Friday, March 15, 2019

Murder in Just Cause


Doyle was back at Scotland Yard after taking maternity leave, and the powers-that-be had decided they’d ease her way by assigning her to assist DS Isabella Munoz, which was a fate only slightly worse than death.

Annoying, it was, that she had to answer to Munoz; not to mention that Munoz wasn’t given many high-quality homicide assignments in the first place.

As a case in point, the first assignment out of the box was a possible suicide at the housing projects, something that happened with such regularity that it was a wonder the responding officer had even thought it worthy of a detective’s notice. . . .



About the Author:
Anne Cleeland writes a contemporary Scotland Yard mystery series that is featured in the Amazon top 100 best sellers. She also writes a historical series of stand-alone books set in the Regency period. A member of International Thriller Writers, The Historical Novel Society, and Mystery Writers of America, she lives in California and has four children. www.annecleeland.com; @annecleeland.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

NORTHERN NIGHTS SERIES


Several years ago I moved to Finland, more specifically to a Finnish small town that you’ll never have heard of. Coming from a big city it was quite a transition, but way easier than I had anticipated. Crowds of people were replaced by an incredibly vast space, and my cold limbs were warmed by the hand-knitted woolen socks kind women would treat me with or, of course, by the infamous sauna.

The mökki- culture was also new to me: Almost every Finnish family has a summer cottage somewhere in the countryside, some more rustic, others rather luxurious, where you get invited to spend a weekend swimming, barbecuing, drinking and saunaing (yes, naked, with people you might barely know).

It’s these mökki’s– small cottages in the middle of nowhere – that inspired the writer in me most.

To me they’re the ultimate location for either romance or crime.

In the Northern Nights Series, I use them for both:
In book 1, my Greek-American heroine Litza discovers the mökki as a romantic setting (get a FREE COPY of WHITE NIGHTS here: books2read.com/whitenights.

In book 2, her best friend Lola has a very different experience: Lola’s stalker follows her all the way to Finland, determined to finally own the woman he has been following for over a year, and a lonely mökki in the middle of the forest is just what he needs… (Check out DARK NIGHTS here: books2read.com/darknights.)

Book 3 is what I’m working on right now, be sure to join my mailing list for ARC’s...

About the author:
Jenna van Berke loves Scandinavian mysteries, Nora Roberts, Margaret Atwood and everything in between.
Working in the hotel industry, Jenna has encountered innumerable honeymooners, cheating husbands and infatuated co-workers, providing her with ample inspiration for her romance and romantic suspense novels.
She moved to Finland several years ago with her husband and child.

Subscription list: http://eepurl.com/dHZSYz

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Run For The Hills


Hi, I’m Jodi Burnett. My new romantic-suspense novel, Run For The Hills, was released March 4th, 2019. Joscelyn Turner, the main female character, is a social worker who works with at-risk kids in the foster-care system using equine assisted therapy. I’ve read many stories and seen lots movies that incorporate the idea of equine therapy. Often the writers portray an emotionally hurt person grooming a horse and then mysteriously finding healing. Yet, the actual reason that horse assisted therapy is so powerful and effective is left to the viewer’s imagination.

I spent many years working with at-risk youth from Adam’s County Social Services north of Denver partnering with social workers to help foster-kids and teen-parents heal from past traumas and learn new communication and coping skills—even parenting skills. The power of horses in therapy has always amazed me, and I wanted to bring that to light in a novel. Run For The Hills is that novel.


If brushing a loving animal was all there was to therapy, then any kind of furry friend would do. In fact, there is an undeniably huge benefit to humans in brushing, petting, and caring for animals. It helps us feel loved and needed in a safe environment. Therapy animals are trained to be calm and engaging. Research shows that petting a dog or a cat can lower a person’s blood pressure. The Mayo Clinic recognizes animal therapy as a viable option to help people deal with health issues like heart disease, cancer, and mental health problems.

So why are horses so special? In my experience, horses are particularly well suited for use in therapy because they best model healthy relationships. I love dogs. I have a Rottweiler and a yellow Lab. They are always there to greet me with wags, licks, and love. It’s wonderful. But if I’m having a bad day and, through no fault of their own, I yell at them or behave in an angry or abrupt manner with them, they will humbly try to make up for whatever it is I’m upset about. A person can mistreat a dog and the dog will still return, trying to share love. Dogs are full of love and unmerited trust. Horses are not.


