BOOK TOUR: The Wounded Hearts Duology by Debbie Cromack #contemporaryromance @Debbie_Cromack

Someone Exactly Like Me

The Wounded Hearts Duology Book 1

by Debbie Cromack

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Drama

#1 Best Seller in AU and CA in European Drama

Wow! That was the most intense slow burn that I have ever read.” ~ Sharon, Amazon Reviewer

He offered me a deal…

A deal I shouldn’t have taken.

Now that I’m in, how do I get out?

Niccolo Mancini is the last person I expected to steam into my life. Me, a struggling romance author. Him, a scorching-hot, Italian, film star who’s just skyrocketed to fame.

Our business agreement has us spending a lot of time together, much of it under the same roof.

As the terms of the deal play out, undeniable attraction ignites.

Secrets are exposed. Hearts entangle.

What’s a girl to do?

You’ll love this tantalizing, push-and-pull relationship because everyone yearns to experience the tumultuous journey that leads to a happily ever after. Get ready for a raw, real, emotional love story that will suck you in, hit all your feels, and leave your heart smiling.

Get it now!

Someone Exactly Like Me is a slow burn, friends to lovers, forced proximity romance about an off-limits celebrity and the romance author who unexpectedly steals his heart.

This is Book 1 in the Wounded Hearts Series. While it can be read as a standalone, your experience will be better if you read this book first. I hope you enjoy this soul mates, strong female friendship, broken hero, contemporary romance story. Great summer beach read!

**On Sale for Only .99cents July 11th-12th!!**

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Kiss Away Your Pain

The Wounded Hearts Duology Book 2

When it comes to captivating slow burn romance, Ms. Cromack is a master at it. In this emotionally charged contemporary romance, she weaves a complex story of grief, heartbreak, family, friends, love, and happiness that is bound to etch a lasting impression on your soul.” ~Angela Ford, Romance Author

I’d had it all…

Career of my dreams. The best friend a girl could ask for.

And the love of my life. How could I have known he’d be gone too soon?

That kind of love doesn’t happen twice.

Until…

One. Single. Touch.

A passion ignites between us that neither of us have ever felt.

When the reality behind our intense connection comes to light, that passion explodes in our faces.

Once it’s revealed, there’s no undoing it, no changing it.

And I don’t know if I’ll ever get him back…

You’ll love this emotional love story filled with passion, grief, and learning to love again because everyone roots for a second chance at finding love. Grab your tissues and get ready for a raw, real, emotional love story that will suck you in, hit all your feels, and leave your heart smiling.

Get it now!

This is Book 2 in the Wounded Hearts Series. While it can be read as a standalone, your experience will be better if you read Someone Exactly Like Me first. I hope you enjoy this SLOW BURN, soul mates, broken / Mediterranean hero, contemporary romance story. Great summer beach read!

**PreOrder now for Only $1.99!**

Amazon * Books2Read * Bookbub * Goodreads

Debbie Cromack is a contemporary romance author who writes realistic, romantic love stories with a lot of heart and a hint of steam. She’s been called the master of the slow burn.

After spending 25+ years in corporate America, being the CEO of an event decorating company, and then an online business coach, she tried her hand at writing romance novels late in life and has been writing ever since.

She’s an Amazon international bestselling author and has been featured in Forbes.

The Personal Side of Her:

She has a bunny named Nutmeg, who’s quite the little snuggler. She also has two Nigerian dwarf goats, Patches and Tiny Tim, and many chickens.

She does her best to eat healthy and organic however, she does have a wicked sweet-tooth for chocolate and tries to only indulge on special occasions. Her biggest indulgence…hot cocoa!!

Website * Facebook * FB Group * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

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BOOK TOUR: Calla’s Candy (The Flowers of Avenel) by Karen Tjebben #contemporaryromance @RABTBookTours @KTjebbenAuthor #RABTBookTours

The Flowers of Avenel  Book 5

Contemporary Romance

Date Published: 05-31-2022

 

 

Sugar flows through Calla Taylor’s veins, so owning her own candy
shop is her dream come true. She has independence and the chance to surround
herself with her passion… candy. But life in Avenel, a small island
town, has its challenges. The summer’s hurricane season hit her hard,
and now that winter has begun, she’s not sure Calla’s Candy can
hold out until the warmer temperatures lure tourists back to the
beaches.

Ash Singh has it all: good looks, a charming personality, and a pile of
money that just continues to grow. He also has a broken heart. Because of
the hellish way his last relationship ended, he wasn’t sure he could
ever love again. But meeting Calla changed everything. It started small.
When she smiled, the jagged edges of his heart found their match and sealed
together. Her laugh revived a pulse that sent need and desire through his
soul. But when he held her in his arms as they danced, he felt something he
hadn’t felt in a long time. Hope.

But one thoughtless act cuts Calla to the core and threatens the hope that
took root in Ash’s soul. He sets out to not only save his relationship
with Calla, but he vows to save Calla’s Candy too.

 

Excerpt

Excited jitters ran through Calla as she sat next to the gorgeous man she’d instantly believed to be out of her league. She wasn’t good at flirting. She didn’t bar hop in hopes of finding a man. And just a few bad dates arranged on the internet had cured her of her willingness to give the web a try.

In her heart, she knew that she wasn’t the type of woman that a man of his looks went for, but it would be fun to pretend they had chemistry while at the wedding reception.

Ashwin twisted his torso so he could look directly at the beauty. He rested one arm on the back of his chair and leaned towards her. He said, “If you don’t mind me saying, you make that dress look amazing.” Once the words were out, he knew they sounded cheesy, but her beauty and that dress had his brain spinning. The lack of sleep mixed with the whiskey he’d already consumed didn’t help either.

Calla blushed, embarrassed by the praise, and a little shocked. She’d been nervous about wearing such a glamorous dress to the wedding since she didn’t want to be overdressed, but when she spotted this dress at the Goodwill on the mainland, she knew she had to have it. She’d paid less for this Oscar worthy dress than a t-shirt at Target.

She loved everything about the dress. The soft velvet fabric, the deep burgundy color felt regal, and the miraculous truth that despite the dress fitting her like a glove, she didn’t feel pudgy in it. Somehow, the dress minimized her love handles. Her working theory on that miracle was that the dress maximized her ample breasts which then drew attention away from her muffin top. In this dress, no one would even notice her waistline.

But in this dress, she felt beautiful. Not only beautiful, but worthy of thinking of herself as beautiful. She knew that didn’t make sense. A dress or her appearance didn’t make her worthy of thinking positively about herself, but she couldn’t deny that she felt amazing.

