Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review/Giveaway Skewered Halo

Reading Addiction Blog Tours

Skewered Halo
Brenda Youngerman
Strategic Book Publishing
February 14th, 2012
230 Pages

Skewered Halo is like no other story you have ever read! Diane Montrose wakes up one morning to find out that her entire life has been based upon lies and treachery. Everything she thought she knows… she doesn’t!

It’s bad enough that as a young girl her older sister informed Diane that she was placed on her parents’ doorstep and that she was nothing better than garbage. But when, at the age of eighteen, she finally informed her parents of the story they denied the whole thing, yet still sided with the treacherous sister. To make matters worse her sister managed to dictate everything in Diane’s life even though she didn’t know it!

Follow along as the lies, treachery and mystery surrounding Diane are uncovered….. or are they??

She slowly wound herself down the hall to the bedrooms. The first door on the right was her son’s room. Tyler had been an angel from the moment he was born. Nothing and no one could ever put out his light. Just watching his wonderment at life could crack even the hardest of shells. No one ever walked away from Tyler without a smile on their face.
When Kyle came along a year later, Tyler welcomed him with open arms, and the boys were inseparable. The room for one immediately became a room for two. Bath time became playtime. She crossed the hall to the tiny bathroom and could picture the two of them playing in the tub. Tears crept into her eyes, and she just let them fall.
She continued her journey to the next bedroom. The bed was made with a pink-ruffled spread, and there were animals waiting on the pillow. Those animals were going to have to wait for a very long time. Diane could see the tiny silhouette of her daughter drawing. “Look, Mommy, I made a pretty picture for you!” She had just smiled at her and said it was nice; she was too busy to take notice. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she went into the master bedroom and reminisced about the day they’d bought the house.
“I hate this bathroom, Gary,” she’d told him. “It’s ridiculous.”
“I know, hon, we’ll get it fixed right away,” he’d promised. That never happened.
Not for the first time, and certainly not for the last, she said, “Gary Montrose! I hope you’re rotting in hell!”

This book was very well written but not really my cup of tea. I found that there was just too many things happening to Diane for it all to be believable. Having raised children of my own I don't see how the parents in this story could have been so blind to what was going on because for all intents and purposes they seemed normal about everything else except Diane. 
I was kind of surprised when the book ended, I was thinking I must have missed some pages. 
If you like women's fiction you will like this book, it gives 'dysfunctional family' a whole new meaning!

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Author Bio
Brenda Youngerman writes about stories that matter. A southern California native coming from a very large family where she never felt like she fit in. “I was the youngest member of a huge family and I never really felt like I belonged there.”

Her first novel, Private Scars, was an expose of what happens to a victim of domestic abuse when they have never been exposed to it. From the moment the first review came out Youngerman realized her calling… that of the voice of the victims.. those who don’t have the strength to speak for themselves. Since Private Scars (2006), Youngerman has published a novel a year, each one exposing another social issue that those in power choose not to discuss. “If one person is helped by one of my novels, that is a good day.”

Skewered Halo takes a look at the filth behind sibling rivalry that goes unnoticed by inattentive parents. Brenda is currently at work at her eighth and ninth novel (simultaneously).



*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of Reading Addiction Blog Tours and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by Reading Addiction Blog Tours, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review. There was no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, publisher, publicist, or readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning Use of Endorcements and Testimonials in Advertising*

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Firefly Beach Excerpt/Giveaway!

Firefly Beach

Meira Pentermann

April 5th 2012

332 pages

When Beth LaMonte rents a cottage on the coast of Maine, she wishes only to withdraw and paint. A mysterious ball of light disturbs her peace and leads her to a secret beach where she finds the diary of a girl who disappeared in 1975. Now Beth is on a mission, not only to bury her own past, but to put to rest the spirit of Firefly Beach.

