Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Available Now: Murder in Retreat by Noreen Wainwright

Edith Horton Mysteries, #5
Noreen Wainwright



99c through 30 Sept
After settling in to married life in Ellbeck. Edith is happy when Henry goes on retreat to Staffordshire, knowing that spiritual renewal is an essential part of a busy vicar’s life. However, after meeting fellow priests, Henry soon realizes most have their own secrets and deep troubles to reflect upon. His sense of unease is vindicated when he discovers there is a murderer in St. Chad’s House, and he is reluctantly drawn into the mystery.

At home, Edith is plunged into a crisis when the son of her housekeeper, and friend, disappears. A figure from the past has been in contact with the boy, and both women fear for his safety. Adding to Edith’s distress, she worries about Henry and is unable to dismiss the deep concern she feels about him and what is happening at St. Chad’s.

Will Edith and Henry's involvement in the troubles affect their relationship? Can they survive the seemingly endless struggles and find their way back to each other?

• • •

July 1937

My Dear Edith,

The first thing to say is that I am missing you terribly and questioning my sanity in putting such distance between us so soon into our marriage. I hope all is well in Ellbeck. I am missing the village too, my parishioners, Julia and Peter, Archie and Hannah; oh, everybody. You, most of all, my dear Edith. One good thing has come out of my retreat (apart from, I hope, some spiritual reinvigoration); it has reminded me of what I have. My life was good and fulfilling before but it has been blessed so much more for having you in it.

I’d better give you a brief account of life here at St Chad’s. The house is four miles outside of Lichfield, so almost striking distance of the great Cathedral. I don’t know if you’ve been to Lichfield Cathedral, dark and Gothic and towering on the outside, inside warmer, filled with wood, lots of wood, and marble and everywhere you look, signs of the craftsmanship of those previous centuries, where today’s mechanisation wasn’t even a dream but I suppose labour was freely available and boys spent years in apprenticeship to stone-masons and carpenters.

It reminded me, funnily enough, of our trip to Whitby, last month, when we said much the same thing about the abbey there.

There are eight of us on the retreat and we remain silent during the day apart from when we take part in services. After supper at six, we have the opportunity to socialise.

I will tell you about the two characters who interest me most. The first is a young curate, Roland Weston. He makes me feel old and dull, Edith. I like him but he has the light of the zealot in his eyes and he can be rather hard work, at times. He works amongst the poor of Birmingham and I think he must feel that the rest of us are little more than Anglican parasites, lolling about conducting a few services here and there and opening village fetes. I suppose he has a point. However, I am little more tolerant of his youth and idealism than some of the others are, especially, Stephen Bird, a chap about my own age who had a bad war and has woken us up on one occasion with his night terrors. Poor chap. He was telling me that this is now an unusual occurrence and that he was treated most successfully by a nerve specialist based in Edinburgh. He is a vicar in a small church in Scotland and I would imagine, has found his niche after some difficult years. He does not always have a great tolerance of young Roland’s sermonising. I hope I have acted the peacemaker.

There is a very good-looking chap, by the name of David Fallon—the type women find attractive. I haven’t taken to him and that’s nothing to do with his looks. There are two chaps from Derbyshire with whom I have exchanged no more than a few sentences. Then there is the elderly Canon Richardson and I’ll tell you more about him when I next write.

I look forward to hearing from you and I will write again tomorrow. Thankfully, we have our own small bedrooms and it is a pleasure actually, to escape here for an hour and write to you.

With much love to you, Edith,


* * *


Edith folded the letter and put it into the envelope. She’d read it again, later. She hadn’t known what this would be like, their first time apart in almost a year of marriage. Missing Henry had swept in and surprised her. More than surprised. Wasn’t it strange, how you could change from a fairly self-sufficient person to one who felt unsettled without another being close? If they weren’t careful, they were in danger of turning into one of those smug couples who made others feel uncomfortable, those on their own, principally. No, she wouldn’t get like that because she had been on the outside looking in on those couples herself, for a long time.

“Lemonade,” Hannah put the tray down on the gate-legged, white trellis table.

“Thank you, Hannah. I’m glad you brought two glasses. Take the weight off your feet, for a minute and tell me again about John’s scholarship and Cathy’s teacher training.”

