Uncategorized

Book Blitz – The Exit Strategy


Women’s Fiction

Audio Book Release – February 2021

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press



Tech executive Carly can’t wait to marry the man of her dreams. But her world is turned upside down when she discovers her fiancé is already wed to Ryn — her company’s top investor! Can the two women overcome heartbreak together?

Silicon Valley investor Ryn Brennan is on the verge of achieving everything she dreamed. She’s succeeded in the sexist venture capital world, has a supportive husband, and is about to close the deal of her career. Everything is going exactly as planned, until she meets her husband’s mistress, across the negotiating table.

Carly clawed her way back from being a teenage runaway to become an accomplished scientist, caring single mom, and co-founder of her startup. Once she marries her loving fiancé, she’ll secure the complete family she craves. But she’s blindsided to discover her not so perfect fiancé is already married.

In an industry full of not-so-subtle sexism, can the two women rise above, and work together to overcome heartbreak, and ensure their success?



Critic Reviews

Strong women faced with timely struggles. Friendship, forgiveness, and moments of heartfelt laughter. You won’t forget these courageous characters.” Rochelle Weinstein, USA Today bestselling author

SO MUCH FUN. Incredibly fast paced and satisfying, with two believable protagonists and one guy so bad you’ll be dying to see if he get what he deserves.” (K J Dell’Antonia, New York Times bestselling author)

5 Stars! Secrets, betrayals and vulture like venture capitalists will keep you on the edge of your seat.” (Miss W Book Reviews)


Audiobook Excerpt Available at

Soundcloud


About The Author

Lainey Cameron is an author of women’s fiction and a recovering tech industry executive. Her award-winning novel, The Exit Strategy, a #1 Amazon Best Seller, was inspired by a decade of being the only woman in the corporate boardroom. It’s been called a “rallying call for women to believe in themselves and join together”.

A digital nomad–meaning she picks locations around the world to live (and write) for months at a time–Lainey is an avid instagrammer, and loves to share her insights. She loves to connect with readers and audio listeners at http://www.laineycameron.com

She’s a proud member and volunteer with Women’s Fiction Writers Association, hosts an Instagram TV show called The Best of Women’s Fiction, and believes community makes the author’s life worthwhile. Originally from Scotland, Lainey has a soft spot for kilts, good malt whisky, and anything equine.


Contact Links

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

BookBub

Promo Link


Purchase Links

Audiobook:

Amazon

Audible

iBooks

Libro

Kobo

Google Play

Chirp Books


eBook:

Amazon

B&N

Overdrive

iBooks

Kobo

Google Play

 

RABT Book Tours & PR
Uncategorized

Book Blitz – Loser’s Gumbo

Bullet Books Speed Reads #13

Crime Fiction/Mystery/Thriller

Date Published: September 17, 2020

Publisher: Starpath Books, LLC

 

photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

 

LOSER’S GUMBO

MURDER WITH A DASH OF ZYDECO…

 

When Mack Mouton finds a dead body in a drum case, Louisiana police suspect
him of the murder. As Mack travels the South, and performs with his band, he
becomes the target of the real killer. Mack is sucked into danger and
intrigue, and discovers a mystery about his deceased father. Will Mack be
the next body in the drum case?

Or…will he evade the killer and solve the puzzle?

 

BULLET BOOKS

ON A PLANE… ON A TRAIN…FASTER THAN A SPEEDING BULLET!

 

Bullet Books are speed reads for the busy traveler, commuter, and
beach-goer. All are new original crime fiction stories that can be read in
two to three hours. Gripping cinematic mysteries and thrillers by your
favorite authors!

Page turners for fans who want to escape into a good read.

ALL ABOARD!

 

 

 

Manning Wolfe

 Manning Wolfe, an award-winning author and attorney residing in Austin,
Texas, writes cinematic-style, fast-paced crime fiction. Her legal thriller
series features Austin Lawyer, Merit Bridges. Manning is co-author of the
popular Bullet Books Speed Reads, a series of crime fiction books for
readers on the go.

As a graduate of Rice University and the University of Texas School of Law,
Manning’s experience has given her a voyeur’s peek into some
shady characters’ lives and a front row seat to watch the good people
who stand against them.

 

Contact Links

Manning Wolfe Website

Facebook

Instagram: @manningwolfe

Twitter: @manningwolfe 

Blog

Goodreads

Sign up for newsletter

 

John T. Davis

 JOHN T. DAVIS has co-authored, under the pen name Miles Arceneaux, five
thrillers set on the Texas Gulf Coast. The first novel in the series, Thin
Slice of Life
, was followed by La Salle’s Ghost, Ransom Island, North
Beach,
and the latest volume, Hidden Sea. His Bullet Book Speed Read,
co-authored under his own name, is Loser’s Gumbo. A journalist by
trade, John makes his home in Austin, Texas.

 

Contact Links

Book Series Website

Twitter: @bulletbooksSR

Instagram

 

Purchase Link

Amazon

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

RABT Book Tours & PR
99p books · book blitz · historical · Regency Romance · romance · Uncategorized

Release Blitz – Tempting the Scoundrel

House of Devon, Book 3

 

Historical Romance, Regency Romance

Release Date: September 23, 2020

 

photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

 

Only $.99

September 23-27

 

Below stairs is where the romance begins..

