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Archive for April, 2018

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The Remains in the Pond by Ann Swann

Senior prom is the happiest night of Gabi’s life. Her crush has just revealed that he is every bit as infatuated with her as she is with him. When he has a car wreck and is transported to the hospital in a coma, Gabi feels as if she’s taken a knife to the heart. But his jealous cousin, Rose, sees her chance to give the knife an even harder twist. She convinces Gabi to meet her at a local parking spot outside town. It’s a night that will change several lives forever. One of the girls will return, and one will become known as the remains in the pond.

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Author’s Bio

I’ve been a writer since junior high school, but to pay the bills I’ve waited tables, delivered newspapers, cleaned other people’s houses, taught school, and had a short stint in a rock-n-roll radio station scheduling commercials. I also worked as a 911 operator and a police dispatcher.

I won a few awards for short fiction in college. Some of my winning entries have been published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, The Binnacle, Timeless, an anthology, The Rusty Nail, The Sandstorm, Reflections, and Blue Mountain Review among others. My Middle Grade Phantom books (Stevie-girl and the Phantom Pilot, Stevie-girl and the Phantom Student, and Stevie-girl and the Phantom of Crybaby Bridge) were published by a small press in 2011. My Women’s Novel, All For Love, was published in 2012. Stutter Creek, Lilac Lane, and Copper Lake, (Suspense trilogy) were all published by 5 Prince Books. Stutter Creek remains my bestseller.

I recently jumped into the self-publishing pond with my speculative novel Takers: Apocalypse in Eden. After all these years, I finally came to the realization that for me, writing is the cathartic pause in an otherwise stressful life. Most of the time, it even keeps me sane.

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My Review

4 stars

It is 1999 and Senior Prom in the little town of Live Oak, Texas. Gabi Kelly is with her closet gay friend, Asa Letter. But Gabi has a crush on Matt Brennan and they are finally going to dance and learn that they have the same feelings for each other. But Rose Lintz, Matt’s cousin is not happy with Gabi and decides to do something about her. What happens next is anyone’s guess, especially since Gabi doesn’t know everything that happened at the pond.

Gabi is a suspect but she leave town shortly after the prom. She has made her way in the world but can’t forget that night. She moves often and is haunted but finally decides that she needs to know what happened to put Matt in a coma and a body in the pond.

This is my first book from Ann Swann. The blurb on the back is what drew me in. I liked the mystery around the body and what happened. I think this was told well and kept me engaged. Unfortunately most of the book was about Gabi and what she has done since leaving Live Oak. When we did get to the mystery thins were rushed not giving me a chance to mull over what happened.

This is not a bad story. It is a great mystery and a wonderful look back at the 90’s. I was surprised by the ending and think overall this is a good book to check out.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

I would like to thank eBooks for Review for the opportunity to read and share this book.

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The Penance List

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The Penance List (David Trilogy – 1) by SC Cunningham

This one comes with a warning – a steamy suspense-ridden psychological thriller – think Silence of the Lambs meets 50 Shades and hold on tight! S C Cunningham writes with a skilled mix of fueled tension, dark humour and pulsating sex scenes. Grab a glass of wine, close the bedroom door and read alone!

What happens when opposites attract – when a scorned childhood sweetheart grows into a gorgeous sexual tour de force – when a fun loving career girl, her racy girlfriends and insatiable lovers get caught in his revenge – when sex becomes a weapon, hearts become bait and straight tastes gay – when hi-flying careers, clandestine affairs and wannabe starlets are hunted by celebrity hungry press? Obsession, kidnap, murder… and he’s just getting started!

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Author’s Bio

British Crime Investigator & Crime Writer, Siobhan C Cunningham creates steamy psychological thrillers and kick-ass paranormal romance with a skilled mix of fuelled tension, dark humour, and pulsating sex scenes. Having worked in the very industries she writes about, her novels offer a fresh level of sincerity and authority, rare in fiction.

