Thursday, June 25, 2015

~Blog Tour~ The Reapers by Ali Winters



Title: The Reapers
Author: Ali Winters 
Genre: YA Fantasy

Hosted by: Lady Amber's Tours


Blurb:
The balance of life and death must be kept at all costs.

Having been a reaper as long as she can remember, Nivian knows that what she does is essential in maintaining balance. After being assigned to a rushed mark she finds that there is more to this human than any other she has encountered.

Kain had been living an ordinary life without a second thought until he meets Nivian who turns his world upside down. He is thrust into a world of hunters and reapers. The keepers of life and death have been feuding for centuries over a reason no one can even remember.

With Kain having been marked for reaping, and Nivian being hunted, they forge a friendship and together must find the truth in order to keep balance in check. Wrong choices could destroy everything. As they journey they discover hidden histories, powers, and lies and truths that have been spun since the beginning of time. The consequence of failure, unimaginable.





Ali grew up in the Pacific North West. She attended Oregon State University for photography. After many adventures she moved to Colorado and earning second degree, she found and met and married her husband. 
Ali currently lives in windy Wyoming with her husband and two dogs, Nika and Tedward. When not writing Ali is either photographing, knitting, reading, dancing or staying inside where it’s warm with a hot cup of coffee. She dreams of traveling the world someday soon.

Author Links:

You can email Ali at 
authoraliwinters@yahoo.com

Or you can also find her on these social platforms.

Facebook   

Twitter

Tumblr


Pre-Order Link:
Amazon



Nivian jumped over the edge of the bridge, landing with a soft tap on the surface of the water. She reached down, pulled the soul of the driver up by the collar of his shirt, and stood him up next to her on top of the water. She took the drivers hand palm up in hers, waving her other hand over his. She pinched the air and pulled, lifting up and exposing his life string, his wide eyes were hypnotized by the glowing string. She grabbed the scythe strapped to her back and swung. With a slow deliberate movement she sliced the human’s thread. The light formed a ball and hovered as she pulled out the small pocket watch. The life light floated down to the watch and sunk into it, disappearing. With a snap, she closed the watch and returned it to her pocket.
“You really shouldn’t drink and drive; you could have seriously hurt someone,” she said giving him an apathetic look. He gaped at her, mouth opening and closing like a fish. “Yes, you really are dead.” She confirmed as she started to turn away.
“Are you … the devil?” he managed to sputter.
“No, of course not. I am just the natural order of things,” she said, briefly looking back at him. “Wait here; your spirit counselor will be here soon for you to guide you to your afterlife. I have other jobs tonight,” She turned, walking away as she pulled her hood back up over her head and vanished.


Dream Cast




Friday, June 12, 2015

~Cover Reveal~ Intransigent by Cameo Renae



Title: Intransigent (The After Light Saga #3)
Author: Cameo Renae
Genre: YA Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian
Publisher: CHBB

Expected Release Date: June 19, 2013

Cover Design: Regina Wamba at Mae I Design Photography
Hosted by: Lady Amber's Tours


Blurb:

Arriving at the new government bunker, things quickly go from bad to worse. I am separated from Finn and my family because of my ability to connect with Arvies through telepathy. Housed with three other Readers—and kept away from the general population—we are given serum injections in effort to enhance our thought transference. The end goal? Thought manipulation.
We are considered humanity’s only hope in the war against the Arvy race.


With the ever growing threat of an invasion, the government demands results from the Reader program by doling out ultimatums, and using our loved ones against us.


But they will not break me.


My name is Abigail Park. I am intransigent.






Voted 2013 Break Out Author by Young Adult & Teen Readers, and 2013 Book of the Year (Hidden Wings). 

Cameo Renae was born in San Francisco, raised in Maui, Hawaii, and recently moved with her husband and children to Alaska.

She's a daydreamer, a caffeine and peppermint addict, loves to laugh, loves to read, and loves to escape reality. One of her greatest joys is creating fantasy worlds filled with adventure and romance, and sharing it with others.
One day she hopes to find her own magic wardrobe, and ride away on her magical unicorn. Until then...she'll keep writing!

HAPPY READING!



Follow Cameo on:
Facebook * Blog * Website * Twitter

Buy Links:

ARV-3 (Book #1): http://smarturl.it/r43d0q
Sanctum (Book #2): http://smarturl.it/ARV-Sanctum




Sunday, May 31, 2015

~Release Day Blitz~ The Reapers by Ali Winters


Title: The Reapers
Author: Ali Winters 
Genre: YA Fantasy

Hosted by: Lady Amber's Tours


Blurb:
The balance of life and death must be kept at all costs.

Having been a reaper as long as she can remember, Nivian knows that what she does is essential in maintaining balance. After being assigned to a rushed mark she finds that there is more to this human than any other she has encountered.

Kain had been living an ordinary life without a second thought until he meets Nivian who turns his world upside down. He is thrust into a world of hunters and reapers. The keepers of life and death have been feuding for centuries over a reason no one can even remember.

With Kain having been marked for reaping, and Nivian being hunted, they forge a friendship and together must find the truth in order to keep balance in check. Wrong choices could destroy everything. As they journey they discover hidden histories, powers, and lies and truths that have been spun since the beginning of time. The consequence of failure, unimaginable.





Ali grew up in the Pacific North West. She attended Oregon State University for photography. After many adventures she moved to Colorado and earning second degree, she found and met and married her husband. 
Ali currently lives in windy Wyoming with her husband and two dogs, Nika and Tedward. When not writing Ali is either photographing, knitting, reading, dancing or staying inside where it’s warm with a hot cup of coffee. She dreams of traveling the world someday soon.

Author Links:

You can email Ali at 
authoraliwinters@yahoo.com

Or you can also find her on these social platforms.

