Miss Chartley’s Guided Tour ($13.95, 250 pp., ISBN: 978-1-60381-913-8) is Camel Press’s latest reprint of popular regency romances by Carla Kelly. First published in 1989, the novel features a gentlewoman of reduced circumstances whose luck changes when she helps an abused runaway.
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Carla Kelly is the recipient of two RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America for Best Regency of the Year; two Spur Awards from Western Writers of America; a Whitney Award for Best Romance Fiction, 2011; and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Romantic Times. Kelly’s Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand reprint was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the top 5 romances in 2012.
In coming months, Camel Press will also reprint Miss Billings Treads the Boards, With This Ring, Miss Milton Speaks her Mind, and McVinnie’s London Season. Camel will also be publishing Carla’s all-new Spanish Brand series. Book 1, The Double Cross, will be released on August 1, 2013.
Carla Kelly is particularly celebrated for her regency romances. The Romance Reader has called her “the Grandmistress of the [Regency] genre.” According to Romantic Times, “Carla Kelly’s Regency Romances are always superb and a timeless delight.” Wrote Library Journal has called her “one of the most respected Regency writers.”
“A milestone of originality,” wrote Romantic Times when Miss Chartley was first published. “Carla Kelly moves on to yet another triumph in this immensely appealing tale. Superlative.”
“All of Kelly’s characters shine, from her hero and heroine down to the smallest child,” wrote All About Romance.
To all appearances, Miss Omega Chartley is a schoolteacher on holiday. In fact she is a gentlewoman fallen on hard times, left at the altar eight years earlier and forced to make her own way in the world after the loss of her family fortune.
Omega’s modest tour of England is cut short when she comes to the aid of a runaway. Jamie Clevenden has fled the clutches of a brutal uncle, and Omega is determined to help him escape the law, as represented by Bow Street Runner, Mr. Timothy Platter.
Aided by a kindly war veteran and his adopted daughter, the two fugitives arrive at the home of Jamie’s other uncle, the Viscount of Byford—none other than Miss Chartley’s disgraced fiancé, Matthew Bering. There Miss Chartley will finally learn the secret that Lord Byford has hidden from her all these years, the story of a dark chapter in his past that stands in the way of not only their happiness but that of his nephew. Now they must face the truth together, no matter how dire the consequences.
“I wrote this book early in my Regency Romance career,” says Kelly, “and I’m delighted to see it in print again and ebook form. Since it came out so early, I suspect many of my readers haven’t had the pleasure of Omega Chartley’s company, as her simple trip to change jobs ends up involving a runaway, a Peninsular Wars veteran and a former fiancé. Nothing is simple in life, and that is even more true in a novel.”
A well-known veteran of the romance writing field, Carla Kelly is the author of twenty-nine novels and four non-fiction works, as well as numerous short stories and articles for various publications. Carla’s interest in historical fiction is a byproduct of her lifelong interest in history. She has a BA in Latin American History from Brigham Young University and an MA in Indian Wars History from University of Louisiana-Monroe.
Click here to find Carla online.
Keep reading for an excerpt:
She tried to think what to do. The only other recourse was to apply to Matthew Bering, Viscount Byford, for a loan. “Oh, God, I cannot,” she said.
“Cannot what, my dear?”
Omega jerked her hands away from her face and opened her eyes. Matthew was standing quietly in the doorway. He was dressed carefully in the elegance of a country gentleman again, stock neatly tied, coat smoothed across his shoulders without a wrinkle. He walked slowly to the other end of the table and sat down. “Cannot what?” he asked again when she did not seem disposed to reply.
There are moments when only the truth will do. “I cannot ask you for a loan to quit this place, Matthew,” she answered. “And I dare not tell Alpha my whereabouts, for he would surely challenge you to a duel. I hardly need scruple to describe the outcome of that to you, sir.”
Matthew considered her predicament. “If you cannot apply to me to bring you up to scratch, and you don’t want to risk Alpha’s health, whatever will you do?”
He was teasing her. There was a twinkle in his eye as he leaned back in the chair and regarded her. He was playing with her emotions like a musician with an instrument. How dare he? She rose to her feet slowly, horrified by the intensity of her rage. Had there been a pistol within easy reach, she would have shot him.
He saw the anger in her face. The twinkle left his eye and he sat up straight again. “That was unthinkable of me,” he said. “I have no business being unkind to you.” He waited a moment. “Oh, say something, Omega!”
She could think of nothing that would do justice to her feelings. There weren’t enough words in the language. She could only shake her head and hurry to the door, desperate to get belowstairs again.
There was another look in Matthew Bering’s eye that she couldn’t identify. A chill settled around her heart. She got to the door first and stepped into the hall in time to narrowly avoid Twinings, who was hurrying to the front door.
Hugh had returned. Thank God. That would be sufficient diversion to allow an escape. Besides, there was much to do belowstairs. Omega Chartley chose discretion over valor, and fled to the safety of the servants’ hall.
The Fallen Angels Book Club ($14.95, 264 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-917-6) is a mystery/suspense novel by new author R. Franklin James about a woman whose book club—supposedly composed entirely of white-collar criminals—may harbor a bona fide murderer.
The Fallen Angels Book Club is the first book in an exciting new mystery series featuring amateur sleuth Hollis Morgan.
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“Twists and turns keep this debut novel exciting to the surprising end.”
—Michele Drier, author of Edited for Death and The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles.
“R. Franklin James’ new book has everything a reader could ask for in a good mystery: intriguing plot, fascinating characters, and a few shockers thrown in along the way.”
—Shirley Kennedy, romance novelist
“Reading is murder in this must-read suspense novel filled with surprising twists and turns.”
—Cathi Stoler, author of mystery thriller, Telling Lies
“A fast paced plot with many twists coupled with a smart and determined protagonist make this a most enjoyable read.”
—Kathleen Delaney, author of the Ellen McKenzie real estate mysteries
The Fallen Angels Book Club has only two requirements: the members must love books and have a white-collar criminal record. Hollis Morgan fits the bill. Left holding the bag in an insurance fraud scheme concocted by her now ex-husband, she served her time and is trying to rebuild her life. All she wants is for the court to pardon her conviction so she can return to law school.
After one of her fellow members is murdered in a scenario straight out of a club selection, Hollis is once again the subject of police scrutiny. Refusing to get stuck with another bad rap, she sets out to investigate her fellow club members. Is one of them really blackmailing the others? As a second member dies in yet another book-inspired murder, Hollis realizes that time is running out. Everything rides on her finding the killer—not just her career aspirations. She must identify the killer before she herself becomes the next victim. Everyone is convinced she knows more than she lets on. But what is it, exactly, that is she supposed to know?
Says James, “My inspiration for the Hollis Morgan character originated with an online writing class. My fellow class members came from all over the world, from a variety of backgrounds and they included one sociopath. Only we didn’t know that until members started receiving email threats. Our instructor dropped him (or her) from the list, but I couldn’t shake the idea of a group of people coming together to share their art, only to be stalked or hounded by a greedy opportunist. I gave my group a secret—their criminal past—and the Fallen Angels were born.
R. Franklin James grew up in the San Francisco East Bay Area and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. She and her husband currently live in northern California. The Fallen Angels Book Club is her first novel and the first book in the Hollis Morgan Mystery series. Click here to find R. Franklin on the Web.
Keep reading for an excerpt:
I looked through the peephole and froze.
“Who is it?” I said, hoping to buy myself a couple of seconds.
“Ms. Morgan? It’s Detective Faber. I’m with Detective Lincoln. Can we speak to you for a few minutes?” His voice sounded loud and clear, even through the door.
Taking a deep breath, I let them in. “Why have you come back?”
They looked around with curiosity as if they’d never been here before. I guided them once more into the living room. I didn’t sit because I didn’t want them to. We all stood around the coffee table.
Faber took out that thin black notebook of his and flipped open a page. “Ms. Morgan, do you know a Rebecca Lynley?”
