Monday, February 29, 2016

Weekly Book Reads (Feb 29)

 Weekly Book Reads

Weekly Book Reads is a weekly Monday Meme that is hosted by Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews:

Post the books read last week and books you plan on finishing this week.

Read Last Week:

1.  Necessary Risk - Tara Wyatt
2.  Beauty, Beast and Belladonna - Maia Chance
3.  The Hurricane - R.J. Prescott
4.  Haven't You Heard I'm Sakamoto Vol. 1 - Nami Sano

Weekly Book Reading:

1.  Downward Facing Death - Michelle Kelly
2.  Saturn Run - John Sandford
3.  Peril by Ponytail - Nancy J. Cohen
4.  The Boy and the Beast Vol. 1 - Mamoru Hosoda
5.  Strike the Blood Vol. 2 - Gakuto Mikumo

Liz Mugavero's Murder Most Finicky Blog Tour with a Spotlight, Excerpt and Giveaway


I am so excited to have Liz Mugavero here at Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews with a Spotlight, Excerpt and Giveaway.

Thanks Liz and Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for allowing me to join your Murder Most Finicky Blog Tour!

Please take it away, Liz!

Murder Most Finicky
(A Pawsitively Organic Mystery)

3rd in Series
Cozy Mystery
Kensington (December 29, 2015)
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1496700179


The dog days of summer have arrived in the small town of Frog Ledge, Connecticut, and business is booming for Kristan “Stan” Connor. Her Pawsitively Organic pet food has even caught the attention of celebrity pastry chef Sheldon Allyn, who helps Stan open a fancy pet pastry shop in Frog Ledge. A partnership is born, and Sheldon invites Stan to Newport, Rhode Island, for an appreciation weekend he’s hosting for all his independent chefs. But the gourmet getaway turns sour when one of the chefs turns up dead, and a second one goes missing.

As Stan tries to figure out who had a recipe for murder, the pool of suspects expands. And if she can’t sniff out the culprit soon, this killer may just serve up a second helping of murder.

Includes Gourmet Pet Food Recipes!

About This Author

Liz Mugavero has been writing stories since she could hold a pen. Before that, she would tell them to anyone who would listen (not many at the time). After deciding early on she would write books for a living, she practiced by writing bad, angst-filled poems, short stories and even a storyline for a soap opera–all by age 15. She never wavered from her goals despite all the usual questions including, “So are you going to be an English teacher with that degree in English?” or, “That writing thing sounds nice, but how are you REALLY going to make a living?”

She went on to get a master’s in writing and publishing and spent time in journalism, PR, and presently, corporate communications. And she’s confident this writing thing IS the way to make a living.

Aside from writing, she loves animals (has a houseful), the beach, reading other writers’ masterpieces and Starbucks coffee.

Author Links



Purchase Links


B and N

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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Bunny Express Saturday 2016 (Feb 27)

Bunny Express Saturday is hosted every Saturday at Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews.

I received this in the mail this week.

For Review:

NYPD Red chases a ruthless murderer with an uncontrollable lust for money -- and blood.

It's another glamorous night in the heart of Manhattan: at a glitzy movie premiere, a gorgeous starlet, dressed to the nines and dripping in millions of dollars' worth of jewelry on loan, makes her way past a horde of fans and paparazzi. But then there's a sudden loud noise, an even louder scream, and a vicious crime with millions of witnesses and no suspect -- and now NYPD Red has a new case on its hands.

NYPD Red: the elite task force assigned to protect the rich, famous, and connected in the city where crime never sleeps. Detective Zach Jordan and his partner, Kylie MacDonald -- a former girlfriend from the police academy who he hasn't quite gotten over -- are the best that Red has to offer, brilliant and tireless investigators who will stop at nothing to crack a case, even if it means putting their own complicated lives on the back burner.

After ten years away, Keeley Carpenter is excited to be back in Belfrey, the traditional English village hometown she fled as a shy teen, with a plan to reopen her father's neglected butcher shop as a yoga café, where she will sell delicious vegetarian food by day and teach yoga classes at night. However the more traditional residents of Belfrey do not take kindly to this idea-or really anything they deem even remotely "New Age-y." Within an hour of her arrival, Keeley comes face to face with Detective Constable Ben Taylor, who tells her that someone has just tried to burn down her shop. When officers arrived to stop the blaze, a body was found upstairs. Horrified by this news, Keeley is also startled to be reintroduced to Ben as DC Taylor, as he was her high school crush. In spite of her instant attraction to him, Keeley is determined to keep Ben at arm's length.

As she settles back in to Belfrey and makes plans for her opening day, she soon finds herself embroiled in a murder investigation. When Keeley starts being threatened herself, she realizes someone may be out to kill more than her business prospects - but can she and Ben find the culprit before it's too late? A warm, intriguing cozy debut that includes recipes from Keeley's café, Downward Facing Death is perfect for fans of Laura Childs and Cleo Coyle.

A deliciously quirky crime novel from David McCallum, the beloved actor known for his portrayal of Illya Kuryakin on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard on NCIS.

Crime pays. And pays well.

Sal, Max and Enzo Bruschetti have proved this over a lifetime of nefarious activity that they have kept hidden from law enforcement. Nowhere in any file, on any computer is there a record of anything illegal from which they have profited. But Max has a problem. His body is getting old and his doctor has told him to take it easy. Max has decided that the time has come for the family to retire.

But when young actor Harry Murphy overhears the Bruschetti brothers planning changes to their organization, including the murder of a man in London who knows too much, the Bruschetti's plans begin to unravel.

After Harry makes the well-intentioned if egregious mistake of trying to warn the Bruchetti's intended victim he finds himself alone in a foreign country, on the wrong side of the law, with a suitcase full of cash and a dangerous man on his trail. And while his good looks, charm and cheerful persistence may prove assets in the turbulent events that follow, none of Harry's past roles have prepared him for what happens next.


First Love Monster Vol. 3 - Akira Hiyoshimaru
Taboo Tattoo Vol. 1 - Shinjiro
Ubel Blatt Vol. 4 - Etorouji Shiono
Are You Alice Vol. 11 - Ai Ninomiya
Barakamon Vol. 9 - Satsuki Yoshino
Handa-kun Vol 1 - Satsuki Yoshino
The Boy and the Beast Vol. 1 - Mamoru Hosoda
BTOOOM Vol. 13 - Junya Inoue
Demonizer Zilch Vol. 1 - Milan Matra
Dimension W Vol. 1 - Yuji Iwahara
Inu x Boku SS, Vol. 10 - Cocoa Fujiwara
Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun Vol. 2 - Izumi Tsubaki
Void's Enigmatic Mansion Volume 3 - JiEun Ha
Strike the Blood Vol. 2 - Gakuto Mikumo
PandoraHearts: Caucus Race Vol. 3 - Shinobu Wakamiya

Friday, February 26, 2016

Maia Chance's Beauty, Beast and Balladonna Blog Tour with a Spotlight, Excerpt, Q/A and Review

I am so excited to have Maia Chane here at Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews with a Spotlight, Excerpt, Q/A and Review.

Thanks Mai for allowing me to join your Beauty, Beast and Balladonna Blog Tour!

Please take it away, Maia!

Q and A with Maia Chance - Beauty, Beast, and Belladonna

1) Describe Beauty, Beast, and Belladonna in 140 characters or less.

Beauty, Beast, and Belladonna is a fun, adventurous, and romantic historical mystery set in a secret-riddled French chateau in 1867.

2.) What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Happiness for me is spending time outside somewhere beautiful, with my husband, kids, and dog.

3.) What’s your favorite part of Ophelia’s quirky personality?

I like the way Ophelia compensates in creative and gutsy ways for her lack of a good formal education. She’s smart and resourceful and she uses her unusual skill set — farm girl, circus performer, actress — to help solve the mystery.

4.) Which living person do you most admire?

My husband, actually. He is an unusually gifted person who overcame significant disadvantages and obstacles to get where he is today. And he gives the best pep-talks!

