Wednesday, August 17, 2022

In Danger of Judgment by David Rabin Blog Tour and Giveaway

 

In Danger of Judgment

by David Rabin

August 8 - September 2, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


Synopsis:


When a covert operation during the Vietnam War ends in tragedy, one of its members resolves to kill the man who betrayed it to the enemy. Now, fifteen years later, he'll finally get his chance.

Chicago, 1987. Home of mediocre baseball teams, gangs that rule the streets, and a Mexican drug cartel that supplies the city with heroin. Chicago Police Detective Marcelle DeSantis and her partner, Bernie Bernardelli, are working a series of heroin-related murders, and their job just got more complicated. The man who sabotaged the Vietnam operation, Robert Thornton, is now the chief enforcer for a Southeast Asian heroin cartel, and after fifteen years overseas he's arrived in Chicago to eliminate the reigning cartel and seize control of the city's heroin trade.

Racing to stop a drug war, Marcelle and Bernie don't realize they're about to be caught in a deadly crossfire: another man is circling in the wings, one of Thornton's soldiers from Vietnam, who's preparing to exact his long-sought revenge against his former mentor. He's the last person anyone would ever suspect, and when he finally makes his move, the paths of these four people will explosively converge.

Praise for In Danger of Judgment:

"In Danger of Judgment does a masterful job of juggling multiple, full-blooded characters through high-octane storytelling as they make their way to a shocking, violent ending. David Rabin is a name that is sure to become familiar among lovers of best-selling, full-throttle thrillers"

––David Shawn Klein, award-winning author of The Money

"Mr. Rabin brings a fresh set of characters to the tried-and-true crime drama, and his breezy narrative style and crackling dialogue kept me turning the pages well past my bedtime."

––Ronald Aiken, author of Death Has Its Benefits and former president of The Atlanta Writers

"Kudos to Mr. Rabin on the high quality of the prose, the thrilling plot with a twist and surprise ending, and the extensive research that went into this novel. I highly recommend it."

––Jill Caugherty, author of Waltz in Swing Time

“Well-developed characters drive Rabin’s taut thriller. . . . the story builds to a lengthy, sensational final act, brimming with well-earned suspense”

––Kirkus Reviews

"A stunning debut, David Rabin's In Danger of Judgment is an engrossing page-turner. Shocking twists barrel full-speed into an action-packed and tense crime thriller readers won’t see coming.... Builds an intricately-plotted crime thriller that’s cinematic and wildly compelling. The author’s prose is concise and 'unputdownable,' skilled at giving a tangible sense of the time period these characters inhabit."

––IndieReader

My Review:

While the first half of the novel seemed a bit slow to me, the second half took off and captured me. The plot is an interesting exploration of the potential ramifications of military training and drug dealing during the Vietnam war. Some of the American soldiers continued those practices after the war, honing their skills to deadly perfection.

Rabin has provided a good balance of personal life and suspenseful action. I liked John, the character on the spectrum. I appreciated the information about his psychological condition and how it made him perfect for certain deeds.

This is a good novel for readers who would like an engaging story centering around the activities rumored to have taken place during the Vietnam war. You'll encounter drug lord rivals, more assassinations than can be counted, a couple of tenacious detectives, and a suspenseful end with a good twist. This is the first novel I have read by Rabin. He is a clever writer and I will be looking for more from him.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

 

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thriller
Published by: Black Rose Writing
Publication Date: August 4th 2022
Number of Pages: 369
ISBN: 1685130593 (ISBN13: 9781685130596)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Black Rose Writing

Don't Miss this Video Trailer

Read an excerpt:

Prologue

1968 - 1972
South Vietnam

The eight men filing into the Tactical Operations Center had six days’ beard growth, they reeked of sweat and jungle, and their clothes were smeared with soil and grime and still-wet enemy blood.

Major Henry Sampson waited for them at a table at the rear of the TOC, as far away as they could get from the beeping, static, and chatter of the radios. The men settled themselves around the table and didn’t wait for Sampson to ask a question. They’d just completed their fourth mission, and by now they knew the debriefing procedure.

“Eleven,” said the first man.

In due course, Sampson would steer them to other aspects of the mission, but they always started with what was most important: the number of enemy killed in action.

Sampson had had a rude awakening a few years earlier, during his first tour in South Vietnam. He was a West Point man, a professional soldier to the core, but Vietnam was a war unlike any he’d prepared for. In every war America had ever fought, the objective was to capture and hold territory, but in Vietnam, that was never the goal. The only metric that mattered was the body count.

“Tell me about the first one,” Sampson said.

