Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!


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going, Going, GONE!

“And gone is exactly what it was.” I tried to be nonchalant as I pulled a candy cane from beside my front walkway. I wasn’t fooling any of my neighbors, though. I never did outdoor decorating, or undecorating, as in this case. And when the police car pulled in front of the house, at least three of the houses nearby suddenly had activity at their windows.

Blinds suddenly had a kink in them. Curtains were pulled back. A crazy dog started barking and pawing in the front window at the house across the street. I knew Mrs. Myers was crouching in the dark behind the dog. She probably even had her binoculars out.

I resisted the urge to wave at her and pulled up another candy cane as I turned my attention to the young officer.

He eyed me, holding a stylus above an iPad. “I realize the poster was gone, but I need to know what happened leading up to that moment.”

“Well, there isn’t much to tell. The auctioneer announced that the freakshow poster was the next thing to be auctioned. I picked up my paddle, but I never got the chance to bid. When they revealed the item, all they revealed was a big fat empty.”

“And you . . .”

I felt the heat rise up my neck. “Well, I had a plane to catch. I couldn’t bid on the item I wanted, so what was the point of me staying?”

“You went directly to the airport?”

Sort of. I reached for another candy cane and dropped my voice to a little over a whisper. “I did have to use the ladies.”

“So you stopped along the way.”

I merely nodded at this point. I wasn’t about to go into detail. “Bottom line, I had nothing to do with the disappearance of the poster.” I shook a candy cane in his direction. “No matter what you heard from Cathe Swanson. I was only interested in it for memorabilia anyway. I’ve collected all the books of the series; why not add to the presentation. And it really is a nice poster – was a nice poster.”

“And you never went near the poster before the auction began?”

Okay, that was a different question. I certainly couldn’t outright lie about it. Even if I could force out something that might sound rather affirmative, my flaming face would give it away. Judging from my feverish cheeks, it already was. “I wanted to see the thing before I began bidding on it. You know how it is. I had to be sure it was the real thing.”

“So . . .”

I glanced up at the sky and then down the street toward the corner. Why was some officer questioning me about the auction now? Out of the blue? I spotted a car parked on the entry road to my neighborhood. Cars never parked down there. A head ducked as I looked at it. Was that Cathe Swanson? Surely not. She lived way up north, for pity’s sake.

Was that why the officer was here?

“So you were the last to view it.” This officer, young or not, wasn’t missing anything.

I thought back to the episode I’d seen. Cathe had raced out of the auction house dragging some poor terrier in a hideous Christmas sweater. A moment later, security guards followed in hot pursuit. I had the chance to check under the red drape over the picture. “I wasn’t alone. April Hayman wandered over as well. She held up one edge of the drape and I held up the other.” It had been the real thing, all right.

“I see.” He lifted one eyebrow and jotted something into his iPad.

I pointed at him with the cane. “All I did was look at it. I didn’t touch it. I wasn’t even the last one with it.”

“Who was?”

I couldn’t really be sure about that. A few others joined us as we viewed it. “I think there were a few people there when I dropped my corner of the drape. I know April Hayman was. Have you even spoken to her?”

He ignored my question. “You’re certain she was there?”

“Yes. She had been standing right next to me and went around to the other side as I was leaving.” I took a breath, hoping this would encourage him to leave. I’d already tangled myself up in the candy cane wires and I still had about a dozen of them left to remove.

“I’ll see about this.” He didn’t even say goodbye as he strolled back to his car and got in. The dog across the street stopped barking. The curtains in the house next to it fell back into place. The blinds next door suddenly lost their kink.

I glanced toward the car parked at the corner as it pulled away. If it was Cathe Swanson, she’d been meddling in the wrong barrel. I had nothing to do with the theft no matter how much I’d wanted that poster. I pulled up another cane and solidified a huge tangle around the others and myself.

There was a reason why I didn’t do the outdoor decorating.

***

The authors of the Ever After series are celebrating Denise Barela’s release of Silencing the Siren, even more special because it is her premier publication! Woohoo! It’s available today on Amazon. Here’s a little more about her story:

Andrew Grayson thought he had everything… until he met her.

The indulged son of wealthy parents, Andrew has always gotten whatever he wanted almost before he knew he wanted it—clothes, gadgets… even a car! What more could a young man desire?

Enter Annabel Thompson. Freakshow mermaid extraordinaire… in a wheelchair!

Of course, her beauty attracts him. How could it not? Add to that a kind heart, and Andrew can’t help but fall for her.

Annabel’s connection with the freakshow repels his parents and their society friends. They want him to sever all ties with her and his new friends. Oh, and marry the “right” girl with the “right connections.” But he won’t do it. He’ll defy them and marry his little mermaid.

When Annabel turns up missing, declared dead, things don’t add up, Andrew begins asking some difficult questions, the most important being, “What happened to the little mermaid of the Coney Island freak show?”

Find out in this next book in the Ever After Mysteries, combining beloved fairy tales and mysteries. Silencing the Siren offers a retelling of “The Little Mermaid” that will keep you gripped to the edge of your seat as you watch the story unfold.

Enjoy the rest of this little bloghop:

Rebekah Jones – Jan 4
Chautona Havig – Jan 5
Cathe Swanson – Jan 6
Marji Laine Clubine – Jan 7
April Hayman – Jan 8
Liz Tolsma – Jan 9
Sandy Barela – Jan 10
Denise Lauren Barela – Jan 11

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway below! Great opportunity to win an Amazon gift card!


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In Pieces

I ordered some eggs over easy and toast and then heard the ding on my phone as the waitress left our table.

“Do you need to get that?” my friend asked me.

I hated interrupting the way-too-infrequent times I get to see my friend, but sometimes my mom’s caregivers will text instead of call when she’s having a problem. “Just a sec.”

I opened the text and found the picture of a headless doll. The next image was of the missing head. And it wasn’t exactly a doll. More of a nutcracker. You know the type: dressed in a soldier uniform with a big head that allows for the nuts to fit in between his wide-opening mouth. This one had a tiny sword in one hand and a tall hat like a palace guard.

“Check this out.” I handed my phone over to my friend.

“Is this some sort of threat or just some weird coordination between mystery writers?”

I snorted. “Probably more of the latter than the first. It’s from April Hayman, one of the authors of the Ever After series.”

“Do y’all exchange pictures of broken dolls often?” She handed the phone back to me. “And should I ask for the check now?”

“No.” I laughed. “Apparently, the nutcracker from Chautona Havig’s new book, The Nutcracker Suite, has lost his head somehow.”

“Probably over some Raggedy Ann doll.”

“Cute.” I looked up at the ceiling. “April thought I might know who broke it.”

“Do you?” Her eyebrow arched and she leaned over her elbows on the table.

“I could probably make a pretty good guess. I mean, if it has to do with a nutcracker, then there are likely some mice involved.” Though I really didn’t think Chautona would have mice in her house.

“Maybe the mouse king shoved him off a high shelf?” my friend suggested. “Like yours. Don’t you have a nutcracker on that high shelf in your living room?”

“Yeah, but it’s not a soldier. Mama brought it back from Germany, though it looks more like a Leprechaun.”

My friend took a sip of her coffee. “So, if Chautona doesn’t have mice that could have broken the nutcracker, who broke it?”

“Well…” I thought of some of the sundry characters who fill my own books, but there would be no reason for them to hop into Chautona’s book to create havoc. “While Chautona doesn’t have mice, she does have a passel of kids.”

“I seem to remember somewhere that a couple of kids fought over a nutcracker and broke it. Do you suppose that’s what happened?”