Mary took a sip of water and leaned toward Beth almost whispering, even though she knew perfectly well that Lou could hear her. “We have to mail him Lou’s invoices. Heaven forbid we drop by in person. He won’t even answer the door. I know when he’s there, the old coot. He just won’t answer the bell.” Mary enjoyed a bite of potato and a big gulp of water before resuming her character analysis. “It’s like he has no need to interact with other human beings.”Beth looked down at her chicken and cut off a small bite. She took a brief inventory of the last ten years of her life and wondered if her acquaintances and co-workers would say the same things about her.Mary prattled on, oblivious to Beth’s internal dialogue. “If it weren’t for people’s boats breaking down—” She interrupted herself, turned to Beth, and explained, “He fixes boats at the marina, but he spends most of his time on his own boat, tinkering and sailing. The Bottomless Blue, he calls it. . . the boat that is. A rather sad name if you ask me.” Mary took a sip of water and continued. “Anyway, if it weren’t for people’s boats breaking down, I don’t think he would talk to anyone, period. I don’t know what happened in his life to make him so cross. He’s got a few gears loose in his head if you ask me.”“He’s just a lost soul,” Lou said.Mary glared with little compassion. “You mean he’s lost his soul.” She took a bite of chicken and allowed a rare moment of silence. “My mother will tell you otherwise, dear,” she said to Beth. “Mother says he used to be quite a gentleman and a decent neighbor. I rather have my doubts. I vaguely remember him. I grew up here before I became a military wife and moved all over kingdom come.” She flashed an impish grin in Lou’s direction. “I believe he had a daughter in elementary school when Lou and I were in high school. Obviously she hightailed it out of here as soon as she could, the poor dear.” Mary sighed. “The man has no one, but it’s his own damn fault. He drives people away.”Lou cleared his throat.Mary ignored him. “It’s just as well he’s a hermit. I’d rather not have a conversation with him, anyway. He gives me the willies, sucks all the good energy out of the room when he walks into it.”

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Author Bio:
On slow, snowy days in her Colorado home, Meira Pentermann enjoys cozying up on the couch with a novel. Naturally, snow is not a requirement; neither is the couch. In fact, she sees no reason not to indulge in reading three-hundred-and-sixty-five days a year. Apocalyptic science fiction, mysteries, and young adult titles top her Kindle list, but legal thrillers and chik-lit make an appearance now and then.

When not absorbed in writing or reading, Meira enjoys life’s little moments with her family – the love and devotion of her black lab, the quiet wisdom of her artistic twenty-one-year-old, the trials and triumphs of her petite sixth grader, and the unlimited encouragement offered by her Dutch husband.

Meira strives to write stories that deliver the unexpected. She prefers down-to-earth characters that look and behave like regular folks. The prom queen and Adonis take a backseat to reclusive, soul-searching heroines and quirky, introverted gentlemen. 


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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tide of Lies by Sarah Ballance

Tide of Lies
Sarah Ballance
Noble Publishing
April 15th 2012
104 Pages

A devastating secret. A shocking betrayal. A deadly obsession.

Haunted by three unsolved murders, Detective Holden Whitlow is stunned when his cold case takes a heated turn. Julia Cohen, his ex-lover, is back in town, and in the face of a brutal attack she's ready to run. No matter how tightly she holds her secrets, for Holden, turning away from the woman he's spent a decade trying to forget isn't any more an option than walking away from his job . . .even when it threatens to cost Julia her life.

Julia is still reeling from a past she can't bear to face. When she becomes the target of a killer, fate throws her back into Holden's arms, but she's yet to recover from a truth that has stripped her of everything—and everyone—she loves. Will she tell him the secret that will destroy him, or will her lie destroy them both?


