Monday, February 19, 2018

HIDDEN TRUTH SERIES!



Convenient Lies

Hidden Truth Book 1
by
Robin Patchen
Genre:
Christian Romantic Suspense

420
pages

Of course, no matter where in the world she was, she could never have
stayed hidden, not as long as he was willing to kill innocent people
until he found her. The question was, had he stopped killing people,
or was she next on his list?”


She married her enemy…

When investigative journalist Reagan McAdams discovers her new husband is
part of an international crime family, she flees Paris with their
newborn and returns to her childhood home in New Hampshire, where
she’ll gather her inheritance before she disappears forever. She’ll
do whatever it takes to protect her son from his criminal father.

He never quit loving her.

Detective Brady Thomas discovers Rae is back and in trouble, and he plans to
protect her and her son, whether she wants his help or not.

The death toll rises.

But when Rae's husband starts killing people to smoke her out, she has to
decide what—and who—she’ll have to sacrifice to save her son.



CONVENIENT LIES Excerpt:

Rae was turning the page when a creak startled her. She set the album on the bed beside her, then listened.

A whispered word. “Hurry.”

Rae’s pulse raced. Had Julien found her? Had she waited a day too long?

She slid off the bed and tiptoed down the hall and into the bedroom where her phone was charging. She closed the door behind her, then grabbed the cell and dialed 9-1-1.

“What’s your emergen—”

“There someone in my house,” she whispered. “At least two people.” She stepped in front of the cradle, stared at the door, and recited her address.

After the operator had asked all the required questions, Rae dropped the phone on the bed. She flipped on the closet light. The baby snored gently while Rae searched her old closet for something, anything... She grabbed an award she’d won for an article in the local paper—an oversize brass pen on a stone stand. That might do some damage. She returned to her place between the door and her child, lifted the award in her right hand, and prepared to swing it.

Seconds ticked by. She heard nothing. No voices. No footsteps. No doors opening or closing. Minutes passed. Years. She pleaded with the silence. Protect Johnny, please. Just keep him safe.






Twisted Lies
Hidden Truth Book 2

398 pages

Marisa
peered down the stairs, toward the street, at the sidewalk. Her
sister and her daughter had been there just a moment before. They
should have been staring back up at her, waving, smiling. But they
were gone.”

She thought they’d never find her…


Marisa Vega’s life as an adoptive mom in a tiny Mexican village isn’t
what she’d dreamed while growing up in New York, but as the target
of a man who’s convinced she stole millions from him, Marisa
believes hiding is her only way to stay alive. When her daughter is
snatched and held for ransom, Marisa must discover who really stole
the money in order to rescue her. 

He swore he’d never play the hero again.


Months after being kidnapped, tortured, and left with PTSD, Nate Boyle is
ready to live a quiet life in rural New Hampshire. When the source of
his breakout newspaper article—and the woman who haunts his
dreams—begs for help, he gets pulled into a riddle that’s proved
unsolvable for nearly a decade. 

Can Nate and Marisa unravel the years-old mystery and bring her daughter home?


Romance, suspense, and a darling four-year-old girl you’ll fall in love with.  
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Generous Lies
Hidden Truth Book 3

390 pages

A pistol pressed against his son’s temple. A dark hand came into
view, then an arm. Then a man came from behind the door and lifted
his finger to his lips.”


He had no idea it was so bad.

Former FBI agent Garrison Kopp suspected his teenage son was in trouble, but
a midnight summons to the ER reveals the drug problem is more
serious than he thought. Desperate to get his son away from negative
influences, he asks a beautiful and kind new friend who owns rental
properties for a place to stay. 

She’ll help, as long as she doesn’t have to risk anything.

Vacation homeowner Samantha Messenger is happy to provide Garrison and his son
a lake cabin where they can regroup. She helps him search for a good
rehab facility and tries not to hope for more than friendship. After
what she’s been through, more isn’t an option, no matter what her
heart wants.

Big trouble comes in tiny packages. 

Sparks fly between them as Sam and Garrison work together to help the
resistant teen. 

But that becomes the least of their problems when a package planted in
Garrison’s car lures enemies to the idyllic cabin on the lake. With
their lives—and love—on the line, can they protect all they hold dear?





Innocent Lies
Hidden Truth Book 4

"Kelsey didn’t want to reach for Carlos. Didn’t want to willingly walk to
him. But she had to do what she could for Eric. Maybe Carlos would
let her see him one last time. She took Carlos’s hand, swallowed a
sob, and stepped into the house."


A lost little boy steals his heart.


When Eric finds eight-year-old Daniel alone in the woods, he has no idea
where the boy came from or how he's survived the wintery New
Hampshire weather. He figures once he hands the boy off to child
services, his part in Daniel's drama will be over. He couldn't be
more wrong.

She’ll do anything to keep her son safe. 


Kelsey  sneaks into Nutfield with a goal and a secret, but when she's
arrested and sees Eric, her first and only love, all her plans to
expose her enemy fall apart. 

