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FOUR CUTS TOO MANY: A Sarah Blair Mystery by DEBRA H. GOLDSTEIN—A REVIEW BY VERONICA JORGE

May 22, 2021 by in category Book Reviews by Veronica Jorge, Write From the Heart by Veronica Jorge tagged as , , , ,

Four Cuts Too Many: A Sarah Blair Mystery By Debra H. Goldstein

Kensington Publishing Corp.  2021   ISBN 978-1-4967-3221-7

It started out as a regular day. Sarah Blair sat outside of the Carleton Junior Community College waiting for her friend Grace Winston, a cutlery teacher in the culinary arts department. And if you’ve read the previous Sarah Blair mysteries, you know that nothing is ever ordinary in Sarah’s life.

In Four Cuts Too Many, Debra H. Goldstein’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery, Dr. Douglas Martin, the chairman of the culinary arts program gets stabbed in the back…literally. Sarah dons her sleuthing cap once again to find the real killer, but she finds herself hard pressed to figure out who had the best motive because the entire staff referred to Dr. Martin as the ‘Malevolent Monster.’

When the police target Grace as the prime suspect, even Sarah cannot explain away her friend’s argument with the chairman and her bloody apron. Or the fact that the knife in his back belonged to Grace!

Like searching for a hidden object embedded in a painting, Debra is a master at hiding the true killer in plain sight within the story. Filled with a motley crew of characters and a tangle of secret lives, and ambitious hearts where no one is exactly what they seem, Four Cuts Too Many is an engaging page turner and a delightful read.

I can’t wait to read what Debra cooks up in her next mystery.  Five __ Too Many?  Whatever it is, I am certain that with her creativity and story skills she will create another recipe for success.

And if you want to ramp up your kitchen skills, the recipes at the end of the book are a tasty ending to a great story so make sure to treat yourself. 

Veronica Jorge

See you next time on June 22nd!

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The Sarah Blair Mystery Series

(Hover over covers for buy links. Click covers for more information.)

ONE TASTE TOO MANY

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ONE TASTE TOO MANY

TWO BITES TOO MANY

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TWO BITES TOO MANY

THREE TREATS TOO MANY

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THREE TREATS TOO MANY

FOUR CUTS TOO MANY

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FOUR CUTS TOO MANY
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Dark Secrets of the Bayou Book Tour and Excerpt

February 23, 2021 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Rabt Book Tours tagged as , , , ,
 

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery, Suspense

 

Date Published: November 2020

Publisher: Raven South Publishing

 

 

 

To avenge the past, one must first unearth its secrets.

 

Catherine “Tink” Mabrey, an up and coming attorney, is shocked by her recent inheritance from her estranged family on the bayou. After her mother died during childbirth, Tink’s father had quickly relocated them to the big city of Atlanta, Georgia. With no memory of her mother, she is determined to learn more about her lineage and decides to visit the bayou town of Kane, Louisiana. Candace, Tink’s co-worker and best friend, agrees to make the trip with her.

 

Before she has time to explore her family’s history, or decide what to do with the declining property, local murders plague Tink’s homecoming. She quickly finds herself caught in the middle of a multiple murder investigation – and quite possibly, the prime suspect. When Candace retreats back to Atlanta, Tink, with the support of an unlikely cast of characters, sets out to discover clues that have haunted and tormented her family for generations.

 

Could a concealed crime from the 1800’s, or the family’s estate itself, harbor keys to unlocking the past? The more they learn, the more they question whether some secrets are best left buried.

 

Other Books By Kim Carter:

 

 

Sweet Dreams, Baby Belle (2017)

Murder Among The Tombstones (2017)

No Second Chances (2017)

Deadly Odds (2018)

And The Forecast Called For Rain (2018)

When Dawn Never Comes (2018)

Amazon

 

 

 


About The Author

 

 

Kim Carter is an author of suspense, mystery and thriller novels. She was a finalist in the 2018 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award and recipient of the 2017 Readers’ Choice Award for her book Murder Among The Tombstones. This is the first book in her Clara and Iris Mystery series. The characters in this series are a couple of overly curious widows who become private investigators and were inspired by Kim’s mother and her mom’s best friend.