Wrapped in the rich fabric, it was almost like she’d shed the chrysalis of modesty and accepted herself for the gorgeous butterfly that she is. She wanted to be looked at… admired… cherished. And her heart raced a little faster when the hunger in his eyes lapped over her.

Was this what if felt like to irresistible?

“Thank you,” she replied. God, she could feel herself getting turned on. She hadn’t felt that fluttering of lust in her core for too long. His confidence and self-assuredness touched her primal needs. And with his looks, even the married women were staring at him.

Her breathing hitched and she willed herself under control. “You look quite dapper yourself, Mr. Sing.”

He ran a hand down the lapel of his suit jacket. “This old thing,” he teased with a confident wink. He was used to dressing to perfection. His parents had instilled in him the belief that first impressions mattered, and that people did judge a book by its cover. That was just the way the world worked. He’d been skilled in the ways to impress and wow the people that he met.

Calla bit the inside of her lip. She didn’t want to say anything stupid. This gorgeous man turned her thoughts to mush. She wanted to run her fingers through his black hair. She couldn’t decide if his hair was wavy or curly. But his eyes stole the show. Those brown eyes had hints of a lighter color swirling in them. Was it blue or green? She couldn’t say for sure, but his eyelashes worked overtime summoning her attention. They were the kind of eyelashes that women paid good money for.

His kissable full lips demanded their share of attention too. Her stomach fluttered at the thought of his lips pressing against hers. God, just the thought gave her goose bumps. Their fullness gave her the impression of strength and boldness. Would they feel like an intimate caress as they traveled over her body?

“You can call me Ash. May I call you Calla?” he replied. “That’s a beautiful name.”

“Yes, and thank you.” The deep tones of his words resonated over her and awoke the butterflies within her. She dug her nail into the skin around her thumbnail, hoping the discomfort would settle her attention on something other than how amazingly hot he was and how nervous

that made her.

He cleared his throat and continued, “Calla… How did you end up named after a flower?”

She gave him a coy smile with a raised brow. “I’m impressed that you know that.” Most men had no clue that Calla was a type of lily. “That’s a funny story. I’m lucky I didn’t end up being named Bird of Paradise,” she chuckled.

He liked the sound of her giggle, friendly and sweet, pleasing to his ears. “Then please tell me.” He leaned closer, “And by the way, you could totally pull off Paradise for a name.”

She laughed, thankful that her name wasn’t Paradise. Middle school and high school had been bad enough. With a name like Paradise, her life would have been hell.

About the Author

Karen Tjebben lives in central Georgia with her wonderful husband and twin
daughters. She loves traveling the world. Whether it’s to the heights of
Yosemite, the white sands of the Caribbean, or even Down Under, she’s always
ready to pack a bag in search of inspiration. She enjoys creating worlds
filled with unique characters that will delight and raise goose bumps on her
readers.

 

Contact Links

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Twitter

Goodreads

 

Purchase Link

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Leningrad: The People’s War by Rachel R. Heil #HistoricalFiction #WorldWarII #Leningrad #BlogTour #CoffeePotBookClub @HeilRachelR @maryanneyarde

Leningrad: The People’s War

(Leningrad, Book 1)

By Rachel R. Heil

Leningrad, 1941. As Europe crumbles under the German war machine, the people of the Soviet Union watch. There are whispers of war but not loud enough for the civilians of Leningrad to notice. Instead, they keep their heads down and try to avoid the ever-watching eyes of their own oppressive government.

University student Tatiana Ivankova tries to look ahead to the future after a family tragedy that characterizes life under the brutal regime. But, when the rumors that have been circulating the country become a terrifying reality, Tatiana realizes that the greatest fear may not be the enemy but what her fellow citizens are prepared to do to each other to survive.

As his men plow through the Russian countryside, Heinrich Nottebohm is told to follow orders and ask no questions, even if such commands go against his own principles. His superiors hold over him a past event that continues to destroy him with every day that passes. But, when given the opportunity to take an act of defiance, Heinrich will jump at the chance, ignoring what the end results could be.

Leningrad: The Peoples War tells the harrowing beginning of a war that forever changed the landscape of a city, told through the eyes of both sides in a tale of courage, love, and sacrifice.

Buy Links:

This novel is available on #KindleUnlimited.

Universal Link: mybook.to/LeningradWar

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08PMM3NX6

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08PMM3NX6

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B08PMM3NX6

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B08PMM3NX6

GUEST POST

Leningrad: The People’s War is the first book in a three-book seriesand depicts events in Leningrad from June to December, 1941. Following Russian university student Tatiana Ivankova and German military commander Heinrich Nottebohm, the story of the Siege of Leningrad is told from both the Russian and German perspective and explores how Leningrad and her people became a symbol of resilience and strength.

I’ve been fascinated with history for as long as I can remember and World War Two has been one of my main points of interest for just as long. While I am interested with learning facts about major battles I’ve always been drawn to personal stories of those who lived, fought, and survived. Stories that depict the hardships of war but also the resilience of ordinary civilians has always drawn me in and this can be clearly seen in stories concerning the Siege of Leningrad.

IMAGE CREDIT IS BORIS KUDOYAROV, VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
“Leningraders clearing rubble following an air raid, 1 May 1942.”

The encirclement of Leningrad in the Soviet Union lasted 872 days and remains one of the longest sieges in history. While countless civilians and military personnel lost their lives defending Leningrad, many others survived to share their stories with future generations, even when the government attempted to silence them. Within hours of reading some of the facts of the siege I was sketching out an outline of a story that would depict the event from start to finish.

Research can be a meticulous process but I enjoy it. It serves as the foundation of your story and sometimes can inspire events that will transpire in your narrative. Yet, the research process for the Siege of Leningrad was a bit more difficult than I had anticipated. Unlike Stalin’s purge in the 1930s, the Holodomor, and the Gulag system, information and educational resources on the Siege of Leningrad is far less extensive. Quite a bit of this can be contributed to the fact that the Soviet government did everything they could to eliminate the disaster of Leningrad from people’s memory.

While the city had not fallen the cost of human life to defend it was atrocious and stories of Party officials refusing to let citizens flee Leningrad when they had the chance or the lack of action taken to get food to those stuck in the city had to be silenced. It is not difficult to imagine that a lot of valuable documents pertaining to the siege were destroyed or remain locked up in Russian archives. For example, we don’t have an exact death toll of those who died in Leningrad. Soviet authorities ultimately admitted at the Nuremberg war crime trials that 632,253 people lost their lives in Leningrad but most scholars agree the number is far higher than what the Soviet government admitted. Historians have provided theories based on the information we do have available, such as survivors’ accounts and population numbers from before the war, but they can’t be entirely accurate due to the influx of refugees who came to Leningrad and those who did manage to get out the city before the encirclement. We also have evidence of physical reminders of the siege like manuscripts, artwork, and captured German equipment like Tiger tanks and canons that were initially displayed in a Leningrad museum immediately after the war but were then taken away and have never been seen since.

