Friday, November 25, 2022

Spotlight of No Names To Be Given by Julia Brewer Daily


PHOTO SOURCE:
TYPORAMA

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NO NAMES TO BE GIVEN
 

JULIA BREWER DAILY 
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ALL INFORMATION IN THIS POST IS COURTESY OF LAYNE MANDROS OF BOOKS FORWARD.
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Would you be able to give up your first-born to strangers? 
 
Told from the perspective of three different women in the 1960s, “No Names to Be Given” delves into the lives of three young women forced to do just that. 
 
The heartbreaking but uplifting debut novel by Julia Brewer Daily is a story that chronicles the desperate push and pull between family and redemption.
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 August 3, 2021
Admission Press
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PRAISE FOR NO NAMES TO BE GIVEN:

“This book is a relevant read and one that will keep readers guessing page after page until the very end.” The US Review of Books

“An insightful and sympathetic view offered into the lives of those who were adopted and those who adopted them.” Pam Johnson, author of “Justice for Ella”

“A novel worthy of a Lifetime movie adaptation.” Jess Hagemann, author of “Headcheese”

“Readers can expect deep knowledge of the world the characters inhabit.” Sara Kocek, author of Promise Me Something

“I found myself thinking about Becca, Sandy, and Faith frequently as I went about my day — I was always excited to sit down and find out what happened next.” Sarah Welch, author of “Austin Brown Dogs: The Shelter Dogs Who Rescue Us”

“Today’s young women, especially, need to absorb ‘No Names to Be Given.’ ”Midwest Book Review, D. Donovan, senior reviewer

“How could such a tragic choice be an everyday kindness from one woman to another?”Story Circle Book Reviews

“The characters in ‘No Names to Be Given’ step off the pages of the book and into your heart. This book is a fist full of emotions rolled up into an unforgettable journey. Hold onto your hat as Julia Brewer Daily takes you on a ride that is truly remarkable.” Diane Williams, author of “The Life and Legacy of B.B. King: A Mississippi Blues Icon”

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ABOUT NO NAMES TO BE GIVEN:

The widely anticipated and award-winning debut is a glimpse into the lives of women forced by society to gift their newborns to strangers. Although this novel is a fictional account, it mirrors many of the adoption stories of its era. 

When three young unwed women meet at a maternity home hospital in New Orleans in 1966, they are expected to relinquish their babies and return home as if nothing transpired. 

Twenty-five years later, they are brought back together by blackmail and their secrets threatened with exposure — all the way to the White House.

Told from the women’s perspectives in alternating chapters, readers will be mesmerized by the societal pressures on women in the 1960s who found themselves pregnant without marriage. 

How that inconceivable act changed them forever is the story of “No Names To Be Given,” a novel with southern voices, love exploited, heartbreak and blackmail.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Julia Brewer Daily is a Texan with a Southern accent. She holds a B.S. in English and a M.S. degree in Education from the University of Southern Mississippi. 

She has been a communications adjunct professor at Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi, and public relations director of the Mississippi Department of Education and Millsaps College, a liberal arts college in Jackson.

She was the founding director of the Greater Belhaven Market, a producers’ only market in a historic neighborhood in Jackson, and even shadowed Martha Stewart. 

As the Executive Director of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi (300 artisans from 19 states) which operates the Mississippi Craft Center, she wrote their stories to introduce them to the public.

She is a member of the Writers’ League of Texas, the Women Fiction Writers’ Association, the San Antonio Writers’ Guild and the Women’s National Book Association.

Daily is an adopted child from a maternity home hospital in New Orleans. 

She searched and found her birth mother and through a DNA test, her birth father’s family, as well. 

A lifelong Southerner, she now resides on a ranch in Fredericksburg, Texas, with her husband, Emmerson, and Labrador retrievers, Memphis Belle and Texas Star. For more on Julia, visit her website juliadaily.com.

