Stolen Daughters (Detective Amanda Steele 2) by Carolyn Arnold @bookouture #BookReview #PublicationDay #BooksOnTour

Happy publication day to Carolyn Arnold for the second in the Detective Amanda Steele series Stolen Daughters! I’m going to sharing my review today but first a bit about the book:

Title: Stolen Daughters (Detective Amanda Steele 2) by Carolyn Arnold

Date Published: 6th April 2021

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Police Procedural

Description:

The girl looked so peaceful, she could have been asleep. Except her eyes were open, blankly reflecting the flickering flames spreading towards her…

When firefighters discover the body of a teenage girl at an abandoned house, Detective Amanda Steele hurries to the scene. Dumfries, Virginia is a small town, yet no one seems to have any idea who the dead girl is until Amanda finds a dragonfly pin with the name Crystal engraved on it.

Working tirelessly, Amanda traces the pin to Crystal Foster, a thirteen-year-old who disappeared three years ago from her wealthy parents’ home. Breaking the news to the distraught parents won’t be easy, but the loss of her own daughter still haunts Amanda, and she knows this will bring them closure. But when Amanda goes to see the Fosters, they do not recognize the girl. She isn’t Crystal.

Before Amanda can react to this new development, she gets an urgent call. A fire has consumed another vacant house, and the remains of two more girls have been found. Who are these girls, and why are they being picked off? Amanda must stop this killer before the pattern continues, and the death toll climbs.

When Amanda receives a taunting note from the killer, she realizes that she holds the missing piece of this puzzle. The victims are connected to Amanda’s past, to a case she can never forget, and which almost claimed her life. As she follows the clues to their deadly conclusion, can she save more innocent lives… even if it risks her own?

An unputdownable, pulse-pounding mystery. Fans of Rachel Caine, Lisa Regan and Robert Dugoni will be gripped.

You can buy your copy here:

Amazon: https://geni.us/B08WPSQM28social

Apple: http://ow.ly/eEQV50DDq10

Kobo: http://ow.ly/KR1V50DDpYb

Google: http://ow.ly/gEqy50DDq3Z

Review:

I want to thank Bookouture for providing me with a copy of Stolen Daughters in exchange for an honest review.

So this is my first Carolyn Arnold book but the second in the Amanda Steele series, but it’s easily read as a standalone. I would probably recommend going back to the first and starting there, just to get a bit more history of the characters.

The story opens with a young woman being found dead in an abandoned house after a fire was started deliberately. She’s got no ID and they do not know who the young girl is. Amanda Steele is assigned to the case with her partner Trent. Dealing with the aftermath of her last case, she has a higher up officer gunning for her badge. As the body count rises, the case takes a personal turn. Can Amanda deal with it all and solve the case?

Stolen Daughters is an American police procedural that leans more towards the procedural aspects with a bit of psychology thrown in there for good measure.

I usually read British police procedurals, but it made a nice change to read one set in a small town in America. I enjoyed seeing the differences and similarities between policing methods, although one thing they certainly have in common is all police officers seem to run on caffeine and junk food!

I do so love to get inside the mind of a killer, and it intrigued me to see little peeks into this killer’s twisted mind throughout the book.

I struggled a bit to warm up to Amanda at first. She’s a good cop but seems to rub a lot of people up the wrong way. She was also a bit standoffish, refusing to cross the boundaries between professional and perhaps friendship with her partner Trent. In future books I’d love to see a bit more of Trent, I feel there’s a lot of potential with his character.

I felt the pace was a little slow to start off with but it builds nicely to an action paced ending that leaves it open for the next in the series. 

Stolen Daughters is a realistic and gritty read with an ending that leaves you wanting more. 

About The Author:

CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international bestselling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has several continuing fiction series and has nearly thirty published books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures. Her crime fiction series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining. This led to her adopting the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.

She currently lives near London, Ontario, Canada with her husband and two beagles.

Author Social Media Links:

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/Carolyn_Arnold

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCarolynArnold

#PublicationDay Murder On The Island by Daisy White @DEWhiteAuthor #BookReview

Title: Murder On The Island by Daisy White

Date Published: 24th February 2021

Publisher: Bloodhound Books

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Description:

When recently divorced Chloe Canton is gifted her grandmother’s house in Bermuda in her will, it seems a perfect time for a fresh start.

Her chance at paradise comes with a rundown business, a neighbour who is putting pressure on her to sell up for development, and another who quickly makes herself comfortable in Chloe’s house.

If that wasn’t enough, Chloe discovers a dead body on the local riding trail soon after she arrives and finds herself dragged into a murder investigation.

With tensions rising and island gossip to contend with, as well as a murder in their midst, has Chloe bitten off more than she can chew?

Will Chloe stick it out and help solve the case or will paradise turn out to be too hot to handle?

Murder on the Island is the first book in the gripping Chloe Canton Mystery Series.

Review:

Regular visitors to this blog will know I’m a big Daisy White fan, so when I saw she was releasing a new cozy mystery series I knew I’d have to give it a go!

Chloe is newly divorced and looking for a fresh start when inherits her grandmother Dre’s house and stables in Bermuda, a place she spent the first years of her life. All doesn’t go smoothly. She finds out the stables are in trouble financially and someone seems intent on driving her out of business, to add to her troubles she finds a body close to her house. 

Murder on the island is a solid start to this cozy mystery series with a wonderful tropical setting which made a change from the drab greyness of British wintertime.

I loved the setting of Bermuda, which was vividly described and really reminded me of the show Death in Paradise. It also still contained the typical cozy mystery small-town feel where gossip is currency in the tight-knit community and can spread from one side of the island to the other quickly.

I liked Chloe. She’s not your typical sleuth, I always find most amateur sleuths are a little more nosey than she is, but she has a dogged determination that I admired while reading.

I felt I would have like a few more suspects, just to muddy the waters of the mystery a bit more, but there were still a couple of shocks and surprises along the way.

Murder on the island is a great bit of escapism for these trying times!

