clashing orders, he must make a choice: who does he truly serve? And what would the woman of his dreams, Private Callahan, think of him if she knew he was a traitor?
Showdown Upon joining Alpha Squad, bear shifter hybrid Sean McMillan realizes there’s a lot more to being a shifter than occasionally sprouting some fur. His first mission: a double murder. That shouldn’t be too hard for the experienced former police detective, but he didn’t count on coming across lab assistant Erin Reid who shows an unusual amount of interest in him. Strangely, the feeling is mutual…

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ABOUT LORELEI MOONE


Lorelei Moone is an up-and-coming author of paranormal romance based in London. A lover of all things sweet, and caffeinated, when she’s not writing about sexy bear shifters and their strong-willed curvaceous love interests, Lorelei can be found baking cookies or cakes for her family.

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J.G McKenney - The Book Knights Promo Blitz!



YA Fantasy
Date Published: July 5, 2017

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When her parents are condemned to death by Morgan Fay for the crime of reading, Arti Penderhagen becomes a fugitive. Hunted by Mordred, the sadistic police captain who recites poetry to enhance his physical strength, Arti escapes to the Isle of Avalon, a sanctuary for outlaws. There she meets an old librarian named Merl who tells her about the Grail Tome, an ancient book in Morgan Fay's possession that can alter the course of history. Can Arti steal the book in time to save her family?


Excerpt

The fire crept across the floor, devouring paper and carpet, gaining momentum as it spread. A thick, black smoke filled the room, rolling over itself like a storm cloud, ravenous flames growling hungrily as they climbed. A moment later, there was another sound: a deep, drum-like thudding, barely audible above the burning tempest. A lower section of the shelf separated from the wall, and a row of hard covers slapped the floor. More books cascaded to the carpet, and a groping hand emerged.
The girl coughed violently, retching as she labored to breath amid the thickening blanket of smoke. She squeezed out from behind the book case, reaching back to pull a duffel bag from the cavity, pushing aside the dish, cup, and utensils her father had cast into the void in the rush to hide her. The bag held provisions, preparations made for a day they prayed would never come.
Making sure her vidlink was in her pocket, she lifted the hood of her sweatshirt and with eyes clenched shut, crawled across the floor, dragging the duffel bag. Scalding heat seared her throat as she gasped for air, her face and hands feeling like they were on fire. Gulping a mouthful of acrid smoke, an intense wave of nausea washed over the girl, and she fell against the wall of books. She was helpless now, certain she was going to die.
As the firestorm raged, her mind floated away from the horror. She was a young child again, sitting on her father’s lap, following his finger as it traced words on the page. She giggled and squirmed with excitement as the story unfolded, peeking ahead, eager to find out how the tale would end. Her mother leaned toward her from the adjacent chair, her smiling face awash in the light of the reading lamp. This is our secret, Arti. You can’t tell anyone. She could hear herself answer, I promise.
When the story was done, she reached across with her tiny hand and closed the book’s cover. She smiled up at her parents expectantly, waiting to say the ritual words together. And they lived happily ever after.
From somewhere in the cloud of her delirium, Arti Penderhagen heard the books on the shelves call to her, drawing her back to the present. Words echoed from their pages, guiding her hand along their bindings, showing her the way out.


About the Author


J.G. (John) McKenney is a writer and teacher. His first novel, EON'S DOOR, received the 2012 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Award, and was also a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award.






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Pretend You're Safe by Alexandra Ivy Book Tour and Giveaway!



Pretend You're Safe
by Alexandra Ivy
Genre: Romantic Suspense

He Sees You

First came the floods. Then came the bodies. The victims—strangled, then buried along the shores of the Mississippi—have finally been unearthed, years after they disappeared. He remembers every satisfying kill . . . each woman’s terror and agony. But there’s only one he truly wanted. And fate has brought her within reach again . . .

He Knows You

Jaci Patterson was sixteen when she found the first golden locket on her porch. Inside were a few strands of hair wrapped around a scrap of bloodstained ribbon. Though the “gifts” kept arriving, no one believed her hunch that a serial killer was at work. Now Jaci has returned home . . . and the nightmare is starting once more.

