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Book Review: A Cold Dark Promise by Toni Anderson

About A COLD DARK PROMISE

A COLD DARK PROMISE takes place during the week leading up to the wedding of former assassin Alex Parker to FBI Agent Mallory Rooney, who meet and fall in love in the novel, A COLD DARK PLACE.

In the midst of wedding preparations, a shadowy figure from Alex Parker’s past reappears and threatens the joy he’s found with Mallory Rooney.

Four years ago, Jane Sanders’s rich and powerful ex-husband kidnapped their young daughter and Jane hasn’t seen her since. Now she finally has a lead on her location and she knows just the man to help her get her daughter back. Trouble is, he’s an assassin. And he terrifies her.

Despite his upcoming nuptials, Alex agrees to help, but it doesn’t take long for the routine operation to turn complicated—and deadly. Can the former CIA operative make it home in time to marry the woman he loves, or will his dark past destroy all hope for their future?

Get your hands on A COLD DARK PROMISE now:

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My Review

Once again Toni Anderson has sucked me into a another story. She has a way of grabbing your attention and never letting go. I have turned into such a fan of Toni Anderson and her romantic suspense novels. If you haven’t tried out the genre or read any of her books, well trust me, ITS TIME.

Alex Parker is finally having the dreams he always thought were unattainable come true. He is just a week away from marrying the beautiful FBI agent Mallory when he gets reminded of his past as an assassin. Jane Sanders asked Alex for help in kidnapping her daughter back who was taken by her ex-husband a few years ago. As an expecting father, Alex can’t help but sympathize and decides to go across seas to get her.

The last night anyone expect was for a massive arms deal to be taking place and every high profile wanted felon to be on site. Alex has no choice but to call in back up but will it be enough? With only a couple days to the wedding Mallory and Alex both start to wonder if Alex will be able to make it to the wedding or if he will be even alive.

Talk about suspense! Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. The unexpected kept happened and all I could do was keep turning pages to find out what would happen next. It felt like my heart was torn between wanting Alex to go home to his pregnant soon to be wife and saving the mother and child. Such a good read!!

About Toni Anderson

New York Times and USA Today international bestselling author, Toni Anderson, writes dark, gritty Romantic Suspense novels that have hit #1 in Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, the Top 10 in Amazon and Kobo stores, and the Top 50 in iBooks. Her novels have won many awards. A former Marine Biologist from Britain, she inexplicably ended up in the geographical center of North America, about as far from the ocean as it is possible to get. She now lives in the Canadian prairies with her Irish husband and two children and spends most of her time complaining about the weather.

Toni has no explanation for her oft-times dark imagination, and only hopes the romance makes up for it. She’s addicted to reading, dogs, tea, and chocolate.

If you want to know when Toni’s next book will be out, visit her website (http://www.toniandersonauthor.com) and sign up for her newsletter. If you want to read other fascinating stories about life in a city that, during winter, is sometimes colder than Mars, friend her on Facebook: (https://www.facebook.com/toniannanderson).

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A Very Married Christmas Release Day Blitz

We are so excited to be bringing you the release blitz for Samantha Chase’s A VERY MARRIED CHRISTMAS! This is the perfect romantic read to get you in the holiday spirit – be sure to grab your copy today!

 

About A VERY MARRIED CHRISTMAS

She’s ready to deck the halls…
But not with wedding decorations.

For the most part, Melanie Harper has made her peace with her negative feelings toward Christmas. Thanks to her fiancé, she’s even learned to enjoy the holiday. But that doesn’t mean she wants to share it with her wedding day!

He’s dreaming of a white Christmas…
Complete with a wedding!

Ever since they first met, Josiah Stone has done his best to show Melanie how magical Christmas can be. He’s gotten her to participate in parades, decorate trees and even celebrate the holiday, but asking her to marry him on Christmas Eve just might be more than she’s ready for.

Will this be a very Merry or very Married Christmas?

Add A VERY MARRIED CHRISTMAS to your Goodreads shelf HERE!

 

Get your copy of A VERY MARRIED CHRISTMAS today!

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Read an excerpt of A VERY MARRIED CHRISTMAS now:

“What?” she cried.

Josiah knew he was taking a big risk in presenting this to her—after all, Melanie had grown up hating Christmas. Hell, he’d only gotten her to have some good feelings toward the holiday in the last two years! But he knew if she’d just give him a chance, he’d be able to prove to her how a Christmas wedding would be amazing.

Jumping to his feet, he looked down at her shocked expression and did his best to keep his tone light and encouraging.

“Just…hear me out, okay?”