An ex-model, British born of Irish roots, she married a rock musician and has worked in the exciting worlds of music, film, sports celebrity management and as a Crime Investigator for the British Police (Wanted & Absconder Unit, Major Crime Team, Intelligence Analyst, Investigations Hub).

Abducted as a child, she survived; and every night for months afterward, she prayed to God, asking for a deal. This personal journey sparked the fuse behind the intriguing and riveting fictional world she portrays in The Fallen Angel Series. Twenty years later she crossed paths with a violent serial attacker who haunted the streets of London, the seed for The David Trilogy was sown, book one is The Penance List, and has been adapted to film screenplay.

She is the proud mother to contemporary Artist Scarlett Raven and is owned by three dogs.

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My Review

5 Stars

This story is about three women; Tara, Helen, and Josie. All three are closer than sisters and meet every Friday for lunch to discuss their lives. Each has their own perks and quirks with men and themselves. But there is more to their lives than what they discuss. It seems someone is obsessed with Tara and has been following the women around. It seems he is NOT happy to learn that Tara has a new boyfriend.

I have to be honest, after reading the blurb to the story I was not expecting what I got with this book. It is filled with darkness, evil, and a whole lot of sex. Tara is looking for a relationship that is going to last. Helen has body issues which leads to her lifestyle and Josie might seem to be the girl next door but she has her own secret side.

Then there is David. I couldn’t help but feel for him a little bit with I learned of his past and what drove him to this point. But knowing what he wants to do to Tara puts him up on the creep shelf and made me never want to be around him.

This is a killer story that has a great plot with well developed characters and enough sex to keep everyone happy. I was very surprised and will definitely be keeping my eyes open for the next book in this series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

Giveaway

Win 1 x Signed Copy of The Penance List (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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I would like to thank Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to read and share this book.

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If I Want You

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If I Want You by Rachel Brimble

When local journalist, Tori Peterson, fails to prevent a child abduction outside her niece’s school, her horror and guilt sparks a vow to do whatever it takes to get little Abby Brady home to her parents. While Tori battles the vile memories of her own kidnapping as a child, she accepts the help of widowed father, Mark Bolton.

As he and Tori join forces with the local police, their attraction and intimacy grows…along with their fears for Abby. Links are uncovered between Abby’s disappearance and Tori’s kidnapping, and Tori is forced to accept the monster who held her captive is back. But this time, Tori is all grown up, and there is no way she will let him hurt another little girl.

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author pic

Author’s Bio

Rachel Brimble is the author of the popular Harlequin Templeton Cove series which consists of eight books that are a combination of either mainstream romance or romantic suspense stories. With a cast of over 30 characters, The Templeton Cove Stories is a romantic, sexy and compelling series that has her readers constantly coming back for more.

Her four historical novels are published by eKensington and set in Bath, England.

Her upcoming projects include a new Edwardian series and a contemporary trilogy. Watch this space!

When Rachel isn’t working she likes to read, knit, watch TV and walk the English countryside with her family and beloved chocolate Labrador, Tyler.

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My Review

5 stars

Tori Peterson is waiting in the car to pick her niece up from school when she sees a man abducting another little girl. But something seems odd about the abduction. It reminds Tori of her own abduction as a child and when she learns her kidnapper is out of prison she is worried that he may be getting back at her. Mark Bolen is there too and is quick to help Tori find Abby. Mark has his own issues that he is working around. The more the two are together it is clear that there is an attraction between Tori and Mark. But both have trust issues and many things to overcome if they are going to be a couple.

This is my first book from Rachel Brimble but it will not be my last. Tori has gone through hell and lets it keep molding her in the present. Because of that, she is not the easiest of people to like. But when you hear her story you can’t help but feel for her. Then to have the same type of abduction happen in front of her eyes, heart wrenching.

This is a great thriller that kept me guessing and hope that they would be able to save Abby. I admit that I’m not much of a contemporary romance girl but I really enjoyed this portion of the story. It was a great match to the hunt for Abby without over power that portion of the story or having Tori and Mark be love struck teens.

