Showing posts with label series. Show all posts
Showing posts with label series. Show all posts

Friday, March 16, 2018

"Whitcomb Springs Series"

Whitcomb Springs Series

Whitcomb Springs Series

Welcome to Whitcomb Springs! This is a collection of short stories, and the occasional novella, written by multiple authors. The series is filled with stories of adventure, danger, romance, and hope, and is set in the fictional town of Whitcomb Springs, Montana Territory. The stories span the years of 1865-1885. Although each story may be set during a different time, they are stand-alone and may be read in any order. While the first stories will publish on 15 March 2018, this is an on-going project, so new stories may be published at any time by one of the participating authors.
Today we feature Whitcomb Springs by M. K. McClintock and Healing Fire by Samantha St. Claire. For a complete listing of all currently available and upcoming Whitcomb Springs stories, visit the Whitcomb Springs website.
This book blast and giveaway for the Whitcomb Springs Series is brought to you by I Am A Reader.

Whitcomb Springs
by M. K. McClintock

In the spring of 1865, a letter arrives in Whitcomb Springs for Evelyn Whitcomb. The Civil War has ended and the whereabouts of her husband is unknown, but she doesn’t give up hope. With courage, the help of a friend, and the love of a people, Evelyn finds a way to face - and endure - the unexpected.
Whitcomb Springs is the introductory, stand-alone short story of the Whitcomb Springs Series set in post-Civil War Montana.

Whitcomb Springs, Montana Territory—April 25, 1865
The letter fluttered to the table. Evelyn stared at the sheet of paper but could no longer make out the words as they blurred together. Surrender. She prayed this day would come, they all had, and after four tortuous years, the war was finally over.
There would be more capitulation on the part of the South, and too many families who would never see their men again ... but it was over.
Separated, yet not untouched, from conflict, Evelyn Whitcomb lived in the same town her husband and their two friends founded one year before news of the Civil War reached them. By way of her sister, who lived in Rose Valley, Pennsylvania with their parents, they were kept informed as often as Abigail could get a letter through. Evelyn often wondered if she should have returned to Rose Valley to help with the war effort, much as her sister Abigail had done, yet she found the needs of Whitcomb Springs to be vast as the town continued to grow.
Many men and boys left, leaving their wives, mothers, and sisters behind to fight for a cause they didn’t fully understand, yet still felt it their duty to serve. Others remained behind to continue working in the mine and watch over those families with or without kin.
Evelyn read over Abigail’s letter once more, letting the words settle into her mind, for even now she struggled to believe it was over—that her husband might return home.
Dearest Evelyn,
For too many years now I have shared with you the horrors and travesties befallen many of the young men with whom we spent our childhood. News has reached us that on the ninth of April, Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse. Oh, sister, I dared not believe it was true when Papa brought home the news. He tells us not to become overly excited for there will surely be a few more battles waged until the news reaches both sides, but we can thank God that this war is officially over.
Your news of Daniel’s disappearance has weighed heavy on my mind these past months since we heard, and Papa has attempted to learn of his whereabouts, to no avail. We have not given up! There is much confusion right now on both sides and Papa said it could be weeks or months more before the men return home. Do not lose faith, sweet Evie.
Your most loving sister,

About the Author
M. K. McClintock
M. K. McClintock is an award-winning author of historical romance and westerns, who has written several books and short stories, including the popular Montana Gallagher Series, the Crooked Creek series, and the British Agent Novels. She continues the search for a time machine that can transport her to nineteenth-century Montana or Scotland - either works. M. K. enjoys a quiet life in the Rocky Mountains where she spins tales of romance, adventure, and mystery set in bygone times.


Healing Fire
by Samantha St. Claire

After the death of Nora Hewitt’s husband, the citizens of Whitcomb Springs didn’t see odds favoring the young widow for holding onto the ranch with only her ten-year-old son to assist. That changes when a gentle giant of a man offers a helping hand.
Motivated by compassion and his own grieving heart, the blacksmith becomes a mentor for the troubled boy and befriends the attractive widow, scandalizing the town gossips. Propriety is wielded like a weapon to separate them, but Providence makes its own plans through fire, loss, and redemption.