The look on her face said she would, but she certainly wasn’t happy about it.

“What could be better than getting married during such a festive time of the year?” he began but didn’t give her a chance to reply. “Think about it—everything, everywhere is already beautifully decorated. Any place we go won’t require much from us because it will already be decorated! The Poinsettias, Christmas trees, the lights…all that work will be done for us.”

“Josiah…”

“And everyone will be in town already so there won’t be a need for them to make a separate trip.”

“Who’s everyone? My dad is already here; he’s the only family I have and your family doesn’t live that far away. It’s hardly like they’d be making a huge sacrifice to come to town,” she countered.

“But all of our friends will be here too. You know how most people we know tend to travel either before Christmas or after the new year because they love all the festivities here in town Christmas week.”

Melanie let out a small sigh. “Look, I get what you’re saying. I really do. But…you know my feelings on Christmas.”

He immediately sat back down at her side. “And we’ve come such a long way, Mel! When we first met, you hated the holidays and everything about them. But after that first Christmas here, you changed. You saw how it all wasn’t so bad and—admit it—you even enjoyed it.”

She gave him a sour look. “I know that first Christmas was amazing but only because you made it that way for me. You went out of your way to make up for every single crappy Christmas I’d had since I was five!”

“And what about last year?” he prodded.

Another sigh. “You proposed last Christmas so of course that’s going to make for a great memory.”

“So you see…”

“But,” she quickly interrupted, “that doesn’t mean I want to get married during the month of December or anywhere near Christmas!”

He silently admitted to himself that he knew there were going to be some challenges in getting Melanie to see his way of thinking, but he was kind of hopeful that she wouldn’t be quite this hostile toward the idea. How was he supposed to convince her that this could be good for them? Great, even? What could he possibly do to show her how wonderful a Christmas wedding could be?

 

 

About SAMANTHA CHASE:

Samantha Chase is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller of contemporary romance. She released her debut novel in 2011 and currently has more than forty titles under her belt! When she’s not working on a new story, she spends her time reading romances, playing way too many games of Scrabble or Solitaire on Facebook, wearing a tiara while playing with her sassy pug Maylene…oh, and spending time with her husband of 25 years and their two sons in North Carolina.

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5 Star Review: Too Distracting by Bethany Lopez

Today we are celebrating the release of TOO DISTRACTING by Bethany Lopez. Too Distracting is the third book in a contemporary romance series, The Lewis Cousins. Check out the teasers and buy links below. The rest of the series is ON SALE for a very limited time!

Purchase for $2.99

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Too Distracting by Bethany Lopez

(The Lewis Cousins, #3)
Contemporary Romance – Coming October 23

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Synopsis:

As the successful and driven CEO of Lewis Sporting Goods, Dillon rarely has time to eat a home cooked meal, let alone put any time or effort into maintaining an actual relationship. He’s been living on fumes and casual encounters for so long that finding love and starting a family never even crossed his mind, until his cousins Gabe and Reardon found women who gave them both.

Laurel has been in love with Dillon since she was nine years old. Unfortunately, he’s always seen her as his little sister’s pesky best friend. She can’t stop her heart from beating frantically whenever he’s near, but she’s become an expert at keeping her feelings from everyone, especially Dillon. Her secret has been safe, until now…

When Laurel needs help with her business plan, her best friend urges her to seek help from Dillon. Determined to push her feelings aside and focus on her fledgling business, Laurel knows she needs to do whatever it takes to succeed, even if it means being treated to indifference and big brother teasing from the man she loves.

Can Laurel work with Dillon and still keep her heart intact, or will things get Too Distracting when Dillon realizes what a beautiful, kind, and generous woman she has become?

Too Distracting is the third in an all-new small-town romance series by Bethany Lopez. Follow the Lewis cousins as they learn about love and loss in Cherry Springs, the kind of place where there are festivals for every occasion and everyone knows your business.

Pre-order for $2.99

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My Review:

Laurel has had a rough few years and is finally trying to pick up the pieces of her life and go after her dreams. She wants to expand her parents floral shop to a party planning business. Her parents are stubborn a’holes who refuse to hear her out or help her in any way. Constantly being beaten down, she turns to her best friends brother and long time crush for help with a business plan. She is determined to finally make Dillon notice her but at the risk of ruining her friendship with his twin.

Dillon is a part owner of a fast growing family sporting goods store. He has always hated Laurel for the pranks she and his twin pulled on him as they were growing up. The last thing he wants to do is help out his sister friend but he relents in hopes that she has grown up and changed. The last thing he expected was to spent a weekend away with her and see a side of her he never knew existed. What was supposed to just be a weekend deal has turned into the ultimate struggle on what Dillon really wants and if his desire will beat all the odds.

