Need a New Contemporary Romance? Check out The Easy Way by May Archer

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BUY IT ON AMAZON, KINDLE UNLIMITED
BLURB:

Camden Seaver had it easy – a loving family, plenty of money, and the freedom to follow his dreams while his older brother, Sebastian, took charge of the family business. But when a tragic plane crash killed his parents, all the responsibilities he never wanted landed firmly on his shoulders. Now saddled with his crazy, grief-stricken brother and his dad’s multimillion dollar company, Cam doesn’t trust in dreams anymore. He’s forgotten what “easy” feels like.

FBI Agent Kendrick “Cort” Cortland learned the hard way that he couldn’t depend on anyone but himself. Before joining the FBI, the one constant in his life was his foster brother, Damon – and then Damon disappeared. Now, Cort is determined to find his brother and to bring down the man responsible for ruining Damon’s life, Sebastian Seaver. He’s got nothing left to lose.

When Cort’s investigation leads him to Seaver Tech…and Camden Seaver…what started as a quest for revenge and a one-night deception quickly turns into far more than either man bargained for. But how can either man trust in something that seems so easy? As long-held secrets are revealed, the attraction between Cam and Cort becomes combustible – an undeniable love that will either make or destroy them. Will Cam and Cort let their conflicting loyalties drive them apart? Or will they decide that sometimes love is the easy way?

AUTHOR BIO: 
May lives in Boston. She spends her days raising three incredibly sarcastic children, finding inventive ways to drive her husband crazy, planning beach vacations, avoiding the gym, reading M/M romance, and occasionally writing it.
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A MelanieM Review: Pop Tart (Asian Idols #2) by Shawn Bailey

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Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

Taemin Park was once a member of the hottest K-Pop group in South Korea, but he isn’t a cute kid anymore and he hasn’t been on a stage in four years. Taemin has been blacklisted in the music world and labeled a trouble-maker for standing up for his rights. But after two years of military duty and two years of soul searching he decides to go back into show business. He offers his services to his old friend entertainment mogul Ace Reign, who jumps at the chance to put Taemin back at the top of the charts again and knows just the guy to manage him.

Aiden Reign is very popular with both the ladies and the men, but he’s never held down a legitimate job in his life. So when his father suggests he take on a job of manager of a pop-star turned R&B singer, Aiden freaks out. He’s used to his father giving him an allowance and he is perfectly okay with that. But now faced with the dilemma of growing up, Aiden decides to do give it his all, especially after he meets the gorgeous young man his father wants him to manage.

I had  such high hopes from reading the blurb but to be honest I barely made it through the story.  So many elements here made it feel like a dry, emotion free tale instead of one sweet romance of pop stars in South Korea.

One definitely was the style of writing here.  It felt entirely too talky.  Everything was over described from their meals to the main characters daily routines, dress until it felt like a checklist of things the author wanted to get into the story…over and over again.  Secondly, the romance or relationship or whatever you want to call it between Aiden and Taemin is weirdly a turn off.  Instant sex that is very all sorts of non sexy, a instant love on one character’s part that’s never really explained or given adequate background, and again just a lack of connection between the two characters so vast that the whole story came across more like a business deal than a love story.

What did I like?  The cultural elements.  I got an excellent exposure to the world of K-pop, the Korean music scene, and Korean culture.  I did enjoy how that aspect of the story made a very solid foundation for what could have been a sweet romance.  But it’s not enough to save the love story which is the main focus here.

Cover art is wonderful.  It definitely drew me to the book.

Sales Links: Amazon

 

Book Details:

ebook
Published August 17th 2017 by Painted Hearts Publishing
Edition Language English

A Lila Audiobook Review: Manny Get Your Guy (The Mannies #2) by Amy Lane and John Solo (Narrator)

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

 

Starting over and falling in love.

 

Tino Robbins’s sister, Nica, and her husband, Jacob, are expecting their fifth child. Fortunately, Nica’s best friend, Taylor Cochran, is back in town, released from PT and in need of a job.

 

After years in the service and recovering from grave injury, Taylor has grown a lot from the callow troublemaker he’d been in high school. Now he’s hoping for a fresh start with Nica and her family.

 

Jacob’s cousin Brandon lives above the garage and thinks “Taylor the manny” is a bad idea. Taylor might be great at protecting civilians from a zombie apocalypse, but is he any good with kids?

