LAST DAYS, New Release ~ in nutshell capsule & read First Chapter.

A palm tree beach

LAST DAYS ~ In a nutshell…

A spry elderly woman has died mysteriously in a Florida coastal town, and the head of a clandestine organization in Washington D.C is interested in the case. All evidence, or lack thereof, points to accidental death, but Detective Katerina “Kat” Andruko has nagging doubts. She also has doubts about a mysterious phone call profiler Dimitri Garmonin, PhD, her intended, took and hid from her. ~~  As if that wasn’t enough, Kat’s former fiancé and fellow law enforcement officer gleefully taunts her, predicting the demise of her relationship with Dimitri. Her future mother-in-law thinks she’s less than demure and not suitable marriage material for her son. ~~  Meanwhile, all leads on the elderly woman’s death go nowhere. Old enemies at the local TV station are calling the police incompetent. They air an unfavorable segment about Dimitri. Just as Kat and Dimitri reluctantly begin to believe the death was accidental, the woman’s neighbor goes missing.  [Cover Reveal To Come]

Chapter One

 Pelican Beach, Florida ~ Mid-March

Det. Katerina “Kat” Andruko

 I had to confront Dimitri. If he was serious about making a total commitment to share his life with me, there couldn’t be secrets.

I took the antique pierced earrings he had given me at Thanksgiving out of my jewelry box. Lovely. Alexandrite set in rose gold. They had belonged to his grandmother. Recalling that moment, I still got a magical rush. With this gift, handcrafted nearly a century ago in St. Petersburg, we’d taken a step into a deeper relationship.

Mere moments after giving me the earrings, Dimitri’s phone rang. He turned his back on me and informed the other party I was in the room. The enchanting romance of the moment evaporated, but I let it go. It was Thanksgiving. My sister and her chef Nick Anastos had closed the restaurant and prepared a feast fit for royalty, a family tradition my Larissa proudly kept going. She and Nick ran the Andruko Chophouse, the restaurant my parents started. She, Mari, and I lived in the upstairs apartment. 

A knock on my bedroom door jolted me to the present. “Come in.”

The twerp stuck her head in, or should I call her Your Royal Highness Emo-Princess Mari? Her BFF had recently chopped my niece’s lush brunette hair into an uneven chin-length do, if you could call it that. I thought my sister was going to have a cow when she first saw it. The entire head of hair was now dyed purple.  “Hey, what’s up? You going out?”

“I wasn’t planning on it. I’m not on the schedule for a shift today.”

“Oh, thought maybe you were cause you’re holding those fancy earrings. Thought you might have big plans with Dimitri.” She drew out each syllable of his name and offered a self-conscious grin.

“No plans.” I shrugged.

“Mom brought fresh-baked baklava up from the restaurant that Nick just made. Want some?”

“You bet. I’ll be out in a minute.”

“If you don’t hurry, I’ll eat them all. Fair warning.” The door slammed behind her.

I took a last, long look at the earrings, and placed them back inside the jewelry box, then sighed. The holidays had been a whirlwind of merriment, rejoicing, and romance. I’d given Dimitri ample opportunity to explain that mysterious phone call. I’d even tossed out a few leading questions.

“Which he dodged.” Whoa, I surprised myself by stamping my foot as the words blurted out.

Even though it bothered me, I hadn’t found the right time to pin him down. His mother came from New York for Christmas and New Year’s. She was polite as could be but hovered over him displaying etiquette that could only be described as old world.

Then he announced he had a special Valentine’s Day planned. He brought a dozen pink roses and a box of chocolates to the apartment. But that wasn’t the special part. He whisked me away to a Cooking Class for Lovers at the Pelican Beach Hospitality Institute. Along with three other couples, we prepared a fine French meal. It was served to us by a few of their full-time students acting as waiters. And now his birthday was approaching. There would always be something. I had to do what I had to do.

I sighed again and hustled into the kitchen. Mari hadn’t been kidding. She sat at the table, stuffing her face with the honeyed confections.