Facebook   

Twitter

Tumblr


Pre-Order Link:
Amazon



Nivian jumped over the edge of the bridge, landing with a soft tap on the surface of the water. She reached down, pulled the soul of the driver up by the collar of his shirt, and stood him up next to her on top of the water. She took the drivers hand palm up in hers, waving her other hand over his. She pinched the air and pulled, lifting up and exposing his life string, his wide eyes were hypnotized by the glowing string. She grabbed the scythe strapped to her back and swung. With a slow deliberate movement she sliced the human’s thread. The light formed a ball and hovered as she pulled out the small pocket watch. The life light floated down to the watch and sunk into it, disappearing. With a snap, she closed the watch and returned it to her pocket.
“You really shouldn’t drink and drive; you could have seriously hurt someone,” she said giving him an apathetic look. He gaped at her, mouth opening and closing like a fish. “Yes, you really are dead.” She confirmed as she started to turn away.
“Are you … the devil?” he managed to sputter.
“No, of course not. I am just the natural order of things,” she said, briefly looking back at him. “Wait here; your spirit counselor will be here soon for you to guide you to your afterlife. I have other jobs tonight,” She turned, walking away as she pulled her hood back up over her head and vanished.





Saturday, May 30, 2015

~Chapter Reveal~ The Accidental Art Thief by Joan Schweighardt




TheAccidentalArtThief_medTitleThe Accidental Art Thief
Genre: General fiction
Author: Joan Schweighardt
Publisher: Twilight Times Books

Find The Accidental Thief on Amazon.

For a quarter of a century forty-five-year-old Zinc has worked as a caretaker for a wealthy old man, living in a small casita on his ranch in New Mexico. She doesn’t make much money, but she has the old man, her dogs, and gorgeous views of the mountains. She is basically a very content recluse who doesn’t invest much time thinking about what she might do if her circumstances change. So when the old man dies suddenly, and his daughter all but throws her off the property, Zinc is forced to reinvent herself—and quickly.
With a touch of magical realism and a collection of offbeat characters, The Accidental Art Thief explores the thin line between life and death and the universal forces that connect all things.
//////////////////////////////////////
THE ACCIDENTAL ART THIEF
a novel
by
Joan Schweighardt
Chapter 1

Zinc had hung feeders all along the boughs of the trees, mostly cottonwoods and piñons that she could see from the window of the casita where she lived. This way when she needed a break from the work she did at her desk, she could look up—a small window was right there—and drink in the bird life, albeit at some distance. There were greenish-brown hummingbirds and red-brown finches to be seen three seasons of the year. Sometimes there were piñon jays, their blue bodies as vivid as the desert sky overhead. At least once a week she caught sight of the local roadrunner, whom she had named Steven, after someone she had loved once, someone who had broken her heart. And once—mystery of mysteries—a peacock dropped out of the sky, spread its resplendent blue-green feathers, turned its head in the direction of the window behind which Zinc stood with one hand over her open mouth and her eyes brimming with tears of joy, and looked right at her before disappearing into the scrub. Now that was a day to remember.
But lately Zinc had begun to wonder what it would be like to work facing the mountains rather than the cottonwoods. In fact her casita did have windows facing east, but the main house, where the old man lived, obscured her view. She wondered what it would be like to work outdoors sometimes, where she might see jack rabbits running in the scrub, or maybe even a lone coyote reigning proud from some rocky outcrop. She mentioned this desire to Smith, the old man’s sometimes driver, and Smith said she should get a laptop. Smith told her there was a second-hand computer store on Central. The owner was a real geek, he said; he picked up obsolete models for next to nothing and gave them new life. His prices were extraordinarily reasonable, as if he labored merely for the love of it.
For the love of it. Zinc liked that.
*
On a Saturday Zinc walked down the dirt road from her casita to San Dominic Road, and from there she walked to the bus stop on Bonita. She preferred not to talk to strangers if she didn’t have to, so she carried with her a Macy’s shopping bag into which she’d stuffed the bathrobe she’d removed from her body earlier that morning. It still smelled faintly of the coffee she’d accidentally spilled. When the bus came, she took the seat behind the driver. Then she watched out the window, and sure enough, before long she saw the second-hand computer shop storefront, wedged in between a coffee shop and a new-age gift store that featured a large limestone Buddha in its big front window.
She took the bus a mile or so farther and then got off and awaited a return ride. This time she knew where to look and she was able to gather in more information. The computer store was called Timothy’s Second-Hand Computers, and what Zinc recognized as a very old Mac model sat in the center of the window—a bookend (in size and positioning if not in eminence) to the Buddha in the shop beside it. The Mac’s screen and the innards that should have been behind it had been removed, replaced with a roll of toilet paper, the end sheet of which stuck out from what had once been its floppy drive opening. Timothy had turned the old Mac into a toilet paper dispenser!
Zinc could drive of course, and she had a junker to prove it—a seventeen-year-old Pontiac Firebird that her brother, Frankie, had given her two years earlier. But she didn’t drive it unless she absolutely had to. Just looking at the orange-red beast with its long raised snout and angry flared nostrils, parked as it was as far from her casita as the old man would allow, seemed like a bad idea. And so the following week, late in the afternoon, she took the bus once again, this time throwing a pair of jeans and a paperback into her Macy’s bag, and getting off at the corner just before the second-hand computer store. Then she stood, hidden behind sunglasses with lenses the size of fists, her wild brown curls stuffed beneath a NY Yankees cap, leaning against the stucco wall of the Central Ave Bank, cattycorner from Timothy’s, at the point where she could see the door but could not be seen herself, attempting to determine how busy the place got. When she felt quite sure there wasn’t much traffic (in fact, the door hadn’t opened once), she crossed Central and marched in.
A little brass bell on the door announced her arrival, but Timothy, who had his back to her, only mumbled, “How ya doing?” and didn’t turn around. The table he worked over was full of computer parts, illuminated by a green goose-necked desk lamp, the bulb of which was close to the table surface.
“Fine,” she heard herself say. It came out sounding like a child’s voice. Well, that was her voice; it was high-pitched and there wasn’t much she could do about it.
“Can I help  you?” he asked, and he looked past her for a second, perhaps searching for the child he thought he’d heard.
“I’d like to buy a computer. A laptop. A used laptop. An inexpensive used laptop.” She smiled nervously.
Timothy was old, perhaps in his mid seventies. But it was only the skin on his face, which fell over his bones like carelessly hung curtain swags, that gave him away. He was trim and—she noted as he got up to round the counter—spry and surefooted. She raised her hand to her sunglasses, but then dropped it just before her fingers made contact. A moment later her hand came up again, and this time the glasses came down with it. Timothy stopped in his progress to stare into her eyes, tipping forward from his waist for the briefest moment. “The laptops are over here,” he mumbled, and he turned to show her the way.
Timothy spent the next several minutes describing the virtues of each of the four second-hand models he had available. Two were so old they didn’t even have modems. “What do you want it for?” he asked, turning toward her suddenly.
Zinc swallowed. This is what she hated. The sudden question, the switch in focus, and then the inevitable journey the interrogator always took into her eyes. Years ago, when her skin was smooth and tight, people only said, “What an unusual color your eyes are.” But now she was forty-five and there were tiny lines around her eyes, making them somehow more—not less—prominent, or so she felt. Sometimes it seemed as if they were doorways, with doors that strangers could throw open easily and walk on through. Where did they go?  What did they do in there all that time?
Caught off guard, there was no chance to come up with a lie. And the truth was Zinc was a terrible liar anyway. “I write poetry,” she said.
“For a living?” asked Timothy, sounding alarmed.
“No, I keep house.”
“For a living?” This time he chuckled.
“For an…a…man.” She’d almost said “an old man,” how she and Smith referred to him, a term of affection for them.
“Your husband?”
“My employer.”
“Full time?”
“Part time…the housekeeping. Well, actually, it’s more than that. I do other things for him. And then the poetry. I make some money now and then from that too. So if you put the two together….”  She realized she was rambling and stopped abruptly.
Timothy turned back to the computers. “You’re under the radar,” he mumbled. “One of those people who can’t manage a real job. A lot of you here in Albuquerque.”
The color came to her face immediately, a flash flood. She loved what she did. She loved her life. Why did everyone assume that if you didn’t make much money or didn’t do something glamorous, you were a loser? And wasn’t he under the radar too, working at rejuvenating dead computers in a store that nobody visited? She squared her shoulders. For the love of it indeed. But all she said was, “No.” And then she thought better of it and forced a chuckle. “Well, maybe.”
“You shouldn’t admit it,” Timothy said, turning to hand her one of the laptops. She could see in his eyes that he was serious, that he meant well. “If you make your money cleaning house for someone,” he expounded, “you should tell people you’re a personal assistant. It’s almost true if not exactly, and it sounds much better. Saying you keep house….” He shook his head. “People will make assumptions. You’ll never get anywhere. You’ll clean houses forever.” Again he took the journey into her eyes, but this time he returned much sooner. “But then you’re not all that young, are you?”

