Sunday, July 23, 2017

Excerpt from The Lost Great Dane

The Lost Great Dane is the first novella in the Lost and Found Pets series. Alexandra Prescott opened Lost and Found Pets because she loves animals. Reuniting pet and owner is more than just a job.

While searching for a lost cat, Alex finds a weak and injured Great Dane. The dog has no collar, no tags, and no microchip. And the only person looking for him is a man who might have murdered his own wife.

Within 24 hours, Alex has a hunted dog, a cryptic message, and a hitman on her tail. She realizes the only way out of this mess is to solve the mystery of the lost Great Dane.

Excerpt:
“You have got to be kidding me,” I said, staring at the small hole in the chain-link fence. The little bit of grass on the other side was mostly dead, and the yard was full of debris. There was an old building not far from the fence that appeared to have been a small barn at one time. An abandoned pickup truck was nearby, but there wasn’t a house or other livable structure. The ground was damp and muddy as it had recently rained. I glanced down at my new, expensive tennis shoes before looking at my companion.
“Are you sure?” I asked. The only response was a sharp bark and pawing on the ground. Hero is a trained search-and-rescue dog, and he is very good at his job. He barked a second time and sat by the fence. I leaned over and gave him a brisk pat. “Okay, give me just a minute.”
Retrieving my cell phone from the pocket of my jeans, I placed a call. Although the property looked deserted, I wasn’t about to go traipsing around without verification. Claire answered on the first ring.
“Lost and Found Pets. This is Claire. How may I help you?”
Claire is my complete opposite. She is short and just a little chubby. She has long blond hair, pretty blue eyes, and a sweet smile. Her bubbly personality comes through with every word she speaks. She is friendly, kind, and supportive. How the two of us became friends is still a mystery to me.
“I need you to do a property search,” I said as soon as she finished her greeting. “Hero found Mr. Fluffy’s trail, but it leads to a fenced property.”
“What’s the address?”
I gave her the particulars and waited while she performed the search. Mr. Fluffy was the lost cat that I was currently trying to locate. The Lost and Found Pets agency tries to live up to its name. We attempt to find lost pets.
I have always loved animals, and I discovered that there was a need for someone to look for lost pets. People love their animal companions. They are willing to pay a great deal of money to find their furry friend. Our clientele consists mostly of those who have money to burn and prefer someone else do all the work. They may be young, up-and-coming professionals who want someone to come home to but don’t have the time to search for them should they get lost, or the elderly whose loss of a pet upsets them so much they have difficulty navigating a basic search for an animal. We also get clients who have exhausted all their own resources and turn to us as a last resort. Lost and Found Pets is a licensed private investigations firm. We are just very specialized.
“It looks like the last owner died about three years ago, and the property hasn’t been claimed. There are a couple of years of back taxes on the books but nothing else. I’m surprised no one has claimed it yet. It’s in a prime spot.”
“Okay, that’s what I needed to know. Thanks, Claire.”
Hero and I were standing on what was probably once a gravel road. Now it was just a large opening dividing several acres of land. I couldn’t see a gate or opening anywhere. It was probably on the other side of the property. If we went around, Hero might have lost Mr. Fluffy’s scent so I reached into my backpack and pulled out a pair of wire cutters. Searching for lost pets often takes me to hard-to-reach places. I carry a whole arsenal of tools. I made quick work of the fence. Hero bounded through first. He is a large brown German Shepherd, but I had to cut the fence even more before I could squeeze through.
After stepping through the fence, I gave Hero the command, and he took off running. I followed a little more slowly, hoping to avoid the muddier areas. Hero headed to the back of the barnlike structure. It was small and falling down. Whoever had owned the place hadn’t done any work on it in years. I heard Hero bark and sped up my pace. When I rounded the corner, I saw at once that I didn’t need to hurry.
“Damn it,” I said softly as I approached the doorway to the barn. The poor cat was dead. His collar had caught on a nail, and it looked like he might have choked to death. There were signs of a struggle. His collar was torn in places, but he hadn’t managed to tear it completely. Mr. Fluffy had been an indoor cat, and his collar was pretty but not designed to break away or stretch. He hadn’t been dead long as his body was still intact. The owners had only realized he was missing that morning. They contacted me midday after a brief search. It was a very typical scenario.
About 50 percent of the time, we are able to find the lost animal. Unfortunately, sometimes we find them too late. Like now. I blinked back tears as I pulled a plastic container from my backpack and gently placed Mr. Fluffy inside. Most of my clients don’t want to see their dead pet, but sometimes they need proof that the animal is actually gone. Hero whined softly. I handed him a treat, which he took but ate slowly, giving me a sad look. I rubbed his head.
“I know, boy. Me too.”


Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and Smashwords.

Friday, July 21, 2017

All Signs Point to Murder by Connie di Marco - $20 Amazon/BN GC


BLURB:
The stars predict a wedding-day disaster, but San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti never expected murder

Julia Bonatti is alarmed by the astrological signs looming over Geneva Leary’s wedding day, but nobody asked Julia’s opinion and being a bridesmaid means supporting the bride no matter what. Even with the foreboding Moon-Mars-Pluto lineup in the heavens, no one’s prepared for the catastrophes that strike: a no-show sister, a passed-out wedding planner, and a lethal shooting in the dead of night. 

With anger and grief threatening to tear the Leary family part, Julia is determined to understand how such a terrible tragedy could occur. As she digs deeper into the family’s secrets, her astrological insights will lead her to the truth about a criminal enterprise that stretches far beyond the California coast.

Excerpt:
The building on Guerrero was a once proud Victorian with bow front windows. It had since been broken up into six small units and fallen into disrepair. There was something about this chore that made my stomach go into knots. Rummaging through a dead woman’s possessions was bad enough, but what if I found something that implicated Moira in a crime? Should I remove it and risk the police finding out?

I approached the long stairway leading to the front door. The wind had died down and now fog danced around the streetlights. It was eerily quiet. No lights shone from any of the windows. I climbed the cracked granite stairs to the entrance where the weathered door stood ajar, listing slightly on its hinges. Inside, a bare overhead light bulb cast a meager glow down the long corridor, cannibalized from a once grand entryway. The hallway smelled of dirty cat litter, moldy vegetables and cigarette smoke. I followed the corridor to the end, and stopped at the last door on the right.

I slipped the key into the lock and reached around the door jamb where I felt the light switch. A rusting chandelier with two bulbs missing illuminated the one large room that was both Moira’s living room and bedroom. This room housed a collection of hand-me-downs and broken furniture, ripped curtains and piles of clothing in various spots around the floor.

I heaved up the mattress, first on one side and then the other, making sure nothing was hidden between it and the box spring. I pulled open each of the bureau drawers, checked their contents and pulled them all the way out to make sure nothing was behind them. I opened a small drawer in the bedside stand. Amid a loose pile of clutter was a dark blue velvet box embossed with the letter “R” in cursive gold script. Could this be from Rochecault? I was fairly certain it was. Rochecault is an infamously expensive jeweler on Maiden Lane downtown. How could Moira have shopped there?

I opened the box and gasped. An amazing bracelet heavy with blue stones in varying colors rested inside. The setting had the slightly matte industrial sheen of platinum. Moira couldn’t possibly have afforded this. Shoving the box into a side pocket of my purse, I decided I was definitely not leaving this for the police to find, and slid the drawer shut.

I scanned the room. Moira hadn’t been much of a housekeeper and it didn’t appear as if there were many hiding spots. My eye caught a small black notebook under a jumble of papers and unopened bills on a rickety desk. I dropped my purse on the floor and reached for the book. A searing pain shot through my skull. Blinded, I fell to the floor.

Book 2: All Signs Point to Murder: http://amzn.to/2oiVbTs
Book 1: The Madness of Mercury: http://amzn.to/2oo0P5X

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries from Midnight Ink, featuring San Francisco astrologer, Julia Bonatti, who never thought murder would be part of her practice. Book 2 in the Zodiac Mysteries is All Signs Point to Murder, to be released on August 8, 2017.

Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the national bestselling author of the Soup Lover’s Mysteries from Penguin Random House (Berkley Prime Crime), set in the village of Snowflake, Vermont. Her recently released A Clue in the Stew is the fifth in this series. Some of her favorite recipes can also be found in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook.

Connie is a member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Twitter: @askzodia

GIVEAWAY:
Connie di Marco will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner.

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Follow the tour for more chances to win:
July 10: Rogue's Angels 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Worth Remembering by Holly James

Worth Remembering banner

This book blitz is organized by Lola's Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from July 14 to 20. See the tour schedule here.

Worth RememberingWorth Remembering (English Rose #1)
by Holly James
Genre: Romance
Age category: Adult
Release Date: June 4, 2017
Blurb:
Running into her head-over-heels first love during a week’s holiday in Mallorca with her spirited friend Lou was not what Samantha Hillcrest had planned. When sparks fly on the idyllic Mediterranean island she wonders how she’ll be able to return home to her husband and grown-up children, pretending her life hasn’t been turned upside down. Caught between family commitments and the red-hot, sizzling chemistry she shares with Gabriel—her love from twenty-five years ago—Samantha faces an impossibly heart-breaking choice.

