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Go Cubbies! Go Margo!

All-Star Game and Break CONTEST and BOOK SALE
Busch Stadium by Phil www.flickr.com
It’s the middle of July. Baseball fans everywhere know that means it’s time for the All-Star Game and short break from regularly scheduled baseball games across the United States. For non-loving baseball peeps, you can just keep on enjoying your summer as you have been: curled up with your favorite book, sipping cold lemonade, and relaxing by the pool. However you want to celebrate this week, please also join in the fun with young adult author Margo L. Dill as she holds a contest and book sale! 
Why during All-Star Game Week?
Great question! Margo’s young adult novel, Caught Between Two Curses (Rocking Horse Publishing, March 2014), is the story of 17-year-old Julie Nigelson, who is cursed. So is her entire family. And it’s not just any-old-regular
curse, either—it’s strangely connected to the famous “Curse of the Billy
Goat” on the Chicago Cubs, hence the All-Star baseball week celebration.

Julie must figure out this mystery while her uncle lies in a coma
and her entire love life is in ruins: her boyfriend Gus is pressuring
her to have sex, while her best friend Matt is growing more attractive
to her all the time.
Somehow, Julie must figure out how to save her uncle, her family’s future, and her own love life—and time is running out! 

What have people been saying about Margo’s book?
Here are a few lines from a couple reviews on Amazon.com:
“This book is one of the best I have read in a long time. Once I opened it up I could not stop until I was finished.”  ~Janet Cannon
 “A baseball mystery and a contemporary, heartfelt romance, CAUGHT BETWEEN
TWO CURSES is sure to score big with the young teen audience!” ~Cathy C. Hall

“I definitely recommend this to young adults, but
really any adult because it’s a story that keeps you interested and
will stay with you long after you finish.” ~Amie Merz
Okay, so what is the contest and the sale???
photo by DonkeyHotey flickr.com
Here’s the part you’ve been waiting for.  First the sale: 
The Kindle ebook is…99 cents July 14/15, $1.99 July 16/17, $2.99 July 18/19, and back to $3.99 July 20.
The print copy is for sale ON MARGO’S WEBSITE (http://margodill.com/blog/books/) and is $5.00 off the cover price, so only $6.95 (+$3.00 for shipping and handling). She will autograph it and gift wrap if it’s a gift, plus include a bookmark for free. More details at the link above. (The print version is also on sale for $10.76 (10 % savings) on Amazon.com.) 
 If you are an Amazon Prime Member, you can check out the e-BOOK for free at anytime!
The contest:
Go to the Rafflecopter form below this post–all you need to enter is your name and e-mail, which is how I contact you if you win one of the prizes. Do at least one of the tasks below and then click on the entry button to enter the contest. You can do as many tasks as you want! If you are confused or have any questions, please feel free to e-mail Margo at margo (at) margodill.com. Tasks range from leaving a review of Caught Between Two Curses to announcing the contest and sale on a social media page to uploading a photo of you in baseball gear. See below for more.
Margo L. Dill
The prizes:
One winner with a United States mailing address will win a $25 gift card to either Applebee’s, TGI Fridays, Starbucks, Panera Bread, or Olive Garden (winner’s choice). One runner-up winner will receive a free 3000-word critique from Margo (Editor 911)–this can be anywhere in the world as long as the document is in English. The contest goes from July 14 to July 20. Winners will be announced on July 21! 
What are you waiting for?

So, join in the fun and while you’re entering the contest or buying a sale copy of Caught Between Two Curses, join in a rousing rendition of  “Take me out to the ballgame. Take me out with the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks. I don’t care if I ever get back. . .” 

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Review and Giveaway: The Author Training Manual

The Author Training Manual: Develop Marketable Ideas, Craft Books That Sell, Become the Author Publishers Want, and Self-Publish EffectivelyThe Author Training Manual: Develop Marketable Ideas, Craft Books That Sell, Become the Author Publishers Want, and Self-Publish Effectively
by Nina Amir

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stop by The Muffin to enter to win a copy of The Author Training Manual here.

Last week my husband painted our living room with nary a grumble. How did I manage this miraculous feat?

Well, I promised to go through my bookshelves and weed out some of the books. Like most writers I am slightly addicted to writer how-to books. Reading them, jotting notes in the margins, marking pages with Post-It notes. Because one of those books will contain the magical advice that makes me an award-winning author. Due to the deal I made with my husband I did donate a few of my writer books to a used book sale. But I couldn’t part with Nina Amir’s How to Blog a Book and her latest The Author Training Manual.

One of the best things about The Author Training Manual is that Nina manages to be both friend and teacher. One the one hand she’ll telling you “here are the things I did wrong,” “here are the things I thought” and most importantly, “here are the changes I made.” As I read I’m saying, “OMG, I felt that same way! I did that same thing!” So you look at Nina, now a successful author, and say “Hey, if I do what Nina did I could become a successful author too!”

But Nina isn’t all about being a friend. She’s a tough teacher too (reminds me of a few nuns I had in years past). Happily, The Author Training Manual is very specific. She doesn’t just tell you to check out the competition. She tells you step by step how to do it. Nina doesn’t leave you to your own devices (writers do tend to procrastinate). Set deadlines! Answer these survey questions! Follow this book planning outline. It’s like writer boot camp! Perhaps it is more accurate to call it an author boot camp. The Author Training Manual helps you to plan both how to create the best book possible and how to become the most effective author. It helps you plan in an orderly way while your book is still just an idea. In fact, it way help you decide which of your ideas should become a book.

The Author Training Manual is crammed with extras: planning exercises, sample book proposals, questionaires, and additional reading lists for each chapter. Trust me, The Author Training Manual is one book I will never get rid of–even if my husband promises to paint the entire house!



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Giveaway: Basil Instinct

Basil Instinct

Author:Shelley Costa cover-basil-instinct-big

Paperback: 368 pages (also available in e-formats)

Publisher: Pocket Books (June 24, 2014)

Synposis:

In this second cozy mystery series that started with You Cannoli Die Once, a chef and her cousins launch their own investigation when a new sous chef turns up dead in their Italian restaurant.

When Chef Eve Angelotta’s grandmother, Maria Pia, is invited to join Belfiere, a secret all-female Italian culinary society, Eve is concerned. Rumor has it that membership is lifelong—whether you like it or not. Eve and her cousin Landon try to research Belfiere, but all they come up with is a two-year-old blog entry warning against the two-hundred-year-old society that centers around meals inspired by famous female poisoners.