As the most distinguished watchmaker in England, Christian Bainbridge believes in accurate timepieces, not love. He secretly offered his heart years ago, and he’s never gotten it back. When Raine Mowbray stumbles into his life again, Christian realizes the woman he’s worshiped from afar is still the woman he desires above all others.

Raine Mowbray needs solitude and employment, not love. A housemaid forced to flee a loathsome earl’s grasp, the last thing she’s seeking is a man’s amorous attention. When she finds herself unexpectantly paired with a gorgeous watchmaker in need of an assistant, she’s unnerved by his wit, kindness—and clandestine devotion to her.

If you like spirited heroines who fight falling in love and charmingly arrogant heroes who think they know best, then this is the book for you! Snuggle up with Tempting the Scoundrel, a steamy second chance, love-at-first-sight Regency Romance!

 

This is a Downton Abbey-ish novella at 98 pages and 25K words!!

 

Find the entire House of Devon Series on Amazon

 

 

 

About the Author

 

Award-winning author Tracy Sumner’s storytelling career began when she picked up a historical romance on a college beach trip, and she fondly blames LaVyrle Spencer for her obsession with the genre. She’s a recipient of the National Reader’s Choice, and her novels have been translated into Dutch, German, Portuguese and Spanish. She lived in New York, Paris and Taipei before finding her way back to the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

When not writing sizzling love stories about feisty heroines and their temperamental-but-entirely-lovable heroes, Tracy enjoys reading, snowboarding, college football (Go Tigers!), yoga, and travel. She loves to hear from romance readers!

 

Sign up for my newsletter HERE

 

Contact Links

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

BookBub

Promo Link

 

 

Purchase Link

Amazon

 

Only $.99

September 23-27

 

RABT Book Tours & PR
blog tour · book review · historical fiction · Uncategorized

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Girl from The Hermitage

The Girl from the Hermitage

Galina was born into a world of horrors. So why does she mourn its passing?

It is December 1941, and eight-year-old Galina and her friend Vera are caught in the siege of Leningrad, eating wallpaper soup and dead rats. Galina’s artist father Mikhail has been kept away from the front to help save the treasures of the Hermitage. Its cellars could provide a safe haven, as long as Mikhail can survive the perils of a commission from one of Stalin’s colonels.

Three decades on, Galina is a teacher at the Leningrad Art Institute. What ought to be a celebratory weekend at her forest dacha turns sour when she makes an unwelcome discovery. The painting she starts that day will hold a grim significance for the rest of her life, as the old Soviet Union makes way for the new Russia and her world changes out of all recognition.

Warm, wise and utterly enthralling, Molly Gartland’s debut novel guides us from the old communist era, with its obvious terrors and its more surprising comforts, into the bling of 21st-century St Petersburg. Galina’s story is an insightful meditation on ageing and nostalgia as well as a compelling page-turner.

Purchase Links

http://eye-books.com/books/the-girl-from-the-hermitage (20% off with discount code HERMITAGETOUR. Free UK p&p)


https://www.amazon.co.uk/Girl-Hermitage-Molly-Gartland-ebook/dp/B087BZSXN5

https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Hermitage-Molly-Gartland-ebook/dp/B087BZSXN5

Author Bio

 

Originally from Michigan, Molly Gartland worked in Moscow from 1994 to 2000 and has been fascinated by Russian culture ever since.

She has an MA in Creative Writing from St Mary’s University, Twickenham and lives in London.

The manuscript for her debut novel The Girl from the Hermitage was shortlisted for the Impress Prize and longlisted for the Mslexia Novel Competition, the Bath Novel Award and Grindstone Novel Award.

Social Media Links – @molbobolly Twitter

 

My Review

Sometimes, you just know when you’re reading something special. From the opening scene, I had no doubt this would be an exceptional story.

As Mikhail scrapes a strip of wallpaper for that night’s soup to share with his daughter, Galina, the mood is set to perfection. What he can offer her is not enough, he knows that all too well, but he’s doing his best. Having lost his wife not long ago, she is all he has, and all that matters.

When he is commissioned to paint a portrait of The Colonel’s two sons, despite his misgivings, he knows he has to do it. For Galina. Moving in to The Hermitage is an added bonus. There’s more food available, as well as place for him to work. The moment the job starts, and he arrives at the colonel’s home, he is met with opulence and affluence. Theirs is a life so far removed from his own and so many others in Leningrad. Stealing a few biscuits and an apple or two here and there to take home to Galina is a risk he is willing to take. When so few have so much, how can it possibly be wrong? Yet, he knows it is wrong, and fears the consequences if he should be caught.

These slight touches of humanity speak volumes. And, it is with such humility that Galina grows into adulthood. A talented artist like her father, the story progresses forward and depicts Galina’s life through the decades as a wife, mother, grandmother and friend. Family matters become her priority as society changes and more prosperity comes her way, though she never quite gets used to the “bling” lifestyle of her son and his family. Galina is very much a product of her upbringing.

The story has a biographical quality to it, and in that sense it is quite slow, yet rich in detail, and the world of art and painting is woven through every event connecting the generations.

Beautifully written, highly absorbing and hugely fascinating.