The past catches up with them.


Together, Eric and Kelsey fight to protect Daniel, an innocent child caught in
a dangerous game. Can Eric help Kelsey bring down her enemies without
risking his heart...again? Will Kelsey have to walk away from the
only man she's ever loved...again?

* Apple
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Robin Patchen writes contemporary Christian suspense, romance, and romantic
suspense. Her books are often set in New England, where she grew up.
She creates strong, protective heroes and intelligent, courageous
heroines. 


Aside from her family and her Savior, Robin Patchen has two loves—writing
and traveling. If she could combine them, she’d spend a lot of time
sitting in front of her laptop at sidewalk cafes and ski lodges and
beachside burger joints. She’d visit every place in the entire
world—twice, if possible—and craft stories and tell people about
her Savior. Alas, time is too short and money is too scarce for Robin
to traipse all over the globe, even if her husband and kids wanted to
go with her. So she stays in Oklahoma, shares the Good News when she
can, and writes to illustrate the unending grace of God through the
power and magic of story.



Write What Who You Know

By Robin Patchen

They say write what you know. Maybe I’ve led a boring life, but I don’t know all that much interesting stuff. I’ve covered some subjects I know well. For instance, in the third book in the Hidden Truth series, Generous Lies, I wrote about a father trying to rescue his son from drug addiction. Unfortunately, I navigated that particular minefield with my older son. (Thank God Nick has been sober for over two years and is doing great!)

I’ve written a number of stories with heroines who have events in their pasts they’re ashamed of, and perhaps many of their feelings stem from my own.

But honestly, I’ve lived a pretty mundane life. I can’t say that when I wrote about an international crime family in Convenient Lies or a company filled with crooked mortgage brokers in Twisted Lies that I was writing from experience. (By the way, if you’d like to sample my writing for free, click here to download Convenient Lies for free.)

Usually, I don’t write what I know. But I do write WHO I know.

Not that my characters are carbon copies of people in my life—please don’t start looking for my best friends or worst enemies in my books. But often, I’ll give a character a personality quirk that I observed in a friend. I’ve given characters similar speech patterns as people I know, and similar facial expressions. I’ve used professions and attitudes of friends, too.

But in my latest book, I went farther than that. I actually patterned a character off my youngest son, Jacob.

In Innocent Lies, Daniel is an eight-year-old who’s left in the woods alone. He’s scared he’s never going to see his mom again and worried about trusting the police officer who finds him and terrified of the dog that looks like he’s about to attack. But Daniel is also adorably cute, just like my Jacob. He wears glasses like Jake. He loves to skateboard like Jake did at that age. He’s super smart and very talented, just like my boy.

I don’t know why I did it. Maybe because I needed a little boy, and Jake is somebody I knew well. Maybe because I miss little eight-year-old Jake. Not that sixteen-year-old Jake isn’t awesome, but he’s not the same. Maybe because I couldn’t think of any better personality traits than those I could find in my own kid. And maybe I’m a little biased.

But really, isn’t he adorable?

Jake… er, Daniel doesn’t play much of a role in Innocent Lies, but he does start and end the story.
And then there’s the dog, Magic, who looks suspiciously like my Dixie. And acts like her. And runs like her.

So I don’t write what I know, I write who I know—and I put them in situations I wouldn’t wish on any real folks I’ve ever met. So maybe you don’t want to get too close to me. You could be next.

Find Robin on the web here:
Website: http://robinpatchen.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RobinPatchen/
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/robin-patchen
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5187882.Robin_Patchen
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Robin-Patchen/e/B00A289790/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/robinpatchen

Follow
the tour HERE
for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!







Friday, February 16, 2018

HIGH STAKES!

WE HAVE A WINNER FOR MY ♥ VALENTINE'S DAY ♥ CONTEST!

Congratulations to Sharon Guagliardo! Sharon, please let me know your mailing address so I can send your prize.





High Stakes
Betting Hearts
by
Lilly Cain


Genre: Contemporary Romance, Rom-Com




All I ever wanted is happening this weekend.



Or at least it might happen. If I don't screw it up. A lot can go wrong
when you are sneaking around a Las Vegas hotel between a poker
tournament and a romance writer's convention. And secretly attending
both. More can go wrong when the one man you ever really wanted is
there too, and he's watching. He's like a spy on a mission, always
trying to keep me out of trouble.

He saved me once from drowning. He's my brother's best friend and I've
wanted him since I was old enough to know what that means. But for
him I've been off limits, the stakes were too high.

How could I resist making him the hero of my book? How will he react when
he finds out?


HIGH STAKES Excerpt:

“What do you think, we go hit the tables after we get done here? Get some practice in?” Connor grinned at her. She couldn’t help but grin back. Her big brother never seemed to run out of enthusiasm when it came to poker. They’d been standing in line for ten minutes, which wasn’t bad, but there were at least a dozen people ahead, waiting to register at The Princess Resort, Las Vegas. She shifted her shoulder bag. The thing weighed a ton, but she wasn’t about to put it down with Connor right beside her. Knowing him, he’d pick it up for her and then demand what made it so blasted heavy.

