Monday, June 27, 2022

Blog Tour and Book Review: PHOENIX'S ASCENT (Hera Forces #2) by Winter Austin

Changing things up a bit with a romantic suspense today...


A maniac developing a fantastical drug wants one more thing to finalize the project—a test subject who fits all the parameters. But that test subject is as elusive as her namesake. 

Ex-SAS operative Mitch Edwards has been on the run since the moment he was framed for treason by someone in the British government. But he’s never forgotten the flamboyant and seductive CIA operative with the tongue of a thousand languages. In a bar in Cancun, Mexico, Mitch comes face to face with her once more, and with her comes the full force of her enemies. 

Reinstated Hera Force linguist and assassin, Nadia Roth, code named Phoenix, has no memory of Mitch Edwards, or of their affair before her team’s disastrous mission. Her traumatic brain injury is tricky that way. But something about this man sets her on fire and tickles the back of her mind. Her Hera teammates remember him, so why can’t she? 

Mitch partners up with Hera, with the sole intent of locating those hell-bent on killing him and all who are associated with him. Yet more is at stake than their lives. A traitor hides among their ranks, one who has been revealing all their secrets to an enemy determined to procure this special drug and Nadia for his scheme. 

Hera goes into operation mode, doing what they were created to do, but someone is watching, and the team finds themselves trapped behind enemy lines with no way out. 

Will Nadia ever remember the man she once loved, or will they perish with the secret between them? Review FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review. This has not affected the content of my review in any way. FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.


The story is well-plotted with Phoenix's injury and her attempt to find the Chessmaster on her own leading to problems. Only, all the problems may be the manipulations of the Chessmaster. While Phoenix's head injury prevents her from remembering Mitch, she still has feelings for him. The rest of her black ops group (Hera) search for her, concerned about her safety. As the story progresses, Phoenix's early years when she was trained to be a warrior - before she ran away - are revealed, as well as the plans her "mother" and the Chessmaster have for her. 

This was my first read of Winter Austin's writing, though this is the second in the series. It was easily read as a standalone with characters well-developed. There is lots of action and the pace is fast. The downside? I had to force myself to put the book down to get some sleep. The upside? I've added the first in the series to my TBR list. I hope there will be a third one coming.

A note to my cozy mystery followers - this isn't a cozy mystery. 

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Read an excerpt:

Another cooling breeze blew through the door, bringing with it the succulent scent of coconut oil, pineapple, and sea spray. His attention strayed to the door. He stiffened at the sight of the beauty leaning on the bamboo frame. The lavender haired woman pushed off the smoothed wood and sauntered, barefooted, across the sand-dusted floor. Mitch came to attention, his hand slipping away from the Sig. 

She swayed to the flamenco guitar music piped through the sound system, her turquoise sundress flowing around her golden legs. Strappy silver sandals, hanging from a crooked finger, bumped against her leg as she sauntered up to the bar. She flung her sandals over her shoulder and leaned an elbow on the top. 

“Holá, guapo.” Her sultry voice skirted along his spine and curled around his chest. 

He gulped down a sudden feathering of desire. “Holá,” he croaked. 

Her gaze flicked upward and the full force of those crystal-blue eyes hit him. She smiled. 

Mitch’s stomach clenched. Those eyes. God, he could drown in them. He blinked. He knew those eyes. Had spent years trying to forget them and what they did to him every time she had looked at him. It was her? The hair color was different, but … 

She shifted to peer over her sandal-bearing shoulder at the bar patrons, then brought those stunning blue eyes back to him. “What do you have that a gal like myself could quench her thirst with?” 

A zap of awareness struck him. Bloody hell, she knew how to wield her words and her voice to bring about arousal. 

A bejeweled hand slipped between Mitch and the woman. Manicured fingers lightly danced up her bare arm. Instead of pulling away, the lavender haired beauty turned to meet Dapper Man. She smiled seductively, setting her sandals on the bar top. 

“Such a beautiful woman. What brings you to a bar like this?” Dapper Man asked in Spanish. 

“It must be you.” She leaned in closer, giving Dapper Man a good view of what was hidden beneath the folds of her gauzy dress. “Looks like it’s my lucky day.” 

It was a part of her job, but her shameless flirting always left a bad taste in Mitch’s mouth. He backed from his spot and reached for a bottle of sparkling water. He twisted off the cap and brought the bottle to his lips, then hesitated. 