 

Turns out, Taylor’s a natural. As he tries to fit in, using common sense and dry wit, Brandon realizes that Taylor doesn’t just love their family—he’s desperate to be part of it. And just like that, Brandon wants Taylor to be part of his future.

 

Manny Get Your Guy takes place about ten years later than the first book in the series. It took me a minute to get used to the changes in the characters, but a couple of pages in, I was back in their world. It was a refreshing change since most stories end with a HEA and we don’t get to experience their lives afterwards.

 

This story is a classic combination of Amy Lane and Dreamspun Desire. It’s over-the-top, soap opera-like, and perfect for a cute story with more than a simple romance. As readers, we get to be part of Brandon’s and Taylor’s path to happiness, without forgetting how they became the men we met. It’s a slow journey but an interesting one.

 

I like the MCs enemies-to-lovers story and how they fought their attraction in the beginning, even if short lived. Both characters are lovely and their support system complemented their relationship. As always, it’s nice having both POV; easier to see how they fall for each other.

 

The moments between the couples are great but those between Taylor and Brandon felt intimate and awe inspiring. There are lightheaded moments and many embarrassing tidbits. Overall, this is another winner for this author and series.

 

One thing I like about John Solo’s narrations is his consistency. As soon as I heard the voices, I could connect them with the characters in the previous book. He did an excellent job bringing everyone to life and making Brandon and Taylor the center of the story.

 

The cover by Paul Richmond fits the series and shows a happy version of Taylor. It reminds me of one of the characters in Days of Our Lives.

 

Sales Links: Dreamspinner | iTunes | Audible

 

Audiobook Details:

 

Narrator: John Solo
Length: 6 hours 16 minutes
Published: August 10, 2017 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN: B074NCK18W
Edition Language: English

 

Series: The Mannies
Book #1: The Virgin Manny
Book #2: Manny Get Your Guy

A Caryn Review: The Druid Next Door (Fae Out of Water #2) by EJ Russell

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Book one, Cutie and the Beast, in this series was a romantic comedy (which I adored!), and so I admit I was expecting the same here.  These characters, however, are more serious, the tone darker, the danger greater, in this enemies-to-lovers novel.  And this book is absolutely not stand-alone – all of the world building happened in book one, and this book just expands on the Fae world and it’s denizens.

Mal – Lord Maldwyn Kendrick – was cursed at the end of book one.  He saved his brother Alun’s life by cutting off the villain’s hand, and in punishment, he was cast out of Faerie and his own right hand became useless.  The Seelie queen, who cast the curse, told him the curse could be lifted if he could “make whole what you cost us this night”, and Mal has no idea what that even means.  Give Rodric his hand back?  Even if he wanted to after all the evil Rodric committed, how could he possibly do that?  His entire existence was being a warrior, protecting the Seelie Court, and in one moment he lost that purpose, and even the ability to be a warrior.  He was fairly lighthearted in book one, but he’s now angry, bitter, and completely directionless.

Because Mal was homeless, his brother-in-law David bought him a very nice little house with zero carbon footprint in a wetland conservation area.  Mal couldn’t have cared less.  Worse, when he found Unseelie creatures in the swamp and drove them off, he came to the attention of his neighbor Bryce MacLeod, professor and deeply devoted environmentalist who was shocked and appalled at Mal’s lack of care for the wetlands.  Mal recognized him as a druid – a fact Bryce himself was completely unaware of – and Mal had never trusted druids as far as he could throw them.  Things went from bad to worse when the local arch druid bound the two men together in order to foster Bryce’s training, without consent from either of them.

Mal just wants to get his hand and his old life back, while Bryce wants to find out what is causing the poisoning of the wetlands and fix it.  But since the men are literally tied together, they have to find a way to work with each other to reach these goals.  But there are manipulative supernatural forces in play, pushing them into the middle of a conflict that endangers not only their lives, but (once again) the fate of the world.