And He’ll Never Let You Go

Back then, Rylan Cooper was an arrogant deputy sheriff convinced that Jaci was just an attention-seeking teen. It was a fatal mistake. There’s a murderer in their midst, someone determined to settle old scores and keep playing a twisted game. And it won’t end until Jaci is his forever . . .

“Alexandra Ivy gives readers a nice balance of romance and suspense in her fast-paced, well-plotted novel.” --Kat Martin, New York Times bestselling author

EXCERPT 1:

“Morning, Birdie.” Jaci stepped aside as the older woman efficiently began to place the muffins on a large glass tray that would be set on the counter next to the cash register. Many of the diners liked to have a cup of coffee and muffin once they were done with breakfast.

“Thank God you’re here.”

“I’m sorry I’m late. The electricity didn’t come on until almost five.”

Finishing, Birdie grabbed the tray and bustled across the kitchen to hand it to her assistant.

“Take this to the counter,” Birdie commanded before turning back to Jaci with a roll of her eyes. “The natives have been threatening to revolt without their favorite muffins.”

Jaci smiled, pleased by Birdie’s words. She’d learned to bake at her grandmother’s side, but it wasn’t until she’d inherited her grandparents’ farm that she’d considered using her skills to help her make ends meet.

Leaning to the side, she glanced through the large, open space where the food was passed through to the waitresses.

The place hadn’t changed in the past ten years. The walls were covered with faded paneling that was decorated with old license plates and a mounted fish caught from the nearby river. The floor was linoleum and the drop ceiling was lit with fluorescent lights.

There were a half dozen tables arranged around the square room with one long table at the back where a group of farmers showed up daily to drink coffee and share the local gossip.

At the moment, every seat was filled with patrons wearing buff coveralls, camo jackets, and Cardinal baseball hats.

Jaci released a slow whistle. “Damn, woman. That’s quite a crowd,” she said, a rueful smile touching her lips. The rains meant that no one was able to get into the fields. “At least someone can benefit from this latest downpour.”

“Benefit?” Birdie sucked in a sharp breath, her hands landing on her generous hips. “I hope you’re not suggesting that I’m the sort of person who enjoys benefiting from a tragedy, Jaci Patterson,” she chastised. “People want to get together to discuss what’s happened and I have the local spot for them to gather.”

Jaci blinked, caught off guard by her friend’s sharp reprimand. Then, absorbing the older woman’s words, she stiffened in concern.

“Tragedy?” she breathed.

Birdie’s features softened. “You haven’t heard?”

Jaci felt a tremor of unease. She’d already lost her father to a drunk driver before she was even born, and then her grandmother when she was seventeen. Her grandfather had passed just two years ago. She was still raw from their deaths.

“No, I haven’t heard anything. Like I said, the electric-ity went out last night and as soon as it came back on I started baking. Has someone died?”

“I’m afraid so.”

“Who?”

“No one knows for sure yet,” Birdie told her.

Jaci blinked in confusion. “How could they not know?” “The levee broke in the middle of the night.”

“Yeah, I figured that out when I discovered that the road was closed. . . . Oh hell.” She tensed as her unease became sharp-edged fear. The levee had broken before and flooded fields, but the neighbor to her south had recently built a new house much closer to the river. “It didn’t reach Frank’s home, did it?”

Birdie shook her head. “Just the back pasture.”

“Then what are you talking about?”

“When Frank went to check on the breach, he saw something floating in the middle of his field.”

Jaci cringed. Poor Frank. He must have been shocked out of his mind.

“Oh my God. It was a dead person?”

“Yep. A woman.”

“He didn’t recognize her?”

Birdie leaned forward and lowered her voice, as if anyone could hear over the noise from the customers, not to mention the usual kitchen clatter.

“He said it was impossible to know if she was familiar or not.”