Hannah looked at her and frowned. “I will but I would have thought you’re far more taken up with what the doctor is planning to do, to be worrying about my two.” Hannah often mentioned her other employer, Edith’s brother Archie’s plans. Come to think of it, it must be unsettling for her not knowing whether she was going to lose part of her income. She had remained as Archie’s housekeeper also, when Edith had married Henry and moved across to the vicarage.

“I am, taken up with it, of course I am. But, maybe I need a bit of distraction. Maybe the build up to his leaving has gone on too long, you know, prolonging the agony.”

She was right. It was over a year since Archie had first brought up his plan of going to Canada. There were periods of time in the past twelve months when he had stopped talking about it and they all wondered if he was having second thoughts.

He’d been present at two weddings in that period, she and Henry and Julia and Peter. Julia…there was a time when it looked like she and Archie might end up together. But, that wasn’t destined to happen. If you took one look at Julia and Peter together now, it was clear that destiny, on this occasion, knew what she was doing.

“Cathy qualifies as a properly trained teacher in the not-too-distant future and she is keen to move, you know, Miss Horton…” Hannah put her hand over her mouth and smiled. “Sorry, Edith. I mean. she wants to work in a city school, if you please. Make a difference. I can’t fault her, I suppose but I’m going to miss her dreadfully.”

She put her glass to her lips, a shadow of sadness crossing her face, just for a second. Blink and you’d miss it.

“You’ll have John for a while longer though.”

Hannah smiled and chased away the shadows.

“I will. John won’t be going anywhere for at least the next year.”

• • •

Noreen is Irish and now lives in the Staffordshire Moorlands with her husband, a dairy farmer. She works part-time as a mentor at Staffordshire University and the rest of her time is spent writing. Many of her articles and short stories have been published and she has co-written a non-fiction book.

She loves crime fiction, particularly that of the “golden age” and that is what she wants to recreate with Edith Horton’s world.

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Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Available Now: The Dane Law by Garth Pettersen

The Atheling Chronicles, #2
Garth Pettersen



99c through Sunday, 30 September
After a peaceful year running their Frisian estate, Harald and Selia are called to Engla-lond.

Their return is marked by violence and intrigue. The king has vowed to Queen Emma that their son, Harthacnute, will inherit the throne, but the atheling is cruel and reckless. Many view Harald as the better choice, which makes him a target for the unseen supporters of his half-brother. King Cnute urges Harald to be prepared to assume the throne should Harthacnute prove inadequate. Harald resists being swept up by forces beyond his control, but doubts he will survive the reign of King Hartha.

And what of his older brother, Sweyn?

• • •

A.D. 1016, Sussax, Engla-lond

With the sun near setting, eventide mists rose and thickened, obscuring the way through the lowland. Bracken caressed their leggings and bramble thorns snagged their sleeves, as the five warriors sought to retrace their steps. No footprint appeared in the soft earth, no broken branch hung as marker.

“If we could find a stream,” one of Jarl Ulf’s men said, “‘twould lead us back to the shore.”

“If we were ravens we could fly there. Have you seen a cursed stream?” The jarl barely kept his anger in check. It had been his decision to lead the scouting mission––there was no other to blame. The big Dane took a deep breath. He raised an arm. “Hold up.”

His four companions stopped. Each man supported a round wooden shield on his left arm and carried an iron-tipped spear. Thick beards masked resolute faces. Unwashed tresses spilled from unadorned dome helmets crafted with eye and nose protection. Only Jarl Ulf bore a battle-æx at his waist.

“Darkness falls and the mists deepen,” the chieftain said. “We’ll do as when a fog enwraps us at sea––we’ll wait. In the morning light we’ll find our way back to the ships.”

From somewhere in the wood, the bark of a dog broke the stillness.

The Danes stood motionless, all knowing a yelping dog meant men not far off. The barking sounded again, closer.

“Spread yourselves and move with me,” Ulf commanded in a low voice, and immediately his men spaced themselves and moved into position. They advanced through the dark weald toward the cur-dog, the cool mist dampening their faces. Practiced in stealth, the Danes made little noise in their passing. The dog continued to proclaim his location and the Danish line curved and closed.

The cur’s bark changed to a low growl.

Spears lifted, and the warriors stood ready.

A piercing whistle penetrated the cold night air and the dog’s growls ceased. There was a scuffling of paws on leafmold and the attackers knew their prey had withdrawn.

On high alert, Ulf’s men waited for his command.

“Press on,” Ulf said, his voice no more than a grunt.

