Tag Archive: Blog Tour


Guest Post:

A Mountain Mercenary’s Sneak Attack with Author Susan Stoker

Defending Harlow is book 4 in the Mountain Mercenaries series. Each book features one of the men who were recruited by the mysteries “Rex” to work on his team to help rescue kidnapped women and children. In this book we meet Lowell “Black” Lockard who was a Navy SEAL before he became a Mountain Mercenary. He joined the group because after his stint in the Navy, he realized that he was happiest when he was being useful, helping others. He’d been close to his fellow SEALs when he’d been on active duty, but somehow he was even closer with his fellow Mountain Mercenaries.

DefendingHarlow

They worked together, they played together, and they simply enjoyed spending time with each other both during missions and when they were living their lives in Colorado Springs.

Black loves that his friends have found women that completed them. Gray met Allye when he rescued her from a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and they had to swim for hours to safety. Ro met Chloe when her brother was holding her hostage in his house and was about to pimp her out from his strip club. And Arrow met Morgan when they’d been down in the Dominican Republic to rescue a child who’d been kidnapped by her non custodial father. Turns out, Morgan was one of the most famous missing people the United States had ever had, and she’d been held for over a year before she’d accidentally been found by the Mountain Mercenaries.

He loves that his friends are happy, but realizes that he is…bored. He wants someone to laugh with. To talk to at the end of the day. To break the routine of his life. He envies his friends for having that.

Meeting Harlow is a turning part in Black’s life. She makes him laugh and he’s intrigued more than he’s ever been by a woman before. And realizing they went to the same high school once upon a time makes him even more curious. But there’s a problem…Harlow has had bad date after bad date and she’s sworn off dating forever.

But Black won’t give up. He decides to “trick” her by refusing to call what they’re doing as ‘dates.’ They’re just “hanging out.” And the more he spends time with her, the more he likes her…and vice versa. Harlow will have to decide whether or not to take a chance on Black, and he’ll have to figure out how to neutralize the threat looming over Harlow and the women’s shelter she works at or else the semantics of what they’re doing will be a moot point, because someone might end up dead.

DefendingHarlowGraphic

About the Book

Title: Defending Harlow

Author: Susan Stoker

Release Date: June 4, 2019

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Summary

Lowell “Black” Lockard, former Navy SEAL, has watched his fellow Mountain Mercenaries settle down with the women of their dreams, but he’s convinced he doesn’t need love. Then he gets a call from Harlow Reese—a chef at a local women’s shelter—and begins to reconsider his decision.

After being continually harassed by a local band of punks, Harlow asks Lowell to give the women of the shelter lessons in self-defense. She doesn’t expect him to take such a special interest in her safety, but he insists on escorting her to and from work, never taking no for an answer. Not that Harlow minds the personal touch…especially when it’s coming from her former teenage crush.

Despite her long history of bad dating luck, seeing Black again makes Harlow rethink her self-imposed celibacy. Easy on the eyes and hard to forget, the man has morphed into an alpha stud. And Harlow may be exactly the type of woman Black is looking for. Making her feel safe isn’t only a duty; it’s a pleasure. But the threats are escalating. The motives are a mystery. And as the danger burns almost as hot as their passion, there’s much more at risk than their hearts.

Author Biography

Susan Stoker

Susan Stoker is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her series include Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, Delta Force Heroes, and Mountain Mercenaries. Married to a retired Army noncommissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri and California to Colorado and Texas—and currently lives under the big skies of Tennessee. A true believer in happily ever after, Stoker enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love. To learn more about the author and her work, visit her website, www.stokeraces.com, or find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/authorsusanstoker.

Social Media Links

Website: http://www.stokeraces.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorsstoker

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Susan_Stoker

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8247140.Susan_Stoker

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*****

 EXCERPT:

Neither said anything for a while as they drove toward downtown.

Finally, Harlow asked, “Where are we going?”

“The Pit.”

“Where?”

Lowell smiled. “Since this isn’t a date, and we’re talking about the shelter, I decided I should take you to the place where me and my team conduct business. The Pit.”

“It sounds scary. Please tell me there aren’t snakes on the floor and Indiana Jones isn’t going to pop up and run pell-mell through the place being chased by members of an ancient civilization because they want their artifact back.”

Harlow stared at Lowell when he threw his head back and laughed loud and long. She couldn’t help but chuckle herself. The man sitting next to her was so different from any man she’d dated in the past—no, wait … this wasn’t a date. Nope. Not even close.

“I can’t wait to tell the others that. No, Harl, The Pit is a combination bar and pool hall. It’s pretty much a hole-in-the-wall kind of place.”

“Why do you do business in a bar?” Harlow asked.

“To be honest, I’m not sure. The Pit is where we were interviewed when we were first asked to join the Mountain Mercenaries … I’m assuming you know about the team?”

She nodded. “A bit. Loretta told me. I’m sorry if she spoke out of turn, but she was trying to reassure me that you knew what you were doing and could help us.”

