Release Blitz: No Parking by Valentine Wheeler #LGBTfiction #interracial

Title: No Parking

Author: Valentine Wheeler

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 10, 2020

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 63300

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, bisexual, asexual, bakery, restaurant, chef, small-town politics, older MCs, interracial, family drama

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Synopsis

When Marianne Windmere’s bakery customers begin complaining that her parking lot is always full, she assumes it must be customers for the new restaurant next door. She’s never met her neighbor, and with the parking lot situation, she has no interest in doing so. But when a snowstorm knocks out the power and traps both women in the building overnight, sparks fly—until the next morning, when the buried argument comes to a head.

Can they find a way to reclaim the magic of that night? And as decades-old secrets about the history of the town and Marianne’s family come to light, can they work together to save both their businesses?

Excerpt

No Parking
Valentine Wheeler © 2020
All Rights Reserved

The travel mug banged against the counter. Marianne jumped. “Jesus, Kevin! I didn’t hear you come in.”

“It’s full again.” Kevin crossed his arms and glared. “The parking lot back there.” He made a show of glancing around the nearly empty bakery, eyes pausing on Zeke in the corner, mug in his hands and laptop open as usual, big red headphones covering his ears. He crossed his arms. “Why do you pay that kid if all he does is ignore you? And the customers?”

“You’re in a mood this morning.” Marianne pushed herself off the stool and grabbed his aluminum coffee mug. Her ex-husband was still an attractive man fifteen years after their divorce, and she couldn’t work up the energy to be annoyed at him for it anymore. “If you want to go next door and complain about the cars, go ahead.” She filled his mug with hazelnut coffee, added an espresso shot, capped it, and handed it back. “It’s not like our customers are beating down the doors for spots right now.”

“I did go next door,” Kevin grumbled, taking the cup. “It wasn’t productive.” Now it was him avoiding her gaze.

The parking lot issue wasn’t a new one—it had been a problem for a few months—and on a busy day Marianne would be filled with a low-level simmering rage as customer after customer complained about it. Still, she wasn’t going to tell Kevin that. Their relationship had improved in the years since their divorce but not quite that much.

“Not productive?” she pressed.

He sipped his coffee to cover the slight flush in his pale cheeks and didn’t answer.

“She threw you out, didn’t she?” Marianne’s estimation of her neighbor and nemesis rose a notch. “You tried to yell at her, and she didn’t take it.”

“I was very polite!”

“Hm.” Marianne put her hands on her hips and considered the man she’d spent nearly twenty-five years married to. He could be charming when he wanted to be—the whole silver fox, sparkling blue eyes and white teeth politician thing—though he never tried it with her anymore. Many women had found him suave and attractive during their marriage and probably still did. But when he wanted something from someone with no interest in what he was peddling? Politeness wasn’t his style. Generally, once charm had failed, he whined worse than any of their three kids had as toddlers. She’d learned that plenty during their marriage, and again during the divorce. “I’m sure you were.”

“I can talk to Bruce and Andrea,” said Kevin. “Just because I’m retired—”

“No need to get the city council involved, Kevin. I’ll handle my own property, thanks.” She glanced at the clock on the wall, its tarnished brass pendulum swinging below the cracked glass. “Aren’t you going to be late for your train?” He was still showing up at transit meetings in the city every other week since he had been appointed to the regional transit board as community representative now that he wasn’t an elected official. Kevin had a habit of holding onto things too tightly and refusing to let them go.

Kevin glanced down at his watch and swore. “Yeah. Shit.” He took another long gulp of coffee and leaned over the counter to kiss Marianne’s cheek. “Thanks. Who knew retirement could be so busy?” He turned to hurry out the door and then stopped and glanced back over his shoulder. “You be good, all right? Don’t work too hard.”

Marianne rolled her eyes and shooed him out with a towel.

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Meet the Author

Valentine is a latecomer to writing, though she’s always been a passionate reader. Through fanfiction she found her way to an incredible community of writers who’ve taught her to love making stories.

When she isn’t writing, she’s making bad puns, yelling about television, or playing with her small child.

Her life’s ambition is to eat the cuisine of every single country. You can find Valentine on Twitter.

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Raven, Red by Connie Suttle #UrbanFantasy #shifters

Cormac Flynn, a raven shapeshifter, is ancient, Celtic, and cursed.

Arianne Leone, a mountain lion shapeshifter, owns an art gallery in Deep Ellum, a popular tourist attraction and haven for musicians for decades.

Together, they are charged with guarding the one who bears the Hermit’s Stone, an ancient artifact that has held worlds together—and kept them separate—for eons.

Possession of the stone falls to Ari’s friend and art student, nineteen-year-old Nico Garcia. When Nico’s parents are killed in an attempt to destroy him, Ari and Mac must set aside their differences and work together, protecting Nico at all costs…

 

About the Book

Raven, Red
by Connie Suttle

Series
Lion and Raven

Genre
Adult
Urban Fantasy

Publisher
Independent

Publication Date
October 26, 2019

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RAVEN, RED EXCERPT

A Lion and Raven Novel

© 2019 Connie Suttle

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

September

Costa de la Muerte

Northern Spain

 

Fierce winds screamed across the sand, blowing spray off the Atlantic and drenching anyone foolish enough to tread the beaches during such a storm.

