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May 2018

**BLOG TOUR** Absent by Emma Salisbury

28617089_1961546927401239_1833483103611132346_oI am pleased to be the latest spot on the blog tour for Absent, the new DS Coupland novel from Emma Salisbury. Emma has very kindly written a brilliant guest post about the locations used in the book, something that always interests me when reading a book set in a real place.

Over to Emma:

My police procedural series is set in the city of Salford, in Greater Manchester. I chose it because I was born there and I married into a family of officers serving in Greater Manchester Police. I think Mancunians – or Salfordians if you want to split hairs, are a lot like the Scots (I now live on the East Coast of Scotland). They speak their mind but are kind spirited and will help a stranger out in the blink of an eye. Coupland represents a typical Northern man in many ways, no heirs or graces, never gets above himself and detests that in others. He calls a spade a spade. 

I have used a lot of my old stomping grounds in my plots: Swinton, where my late mother and father in law used to live. My mother in law used to work in the bakers on the precinct and we’d call in for a chat whenever we were passing. My late husband and I shared a flat in Clifton before moving to Worsley, locals will spot the thinly disguised references to Kirkstile Place and Ellenbrook, and Boothstown, where I used to meet a friend from the local toddler group. My younger son was born in Hope Hospital, and spent a week in the special care baby unit so basing Coupland’s wife Lynn there was my way of paying homage to them. Sometimes I am less explicit about the location – I have changed some place names, and even made up some areas, particularly if I am suggesting something negative, after all my intention isn’t to cause offence.

Salford has changed over the years, I mean the landscape, not the people. When you write in any great detail about a location (which I don’t like doing anyway as it feels like a travelogue) you run the risk of the story becoming outdated, so I tend not to comment on large buildings or regeneration projects, although I couldn’t ignore media city rolling up. It’s the same with coffee shops and restaurants, if I want to mention something and I haven’t been to stay for a while I check with my niece: ‘That Little Chef still off the East Lancs Road?’ ‘Nah, it’s an Indian restaurant now.’ 

I love it when readers tell me they were sitting at the traffic lights and they can envisage a scene from the series right in front of them. Another reader sent me a photo her friend had taken outside a nightclub – she thought the doorman in the photo looked like Coupland.

 I just love it when that happens.

The worst things happen in plain sight.

When he stopped a serial killer in his tracks earlier in the year he thought that would be the end of it, but for DS Kevin Coupland his nightmare has just begun.

A child’s body is discovered hidden in a bag, kicking off a major investigation for Salford Precinct’s murder squad. Soon the National Crime Agency roll into town and Coupland is under strict instructions to play nice.

He’s got enough on his plate to worry about politics. A shock discovery in his personal life is starting to take its toll, causing him to make decisions that bring him to the attention of the powers that be for all the wrong reasons.

DS Alex Moreton returns from maternity leave to find her partner deeply troubled, but with a cold case to review she’s in no position to prevent him hitting the self-destruct button.

As he hunts down the child’s killer Coupland is forced to reflect upon his own life and find an answer to the question he’s been avoiding. Is it possible to accept the things you cannot change?

With thanks to Emma Salisbury for the great post and to Kelly Lacey at Love Books Group for arranging the blog tour.

Take a look at the rest of the blogs on the tour:

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The Night Caller by David Field

image001The women in the East End of London have just got over the horrors of Jack the Ripper when a new attacker appears on the scene – someone is breaking into their homes, stealing their underwear and leaving filthy, threatening messages. With the police refusing to take the crimes seriously, it is up to Esther Jacobs and her fiance, police officer Jack Enright, to investigate the wrongdoings. Are these women being targeted for a reason and just what is the connection to a new female ‘Alliance’? When the case takes a turn for the worse, someone will soon find their life is in grave danger…

The Night Caller is the second of the Esther and Jack Enright Mysteries, a detective series set in Victorian London, the first being The Gaslight Stalker. In the last book, our heroes met and, despite the horrendous circumstances they found themselves in, fell in love. Now planning their wedding, they find themselves involved in a case which becomes a little too close for comfort for Esther. Knowing Esther’s personality, it was not a surprise that she should find herself becoming involved in a female trade union and it was pleasing to see some historical fact being included such as the Bryant and May strike and the role of Annie Besant.