About The Author:

Daisy White/D.E White writes crime/thrillers and cosy crime. After numerous jobs, including being a flight attendant, a 999 call handler for the ambulance service, and a healthcare assistant in A&E, Daisy started writing full time in 2017. She lives on the Sussex coast, UK and has two children and a flock of rescued chickens.

A brand new crime thriller series, starting with GLASS DOLLS: Published by Joffe Books, the series follows former Elite Police Source Handler, Detective Dove Milson, in her first case for the Major Crimes Team. Book two, THE ICE DAUGHTERS is out now.

Daisy also writes cosy crime, including the Amazon bestselling RUBY BAKER SEASIDE MYSTERIES for Joffe Books. A brand new cosy crime series, THE CHLOE CANTON MYSTERIES, will be out in Feb 24th 2021, pub’d by Bloodhound Books and starting with MURDER ON THE ISLAND.

Standalones include psychological thriller REMEMBER ME and gangland thriller THE FORGOTTEN CHILD pub’d by HarperCollins.

Series in order:

Crime Thrillers – Detective Dove Milson:

1/3 GLASS DOLLS

2/3 THE ICE DAUGHTERS *New Release*

3/3 PLAY TIME

Cosy Mysteries:

The Ruby Baker Mysteries:

1/3 BEFORE I LEFT

2/3 BEFORE I FOUND YOU

3/3 BEFORE I TRUST YOU

The Chloe Canton Mysteries:

1/3 MURDER ON THE ISLAND *New Release*

2/3 MURDER ON THE BEACH

3/3 MURDER ON VALENTINE’S DAY

website; www.daisywhiteauthor.co.uk

email; daisy@daisywhiteauthor.co.uk

Twitter @DEWhiteAuthor

Under The Bridge by Jack Byrne #PublicationDay #BookReview

Title: Under The Bridge by Jack Byrne

Date Published: 18th February 2021

Publisher: Northodox Press

Genre: Mystery/Historical

Description:

2004 – The discovery of a skeleton in the Liverpool docklands unearths long buried secrets. Reporter, Anne McCarthy, is keen to prove herself and dives into the case with abandon where she finds Michael, an old Irish caretaker who knows far more than he’s letting on and may have a connection to the body.

Meanwhile, Vinny Doyle, is starting a postgrad degree, researching Liverpool’s immigrant history and a burgeoning Scouse identity. But Vinny has been neglecting his own family history and stranger Michael might know about his father’s disappearance in the 70s.

1955 – Escaping violence in Ireland and fresh off the boat, Michael falls in with Wicklow boys Jack Power and Paddy Doyle, who smuggle contraband through the docks putting them at odds with unions while they rally the dock workers against the rackets and the strikebreakers. A story of corruption, secret police, and sectarianism slowly unravels. But will the truth out?

As the conflict heightens, Michael questions the life sprawling out ahead of him. In the present, Anne races to solve the mystery, but is she prepared for what she’ll find? 

Review:

I want to thank Northodox Press for providing me with a copy of Under the bridge in exchange for an honest review.

I was so intrigued by the blurb for this, and I honestly don’t read that many novels set in my hometown, so I thought I’d give it a go.

Under the bridge is a mix of historical drama and mystery which really teaches you something about the history of Liverpool!

The story centres around Garston, a suburb in the south of Liverpool, and a place I don’t believe I’ve visited, but it has a long and interesting history. Now I’ve lived in and around Liverpool my entire life and I used to think I knew a thing or two about the place, but after reading this novel I realise I’m woefully uninformed! Seriously, I think I learnt more about my own area reading this book than I ever did in a history class. 

There are some powerful themes throughout the novel, including immigration, racism and religion (in particular the Catholic/Protestant divide which has been prevalent for a long time). The author really doesn’t shy away from those tough subjects.

There were some interesting characters, but I liked Anne the best. She’s a smart, ambitious, if a little naïve, journalist trying to make it in the newspaper business that even back in 2004 was shrinking. 

There were several different points of view in the book, along with the back and forth in the timeline that I found it a little hard to keep everything straight in my mind. Also, I felt it was a little heavier on the drama rather than the mystery, but of course that’s just my opinion.

Under the bridge is a gritty debut that really doesn’t pull any punches!

About The Author:

Jack Byrne was born and raised in Speke, Liverpool to an Irish immigrant father and grandparents. Under the Bridge is his debut novel and follows reporter Anne and student Vinny around Merseyside, as they become involved in a story of unions, crime, and police corruption after human remains are discovered at a construction site.

Photographed in the Writer’s Room by Michelle L.E. Price @MichelleLEPrice @rararesources #PublicationDay #RomanceFiction

Hello lovelies and happy Valentine’s Day! Today I have a Publication Day spotlight for Photographed in the Writer’s Room by Michelle L.E. Price, the standalone second book in the Writer’s Room Series.

Title: Photographed in the Writer’s Room by Michelle .L.E. Price

Date Published: 14th February 2021

Genre: Rom Com

Description:

Former TV star Brandi Tyler’s big screen debut crashed and burned amid rumors of an affair with her married co-star… Now, she wants nothing more than to quietly slink away from Hollywood. When she’s offered an opportunity to get out of town and work on a project involving the photographer that launched her career, it seems like the perfect escape! Unfortunately for Brandi, her famous face makes hiding out even a huge city like Houston a little tricky. 

When the celebrated photographer’s son offers to let her use his home for privacy, it seems like everything is falling into place. Little does she know that Michael Ames a gorgeous best selling author, and he comes with the package! As Brandi makes her way through old photographs and new scandals, Michael struggles with his next project, and they both fight the growing attraction between them. 

Maybe a posse of new girlfriends, some Texas-sized boozy brunches, and a little private time in the writer’s room will help this leading lady find her path back onscreen. And, if she can just picture it, maybe this time she’ll even find love?

You can buy your copy here:

US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08T6HGFG6

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08T6HGFG6 

About The Author:

Born in Montreal but raised in New England, author Michelle L. E. Price has been writing as long as anyone can remember. An avid reader who was on the verge of losing her mind as a mom to two small children, Michelle began writing her first book, Hidden in the Writer’s Room, as an escape… at least her characters would do exactly what she told them to do and she could always count on a happily ever after ending. She also enjoys wine, re-watching 90’s sitcoms and occasionally running, but heavily relies on writing to stay sane. Michelle is a firm believer that laughter and love are the best parts of life.

