Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Lesley A. Diehl - A Sporting Murder - Review & Giveaway

About the Book

It's smooth sailing for Eve Appel and her friend Madeleine, owners of Second to None Consignment Shop in rural Florida's Sabal Bay, land of swamps, cowboys, and lots and lots of 'gators. Eve and her detective boyfriend Alex have joined Madeleine and her new beau David Wilson for a pleasure cruise on his boat. But cloudy, dangerous waters lie ahead. A near fatal encounter with Blake Reed, David's supremely nasty neighbor, is soon followed by a shooting death on the dividing line between David and Blake's land. Both men run sport-hunting reserves, but Blake imports "exotics" from Africa and promotes gator killing, while David stays within the law, pointing clients toward the abundant quail and turkey as well as the wild pigs that ravage the landscape. Nevertheless, when a mutual client is killed, it is David who is arrested and charged with murder.

Blake's nastiness is only exceeded by that of his wife, Elvira, who forces Eve and Madeleine out of their shop, intending to replace it with a consignment shop of her own. It seems that bad luck looms over them all, even Eve's brawny and hard-to-resist Miccosukee Indian friend Sammy, whose nephew has disappeared. As the case against David grows stronger and his friends' misfortunes multiply, Eve and her strange and diverse group of friends, including her ex, a mobster, her grandma, and Sammy's extended family, band together to take on the bad guys. But the waters are getting muddier and more troubled, and Eve and Madeleine may end up inundated in every sense of the word.

My Review

Cutthroat business competition.

That's what drives this mystery novel.

And the competing parties meet during what's supposed to be a fun Sunday out on the water. Eve and Madeleine are on a double date with their boyfriends, Alex and David. Madeleine's swimming next to David's boat when Blake Reed suddenly motors up next to them and tosses a bucket of bloody bait over the side, attracting a whole swarm of sharks. Madeleine barely makes it onboard before they start attacking everything bobbing on the surface.

Eve doesn't wait to give Blake a piece of her mind, but she's taken aback by his "So what?" reaction to almost getting her best friend killed.

"His predatory gaze reminded me of what I'd seen in the shark's eyes when it surfaced to take the bait. Hungry. Evil. A killing machine."

Eve and Madeleine had hoped to enjoy their day off, since owning the consignment shop, Second to None, usually has them working six days a week, and resting on the seventh. They have to bust their butts to stay afloat in a risky retail climate by catering to the tastes of the rich matrons along the Florida coast.

But when they go back to work on Monday, after their nasty encounter with Blake, their rent is suddenly doubled overnight, forcing them to have to move out without much notice. And who's the person taking their space? Blake's wife, Elvira. She's out to ruin them by starting her own clothing store in their location.

"Yes, I know what you do. I intend to do the same."

It doesn't help that David is also competing against Blake when it comes to their abutting hunting ranches. However, David is actually looking to sell. A few years ago, a thirteen-year-old intruder broke into his home and threatened his daughter at gunpoint. David had no choice but to shoot the kid, killing him in the process. Ever since, he's hated guns, wanting to put as much distance between them as he can.

But David doesn't want to give the ranch away either, but he might not have a choice when a client is found dead on his property.

David admits that he got into an argument with the man, telling him not to kill the exotic oryx that wandered over from the Reed ranch. Stocking exotic game isn't a practice that David approves of.

"Hunt what Florida has to offer—not setting up the African plains in Sabal Bay." 

But the man apparently shoots the oryx because his body is found sprawled in the mud next to the animal carcass.

When Blake Reed arrives on his neighbor's property to see what all the ruckus is about, Eve watches him intently.

"I wondered at someone who could drive up to a crime scene, see a human corpse, and remark only on the dead animal lying nearby. The guy was a piece of work."

In the end, David is charged with first-degree murder, and Eve firmly believes that Blake Reed set him up—she only has to prove it.

Then Second to None burns down.

Eve and Madeleine are forced to transition their business into a mobile home, converting it into a "new shop on wheels" while hitting local outdoor flea markets and casino parking lots. Yet they can't help but wonder if Elvira was behind it when the fire is ruled an arson.

But the Reeds have something much more sinister in store for them than just taking their livelihood, and throwing their loved ones in prison. Eve and Madeleine are about to find out just how exotic the game is at the Reed ranch, and how dangerous a game this psychotic couple is ready to play.


A Sporting Murder can be purchased at:
Barnes and Noble

Formats/Prices: $4.95 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Genres: Cozy Murder Mystery
Pages: 250
Release: July 15, 2015
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603819398
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

About the Author

Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York. In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport. Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse. When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.

She is the author of a number of mystery series and mysteries as well as short stories. A Sporting Murder follows the first two books in the Eve Appel mystery series, A Secondhand Murder and Dead in the Water.

Links to connect with Lesley:
Web Site
Blog Tour Site

About the Giveaway

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Kathleen M. Rodgers - Johnnie Come Lately - Review & Giveaway

About the Book

Would life have been different for Johnnie if she'd been named after a woman rather than her dead uncle? Or if her mama hadn't been quite so beautiful or flighty? The grandparents who raised her were loving, but they didn't understand the turmoil roiling within her. And they had so many, many secrets.

