Love a Cozy Mystery? Check Out the New Release Tour for Boiling Over (The Caro Mysteries #2) by Thea McAlistair (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Boiling Over

Series: The Caro Mysteries, Book Two

Author: Thea McAlistair

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: January 6, 2019

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 73800

Genre: Historical LGBT, gay, historical mystery, cozy mystery, age gap, established couple, mental illness, anxiety, PTSD, private detective, New England

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Synopsis

On the run from trumped-up murder charges, Alex Dawson and his boyfriend Sev settle in a small town in Vermont on the recommendation of Sev’s mob-boss cousin Bella. Chickadee is so tiny that it has only one major employer in the depths of the Great Depression: Trask & Co. Maple Sugar Mill. It’s a quiet place. That is, until Walter Trask is found in his own maple grove with his head smashed in.

Alex doesn’t want to have anything to do with the death, but things get much more personal when Bella is falsely arrested. Determined to free her and even the scales, Alex scours the town for clues as to what really happened. He quickly learns that small towns have big secrets that people may be willing to kill for. And if that weren’t bad enough, Alex and Sev’s once-sweet relationship is turning bitter under the combined pressures of isolation, anxiety, and jealousy. Alex needs to find the true murderer quickly before Bella is turned over to the feds, or worse, Sev walks out of his life forever.

Excerpt

Boiling Over
Thea McAlistair © 2020
All Rights Reserved

When Sev first asked me to run away with him, he’d mentioned exotic places like India and Australia, warm countries far away from the seedy city we were living in. It had sounded romantic and wonderful, and when we finally left—well, fled—I had hopes of going somewhere like that. Instead, we ended up in Chickadee, Vermont.

Chickadee was a small town, about a half-hour drive from the Canadian border and about a six-hour drive from our old home in Connecticut. In all my twenty-three years, I’d never set foot in the countryside, and now there was all this empty space. Blue sky. Trees. Cows.

“Bella wants us to stay here?” I asked as I gaped at the maple forest flashing by the car window. “It’s so…rustic.”

“Well, just think, Alex,” grumbled Sev, his faint Italian accent tinged with unease as he guided the rickety borrowed Oldsmobile over bumps on the dirt road, “it’s better than the alternatives, yes?”

Considering the alternatives were dead and arrested for murder, he was right. Less than a month ago, I’d been living my dull life, writing during the day and serving as a bodyguard for the mayor in the evenings, and then all hell broke loose. Now nine people were dead, including my friends Martin and Donnie, and the corrupt cops wouldn’t even think of hearing my side of the story. Targeting the big guy with a chip on his shoulder the size of New England was almost too easy for them.

“It’s pretty here!” chimed Pearl from the back.

I twisted to look at her. She perched on the edge of the seat, her already-large eyes expanded in wonder. Her cat, Daisy, sulked in a metal cage next to her. I still wasn’t sure it’d been the brightest idea to take a six-year-old on the lam with us, but it was too late now. At least she seemed to be enjoying the trip. And why wouldn’t she? She wasn’t the one running from murder charges.

“Bit different from the city, huh?” I asked, careful to keep my voice cheerful for her.

She nodded and returned to staring at the trees.

I slumped back into my seat, grateful she didn’t seem to share my unease.

Sev nudged my arm. “Which road do I take?”

I straightened and peered out the windshield. We were coming up on an intersection, if a split of one dirt track into two could be called that. I scrambled to unfold the map I’d crumpled in my distraction. Sev’s cousin Bella—the most notorious gangster in Westwick—had given us these directions and all our fake identification papers first thing that morning.

Why Bella had chosen Chickadee to hide us from the cops was a mystery. She hadn’t given me a straight answer when I asked, only that she had friends there and Sev would be working with one of them. Most likely the location had something to do with the rum-running routes she’d controlled until about six months ago. While the end of Prohibition had cut the bottom out from under her main moneymaker, there were many other ways to make an illegal living, and why leave when she already had a foot in the door?

“Left,” I said, tracing the hand-drawn line with my finger. “Looks like another mile and we reach town.”