I LOVED this book. Dillon and Laurel were such wonderful characters and I melting at their chemistry. Laurel was so admirable as she refused to allow hurtful people continue to run her life. She went after what she wanted and seeing her success was amazing. This book really showed how important it is to have a support group to help you through the hard times and pick you up when you are down. We all need encouragement from those we love and this story really showed the extent of it.

PURCHASE THE PREVIOUS BOOKS IN THE SERIES

temptingebook

TOO TEMPTING (Available now!)

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TOO COMPLICATED (Available now!)

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Award-Winning Author Bethany Lopez began self-publishing in June 2011. She’s a lover of all things romance: books, movies, music, and life, and she incorporates that into the books she writes. When she isn’t reading or writing, she loves spending time with her husband and children, traveling whenever possible. Some of her favorite things are: Kristen Ashley Books, coffee in the morning, and In N Out burgers.

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The Divine Heart by Danielle R Mant Book Blitz

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COVER REVEAL for Unmasked by Magan Vernon

Today we have the gorgeous cover reveal for Unmasked by Magan Vernon! We’re very excited about this fantastic new release. Be sure to preorder your copy now!

Title: Unmasked

Genre: New Adult

Author: Magan Vernon

Cover Designer: Kassi Snider of Kassi Jean Formatting

Release Date: November 6th

 

About Unmasked:

Can a hotshot snowboarder de-ice the ice queen?

At twenty-six, Blake Tremblay is one of the oldest snowboarders in the game. His sights are set on the gold medal, and he knows it’s now or never.

Kelly Johnson has spent her entire life skating and winning. She’s had no time for friends or an active social life, earning her the nickname “Ice Queen” – in and out of the rink.

Blake makes a bet without knowing all the terms. His ego won’t let him back out, even though his target is none other than the American Ice Queen herself.

What are the odds the dreadlocked playboy can warm the frosty figure skater when the real games are unmasked?

Let The Games Begin.

Preorder Your Copy Today!

Exclusive Excerpt:

I wasn’t a big drinker. Ever. And I had no idea how many bottles of alcohol Blake, and I had gone through. Or when he got so funny.

Maybe it was the accent. It was a mixture of sort-of-kind-of-french and northern Minnesotan, which I guess was basically Canada. But when he spoke he rolled his Rs like a French man, and I couldn’t help but stare at his mouth. And I should have stopped staring or stopped talking after the first glass. Then he just kept filling mine up, and I kept staring, and there we were, me laughing and staring at his beautiful mouth.

“You really had a Mohawk for Sochi trials?” I asked, almost spitting out my Soju that was a sugary vodka and supposed to be a very popular drink in Korea.

Blake laughed and filled my cup again. “Yeah. I wanted to stand out. You Americans can’t have all the flair with your blue-haired swimmers.”

I pointed at him and leaned on my elbow. “Hey! Those summer guys aren’t the same, and you know it!”

He grabbed my hand, and a smirk crossed his face that brought out one small dimple on his cheek. I don’t know if it was the large amounts of alcohol we consumed or that dimpled smile, but all of my body felt flushed, and I was sure my face had to be redder than the Canadian flag. “It’s not nice to point, Miss Johnson. Even an American knows that.”

I tried not to focus on how warm and rough his hands were on mine. His whole palm covered my fists, and I briefly wondered how big other things were before quickly shooting that thought out of my head, and pulling my hand away. I didn’t need to think about sex, no matter how long it had been. This was The Games. Not a time for romance or lust. “I wanna see a Mohawk picture. Come on; I know you’ve got one on your phone.”

“Only if you show me one of yours pictures. I’m sure you have some from your early days of skating. The American costumes in the nineties weren’t exactly some of your proudest moments. Or at least that’s what your movies showed me.” He raised an eyebrow before taking a sip of his drink, which was more like a giant gulp.

Gathering some courage, I poured the rest of the bottle in his glass. “I don’t even know what I have on my phone. Nothing exciting. No 1980s scrunchies or poofy sleeved leotards.”

He laughed. “I’m sure you’ve got something. Now show me yours, and I’ll show you mine.”

 

 

About Magan Vernon:

Magan Vernon has been living off of reader tears since she wrote her first short story in 2004. She now spends her time killing off fictional characters, pretending to plot while she really just watches Netflix, and she tries to do this all while her two young children run amok around her Texas ranch.