“I can help you,” Lowell confirmed. “And in a nutshell, me and my teammates are all former Special Forces soldiers, and we work for Rex, getting women and children out of untenable situations.”

“Why mercenaries? I mean, it doesn’t sound like that’s what you guys really are.”

Lowell shook his head, and a small smile formed on his face. “Why do women always concentrate on that word?” he asked, more to himself than her.

Harlow answered him even though he hadn’t really asked. “Because. It’s weird that you call yourselves something that you technically aren’t. I wouldn’t start a catering business and call it Harlow Photography.”

“Point taken. I don’t know why Rex chose that name. Probably because it was catchy and sounded better than Colorado Badasses, or Your Worst Nightmare.”

Harlow couldn’t stop the bark of laughter that escaped. “True.”

“The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter what we’re called. We’re six men who go where we’re needed and do what we have to do to rescue those who need a helping hand. I know women are empowered, and there are many who are just as talented at what they do as we are. But the fact remains, there are a lot of men out there who feel the need to subjugate and beat down the women and children in their lives. They take advantage of teenagers who are too young to know better or those who have had horrible lives. They hurt them and force them to do things against their will. It’s not right, or fair, and me and my friends are playing a small part in trying to right those wrongs.”

Harlow wasn’t sure how their light and playful conversation had turned so intense, but she turned slightly in her seat to better look at Lowell. His teeth were clenched, and the hand on the steering wheel was holding on so tightly, she could see his knuckles turning white. He obviously felt deeply about the topic and his job, and Harlow couldn’t be more proud of him.

“I’m proud to know you, Lowell Lockard.”

He looked at her in surprise. “What?”

“The world needs more men like you and your friends. I don’t know why men like the ones harassing the shelter are the way they are. Why they feel the need to exert their power over those they deem weaker than them. But I’m glad you’re there to help tip the scales. Other than the high-speed-chase guy, generally I haven’t been afraid of my bad dates, I’ve just been disgusted by or disappointed in them. But I know there are a lot of women out there who’re in bad marriages and relationships, and it helps knowing there are people who care. People who will put their own lives on the line to help get others out of those situations, if asked.”

Lowell pulled into a parking lot of a dark and seedy-looking building, and Harlow wasn’t surprised to see the neon sign above the door that said The Pit. This was exactly the kind of place where she imagined Lowell and his fellow badasses would meet.

He stopped the engine, brought the hand he was still holding up to his mouth, and kissed the back of it. “Stay put. I’ll come around.”

He went to let go of her, but Harlow held on to his hand. “This isn’t a date,” she said, not sure if she was reminding him or herself. “It’s a work meeting. I let you pick me up, but I should’ve driven myself. And I can open my own door and pay my own way.”

Lowell leaned into her, and Harlow forced herself not to pull back.

“I know this isn’t a date. You don’t date. I heard that loud and clear, Harl. But in my world—and make no mistake; when you’re with me, you’re in my world—a man opens a door for a lady. He walks on the outside of the sidewalk, he picks her up whenever possible, and he pays for drinks and meals. If it makes you feel better, you can think of this as a business expense I can write off on my taxes.”

Harlow stared at him for a beat, then nodded. What else could she do? She didn’t want to like Lowell’s world, but she had to admit it felt good being there. She’d had doors shut in her face when men had entered ahead of her and hadn’t held them open. She’d had to pay for her own meals on dates. And she’d even had an experience when she’d literally almost been run over by a bus in Seattle because she’d been forced to walk on the outside of the sidewalk near the curb.

“Okay,” she said.

“Okay,” Lowell said with a small smile. Then he squeezed her hand once more and climbed out.

“Not a date, not a date,” Harlow chanted to herself quietly as Lowell walked around his car to come to her side. He opened her door and held out a hand. Taking a deep breath, Harlow put her hand back in his and allowed him to help her up and out of the low seat.

He didn’t let go of her hand once she was standing next to him, though. He simply shut the car door with his free hand and led her toward the door of the bar.

Not a date, she told herself once more as Lowell smiled at her and pulled open the heavy wooden door.

***

About the Book

Title: Defending Harlow

Author: Susan Stoker

Release Date: June 4, 2019

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Summary

Lowell “Black” Lockard, former Navy SEAL, has watched his fellow Mountain Mercenaries settle down with the women of their dreams, but he’s convinced he doesn’t need love. Then he gets a call from Harlow Reese—a chef at a local women’s shelter—and begins to reconsider his decision.

After being continually harassed by a local band of punks, Harlow asks Lowell to give the women of the shelter lessons in self-defense. She doesn’t expect him to take such a special interest in her safety, but he insists on escorting her to and from work, never taking no for an answer. Not that Harlow minds the personal touch…especially when it’s coming from her former teenage crush.