FOLLOW JULIA BREWER DAILY ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

Facebook: @JuliaDailyAuthor

Twitter: @JBDailyAuthor

Instagram: @JuliaDailyAuthor

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AN INTERVIEW WITH JULIA BREWER DAILY:

1. What are you writing next? 

My second novel launches Nov. 1, 2022. It is a modern western with an ancient secret. I began a podcast called Authors Over 50 to celebrate those of us who wrote our first book after the age of 50. It has become quite popular among the crowd writing in Life’s Sweetest Third!

2. Your second book, “The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch,” is a little different from your first book. What inspired the story? 

When we moved to Texas, I became enamored with Texas ranches, especially those held in the same family for multiple generations. We visited Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, and when I saw the magnificent ruins left there by ancient people, I had the idea for my second novel. If you owned a million acres, you would not know all sections of the property, so my book is about the heiress to the largest ranch in Texas who finds an ancient people living on her property.

3. What kind of research did you do to help write your recent book? 

Visiting the ruins in Colorado helped, and I had sensitivity readers guide me about indigenous people, their customs and how to avoid stereotypes. I toured the largest ranch in Texas, as well, to get a feel for the south Texas landscape and the same family who has owned it since the 1800s.

4. You have a uniquely personal connection to the story in “No Names to Be Given.” Can you explain the inspiration behind the book?

I am an adopted child from a maternity home hospital in New Orleans. This debut novel has the same memoir thread running through it with three protagonists who meet at a maternity home in New Orleans to relinquish their babies for adoption and return home as if nothing transpired. Twenty-five years later, they are brought back together with a blackmailer threatening to expose their secrets — all the way to the White House. Their adopted children are featured in the novel, as well, and one of them mirrors my own life. DNA results are used in “No Names to Be Given” to find an adopted child, just as I found my birth father’s family through DNA results. Although there was no blackmail in my own life, many birth mothers I researched were threatened with their secrets of becoming pregnant before marriage and giving their children for adoption.

5. Though “No Names to Be Given” is a novel, the reality of maternity homes in the early to mid-1900s is well-documented. How did you balance the fact from the fiction?

Societal mores in the 1960s forced unwed pregnant women to relinquish their babies for adoption. Adoption is a two-sided coin — heartbreak and loss for the birth mother, joy, and elation for the adoptive parent. It is a subject that has not been fully explored in books and film. One hundred million people in the U.S. have adoption in their immediate families. Although “No Names to Be Given” is a fictional account, it is based on many true stories and sparks conversations about adoptive parents, birth mothers, adopted children and the life-long impact on all three groups. 

6. The main characters in “No Names to Be Given” – Becca, Faith and Sandy – are complex and incredibly different. How did you go about developing each woman so they were unique yet still harmonious as a trio?

I wanted readers to recognize that women from all soci0-economic backgrounds experienced the same social and family pressures to relinquish their babies for adoption. So, in that aspect they were very much alike. Each of the women in “No Names to Be Given” transform from being fearful and controlled to being strong women who survived a traumatic experience and moved past it. They had false beliefs that they were not worthy and would not be able to handle the scars and wounds in their psyches, but they developed into impressive women, in spite of the trauma.

7. While there is less stigma around unwed mothers today, there’s still a large focus on women’s reproductive rights. What are some differences you see today? Some similarities?

Because the book is set in the 1960s during a time when pregnant women were expected to give up children out of wedlock, I think young women today will learn about a time of which they know little. Perhaps the lesson for us is to learn from history and not repeat our mistakes, mainly the shame inflicted on young women who were forced to give up their babies. The struggles continue today with laws instructing women what they can and must do with their own bodies. Interestingly, we do not see those same levels of requirements for men.

8. What do you hope readers gain from “No Names to Be Given”?

Forty years ago, when I had the idea for this book, there were few stories about adoption. Today, that is no longer the case. However, I lived the adoption story and can give glimpses into all aspects, from the birth mothers, adopted children and adoptive parents’ points of view. It is a story that sparks a discussion about the complex topic of adoption and the ramifications that existed then and today.


