New Release Review – Until You Are Dead, Dead, Dead: The Hanging of Albert Edwin Batson

dead

In 1902, on a prairie in southwest Louisiana, six members of a farming family are found murdered. Albert Edwin Batson, a white, itinerant farm worker, rapidly descends from likely suspect to likely lynching victim as people in the surrounding countryside lusted for vengeance. In a territory where the locals were coping with the opening of the prairies by the railroad and the disorienting, disruptive advances of the rice and oil industries into what was predominantly cattle country, Batson, an outsider, made an ideal scapegoat.

“Until You Are Dead, Dead, Dead” tells the story of the legal trials of Batson for the murder of six members of the Earll family and of the emotional trial of his mother. She believed him innocent and worked tirelessly, but futilely, to save her son’s life. More than two dozen photos of Batson, his mother, and the principals involved in his arrest and convictions help bring this struggle to life.

Though the evidence against him was entirely circumstantial, most of the citizenry of southwest Louisiana considered him guilty. Sensational headlines in national and local newspapers stirred up so much emotion, authorities feared he would be lynched before they could hang him legally. Even-handed, objective, and thorough, the authors sift the evidence and lament the incompetence of Batson’s court-appointed attorneys. The state tried the young man and convicted him twice of the murders and sentenced him each time to death. Louisiana’s governor refused to accept the state pardon board’s recommendation that Batson’s final sentence be commuted to life in prison. A stranger in a rapidly changing land, Batson was hanged.

Published: November 1, 2014

Amazon / Amazon UK

 

The story began when he, or someone who looked like him, tried to sell some mules.

 

My Review:

This is both a fascinating and disturbing look at a mass murder that took place in 1902, and a man who was, in all likelihood, put to death for a crime he did not commit. This is probably the oldest case I’ve read about in which the media almost single-handedly ensured the outcome of the trial.

I initially found this book a little hard to follow. I knew nothing about Ed Batson’s case prior to reading this. The author jumps right into the circumstances surrounding the murder and the assumptions leading to Batson’s prosecution. These early chapters are set up in a way more conducive to research and discussion than ease of understanding for the casual reader. I would have liked the opening to be more about Ed Batson and the area in which he lived, so I’d have a base to build upon. That does come later, though the content feels a little choppy.

The second half of this book flows with more ease, as we get into the actual trial and the turmoil surrounding the case. The author includes a lot of quotes taken from newspapers of that time, giving us an inside view of how badly the media had prejudiced the small community.

This is a compelling piece of history. While the case is old, we can still draw (too) many similarities in the way we allow media to prosecute and persecute at will.

 

Swift Justice for Ed Batson. Despicable Wrench Arrested Last Evening. ~ Headline from a Lake Charles newspaper

#MondayBlogs – MICHAEL SYKORA: The Hit Man You Can’t Help But Love

Michael Sykora is my beloved hit man. When I started writing No Justice, his first book, I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to make him likable. In the end, I didn’t make him anything. He did that himself. And, happily, readers have responded to him much as I have. He’s our lovable killer.

MSN Promo

Today I’m sharing a snippet from No Justice, featuring one of my favorite minor characters. Her name is Ruby, and she is Michael’s surrogate mother as well as his secretary. She doesn’t know he kills people as a side job, though she would likely still love him anyway. This scene is from early in the book, so I’m not giving away anything you wouldn’t learn at the start.

Michael pushed a strand of blond hair off his forehead. Five days ago he had celebrated his 34th birthday by blowing up a car, along with a human being. If people knew that about him, would they see him the way they saw Bruce Renwick? A man to be despised? Feared? Put away in a cage and forgotten about?

He wondered about that with a vague sort of detachment. What most people thought of him meant nothing. He valued their opinion about as much as he valued dog shit on the bottom of his shoe. Scrape it off and go on your way.

Ruby nudged his office door open and poked her head inside. She had skin the color of cocoa and a body that had stored too many donuts. And he loved her the way he imagined that most people loved their mothers.

Ruby’s eyes always danced with delight, as if she was privy to a magical secret. Looking at her, you just had to smile. And he did that now as he said, “Hi Ruby.”

“Well?” she said.

“Well?” he said back.

