Tuesday, February 20, 2018


A Pirate at Pembroke by Danielle Thorne

A Jane Austen-inspired Pirate Romance

Sophie Crestwood is never going to catch a husband, and she isn’t even sure she wants one. Her father is a gossip, her mother always has her nose in a book, and little Jack has shamefully been dismissed from boarding school. Worst of all, a pirate moves next door into Pembroke Hall!

When Sophie’s sent to a matchmaking party at a neighboring estate, the pirate from Pembroke arrives and distracts everyone from the summer festivities. Unguarded, her feelings about the mysterious Captain Murdock bloom into a trusted friendship that Sophie fears may come to mean much more than anyone would ever suspect. Keeping company with a reputed pirate is one thing but falling in love with him could ruin the eccentric Crestwood family for good.

Danielle Thorne's book A PIRATE AT PEMBROKE is up for nomination in the Kindle Scout Contest.

Please vote for her book!

If Kindle Scout selects A PIRATE AT PEMBROKE for publication you'll get a copy of the book for free!


The sad sonata continued its siren's call. It echoed a passionate and haunting melody, just like the dark halls of Pembroke with its soiled paintings of aristocrats from long ago. Sophie examined the chamber doors through the gloom and decided the door to the second room on the left was slightly ajar with a dim light shimmering around it. She moved in silence to the small gap and caught her breath.

Captain Murdock stood in front of a languid fire burning beneath a marble mantel. One bare foot was balanced on a low, milking stool nestled up against a heavy, velvet-covered chair. The other kept time on the floor. With his cane leaning against the fireplace, Murdock stood balanced on his own. In his hands, a violin tucked underneath his chin swayed. It moved in time with his body as he performed a strange dance to the music. His profile in the firelight was sharp and clear. He stood slender and tall. In these private bedchambers, half-dressed in loose buckskin breeches and an untucked shirt open at the neck, he did not seem as rigid and menacing as before. From his dreamy stare, his thoughts were somewhere inside the flickering blue and orange flames. The reflection of the firelight made his pale eyes glow.

Sophie noticed his hair was undone. It hung far past his neck, with slight waves resting on his broad upper back on either side of his shoulders. She put a hand to her mouth realizing it had fallen open, and at the same time, that it was scandalous to spy on her host. She swallowed and stepped away. The music stopped in mid-cry. Her heart jumped in her chest, and for a brief pause, the only sound to be heard was her own loud breathing. She stepped back and pivoted on her heel.

Horrified he might have felt her examination, she strode down the rug-lined hallway as quietly as she could, but each footfall sounded like muffled thunder as she hurried back to the stairs. She reached the banister and slipped down the first step, but her shift snagged on something, and she spun about to free it.

Captain Murdock stood behind her, silent. He held a handful of her shift in his fist. She had not snagged it after all. Rather, he had snagged her. She jerked in surprise, but his hold kept her from falling backward and tumbling down the stairs. His other hand trembled as it balanced precariously on a carved dragon head at the top of his cane.

"What do you think you are doing?"

"I… I heard music and followed it."

His eyes blazed with accusation, and it unnerved her.

"I'm so sorry," she said in a choking voice. Her nose tingled again. She touched it with her fingers to make it stop.

"It's not possible you heard music from all the way down in your room."

Sophie took a nervous breath. He stood there, one step above her like a giant, her bedclothes gripped in his hand so tight it shook. She hadn't heard him shuffle down the hall after her. He moved as silent as a ghost when he wanted -- even with a cane. She found the courage to meet his penetrating gaze. "I did hear something from my room. Then I was in the hall."

Captain Murdock waited for a long pause, while the dust they had stirred up in the rugs pirouetted in the air and into Sophie's eyes and nose. "You should not be out of bed," he said.

Sophie swallowed down her frightened apprehension. She tried to beg his pardon, but her lungs failed her, and she coughed in reflex. She covered her mouth with her fingers. "I'm so sorry," she repeated between them, her cheeks hot with humiliation. She stared at the fistful of her garments he'd snatched, aware his eyes examined her from her straight, waist-length hair down to her naked ankles. With a jerk, he dropped her shift like it burned his hand.

"Go to bed," he said in a quiet voice.

Sophie's nose had not quit tingling and itching. "Yes, sir," she said at once, but not soon enough to keep a sneeze from erupting. It came so fast and without warning, she had no chance to catch it before it doused him with all her rejection.

Horrified, she stumbled down the next step, thankful the old handrail held fast. When she glanced back, he was wiping off his shirt with a look of disgust.

