New Book: The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch (Modern Western/ Family Saga)

For Fans of Yellowstone & Outlander!

Welcome to the book tour for Julia Brewer Daily’s upcoming novel, The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch: A Modern Ranch with an ancient secret!

The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch

Expected Publication Date: November 1st, 2022

Genre: Modern Western/ Family Saga

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

A task Emma could handle with her eyes closed… if The Thorn was 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.

The Fifth Daughter of Thorn Ranch is a family saga as large as the state of Texas.

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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, Jackson, Mississippi, and Public Relations Director of the Mississippi Department of Education and Millsaps College, a liberal arts college in Jackson, Mississippi.

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 (three hundred artisans from nineteen states) which operates the Mississippi Craft Center, she wrote their stories to introduce them to the public.

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.

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New Book: We Do What We Must (Historical Fiction)

Welcome to the tour for We Do What We Must, a gritty novel based on true events!

We Do What We Must

Publication Date: October 3rd, 2022

Genre: Historical Fiction/ Mafia (Based on True Events)

An immigrant Sicilian family triumphs over The Mafia in turn of the century New Orleans, just not in the way they’d planned.

This fictionalized tale recounts the story of the true life Giacona family, who emigrated from Sicily to New Orleans in the 1890s. They came to the US to escape the influence of The Mafia, only to be confronted by the same challenges in the New World.

Pietro and Corrado, father and son, do what they must to defend their family and business from the dreaded Black Hand, as well as powerful organized crime families. They proceed the only way they know how, through bravery, guile, and tough choices. Although committed to living as ‘Honest Italians,’ their choices lead them down a perilous path.

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Excerpt

Chapter 1 – New Orleans, 1908

Every detail had to be perfect, as if their lives depended upon it. On this night, it just might.

Corrado picked up the pieces of the final place setting, one by one, careful not to scratch the delicate surfaces of the fine silver-plated utensils, the ones brought out for just the most special occasions. He made sure to hold each piece with thumb and forefinger, by their necks, just the way he preferred.

“Here you go, Papa.” He handed the last one to his father, who did not look up from his task.

Corrado watched as his father, Pietro, laid each utensil carefully into place, in perfect formal order, straightening each one after the setting was complete. Always set from left to right, neatly centered, on perfectly folded white linen napkins.
He stood by as patiently as he could, until he could wait no more. “Okay, Papa, it looks good to me.”

When his father failed to reply, he called out, more urgently, “Papa, do you hear me, it’s fine.”

Pietro turned his large, melon shaped head, even larger appearing due to his oversized mustache and shock of unkempt salt and pepper hair. “It is not enough to be good, it must be perfect. We all make choices, and some choose to be good, and others to be perfect. It was my choosing to be perfect that created this business, made it thrive, and bought us this fine home. And I will not choose anything but perfection, especially on this day, which may be the most important day of our lives.”

Corrado suppressed a soft smile. The familiarity of his father’s words momentarily distracted him from thoughts of the evening’s negotiations, thoughts he played over and again while he tossed in bed at night. Distracted him from the fear and excitement, from the anticipation and uncertainty. From the magnitude of his plan, and the possibility of its failure.

He brought himself back into the moment, and addressed his father. “Papa, you speak of choices, and of making good choices.” He paused and twirled the edges of his thin, jet black mustache with his fingers. “But Papa, what if there are no good choices?”
Pietro stopped what he was doing and looked directly into Corrado’s eyes. “There are times when there are no good choices. That’s what happened to me in Palermo, and I made the most of it. Sometimes you don’t get to do what you’d like to do, or what you ought to do. Sometimes you do what you must.”

Corrado paused, signaling respect for his father’s words, then replied in his most considered tone. “Yes, Papa, I know, and we’re grateful for your courage and achievements. Now can you check on the Stigghiola while I go down to the cellar and bring up a case of wine.”

The corner of Pietro’s eyes crinkled as his face pulled itself into a broad smile. “Yes, son, that is indeed a good choice.”

