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.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Dark Money by Larry Thompson (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Partners In Crime Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Dark Money by author Larry Thompson!

Author Guest Post


I started writing novels about ten or twelve years ago, but I had been a reader of fiction for fifty years before that. When I began writing, I knew I wanted action and dialogue with plenty of room for the reader to use his or her imagination. I called my style “Old Time Radio Drama Writing.” If you ever listened to The Lone Ranger, The Green Hornet, Sky King, Fibber McGee and Molly or Amos and Andy, just to name a few, you know what I’m talking about.

If a door slammed, you knew that someone was entering or, maybe leaving. If it creaked, you guessed something ominous was about to happen. Horses’ hoofs could grow louder or softer, depending on whether the rider was coming or going. The sound of a propeller meant Sky King was about to land or take off. And when the listener heard Molly shout, “Fibber, don’t open that door!” you knew the sound of a closet packed full of junk was about to erupt. The listener heard these sounds and the dialogue and had the privilege of filling in the description of the characters, how they moved, how they reacted to one another with nothing more than imagination. I might have pictured a bad guy drawing down on The Lone Ranger as short and squatty with a four day beard, and even smelling as if he needed to take a bath. My brother could picture him in a suit and string tie with a devilish moustache. Each to his own. But we knew that when he drew on The Lone Ranger, his days on earth were numbered.

So, when I began to write, I wanted the reader to know my characters by what they said and did. Let them use their imagination. For example, in THE INSANITY PLEA, my protagonist, Wayne Little is six feet, four inches with black hair and gray eyes. That’s all the reader knows until he talks and reacts to events. His best friend is Duke Romack, a criminal lawyer who was at one time an NBA forward. Again, the reader has the pleasure of filling in a description. In fact, while the reader would know he is tall since he was a forward and might assume he’s black, that is not even clear until Wayne and Duke have good-natured exchanges about their races (“Wayne, ain’t I your black brother?”).

That’s how I chose to write and still do to this day. What I didn’t know was that Elmore Leonard, the great writer of Westerns and crime novels had summarized this style in his “Ten Rules of Writing.” I suppose that I had read a couple of Leonard’s books over the years, but I couldn’t have named them. Then I stumbled across his rules. I could have memorized them, but intuitively I already knew them by heart, except for maybe the last one (which I will explain shortly) What follows are a few of his rules and my commentary:

     Never open a book with the weather. Certainly, I agree with that. As Leonard says, the reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people. In fact, I would carry that rule a little further. Why even bother to talk about the weather unless it impacts on what the characters are doing?

     Avoid prologues. I disagree with this one. I have used prologues in several of my stories. In my current one, DARK MONEY, I open with a prologue from twenty years before the present to show how Jack Bryant and Walt Frazier met and bonded for life. I also had a prologue in THE INSANITY PLEA. In retrospect, I could just as easily called it Chapter One.

     Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue. Leonard’s advice is that said is far less intrusive than grumbled, cautioned, gasped or lied. I agree, although I reserve the right to use different verbs to carry dialogue from time to time.

     Never use and adverb to modify the verb “said.” I couldn’t agree more.

     Keep your exclamation points under control. Leonard says no more than two or three per 100,000 words. I generally agree, but I might stretch is to four or five.

     Avoid detailed descriptions of characters. Leonard uses Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” and asks what do the “American and the girl with him” look like? “She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.” That’s the only reference to a physical description in the story and yet we see the couple and know them by their tones of voice, with not one adverb in sight. My hat is off to Elmore.

      Don’t go into great detail describing places and things. Personally, I don’t want to waste time to read about a character entering a room, and there are paragraphs describing the carpet, the chairs and desk, the photos and diplomas on the walls and the doodads on the desk. I would just write, “It was a tastefully done home office.” The reader can fill in the blanks.

     Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. This one is my favorite. Leonard says that readers will skip thick paragraphs of prose when the reader can see that they have too many words in them. He continues, “What the writer is doing, he’s writing, perpetrating the hooptedoodle, perhaps taking another shot at the weather, or has gone into the character’s head, and the reader either knows what the guy’s thinking or doesn’t care. I’ll bet you don’t skip dialogue.”

And Leonard’s summation is equally as important: “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”

I never met you, Elmore, but thanks for your words of wisdom. They make me a far better writer.

About The Author

Larry D. Thompson is a veteran trial lawyer and has drawn on decades of experience in the courtroom to produce riveting legal thrillers. Dead Peasants is his third novel after graduating from the University of Texas School of Law, Thompson founded the Houston trial firm where he still serves as managing partner. The proud father of three grown children, he lives and works in Texas but spends his summers in Colorado, where he crafts his novels and hikes the mountains surrounding Vail. His greatest inspiration came from Thomas Thompson, his brother, who wrote many best-selling true-crime books and novels.