I remembered that story. “I think at least one of those kids was pretty bratty. Chautona’s kids aren’t like that.”

“But it could have still happened that way, maybe they were playing with it?” My friend was certainly getting into the spirit of the mystery. “Or it could have fallen when Chautona was cleaning.”

I couldn’t answer for Chautona, but the poor guy on my high shelf likely had an inch of dust on his little green cap, not that anyone would be tall enough to see it. Which was exactly why I didn’t worry over keeping him dusted. “Either way, I certainly think she’s the one we should ask next about all of this.”

I typed in a short message and attached the pictures to the text. She had some explaining to do.

This little mystery celebrates the release of The Nutcracker Suite, the newest book in the Ever After series by Celebrate Lit. Chautona Havig offers this take on the famous Christmas story:

“Time to dance, sugarplum.”

A painter at the Meyer’s Toys factory, Clarice Stahl, knows something is strange about the way so many men come and go through Mr. Meyer’s office, especially one in particular.

Then murder strikes a little too close to home and uncorks a barrel of secrets.

When mob king, Mario Topo’s, enforcer goes missing the race is on to prove he’s behind the murder. Police and mobsters alike are after Milo Natale, and he who finds Milo first might determine the enforcer’s fate.

A race through the city, a new friend… or more… a new life in the offing. Milo and Clarice must find who killed Topo’s man and why before the police arrest him for murder or Topo’s men bump him and Clarice off,
too.

This next book in the Ever After Mysteries combines “The Nutcracker Suite” with a murder mystery set in the heart of 1920s Rockland.

Order your copy HERE.

And don’t forget to enter at the link below for an Amazon gift card giveaway.

ENTER HERE!


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I Know My Goldmine!

The knock at the door interrupted my new story. Again. I was determined to complete this 1940s retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, but between phone calls and errands, most of my story remained in my head.

My loveable rescue mutt started in on a tirade of protective barks when someone rang the doorbell.

Really? The Amazon delivery person was more than a little determined to get me to empty my porch. I put Rosie (aka Madam Barksalot) into her crate and went to the door.

Now, I live in the suburbs of Dallas, but even in my quiet neighborhood, I know better than to simply open my front door, broad daylight or not. But the fall wreath that I had put up last week completely blocked the peephole.

Grr.

The best I could do was to crack the door open. I thought there was probably a door-to-door salesman there. Over the last couple of months, we’ve entertained cable salesmen, a roofer from down the street, and a fellow attempting to sell us new windows. Well, and a girl scout, but since she came bringing me extra thin mints, I won’t count her among the nuisances.

Either way, I wasn’t expecting dusty men with crumpled fedoras pushing their way into my house.

Instant terror. The thing of nightmares. Or my suspense stories.

Rosie let out a blitz of non-stop barks in the living room. What I wouldn’t give for her sharp little teeth chasing the men off. But I took comfort that sweet hubby was only out on a short walk, and dear daughter and her taser were in the next room. She’d probably even seen the men approaching the place. “Get out of my house.”

The taller one walked through the entry hall looking at my shelves and the pictures on the wall. He made it to the living room, took one glance at Rosie in her crate, and backed away. “Not ’til you tell us where it is.”

“Huh?” I guess my expression confused them. They looked at each other and then back at me. Not that I had any answers. “What is it?”

Rosie had finally stopped barking, and the first man shushed me. “Keep your dog calm.”

The second man stepped into my dining room. “Drawers in here.”

Only in the china cabinet. “Hey.” I held up my hands, but the first guy shushed me again.

The second man pulled out the wide drawer under the glassed cabinets, and, as I discovered several years ago, learned that the drawer has no stopping device. It came out of the slot, and heavy as it was with flatware and Christmas utensils, it fell to the floor, slamming into his toes. “Ow.” He hopped up and down on first one foot and then the other. His friend, the last one at the door, came to help, but the injured man shoved him away.

“Who you shoving?” The last man acted as though to tackle the hopping fellow.

His friend who had returned from the living room yelled at him. “Keep it down.”

They hadn’t closed my door behind them, and my neighbor across the street was out sweeping the acorns off of his sidewalk. He kept glancing in the direction of my doorway. That was good.

And with so much commotion, my daughter had probably already called 911.

I lowered my voice, hoping a calming tone was coming out. “Look, this is a quiet area with nosy neighbors. The police are probably already on their way”

The first one held his hands out toward me. “Ain’t no need for that lady. We just wants the location.”

Did they break into the wrong house? “Location to what? I don’t even know you.” What in the world were they talking about?

“We wants to know where to find the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine, and don’t say you don’t know ’cause Chautona Havig done mailed choo the map.” The last fellow pointed a finger at me.

I would have to remember to thank Chautona, but I hadn’t gotten the mail yet. Had it come today? “But what if I don’t know where your mine is?” I almost said mind which would also have been appropriate.

At this point, I could see the lady who lived catty-corner to me join my across-the-street neighbor in open curiosity. I resisted the urge to wave. Wouldn’t want them to think I was okay with the men bursting in.

“Prove it.” This time, the first man pointed at me.

Were these guys for real? How was I supposed to prove that? But then, I’m a words person. Maybe I could reason with them? “Well, first, the mine is lost, right?”

“Yeah,” the trio chorused.

They might have been dressed like Indiana Jones, but they didn’t seem to be all that intelligent, though that’s a rather harsh thing for me to think. Still, I had few other options since neither the police nor my family members had made an appearance as yet. I pursued my line, “I’m at home here, so clearly I am not… lost, that is. Wouldn’t you agree?”

The expressions on the men’s faces dumbed up with wrinkles across their foreheads and their mouth’s looking like they’d just had a bite of months-old stew. “Uh, okay,” the third guy grunted.

“Second, do I look Dutch to you?” Okay, there might’ve been some Dutch ancestors way, way back in the family tree, but the question just intensified the confusion on the men’s faces. “I can prove to you that I am not.” I pulled out my phone and opened the app that had my family tree in it. Well, at least the first eight generations. “See here? Scottish.” I showed them the line from two of my grandparents. “It’s that way all around.” I didn’t mention the Native American, the French, or the German ancestors, but they couldn’t have handled anymore anyway.

Their faces looked like their brains were fairly about to pop as it was.

I casually wandered into the living room and the men followed me. “And you said it was the ‘Dutch man‘ goldmine, right?”

They nodded.

“I’m am happily female. Not a man.” I shrugged. “In conclusion, I am not lost, not Dutch, and not a man. But I do have a goldmine.” I neared the crate where my silent dog lay. Bright orange with tan markings, my Rosie can easily be described as gold.

I unlatched the door and flung it open. She immediately advanced on the trio with her protective bark and growl performance. “Madam Barksalot is my own personal goldmine.”

The men backed up, fairly falling over each other. “Cain’t you get her to quit.”

“Believe me, boys,” I shout over her earsplitting tirade. “I have tried.” Many times, but not so much in this case.

Rosie escorted them to the door. The post office deliverer was on the other side of the street, way down on the east end. I had to think of something quick before they noticed the truck. “You might give Denise Barela a holler. She lives out in California, and at one time, they had quite a lot of gold out there.” It was the first thing that I thought of and purely by accident. I really expected the police to have been here by now. They’re usually so quick.

The men glanced at each other one last time as a distant siren blared. Then they scrambled out the door and ran west, down the street and around the corner.

I gave my neighbors a wave and a thumbs-up as the siren grew closer. Then I shut the door and went to my daughter’s room. I tapped on the door and opened it a crack. “What did you tell the dispatcher, so I can connect the dots.”

