Thursday, March 31, 2022

Spotlight and Giveaway of At Any Cost by Andrea Kane

At Any Cost by Andrea Kane Banner

At Any Cost

by Andrea Kane

March 21 - April 15, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


At Any Cost by Andrea Kane

Aimee Bregman had the perfect life. She had an enviable job as head of marketing for an up-and-coming CBD-infused beer that was taking the tri-state area by storm. She had cultivated a massive social media following that showcased the beer at college campus parties and alumni events―and had fun doing it. She had an attentive, steady boyfriend and friends who believed in her. Everything was going right.

But when her long-time mentor, Rita, sets up a business meeting with an important influencer―her life crashes all around her. The casual meeting over drinks suddenly devolves into a shouting match between all parties, and any chance of a new business relationship is over before it begins. Hours later, when the NYPD shows up at Aimee's apartment, questioning her about Rita's abrupt disappearance―foul play suspected―Aimee realizes she's in way over her head.

Fearing that Rita has been murdered, and that she may be next, Aimee hires Forensic Instincts to keep her safe and figure out what's really going on.

Forensic Instincts, a brilliant investigative firm who walks the fine line between legal and illegal, solves challenging and high-profile cases when the bureaucratic restrictions imposed on law enforcement get in the way of achieving results. But neither Aimee nor Forensic Instincts realize how ruthless, how connected, their adversaries are. As dangerous and powerful people are threatened with exposure, anyone is fair game for elimination. And when multiple victims die at the hands of a sociopathic serial killer, it gets harder and harder to tell where the battle lines are drawn… and who might die next.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense Thriller
Published by: Bonnie Meadow Publishing LLC
Publication Date: March 22nd 2022
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 168232043X (ISBN13: 9781682320433)
Series: Forensic Instincts #9 | Each Can Be Read as a Stand Alone Novel
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:


Brightington University
Birchmont, Westchester County, New York
Eight years ago

A kill for a kill.

Weeks of watching and waiting. Plans devised. Soon to be meticulously executed. Mid-November. Football season nearing its peak. Thursday night. Nine p.m. Campus in early-weekend party mode. Undergrads drinking. Smoking up at the frat houses. Athletic building deserted.

Nearly deserted.

His target was there. Alone. Thursday night was his late night during football season. That’s when he reviewed his game strategy and player weaknesses. That’s when he targeted the next eager kid to torture until he broke.

The bastard wouldn’t be breaking anyone ever again. Not the way he’d broken Hank.

As the star quarterback in high school, Hank had gotten a full-ride Division 1 scholarship. Since he’d come from a dirt-poor family, this was the opportunity of a lifetime. A first-rate college education with a shot at the NFL. It was supposed to be a life-changing event.

Instead it turned out to be a death sentence.

His executioner had been Pete Rice. Football coach? Bullshit. Rice hadn’t coached Hank; he’d tortured him, driven him—until he’d blown out his knee on a rain-soaked football field junior year, ending his college career, his dreams. And in the end, his life.

It was first down and goal.

Rice was about to find out the true meaning of payback.

The campus grounds were soggy, leftover patches of wet leaves and an endless span of slick grass, made worse by the cold, steady rainfall. The bare trees swayed as rain pounded their branches. A wet mess. Treacherous, like a wet football field.

Slugging through the debris, he approached the athletic building, pausing yards away to don the black ski mask. He then tugged his hood back into place. No point in taking chances. Security cameras were everywhere. He didn’t need his face to be captured. Other than the mask, he could be any college student. A waterproof parka that swallowed up his body. Jeans and combat boots. Standard college garb.

He reached the building and slid Hank’s ID card into the entry slot. The card still worked. Too soon for it to be deactivated.

He was in. He wriggled into his latex gloves.

The office door was unlocked. Rice was at his desk, files spread across it. He was scribbling something on one of them, brows knit in concentration, totally focused on his work.

Clueless that he was about to die.

In one fluid motion, he was inside the office, the door closed behind him. Rice leapt to his feet, snatching the heavy football trophy on his desk as he rounded the front of it to defend himself against the intruder.

Without a word, the killer whipped out a pistol and fired two bullets, one into each of Rice’s kneecaps. Rice howled, collapsing to the floor in pain. The trophy hit the floor beside him with a thud.

The assailant moved quickly—four long strides until he was behind Rice, dragging him back to his chair and heaving him into it. He shoved a rag in the coach’s mouth to stifle his screams, then moved behind him, wrapping a strong arm in a choke hold around Rice’s throat. He pocketed his pistol, pulled out a zip tie, and leaned down to cinch the writhing man’s ankles together. That done, he slapped a digital voice recorder on the desk, with the record feature on. He yanked the rag out of Rice’s mouth, tossed it aside, and anchored his forearm against the left side of the coach’s neck, using his free hand to pull as tight against the carotid artery as he chose to—for now.

A rush of power surged through him. He could taste victory.

But there was work to be done before the final play.

“You killed Hank Bishop,” he growled. “I want details.”

When he got no answer, only a violent trembling of Rice’s body, he tightened the pressure around his neck. “Talk.”