I really enjoyed this story and recommend checking it out. I can’t wait to read Rachel Brimble’s other stories.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

I would like to thank Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to read and share this book.

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The Picture

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The Picture by Roger Bray

A warehouse in Japan used as an emergency shelter in the aftermath of the 2011 Tsunami. A distraught, young Japanese woman in dishevelled clothes sits on a box, holding her infant daughter. Ben, a US rescue volunteer, kneels in front of her offering comfort. They hug, the baby between them. The moment turns into an hour as the woman sobs into his shoulder; mourning the loss of her husband, her home, the life she knew. A picture is taken, capturing the moment. It becomes a symbol; of help freely given and of the hope of the survivors. The faces in the picture cannot be recognised, and that is how Ben likes it. No celebrity, thanks not required.

But others believe that being identified as the person in the picture is their path to fame and fortune. Ben stands, unknowingly, in their way, but nothing a contract killing cannot fix.

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Author’s Bio

I have always loved writing; putting words onto a page and bringing characters to life. I can almost feel myself becoming immersed into their lives, living with their fears and triumphs. Thus, my writing process becomes an endless series of questions. What would she or he do, how would they react, is this in keeping with their character? Strange as it sounds, I don’t like leaving characters in cliffhanging situations without giving them an ending, whichever way it develops.
My life to date is what compels me to seek a just outcome, the good will overcome and the bad will be punished. More though, I tend to see my characters as everyday people in extraordinary circumstances, but in which we may all find our selves if the planets align wrongly or for whatever reason you might consider.

Of course, most novels are autobiographical in some way. You must draw on your own experiences of life and from events you have experienced to get the inspiration. My life has been an endless adventure. Serving in the Navy, fighting in wars, serving as a Police officer and the experiences each one of those have brought have all drawn me to this point, but it was a downside to my police service that was the catalyst for my writing.

Medically retired after being seriously injured while protecting a woman in a domestic violence situation I then experienced the other side of life. Depression and rejection. Giving truth to the oft said saying that when one door closes another opens I pulled myself up and enrolled in college gaining bachelor and master degrees, for my own development rather than any professional need. The process of learning, of getting words down onto the page again relit my passion for writing in a way that I hadn’t felt since high school.

So here we are, two books published and another on track.

Where it will take me I have no idea but I am going to enjoy getting there and if my writing can bring some small pleasure into people’s lives along the way, then I consider that I will have succeeded in life.

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My Review

5 stars

Ben Davies is a retired police officer that finds himself on the wrong side of a robbery. He is shot twice and ends up in a coma in the hospital. There is estranged daughter Anna and former partner take turns looking out for him. It is during this time where Paul tells Anna about the time Ben was a US rescue volunteer during the tsunami of 2011.

While there, a picture is taken of him comforting a woman that just lost her husband and baby. The angle of the picture doesn’t show either of their faces which is how Ben wants it. But then Anna learns that someone else, Vince Brown has declared himself the man in the photo.

Vince is a real piece of work and is using claiming he was in the picture to help boost his career and he is willing to do anything to keep his secret. What ensues is a man trying to get the truth out while trying to stop a worthless man.

I didn’t expect to have so much prior to the picture coming into play. But I loved Ben. He is a great guy and it broke my heart that Vince tries to take his claim to fame while missing the whole point of the picture like how Ben wanted to have it know. I was pulling for him throughout the whole book.

This is a wonderful and heartbreaking read. This is a great story and one that I recommend everyone checking out.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

I would like to thank Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to read and share this book.

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Somethings of Substance by Tia Souders

Seventeen-year-old Grace Michaels is determined to be thin, even if she dies trying.

Part of the in-crowd at Providence High, she is steps away from being asked out by the most desired guy at school, winning a prom queen nomination, and her parents’ approval. If she can just get skinny enough, be pretty enough, and popular enough.

But Grace is thin on the outside and fat on the inside. No amount of weight-loss ever seems enough. Convinced the melting pounds will solve her problems, every pound lost brings her closer to her goals. But flesh and bone can only hide the weight of her secret for so long.