Chapter One

Another one.
Holden Whitlow could have done without that grim utterance from his sergeant re-entering his life. He exhaled, wishing the hot, summer sun would dissolve some of the unease weighing him down. But the scorching rays cutting through the windshield only left him hot and sticky, prompting his sunglasses to slide down his nose and his shirt to plaster against his back. The discomfort, however, didn't best the miserable prospect of walking onto a crime scene and confronting the fourth murder victim of his short career.
Two years ago, a stalker turned murderer and took three local women as victims. The cases remained unsolved. Holden had been sopping wet behind the ears at the time, but his inexperience landed him a top-notch partner in Greg Martin, the lead detective who since retired. Although the whole Barrier Shoals PD had, at some point, worked the stalker case—Martin even checking in from his living room—guilt led Holden to carry the weight of the unsolved murders solo. It dug deep under his skin, and whether or not his cold case had just been set ablaze, the heat was on.
He wasn't a math guy, but oh-for-four rang in his ears like nails on a chalkboard.
This murderer wouldn't get away.
Spying the convenience store marking the crime scene, Holden steered his Crown Vic into the lot and parked on the far edge, intending to close the last sixty feet on foot. There was no reason to hurry or risk driving over evidence. The girl was dead.
Holden's partner had beat him there, a faux pas the older detective would never let Holden live down. Detective John "Bear" Barrett surveyed the surroundings, fingers splayed on his hips, one hand in the vicinity of his badge and the other in close quarters with a Glock.
"You're late," he said, not bothering to look up as Holden neared.
Holden snorted. "I thought you were on vacation."
"Was. I came back for the show."
"I'm sure our vic appreciates your dedication to the cause," Holden said, not feeling the edge of his own humor. He cast a cursory glance around the defunct Quik-Stop. Dented gas pumps stretched in a forlorn line, islands in a sea of broken glass. Thin lines of grass snaked over the lot, marking cracks in the pavement. Holden smelled the stench of abandonment, felt the pulse of death. "Where's the body?"
Holden consulted his phone for the time. A quarter hour had passed since the call. A couple of techs had their noses to the pavement, plucking at the scattered, nearly microscopic debris of the abandoned lot with tweezers, but the coroner, David Frankel, was nowhere in sight. Short of disavowing protocol and shoving the body in his trunk, there was no way he could clear a scene in fifteen minutes. "The morgue? Already?"
Bear knelt, balancing on the balls of his feet, and cocked his head, studying the ground. Shifting his sunglasses away from his eyes, he raised an arm and motioned over a young woman from forensics.
"Make sure you catch this trail," he said, pointing first to his feet, then in a line toward the building. Without waiting for her response, he righted himself and returned the shades to his nose. "I said hospital, Whitlow. Not morgue. Considering the victim is still breathing—but barely—I don't think she'd take kindly to a tour of the basement."
"She's alive?"
Bear paced the twenty feet to the painted brick corner of the store. A metal door on the side hung slightly ajar, the word "JON" displayed with crooked, stuck-on letters. He nudged open the door wider with his foot. Seconds later, his head jerked to the side as if the stench had reached out and slapped him.
Laughing, Holden edged closer. "I could have told you not to breathe, Detective."
He pulled a penlight from his pocket and directed it inside the stall, pressing his mouth in a thin line to suppress his gag reflex. Questionable patches in various shades of brown smeared the floors, and the toilet held what appeared to be a solid mass of waste he didn't care to investigate. His quick sweep of the room came to an abrupt end at the sink, where dark crimson marred the already stained porcelain.
"You thinking what I'm thinking?" Holden asked, glancing to Bear, who had joined him in the doorway.
"Looks like blood to me." Bear shook his head. "I'd sure hate to be the guy sopping up DNA out of that shit hole."
Holden scratched the back of his neck, surveying the handful of officers and forensic techs scattered over the scene. "I can't imagine why anyone would want to go in there, criminal or otherwise."
That particular restroom had never been golden. When he was at the tender, scheming age of fourteen, he and his buddy, Bridger Jansen, used to buy cigarettes from an elderly—and half blind—cashier and hide in the bathroom to smoke. Fully functioning, it hadn't smelled much better than it did now.
Bear covered his nose and mouth with his forearm.
"Well, someone wanted in, and recently," he said, his voice muffled. "See a rookie due for a hazing?"
With a rueful glance through the open doorway, Holden shook his head. "That's why I don't work forensics."
"Yeah," Bear said, walking away from the building. "Someone else does the grunt work, and we get the glory. Cushy job, huh?"
Glory. Not much of that in three unsolved murders. Holden joined Bear by the curb where he stood—his foot propped on the concrete—and shook off a squirrely sense of déjà vu. No. This one was different. "She's alive, you say?"
"Catch up, Whitlow. Unconscious when they found her, but breathing. Who told you she was dead?"
Holden mentally wheeled back through the phone call from his sergeant. He hadn't specifically said the woman was dead, but the implication had been there. Another one.
"The victim, where was she?" Only a few rushed footprints disturbed the grime and . . . stuff on the bathroom floor. The victim couldn't have been there in a state of failing consciousness, which begged three questions: Where had the blood come from? Whose blood was in the bathroom . . . and how did it get there?
Pointing to a cluster of uniforms, Bear said, "Victim was balled up over there on the pavement. Kid in the jeans called it in. Said he thought he saw her breathing but was afraid to get too close. Didn't want the breeze blowing his DNA on her or something."