Her other titles include: When Dawn Never Comes, Deadly Odds, No Second Chances, And The Forecast Called For Rain, and Sweet Dreams, Baby Belle.

Kim’s writing career started after she suffered an illness that made her housebound for a couple of years. An avid reader of mystery novels, she embarked on writing as a means of filling her time. Kim shared those early writings with friends and family who encouraged her to pursue writing professionally. Her health struggles and successes have been chronicled on The Lifetime Television in early 2000, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Women’s Day Magazine, and Guideposts.

Prior to her illness, Kim worked in many different capacities in county government ranging from Park Director with Parks and Recreation to the Grant Department with Human Services. But, ultimately, it was her job as a correctional officer that provided her the opportunity to interact with a variety of people from all walks of life. Her experiences ran the gamete of inspiring success stories to tragic endings, much like her mysteries.

She self-published her first book No Second Chances. One of the guest speakers at the launch party she had at the Performing Arts Center in Newnan, Georgia included her close friend retired Atlanta Police chief Eldrin Bell. This connection would become helpful as she started doing more research for other books, this time working with a small publishing house.

Kim started networking and made connections with the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office. Her research has taken her many places including morgues, death row and the occasional midnight visit to cemeteries.

She is a college graduate of Saint Leo University, has a Bachelor Degree of Arts in Sociology. Kim and her husband have three grown children and live just outside of Atlanta, Georgia.

 

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Excerpt

Dark Secret of the Bayou

Kim Carter

KANE, LOUISIANA, 1859

EMMANUEL SINCLAIR STOOD BACK and surveyed the sprawling plantation that had encompassed his life for the past two years. He nodded with pleasure as if someone were there awaiting his approval. Placed perfectly amidst rows of river oaks, magnolias, and sycamores, the estate was breathtakingly beautiful. The well-designed landscape surrounding the home contrasted sharply with the bald cypress and coastal willows rising prominently from the waters in the bayou. 

Emmanuel had no doubt, Lucretia, his soon-to-be bride, would be delighted with her stately new home. Within the next twenty-four hours, she was scheduled to go by train from Baltimore to the Ohio River. 

Lucretia would then travel by steamboat via the Ohio and the Mississippi to New Orleans, where Emmanuel would be waiting for her. Lucretia’s trip would be grueling, but she’d experienced many challenges over her eighteen years. Her grandparents had been part of the Expulsion of 1755 when the British ejected all French-Acadians refusing to pledge allegiance to the King of England. Originally settling in Maine, her family relocated to New York before putting down permanent stakes in Baltimore. 

Young Lucretia longed for consistency, and it had been Emmanuel’s stability that’d won her over. By the age of thirty-five, he’d already made his fortune in the cotton business. His father had died seven years earlier, leaving Emmanuel a sizeable concession of land and a fledgling cotton crop, which, at best, kept the plantation self-sufficient. But it was the combination of Emmanuel’s business savvy, the increase of cotton production, and Louisiana’s strategic ports that’d quickly increased his wealth. 

AS EMMANUEL HAD BEEN STEADILY BUILDING a prosperous empire, Thaddeus Jackson had been constructing a flourishing kingdom of his own, on an equally expansive plantation a few miles away. Thaddeus had his father, Mathias, to thank for being born a free man of color. He had caught Andrew Jackson’s eye as a standout on the battlefield during the War of 1812. His grueling work ethic and leadership skills played pivotal in constructing breastworks, later referred to as Line Jackson. 

Thaddeus had quickly tired of the story, even as a young boy, and considered his father nothing more than a yes-man who’d covered cotton bales with logs and mud to protect the white army. However, Andrew Jackson had been quite impressed— enough so, in fact, that he’d facilitated Mathias’s freedom. Not one to take any blessing for granted, Mathias had chosen to acquire Jackson’s surname out of gratitude. 

Thaddeus had found much to dislike about his father, but he’d inherited many of his most admirable traits. He was a powerful leader and quick learner with a sense of adventure. These characteristics had led to his success as a Mississippi River privateer. His tall frame and good looks didn’t hinder him either. Both his appearance and self-confidence had also captured Fatima Lambert’s attention. 