Book Blogger Hop - 11/25 - 12/1


Question of the Week:
 
Which print size do you prefer: small, medium, or large? (submitted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer)
 
My Answer:
 
I like medium print.


Thursday, November 24, 2022

Starts with "R"

An old house, an old cookbook, notes in the cookbook…REVIEW HERE

This book was a beautiful, beautiful heartwarming as well as heartbreaking read…REVIEW HERE

Mr. Bell knows how to keep up your blood pressure and keep you turning the pages.  THE REQUEST is a thriller fan's smorgasbord…REVIEW HERE

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Spotlight of Two Wrongs Make a Right by Chloe Liese


PHOTO SOURCE:
TYPORAMA

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TWO WRONGS MAKE A RIGHT
CHLOE LIESE
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ALL INFORMATION IN THIS POST IS COURTESY OF TINA JOELL | PUBLICIST | BERKLEY | PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE
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Opposites become allies to fool their matchmaking friends in this swoony re-imagining of Shakespeare’s beloved comedy, Much Ado About Nothing.
 
This is a neurodiverse rom-com with fake dating and enemies-to-lovers tropes.
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November 22 
 Berkley Trade Paperback
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PRAISE FOR TWO WRONGS MAKE A RIGHT:

 

Swoon-worthy."POPSUGAR 

 

"Joyfully sexy, often funny, and wonderfully complex. Publishers Weekly 

 

"Chloe Liese crafts a wry and heartfelt romance."- Entertainment Weekly 

 

"Quirky and delicious romance. I could curl up in Liese's writing for days, I love it so."- Helen Hoang, New York Times Bestseller 

 

**PRAISE TAKEN FROM CHLOE'S WEBPAGE**

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ABOUT TWO WRONGS MAKE A RIGHT:

Jamie Westenberg and Bea Wilmot have nothing in common except a meet-disaster and the mutual understanding that they couldn't be more wrong for each other. 

But when the people closest to them play Cupid and trick them into going on a date, Jamie and Bea realize they have something else in common after all—an undeniable need for revenge.  Soon their plan is in place:  Fake date obnoxiously and convince the meddlers they’re madly in love. 

Then, break up spectacularly and dash their hopes, putting an end to the matchmaking madness once and for all.
 
To convince everyone that they’ve fallen for each other, Jamie and Bea will have to nail the performance of their lives. 

But as their final act nears and playing lovers becomes easier than not, they begin to wonder, what if Cupid’s arrow wasn’t so off the mark? 

And what if two wrongs do make a right?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


PHOTO TAKEN FROM CHLOE'S WEBPAGE

Chloe Liese writes romances reflecting her belief that everyone deserves a love story. 
 
Her stories pack a punch of heat, heart, and humor, and often feature characters who are neurodivergent like herself. 
 
When not dreaming up her next book, Chloe spends her time wandering in nature, playing soccer, and most happily at home with her family and mischievous cats. 
 
Learn more at: chloeliese.com.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Spotlight of The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch by Julia Brewer Daily


PHOTO SOURCE:
TYPORAMA

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THE FIFTH DAUGHTER OF THORN RANCH 
JULIA BREWER DAILY 
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ALL INFORMATION IN THIS POST IS COURTESY OF LAYNE MANDROS OF BOOKS FORWARD.
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Award-winning author’s sophomore novel a hybrid of Western, women’s fiction — with a mysterious twist.
 