Author Danielle Thorne

Danielle Thorne is the author of classic romance and adventure in several genres. She loves Jane Austen, pirates, beaches, cookies, antiques, cats, dogs, and long naps. She does not like phone calls or sushi. A graduate of Ricks College and BYU-Idaho, Danielle saw early work published by Every Day Fiction, Arts and Prose Magazine, Mississippi Crow, The Nantahala Review, StorySouth, and… you get the idea. Besides writing, she’s edited for both Solstice and Desert Breeze Publishing. Her growing blog, The Balanced Writer, focuses on writing, life, and the pursuit of peace and happiness. Currently, Danielle freelances as a non-fiction author while waiting to hear from readers like you through her website. During free time, which means when Netflix is down, she combs through feedback and offers virtual hugs for reviews. A Pirate at Pembroke is her newest release. Her non-fiction book, The Story of Queen Victoria 200 Years After Her Birth, is coming fall 2018.

Giveaway Details

$25 Amazon Gift Code or $25 PayPal Cash

Ends 3/15/18

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 19, 2018


Convenient Lies

Hidden Truth Book 1
Robin Patchen
Christian Romantic Suspense


Of course, no matter where in the world she was, she could never have
stayed hidden, not as long as he was willing to kill innocent people
until he found her. The question was, had he stopped killing people,
or was she next on his list?”

She married her enemy…

When investigative journalist Reagan McAdams discovers her new husband is
part of an international crime family, she flees Paris with their
newborn and returns to her childhood home in New Hampshire, where
she’ll gather her inheritance before she disappears forever. She’ll
do whatever it takes to protect her son from his criminal father.

He never quit loving her.

Detective Brady Thomas discovers Rae is back and in trouble, and he plans to
protect her and her son, whether she wants his help or not.

The death toll rises.

But when Rae's husband starts killing people to smoke her out, she has to
decide what—and who—she’ll have to sacrifice to save her son.


Rae was turning the page when a creak startled her. She set the album on the bed beside her, then listened.

A whispered word. “Hurry.”

Rae’s pulse raced. Had Julien found her? Had she waited a day too long?

She slid off the bed and tiptoed down the hall and into the bedroom where her phone was charging. She closed the door behind her, then grabbed the cell and dialed 9-1-1.

“What’s your emergen—”

“There someone in my house,” she whispered. “At least two people.” She stepped in front of the cradle, stared at the door, and recited her address.

After the operator had asked all the required questions, Rae dropped the phone on the bed. She flipped on the closet light. The baby snored gently while Rae searched her old closet for something, anything... She grabbed an award she’d won for an article in the local paper—an oversize brass pen on a stone stand. That might do some damage. She returned to her place between the door and her child, lifted the award in her right hand, and prepared to swing it.

Seconds ticked by. She heard nothing. No voices. No footsteps. No doors opening or closing. Minutes passed. Years. She pleaded with the silence. Protect Johnny, please. Just keep him safe.

Twisted Lies
Hidden Truth Book 2

398 pages

peered down the stairs, toward the street, at the sidewalk. Her
sister and her daughter had been there just a moment before. They
should have been staring back up at her, waving, smiling. But they
were gone.”

She thought they’d never find her…

Marisa Vega’s life as an adoptive mom in a tiny Mexican village isn’t
what she’d dreamed while growing up in New York, but as the target
of a man who’s convinced she stole millions from him, Marisa
believes hiding is her only way to stay alive. When her daughter is
snatched and held for ransom, Marisa must discover who really stole
the money in order to rescue her. 

He swore he’d never play the hero again.

Months after being kidnapped, tortured, and left with PTSD, Nate Boyle is
ready to live a quiet life in rural New Hampshire. When the source of
his breakout newspaper article—and the woman who haunts his
dreams—begs for help, he gets pulled into a riddle that’s proved
unsolvable for nearly a decade. 

Can Nate and Marisa unravel the years-old mystery and bring her daughter home?

Romance, suspense, and a darling four-year-old girl you’ll fall in love with.  
* Apple
* B&N
* Kobo

Generous Lies
Hidden Truth Book 3

390 pages

A pistol pressed against his son’s temple. A dark hand came into
view, then an arm. Then a man came from behind the door and lifted
his finger to his lips.”

He had no idea it was so bad.

Former FBI agent Garrison Kopp suspected his teenage son was in trouble, but
a midnight summons to the ER reveals the drug problem is more
serious than he thought. Desperate to get his son away from negative
influences, he asks a beautiful and kind new friend who owns rental
properties for a place to stay. 

She’ll help, as long as she doesn’t have to risk anything.

Vacation homeowner Samantha Messenger is happy to provide Garrison and his son
a lake cabin where they can regroup. She helps him search for a good
rehab facility and tries not to hope for more than friendship. After
what she’s been through, more isn’t an option, no matter what her
heart wants.