Whitcomb Springs, 1860
Sawdust floated into drifts beneath the workbench, swirling in the cold Montana morning air. His breath a thin fog, Dominik Andris sang to himself as he ran his palm down the length of the cedar plank. Deep and resonant, the Austrian’s voice might have suited his appearance had it not been for its soft timbre. Broad-shouldered, square-jawed, and generally solemn in bearing, most people avoided him except when his skills as a blacksmith or undertaker were required.
Today, someone had need of him as the latter. A rectangular box stood propped against the back wall. Nearly complete, the box lid before him was carved in designs more suitable for a cradle. Dominik picked up a carving knife, dwarfed in his hands, and bent to correct a curve on the delicate vine tracing its way from one end of the lid to the other. He ran his fingers along its length, testing for burrs in the grain. His humming ceased and a line formed between his brows, a frown not directed to his work but to the reason for it.
As he straightened, he rubbed at the back of his neck and a little groan escaped his lips. He took a sip of cold coffee before crossing the workshop to the back wall where he picked up the box in one hand. The weight of it or the absence of weight, struck a painful chord. Just four feet in length, it was enough. Enough to hold the body of the child, the woman’s child.

About the Author
Samantha St. Claire
Samantha St. Claire was born in 2016, the alter-ego and pen name of an author of historical fiction born a few decades earlier. She may have found her niche in western historical fiction, served up sweet. Never faint of heart, her signature protagonists face the hazards of the frontier with courage, wit, and a healthy pinch of humor.


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Series Links

Thursday, March 15, 2018

"Killer Tied" by Lesley A. Diehl

Killer Tied
(Eve Appel Mystery Book 6)
by Lesley A. Diehl

Killer Tied (Eve Appel Mystery Book 6) by Lesley A. Diehl

Killer Tied is the sixth book in the Eve Appel Mystery series. Also available: A Secondhand Murder, Dead in the Water, A Sporting Murder, Mud Bog Murder, and Old Bones Never Die (read my blog post).

Killer Tied is currently on tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Eve Appel Egret is adjusting to married life with Sammy and their three adopted sons in Sabal Bay, Florida. While still running her consignment stores, she is going pro with her sleuthing by becoming an apprentice to a private detective.
Until her marriage, Eve’s only “family” was her grandmother Grandy, who raised her after her parents died in a boating accident. Now, in addition to her husband and sons, she has a father-in-law who clearly dislikes her. Sammy’s father, a full-blooded Miccosukee Indian long presumed dead, has emerged from the swamps where he’s been living like a hermit, and he isn’t happy about Eve’s marriage to his half-Miccosukee, half-white son.
As for Eve’s family, are her parents really dead? A woman named Eleanor claims to be Eve’s half-sister, born after her mother faked a boating accident to escape her abusive husband, Eve’s father. Then Eleanor’s father turns up dead in the swamps, stabbed by a Bowie knife belonging to Sammy’s father, Lionel. Strange as Lionel Egret is, Eve knows he had no motive to kill this stranger. In order to clear him, Eve must investigate Eleanor’s claims, and she might not like what digging around in her family’s past uncovers.

