Tag Archives: romantic suspense
Publisher: Wave Equation Media
Release Date: April 7, 2020
Jake Evans isn’t looking for love when he walks into a dive bar while on leave, just a beer and a no-strings hookup. Fiona Flynn isn’t even looking for a date. She’s got a musical career to launch and a past heartache to overcome.
When Jake sees the stunning singer on stage, he knows he wants her – maybe for more than one night. Fiona can’t deny the chemistry between them, and she can’t ignore her growing feelings for the hot sailor with the easy smile.
Their sweet, sexy, long-distance love affair comes to a screeching halt when Jake is injured overseas. Wrecked body and soul, Jake can’t imagine a different kind of life, for himself or with Fiona. But when the unthinkable happens, and Fiona’s life hangs in the balance, Jake will have to rediscover his inner warrior in order to save her.
About the Author
Maggie Clare is the pen name of award-winning speculative fiction writer, Tabitha Lord. When channeling Maggie, she writes all the sexy things! Sing for Me is the first book in her Tactical Solutions International romantic suspense series.
Book 1 Phantom Force Tactical Series
Date Published: April 2016
“Engaging read. Hard to put down.” — Billy Allmon, U.S. Navy SEAL (Ret)
He’s a relentless homicide detective. She’s an uncompromising journalist.
Neither desires to work together—but they’ll never uncover the truth alone.
Landing a front page headline isn’t why reporter Caitlin Sparks is investigating a string of suspicious deaths connected to the U.S. State Department. She has a personal stake in finding the killer.
Detective Blake Madison has a connection to the murders too, and will risk anything to uncover the truth. But a journalist is the last person he’d rely on to help him solve a crime—especially one whose trail of evidence leads back to him.
Joining forces becomes essential as the body count continues to grow. Someone powerful doesn’t want the truth to come out—and will stop at nothing to make sure no one talks.
On the run with nowhere to turn, the couple devises a plan to expose the killer. The risk is great and the chance of success small, but the ultimate outcome is something neither one of them envisioned.
IndieBRAG Medallion Winner
Blake stroked her hair. “It’s okay, baby. Just a nightmare.”
“It seemed so real.” Caitlin felt his arms tighten around her, felt the power in them, and appreciated the comforting peace they provided. She had never felt so exposed, and yet so safe and secure. She turned her head and strained to see into the darkness again. “It felt like he was really here.”
“Dreams have a way of doing that.” He rocked her for a few more minutes in his soothing embrace, and then whispered in her ear. “Better?”
Caitlin took a few more deep breaths, and then tried to draw away, embarrassed. “Yes. I’m all right.” Again, she peered over her shoulder into the darkness to see if the figure would reappear. “Sorry if I woke you.”
Blake did not release his grasp. “Don’t worry. You didn’t wake me.”
Caitlin knew it was useless to struggle so she rested her head against his chest again and tried to relax. Her mind drifted back to a time when she had been intimidated by this man. Now his mere presence was reassuring. His touch, his voice, brought security and a sense of peace.
“That’s better.” He cleared his throat, but it still sounded hoarse when he talked. “I wish you would put the past behind you.”
Caitlin’s breath caught in her throat. That’s what Vince had just told her. She pulled away and regarded Blake with a troubled look. Had Vince been trying to tell her something from the other side that was merely being echoed by Blake? Was it time to move on with her life? Was she ready for that?
She lay her head down again before answering. “I’m not sure I want to yet.”
Blake’s chest rose against her cheek as he sucked in a deep, slow breath, but he didn’t speak and his grasp was unrelenting. She savored the sensation of being held by him with her head against his heart, keenly aware of the solidness of his arms and the warmth of his skin. His embrace was powerful and tender, strong and gentle.
She allowed herself to bask briefly in the peaceful, shared moment, but then feared she was being selfish. He’s probably uncomfortable and wants to go back to bed. “I’m okay,” she murmured into his chest, trying to reassure him. “You can let me go now, Blake.” She opened her eyes when he finally answered.
“I’m not sure I want to yet.”
About the Author
Jessica James’ award-winning novels are inspired by her love of the land, her belief in everlasting love, and her curiosity about the past. Her novels run the gamut from military suspense and thrillers to historical fiction, Christian fiction, and small-town Southern women’s fiction.