Social Media Links – 

https://www.instagram.com/michelleleprice/

Single Mother by Samantha Hayes @bookouture @samhayes #BooksOnTour #BookReview #PublicationDay

Title: Single Mother by Samantha Hayes 

Date Published: 5th January 2021

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Description:

I will do anything to protect my daughter. She’s all I’ve ever wanted and all I really have, but the moment I opened that letter and accepted the inheritance, I walked us right into a dangerous trap.

I know I should have got her to tell me who she’s been talking to on the phone late at night, and where she was the day I went to pick her up from school and couldn’t find her, but she’s not spoken a word since she found that little pile of bones buried in the garden.

And now she’s missing…

A jaw-dropping, addictive and totally twisty psychological thriller that will have you sleeping with the light on! Perfect for anyone who loved The Girl on the Train, Friend Request or The Wife Between Us.  

You can buy your copy here:

Amazon: https://bit.ly/37kxIdp

Apple: http://apple.co/34wLg2L

Kobo: http://bit.ly/3jHlLCA

Google: http://bit.ly/3lj7xYO

Review:

I want to thank Bookouture for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Mel is struggling financially, so when an unexpected inheritance of a hotel falls into her lap she jumps on it as a new chance for her and her daughter Kate, away from Birmingham and the shadow of her ex. When they get there, she finds a dilapidated hotel and a very strange guest, then Mel’s problems get even worse as Kate disappears.

Single Mother was a fast-paced read with some really emotional themes running throughout.

Mel was a likeable, if a little naïve. She’s damaged from her past experiences but still is a caring person who tries her best even if things are stacked against her. The relationship between her and Kate was well done, with Mel’s reluctance to be entirely honest with her daughter and that instinct to protect her.

There are some strong emotional threads running through the book, motherhood being at the forefront of course, but there’s also loss and abandonment in there too.

I can’t say too much more because I don’t want to give away spoilers but I felt the story got stronger when Mel and Kate arrived at the hotel, with its air of neglect and locals who you’re not sure if you can trust or not.

I felt I wanted a bit more from the book; it got a little predictable at times, even though there were a few shocks along the way.

Single Mother is perfect if you’re looking for a quick read with a good cast of mostly likeable characters.

About The Author:

Samantha Hayes grew up in a creative family where her love of writing began as a child. Samantha has written eight thrillers in total, including the bestselling Until You’re Mine. The Independent said “fantastically written and very tense” while Good Housekeeping said “Her believable psychological thrillers are completely gripping.” Samantha’s books are published in 22 languages at the last count.

When not writing, Samantha loves to cook, go to the gym, see friends and drink nice wine. She is also studying for a degree in psychotherapy. She has three grown-up children and lives in Warwickshire.

https://www.samanthahayes.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/SamanthaHayesAuthor/

#HappyPublicationDay Sins Of The Father by Sharon Bairden #SinsoftheFather @sbairden @RedDogTweets #RedTour

I want to wish Sharon Bairden a happy publication day for her debut novel Sins of the Father! Read on to find out more about the book:

Title: Sins of the Father by Sharon Bairden

Publisher: Red Dog Press

Date Published: 27th November 2020

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Description:

Lucas Findlay thinks he has struck gold when he marries Rebecca, but she married him for one reason only – to destroy him.

Trauma runs deep

When her past comes back to haunt her, Rebecca begins to disconnect from herself and the world around her. As secrets are unearthed, she begins to fear for her sanity … and her life.

Truth will out

With her world unravelling around her, Rebecca clings to her determination to make Lucas pay, whatever the cost.

Forgive his sins

But someone must pay for the sins of the father…

Sounds great right? You can buy your copy here:

https://www.reddogpress.co.uk/product-page/sins-of-the-father

Amazon mybook.to/SotF

About The Author:

By day Sharon Bairden is the Services Manager in a small, local independent advocacy service and has a passion for human rights; by night she has a passion for all things criminal. She blogs about books at Chapterinmylife and is delighted to be crossing over to the other side of the fence to become a writer. Sharon lives on the outskirts of Glasgow, has two grown up children, a grandson, a Golden Labrador and a cat. She spends most of her spare time doing all things bookish, from reading to attending as many book festivals and launches as she can. She has been known to step out of her comfort zone on the odd occasion and has walked over burning coals and broken glass – but not at the same time!

There’s also a blog tour running right now if you want to check it out:

#PublicationDay #BookReview After Sundown: A horror short story collection @flametreepress

Title: After Sundown Edited by Mark Morris 

Date Published: 20th October 2020

Publisher: Flame Tree Press

Genre: Horror

Description:

This new anthology contains 20 original horror stories, 16 of which have been commissioned from some of the top names in the genre, and 4 of which have been selected from the 100s of stories sent to Flame Tree during a 2-week open submissions window. It is the first of what will hopefully become an annual, non-themed horror anthology of entirely original stories, showcasing the very best short fiction that the genre has to offer. 

Contents List:

BUTTERFLY ISLAND by C.J. Tudor

RESEARCH by Tim Lebbon

SWANSKIN by Alison Littlewood

THAT’S THE SPIRIT by Sarah Lotz

GAVE by Michael Bailey

WHEREVER YOU LOOK by Ramsey Campbell

SAME TIME NEXT YEAR by Angela Slatter

MINE SEVEN by Elana Gomel

IT DOESN’T FEEL RIGHT by Michael Marshall Smith

CREEPING IVY by Laura Purcell

LAST RITES FOR THE FOURTH WORLD by Rick Cross

WE ALL COME HOME by Simon Bestwick

THE IMPORTANCE OF ORAL HYGIENE by Robert Shearman

BOKEH by Thana Niveau

MURDER BOARD by Grady Hendrix

ALICE’S REBELLION by John Langan

THE MIRROR HOUSE by Jonathan Robbins Leon

THE NAUGHTY STEP by Stephen Volk

A HOTEL IN GERMANY by Catriona Ward

BRANCH LINE by Paul Finch

Review:

I want to thank Flame Tree Press for my copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

After Sundown is a fantastic collection of short stories from established authors and new talent.