Soon after, Eve’s new sous chef turns up dead just inside the front door of Miracolo, Eve’s restaurant. When they discover the sous chef had connections to Belfiere, Eve and her Italian cousins start a mission to find out what happened—before Maria Pia is made an offer she can’t refuse.

Review:

I liked You Cannoli Die Once but Shelley Costa really upped the ante with Basil Instinct. It was hysterical (aside from the dead body of course). I was laughing aloud so often strangers were asking me what I was reading. Eve has a lot of balls in the air with this book: secret societies, past murders, inheritances, Grief Week, coummunity college cooking classes, graffiti, pseudo-mob guys, hunky lawyers, kittens and of course, a dead body.

I loved that this book set you up for one situation and then — presto — something totally different happened. It was definitely not predictable and you doesn’t all come together until the last chapter. But that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy the first 90% of the book because it is jam-packed with action (some related to solving a murder and some just related to the craziness that is Eve’s life). I missed the quirky Dana who only made a few cameo appearances in this book but it was fun seeing more of Choo Choo. I can’t decide which of these quirky characters I like best.

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Giveaway: You Cannoli Die Once

You Cannoli Die Once

Author:Shelley Costacover-cannoli

Paperback: 336 pages (also available in e-formats)

Publisher: Pocket Books (May 28, 2013)

Synposis:

At Miracolo Northern Italian restaurant, one can savor brilliantly seasoned veal saltimbocca, or luscious risotto alla milanese, but no cannoli. Never cannoli. Maria Pia Angelotta, the spirited seventy-six-year-old owner of the Philadelphia-area eatery that’s been in her family for four generations, has butted heads with her head chef over the cannoli ban more than once. And when the head chef is your own granddaughter, things can get a little heated.

Fortunately, Eve Angelotta knows how to handle what her nonna dishes out. But when Maria Pia’s boyfriend is found dead in Miracolo’s kitchen, bludgeoned by a marble mortar, the question arises: Can a woman this fiery and stubborn over cream-filled pastry be capable of murder?

The police seem to think so, and they put the elder Angelotta behind bars, while Eve, sexy neighborhood attorney Joe Beck, and the entire Miracolo family— parenti di sangue and otherwise—try every trick in the cookbook to unravel a tangle of lies and expose a killer.

Review:

If you want a fun read for the summer, try You Cannoli Die Once. It was a silly romp where no one is exactly who they seem. The singer is well, not a great singer. The pianist is…well no one’s really sure. The chef is a dancer. The sous chef is a heir. The interior decorator is a financial planner. The waitress is a shoe designer. The homeless person is…Well, you get the idea. Like a great minestrone this is a great mix of characters that at first seem like an odd pairing but once you get them all together…mmmm.

My only problem was having to overlook a few times the amateur detectives beat the cops to a clue that I’m certain in a real murder would have been found more quickly by the pros. But hey, it was fun, it was full of surprises and the characters!

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A Photographic Death

A Photographic Death

by Judi Culbertson

on Tour May 27 – June 27, 2014

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery & Detective; Women Sleuth

Published by: Witness Impulse

Publication Date: 5/27/2014

Number of Pages: 288

ISBN: 9780062296351

Purchase Links:

Tour Info:

Book Formats: Edelweiss

Hosting Options: Review, Interview, & Guest Post

Giveaway: There will be one rafflecopter form for the tour where we will offer 10 individual promo codes for a free download of the book for the entire tour. Winner must have access to Bluefire Reader and have an Adobe account to receive free download.

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Synopsis:

Bookseller-turned-amateur detective Delhi Laine is back with another atmospheric mystery, but this time, it’s a family affair.

Nineteen years ago, Delhi Laine’s two-year old daughter disappeared. After a frantic but inconclusive search, authorities determined that she must have drowned, her body washed away from the picturesque English park in which she was playing.

Delhi’s heart has never healed, yet her family has since soldiered on. But when a mysterious letter arrives containing the ominous words, YOUR DAUGHTER DID NOT DROWN, their lives are once again thrown into turmoil. With her family torn between fighting for the past and protecting the future, Delhi is caught in the middle. For a mother, the choice to find her daughter seems easy. But for a family left fractured by the mistakes of the past, the consequence, and the truth, may be infinitely more costly.

Fans of Carolyn Hart will be swept away by this story of a family on the brink – and their hunt for the truth.

 

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Review:

A Photographic Death will keep you guessing. First of all, was there really a crime or just an accident? Second, should we try to find the victim? Third, do certain people have nefarious reasons why they don’t want to locate the victim? This book was a tiny bit slow at first (setting up a crime from 20 years ago will do that) but once they hit England it was a rush of not being able to put down the book until you unraveled all the hows, whats and whens of this crime. I thought it was extremely effective to portray some of the people involved as less than enthusiastic about delving into the past. Makes you wonder how you would have felt in this same position. These characters are flawed, many times I was yelling at them “Why did you do that?!” It made the book all the more real. It honestly felt like something you could read in one of the tabloid magazines. This book will reach out and grab you.

Nineteen years

Read an excerpt:

In those days photography had been my passion, my way of escaping from the endless rounds of dirty diapers and runny noses and tears. At home, as soon as the children were bedded down, I’d fled to my darkroom, working into the early hours printing and tinting photos. The quiet darkness was an addiction. As sleepy as I often was during the day, I came alive in those night hours.

I had been taking photos in Stratford to work on, to enlarge and color when we got home.

After that day by the river, I never took another. Growing up I had never daydreamed about having a family, of being surrounded by children. I’d read endlessly, imagined myself in exotic places, even saw myself as an archeologist. So when I met Colin . . . I loved the children, they were mine, but they were part of the scenery of my life.

When I lost one of them due to my preoccupation, I vowed never to let anything distract me again. Not even photography. Especially not photography.

“You thought falling asleep sounded better?” Colin felt menacing beside me, as if he might grab my shoulders and shake me.

I knew then that I should have told him about the note first, that we should not be having this conversation in front of everyone. “I—yes . And after I kept saying it a part of me started believing it. When I finally admitted the truth and told someone else, she pointed out that if I was standing right by the water, I should have heard a splash or seen Caitlin fall in. And I was, right by the edge of the river. I–”

“But the police must have investigated all that?” Patience couldn’t keep out of it any longer.

“Of course they did.” Colin boomed. “They interviewed everyone who’d had been in the park that day. We even hired a private detective. Who found nothing.”

Through the miasma of wine and coffee I tried to remember what had been in the detective’s report. Surely, for all the money we borrowed from Colin’s parents to pay him, he had turned up something. “But the police never found her. They said that was unusual for that part of the river.”