First, horses are generally larger than we are so we don’t automatically feel superior. We must be present to them and aware of them to keep ourselves safe. They are dynamic and have a way of keeping us in the moment. The most therapeutically useful factor with horses is that humans must build a relationship with them. They do not automatically trust people. When we do build a trusting relationship with them, it can’t be taken for granted. If a person yells or behaves erratically with a horse and breaks that trust, they will have to rebuild the trust relationship over time. This is healthy and horses provide the perfect environment to learn mutual respect.

Mutual respect. Many of the youth I had the honor of working with had experienced physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse. They never had an example of a healthy relationship. One simple exercise I’ve used is to teach a young person to set boundaries with a horse and gain the horse’s respect. Therapy with horses is in real time. There is less talking about skills to practice between sessions and more actual practicing of skills right then and there. For example, a young woman is learning to lead a horse. She stops walking but the horse walks past her. We teach the young woman how to communicate to the horse that he must stop when she does. He will not cooperate unless she communicates her expectation clearly, firmly, and consistently. It may take a lot of practice but when a young woman who has been abused is able to gain the respect of an 1,100 pound animal, her new confidence is an incredible sight to see. Through this simple exercise, she learns that she has a voice, that she can set personal boundaries, and build a healthy trusting relationship.


Of course, that is only one of thousands of teachable moments. Learning to set boundaries, build trust, and feel safe enough to learn and practice new life strategies is often what equine therapy is about. There is a special place near where I live called Eagles Nest Ranch. They do amazing work with veterans and first responders that suffer from PTSD. One Marine said he connected with the horses because they were big and strong, and even a little intimidating, but they were also gentle and vulnerable. He felt he could relate to that as a Marine veteran.

Run For The Hills incorporates therapy horses working with teens and a veteran. I hope when you read my book you'll see a fuller view of what it can look like to learn and grow with horses. They are amazing creatures—sensitive and intuitive. I hope you enjoy learning a little more about equine assisted therapy while clutched in the grip of my novel’s suspense.
           
Please visit my website for a free copy of Chapter 1 of Run For The Hills.
Jodi-Burnett.com.  Enjoy your read!

Run For The Hills 
Horse Whisperer meets American Sniper
When a violent ex-patient threatens her life, equine therapist Joscelyn Turner, narrowly escapes to Montana. Seeking refuge and anonymity in a small town while Colorado police hunt down her stalker, Joscelyn plans to lie low. But fate has other ideas.
She meets two brothers, Trent, the good-looking town charmer, and Cade, a handsome Marine veteran who is running from his own demons. Joscelyn finds herself caught between the two men, attracted to Trent’s sex-appeal and rakish nature as much as she is pulled into Cade’s personal darkness. She must choose one.
Haunted by the death of her parents and afraid to share her reason for coming to Montana, Joscelyn keeps her past to herself. Just as she settles in and follows her heart, her deadly secret finds her. Joscelyn faces the threat to her life and the danger she inadvertently brought to the Stone family.


Author Bio:
Jodi Burnett is a Colorado native. She and her husband live on a small ranch southeast of Denver where she enjoys her horses, complains about her cows, and writes to create a home for her imaginings. In addition to loving life in the country, Jodi fosters her creative side by writing, painting in watercolor, quilting, and crafting stained-glass. Jodi’s first book is a women’s fiction titled Letting Go. Run For The Hills is a romantic-suspense and the first book in the Flint River Series.


Social Media and Buy Links:
Pinterest – Run For The Hills visual inspiration page




Thursday, March 7, 2019

KEPT HIDDEN


Congratulations to "Bn100", the winner in Leigh's giveaway. Please contact JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE to claim your prize!

Imagine surviving a horrific experience, one that defined your childhood, only to have it repeat twenty years later. That’s what Vanessa Barczak faces in Leigh Fleming’s second romantic suspense, Kept Hidden, published by Soul Mate Publishing. West Virginia’s beautiful mountains, rugged terrain, and simplicity of life make for an interesting backdrop to murder, kidnapping, and abduction in the Hidden series.