Each story was gripping in their own unique way, no story felt the same or was on the same theme. I was really kept on my toes while reading these stories!

There were, of course, a few standouts:

Swanskin by Alison Littlewood. A tale in which swans have their skins stolen and they have to stay in human form, serving their husbands. There was just something so ethereal about this story, and the imagery the author used was so vivid.

Creeping Ivy by Laura Purcell. A historical piece of fiction about a diary unearthed at a dig site and the intriguing story within its pages. This was just a brilliant atmospheric read, I’m definitely putting Laura Purcell’s book on my tbr list.

The Naughty Step by Stephen Volk. A story about a social worker called to a house after a little boy witnesses his mother’s death. Goodness, this pulled at my heartstrings and was creepy at the same time.

Branch Line by Paul Finch. A cold case interview about a young boy who went missing in the 1970s and the unbelievable tale of the survivor. I love a ghost story, and this one was both realistic and creepy.

I had an issue with the fact I felt some stories could have been longer, particularly CJ Tudor’s Butterfly Island, I would have read an entire book about that story!

I would recommend this collection, not only for horror lovers, but if you enjoy stories that really pull you in and keep you enthralled.

About The Publisher:

FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launched in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.

#PublicationDay Aroha by L.C. Conn @ConnLoraine @btwnthelinespub @rrbooktours1 #Aroha #Books #Fantasy #RRBookTours

Huge congratulations to author, L.C. Conn on the release of her epic conclusion to the One True Child Series, Aroha! To celebrate, the entire One True Child series is on sale today!

Read on for more details and a sneak peek at chapter one!

Cover (13)

Title: Aroha (One True Child Series #7) by L.C. Conn

Publication Date: 28th April 2020 

Genre: Fantasy

Description:

Aroha, born of the Universe, needs her godmother’s help. Danger is once more swirling around Claire and her family as Chaos seeks domination over the world. The continuing quest to protect them all will take them on a journey around the world, discovering things about themselves of which they had no prior knowledge. But will it be enough to finally defeat Chaos in the battle that will decide all?

Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE 

As she stared out of the kitchen window drinking her coffee, Claire Drummond was feeling a little pensive. There was something happening up at the stones that sat on the hill behind the cottage, hidden away in a valley in the highlands of Scotland, her adoptive home. For days now she had felt the changes slowly emerging and spreading out to encompass its surroundings, including the old house in which she now stood. If she were asked how to describe it, Claire honestly did not think she could give a coherent answer that anyone would be able to understand. It was just a feeling.

Claire and her husband, Matt, now lived in the house that had been the home of his mother and grandmother. They split their time between Glasgow ‒ where they both worked at the university ‒ and the small hidden valley. But the cottage always felt more like home to her. Having been born and raised in New Zealand ‒ which Claire still loved fondly ‒ Scotland was where she felt she belonged and needed to be. There was a connection to the land, especially the valley, that she had never felt anywhere else. 

Reflecting back over her life, she was in awe at how much it had changed since she had discovered the beginnings of her Abilities at the age of seventeen. The many Talents that were once buried deep inside had grown from the initial two: Hide and Flight. Claire had been born into a very special group of people; so too her husband and their children. Her studies in the library in the outbuildings of the farm had revealed a rich history and insight into this group, more than she could ever have hoped. 

Claire and her family were descended from an ancient race of people, the first to live in these lands, and created by the Coimheadair. These people had openly used their Abilities until it was necessary to hide them away, as the rest of the world came to their shores. Claire had read with fascination the references to the Coimheadair, the Guardians of the lands, the creators of this world and, now, a new name she had discovered: Ancient Ones. She had just finished reading an account of an old creation story that had fascinated her and was still wondering if it were true or just some fanciful way of explaining how things had come to be. The Coimheadair were real – of that she was certain; she had seen and spoken to them herself.

Claire had emerged from the library with new wonder and, as always, she looked up to where the two hills joined behind the house. The large upthrust of rock was clearly visible and standing guard as it hid the stones, marking where the brook started with the spring at the top and tumbling down the rocks into the length of the valley. 

She placed the empty mug down on the bench and looked at the brook once more. It sparkled under the weak winter sun that had managed to push its way through the clouds. According to the story it had been opened up by an Ancient One to give water and life to the family of people who would guard the stones. Before she knew what she was doing, Claire was out of the house and flying through the air, finding herself already halfway up the hill. She rose up and landed carefully beside the spring. It burbled and bubbled up from the depths under the hill, tumbling down the first few rocks and disappearing over the edge.

Kneeling down she plunged her hand under the cold water and lifted it to her lips. It tasted sweet and crisp. Claire stood and slowly, almost hesitantly, made her way around the guarding rock. They stood as they had done since the beginning of time, tall and straight; they were dark pillars, with only the clinging lichen giving any hint as to how old they really were. The standing stones still called strongly to her; she could feel their vibrations and the anticipation of her touch. She felt the energy swirling around and inside them as they reached out for her, pulling her closer. They had always healed and calmed Claire in her times of need.

Now she reached out her hands that seemed to have aged since the first time she had touched the stones. The energy immediately raced through her fingers and into her body; it filled her up and she felt revitalised. The energy surged and Claire felt the stones searching, seeking more of her. The feeling frightened her. With great effort she pulled her hands away from the dark stone. Always she was wary of touching them for too long, afraid of being lost to them. She walked around the large stones on the outside, touching each one briefly as she went. 

This time as she walked it was different. The peace she normally felt was interrupted by voices. Faintly the murmuring came to her as if carried on a breeze from far away, and she frowned as she tried to hear them, only for it to slip away each time, just as she thought she could make out what they were saying. Reaching the entrance stones, she stopped in the gap. Very rarely did she step inside the circle. The last time had been with her family when Aroha, her niece, had been given the blessing of the Coimheadair of the north and south. It was also when Claire had pulled evil from Aroha that had lain hidden away in the depths of her soul, something she had inherited from her great-grandfather.