She moved into the room and planted her fists on oversized hips. “Michael Sykora, don’t you be giving me no lip.”

He tried to bite back his growing smile. “Wouldn’t dream of it,” he said.

“A good looking guy like you ain’t got no business being single,” she said. “You sit here holed up in this office like the world would tilt wrong if you weren’t looking.”

“I go out.”

She wagged a finger at him. “Business trips, business meetings. They don’t count. When’s the last time you had dinner with a lady that made butterflies flutter around your stomach?”

Michael didn’t have to think about that. The answer was two years, three months, and five days ago. The last time he’d seen Christina alive. She’d been brutally murdered that night. And his world had turned on its axis.

“You promised you’d quit early tonight,” Ruby continued. “Call Isaac. Go out and have some fun.”

Of all the people in the world, Ruby was one of the few whose opinion of him did matter. He wished he could be honest, tell her what he did during his so-called business meetings and business trips. Oddly enough, she’d probably understand. Two years ago, on that same night he’d lost his fiancé, Ruby had lost her pregnant daughter-in-law. Isaac, her son, had lost his wife and unborn child. Therefore Ruby understood the need for retaining balance in this world.

Michael shook those thoughts off. He said, “I’ll call him.”

“His shift ended at four,” she said. “He’s home now.”

“Okay, I get it. I’ll call him this minute.”

Ruby winked and said, “About time you got some sense about you.”

 

Here’s a look at No Justice, the first in the series:

No Justice

For Michael Sykora, killing started as blind rage. Then it became something he’s good at. To most of those who know him, Michael is a software designer, a smart but average guy with a workaholic nature. To a chosen few, Michael is a part-time hit man whose specialty is eliminating hard-core criminals.

Michael has managed to keep his two personas separate. Until now. When Nicki, a close friend, gets into trouble, Michael steps in to help. Having lost his fiance to a brutal crime, Michael will do whatever necessary to keep from losing another woman in his life.

Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes and Noble / Audible

 

Read excerpts, listen to audio samples, and read background information about the books on the Michael Sykora Novels page on my website.

 

Thanks for reading. :)

Book Review: UNDERNEATH by Heather Marie Adkins

Underneath

An ancient city, entombed beneath a museum that seeks to understand the brutal race that once inhabited the underground world.

A young woman with special empathic powers offered a job to create an exhibit of the city’s artifacts.

Underneath, they wait for her.

Underneath is a ten-thousand word novelette, approximately fifty pages.

Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes and Noble

 

My Review:

This story has quite a bit of depth for a short piece. The plot plays out at a good pace, and the content offers us a convincing look at otherworldly possibilities.

A perfect circle of darkness opened like an ink spill beneath the shovel as he pushed it in the earth, and then he was gone.

Rebecca’s character is well developed. I enjoyed the interplay between Rebecca and her daughter. Their abilities are handled in a way that is both believable and intriguing.

I froze as his body became transparent, like a movie fading to black; and he wound his form around me so that I retched under the unnatural stink of him.

My only complaint is that the ending feels rushed. We are told about the aftermath, rather than being allowed to experience it along with the characters. Aside from that small issue, this is a highly entertaining story. I’m looking forward to reading more by this author.

 

Thanks for reading. :)

Book Review: MY SISTER’S GRAVE by Robert Dugoni

My Sisters Grave

Tracy Crosswhite has spent twenty years questioning the facts surrounding her sister Sarah’s disappearance and the murder trial that followed. She doesn’t believe that Edmund House—a convicted rapist and the man condemned for Sarah’s murder—is the guilty party. Motivated by the opportunity to obtain real justice, Tracy became a homicide detective with the Seattle PD and dedicated her life to tracking down killers.

When Sarah’s remains are finally discovered near their hometown in the northern Cascade mountains of Washington State, Tracy is determined to get the answers she’s been seeking. As she searches for the real killer, she unearths dark, long-kept secrets that will forever change her relationship to her past—and open the door to deadly danger.

Published: November 1, 2014

Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes and Noble

 

My Review:

My Sister’s Grave is a solid suspense story that held my interest from start to finish. The writing is smooth, carrying us along without any intrusion from the author. I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s style.