 

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Chapter Reveal: Honest Intentions by Kennedy Layne

We’re just over a week away from the release of HONEST INTENTIONS by Kennedy Layne – but we couldn’t wait that long! Read the first chapter below and preorder your copy today!

 

 About HONEST INTENTIONS

USA Today Bestselling Author Kennedy Layne continues the Safeguard Series with this fast-paced romantic suspense novel that leads the SSI team on the trail of a serial killer who continually seems to be one step ahead…

Coen Flynn has always done the right thing, even it meant siding against his own family. His sense of justice was what led him to take a job in law enforcement, though his choice of agency was a bit unorthodox. His current assignment was believed to be a simple protection detail. He was never supposed to be identified by his charge, but a murder took priority and changed the course of his mission.

Brettany Lambert’s life is suddenly rocked when she finds the body of a dead friend on the eve of what was supposed to be a special wedding. Now Brettany and Coen are trapped in the middle of a blizzard and their attraction will fuel the heat of temptation. Good intentions always have a way of backfiring, but his desired intent won’t matter if a notorious serial killer can finish what he started.

Add HONEST INTENTIONS to your Goodreads list here!

 

HONEST INTENTIONS releases September 19th – preorder your copy now!

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✦Kobo http://bit.ly/2qXv3mD

 

Read the first chapter of HONEST INTENTIONS now:

One week ago…

The shrieking howl of the bitter cold wind pierced through the walls of the tiny log cabin as it endeavored to find a way inside. The flames of the blazing fire reflected a thousand tiny flickers on the river rock hearth as it rose through the rafters and beyond. The view was mesmerizing as the dancing columns of blue and yellow fluttered briefly in their efforts to consume enough oxygen.

The crisp night air finally succeeded in finding an otherwise tiny gap in the roughhewn pine logs that nevertheless continued their valiant fight to keep Old Man Winter at bay. The tail ends of each curling spark were like desperate souls trying to fight for their survival.

The irony of that useless battle wasn’t lost on her as the fire consumed its fuel.

Brettany Lambert slowly ran her hands up her arms and over the soft fabric of her chain-knit sweater in a vain attempt to absorb the warmth emanating only a few feet from the fire. The electricity had gone out hours ago, the backup generator had failed to start, and the wind chill had already dipped well below zero. The night proved to be long, but she didn’t have to spend it alone.

She shot a glance toward the window that usually offered her a charming view of Mount Evans, but all she could see were large, distorted snowflakes battering the windowpane that Jack Frost had decorated with a whimsical etching of the winter winds.

Beyond that?

Nothing but darkness.

The Colorado mountain range was picturesque in the middle of winter, but it certainly wasn’t her idea of an idyllic place to host a romantic wedding. Who wanted to say their vows against a backdrop of a wind chill that was in the double digits? Add on to that the fact that each of the guests had to use snowmobiles or an arctic cat to reach their destination. That should have clued in the future bride and groom that a classic Aruba beach wedding would have been much more appropriate—in addition to being a lot warmer, even during the latter part of the season. Eighty-two degrees sounded pretty good right now.

Brett sighed in resignation as she reached for the scarf she’d strung up over the coatrack earlier. She personally would have preferred any Caribbean location, but her proposal had been tossed aside like a bad penny the moment the wedding planning had begun over a year ago. She usually tried not to dwell over where she stood on the friendship scale, but at that moment she had been shoved aside given that certain souls born in the West Elk Mountains of west-central Colorado were strange breeds anyway. It was as if exposure to all those dark winter months affected their perception of what was obvious to everyone else.

The bride had listened to her maid of honor, despite all the other opposing views. Heidi had thought Louise and Chad marrying where they met would be romantic, but it turned out to be a total disaster. The wedding journey had started off with the incredibly difficult task of finding a heavy winter coat that would cover a traditional wedding dress. Unfortunately, the beautifully added layer wasn’t needed by the end of the rocky passage to wedded bliss.

Chad had decided the day before the ceremony was the perfect time to bring up old wounds, unearthing some deep-seated bitterness that had never been completely wiped clean. Louise had been all but blindsided as the groom had heatedly declared that the wedding was off, although most of the still sober guests suspected an alcohol-soaked bachelor party was to blame. It instantly caused their family and friends to take sides.

“Complete idiots,” Brett muttered in fondness, wrapping the cashmere scarf around her neck before lightly binding the ends together. “Any Caribbean island would have sufficed. But no, we had to come to a place that resembles Antarctica.”

