Blog Tour & Giveaway: Beneath the Night by Jen Colly

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BENEATH THE NIGHT
by Jen Colly
Pub date: 4/25/2017
Genre: Paranormal Romance
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Sometimes survival means surrendering everything . . .
Lord Navarre Casteel wakes from a long sleep to
find the vampire city he rules forever changed and his future in the
hands of a mysterious beauty who offers her life for his.
Fiery-haired Cat survives his feeding, fueling Navarre’s body and
mind—as well as his suspicion that she is one of the Forbidden—a
lethal mix of vampire and human blood. Yet that doesn’t stop the
throb of Navarre’s desire, the feeling that she is destined to be
his mate, to hell with consequences. . . .
A solitary fighter sworn to protect the
children in her charge, Cat never expects to feel so much for Navarre
in the face of his savage feeding. Which is why his offer of
protection is nearly her undoing. For how can she let down her guard
when she has always walked alone? But Cat has never faced an enemy
like the one she faces now, never felt such a powerful need to
surrender to the force of love . . .
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Jen Colly is the rare case of an author who
rebelled against reading assignments throughout her school years. Now
she prefers reading books in a series, which has led her to writing
her first paranormal romance series: The Cities Below. She will write
about anything that catches her fancy, though truth be told, her
weaknesses are pirates and vampires. She lives in Ohio with her
supportive husband, two kids, one big fluffy dog, and four rescued
cats.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Dusk Until Dawn by Andie J. Christopher

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DUSK UNTIL DAWN
by Andie J. Christopher
Pub date: 4/18/2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance
No boundaries.
Bartender and aspiring painter Maya Pascual loves turning up the heat. And
dumping a vodka-and-karma chaser on the man who broke her heart is
perfect Bronx girl payback. But how can she resist when Miami playboy
prince Javier Hernandez begs to make it up to her. . .
No regrets.
Between his disastrous personal life and his wealthy family’s meddling,
Javi needs to get back on track. The only thing that’s certain is
his passion for Maya. If she’ll just let him show her how sorry he
is, maybe he can move on and start fresh. But one look in her
gorgeous eyes and he knows letting her go will be easier said than
done.
No rules.
Maya agrees to one dinner with Javi. But as their attraction threatens to
combust, she wonders if a night of no strings, no repeats surrender
is the only way burn off their desire once and for all…. Unless the
light of day reveals it’s impossible to let go.
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Chapter 1
Javier Hernandez’s dick was bored. The rest of him was bored, too. But the dick part had him worried.

He slouched back on the padded bench in the VIP booth. Yvette and her friend—couldn’t remember her name—danced near the edge of the balcony. They were conspicuous enough that someone among the writhing mass of bodies in the club below would snap a picture with their phone. Before sunrise, they’d be plastered on a gossip blog as a romantic item.

He hadn’t been to a club in almost a year, and right now, he wasn’t sure why he’d ever enjoyed this kind of thing. Since his little sister called him out at a family gathering, his father had kept him on lock down.

The only reason he was off-leash tonight was a business dinner with an out-of-towner who wanted to see the Miami nightlife. His father was quick to nominate him for that job. But not before pushing him out the door with a few words on how to land the client’s cash into their family’s hedge fund.

The potential client was currently passed out in a black car on the way to the airport. His father might not like how he got things done, but the guy was happy, and Javi didn’t doubt that they’d have his business.

He didn’t know why he was still hanging around. For the past year, he’d had his shit together—working out, showing up to work on time, and staying away from women who would garner any publicity for the family. He’d thought that being back in a familiar environment would be a relief. Instead, it felt like pants that didn’t fit—his old life was tight in the crotch, and not in a good way.

Both models shot him suggestive glances, and Yvette beckoned him with one finger and a flutter of her eyelashes. A year ago—fuck, six months ago—he’d have been with them, taking a selfie, and posting it on social media. Thinking that people would be jealous of him—Javier Hernandez, asshole who cavorts with models.

