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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Margay Leah Justice: The Scent of Humanity - Wonderful Review!

Margay Leah Justice: The Scent of Humanity - Wonderful Review!: Most Helpful Customer Reviews 4.0 out of 5 stars   The Scent of Humanity   October 30, 2014 By   Jersey Girl Book Reviews / Jer...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Margay Leah Justice: Update: Release Day Blitz, Review and Giveaway: 'T...

Margay Leah Justice: Update: Release Day Blitz, Review and Giveaway: 'T...: Title: 'Til Death: Volume One Series: 'Til Death #1 Author: Bella Jewel   Release Date: November 25 , 201...

Monday, November 3, 2014

Book Blitz: A Dead End in Vegas by Irene Woodbury

Book Blurb:

As Dave Sloan is leaving for the Denver airport to pick up his wife, Tricia, the phone rings. It’s the cops in Las Vegas.  His wife is dead.  Her nude body was found that morning in a hotel room at the Bellagio.

Dave is stunned and devastated.  He thought she was in Phoenix at a week-long teachers’ conference.  A lie, of course, concocted by Tricia, who flew to Phoenix, then drove to Vegas to meet her Internet lover, the handsome, charming, and very much married Joe Daggett of Chicago.

When Joe can’t join her, Tricia’s a mess.  He calls a close friend, Al Posey, who lives in Vegas, and asks him to take her to dinner.  Al and Tricia hit it off and wind up in bed.  On Saturday morning, he walks out of her hotel room at nine.  Three hours later, her lifeless body is found by a maid. 

A DEAD END IN VEGAS is a searing exploration of how Tricia Sloan’s tragic, mysterious death shatters, and later transforms, the lives of her family and friends. 

For More Information

  • A Dead End in Vegas is available at Amazon.
Excerpt #1
Slipping and sliding along Colorado 91 in the near white-out, Randy
looked in the rearview mirror and spotted a Colorado Highway Patrol car. Sarah, who remembered every detail of the trip, told me later that he panicked.
“Damn!” he cursed, pounding the steering wheel and pointing behind
them. Sarah turned and saw the police cruiser; her eyes widened and dazed. With her hand over her mouth, she made a sound part gasp, part groan.
“My dad must’ve called them,” Randy shrieked. “They’re gonna take me in for armed robbery!”
“No they won’t,” Sarah cried, gripping his arm. “We’ll be in Leadville soon. They’ll never find us there. In a day or two, we’ll leave for California. My Grandpa’s out there--he’ll help us!”
Randy glanced over at her and nodded. He was now driving as fast as he could, but in the rushing torrent of snow, visibility was failing, and, at 10,000 feet, the old Subaru was suddenly wheezing as if for breath. When Randy muttered something about engine trouble, Sarah buried her head in her hands and started crying. He reached over and patted her leg.
As they approached the farm community of Gage, 10 miles outside of Leadville, the highway cops were still on their tail. A wave of hopelessness and betrayal swept over Randy as he thought of his own father calling the police to turn him in. But in fact, the cops’ presence had nothing to do with Dave. It had to do with Randy’s reckless driving. He was swerving wildly in and out of icy, snow-packed lanes, endangering his own life as well as Sarah’s and everyone else’s on the road.

Excerpt #2
In a state of exhaustion and panic, they stopped briefly at a liquor store in tiny Bardsville. There Sarah loaded up on snacks and Randy bought vodka with a fake ID. In the parking lot, blanketed with over a foot of heavy, sodden snow, the two teens huddled in the freezing Subaru, scarfing down Cheetos and Pop-Tarts. As she gulped milk from a quart-size carton, Sarah felt queasy. A panic attack was coming on. When she told Randy, he stroked her hand, took another swig of vodka from a half-pint wrapped in a brown paper bag, and popped a couple more freshly stolen Dexedrine. Sarah stared at him, alarmed and terrified, but also adoringly.
There was one more stop to make, but it had to be fast. While Randy filled
the tank at a Conoco station, Sarah trudged through the thick, frigid snow in her beige suede loafers to a distant, battered door marked “Ladies.” Jerking it open, she gingerly stepped inside the filthy, broken-down restroom. As she perched on the grimy toilet seat, blasts of frigid air and snow sliced through a round hole in the door where the lock had been ripped out. It took a while, but she finally stopped shaking long enough to pee on a solid block of ice.
Back on the road, with the snow coming down harder and heavier, they maneuvered west toward Copper Mountain, the bustling ski resort nestled in the Arapahoe National Forest.  Leadville, the old silver-mining town high in the central Rockies that they were running to, was still a tortuous 23 miles distant, a 45-minute ride in good weather, but much longer in this storm. At 10,000 feet it was a sullen, slate-colored Victorian mining town with a rowdy past that was fondly known as “the ice-box of Colorado.” A good place to hunker down in. No one would ask questions.
They almost made it.