A stand-alone novel, Worth Remembering is the first story in the English Rose series which follows a group of authentic English women on their complicated romantic journeys.
Excerpt:
I signalled the barman and ordered a shot of tequila. What the hell, I was on holiday. Lou crooked her finger, beckoning me to join her, but I couldn’t bring myself to engage in some cheap flirtation knowing it wouldn’t go anywhere.
When she saw me remain firmly entrenched on my stool she came over, arriving at the same time as my drink.
‘Come on, Sam. They’re nice guys.’
‘Sorry, Lou. Maybe it’s too early for me to dabble around with all that. I need to work up to flirtation; can’t dive right in like you.’
‘God.’ She shuddered. ‘Am I coming across as desperate?’ Her furrowed brow and the way she bit down nervously on her bottom lip told me she was serious.
‘Who cares if you are?’ I retorted, quickly adding, ‘Not that you are, but it doesn’t matter, does it? You’re here for a good time—go have one. Don’t worry about me. I might call it in early tonight. We’re only a short taxi ride back to the hotel.’
‘I suppose it’s easier to stem your urges when you’re getting some at home,’ she quipped. ‘Right, here goes, then.’ And with that, her expression transformed into a rather alarming come-hither look and she sashayed back to the eagerly waiting duo.
‘Getting some at home,’ I muttered. ‘If once in a blue moon counts…’
I stood up to leave, swung my bag over my shoulder, and left Lou to her much looked forward to night of carnal bliss. Once she’d gotten this out of her system, we’d have plenty of time to live it up together. An early night would be good, I told myself. I was of an age where pacing myself was definitely advised, if not absolutely necessary.
I made my way down the steps to the door as elegantly as I could in my kitten heels. With no sign of the bear-like doorman, I heaved the door open and stepped out into the night, promptly colliding with a not-so-burly but still rather well-muscled figure.
PerdÓname,’ we said in unison. Our eyes met and my heart somersaulted. I would recognise those deep brown eyes anywhere. They sparked as they registered my own and we stood locked in a speechless gaze of wonder.
After an interminable moment, he whispered my name.
‘Sammy.’
He was the only person who’d ever called me Sammy. I melted at the sound of it. Then it struck me. Oh my God, he remembers my name. Twenty-five years and he remembered not just me but my name. Not as though you’ve ever forgotten his, is it, Sam?
‘Gabriel,’ I whispered.

You can find Worth Remembering on Goodreads

You can buy Worth Remembering here on Amazon
Worth Remembering is part of Kindle Unlimited.

About the Author:
Holly James was born and raised with her three siblings in Norfolk, England. She packed her bags at eighteen to spend the next four years at university. She lived in Newcastle, Birmingham, London, France, and Spain before settling in beautiful New Zealand. Her daily loves are good coffee, writing, her children, and her husband—the order depending on what kind of day she’s having.
All Holly’s books are stand-alones with no cliffhangers. To be notified of new releases subscribe to her mailing list at http://www.hollyjamesauthor.co.uk

You can find and contact Holly James here:
- Website
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Goodreads
- Amazon

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Excerpt from Dead in a Dumpster: Leah Norwood Mystery #1

When Leah Norwood finds the body of Isabel Meeks in the dumpster behind her store, she can’t believe the police consider her a suspect. Sure, she didn’t liked Isabel, but then again, neither did anyone else. Isabel had a condescending attitude and a bad reputation. As manager of the antique store, Patina, she had made a lot of enemies.

There is Patina’s assistant manager, the handsome and charming Trent. Isabel was blackmailing him. There is Patina’s owner, the aloof and influential Anthony Thorpe. Isabel was smuggling drugs through his store. And there is the entire drug dealing Cantono family. Isabel had lost a box containing heroin from one of their shipments. That is just to name a few and didn’t even include the stranger who was seen arguing with Isabel just hours before her death.

The police have too many suspects and too many soft alibis. Leah needs to prove to the sexy new chief of police that she had nothing to do with Isabel’s death.

Leah loves a good mystery. Can she find the killer before the police arrest her for murder?