“Sentry in the southwest sector. Older than usual, thirties, maybe, leaning against a tree with a Chicom AK slung over his shoulder. He wasn’t even scanning, just gazing into the distance, probably thinking about his old lady back in Hanoi. I snake-crawled from the rear, put my hand over his mouth, and pulled back. Three stabs and a slash through the neck. No sound.”

The man described the rest of his kills and then they went around the table. By the time they finished, the count reached 102. It was a good night’s work.

Sometimes the body count was so high that Sampson wondered whether they were exaggerating, but he questioned them carefully and they convinced him the count was true. When the two guys from the Department of Defense had given him the assignment, he didn’t dream the men would kill so many.

* * *

The DOD men had arrived by helicopter on a soggy December morning in 1968, late in the rainy season at Phu Bai, South Vietnam, where Sampson was stationed with the 101st Airborne Division. They weren’t in uniform, but from the way they exited the Huey—quickly and gracefully—Sampson could tell they’d spent some time in the bush.

There was no fanfare on their arrival. That was by design. Sampson had been told the men would meet with him and then leave, and the fewer the people that knew about the meeting, the better.

The DOD men introduced themselves as Robinson and Reese, and it occurred to Sampson that whoever gave them their code names must have been a Dodgers fan. They wore identical navy-blue suits, white shirts, muted ties, and blank expressions. Robinson was black and Reese was white, but otherwise they could have been twins.

Sampson took them to his hooch, a rudimentary structure of plywood elevated a foot off the ground and divided into four living quarters. Inside, the décor was olive drab, drab being the operative word. Sampson’s corner had a cot, a small desk, makeshift shelves, a locker, and a table fan.

He pulled over a couple of folding chairs for the two men to sit on. Sampson wished he had a conference room befitting their importance, but the hooch was the only venue at the base where they could be assured of privacy. He’d made sure that the other three officers who lived there would be absent for the meeting’s duration.

Reese got it started as Robinson shook a Marlboro out of a hard pack and lit it with a Zippo. “We’re going to tell you some stuff you may already know, but bear with us. We’ll get to the good part shortly.”

Sampson sat up straight and did his best to look attentive. “I’m at your disposal, sir.”

“When you got here,” Reese said, “you were fighting the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army. The VC are still around, but we hit them so hard during Tet that they’re no longer a major threat to the South. That’s why you’re now focused on the NVA.”

Robinson took the baton. “The NVA’s constantly moving men and supplies down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, infiltrating into the South, probing for weaknesses. Occasionally, they attack us and the South Vietnamese, and then they hightail it back to the North. Now, we both know that in a war you’re supposed to pursue the enemy, take the fight to them instead of the other way around. That’s how it’s always been done, but this is Vietnam, where nothing gets done the way it’s supposed to.”

“We’re not allowed to send ground troops into the North,” Sampson said.

Reese nodded. “That’s right, and it’s not because our civilian leadership is spineless, contrary to what you guys in-country may believe. North Vietnam has a great, big patron on its northern border called Communist China. In ’64, the Chinese told us that if we sent boots north of the 17th parallel, they’d intervene on behalf of their North Vietnamese comrades. Meaning, they’d send a few million Red Chinese soldiers down south, just like they did in Korea when we drove too far north, and we all know how that turned out for us.”

“Not real well.”

“Yeah. Not real well. We want to help the South Vietnamese, but we don’t want to start World War Three. Frustrating for us, frustrating for you.”

“I don’t make policy, sir. My duty is to follow orders and execute the mission.”

“I’m glad you mentioned that,” Robinson said, “because we came here to give you a mission.”

“Sir?”

Robinson stubbed out his cigarette and leaned forward. “You are very quietly going to insert ground troops into North Vietnam.”

They proceeded to tell him about the operation they wanted him to supervise: how the men would be selected, how they’d be trained, and the nature of the missions. They spoke for nearly an hour. Sampson listened intently, saying nothing. When they finished, they asked if he had any questions.

He did indeed have a question, though he hesitated to ask it, fearing they might think him insolent. But it was such an obvious issue, he just had to ask. “Why go to all this effort? All this planning, the massive selection process, the special training? Why don’t you use the men you already have?”

The DOD men looked at each other without a trace of reaction, communicated telepathically, and turned back to Sampson. “That’s above your pay grade,” Reese said, “but if you’re not comfortable with this op, we can find someone else.”

Now Sampson wished he hadn’t asked, but he recovered quickly. “I can do it,” he said.

“There’s one more thing. The body count is important—the higher the better, of course—and it needs to be accurate. You’ll have to drill it into the men to keep an accurate count. Can you do that, Major?”