“But not impossible.” Colin held up a professorial hand, a gesture he would use to silence a classroom. Everyone looked at him, waiting. He addressed the girls first. “I’m sorry you had to learn this from someone in a drunken stupor. It’s something that happened long ago. We didn’t want you to grow up thinking something terrible would happen to you too. We didn’t want it to overshadow your childhoods. It was the worst thing that ever happened to us. But your mother has conflated another day when she was taking pictures with the day it actually happened. All I can say is, memory is notoriously unreliable.”

I was so furious that I couldn’t think of which calumny to address first. I was not in a drunken stupor. I was not mixing up the days. But I needed to explain why I was bringing it up now. “What I was doing that day isn’t the point.” I reached in my Mexican jacket pocket and pulled out an envelope. “This is the point.”

A rustling, a squeaking of chairs, as everyone craned to look.

It was a square white envelope, the size of a small greeting card, addressed to “The Fitzhughs.” On the front were stamp images of Queen Elizabeth in red and green and a postmark I could not read. I pulled out the white paper inside, unfolded it, and laid it flat on the table so that the people closest to me could see. In large black letters it read:
YOUR DAUGHTER DID NOT DROWN.

When Colin and the girls had seen it I passed it to Pat who scanned it and gave it back so I could show it to Ben. “This came in the mail Monday,” I said. “I can’t tell what part of England it’s from.”

Colin picked up the envelope and studied it. Again, everyone seemed to be waiting for his official pronouncement. “A mean trick,” he said finally. “Someone’s idea of a bad joke.”

A bad joke? “But why now?” I argued, shocked. “Almost twenty years later? Who would know anything about it now?”

“Maybe they ran a story in the local Stratford papers,” Ben said. “Maybe the detective who investigated it is retiring or something.”

“And that would make somebody track us all the way over here to taunt us, a mention in a retirement story? I don’t buy that. It wasn’t even a criminal investigation, they just thought she’d drowned. No policeman would be remembered for it.”

“Maybe that’s what the story was about then, people drowning in the river.” Ben brightened as if he had solved the problem. I told myself he wasn’t trying to be cruel, that he just liked to fix things.

“They’d hardly go to the trouble of finding Delhi and Colin’s address in another country. That’s ridiculous,” Patience said. “It sounds like whoever wrote it knows something definite.”

“Can’t we have the handwriting analyzed?” Jane interrupted. “Or have it dusted for fingerprints?”

Colin sighed, playing with a small glass salt shaker that had been left on the table. “That note is hardly a criminal matter. They wouldn’t go to the trouble. Besides, the real point is if Caitlin did somehow survive, it’s too late now. Too much time has passed. It’s like an adoption, it’s final.”

“No!” It came out of me as a wail.

Patience gasped. “It is not like an adoption. If your daughter didn’t drown, then she was kidnapped! She has every right to know her real family.”

“Patsy,”—Colin lapsed into her old nickname–“it’s not that simple. You can’t assume a kidnapping. If she didn’t drown, she probably wandered off and someone found her.”

“Daddy, what are you talking about?” Jane grasped his forearm. She was flushed, probably with cabernet, and furious. As close as they were, she often lost her temper with Colin. “People don’t keep lost children. They find a policeman and get them back to their parents! It’s not like a stray kitten that you decide to take in.”

“No, Daddy’s right,” Hannah looked up from where she had been tormenting a cuticle. “How would you feel if someone contacted us and claimed after nineteen years that I had been stolen and was part of their family? That everything I’d thought was true was a lie and they wanted me to come live with them. Anyway, I don’t want a twin. I’m fine just as I am.”

Colin pushed back from the table. “I think it’s time for us to go.”

“But we haven’t had our walk,” Ben protested. “We have to take our beach walk!”

Poor Ben. If he’d been on the Titanic, he would have been demanding his nightly whiskey as the ship went down.

“Yes, go on your walk. I have to show Delhi something of our mother’s that I found. We’ll catch up.”

I knew we wouldn’t.

“Can I see?” Jane asked eagerly.

Patience and I exchanged a look.

“Sure,” I told her.

 

Author Bio:

JUDI CULBERTSON draws on her experience as a used-and-rare book dealer, social worker, and world traveler to create her bibliophile mysteries. She has co-authored five illustrated guides with her husband, Tom Randall, of such cities as Paris, London, and New York. She is also the author of the acclaimed nonfiction titles SCALING DOWN and THE CLUTTER CURE. She lives in Port Jefferson, New York, with her family.

Catch Up With the Author:

Catch Up With the Publisher:

Tour Participants:


Giveaway:

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5Ws with David Kalish

David Kalish, author of the novel The Opposite of Everything took some time to answer a few questions about being a writer. If you’re interested in reading his debut novel that combines cancer, divorce, and romance in a way that results inKalish Head Shot laugh out loud funny, leave a comment and you could win a copy of the book.

WHO

Who inspired you to become a writer?

I would have to say I’m largely self-motivated. From the time I wrote my first poem in kindergarten, I’ve always written. I wrote poetry through public school, news articles as a journalist at The Associated Press, tons of short stories, and finally, my newly published novel. Of course I received lots of great encouragement and advice along the way, especially from my professors at Bennington College, where I received my MFA in fiction writing in 2006.

I do remember one person in particular, however. He didn’t give me writing advice per se, but survival advice. About twenty years ago I met a stutterer who, despite his disorder, rose to become a successful art director on Madison Avenue. How on earth do you do it? I asked. “You need two legs to walk,” he explained, not hesitating. “One leg represents success; the other failure. You can’t walk with just one.” I’ve remembered those words a lot during my ten-year struggle to write my novel, amid rejections from dozens of agents, and during my book tour. Before each challenge, I’ve kept an image in my mind of a dogged cripple, just as the stutterer had. Because I too stumbled. Made mistakes. I was sabotaged by inexperience, fear of technology, and the fact I’m a human being, not a robot. Wrestled with panic attacks. But through it all, I got up. Kept walking. Moved forward, often in a wobbly way. For this, I thank that man.

WHAT

What is the most difficult thing about writing?

Finding time to write. Nowadays, my days are so crammed I often feel overwhelmed. I must promote my new novel, arrange book store events, shuttle my teen-age daughter to her many activities (not to mention her Bat Mitzvah this month!), shop, cook, etc. Yet I manage to stay active on social media, keep up with a twice-weekly blog, and have written a musical comedy that will be performed in December at a major upstate New York theater. Somehow, I also find time for other writing projects: revising my second novel, and converting my first into a screenplay. Sometimes I forsake a good night’s sleep; other times I need to explain to my family that my writing takes precedent over, say, watching a movie. We make do where we can.