Excerpt:
“So you found the victim about seven fifty?” asked the baby-faced young cop about twenty minutes later.
Why was everyone so young? The name on his badge read Keith Cisneros. I have always been a little nervous around police officers. I’m not sure why. Other than the occasional speeding ticket, I don’t break any laws. Maybe it’s the uniform or just the authority figure mystique. However, I couldn’t be nervous around Keith. First, he was just too young. Second, I didn’t have any nerves left. I was too wet, too cold, and too miserable. And third, I knew Keith. Not well, but well enough to not find him intimidating. He had been the star quarterback on the local high school football team a few years back. His girlfriend at the time had come into my shop quite often, and wherever Susan went, Keith was not far behind. I don’t know what happened to Susan. I haven’t seen her since she went away to college, but Keith had stayed in Reed Hill. He had attended community college and then did whatever it was one did to become a police officer.
We were standing by the dumpster and trying not to look at Isabel. I don’t think Keith had ever seen a dead body either because the look on his face made me think he wanted to follow in my footsteps – scream, run into the nearest building, and lose his lunch. But the kid was made of sterner stuff. My estimation of him rose as he held his ground and questioned me.
“What were you doing out here?” he asked. Okay, so my estimation of him fell a little. I glanced at the trash bags sitting at our feet and tried to keep my voice even as I answered.
“I was taking out the trash.” I don’t think I succeeded as he looked at the trash and then flushed. Now I felt bad, like I had kicked a puppy.
“So did you…”
“Cisneros.” A deep, smoky voice cut through the night. Both of us jumped and then turned toward the voice. Keith’s car was parked nearby, and his front lights were illuminating the vicinity around the dumpster. With the lights from the nearby stores, it was a well-lit area. From the shadows, a figure emerged. If I had any nerves left, I might have been a little anxious. The man walking toward us moved like a stalking panther. Smooth, long strides that ate up the space.
He was breathtaking. Not gorgeous or handsome but there was a power about him that drew the eye. He wasn’t exceptionally tall, standing about five eleven, but his shoulders were broad and his hips narrow. There wasn’t an ounce of fat on his lean, hard body. Dark hair cut short in a military style, covered his head. His face was attractive in a timeless way. Chiseled and clean-shaven but with just a hint of a five o’clock shadow. He had a small indentation on the right side of his mouth that was trying very hard to be a dimple. It was as if he was willing it not to appear with the strength of his personality alone. He had intense green eyes that swept over me briefly before settling on Keith. He was dressed casually in blue jeans, a dark t-shirt, and a navy sports coat. He had to be freezing, but it certainly didn’t show.
He looked familiar, but I knew we had never met. I would have remembered him. He wasn’t the type of man you would ever forget. I searched my brain for a name to go with the face but came up empty. He stopped between us and turned to Keith. “What have we got?”
The kid stood straighter. I guess the man was his supervisor. Although he didn’t look much older than I did, his physical presence alone commanded authority. Keith answered quickly while consulting his notes. “Victim identified as Isabel Meeks. Gunshot wound to the chest, close range.”
The man looked at Isabel still sitting where I found her. He leaned closer. “Looks like a Glock 9mm.”
I was impressed. He was able to identify the type of gun by looking at the body. I owned a Glock and also knew what type of bullet hole it made, but I would have never been able to tell by looking at Isabel. Keith nodded and then looked back at his notes. “She was found about seven fifty p.m. by Ms. Norwood.”
Keith pointed to me, and the man turned his eyes to mine. His gaze swept down my body and back up. He then dismissed me without a second glance before turning back to the rookie. “Has the ME been called?”
Now, I know that I am not the most attractive person in the world. I am what most people would call average. Average height, average weight, average looks, but being dismissed so completely really pissed me off. I was cold, wet, tired, and quite frankly, still a little queasy. And it had been a really bad day. The two men were in deep conversation about the medical examiner when I interrupted.
“Can I leave now?”
Both of them turned toward me. Keith seemed a little surprised that I was still there. I guess he had forgotten about me. The other man just seemed irritated that I had interrupted him.
“You found the body?” he asked and then continued when I nodded, “We’ll need to ask you some questions.”
Keith had been asking me questions. My nerves were shot and my temper short. I am not usually such a bitch, but I had enough of standing out in the freezing rain. I probably shouldn’t have mouthed off to a police officer, but I figured my day couldn’t get any worse. I summoned up my inner diva, gave him my most haughty look, and asked in a snooty tone. “And you are?”
He stared at me a minute, his eyes hard and unyielding. He raised his eyebrows just a notch, pulled out a badge, and held it toward me. “Chief of Police Alexander Griggs.”
Well, damn, my day just got worse.


Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and Smashwords.