Saturday, 24 February 2018

#BlogTour The Fourth Gunman by John Lansing @jelansing @partnersincr1me

The Fourth Gunman by John Lansing
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

VThe Fourth Gunman by John Lansing Tour Banner

The Fourth Gunman

by John Lansing

on Tour February 19 - March 24, 2018


Synopsis:

The Fourth Gunman by John Lansing

From the best selling author of The Devil’s Necktie, and Blond Cargo comes the latest title in the Jack Bertolino series.


Retired inspector Jack Bertolino straddles two perilous worlds. Known for his impeccable police work, Jack has also done a priceless favor for an infamous Mafia Don: he saved the gangster’s kidnapped daughter from being sold into the sex trade, and brought her safely home.

In Jack’s line of work, he can’t help but have friends—and enemies—on both sides of the law.

So when FBI agent Luke Hunter goes missing after a deep undercover assignment with that same mob boss, the FBI calls Jack in, looking for a favor. With his connections and skills, Jack’s the only man for the job: find Luke Hunter, dead or alive.

The Mobster operates an illegal gambling yacht in international waters off of Southern California, and when Luke went missing, so did half a million dollars of the mob's money. As Jack dives into the case, he’ll learn the true mystery isn’t the agent’s disappearance, but something far more ominous…

The Fourth Gunman is a sizzling action-packed thriller that will keep you turning pages until the explosive finale.

Book Details:

Genre: Crime/Thriller
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Number of Pages: 375 (estimated)
ISBN: 1501189530 (ISBN13: 9781501189531)
Series: Jack Bertolino, 4 | Each is a Stand Alone Novel
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & Goodreads

Book Review:


As a new reader to this series was I curious to see how reading this book without having read the previous three books. I'm glad to say that I found both the plot interesting and the characters well-developed. 

Retired inspector Jack Bertolino as approved by FBI to find Luke Hunter, a missing agent, who has gone missing during an undercover mission. One of the FBI agents that wants him to find the missing man is Luke's sister. The problem is that not only is Luke missing, but so is half a million dollar that belongs to the mob. So, has the skipped town with the money, or has someone gotten rid of him because of the money?

There is not a big mystery to what happened to Luke, the story starts off with explaining that and then it's up to Jack to figure it out. I liked the start of the book, it has that kind of intense start that I love in books when you get thrown into the story right from the very start. I usually like more mysterious kind of books, when the identity of the villain(s) are unknown, but I did enjoy knowing from the start who not to trust as Jack had to figure it out for himself. And, just because you know certain fact doesn't it mean that you know all of it.

Jack Bertolino is the kind of characters that I liked right from the start and he's definitely the kind of character that makes me curious to read the other books to get to know him better. His "relationship" with Angelica, for instance, is turbulent and unwise since she is the daughter of a Mafia Don. However, that fact also makes the book more interesting to read.

I will definitely be on the lookout for the other books in the series!

Read an excerpt:

One

Luke Hunter sat hunched over a tight built-in desk in the cabin of a weathered thirty-six-foot catamaran docked in Marina del Rey. His fingers flew over the keyboard of a MacBook Pro. There had been one amber sconce illuminating the cabin before he broke in to the vessel, but now the laptop computer was throwing more light than he was comfortable with. At two a.m., all was quiet on the dock, but Luke was running late and still had another stop to make before he could call it a night.
Luke’s hair was short, brown, and unruly, his Italian eyes smoky, his beard dark and in need of a shave. His angular face was set with determination as he slipped a flash drive into the computer, tapped a few keys, and hit Copy, hoping to make short work of his theft.
The cabin was teak, and brass, and well worn. Rolled navigational charts littered the cramped workspace but didn’t intrude on the comfortable living quarters and the bunk that occupied the bow of the catamaran.
Luke spun in the chair, unraveled specific charts on the bed, snapped photos with his iPhone, and stowed the maps back where he’d found them. He had a theory as to why so many of the charts were focused on the waters in and around the Farallon Islands, off the coast of San Francisco, and hoped the computer files would corroborate his suspicions.
He took pictures of the scuba tanks, masks, flippers, speargun, and weight belts that were stowed aft. The galley was diminutive but efficient. A few potted succulents and fresh herbs on a shelf above the sink lent a feminine touch to the nautical surroundings. Nothing of interest there.
Luke heard the screech of the rusted security gate that led from the parking lot to the yachts and immediately shut down the computer, pocketed the flash drive, and closed the lid, tamping out the light.
He hoped it was just another liveaboard moored at the same dock, returning home after a night on the town. But he spun in place, laced his hands behind his head, and stretched out his legs, facing the teak steps that led from the stern into the cabin, ready to talk his way out of a dicey spot if necessary. It would be uncomfortable but doable. He set his face into a gotcha grin, ready to go on the offensive. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
The boat rocked slightly, the slippered footfalls nearly silent as a woman made her descent into the body of the vessel. Silk drawstring pants hugged her willowy frame as she stepped off the wooden stairway and seemed to suck all the air out of the cabin.
Roxy Donnelly had straight red hair that kissed her collarbone and parted in the middle, and a light feathering of freckles on her cheeks and chest. Her hazel eyes bore in to Luke’s, assessing the situation. She came to a conclusion and—without speaking—told him everything a man wanted to hear from a woman.
Roxy was backlit, her figure silhouetted in a diaphanous white blouse. Luke could see she was braless, and his heart quickened. Her nipples rippled the fabric, and sparks spread to Luke’s chest and down to his groin. As he became aroused, he found himself at a loss for words. No mafioso cracking wise, only deep breathing trying to hide his visceral reaction to the danger of her unexpected arrival. The cabin seemed to become tighter still, if that was possible, until Roxy broke the silence.
“I knew you were smarter than you looked.” If she was aware that Luke had raided her computer, she gave no indication or surprise at his presence. “You saw the schedule, Trent’s on call.”
She stepped closer and Luke found himself on his feet. “I made the schedule,” he said.
Roxy stepped so close their noses touched. He could feel her breath. The light scent of perfume was intoxicating. She reached down and touched his erection, stoking the fire. “I know what you drink, but I don’t know how you like it.”
“Any way you serve it,” Luke said, his voice deep, throaty, and bedroom. He knew he should hit the road but stood transfixed.
Roxy took his hand, squeezed it, and led him to the queen-size bunk in the rear of the cabin. “Get comfortable.”
She stepped into the galley, poured two glasses of Scotch, neat, kicked off her slipper shoes, and glided barefoot to the bed, handing Luke his drink. They clinked and each took a deep sip, never breaking eye contact.
Roxy set her glass down, slowly unbuttoned her blouse, and shrugged out of it, revealing sheer perfection. A dancer’s body. Compact upright breasts, a narrow sculpted waist, and a sapphire-pierced belly button. She tossed the blouse onto the chair Luke had been sitting in, leaned over him, and unbuckled his belt more roughly than he would have expected.
Luke might have received a reality check, but by the time his cell phone buzzed in his pants pocket, they were hanging over the chair.
“You’re not upset?” he said, a statement of fact.
“You should’ve called first, but it was inevitable. It was perfect the first time. We work too hard for no pleasure. Roll over, I’m good with my hands.”
No argument from Luke, who pulled off his gray crewneck and tossed it on the chair. He eased onto his stomach carefully because he was sporting a blazing hard-on.
Roxy was fully engaged. She lit a candle, then raked his back with her fingernails, the brief contact from her nipples as she leaned over him burning a trail from his neck down to his waist. As she straddled Luke, he felt her heat and let out a husky groan.
Roxy started on his lower back and slowly worked her way up his spine, compressing with thumbs and forefingers every third vertebrae until she reached his neck.
“You are good,” he murmured.
By the time Luke realized cold steel was pressed against the back of his head and not her thumbs, he was dead.
The explosion of the hammer striking the .22 round in her derringer created a blinding electric flash behind Luke’s eyes. The bullet rattled around his skull, tearing up brain matter, until his world turned pitch-black.
Roxy jumped off the bed, grabbed a plastic garbage bag out of the galley, pulled it over Luke’s head, and cinched it around his neck to catch any blood evidence. She picked up her cell and hit Speed Dial.
“Trent. We’ve got a situation,” and Roxy gave him the rapid-fire shorthand version while she rifled through Luke’s pants and billfold, her voice devoid of emotion. Her body vibrated uncontrollably as adrenaline coursed through her nervous system. She dropped Luke’s keys and willed her hands to stop shaking as she placed his cell phone and the flash drive next to her laptop. “I’ll clean things up on the home front, you keep your ears open and get a feel for the play at your end. Stay on shift—Shut the fuck up and let me talk!” And then in a tight whisper, “I killed a man, okay? I’ve had better nights. Okay, okay, but only text if you sense movement in our direction.” Roxy was unraveling. “You won’t hear from me again until, until, shit, Trent, until I call you.”
Roxy snapped out the light and walked over to the door and tried to still her breathing as she sucked in the thick sea air and listened for any movement on the dock. Water lapping against hulls and nylon lines clanking on aluminum masts were the only early-morning sounds. If not for the dead body lying on her bunk, it would almost be peaceful.
Roxy got down on her hands and knees and scrabbled around until she came up with the keys she’d dropped. She sat on the edge of the bed and made a mental list of what she had to accomplish. Sucked in a breath, nodded, and went into action.
Roxy pulled the duvet cover over Luke’s body and changed into jeans and black T-shirt and black running shoes. She grabbed a pair of thin cotton gloves and shrugged into Trent’s oversize black hoodie.
She rifled through the junk drawer and pulled out a roll of blue painter’s tape, took a credit card and the cash out of Luke’s wallet and added it to her own, and ran out of the catamaran, locking the door behind her.
*****
Roxy pulled the hood over her red hair and slipped on the gloves as she ran up the dock and out through the chain-link security gate.
There was a smattering of cars in the lot, and Roxy started hitting the button on the remote-entry key for Luke’s car but got no response. She knew Luke drove a black Camaro but was at a loss. She spun in place and felt like she was going to explode. She turned off the emotion, knowing that if she didn’t fly right, she was as good as dead.
She jogged over to the next lot that was half full and tried the key again. Nothing. Roxy fought to suck down the bile and panic that threatened to overwhelm her. She ran up and down three rows of cars. Still nothing. She pounded toward the apartment complex across the street.
Roxy heard the ding before she found the car.
Luke had parked in the open lot that serviced the channel on the other side of the road. Mercury-vapor security lamps provided ambient light. Roxy checked the license plate and went to work.
She pulled out the tape and ripped off a small strip, turning a 1 into a 7. She tore off two smaller strips and changed a second 1 to a 4. She repeated the task on the front plate and dove, flattening herself on the rocky macadam surface, as a car drove up the street.
A black-and-white rolled onto the lot, its tires crackling over the uneven surface. The cop car did a silent drive past her aisle, slowed, then moved up to the far end of the lot, turned left, and back out onto the street.
Time seemed to stand still, but the pounding of Roxy’s heart reminded her that the clock was ticking and daylight would be her enemy. She grabbed a handful of dirt from the ground and wiped it onto the license plate with one eye peeled for the cop car. She did the same with the rear plate, obscuring some of her handiwork. After the cop car made his final pass down the street and disappeared onto the main drag, Roxy jumped behind the wheel of the Camaro, adjusted the seat and mirror, put on a pair of dark glasses, and rumbled out of the parking lot.
*****
It took sixteen minutes to get from the marina to long-term parking at LAX. The black Camaro had black-tinted windows, and when Roxy pulled into the lot, hit the button, grabbed a ticket, and waited for the electronic arm to rise, she had her hood pulled tight, her dark sunglasses in place, and her head tilted down. If there had been a security camera at play, all it would’ve recorded was the top of a dark hoodie.
The lot was huge. Roxy motored to the far end and parked between two large SUVs that all but swallowed Luke’s low-slung muscle car. She checked the glove compartment to see if there was anything worth taking, or revealing as to Luke’s true purpose, snooping in the wrong place at the wrong time. She found the car’s registration and proof of insurance and pocketed the documents in the hope that it might slow the inquiry sure to follow. She hit the button that opened the trunk, readjusted the driver’s seat, locked the doors, and exited the vehicle.
A salmon glow pulsed above the horizon, a warm-up for the main event. The adrenaline had worn off, and Roxy was so tired she could have slept standing up. What she saw when she looked in the trunk got her heart pounding and her head spinning again. A large leather satchel on wheels, filled with cash. More cash than Roxy had ever seen in her twenty-seven years on God’s planet. It was Mafia money. The weekend’s take from the illegal gambling yacht where she bartended. She zippered the bag and slammed the trunk shut. She didn’t need any more heat than she’d already generated.
Roxy took a few steps away, spun back, opened the trunk, grabbed the satchel, and started wheeling it down the long row of cars toward the shuttle that arrived every fifteen minutes. She’d take the short ride to Tom Bradley International Terminal, where she planned on using Luke’s credit card at a McDonald’s to create a paper trail.
Inherent problems were created by taking the Mafia’s money, but leaving it would have been a major fuckup. A man on the run would never leave without the cash.
*****
Two black stretch limos roared into the parking lot at Long Beach Shoreline Marina, adjacent to the Bella Fortuna. Doors flew open, and eight men exited the vehicles, ran across the lot, and pounded up the yacht’s gangplank, disappearing into the body of the luxury craft.
A somber Tony-the-Man stood at the railing on the main deck and looked down as Vincent Cardona stepped out of the lead car and walked slowly up the gangplank. The two men locked eyes for what seemed to Tony like an eternity before Cardona boarded the ship.
Heads would roll, and Tony instinctively rubbed his neck— his was at the top of the list.
*****
The yellow cab let Roxy off at the Admiralty Club in Marina del Rey. She paid the driver with cash and waited until he was gone before walking next door to the Killer Shrimp Diner, where she was a regular and knew the kitchen was open twenty-four/seven. She peeled off her sunglasses, pulled the hood back, and shook out her startling red hair.
Roxy forced herself to eat scrambled eggs, bacon, and buttered toast, generating an alibi with her own credit card receipt. She paid up and rolled the satchel, laden with cash, down the sidewalk and the half-mile trek to her catamaran as the sun breached the Santa Monica Mountains behind her.