Big trouble comes in tiny packages. 

Sparks fly between them as Sam and Garrison work together to help the
resistant teen. 

But that becomes the least of their problems when a package planted in
Garrison’s car lures enemies to the idyllic cabin on the lake. With
their lives—and love—on the line, can they protect all they hold dear?

Innocent Lies
Hidden Truth Book 4

"Kelsey didn’t want to reach for Carlos. Didn’t want to willingly walk to
him. But she had to do what she could for Eric. Maybe Carlos would
let her see him one last time. She took Carlos’s hand, swallowed a
sob, and stepped into the house."

A lost little boy steals his heart.

When Eric finds eight-year-old Daniel alone in the woods, he has no idea
where the boy came from or how he's survived the wintery New
Hampshire weather. He figures once he hands the boy off to child
services, his part in Daniel's drama will be over. He couldn't be
more wrong.

She’ll do anything to keep her son safe. 

Kelsey  sneaks into Nutfield with a goal and a secret, but when she's
arrested and sees Eric, her first and only love, all her plans to
expose her enemy fall apart. 

The past catches up with them.

Together, Eric and Kelsey fight to protect Daniel, an innocent child caught in
a dangerous game. Can Eric help Kelsey bring down her enemies without
risking his heart...again? Will Kelsey have to walk away from the
only man she's ever loved...again?

* Apple
* B&N
* Kobo

Robin Patchen writes contemporary Christian suspense, romance, and romantic
suspense. Her books are often set in New England, where she grew up.
She creates strong, protective heroes and intelligent, courageous

Aside from her family and her Savior, Robin Patchen has two loves—writing
and traveling. If she could combine them, she’d spend a lot of time
sitting in front of her laptop at sidewalk cafes and ski lodges and
beachside burger joints. She’d visit every place in the entire
world—twice, if possible—and craft stories and tell people about
her Savior. Alas, time is too short and money is too scarce for Robin
to traipse all over the globe, even if her husband and kids wanted to
go with her. So she stays in Oklahoma, shares the Good News when she
can, and writes to illustrate the unending grace of God through the
power and magic of story.

Write What Who You Know

By Robin Patchen

They say write what you know. Maybe I’ve led a boring life, but I don’t know all that much interesting stuff. I’ve covered some subjects I know well. For instance, in the third book in the Hidden Truth series, Generous Lies, I wrote about a father trying to rescue his son from drug addiction. Unfortunately, I navigated that particular minefield with my older son. (Thank God Nick has been sober for over two years and is doing great!)

I’ve written a number of stories with heroines who have events in their pasts they’re ashamed of, and perhaps many of their feelings stem from my own.

But honestly, I’ve lived a pretty mundane life. I can’t say that when I wrote about an international crime family in Convenient Lies or a company filled with crooked mortgage brokers in Twisted Lies that I was writing from experience. (By the way, if you’d like to sample my writing for free, click here to download Convenient Lies for free.)

Usually, I don’t write what I know. But I do write WHO I know.

Not that my characters are carbon copies of people in my life—please don’t start looking for my best friends or worst enemies in my books. But often, I’ll give a character a personality quirk that I observed in a friend. I’ve given characters similar speech patterns as people I know, and similar facial expressions. I’ve used professions and attitudes of friends, too.

But in my latest book, I went farther than that. I actually patterned a character off my youngest son, Jacob.

In Innocent Lies, Daniel is an eight-year-old who’s left in the woods alone. He’s scared he’s never going to see his mom again and worried about trusting the police officer who finds him and terrified of the dog that looks like he’s about to attack. But Daniel is also adorably cute, just like my Jacob. He wears glasses like Jake. He loves to skateboard like Jake did at that age. He’s super smart and very talented, just like my boy.

I don’t know why I did it. Maybe because I needed a little boy, and Jake is somebody I knew well. Maybe because I miss little eight-year-old Jake. Not that sixteen-year-old Jake isn’t awesome, but he’s not the same. Maybe because I couldn’t think of any better personality traits than those I could find in my own kid. And maybe I’m a little biased.

But really, isn’t he adorable?

Jake… er, Daniel doesn’t play much of a role in Innocent Lies, but he does start and end the story.
And then there’s the dog, Magic, who looks suspiciously like my Dixie. And acts like her. And runs like her.

So I don’t write what I know, I write who I know—and I put them in situations I wouldn’t wish on any real folks I’ve ever met. So maybe you don’t want to get too close to me. You could be next.

Find Robin on the web here:
Website: http://robinpatchen.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RobinPatchen/
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/robin-patchen
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5187882.Robin_Patchen
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Robin-Patchen/e/B00A289790/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/robinpatchen

the tour HERE
for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

Friday, February 16, 2018



Congratulations to Sharon Guagliardo! Sharon, please let me know your mailing address so I can send your prize.