For more news and reviews,

As always,

Uncategorized

Audiobook Tour ‘n’ Review – Blood Lies

Audiobook Blog Tour: Blood Lies by Andrew Cunningham

Author: Andrew Cunningham

Narrator: Greg Hernandez

Length: 6 hours 12 minutes

Series: Lies Mystery Thriller Series, Book 5

Publisher: Andrew Cunningham

Released: Mar. 17, 2020

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Add on Goodreads Continue reading “Audiobook Tour ‘n’ Review – Blood Lies”

blog tour · book review · Contemporary Romance · France · Giveaways · Uncategorized · women's fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Summer in Provence (with giveaway)

Summer in Provence

Is a change as good as a rest?

When married couple Fern and Aiden have a windfall, their reactions could not be more different. While Fern is content to pay off their mortgage and build a nest egg before starting a family, her husband is set on traveling the world.

Fern’s not much of a back-packer so, before she knows it, the idea of a ‘marriage gap year’ takes shape. And, as Aiden heads off to the wilds of Australia, Fern chooses the more restful Provence for her year out.

Set amidst the glorious French scenery, Château de Vernon offers a retreat from the hustle and bustle of normal life, and Fern agrees to help out in return for painting lessons from the owner – renowned, but rather troubled, painter Nico.

As their year unfolds in very different ways, will the time apart transform their marriage, or will it drive Fern and Aiden even further apart…

Let Lucy Coleman whisk you off on a heart-warming, sun-drenched and magical French adventure.

Purchase Link

Amazon: https://smarturl.it/SummerInProvence

Author Bio

From interior designer to author, Linn B. Halton – who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman – says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’

Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels – including Summer on the Italian Lakes, Snowflakes over Holly Cove, The French Adventure and A Cottage in the Country. She is represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.

 

When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture, working in the garden, or practising Tai Chi.

Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she is an eternal romantic.

Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the SoA and writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.

Social Media Links

 

Website: http://lucycolemanromance.com/

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LucyColemanAuthor/

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LucyColemanauth

Giveaway to Win a signed paperback of ‘A Springtime to Remember’ and a Boldwood Tote bag (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

RAFFLECOPTER LINK

 


My Review

4.5/5 stars

This book took me totally by surprise. I’ll admit to struggling to get into the story at first, but after the first 20% I was hooked. For me, the preamble to Fern and Aiden took an inordinate amount of time, but soon after I could understand why the author had taken her time at the outset. 

It was such an original storyline which was what initially attracted me, as well as having read previous books by the author. She has always managed to ground me totally to the location of her stories, whether it be Versailles, or now in Provence. I felt like Fern’s shadow, not just witnessing what she saw but understanding her concerns, her pain, and latterly her new found joy of painting. If it were possible, I’d be booking my tickets there right away. 

The pacing turned out to be perfect for this story; the slow start necessary, the settling in scenes vital, and the ending just beautiful but not without some heartache on the way. 

A story of self-discovery that felt so natural, unhurried, atmospheric, and captivating. Not your traditional romance, but definitely one that suited me, and one that will make me pick up more of this author’s books in an instant. Lucy Coleman is an author I trust implicitly to deliver a complete experience.

If you decide to delve in – and you should – be prepared to let the story happen at its own pace. You’ll be glad you waited for it. Fans of upmarket women’s fiction will love this. 

As always, 

Audiobook · murder mystery · mystery · paranormal · series · Uncategorized

Audiobook Tour ‘n’ Review – The Soul Searchers Mysteries: Donn’s Hill

Audiobook Series Blog Tour: The Soul Searchers Mysteries by Caryn Larrinaga

Author: Caryn Larrinaga

Narrator: Jessica McEvoy

Length: 9 hours 54 minutes

Series: The Soul Searchers Mysteries, Book 1

Released: Aug. 1, 2017

Publisher: Twisted Tree Press

Genre: Supernatural Cozy Mystery

“Grief can change us… rewire our brains and shift the way we look at the world…”

After returning home from her father’s funeral to find her boyfriend in bed with another woman, Mackenzie Clair is looking for a fresh start. She thinks she’ll find it in her favorite childhood vacation spot, but returning to Donn’s Hill awakens more than nostalgia. Mac regains a lost psychic ability to talk to the dead, and the poltergeist haunting her apartment is desperate to make her use that gift to find his killer.

Aided by her new roommate – a spirited Tortoiseshell cat named Striker, and the ghost-hunting crew of the nationally televised show Soul Searchers, Mac struggles to learn how to use her powers. But she’d better get a handle on them fast, because someone in town is hiding a deadly secret. If Mac can’t somehow divine the truth, Donn’s Hill will never be the same.

Buy on Audible

Caryn Larrinaga is a self-described horror evangelist and paranormal junkie. Her debut supernatural mystery novel, DONN’S HILL, won the League of Utah Writers 2017 Silver Quill Award in the adult novel category and was a 2017 Dragon Award finalist. Her short fiction has won multiple honors and been featured in local and international anthologies. Watching scary movies through split fingers terrified Caryn as a child, and those nightmares inspire her to write now. She lives near Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and their clowder of cats. Visit http://www.carynlarrinaga.com for free short stories and audiobooks.