Two

Twenty-four hours had passed since the death of Luke Hunter, and the weather had turned nasty. The sea was whitecapped, the crescent moon blanketed by a thick marine layer. A perfect night for what Roxy and Trent had to accomplish.
A perfect night to dump a body.
Trent was piloting the catamaran, heading south toward the San Pedro Channel and powered by the auxiliary engine. He knew the depth of the basin was good for at least 2,250 feet. He’d studied the charts, set the GPS, and they were just a few minutes from their destination.
Trent looked right at home, almost regal, standing behind the wheel of the craft that bucked, rolled, and cut through the waves, never veering off course. He was a Saudi national and a U.S. citizen, raised in the States from the age of eight, so he had no discernible accent. He was twenty-eight years old, with a boyish open face, a buffed physique, a swarthy complexion, buzz-cut brown hair, and gray eyes that could set Roxy’s heart thrumming. A finely inked tiger ran the length of one muscled forearm, the tattooed claws drawing red blood.
Roxy stepped out of the cabin and carefully made her way behind him, wrapped her arms around his six-pack, and leaned her cheek against his back, trying to still the beating of her heart.
Trent gave her hand a firm squeeze before grabbing the wheel with both hands. “You’re a brave woman, Roxy,” he shouted over his shoulder, fighting the howling wind. “A warrior.”
The moment he announced they were approaching their destination, the GPS system gave off a shrill cry. The night was black; there were no other boats in the area, no container ships navigating the channel. It was time to get to work. He shut off the engine, locked the wheel, and lowered himself into the cabin, followed by Roxy.
Luke, head still covered with the plastic garbage bag, was dressed in nothing but his briefs. He’d been rolled onto the cabin floor; his body lay on top of the duvet cover.
Trent grabbed two fifty-pound diving belts from their scuba gear and carried them up to the main deck. Roxy handed a twenty-five-pounder through the hatch. Trent ran back down, wrapped Luke’s body tightly in the blanket, and, with Roxy’s help, dragged his deadweight up the stairs and onto the aft deck behind the wheelhouse.
Trent pulled back the duvet and fastened one belt, cinched it tight around Luke’s waist, and then made short work of the second. He grabbed the twenty-five-pound belt, wrapped it twice around Luke’s neck, and secured it. Postmortem lividity had turned Luke’s back, buttocks, and legs a blackish-purple where the blood had settled.
Trent pulled the duvet taut, rolling Luke’s body over, and ripped a cut from top to bottom on the garbage bag so it would disengage after splashdown and be dragged out to sea. He worried it might fill with air as the corpse decomposed, and drag the body to the surface.
Roxy steeled herself as she looked down at Luke. His face was bone-white, his eyes devoid of color, just a thick opaque film. If there was one life lesson she had learned from her father, it was to meet trouble head-on. Never roll over, never look back, and never run. She swallowed her rising bile and choked, “Do it.”
Trent grabbed both ends of the blanket and muscled Luke’s body with 125 pounds of lead weights off the stern of the catamaran, tossing the duvet into the chop behind him.
Roxy and Trent stood shoulder to shoulder as they watched Luke float for a second and then slip below the water’s surface; they were confident he was permanently buried at sea and they could move forward with their plan.