One manuscript, 347 double-spaced pages of love, lust and happy ending. Her manuscript. The thought made her want to do a little dance, right here in the lobby. Jenn Riley, author.

The line shuffled forward. Although there were three clerks on the hotel registration desk, getting checked in was taking forever. The place was huge, and the signs of the two ongoing events everywhere—the poker tournament she was playing in with her brother and his two friends and the romance writers’ conference taking place in the larger ballrooms and meeting venues. The writers’ conference she planned to secretly attend.

Connor and his friends had no idea she’d agreed to come with them when their fourth had broken a leg at his job, only because she could get to the writers’ con from the poker tourney simply by crossing the hotel lobby. Her brother had teased her mercilessly about her love for romance novels when growing up, and if he heard she’d written one…

She shook her head.

Connor frowned. “What, you jetlagged?”

“Uh, a little. I think I might just chill a little, grab a swim and some time by the pool. Soak up some desert heat,” she murmured distractedly.

Connor sighed but accepted her plan and then rambled on about the tournament, who he thought might be there this year, how tough they were. Like they hadn’t gone over it at home. And at the airport. And on the plane. She stifled a sigh. The team competition worked on points, each player in their own division, and Connor had a hundred strategies, or more, since he had a female player on his team this time and could enter the new division. She liked poker, loved it, really. It was fun and she was good, thus the invite when Connor needed a fourth. But what she wouldn’t give to go over and say hello to the authors gathering near the bar. They had to be authors. All women, gathered in circles, getting glasses of wine and talking about…what? Their new plot? Who had what book coming out next? She wet her lips and shuffled ahead in line.

Minutes later they were registered into adjoining rooms, Jenn in one and Connor in the other. His poker-partner buddies were apparently already checked into their rooms on the floor above. Connor texted them as Jenn watched a large screen to the right of the registration table. Conference information scrolled over the panel. She chewed her lip when she read the registration times for both events. Damn. Nearly the same time for both, and on opposite sides of the hotel. She’d have to catch the late registration for the writers’ conference.

She walked with Connor to the elevator. The noise as they passed the bar was amazing, the place abuzz with what had to be a hundred women, all chatting and laughing, drinks in hand. She let a little wave of jealousy slide through her. If she’d had a little more money, she would have been here on her own instead of with her brother. She’d be in there with those women, meeting and greeting and rubbing shoulders with the authors she read every night. Soon though. After two years of playing with her book, it was done. Her career as a writer was about to begin and her life was about to change.

She dropped off her luggage in the room, nice enough for a hotel this size but she wouldn’t have much time to enjoy it. Then it was off to explore and maybe meet up with the one author she did know at the convention, Nancy Clarke, a seasoned veteran of these events who helped with online pitch classes. It would be nice to finally put a face with the name.

She had more than one plan for the weekend, after all. Excitement zipped through her as she headed back down the elevator and detoured toward the pool. She had to at least say she’d seen it.
This trip was all about changing her life. Starting her writing career, placing high enough in the tournament to win the cash she needed to have the freedom to start her next novel without working.

She watched an older lady in an elegant pantsuit chatting with two younger women in suits near a large pool tent marked with the convention logo. Was that who she thought it was? Her heart beat a little harder. Hello, fangirl moment.

No way was she missing this opportunity.

She strode toward her—the Nora—and almost bumped into a young woman carrying drinks toward the tent. Jenn swerved, fought for balance, lost. At the last second, she threw her bag to the safety of a nearby lounger. It was the least she could do for her literary baby before she ended up in the deep end.

Unfortunately, she never had learned to swim.

A large, warm hand grabbed her by the shoulders and dragged her to the surface. She struggled, a bit desperate to get out of the water, but more so not to drown in front of her idol. Seconds later she was unceremoniously dumped on the tiles beside the pool where she sputtered for a moment before she noticed the hands running over her body and moved to protest. Only she couldn’t quite catch her breath.


Warning: This book contains awkward situations, fan-girling, laughter, heat, and love!


**Only .99 cents!!**





Lilly Cain is a wild woman with a deep throaty laugh, plunging necklines
and a great lover of all things sensual - perfume, chocolate, silk!
She never has to worry about finding a date or keeping a man in line.
She keeps her blond hair long and curly, wears beautiful clothes and
loves loud music. Lilly lives her private life in the pages of her
books.



All of the above is a bit of silliness. When not living up to her pen
name, Lilly lives in Atlantic Canada, although she spent eight years
in Bermuda, enjoying the heat and the pink sands. She returned to her
homeland so she could see the changing of the seasons once again.
When not writing she paints, swills coffee and vodka (but not
together), and fights her writing pals for chocolate (true story). 