The set-up seems awkward and ridiculous when I try to condense it, but I didn’t feel that while I was reading.  Every character acted in accordance with their nature and personality (as introduced in book one) and in accordance with the rules of the outer world and world of faerie.  The progression from irritation, to grudging respect, to true appreciation of each other from Mal and Bryce was extremely fluid.  The supernatural powers of druids and the hereditary interaction between druid and sidhe kept Mal and Bryce continually wondering what parts of their attraction was real, and what was biology, or spell.  The inner conflict of trying to untangle that played out in the conflict they had with each other, but I felt both men learned to look past their initial rigid beliefs about the world, themselves, and each other, and they grew into better men as they became more flexible and accepted new truths about themselves.  The eventual defeat of evil was typical of a fantasy novel, but the happy ever after was more like the typical contemporary romance.  I thought it fit together extremely well!

Gareth, the youngest of the Kendrick brothers, shows up only briefly in this book, but a painful history of betrayal and loss were introduced to set the foundation of the final book.  Which I expect will be darker than this one, and I’m eagerly looking forward to it!

Cover art by Lou Harper has a great model for Bryce’s sexy professor look, and the interdimensional doorway fits with the story.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 328 pages
Published August 21st 2017 by Riptide Publishing (first published August 19th 2017)
Original TitleThe Druid Next Door
ISBN139781626496217
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesFae Out of Water #2

An Alisa Review: Cursed (Alpha’s Warlock #1) by Kris Sawyer

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

Clyde Barrington is a werewolf with a curse on his head. Every night, he shifts from human to wolf and lives the life of a lonely predator, never fully accepted by his pack. When he saves a handsome stranger from a fire, everything changes.

 

In a world divided by the ancient feud between werewolves and warlocks, Clyde and Terry must learn to trust each other. When wolves start to disappear, their bond is tested by the fear of a pack now balanced on the edge of destruction.

 

Amidst a web of lies, deceits and betrayals, Clyde must decide where his loyalties lie, and choose between a forbidden love and the ties that bind him to his brothers. Is Terry an enemy to the pack, or the saviour that will lead them out of the darkness?

 

This was a different story.  Terry seems to be content following the crowd at the beginning of the story but quickly makes his real self known to Clyde and will push for what he wants.  Clyde and Terry quickly begin to build a relationship despite Clyde’s pack’s dislike of Terry’s warlock nature.

 

Terry and Clyde seem to build their relationship for the most part in the back ground and the conflict with Clyde’s pack is more to the forefront.  Clyde is heart broken when the truth about Terry is revealed and everything they thought was wrong.  I am interested to what happens in the next story after Terry comes back,, I’m still a little confused as to how it happened.

 

The cover art by Sidney Lowell is great picture and is eye-catching.

 

Sales Link: Amazon

 

Book Details:

ebook, 80 pages

Published: September 5, 2017 by Creative Minds Promotions

Edition Language: English

Series: Alpha’s Warlock #1

BA Tortuga on Wedding Songs and her latest release Finding Mr. Wright (Leaning N #2) (author guest blog)

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Finding Mr. Wright (Leaning N #2) by B.A. Tortuga
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Bree Archer

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host B.A. Tortuga on her Finding Mr. Wright tour. Welcome, B.A.!

✒︎

 

BA Tortuga’s Top 10 Wedding Music List for Rednecks

Hey y’all! I’m BA Tortuga, here to talk about my upcoming release, Finding Mr. Wright.

In the book, Mason is a wedding planner who sets out to do a Texas style wedding at a ranch in Colorado. The bride’s brother, Noah Wright, isn’t so sure he can pull it off.

Wedding music is super important, so here are some country music suggestions for during and after!

10.  I Cross My Heart by George Strait

9.  God Bless the Broken Road by Rascal Flats

8. It’s Your Love by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill

7. When I Said I Do  by Clint Black and Lisa Hartman Black

6. Then by Brad Paisley

5. H.O.L.Y by Florida Georgia Line

4. My Little Girl -Tim McGraw – father daughter dance

Now the ones we played at our wedding

3. Heaven by Jason Aldean

2. Til My Last Day- Justin Moore

1. The Cowboy in Me by Tim McGraw- incidentally, our minister said this was the perfect song

Thanks for hanging out with me, y’all, and I hope you love Finding Mr. Wright.

Much love, y’all

BA

Finding Mr. Wright Blurb

Leaning N

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including weddings. And misunderstandings.