Author Website

Book Review

Dark Money by Larry D. Thompson
Book 2: A Jackson Bryant Legal Thriller Series
Publisher: Story Merchant Books
Publication Date: December 8, 2015
Format: Paperback - 430 pages
               Kindle - 1088 KB
ISBN: 978-0996990806
ASIN: B008VA736K
Genre: Legal Thriller / Mystery / Suspense

Buy The Book: 

Buy The Series: A Jackson Bryant Legal Thriller Series
Book 1: Dead Peasants 
Book 2: Dark Money

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:

Jackson Bryant, the millionaire plaintiff lawyer who turned to pro bono work in Dead Peasants, is caught up in the collision of money and politics when he receives a call from his old army buddy Walt Frazier. Walt needs his assistance in evaluating security for Texas Governor Rob Lardner at a Halloween costume fundraiser thrown by one of the nation's richest Republican billionaires at his mansion in Fort Worth.

Miriam Van Zandt is the best marksman among The Alamo Defenders, an anti-government militia group in West Texas. She attends the fundraiser dressed as a cat burglar--wounds the governor and murders the host's brother, another Republican billionaire. She is shot in the leg but manages to escape.

Jack is appointed special prosecutor and must call on the Texas DPS SWAT team to track Van Zandt and attack The Alamo Defenders' compound in a lonely part of West Texas. Van Zandt's father, founder of the Defenders, is killed in the attack and Miriam is left in a coma. The authorities declare victory and close the case-but Jack knows better. The person behind the Halloween massacre has yet to be caught. When Walt and the protective detail are sued by the fundraiser host and the widow of the dead man, Jack follows the dark money of political contributions from the Cayman Islands to Washington to Eastern Europe, New York and New Orleans to track the real killer and absolve his friend and the Protective Detail of responsibility for the massacre.

Dark Money is a thriller, a mystery and an expose of the corruption of money in politics caused by the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United.

Book Excerpt:

The convoy of three troop trucks made its way through the northeastern part of Saudi Arabia on their way to join up with other American troops in Dhahran. Jack Bryant, a lawyer from Texas who was called up from his practice in Beaumont, was riding shotgun in the front truck. He was a sergeant and the senior NCO in the convoy. They passed through several villages deserted or nearly so out of fear of the rapidly moving Iraq army. The convoy approached another village, apparently abandoned, when Jack raised his hand.

“Stop. I saw a glint of metal in a balcony about a hundred yards ahead on the right, and then it disappeared. I’m getting out my side and will use the door as a shield. Open your door as quietly as possible. Go back to the men and tell them to maintain complete silence. I don’t even want to hear the click of a cigarette lighter until I signal.”

Seconds turned into minutes. Jack continued to focus on the balcony. After twenty minutes the driver was thinking that his sergeant must have been imagining something when a head slowly surfaced above the wall on the balcony. Jack waited until he could see the mouth and fired one round, striking the Iraq sniper directly between the eyes. The enemy soldier dropped from sight.
Bryant climbed back into his seat and told his driver they could now move out.

“You sure, Sarge? Could be you only wounded him.”

“Trust me. I don’t miss from this distance. He’s dead. Let’s get going. I hope we’ll still have a little light when we get to the barracks.”

My Book Review:

After a successful career as a trial attorney, Jack Bryant retires to his hometown of Fort Worth and opens up a pro bono practice out of a motorhome. He expects to help poor people with their legal issues, but nothing prepares him for what happens when The Alamo Defenders, a West Texas anti-government militia group wages a murderous attack at a Halloween themed political fundraiser event. Jack's ensuing investigation exposes the wide corruption of money in politics that will put Jack in a great deal of danger.

Dark Money is a riveting legal thriller that will captivate the reader from the start, and keep them sitting on the edge of their seat until the surprising conclusion. Author Larry D. Thompson utilizes his extensive professional experience as a trial attorney to weave a gritty tale written in the third person narrative that follows attorney Jack Bryant when he is appointed special prosecutor after a deadly attack at a political fundraising event by a West Texas anti-government militia group opens up a huge can of worms as he investigates and uncovers the accumulation of  "dark money" (large political donations set up in a special fund governed under Section 501 (c) (4) of the Revenue Code via the US Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, while exposing the widespread corruption in politics.

This fast paced, action filled legal thriller easily engages the reader with a mixture of murder plots, investigative twists and turns, suspense and riveting courtroom drama. In reading Dark Money, the reader is transported into the middle of this gripping tale where they will learn about chilling true-to-life corruption in politics that is simply mind-numbing and will give them goosebumps.

With an intriguing cast of characters; witty dialogue; dramatic interactions; and a complex storyline that has just enough courtroom drama to satisfy legal eagles, while providing plenty of corruption, politics, murder and mystery that will easily keep the reader in suspense until the final piece of the puzzle clicks into place in a surprising ending; Dark Money is a thoroughly powerful, compelling, and chilling legal thriller that you won't be able to put down!


Contest Giveaway

Win A $15 Amazon Gift Card

There is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Larry D. Thompson. There will be 1 winner of 1 $15 US Gift card. The giveaway begins on Jan 24 and runs through Feb 29, 2016. 