She loved them both dearly and didn’t want either of them to throw away a life together over a past mistake that had been rehashed over and over again until there was nothing but ashes. Louise and Chad thrived on drama, though. It followed them no matter where they went—even on their wedding getaway to the great white north.

Luckily for them, all the guests were now stranded on this isolated mountain range until the storm lifted and permitted everyone to take what snowmobiles and conveyances there were across the pass to safety. Until then, it gave Chad and Louise’s family and friends time to try to talk sense into the two of them…at least those who weren’t in favor of a total and complete separation.

Had that been Heidi’s plan all along? She never did like some of Chad’s friends.

Brett shrugged into the horribly expensive parka she’d specifically bought for this trip, ignoring the path her thoughts had taken. She wasn’t one to judge, and that certainly wouldn’t help the situation now that everything had blown over, so to speak. The bottom line was that she could either stay out here in this tiny, frosty cabin she’d been assigned to for the whole weekend and go stir crazy, or she could join the others up at the lodge and see if the massive hoard of proffered nuptial booze was still available.

It wasn’t that the main inn was some kind of colossal log structure that could fit hundreds of guests. It was much more of a larger cabin…maybe triple in size as the one she was currently staying in with a large kitchen to host the twelve or so guests occupying the camp. It also helped that the lodge had a larger generator that worked even at these temperatures.

Brett checked herself over one more time, taking in her winter jacket, scarf, gloves, and waterproofed Ugg boots. She had somehow drawn the shortest straw without even realizing it when she’d been assigned the cabin farthest from the lodge.

Suddenly, the scene from Jurassic Park popped into her head when the actors drew lots to see who would race those velociraptors through the utility tunnels to turn the power back on to the contaminated pens.

She honestly hadn’t minded the distance in the least, until the storm had hit. Watching the groundskeeper string rope from each cabin had put the dangers of such extreme weather into serious perspective.

Brett finally gathered the courage to crack open the hatch.

The wind was stronger than she had expected. She barely maintained her hold on the side of the door as a strong gust tried to rip the wood from her fingers. The snowfall didn’t feel like the normal white fluffy flakes collecting on the ground, but instead like pelting ice crystals trying to penetrate her cheeks similar to little needles. She pushed down her gathering irritation that they could all be lying on the beach somewhere enjoying the trade winds with those umbrella drinks to drown their disappointment with the cancelled ceremony.

Brett turned away as she pulled the door closed behind her, not bothering to lock the latch. One, she trusted everyone here not to snoop. Two, no other sane person not stupid enough to attend this debacle could possibly be this high up on the mountain range in this crappy weather. Three, there was nothing of value that she’d brought with her other than her laptop anyway. It wasn’t like her computer was even of any use, considering there wasn’t Wi-Fi or any other type of cellular service that could be activated to reach the Internet.

This area was as primitive as it got, which was why a shiver ran up the back of her neck that had nothing to do with the bitter cold. God help them should anything happen that would be considered a real emergency. They were a very long way from medical rescue help. There would be no life flight helicopter with this storm, just a whole lot of pain for a very long time.

Another shriek of wind jarringly howled as the strong gusts of frigid air traveled through the ancient pines surrounding the campground. Had she not been listening to that exact same eerie sound all evening, she would have thought it was a screaming banshee somewhere off in the distance. It was downright terrifying. Mother Nature at her worst. Brett breathed a little easier as the screeching wail slowly faded.

She had no choice but to expose her face to the harsh elements as she looked for the knotted rope that would guide her toward the lodge. It occurred to her that the knots were evenly spaced at ten foot intervals. She reached into her right pocket and pulled out a small black lithium battery flashlight they had all been given by the groundskeeper. That vital contribution alone should have clued her in as to how severe these conditions could develop from a simple prediction of two to four inches into something truly monstrous as the system stalled swirling over the top of the range like a miniature hurricane made up of icy winds.

The meteorologist had certainly gotten this one wrong. His ass should be fired.

Brett focused the beam in the direction of where the rope had been tied off to a small stake in the ground ahead of her. She had no trouble locating the line tied to her post on the front porch, though it was rather difficult to walk against the wind out in the open. At least seven inches of heavy snow had already dropped with many more expected according to the last radio transmission she’d heard this morning before the power and the wedding failed.

Now one of the children’s songs from Frosty the Snowman got stuck in her head.

Put one foot in front of the other…

Each step Brett managed to undertake took effort, but it wasn’t quite so hard with the joyful melody in her head. She mentally kept track of her pace, figuring she wasn’t even halfway to the next cabin and even farther from her intended destination. That was okay. Her daily runs kept her in fairly good shape. It was getting a little hard to breathe, but she chalked it up to the altitude and the temperature.