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Tia Souders

Author’s Bio

​Tia Souders is the author of bestselling women’s fiction novel, Waiting On Hope and the upcoming award-winning young adult novel Better Than This (formerly titled Freedom Road). When she isn’t writing, she’s likely renovating their century home. She’s a wine-loving, coffeeholic, with a sweet tooth and resides on a farm in rural Ohio with her husband and children.

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My Review

5 stars

Last year Grace was the chunky girl but after spending the summer at a fat camp she has slimmed down and become part of the “in” crowd at school. But she just isn’t enough. Pretty enough, thin enough, perfect enough, etc. So she starts obsessing with weight loss. She has convinced herself that if she loses just a little more weight that she can be the hot guys girl, the perfect daughter, even happy.

This story is about a teenager that is suffering from anorexia. Grace constantly focuses of food, calories, and trying to lose weight. Her body image has become warped and she doesn’t see herself and those around her as she falls deeper and deeper into herself. Yes, this story repeats itself. She constantly keeps telling herself the same thing over and over and this does get to be annoying. But when you are suffering from some issue you make everything about this thing. You start believing what the dark voices in your head tell you and can’t seem to break out of this rut no matter what you do.

This is a touching, heartbreaking story. I felt for Grace and it broke my heart that she didn’t see those around her that loved her through the haze that she focused on. It’s a sad message but one that needs to get out. With body image issues it’s a great story to show how destructive these thoughts and behaviors really are.

This might not be the book for everyone, especially since I have seen others write along the same line. But it is a sad but honest look at this disease.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

I would like to thank eBooks for Review for the opportunity to read and share this book.

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The Fix

The Fix

by Robert Downs

on Tour March 1 – April 30, 2018

Synopsis:

The Fix by Robert Downs

Professional gambler, Johnny Chapman, plays the hand he’s dealt, but when he’s dealt a series of losers, he decides to up the ante with more money than he can afford to lose. Just when he thinks his life can’t get any worse, it does. The loan shark he owes the money to demands that he pay up and sends his goons after him. The man offers Johnny one way out—fix a race by fatally injecting the dog most likely to win. A piece of cake, Johnny thinks, until he looks into the big brown eyes of the beautiful dog, and the price suddenly seems too great to pay. Now Johnny’s on the run and the goons are closing in…

Book Details:

Genre: Noir
Published by: Black Opal Books
Publication Date: December 2nd 2017
Number of Pages: 166
ISBN: 9781626948174
Grab your copy of The Fix on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & Goodreads!

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

The taste of liquor still lingered on his lips. Six months without a drink, and he had the chip to prove it. His eyes were downcast, the table was green felt, and his wooden seat jammed the lower part of his back. The overhead light was dim, and he had his hat pulled down over his eyes. Johnny Chapman had lost three hands in a row, and he didn’t want to lose a fourth.

The Indian sat across from him with his hands folded across his chest, wearing dark sunglasses in a dark room, his hair shaved close to his head, and a tooth missing near his front. He cracked his knuckles between hands and even once during. The sound bounced off the walls in the closet of a room.

“Well, what’s it gonna be?” Thomas Kincaid asked. “I ain’t got all night.” His lips formed a sneer before he took a long pull on a dark drink. His eyes flicked in every direction except straight ahead.

“Don’t rush me.”

“If you move any slower, we’ll both be looking up at the daisies,” Thomas replied. He looked at his two cards for what must have been the third time.

Johnny sucked his lip between his teeth, flashed his eyes once toward the ceiling, and flipped a chip onto the deck. The roar in his ears nearly pulled him away from the hand, but the click of the ceiling fan managed to hold his attention. The darkness helped with his focus as well.

The girl sat across from him, dark hair drifting to-ward her shoulders and even a bit beyond. Teeth as white as a bowl of rice. A drop of moisture near her upper lip entered the equation. Her T-shirt bunched out at the front, and her eyes were as cold as Alaska. She played her cards close to her chest, and her bets were even. For the most part. She managed to toss in a few extra chips when she had a hand. But she was a straight shooter and hadn’t bluffed once. Johnny knew it was coming, though. He just didn’t know when. Even if he managed to run like hell, she’d probably still clip him at the ankles. Her chip stack sat more than a third higher than his own.