From mystery to adventure to romance, award-winning author Julia Brewer Daily’s sophomore novel, THE FIFTH DAUGHTER OF THORN RANCH, has a little bit of everything, and I think it’ll speak to so many people.
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November 1
Admission Press 
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PRAISE FOR THE FIFTH DAUGHTER OF THORN RANCH:

“Julia Daily builds a captivating world by letting her imagination lead the way. The result? A unique story that’s a little Wild West, a little old Mexico, a little ancient history, and a lot rebellious — in all the most interesting of ways. What happens when a strong-willed ranching heiress crosses a line she never knew existed? An adventure that’s bigger than Texas!” — Julie Cantrell, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of “Perennials”

“ ‘The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch’ by Julia Daily takes heroine Emma and hero, Kai, on an adventurous journey across a vast South Texas canvas filled with unforgettable characters and a storyline that will have you turning the pages to see how each scene unfolds. It is a novel that combines mystery, suspense, adventure, and a romance that neither hardships nor time can erase between the main characters.” — Debra Holt, award-winning, multipublished Texas author of The Tremaynes of Texas and The Lawmen Series.

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ABOUT THE FIFTH DAUGHTER OF THORN RANCH:

Emma Rosales is the heiress of the largest ranch in Texas: The Thorn. All the responsibilities of managing a million acres now fall into her fifth-generation hands. 

It’s a task Emma could handle with her eyes closed … if The Thorn were any ordinary property. 

The Thorn is home to many things. Clear, cloudless skies. Miles of desert scrub and craggy mountains. 

A quiet disrupted only by whispers of the wind. 

And an ancient web of secrets that won’t let Emma out alive without a fight. 

After stumbling upon people living on her property, will Emma survive her attempts to return home or will she accept her fate and remain hidden away from her family forever?

This modern ranch has an ancient secret and “The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch” is a family saga as large as the state of Texas in which it abides.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Julia Brewer Daily is a Texan with a Southern accent. She holds a B.S. in English and a M.S. degree in Education from the University of Southern Mississippi. 

She has been a communications adjunct professor at Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi, and public relations director of the Mississippi Department of Education and Millsaps College, a liberal arts college in Jackson.

She was the founding director of the Greater Belhaven Market, a producers’ only market in a historic neighborhood in Jackson, and even shadowed Martha Stewart. 

As the Executive Director of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi (300 artisans from 19 states) which operates the Mississippi Craft Center, she wrote their stories to introduce them to the public.

She is a member of the Writers’ League of Texas, the Women Fiction Writers’ Association, the San Antonio Writers’ Guild and the Women’s National Book Association.

Daily is an adopted child from a maternity home hospital in New Orleans. 

She searched and found her birth mother and through a DNA test, her birth father’s family, as well. 

A lifelong Southerner, she now resides on a ranch in Fredericksburg, Texas, with her husband, Emmerson, and Labrador retrievers, Memphis Belle and Texas Star. For more on Julia, visit her website juliadaily.com.

FOLLOW JULIA BREWER DAILY ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

Facebook: @JuliaDailyAuthor

Twitter: @JBDailyAuthor

Instagram: @JuliaDailyAuthor

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Monday, November 21, 2022

Spotlight and Giveaway of 1 Last Betrayal by Valerie J Brooks

1 Last Betrayal

by Valerie J Brooks

 

November 14 - December 9, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

1 Last Betrayal by Valerie J Brooks Banner

Praise for 1 Last Betrayal:

"Steeped in suspense, chilling encounters, and shocking twists, Brooks drops us into the dark underbelly of organized crime, and we love her for it."

Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and The Over

"A twisty plot, great locations, and a gutsy protagonist you’ll root for all the way. A fabulous finale to a sophisticated series that can also be enjoyed as a stand-alone title."

Kaira Rouda, USA Today and Amazon Charts bestselling author

"A seductive, intricately twisted suspense-thriller that’s nearly impossible to put down... get ready for a wild ride with plenty of suspense, action, and shocking surprises"

Kevin O'Brien, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Night She Disappeared

Synopsis:

A complicated history. A deadly future. Can one woman survive another deep dive into the rotten underbelly of crime?

Angeline Porter craves a return to normalcy. But when the former criminal defense attorney receives an alarming text, she races in desperation to Florida only to find a ransacked apartment, a poisoned dog, and a missing half-sister. Determined to rescue her sibling, she follows a trail of shockingly incriminating clues and plunges into a life-or-death fight with the Boston mob.