I found much of this book pitying Jack who has spent most of his life with his overbearing mother and is now embarking on a marriage with an equally strong woman. Esther appeared, at times, to be quite unlikable, but I found myself warming to her as the story progressed. It will be interesting to see what the next book has in store for Esther, as she is definitely not the sort of woman to be content with staying at home, looking after any children they have!

The Night Caller definitely transports you back to Victorian London and whereas, in the last book, we saw how the poorest and most unfortunate lived, here we see the lower classes finally trying to fight their way out of poverty. Of course, this would not be what everyone wanted and so we see these women being threatened and, eventually murdered. The mystery was a good one with enough red herrings thrown in to keep you off the scent, and it also had a satisfying conclusion.

I look forward to seeing how married life is treating the Enrights in the next book!

With thanks to Caoimhe O’Brien at Sapere Books for my copy of the book.

Deep Fear by Rachel Lynch

When the naked body of a woman is found near a Lake District church, DI Kelly Porter immediately senses that the killing seemed personal and that the perpetrator had a particular grudge. When another body is found, however, she realises that there is much more to it and that there is a serial killer on her patch. With quotes from the Lakes poets being left with the bodies, the police know that they are dealing with a particularly disturbed individual who must be stopped before the body count continues to rise.

Deep Fear is the second book to feature Kelly Porter, the first being Dark Game. In the first book, we were introduced to Kelly who, after years of working in London, had returned back home to Cumbria. She could have been forgiven for thinking that her job would now be less eventful but, as she soon found out, the Lakes contain their fair share of dubious characters. In Deep Fear, we come across one of the worst sorts – a deranged serial killer who seems keen to mete out their own version of punishment.

This is very much a police procedural and a classic serial killer hunt – something I always enjoy reading. Like many serial killers, this one soon acquires a nickname by the press, in this case, ‘The Teacher’, as they seem to want to teach their victims a lesson. Initially, the victims seem not to be connected but as Kelly digs deeper, a link is found – has she found the right one though or is someone playing an even clever game? One of the things I liked most was that, in order to find her answer, Kelly and her team use a range of techniques, relying not just upon modern forensics, but also using good old-fashioned leg work.

Whereas a lot of the lead detectives in books such as this are very damaged, I find that, although Kelly has her issues, she comes across as a very real character. Her relationship with her family is well-written – it is very easy to imagine the tension caused by the dislike her and her sister share for each other. I also like the way Kelly works – she is a fair boss who still commands respect from the rest of her team.

This is definitely emerging as a series to watch and I look forward to seeing what the Lake District has in store next for Kelly Porter.

With thanks to Canelo and Net Galley for the ARC.

 

My Mother’s Secret by Sanjida Kay

61RUGiggOTLEmma and Stella Taylor are a mother and daughter with very different personalities. Emma has a secret, one that could threaten her family, and Stella is determined, at any cost, to discover just what her mother’s secret is. Meanwhile, Lizzie Bradshaw, a young mother and wife, is forced to leave her family for several days each week as part of her job. When she witnesses a terrible crime, more than one life will be affected. Will any of them be able to put the past behind them and live the life they want?

I was hooked right from the prologue of My Mother’s Secret, when we are privy to an altercation in a shop that leads to grave circumstances for all those involved. This was a great start to the book and left me asking questions that I hoped would be answered as I read. It also gave a hint as to the troubles that were to come. Initially, as the chapters moved between the perspectives of Lizzie, Emma and Stella, it was a bit confusing but I found that once the plots developed, it became much easier to follow.

The main message in the book is probably how, no matter how perfect our life is, it only takes one event to change it all in the blink of an eye. Although Lizzie was struggling financially with her new family, she did appear to be at the brink of a fantastic life, only for it to be cruelly taken away from her. I felt a great deal of sympathy towards Lizzie and did not envy the decisions she had to make.