They passed farther into the dense woodland, keeping a steady and silent pace.

Appearing at first like a flickering eye haloed in the white vapors, the campfire blinked through the trees and vines. Drawing nearer, Ulf and his men perceived a lone figure sitting before the fire, stroking a large black-brindle dog that took to growling as they approached.

“Steady, Æadwulf,” said the dog’s master. The cur ceased its low, rumbling growl, and dropped to an at rest position. It watched the newcomers arrive, still ready to attack if so commanded.

“The night is cold,” the youth called out in poor Danish. “Come to my fire. My hand is empty.” And to signify, he lifted his arm, showing the palm of his hand.

Ulf stepped first from the dark of the night into the fire’s light. The swain rose to his feet, hand still raised. Ulf assessed the younger man: short-bearded, tall and solidly built, dressed for hunting rather than fashion, in tunic and braies. Though outnumbered, he stood his ground and met Ulf’s gaze without faltering. The arm came down, but the hand remained open.

“You are alone?” Ulf asked.

A nod in response.

Ulf motioned for his men to search the surrounding wood. He returned the battle-æx to his waistband and raised his hands to the heat of the fire.

“You could have taken your wolf-dog and run from us,” he said. “Why didn’t you?”

His host pondered the Danish words; then said in a mix of Saxon German and Danish, “I was curious as to who besides me would be in this wood at night. And I am not partial to running and hiding.”

Jarl Ulf gave a short laugh. “Perhaps not a wise decision, but one I can agree with. What are you called?”

“Godwin I am named. My father is thegn here.” The young man bent to stroke the dog, who began to settle.

“Why do you tend a fire here on this night?”

“For the pleasure of Æadwulf’s company and the taste of the mist. The dog likes to hunt at night. I listen to him and the night sounds. Is that strange to you?”

“Uncommon, perhaps,” Ulf replied, “not strange. Tell me, do you not take us for your enemy, invaders of your homeland?”

“There are many who wish to rule Sussax, and many high-born who switch allegiances. Since King Æthelred the Ill-advised died, it is unknown who will rule, be it Edmund Ironsides or your Cnute. Or perhaps they will divide up the rule. I wish to live and thrive––with the victor.”

Behind his beard, Ulf smiled. “And if you choose wrongly?”

“That would be unfortunate. Therefore, I put off choosing ‘til I must.”

“And your father, which way does he lean?”

“Toward Edmund Ironsides. But I am not my father.”

Ulf bellowed out a laugh. “You please me, young Godwin. You have spirit, and I can’t fault your wits.”

Ulf watched his men return to the fire, having found no one in the wood.

“Perhaps,” Ulf said, “we can be of service to each other this dark night.” Godwin watched the Viking chieftain but said nothing. “My men and I have been floundering in your forest like fish on a shoal. You could guide us back to our ships, no doubt.”

Godwin eyed Ulf as if he were bargaining for a favored weapon. “And how would you do me service?”

“Why, by not attacking this part of Sussax. And by leaving your head upon your shoulders!”

The Vikings all joined Ulf in the laughing. When the din died down, Godwin looked round at the armed warriors and said, “Then it would please me greatly to guide you to your ships.”

“Good lad. I am Ulf, jarl to Cnute, King of Danmark.” The Dane offered his open hand to Godwin.

The young Saxon took the extended hand and clasped it.

“When Cnute is King of Engla-lond, come find me at court.”

The fire’s light shone on the young Saxon’s slight smile and danced in the glister of his eyes.

Godwin looked up at Jarl Ulf. And nodded.

• • •

Garth Pettersen's short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies, and in journals such as Blank Spaces, The Spadina Literary Review, and The Opening Line Literary 'Zine. His story River's Rising was awarded an Honourable Mention for the Short Story America 2017 Prize, and his fantasy novella, River Born, was one of two runners-up in the Wundor Editions (UK) Short Fiction Prize. The Swan's Road is his debut novel. He is a Canadian writer who lives with his wife on a farm in the Fraser Valley near Vancouver, British Columbia. When he's not writing, he's riding horses and working with young, disabled riders.

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Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Available Now: River of Shame by Susan Clayton-Goldner

A Winston Radhauser Mystery, #4
Susan Clayton-Goldner



99c through Sunday, 16 Sept
Something evil has taken root in Ashland, Oregon. And with it, an uneasy feeling sweeps down on Detective Winston Radhauser. If someone doesn’t intervene, that evil will continue to multiply until the unthinkable happens.