She had a good smile. That one. Not too much of the pearly whites, but just enough for a man to take notice. The words on her chest accentuated her assets. Tight, clean, and turquoise—the T-shirt, not her breasts.

Johnny’s eyes flicked to his watch, and his phone buzzed in his pocket. The alarm. His leg vibrated for a second more and then it stopped.

It was almost time. The medication. It took the edge off, and stopped his mind from racing off to infinity and beyond. The man with the dark rims and the white lab coat prescribed it in a room bigger than the one he was in now. If he didn’t take his meds in the next ten minutes, the headaches would start soon after.

The ceiling fan whirred again. The backroom was stale and damp, the casino out on the edge of the reservation with nothing but tumbleweed and small trees for over a mile. Diagonally opposite from the little shithole that he called home for the past several years. The run-down piece of trash with the broken Spanish shingles, cracked stucco, and clouded windows.

Seconds turned over, one after another, and still there was no movement from the Indian to his right. Lapu Sinquah flipped his sunglasses up, and dragged them back down, but not before his eyes looked around the table. The Indian made a face and flipped two chips onto the green felt.

The girl was next. She scratched her forehead. Her expression remained neutral. When Caroline Easton flipped her head, her hair remained out of her eyes. Her look resembled cold, hard steel. She followed the Indian with a two-chip flip.

Thomas tossed his cards away, and it was back to Johnny. He felt it: an all-consuming need to win this hand…and the next one…and the one after. Desire consumed him, after all. Or maybe it didn’t.

The hand that got away. The hand that consumed him, pushed him over the edge, and had him calling out in the middle of the night. One voice. One concentrated effort before the moment passed him by. He couldn’t imagine losing, ending up with nothing. Bankrupt.

This minute reasoning had him playing cards night after night, hand after hand, reading player after player. Moment after moment. Until the moments were sick and twisted and filled with jagged edges and punctured with pain. Or left him dead and buried on the side of the road in a ditch with half of his face missing.

The winning streak wouldn’t last. It’d be gone again. Like a sound carried away by the breeze in the middle of a forgotten forest. This time, he wouldn’t fold too soon. This time, he’d play it differently.

The one that got away. The pot in the middle that would have covered three month’s rent. But he tossed his cards aside, even though he’d been staring at the winning hand for damn near three minutes.

His eyes flicked to each of the three players before he once more peeled his cards back from the table and slid the two spades to the side.

The Indian glared at him through the darkness and his dark sunglasses. “Well?” Lapu asked. “What the fuck, man?”

Johnny tossed his shoulders up in the air. “I’m out.”

“Just like that?” Caroline’s long dark hair whipped around her head.

“Sure, why not?”

The Indian rubbed his shaved head. “You’re one crazy motherfucker.”

Johnny shrugged. “I never claimed to be sane.”

The ceiling fan whirred faster, clicking every five seconds. The air was heavy and suffocating, and he yanked on his collar with his index finger. Two drinks were drunk, and a glass clinked against a tooth. One chair slid back and another moved forward.

“There’s over two grand in the pot,” Lapu said.

Johnny gave a slight tilt of his head. “And I know when to walk away.”

The Indian jerked to his feet and extended a finger away from his chest. “It was your raise that started this shitstorm.”

“True,” Johnny said. “And now I’m going to end it.”

Caroline combed her hair with her fingers. “You haven’t ended anything.”

“I’d rather have that as my downfall than lose it all to you nitwits.”

Caroline smirked. Her white teeth glinted against the light overhead. “Who made you queen of the land?”

“I’d like to think it sort of came up on me,” Johnny said. “It sort of took me by surprise. Existence is futile.”

The Indian smirked. His stained teeth were nearly the color of his skin. “Futility won’t help you now.”