Stepping through the entrance Claire made her way to the centre of the circle. She stood and looked around her. The change she had felt grew and increased in intensity. It was urgent now. She wanted to turn and leave, it was expectant and weighed heavily on her, holding her in place.

From around the rocks a procession came, seven beings in all, dressed in dark hooded cloaks that covered them from head to toe. Their faces, hands and feet were concealed under the heavy robes. They entered the circle in single file and arranged themselves around her, standing in the gaps between the large stones. Claire did not fear them; she knew they were the Coimheadair.

“Greetings to the One True Child,” they called in unison.

“My greetings to the Guardians of these lands,” she replied.

“Carling,” One of the figures stepped forward, greeting her with the name she had been told was hers. “You once asked that we give you an explanation of what has happened to you.” 

“I remember. It was shortly before I disposed of Marcus’s remains,” Claire said, nodding.

“It is now time that you knew everything, Carling. That you were made aware of who and what you truly are. The many lives you have lived down the ages have been hidden from you, your actions and deeds only hinted at and drawn on when those skills were needed. You are so much more than just a wife, mother and scholar. You are the Protector, the Staff and Sword of Order. Your spirit born from two who stand here and sent out into the world to guard against the darkness.”

“I don’t understand. What do you mean, ‘born from two who stand here’? I knew my parents. Is part of them still with me in my mind?”

“We know, we helped them be there to guide you and love you,” the figure said gently. “The time for your education to begin is now, Carling. It is time for you to come into your full potential in order for you to act as Guide and Protector to the Ultimate One, to help her achieve her goal. It has been written in the Book of Destiny and cannot be erased.”

“The Ultimate One is Aroha, our god-daughter?” Claire asked, seeking confirmation to what she already suspected about her niece.

“Yes, it is she that the world has been waiting for. The Universe has sent her daughter to us.”

“What is the task that lies ahead of her?” Claire asked, feeling anxious for her niece.

“That will be part of your education,” another cloaked figure said in a deep male voice.

Claire looked at each Coimheadair that was present; they all stood upright, taller than her. Never once had she glimpsed what was hidden in the depths of those cowls.

“When does my education start?” she asked them.

“When Galen arrives.” A third figure stepped forward, referring to Matt’s true first name. “He will need to be with you. You need to draw on his strength and his love as it has always been between you. That is the reason my son was born.”

“That is tonight,” Claire said quietly, biting her lip a little.

“It is the reason we called you up to the stones. There is so much you must learn, so much you must understand and not one piece can you doubt or reject. The writings in the library are all true, Carling. They were made so that you could read them now, to prepare for tonight. We cannot lie; it will be hard on you, and maybe a little painful. But the time is coming when you need to use everything you have learned over all of your lives to survive and protect Aroha.” Yet another figure spoke now, in a woman’s voice this time.

“You have told me in the past that you are the Coimheadair, the Guardians. But you are so much more, aren’t you?” she asked them.

“We are, Carling, and so are you,” the first figure said. “We must leave now and will meet you here tonight. You will know when it is time. Galen is not far away.” 

Slowly the host of beings began to file out of the entrance to the stones and Claire was left in the middle as she watched them disappear around the rocks. All she could hear was the wind as it wound around the stones and the lonely, haunting cry of an eagle on the wing, high up in the cloud-strewn sky above.

Claire made her way back down the hill, taking her time as she pondered on the Guardians’ mysterious words. The texts she had been deciphering came to mind and she flicked through the pages in her mind. It was part of the Abilities she had acquired – understanding their ancient language. It was knowledge that she had shared with her father-in-law and with his help she had made great inroads into the myriad volumes in the family library. 

Walking around the house to the front she saw a car making its way up over the rise in the track that led to the ford and the main road. She waited by the door of the cottage for it to arrive and smiled broadly as her husband got out of the car. Claire ran to him and flung her arms around his neck. Matt Drummond was tall; his dark hair now showing traces of grey and the beard he had grown was now almost completely white. He was still the most handsome man to her, still so full of life and love for her. Claire clung to him.

“Hey, what’s up?” he asked, pulling away. He placed his hands on the side of her face, leaned down and kissed her gently. He could always tell when something had happened.

“Just when I thought I was free to live my life, they called me back,” she told him.

“They said… They told you that you were free.” 

She could see the agitation growing in him. His hands dropped from her face and he stepped back from her embrace.

“We have to be at the stones tonight. Apparently, I have to finish my education and I get to learn who I am.”

“But we know who you are. They told you that your tasks were done!” Matt said, a little forcefully. 

He reached out and took her hand. They walked together into the house and headed to the kitchen, which always felt warm and comforting. The traces of Matt’s grandmother were still there, and Claire had never tried to erase them.

“They want me to guide and protect Aroha as she faces her own task,” Claire informed him.

“This is not fair, Claire,” Matt growled. “You have already done so much for them. You have done everything they asked of you, and it almost destroyed you. They ask too much!”

The deaths of Jack and his father Marcus had affected her greatly, as had the ordeals that Marcus had put Claire and their family through. They were things that they had not spoken of for years; the memories were still too painful, and they had actively sought to suppress them.

She leaned up against the bench and looked out of the window up to the hill. Matt came up behind her and put his arms around her waist, his lips seeking the spot between her neck and shoulder.

“They want so much from you,” he whispered to her. “I fear they want your life, that you will leave me behind. I can’t live without you, Claire. I love you.”

Claire turned in his arms and wrapped her own around him. “I love you, too. I couldn’t have done what I did back then without you, without knowing how much you love me and feeling it within my heart. I still feel the rose that you created for me; it still surrounds my heart and protects me. It fills me with love and hope every day.”

“That is not just my love, but everyone’s.”

“But the rose and dewdrop from your tear is from you. It is the source of my strength and my love.”

“I guess we must go, then, and find out what they want,” Matt said, seeming resigned to the fact. “I’m pleased that they want me there too. In the past they have kept me in the dark and I’ve been floundering around trying to help you.”