Taking advantage of old ties with a charming FBI agent and trying to outsmart a violent syndicate boss with powerful federal connections, Angeline and dubious allies begin tracking down the kidnappers… until she uncovers a supposed protector’s crafty deception. And while a nefarious rogue agent, a long-lost relative, and a possibly corrupt cop close in, the gutsy woman makes the risky decision to go it alone.

1 Last Betrayal by Valerie Brooks

Is her headlong race to save her sister about to zip her into a body bag?

1 Last Betrayal is the suspense-laden third book in the Angeline Porter Trilogy of femmes-noir thrillers. If you like bold heroines, riveting twists, and balancing on the knife’s edge, then you’ll love Valerie J. Brooks’ gritty descent into the underworld.

Don't Miss the Book Trailer for 1 Last Betrayal:

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

If I ever get out of this alive, I’m going to have a tattoo needled on my arm like others of my generation. Of what I don’t know. But if I’m alive, I’ll be able to make a decision then. I’m throwing off the conservative persona I once had as a criminal defense lawyer. My sister Sophie would be saying, “It’s about time.”

From Portland, Oregon, I’d hopped a red-eye and was on my way to Hollywood, Florida. I was back in the game and in the right headspace, ready to bring down the Boston mob once and for all while protecting Bibi, my sister Sophie’s twin. Bibi needed me. She was tough, but this mob had a new and younger crime boss. Talia “Shawn” Diamandis. She didn’t play by the old-fashioned rules of mobsters.

Like the rest of the world, there was no honor anymore among thieves, whether they be members of gangs, political parties, or religious sects. There was no “one for all and all for one.” That only happened in the movies. So, to energize my fighting spirit, I put on my headphones, pulled up “Rebel Yell,” one of Sophie’s old favorites, and put it on repeat. We used to jump up and down to that song in her living room—but that was before the mob.

Yes, I was back in the game, but I wasn’t happy that I had to leave my dog Tempest again. How I’d ever come to love a dog that much, I’ll never know. Maybe I relate to her being a rescue. More probable is how much we’ve been through together.

The plane dropped and bumped, almost spilling my coffee. The pilot announced that we were hitting some turbulence and to keep our seatbelts fastened. I shook my head. What did he know about turbulence?

Then the plane bucked and dropped hard, causing a few people to swear and the flight attendant to grab onto a seat. A child cried. I took a deep breath. The plane continued to buck and weave back and forth. Finally, it leveled out and a collective sigh went up from the passengers. My phone was clutched in my hand. It remained silent.

I closed my eyes and leaned my head back. Why hadn’t Bibi texted me? Maybe, hopefully, she’d fallen asleep. Bibi and I had been talking and texting for the past twenty-four hours about Shawn and what to do about her. But what did you do with a mob boss telling you that you were part of her “organization” whether you liked it or not? As my sweet, dead husband Hank would have said, Bibi was in “deep shit.” I knew what that deep shit was like. I’d been in it for a few years.

Shawn sure had cojones. She’d already broken into Bibi’s apartment—and in broad daylight. What I found frightening was how thoroughly Shawn had prepared. She knew about Otto, Bibi’s dog, a dog that should have scared the daylights out of her. But Shawn had fed him a treat while telling Bibi that there would be a meeting of the three partners, and Bibi was expected to join them. Join them, as in becoming one of the partners.

My main question was “Why?” Why would Shawn take such a risk as to get into Bibi’s apartment just to tell her that she was expected to make this meeting? She could have met her in the lobby. I had a hunch: Shawn needed to know the layout of the apartment and get friendly with the dog. She planned on breaking into the place again. Again, the question was Why?