Lilly is a single mom who loves reading and writing, dabbling in art and
loving and caring for her two daughters. She loves romance and the
freedom erotic fantasy provides her imagination. She loves the
chilling moments in her novels as much as the steaming hot
interludes. Her stories are an escape and a release, and she hopes
that they can give you that power, too.




Follow
the tour HERE
for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!




Wednesday, February 14, 2018

RELEASE DAY! CONTEST ENDS SOON!

Happy ♥ Valentines ♥ Day! 

I am especially excited because today is the release of DANIEL McCLINTOCK, book four of the McClintock series! Writing this series has been difficult but fun. Tons of research went into the series even though readers see only a fraction of the foundation built by the investigations. 

If you haven't yet commented to be entered into the contest for a bag of swag, print books, and a box of chocolates, don't fret. You have until midnight on Thursday, February 15, to enter. I’ll announce the winner of the ♥ Valentine’s ♥ Day Contest on February 16.

For those who haven’t read the series, in McCLINTOCK’S RELUCTANT BRIDE, book 3, Daniel McClintock was left paralyzed from the waist down when a villain shot his horse, the horse pinned Daniel’s legs, and Daniel’s back was broken when he landed on a rock. In the area of Texas near Bandera and Medina, there are limestone outcroppings and the rocks can sometimes have sharp edges.



Needless to say, I could not sentence this nice young man to a lifetime of being an invalid. But, what kind of physical therapy was around in 1888? Well, almost none, at least not in the United States. In Amsterdam and nearby, a new type of treatment for paralytics had been developed called mechanotherapy. The practitioner of this was called a heilgymnast.

Fortunately for Daniel, Clara Van Hoosan is an expert at mechanotherapy. When the McClintock family’s family doctor writes for help for Daniel, he is told the hospital clinic is sending their best student, C. R. Van Hoosan. Everyone expects a man.

When Daniel meets Clara, tempers flare. Eventually, a new kind of sparks fly. Can Clara help Daniel regain use of his legs? Then what? Will she have to move on to another place?

My friend, Skhye Moncrief, created the cover. Don't you love the result?

I hope you will read DANIEL McCLINTOCK. The buy link is http://a.co/37QmqYD Remember, the first of this series, THE TEXAN'S IRISH BRIDE, is free. 

In the meantime, have a Happy Valentine’s Day!



Thanks to each of you who has bought my books. I couldn’t continue without you!



RELEASE DAY FOR DANIEL McCLINTOCK!

Happy Valentine's Day! Have you been commenting to enter my ♥ Valentine's Day ♥ Contest? If not, do so today to be entered for a box of swag, signed print books, and chocolates. 

The winner will be announced at the end of this post on the 15th and on Facebook and Twitter. 

Today is a celebration for me! Today is the release for my 42nd title (not counting box sets). Naturally, I am excited and hope readers are, too.

DANIEL McCLINTOCK is book 4 of the McClintock series. I love the people in this series (except for the villains, of course). I feel I’d recognize them if I met them in person.

Since that isn’t likely to happen, I content myself with bringing them from my head into life in electronic and paper forms. I hope they become as alive for readers as they are for me. This story is set in 1888. The heroine, Clara, uses what would now be called physical therapy but was then called mechanotherapy. This treatment originated in Amsterdam, Holland and was just emerging as feasible for paralytics worldwide.

Here is a bit about DANIEL McCLINTOCK:

A compassionate woman…
Clara Van Hoosan entered training when she finished school at sixteen in Amsterdam, Holland. Now, at twenty-two, she is one of the best heilgymnast in the new field of mechanotherapy. When her supervisor receives a request for someone to travel to Texas in America and help a paralytic patient, Clara is pleased to accept. On her arrival in McClintock Falls, she is surprised that the patient she thought would be a teenage boy is a very handsome man her age.

A desperate man…
Two years ago Daniel McClintock was paralyzed from the waist down. He is deeply discouraged and wonders if he is bound to live his life as an invalid. Normally cheerful but shy, each week he becomes more depressed but not idle. He keeps books for the ranch and paints landscapes with sales donated to the church. The local doctor learns of a new type of treatment developed in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Daniel can’t go there, so his family writes for a therapist trained in the new treatment to come to them.

A surprise arrives…
Everyone is expecting a man when Clara Van Hoosan arrives. As she and Daniel work together, they become attracted. She believes his is the normal attachment a patient feels toward a therapist and will fade once he’s healed. She tries to hide her feelings for him. Daniel knows she’s The One if only he can convince her to remain in McClintock Falls.