While on vacation with his wife and their newborn son, Detective Radhauser receives a call from Captain Murphy—a high school kid has been branded with a homophobic slur and is hospitalized in Ashland, a small town known for, and proud of, its diversity. And this is only the beginning. White supremacy, homophobia and racism are one thing. But murder is something else.

Radhauser will do whatever it takes to find the perpetrators and restore his town’s sense of safety. With such hostile opposition, can he succeed, and will justice be done?

• • •

Wednesday, January 12, 2000

Something evil had taken root in Ashland, Oregon. And with it, an uneasy feeling grabbed hold of Detective Winston Radhauser and wouldn’t let him go. If someone didn’t intervene, that evil would continue to multiply until the unthinkable happened.

He stood inside the twelve-by-twelve-foot stall of Mercedes, his wife’s mare, and dug his manure fork into the sawdust. Trying to ignore his uneasiness, he reminded himself he was on vacation. The only job he needed to worry about today was keeping his wife, Gracie, happy. And helping out with four-year-old Lizzie and their newborn son. But that didn’t change one basic fact. Radhauser was restless and eager to return to work.

From the juniper bushes on either side of the double barn doors, a mourning dove released its lonesome call. He grabbed the fork again. One thing he knew for certain, part of keeping Gracie happy involved a clean barn. He scooped up another load. It was a cool morning and the vapor from his breath rose in the air in front of him. He shook his fork, releasing the sawdust, then tossed the manure into his wheelbarrow. Before he’d spent any time around horses, Radhauser believed mucking out stalls would be a stinky job, but either he’d gotten used to it or there wasn’t any truth to that belief. The barn smelled, as it always did, like cedar, alfalfa and sweet feed laced with molasses.

When his cell phone rang, he dropped the fork, then pulled off his right glove, yanked the phone from his jacket pocket and answered.

“I need you to get down to the ER and check something out,” barked Captain Felix Murphy, his boss at the Ashland Police Department.

“It’s 8 o’clock in the morning, Murph. And I’m on vacation.” Technically, Radhauser was taking time off to be with Gracie as she recovered from the cesarean delivery of their son, Jonathan Lucas Radhauser, and started treatments for her breast cancer. Because it was diagnosed during the pregnancy, they’d done a radical mastectomy, then taken a chance and waited until after the birth to begin chemo and radiation. “Besides, you know Gracie is scheduled to start her chemotherapy treatments today.”

“Not until 2:30 this afternoon, right? You’ve got plenty of time to handle this.”

There was nothing he’d rather do, but there’d be hell to pay with his wife if he did. “Send Vernon. I’ve got my hands full here taking care of Gracie and the barn.”

“Look, I know I signed off on your three weeks, but Vernon’s out with a strep throat and we’ve got a real mess on our hands.”

Captain Murphy had been on edge ever since he found a hate flyer taped to the station window a couple weeks ago. The following day, two cars were reported vandalized—racist and anti-gay slogans had been painted in red on their windshields.

“A Doctor Landenberg called,” Murphy said. “He just admitted a high school boy, delirious with fever and a white cell count off the charts.”

“Sounds like a serious infection,” Radhauser said. “But what’s it got to do with us?”

“The doctor was suspicious. Said his mom brought him into the ER after she tried to get him into a tub of cool water to bring down the fever. That’s when she saw it. A brand singed into the skin of his abdomen. And the kid won’t tell anyone how or where he got it.”

“A brand? You mean like for cattle?” Radhauser struggled with disbelief, trying to make sense of what he just heard.

“Yeah,” Murphy said. “Branded, like a damn heifer. Doctor Landenberg thinks the kid was assaulted. A hate crime because the boy is gay. But the kid won’t talk.”

“What did the brand say? Was it initials? A logo of some sort? Something we can identify.”

“The doctor was pretty closed-mouth about the specifics, but he sounded upset. Come on, Radhauser. You know as well as I do, this could turn into our worst nightmare. You’re good with kids. I need you on this.”

He took a step back, then leaned against the barn wall and closed his eyes, the cell phone resting in the palm of his hand while Murphy babbled on.

Radhauser thought about the hate-filled messages he’d ripped from tree trunks near Lithia Park playground when he’d taken Lizzie last Saturday.

America Should Be White Again.