Colorado wedding planner Mason O’Reilly lands a major contract: a two-hundred-guest wedding at the Leanin’ N Ranch, where his friends Ford and Stoney are working to provide a safe space for GLBT events. The Wright/Preston ceremony is a destination wedding, and as the grooms are from Texas, everything is done over the phone and email. There’s no way that could lead to trouble, right?

Oops.

Oil tycoon Noah Wright isn’t happy about the impending disaster, but he admires Mason’s quick thinking and grace under pressure. And that’s not all he likes about the out-and-proud wedding planner. Even though Mason’s interested in Noah, his Mr. Right can’t possibly be a rancher from Dallas.

Can he?

Available September 15 at Dreamspinner Press: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/finding-mr-wright-by-ba-tortuga-8815-b

About BA Tortuga

Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds and her beloved wife, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing Pinterest in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife, Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.

Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has heard the call of the high desert and lives in the Sandias. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery menages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head. Find her on the web at www.batortuga.com

In Our Spotlight: Covet by Yolande Kleinn (tour and giveaway)

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Covet by Yolande Kleinn
Riptide Publishing
Cover art by L.C. Chase

Read an Excerpt/Buy it here at Riptide Publishing

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Yolande Kleinn here today on her Covet tour. Welcome, Yolande!

✒︎

Hi everybody! I’m Yolande Kleinn, and I’m thrilled to welcome you to the Covet blog tour. I’m giddy to be here myself, and I hope you’re looking forward to my kinky contemporary M/M/M love story. I had a terrific time writing this book—getting to know Jack and Colin and Peter—and I can’t wait for you to meet them too. Follow along for the chance to win a $30 Riptide Publishing gift card!

About Covet

Jack Mason—graphic designer and unrepentant player—has never been interested in monogamy. He certainly isn’t looking for romance when he meets Professor Colin Sloan.

Newly single and not looking for anything serious, Colin is intrigued by Jack’s offer of a physical affair with no strings attached. Becoming friends wasn’t part of the plan, but as accidents go, this one’s pretty great.

Peter Mason is Jack’s identical twin. In a long-term relationship himself, Peter tells no one that he’s falling for his brother’s newest favorite, even as the secret creates tension with his girlfriend.

When Peter’s relationship falls apart, he seduces Colin, fully expecting Jack to forgive his transgression. But Jack is keeping secrets too—he hasn’t told even Colin that he’s fallen in love. Suddenly the twins are feuding, and Colin is caught in the middle, blindsided by the revelation that he doesn’t want to choose between them.

Now all three must find a way to share, or they’ll tear each other apart.

Now available from Riptide Publishing

About Yolande Kleinn

Yolande Kleinn may be a shameless dreamer and a stubborn optimist, but she is also a proud purveyor of erotic romance. Excitable, fastidious, and a little eclectic, she spends every spare moment as far away from reality as possible.

A Minnesotan by both heart and geography, Yolande has plenty of experience weathering tough winters. Her favorite method: distracting herself with warm beverages and even warmer stories. A night spent with a good book is heaven. A morning free to write, with a hot cup of coffee close at hand, is even better.

Connect with Yolande:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Tumblr

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Covet, one lucky winner will receive a $30 Riptide gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 23, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Release Tour for A World Apart by Mel Gough (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  A World Apart

Author: Mel Gough

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: September 18, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 51900

Genre: Contemporary, NineStar Press, LGBT, drugs, HIV, AIDS, TB, familial abuse. Bi, gay. alcoholism, hurt/comfort, law enforcement

Add to Goodreads

~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Mel Gough ~

How much research do you do when writing a story and what are the best sources you’ve found for giving an authentic voice to your characters?

I like to write about medical issues, so I do a lot of research on that. I’ve got a basic understanding of medicine because I started a degree course in biomedical studies. I can usually pick out a topic I want to explore based on my previous knowledge, and then I go and read up on in in detail. Usually I use the internet, in particular to find out about medicines. I use places like WebMD, drugs.com and the NHS website. I like to write about people who are degree-educated, a little bit intellectual, and bookish. Though I step outside that comfort zone with relish: Donnie, in particular, is very much not like that, yet I still love writing him.

Because I prefer writing about Americans, there’s a very real ‘voice’ challenge. I try and watch TV programs and films that are set in the area of the US my stories are set. For ‘A World Apart’ it’s of course perfect that I’m rewatching The Walking Dead whenever I can! Right now I’m watching The Wire and Law & Order, because one of my characters in the book I’m writing is am NYPD cop originally from Baltimore.