Despite her long history of bad dating luck, seeing Black again makes Harlow rethink her self-imposed celibacy. Easy on the eyes and hard to forget, the man has morphed into an alpha stud. And Harlow may be exactly the type of woman Black is looking for. Making her feel safe isn’t only a duty; it’s a pleasure. But the threats are escalating. The motives are a mystery. And as the danger burns almost as hot as their passion, there’s much more at risk than their hearts.

Author Biography

Susan Stoker is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her series include Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, Delta Force Heroes, and Mountain Mercenaries. Married to a retired Army noncommissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri and California to Colorado and Texas—and currently lives under the big skies of Tennessee. A true believer in happily ever after, Stoker enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love. To learn more about the author and her work, visit her website, www.stokeraces.com, or find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/authorsusanstoker.

Social Media Links

Website: http://www.stokeraces.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorsstoker

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Susan_Stoker

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8247140.Susan_Stoker

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Sweet Wild of Mine

By: Laurel Kerr

Publication Date: 5/28/2019

SweetWildOfMine_FB

Love runs wild at the Sagebrush Flats Zoo…

In a bid to revitalize his career, bestselling author Magnus Gray has come to Sagebrush Flats to write about the local zoo’s latest rescue—an orphaned baby polar bear. But Magnus dreads the drama of small towns and is bullishly determined to keep to himself.

June Winters is a people person, and delights in welcoming Magnus to Sagebrush Flats, though it seems unlikely she can get the handsome stranger to crack a smile. Then a mishap with an open gate forces Magnus and June to deal with a stampeding flock of fainting goats, an adorable but clingy polar bear cub, a cranky pregnant camel, and two star-crossed honey badgers. Never mind small town drama—the lively animals may just convince these two that opposites really do attract…

Where the Wild Hearts Are Series:

Wild On My Mind (Book 1)

Sweet Wild of Mine (Book 2)

Praise for Wild on My Mind:

“Hilarious…a truly touching contemporary romance about the power of love and family.”—Night Owl Reviews Top Pick

“Clever, fun, and poignant…with wit and heart.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Outstanding…sure to delight.”—Publishers Weekly Starred Review

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2RQHsBi

B&N: http://bit.ly/2DyNzVU

Apple: https://apple.co/2SLs11G

Indiebound: http://bit.ly/2I7elKv

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AUTHOR WEBSITE:

https://laurelkerr.com/

GIVEAWAY

5 Copies of Wild on My Mind

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EXCERPT:

A flicker of softness flashed in Magnus’s blue eyes before they froze over again. “I don’t talk about that isle, lass.”

All of June’s carefully constructed arguments blew from her mind as frustrated anger swept through her. The man was as bullheaded as a groundhog after a fresh tomato. “You wrote an entire book about it.”

“It was a purge.”

“A purge?”

“An enema.”

“Did you just call your bestseller an enema?”

“Aye.”

“You are a complicated man, Magnus Gray.”

“Nay. Just a simple bloke who likes peace, quiet, and a good tattie scone.”

Although June fully believed the man liked solitude and Scottish cooking, she didn’t buy his first claim. The reclusive author had depths greater than Loch Ness that hid mysteries even bigger than a fabled sea monster. Although June excelled at charting a person’s personality within minutes of meeting them, she still couldn’t fathom this man.

“Good day.” With that parting salvo, Magnus Gray started to turn and walk away from June for a fourth time in a row. Before he could take one step, however, everything broke loose in the form of cloven-footed critters.

Honey’s nose twitched as she watched the Giant One and the Blond One. She respected the devious spark lurking in the woman’s green eyes. And she’d been monitoring the hulking newcomer since his arrival. Unlike the careless Fluffy, Honey knew how to conceal her presence. The Giant One had no idea she’d stalked him for days.

He intrigued her. He was not like most weak-willed humans who craved the company of their own kind. The Giant One preferred solitude, just like honey badgers.

Since her arrival at the zoo, Honey had been watching for suitable adversaries. Although the young female cougars had the speed and agility to keep her reflexes limber, they lacked foresight and cunning. The grizzly was elderly and slow. And the rest of the animals did not interest her. Unfortunately, the human keepers did not provide the same amusement as her old biped. They were too pleasant.

But these two were different. They reminded Honey of bees, full of energy as they buzzed at each other. Yes, these two could sting if properly motivated.

Honey smiled as she scurried up a pole of the goat pen. With one swift nudge of her nose, she lifted the latch. Hanging on to the gate, she used her body weight to swing it open. The silly goats immediately bolted for the exit.

Honey shimmied back to the ground. The Giant One was busy tripping over the horned creatures, but the Blond One stood upright. As Honey scampered away, she made sure the female spied her. It was time to make her presence known. After all, what was the point of starting a game if her opponent didn’t know she was a player?

Magnus was not sure what had happened. One moment he was arguing with the barmy lass, and the next, he was surrounded by a blasted herd of bleating, screaming goats. He’d just started to pivot away from June when two kids darted between his legs. The blighted things must have mistaken him for some sort of shelter as they twined about his ankles. Caught off-balance, he felt his massive frame sway. He couldn’t right himself without stepping on one of the cloven beasties. And, as much as goats annoyed him, he didn’t wish to crush them under his weight.