Sleep was like sex. The less you had, the more you craved it, and Tracy Crosswhite hadn’t had much of either lately.

The main characters are well developed. We’re given a strong sense of who they are as people. I was able to feel their struggles and emotions throughout the story.

It could be so cruel, hope. But for twenty years it was all she’d had to hold on to, the only thing to push back the darkness that lingered on the periphery, searching for every opportunity to enshroud her.

The plot moves at a good pace. Facts are revealed as Tracy uncovers them. While the ending might not come as a surprise to many avid suspense readers, the author casts enough doubt to keep us questioning our assumptions.

Two things kept this from being a 5-star read for me. First, the ‘bad guy’ is too predictable and one-dimensional. Second, and more importantly, I didn’t believe the story’s outcome. I don’t want to give details that would spoil the read for anyone, so I’ll have to be somewhat vague here. In general, I thought that Tracy would have either discovered or been told the big secret long before things got out of control. And, more specifically, if I so easily predicted the outcome, the people involved should have as well. My inability to totally buy into the last part of this book took away from my overall enjoyment.

“Not ghosts, Roy. Not chasing ghosts. I’m chasing a killer,” she said.

Despite what I consider the problem areas, this is an enjoyable read by a talented writer.

 

Thanks for reading. :)

Book Review – LOBSTER BOY: The Bizarre Life and Brutal Death of Grady Stiles Jr.

Lobster Boy

Meet Grady Stiles Jr., a carnival “freak show” character known as The Lobster Boy and his offbeat colleagues–The World’s Only Living Half Girl, Midget Man, The Electrified Girl, and the Human Blockhead. And then look beneath the carnival tent flaps at the dark underworld and personal life of The Lobster Boy and the events leading up to his brutal murder. Learn how and why author Fred Rosen risked his own life in the pursuit of justice in this revised and updated WildBlue Press True Crime Classic!

Amazon / Amazon UK

 

My Review:

This book is, unfortunately, one of those instances where the writing doesn’t live up to the story.

Willette noticed something else. Not only were the man’s legs stunted with pointed extremities in place of feet, but his hands appeared to be claw-like, with what might have been fingers deformed into two large digits.

Later, Willette would discover that Grady Stiles, Jr., was known on the carny circuit as Lobster Boy.

Let’s begin with the good stuff. The content is fascinating and the author obviously put a lot of time into the research. We’re taken through three generations of a dysfunctional family. We’re shown what life is like for families who are part of traveling carnivals, particularly back when physical disabilities were considered human oddities that people would pay to see – and mock.

Now on to the bad stuff. The writing is truly terrible. We have constant misused tenses, with inappropriate shifts between present and past. The sentence structure is often awkward and uncomfortable to read. Much of the story, particularly during the cover of the trial, is nothing more than a recitation of facts. This quickly becomes repetitive and dull, as if we’re reading a trial transcript.

There is a certain amount of subjectivity in Rosen’s account of this story. He clearly has a vested stake in the trial, as he proudly injects himself into the center. This is done with a sense of self-righteousness, in the name of justice. He also makes several statements that show his ignorance and prejudice on certain topics.

In the media room, the reporters were scrambling. I’d thrown them a curve and they had to figure out how to play it.

I read a lot of true crime and, while the facts of this case are disturbing, that’s to be expected. The details, though, felt chosen for effect. I couldn’t help but think we were missing something. We were shown a kind of one-sided view. For one thing, I think the author missed an important opportunity to explore the issue of battered wife syndrome. Sadly, this was one of those areas where the author was closed off and showed a bit of ignorance.

In the end, this is a fascinating case and that is the only reason I got through the entire book. With a talented editor, or maybe a ghostwriter with a good sense of storytelling, this would be a riveting story.

It was on a warm May day in Trenton, New Jersey in 1959, that the charming Lobster Boy and the incest victim from New England met and fell in love.

** I was provided with a copy of this book by WildBlue Press in exchange for an honest review. **

 

Thanks for reading. :)

Politics, Sports, and Young Love! New Release: BLOCKED by Jennifer Lane

Can opposites attract release graphic

New Adult Contemporary/Sports Romance

Released October 21, 2014

Blocked Cover College freshman Lucia Ramirez has a secret crush on Dane Monroe. He’s a tall drink of water — blond, brash, and one hell of a volleyball player. Hijole. Lucia hopes her volleyball scholarship to his school will make him notice her.