Although she wanted nothing more than to escape, she forced her feet to stay planted just where they were, because, second to escaping, she wanted a laptop. And, as Timothy had so kindly pointed out, she wasn’t a child anymore; she had learned to control her impulses. Ultimately, she chose the laptop that was least expensive—an old modem-less IBM that Timothy guaranteed would work for the next five years if she was kind to it—and took the bus home.
So lost in her thoughts was Zinc that she was briefly startled when she opened the door to her casita and was immediately charged by two dogs, her dogs, Paddy and Orlando. Paddy was six years old and appeared to be mostly golden retriever with some chow mixed in—a furry yellow dog with a black tongue that was always hanging sideways out of his mouth. Zinc had found him at the end of the dirt road that led to the property when he was a puppy. He was half starved then, and the gash on his leg indicated that a larger animal, probably a coyote protecting her pups, had tried to warn him away. (If a coyote had really wanted to hurt him, it would have gone for his throat, and given his size at the time, Paddy would not have survived.) Paddy was sweet and intelligent, but he was also suspicious when there were strangers about, generally up at the old man’s house as Zinc didn’t get visitors herself. Orlando was a beagle mix, about four years old. He had come from a shelter just over two years ago. This was back before the old man’s legs had gotten so bad, back when he could still get around with a cane on one side and someone’s arm on the other. He’d heard that his neighbor’s dog had run away, and since the neighbor was in worse physical shape that he was, and didn’t have a driver to chauffer him around, the old man volunteered to have Smith take them both to the shelter to look for the Doberman, Gilly. Gilly wasn’t there, but the old man saw Orlando dancing at the bars of his cage, and he imagined that the beagle would be the perfect companion for Paddy, that Paddy might relax if he had a younger dog to play with. So he brought him home and told Zinc if she didn’t want him, or if Paddy wouldn’t tolerate him, it wasn’t a problem; the shelter would take him back. But both Zinc and Paddy fell in love with him immediately and that was the end of that.
Once she had greeted her dogs, given them each a biscuit and let them out, Zinc let the “under the radar” remark go down the drain, literally. It was a trick her father had taught her when she was a child (back in rural upstate New York, a couple hours north and west of New York City) and would come home crying because someone had teased her or called her a name at school. He would drag a wooden bench over to the kitchen sink and have her step up on it. Then he would turn on the faucet and Zinc would repeat the words that had hurt her so (“weirdo,” “mute,” “witch eyes,”) and together they would wash them down the drain. They had done this so many times and with such zeal that both believed that they could “see” the insults swirling drainward. “Go play, now,” her father would say, and she would, skipping outdoors, her curly brown pigtails flying out on either side of her head, calling out her brother’s name, Frankie, Frankie, who, her father hoped, would watch after her after he and his wife were gone—because a sixth sense told him they would never reach old age.
Zinc had been working for the old man and living in the casita behind his house for twenty-five years now, since the year after her parents died, the same year Steven left, and she did not love the place any less. It had been built over one hundred years ago, from adobe. Although it had been upgraded with central cooling and heating, Zinc seldom needed temperature control. The adobe stored and released the heat slowly, keeping her little house cool in summer and warm in winter, except when the temperatures were extreme. It was almost as if she were living in something that was alive itself.
Her little casita was beautiful in its simplicity; all the walls were painted a warm white and all eight-hundred square feet of flooring was covered with a red-gold Mexican saltillo tile. Her furnishings had all come from the old man’s house over the years, odd pieces that he no longer needed, and all of it was Mexican as well. And then there was the art. The old man was a collector, and each time he brought new paintings into his house, he would pass the old ones on to Zinc. His daughter, whose name was Marge, liked to carry the smaller ones over herself, probably, Zinc thought, so that she could remind her each time that some of the paintings were of considerable value and that Zinc must never nevercome to think of them as anything but a loan. As if Zinc could ever forget that.