Twisting his body, he managed to avoid them, but he ended up crashing to the gravel path with a painful thump. Since Magnus couldn’t use his arms to brace his fall, his back collided with the ground, knocking the wind out of him. As he lay gasping like a landed sea trout, one of the wee devils climbed on his chest while the other started eating his hair. Magnus could only lie there as he tried sucking air back into his lungs.

Suddenly, June appeared in his vision, her blond hair hanging around her face like a golden curtain. For once, mirth didn’t sparkle in her bonny green eyes. To his surprise, real concern shone there instead. If he hadn’t met her already, he’d say she looked like an angel hovering over him.

“Are you okay?” she asked. “You hit the ground pretty hard.”

He would have reassured her, but that would have required oxygen. Her mouth twisted, and she reached down and lifted a bleating goat off his body. That helped, marginally. Using his eyes, he gestured to the one chewing his hair. She removed that one too. “You just breathe easy now, you hear?”

He had no choice but to listen. As he sprawled spread-eagle on the ground, the lass stood guard, a squirming kid under each arm. A couple adult goats tried to clamber on his body, but June shooed them away. It was odd, he thought, having someone watch over him. His da would have called him a muckle nyaff and left him in disgust for tripping over his own feet.

Finally, Magnus could breathe again. He slowly raised himself on his elbows and then almost plopped right back down. The manky goats were all over the path. How had they escaped?

“A honey badger let them out,” June explained.

Magnus swung his gaze toward her in disbelief. A honey badger had caused all this? What would possess the wee beastie to open the pen?

“By its size, I think it was the female, Honey. I saw her darting away just after you fell.”

“Baws.” Magnus finally managed.

“If you’re okay, I’ll go put these two critters back in their home before we get the rest,” June said, lifting the kids in her arms. They bleated loudly in protest. Magnus nodded. As he heaved himself to his feet, June dropped the two bairns back in the paddock.

Sighing heavily, Magnus took after two of the goats. They screamed like banshees and darted away. Magnus swore. He hated chasing the slippery wee devils. Give him a cow or even a pig.

“I don’t think we need to run them down,” June said.

He swung toward her, irritated. He doubted she’d done much farming. “How do you propose we get them back in the pen then, lass?”

She smirked, that gleam back in her green eyes. “Strategy.”

Then, she reached down and grabbed a metal feed bucket hanging from the corner of the pen. She smashed it against the steel gate, the sound ringing sharply through the air. The fainting goats toppled and hopped everywhere, and Magnus had to admit it made corralling them easier.

She grabbed the wee ones, while he hoisted the adults. They had to bang the gate a few more times, but they managed to quickly clear the path of goats. When the last bleating goat was dumped back in its home, Magnus turned to regard his unexpected helper. The cold and the exertion had brought color to June’s cheeks, making her bonnier than ever. She was as fair and delicate as the fae folk in the German tales, and just as devious. And something about her made Magnus wonder what the price of kissing a fairy would be.

Too steep. Much too steep.

***

Excerpted from Sweet Wild of Mine by Laurel Kerr. © 2019 by Erin Laurel O’Brien. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

This is one of the most hilarious books I’ve read….so much laughter and warmth, in depth personality and characterization and so much of heart and soul!!!!

Publication Date: 5/28/2019

PuppyLove

No matter the job, no matter the need, these service dogs in training will always fall in love at first bark.

When Sophie Vasquez and her sisters dreamed up Puppy Promise—their service puppy training school—it was supposed to be her chance to bring some good into the world. But how can she expect to do anything when no one will take her seriously?

Enter Harrison Parks: a rough, gruff, take-no-bull wildlife firefighter in need of a diabetic service dog. He couldn’t be a more unlikely fit for Sophie or Bubbles—the sweet Pomeranian she knows will be his perfect partner—but when Sophie insists he give them both a shot, something unexpected happens: he listens. Even better, he keeps on listening, even as Sophie and Bubbles turn his lonely, uber-masculine world upside-down.

As it turns out, they all have something to prove…and more than enough room in their hearts for a little puppy love.

Service Puppies Series:

Puppy Love (Book 1)

Puppy Christmas (Book 2)

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2SoYwDw

B&N: http://bit.ly/2MYw85n

Indiebound: http://bit.ly/2BwwLOZ

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AUTHOR WEBSITE

https://www.lucygilmore.com/

GIVEAWAY: 3 Copies of Puppy Love

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************************************************************************************EXCERPT

Oscar didn’t say a word as Harrison stretched out the sock and slipped it over the puppy’s head. It went easily. There was so much fur on her, she could be decompressed to half her size. Gently guiding her limbs to fit through each of the holes he’d made was more difficult, especially since some of his measurements had been a little off, but the end result was about what he expected.

In other words, Bubbles was wearing a sock. One of his favorites too, the sweat-wicking kind he wore when he was out fighting fires for long stretches at a time.