“I can do it.”

Sampson thought the whole thing was a crock, just another foolhardy operation in a senseless war. But they got through the selection process and trained the men, and when they were finally let loose on their missions, they surpassed everyone’s expectations. The body counts were staggering.

* * *

It was now late 1972, and Team One was nearing the end of its sixth mission. The Huey had inserted them six nights ago. They’d spent three nights approaching the target camp, followed by three nights of recon. Seven of them would attack the camp, and the eighth would remain just outside the camp’s perimeter to cover them as they withdrew.

They wore no insignia and bore no identification, all to give the government plausible deniability if things went south. For the same reason, they never called each other by name during their missions. They were Ares Numbers One through Eight, a bit of theater they deemed absurd but acquiesced to nonetheless.

They killed time with the usual idle chatter: their favorite bands, best road trips, girlfriends good and bad. In their three years together, they’d told the same stories so many times that the telling was no longer the point. It was how they reinforced the bonds among them.

“Okay, guys,” Ares One said, “fifteen minutes till go time.”

They synched their watches, and as they went through one last gear check, Four addressed the elephant in the room. “The war’s almost over, so this is probably our last mission.”

Silence. No one wanted to talk about it.

“You know I’m right,” Four continued. “The Paris peace talks are barreling down the tracks. Kissinger went on TV and said peace is at hand.” He absent-mindedly checked his M16 again. “When we started out, I thought you guys were a bunch of losers, and now I don’t want it to end.”

“Jesus, you’re a downer,” Five said. “Look, when we get back, we’ll do it up right. Get us a case of that black-market champagne, put on some CCR and turn it all the way up.”

“Temptations,” said Seven.

Everyone laughed. Seven loved Motown.

“Enough of this shit,” Three said. “If this is our last mission, I don’t want the perimeter again. I want some action. Lemme be on the assault team.”

Two shook his head. “If Sampson and Thornton find out you violated the orders—”

“Fuck ’em,” Three said. “What’re they gonna do, fire me?”

No one had a response to that unassailable logic, and Three turned to Six. “Let me take your place,” Three said. “Take the easy duty tonight.”

Six looked at the others. They all nodded.

Three and Six exchanged weapons and ammo, Six getting the sniper kit. They all gave each other thumbs-up, and the seven men on the assault team moved silently into their assigned sectors.

Six checked his watch. The men would breach in twenty minutes and return one hour after that. He had nothing to do now but wait.

He stared into the darkness, listening to the sounds of the jungle and imagining the men—

Gunfire.

There should not have been gunfire.

It was not the treble staccato of American M16s. It was the bass thuds of Chinese AKs.

The gunfire ended abruptly, and then all was silent.

A flood of thoughts coursed through his brain.

His friends were dead.

The enemy had known they were coming, and so the enemy knew he was here.

And now, the enemy would come for him.

* * *

Sampson sat in his hooch, drinking his fourth Scotch of the night. The operation had gone along like clockwork until that bastard Thornton went rogue, the chief instructor selling out his own men.

The higher-ups had immediately terminated the entire operation, and Sampson could just imagine the hysteria now playing out at DOD. First, there would be recriminations. Who picked Thornton? Who vetted him? How in the hell did no one foresee this? Then they’d have to invent stories to tell the families, explaining why the bodies of their sons and brothers weren’t coming home. They’d prime people to describe how heroically the men had died, so the families would buy it and not inquire further. And once the cover-up started, they’d have to cover up the cover-up. It would feed on itself and grow exponentially until the cover-up itself was more important than the events that birthed it.

As distasteful as it was, Sampson knew there was nothing else they could do. If the public ever learned the whole story, there’d be more heads rolling at DOD than bowling balls at the local alley on dollar night.

* * *

Three weeks after the operation ended, the DOD men visited Sampson again.

In the four years since he’d last seen them, Sampson’s world had changed dramatically. The war was winding down and would end soon—and for Sampson, that was a problem. The way to get ahead in the military was to serve in a war zone. He’d done multiple tours in Vietnam, but once this war ended, who knew when there would be another one? He would have to find a way to make himself invaluable.

When the DOD men arrived, they looked just the same as before, all the way down to their navy-blue suits and inscrutable faces. They assured Sampson that no one blamed him for the unfortunate way the operation had ended. They complimented him on how well he’d run it, and on the results the men had obtained. A promotion to lieutenant colonel was already in the works.

When he heard the word “promotion,” Sampson knew they were about to get to the real point of the meeting. Guys like them always dangled a prize before asking for something.