Bibi reported the “break-in” to management, a report was filed, and the police notified. Security camera footage was watched. But nothing seemed amiss. Shawn never showed her face and seemed to enter the apartment no problem, so she could have had a duplicate keycard. Nothing suspicious. Bibi was pissed because the police said she must have given Shawn a card. As I said to Bibi, a large wad of cash would have bought a duplicate from someone in the hotel or was there some type of master keycard?

My phone dinged, and I jumped. It dinged with two more messages. It was Bibi.

I’m in danger. I’m not paranoid! Otto keeps growling. There are footsteps outside my door and muffled voices.

I didn’t tell you this before, but I found incriminating evidence against the mob in Betty’s stuff. I created a safe place for it. You’ll figure it out.

If something happens to me, promise you’ll take care of Otto. You know what he’s like. He’s sweet and needs his ugly striped afghan. He also knows a lot.

I reread the texts. Fuck! It was 4:02 a.m., and we wouldn’t land for another two hours. I texted back.

Don’t answer the door, Bibi. Don’t let anyone in. Call the police.

I tried to stay calm. Footsteps and voices didn’t necessarily mean anything. Maybe it was nothing more than late-night revelers or an assignation. Yet my heart raced. Shawn had been there once. Why not again? I texted another message and tried to convince myself that she would text back and say it was nothing. Had Otto barked at the noise? He wasn’t much of a barker, more of a growler. He was a big gentle brute the size of a Shetland pony, but there’s only so much a dog could do against greedy criminals who were willing to kill people, never mind dogs. But Shawn had already made friends with him. OK, what else? Bibi carried a gun. Good. But you had to be willing to shoot to kill. I knew very few good people capable of that, even in a life-or-death situation.

I sent another text.

Do you still have your gun? Load and keep it handy.

A text came in. I almost dropped my phone.

It was my lawyer. I ignored him.

I squirmed in my seat. Why hadn’t Bibi told me about the incriminating evidence before? What had she planned on doing with it? I chewed a cuticle. Maybe she didn’t really trust me.

Being trapped on a plane made it impossible to do anything. I had to keep my wits about me though. Did Shawn know about the incriminating evidence? I doubted it. My bet was on Shawn targeting Bibi’s inheritances—two huge estates and all the assets. What a rat’s nest of relationships! Bibi’s godmother, Betty Snayer, had been the crime boss of this mob until she died trying to kill me in Kauai. But before that, Betty had taken in a young, homeless, talented black girl, my half-sister Bibi, and given her a life in the arts. Then Betty had fallen for Shawn, at the time a streetwise, ragged, coke snorter who had addicted Betty to sex and white powder. That left Bibi adrift as to Betty’s affections. So, there I was with a new half-sister who didn’t know I’d killed her sainted godmother. What a mess.

The first-class flight attendant leaned over the empty seat next to me. “Anything I can get you, Ms. Porter?” She smiled with her bright red lips, her eyes sparkling behind her cat-eye glasses.

“Scotch, please. A double.”

I wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans. After sending another message to Bibi, I waited. Again, nothing. Finally, resigned, I set the cell on the empty seat next to me, and when my drink came, I tried not to knock it back, but that was impossible.

Maybe Bibi had called the cops, but I doubted it. I knew she didn’t trust the FBI. Being African American, she probably didn’t trust the cops either, especially after they did nothing to follow up on Shawn. I rubbed my chest, drew in some air, and let it go. Sophie often scolded me, saying I held my breath when stressed. Taking advice from my dead sister? Better late than never.

I pushed up the window cover. The bright light made me wince. Below, the ocean bordered the serpentine edge of land. Lakes littered the middle of the state. The pilot announced we were flying over Orlando and Disney World. People oohed and aahed.

On the seat next to me, I found my notebook and pen under the New York Times, and as I flipped open the notebook, my hand trembled. I’d always been pretty good at compartmentalizing, something I found necessary as a lawyer, but it was getting more difficult. I needed to keep my mind busy until I was off the plane and could make calls. I wondered where Gerard was. I figured from our conversations that he was back undercover with the mob. When I told him I was heading to Florida to help Bibi, he told me not to and was upset when I wouldn’t back down. When he realized I wouldn’t change my mind, he said he’d meet me there. Fine.