She whirled around and pulled an earbud from one ear. “Did you need something?”

So much for the cavalry. And sure enough, the siren faded as he obviously passed my neighborhood. Thankfully, I hadn’t needed him.

But if the map they’d mention did end up here… well, Denise was pretty creative. She’d figure out what to do with it once she moved those fellows along. Check-in with Denise Barela tomorrow to see how she works with them.

I love these blog hops for the Ever After series! And these mysteries are so much fun. This blog hop celebrates the latest release from Rebecca Jones, The Lost Dutchman’s Secret. Here’s a little about the book:

There’s a deadly secret in them thar hills—and gold, or so they say.

Deeply in debt to a wealthy local, Charles Sinclair, Dorothy Hodges’ father finally promises she’ll pay and in gold, no less. If only Dorothy could take to take the promises he spins out of thin air and turn them into that gold, all would be well.

With the help of a strange, rumpled man, Dorothy does manage to bring payment to one of Sinclair’s sons only to discover it won’t pay off the debt. Will the next payment be enough?  The next?

When Charles Sinclair ends up dead, Dorothy is the obvious prime suspect, but Sinclair’s son isn’t so certain. Together they work to clear her name and find the real murderer of the Superstitions, but will they find the answers buried in those hills?

Find out in this next book in the Ever After Mysteries, combining beloved fairy tales and mysteries. The Lost Dutchman’s Secret offers a retelling of “Rumplestilskin” that requires more digging than a miner searching for The Lost Dutchman Mine.

The Lost Dutchman’s Secret is available. And don’t miss entering the giveaway at the link below for an Amazon gift card! Yea!

https://promosimple.com/ps/142a5/the-lost-dutchman-s-secret-marji


Spotlight #5

This was to be our final day of our WE LOVE OUR READERS sale and sweepstakes, but our prize is such a great one, we’re extending the giveaway for a week to make sure everyone who wants to enter gets the chance! So today, I’m spotlighting some ladies who have become dear friends. They cowrite the Glimpses of God devotional series and have a brand new book coming out in three weeks (August 13 to be exact).

Shirley Crowder and Harriet E. Michael grew up together on the grounds of a medical mission in Nigeria. Though the live several states apart, they have stayed good friends. When Harriet wrote her outstanding Bible study on prayer, PRAYER: IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU, Shirley used it for a unit in a small group. To help dig deeply into the book and into Scripture, Shirley created a STUDY GUIDE ON PRAYER for it. After that, they collaborated together to complete the Prayer Project with a devotional and an anthology.

Shirley is passionate about disciple-making. She is Biblical counselor commissioned by, and serving on the national Advisory Team for, The Addiction Connection. Several of her articles have appeared in “Paper Pulpit” in The Gadsden Times’ Faith section, and in a David C. Cook publication. She also writes articles for Life Bible Study, Woman’s Missionary Union, and InspiredPrompt.com. She has authored or co-authored six books.

Harriet is a wife and mother to four grown children, grandmother to two precious grandchildren, and an award-winning author. She has authored a growing number of books, including “Prayer: It’s Not About You,” a finalist in the 2011 “Women of Faith” manuscript contest. She is also a freelance writer with numerous published pieces, including more than a hundred devotions in various magazines.

Collaborating on devotionals was a perfect fit for the lifelong friends. With the launch of their coming book, GLIMPSES OF GOD: an autumn devotional for women, they will complete their second series of books with our company.

Sadly, GLIMPSES – AUTUMN isn’t available yet, but their anthology, PRAYER WARRIOR CONFESSIONS, is not only available, it’s only 99¢ today! Here’s a little about this great collection:

True accounts of prayer in action.

Read the stories of warriors. Prayer warriors. Those who have struggled with the enemy, fighting on their knees through tragedy and triumph. Cry with them. Laugh with them. Learn the insight they have learned about prayer. About themselves. About God.

Experience the reality of prayer in a new and deeper way with the true and candid stories of experiences from the battle.

Get your copy of PRAYER WARRIOR CONFESSIONS HERE!

Don’t forget to take advantage of the final day of our sale HERE!

And sign up to win our great giveaway HERE!

https://www.writeintegrity.com/sweepstakesHappy dog running through a meadow


Spotlight 4

We’re almost done with our We Love Our Readers week at my publisher, Write Integrity Press, but if you haven’t entered our Sweepstakes for a $50 Amazon card, a new Kindle Fire, and a bunch of books, read on to find the link!

An amazing group of authors sponsored this giveaway, and I’m giving them the spotlight on my blog this week. They so inspire me.

One of the most inspirational is Joan Deneve. Her book, LOVING BROCK made it to my top ten list a few years ago when it first released, even though it isn’t a mystery, and is still there! Here’s what Joan says:

“I am one blessed woman. I’ve had the privilege to share my life with Rene’, my best friend and husband of more than forty years. We live in a small town in Alabama and together, we have a son and a daughter, seven phenomenal grandchildren, and two very spoiled dogs. I teach in a Christian school, and my passion is to help young people fall in love with Jesus and then equip them to become all God wants them to be. My other passion is writing. I love to show how God changes and restores broken people and relationships through His amazing, transforming grace.”

Learn more about Joan at her website: JoanDeneve.com

Her award-winning book Saving Eric started her “Redeemed Side of Broken” series. Here are the details:

Templetons don’t break down. Even when their worlds are falling apart.

Eric Templeton’s well-ordered life as a top CIA agent is shattered when a traitor within the agency plots to have him eliminated. Sent on a bogus mission to Africa, Eric is ambushed and critically wounded. A helicopter pilot flies him to a remote mission hospital where Dr. Brock Whitfield and his daughter, Ellie, work to save his life.

If Eric survives, his life may never be the same, and he still has to deal with the traitor who wants him dead. Eric wants justice, but Brock and Ellie know that Eric’s survival is the least of his worries. What he needs most is mercy and truth.

The completed, three-book series is on sale right now for only 99¢ per book because WE LOVE OUR READERS!

Cynthia T. Toney is another inspiring author, and she makes me laugh! She writes fiction with hope and humor that addresses issues important to tweens or teens and contains elements of mystery and romance. She says, “I love writing for tweens and teens, particularly those who speak without thinking, make poor decisions, and have love to give but don’t always know where to direct it. Young people I’ve encountered over the years inspired me to write novels that show them how wonderful, powerful, and valuable they are. Today’s tweens and teens can identify with the emotions, needs, desires, and challenges of characters in my historical as well as contemporary novels.”

You can contact Cynthia through her website: CynthiaTToney.com.

Her completed “Bird Face” series contains books that won multiple awards. Book one is called 8 Notes to a Nobody. Here is a description:

Anonymous sticky-notes, a scheming bully, and a ruined summer send fourteen-year-old Wendy down a trail of secrets and self-discovery.

“Funny how you can live your days as a clueless little kid, believing you look just fine … until someone knocks you in the heart with it.”

Wendy Robichaud doesn’t care one bit about being popular like good-looking classmates Tookie and the Sticks—until Brainiac bully John-Monster schemes against her, and someone leaves anonymous sticky-note messages all over school. Even her best friend, Jennifer, is hiding something and pulling away. But the spring program, abandoned puppies, and high school track team tryouts don’t leave much time to play detective. And the more Wendy discovers about the people around her, the more there is to learn.

When secrets and failed dreams kick off the summer after eighth grade, who will be around to support her as high school starts in the fall?

You can reach the purchase link by clicking the cover or HERE! All of the Bird Face series as well as Cynthia’s historical THE OTHER SIDE OF FREEDOM are only 99¢ each because WE LOVE OUR READERS!