“There are two other things,” Robinson said. “DOD wants to keep the operation and its outcome confidential.”

No kidding, Sampson thought. “What else?”

“The upper echelon at DOD considers the remaining men to be somewhat unstable.”

“What you mean is, you think they’re crazy.”

“However one puts it, given their, uh, mental disposition, we consider it prudent to monitor them until the last of them has passed away.”

Sampson saw the logic of it. “Where do I fit in?”

“The perpetuation of secrecy and the observation of the men are related tasks, and we need someone to oversee both. We’d be pleased if you could do that, at least until your retirement, which we hope will be many years from now. Can you do that, Major?”

At that moment, Sampson saw his future.

These assignments were delicate. They were critical. They would last the rest of his career.

They were giving him a way to make himself invaluable.

He took his time and pretended to think about it, not wanting to look too eager, then slowly nodded.

“I can do it,” Sampson said, though it would be another fifteen years before he’d discover just how complicated it could get.

Chapter 1

Sunday, May 10, 1987
8:02 p.m.
Chicago

Marcelle leaned against the railing of an apartment building at the south end of the 3700 block of Wilton Avenue, waiting for someone, though not for anyone in particular. She’d been there for five minutes and decided to wait another two before moving on.

The street was deserted, the residents having battened down the hatches in anticipation of twilight. An empty Old Style can rolled down the street in a grating, metallic rhythm, pushed by the wind coming off Lake Michigan a mile to the east. The only sign of life was the rumbling of an L train on the tracks a half-block from where she stood. The neighborhood seemed peaceful, though she knew its tranquility could be deceiving.

She was about to give up on this spot when two men in their late teens rounded the corner at the other end of the block and began walking toward her. They wore the gray and black colors of the area’s predominant street gang, the Latin Eagles, and they walked with a slow swagger as if they owned the place, which they pretty much did. One was taller and one was shorter, and thus became, in her lexicon, Mr. Tall and Mr. Short.

The instant they saw her, they broke into big smiles and started conversing energetically. She’d gotten their attention. It didn’t surprise her, because she was accustomed to getting attention. She was about five-eight and in her late twenties, with dark brown hair that barely touched her shoulders and a face that belonged on a magazine cover. Tonight she wore a light coat that was open at the front. Marcelle always dressed for success.

The men were five steps away now.

She put her right hand in her coat pocket.

Que pasa, mami chula,” said Mr. Tall.

They walked back and forth around her from opposite sides, examining her from head to toe and leering at her, no doubt expecting she’d panic and try to extricate herself.

Except she didn’t.

Instead, she smiled at them.

It was a beautiful, radiant, magazine-cover smile, and because it was the last thing they’d expected, they froze in their tracks.

Her hand came out of her coat pocket.

It held a badge case.

“Detective Marcelle DeSantis,” she said, “and I want you to know I do appreciate the compliment.”

Mierda,” said Mr. Short.

“We don’t talk to police,” said Mr. Tall.

Her smile turned into a pout. “A minute ago, you thought I was sexy, and now you don’t even want to talk to me? My feelings are hurt.”

The men looked dumbfounded. Marcelle figured no police had ever spoken to them that way, and she took the opening. “I’m not here to hassle you guys. You’re just two fine-looking dudes strolling down the street. Fact is, I need your help.”

Now they looked intrigued. “Help with what?” asked Short.

“I want to find the guy who killed your friends. Hector, Ramon, Angel, and Luis.”

“We take care of our own business,” said Tall.

“That’s good to know. Have you found the guy yet?”

Again, they were speechless.

“I know you want to find the guy who did it,” Marcelle said. “You want revenge, and you want people to know they shouldn’t screw with the Latin Eagles. The problem is, you won’t find him on your own.”

“Why not?” asked Tall.

“Because he’s a pro and you guys aren’t exactly Sherlock Holmes. If he gets found, it’s going to be the Chicago Police Department that does it.”

Tall shrugged. “We don’t know anything.”

“Okay,” she said, “but maybe you’ll remember something or hear something.”

“What do we get if we help you?” Short asked.

Now she knew she was getting somewhere. When they asked for something, it meant they were interested.

“I’ll tell you what you’ll get. If we convict the guy, he’ll get a life sentence or death row. Either way, he’ll go to a prison. Probably Pontiac, Stateville, or Joliet, and you’ve got members in all three. I’m sure your buddies will give him a warm welcome when he arrives.”

It was the men’s turn to smile.

“I’m gonna go now,” Marcelle said, “but I want you to remember something. I didn’t give you any shit. I didn’t ask for ID or search you. I treated you like men because that’s what you are.”