Holden followed Bear's gesture, pegging the kid at the other end of it for about fifteen. He was tall and scrawny, with the height of a man but none of the bulk. Head down and sans his shoes, he toed the end of a skateboard, causing it to clack against the pavement. Long, blond bangs obscured his face. "Did he see anything?"
"A lump out of the corner of his eye. He was cruising down the sidewalk when he noticed her. He came over to investigate. When he realized the object was human, he freaked and dialed 9-1-1 from his cell phone. Or that's his story, anyway."
Holden's jaw clenched. He didn't like getting his information secondhand. Bear had a good eight years of police experience over him, though, and his work was meticulous. Whatever information he had would be good. "You don't believe him?"
"It's the scene of the crime, Whitlow. I don't believe anyone yet."
Holden set his jaw. "Do you have a reason—?"
Bear grinned, and then leaned closer. "Between you and me, he's about to piss himself. Did I mention the kid was bleeding? Nice little gash on his hand. I bet my badge that blood in the bathroom is his."
"Yeah," Holden grumbled. "Empty wager. You just like toying with me."
"I'm a high stakes man." Bear grinned and cocked his head toward the restroom. "What do you want to believe he stepped in something?"
That would certainly explain why the boy was standing there in his socks. Nothing to ruin an afternoon like having your shoes hijacked as evidence. Holden tried to imagine how that excuse would have flown with his own mother, fast deciding it wouldn't. He hoped the kid was as innocent as he looked. Holden turned to Bear. "Hey, how did you get here so fast? You're making me look bad."
"Eh. My wife dragged me to the gallery around the corner for some watercolor exhibit. I drew the line at an hour-long session on interpretation, so she cut me loose to grab some coffee. I was right across the street when the call came." He held up a paper cup in mock salute.
Holden hadn't even noticed Bear's car was absent. Some detective. "I don't guess you saw anything?"
"Nope, not a thing. Everything was quiet until the sirens started blaring. I got here about the time the ambulance did. Cramer was the first uniform on the scene, but not by much. I watched him pull in. It's pretty quiet around here—especially for a Saturday afternoon."
That it was, especially for tourist season. A quaint resort town alongside the Atlantic Ocean, Barrier Shoals usually hosted tourists from May through September, and this morning shouldn't have been an exception. But other than a small crowd drawn by the police presence, the lonely corner now felt . . . dead.
Holden winced at the thought.
Bear crossed his arms and fixed his sunglass-covered stare on Holden. "You've still got your head in your ass over those murders a few years back."
"No . . . yeah." Holden blew a sharp breath and planted his hands on his head. "Hell, Barrett, I don't know. It's hard sitting on a case you never solved. The guilt doesn’t go away just because you close the file."
"Wouldn't know about that. My closure rate is pristine."
Holden rolled his eyes, dropping his hands to his hips. "If you're so smart, work the cold case. You find the guy."
"In due time, partner. We've got a hot one, so how about we stick to the living victims for now?" Bear's cell phone chirped. He consulted the screen, and then held up a finger signaling he needed a minute. Lifting the device to his ear, he said, "Barrett."
Turning to allow Bear a modicum of privacy, Holden rolled his shoulders and cocked his head, popping his neck. He was off his game, unable to shake the discord that arrived on the heels of the initial call. Another one. Clearly, Holden wasn't the only one haunted by the past. His sergeant's tone had carried the same wariness now lumped in Holden's chest. The question was, why?
What was it about this call that had set off eerie alarm bells in both their minds? The vic wasn't dead. Nothing about this scene seemed remotely connected to the others—and yet . . . Barrier Shoals was a small town. Most of the crime he handled was the minor break-ins and purse snatchings that seemed to plague the tourist season. A murder. An assault. These were rare. Rare enough to raise the sergeant's hackles. And after all the dead ends he'd been finding lately, Holden was on edge, as well.
Behind him, Bear cleared his throat. "You want to go talk to the vic? I can handle things here."
Holden turned, looking at Bear in surprise. "Me? It's not like you to give up a bedside encounter with a woman."
Bear dropped his cell phone in his pocket and shrugged, his self-proclaimed lady-killing grin in a lazy sprawl across his face. "You have a point there, but I'm not into sloppy seconds."
The dig worked. Holden froze. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"You got me, Whitlow, but our vic is awake. Seems the lovely Julia Cohen is asking for you by name."
Julia Cohen. The name wasn't familiar, but the nagging feeling Holden should know it tailed him all the way to the hospital. The unease kept him company in the otherwise empty elevator where he now stood, thumbs hooked in his pockets with his fingers tapping his thighs. The numbers above the doors lit in rapid succession before landing on six with a quiet ping.
Julia . . . Julia . . . .
The doors slid open to reveal a bustling nurses' station. Ahead, a uniformed officer leaned against the wall, saving Holden the trouble of asking directions. He flashed his badge to the desk nurse and made his way down the hall, sidestepping an elderly woman in a wheelchair and food cart with a stack of covered dishes. The smell of the waiting dinners made his stomach rumble, reminding him he'd skipped lunch.
His stride faltered as he neared the room. He should have stopped for an update on Ms. Cohen's condition. Now, thanks to his bull-nosed curiosity, he had no idea what to expect. With a nod to the officer, Holden knocked lightly on the door, and then waited a few seconds before letting himself in.
Afternoon sunlight bathed the room in an earthy glow, casting a deep shadow over her face and masking her identity from him. His only clue was the shape of the blankets draped over her, which suggested her frame was slight, her height petite. Lacking anything else to go on, Holden took her name for another spin. Julia . . . .