What’s harder, naming your characters, creating the title for your book or the cover design process?

I don’t really like making up titles. I love the design process (basically me telling someone else what to do lol). And character names are fun. There are great tools to make silly names with.

How do you answer the question “Oh, you’re an author…what do you write?”

I tell people I write gay romance. If they want to hear more, then I don’t hold back. I’ve decided that I can talk openly about what kind of books I write since I’m very lucky to live in a very liberal, progressive place where LGBTQI issues are topics anyway. And I talk about fanfiction, too. The stigma has mostly disappeared over the last few years.

Synopsis

Ben Griers is the darling of Corinth Georgia’s Police Department—intelligent, handsome, and hardworking. Thanks to his beautiful wife and clever daughter, Ben’s family is the envy of the town. Yet desperate unhappiness is hiding just below the surface.

When Donnie Saunders, a deadbeat redneck with a temper, is brought to the Corinth PD as a suspect in a hit-and-run, Ben finds himself surprisingly intrigued by the man. He quickly establishes Donnie’s innocence but can’t shake the feeling that Donnie is hiding something. When they unexpectedly encounter each other again at an AA meeting in Atlanta, sparks begin to fly.

With his marriage on the verge of collapse, Ben is grateful for the other man’s affection. But he is soon struggling to help an increasingly vulnerable Donnie, while at the same time having to deal with the upheaval in his own life. Ben eventually realizes that they cannot achieve happiness together unless they confront their darkest secrets.

Excerpt

A World Apart
Mel Gough © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

“What have we got, Lou?” Ben asked as he stepped up to the reception desk at Corinth Police Department. He glanced at a handcuffed man sitting on a nearby bench and staring determinately down at the scuffed linoleum floor. The man’s strawberry-blond hair was disheveled, falling low over his forehead and brushing his reddish eyelashes as his eyes flicked up nervously at Ben. He looked to be in his mid-thirties. One knee was jiggling nervously, and his jaw worked as if he was biting the inside of his mouth repeatedly.

“That guy was driving the vehicle involved in the hit-and-run yesterday,” Lou, the gray-haired desk clerk, said, jerking his thumb at the man on the bench. “Browne and O’Donnell brought him in. They’re with the captain.”

Just that moment, the door to the inner sanctum of the station opened, and Jason Browne strode out of Captain Buckley’s office. The sleeves of his uniform were rolled up as usual, to show off his muscular, tanned arms.

“How was court, brother?” Jason sounded cheerful, but his gray eyes were cold. In Ben’s partner and best friend since high school, that was never a good combination. Ben gave Jason a long look, then shrugged.

“As expected.” He didn’t want to think about the peculiar effect the defendant’s words had had on him, and he sure as hell wasn’t going to discuss it in front of a suspect, or Lou.

“You missed all the excitement.” Jason gestured toward the handcuffed man, who was staring at the floor again. “Saunders here knows some pretty colorful language, and he was none too happy to accompany us, neither.”

“Hence the handcuffs?” Ben asked drily.

Jason nodded, smirking.

“Wasn’t me that hit that kid,” Saunders suddenly muttered, his dark voice shaking slightly with suppressed anger. “Told y’all I wasn’t in town.”

Jason sighed, folding his arms across his chest with exaggerated impatience. “And I told you this: We got witnesses placing you at the scene, smart-ass. It’s your word against theirs. Who’re we gonna believe, some deadbeat, or the boy’s mother?”

Ben frowned at his partner. They had been in the radio car on their usual route the day before when the call about a hit-and-run near Corinth High had come over dispatch. O’Donnell and Myers, the department’s other two sergeants, had been closest and responded to the call. Last night, back at the station, O’Donnell had told them that the boy had a broken leg from being flung off his bike, but that he would undoubtedly survive. There really was no need for Jason to be so aggressive about the issue.

Saunders suddenly sat up straight on the bench, glaring at Jason. “It wasn’t me! Why’re ya not listenin’?” His dark blue eyes were wide with fury.