WebsiteTwitterFacebookInstagramGoodreads

Narrator Bio

Between peddling video games and teaching yoga in her home state of Arizona, Jessica McEvoy attempts to conduct a career as a professional voice actress. This, however, is moderately undermined by the fact that she records in a dimly lit closet with her microphone balanced on a stack of old board games (Junior Scrabble and Powerpuff Girls Monopoly form a strong foundation), but she hopes that no one holds that against her.

Though her main work consists of narrating audiobooks, her first dive into the voice world was through the NoSleep podcast after answering a post from the LibriVox forums. Having been raised on horror movies and scary stories, she was beyond excited to be able to work on the show. Many stories, tortured screams, deranged villains, and creepy little girl giggles later, Jessica hopes to work on the podcast for seasons and seasons to come.

Twitter

5/5 stars

Not many towns can boast an annual paranormal festival, but Donn’s Hill is a town like no other. Everyone has an aura, a vibe or a fascination with the paranormal. There’s even a dedicated team of ghost hunters for a TV show. Not that Mac knew this when she moved there, though she did remember her mom taking her to the festival when she was a child. It’s probably her only memory of her mom whose maternal instinct was somewhat lacking. Raised by her father, recently passed, and finding her boyfriend is a cheat, Mac packs up her belongings and heads for Donn’s Hill where she discovers an ability to communicate with the dead, who are most eager to talk to her. 

Mac is a likeable character, a true bookworm, an introvert, and coffee addict – how could I not like her? 😉 

Learning her new “apartment” has a ghost is the least of her problems to start with, and she keeps the fact to herself for some time, trying hard to adapt to her new surroundings and not wishing to cause a fuss. At least she has Striker the cat to share her woes. Not just any cat though, Striker comes to her defence many a time, and especially when it matters most. When her apartment ghost proves more difficult, then she calls for help from the town’s medium, Gabriela to rid her space of the now-frantic poltergeist. 

Mac starts working for the ghost-hunting team, as they recognise her affinity with the spirit world, and how she seems to attract the very ghosts they are looking for. Except, ghost-hunting leads to her finding some more recently deceased residents. Solving these murders now becomes a priority. 

The narration by Jessica McEvoy is well done; she plays the characters with differing tone making it easy to follow. Combined with an intriguing storyline, fascinating backdrops, and well-rounded characters the story comes alive in all its creepy eeriness and Mac’s moments of vulnerability.

Stand-out moments: Striker takes first place, swiftly followed by that windstorm …and then it’s all topped off with a great ending. I’m hooked and in this for the long haul – bring on book two!
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Caryn Larrinaga. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Plugging you into the audio community since 2016.

Sign up as a tour host here.

As always,

Uncategorized

Dear Indie | I Didn’t Know I Could Do That! (Free resource post)

How cool is this info?

A.C. Melody

Hi Indies!

Did you know you could make your own vectors AND remove the backgrounds from any image for FREE –without using Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, or Gimp?

I didn’t! Not until I was determined to combine one of my drawings with a photo. Normally, I would purposely set out to find two images with the same color background, so I can use the “arrangement” feature to lay one on top of the other…

Um…

Since that obviously wasn’t going to work having different color backgrounds, I tried using the transparent filter to make one bleed through the other, but it was way too faint…

Yikes!

Frustrated that I wasn’t getting the effect I was looking for, I thought about my last couple of resource posts and how I’d run across that site with a free SVG editor and got the idea that maybe if I could turn my drawing into…

View original post 377 more words

adventure · blog tour · book review · historical · mystery · NetGalley · thriller · Uncategorized

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – VanOps: The Lost Power

VanOps: The Lost Power by Avanti Centrae Banner

 

 

VanOps: The Lost Power

by Avanti Centrae

on Tour November 4, 2019 – January 10, 2020

Synopsis:

VanOps: The Lost Power by Avanti Centrae

Da Vinci Code meets Tomb Raider in this award-winning thriller that #1 NYT’s author James Rollins called, “Full of action and suspense.”

Spain 1057: During a thunderous battle, the first King of Aragon wrestles Alexander the Great’s priceless Egyptian weapon from the Moors, but finds it holds a terrifying and mysterious power.

A thousand years later, on a hushed, fog-shrouded, Napa morning, gunshots and the sound of breaking glass rip through the silence. Maddy Marshall, an app designer and aikido instructor, and her twin brother, Will Argones, an engineer, quickly run toward the sound. Horrified, they discover a sniper’s bullet has found its human target.

Before the pool of blood on the living room floor is dry, the twins are sent on an arcane quest to recover Alexander’s ancient weapon. Joined by a VanOps covert agent, they soon discover the rifle’s sights are now set on them. No place is safe, a wrong move means death, and even a simple phone call is off limits if they are to survive.

From a medieval Spanish castle, they follow a time-worn trail, starting at a secret warren under the streets of Jerusalem. But if the killer finds the weapon first, it will be used to cripple the United States’ eye-in-the-sky early warning systems, allowing the Russians to swoop in and prey on the vulnerable nation.