Zinc did not have a land line or a cell phone. She did not have a TV or an MP3 or an iPod or a digital camera. She had a radio. And she had a computer, now two of them, and while the new one was modem-less, the Internet that worked through her desktop model had become her connection to the world. She had even made a few friends over the Internet, most of them editors of literary magazines who considered—and sometimes accepted—her poetry for their quarterly or biannual publications.
She opened her new used laptop on the kitchen table and plugged in the charger. In addition to the Word program that she planned to make good use of, there were a half dozen others. She was delighted to see that one was a chess game, and that you could “zoom” it up to be the size of the screen. She and the old man played chess all the time. She couldn’t imagine playing chess with a computer herself, but the old man might enjoy it. He got so lonely sometimes. And now his eyes were so bad that he could no longer read. She read to him frequently, but never for more than an hour at a time, because she was prone to sore throats. He listened to audio books, but he said it wasn’t the same. They made him sleepy. He hated to sleep, because he had nightmares much of the time.
Zinc thought he must have read more books in his life than any ten people she knew, not that she actually knew ten people. He could remember everything too, even information from books he’d read back when he was quite young. Although his tastes ran toward histories and biographies and hers toward fiction and poetry, they could spend hours talking about books; they could spend hours talking, period.
While the computer charged, Zinc heated leftovers from a casserole she’d made for the old man the evening before: artichoke hearts, spinach and chicken tenders. She called the dogs in and fed them and let them out again. When she finally allowed herself to look at the digital indicator on the computer screen, she saw that the charging had progressed only to fifty percent of capacity, but it would have to do.
Zinc pulled out the cord and closed the laptop and hurried out of the house. Her breath caught immediately and she stopped in her tracks, the laptop crushed to her chest. There was a moment every evening when the setting sun was exactly opposite the mountains, and if one were lucky enough to catch it, one could see the Sandias (sandia meant watermelon in Spanish) turn pink. Not just light pink, but if conditions were right, shocking pink, a kind of otherworldly fuchsia that made the heart pump faster.
Almost as soon as it began it was over. The mountain turned gray and the sun was on its way again, descending over the volcanoes to the west. The spectacle moved Zinc to run, something she did occasionally when no one was around. Orlando and Paddy, who had been resting together under a pine tree, saw her and rose simultaneously to join in the fun. With the dogs at her heels, Zinc ran across the yard, along the slate path through the garden, and started up the slate stairs. The stairs were beautiful. The old man had built them himself, years ago, back when his wife was alive and his children were young. They were encased in stone and featured stone risers. He had gathered the stones himself, from multiple hiking trips taken into the mountains with his loved ones.
Zinc was almost to his door when the toe of her leather sandal caught and she fell forward. Of course she had to drop the computer to keep from landing flat on her face. She sat up and immediately burst into tears. Her new computer—which had cost her two trips to town and half of the money she’d saved in the glass jar she kept on top of the refrigerator—had to be broken. There went sitting outdoors facing the mountain. There went who knows how many poems about coyotes, about jack rabbits running through the brush. Orlando licked her. Paddy moaned as if he knew exactly how she felt.
Under the radar.

The door opened slowly beside her. She looked up expecting to see the old man looming over her. She always praised him when he came to the door with his walker instead of waiting in his wheelchair for her to open it herself. He needed more exercise. He was a small man now, the size of a twelve-year-old boy. He suffered from, among other things, kyphosis, a hunched back. A very hunched back. It made him look like a troll. But it was not the old man’s troll face that Zinc found herself staring up at. It was his daughter, Marge. “What are you doing on the ground?” she asked impatiently, in a shrill voice. “And why are you crying? And where were you this afternoon?”
Zinc got up slowly, lifting the laptop from the slate as she did. She could feel movement, things inside slipping around. She glanced over her shoulder at the driveway. Usually when Marge was there she parked out in front of the house, where a delivery person might park—which made sense because she never stayed any longer than a delivery person would. Now Zinc saw that Marge’s car was beside the workshop. She could see the bumper of the dark red PT Cruiser. If she had known Marge was there, she wouldn’t have run across the yard, and then she wouldn’t have dropped and broken her new computer. “He’s all right, isn’t he?” she asked.
Marge folded her thin arms beneath her small breasts. “No,” she snapped. “He’s not all right.” She looked upward and took a breath. “He took a fall. Down the stairs. Right here. Where were you all afternoon, Kathryn?”
“What do you mean, he took a fall? How?”
Marge unfolded her arms and thrust them out, exasperated. “He must have been feeling badly. I don’t know. He must have wanted something. He must have tried to get you on the intercom and then gone outside to see if you were in the yard. And he must have tripped.” She took another swallow of air. Her arms fell to her sides. “Peter found him. He’s dead.”

Friday, May 29, 2015

~Chapter Reveal~ April Snow by Lynn Steward


Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00031]Title: April Snow
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Author: Lynn Steward
Website: LynnSteward.com
Publisher: Lynn Steward Publishing


At the cutting edge of women’s fashion in the 1970s, a visionary young woman subdues her desire for love to remake retail at New York’s most glamorous department store.