Corrado turned and headed down the steep stairs, taking them two at a time, to the large dusty cellar where they stored their wares. He turned on the electric light, took a moment to admire the brilliant tungsten bulbs they’d just installed, and strolled down the aisles of dusty crates, some covered with fancy labels all in Italian, some with the simple markings of homemade raisin wine, looking for the perfect case.
It must be expensive looking, he thought, but not so expensive as to arouse suspicions. And high enough in alcohol content to achieve its intended effect.

Finally, he settled on a case of Valpolicella. Perfect. Dark, red, and rich tasting. And the highest alcohol content of all the wines.
He hoisted a full case onto his broad shoulder, closed his eyes to let the dust settle around him, headed up the stairs, and placed the case next to the dining room table.
“Papa, I put the wine in the dining room.” He took a moment to catch his breath. “They’ll be here soon, is everything ready?”

“There’s just one thing left,” Pietro replied from the kitchen, then set down the ladle he’d been using to stir the stew, walked into the living room, and opened the doors of the large wooden armoire across from the fireplace. He looked inside for a moment, leaning over and fumbling with some items, moving them from one side to the other, then reached down and picked up something with his right hand, and turned and headed silently back towards the kitchen.

As he passed, Corrado noticed the long, wooden handle of their Winchester repeating rifle in his father’s right hand. Pietro continued into the kitchen, placed the rifle carefully behind the half-opened door, and turned back towards his son.

“There. Now everything is perfect indeed.”

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Amazon Best Selling Author Richard Robbins’ novels explore important moral questions such as the price of fame, the nature of loss and redemption, and the meaning of life, through the lens of family dynamics.  He lives with his wife in New Orleans and New York City, near their adult children, and his work is infused with the flavor of those vibrant and unique cities.

Richard was named Louisiana Independent Author of the Year for 2020, and his works have won numerous awards, including Feathered Quill Book Awards and Readers’ Favorite Book Awards.

Richard Robbins

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New Book: The Unlikely Spy (Spy Thriller/ Historical Romance/ Historical Fiction)

Welcome to the book tour for The Unlikely Spy by Sophie Schiller! Read on for more details!

The Unlikely Spy

Publication Date: August 21st, 2022

Genre: Spy Thriller/ Historical Romance/ Historical Fiction

Casablanca meets Notorious in a Hitchcock-style thriller of espionage, romance, adventure, and intrigue.

1917. Emma Christensen is a young widow who returns to the Danish West Indies to reclaim the life and the villa she left behind. When she discovers her husband has disinherited her in favor of his young heir—an illegitimate son—she turns to the one thing she knows, gambling, and soon finds herself deeply in debt.

Emma is approached by Cornelius Smith, a representative of an American shipping line, who offers an alternative: infiltrate the suspicious Hamburg-American Line and spy on its nefarious leader, Julius Luckner, to gain valuable business intelligence for his firm.

It doesn’t take long for Emma to realize that both Smith and Luckner are not as they seem. Close to the Allies but even closer to the enemy, Emma bravely engages in missions that could blow her cover at any moment. But with the Panama Canal at stake, how far will she go to help the Allies?

A gripping and suspenseful World War I spy thriller from an accomplished thriller and historical adventure writer.

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Excerpt

From the moment she left the telegraph office, Emma had an eerie feeling that someone was following her. It stayed with her all the way back to the hotel. She felt as if someone was watching her every move although she was quite certain she had slipped past the German in the lobby.

When she returned to her hotel, waited impatiently for Smith’s cable. She called down to the front desk numerous times to ask if any message had arrived for her, but the answer was always no. With no other recourse, she went to bed, tossing and turning half the night, fearing that something terrible had happened to Allendorf and now she was all alone. This was completely unexpected. For several agonizing hours she pondered what she should do, but couldn’t come up with a viable plan. The Germans were watching her every move. She was basically trapped in her hotel room, and Smith was counting on her to complete her mission. But no one could have foreseen such a reversal.