IMAGE CREDIT IS BORIS KUDOYAROV, VIA WIKIPEDIA
“Leningraders leaving their destroyed homes following German bombardment, December 1942. These individuals were among the lucky ones who survived the first winter of the siege.”

Survivors who dared speak out about their experiences were silenced either by being imprisoned or in some cases executed. Survivors of the siege were treated as second class citizens and were seen as an embarrassment. Vainly, they tried to keep the memory of the siege alive with varying success but were ultimately ignored or shrugged off as just another group of people who experience hardships during the war. As a result of this persecution and lack of understanding, many Leningraders were tight lipped about their experiences, something that has thankfully diminished when Mikhail Gorbachev opened the archives in the 1980s, allowing previously repressed survivors to tell their stories. Within weeks newspapers were being filled with Leningraders telling their stories, revealing tales of losing all their family members and friends, starving through the first winter, and yet still not losing hope for final victory. Their tales of survival in the face of impossible odds are ones that should be continually told and helped serve as the basis of the Russian characters in Leningrad.

Though resources were scarce, I found that the ones that did exist were rich with detail. Journalist Harrison Salisbury, who wrote the first account of the siege, was able to correspond with several survivors who gave their vivid memories for Salisbury to immortalize. Likewise, historian Anna Reid has been able to incorporate information that was previously not available but opened on Gorbachev’s orders to provide some of the missing pieces to the Leningrad puzzle. Finally, the survivors who were finally able to voice their stories paint a picture of a group of people who would not be so easily defeated and should serve as inspirations for all of us.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachel R. Heil is a historical fiction writer who always dreamed of being an author. After years of dreaming, she finally decided to turn this dream into a reality with her first novel, and series, Behind the Darkened Glass. Rachel is an avid history fan, primarily focused on twentieth century history and particularly World War Two-era events. In addition to her love for history, Rachel loves following the British Royal Family and traveling the world, which only opens the door to learning more about a country’s history. Rachel resides in Wisconsin.

Social Media Links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeilRachelR

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RachelRHeil

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rachel-heil-90bbb6119/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachelrheil/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/rachel-r-heil

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Rachel-R-Heil/e/B07MY8DZT8

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18802162.Rachel_R_Heil

BOOK TOUR: Ghost Light by Jane Tesh #Paranormal #Mystery @janetesh

Ghost Light

by Jane Tesh

Genre: Paranormal Mystery

Theodosia “Teddy” Ballard knows nothing about community theater, but when the stage manager for “Little Shop of Horrors” takes a tragic header down the costume-loft stairs, she agrees to fill in for the sake of her actor friend, Will. Teddy takes the superstitions and swelled heads of The Stage in stride—till she meets George Clancy Everhart, the theater ghost, who informs her that the previous stage manager was murdered and demands that she find the killer. Both investigation and rehearsals are complicated when she makes a surprising discovery about her relationship with Will—and learns that George has his own dramatic agenda.

There was no way I had left a door open, but I got up and checked again. Must be a draft from somewhere in this old building. I retrieved the scattered pages and made sure they were in the right order.

I heard a thud as if something had fallen over backstage. Looking in the wings, I found a hammer on the floor. I put it back where it belonged and returned to my papers.

An overhead light flickered, red, then green, then white.

“All right, that’s enough.” I got to my feet for the third time. “Good joke, Will. Ha, ha. Now show yourself.”

“I beg your pardon, dear lady,” said a deep voice.

I stared in disbelief as a man appeared before me. He was tall and elegantly dressed in a three piece suit and cravat. His features were blurry, but he had an aristocratic air, a distinctive nose, and a satisfied smile.

He removed his bowler hat and bowed. “George Clancy Everhart, at your service.”

I didn’t know how Will had managed to create this image. This must have been some bizarre rite of passage for people new to the theater. Well, it wasn’t going to rattle me.

“Theodosia Ballard,” I said. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“Theodosia! What a splendid name!”

“I prefer Teddy.”

“Teddy? That’s a boy’s name! You are a woman, and a very fine woman, at that. Such a magnificent presence! You should be on stage.”

“I am on stage right now, and I have a lot of work to do, so you can turn yourself off, disappear, whatever, just go away.”

He looked startled. “You don’t believe in me.”

“I believe you’re a really good special effect. Go on now, get lost.”

The image drew himself up. “My good woman, you are speaking to one of the premiere actors of the Twentieth Century. Why, I appeared in hundreds of plays during my lifetime. Thousands of performances! All to great acclaim!”

“I’m sure you did.”

“Excellent reviews! Encores by the score!”

“Then why are you haunting a little theater in Rossboro, North Carolina? Shouldn’t you be in New York? London?”

He paused and put a hand to his heart. “You wound me to the core, Theodosia. In my later years, my career took a sad tumble. Like your lover William, I was unable to continue my passion for Broadway. I ended up here, disillusioned but undefeated.”

“Whoa, hold on, buster. Will is not my lover. And how do you know about his New York experience?” I’d had enough. “Will, stop this right now. It isn’t funny.”

“I agree, Theodosia. It is tragic. The boy has such talent, such a love for theater.”

“Stop it.” I moved to push the man away, but my hands went right through him, and I almost fell into the orchestra pit. A strong force shoved me away from the edge.

“Dear me,” he said. “You must be more careful.”

I caught my breath. “I don’t believe in ghosts. Why are you here?”

“Because you need my help,” he said.

“What do I need your help for?”

“Why, to solve the murder, of course! I liked Paula. She was efficient. I admired her work ethic. I do hope you have a strong work ethic, Theodosia.”

“Wait, wait. Go back to the first thing. Solve the murder? No one’s calling Paula’s death a murder!”

“But it was,” George Clancy Everhart said. “I saw it.”

Jane Tesh, a retired media specialist, lives in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, Andy Griffith’s home town, the real Mayberry. She is the author of the Madeline Maclin Mysteries, featuring former beauty queen, Madeline “Mac” Maclin and her reformed con man husband, Jerry Fairweather, and the Grace Street Mystery Series, featuring struggling PI David Randall, his psychic friend, Camden, and an array of tenants who move in and out of Cam’s boarding house at 302 Grace Street. Ghost Light is her first standalone mystery and the first to feature an asexual heroine.