God Hates Faggots.

In The USA, Christians Rule.

His skin had gone clammy as the messages sunk in. What the hell was happening? In 1921 the Ku Klux Klan had planted itself in Oregon and its invasive roots spread out across the state. Cross burnings in Ashland and other larger cities were not uncommon. But times were different now. This was the beginning of the twenty-first century, not Selma, Alabama, in 1963.

Ashland was a picturesque town set in the foothills of the Siskiyou and Cascade mountain ranges, just north of the California border—a place known for, and proud of, its diversity and its world-renowned Shakespeare Festival. It was a little bit of England, set down in southern Oregon. A town where Radhauser and his wife, Gracie, planned to raise their growing family. A place four-year-old Lizzie, and two-week old Jonathan, could grow up safe and free of prejudice.

But behind the scenes there were factions who believed being white, Christian, and heterosexual were all that mattered. Radhauser had wadded up the flyers he’d found in the park and hurled them into the trash barrel, but hadn’t been able to erase them from his mind.
He put the cell phone back to his ear and told Murphy about the flyers.

Hard to believe this was the same Ashland that only a year and a half ago held candlelight vigils for the gay college boy, Matthew Shepherd, who’d been beaten and tied to a fence in Wyoming. Every night for a week, concerned residents had flocked to the park, stood quietly, sang and prayed, candles lit, while Shepherd fought for his life and lost.

Murphy didn’t give up. “And this kid might not be the only one. Doctor Landenberg said a girl came in about a week ago with something similar. He wasn’t on duty, but saw the chart.”

Radhauser’s eyes shot open. “What the hell’s going on here?”

“I wish I knew,” Murphy replied. “I don’t. But we need to find out. And fast. His name is Logan Caldwell. How soon can you get over to the hospital?”

Radhauser felt it surge up again—his need for justice. “Okay, I’ll do the initial interview, but I can’t take on a new case right now. Gracie would kill me. Give me an hour. I’ll call her mother and see if she can come early to help with the baby.” He wanted to be with his wife, knew she needed his help, but he also wanted to be on the job—to put a stop to what was happening in his town before it escalated into something worse.

Who was he kidding? It had already escalated. Flyers hung in other places, too, stapled to telephone poles along Main Street. And flyers were one thing—annoying, but not violent. Now, at least one kid, maybe another, was branded and too terrified, or ashamed, to talk about it.

• • •

Susan Clayton-Goldner was born in New Castle, Delaware and grew up with four brothers along the banks of the Delaware River. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona's Creative Writing Program and has been writing most of her life. Her novels have been finalists for The Hemingway Award, the Heeken Foundation Fellowship, the Writers Foundation and the Publishing On-line Contest. Susan won the National Writers' Association Novel Award twice for unpublished novels and her poetry was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including Animals as Teachers and Healers, published by Ballantine Books, Our Mothers/Ourselves, by the Greenwood Publishing Group, The Hawaii Pacific Review-Best of a Decade, and New Millennium Writings. A collection of her poems, A Question of Mortality was released in 2014 by Wellstone Press. Prior to writing full time, Susan worked as the Director of Corporate Relations for University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona.

Susan shares a life in Grants Pass, Oregon with her husband, Andreas, her fictional characters, and more books than one person could count.

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Monday, 10 September 2018

Available Now in Audio: Bound to the Highlander by Kate Robbins

The Highland Chiefs Series, #1
Kate Robbins

$19.95 Audio
(also available in ebook and print)

Aileana Chattan suffers a devastating loss, then discovers she is to wed neighboring chief and baron, James MacIntosh -- a man she despises and whose loyalty deprived her of the father she loved. Despite him and his traitorous clan, Aileana will do her duty, but she doesn't have to like it or him. But when the MacIntosh awakens something inside her so absolute and consuming, she is forced to question everything.

James MacIntosh is a nobleman torn between tradition and progress. He must make a sacrifice if he is to help Scotland move forward as a unified country. Forced to sign a marriage contract years earlier binding Lady Aileana to him, James must find a way to break it, or risk losing all -- including his heart.

From the wild and rugged Highlands near Inverness to the dungeons of Edinburgh Castle, James and Aileana’s preconceptions of honor, duty and love are challenged at every adventurous turn.

• • •

Near Inverness, Scotland, April 1430

A horse’s scream pierced the air sending a chill down her spine. Brèagha. Aileana Chattan quit pacing and dashed to the window. Thank God, they were home at last.