They had me. I knew my voice would have a tremble. “I think you already know the answer to that. Yes, I legally changed my name. Hollis is my middle name and Morgan is my maiden name.”
Rebecca Hollis Morgan Lynley was my unlucky name. It was the name that brought shame to me, my family and my friends. It was the name I was known by when I served time in prison. It was the name I acquired when I married that jerk. Rebecca Hollis Morgan Lynley. It was a name I never wanted to hear again, but here it was, turning up like a bad penny. For one insane moment, I wondered what was behind that bad penny saying. I knew how that penny felt.
Lincoln said, “I see. Well, we talked to your former parole officer and he spoke highly of you. Does your employer know of your record?”
Ah, a man after my own way of thinking. Straight to the point of pain. My heart raced. “The ones who need to know do. Why? Is there a reason you’re asking?”
Lincoln seemed to come to life. “I wondered if you checked the felon box on your job application.” His expression told me that he expected I had lied.
So that was it; he liked pulling wings off butterflies. He wanted me to squirm.
“Detectives, is there a reason why you’re here? I admitted I changed my name. I don’t know any more about Rory’s death now than I did when you were last here.”
“Morgan,” I insisted.
Faber gave me a condescending smile. “Okay, Ms. Morgan, we followed up on that book tip you gave us, linking it to the mode of Norris’ death. It was right on. Then we took things a little further, did a little research on the other members of the book club. You know what we discovered? A club of ex-felons.”
At that I had to sit. They followed suit.
My thoughts raced. “I know there’s a temptation to conclude that we’re plotting the downfall of the Western world, but all that we have in common—well, not all, I guess—is that we love books.”
“That so?” Faber’s lips were pursed just shy of a smirk. “Yet I would imagine all of you must live in fear of having your prison backgrounds exposed. A blackmailer would think he hit the lotto.”
Lincoln leaned over and picked a foil-wrapped chocolate out of the glass candy dish on the table. I tried to remember how long the candy had been there. One of the prison staff had given me a small box as a good luck gift. Could people die from eating candy three years past the “best by” date? He popped it in without noticing the thin whitish coating and grabbed for another.
I stared at the chocolates. “We don’t pry into each others’ pasts. That’s one of our rules. We only get together to share our opinions about books.”
Lincoln gave me a hard look. “We visited Mr. Norris’ apartment. We found canceled checks and bank statements that raise the possibility he might have been a blackmailer.” Lincoln chewed. “Was he blackmailing you?”
“Rory, a blackmailer?” I couldn’t stop my voice from trembling. “No. No. I’m not being blackmailed.”
“You didn’t know Norris was a blackmailer?” Faber asked.
“No,” I answered weakly. “I only knew him through the book club.”
“Yeah, so you said.” Faber flipped back a couple of pages in his notebook. “Mrs. Lynley—excuse me, Ms. Morgan—would you be surprised to know your husband’s name was in an address book we found in Mr. Norris’ apartment?”
The air fled my lungs as if I’d been punched. On top of that I thought my hearing must be impaired. “I’m sorry. Did you say Bill’s name was in Rory’s address book?”
“That’s right. How did they know each other?” Faber asked.
“Bill and Rory knew each other?” The words left my lips but sounded far away.
Faber leaned over to my side of the table. “Do you know where your husband is?”
“Ex-husband. I haven’t seen him since my trial.”
Only a half-lie.
To my relief, Lincoln pushed the candy dish away. “You haven’t had any contact with William Lynley since your conviction?”
I chose my words carefully. “We haven’t spoken since I was sentenced.”
Let’s try to maintain some integrity here.
I couldn’t tell if they believed me. They asked a few more questions about the club and then left with the promise to get back to me if they thought of anything else. Based on my last law enforcement encounter, I had a feeling their next step would be to obtain a search warrant.
I tossed the salad down the disposal and went out on the deck with my wine. I’d lost my appetite. The opposite of love isn’t hatred, it’s indifference. I was working on it, not every day, but as often as my sanity allowed. I was glad to feel almost nothing.
Nighttime was always the worst for me. Insomnia had become my companion. At night, I’d close my eyes, and the noises and smells from prison would assail me. A few months ago there was a special on TV about women in prison. I couldn’t watch it. Even though my cell was behind a door and not bars, I heard my fellow inmates crying and praying. It went on for hours on end. I could neither cry nor pray now.
I had to get a pardon. I’d do whatever it took. Rory’s unsolved murder could threaten my future dreams. I had to have another chance.
I had to.
Game Drive ($13.95, 222 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-961-9), is a cozy mystery by Marie Moore about a New York-based travel agent on a research trip for her agency who suspects foul play after a colleague is killed in a tragic accident. Game Drive is the second book in a series featuring amateur sleuth Sidney Marsh. This time Sidney’s travels take her to Cape Town, South Africa, and a private game lodge near the Kruger National Park.
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Both Shore Excursion and Game Drive have been specially chosen for inclusion on Holland America and Seabourn Cruise Lines onboard libraries.
“Marie Moore has scored another triumph with GAME DRIVE. Excellent!! It will keep the reader glued from the first page to the surprising ending.”
–Shelley Glodowski, MBR (Midwest Book Review) Bookwatch
“Moore’s safari mystery proves that humans are more dangerous than wild animals! Compelling and well-written.”
—Sarah Wisseman, author of the Lisa Donahue Archaeological Mysteries
“With a vividly picturesque landscape as the backdrop and surrounded by a great supporting cast, this safari mystery adventure is an amazing ride and I’m looking forward to their next expedition in this terrific series.”
—Dru’s Book Musings
Sidney Marsh is a Mississippi-born, New York-based travel agent. She and her best friend and business partner, Jay Wilson, are struggling to remain standing in a world where the ground is shifting. Their boss at Itchy Feet Travel has a new scheme to attract customers—safari tour packages. He sends Sidney and Jay on a familiarization trip to Cape Town and safari country to check out the accommodations and confirm that the experience lives up to the hype in the brochures.
Sidney looks forward to the deluxe trip and so does Jay, despite his deathly fear of animals, both wild and domesticated. Their experience will be far wilder than either could have imagined. First Sidney stumbles upon a suspicious rendezvous and possible murder scene in Cape Town. After Sidney’s pocket is picked on a cable-car ride up Table Mountain, she suspects that someone in their group is an imposter, a suspicion that is soon confirmed. At Leopard Dance—the luxury game lodge near Kruger National Park that serves as their base camp—one of the other agents on the “fam trip” turns up dead.
Sidney carries on a risky flirtation with a handsome Afrikaner, who may or may not be the latest manifestation of the “Marsh Curse,” which seems to jinx her every relationship. And Sidney and Jay discover that they have far more to fear from predatory humans than wild animals.
Says Moore, “As Sidney would tell you, the great advantage of working in the travel business is that you get to visit places you might not otherwise be able to afford. Africa is such a place. Africa has always held a fascination for travelers—the actual and armchair kind. After visiting Cape Town, I decided that it was where Sidney and Jay should go next. In my books I seek primarily to entertain, but at the same time to inform, in a small way, about the lot of God’s more vulnerable creatures. In Game Drive, Sidney is stirred by the systematic decimation of Africa’s rhino and elephant populations. Hundreds of these magnificent creatures are being slaughtered every year so that only a fraction of once great populations remain. And when those die out, we’ll be left with nothing but pictures of them, as with the dodo bird and the passenger pigeon.”
Marie Moore is a native Mississippian. She graduated from Ole Miss, married a lawyer in her hometown, taught junior high science, raised a family, and worked for a small weekly newspaper—first as a writer and later as Managing Editor. She wrote hard news, features and a weekly column, and won a couple of MS Press Association awards for her stories. In 1985, Marie left the newspaper to open a retail travel agency, which she managed for the next fifteen years. Both Shore Excursion and Game Drive were inspired by those experiences. Marie is a member of Sisters in Crime. She and her husband now live in Memphis, TN, and Holly Springs, MS. Click here to find Marie online.