Locals blamed the winds for nightmares and other unnatural occurrences, while oscillating stones in the area rocked and rumbled, giving life to ancient tales.

Had anyone from the nearby village of Mordomo ventured out, perhaps they would recall their encounter with the et Inpaenitens, thinking they’d met the Santa Compaña instead.

Perhaps not.

This night, these spirits were especially agitated.

It is gone.

Those words passed silently from one to another, as they found themselves able to break formation.

Then our chance to destroy it has come, whispered throughout the company.

First, we must find it. Belhar, eldest, strongest, and the one who’d enthralled his companions, insisted. No matter where it travels. It holds us only while it is here.

Might we travel then, to find it?

Only the strongest among us, Belhar admonished. I will choose who may go, and who must stay. Remember, your duty is to open the gate, should the opportunity arise.

The winds whipped into a higher-pitched scream as the et Inpaenitens resolved to act accordingly and free themselves forever.

Dispersing completely for the first time in centuries, they left no footprints behind for the winds to erase.

May, the Following Year

Deep Ellum

Dallas, Texas

Arianne Leone looked up from her painting when the bell over her art gallery door jangled, announcing a visitor. She’d bent low to paint the red and yellow colors of the Indian Blanket wildflowers found in Palo Duro Canyon.

Paintings of the canyon were some of her best sellers, so she straightened her spine and stepped back to survey her work. The focus of the painting was a well-known rock formation, called the Lighthouse.

“Ari, it’s me,” Nico Garcia called from the front of the gallery.

“I’m back here,” she replied.

“Oh, that’s really good,” Nico breathed a sigh as he caught sight of her latest work. “I wish my final project was half as good.”

“It was great—you’ll get an A.”

“Thanks for letting me work on it here—that made a lot of difference. Too many distractions at home,” he admitted. “College is harder than I thought.”

“At least the semester’s over—when will your grades be out?”

“Maybe next week,” Nico shrugged. He was worried, Ari could tell.

“You’ll do fine,” she reassured him. “I just know it.”

“The raven came back again yesterday,” Nico said.

“Because you’re feeding him,” Ari teased. “Did you ever figure out what the red patch is under his beak?”

“I still can’t tell, and I can’t really ask him, can I? He does like tamales, though.”

“You working the night shift?” Ari asked.

Nico’s parents owned Blue Taco, the Mexican restaurant across the street from Ari’s gallery. It was a popular restaurant for standard Tex-Mex as well as authentic regional Mexican dishes offered as daily specials.

“Yeah. Gotta go in at six,” Nico answered Ari’s question. “Thought I’d come early and see you, first.”

“Want to use the studio during the summer?”

“Yes.” By the breathless tone of his voice and the way his dark eyes lit up, Ari understood Nico’s true purpose in paying her a visit.

“You’re welcome to use it anytime. I’ll get you a key so you can come and go.”

“All right,” Nico’s enthusiasm spread with his grin.

“I may come to the restaurant for dinner tonight—all this talk of tamales is making me hungry.”

“We can go together—you know Papa will not let you pay.”

“He needs to let me pay,” she said. “He has to cover his bills, just like everybody else.”

“The restaurant is doing really well,” Nico argued. “Besides, you let me paint here.”

“I’m still paying for my dinner. I’m just letting a friend paint in my studio—there are no strings attached. I remember art school, and how much it would have helped me to have an artist’s space to do my work. Instead, I had two roommates who couldn’t stop talking about guys and getting drunk.”

“Mama keeps asking me about a girlfriend. I have girl friends, but those are two separate words for now.”

“I hear that.” Ari and Nico bumped fists. “Want a soda or some water?”

“Water. It’s hot outside.” Nico followed Ari to the small fridge she kept in her workspace. “Something weird happened last night, though. Papa thought it was a burglar outside. The police came, but they didn’t find anything.”

“They may have been scared off. Don’t let your guard down,” Ari warned. “People seem to get crazier during the summer heat.”

“Gonna paint some more after dinner?”

“I think I’ll go home. This is almost finished, and I have a crick in my back from bending down to do the flowers.”

“Is it already sold?”

“Yeah. Somebody in Virginia wants it.”

“Cha-ching,” Nico laughed.

“Hey, that’s rent,” Ari poked his shoulder. “Do not diss the rent.”

Ari found herself flinging her arms around Nico as a deafening explosion sent them flying across her studio. Time slowed as she reflexively covered him as well as she could before their bodies hit the concrete floor.

Across the street, fire and screams erupted; Blue Taco had been reduced to little more than rubble. The bomb that leveled the restaurant had shaken the gallery and blown out its plate glass windows.