“Save at least one piece for me.”

She half-stood pushing out her chair. It screeched against the floor as she swallowed the last morsel and licked her fingers. “I gotta go. I’m meeting Ashley.” With that, she rushed out the door. Her sneakers pounded down wooden steps leading to the back door of the restaurant and reserved spaces for family and employees in the parking lot.

Larissa turned from the sink where she’d been washing dishes. “Her behavior has been so much better since the holidays.”

“I don’t want to cast blame, but without Carla’s influence, she and Ashley have grown up a bit in the responsibility department.” Carla had been one of Mari’s closest friends who had not set a good example. She’d been murdered by a serial killer the previous fall.

Larissa dried her hands. “Have you gotten all the arrangements finalized with Mackey for Dimitri’s birthday party?”

“I better have. It’s in three weeks.” I took a quick bite of baklava to hide the frown about to overtake my face.

“And Chef Hote has the menu?”

“Yup.” I took another bite and glanced away from her.

“Did you place a birthday cake order with that Christian baker we want to give business to?” She took a step toward me.

“Yeah, she closed her shop and is running the business from her house. I understand it’s going well for her.”

Larissa nodded once, slowly. “You’ve got the party room booked, decided on a menu, ordered the cake. So, what’s wrong?”

I backed toward the door, grabbed my beige bomber jacket off the pegged coat rack on the wall. “Nothing’s wrong.” With that, I shot out, closed the door behind me, and rushed down the stairs.

Larissa yelled after me, “Now you’re acting like your niece, and that’s not good.”

I climbed into my lightning-blue Ford Fusion, my pride and joy, and sat there for a moment. My heart pounded, and it wasn’t from having run down the steps. If I confronted Dimitri, would it end our relationship just as it was about to begin?

I took a circuitous route to his beach house, wending my way through side streets, as my thoughts roamed to a few not very cozy places. Finally, I pulled into his drive. The house sat across the street from the ocean upon ten-foot-high cinder block pillars. This was to protect it from the highest storm surge after a violent hurricane. I drove under the structure, into his personal carport, and parked next to his white Chevy Tahoe.

I climbed the twenty-five steps to his small porch and front door. I’d counted them more than once. When my heart rate lowered, I rang the bell.

Dimitri answered, wearing a pair of cut-offs and a worn tee. He was barefoot. “Hey, my love, I just made coffee. Want some?” His voice had a slight Russian accent which I found alluring. After he closed the door, he kissed me lightly on the corner of my mouth.

Now, how do I get past that and deliver a one-two-punch ultimatum? Maybe I’d better soften it a bit. I brushed my cheek against his and murmured, “Love you, too, and I’d love a cup.”

The serving and sipping of coffee would give me time to organize my thoughts. I sat and tried to make myself comfortable on the cushioned couch in the open-concept great room.

He brought out two mismatched mugs. One was a Florida Gator’s mug– orange with a gator’s green head on it. The other said: Profilers Do It With Good Behavior. He’d gotten that one via Secret Santa at the department’s Christmas party. The consensus of opinion was Detective. Danny Lee had given it as a gag-gift. Lee shrugged and said, “If you knew, it wouldn’t be Secret Santa, would it?”

Dimitri and I both took our coffee the same way, with a splash of milk, or black on the job if that’s all that was available. I leaned forward, took the profilers cup, and took a sip. “Good coffee, as usual.”

He sat next to me on the couch. “I got it at the Surfside Motel. They started serving their guests Jamaican Blue Mountain roast and are also offering it for sale. I ran over and bought a bag. I get whole beans because, as you know, my favorite part is the coffee maker’s grind-and-brew feature.”

I cleared my throat and shifted my position so my back was straighter. “Dimitri, I want to talk to you about something.”

He was about to take another sip but stopped. “I see.”

I launched right into it and told him I was disturbed about the mystery phone call. “I’ve tossed out quite a few leading questions about this in the last few months, and each time you’ve changed the subject.”