Keep reading for an excerpt:
“Well, what do you think of South Africa, Sidney, now that you have left proper civilization behind in Cape Town?”
He took my arm and guided me down the steps and along the moonlit path.
My surprise at seeing him again and learning his identity had left me speechless.
“Is it as you expected?” he asked. “Do you like Leopard Dance?”
“I do, I really do. Very much. It is interesting, and so beautiful. I can see why you have chosen to live your life here.”
“Can you now?” he said, smiling, “I wonder. And how do you know how I live my life? You know nothing about me. We’ve only just met. Careful there, love, don’t trip.”
He pointed his light on a protruding root in the dirt path, then slipped an arm around my waist as if to guide me around it.
“Well. I don’t know how you l-live, of course,” I stammered, “I don’t really. I mean, I couldn’t, could I? But I think it must be wonderful to own and run a camp like this, even with all the danger from the animals.”
“It is very satisfying, that’s what it is. And danger is always exhilarating. Always. Life here may seem somewhat monotonous, once you have settled into our routine, but I can assure you that it is not. Much more goes on here than is apparent. There is far more to Africa than lions and tourist camps.”
Just then there was a rustle in the brush ahead. He stopped abruptly and pushed me behind him. Turning his light in the direction of the sound, he pulled a pistol from his coat pocket.
An antelope crossed the path on front of us. It paused to look at us for a long moment, and then bolted.
I didn’t move, staying where he had placed me behind him until the sound of the fleeing animal died away.
“You can come out now. It’s safe,” he laughed, turning to face me, slipping the gun back in his pocket and switching off the light.
“You look beautiful in the moonlight, Sidney, and just as frightened as that gazelle. Relax, lady. There is nothing to fear when you are with me.”
Isn’t there? I thought. I wonder.
“Come,” he said, putting his arm around my bare shoulders and guiding me on down the path. “Let’s just stop in at your hut and leave a note for Mr. Wilson. Then I will take you to my house, offer you a nightcap, and show you how one really lives in Africa.”
Yes! I thought. Oh, yeah.
But it was not to be. Not that night, anyway, because we were met at my door by Felix, with his big rifle.
“Henrik, there is trouble! You must come, come quick. They need you at the guard house.” He burst into a torrent of Bantu.
“Thank you Felix,” van der Brugge said in English. “I will be right with you. You go along now. Tell the others I am coming.”
He unlocked my door for me as Felix ran back down the path. Then he smiled as he said goodbye, with a twinkle in those green eyes of his.
“Ah, well, dear Sidney, it seems that work must come before pleasure. As you heard, there seems to be a bit of a problem that I must handle. Duty calls. Go inside now, and lock the door. Get some rest. We will have to postpone your tour of my house until another time. Sleep well, love.”
And with that he was gone, striding away into the darkness.
Game’s on … all bets are off.
Double Play ($15.95, 318 pp., ISBN: 978-1-60381-941-1) is the third book in Jen Estes’ mystery series featuring female sportswriter Cat McDaniel. Cat has relocated to Buffalo, New York, where she gradually realizes that her wastrel half-brother has become entangled in a gambling operation involving the team she reports for.
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“The Soldiers are going into the playoffs. Brother Quinn quickly ingratiates himself with enough of the team to invite them to Cat’s place for poker (she and Benji are asleep), and one of their stars falls (or is pushed) off her balcony. He isn’t killed, but the rest of his season is shot. Fans blame Cat, and then she is forced to investigate. The deeper she goes, the worse it gets. Greedy ballplayers, owners, gamesters, all abound. Brother Quinn seems to be in the middle. What’s a girl to do? As usual, Cat’s pluck and intelligence switch into gear for a thoroughly entertaining whodunit.”
–Shelley Glodowski, MBR Bookwatch
“This is a cozy with lots of baseball and a reminder of Pete Rose’s problem. If murder can leave you smiling, this one is for you.”
–Carolyn Lanier, I Love a Mystery
Double Play follows Curveball as Book 3 of the Cat McDaniel Mysteries, also known as the Foul Ball series. The series began with Big Leagues.
Team reporter Cat finally has her perfect lineup in Double Play. She’s reporting for the playoff-bound Buffalo Soldiers, she’s living large in a two-bedroom loft overlooking the Niagara River, and she’s sporting a diamond on her ring finger—nowhere as big as a baseball diamond, but big enough for her.
Just when Cat seems to be on top of her game, life throws her an off-speed pitch. A screwball clad in a leather jacket and biker boots—also known as her half-brother and full-leech, Quinn—shows up on her doorstep, or more accurately, her balcony. Her fiancé, Benji, although shocked to find out he has a future brother-in-law, welcomes the flighty Quinn, little knowing what havoc the man’s boozing and betting ways will wreak on their lives.
Soon after Quinn moves in, Cat’s team’s innings become his fat winnings. As the long shots turn into locks and hundreds turn into thousands, Cat’s curiosity steps up to the plate. Between the betting lines, she finds greedy gamesters, desperate ballplayers and an enterprising bookie looking to raise the stakes. Sometimes baseball isn’t just a game, it’s a matter of life or death.
Says Estes, “Gambling is the dirtiest word in baseball. Fans have overlooked performance enhancers, corked bats, juiced balls, illegal drugs, dogfights, cockfights and even a bizarre wife-swap back in the ’70s, but a professional athlete who wages on the game is shunned forever. As such, I couldn’t resist ‘taking a gamble’ on this unforgivable sports sin for my third book.”
Born and raised in Illinois, Jen Estes started her writing career as a baseball blogger in 2007 and expanded to freelance sports writing in 2009. She is an active member of the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR), Springfield Poets & Writers and the National Writers Union (NWU). When Jen isn’t writing, she enjoys running, yoga, traveling and watching baseball with her husband and cat. Click here to find Jen on the Web or go to her blog. Follow her on Twitter @jenestesdotcom.
Keep reading for an excerpt:
She didn’t know how long she’d been asleep when the scream tore through the dark bedroom and smacked her awake. Benji’s eyes snapped open, too. Simultaneously, they threw the comforter off and shot out to the hallway, hurrying into the living room. The remnants of the poker night were still visible, cards and beer bottles scattered over the table. The chairs were empty and her eyes darted to the balcony. The sliding glass door was wide open and a cold breeze blew through the room. The players all gathered near the edge.
Cat sprinted to the balcony. She breathed a momentary sigh of relief when she saw her brother in the corner, disguised by Benji’s spiraled boxwood topiary.
The telephone rang.
“That’s got to be Finley again,” Benji said, turning around to answer it.
Cat hopped out to the balcony, planting her feet on the coarse entry rug. It was still cold, but beat the bitter chill of the concrete. “What’s going on?”
Joel turned around and shoved past her, running into the kitchen. She heard him wretch and hoped he had made it to the sink.
Quinn, Damien Staats and Adam Alvarez were all peering over the balcony. Cat was filled with dread as she approached the ledge. “Guys?”
Where’s everybody else at?
Slowly, she began to recall the guests from earlier.
So’s Damien Staats.
So’s Adam Alvarez.
Joel Faulk’s in the kitchen.
Her stomach dropped.
“Oh my God, where’s Spencer?”
No one answered her. She cringed as she finally made it to the edge and followed their gazes to the ground.
Damien bounced on his heels and repeatedly shook his head. “Shit man, shit.”
A twisted body lay on the grass two stories down. It wasn’t Spencer. Her friend was short and this figure spanned two sidewalk lengths. She recognized his shaggy, dirty blond hair immediately.
Now she remembered him from earlier. The pitcher had sat on the loveseat, next to Adam. He’d made the “your mama” joke.
“Oh my God! Ryan? Ryan!”
He didn’t move.
Benji rushed to the balcony and looked over her shoulder. He gasped.
She pulled her hands away from her mouth. “We have to call nine-one-one.”
Benji nodded and ran to the phone.
She whirled around to the guys. “What the hell happened?”
Damien’s hands flew in the air defensively. “He … he ….”