Fatima came with quite the story of her own. With a shortage of white women in the state of Louisiana and laws forbidding interracial marriage, the institution of plaçage enabled her to be a mistress to the very wealthy, and incredibly old, William Lambert. She’d been merely a teenager when he’d spotted her working his fields and had quickly arranged for her to be a kept woman. 

Accustomed to hard labor and the unrelenting heat, she hadn’t objected to being at his beck and call and his bed when he’d insisted. Fortunately for Fatima, she’d only had to suffer through a few sessions of his sexual desires before he’d dropped dead of a heart attack at the ripe age of seventy-eight. 

With William being a childless widower and having no other heirs with whom to split his fortune, Fatima had become the proud owner of not only his cotton plantation but his slaves as well. It wasn’t her attractiveness as a mulatto that’d lured Thaddeus to pursue Fatima; it’d been her property and the glorious cotton fields that promised a lifetime of financial security. Once he’d set his sights on her, there was little Fatima could do but concede to his advances. After all, who wouldn’t want a bright, handsome husband to take care of things? 

A RABBIT SCURRIED beneath some underbrush, drawing Emmanuel’s attention to the cool, damp breeze and dark clouds promising an impending storm. He walked to the front porch, paused long enough to grab his oil lamp, and made his way inside. Emmanuel hesitated briefly to take in the magnificence of the grand staircase winding its way, like an ornate ribbon, up to the second and third floors. One of his slaves, who’d been trained as a blacksmith, had spent the past few months creating it, and he hadn’t disappointed. 

It would surely take Lucretia’s breath away. Aside from a bed and some office necessities, the remaining furnishings would be left to Lucretia’s desires. Yet another of Emmanuel’s wedding gifts to her. Although it was midday, and the many windows gave way to ample light, thunder clouds had begun to darken the home’s interior. Emmanuel made his way up the stairs, down the corridor leading to the west wing, and entered his office. He slid the mantel a smidgen to the left. 

This released the mechanism holding the entire faux fireplace intact, enabling him to unlock the steel door leading to an array of complex tunnels, and ultimately, his concealed vault. THIS WAS where the lives of two greedy and shrewd businessmen merged. 

This was the beginning of a tale older than time, filled with greed, lust, superstition, and murderous secrets they’d both take to their graves. 

It was a story meant to be locked away forever…


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Featuring The Extra Squeeze Team

February 21, 2021 by in category Featured Author of the Month, The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as , , , , , , ,

Each week in February we’ll be featuring The Extra Squeeze Team.

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

 

Have you a question for The Extra Squeeze Team? Send them to us by using this handy link.

Dear Extra Squeeze Team, How do you prepare for a new book release?

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

You need a PR plan to succeed. Straight up, any plan is better than no plan…and even if you are working with a traditional publisher, your plan may be the only plan that is ever created with much concern about building your long-term career. Accept early that your success as an author is not your publisher’s concern. Their business is centered around the products they have curated for their brand; it includes the book you created–not you.

The reality is, take care of yourself and build your own business.

Phase One is prep time.

 

Build or refresh your website. Connect your social media platforms to your website. Make sure that you use one author picture across platforms so that your brand has a singular face. Establish a media page to create and post your downloadable press kit. Include links to downloadable high-resolution images of your book cover and your author photo. Make sure you have a landing page for book sales.

Prepare a press release that offers the announcement of your book to share with your local paper, bloggers, industry influencers, and reviewers. Don’t know who they are? Figure it out. Clearly define the top four niches of your audience and start building a database of contacts to help you reach each target. In Phase One, fully create the day-by-day choreography for book launch week.

Phase Two is book launch week.

 

Synchronize your PR efforts to reach every corner of your world with news about your book in the seven days of the week that your book is first released. Everyone you can imagine needs to know now, all at once. Either plan a parade of activity or nothing will happen.

Phase Three is steady-to-the-course season.

 

PR efforts must be sustained. That means shift your message from new book announcement to relevant reasons to discover your book, reasons to peek inside, opportunities to read and buy.

How does a blog tour figure into all this? Up to you. The key is to decide when, how, and if you want a blog tour. It is hard work with lots of moving parts. It is a godsend for some authors and hellish for others.

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

Marketers say someone has to see your book 7 or 8 times before they buy. I’m not a marketer, so I can’t vouch for that but all the on-line exposure of a blog tour must be good. It can’t hurt – or can it? Just as a poorly written book will not sell, a poorly presented blog tour will turn off your audience before they even turn on. You need to leave a positive, compelling impression.

 

Prepare Several Blurbs

 

Since the content should be unique to each site you’ll need to prepare several blurbs – those enticing peeks at your story – not to mention tweets and whatever other social media is on offer. You can approach a blurb in different ways: lead with the most startling action element, lead with the dilemma, lead with a spotlight on character or setting, but lead with a sentence that hooks.

 

Describe Your Story Well

 

However you describe your story it’s critical that it be well written. This is, after all, the reader’s first taste of your voice. I’ve read choppy, unstrung blurbs that show what might be an interesting plot if you overlook the way the words are strung together. Regardless of how intriguing the plot sounds my immediate reaction is: This person can’t write. I won’t be reading this one.

 

Edit. Edit. Edit.

 

Of course, you’ve written a great book. It’s been carefully crafted, closely edited for errors in all respects from plot and character development to syntax and grammar. Your beta readers love it. Now you have to craft the words to sell the story without a single spoiler and with the same silver voice of the book. Craft your blurbs and interview responses with the same care you gave your book. And edit, edit, edit.

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

When I published my first book over thirty years ago I assumed the publisher would have all sorts of glittery, fantastic promotions planned that would shoot me to literary stardom.

Not!

In those days – just like these days – the author is responsible for launching their book and establishing their brand. The good news is that now the opportunity for promotion is controllable. I maintain a new release plan that has proven manageable and effective over the course of more than thirty books.

1) Write a good book: professional, exciting, as error free as possible and packaged beautifully. All the promotion in the world will not support an inferior product.

2) Set up your pre-orders and then create excitement with a sneak peek of a few chapters on your website (don’t forget buy links at the end of these chapters).

3) Alert interested parties starting with distribution channels. Smashwords, for instance, has an alert for author’s running BookBub ads. Once they know your ad date, they will pass the information along to their bookstores, those bookstores will consider your book for further promotion. BookBub Partners has an automated per-order alert for your followers. Amazon has the same. Read the distributor’s newsletters and find out what free opportunities are there for the taking.

4) When your manuscript is ready, start submitting it for reviews (I love PRG and InD’Tale).

5) Continue to nurture and grow your social media followers and plan affordable advertising geared toward look-alike audiences. Try sites like LitRing (have loved the 4 promos I’ve done with them). Many advertising sites won’t take pre-order advertising but purchase spots for immediately after your launch while your book is new. I am not a fan of blog tours. I have only paid to do one but I couldn’t quantify the results so for me this isn’t part of my strategy.

The bottom line is this: write well, be aware of what is available, be as genre specific as possible in your target marketing and remember that the launch is the beginning and not the end of your marketing efforts for your book and your brand.

H. O. Charles | A Slice of Orange

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array


I wish I knew the answer to this one because if I did, I would be a ££££££££££££-ionaire by now! I can tell you what NOT to do. When I launched my first book, I did little more than list it on Amazon and submit it to Smashwords. I had no idea about advertising (still learning on that front), and I published in secret, under a pseudonym, so had no friend or colleague network to exploit.

 

Tip 1: Don’t go it alone – if you know people who can help, use them. This applies to other authors. If they see your work and like it, they might team up with you to do a newsletter promo or similar.

 

Tip 2: Don’t do what soooo many authors do and sign up to a forum, then post once about your amazing new book. It won’t get you sales, but it will get people’s backs up (may have done this <coughs>).

 

Tip 3: Don’t list your pre-orders at full price. If you’re unknown, no one will take a chance on you anyway so you may have to lure customers in by being cheap!

 

Positive tips:

  • Do look at advertising opportunities, and check out writers’ forum reviews on their effectiveness.
  • Do make sure all of your pages are set up nicely – web page, Goodreads page, Facebook page… etc. so that readers can look you up, contact you and leave reviews easily.
  • Try to get on a few blog interviews.
  • Do be careful with your PR and the claims you make. It’s perfectly okay to brag about your past achievements, as long as they’re verifiable. I’ve noticed a few writers recently who claim to have sold 200,000 books in a month – you go to their Amazon page, and their book is ranked #100,008,282,212! It’s very easy to see through such fabrications, and once a writer loses trust from their readership, it’s unlikely to be regained.

Last of all, I would say to keep your expectations low. I know that sounds dreadfully pessimistic, but realistically, very few authors do well on one book without the backing of an expensive PR agency. It’s only once you have a good body of work out there and plenty of positive reviews that more readers will start to notice you.

The Extra Squeeze | A Slice of Orange

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

Send us your questions! 

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Read The Ultimate Betrayal by Kat Martin

January 4, 2021 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Spotlight tagged as , , ,

Excerpt

The Ultimate Betrayal

Kat Martin

She yawned as she closed the door, more exhausted than she had expected. She fell asleep quickly and slept far better than she had the night before, then rose at the first gray light of dawn.  She went in to shower and get ready for the day, dressed in a conservative dark brown skirt suit and heeled pumps, then quietly cracked open the door to the living room.

Bran was already up, standing with his back to her, one hand on his hip, the other pressing his cell phone against his ear.  A pair of white cotton briefs that hugged his round behind was all he had on. 

Jessie’s mouth went dry.  His suntanned back was smooth, except for a jagged scar on one side, and ridged with solid muscle.  Bands of muscle defined his shoulders and arms, and long sinewy legs tapered down to narrow feet. 

She told herself to close the door before Bran caught her staring at him like a juicy piece of meat, but instead she just stood there, her heart pounding, her breathing a little ragged. 

She was just pulling herself under control when he turned, the phone still pressed to his ear.  Jessie froze.  Her gaze shot to the heavy bulge at the front of his briefs and she felt a rush of heat so hot it made her dizzy.  Muscular pecs and six-pack abs.  A lean, hard-muscled chest and amazing biceps.  Desire hit her so hard she swayed on her feet.

She didn’t move till Bran jerked the blanket off his make-shift bed and wrapped it around his waist, knocking her out of her self-imposed trance and flushing her face with embarrassment.

“Sorry,” she managed to breathlessly whisper, stepped back and slammed the door.  Ohmygod, ohmygod.  She hadn’t felt the least attraction to a man for so long she’d forgotten what it was like.  Correction, she had never felt the jolt of desire she had felt looking at Brandon Garrett.  Ohmygod.

She told herself he was probably used to that kind of reaction from a woman, or at least the women who had seen him nearly naked.  Jessie sank down on the bed.  What could she possibly say to him?  How could she explain? 

But no words of explanation popped into her head. 

Since she couldn’t hide in the bedroom all day, and because Bran undoubtedly wanted to take a shower, she inhaled a deep breath, opened the door, and walked out into the living room.

“Sorry about that,” she said. 

He had pulled on his jeans but the rest of him was still gloriously bare.  “No problem.  I should have grabbed one of those terrycloth robes in the bathroom.”

She just nodded.  “Yeah.”  Her fingers curled into the palms of her hands as she walked past him toward the counter where he had brewed a pot of coffee.

“Mind if I use the shower?” he asked.

“Of course not.  You’re paying for the room.”  When he opened his mouth, she held up a hand.  “Sorry, no more talk about money.” 

“Exactly.”

She took a mug down from the cabinet above the sink and filled it with coffee, her hands still a bit unsteady.

“Why don’t you order us something to eat?” Bran suggested as he crossed the room toward the bedroom.  “I won’t be too long.”

“Bacon and eggs?” she asked.

“Sounds great.”  As he disappeared through the door and closed it behind him, Jessie sank down on one of the chairs at the dining table, coffee mug gripped tightly in her hands.  At least now she knew the abduction hadn’t completely destroyed her desire for the opposite sex.

Or at least one member of the opposite sex.  She grimaced.  She just wished the man who had rekindled her long-dead fire wasn’t Brandon Garrett.

Bran turned on the shower, set the nozzle to cold, and climbed in beneath the icy spray.  He clenched his jaw, fighting to block a memory of the look on Jessie’s pretty face when he had spotted her in the bedroom doorway.  Trying to block the erection he got every time the image reappeared in his head. 

Bran knew women.  He knew when a woman wanted him.  He swore softly, cursing the fate that had brought the two of them together, putting them both in a situation that could only get worse. 

So far he had managed to suppress the desire he’d felt from the moment Jessie had walked into his office.  With her fire-touched blond hair and fine features, she was beautiful.  He liked her body and admired her brain.  In a softly feminine way, she was sexy as hell, and he wanted her–no doubt about it. 

But aside from the erotic dream he’d had about her last night, he’d been doing an admirable job of controlling his lust.

Until this morning.  When the flush in her cheeks and the heat in her eyes had made it clear that the desire he felt was returned.  She wanted him.  Which meant he had to be the strong one because no way could he have her and just walk away. 

Jessie wasn’t the type he usually slept with, women who didn’t require exclusivity and didn’t expect to give it in return. 

He was fairly sure Jessie hadn’t been with a man since she was abducted.  He sure as hell didn’t want to be the first, didn’t want to deal with whatever trauma she had experienced, maybe make it worse.


Bestselling author Kat Martin, a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, currently resides in Missoula, Montana with Western-author husband, L. J. Martin.  More than seventeen million copies of Kat’s books are in print, and she has been published in twenty foreign countries.  Fifteen of her recent novels have taken top-ten spots on the New York Times Bestseller List, and her novel, BEYOND REASON, was recently optioned for a feature film.  Kat’s latest novel, THE ULTIMATE  BETRAYAL, a Romantic Thriller, was released in paperback December 29th.


The Ultimate Betrayal

THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL
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Spotlight on KAT MARTIN

January 24, 2019 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Spotlight tagged as , , ,
Kat Martin | A Slice of Orange
Photo by Juan Carlo, Ventura Country Star

New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. Currently residing in Missoula, Montana with her Western-author husband, L. J. Martin, Kat has written sixty-five Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. More than sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Her last novel, BEYOND CONTROL, hit both big lists … NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER LIST as well as the USA TODAY BEST-SELLING BOOKS LIST. Kat is currently at work on her next Romantic Suspense.


The Conspiracy | Kat Martin | A Slice of Orange

January sees the release of Kat’s newest romantic suspense THE CONSPIRACY. Read the excerpt below:

Excerpt: The Conspiracy

Kat Martin

The sounds of the rainforest surrounded him, the hum of insects, the shrill cry of a monkey, and the rustle of leaves as a wild animal moved through the undergrowth not far away.

In the blackness of night, Michael Winston leaned back against the thick trunk of an eighty foot Kapok rising up from the damp, mossy floor of the rainforest. His wrists burned from the plastic ties biding his hands behind his back. The white Bermuda shorts his captors had allowed him to put on when they had boarded BUZZ Word and found him sleeping naked next to Pia in the master cabin were gone. Replaced by khaki fatigues more suitable for their trek into the jungle.

Huddled on the ground beside him, hands also bound, Pia rested her head on his shoulder, her long mahogany hair teasing his cheek.  She was petite, no more than five foot-three, with big brown eyes and smooth olive skin. Even with her makeup gone, her baggy fatigues damp from the afternoon rain and sticking to her lush curves, she was beautiful.

Every time he looked at her, guilt and fury washed over him. Fury that he was helpless to protect her from what might be in store for them. Guilt that if he hadn’t convinced her to go sailing with him she would be safe back in Aruba.

He could only pray that their captors would continue to obey whatever orders had apparently come down from their leader, which seemed to be not to hurt them.

At least no more than they had already happened during the fight to subdue them that night on the boat. His jaw and cheek were bruised and his ribs acted from the blows he had taken. He would have kept fighting if one of the men hadn’t pulled a gun and pressed it against Pia’s head.

That had been days ago. What day was it now? He tried to count backward, remembered making incredible love to Pia for the first time after a night of gambling at the Trade Winds Casino. Both of them had won a little money, enough to have them smiling when they returned to the boat and ended up in bed.

He remembered Pia falling asleep in his arms. Remembered the deep, satisfied sleep he’d drifted into himself, a rarity with the heavy work schedule he’d been under.

Sometime later that night, two men, big, burly and tough, had boarded the yacht and taken control, forcing him to sail out of the marina into the open sea. For the next two days, Michael had been certain the men’s intention was to pirate the yacht, kill them and dump their bodies in the ocean.

If it hadn’t been for Pia, he would have made an attempt to overpower his captors, but the men were heavily armed and well-trained, and he wasn’t willing to risk Pia’s life unless there was absolutely no other choice.

Eventually, the boat had sailed into a quiet cove on a deserted stretch of beach several hundred miles from Curacao. If his mental calculations were correct, they’d arrived somewhere in Colombia.

They’d been imprisoned two more days before soldiers had arrived to take charge of them. By then, Michael had been certain the motive was ransom, a demand for millions from his mega-rich father in return for his son’s release. But he was no longer sure.

Not since the soldiers had forced him and Pia to begin this grueling trek into the rainforest that covered the steep sides of the mountains. They had hiked all day in ill-fitting boots provided by their captors that rubbed blisters on their feet.

At dusk the soldiers had stopped the march and begun making camp. Exhausted, Michael had slumped against the tree and Pia had eased down beside him. He had no idea how long they’d sat there while the men ate and drank between raucous bursts of laughter.

They’d been brought water and a little food, which they’d been released just long enough to eat, given a bathroom break, then been tied up again and left beneath the tree.

Equally as wet, numb and cold as he was, Pia shifted and raised her head to look at him. “How many more days, do you think, till we reach wherever they’re taking us?”

They hadn’t arrived at their final destination–he was sure of that. “I heard some of them talking. My Spanish sucks, but I was able to make out some of what they said. If I got it right, they’re planning to reach the main camp by tomorrow night.”

Which meant another long day of hiking through the harsh, wet, mountainous tropical landscape. Pia spoke far better Spanish than he did, but she’d been careful not to let them know. She was extremely smart, which was one of the reasons he’d been attracted to her in the first place. Not to mention her beautiful face and fantastic figure.

“Do you think they’ve sent word to your father?”

He had told her his ransom theory mostly to keep her spirits up, told her his father was worth millions of dollars and that he would surely pay for the safe return of his only son and the girl who was with him.

Though Michael had never been able to live up to his father’s expectations and they rarely spoke these days, it didn’t change the fact they were blood. His father would pay the ransom demand and Pia would be part of the bargain—Michael wasn’t leaving without her.

“They’ve probably sent word by now,” he said. “They’ll want to be paid in cash. It might take my father a while to get the money together and get it down here.”

And his sister would be looking for them, he was sure of that. He hadn’t called her in days, as she had made him promise to do. Harper would know something was wrong and she would be doing her best to find him.

THE CONSPIRACY
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To CELEBRATE the release of THE CONSPIRACY, enter Kat’s new contest for a chance to win a KINDLE FIRE 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB and a Kindle copy of INTO THE FURYINTO THE WHIRLWIND and INTO THE FIRESTORM. Contest runs from Jan 1, 2019 through Feb 28, 2019.  

SPECIAL CONTEST: https://www.katmartin.com/the-conspiracy-giveaway/

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Other books by Kat Martin:

BEYOND CONTROL

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BEYOND CONTROL

BEYOND DANGER

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BEYOND DANGER

BEYOND REASON

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BEYOND REASON

COME MIDNIGHT

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COME MIDNIGHT

PIVOT

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PIVOT

SHADOWS AT DAWN

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SHADOWS AT DAWN

THE PERFECT MURDER

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THE PERFECT MURDER

THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL

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THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL

THE CONSPIRACY

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THE CONSPIRACY

THE DECEPTION

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THE DECEPTION

WAIT UNTIL DARK

Buy now!
WAIT UNTIL DARK

THE LAST GOODNIGHT

Buy now!
THE LAST GOODNIGHT

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