“What the hell did you just do to that poor creature?” Oscar demanded.

“What do you mean? She loves it.” Harrison set Bubbles down on the table. The puppy wriggled once, scratched twice, and decided she’d never been so pleased in all her life. With a toss of her head, she began prancing along the table’s edge, just in case they hadn’t noticed her the first time. “Look at her—she’s preening.”

Oscar scratched his chin. “Well, I’ll be damned. She does like it.”

“Hello, boys.” A soft, feminine voice arose from behind them. “Sorry to barge in, but I rang the doorbell three times. No one answered.”

Harrison’s pulse leapt at the sound of Sophie’s arrival. It wasn’t a scared leap or an alarmed leap—it wasn’t even a wary one, which should have been his reaction given how far she’d managed to push him already.

No, this was the most dangerous kind of leap of all—attraction.

His heightened pulse didn’t lessen when he turned to find her standing in the doorway to the kitchen. He’d been more grateful than words could express when she’d showed up yesterday wearing sensible pants and a shirt with a Puppy Promise logo embroidered on the front. She’d still looked amazing, of course. The playful wisps of her short hair set off her pretty features, and the simplicity of her attire only enhanced her neat figure. But the uniform had helped.

I’m here to do a job, that uniform said. I’m here because of the dog.

Today, she’d gone back to wearing her own clothes. He wasn’t sure why the sight of her in faded jeans and a loose gray top should be so alarming, but he suspected it had something to do with the gentle curve of neck exposed on one side of her shirt. He’d seen women wear similar clothes before, but there was something about the sight of Sophie’s bare clavicle that made it difficult for him to breathe.

He wanted to kiss her there. He wanted to run his fingers up and down that slope of perfect skin until she shivered under his touch.

She shifted slightly, the shirt shifting with her. As if aware he was watching, the material slid even farther, giving him a glimpse of the rounded softness of her shoulder, broken only by a thin pink bra strap.

Shit. What was he doing? He couldn’t lust after Sophie. Not when she showed no signs of reciprocation. Harrison might go numb at the sight of her dressed in casual wear, but he doubted his jogging pants and decades-old Pink Floyd T-shirt were doing anything in return. Nor was she likely to lose herself at the sound of his rough grumbling.

“Sorry,” he said in a voice that was, unfortunately, both rough and grumbling. “The doorbell doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked in years.”

“Nothing around this place has worked in years,” Oscar added with a cheerfulness that seemed inappropriate, given how recently he’d been threatening Harrison’s life and livelihood. “Except for Harrison and Wallace, of course. Two more dedicated workaholics I’ve never met in my life—it’s the only thing they’re good at, if you want the truth.”

He wasn’t wrong. As much as Harrison would have liked to leap to his own defense, there wasn’t much to say. He wasn’t a man with varied interests or a whole hell of a lot going on in his personal life. Fighting fires was literally the only thing he was good at—the only thing he’d ever been good at since the summer he’d turned fourteen and made friends with a group of delinquent kids from around town.

His dad had been working around the clock at the time—his default for as long as Harrison could remember—so when he’d caught his son in the middle of a tractor-stealing incident, he’d handed him over to Oscar with plea that he do something with the blasted boy.

Oscar had done it, of course, and in the process, created a monster. An irritable, overworked, firefighting monster who had nothing to offer a woman except a newfound talent for making dog sweaters out of socks.

“Speaking of, when can I expect to have him back?” Oscar asked. “I’ve got a contract to start training a team from Fairchild Air Force Base with his name written all over it.”

“Right now.” Harrison almost shot out of his chair in his enthusiasm. Work would get him away from this house. Work would distance him from Sophie and her goddamn shoulder. “Pull the crew together, and I can start the training as soon as you want. You know how valuable the air force support can be for the flyovers. We’ve been after a contract with them for years.”

“I do know, which is why I’m going to delay the training until you’re free to run it.” Oscar turned his attention to Sophie. “What do you anticipate? What’s the expected timeline?”

Sophie glanced down at the puppy, considering. Not by so much as a flicker of a long, curled eyelash did she betray that she noticed anything out of the ordinary about Bubbles’s appearance.

Harrison couldn’t decide whether to be grateful for her tact or outraged at her disinterest. He’d worked really hard on that sock.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

TheDarkBonesGraphic

Title: The Dark Bones

Author: Loreth Anne White

Release Date: May 21, 2019

Publisher: Montlake Romance

SUMMARY:

When Detective Rebecca North left her rural hometown, she vowed never to return. Her father’s apparent suicide has changed that. The official report is that retired cop Noah North shot himself, knocked over a lantern, and set his isolated cabin ablaze. But Rebecca cannot believe he killed himself.

To prove it, she needs the help of Ash Haugen, the man she left behind. But Rebecca and Ash share more than broken hearts. Something darker lies between them, and the investigation is stirring it back to life. Clues lead them to the home of Olivia West and her deeply troubled twelve-year-old daughter, Tori. The child knows more about the murder than anyone can imagine, but she’s too terrified to say a word.