Excerpt #3
Dave interrupted Pam.
“Excuse me,” he said sharply.  “Your husband claimed the suggestive e-mails were written by a hacker?  Who on earth could that be?”
                   “How should I know?” she snapped.  “Maybe some
disgruntled student who didn’t like the grade they got on a term paper, or a tech major trying to make a name for himself.  This is a college campus.  There are always precocious students who are bored with regular class-work and amuse themselves by hacking into professors’ e-mail accounts to make trouble.  They have some laughs over a few beers and move on to the next victim.  It’s everyday life on a college campus.”
                   Dave sighed.
“So you’re telling me that my wife was an Internet
stalker, and the e-mails and photos came from some student hacker?”
“Yes, that’s right,” she confirmed with a nod.  “My husband was the victim, not the perpetrator.”
“Excuse me, Mrs. Daggett, but I can’t sit here and listen to this garbage one more minute.  Your husband is a liar!”  Dave charged, rising from his chair and grabbing his briefcase.  He opened it with a flourish and dumped the contents on her desk.

Excerpt #4
The shameful circumstances of Tricia’s death left Dave unhinged and in shock.  He thought he knew this woman, his own wife, but he really didn’t.  She was going through a rough time, worse than any of us could have imagined.  She felt lost in her marriage.  She was devastated by Dave’s affair, but didn’t want to leave him.  He was the only real security she’d ever known.  But she couldn’t see spending the rest of her life with him either.  Her identity, and maybe even her sanity, were at stake.  The Internet affair with Joe was a means of escape, a way to find some relief from the pain and confusion.
Tricia had also just turned 50 and, for the first time in her life, felt insecure about her looks.  I thought of the photos I had taken of her at a picnic in the mountains last summer.  She kept begging me to take more because she couldn’t stand to see the fine lines, tiny jowls, and strands of grey.  She had been a stunning girl, a teenage beauty queen, and now she was a prisoner, in a sense, of her own midlife.  She was groping for some way to make sense of it, trying to protect herself from the uncertainty of her future and a lack of confidence in her past.  That’s a pretty delicate, treacherous place to be:  uncertain about your future, and full of doubts about your past.  What kind of present do you have when you’re wedged between those two?

Excerpt #5

Seven o’clock came and went.  No phone call, and the snow continued to fall.   Dave was becoming more and more desperate.  Our old friend and neighbor was losing it now, marching in small circles around the kitchen, occasionally halting to pound the butchers’ block with a tightly clenched fist.  Outside, darkness had descended as the wind howled and the storm tightened its grip.  Lehigh Street was empty and forlorn, a frozen tableau where nothing moved and an occasional flickering porch light was the only sign of life.
Shortly before 10, I glanced out the picture window, now nearly shrouded with ice, and made out what appeared to be a pair of headlights inching ever so cautiously through the drifts.  I looked again and couldn’t believe my eyes.  A boxy, high-riding vehicle, like a Jeep, had just turned and was heading down Dave’s driveway toward us.  Before we knew it, we heard car doors slam and then the heavy thumping of boots on the porch steps.  Two sets of them.  And then the harsh, grating sound of the doorbell.  Two long, sharp buzzes, like a dentist’s drill.  The shrill buzzing cut through the house and brought us all to attention.  In this weather, at this hour, who could it be?

About the Author:

Irene Woodbury’s second novel, A DEAD END IN VEGAS, is a dark, probing look at marriage, infidelity, revenge, and grief.  Immersing herself in drama and dysfunction for months on end was a challenge for this upbeat author, whose first book, the humor novel A SLOT MACHINE ATE MY MIDLIFE CRISIS, was published by SynergEbooks in 2011.  At first glance, the two novels seem quite different, but both deal with midlife confusion and chaos, and the complexities and unpredictable nature of the human heart.  And both, of course, are partially set in Las Vegas, a city Irene got to know well during her years as a travel writer.  Between 2000 and 2005, her stories appeared in major newspapers in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Irene, who graduated from the University of Houston in 1993, lives in Denver with her husband, Richard, a retired correspondent for Time Magazine who edited both of her novels.  The couple miss traveling, but, after two novels, Irene insists there’s no greater journey than the one into your own heart and mind. 
For More Information

Thank you for hosting!

Media Contact:

Dorothy Thompson
Pump Up Your Book
P.O. Box 643
Chincoteague Island, Virginia 23336

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Writer's Life eMagazine: Interview with Margay Leah Justice: 'Write the sto...

The Writer's Life eMagazine: Interview with Margay Leah Justice: 'Write the sto...: Descended from the same bloodline that spawned the likes of James Russell, Amy and Robert Lowell, Margay Leah Justice was fated to be...

The Literary Nook: Character Interview: Nick Fahey from Margay Leah J...

The Literary Nook: Character Interview: Nick Fahey from Margay Leah J...: We’re thrilled to have here today Nick Fahey from Margay Leah Justice’s romantic suspense, The Scent of Humanity.  He’s coming to us...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Virtual Book Tour: Fallen by Leslie Tentler

Title: Fallen
Author: Leslie Tentler
Publisher: Left Field Press
Pages: 396
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Format: Paperback/Kindle
Purchase at AMAZON

“If it wasn’t an armed robbery, it was a hit. An execution.”

Amid a sultry Atlanta summer, someone is targeting police…

The investigation becomes personal for APD Detective Ryan Winter when a colleague and friend is shot dead, the second victim in just weeks. But even as he finds himself being drawn into the tense hunt for a serial cop killer, he is forced to re-examine his own shattering personal tragedy.