5.) What inspired you to marry fairytales and mystery?

I was searching for something that hadn’t been done yet, and I was reading a lot of fairy tale criticism for school at the time. It sounded like a deliciously fun project, so I plunged in.

6.) Is there a type of scene that's harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?

Dialogue definitely comes more easily for me. I find action scenes more challenging — I’m paranoid that they’ll get bogged down. (So if I can, I add dialogue to my action scenes!)

7.) What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Sticking to strict schedules. I don’t like to keep people waiting, but there is something to be said for giving yourself creative or restful wiggle-room during the day.

8.) Which of the characters in this novel do you feel the most drawn to?

I became more attached to Professor Penrose in this book. He’s more vulnerable and at a loss than in the previous two books — and more deeply in love.

9.) Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Oh, my. Probably dozens. I seem to like “buzz” a lot for some reason. I’m deleting it all the time.

10.) Can you describe for us your process for naming characters?

For historical American characters I use census records. I collect names from cemeteries whenever I visit one, and I often borrow names from literature. Since my books have lots of characters, I try to give them all distinctive names that hint at their personalities, to help the reader keep everyone sorted in their mind.

11.) Who are your favorite writers?

Agatha Christie, P.G. Wodehouse, Edith Wharton and Theodor Adorno.

12.) Who is your most loved hero of fiction?

Indiana Jones.

13.) Which talent would you most like to have?

It would be ecstasy to be a really, really great opera singer.

14.) You're hosting a dinner party, which five authors (dead or alive) would you invite?

P. G. Wodehouse would probably be the life of any party. Also, Agatha Christie, Edgar Allan Poe, Shakespeare, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. There would be lots of drinking at this party. Maybe some arguments. No strip poker though.

15.) Do you have a favorite time period in literature?

Not really. Because of my English degrees I have read very widely, and I have favorites from every era. And every era has its stultifying boring authors, too.

16.) What is your motto?

Keep trying.

17.) What is the best reaction over a book that you’ve ever gotten from a fan?

Fans who say my book gave them pure pleasure — that’s happened a few times — make me so happy. It’s my aim to give people something to read that’s a pleasurable and absorbing diversion from Real Life. Real Life is hard.

18.) Where would you most like to live?

A place with lots of trees where I could do all my daily activities and errands on foot. I’m working on it.

19.) Which historical figure do you most identify with?

No one specific, but I often think of the female writers over the centuries who kept at their stories even when they had screaming kids and the dinner to cook and a really messy house piling up around them. They did it, and so can I.

20.) What are you working on next?

I just completed a humorous contemporary mystery that does not yet have a publisher, and I’m working on a historical fantasy adventure with a co-author. After that, the next thing will be book #3 of the Discreet Retrieval Agency series.


“What’s this?” Ophelia had almost stepped on something at the base of the cave wall.

Penrose crouched and held the lantern over it. “Good God,” he muttered. “Is it . . . a shrine?”

Small earthenware dishes held what appeared to be chocolate drops, purple berries, and loose pearls. A clay vase held a red and white striped rose.

Churches in New England didn’t have shrines. They didn’t even have stained glass windows or statues.

“Pearls,” Ophelia said. “Madame Dieudonné was missing a pearl necklace.” But—she looked carefully at the shrine—no ruby ring. Still, the pearls connected the shrine, very loosely, to the missing ring. There was hope yet.

“This resembles the offerings people of the Orient assemble for their gods or ancestors,” Penrose said.

“Those are belladonna berries, professor.” The skin of Ophelia’s back felt all itchy and crawly, and she stole a glance to the black gap where the cave continued into the earth. Someone could be back there. Watching.

“Miss Flax,” Penrose said slowly. “Look at this.” He lifted the lantern, illuminating the picture on the wall above the shrine.

Heavens to Betsy. A carved, black-painted beast, half-man, half-boar, undulated in the light.

The body of the beast was like a man’s, although the feet seemed—Gabriel squinted—yes, they seemed to have hooves. But the head! It was unmistakably that of a furry boar, with large pointed tusks and tiny round ears.

A slight crunching sound made Gabriel and Miss Flax freeze. Their eyes met.


Gabriel knew that somewhere in the shadows, someone or something lay in wait.

Miss Flax, wide-eyed, in those awful trousers, seemed at once horribly vulnerable and dear beyond measure. The pistol tucked into Gabriel waistband felt newly heavy. He picked up the lantern and slowly stood, willing himself not to exude the essence of fear in case whatever was watching was an animal.

“Come,” he mouthed to Miss Flax, wrapping his free hand around her wrist. “Slowly.”

She stayed very close to him as they walked steadily out of the cave.

They emerged into the cold, damp night. The moon glowed whitely above. The air tasted of soil and rot.

“Shouldn’t you extinguish the lamp?” Miss Flax whispered as they started down the rocky, ice-slicked slope. “So they can’t see us?” She tugged her wrist free of his hand so she could climb.

“Wild animals are afraid of light.” Gabriel longed to grab her wrist again, to enfold her, keep her safe. If something were to befall her—

“It wasn’t an animal in there,” Miss Flax said. “It was a human being. I could feel it. Animals don’t make one feel so frightened.”

“Not any animals?”

“No. Animals never seem evil, and I felt something evil up there in the cave.”


Beware of allowing yourself to be prejudiced by appearances. –Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, “Beauty and the Beast” (1756)

The day had arrived. Miss Ophelia Flax’s last day in Paris, her last day in Artemis Stunt’s gilt-edged apartment choked with woody perfumes and cigarette haze. Ophelia had chosen December 12th, 1867, at eleven o’clock in the morning as the precise time she would make a clean breast of it. And now it was half past ten.

Ophelia swept aside brocade curtains and shoved a window open. Rain spattered her face. She leaned out and squinted up the street. Boulevard Saint-Michel was a valley of stone buildings with iron balconies and steep slate roofs. Beyond carriages and bobbling umbrellas, a horse-drawn omnibus splashed closer.

“Time to go,” she said, and latched the window shut. She turned. “Good-bye, Henrietta. You will write to me — telegraph me, even — if Prue changes her mind about the convent?”

“Of course, darling.” Henrietta Bright sat at the vanity table, still in her frothy dressing gown. “But where shall I send a letter?” She shrugged a half-bare shoulder in the looking glass. Reassuring herself, no doubt, that at forty-odd years of age she was still just as dazzling as the New York theater critics used to say.

“I’ll let the clerk at Howard DeLuxe’s Varieties know my forwarding address,” Ophelia said. “Once I have one.” She pulled on cheap gloves with twice-darned fingertips.

“What will you do in New England?” Henrietta asked. “Besides getting buried under snowdrifts and puritans? I’ve been to Boston. The entire city is like a mortuary. No drinking on Sundays, either.” She sipped her glass of poison-green cordial. “Although, all that knuckle-rapping does make the gentlemen more generous with actresses like us when they get the chance.”

“Actresses like us?” Ophelia went to her carpetbag, packed and ready on the opulent bed that might’ve suited the Princess on the Pea. Ladies born and raised on New Hampshire farmsteads did not sleep in such beds. Not without prickles of guilt, at least. “I’m no longer an actress, Henrietta. Neither are you.” And they were never the same kind of actress. Or so Ophelia fervently wished to believe.

“No? Then what precisely do you call tricking the Count Griffe into believing you are a wealthy soap heiress from Cleveland, Ohio? Sunday school lessons?”

“I had to do it.” Ophelia dug in her carpetbag and pulled out a bonnet with crusty patches of glue where ribbon flowers once had been. She clamped it on her head. “I’m calling upon the Count Griffe at eleven o’clock, on my way to the steamship ticket office. I told you. He scarpered to England so soon after his proposal, I never had a chance to confess. He’s in Paris only today before he goes to his country château, so today is my last chance to tell him everything.”

“It’s horribly selfish of you not to wait two more weeks, Ophelia—two measly weeks.”