Adam placed his hand on Damien’s shoulder. “He fell.”
Quinn nodded. “We were just having a smoke out here, shooting the shit and goofing around. Ryan leaned back and just … fell.”
Cat surveyed the railing. It was a concrete ledge but she pushed against it just to make sure it was sturdy. It was solid. “I don’t understand.”
Quinn shook his head. “Me, either. It happened so fast. He was leaning like this.” Quinn demonstrated by resting his hips on the edge. “He lost his footing and just tumbled back.”
Cat leaned over the side. “Ryan, can you hear me?”
His body still didn’t move. She pushed past Adam and ran out of the apartment. Her hand glided down the railing as she shot down the three flights of stairs. She sprinted across the grass. The blades felt like porcupine quills under her bare feet and the ground was cold and wet with frost. She reached his body and looked up at her lighted balcony. Quinn and the players were no longer there but she could see Benji pacing back and forth in the living room, the cordless phone pressed against his ear. She tore her eyes back to Ryan’s contorted body.
His arm was twisted behind his body like a cruller and his shoulder popped out like an extra glob of icing. “Ryan, it’s Cat McDaniel.”
Super-agent Kal Hakala and his team stand at the golden gates … of hell, with only a ghost of a chance to survive.
I Left My Haunt in San Francisco ($15.95, 298 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-868-1) is Book 3 of Mark Everett Stone’s popular urban fantasy series featuring a super-agent employed by the Bureau of Supernatural Investigation. Next up: Chicago, the Windigo City and Omaha Stakes.
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“Another high impact, fast moving story from Mark Everett Stone. I am really enjoying seeing his growth as a writer reflected in the strength of his characters and am looking forward to seeing what the future holds for Kal.” Read more …
—Michelle Herbert, Fantasy Book Review
“The third in a series, I Left My Haunt in San Francisco is lively and smart. It is packed with action and just enough goop and gore to please fans of the genre without turning away newcomers to this subset of modern fantasy demon-busting …. Stone’s book moves fast and reads quickly. It is well-written and nicely paced, with a few short rest stops built in to allow the reader to catch his breath, all to better appreciate the at-times purple but always entertaining prose …. It is just great, grand fun.” Read more …
—Mark McLaughlin, Foreword Digital Reviews
“Kal Hakala is at his finest, throwing out one liners and sarcasm like candy at the local town parade. There’s even some nifty new gadgets that would make Q green with envy. Stone concocts his tale with a generous helping of spells and weaponry, a dash of some familiar faces, a smidgen of new folks on the team, and tops it off with plenty of awesome battles with the Things That Go Bump in the Night …. A dish best read in one sitting because you won’t be able to put this one down.”
—Shay Fabro, award-winning author of the Portal of Destiny series
“The third episode of the Files of the BSI series is told with Mark Stone’s trademark tongue in cheek humor. It keeps you wanting more with each turn of the page, to not only uncover the mysteries of the story, but also to enjoy Kal’s quick but cynical wit.”
—CP Bialois, author of Call of Poseidon, The Sword and the Flame series, and Skeleton Key
Mark’s last book, The Judas Line, earned a starred review in Publishers Weekly, which wrote, “Stone’s depiction of magic is realistic and intelligent and his treatment of Catholicism refreshingly informed and three-dimensional. Even the obligatory near-apocalyptic ending is coherent, surprising, and exciting.” The Judas Line is currently a finalist for ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award in the Fantasy Category.
Fresh Fiction called The Judas Line, “A heavenly read …. simply brilliant.”
Books in Motion is producing audiobooks of Mark’s first two BSI novels, Things to Do in Denver When You’re Un-Dead and What Happens in Vegas, Dies in Vegas. Click here to order the audio version of Mark’s first book.
Mark’s first novel in the From the Files of the BSI series, Things to Do in Denver, won the second place Forward Literature Award for Humor and was one of seven titles nominated for ForeWord Magazine’s debut fiction award, ForeWord Firsts.
After avenging himself on the mythical monster that killed his sister, Kal Hakela is back at the Bureau of Supernatural Investigation. But, with only a few months left on his contract, he’s tempted to retire along with his new love, former MI-7 agent Jeanie.
When a friend and former BSI agent in San Francisco kills himself, he leaves Kal a clue, one he cannot ignore. The city is full of bad memories for Kal. In his last mission there, he killed a deranged serial rapist who used magic to murder his victims. Though successful, the mission resulted in unfortunate collateral damage, which earned Kal the enmity of San Francisco’s ghostly Supernatural protector.
With the fate of every human on Earth at stake, Kal and his team confront a slew of Supernatural perils, from giant insects to gargoyles. And they must complete their mission without the help of the BSI, its magical weaponry, and the superhuman power of Kal’s legendary rage.
Says Stone, “Whenever a book is part of a series, the author must worry about plot development. Too many series suffer from what I call ‘The Same Story Syndrome,’ where the books have basically the same plot, and only the names, places, and circumstances have changed. I try to bring a different feel to each book, introducing new elements and characters that will keep the reader guessing and the ongoing storyline fresh.”
Born in Helsinki, Finland, Mark Everett Stone arrived in the U.S. at a young age and promptly dove into the world of the fantastic. Starting at age seven with the Iliad and the Odyssey, he went on to consume every scrap of Norse Mythology he could get his grubby little paws on. At age thirteen he graduated to Tolkien and Heinlein, building up a book collection that soon rivaled the local public library’s. In college Mark majored in Journalism and minored in English. Mark lives in Denver with his wife, Brandie, and their two sons, Aeden and Gabriel. Click here to find Mark on the Web.
Keep reading for an excerpt:
“Boss,” Wilkes began. “What happened last time you were here? What was taken from Norton that he prized so much?”
Blood, black in the bright light of the full moon, splashed across the landscape of my memory. Last time in San Fran had been a dubious victory at best; we killed the bad guy and saved lives, but at the same time lost the heart of Joshua Norton.
“I’ll tell you later,” I muttered, the foul taste of the memory coating my tongue. Off to the right, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a young kid—perhaps thirteen, with long, stringy blond hair and a gray hoodie—pointing a stick. I saw a flash of mirrored sunglasses before the world went all jiggery.
Heat burned up my arm and the roof of the Suburban hit me in the face and torqued my head at a nearly impossible angle while the steering wheel hit me in the Misters. The cramping, grinding pain that shot through my crotch was a blunt message that my sex life would be curtailed for a while. A tail of yellow briefly flickered across my vision, accompanied by a strange crackling sound. Burnt pork assailed my nose. For some reason, everything was topsy-turvy and it slowly came to me that I hung upside down by my seat belt, which was odd but I couldn’t quite figure out why.
I tasted blood and burning plastic. A square of glass had invaded my mouth and spitting it out hurt like hell, but not as much as my left arm. What …? A body blocked my sight to the right, a big one. More blood filled my mouth and the universe spun on its axis. I felt the sudden urge to throw up. I wiped my eyes and realized that my left sleeve was on fire and the burning pork was ME! I smelled almost delicious but I couldn’t hear much because everything seemed to be muffled in a pad of cotton and when that cotton was suddenly ripped away, I could hear everything, a cacophony of harsh sounds—the blare of horns, the crackle and whoosh of fire, the jagged raw sound of metal slowly scraping asphalt. It all overwhelmed me and I could feel my eyes crossing in consternation.
Crunch, crunch, crunch …
The noise was close enough to draw my attention because for some reason the fire eating my arm didn’t hurt any more, but what was crunching my way with such slow, deliberate steps?
White high tops, Air Jordans, were all I could see of the person who calmly walked around the black SUV, rubber soles crackling the tiny bits of safety glass that were sprayed around the vehicle like a silicate web.
It hurt like a mother to twist my head around as the shoes made it to the driver’s side window and halted, the toes pointing straight at me. A black, bulky object lay next to my temple and I fumbled for it, driven by panic. Cool metal greeted my palm just as a face fronted by a pair of mirrored lenses peered in.