Ben, knowing Jason’s thought processes and impulses nearly as well as his own, stepped in his partner’s way. Gaze fixed on his friend, he said loud enough for Lou and any bystanders to hear, “Why don’t you and I take Mr. Saunders through to the interrogation room for a statement?” He put special emphasis on the last words, hoping Jason would get his meaning: Anything other than a polite request for an official statement from the suspect would be out of order at this point.

Taking Jason’s reluctant jerk of the head as assent, Ben turned around, intending to escort Saunders to the interrogation room. But as soon as his back was turned, Jason stepped nimbly around him and grabbed the man hard by the upper arm.

Saunders flinched, but Jason’s grip on him was like a vise. Saunders’s eyes met Ben’s, and there was pure animal fear in them, as well as something Ben couldn’t quite place. Anguish, perhaps?

He stepped up close behind Jason. “If you dislocate his shoulder there’ll be an awful lot of paperwork to fill in for both of us, brother.” Ben kept his voice quiet and even, but Jason knew him well enough to detect the steely undertone. After a moment, Jason huffed, then let go of Saunders and took a step back. There were finger-shaped marks on Saunders’s well-defined bicep, just below the rolled-up sleeve.

Now Ben stepped forward, and Saunders looked at him. He was still breathing fast, but the fear was beginning to fade from the indigo blue eyes.

Ben motioned at Saunders to stand, then pointed down the corridor. “Would you come this way, please?”

Good cop, bad cop. Ben really hated playing this game, but Jason had left him no choice. Saunders got up. He was no taller than Ben, who just about scraped five foot ten. Jason towered over them both, still glowering. Saunders gave him a quick, disgusted look, then preceded Ben down the dreary-gray hallway, handcuffed arms held stiffly behind him. As Ben followed, he noticed that Saunders’s shoulders were unusually broad for a man his height.

At the door to the interrogation room, Ben let Jason draw ahead. He followed the two men inside and closed the door. Jason approached Saunders, who had backed up against the one-way mirror.

“Turn around,” Jason said gruffly.

Saunders ignored him and stared straight at the bottle-green linoleum floor. Ben spoke before Jason could get angry again. “Sir, the sergeant will move the handcuffs to the front so you can sit down more comfortably.” The indigo blue eyes that met Ben’s were still full of mistrust, but after a moment, they softened and Saunders turned obediently.

“Sit,” Jason said when he had shackled Saunders’s arms again in the front. Saunders sat down heavily in the single chair on one side of the square floor-bolted table. Ben and Jason took the two chairs opposite.

Leaning forward, Ben waited until he had the suspect’s attention. “Do you mind if we record this conversation?”

“Yer arresting me?” The narrow blue eyes were suspicious again, but Saunders sounded more wary than belligerent. And he completely ignored Jason, his gaze never wavering from Ben.

“No, we’re not,” Ben said quietly. “But having a record of what we talk about will aid your cause.”

Saunders chewed this over, trying to decide whether Ben was telling the truth. Eventually he gave a small shrug.

“Sir,” Ben said. “Please state for the protocol: Do you mind if we record this conversation?” Forcing the police procedural on this man was surprisingly distressing. Saunders gave him a pained look.

“Go ‘head.”

Jason pressed the digital recorder button on the small panel in the tabletop to his right. But it was Ben who spoke again. When they interrogated a suspect together, Ben usually started off the interview. His milder, calmer demeanor tended to relax the atmosphere better than Jason’s hot temper. For now, Jason seemed to have gotten all his anger out by playing scary cop in front of Lou and sat quietly back in his chair.

“Statement protocol, September twenty-second, eleven forty-five a.m. Officers present: Sergeant Ben Griers and Sergeant Jason Browne.” Ben nodded at the suspect. “Please state your full name for the record, sir.”

“Donnie Saunders.” The man’s voice was quiet, and he sounded tired.

Ben waited for Saunders to look at him again, and nodded his thanks. Then he glanced at Jason, eyebrows raised, reminding his partner with his most level stare to act appropriately. “Officer Browne will now ask you a few questions.”

“Alright,” Jason said. Ben took this as the opening of the interview and an affirmation that he would stay calm. “Mr. Saunders, your pickup truck was seen driving away after hitting Dennis Mallory on his bike while he was riding home after school yesterday afternoon at about three thirty p.m.”