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BOOK TOUR: Asylum by Susy Smith #dystopian #romanticsuspense @susy8469 

 

Asylum 

Asylum Series 
Book One
Susy Smith
 
Genre: Dystopian Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Balkan Press
Date of Publication: August 17, 2021
ISBN: 195487118X
ASIN: B09C4WRJQH
Number of pages: 330
Word Count: 87k
 
Tagline: A fight for freedom
 
Book Description: 
 
In the aftermath of the Big Crash, the President of the United States declares martial law. The National Guard rounds up citizens who are never heard from again. While fear and chaos reign, a small band of revolutionaries rise up to resist.
 
Lacy Monroe, barely out of high school, never saw herself as a leader. All that changed after the Big Crash. When the rest of her family fled, she remained on the farm, the last piece of land in the state holding out against the hostile government. Alone and vulnerable, she endures a horrific attack, yet survives and offers sanctuary to others like herself—until an old friend turns her world upside-down.
 
Jace Cooper has harbored a secret for years—he is completely in love with his best friend’s sister. The world is crumbling around them, no one knows how long they will survive, and all he wants is to protect Lacy and stay with her.
 
With the National Guard circling ever closer, hunger and sickness taking a toll, and betrayal and jealousy threatening to destroy the group from the inside, the struggle to hold onto the farm pushes them to the brink. And Lacy is keeping a secret so devastating it could drive Jace to unthinkable actions. Is the farm a safe asylum—or will the fight for freedom destroy them?
 

Book
Trailer: https://youtu.be/T1kpaMsvkSw


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Excerpt

“Can I ask you something?” Lacy asked quietly.

Jace looked over his shoulder. “Anything.”

“This tattoo on your back.” She ran a finger down his spine. He shivered.

“Yeah?”

“Why do you have it? I mean, what made you get a wolf-dragon tattoo? It’s unique.”

“Do you want the short answer or the long one?” She trailed her finger back up his spine. “Just tell me what was on your mind. Did you design it?”

“Yeah, I did,” he said, his voice husky. Her fingers kept tracking his spine and he found concentration difficult. “I’ve always been fascinated with dragons. The
symbolism behind the myth. I love everything about them. But the dragon needs
temperance. With great power comes arrogance, conceit, and a thirst for even
more power.” He chuckled and glanced at her.

“Just about everything you’ve accused me of.”

Her hand stilled. “Jace, I—”

“It’s okay,” he reassured her, giving her leg a squeeze. “Don’t feel bad.”

“Go on,” she urged.

He continued to tread water. “Well, the dragon holds immense possibility while the wolf relies on his instincts to guide him. Combined, the dragon sees all the
possibilities before him, but the wolf chooses based on instinct. His heart
guides him. It’s a balance. The dragon embodies primordial power. The wolf
checks it with his ability to relate to others. The wolf takes on everything
the dragon is—his protection, loyalty, fearlessness, and strength—and enhances
it, makes it stronger. The two combined incorporate everything I want to be.
The tattoo is a reminder. Especially when I’m having a bad day.”

She laughed. “Or when someone accuses you of being conceited?”

“Pretty much,” he admitted. “Do you like it?”

“I do. You said you designed it. Does that mean you drew this?”

“Yeah. I knew what I wanted.”

“Wow.” She sounded impressed. “I had no idea you could draw. You’re talented.”

He grinned. “Girl, you have no idea just how talented I am.”

“And the dragon rises.”

Laughter burst from his chest. “Touché.”

A red-eared slider swam their direction. “Look.” He pointed at the turtle’s nose jutting out of the water.

Her grip around his neck tightened. “Let’s go back.”

“He won’t hurt you,” he said, laughing, but swam back anyway. He helped her out then hoisted himself on the dock beside her. He retrieved his shirt and offered
it to her. “Dry off with this.”

She took the shirt and mopped her face. “Pond water is so gross, but that was fun.” She gave him a demure smile. “Thanks. I needed that.”

He spent the rest of the day making her laugh. Being her distraction. But as the
afternoon waned, so did her spirits. She shifted from cheerful to pensive. The
temperature dropped as the western sun burned to the ground. “I guess we’d
better get back.”

She sighed. “Yup. Duty calls.”

They untied their horses and started back. When Highway 11 stretched before them like a winding, black snake, he trotted up beside her and grinned. “I saw the
girl I used to know today.”

They crossed the highway onto Monroe land then she turned and faced him, eyes full of pain and regret. “That girl is gone, Jace. She doesn’t exist anymore. If
that’s who you’re looking for then give up because you’re wasting your time.”
She gave Acer a nudge and galloped away. Frustrated, he urged his horse
forward. She wasn’t going to run. Not this time. He raced beside her and
grabbed her reins.

Eight hooves skidded on dirt and loose gravel and halted in a dusty cloud between the two farmhouses. His horse whinnied, tossing her head. She jerked her reins out of his hands. “That was a stupid thing to do,” she shouted. “I could’ve been
thrown!” Chest heaving, he jumped off his horse. His boots thudded on the
gravel. He stomped around Acer, trying to check his frustration. The girl was
scared, and he didn’t want to demolish the progress he made today. He reached
up and plucked her out of the saddle. “Stop running from me, girl.” He studied
her and saw her demeanor shift from anger to fear. “I’m not going to hurt you.
If you’d crawl out of your pain long enough, you’d see that.” She flung her
hands up, eyes glistening.

“You don’t think I’m trying? I’m drowning trying to save everyone else, but
who’s gonna save me?” She bit her lower lip and looked away. He drew her into
his arms and to his surprise, she didn’t fight him. He rested his chin on her
head and whispered, “Hold on to me. I’ve got you.”

 
Guest Post:

Creating Character: Breathing Life into the Cast of Asylum

If you remove characters from a story, any story, all you’re left with is a news report, right?So, characters, even though they’re metaphors, should feel, act, and speak like people. If you plucked your characters out of your book and Geppetto’d them into real, living beings, would they withstand the test? Or would they fall short as too perfect? Or too flat? No one is princess perfect just as no one, not even the most obtuse person you know, is two dimensional.