Three

Day One
Retired Inspector Jack Bertolino was sitting in the nosebleed seats at Klein Field at Sunken Diamond, Stanford University’s baseball stadium, in Northern California. The sun was blinding, the sky ultra-blue, the wisp of cirrus clouds as white as cotton. The old-growth pepper trees surrounding the field swayed in the light breeze carrying the scent of eucalyptus and fresh-mowed grass, taking some of the heat off the early-September afternoon.
Jack had his eyes closed behind his Ray-Bans, taking in the sounds of the college baseball game, now in the eighth inning, being played in the stadium below. His hair was dark brown verging on black, with strands of silver feathering the temples, and worn long enough to threaten his collar. His angular face was weathered from years doing undercover narcotics work on the streets of NYC, and his tan only served to accentuate the scars from hard-fought battles. A bump on his otherwise straight Roman nose, a gift from a crack dealer, buffered some of Jack’s innate intensity. At six-two and big-boned, Jack had a tight fit in the stadium seating, but the sound of the hard ball slamming into leather, the crack of the bat, the umpire’s barked calls, and the emotion of the crowd made it a perfect day. Took him back to his youth playing the game on Staten Island, where he had raised his son, Chris.
There was a chance Chris was going to pitch for the first time since the attempt on his life that had shattered his throwing arm nine months earlier. Jack wouldn’t have missed seeing his son in action again for the world. It hadn’t been an easy recovery for the young man, physically or mentally, and Jack tried to keep his own emotions in check. He didn’t want his heavy feelings to pull Chris down.
Jack was jolted out of his reverie as a trim man wearing a light-weight gray suit and dark aviator sunglasses, with zero body fat and white brush-cut hair, banged against his knees as he moved down the aisle, finally dropping into the seat directly to Jack’s right.
An attractive, serious woman wearing an equally professional gray pantsuit, with a jacket cut large enough to accommodate her shoulder rig and 9mm, made her way up his aisle. There was something about a woman and a gun that was a turn-on for Jack. Or maybe it was her shoulder-length auburn hair that shone as bright as her mirrored sunglasses. She head-tossed her hair off her face as she took the seat to Jack’s left, feigning interest in the game.
Jack wasn’t surprised by the untimely visit; he had made the feds on his flight from LAX and been waiting for them to play their hand.
“To what do I deserve the honor?” he said, his eyes lasered on the game as the Ohio State Buckeyes headed for the bench and the Stanford Cardinals ran onto the field. Chris had been in the bullpen warming up for the past twenty minutes but remained sidelined; the game was tied three to three at the top of the ninth, and it seemed unlikely he’d be called to play.
“I couldn’t do it,” the female FBI agent said, her eyes never leaving the field. Jack didn’t respond, so she continued, “Come to the game if it were my kid. Too much pressure.” Her voice carried an easy strength, and she wasn’t going to be deterred by his silence. “Especially with all your boy has been through,” letting Jack know he had no secrets from the FBI.
Ohio pounded a ball toward the left-field fence. The batter shot by first and was held up on second by the third-base coach.
It never surprised Jack how much the government knew about civilians’ lives, but his son was sacrosanct. And he knew if he spoke right away, he might not be able to control his growing anger at the personal violation.
The male agent, picking up on Jack’s energy, took off his glasses and proffered his hand. “Special Agent Ted Flannery.” He looked to be pushing fifty but had the body and vigor of a thirty-year-old. “Sorry for the intrusion, Jack, but we’ve come to ask for your help.” Flannery’s hand hung in midair until it became clear Jack wasn’t going to respond. Undaunted, the agent went on, “You’ve had a good relationship with the FBI throughout your career, Jack, and beyond. It’s been duly noted and appreciated, and because of your recent history, you’re in a unique position to be of service.”
“What do you need?” Jack asked, giving away nothing.
“Vincent Cardona,” the female agent said, answering his question. “You visited his home in Beverly Hills on the seventh of May. You were on Cardona’s payroll, hired to find his daughter, Angelica Marie, who’d been kidnapped. An altercation occurred. You slammed Cardona up against the wall, Peter Maniacci drew down on you, and Cardona’s cousin Frankie, with two other gunmen on his heels, ran out of the kitchen, ready to shoot you dead if ordered.”
“You wired the house?” Jack asked.
“Cardona’s too smart for that. He does a sweep once a week. No . . .” She paused for effect. “The fourth gunman was an FBI agent.”
The level of intensity in her tone wasn’t lost on Jack. She had referred to her agent in the past tense, but there was something more. Something unspoken, Jack thought.
Ohio thundered a ball over the fence for a two-run homer. Jack’s body tensed as the coach walked onto the field, huddled with the pitcher and catcher, and signaled toward the sidelines.
Chris Bertolino, number 11, ran out onto the mound and tossed a few back and forth with the catcher as the field was cleared and the game resumed. At six-two, Chris was as tall as Jack, but lean and rangy with sandy brown hair, a gift from his mother’s side of the family.
Jack raised his hand to his lips, and the feds let him concentrate on the game. They knew Bertolino wasn’t a man who could be pressured, and understood the personal significance of this moment.
Chris sucked in a deep breath, nodded to the catcher, and unloaded. His first pitch flew high on the outside. Ball one.
His second pitch went wide. Ball two.
The third pitch was hit. A sizzling line drive caught by the shortstop. First out.
The catcher walked out to the mound, whispered a few words to Chris, and resumed his position behind home plate.
Chris nodded, his game face on. If nerves were at play, he showed nothing to his opponent. He wound up and fired a fast-ball. Strike one. He denied the first two signals from the catcher and threw a second blistering pitch. Strike two. The crowd in the stands started to get loud. Chris tossed a slider, wide. The batter reached, fanned for the ball, and came up empty. Strike three.
The stadium erupted as the second batter stepped into the dugout and tossed his helmet in disgust.
The crowd started chanting and Jack’s stomach tightened. The lanky Buckeye leadoff batter made a big show of whipping his bat to loosen up before flashing a dead eye toward Chris, hocking a loogie onto the red clay, and stepping up to the plate.
Chris smoked a fastball.
The batter swung and made contact. The ball took a short hop and was plucked up by the second baseman, who threw Ohio out at first.
The crowd leaped to its feet as Chris led the team off the field, having stopped the flow of blood.
Jack let out a long, even breath, trying to slow his beating heart.
Chris never made it to bat. The first three Stanford starters were struck out in succession.
Stanford lost the game five to three, but it was a personal triumph for Chris, and Jack wished he were alone to savor the moment.
“I’ve got to get down to my boy,” he said to the female agent, who seemed to be in charge.
“Our agent disappeared three weeks ago,” she said, clearly un-willing to relinquish the moment. “He was deep undercover, and we believe he was on to something major. He never checked in, never filed a final report.”
“You should call in the cops.”
“We won’t jeopardize the case we’ve built against Vincent Cardona.”
“I’ve been down that rabbit hole,” Jack said, ending their impromptu meeting. “Don’t want anything to do with the man.” He stepped past the woman.
“Jack,” she said. The undercurrent in her voice, a sadness, struck a chord and turned him in place. She reached out with her card and looked up to lock eyes with him. “Liz Hunter. Think about it, Jack, and call me. Any time.” And then, “We could use your help.” Agent Hunter wore light makeup on her clear tanned skin. She couldn’t have been over thirty, but her wide forehead was etched with fine worry lines. The hazards of the job, Jack decided. Her cheekbones were high and strong, her figure athletic, her slender, elegant neck tilted slightly to make her point. Jack found himself wondering what her eyes looked like.
“Why should I get involved?”
“The missing agent is my brother.”
Jack nodded, took the card, turned, and made his way down the steep concrete steps toward the Cardinals locker room.
***
Excerpt from The Fourth Gunman by John Lansing. Copyright © 2017 by John Lansing. Reproduced with permission from John Lansing. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

John Lansing
Best-selling author John Lansing started his career as an actor in New York City. He spent a year at the Royale Theatre performing the lead in the Broadway production of “Grease” before putting together a rock ‘n’ roll band and playing the iconic club CBGB.

Lansing closed up his Tribeca loft and headed for the West Coast where he landed a co-starring role in George Lucas’ “More American Graffiti,” and guest-starred on numerous television shows.