As the woman’s fingers danced up Dapper Man’s sleeve, she tilted her head to the side. Her thick hair shifted away from her neck, exposing a tiny tattoo of a yellow/red flaming bird right behind her ear lobe. 

It was her! That tattoo confirmed it. The Phoenix had risen. 

Movement behind Dapper Man caught Mitch’s eye. The bodyguards horseshoed their man and the other three lingered on the fringes. Hit once again with the sensation something was horribly off about these men, Mitch inched closer to his Sig.

Excerpt from XXXX. Copyright © 2018. All rights reserved.

About the Author:

Winter Austin perpetually answers the question: “were you born in the winter?” with a flat “nope,” but believe her, there is a story behind her name. 

A lifelong Mid-West gal with strong ties to the agriculture world, Winter grew up listening to the captivating stories told by relatives around a table or a campfire. As a published author, she learned her glass half-empty personality makes for a perfect suspense/thriller writer. Taking her ability to verbally spin a vivid and detailed story, Winter translated that into writing deadly romantic suspense, mysteries, and thrillers. 

When she’s not slaving away at the computer, you can find Winter supporting her daughter in cattle shows, seeing her three sons off into the wide-wide world, loving on her fur babies, prodding her teacher husband, and nagging at her flock of hens to stay in the coop or the dogs will get them. 

She is the author of ten novels, with more on the way. You can find Winter on: 

Website            Facebook          Twitter          Instagram  
Pinterest           Goodreads  

Buy Links:


Austin will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. 

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Blog Tour and Book Review: DEATH OF AN HEIRESS by Anne Louise Bannon


About the Book

When the unmentionable stalks the pueblo... 

It starts when the inheritance that Lavina Gaines was to receive is stolen by her brother Timothy. Then an old Indian healing woman is murdered. Winemaker and physician Maddie Wilcox wants to find the person responsible for Mama Jane's death, but is also occupied with another killer - the measles.

 When Lavina's friend Julia Carson dies trying to rid herself of a pregnancy, Lavina asks Maddie's help finding the man responsible for Julia's child. Soon after, Lavina is killed and her murder bears an uncanny resemblance to that of Mama Jane's. The only motive Maddie can find involves Julia's death, which is not the sort of thing one talks about. Not only that, Lavina's nether garments are missing.

It's a difficult challenge, but Maddie rises to it, searching among the many men of the pueblo, including some of her dearest friends.

How does a proper lady in 1872 get the answers she needs to stop a killer determined to stop her first?


It's 1872 and despite her training and healing skills, Maddie doesn't get the respect from many of the men in Los Angeles. She tries to be a proper lady, only she gets riled by some of the injustices. When first Lavina is denied her inheritance - as a single woman she obviously couldn't manage her own finances,  MamaJane's killed in the hut she was hiding in, Julia dies, and then Lavina is killed at MamaJane's cabin, Maddie is sure that there is a man in the community engaging in unthinkable acts against the young women. She and her friend set out to find the man responsible, while the prevailing opinion of many is that the young women must have done something - smiled, even - to bring it on themselves. 

This is historical fiction with rich descriptions, not only of the setting, but the perceptions and beliefs about women's roles, intelligence, and rights. Maddie is already thinking about women's right to vote. Bannon moves the story along with increasing tension as Maddie unearths warnings to other young women by Lavina or Julia. Not a "cozy" mystery, this was an interesting read, particularly with some of the political views today. If you like historical fiction, you will enjoy this one. 

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

About the Author

Anne Louise Bannon is an author and journalist who wrote her first novel at age 15. Her journalistic work has appeared in Ladies' Home Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Wines and Vines, and in newspapers across the country. She was a TV critic for over 10 years, founded the YourFamilyViewer blog, and created the wine education blog with her husband, Michael Holland. 

She is the co-author of Howdunit: Book of Poisons, with Serita Stevens, as well as author of the Freddie and Kathy mystery series, set in the 1920s, the Operation Quickline series and the Old Los Angeles series, set in the 1870s. Her most recent title is the current stand-alone, Rage Issues. She and her husband live in Southern California with an assortment of critters. Visit her website at

Author Links 

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Friday, June 17, 2022

Blog Tour and Review: THE OVERLOOK MURDER (A Wintergreen Mystery) by Patrick Kelly



It’s a short walk to the overlook but a long way down.

The rich entrepreneur Damian Susskind has recently survived a heart attack and quintuple bypass surgery. Suddenly aware of his own mortality, Damian summons his family and friends to Wintergreen to share the latest plans for his will. Unfortunately for Damian, one of those in attendance bears him malicious intent, and by the end of the day, Damian is dead.