He looked directly at me. “I guess I have. I swear to you on my mother’s life, it has absolutely nothing to do with another woman.”

Dimitri’s mother was precious to him. For him to make that assertion was startling. I took a breath. “I didn’t think it did. I think it’s related to something in the last murder investigation. That Pentagon weapons designer was our prime suspect. Then his assassination was quickly hushed up. It was like he’d never come to town. You and Mackey both disappeared for two days. Then you came back, and both of you acted as if nothing had happened.”

“We took a couple of days off and went to his hunting cabin. Nothing illegal or nefarious.”

“I didn’t know you and he were such good friends, or that you hunt.”

He shrugged one shoulder. “We weren’t terribly good friends. It was spur of the moment, and I do hunt. We’re friends now.”

“You forget, I’ve seen your hunting skills, and I’m not so sure you hunt four-legged, furry creatures.”

He laughed. “You don’t miss much, and that’s why you’re becoming the world’s greatest detective.”

“You’re charming, but that’s silly.” I took another sip of coffee.

He reached out and touched my hand. “During that phone call an elderly gentleman asked me to check on the safety of some people here in town on the down-low. As he requested, I checked once a month over the last three months, and they seemed to be doing fine. End of story.”

“Well, if that’s all it was…”

The Perils Of Cheryl by Carol McClain ~ new release

a-the-perils-of-cheryl

Only a man can save her—any man so long as he’s hot

If you’ve been around Christian writing circles at all, at one time or another you’ve run in to my friend Carol McClain. I’m absolutely pleased to have her on the blog to promote new new release.

Sassy, desperate, and ditched by her husband, Cheryl Chandler realizes only one thing will redeem her from her ex-husband’s betrayal. A man. Finding love in rural New York proves a daunting challenge. With a shallow gene pool and a crazy family, she wants someone willing to accept her quirky teens whose eccentricities range from New Age ideologies, to OCD, to religious fanaticism, and a toddler—her husband’s parting gift. What man would love her and accept them? (Or could she hide the kids?) Her children, and mother, have the solution. Online dating.

Here she meets two men. Religious fanatic Tarrant charms her, but he’s so pious, he actually likes to go to church and loves to study his Bible. Mysterious Carleton is everything her desperation desires, witty, knowledgeable, and handsome. How does a woman choose among a crazy family or a need for unadulterated love or the draw of faith? She certainly can’t decide without a hefty dose of humor.

Author Question:  What do you as the author want the reader to take away from this novel?

Carol’s Answer:  Cheryl believes only a man can save her, any man so long as he’s hot. Little did she know that the one she needs isn’t the one she expects. Only one person can straighten out the mess of our lives (and Cheryl’s is an LOL mess). Any Christian knows the answer.

A Carol McClain

Author Bio:

McClain is the award-winning author of four novels. The New York Yankee on Stinking Creek is the first-place winner of The Dragonfly Book Award for best novel.

McClain writes novels about the redemption of the unredeemable. Even her most serious works are laced with humor. She is a consummate encourager, and no matter what your faith might look like, you will find compassion, humor and wisdom in her complexly layered, but ultimately readable work.

She is a past president of ACFW Knoxville and its current treasurer/secretary. She facilitates Postmark Writers, an offshoot of the LaFollette Art Group. She teaches online courses and is a clinical supervisor for WGU.

In addition to the above, she’s served on the Board of Connections to Recovery, an organization dedicated to keeping addicts sober. She’s mentored recovering addicts, and at one time, had been a foster mother–the complexity and difficulty of that calling proved she was better off writing about it than performing it.

(Is there nothing she can’t do?)

Aside from writing, she’s a skilled stained-glass artist, and a budding potter.

Purchase THE PERILS OF CHERYL on Amazon.

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CD Cover Need an exciting read for the new year? COURTING DANGER ~ Young women are being murdered in this Florida #beach town. The female detective feels she knows the murderer, can’t place him, and it’s tearing at her.