As the hours ticked by, she had an ominous feeling she couldn’t shake, that her life was hanging in the balance. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up and she had an unsettling feeling that would not quit.

When she could no longer tolerate her insomnia, she picked up the phone and ordered a chamomile tea from room service, hoping it would calm her jangling nerves. When the drink arrived, she splashed a bit of rum in it from her trusty flask. Yet she still had a nagging feeling that something was wrong.

Her eyes fell on her purse. It sat on the nightstand near her bed, just within her reach. She opened it, took out the pistol, and rehearsed priming it so she could use it in a tight spot. She needed to have the movements go like clockwork. There was no room for failure in this business. Luckily it only weighed two pounds. That made slipping it into her pocket easier. The magazine was already loaded with seven bullets. Seven chances to save her life. She gripped the pistol in her right hand and racked the slide, then added a bullet to the barrel. Now it was ready. She flicked the lever to “safe” and set the pistol down on the nightstand. Perhaps now she could sleep.

She lay down, pulled the sheet around her, and turned off the light. She closed her eyes and tried to relax, but she could not fall asleep.

Outside, the moon cast a luminous glow on the surroundings. Crickets croaked their nightly serenade and the stars lit up the heavens. The palm fronds billowed in the breeze. The waves crashing on the rocks sent an ominous warning. Emma found it difficult to sleep in a different bed, and impossible to relax when she had so much on her mind, so much responsibility on her shoulders.

She got up and peered outside. Despite the late hour, there were still people milling about, laughing and heading to restaurants and casinos. Horse carriages trotted past while motorcars meandered down the streets, their glowing lights like the eyes of a puma. Sounds of amusement echoed from the restaurant below. Lights shone from the ships in Manzanillo Bay, creating a scene that was idyllic, almost peaceful. Further out, she could see the lights on the ships waiting to enter the canal. There was a long line of them that suspended off to the horizon. Each one had its own purpose and destination. Each one could be sunk at any time by German torpedoes or hidden bombs. She shivered. An explosion along the canal would cause chaos for the Allies. The Kaiser would gloat in his victory. His generals and their underlings would launch even more attacks. Emma could picture Luckner in his office toasting his triumph, patting himself on the back even as the embers of the canal still glowed.

She went back to bed and covered herself with the sheet, trying to block out her worries. But it was impossible. She had a sense of impending doom. And for some strange reason, the hairs on the back of her neck stood up.

Suddenly she heard a scratching noise near her door. A man’s footsteps shuffled just outside. She froze and listened, not daring to move. Someone was fumbling with the lock, trying to break in. She sat up in bed, listening. She felt her heart stop. Yes, somebody was trying to break in.

She fumbled in the dark for her pistol. She grabbed it, flicked the safety to “fire” then eased herself off the bed. Crouching down on the floor, she listened as the noise continued ever so slightly that it was barely detectable. She sat behind the bed, aiming the pistol, not daring to breathe.

The latch turned and the door opened, allowing just enough light from the hallway to illuminate the figure of a man entering her room. When he was inside, he closed the door behind him and latched it. Her eyes widened. He tiptoed toward the bed and raised his hands as if to attack. Emma’s heart pounded as she released the pistol break and held her breath.

Available on Amazon!

About the Author

Sophie Schiller was born in Paterson, NJ. She is a novelist and a poet. She loves stories that carry the reader back in time to exotic and far-flung locations. Kirkus Reviews has called her “an accomplished thriller and historical adventure writer.” Publishers Weekly called her novel, ISLAND ON FIRE, “a memorable romantic thriller”, her novel RACE TO TIBET, “a thrilling yarn,” and her TRANSFER DAY, “a page-turner with emotional resonance.” Her novel, THE LOST DIARY OF ALEXANDER HAMILTON, was called, “an engaging coming-of-age story of heartbreak, bravery, honor, and triumph” by Kirkus Reviews. She graduated from American University, Washington, DC and lives in New York.

