Book Blitz & Excerpt: These Small Hours + Giveaway

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These Small Hours, by Gloria Herrmann

General Release Date: 20th July 2021

Word Count: 86,701
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 322

Genres:

CONTEMPORARY
CRIME
CRIME AND MYSTERY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MYSTERY
THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE

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Book Description

Keep writing…or die trying.

Charlene Vanderberg is a bestselling author whose world is turned upside as she experiences writer’s block for the first time. She now faces a deadline to redeem her career after her last book, a sappy romance, flopped. Charley had only wanted to try her hand at a different genre, one with a little less murder and mayhem, but had ended up creating some disgruntled fans. That’s when the words disappeared, and Charley found herself unable to write a single sentence.

After being plagued with crippling writer’s block for months and about to hang up the towel, Charley’s agent Pamela has convinced her that a change of scenery would help get her creative juices flowing again. She sends Charley off to a cozy lake resort and has enlisted some protection for her in the person of Nick Capra, a detective who is running from his own demons, has no desire to babysit the famous author but finds himself unable to stop developing feelings for his charge.

Famous for writing chilling tales, Charley isn’t prepared for the nightmare in store for her. The sleepy lake community where nothing bad ever happens begins to see a string of grisly murders. Charley discovers these murders were meant to inspire her to write her next novel. A copycat killer is reenacting scenes from her bestsellers. No one is safe from this killer—not even Charley.

Reader advisory: This book contains incidents of alcohol use, violence and murder.

Excerpt

“You can’t possibly be serious?”

“I am, and it will be good for you. I promise. You need to trust me on this.”

Charley—also known as Charlene Vanderberg, a bestselling author—was currently experiencing writer’s block for the first time. The words were there, locked somewhere in her mind and refusing to come out when she sat down every night to free them. Nothing. Just a blank page staring back at her, taunting Charley with the blinking cursor of where words should form. It had been months since Charley had written anything that hadn’t ended up on the wrong side of the delete button. At this rate, she feared there might never be words again.

“It’s the perfect solution,” Pamela beseeched.

Her agent was a force of nature and had the manipulative power of getting her way. That’s why Charley had agreed to sign on with Pamela Mansfield once her second manuscript had been complete. Charley had needed someone fierce to land her a book deal and steer her career in the right direction. Rejection letters didn’t help her fragile writer’s ego, and it was challenging enough to be recognized by any publisher without an agent. That’s why she needed one like Pamela. That woman knew her way around the publishing world and had seen something in Charley.

Her advice and encouragement had pushed Charley and ultimately launched her into the success she was now enjoying. Over the years, they had become good friends, almost like family. Charley had learned a great deal from this tiny woman who was set on building a brand and empire with the clients she represented. Pamela only worked with the best, most talented people in the industry, and Charley still couldn’t believe she was among them. She didn’t want to disappoint Pamela and worried that if those words didn’t start making an appearance soon, there would be some ugly consequences. They both had reputations to uphold.

Charley eyed Pamela curiously from across the table, half-hoping to break her agent’s resolve. It wasn’t going to happen, and they both knew that. The unwavering but tender stare as Pamela held her ground on what a great idea this was showed Charley that it truly was in her best interest.

“So, you honestly think by shipping me off to some lake resort in the middle of nowhere, I’ll really get this book done? That magically all of my creative juices will start to flow again because you’ve got me locked up in some hillbilly cabin?” Charley scoffed. “Sounds like all the makings of a Stephen King novel, and we both know how those go,” Charley teased as she poked her straw at a bobbing ice cube in her sweaty glass of water.

“Not just any cabin, Charley. My nephew owns the cutest little resort in Crescent Lake. The best part is that it’s only a few hours from here. Just imagine, all these quaint cabins around that gorgeous lake. Besides, you know very well that you give Stephen King a run for his money.” Pamela winked and turned her attention to the plate in front of her. “I thought nature was sort of your thing? Aren’t you some kind of country girl?” Pamela countered playfully as she stabbed her colorful salad of varied bright leaves and vegetables.

“It was. I mean, I like it well enough, but I’m hardly a country girl,” she answered with a touch of sophisticated sass.