The hand was between the girl and the Indian. Her assets versus his. One smirk versus another. The sun-glasses were down, and both the movements and expressions were calculated. Chips were tossed, and the last card was flipped. Caroline took the pot, and her cold expression never wavered.

A ten-minute break ensued. Johnny used the bath-room, washed his hands, shoved two pills into his mouth, cupped his hands underneath the spout, sucked water from his palms, dunked his hands underneath the liquid once more, and splashed the water on his face. He grimaced at his own reflection, the dark, sunken eyes. He sucked in air and dried his hands. His shoes clicked on the broken tile on his way out the door.

His chips hadn’t moved, and neither had the table. The stack of chips was smaller than when he started this game. As the losses mounted, his amount of breathing room decreased. His longest losing streak was thirteen hands in a row.

The blinds were doubled, and his mind numbed. Compassion was a long forgotten equation, and sympathy wasn’t far behind.

The conversation picked up again, and the Indian perfected a new glare. “I never heard so much chatting over a game of cards.”

“It’s not just a game,” Thomas said. “Now, is it?” One dark drink was replaced with another, and the man’s eyes glazed over.

The girl tapped her wrist with two fingers and flipped her hair. “I think we’re already past the point of sanity.”

“If there was ever a point, it was lost—”

“I had a few points of my own that were somehow hammered home.” Johnny flipped three chips into the pot in one smooth motion. He had a hand, and he was determined to play it, even if he had to stare down the girl and the Indian at the same time.

“The game of life succeeds where you might have failed,” Lapu said.

Thomas knocked back the remainder of yet another drink. “I don’t accept failure.”

Johnny’s eyes flicked to his wrist. “You don’t accept success either.”

“Why do you keep looking at your watch?” Thomas asked. “Are you late for a date?”

The girl called and tossed three chips into the pot with only a slight hesitation. She had a hand, or she wanted to make it appear as such. Her lips moved less and less, and her eyes moved more and more. Her features were clearly defined.

Johnny kept his expression even.

“You’re not late for anything that I’ve seen,” Caro-line said.

Both the Indian and Thomas folded.

“I’d like to take you out back and shoot you.”

“Would that somehow solve the majority of your problems?” the Indian asked.

Johnny nodded. “It might solve a few.”

“Or,” she said, “then again, it might not.”

The last card was flipped, and bets were tossed into the center of the pot. Johnny raised, and Caroline countered with a raise of her own. He called, flipped his cards over, and his straight lost to her flush. Half of his stack disappeared in one hand. He ground his teeth and chewed his bottom lip.

“I don’t like you,” Johnny said.

Her expression was colder than Anchorage. “You never liked me.”

“There might have been mutual respect, but that ship sailed out into the great beyond and smacked an iceberg.”

“Passion—”

“Does not equal acceptance,” Johnny said.

“It will keep you up most nights,” the Indian said.

Determined not to lose again, Johnny kept his eyes on the prize and his dwindling stack of chips. The girl to his right had never flashed a smile, and now her stack of chips was nearly three times the size of his own. His eyes flicked to his wrist once more, and he grimaced.

For several moments, the ceiling fan took up all the sound in the room.

His breath hiccupped in his chest, and he swayed in his chair. The wood jammed against his lower back, and the angry green felt kept an even expression. His mouth moved, but no sound escaped from between his lips.

He fell out of his chair and cracked his head on the carpet. For the next few minutes, he drifted in and out of consciousness.

< <

“Did his heart just stop?” Lapu asked.

Thomas leaned across the table. “What the hell are we talking about now?”

Lapu stood up. “I think that fucker passed out.”

“Which fucker?” Caroline’s chest pressed hard enough against her shirt to slow down her blood flow. Her eyes narrowed, but her hand was steady.

“The one that was losing.”

“That’s all you fuckers.” She tapped her tongue against her upper lip. “You’re all losing.”

Lapu shoved his chair back. “I don’t like losing.”

“But you do it so well.”

Thomas’s body shifted in his chair. “Not on purpose.”

The ceiling fan stopped, and the walls trapped all remnants of sound. One beat of silence was followed by another.