“Ahh!”

Brett tried to catch herself as her boot caught on something solid buried in the snow. Not even her tight grip on the rope could keep her upright. The cushion of the thick white blanket did nothing to stop the blunt force of her body hitting the ground with a muted thud. She landed on her hands and knees abruptly. The impact instantly sent her good spirits and the merry little melody packing. It didn’t help that she’d lost her hold on the tiny flashlight. The item in question had landed about four feet in front of her.

“Damn it,” Brett muttered in frustration, instantly lifting both hands in the air as she sat back on her legs. She tried to shake out the snow that had stuck itself into the sleeves of her jacket, but it was too late. “Ugh.”

The cold slush had already melted against her wrists and was instantly soaked up by the material of her sweater sleeves. It didn’t help that the thin denim of her jeans became saturated by the cold moisture around her knees in spite of her long johns underneath, though her boots were well insulated and protected her ankles and feet.

There was always a silver lining, right?

Well, she couldn’t stay outside in these unforgiving temperatures forever. She quickly reached for the rope that was now shoulder height above her. She finally caught onto the coarse twine, but she didn’t stand. Instead, she scooted forward on her knees and reached out toward the bright light illuminating the snow like a brilliant beam driving up into the night’s sky.

Wait.

What was on top of the snow?

Blood?

Brett instinctively closed her gloved fingers into the palm of her hand. Her mind immediately rejected the grisly word it had formed, her heart breaking for whatever poor animal had been hurt in such a harsh winter storm. She couldn’t stand to think of such an innocent creature suffering in pain.

She tried to look around, but it was a futile effort.

Had the critter found shelter, food, and water?

Brett maintained her hold on the rope as she reached over the splatters of red dots for the flashlight. She followed the trail with the beam, easily making out the darker circle that had already melted the snow underneath.

That was a lot of blood for an animal.

“Shit,” Brett muttered, left with a decision that could very well be detrimental to her own health. She wanted to help whatever animal was bleeding so profusely, but she didn’t want to put herself in any danger of getting lost in the winter landscape. It could be a bunny rabbit or a doe some hunter had wounded that simply needed a bandage and some shelter in order to recover. Or it could very well be a very large black bear, in which case she would immediately regret her choice of not leaving well enough alone. “This is the kind of crap that gets me into trouble. Nothing like this would have happened in Aruba.”

Brett’s parents had to deal with more strays than any other mother and father in their old neighborhood. She really should have become a veterinarian, but teaching kids had seemed less daunting than Taming the Shrew, her ode to her favorite classic author. How wrong she’d been, but she could ruminate about her life’s choices another time. A wounded animal was somewhere close by, and she couldn’t leave them to fend for themselves in this crap.

She made a rash decision to quickly check out how far the trail of blood went with every intention of turning back once she reached the outer edge of the camp. She wouldn’t venture any farther than the back clearing the cabins were in. Taking in how far she’d already walked, Heidi or Martin’s cabin had to be to the right of her current location. Her search should be safe enough, if she discounted the fact that she was starting to shake from exposure to the cold.

The pool of blood that had soaked into the ground happened to be right underneath one of the other ropes, so Brett grabbed ahold of the thick twine and cautiously proceeded to follow the trail. She didn’t want to inadvertently stumble upon a wounded animal, so she slowed her steps. The critter would almost certainly react in defense of itself, most likely striking out at her. It wouldn’t do to have them both hurt and bleeding.

Brett couldn’t stop her teeth from chattering as the cold moisture from her denim and the wetness from the sleeves of her sweater started to soak into her skin. It didn’t help that the wind had once again picked up to a howl, propelling the little needles directly into her face. She blinked several times, unable to stop her eyes from watering as the forceful gusts refused to relent.

After halting her progress a couple of times to wipe the tears from her cheeks with the back of her gloves, she finally managed to find the end of the blood trail. Surprisingly, it was on the doorstep to one of the cabins. Had someone already taken whatever it was inside?

She lifted the flashlight and shined the beam on the assigned number.

Four.

That was Heidi’s cabin.

Brett surmised that the animal must have curled up underneath the small awning, but a slow swipe of the artificial light revealed nothing of interest.

Well, that wasn’t exactly true.

A splatter of blood was literally at the threshold of the door.

Had Heidi heard the injured animal and brought it inside?

“Heidi!” Brett called out after a couple of knocks on the door. “Heidi, open up!”

No answer.