Ari came to her senses first, lifting her head—and her weight off Nico. Her back felt as if it were on fire. “Nico?” she whispered desperately. His eyes were closed and his hair was covered in dust and debris that continued to fall around them.

She’d covered the rest of him, so his clothing was relatively clean. “Nico?” Ari stretched out a shaking hand; temporarily deaf, she couldn’t hear his breaths or his heartbeat, and she didn’t trust her eyes to tell her whether Nico was alive. Touch was the only sense she had left.

There—a pulse. Ari found herself wiping tears away. Reaching for her cell phone in a back pocket, Ari groaned in pain. Her back felt as if a thousand needles were stabbing her relentlessly.

“Nine-one-one, what’s your emergency?” the voice on the other end of her call answered.

“Explosion. Injury. Seven-nine-nine Durrance Street in Deep Ellum.”

“We have several units on the way to that area. Stay on the phone; someone will arrive soon.”

Nico escaped with minor injuries. A paramedic was forced to pick glass and splinters from Ari’s back once the dust settled and first responders arrived.

Everyone inside the restaurant perished.

“He’s nineteen and his parents just died,” Ari hissed at Detective Norm Little, who’d arrived to ask questions. She’d disliked him on sight, and when he asked if Nico were in the country legally, she almost slapped him.

Another detective joined the first; Ari wanted to snarl at him before he opened his mouth. “Norm,” Lance Elliott frowned at Detective Little, “I think you’re needed outside.”

“But,” Little began to argue.

“Out. Side.” Detective Elliott jerked his head toward the open space that used to be a door into Ari’s gallery.

Ari studied Detective Elliott with a critical eye. Forties, a little bit of gray, no paunch, single or divorced, she decided. Elliott didn’t budge when it looked as if Detective Little wanted to argue again. She watched with satisfaction as Little turned and walked stiffly toward the entrance.

Once Little left the scene, Lance visibly relaxed. “Sorry about that,” he apologized to Ari. “I’ll take it from here. I don’t suppose you have a security camera outside?”

“Yeah. I can send you whatever it captured—before things blew up.”

“Can we do that now? How’s the kid?” Lance’s voice had gone soft when he asked about Nico, causing Ari to lift an eyebrow.

Bad cop, good cop, she thought to herself, before leading Lance to the back, where Nico shivered on Ari’s sofa.

Shock, Ari pulled in a weary breath. “Nico, I have a blanket. I’ll get it for you.” Detective Elliott could wait—Nico was more important.

“The back of your shirt is bloody,” Lance Elliott called after her.

“Damn. And I just changed shirts,” she cursed.

Lance hated this part of his job. “I’m sorry, Nico,” he handed Nico’s driver’s license back to him. “But we have to find out who did this. Right now, you’re the best source of information we’ve got.”

“Nothing is different,” Nico stuttered his reply. Ari had draped a blanket over Nico’s shoulders, but the kid was still shivering.

“I have a note here that says your father called Plano PD last night,” he said, trying to keep his voice even.

“We thought it was a burglar—Mama heard somebody running beside the house, so Papa called the police. They didn’t find anything. I’m not sure they looked very hard.”

“He told me the same thing earlier—that they had to call the police,” Ari spoke up.

“I’ll send somebody out to check again.” Pulling his phone from a pocket, Lance excused himself and walked toward the gallery door to place a call.

“I’ll call Plano PD,” Captain Belwether told Lance over the phone. “Can’t hurt to check. Now, what’s this beef between you and Norm?”

Lance forced himself not to curse. “The kid just lost both parents,” he growled a reply. “Norm decided to air his racism and asked if the kid was here legally.”

“Of course he did,” Belwether sounded grim. “I’ll expect you to file a report on the incident when you get back to the station.”

“I’m sure Norm already has his complaint written about me overstepping my authority,” Lance grumbled.

“I’ll talk to him when he gets back. We don’t need this blowing up on the news—that we’re this cold-hearted.”

“Except Norm is exactly that.”

“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that. He’s close to retirement. He and I will have a talk and he’ll choose his words more wisely next time.”

“Right. I may have camera footage from a security camera across the street. I’ll let you know if there’s anything useful.”

“Body count is at twenty-nine and expected to go higher,” Belwether said.

“Damn. Look, I need to go. I don’t know how long the kid can hold up, and I still have questions to ask.” After ending the call, Lance walked back to the studio behind the gallery. His phone rang again before he reached his destination.

“House in Plano just destroyed,” Belwether barked. “Homes on both sides damaged. We have to get the kid someplace safe. Somebody’s after the whole family.”

“I’ll bring him to the station. We can go from there,” Lance studied Ari and Nico, who were now huddled together on the sofa. Ari’s arms were around Nico, as if she knew something else had gone wrong already.

Ari followed the detective to his car; Nico walked beside her, still wrapped in the blanket she’d given him. At first, Lance intended to take Nico to the police station, but Nico refused to go without Ari, as if she were his only remaining lifeline in a world gone off the rails.