And don’t forget to enter the WE LOVE OUR READERS sweepstakes by clicking HERE!


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Breaking Point

I’m so excited to share this book with you. It’s literally been over a decade in the making. But after 5 full rewrites, 8 editors, and countless revisions, I’d like to share the opening scene from BREAKING POINT. (BREAKING POINT is only 99¢ right now on Kindle. Get your copy HERE.)

BREAKING POINT – Chapter One

“What do you mean he’s missing?” Lt. Jason Danvers set his fishing pole aside. Myra Stone wasn’t given to panic. He’d never even noticed the lady flustered. Until this phone call.

“I found a note this morning. I thought he’d taken an early walk, but then I saw that his car was gone and found the note taped to the kitchen faucet that he’d gone to the store for some of his hot chocolate.” The older woman’s voice broke, though she struggled to lower her volume. “And I called his phone, but it was plugged into the charger in the office.”

He pulled a pad out of his jacket pocket and the stub of a pencil. “When did you see him last?”

“I went to bed last night at about eleven. He was watching a baseball game that we’d recorded earlier.”

“And you don’t know when he left?” Who ventured out in the middle of the night for a silly can of cocoa? Jason jotted the quick details in case he needed to remember them later.

“No. I didn’t hear him leave, and didn’t … Oh, dear.” She was losing control.

“Myra, I’ll call Chief Tate, and we’ll start a search.” He needed to do better than that if he wanted to settle her tension. “He probably ran out of gas or maybe had a flat. With no phone, he couldn’t very well call for help.”

She stayed silent for a moment. “Yes. I’m sure you’re right about that. Please find him for me.”

Her plea ripped at a piece of his heart. He ended the call and reeled in his empty line. He’d pack stuff up later. Palming his phone, he jogged to his black Jeep and climbed in.

Pulling onto the gravel road that ran alongside this forgotten branch of Grayson Lake, he called Heath’s Point Chief of Police and filled him in on the details. “I’m north of town, but I can swing west a few miles and try some of the back roads from Dallas.” That late at night, Ellis would have had to go into the city or at least the suburbs to find his favorite chocolate powder.

“You take that side, and I’ll check in town for his car.” Chief Dell Tate’s normally gruff voice held a tone of worry. “Chances are he came in for donuts or something and just forgot to pick up the note he’d left before going fishing.”

Reasonable. But Jason would still feel better when they found the man. He turned onto the county road and tuned in his police radio. He tried to keep the darn thing off on his free days, but this situation warranted his monitoring the feed. Setting it to scan the local agencies, he tried to relax. Ellis Stone would be found. He’d be fine. This would be a non-issue.

But something in his gut argued against all of that.

God, please, calm Myra right now. Help us find Ellis, so she doesn’t have to worry.

The Lord knew where Ellis was. Given a little time, He’d allow Jason or Dell to find him. And Jason had the time—part of the charm of working for a small-town police department. The fish probably wouldn’t even know they’d been stood up.

He traversed one country road after another, each slick and shiny from the overnight rains, but found no little white sedan stopped alongside the asphalt.

“Cruiser 10, single-vehicle accident near Farm-to-Market 457.” His gut clenched with the call from the county dispatcher. But there was no reason to assume that Ellis had an accident.

Still, Jason wasn’t far from the area. He’d travel that direction if only to get a look at the vehicle and ease his mind that it wasn’t Ellis. Jason glanced at his dashboard clock. Almost ten. He’d have been tired of fishing by now anyway.

His cell buzzed from the pocket of his gray-green shirt and gave his normal greeting, “Danvers.”

“You hear that call?” His superior’s gruff voice barely echoed over the background sounds of his noisy patrol car.

“Yes, sir. I’m already headed in that direction.” Thankfully, he hadn’t picked up his cruiser. Nothing official. Maybe the deputy he always seemed to butt heads with wouldn’t be too hostile toward him since he wasn’t in the uniform or the painted car.

“I’ll meet you there.” Chief Tate snorted. “Those county boys don’t like you much.”

“I know how to play nice.” Too bad the sheriff’s office treated every accident and crime as some sort of competition with all the local agencies. “Besides, they don’t like you either.” Antagonizing them didn’t take much.

“That’s because they think I’ll toss my hat in the ring for sheriff someday.”

Sheriff Beauregard Kindrich had been in charge of the county for almost two decades, and he wasn’t about to relinquish his power to anyone. Especially not to Chief Dell Tate, fifteen years younger than Kindrich and exponentially better at his job. Tate had hinted more than once—even within the sheriff’s hearing—that he might like to run for the elected position.

The chief scoffed. “But they still don’t dare shove me around the way they do you.”

Who would shove a rattler with his bare hands? Jason kept the image to himself. After all, he was still the newcomer to the HPPD, only here for a few years. An outsider to many people, even in town but especially to the sheriff and his deputies. “I’ll stay out of sight until you arrive, then.”

He turned onto County Road 457, a narrow strip of asphalt still glistening in the morning sunlight. This wouldn’t have been a direct route to the store that Myra claimed her husband visited, but it might have been his choice to avoid the more direct route, which often flooded in a heavy sprinkle.

After following it for a few miles without spotting anything, he resisted the urge to turn off and head for Myra’s place, Sunrise Inn. Maybe Ellis had returned home by now.

Cresting another hill, he sighted a small gathering of county cruisers. Looked like he’d located their accident. He pulled off the road some distance from the other vehicles. No need to poke the brown bears, as the local police tended to call them.

Jason did a quick, three-point turn and found a wide area on the other side where he could park. He jogged back to the curve and stood at the crest of the hill overlooking a sorghum field which was soggy from last night’s showers. Sounded like the entire sheriff’s department was down there except for one sad lackey on the far side of the curve who’d been stuck with traffic duty.

From his position, Jason couldn’t see any accident. The curve jutted out a bit, blocking his view. But he could hear the men talking. Unfortunately, one voice rang out above the others.

Deputy Martin Cain. The man practically worshiped at the feet of the sheriff, probably in hopes of being his successor someday. Cain, one of the senior deputies, had probably taken charge of the scene.

Jason wouldn’t get a blade of grass from that guy.

Before the traffic lackey turned toward him, Jason eyed the incline off the side of the road. Steep, but with little flat areas spaced at good intervals. Jason dropped off the edge of the embankment and cut downhill to a grove of leafy cottonwoods on the edge of the sorghum field. If Deputy Cain searched, he might distinguish Jason’s pale mossy shirt or his light tan hat in the undergrowth, but Cain missed more than he caught.

Jason had a clear view of a white sedan resting on its roof in the gully at the edge of the field.

A sick feeling punched his gut. He’d held out hope for any other color. But even so, this was East Texas. Every third vehicle was white to reflect the blistering, summer sun.

None of the county people seemed to be moving very fast. He wanted to believe that they’d already transported the injured driver away, but he knew better. This was a new scene. The fact that they weren’t moving could only mean one thing. Someone was dead. No need to hurry. Even after almost a decade of law enforcement, he’d never gotten used to seeing the dead. Especially after what had happened to him in Chicago.

But even without that tragedy, he couldn’t fathom how law enforcement professionals were supposed to simply shrug off the ending of a life, callously discarding the dreams and potential of the victim? That went for any victim, but especially for a nice, old man who had made Jason a member of the family, welcoming him with a goodhearted laugh and a firm handshake.

Not that the driver was Ellis. Maybe Chief Tate had found him by now. Jason pulled out his phone and texted in order to keep things quiet. “Found the accident. Deputy Cain’s in charge. White car. Tell me you’ve found Ellis.” With nothing to do except wait for his boss’s response, he picked a wide leaf from a nearby branch and absently tore it into thin strips while he listened to the discussions from those at the scene.