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New Book: The Isle of Dragons (YA Fantasy)

Welcome to the book tour for Isle of Dragons by L.A. Thompson! Would you just look at this cover?!

Isle of Dragons (Isle of Dragons #1)

Publication Date: February 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

Watch steampunk technology and high fantasy witchcraft clash in this heroine’s fast-paced, epic journey to rescue her father and reveal the secrets of the noble court.

On the run from the royal army in a giant mechanical centipede, sixteen-year-old Jade Sol embarks on a dangerous adventure to help her father escape from the Isle of Dragons—a land of untamed magic that some believe only exists in myth.

When Jade is cornered by soldiers, a mysterious witch named Miria Atkins rescues her, calling on ancient spirits from a magical realm to channel their mystical energy into light and matter. Jade begs Miria and the sorceress’s mechanist brother, Dan, to join her quest. The siblings resist at first, but their hearts soften when they hear of her father’s fate. Their own parents had attempted an expedition from Vansh to the Isle of Dragons years ago and never returned. Together, the trio journey across the feudal countryside and trek across the sea to become the first humans to reach the elusive Isle of Dragons… or so they think.

Die-hard readers of Angelique S. Anderson’s Dracosinum Tales and Jessica Drake’s Dragon Riders of Elantia series will find L. A. Thompson’s writing magnetic, impassioned, and clever in this novel’s twisting plot. 

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Available on Amazon & Barnes & Noble

The Hidden Library (Isle of Dragons #2) is Now Available!

L.A. Thompson’s iconic steampunk heroine is back in this richly imaginative quest to find a mysterious magic library that holds the key to winning the war against the corrupt King Jarrod.
Jade and Kaylen, childhood friends turned rivals, now race to find a portal located in an ancient library hidden from mankind for years that will either doom or save their world. To follow the king’s orders and regain all she’s lost, Kaylen must decide what, and who, she is willing to sacrifice. Can Jade, the dragon-taming witch Miria, and the pragmatic pod inventor Dan race against the clock and stop Kaylen from opening the gateway between realms before it’s too late?

Packed with fast-paced action, Jade’s newest adventure introduces new friends and enemies, and magic obstacles beyond anything Jade has seen before. Hang on tight as mysterious revelations unfold about the Isle of Dragons and its inhabitants.

Fans of Jeff Gunzel’s The Legend of the Gate Keeper series and Cecilia Dominic’s The Art of Piracy will be enthralled with L.A. Thompson’s brilliant and magnetic storytelling.

Amazon

About the Author

L. A. Thompson always wanted to be a writer who created different worlds and characters that would draw people in and take them into a time and space where they can forget their worries for some time. Combining her love for fantasy and witchcraft, she writes about historical periods and creates a world that is a mix of both technology and magic. L. A. Thompson is a freelance writer and resides on the coast of Australia.

L. A. Thompson

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New Book: The Voice (Mystery/ Suspense/ Crime Fiction/ Police Procedural)

Welcome to the book tour for The Voice by John Reid! Read on for more details!

The Voice

Publication Date: March 31, 2022

Genre: Mystery/ Suspense/ Crime Fiction/ Police Procedural

The world of warfare is changing, and a new weapons delivery system developed secretly in the UK is targeted by an international terrorist gang who set out to steal it on instructions from “The Voice”. “The Voice” is a mysterious mastermind who uses an electronic device to disguise his voice and keep his identity hidden.

DCI Steve Burt is asked by his old Army Commander to search for his son, a serving Army officer who is missing. This unofficial inquiry becomes part of an official investigation and takes the DCI into a world of international intrigue, terrorism, murder and corruption at the highest level of government and the Metropolitan Police. The evidence always leads back to “The Voice” but who is he? Unearthing a phantom is a difficult task even for DCI Burt.

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Available on Amazon

About the Author

John Reid is the creator of the DCI Steve Burt series of thriller and suspense crime fiction at its very best.