Chapter 1
I looked around the old detective’s office. The top of the desk no longer overflowed with paperwork, the floor was as clean as a heavy-duty cleaner could get it, and the paperwork was neatly filed away in the cabinets. I knew Crusty McNabb would hate what I had done to the space, but he had told me to make myself at home while he was gone. He was visiting his daughter, whom he hadn’t seen in over a year, and wouldn’t return for a few days. I was his apprentice now, somewhat eager to learn the private-eye business, and I had the blessing of all my family—my grandmother Grandy, her husband Max, my husband Sammy, and our three adopted sons—Sammy’s orphaned nephews—Jason, Jerome, and Jeremy. Even my best friend and business partner, Madeleine, and the police detective Frida Martinez had blessed my PI career path. The only one with misgivings was me. I still wasn’t real keen on the use of firearms, although I had been going to the gun range to practice with the pistol Crusty loaned me. My instructor there said I’d soon be a crack shot, no problem, but, he added, opening my eyes when I fired the durn thing might help my aim.
Well, I lied about me being the only one with doubts about my new career path. So did my friend Nappi Napolitani, who was a mob boss, or that’s what we all thought—I mean, how do you ask a mob boss for his crime credentials to determine if he’s genuine? Anyway, it seemed clear to me that he had something he wanted to say to me about my PI license but hadn’t gotten around to saying it yet. And then there was my ex-husband, who worried I’d take this opportunity to pistolwhip him or arrest him for transgressions against me while we were married. There were many, but getting revenge for those wasn’t a priority right now.
I heard a knock on the door and turned to see a man peering through the store window. He rattled the knob. “Sorry, the office is closed until the end of this week. Mr. McNabb will be back on Friday.”
“Are you Ms. Appel?” This was silly, having a conversation through the closed door. I walked over and opened it.
“I’m Eve Appel, but I—”
“Then you’re the one I’m looking for. They told me next door I’d find you here.” He smiled and held out his hand. “Henry Montrose.”
He was a slender man with thinning, brownish-gray hair. He wore a beige knit shirt, khaki pants, and sneakers. I noted the beiges did not work together. That was just me, quick to make a fashion judgment. I shook his hand, curious about his reasons for seeking me out.
“If it’s detective work you need, I’m just Mr. McNabb’s apprentice. I don’t do cases on my own, so you might want to come back when he’s here. Like I said. End of this week.”
“I need someone to find my daughter.”
“Have you reported her missing to the police?”
“Well, no. You see, I’m not certain where she’s missing from. Or whether she just moved away. We lived in the Northeast, but we left. But not all together.”
He wasn’t making a lot of sense, and as he talked, he began to show signs of distress. His voice was shaky, and he twisted his hands so tightly together I thought he’d remove the skin.
“Maybe you should sit down for a minute.” I offered the usual but seemingly useless glass of water. He collapsed into the chair in front of Crusty’s desk.
“What police department do I notify? The one up North or the one here? See, I know my daughter was headed here.”
“So you’ve heard from her?”
“No, but this is where she’d come. I told her that her mother might be dead, but my daughter insists she’s still alive.” He shook his head. “That woman, my wife, has nine lives, it seems.”
I was more and more confused by his tale. “Uh, I have a friend on the police force here. Maybe she could help. I can call her, if you’d like.”
Frida might be able to make better sense of his story than I could. And she’d know the legalities of missing persons. Someone walked past the front windows and caught the attention of my visitor.
“No, never mind. I have to go now.” Without another word, he jumped up from the chair and ran out the door, stopping on the sidewalk, looking in both directions and then running toward the street. I lost sight of him when he turned left into the alleyway at the end of the strip mall.
Weird. Just plain weird, but Crusty said that PI work could be unusual, although he warned me that most of it was just plain boring. I shrugged and decided to tackle cleaning the tiny bathroom. It looked as if Crusty hadn’t taken a brush to the toilet bowl since he’d moved in. As I scrubbed—with rubber gloves on, of course—I thought over my decision to move from Connecticut to rural Florida. I’d chosen to open a consignment-shop business with Madeleine Boudreaux Wilson, my best friend forever and forever. The shop was here, right next door to Crusty’s detective agency.