  1. First impressions. What is the first thing you notice when you meet someone? Unfortunately, for most of us, it’s their physical appearance. When readers meet characters in a story, they must be able to “see” what they look like. I read a novel recently, and the author never clued me in on what eye color the main character had. For me, that was super annoying. Seasoned authors will tell you to character sketch and that’s one of the first things I had to sit down and do. I mentioned eyes, and for me personally, that’s a big deal. I tend to focus on eye color (for better or worse). You have three basic colors to choose from: blue, green, brown, and their variants. It’s how you describe the color and what shines through them that will help bring your character off the page. My main character, Lacy, had green eyes, but what about them? In Jace’s point of view, he described the color changing with her mood from a thoughtful forest green to glittering diamond hard. Conversely, Jace had blue eyes, but not the light, ice blue of Zach, his brother. They were dark, sometimes with a humorous spark, and other times darkened with desire. In moments your characters can’t speak, their eyes can. Any character can have green, blue, or brown eyes. Breathe life into them. Otherwise, you’re left with a main character’s eyes the same boring brown as your supporting cast.
  2. Give your characters flaws. This was hard for me to do. Even though I wanted Lacy, my main character, to react to diverse, difficult situations with unerring grace, I realized she couldn’t. I let her make mistakes: lose her temper with Jace, treat Hailey harshly, yell at Cat. I placed her in unthinkable circumstances. Of course, she was going to fail! Why? Because that’s what people do. How they handle and grow from their failures shows the reader of whatmettle your character’s made. Crawl through their head for their reactions. At the beginning of Asylum, Lacy suffered a brutal attack. As her rapist was leaving, I felt I had to show how absolutely devastated and angry she was. I can’t tell you how many times I re-wrote the scene until she uttered two words to himthat summed up everything she felt. As an author, I’m never happy using vulgar language, but at that point in Lacy’s life, those two words were exactly what she would’ve said. Even though I fought her (and myself), I eventually conceded they were the best two words to write.
  3. Character vernacular; keep it real! If it sounds stiff and too formal as you read it back to yourself, it probably is. I had to go back and edit in contractions, and even use words like, y’all. Two of my characters needed their speech to set them apart. Raul, born and raised in Mexico, needed to sound different. Think about how a foreigner doesn’t contract their words. They say things like, “I do not understand,” instead of,“I don’t get it.” Edwards, an older gentleman and from a different era, used words like fella instead of guy or man. Set your characters apart by what they say, how they sound. Otherwise, you’re back to a news report.
  4. Oh, the feels… Showing my character’s emotion instead of tellingabout it was what I struggled with the most. Those dang adverbs ending in ‘ly’ tripped me up more times than I can count. Don’t underestimate the power of movement. Show your character’s frustration by pacing, running a hand through their hair, heat rising up their neck, etc. In Asylum, I wrote, “Her feet slammed against the wood floor. Her socks softened the impact, and much to her disappointment, muted the sound.” This showed Lacy’s frustration. It took a lot of work to edit in how Lacy felt by her actions. Your character’s differing personalities will show through their actions. In Hailey’s case, she showed how she felt by simply sniffing. I didn’t have to say she was too haughty to do menial household chores to convey her personality. I wrote, “She sniffed. ‘I don’t plunge toilets.’” Can you see it? I can.
  5. Do you know someone who’s eccentric? We all do. Don’t be afraid to give your character a quirk or two. Cat entered Lacy’s life and quickly became her surrogate mother. Even though Cat wasn’t a main character, I wanted her to stand out as no-nonsense, and a bit audacious. She kept the farm running and everyone in line with nonsensical metaphors. One of my favorite examples is when she chastised Jace for picking a fight with Travis. She said, “Travis didn’t have anything to do with what happened to Lacy and you know it. I’ll admit, sometimes he has no more sense than a snake in a snowstorm …” Memorable, right? I mean, who wants to be compared to a snake in a snowstorm?

Breathe life into your characters. You’re omniscient, the master of your own universe. Whether your story is plot driven, or character driven, you need strong characters that will live inside the readers mind long after they’ve finished the book.

About the Author:

 
Susy Smith has a bachelor’s degree in English and is a language teacher for the Kanza Tribe. Her debut novel, Asylum, won the 2020 WriterCon contest in the novel category. She loves creating a home on paper for the characters in her head and dabbling in poetry. She lives in a small Oklahoma town with her husband, four grown children nearby, and two spoiled dog-children.
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

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BOOK TOUR: The Legend of Black Jack by A.R. Witham #YAfantasy #actionadventure @arwitham @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours

Welcome to my stop on the tour for The Legend of Black Jack by A.R. Witham! Read on for more details!

The Legend of Black Jack

Publication Date: May 17th, 2022

Genre: YA Fantasy, Action Adventure, Coming-of-Age, Portal Fantasy (Full Page Illustrations)

Jack Swift can tell you every element on the periodic table, recite Treasure Island verbatim, and would remember in perfect detail every word you’d ever say to him. He has been alone for a long time, so he has buried himself in books, using them to plan his escape.

But no textbook could ever prepare him for the land of Keymark.

At 3:33 a.m. on his fourteenth birthday, Jack is kidnapped by a hideous monster to another sphere of existence. Now there are two moons in the sky, and he is surrounded by grotesque creatures and magical warriors training for battle. They want the impossible: Jack must use his abilities to save a life or be trapped in this bizarre world with no chance of rescue.

Jack doesn’t have secret magic, a great destiny, or any experience.

So why do they all expect him to become a legend?

Content/Trigger Warnings:

Shown on Page: Child Abuse (foster mom hits main character), Child Abduction (main character kidnapped by monster)

Alluded to: Child Neglect (foster mom ignores her wards)

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Blood

The operating room was anything but sterile. The floor was pounded-down dirt, the walls were splintered wood that collected dust by the handful, and the smoking fire in the corner exhaled nearly as much soot into the room as up the chimney. It was dark, it was dirty, and it put the odds against Jack Swift before he even began.

Jack had two concerns, other than the obvious: that Xiang-lo would die the moment he touched him. The first worry was the anesthesia. Dr. Richards had told him repeatedly that in almost any surgery, the drugs used to put the patient to sleep were by far the most dangerous part of a procedure; more men had been killed by a tiny slip in the amount of medication used than from any mistake a surgeon made. The gas passers, as Richards called them, were the background heroes of the operating room, and kept their patients walking the thin line between sleep and death.

Jack had made the calculations for the correct amount of anesthesia, but in the end, it proved unnecessary. Memphis would keep Xiang-lo asleep. Such majik was well within the monster’s mastery, said Valerian, and keeping Xiang-lo out of consciousness and out of pain would be the rhino’s task during the procedure.

The second concern was more personal. “I don’t want to see his face.”

Valerian nodded as if he had been expecting the request. “That has been arranged.”

Good. So the knight understood. “Not just his face,” continued Jack. “I don’t want to see any part of him other than his belly on the right side. There are medical sheets in Memphis’s bag; cover him with those. His chest, his legs, but especially his face. I don’t want to see it.”

Surgery was just like carpentry. Jack had to remember that. But the only way to treat a man like a block of wood was to remove his face, remove his personality, remove any trace of humanity from him…and even then, he would still be a Pinocchio.

If everything went well, Jack would love to hear about Xiang-lo, about who he was, what his dreams were, and how he’d lived his life. But right now, all Jack wanted to know, all he could know, was where to cut.