WHY

Why did you decide that romance and cancer could partner together to make a great novel — and not just a novel but a novel full of humor? How did you walk that tightrope between tragedy and comedy?

I’ve always had a bit of the stand-up comedian in me, but it wasn’t until life handed me a mudpie that I decided to toss the pie in my own face. Making jokes was my way of having fun with my life – not just entertaining readers, but entertaining myself too.

The mudpie was my diagnosis of cancer and divorce, which hit me roughly the same time back twenty years ago. Out of that painful past, I began writing a memoir, but my first attempts to get it down on paper felt stiff and distant. Turns out the format — first-person memoir – didn’t work for me. I was hesitant to express my emotions in a story I starred in. Eventually, after years of revisions, I decided not to be a slave to the facts. I made up characters, letting the story play out through their conflicts. Over years my book turned into a comedy that plays pain for comedy and drama.

I concluded, through trial and error, that humor, done well, can reveal truths in more interesting ways than a straight-forward telling. It reveals the coping mechanism of the characters, and the narrator – humor as medicine helps us get through the tough times.

WHERE

Where did you begin your writing career?

I wrote my first poem in kindergarten, as I mentioned, and never looked back. My first real writing job was for a magazine right out of college thirty years ago. But my fiction-writing career didn’t begin in earnest until ten years ago. That’s when I began to write my book. I was living in Brooklyn at the time, with my second wife and infant daughter. I’d Opposite of Everything Cover (1)take my laptop to local cafes and try to find the words to express what I’d been through. Hours later I’d return, reeking of coffee, with a couple of paragraphs that made sense, if I was lucky. That’s what I view as the beginning of my fictional writing career.

WHEN

When did you decide you wanted to focus on fiction writing?

I decided to focus on fiction when I left The Associated Press in 2002 due to medical reasons. I had the time and space to write stories and scenes related to my struggles with cancer and divorce. After AP, fiction was liberating for me. I felt free to play with the facts. Writing about my life this way was also therapeutic. It helped me process my past, giving a storyline to memories that by themselves felt fragmented, with little sense to them. I gave my personal history a beginning, middle and end, and had my characters seek, and ultimately find, redemption.

 

And just in case you missed it, read my review of The Opposite of Everything, enter to win a copy of the book and check out a list of upcoming tour dates here

Review: The Opposite of Everything

I “met” David Kalish through Crystal, a fabulous blog tour organizer with WOW-Women on Writing. Thanks Crystal Kalish Head Shotfor inviting me on the tour for The Opposite of Everything! I even have a book to give away! All you have to do is leave a comment before May 28 and you’re entered to win a copy of this novel that is truly unlike any other novel I’ve read recently. If you’d like to learn more about David and his debut novel jump on the tour. Here are a few blogs David will be visiting in the near future:

Thursday, May 15 @ Romance Junkies

Interview and review

http://www.romancejunkies.com/rjblog/

 

Tuesday, May 20 @ Steph The Bookworm

Review and giveaway

http://www.stephthebookworm.com/

 

Thursday, May 22 @ Kristine Meldrum Denholm

Guest post and giveaway

http://www.kristinemeldrumdenholm.com/

Are you so over the Internet (as if) and want to meet this quirky author in the flesh? Well, if you’re in the New York/Philadelphia area you may have your chance. Come on out and meet a fledgling novelist. Maybe there will be cookies!

– Saturday, May 24, 2 p.m., Golden Notebook books, Woodstock, N.Y.

– Monday, June 2, 6 p.m., Mechanicville Public Library

– Saturday, June 21, 3 p.m., Open Door Bookstore, Schenectady, N.Y.

– Saturday, July 12, Book Store Plus, Lake Placid, N.Y.

– Saturday, July 19, Big Blue Marble Bookstore, Philadelphia

 

The Opposite of Everything

Author: David KalishOpposite of Everything Cover (1)

Paperback: 191 pages (also available in  e-formats)

Publisher:  WiDo Publishing (February 17, 2014)

Synposis:

When Brooklyn journalist Daniel Plotnick learns he has cancer, his fortunes fall faster than you can say Ten Plagues of Egypt. His wife can’t cope, his marriage ends in a showdown with police, and his father accidentally pushes him off the George Washington Bridge.

Plotnick miraculously survives his terrifying plunge, and comes up with a zany plan to turn his life around: by doing the opposite of everything he did before.

In the darkly comedic tradition of Philip Roth and Lorrie Moore comes a new novel from author David Kalish, who draws us into a hilarious, off-kilter world where cancer tears apart relationships…and builds new ones.

Review:

Truthfully, at first I was…hmmm, will I finish this book because this Daniel Plotnick is all kinds of nuts. But then magically (and in the spirit of Plotnick’s life mantra) it turned into quite the opposite: I have got to finish this book and see what happens to this guy. So, although you might find Plotnick’s actions mystifying for the first 50 pages or so, about the time he begins life anew you’ll find yourself rooting for him. Because we are all Daniel Plotnicks. Trying to deal with impossible lives with no manual to tell us what to do. It’s just that Daniel’s problems and solutions are magnified beyond the craziness most of us have to deal with each day.

If you like annoying main characters that give you the urge to smack them upside the head at times, you will love The Opposite of Everything. Another mirror of Plotnick’s life: despite finding Daniel annoying you’ll also be rooting for him to find his happy ending (whatever that is). Author David Kalish manages to walk that tightrope between annoying and lovable with skill that I can only envy.

This is also a thinking book. A book that will make you ask yourself: what would I do? If I was Daniel? His dad? His wife? His best friend? Could I spit in the eye of cancer? Could I deal with a loved one who was turning life upside down? Could I live?

 

 

Review & Giveaway: The Code of the Hills

The Code of the Hills

by Nancy Allen

on Tour April 14 – May 16, 2014

 

Book Details:

Genre: Legal Thriller
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Number of Pages: 400
ISBN: 9780062325945

Purchase Links:

Synopsis:

A powerful debut thriller set in the Ozark hills, about a young female prosecutor trying to do right by her vulnerable clients-but by breaking their silence, she herself may fall victim to THE CODE OF THE HILLS.

Elsie Arnold may not always have it all together, but a raucous night at the bar now and then is just how she blows off steam after a long week of hard-fought trials. When she is chosen to assist on a high-profile incest case, Elsie is excited to step up after four years of hard work as an attorney for the prosecutor’s office, and ready to realize her ambition of becoming the Ozarks’ avenging angel. There might even be media attention.