"You cut your hair," she said.
Startled, Holden drew his hand to his head, his palm pressing the soft spikes aside.
Quiet laughter met his ears. "You didn't know?"
Holden squirmed inside, feeling every bit the schmuck for not recognizing her, though she clearly felt she knew him. But her voice . . . it might have been familiar if not for the dry, raspy undertones—a beating could do that to a person, though. Damn. His victim knew him—or thought she did—and he hadn't a clue who she was. After the trio of murders hit Barrier Shoals, he'd had plenty of cameras shoved in his face. Was she one of those so-called murder groupies? Either way, she had the advantage. If he could only see her . . . he struggled with the urge to turn on the overhead light, eliminating the shadows. Grasping, he tried to remember when he'd last made a change to his hair.
Seventeen. Right before his first semester of college, his mom pleaded with him to ditch the shaggy surfer cut—something to do with the world not taking him seriously with his hair in his face. She equated grooming with respectability, and Holden had fast learned the fine art of choosing his battles. Maybe that's why he felt for the kid standing in his socks at the crime scene—Holden had been there and done a little too much of that.
But choosing battles wasn't the only thing Holden had done that summer.
He'd been engaged . . . .
Recognition slammed into him.
"Jules." His voice broke. He tried to hide it by clearing his throat. This was a hellfire state of awkward. It wasn't every day a man ran into the woman who'd made a dizzying, mind-blowing play for his virginity . . . and won.
That part had been amazing. The rest, he had just tried to forget.
Finding his feet, he dragged a chair to her bedside and sank onto the hard vinyl. He fiddled with his fingers for a long moment, finally looking up from the floor tile to find her eyes. Closer now, he knew without a doubt it was her. "I never knew your last name."
Or, it seemed, her first.
Jules—Julia—held his gaze.
"I don't guess I gave you much of a chance to learn it," she said, her voice soft and . . . wistful?
He swallowed, choking back an unexpected tide of emotion. "No, you didn't."
Her luminous green eyes poured over him. The darkness of the room couldn't entirely overshadow their brilliance, nor did it hide the beginnings of some nasty bruises, but that one look did a fine job of putting to rest any ideas he ever had about being over her.
His heart squeezed in his chest. Do your job. "What happened?"
She leaned forward, and Holden automatically reached to help adjust the pillows behind her back. His fingers grazed hers over the corner of the pillowcase. The passing touch sent his stomach on a wild plummet, any chance of forgetting their past lost to the force of gravity tugging on him like a black hole.
"I was on my way to see you," she said, drawing him from his thoughts.
"Me?" His voice came out as a manly squeak. Great. "May I?"
He reached for the light, adjusting it to the lowest setting when she nodded. God help him, he had to see her again.
"Yes, you. I heard you were lead detective on that stalker case that was just in the news." Julia toyed with the bedspread, rolling it between her thumb and forefinger. "I wanted to get in touch with you. For years, actually. But after the way I left, I didn't know what to say."
Holden tensed, but remained quiet. By all appearances, the recent case had ended in suicide and would be off his desk—if not his mind—as soon as the routine investigation was closed.
"It was complicated," she said. "I couldn't . . . ."
Her eyes grew shiny, but the tears didn't come.
"It's okay, Jules," he said, ignoring the part of him screaming to know why she had ducked out without a word so many years ago. The blow he took to his ego was to be expected—any guy who gave up his virginity only to have the girl bolt would be inclined to feel like a chump—but the stabbing ache in his heart back then had been a surprise. "Can we talk about what happened today?"
She nodded, the tears holding their ground, unshed. "Like I said, I was on my way to see you. Not long ago, I started getting . . . notes. I didn't think much of them at first, but when I heard about the stalking a couple of days ago, I got worried."
Holden had been worried, too. Earlier that week, his old friend, Laney Kent, had been attacked and left for dead by her jealous co-worker. Although Holden's initial assessment drew parallels to the unsolved murders, Laney's case—unlike those in his past—had been resolved.
"We got the guy," he said, his voice low.
Julia tipped her head, her gaze piercing him. "I know. But it made me think twice about the notes I'd gotten."
The nagging feeling returned. "Tell me about them."
"They started out more in the style of a secret admirer. Compliments on my hair or my outfit. A line about how he smiled every time he thought of me. Flattery, you know?"
He nodded. "Any idea who they were from?"
"No. I just assumed it was someone trying to be cute. Four days of those—six notes total—then they changed, and it really started to creep me out. He was so specific he had to be watching me. He'd tell me he was displeased when he saw me smiling at the cashier when I got coffee that morning. Or I shouldn't have eaten those fries with lunch because I'd ruin my figure. Like he was looking over my shoulder, you know?"
Holden gave another slight nod. "Did he give any details about himself?"
"No . . . I just assumed it was a man. I wasn't sure, but I brought the notes. They're in my"—her eyes widened—"my purse! Holden, did anyone find it?"
"What does it look like?" he asked, pulling his phone from his pocket. He relayed the details by text to Bear. "My partner is on the case, and as he likes to tell it, his closure rate is pristine. I'm sure he won't let a handbag thwart him." Holden smiled, hoping he sounded reassuring. "Where do you live now?"
"Atwood. It's a couple hours away."
He knew a uniform with Atwood PD. Holden made a mental note to ask about any similar cases there. "I know it. Did you report any of this to them?"