It was the kid, the kid with the stick, wearing gray sweatpants to match his/her gray hoodie. I couldn’t tell if the kid was male or female; its features were perfectly androgynous. Long blond hair that I had thought was stringy was instead silk-fine, hanging to an inch above the asphalt before fading into invisibility. The sight of that hair, the ends dangling into nothingness, sent a worm of fear gnawing at my gut and it wasn’t just the heat of my burning flesh that popped sweat on my forehead.
“A ghlacadh mé aon áthas seo,” he/she said in a high, fluting voice, full of music and chiming notes that brought a tingle to my ears. For some reason I thought of forest meadows and the taste of honey nectar. In contrast to the music of the kid’s voice, the face behind the mirrored shades was dispassionate, hard as mountain gutrock. “Ní hé seo an pearsanta, tá sé gnó.” That said, the kid raised his/her stick.
Something about that foot-long piece of wood struck me as the most terrifying thing I’d ever seen, not that it actually radiated menace or evil or had “One Stick to Rule Them All” inscribed on it in fiery runes. Terror seemed to be part of the reality that surrounded it and I did the only thing I could under the circumstances, I aimed Alex’s new invention (the object that had landed next to my skull) and pulled the trigger.
Oh crap. Again, I pulled the trigger.
The kid smiled, revealing slightly oversized and very white teeth, and aimed that damn stick at my face. I knew I was dead, that whatever magic that piece of wood held would blow my head apart like a melon hitting the highway. I closed my eyes, hoping it wouldn’t hurt.
Jackson Hole Journey ($15.95, 328 pp., ISBN: 978-1-60381-910-7), is an historical romance by Linda Jacobs. On a dude ranch plagued by natural disasters in the 1920’s, two brothers compete for the love of the same woman.
Linda Jacobs is the author of three other novels in the Yellowstone Series. She is a past recipient of the WILLA Literary Award and a SPUR Award finalist.
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JACKSON HOLE JOURNEY is distributed by EPICENTER PRESS/AFTERSHOCKS MEDIA. Booksellers and Libraries, please contact: email@example.com.
4 Stars: “Jacob’s latest installment of her Yellowstone series will have readers clamoring for the series’ other books in hopes of capturing more of the incredible detail that she incorporates in this particular novel. In addition to creating a vast and charismatic cast of characters, Jacobs accurately captures the story’s era and the Gros Ventre, Wyo. wilderness, adding to the already rich historical tone of this novel. Without a doubt, readers will forge a strong connection to some of the characters and find themselves rooting for William and Francesca. Fans of western novels will also enjoy this historical fiction installment.”
“Jackson Hole Journey is an entertaining mix of a character rich story of people in peril, in love, and in everyday life, and almost a travelogue about one of America’s most scenic places.” Read more ….
—Jane Bowers, Romance Reviews Today
“While the characters are bright and fascinating, the real star of JACKSON HOLE JOURNEY is the setting. At times it’s peaceful and other times chaotic but one thing’s for certain, you won’t be bored.” Read more ….
—Chrissy Dionne, Romance Junkies
“I enjoyed every word. Jacobs places the majestic Teton landscape before the reader in living color, and populates it with believable characters and a romantic story which never cloys. If you like a fast-moving story with adventure, history, love, and peril, try Jackson Hole Journey.” Read more …
–Historical Novel Society
“A vivid portrait of ranch life and a devastating natural disaster.”
—Lucia St. Clair Robson, Spur Award winning author of Ride the Wind
“A captivating page turner that lets us all know why Linda Jacobs is an award-winning writer.”
—Jane Kirkpatrick, bestselling author of An Absence so Great
Francesca di Paoli, a gifted yet penniless chef, arrives in Jackson Hole in 1925. Rescued by William Sutton, the “steady” son of a dude ranching family, she begins to feel safe, until the historic Gros Ventre landslide buries her and William alive. Though they survive, the uncertainty in the valley, as a new lake forms perilously behind the slide debris, parallels the uncertainty of Francesca’s fate.
William saves her again, finding her work in the Suttons’ ranch cookshack. There she meets William’s brother, Bryce, a charming wanderer. William and Bryce, already rivals for their parents’ approval, begin to vie for Francesca’s attention.
Over the next two years, valley ranchers clash over a Park Service proposal to extend Yellowstone Park south to Jackson Hole. Bryce comes and goes, taking a piece of his parents’ and Francesca’s heart with him each time. Yet, when the Sutton’s Nez Perce uncle comes to the ranch to die, it is Bryce who helps nurse the sick man. William has never accepted his Nez Perce heritage and his uncle’s arrival rakes up the ire of an unsavory contingent in the valley. Men like Dieter Gross, who disdain Native Americans and foreigners like Francesca, may well resort to violence if they discover the Sutton ranch’s black foreman is seeing a white woman.
Meanwhile the earth has not finished trembling, nor the river rising. When the flood waters retreat, who will be left standing?
Says Jacobs: “My personal love affair with the Yellowstone region began in 1973, when I attended geology field camp in Alpine, Wyoming, south of Jackson Hole. The first time I saw the Tetons rear their majestic heads seven thousand feet above the valley floor, I was hooked. I turned my geologist’s eye upon the 1925 Gros Ventre landslide and the subsequent 1927 flood which wiped out the town of Kelly, Wyoming, and Jackson Hole Journey was born.”
After thirty years as a professional geologist, Linda Jacobs attended Rice University’s novel writing program and never looked back. She has published three books in The Yellowstone Series and two romances under the name Christine Carroll. Although the Camel edition of Jackson Hole Journey is the novel’s first time in print, an audio version was a finalist in the 2011 Spur Awards. Married to fellow geologist Richard Jacobs, Linda divides her time between the West and the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Click here to find Linda her online.
Read on for an excerpt:
Past midnight, the wind came up and played a moaning dirge, making the big window shudder in its frame. Its keening cadence reminded Francesca of winter, when fierce gusts battered the cookshack.
Laura slept with her jaw slack. The irregular cadence of Cord’s snoring helped keep Francesca from nodding off.
She pulled out her rosary and murmured in Latin, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us now and at the hour of our deaths ….”
She found herself counting the seconds between Bitter Waters’s breaths. He would inhale, chest heaving, then his lips would seal. Ten, thirty, forty-five seconds—by the relentless ticking of the wall clock—until, with a panicked snort, his mouth gaped like a fish’s on the bank and he continued to live.
Hours passed and the clock wound down and stopped. Francesca stared at it and at Bitter Waters, but the cessation of the ticking had not marked his passing. Finally, the realization that she hoped each time he stopped breathing would be the last drove her from the room. Cord and Laura still slept.
Bryce lay on the sofa, his head pillowed on his arm. She touched his shoulder and for a moment, they looked into each other.
“My turn?” His voice sounded thick.
Francesca moved so he could swing his long frame around to sit up. He stabbed both hands into his hair and made the sleep-tousled mess worse. “How is he?”
Bryce put a sinewy hand on each thigh and pushed to his feet. “The suspense is killing us all,” he said in a husky voice. “God strike me dead for wishing it over, but what he has now is not a life.”
The living hell of slow suffocation, whether her father with fluid buildup in his lungs, or Bitter Waters’ .…
In the flickering light, the kitchen clock said it was nearly four. Less than an hour until summer’s dawn would paint a seam of silver gray above the Gros Ventre.
Bryce went in to Bitter Waters and she lay down. The leather on the couch was still warm. The door to the lean-to opened onto blackness …. The candle had burned out.
Shifting her position, she tried to ease the places where knives seemed to have been inserted beneath her shoulder blades. She moved her restless legs. Hunger pangs roiled, but she did not want any broth.
Giving up on sleep, she went to the fireplace, stirred the embers and added two logs.
From the lean-to, she heard a rasping breath, followed by silence. Her shoulders hunched, her bare toes curled on the chill stone in front of the hearth.
Without warning, a wave of relief washed through her.