“I know they have. I will make sure they include you in this; you have every right to know. Our lives are shared, we are one,” she told him and kissed him again.

They stood in the centre and waited. Inside the circle it felt warm; the wind and rain that blustered in the darkness beyond the stones did not affect them. Matt clasped her hand in his and was growing impatient. Claire turned to face him, her arms going about his waist as she drew him into her. He looked down at his wife and smiled, his bright blue eyes sparkling in the fleeting moonlight and showing the love he felt for her. He reached up and pushed her blond hair away her face and kissed her. 

There was no need for words, they had been together for twenty-eight years and they knew each other too well. The connection between them ran deep inside their minds and was unbreakable. Claire rested her head on his chest and closed her eyes, taking comfort from his arms and his presence. Memories of their times at the stones came floating up and she smiled at the ones that meant the most to her.

“Claire,” Matt said, softly bringing her out of her memories. 

Pulling away from the warmth of his body reluctantly, she watched the Coimheadair enter the circle. Each figure took their place once more in the gaps between the large stones and faced the couple. With increasing nervousness Claire waited for the Guardians to begin. 

“Greetings to the One True Child, daughter and sister of the Sentinels, Staff and Sword of Order, Guardian of the Stones and wife of Galen the Protector,” one of the hosts proclaimed, as he stepped forward from his place.

“My greetings to the Guardians of the lands,” Claire said.

“Greetings to Galen of the Boar, Protector and husband of the One True Child,” another said, moving forward.

“Greetings to the Guardians of these lands,” Matt said.

“That is a lot of titles and some I have never heard before,” Claire spoke to the first. 

“The time for all knowledge is now. What once was hidden and kept from you, will now be laid out and revealed to you, Carling,” he replied

“Before we begin, there is something I must ask,” Claire said, her hand still clasping that of Matt’s.

“If it is within our Abilities to grant it to you, Carling, then we shall,” the first Guardian told her.

“I ask that the knowledge is also passed on to Galen,” she requested, using her husband’s real name. “He has a right to know what I do, we share everything, and we are one.”

“My son shall know what you do as far as your joined history together. But there is still knowledge that my son will not be able to comprehend or understand. I do not intend to insult you, Galen, but some of the knowledge is specific for Carling to do with her Abilities,” the second Guardian replied.

“I understand, Guardian,” Matt inclined his head.

“I thank you, Guardians.” Claire bowed her head to them.

“Carling and Galen, it may pay that you sit. I fear that the knowledge will be weighty and hard for you.” Yet another figure spoke with a gentle feminine voice.

The couple sat facing each other, legs crossed, and hands held together. Their knees were touching, and Claire couldn’t tell if it were her hands that were shaking or Matt’s. She gave him a small smile of encouragement and closed her eyes.

The Guardians’ chanting started slowly and quietly, rising in tempo and volume. Some the words Claire understood and recognised as a blessing. The words then formed a request from a higher being than the host gathered, to grant knowledge to the couple. The pressure inside her mind increased as she saw her beginnings here in the stones. Claire witnessed her birth from a great being clothed in sunshine yellow, surrounded by others in multiple hues. Lights under their skin swirled as a storm raged overhead and around the stones. The scene shifted before her, showing Carling as a child with golden hair, her small hand clasped in that of a tall boy with bright blue eyes. Claire recognised the spirit of her husband. They had been destined for each other from the moment of her conception. 

Deeds played out before her, travels and people. Marveling as she recognised the spirits of so many, linking them with those she knew in this life. They had followed her down through the ages to be at her side, to support and love her. So many were there her mind began to rebel at the enormity of it and a flash of pain seared through her.

“Peace, Carling. Accept it,” a gentle voice called to her. It was familiar and she relaxed under its smooth tones.

The imprisonment of Chaos was before her. The crystal cave and its bright light she understood. Order was still standing guard over its brother, who was bound to two large pillars of pure clear crystal that pushed their way up through the floor of the cave. 

The scene changed quickly. She saw the lives of her children and that of her husband, the love she felt for her ultimate parents, and the Guardians. She saw them once more transform into the seven great trees to stand guard around the sacred lands.

Another life rose to meet Claire. Another called Carling. The same in every single way. The house which sat over the water, flames leaping from the thatched roof and the roar that frightened the small child, the fire that claimed her family. The scene changed and once again she saw the spear as it pierced her grandmother, the blood and the sound of her cries. The man who had taken her and who wanted to possess her. The hazel eyes, the face the same as the Marcus Claire had known, only younger. She saw the evil begin in him.

She saw the great fire she had caused at the Roman fort and the final battle. Galen killing the man, the first Marcus, as he cried out for him to do so. The darkness had not fully possessed his soul; there was a part that was still human and capable of love. Claire also understood where that love had come from: the Guardians.

The aftermath of the great fire and the life as she lived it with Galen with their children on the side of the mountain. The broch she recognised, the little village she knew, and had helped to rediscover, where she had dug the stones from the earth with her own hands. The pendant Matt had found, with the image of a boar, the one she had once worn at her throat, the work of her husband Galen. It all came to her and she smiled at the memories.

Other lives she had lived: in the area around Loch Tay; some later on, further afield in America. She saw the lines of her children. Galen and her offspring spread far and wide across the world, so many now. One she recognised and she stood before its spirit – that of Maddison, her brother Tony’s first wife.

She saw her own home. The small settlement in the valley in New Zealand. The stones as they had once stood at the head of the gully, green stones from the ground, polished and gleaming in the southern sun. She felt the Sentinels of the south as they gathered there, joining their energy to that of the north as they imparted all their knowledge to her. 

With the memories finished, it was now time for the truth. In the darkness of her mind, in a small corner, where the glow from the crystal that was the facilitator for her Abilities could not reach, she found herself. It was there that Claire tried to centre herself and accept the new memories. 

From the shadows of that corner came another to stand in front of her. Identical to herself in every way except for golden points of light which danced and swirled under her skin. Her hair was the same, her eyes the same shade of blue. Dressed like one of the Sentinels she smiled at Claire.

“We are one,” she said.