An ER physician at Atlanta’s busy Mercy Hospital, Dr. Lydia Costa is no stranger to suffering. Still, the recent police slayings reopen barely healed wounds—and bring her face-to-face with her ex-husband, Ryan Winter.

As the body count rises and paranoia tightens its grip on the police force, Lydia and Ryan are pulled together by circumstances and fate…causing old passions to reignite despite their painful shared past. But as Ryan moves closer to discovering the killer’s identity, someone is watching, placing both him and Lydia in mortal danger.
Book Excerpt:

“GSW, two minutes out!” Jamaal Reeves made the booming announcement from behind the ER admittance desk at Mercy Hospital. His words put medical personnel on alert, including Dr. Lydia Costa, who stood in the jaundiced glow of the light box, reviewing chest films for an eighty-two-year-old with suspected pneumonia.

“It’s a ten-double-zero, people,” he added, using police code that over time had slipped into the level one trauma center’s vernacular.
Officer down. 
A momentary hush fell over the staff before the beehive of activity resumed, leaving only Lydia frozen. Gunshot wounds were always nasty injuries, but it was the ten-double-zero that caused anxiety to pool in her stomach. There were hundreds of police inside the city, she reminded herself. Still, leaving the X-ray hanging, she shouldered her way through the scrubs-clad crowd. Reaching Jamaal’s desk, she asked, “What else do you know about the incoming?”
He slurped from a Varsity cup. “Multiple bullets to the chest and abdomen, intubated by paramedics on scene—”
“Do you have a name? A precinct?”
“What? Uh, uh—didn’t ask.” Jamaal shrugged, his eyes returning to the stack of paperwork in front of him, information forms for the three dozen or so coughing, vomiting or otherwise miserable-looking people who waited in rows of vinyl-covered chairs for treatment. 
“Plainclothes, though,” he murmured as an afterthought, scribbling directives onto one of the forms.  
Lydia felt her knees weaken. Still, her inner voice spoke to her, pointing out that she was one of the attendings on a busy Friday night. She moved briskly toward the automated, sliding glass doors that led inside from the ambulance bay, joining the assembling team and preparing to take charge of whatever faced her with the paramedics’ arrival.
“Get trauma room three set up,” she ordered, raising her voice to be heard above the din. “We’re going to need an echocardiogram. Have a crash cart and thoracotomy set ready.”
All the while, a mantra repeated inside her head. It was more like a prayer, if she believed in such things. She used to, but didn’t anymore.
Please don’t let it be him. 

For More Information

  • Fallen is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

About the Author

Leslie Tentler is best known as the author of the Chasing Evil Trilogy (MIDNIGHT CALLER, MIDNIGHT FEAR and EDGE OF MIDNIGHT). She was named as a finalist for Best First Novel at ThrillerFest 2012 for Midnight Caller, and as a finalist in the 2013 Daphne du Maurier Awards for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense for Edge of Midnight. She is also the recipient of the prestigious Maggie Award of Excellence. Her newest romantic suspense novel is titled FALLEN.

Leslie is a member of Romance Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, The Authors Guild and Novelists, Inc. A native of East Tennessee, she currently resides in Atlanta.
Her latest book is the romantic suspense, Fallen.
For More Information

Thank you for hosting!

Media Contact:

Dorothy Thompson
Pump Up Your Book
P.O. Box 643
Chincoteague Island, Virginia 23336

Friday, October 10, 2014

Margay Leah Justice: Book Blitz and Giveaway: Status by J.A. Huss

Margay Leah Justice: Book Blitz and Giveaway: Status by J.A. Huss: STATUS  (Social Media #4) By @JAHuss Publication Date: October 8, 2014 Novella (115ish pages) Adult Contemporary Romance Sy...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Virtual Book Tour: To the Breaking Pointe by Cindy McDonald

Title: To the Breaking Pointe
Author: Cindy McDonald
Publisher: Acorn Book Services
Pages: 250
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Format: Paperback/Kindle
Purchase at AMAZON

Pushed to the breaking pointe!

Five years ago First Force operative, Grant Ketchum, let the ballerina of his dreams dance right of his life. Silja Ramsay returned to her birthplace, Russia, to take the position of principal dancer for the Novikov Ballet Company.
The owner and director of the ballet company, Natalia Novikov, has a dark secret: her beloved ballet company is almost broke. Natalia forces her dancers to prostitute themselves to financial contributors at exclusive after-show parties. Silja has been exempt and kept in the dark about the parties—until an American financier offers to bail the failing ballet company out. His prerequisite: Silja must become his personal companion, live in his home, and fulfill his every desire. Against her will, Silja is taken to the American's mansion, but before she goes she manages to send a text to the only man who can save her, Grant: HELP!
Now Grant is on a mission to find his lost ballerina and rescue her from this powerful man's subjugation. He will do anything to get her out alive. If they survive, will he let her chasse out of his life again?