Too bad what’s noticeable is Dane’s obvious hatred for Lucia. Her family’s politics contradict everything he stands for. And politics are front and center in both their families. Dane’s mother is about to face Lucia’s father in the race for US President.

When Secret Service throws them together, Dane can’t deny his frustrating attraction to Lucia’s athletic curves and sweet faith in the world. Amid the intense pressure of college athletics and presidential politics, can opposites not just attract, but overcome overwhelming odds to be together? Or do their differences block their match from the start?

Amazon

 

Excerpt from BLOCKED:

Now that we were alone in the hallway, my eyes swept up Lucia’s firm body, and I decided to play with her a bit. “Did you hear what one of those reporters said?”

She studied me with nervous eyes, then shook her head.

“They asked if we slept in the same bedroom.”

Her lips parted as she drew a breath, and her face turned a delicious shade of pink. I watched one hand smooth down her thigh, then dart up to the back of her neck. The other hand fidgeted at her side. It looked like she had to force a swallow.

Sweet Jesus. Her embarrassment totally turned me on.

“So, um…what did you tell them?” she finally asked.

A sense of pressure below my belt pulled me toward her. Her eyes widened as I approached, but she seemed more excited than frightened.

Her breezy, floral scent mingled with the liquid courage in my veins, and before I knew it I was running my fingers into her thick, damp hair. What the hell am I doing? God, it felt good, and she tilted her ear toward me like she enjoyed it too. There was a cute little dimple on her right cheek that winked at me. I found myself leaning closer to her face, and considering her impressive height, I didn’t have far to go. Her shiny eyes turned back to me, and she gazed up with such yearning, such depth.

My heart thundered. Stop seducing me, Devil Spawn!

Those sensuous lips opened for me, their sweetness luring me forward. I held my face over hers, breathing in her smell, and her eyes fluttered shut as she surrendered to me. I stared at her soft features for too long, shocking myself with an insane desire to kiss those sweet lips. Before I totally freaked myself out, I shifted an inch to press a kiss onto her warm cheek, right on her dimple. I could feel her tremble beneath my touch.

My hand still tangled in her hair, I pulled back to gaze into her mesmerized eyes. “I told them I never kiss and tell.”

When I let her go, I heard a little squawk of protest. That adorable noise reminded me of the pressure down below — pressure I needed to do something about. I turned and took swift strides down the hall.

“Where are you going?” Her breathy voice was tinged with desperation.

I grinned. She was just too easy to mess with.

 

About the Author

Get psyched for romance with psychologist/author (psycho author) Jennifer Lane! By day she witnesses growth in her psychotherapy clients, and by night she wrangles misbehaving fictional characters as she writes sports romance and romantic suspense with a psychological twist. She can’t decide which is more fun.

A swimmer and volleyball player in college, Jen wove some of her own experiences into Streamline—a military mystery about swimmers. And readers can dip their toes into Jen’s world of swimming romance by sampling her free New Adult novella Swim Recruit.

College volleyball romance Blocked is Jen’s newest release, launching 10-21-14. Peek inside big-time college sports and even bigger national politics when the offspring of two presidential candidates find out whether opposites really do attract, or their match is blocked from the start.

Stories of redemption interest Jen the most, especially the healing power of love. She is also the author of The Conduct Series, a romantic suspense trilogy that includes With Good Behavior, Bad Behavior, and On Best Behavior. Ultimately, whether writing or reading, Jen loves stories that make her laugh and cry.

In her spare time she enjoys exercising, attending book club, hanging out with her plus-size, “I’m not fat, I’m big-boned” Izzie cat, and visiting her sisters and their families in Chicago and Hilton Head.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

 

Writing Blocked

Lucia opened the door. “They say not to discuss politics and religion on the first date.”

“Well, then.” I gave her a huge smile. “We’re screwed.”

~*~

Has a political opinion on social media ever made your blood boil? Have you struggled to tolerate friends’ opposing political views? There’s a bitter political divide in many countries, including the US, and those polarized philosophies inspired the story of Blocked.