Virtual Book Tour Event

Tour Schedule:

1/25 - Just Reviews - Review
1/26 - Brooke Blogs - Guest Post
1/26 - Writers and Authors - Interview
1/26 - Book Reviews From an Avid Reader - Review
1/27 - The Book Diva's Reads - Showcase
1/31 - Mythical Books - Interview & Showcase
2/3 - Romance Under Fire - Review
2/3 - Kim's Bookish Place - Review
2/4 - 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & sissy, Too! - Review
2/8 - FictionZeal - Showcase
2/13 - Hott Books - Interview
2/15 - Mystery Susupense Reviews - Guest Post
2/16 - Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine - Review
2/29 - Jersey Girl Book Reviews - Guest Post & Review

Cowboy, Mine Boxed Set (Book Review)

In association with The Book Garden PR, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host a book review promo for Cowboy, Mine Boxed Set!

Cowboy, Mine Boxed Set by Kathleen Ball, Krista Ames, Cheryl Gorman, Melissa Keir, Lyssa Layne, D'Ann Lindun
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: October 15, 2015
Format: Paperback - 824 pages
               Kindle - 1286 KB
ISBN: 978-1518613814
Genre: Contemporary Western Romance

Buy The Boxed Set:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the boxed set from the authors in exchange for my honest review and participation in a book review program hosted by The Book Garden PR.

Book Description;

Texas Haven by Kathleen Ball 

Can love shine through the clouds of treachery and misunderstanding?

Advertising for a wife seems like the answer to all of Burke Dawson's problems. He wants a wife and kids without emotional attachments, but he has no idea how much havoc one woman can cause.

Annie Douglas has her heart set on her hunky cowboy's love and she isn't about to stop until she gets it.

Take Me Home, Cowboy by Krista Ames

When tragedy strikes, will building tension and pride destroy a growing attraction or show them the way home?

Ally Kincaid returns to Rock Creek, Wyoming, to see her father after a two year absence. Anticipating a quiet family reunion, she finds herself butting heads with Matt Gentry—her father’s foreman—instead. The man’s arrogance and sexy drawl push all her buttons, making her wonder what he’s hiding beneath his cowboy swagger.

When tragedy strikes, will building tension and pride destroy their growing attraction or show them the way home?

Honeymoon Ranch by Cheryl Gorman 

Can two reluctant partners ride off into their own blissful sunset on Honeymoon Ranch?

When wedding planner, Summer Conroy, discovers she has inherited half of Silver Creek Ranch, she is stunned to learn the other half is owned by sexy cowboy, Bryce Jericho. Her idea of turning the ranch into an exclusive wedding and honeymoon destination is met with a wall of resistance from Bryce who doesn’t want his ranch ruined with a bunch of wedding nonsense. He is determined to conceal his vulnerable heart that beats in fear of being betrayed again. Will this woman with dreams of happily-ever-after in her eyes transform his fear into love everlasting?

Chalkboard Romance by Melissa Keir 

Will a One Night Stand prove to be their disaster or their salvation?

Lauren Walsh, a divorcee and elementary teacher, wants to feel sexy again after her ex tosses her aside for a younger woman. Her best friend encourages her to sign up for The Playhouse--a renowned dating agency. Forced to stay away from his young son, Mac Thomas lost the ability to trust. After the death of his wife, he returned to care for his son but his sister wants more for him. She sets him up with The Playhouse.

Passion ignites but Mac’s a parent of one of Lauren’s students. A teacher and a parent dating could cost Lauren her job and her chance at happiness. Will Mac be able to convince the school and Lauren, that love is the most important thing?

Until You Fall in Love by Lyssa Layne

Can a longtime friendship suddenly blossom into love?

Single mom Jordan Glastetter doesn't know how she'd survive without her best friend, Abram Tomko. He's the father her son never knew and he's the rock she's always leaned on.

When Abram's father suffers a heart attack, it's Abram's turn to depend on Jordan, finally seeing her as the woman she's become and not the little girl he grew up with.

Will they risk their friendship for a chance at love?

The Cowboy’s Baby by D’Ann Lindun

Cat wanted to keep her baby: Tanner insisted she give it up...can they find common ground seventeen years later?

Cat O’Brien left her heart in Granite, Colorado, seventeen years ago—her first love, Tanner Burke, and the baby girl she gave birth to at sixteen. Suddenly, both Tanner’s high school sweetheart and the teenage daughter they gave up for adoption are back in his life.

My Book Review:

Who could pass up a delightful contemporary western romance box set of six full length stories featuring hot cowboys?!

Since I enjoyed reading all six romance stories in the Cowboy, Mine Box Set, I decided to only provide a general book review instead of individual reviews.

Did I mention that this awesome western romance box set features strong, hot cowboys and sassy, independent women?!

Cowboy, Mine is an entertaining collection of western romances that has a well balanced mixture of romance and real life situations that will appeal to everyone. From sweet to hot and sexy cowboy romances; to friendship and second chances; to a variety of real life issues that the characters have to deal with: single parenthood, abuse, death, loss, grief, and addictions; the reader will experience the full gamut of emotions as each story unfolds.