“I don’t suppose he wanted to look too close,” Jaci said. If she’d spotted a body in her flooded field she would have jumped into her Jeep and driven away like a maniac.

“It wasn’t that. He claimed the woman was too . . .” Birdie hesitated, as if she was searching for a more deli-cate way to express what Frank had said. “Decomposed to make out her features.”

“Decomposed?” A strange chill inched down Jaci’s spine.

“That’s what he’s saying.”

Jaci absently glanced through the opening into the outer room where she could see Frank surrounded by a group of avid listeners.

When Birdie had said a body, she’d assumed it had been someone who’d been caught in the flood. Maybe she’d fallen in when she was walking along the bank. Or her car might have been swept away when she tried to cross a road with high water.

But she wouldn’t be decomposed, would she?

“I’ve heard that water does strange things to a body,” Jaci at last said.

Birdie tugged Jaci toward the back door as her assistant moved to open the fridge. Clearly there was more to the story.

“The body wasn’t all that Frank discovered.”

Jaci stilled. “There was more?”

“Yep.” Birdie whispered, as if it was a big secret. Which was ridiculous. There were no such things as secrets in a town the size of Heron. “Frank called the sheriff, and while he was waiting for Mike to arrive he swears he caught sight of a human skull stuck in the mud at the edge of the road.” Birdie gave a horrified shudder. “Can you imagine? Two dead people virtually in his backyard? Gives me the creeps just thinking about it.”

Jaci’s mouth went dry. “Did Frank say anything else?”

Birdie shrugged. “Just that the sheriff told him to leave and not to talk about what he found.” Birdie snorted. “Like anyone wouldn’t feel the need to share the fact they found a dead body and a skull in their field.”

A familiar dread curdled in the pit of Jaci’s stomach.

She was being an idiot. Of course she was. This had nothing to do with her past. Or the mysterious stalker who had made her life hell.

Still . . .

She couldn’t shake the sudden premonition that slith-ered down her spine.

“Is Mike still out at Frank’s?” she abruptly demanded, referring to the sheriff, Mike O’Brien.

“Yeah.” Birdie sent her a curious glance. “I think he was waiting for the Corps of Engineers to get out there so they could discuss how long it would take for the field to drain.” She wrinkled her nose. “I suppose they need to make sure there aren’t any other bodies.”

More bodies.

A fierce urgency pounded through her. She might be overreacting, but she wasn’t going to be satisfied until she spoke to Mike.

“I need to go.”

“You haven’t had your coffee,” Birdie protested.

“Not this morning, thanks, Birdie.”

“Okay.” The older woman stepped back. “I’ll get your money and—”

“I’ll stop by later to get it.” Jaci turned to pull open the back door.

Instantly a chilled blast of air swept around them.

“What’s your rush?” Birdie demanded.

“I have some questions that need answers,” she said.

“With who?” Birdie demanded, making a sound of impatience as Jaci darted into the alley and jogged toward her waiting Jeep. “Jaci?”

Not bothering to answer, Jaci jumped into the vehicle and put it in gear. Water trickled down her neck from her wet hair, but when she’d gone into the diner she’d left the engine running with the heater blasting at full steam.

Which meant she was a damp mess, but she wasn’t completely miserable.

Angling the vent in a futile effort to dry her soggy sweatshirt, Jaci stomped on the accelerator and headed back toward her house. This time, however, she swerved around the barrier that blocked the road, squishing her way through the muddy path that led along the edge of Frank’s property.

It was less than ten miles, but by the time she was pulling her vehicle to a halt, her stomach had managed to clench into a tight ball of nerves.

It didn’t matter how many times she told herself that this had nothing to do with the past, she couldn’t dismiss her rising tide of fear.

Alexandra Ivy is the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of romantic suspense, paranormal and erotic romance. She has also written Regency historicals under the name Deborah Raleigh. A five-time RT Book Award Finalist, Ivy has received much acclaim for her Guardians of Eternity, ARES Security, Immortal Rogues and Sentinels series. She lives with her family in Missouri and can be found online at AlexandraIvy.com.




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