Sev obeyed, taking the left fork. The car turned in a wide arc around yet more trees. Both sides of the road were obscured by underbrush and shadow. Sev swore under his breath in Italian and slowed even more.

“They should clear this,” he muttered. “Someone’s going to get hit one day.”

“Who’s going to get hit?” I answered. “There’s no one out he—”

Sev slammed the brakes as a figure darted from between the trunks. I jolted forward and got the wind knocked out of me as I smacked into the dashboard. Pearl screamed, tumbling into the back of my seat. The rattle of the cat cage almost drowned out Daisy’s yowls.

Blinded by pain, I groped for Sev. “Everyone okay?” I gasped.

He grabbed my hand and squeezed. “Fine,” he said.

Pearl wailed. I turned, ignoring the objections of my bruised ribs. She huddled in the space between the back bench and the front seat, clutching her wrist. My already-pitching stomach dropped. I’d brought her with us to get her away from all the pain in her past, and now here was more. I scrambled out the door and around the back to get her.

“You’re all right; you’re all right,” I mumbled in an effort to convince myself my assurance was true. “Can I see?”

Pearl snuffled and presented her arm. Already her wrist was red and swelling. I held back the curses bubbling in my mind. In a flash of anger, I whipped around to see what jackass had done this.

To my surprise, I only saw a girl straddling a sturdy bike. She was maybe sixteen or seventeen, wearing men’s dungarees and a gingham shirt. Freckles were splattered across her face, and ash-blonde braids draped down her back. She gnawed on her lip, her eyes huge with fear.

“I’m so sorry,” she squeaked. “There’s almost never anyone out here—”

“Alex?” Sev called. He sounded muffled. I looked at the driver’s side door. He had gotten out and had one hand curled around the lower half of his face while the other scrambled in a pocket. “I think I might have been mistaken when I said I was fine.” He pulled out a handkerchief, and I saw both his nose and his upper lip were bleeding.

Fear, anger, and unbidden memories tangled up in my mind, freezing my mouth in one slack-jawed position, keeping me mute.

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Don’t miss Book #1 in the Caro Mysteries series, No Good Men, available from NineStar Press

In 1934, almost everyone struggles to pay the rent, and Alex Dawson is no exception. To support his writing habit, he moonlights with his mentor Donnie as a bodyguard for the mayor. It’s dull work, until the night a handsome, golden-eyed stranger catches his eye–and both his boss and his mentor are killed when his back is turned.

Jobless and emotionally adrift, Alex vows to find the murderer before the corrupt police can pin the blame on him. But he soon discovers he’s in over his head. The golden-eyed stranger turns out to be a mob boss’s cousin, and a suspicious stack of money in Donnie’s dresser leads Alex to discover that his mentor and the mayor were involved in something more crooked than fundraising dinners and campaign speeches. As the death count rises amid corruption, mob politics, and anarchist plots, Alex realizes that the murders aren’t political or even business. This is the work of a spree killer, and Alex and his new boyfriend are the only ones who can stop them.

Meet the Author

Thea McAlistair is the pseudonym of an otherwise terribly boring office worker from New Jersey. She studied archaeology, anthropology, history, architecture, and public policy, but none of those panned out, so she decided to go back to an early love – writing. She can often be found muttering to herself about her latest draft at completely inappropriate times.

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Release Blitz for Tiki Torches and Treasure (Gabe Maxfield Mysteries #2) by J.C. Long (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Tiki Torches and Treasure

Series: Gabe Maxfield Mysteries, Book 2

Author: J.C Long

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: November 6, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 60000

Genre: Contemporary, contemporary gay, romance, private detective, cozy mystery, law enforcement, Hawaii, humor

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Synopsis

Gabe Maxfield has reached a comfortable point in his life. His past troubles in Seattle are all but forgotten, he co-owns his own business, Paradise Investigations, with his best friend Grace Park, and he’s happy in his relationship with sexy cop—his neighbor—Maka Kekoa. Maybe the best part is, no one’s pointed a gun at him in weeks.

Knowing his luck, that is bound to change. Lack of clients and money forces Paradise Investigations to take a job helping Edwin Biers search for a treasure he promises will be worth their while. Gabe has a knack for finding trouble, though, and find it, he does.