Losing the regard of his family had cured him of the idea that he was living some sort of charmed life. He’d used that image to bolster his wounded ego after his wife left him. He didn’t need that Band-Aid now that the wound had closed up. If he wanted to fuck, he fucked. But he didn’t make a big production of it. He didn’t make a point to be photographed with models, strippers, or club girls. He’d even closed down his Instagram account. There wasn’t any point. All of those women had made him feel precisely nothing.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Where There’s Faith by L.A. Remenicky

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Where There’s Faith
Fairfield Corners Book 3
by L.A. Remenicky
Genre: Romantic suspense
A past she can’t remember. A love he can’t forget.
After hitting rock bottom, Robert Newlin embraced sobriety and tried to
live his life quietly and alone at his family’s lake cottage.
Blaming himself for the accident that claimed his wife and unborn
baby, he spent most of his time alone and grieving until Faith moved
into the cottage next door.
Faith McMillan had no memory of her life before that day three years ago.
The physical scars had faded but the emotional ones were still fresh
and raw. Living rent-free seemed like a great way to finish her
second book and would give her the time to figure out her next move.
But then she met the reclusive guy next door.
Robbie and Faith – can two broken people who vowed to live their lives
alone find happiness together?
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Don’t miss the first two books in the Fairfield Corners Series!

They can each be read as standalones!


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Saving Cassie
Fairfield Corners Book 1
Everyone has secrets. Sometimes secrets can get you killed.
After ten years in the big city, Cassie Holt is moving back to her hometown
to take over the bookstore left to her by her beloved Gram, vowing to
live her life alone. To her best friend, Sheriff James Marsten,
Cassie seems to be the same girl that left Fairfield Corners to go to
college but Cassie has secrets and one of those secrets could get her
killed. When one of her secrets becomes a threat to her life, James
turns to his new deputy to help him keep Cassie safe.
Deputy Logan Miller has been burned by love and is not looking to get
involved with anyone anytime soon. When he is thrown into close
quarters with Cassie, the sparks begin to fly and he begins to see
through the walls Cassie has built around her heart. As the threat
gets closer, can Logan protect Cassie and protect his heart? (MA, 18+
for sexual situations)
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Ragan’s Song
Fairfield Corners Book 2
It only took one look into his eyes for her to know she was in trouble.
Adam Bricklin has heard the melody in his head for years, the melody that
told him if a decision was right or wrong. When he met Ragan Newlin
the song told him she was the one. He was devastated when
circumstances tore them apart. It has taken three years for Adam to
finally move past the heartbreak he suffered when Ragan left town in
the middle of the night. No note, no email, no text. She was just
gone. Now he has a new girlfriend, a new album in the works, and his
daughter is doing well in school. Until the day Ragan returned to
Fairfield Corners.
Ragan came home to celebrate her parents’ anniversary, hoping they would
forgive her for not telling them about her marriage or her son. When
she discovered that Adam was still living in Fairfield Corners she
hoped her secrets were safe; secrets that drove her away three years
ago, secrets that could change their lives forever.

Continue reading

Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Supernatural Pet Sitter: The Magic Thief by Diane Moat

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The Supernatural Pet Sitter:
The Magic Thief
by Diane Moat
Genre: YA, Middle Grade Paranormal Mystery
Every animal can talk to you. You just have to know how to listen.
Pepper Neely is better at this than most, especially because she is in
charge of pet sitting all the familiars in her neighborhood. A
familiar is a pet magically linked to a witch or warlock. As a gnome,
Pepper is no stranger to spells and sorcery. She also knows that,
despite their special name, familiars aren’t all that different
from regular animals. They get anxious when separated from their
people, so Pepper uses her special gnome powers to calm them down.
She watches Cranky the high-strung ferret, Frank the laid-back
parrot, King Arthur the elderly tortoise, and many others.
Then, something terrible begins happening to the familiars. Someone is
stealing their magic! It not only prevents Pepper from communicating
with them but breaks their magical connection with their people. When
King Arthur’s magic is stolen, his owner’s powers stop working
too. Pepper can sense that the tortoise is very scared.
In order to protect the animal’s magic, Pepper decides to track down the
culprit. With the help of her best friend, Luna, and her brother,
Jax, Pepper fights to protect all of the special pets.
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Diane is a Tennessee transplant, animal rescuer, and nurse. The
Supernatural Pet Sitter is her debut children’s novel. Diane is
assisted by her many rescue dogs.