Why did her mama leave? Would she ever return? How did her Uncle Johnny really die? Who was her father? Now Johnnie Kitchen is a 43-year-old woman with three beautiful children, two of them grown. She has a handsome, hardworking husband who adores her, and they live in the historic North Texas town of Portion in a charming bungalow. But she never finished college and her only creative outlet is a journal of letters addressed to both the living and the dead. Although she has conquered the bulimia that almost killed her, Johnnie can never let down her guard, lest the old demons return. Or perhaps they never went away to begin with. For Johnnie has secrets of her own, and her worst fear is that the life she's always wanted--the one where she gets to pursue her own dreams--will never begin.

Not until her ghosts reveal themselves.

My Review

Why does a woman cheat on her husband?

There are so many reasons, you can probably write a book about it.

And Kathleen M. Rodgers did.

Johnnie Kitchen is good at keeping secrets until…

The following conversation happens with her seventeen-year-old son, Cade, who just put his baseball scholarship at risk by getting caught underage drinking.

He moans:

"I wish I were dead."

And she replies:

"I had an affair." 

She puts things sharply in perspective by basically admitting to her son that she's not perfect either.

And just like that, years and years of suppressed guilt come tumbling out.

However, Johnnie's revelation results in upending her entire family. Her husband, Dale, moves out. Her teenage daughter, Callie Ann, can't even look at her. Her eldest son, D.J., asks:

"Is Dad my real father?" 

But Johnnie's been frustrated for a long time. She's sick of doing housework. She wants to be useful for a change. She wants to a have a purpose. She realizes she never pushed her husband about pursuing the things she really wanted in life. She should have never dropped out of college. She should have never let him view her as one of his fixer-up projects.

Because Johnnie has some skeletons in her closet. She's a recovering bulimic and the tragic circumstances surrounding her birth—from her father's death to her mother's disappearance—all lead her to act out in ways that are destructive to her happiness. She admits:

"There's been a lot of information withheld from me all my life. Then I went and did the same thing to Dale."

Dale was the only one who cared about getting her better, putting her into therapy for her bulimia once they got married.

"She watched the life getting sucked out of the only person who had tried to save her." 

She cheated on him with his arch rival, Jeral Cagle, the son of his former employer. When Dale left and went off to start his own construction company, Jeral tried to put him out of business, but that didn't stop Johnnie from sleeping with him.

Johnnie says she only strayed because Dale was never home, he was always working, building her a beautiful life with his own two hands. He even asks her flat out:

"Where would you be without me?" 

In her defense, Johnnie responds:

"I wanted to be with someone who didn't know I was broken, who wouldn't try to fix me. I stashed [you] behind a closed door, same place I stashed God when I was retching."

She feels unworthy of her husband's goodness. He's an attractive man who women tend to notice, yet he was never unfaithful to her. He even gets out of his truck in the rain to help a senior citizen cross the street. He's that good.

"He'd been the strong sturdy trunk rooted to the spot. She'd been the swaying leaves, changing colors to fit her moods."

How they go about fixing their marriage is as real as it is honest. For months, Dale doesn't want to talk about it, and when he does, things get pretty intense. But they make the commitment to each other to work it out, trying to salvage what they have together. Their love has endured a lot, but can it endure the repercussions of her betrayal?


Johnnie Come Lately can be purchased at:
Barnes and Noble

Special $2.99 ebook sale!
now through July 31, 2015

Formats/Prices: $4.95 ebook, $9.75 paperback
Genres: Military Family, Women's Fiction, Literary Fiction
Pages: 292
Release: February 1, 2015
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603812153
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

About the Author

Award-winning author Kathleen M. Rodgers is a former frequent contributor to Family Circle magazine and Military Times. Her work has also appeared in anthologies published by McGraw-Hill, University of Nebraska Press/Potomac Books, Health Communications, Inc., AMG Publishers, and Press 53. She is the author of the award-winning novel, The Final Salute, featured in USA Today, The Associated Press, and Military Times. Deer Hawk Publications reissued the novel in e-book and paperback September of 2014.

Her second novel, Johnnie Come Lately, released from Camel Press February 1, 2015. Barnes and Noble in Southlake, TX hosted the official launch on February 7, and Kathleen signed copies of both novels for three hours straight. In 2014, she was named a Distinguished Alumna from Tarrant County College/NE Campus.

She is the mother of two grown sons, Thomas, a graduate of University of North Texas and a working artist in Denton, TX, and J.P., a graduate of Texas Tech University and a former Army officer who earned a Bronze Star in 2014 in Afghanistan. Kathleen’s husband, Tom, is a retired fighter pilot/commercial airline pilot, and they reside in Colleyville, TX with their rescue dog, Denton. Kathleen is working on a new novel titled Seven Wings to Glory and is represented by Loiacono Literary Agency.

Links to connect with Kathleen:
Web Site
Blog Tour Site

About the Giveaway

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