“I told y’all three times now, it wasn’t me. Why is it that ya can’t hear me?” Saunders’s voice had risen again in volume, but there was a strange quiver in it, too. He leaned back in his chair as far as he could, regarding Jason from eyes narrowed in anger.

Before Jason, who looked ready to explode again, could respond, Ben said quickly, “Let’s rephrase the question: Sir, where were you yesterday at three thirty p.m.?”

Saunders didn’t immediately reply. His eyes darted nervously around the room, never meeting Ben’s, and ignoring Jason completely. Then they settled on the shackled, tightly folded hands in his lap.

Is he trying to come up with a lie?

Eventually, Saunders said, “Was in Atlanta. Had an appointment at the DFCS.” His voice was very quiet, and he didn’t look up. It didn’t sound like a lie, but a truth the man was reluctant to share.

Ben decided not to press for details. It was none of his business why the guy had been summoned to the Division of Family and Children Services. As long as he could determine that Saunders had been forty miles away from the scene of the hit-and-run, he had done his job.

“I need to know who you were there to see,” Ben said just as quietly, and wasn’t surprised when his gaze was met with one of suspicion again. He added in explanation, “A phone call to the person you had the appointment with will clear you.”

Saunders gave a small jerk of the head in understanding. “Stacy Miller.”

“Thank you.” Ben looked at Jason, considering his options. Could he leave these two alone for a few minutes? His partner’s steely gaze never wavered from Saunders, and Ben could feel Jason’s tension. But if he told Jason to make the phone call, would he try very hard to get at the truth? No, Ben would have to call the DFCS himself. He’d just be really quick about it.

“Jason, stay with Mr. Saunders. I’m going to call Ms. Miller.”

Not waiting for Jason’s acknowledgment, or asking permission from Saunders to make the call on his behalf, Ben got up and left the room. He went back to the front desk. “Lou, find me the number for Atlanta DFCS.”

The desk clerk looked grumpy for a moment but then started hacking away at his keyboard without a word. Finally he picked up the phone, dialed a number, and held the receiver out to Ben.

“DFCS switchboard,” a tinny voice announced in Ben’s ear. “How can I help?”

“Stacy Miller, please,” Ben said, ignoring Lou, who was trying hard to look like he wasn’t listening in.

“Hold the line.”

Ben half turned away while he listened to the annoying phone queue music. After a few moments, there was a click and a crisp voice said, “Medicaid assessment team. How can I help you?”

“Is this Stacy Miller?”

“It is. Who’s asking?”

“Ms. Miller, this is Sergeant Ben Griers, Corinth PD. Did a man by the name of Donnie Saunders have an appointment with you yesterday afternoon?” Ben mentally crossed his fingers that the mention of his rank would suffice to elicit this piece of fairly innocuous information. Legally, he had no leg to stand on, but his experience had taught him that a courteous yet firm manner often got you surprisingly far.

And his experience held true again. After only a moment, the woman on the other end said, “Yes, he did.”

“And he attended?”

“Yes.”

“What time was his appointment?”

“Three p.m. But we were running late, so I think I started with him around three fifteen.”

“And how long was he there for?”

“About forty-five minutes. Officer, is Mr. Saunders alright?”

That was a surprising question. State employees usually had no time or interest to worry about the hundreds of people that passed by their desks every week. But then, here Ben was himself, trying to help Saunders as well, as quickly and with as little delay as possible. Maybe some of us do still care.

“He’s fine. Ma’am, if I were to check your office’s visitor register for yesterday, would the record back up your statement?”

“It would,” Ms. Miller said composedly. “And you’d find a parking permit in Mr. Saunders’s name as well. We don’t have much space out front, so clients get timed permits for the parking lot at the back.”

That was more than good enough for Ben. “Thank you for your time, ma’am.”

“You’re welcome, Officer. Have a good day.”

“And you.”

Ben put the phone down, nodded at Lou, and swiftly turned his back before the desk clerk could make a comment or ask any questions.

As he walked down the corridor toward the interrogation room, Ben’s mind was on the phone call, even as he kept telling himself that, beyond establishing a suspect’s alibi, what he had just learned was none of his business. But he couldn’t help wondering about it. Why had Saunders gone to the Medicaid office? He didn’t look ill. Of course, there were a dozen possible reasons. A sick family member. An old injury that no insurance would cover. Or even trying to get at some extra state assistance for no good reason at all. None of this was relevant to the case, and as he reached the interrogation room, Ben tried his best to push the thoughts from his mind.