Can Maddy learn to wield the power of the dangerous weapon in time to stop the Russian scheme? Failure means the fragile world peace will be forever shattered…

Critical Praise for VanOps: The Lost Power

“Avanti Centrae’s VanOps: The Lost Power opens a tantalizing new series that combines historical mystery and cutting-edge science into a masterwork of international intrigue—with the promise of more to follow. Written with a dynamic, cinematic style and full of action and suspense, here’s a book that defines page-turner. Don’t miss this riveting debut!” ~ James Rollins, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Crucible “Just a good ole’ fashioned rip-roaring adventure from start to finish. Enjoy the ride.” ~ Steve Berry, New York Times best-selling author “A high-stakes, daring adventure charged with suspense and mystery!” ~ Ann Charles, USA TODAY bestselling author of the Deadwood Mystery Series “The writing is superb. Easy to read and captivating. There is a mixture of mystery and action that keeps me turning pages. Readers who like Indiana Jones, or the books by James Patterson, Tom Clancy, and Vince Flynn, will enjoy Centrae’s first installment in her VanOps series.” ~ John Bernstein, Professional Reviewer

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller Published by: Black Opal Books Publication Date: November 9th 2019 Number of Pages: 308 ISBN: 1644371960 (ISBN13: 9781644371961) Series: VanOps #1 Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

Napa Valley, California, June 25, 8:56 a.m., Present Day Through the crosshairs of his long-barreled sweetheart, Ivan scanned the wood-casement window of the vineyard’s stone-walled residence, and waited for his intended target to walk into view. His movements were slow and meticulous. Lying in the loft of an old barn, he calculated range, altitude, temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed, and humidity. His skin was irritated by the coarse hay that surrounded him, but he ignored the sensation and focused on his calculations. Click. He made a minor adjustment on his rifle to account for the drop of the round due to air density. And another for windage. Although misty rivers of fog swirled into gray whirlpools around the winery, the computer enhanced scope of his Springfield EBR allowed him to visually lock onto the home’s large bank of windows. Human movement flickered behind the glass. He didn’t want to pull the trigger. Nevertheless, Ivan waited for the perfect moment, the perfect shot.

CHAPTER 2

8:57 a.m. As she headed toward her father’s vineyard, Maddy drove as fast as she dared down a familiar tree-lined Napa country lane. Today, she didn’t recognize the road. It looked eerie and unnatural. The area was draped in sheets of fog from yesterday’s unseasonable rain, and the silver half-light gave the trees an ethereal patina. “Sensei, would you kill someone if you had to?” AJ asked. Surprised, Maddy frowned. “I’m not a sensei yet, remember?” She paused for a moment before she replied to his query. “Where did that question come from?” “We were talking about it in the locker room at the dojo after class. We know aikido is about non-violence, but what if you don’t have a choice?” His voice dropped to a dramatic whisper. “What if it was kill or be killed?” Maddy shook her head. The things children thought about. “I would always look for another way.” She glanced over at AJ, glad she’d brought him along today. His ears stuck out and his face was dotted with freckles. She found him adorable. “Okay. Can martial arts masters light paper on fire with just their hands?” Maddy halted the car at a stop sign and peered through the swirling patchy-dense fog, trying to get her bearings while she figured out how to answer this question. The mist distorted everything. She turned right. Without warning, a smothering mass of black rustling feathers flew toward the car. She flinched in her seat and slammed on the car brakes. Her heart pounded. She stopped breathing and scanned the road ahead of her. After a long moment, she realized with chagrin that she had just scared a bunch of ugly, red-faced black turkey vultures into flight by turning onto a new road after a stop sign. She took a deep breath. It wasn’t like her to be so jumpy. She was, after all, shodan, a first-dan black belt. But the sudden movement of wings, obscured through the morning’s foggy haze, had pulled her off balance. Maddy gave the car some gas and it inched forward down the road. Maddy looked over at AJ. “Are you okay?” AJ laughed. “I’m okay. But that scared you!” “Did not!” Maddy replied, twisting her ponytail. “Did too—I saw you jump! And you smashed on the brakes.” Maddy grinned for a moment at the childish banter and AJ’s creative language. It could be a happy day, in spite of everything. She loved AJ, she and Vincent had even talked about adopting him. Vincent, her former fiancé. Of course, that was before the breakup. Since then, she’d been feeling brittle, and the nightmare last night didn’t help. The dream was gut-wrenching. Although the sensation had faded in the dim light of morning, much of it lingered like a bad relationship. That dream was probably why she was on edge and had jumped at the thrashing wings. She looked at the dash clock—only a few minutes late. Heart still beating faster than normal, she turned down the long shadowy driveway of the once proud vineyard.

CHAPTER 3

9:02 a.m. Up in the old barn, Ivan was close to the target, only seventy meters from the glass curtain that separated him from his quarry. Although the misty morning limited his visibility, he felt confident in his ability to execute the task Baron Sokolov had assigned to him. Ivan recalled much longer-range kills. Two months ago, from a nearby skyscraper, he’d eliminated a traitorous spy during a French soccer match, piercing the man’s forehead as directed. His record was just under two thousand meters, one hundred fifty meters shy of the longest recorded sniper kill in history. But he reminded himself to stay vigilant and cautious, traits that had earned him medals as one of Russia’s most accurate shooters. Being watchful was his nature. It was the silver lining of his disorder, congenital analgesia, which made him insensitive to pain. My gift from Mother, he thought. Ivan wondered where on his body he would mark this job. His left arm was covered in sets of hash marks—scars, where he had marked his kills. He started scarring himself in school to impress the other children, and in time it had become a blood ritual after a task to remind himself to be careful, that he too could die. After this morning, it would be time to add another scar. At one hundred and fifty-five confirmed kills, he had scars on both thighs, both arms, and was running out of room for the marks. Soon he would catch up to the kills his grandmother had recorded during World War II. After Germany had invaded, she had volunteered for the military and had one hundred and seventy-nine confirmed kills to her credit. Impressive. He remembered how she had taught him to shoot when he was young. She had a fondness for killing rabbits and he could still picture their crimson blood sprayed on the bright Siberian snow. However, patience was her favorite lesson and it had served him well. A puff of wind tugged at a windmill in the distance, and the melancholy creak of metal scratching metal disturbed the morning silence. He held his breath and listened for any sound to indicate he’d been discovered. There was nothing further, only an unnatural, muted quiet. Focused on his breathing and the window, he continued to wait for a clean shot. He was tired of killing, but he had to do his job. This last job. Or his son would die.