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The Amazon purchase link in this post is an affiliate link. Purchasing through it helps sustain Bound 2 Escape.

Blog Tour: The After House by Michael Phillip Cash

 

Hosted by My Book Tour: The After House by Michael Phillip Cash Book Tour Banner

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The After House by Micheal Phillip Cash

 

Paperback: 212 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 30, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1500600369
ISBN-13: 978-1500600365

 

About the Book

Remy Galway and her daughter Olivia are rebuilding their life after a failed marriage in a 300 year old cottage in historic Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island. Little do they know, another occupant is lurking in the haven of their own home. Will the After House be their shelter or their tomb?

PURCHASE THE AFTER HOUSE ON AMAZON.COM

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About the Author

Book Tour for The After House: Michael Phillip Cash Author PhotoMichael Phillip Cash is an award-winning novelist and screenwriter. His novels are best-sellers on Amazon under their genres – Young Adult, Thriller, Suspense, Ghost, Action Adventure, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance and Horror.

Michael writes full-time and lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wonderful wife and screaming children. You can follow him @michaelpcash.

Readers are invited to connect with Michael on:

Facebook
Twitter
Author Website

 

 

The Amazon purchase link in this post is an affiliate link. Purchasing through it helps sustain Bound 2 Escape.

Blog Tour: The Investment Club by Doug Cooper

 

Title: THE INVESTMENT CLUB
Author: Doug Cooper
Publisher: Rare Bird Books
Pages: 362
Genre: Literary/Upmarket Fiction

Forty million people visit Vegas every year but most never get past the strip. What about the people who live there? What brought them there? What keeps them there?

Told from the perspective of a seasoned blackjack dealer, The Investment Club tells the stories of a self-destructive, dwarf entrepreneur, a drug-addicted musical performer-turned-stripper, a retired, widowed New Jersey policeman, a bereaved, divorced female sportscaster, and a card-counting, former Catholic priest before and after their fateful meeting at the El Cortez Casino in downtown Vegas.

As the five learn the greatest return comes from investing in one another, their lives stabilize and take on new, positive directions. But their love and support for each other can take them only so far before they must determine the meaning and value of their own lives.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

About the Author

 Doug Cooper is the author of the award-winning novel Outside In and The Investment Club available October 2016. He has a BS in Mathematics Education from Miami University and a MA in American Studies from Saint Louis University. Always searching, he has traveled to over twenty countries on five continents, exploring the contradictions between what we believe and how we act in the pursuit of truth, beauty, and love. Originally from Port Clinton, Ohio, he has also called Cleveland, St. Louis, Detroit, New York, and Oslo, Norway home. He now lives in Cleveland working on his third novel Focus Lost.

 

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS

 

 

Chapter 1

Date: Friday, January 17, 2014                                                        Dow Jones Open: 16,408.02

Never split tens.

The words flashed in their eyes and formed on their lips. Nervous fingering of chips followed. Except for third base, the last, and most important, seat at the table. He controlled the fates of the other players, a role he seemed to enjoy. His stout digits remained steadfast, cupped over the stack of ten black chips measured to split the hand. Never had a doubt. Once he saw the house had a five of hearts, he knew his play.

My left hand slid to the shoe, eyes directed toward first base. “Twelve.”