High Stakes
Betting Hearts
Lilly Cain

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Rom-Com

All I ever wanted is happening this weekend.

Or at least it might happen. If I don't screw it up. A lot can go wrong
when you are sneaking around a Las Vegas hotel between a poker
tournament and a romance writer's convention. And secretly attending
both. More can go wrong when the one man you ever really wanted is
there too, and he's watching. He's like a spy on a mission, always
trying to keep me out of trouble.

He saved me once from drowning. He's my brother's best friend and I've
wanted him since I was old enough to know what that means. But for
him I've been off limits, the stakes were too high.

How could I resist making him the hero of my book? How will he react when
he finds out?


“What do you think, we go hit the tables after we get done here? Get some practice in?” Connor grinned at her. She couldn’t help but grin back. Her big brother never seemed to run out of enthusiasm when it came to poker. They’d been standing in line for ten minutes, which wasn’t bad, but there were at least a dozen people ahead, waiting to register at The Princess Resort, Las Vegas. She shifted her shoulder bag. The thing weighed a ton, but she wasn’t about to put it down with Connor right beside her. Knowing him, he’d pick it up for her and then demand what made it so blasted heavy.

One manuscript, 347 double-spaced pages of love, lust and happy ending. Her manuscript. The thought made her want to do a little dance, right here in the lobby. Jenn Riley, author.

The line shuffled forward. Although there were three clerks on the hotel registration desk, getting checked in was taking forever. The place was huge, and the signs of the two ongoing events everywhere—the poker tournament she was playing in with her brother and his two friends and the romance writers’ conference taking place in the larger ballrooms and meeting venues. The writers’ conference she planned to secretly attend.

Connor and his friends had no idea she’d agreed to come with them when their fourth had broken a leg at his job, only because she could get to the writers’ con from the poker tourney simply by crossing the hotel lobby. Her brother had teased her mercilessly about her love for romance novels when growing up, and if he heard she’d written one…

She shook her head.

Connor frowned. “What, you jetlagged?”

“Uh, a little. I think I might just chill a little, grab a swim and some time by the pool. Soak up some desert heat,” she murmured distractedly.

Connor sighed but accepted her plan and then rambled on about the tournament, who he thought might be there this year, how tough they were. Like they hadn’t gone over it at home. And at the airport. And on the plane. She stifled a sigh. The team competition worked on points, each player in their own division, and Connor had a hundred strategies, or more, since he had a female player on his team this time and could enter the new division. She liked poker, loved it, really. It was fun and she was good, thus the invite when Connor needed a fourth. But what she wouldn’t give to go over and say hello to the authors gathering near the bar. They had to be authors. All women, gathered in circles, getting glasses of wine and talking about…what? Their new plot? Who had what book coming out next? She wet her lips and shuffled ahead in line.

Minutes later they were registered into adjoining rooms, Jenn in one and Connor in the other. His poker-partner buddies were apparently already checked into their rooms on the floor above. Connor texted them as Jenn watched a large screen to the right of the registration table. Conference information scrolled over the panel. She chewed her lip when she read the registration times for both events. Damn. Nearly the same time for both, and on opposite sides of the hotel. She’d have to catch the late registration for the writers’ conference.

She walked with Connor to the elevator. The noise as they passed the bar was amazing, the place abuzz with what had to be a hundred women, all chatting and laughing, drinks in hand. She let a little wave of jealousy slide through her. If she’d had a little more money, she would have been here on her own instead of with her brother. She’d be in there with those women, meeting and greeting and rubbing shoulders with the authors she read every night. Soon though. After two years of playing with her book, it was done. Her career as a writer was about to begin and her life was about to change.

She dropped off her luggage in the room, nice enough for a hotel this size but she wouldn’t have much time to enjoy it. Then it was off to explore and maybe meet up with the one author she did know at the convention, Nancy Clarke, a seasoned veteran of these events who helped with online pitch classes. It would be nice to finally put a face with the name.

She had more than one plan for the weekend, after all. Excitement zipped through her as she headed back down the elevator and detoured toward the pool. She had to at least say she’d seen it.
This trip was all about changing her life. Starting her writing career, placing high enough in the tournament to win the cash she needed to have the freedom to start her next novel without working.

She watched an older lady in an elegant pantsuit chatting with two younger women in suits near a large pool tent marked with the convention logo. Was that who she thought it was? Her heart beat a little harder. Hello, fangirl moment.

No way was she missing this opportunity.

