Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Sweet Paradise by Gene Desrochers (VBT: Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Sweet Paradise by author Gene Desrochers!

Book Review

Sweet Paradise by Gene Desrochers
Book 2: Boise Montague Series
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Publication Date: April 6, 2021
Format: Hardcover - 306 pages
               Paperback - 305 pages
               Kindle - 4336 KB / 307 pages
               Nook - 690 KB 
ISBN (HC): 978-1952112386
ISBN (PB):  978-1952112379
BNID: 2940165254833
Genre: Murder Mystery

Buy The Book:

Buy The Series: Boise Montague Series
Book 1: Dark Paradise
Book 2: Sweet Paradise

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.

Book Description:

In this harrowing Caribbean noir murder mystery, we meet Private Investigator Boise Montague, a man on the brink who is trying to get his life together after his wife died. He has returned to his childhood home and he’s started a private investigator firm of one. Since returning, his drinking has accelerated and he needs clients desperately before the life insurance money dries up.

Enter Junior Bacon, grandson of Francine Bacon of the Bacon sugar and rum empire. Granny’s gone missing and Junior wants Boise to figure out what happened.

As Boise delves into the mystery of the missing matriarch, a reporter associated with her winds up dead in his new office, dramatically raising the stakes. Now Boise must contend with questions from the police, the newspaper president, and the reporter’s widow.

As Boise investigates he uncovers surprising truths about a woman seeking redemption, a family on the brink, and why no matter how hard we try, the past can sometimes never be fixed.

In the end, Boise must not only confront a killer, but the island’s dark history and his own inner demons.


“Boise Montague, intrepid St. Thomas, V.I. private investigator, returns in SWEET PARADISE. Talented author Gene Desrochers delivers a suspense-filled tale overflowing with duplicitous characters and greed-driven agendas in lushly authentic Caribbean environs. A mature generation is determined to hold tight to the empire that provides them with every luxury, while the next generation attempts to fulfill its dreams … Others will compromise all that is decent. And Boise Montague will do what he does best as he separates the winners from the losers and the innocent from the guilty. A 5-star read.”
–Laura Taylor – 6-Time Romantic Times Award Winner

“Boise is back! Gene Desrochers returns his readers to the island paradise of St. Thomas. You’ll feel the warm tropical breeze as Private Investigator Boise Montague must discover [what happened to] the matriarch of a wealthy island rum producer. The deeper he digs, the closer he gets to his own mortality. Wandering and sometimes stumbling through his investigation, Boise learns about family secrets—and they could kill him. Outstanding writing and the vivid setting will keep you transfixed.”
–R. D. Kardon, award-winning author of Flygirl and Angel Flight

Book Excerpt:

The first coat was drying. More droplets of sweat rivered between my shoulder blades as I slugged water and Guinness alternately. Two in the afternoon was no time to be painting in the October heat, but I didn’t know what else to do and sitting around worrying about my looming penury seemed pointless.

The used old-timey clock radio I’d picked up at Bob’s Store babbled on about hurricane warnings as reception fizzled in and out. It was the latter part of hurricane season and we’d seen minimal storm damage in the region. We might dodge hurricanes for one or two years running, but it was never long enough to truly get complacent about them the way places like New Orleans had.

The overhead fan whirred. Outside my door sunlight filtered thinly through a cloud, illuminating the traffic circle a faint ocher. As I considered the faded lines denoting parking spaces and the cracked pavement, a young man bobbed into my line of sight. He was one of those people who walked on his toes at all times, like the tendons in his calves were so tight his heels couldn’t touch the ground for more than an instant before popping up again. He squinted at the building, turning his head back and forth, then perusing a sheet of paper clutched in both hands. A green Osprey backpack hung loosely off his shoulders. People in California used them for hiking. He tugged at the built-in sippy straw and sucked. The bubbly slurping of the last drops of water in his pouch filtered up to me. Disappointment clouded his face.

His attention snagged on my door. I grinned and gave myself a mental pat on the back. He shifted one hand to his hip and gave a slight lean. I wasn’t sure whether I should let him see me in my ratty painting outfit, but figured that could be explained by the wet door. A spooge of cantaloupe paint dominated the center of my gray t-shirt. I eased the door open a couple more feet.

“Help you?” I asked. “You look lost.”

“Nice door.” He pointed at his forehead and swirled his finger around. “You got some.”

He was college-aged and his face was sunburned, as were his arms. He wore a Hawaiian shirt and khaki pants, a classic tourist outfit.

He continued to stand in the same spot, squinting and considering the sheet of paper. I returned to my inner office, needing another sip of water and the breeze from the fan. Out my open doorway, I could barely make out the top of his Caesar-style haircut.

“You should get a hat!” I hollered out.

His head rose up from the paper and he pushed up on tip-toes so I could see his eyes. “The sun’s doing a number on you,” I said. “Want a drink of water?”

He stared at me a while with a strange stillness, like he was in no hurry as he weighed every option. This boy was a local and he would pull me into events that would rock one of the largest industries in the Virgin Islands.

“Do you have Perrier?”


Excerpt from Sweet Paradise by Gene Desrochers. Copyright 2021 by Gene Desrochers. Reproduced with permission from Gene Desrochers. All rights reserved.

My Book Review:

In Sweet Paradise, the second book of the Boise Montague Series, author Gene Desrochers weaves an intriguing murder mystery tale that follows private investigator Boise Montague's investigation into the disappearance of Bacon sugar and rum empire matriarch, Francine Bacon. 

This dark Caribbean noir mystery tale is set in the tropical island setting of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. It has been six months since Boise returned to his Caribbean childhood home from Los Angeles after the death of his wife Evelyn. He's already solved his first few cases, and has finally hung out his private investigator shingle, and is looking for new clients. Eighteen year old Herbie "Junior" Bacon hires Boise to search for his missing grandmother, Francine Bacon, matriarch of the Bacon sugar and rum empire. Boise doesn't even get a chance to begin his investigation before reporter Adirondack Kendal is murdered at Boise's office doorway. The reporter had a connection with the missing matriarch, and it is up to Boise to uncover the depth of the connection, and find the missing matriarch, before the killer strikes again on the sweet paradise island. 

Author Gene Desrochers provides a multi-layered storyline that has enough mystery, suspense, drama, treachery, secrets, and intriguing twists and turns that keeps the reader guessing. The author weaves an intricate and complicated web of family dysfunction and deep secrets within the Bacon family, intertwined with the connection between Francine and Andirondack, coupled with Boise's investigation of uncovering the possible motive for Francine's disappearance and the reporter's murder, and a growing list of possible suspects who could have been involved. 

Told in the first person perspective, Boise takes the reader along for the ride on his latest investigative adventure. This engaging Caribbean noir mystery story has realistic characters; witty island dialogue and humorous interactions; a rich description of the island setting of St. Thomas; and a multi-layered storyline that easily draws the reader into the interconnection between flashbacks into Boise's childhood past with the present inner demons Boise battles, and how the pieces of the Bacon empire investigation puzzle comes together and is solved. 

Sweet Paradise is the kind of island murder mystery that easily keeps the reader captivated, guessing, on their toes, and wanting more!


About The Author

Gene Desrochers hails from a dot in the Caribbean Sea called St. Thomas. He grew up with minimal supervision and free-roaming animals in a guesthouse that also served as a hospital during wartime. He has spent his life steadily migrating west, and now finds himself in Los Angeles with a beautiful wife, cats, and kids. 

After a lifetime of writing and telling short stories, he ventured into the deep end, publishing his first novel, Dark Paradise in 2018. Sweet Paradise is Gene's second published novel in the Boise Montague Series

Gene lives in Southern California with his wife, step-daughter, and two cats.

Author Website
Amazon Author Page

Win A $20 Amazon Gift Card

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Gene Desrochers. There will be two (2) winners. Each winner will receive an gift card. The giveaway begins on April 5, 2021 and runs through May 9, 2021. Void where prohibited.

Virtual Book Tour Event

Tour Participants:

04/05 Guest post @ Novels Alive

04/06 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

04/07 Guest post @ Books, Ramblings, and Tea

04/08 Showcase @ Reading A Page Turner

04/09 Interview @ Quiet Fury Books

04/10 Showcase @ nanasbookreviews

04/14 Review @ Jane Pettit Reviews

04/15 Interview/showcase @ CMash Reads

04/20 Review @ sunny island breezes


04/22 Review @ Ms. Cats Honest World

04/23 Interview @ A Blue Million Books

04/25 Showcase @ EienCafe

04/26 Guest post @ BooksChatter

04/28 Showcase @ Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

04/29 Review @ Nesies Place

04/30 Review @ Margaret Yelton

05/02 Review @ A Room Without Books is Empty

05/03 Review @ Quirky Cats Fat Stacks

05/03 Showcase @ The Pulp and Mystery Shelf

05/04 Showcase @ The Bookwyrm

05/05 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews

05/06 Showcase @ Im Into Books

05/07 Review @ Just Reviews

Friday, April 30, 2021

Death On Ocean Boulevard by Caitlin Rother (Book Review)

Book Review

Death On Ocean Boulevard by Caitlin Rother
Publisher: Citadel Press
Publication Date: April 27, 2021
Format: Paperback - 368 pages
               Audiobook: 12 Hours 11 Minutes
               Kindle: 2180 KB
               Nook: 2 MB
ISBN: 978-0806540894
ASIN (Audiobook): B08Y6317W3
ASIN (Kindle): B08F2W7V49
BNID: 978-0806540900
Genre: True Crime

Buy The Book:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Book Description:

Bestselling author Caitlin Rother explores the mysterious death of 32-year-old Rebecca Zahau, who was found hanging from a second-story balcony of her multimillionaire boyfriend's San Diego mansion in 2011. She was naked and gagged, with her ankles tied and hands bound behind her. On the door to her bedroom investigators found a hand-written message: "SHE SAVED HIM, CAN YOU SAVE HER." The death was deemed a suicide, but Rother reveals there's more to the story...

"I got a girl, hung herself in the guest house."

The call came on the morning of July 13, 2011, from the historic Spreckels Mansion, a lavish beachfront property in Coronado, California, owned by pharmaceutical tycoon and multimillionaire Jonah Shacknai. When authorities arrived, they found the naked body of Jonah's girlfriend, Rebecca Zahau, gagged, her ankles tied and her wrists bound behind her. Jonah's brother, Adam, claimed to have found Rebecca hanging by a rope from the second-floor balcony. On a bedroom door in black paint were the cryptic words: SHE SAVED HIM CAN YOU SAVE HER.

Was this scrawled message a suicide note or a killer's taunt? Rebecca's death came two days after Jonah's six-year-old son, Max, took a devastating fall while in Rebecca's care. Authorities deemed Rebecca's death a suicide resulting from her guilt. But who would stage either a suicide or a murder in such a bizarre, elaborate way?

Award-winning investigative journalist Caitlin Rother weaves stunning new details into a personal yet objective examination of the sensational case. She explores its many layers-including the civil suit in which a jury found Adam Shacknai responsible for Rebecca's death, and the San Diego County Sheriff's Department bombshell decision to reconfirm its original findings. As compelling as it is troubling, this controversial real-life mystery is a classic American tragedy that evokes the same haunting fascination as the JonBenet Ramsey and O.J. Simpson cases. 

Book Trailer:

My Book Review:

In her latest novel, Death On Ocean Boulevard, investigative journalist / author Caitlin Rother takes the reader behind the scenes of a riveting true crime story for an in depth look at a highly publicized mystery death case set in picturesque Coronado, California.

On July 13, 2011, thirty-two year old Rebecca Zahau's naked body was found bound, gagged, and hanging from the second-story balcony of her multimillionaire boyfriend, Jonah Shacknai's San Diego mansion by his brother, Adam Shacknai. What ensues is an intricate and multi-layered story of Rebecca's mysterious death, an inept investigative process, and the ongoing suicide-murder debate that continues to befuddle the public for the past ten years since her death. 

Death On Ocean Boulevard is a riveting story that easily draws the reader in from the start, keeping them captivated as the author weaves a thoroughly intriguing and intricate recounting of a highly publicized true crime case. I remember seeing this case profiled on the NBC Dateline investigative / mystery show, so when I saw that the author was writing an in depth true crime novel based on this case, it peaked my interest and I knew that I had to read it.

You can't help but get drawn into this complicated, fascinating, and multi-layered story, it is a gripping account into the mysterious death of Rebecca Zahau, and whether her death was a suicide or a murder. The author provides the reader with a fascinating and richly detailed and in depth look into the back stories and lives of each participant; an extensive research of the shoddy investigative, legal and financial aspects of the case. 

After an extensive and determined investigation into this case, the reader follows the author's accounting of a haunting tale of one woman's tragic and senseless death, and the ongoing pursuit of her family to change the cause of death from suicide to undetermined, with the hope to reopen the investigation focused on a criminal case. In addition, the reader is also provided with information of Jonah Shacknai's six year old son Max's tragic accidental death while under the care of Rebecca two days before Rebecca's death, and the speculation that both deaths are either a coincidence or could be connected. 

The author provides an impartial account of the mysterious death, while leaving it up to the reader to form their own opinion on whether Rebecca's death was a suicide or a murder. After reading both sides of the suicide-murder debate, I found myself waffling back and forth on this debate, and I fear that this conundrum will never be resolved. 

I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I loved the author's vivid description of Coronado's history, and the landmarks on this picturesque peninsula locale along the San Diego Bay. 

Death On Ocean Boulevard is a gripping and haunting account of a tragic and mysterious death that is a must read for all true crime fans.


About The Author

New York Times bestselling author Caitlin Rother has written or co-authored 14 books, ranging from narrative non-fiction crime to mystery and memoir. Her newest book is DEATH ON OCEAN BOULEVARD: Inside the Coronado Mansion Case (April 27, 2021). Her backlist includes HUNTING CHARLES MANSON; SECRETS, LIES, AND SHOELACES; LOVE GONE WRONG; DEAD RECKONING; THEN NO ONE CAN HAVE HER; I'LL TAKE CARE OF YOU; NAKED ADDICTION; POISONED LOVE; BODY PARTS; TWISTED TRIANGLE; LOST GIRLS; WHERE HOPE BEGINS and MY LIFE, DELETED

A Pulitzer Prize nominee, Rother worked as an investigative reporter at daily newspapers for 19 years before quitting the news biz in 2006 to write books full-time. Her journalism has been published in Cosmopolitan, the Los Angeles Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and The Daily Beast. She has done more than 200 appearances as a crime commentator on TV, radio and podcasts, ranging from "20/20," "People Magazine Investigates," "Nancy Grace," and "Crime Watch Daily," to shows on HLN, Oxygen Network, Investigation Discovery, C-SPAN, XM Radio and PBS affiliates. She also works as a writing-research-promotions coach and consultant.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Night Fall by Nancy Mehl (VBT: Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Night Fall by author Nancy Mehl!

Night Fall by Nancy Mehl
Book 1: The Quantico Files Series
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Publication Date: March 30, 2021
Format: Hardcover - 329 pages
               Paperback: 336 pages
               Audiobook: 9 Hours 25 Minutes
               Kindle: 4261 KB / 333 pages
               Nook: 3 MB / 336 pages
ISBN (HC): 978-0764238185
ISBN (PB): 978-0764237638
ASIN (Audiobook): B08ZGG7LSL
ASIN (Kindle): B08CJ7TP4N
BNID: 978-1493429899
Genre: Suspense

Buy The Book:

Buy The Series: The Quantico Files Series
Book 1: Night Fall
Book 2: Dead Fall (Publication Date: November 2, 2021)

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours. 

Book Description:

Now that Alexandra “Alex” Donavan is finally free of her troubled upbringing, she’s able to live out her childhood dream of working for the FBI. But soon after she becomes a member of the FBI’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit, authorities in Kansas and Missouri contact them about bodies found on freight trains traveling across the country–all killed in the same way.

Alex never expected to be forced to confront her past in this new job, but she immediately recognizes the graffiti messages the killer is leaving on the train cars. When the BAU sends her to gather information about the messages from her aunt in Wichita, Kansas, Alex is haunted by the struggles she thought she’d left behind forever.

In a race against time to solve the case while battling her own weaknesses, Alex must face how far she’ll go–and what she’s willing to risk–to put a stop to the Train Killer.

Book Excerpt:

Four murders. Only a week or two between each one, and they all look random. Nothing about the victims is similar—as if our UNSUB is selecting whoever is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Three men, one woman. Two Caucasian, one Black, and one Hispanic. Three of them younger, one in his seventies. All the bodies were discovered on trains and were stabbed multiple times.”

They could hear him take a deep breath before going on. “Unusual tags on the outside of the boxcars. Something like Bible verses, but we’ve searched several Bible apps to find them, and they’re not in any version we could locate. We’re not sure what the UNSUB is trying to tell us. He signed his work, but we have no idea what the initials TM mean. His name? Or something else?”

There was a slight pause. “I’m sending you some photos of the tags right now, along with everything else we’ve got, which isn’t much. We don’t have any real evidence. This guy is careful . . . and smart. At this point, we’re not in charge. He is. Have your team look over this information before they get here, okay? I’ll expect them at the command post in the morning. We’re setting it up now. Does that work for you?”

“They’ll be there, Stephen. Talk to you soon.”

The call done, Jeff turned on his laptop and pulled up the information Barstow had just emailed. He sent the file to a large screen on the wall and began slowly clicking through the photos.

In mere seconds, Alex felt like all the blood in her body had frozen, as if time itself had come to a halt. Her mind couldn’t seem to process what she was seeing.

How could this be happening?


Excerpt from Night Fall by Nancy Mehl. Copyright 2021 by Bethany House Publishers. Reproduced with permission from Bethany House Publishers. All rights reserved.

My Book Review:

In Night Fall, the first book in The Quantico Files Series, author Nancy Mehl transports the reader to Kansas City and Wichita for an intriguing suspense story that will keep the reader guessing and turning the pages.

Author Nancy Mehl weaves a slow-building and suspenseful tale written in the third person narrative that follows FBI Special Agents Alex Donovan and Logan Hart on their investigative mission to find a serial killer who calls himself The Train Man after an eery nursery rhyme, and who is determined to fulfill a prophesy on the world by releasing a strain of the Ebola virus airborne that would make Covid-19, H1N1, and MRSA look like mild colds. Alex and Logan are part of an elite team who are determined to bring the killer to justice before the prophesy of releasing the virus airborne is fulfilled and spreads out into the world.

I loved reading this slow-building and action-packed story. Alex and Logan kept me intrigued as their investigation takes on a dangerous cat-n-mouse game with a psychotic killer who is determined to fulfill the deadly prophecy. The reader will be easily drawn into this well written story that alternates between Alex and Logan's investigation, with that of the killer's clever and well thought out plan to fulfill the prophecy, it's a race against time that is like a game of chess. 

The story's richly descriptive plot will keep the readers guessing as secrets, possible motives, and clues are uncovered during the investigation. And to add to the intensity of the cat-n-mouse game, Alex's traumatic past is brought to the surface, and she struggles to keep her PTSD in control as it is intertwined with the killer's shared upbringing and plan of destruction. The reader will definitely be kept guessing, as the chilling twists and turns and surprising conclusion will leave them simply stunned. I look forward to reading Dead Fall, the second book in The Quantico Files Series.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention how eerie this story is considering what our world has been going through with the Covid-19 pandemic. While the story was written possibly before and during this pandemic, it does make you wonder what if ... hmmm ... 

Night Fall has enough drama, tension, action, dark secrets, and unexpected twists and turns that will take the reader on one heck of a thrilling roller coaster ride.


About The Author

Nancy Mehl is the author of more than 40 books and a Christy Award and Carol Award finalist as well as the winner of an ACFW Book of the Year award. Her short story, Chasing Shadows, was in the USA Today bestselling Summer of Suspense anthology. Nancy writes from her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their puggle, Watson.

Contest Giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Nancy Mehl. There will be three (3) winners (U.S. addresses only) for this tour. ONE Grand Prize winner will receive: ONE (1) physical copy of Night Fall, ONE (1) $10 Gift Card; and ONE (1) physical book set of the Kaely Quinn Profiler series (including Mind Games, Fire Storm, and Dead End). Additionally, TWO (2) winners will each receive ONE (1) physical copy of Night Fall. The giveaway begins on April 19, 2021 and ends on May 2, 2021. Void where prohibited. 

Virtual Book Tour Event

Tour Participants:

04/19 Review @ The Book Review Crew

04/20 Review @ Geaux Get Lit

04/20 Review @ Savings in seconds

04/22 Review @ Nikki H. Roses Book Reviews

04/22 Review @ Splashes of Joy

04/23 Review @ Novels Alive

04/23 Review @ The Bookwyrm

04/24 Review @ Jane Pettit Reviews

04/25 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

04/26 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews

04/27 Review @ Kritters Ramblings

04/28 Review @ A Room Without Books is Empty

04/29 Review @ Nesies Place

04/30 Review @ Pat Fayo Reviews

04/30 Review @ Spookys Maze Of Books

Friday, April 23, 2021

The Deadening by Kerry Peresta (VBT: Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for The Deadening by author Kerry Peresta!

Book Review

The Deadening by Kerry Peresta
Book 1: Olivia Callahan Suspense Series
Publisher: Level Best Books 
Publication Date: February 23, 2021
Format: Paperback - 310 pages
               Kindle - 3893 KB 
               Nook - 7 MB
ISBN: 978-1953789358
BNID: 978-1953789365
Genre: Psychological Suspense

Buy The Book:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via Net Galley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours.

Book Description:

Olivia Callahan's quiet, orderly life is shattered when she regains consciousness in a hospital and discovers she is paralyzed and cannot remember a thing. The fragmented voices she hears around her help her piece together that an apparent assault landed her in the hospital, but nobody knows who attacked her, or why.

Now, in spite of a brain injury that has rewired her personality, Olivia is on a mission to reclaim her life. As clarity surfaces, and she starts to understand who she was, she is shocked.

Could she really have been that person?

And if so, does she want her old life back?


“A gripping read populated by likable characters. Peresta draws us into a colorful detailed world and makes us care what happens to the people living in it. We root for Olivia as she struggles to regain her memory, her bearings, and the identity she lost long before her injury. Excellent!”
– Susan Crawford, Internationally bestselling author of The Pocket Wife and The Other Widow.

“The Deadening is a captivating psychological suspense novel that will have you holding your breath with each turn of the page. Peresta has created a world chock-full of characters who are dynamic and unforgettable, for better or worse. Hold onto your seat.”
– Clay Stafford, bestselling author and founder of Killer Nashville Writers’ Conference

Book Excerpt:


The stiff bristles of the brush grew coppery as he scrubbed back and forth, back and forth. Wrinkling his nose at the smell, he groped for the mask he’d bought, looped it over his head, and snugged it into place.

He dipped the brush in the red-tinged solution in a blue, plastic bowl beside him on the floor, and continued scrubbing. Fifteen minutes later, he emptied the bowl down the toilet and shoved everything he’d used into a trash bag. He fought to staunch the bile creeping up his windpipe, but his throat constricted and he gagged. After retching into the sink, he turned on the faucet and splashed water on his face. Paused to take deep breaths. He could do this. He had to do this. He gripped the edge of the counter and stared out the bathroom window.

She’d not told anyone. Thank God for that. No one could know. No one would ever know. He’d make sure.

He walked to his garage, opened his car trunk, tossed in the latest trash bag. His hands felt icy. He rubbed them together, wiggled his fingers, and slammed the trunk shut.

Admittedly, her terror had excited him. Confusion. Dawning realization in her expression. His lips curved upward into a smile, then disintegrated. Reliving it didn’t change anything. He needed to move forward.

He returned and studied the carpet. In spite of his efforts, the stain still needed work. He cursed, dropped to his knees, and pounded the dampness with a fist.

Through a veil of fatigue, he watched in horror as the kidney-shaped stain stood and pointed an accusatory finger at him. He blinked, hard. Was he hallucinating? How long had he been without sleep? He crabbed backwards, leaned against the wall, pulled his knees to his chest and squeezed his eyes shut. When he opened them some moments later, the blood-apparition had disappeared.

He groaned.

He stared at the ceiling until his brain spit out a solution.

The problem lay in the other room. That’s how he looked at her now.

A problem to solve.

He rose from the floor and walked out.

His eyes slid from her pale face, down her form, to her feet. He no longer thought of her as warm, soft, desirable. She had been so scared…eyes wide and unblinking as she fell. He shook his head and pushed the image away.

Nesting her in towels so her blood wouldn’t pool on the couch, her bronze-sandaled feet with their shiny, pink toenails hung over the edge. He looked away. “Get a grip, man. Just do it.”

The towels fell away when he picked her up. He wound them back around her, careful to tuck in the edges. His heartbeat slammed his ribs.

She was fragile, a little bit of a thing, like a bird. He drew his index finger across her lips. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “If you had just…if you had only…” His voice trailed away. Jaw clenched, he carried her to his car.

Chapter One

Nathan ambled along sidewalks that wound through the manicured hospital grounds, fishing in his pocket for a lighter. He lit the cigarette dangling from his lips and inhaled deeply, his smile saturated with nicotine’s unholy bliss.

“Thank God,” he mumbled around the cigarette, and withdrew it from his lips, stretching. He glanced over his shoulder at the brightly lit ER entrance to Mercy Hospital, rubbing his neck. He rolled his shoulders, inhaled several deep drags from the cigarette, dropped it, and ground it beneath his shoe. “These night shifts are killing me.” He groaned and gazed at the sky. Clouds hid a full moon. He’d been grateful to get the med tech job, but after two months of bodily fluid testing and storage, he was bored. He needed a challenge.

Nathan followed his typical route through the hedged lawn, almost on auto-pilot, so when he stumbled and sprawled onto the grass face-first, he was stunned. What had tripped him? Cursing softly, he explored his cheeks, nose, forehead. No damage done that he could tell. “Klutz,” he berated himself, pushing up to hands and knees.

Something soft and warm lay beneath his palms. His breathing sped up. He looked down, but it was too dark to see. Trembling, his fingers inched their way to lips, nose, eyes, stiff knots of hair. His mouth dropped in horror. The clouds obligingly slid off the moon and revealed a woman’s body, her hair blood-matted, her face ghostly white. The grass around her head was rusty with blood. He edged his head toward her lips to check her breathing. Shallow, but at least she was alive.

He scrambled to his feet, fighting nausea and staring at his palms, sticky with the woman’s blood. Shrieking for help, he raced into the hospital and skidded to a stop in front of the desk. The ER nurses behind the reception desk squinted at him like he was deranged.

“Possible head injury!” He flailed an arm at the entrance. “Someone, anyone, come quick!”

A male nurse and two aides followed him outside, shoes pounding the sidewalk at full gallop. The tech stopped, turned, and signaled them to tread carefully as they parted ways with the sidewalk and navigated the shrubbery in the dark. Single file, panting, they tiptoed through the shadows until the tech raised a palm for them to stop.

“Here,” he hissed at the nurse, and held a point like a bird dog.

The nurse dropped to the ground and clicked a flashlight on. “Ohmigosh,” he whispered. He lifted the woman’s thin, pale wrist and glanced at his watch. Satisfied that she had a pulse, he slapped the flashlight into Nathan’s bloodied palm. “Stay with her!” He rushed inside.

Within minutes, looky-loos poured from the ER and clustered around the limp form.

“Move back!” Nathan stretched out his arms like a cop directing traffic. “She’s barely breathing!” His glanced nervously at the ER entrance.

The crowd didn’t yield an inch. The ER doors whooshed open. A stretcher clattered down the sidewalk and onto the dew-damp grass. Chills shivered up the tech’s spine as the ashen pallor of death climbed from the woman’s neck to her face. He dropped to the ground and picked up her hand. The paramedic team drew closer, their flashlights piercing the darkness with slivers of light. The crowd eased apart to let them through.

Nathan bent closer to the woman, and whispered, “Hang in there. Help is on the way.”

The stretcher slid to a stop beside him. The paramedics dropped to their knees, stabilized the woman’s head with a brace, staunched the bleeding, and wrapped the wound. They eased her onto the stretcher and rumbled away. The aides shared nervous smiles of relief. They looked at Nathan, then followed the paramedic team back inside.

Nathan, his heartbeat finally slowing, called, “Thanks for the assist, guys!” as they walked away.

The crowd dispersed with curious glances at Nathan, who watched until the group disappeared behind the ER’s double glass doors. He heaved a sigh of relief and swiped perspiration off his forehead. He patted his scrubs pocket for a cigarette, reconsidered, and trotted toward the ER entrance.

After the automatic doors parted, he jogged past two closed-door exam rooms and paused at a third, wide open. He looked inside.

The paramedics shared their observations with the ER doctor on call as he deftly explored the woman’s wounds. When he finished, he nodded, barked instructions, and pointed at the bed. In seconds, the woman’s transfer from stretcher to bed was complete. One of the nurses whisked a blood pressure cuff around her arm. Another hooked an IV bag to a chrome stand, pierced the skin on the back of the woman’s hand, slid in a needle, and taped it down.

The tech stepped back from the door to allow the paramedics to exit. Holding his breath, he stole into the room and crept past a floor-to-ceiling supply cabinet. He planted both palms onto the smooth, white walls behind him and inched sideways, melting into the corner next to a shelf holding tongue depressors, a box of plastic gloves, and a sanitizer dispenser.

“Pulse one-fifteen.” The nurse studied the blood pressure cuff. “Blood pressure eight-five over fifty.”

“Need a trach,” the doctor barked. “She’s bleeding out. Get some O neg in here.”

A blur of motion, two nurses and the ER doctor huddled around the woman’s body. When they stepped back, a laryngoscope, an endotracheal tube, and four sticky electric nodes leading to a cardiac monitor had been secured.

The medical team stilled, their eyes riveted to the monitors. The nurses wore sage green scrubs. Both had pink stethoscopes around their necks. The ER doctor had on a crisp, white jacket with his name scripted in black on the pocket. Nathan fidgeted and stuck his head out from the corner a little to focus on the screens.

The readings sputtered, stalled, plummeted.

“Code Blue!” The doctor spun around. A nurse jumped to the wall and slapped a flat, white square on the wall.

“Code Blue!” echoed through the ER’s intercom system. Frantic footsteps in the hall. Shouted instructions. Clanging metal. Squealing wheels. Nathan squeezed farther into the corner as the cart bearing life-saving electronic shock equipment exploded through the door.

“Brain must be swelling,” the doctor mumbled. He grabbed two paddles and swiped them together. “Clear!”

The woman’s body jolted. The doctor’s head jerked to the cardiac monitor. Flat.

“Clear!” He placed the paddles on the woman’s chest.

Her frail torso arced. The machine blipped an erratic cadence, then droned a steady hum.

The doctor cursed. “Clear!”

Another jolt. The monitor surged, sagged, then settled into a reassuring metronome blip. Tense faces relaxed. Applause spattered around the room.

The doctor blew out a long breath. “Okay, people, good job.” He smiled.

Within minutes, more lines snaked from the woman’s form. An orogastric tube drooped from the corner of her mouth, behind the intubation tube. A lead to measure brain waves clung to her forehead. The doctor studied each monitor in turn. Nathan let out the breath he’d been holding, slid down the wall into a crouch, and balanced on the balls of his feet.

“Any additional instructions, Doctor Bradford?” Brows raised, the nurse waited.

He rubbed his head thoughtfully. “Think she’s stable for now. CAT scan already ordered?”

She nodded. “Of course.”

“Tell them to expedite.” He cocked his head at the woman. “May be a long night. Watch her closely.” The doctor strode to the door, paused, and turned. He glanced at the tech huddled in the corner. “Good job, son.”

Nathan grinned and rose from his crouch, his chest puffed out a little. He’d never saved a life before. After a sympathetic glance at Mercy Hospital’s latest Jane Doe, he returned to the lab.


Excerpt from The Deadening by Kerry Peresta. Copyright 2021 by Kerry Peresta. Reproduced with permission from Kerry Peresta. All rights reserved.

My Book Review:

In The Deadening, the first book in the Olivia Callahan Suspense Series, author Kerry Peresta weaves a suspenseful tale that follows the challenges that Olivia Callahan faces as she puts the pieces of her life back together after a traumatic assault.

Olivia is found with a serious head injury by a med tech on the grounds of Mercy Hospital in Richmond, Virginia. Comatose, blind, with a traumatic brain injury, and paralyzed, Olivia doesn't have any identification on her, and is classified as a Jane Doe, until her nurse sees a missing person report on the television six days later. Olivia is considered Mercy's Miracle when she regains consciousness and begins the journey of recovering, but she doesn't have any memory of her past. Olivia is determined to reclaim her life, but as her memories return via triggers that prompt flashbacks, Olivia is surprised by the way she had lived in the past, and with the help of Richmond Detective Hunter Faraday, they are determined to find the person behind the assault, and deal with the tangled web of deceit from her past that surfaces along the way. 

Author Kerry Peresta weaves an intriguing and suspenseful tale set in the alternating locales of Richmond, Virginia, and Glyndon, Maryland, that follows Olivia Callahan on her quest to reclaim her life after a vicious assault left her with a traumatic brain injury, and no memory of her past. You can't help but get drawn into Olivia's story as she gives a realistic depiction of the challenges she faced as she puts her life back together. 

Told in the present time and interwoven with flashbacks to her past, the reader gets to know Olivia as her memories return via triggers. Olivia is no longer the person she used to be, and with the help of Detective Faraday, she wants to find the person who caused the assault, and move on with her life. 

The story has a great mixture of drama and suspense that keeps the reader engaged and guessing what will become of Olivia's quest to reclaim her life, and how she resolves the tangled web of deceit from her past. Olivia's journey is filled with grit, emotions, family drama, deceit, heartbreak, and realistic trials and tribulations, you can't help but cheer Olivia on as she discovers what person she wants to be going forward. I look forward to reading the next book in the Olivia Callahan Suspense Series

The Deadening is a riveting and suspenseful story that you won't be able to put down.


About The Author

Kerry Peresta’s publishing credits include a popular newspaper column, “The Lighter Side,” 2009-2011; and magazine articles in Local Life Magazine, The Bluffton Breeze, Lady Lowcountry, and Island Events Magazine. She is the author of two novels, The Hunting, women’s fiction, released by Pen-L Publishing in 2013, and The Deadening, released in February, 2021 by Level Best Books, the first in the Olivia Callahan Suspense series. She spent twenty-five years in advertising as an account manager, creative director, and copywriter. She is past chapter president of the Maryland Writers’ Association and a current member and presenter of Hilton Head Island Writers’ Network, and the Sisters in Crime organization. Recently, she worked as editor and contributor for Island Communications, a local publishing house. Kerry and her husband moved to Hilton Head six years ago. She is the mother of four adult children, and has a bunch of wonderful grandkids who keep life interesting and remind her what life is all about.

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Kerry Peresta. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Gift Card. The giveaway begins on April 1, 2021 and runs through May 2, 2021. Void where prohibited. 

Virtual Book Tour 

Tour Participants:

04/01 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

04/02 Guest post @ Novels Alive

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04/04 Interview @ Author Elena Taylors Blog

04/05 Guest post @ Books, Ramblings, and Tea

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04/06 Review @ Margaret Yelton

04/07 Review @ nanasbookreviews

04/08 Review @ Wall-to-wall Books

04/09 Interview @ CMash Reads

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04/14 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews

04/15 Interview/podcast @ Blogtalk radio

04/15 Review @ Just Reviews

04/15 Review @ Novels Alive

04/16 Guest post @ Nesies Place

04/17 Review @ Cheryls Book Nook

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04/26 Review @ The Book Review Crew

04/27 Review @ Spookys Maze Of Books

04/29 Review/showcase @ The Bookwyrm