 

 

Grace Filled Fiction Spotlight Summer Book Bash 2020 ~ 9 Authors/9 Novels/9 weeks/for 99 cents

GFFS Sum Bk Bash 20

I love great reads by outstanding indie authors and authors with small/medium publishing houses just as much as I love a rollicking summertime bash.

This book bash lasts the entire nine (9) weeks of summer. Take a look at these authors. Indie authors and authors from small/medium houses are putting out such unique, exciting, interesting, and humorous novels — perfect for summer reading. Check out a small item about each novel ~~ on sale all summer for 99 cents.  Go to the Grace Filled Fiction Spotlight Book Bash blog article. https://wp.me/p1YAT8-13i

 

 

Hosea’s Heart by Linda Wood Rondeau ~ a spotlight

Hosea's HeartContemporary Women’s Fiction

 

Linda Wood Rondeau is a skilled Christian writer and I’m proud to have her novel, HOSEA’S HEART, featured on this blog.

*****

 

How much should a wronged husband forgive?

Isn’t fifteen years long enough to search for a drug-addicted, runaway wife? His best friend, a private detective, tells him Joanna doesn’t want to be found. Since meeting the alluring Cynthia Prescott, he considers Gregg’s advice—get a divorce and move on.

A respectable minister of a Silver Spring church, Aubrey’s conundrum intensifies with Joanna’s reappearance. Claiming to be a new Christian, she confesses her life as a Madam for Washington’s rich and powerful and her plans to accept a plea bargain in exchange for testimony against Drug Czar, Joey Juarez, her former lover. She seeks Aubrey’s forgiveness.

How can he believe her sincerity? Is all this brought about because of her terminal illness? What does God require? He could possibly forgive Joanna’s drug addiction. How can he overlook her prostitution and liaison with a murderous cartel? Should he love her like Hosea of Old who rescued his unfaithful wife from the bowels of degradation? And why would God bring her back to him now, only to watch her die?

Joanna accepts her probable end—her salvation and reunion with Aubrey is Grace enough. Yet, she prays for purpose in these final days. Is complete reconciliation with her family even possible? Or does God intend for her to help put a Washington menace behind bars?

Joanna and Aubrey’s paths will lead them into unimagined territory as they crisscross through Washington’s underworld, testing faith and friendships. Only in retrospect will they realize God weaves threads of failure into tapestries of hope.

*****

 

Nike:  Do you have a trailer for this book?How did this trailer come about? Give a link.

Linda:  This trailer was my own effort.

Here is the link: https://lindarondeau.com/

Nike:  Is this novel unique/uncommon in some way?

Linda:  What would a modern-day Hosea look like? Inspired by the biblical Hosea, the novel explores a drug-addict’s life and search for purpose when coming to Christ during a terminal illness. Joanna fears her life has been wasted, yet trusts God to make sense of her existence even if she does not live long enough to see her prayer answered this side of heaven. Aubrey must struggle, not only with his wife’s addiction, but her unfaithfulness as well. How much does God require him to forgive?

Nike:  Can you give us a sneak peek or preview into the next work in progress (WIP) you’re working on? When do you expect to release it?

Linda:  I will be releasing I PRAYED FOR PATIENCE GOD GAVE ME CHILDREN … a non-fiction book that explores what it means to be God’s child. I am also working on the companion novel with the same title. In this work of fiction, a radio journalist postpones a planned tryst as she becomes enmeshed in her children’s problems, finding salvation through the testimony of a Christian author who has written a book, I Prayed for Patience, God Gave Me Children.

Linda Wood Rondeau

BIO:

God is able to turn our worst past into our best future. This is the theme of every Rondeau book. A veteran social worker, Rondeau delves into the intricacies of human relationships, earning her critical acclaim for her heart-warming stories of deliverance and forgiveness. The author now resides in Hagerstown, MD with her best friend in life, her husband of forty years. Active in her local church, she enjoys playing the occasional round of golf, a common feature in many of her books. Readers may contact the author through Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google Plus, Pinterest, and Instagram or visit her website: www.lindarondeau.com.