But as soon as Elsie she begins to sink her teeth into the State of Missouri vs. Kris Taney, things start to go wrong -which is when her boss dumps the entire case on her. The star witness and victim’s brother, who has accused Taney of sexually abusing his three daughters, has gone missing. The three girls, ages six, 12, and 15, may not be fit to testify, their mother won’t talk, and the evidence is spotty. To make matters worse, it seems that some people in town don’t want Elsie to lock Taney up – judging by the death threats and chicken parts left for her to find.

Elsie is determined to break the code of silence and find out what really happened, refusing to let a sex offender walk, but the odds – and maybe the community – are against her. Even as Elsie fights the good fight for her clients, she isn’t so different from them: her personal life is taking a one-two punch as her cop boyfriend becomes more and more controlling. And amidst all of the conflict, the safety of the three young Taney girls hangs in the balance.

Review:

I read a lot of murder mysteries and find that at times (perhaps its the rampant violence in our culture) I’m immune to the death. Yes, someone dies. Yes, it’s terrible. But I’m not horrified. In The Code of the Hills, author Nancy Allen horrifies us. (Note: This involves crimes against children and, although we learn of them through retellings and only briefly, I realize this subject matter isn’t for everyone.) It’s not just the horrible things that happen to the Taney children. We aren’t subjected to graphic descriptions of crimes, just broad strokes that let us know what happened. Instead it the attitude of the family. The matter-of-fact acceptance, almost indifference to the events that makes you feel as if you are in some alternate universe. Who could accept this?

Prosecutor Elsie Arnold gives voice to what we readers are feeling. How could the Taneys not see this coming? How could they live with this? Why didn’t they escape when they could? Allen does a great job of making us feel we ARE Elsie before hitting us with a haymaker. Elsie, who has been fighting for justice, for action, for change, suddenly finds her life spiraling downward into a situation that, although not exactly the same, mirrors the Taney family’s in many ways. Elsie, who was the knight in shining armor, is transformed into a victim in an instant. How could this happen to Elsie? And fast on the heels of that question comes: Could this happen to us?

The Code of the Hills does a great job of not clearly defining the good guys and the bad guys. There are a few wearing white hats, a few wearing black hats,  but many more wearing gray. And unraveling who is who makes this book a puzzle worth solving.  The Code of the Hills will bring out the rubbernecker in you. You won’t want to read any further and yet you won’t be able to stop.

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Winner of The Moon Sisters

Did you stop by for my post for the Everybody’s Talking About Sisterhood event organized by The Muffin to promote Therese Walsh’s new SueBookCovernovel The Moon Sisters? Well, today’s the day we announce the three winners:

The winner on The Muffin was Maria M.

The winner of a participating blogger (makes you want to participate in our next event, doesn’t it?) was Vickie S. Miller at Vickie S. Miller Blog

And the winner from among those who entered the contest on one of the participating blogs was Robyn C. who entered right here on Words by Webb!

If you didn’t win, don’t give up. The Muffin has plenty of blog tours and giveaways coming up including:

Sue Silverman’s memoir The Pat Boone Fan Club on March 31

Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers to Create Online Buzz for Their Booksand Still Have Time to Write by Frances Caballo on April 7

The Opposite of Everything by David Kalish on April 21

BarbaraCoverDanger in Her Words by Barbara Barth on May 5

I’ll give the heads up when those tours begin so you can enter and hopefully win yourself a great book!

Author Showcase: Carey Baldwin

Confession

by Carey Baldwin

BOOK BLAST on March 11th

on Tour April 2014

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Suspense

Published by: Witness Impulse

Publication Date: March 11, 2014

Number of Pages: 384

ISBN: 9780062314109 / 0062314106

Purchase Links:

Synopsis:

For fans of Allison Brennan and Karen Rose comes Carey Baldwin, a daring new name in suspense, with the story of a serial killer out for blood—and the only woman who can stop his reign of terror.

They say the Santa Fe Saint comes to save your soul—by taking your life.

Newly minted psychiatrist Faith Clancy gets the shock of her life when her first patient confesses to the grisly Saint murders. By law she’s compelled to notify the authorities, but is her patient really The Saint? Or will she contribute to more death by turning the wrong man over to the police?

Faith is going to need all her wits and the help of a powerful adversary, Luke Jericho, if she’s to unravel the truth. But she doesn’t realize she’s about to become an unwitting pawn in a serial killer’s diabolical game: For once he’s finished with Faith, she’ll become his next victim.

Read an excerpt:

Prologue

Saint Catherine’s School for Boys

Near Santa Fe, New Mexico

Ten years ago—Friday, August 15, 11:00 P.M.

I’M NOT afraid of going to hell. Not one damn bit.

We’re deep in the woods, miles from the boys’ dormitory, and my thighs are burning because I walked all this way with Sister Bernadette on my back. Now I’ve got her laid out on the soggy ground underneath a hulking ponderosa pine. A bright rim of moonlight encircles her face. Black robes flow around her, engulfing her small body and blending with the night. Her face, floating on top of all that darkness, reminds me of a ghost-head in a haunted house—but she’s not dead.

Not yet.

My cheek stings where Sister scratched me. I wipe the spot with my sleeve and sniff the air soaked with rotting moss, sickly-sweet pine sap and fresh piss. I pissed myself when I clubbed her on the head with that croquet mallet. Ironic, since my pissing problem is why I picked Sister Bernadette in the first place. She ought to have left that alone.

I hear a gurgling noise.

Good.

Sister Bernadette is starting to come around.

This is what I’ve been waiting for.

With her rosary wound tightly around my forearm, the grooves of the carved sandalwood beads cutting deep into the flesh of my wrist, I squat down on rubber legs, shove my hands under her armpits and drag her into a sitting position against the fat tree trunk. Her head slumps forward, but I yank her by the hair until her face tilts up, and her cloudy eyes open to meet mine. Her lips are moving. Syllables form within the bubbles coming out of her mouth. I press my stinging cheek against her cold, sticky one.

Like a lover, she whispers in my ear, “God is merciful.”

The nuns have got one fucked-up idea of mercy.

“Repent.” She’s gasping. “Heaven…”

“I’m too far gone for heaven.”

The God I know is just and fierce and is never going to let a creep like me through the pearly gates because I say a few Hail Marys. “God metes out justice, and that’s how I know I will not be going to heaven.”

To prove my point, I draw back, pull out my pocketknife, and press the silver blade against her throat. Tonight, I am more than a shadow. A shadow can’t feel the weight of the knife in his palm. A shadow can’t shiver in anticipation. A shadow is not to be feared, but I am not a shadow. Not in this moment.

She moves her lips some more, but this time, no sound comes out. I can see in her eyes what she wants to say to me. Don’t do it. You’ll go to hell.