CHAPTER 4

9:05 a.m. Maddy’s car hit a pothole on the vineyard’s long gravel driveway. It annoyed her that Dad hadn’t said what was so urgent, and she’d been too distracted with the breakup to call him back. As she drew closer to the house, she was irritated to see Will was playing fog-fetch with the dog in the front yard. What is he doing here? Did dad call all the siblings? Bella, too? Will waved, walked toward an obnoxious sky-blue convertible that must be a rental, and opened the trunk. Maddy parked by Will’s car, near the house. She wished Dad would get the place painted. It was overdue and made the house look dilapidated in the gloom. Barking, her dad’s middle-aged golden retriever ran up to the car. “A dog! Can I play with the dog?” AJ asked, true excitement in his voice. “Sure, just don’t head too far into the vineyard,” Maddy replied. “His name is Squirrel.” AJ bounded from the car and ran off, chasing the dog through the murky, fog-bound yard. Will closed the trunk of the Mustang, moved around to the side of the car, and watched AJ and the dog playing. Dressed in his usual style, he wore tan cargo shorts, leather sandals, and a dark-blue Ralph Lauren polo shirt. Ever prepared for disaster, he had a small flashlight hanging from the front of his shorts, and she figured he had a knife in his pocket. He was holding two small travel bags and managed to cradle a book in his hand. Without a doubt, a geeky physics book. Maddy had avoided prolonged contact with Will since their senior year in high school when he had pulled that awful prank. She had turned her back on him then, and her face flushed with the memory. As she opened her car door, she stood and swung her hair out of her face. Then she shut the door and walked over to him. It was so foggy and quiet, she didn’t even hear songbirds. Maddy tried to keep the annoyance out of her voice. “Hello, Will.” After they’d spent time apart, she was always surprised at the strength of their emotional bond. She couldn’t believe he was happy to see her—he had no shame! She had felt some connection to her boyfriends, Vincent included—I hate you right now, Vincent—and sometimes to her students at the dojo. But the connection was always strongest with Will, her twin, like it or not. He felt content now. She had almost missed his charm. Will flashed his irksome, boyish, lopsided grin. “Hey, Maddy, it’s good to see you! Did you have a safe drive?” To meet her, he walked around toward the front of the car. She noted his dark curly hair looked ruffled and a little shorter than the last time she’d seen him. His green eyes looked pinched, as if he were worried about something. Dad sometimes teased that they all had Spanish olives for eyes, but she enjoyed sharing the feature. She just wished she’d been blessed with Will’s long eyelashes, instead of having to create them every day with mascara. Maddy studied Will’s face. She noticed that the scar on his chin was almost hidden by a fashionable new beard that he’d grown since she’d seen him last year at Christmas dinner. The scar was always a painful reminder of the childhood accident that killed their mother. As he put down the bags, he scratched the beard, casually leaned back against the hood of the Mustang, and crossed his long lanky legs. She knew protocol called for a hug, and considered it. Rejecting the idea, she also ignored his worrywart question about the safe drive. “Did you leave Maria in Brazil?” Maddy could tell from his eyes that Will didn’t understand her cold shoulder, and she didn’t care. He had never made amends for that thoughtless stunt back in high school and she wasn’t going to let him off the hook. “No, I brought her with me,” he replied. Remembering her nightmare, Maddy’s gut clenched. She tried to ignore it. “We’ve both been working too hard.” Instead, she lashed out, her voice rising more than she intended. “Was that wise? Bringing her? Do you even know what Dad wants?” Will took a deep breath. “Gee, sis, simmer down. I thought I was the worrier of the family.” He met her gaze. “Maria was up for a change of scenery so we planned a romantic wine-country vacation. You know, the train, mud baths, that sort of thing? We might even stop by Safari West. Besides, you brought company.” He nodded toward AJ. “Who’s the little guy?” “His name is AJ. He’s a foster kid from the dojo and it’s his birthday.” She watched AJ and the dog play a spontaneous game of tag. “Is that all Dad wants with us? A vacation? He sounded concerned on the message he left me. And didn’t mention you’d be here, or Bella. Is she coming? He didn’t even say why he wanted me to come, which just seems odd. Did you talk with him?” “Bella is on her way, but no, we didn’t talk before I came up. I hope nothing is wrong. We just got here and haven’t had a chance to visit much, but he did mention he had some disconcerting news.” He paused. “You feel upset. What are you not telling me? What’s the big deal?” On days like today, Maddy hated that the emotional bond between them worked both ways. She didn’t feel like telling him anything, especially about the dream. Irritated, she looked around for a way out of the conversation but didn’t see one. The sun was hidden, the vineyard foggy and subdued, like it was holding its breath. She clenched her teeth and took a deep breath of her own. “I had a dream last night.” Now his tone sharpened a notch. “What kind of dream?” “A bad one. Maria was in it. I woke up early and it’s stuck with me since.” “Tell me,” he demanded. “I don’t know…there was blood on her face.” She remembered another dream she had when they were six. The night before their mom died. She knew by the look on his face that he was remembering that dream, too. “Blood on Maria’s face—” he frowned, thinking, questioning. “Yes, it was horrible. Splattered like a Pollock painting. I don’t remember much else. But the feeling is still with me.” Her mood picked up a little, having gotten it off her chest. “It’s probably nothing. I just wish you hadn’t brought her.” “Interesting,” he said. “You haven’t had one of those dreams in a while, have you? A real one?” “No,” she said. “It’s been a few years and the last was about a boyfriend cheating on me. The dream ended that relationship.” Will put his hands on his hips. “How is Vincent?” She grimaced. Irritated, Maddy turned and headed up the sidewalk toward the house. Will grabbed the bags and his book, and followed her, his feet padding on the concrete. As they walked, she remembered the lush landscaping that had been here once. It had provided a jumbled, colorful contrast to the acres and acres of straight green vines in the fields. Her father’s landscapers, back when he could afford them, had done well in this entry area. She couldn’t see it, but she inhaled the light scent of gardenia, and she recognized remnants of some sort of native grass, night-blooming jasmine, pansies, and roses. Vincent had brought her roses only three weeks ago. Bastard. “I see,” Will said. “So…maybe this dream was a reaction to whatever is going on there?” “Maybe—” she said. “I hope so.” Then she added, “Let’s go see what Dad wants.”