“I take it you are the one I call Crystal?”

“I am. It was necessary for the Sentinel side of us to manifest itself in such a way. It was too early for us to understand and accept it. Our first life showed us that the human side would take a little convincing.”

“This is what the Sentinels look like?”

“It is. They were born of the light of Order, although for ourselves we were born from the bodies of Yellow and Blue.”

“This is a lot for us to take on, Carling,” Claire said to her twin.

“It is, Claire. There is more – the Abilities that we used in our first life must now be released. It will be painful as our mind grows to accept them all. To do this, Claire, we must wake from here and open ourselves up to the Stones. Do not be afraid of losing ourselves to them, they will not absorb us. The energy we have felt inside the stones is that which has been stored for us, to draw on at this moment.”

“We shall trust in the knowledge that is stored in your side of our spirit.” Claire told the glittering being.

“Are we ready?”

“We are ready,” Claire nodded and opened her eyes.

Matt was sitting watching her, still clasping her hands in his own. His bright blue eyes widened as he came to terms with his own history and that of his wife.

“The time is now, Carling,” one of the male Sentinels intoned. “Open yourself to the stones and take the knowledge that is yours. Use it well and protect the world and the Ultimate One. The task is yours to take on and once more we ask you to be the Staff and Sword of Order.” 

“I accept the task,” she told them and turned to Matt. “I must do this, Galen, it is the reason I was created and born.”

“I understand, Claire. And where you go, so do I, as your support, love and protector.”

“We cannot touch you, Carling, while you are communing with the Stones. This task is for Galen to support you. You must hold her onto the stones, my son, and do not let her release until it is time.”

“I understand, my Ancestor,” he nodded to the Sentinel.

“I’m ready, Galen,” Claire told him, and he walked with her to the largest of the stones.

Standing in front of it and feeling very small in comparison, Claire could sense the knowledge already reaching out to her. She raised her hands and placed them on the flat hard surface and found it warm to the touch. It vibrated with energy as it started to impart knowledge, releasing all the Abilities and so much more. In her mind a bell began to toll, it was a sound she had heard before at the stones and the understanding of where it came from washed over her. The Universe herself was giving Claire her blessing. 

When Claire was first granted access to some of her Abilities, she had trouble controlling the influx of information. It was the same feeling she was now experiencing. Everything around her was blocked out, including the feeling of Matt holding her.

“Let it in and do not try to control it. Accept it,” the calming voice told her. 

“We are trying to,” Claire replied gritting her teeth and she forced herself to relax, and the pressure eased some.

Beads of sweat appeared on her brow as she concentrated on the knowledge. Her body shook with the force and weight of it. Matt held his wife tightly and was amazed at the capacity she had. He noticed small points of lights flickering to life just under the skin of her hands. They spun and swirled as they made their way slowly up her arms. Looking around at the Sentinels who stood guard over them, he was concerned and sought their guidance.

“The side that has been hidden from her, she is now accepting, my son. Keep her there, the time is not right to release her,” the Guardian reassured him.

“What are they?”

“They are the lights of the Universe. When Order created us, he took the light from his own body, the light that was created from the explosion of the old world and split it into its many facets. We are those facets. A rainbow of colours to stand guard over this world and protect it from the darkness. Carling’s light is purer than ours, her light is greater. It burns brighter and the Abilities she has been granted by our Mother Universe far exceeds our own. She is a gift from the Universe to help bring back balance. Chaos was never meant to be only darkness, the Universe created Order from Chaos’s destruction to bring balance. But unfortunately, it never came to pass. The great plan of Carling was only the beginning. She was always meant to be a tool to be honed and used to prepare and protect the Ultimate One. Aroha is meant to replace Chaos and Order. The balance shall be returned when she has banished them.”

“And what is to become of Claire when it is over?” Matt asked with a great fear beginning to grow inside him.

“It will be decided on the day of the banishment. We cannot see the outcome. Carling, when she does pass, will join us and take her rightful place with the Sentinels, at our side to continue our work. This has been seen.”

“So, I will lose her…?” He looked at Claire. The love he had for her was written clearly on his face, and the pain of knowing they would be separated from one another.

“We cannot see that,” another spoke gently.

“But you said…”

“Yes, it is written in the Book of Destiny, but we cannot see what becomes of either of you,” she told him.

The lights that had started underneath the skin on Claire’s hands were now spreading faster up her arms. They pushed their way with a surging force, advancing and then retreating a little until Matt saw them reach under the pushed-up sleeves of her jacket. They emerged at her throat and he could see them seeking out the rest of her body. The moment they reached her face she grimaced in pain and he almost pulled her off the stone.

“A little longer, my son.” A thin, bony hand was raised over Claire’s head and a spark of light jumped from the hand to Claire, like a little piece of golden lightening. The Guardian pulled back and held the hand under its robe.

The others stood their ground, waiting for the moment when all knowledge had been passed onto Claire. Matt could feel her tremble under the pressure, and she began to weaken. He held onto her, holding her in place. The weight of her body slightly pushing him off balance as he tried to adjust. The lights were now rushing through her body, streaking and pulsating like a meteor shower in the heavens. Under his hands he could feel her racing heartbeat as she absorbed all that she should be, and it became a part of her.

“Now, Galen.” One of the gathered hosts placed a hand on his shoulder and gently pulled him back.

Claire’s hands released their hold on the stone, and she collapsed into his arms. Matt gently lowered her to the ground and cradled her, smoothing the damp hair from her face. Claire’s eyes flickered opened and the lights had even invaded the soft blue of her iris. They flashed for a moment before disappearing and she focused on his face.

“Claire,” he said softly to her.

“Galen, my Galen. So long have we loved,” she said in wonder as her golden laced hand reached up to his face.

“And we shall continue forever more,” he promised as he bent and kissed her lips. 

Now Available!