"I didn't think there was anything to report. I mean, I started thinking of what happened here before and got freaked out, but I didn't think the cops would care about a couple of notes, especially considering there were no threats made. Nothing actually happened until today."
"So you came to see me?" Holden did his best to speak over the little lump of curiosity in his throat. He'd never wanted to completely forget the time he spent with Jules—the problem was he couldn't forget how it ended. And after years of safekeeping in a corner of himself he seldom acknowledged, having those old feelings ripped raw unsettled him. Seeing her bruised, however, was far worse. Protective instincts prowled the fence he'd erected around his heart, the resurfaced feelings looking for a hole through which to charge.
Holden could not—would not—go there again. But his determination made her eyes no less green, the bruises no less real.
Julia shifted in the bed, dragging his attention to the shape of her legs under the blanket. His mind jumped to memories of plunging between them. His initial strokes—tentative and awkward—had fired into a two-week long, unholy streak of sin from which he'd yet to recover.
Julia showed no outward signs of sharing his thoughts, but how could she? She only knew half the story, and she'd left him the hell out of hers. He didn't know what made her run, but it was just as well. If her secrets had anything on his, they were both better off in the dark.
She tucked an escaped lock of hair behind her ear and blew a shaky breath.
"It's like I said. I started to worry. I asked . . . well, I cleared my schedule for a couple of days. I wanted to talk to you. There are some things I need to say." Her voice wavered, but her eyes never left his.
Holden rocked back in the chair, unsure if they were stepping around the past or headed right for it. Either way, there was a big white elephant in the corner of the room, and the sun glinting off the damn thing nearly blinded him.
"We can talk later about . . . whatever you need to say to me. I need to know about the attack." He paused, finding her gaze. "If our past is too much of a distraction, I can have someone else interview you."
Her eyes flashed with indignation. "Holden Whitlow, if you think—"
"Wait." That spark of emotion from her sent his mind on a skid. Something didn't make sense. Bear reported the perp had beaten Julia within an inch of her life, but she seemed miles from it. Holden wouldn't peg her as cheerful, but this was far from a deathbed conversation. She'd joked with him . . . she'd smiled. He sat up straight and leaned toward her. "How badly were you beaten?"
She blinked, all traces of anger faded from her expression. "What? How do I even answer that?"
Searching for a new approach to his question he asked, "Were you unconscious?"
"No," she said, a small grin lighting her face. "I pretended I was. Thought he might quit if he thought I was out."
"And the bruises?"
"I haven't exactly seen them yet, but he did hit me in the face—twice. By the second punch, I realized he meant business, so I stopped fighting and fell. He kicked me a few times, but I don't think he made a solid connection. I just balled up and went limp."
"That move probably saved your life," he said, studying the early bruising circling each of her eyes. A raw scrape on her cheek didn't hide the darkening there.
She smiled. Bittersweet and sad, it didn't reach her eyes. "I have a lot to live for, Holden."
He fiddled with his hands, biting back the urge to ask her to elaborate. Who or what had put that wistful tone in her voice? "Can you tell me what happened during the attack? How did he approach you?"
"I didn't see much. I got off the bus at the corner and headed west toward my hotel, the Beacon Inn. Next thing I knew, I'd been grabbed and dragged away from the sidewalk, behind the store."
Holden nodded. The gas station sat on a corner lot, and west took her right beside the abandoned convenience store, giving her attacker easy cover. "When did he hit you?"
"I didn't make it easy for him at first. I fought him until we turned the corner of the building away from the street, when he just let go. I probably should have run, but I was so surprised I turned to look at him. Ski mask," she said, answering the question he'd yet to ask. "That was all I saw before he hit me. The second one came immediately thereafter."
"So you were near the building when you went down?"
"Right beside it."
"You were found across the parking lot," he said. "Do you remember getting yourself over there?"
"Yes, a little while after the attack."
Her voice was so soft it pained him. He couldn't imagine how scared and alone she must have felt lying there. "Did you go in the bathroom at any point?"
She wrinkled her nose. "I've always avoided gas station bathrooms. Today was no exception."
"When did you begin to move?"
"He stopped kicking me. I counted to a hundred . . . about five times." She laughed, sadly, and the self-depreciation tore through him. "I don't know how long it was, but when I figured he was gone, I started crawling across the lot. My vision was blurry and everything hurt. I didn't want to chance running into him again but don't know what choice I had. I hoped someone—someone else—would see me."
"Someone did." The kid with the skateboard. "What can you tell me about the man who attacked you? His build? Height? Did you see his eyes?"
"Gray eyes. Cold and dark, like the person behind them was dead—soulless. He was taller than me, but then again, who isn't?" She laughed again. "Nothing extraordinary."
"Did he say anything?"
She shook her head. "Not a word."
"Were all of the notes delivered in Atwood?" When she nodded, he asked, "Do you have any reason—even if it's a gut feeling—to think this was related to the notes?"
Julia bit her bottom lip, and then winced as if it pained her.
"No," she said slowly. "I guess I don't. No real reason. Maybe if not for knowing the guy was still out there . . . but from what I've read about your unsolved cases, the pattern fits. It just seems a bit much to chalk up to coincidence."
Holden couldn’t argue with that, but thus far, he knew of no real evidence connecting the cases. His next step would be to remedy that. He wasn't one to put much faith in coincidences.
Of course, he hadn't believed in ghosts, either.
Until now.