The brim of her faded green military cap angled downward, concealing her eyes and half of her tawny face. Her hat more fashion than function, this girl had never served, at least in the armed forces. Her body, though, was all function. Lean and mean. Definitely put on this earth to move. It was just a question of if that was in the vertical or the horizontal.

She waved her hand over the cards, never lifting her gaze from the table. “I’ll stay. You’re going to bust.” She was there for one purpose: to make money. Played every night. Never for less than $25 per hand and often as high as $200 when she really got rolling. I wouldn’t say she was unfriendly or mean. Just had an edge to her. Wanted to be left alone and not have to talk to anyone.

Next to her in seat two, a burly man, about six foot two or three—somewhere in his late sixties— nodded approvingly. He had a half-inch gray flattop that with each tilt of his head revealed a thinning patch on top. “Good girl,” he said. “You don’t have to have great cards; just need the dealer to have worse ones.“ He plucked a red five-dollar chip off his stack and placed it next to his bet. Holding up his index finger, he said, “One card, down please.”

Sliding the card from the shoe without revealing the value, I said, “Down and dirty.” Directing my attention to his neighbor, I nodded at the seventeen in front of the surgically enhanced Barbie doll in seat three. “The ol’ mother-in-law’s hand.”

She furrowed her brow, barely wrinkling her taut forehead. “What does that mean?” It was obvious she didn’t know the game, but she wasn’t stupid either. Everything she did had a purpose. What she revealed at the table was exactly what she wanted the others to see to elicit the reaction she desired.

“It’s a seventeen,” I said, about to drop one of my standard lines, good at least a few times a night. “It’s like your mother-in-law. You want to hit it, but you can’t.”

“Well, I don’t have to worry about one of those.” Her eyes sank to her cards. “So do I hit or not?” Continue reading

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Dead Lawyers Don’t Lie by Mark Nolan

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Dead Lawyers Don’t Lie
Jake Wolfe Book 1
by Mark Nolan
Genre: Thriller, Crime Mystery
A mysterious killer who calls himself The Artist is assassinating
wealthy lawyers in San Francisco. When war veteran Jake Wolfe
accidentally takes his picture during a murder, The Artist adds Jake
to his kill list and he becomes a target in a deadly game of cat and
mouse that only one of them can survive. How far would you go to
protect your loved ones from a killer? Jake wants to leave his top
secret, violent past life behind him. But the reluctant, flawed hero
can’t ignore his duty and his personal moral compass.
This gripping thriller is full of suspense, plot twists and surprises. It
features a cast of interesting characters, including several
strong-willed women, two wise-cracking San Francisco Police Homicide
Inspectors, one highly intelligent dog, and a philosophical killer
who shares Jake’s admiration for Van Gogh paintings but still plans
to kill him anyway. As Jake gets closer to unraveling a merciless
conspiracy, his life gets turned upside down and the danger level
increases, adding to the growing suspense. This entertaining
page-turner starts out as a murder mystery and then shifts gears into
a high-speed action thriller that takes you on a roller-coaster ride
to the riveting ending. A good read for those who enjoy mysteries,
suspense, action and adventure, vigilante justice, unique characters,
witty dialogue and a little romance too. Now on sale in over a dozen
countries around the world. Be the first among your friends to read
it.
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Mark Nolan began his writing career as a successful entrepreneur who
created news stories for businesses that were featured in The Wall
Street Journal, National Geographic, Parade, Reader’s Digest and The
Associated Press. Nolan was born in San Francisco, grew up in the Bay
Area of California, and has also lived in the Pacific Northwest and
Hawaii. He has raised two great kids and one very smart retriever
dog. Right now he’s busy writing the next book about Jake and Cody
(Book 2), but he also tries to make time every day to answer emails
from readers. You can reach him at marknolan.com/contact
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The purchase link in this post is an affiliate link. Purchasing through it helps sustain Bound 2 Escape.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Gatekeeper Trilogy by Eva Pohler