OTC Series

You can buy your copy here:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0874QP2FV

https://btwnthelines.com/liminalbooks/

About the Author:

L.C. Conn grew up on the outskirts of Upper Hutt, New Zealand. Her backyardL C Conn - Author Photo encompassed the surrounding farmland, river, hills and mountains which she wandered with her brothers and fed her imagination. After discovering a love for writing in English class at the age of eight, she continued to write in secret. It was not until much later in life that L.C. turned what she thought was a hobby and something fun to do, into her first completed novel. Now married, L.C. moved from New Zealand to Perth, Western Australia, and became a stay at home mum. While caring for her family and after battling breast cancer, a story was born from the kernel of a dream. The first book of The One True Child Series was begun, and just kept blooming into seven completed stories.

Author Links:

L.C. Conn: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17714374.L_C_Conn

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ConnLoraine

Email: raindropc1970@gmail.com

The One True Child Series: https://www.amazon.com/One-True-Child-Book/dp/B07NJD8X6K/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=L.C.+Conn&qid=1587909572&sr=8-1

Book Blitz Organized By:

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Happy Publication Day! The Devil Wore Black by Mark L. Fowler @MFowlerAuthor #PublicationDay

Hello lovelies! Today I’m wishing a happy publication day to Mark L. Fowler for his new book The Devil Wore Black, the third in Tyler and Mills series. I’ve not had a chance to read it yet but it sounds great!

Title: The Devil Wore Black by Mark L. Fowler

Date Published: 21st March 2020

Genre: Police Procedural

Description:

November 2003. When a priest is found crucified, following the desecration of local churches, hysterical media coverage focuses on terrorism and a satanic cult operating out in the wilds of North Staffordshire. Panic grips the city. 

DCI Tyler and DS Mills are under pressure as the toxic atmosphere deepens. One line of enquiry, involving historic allegations against the murdered priest, is close to home for Tyler and threatens to tip him over the edge. But Mills has a hunch that could lead the investigation in a different direction, until a serious complaint is made against him. 

The investigation appears to have stalled, when a second ritual murder is discovered. The pressure to find the killer mounts, and as winter closes in the detectives find themselves pushed to the limits. 

The Devil Wore Black is the third in the highly acclaimed Tyler and Mills series. It can also be read as a standalone crime novel.

You can buy your copy here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/DEVIL-WORE-BLACK-Tyler-Mills/dp/B084WNSK46/  (paperback)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B085782F95

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085782F95

About The Author:

Mark is the author of the successful Tyler and Mills historic crime series. RED IS THEmark l fowler COLOUR, the first in the series, set in 2002, was shortlisted for the 2018 Arnold Bennett Book Prize. It is based on the discovery of a schoolboy missing since 1972. BLUE MURDER begins when a singer on the threshold of fame and fortune goes missing and an ex band member is found murdered. THE DEVIL WORE BLACK, the latest in the series, involves the discovery of a crucified priest. All three books can be read as standalone crime mysteries.

SILVER and SEXTET are psychological suspense novels. SILVER features journalist and writer Nick Slater, who becomes obsessed with a strange, unpublished manuscript that a famous author was working on when she was murdered. SEXTET is about sibling rivalry between twin sisters, and the weird game that they played as children.

Mark also writes fantasy fiction. COFFIN MAKER, a highly original gothic fantasy, finds Death being sent two very different apprentices. THE MAN UPSTAIRS features hard boiled detective Frank Miller, who discovers he is a fictional detective and that his author is plotting to kill him off and end the series, combining the author’s interest in crime and fantasy fiction in homage to classic noir.

Amazon Author page: 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/MARK-L-FOWLER/e/B00QFR53KE

Twitter: @MFowlerAuthor

None The Wiser (Detective Mark Turpin 1) by Rachel Amphlett @RachelAmphlett #BookReview #PublicationDay

Title: None The Wiser (Detective Mark Turpin 1) by Rachel Amphlett

Date Published: 9th March 2020

Genre: Police Procedural 

Description:

What if some secrets were never meant to stay buried?

When a parish priest is brutally murdered in cold blood, a rural community is left in shock – and fear.

New to the Vale of the White Horse, Detective Sergeant Mark Turpin discovers the murder bears the hallmark of a vicious killer who shows no remorse for his victim, and leaves no trace behind.

After a second priest is killed, his broken body bearing similar ritualistic abuse, the police are confronted by a horrifying truth – there is a serial killer at large with a disturbing vendetta.

As fear grips the once tranquil countryside, Mark and his team race to uncover a tangle of dark secrets and lies before the killer strikes again.

In doing so, Mark finds out that the truth is more twisted than he could ever have imagined…

None the Wiser is the first book in a new murder mystery series from USA Today bestselling author Rachel Amphlett.

‘Fast paced with vivid characterisation and clever twists – this is another winner’

– Adrian McKinty, The Chain

‘A terrific start to a new series’

– Jo Spain, With Our Blessing and The Confession

Review:

I want to thank Rachel Amphlett for providing me with a copy of None The Wiser in exchange for an honest review.

I read The Friend Who Lied by Rachel Amphlett last year, so when I saw she had a new detective series coming out, I thought I want to give that a read.

Mark Turpin just getting used to his new surroundings when he is thrust into the brutal murder case of a local priest. 

Mark and his team are left stumped, with no witnesses and no forensic evidence. A second priest is murdered in his own home, it becomes a race against time to stop the killer before they strike again.

None the wiser is a fantastic start to this series, it’s gritty and utterly gripping!

I liked Mark Turpin and warmed to him immediately. He’s a little damaged from a previous case where he almost lost his life but he still tries to work through it. I also liked DC Jan West, she is a bit of a mother figure in Turpin’s team and I really look forward to seeing her character grow as the series goes on. 

The story is quite dark, at times a little gruesome but it’s not overly so and works well in the overall story.

None the wiser is a fast paced and addictive read, that I absolutely flew through, now I can’t wait for the next book! 

About The Author:

USA Today bestseller Rachel Amphlett writes crime fiction and spy novels, including theRachel Amphlett author photo Kay Hunter British detective series, the Dan Taylor espionage novels, the English Spy Mysteries featuring Eva Delacourt, and a number of standalone crime thrillers.

Find out more about Rachel Amphlett at www.rachelamphlett.com, and join her Readers Group to gain access to exclusive promotions and giveaways.