I twist the knife so that the tip bites into the sweet hollow of her throat. “I’m not afraid of going to hell.”

It’s the idea of purgatory that makes my teeth hurt and my stomach cramp and my shit go to water. I mean what if my heart isn’t black enough to guarantee me a passage straight to hell? What if God slams down his gavel and says, Son, you’re a sinner, but I have to take your family situation into account. That’s a mitigating circumstance.

A single drop of blood drips off my blade like a tear.

“What if God sends me to purgatory?” My words taste like puke on my tongue. “I’d rather dangle over a fiery pit for eternity than spend a single day of the afterlife in a place like this one.”

I watch a spider crawl across her face.

My thoughts crawl around my brain like that spider.

You could make a pretty good case, I think, that St. Catherine’s School for Boys is earth’s version of purgatory. I mean, it’s a place where you don’t exist. A place where no one curses you, but no one loves you either. Sure, back home, your father hits you and calls you a bastard, but you are a bastard, so its okay he calls you one. Behind me, I hear the sound of rustling leaves and cast a glance over my shoulder.

Do it! You want to get into hell, don’t you?

I turn back to sister and flick the spider off her cheek.

The spider disappears, but I’m still here.

At St. Catherine’s no one notices you enough to knock you around. Every day is the same as the one that came before it, and the one that’s coming after. At St. Catherine’s you wait and wait for your turn to leave, only guess what, you dumb-ass bastard, your turn is never going to come, because you, my friend, are in purgatory, and you can’t get out until you repent.

Sister Bernadette lets out another gurgle.

I spit right in her face.

I won’t repent, and I can’t bear to spend eternity in purgatory, which is I why I came up with a plan. A plan that’ll rocket me straight past purgatory, directly to hell.

Sister Bernadette is the first page of my blueprint. I have the book to guide me the rest of the way. For her sake, not mine, I make the sign of the cross.

She’s not moving, but her eyes are open, and I hear her breathing. I want her to know she is going to die. “You are going to help me get into hell. In return, I will help you get into heaven.”

I shake my arm and loosen the rosary. The strand slithers down my wrist. One bead after another drops into my open palm, electrifying my skin at the point of contact. My blood zings through me, like a high-voltage current. I am not a shadow.

A branch snaps, making my hands shake with the need to hurry.

What are you waiting for my friend?

Is Sister Bernadette afraid?

She has to be. Hungry for her fear, I squeeze my thighs together, and then I push my face close and look deep in her eyes.

“The blood of the lamb will wash away your sins.” She gasps, and her eyes roll back. “Repent.”

My heart slams shut.

I begin the prayers.

Chapter One

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Present Day—Saturday, July 20, 1:00 P.M.

Man, she’s something.

Luke Jericho halted mid-stride, and the sophisticated chatter around him dimmed to an indistinct buzz. Customers jamming the art gallery had turned the air hot, and the aromas of perfume and perspiration clashed. His gaze sketched the cut muscles of the woman’s shoulders before swerving to the tantalizing V of her low-back dress. There, slick fabric met soft skin just in time to hide the thong she must be wearing. His fingers found the cold silk knot of his tie and worked it loose. He let his glance dot down the line of her spine, then swoop over the arc of her ass. It was the shimmer of Mediterranean-blue satin, illuminated beneath art lights, that had first drawn his eye, her seductive shape that had pulled him up short, but it was her stance—her pose—that had his blood expanding like hot mercury under glass.

Head tilted, front foot cocked back on its stiletto, the woman studied one of Luke’s favorite pieces—his brother Dante’s mixed-media. A piece Luke had hand-selected and quietly inserted into this show of local artists in the hopes a positive response might bolster his brother’s beleaguered self-esteem.

The woman couldn’t take her eyes off the piece, and he couldn’t take his eyes off the woman. Her right arm floated, as if she were battling the urge to reach out and touch the multi-textured painting. Though her back was to him, he could picture her face, pensive, enraptured. Her lips would be parted and sensual. He savored the swell of her bottom beneath the blue dress. Given the way the fabric clung to her curves, he’d obviously guessed right about the thong. She smoothed the satin with her hand, and he rubbed the back of his neck with his palm. Ha. Any minute now she’d turn and ruin his fantasy with what was sure to turn out to be the most ordinary mug in the room.

And then she did turn, and damned if her mug wasn’t ordinary at all, but she didn’t appear enraptured. Inquisitive eyes, with a distinct undercurrent of melancholy, searched the room and found him. Then, delicate brows raised high, her mouth firmed into a hard line—even thinned, her blood-red lips were temptation itself—she jerked to a rigid posture and marched, yeah, marched, straight at him.

Hot ass. Great mouth. Damn lot of nerve.

“I could feel your stare,” she said.

“Kind of full of yourself, honey.”

A flush of scarlet flared across her chest, leading his attention to her lovely, natural breasts, mostly, but not entirely, concealed by a classic neckline. With effort, he raised his eyes to meet hers. Green. Skin, porcelain. Hair, fiery—like her cheeks—and flowing. She looked like a mermaid. Not the soft kind, the kind with teeth.

“I don’t like to be ogled.” Apparently she intended to stand her ground.

He decided to stand his as well. That low-back number she had on might be considered relatively tame in a room with more breasts on display than a Picasso exhibit, but there was something about the way she wore it. “Then you shouldn’t have worn that dress, darlin’.”

Her brow arched higher in challenge. “Which is it? Honey or darlin’?”

“Let’s go with honey. You look sweet.” Not at the moment she didn’t, but he’d sure like to try and draw the sugar out of her. This woman was easily as interesting and no less beautiful than his best gallery piece, and she didn’t seem to be reacting to him per the usual script. He noticed his hand floating up, reaching out, just as her hand had reached for the painting. Like his mesmerizing customer, he knew better than to touch the display, but it was hard to resist the urge.

Her body drew back, and her shoulders hunched. “You’re aware there’s a serial killer on the loose?”

Luke, you incredible ass.

No wonder she didn’t appreciate his lingering looks. Every woman he knew was on full alert. The Jericho charm might or might not be able to get him out of this one, but he figured she was worth a shot. “Here, in this gallery? In broad daylight?” He searched the room with his gaze and made his tone light. “Or are you saying you don’t like being sized up for the kill?” He patted his suit pockets, made a big show of it and then stroked his chin thoughtfully. “I seem to have misplaced my rosary somewhere, I don’t suppose you’ve seen it?”

Her shoulders eased back to a natural position.

“Seriously, do I look like someone who’d be called The Saint?”