Retirement has given John the time to fulfil his passion for writing, creating the mystery series through his unique creative process. Each main character is fully developed at the beginning of the writing process, with the part they play in each journey evolving organically within the confines of the underlying plot line. This freedom and flexibility creates inventive and compelling story telling that keeps the reader intrigued throughout.

John was born in Scotland and, after serving in the Army, embarked on a career in industry. He has worked in several different sectors in senior roles and was latterly CEO of a large international data capture company. He retired for the first time in 1995 to take on a consultancy designed to help new businesses become established. In 2018 he finally retired from business life to become a full-time author. John lives in Scotland and Portugal with his wife, and they have two grown-up sons.

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New Book: Tunnel of Mirrors

Literary Fiction/ Contemporary Literary Fiction/ Romantic Elements “Eternal Lovers”

We’re celebrating the release of Ferne Arfin’s novel, Tunnel of Mirrors this week! Read on for more details!

Tunnel of Mirrors

Publication Date: February 1st, 2022

Genre: Literary Fiction/ Contemporary Literary Fiction/ Romantic Elements “Eternal Lovers”

Publisher: Green River Press

Rachel Isaacson, spirited, otherworldly and haunted, is born into a rigidly Old World family in New York’s Lower East Side. Hungry for independence, Rachel enters a marriage of convenience with violent consequences.

Across the Atlantic, storyteller, fiddler and cliff climber Ciaran McMurrough is raised in pastoral innocence on Rathlin off the coast of Ulster. His upbringing in a tight-knit, isolated community leaves him unprepared for the subtle political passions following the Irish Civil War.

Outcasts-one by choice, one by chance-Rachel and Ciaran meet on the docks of lower Manhattan in 1928. Drawn to each other in this lyrical story, must they repeat a doomed cycle as eternal lovers?

Tunnel of Mirrors fires the imagination and stirs the soul…a story to savour that remains long in the mind. I loved it.”

-Sunday Times Bestselling Author of Our Story, Miranda Dickinson

“Humour, emotion, and perfectly tuned dialogue, ensures her people are triumphantly alive.”

-Novelist Janette Jenkins, author of Firefly and Little Bones

Tunnel of Mirrors is a beautiful, lyrical recreation of the past. With warmth, wit and great heart, Ferne Arfin takes the reader back into the struggles and small victories of a lost world.”

-Toby Litt, English writer and academic, author of Patience

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Excerpt

Every morning, on the way to work, Rachel stopped at Bessie’s to change from the modest cotton dresses her father allowed into one of the swingy, short frocks that she and Bessie made during their lunch breaks. Then, their hemlines a daring nine inches above the ground, the two girls swanked uptown to their jobs at Mishkin’s, Theatrical Costumiers to the Trade.

Mishkin’s son, Arthur, managed the sewing rooms. He was sweet on Bessie and any friend of Bessie’s was a friend of his, so both girls could count on extra break time for their own sewing. They could count on remnants of fabric, from time to time, as well.

Mishkin allowed his trimmers to keep the beads and feathers swept up at the end of the day. Lately, Arthur, who Bessie kept on a very long leash, had begun passing on the full boxes of beads that were often left over when a show was dressed. These were supposed to go back into stock but Arthur said, “What the heck. They’re paid for. If my old man asks, you got them from the sweepings.”

“You’re a real prince, Arty,” Bessie would say and he would glow for a week. Sometimes she even gave him a peck on the cheek. It was a small price to pay for the very same sequins and beads the showgirls wore when they danced for Ziegfeld and Minsky.