Not this old song and dance again. “Wait two more weeks so that you might accompany me to the hunting party at Griffe’s château? Stand around and twiddle my thumbs for two whole weeks while you hornswoggle some poor old gent into marrying you? Money and love don’t mix, you know.”

“What? They mix beautifully. And not hornswoggle, darling. Seduce. And Mr. Larsen isn’t a poor gentleman. He’s as rich as Midas. Artemis confirmed as much.”

“You know what I meant. Helpless.”

“Mr. Larsen is a widower, yes.” Henrietta smiled. “Deliciously helpless.”

“I must go now, Henrietta. Best of luck to you.”

“I’m certain Artemis would loan you her carriage—oh, wait. Principled Miss Ophelia Flax must forge her own path. Miss Ophelia Flax never accepts hand-outs or —”

“Artemis has been ever so kind, allowing me to stay here the last three weeks, and I couldn’t impose any more.” Artemis Stunt was Henrietta’s friend, a wealthy lady authoress. “I’ll miss my omnibus.” Ophelia pawed through the carpetbag, past her battered theatrical case and a patched petticoat, and drew out a small box. The box, shiny black with painted roses, had been a twenty-sixth birthday gift from Henrietta last week. It was richer than the rest of Ophelia’s possessions by miles, but it served a purpose: a place to hide her little nest egg.

The omnibus fare, she well knew from her month in Paris, was thirty centimes. She opened the box. Her lungs emptied like a bellows. A slip of paper curled around the ruby ring Griffe had given her. But her money — all of her hard-won money she’d scraped together working as a lady’s maid in Germany a few months back — was gone. Gone.

She swung toward Henrietta. “Where did you hide it?”

“Hide what?”

“My money!”

“Scowling like that will only give you wrinkles.”

“I don’t even have enough for the omnibus fare now.” Ophelia’s plans suddenly seemed vaporously fragile. “Now isn’t the time for jests, Henrietta. I must get to Griffe’s house so I might go to the steamship ticket office before it closes, and then on to the train station. The Cherbourg-New York ship leaves only once a fortnight.”

“Why don’t you simply keep that ring? You’ll be in the middle of the Atlantic before he even knows you’ve gone. If it’s a farm you desire, why, that ring will pay for five farms and two hundred cows.”

Ophelia wasn’t the smelling salts kind of lady, but her fingers shook as she replaced the box’s lid. “Never. I would never steal this ring —”

“He gave it to you. It wouldn’t be stealing.”

“— and I will never, ever become. . . .” Ophelia pressed her lips together.

“Become like me, darling?”

If Ophelia fleeced rich fellows to pay her way instead of working like honest folks, then she couldn’t live with herself. What would become of her? Would she find herself at forty in dressing gowns at midday and absinthe on her breath?

“You must realize I didn’t take your money, Ophelia. I’ve got my sights set rather higher than your pitiful little field mouse hoard. But I see how unhappy you are, so I’ll make you an offer.”

Ophelia knew the animal glint in Henrietta’s whiskey-colored eyes. “You wish to pay to accompany me to Griffe’s hunting party so that you might pursue Mr. Larsen. Is that it?

“Clever girl. You ought to set yourself up in a tent with a crystal ball. Yes. I’ll pay you whatever it was the servants stole—and I’ve no doubt it was one of those horrid Spanish maids that Artemis hired who pinched your money. Only keep up the Cleveland soap heiress ruse for two weeks longer, Ophelia, until I hook that Norwegian fish.”

Ophelia pictured the green fields and white-painted buildings of rural New England, and her throat ached with frustration. The trouble was, it was awfully difficult to forge your own path when you were always flat broke. “Pay me double or nothing,” she said.

“Deal. Forthwith will be so pleased.”

“Forthwith?” Ophelia frowned. “Forthwith Golden, conjurer of the stage? Do you mean to say he’ll be tagging along with us?”

“Mm.” Henrietta leaned close to the mirror and picked something from her teeth with her little fingernail. “He’s ever so keen for a jaunt in the country, and he adores blasting at beasts with guns.”

Saints preserve us.

Ophelia meant to cling to her purpose like a barnacle to a rock. It wasn’t easy. Simply gritting her teeth and enduring the next two weeks was not really her way. But Henrietta had her up a stump.

First, there had been the two-day flurry of activity in Artemis Stunt’s apartment, getting a wardrobe ready for Ophelia to play the part of a fashionable heiress at a hunting party. Artemis was over fifty years of age but, luckily, a bohemian and so with youthful tastes in clothing. She was also tall, beanstalkish and large-footed, just like Ophelia, and very enthusiastic about the entire deception. “It would make a marvelous novelette, I think,” she said to Ophelia. But this was exactly what Ophelia wished to avoid: behaving like a ninny in a novelette.

And now, this interminable journey.

“Where are we now?” Henrietta, bundled in furs, stared dully out the coach window. “The sixth tier of hell?”

Ophelia consulted the Baedeker on her knees, opened to a map of the Périgord region. “Almost there.”

“There being the French version of the Middle of Nowhere,” Forthwith Golden said, propping his boots on the seat next to Henrietta. “Why do these Europeans insist upon living in these Godforsaken pockets? What’s wrong with Paris, anyway?”

“You said you missed the country air.” Henrietta shoved his boots off the seat.

“Did I?” Forthwith had now and then performed conjuring tricks in Howard DeLuxe’s Varieties back in New York, so Ophelia knew more of him than she cared to. He was dark-haired, too handsome, and skilled at making things disappear. Especially money.

“You insisted upon coming along,” Henrietta said to Forthwith, “and don’t try to deny it.”

“Ah, yes, but Henny, you neglected to tell me that your purpose for this hunting excursion was to ensnare some doddering old corpse into matrimony. I’ve seen that performance of yours a dozen times, precious, and it’s gotten a bit boring.”

“Oh, do shut up. You’re only envious because you spent your last penny on hair pomade.”

“I hoped you’d notice. Does Mr. Larsen have any hair at all? Or does he attempt to fool the world by combing two long hairs over a liver-spotted dome?”

“He’s an avid sportsman, Artemis says, and a crack shot. So I’d watch my tongue if I were you.”

“Oh dear God. A codger with a shotgun.”

“He wishes to go hunting in the American West. Shoot buffalos from the train and all that.”

“One of those Continentals who have glamorized the whole Westward Ho business, not realizing that it’s all freezing to death and eating Aunt Emily’s thighbone in the mountains?”

Ophelia sighed. Oh, for a couple wads of cotton wool to stop up her ears. Henrietta and Forthwith had been bickering for the entire journey, first in the train compartment between Paris and Limoges and then, since there wasn’t a train station within 50 miles of Château Vézère, in this bone-rattling coach. Outside, hills, hills, and more hills. Bare, scrubby trees and meandering vineyards. Farmhouses of sulpherous yellow stone.

A tiny orange sun sank over a murky river. Each time a draft swept through the coach, Ophelia tasted the minerals that foretold snow.

“Ophelia,” Forthwith said, nudging her.

“What is it?”

Forthwith made series of fluid motions with his hands, and a green and yellow parakeet fluttered out of his cuff and landed on his finger.

“That’s horrible. How long has that critter been stuffed up your sleeve?” Ophelia poked out a finger and the parakeet hopped on. Feathers tufted on the side of its head and its eyes were possibly glazed. It was hard to say with a parakeet. “Poor thing.”

“It hasn’t got feelings, silly.” Forthwith yawned.

“Finally,” Henrietta said, sitting up straighter. “We’ve arrived.”

The coach passed through ornate gates. Naked trees cast shadows across a long avenue. They clattered to a stop before the huge front door. Château Vézère was three stories, rectangular, and built of yellow stone, with six chimneys, white-painted shutters, and dozens of tall, glimmering windows. Bare black vegetation encroached on either side, and Ophelia saw some smaller stone buildings to the side.

“Looks like a costly doll’s house,” Henrietta said.

“I rather thought it looked like a mental asylum,” Forthwith said.