As a matter of fact, the wind had died down and the snow appeared to be falling at a slower pace as the flakes leisurely found their home with the others on the ground. It had become eerily quiet as the echo of her voice faded in the clearing.

The smell of firewood burning drifted through the air from every direction, reminding Brett that everyone was trying to ride out the storm and stay warm. Had Heidi brought the wounded animal inside to keep it warm or had she taken it up to the main lodge?

Brett looked over her shoulder, shifting her hood after she’d released her hold on the rope. She swiped the beam of the flashlight over the area, though she found no one else around. That wasn’t surprising. All the other guests were probably enjoying a late dinner and trying to patch up Chris and Louise’s relationship so that tomorrow’s ceremony could continue without further delay.

Brett would knock one more time, just in case Heidi was still inside. She might need help bringing the little critter up to the central cabin.

“Heidi?” Brett called out with a bang of her fist to the frozen wood, certainly not expecting the door to unlatch and swing open from the simple force of her knock. She instinctively used her shoulder to push open the entrance upon sensing the heat from inside…only there was no fire. There was only darkness…and the distinct smell of copper. “Hello?”

Heidi must have already left to join the others, leaving her fire to burn itself out. Brett was well aware that leaving a roaring fire burning in the hearth when no one was present wasn’t the brightest of ideas, but this campground had no electricity at the moment. The only structure she knew of with a working generator was the main lodge, but that didn’t help the individual cabins once the main power to the camp had failed.

It also didn’t help to extinguish the strong odor of what could only be blood.

Had Heidi been unable to save the animal, or had she sought help from the others? Brett’s curiosity always got the better of her, and now was no exception to that rule. She quickly swiped her arm in one long motion, only wanting to confirm that the animal hadn’t been left behind. It took more than a few seconds for the sight before her to penetrate the deep-seated denial that her mind instantly created.

The gruesome image trying to form in her mind was of Heidi’s sightless, cloudy, dilated eyes staring directly into the beam of Brett’s flashlight, but that couldn’t be right.

Her friend couldn’t dead.

That wasn’t right.

“Heidi?” Brett took a step closer because the name falling from her lips came out as nothing but a whisper as her breath billowed in the air. Heidi wouldn’t be able to hear her. She hadn’t been loud enough to be heard properly. She cleared her throat and tried again. “Heidi?”

Brett’s boot slipped out from under her. She tried to catch her balance, but there was nothing for her to grab ahold of as she swung her arms wildly and caught nothing but air. She landed hard on her side where her hip took the brunt of her body weight. Unfortunately, her flashlight once again slipped away from her grip and rolled a couple feet away.

Panic had already started to infuse itself, because there was no way she could accept the scene which was painted in front of her. This had to be a horrible joke—a very sick and cruel joke. That didn’t stop the horror of what could possibly be reality bubble into a scream that never released. Brett was too busy scrambling for the flashlight and crawling toward the beam that was now directed toward herself.

“What—”

Brett stared in revulsion at the red, thick coagulating liquid coating her hand. She’d first thought her palms had landed in the melting snow she’d brought in with her boots, but this…this was all blood.

Heidi’s blood.

“No, no, no,” Brett chanted over and over as she finally picked up the flashlight and swung the light back toward Heidi.

Was this real?

Oh, my God!

Heidi’s lips were parted as if she were silently screaming, while her eyes were trained on something no one on this earth could possibly see. Her normally ivory white skin had lost its vibrancy, reminding Brett of the glue her class used to make arts and crafts. She’d never be able to glue glitter on construction paper again without recalling this grisly image.

Blue. The color of Heidi’s lips and her discernable veins were blue.

Her friend was almost certainly dead.

And the blood.

There was so much blood.

Brett swallowed against the bile in her throat as she attempted to stand without falling. She recognized the need to call for help, but she couldn’t get her body to agree to move. No one would hear her anyway.

All she could manage to do was stare in horror at…death.

Death had come knocking without a wedding invitation.

Heidi was too young to have her life cut so short.

Terror unlike anything Brett had ever experienced settled over her like a cold blanket at the thought that someone had done this to Heidi. There had been no wounded animal. The blood outside had been Heidi’s and someone had brought her inside to bleed out.

Icy spindles wrapped themselves around Brett as she finally grasped the understanding that this hadn’t been an accident.

Someone had done this to her friend.

Someone had committed murder so far away from the rest of the world.

And that someone had to still be here in the campground, trapped by the storm…trapped here with her.

* * * *

He hadn’t had time to finish what he’d started.

Anger morphed into rage, but he had no outlet.

Not now that the body had been discovered.