It’s frightening how history repeats itself . . .


Recently fired from a Dallas TV station, reporter Vanessa Barczak’s career languishes in a small West Virginia town until she witnesses an abduction—a child is snatched directly in front of her. She desperately wants to get back to the big time, and this story might be the one to do it. But the crime stirs up past memories she’d hoped were long buried.

Up for a promotion in Chicago, FBI Special Agent Bo Azar needs to solve this case. Vanessa Barczak gets in his way, insinuating herself into the investigation and into his head. After she witnesses a second abduction, he realizes she knows more than she’s letting on. Now he’s forced to depend on her to help catch the kidnapper, but she’s not talking.

Determined to get justice for the young victims, Vanessa and Bo grow closer as they unravel the truth behind the crimes. Through the mountainous terrain and surrounding forests, they stumble onto a scenario neither could’ve imagined, forcing them to open up to emotions they’ve Kept Hidden.


Excerpt
Sweat rolled between Vanessa Barczak’s breasts as she held up her cell phone for a tight shot of the Tolbert County crest. Ninety degrees with equal percentage of humidity, the sun sizzled in the cloudless sky. Who would’ve thought it could be this hot in Brookfield? The high elevation and forested mountains should’ve supplied some cool relief. It was downright hot, but not the kind of heat she’d felt before leaving Dallas . . .
She’d been assigned a story on West Virginia’s historic courthouses, and with Channel 10’s limited budget, she was forced to video her own footage. This segment wouldn’t make for gripping news, but then again, not much excitement happened around here. She’d had enough excitement when she messed with the wrong guy back in Texas. This slow, sleepy place hadn’t been her choice, but at least she had a job.
As the traffic light turned green, she ran across Main Street to get a better angle of the domed building which had sat on this corner since 1872. She turned to capture the surrounding businesses when a blue car streaked by, blasting through the red light and sending up a plume of burnt rubber as it screeched to a stop.
A man jumped from the car, wrenched a little girl off her bike, and sped away. Quick, efficient, and unbelievable. Vanessa careened into a street sign, looked down at her phone clutched tightly in her shaking hand, and realized she’d gotten it all on video. Fumbling her phone back into her tote bag, she dropped her head against the pole and sucked in the moist, heavy air.
It couldn’t be real.
Her imagination had played its dirty tricks.
It was all an illusion.
A little girl hadn’t been taken.
Limbs trembling, she pushed away from the sign and smoothed a hand over her hair, looking for anyone who would confirm what she’d thought she’d seen. “Did you see that?”

About the Author
Leigh Fleming creates unique characters facing life’s challenges but who are always rewarded with their happy ending. Stay Hidden, the first in her Hidden series, won the Lone Star Writing Contest for romantic suspense in 2017.

A member of Romance Writers of America and the Washington Romance Writers chapter, Leigh lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia, with her husband, Patrick, and her deaf French bulldog, Napoleon, and is mom to adult children, Tom and Liza. When she’s not writing in her windowless office, she enjoys reading, travelling, scrapbooking, and spending time with friends.

Contact Leigh at leigh@leighfleming.com
Instagram @lhfauthor


Giveaway
Leigh is giving away a Kindle edition of Stay Hidden to one lucky reader posting a comment. 

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST March 8th. Due to GDPR regulations you no longer need to submit your email address in the comments. If you have been selected as a winner your name will be posted at the top of the post. You may then contact maureen@justromanticsuspense.com to claim your prize. Your email address will be shared with the author/publicist providing the giveaway. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Exclusive Excerpt - Defending Morgan


Dispatched to the Dominican Republic to rescue a kidnapped child, former Navy SEAL Archer “Arrow” Kane makes a startling discovery: another hostage—Morgan Byrd, a very beautiful and very well-known missing person who disappeared off the streets of Atlanta a year ago. She’s brave, resilient, and unbroken. All Arrow wants to know is why she ended up in a shack in Santo Domingo. All he feels is the desire to protect.

Morgan is done being the victim and is determined to find out who hates her so much that they want her gone—but not dead. Until then, she has Arrow, an alpha stranger who’s offering a warm and safe place to hide. But as the passion between them flares, so does the fear that whoever took Morgan will do anything to get her back. For Arrow, protecting this woman with a mysterious enemy is the most dangerous mission of his life. And it’s worth every beat of his heart.