Ophelia slid Griffe’s ruby ring on her hand, the hand that wasn’t holding a parakeet. Someone swung the coach door open.

“Let the show begin, darlings,” Henrietta murmured.

A footman in green livery helped Ophelia down first. Garon Gavage, the Count Griffe, bounded forward to greet her. “Mademoiselle Stonewall, I have been restless, sleepless, in anticipation of your arrival — ah, how belle you look.” His dark gold mane of hair wafted in the breeze. “How I have longed for your presence — what is this? A petit bird?”

“What? Oh. Yes.” Ophelia couldn’t even begin to explain the parakeet. “It’s very nice to see you, Count. How long has it been? Three weeks?”

Griffe’s burly chest rose and fell. “Nineteen days, twenty hours, and thirty-two minutes.”


Forthwith was out of the coach and pumping Griffe’s hand. “Count Griffe,” he said with a toothy white smile, “pleased to meet you. My sister has told me all about you.”

Ophelia’s belly lurched.

“Sister?” Griffe knit his brow.

“I beg your pardon,” Forthwith said. “I’m Forthwith Stonewall, Ophelia’s brother. Didn’t my sister tell you I was coming along?”

The rat.

“Ah!” Griffe clapped Forthwith on the shoulder. “Monsieur Stonewall. Perhaps your sister did mention it—I have been most distracted by business matters in England, très forgetful . . . And who is this?” Griffe nodded to Henrietta as she stepped down from the coach. “Another delightful American relation, eh?”

It had better not be. Ophelia said, “This is —”

“Mrs. Henrietta Brighton,” Henrietta said quickly, and then gave a sad smile.

Precisely when had Miss Henrietta Bright become Mrs. Henrietta Brighton? And . . . oh, merciful heavens. How could Ophelia have been so blind? Henrietta was in black. All in black.

“Did Miss Stonewall neglect to mention that I would chaperone her on this visit?” Henrietta asked Griffe. “I am a dear friend of the Stonewall family, and I have been on a Grand Tour in order to take my mind away from my poor darling — darling . . . oh.” She dabbed her eyes with a hankie.

Griffe took Henrietta’s arm and patted it as he led her through the front door. “A widow, oui? My most profound condolences, Madame Brighton. You are very welcome here.”

Ophelia and Forthwith followed. The parakeet’s feet clung to Ophelia’s finger, and tiny snowflakes fell from the darkening sky.

“You’re shameless,” Ophelia said to Forthwith in a hot whisper.

Forthwith grinned. “Aren’t I, though?”

by Maia Chance

Variety hall actress Ophelia Flax has accepted the marriage proposal of the brutish Comte de Griffe to nettle her occasional investigative partner — and romantic sparring partner — the pompous if dashing Professor Penrose.

But the Comte’s boorish table manners, wild mane of hair, and habit of prowling away the wee hours has shredded Ophelia’s last nerve. She intends to disengage from her feral fiancé at his winter hunting party — until Penrose, his lovely new fiancée, and a stagecoach of stranded travelers arrive at the Comte’s sprawling château. Soon she can’t tell the boars from the bores.

When one of the guests is found clawed and bloody in the orangerie, Ophelia is determined to solve the murder before everyone starts believing the local version of Beauty and the Beast. But until the snows melt, she can’t trust her eyes — or her heart — since even the most civilized people hold beastly secrets.

MAIA CHANCE writes historical mystery novels that are rife with absurd predicaments and romantic adventure. She is the author of the Fairy Tale Fatal series, The Discreet Retrieval Agency series and the Prohibition-era caper, Come Hell or Highball. Her first mystery, Snow White Red-Handed, was a national bestseller. Maia lives in Seattle, where she shakes a killer martini, grows a mean radish, and bakes mocha bundts to die for. She is a Ph.D. candidate for English at the University of Washington.

by Maia Chance
Berkley; February 2, 2016
320 pages; $7.99 U.S. ISBN: 978-0-425271643

Lindsay McKenna, Susan Stoker and Chris Keniston's Saved by a Seal Boxset Blog Tour with a Spotlight


I am so excited to have Beth Yarnall here at Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews with a Spotlight, Excerpt and Giveaway.

Thanks Beth and Tasty Book Tours for allowing me to join The Depth of Beauty Blog Tour!

Please take it away, Beth!

Saved by a Seal Box Set
By:Lindsay McKenna, Chris Keniston and Susan Stoker
Released February 6, 2016


Three New York Times / USA TODAY Bestselling authors have joined forces to give back to the military veterans who have given so much to their country. Lindsay McKenna, Chris Keniston and Susan Stoker bring you SAVED BY A SEAL, a first in series box set. Join these authors and their SEAL heroes from the very beginning of their bestselling romance series.

NOWHERE TO HIDE by Lindsay McKenna Book 1, Delos Series

Lia Cassidy left the Army scarred physically and emotionally after a vicious attack by two fellow soldiers. She turns to helping others, working at a Delos Home School Charity in Costa Rica that aids abused women and children. But when the deadly drug lord, La Arana, attacks the school, Lia finds herself on the run for her life. The only person she can trust is the ex-SEAL sent to protect her.

Cav Jordan is strong, honorable and gorgeous…and intrigued by Lia. He knows she has suffered pain in her past, and he is determined to break through her barriers and earn her trust. But as Cav slowly chips away at the walls Lia has built, ghosts from her past threaten to destroy their fragile relationship.

ALOHA TEXAS by Chris Keniston Book 1, Aloha Series

Former navy diver Nicholas Harper likes his new world as captain of a dive boat in Hawaii.

Powerhouse attorney Kara Lynn O'Conner's world revolves around her small Texas town where life is easy and safe.

Six year old Bradley Cooper is about to change everything.

PROTECTING CAROLINE by Susan Stoker Book 1, SEAL of Protection Series

Matthew “Wolf” Steel hated flying commercial. Luckily his job as a Navy SEAL meant he didn’t have to do it very often. He’d been unlucky enough to be assigned a middle seat on the cramped jet, but fortunately for him, the woman next to him was willing to switch seats with him. Hoping for a relaxing flight, Wolf was pleasantly surprised at the good conversation and sense of humor the woman had as they flew 36,000 feet over the countryside.

When Caroline boarded the plane to Virginia to move across the country for her new job she never expected to be seated next to the hottest guy she’d ever seen. She also never expected he’d be so easy to talk to. She knew he’d never be interested in talking to her if he hadn’t been trapped in the seat next to her, but it was a nice way to spend a long plane ride.

Neither Wolf nor Caroline were prepared for a terrorist hijacking of their plane, but if Caroline thought that would be the last time she’d see, or need, Wolf, she’d be sorely mistaken.

Available at just $0.99 for a limited time. All proceeds go to America’s VetDogs®

Link to Follow Tour:

Buy Links: Amazon | Amazon UK | B & N | Google | iTunes | Kobo


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About Americas VetDogs

America's VetDog's Mission: To help those who have served our country honorably live with dignity and independence.

America’s VetDogs® is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that serves the needs of disabled veterans from all eras who have honorably served our country. VetDogs provides guide dogs for individuals who are blind or have low vision; hearing dogs for those who have lost their hearing later in life; service dogs for those with other physical disabilities; facility dogs as part of the rehabilitation process in military and VA hospitals, and PTSD service dogs to help mitigate the effects of PTSD in an effort to provide the emotional and physical support needed.

In 2013, America's VetDogs (an affiliate of and managed by the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind) became the second assistance dog school (the Guide Dog Foundation is the other) in the United States to be certified by the International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International.

For more information about this organization or how to donate go to

Author Info

Lindsay McKenna lives her life as a risk taker, and it shines through the books she loves to write: romance, adventure and suspense. She started writing at age thirteen and continues to hone her writing skills to this day. She sold her first romance novel in 1981. The rest is history.