She strode toward her—the Nora—and almost bumped into a young woman carrying drinks toward the tent. Jenn swerved, fought for balance, lost. At the last second, she threw her bag to the safety of a nearby lounger. It was the least she could do for her literary baby before she ended up in the deep end.

Unfortunately, she never had learned to swim.

A large, warm hand grabbed her by the shoulders and dragged her to the surface. She struggled, a bit desperate to get out of the water, but more so not to drown in front of her idol. Seconds later she was unceremoniously dumped on the tiles beside the pool where she sputtered for a moment before she noticed the hands running over her body and moved to protest. Only she couldn’t quite catch her breath.

Warning: This book contains awkward situations, fan-girling, laughter, heat, and love!

**Only .99 cents!!**

Lilly Cain is a wild woman with a deep throaty laugh, plunging necklines
and a great lover of all things sensual - perfume, chocolate, silk!
She never has to worry about finding a date or keeping a man in line.
She keeps her blond hair long and curly, wears beautiful clothes and
loves loud music. Lilly lives her private life in the pages of her

All of the above is a bit of silliness. When not living up to her pen
name, Lilly lives in Atlantic Canada, although she spent eight years
in Bermuda, enjoying the heat and the pink sands. She returned to her
homeland so she could see the changing of the seasons once again.
When not writing she paints, swills coffee and vodka (but not
together), and fights her writing pals for chocolate (true story). 

Lilly is a single mom who loves reading and writing, dabbling in art and
loving and caring for her two daughters. She loves romance and the
freedom erotic fantasy provides her imagination. She loves the
chilling moments in her novels as much as the steaming hot
interludes. Her stories are an escape and a release, and she hopes
that they can give you that power, too.

the tour HERE
for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Happy ♥ Valentines ♥ Day! 

I am especially excited because today is the release of DANIEL McCLINTOCK, book four of the McClintock series! Writing this series has been difficult but fun. Tons of research went into the series even though readers see only a fraction of the foundation built by the investigations. 

If you haven't yet commented to be entered into the contest for a bag of swag, print books, and a box of chocolates, don't fret. You have until midnight on Thursday, February 15, to enter. I’ll announce the winner of the ♥ Valentine’s ♥ Day Contest on February 16.

For those who haven’t read the series, in McCLINTOCK’S RELUCTANT BRIDE, book 3, Daniel McClintock was left paralyzed from the waist down when a villain shot his horse, the horse pinned Daniel’s legs, and Daniel’s back was broken when he landed on a rock. In the area of Texas near Bandera and Medina, there are limestone outcroppings and the rocks can sometimes have sharp edges.

Needless to say, I could not sentence this nice young man to a lifetime of being an invalid. But, what kind of physical therapy was around in 1888? Well, almost none, at least not in the United States. In Amsterdam and nearby, a new type of treatment for paralytics had been developed called mechanotherapy. The practitioner of this was called a heilgymnast.

Fortunately for Daniel, Clara Van Hoosan is an expert at mechanotherapy. When the McClintock family’s family doctor writes for help for Daniel, he is told the hospital clinic is sending their best student, C. R. Van Hoosan. Everyone expects a man.

When Daniel meets Clara, tempers flare. Eventually, a new kind of sparks fly. Can Clara help Daniel regain use of his legs? Then what? Will she have to move on to another place?

My friend, Skhye Moncrief, created the cover. Don't you love the result?

I hope you will read DANIEL McCLINTOCK. The buy link is http://a.co/37QmqYD Remember, the first of this series, THE TEXAN'S IRISH BRIDE, is free. 

In the meantime, have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Thanks to each of you who has bought my books. I couldn’t continue without you!


Happy Valentine's Day! Have you been commenting to enter my ♥ Valentine's Day ♥ Contest? If not, do so today to be entered for a box of swag, signed print books, and chocolates. 

The winner will be announced at the end of this post on the 15th and on Facebook and Twitter. 

Today is a celebration for me! Today is the release for my 42nd title (not counting box sets). Naturally, I am excited and hope readers are, too.

DANIEL McCLINTOCK is book 4 of the McClintock series. I love the people in this series (except for the villains, of course). I feel I’d recognize them if I met them in person.

Since that isn’t likely to happen, I content myself with bringing them from my head into life in electronic and paper forms. I hope they become as alive for readers as they are for me. This story is set in 1888. The heroine, Clara, uses what would now be called physical therapy but was then called mechanotherapy. This treatment originated in Amsterdam, Holland and was just emerging as feasible for paralytics worldwide.

Here is a bit about DANIEL McCLINTOCK:

A compassionate woman…
Clara Van Hoosan entered training when she finished school at sixteen in Amsterdam, Holland. Now, at twenty-two, she is one of the best heilgymnast in the new field of mechanotherapy. When her supervisor receives a request for someone to travel to Texas in America and help a paralytic patient, Clara is pleased to accept. On her arrival in McClintock Falls, she is surprised that the patient she thought would be a teenage boy is a very handsome man her age.