Retired police detective Bill O’Shea is asked to help the short-staffed Wintergreen police department investigate an accidental death. Forensic evidence soon convinces Bill that this was no accident. There is plenty of motive to go around and more than a few suspects–the difficulty is tying a single killer to the crime. Will Bill and his friends solve the case, or will a Wintergreen murderer go free?

If you love beautiful mountain settings, a charming cast, and intriguing plot twists, you're going to love the Wintergreen Mystery Series!


The catering company with staff including Bill O'Shea, helping out his lovely neighbor, bring everything over to prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as providing snacks. There's a high level of tension with Suskind's meeting with his two proteges, his admin, and his attorney. After lunch, Suskind has a burst of energy, and insists on climbing to the overlook where he dies.

There are twists and turns, tension in Bill and Cindy's relationship, and the sense the Cindy's new assistant may have an interesting background. Cindy's son, Justin, adds to the mix as they work together for the catering gig. Although they barely knew Suskind, they all are under investigation. 

Throughout, Bill is the one putting the pieces together as the interim chief has no experience. He's a great MC - thoughtful, kind to animals (including Mr. Chips who loves tomatoes), and methodical. I like him, Mitch, and Krista.  

This is my second in the Wintergreen Mysteries and just as enjoyable as the first. I think it straddles traditional mystery and  a cozy mystery. Whichever, it is well written with enough red herrings to keep you reading.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

About Patrick Kelly

Pat Kelly was raised in Yorktown, Virginia, graduated from UVA, and left the state to pursue a corporate career. After settling in Texas, Pat married Susie, and together they raised two daughters in the awesome city of Austin. With the girls now grown and gone, Pat has pursued a lifelong love of writing stories.

Pat has written eight novels–books one and two in the Wintergreen Mystery Series, the Joe Robbins Series of five suspense thrillers, and one standalone novel of historical fiction (The Sheila Stories)

Pat is the winner of a Beverly Hills Book Award and a silver medalist for the Wishing Shelf Book Awards for adult fiction. He serves as Membership Chair of the Heart of Texas Chapter of Sisters in Crime.

Author Links

Webpage          Facebook          Twitter           Goodreads           Instagram

Purchase Links  

Amazon            Kobo            B&N 

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Blog Tour and Author Interview: MYSTERIES MIDSUMMER SUN AND MURDER - A Cozy Mystery Anthology

Today, I'm honored to have Erin Scoggins, one of the authors featured in the Mysteries Midsummer Anthologies with me.

Welcome, Erin. Can you describe your current writing space for my readers?  

My office is my favorite room in the house. I write at my father’s old executive desk, which I painted a cozy farmhouse gray. I collect antique typewriters, and my favorite sits atop a refurbished card catalog from my local school library. I have a full set of bright blue gym lockers to hold all my notebooks and office supplies. There’s art from my kids, flowers, and an overstuffed chair to curl up in when I need a mid-sentence nap. 

Sounds perfect, right? To get the full picture, though, you’ll need to add in three kids who are still in virtual school and like to hang out in the chair waiting for technical support while I’m writing. There’s also a giant dog who sleeps under the desk. I have to shove him out of the way to sit down at the keyboard. He snores like someone is trying to start his engine, which is fun when I’m trying to have a Zoom call. It’s loud and crazy and messy, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Great! How long on average does it take you to write a book? 

It usually takes me a few months to write a draft I’m excited to work with. From there, it goes quickly. I’m lucky enough to have a fantastic team of editors who help me wrangle my words into submission with one or two passes, then we’re ready to publish. I tried to speed up the process recently by dictating a few chapters. In theory, it would be an ideal way to get the books out faster. In practice, I don’t think the software developers who created the program were prepared for people who dictate in a house full of chaos. The editing process takes a lot longer when you’re removing strange voices constantly asking for snacks and a dog who likes to bark in my face to warn me about the squirrels outside the window. 

What comes first for you, the plot or characters? 

For me, it’s all about the characters. In cozies, the plot is important, but the characters drive the story. I want to see them grow while they’re solving a murder. I’m sure we’d all be thinking about personal development while there’s a killer on the loose, right? And I live in the South. There’s no shortage of quirky people to use as inspiration. 

What kind of research do you do for a book? 