Because she went into the military, this experience became the backbone of her writing — she is credited with writing the first military romance novel (Captive of Fate, 1983, Silhouette Special Edition) and has created a thriving sub-genre within the romance field! As a New York Times Best Selling author, she has sold 23 million books and in 32 foreign languages in her career thus far. Her many experiences in the U.S. Navy are backdrop for her understanding of the military in general, and also her very successful Morgan’s Mercenaries, which is an ongoing series in Silhouette to this day! Forty-five books strong!

Lindsay has gone Indie in 2015 and has created a new family saga on par with Morgan’s Mercenaries It is known as the DELOS SERIES. There will be paperback and eBooks created under Blue Turtle Publishing, her company for her fans. Readers who love Morgan and his family are bound to fall in love with the Culver family. Delos is romantic suspense, which Lindsay is well known for. It took her five years to create and bring DELOS to her readers. It was worth the wait, but we’ll let you decide that.

Lindsay loves to hear from her readers and loves to know what they’d like to see her write next. Stay up with the latest on the Delos Series here. Please visit her Web site at And be sure to sign up for her free quarterly newsletter. It contains exclusive content found nowhere else on the Net. Plus, giveaways and other surprises, to her loyal and faithful subscribers!

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads


Author Info

A native New Yorker, Chris Keniston was on her way to Australia when she fell in love with North Texas. Little did she know the balmy seventy-degree October days would turn into fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk heat in August!

Twenty years later, she started scribbling short stories about her favorite TV shows, giving them lives more to her liking - and the elusive happy ending. Not long after, a dear friend dragged her to a local writers’ meeting. After winning multiple writing contests and making the finals in the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart contest, she now spends her days, and nights, writing contemporary romantic fiction with lots of emotion, plenty of surprises, and, of course, the happily ever after.

Chris lives in suburban Dallas with her husband, two human children, and two canine children. Though she loves her puppies equally, she admits being especially attached to her German Shepherd rescue named Gunny. After all, even dogs deserve a happily ever after.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads



From ALOHA TEXAS by Chris Keniston

Holy shit. Nick backed away from the bed until he bumped the wall behind him, his gaze steady on the frail, unconscious woman he'd once loved with everything in him. She wouldn't have done that to him. It was one thing to walk away, but to take his son? Son.

"No," he mumbled. "No." Pushed by a silent force, he turned on his heel and bolted out the door. In the hall, his gaze darted from side to side. He needed answers. Now. Just ahead he spotted the sign for the waiting room. The lawyer. She'd know.

With every step his pace quickened until he was practically running down the last strip of hallway. Gripping the frame with one hand, he flung himself through the door and skidded to a stop. A woman, maybe fiftyish with salt-and-pepper hair, wearing a dark suit, sat with her hands folded in her lap. Beside her, Kara read to a little boy.

Nick studied the child with as much neutrality as he could muster. He didn't have a whole lot of experience with little boys. Well, make that any experience, but still if he had to guess, he'd say the kid was maybe four or five years old. Five. If the boy were his, he'd be five. From where Nick stood, he saw a cute little kid with a mop of curly dark hair enjoying the story. The scene could have been any mother and son. Only he'd bet the Kona Queen this wasn’t Kara's son. He was Patty Ann's. And maybe his.

As questions of how and why circled in his head, he forced himself to remain silent, to wait for the end of the story, for the small child to raise his face so Nick could see. And then what? If paternity could be pegged at a glance, there'd be no need for DNA. Finally, Kara said the waited words, the end, and the little boy gleefully looked up at the woman and asked, "Now can I see Mommy?"

Five words and Nick felt the vise around his heart tighten another notch. Patty Ann had been his lover, his friend, his heartbreak, but she was this little boy's mommy.

He took a step forward, and all eyes in the room turned to him. Someone might as well have sucker punched him in the solar plexis. Crystal blue eyes stared up at him. The same eyes he looked at every day in the mirror.

"My God," he breathed.

There'd be no need for DNA. Anyone who had ever seen a photograph of Nick as a small child would swear in a court of law that this was the same boy.

Author Info

New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Susan Stoker has a heart as big as the state of Texas where she lives, but this all American girl has also spent the last fourteen years living in Missouri, California, Colorado, and Indiana. She's married to a retired Army man who now gets to follow her around the country.

She debuted her first series in 2014 and quickly followed that up with the SEAL of Protection Series, which solidified her love of writing and creating stories readers can get lost in.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads Website:

Fun Fact about SAVED BY A SEAL Boxed Set

Fabio, darling model of the romance covers during the 1980’s and 1990’s, before he retired, showed up on a total of 460 romance covers in our romance industry! An amazing amount!

In 2016 a very popular cover model is Jason Baca from Saratoga California , just broke Fabio’s long-standing record. On 2.10.16, the San Francisco Chronicle did an article on how Jason is now THE top romance cover model in our Romance Industry!

Jason has done 461 romance covers breaking Fabio's record. Why should I care you ask? Guess whose cover is number 461? That's right. SAVED BY A SEAL is the cover that broke Fabio's record!

The authors of SAVED BY A SEAL, Lindsay McKenna, Chris Keniston and Susan Stoker, sure hope this sells more books for the Disabled Vets ! - It's rather cool that a charity anthology broke Fabio's record!

Rafflecopter Giveaway (a $10 Visa Gift Card)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Clea Simon's The Ninth Life Blog Tour with a Spotlight and Guest Post


I am so excited to have Clea Simon here at Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews with a Spotlight.

Thanks Clea and Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for allowing me to join The Ninth Life Blog Tour!

Please take it away, Clea!

Guest Post

When the cat isn’t cozy

Blackie isn’t your usual mystery cat. For starters, he’s not at all cozy. When we meet Blackie, the midnight-furred narrator of my new “The Ninth Life” (Severn House), he is not only a feral – a street cat – he’s also almost done for. He’s drowning in the powerful current of a storm drain after a rainstorm. The girl who rescues him, Care, isn’t your typical heroine, either. She’s a pink-haired waif, a homeless girl who can barely take care of herself, but she does pull one very unhappy cat out of the water just as he goes under for what he thinks will be the last time. In return for that favor – and for other reasons that will become clear over time – Blackie vows to protect and serve Care, starting the pair on an adventure that will bring them both face to face with greater dangers than even life on the street can explain.

Blackie (and Care) are new for me. Although I’ve always had cats in my books, starting with the Theda Krakow cats & crime & rock & roll series, and I even have a ghost cat who makes a regular appearance in the Dulcie Schwartz academic mysteries, I’ve tended to write cozier – lighter – mysteries, which focus more on fun than danger. Even my pet noir series, with the tough-talking Pru Marlowe, tend to be silly rather than scary, as Pru’s tabby Wallis proves to be tougher than even Pru herself. But Blackie is a serious cat, with serious concerns. He understands hunger and abuse. He knows the world is divided into predator and prey, and he’s determined to keep himself and Care on the right side of that divide.

I should take a moment to reassure readers here: I think “The Ninth Life” is a darker and scarier mystery than any of my previous books, but it is a cat-lover’s mystery (and also the first in a proposed series, which means I will never ever kill or seriously injure a cat. In fact, neither Blackie nor Care will meet up with anything they can’t handle, even if it is touch and go for a while.

As to why Blackie feels so bonded to Care – and how he plans to keep her safe – I’ll just leave it to him to explain. After all, he may be a black cat, and a scary one at that, but he’s also smart enough so that he can take care of Care – and of himself. 


The Ninth Life: A new cat mystery series
(A Blackie and Care Cat Mystery)

Severn House Publishers (March 1, 2016)
Hardcover: 224 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0727885715


Introducing Blackie, an unusual feline hero, and his companion Care in the first of this dark new mystery series.

Three figures, shadowy against the light. That’s all I remember from my past life, as I am dragged, dripping and half-drowned, from the flood. My saviour, a strange, pink-haired girl, is little help. She can barely care for herself, let alone the boy she loves. And although she has sworn to avenge the murder of her mentor, she must first escape the clutches of drug dealers, murderers and thieves. I would repay her kindness if I could. But we are alone in this blighted city – and I am a cat.