I made a fist, squeezed, then shook out my hand, needing to write something down, maybe work through what I knew and come up with a plan of sorts. Since my law school days, I’d written to-do lists, observations, even lists of conjectures and theories about people and cases. It kept me focused. It also helped me solve dilemmas, and even, at times, find something that wasn’t immediately apparent. Clients were told to keep a journal of every move they made, with dates and times, plus anything that could help their case. People were unaware of the evidentiary heft a written journal provided when entered into court records. I’d won several cases on the written word alone when the opposition had what I called a wormy case.

But what to write?

The scotch had warmed its way down to my body, and I could feel my nerves relaxing, my brain focusing. I tapped the pen against my lower teeth. Going back to the beginning with Shawn, I wondered why Betty had been interested in her? Bibi said it was cocaine-fueled sex. I believed that. Betty was older and not a looker, so it could have been the excitement and ego boost. I believed Bibi when she said Betty took Bibi in because she saw her talent and wanted to support her. Being a cynic at heart, I figured Betty had done that to make herself feel good. I’m sure it made her look good to her wealthy patron friends. Bibi was beautiful too—a dark version of Sophie—dizygotic twins from different fathers. So that would give Betty even more cred for being inclusive. A great way to get grants for her non-profit art ventures.

There I go again—the cynic.

The flight attendant swooped in and removed my cold coffee. I ordered another scotch, a single this time, thinking about Gerard, my FBI special agent pain-in-the-ass contact. In the beginning, he’d suspected Bibi was another one of Betty’s lovers. Men. They always think sex is involved. Sometimes it was. I could attest to that.

So how had Shawn become the crime boss of Betty’s mob? Maybe Betty had put her in charge when she went to Kauai. I know that Betty was using heavily by the time she came to the island. She was in Kauai, doing a godmotherly thing—setting up a hit on Bibi’s brother who hated Bibi. Bibi was adopted and the parents favored her over their flaky son. Her brother lived communally on Kauai and dressed as the grim reaper to get peoples’ attention about climate change. So, he didn’t fit his parents’ mold. Bibi, however, was the golden child, always thankful for everything they did for her. But they died before the will was changed, and the brother inherited the bulk. Hating Bibi, he gave her nothing. Betty figured she’d get rid of the brother so Bibi would inherit. At least Betty felt she was protecting Bibi. I wonder if Shawn had put that idea into Betty’s head, thinking Bibi would eventually bring in even more assets to the “organization.”

When I met Betty in Kauai, I didn’t know I had a sister named Bibi. I didn’t know a lot of things. I was hiding out from the mob. They wanted the millions my sister Sophie stole. But Betty knew who I was. I was the one who had killed one of her partners—in self-defense. But that didn’t matter to her. She must have been overjoyed to think she could take care of two marks on the same trip.

I had to assume that Shawn took over the crime boss position when Betty and her bodyguard never made it back to Boston. Gerard and I thought Shawn was a minor character, one of those people who target the wealthy to live luxuriously for a while, snort coke all day, then when things go dumpster, they disappear. She fooled us.

Plus, I had to remember she was a good actor. Shawn had gone from messed-up street urchin to high couture. What really bothered me was her telling Bibi that she laundered the money for the mob. True? Or was that a way to entrap Bibi? If Bibi knew that, she’d be vulnerable if she didn’t join the mob. Shawn was smart, no matter her motive.

I sipped my second scotch. If I kept in lawyer mode, I could keep my shit together. So, who was Shawn? Did she have a police record? What was her M.O.? I’d lost the connection with Snoop, my hacker, just as she was going to tell me what she found on Shawn. I haven’t heard from her since, and that’s not good.

Shawn might be a psychopath, but she had to be a strategist, someone with patience, someone who had planned her ascent with the crime group. This was conjecture, but her actions pointed to it.