A desperate man…
Two years ago Daniel McClintock was paralyzed from the waist down. He is deeply discouraged and wonders if he is bound to live his life as an invalid. Normally cheerful but shy, each week he becomes more depressed but not idle. He keeps books for the ranch and paints landscapes with sales donated to the church. The local doctor learns of a new type of treatment developed in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Daniel can’t go there, so his family writes for a therapist trained in the new treatment to come to them.

A surprise arrives…
Everyone is expecting a man when Clara Van Hoosan arrives. As she and Daniel work together, they become attracted. She believes his is the normal attachment a patient feels toward a therapist and will fade once he’s healed. She tries to hide her feelings for him. Daniel knows she’s The One if only he can convince her to remain in McClintock Falls.

Amazon Buy Link for DANIEL McCLINTOCKhttp://a.co/37QmqYD 

Here’s an excerpt from the first morning after Clara arrives:

The next morning, Clara dressed carefully. For therapy work, she wore a muslin split skirt and shirtwaist without a corset. The ensemble allowed her the flexibility needed to work with a patient. The white fabric reminded her of a nursing sister.
She hurried to check on Daniel. He lay on his back, staring at the ceiling. Glancing around the room, she saw numerous paintings. She recognized the ranch’s landscape in three. Others showed horses, two in which the horses were alone and two with groups of horses.
“Good morning, Daniel. Dr. Sullivan mentioned you paint well and I see he was correct.” She walked the length of the room and back, admiring the lovely paintings. “These are beautiful.”
“They’re for Roan’s store to sell and donate the money to the church.”
“Shall I help you get ready for the day?” She reached for his sheet.
He batted away her hand. “Don’t think you’re going to be helping me. You run along and do whatever it is women do each morning.”
“This woman helps you. I hoped you would reconsider after thinking overnight. We can do this peacefully or in an all-out war, but I will help you.”
He screwed up his face and mocked, “‘I vill helf you’. You can’t even speak proper English.”
She raised an eyebrow. “I am sure my English is far better than your Dutch.”
“Are you so eager to see a man’s privates that you’re willing to help me? Does ogling a man intimately get you all hot and bothered?”
She fanned her throat and pretended to pant. “Oh, yes, I just adore looking at piss and feces.” With one yank, she snapped the sheet from atop him.
“Hey, you… you can’t do that.”
“I already have.” After pouring water into the pitcher, she wrung out a clean wash cloth and carried it and the towel to his bed. She grabbed one of the clean cloths used as his diapers.
He scooted up on his pillows and put out a hand. “Get away, do you hear?”
“How could I not? I am sure men working in the barn heard you. You may as well save your breath. We will start your bath with your face.”
He grabbed the wash cloth from her. “I can wash myself.”
“If you wish.” When he’d cleaned his face and torso, she rolled him to lie on his chest and washed his back and pulled the covering from his posterior.
He raised up so he rested on his elbows. “Hey, what are you doing?”
“Checking your skin. Your mother has done a wonderful job of preventing bedsores. There is one tiny area on each of your hips where tissue has changed.”
“You said there weren’t any bedsores.”
“That is right, but these places must be watched carefully or there will be. Now that you will be moving more, that should help.”
She touched a scar low on his spine. “You are fortunate the damage to your spine is so low. Otherwise I would not anticipate you regaining use of your legs. Now that I have seen the injury, I believe you can learn to walk.”
He craned his neck so he could look up at her. “Lady, if I were fortunate, I wouldn’t be paralyzed in the first place.”

I hope readers will love Daniel as much as I do. He and Clara make a perfect couple, in my opinion. Together they forge a future that combines both their hopes and dreams.

Writers never give up. I’m at work on my next project, a time travel trilogy. I don’t have the covers yet, but will post them when I do.

Keep reading! Please leave a review, too.

Monday, February 12, 2018


Any comment on today's post also enters you in Caroline's ♥ Valentine's Day ♥ Contest.

Date Published:  2/1/18
Publisher:  Encircle Publications

 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

It’s November in the Berkshires, a dreary time of dwindling light when the tourists have fled along with the last gasp of fall foliage. So when a stranger shows up in the sleepy hilltown of New Nottingham and starts asking questions, the locals don’t exactly roll out the welcome wagon.

            Bostonian Kathryn Stinson is on a deeply personal quest to solve a family mystery: the identity of a nameless beauty in an old photograph an ancestor brought with him to California over a century ago. But, as Kathryn quickly discovers, the hills possess a host of dark secrets – both ancient and new – that can only be revealed at the price of danger and even death.