“We’ll get through this, Nico,” she spoke softly to him as Lance opened the back door of his vehicle. Ari stifled a scream when a raven, bearing a small patch of red feathers at his throat, landed on top of the car with a concerned kraw!

“Don’t,” Nico begged as Lance waved an arm to shoo the bird away. “He’s my friend.”

“We can’t take him with us,” Lance began.

“Come. With. Nico,” the bird croaked, sending a shiver through Lance. Ari gasped softly but didn’t say anything.

“He said my name,” Nico turned to Ari, his eyes wide. “He’s my friend,” he turned back to Lance.

“Right. Get in the car. Bird, if you’re coming, get in and don’t make a mess.” Lance only said what he did for Nico’s benefit—no way would that bird get in the car.

Except he did, lifting off the car’s roof and flapping to Nico’s shoulder.

“Damn,” Ari breathed. “Nico, get in the car. We should go.”

“Go now,” the bird insisted.

“Right,” Lance repeated and slid into the driver’s seat.

“I’ve hauled a lot of things in my car, but I don’t think I’ve ever driven a raven across town,” Detective Elliott shook his head as he stopped the car at a red light. Ari sat up front with him; Nico and the unnamed raven were in the backseat.

“I’ve never seen a raven with red feathers under his chin,” Ari sighed. “No idea about this one, or why he showed up now. Nico’s been feeding him tamales behind the restaurant, but I’ve never seen a wild bird settle for riding in a car, even if it is with the guy who keeps him in Mexican food.”

“I can’t figure that out, either, but then nothing about this case makes sense. Why not include a raven who likes tamales and can talk?”

“Most people would freak out,” Ari pointed out. “About a talking raven.”

“I think I’m past that now.” Lance moved the car forward when the light turned green. “I can’t wait to see what happens when we take the bird into the station.”

“I-umm right heere,” the Raven squawked, making both jerk in their seats.

Ari and Nico were led to Lance’s office, where Lance offered them drinks and a place to sit. Ari watched as Lance considered his questions carefully.

“Nico, I know this is hard, but can you tell me whether your parents have acted different lately—anything out of the ordinary?” Lance asked.

Nico was seated on Lance’s desk chair while the raven clung to its high back, hovering above Nico’s right shoulder. The detective leaned casually against the desk to ask his questions, attempting to put Nico at ease while they talked.

“No. Everything was the same,” Nico denied. “School ended last Friday, so I was scheduled to work full evening shifts since then. I usually work weekends when I’m in school unless I have a project to finish and need the time.”

One of Nico’s feet bounced beneath him, making his entire leg shake—a sign of anxiety. He was doing his best to hold it together, when he’d become an orphan in the time it took to blink. Ari understood his fear and confusion.

Too well.

“Have they taken any unusual trips? Been somewhere they wouldn’t normally go?”

“They took a trip to Spain last September. Ever since Mama had us take a family DNA test and she found out she had connections to Garcias in Spain, well, she wanted to go. Papa took her.”

“What part of Spain?” Lance scribbled on his yellow notepad.

“Well, they went to Madrid, of course. Went to see lots of things. Ended up at Santiago de Compostela, before going back to Madrid and flying home. Mama had pictures on her phone. She sent me some of them.”

“Actual connections—as in relatives?” Lance lifted an eyebrow. He was following a trail Ari hadn’t yet considered.

“Distant cousins,” Nico’s shaking leg ramped up a notch. “They didn’t meet any of them—Mama only wanted to see where our Spanish ancestors came from.”

“You’re saying it was just a tourist trip, then?”

“Yes. They had fun. Came back tired and full of stories.” Nico choked on his words. Ari jerked her purse open to dig for tissues—she had some, somewhere. Nico drew his sleeve across his face, eliminating the need. The raven croaked softly and began preening Nico’s hair.

Nico sniffled and then chuckled at the attention he was getting.

“Was there anything they brought home besides pictures? Did they have an itinerary—anything on a computer?” Lance asked as the raven inspected his work, then preened more hair, giving Nico a nice lift to his bangs.

“If they did, it’s on Papa’s computer at home. Mama uses her phone. She hates the computer.”

“Nico, we can’t get to that computer,” Lance said.

“Why not?” Nico raised reddened eyes to the detective.

“I didn’t want to break the news like this, but your house was destroyed not long ago. Looks like that call to the police last night should have been investigated better. Do you have anything we can use on your phone? By the way, you shouldn’t answer it if anyone calls. We think someone may be looking for you, too.”

“Here’s my phone,” Nico pulled it from his pocket. “Why would anybody want to kill us? We didn’t do anything.”

“That’s what we’re trying to find out. Is there anything on here that you don’t want us to see? I’ll have somebody look through those pictures your mother sent.”

“No.” Nico shrugged helplessly. “I’ll give you my password so you won’t have to break into it.”

“Lance, a word?” Ari’s head jerked around as someone appeared in the doorway.

“I’ll be right back,” Lance said, straightening and walking swiftly from the office.