Book Excerpt:

“Where is Silja?” Ballard Crafton asked Natalia as he searched the reception room in the basement of the theatre. The room wasn’t particularly large, yet it was quite elegant with red velvet swags hung in the archways, gilded crown moldings, and crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. A bar was set up in one corner while a violinist played softly in another. The room was filled with men, a few older women, and most of the dancers from the Novikov Ballet Company. Only one dancer in particular was missing... Silja Ramsay.
Natalia picked up her glass of wine from the bar. “Silja is not ready to attend our little soiree yet. She hasn’t been informed of my... financial situation.”
Ballard pulled a bracelet from his suit jacket. “Silja doesn’t like diamonds?” Natalia huffed at the sight of the bracelet that she thought she had convinced Silja to keep. He continued, “She had this returned to me by messenger this afternoon. Doesn’t she...don’t you understand just how wealthy I am?”
Natalia took a sip of her cabernet. “She still believes in love, Ballard—“
“I am in love with her!” he bellowed.
Taken aback by the sudden outburst, the crowd hushed, looking in their direction. Natalia forced a laugh, waving her hands carelessly at the crowd. She spoke to them in Russian, “Mingle, mingle, get to know our beautiful dancers.” With hesitant glances at Ballard, the crowd returned to their conversations. The women in attendance ran their hands up and down the male dancers’ muscled arms, while the men flirted mercilessly with the ballerinas.
“You told me that she would be here tonight, Natalia.” Ballard said, more hushed.
“As always, there are plenty of lovely ballerinas here to choose from this evening, Ballard. Forget Silja for now. I will keep working to make her come around. She still... how do you say... pines for another.”
“I do not know this. Be patient. Pick another for this evening. Here...” Natalia gestured to the bartender. He retrieved a box from behind the bar. Natalia took the box and offered it to Ballard. Lifting a brow, she said, “You may have first pick tonight, yes?”
“No. I am tired of spending time with ballerinas that I don’t want. I only fantasize that she is Silja. I want Silja!” Ballard said.
Natalia set the box on the bar. Slowly she dragged her gaze to meet his. He was like a spoiled child who had not received the gift that he desired on Christmas morning. No, he was worse—much worse. Finally she decided to put Ballard Crafton in his place. “I am quite aware of what it is that you want, Ballard. But I must wonder...will Silja meet the same fate as your other lovers?” His eyes widened in raw indignation, except Natalia did not allow his glare to dissuade her. “The opera singer from New York who no longer sings—instead she sits in a home with head injuries so severe that she can barely speak, or the concert pianist whose fingers are now crippled from the hammer that was used on them? What could these women have done to make you so angry, Ballard? What kind of monster lies within? I am desperate to save The Novikov Ballet Company, this is true. But I won’t let you destroy a beautiful dancer in her prime. How do you Americans say...we understand each other, yes?”
Ballard’s hands curled into fists of righteous agitation. The red flush started above the Armani tie that he wore around his neck and crept to his cheeks. He spun on his heels and marched out of the gathering.
Letting out a relieved breath, Natalia looked into the box which was filled with pointe shoes. Each shoe had the signature of the dancer from the Novikov Company to whom it had belonged. Her nerves tightened the knot in her stomach and shame swelled in her chest. She took another long drink of the wine, and then she managed a faux smile for the crowd, who anxiously anticipated the beginning of the evening’s event.
Natalia called out in Russian, “Who will be first to choose a pair of shoes tonight?” She held the box up high, shaking it. “Edvar! Where is Edvar?”
From the far corner of the room the ballet company’s dance instructor and choreographer, Edvar Kozlovski, brushed his fingers through ballet dancer Dominik Potrovic’s hair. After a whispered promise of return, he raised his hand calling back in their native Russian, “Here I am! Are you ready, Natalia?”
The crowd buzzed with excitement. The dancers exchanged nervous glances. All eyes were on Natalia. She said, “Yes! Who is our highest bidder this evening? Who will get first pick of the shoes?”
Edvar fished a paper from the pocket of his jacket, and then he announced, “Ballard Crafton!”
Everyone searched the room waiting for Ballard to come forward to choose a shoe for his evening of sultry delight, with the ballerina whose name was on the shoe.
Natalia shook her head. “No. He had to leave. Who is the second?”
Edvar squinted in a big show of reading the next name on the list. He proclaimed, “Belsky!”
From the back of the crowd, a tubby man merrily trotted forward to where Natalia stood. He could barely contain his excitement. He danced in place from one foot to the other. The ballerinas were now exchanging curled lips of derision hoping that he would not pull their shoe from the box.
He wiggled his fingers in anticipation of what lovely, well-toned ballerina would be his for the night. Belsky reached into the box and snatched a pair of worn European pink pointe shoes. The crowd tensed waiting for a name to be called as he handed the shoe to Natalia.
“Anna Antkowiak!” Natalia called out. The young girl from Poland shoulders drooped. Her face dropped. She was the newest member of the company. She hadn’t signed on for this. She had heard whispers among the dancers that Natalia’s ballet company was almost broke and about the after-performance requirements: prostituting the dancers for contributions to keep the ballet company above water. Tonight was her fist time to be summoned by Natalia to the contributors’ party. She could barely breathe as she watched Belsky’s eyes scanning the crowd for her.
Locking eyes with the innocent girl, Natalia crooked her index finger at the ballerina to come forward to claim her date. Trepidation filled Anna’s face. Her stomach twisted into a tangle of knots as she looked at the other dancers, who silently urged her to do as Natalia requested. When Anna suddenly noticed the bulge in Belsky’s trousers, she kept her head bowed, as she slowly crept through the crowd. Belsky grabbed her by the hand to hurry her out the door.
Natalia clapped her hands. “Another happy contributor to the Novikov Ballet Company! I’m sure Anna will make his night!” She shook the box again. “Who will be next to choose, Edvar?”