“Car crash…” the coach gasped. “I didn’t…”

“Wrong answer.” His grip tightened still more, enough so Rice was on the verge of losing consciousness. The coach struggled in vain, his struggles weak and fading.

His soon-to-be executioner eased the pressure the tiniest fraction. He knew just what it would take. And he wasn’t ready. Not until he got what he wanted.

“Wanna die?” he asked in a flat tone that was chillingly devoid of emotion.

Terrified, blood oozing down his legs, Rice gave a feeble shake of his head.

“Good. Because this is what it will feel like.”

He increased the pressure until Rice passed out. Slowly, he eased the choke hold until the scumbag came to.

“Now I’ll ask my question again,” he said calmly. “Why is Hank dead? Why was he in that car crash? This is your last chance. I want to hear it all—what you did, how you did it, what you drove him to.”

Rice was drenched in sweat, his entire body shuddering, choking sounds coming from his throat.

No further coercion was necessary.

Between gasps for air, the coach spilled his guts, revealing everything he’d done, everything that had happened—plus a whole lot more that was happening still.

Interesting stuff. Some of which he knew about. Still more of which he didn’t. It was even bigger than what he’d come here to learn. But frankly, he didn’t give a shit. He’d originally planned to take the voice recorder with him to relive Rice’s agonized confession whenever he chose to. But it really didn’t matter. He’d committed the bastard’s words to memory. So instead, he’d leave the recorder here, let the cops hear the entire confession, including the big-picture part that had nothing to do with Hank but that would send their investigation in the entirely wrong direction—a direction his employer wouldn’t appreciate, but that was his problem.

His adrenaline pumping, he tightened his choke hold into a death grip, pressing against the carotid artery, closing it off and squeezing the life out of his victim.

A minute later, Rice was dead.


Excerpt from At Any Cost by Andrea Kane. Copyright 2022 by Andrea Kane. Reproduced with permission from Andrea Kane. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Andrea Kane

Andrea Kane is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thirty-one novels, including seventeen psychological thrillers and fourteen historical romantic suspense titles. With her signature style, Kane creates unforgettable characters and confronts them with life-threatening danger. As a master of suspense, she weaves them into exciting, carefully-researched stories, pushing them to the edge—and keeping her readers up all night.
Kane’s first contemporary suspense thriller, Run for Your Life, became an instant New York Times bestseller.

She followed with a string of bestselling psychological thrillers including No Way Out, Twisted and Drawn in Blood.

Her latest in the highly successful Forensic Instincts series, At Any Cost, showcases the dynamic, eclectic team of investigators as they square off against a criminal organization with a serial killer as a hit man. The first showcase of Forensic Instincts’ talents came with the New York Times bestseller, The Girl Who Disappeared Twice, followed by The Line Between Here and Gone, The Stranger You Know, The Silence That Speaks, The Murder That Never Was, A Face To Die For, Dead In A Week, No Stone Unturned and At Any Cost.

Kane’s beloved historical romantic suspense novels include My Heart’s Desire, Samantha, Echoes in the Mist, and Wishes in the Wind.

With a worldwide following of passionate readers, her books have been published in more than twenty languages.

Kane lives in New Jersey with her family. She’s an avid crossword puzzle solver and a diehard Yankees fan.

Catch Up With Andrea Kane:
Instagram - @authorandreakane
Twitter - @andrea_kane
Facebook - @AuthorAndreaKane



Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!





This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Andrea Kane. 
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Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Prompt: PALACE

Thanks to these Litsy folks for today’s prompt: 


March 2022



Today’s Prompt:  PALACE

THE MAGNOLIA PALACE is a gem with a mystery, a murder, a famous family, and memorable characters you will connect with and a book you will not want to miss...REVIEW HERE.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Spotlight of Home or Away by Kathleen West



When it comes to the trials and tribulations of modern parenting, critically acclaimed novelist Kathleen West has a gift for capturing the complexity, nuance, and absurdity of it all.

In HOME OR AWAY (Berkley; March 29, 2022), West ups the ante with an incisive look at toxic friendships, old alliances, and over-competitive parenting in organized youth and elite hockey as two former Olympic hopefuls pass along their love of the game—and the rest of their baggage—to the next generation.

It’s a riveting read about secrets, lies, competition, sacrifice, and intensity all within the world of youth hockey.



A gloriously entertaining plunge into the ultra-competitive world of youth sports and the lengths we go to for the kids and game we love."--New York Times bestselling author KJ Dell'Antonia 


**Praise taken from Ms. West's Amazon Page** 



Leigh Mackenzie is a successful investment banker happily married to her college sweetheart and is the proud mom of a hockey prodigy living in Florida—many miles from her hockey-obsessed Minnesota hometown of Liston Heights. Susy Walker never left Liston Heights. She was Leigh’s close friend and teammate, until Leigh didn’t make the Olympic hockey team—and Susy did. Leigh’s failure not only ended her career in hockey, but her relationships with everyone in it, including Susy.

Leigh and Susy’s paths unexpectedly cross twenty years after their fateful tryout when a career opportunity lands Leigh and her family back in Minnesota. Leigh is suddenly thrust back into the ultra-competitive world she left behind, but this time as a parent willing to do whatever it takes to give her son a shot. For Leigh, “whatever it takes” involves facing people and memories from her past that she thought she’d closed the door on two decades ago. One of those people is Susy, who knows Leigh’s darkest secret and the real reason Leigh didn’t make the team all those years ago. The other person is their former coach Jeff Carlson.

When it becomes clear that Leigh’s son Gus may not have what it takes to make the “A” team, Leigh’s nemesis and former coach hints at favors in exchange for ice time and preferential treatment. 
These favors require Leigh to deny the truth about the nature of her relationship with Jeff when he was her coach. A relationship that was predatory and inappropriate and seems to have become a pattern for him with other female players. 
Desperate to keep her history hidden for the sake of her marriage and to help her son make the team and torn about doing the right thing for other women in the sport, Leigh is caught in the ultimate bind: Come clean about what happened when she was an Olympic hopeful or play Jeff’s game. 
In a moment of desperation, Leigh realizes the one person she thought was her biggest competitor — her former teammate — might turn out to be her biggest ally.



Kathleen West
Kathleen West is a veteran middle and high-school teacher. She graduated with a degree in English from Macalester College and holds a Master's degree in literacy education from the University of Minnesota. She lives in Minneapolis with her family. 
Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes is her first novel.
**Author information and photo are taken from Ms. West's Amazon Page**

Monday, March 28, 2022

Spotlight and Giveaway of The Yellow Honeysuckle is the Sweetest

The Yellow Honeysuckle is the Sweetest by Bill Fentress Banner

The Yellow Honeysuckle is the Sweetest

by Bill Fentress

March 14 - April 8, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


The Yellow Honeysuckle is the Sweetest by Bill Fentress
THE YELLOW HONEYSUCKLE IS THE SWEETEST is a salute by the author to a lifetime of outdoor experiences in eastern North Carolina and beyond. It encompasses 14 true short stories about family, friendships, and the emotions involved in hunting, fishing, and other outdoor-related topics. It is not a how-to book, nor just a compilation of hunting and fishing stories; it describes how simple family and personal interactions, with the outdoor sports and unmatched natural beauty as a backdrop, can result in treasured memories like perhaps no other pursuits. If you hunt and fish, or grew up enjoying histories of family traditions and friendships revolving around the outdoors - whether it be in North Carolina, or elsewhere - THE YELLOW HONEYSUCKLE IS THE SWEETEST is for you.

Book Details

Genre: Sports, (as in Hunting and Fishing), Nature, Family, Memoir Published by: Indie Publication Date: February 3, 2022 Number of Pages: 257 ISBN: 979-8-9855598-1-1 Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Here's a word from our author:

Read an excerpt:

There is something special about hunting, that sears in place our memories with others. Maybe it’s the vivid nature where our grand experiences take place or the team efforts we go through to make it all happen? Maybe it’s the getting up early, the black coffee, the smell of eggs and bacon in a cabin, the swoosh of ducks over decoys or the violent uprising of a big covey followed by the delirium of released bird dogs? Maybe it’s the sunrises, the sunsets, the gobbles at dawn, the split oak fires or the oysters? Maybe it’s the bonds we have over lifetimes? I’m not really sure. But I do know we’re blessed when these partners come into our lives. Like many boys, my first hunting partner was a dog, Pepper. I wish I could say Pepper was the granddaughter of King Rothschild’s Sire of Pepper Creek, but I cannot. Pepper was a fittingly, albeit not uniquely, named black and white pointer-mix stray who took up at Miss Jo’s house in Bayboro. Somehow, through either constant brow beating with her pathetic brown eyes or via her constant hanging around the back door looking for food, Pepper convinced Miss Jo to call me—not my mother, her friend—but me. “Billy,” she commanded, “I have a beautiful dog you would just love!” Of course, I immediately got off the phone and begged Mom to take me to Bayboro. “Miss Jo’s got a dog she says I need!” I always thought Miss Jo should have led many of the sales classes I attended in my banking career. Let me tell you, she talked directly to the buyer, and went right around the secretary. While I’m not sure how long it took for Mom to talk to her again, we came home with Pepper in the Chevy wagon and me with a smile as broad as the cuff on my dungarees. Pepper was one of the smartest dogs I ever owned. She followed me everywhere—from our store to Grandmamma’s house to the woods behind our house to the tractor shelter woods across the road, down Swan Point Road, and of course behind our neighbor’s house. Pepper was smart enough to look both ways before she crossed the road. Don’t smirk; I saw her do it a hundred times. She also knew how to be quiet as I planned a sneak-up strategy on the local robins and wrens. But her mind absolutely took the day off when it came to our neighbor’s chickens. --- Excerpt from The Yellow Honeysuckle is the Sweetest by Bill Fentress. Copyright © 2021 by William C. Fentress. Reproduced with permission from Bill Fentress. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Bill Fentress
Bill Fentress is a retired banker and current Finance Officer in eastern North Carolina. A current resident of New Bern, NC, Bill grew up in Pamlico County, North Carolina, where many of his hunting and fishing experiences in The Yellow Honeysuckle is the Sweetest take place. He has enjoyed nature's beauty and God's gifts of family and the outdoors throughout his lifetime, in North Carolina and elsewhere.
Learn More About Bill Online: Goodreads Facebook - @billfentressauthor

Tour Host Participants:

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This is a giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Bill Fentress. 
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Void where prohibited.

Find Your Next Great Read at Providence Book Promotions!

Saturday, March 26, 2022

FEATURING: The Paper Daughters of Chinatown by Heather B. Moore

A true story of a brave woman who rescued enslaved Chinese girls from their owners by taking them into The Occidental Mission Home for Girls in San Francisco.


The Tobacco Wives by Adele Myers

You have to try the new cigarette for women…MOMints.  Especially made for women and safe for pregnant women.

Can you imagine that type of advertisement today?

We meet the tobacco wives endorsing that statement and promoting smoking for everyone.

We also meet Maddie whose mother woke her up in the middle of the night and took her to her Aunt Etta’s.

Aunt Etta lived in the heart of tobacco land in the town called Bright Leaf and where the Bright Leaf Tobacco Company was.

Aunt Etta sewed dresses for the tobacco wives, and Maddie would help her in the summers.

Now that Maddie was there for an unspecified time, she will be helping as a seamstress for these wealthy women.

Maddie didn't know how much she would be helping, but Aunt Etta left her in charge when she became ill.  

Can she do this without her aunt?

Will the women trust her?

They trusted her with their gowns, but she also finds out more about the women than their preferences for gorgeous gowns and what goes on in this seemingly idyllic town.

Will she be able to trust anyone or just play the game?

Maddie is a sweet girl with talent, but not enough confidence.  You will love how she overcomes her shyness and develops confidence and joins in the fight for women’s rights and exposing the lies of the tobacco industry.

THE TOBACCO WIVES takes us inside the industry as the reader learns how things operated and not always on the up and up.

We also learn about seamstresses and fashion during that time and how tough it was for those who were not tobacco executives or the tobacco wives.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. 

Women's fiction fans and historical fiction fans will also enjoy it.  5/5

This book was given to me by the publisher for an honest review.

Friday, March 25, 2022


Thanks to these Litsy folks for today’s prompt:

March 2022

Today’s Prompt:  FAIR 3/25

Chicago won the spot for the World's Fair…REVIEW HERE.

An actress and a journalist meet at the 1939 World's Fair…REVIEW HERE.

His daughter is a reporter and is investigating the World's Fair…REVIEW HERE.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Spotlight and Giveaway of The Wayward Assassin by Susan Ouellette

The Wayward Assassin by Susan Ouellette Banner

The Wayward Assassin

by Susan Ouellette

March 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


The Wayward Assassin by Susan Ouellette

Revenge knows no deadline.

Although told to stand down now that the Chechen rebel who killed her fiancé is dead, CIA analyst Maggie Jenkins believes otherwise and goes rogue to track down the assassin. Soon it becomes clear that failure to find Zara will have repercussions far beyond the personal, as Maggie uncovers plans for a horrific attack on innocent Americans. Zara is the new face of terrorism–someone who doesn’t fit the profile, who can slip undetected from attack to attack, and who’s intent on pursuing a personal vendetta at any cost.

Chasing Zara from Russia to the war-torn streets of Chechnya, to London, and finally, to the suburbs of Washington, D. C., Maggie risks her life to stop a deadly plot.

Praise for The Wayward Assassin:

“Ouellette, herself a former intelligence analyst for the CIA, imbues the exciting action with authenticity. Readers will want to see more of the wily Maggie . . .”
Publishers Weekly

“Every once in a decade you read a book like The Wayward Spy, which is thrilling, addictive, and sends you reading more thrillers, but you’ll go back to this stunning book by Susan Ouellette and reread this tour de force.”
The Strand Magazine, a Top 12 Book of the Year

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: March 15, 2022
Number of Pages: 416
ISBN: 0744304784 (ISBN13: 9780744304787)
Series: The Wayward Series, Book 2 || Each is a Stand Alone Book
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | IndieBound.Org | CamCat Books

Read an excerpt:


CIA Headquarters, August 16, 2004

Maggie Jenkins strode across the parking lot to the sidewalk that led her past the “Bubble,” the CIA’s white, dome-shaped auditorium. Just ahead, she paused at the bronze statue of Nathan Hale, the first American to be executed for spying for his country. A half dozen quarters lay scattered at his feet, left there by superstitious CIA employees hoping to garner good luck before deploying overseas. She fished around in her purse for a quarter, which she placed carefully atop Hale’s left shoe.

In just a few minutes, Maggie would learn whether her six-month deployment to the US embassy in Moscow had been approved. Even though Warner Thompson, the CIA’s deputy director for operations, had advocated on her behalf, there were several others, including an Agency psychiatrist and a team of polygraphers who were not convinced that she should be stationed overseas. She’s not ready yet, the shrink had opined, as if she were a piece of fruit not quite ripe enough for picking.

“Wish me luck,” she said to the statue as she turned for the entrance ahead. The CIA’s headquarters comprised two main buildings, both seven stories high, which were linked together by bright hallways with large windows overlooking a grassy courtyard. Maggie worked in the original headquarters building (OHB), which had been built some forty years earlier during the height of the Cold War. From the outside, OHB was a concrete monstrosity with no aesthetically redeeming value, at least in Maggie’s opinion. It reminded her of Soviet architecture—heavy on the concrete, light on the beauty.

And other than the expansive marbled foyer and the posh seventh-floor executive offices, OHB’s interior also was nothing to write home about. Every floor between the first and the seventh looked exactly the same—drab, hushed, windowless hallways lined with vault doors. Behind those heavily fortified doors sat rows of cubicles, a few conference rooms, and cramped offices here and there for mid-level managers.

Maggie pulled open the heavy glass entry door and ducked into a pristine lobby gleaming with white marble-clad walls. Ahead, the Agency’s bright blue logo covered a massive swath of the gray-and-white checked granite floor. To the right stood the Memorial Wall, which was emblazoned with black stars honoring dozens of Agency officers who’d perished in the line of duty. Maggie stopped and bit down on her lip.

The wall was an awesome, solemn reminder of lives given in the defense of freedom. Every time she walked past it, the sharp points of the eighty-fourth star—Steve’s star—ripped another gash in her heart. He’d been working under cover, so no outside friends or relatives had been invited to the ceremony. Warner had sat with her, stoic, as she clutched his hand and stared at the parade of speakers, not hearing a word they said.

She turned her gaze from the wall, slid her badge through the security turnstile, and offered a polite hello to the officer manning the front desk. She bypassed the elevator that she took every day to the fourth floor and made a beeline for the spacious employee cafeteria. In the far corner sat Warner Thompson, nose buried in the Washington Post.

“Morning,” she offered.

Warner rattled the paper and folded it lengthwise. “Coffee?” He pushed a Styrofoam cup across the quartz tabletop and smiled at her. His full head of hair had grayed considerably since last year, but it worked on him, enhancing his gray-flecked eyes and tanned complexion.

“Thanks.” Maggie sat.

“You ready?”

“I guess.” She sipped the coffee, still piping hot and perfectly sweetened. Warner knew her well. “What do you think they’ll say?”

“There’s no reason they should deny you the posting.”

“The psychiatrist thinks I’m obsessed with Zara.”

“He has a point.” Warner leaned forward, elbows on the table. “I told you not to bring her up in your evaluation sessions. If she’s still alive, we’ll find her, Maggie. I promise.”

“There’s no ‘if’ about it.” She waited until a man with a breakfast tray settled at a nearby table, then lowered her voice. “I saw her fleeing the farmhouse in Georgia. Who do they think set fire to the place after I escaped with Peter?”

Warner winced, obviously uncomfortable with the reminder of Peter, his former case officer, the one who’d been intimately involved in the murder of Steve, another case officer, and his protégé, nine short months ago. That Steve also had been Maggie’s fiancé made saying what he had to say all the more difficult. “The point is, the Agency needs to think that you’ve moved on from what happened in Georgia before they send you to such a sensitive overseas posting.”

“Moved on? Warner—”

He raised a hand to stop her. They’d had this discussion dozens of times since the previous November. Maggie had made it perfectly clear that there was no moving on, no closure, as people said these days, until she found Zara. “You know what I mean. You have to toe the party line and say you believe that everyone involved in Steve’s murder is dead. Period.”

“I still don’t understand why they won’t at least consider the possibility that Zara got away.”

Warner rubbed his forehead. “Because the Agency wants this to go away. A star operations officer was murdered by a terrorist and the terrorist is dead. It’s a simple, straightforward narrative. They don’t want the press finding out that another Agency employee and a senior US congressman were involved in Steve’s death. Everything is about the war on terror, Maggie. If the media found out that CIA and elected officials were mixed up with terrorists, there would be hell to pay.”

Maggie quoted the Biblical phrase inscribed on a wall in the CIA’s lobby. “The truth shall make you free.” She snorted. “The truth, unless it’s too embarrassing?”

Warner exhaled and shifted in his seat. “Both of us are lucky that the FBI investigation didn’t uncover . . . everything.”

He was right, of course. Last year, Maggie had destroyed classified documents and withheld other evidence from the FBI to protect them both. And Warner had been entangled, albeit unwittingly, with a Russian who had ties to both Zara and the congressman. Had the FBI known any of this, neither of them would be CIA employees today.

Maggie waved to a coworker who stared from the nearby coffee station. Warner didn’t frequent the employee cafeteria, so his appearance was sure to raise eyebrows. She’d grown accustomed to sidelong glances inside the Agency’s walls. Everyone recognized her. The media had splashed her face all over television and the internet after Congressman Carvelli’s death. There were some who whispered about her using her fiancé’s death to advance her career. Fortunately, they were in the minority. Most who knew about her role in uncovering the terrorist plot considered her a hero, a designation she refused to embrace. Her actions may have saved thousands of lives, but her motivation had been personal—to clear Steve’s name.

He was no traitor, and she’d proven it.

Maggie glanced at her watch. “We’d better go.”

Warner nodded. They grabbed their coffees and headed for the elevator bank. “Remember, you believe Zara died in the fire at the farmhouse,” Warner reminded her on the way up to the fourth floor.

“That’s what I told the shrink last session, but then he talked to the polygraph people.” Since leaving the House Intelligence Committee to return to the CIA earlier this year, she’d endured three marathon polygraph sessions. Every time, the stupid machine registered deception in her response to questions about whether she intended to violate government policies for her own benefit. “Now he thinks I’m up to something.”

Warner shrugged. “Aren’t you?”

Maggie laughed despite herself. “Always.”


Excerpt from The Wayward Assassin by Susan Ouellette. Copyright 2022 by Susan Ouellette. Reproduced with permission from CamCat Books. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Susan Ouellette

Susan Ouellette is the author of The Wayward Spy, a thriller that Publishers Weekly calls a “gripping debut and series launch.” She was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, where she studied international relations and Russian as both an undergraduate and graduate student. As the Soviet Union teetered on the edge of collapse, she worked as a CIA intelligence analyst. Subsequently, Susan worked on Capitol Hill as a professional staff member for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI). Since her stint on Capitol Hill, she has worked for several federal consulting firms. Susan lives on a farm outside of Washington, D.C. with her family.

Catch Up With Susan Ouellette:
BookBub - @susanobooks1
Instagram - @susanobooks
Twitter - @smobooks
Facebook - @SusanOuelletteAuthor

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!




This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Susan Ouellette and CamCat Books. 
See the widget for entry terms and conditions. 
Void where prohibited.



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Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Spotlight of Lawn Darts & Lemonade by Steven Manchester




A nostalgia-filled novel about growing up in a whacky family during the 1980s. Boom boxes, leg warmers and Rubik’s Cubes—it’s all there. A hysterical walk down memory lane! 
In twenty-five years of writing fiction, I’ve never written a sequel—until now. 
At my core, I am a storyteller, and there are times when a story requires a bit more real estate than a single novel. Bread Bags & Bullies is one of those stories. 
With many more lessons to learn—and fears to overcome—Wally, Herbie, and Cockroach step into the unforgettable summer of 1984.



Steven Manchester’s Lawn Darts & Lemonade is so much fun, filled with laughter, tears, and Big Hair.” – Taylor Dayne, ’80s Recording Artist, Love Will Lead You Back

“When Sunglasses At Night is the main character’s favorite song, you just know you’re in for a fun and quirky ’80s-centric novel!” – Corey Hart, '80s Icon

“I read Lawn Darts & Lemonade and really enjoyed it. There is a raw honesty and purity of passion in this coming-of-age novel. Manchester has incredible skill as a novelist.” – Thomas G. Waites, Actor, The Warriors


It’s the summer of 1984, a season of dodging lawn darts and chugging lemonade—or at least the discolored tap water Ma tried to disguise as lemonade.

Growing up is never easy, no matter what era you do it in. 
For generations, teenagers have suffered peer pressure, bullying, fear of rejection, and a sadistic obstacle course of one unexpected challenge after the next. 
Three brothers, Wally, Herbie, and Cockroach, learn that the past can be filled with questions—even shame and regret—while the future might be shrouded in worry and fear. But staying in the moment, now that’s where the sweet spot is.



Armed with everything I needed for a full afternoon of sunbathing—a blanket, a bottle of baby oil, a half bag of Big League Chew and a Capri Sun juice pouch that I found buried at the back of the fridge—I brought the pristine boom box out to the yard. As I set up camp, I realized how significant this investment was. There was no extension cord long enough to reach the house, so I had no choice but to use eight D-cell batteries. At R&S Variety, this meant nearly a four-dollar loss, or a good percentage of my paper route’s weekly wages. On top of that, I’ll have to spend some God-awful afternoon playing the worst video game Atari ever released.

Ma didn’t have any beach towels and she would have screamed her head off if I’d used any of her “good” bathroom towels—which were nothing more than a stack of frayed and ratty cotton cloths stacked in the closet.

Instead, I claimed my territory on an old cowboy-themed blanket that Cockroach had grown too mature for. This certainly wasn’t the first time that same blanket had been used outdoors. I laughed, remembering when Cockroach and I once played Lone Ranger and Tonto, That wasn’t all that long ago. It felt strange, but I was already missing the old days.

The Wild West blanket was badly stained—probably from Pop changing the oil on the station wagon—but it had been washed and was clean. I knew this to be true because I was sharing the laundry duties with Wally now.

As I lay prone on my back, the boom box played one hit after the next: Hold Me Now by The Thompson Twins, I Can Dream About You by Dan Hartman, Electricity by OMD, Sunglasses at Night by Corey Hart, Drive by The Cars, Sister Christian by Night Ranger—one awesome song after another.

Barefoot and carefree, I took a few deep breaths and could feel the sun kiss my skin. The sky was sapphire blue, with a few wispy clouds floating by. A perfect day to get a tan, I thought, before scanning the sky for any sign of killer bees.

Between songs, the only sound was the draft of passing cars on the hot tar road out in front of the house.

Before long, I was sweating profusely and detecting the scent of chicken roasting. That smells good, I thought, my stomach churning. I hadn’t realized how hungry I was. And then it hit me. That’s not chicken. That’s my skin burning.

Choosing baby oil over Coppertone, I continued to bake in the sun. The tan will be worth it, I decided, I just need to rough it out for a while.

Although Donna and her friends used Sun In in their hair, my hair was already bleached blonde from several months of relentless sun.

Although I didn’t sleep, I did slip into a trance-like state of mind—perhaps from heat exhaustion, quickly heading toward heat stroke.

Sting from The Police was halfway through their popular song, Every Breath You Take, when I finally tapped out. I can’t take it anymore, I thought. My eyes were stinging from the constant flow of sweat and my lips felt like cracked asphalt stuck to my face. As I got to my feet, my head was swimming. I need to get out of here and find shade. I stumbled a few steps, staggering toward the house like it was some mirage in the dessert. I need water…bad.

Upon returning the giant portable entertainment center, Cockroach conducted a final inspection, removing the D cell batteries from the back. “I don’t want them exploding and corroding the rear compartment like Wally’s did.” He handed the used batteries back to me. “We’re good,” he said. “Just let me know when you’re ready to play E.T.?”

            I nodded. “I will,” I said, hoping to push it off for as long as possible.

For all of my time and effort, I suffered the worse sunburn ever. My abdomen resembled a candy cane, striped in different shades of red. The pain was excruciating every time I moved.

“Lather this on,” Ma said, handing me a half-empty bottle of sticky green aloe. “It might be uncomfortable at first, but it’ll cool your skin.”

“Does it hurt?” Pop asked, struggling not to smile.

I nodded, wincing from the cool touch of aloe.

“It could be worse,” he said.

“How?” I asked, panting for breath.

“It could be me,” he said, grinning.

Ma slapped his leg. “These boys are gonna grow up someday and be bigger than you,” she said, teasing him, “and then you’ll be sorry.”

His grin disappeared. “Not matter how big these boys get, they’ll never raise a hand to me.” He looked at me and his smile returned. “They’ve been raised better than that.”

Still applying the cold aloe, I managed a nod. He’s right.

Wally continued to stare at me, shaking his head. “You look like the Heat Miser.”

“Thanks,” I said, trying not to grimace in pain and add to his joy.

“Poor guy,” Wally said, finally allowing himself to laugh, “I bet his hurts really bad.”



Steven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers Twelve Months, The Rockin' Chair, Pressed Pennies and Gooseberry Island; the national bestsellers, Ashes, The Changing Season and Three Shoeboxes; and the multi-award winning novels, Goodnight Brian and The Thursday Night Club. 

His work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN's American Morning and BET's Nightly News. Three of Steven's short stories were selected "101 Best" for Chicken Soup for the Soul series. 

He is a multi-produced playwright, as well as the winner of the 2017 Los Angeles Book Festival and the 2018 New York Book Festival. 

When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or their four children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing. 


Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Spotlight of Love and Genetics by Mark McDonald and Rachel Elliott





This story will resonate deeply with the many readers who have experienced adoption within their own families, those who have considered surrogacy or assisted reproduction, and with anyone who loves stories of real-life hope and heroism. 


It includes intensely emotional original correspondence between Mark, his siblings, and his biological mother.




"Love and Genetics is a brave deep dive into the hearts and minds of Mark MacDonald and his mother and siblings as they navigate their adoption reunion. In alternating chapters, the characters share their private correspondence and innermost thoughts, creating a narrative that feels urgent and raw. We live the experience with them: a journey to family that is layered, complicated, and glorious."—Jessica O’Dwyer, author of Mother Mother and Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir 




This was not the first time I had been in the Calgary  airport, but it was the first time in years and my first time  as an International arrival. My flight from Portland,  Oregon had only taken ninety minutes and hardly seemed  worthy of the designation “International,” but the sign  directing me to Customs and Immigration seemed  stalwartly sure of it. My grey and tan North Face  backpack was nearly empty. It had served me well since  grad school and would continue to be my preferred carry on for many years to come, but with just my laptop inside,  it felt too light for air travel and refused to ride as  comfortably over my shoulder as it should have. I had a  checked bag too, but that was largely empty also—just a  change of clothes, some toiletries, and a good bottle of  wine that I hoped to share. I wouldn’t be staying long, just  the one night.
The morning plane touched down uneventfully and I  was soon navigating the glass-walled maze of the  international terminal. The myriad of signs and arrows  were ostensibly guiding me toward customs, although the  route clearly prioritized security over expediency. Fair  enough. I readjusted my pack again, trying not to lose  myself in thoughts of the day ahead. Through the glass I  peered into the passing moments of other travelers— travelers already in Canada, travelers on the other side of  the glass divide. I watched families trudge their way  through the terminal with kids and bags straggling  behind them. Lone adults passed time in a Tim Horton’s with a cup of coffee and a MacLean’s. Where were they headed on this Saturday morning? Where had they come from? Were they on time? Were they glad to be traveling?  Were any of them worried about what they might find at  their destination?
Airport customs was a small affair in Calgary; they  must not get many international flights. There were only  a half-dozen kiosks and only two of those were staffed by  an agent that morning. But at 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday  there was no need for any more. I paused at a high, narrow  table near the back of the open room to scrounge through  the second pocket of my backpack for a pen to fill out the  blue and white customs form. Fortunately, I never cleaned  my pack out completely, so there was always a pen,  business card, or cough drop to be found in there when  needed; I had, of course, double-checked for contraband  before I left, knowing full well there wouldn’t be any, but  it’s always worth being sure. My completed form in hand,  I chose the kiosk on the left, the one with the woman agent  and only one other traveler in line. After a rolling stop at  the broad red line marked on the floor, I made my way to  the side-counter of the kiosk, trying not to look nervous. It never helps to look nervous at a Customs and Immigration inspection. I reminded myself that I had  nothing to hide here, I was not doing anything wrong. It  was the rest of the day that I was nervous about.
The customs agent took my Canadian passport and  opened it to the photo page. She looked me square in the  eyes and then proceeded to size me up head-to-toe before  returning her gaze to my hopefully anxiety-free face.

“Citizenship?” She began in a voice that was both  friendly and tired, yet still held an undercurrent of  authority.


I had just handed her my passport, of course I was  Canadian. I suppose they have to ask, perhaps to get a  potential perjury on record, or perhaps just to see who  they can trick. But it did say clearly right there on the  front cover: CANADA PASSPORT (and then again in  French, of course, PASSPORTE). It even goes a step  further on the first page, explicitly listing my citizenship  as CANADIAN, in case the reader had somehow missed  the lettering on the outside cover. I imagined that once in  a blue moon someone answers the citizenship question  “Italian” while holding a passport from Albania and that's  how they catch bad guys. The people who mess that one  up must be extremely nervous-looking.
“Where do you live?” Her focus had now returned to  her computer screen, which presumably listed all sorts of  interesting details about my immigration credentials and  prior travels.

“Portland, Oregon, in the States.” I had been living in  the US for more than a decade and had had this same  conversation many times while crossing back into Canada  at various borders. I had learned from experience that it  did not serve to rush to any explanations or caveats, just  answer their questions directly and succinctly and they’ll  get to the next part at their own pace
“Why are you living in the USA?”
“I work for Intel Corporation there and live with my  wife, who is American. I have a green card.” I had my proof  of residency at the ready and it was halfway across the  side-counter before she asked for it.
“What are you doing in Canada today?”
This was the question I had been bracing for. Except  for Tina, my wife, I hadn’t told anyone why I was taking  this trip: not my friends, not my job, not even my parents.
In that moment, my life as I knew it shrank from me and  I felt utterly alone. But by law, here at the Immigration  kiosk, I needed to be honest, and I had resolved to be plain  about it. “I’m meeting my biological family,” I said.
The agent paused and turned to look back up at me,  ignoring her screen for a moment.
“First time?” she asked with genuine interest. “Yes” was my spoken reply, although I was on the  verge of tears and I’m sure that she could see that piece of  my response as well.
“Well, you win the prize,” she said with a wry smile. She stamped my passport and slid my documents back to  me across the counter. “Best story of the day. Go on.”
As I turned to head toward the baggage claim area, I  heard her add “good luck.”
“Thanks,” I replied without turning back. I don’t  know if she heard me. I meant it, but I was too busy  holding on to my edges to care about properly completing  the social nicety. It was strange, surviving that one  moment of honesty and the agent showing herself to be  an ally of my quest. It allowed me to breathe normally  again and gave me a tiny flush of confidence. Within  minutes the world was slowly sinking back into the  normalcy of airport navigation and I found myself  successfully continuing to put my feet in front of each  other as I made my way through baggage claim and on  toward the rental car pickup. Searching for the right numbered stall in the sparsely lit garage, I paused and felt  the ground more solid beneath me than it had been in  days. As I stood there, staring at the white Ford Focus in  front of me, the customs agent’s prize comment ran  through my mind again, and it made me wonder.


Mark MacDonald was adopted. This was something he always knew, but never really examined until he was wanting to start a family of his own with his wife, Tina, in Oregon.
Over in Kentucky, Rachel Elliott had two brothers—or so she thought. When her mother tells her of a first-born son that was given up for adoption, her world is turned upside-down.
These events start a chain reaction that leads to a family reunion and new relationships that would change their lives forever.

Reunited siblings Mark MacDonald and Rachel Elliott team up for this unique debut memoir from Unsolicited Press, publishing March 22, 2022. Love & Genetics unpacks the experiences of a family discovering and rediscovering itself.

It is a tale of fear and love and an astonishing act that would salve old wounds and provide the foundation for a new family together, as Rachel offers to be the surrogate for Mark and Tina due to Tina's life-long kidney disease, and is the one who carries their twin girls, Aly and Zoe. Mark, Tina, and Rachel's story became the precedent for maternity in surrogate cases in the state of Oregon, as before them, the woman who gave birth (regardless of the actual genetic material) would be automatically, legally named the mother.

This is a first-hand look at how new and uncommon surrogacy still was in the early 2000s, and the difficult path they had to take to all become a family.





Mark MacDonald and his family live in Beaverton, Oregon. He is an Adjunct Professor at Portland State University and a Principal Engineer at Intel Corporation.  


Rachel Elliott grew up in the prairies of Alberta, Canada, yet somehow (miraculously) finds herself living outside of Raleigh, North Carolina, and became a US citizen in 2016.