During his fifteen-year writing career, Lansing wrote and produced “Walker Texas Ranger,” co-wrote two CBS Movies of the Week, and co-executive produced the ABC series “Scoundrels.”

John’s first book was Good Cop Bad Money, a true crime tome he co-wrote with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano.

The Devil’s Necktie, his first Jack Bertolino novel, became a best seller on Barnes & Noble and hit #1 in Amazon’s Kindle store in the Crime Fiction genre.

Jack Bertolino returns in John’s fourth novel, "The Fourth Gunman."
A native of Long Island, John now resides in Los Angeles.

Catch Up With John On www.johnlansing.net, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!


Tour Participants:

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Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for John Lansing. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com gift Card. The giveaway begins on February 19 and ends on March 25, 2018.
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#BlogTour Lord Ravenscar’s Inconvenient Betrothal by Lara Temple @laratemple1 @rararesources


“Women either ran from Lord Ravenscar or ran to him.”

A Wild Lords and Innocent Ladies story

Alan Rothwell, Marquess of Ravenscar, is furious when unconventional heiress Lily Wallace refuses him purchase of her property. He can’t even win her over with his infamous charm. But when fever seizes him and they’re trapped together, horrified, Alan realizes Lily’s attentions will compromise them both! His solution: take Lily as his betrothed before desire consumes them completely…

Purchase Link: myBook.to/Ravenscar


Author Spotlight


‘Where do you get your inspiration?’ Is always a tough question for me: it never follows the same path and it can truly come out of nowhere (or everywhere). One of my books was inspired by watching a rather elderly pug waddle down the street, pausing to plump itself down every few yards with all the gravitas of a dog who has decided the world would have to move before he did. That moment the image came into my mind of a young woman charged with exercising a portly pug trying to beg, bribe, berate him into action (he became Marmaduke in my third book – The Duke’s Unexpected Bride). 

Another was inspired by a scene that came to me, literally, at 4am (some of my best inspiration times, which is hard on my sleep patterns). I woke up with an image of a man entering a library where a young woman brandishing a mace is standing amidst a pile of scattered books (this became the opening scene in my current Lord Ravenscar’s Inconvenient Betrothal). 

These flashes of images and scenes often start me on a path that I have to follow. I am, quite simply, hooked and I put all my creative juices to work so I can find out ‘what happened next.’ In this sense I am really inspired by curiosity about my own characters. I am a complete pantser (vs. plotter). I love not knowing what my characters are going to do next – some of my best scenes (I think) are those that were a complete surprise to me and I actually go back to them and wonder a little where they came from. It’s like I sometimes look at my kids and am a little dumbfounded at how amazing they are (when they aren’t driving me up a wall, of course) and I wonder – could they possibly have come from me? 

But though I’m guided by these moments of inspiration, now that I write professionally there are always several points in my writing when I stop and take stock – when the story and characters are strong enough already to stand up to criticism and then I sit down and write an outline and begin to see what is working and what isn’t and then I go back to some more (now informed) pantsing. This is often the hardest part of my writing – it is stepping outside the fun and the flow and taking a deep and responsible look at what I am trying to say. This is also the stage when I sit down and start doing the research that the story requires. I studied history and specialized in 19th century history and read history books all the time so I draw on my general knowledge but there is always more I need to uncover – what types of looms, names of racing horses, diplomatic intrigues and causes of political unrest, current gothic novels, what paintings were exhibited during the Summer Exhibition that year, and a million other esoteric facts. This is a dangerous phase – I disappear down so many fascinating rabbit holes, it’s a miracle I find my way back to doing the actual writing!

There is one last thing I’d like to say about inspiration: if you really want to write, don’t wait for inspiration! For years I thought I would have to wait for a grand idea to become a decent author and as a result I did nothing with my writing. It was only when I had a gun to my head that I actually competed a book. Prodded by my mother I found myself committed to submit a compete manuscript for the SYTYCW writing contest. There was no time to wait for inspiration – I just gritted my teeth and wrote, wrote, wrote. I think inspiration is not a reliable driver for writing, but a wagon that tags along once you are going at full speed. If you have something interesting to say, it will (eventually) come out in your writing.


Author Bio


Lara Temple writes strong, sexy regency romances about complex individuals who give no quarter but do so with plenty of passion. Her fifth book with Harlequin Mills & Boon, 'Lord Ravenscar’s Inconvenient Betrothal,' will be published in March 2018, and is the second in her Wild Lords series. Her four previous books are: Lord Hunter's Cinderella Heiress, The Duke’s Unexpected Bride, The Reluctant Viscount, and Lord Crayle’s Secret World.

When she was fifteen Lara found a very grubby copy of Georgette Heyer’s Faro’s Daughter in an equally grubby book store. Several blissful hours later she emerged, blinking, into the light of day completely in love with Regency Romance but it took three decades of various fascinating but completely unrelated careers in finance and high tech before she returned to her first love.

Lara lives with her husband and two children who are very good about her taking over the kitchen table for her writing (so she can look out over the garden and dream). She loves to travel (especially to places steeped in history) and read as many books as possible. She recently went looking for that crowded little bookstore but couldn’t quite remember around what corner it was…hopefully it is still there and another girl is in the corner by the window, reading and dreaming…

Social Media Links


Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/2mWin9R

Giveaway – Win 3 x e-copies of Lord Ravenscar’s Inconvenient Betrothal (Open Internationally)


Thursday, 22 February 2018

#BookReview Don't Look For Me by Mason Cross @MasonCrossBooks @FreshFiction #FFreview

Don't Look For Me by Mason Cross
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Six years ago, the woman Carter Blake loved disappeared and told him not to ever look for her. For six long years, he kept that promise. She was a woman on the run — a woman with a secret many would kill for. It was better that she stay hidden.

But now someone else is looking for her. Trenton Gage is a hitman with a talent for finding people — dead or alive. And his next job is to track down the woman Carter Blake once loved, a woman on the run. With both men hunting the same person, the question is: Who will find her first?

A riveting new thriller from Mason Cross, ideal for readers of David Baldacci, Linwood Barclay, and Mark Billingham.


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Carter Blake gets an email from a concerned neighbor of a couple that has gone missing and the cops are not doing a thing to find them since they don't suspect a crime has been committed. In their opinion have they left of their own free will. All that is left is a notebook with an email address to write to in case of emergency. In the email is a photo of the couple that has gone missing and Blake sees that it's Carol, the woman he loved and lost six years ago. The woman that left a note telling him "don't look for me." Something has scared away Carol and her husband and Blake, together with Susan, the neighbor, decides to find out what. Susan and Blake find a clue in the notebook that leads them to a ghost town. But, they are not the only ones looking for Carol and her husband...

READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION!

#CoverCrush A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler

For new visitors do I want to explain that Cover Crush is something that my friend Erin over at Flashlight Commentary came up with and I adopted the idea together with some other friends. And, now we try to put up a Cover Crush every week. You can check below my pick of the week for their choices this week!


The riveting novel of iron-willed Alva Vanderbilt and her illustrious family in as they rule Gilded-Age New York, from the New York Times bestselling author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.

In 1883, the New York Times prints a lengthy rave of Alva Vanderbilt’s Fifth Ave. costume ball—a coup for the former Alva Smith, who not long before was destitute, her family’s good name useless on its own. Marrying into the newly rich but socially scorned Vanderbilt clan, a union contrived by Alva’s best friend and now-Duchess of Manchester, saved the Smiths—and elevated the Vanderbilts.

From outside, Alva seems to have it all and want more. She does have a knack for getting all she tries for: the costume ball—no mere amusement—wrests acceptance from doyenne Caroline Astor. Denied a box at the Academy of Music, Alva founds The Met. No obstacle puts her off for long.

But how much of ambition arises from insecurity? From despair? From refusal to play insipid games by absurd rules? —There are, however, consequences to breaking those rules. One must tread carefully.

And what of her maddening sister-in-law Alice? Her husband William, who’s hiding a terrible betrayal? The not-entirely-unwelcome attentions of his friend Oliver Belmont, who is everything William is not? Her own best friend, whose troubles cast a wide net?

Alva will build mansions, push boundaries, test friendships, and marry her daughter to England’s most eligible duke or die trying. She means to do right by all, but good behavior will only get a woman so far. What is the price of going further? What might be the rewards? There’s only one way to know for certain…

Thoughts:

Sometimes I look at a cover and think "that's so clever". This one is definitely a "clever" cover. Just look at the two V's that dominates the pic with Alva standing proudly in the middle. It's stylish and it's gorgeous! 

Check out what my friends have picked for Cover Crush's this week:

Stephanie @ Layered Pages





Wednesday, 21 February 2018

#BlogTour Two Journeys Home by Kevin O'Connell @NEBookPromotion

Two Journeys Home: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe by Kevin O'Connell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s 1767. As the eagerly anticipated sequel to Beyond Derrynane begins, Eileen O’Connell avails herself of a fortuitous opportunity to travel back to Ireland. In Two Journeys Home, the O’Connells encounter old faces and new—and their lives change forever.

Her vivacious personality matched only by her arresting physical presence, Eileen returns to Derrynane this time not as a teen aged widow but as one of the most recognised figures at the Habsburg court. Before returning to Vienna she experiences a whirlwind romance, leading to a tumult of betrayal and conflict with the O’Connell clan.

Abigail lives not in the shadow of her sister but instead becomes the principal lady-in-waiting to Empress Maria Theresa.

Hugh O’Connell leaves behind waning adolescence and a fleeting attraction to the youngest archduchess when he begins a military career in the Irish Brigade under Louis XV. But more royal entanglement awaits him in France…

Author Kevin O’Connell again deftly weaves threads of historical fact and fancy to create a colourful tapestry affording unique insights into the courts of eighteenth-century Catholic Europe and Protestant Ascendancy–ruled Ireland. Watch as the saga continues to unfold amongst the O’Connell’s, their friends and enemies, at home and abroad.

Book Review


I read Beyond Derrynane, the first book in this series last year, and was thrilled to get the chance to reading the sequel and finding out more about Eileen O'Connell, what the next step in her life would be. You don't have to have read the first book to appreciate this book, but it's plus, although the events that happened in the first book and are mentioned in this book would be explained so you will not feel left out.

I found the first half of the book the best, to be honest. Eileen O'Connell is going back to Ireland, to visit her family for the very first time in years. It's a joyous reuniting for Eileen to once again be back home with her family. When she left Ireland was she a young widow and now she is an important person at the Habsburg court where she is in charge of the two young archduchesses. One of them being the future Queen of France, Marie Antoinette. What really appealed to me was the love story that took place back in Ireland when Eileen met the man she knew she would marry. However, not everything is that easy and she had to fight for the man she loved. There is a scene in the book where I sat with my heart in my throat as she literary had to flee together with the man she loved to freedom and a life with him. How that ended, well you have to read the book.

The second part of the book takes place back in Vienna and yes that part of the book was also good, but I did not experience the same feeling that the first half of the book gave me. The arrival of Hugh O'Connell, Eileen's little brother in Vienna and his friendship with archduchess Maria Antonia that started to blossom into warmer feelings was a storyline that just didn't truly engross me. However, the last part, in France, when Maria Antonia had been married off was both interesting and tragic.

Two Journeys Home is a book that feels really well-researched and I loved getting an insight into Habsburg court. I have read several books about the French court at the same time and getting a different view was great.

Editorial Reviews


O’Connell is a fantastic storyteller. His prose is so rich and beautiful it is a joy to read. The story is compelling and the characters memorable – all the more so because they are based on real people. . . I am Irish but I did not know about this piece of Irish history. It is fascinating but historical fiction at the same time . . . Highly recommended for historical fiction lovers!
(c) Beth Nolan, Beth’s Book Nook

I enjoyed the first part of the Saga awhile back . . . (and) couldn’t wait to continue the story of Eileen and her family . . . this author really does have a way with words. The world and the characters are so vivid . . . Overall, I was hooked from page one. I honestly think that (Two Journeys Home) was better than (Beyond Derrynane) – which is rare. The characters and world-building was done in such a beautiful manner . . . I can’t wait for the next one . . .
(c) Carole Rae, Carole’s Sunday Review, Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell

Two Journeys Home: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe . . . is a gripping story that will transport the reader back in time, a story with a strong setting and compelling characters . . . a sensational romance, betrayal, family drama and intrigue . . . The plot is so complex that I find it hard to offer a summary in a few lines, but it is intriguing and it holds many surprises . . .  great writing. Kevin O’Connell’s prose is crisp and highly descriptive. I was delighted (by) . . . how he builds the setting, offering . . . powerful images of places, exploring cultural traits and unveiling the political climate of the time . . . The conflict is (as well-developed as the characters) and it is a powerful ingredient that moves the plot forward . . . an absorbing and intelligently-crafted historical novel . . . .
(c) Divine Zapa for Readers’ Favourite

About the Author:


Kevin O’Connell is a native of New York City and the descendant of a young officer of what had—from 1690 to 1792—been the Irish Brigade of the French Army, believed to have arrived in French Canada following the execution of Queen Marie Antoinette in October of 1793. He holds both Irish and American citizenship.