In Cowboy, Mine, the authors weave an intriguing and thoroughly enjoyable unique full length set of romantic tales that have engaging characters and enough drama, humor, and romance that will easily draw the reader into each story, sweeping them away to the small frontier town ranch settings, while holding them captivated and leaving them breathless.


About The Authors

Krista Ames

Kathleen Ball

Cheryl Gorman

Melissa Keir

Lyssa Layne

D'Ann Lindun

Friday, February 26, 2016

In The Dark by Chris Patchell (Author Guest Post / 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 In The Dark by author Chris Patchell!

Author Guest Post

My mother is going to read this! 

I started my fiction writing career by penning status reports and product schedules for a tech company. Just kidding. I’ve always loved writing. I love the feeling of immersing myself in a world of my own creation. So burned out from my career, and with two busy kids in my life, I realized needed an outlet—something that was uniquely mine, and that’s why I started writing again.

As my husband will attest to, I’ve never been much for romance. I prefer the kind of story that grips you and keeps you reading way past the point where you know you’re neglecting the other things you should be doing—like cooking dinner, cleaning the kitchen, going to sleep. Whatever. You get the point.

Anyway, I came up with this story idea about a woman who had a secret life, and I started to write. And write. And write. Finally, when I finished writing the darned thing, I had this moment of absolute terror when I realized that if it all went the way it was supposed to, people were going to read the book. PEOPLE WERE ACTUALLY GOING TO READ THE BOOK. (Deep breath.) Friends and co-workers would all know what I’d written. And oh, dear God no, even my mother was going to read this book!

In his book, On Writing, Stephen King says that he always felt the need to apologize for the stuff he’d written and I know exactly how he felt. The day after I’d published Deadly Lies, I lay in bed with the covers over my head and wanted to stay there forever. Or at least a few weeks. I do have a day job after all.

Then came the dreaded first moment when I passed someone in the hallway…

“I read your book…” they said.

I cringed. “And… well… what did you think?”

Much to my surprise, people loved the book, and whether they liked the ending or not (I’ll admit, it was rather controversial), they connected with the characters and found the plot line compelling.

So with one book out and getting good reviews, you would think this sort of thing gets easier, right? Not so much. There I was completing the final round of edits on my latest book, In the Dark, when it all came rushing back again. That fear. The worry about what other people might think about the book. About me. There are some nasty characters and gritty scenes in the story. I’ll admit that I removed a few f-bombs from the last draft and promised myself that I’d swear less in the next one, but the desire to do even deeper edits to polish some of the grit and grime from the story was sorely tempting.

Because after all, my mother is going to read this book!

So there I was, index finger trembling above the backspace key, vibrating with fear, when I realized something fundamental. If I removed anything substantial from the story—deleted a plot line, changed a character, scrubbed the dialogue until it was squeaky clean, this would no longer be my story. It would be a pale reflection of the book I set out to write. And in doing so, not only would I shortchange my readers, I would be cheating myself too, because the story I told, and the way I told it was uniquely mine.

Maybe you like to put coconut in your peanut butter cookies, or you sing show tunes off key in the shower, or have dinner parties with well-dressed mannequins. Whatever it is that makes you uniquely you, embrace it. I swear I won’t sanitize the next book, and with any luck, I won’t be tempted to do anything that might dull my work ever again.

Yeah. My mother is going to read the book, and she’ll probably complain about the language, and I’ll tell her I learned all of those swear words from her. Then I’ll buy her a romance novel and get back to work on the next story because…

My name is Chris Patchell, and I write suspense novels. Sometimes my characters use bad language. Sometimes my characters do bad things. Deal with it. :)

About The Author

When Chris Patchell isn't hiking in the Cascade Mountains or hanging out with family and friends, she is working at her hi-tech job or writing gritty suspense novels. Writing has been a lifelong passion for Chris. She fell in love with storytelling in the third grade when her half-page creative writing assignment turned into a five-page story on vampires. Even back then Chris had a gift for writing intricate plots that were so good her father refused to believe she didn't steal them from comic books.

Years later, Chris spent long afternoons managing her own independent record store and writing romance novels. After closing the record store and going to college, Chris launched a successful career in hi-tech. She married, had kids but amid all the madness, the itch to write never really went away. So she started writing again. Not romance this time – suspense filled with drama, and angst, speckled with a little bit of blood.

Why suspense? Chris blames her obsession with the dark on two things: watching Stephen King movies as a kid and spending ridiculous amounts of time commuting in Seattle traffic. "My stories are based on scenarios I see every day, distorted through the fictional lens. And my stories come with the added bonus of not having to be restrained by socially acceptable behavior." Recipient of the 2015 Indie Reader Discovery Award for DEADLY LIES.