“That’s right. You’re a famous writer now and living in your fabulous apartment with a perfect view of the Seattle skyline.” Pamela smirked with her fork to her lips. “Too good for the great outdoors?”

“What I meant was that I haven’t done anything remotely outdoorsy for years.”

“Then you’re long overdue.”

“I just don’t see how it will help.” Charley shook her head and looked away. The restaurant with its elegant lighting and décor was filled with patrons all sipping wine and dining on extravagant dishes. Her writing had afforded her this lifestyle. Maybe I’m a little out of touch. The years of success and landing movie deals had pampered her with opportunities she’d never dreamed possible, especially for a girl who’d grown up on a rural farm town in the middle of Washington. She gazed back and saw a peculiar flicker in Pamela’s hazel eyes.

“What?”

Pamela squirmed ever so slightly in her seat and bit her mauve-painted bottom lip. All the playfulness abandoned her face and was quickly replaced with something else. Charley studied her and tried to figure out exactly what it was. She could sense her agent’s nervous energy.

“They want that book before fall,” Pamela stated bluntly as she gently placed her fork down.

“And if they don’t get it by then?” Charley asked. Her belly began to do anxiety-induced flip-flops. So many what ifs ran through her mind that her sense of reason started to trip over them.

She clasped her hands together in prayer form. Pamela exhaled but kept her eyes locked on Charley. Through a forced smile, she calmly replied, “Let’s just focus on getting this book done.”

“Nothing like a little pressure to add to my already-growing problem.” Charley nibbled on a dry piece of skin on her bottom lip.

“You need a change of scenery and a little quiet inspiration then that ridiculous writer’s block will be gone. Every author goes through this at some point,” Pamela reassured Charley but nervously twirled a strand of her chestnut hair between her fingers. “I’ve had clients who’ve been down this road before.”

“I haven’t ever had this problem,” Charley confessed in a near whisper. “I’ve never had an issue with writing—like…ever, Pamela.” Charley’s heart beat a little faster with a sudden pang of anxiety. “The stories always kept coming, the characters made their demands well known and now poof, they’re gone. Writing is what I do—what I did.” As the words left her mouth, Charley realized the severity of her problem. If she didn’t pull it together and find a way to get her writing mojo back, Charley didn’t know what would become of her career. By the look on her agent’s face, it definitely wasn’t good. “Fine… I’ll go to your nephew’s little resort.” Charley defiantly speared the lemon wedge that rested on her perfectly cooked salmon. She no longer had an appetite as her brain developed images of her impending failure. She could lose it all—her swanky apartment, ridiculously expensive SUV and her famous name. It could all be gone.

Pamela smiled. “Don’t worry. We’ll get this book done and you’ll be back on top again. Everyone wins.”

Charley hoped Pamela was right.

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About the Author

Gloria Herrmann

Gloria Herrmann is a contemporary romance author originally from California but now lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family and pug Rizzo. Her stories are a reflection of the love she has for family, friends, and real-life moments.

You can follow Gloria on Instagram here

Giveaway

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Gloria Herrmann These Small Hours Giveaway

GLORIA HERRMANN IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GET AND YOUR FREE GLORIA HERRMANN ROMANCE BOOK! Notice Notice: This competition ends on 3rd August 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Book Blitz & Excerpt: Sun, Sea and Small-Town Secrets + Giveaway

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Sun, Sea and Small-Town Secrets, by S.J. Coles

Word Count: 48,634
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 193

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
CRIME
CRIME AND MYSTERY
EROTIC ROMANCE
FAKE RELATIONSHIPS
GAY
GLBTQI
MEN IN UNIFORM

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Book Description

Small towns are full of secrets, some harder to keep than most.

Sebastian Conway is a professional psychologist and accomplished criminal profiler, but when one of his patients is sentenced to life in prison for a crime she didn’t commit, he simply cannot let it go. His borderline obsessive behaviour has embarrassed his boss and lover, Gerrard Wilson, and the relationship has come to a bitter end.

Seb has now grudgingly taken Gerrard’s advice and come to the small coastal town of Ruéier in the South of France to get some distance and clear his head—but he cannot sit by and do nothing.