Emma, on the other hand, I did not initially warm to as I found her overprotective and, at times, rather odd! As we get to know more about her past, however, and discover what made her the way she is, she became much more of a fascinating character. Stella, I found just like any other teenage girl, desperate to grow up but hampered by her parents.

There are a few twists in the story that were not that hard to figure out but there was one revelation towards the end that I did not see coming. It filled me with anger to discover how one of the characters had been manipulated and would probably continue to be so for the rest of their life.

I really enjoyed My Mother’s Secret and will definitely be looking out for more of this author’s work.

With thanks to Corvus and Readers First for my ARC.

 

 

**BLOG TOUR** Dead and Gone by D. L. Michaels

I am pleased to be the latest stop on the blog tour for Dead and Gone by D. L. Michaels, which was published by Aria on May 1st.

When DI Annie Parker visits the supermarket, little does she realise that a disagreement with a fellow customer will see her becoming embroiled in a case that will pit her against one of the country’s leading crime families as she investigates a 20-year-old murder. Meanwhile, the life of successful businesswoman Paula Smith should be a happy one. Indeed it would be, if it wasn’t for her alcoholic husband, Danny, who she knows she should leave. What is the secret that keeps her there? In contrast, Sarah Johnson’s life appears idyllic. Married to a man she loves, all is not, however, what it seems. What secret is he harbouring?

Dead and Gone is a police procedural with a twist. After losing her husband and daughter-in-law in an accident, work has become somewhat of an escape from Annie’s home life. Her son has come to depend on her more and more as he attempts to deal with his own grief, often leaving her in charge of her young granddaughter. Now with the added complications her sister brings, the magnitude of this case threatens to overwhelm her. Never one to be deterred, though, Annie comes across as a feisty, no-nonsense officer and one that I would love to read about again.

At first, I did find the format of the book slightly confusing. The story is told from the points of view of the three main characters and, until I got to know them all, I found myself getting confused between Paula and Sarah. Once the story took hold, however, I soon became engrossed in their back stories although I still looked forward to Annie’s chapters the most.

It was inevitable that, at some point, the three story lines would converge and so I was constantly looking for ways in which I thought it would happen. When it did, the twist was not something I saw coming and was definitely a great surprise. It was probably at this point that I started to read a lot faster, desperate to know the outcome of the huge revelation!

Dead and Gone is a great start to a series and I look forward to reading what follows.

With thanks to Aria and Net Galley for my ARC.

**BLOG TOUR** In the Blood by Ruth Mancini

Today, I am really pleased to be the latest stop on the blog tour for Ruth Mancini’s new book, In the Blood. Published on May 1st, it has been described as ‘totally gripping and compelling’ and ‘unsettling and compulsive’. It is with great pleasure that I share with you a guest post from Ruth, who gives us a great insight into her writing. Over to Ruth:

Why is it important to tell women’s stories in crime?

Because it’s the most popular genre, because females make up approximately fifty per cent of the population – and because the best jobs in crime stories have traditionally gone to the boys! Fortunately, we’ve evolved from the days when women in crime were either helpless victims, femme fatales or elderly busybodies, and we now have a good range of clever, capable female detectives, lawyers and private eyes – better reflecting real-life professions involving the law. However, women still face huge challenges within these professions – and in life, generally – and if stories are to be realistic then these challenges need to make it onto the page.

Where did you get your inspiration for this book/series?

I’m a criminal defence lawyer as well as a crime fiction writer so, inevitably , I was inspired by my own experiences. The idea for IN THE BLOOD came from a maternal murder case in which I was very fleetingly involved. The love a woman feels for her child is indescribable – and the loss of that child her biggest fear. So, what would it take for her to destroy something so precious? I remain fascinated (in a very dark, bleak way, of course) by the concept.

How do you come up with names for your characters?

Usually the names just appear on the page. Sometimes, I give them the Christian names of people I know, names that suit their character for that reason and make them more real to me as I write.

What are your favourite/least favourite parts/scenes to write?

I love writing all of it, along with all the emotions that come up along the way. I’m never happier than when I’m making myself cry!

Is it important to have a likeable/relatable protagonist?