They nodded their agreement.

“Here’s how I work,” she continued. “You play straight with me and I play straight with you. As long as you’re law-abiding, I’ll treat you like you live on Lake Shore Drive.” She handed each man a card. “If you learn anything that might help us, call me. I don’t know your names and you won’t have to give them.”

The men pocketed the cards. Short looked ready to leave, but Tall stood still, his face gripped in concentration, as if trying to recall something from long ago.

Now, he looked like he remembered.

He stood up straight and looked her squarely in the eyes. “It was good to meet you, Detective. Have a nice night.”

***

Excerpt from In Danger of Judgment by David Rabin. Copyright 2022 by David Rabin. Reproduced with permission from David Rabin. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

DAVID RABIN was born in Chicago and raised in its Lakeview neighborhood. He later moved to Atlanta, where he worked as a trial lawyer for thirty-three years. Now retired, he writes fiction, runs a competitive shooting program, and competes in rifle sports, including the discipline of Highpower Rifle, in which he holds two High Master classifications. He and his wife, a former clinical social worker, have two grown sons. In Danger of Judgment is his first novel.

Catch Up With David Rabin:
DavidRabinAuthor.com
Goodreads
Facebook - @DavidRabinAuthor

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
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ENTER TO WIN:

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for David Rabin. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

 

 

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I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Partners in Crime Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Partners in Crime Book Tours.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Every Good Gift by Urcelia Teixeira Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book

Book: Every Good Gift

Author: Urcelia Teixeira

Genre: CHRISTIAN MYSTERY SUSPENSE THRILLER

Release date: September 15, 2020

Find the truth, or die trying!

A childhood tragedy almost destroyed his life. A tragedy everyone thought was just an accident.

So, Adam Cross rebuilds his life in a small coastal town on the East Coast, pastoring The Lighthouse mission. The close-knit community of Turtle Cove surrounds him, he has his beautiful wife, Ruth by his side, and the delight of their little girl, Abigail. And he has his faith. Life could not be more perfect.

Until another accident happens. Except, this time, all evidence indicates that something far more sinister is behind it.

And while Adam struggles to pick up the pieces once again, he sets off in search of the truth behind the accidents—oblivious to the danger that awaits him. But what he discovers during his soul searching journey far exceeds anything he could have ever imagined.

Lurking in the shadows is an enemy no one knew or saw coming. One who has been waiting decades to take what is his, to take revenge.

If you enjoy reading faith-filled suspense fiction that grips you from the first page, then you will love this inspirational, fast-paced Christian suspense! Full of mystery, twists and turns to keep you guessing until the very end, this first in series will not disappoint!

Are you ready to see why readers could not put this book down?

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

I was pleasantly surprised by this truly Christian mystery and thriller. Some authors add Christianity as an influence. This novel had Christian faith as central in the plot. Adam is a good hero. I appreciated reading about his struggle to understand what God was doing when his loved ones died. There is a dual plot with two different suspense threads. I felt that much happening all at once in such a small community might be a little unrealistic.

I was a bit disappointed in the quick wrapping up of the sinister action toward Adam. We readers were built up on the importance of what Adam needed to find and in the end, are not told the actual significance of the item. I felt a little cheated, not knowing what Adam was sacrificing his safety for.

Teixeira's writing style is engaging and easy to read. Other than my disappointment in not receiving enough information to satisfy my plot curiosity in the end, an engaging and entertaining novel. I will be looking for more from this author.

My rating: 4/5 stars.


About the Author

Award winning author of faith-filled Christian Suspense Thrillers that won’t let you go!®

Urcelia Teixeira writes gripping Christian mystery, thriller and suspense novels that will keep you on the edge of your seat! Firm in her Christian faith, all her books are free from profanity and unnecessary sexually suggestive scenes.

She made her writing debut in December 2017, kicking off her newly discovered author journey with her fast-paced archaeological adventure thriller novels that readers have described as ‘Indiana Jones meets Lara Croft with a twist of Bourne.'

But, five novels in, and nearly eighteen months later, she had a spiritual re-awakening, and she wrote the sixth and final book in her Alex Hunt Adventure Thriller series. She now fondly refers to The Caiaphas Code as her redemption book; her statement of faith. And although this series has reached multiple Amazon Bestseller lists, she took the bold step of following her true calling and switched to writing what naturally flows from her heart and soul: Christian Mystery and Suspense.

The first book in her newly discovered genre went on to win the 2021 Illumination Awards Silver medal in the Christian Fiction category and the series reached multiple Amazon Bestseller lists!