Amazon Buy Link for DANIEL McCLINTOCKhttp://a.co/37QmqYD 






Here’s an excerpt from the first morning after Clara arrives:

The next morning, Clara dressed carefully. For therapy work, she wore a muslin split skirt and shirtwaist without a corset. The ensemble allowed her the flexibility needed to work with a patient. The white fabric reminded her of a nursing sister.
She hurried to check on Daniel. He lay on his back, staring at the ceiling. Glancing around the room, she saw numerous paintings. She recognized the ranch’s landscape in three. Others showed horses, two in which the horses were alone and two with groups of horses.
“Good morning, Daniel. Dr. Sullivan mentioned you paint well and I see he was correct.” She walked the length of the room and back, admiring the lovely paintings. “These are beautiful.”
“They’re for Roan’s store to sell and donate the money to the church.”
“Shall I help you get ready for the day?” She reached for his sheet.
He batted away her hand. “Don’t think you’re going to be helping me. You run along and do whatever it is women do each morning.”
“This woman helps you. I hoped you would reconsider after thinking overnight. We can do this peacefully or in an all-out war, but I will help you.”
He screwed up his face and mocked, “‘I vill helf you’. You can’t even speak proper English.”
She raised an eyebrow. “I am sure my English is far better than your Dutch.”
“Are you so eager to see a man’s privates that you’re willing to help me? Does ogling a man intimately get you all hot and bothered?”
She fanned her throat and pretended to pant. “Oh, yes, I just adore looking at piss and feces.” With one yank, she snapped the sheet from atop him.
“Hey, you… you can’t do that.”
“I already have.” After pouring water into the pitcher, she wrung out a clean wash cloth and carried it and the towel to his bed. She grabbed one of the clean cloths used as his diapers.
He scooted up on his pillows and put out a hand. “Get away, do you hear?”
“How could I not? I am sure men working in the barn heard you. You may as well save your breath. We will start your bath with your face.”
He grabbed the wash cloth from her. “I can wash myself.”
“If you wish.” When he’d cleaned his face and torso, she rolled him to lie on his chest and washed his back and pulled the covering from his posterior.
He raised up so he rested on his elbows. “Hey, what are you doing?”
“Checking your skin. Your mother has done a wonderful job of preventing bedsores. There is one tiny area on each of your hips where tissue has changed.”
“You said there weren’t any bedsores.”
“That is right, but these places must be watched carefully or there will be. Now that you will be moving more, that should help.”
She touched a scar low on his spine. “You are fortunate the damage to your spine is so low. Otherwise I would not anticipate you regaining use of your legs. Now that I have seen the injury, I believe you can learn to walk.”
He craned his neck so he could look up at her. “Lady, if I were fortunate, I wouldn’t be paralyzed in the first place.”



I hope readers will love Daniel as much as I do. He and Clara make a perfect couple, in my opinion. Together they forge a future that combines both their hopes and dreams.

Writers never give up. I’m at work on my next project, a time travel trilogy. I don’t have the covers yet, but will post them when I do.

Keep reading! Please leave a review, too.



Monday, February 12, 2018

RATTLESNAKE HILL POSES A MYSTERY

Any comment on today's post also enters you in Caroline's ♥ Valentine's Day ♥ Contest.



Mystery/Suspense
Date Published:  2/1/18
Publisher:  Encircle Publications

 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png


It’s November in the Berkshires, a dreary time of dwindling light when the tourists have fled along with the last gasp of fall foliage. So when a stranger shows up in the sleepy hilltown of New Nottingham and starts asking questions, the locals don’t exactly roll out the welcome wagon.

            Bostonian Kathryn Stinson is on a deeply personal quest to solve a family mystery: the identity of a nameless beauty in an old photograph an ancestor brought with him to California over a century ago. But, as Kathryn quickly discovers, the hills possess a host of dark secrets – both ancient and new – that can only be revealed at the price of danger and even death.

Her suspicious neighbors on Rattlesnake Hill become openly hostile when Kathryn starts seeking answers to a more recent mystery: the murder of Diana Farley, who once occupied the house Kathryn is now renting. Was it Diana’s husband, who killed her to keep her from divorcing him, or her lover, Earl Barker, a backwoods charmer and leading member of a wild clan known for their violent tempers?

When Kathryn plunges into a passionate affair with Earl, she puts herself on a collision course with past and present. She must find out if Earl killed Diana, or risk becoming a victim herself.





RATTLESNAKE HILL Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Three families lived on Rattlesnake Hill when I was a girl. At the top of the hill you had the Whittemores. They were rich folks from New York City. They built a big, brick house and spent the summers there. That mansion seemed like paradise to us Judds. We’d look up at it from our farm and pretend we were just a few rungs below the Pearly Gates. Beyond the Whittemores, you had the Barkers. They were a different sort. Backsliders, we called ’em, because everyone agreed they’d fallen from grace long ago. They lived on the wild back side of the hill, among the timber rattlesnakes. They made money off those snakes in the early days. They’d bring the tails to the town treasurer for a reward of two pennies a tail. Folks said it was the rattlesnake venom in their blood gave ’em such violent tempers.
−Recollections of Emily Goodale

“Whaddya think?” Brandy Russo asked, as they wrapped up the tour of the house on Rattlesnake Hill.