That had been taken from him the moment Brettany Lambert had walked into Heidi’s cabin. He’d been trying to cover the tread of the boot marks he’d left in the snow when he’d heard a muffled cry, alerting him to the fact that he hadn’t been alone anymore.

Brettany had walked right by him, not even realizing she had been arm’s length away from the sharp blade of his knife. He should have stabbed her then and there, dropping her in the snow.

Now, he had to watch from afar as the beam from her flashlight finally faded from his sight as she entered Heidi’s cabin. He waited in the darkness for the satisfying scream to carry through the air.

It took longer than he thought it would.

 

About Kennedy Layne

Kennedy Layne is a USA Today bestselling author. She draws inspiration for her military romantic suspense novels in part from her not-so-secret second life as a wife of a retired Marine Master Sergeant. He doubles as her critique partner, beta reader, and military consultant. They live in the Midwest with their teenage son and menagerie of pets. The loyal dogs and mischievous cats appreciate her writing days as much as she does, usually curled up in front of the fireplace. She loves hearing from readers–find out how to connect with her at www.kennedylayne.com.

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Cold Malice by Toni Anderson Release Day Blitz

COLD MALICE by Toni Anderson is available today! Romantic suspense lovers won’t want to miss this next riveting installment in her Cold Justice series. Find out more about COLD MALICE, read an excerpt below, and pick up your copy today!

 


About COLD MALICE

ASAC Steve (Mac) McKenzie is out to prove himself by leading a task force investigating a series of murders in the heart of Washington, DC. His undercover work in an antigovernment compound twenty years earlier is related—as is the sweet, innocent girl he befriended back then. Now that girl is a beautiful woman, and she has something to hide.

Tess Fallon spent a lifetime trying to outrun her family’s brand of bigotry, but someone is threatening her anonymity by using the anniversary of her father’s death to carry out evil crimes and she’s terrified her younger brother is involved. She sets out to find the truth and comes face-to-face with a man she once idolized, a man she thought long dead. As the crimes escalate it becomes obvious the killer has an agenda, and Tess and Mac are running out of time to stop him.

Will the perpetrator use a decades-old dream of revolution to attack the federal government? And will the fact that Tess and Mac have fallen hard for each other give a cold-hearted killer the power to destroy them both?

Add COLD MALICE to your Goodreads list here!

 

 

Get your hands on COLD MALICE now:

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Read an excerpt from COLD MALICE:

He sat in his car, staring at the house, knowing she was inside watching him right back.

The unexpected attraction had caught him off guard. He’d forgotten what it felt like to actually want someone. But he couldn’t afford to start something with the daughter of one of the most notorious white supremacist leaders in history. That would not look great on his résumé.

That stupid hug had knocked him off balance and made him sit here like a damn stalker. He’d hoped to neutralize some of the antagonism his turning up out of the blue had created and keep her onside should he need her help in the future. But now the fresh scent of her shampoo invaded his nostrils, and the feel of her soft skin tantalized his senses. The sight of her in that damp robe— knowing that she was naked underneath— had distracted the hell out of him. And damned if that embrace hadn’t felt like coming home.

Chances were she wasn’t involved in the current murders. It didn’t seem likely that an accountant, raised by a woman of color, would turn around and start killing people based on her daddy’s evil doctrine. But who knew? He’d seen crazier things in his career. Tomorrow he’d check out her alibi and cross her off his to-do list.

More’s the pity.

And so what if his mind turned dirty. It wasn’t going to lead anywhere. She was off limits. And he was in control of his wants and needs.

 

 

See the COLD MALICE trailer:

Did you know the first book in the Cold Justice series is available for free? Get your hands on A COLD DARK PLACE!

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About Toni Anderson

New York Times and USA Today international bestselling author, Toni Anderson, writes dark, gritty Romantic Suspense novels that have hit #1 in Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, the Top 10 in Amazon and Kobo stores, and the Top 50 in iBooks. Her novels have won many awards. A former Marine Biologist from Britain, she inexplicably ended up in the geographical center of North America, about as far from the ocean as it is possible to get. She now lives in the Canadian prairies with her Irish husband and two children and spends most of her time complaining about the weather.

Toni has no explanation for her oft-times dark imagination, and only hopes the romance makes up for it. She’s addicted to reading, dogs, tea, and chocolate.

If you want to know when Toni’s next book will be out, visit her website (http://www.toniandersonauthor.com) and sign up for her newsletter. If you want to read other fascinating stories about life in a city that, during winter, is sometimes colder than Mars, friend her on Facebook: (https://www.facebook.com/toniannanderson).

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