She strained toward the eerie quiet below just as the procession crested the hill beyond the gatehouse. She was right, it was her uncle’s horse Brèagha, but the poor beast hobbled as three men grasped his leather reins and struggled to keep the distressed animal in check. Bile rose in her throat when she spied the body face down across its back.

She tore through the hallway, down the winding stairs and raced out into the courtyard. Cold mud soaked her feet and her heart pummeled as the somber hunters approached. She looked to Andrews, her steward, to confirm her fear.

“I’m sorry, lass.” He shifted his weight, but did not look up.

Her gaze returned to the body. Fiery red hair hung in tangles and pale, limp hands were red streaked. Shivers coursed through her as she beheld his unmoving form.

Her uncle, their chief, was dead.

A soundless ‘No’ faltered on her lips. Men and horses spun around her, threatening her balance. She reached out to cling to something. Anything. Air slipped through her fingers as she stumbled forward. Andrews caught her the moment her knees buckled.

“I’ve got you, Lady Aileana. Come, we must get him inside.”

He placed one strong arm around her shoulder and kept her moving forward, her feet skimming the ground.

No one spoke as they entered the large stone and wooden stable. The huntsmen pulled her uncle’s body from the horse’s back and laid him at her feet. She dropped to the ground beside him. The foul stench of manure filled her nostrils and she fought the urge to retch.

“Why did you bring him in here?” The stable was no place for their chief.

“He ordered us. We had no other way to get the laird’s body home and he wanted us to save Brèagha for you,” Andrews said.
Her gaze shifted between her uncle’s body and the horse’s wild eyes. She swallowed the thick knot which had lodged in her throat.

“What happened?”

“We were tracking deer when something spooked him.” Andrews’s voice was low and grim. “Your uncle’s sword was drawn. They were both injured when they fell.”

The horse snorted and bobbed his head up and down. Aileana stood to view his injuries better. A deep gash oozed jagged crimson lines down his flank, pooling at his hoof. She moved to Brèagha’s side and buried her fingers in his mane. His coat was covered with a sheen of sweat.

“Dear God, you won’t see week’s end.” She must save him. “Andrews?”

“Get Argyle’s surgeon,” Andrews said. The stable hand took off to do his bidding.

There wasn’t much she could do for the faithful beast, but she had to try. Uncle Iain had wanted it. Aileana returned to kneel by her uncle’s side and brushed a lock of red, matted hair from his brow. She gathered his limp hand into hers and searched for any remaining hint of life, but there was none. Aileana closed her eyes, spilling tears onto her cheeks.

She pictured the two of them walking through the glen with the heather splashed mountains all around. She had loved his tales of legends and victories and could feel warm air caressing her skin and fluttering her skirts. He smiled, giving her all the comfort she needed.

Brèagha’s grunt brought her back to the present and her eyes flew open. In this story, there was no victory. Her velvet gown was no protection from the cold, uncaring earth beneath her, and the image of Uncle Iain and the colorful mountains faded to gray.

The men, her men, encircled her. They waited for her signal to move the body to his room for cleansing. Blood pounded in her ears as she struggled to do what she must, though she hated to release his hands. She cried out when she tried to fold them across his breast, but they slipped to the ground.

“Let me help, m’lady.” Andrews’ strong, weathered fingers covered hers and together they laid her uncle’s hands across his chest. Andrews pulled her up and held her close. His strong arms tightened around her, reassuring her as she tried to contain her grief.

“Move him,” Andrews said. “Now.”

Thank God for Andrews. He didn’t want his chief laying in filth any more than she did. The men nodded and encircled him.

“What’s this?” The familiar voice boomed from the doorway. “What’s happened?”

Gawain Chattan scanned the stable until his gaze landed on the body. His tall, thin frame was a silhouette against the gray sky and his expression was masked, even as he lifted his eyes to meet hers.

“The laird is dead,” Andrews said.

His words pierced her. This was really happening.

• • •

Kate Robbins writes historical romance novels out of pure escapism and a love for all things Scottish, not to mention a life-long enjoyment of reading romance.

Kate loves the research process and delving into secondary sources in order to blend authentic historical fact into her stories. She has travelled to Scotland twice and visited the sites described in her Highland Chiefs series.