Some might question why I’d located a consignment business specializing in high-end fashions and classy home goods in rural Florida, where you’re more apt to run into a live alligator than a designer alligator bag. We set up our shop to remedy that, not by doing away with the alligators, but by buying apparel and furnishings from the matrons of West Palm Beach, who rarely wore their clothes more than once or twice. Since none of these wealthy ladies would consign their items close to home for fear of someone recognizing the merchandise, we stepped in to take anything they no longer wanted off their hands. They liked having “mad” money to use any way they pleased without conferring with hubby or leaving a credit card trail for him to grump about.
To our surprise, our consignors often slipped off the coast and visited our shop just for the fun of it. They didn’t buy much. They preferred to sell, but they liked to pick up tips about where they could find entertainment not offered in upscale West Palm. Nothing kinky, you understand. Just good old country two-step in our local bars with some mighty handsome cowboys or airboat rides with a member of the Miccosukee Indian tribe piloting the boat (that would be my husband, more handsome than any cowboy). I’d also turned the gals on to a local dude ranch. They sometimes dragged their husbands along for a trail ride.
So why was I in training to become a PI? Was selling used items too tame for me? Well, yes and no, and that’s a long story, but here’s the truth. I am a snoopy gal. I get it from my grandmother, who is the queen of curiosity. Over the years I’ve “intruded” in a number of murders in rural Florida—at least that’s the word you’d hear used to describe my investigations by my family, friends, and Detective Frida, who is also a friend of mine when she’s not moaning about my interfering with her cases. From my perspective, I’ve been more than a little helpful tracking down clues and bringing the bad guys (and gals) to justice. A former lover and private detective Alex Montgomery thought I had a nose for murder and the brain to match wits with any killer. Although he resented my meddling in his business, he respected my sleuthing instincts so much, he suggested I get a PI license by learning the trade from Crusty.
My life was so full of family and business that the very last thing I needed was to learn the professional sleuthing trade, yet the restless side of my nature was intrigued. With Grandy helping Madeleine at the store and Shelley McCleary, our new dressmaker, assuming a growing role in the shop as tailor and junior partner, I figured I had time to try my hand at the detecting business.
I yearned to sink my teeth into a big murder as my first case. Why waste my skills on small potatoes? When I excitedly talked with Crusty about murder investigations, he laughed. “What you get in the private-detecting business is routine: surveillance of cheating spouses, insurance fraud, and some work for the police department when they need to hire out part of their investigation. Most of the work entails a lot of sitting on your butt in a car. I sure hope you don’t have a tiny bladder.”
I reminded him that I’d been key in solving several murders in the county. He did a dismissive flap with his hand. “Well, maybe you’ve taken out all the bad dudes in this county, and the rest of us will be left in peace.”
I squeezed some bleach gel into the sink and began to scrub at the grimy brown stains. I ran water and rinsed out the bowl. When I turned to extract a new bar of soap out of the cabinet behind me, I bumped into the person standing there. I jumped.
Damn. I’d forgotten to lock the front door. A fine detective I’d make. The person standing inside the entrance of the small bathroom was a tall, slender woman with long frizzy brown hair. She looked somehow familiar, although I’d never met her before.
She smiled sweetly. “Hello. I’m your sister.”
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“Getting to the bottom sure takes a boatload of work but this book definitely couldn't be put down I read it one day. Eve has a way of dragging you in and not letting go until the perps are arrested and justice has been correctly served!” ~ Paula Ratcliffe