As a reader, I prefer it. I usually need to recognise and relate to the protagonist in order to go the distance with him or her (to be honest, it’s usually a her͛). But, having said that, I do like most people! I even liked Rachel, ‘The Girl On the Train’. I felt for her and what she’d been through, rather than disliking what she’d become. (I’ve also been known to enjoy a glass of wine, so there but for the grace of God, etc…)

Who is your favourite character in the book and why?

Errr… Sarah! Because she’s stronger and braver than me. And cleverer. Or is that more clever?

What came first? A character, the plot, setting?

The plot. I always plot first, write second.

Do you give yourself nightmares/scare yourself?

When I’m dealing with certain crimes in real life, yes. There have been a number of cases over the years that I wish I hadn’t had to deal with – and certain things I wish I’d never seen. They never really leave you.

Does your book draw on your personal experiences?

Very much so – not because I can’t write about anything I don’t know, but because there just seems to be so much for me to draw on. I’ve had a number of difficulties over the years and it was almost inevitable that Sarah, in the story, was going to share some of the load. Crucially, Sarah and I have both gone through the same world-shattering experience of discovering that there is something severely wrong with our first-born child. As you’d expect, that’s added an extra layer to the difficulties all women face in trying to balance career with family. People ask me, ‘How do you do it all?’ and the answer is – I don’t! Not perfectly, anyway, not by any stretch of the imagination. And Sarah slips up, too – she makes mistakes. She’s human, as are we all. There is a notion that women – both as sleuths and as real-life professionals – should be as hard-hitting as men in order to fight their way successfully through a male-dominated culture. Imuch prefer the idea of opening up that culture to embrace femininity, with all its massive strengths – such as empathy, emotional intelligence, the ability to get people to open up and talk, the ability to spot hidden dangers, to multi-task, etc. – strengths which often go hand in hand with the practicalities of raising a family – and that’s what I’ve tried to portray.

How do you research your books?

I write about a world with which I’m very familiar, so that helps. I always do site visits or ask colleagues for help with any scenes that are not so familiar. When I was writing IN THE BLOOD I went along on a case to The Old Bailey with a barrister colleague, so that I could get inside. Otherwise, you can only access the public gallery of an individual court, usually directly from a separate public entrance. I like to be as accurate as I can. And then, of course, there’s the Internet!

What’s next?

The sequel to IN THE BLOOD, which I’m currently writing. Sarah will have a whole new mystery to solve. I am really enjoying this one…

In southeast London, a young mother has been accused of an unthinkable crime: poisoning her own child – and then leaving him to die.

The mother, Ellie, is secretive and challenging – she’s had a troubled upbringing – but does that mean she’s capable of murder?

Balancing the case with raising her disabled five-year-old son, criminal defence lawyer Sarah Kellerman sets out in desperate pursuit of the truth. But when her own child becomes unwell, Sarah realises she’s been drawn into a dangerous game.

With thanks to Ruth Mancini for the fabulous guest post and Melanie Price for organising the blog tour. Take a look at the rest of the tour here:

Monthly Roundup: April 2018

Although this month has seen me read books from the crime/thriller genre, I’ve read a bit of an eclectic mix including a book set in Victorian England, some Scandi Noir and even an erotic thriller! My book of the month is definitely the latest Kim Stone book, Dying Truth, by Angela Marsons. Talk about an ending!!

Books I’ve Read

The Gaslight Stalker by David Field

The first in a new Victorian crime series sees a young seamstress becoming embroiled in the infamous Jack the Ripper murders. An easy read and an interesting take on a well-known historic crime.

 

If He Wakes by Zoe Lea

An easy-to-read psychological thriller which asks the question, how well do you know your partner? Shocking in parts, If He Wakes has some great twists that make you change your perceptions of the people you are reading about.

 

The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbo

The fifth in the Harry Hole series and probably my favourite so far. Harry’s problems are getting worse yet his experience with serial killers is essential as there appears to be one on the streets of Oslo. Some great twists make this a fast-paced, clever read.