He has started writing a book he believes will address the failings in the case, but when he gets swept up in a local investigation into suspected drug trafficking, which is led by the enigmatic and strangely enticing Antoine Damboise, the book—and Seb’s intentions to avoid active criminal cases—take a back seat.

He knows it’s a bad idea to get involved, but he can’t seem to help himself. And when it seems Damboise is tempted to make their relationship more than professional, Seb finds it easier than ever to ignore his better judgment. But when a local drug dealer is murdered and Seb is implicated, everything gets a whole lot more complicated.

Can the two men set aside their personal feelings long enough to figure out what’s really going on before Seb ends up in prison? Or worse…

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of murder and drug use.

Excerpt

I turned over with a sigh. I’d thought that second bottle of red would help me sleep this time, but all I’d achieved was insomnia with a headache.

The moonlight creeping in round the edge of the blind illuminated the bold, minimalist prints on the walls and the simple, spartan furniture that was so at odds with the balmy, luscious countryside outside.

Gerrard had always liked his surroundings…controlled. Even the washing powder was the same brand he’d used in the flat at home, so the sheets smelled like him.

I pushed them back with a frustrated grumble then wandered into the living area. I stared at the open laptop on the desk, the piles of journals and drifts of paper surrounding it. I shook my head, returned to the bedroom, dressed then left the villa.

The cool night air felt good against my flushed skin. I strode along the seafront boulevard where the cafe and boulangerie shopfronts were bleached shades of grey in the moonlight. I took deep breaths, inhaling the smells of salt and dried seaweed.

I checked my phone. It was getting on for two-thirty. I rubbed my face, admitting I wasn’t feeling much better than when I’d left the villa—no better than when I’d stepped off the plane a week before, either. I sat on a bench and gazed out over the deserted beach. During the day, the sand was so light and the sea so blue that it was almost tropical. Even at night it was beautiful, all shifting shadows and pale sand under a sky so vast and crowded with stars that it was like it belonged to another world.

I’d never visited France before. Hell, I’d never ventured outside the UK, apart from that one—and best forgotten—trip to Majorca with Gerrard for our anniversary. But I had to admit that Ruéier was picture-postcard perfect—small, unspoiled, off the beaten track, so not overrun by tourists and the inevitable high-street chains that followed them. It was everything Gerrard had said it was—the perfect place to get some distance and write my book.

So why can’t I sleep?

I stood, thinking to walk the long way home and avoid analysing the question too deeply but stopped when the sound of voices rippled the easy quiet of the night. Stepping out from the shadow of a tree, I saw one of the boats in the harbour had its cabin light on. It illuminated the wide deck and a tall wheelhouse. Several figures were aboard and another on the pier, loading large bags into the hold.

I wasn’t sure what made me look closer. There had to be plenty of reasons for loading a boat at night. But something about the way they moved and the low urgency of their muttered French raised the hairs on the back of my arms.

When the figure on the pier handed over the last heavy-looking holdall, his jacket lifted and I glimpsed a gun tucked in his waistband.

I stepped back into the shadows just as the hooded face turned my way. I held my breath. The voices went quiet but then the roar of the boat’s engine tore through the silence.

I swore silently to myself. I’d come to Ruéier to get away from suspicious figures with guns. I held my breath for several more heartbeats before daring another look. The boat was heading for the harbour mouth and the figure from the pier was coming up the stairs less than five meters away. I ducked behind the tree and held still. I could hear his footsteps now, coming right for me.

He walked right past, heading south, down the boulevard toward the ferry port. His shoulders were hunched, his hands in his pockets and his head moved left to right as he scanned the shadows on either side.

I didn’t breathe again until he’d turned a corner and disappeared.

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About the Author

S. J. Coles

S. J. Coles is a Romance writer originally from Shropshire, UK. She has been writing stories for as long as she has been able to read them. Her biggest passion is exploring narratives through character relationships.

She finds writing LGBT/paranormal romance provides many unique and fulfilling opportunities to explore many (often neglected or under-represented) aspects of human experience, expectation, emotion and sexuality.