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The Gatekeepers Trilogy: Books 1-3
by Eva Pohler
Genre: YA Fantasy
A young adult fantasy about the ancient gods in modern times.
A teen becomes entangled with the gods of Mount Olympus when Thanatos,
the god of death, wants to meet her. He makes a deal with his father,
Hades, to go to the upperworld. The deal requires that a murder be
avenged with the help of his sisters, the Furies.
Part paranormal romance and part adventure story, this trilogy follows
Therese’s adventures as she struggles to overcome challenges by the
gods her in her quest to become like them.
This series was initially written as a trilogy and can end with the third
book, or you can keeping reading through all six. This box set
includes the first three books only. Follow Therese’s adventures as
she strives to become a goddess in the ancient Greek pantheon.
**On sale for .99!!**
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Books in the trilogy:

The Gatekeeper’s Sons
Book 1
Dive into a world in which the ancient gods of Greek mythology are real.
Part paranormal romance, part epic urban fantasy, the first in this
bestselling young adult series is the teen novel mythology lovers
have been searching for:
Fifteen-year-old Therese watches her parents die. While in a coma, she meets the twin
sons of Hades—Hypnos (the god of sleep) and Thanatos (the god of
death). She thinks she’s manipulating a dream, not kissing the god of
death and totally rocking his world.
Than makes a deal with Hades and goes as a mortal to the Upperworld to try
and win Therese’s heart, but not all the gods are happy. Some give
her gifts. Others try to kill her.
The deal requires Therese to avenge the death of her parents. With the
help of Than’s fierce and exotic sisters, the Furies, she finds
herself in an arena face to face with the murderer, and only one will
survive.
FREE AT ALL RETAILERS!!
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The Gatekeeper’s Challenge
Book 2
Thanatos and Therese’s addictive love and adventure story continues in this
second book of Amazon bestselling author Eva Pohler’s epic young
adult series.
Ten agonizing months have gone by since Therese faced off against her
parents’ murderer at Mount Olympus, and she suspects Thanatos’s
absence is meant to send her a message: go on with your life. She
tries to return Pete’s affections even though her heart aches for
the god of death, but when Than shows up to take her hamster’s
soul, she becomes infuriated when he says he’s “been busy.” In
cahoots with her new friend, who’s gotten in with the Demon Druggies
at school, Therese takes a drug that simulates a near-death
experience, planning to tell Than off so she can have closure and
move on, but things go very, very wrong.
Eventually she learns Than has been busy searching for a way to make her a god,
and he’s found it, but it requires her to complete a set of
impossible challenges designed by Hades, who hopes to see her fail.
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The Gatekeeper’s Daughter
Book 3
In The Gatekeeper’s Sons, Therese and Thanatos, the god of death, met
and fell in love. In The Gatekeeper’s Challenge, they did everything
they could to be together, even break an oath on the River Styx. But
the Olympians don’t tolerate oath-breakers.
In this third book in the saga, The Gatekeeper’s Daughter, Therese may
have finally succeeded in becoming a goddess, but if she wants to
remain one, she’ll not only have to discover her unique purpose, but
also make some allies among the gods. Artemis sends her on a
seemingly impossible quest across the world, while Than searches for
a way to appease Ares. To make matters worse, her baby sister’s life
depends on the outcome of her quest.
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Continue reading

Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Thief by Michele Hauf

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THE THIEF
by Michele Hauf
Pub Date: 4/11/2017
Genre: Romantic Suspense
The Elite Crimes Unit works behind the scenes of Interpol—and employs
some of the world’s most talented criminal minds. Because as
everyone knows, it takes a thief to catch a thief—or to seduce one. . .
The old farmhouse in the French countryside is a refuge for former jewel
thief Josephine Deveraux. Admittedly, there aren’t many men in the
vicinity, but she has her cat to cuddle up with. It’s a far cry
from her former life, constantly running from the law, and she’s
enjoying her peace . . . until the intruder in the three-piece suit
tackles her. He wants her back in the game, helping with a heist—and
he’s not above making threats to get his way.
Little does Josephine know that notorious—and notoriously charming—thief,
Xavier Lambert, is after the very same 180-carat prize she’s being
blackmailed to steal. To his chagrin, he’s doing it not as a free
agent, but as a member of the Elite Crimes Unit—the team he was
forced to join when his brilliant career came to a sudden end. And
little does Xavier know that his comeback is about to include a
stranger’s kiss, a stinging slap, and a hunt for missing
treasure—along with the infuriatingly sexy woman who’s outfoxing him . . .
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Michele Hauf has been writing romance, action-adventure and fantasy stories for
over twenty years. Her first published novel was
Dark Rapture
(Zebra). France, musketeers, vampires and faeries populate her
stories. And if she followed the adage “write what you know,” all
her stories would have snow in them. Fortunately, she steps beyond
her comfort zone and writes about countries she has never visited and
of creatures she has never seen.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray

On Tour April 17 – 28, 2017

 

Genre: Amish Fiction
Published by: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: March 14th 2017
Number of Pages: 272
ISBN: 006246910X (ISBN13: 9780062469106)
Series: The Amish of Hart County #1
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

 

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray begins a new series—The Amish of Hart County—with this suspenseful tale of a young Amish woman who is forced to move to a new town to escape a threatening stalker.

After a stalker went too far, Hannah Hilty and her family had no choice but to leave the bustling Amish community where she grew up. Now she’s getting a fresh start in Hart County, Kentucky…if only she wasn’t too scared to take it. Hannah has become afraid to trust anyone—even Isaac, the friendly Amish man who lives next door. She wonders if she’ll ever return to the trusting, easy-going woman she once was.

For Isaac Troyer, the beautiful girl he teasingly called “The Recluse” confuses him like no other. When he learns of her past, he knows he’s misjudged her. However, he also understands the importance of being grateful for God’s gifts, and wonders if they will ever have anything in common. But as Hannah and Isaac slowly grow closer, they realize that there’s always more to someone than meets the eye.

Just as Hannah is finally settling into her new life, and perhaps finding a new love, more secrets are revealed and tragedy strikes. Now Hannah must decide if she should run again or dare to fight for the future she has found in Hart County.

Excerpt

CHAPTER 2

Someone was coming. After reeling in his line, Isaac Troyer set his pole on the bank next to Spot, his Australian shepherd, and turned in the direction of the noise.

He wasn’t worried about encountering a stranger as much as curious to know who would walk through the woods while managing to disturb every tree branch, twig, and bird in their midst. A silent tracker, this person was not.

Beside him, Spot, named for the spot of black fur ringing his eye, pricked his ears and tilted his head to one side as he, too, listened and watched for their guest to appear.

When they heard a muffled umph, followed by the crack of a branch, Isaac began to grow amused. Their visitor didn’t seem to be faring so well.

He wasn’t surprised. That path was rarely used and notoriously overrun with hollyhocks, poison oak, and ivy. For some reason, wild rosebushes also ran rampant there. Though walking on the old path made for a pretty journey, it also was a somewhat dangerous one, too. Those bushes had a lot of thorns. Most everyone he knew chose to walk on the road instead.

He was just wondering if, perhaps, he should brave the thorns and the possibility of rashes to offer his help—when a woman popped out.

The new girl. Hannah Hilty.

Obviously thinking she was completely alone, she stepped out of the shade of the bushes and lifted her face into the sun. She mumbled to herself as she pulled a black sweater off her light-blue short-sleeved dress. Then she turned her right arm this way and that, frowning at what looked like a sizable scrape on it.

He’d been introduced to her at church the first weekend her family had come. His first impression of her had been that she was a pretty thing, with dark-brown hair and hazel-colored eyes. She was fairly tall and willowy, too, and had been blessed with creamy-looking pale skin. But for all of that, she’d looked incredibly wary.

Thinking she was simply shy, he’d tried to be friendly, everyone in his family had. But instead of looking happy to meet him or his siblings, she’d merely stared at him the way a doe might stare at an oncoming car—with a bit of weariness and a great dose of fear.

He left her alone after that.

Every once in a while he’d see her. At church, or at the market with her mother. She always acted kind of odd. She was mostly silent, sometimes hardly even talking to her parents or siblings. Often, when he’d see her family in town shopping, she usually wasn’t with them. When she was, he’d see her following her parents. With them, yet separate. Silently watching her surroundings like she feared she was about to step off a cliff.

So, by his estimation, she was a strange girl. Weird.

And her actions just now? They seemed even odder. Feeling kind of sorry for her, he got to his feet. “Hey!” he called out.

Obviously startled, Hannah turned to him with a jerk, then froze.

Her unusual hazel eyes appeared dilated. She looked scared to death. Rethinking the step forward he’d been about to do, he stayed where he was. Maybe she wasn’t right in the mind? Maybe she was lost and needed help.

Feeling a little worried about her, he held up a hand. “Hey, Hannah. Are you okay?”

But instead of answering him, or even smiling back like a normal person would, she simply stared.

He tried again. “I’m Isaac Troyer.” When no look of recognition flickered in her eyes, he added, “I’m your neighbor. We met at church, soon after you moved in. Remember?”

She clenched her fists but otherwise seemed to be trying hard to regain some self-control. After another second, color bloomed in her cheeks. “I’m Hannah Hilty.”

“Yeah. I know.” Obviously, he’d known it. Hadn’t she heard him say her name? He smiled at her, hoping she’d see the humor in their conversation. It was awfully intense for two neighbors having to reacquaint themselves.
By his reckoning, anyway.

She still didn’t smile back. Actually, she didn’t do much of anything at all, besides gaze kind of blankly at him.

Belatedly, he started wondering if something had happened to her on her walk. “Hey, are you okay? Are you hurt or something?”

Her hand clenched into a fist. “Why do you ask?”

Everything he wanted to say sounded mean and rude. “You just, uh, seem out of breath.” And she was white as a sheet, looked like she’d just seen a monster, and could hardly speak.

Giving her an out, he said, “Are you lost?”

“Nee.”

He was starting to lose patience with her. All he’d wanted to do was sit on the bank with Spot and fish for an hour or two, not enter into some strange conversation with his neighbor girl.

“Okay, then. Well, I was just fishing, so I’m going to go back and do that.”

Just before he turned away, she took a deep breath. Then she spoke. “I’m sorry. I know I’m not making any sense.”

“You’re making sense.” Kind of. “But that said, you don’t got anything to be sorry for. It’s obvious you, too, were looking for a couple of minutes to be by yourself.”

“No, that ain’t it.” After taking another deep breath, she said, “Seeing you took me by surprise. That’s all.”
Isaac wasn’t enough of a jerk to not be aware that seeing a strange man, when you thought you were alone, might be scary to a timid girl like her.

“You took me by surprise, too. I never see anyone out here.”

Some of the muscles in her face and neck relaxed. After another second, she seemed to come to a decision and stepped closer to him. “Is that your dog?”

“Jah. His name is Spot, on account of the circle around his eye.”

“He looks to be a real fine hund.” She smiled.

And what a smile it was. Sweet, lighting up her eyes. Feeling a bit taken by surprise, too, he said, “He’s an Australian shepherd and real nice. Would you like to meet him?”

“Sure.” She smiled again, this time displaying pretty white teeth.

“Spot, come here, boy.”

With a stretch and a groan, Spot stood up, stretched again, then sauntered over. When he got to Isaac’s side, he paused. Isaac ran a hand along his back, then clicked his tongue, a sign for Spot to simply be a dog.

Spot walked right over and rubbed his nose along one of Hannah’s hands.

She giggled softly. “Hello, Spot. Aren’t you a handsome hund?” After she let Spot sniff her hand, she ran it along his soft fur. Spot, as could be expected, closed his eyes and enjoyed the attention.

“Look at that,” Hannah said. “He likes to be petted.”

“He’s friendly.”

“Do you go fishing here much?” she asked hesitantly.

“Not as much as I’d like to. I’m pretty busy. Usually, I’m helping my father on the farm or working in my uncle’s woodworking shop.” Because she seemed interested, he admitted, “I don’t get to sit around and just enjoy the day all that much.”

“And here I came and ruined your peace and quiet.”

“I didn’t say that. You’re fine.”

She didn’t look as if she believed him. Actually, she looked even more agitated. Taking a step backward, she said, “I should probably let you get back to your fishing, then.”

“I don’t care about that. I’d rather talk to you.”

Her eyes widened. “Oh?”

“Jah. I mean, we’re neighbors and all.” When she still looked doubtful, he said, “Besides, everyone is curious about you.”

“I don’t know why. I’m just an Amish girl.”

He thought she was anything but that. “Come on,” he chided. “You know what I’m talking about.”

Looking even more unsure, she shook her head.

“First off, I’ve hardly even seen you around town, only on Sundays when we have church. And even then you never stray from your parents’ side. That’s kind of odd.”

“I’m still getting used to being here in Kentucky,” she said quickly.

“What is there to get used to?” he joked. “We’re just a small community in the middle of cave country.”

To his surprise, she stepped back. “I guess getting used to my new home is taking me a while. But that doesn’t mean anything.”

Aware that he’d hurt her feelings, he realized that he should have really watched his tone. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you. I was just saying that the way you’ve been acting has everyone curious. That’s why people are calling you ‘The Recluse.’ ”

“ ‘The Recluse’?”

“Well, jah. I mean you truly are an Amish woman of mystery,” he said, hoping she’d tease him right back like his older sister would have done.

She did not.

Actually, she looked like she was about to cry, and it was his doing.

When was he ever going to learn to read people better? Actually, he should knock some sense into himself. He’d been a real jerk. “Sorry. I didn’t intend to sound so callous.”

“Well, you certainly did.”

“Ah, you are right. It was a bad joke.”

“I better go.”

Staring at her more closely, he noticed that those pretty hazel eyes of hers looked kind of shimmery, like a whole mess of tears was about to fall. Now he felt worse than bad.“Hey, are you going to be okay getting home? I could walk you back, if you’d like.”

“Danke, nee.”

Reaching out, he grasped Spot by his collar. “I don’t mind at all. It will give us a chance to—”

She cut him off. “I do not want or need your help.” She was staring at him like he was scary. Like he was the type of guy who would do her harm.

That bothered him.

“Look, I already apologized. You don’t need to look at me like I’m going to attack you or something. I’m just trying to be a good neighbor.”

She flinched before visibly collecting herself. “I understand. But like I said, I don’t want your help. I will be fine.”

When he noticed that Spot was also sensing her distress, he tried again even though he knew he should just let her go. “I was done fishing anyway. All I have to do is grab my pole. Then Spot and I could walk with you.”

“What else do I have to say for you to listen to me?” she fairly cried out. “Isaac, I do not want you to walk me anywhere.” She turned and darted away, sliding back into the brush. No doubt about to get covered in more scratches and poison ivy.

Well, she’d finally said his name, and it certainly did sound sweet on her lips.

Too bad she was now certain to avoid him for the rest of her life. He really hoped his mother was never going to hear about how awful he’d just been. She’d be so disappointed.

He was disappointed in himself, and was usually a lot more patient with people. He liked that about himself, too. And this girl? Well, she needed someone, too. But she seemed even afraid of her shadow.

***

Excerpt from Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray. Copyright © 2017 by Shelley Shepard Gray. Reproduced with permission from HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Author Bio

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

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