“Norm’s dead.” Belwether didn’t waste any time giving Lance the bad news. “Went to ask questions at a business across the alley from the restaurant. He was killed inside, along with both store employees. Their security system was ripped out and stolen. I’ve got uniforms all over the place, and forensics checking for evidence.”

“We need to look at the recordings Ari Leone sent to my phone,” Lance growled. “Damn. Norm wasn’t a friend by any stretch, but this really pisses me off.”

“We’ve blocked off half the street, and that won’t go well with tourists and visitors in Deep Ellum tonight.”

“Maybe it’s for the best—we don’t need a crowd getting killed if these assholes are still around.”

“I was hoping they’d died in the restaurant. Unless there are two teams, they hit the house after the restaurant.”

“Yeah, or maybe they planted those bombs at the house last night and detonated remotely.”

“I think the Plano cops are getting questioned about their visit to the house last night,” Belwether grimaced. “If there were any evidence to find, it’s probably obliterated by now. Bomb squad is investigating. I asked for cooperation from the Plano PD. They couldn’t say yes fast enough. Get Mona on those security recordings ASAP,” Belwether added. “I want to know who or what went into that restaurant and killed thirty-four people.”

“How high will the death toll climb?” Lance asked, after wincing at the updated number.

“Restaurant had a max capacity of ninety-five, plus staff and owners. I doubt it was full, but it could be close.”

“I think I want to have a conversation with the Plano officers who went to Nico’s house last night.”

“So do I. We can have a sit-down later. How’s the kid?”

“Not the best. Still in shock, but that could crack any minute. He doesn’t have any family in the States and doesn’t want to go anywhere without Ms. Leone.”

“Is she willing to stay with him—at least temporarily?”

“That’s the feeling I get. There’s something else, too.”

“What’s that?”

“A talking raven, who refuses to leave the kid’s side.”

“This isn’t the time for jokes, Lance.”

“I’m not joking. Didn’t you notice the bird on the back of my chair when you pulled me away?”

“Wasn’t looking for one. Damn, must be slipping,” Belwether mumbled.

“Come back with me. See for yourself.”

“I think I will.”

Belwether followed Lance back to his office. Just as he’d said, the raven perched on the back of Lance’s chair while Nico, arms crossed tightly over his chest and head down, studied his shoes.

Work shoes, Lance realized. Black leather athletic shoes, suitable for employment in a restaurant. The rest of Nico’s clothing was black, too, with the Blue Taco emblem on the left shoulder of his black polo.

Everything else the kid owned had been blown apart. All he had was his phone and a backpack he’d carried to the gallery before going to work.

“I’ll be damned,” Belwether whispered, jerking Lance away from his thoughts. Belwether was looking at the bird instead of the kid. “Does he have a name?” Belwether stepped into Lance’s office to ask Nico. Lance, wearing a frown, followed him in.

“I don’t know.” Nico’s arms tightened around himself.

“Mac,” the raven croaked.

“Your name is Mac?” Belwether sounded incredulous.

“Cor-mac. Flynn. Call. Me. Mac.” There was a frown in the raven’s croak, since his beak couldn’t transform to convey the message.

“Fucking hell,” Belwether swore softly.

“I think you should ask your questions later,” Ari stood abruptly. “Nico’s had enough for the day.”

“What. She. Said,” the raven agreed.

“We can put Nico in a safe house with guards,” Lance suggested.

“He can come home with me, Detective.” Lance understood that Ari didn’t like Belwether’s intrusion nor his words. She was right, though. Nico looked as if he were barely hanging on.

“Take them to her place,” Belwether snapped at Lance. “Ms. Leone, don’t leave town. I’ll have a unit outside for your protection tonight. Tomorrow, Detective Elliott will call and set up another interview.”

“Thanks for all the warmth and hospitality,” Ari’s eyes and voice had gone so cold Lance wanted to shiver. “We’ll be fine.”

Nico was up and out of the chair fast. Mac flapped to his shoulder and held on. Ari swept out of the office first, followed by Nico.

“What. She. Said,” the raven repeated on the way out.

Ari fumed while Lance drove her and Nico to her house in North Dallas. She knew Lance kept looking her way, hoping to find a way to apologize for the Captain’s gaffe, but she refused to allow an opening.

Besides, it didn’t take a genius—just someone with sensitive hearing—to know Nico was holding back tears while he stroked Mac’s feathers in the back seat. The occasional sniff let her know exactly how things were.

“I’ll call tomorrow,” Lance said as he saw them to Ari’s back door. He waited while she unlocked it and turned off the alarm.

“Thank you, Detective,” Ari said before shutting the door in his face. She was grateful to be stronger than she looked as Nico fell into her arms and sobbed. Mac hopped to a nearby kitchen counter and spoke soft mumblings only a raven might understand.

 

Tour Wide Giveaway

To celebrate the tour for RAVEN RED by Connie Suttle, we’re giving away a paperback copy of the book to one lucky winner!