“It’s nice, but . . .” Kathryn didn’t want to sound too eager, lest the realtor jack up the rent. Also, the house seemed almost too good to be true. There must be a catch somewhere.

“Look what you’re getting,” Brandy barged on. “Charming shingle-style contemporary on eighteen secluded acres. Three bedrooms. One and one-half baths. Large, fully equipped kitchen. Separate dining room. Spacious living room. At $1000 a month this place is a steal.”

It was a bargain all right, but Kathryn wasn’t quite ready to commit. “I’m surprised no one’s snatched it up already.”

Brandy coughed. “A family had it for the summer and through the leaf-peeping season. But once the foliage was gone, they split. As for skiers, forget it. Gordon Farley—he’s the owner—won’t rent to them.”

“Why not?”

“Tenants-from-hell. Come in droves, track snow onto lovely hardwood floors like these.” Brandy tapped a pegged oak floorboard with the stubbed toe of her high heel. “Party all night and nearly set the house on fire fiddling with that.” She jabbed a bitten-down nail at the white enameled Scandinavian wood stove that stood on a slate hearth in the living room. “Leave a ton of trash behind, too. Whereas someone like you,” her voice switched to a soft purr, “is an ideal tenant. Single but mature. No kids, no pets.”

“I . . . um . . . have a cat.”

“One little kitty won’t bother Gordon,” Brandy backpedaled. “Not with the menagerie he talked about having here. One week it was quail, the next, llamas, then buffalo.”

Kathryn smiled. “Sounds like a frustrated zookeeper.”

“More like a gentleman farmer with time on his hands and money to burn.”
A sour note crept into Brandy’s voice. Did it reflect the attitude of a struggling local toward a wealthy outsider? Kathryn had only spent a few hours with Brandy, yet already she sensed a grittiness born of adversity.

Brandy appeared to be several years older than Kathryn; late thirties or early forties. She might have been pretty once, but now her dirty blonde hair hung lank and lusterless, and fault-lines showed in her face despite a heavy coat of make-up. Her breath and clothes reeked of nicotine, the rank odor Kathryn associated with dirty dishes and despair.

“What’d you say you’re gonna do while you’re here?” Brandy asked.

“Research.”

“This have to do with your job?”

“Actually not. My ancestors lived in New Nottingham over a hundred years ago, and I want to find out more about them.”

“A hundred years ago—wow!” Brandy’s glazed expression belied her enthusiasm. “But you’ve got a paying job, don’t you?”

Kathryn nodded. “I’m the curator of prints and photographs at a small private library in Boston. I’m able to take time off, because the building’s being renovated, and the collection I oversee is in storage. So there’s not much for me to do right now. Still, I plan on keeping in touch with my boss. How’s the internet connection here?”

“Fine,” Brandy said quickly.

“There’s Wi-Fi?”

“The village doesn’t have cable yet, but I’m sure it’ll happen any day now.”

“DSL?”

“Dial-up. There’s Wi-Fi in Great Barrington, though, and it’s only a twenty-minute drive away.”

Hmm. Maybe this was the catch she’d worried about. “What about cell reception?”

Brandy cleared her throat. “You won’t get a signal here, but I’ve heard there are hotspots further up the hill. Besides, convenient as it is, technology can be a huge distraction. I think you’ll find that the less of it you have, the more you’ll accomplish while you’re here. Oh, I almost forgot.” Brandy’s eyes gleamed like a gambler’s about to play her ace-in-the-hole. She swept across the room, heels clicking on the already extolled hardwood floor. With a dramatic flourish, she flung back heavy curtains revealing a panoramic sliding glass door.

The land behind the house sloped down to a pond, fringed by tawny cattails and embedded in the rocky earth like a large shard of antique glass. Beyond the pond, stubbled fields gave way to woods. Deciduous trees, bare of leaves and dun-colored except where bittersweet had caught the branches in an orange stranglehold, formed the front line of the woods’ advance. Behind them stood tall sentinel pines. The sky glowed an iridescent red-orange, as if a distant city were on fire. Magnificent.

A loud crack shattered the stillness. Kathryn clutched her heart. “What was that?”

“Probably a car backfiring down the road.” Brandy waved a hand dismissively.

The noise repeated: Boom, boom, boom! “Sounds like gunshots.”

“Maybe. But don’t worry. It’s just some guy doing a little target practice.”

“Does that happen a lot around here?” Much as she liked the house, she had no intention of putting herself in someone’s line of fire. This was a bigger negative than the lack of Wi-Fi and cell reception.

“Oh, no. And never near houses. They always go way off in the woods.”

“You’re sure?”

Brandy looked Kathryn in the eye. “Would I lie to you?”

Not lie outright—just not tell the whole truth.

“So listen, there are a few more places I could show you, but why waste your time? They’re nowhere as nice as this house. How about it?” Brandy thrust her face in Kathryn’s.

Resisting the hard sell, Kathryn took a step backward. “Okay if I take another look around by myself?”