Besides, some darker part of his mind chided. You don’t want another face haunting your dreams when you kill him.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

A.R. Witham is a three-time Emmy-winning writer-producer and a great lover of adventure. He is the world’s foremost expert on the history of Keymark. He loves to talk with young people and adults who remember what young people know. He has written for film and television, canoed to the Arctic Circle, hiked the Appalachian Trail and been inside his house while it burned down. He lives in Indianapolis.

If you would like a sneak peek at his upcoming work or upcoming events, please reach out to him.

A.R. Witham | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Book Tour Schedule

June 13th

R&R Book Tours (Kick- Off) http://rrbooktours.com

The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

@hodophile_z (Review) https://www.instagram.com/hodophile_z/

@jacleomik33 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/jacleomik33/

Riss Reviews (Review) https://rissreviewsx.wixsite.com/website

@jennlynnadams (Review) https://www.instagram.com/jennlynnadams/

June 14th

Cocktails & Fairytales (Spotlight) https://www.facebook.com/CocktailsFairytales

@jypsylynn (Review) https://www.instagram.com/jypsylynn

@gryffindorbookishnerd (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gryffindorbookishnerd/

Bunny’s Reviews (Review) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

@fle_d (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/fle_d

June 15th

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Spotlight) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

@ofmoviesandbooks (Review) https://www.instagram.com/ofmoviesandbooks/

Books + Coffee = Happiness (Review) https://bookscoffeehappiness.com/

@happily_undignified (Review) https://www.instagram.com/happily_undignified/

@takealookatmybookshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/takealookatmybookshelf/

June 16th

@dany.alvy (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/dany.alvy/

@amber.bunch_author (Review) https://www.instagram.com/amber.bunch_author/

@books_inthecity (Review) https://www.instagram.com/books_inthecity/

@over.on.my.bookshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/over.on.my.bookshelf/?hl=en

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.com/

June 17th

Dark Whimiscal Art (Spotlight) https://www.darkwhimsicalart.com/blogs/news

Sadie’s Spotlight (Spotlight) http://sadiesspotlight.com/

@genoviareadingco (Review) https://www.instagram.com/genoviareadingco/

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

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BOOK TOUR: The Infidelity Curse by Barbara Monajem #historicalromance @BarbaraMonajem

The Infidelity Curse

Perilous Secrets Book 3

by Barbara Monajem

Genre: Historical Romance

The death of her cruel husband means freedom at last for Lucretia Tifton—until she learns that the guardian he chose for her longed-for baby is the latest in a line of earls known for separating their children from unfaithful wives. The elusive new earl is certain to hear the gossip about Lucretia. Will he believe it and prove to be as heartless as his ancestors?

Giles, the Earl of Netherbroke, wants nothing more than to work in his London shop, building furniture with beautiful marquetry finishes. If unexpectedly inheriting the earldom isn’t bad enough, now he’s saddled with an unwanted guardianship. What’s worse, the baby’s mother is the loveliest woman he’s ever seen.

Giles is almost certain Lucretia is an adulteress—and the more he learns about her, the more he understands why she might have betrayed her husband. Nevertheless, he is determined not to succumb, like his ancestors, to the Infidelity Curse.

But then Lucretia is suddenly in danger, and the only way to protect her is to make her his.

Goodreads *

Setup: At the reading of Sir Matthew Tifton’s will, all is going well, except for the unpleasant presence of Sir Matthew’s nephew, Mr. Welton, who has already disrupted the proceedings twice. And then…

“There remains the question of guardianship, which is somewhat unusual,” Mr. Briggs, the solicitor, said.

Oh, God. Lucretia hadn’t thought of that.

“Sir Matthew appointed the Earl of Netherbroke as guardian of his child.” He paused. “Also as trustee, jointly with myself.”

“What the devil? I am meant to be the guardian!” Mr. Welton sprang up. “And the sole trustee, damn you!”

“Mr. Welton, if you cannot restrain yourself,” Mr. Briggs said, “Lady Tifton will be obliged to ask her footman to remove you.”

“Pah! She wouldn’t dare,” Welton said, “not with what I know about her.” He jabbed an accusing finger at Lucretia.

She shrank away. What could he possibly know? She’d never done anything wrong, except . . .

Welton couldn’t know about Johnny Magee. He lived in London and was nowhere near Sussex when the baby was conceived.

“Who,” Noelle demanded, “is the Earl of Netherbroke?”

“He is an elderly peer who lives in Gloucestershire,” Lucretia said. “Sir Matthew and the Earl of Netherbroke were enthusiastic medal collectors. They met once at an auction and corresponded for a short while well over a year ago. Sir Matthew’s passion for marquetry was due to the Earl’s influence. I suppose my husband decided, judging by a brief acquaintance and some expensive furniture from the shop the Earl recommended, that the Earl would make a suitable guardian.” Fury swelled within her, but she strove to keep it from her voice. Surely a doddering earl was better than horrid Mr. Welton.

Mr. Briggs nodded. “Most likely due to his position in society.”

“Society be damned. My uncle feared for his life and the safety of his child.” Welton’s spittle flew. “He knew his precious wife had cuckolded him over and over, and then she tried to poison him with her noxious brews. What sort of mother would she be?”

Aghast, Lucretia clapped a hand to her breast. “No, no! I made him tisanes of healing herbs.” Her voice trembled. “He was ill. I tried to cure him!”

“Hah! You would claim that, wouldn’t you—but you don’t deny that you cuckolded him.”

Before Lucretia could gain control of her voice, he turned to Jellicoe, the valet. “You know all about this, don’t you? Sir Matthew valued you. He confided in you, didn’t he?”

“Yes, sir, he did,” Jellicoe said. “He believed Lady Tifton was trying to kill him. He feared the consequences to the child’s immortal soul if it was left to its mother’s care.”

Welton shook his fist at Lucretia. “You killed him because he was going to change his will. No. More likely he had already changed it, using the services of a more competent solicitor than this fellow. And then you burned it so no one would ever know.”

Lucretia quailed, shaking her head. “No, that’s not true.”

“You’re a whore and a murderess,” he shouted. “You may try to cozen the Earl of Whatshisname, but you won’t succeed. I’ll do whatever it takes to see that he takes the child away from you. You’ll be lucky if you don’t hang!”

A dark cloud swept over Lucretia. She opened her mouth to protest, but no words came, and she fainted dead away.