 

5992b77e545d4f8fa328f444823272b3Dead and Gone by D. L. Michaels

The first in a new police procedural series featuring DI Annie Parker has a bit of a twist. Instead of her being the sole protagonist, we also follow the very different lives of Paula and Sarah knowing that, at some point, all of their stories will intertwine. Review will follow as part of the blog tour.

 

Cross Her HeartCross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

The long-awaited follow-up to Behind Her Eyes is a tale of how even if you think you know someone well, secrets are always lurking beneath the surface. A shocking plot with plenty of twists and turns.

 

51x4+VX3izLDying Truth by Angela Marsons

The eighth book in the Kim Stone series is, in my opinion, the best so far. Telling the story of strange deaths at an exclusive boarding school, this one will definitely have you gasping in shock at the end!

 

4128bR3P03LTubing by K A McKeagney

An erotic thriller that shows the dangers of getting involved in something you don’t really understand. A fast-paced read that makes you wonder what really goes on in the packed trains of the London Underground!

 

Books I’ve Acquired

61HbeiKW7lL._SY346_

DI Kelly Porter is back. But will this new case push her beyond her limits?

On a peaceful summer’s morning in the Lake District, a woman’s body is discovered outside a church. She’s been murdered and a brutal, symbolic act performed on her corpse. DI Kelly Porter is in charge of the team investigating the crime, and is determined to bring the killer to justice. But as more deaths occur it is clear this is the work of a disturbed, dangerous and determined individual. Can Kelly put the puzzle pieces together before the danger comes closer to home?

 

51SXPfKJzFL._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_When Superintendent Tom Harper’s wife is threatened during an election campaign, the hunt for the attacker turns personal.

Leeds, England. October, 1897. Superintendent Harper is proud of his wife Annabelle. She’s one of seven women selected to stand for election as a Poor Law Guardian. But even as the campaign begins, Annabelle and the other female candidates start to receive anonymous letters from someone who believes a woman’s place lies firmly in the home.

The threats escalate into outright violence when an explosion rips through the church hall where Annabelle is due to hold a meeting – with fatal consequences. The only piece of evidence Harper has is a scrap of paper left at the scene containing a fragment from an old folk song. But what is its significance?

As polling day approaches and the attacks increase in menace and intensity, Harper knows he’s in a race against time to uncover the culprit before more deaths follow. With the lives of his wife and daughter at risk, the political becomes cruelly personal …

61RUGiggOTL

 

You can only hide for so long…

Lizzie Bradshaw. A student from the Lake District, forced to work away from home, who witnesses a terrible crime. But who will ultimately pay the price?

Emma Taylor. A mother, a wife, and a woman with a dangerous secret. Can she keep her beloved family safely together?

Stella Taylor. A disaffected teenager, determined to discover what her mother is hiding. But how far will she go to uncover the truth?

And one man, powerful, manipulative and cunning, who controls all their destinies.

 

As we enter a new month, I’d like to re-share my review of the amazing Don’t Make a Sound by David Jackson, which is published on 3rd May. With over a third of the year gone, this is still my favourite book of 2018 so far, so give it a read if you haven’t done so already!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**BLOG TOUR** The Wrong Man by Kate White

The Wrong ManAs part of the blog tour for her new book, I am pleased to be able to share with you an extract from The Wrong Man by Kate White.

Kate is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve works of fiction: seven Bailey Weggins mysteries and five stand-alone psychological thrillers, including most recently, The Secrets You Keep. For fourteen years she was the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, and though she loved the job (and the Cosmo beauty closet!), she decided to leave in late 2013 to concentrate on being a full-time author and speaker

The Blurb

Kit Finn meets handsome sculptor Matt Healy on a business trip and the two share a night of passion. They arrange a second date, but when Kit arrives at Matt’s apartment she is greeted by a stranger claiming he is the real Matt and that his identity was stolen.

Realising she has been duped Kit decides to put the encounter behind her. Shortly after, the police ask her to identify a man killed in a hit and run, carrying only her business card, and she is shocked to find the dead man is the person she knows as the genuine Matt Healy.