“Been dead since about midnight, if I had to guess.” The county coroner, Dr. Barnes, was a plumpish, middle-aged man with dark hair under his trademark Texas Rangers Baseball cap.

“Don’t want chur guessing Charlie. I could do that misself.” Deputy Cain didn’t tend to make friends even within his department.

“Medical Examiner’ll get closer.” The coroner pulled off the cap, scratched his bald spot, and put the cap back on. “Take a while to hear from him.”

Un-Ax-ceptable.” Cain’s volume rose. “This case’ll be wrapped up with a bow by Sunday’s paper.”

Two days? Cain was dreaming. This was probably a simple accident, but the county ME, Doc Umbridge, wouldn’t even see the data before sometime next week. Maybe the week after if he was busy.

“Like I said ….” The coroner looked meek and amiable, but he had enough gusto to stand up to Deputy Martin Cain. “’Bout midnight. Maybe one. Best guess you’ll get for Sunday’s paper.”

Jason edged to the right, staying in the tree line but hoping to get a view of the driver. He spotted the chief’s cruiser coming around the bend.

Good, he’d get some answers.

The county crime scene investigators measured, marked, and photographed every aspect of the scene. Cain stood to one side with his arms folded.

“What you got going on down here, Cain?” The chief made his way down the hill, and his booming voice seemed to fill the entire valley.

“Nothing you LEOs need to worry about.” Cain might have jurisdiction over the local Law Enforcement Officers, but he had no sense when it came to talking to the chief.

Jason strode from his camouflage and climbed through the slats of the fence. “I should think after all the help we gave the county a few months ago, during those drug raids, that Deputy Cain would at least extend respect, Chief.”

“Great, so the outsider is here, too.” Cain glared at Jason.

“The important people show respect, Jason. Others show immaturity.” The chief sniffed in Cain’s direction as he rounded the car.

Jason joined the county coroner who stood taking notes in a little booklet. “One occupant?”

The coroner didn’t even glance at Cain’s thundercloud face before nodding. “Late sixties, maybe earlier seventies.”

Not what Jason wanted to hear.

“And that ain’t none of their business, Charlie.” Cain stepped between the two, bending over the shorter coroner as if chastising an errant youth.

Dell scratched at his whitish beard. “Son, you need to learn how to work and play nice with others.”

The coroner snickered.

Dell continued, laying his palm on the deputy’s shoulder. “Normal for a cop like Jason to be concerned about something like this.”

“He ain’t got no jurisdiction here.” Cain used that mantra like a business card. “And neither do you.”

“Shoot, son. Just because a career officer is hanging around don’t mean he wants to take over. Stop getting your shorts in a wad about a fight that ain’t even there.” Dell’s comment raised a rumble of chuckles from the others working the scene and a couple of firemen sent to retrieve the body.

The chief bent over to peer through the shattered back glass. “So. This Ellis Stone’s car?”

Jason’s gut twisted. He waited, hoped, for someone to say, No, it belongs to some stranger.

This time the coroner glanced at Cain. The deputy shook his head, but the older man turned toward Dell. “You recognize the man’s car in this condition?”

“Good friend.” Dell’s tone lowered.

To both of them. The knot in Jason’s gut tightened. He squatted, avoiding the view of the man who had been his friend hunched against the passenger window.

“I’m sorry, Chief. Wallet belongs to Ellis Stone. Picture matches.” The coroner continued to speak about details to the chief and the deputy. Jason stopped listening.

Victim. Ellis was the victim. And Jason needed to see him in that way to stay detached enough to let his observations connect.

He glanced around the interior of the car. No wires on the accelerator. The car was in gear. The victim wasn’t belted into the seat. That was strange. Ellis was always automatic in buckling his seatbelt. His blue jeans were soaking wet in places.

Jason put a knee down in the wet grass.

“Keep your fingerprints to yourself, Danvers.” Cain stepped around the car from the other direction.

“Just making observations.”

The chief knelt beside him. “Awful way to go.”

Jason pointed to a puddle of water that soaked the headliner. “Where did all that water come from?”

“It rained last night, of course.” Cain hadn’t bothered to get a glimpse of it for himself. He would’ve seen how unlikely that was.

“Didn’t rain that hard last night. Less than a quarter-inch.” The chief stood and pointed it out to the coroner.

The man bent down next to Jason. “I’m not an investigator, but it looks strange to me.” He turned to Cain. “You should make a note. There’s more than an inch of water pooling near the dome light.” He stood and looked expectantly at Cain.

“This is a waste of time.” But the deputy pulled out his tablet and tapped a few keys.

“Maybe.” Jason took another look, particularly scanning the backseat. A smashed Whataburger cup was near the back window. A discarded receipt with a burger wrapper was near it. “Maybe not. You going to collect all of the items in the car?” Jason stood.

“This is an accident scene, Lieutenant.” Cain narrowed the gap between them, elbows back like a banty rooster and staring up from the height of Jason’s chin. “And this ain’t none of your business.”

Jason stood firm, looking over the man’s head at the chief.

The older man patted Cain on the shoulder. “There’s no call for that, son. Procedure says you collect everything from the scene, even of an accident. Insurance, you know.” He patted him again, persuading him to turn away from Jason. “And I tell you what, you make sure all of those little details get collected and we get access to them, and we’ll go tell the family about their loss.”

Cain huffed but released his attitude. “The sheriff will appreciate that, Chief.”

“Of course.” Dell eyed the junior bear. “Rather it come from me.”

“Sorry for your loss.” To Cain’s credit, he delivered his condolence with a semblance of regret instead of a victory dance. “If it’s any comfort, he went quickly.”

The coroner chimed in. “Broken neck, head wounds. Didn’t have time to even be afraid.”

“Probably saw the Lord before he even saw the ground.” Leave it to Dell to put things into perspective, but that wouldn’t make the loss any easier. He nodded at the two men. “Jason and I will break the news to his wife.”

Cain nodded then raised one eyebrow. “But you’ll need to contact the sheriff right after you’ve spoken to her and let him announce it to the media.”

So much for Cain’s credit. His intention to use Ellis’s death to secure voters for the sheriff left a putrid taste in Jason’s mouth.

Dell lifted his eyes heavenward but agreed and gestured for Jason to join him on a trek back toward the road.

“Not the way I’d hoped to find Ellis.” Jason dug his hiking boots into the soft dirt of the incline.

“Me neither, though I’d never known the man to disappear. Knew something had happened.” He fingered his tuft of beard again above his light-blue uniform shirt. “I hate what this is gonna do to Myra.”

“Especially with no family around.” Though they had a daughter, maybe two, he’d never met them. Myra’s closest friend, Cat Alexander, was out of town. “Should we let Cat and Ray know?”

“No. they deserve to finish their honeymoon in ignorant bliss.” Dell shot him a look. “And until they get back, we’ll make sure Myra has plenty of help and support, starting with you taking her out to Howie-Mem to wait for her husband’s body.”

Howerton Memorial Hospital served as a temporary morgue until the county could build one of their own. “I’ll take care of her.” Jason ached for Myra. Losing a soulmate was hard enough without having to go through the loss all alone. He knew the feeling well.

A position he’d vowed to never relive.


August 2017 New Releases

This month has some riveting reads!