Among her biggest influences are LGBT Romance authors K J Charles and Josh Lanyon and Vampire Chronicles author Anne Rice.

Find S. J. Coles at her website and follow her on Instagram.

Giveaway

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S. J. Coles Sun, Sea and Small-Town Secrets Giveaway

ENTER HERE AND GET A FREE S. J. COLES ROMANCE BOOK! Notice: This competition ends on 20th July 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Book Blitz & Excerpt: Blood from a Stone + Giveaway

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Blood from a Stone by David M. Salkin

Word Count: 68,144
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 274

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
CONTEMPORARY
CRIME AND MYSTERY
MEN IN UNIFORM
MYSTERY
ROMANCE
THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE

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Book Description

A dream house to share with his love becomes a nightmare when an old diary reveals a dark secret that brings a wounded warrior out of retirement.

When Special Forces veteran Cory Walker purchased the home on Harkers Island, he knew it came with a history. Two white marble angels in the rear yard stand sentinel over the house where Casey Stone and her mother had lived—and died. But that was decades ago, and Cory is now in love with both the house and his girlfriend Amanda. He’s determined to build a new life on the quiet island to readjust to civilian life and enjoy his new love.

Cory’s decision to build a wine cellar turns his dream house into a nightmare when he discovers the hidden diary of Casey Stone. Casey, only sixteen, had been raped and murdered many years earlier, the only horrible crime that had ever occurred on the small island. Her mother was so devastated that she hanged herself, hence the two angels in the yard placed there by Earl Stone. As Cory reads the journal, he discovers that the truth may be much different from what was ever believed.

The wrong man is sitting in jail, and as Cory begins to ask questions about the case, he soon realizes he is opening a box of secrets that may get both him and Amanda killed.

Earl Stone, the formerly grieving husband and stepfather, may be the next President of the United States, and when a man that powerful wants secrets to stay buried, the dangerous possibilities are endless.

Reader advisory: This book includes mentions of sexual abuse and rape of a minor, psychological abuse, violence, reference to warfare including the deaths of children, sometimes graphic injury description and murder.

Excerpt

Amanda was driving down from Twin Oaks. I had a bottle of Italian red, a Super Tuscan called Le Volte by Ornellaia, decanting in the kitchen. I’d made a puttanesca sauce, and the garlic, red peppers and crushed anchovies sautéing in olive oil had perfumed my new home. The sizzle was a magical noise. Into that, I’d added diced Kalamata olives, capers, tomato paste and crushed tomatoes.

The spaghetti alla puttanesca was just a little taste—a traditional Italian pasta before the main course. The secondi would be a huge bone-in rib-eye steak, grilled out back on the patio. I had dry-rubbed the steak with my list of secret ingredients. It’s a secret because I never make anything the same way twice, so it’s a secret to me, too. A little sautéed broccoli rabe and badda-bing, dinner would be served. It would be our first meal together in the new house. I was trying to cook my way into her staying with me forever.

In my other life, I had eaten MREs on a regular basis—government-supplied packets of food designed to make you angry enough to kill people. ‘MRE’—Meals Rejected by Ethiopians, Meals Rarely Edible, Meals Requiring Enemas, Massive Rectal Expulsions. You get the idea. They weren’t very good. As a result, I learned to cook—foraging and becoming a creative genius to turn the rancid packets into something my comrades and I might actually eat.

Amanda arrived right on time, and with her, a breath of fresh air and an aura of positive energy and bright light that I’d been missing all my life. Her mere presence made me smile. I was hoping my cooking skills would make up for whatever other shortcomings I have. It seemed to be working. I have two great skills—cooking and killing people, and I planned to leave the death and destruction part in my former life. I was determined to be a kinder, gentler version of myself going forward. I would gourmet my way into Amanda’s heart.

Dinner was a smashing success, with conversation that covered a hundred topics and had us both smiling like lovestruck teenagers as we caught up on each other’s weeks. It was pretty darn perfect. After dinner, we finished that great bottle of Ornellaia, opened a bottle of port and decided to take a walk to the beach.