An international business attorney, Mr. O’Connell is an alumnus of Providence College and Georgetown University Law Centre.

A lifelong personal and scholarly interest in the history of eighteenth-century Ireland, as well as that of his extended family, led O’Connell to create his first book, Beyond Derrynane, which will, together with Two Journeys Home and the two books to follow, comprise the Derrynane Saga.
The father of five children and grandfather of ten, he and his wife, Laurette, live with their golden retriever, Katie, near Annapolis, Maryland.

Links:

Author Website 


Tour Schedule: Blog Stops (February 19th – 23rd)


February 19th
Spotlight  Layered Pages

February 20th
Guest Post -The Writing Desk
Guest Post – Blood Mother Blog

February 21th
Book Review - A Bookaholic Swede
Book Excerpt – Kate Braithwaite
Guest Post – A Literary Vacation

February 22nd
Interview & Review – Flashlight Commentary
Book Excerpt – Just One More Chapter
Book Review –Impressions In Ink

February 23rd
Book Review – Lock, Hooks and Books
Book Review – before the second sleep
March 5th –Tour Recap


Novel Expressions Blog Tours Website


Tuesday, 20 February 2018

#BlogTour Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce @TamoraPierce ‏@prhinternational #partner

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Arram. Varice. Ozorne. In the first book in the Numair Chronicles, three student mages are bound by fate . . . fated for trouble.

Arram Draper is a boy on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting danger. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram begins to realize that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.


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If you have read the Immortals series by Tamara Pierce is Numair Salmalín is a familiar name. In her new series, The Numair Chronicles do we get to know Numair Salmalín before he became a famous mage. When he was still Attam Draper.

Tempests and Slaughter is the first new book in a new series by Tamara Pierce, and when I got the chance to read this book couldn't I turn it down. And, I'm glad that I decided to go for the book because Pierce has written a fabulous YA fantasy book that can be read by young and old. The book is almost 500 pages thick, but it's never a dull moment. I have to admit that I got some Harry Potter vibes reading this book, two boys and one girl studying magic? However, storywise are they pretty different. However, I do think HP fans will love this book.

I found the story to be interesting straight through. When the book starts is Arram almost eleven years old and the story will progress until he's fourteen so one gets to follow him as he grows older (of course together with his trusted friends Varice and Ozorne) and reading about him becoming more and more powerful. Even as a teen is he a great mage that just needs to learn to harness his power.

There is a lot of events in this book and I particularly liked the latter part of the book, when Arram has to help the wounded gladiators. Gladiator games are a big thing in this book, and Arram has a hard time dealing with that since he is against slavery and the barbarity of gladiator games.

I found this the first book to be an excellent start of a new series and both new and old fans of Tamara Pierce will love it!

I want to thank Random House for providing me with a free copy for an honest review!


ISBN-10: 0375847111
ISBN-13: 978-0375847110

A playlist to go with the book!

Elysium - Gladiator OST
Liberi Fatali - Nobuo Uematsu
Dragonborn - Soule
Slaves to Rome  - Gladiator OST
One Final Effort - Martin O'Donnell, Michael Salvatori
We Belong to the Sea  - Aqua
Cape horn - Sarah Brightman
A Salty Dog - Sarah Brightman
Untold Legends - Salvatori
The Might of Rome - Gladiator OST
Descent - Main Theme by Morris
Never Forget - Martin O'Donnell, Michael Salvatori

#ReleaseSpotlight Death of an Honest Man M. C. Beaton @GrandCentralPub #Giveaway

M.C. Beaton
HARDCOVER BOOK - 1455558311 / 9781455558315
ELECTRONIC BOOK - 1455558338 / 9781455558339
Available in the U.S. Feb. 20, 2018


DESCRIPTION


Sergeant Hamish Macbeth--Scotland's most quick-witted but unambitious policeman--returns in M.C. Beaton's new mystery in her New York Times bestselling series.

DEATH OF AN HONEST MAN

Nobody loves an honest man, or that was what police sergeant Hamish Macbeth tried to tell newcomer Paul English. Paul had moved to a house in Cnothan, a sour village on Hamish's beat.

He attended church in Lochdubh. He told the minister, Mr. Wellington, that his sermons were boring. He told tweedy Mrs. Wellington that she was too fat and in these days of increasing obesity it was her duty to show a good example. Angela Brody was told her detective stories were pap for the masses and it was time she wrote literature instead. He accused Hamish of having dyed his fiery red hair. He told Jessie Currie--who repeated all the last words of her twin sister--that she needed psychiatric help.

"I speak as I find," he bragged. Voices saying, "I could kill that man," could be heard from Lochdubh to Cnothan.

And someone did.

Now Hamish is faced with a bewildering array of suspects. And he's lost the services of his clumsy policeman, Charlie, who has resigned from the force after Chief Inspector Blair berated Charlie one too many times, and the policeman threw Blair into the loch. Can Hamish find the killer on his own?

Death of an Honest Man by M. C. Beaton

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


M. C. Beaton has won international acclaim for her New York Times bestselling Hamish Macbeth mysteries, and the BBC has aired twenty-four episodes based on the series. Beaton is also the author of the bestselling Agatha Raisin novels, which aired as an eight-episode dramatic series on PBS, starring Ashley Jensen. M. C. Beaton's books have been translated into seventeen languages. She lives in the Cotswolds. For more information, you can visit MCBeaton.com.