Author Website

Book Review

In The Dark by Chris Patchell
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: eBook - August 4, 2015 / Paperback - September 10, 2015
Format: Paperback - 478 pages / eBook 426 pages
               Kindle - 1573 KB
ISBN: 978-1514790069
Genre: Mystery / Suspense / Thriller

Buy The Book:

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

Book Description:

When the worst happens and her daughter goes missing, a mother will do anything to find her…

Marissa Rooney’s daughter, Brooke, has been missing for days. Her roommate hasn’t seen her since that night in the bar. Standing in the middle of her daughter’s dorm room with a half-used vial of insulin clenched in her hand, Marissa comes to the terrifying realization that if she has Brooke’s insulin, it means that Brooke does not.

The missing person’s investigation takes a sudden and deadly turn when the police discover the body of another college student who went missing a week before Brooke. Desperate to find her daughter, Marissa fears time is running out. But she isn’t alone in her terror. A phantom from Marissa’s past is lurking in the shadows, waiting in the night, and holding her family captive...

In the dark.

"An edge-of-your-seat suspense novel. It scared the hell out of me. Read it with the lights on!"–Robert Dugoni, Amazon #1 and New York Times bestselling author of My Sister's Grave.

Book Excerpt:

The heavy gate groaned shut. After engaging the lock, he pulled the backpack out of his Jeep and slung it over his shoulder. It was a rare fall day in the Pacific Northwest, and he planned to take full advantage of the good weather.
He had work to do.
He walked a quarter of a mile along the fence line and stopped. Then he pulled a “No Trespassing” sign from the pack and propped it against the fence. With a few sure strokes of a hammer, he nailed it to the post. The dull blows echoed in the quiet woods.
Branches and fallen leaves popped and crackled beneath his feet as he worked his way methodically along the ridge, checking the barbed wire fence for gaps. The cinnamon smell of the turning leaves was a sure sign that hunting season would soon begin, and he couldn’t afford to have strangers stumbling onto his property.
He nailed the last sign to the post.
There. That should keep the bastards out.
He turned and started down the rugged trail carved into the steep hillside. A couple of hundred feet below, the valley floor glimmered like an emerald in the late-day sun. Three cabins stood in the clearing beside the Tolt River. A half dozen more were scattered along the upper ridge, overlooking Lake Langlois.
The place had been a youth camp once, before the drowning of a teenage girl had destroyed its reputation. Afterward the camp had closed and the cabins had fallen into disrepair.
It was a shame, really. He had fond memories of the place. While his father had spent the summer basking in an alcoholic haze, he’d spent it exploring the woods, far away from his father’s violent mood swings. By any measure it was a win-win.
Dappled sunlight shone through the thick canopy of branches overhead. He loved days like this. Alone in the woods, he felt at peace with the world.
A scream rent the air, shattering the stillness of the afternoon.
It was shrill. Human.
Crows fled the safety of the trees, a torrent of black wings flooding the blue sky. Heart racing, he started to run. The uneven ground slid beneath his boots. Branches slapped at his face, and he ran faster, driven on by her panicked cries.
The valley floor was muddy after the long weeks of rain. The spongy earth slowed his pace as he raced toward the river.
Another scream. Louder.
“Help me. Oh God. Please.”
It was coming from the cabin farthest from the water’s edge.
His boots pounded up the wooden steps. Hinges squawked in protest as he crashed through the door.
The stench hit him hard—stale sweat and human waste. His stomach churned.
At first he could see nothing, his eyes blinded in the dim light. Then her slender form materialized out of the darkness—a slip of a girl, barely more than a hundred pounds. She was standing near the center of the room, her hands bound behind her back. A soiled University of Washington T-shirt hanging from her skinny frame. Pink panties. And nothing else.
The relief on her face froze the instant she spotted him. A small sob escaped her lips. She stepped back, retreating into the shadows.
As if she could hide.
“Now, Kim,” he said. “What was the rule?”
Her jaw worked, but no sound emerged. She took another pitiful step back, her wide eyes brimming with fear.
“What was the rule?”
His voice boomed in the small cabin. She flinched like a beaten dog.
“No calling out,” she mumbled.
“I can’t hear you. What’s the rule?”
“No calling out.”
“No calling out,” he repeated, smiling thinly. “That’s right. You leave me no choice.”
“Please,” she said, voice trembling, tears leaking from her eyes. “I’ll do better, I promise. I promise...”
He stepped toward her, his tread echoing on the bare plank floor. She shrank back, trembling, and stumbled over the bucket. Without her hands to stop her, she crashed to the floor.
He stopped. His six-foot frame loomed above her. She averted her gaze, looking anywhere but at him.
This will not do.
He hunkered down and gripped her narrow chin, forcing her gaze to meet his.
“Please,” she whispered.
Her mouth trembled.
“Aw, princess,” he said, running his thumb slowly across her swollen bottom lip. “I’m afraid it’s too late for that.”
He reached down and unbuckled his belt.