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Action/Adventure:

Imperfect Lies by Elizabeth Noyes — When another woman emerges from the past to claim Mallory Cameron’s happily ever after, she cuts her losses and sets out to find a headline-worthy story to launch her journalism career. She embarks on a whirlwind journey that takes her across the United States, to the blue-green waters of the Caribbean, on to sunny Mexico, and deep into the dangerous parts of Africa where terror reigns. James Evers turned his back on a life of power and privilege to carve a place in the world for himself. Now that he’s finally discovered his niche as a small-town sheriff and found the woman he wants in his future, a past indiscretion struts in on high heels and sends his newfound love fleeing headlong into peril. His mission: neutralize old enemies, defuse new threats, resolve past mistakes, settle family disputes, and—most importantly—find and rescue his woman from terrorists before the unthinkable happens. (Action/Adventure from Write Integrity Press)

Contemporary Romance:

The Bachelor’s Unexpected Family by Lisa Carter — Young widow Kristina Montgomery moves to Kiptohanock, Virginia, hoping it will give her and her teenage son, Gray, a fresh start. She longs for the peace and quiet only a small town can provide. But her plans are thwarted by her new neighbor, Canyon Collier, a former Coast Guard pilot and a crop duster. Gray is instantly drawn to the pilot and his teenage niece, Jade—and Kristina’s not far behind. She and Canyon are soon bonding over parenting their charges and their spark becomes undeniable. Could it be that the spirited pilot is just what Kristina needs to teach her heart to soar again? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Gift of the Magpie by Zoe M. McCarthy — Amanda Larrowe’s lack of trust sabotages her relationships. The English teacher and award-winning author of middle-grade adventure books for boys has shut off communication with friends and family to meet her January 2 book deadline. Now, in the deepest snow accumulation Richmond, Virginia, has experienced in years, Camden Lancaster moves in across the street. After ten years, Amanda’s heart still smarts from the humiliating aftermath of their perfect high-school Valentine’s Day date. Camden may have transformed into a handsome, amiable man, but his likeability doesn’t instill trust in Amanda’s heart. When Cam doesn’t recognize her on their first two encounters, she thinks it’s safe to be his fair-weather neighbor. Boy is she wrong. (Contemporary Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

A Mother for Leah by Rachel L. Miller –It’s been ten years since Leah Fisher’s mother died in a buggy accident. But when Leah’s father shows interest in Naomi Yoder, Leah isn’t ready for a new mother. Will Leah be able to let go of her own ideas and realize that God truly does know best for her or will she allow love to slip through her fingers, destroying Samuel Fisher and Naomi Yoder’s happiness at the same time? (Contemporary from S & G Publishing)

General Contemporary:

Freedom’s Ring by Heidi Chiavaroli — An antique ring reunites a Boston Marathon bombing survivor with the man who saved her. Together they unearth the two-hundred-year- old history of a woman who suffered tremendous loss in the Boston Massacre, a woman torn between the love of two men – one a patriot, one a Redcoat. (General Contemporary from Tyndale House)

Fresh Faith by Elise Phillips — Joy Abbott had been trying to start her life over for years — and failing. Then a letter summoned her to Texas and everything changed. (General Contemporary from Desert Breeze Publishing)

Historical:

Enchanted Isle by Melanie Dobson — In the spring of 1958, Jenny Winter embarks on a two-month adventure to a quaint village in England’s magical Lake District. With a new camera and an eye for capturing the beauty others miss, she can’t wait to explore the heathery fells and mystical waters. Adrian Kemp, a handsome and enigmatic local, makes the sightseeing even more beguiling. When Adrian shows Jenny his late father’s abandoned dream, a deserted island amusement park, she glimpses a kindred spirit in this reckless, haunted young man. Yet as she opens her heart to Adrian, the two stumble into a mystery leading back a generation to an unforgettable romance and an unsolved murder. As long-held secrets come to light, it’s left to Jenny and Adrian to put the past to rest and restore a lost dream. (Historical from Waterfall Press)

Titus: The Aristocrat by Katheryn Maddox Haddad — Titus intends to become a famous lawyer in the Roman Empire. Instead, he is sent by Paul to arbitrate between arch enemies in wild Corinth, wilder Crete, and wildest Dalmatia. In each place he suffers. But, long before that, he suffers from guilt over the death of his mother when he was eleven years old. How does Titus survive it all? (Historical from Northern Lights Publishing House)

Historical Romance:

 

To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander — With fates bound by a shared tragedy, a reformed gambler from the Colorado Territory and a Southern Belle bent on breaking free from society’s expectations must work together to achieve their dreams – provided the truth doesn’t tear them apart first. (Historical Romance from Zondervan)


The Second Chance Brides Collection by Lauralee Bliss, Angela Breidenbach, Ramona K. Cecil, Pamela Griffin, Grace Hitchcock, Pam Hillman, Laura V. Hilton, Tiffany Amber Stockton, and Liz Tolsma — Meet nine women who each believe their chance for lifelong love has passed them by. From the girls who lost their beaus to war, to the wallflowers overshadowed by others, and the widows deeply hurt by their loss, the desire to love and be loved spans American history from 1777 to 1944. Experience the sweet pull of romance on each life and the blossom of faith that leads them to brighter futures. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Promise of Breeze Hill by Pam Hillman — Anxious for his brothers to join him on the rugged frontier along the Mississippi River, Connor O’Shea has no choice but to indenture himself as a carpenter in exchange for their passage from Ireland. But when he’s sold to Isabella Bartholomew of Breeze Hill Plantation, Connor fears he’ll repeat past mistakes and vows not to be tempted by the lovely lady. The responsibilities of running Breeze Hill have fallen on Isabella’s shoulders after her brother was found dead in the swamps along the Natchez Trace and a suspicious fire devastated their crops, almost destroyed their home, and left her father seriously injured. Even with Connor’s help, Isabella fears she’ll lose her family’s plantation. Despite her growing feelings for the handsome Irish carpenter, she seriously considers accepting her wealthy and influential neighbor’s proposal of marriage. Soon, though, Connor realizes someone is out to eliminate the Bartholomew family. Can he set aside his own feelings to keep Isabella safe? (Historical Romance from Tyndale House)

Romantic Suspense:

Chasing Secrets by Lynette Eason — When a photo leads investigators in West Ireland to open a twenty-five-year-old cold case, Elite Guardians bodyguard Haley Callaghan’s life is suddenly in danger. Haley knows how to take care of herself; after all, she’s made a career out of taking care of others. But after she has an uncomfortably close call, Detective Steven Rothwell takes it upon himself to stay with her–and the young client she has taken under her wing. A protector at heart, he’s not about to let Haley fight this battle alone. In a sweeping plot that takes them into long-buried memories–and the depths of the heart–Haley and Steven will have to solve the mystery of Haley’s past while dodging bullets, bombs, and bad guys who just won’t quit. (Romantic Suspense from Revell [Baker])

Plain Retribution by Dana R. Lynn — Ten years ago while on rumspringa, Rebecca Miller and her friends were kidnapped and held captive…and now, living in the English world, she’s nearly abducted again. One by one her friends who once helped send their abductor to jail are targeted, and she is next…unless police officer Miles Olsen can stop a killer. Deaf since birth, the only person on the force that Rebecca can communicate with is Miles, and he needs this case to redeem himself of past mistakes. When the relentless killer tracks them deep into the heart of Amish country, protecting Rebecca must be Miles’s sole focus. Because a mistake this time will cost something worth more to him than his job—the woman he’s falling for. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Cold Blooded by Anne Patrick — Detective Gwen Jamison has the highest closure rate in her division, but a string of armed robberies is about to take over her life. Not only will her job be on the line, but the troubling case also wreaks havoc on her personal life. Lieutenant Ian McKean knew he would have his hands full when he took over leadership of the detectives unit. He wasn’t prepared for the headstrong Detective Jamison, though, who quickly becomes a thorn in his side. If they can stop butting heads long enough they might realize they are more alike than either imagined. (Romantic Suspense from Anne Patrick)


New Releases for July!