Rachel and Bessie were making special dresses. They had big plans. It was no use knowing all the latest steps, if you couldn’t show them off at the landsmannschaft socials, where bearded old men and everybody’s mother prowled the dance floor. And most of the boys at Corkery’s Shamrock Dancehall thought a good time was slipping a double bathtub gin into a girl’s Moxie and seeing how far you could get her to go. If you went to Corkery’s too often, the regulars started thinking you were a charity girl who would do just about anything for the price of a bottle of pop. Drunken boys were always staggering out of there whistling the tune to I’ll Say She Does. Even though Corkery made his payments, the place got raided at least once a month. Duvi said it was part of Corkery’s arrangement with Tierney, who was the local boss, because it kept the neighbours off the councilman’s back. Duvi always knew about the raids in advance, so the girls never got into trouble.

But now Rachel and Bessie were ready for better things. In the right place, a girl could meet big spenders who were hot steppers and who carried real Canadian whiskey in silver hip flasks. But for high-class dancehalls like Roseland or Dreamworld or Feldman’s Coney Island Palace, they needed real dance dresses.

Bessie thought Rachel should bob her hair. But some things couldn’t be left behind in Bessie’s rooms and Rachel was careful to protect her new double life. “You said you wasn’t afraid of your old man,” Bessie insisted. Rachel couldn’t make Bessie, who never did anything by half, understand that some arguments were not worth the trouble. Or that most of the trouble would land on her mother. Bessie hadn’t had a mother in such a long time.

***

Rachel weighed a heavy hank of glass beads across the palm of her hand. Bugles. The most delicate cylinders of crystal blue and green, threaded on lengths of fine silk. They sparked like a shoal of moon-chased minnows. There were enough to finish.

“And about time too,” Bessie said. Bessie had grown impatient with Rachel’s fussy particularity. Anything that glittered made Bessie happy. While Rachel waited for just the right colours, Bessie had finished her dress and was stringing a boa of pink dyed marabou feathers. She waved it under Rachel’s nose. “Ain’t these just dee-vine?” she said. “Ain’t they just the cat’s pyjamas?”

Rachel didn’t have the heart to tell her she looked like an explosion at bead factory; Bessie was so eager to make what she imagined would be a very grand entrance at Roseland. “Look out fellas, here I come.”

Rachel had planned more carefully, making sure Arty found just what she needed. If Arty ever wondered why he took so much trouble for a skinny Jewish girl, when he was already married to one and when it was her Irish shiksa friend he was after, Rachel did not let him wonder for long. Still the dress had taken months to finish. It was covered with beaded fringe and scattered with iridescent sequins, flashes of silver and the smallest seed pearls that Arty could finagle. From its pure white hemline, it rose in a narrow column through all the greens and blues to a deep cobalt at the shoulders. When Rachel put it on, she looked like a creature risen from the bottom of the ocean, seafoam still clinging about her knees.

“Geez, you look like a million, kiddo.” Bessie said. “Who’d ever guess you was jail-bait.”

Available on Amazon and at B&N

About the Author

London-based American writer Ferne Arfin has worked as a journalist, copywriter, actress and travel writer. Her short stories have been anthologised by Virago and Travellers’ Tales. Tunnel of Mirrors is her first published novel.

Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0e7c6a8f350/?

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New Book: Bluebird at My Window (Dark Fiction/ Psychological)

Welcome to the book tour for Bluebird at My Window, a dark exploration into the human psyche and deep trauma. Read on for details!

Bluebird at My Window

Publication Date: February 15th, 2022

Genre: Dark Fiction/ Psychological

When faced with trauma, how would you react?

Would you survive, succumb, or lose yourself to your own meaning of justice?

Ann was only seventeen when she died. She tried to be a dutiful daughter, to pray, to repent. But it wasn’t enough. Her mother, Diane, didn’t mean to kill her but when she found Ann consorting with devils, she had no choice. She believed the angels—that in the end, the water would save them both. 

But every choice holds weight.

One death, and Arthur is thrown back into the work he wanted to leave. One death, and Richard must face the reality of his choices. One death, and Maddie and Marie are confronted with the hardest parts of love. 

If only good intentions were enough to keep them from the carnage of their own decisions . . .