CHAPTER 5

9:15 a.m. Ivan tugged on the two-stage trigger, testing it. He was used to his Soviet bolt-action SV-98, but in the interest of time and ease of entry into the country, he had purchased a black-market rifle in the States. He was pleased with his choice, and glad it had come with a suppressor. The Enhanced Battle Rifle was decent—he tested it out yesterday in an isolated vineyard he found for the purpose. The rifle was a little heavy, but he liked the trigger-shoe modification the prior owner had done, as it gave the pull a more natural feel. He drew his attention back to the wood-casement window and twice glimpsed the oblivious inhabitant, dancing his way to death. A minute ago, the sound of car tires on gravel had come to him through the fog, so his partner, on lookout, should be reporting in. On cue, a voice in his head broke the morning stillness, “Green Prius has parked at the front of the house.” The sniper appreciated that he could hear his partner’s Russian voice clearly through the high-tech device, as he was old enough to remember missions without such advanced technology. “Driver?” he subvocalized the question, also in Russian, into the tiny molar microphone that had been custom formed to fit his teeth. “She’s female, young, maybe thirty. Slim, with an olive complexion. Has sexy long dark hair in a ponytail, and is tall. Pretty tall for a woman. Rape-bait if you ask me. Dressed in jeans and a snug purple T-shirt,” his partner said. On this job, his partner was here as much to keep an eye on him as to help, Ivan knew. The man’s simple mind and cruel nature were evident every time they worked together. The idiot had caused them to run late this morning. This part of the job should have been over an hour ago. Now it was getting complicated. “That’s not what we’re here for,” Ivan hissed. “Maybe. If so, you need to take your shot.” A few beats later his partner continued, “She was talking to the tall man next to the blue sports car. They look alike. Now they’re headed to the front door.” There was a long pause. The sniper adjusted his hold on the rifle, concentrating. He’d read the dossiers on Maddy Marshall and her twin brother, Will Argones. Argones was an engineer, no real threat. But the Marshall woman. A world-class athlete and national ski champion who had been a favorite for Olympic gold, she’d used her lightning-fast reflexes to become a warrior in an unusual martial art. And she was gifted with a keen intelligence. A dangerous combination. In another time and place, he’d have been interested in her as a mate. He swore. Based on his orders, their arrival meant he had run out of time. A low whistle pierced his ear. “Ivan, she’s got long legs. You know I like long legs, right? Why don’t we stick around and have some fun?” “You’re a pig and the baron was clear in our instructions,” the sniper replied, with heat in his tone. “You’re a bore. Oh, she had a kid with her in the car.” “A kid? What kid?” The dossier didn’t mention a child! That wasn’t part of the deal. I may go down in flames if the baron makes me shoot a kid. This target is one thing but— “How do I know what kid? He looks like he’s eight or nine. Red hair, big ears. He’s playing with the dog in the vineyard.” Ivan hoped the kid and dog were off in a different direction. At home, Ivan’s son might be playing with his own dog. But that thought was dangerous. “Just make sure they don’t come this way.” His attention back on the window, Ivan finally got a complete look at one of the other inhabitants: a short, dark-skinned woman. She wore a pale pink blouse above a blue skirt and Ivan prayed she would get out of the way. He didn’t like killing women. However, he knew that, whether he liked it or not, the latter part of the baron’s plan already called for its share of female bloodshed. The older man, near a black sofa, came into Ivan’s sights for a brief moment. It appeared that he and the younger woman were moving into the room with all the windows. Ivan knew it was time. Ivan was glad now they’d chosen a fast getaway car. “I must focus—go get the car ready.” The older man came completely into view. He was tall, clean-shaven, tan-skinned, with owlish glasses. His receding black hair was streaked with gray, and he wore slacks and a white button-down shirt. Yes, finally. But the woman was directly behind the target! Move, he willed to her. Please. This was the best shot he had. Time had run out! He had no choice but to urge her to move at the last minute. He took a slow, steady breath and tugged again on the two-stage trigger. Only this time, it wasn’t a test.