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback copy of Raven Red by Connie Suttle. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Connie Suttle.  Giveaway ends 3/31/2020 @ 11:59pm EST.  CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

 

 

About the Author

CONNIE SUTTLE is the author of the Blood Destiny series, the Legend of the Ir’Indicti series, the High Demon Series, the God Wars series and the Saa Thalarr series. Other titles are scheduled for release very soon.

Connie earned her MFA from the University of Oklahoma and has taught courses at the university level. Reading (and writing) have been a constant throughout her life.

The author lives in Oklahoma with her patient, long-suffering husband and three cats. Obviously, the cats are not so long-suffering and are certainly not patient.

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Blog Tour: Dead Ringer by Kat Ross #fantasy #paranormal

Dead Ringer
Kat Ross
(Gaslamp Gothic #5)
Published by: Acorn Publishing
Publication date: December 13th 2019
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Retelling

A poisonous secret.

A terrifying curse.

And a client she’d just as soon see dead in a ditch….

Summer 1889. Harrison Fearing Pell hoped for adventure when she signed on with the Society for Psychical Research as an occult investigator. Slogging through New York’s sewers in pursuit of a “mud man” wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. But the reeking monster terrorizing the dance halls of the Tenderloin leads her to an even more peculiar mystery — and the last man on earth Harry wishes to become entangled with.

James Moran is a prodigy in music, mathematics . . . and crime. Harry’s older sister, the famed detective Myrtle Fearing Pell, has vowed to put him behind bars. But Harry owes Moran a personal debt, so when he demands her aid she can hardly refuse. It turns out that the brilliant black sheep of New York Society is part of a secret club at Columbia College whose members have started dying in bizarre ways that may not be accidents.

Thus begins one of the strangest cases of Harry’s career, a tale of murder, cold-blooded revenge and fairytale bogeymen to make the Brothers Grimm shudder. As the bodies pile up, each preceded by sightings of the victim’s doppelgänger, Harry and her stalwart friend John Weston must race against time to save a man who arguably deserves his macabre fate.

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MY REVIEW:

Dead Ringer has the feel of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde combined with Sherlock Holmes. I found the story to be well-written, and the characters were very three dimensional. Harry, in particular, was entertaining. I loved that she was such a strong woman, especially for that time period. It was my first time reading this author, but I think I may be hooked. 

If you like historical books that also have mystery, suspense, action and all the other ingredients for a page-turning-stay-up-all-night experience, Dead Ringer is a must-read! 

 

Author Bio:

Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She’s the author of the Fourth Element and Fourth Talisman fantasy series, the Gaslamp Gothic paranormal mysteries, and the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day. She loves myths, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Check out Kat’s Pinterest page for the people, places and things that inspire her books.

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Enraptured: The Discovery by Barbara Bretton #PNR #holidays

Holiday Songs
I’m not a fan of Christmas
decorations popping up the week before Halloween, but when it comes to holiday
music, all bets are off. We all know that music has magical properties that
defy logic. Two random notes from an old top ten hit and suddenly you’re
fifteen again, crushing over the boy next door.
Now multiply that burst of
emotion by one hundred and you have the magic of holiday music. And not just
the standard (and wonderful) Christmas carols. Some surprising choices have
been known to sneak onto my list of favorites. See if you agree.
Feliz Navidad – Shoprite has the
clever habit of blasting Jose Feliciano’s version throughout the store and
every time it sends me dancing up the aisles, buying way more stuff than any
normal human being could possible eat.
Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt is a
favorite of mine. This is a wickedly sexy take on the holidays.
The Chipmunks Christmas Song
(Christmas Don’t Be Late) – I was nine years old! I can’t be held accountable
for my taste in music. Of course, that doesn’t explain why it still makes me
smile from ear to ear.
Good King Wenceslas – What can I
say? I love this song.
Have Yourself a Merry Little
Christmas – and pass the Kleenex. The title alone is enough to make me cry.
So what are your favorite (and
maybe unexpected) choices?

 

Enraptured: The Discovery

The Sugar Maple Chronicles

Book Seven

Barbara Bretton

 

 

 

Genre:  Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Free Spirit Press
Date of Publication:  October 15, 2019
ASIN:  B07Y2PLWXG
Number of pages:  255
Word Count: 66,000
Cover Artist: Barbara Bretton
Tagline:  Welcome to Sugar Maple – where nothing is quite the way it seems
Book Description:
Chloe Hobbs, knit shop owner extraordinaire and de facto mayor of the picture-postcard perfect New England town, has faced danger to her beloved home before but this time she might have met her match.
When tech billionaire Jack Whittaker crashes his small plane in the middle of the Holiday Street Fair, the town’s future is suddenly in jeopardy. Plunged into a whirlwind of magick and mystery that includes Fae warriors and flying babies, Jack discovers a secret cave where a reflecting pool offers tantalizing glimpses into both the past and the future.
With two lives hanging in the balance, Chloe is in a race against time to uncover the secrets hidden inside the cave before it’s too late.
Excerpt:

Are you a worrier?