The past is an enigma to Blackie, the voice of Clea Simon’s dark new mystery. Combining elements of feline fantasy and cozy whodunit, The Ninth Life introduces this unusual hero and his companion, Care: two small creatures in a nightmarish urban landscape, fighting for their lives, and for the lives and memories of those they love.

Advance praise for The Ninth Life:

Forget everything you think you know about ‘cat mysteries.’ The Ninth Life is a dark and gritty story of life on the streets, told from the unique point of view of a narrator who sees things humans can’t. Clea Simon has given us a window into a world of constant and surprising dangers, frustrations and almost unbearable tension, and it’s one I won’t soon forget.

–Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of The Fixer and Suspicion

A tour de force of point of view – the talented Clea Simon flawlessly portrays a main character the likes of which we’ve never encountered! With skill and style and profound understanding, she entertains readers with an exciting, compelling, and utterly unique adventure.

–Hank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha, Anthony and Mary Higgins Clark Award winning author

The Ninth Life is a tour through a criminal wilderness of alleys and gutters, guided by a hunter as canny and fierce as they come. While Care is a smart, tough, and vulnerable young protagonist, narrator Blackie steals the limelight, showing us these dark places through his sharp feline eyes. A good noir tale will reveal a shadowy existence that parallels our own; Clea Simon goes many steps beyond, creating a terrific story that draws us in and makes us relate to a narrator whose life is a world away from our own.

–Agatha, Anthony and Macavity Award winner Dana Cameron

About The Author

Clea Simon is the author of 19 cozies in the Theda Krakow, Dulcie Schwartz, and Pru Marlowe pet noir series. The latter two are ongoing and include her most recent books, Code Grey (Severn House) and When Bunnies Go Bad (Poisoned Pen Press). The Ninth Life, the first book in her Blackie & Care mysteries, a darker series, will be published by Severn House on March 1. A former journalist and nonfiction author, she lives in Somerville, Mass., with her husband, the writer Jon Garelick, and their cat Musetta. She can be reached at

Author Links: home page blog Facebook

@Clea_Simon Twitter Goodreads

Purchase Links:

Amazon Indie Bound Severn House

Please follow the rest of the tour here, thanks:

Kiersten Fay's A Wicked Desire Blog Tour with a Spotlight, Excerpt and Giveaway


I am so excited to have Kiersten Fay here at Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews with a Spotlight, Excerpt and Giveaway.

Thanks Kiersten and Goddess Fish Promotions for allowing me to join your A Wicked Desire Blog Tour!

Please take it away, Kiersten!

A Wicked Desire
by Kiersten Fay
GENRE: Paranormal Romance


Having survived her terrible captivity by a sadistic doctor deep within an ancient mine, Cora returns home ready to move on with her life, but when Mason’s mysterious condition quickly deteriorates, Cora must embark on a quest for the one thing that could save his life.

When she is told Knox will accompany her, she fears she will not return alive. If Knox cannot control her, he might prefer her dead. Trusting him is a gamble she may never win unless she can find other ways to tame the wild vampire.


She debated what to do. Knox was determined to have his way. She was determined not to let him. Dressing up for him would not help her cause, but she couldn’t very well wander the ship in sweat pants the whole trip…could she? She would definitely attract undue attention, especially if people saw such an obvious commoner exit The Grand Wescott Stateroom. Wealthy people were unbelievably nosy when it came to things like that. People would gossip, start to ask questions she didn’t really feel like answering.

Decided, she shrugged out of her baggy clothes and slipped the first dress over her head. If she thought it would be more modest she was only a little right. The front slashed across her collarbone, fully covering her neck and chest and then draped over her shoulders like a long scarf that trailed behind her, but the deep V in the back stopped just above where her spine curved toward her backside. Moreover, the long slit in the front of the skirt flared as she walked, showing a good deal of leg. She checked herself in the mirror, turning, surprised by how elegant the gown made her look. What would Knox say? She got the impression he expected to hate it. Well, he was about to be surprised.

Wait, why did she care?

Steeling herself, she stepped out onto the balcony.

Knox was casually touching the collar of another sports coat, but when he glanced up, he did a double take. She swallowed, her heart giving an unwanted kick. Goddess of light and dark! Did she actually want him to like how she looked?

Heat threaded his gaze, and even though he hadn’t yet seen the back, she could almost feel his touch along her spine. His grin was devilish.

She shivered, and broke eye contact. If this was how her body reacted to a simple hungry gaze, how was she going to hold out for the entire trip?

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Kiersten Fay is the award-winning author of the steamy Shadow Quest series. She writes epic paranormal and sci-fi romance novels which incorporate elements of mythology and Lore. In 2012, Demon Retribution won Favorite Story of the Month via Gravetells, and received a nomination for favorite author in that same year. In 2013, her short story, Racing Hearts, was published in the anthology The Mammoth Book of Futuristic Romance. Her latest series, Creatures of Darkness, is a dark, yet steamy romance set in a future where vampires openly mingle with humans. Before becoming an author, Kiersten worked as graphic designer and now enjoys creating her own book covers.

In addition to the tour giveaway, please check for a special giveaway on the author's website:

Contact Information:

Email address:

Social Media Links:


Buy Links for A Wicked Desire




Book List:

• Demon Possession (Shadow Quest 1)
• Demon Slave (Shadow Quest 2)
• Demon Retribution (Shadow Quest 3)
• Demon Untamed (Shadow Quest 4)
• Racing Hearts (Shadow Quest 4.5)
• A Wicked Hunger (Creatures of Darkness 1)
• A Wicked Night (Creatures of Darkness 2)
• A Wicked Desire (Creatures of Darkness 3)


Kiersten will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Please follow the rest of the tour here, thanks:

Carolyn Arnold's City of Gold Blog Tour with a Spotlight


I am so excited to have Carolyn Arnold here at Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews with a Spotlight.

Thanks Carolyn and Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for allowing me to join your City of Gold Blog Tour!

Please take it away, Carolyn!


City of Gold
(Matthew Connor Adventure Series Book 1)

Hardcover: 314 pages
Publisher: Hibbert & Stiles Publishing Inc (November 27, 2015)
ISBN-13: 978-1988064666


Action-adventure books for the mystery lover. In this series, modern-day archaeologist and adventurer Matthew Connor travels the globe with his two closest friends to unearth treasure and discover legends the world has all but forgotten. Indiana Jones meets the twenty-first century.

Finding the Inca’s lost City of Gold would be the discovery of a lifetime. But failing could mean her death.

Archaeologist Matthew Connor and his friends Cal and Robyn are finally home after a dangerous retrieval expedition in India. While they succeeded in obtaining the priceless Pandu artifact they sought, it almost cost them their lives. Still, Matthew is ready for the next adventure. Yet when new intel surfaces indicating the possible location of the legendary City of Gold, Matthew is hesitant to embark on the quest.

Not only is the evidence questionable but it means looking for the lost city of Paititi far away from where other explorers have concentrated their efforts. As appealing as making the discovery would be, it’s just too risky. But when Cal’s girlfriend, Sophie, is abducted by Matthew’s old nemesis who is dead-set on acquiring the Pandu statue, Matthew may be forced into action. Saving Sophie’s life means either breaking into the Royal Ontario Museum to steal the relic or offering up something no one in his or her right mind can refuse -- the City of Gold.

Now Matthew and his two closest friends have to find a city and a treasure that have been lost for centuries. And they only have seven days to do it. As they race against the clock, they quickly discover that the streets they seek aren’t actually paved with gold, but with blood.

Author Interview

What inspired you to write City of Gold?

A while back, I was searching for an action-adventure book to read, and I quickly noticed that most stories in the genre start off at a point long ago in history with people who never enter the story again after an initial prologue. But I wanted to read something more in the vein of Indiana Jones, that started in the present day, with action right from the start that just keeps going. Who doesn’t remember the boulder scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indy is running for his life? Now, that’s what I’m going for!