She seized the lamp from its hook and ran to the lean-to. In the wedge of light across the bed, she made out Bryce, sprawled awkwardly on the straight chair, asleep. His extended hand covered Bitter Waters’s.
Cord and Laura also slept.
Francesca tiptoed to the bedside. Bitter Waters mouth hung open; he did not blink at the light.
Though she felt certain his soul had departed, she stood a minute, and another, giving Bryce and his parents a little longer to live in the time before Bitter Waters died.
Reunion ($16.95, 344 pp., ISBN: 978-1-60381-889-6), is an historical romance by New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Mary Daheim. Originally published in 1986 as Pride’s Captive, the novel begins at the outbreak of the American Civil War.
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Buy it in Kindle or in other eBook formats on Smashwords.
“A quintessential romantic novel with historical elements that will provide dramatic, engaging appeal, and a fun and whimsical read.” Read more ….
–Historical Novel Society
Serena Farrar’s world is on the brink of self-destruction. Determined to do her part to free the slaves, she dreams of joining the staff of her cousin’s newspaper in Springfield as a journalist. But the only way she can move to Massachusetts is to bow to her family’s wishes and marry sea captain Brant Parnell, in her mind a reckless fortune-hunter.
After Serena goes to work for the New Bedford Mercury, her hopes and dreams are quashed by an ugly scandal. Not even Brant can help or comfort her, for her coldness has sent him back to sea, feeling used and rejected. Serena’s only recourse is to flee to her sister’s home in New Bern, North Carolina. There, in the shadow of the growing conflict, she throws herself into her work on the local newspaper, still wondering why her passion for writing about truth and justice wasn’t enough.
When Brant arrives in New Bern, Serena begins to question everything she has lived for. As conflict engulfs the city, she struggles not only as a Yankee in enemy territory, but as a woman who was born to love and be loved. From the primeval forests of Maine to the lush Inner Banks of North Carolina, Serena and Brant discover that love trumps the worst of human follies.
Says Daheim, “Although my primary field was European History, I knew more about the American Civil War than your average turnip, having taken three American history courses from Prof. Tom Pressly at the University of Washington …. But I wanted more than background. I needed something personal. By chance, a close friend had moved to New Bern, North Carolina. Her father knew a great deal of the Civil War. Thus, I had my setting. Now I needed a protagonist. Being a native Seattleite, I couldn’t quite get the mind-set of a Southern belle. My heroine had to be a transplanted Yankee, and to make her every-day world even closer to my own, a journalist. Thus, Serena Farrar emerged out of my typewriter and onto the pages of the book that was originally titled Pride’s Captive.”
Seattle native Mary Richardson Daheim lives three miles from the house where she was raised. Upon getting her journalism degree from the University of Washington, she went to work for a newspaper in Anacortes, Washington. She married David Daheim and moved to Port Angeles where she became a reporter for the local daily. Both tours of small-town duty gave her the background for the Alpine/Emma Lord series. Mary spent much of her non-fiction career in public relations. She began her career as a novelist with seven historical romances before switching to mysteries in 1991. She has published at least 55 novels. Mary’s husband David died in February, 2010; they had been married for more than 43 years. They have three daughters, Barbara, Katherine and Magdalen, and two granddaughters, Maisy and Clara. For more information, click here.
Read on for an excerpt:
She too had gotten up from her chair, trying to regain her dignity and poise, but aware that her voice and legs were both unsteady. “I’m not demeaning what other people do, I just feel that if a person has been given certain talents, they ought to be used. And used as fully as possible. I can’t imagine, as a writer, writing only for an audience of one.”
“Somehow, I wasn’t thinking of writing.” The bemused look had returned to Brant’s craggy face. He stood very close to Serena, and the sheen of his satin waistcoat seemed overly bright. It also seemed to match his eyes. “In terms of us,” he went on, putting his hand under her chin, “I was thinking of something else. You wanted me to kiss you that day in Livermore Falls, didn’t you?”
Again, denial sprang to Serena’s lips. But she didn’t want to lie to Brant, nor did she need to when the truth was so self-absolving. “I was somewhat … tipsy.”
“Being ‘tipsy,’ as you so quaintly call it, is always a wonderful excuse for acquiring the courage to do precisely what we want to do but under more sober circumstances would exercise rigid—if foolish—self-restraint.” He tipped her chin up to his face. “You’re quite sober now, Serena. Can you honestly say you don’t want me to kiss you?”
He was so close, so confident, so in control, despite his apparent easygoing manner. And she still had never been kissed, had no thrilling secrets to write to Cecelia or whisper to Abigail. One kiss from Brant would give her ample ammunition to regale them both with titillating feminine confidences. On the other hand, it might encourage Brant to continue his suit.
“You may kiss me. Once.” Serena closed her eyes and waited for the inevitable. It seemed to take a considerable amount of time for Brant to make up his mind, she thought with some impatience. Perhaps he was an honorable man. Was it possible that her father had coerced Brant Parnell into calling upon her? Was Brant faced with poverty because his whaling days were over? Was he actually to be pitied rather than condemned?
She opened her eyes just as Brant’s mouth came down crushingly on hers, nipping her lower lip with his teeth, pressing her against him until she could no longer breathe. Serena felt his tongue delving into the recesses of her mouth, sensed the brute strength of him straining against her body, wondered if this were the proper moment to faint or merely to be outraged.
And then she wondered nothing at all, dazed with the ferocity of his kiss, reeling from the intensity of his embrace. It was not at all like the gauzy passages of the popular monthly women’s magazines or even the more tempestuous novels she had read without her mother’s knowledge or approval.
When Brant finally released her, she was caught off-balance and collapsed onto the wing-backed armchair. “So now we’ve kissed,” Brant remarked idly and glanced at his watch, which hung on a plain gold chain. “Do you want to discuss our future together or shall I be off to ready myself for the poker game at the Tontine Hotel?”
Miss Whittier Makes a List ($14.95, 252 pp., ISBN: 978-1-60381-897-1), is a reprint of a regency romance by “the Grandmistress of the [Regency] genre,” (Romantic Reader) Carla Kelly.
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** Also available in Kindle and other eBook formats on Smashwords **
Ms. Kelly is the recipient of two RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America for Best Regency of the Year; two Spur Awards from Western Writers of America; a Whitney Award for Best Romance Fiction, 2011; and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Romantic Times.
“I wish I had the words to really give the flavor of this remarkable novel. I can start by saying that I had a smile on my face almost through the whole of it. Hannah is the most delightful creature who never hesitates to speak her mind. The captain is stern and reserved, and while no one could honestly call him a softy beneath it all, we begin to see the whole man …. Even with a suspenseful plot, MISS WHITTIER MAKES A LIST is a fun book. Many minor characters add entertainment and sympathy to the whole. I highly recommend this lovely tale to you.” Read more ….
–Jane Bowers, Romance Reviews Today
“Everyone, go out and buy Miss Whittier Makes a List. Right now …. Ms. Kelly always brings an extraordinary magic to both the prosaic and the unusual.” Read more …
–Jean Wan, All About Romance
“Regency fans who like superior, well-written romances and the Age of Sail will enjoy this book. This reprint from 1994 by a multi-published, award-winning author will be a treat for those who have not already read it.” Read more …
–Historical Novel Society
First published in 1994, this shipboard romance takes place thirty years after the U.S. Revolutionary War, when England was fighting a world war with Napoleon’s France, and the neutral United States was at cross-purposes with both.
In coming months, Camel Press will also reprint Miss Chartley’s Guided Tour and Miss Billings Treads the Boards. Camel will also be publishing Carla’s new series called The Spanish Brand. Book 1, The Double Cross, will be released in August of 2013.
“Carla Kelly’s Regency Romances are always superb and a timeless delight.”
In the early 1800s, seventeen-year-old Hannah Whittier is traveling by ship down the coast from her Quaker home in Massachusetts to her brother’s house in Charleston, South Carolina. To while away the dull hours, Hannah composes a list of qualities she wants in a husband. Boredom will soon be the least of her worries.
First the Molly Claridge is boarded by the British frigate, H.M.S. Dissuade, and forced to turn over any supposed Englishmen. Later the American vessel is blown out of the water by a French man o’war. After a long, harrowing day clinging to a grate and battered by the sun, Hannah is fished out of the water by the Dissuade and forced to sail toward England with the British crew and its imperious yet devilishly handsome captain, Sir Daniel Spark.
Proper young Quakeress Hannah locks horns with salty Captain Spark, who expects her to carry her weight by helping their cook and keeping watch. The captain has none of the qualities on Hannah’s list, so why is she so drawn to him? Could it be that loyalty and valor are more important than mild manners and patience? Hannah learns that Captain Spark has fought valiantly in England’s naval battles against France, and she sympathizes with his weariness in the face of so much death and destruction.
Captain Spark in turn values Hannah’s lively spirit and positive attitude. And, despite her tanned skin and cabin boy attire, Hannah presents quite a temptation to the captain who has been too long at sea. Now, if only they can make it to England in one piece ….
As for what inspired Miss Whittier, Kelly says, “I had been going through a ragged stack of my children’s old books, and came across one about Quakers. Hmm, I thought, what would be the absolute polar opposite of a gently reared, New England Quaker lady? Well, a British sea captain too long on the ocean, of course!” Although Miss Whittier and the Captain find true love in the end, they endure a number of trials and tribulations along the way. Says Kelly, “I’ve never seen any point in making life easy for my fictional characters. World war played a huge and terrible role in the early nineteenth century. England fought alone against France, and Royal Navy frigate commanders were the equivalent of World War II submariners, stalking their prey with one goal alone: to keep England safe. On an innocent trip from Nantucket to South Carolina, Hannah Whittier becomes another victim of this cruel warfare.”
A well-known veteran of the romance writing field, Carla Kelly is the author of twenty-six novels and three non-fiction works, as well as numerous short stories and articles for various publications. Carla’s interest in historical fiction is a byproduct of her lifelong interest in history. She has a BA in Latin American History from Brigham Young University and an MA in Indian Wars History from University of Louisiana-Monroe.
Click here to find Carla online.
Read on for an excerpt:
The impressed seamen were quickly bundled over the side and hauled up onto the other deck. Captain Winslow dropped to his knees and wept, his head in his hands. It was more than Hannah could bear. She jumped up again and ran to the British captain, who waited to reboard his vessel. She grabbed his arms and tried to pull him around.
“Thee cannot do this! Have we no rights?” She tugged his arm, but he was anchored fast to the deck and would not budge.
“You have no rights,” he said quietly. “None whatsoever. You belong to an impertinent nation that will soon be a failed experiment. Let go of my arm.”
She did as he said and wiped her streaming eyes with her sleeve. “I wish thee to hell, sir,” she said, her voice as quiet as his and more fierce.
“Well I won’t go, Miss Spitfire,” he replied.
To her utter amazement, he grabbed her by the mass of hair on the back of her neck, hauled her close, picked her up, and kissed her. Her feet dangled off the deck and she grabbed onto him to take the pain off her hair, while he kissed her once, and then again more thoroughly. She clung to him, her head on fire, and tried to speak, even as he kissed her a third time, completely in command of the situation. Wild-eyed with fury, she stared at him, noting even in her rage how improbably long his eyelashes were. His eyes were closed, and he seemed to be enjoying himself immensely.
And then it was over. He set her back on the deck and released her hair. “I haven’t had that pleasure in two years,” he said softly. He stepped aside quickly in case she should strike out. “May I add that you needn’t improve upon a fine thing?”
He sprang to the railing, his arm draped gracefully in the rigging to maintain his balance, and then leaped across the space between the ships as his men laughed and cheered.
“Release the grappling hooks,” he ordered, and then looked at his first mate, who wiped tears of laughter from his eyes. “Wear the ship, Mr. Lansing, lively now.”
As she watched in total humiliation and stunning fury, the sailors on the opposite ship grinned at her and released the grapples from the Molly’s mutilated railing. The vessels moved apart quickly.
In Dial “M” for Murdock ($14.95, 286 pp., ISBN: 978-1-60381-885-8), by Robert J. Ray, private-eye Matt Murdock investigates a series of deaths involving debt-ridden businessmen who have been living suspiciously high on the hog. Originally published in 1988, Dial “M” is Ray’s third Matt Murdock Murder Mystery. Camel Press has brought all five books in the series back into print and will be releasing an all-new title, Murdock Tackles Taos, in 2013. For more information about the entire series, click here.
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“Ray’s well-wrought consideration of what can happen to those overtaken by ‘greedy little-boy dreams’ will leave readers eager for the next Murdock adventure.”
“Fast, accomplished and slick.”
Crusty but softhearted Matt Murdock is a damn fine private-eye, but being his client has its hazards. Especially when you’re not straight with him.
Insurance investigator Bruce Halliburton hires his old army buddy to check into what he suspects is a faked death and winds up on LA’s Huntington Beach, dead for real. That leaves Roxanne, the lovely widow Bruce was “protecting”—the same Roxanne whose chubby husband, Emiliano Mendez-Madrid, died of a heart attack after insuring his life ten times over.
How is Roxanne Mendez-Madrid connected to Claude Belker, the subject of Bruce’s investigation? Claude is also officially “deceased,” and he’s one of several heavily insured, supposedly dead rich guys. Then there’s Claude’s girlfriend—Mary-Sue, aka Sheena, a glossy exotic dancer …. Who knows what about the case? What’s Roxanne up to? And where are Emiliano’s missing millions, the spoils of money-laundering for drug lords?
Roxanne hires Matt to find the money and keep her safe. Now he smells trouble. If he falls too hard for the widow and connects all the dots, he might just end up decorated with a line of lead like his old pal Bruce.
ROBERT J. RAY is the author of eight novels: Cage of Mirrors, The Heart of the Game, Bloody Murdock, Murdock for Hire, The Hitman Cometh, Dial “M” for Murdock, Murdock Cracks Ice, and Merry Christmas, Murdock. Ray is also the author of a popular non-fiction series on writing, The Weekend Novelist, and he shares writing techniques on writing at BobandJacksWritingBlog.com. A native of Texas, Ray holds a PhD from the University of Texas, Austin. Tuesdays and Fridays, he writes at Louisa’s Bakery and Café in Seattle.
Read on for an excerpt:
“Where are you, Bruce? Where are you calling from?”
Bruce sighed. “All right. There are some bits and pieces I haven’t told you. Look. Let’s schedule a meet tomorrow morning. I’ll ring you when I’m free. I’ll buy your breakfast and fill you in. Deal?”
“Why not tonight?”
“Sorry. I’m otherwise … ah … occupied. Hope you understand.”
A woman. How nice for Bruce. “Okay. What time tomorrow?”
“Ten or so. I’ll just dial ‘M’ for Murdock.” He chuckled. “Now, how about those numbers on the little dancer?”
“Tomorrow, Bruce.” I hung up. Bruce was jerking me around and I knew what that meant. His need for Murdock was finished.
After hanging up, I stared at the television as the zany weatherman reported on the force of a small tidal wave in Alaska. I like weathermen. They’re crazy. They get glee out of nature. Honest rip-roaring glee. Maybe I should have been a weatherman. There was one swallow of Bud left. I finished that on my way to the fridge for another can. Bruce’s gin bottle sat on the top shelf, keeping cool, waiting for the next dry martini. I popped open the Bud and stood leaning against the island, staring at the television, thinking about Bruce.
Superagent Bruce Halliburton was the original Golden Boy—East Coast upbringing, Harvard degree, Navy career, a decade hanging out in the marble halls of government in Washington, D.C., coat and tie required—and now he was working the marble halls at Heartland Mutual and still wearing his coat and tie. He’d hired me to poke around in the life of Claude Belker. Move fast, he’d said, and save the company millions. I’d uncovered a girl friend, bikers, boots, some poker cronies, a mountain hideaway with the power still on. I smelled a conspiracy. Leads were piling up, begging to be tracked down, but Bruce wasn’t eager for me to do the follow-ups on Mendez-Madrid and the poker crowd.
The phone dragged me out of a dream about a muddy brown river crowded with crocodiles. On the bank of the river people were waiting in line to board a barge. A gong sounded each time someone boarded. Bong. The mallet was swung by a bald-headed monk wearing a white cassock. When I moved in for a close-up of the next man waiting to board, I saw he wore a white death mask.
I fumbled with the receiver, one foot still locked in the dream. My bedside clock said 6:48. The light outside my window was dark gray. I was up on one elbow, and my ribcage was sore from being on the receiving end of the geek’s chain.
“Mr. Murdock?” It was a woman’s voice, soft, liquid, and low.
“I’m a … friend of … Bruce Halliburton.”
I rolled over to lie on my back. “Wonderful.”
“He said to phone you if he didn’t get back by six-thirty.”
I checked the clock again. 6:49. “Why don’t we give him another ten?”
There was a pause. “I woke you up, didn’t I?”
“Yes.” I still didn’t know her name or her connection to Bruce. Was she the voice in the background?
“I got … nervous. When he didn’t get back, I mean.”
“Where did he go?”
“To meet someone.”
“Just before five.”
In the back of my head a tiny alarm sounded. “Do you have any idea where the meeting was?”
“Somewhere on the beach. When he left, he told me he would be back by six-thirty. If he didn’t get back, I was to call you.”
Originally published in 1989, Merry Christmas, Murdock ($14.95, 282 pp, ISBN: 978-1-60381-923-7) is Book 4 of Robert J. Ray’s Matt Murdock Murder Mystery series and an entertaining read at any time of year.
** Click the cover image to order online or buy it at your favorite bookstore.**
**Order it on Kindle or Nook or in other eBook formats on Smashwords**
“Riveting. Private-eye Murdock is a sophisticated Mike Hammer, and Ray writes with the sardonic wit of a Mickey Spillane mixed with the insight of a Parker.”
—Tribune, South Bend, Indiana
“The reading experience is immensely pleasurable …. Some of the turns of phrase in Merry Christmas are irresistible, the kind one wants to read more than once.”
—The Register, Orange County California
“Merry Christmas Murdock delivers a knockout punch. It comes wrapped in action and violence. But inside its rough
exterior there is warmth and humor. Much like the hardboiled detective whose story it tells.”
—The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Mississippi
“It’s nicer still when there’s a decent yarn to spin, decently told, and this latest of the Matt Murdock capers is better than
decent. The opening chapters are compelling …. This is an easy, unpretentious read. And Murdock is really awfully nice
to be around.”
—The Drood Review of Mystery
“It’s a fast-moving, what-will-we-find-out-next story, with some likable characters and some you love to hate.”
—Chronicle, Houston, Texas
“What a find author Robert J. Ray is …. Perhaps best of all, Mr. Ray has the rare ability to build tension bit by bit
by bit and keep much of this throughout the last two-thirds of the book, almost without pause …. A crackerjack piece of
plotting and writing and unhesitatingly recommended.”
“The style is punchy, the fast talk is zippy and the final shoot-out a honey …. I’ll be on the lookout for Robert Ray’s
Matt Murdock in the future.”
“I liked the action-packed story line, the resiliency of the hero and the nifty, lucid prose.”
—Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, MA
Christmastime is here, and weary-but-wise private-eye Matt Murdock is short on funds and holiday spirit. There are no white Christmases in Newport Beach, California, but there are soggy ones. One rainy evening at the Xanadu Mall, a down-on-his-luck mystery writer named Marvin Holly meets a runaway teenager and autographs her book. As they exit the mall, they encounter the headlights of a speeding car. In the aftermath the author is missing and the girl is in a coma.
On an earlier case, Murdock befriended a precocious teenager named Cindy. Cindy is the product of a broken home, a very wealthy one, and her people would rather break Murdock’s face than accept his help finding out what happened to her biological father—the missing author from Xanadu mall. Meanwhile Murdock has been hired to find out why Heather, the daughter of a sexy but tightly wound senator named Jane Blasingame, was injured in a hit-and-run. Is she the teenager last seen with Cindy’s father? And was Heather really a member of the notorious San Diego gang, a group of wholesome looking youngsters who prey on unsuspecting salesmen?
Cindy’s mother and the fabulously wealthy Duke family—the clan of Cindy’s uncle—were not fans of Marvin Holly’s work … or the man himself. They certainly don’t want Murdock to locate him. How are Holly’s disappearance and the hit-and-run connected? Will the lovely senator fall for Murdock’s rugged charms? If the holidays don’t kill Murdock then this case will.
ROBERT J. RAY is the author of eight novels: Cage of Mirrors, The Heart of the Game, Bloody Murdock, Murdock for Hire, Dial “M” for Murdock, Merry Christmas, Murdock and Murdock Cracks Ice. A sixth Matt Murdock mystery—Murdock Tackles Taos—will be published in 2013. Ray is also the author of a popular non-fiction series on writing, The Weekend Novelist, and he shares writing techniques on writing at bobandjackswritingblog.com. A native of Texas, Ray holds a PhD from the University of Texas, Austin. Tuesdays and Fridays, he writes at Louisa’s Bakery and Café in Seattle. For more information, click here.
Read on for an excerpt:
My answering machine clicked on, the red light winking like a gnat’s eyeball. I poured in the beef stock and set the fire on simmer and turned down the volume under Callas and sipped red wine while I waited for the message. Some old flame, I thought, happily married, inviting me over for a chummy family Xmas. Or some Scrooge of a bill collector, grousing at me to pay up or else. Or maybe a rich client. Merry Christmas, Murdock.
“Lancelot,” said the voice of Wally St. Moritz. “Wally here. Are you monitoring, dear boy?”
I picked up the phone, heard that hollow echo of the recorder bouncing back at me. “Hey, Professor. I’m on. Where are you?”
“El Toro General.”
“Ten days too early for your annual blues,” I said. “So they must be treating your tennis elbow.”
“Ho-ho-ho, as Santa says to greedy little mall monsters. Can you motor down here? I think I’ve unearthed a client.”
“One with money?”
“And trouble.” Wally paused. “All it needs is your presence. Your inimitable persuasive powers.”
I stirred the soup. “Who’s the client?”
“A state senator from Texas, with a wounded child, who is most impatient with local police procedure.”
“I identify with the impatient part. What kind of wound?”
“Ouch. Where’d it happen?”
“Xanadu Mall, in the parking lot.”
“Last evening, nineish.”
It hadn’t been big enough to make the evening news. “Xanadu’s in the sheriff’s jurisdiction. What are they doing?”
“Not much. That’s why I’m calling you.”
“Does the senator know? Or is this your idea?”
“The Senator became interested when I explained you knew people on the inside.”
“Used to know.”
Wally sighed. “Be resourceful, Matthew. I assured the Senator you could help.”
It didn’t feel holiday hopeful. Josh McBride, my deputy pal inside the sheriff’s office, had retired to Idaho, where he was running a fishing camp for the tourists. The deputies I’d met on the street were aging jock hotdogs who still hugged dreams about making the jump into pro ball.
I eyed my soup and took another sip of wine. Inside, it was warm and toasty. Outside, it was nasty, cold, and wet. Problem: I needed the work. I’d had a gritty six days in San Diego, doing reference checks for Tritonics, Inc., a software company that was hiring a vice-president for marketing at a base salary of $120,000, plus perks and fringes. Out of four candidates, three had come up dirty as Hell’s Angels at an Oakland beer bust. The dirtiest had been handpicked by the Tritonics comptroller, a tightass named Binder, who was busily seeding his little dukedom with fawning supporters. Tritonics owed me two grand for my work, but since checks had to be signed by Binder, it would be Easter before I saw the money. Meanwhile, I had $104 in the checking account and Christmas was closing fast.
Would the Senator be my Santa?