He opened the door but didn’t rejoin the other two at the table. “Mr. Saunders, your alibi for yesterday afternoon was confirmed by Ms. Miller. You’re free to leave.”

Jason looked around at Ben, scowling. Ben ignored his partner and kept his eyes on Saunders, who, after a fleeting look of surprise, raised his shackled wrists. “Ya gonna let me keep them as a souvenir?”

Surprisingly, he didn’t sound aggrieved. Ben had been prepared for righteous indignation and anger, and wouldn’t have blamed the man for it. But Saunders just sat there, looking kind of tired and defeated. He held his arms out without comment as Jason leaned over with the handcuff keys. Once he was free, Saunders got up and, without a glance at Jason, walked toward the door. When he drew level with Ben, he stopped, eyes on the floor in front of him.

“Thanks,” he muttered quietly, then strode out of the room.

Ben glanced after Saunders as the man continued down the hall, shoulders hitched, face averted from the people milling around the lobby. A strange sensation rose up in him. Was it pity? He tried to tell himself that it was only natural to take an interest, feel something, after what Jason had put this man through without a single good reason.

And for Ben, the whole thing wasn’t over yet. Turning to his partner with a scowl, he asked, “Why were you so sure it was him? You practically had him convicted already.”

Jason shrugged. “Witness said they saw a dark brown pickup, same as Saunders has. And today, he was just sort of hanging around the gas station on Fullerton. Thought we should check him out.”

“Did you have anything else to go on? Description of the driver, partial number plate, anything?”

“Nope.”

Jason sounded smug, and Ben had to take a deep breath to keep his voice level. “Did he maybe behave in a suspicious manner?”

“Maybe,” Jason agreed as he got up. In Jason-speak that meant: Just didn’t like the look of the dude.

Jason sometimes got like this; he was all guts and instinct and reaction. That had its uses in policing, too, and Ben usually made excuses for his friend’s hot-headedness, because it mostly came from the right place in his heart. But somehow, this time he couldn’t. Maybe it had happened one time too many. Or maybe, because this time Jason’s ire had focused on a completely innocent party, he’d simply rubbed Ben the wrong way.

As he followed Jason out of the room, Ben hissed, “Since this was your party, brother, you can write it up for the captain as well, alright?” This would annoy Jason more than anything. He hated writing reports.

Without another word, Ben strode past the other man and out into the parking lot. He needed a moment to calm down or else he might well punch his partner and best friend in the face before the day was done.

Purchase

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Meet the Author

Mel was born in Germany, where she spent the first twenty-six years of her life (with a one-year stint in Los Angeles). She has always been fascinated by cultures and human interaction, and got a Masters in Social Anthropology. After finishing university she moved to London, where she has now lived for ten years.

If you were to ask her parents what Mel enjoyed the most since the age of six, they would undoubtedly say “Reading!” She would take fifteen books on a three-week beach holiday, and then read all her mom’s books once she’d devoured her own midway through week two.

Back home in her mom’s attic there’s a box full of journals with stories Mel wrote when she was in her early teens. None of the stories are finished, or any good. She has told herself bedtime stories as far back as she can remember.

In her day job, Mel works for an NGO as operations manager. No other city is quite like London, and Mel loves her city. The hustle and bustle still amaze and thrill her even after all these years. When not reading, writing or going to the theater, Mel spends her time with her long-time boyfriend, discussing science or poking fun at each other.

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Tour Schedule

9/18 Divine Magazine

9/18 My Fiction Nook

9/18 Stories That Make You Smile

9/19 A Book Lover’s Dream Book Blog

9/19 Boy Meets Boy Reviews

9/19 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

9/19 Zipper Rippers

9/20 Happily Ever Chapter

9/20 Outrageous Heroes of Romance

9/21 Bayou Book Junkie

9/21 Drops of Ink

9/21 Love Bytes

9/22 MM Good Book Reviews

9/22 Xtreme Delusions

Giveaway

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In addition Mel Gough has the following giveaways for our readers to enter:

A giveaway for her book release.
As well as a couple of giveaways during Mel Gough’s Facebook launch party. Please visit this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/116042149068904/

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