Heroine Lucia Ramirez and hero Dane Monroe view the world in opposite ways but are thrown together as their parents compete for the US presidency. Underhanded national politics are hardly the place for a trusting relationship to begin, but can love bridge the gap of mistrust and hatred?

The theme of forbidden love intrigues me. Lucia’s conservative father, the Republican nominee for US President, would be horrified to learn of his daughter’s crush on his liberal opponent’s son Dane. Dane and his mother, the Democratic nominee for US President, believe that harsh conservative ideals thwart the American dream.

One lesson from my psychology career is that perception is reality. Democrats see the world quite differently from Republicans, and both groups are hell-bent on proving they’re right. Dane wants equality for all. Lucia stands for individual responsibility. Which philosophy is better? Which will persevere in the next election?

Sometimes, political discussion becomes heated. It gets ugly. In contrast, I tried my hardest to present each viewpoint fairly in this story. Readers and editors from both sides of the aisle critiqued the manuscript, and one reason I self-published the novel was to preserve a delicate balance of political views between Dane and Lucia.

Despite their political differences, Lucia and Dane share one thing in common: volleyball. Both are scholarship volleyball players at a top university, vying to earn a spot on the US national team one day. In addition to swimming, I played volleyball at a small college, and my love for this sport bleeds onto the pages. To smash a perfectly set volleyball down the opponent’s throat? There’s nothing more satisfying. And the closeness of a team is one of life’s special pleasures, experienced by Lucia and Dane.

I hope you enjoy the political and sport elements in Blocked.

 

GIVEAWAY

Jennifer Lane is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card on her Facebook page for the release! You can enter HERE.

#MondayBlogs: Questionable Sexual Diversions and Pancakes – A Glimpse Inside HIT LIST

Today I’m sharing a snippet from a scene with two of my favorite characters – Lucianna Martel and her Uncle Vinnie from Hit List. Vinnie started out as a character of convenience, one I needed to fill a role. He quickly took on a life of his own. I know it sounds a little crazy to say that he invented himself, but he did. He stood out and took his role much further than I’d anticipated. One of these days, I need to give Vinnie a book of his own. Before we get to the scene, here’s a look at the book:

Hit List Cover3

Would you give up your sanity in order to forget?

Sanity is not something you lose, like your car keys or that elusive sock in the dryer. That’s what Ian believed before his mother stepped over the edge from sane to crazy.

No one is able to give Ian a reasonable explanation. Corinne suffers from severe memory loss, odd behavior, and paranoid delusions. Or at least Ian had been told they were delusions. After all, who would be hiding outside watching his mother? And why?

Ian hires private investigator Lucianna Martel to retrace the events of his mother’s last sane day. During Lucianna’s investigation, she and Ian learn that Corinne may not be so crazy after all.

Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes and Noble / Audible

 

Meet Lucianna and Vinnie:

“Patrick called twice,” Vinnie said.

Lucianna groaned, pushed the rest of the way through the door. She said, “Can you wait until I get all the way inside before delivering bad news?”

Vinnie shrugged. He waited while Lucianna shoved the door closed and trudged across the room to his desk. Then he said, “Ready now?”

“Is there more?”

“The man is a nuisance. Not to mention a complete embarrassment to the male gender. What is with this groveling nonsense?”

Lucianna tugged off her coat. “Apparently he thinks that he loves me.”

“Is this a recent revelation or one discovered during your brief… relationship?”

“Recent, I think. Who knows? I don’t really care.”

“This is how stalkers begin.”

“Oh please.” Lucianna strode toward her private office. “He’s immature, that’s all.”

“Uh-huh.”

Inside her office, Lucianna tossed her coat over a corner chair and dropped her briefcase on top. From behind her, Vinnie said, “Care to hear about my morning?”

Lucianna rubbed her temples as she crossed the room. After dropping into the chair behind her desk, she said, “Should I be mean? Like tell him I was just using him for the sex?”

Vinnie broke into a wide grin. “And Patrick is the type you’d seek out for that sort of thing?”

“Okay, so a diversion then.”

“A diversion from the type you would normally seek for a sexual fling?”

“Yes.”