While this success is a great honor and blessing, all glory goes to God alone who breathed every word through her!

A committed Christian for nearly twenty years, she now lives by the following mantra:

”I used to be just a writer. Now, I am a writer with a purpose!”

For more on Urcelia and her books, visit www.urcelia.com

Sign up to her Newsletter to receive updates – https://signup.urcelia.com

or

Follow her on

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/urceliabooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/UrceliaTeixeira

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/urcelia-teixeira

More from Urcelia

Many years ago God gave me a prophetic scripture through which He named me Hephzibah (meaning ‘My delight is in her’). Some time after that, life happened and for a long while I felt unworthy of that name.  But, God showed me grace in this area for the nearly ten years that followed and, although I never aspired to be a writer, I wrote my first ever book on a bucket list whim in December 2017. Somehow it evolved into a series, but, while writing the fifth book in my Alex Hunt adventure thriller series, I felt the Holy Spirit nudging and directing me into using my God-given talent for enhancing His Kingdom instead.  I obeyed and wrote the final book in that series, The Caiaphas Code, as my statement of faith before switching to writing Christian mystery and suspense instead.  Two days later, the idea for Every Good Gift was born and the day I finished writing the last sentence of this book, I heard the Lord whisper in my ear, Hephzibah, Hephzibah, over and over.  That has been the most noteworthy highlight of my short career so far: knowing that I have pleased God.

Every Good Gift is the first book in my three-book Adam Cross Christian Suspense series. I loved writing this book!  It’s a poignant but suspenseful tale about a young pastor who had lost both his parents in a car accident as a child, then faces adversity for the second time when a horrific accident claims the lives of his wife and daughter.  As he clings to his faith, searching for answers, he discovers his parents’ accident wasn’t an accident after all.  The more he digs for the truth, the more secrets he uncovers and the more he learns of his past, God’s grace, and ultimately, his gifting.  There are lots of twists and turns and a few tears along the way as the mysteries unfold.

This book went on to win the silver medal for Christian Fiction in the 2021 Illumination Awards.

May you be blessed with reading this book, just as I have been while writing it.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, August 16

Pause for Tales, August 17

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, August 17

Genesis 5020, August 18

Betti Mace, August 19

Texas Book-aholic, August 20

Inklings and notions, August 21

For Him and My Family, August 22

Mary Hake, August 22

deb's Book Review, August 23

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 24

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 25

Vicarious Living, August 25

Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting, August 26

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 27

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, August 28

Spoken from the Heart, August 28

Blogging With Carol, August 29

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Urcelia is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon Gift Card and a paperback copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/20a8d/every-good-gift-celebration-tour-giveaway

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Heroes Ever Die by J A Crawford Book Tour and Giveaway

 


Heroes Ever Die

by J. A. Crawford

August 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

In his world, everyone wears a mask.

When the actors who play iconic superheroes in big screen blockbusters start dying on set, Ken Allen, failed actor and neophyte detective, answers the call after the blame falls on effects expert Ray Ford, Ken’s oldest friend.

But the deaths are not accidental. Someone is killing heroes. Maybe for love, maybe for money. Maybe for both. Ken Allen finds himself outmatched and outgunned when he learns that Ray Ford’s banished apprentice makes weapons that are anything but props.

My Review:

Reading this novel was like watching a Batman cartoon or reading a comic. It is a book for comic lovers, especially those who favor superheroes. There is lots of advanced technology and super gadgets, just like super heroes have. There are tons of fight scenes so it's a good book for lovers of action.

The hero is an admirable guy. He's like a super hero with his specially tricked out motorcycle and dart shooting guns and special cameras and more. There are suitable villains, faux super heroes and worthy opponents to our hero.

I have to admit that I did not understand all of the references and dialogue but I am super hero comic book and movie illiterate. This is a novel for readers who are looking for a modern super hero of mythical stature in a battle with super villains.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

 

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: August 16th 2022
Number of Pages: 304
ISBN: 0744305926 (ISBN13: 9780744305920)
Series: Ken Allen Super Sleuth Series, #2
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | IndieBound | CamCat Books

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

FALL HAD COME to This Town, the season where hopes spring eternal, with new productions shooting up to bloom or be nipped in the bud. I was on the studio backlot, gaping at everything like a tourist. There was a reason why I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face.

I was about to meet my hero.

I don’t often ask for favors. Whether it’s a character strength or flaw, I am far more comfortable helping others than I am being helped. But when I heard Dave King was coming out of seclusion, I had to meet him. Just once. And thank him for doing so much for me, a person he didn’t know existed.