And as a cold-blooded killer resurfaces from the past, Rebecca and Ash begin to fear that their own secrets may be even harder to survive.

 

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Hunting For Betrayal with Author Loreth Anne White

My newest novel, THE DARK BONES, is about a cop, Rebecca North, who learns that her father—a retired police officer—has killed himself. She can’t believe it. But in order to prove it was murder she must return to her small, rural home town and face a lot of dark things she’s been running from including the man she left behind long ago, and a cold case thought long buried.

At the core, THE DARK BONES examines the lies people tell each other and themselves—the false narratives they construct in order to hide mistakes, or bad deeds, or hurtful truths, or realities that shame and burden them. And as Rebecca North, my detective, digs deep to find the truth of what really happened to her dad, she begins to crack open a carapace of old lies that wraps around a cold case—a  heinous deed that occurred in her small community twenty years in the past, a crime from which people are still hiding.

Rebecca fast learns that the secrets she is beginning to unearth are secrets people will still kill to keep. However, opening up this vault of lies and betrayals in the small town also reveals to Rebecca truths about herself, and about the man she once loved, Ash Haugen. A man who betrayed her. And in confronting those betrayals and old lies, and the reasons that underpinned them, Rebecca and Ash can finally heal, and open themselves to a love that was always meant to be. At the heart THE DARK BONES is also about second chances, and getting that opportunity to try and set right the collateral damages around betrayal.

Although THE DARK BONES stands alone, it also revisits the setting and some of the characters from an earlier book, A DARK LURE. Those earlier characters were left with a hard road to travel toward their happy end, and as some of them play a key role

in Rebecca and Ash’s story, we see them also confronting outfalls around betrayal, and getting chance to continue their journey towards a good life.

Author Biography

LorethAnneWhite

Loreth Anne White is an internationally bestselling author of thrillers, mysteries, and romantic suspense. A three-time RITA finalist, she is also the 2017 Overall Daphne du Maurier Award winner, and she has won the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Romantic Crown for Best Romantic Suspense and Best Book Overall, in addition to being a Booksellers’ Best finalist and a multiple CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award winner. A former journalist and newspaper editor who has worked in both South Africa and Canada, she now resides in the Pacific Northwest with her family. Visit her at www.lorethannewhite.com.

Social Media Links

Website: https://www.lorethannewhite.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Loreth.Anne.White

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Loreth

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/150272.Loreth_Anne_White

 

EXCERPT:

Rebecca felt warmth. She was enveloped by it. She heard the crackle and pop of dry logs burning and, in the distance, dogs barking. The smell of … fire—

Her eyes shot open, her heart thumping.

He sat there. Ash. In a chair by the fire, watching her with his ice-blue eyes. She was in his living room, and the lighting had been dimmed. The flickering glow of the flames in the hearth behind him cast his rugged features into sharp relief. The scar down the side of his face looked harsh. An old brown dog with a white muzzle slept on a rug in front of the hearth.

Rebecca’s brain slotted puzzle pieces into place as she struggled through a mental haze to backtrack and figure out how she’d gotten here: The lights following her. The razed cabin and the clues that someone had been inside the shed and maybe fled the scene. Ash shooting at her. No gas in her truck. Fear of dying. Coming here to Haugen Ranch. Shucking her dad’s gear in Ash’s mudroom. Him helping her into the living room of his old family home—a great big log house built by his grandfather. Seating her on the sofa.

She sat up slowly, trying to pull her brain into sharper focus. A down duvet was wrapped around her, a heated blanket beneath that. The duvet smelled of fresh laundry. Yes, she recalled, the fire had already been going in the hearth when he’d brought her in—she’d noticed that. Next had come hot tea with honey, warm clothes handed to her—fleece, oversize. More tea.

He’d told her not to talk. Discussion could wait.

She met his eyes now and felt a visceral connection across the darkened room. This was her first proper look at him after all these years.

Her teen lover had aged. As she had. But he’d matured in a way she found attractive. He was neither sweet nor handsome. Rugged rather. A brooding look. Sun bronzed and weathered. Her attention returned to his scar. So prominent, cutting down the left side of his face from eye to jaw. He could have had plastic surgery over the past decades, but clearly hadn’t. Her memory slipped back to the day she’d tried to patch him up with the help of a small medical kit and knowledge she’d gleaned during her part-time job as a veterinary assistant.

He lied…

Her attention shifted to his hands. His knuckles were scarred.

What were you protecting him from that day?

TheDarkBones

She recalled the blood she’d seen on those ragged and bruised knuckles that day. Why had she not told her father she didn’t know for certain he’d fallen off his horse and been dragged across sharp terrain?

Why had she not questioned more firmly, at age sixteen, Ash’s refusal to go to the ER facility on that particular day? What deep psychology had driven her to possibly blind herself to search for a darker truth?