She enjoys transporting readers to another world with complex characters and stories that stir deep emotion. Her novels appeal to both men and women and are featured in library collections all over the United States including Harvard and the U.S. Naval Academy. She resides in a 200-year-old house in Gettysburg, Pa.
Macy Adams, a beautiful law student, is abducted and assaulted by a vicious serial killer known as the Bayou Butcher. She escapes with the help of a guardian angel and Houston Police Detective Chance O’Brien.
After fleeing her captor, she begins to build a new life, but is plunged back into his murderous grasp by circumstances beyond her control.
More women are murdered, and only Macy can help the FBI catch the Butcher before he kills again. What they don’t know is that this time he is out for revenge and is pulling Macy into his carefully planned trap.
“Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself.” Desiderius Erasmus
Ba Boom! Ba Boom! Ba Boom! The noise was deafening. A drum or a clock. Yes, a tick but no tock. Not a clock. Not a drum. Louder. Hammering. Beating. Ba Boom! Ba Boom! Ba Boom!
Macy moved her head from side to side and tried to open her eyes. Where was she? What was that sound? She was in a terrible dream. The kind that you have when you want to scream and scream, but you can’t. You try to run, and your feet won’t move. It’s as if they are glued to the floor. Why couldn’t she open her eyes? Why couldn’t she see?
Macy reached to cover her ears. Her chest ached from the vibrations. Her hands refused to move. Her legs were paralyzed. She realized her eyes were already open and she gasped for air.
She could hear the pounding even louder coming from deep inside. Inside of her. Macy realized the pounding was her own heart beating inside her chest. “Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God!”
Darkness! “Oh, my God!” She exhaled slowly. Was she blind? Or was she just trapped? Would she stay in this darkness forever? Once, when she was a teenager during a truth or dare game, somebody asked her to name her worst fear. She hadn’t told the truth then. To do so would have made it real. Make it something that could really happen. But, it did happen. This was her nightmare. The one she’d had since childhood. To be trapped, in darkness with no one. Alone. Left to go insane for all of eternity.
Macy sucked air into her lungs. It hurt to breathe. She could only manage small puffs. Tears poured down her face, and she sobbed in desperation.
Again, she pulled at her arms, but they were held down. She couldn’t move. Confused and bewildered, she cried harder. Her body shook with spasms. What had happened to her? Was she dead? She began to recite her childhood prayer.
“Macy,” a soft voice spoke to her from the darkness. A woman’s voice. “Macy, hush.” The voice caressed her. “You aren’t alone. I am here with you.”
The woman’s voice was low and raspy, and Macy strained to hear her. She spoke with an accent Macy didn’t recognize. Macy had often heard Cuban or Mexican accents since she moved from Florida to Houston, Texas, but this was different. She felt someone hold her hand and rub her arm. The woman’s touch was like silk. It soothed her, and Macy found that her tremors lessened.
“I’m dead, aren’t I? Am I in hell? No, can’t be. I don’t believe in hell. Where am I? What happened to me? What have I done to deserve this?” Macy began to sob again and found it difficult to swallow. Her throat was raw from her screams.
“No, my little one, not dead,” the voice whispered. “You are very much alive, and I will help you stay that way. But, you must listen, Malyshka, and do what I tell you. He will be back soon.”
Macy pulled her arms forward again and discovered why she couldn’t move them. Her wrists were bound above her head, and it felt like her feet were bound as well. Because of the soothing voice and calming presence of the woman, her horror eased.
“Please, oh please, untie me,” she pleaded. “I can’t move. I can’t breathe. I can’t see. Am I blind?”
“No, not blind, but blindfolded. You are in a dark and evil place. I would gladly free you if I had the power, but I do not. I cannot. I can only be with you and guide you.”
The voice seemed to be moving away, getting softer, and becoming more difficult to hear.
“Oh, don’t go. Don’t leave me. Please don’t leave me,” Macy begged.
A whisper in her ear. A soft flutter on her skin. “I will not leave you. You are a strong woman. You will survive. I know this. I have seen it. Hush now. He is back, and you must pretend to be asleep.”