Since the birth of my daughter last year, I have become a world-class, gold medal-winning worrier. I worry that Laria isn’t getting enough sleep and then, when she’s snuggled down for the night, I lurk in the doorway to her room and listen for the soft sound of her breathing.  I worry that she isn’t getting enough milk. I worry about the transition to solids. I worry about childproofing our cottage. I worry about potty training and her first day of school.

Mostly I worry about what she’s going to be when she grows up. All things considered, that’s pretty silly because everyone in Sugar Maple knows that Laria’s future had been determined long before she was born.

But, then again, so was mine.

I’m Chloe Hobbs, the half-sorceress/half-human owner of Sticks & Strings, the most popular yarn shop in New England. (And maybe the entire east coast . . . not that I’m proud of it, or anything.) I’m also the de factomayor of Sugar Maple, one of those postcard-perfect towns Vermont is famous for, a picturesque throwback to simpler times.

At least, that’s what we want you to think.

The truth is, there is a lot more to our small town than meets the eye. My BFF Janice, who owns the spa across the street, is a Harvard-educated witch married to a strapping selkie. Lynette, my other BFF, is a shapeshifter. She and her husband and kids keep our local theater up and running. A werewolf and his sons operate the hardware store.

A Norwegian troll named Lilith maintains both our library and our historical society. Three generations of Fae run the Sugar Maple Inn and restaurant. Don’t laugh, but a team of vampires own the funeral home.

And that’s just for starters.

We have been hiding here in plain sight since my sorceress ancestor Aerynn fled the horrors of Salem centuries ago to found a sanctuary for other magicks like her.

I’m not bragging when I say that for over three hundred years, we’ve done a pretty good job of flying below the radar. The fact that you didn’t know about us is proof of that. Thanks to a protective charm created by Aerynn, we have been able to escape discovery even while living and working among humans. I’ll admit, however, that it was a lot easier before the Internet and drones and smartphones became part of our daily lives.

And there are a few old-timers around town who would say I was the biggest threat of all. We were already a popular stop for tourists looking to experience a trip to nostalgic, old school New England, when the runaway success of Sticks & Strings added a steady stream of knitters to our village. Now I’m not saying knitters are nosier than your average visitor, but nothing much gets by them. A dedicated knitter can sniff out a bargain three towns away and will do anything to reel that treasure in.

But knitters go home at night, something you can’t always say about relatives.

 

 

About the Author:
Barbara Bretton is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of fifty books. Her titles have been published in twelve languages in over twenty countries by Harlequin, Berkley, Crown, Pocket, and Free Spirit Press. When Barbara isn’t writing, she can be found knitting, reading, and cooking in New Jersey with her husband and a house filled with pets.
Newsletter: http://bit.ly/2WW7s2h

 

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Book Tour: Annie’s Gift by Barbara Bretton #PNR #holidays

Barbara Bretton Deck the Halls InstaAnnie’s Gift
Rocky Hill Holiday Romance
Book Five
Barbara Bretton

Genre:  Paranormal romance

Publisher: Free Spirit Press

Date of Publication:  2017

ISBN:1973271575
ASIN:  B077BF911C
Number of pages:  80
Word Count:  20,000

Cover Artist: Erin Dameron-Hill

Because love never dies… 

Everyone knows Christmas is a time for family but not for Harry Barnes. If he had his way, he would close his eyes and not open them again until January second when all the fuss was over. Once upon a time he had loved the season but that was a long time ago. His wife Annie and daughter Erin are gone and he hasn’t spoken to his only son, Sam, in years.

The Christmas candlesticks he’d lovingly carved for Annie and their children are buried in the attic under a thick layer of dust along with memories that could break a man’s heart . . . if he still had one left to break.

After years of living on military bases all around the world, Sam Barnes has moved his family back home for keeps but they might as well still be in Japan or England or Timbuktu for all the difference it makes. His father’s heart is still closed to the idea of family and there is nothing Sam can do to change it. Not even if the only thing his twelve-year-old daughter Riley wants for Christmas is the grandfather she has never met.

But then on a snowy Christmas Eve in Rocky Hill, Harry and Sam are visited by a determined mother and daughter who have just a few earth hours to bring their family together or lose them forever.

Amazon

Annie's Gift Deck the Halls with Books

When it comes to the holidays, I am a traditionalist. Whether it’s the movies we watch, the music we listen to, or the food we eat, I look forward to revisiting those old (and beloved) favorites every single year.

One of our most cherished traditions is our Christmas Eve Brownie Extravaganza. Deep. Dark. Still warm from the oven. Crowned with a ginormous scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with a holiday-red maraschino cherry.

Why limit this delicious guilty pleasure to just Christmas Eve? These brownies would be delicious any day of the year!

Ingredients

8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted

1-1/2 cups butter (6 ounces), melted

6 eggs

3 cups sugar

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons vanilla

1 cup nuts, chopped (optional)

Beat eggs, adding sugar and vanilla. Add the melted chocolate and butter. Blend until light and airy. Add flour, then nuts (if using.)