“Not at all.” Brandy jerked the curtain pull, and the vivid tableau vanished. “I’ll wait for you in the car.”

Alone, Kathryn relaxed. She roamed the shadowy rooms with their curtained windows. The house was nothing like the Tudor mansion bordering the Beverly Hills Country Club, where she’d lived until her parents’ divorce when she was four. Nor was it like her second Eden, her great-aunt’s house on Diamond Head, where she’d spent the only happy times of her childhood. Still, she had the odd sense of being back in paradise.

She returned to the red room upstairs Brandy told her had served as a study. She’d wanted a red room when she was young, imagining it would be like waking up in a valentine. Her grandmother had talked her out of it. “You paint your room red, you’ll end up loony like your mother.” Her great-aunt, on the other hand, would have loved this room and the entire house with its pond and flaming sunset view. A sharp pang sliced through her.

The trip to New Nottingham in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts had been Aunt Kit’s idea. Ever since Kathryn could remember, Aunt Kit had wanted to learn the identity of their family’s Dark Lady, a beautiful, nameless woman in an old photograph an ancestor had brought with him to California. Long-distance inquiries proving fruitless, she finally decided a visit to the village was necessary and invited Kathryn to accompany her.

“It will be wonderful seeing you after such a long time,” she said over the phone. “I’m so happy you’re willing to join me on a quest that’s always ranked high on my bucket list.”

They planned the trip for last summer, but that spring Aunt Kit died suddenly of a heart attack. She bequeathed the photograph, along with relevant correspondence, and the sum of fifty thousand dollars to Kathryn. The photograph sat on Kathryn’s dresser, while she debated whether to pursue the quest alone. At first, it seemed quixotic; she’d only accepted the invitation out of a desire to please her beloved aunt. But the more she looked at the photograph, the more she understood Aunt Kit’s fascination with it.
“There’s a story here,” her aunt had often said. “A story that’s waiting to be told.”

She might have added, “A story with special meaning for you,” because that’s what Kathryn had come to believe. At some point, her aunt’s pet project had become hers. Now, standing in the valentine room of this house in the village where her ancestors once lived, she seemed to hover on the brink of discovery. As if she were poised at the tip of a high diving board, waiting to take the plunge, giddy with a mixture of excitement and fear.


About the Author


Leslie Wheeler, Author


An award-winning author of books about American history and biographies, Leslie Wheeler has written three Miranda Lewis “living history” mysteries: Murder at Plimoth Plantation, Murder at Gettysburg, and Murder at Spouters Point. Her mystery short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies including Day of the Dark, Stories of Eclipse, and the Best New England Crime Stories series, published by Level Best Books, where she was a co-editor/publisher for six years. A member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, she is Speakers Bureau Coordinator for the New England Chapter of SinC. Leslie divides her time between Cambridge, Massachusetts and the Berkshires, where she does much of her writing in a house overlooking a pond.


Contact Links

Twitter:@Leslie_Wheeler


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Friday, February 09, 2018

WAYS OF LOVE SERIES

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Why the Earl is After the Girl

Ways of Love Book 1
by
Tabetha Waite
Genre:
Historical Romance

277
pages

A missing heirloom. A stolen inheritance. 
Can love conquer mistrust?



Athena Hawthorne never imagined that she would lose everything she'd ever
had. But after the death of her father, his prosperous jewelry store
is sold off to pay his supposed debts. Athena, now destitute, embarks
on a mission to discover the truth, but circumstances force her to
accept an offer from a handsome stranger to work as a governess.
She's determined to clear her father's name, but a certain earl is
making matters far more difficult than necessary. And she can't be in
danger of losing her heart to a member of the aristocracy...

Orion Ashcroft, the Earl of Rockford, is convinced that Athena is a
grasping thief who stole a priceless family heirloom, the rare
sapphire known as the Couleur Magnifique. When he offers her the
position of governess to his sister's children, he only intends to
catch her in some nefarious scheme and get back the sapphire—his
grandmother's dying wish. But he soon discovers that keeping his
distance—and his sanity—around the beautiful Athena isn't as easy
as he'd planned. It certainly doesn't help that his sister and his
best friend plead her innocence at every frustrating turn. Soon he's
struggling between honoring his promise and his growing attraction to Athena. 

But there's danger closer than either expect. Even a masquerade can't
hide Athena from the curiosity of the ton forever...and there's a
threat hiding among the highest members of society...




WHY THE EARL IS AFTER THE GIRL Excerpt:

Walking casually into the front parlor where his sister and Gregory sat enjoying a round of pi-quet, he found himself looking around for Athena before feeling a surge of disappointment when she didn’t appear.

“It seems rather quiet tonight,” he noted, to which he was ignored. With a frown, he walked over to a large globe in a corner of the room. Giving it a haphazard spin, he tried to keep his tone neutral when he asked, “Has Athena already retired?”

Cassie didn’t even look up but merely kept playing. “No.”

More was obviously not forthcoming, so he turned to his sister and put his hands on his hips. “Is she with the twins?”