Lapu moved first. He slapped two fingers to Johnny’s wrist and checked for a pulse. The heartbeat was low and weak and arrhythmic.

“What do we do now?” Caroline asked. “Have you got a plan?”

Thomas stood up and sat back down again.

“Cayenne pepper and apple cider vinegar,” Lapu said. “Both have the potential to reduce the effects of arrhythmia.”

She pointed. “Or maybe he has pills in his pocket.”

Lapu nodded. “That is also an option. Check his pockets while I prop up his head.”

“I need another drink,” Thomas said. “I’d rather not be sober if a man is going to die.”

Caroline rolled her eyes. “Don’t be so melodramatic.”

Lapu had watched his father die with a look on his face not that far from the one Johnny wore now: the lost eyes and the still body, with his spirit on the verge of leaving this world for the next. Lapu poked through his pockets in a methodical fashion and found a prescription bottle with a half-peeled label. He popped the top, poked his finger through the slot, and removed two pills. He peeled Johnny’s lips apart, shoved the pills inside his mouth, and forced him to swallow. Minutes later, his life force had altered considerably, and color had returned to Johnny’s cheeks.

Lapu nodded his head. “There’s a purpose to every-thing.”

Thomas leaned over and slapped Johnny on the cheek. “I believe in the possibilities of a situation. Those moments that lead from one into the next, filled with passion and compassion and equality, and some other shit.”

Caroline smirked. “Which is what exactly?”

“Not losing another hand.”

Johnny inched his way to a sitting position and slapped his forehead. “Fuck me—”

“Not likely,” Caroline said. “It neither looks enjoy-able nor promising, but that’s a nice try, though.”

“Your perspective has gotten skewed,” Thomas re-plied.

“That’s certainly possible,” she said, “but I wouldn’t be so sure.”

< <

More hands were played, and more hands were lost. Johnny’s stack of chips diminished faster until he was left with two red ones and half a drink. His even expression had vanished long ago, and his feet had started tap-ping during the last three hands. The Indian had six chips to Johnny’s two, and the rest were distributed between Thomas and Caroline, with the girl staring above a tower nearly level with her chin. Her expression hadn’t changed, and neither had her methodical approach to playing cards.

The barrel of a gun dug into Johnny’s lower back-side after he expunged the last two chips he had to his name. He didn’t have time to move or breathe, and he hadn’t even noticed Thomas shift his weight and remove the pistol from somewhere on his person. But the digging did further enhance Johnny’s focus and destroy his moral support. “Cuff him.”

“What the fuck?” Johnny replied.

“It’s time you realized the full extent of your losing.”

Johnny couldn’t see Caroline’s expression, but her voice was filled with menace and hate and exhibited more force than a battering ram.

“Stand up, you piece of trash.”

The gun shifted, and Johnny rose. The room spun, and he considered passing out all over again, but he pulled himself back and inched his way toward the metal door that was a lifetime away.

The barrel against his back never moved or wavered.

< <

She hated cards. Had hated the act and aggression of gambling most of her life. The thrill of winning and the heartbreak of defeat neither moved nor motivated her. Tossing chips into a pot, calculating the odds in her head, reading players around the table, and playing the hands of the other players instead of playing her own made her head throb from the weight of the proposition. But she did it, over and over again. If she thought about it long enough and hard enough, Caroline might have called herself a professional gambler, but that was a term she hated even more than the act of taking money from unsuspecting souls who had a penchant for losing. But if her two choices were paying the rent, or living on the street, she would choose rent every time and worry about the consequences later.

She couldn’t change her fate, or her odds. All she could do was play the hand she was dealt, match it up against what the other guys and gals had around the table, and study the ticks and idiosyncrasies that made each player unique. Over-confidence and euphoria were concepts she knew well, and she could smell it coming like a New Mexican thunderstorm. Even though she understood what she needed to do, she hated her hands even more than she hated long division. With each passing second, her trepidation grew, and the calm she exuded on the surface was a thunderstorm underneath the shallow exterior. It had gotten to the point that it was totally out of control, and probably would be for the rest of her life. It wasn’t satisfying, or even mesmerizing, and yet here she was week after week, going through the motions. The same types of players sat around the table with the same types of expressions painted on their uneven faces. The voice in her mind echoed in time, and she did her best to keep the whispers at bay. But the plan backfired, just as all good plans did that were built on a foundation of lies.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” Caroline asked.