In that tempestuous, hormone-filled year she was sixteen, had she conveniently compartmentalized something that had created cognitive dissonance, because she’d just recently started sleeping with Ash, and needed to believe him? Needed to trust him again?

How had her actions that day shaped this present? Could it—she—have possibly played a role in her father’s death?

And why, oh dear God why, did Ash still make her feel things? This—this—was why she’d stayed away. He held an animal kind of magnetism over her. She felt it now, her gaze locked with his arctic eyes. Her attraction had blinded her to the fact he was not good for her. He was a liar.

She cleared her throat. “What time is it?”

“Almost midnight. You going to be okay? Do I need to drive you to Clinton?”

From his ranch it would take almost an hour, in the dark, on bad roads. And the ER would be closed. They’d have to call 911 for emergency to open up with an on-call physician. It reminded Rebecca that out here, one looked after one’s own.

“I … I must have passed out.”

A half smile. “Slept like a baby. You must have been tired.”

A desire to tell him all rose in Rebecca: How rough her journey home had been with the storms. How seeing her father’s body had gutted her. How exhausted she felt, emotionally. But she held back as her mind sharpened and the immediacy of why she was here, with him, in this house, was pulled into clear focus.

“What made you return to my father’s place when you did, Ash? How did you come to find me?”

“I go up to the Broken Bar mesa sometimes. The view of the valley on a clear, cold night is surreal.” A pause. “I needed to think.” After seeing you. The unspoken words seemed to simmer between them. “Someplace above it all. Then as the moon rose, I caught light glinting off metal where your father’s place was. I thought it might be a vehicle, so I went to check before heading home.” He paused. “You could have died out there.”

Rebecca swallowed as this fact sank like a stone through her gut.

“Have you been sitting there watching me like that all night?”

“You worried me,” he said. Then, very quietly, he added, “And I like to look at you.” He paused. “It’s been so long.”
 

 
 
 

 

SUMMARY:

First in a new series from national bestselling author Kylie Logan, The Scent of Murder is a riveting mystery following Jazz Ramsey as she trains cadaver dogs.

The way Jazz Ramsey figures it, life is pretty good. She’s thirty-five years old and owns her own home in one of Cleveland’s most diverse, artsy, and interesting neighborhoods. She has a job she likes as an administrative assistant at an all-girls school, and a volunteer interest she’s passionate about—Jazz is a cadaver dog handler.

The Scent of Murder

Jazz is working with Luther, a cadaver dog in training. Luther is still learning cadaver work, so Jazz is putting him through his paces at an abandoned building that will soon be turned into pricey condos. When Luther signals a find, Jazz is stunned to see the body of a young woman who is dressed in black and wearing the kind of make-up and jewelry that Jazz used to see on the Goth kids back in high school.

She’s even more shocked when she realizes that beneath the tattoos and the piercings and all that pale make up is a familiar face.

The lead detective on the case is an old lover, and the murdered woman is an old student. Jazz finds herself sucked into the case, obsessed with learning the truth.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY:

KYLIE LOGAN is the national bestselling author of The League of Literary Ladies Mysteries, the Button Box Mysteries, the Chili Cook-Off Mysteries, and the Ethnic Eats Mysteries. The Scent of Murder is the first in a new series.

Buy Links:

Amazon

B&N

iBooks

Powells

IndieBound


Social Links:

https://twitter.com/KylieLoganBks

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CHAPTER 1

It had rained that afternoon and the sidewalks were still wet. When the last of the evening light hit them, the slate squares reflected Jazz Ramsey’s neighborhood—streetlights, and the neon signs that flashed from the windows of the trendy pubs, and a watery rendering of St. John Cantius church, an urban Monet masterpiece, its tan brick walls and bell tower blurred. Even though it was officially spring, the wind off Lake Erie was wicked. Jazz bundled her shoulder-length brown hair into a loose ponytail and pulled up the hood of her sweatshirt, then hunched further into her North Face jacket. She stopped at a corner, waiting for the light to change, and was pleased

when Luther sat down at her side even without a command. “Good dog,” she was sure to tell him at the same time she

breathed in the combined smell of damp earth and the dis- carded bag from Taco Bell crumpled near the curb.

To Luther’s credit, he ignored whatever bits and bites of

Mexican cuisine might still be in the bag. But then, he’d been trained to follow different scents. When the light changed, he trotted along when Jazz crossed the street, his pace as brisk as hers, and the way he pricked his ears and cocked his head, she knew he sensed the exhilaration that vibrated from her hand through his leash. Luther knew it was almost time to get down to business.

Here, College Avenue started its downhill trek into the Cleveland Flats, the city’s once-booming industrial heart. These days, Clevelanders were more likely to work in health care or IT than in foundries and factories, but one hundred years ago, this was the route thousands of workers took each day from their homes in bluecollar Tremont—it was simply called the South Side then—to the fiery furnaces that pro- duced America’s steel.