“Might work,” Vinnie said. “Might just piss him off. The problem is that any acknowledgement you give him could be misconstrued as encouragement. You know, by someone in his pathetic state.”

“Great.” Lucianna leaned back, stretched her arms over her head and yawned. “Okay, tell me about your breakfast meeting. You had pancakes smothered in syrup. Bacon. Two eggs, over easy. And at least a half pot of coffee.”

“And wheat toast.”

“Hmm… Something healthy as a concession to all that cholesterol?”

“Have to keep my doctor happy.”

Lucianna shook her head, though she couldn’t help but laugh. “I’m sure your doctor just adores you.”

“Who doesn’t?” Vinnie had made himself comfortable in a chair opposite Lucianna. He stretched out his long legs, smoothed the creases in his slacks. “Now would you like to hear about my breakfast conversation? Or was your interest limited to the menu?”

 

Read the opening of chapter 1 on my website: www.quietfurybooks.com/hitlist.html

You can also listen to an audiobook sample:

 

Thanks for reading – and listening. :)

Book Review: JUST MERCY by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy

A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

Published: October 21, 2014

Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes and Noble

 

My Review:

Anyone who believes justice is truly blind – or fair – needs to read this book. Bryan Stevenson takes us deep into the criminal justice system, sharing details of his cases and experiences as a defense attorney working for a nonprofit organization. At its very core, our legal system is skewed in favor of the wealthy and the white. Biases and outright racism are justice’s dirty little secret.

The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.

I read a lot of law-based nonfiction and true crime, and I was already aware of the deep cracks in our criminal justice system. Even so, the blatant racism that still exists within the deep south took my breath away. I found myself at equal turns angry and disheartened. I wondered how anyone could do what this man does each day and not give in to the depths of despair.

Stevenson walks us through his work with inmates on death row. Some are guilty, some are not. The people sentenced to death vary in intelligence, mental health and, to some degree, race. One thing that does not change is that they are all poor. They did not have access to good legal aid. Often they did not even receive competent representation.

In debates about the death penalty, I had started arguing that we would never think it was humane to pay someone to rape people convicted of rape or assault and abuse someone guilty of assault or abuse. Yet we were comfortable killing people who kill, in part because we think we can do it in a manner that doesn’t reflect anything onto us, the way that raping or abusing someone would. I couldn’t stop thinking that we don’t spend much time contemplating the details of what killing someone actually involves.

While these stories are disturbing, what I found most appalling was the section dealing with children. Here in the U.S., we are making it our mission to try children in adult courts. We hand life sentences without the possibility of parole to prepubescent children, for non-homicide crimes. We’re putting 12- and 13-year-old kids in adult prisons, with violent criminals who are very much adults. We treat them like trash, locking them away to keep the prison wheels turning. Part of Bryan Stevenson’s work is to help these kids, to commute their sentences to something a bit more rational and humane, and to often be the only caring adult these kids have in their lives.

Ian’s appointed lawyer encouraged him to plead guilty, assuring him that he would be sentenced to fifteen years in prison. The lawyer didn’t realize that two of the charges against Ian were punishable with sentences of life imprisonment without parole. The judge accepted Ian’s plea and then sentenced him to life with no parole. Even though he was thirteen, the judge condemned Ian for living in the streets, for not having good parental supervision, and for his multiple prior arrests for shoplifting and minor property crimes.

While nothing about the content is light, Stevenson’s writing style is conversational and easy to read. He doesn’t use a lot of technical jargon. He doesn’t reach for flowery prose or obscure words. This book is designed to be read by the masses, whether you have a simple high school education or a law degree.

Bryan Stevenson’s work is commendable. This man is one of those unsung heroes in life. We hold athletes up on pedestals because they can throw a ball, while people like Stevenson make the world a better place without a bit of recognition. We can’t all be lawyers. We can’t all dedicate our lives the way he does. But we can all pull our heads out of the sand and demand change.


Thanks for reading. :)

Read It Free! MIAMI SNOW Available On Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime!

My moral high ground is crumbling beneath me. Oh, Amazon, what have you done to me?

Before I bemoan my collapse, here is the good news: My novel Miami Snow is now available as a free read for Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited members!