“But, who are you? Where am I?” Macy was building toward hysteria again.
“Shhh. Evil is here. Close your eyes now. Be brave,” the voice whispered as it moved away.
Macy swallowed and listened for whoever he was. She heard what sounded like a door opening and was about to scream for help when she heard a man say in a sing-song voice, “Macy, oh Macy. I’m here. I’ll bet you can’t wait to see me!”
Macy swallowed again, closed her eyes, and followed the woman’s warning. She pretended to be asleep.
~ ~ ~
Martin Sabien turned and unlocked the padlock on the outside of the large steel door and swung it open into the dark garage. He flipped up the switch just inside the door, and the small, yellow light from the ceiling blinked on revealing walls that were soundproofed with two layers of drywall and fiberglass insulation. In the far corner of the garage was a white Chevy van that Martin inherited when his father died from a stroke two years earlier. He also inherited the small one-story home set on two acres on the outskirts of Splendora, a small town about thirty-five miles north of Houston. Martin had been bringing his women to the garage for the better part of a year.
He blamed most of his bad luck on women. They always got the plum positions and all the breaks. His mother took off when he was seven, and his daddy always said it was because Martin was a little pussy pecker. Just a mamby pamby like her. He didn’t know what that was, but he knew he didn’t want to be like that, so he did everything he could to make his daddy happy.
Martin stood only five-foot-seven inches with his boots on, but he worked out regularly and had plenty of muscles to impress the ladies. His scruffy whiskers and black-framed glasses made his face appear what most people would call unremarkable. Women walked right by him as if he were invisible.
Martin’s father, who worked as a guard at one of the local malls, came home every day wearing his rent-a-cop uniform and swaggered into the house. Right then, Martin decided he would one-up the old man and be a real cop. He was a fair student in high school and made good enough grades to get accepted into college. His father would never say it, but he was proud of his only son.
As soon as Martin turned twenty-one, he applied to all of the local law enforcement agencies in Houston and the surrounding counties. He was not accepted and decided it was because they were hiring women and queers, and not good, solid, educated men like himself. With no prospects for a job after he graduated with his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, he decided to work on his master’s degree and was hired as a teaching assistant. Suddenly, the world looked different. Women that never looked his way before would smile at him because they knew he graded their work. But Martin was not a forgiving man, and he wasn’t interested in what the ladies wanted to give him. Now, he was only interested in taking.
Martin walked to the back of the garage where a large, old, rectangular wooden box sat upon a sturdy worktable, and called out again to Macy.
Suddenly Macy’s world was flooded with light. She wanted to open her eyes wide to prove that she could still see, but she remembered the words, “Pretend to be asleep.” She tried to breathe evenly and not flinch when she felt a hand engulf her neck and then travel down her breasts and come to rest between her legs. It was only then she realized she was completely naked. His other hand grabbed her breast and pinched the nipple until Macy thought she would cry out.
“You’re good. Let me tell you.” He ripped off her blindfold. “All my other girls started begging and crying as soon as I opened the lid. You stay in there long enough; you’ll do just about anything I want. Huh, Macy?”
When she didn’t respond, he brought the flat of his hand down quickly and slapped her hard on her left cheek, forcing her head to nod and her eyes to pop open. Tears of pain swam in her blue eyes.
“There now. I didn’t think you were still out. I didn’t give you enough to last long. Won’t do any good to pretend. I know all your tricks.”
Macy licked her parched lips and said, “Who are you? What do you want with …”
Martin brought his hand down harder. This time the force of the blow across her face caused Macy to bite her tongue. Blood trickled from between her lips. She could taste it, salty and metallic.
“You don’t talk. Not unless I tell you to talk. Do you hear me? I am the one in charge here, not you, Macy.” He said her name drawing out the last syllable as he reached down and smeared the blood over her chest.
Macy’s tears were flowing freely now, and she could no longer contain herself. She began to sob uncontrollably.