“Were not going far,” Jazz assured Luther at the same time she noticed the couple who stumbled out of the Treehouse just up ahead made sure to give the massive German shepherd a wide berth. “Just over here,” she told him once they’d passed the open door to the bar and the blaring music that seeped onto the street wasnt quite so loud. “Over to the new condos.” They stopped outside a sturdy brick building nearly ninety years old with solid walls and a slate roof. By the end of sum- mer, Jazz imagined there would be gleaming glass in the win- dow frames where there was plywood now, and window boxes, too, no doubt, and cars parked outside that reflected the status-conscious success of the young professionals she’d

heard were already lined up to buy.

But not tonight.

Tonight the building was empty and dark and she had it all to herself.

It was the perfect place to put Luther through his paces.

Still hanging on to the dog’s leash with one hand, Jazz fished the key from her pocket with the other and silently thanked Ken Zelinsky, the site supervisor, who’d agreed to give her an hour’s time inside the building.

It wasn’t easy to find urban training sites for a human remains detection dog.

She swung open the door and slanted Luther a look. So what do you think?”

Luther sat, his tail thumping out a rhythm of excitement on the front stoop, and before she unhooked his leash, Jazz did a quick run-through of what she’d learned from his owner. Luther was a little over two years old, good-natured. He could be as playful as any pup, but he had a serious side, too. Like now, when he had to work.

“He’s a smart dog,” Greg Johnson had insisted when he begged Jazz to help with the final stages of Luther’s training. “He just needs some reinforcement from a really good handler. That’s you, Jazz.”

It was.

Or at least it used to be.

These days, Jazz was feeling a little rusty. She was out of practice, not in the mood. It was one of the reasons that, after hemming and hawing and finding excuse after excuse, she’d finally agreed to Greg’s request. She needed to shake herself out of her funk, and to her way of thinking, there was no better way to do that than with a dog.

She stepped into the long, narrow entryway of the build- ing with its rows of broken mailboxes along one wall, and shut the front door behind her. The eerie quiet of years of ne- glect closed around her along with the smell of dampness and decay, rotted wiring and musty tiles carried by an errant breeze. Feeling her way, she unsnapped the leash from Luther’s collar and gave him the command she’d devised for all the dogs she worked with because it was less ghoulish than saying “Find the dead guy!

“Find Henry! she told him, and she stepped back and out of Luther’s way.

Like all HRD dogs, Luther was that rare combination independent enough to go off on his own and loyal enough to owner and handler to need praise. But he didn’t know Jazz well, and smart dog that he was, he wanted to be certain. He glanced over his shoulder at her.

You know what to do, Luther. You dont need Greg here to tell you.” She swept a hand along her side. “Find Henry!”

In fact, what Jazz hoped the dog would do was clear both the first and second floors in record time and head up to the third floor where that afternoon she’d hidden a human tooth (a donation from her mother, Claire, who, at the age of fifty- two, had decided she wanted the kind of sparkling smile she’d seen on so many models and had begun to see an orthodon- tist). Human teeth contained enough scent to attract a prop- erly trained dog’s attention. If Luther was on his game—and she hoped he was because she hated the thought of telling Greg his dog wasn’t ready for the grueling volunteer work done by dogs and handlers—he would locate the tooth, signal by bark-

ing three times, and chomp on the treat she would use as a reward while she secured the scene and made a simulated call to the cops, just as she would do if they made a real find.

“You gonna get a move on or what? she asked Luther, her voice falling flat against the pitted plaster. “Find Henry!”

In a flash of black and sable, the dog took off down the darkened hallway.

After nearly ten years training and handling cadaver dogs, Jazz knew the ropes. She couldn’t give Luther a hint about where to go or what he was looking for so she kept back, let- ting him work, refusing to influence him by her demeanor or her movements. She heard his claws scramble on the tile floor somewhere in the dark up ahead, flicked on her high-powered flashlight, and followed.

Some dogs, like pointers, are air sniffers. Some, like blood- hounds, keep their noses to the ground. No matter their breed, cadaver dogs, by virtue of their work, have to be pro- ficient at both. They are trained as trailing dogs to pick up the scent that has fallen from decomposing bodies onto the ground, and as air-scenting dogs as well, so they can detect any smell of decomposition that’s carried on the breeze. By the time she located him in a back room of what had once been a four-room working-class apartment, Luther was hard at work.

His eyes focused and every inch of his muscular body at the ready, he drew in a breath then hurried back and forth, side to side, through what had once been a kitchen, in an at- tempt to catch the strongest scent.

Not here. On the third floor.

Jazz knew better than to say it. Part of an HRD dog’s gift

was to eliminate one area so dog and handler could move on to the next. Luther was doing his job, and he was doing it well. She had to remember to compliment Greg on his training methods.

Nose to the fl or, his ears pricked, Luther cleared the kitchen and headed into the back bedrooms. Jazz kicked a piece of fallen tile out of the way, but she kept her place. She would wait quietly until the dog emerged from the back rooms and when he headed out into the hallway, she would follow.

At least that was her plan. Until Luther barked.

Once. Twice. Three times.

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