WEBSITE: http://www.mcbeaton.com/us/
TWITTER: @mc_beaton
FACEBOOK: @MCBeatonAuthor
  

PRAISE FOR M.C. BEATON:


“Satisfying for both established and new Macbeth fans.”
---Booklist

“Longing for escape? Tired of waiting for Brigadoon to materialize? Time for a trip to Lochdubh, the scenic, if somnolent, village in the Scottish Highlands where M.C. Beaton sets her beguiling whodunits featuring Constable Hamish Macbeth.”
---New York Times Book Review

“Hamish Macbeth is that most unusual character, one to whom the reader returns because of his charming flaws. May he never get promoted.”
---New York Journal of Books

“With residents and a constable so authentic, it won’t be long before tourists will be seeking Lockdubh and believing in the reality of Hamish Macbeth as surely as they believed in Sherlock Holmes.”
---Denver Rocky Mountain News

“Macbeth is the sort of character who slyly grows on you.”
---Chicago Sun-Times

“Beaton keeps this lighthearted series fresh.”
---Publisher’s Weekly


#Wishlist Historical Fiction set in Spain

I started to watch Marocco Love in Times of War and that got me interested to read historical fiction set in Spain. Well, it should make me interested in books set in Marocco, but since the series is Spanish did I become more curious about the early 20-century history of Spain. Although this list contains a bit of a mishmash of hisfic.
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The bestselling author of The Paris Wife returns to the subject of Ernest Hemingway in a novel about his passionate, stormy marriage to Martha Gellhorn—a fiercely independent, ambitious young woman who would become one of the greatest war correspondents of the twentieth century

In 1937, twenty-eight-year-old Martha travels alone to Madrid to report on the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War, and becomes drawn to the stories of ordinary people caught in devastating conflict. She also finds herself unexpectedly—and uncontrollably—falling in love with Hemingway, a man already on his way to becoming a legend. In the shadow of the impending Second World War, and set against the tumultuous backdrops of Madrid, Finland, China, Key West, and especially Cuba, where Martha and Ernest make their home, their relationship and professional careers ignite. But when Ernest publishes the biggest literary success of his career, For Whom the Bell Tolls, they are no longer equals, and Martha must make a choice: surrender to the confining demands of being a famous man’s wife, or risk losing Ernest by forging a path as her own woman and writer. It is a dilemma that will force her to break his heart, and her own.

Inspired by Velázquez’s baroque masterpiece, Las Meninas, The Queen’s Prophet is an imagined account of the dwarfess Maribarbola of Spain (featured prominently in Velázquez’s painting) and her struggle for survival and self-determination at a time when dwarfs were kept by aristocracy as pets, prophets, and good luck charms.

When the Countess of Walther dies at her German estate, her loyal dwarfess Maria-Barbara is forced to work as a prophet for a traveling magician, who betrays her by selling her to the Queen of Spain. At the royal court in Madrid, Mari finds herself in a bizarre, enchanted world, a society culturally splendid but intellectually isolated. There she becomes Maribarbola, prophet to the Queen, and, her survival at stake, endeavors to outsmart the Spaniards.

Mari's wits and loyalties are tested as she becomes embroiled in palace intrigue alongside the politically embattled Queen. When Mari's carefully schemed prophecies dazzle all of Spain, she and the Queen climb to dizzying heights of power, a place as intoxicating as it is dangerous. But even as Mari survives and thrives at the Spanish court, the loss of identity she suffers from living a lie makes her question whether she is really surviving at all.

New York Times bestselling author Maria Dueñas returns with The Vineyard, a magnificent story “destined to become a classic” (Armando Lucas Correa, bestselling author of The German Girl) about ambition, heartbreak, and desire set in Mexico, Cuba, and Spain in the 1860s—perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Kristin Hannah.

Mauro Larrea’s fortune, the result of years of hardship and toil, comes crashing down on the heels of a calamitous event. Drowning in debt and uncertainty, he gambles the last of his money on daring ploy that wins him a neglected house and a vineyard in Spain, an ocean away. He journeys to Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia with every intention of selling the property and returning to Mexio—until Soledad Montalvo, the wife of a London wine merchant, bursts into his life, determined to regain the property which was her family’s legacy. With his plans derailed, Larrea glimpses an opportunity in the flourishing sherry trade and finds himself increasingly drawn to the rich, intoxicating culture of his new surroundings. As his feelings for Soledad ripen into a consuming passion, he vows to restore the vineyard to its former glory, setting the stage for a future he never could have imagined.

Moving from the turbulent young Mexican republic to flourishing city of Havana, and onward to the fertile vineyards of Jerez as the wine trade with England is transforming the Andalusian city, María Dueñas’s new novel spans the New World and the Old. Her tale of family intrigue vividly conjures the noise and grit of silver mines, the sophistication of the Mexican capital, and the earthier lure of ancient vineyards and magnificent cities whose splendor has faded. Here is an “evocative, tender, and lush” (Diana Gabaldon, #1 New York Times bestselling author) story of courage in the face of adversity and of a destiny forever altered by the force of passion.

An international bestseller perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Tatiana de Rosnay—a sensuously written story of lost love, family secrets, and the art of creating a perfect perfume

High in the hills of Valencia, a forgotten house guards its secrets. Untouched since Franco's forces tore through Spain in 1936, the whitewashed walls have crumbled, and the garden, laden with orange blossom, grows wild. Emma Temple is the first to unlock its doors in seventy years. Emma is London's leading perfumier, but her blessed life has taken a difficult turn. Emma's free-spirited mother, Liberty, who taught her the art of fragrance making, has just passed away. At the same time, Emma has separated from her long-time lover and business partner, Joe, whose baby she happens to be carrying.

While Joe is in New York trying to sell his majority share in their company, Emma, guided by a series of letters and a key bequeathed to her in Liberty's will, decides to leave her job and travel to Valencia, to the house her mother mysteriously purchased just before her death. Emma makes it her mission to restore the place to its former glory. But for her aging grandmother, Freya, a British nurse who stayed in Valencia during Spain's devastating civil war, Emma's new home evokes memories of a terrible secret, a part of her family's past that until now has managed to stay hidden. With two beautifully interwoven narratives and a lush, atmospheric setting, The Perfume Garden is a dramatic, emotional debut that readers won't soon forget.

From the author of The Creation of Eve, “an intoxicating tale of love, betrayal and redemption,”* comes a novel of passion and madness, royal intrigue and marital betrayal, set during the Golden Age of Spain.


Juana of Castile, third child of the Spanish monarchs Isabel and Fernando, grows up with no hope of inheriting her parents’ crowns, but as a princess knows her duty: to further her family’s ambitions through marriage. When she weds the Duke of Burgundy, a young man so beautiful that he is known as Philippe the Handsome, she dares to hope that she might have both love and crowns. He is caring, charming, and attracted to her—seemingly a perfect husband.

But when Queen Isabel dies, the crowns of Spain unexpectedly pass down to Juana, leaving her husband and her father hungering for the throne. Rumors fly that the young Queen has gone mad, driven insane by possessiveness. Locked away in a palace and unseen by her people for the next forty-six years, Juana of Castile begins one of the most controversial reigns in Spanish history, one that earned her the title of Juana the Mad.