Her suspicious neighbors on Rattlesnake Hill become openly hostile when Kathryn starts seeking answers to a more recent mystery: the murder of Diana Farley, who once occupied the house Kathryn is now renting. Was it Diana’s husband, who killed her to keep her from divorcing him, or her lover, Earl Barker, a backwoods charmer and leading member of a wild clan known for their violent tempers?

When Kathryn plunges into a passionate affair with Earl, she puts herself on a collision course with past and present. She must find out if Earl killed Diana, or risk becoming a victim herself.


Chapter 1

Three families lived on Rattlesnake Hill when I was a girl. At the top of the hill you had the Whittemores. They were rich folks from New York City. They built a big, brick house and spent the summers there. That mansion seemed like paradise to us Judds. We’d look up at it from our farm and pretend we were just a few rungs below the Pearly Gates. Beyond the Whittemores, you had the Barkers. They were a different sort. Backsliders, we called ’em, because everyone agreed they’d fallen from grace long ago. They lived on the wild back side of the hill, among the timber rattlesnakes. They made money off those snakes in the early days. They’d bring the tails to the town treasurer for a reward of two pennies a tail. Folks said it was the rattlesnake venom in their blood gave ’em such violent tempers.
−Recollections of Emily Goodale

“Whaddya think?” Brandy Russo asked, as they wrapped up the tour of the house on Rattlesnake Hill.

“It’s nice, but . . .” Kathryn didn’t want to sound too eager, lest the realtor jack up the rent. Also, the house seemed almost too good to be true. There must be a catch somewhere.

“Look what you’re getting,” Brandy barged on. “Charming shingle-style contemporary on eighteen secluded acres. Three bedrooms. One and one-half baths. Large, fully equipped kitchen. Separate dining room. Spacious living room. At $1000 a month this place is a steal.”

It was a bargain all right, but Kathryn wasn’t quite ready to commit. “I’m surprised no one’s snatched it up already.”

Brandy coughed. “A family had it for the summer and through the leaf-peeping season. But once the foliage was gone, they split. As for skiers, forget it. Gordon Farley—he’s the owner—won’t rent to them.”

“Why not?”

“Tenants-from-hell. Come in droves, track snow onto lovely hardwood floors like these.” Brandy tapped a pegged oak floorboard with the stubbed toe of her high heel. “Party all night and nearly set the house on fire fiddling with that.” She jabbed a bitten-down nail at the white enameled Scandinavian wood stove that stood on a slate hearth in the living room. “Leave a ton of trash behind, too. Whereas someone like you,” her voice switched to a soft purr, “is an ideal tenant. Single but mature. No kids, no pets.”

“I . . . um . . . have a cat.”

“One little kitty won’t bother Gordon,” Brandy backpedaled. “Not with the menagerie he talked about having here. One week it was quail, the next, llamas, then buffalo.”

Kathryn smiled. “Sounds like a frustrated zookeeper.”

“More like a gentleman farmer with time on his hands and money to burn.”
A sour note crept into Brandy’s voice. Did it reflect the attitude of a struggling local toward a wealthy outsider? Kathryn had only spent a few hours with Brandy, yet already she sensed a grittiness born of adversity.

Brandy appeared to be several years older than Kathryn; late thirties or early forties. She might have been pretty once, but now her dirty blonde hair hung lank and lusterless, and fault-lines showed in her face despite a heavy coat of make-up. Her breath and clothes reeked of nicotine, the rank odor Kathryn associated with dirty dishes and despair.

“What’d you say you’re gonna do while you’re here?” Brandy asked.


“This have to do with your job?”

“Actually not. My ancestors lived in New Nottingham over a hundred years ago, and I want to find out more about them.”

“A hundred years ago—wow!” Brandy’s glazed expression belied her enthusiasm. “But you’ve got a paying job, don’t you?”

Kathryn nodded. “I’m the curator of prints and photographs at a small private library in Boston. I’m able to take time off, because the building’s being renovated, and the collection I oversee is in storage. So there’s not much for me to do right now. Still, I plan on keeping in touch with my boss. How’s the internet connection here?”

“Fine,” Brandy said quickly.

“There’s Wi-Fi?”

“The village doesn’t have cable yet, but I’m sure it’ll happen any day now.”


“Dial-up. There’s Wi-Fi in Great Barrington, though, and it’s only a twenty-minute drive away.”

Hmm. Maybe this was the catch she’d worried about. “What about cell reception?”

Brandy cleared her throat. “You won’t get a signal here, but I’ve heard there are hotspots further up the hill. Besides, convenient as it is, technology can be a huge distraction. I think you’ll find that the less of it you have, the more you’ll accomplish while you’re here. Oh, I almost forgot.” Brandy’s eyes gleamed like a gambler’s about to play her ace-in-the-hole. She swept across the room, heels clicking on the already extolled hardwood floor. With a dramatic flourish, she flung back heavy curtains revealing a panoramic sliding glass door.

The land behind the house sloped down to a pond, fringed by tawny cattails and embedded in the rocky earth like a large shard of antique glass. Beyond the pond, stubbled fields gave way to woods. Deciduous trees, bare of leaves and dun-colored except where bittersweet had caught the branches in an orange stranglehold, formed the front line of the woods’ advance. Behind them stood tall sentinel pines. The sky glowed an iridescent red-orange, as if a distant city were on fire. Magnificent.

A loud crack shattered the stillness. Kathryn clutched her heart. “What was that?”

“Probably a car backfiring down the road.” Brandy waved a hand dismissively.

The noise repeated: Boom, boom, boom! “Sounds like gunshots.”

“Maybe. But don’t worry. It’s just some guy doing a little target practice.”

“Does that happen a lot around here?” Much as she liked the house, she had no intention of putting herself in someone’s line of fire. This was a bigger negative than the lack of Wi-Fi and cell reception.

“Oh, no. And never near houses. They always go way off in the woods.”

“You’re sure?”

Brandy looked Kathryn in the eye. “Would I lie to you?”

Not lie outright—just not tell the whole truth.

“So listen, there are a few more places I could show you, but why waste your time? They’re nowhere as nice as this house. How about it?” Brandy thrust her face in Kathryn’s.

Resisting the hard sell, Kathryn took a step backward. “Okay if I take another look around by myself?”

“Not at all.” Brandy jerked the curtain pull, and the vivid tableau vanished. “I’ll wait for you in the car.”

Alone, Kathryn relaxed. She roamed the shadowy rooms with their curtained windows. The house was nothing like the Tudor mansion bordering the Beverly Hills Country Club, where she’d lived until her parents’ divorce when she was four. Nor was it like her second Eden, her great-aunt’s house on Diamond Head, where she’d spent the only happy times of her childhood. Still, she had the odd sense of being back in paradise.

She returned to the red room upstairs Brandy told her had served as a study. She’d wanted a red room when she was young, imagining it would be like waking up in a valentine. Her grandmother had talked her out of it. “You paint your room red, you’ll end up loony like your mother.” Her great-aunt, on the other hand, would have loved this room and the entire house with its pond and flaming sunset view. A sharp pang sliced through her.

The trip to New Nottingham in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts had been Aunt Kit’s idea. Ever since Kathryn could remember, Aunt Kit had wanted to learn the identity of their family’s Dark Lady, a beautiful, nameless woman in an old photograph an ancestor had brought with him to California. Long-distance inquiries proving fruitless, she finally decided a visit to the village was necessary and invited Kathryn to accompany her.

“It will be wonderful seeing you after such a long time,” she said over the phone. “I’m so happy you’re willing to join me on a quest that’s always ranked high on my bucket list.”

They planned the trip for last summer, but that spring Aunt Kit died suddenly of a heart attack. She bequeathed the photograph, along with relevant correspondence, and the sum of fifty thousand dollars to Kathryn. The photograph sat on Kathryn’s dresser, while she debated whether to pursue the quest alone. At first, it seemed quixotic; she’d only accepted the invitation out of a desire to please her beloved aunt. But the more she looked at the photograph, the more she understood Aunt Kit’s fascination with it.
“There’s a story here,” her aunt had often said. “A story that’s waiting to be told.”

She might have added, “A story with special meaning for you,” because that’s what Kathryn had come to believe. At some point, her aunt’s pet project had become hers. Now, standing in the valentine room of this house in the village where her ancestors once lived, she seemed to hover on the brink of discovery. As if she were poised at the tip of a high diving board, waiting to take the plunge, giddy with a mixture of excitement and fear.

About the Author

Leslie Wheeler, Author

An award-winning author of books about American history and biographies, Leslie Wheeler has written three Miranda Lewis “living history” mysteries: Murder at Plimoth Plantation, Murder at Gettysburg, and Murder at Spouters Point. Her mystery short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies including Day of the Dark, Stories of Eclipse, and the Best New England Crime Stories series, published by Level Best Books, where she was a co-editor/publisher for six years. A member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, she is Speakers Bureau Coordinator for the New England Chapter of SinC. Leslie divides her time between Cambridge, Massachusetts and the Berkshires, where she does much of her writing in a house overlooking a pond.

Contact Links


Purchase Link

a Rafflecopter giveaway

RABT Book Tours & PR