Chapter 1

There was something seriously fucked up about turning a mortuary into a bar, Drew Matthews thought as he walked through the heavy oak doors of the Chapel. While much of the original architecture of the 1920s building remained intact, the interior displayed the tumors of decades of evolving taste. There were a few recent growths, like the U-shaped bar in the center of the former embalming room. Lit up like a runway at Sea-Tac International Airport, it guided him in.
The drink menu read like the King James Bible, with parables about sins and martinis.
Arm propped against the bar, he ordered the Bruce Lee, a fast, tawny drink that howled like a banshee with fists of fury. It was named after the famous Seattle martial artist whose embalming had reportedly taken place in this very bar.
But there was nothing dead about the place now. Swarming schools of urban hipsters out for their Saturday-night fix swelled like dividing cells. So many desperate souls crowding the bar, looking for that elusive thing missing from their lives. Attention. Sex. Connection. Drew felt the pulsing need, so palpable he could almost taste it.
Tension rippled across his shoulders, into the base of his brain. If ever there was a night he’d felt like getting good and truly shitfaced, this was it. He knew he couldn’t give in to the impulse though. Meeting the friends was a rite of passage he must endure for his relationship with Alicia Wright to progress. And he had every intention of taking their relationship to the next level.
He’d already picked out a sparkly new ring.
A hand ran up his back and he turned. Alicia had dressed well for her starring role. A fitted white blouse hugged her athletic curves, the plunging neckline low enough to reveal a delectable view of her cleavage. A tight black miniskirt rode up her well-toned thighs. In highheeled boots, she was almost at eye level with Drew. He found the accumulated effect arousing.
Alicia leaned in close. He caught a whiff of her perfume. Dark. Floral. Orchids. Her ruby lips brushed his ear, sending sparks jangling along his taut nerve endings.
“Hey, look who finally decided to show up,” she said in a sexy, throaty murmur.
“Sorry, I had to work a little late. Came straight here.”
“Well, grab your drink and let’s go. Gretchen’s waiting.”
Drew raised a finger and drained his glass in a long swallow. Alicia raised her eyebrows.
“You okay?”
“I’ve got some catching up to do.”
So what if he was a little nervous? Who wouldn’t be? Alicia and her pack of prep-school friends had grown up in a different world. While their nannies had dropped them off at private schools and playdates, he’d watched cancer devour his mother and his father fall to pieces. What could they possibly know about being hungry enough to steal food, or hiding in the woods all night, afraid to come home because your father was a mean drunk? Or being left behind, abandoned by your evil stepmother?
Alicia grasped his hand and tugged him away from the bar. Drew followed her up a narrow staircase to a wide balcony overlooking the main floor. The speakers blared and the upper deck swarmed with life.
He definitely needed another drink.
Alicia threaded her way to the front of the platform, where she stopped. Her back to the railing, she looped an arm around the shoulders of a chubby girl.
“Drew, this is Gretchen Lange. We’ve been friends since we were kids.”
“What she means to say is that we’ve been BFFs since third grade,” Gretchen tittered.
Bright-blue eyes sparkled in her doughy white face. A ridiculous mass of strawberry blonde curls bounced and jiggled when she laughed.
Drew stretched out his hand.
“Gretchen, at last. Alicia’s told me so much about you.”
“Not too much, I hope.”
“She didn’t tell me you were so lovely,” he said.
She wasn’t really. Clad in a skintight floral dress, she looked like a gaudy pink hibiscus.
Smelled like one too. Up close, her perfume made his eyes water. But he knew the comment would score points with both women, so he said it anyway.
“Shame on you, Alicia, for keeping this one all to yourself.”
“She was afraid I’d embarrass her,” Drew said.
“You? Looking all James Bond? Not likely.”
“James Bond?” Drew asked, his lips stretching into a grin.
“Careful, Gretchen,” Alicia said. “You’ll only feed his ego, which is enormous, by the way.”
Drew’s mouth dropped open in mock incredulity.
“Don’t you believe a word of it,” he said, splaying a hand across his chest. “I’m the very embodiment of modesty.”
“Oh, I can see that,” Gretchen cried. “Modest and charming. A killer combination.”
Gretchen wasn’t very bright, but watching her was fun—in a train-wreck kind of way.
Alicia shook back the dark curtain of her glossy hair and leaned into him. The warm press of her body had him thinking more about the after-party than the festivities at hand, and he wished he could push the fast-forward button on the evening. Get to the part where she was his alone.
Glancing around, he spied the waitress on the other side of the platform. Raising his hand, he caught her eye. She hustled over and he ordered another drink—a nod to the serial killer Ted Bundy this time.
Moments later more of Alicia’s friends arrived. Amid a flurry of hugs and kisses, Alicia made the introductions.
“Tracy, Madison, and Liam,” she said, her bright eyes glittering.
The anorexic spandex twins could have passed for sisters with their long blonde hair and skintight dresses. The guy was tall, with a swimmer’s build and a bored, pouty look that said exactly what he thought: they were all beneath him. Ice-blue eyes stared at Drew through a fringe of wispy blond bangs in a messy, chin-length cut that could easily have cost a couple of hundred bucks.
Liam’s hand wedged into the small of Alicia’s back, his little finger inches above the curve of her ass. Eyeing Drew with the clinical stare of a scientist assessing his subject, Liam smiled. The bastard was baiting him. Wondering just how far he could push before Drew lost his shit.
He wanted to plow the prick in the face. Instead he grasped his ring and twisted it around his finger. The bloodstone ring glimmered red in the light. He remembered his father’s fist lashing out, how the ring had gashed his cheek. But he was no longer that boy. Now he knew there was more than one way to win a fight.
Drew tore his gaze away from Liam and scanned the upper deck.
Where the fuck is the waitress?
Apparently the universe heard him because just then the beer wench appeared, hefting a tray of jewel-colored cocktails. Like a frat boy at a freshman party, Drew inhaled half of his in a single swallow. Vodka burned a fiery path down his throat, and he realized with regret that he should have ordered a double.
“Drew, is it? Tell us how you met Alicia,” Liam shouted over the throbbing house music.
“We met at the investment firm where she works. I was meeting with my financial advisor when she walked in. She took pity on me when I asked for her number.”
Alicia smiled. “Pity had nothing to do with it. He asked me out for dinner, and the rest is history.”
“Investments, eh? Tell me about your portfolio,” Liam said, swirling an electric-blue drink around in his glass with his free hand.
“Why? Do you have some wisdom to share?” Alicia asked.
“Not likely,” Gretchen scoffed. “You see, Drew, Liam here is Seattle royalty. His father founded one of the first successful dot-coms and sold before the bubble burst. Unlike the rest of us working stiffs, he doesn’t worry about petty things like money.”
“I like to dabble in stocks.” Liam shrugged, sipping his drink.
“That’s sweet,” Gretchen quipped with a small, sour look that made Drew smile.
“Don’t you have people to do that for you?” Drew asked.
“Sure, but everyone needs a hobby.”
“A hobby? Now that’s funny,” Gretchen snorted, sloshing her drink onto her dress.
Cheeks flushing red, she glanced around for a napkin. Drew handed his over. Dabbing at her dress, Gretchen scowled at Liam.
“See what you made me do?”
“Not me, Gretch. You always were a sloppy drunk.”
“Liam!” Alicia said.
“It’s true. Don’t you remember the time we all went to dinner at that place?” Liam said, snapping his fingers like he was trying to recall. “You remember, Alicia, the posh little place in Madison Park.”
“Yeah, that’s it, Crush. Gretchen got so wasted, the maĆ®tre d’ hauled her out of there...”
“Escorted her, you mean,” Alicia said.
Liam waved a hand. “Whatever. The whole way out of the restaurant, she’s yelling at him, calling him names...”
“Until she threw up on his shoes,” Alicia blurted, before slapping her hand across her mouth like she’d just spilled a secret.
“Sweetheart,” Liam said. He paused and turned his affectionate gaze on Alicia. “You stripped down to your panties and danced in the fountain.”
“That’s right,” Gretchen said, her flaming-red face breaking into a smile.
“It was epic,” Liam roared, and the whole group erupted in laughter.
They spent the next half hour reliving highlights from their glory days—like the time Liam and Alicia took his father’s private jet to Paris for the weekend—while Drew stood at the edge of the group and looked on. An outsider. He laughed at the right moments. Feigned interest.
Checked his watch. The minutes crawled by.
By eleven thirty the party was in full swing, but he was done. Alicia turned to him, as if suddenly recalling his presence.
“Get me another drink?”
It came out sounding more like a command than a request, and Drew bristled. Liam shot him a condescending smile and smoothed his hand over Alicia’s ass.
A hot burst of anger surged through Drew.
“Sure,” he said.
He grabbed Alicia by the hand and tugged her toward him. His eyes boring deep into hers, he leaned down and kissed her hard. Through the thin fabric of her shirt, he felt her stiffen, resist. So he deepened the kiss. His tongue probed the depths of her mouth.
All conversation stopped. The throbbing beat of the house music pulsed, and Alicia’s face glowed bright red as she pulled away.
Drew released her and winked at Liam on his way by. Last call. He had to get out of here before he did something stupid. But first he needed another drink.
And then what?
Then he’d do the smart thing. He’d go home and cool off. He’d deal with Alicia later.
After all, she wouldn’t have any trouble finding a ride home.

My Book Review:

What would you do if your daughter went missing?

Marissa Rooney's daughter Brooke is missing from her college dorm room, but the police don't seem too concerned in investigating the case. Marissa is determined to find her daughter, so with the help of attorney Elizabeth Holt and Seattle police Detective Seth Crawford, they do their own missing person's investigation, but the investigation turns into a case of kidnapping that is more dark and sinister than what they could have imagined!

In The Dark author Chris Patchell weaves a fast paced, riveting, and complex multi-layered psychological thriller that is simply spine-tingling, and takes the reader on an exhilarating roller coaster ride.

Set in Seattle, this dark tale has enough drama, gripping suspense, and intriguing twists and turns that will keep the reader holding their breath, guessing, and sitting on the edge of their seat. You can't help but feel compassion for Marissa as she tries to solve the mystery of her daughter Brooke's disappearance, which is every mother's worse nightmare. Add in the urgency of time running out because Brooke is an insulin-dependent diabetic, and you have a desperately worried mother who would do anything to find her daughter before it is too late. With every riveting twist and turn that unfolds in the story, the intensity and suspense mounts until the climactic ending that will leave you completely spent.

If you are fan of dark psychological suspense thrillers, then In The Dark is a must read. You won't be disappointed!

Kudos to author Chris Patchell on her amazing second suspense thriller novel. I look forward to reading more novels from this author in the future.


Contest Giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Chris Patchell & 2 Market Books.

There will be 5 winners of an eBook copy of In The Dark by Chris Patchell.

The giveaway begins on Feb 1 and runs through March 2, 2016.​​

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Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

2/3 Vic's Media Room - Review
2/4 Mythical Books - Showcase
2/5 BooksChatter - Interview & Showcase
2/7 Writers and Authors - Showcase
2/7 Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine - Review
2/8 Mystery Suspense - Interview
2/9 Wall-to-wall books - Showcase & Review
2/12 Book Babble - Review
2/15 The Book Diva's Reads - Guest Post & Showcase
2/17 Celticlady's Reviews - Showcase
2/17 Kim's Bookish Place - Review
2/20 The Pen & Muse Book Reviews - Interview
2/22 3 Partners in Shopping Nana, Mommy, & Sissy Too! - Showcase
2/23 Brooke Blogs - Guest Post
2/26 Jersey Girl Book Reviews - Guest Post & Review
2/26 Books Direct - Review
2/27 Hott Books - Showcase

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Love Him or List Him by Aprille Thomas (Book Review)

Love Him or List Him by Aprille Thomas
Book 2: Sunday Afternoon Series
Publisher: ALeeInspired Publishing
Publication Date: August 29, 2015
Format: Paperback - 116 pages
               Kindle - 2847 KB
ISBN: 978-1517538132
Genre: Chick Lit / Romantic Comedy

Buy The Book:

Buy The Series:
Book 1: When a Spade Isn't a Spade
Book 2: Love Him or List Him
Book 3: Dreaming of a West Coast Wedding

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours in exchange for my honest review.

Book Description:

What if one day, in one evening, all of your shocking secrets came to light?

As an up-and-coming real estate agent at one of Barbados’s well established firms, Joline Osborne spends her days helping people find their perfect match. And she’s found hers… in Brian, Rafi and Nash.

Life in paradise couldn’t be better as Jo manages to keep her fast-paced work life and complex private life totally separate. At work, her colleagues watch in wonder as the free-spirited, easy-going shopaholic fashionably juggles a hot-tempered boss and clients who never quite seem to know what they want. After hours, she drives men wild with her allure, elusiveness and effortless beauty.

But everything is thrown off balance when her isolated worlds collide during her best friend’s charity dog show at Apes Hill. Jo’s neatly woven web of secrets unravels and it all comes crashing down around her. Her colleagues are shocked to learn the ugly truth. Natalie wants nothing to do with her. And her disgruntled lovers give her the worst ultimatum ever: love me or list me.

Can Jo pick up the pieces? Will she mend her broken relationships before it’s too late? And who will she choose?

Love Him or List Him is Aprille L. Thomas’s second novella in the Sunday Afternoon Series, bringing a poetic flair to the complications of corporate life, complex love, and chasing your dreams.

My Book Review:

In her second chick lit novella, Love Him or List Him, author Aprille Thomas transports the reader back to Barbados, where they follow the trials and tribulations of real estate agent Joline Osborne as she tries to balance her career and love life.

This is a fun, fast paced story that easily draws the reader into Jo's story, you can't help but become engaged as she battles career and romantic obstacles. Jo is a sassy determined woman who knows what she wants when it comes to chasing her dreams, but it all comes to a head when she has to overcome the challenging obstacles in her relationships and complex love life. Jo's crazy antics and misadventures will keep the reader laughing out loud.

I loved the rich description of the Barbados setting, the entertaining mixture of spicy romance and career drama that befalls Jo The smooth flow and unexpected twists and turns of the storyline easily draws the reader in, and keeps them engaged and turning the pages. This is the second book in The Sunday Afternoon Series. I look forward to seeing what new adventures the author will take her readers on in the next installment of the series.

Love Him or List Him is an enjoyable chick lit novella that is a perfect read on a cold winters day!


About The Author

Multi-award-winning writer, Aprille L. Thomas, is no stranger to the page. Her poems have earned her numerous accolades in her native Barbados, including the Kamau Brathwaite Award for Literary Excellence and the Prime Minister’s Scholarship – Literary Arts.

Aprille brings a poetic flair to her prose writing, and her unique style has solidified her place on the local and international scene. Her debut novella, When a Spade isn’t a Spade, was released in Spring 2015, and is available for download in the Kindle library.

Author Website / Blog