Tide of Lies is a quick second chance at romance plot with lots of suspense and a serial killer mystery all rolled into one which will allow you to enjoy the escape for a couple of hours. The characters are very well developed for a short book of 100 pages or so and Ms. Ballance’s ability to paint scenes is the best.  Holden and Julia have a lot of obstacles from the past to overcome so it keeps you on your toes wondering if they will be able to overcome those obstacles and solve the mystery of the serial killer before it’s too late. The mystery kept me guessing right up to the end. Will be looking for more from Ms. Ballance and highly recommend this one if you like a little romance with your suspense! Review copy supplied by the author for Sizzling PR.

Purchase Links:

Amazon:  Tide of Lies

Barnes & Noble:  Tide of Lies

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Spotlight: Almost Perfect by Jenna Jaxon

Almost Perfect
by Jenna Jaxon

1 Night Stand Series

Decadent Publishing

December 7 2011

39 pages

Pamela Kimball’s birthday present, a 1Night Stand adventure, promises jump-start her life, put a new man in her bed, and help her forget her past.  Unfortunately, movie-buff Pam’s Pirates of the Caribbean fantasy takes an alarming wrong turn when she’s abandoned on a not quite deserted island—with ex-husband Roger Ware. 
Forced by hunger to accept Roger’s offer of dinner,  Pam realizes the geek she married has transformed into one of the most charming, sexiest men she’s ever met. His newfound confidence—and hot body—re-kindles old fires.  A simple kiss leads Roger to challenges her to discover how much his lovemaking skills have improved, leaving Pam torn between self-preservation and burning desire. 
With time running out before they’re rescued, Pam must decide if her heart can survive the consequences of becoming Roger’s “almost” perfect 1Night Stand.

She inched into the lapping surf, searching for movement. Reflection off the water made this task harder than expected. Wasn’t the Caribbean supposed to be teeming with fish?  Now that’s something she’d had a lot of instruction in. Almost every marooned-on-an-island movie had a scene where the heroine learned to catch fish. Six Days, Father Goose, Blue Lagoon. All you needed was your hands and patience. She could do this.
Pam waded out further then stopped just before the water hit her now dry shorts. “Not gonna to have a damp crotch all night.” The words reminded her of exactly what she had hoped for tonight. “But not from wet shorts!” She headed back to shore to remove and drape them next to her shirt. The bandeau was a different story. Still damp, even after several hours, and uncomfortable. Might dry better if not next to her skin anyway. “Screw it!  Live dangerously.”
Standing as good as naked on the deserted beach, Pam smiled as the warm breeze caressed her bare body. The sense of being slightly naughty added to her delight in the sensual feel of the air as it dried her breasts. Her nipples peaked as the wind cooled them. She strutted down to the water’s edge to sink her toes in the sand, the salty tang in the air adding to the perfect moment.
“If you’re skinny dipping, you forgot to remove one very important piece of clothing.”
Pam whirled around. Roger stood on the beach behind her, a green bottle of Perrier in one hand. His gaze played up and down her naked torso and his salacious grin widened. “Mind if I join you?”