Kit fears she has become unintentionally embroiled in a sinister web of deceit. With no real evidence to take to police, Kit resolves to unravel the mystery herself. But can she do so before more lives, including her own, are put in danger?

The Extract

For some reason she couldn’t understand, Kit woke on the last morning in Islamorada with the urge to do something a little dangerous in her life. Not like shark-cage diving or parasailing over the turquoise blue Florida Bay. She hadn’t lost her mind. She just longed for something that would make her heart pump harder and her breath catch in her throat.

Maybe it was because her vacation, a combination getaway and business-scouting trip, had been nice enough but had offered up no surprises, none of those unexpected discoveries you secretly yearned for on a trip. Oh, she’d done a kayak tour of the mangroves and she’d treated herself to a hot stone massage. But those were hardly the kind of activities that left you breathless, even though the massage therapist had stressed that the stones were actually “certified lava shells,” as if having them kneaded into your back was comparable to hiking along the rim of a volcanic crater.

Or, maybe the urge was tied to her birthday. She’d turned thirty-five the week before, had broken up five months before with a sweet, nice guy who’d been all wrong for her, and during the days leading up to the occasion, she’d goaded herself to use her birthday as an impetus to go bolder, to be more of a badass at times. As she’d left the office for the airport eight days ago, Baby Meadow, her seventy-one-year-old interior decorating partner, had quoted a line of Mae West’s that kept echoing in Kit’s head: “Good girls go to heaven but bad girls go everywhere.”

But even as she toyed with the idea, she heard an internal warning. Wasn’t the problem with a little danger that you had no guarantee it could be contained? It was like a match tossed on dry brush. Maybe things only smoldered for a while, the embers glowing softly through the night until a light rain doused them at dawn. But with the right wind conditions, those embers could begin to flare, creating flames that would thrash higher and higher in the darkness. Until they torched everything you owned.

She stepped out onto the small, stone patio of her hotel room and discovered that the early April sky was cloudless, and the jungle-like grounds of the hotel—dense with palm trees and sawgrass—looked lush and seductive, in shades of deep green that she rarely liked to use in her work but always felt spellbound by in nature. A gecko darted up the trunk of a tree. Time to get moving, she told herself. It would be crazy not to make the most of her last day.

She dressed quickly—a bikini covered with a sarong and T-shirt—and headed for breakfast, her iPad tucked under her arm. The hotel was a small boutique one, almost motel-like in style but charming and Caribbean in feel. Her room was in one of a half-dozen white clapboard buildings separated from the main building by winding sand pathways. As she came around a bend in the path, she overheard snippets of conversation. It was a man talking, probably another guest up early, too, and after a moment she realized he was on a cell phone. There was a hint of consternation in his tone.

“I don’t want to wait much longer,” Kit thought she heard him say. And then, as she rounded the bend, his words were more distinct: “I’d rather have a few regrets than none at all.”

He was late thirties, she guessed, about six foot two with dark red hair cut short in a kind of Navy Seal style and a closely cropped beard and mustache. Dressed in a pale, long-sleeved shirt and cream-colored pants. He caught her eye and then looked away, lowering his voice at the same time.

As she passed him, she reflected on the last comment he’d made. Perhaps that should be her motto in life, she thought. But how did you guarantee a few regrets didn’t balloon into too many?

Breakfast was included in the price of her room, and she went a little nuts—glistening red papaya, half a muffin, a cheese and mushroom omelet, and a foamy cappuccino—telling herself to get her money’s worth. While eating she knocked off replies to a few emails and checked the news online.

She lingered longer than she’d planned. With half an eye directed toward a headline on her iPad, she grabbed her tote bag and left the restaurant, eager to reach the beach.

And then bam, she collided hard with someone. Her fault for trying to still read the darn iPad. She looked up to see that her victim was the red-haired man she’d passed on the path.

“So sorry,” Kit said. She felt like an idiot.

“It’s my fault, too,” he said politely. “My mind was elsewhere.”

She wondered if it had been on the conversation he’d had earlier. Well, whatever, decent of him to let her off the hook. He held her gaze tightly for a couple of beats, with eyes that were a light but piercing blue.