“Not so strong now, are you?” He reached into the box and freed her hands and feet that were tied to the pine box. For a small man, he was exceptionally strong. He easily lifted Macy’s five-foot-eight-inch frame from her prison and roughly deposited her feet first on the concrete floor. She teetered unevenly and almost fell until he pulled her up and steadied her with his hand around her neck again. Her hands and feet were still bound together, and the ropes cutting into her skin were blood-soaked from her unsuccessful attempts to free herself. Macy tried to look around to see where she was, but he pulled his hand back to slap her again, and she flinched.
“Got ya, huh? Never know when it’s coming. You know, I usually wear a mask and don’t let the girls see me. But you, you’re special. I picked you out a long time ago. Gonna have a really good time for a long time with you, sweetheart.”
Macy looked at the man standing in front of her and tried to recall who he was. Something was familiar about him, but she couldn’t place him. He wasn’t ugly. He was just nondescript. If someone asked her to identify him, she would say he had dark hair and dark, soulless eyes. He was young. Maybe her age, and she had just turned twenty-four in January. She doubted she would see twenty-five.
He dragged her across the floor toward what looked like a daybed with a brass frame across the back and sides. She choked back a laugh. A cherry red quilt with matching pillows covered the bed. He was quite the homemaker.
“Something funny?” he asked as he dragged her across the room and threw her face down on the cover.
He pulled her arms up above her head and tied them to the frame, loosened her feet, and tied them separately to each side of the foot of the bed. She could smell sweat and his unwashed body. Panting and sweating now, he discarded his clothes haphazardly on the floor and climbed on top of her.
“No, no. Please. Please don’t do this to me.” Her whimpering, begging sounds quickly turned into piercing screams.
~ ~ ~
She lay crumpled on the bed for what seemed like hours, and when he finally loosened her arms and legs from the bed frame, she sat up and vomited all over the floor, barely missing his naked legs. He yanked her hair so hard she thought he would pull it out and slapped her twice more in the face. Blood poured out of her broken nose.
When he returned her to the box, it was a relief. Although she was still terrified of being left alone in the dark, she was exhausted and hurt. Her face burned where he hit her, and she could feel her swollen lips when she licked them with her tongue. She was thirsty and would have been hungry if she wasn’t so sick at her stomach.
Martin leaned down inches from her face and spoke, “Night night. Well, not the whole night. I have some things to do, but I’ll be back.” Although Macy’s mouth was dry, she managed to produce enough saliva to spit in his eyes.
“Bitch,” he yelled and punched her hard in her stomach. The air left her lungs, and she struggled to breathe. He punched her again and then slammed the lid down and hammered it into place.
She slowly sucked air into her lungs between clenched teeth and listened. Finally, she heard the door open and then close.
She was alone.
About the Authors
Charlene Tess and Judi Thompson are sisters who live over 1400 miles apart. They combined their two last names into the pen name Tess Thompson and have been writing novels together since 2002.
Date Published: August 27, 2019
Laura’s life is shattered overnight when her family is targeted by a new right wing hate group being investigated by her brother, Shane. Shane is a young, hard driven FBI agent who sees everything in black and white. Caught up in an unimaginable nightmare, Laura has to run for her life and find the inner drive and strength to endure it.
Shane helps her change her identity and hides her in a place totally foreign to her, under the protection of a quiet fisherman named Nick Kasonovic. But he’s a complete stranger to her—with demons of his own. There’s a powerful magnetism drawing Laura and Nick together from their first meeting, but will she be safe with him? Shane and his team of agents are in a race against time to stop the violent hate group before they find his sister.
About the Author
S. K. Brown was born in Provo, Utah in 1963 while her parents were attending college at Brigham Young University. Her family lived in several places when she was a child: Washington State, Nebraska, and Los Angeles, California. Her father was the Chairman of the Art Department at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. They moved to Tacoma, Washington when she was fourteen after her father decided to give up teaching to pursue his art full time. She is the eldest of five children.
She also attended Brigham Young University and earned a bachelor of science degree. She met her husband, Marc Brown, of over thirty years there. They live in Washington State near the base of beautiful Mount Rainier, near the Puget Sound. They have four grown children and a growing number of sweet grandchildren whom they adore.
S. K. Brown has wanted to be a writer since she was nine years old, but she also enjoys a number of other interests. She loves everything to do with the outdoors, especially in the stunning Pacific Northwest. She loves camping (yes, tent camping), hiking, kayaking, and occasional bike rides. She loves gardening, sewing, knitting, and, of course, reading. She also has a passion for genealogy because she grew up in a family of storytellers, stretching back for several generations.
Date Published: October 2019
Pepper Chan tried to leave the scars of her abduction behind her when she joined her current veterinary practice. However, a chance encounter with Roddy Eastman, the brother of her former best friend, leaves her shaken and desperate to keep her distance. The last thing Pepper wants to do is relive the terrible ordeal from so many years ago. Her kidnapper was never caught, and Pepper is afraid to trust anyone.
Attorney Roddy Eastman is determined to find out why Dr. Chan wants to avoid him. He tries to convince himself that his drive to seek out answers from her is just his concern for his sister’s friend and not something deeper—like his long-standing attraction to her since high school.
The sudden murder of her boyfriend makes it clear that a deranged murderer is taunting Pepper, waiting for the right moment to strike. When Pepper reluctantly reaches out to him, Roddy offers her his help. Together, they must dig into her past to uncover the identity of the stalker before his twisted plans can become a reality.
The raven-haired veterinarian stepped into the examining room and watched as a frustrated man tried to gain control of the angry, spitting cat climbing up his arm.
After tightening his grip on the short-haired, gray feline, he looked up at her. She recognized the boyish smile on the handsome man’s face. It was Roddy Eastman, and he was even more attractive now than he had been when they were in high school in Angel Falls. “How can I help you, Mr. Eastman?”
His eyes widened, and he stammered, “Pepper Chan?”
She smiled and said, “Yes, it’s me. Long time no see. How’s your sister? I think about her often.”
“Kris is great.”
“When did you move to Albuquerque?” she said.
“I went to UNM, and after I graduated I stayed.”
“I understand you’ve acquired a new cat?”
“No, I mean, yes, but he acquired me, not the other way around. He showed up on my porch one day and has refused to leave. He thinks it’s okay to come into my house and sleep on my bed.” His eyes twinkled and he grinned. “I’m sorry. I’m babbling like an idiot.”
Pepper was amused at his efforts to control the cat. She hoped he wouldn’t lose a finger as he set the beat-up tom on the stainless-steel table. The animal hissed again, but Roddy held it firmly. She began to examine the cat and then heard a tap on the door.
Pepper turned toward her partner who was speaking from the doorway.
“Sorry, to interrupt, Pepper, but there’s a surgical emergency out here that I’d be more comfortable placing in your hands. I can take over here if you don’t mind?”
“Okay with you, Roddy?” Pepper said.
“Yeah, that’s fine. It was great seeing you again. I’ll tell Kris.”
~ ~ ~
Pepper had rushed out of the room so quickly that Roddy wasn’t sure she’d ever been there, or if she was merely a wishful daytime fantasy.
The doctor who took over for Pepper was a tall, buxom woman with blond hair and brown eyes peering out from glasses. She was a couple of inches shorter than he was, and she spoke with a distinctive Boston accent. She was friendly enough and seemed to take in stride the quick change in plans.
“Looks like this old boy has been around the block a few times, literally,” the vet said. “I’m Doctor Barbara Ashland, and what is this fellow’s name?”
“Devil Cat,” Roddy said giving the animal his best stern fatherly look. Changing the subject, he said, “I noticed Dr. Chan still uses her maiden name for the business. I guess she’s never been married?”
The look Ashland sent him made it clear how out-of-line his question had been.
“Sorry,” he muttered. “I knew her in high school.”
“I see. Well, I’ve been her partner for over a year, all I can tell you is she isn’t married now.” She scratched Devil Cat between the ears. “What’s the story?” Dr. Ashland said.
For a minute, Roddy thought she was talking about Pepper, but then he realized the doctor was asking about the cat. “One day, he showed up on my front porch and wouldn’t go away. So I fed him, and then next thing I knew, every time I opened the door he came inside. Seems to think he belongs there.” Roddy reached out and gave the cat a gentle pat. “To tell you the truth, the dang thing has grown on me.”
Dr. Ashland picked up a clipboard. “He needs shots, a check for worms, and he’ll need to be neutered, of course, but otherwise he looks good. You want to leave him today?”
“Uh, yeah, I guess.” Roddy’s brain was still trying to grasp what the vet had said, and he wanted to grab his own balls and hold on to them. He leaned over and whispered in the cat’s ear, “Sorry, man, I really am. I bet if you’d known this was going to happen, you’d have gone to someone else’s porch.”
~ ~ ~
Roddy rolled down the window on his pickup and threaded the cool breeze through his fingers. Early spring was one of his favorite seasons in Albuquerque, even if Mother Nature was fickle and unpredictable. Today, it was in the high seventies, but tomorrow a front could come pushing in and drop the temperatures into the forties. Most of the snow had melted off Sandia Peak, and the redbud trees were popping their blooms.
He sang along to a country love song on the radio, Roddy thought back to Pepper’s haunting eyes. She had been so gorgeous back when he was fifteen. Time had been good to her. She was still breathtaking. Her Chinese ancestry was evident in her shiny black hair and the shape of her eyes, but not their color. They were a deep, dark, indigo blue.
She had been his first serious crush, although she never gave him a second look. He remembered she had moved after her senior year, and he had thought about her now and again over the years. His older sister Kris was in the same grade as Pepper. Maybe she would know something more about her.
His truck bumped over the gravel road leading to his home and property. He’d scrimped and saved to put the down payment on the land when he’d first taken a position as a criminal defense attorney right out of law school. A few more years of saving and a couple of good verdicts had brought him more affluent clients who gave his bank account a much-needed boost. He was able to build a cozy, ranch-style home in Belen, a small community on the outskirts south of Albuquerque.
Kris’s black Dodge Ram was parked next to the barn where she kept her two prized quarter horses. After her separation from her husband, Roddy suggested she move in with him until she got back on her feet. Kris was still angry with her ex-husband. The rotten, drunken, SOB, as she liked to call him, had managed to gamble away almost everything they ever owned. All she had left were the horses and the truck because they were in her name before she married.
“Hey, little girl,” Roddy greeted his sister as he watched her groom the handsome chestnut horse.
“Hey, yourself,” she said, straightening up from cleaning out the animal’s hind hoof. “I thought you were going to drop off Hell Cat and go to your office.”
“Please, Sis, get it right. It’s Devil Cat. You’ll hurt his feelings.”
She put the horse’s leg down and walked toward Roddy. “I don’t see him anywhere around. I think I’m safe. I gather they could take care of him today?”
“Yeah, poor guy. He’s going to lose his nuts you know.”
“Weren’t you expecting that?”
“Eventually I guess, but not today.”
“Better him than you,” she laughed and punched him hard on the arm.
“Hey,” Roddy said. “What was that for? Because you hate the male species?”
“Not all,” she said, “just most. What’s up? Why are you back so early?”
After opening the gate to the pasture, Kris gently swatted the horse on the rump. Roddy helped her put the grooming tools away, and they walked back toward the house. “I can work from home tonight. I don’t have anything pressing, and I want to talk to you about something,” Roddy said.
“Do you remember Pepper Chan from high school?”
“Wow! Talk about a blast from the past,” Kris said while kicking off her muddy boots near the back door. “Sure, I remember Pepper. Why?”
“I saw her today. She’s a veterinarian now.”
“Small world isn’t it? I was so sad when her mom died, and she had to move and go live with her dad. We said we’d stay in contact with each other, and we did until we both started college. After that, I got a couple of emails and phone calls, but then they stopped. I always hated that we lost touch.” Kris moved toward the kitchen sink to wash her hands and said, “Well, how is she? How does she look? Is she married?”
“Beats me. Pepper didn’t stick around long enough for me to ask. She had an emergency, and another vet took over.”
“I remember hearing that something bad happened to her when she was in college,” Kris said, “but I never knew what.”
“Strange,” Roddy said, opening the refrigerator and taking out a beer. “I wonder what it was?”
“And you’re not going to leave it alone are you?”
“Not a chance.”
About the Author
Charlene Tess and Judi Thompson are sisters who live over 1400 miles apart. They combined their two last names into the pen name Tess Thompson and have been writing novels together since 2002.