Newly single, Dana McGarry learns she must divorce herself from more than a bad marriage to succeed. Not only must she prove to family and friends that she can make it on her own, but she also must challenge an antagonistic boss who keeps standing in her way. Moving out of her comfort zone and into the arms of a dynamic businessman, Dana bets it all on a daring new move that will advance her buying career, But at what price?
Her dreams within reach, Dana’s world is shattered in a New York minute when a life is threatened, a secret is revealed, and her heart is broken.
APRIL SNOW 
Chapter One

Dana McGarry, on vacation for the first time as a single woman, arrived at the Lansdowne Club at 9 Fitzmaurice Place, just steps from Berkeley Square, in London’s fashionable Mayfair on the morning of April 8, 1975.  Her lawyer had filed papers for a legal separation from her husband Brett in January, and after four months of being under the watchful eyes of well-meaning family and friends, Dana was savoring every moment of her solo trip across the pond.  She and Brett had always stayed at the nearby Chesterfield Hotel, but her beloved Colony Club in New York City enjoyed reciprocity with the Lansdowne Club, where she’d previously attended lunches and lectures while her husband met with clients for his Wall Street law firm.  Undeterred by the steady English rain and dark clouds hanging over the slick gray streets, she stepped from one of London’s fabled black taxis with renewed spirit, excited to think that the distinguished house in Berkeley Square would be her home for the next five days.    After Dana checked in, the hall porter asked her if she would like tea brought to her room and then discreetly disappeared with her luggage, a small, welcoming gesture that stood in contrast to an impersonal hotel.  Rather than immediately taking the lift to her room on the fifth floor, Dana stepped into the entrance hall and surveyed the club’s interior, intending to explore Scottish architect Robert Adam’s stately masterpiece commissioned in 1761 for King George III’s prime minister, the Earl of Bute.  Previously, she had limited herself to the dining room, never taking time to appreciate the club’s historic beauty.  Although rich with finely-crafted embellishments and Neoclassical splendor, the house was clearly showing signs of fatigue, and its understated elegance made the environment that much more comfortable.  Dana knew she’d made the right choice. The club was an oasis of tradition and tranquility affording her the peace and privacy she needed.
When Dana arrived in her junior suite, she noticed a bouquet of flowers sitting on a table in the sitting area. Thinking they were compliments of the club, Dana opened the attached note and laughed out loud.  The flowers had been sent by her childhood friend, Johnny Cirone.  The message read, “Take Phoebe shopping and buy up the town.  Whatever you do, enjoy yourself.  Love, Johnny.”
Dr. Phoebe Cirone, who was in London attending a cardiology convention, was Johnny’s sister.  Their father, John Cirone, known affectionately to Dana and her brother Matthew as Uncle John, was the head of the House of Cirone, a manufacturer of ladies eveningwear.  Having a passion for medicine from an early age, Phoebe had never expressed interest in clothes or haute couture, leaving Johnny to reluctantly carry on family tradition by working for his father.  Dana’s parents, Phil and Virginia Martignetti, had been friends with the Cirones since before her birth.
Dana, pleased to see a porcelain tea service had already arrived, took her cup to the window and sipped the Darjeeling as she observed the new plantings in the courtyard garden.  The peace she’d felt a few minutes ago was gone, however.  Something about Johnny’s note, as thoughtful as it was, unnerved her.  Johnny and her mother called daily to see how she was doing.  Dana sensed their concern, although she felt it was unwarranted.  What did they think—that she was going to kill herself because the divorce would soon be final?  They obviously didn’t recognize her personal strength and resolve.  Dana worked at New York City’s B. Altman, and the previous December she’d formed the department store’s first Teen Advisory Board.  She had also succeeded in getting Ira Neimark, the store’s executive vice president, to sign off on installing a teen makeup counter on the main selling floor over the objections of Helen Kavanagh, junior buyer, who thought youth-oriented strategies like those at London’s Biba, were a waste of time and money.   Despite these personal triumphs, she’d taken aggressive steps to further advance her career, leaving her comfortable job in the marketing department for the position of junior accessories buyer.  She had requested time off for this visit to London immediately after settling into the new assignment, and that alone was proof that she knew how to take care of herself.
Dana had been equally aggressive in terminating her marriage to Brett.  Papers for a legal separation had been filed in January by Dana’s lawyer when she discovered that Brett was having an affair with fellow litigator Janice Conlon, a saucy and impertinent young woman from California.  Negotiations for a final settlement were proceeding smoothly, with no protests originating from either Brett or his lawyer lest the firm be apprised of his misconduct with the audacious Conlon.  In the four months since their separation, Dana had realized that Brett’s dalliance with the abrasive Conlon had merely been a catalyst for the end of their relationship since there had been something far deeper and more troubling in their marriage: Brett’s growing neglect of Dana as he vigorously pursued partnership with the firm.  His work always served as a convenient excuse to pick and choose his time with Dana and in the long run, that grim reality had proven intolerable.  Within days of learning of Brett’s infidelity, Dana contacted an attorney and moved from her Murray Hill apartment to a carriage house a few blocks away in Sniffen Court.
Given the decisive actions in her personal and professional life, Dana therefore felt smothered at times by the daily concerns of others.  As for her traveling abroad alone, she felt more than competent to take care of herself.  When Brett had been with her in London, they were rarely together.  He usually spent days working, and evenings meeting with clients, joining Dana for late dinners, if at all.  He was up and out by 7:00 a.m.  She’d always hoped that the next trip would be better, but this was never the case.  Traveling alone?  It was all she knew.
Yes, it had all happened just four months ago, illustrating how the course of a life can change so radically and quickly.  But was she ecstatically happy now that a new phase of her life and career had begun, with Brett being almost surgically excised from the picture?  No, she wasn’t jubilant about anything at present, but she was content, at peace with the decisions she had made to take care of herself and her future.  In the words of her father, she had discovered that she had “a very good life” despite longstanding marital woes and formidable professional challenges.  Many of her friends had urged her to re-enter the dating scene since she was almost thirty and the clock was ticking, but Dana didn’t miss married life in the least and had no interest whatsoever in dating, especially guys described as the perfect match: upwardly mobile professionals, or “Brett clones,” the apt description provided by Andrew Ricci, Dana’s good friend and display director at the store.  Besides, marriage was not the only path to a fulfilled life.  In Dana’s estimation, happiness also resulted from pursuing a creative dream, enjoying good friendships and the myriad interests that gave her immense pleasure, such as travel, literature, films, and lectures on a wide variety of topics.  Being suddenly single was not a condition to be cured but rather an opportunity to be savored.
A line from Dickens came to mind as she thought of events that had altered her life:  “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”  Dana had survived the tumultuous weeks of the previous December, when she realized her marriage was over, but surely this was now the best of times, was it not?  She smiled as she contemplated her walk tomorrow morning to Piccadilly for breakfast at Fortnum & Mason, followed by a long and leisurely visit to Hatchards, London’s oldest bookshop.  The thought of Dickens reminded her of the delight she took in finding rare editions of the classics, or even first editions of lesser-known authors.  Today, however, she was going to enjoy Richoux’s delicious risotto when she lunched with Phoebe, who was staying within walking distance at the Grosvenor House on Park Lane.  Filled with a new surge of energy, the blue-eyed Dana freshened up, brushed her short blond hair, and grabbed a shawl and a pair of unlined leather gloves. The clouds were beginning to part, and the steady English drizzle had let up, but it was still a nippy fifty-four degrees—a perfect spring day in London.
Rays of sunshine were reflected by leaded windows in the rows of eighteenth century townhomes Dana passed as she strolled leisurely through Berkeley Square.  It was only eleven thirty and she had an hour before meeting Phoebe at her hotel, enough time for a short detour across Hill Street and Hays Mews to the Farm Street Church, also known as the Jesuit Church of the Immaculate Conception.  Years earlier, she’d been sitting on a bench in Mount Street Gardens when she looked up and beheld one of the church’s open gothic portals that seemed so inviting, beckoning her to enter and pray.  Then as now, it had been a glorious April day, the kind celebrated by Chaucer in the opening lines of theCanterbury Tales, when spring rains provide rich “liquor” for flowers suffering winter’s drought.