Of course, the one man who could grant an audience with King was the person I owed the most.

Ray Ford was the “Magician of Make-Believe”—the premier special-effects expert in the entertainment industry for more than six decades. Last season, when the rest of the world pegged me a serial killer, Ray fabricated the host of gadgets that elevated me from

mild-mannered to super. In return, he played spectator to my adventures and got to test his inventions under real-life conditions.

Ray was currently transforming mild-mannered actors into silver-screen superheroes. There were two major players—production companies with rival expanded universes—filming and releasing simultaneously in a box-office death match. The demand for spectacle and escalating budgets had led to Ray working both sides of the fence. I didn’t want to imagine what his NDAs must look like.

I got far as I could without an escort—corralled with a crowd of fans waving their phones around in hopes of catching the barest whiff of a leak. There was no shortage of ex-[insert armed service branch here] private police personnel hoping to be discovered through a guarding gig, and my banner year didn’t elevate my status to the height required to part a sea of badges. I took shelter in the shadow of a warehouse and drank in the October air. It was only seventy-five degrees, but my blazer was a sculpted sheath of ballistic gel. While nothing less than a bursting shell could penetrate its surface, the material also blocked the cross breeze. I dug out my phone and jumped back into the Dave King omnibus collection I had downloaded for long plane rides.

Ray located me via the bell he’d hung around my wrist. My custom-built smart watch had all the extras, including GPS, a heart-rate monitor, and a microphone which never turned off, for Ray’s eavesdropping pleasure. You didn’t think about how much you talked to yourself until someone was listening in on every word. He waved at me from the far side of the security cordon. An extra-large fanboy hard-blocked my route.

He ignored my polite requests and apologies, so I spiked his phone like a volleyball.

“Dude, what the hell?”

I shoved my way into the opening. “That’s what you get for filming vertically.”

He sized me up, decided I wasn’t bully material, and went searching for his phone.

Ray admitted me through the gate. He was as I saw him last, muscle and gristle shrink-wrapped into an one-piece racing suit. His russet skin was free of stubble and his head was razored into a reflective surface.

“Well, well. If it isn’t Ken Allen, the detective to the stars himself.” “Quiet, you’ll draw a crowd.”

Ray laughed. I had been a shamus for exactly two cases, one where I cleared myself for murder and another which had taken me overseas.

Security permitted me through after Ray presented a lanyard with a hybrid hologram/bar code. I hung it around my neck, and we wove through the time traveler’s menagerie that was multiple-production traffic toward the soundstage.

Ray opted for chatter. “How was your flight?”

“Are you telling me you can’t listen in when I’m on airplane mode?”

“Ken, help me out here. I’ve been practicing my small talk. According to those internet sites, I need to work on my people skills.”

As someone who had been the subject of memes for more than a decade, I felt Ray’s pain. “I warned you not to look.”

When Ray replied, he kept his volume low. “It wasn’t by choice.

My last few gigs have had leaks. Been trying to track the source.”

I knew which soundstage was ours from the drones. Constructs of Ray’s design, they patrolled both the interior and exterior of the hangar-sized structure. Like any magician, Ray couldn’t have the audience peeking behind the curtain. But time was catching up to him. Everyone had a camera in their pocket loaded with apps capable of instantly reaching millions. As kids, we were warned about the rise of Big Brother. What no one foresaw was that we would become him. The guard at the door scanned our lanyards before letting us pass, including Ray, who had been gone five minutes. I stepped into the

façade of a factory. A cauldron that could have boiled a tyrannosaurus rex belched molten metal into the air. A catwalk OSHA never would have approved ended over the cauldron like a diving board. The grated floor allowed a peek at a legion of killer robots idling below. Orange light glowed from off-screen sources. The light wasn’t there to provide visibility, but instead to create shadows and suggest heat. Smoke machines added a haze of steam, enhancing the effect.

All the trappings of moviemaking were present: the light arrays, boom mikes, camera tracks, and monitors. At least one person was assigned to each object. Everyone had a badge hanging from their neck, even the saints stationed at craft services.

An average-sized white guy in a modern, tactical version of a Confederate army jacket stepped onto the catwalk. Clutching fighting sticks that resembled rolled-up scrolls, he inched forward like a dog who wasn’t supposed to be in the kitchen.

I couldn’t contain my excitement. “Bill O’Wrongs is the villain in this one?”

“Yeah,” Ray said. “Wait here.”