MiamiSnowCover

One day Nick Donovan has it all; a beautiful, pregnant wife, a nice house, a great job. The next day he is on his own, starting from scratch with nothing but a few suitcases and his old truck.

Nick flees to the opposite coast of Florida, trying to leave his ex-wife and the memories behind. But that couldn’t happen. Soon Nick finds that he is tied to Shelley in a way that he hadn’t expected. And, in her bitterness, she does everything she can to ensure his misery.

Brandy is Shelley’s opposite; wild, sensual, free-spirited. With Brandy, Nick is able to rebel against all that Shelley stands for. Brandy quickly leads Nick into a world of sex, drugs, and cash. And now Nick finds himself caught between the two worlds, desperate to stay afloat.

Amazon / Amazon CA / Amazon UK

 

You might be wondering why this is a moral dilemma for me. It’s not that I don’t want to give Prime and Unlimited members the opportunity to read my books free. Quite the contrary! I’d like all my books to be enrolled. But here’s the stumbling point. In order to do so, I have to sign an exclusivity contract with Amazon for each title. That means I cannot make my title, in ebook format, available anywhere other than Amazon. The very fiber of my being is against exclusive deals. I find them offensive. Unfair. And yet…

Amazon is the giant of ebooks. Amazon is also what made it possible for me and thousands of other indie authors to first make our books available to the masses. Without their help, most indie authors would be lucky to have their family members read their books. The exclusive deal not only allows our books into the catalog of Unlimited and Prime reads, it also offers us access to promotional tools. And, as much as I don’t like to do it, promotion is a necessary evil of all products.

Then there’s the other thing. I have Amazon Prime. I also have a lengthy Kindle books wish list on Amazon. Each month, I go through my wish list to find a book I want to read that is available via Prime. Those are the books I almost always knock out of my wish list first, because I can read them free. (Well, sort of free. We do still have to pay for the Prime membership.) I love when the books I want to read are available through Prime. I hate that mine aren’t. So I have given up a bit of my moral high ground. I’m experimenting with one of my titles to see how it goes. The exclusive contract runs for 90 days. During the next three months, I’ll monitor whether it’s worth renewing the contract and keeping this book – and perhaps my others – solely on Amazon. In the meantime, my inner hippie is screaming about the inequality and I’m doing my best to ignore the shouts of injustice.


Thanks for reading. :)

Blog Tour and Giveaway! Protecting Caroline by Susan Stoker

Protecting-Caroline-Banner

Title: Protecting Caroline
Series: SEAL of Protection #1
Author: Susan Stoker
Published: September 8th, 2014
Word Count: 62,000
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Content Warning: Violence
Age Recommendation: 18+

Protecting-Caroline **Protecting Caroline is a stand-alone love story. It is Book 1 in the SEAL of Protection Series**

Matthew “Wolf” Steel hated flying commercial. Luckily his job as a Navy SEAL meant he didn’t have to do it very often. He’d been unlucky enough to be assigned a middle seat on the cramped jet, but fortunately for him, the woman next to him was willing to switch seats with him. Hoping for a relaxing flight, Wolf was pleasantly surprised at the good conversation and sense of humor the woman had as they flew 36,000 feet over the countryside.

When Caroline boarded the plane to Virginia to move across the country for her new job she never expected to be seated next to the hottest guy she’d ever seen. She also never expected he’d be so easy to talk to. She knew he’d never be interested in talking to her if he hadn’t been trapped in the seat next to her, but it was a nice way to spend a long plane ride.

Neither Wolf nor Caroline were prepared for a terrorist hijacking of their plane, but if Caroline thought that would be the last time she’d see, or need, Wolf, she’d be sorely mistaken.

Start the SEAL of Protection Series with Caroline and Wolf’s story.

Amazon / Goodreads

 

Excerpt from Protecting Caroline:

Wolf didn’t say anything, just did what he’d desired to do the first time he saw her in the room. He reached over and gathered her into his arms. She was stiff at first, then she melted into him. She smelled of some sort of flowers. Maybe it was her shampoo, maybe it was a lotion she used, but it went straight to his head. He tightened his arms around her and Caroline lost it. She cried. She cried for being scared on the plane, she cried for being hurt, she cried remembering how alone and scared she felt in her apartment when only a thin piece of plastic kept a killer from knowing she was in the bathroom, she cried in relief that Matthew was back from his mission. Matthew rocked her and held her tight. He wasn’t used to a woman’s tears, but there was no way he was letting her go.

