What Do Baby Dragons Play With – Dragon’s Fire by Emily Martha Sorensen @CleanYAFantasy

Dragon’s Fire by Emily Martha Sorensen is novella #4 in the ongoing story of Virgil, her baby dragon.

I have never read anything like it and am loving every minute of it.

Cover:  Eva Urbanikova

Peekaboo, I see you.

Dragon's Fire (Dragon Eggs Book 4)

Amazon US  /  Amazon UK  /  Amazon CA  /  Goodreads

MY REVIEW

The Dragon Egg Series by Emily Martha Sorensen is like no dragon story you have ever read and I am loving it. So much fun and creative writing that makes me angry and makes me smile all at the same time.

Rose and Henry were chosen by Virgil. Their ‘arranged marriage’ may be a bit different, but it is working all the same.

Imagine if your child had telepathic powers, knows your thoughts…and you know theirs…for example, they are a predator, so you would see all their ancestors grisly and gory eating habits, along with everything else they did.

Virgil’s favorite toy is a bucket, whirling, spinning and bouncing off walls. I can’t help but laugh every time I picture it. Changing his diaper…no thanks.

When Rose finds out more eggs are hatching, she worries for their future.

We have all the political implications of an intelligent, but non human animal. Is a dragon to have the same rights as a human? Are they to be discriminated against?

I surely want to stay tuned for their ongoing adventure and watch Virgil grow up.

I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of Dragon’s Fire by Emily Martha Sorensen.

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos 4 Stars

GOODREADS BLURB

When Rose decided to correct an arrogant woman about her wrongheaded belief that dragons were not intelligent, it resulted in an expected complication: now that woman wants a dragon egg of her own.

Hearing the news that two new eggs have awakened, Rose rushes with her dragon son to the museum in hopes of preventing such a catastrophe.

A 14,000 word G-rated new adult fantasy.

Emily Martha Sorensen

ABOUT EMILY MARTHA SORENSEN

Emily is a prolific writer with many titles to choose from. She writes of fairies, dragons, fantasy, science fiction, steampunk, world peach in short stories and flash fiction.

You can find her on Goodreads & Amazon

MY REVIEWS FOR EMILY MARTHA SORENSEN

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Her Sister is Taken in Forever Alexa by Cate Beauman @CateBeauman

I am so excited to be back with Cate Beauman and Forever Alexa, Book Four of The Bodyguards of L A County Series.

Each book will stand alone, and if you are into Romantic Suspense, this is a series you will want on your reading list.

Forever Alexa (The Bodyguards Of L.A. County, #4)

Goodreads  /  Amazon US  /  Amazon UK  /  Amazon CA

MY REVIEW

Forever Alexa by Cate Beauman is a knock your socks off, tighten your seatbelt ride.

Right off the bat, I know something bad is going to happen to Alexa and I hate it for her. Who will help her when the cops fail? Ethan Security and a lost love.

In typical Romantic Suspense fashion, Alexa has to get herself front and center…deep in trouble, unable and unwilling to wait for someone else to do the dirty work. Even though I know the scenario well, because this is my favorite reading, I gasp, cringe and want to reach through the glass of my Kindle, grab her by the arm and hold her back., yelling, telling her it’s too damn dangerous.

I hate that women are weaker than men, but unless we have special skills or super powers, we are at the monsters mercy.

When do you know the risk is too great? When do you know it’s time to stop and move on? When we have the answers. I would want Alexa at my side in times of trouble, that’s for sure.

I do become frustrated with the back and forth, seesawing, of romantic suspense relationships, but that is the nature of the beast.

The point of view shifts from one character’s perspective to another, from Alexa’s to Jackson’s. And I do love the characters. A woman with the strength to do what needs to be done, not waiting for someone else to do it. A man that dares to show emotion, learning that it is not a weakness but a strength.

I am on pins and needles, waiting, feeling like more bad is coming their way on each and every page. I have an overwhelming sense of danger…I get Alexa’s motivation, but damn…frying pan to fire.

I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of Forever Alexa by Cate Beauman

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos  5 Stars

GOODREADS BLURB

First grade teacher and single mother Alexa Harris is no stranger to struggle, but for once, things are looking up. The school year is over and the lazy days of summer are here. Mini-vacations and relaxing twilight barbeques are on the horizon until Alexa’s free-spirited younger sister vanishes.

Ransom calls and death threats force Alexa and her young daughter to flee their quiet home in Maryland. With nowhere else to turn, Alexa seeks the help of Jackson Matthews, Ethan Cooke Security’s Risk Assessment Specialist and the man who broke her heart.

With few leads to follow and Abby’s case going cold, Alexa must confess a shocking secret if she and Jackson have any hope of saving her sister from a hell neither could have imagined.

ABOUT CATE BEAUMAN

 
International bestselling author Cate Beauman is known for her full-length, action-packed romantic suspense series, The Bodyguards of L.A. County. Her novels have been nominated for the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, National Indie Excellence Award, Golden Quill Award, Writers Touch Award, and have been named Readers Favorite Five Star books. In 2015, JUSTICE FOR ABBY was selected as the Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Gold Medalist, while SAVING SOPHIE took the Silver Medal. SAVING SOPHIE was also selected as the 2015 Readers Crown Award winner for Romantic Suspense and FALLING FOR SARAH received the silver medal for the 2014 Readers’ Favorite Awards.

Cate makes her home in North Carolina with her husband, two boys, and their St. Bernards, Bear and Jack. Currently Cate is working on Deceiving Bella, the eleventh novel in her popular Bodyguards series.

For information on Cate’s new releases, monthly giveaways, and upcoming events, sign up for her newsletter at: http://www.catebeauman.com/author/home.html#!newsletter-sign-up/c9td

Contact Cate:  Amazon Author Page  /  BookBub

Social links:  Twitter  /  Website  /  Facebook  /  Goodreads  /  Instagram

MY REVIEWS FOR CATE BEAUMAN

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Review – The Skin Room by Morgan Fleetwood #MorganFleetwood

The Skin Room by Morgan Fleetwood

The Skin Room

Amazon  /  Goodreads

MY REVIEW

This is not my usual brand of high action and suspense. It is written as if they are face to face – murderer to investigator – and Alex Melville is proud of his despicable actions, wanting to share.

Up until the cave, his kidnap attempts are almost comical. His ineptness and bad luck will surely get him caught. I try not to laugh (sarcasm) when bad things happen to him.

I sometimes felt I was sitting with him…listening.

I am not even halfway through and the verdict is still out. Is it good? Great? All I know is he has captured me too, and I know I won’t get away until the final page is read.

When his motivation is finally revealed and his last confession written, it truly made my skin crawl. The evil is slow, insidious, gets under my skin, and erasing his existence can’t happen soon enough.

I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of The Skin Room by Morgan Fleetwood.

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos  3 Stars

GOODREADS BLURB

The Last Confession of Morten Flygare is an unnerving suspense thriller narrated by Morten Flygare – multi-lingual translator and multiple murderer. The blood-stained document that comprises the narrative of the novel is his claustrophobic, unreliable account of the murder of Valentina, and the incarceration and death of his drug-addicted sister, Sonia. This is no ordinary confession, however. In a unique and distinctive style, Morten gradually reveals his secret: this story has only one reader, the police inspector he holds responsible for his beloved sister’s death, and that while he writes in the flickering candlelight, he has one last grotesque secret to share that is his ultimate revenge. The Last Confession of Morten Flygare is a ‘whydunnit’ with a twist.

 

  • You can see my Giveaways HERE.
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Giveaway & Review – Dark Harvest by Chris Patchell @chris_patchell @partnersincr1me

Dark Harvest by Chris Patchell Tour Banner

Dark Harvest

by Chris Patchell

on Tour August 1-31, 2017

MY REVIEW

Dark Harvest is an appropriate title for this bone chilling thriller. Think about it…

As soon as I opened the book, I felt sad for Becky and what’s about to happen to her. I’m not sure exactly what it will be, but I know it won’t be good. And I was right. It was worse than bad.

Marissa and Seth hooked up after rescuing Brooke, her daughter from a kidnapper in Book I, Into The Dark. It is not necessary to read Into The Dark first, but if this is your first foray into Chris Patchell’s work, why not?

Brooke and Marissa’s story picks up from Book I, but I will leave that for you to discover for yourself.

Seth & Brooke are flawed, damaged, carrying sad terrible baggage, doing the best they can as they struggle to bring their lives into some kind of balance. You don’t know what you would do in their situation until you walk a mile in their shoes, so don’t judge them too harshly.

Seth and Marissa work at the Holt Foundation, helping victims of crime when the police seem to be unable or unwilling to follow it through to the end.

Now, they are teaming up to investigate the disappearance of a very pregnant Becky. Of course, they’ll look at her boyfriend first. He’s got problems and secrets and I aim to learn them too.

We have a narcissistic self serving doctor…bury him under the jail.

Tory, is so damaged, desperate. I don’t know how to feel about her sometimes. Why do women fall into these love traps?

Human trafficking is terrible all by itself, but this goes to another extreme. And harvesting, I can see that escalating in a horrific manner as those with selfish agendas so easily cast others aside for their own agenda.

I love these dark and horrible suspense novels that have my emotions raging and running the gamut. Frustration, anger, sadness, empathy…The more I read, the more I can’t wait until the villains are discovered and whatever happens to them can never be enough.

On page 214 and…

I don’t want to go on, yet I can hardly wait. A race to the finish because nothing is going to stop me from knowing how this will end. I know good, bad, and horrible, terrifying things are coming. How it will play out, I don’t know and it’s the journey, as much as the end, that keeps me going. I am amazed how Chris Patchell, and all the other authors who write such fabulous novels, are able to weave a story together, adding this mystery, that horror, culminating in a tale that grab me from beginning to end.

Political and ethical questions come to mind, but that’s the great thing about fiction. It gets you thinking, questioning, pushing the envelope, because all things are possible.

I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of Dark Harvest by Chris Patchell.

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos 4 Stars

Synopsis:

Dark Harvest by Chris Patchell

Becky Kincaid ventures out in the middle of a snowstorm to buy a car seat for her unborn baby and never makes it home. When a second pregnant woman disappears, Marissa Rooney and the team at the Holt Foundation fear a sinister motive lurks behind the crimes.

Lead investigator, Seth Crawford, desperately searches for the thread that binds the two cases together, knowing that if he fails, another woman will soon be gone. While Seth hunts for clues, a madman has Marissa in his sights and she carries a secret that could tear her whole world apart.

Can Seth stop the killer before he reaps his dark harvest.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense
Published by: Kindle Press
Publication Date: May 30th 2017
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 1546428445
Series: A Holt Foundation Story, Book 2
Purchase Links: Amazon  US🔗 | Amazon UKKindle Unlimited 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

A sharp pain jabbed Rebecca Kincaid’s side, and she sucked in a breath. Her hand fell to the hard swell of her belly, rubbing gently. Round ligament pain, she figured, just one of the many joys of being pregnant.

“Chillax, kiddo,” she said to the baby dancing inside her as the pain subsided.

Smiling to herself, she glanced around to see if anyone else was close enough to hear. Some people called you crazy for talking to yourself in public. She caught the eye of a redhead standing beside a stack of Diaper Genies. Dressed in blue jeans and a red flannel coat, the woman smiled. She looked to be in her mid-twenties, older than Becky, but not as old as some of the women in her prenatal classes. The woman’s gaze strayed to the strained buttons around Becky’s baby bump.

“When are you due?”

“Two more weeks and counting.” She grimaced. Being this big, nothing was comfortable. Her back ached, her hips hurt, and even sleeping was hard.

The woman smiled sympathetically. “I know, right? I felt the same way when I was pregnant, like I was Sigourney Weaver in that Alien movie with a little monster just dying to get out.”

“I know what you mean,” Becky said, breaking eye contact.

Truthfully, she hated that movie. Violent and gory. Comparing a baby to a bloodthirsty alien tearing its way out of its mother’s womb, well, that was kind of sick. She was much more of a romantic-comedy kind of girl.

“I have a toddler at home,” the woman said. “Seems like just yesterday I was in maternity clothes, though.”

Becky faked a laugh and turned down an aisle, away from the stranger.

She parked the cart and ran her hand over the Chicco car seat sitting center shelf. She didn’t need her mother to tell her it cost too much. Most of her baby stuff she’d picked up at the Salvation Army store or had gotten handed down from the women at work, but Becky knew that car seats were one of those things you had to buy new. On her waitressing salary, the best she could afford was the cheapest one on the rack. And even that was pricey.

The doctor said that most first babies came late, but in the last day or two, she’d had a few contractions. Fake contractions, the nurse said. Whatever they were, they freaked her out. She knew she wouldn’t be able to bring the baby home from the hospital without a car seat, so here she was, shopping in the middle of a freak snowstorm. If her mother knew that she was out on a night like tonight, she’d have a fit.

Becky fingered her necklace, grabbed the white-gold heart, and ran it along the chain as she searched the shelves for something more affordable. Of course, the one she wanted was up on the top shelf, well out of reach. She scanned the area looking for a box stowed a bit lower. There were none.

Becky sighed and glanced down the aisle. Didn’t anyone work in this store?

Where was Nathan when she needed him? All six foot three of him could have reached up and grabbed the box off the shelf with no problem at all, but at five foot two, almost as wide as she was tall these days, it was hopeless.
Frowning, she stepped on the bottom shelf and stretched high, wiggling her fingertips in a desperate bid to tip the box toward her. The metal shelf groaned under her weight. It shifted suddenly, and Becky’s stomach lurched. Thrown off balance, she careened backward, hands flailing wildly as she grasped for something—anything to stop her fall. Nothing but air.

Oh God. The baby.

Strong hands gripped her coat, catching her inches from the floor. Heart racing, Becky closed her eyes and regained her footing. Her hands flew to her belly. The baby kicked her hard, as if chastising her for being so careless.

“Careful, honey. You don’t want to fall in your condition,” a woman said. It was the redhead again. “Let me get that.”

Becky bit her lip and stared at the damned box. Why didn’t they put the boxes lower where pregnant moms could reach? It was probably some stupid marketing trick to get you to buy the most expensive ones. They were at eye level.

“Maybe we should find a clerk,” Becky said. “I’m not sure you should be climbing up there either.”

“If we wait for someone else to come along, we’ll both die of old age. Besides, we gals have got to help each other out.”

The redhead winked. Stepping onto the warped bottom shelf, she reached high overhead and slid the baby seat from its perch. Climbing back down, she turned and dropped the box safely into Becky’s cart.

“There,” she said, clapping the dust from her hands with a satisfied smile.

“Thanks,” Becky said. “If my boyfriend were here . . .” She trailed off, irritation rippling through her. Why was it that she was the only one responsible for all of this baby stuff? She hadn’t gotten pregnant by herself.

The redhead’s eyes narrowed.

“Where is the baby daddy? Shouldn’t he be helping you with this?”

“He’s out with his friends. He’ll be home soon, though.”

Becky blushed and turned away. Why was she lying to a perfect stranger? Nathan wouldn’t be home soon. In fact, she didn’t know when she would see him again. For her, home was a dreary little basement apartment that she could barely afford, while he lived in a sprawling frat house minutes away from the University of Washington campus. She had only been there once. The night she had gotten pregnant.

The last three dozen texts she sent him went unanswered. He ignored her baby updates. She’d even sent him images from the ultrasound.

But he’d never responded. He didn’t answer her calls. She might as well not exist. Pregnant and alone, she was an eighteen-year-old walking cliché. And what was worse, her mother had been totally right about Nathan, not that Becky had any intention of admitting it.

Becky’s shoulders slumped. A painful lump formed in her throat, and she rubbed her belly.

“Men are pigs, honey,” the redhead said, patting Becky’s shoulder. “The sooner you learn that lesson, the easier your life is going to be.”

Even though Nathan was ignoring her, Becky still held a sliver of hope deep in her heart that once the baby was born, he’d come around. Once he held his son, looked down into his beautiful face, everything would change.

Becky sniffed and dabbed her nose on her sleeve. She could hope.

“Do you have someone who can help you carry the baby seat to your car? It’s slippery out there. You almost fell once today; you don’t want to risk that baby again.”

The woman reached out and patted her baby bump. Becky recoiled, startled by the presumption of the stranger’s touch.

“Sorry,” the woman said, curling her fingers into a fist. “Force of habit.”

Becky grasped the handle of the shopping cart and steered it down the narrow aisle.

“Thanks for your help but I can manage,” she called over her shoulder. In her haste to escape the awkward situation, the front wheels slammed into a shelf. The cart shuddered, and Becky’s belly ran up against the handle. She gasped, pain shooting through her.

“You okay?”

The bright flash of pain subsided. Cheeks burning, Becky waved her hand and kept going, wanting to distance herself from the woman. She’d already embarrassed herself enough for one night. Besides, it was late, and her back was killing her. All she wanted to do was go home and stretch out on the couch, maybe catch an episode of The New Girl before she fell asleep.

Waiting at the register, she looked at all the baby things crammed on the shelves. They were so sweet. Stuffed bunnies with long, floppy ears; burp cloths; and pacifiers.

Her belly tensed. The baby kicked like he knew he was going to be born into a life of hand-me-downs. A fake contraction rippled through her, and she released a short breath. At least she thought it was fake. She wasn’t ready for the real kind yet.

Unable to stop herself, Becky picked a stuffed bunny off the shelf. Raising it to her face, she ran its baby-soft fur across the bridge of her nose. It smelled powdery fresh and reminded her of her favorite stuffed animal from when she was a kid. A potbellied bear with a matted brown coat and a large blue nose. She’d loved that bear. Took it with her on every trip. Slept with it every night for far longer than she cared to admit. Her mom had restuffed that bear at least three times that she could recall.

She felt a pang thinking about her mom. They hadn’t spoken for five months now, ever since that terrible fight they’d had about Nathan. And the abortion her mother thought Becky should have.

She couldn’t kill her baby.

“Ma’am?” the clerk called to her. She looked up. The couple in front of her was gone, and the line had cleared. She was next.

“The bunny?” The clerk held out her hand for the stuffed animal. Becky shook her head and forced a smile. The bunny was a luxury she couldn’t afford. Squeezing the downy soft tummy one last time, she set the stuffed animal back on the shelf.

“Just the car seat,” she said, digging for her wallet. Paying cash for her purchase, she left the store.

Thick flakes of snow shone under the streetlights and swirled around her in the frigid wind. A blanket of white covered the icy parking lot.

Becky pressed the trunk button on the remote. Some asshole had parked his black van right next to her. With the whole empty parking lot to choose from, why would he park so close?

Shit luck, she supposed, the only kind she seemed to have these days.

The wheels on Becky’s cart rattled on the chunky snow and ice. She slipped. Catching herself, she kept going. On a grim night like this, most smart people stayed home.

Snowflakes caught in her eyelashes, and others brushed her cheeks like icy angel kisses. Becky stowed the car seat in the trunk. The nearest cart caddy was a football field away. Okay. She probably shouldn’t abandon the cart, but screw it. She was tired, pregnant, and it was damned cold out here. No one would blame her. She launched her cart through the empty parking lot. It ground to a halt the next row over.

Shivering as the damp night air wrapped around her and the snowflakes melted in her hair, Becky rounded the side of the car and glared at the van. He’d left her eighteen inches of space. How the hell was she supposed to open her door wide enough to crawl into the driver’s seat? It would have been difficult even if she had been her normal size, but in her current condition, it was impossible.

But what choice did she have? Wait out here until the asshole showed up and moved his ratty van? With the way her luck was going, it probably belonged to some kid who worked in the store and wouldn’t be off for hours yet. She could try the passenger’s side, but crawling over the gearshift and the console between the seats in her condition . . .

Becky sighed. Feeling dumb and desperate, she dialed Nathan’s number. His picture flashed on her phone. He had a handsome face with blue eyes and a smattering of light-brown freckles. She waited. One ring. Two. Five. The call went through to voicemail the way it always did. Becky’s stomach heaved, and she pocketed the phone.

Glancing up, she eyed the van and set her jaw.

She could do this.

Easing her way between the two vehicles, her swollen belly smearing the dirty side of the van, she waddled toward the driver’s door. The side mirrors of the vehicles almost touched.

Behind her, she heard the crunch of shoes on snow. Becky’s breath caught.

She spun, her belly scraping the passenger’s door as she looked behind her.

The redhead from the store smiled.

“God, you scared me.” Becky slapped a hand over her racing heart as adrenaline shot through her system at warp speed. The baby must have felt it too. He twisted and squirmed inside her.

“Sorry. I would have called out, but I didn’t know your name.”

“Becky,” she said, still gripping the keys tight in her hand. She drew in a couple of cleansing breaths.

“I think you dropped this.”

The woman held something out in front of her. It was the stuffed animal from the store—the snow-white bunny with floppy ears. Becky frowned and shook her head.

“It’s not mine. I . . .”

She was so focused on the rabbit that she didn’t hear the grinding sound of the van’s door open until it was too late. Large gloved hands clamped onto her shoulders and heaved her inside. She landed on her belly. A bright bolt of pain ripped through her. The air rushed from her lungs.

The front door slammed closed. The engine roared to life. Becky screamed. A stabbing pain, like the sharp pinch of broken glass, burned at the base of her neck. She tried to push the man away, but he pinned her hands.

“Let’s go,” he said.

The van rumbled out of the parking lot. A right turn, then a left.

Becky screamed again. Her vision narrowed, a black tunnel growing wide around the edges. Her eyelids drooped, heavy as lead, until they fluttered closed.

***

Excerpt from Dark Harvest by Chris Patchell. Copyright © 2017 by Chris Patchell. Reproduced with permission from Chris Patchell. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Chris Patchell

 

Chris Patchell is the bestselling author of In the Dark and the Indie Reader Discovery Award winning novel Deadly Lies. Having recently left her long-time career in tech to pursue her passion for writing full-time, Chris pens gritty suspense novels set in the Pacific Northwest, where she lives with her family and two neurotic dogs.

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Chris Patchell. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card! The giveaway begins on August 1 and runs through September 3, 2017.

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Giveaway & Review – The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter @SlaughterKarin @partnersincr1me

The Good Daughter

by Karin Slaughter

on Tour August 7 – September 8, 2017

Synopsis:

MY REVIEW

NO. NO. NO. The girls…

Secrets do not stay buried. The past catches up with you.

Twenty eight years later and the memories of the past are brought back to Charlotte. Charlie is a pit bull. She doesn’t run from danger…she runs toward it.

WOW Karin, from ones horror to another. People can turn into rabid dogs, unable or unwilling to control themselves. The bad guys…deserve to be buried under the jail, wiped off the face of the earth.

OMG. This book is terrifying. My mistrust of police officers is reinforced after reading this up close look at corruption in law.

The Good Daughter is a wickedly evil look into the human psyche and all its ugliness…Yet…some characters goodness will shine through.

I was so enraged in the first seventy pages…so into the book, that even though I went on a road trip and it wasn’t convenient to take notes, I couldn’t stop reading.

I laughed, I cried, I hated, and I loved.

I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter.

 Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos  5 Stars

MY KARIN SLAUGHTER REVIEWS

The stunning new novel from the international #1 bestselling author — a searing, spellbinding blend of cold-case thriller and psychological suspense.

Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…

Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy small-town family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father — Pikeville’s notorious defense attorney — devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer herself — the ideal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again — and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatized — Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it’s a case that unleashes the terrible memories she’s spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime that destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won’t stay buried forever…

Packed with twists and turns, brimming with emotion and heart, The Good Daughter is fiction at its most thrilling.

.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller, Suspense
Published by: William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Number of Pages: 528
ISBN: 0062430262 (ISBN13: 9780062430267)
Series: Good Daughter 1
Purchase Links: Amazon US🔗Amazon UK  l Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

Charlie Quinn walked through the darkened halls of Pikeville middle school with a gnawing sense of trepidation. This wasn’t an early morning walk of shame. This was a walk of deeply held regret. Fitting, since the first time she’d had sex with a boy she shouldn’t have had sex with was inside this very building. The gymnasium, to be exact, which just went to show that her father had been right about the perils of a late curfew.

She gripped the cell phone in her hand as she turned a corner. The wrong boy. The wrong man. The wrong phone. The wrong way because she didn’t know where the hell she was going. Charlie turned around and retraced her steps. Everything in this stupid building looked familiar, but nothing was where she remembered it was supposed to be.

She took a left and found herself standing outside the front office. Empty chairs were waiting for the bad students who would be sent to the principal. The plastic seats looked similar to the ones in which Charlie had whiled away her early years. Talking back. Mouthing off. Arguing with teachers, fellow students, inanimate objects. Her adult self would’ve slapped her teenage self for being such a pain in the ass.

She cupped her hand to the window and peered inside the dark office. Finally, something that looked how it was supposed to look. The high counter where Mrs. Jenkins, the school secretary, had held court. Pennants drooping from the water-stained ceiling. Student artwork taped to the walls. A lone light was on in the back. Charlie wasn’t about to ask Principal Pinkman for directions to her booty call. Not that this was a booty call. It was more of a “Hey, girl, you picked up the wrong iPhone after I nailed you in my truck at Shady Ray’s last night” call.

There was no point in Charlie asking herself what she had been thinking, because you didn’t go to a bar named Shady Ray’s to think.

The phone in her hand rang. Charlie saw the unfamiliar screen saver of a German shepherd with a Kong toy in its mouth. The caller ID read SCHOOL.

She answered, “Yes?”

“Where are you?” He sounded tense, and she thought of all the hidden dangers that came from screwing a stranger she’d met in a bar: incurable venereal diseases, a jealous wife, a murderous baby mama, an obnoxious Alabama affiliation.

She said, “I’m in front of Pink’s office.”

“Turn around and take your second right.”

“Yep.” Charlie ended the call. She felt herself wanting to puzzle out his tone of voice, but then she told herself that it didn’t matter because she was never going to see him again.

She walked back the way she’d come, her sneakers squeaking on the waxed floor as she made her way down the dark hallway. She heard a snap behind her. The lights had come on in the front office. A hunched old woman who looked suspiciously like the ghost of Mrs. Jenkins shuffled her way behind the counter. Somewhere in the distance, heavy metal doors opened and closed. The beep-whir of the metal detectors swirled into her ears. Someone jangled a set of keys.

The air seemed to contract with each new sound, as if the school was bracing itself for the morning onslaught. Charlie looked at the large clock on the wall. If the schedule was still the same, the first homeroom bell would ring soon, and the kids who had been dropped off early and warehoused in the cafeteria would flood the building.

Charlie had been one of those kids. For a long time, whenever she thought of her father, her mind conjured up the scene of his arm leaning out of the Chevette’s window, freshly lit cigarette between his fingers, as he pulled out of the school parking lot.

She stopped walking.

The room numbers finally caught her attention, and she knew immediately where she was. Charlie touched her fingers to a closed wooden door. Room three, her safe haven. Ms. Beavers had retired eons ago, but the old woman’s voice echoed in Charlie’s ears: “They’ll only get your goat if you show them where you keep your hay.”

Charlie still didn’t know what that meant, exactly. You could extrapolate that it had something to do with the extended Culpepper clan, who had bullied Charlie relentlessly when she’d finally returned to school.

Or, you could take it that, as a girls’ basketball coach named Etta Beavers, the teacher knew what it felt like to be taunted. There was no one who could give Charlie advice on how to handle the present situation. For the first time since college, she’d had a one-night stand. Or a one-night sit, if it boiled down to the exact position. Charlie wasn’t the type of person who did that sort of thing. She didn’t go to bars. She didn’t drink to excess. She didn’t really make hugely regrettable mistakes. At least not until recently.

Her life had started to unspool back in August of last year. Charlie had spent almost every waking hour since then raveling out mistake after mistake. Apparently, the new month of May was not going to see any improvement. The blunders were now starting before she even got out of bed. This morning, she’d been wide awake on her back, staring up at the ceiling, trying to convince herself that what had happened last night had not happened at all when an unfamiliar ringtone had come from her purse.

She had answered because wrapping the phone in aluminum foil, throwing it into the dumpster behind her office and buying a new phone that would restore from her old phone backup did not occur to her until after she had said hello.

The short conversation that followed was of the kind you would expect between two total strangers: Hello, person whose name I must have asked for but now can’t recall. I believe I have your phone.

Charlie had offered to meet the man at his work because she didn’t want him to know where she lived. Or worked. Or what kind of car she drove. Between his pickup truck and his admittedly exquisite body, she’d thought he’d tell her he was a mechanic or a farmer. Then he’d said that he was a teacher and she’d instantly flashed up a Dead Poets Society kind of thing. Then he’d said he taught middle school and she’d jumped to the unfounded conclusion that he was a pedophile.

“Here.” He stood outside an open door at the far end of the hall.

As if on cue, the overhead fluorescents popped on, bathing Charlie in the most unflattering light possible. She instantly regretted her choice of ratty jeans and a faded, long-sleeved Duke Blue Devils basketball T-shirt.

“Good Lord God,” Charlie muttered. No such problems at the end of the hall.

Mr. I-Can’t-Remember-Your-Name was even more attractive than she remembered. The standard button-down-with-khakis uniform of a middle-school teacher couldn’t hide the fact that he had muscles in places that men in their forties had generally replaced with beer and fried meat. His scraggly beard was more of a five o’clock shadow. The gray at his temples gave him a wizened air of mystery. He had one of those dimples in his chin that you could use to open a bottle.

This was not the type of man Charlie dated. This was the exact type of man that she studiously avoided. He felt too coiled, too strong, too unknowable. It was like playing with a loaded gun.

“This is me.” He pointed to the bulletin board outside his room. Small handprints were traced onto white butcher paper. Purple cut-out letters read MR. HUCKLEBERRY.

“Huckleberry?” Charlie asked.

“It’s Huckabee, actually.” He held out his hand. “Huck.”

Charlie shook his hand, too late realizing that he was asking for his iPhone. “Sorry.” She handed him the phone.

He gave her a crooked smile that had probably sent many a young girl into puberty. “Yours is in here.”

Charlie followed him into the classroom. The walls were adorned with maps, which made sense because he was apparently a history teacher. At least if you believed the sign that said MR. HUCKLEBERRY LOVES WORLD HISTORY.

She said, “I may be a little sketchy on last night, but I thought you said you were a Marine?”

“Not anymore, but it sounds sexier than middle-school teacher.”He gave a self-deprecating laugh. “Joined up when I was seventeen, took my retirement six years ago.” He leaned against his desk. “I was looking for a way to keep serving, so I got my master’s on a GI bill and here we are.”

“I bet you get a lot of tear-stained cards on Valentine’s Day.” Charlie would’ve failed history every single day of her life if her teacher had looked like Mr. Huckleberry.

He asked, “Do you have kids?”

“Not that I know of.” Charlie didn’t return the question. She assumed that someone with kids wouldn’t use a photo of his dog as his screen saver. “You married?”

He shook his head. “Didn’t suit me.”

“It suited me.” She explained, “We’ve been officially separated for nine months.”

“Did you cheat on him?”

“You’d think so, but no.” Charlie ran her finger along the books on the shelf by his desk. Homer. Euripides. Voltaire. Bronte. “You don’t strike me as the Wuthering Heights type.”

He grinned. “Not much talking in the truck.”

Charlie started to return the grin, but regret pulled down the corners of her mouth. In some ways, this easy, flirty banter felt like more of a transgression than the physical act of sex. She bantered with her husband. She asked inane questions of her husband.

And last night, for the first time in her married life, she had cheated on her husband.

Huck seemed to sense her mood shift. “It’s obviously none of my business, but he’s nuts for letting you go.”

“I’m a lot of work.” Charlie studied one of the maps. There were blue pins in most of Europe and some of the Middle East. “You go to all of these places?”

He nodded, but didn’t elaborate.

“Marines,” she said. “Were you a Navy SEAL?”

“Marines can be SEALs but not all SEALs are Marines.”

Charlie was about to tell him that he hadn’t answered the question, but Huck spoke first.

“Your phone started ringing at o’dark thirty.”

Her heart flipped in her chest. “You didn’t answer?”

“Nah, it’s much more fun trying to figure you out from your caller ID.” He pushed himself up on the desk. “B2 called around five this morning. I’m assuming that’s your hook-up at the vitamin shop.”

Charlie’s heart flipped again. “That’s Riboflavin, my spin-class instructor.”

He narrowed his eyes, but he didn’t push her. “The next call came at approximately five fifteen, someone who showed up as Daddy, who I deduce by the lack of the word sugar in front of the name is your father.”

She nodded, even as her mother’s voice silently stressed that it was whom. “Any other clues?” He pretended to stroke a long beard. “Beginning around five thirty, you got a series of calls from the county jail. At least six, spaced out about five minutes apart.”

“You got me, Nancy Drew.” Charlie held up her hands in surrender. “I’m a drug trafficker. Some of my mules got picked up over the weekend.”

He laughed. “I’m halfway believing you.”

“I’m a defense lawyer,” she admitted. “Usually people are more receptive to drug trafficker.”

Huck stopped laughing. His eyes narrowed again, but the playfulness had evaporated. “What’s your name?”

“Charlie Quinn.”

She could’ve sworn he flinched.

She asked, “Is there a problem?”

His jaw was clenched so hard the bone jutted out. “That’s not the name on your credit card.”

Charlie paused, because there was a lot wrong with that statement. “That’s my married name. Why were you looking at my credit card?”

“I wasn’t looking. I glanced at it when you put it down on the bar.” He stood up from the desk. “I should get ready for school.”

“Was it something I said?” She was trying to make a joke out of it, because of course it was something she’d said. “Look everybody hates lawyers until they need one.”

“I grew up in Pikeville.”

“You’re saying that like it’s an explanation.”

He opened and closed the desk drawers. “Homeroom’s about to start. I need to do my first-period prep.”

Charlie crossed her arms. This wasn’t the first time she’d had this conversation with longtime Pikeville residents. “There’s two reasons for you to be acting like you’re acting.”

He ignored her, opening and closing another drawer.

She counted out the possibilities on her fingers. “Either you hate my father, which is okay, because a lot of people hate him, or—” She held up her finger for the more likely excuse, the one that had put a target on Charlie’s back twenty-eight years ago when she’d returned to school, the one that still got her nasty looks in town from the people who supported the extended, inbred Culpepper clan. “You think I’m a spoiled little bitch who helped frame Zachariah Culpepper and his innocent baby brother so my dad could get his hands on some pissant life insurance policy and their shitty little trailer. Which he never did, by the way. He could’ve sued them for the twenty grand they owed in legal bills, but he didn’t. Not to mention I could pick those fuckers out of a lineup with my eyes closed.”

He was shaking his head before she even finished. “None of those things.”

“Really?” She had pegged him for a Culpepper truther when he’d told her that he’d grown up in Pikeville.

On the other hand, Charlie could see a career-Marine hating Rusty’s kind of lawyering right up until that Marine got caught with a little too much Oxy or a lot too much hooker. As her father always said, a Democrat is a Republican who’s been through the criminal justice system.

She told Huck, “Look, I love my dad, but I don’t practice the same kind of law that he does. Half my caseload is in juvenile court, the other half is in drug court. I work with stupid people who do stupid things, who need a lawyer to keep the prosecutor from overcharging them.” She held out her hands in a shrug. “I just level the playing field.”

Huck glared at her. His initial anger had escalated to furious in the blink of an eye. “I want you to leave my room. Right now.” His hard tone made Charlie take a step back. For the first time, it occurred to her that no one knew she was at the school and that Mr. Huckleberry could probably break her neck with one hand.

“Fine.” She snatched her phone off his desk and started toward the door. Even as Charlie was telling herself she should shut up and go, she swung back around. “What did my father ever do to you?”

Huck didn’t answer. He was sitting at his desk, head bent over a stack of papers, red ink pen in hand.

Charlie waited.

He tapped the pen on his desk, a drumbeat of a dismissal.

She was about to tell him where to stick the pen when she heard a loud crack echo down the hallway.

Three more cracks followed in quick succession.

Not a car backfiring.

Not fireworks.

A person who has been up close when a gun is fired into another human being never mistakes the sound of a gunshot for something else.

Charlie was yanked down to the floor. Huck threw her behind a filing cabinet, shielding her body with his own.

He said something—she saw his mouth move—but the only sound she could hear was the gunshots echoing inside her head. Four shots, each a distinctive, terrifying echo to the past. Just like before, her mouth went dry. Just like before, her heart stopped beating. Her throat closed. Her vision tunneled. Everything looked small, narrowed to a single, tiny point.

Excerpt from The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter. Copyright © 2017 by Karin Slaughter. Reproduced with permission from HarperCollins. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 36 languages, with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her sixteen novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated Cop Town and the instant New York Times bestselling novel Pretty Girls. A native of Georgia, Karin currently lives in Atlanta. Her Will Trent series, Grant County series, and standalone novel Cop Town are all in development for film and television.

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