If the glove doesn’t fit…

Her lips threatened to curve up at the corners. “No. I don’t suppose you do.” Another beat, and then her smile bloomed in earnest. “Looking a little is one thing, maybe it’s even flattering…but you seem to have exceeded your credit line.”

He turned his palms up. “Then I’d like to apply for an increase.”

At that, her pretty head tipped back, and she laughed, a big genuine laugh. It was the kind of laugh that was a touch too hearty for a polished society girl, which perhaps she wasn’t after all. It was also the kind of laugh he’d like to hear again. Of its own accord, his hand found his heart. “Listen, I’m honest-to-God sorry if I spooked you. That wasn’t my intention.”

Her expression was all softness now.

“Do you like the painting?” he asked, realizing that he cared more than he should about the answer.

“It’s quite…dark.” Her bottom lip shivered with the last word, and he could sense she found Dante’s painting disturbing.

Always on the defensive where his brother was concerned, his back stiffened. He tugged at his already loosened tie. “Artists are like that. I don’t judge them.”

“Of course. I-I wasn’t judging the artist. I was merely making an observation about the painting. It’s expressive, beautiful.”

Relaxing his stance, he pushed a hand through his hair.

She pushed a hand through her hair, and then her glance found her fancy-toed shoes. “Maybe I overreacted, maybe you weren’t even staring.”

Giving in to the urge to touch, he reached out and tilted her chin up until their eyes met. “I’m Luke Jericho, and you had it right the first time. I was staring. I was staring at—” He barely had time to register a startled flash of her green eyes before she turned on her heel and disappeared into the throng of gallery patrons.

He shrugged and said to the space where her scent still sweetened the air, “I was staring at your fascination. Your fascination fascinates me.”

Saturday, July 20, 1:30 P.M.

Faith Clancy strode across her nearly naked office and tossed her favorite firelight macaron clutch onto her desk. After rushing out of the gallery, she’d come to her office to regroup, mainly because it was nearby.

She could hear Ma’s voice now, see her wagging finger. “Luke Jericho? Sure’an you’ve gone and put your wee Irish foot in the stewpot now, Faith.”

Well, it was only a tiny misstep—what harm could possibly come of it? She braced her palms against the windowsill. Teeth clenched, she heaved with all her might until wood screeched against wood and the window lurched open.

A full inch.

Swell.

Summers in Santa Fe were supposed to be temperate, and she hadn’t invested in an air conditioner for her new office. She sucked in a deep breath, but the currentless summer air brought little relief from the heat. Lifting her hair off the back of her damp neck with one hand, she reached over and dialed on the big standing fan next to the desk with the other. The dinosaur whirred to life without a hiccup.

That made one thing gone right today.

The relaxing Saturday afternoon she’d been looking forward to all week had been derailed, thanks to Luke Jericho. Okay, that wasn’t even half fair. In reality, the wheels of her day had never touched down on the track to begin with. She’d awakened this morning with a knot in her stomach and an ache in her heart—missing Danny and Katie.

Walk it off, she’d thought. Dress up. Take in the sights. Act like you’re part of the Santa Fe scene and soon enough you will be. Determined to forget the homesick rumbling in her chest, Faith had plucked a confidence boosting little number from her closet, slipped on a pair of heels and headed out to mingle with polite society. Even if she didn’t feel like she fit in, at least she would look the part. But the first gallery she’d entered, she’d dunked her foot in the stewpot—crossing swords with, and then, even worse, flirting with the brother of a patient.

Rather bad luck considering she had just one patient.

Her toe started to tap.

Her gaze swept the office and landed on the only adornment of the freshly-painted walls—her diplomas and certificates, arranged in an impressive display with her psychiatric board certification center stage. A Yale-educated doctor. Ma and Da would’ve been proud, even if they might’ve clucked their tongues at the psychiatrist part. She blinked until her vision cleared. It wasn’t only Danny and Katie she was missing today.

She kicked off her blasted shoes and shook off her homesick blues…only to find her mind returning to the gallery and her encounter with a man who was strictly off limits.

There was no point chastising herself for walking into the art gallery in the first place, or for refusing to pretend she didn’t notice the man who was eyeing her like she was high tea in a whorehouse, and he a starving sailor.

Care for a macaron, sir?

Had she realized her admirer was Luke Jericho, she would’ve walked away without confronting him, but how was she to know him by sight? It wasn’t as if she spent her spare time flipping through photos of town royalty in the society pages.

She’d recognized his name instantly, however, and not only because she was treating his half-brother, Dante. The Jericho family had a sprawling ranch outside town and an interest in a number of local businesses. But most of their wealth, she’d heard, came from oil. The Jerichos, at least the legitimate ones, had money. Barrels and barrels of it.

Luke’s name was on the lips of every unattached female in town—from the clerk at the local Shop and Save to the debutant docent at the Georgia O’Keeffe museum:

Single.

Handsome.

Criminally rich.

Luke Jericho, they whispered.

When she’d turned to find him watching her, his heated gaze had caused her very bones to sizzle. Luke had stood formidably tall, dressed in an Armani suit that couldn’t hide his rancher’s physique. The gallery lights seemed to spin his straw-colored hair into gold and ignite blue fire in his eyes. She could still feel his gaze raking over her in that casual way, as if he didn’t wish to conceal his appetites. It was easy to see how some women might become undone in his presence. She eased closer to the fan.

“Dr. Clancy.”

That low male voice gave her a fizzy, sick feeling in the pit of her stomach, like she’d just downed an Alka-Seltzer on top of the flu. When you’re all alone in a room, and someone else speaks, it’s just plain creepy.

It only took a millisecond to recognize the voice, but at a time when someone dubbed The Santa Fe Saint was on a killing spree, that was one millisecond too long. Icy tendrils of fear wrapped themselves around her chest, squeezing until it hurt her heart to go on beating. The cold certainty that things were not as they should be made the backs of her knees quiver. Then recognition kicked in, and her breath released in a whoosh.

It’s only Dante.

She pasted on a neutral expression and turned to face him. How’d he gotten in? The entrance was locked; she was certain of it.

“Did I frighten you?”

She inclined her head toward the front door to her office, which was indeed locked, and said, “Next time, Dante, I’d prefer you use the main entrance…and knock.”

“I came in the back.”

That much was obvious now that she’d regained her wits. “That’s my private entrance. It’s not intended for use by patients.” Stupid of her to leave it unlocked, but it was midday and she hadn’t expected an ambush.

To buy another moment to compose herself, she went to her bookcase and inspected its contents. Toward the middle, Freud’s “Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis” leaned haphazardly in the direction of its opponent, Skinner’s “Behavior Therapy”. A paperback version of “A Systems Approach to Family Therapy” had fallen flat, not quite bridging the gap between the warring classics.