I’m so excited to introduce FAUX PAS, the latest release from Write Integrity Press. This is a hysterical contemporary full of mystery and a collection of quirky characters that will have you laughing out loud! Order the e-book before it’s release on July 4th, and enjoy a 40% discount! Here’s the LINK.

Here are other new releases for this month. More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

On Love’s Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson — When Natalie O’Ryan’s fiancé books their wedding in her hometown, Natalie didn’t know the only reception venue available would be an old barn belonging to Justin Kane–the best friend she left behind all those years ago after promising to stay. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin discover the groundwork for forgiveness–and that there may be more than an old friendship between them. (Contemporary Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Their Ranch Reunion by Mindy Obenhaus — Single mom Carly Wagner is surprised to learn she’ll have to share ownership of the home she’s inherited with her first love—and first heartbreak—Andrew Stephens. The man who fled their tiny Western town is back and standing in the way of her dreams to expand her B and B. Now a successful businessman, Andrew has eight weeks to buy Carly out. But Carly’s too stubborn to persuade—and too beautiful to ignore. When fire ravages her inn and she and her daughter move in to their shared property, Andrew’s in over his head. Time is running out and Andrew must decide: leave and chase another deal…or stay and chase Carly’s heart. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Time and Tide by Kristen Terrette — Recovering from addiction and a near death experience, Chad moves to Moanna Island, a small island close to Savannah off the Atlantic coast, to begin a job with his family’s real estate empire, a job he was supposed to have taken years ago. Free-spirited Ryan Mason is a Moanna local girl from a blue-collar family. She’s dropped her own dreams to help her father care for her schizophrenic brother. When Chad and Ryan meet at the rehabilitation center where her brother lives, feelings develop between them. Can their crazy worlds ever fit together once he learns her secret and she finds out he is the sole heir to the Cusher Empire? (Contemporary from Hartwood Publishing Group)


Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh — When a workaholic interior designer returns to her hometown to check on her brother’s welfare, she reconnects with a soldier, secretly in love with her, over a renovation project that will help the struggling town. (Contemporary Romance from Tyndale House)

Cozy Mystery:

A Tempting Taste of Mystery by Elizabeth Ludwig — Judging a pie contest leads Cheryl Cooper and friends into mayhem and mystery after someone begins methodically sabotaging the entries. (Cozy Mystery from Guideposts Publications)

Over Maya Dead Body by Sandra Orchard — FBI Special Agent Serena Jones arrives on Martha’s Vineyard with her family, ready for a little bit of R&R and a whole lot of reminiscing as they celebrate the engagement of an old family friend. But crime doesn’t take a vacation, and she’s soon entangled in an investigation of a suspicious death tied to an antiquities smuggling ring.When her investigation propels her into danger, Serena must stay the course and solve this case before anyone else dies. But just how is she supposed to do that when the two men in her life arrive on the scene, bringing with them plenty of romantic complications–and even a secret or two? (Cozy Mystery from Revell [Baker])

Historical Romance:

 

The American Conquest (Window to the Heart Sage, Book 3) by Jenna Brandt — Margaret must leave behind her title and wealth in Europe in order to escape and start a new life in the Colorado Territory. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)


Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection by Susanne Dietze, Michelle Griep, Anne Love, Gabrielle Meyer, Natalie Monk, Jennifer Uhlarik, Erica Vetsch, Jaime Jo Wright, and Kathleen Y’Barbo — Journey along in nine historical romances with those whose lives are transformed by the opulence, growth, and great changes taking place in America’s Gilded Age. Nine couples meet during these exhilarating times and work to build a future together through fighting for social reform, celebrating new opportunities for leisure activities, taking advantage of economic growth and new inventions, and more. Watch as these romances develop and legacies of faith and love are formed. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Rebel in My House by Sandra Merville Hart — Promises can be impossible to keep–especially when a Confederate soldier trapped behind enemy lines looks to a Gettysburg seamstress for help. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

A Match for Melissa by Susan Karsten — Wanting a godly husband, Melissa’s only choice is to follow her father’s wishes, even when doing so may not achieve the desires of her heart. (Historical Romance from Prism Book Group [Pelican]).

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island by Carrie Fancett Pagels — Moor your heart on Mackinac Island along with resident sweetheart Maude Welling, an heiress trying to prove her worth by working incognito as a maid at the Grand Hotel. Meet Ben Steffans, a journalist posing as a wealthy industrialist who has come to the island to uncover a story about impoverished men pursuing heiresses at the famed hotel. Will a growing love between Maude and Ben be scuttled when truths are revealed in this Gilded Age romance? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Salvation by the Sea by Kristen Reed — Life has been anything but easy for Muirigan thanks to a series of life-altering calamities, but she’s found peace with her new, understated life by the sea. However, the maid’s past comes back to haunt her when she saves the shipwrecked Prince Halvard one morning. Failing to recognize one of his dearest childhood friends, the prince invites Muirigan to live at court as a reward for her valiant heroism. As the two reconnect, something deeper than friendship blossoms, but will their newfound affection survive when Muirigan’s lies are revealed and Halvard learns the truth about what has befallen since their tragic separation? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Romantic Suspense:

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble — As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancé to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful. But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted. (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Speculative:

The Genesis Tree by Heather L.L. FitzGerald — Deception is rampant, the enemy is subtle, and love dares to tug at Sadie’s heart amid the turmoil that forces her and her family back to the Tethered World below. (Speculative/Contemporary Fantasy from Mountain Brook Ink)


20 November Releases from FICTION FINDERS!

November 2016 New Releases from FICTION FINDERS!

3dcounterpointMore in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Romantic Suspense:

Counter Point by Marji Laine — Her dad’s gone, her diner’s closing, and her car’s in the lake. Cat McPherson has nothing left to lose … except her life. And a madman, bent on revenge, is determined to take that, as well. Her former boyfriend, Ray Alexander, returns as a hero from his foreign mission, bringing back souvenirs in the form of death-threats. When several attempts are made on Cat’s life, she must find a way to trust Ray, the man who broke her heart. (Write Integrity Press)

His Perfect Love by Sharon K. Connell — On the run from a hit man, Patricia Campbell is unaware of the FBI’s search for her to learn what information she might hold, so she continues to hide out. Then she meets a persistent computer technician, a charming philanthropist, and a handsome, wealthy businessman who wants to marry her. But her fears resurface, and she wonders if she can trust any of them. Can she survive long enough to find peace…and perfect love? (Independently Published)

Biblical:

Slender Reeds: Jochebed’s Hope by Texie Susan Gregory — In a deadly race to save her son, a young slave woman dares defy the most powerful man in the world. (Barbour Publishing)

Contemporary Romance:

Raining Fools by Jackie Castle — Bekka Winters hung up the phone. Ethan, her brother, needed her help filming a music video for his new music production studio. She stared at her already packed bags. Why not? She’d just graduated from college and didn’t exactly have a job to go to. Besides, a music video might look good on her resume when she looked for real work.

Stephen Gaines couldn’t believe Ethan had called him after their last blow up. They’d been music partners once. Stephen had ruined that. It was his expertise to wreck relationships especially those he had with women. Fortunately, Ethan didn’t know about him and Bekka. She was the one woman that had broken through to the deep parts of his heart. If only… how many times had he said that in the past? A fresh start is just what he needed.

