Tag: New release

Copper By Lilly Atlas – Release Tour.

Title: Copper
Series: Hell’s Handlers MC
Author: Lilly Atlas
Genre: MC Romance
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Enormous, commanding, and hotter than sin, Copper is the only man Shell has ever wanted. Even as a young teen, when it was impossible and taboo to capture the attention of a grown man, she longed for him. For years, Shell clung to the dream of turning eighteen and finally being noticed by the Hell’s Handlers’ rough and gruff president. But the universe had other plans, and she was forced to make a horrible choice. A choice that altered the course of her life forever, sealing her fate and ensuring the dream of being Copper’s ol’ lady would never materialize. 
Sixteen years his junior. Daughter of his MC’s former president. Single mother whose deadbeat sperm donor doesn’t provide an ounce of support. Loved as a younger sister by every man in the club. The list of reasons goes on for Copper to stay away from Shell. Problem is, he’s been hot for her for years. Copper finally gets some relief when she moves out of Tennessee, but once she’s back, all those reasons to keep his distance grow weaker by the day.
Unable to fight against his own judgment any longer, Copper finally claims Shell for his own. But once again the universe steps in, revealing secrets with the power to destroy them both.
Shell will do anything for Copper, even tear out her own heart and confront the most agonizing parts of her past. But will she be too late to save her dream?
2010
If they caught her, there’d be hell to pay.
Absolute hell.
Michelle didn’t even want to imagine the level Copper’s anger would climb to if he discovered her trailing after him and his men in the dark woods behind the clubhouse well after midnight.
The fury would be epic.
Biblical.
She may be a fifteen-year-old kid, but she wasn’t an idiot. Sneaking out of her home, pedaling her bicycle across town to the clubhouse, and lurking in the shadows until the men emerged was not only dangerous, it was reckless—and probably pointless as well.
She wouldn’t be able to see a damn thing when the guys finally stopped trekking. But she had to be here. Had to find out if the club had really captured the man who murdered her father.
Four sets of heavy-booted feet tromped through the woods, making no effort toward stealth, thankfully. Shell wasn’t exactly mouse-quiet herself, but the noise from the determined group drowned out her leaf-crunching steps.
She shivered despite the down jacket engulfing her body. Mid-January at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains was pretty freakin’ cold. Lucky for her, it hadn’t snowed in the past few weeks.
“Fuck, it’s dark out here. Wouldn’t be able to see my own damn dick. We almost done with this romantic stroll through the woods?” That was Maverick’s voice. Easy to distinguish because ninety percent of the nonsense out of his mouth was laden with snark and sarcasm. As one of the newer patches, he was making a name for himself with his wit and constant inappropriate humor.
“We have a fucking flashlight, you big baby. Suck it up and keep walking.”
Zach. Another new patch.
Clenching her teeth in a fruitless effort to stem the chattering, Shell stole on after the men she considered family. Loved them like family as well. Loved them more than the majority of her flesh and blood relatives, if she was honest.
The further into the woods they ventured, the more confident Shell grew in her guess of their destination. The guys had to be headed to The Box. Thoughts of what that meant sent a different kind of shiver racing down her spine. Growing up in the MC, Shell had heard countless rumors about The Box. How the club kept a giant underground torture chamber filled with hundreds of Handlers’ enemies from years back. How it was about a mile out into the woods behind the clubhouse. How the walls were coated with blood and faded screams echoed through the dungeon. The Honeys loved to gossip and guess precisely what went on down there, and each tale was more gruesome than the last. By the time she was twelve, Shell had heard stories of prisoners having limbs sawed off, eyeballs plucked out, and dicks clamped in a vice. Half of what the club girls said couldn’t be believed. At least that’s what her mother told her when she was nine and asked what a blow job was and why she overheard a Honey using it in reference to her father. Since that day, she’d always tried to take what they told her with a grain of salt. It’s not as though the men actually shared any club business with the women who were little more than whores.
The truth was probably a watered-down version of the legends, even if the Honey bragging about blowing Shell’s father had been telling the truth. Turned out the man had been with nearly all of them at one point or another. Something every fifteen-year-old girl wanted to think about. Regardless, The Box existed and wasn’t a place anyone wanted to find themselves.
After another five minutes of wordless journeying through the woods, the men suddenly came to a dead stop.
Michelle darted behind the nearest thick-trunked tree. She held as still as possible, not even daring to breathe. Too bad her heart was pounding so loud it could be heard a mile away.
Had the guys noticed her? Did they suspect they had a stowaway? Could they hear the rattling of her frozen and terrified bones?
This was by far her stupidest idea ever.
“Bring him out to me,” Copper said.
Shell would recognize that voice anywhere. That Irish brogue belonging to the six-foot-five, tatted biker who starred in every teenage fantasy she’d ever had. His name decorated a diary hidden deep under her bed, scrawled over and over with spritzes of cheap perfume and lipstick kisses. If anyone ever found it, she’d die on the spot, but so far, her secret was safe.
“You sure, brother? Wouldn’t it be easier to do this shit down in The Box?” Rusty asked.
Shell frowned. Younger by ten years, Rusty was Copper’s brother and a huge jerk. There was no other word to describe him. Okay, there were a few others, but despite their extreme sailor-enviable mouths, the guys got on her case every time she swore. Sick of them always nagging about ladies not cussing, she avoided using any kind of foul language in front of them. Kinda like she avoided Rusty at all costs.
“I want him out here. I want him to feel the air, see the stars, smell the clean scent of the forest. He needs to realize everything he’s never going to have the chance to experience again. He needs to feel what I’m taking away from him. I want him to experience one last flicker of hope that we’ll let him live, right before I slit his fucking throat.”
Shell swallowed. Though she couldn’t see his face, she imagined Copper stroking his beard, deep in thought as he plotted someone’s demise. There were stories about that, too. About the lengths Copper would go to protect his club. His men and their families.
But now she had a front-row seat to the horror show.
“You got it,” Zach said. There was some rustling, then silence that seemed to drag on for hours but was probably only minutes. Everything appeared darker, longer, more intense when outside in the hours following midnight.
Finally, footsteps crunched over leaves again, followed by a grunt and a thud. Shell blew out a silent breath and peeked around her tree. Someone had lit a lantern, illuminating a small clearing in the woods. A man knelt on the ground, arms bound behind him with Copper, Maverick, Zach, and Rusty circled around him.
Back to her, she didn’t have a view of Copper’s face, but she sure had a clear line of sight to the man on the ground.
Reaper, they called him. Because of the number of men he’d sent to their graves. Those were rumors Shell believed. She’d seen the dark-eyed man in action. Her insides quivered at the memories, and she sucked in a soundless, trembling breath.
This was why she’d followed the guys into the woods when she should have been home snoozing away in preparation for school in the morning.
Reaper was the man who’d killed her father five years ago.
Earlier that afternoon, she’d been at the clubhouse helping some of the ol’ ladies prepare dinner. Tasked with letting the men know their meal was ready to be devoured, she’d wandered toward Copper’s office only to hear Reaper’s name being tossed around in conjunction with plans to head to The Box in the night.
Her mind and body had frozen until the noises from Copper’s office alerted her to the men mobilizing. Then, she’d scurried back to the door of the kitchen and pretended to emerge just as they did, feigning her ignorance.
Even by the dim glow of the lantern, it was apparent the eyes staring up at Copper held no remorse. No fear. It was as though life, even his own, held no value to him. Almost made her wish the men would keep him alive and in pain a while before ending him. Most might find it sick. Most might wake with nightmares after watching someone die, but Shell had already been down that road. The soulless look in his eyes was the same she’d seen the night he stole her father from her. Memories from that time had stayed so strong, so fresh in her mind even with the passage of time, and Reaper’s brought them right back to the surface.
She’d been with her father that fated night, four years ago, when the madman known as Reaper shot him in cold blood at a gas station.
As long as she lived, Shell would never forget the horror of that night. It was late on a Saturday, and her father was driving Shell and her mother home from a family barbecue at the clubhouse. From the second row of their truck, she’d watched her dad walk out of the quiet gas station market, two coffees in hand. Seconds later, Reaper appeared from the shadows, shot her father from three feet away, then disappeared as fast as he’d materialized. She’d had as clear a view of his pale face that night as she did now.
It all happened so fast, it was over before her brain processed what her eyes had seen. But once it did, her heart broke clear in two, and she screamed so loud she couldn’t speak for days.
Now, finally, more than four years later, justice would be served, MC style. And she didn’t have it in her to find anything wrong with that. Maybe it was how she was raised, or maybe it was just in her blood, but she had always felt safe, loved, and protected knowing the club would do anything and everything to protect and avenge its own.
Copper had been there that night. He’d witnessed her devastation, seen her in the lowest moment of her life. In her lovestruck teenage mind, she’d hoped some of the reason for Copper’s tireless search for Reaper had something to do with him wanting to ease her pain, though, in truth, he’d have done it for anyone associated with the club.
“You’ve been a hard man to find,” Copper said as he stepped closer to his captive.
Reaper snorted. Whoever had taken him prisoner, roughed him up quite a bit. One black eye, a seeping gash on his cheek, ripped shirt, wheezy breathing. His short black hair was caked with blood, matted to his head. Not near enough punishment in Shell’s eyes.
“Been easy to slip under the radar with you idiots looking for me,” Reaper slurred like his tongue was swollen. He smiled, actually smiled, revealing missing teeth.
From the cover of her tree, Shell locked her knees to keep from charging forward and raining a hell of her own down on the smug bastard.
Copper chuckled. “That may be, but we got your ass now. Been waiting on this moment for a long time.” As he spoke, he drew a wicked looking blade from a sheath on his belt.
Shell’s eyes widened, and she covered her mouth to muffle a gasp. Maybe she hadn’t been as prepared as she’d thought to watch Copper take a life.
Yet she couldn’t tear her gaze away.
The rest of the men stood with spread legs, folded arms, and flat expressions as they watched Copper close the distance to Reaper. Pressing the blade against the man’s throat, he said, “This is for my President, his ol’ lady, and Shell.” The venom in Copper’s voice had Shell’s eyes widening more than the act of blatant violence she was about to witness. He sounded like a different man. A lethal man completely capable of killing in cold blood. “This is for Shell most of all because an eleven-year-old girl should never have to live with the image of her father being gunned down. Rest in hell, motherfucker.”
Reaper laughed, making Shell flinch. The sound was so maniacal it could have been a psychotic movie villain’s cackle. And the man dared to do it while Copper held a deadly knife to his throat.
Insanity.
“There’s so much you don’t know Prez,” he said as though mocking Copper.
“Details don’t matter. You killed my president, now you die.”
Reaper might be a psychotic killer, but he was freaking brave. Not once did he cower, beg for his life, or break eye-contact with Copper. Just as Copper’s arm muscles flexed with the telltale sign of impending movement, Reaper said, “Too bad I didn’t notice the girl watching me that night. Might have taken her with me. She’da made a good plaything.”
The growl that came from Copper sent chills skittering across all Shell’s nerve endings. He didn’t bother speaking, just drew the blade across Reaper’s throat in one fluid motion.
Easy as slicing through butter.
Blood immediately flowed from the slash followed by a horrendous gurgling sound. This time, Shell couldn’t catch the shocked gasp before it left her mouth. The moment it was out, she held her breath and prayed no one heard. Copper didn’t so much as twitch. Zach watched the life drain from Reaper. Mav bounced his leg as though impatient to get the process over with.
But Rusty, Rusty met her gaze with a cold, sadistic stare. Shell gulped down the disgusting taste of bile that flooded her mouth.
As he glared at her, Rusty’s lips curled into a smile that could only be described as predatory.
The hairs on Shell’s arms stood straight on end. Something about that smile set her on edge because she’d swear it had nothing to do with Reaper’s death and everything to do with her.
Shit. Would he rat her out to Copper? The jerk would probably take great pleasure in that. Now that she’d been busted, she could only wait and see what fate had in store for her.
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Lilly Atlas is a contemporary romance author, proud Navy wife, and mother of two spunky girls. By day she works as a physical therapist for a hospital in Virginia. Lilly is an avid romance reader, and expects her Kindle to beg for mercy every time she downloads a new eBook. Thankfully, it hasn’t happened yet, and she can often be found absorbed in a good book.
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Living For Forever – Release

Title: Living For Forever
Series: Battle Born MC #3
Author: Scarlett Black
Genre: MC/Erotic Romance
Published: January 24, 2019
“This book will take you on an amazing ride!!” ~ Amazon Review
“OMG! Scarlett Black absolutely wrecked me with this book. It was raw, deep and beautiful. . .” ~ Amazon Review
If love is their sin, then together they lie, bound to one another, their love living for forever.
The girl who walks this earth as a ghost of her circumstance must find her redemption to come back to the living. A new beginning will happen, but someone will have to pay in blood to get it.
Years of pain and crippling memories have left Jenn fighting through life to overcome a tragic past. Until they come back to destroy her and to take what they want. Can she bury the pain in lies to save those that she loves? Or will the lies destroy her in the long run?
James wanted one thing when he moved to Reno, a fresh start. Never did he imagine that he would join an MC, but the brotherhood called to him. They had a loving start to a now tormented present. Will he get what he needs and save the woman that he loves?
 
Scarlett Black lives in a small town in Northern Nevada. She has three kids a husband and a couple of dogs. She loves to watch baseball, especially when her kids or husband play. One day she had random thoughts floating around in her brain, opened her laptop and started writing without really knowing of where the journey would take her. Here she is now, a first-time erotic MC genre author, that works full time. She enjoys her busy life, the outdoors and shopping as much as possible!
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Deal Makers – Release Blitz

Title: Deal Makers
Series: Dealing With Love #3 (interconnected standalone)
Author: Laura Lee
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: January 4, 2019
Cover Design: JLD Designs – LIMITED TIME $0.99 RELEASE PRICE –
I’VE OFFICIALLY SCREWED THE POOCH. 
I mean, not literally, because that would be disgusting. But I did break one of the cardinal rules of Bro Code, which is equally appalling. You see, I fell in love with my best friend’s sister after he explicitly forbid me to go near her. As if that weren’t bad enough, I went ahead and married her while sh*tfaced in Vegas. 
I know that I should get an annulment and forget the whole thing ever happened, despite the fact that our wedding night was the hottest thing I’ve ever experienced. 
The last thing I should do is go back for seconds. 
Or thirds. 
Or…you get the point. 
And what I definitely shouldn’t do, is say f*ck the consequences and give this marriage a real shot. 
But here’s the problem with that: I’m pretty sure that Charlotte Harris is the one. And if that’s the case, nothing is going to keep me away from her. Not even her brother. 
*Deal Makers is filled with lots of laughs, drunken shenanigans, and a sexy romance. It is the third installment in the Dealing With Love series but each one can be read as a standalone.
CHARLEE
Why is my bra hanging off the lamp?
I stare at the lacy red garment in disbelief. That is not the lamp from my hotel room, which means I’m in some rando’s bed. A quick peek under the covers confirms that I am, in fact, naked as the day I was born. Also, a freakishly large hand is covering my right breast.
Why is a stranger pawing my boob?
I wiggle away from the offending hand as I try recalling the events from last night. Despite my best efforts, the only thing my brain will produce is a blur of shots lining a bar and…Lady Gaga? Goddamn, how much did I drink? My head feels like all seven dwarfs are tunneling through my skull. And my mouth tastes like ass. Not that I’ve ever tasted ass, but you know what I mean. Nausea rolls through me as I gather the courage to roll over and see what I’m dealing with here.
Oh.
Okay, ignoring the fact that I had sex with a complete stranger, maybe it’s not so bad. The mystery man’s face is buried beneath a fluffy white pillow but the parts that I can see are quite nice. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy with so little body fat in real life—his biceps are probably bigger than my freaking head. As I take in the thick tribal tattoo winding around his upper arm, I get a sudden flash of tracing that ink with soft kisses.
Whoa.  
Continuing my perusal, little bits and pieces come back to me. This guy’s bronzed chest is ridiculously wide and his abs are chiseled all the way down to a very lickable V. I should know, because my tongue was all over it last night. My lips turn up in the corner when I see the beginnings of a neatly trimmed patch of hair. I’ve always appreciated a man that keeps up with his pube maintenance. Nobody wants to suck on hairy balls. Just sayin’.
In case you’re wondering, mystery man’s balls are smooth as a baby’s bottom.
God, why can’t I remember anything other than getting freaky with a faceless stranger?
Is that a nipple ring? Damn. I can’t say I’ve given it much thought before, but that tiny little barbell is hot. The stark white sheet is resting over his package but there’s a considerable bulge beneath the cotton. Plus, if the thing poking me in the ass when I woke up is any indication, this guy is hung.
One little peek won’t hurt, right?
I mean, it’s not like I haven’t seen it before. It’s totally for science—maybe it will trigger another memory. I pinch the sheet between my thumb and forefinger, lifting it just enough to get a look-see-loo.
Wow.
Let’s just say my soreness makes perfect sense now. Also, that memory triggering thing did a bang-up job, because now I know that I somehow fit that anaconda in my mouth. Huh. Maybe I’ve recently learned how to unhinge my jaw.
Jesus.
I guess if you’re going to have a drunken one-night-stand, a nice body and big dick isn’t a bad way to do it, right?
I drop the sheet when the giant next to me groans and rolls to his other side. Shit, I need to stop ogling him and get out of here before he wakes up. I carefully slide out of bed and slink across the floor to the crumpled pile of black fabric. With the dress clenched in my hand, I crawl over to the sitting room and crouch behind a chair to pull it over my head. My panties are MIA so it’s going to be a little drafty, but I’m more concerned about getting out of here unnoticed than searching for them. I can’t bear the thought of leaving my favorite bra behind though, so I risk returning to the bedroom before I go. As I carefully untangle the straps from the lampshade, something on the opposite nightstand catches my eye.
What the hell?
No longer giving any fucks about my stealth, I run to the other side of the bed and grab the cheesy cardboard frame. There’s an eight-by-ten picture inside, of me and a beast of a man, smiling like circus clowns, standing in front of a Lady Gaga impersonator.
Well, that explains that.
If this is the same man lying in that bed—which by his sheer size alone, I’m assuming so—then, the faceless stranger isn’t so faceless anymore, nor is he a stranger. I’m not sure if that makes this situation better or worse though. Why can’t I recall anything? And why am I holding a little bouquet of flowers?I flip the frame over and almost vomit on the spot when I see the logo imprinted on the back.
Hunk of Burning Love Wedding Chapel
Las Vegas, Nevada
Taped to the back is a folded piece of paper. I open it with trembling hands, hoping and praying that I did not do what I think I did last night. I squeeze my eyes shut when I catch a glimpse, willing the words on the paper to change. I open my eyes and look again, but no such luck. I’ve officially become a cliché.
“What in the ever-loving fuck happened last night?!” I shout.
The hulking man groans again from beneath his pillow. I go to rip it off his face, but pause when the sunlight catches the little gold band wrapped around my finger. More specifically, the fourth finger on my left hand. When did that get there? Oh yeah, it must’ve been when I got freaking MARRIED!
I grab the pillow and begin whacking my apparent husband in the face repeatedly.
“Ow! What the fuck?” he screams.
I throw the pillow across the room. “‘What the fuck?!’ What the fuck,is right! This has to be your fault, you stupid asshole!”
“Charlee?”  He blinks his eyes rapidly, clearing the sleep fog. “Why in the hell are you in my room? And why are you beating the shit out of me?”
“That’s a great question, Drew!Why the fuck am I in your hotel room?”
The big oaf grins widely as he takes me in. It’s pretty obvious that I’m wearing a walk-of-shame dress. I’m sure my wild hair isn’t helping matters either.
“Did we hook up last night? Damn, I really wish I could remember that.”
The picture frame bounces off his beefy chest when I chuck it at him. “Oh, we did a helluva lot more than that, you idiot!”
He scrubs a hand over his face before picking up the evidence of my living nightmare. It takes a few seconds for it to register, but once he too, realizes what we did, his eyes widen and his jaw falls slack.
“Holy shit.”
Yeah, holy shit, indeed.
I just married my brother’s best friend.
Laura’s passion has always been storytelling. She spent most of her life with her nose in a book thinking of alternate endings or continuations to the story. She won her first writing contest at the ripe old age of nine, earning a trip to the state capital to showcase her manuscript. Thankfully for her, those early works will never see the light of day again! 
Laura lives in the Pacific Northwest with her wonderful husband, two beautiful children, and three of the most poorly behaved cats in existence. She likes her fruit smoothies filled with rum, her cupboards stocked with Cadbury’s chocolate, and her music turned up loud. When she’s not writing or watching HGTV, she’s reading anything she can get her hands on. She’s a sucker for spicy romances, especially those involving vampires, bad boys, or cowboys!
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Beneath The Surface – Pre Order

Title: Beneath the Surface
Series: A Gray Ghost Novel
Author: Amy McKinley
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: January 8, 2019
Russian sleeper agent, Hannah Miller has spent nine long years installed within America’s intelligence agencies. When the private plane carrying a secret weapon she and her boss are on is hijacked—her wait to be activated is finally over.
Jack Davis, ex-boyfriend and former Navy SEAL, is sent in. His primary mission is to recover the secret weapon, but he refuses to leave Hannah behind—not when he still has feelings for her. When mounting evidence points to Hannah as a traitor, Jack must decide where to place his trust. Aiding her could risk his career, but betraying her risks his heart.
When Hannah is framed for murder, Jack convinces her to work with him in a scheme that will reveal the true culprit, unmasking a corruption that has reached some of the highest levels of US government. 
Amy McKinley is the author of the Five Fates Series and Gray Ghost Novels. Her romance books have strong heroines, sexy alphas, and just the right amount of heat and danger. She lives in Illinois with her husband, two daughters, two sons, and three mischievous cats. You can find her at http://www.amymckinley.com
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Jackal’s Pride – Release Tour

Title: Jackal’s Pride
Series: Seven Deadly Series: Book Two
Author: Michelle Gross
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: December 31, 2018
Despite a near catastrophe, there’s time for a fateful encounter.
Maureen Reaper, eldest daughter of the revered Grim Reaper, avoided an apocalyptic vortex which threatened humanity, but she still has time for bets. She can’t help it thanks to her curse—the sin of pride. Her latest one brings her face-to-face with an entity no one has seen or heard from for thousands of years.
Jackal, an entity created by the Devil himself, has never known the comprehension of emotions until the day a witch cursed him to feel for everything he has killed. Unable to bear the new burden of a heavy heart, he sleeps with no intention of ever waking until someone finds him.
There’s nothing beautiful in their meeting. Enemies by birth, only more so when Maureen straps a collar around his neck all for a bet. She awakens a beast whose every first—every new glare, new craving, and touch has landed upon her.
Then she learns that the one she sought out in a game controlled by pride could be the very one that helps turn the tide back in the Reapers’ favor.
But that’s the thing…
Pride is a bitch, and Maureen is her.
Beckie Bookworm – “This one gets a sure hell yeah from my camp” Goodreads Review – “I fell into the story and didn’t want to come up. I hope, I pray, that Gross gives us book three soon because I need more NOW.” BookedMercy – “I was genuinely blow away by this book. It’s hard to find a good paranormal book so I was pleasantly surprised when reading this gem.”
Michelle is from a small town in Eastern Kentucky where opossums try to blend in with the cats on the porch and bears are likely to chase your pets—this is very true, it happened with her sister’s dog. Despite the extra needed protection for your pets, she loves the mountains she calls home. She has a man and twin girls who are the light of her life and the reason she’s slightly crazy.
As a kid, she was that cousin, that friend, that sister and daughter, the talker who could spin a tale and make-believe into any little thing so it was no surprise when she found love in reading, and figured all these characters inside her head needed an outlet. They wanted to be heard, so she wrote.
The voices keep growing faster than she gets the time to write. 
The stories are never going to end. That’s perfectly okay, though. We never want to stop an adventure. 
She writes and loves many different genres so sign up to her mailing list to keep updated on her releases!
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In Servitude – Book Blitz + Giveaway

Inservitude

I thrilled to share this gorgeous book today! In Servitude by Heleen Kist, has been blowing readers away in Europe since it’s release and now is taking North America by storm! Today I will be sharing an exclusive excerpt, and inviting you to enter an international giveaway for a chance to win a paperback copy of this exciting thriller! In Servitude is also available for review through R&R Book Tours. Find out how you can get a copy below! InServitude_HeleenKist_Cover_.jpgIn Servitude Recently voted Top 50 Best Indie of 2018 on Read Free.ly Publication Date: August 23, 2018 Genre: Thriller/ Suspense/ Mystery Do you owe your family your life? Grace thought her sister led a charmed existence. She was wrong. Now she has to pay the price. When Grace’s beloved sister Glory dies in a car crash, her carefully planned life spirals out of control. She discovers Glory had been manipulated into illegal activities at her trendy vegan café. What’s worse, Grace finds herself an unwitting accomplice now forced to take over her sister’s shady dealings. Determined to keep her fingers clean and protect those Glory left behind, Grace plots to escape the clutches of Glasgow’s criminal underworld. But her moral certainty is challenged when more family secrets emerge and her sister’s past intentions remain unclear. Grace grows convinced Glory was murdered. Why won’t anyone listen? Seeking justice, she finds betrayal… Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

inservitude_heleenkist_cover_1.jpg

Blue pulled at the lead. I let him off once I’d scanned the area and noted no loose dogs. Only a lone figure loitering. His eye line crossed mine as he also examined the park, and paused on me long enough to raise a creepy sensation. I moved to a bench by the play park and pretended to tie my laces. When I straightened up, the man was striding straight towards me. I searched for Blue, hoping for a semblance of protection, but he was nowhere to be seen. Nor was anyone else. Before I could stop him, the man sat down next to me. He whistled and shouted, ‘Here boy!’ then faced me with a disturbing grin. As if he knew the dog wouldn’t come. I jumped to my feet and looked around. What had he done? On the second blow of silent air through my dry mouth, Blue appeared from behind a tree thirty yard away. Safe. He showed no interest in me or the man, instead sniffing out the ground’s many treasures. I turned back to the intruder. Standing over him gave me an edge—at least I thought it did—and I raised my chin and my voice when I asked, ‘Do I know you?’ He chuckled. ‘Nah, hen. I’m only the messenger.’ ‘What?’ His smile faded. ‘We’re not very happy about you closing the café for so long. You need to open up again. There’s a delivery coming on Thursday.’ ‘What do you mean? How do you—’ His eyes turned to ice as he grabbed my wrist in a flash. ‘We’ll be very disappointed if you’re not there to receive the goods. Ken what I’m saying?’ He rushed off, his dark coat billowing behind him like a cape, almost engulfing Blue who circled his legs, tail wagging, until he turned towards the road.
For a limited time, In Servitude will be on sale, so be sure to download your copy today! Amazon US only 2.99 Amazon CA only 3.99 Amazon UK only 1.99 Europe only 2.99 Paperback also available Barnes & Noble & other outlets! About the Author InServitude_HeleenKist_Author Heleen Kist is a Dutch businesswoman who lived all over the world while growing up and for her career. Then she fell in love with a Scotsman and his country, and now writes about its (sometimes scary) people from her garden office in Glasgow. She was selected as an ‘up and coming new writer’ and awarded a Spotlight at Bloody Scotland 2018, the International crime writing festival. Her debut psychological suspense novel ‘In Servitude’ was inspired by Heleen’s expertise in small business finance mixed with her friend’s courageous idea to open a vegan cafe in a city renowned for its dubious diet. She is currently working on her next book, which will be dark women’s fiction.

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Death In Vermilion – Book Tour + Chapter Exclusive

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To get ready for the 2019 release of book 2 in The Cape Mysteries, I’m sharing Death in Vermilion today, the book that started it all! I dare you to read the first chapter and not download a copy today! 39863595Death in Vermilion Publication Date: April 16th, 2018 Genre: Mystery/ Thriller/ Suspense KWL Cover Contest of 2018, Mystery Category Nominee! A psychological thriller about murder among friends … and enemies. Who do you trust? Leila Goodfriend is laying down the bones of a painting. Interrupted by Iris, the noisy, unlikeable artist in the studio upstairs, Leila becomes distracted and annoyed. When she discovers the racket was actually Iris’ dead body hitting the floor, Leila becomes obsessed: Who murdered Iris? The other Red Barn Cooperative artists—competitive, jealous and hypocritical—are prime suspects. They all hated Iris. “An artist owes his life to his art,” Iris said. Iris was good for a laugh. But no one is laughing now. In this gripping mystery, new author Barbara Elle paints a clever and twisted picture of women and sisters, whose lives are entwined by a brutal murder in a charming Cape Cod town. Alibis fall apart. Plot twists multiply. And Leila comes to a dangerous conclusion. Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

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Chapter 1

Bellies and Strips

There was no glance more cutting or cruel. The narrowing of unsympathetic eyes a shade of cool, blue slate, like Dylan’s on the cover of Highway 61 Revisited. The imperceptible flare of nostrils, followed by a slow yoga exhalation in Savasana, the corpse. It wasn’t going well. Leila Goodfriend was laying down the bones of a painting. She took a step back from her easel. A no-name clam shack clung fearlessly as a barnacle to the edge of the old East End pier. A forlorn wooden structure, barely bigger than a Punch & Judy puppet stage, had withstood the fierce winds whipping off the water in the dead of winter. The pier was deserted. Anyone could paint a sunny day. After outlining the shack in ghostly charcoal strokes, she stood, hand on hip, poised with a palette loaded with ultramarine and cobalt blues for the sky, sap green for foliage, a transparent manganese blue hue for waves in the water, Van Dyck brown for the pier’s planks and Naples Yellow Hue for sunlight. Flake white blobs dabbed in the foreground could be gulls, or children, or discarded clam containers. She hadn’t decided which. Leila loved that shack, the rough pier, and the view of dotted Race Point Lighthouse off the distance. Painting was all about execution, feeling a connection to the subject, the composition, the angles of light. Though local artists mostly painted popular summer scenes of boats and beaches. That’s what the summer birds, vacationers who nested in the Cape Cod dunes from June until the end of August, bought. Her husband Joe dubbed them the dorks of summer. Leila didn’t care what unflattering name Joe had for them, or whether the summer birds cared as much about this place she called home as she did. She wanted to sell them a painting capturing what she loved about this place. If she was lucky, and painting was largely a matter of luck, random strokes on the canvas would become a painting, At the Clam Bar: Succulent Bellies and Strips. If one of the summer birds bought her painting, she’d be happy. Even the most dedicated of artists needs affirmation sometimes. A loud whacking thump overhead jarred Leila rudely from her thoughts; the thud traveled like a jolt of electricity down her spine Immediately, Leila knew the disturbance, of course, was Iris. Iris again. Always Iris. Of the six other artists who called the Red Barn home, her studio had to be, unfortunately, overhead. And inevitably, as Iris worked, the creaking old floorboards quaked under her relentless assault with her flapping Birkenstock sandals. Leila complained about Iris to Joe more than once, actually almost every day. It was impossible for someone who barely grazed five feet could make so much noise. Iris could be quiet if she tried, she’d say. She was inconsiderate. She was pompous. “Art,” Iris would say, “has a life of its own and an artist owes his life to his art.” Quoting Iris was good for a laugh. If Iris bothered her so much, Joe would say, why keep talking about it? Why not rent a different studio? That would make sense, except Leila loved her space, had been there for nearly five years, and was lucky to have found it in this touristy town. Besides, she hated giving in to her own annoyance; she’d learn to ignore Iris if it killed her. Maybe, someday, Iris would just float away like a child’s birthday balloon. No such luck; gravity worked overtime with every tread Iris inflicted in her flapping Birkenstock sandals. Leila fought her first instinct, which was to grab the long, telescoping pole by the casement window, stand on a stool and bang her weapon of choice sharply on the lofty ceiling, twice. It wouldn’t work. It never did. Iris would ignore her. Instead, Leila turned up NPR on the radio. She could drown out Iris with the sound of undemanding human voices on the radio. NPR was excellent company and, when necessary, excellent white noise. The hourly news, a lengthy interview, a personal piece affected in that breathless NPR accent was the perfect antidote for distraction. And the distraction was usually Iris. Iris McNeil Thornton was a fellow member of the Red Barn Art Cooperative at Castle Road, which was housed in the happily dilapidated Red Barn Studio. It was high on a hill, overlooking Pamet Marsh, close enough to spy the flights of blue herons and egrets wheeling through the Aliziran Crimson sky, the sun an orb of Cadmium Yellow falling into the salt marshes from her window. Among the Red Barn’s many charms were the old building’s quirky twists and turns, the sizeable studio spaces with high ceilings from its former life as the Southwind Bros. Button and Snap factory. Leila loved the patina on the old, uneven oak floorboards, the room secreted under the stairwell, doors that jammed and staircases that creaked. But it was the heady mix of gesso, turp, linseed, pigments, primer, developers and emulsions, the fat smell of oil layered with acrylic resin and a faint dash of watercolor, an acrid, chemical concoction heady in the nasal passages, smells as familiar as the scent of a baby, that made it home. Not that the Red Barn was without its problems. The daily irritations of artistry and intimacy meant the Red Barn artists were often less than happy. And when the Red Barn artists were less than happy, which occurred as frequently as the tides, they would reach for anything on hand ⎯ brooms, clogs, slammed doors, sighs in the hallways, post-it notes on the bulletin board, giggles behind a back, and any combination thereof ⎯ to convey their displeasure. Under other circumstances such communications might be considered rude, but the Red Barn operated by its own set of rules. It wasn’t that the Red Barn, a collective space of otherwise solitary individuals, didn’t have its share of fellowship and communal spirit. Sometimes it was nice to see a friendly face. But, recently, their friendships had been called into question by a series of items gone missing, small stuff, seemingly at random, from their studios, Daklon paintbrush, a can of gesso, and unused tube of paint and a half-used tube of paint. A box of plastic gloves was now empty; which Leila was sure had been half-full. No one said theft, not at first. It was more like, did I leave this in your studio? did you find this in the bathroom? I must be a little crazy because I was sure I had it, but as the missing items mounted, minor though they were, so did whispering, suspicion, and an uneasy sense someone, maybe one of them, was a thief. It made Leila uneasy; maybe someone was invading her studio, without her knowing. She debated whether, like Iris, she should lock her door at the end of the day. But she shook it off as unnecessary paranoia and decided to ignore it. Leila took a deep breath, brushed back her unruly, graying curls, squinting at her canvas. When she painted, the circling steps of the heavy woman upstairs receded from consciousness, and time was suspended. The wood planks of the pier were muddied. The perspective wasn’t quite right. The colors weren’t right. Leila waggled the end of her paintbrush like a cigar between her lips. It was a messy habit. She looked down at the black-and-white photo of the shack, not that she had any intention of painting the snapshot, any more than a musician only plays the notes. Leila picked up her palette knife. Shaped like a small trowel for digging in the dirt, its usefulness came from its versatility in blending colors, creating textural effects, or scraping across the surface of a painting to obliterate an offense. Artists can be rough on their work; Leila was her own toughest critic. The pier had to go. Leila wielded the knife, scraping hard until she hit the tooth of the canvas. She preferred working on a good, tightly woven cotton duck. It wasn’t an inert surface, so it recovered quickly after Leila’s brief attack. She dabbed a rag soaked in turpentine on the wound. The reconstruction of the pier could wait until tomorrow. What time was it? Leila lost track of time as she worked. She never wore a watch in the studio. But if she left too late, Joe would be annoyed his port wine reduction for the seared tuna had broken. It wasn’t the sauce—he could revive with a quick whisk of butter on a low heat—it was her spending more and more time at the studio and coming home later. The sky over Cape Cod Bay was a wistful grey heading into night. Leila put down her palette knife, turned down her radio, and listened. There was quiet, finally quiet, blissful silence. Now, at the end of the day, Leila had to steel herself for the most infuriating moment of the day: Iris leaving. The torrential thumps of Iris’ flapping Birkenstocks as she gathered up her belongings, slammed the window, searched for her purse, and slammed her door. The old oak boards were punished as as Iris clomped overhead. The stomp was followed by the slam. Iris was incapable of doing anything quietly. There was some relief in the slam—it meant Iris was no longer overhead. The Red Barn artists never said good night, pretending not to notice each other’s comings and goings. So Leila didn’t expect Iris to poke her head in, or wave when she passed by. However, the daily drama of the swirling clamor that was Iris, like a performer doing a star turn on the stage, made it impossible not to notice her entrances and exits. Leila walked to the window. The light of an Indian summer day was fading. Sailboats moored in the bay listed drunkenly. Had the final thump earlier signaled Iris’ departure? Leila walked back to her canvas. She recognized this as the same solitary circling as that of her neighbor overhead. It was ironic, but that didn’t stop Iris from being an annoyance. She put her tools on her workbench. She should rinse them in turpentine and water in the bathroom at the end of the hall—the brushes would be tackier and difficult to clean after drying overnight. Oh well, she’d deal with that in the morning. Grabbing her backpack, she turned out the lights and closed her door. The hallway was silent. The other studio doors on her floor were closed. No Philomena, no Dové. But something in the quality of the jarring loud noise earlier somehow made the quiet louder. The stairs were poorly lit, even after Leila switched on the bare bulb dangling overhead. The whole damn place was a fire hazard. She climbed to the second floor. No Liz, no Gretchen. Later, she couldn’t quite explain why hadn’t she gone home. The crap fixture in the upstairs hall, that never worked right, was out, as usual. The damn, dusty moose head Iris had mounted above her door stared down dolefully through its blind, button eyes. Its antlers wore a fine coat of dust. Iris’ door was open a crack, which surprised Leila. Iris worked behind closed, locked doors, all day, every day. The other Red Barn artists left their doors open at least a smidgen, not exactly an invitation, but not a deliberately antisocial act. Iris had no such compunctions. Leila knocked. Silence. She hesitated. Should she leave Iris alone? She took a few steps back toward the stairs, but turned around. What harm was it peeking inside? “Iris, its only me, Leila. ” No answer. “Iris, are you there?” Leila stared through the crack in the door. At first, she thought the room was empty, but as her eyes adjusted, Leila made out a shape, or maybe a shadow, in the center of the studio. The value of the only available light source, through the far window, made it difficult to see. Iris refused to use artificial light. She insisted on painting ‘as the Old Masters had’, that is, only by natural light. For a time, she had painted by candlelight, until the Red Barn got wind of it, banning burning candles before Iris burned the place down. Leila stared at the shape. It didn’t move. Iris never left her door unlocked. Maybe she’d left something behind and would come back for it. Leila pushed the door open further, venturing into the silent studio, under the disapproving gaze of the mildewed moose, inching towards the shadow. Iris, who incurred the Red Barn artists’ collective ire by deprecating the work of her fellow artists, neglecting to lock the front door, leaving puddles around communal hall sink, and far worse, as the prime suspect in the ongoing war of toilet squatting accusations, that same annoying Iris, was splayed on the floor, eyes wide open, inert as a tube of sepia. It was a body. Iris’ body. Later, Leila recalled the body like a dead deer, abandoned on the side of the road after an accident. She remembered noting the color of Iris’ skin, like the underpainting of flesh in a neutral shade—what artists called grisaille, or dead coloring. Ironically, under the circumstances, the scene is not unlike Iris’ own brooding assemblages: the carnage of death, overripe fruit in silver bowls, bird carcasses on platters, and game animals, fresh and bloodied, trophies of the hunt hung in the background, rendered in the style of the Old Masters. And later, Leila was vaguely ashamed of her observations, her detachment. But, she thought defensively, isn’t observation was a habit developed over a lifetime? Tentatively, Leila inched forward, reaching out her hand to touch the body. She yanked it back as if it was submerged in a shark tank. Iris was surprisingly warm, alive warm. As her eyes adjusted to the low light, Leila saw Iris’ blood was a seeping stain from her flowing blue dress onto the floorboards. The red was the red every paint manufacturer had tried, but failed, to capture in a tube. Brilliant, blood red. But the eyes were dead, even if the heart was beating. Leila’s heart dropped a beat. Fear crept up her throat. Leila had to look away; she couldn’t look at those eyes. Should she call out? Is anyone here? But it was better she was alone, even if it was with a dead body. But, Iris wasn’t alone. A small figure stood—as if on guard—over the body. Leila bent down to look at it: it was a wooden artist’s mannequin, no bigger than a child’s toy, standing guard over Iris. She recognized him immediately. Jesus, it was Fred, fucking Fred— Leila, in a fanciful mood, had painted the figure to be anatomically correct, as well as well-endowed—who had gone missing from her studio months ago. But poor Fred, as an eyewitness to a crime, could have nothing to say. There was no doubt he was Fred, and that he belonged to her. Bending down to pick up her missing mannequin, Leila gazed into his dead eyes. What to do? In truth, she was both embarrassed by her handiwork, and concerned his presence could be construed as evidence at the scene of the crime; she pocketed Fred and in a sleight of hand he disappeared. Leila didn’t need Fred to paint the picture. Iris prone. The blood. The burnished wood handle of a knife stuck in an ample left breast. Iris had been murdered. Leila didn’t scream. Leila wasn’t a screamer
Available on Amazon & Kobo About the Author barbaraelle In her stunning debut thriller, author Barbara Elle paints a clever and twisted picture of women and sisters, whose lives are entwined by a brutal murder in a charming Cape Cod town. Death In Vermilion asks: Who can you trust? After falling love with books and writing at a young age, she honed her writing chops as a copywriter at Macmillan, Doubleday Books and other publishers. She reported on local events, news and personalities working as a freelance journalist. She grew up in Boston, but as an adult became a New Yorker. However, her writing draws on people and places she remembers, so Death In Vermilion is set on Cape Cod, a place of memories. Barbara continues collecting characters and plots, often traveling the world with her touring musician husband, exploring Buddhist temples in Beijing, crypts in Vienna or Kabuki Theater in Tokyo. She always packs a notebook and a laptop. She is currently working on the second book in The Cape Mysteries, Death in Smoke, due for publication in 2019.

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