“Trying to win,” Johnny said. “What does it look like I’m doing?”

“Losing,” she said. “And not even admirably. You really are one stupid bastard.”

She had been called to test him, to see if he would break and crumble beneath the weight of a bad hand or two or ten, and he had folded faster than a crumpled handbag smashed against a mugger’s face. She had chipped away steadily at his chips, until two red ones were all he had left, and a tower of multicolored circles stood in front of her.

< <

Johnny had a hand that was planted in his lap by the gods, or maybe it was Julius Caesar himself. He couldn’t remember the number of times he’d lost in a row. Six or maybe it was seven. The torment and punishment continued unabated, and he licked his lips more with each passing second. The hands played out one after another against him, and the gates of Hell had opened before him. The girl to his right was methodical, and the jabs kept on coming, one right after another.

Her hands were probably her best feature. The way her fingers slid across the table, shoving chips and poking at her cards, and prodding the weaknesses of those around her, only made him long for her even more.

But this was it. His moment. And he wasn’t about to let it pass him by. Two minutes later, though, the moment passed, his chips were gone, a gun was shoved against his backside, and he was escorted out of the building.

***

Excerpt from The Fix by Robert Downs. Copyright © 2017 by Robert Downs. Reproduced with permission from Robert Downs. All rights reserved.

Robert Downs

Author Bio:

Robert Downs aspired to be a writer before he realized how difficult the writing process was. Fortunately, he’d already fallen in love with the craft, otherwise his tales might never have seen print. Originally from West Virginia, he has lived in Virginia, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and now resides in California. When he’s not writing, Downs can be found reading, reviewing, blogging, or smiling.

To find out more about his latest projects, or to reach out to him on the Internet, visit: robertdowns.net, Goodreads Page, & Facebook Page!

My Review

3 stars

Johnny Chapman is a professional gambler. But he is on the down and decides to get some money from a loan shark, Harrison Barrymore and he just demanded Johnny to pay up. Of course Johnny can’t so the Barrymore offers him a deal, fix the next dog race and he will be good to go or die. But one look at the dog and Johnny can’t follow through.

What ensues is a mad chase where Johnny tries to get away from Barrymore but never quite makes it. He gets caught, gets beat up, escapes, and caught again. He’s not really a loveable character but you have to give him credit for continuing to fight. Granted the situations he finds himself in are caused by his own flaws.

This is a quick novella that you can read in one setting. It has a good story and was entertaining. I am curious about other books from Robert Downs and will be checking those out.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

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Title: Eye of the Storm (Gray Ghost Novel, book 2)
Author: Amy McKinley
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Cover Photo by: CJC Photography
Cover Model: Alex Neff
Cover design by: TE Black Designs LLC
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Deep in the untamed wilderness of the notorious Darien Gap, a soldier wakes. Injured, he has no memory of who he is or why he is there until a beautiful woman tells him his name. But can he trust her?
When Mari Dias stumbles upon Chris Shaw in the jungle—a place many risk but few survive—she enlists his help to escape a country ruled by the very family who hunts her.
As Chris and Mari search for sanctuary out of the jungle, filters of his past return in slow increments. As they grow closer, so do their enemies. Can he battle the storm that threatens them all?
 
 
Amy McKinley is the author of the Five Fates Series and Gray Ghost Novels. Her romance books have strong heroines, sexy alphas, and just the right amount of heat, danger, and always with an HEA. She lives in Illinois with her husband, two daughters, two sons, and three mischievous cats. To stay informed about her upcoming releases, sign up for her newsletter here.
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I would like to thank Lip Service PR for the opportunity to share this book.

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