A dark contemporary fiction drenched in blood, this debut novel from H. Noah has an intricate true crime feeling with psychological depth.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Portland, Maine

Friday, October 14, 2016

Diane Loucks

The water swelled like a second skin around her fingers. Thick flesh-colored tendrils, clinging to the newly pure.

Light scattered through the small window, burning white hot across the chipped tile, curled wallpaper, and filth. Everything within this small house on a hill still festered with the sin of her—my daughter.

She’d fought me as she always had. Her arm draped over the side of the old claw tub, almost at ease, even bent back at an odd angle. I’d forgotten to turn off the water completely, but I couldn’t get up. I was fixed against the ground, watching as the water gathered and fell from her pale fingertips. No more rush, no more panic. Each drop reached slowly to the floor, hitting the tile with a soft pink splash.

It was done.

My naked flesh numbed to the bitter tile as I lay at the tub’s feet. Each fold of skin stretched, suctioning to the floor, holding me in place. Something had gone wrong in the blessing. I’d stripped myself in preparation but she’d refused, made me pull clothing to ribbons as I blessed the water.

When she didn’t wake up, I’d called the preacher. Tried to understand what had happened, why the angels had lied.

But he was useless.

That’s when I slid to the floor, streaking the wall behind me with her blood. Ichor that still clung to my skin and the floor beneath.

Fraud. Liar.

You did the right thing.

                         It should have worked.

It did.

Pure!

Why didn’t it work?

 She’s clean now. The preacher was unholy.

Why hasn’t she risen?

You were the unclean one.

The scream ripped from within me. I wanted quiet, needed it. I scratched my ears, ripping my body from the tile.

The pain worked, but not well enough.

I slammed knuckles into my skull.

Not enough.

Thump.

Thump.

Thump.

My skull reverberated against the hard ceramic. The sharp ache purified, but didn’t silence. So I kept crashing into it as skin split across my forehead, turning my vision burgundy. It gave me something to focus on, to control.

The demons didn’t like that.

I could hear them in the walls, closing around me. Devils playing tricks as they reached from beneath the wallpaper, touching. I thrashed against them all, gouging holes into the small space. Drywall fingers ripped through flesh as my blood seeped and spilled to the floor, covering hers. The air was suffocating, poisoned, thick, and sandy.

They wanted to silence me.

But still I screamed.

They wanted me quiet, malleable to their will.

Everyone did.

I wanted to fracture the foundation.

Thump

Thump

Thump

I tasted the blood, metallic on my tongue, as it sieved through teeth. Even my voice betrayed me in the end, as screams rasped silent.

My body calmed as shame rippled through me. My eyes trailed back toward the tub, but I couldn’t bring myself to look at her. I watched the drops instead as they spread beneath.

“Liars . . .” My throat, raw and unyielding, graveled to the forced whisper.

The angel said she’d be reborn if I cleansed her with word and water. The passage in question still echoed mockingly.

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from your idols I will cleanse you.

I looked back down. The water was staining the floor poppy pink, clear but iridescent as it swelled to reach me. I shrank from its edges, slipping slowly in my own blood as I pushed back, cornering myself. The water couldn’t hide what I did, couldn’t erase her blood, only magnified each feature in rose-colored hues.

This morning had been like the rest. Peace within the daily observances. But the angels knew. Whispered. Prodded me to spy. Helped me catch her as she talked to that unclean deceiver.

I’d warned her how evil hides in the pure things, but she persisted. Fed and entertained that bluebird, but I knew better. It’s why I hadn’t questioned when the Good Book appeared in my hand or why I beat the demon within her again and again. The word of God turning fat and satiated with her penance.

I wanted to stop, but the angels whispered. Pushed me to finish.

To bring her back to the Lord.

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About the Author

They’ve been a massage therapist, social worker, poet, teacher, and more. Picking up a B.A. in Criminology and an M.S. in I-O Psychology. They’ve also lived in Alaska, Maine and many places in-between. They are currently still trying to find a forever place as they travel the US.

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