Guest Post by the Author
Eve Apple, protagonist in Killer Tied by Lesley A. Diehl
Eve’s not the gal she used to be: Character development in a cozy mystery series
This is the beginning stop for a two-week book blog tour for Killer Tied, the sixth book in the Eve Appel Mysteries released this month by Camel Press. There are three more books scheduled. It’s a paradox how I feel about the series. It’s as if I began it only yesterday, yet Eve and I have come a long way together, weathering the romance storms of a philandering husband, a PI boyfriend and now Sammy, the Miccosukee man who immediately “got” Eve and instantly loved her. And there have been murders, many murders. Eve helped solve them all … with help from her friends and family, of course.
Eve has expanded her circle of friends since she moved from Connecticut to rural Florida. There is her best friend and business partner Madeleine, now herself married and the mother of two young children. It was Madeleine shopping for cups to replace those she broke that lead to one of the most interesting characters in the series - handsome, suave and sophisticated, Nappi Napolitano, the supposed mob boss who has helped Eve out of many scrapes. Eve is looking for a way to repay him. Perhaps she’ll get that opportunity in one of the three books to come. Nappi doesn’t expect a return on his generosity, but I always think it’s a good plan to return the favor and especially if he’s a “Family” man.
Except for Nappi whose character remains constant - he’s so terrific that I wouldn’t want to change him much - most of the characters, not only Eve, have developed and grown, changes that are necessary to keep the series fresh and vibrant for the reader. Of course, murder is just the sort of challenge that shakes up everyone, not only the protagonist. It can bring out the best in the characters as well as reveal their flaws. Readers like to know the protagonist and others stumble and fall … and get up again. Some of Eve’s character flaws remain throughout the series such as her impatience, which often leads her off on her own when she ought to know better. In Killer Tied, the possibility of her parents being alive when she thought they had died years ago leads her to jump to the conclusion that her grandmother (Grandy) has lied to her. She ought to know there is no one she can trust more than Grandy, but Eve is still the impulsive and impatient woman we met in the first book, A Secondhand Murder. In Book 6, it appears to Eve that love has abandoned her not once but twice, first with the loss of her parents at a young age and then with her assuming Grandy has lied to her about the event for all these years. The reader knows Grandy is steadfast and true in her love for Eve, but will Eve eventually understand that this love doesn’t include lies and deception? Or have I deceived the reader about Eve’s parents? That is the central question that both Eve and the story grapple with throughout this book.
Eve and Sammy’s adoption of three Miccosukee boys and the return of Sammy’s father to the family has deepened Eve’s understanding of the importance of family. Not only does family bring love to her, but she grows to see how loving others is the real definition of love. It makes her a more complex and humble person. Eve has always had sass, but now she’s sassy with a lot of compassion and love added to the mix.
Sammy’s father remains a trial for her as he’s stubborn, impatient, and quick to jump to judgments, almost the female equivalent of Eve, but he has an edge not yet softened by the caring of others. I work on making that happen in Killer Tied. I think the reader will understand him better because he understands himself better, and he will reveal himself as someone who sees deeply into others. He is Sammy’s father after all, so the reader should expect more from him than the self-centered and conflicted person he often presents to others.
Grandfather Egret, Sammy’s father, like Grandy, provides the grounding for family life, but he, too, has evolved throughout the series. He will remain a man in touch with the traditions of his culture, but Eve has brought joy to his life.  While he’s not always an active participant in Eve’s adventures, he has joined her in several of her romps. It is clear she has added a dimension of excitement to his life. Eve has come to trust his advice and counsel and seeks out his advice as she does her Grandy’s. For a woman raised without parents, Eve now has a full complement of family surrounding her: Grandy, Grandfather, Madeleine and her husband and children, Sammy and Eve and Sammy’s children. Can Eve fully appreciate this bounty?
Eve is not the same woman she was in the first book. She’s still as sassy, in-your-face and impulsive as ever, but she’s more loving, a little humbler and more aware of how others have made her life more complete. She’s even more tolerant of her ex-husband, Jerry, who followed her from Connecticut to Florida. He’s still as lacking in common sense as ever, still annoys Eve intentionally and unintentionally, but in Book 6 Jerry’s giving side helps Eve tackle the bad guys.
Eve began her adventure in rural Florida running away from a marriage that did not work. She’s found that life among the cowboys, cattle, alligators, ranchers, locals and winter visitors has brought her more excitement and sense of belonging than she ever thought possible. Killer Tied returns Eve to her roots in the Northeast, but she finds the nostalgia of the past is not as satisfying as her new life in Florida. While still seen as an outsider by many Floridians, Eve knows that this place with all its swamps and alligators, fields of grazing cattle and palm trees has become as familiar to her as her own whip thin body. It is her home.

About the Author
Lesley A. Diehl
Lesley is a country gal through and through, from her childhood on a dairy farm in Illinois to college in a cornfield in Iowa, Lesley creates sassy, snoopy protagonists who embrace chasing killers in country settings. Lesley writes several series: the Big Lake Mystery series and the Eve Appel Mystery series both set in rural Florida; the Laura Murphy Mysteries located on a lake in upstate New York; and short stories, some featuring a few of Lesley’s unique relatives from back on the farm (Aunt Nozzie and the Grandmothers). She is inspired by an odd set of literary muses: a ghost named Fred and a coyote as yet unnamed. Killer Tied is the sixth mystery in the Eve Appel Mysteries.

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