For More Information

  • To the Breaking Pointe is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

About the Author

For twenty-six years Cindy’s life whirled around a song and a dance: she was a professional dancer/choreographer for most of her adult life and never gave much thought to a writing career until 2005. She often notes: Don’t ask me what happened, but suddenly I felt drawn to my computer to write about things I have experienced (greatly exaggerated upon of course—I’ve never been murdered!) with my husband’s Thoroughbreds and happenings at the racetrack. Viola! Cindy’s first book series, Unbridled, was born—there are four books to that series so far.
Cindy is a huge fan of romantic suspense series, and although she isn’t one to make New Year’s resolutions, on New Year’s Day 2013 she made a commitment to write oneInto the Crossfire is the first book for her new series, First Force.
People are always asking Cindy: do you miss dance? With a bitter sweet smile on her lips she tells them: Sometimes I do. I miss my students. I miss choreographing musicals, but I love my books, and I love sharing them with you.
Her latest book is the romantic suspense, To the Breaking Pointe.
For More Information
Thank you for hosting!

Media Contact:

Dorothy Thompson
Pump Up Your Book
P.O. Box 643
Chincoteague Island, Virginia 23336

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Virtual Book Tour: A Wedding and a Killing by Lauren Carr

A Wedding and a Killing 

Title: A Wedding and a Killing
Author: Lauren Carr
Publisher: Acorn Book Services
Genre: Mystery
Format: Kindle
Purchase at AMAZON
When Mac Faraday decides to do something, there’s no stopping him … even murder!

Not wanting to wait until their big day to start their life of wedded bliss, Mac Faraday and his lady love, Archie Monday, decide to elope to the little church where his ancestors had all married—along the tranquil shore of Deep Creek Lake. However, before they can say, “I do,” the sanctuary erupts into chaos when Gnarly finds a dead body in the church office.

As they dive into the investigation, Mac and his team discover more questions than answers. What kind of person walks into a church and shoots a man for no apparent reason? How do you solve the murder of a man who has no enemies in the world? Which of the seemingly kind-hearted church members is really a cold-blooded killer?

Then, there is the all-important question, how long do Mac Faraday and his lady love have to wait to get married?

Book Excerpt:

“I get why we invited David and Chelsea,” Mac Faraday told Archie while staring up into his Audi SUV’s rear view mirror. “They’re our witnesses. Molly is coming because she’s Chelsea’s service dog, so she has to be here. What I’m having trouble understanding is why we invited him.” long whine came from the back seat of Mac’s black SUV.
Archie Monday, the love of Mac’s life, turned around in her seat to look back at Gnarly. His tall ears rested back flat against his head. The German shepherd focused his attention on the church building belonging to the parking lot where they were waiting. “Mac, Gnarly’s a member of the family and I want him to be here. This is the most important day in our lives and we can’t not include him. It’d be like leaving our son at home while we were joined in holy matrimony.”
“I did not sire him,” Mac said. “I inherited him from my birth mother, who had adopted him. So, if anything, he’s my brother.”
“Well, if you’re going to look at it that way,” Archie said, “if your half-brother David can be at our wedding, then your adopted brother should be allowed.”
Once again, Gnarly uttered a low whine that grew in volume until it crescendoed into a loud bark. Turning away from the window, Gnarly climbed across the center console to get up into the front seats.
“Oh, yeah, this is going to be a nice little ceremony,” Mac muttered while pushing against the hundred pounds of fur and claws depositing hair and drool on his new shirt and khaki slacks.
“Gnarly, what’s wrong with you?” Archie grabbed Gnarly’s collar to pull him back, but he was too strong. “You’re getting dog hair all over my dress.” Desperately, she tried to brush Gnarly’s black and tan fur off her white outfit. Dark strands clung to the lacy overlay.
Refusing to back down, Gnarly wedged his body in between the steering wheel and Mac.
“Gnarly, I’m going to kill you!” To save the seat upholstery from Gnarly’s sharp claws, Mac threw open the door. The German shepherd was in such a hurry to get out that he didn’t give his master a chance to escape before plowing over Mac to send him out the door and flat on his back on the pavement. Landing on all fours at a full sprint, the dog charged across the parking lot.
“Oh, dear Lord!” Archie threw open her door and ran to the driver’s side where Mac was sprawled spread-eagle on the ground.
Turning his police chief cruiser into the parking lot, David O’Callaghan slammed on the brakes to keep from hitting Gnarly as the dog darted up to the church’s main entrance.
He was still catching his breath when Chelsea pointed to where Archie, clad in a white summer dress, was kneeling next to Mac. “Did he have a heart attack?” Without waiting for him to park, she unclipped her seatbelt and jumped out of the cruiser to run over to Archie and Mac. Molly leapt out after her.
Gnarly was running back and forth in front of the church.
“Mac, are you okay?” Archie begged while clutching his hand.
Concerned for the fallen man, Molly was sniffing Mac all over in search of some way she could offer her service.
Chelsea knelt next to him as well. “What happened?”
“Gnarly,” Archie answered her before turning back to Mac, who was trying to sit up onto his elbows.
“What’s going on?” David demanded of them. “Do I need to call for an ambulance?”
“I don’t know. He’s not saying anything.” Chelsea urged Molly to stop sniffing and lie down. “Mac, did you hit your head? Why don’t you say something?”
“Because,” Mac shot Archie a glare, “the only thing I can think to say right now, I can’t say in front of ladies and on church property.” He accepted David’s offer of his hand and rose to his feet.
“Maybe Gnarly’s nervous because he thought you brought him here for an exorcism,” David joked.
“Protestants don’t do exorcisms,” Chelsea responded.
“Actually, some do,” a feminine voice countered from behind them. “The Church of England does as a matter of fact.”
Archie rushed over to hug the woman parking her bicycle in the bike rack. During the melee, they had not noticed her enter the parking lot via the bike path along the lake.  “So Archie Monday is finally getting married,” she said. “I guess since I’m the one doing the ceremony, you should introduce me to the lucky guy.”
“Of course.” Beaming, Archie led her over to where Mac was waiting with David and Chelsea. “Mac, I’d like you to meet Reverend Deborah Hess. She’s the pastor here at Spencer Church.”
A few years older than Archie, Deborah Hess did not look like a church pastor. Having grown up a Catholic, Mac had expected a Protestant version of a nun—an older woman who avoided cosmetics or anything that would be considered glamourous. In comparison to the Catholic nuns he had known as a child, Deborah was slender with silky chestnut colored hair that fell to her shoulders and was dressed in a vibrant turquoise pantsuit.
The reverend took Mac’s hand into a firm grip and smiled at him. “Mac Faraday. Your mother was a dear friend of mine. It is a pleasure to meet you.” She studied his face. “You have her smile.”
“My mother came to church?” Mac asked her before jokingly adding, “I didn’t know you let murder mystery writers in.”
“I’ve read all of your mother’s books,” the pastor said. “Robin Spencer brought Archie here after hiring her as her research assistant and editor. The Spencer family has a long history with us. Your ancestors built our original chapel and started this church well over a hundred years ago. Your grandparents and most of your ancestors on the Spencer side were married here. They have always been big supporters.”
“That’s why I insisted on us getting married here,” Archie said. “It’s what Robin Spencer would have wanted.” She turned to the pastor. “Since Mac only inherited his birth mother’s estate a few years ago, he’s still learning about his family history.”
“I don’t know if you heard about Robin’s story,” Mac said. “She had me out of wedlock when she was an unwed teenager. My adoptive parents had told me that I was adopted, but I didn’t know who my birth parents were until after Robin Spencer’s death and she had left her estate to me.”
“I can imagine what an adjustment a lifestyle change like that can be for a homicide detective,” Deborah said, “to suddenly come into an unbelievable fortune from a world famous murder mystery writer.”
“At least he now knows where his talent for solving mysteries come from,” Archie said.
“What about your birth father?” Deborah asked. “Do you know about him?”
Mac and David exchanged a long glance. Their identical blue eyes, inherited from their father, met. If Deborah looked closely at them, she would have noticed that the two men had the same tall slender build and attractive features. Years older, Mac had dark hair, inherited from his birth mother, while David’s hair matched that of his birth mother, the late Patrick O’Callaghan’s wife.