Bekka’s mind bubbled with ideas for Ethan’s studio. Not to mention she couldn’t wait to see Ethan and Haley, the woman who’d captured her brother’s heart. But when she pulled into the drive and saw the familiar fancy car that Stephen drove, her heart dropped. There was no way she’d let him back into her life.

raining-foolsCrazy Woman Christmas by Renee Blare — A quiet cowboy whisks Bianca to his ranch to ride out the Christmas blizzard where she discovers life is cold but also beautiful in the “Cowboy” state. (Inspired [Prism Book Group])

Other Than a Halo by Valerie Comer — Even though she’s a new woman in Christ, single mom Bren Haddock was no angel as a teen. Now managing the Hiller Farm for a CSA, life is good until a friend offers to enter her daughter into the Little Miss Snowflake Pageant. Old insecurities flare when she meets the intriguing head of marketing the pageant. Rob Santoro isn’t so sure about handling the pageant portfolio until he meets Bren. Soon he’s fallen for her and her two kids. When a Thanksgiving adventure goes awry, he’s left wondering how to love a woman who refuses to be loved. What will it take for Bren to retire her tarnished halo and move into the future God has for her? (Independently Published)

Do You Know What I Know? by Becky Melby — What if a phone call from the obstetrician’s office went to the wrong person? Elizabeth Schmidt can’t figure out why her husband doesn’t seem excited about the news she’s sure he heard. Is he unhappy? Or is James cheating on her?

Pastor Jay Davidson is in shock. Bethany Schmidt, the woman he’s in love with, is pregnant. Should he walk away, or is God asking him to play the part of Joseph in real life and not just in the church Christmas program? Bethany can’t figure out why Jay is acting so weird. Has he figured out one of the two secrets she’s keeping until after Christmas? Can a pony-tailed itinerant carpenter with a pet chicken help unravel the confusion? (Independently Published)

How to Charm a Beekeeper’s Heart by Candice Sue Patterson — Weddings are the last thing beekeeper Huck Anderson wants to be associated with, considering his past. So when he inherits a building occupied by a bridal boutique, he aims to evict the failing business and open a sporting goods store. That is until his tenant ends up being Arianne Winters, a woman he’s indebted to from a mistake made years ago. When a life-threatening injury derails Huck entirely, Arianne offers to aid in his lengthy recovery if he’ll allow her to remain in his building. But nursing her adversary proves challenging when her adolescent crush resurfaces. (White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay — After a whirlwind romance and marriage, Emily Price returns home to Italy with her new husband and learns that life at its richest is only found when she accepts its chaotic beauty. (HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Contemporary Women’s Fiction:

Forgiveness by Marianne Evans — Country music bad boy, Chase Bradington is on the comeback trail. Fresh from rehab for alcohol addiction and  transformed by the power of Christ, Chase is battling to rediscover the music he loves and a career he nearly ruined. Then he meets up-and-comer, Pyper Brock and instantly sparks ignite.

Despite her rampant attraction to the handsome and talented icon, Pyper knows of Chase’s reputation and soundly dismisses his romantic overtures. No way will Pyper repeat the mistake of trusting a man whose done battle with the bottle. Can a sin-damaged past be released in favor of forgiveness? (Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

Historical:

Beneath a Golden Veil by Melanie Dobson — As elegant as the Sacramento residence she operates, Isabelle Labrie keeps her past concealed, like the treasure she hides under the Golden Hotel. Then, unexpected guests—fugitive slaves seeking safe passage to the North—force her to confront her past and reconsider her path. (Waterfall Press)

Forest Child by Heather Day Gilbert — Historically based on the Icelandic Sagas, Forest Child brings the memorable, conflicted persona of Freydis Eiriksdottir to life. (Elk Lake Publishing Inc.)

The Lost Generation by Erica Marie Hogan — On August 5th 1914, the world changed forever. For John and Beth Young, it meant the happiness they finally achieved was snatched out from under them. For Emma Cote, it meant that her husband Jared would do his duty, despite her feelings. For Christy Simmons it meant an uncertain future with the boy she loved. The lives of six people, spread across the British Empire to America were changed forever. (Elk Lake Publishing Inc.)

Historical Romance:

The Blue Ribbon Brides Collection by Jennifer AlLee, Angela Breidenbach, Darlene FranklinCynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Amber Stockton, Niki Turner, Gina Welborn, and Becca Whitham — Meet nine men and women whose competitive goals take them to state and county fairs between 1889 and 1930. From baking pie to polishing pigs, from sculpting butter to stitching quilts, everyone has something to prove to themselves and their communities. But in going for the blue ribbon, will nine women miss the greatest prize of all—the devoted heart of a godly man? (Barbour Publishing)

Left at the Altar by Margaret Brownley — In the wild and untamed West, time is set by the local jeweler…but Two-Time Texas has two: two feuding jewelers and two wildly conflicting time zones. Meg Lockwood’s marriage was supposed to unite the families and finally bring peace until she’s left at the altar by her no-good fiancé. Hired to defend the groom against a breach of promise lawsuit, Grant Garrison quickly realizes that the only thing worse than small-town trouble is falling for the jilted bride. But there’s something about Meg’s sweet smile and determined grit that draws him in…even as the whole crazy town seems set on keeping them apart. (Sourcebooks)

Mail Order Mommy by Christine Johnson — Nursing a broken heart, Amanda Porter had answered a frontier mail-order bride ad placed by Garrett Decker’s children—only to find the groom-to-be didn’t want a wife. But his adorable children are determined she’ll be their mother by Christmas… His wife’s betrayal and tragic death demolished Garrett’s life. Now he can’t even look at another woman, let alone marry Amanda, who resembles his first love. But with his daughter convinced Amanda is the perfect mother, will Garrett realize she’s also his perfect match? (Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Hope’s Design by Dawn Kinzer — An independent city girl aspiring to be a fashion designer falls for a stubborn artist from the country who wants to keep his talent a secret. (Independently Published)

Brides of Wyoming by S. Dionne Moore — Roam the Wyoming range alongside three couples who meet under danger from bands of outlaws. Renee escapes a gang of outlaws and lands in the arms of a sheepherder. Olivia’s sleuthing upturns secrets key to solving the murder of a reluctant rancher’s father. Maira is trying to keep her ranch running alone when a drifting cowboy offers a hand. Can love develop where suspicion and greed roam the range? (Barbour Publishing)

The Negotiated Marriage by Christina Rich — When the railroad pushes to buy her land, orphaned Cameron Sims will do anything to keep the only home she and her sisters have ever known. Even if she must marry a stranger. Duncan Murray doesn’t want a wife. He wants Sims Creek, a sanctuary that can help him forget a troubled childhood. But his reluctant, and captivating, bride-to-be is key to making his dreams a reality. And despite their business arrangement, Camy and Duncan might be signing on the dotted line for true love… (Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Love in the Seams by Jodie Wolfe — A little girl on a quest for a new mama has the local seamstress in her sights. (Independently Published)

 

Speculative:

The Flaming Sword by Heather L.L. FitzGerald — When evil joins forces in the Tethered World, Sadie Larcen must risk all to protect the Flaming Sword and her family…even if it takes her life. (Mountain Brook Ink)


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Cover Reveal – It’s HERE!

curtain-1423196-1920x1280I’m can’t wait to share with you my very first published novel. COUNTER POINT will be available for preorder next month and releases in November. But today, I get to draw back the curtain on my cover – and I LOVE IT! Oh, I hope you do, too! Let me know what you think!

 

Introducing COUNTER POINT!