Purchase on Amazon: HOSEA’S HEART

Find Linda Wood Rondeau:

Linda’s Amazon Author Page

Linda’s Blog 

 

 

 

 

 

Sutter’s Landing by Betty Thomason Owens ~ the inspired pen

Sutters Landing

I write detective stories. Mostly that’s what I read and showcase. But every-once-in-awhile I come across a general fiction novel that’s so good, I have to promote it. SUTTER’S LANDING by Betty Thomason Owens is such a novel. Although it does have a measure of suspense, too.

 

Literature, Biblical Allegory

Still reeling from tragic losses, Connie and Annabelle Cross face life with their signature humor and grace, until fresh hope arrives on their doorstep.

In early spring of 1955, Annabelle Cross and her daughter-in-law, Connie have nearly made it through the first winter on their own. Then the skies open up as West Tennessee and much of the south endures one of the worst floods in history. As many of their neighbors endure losses due to the flooding, Annabelle and Connie sit tight on dry ground.

As spring gives way to summer, Annabelle begins to dread Connie’s upcoming marriage and removal to Sutter’s Landing. Though she’s happy to note the growing affection between Alton Wade and her daughter-in-law, their marriage means Annabelle will be on her own for the first time in her life.

Connie’s doubts increase when Alton’s bigoted brother Jensen uses every opportunity to drive a wedge between them. Is she doing the right thing? Did she move too quickly? Unexpected summer visitors and anticipation of a new neighbor provide diversion and open possibilities for both Annabelle and Connie.

EXCERPT:  Chapter One

Connie Cross sat straight up in bed. What was that sound? Slowly, her vision adjusted to the semidarkness of her room. Outside, but close—too close. A gunshot? She slipped out of bed, donned her robe and tiptoed through the next room where her mother-in-law Annabelle lay. A soft snore told her the woman still slept.

Quiet as possible, Connie opened the back door and stood looking through the screen. Chilled air curled around her ankles and sent a shiver up her spine. She pushed the screen door open. Outside, on the small back porch, she stood for a moment to get her bearings. A thick, white fog enveloped the surrounding area. She wrapped her arms around herself for warmth and peered into the mist.

One of the hens broke into a loud cackle, which wasn’t unusual, though a bit early in the morning for such a racket. Connie was just about to retreat to the warmth of her bed when she caught a movement out of the corner of her eye. She squinted in that direction, listening. Was someone approaching the house? An odd noise, like an animal snuffling, was the only sound. Her scalp prickled. She trembled, though not because of the cold. The sound moved closer.

Gradually, a shape emerged, advancing through the mist. Before she could make out what it was, there came a sharp whistle. Her back straightened as her nerves uncoiled. She recognized that whistle. The thing halted. Connie stepped forward. “Samson, is that you?”

The dog whined, and gave a soft yip. He trotted closer, nose to the ground, tail at attention.

A smile warming her insides, Connie peered into the mist. “Alton?” Their nearest neighbor, Alton Wade, was also her fiancé, though they hadn’t publicly announced it yet. A moment later, she made out his lanky frame, moving toward her.

“Samson, sit,” he said.

The dog sat.

Alton stopped below the porch, too far away for her to make out the face beneath the brim of his hat. Dressed in a loose jacket, he held a disjointed shotgun in the crook of his arm. “Did I wake you?” His voice was low, as though he was not yet fully awake.

Keenly aware of her state of undress, Connie kept both arms crossed over the front of her blue chenille robe as she crept closer to the edge of the porch. “You did. Was that a shot I heard?”

“Yes, it was. A fox was about to have herself a morning snack on Miss Annabelle’s chickens.”

Connie caught her breath. “Did you kill it?”

“Of course I did.”

Connie could hear the prideful grin on his face. She gave him an answering one. “Of course you did.”