“He passed away before I could meet him,” Mac said.
“I’m so sorry,” the pastor said.
“So am I.”
“Well,” Deborah said, “I knew your mother quite well, and I can tell you that she was a woman of strong faith. She always strove to be more committed to this church, and we could always count on her support when we needed it.”
Archie went on to introduce Chelsea and David, who reminded Deborah that they had met a few times before at various community events.
“Let’s go inside and I’ll show you around,” Deborah said. “Then we’ll do the ceremony. I don’t know if Archie told you, Mac, but it’s my policy not to marry couples unless they have three counseling sessions with me beforehand. However, since you are Robin’s son, and Archie assures me that you will have the formal ceremony in December, then I’ve agreed to do this on the condition that you have your three sessions before the big wedding.”
Mac fired off a glare in Archie’s direction. “No, she neglected to tell me that.”
Taking a set of keys out of her pocket, Deborah turned around and then paused when she noticed a green sedan parked under a tree in the corner of the parking lot. “Eugene’s here—” She gasped. “Oh, that’s right. He told me.”
“Someone’s inside?” Mac asked. “I would have thought with all the barking that he would have come out to see what the ruckus was.”
“Eugene is the head of our trustees,” Deborah explained while leading them to the front door. “He’s here to count the offering. Since this past Sunday was Memorial Day weekend, no one wanted to stick around and the banks were closed yesterday. Eugene told me that he was coming in today to get the bank deposit ready.”
When she stuck the key in the lock, Gnarly tore around the corner of the building. As soon as she had opened the door a crack, he charged inside before anyone could step in. Barking and crying, he raced down the hallway of the office wing.
“What’s gotten into him?” David asked.
“He must think Eugene is a burglar,” Archie said.
“More likely Gnarly is wanting to steal the cash to buy a new bone for himself,” Mac said.
“Molly isn’t acting bonkers,” David said.
“Rub it in,” Mac muttered to him.
“Just saying,” David replied. “If that trustee is counting money, that racket is surely going to throw his calculations off.”
Gnarly was up on his hind legs digging at an office door.
“Get off the door!” Mac shouted at him while storming down the hallway to grasp Gnarly by the collar.
“Oh, that’s not going to throw off his count,” David said with sarcasm. “The guy’s probably afraid to come out because he thinks Gnarly is going to eat his face.”
“Eugene doesn’t like dealing with the public.” Deborah giggled. “The last time he answered the door, it was a church member who broke down into hysterics because she wanted a divorce. She got tears and snot all over his shirt. He had to throw it away and swore never again. When he’s here, he doesn’t answer the door or the phone.”
Gnarly yanked and pulled away from Mac until he got out of his collar and went back to the door. Whimpering, he plopped down onto the floor while gazing from the door back to Mac and then back again.
“Maybe we should knock on the door and apologize to him,” Chelsea said.
“Eugene is extremely focused on his tasks,” Deborah said. “Best to leave him alone.” She waved for them to follow her. “Let’s go into the sanctuary. I’ll show you around and we can get started.”
Mac tossed Gnarly’s collar down the hall to where he was lying in front of the door. The dog looked dejected.
“Come on, Gnarly,” Archie called to him. “Don’t you want to see your daddy and me get married?”
“That animal did not come from my loins,” Mac said in a low voice.
Ignoring his comment, Archie took Mac’s hand and led him across the fellowship hall to the double glass doors that opened into a spacious sanctuary with a cedar paneled cathedral ceiling with log beams across the width. The wall behind the pulpit was made of stone at the base of which rested the baptismal pool.
“I always thought this was the prettiest church in Spencer,” Chelsea said while squeezing David’s hand.
“You should see it when the sanctuary is lit and the waterfall flowing down the rocks down to the baptismal pool is turned on,” Archie gushed to Mac. “It’s going to be a lovely wedding.” She told Deborah, “We’re going to have an evening ceremony on New Year’s Eve, and want to say our vows right before midnight.”
Deborah sighed. “It will be lovely, but I’m afraid we won’t be able to use the waterfall.”
Archie’s face fell. “Why not?”
“It’s broken,” the pastor explained. “Two years ago. The plumbing is thirty years old and has to be completely replaced and we don’t have the funds to have it rebuilt.”
“Oh, I really had my heart set on the waterfall and candles,” Archie said.
Molly whimpered.
As if to voice Archie’s disappointment, Gnarly howled from where he was still in the office wing.
Mac cringed.
“Do you want me to put Gnarly in the car?” David asked him in a low voice.
Mac was more concerned with the disappointment on his bride’s face. “How much will it cost to replace the waterfall?” he asked Deborah.
“Several thousand dollars,” she replied. “They’ll have to take out the stone to get back to the pipes and—”
“I’ll pay for it,” Mac interrupted.
Archie’s eyes lit up and she tightened her grip on his hand.
“Willingham says I need more tax deductions,” Mac said with a shrug of his shoulders. “If you want a waterfall at our wedding, then we’re going to have a waterfall. We’re only getting married twice.”
“Oh, we would be most grateful, Mr. Faraday.” The smile on Deborah’s face stretched from ear to ear.
“Call me Mac.”
“Well, Mac,” she said while trying to contain her excitement over the sudden donation, “let’s get you two kids married, and then we can discuss the particulars of your formal wedding ceremony in December.”
Archie turned serious. “Deborah, there is one thing that we need to make clear.”
“What’s that?” Deborah looked from her to Mac and then to David and Chelsea.
“No one is to know about us getting married.” Archie grasped Mac’s hand. “You haven’t met my mother …”
“No, I haven’t.”
“Well,” Archie paused, “if she found out that Mac and I eloped and got married six months before the wedding—without her being there … well, she’d—things could get ugly.”
Deborah’s eyebrows rose. “Ugly?”
“I’m the only girl out of seven kids and the youngest,” Archie said. “I’m their only shot for a big, fancy wedding for their little girl. My mother will feel like I cheated her.”
“Then why are you not waiting?”