“Have a nice day,” she said. He nodded and they both went on their way.

She walked the beach and started shooting photos with her Samsung, mostly of the luscious white sand. She loved to catalogue shots of things whose names were the same as colors—like sand, olive, lavender, ash, or bone. It was fascinating to see how many variations there were, and to liberate them all from the confinement of their names. Later, she read and ate lunch under a palm tree by the small, turquoise-bottomed pool. Then she changed into street clothes and took a taxi to a shop in town.

It was on the main road that ran through the island, a kind of honky-tonk strip, but there were a decent few stores, some of which she’d already perused, scouting for her client. The woman had vacationed as a girl in the Florida Keys and wanted the same vibe for a Jersey Shore cottage she’d recently purchased. That was actually part of the reason Kit had picked Islamorada to begin with—killing two birds with one stone. But now she was shopping just for herself. One of the stores specialized in fanciful exotic stuff, including a mounted sawfish bill that she’d practically drooled over.

The place was nearly empty but she liked that. She started down an aisle, relaxed in the moment. And then there he was again, Mr. X, the red-haired guy from the morning, wearing a tight, heather blue T now instead of the long-sleeved shirt. It was as if she’d conjured him up, the way a magician pulls a dove from his sleeve.

“Hello again,” he said, suddenly seeing her. His eyes held hers the way they had earlier.

“Oh, hi. Sorry again about this morning. No injuries, right?”

“No, none at all. Though I should warn you. I hear they’re going to make that illegal in some states—walking while reading a tablet.”

“Good to know,” she said, smiling. “I’ll leave my iPad at home—or use a designated reader.”

He didn’t say anything for a moment, just looked at her, as if weighing a decision.

“Are you hunting for souvenirs?” he asked finally.

“Sort of. What about you? You don’t seem like the type who goes for mirrors with seashells hot-glued to the frame.”

She wasn’t sure why she’d teased him that way. It was a tactic she sometimes relied on with awkward male clients, to entice them to open up.

“I’m going to take that as a compliment,” he said. “I was actually trying to find a gift for my big sister’s birthday. Any ideas? She’ll be forty-one. Nice taste but on the casual side.”

She wondered suddenly if he might be trying to pick her up. But she’d never been drawn to red-haired men. Weren’t they supposed to be brooding or even wildly mercurial, the type who’d think nothing of bashing another man over the back of the head with a bar stool?

“Will you need to pack it in your luggage?” she asked. “If that’s the case, you might want to think small.”

“She’s got a place in Miami. I’m headed there by car tomorrow so I can take it with me.”

“So size isn’t an issue?” she said.

“Not really. But don’t women hate gifts in large packages? They assume you’ve brought them a juicer or an emergency kit for their car.”

“You’re so right,” Kit said. He looked, she thought, like the kind of guy who’d never given anyone a juicer in his life, and if he needed juice himself, he’d just crush a half-dozen oranges in one fist. Maybe he was a Navy Seal, decompressing after a raid on a terrorist cell or Somali pirates. “Okay, let’s see, then…”

She turned to scan the store and then headed down an aisle, with him trailing just behind her. After a minute or so, she spotted a hammered metal frame tucked behind a group of decorative boxes.

“What about this?” she said, easing it out. “A woman can never own enough frames. And this one would work with any style.”

“Even casual? Though maybe a better way to describe my sister is a touch Bohemian.”

“Yes, this would mix with that.” Kit smiled. “I’m actually a decorator.”

“Ahh. Well then, sold.” He accepted the frame from her. “I’m Matt Healy, by the way,” he added like an afterthought.

She was standing so close to him that she could see the light freckles on his face. There was something about him that was both rugged and refined—the cropped beard and mustache contrasting with the sophisticated air. And then there were those freaking blue eyes. When she’d handed him the frame, she’d noticed there was no wedding ring on his hand. Though, of course, that didn’t mean a thing.

“Kit Finn,” she said.

Links to Book:

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

Take a look at the rest of the books on the blog tour:

The Wrong Man blog tour banner (1)

With thanks to Ellie Pilcher at Canelo for organising the blog tour.

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