Dana arrived at the church and chose to enter from Mount Street Gardens rather than Farm Street, as she’d done on her original visit.  In the transept to the right of Our Lady of Farm Street statue was the Sacred Heart Chapel, and this is where Dana chose to pray in deference to the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, who’d taught her for twelve years in her youth.  She knelt in the third pew, said a decade of the rosary, and then sat, looking up to admire, as she always did, the glorious painting of the Sacred Heart flanked by four saints above an inlaid marble altar with three brass reliefs.  But instead of finding peace in this pious setting, the silence suddenly became deafening, and the alabaster walls of the chapel began to feel close, confining.  A wave of emotion engulfed her, and she cried uncontrollably, questioning her impulsive decision to end her eight-year marriage—and without considering her vows taken before God, family, and friends. What a hypocrite she felt herself to be—a selfish hypocrite who had turned her back on the faith that was such an integral part of her life.
Glancing at her watch, Dana saw that it was almost noon.  She needed to pull herself together and be on her way to meet Phoebe.  She took a deep breath, wiped away her tears, and walked outside to a bench in Mount Street Gardens, where she would spend a few moments composing herself.
In the sacristy, a priest was marking the readings for the twelve-thirty mass in the gilt-edged lectionary when he heard anguished sobs emanating from the Sacred Heart Chapel.  Curious, he stepped into the sanctuary in time to see a young woman exiting the side door leading to the gardens.  He followed her and observed her sitting on a bench fifteen yards away.  He folded his arms, closed his eyes, and said a brief prayer.  