Bake in a pre-heated 350-degree oven in two 8-inch pans for 25-30 minutes. Do not overcook. They should be moist in the center. The timing is personal. Keep checking and take it out of the oven when it’s reached the degree of doneness that warms your heart.

Top with ice cream and enjoy.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Excerpt:

He heard a sound like autumn leaves crackling underfoot, and then felt a soft rush of cinnamon-scented air as a small form appeared then disappeared right in front of his eyes.

He watched, paralyzed with fear and hope, as she took form one more time, looking less like a hologram and more like a flesh and blood woman. The woman he had loved since he was sixteen years old.

“Annie!” Her name tore from his throat and spilled into the space between them. This was his Annie, before sorrow and sickness had taken their toll.

Bubbles of laughter danced in the air around her. “I did it! How about that, Harry? I did it!”

He reached for her hand but it was like grasping cotton candy. His brain was a bowl of overcooked oatmeal. “I don’t know what’s going on.”

The room began to spin. He could feel himself starting to go under and he put his head between his knees.

“Low blood sugar,” she said, shaking her head. “I don’t miss that at all.”

“It’s not low blood sugar,” he managed, gulping in some air. “I’m talking to a ghost.”

“If you want to put it that way, I guess you are.”

What other way was there to put it? He had buried his beloved wife six months ago and now here she was in their living room acting like nothing had happened.

He took another huge gulp of air then lifted his head.

“I’m still here,” she said, her tone softening. “You can trust your senses.”

“Why?” he asked, his disbelief beginning to show cracks. “How?”

She spread her arms wide. “Look at this place! You’d never know it was Christmas Eve.”

“It doesn’t feel like Christmas Eve.”

“It would if you put some effort into it. Put up a tree. String some lights.” She aimed a sharp look in his direction. “Place the candles in the window where they belong.”

“No.”

Her brows darted into a scowl. “Did you forget your promise?”

“That promise was made a long time ago. Things change.”

“Family doesn’t.”

“I don’t have a family anymore. When I lost you, I lost everything.”

She reached out and for a second he imagined he felt the touch of her hand. But that was crazy, wasn’t it? She was no more real than Santa Claus or Easter Bunny.

“I’m here because I love you,” she said. “And because you need me tonight.”

Tears threatened to overwhelm him. He wanted to believe.

“I need you every night, Annie. That’s never changed.”

“But tonight is the night you asked for me.”

One moment he was standing there next to the refrigerator with a carton of brown eggs in his hand.

The next moment the eggs were on the floor in a yellow and white mess and his Annie was in his arms.

He had lived long enough to know that second chances didn’t happen often in life.

This time he wasn’t going to let her go.

About the Author:

Barbara Bretton is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of fifty books. Her titles have been published in twelve languages in over twenty countries by Harlequin, Berkley, Crown, Pocket, and Free Spirit Press. When Barbara isn’t writing, she can be found knitting, reading, and cooking in New Jersey with her husband and a house filled with pets.

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Book Tour: Sweet Anticipation by Andrew Grey #holidaystories #romance #LGBTQA

Title: Sweet Anticipation
Author: Andrew Grey
Series: Standalone
Genre:M/M Holiday
Romance/ Gay Romance/ LGTBQA
Release Date: Dec 1 2019
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print (1st
Edition)
Blurb/Synopsis:
Greg Hansen’s pregnant sister is on bed rest, so it falls to Greg to finalize the arrangements for her best friend’s bachelorette party.
Little does he know he’s in for a sweet surprise. When he arrives at the bakery recommended to him, he comes face to face with the man he never should’ve let get away—Rhys Denning.
Rhys’s business is booming with the holidays approaching, so he can’t agree to cater the party without help—and that means Greg getting his
hands dirty in the kitchen, where the two reconnect over sugar, spice, holiday goodies of all kinds, and even some penis-shaped baguettes! But the most satisfying treat might be the second chance they never thought they’d get.

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Book Tour: Heartward by Andrew Grey #LGBT #GayRomance #romancebooks #newrelease

 

 

 

Title: Heartward
Author: Andrew Grey
Series: Standalone
Genre:  M/M
Contemporary Romance/ Gay Romance/ LGTBQA  
Release Date: Nov 12 2019
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print (1st
Edition)
Blurb/Synopsis:
He doesn’t know that home is where his heart will be….
Firefighter Tyler Banik has seen his share of adventure
while working disaster relief with the Red Cross. But now that he’s adopted
Abey, he’s ready to leave the danger behind and put down roots. That means
returning to his hometown—where the last thing he anticipates is falling for
his high school nemesis.
Alan Pettaprin isn’t the boy he used to be.  As a business owner and council member, he’s
working hard to improve life in Scottville for everyone. Nobody is more
surprised than Alan when Tyler returns, but he’s glad. For him, it’s a chance
to set things right. Little does he guess he and Tyler will find the missing
pieces of themselves in each other. Old rivalries are left in the ashes,
passion burns bright, and the possibility for a future together stretches in
front of them….
But not everyone in town is glad to see Tyler return….

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