Food plays a central role in my books, and it wouldn’t be realistic for me to write about brownies if I hadn’t recently eaten one. So I cook a lot. Thankfully, I have a bunch of people around who think that’s a great idea and encourage that part of my writing process. Since I write books set on the North Carolina coast, I take regular research trips to the beach to make sure I’m capturing the details of the area. It’s a tough job, but I need to ensure I’m doing justice to the people and traditions of one of my favorite places. Plus, there’s no better place to taste the seafood than sitting next to the ocean. 

LOL. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? 

I’d give myself the same pep talk I give my kids: There may be other people who are faster or smarter or more talented than you, and that’s okay. You have a story to tell, and you’re the only one who can tell it. So be brave in the knowledge that you are uniquely qualified to share what’s in your heart and your imagination. You can’t fail when you honor your own story. 

Thank you for sharing with us today. Now to the anthology!


Poisonous picnics, burgled barbeques, deadly deckchairs... and midsummer mayhem! From a brilliant bunch of amazing authors, including multiple prizewinners and USA Today best sellers, comes this wonderful collection of 21 summer-themed cozy mysteries. Featuring peril at the pool, blood on the beach, and felony at the festival, these fabulous stories—21 brand new and exclusive tales—will keep you entertained until long after the sun has set. 

With stories from Hillary Avis, Benedict Brown, Catherine Coles, Paula Darnell, Connie B. Dowell, Ellen Jacobson, Joann Keder, Patti Larsen, Cate Lawley, Gayle Leeson, Daisy Linh, Rimmy London, R.B. Marshall, Megan Mayfair, Wendy Meadows, Phillipa Nefri Clark, Michele Pariza Wacek, Erin Scoggins, Cathy Tully, Victoria LK Williams and Carly Winter, you'll surely find some of your favourite authors and discover some great new writers within the ~1600 pages of this set. This collection will only be available for a limited time so don't miss out - grab yourself a bargain today!

Enter to win one of these great prizes offered by the authors included in the anthology. All prizes can be awarded internationally unless otherwise specified. Good luck!

List of Possible Prizes
1 Nook 
 1 x ebook copy of Oceanberry Blues & Tangerine Troubles by Joann Keder 
 Signed paperback of The Murder Before Christmas by Michele Pariza Wacek 
 1 x signed paperback of Cabernet & Confessions by Daisy Linh (US only)
 1 x ebook of Cabernet & Confessions by Daisy Linh (international)
 1 x audio book of each of A Cop & A Coop, A Flock & A Fluke; and A Roost & Arrest by Hillary Avis 
 1 x ebook of Bride & Doom by Erin Scoggins 
 1 x ebook of each of The After Hours Deception, The Hothouse Deception, and The Backstage Deception by Patti Larsen
 1 x ebook of winner’s choice from the Izzy Palmer mysteries and the Lord Edgington Investigates series by Benedict Brown
 1 x ebook boxset of 4 first in series books by Victoria L K Williams
 1 x signed paperback of Murder for Neptune’s Trident by Victoria L K Williams (US only)
 1 x ebook of both Apples & Alibis and Designs on Murder by Gayle Leeson
 1 x paperback of Artistic License to Kill by Paula Darnell
 1 x signed paperback of The Body in the Bookmobile & A Villain in the Vineyard by Connie B Dowell
 1 x ebook of Till Daph Do Us Part by Phillipa Nefri Clark
 1 x paperback (signed if winner in the US) of Murder by Numbers by Megan Mayfair
 1 x ebook of the Mollie McGhee cozy collection: books 1-3 by Ellen Jacobson
 1 x paperback of Murder at the Marina by Ellen Jacobson (US only)
 1 x ebook of A Corpse at the Castle by R B Marshall
 1 x paperback of Clues, Christmas Trees, & Corpses anthology – various authors
 1 x ebook of Fairmont Finds Canine Cozy Mysteries Books 1-3 by Cate Lawley
 1 x signed paperback of Dr Shine Cracks the Case by Cathy Tully (US only)
 1 x signed paperback of The Guest is a Goner & News and Nectarines by Carly Winter
 1 x ebook box set of the Tommy & Evelyn Christie mysteries Books 1-3 by Catherine Coles
 1 x signed paperback of Murder at the Manor by Catherine Coles
 1 x signed paperback of Poison at the Village Show by Catherine Coles
 1 x $25 gift card to winner’s e-bookstore of choice 
 2 x $10 gift card to winner’s e-bookstore of choice 
 3 x $5 gift card to winner’s e-bookstore of choice