This felt good, building a case, listing all the possibilities, hopefully tracing them to their logical conclusion either with evidence or what I’d discovered in the process.

I listed questions about “Shawn the Strategist”:

  • Getting Betty hooked on cocaine: loosens the tongue, makes her vulnerable
  • Reason for admitting money laundering: trap Bibi into the gang; something else?
  • Need background check on her: laundering takes guts, know-how, and connections
  • Has Shawn already taken Bibi somewhere? Under guise of meeting?
  • How much does Bibi know about Betty?
  • Maybe Shawn knows more about Bibi than I do

I suspected that Bibi couldn’t live in Betty’s house all that time and not notice any illegal activities. But Bibi seemed to have no idea, and as she said, she’d been fully engaged in school, her art, and her friends.

The plane’s engine noise changed. We were approaching Fort Lauderdale. I slipped on my shoes and buttoned my military-style jacket, readying myself for landing. I’d dressed with a casual elegance so people would take me seriously but not authoritatively as with a suit. Instead of perfume or aftershave, the cabin smelled like a locker room, and I hoped I didn’t smell that way. I thought of how Gerard would smell when I met him. As if reading my mind, Gerard sent me a message.

I’ll get to The Circ before you. Meet you in the residency lobby.

Between my teeth, I hissed, “Asshole.” He’d insisted on meeting me in Florida, but I told him to do nothing until I got there. That was like pissing in the wind with him.

I finished the scotch. I couldn’t get off the plane fast enough.

The pilot came on the intercom and gave the usual instructions, telling everyone to take their seats, buckle up, seats upright, tray in position. The flight attendant quickly gathered up all the bottles and glasses. I snapped my tray into place, gathered up everything on the empty seat, and threw them in my satchel, something I’d bought because it was more like a briefcase but not a briefcase. The flight attendant had just buckled herself in when the plane dropped like a trap door had opened. Someone squealed. A kid cried. Then the plane leveled off.

With my heart in my throat, I forced my mind back to Bibi and Betty. From everything I knew, Betty wanted Bibi to devote herself to being an artist. What if Betty had recognized Shawn’s killer instinct and started grooming her to take over the business?

I checked my cell one more time. Nothing from Bibi.

The plane headed toward the landing strip. I held the notebook against my chest. As a defense attorney, I’d met many criminals and could usually sniff out the liars. Bibi’s panicky text from Florida was not something easy to fake. But I had no body language to go with this to assure me she was being straight with me.

Far too many unknowns.

I sat back, closed my eyes, and prepared for landing.

***

Excerpt from 1 Last Betrayal by Valerie J Brooks. Copyright 2022 by Valerie J Brooks. Reproduced with permission from Valerie J Brooks. All rights reserved.

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thriller
Published by: Black Leather Jacket Press
Publication Date: September 2022
Number of Pages: 298
ISBN: 9781732373242
Series:The Angeline Porter Trilogy, Book 3
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple | BookShop | IndieBound | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Valerie J Brooks
Brooks is a member of Sisters in Crime. Her awards include an Elizabeth George Foundation grant and five writing residencies. She teaches workshops and classes on writing noir and creating plot twists. Brooks found her love of thrillers as a teen after turning in a hitman to the FBI.

She lives in Oregon with her husband, Dan Connors and their Havanese pooch Stevie Nicks.

Multi-award-winning author Valerie J. Brooks is the author of the Angeline Porter trilogy, femmes-noir thrillers starring a badass disbarred attorney.

NYTimes bestselling author Kevin O’Brien called her second novel TAINTED TIMES 2 “… a real nail-biter from first page to the last.” Heather Gudenkauf, NYT bestselling author of THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE and THE OVERNIGHT GUEST calls Brooks the Queen of the Femmes-noir Thriller and says her upcoming 3rd novel 1 LAST BETRAYAL is “explosive” and “Brooks drops us into the dark underbelly of organized crime, and we love her for it.”

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