CHAPTER 6

9:20 a.m. AJ and Squirrel, done with the chase and on to a game of fetch, ran around the side yard, enjoying the grass and the feel of morning in the dense, wet fog. AJ loved all things nature. Feeling happy today made him miss his parents. He had vague memories of joyful times when they took him to his grandparent’s Ukrainian dairy farm. When the Russians came and killed his grandparents, his parents and he had fled to San Francisco. Then, one day, his mom and dad had been caught in the crossfire of a convenience store holdup while stopping for milk. That’s what he’d gathered, no one had told him. Since his parents’ death he’d been in foster care, because all of his family back in Ukraine were dead, too. He didn’t like his foster family because they ignored him, but he loved Maddy and did whatever his foster creeps asked so that he could go to the dojo. Maddy treated him the way his mom used to, warm and caring. Today, he was full of pleasure—hanging out with Maddy, getting to chase a dog outside. More than anything, he wanted a real family again. And a dog, just maybe not one named Squirrel. Someday, he’d get a big dog to protect him and name it Rufus, or Damien. AJ threw a stick and tried out the new name, “Damien, fetch!” After several minutes of chasing the stick in the side yard, AJ decided they should play a new game in the rows of vines. “C’mon, Damien,” he called as he ran into the shadows, followed by the panting dog. The morning was blissfully perfect as they ran up and down the rows. Then a loud crack sounded from the direction of the barns, like a tree branch breaking. He called his new canine friend and they headed off to investigate. *** Excerpt from VanOps: The Lost Power by Avanti Centrae. Copyright 2019 by Avanti Centrae. Reproduced with permission from Avanti Centrae. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Avanti Centrae International award-winning author who blends intrigue, history, science, and mystery into nonstop thrillers. Avanti Centrae is the author of the international award-winning VanOps thriller series. An avid world-traveler, she’s studied aikido, been a river raft guide, and thrives on adventure. Her book, The Lost Power, took home a genre grand prize blue ribbon at the Chanticleer International Book Awards, and an Honorable Mention at the 2018 Hollywood Book Festival. She resides in Northern California with her family and German Shepherds.

Catch Up With Avanti Centrae: avanticentrae.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

 

My Review

4/5 stars

As a fan of The Da Vinci Code, and basically any puzzle-based mystery, especially those with historical links, then I knew VanOps: The Lost Power would be right up my street. I wasn’t wrong.
A family reunion, at the request of their father, sees twins, Maddy & Will head to Napa, only for disaster to strike immediately with the sound of gunshots. The story is fast-paced, with them coming under fire themselves from the moment the quest is revealed to them by their dying father. A little bewildered by the whole idea of this “Lost Power” that can only be saved by them, they find themselves joining up with an old school friend, Bear, whose presence gives them the benefit of his military training, though he is not exactly what he seems. Fortunately, Bear’s presence also breaks up some of the friction between the siblings. 
Maddy and Will are “interesting” characters. Maddy seems to be able to do anything and everything with ease, and do it well, whereas Will is a bit of a whinger, and is envious of his sister’s strength – both physically and mentally. It comes as no shock, therefore, that when tested, only one of them is up to the task. Weirdly, Maddy harbours a great deal of resentment towards her brother too. Theirs is not a regular sibling relationship, and the reasons for their disconnect are not explored in great deal. Maybe, the next book in the series will be more revealing on that front.
The constant reference to Maddy’s limited Aikido skills does drag at times – as if it is the only reason she manages to complete some of the challenges. Also, some of the situations they find themselves in appear to be a tad far-fetched – the connection with the Spanish Royal Family in particular – but fiction is just that: make-believe, and it’s no more unusual than the plotlines of similar stories. 

This is an action-packed thriller as they cross borders and continents to save the world, testing their relationship constantly. The story is engaging by virtue of its settings and history as well as the quest, and the pure escapism will draw you in, if only to see how it all ends. I’d be interested to see how the series develops. 
I received a copy of this book via Partners in Crime book tours; my thanks to the author and Netgalley also. My review is given voluntarily. 
 
 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways! Click here to view the VanOps: The Lost Power by Avanti Centrae Participants

 

Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Avanti Centrae. There will be 2 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card each. The giveaway begins on November 4, 2019 and runs through January 13, 2020. Void where prohibited

a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js  

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

As always, 

Uncategorized

R&R Book Tours is pleased to offer mini blog tours (7 Stops) for $50! These tours will inc everything the larger pkgs do. Perfect for any budget (especially during the holiday season)! #Authors #AmWriting #Amediting #Books #Writerslife #WriterCommunity

https://wp.me/p7c5IP-ag4