It was the kind of peaceful night that reminds one of how amazing life can be when everything falls into place. We ended up in the warm, flat ocean up to our knees and I asked her yet again about moving in. This time she didn’t say ‘no’. Instead, she talked about maybe trying to find a physical therapy job down here, closer to the island.

We walked home and sat outside in the back garden, looking at the stars. The moon lit the white marble faces of the two angels who resided in my yard. The pair had stood sentinel there for years before I’d purchased the house. They came alive softly in the moonlight, and with them, their sad story hung in the still air. The house had a history—one that the folks on Harkers Island wanted to forget.

On Sunday, after a late, leisurely brunch, Amanda left. It was like the air had been sucked out of the house. Loneliness snuck back into my soul and once again I had to fight off the ghosts of those last days in Afghanistan.

I needed a mission to focus on. And this time, it would be for me. A wine cellar… It would be a surprise for Amanda when she came back down in two weeks.

When I had purchased the house, I had been surprised to find it had a basement. The island is only a few feet above sea level. When this house had been built, the foundation had been set on a man-made hill, making the house one of the tallest on the island. It made the stately home regal, perched slightly above the rest of the houses like a castle above the serfs. It had an attitude—and I probably had one of the only basements on the island. There were plenty of newer and fancier homes, several worth seven figures, but this house had character—along with that dark history.

The basement was cool, the perfect temperature for wine. I’d sketched out a design and purchased lumber and some tools. The first thing I did was put in some overhead fluorescent lights. Then I scrubbed the poured concrete floor. The walls were cinderblock, with a few open crawlspaces.

Channeling my energy into something positive, I was going to finish making a rack system against one of the walls. Nothing too fancy. I would have the shelves slightly pitched forward. That way I could see the labels and keep the corks angled to the floor. It was a great way to design a wine cellar, but I couldn’t take credit for inventing it. Back in my days with Special Forces, a buddy and I used to kill time talking about our dream houses, and all of them included a great wine cellar. He would have built it someday—I’m sure of it—if some fanatic wearing a bomb vest hadn’t run into his tent one morning in Kabul and killed him and a few other great guys I knew. I’d build it for him. And that first bottle would be used to toast my friend.

I was cleaning off the cinderblock wall, getting ready to nail in the studs, when the beam of my flashlight caught the edge of something inside the crawlspace. That was when my dream house turned into a nightmare and ancient history became my new reality.

Sitting on the sand behind the top of the cinderblock wall was a small leather-covered book. Old and worn… I picked it up and looked at the cover. It must have been covered with doodles and cartoon flowers years ago, but the ink had faded, and insects and moisture had damaged it. When I opened the front cover, it cracked slightly at the binding.

Casey A. Stone 1991.

It took me a moment to realize what it was—a diary.

The paper was stiff and crinkly in my hands. The penmanship was neat and feminine…

My brain started playing catch-up, making the hair on the back of my neck stand.

Casey Stone.

She was one of the angels in my yard.

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About the Author

David M. Salkin

International, award-winning author David M. Salkin has been entertaining readers since 2005. His brand of thrillers includes military-espionage, horror and crime. Salkin has appeared around the country, including three times as a panelist at New York City’s Thrillerfest and also at Books in the Basin, in Midland and Odessa, Texas. Dave enjoys speaking to book clubs and groups about writing, and has appeared on television, radio, and various print media.

David served as an elected official in Freehold Township for twenty-five years (Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Township Committeeman) and was inducted into the New Jersey Elected Officials Hall of Fame in 2019. He is a 1988 graduate of Rutgers College with a BA in English Literature. When not working or writing, Dave prefers to be Scuba diving or traveling. He’s a Master Diver, as well as a pretty good chef and wine aficionado. David speaks three languages fluently – English, sarcasm and profanity.

David is an associate member of the Philip A Reynolds Detachment of the Marine Corps League, and board member of the Veterans Community Alliance.

Find out more at David’s website.

Giveaway

Enter to win a fabulous gift package and get a First For Romance Gift Card!

David M. Salkin Blood from a Stone Giveaway

DAVID M. SALKIN IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GET A FIRST FOR ROMANCE GIFT CARD! Notice: This competition ends on 11TH May 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.