Author Bio:
Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical  and contemporary romance who has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager.  A romantic herself, Jenna has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise.  She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own writing.
Jenna lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets.  When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director.  She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage.
She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.

Buy Links: 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Coming May 22nd!! FEARLESS

FEARLESS takes you deep into SEAL Team SIX, straight to the heart of one of its most legendary operators.

FEARLESS is the intimate story of a devoted man who was an unlikely hero but a true warrior, described by all who knew him as just that—fearless.

When Navy SEAL Adam Brown woke up on March 17, 2010, he didn't know he would die that night in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan—but he was ready: In a letter to his children, not meant to be seen unless the worst happened, he wrote, “I’m not afraid of anything that might happen to me on this earth, because I know no matter what, nothing can take my spirit from me.”

Long before Adam Brown became a member of the elite SEAL Team SIX—the counterterrorism unit that took down Osama bin Laden—he was a fun-loving country boy from Hot Springs, Arkansas, whose greatest goal had been to wear his high school’s football jersey. An undersized daredevil, prone to jumping off roofs into trees and off bridges into lakes, Adam was a kid who broke his own bones but would never break a promise to his parents.
But after high school, Adam fell in with the wrong crowd and his family watched as his appetite for risk dragged him into a downward spiral that eventually landed him in jail. Battling his inner demons on a last-chance road to redemption, Adam had one goal: to become the best of the best—a US Navy SEAL.  
An absorbing chronicle of heroism and humanity, Fearless presents an indelible portrait of a highly trained warrior who would enter a village with weapons in hand to hunt terrorists, only to come back the next day with an armload of shoes and meals for local children. It is a deeply personal, revealing glimpse inside the SEAL Team SIX brotherhood that also shows how these elite operators live out the rest of their lives, away from danger, as husbands, fathers and friends. 
Fearless is the story of a man of extremes, whose courage and determination was fueled by faith, family, and the love of a woman. It’s about a man who waged a war against his own worst impulses and persevered to reach the top tier of the US military. Always the first to volunteer for the most dangerous assignments, Adam’s final act of bravery led to the ultimate sacrifice.
Adam Brown was a devoted man who was an unlikely hero but a true warrior, described by all who knew him as fearless.


AMAZON:  Fearless

BARNES & NOBLE:  Fearless


About the Author:

Eric Blehm is a bestselling and award-winning author of nonfiction books.
In 2006, Eric Blehm won the Barnes & Noble Discover Award for The Last Season (HarperCollins)a gripping account of the disappearance of legendary National Park Service ranger Randy Morgenson; The Last Season was also named by Outside magazine as one of the ten “greatest adventure biographies ever written” in 2009. Blehm’s next book, New York Times and Wall Street Journalbestseller The Only Thing Worth Dying For (HarperCollins, 2010), was hailed by former congressman Charlie Wilson, of Charlie Wilson’s War, as a “must read” among books about the current war in Afghanistan.
In 1999, Blehm became the first journalist to accompany and keep pace with an elite Army Ranger unit on a training mission. His access into the Special Operations community and reportage set an important milestone for American war journalism two years before reporters began to gain widespread embedded status with the U.S. military in the War Against Terror. Blehm’s immersion with the Rangers is what led him to the previously untold story of an elite team of eleven Green Berets who operated in the hinterland of Taliban-held Afghanistan just weeks after 9/11 (The Only Thing Worth Dying For), as well as to his current book:FEARLESS (Waterbrook/Multnomah; Random House). On sale in May 2012, Fearless is the heartrending and inspiring story of Naval Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Adam Brown, who overcame tremendous odds in his rise to the top tier of the U.S. military: SEAL Team SIX.
Blehm is the founder of Molly the Owl Books, the independent publishing company behind Molly the Owl—his popular nonfiction children’s book about a barn owl and her family—which won the 2011 Nautilus Award and the 2011 San Diego Book Award. Currently, he is working on his next nonfiction book, which takes place during the Cold War era.
Blehm lives in Southern California with his wife and children.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Submissions Call Ruby Lioness Press


Do you write...

Military Romance?                        Ruby Lioness Press is currently looking for military romance novella submissions to be released around Veteran’s Day (November 11, 2012).

Any heat level is welcome, including Menage and GLBT.

Stories must be romance with a HEA or Happy-for-now ending.

Stories should be:

•3,000-15,000 words

•Times New Roman   

•12pt Type

•Double Spaced   

•.doc or .rtf format

Please send submissions to on or before August 31st, 2012.

Find Ruby Lioness Press at: