Win the December ’19 bookshelf of signed thrillers!

December 1, 2019

Welcome to the December bookshelf of signed thrillers! I can’t believe how fast this year has gone. Last contest of 2019!!

This month the International Thriller Writers have provided some exciting new thrillers to help fill your bookshelf! Don’t forget to check back, additional titles may be added before the year ends. To enter: Win Books

Best of luck!

A SMALL TOWN by Thomas Perry: From the New York Times bestselling author Thomas Perry, “who can be depended upon to deliver high-voltage shocks” (Stephen King), comes a new thriller about an ingenuous jailbreak and the manhunt it unleashes

GOOD GIRLS LIE by J.T. Ellison: J.T. Ellison’s pulse-pounding new psychological thriller examines the tenuous bonds of friendship, the power of lies and the desperate lengths people will go to in order to protect their secrets. In a follow-up to Lie to Me and Tear Me Apart, a popular transfer student at an elite prep school races to protect a dangerous secret when a killer sets her up for a string of murders.

LIAR’S LEGACY by Taylor Stevens: They were born in the shadows. Schooled in espionage. Taught to kill and trained to disappear. In this captivating masterwork from bestselling author Taylor Stevens, elusive twins Jack and Jill take the global spy game to electric levels.

LOST TOMORROWS by Matt Coyle: The Rick Cahill Series, Book 6: Perfect for hard-boiled PI fans who like a tainted hero living by his own code!

ALL THAT’S BRIGHT AND GONE by Eliza Nellums: Fans of Jodi Picoult and Fredrik Backman will fall for this tenderhearted debut mystery following a young girl on a quest to save her family.

SHATTERED JUSTICE by Susan Furlong: A Bone Gap Travellers Novel, Book 3: In the Appalachian town of Bone Gap, Tennessee, backwoods justice is more than just blind. It’s swift, silent, and shockingly personal. Especially for Irish Traveller turned deputy sheriff Brynn Callahan.


 

You can win autographed copies of these books! If you are new to the site, each month I run a contest in conjunction with the International Thriller Writers organization. We put together a list of books from debut authors to bestsellers, so you can win some of your favorites and find some new favorites.

What makes this contest really special is that all of the books (except eBooks) are signed by the author! Books with multiple authors will be signed by at least one of the authors.

Penguin Random House books for giveaway were provided by the publisher. #PRHpartner

Don’t forget, if you subscribe to the newsletter or follow this blog, you get an extra entry into every contest you enter. Check out the Win Books page for more information on all these books and how you can enter this month’s contest.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!


THE BELLS OF HELL by Michael Kurland

December 9, 2019

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A Welker & Saboy Thriller, Book 1

“The Bells of Hell” is a novel set in New York City in 1938. It loosely is a story involving the IOS, which is a probable precursor of the OSS, in its own right the organization that became the CIA. War clouds were appearing all over Europe with Hitler turning Germany into a militarized police state. The emphasis by the fuhrer was to set up many groups – Jews, Gypsies, Catholics, Negros and others deemed non-Aryan as scapegoats to be ostracized by Germany as unworthy to be members of that society. In addition, Germany arranged a plebiscite in Austria to determine if that country would be willing to join in whatever aggressive activities were dictated to them by Hitler.

The situation in New York was that Nazi groups were openly working to push the United States into joining Germany in the war against their perceived enemies. They were also working to cast dispersions on any prominent members of the Jewish faith. Kurland is quite vocal in his writing critiquing J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for his stance at the time of the novel on seeing only communists as enemies of the U.S. German bund activities were not important to him.

As the story opens, Otto Lehman is arriving by ship from Germany and is kidnapped as he debarks and is killed. Andrew Blake, a homeless man, sees the murder and in being questioned indicates that the killers were speaking German. Consequently, Jacob Welker who was then president Franklin Roosevelt’s own counter-intelligence agent is brought to New York to question Blake. As a result of the talks, Welker recruits Andrew Blake as well as Lord Geoffrey Saboy, who is the cultural attache for Great Britain and his wife, Lady Patricia, to help him with investigating whatever the Nazis are planning, beginning with the murder of Otto Lehman.

The author’s style is light, a bit tongue-in-cheek, making the novel an interesting read. It is written well enough to recommend it’s reading although not nearly an all night draw. The characters drawn up with the beginnings of an organization such as the CIA in the background are interesting enough to certainly warrant looking for future novels by Michael Kurland.

12/19 Paul Lane

THE BELLS OF HELL by Michael Kurland. Severn House Publishers; First World Publication edition (December 3, 2019). ISBN 978-0727889690. 256p.

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A COWBOY UNDER THE MISTLETOE by Jessica Clare

December 8, 2019

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The Wyoming Cowboys Series, Book 3

From the publisher:

‘Tis the season for starting over for one military man turned cowboy in this new novel by the New York Times bestselling author of The Cowboy and His Baby.

Former Navy master-at-arms Jason Clements is down on his luck and calling in one last favor. His cousin has secured him a job opportunity as a cowboy working at Price Ranch in Wyoming. Too bad Jason has never even saddled a horse. If he can keep this job without his PTSD getting in the way, it’ll be a Christmas miracle.

Local busybody Sage Cooper loves Painted Barrel something fierce, but it’s time for her to move on. Since her father passed away, the family ranch feels too big for just her, and there’s no chance of finding a husband in this small town. To the rest of the world, she’s just another local fixture, known for her closet full of ugly Christmas sweaters and being perpetually single.

It isn’t until Jason shows up in desperate need of a cowboy crash course that Sage discovers a tall, dark, and handsome reason to stick around. And with the holidays coming up, Sage is in need of a date for a special event—maybe they’ll turn out to be each other’s best Christmas present.


This romance ticked a lot of boxes that I really like; damaged characters, small town, cowboys, and Christmas.

Sage has no self-esteem. Living in this small town, she’s had a long-standing crush on a man who is about to marry. Someone else. She lost her mom as an infant, and her dad fairly recently, leaving her alone on a big ranch in a big empty house. She has decided to sell the ranch in the spring, and move to a larger community, in hopes of meeting someone.

Jason suffers from PTSD, but his cousin landed him this job as a cowboy, of all things. He’s never even been on a horse, much less a ranch. Desperate for help, he wanders into what passes for a library in this small town, a few shelves of books and the town’s only employee, Sage. She ignores his symptoms and lends him a helping hand with a crash course in ranching. Sage has a calming effect on Jason, and a relationship begins.

This was a warm, holiday read filled with love and grace and hope. A wonderful holiday romance!

12/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A COWBOY UNDER THE MISTLETOE by Jessica Clare.  Berkley (October 15, 2019). ISBN 978-1984804006. 320p.

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DARK HOLLOWS by Steve Frech

December 7, 2019

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“Dark Hollows” is Steve Frech’s first published book. If this is the first book published I’m positive that his readers are in for long periods without a good night’s sleep as they enjoy his future novels and his skill in writing them. The book is a ghost story – but is it? Whatever it is it brings the reader to a truly surprise ending after going through many changes of opinion.

Jacob Reese is the owner of a successful coffee shop as well as a cottage in a small town in Vermont called The Hollows. He came there after experiencing the traumatic pain of watching his girlfriend die violently and wanting to change his life.

At the same time that his girlfriend dies, he lost both his parents, although the only good part of that was that they left him everything they had. This gave him the wherewithal to afford the move and set up his coffee shop and buy the cottage.

The cottage is in an excellent location with adjacent attractions and is easy to rent. Jacob can pick and choose the people he rents to and normally has the cottage occupied. Most people looking to rent supply references that can be checked out until one day he gets a call from a woman that wants to rent the cottage but doesn’t supply the normal information. Jacob makes the decision that he will rent to her and the lady indicates the day and time she wants to come. When she arrives Jacob sees her and gasping, is sure that the woman is Laura, his dead ex-girlfriend.

Suddenly Laura, if that who she is, is everywhere he goes even after she leaves the cottage. She has a scar on her face that Laura had, the same color hair and looks like her with the appearance of a girl that is a bit older than Laura looked at her death. Who or what is she, and what does she want at this period long after her death? The answers are found after a mesmerizing read and a good deal of coffee. A very well done novel be it the first published or the following books and the work of a gifted author.

12/19 Paul Lane

DARK HOLLOWS by Steve Frech. HQ Digital (December 6, 2019). ASIN: B07SC6GJQP. 384p.

Not available until February 20, 2020:

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MY FAKE RAKE by Eva Leigh

December 6, 2019

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Union of the Rakes Series, Book 1

From the publisher:

In the first book in Eva Leigh’s new Union of the Rakes series, a bluestocking enlists a faux suitor to help her land an ideal husband only to be blindsided by real desire…

Lady Grace Wyatt is content as a wallflower, focusing on scientific pursuits rather than the complications of society matches. But when a handsome, celebrated naturalist returns from abroad, Grace wishes, for once, to be noticed. Her solution: to “build” the perfect man, who will court her publicly and help her catch his eye. Grace’s colleague, anthropologist Sebastian Holloway, is just the blank slate she requires.

To further his own research on English society, Sebastian agrees to let Grace transform him from a bespectacled, bookish academic into a dashing—albeit fake—rake. Between secret lessons on how to be a rogue and exaggerated public flirtations, Grace’s feelings for Sebastian grow from friendship into undeniable, inconvenient, real attraction. If only she hadn’t asked him to help her marry someone else…

Sebastian is in love with brilliant, beautiful Grace, but their bargain is complete, and she desires another. Yet when he’s faced with losing her forever, Sebastian will do whatever it takes to tell her the truth, even if it means risking his own future—and his heart.


Leigh introduces a new series with a Quasimodo type plot. And it works!

Grace’s father is not well, and all he asks of her is to marry before he dies. The dutiful daughter is a scientist and has found most of the men on the marriage mart have little patience for a woman with a thought in her head. Ah, the good old days. Nevertheless, she has picked out a man she feels would make a suitable husband, as he is also a scientist and they have much in common. Unfortunately for her, he thinks of her as a colleague and pursues other women to find a bride.

Grace’s good friend Sebastian is talked into playing a rake, the theory being that once another man takes interest in her, her intended husband-to-be, will come running. Sebastian’s friend, the Duke, likes the idea and with his help, turns Sebastian into a rake, turning young ladies’ heads all over London. Including Grace.

You can tell what will happen next, and it is a fun read to see it all play out. I’m looking forward to the next book in this new series. This one was a terrific read

11/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

MY FAKE RAKE by Eva Leigh. Avon (November 26, 2019).  ISBN 978-0062932402. 384p.

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LOST TOMORROWS by Matt Coyle

December 5, 2019

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 The Rick Cahill Series, Book 6

Rick Cahill, who is Matt Coyle’s answer to Sam Spade and his brethren, as a hard-boiled, take no prisoners detective makes his sixth appearance in this novel.

Rick started out life as a member of the Santa Barbara, California police department and married Colleen, the woman he was in love with. Tragedy struck when Colleen was murdered and her body thrown on a beach with all marks burnt off her body. Rick was accused of being the killer, but released by the police when an alibi cleared him.

In the years since the murder, Colleen’s killer was never caught and unfortunately, popular opinion thought of Rick as the guilty party. He lost his job with the police and over time became a private detective during the years after the murder.

In this book, Rick has mentally sunk down far enough to just look for easy work as a process server. At a point where he has reached his lowest point, he receives a phone call from Leah Landingham who the sister of Krista who was Rick’s first partner when he joined the Santa Barbara police department. Leah gives him the bad news that Krista has been killed by a hit and run driver in the middle of the night at a location she should not have been in. Reluctantly, Rick goes to Krista’s funeral where Leah gets him to investigate her sister’s death since it did not look like any accident.

Rick accepts the assignment and falls into not only Krista’s death, but also the possibility that Colleen’s death is somewhat connected. The investigation brings to bear all of Matt Coyle’s ability to tell a fascinating story that just grabs the reader and forces him or her to continue reading until done. Each of the Rick Cahill books does stand on its own with only a few sentence recapitulation of the past events. This one is the same; mesmerizing and very well done.

12/19 Paul Lane

LOST TOMORROWS by Matt Coyle. Oceanview Publishing; None edition (December 3, 2019). ISBN 978-1608092451. 368p.

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JUST WATCH ME by Jeff Lindsay

December 4, 2019

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This author made his literary reputation with the creation of Dexter, a picaresque rogue who was also a serial killer. His mitigating feature was that he only killed other serial killers. Can Lindsay top that? Looks like he is giving it a good try with the first book of a new series.

This new novel features as the reverse hero, Riley Wolfe, who is a thief. Not an ordinary one, mind you, but a master thief that looks at very large possibilities not only to get the proceeds but for the adrenaline rush he gets from doing the seemingly impossible.

The novel picks up Riley coming off another successful theft and beginning to look for his next venture. After looking around at many possibilities he comes up with the idea of stealing a diamond held by the Iranian government. Of course not an ordinary run of the mill gem but one of a kind that is so well cut and so large that its value could approximate more than one billion dollars.

Riley realizes that the theft could not take place in Iran but by chance, the gem is part of a group of Iranian state jewels. These are being lent to a prestigious private museum in New York City for a temporary exhibit there. It will be guarded by a new state of the art alarm system plus a contingent of ex-special forces troops, augmented by a squad of Iranian Republican guards. The security will be around the clock as long as the jewels are being exhibited. This is the challenge that Riley decides to accept and moves ahead with plans in spite of the possibility that the jewels cannot be stolen.

Riley is aided by a lady named Monique, who in her own right is a master forger of paintings with her own reputation as the best in her field. In the probable planning of a series, it would appear quite likely that Monique will have her own niche. She is an object of Riley’s attention and will certainly figure as both an aid in the schemes as well his female interest. To round out the action a veteran FBI agent has made himself a master of obtaining the background and interests of Riley Wolfe and has made it his full-time job to chase him in order to put him in prison.

12/19 Paul Lane

JUST WATCH ME by Jeff Lindsay. Dutton (December 3, 2019). ISBN 978-1524743949. 368p.

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ANYONE by Charles Soule

December 3, 2019

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Soule brings us a very imaginative story about a development that literally changes the world, its customs, habits, and the very way people interact with each other.

Gabrielle White, a young inventor has been working on a cure for Alzheimer’s, apparently with no breakthrough, and is ready to expend the last of the funds given her to attempt one final test. She does so and miraculously finds herself transported into her husband’s body. Getting her husband to understand what has happened to them, the two invest all their own savings to try and duplicate the transfer. They succeed and initiate a new industry that changes everything as it takes hold.

Soule describes what happens and outlines what might really transpire if the transfer procedure would really be perfected. The level of human understanding would take a giant leap forward, airline, train, and auto travel would become less important with people going to other lands via host bodies rather than actually going there, and most significantly, the industry surrounding transfer would become the titan of the business world.

The novel shows the evolution of a black market as people clandestinely rent out their bodies as receptors without the required physical exam, and then later, not paying tax on the receipts. In addition, one man has figured out a way to gain eternal life via transferring continuously as he ages. Against the law, the story evolves with a woman’s fight to stop his actions and continue with an ordered procedure for the industry. Where her battle goes forms an important part of the story and puts a capstone on an excellent story, with excellent treatment by Charles Soule.

Note: Soon to be adapted for television by Carnival, creators of Downton Abbey

12/19 Paul Lane

ANYONE by Charles Soule. Harper Perennial (December 3, 2019). ISBN 978-0062890634. 432p.

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ALL FIRED UP by Lori Foster

December 2, 2019

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Road to Love, Book 3

From the publisher:

He’s tantalizing trouble she can’t resist…

Charlotte Parrish has always wanted a certain kind of man: someone responsible, settled, boring. Bad boys need not apply. But when her car leaves her stranded and a mysterious stranger with brooding eyes and a protective streak comes to her rescue, she can’t deny how drawn she is to him. In town searching for family he’s never met, Mitch is everything she never thought she wanted—and suddenly everything she craves.

Finding his half brothers after all these years is more than Mitch Crews has allowed himself to wish for. Finding love never even crossed his mind…until he meets Charlotte. She’s sweet, warmhearted, sexier than she knows—and too damn good for an ex-con like him. But when his past comes back to haunt him, putting Charlotte—and the family he’s come to care for—in danger, Mitch isn’t playing by the rules. He’s already surrendered his heart, but now he’ll risk his life.


Foster writes reliably good contemporary romances, and this is her latest entry into the Road to Love series. I really like this series, probably because I enjoy her writing style. Her characters are well defined and come to life on the page, and I couldn’t help but care about what happens to them. Her settings are vivid, and there is enough suspense to keep the pages turning. And the romance is sizzling! That probably explains the hundreds of five-star ratings this book has on Goodreads.

Mitch has had a very troubled past; drug addict mom, her dealer/boyfriend physically abused Mitch, and a father who came and went because he was married to someone else. Mitch loses his mom and ends up in jail, but this is no spoiler. The book starts as he has just gotten out of prison and has landed in town to meet the half brothers who don’t even know he exists. So right away I was drawn to this damaged character.

Charlotte is almost too good to be true. But every time I think she can’t be that nice – nobody is that nice –  she opens up her mouth and reveals she’s got some backbone, too. I couldn’t help but cheer this relationship on, despite all the hurdles they have to jump.

There is a bit of suspense because Mitch’s mom’s drug dealer boyfriend is after him, and he is a nasty piece of work. But the romance trumps all, just the way I like it.

Foster is a pro, and this book stands alone beautifully. If you prefer to read in order:

Driven to Distraction (Book 1)

Slow Ride (Book 2)

12/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

ALL FIRED UP by Lori Foster. HQN; Original edition (November 19, 2019). ISBN 978-1335505071. 384p.

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TASK FORCE BAUM by James D. Shipman

November 30, 2019

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The novel is a war story and a very good one. It has all the action, movement, and planning of other great war novels. One big exception is the fact that it is a true incident occurring in the month prior to the cessation of hostilities with Germany.

General George Patton commanding the troops in the area described makes a determination that his army is within striking distance of a POW internment camp. For reasons known only to him, Patton sends a small armored force to take the camp, free the prisoners and bring them back to the American side. The general is under the impression that the camp is a relatively small one holding about 300 prisoners and they can be liberated by sending a force of about 500 men with several tanks to work their way about 50 miles into German-held territory and accomplish the mission.

The captain commanding the force, Abraham Baum, tries to argue that it would be easier and faster to send a division size force with accompanying tanks to make the raid. General Patton disagrees, stating that he has intelligence that the camp is held by only a few troops and sends off the raiding party as originally planned. Baum’s group immediately runs into trouble when the German force turns out to be much larger and better equipped than thought.

Shipman paints a well thought out and researched story of the actual fighting around the expedition and the German troops both stationed in the area as well as those guarding the camp. There is bravery and a willingness to sacrifice on both sides. Soldiers are killed and wounded. There is a maniacal sargeant involved in guarding the prisoners. The anguish felt by men that cannot leave the front to return home to face an emergency there is well described. And, of course, the constant fear of death or devastating wounds is always with the soldiers on both sides.

The question of what Patton had in mind when he ordered an undersized force into a situation that becomes almost impossible is brought out as well as the reactions of the Americans when they realize that they are in over their heads, but cannot give up and turn back. There are no heroes but certainly many people just willing to do their duty. Task Force Baum is a novel that you cannot leave until finished, and certainly the work of an author whose books should be sought out as he writes them.

11/19 Paul Lane

TASK FORCE BAUM by James D. Shipman. Kensington (November 26, 2019). ISBN 978-1496723864. 304p.

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