**Get the first book, The Smuggler’s Escape, FREE June 3rd-5th!!**

Barbara Monajem grew up in western Canada. She wrote her first story in third grade about apple tree gnomes. After dabbling in neighborhood musicals and teen melodrama, she published a middle-grade fantasy when her children were young. Now her kids are adults, and she writes historical and paranormal romance and mystery for grownups. She lives in Georgia, USA , with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and mostly feline strays.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

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BOOK TOUR: Stories My Grandmother Told Me by Gabriela Maya Bernadett #memoir @dwilk @SimonSchuster @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #NonFiction 

Welcome to the tour for this fascinating memoir by Gabriela Maya Bernadett, called Stories My Grandmother Told Me: A Multicultural Journey from Harlem to Tohono O’dham. Read on for more info!

Stories My Grandmother Told Me: A Multicultural Journey from Harlem to Tohono O’dham

Genre: Memoir

Publisher: City Point Press/ Simon & Schuster

The illuminating and deeply personal debut from Gabriela Maya Bernadett, Stories My Grandmother Told Me explores culture, race, and chosen family, set against the backdrop of the twentieth-century American Southwest.

In a hilly Southern California suburb in the late twentieth century, Gabriela Maya Bernadett listens as her grandmother tells her a story.

It’s the true story of Esther Small, the great-granddaughter of slaves, who became one of the few Black students to graduate from NYU in the 1940s. Having grown up in Harlem, Esther couldn’t imagine a better place to live; especially not somewhere in the American Southwest.

But when she learns of a job teaching Native American children on a reservation, Esther decides to take a chance. She soon finds herself on a train to Fort Yuma, Arizona; unaware that each year, the Bureau of Indian Affairs kidnaps the native Tohono O’odham children from the reservation and forces them to be educated in the ‘ways of the White man.’ It doesn’t take long for Esther to notice how Fort Yuma parallels her own grandmother’s story as a slave in the South—the native children, constantly belittled by teachers and peers, are forced to perform manual labor for local farmers.

One of two Black people in Fort Yuma, Esther feels isolated, never sure where she belongs in a community deeply divided between the White people and the Tohono O’odhams. John, the school bus driver and Tohono O’odham tribe member, is one of the only people she connects with. Friendship slowly grows into love, and together, Esther and John navigate a changing America.

Seamlessly weaving in the present day with the past, Stories My Grandmother Told Me blends a woman’s memory of her life, and that woman’s granddaughter’s memories of how she heard these stories growing up. Bernadett’s captivating narrative explores themes of identity, tradition, and belonging, showing what it really means to exist in a multicultural America.

Bookshop.org | Simon & Schuster | Amazon

About the Author

Maya Bernadett grew up in California hearing the stories of her grandmother, Esther Pancho. She grew up in a multi-cultural household, as her father is Mexican American and White and her Mother is Tohono O’odham and Black. At the age of 18 she moved to New Haven, Connecticut to attend Yale University, from which she graduated in 2008 with a degree in the History of Science/History of Medicine. She lived in Tucson briefly, then moved to New York City, and finally returned to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona. She graduated in 2015 with a Master’s Degree in American Indian Studies with a focus on Education. She currently teaches GED classes at the Pascua Yaqui Tribe.

Simon & Schuster

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BOOK TOUR: The Insurgent by Teri Polen #YoungAdult #Dystopian @TPolen6 @RRBookTours1 

Welcome to the book tour for the exciting sequel in The Colony series, The Insurgent by Teri Polen!

The Insurgent (The Colony #2)

Expected Publication Date: May 19th, 2022

Genre: YA Dystopian

If a megalomaniac threatened your family, would you give up your freedom for them? Would you give up your soul?

Asher Solomon is faced with that choice. And makes the ultimate sacrifice.

Exactly as Director Silas Reeves expected him to.

Unable to live as the Colony’s premier assassin, Ash retreats to a corner of his mind, ceding control of his body to the alter-ego he was engineered to be—Subject A36. As he’s unleashed to battle the Insurgents, the only family he ever knew, the tide of war shifts in Silas’s favor.

Combined with his expansion into new territories, the director is poised to take over the world.

But the Insurgents don’t give up easily. Not on their cause, and not on their people. With the help of a few double agents deep in the Colony, they stand a fighting chance at ending Silas’s reign.

In order to shut down the program, they face almost insurmountable odds. And their most dangerous foe—their former champion turned killing machine, A36.

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Excerpt

Asher

My legs collapsed, and I fell to my knees. The throbbing in my head hammered against my skull. Like my brain was trying to force its way out somehow. It was agonizing, and my stomach twisted with nausea. My lungs heaved, still short of oxygen. I crawled over to what was left of the mattress and rolled onto it.

I’m here.

Clutching my head, I searched the room for the source of the voice. I still couldn’t see. Someone could have easily slipped in while I destroyed the room.

Give me control.

So close. It was so close. But where?

End your pain.

In my head. The voice echoed in my head.

It was him. A36.

Through the crushing agony I gritted my teeth and struggled to force the word through my lips.

“No.”

But I felt him clawing his way out, inch by inch from the deep abyss inside me where I’d kept him imprisoned for my own sanity and the safety of others.

You have nothing left.

I squeezed my eyes shut and shook my head. But he spoke the truth. All that held me together were the scars of everything I’d lost. Everyone I’d ever loved.

And scars could be easily ripped open.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Black Rose Writing

Subject A36

If genetic engineering could guarantee you and your family perfect health and unparalleled beauty, would you pay top dollar for it? Would you kill for it?

Residents of the Colony would. And do.

Only the Insurgents can stop them.

Seventeen-year-old Asher Solomon is a premier operative with the Insurgents. He and his team have rescued countless hostages, saving them from painful deaths in Colony labs as desirable genetic traits are stripped from their bodies.

He’s also suffered more losses than anyone should have to.

Then Asher gets intel that might give his people the upper hand. The Colony is searching for Subject A36. If the Insurgents determine the subject’s identity first, they might be able to turn the tide of the war.

Asher and his team embark on their riskiest mission ever, and the stakes have never been higher. But even if he survives the physical dangers, the devastating secrets he uncovers might destroy him.