Her debut award winning novel, Bound to the Highlander, is the first of three books set in the early fifteenth century during the reign of James Stewart, first of his name.

Kate is the pen name of Debbie Robbins who lives in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.

See Debbie here on Canada's Back Stage Pass TV program, aired 4 March 2014.

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Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Available Now: Violet Souls by Abbey MacMunn

The Evoxian Legacies, #1
Abbey MacMunn



(99c through Sunday the 9th)
While searching for clues to her past, single mother Bree Mills discovers a subculture of aliens with supernatural abilities living on Earth. And she’s one of them. Finding herself hurled into a world of possibilities, it’s made more alluring by Quinn Taylor, the 324-year-old, violet-eyed Evoxian from her childhood dreams.

Quinn knows his destiny is entwined with Bree’s. He’s fraught with frustration and desire, but before he can confess his love, he must wait for her to sense the Akui, a mysterious force tied with ancient Evoxian law.

At a Cotswolds country manor, passions awaken and ignite a love more magical than the once-Utopian planet, Evox. Then Fate delivers a cruel and heart-breaking blow when Bree is kidnapped by a malicious alien who wants her and her power. Will Quinn still love Bree when she’s faced with protecting her half-human daughter… whatever the cost?

• • •

Brianna Mills grasped the curious pendant around her neck. Like before, when she’d first touched it, the violet jewel warmed, and her peripheral vision shrank back.

Her steps faltered. With somehow more focused vision, she watched the man coming towards her along the tree-lined track.
Jasper stopped rummaging in the undergrowth, sniffed the air, and wagged his tail. But despite her dog’s interest, she sensed something…odd.

It wasn’t just the disconcerting vision or the static electricity surrounding her. Or even the disappointment as she pondered over the outcome of her adoption meeting earlier. No, this was something else, something tangible. Electromagnetic energy rolled over her skin, made her scalp tingle. A strange, coppery scent circulated in the cool spring air.

Blood pulsated in her ears, muffling the sound of birds chirping in the trees. She came to a standstill, all five senses fizzing with an unseen force, her heartbeat pounding like tribal drums.

Still six metres ahead, the guy looked tall, well-built with broad shoulders, and casually dressed in a faded brown leather jacket and dark blue jeans, worn at the knees. Overlong blond hair rested on his shoulders, and messy waves fell either side of a tanned, ruggedly handsome face.

Drop. Dead. Bloody. Gorgeous.

A tiny spark ignited somewhere within and she forgot how to breathe.

Bree recognised him. But he wasn’t anyone she’d ever met before, not while she was awake. No, this was someone whom she used to dream of when she was a child.

It didn’t make sense. How could she have dreamt about him, what, fifteen or so years ago?

The spark became a small flame, breathing its warmth on parts of her that she’d forgotten existed. Her cheeks heated. She had so little experience with men. No wonder she’d fallen for the first guy to show her any interest and been naïve enough to get herself pregnant.

Jasper barked, which made her jump, and then raced towards the guy, wagging his tail and leaping around excitedly, greeting him like some long-lost friend.

“Jasper! Get back here. Right now.”

Trying to focus through the tunnel vision, she willed her feet to walk the remaining distance to retrieve her dog.

Get a grip, Bree, get a grip.

Keeping her head down, she wished she hadn’t tied her hair in a loose bun, so she could have hidden her embarrassment behind the long tresses.

“Sorry. Jasper doesn’t normally like strangers.” She gulped. Her words were breathless and pathetic, and she cursed under her breath. Is he a stranger, though? With shaky hands and distorted vision, she grabbed her Labrador and fumbled with the lead, desperate to get the damn thing to clip on to Jasper’s collar.

“Are you wearing blue contact lenses?” he asked in a deep, hypnotic, and strangely familiar voice.

Bree blinked rapidly and her vision returned to normal. “What…? No.” She wouldn’t look at him, preferring to give her attention to Jasper’s lead, now gripped so tightly her knuckles had turned white.

She could almost feel the guy’s stare burning the top of her head. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end and she backed away—until she noticed his dog.

Similar to a pure white Alsatian, but she’d never seen one as massive or as muscular. It stared at her too, with weird violet eyes.

Violet eyes like hers.

• • •

Abbey MacMunn writes paranormal and fantasy romances. She lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband and their four children.

When she’s not writing, she likes to watch films and TV shows – anything from rom-coms to superheroes to science fiction movies.

She is a proud member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme.

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