 

Author Bio:

Betty T Owens

Betty Thomason Owens has been writing for almost thirty years. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group, and serves as vice-president/secretary of the Louisville area group. She’s a mentor, assisting other writers, and a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers. She also serves on the planning committee of the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference. Her writing credits include the Legacy Series, and the southern historical Kinsman Redeemer Series (Book 1, Annabelle’s Ruth, is a 2016 Grace Award winner, and has recently been translated into Spanish). She has two fantasy-adventure novels, The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale BooksTM, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell PressTM. When she’s not writing, Owens is a part-time bookkeeper, who loves to travel and spend time with her family.

Betty would like to invite you to her Facebook author page, Twitter, GoodReads, Pinterest, Instagram, Amazon Author Page.

And she posts weekly on her blog, Hello, Thursday Morning, found at LOVE IS THE LEGACY ~ BETTY THOMASON OWENS.

SUTTER’S LANDING @ AMAZON

DEADLY DESIGNS ~ back to school promotion, 99 cents

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The kids are back in school, so kick back and enjoy a taut, suspenseful detective novel ~ Friday, September 9th – Sunday, September 11th only 99 cents.

 

DEADLY DESIGNS: Fast paced whodunit, with dry humor. Sweet, romance, warm intimacy, sophisticated themes presented tastefully.  Private investigator Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels teams up with Deputy Dawson Hughes to find a geeky radio broadcaster’s missing wife and young daughter. They fear the woman and child were taken by Islamic terrorists as revenge against the husband’s pro-Israel, conspiracy theory broadcasts. The investigation takes Ronnie and Hughes from a manicured Connecticut estate, to interviews with an elitist A-List society crowd, and run-ins with cranky local police detectives. Then they plunge deep into the seamy, drug-riddled underbelly of the fashion world, with the specter of international terrorism hovering.

Hughes has recently been promoted to lieutenant in the Taylor County, Texas Sheriff’s Department. He’s on leave on a special assignment with Authorized Operations (AO), a clandestine, quasi-government agency operating out of a sea-side mansion in Hither Hills, NY. The only thing is, many powerful politicians, and government big-wigs claim Authorized Operations doesn’t exist.

Ronnie is furious at both Hughes and the broadcaster for waiting thirty-six hours to start the search. She knows the longer it takes, the less chance there is of finding the child alive. The problem is, radio talk-show host Ed Harper has been hoping-against-hope that his pot-smoking, model wife is on one of her ‘esoteric experiences’ and has simply taken the child while she romps for a few days. He doesn’t want to seriously consider the other, more hazardous possibility… that his radio broadcasts have angered some very dangerous people.

DEADLY DESIGNS ORDER HERE!

 ENDORSEMENTS:

While I thoroughly enjoyed, HARMFUL INTENT, I found DEADLY DESIGN’s captivating plot and familiar characters fascinating. It’s so refreshing to read a good suspense novel without all the darkness but that is still exciting. Amid the turmoil, Ronnie and Dawson ease into a romance that is fresh and utterly real. I highly recommend DEADLY DESIGN. It’s a stellar read. ~~ V. B. Tenery, author of WORKS OF DARKNESS, book one in the Matt Foley/Sara Bradford series.

…as Hughes and Ronnie come under threats to their lives, the author constructs a narrative of increasing tension that builds to an exciting climax and satisfying denouement. The author also presents a meticulously researched variety of technical equipment. The result is an excellent suspense novel that readers will find most entertaining. ~~ Don Taylor, author of LIGHTNING ON A QUIET NIGHT, THE LAZARUS FILE, and more.

In DEADLY DESIGNS, Dawson Hughes brings his Texas charm to the Tri-State area to work with Ronnie on an abduction case. This gritty, suspense-filled story will keep the reader on edge all the way up until the satisfying end. I especially enjoyed the blossoming affection between the two detectives. Highly recommended! ~~ Betty Thomason Owens, author of ANNABELLE’S RUTH, Book 1 in the Kinsman Redeemer series.

ORDER HERE