Finally her tears dried up and she only sniffed here and there. Wolf drew back a bit and looked at her face. She wasn’t a “cute crier”—her face was red and blotchy. She refused to raise her eyes. Wolf rubbed her cheeks with his thumbs and then lifted her chin up so Caroline had to look at him. He didn’t say anything just leaned down and touched her lips with his. It wasn’t a passionate kiss, but it felt right. It was a comforting kiss. It was exactly what she needed from him at that moment.

He pulled back and looked into her eyes. “You’re safe now. I’ll do everything in my power to make sure you stay that way.”

Caroline believed him. He was an honest to God hero. And for the moment, he was her hero. She tipped her chin up, reaching again for his lips with hers.

The second she moved, he was there. Wolf had tried to hold back with her. She was feeling vulnerable and he didn’t want to take advantage of her. But with the first touch of her lips against him, he was lost.

 

About the Author:

Susan-Stoker Susan Stoker has a heart as big as the state of Texas where she lives but this all American girl has also spent the last fourteen years living in Missouri, California, Colorado, and Indiana. She is quite the romantic and even met the love of her life on “Hotmail classified” before online dating and sites like match.com even existed!

Susan has been reading romance novels since middle school and once crossed out the names of the main characters in a book and changed them to her own and to the name of her crush. She’s been writing scenes for years, developing her unique writing style.

Susan loves writing but her true passion is adopting dogs from rescue groups and shelters. Susan and her husband have had a total of nine “rescued” dogs since 2000 including a variety of basset hounds and bloodhounds. She has recently branched out and adopted a basset/terrier mix who acts more like a terrier than a basset (i.e. digging, eating a couch and being hyper).

Amazon Author Page / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

 

Interview With Susan – About the Book:

Which is your favorite minor character and why?

Tex! There’s just something about him. He’s a former SEAL that got hurt and is now medically retired. He’s tough, but also very vulnerable. He’s the go-to guy for Wolf and his team, but he’s totally on the “outside.” He touched me so much that I had to write a book for him too. The series was only going to be 6 books long, but because of Tex it’s now 7.

Please share a few favorite lines or one paragraph.

Finally her tears dried up and she only sniffed here and there. Wolf drew back a bit and looked at her face. She wasn’t a “cute crier”—her face was red and blotchy. She refused to raise her eyes. Wolf rubbed her cheeks with his thumbs and then lifted her chin up so Caroline had to look at him. He didn’t say anything just leaned down and touched her lips with his. It wasn’t a passionate kiss, but it felt right. It was a comforting kiss. It was exactly what she needed from him at that moment. Wolf pulled back and looked into her eyes. “You’re safe now. I’ll do everything in my power to make sure you stay that way.”

How long did it take you to write this book?

I probably should say that it took years and years, but honestly, once I get started on writing a book, I just go and go until it’s done. I had started thinking about this story a few years ago, but once I sat down and started to really write the story, it probably took me about a week.

How did you come up with the title?

I wanted a title that someone could look at and know immediately it was a part of the SEAL of Protection Series. Every book in the series starts with “Protecting” and then has the name of the main female character. In the series all the women need protecting in some way or another, BUT they all also manage to somehow have a hand in saving themselves.

Of all the books out there, why should readers choose this one?

Of course I can’t tell a reader what they should and shouldn’t like, but I feel like Protecting Caroline is a quick moving story that doesn’t get bogged down in details and it doesn’t drag out any one scene. It is not erotica, so there isn’t a lot of sex, but there is a lot of emotion and connecting between Wolf and his teammates and between Caroline and Wolf. It’s a story of a woman who believes she’s plain, but in reality she turns out to be tougher than the SEALs.

 

Giveaway:

eBook – Protecting Caroline (INT)
Print – Protecting Caroline (US)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Follow the tour to learn more about Susan and her writing: http://junipergrovebooksolutions.com/protecting-caroline-susan-stoker

Thanks for reading. :)