About the Author

Teri Polen reads and watches horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. The Walking Dead, Harry Potter, and anything Marvel-related are likely to cause fangirl delirium. She lives in Bowling Green, KY with her husband, sons, and black cat. Her first novel, Sarah, was a horror finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Subject A36 was voted one of the 50 Best Indie Books of 2020 at ReadFree.ly. Visit her online at www.teripolen.com

Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Book Tour Schedule

June 6th

R&R Book Tours (Kick-Off) http://rrbooktours.com

John H. Howell (Spotlight) https://johnwhowell.com

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Review) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

@mels_booksandhooks (Review) https://www.instagram.com/mels_booksandhooks/

Shari Sakuri (Review) https://sharisakurai.com/

June 7th

Riss Reviews (Review) https://rissreviewsx.wixsite.com/website

Staci Troilo (Spotlight) https://stacitroilo.wordpress.com/

I Smell Sheep (Spotlight) http://www.ismellsheep.com/

Books + Coffee = Happiness (Spotlight) https://bookscoffeehappiness.com/

@bookscoffeehappiness – https://www.instagram.com/bookscoffeehappiness/

June 8th

Lecari’s Live Journal (Review) http://www.lecari.co.uk

Not a Bunny Blog (Review) https://notanybunny.wordpress.com/blog

@gryffindorbookishnerd (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gryffindorbookishnerd/

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

June 9th

Cheryl’s Book Nook (Review) https://cherylsbooknook.blogspot.com/

@takealookatmybookshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/takealookatmybookshelf/

Robbie Cheadle (Review) https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/author/robertalouisecheadle/

Bunny’s Reviews (Review) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

June 10th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

@amber.bunch_author (Review) https://www.instagram.com/amber.bunch_author/

Jonathan Pongratz (Review) https://jonathanpongratz.com

Misty’s Book Space (Review) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

Book Tour Organized By:

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BOOK TOUR: Descent of a Broken Man by Ashon Ruffins #horror @lifethrufiction @TimesDreadful @RRBookTours1

Today is my stop on the book tour for chilling novel, Descent of a Broken Man by Ashon Ruffons! Read on for details and a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

Descent of a Broken Man #1

Publication Date: February 11th, 2022

Genre: Horror

Publisher: Dreadful Times Press

James Corbin is an ambitious high school history teacher who resides in the lively, yet dangerous city of New Orleans. He suffers from severe depression and anxiety and is on a downward spiral, unwilling to seek the help he desperately needs. His troubles are compounded by a lack of progress in his professional career, his disintegrating marriage, and lack of respect from his peers. While his struggles threaten to cripple him, the city is marred by a series of brutal religious murders.

However, it’s soon clear that there is not only one, but two murderers wreaking havoc on the city. While police chase the murderers, James focuses on his quest for professional success and self-worth from his research. Unfortunately for him, the research leads to the discovery of a nefarious essence, which unlocks a darkness and brings James face to face with a monster of his own. Within some people, there is something… off. Something dormant. A terror that, if found, will leave a path of pain in its wake.

TW: Depression/ Mental Health

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Excerpt

The thought of escaping New Orleans and the violence of their hometown after graduation excited their youthful minds. Ever mindful, Cynthia watched her surroundings and stayed aware of some of the dangers in the area, but the pair managed to enjoy their brisk walk among the tourists before they made it to a much thinner crowd and a much rougher neighborhood.

As the young couple’s pace quickened, two large Rottweilers snarled. Drool fell from the dogs’ mouths at the sight of them, as they walked past the housing development.

“Just keep walking, baby. Don’t make eye contact. They’ll leave us alone,” Damon insisted.

The dogs sprinted toward them, baring their teeth and leaving a trail of saliva behind them.

“Oh shit, bae! Run!” Damon yelled.

Cynthia snatched her hand away from Damon and took off toward the police station ahead. Damon beamed and raced behind Cynthia as the dogs caught up to him. The sound of the chattering teeth nipping at his heels pushed his legs faster. The vicious hounds chased and snarled after them as they sped up the block and past the First Precinct Police Station. The sound of their laughter echoed in the night’s air the entire way.

Cynthia and Damon managed to lose the dogs, after they turned and entered the side gates of Louis Armstrong Park, a shortcut to their Treme neighborhood where Damon lived.

The struggle to catch their breaths while guffawing at their experience brought some lively energy to the park’s dreary atmosphere.

“My God, you are so slow!” Cynthia yelled out, weak from laughter.

“Shut up!” Damon replied. “I was gonna catch you. Not really though. I tried. Your ass is too fast. I could’ve run behind that ass all night though.”

“Boy, you play too much!” Cynthia replied, as she playfully slapped Damon softly on his cheek. Both still hunched over with their hands on their knees as they tried to catch their breath.

“Hey, will you shut up? People are trying to sleep out here,” a voice bellowed from nearby.

“Oh, shit.” Damon snickered. “Now we are waking up the bums.”

While Cynthia and Damon flirted, they stood under the large oak trees near Congo Square. Sweat dripped from their foreheads from the muggy evening, but the still trees above offered no sign of a breeze to break up the oppressively thick air. The young couple continued their walk through Armstrong Park as they listened to the sound of soft jazz pumped from speakers from the nearby radio station.

As they passed the old Municipal Auditorium, a place of concerts and graduations, Damon gripped Cynthia’s hand once more and pulled her toward him. The two embraced and shared a long passionate kiss under the towering presence of the oak trees. Damon placed both hands on Cynthia’s arms and caressed her smooth skin with his thumbs. Their love had grown since their sophomore year. Cynthia’s hands lay upon both sides of his face, and the engagement ring on Cynthia’s hand glimmered as it managed to capture the little light in the area.

As they stared into each other’s eyes, a sudden movement from above caught Damon’s attention. He looked up into the sturdy wooden structures and noticed a shadowy figure hidden among the cluster of branches that rustled and swayed. A human-like figure moved with a purpose from tree to tree and bent the branches along the way, as if a hurricane force wind blew them about.

The sound of a stick snapping startled Cynthia. Damon held her hand firmly and proceeded to pull his fiancée through the park. Cynthia glanced behind them as they hurried through the darkness, and she dipped “her eyebrows with confusion at the sight of the branches breaking and falling to the ground.

As Damon yanked on Cynthia’s arm, something fell from the tree before them. Damon and Cynthia halted and looked on with horror in their wide eyes. “What the hell?” Damon mumbled as he stared ahead. Paralyzed by fear, he squeezed Cynthia’s hand tighter.

She grimaced in pain, as the couple glared at the enormous figure that panted in the shadows ahea

Available on Amazon

My Review – 3 1/2 stars

3 1/2 stars

I love horror books, and the fact this one was set in New Orleans thrilled me.

The story started off with a bang! When a book starts with what appears to be a supernatural murder, I’m ready to dive in. Had the book kept that pacing, I would have enjoyed it more. The story slows quite a bit when we first meet James. Then again, history class wasn’t my favorite in school so sitting through a history lesson with him didn’t exactly win me over.

The horror aspects were great! I did feel as if I were back in New Orleans while reading the story. The descriptions were very well done. Overall, I liked the story. I just didn’t love it.

*Disclaimer: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. The review above is only my opinion.

About the Author

Ashon Ruffins is a native New Orleanian and a military Veteran. He earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, while also holding certifications for several other professions. He loves the art of storytelling in all genres and believes the best lessons in life can be told through fiction. In his spare time, he likes to read, enjoy movies and develop recipes. Descent of a Broken Man is his debut novel.

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