*                                  *                                  *
Looking in her compact mirror, Dana wiped away the mascara beneath her eyes and reapplied a bit of powder to her cheeks.  She didn’t want Phoebe to see that she’d been crying.  What could she possibly say in answer to any questions her friend might have?  That she was upset over the abrupt manner in which she’d dissolved an eight-year marriage to an inattentive man who’d cheated on her?  No, the emotions that had spilled forth in the chapel had taken Dana by surprise, and they needed to be processed in private moments of reflection.
Dana had been resting her eyes when she looked up and saw a priest approaching the bench.  The Jesuit, a tall man in his early fifties, walked with a confident gait, and the smile on his face was evident when he was still several feet away.
“Good morning,” he said.  “Lovely day.”  He could tell the young woman was upset and,               in point of fact, she wasn’t the only one he’d encountered on the grounds who needed consolation or, at the very least, a friendly smile.
“Yes, Father, it is,” Dana replied.  “A splendid day.”
“Are you on holiday, or are we blessed to have you as a new parishioner?” he asked.
Dana examined the priest’s face more carefully.  He wore rimless glasses, and pale blue eyes regarded her kindly beneath close-cut salt and pepper hair.  He was dressed in a black clerical suit and looked to be strong and vigorous despite his gentle manner.
“On holiday, Father,” Dana replied. “I come here whenever I’m in London and wanted to stop in and . . . visit.  I was taught by the Sacred Heart sisters back in New York.”
“A New Yorker!” Father Macaulay said. “And a member of the family, so to speak.  May I sit?” he asked, motioning to the bench.
A member of the family, Dana thought, again fighting back tears.  Not anymore.
“I’m sorry, Father,” Dana mumbled, rising to leave.  “I’m meeting someone and I’m late.”
Father Macaulay nodded.  “I hope you’ll visit again.  I’m here in the church or the gardens every morning from nine until I say mass.  If you can’t find me, just tell the sacristan that you’re looking for Father Charles Macaulay.”
“Thank you, Father.  Have a good day.”
Biting her lip to fight back fresh tears, Dana and Macaulay shook hands. The priest watched Dana walk out of the gardens, sensing that she was in distress.  He was a good judge of people, and he thought that Dana would surely return to the church before she boarded a plane for New York City.  Somewhere in her soul, he thought, there was unfinished business.
*                                *                                  *
Wearing sunglasses, Dana walked for five minutes along Mount Street until she reached the Grosvenor House.  Phoebe was waiting in the lounge, and after they exchanged warm greetings, they left the hotel for Richoux, which was two blocks away on South Audley Street.
The two women were shown to a small table in the dimly-lit restaurant owing to the dark wood paneling in the main dining room.  When Dana removed her sunglasses, Phoebe immediately saw that Dana was upset.  Her eyes were puffy and her smile was forced.  Phoebe cocked her head and raised her eyebrows, as if to say, Do you feel like talking about it?
“I’m fine,” Dana said, brushing aside the concern.  “Nothing worth discussing.  Now tell me about you, how’s the convention?”
The two women chatted over lunch, Phoebe speaking of the lectures she’d attended on anticoagulation therapy, angioplasty, and catheterization for the diagnosis of coronary artery disease.  In turn, Dana described her new duties at B. Altman.  They laughed at Johnny Cirone’s daily calls and continued concern for Dana since her separation, although Dana was reminded yet again of the excessive attention she was receiving.
“We have to get him married off,” Phoebe said, “or at least find him a serious girlfriend.  He’s becoming a mother hen.”  She paused, knowing that Dana was holding back something painful, but decided not to press the matter.  “By the way, my dad has an offer on his house, and he’s in contract to purchase the estate sale on East 79th Street. It’s a big renovation, so he’s hoping to get approved by the co-op board quickly and start the demo. Johnny is already interviewing contractors.”
John Cirone was moving to Manhattan since his Long Island home seemed far too large since the death of his wife two years earlier.  He’d accepted a seat on the board of the Metropolitan Opera, and Johnny was helping his dad make the long-overdue transition to the city—and to the present, away from thoughts of his deceased wife, Lena.
“It sounds like the convention is keeping you pretty busy,” Dana said.  “Would you like me to pick up Uncle John’s cigars at Sautter’s?  It’s a few blocks from the Lansdowne.”
“That would be a lifesaver,” Phoebe said.  “I have two days of seminars on using something called a stent to open up clogged arteries instead of always resorting to bypass surgery.  It would be a non-invasive procedure, but most cardiologists think it’s still years away.”  Phoebe suddenly burst out laughing.  “And here I am, bringing my father cigars, which is the last thing a cardiologist should do.”
The two women finished lunch, Phoebe heading to the convention for afternoon lectures,
and Dana returning to the Lansdowne Club, where she finished unpacking.
Dana sipped afternoon tea while paging through a book of poems she’d found lying on the end table by the sofa, her thoughts returning to her display of emotion that morning.  Brett had indeed been quickly and surgically excised from her life, perhaps too quickly, and yet she had received no judgments about the decision to do so from her parents.   She was aware, of course, that Virginia had always been a bit leery of Brett, even at the very beginning of their courtship.  As for her father, he was quite unflappable and had reminded Dana that things always work out in the end, which was a part of his lifelong, homespun philosophy that she found so comforting.  And yet Dana couldn’t shake the realization that Brett, despite all of his shortcomings, was a man she’d loved for over eight years.  Should she have given him another chance?  After all, the marriage hadn’t been all bad.  The visit to the chapel, she concluded, had reminded her of Catholic dogma regarding marriage: it was indissoluble.  Mount Street Gardens, the chapel, the brass panels—they’d brought to mind her many years with the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, causing her to second guess her decision.

Leafing through the slightly-worn pages—she thought that older books had such character—she saw Wordsworth’s “Ode on Intimations of Immortality.”  It was one of her favorite poems.  She especially liked the lines towards the end.
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.
The sentiment was essentially that of her father, who had a “philosophic mind” when it came to handling disappointment.  There had been good times in the marriage, but some things were beyond repair, and Dana had indeed retained strength in what remained behind, which was a full life that included friendships and opportunity.  Dana realized how important this trip was—far more than a break from her daily routine or an enjoyable shopping spree.  On her own, she could privately mourn her marriage and process her emotions, opening her mind and heart for whatever lay ahead.  She was at peace again, ready for the rest of her stay in London.  Still, she wondered if Father Macaulay would share her perspective.  The priest had emanated kindness and understanding in the brief minutes she’d been in his presence, and now, feeling stronger, she decided to visit him again before she left London.  He’d demonstrated genuine concern, and she wanted to hear his soothing voice one more time.



Tuesday, April 28, 2015

~Release Day Blitz~ Retribution by Kim Cresswell


Title: Retribution (Book Two – Whitney  Steel Series)
Author: Kim Cresswell       
Genre: Suspense, Thriller 
Hosted by: Lady Amber's Tours


Blurb:
THE WAR HAS JUST BEGUN…
Once the top leader of the Sur del Calle cartel, Colombia’s largest drug trafficking organization, Pablo Sanchez has declared revenge against Blake Barnett, the FBI agent who’d killed his twin brother over a decade ago.
After one failed attempt forced him to flee the United States, Pablo has a bold new plan and he’s even more determined to kill Blake and his fiancée, Whitney Steel.
From Las Vegas to the militant infected jungles of Bogota, Blake has no choice but to risk his life and infiltrate the cartel’s inner world and eliminate the ruthless drug lord.
But the price of failure is higher than ever as he’s forced to use the woman he loves as a pawn in a deadly game—where the events of the past and present collide.


WARNING: This book contains graphic language, adult situations, and violence.

 Kim Cresswell resides in Ontario, Canada. Trained as a legal assistant, Kim has been a story-teller all her life but took many detours including; working in legal and adult education before returning to her first love, writing. 