Release Date: March 5



Exclusive Excerpt - Defending Morgan by Susan Stoker


Arrow forced his muscles to loosen and listened to his surroundings. As the minutes passed, he catalogued each slight noise and dismissed them as sounds of the city waking up.

He had no idea how long he’d been lying there holding Morgan as she slept, but eventually the warm air and the woman curled into him did their thing … and he fell into a light sleep himself.

The next thing he knew, he was on his back, and the knife he always carried on his belt was against his throat. His eyes opened and looked into Morgan’s panicked, confused green gaze.

“It’s me,” he said in a calm whisper. “Arrow. You’re safe, Morgan. We got away last night.” He could’ve easily disarmed her, but he stayed completely still and willed her to remember who he was.

Comprehension came immediately, and she moved the knife away from his neck. “I’m so sorry,” she apologized. “I woke up and didn’t know where I was.” She scooted away from him, but stayed on her side, watching him warily.

“It’s fine,” Arrow soothed. He didn’t tell her that she was only the second person to ever get the drop on him. He prided himself on always being aware, but obviously he’d dropped his guard a little too much while sleeping next to her. He filed that fact away for the future. “I can’t say that I’m all that thrilled to be here either.”

She frowned in question.

“I don’t like small spaces,” he told her, surprising himself, as he hadn’t admitted that to anyone in a long time. His team knew, but that was about it.

She didn’t immediately respond, but eventually took a deep breath and said, “Can’t say I blame you. I’m not too fond of them myself. But there’s a difference between being in a small space because I put myself there, and being shoved somewhere I don’t want to be.”

It was Arrow’s turn to frown. Was she talking about him making her crawl into this makeshift hidey-hole?

As if she could read his mind, she put a hand on his arm and said, “Not you and not here. Besides, this one is open on one side. Night and day, Arrow. Night and day.”

Swallowing hard and mentally reprimanding himself for jumping to conclusions while at the same time tamping down his anger at whoever had abused her, he asked, “How are you doing?” Shifting until he was sitting with his legs crossed in the small space, Arrow picked up the knife she’d dropped and returned it to the holster at his hip. He had to hunch over, but it felt good to sit.

“I’m fine.”

“Hungry?” Arrow watched as her nostrils flared momentarily before she shrugged nonchalantly.

“I’m okay.”

“We need to get something straight right now,” Arrow said sternly, not looking away from her. “You need to stop lying to me. I’m not a mind reader. If you’re hurt, I need to know. If you’re hungry or thirsty, I need to know so I can do something about it. If you don’t talk to me, this entire mission could go down the toilet. Help me to help you, Morgan.”

Instead of getting upset, her eyes seemed to shoot green sparks as she said, “I don’t care about food. Or water. Or about getting clean or bumps and bruises. All I want is to get out of here. That’s it. If that means I go hungry, fine. If that means I have to wait a bit to get some water, no problem. But the last thing I want is for you to take unnecessary risks to try to provide for me and get caught. I know as well as you do that without you, I’m screwed. So I’m fine. Peachy. Golden.”

Arrow couldn’t help but smile. This was the woman he’d come to know in such a short period of time. The practical, no-nonsense Morgan Byrd he admired so much. “So if I told you I had some protein bars in my pocket, you wouldn’t be interested then?”

She swallowed hard and licked her dry lips. “I’m interested,” she said simply.

Leaning over, Arrow pulled one of the meal-replacement bars from his pocket. There were hundreds of them on the market now, but no matter how many he’d tried, they all seemed to taste like cardboard to him. But he couldn’t deny they were healthy as all get-out. He never went on a mission without a few stuffed into his pockets. They’d literally saved his life in the past.

Before handing one over to her, he said, “I’m not planning to leave your side until you’re safe, Morgan. I’m going to do my best to avoid going anywhere without you—even to find food or water. I don’t feel comfortable leaving you alone, not until we’re on US soil. Besides, tonight we’ll get out of these lovely accommodations and find my teammates. If I have anything to say about it, you’ll be neck deep in a bubble bath before another twenty-four hours go by.”
***

Author Biography

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




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