Dante crossed the distance between them, finishing directly in front of her, invading her personal space. “Quite right. I didn’t mean to startle you.”

She caught a blast of breath, pungent and wrong—a Listerine candle floating in a jar of whiskey. In self-defense, she took a step back before looking up at her patient’s face. Dante possessed his brother’s intimidating height, but unlike Luke, his hair was jet black, and his coal-colored eyes were so dark it was hard to distinguish the pupil from the iris. Despite Dante’s dark complexion and the roughness of his features—he had a previously broken nose and a shiny pink scar that gashed across his cheekbone into his upper lip—there was a distinct family resemblance between the Jericho brothers. Luke was the fair-haired son to Dante’s black sheep, and even their respective phenotypes fit the cliche.

Dante took a step forward.

She took another deep step back, bumping her rear-end against wood. With one hand she reached behind her and felt for the smooth rim of her desktop. With the other hand, she put up a stop sign. “Stay right where you are.”

He halted, and she edged her way behind her desk, using it as a barrier between herself and Dante. Maybe she should advise him to enroll in a social skills class since he didn’t seem to realize how uncomfortable he was making her. Though she knew full well Dante wasn’t on her schedule today—no one was on her schedule today—she powered on her computer. “Hang on a second while I check my calendar.”

“All right.” At least he had the courtesy to play along.

When he rested his hand on her desk, she noticed he was carrying a folded newspaper. She’d already seen today’s headline, and it had given her the shivers. “Any minute now.” She signaled to Dante with an upheld index finger.

He nodded, and, in what seemed an eternity of time, her computer finished booting. She navigated from the welcome screen to her schedule, and then in a firm, matter-of-fact voice, she told him, “I’m afraid you’ve made a mistake. Your appointment isn’t until Monday at four pm.”

As he took another step closer, a muscle twitched in his jaw. He didn’t seem to care when his appointment was. Gesturing toward the leather armchair on the patient side of her desk, she fended him off. “Have a seat right there.” If she could get him to sit down, maybe she could gain control of the situation; she really ought to hear him out long enough to make sure this wasn’t some sort of emergency.

Dante didn’t sit. Instead, from across the desk, his body inclined forward. Her throat went dry, and her speeding pulse signaled a warning. If this were an emergency, he most likely would have tried to contact her through her answering service, besides which, he’d had plenty of time already to mention anything urgent. He must’ve known he didn’t have an appointment today, so what the hell was he doing here on a Saturday?

Dante had no reason at all to expect her to be here. In fact, the more she thought about it, the less sense his presence made. Pulling her shoulders back, she said, “I am sorry, but you need to leave. You’ll have to come back on Monday at four.”

The scar tissue above his mouth tugged his features into a menacing snarl. “I saw you talking to my brother.”

He’d followed her from the art gallery.

Even though Dante’s primary diagnosis was schizotypal personality disorder, there was a paranoid component present, exacerbated by a sense of guilt and a need to compensate for feelings of inferiority. His slip and slide grip on reality occasionally propelled him into a near delusional state. She could see him careening into a dark well of anxiety now, and she realized she needed to reassure him she wasn’t colluding with his half-brother against him. “I wasn’t talking to your brother about you. In fact, I didn’t have any idea I had wandered into your brother’s art gallery until he…introduced himself.”

“I don’t believe you.”

As fast as her heart was galloping, she managed a controlled reply. “That hardly bodes well for our relationship as doctor and patient, does it? But the truth is, we were discussing a painting.”

“Discussing my painting, discussing me, same difference.”

His painting?

That bit of information did nothing to diminish her growing sense of apprehension. That painting had had a darkness in it like nothing she’d ever seen before. A darkness that had captivated her attention, daring her to unravel its mysterious secrets.

Then Dante dropped into the kind of predatory crouch that would’ve made a kitten roll over and play dead.

But she wasn’t a kitten.

Defiantly, she exhaled slow and easy. If she didn’t know better, she’d think Dante was intentionally trying to frighten her. “I’m happy to see you during your regular hour, and we can schedule more frequent sessions if need be, but for now, I’m afraid it’s time for you to go.”

He returned to a stand. “You’re here all alone today.”

A shudder swept across her shoulders. He was right. No one else was in the building. She shared a secretary with an aesthetician down the hall, and today Stacy hadn’t been at her post. The aesthetician usually worked Saturday mornings, but she must’ve finished for the day and gone home. Home was where Faith wanted to go right now. She wished she’d kept her clutch in hand. Her phone was in that clutch. “We’ll work on that trust issue on Monday.”

With Dante’s gaze tracking hers, her eyes fell on her lovely macaron bag, lying on the desktop near his fingertips. He lifted the clutch as if to offer it to her, but then drew his hand back and stroked the satin shell against his face.

The room suddenly seemed too small. “I don’t mean to be unkind. We’ve been working hard these past few weeks and making good progress up to this point, and I’d hate to have to refer you to another psychiatrist, but I will if I have to.” She paused for breath.

“You’re barefoot.” Slowly, he licked his lower lip.

Feeling as vulnerable as if she were standing before him bare-naked instead of bare-footed, she slipped back into her shoes. Jerking a glance around the room, she cursed herself for furnishing the place so sparsely, as if she didn’t plan on staying in Santa Fe long. It wasn’t like she had anywhere else to call home anymore, and now here she stood without so much as a paperweight to conk someone on the head with if…The window was open, at least she could scream for help if necessary. “We’re done here.”

“I’m not leaving, Dr. Clancy.” He opened her purse, removed her cell and slid it into his pants pocket, then dropped her purse on the floor.

Her stomach got fizzy again, and she gripped the edge of her desk. Screaming didn’t seem like the most effective plan. It might destabilize him and cause him to do something they’d both regret. For now at least, a better plan was to stay calm and listen. If she could figure out what was going on inside his head, maybe she could stay a step ahead of him and diffuse the situation before it erupted into a full-scale nightmare. “Give me back my phone, and then we can talk.”

Here came that involuntary snarl of his. “No phone. And I’m not leaving until I’ve done what I came here to do.” Carefully unfolding the newspaper he’d brought with him, he showed her the headline:

Santa Fe Saint Claims Fourth Victim.

Author Bio:

Carey Baldwin is a mild-mannered doctor by day and an award-winning author of edgy suspense by night. She holds two doctoral degrees, one in medicine and one in psychology. She loves reading and writing stories that keep you off balance and on the edge of your seat. Carey lives in the southwestern United States with her amazing family. In her spare time she enjoys hiking and chasing wildflowers.

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