Her debut romantic suspense, 
REFLECTION, has won numerous awards: RomCon®'s 2014 Readers' Crown Finalist (Romantic Suspense), InD'tale Magazine 2014 Rone Award Finalist (Suspense/Thriller), UP Authors Fiction Challenge Winner (2013), Silicon Valley's Romance Writers of America (RWA) "Gotcha!" Romantic Suspense Winner (2004), Honourable Mention in Calgary's (RWA) The Writer's Voice Contest (2006).

LETHAL JOURNEY won RomCon®'s 2014 Readers' Crown (Thriller) and was a finalist in From the Heart Romance Writers (FTHRW) Golden Gate Contest (2003).

Her action-packed thrillers have been highly praised by reviewers and readers. As one reviewer said, "Buckle up, Hang on tight!"

Kim recently entered the true crime writing arena. Real Life Evil - A True Crime Quickie (two short stories) was published in January 2014. You can read her latest true crime stories in Serial Killer Quarterly, a new quarterly e-magazine published by Grinning Man Press. She is also a member of The American Investigative Society Of Cold Cases (AISOCC), a non-profit, volunteer based organization of professional investigators whose sole mission is to assist in solving cold cases. To learn more about Kim and her writing, visit www.kimcresswell.ca

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CHAPTER ONE

Death by lethal injection.
Whitney had waited years to hear those four words. Final justice for a man who’d taken so much from her and her fiancé, Blake Barnett. She stood on the concrete steps outside the seven storey L-shaped courthouse waiting for her cameraman, Jerry Maxwell, to give her the on-air countdown. After a last minute microphone check, Whitney drew a deep breath then exhaled slowly.
Jerry held up his fingers. “In five…four…three…two…one.”
“I’m reporting live outside the district courthouse on South Las Vegas Boulevard. Moments ago, District Attorney Jason Kurz announced the jury had sentenced Nathan Shaw to death by lethal injection. Mr. Kurz stated the jury found, unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt, that Mr. Shaw is a continuing threat to society.”
She swallowed hard, barely able to get the words out.
“A month ago, Nathan Shaw, owner of ShawBioGen, was found guilty on four counts of conspiracy to commit murder and one count of attempted murder of a federal agent.”
That FBI agent is the man I love.
The memory of that day was before her in all its bloody glory. The image of Blake shot and left to die played over and over in her mind. Perspiration broke out across her forehead.  
Damn it. Not now. Breathe…
“Mr. Shaw had hired a hitman to kill Claire Barnett, a microbiologist with his company, Senator Mason Bailey, George Raines, an editor with WBNN-TV, and District Attorney Kate Leathham in hopes of covering up his illegal human cloning project.” Sadness tugged at her heart. So many lives lost. Her legs trembled. “Nathan Shaw will be executed at Nevada State Prison in Carson City. His attorney, Warren Demotteo, is expected to file a formal appeal later today.”
She paused to take a breath. “This is Whitney Steel. News3.”
Jerry gave a quick nod, his cue they were off the air.
Whitney lowered the microphone and kept it clutched in her right hand as she watched two workers at the other end of the courthouse dismantling the makeshift press conference tent used earlier.
“Are you okay?” Jerry removed the camera from his shoulder and placed it on the ground. “For a minute there, I thought you were going to pass out.”
Her body went limp with relief. Her gaze met his. She smiled and picked up her purse from the step and swung it over her shoulder. “I’ll be fine.”
It’s finally over.
With Nathan Shaw’s sentencing behind her, now she could focus on her upcoming wedding on August second which was less than three weeks away. She couldn’t wait. And neither could Blake.
In the parking lot, Jerry opened the rear door of the News3 satellite broadcast van and loaded their equipment.
Whitney eyed a white SUV with dark tinted windows stop a car’s length away. With the lot full due to the sentencing, the driver appeared to be waiting for their spot.
Jerry slammed the van door shut. “You ready?”
“Yeah, let’s get back to the station.” She glanced over her shoulder.  
Three men jumped out of the SUV wearing black balaclavas.
They barreled toward her.
She spotted guns in their hands.
After a brief moment of paralyzing disbelief, Whitney clutched her purse and bolted to the passenger side of the vehicle.
“Get in. Hurry!” Jerry yelled.
She reached for the door handle but a strong arm looped around her neck and dragged her back.
The heels of her shoes scrapped against the pavement. “Let go—of me.”
The man covered her mouth with a leather-gloved hand and pulled her between the parked cars and out of sight.
She felt the muzzle of the gun jab into her back.
Moist breath brushed against her ear. “Shut the hell up.”
Another man held a gun to Jerry’s temple. “You’re going to film this. Live. Understand?”
Jerry held up his hands, his eyes wide. “Okay, okay.  But—it’s going to take a few minutes to setup the feed.” He opened the van’s back door again and fumbled for his equipment.
Whitney squirmed.
The man tightened his grip around her neck.  
She wheezed and fought for a breath.
Who were these men? What did they want?
The sane voice in her head ordered her to stay still. Even though she had a black belt in karate and was skilled at crushing a person’s windpipe or disarming a knife-wielding attacker, she wasn’t stupid enough to take on three guys that were double her height and weight with guns aimed at her. All she could do was watch, stay as calm as possible, and hope someone would see what was going on and call the police.
When Jerry had the live feed setup, he stood in front of them, camera ready. His voice trembled. “You’re on.”
The third man, the tallest of the group, pulled a red and white bandana out of a small plastic bag he had stuffed in the pocket of his jeans.
He pressed the moist cloth over her mouth and nose and held it there.
She squirmed and kicked but it was useless. Her head started to buzz. The sickly sweet smell mixed with the rotten odor of strong cleaning solution invaded her head.  
Blood pounded in her ears and male voices turned faint and distorted.
As her breathing slowed every muscle turned to mush. Then blackness drowned her vision and she realized what the men wanted.
They wanted her.