“Because we want to get married,” Mac squeezed Archie’s hand. “We’ve been together for three years and we don’t want to wait any longer to be husband and wife.”
Deborah looked Archie up and down. She cocked an eyebrow at her. “Are you pregnant?” she finally asked in a whisper.
“No!” Archie’s nostrils flared.
“Okay,” Deborah said. “I understand. We’ll do the ceremony and mum will be the word.” She whirled around and gestured toward the pulpit. “Let’s get this show on the road.”
Mac and David followed her down the aisle.
When Chelsea stepped forward, Archie stopped her with a hand on her elbow. “Do I look pregnant?” she asked.
“Of course not.” Chelsea grabbed her by the arm and ushered her to the front of the sanctuary.
The reverend was instructing them each where to stand when one of the double doors opened leading into the sanctuary opened. A tall slender woman dressed in faded jeans, sneakers, and an oversized t-shirt stepped inside. “Miss Deborah, there’s a police cruiser out front. Is everything okay?”
“That’s mine,” David said. “It’s okay. We’re here for personal business.”
“I was just wondering,” she went on, “because there’s a big ol’ German shepherd sitting outside Eugene’s office and he doesn’t look happy. I offered him a dog biscuit from Edna’s jar but he’d have none of it.”
“What’s with the jar with dog biscuits?” Mac asked.
“Our office manager has a dog biscuit jar for canine visitors,” Deborah replied before turning her attention to the woman at the back of the sanctuary. “Thank you, Ruth. Everything is okay. I’ll be through here in a little bit and they’ll be taking Gnarly with them when they go.”
“Gnarly turned down food?” Archie covered her mouth with her hand. “That’s not like him at all.” She grasped Mac’s hand. “Something must be wrong.”
“Maybe he doesn’t approve of our getting married.” Mac asked the pastor, “Are you sure you don’t want me to leave him as payment for your services?”
“Stop it, Mac,” Archie admonished him.
Ruth stepped out into the fellowship hall and craned her neck to look out the window. “Edna just pulled in,” she called to them. “She’s great with dogs. She’ll be able to figure out why he’s so upset and make him feel better real fast.” She went off toward the foyer and business wing.
Seconds later, Gnarly’s barks could be heard in the sanctuary.
“Let’s just get this over with,” Mac told Deborah.
“That sounds romantic,” Archie retorted.
“I’m not the one who broke the mood,” Mac argued. “You did by insisting that we bring that beast hog with us to the church to get married.”
“Gnarly is not a beast hog.”
“He’s got a criminal record,” Mac said. “Just ask David. That dog is a canine delinquent.”
“Don’t drag me into your squabble.” David held up both hands in surrender.
Deborah interrupted, “This is why I insist on counseling before the marriage ceremony.”
“Oh, shut up,” Mac blurted out before he realized what he was saying.
There was an audible gasp in the sanctuary.
As if he feared getting caught in a cross-fire, David backed away from Mac. “Now you’ve done it.”
Deborah leveled her eyes on the couple standing before her. “I think we need to reschedule this ceremony. It just doesn’t seem right.” The pastor’s previously congenial tone had shifted to firm and commanding.
“Nothing about this is right,” Mac said. “Nothing has been right since I pulled into your parking lot and that animal trampled me.”
“Are you still mad about that?” Archie said.
“Mac, you really need to learn to let things go.”
Gnarly’s barking had stopped, but Mac and Archie were too involved in their argument to notice.
“I took the afternoon off work to be here,” Chelsea said. “Are you two going to get married or aren’t you?”
“I know that I don’t want to get married to the sound of that in the background.” Mac jerked his head in the direction of the business wing.
Noticing that Gnarly’s barking and howling had stopped, David asked, “Sound of what?”
Abruptly, the double doors flew open and a woman came running in. Her face was stark white and her eyes were filled with shock. Once inside the sanctuary, she stopped. Her mouth hung open while she gazed wide-eyed at each of them.
“Edna?” Deborah asked. “What’s wrong?”
Clutching both hands to her chest, Edna sucked in several deep breaths.
Wondering if the woman was having a heart attack, Mac and David exchanged glances filled with concern.
David took a step forward to suggest the stricken woman sit down. “Maybe—”
Before he could finish, she uttered an ear piercing scream that reached all the way up to the rafters to bounce and echo throughout the church. Unable to form the words to communicate the meaning behind her scream, she pointed toward the office wing.
David and Mac were the first out of the sanctuary. In the fellowship hall, they found Gnarly at the end of the hallway leading back to the offices. Seeing that he now had their full attention, he turned and led them down the hall.
Now, the office door was open.
David ran inside, halted, and held out his arm to stop Mac who was directly behind him.
At first, the office appeared like any other with a desk, computer, phone, and calculator. However, there was a big difference where this one was concerned.
This office had a man lying in a pool of blood behind his desk.

  • A Wedding and a Killing is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

About the Author

Lauren Carr is the best-selling author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek LakeMarylandA Wedding and a Killing is the eighth installment in the Mac Faraday Mystery series.

In addition to her series set on Deep Creek Lake, Lauren Carr has also written the Lovers in Crime Mysteries, which features prosecutor Joshua Thornton with homicide detective Cameron Gates, who were introduced in Shades of Murder, the third book in the Mac Faraday Mysteries. They also make an appearance in The Lady Who Cried MurderDead on Ice (A Lovers in Crime Mystery) was released September 2012. The second installment, Real Murder was released to rave reviews in June 2014.

The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This year, several books, over a variety of genre, written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services, which is currently accepting submissions. Visit Acorn Book Services website for more information.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.

She lives with her husband, son, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers FerryWV.

For More Information

  • Visit Lauren Carr’s website.
  • Connect with Holly on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Visit Lauren’s blog.
  • Is your group looking for a speaker for your next event?  Click here.
  • Contact Lauren.

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