“No.” This time the obscure reply came from Gregory.

Rion instantly froze. Something wasn’t right here…”Then where is she?”

“Out.” Cassie shrugged as she laid down another card.

He blinked, not sure that he’d heard correctly. “Do you mean she’s gone?”

“That’s what ‘out’ usually means, yes.” His sister rolled her eyes at Gregory as though she was worried about the welfare of Rion’s mind.

It was the last straw. “Does someone want to tell me what the hell is going on?”

Gregory finally glanced up, his green eyes full of censure. “Friend or brother, I will thank you not to use that sort of language around my wife.”

“Then can we quit dancing around the subject of Athena?” Rion shot back irritably.

“Athena, is it?” Cassie said almost silkily, as she finally – finally – laid down her hand and turned to face him fully. When Rion didn’t reply, but merely kept his expression mutinous, she lifted her chin and said in the most casual manner imaginable, “She’s at a masquerade ball with Lord Eversleigh.”

Athena was with -- Roarke? “Wait.” Holding up a hand, he asked firmly, “How does she even know him?”

“The viscount paid us a call this afternoon.” Gregory replied, his full attention on the exchange now.

“To see Athena?” Rion asked, doubly confused.

Again, Cassie rolled her eyes, and damned if she wasn’t pregnant or even blood relation he would have called her out at that moment, regardless of the fact she was a woman. “No. He came to see Gregory and myself, but after meeting Athena, he thought she would be the perfect choice to take to the ball. So, I helped her choose one of my gowns…”

“You mean you were a party to this debacle?” Rion groaned in disbelief. Surely he was dream-ing and he was only imagining this entire nightmare.

“I didn’t see where it hurt that she had a night to herself.” Cassie shrugged. “She is a young woman of age after all and she has been working quite hard.”

Rion felt a tic begin in his jaw. “Who, pray tell, was her chaperone?”

“Oh, good heavens! She just went out with Eversleigh!” Cassie replied, as if it was perfectly commonplace to allow a single governess to go about London in the middle of the night with a known rogue.

Rion didn’t even think. Before Cassie had even caught up to him, he had stalked back into the foyer and was shrugging on his greatcoat.






Where the Viscount Met His Match

Ways of Love Book 2

380
pages

Secrets. Lies. And a second chance at love...



Torn from the only man she'd ever loved by a tragic secret, Mara Miller
has traveled a long and difficult road. From poverty and the
workhouses, she's finally made a life for herself as the owner of a
small haberdashery in London. With her companion, Big B, an African
slave she'd helped escape from a Brazilian slaver, she's made a fresh
start. But when the past walks into her shop—in the form of the
ever-handsome Roarke Garrott, Viscount Eversleigh—Mara feels her
whole world crash to her feet. Thrust back into a web of lies,
deceit, and manipulation, Mara is forced to face the one man she'd
sworn to forget.

For the past seven years, Roarke had sequestered himself in India to
mourn Mara's death. Vowing to move on and put the past behind him, he
returns to London, only to find himself gazing into those beautiful
green eyes he believed he'd never see again. Now he's found
her—
alive and trying to deny who she was. A million feelings wash over him. Joy.
Fury. Heartbreak. He would have the truth from her—of where she'd
gone, and why—but when trouble from the past finds Mara and Big B,
the truth becomes secondary to saving Mara's life. After just
learning that the woman he'd loved is alive, Roarke is not about to
lose her again...








When a Duke Pursues a Lady

Ways of Love Book 3

An innocent woman. A loyal agent to the Crown. A path of 
deception that tests the bonds of love.


Lyra Coventry, Lady Weston, has spent the past three years trapped in an
abusive and loveless marriage. But just when she believes she’s
free, she’s charged with the murder of her husband. With no one to
turn to for help, her judgment seems rather dire, until the Duke of
Albright comes forward to offer his aid. With no choice but to put
her trust in him, she doesn’t know that he has an ulterior motive
for helping her – to prove her guilty of treason. It isn’t until
the true villain comes to light that she discovers a strength she
never knew existed – and a love she never thought was possible.


Alister Ayles, Duke of Albright, might be the subject of ton ridicule, but as
a highly respected agent for the Crown, he discovered a higher
purpose. However, when he’s faced with his toughest investigation
to date, he has to travel a difficult path. Years ago, he’d made a
mistake and let Lyra slip through his fingers. Now, he has a chance
to make it right by clearing her name. But when it comes down to a
test of loyalty, will he stand strong, or fall prey to his desires?


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Tabetha Waite is the award winning author of "Why the Earl is After the
Girl," her debut novel and the first installment of her Ways of
Love series. Raised in Missouri by her paternal grandparents, she
always had a love of reading. Her early influences were the Gothic
romances of the 60s, the Janet Dailey Americana series, and "Midnight
Bride" by Kathleen Drymon. She continues to make her home in the
Midwest with her husband and two daughters.




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