Excerpt

Tiki Torches and Treasure
J.C. Long © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

I was drowning.

Salt water burned my nose as I flailed my arms and legs in the ocean, trying desperately to reorient myself. Every time I started to surface, the ocean waves broke over me again and again. I was done for.

When I finally surfaced and the water drained from my ears, I could hear my companions laughing at my expense—my best friend, Grace Park, sounded like she was going to asphyxiate herself from laughing too hard. My boyfriend, Maka Kekoa, at least had the decency to attempt to hide his laughter from me.

“I’m glad my near-death causes you such amusement,” I growled, glaring at them as best I could with salt water from the Pacific Ocean stinging my eyes. “I knew surfing lessons from you two was a bad idea.”

The three of us were floating in the ocean a ways off from the shore of Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii, the city I now called home. Well, I was floating in the ocean, which was where I seemed to spend all my time in these lessons. Maka and Grace effortlessly straddled surfboards, Maka also keeping a tight grip on mine so it didn’t get swept away by the waves.

“Don’t get frustrated,” Maka told me supportively once he’d schooled his face to mask his laughter. “No one does it well on their first try. It’s kind of like sex.”

I didn’t take much comfort from his words.

“How about the four-hundredth time?” I grumbled, swimming to the surfboard. I managed to heave my body onto it, feeling the sun warm my skin. I’d gotten tan in my month of being out and about in the constant sunshine of Hawaii, and my hair had gotten longer, almost enough to give me the surfer image. Now if I could just stay on the damn board.

“Don’t be grouchy, Gabe,” Grace chided, splashing water my way. She looked beautiful in the morning sunlight, her dark skin glistening. She wore a teal bikini that showed off her trim, fit form, toned from a lifetime of exercise and the surfing she’d taken up in Hawaii. She was half Hawaiian and half Korean, which is what drew her to Hawaii after we both graduated college in Washington.

“We’ve been at this for two weeks, and I have improved exactly zero percent.” I probably sounded like a whiny kid complaining to them, but I couldn’t help it. I hated not being good at something. “I think I’m just not meant to be a surfer.”

“Everybody’s meant to be a surfer,” Maka said, as if I’d made the most ridiculous remark ever. Grace nodded her head in emphatic agreement.

“Easy for you to say,” I scoffed, flailing my arms wildly as a wave nearly displaced me from my board again. “You were a professional surfer, remember? And you,” I rounded on Grace, “were basically born incapable of being bad at something. Me… I’m just me.”

It felt strange having a pity party in the ocean on a beautiful mid-October morning. Hawaii was paradise in a lot of ways—the sunshine seemed constant, and at a time when Seattle would already be plunging into a chill that heralded winter, it was warm and pleasant in Hawaii. I wasn’t a morning person, though, and Maka and Grace insisted we have these lessons before work. That meant we were usually in the ocean by a quarter to seven.

“You’re more than ‘just you’ to me, babe,” Maka assured me with a wink, making me blush.

Maka was full-blooded native Hawaiian, and he had the complexion to prove it, bronzed by a life spent frolicking in the sun and waves. He had broad shoulders and narrow hips and was taller than my five foot eight, with perfect black hair and lush, full lips that were utterly kissable. His deep brown eyes always seemed to twinkle, as if a powerful light danced behind them.

“Ugh.” Grace rolled her eyes and pretended to gag.

“You’re jealous,” I teased, sticking my tongue out at her.

“Jealous of you having to eat the same meal every night, so to speak? I don’t think so.”

“Hey, if I could eat prime rib every night, I would,” I said.

“Did you really just compare me to ribs?” Maka asked flatly.

“Huh? What? No—I was referring to eating the same meal every night…” I trailed off, realizing how it must have sounded to Maka, even though I didn’t mean it that way.

“If I’m anything,” Maka went on firmly, “I’m loco moco.”

I gaped at him for a moment. He had a problem with being called prime rib, but wanted to be a rice bowl topped with a hamburger, a fried egg, and gravy.

“Actually,” I said after a moment, “I can see that.” And I could. Loco moco was something you wanted to splurge on, something that was decadent, almost sinful. That description fit Maka to the letter.