You are primarily a mystery author. Why did you decide to write an action adventure?

I’m not sure whether I actually decided or was simply inspired. It is such a mysterious place, and people can’t seem to decide whether the city is fact or legend. The child in all of us wants to believe that a place like the City of Gold exists, but the grown-up in us tends to squash that curiosity. So when mine was piqued, I wanted to try my hand at going on an adventure along with my characters.

Many people have written about the Inca’s lost City of Gold. Why did you choose to write about it?

I chose to write about this particular legend because I find it absolutely fascinating! A city made of gold and treasure beyond imagining? How could I resist? I studied and researched to the point of obsession, and I even wished to be an explorer myself so I could set out in search of the city.

In fiction, the City of Gold is referred to by many names. The most common is El Dorado. But El Dorado actually referred to a ritual, not a place. Paititi is the true name for the lost City of Gold. Paititi translates to “city of the jaguar,” “all white and shiny,” and “white gold.” Many stories have emerged about the city and explorers have set out in search of it throughout South America, many losing their lives.

I examined the history of the city and explored the area on Google Earth. Plucking clues from different reference materials, I picked a spot where I think Paititi might actually be located. But who knows? What I do know is every story written about Paititi is unique and stands alone, and because Paititi hasn’t been discovered (yet?), there is a lot of room for play for a fiction writer.

What were some challenges you faced while writing the book?

As a mystery author who specializes in police procedurals, I found it hard to let myself go. With my regular genre, there are procedures that I need to follow. I need to know how real-life detectives and FBI agents would handle an investigation, how the forensics work, et cetera. So when it came to writing about what is, at this point, a fictional city, it was hard to open my creative mind. It almost felt like I had to literally discover the city in order to write about it. But with all the research and resources on Paititi—and some of it conflicting—I had to decide for myself what bits to incorporate into my story. I had to remind myself that I’m a storyteller, not a professor.

Tell us about the characters.

Twenty-nine-year-old Matthew Connor is the son of Toronto’s mayor, and while he’s educated in archeology, you won’t find him on excavations. His passion is hunting down treasure and legends the world has all but forgotten. While he feels the need to hide his true occupation from his father, this secret affects more than only him. Matthew’s two closest friends, Robyn and Cal, travel the globe with him and put their lives at risk to secure priceless artifacts.

What can readers expect from this book and this series?

This book and series is not your everyday action adventure. In fact, it’s been designed for the mystery lover. For example, in City of Gold, there is a kidnapping, a ransom, and a police investigation, as well as lots of action-packed adventure and exploration itself.

The series will follow that same kind of trajectory, with Matthew, Cal, and Robyn continuing to unearth treasures around the world. Think a modern-day Indiana Jones.

Does this book contain a special message for your readers?

Yes! I want people to believe again and realize that all things are possible. I want people to play more, explore his or her inner child, and live lives of passion and joy. When things are dark in our lives, what does it hurt to hope? Somewhere along the line of human history, it became foolish to believe in something without first seeing it with our own eyes. But what if we gave ourselves over to optimism and positivity? Maybe we’re afraid of being hurt or disappointed, but what harm does it really do to believe? I can speak from personal experience that keeping a positive attitude only added to my life and brought joy. While the end result to my situation didn’t bring happiness, it didn’t hurt any more because I held a positive attitude throughout the experience. In fact, I believe it even made miracles during that time possible.

So, if you’re looking for something to believe in, or if you just want to sit back and fall into an adventure, I encourage you to pick up a copy of City of Gold today.

Video on the painting for the cover:


CAROLYN ARNOLD is the international best-selling and award-winning author of the Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher, and McKinley Mystery series. She is the only author with POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT.™

Carolyn was born in a small town, but that doesn’t keep her from dreaming big. And on par with her large dreams is her overactive imagination that conjures up killers and cases to solve. She currently lives in a city near Toronto with her husband and two beagles, Max and Chelsea. She is also a member of Crime Writers of Canada.

Connect with CAROLYN ARNOLD Online:

Website -
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Facebook -

And don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter for up-to-date information on release and special offers at

Purchase Links

Amazon US Amazon UK Amazon CA Amazon AU





THE SOUND OF HIS THUMPING heartbeat was only dulled by the screeching monkeys that were performing aerial acrobatics in the tree canopy overhead. Their rhythmic swinging from one vine to the next urged his steps forward but not with the same convincing nature as did the bullets whizzing by his head.

Matthew glanced behind at his friends and was nearly met with a bullet between the eyes. He crouched low, an arm instinctively shooting up as if he’d drop faster with it atop his head. The round of shots hit a nearby tree, and splintering bark rained down on him.

“Hurry!” he called out, as he peered at his companions.

“What do you think we’re — ” Cal lost his footing, tripping over an extended root, his arms flailing as he tried to regain his balance.

Robyn, who was a few steps ahead of Cal, held out a hand, her pace slowing as she helped steady him.

“Pick it up, Garcia!” Matthew didn’t miss her glare before he turned back around. He hurdled through the rainforest, leaping over some branches while dipping under others, parting dangling vines as he went, as if they were beaded curtains.

His lungs burned, and his muscles were on fire. One quick glance up, and the monkeys spurred him on again. Not that he needed more than the cries of the men who were chasing him. The voices were getting louder, too — growing closer.

Robyn caught up to Matthew. “What happened to natives with poison darts?”

“The modern-day savage packs an AK-47 and body armor.”

Several reports sounded. Another burst of ammunition splayed around them.

“If we get out of this alive, you owe me a drink.” Her smile oddly contrasted their situation.

“I’ll buy you each two,” Matthew promised.

Cal ran, holding the GPS out in front of him, his arm swaying up and down, and Matthew wasn’t sure how he read it with the motion.

“Where do you expect to take us, Cal? We’re in the middle of a damn jungle,” Robyn said.

“Round here. Go right,” Cal shouted.

Another deafening shot rang out and came close to hitting Matthew.

“You don’t have to tell me twice.” Matthew ramped up his speed, self-preservation at the top of his list while the idol secured in his backpack slipped down in priority.

Most of their pursuers were yelling in Hindi, but one voice came through in English. He was clearly the one giving directions, and from his accent, Matthew guessed he was American, possibly from one of the northern states.

“I have to stop and breathe.” Robyn held a hand to her chest.

“We stop and we’re dead. Keep moving.” Cal reached for her arm and yanked.

Matthew slowed his pace slightly. “Robyn, you could always get on Cal’s back.”

“What?” Cal lowered the arm that was holding the GPS.

She angled her head toward Matthew. “If you think I’m going to get up there like some child, you are sorely mistaken.”

Matthew laughed but stopped abruptly, his body following suit and coming to a quick halt. He was teetering on the edge of a cliff that was several stories high, looking straight down into a violent pool of rushing water. He lifted his gaze to an upstream waterfall that fed into the basin.

Cal caught Matthew’s backpack just in time and pulled him back to solid ground.

The rush of adrenaline made Matthew dizzy. He bent over, braced his hands on his knees, and tucked his head between his legs. He’d just come way too close to never reaching his twenty-ninth birthday.

Robyn punched Cal in the shoulder. “Go right, eh? Good directions, wiseass. Maybe next time we’ll just keep going straight.”

“Sure, blame the black guy,” Cal said.

More bullets fired over the empty space of the gorge.

“What do we do now?” Cal asked.

Matthew forced himself to straighten to a stand. He hadn’t brought them all the way here to die. He’d come to retrieve a priceless artifact, and by all means, it was going to get back to Canada. He pulled off his sack, quickly assessed the condition of the zippers, and shrugged it back on. He tightened the straps, looking quickly at Cal and then at Robyn. One stood to each side of him. He had to act before he lost the courage. He put his arms out behind them.

Robyn’s eyes widened. “What are you doing, Matt? You can’t honestly be thinking of —”

Matthew wasn’t a religious man, but he was praying for them on the way down.

Chapter 2

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I want to thank you all for coming to celebrate this monumental find.” William paused to soak in the enviable applause. He definitely had a way of extorting the response he wanted.

After the clapping died down, he continued. “The Pandu statue is unquestionably one of the greatest discoveries of the twenty-first century. We are indebted to those who brought the Pandu here for us to appreciate.”

The statue was suddenly projected behind him on a large screen, the introduction to a slideshow presentation.

Matthew ran his hand along his jawline as he scanned the room. For the most part, everyone’s eyes were on William. All except for a few wandering and lustful gazes that traveled over him. A brunette, who appeared to have reached drinking age last week, sucked on her finger, the implication obvious.

Matthew returned his attention to the podium, even though it made him nauseated to listen to William speak about his discovery. If the man had any idea that it was because of his son — and his son’s two best friends — that this celebration was even possible, it might give him his third heart attack.

“If you have any questions about the Pandu, I am certain that the museum curator, Miss Robyn Garcia, would be happy to answer them. You can also ask my son, Matthew Connor” — he extended his hand toward Matthew — “who is an archaeologist.”

Despite the twist in his gut, Matthew lifted his glass in response, purely out of etiquette.

“Yes, well, without further pomp and circumstance, Miss Robyn Garcia.” William stepped to the side, clapping, and Robyn joined him on the podium.

It was the first time this evening that Matthew saw her. How he had missed her, even in a crowd, was remarkable. Matthew let out a deep breath at the sight of her.

She wore a black evening gown that complemented her tanned complexion. Her long, dark hair was straightened and slicked behind her shoulders and left to drape over her bare upper back. The dress was floor length with a slit on the left side that reached midthigh. Beads that sparkled like diamonds covered the bodice, and the fabric was attractively gathered where it cupped her breasts. She’d paired the gown with diamond earrings and bangles.

Robyn positioned herself behind the microphone and let her eyes trace over the crowd. If she was nervous about public speaking, it wasn’t evident. They met each other’s eyes, and her lips curved upward slightly. He was certain his mouth was gaping open and his expression resembled that of a goofy teenaged boy with a crush. It was a lot easier to see her as an equal when she was wearing khakis and boots, her shirt stained with sweat and her hair pulled back into a loose ponytail.

Robyn gestured to the screen behind her. “It truly is a remarkable gift we’ve been given. Thank you to William Connor for extending this celebration to his home.” She clapped, encouraging everyone to follow suit. Even Matthew found himself putting his hands together.

William dipped his head in silent acknowledgment and then waved, implying that it was no big deal.

And really, it wasn’t. Lauren and Daniel did all the hard work. Lauren’s primary charge was keeping the house tidy, and Daniel was the butler and property manager. At the end of the day, everything was their responsibility.

Speaking of Daniel, there was no sign of him. That was strange because he was the one who had led them to India in the first place. He was Matthew’s aid when it came to researching and picking expeditions. Maybe Daniel working for both father and son wasn’t the ideal situation, but it was what it was.

Robyn continued. “The Pandu is believed to date back to the third century. If you joined us at the museum earlier, this isn’t news to you, but the sacrifices that Gideon Barnes made to bring this to us are significant.”

“Is that why he’s not here tonight?” a man in the crowd called out. If Matthew remembered right, his name was Jacob.

No one was looking at him, yet Matthew felt under a microscope. Where was Lauren with more champagne? He always felt uncomfortable in these situations and was impressed by Robyn’s restraint in not letting her eyes drift back to him. She was a pro.

“Mr. Barnes regrets that he was unable to be here tonight, but he sends his love and appreciation.”

A man standing next to Matthew bumped his elbow. “The guy never shows up for his own contributions. If it weren’t for the artifacts and some pictures, I’d doubt his existence.”

“He might value his privacy,” Matthew said. And that statement wasn’t far from the truth. As for the pictures, Matthew had hired a man to be the face of Gideon Barnes, but it was to get his father’s backing, nothing more.

Robyn went on, providing more background on the Pandu. His mind wandered as she spoke. He was ready for the next mission. Time was too precious to sit around basking in past accomplishments. Life was about seizing the moment.

Matthew looked to the doorway and noticed Daniel standing off to the right. Daniel’s Norwegian gray eyes were locked on him.

“Excuse me,” Matthew whispered as he weaved through the mass of people to Daniel. Matthew handed his empty glass to the man.

“Refill, sir?”

Matthew directed Daniel to move down the hall and out of sight of their guests. “That’s not why I’m here, and you know it. You have something. What is it?”

Daniel considered their surroundings before responding. “One of the greatest legends, sir.”

Matthew’s heart palpitated, a natural and habitual occurrence when the prospect of a new adventure came calling.

Chapter 4

IAN BRIDGES USUALLY TOOK PLEASURE in knowing what most others did not. In this case, he knew that the famous treasure hunter, Gideon Barnes, was none other than the mayor’s son. And it wasn’t welcome news. An interested third-party had hired Ian to get the Pandu statue back at any cost, but with it now secured behind bulletproof glass and the high-profile identity of its discoverer, the situation had escalated, leaving him with limited options for the object’s retrieval. Sadly, murder, although it was his gifted skillset, wasn’t a service required by this employer. And bribery presented too much risk and was certain to attract undesired media attention.

The crowd at the exhibit had thinned, leaving behind those who didn’t rank high enough in society to secure an invitation to the Connor mansion. Ian made his way toward the statue, his confidence building with each step. Yes, the situation certainly posed a challenge, but he had faith in his abilities. He wasn’t familiar with failing, and he wasn’t about to learn the lesson now.

The statue was enclosed in a glass cube atop a four-foot-tall pedestal. A red rope with brass hardware surrounded it, encouraging people to stand a couple feet out of its reach. The area was obviously off-limits. But he still considered stretching out to touch the glass. He’d love to smear his fingerprints all over it simply because its contents were so highly esteemed. It was treated more regally than some people were, and yet when he looked at it, he saw nothing more than an ugly man in a dress. Clearly burying an item in the sand for thousands of years transformed even worthless idols into sought-after treasures. What his employer saw in it or why it was sought after in the first place wasn’t information Ian required to do his job. Whether it was to provide bragging rights to its owner or to sell it or something else, he didn’t care.

“It’s beautiful,” a woman said. He turned in the direction of the sound and a woman in a black evening dress sidled up next to him. Her hair was a rich red and fell over her shoulders in flowing curls. Her fingers were long and adorned with rings, her wrists were slender and wrapped in silver bracelets. She also wore a silver cuff on her upper arm. Now this woman had a brand of beauty he could appreciate.

She seemed to assess him as he did her. “Where are my manners?” She positioned her purse under an arm and extended her hand. “My name is Veronica Vincent.”

“Ian.” He took her hand and was certain to make eye contact as he shook it. While some women might find the move too familiar and bold, this was the territory upon which he loved to tread. Eyes truly were the windows to the soul.

“Just Ian? Or do you have a last name, too?” Her seductive smile curved one side of her mouth slightly higher than the other. With it, her eyes narrowed marginally. Oh yes. This woman welcomed the attention and reciprocated his attraction.

“My friends just call me Ian.” He had to keep some anonymity. His line of work didn’t afford him the luxury of screwing up because he wanted to get laid.

“All right. Mysterious. I like it.” She slipped her arm through his.

They stood like that for a while, him watching her, her watching the statue.

“You think that thing is beautiful?” He’d come to learn that women found a controversial subject more entertaining than one that had him acting the yes-man.

“Absolutely.” She pried her eyes from the robed sculpture, letting them drift to meet his. “I take it you do not?” There was a small hitch in her eyebrows, and he knew he was in.

He shook his head. “Not in the least. They do say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, but I am starting to wonder if we’re looking at the same thing.”

She pouted. He was scoring gold here.

“And while this statue is the most hideous thing I’ve ever seen, you, on the other hand, are very stunning.” He threw her an arrogant smile. He was due for a night of blowing off steam, and there was no better place to clear the mind than between.
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