I tried to give him a smoldering look, but a rogue wave rocked under me, catching me off guard and dumping me once more into the sea.

“Can we please call it a day now?” I pleaded once I was back on my board.

Grace looked like she was in no hurry to bring my suffering to an end, but Maka took pity and checked his watch.

“Actually, we should call it a day. I still need to shower and get to work. It’s going on nine, now; I can only justify going in so late a few times a week, or the chief gets pissy.”

“We also have office hours,” I reminded Grace for what felt like the tenth time that week. She was really good at what she did—we were private investigators—but she didn’t have the mindset necessary to run a business. That had been handled by her partner before me, and Grace was still getting the hang of being in charge of both sides of the business. Well, partially, since we equally shared ownership and those responsibilities.

“This is what we have a secretary for,” Grace pointed out, though she reluctantly began paddling to shore, Maka and I following suit.

“Poor Hayley’s only been with us for a week,” I panted, tired from the lesson and making it back to shore. “Give her a break.”

“Best way for her to learn is to just throw her into the pool,” Grace said once we were back ashore.

I didn’t respond immediately; I was too busy sucking in sweet, sweet oxygen and hoping my wobbly legs didn’t give out as I trudged through the hot, sun-baked sand to the place we’d left our towels.

“I guess it doesn’t matter so much,” I said when I could. “Business has been pretty slow since we hired her. Not good, considering the office we’ve got now. Rent’s a bitch.”

When I’d agreed to be Grace’s partner at the private investigation firm she’d been co-partner in, Paradise Investigations, I helped finance a move to a new building, worlds nicer than the one she’d been in before.

We’d had a keen interest in us the first week or so after the move, considering how we were constantly in the news regarding the murder mystery I’d solved to get Grace off a murder charge. The interest had died down in the following weeks; as it stood now, we hadn’t taken on a new client in five days, and we’d finished the current projects three days before, which meant three days of no billable hours, and thus no money coming in.

“We could always fire her,” Grace suggested, tossing me my towel. “It’d be one less salary we needed to pay.”

“That doesn’t seem right,” I said, though I’d probably consider it after another week of no income being earned. “I’m sure we’ll get by.”

“We could always take an ad out on TV,” Grace suggested suddenly.

“Isn’t that tacky?” Maka wrinkled his nose a bit.

Grace shielded her eyes from the sun, squinting at Maka. “It’s not like we’re lawyers.”

“Even if it isn’t tacky, we can’t afford it,” I reminded her as I wrapped my towel around my waist and gathered my board under my arm for the trek back to our cars. “We’re going to have to pray someone comes in and offers us a job that isn’t finding a lost cat or staking out seedy motels—something we can get some money out of.”

Grace grunted, her spirits somewhat dampened by my pragmatism, but I knew she would get over it. This was our relationship, often consisting of her being flighty and dreamy and me being the cord that pulled her—sometimes forcefully—back down to earth.

“Okay, I’ve got to go,” Maka said when we reached his car. “Already running late.”

“See,” I said, pausing long enough to take a quick kiss on the lips—though I wanted much, much more than a quick kiss—before continuing. “This is yet another good reason we should just stop these morning surfing lessons.”

“Not gonna happen. Seeing you dripping wet is worth being late to work.”

And again, in the space of ten minutes, I blushed.

“You two are disgusting,” Grace muttered.

“Shut up, Grace.”

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Meet the Author

J.C. Long is an American expat living in Japan, though he’s also lived stints in Seoul, South Korea—no, he’s not an army brat; he’s an English teacher. He is also quite passionate about Welsh corgis and is convinced that anyone who does not like them is evil incarnate. His dramatic streak comes from his life-long involvement in theater. After living in several countries aside from the United States J. C. is convinced that love is love, no matter where you are, and is determined to write stories that demonstrate exactly that. J. C. Long’s favorite things in the world are pictures of corgis, writing and Korean food (not in that order…okay, in that order). J. C. spends his time not writing thinking about writing, coming up with new characters, attending Big Bang concerts and wishing he was writing. The best way to get him to write faster is to motivate him with corgi pictures. Yes, that is a veiled hint.

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