When you’re a kid playing pretend, you either want to be a cop or a robber. Me, I was a cop all the way, right down to the embarrassing daydreams of saving my fourth-grade teacher from masked kidnappers. I’ve never been a rule breaker by nature. So, when Ray told me to stay put, I stayed put.

There was plenty to take in. The production was an expert operation, performed by a crew who had worked together many times, churning out franchise faire assembly-line style. I had appeared—not acted but appeared, you’d agree if you’d seen it—in exactly one movie, whose production wasn’t exactly traditional. If I had my way, that flick would have stayed secret forever. Then again, it was what got me here. I guess you could say I had a love/hate relationship with my origin story.

Someone’s assistant approached me.

I knew it was an assistant from the way he eased into my eye line, instead of confronting me as to who I was and what I thought I was doing. Which was good, because I didn’t have a firm answer for either. Not now, not ever.

“Mr. Allen?”

“Mr. Allen is my father. Please, call me Mr. Allen Junior.”

The assistant made a note in his phone, and I immediately regretted the joke.

“Mr. West would like to speak with you.”

The assistant was unable to hide his curiosity over how a person of my station could possibly know Flint West. I waved up to Ray above me, but he was absorbed in his work. If he needed to find me, he could. “Then let’s not keep Mr. West waiting.”

The assistant led me outside while not taking his eyes off me, as if he were watching his kid. Mr. West’s trailer was nicer than every place I’d lived up until three months ago, when my life took a ride on the roller-coaster that was the twenty-four-hour news cycle. The assistant waved a key fob across the door, and I heard a latch click.

“Mr. West is inside, Mr. Allen Junior.”

A response would have only created more problems, so I stepped into a curtained landing area, stopping to ensure the door locked back into place. A deep voice boomed from the private side of the cloth barrier.

“That you, Ken Allen? Get in here!”

I pushed the curtain aside and ran face-first into Flint West. He squeezed me until I was ready to pop before pushing me back to give me a once-over.

“You miss me, Ken? You know I missed you.”

Flint was in a silk robe, boxer briefs that could have been painted on, and nothing else. His smile made he smile.

“Your body sure didn’t,” I said. “You were so jacked in that last Civil Warriors flick people thought it was CGI.”

Flint shook his head, smiling at suffering-gone-by. “Man, we had paramedics off camera with IVs ready. I looked like that for maybe on hour. They couldn’t get the lighting right.”

He gestured for me to sit before taking a seat himself. I’d never known someone who could maintain genuine, interested eye contact for as long as Flint could.

It forced me to say something. “Becoming an ideal carries a cost.”

Even before computer magic, there were myriad methods to elevate a humble human to heroic status. One was extreme dehydration. In combat sports, competitors only had to be at their fighting weight for a scant moment on the scale. The best way to do so while maintaining your muscle mass was to eliminate as much liquid from your body as possible. Typically, by sweating it out.

It was a dangerous practice. People have died cutting too much weight, particularly those of Flint West’s proportions. And I was the one who taught him the trade. In my previous alter ego as the “Sensei to the Stars,” I had acted as both personal trainer and stage-fighting guru for the A-list.

Flint West was my masterpiece.

“So, Ken, you got a minute for the little people, now that you’re a big-time crime fighter?”

I leaned forward, elbows on my thighs. “Not sure where you’ve been getting your news, but I cleared my name and went on safari.”

Flint wasn’t buying it. “Mmm-hmm. Well, your safari buddy and I have the same agent. You saved her career, man.”

The way Flint said it, we could have been talking about his mother. The pedestal he was putting me on was high enough to end us both if I tumbled off. Flint’s emotions were as herculean as the rest of him. The intensity that had served him on the gridiron translated perfectly to the big screen.

You felt what Flint was feeling.

“What’s on your mind?” I asked.

“I have a friend.” Flint started having second thoughts. He crushed his lips together. His jaw was so muscular it had striations. When you are cast to wear a mask, it’s all about the jawline.

“You have lots of friends,” I replied. “Including me. This isn’t going anywhere you don’t want it to go.”

Flint nodded at my reassurance. Around rep number five, he unflexed his mandibles. “This friend of mine, he’s getting into something big. Real big. And dangerous. He’s used to going it alone, but I think he could use your help.”

The vagueness was giving me a headache. I massaged the bridge of my nose. “I’m going to need more proper nouns here, Flint.”

“If I were to hire you, would my friend have to know you were on the case?”

“I can’t work for a guy who doesn’t know I’m working for him.

And I can’t help someone when I don’t even know his name.”

Flint tapped a fist on his lips to acknowledge I was making some good points, so that was progress. When he spoke again, he kept his hand over his mouth.

“It has to do with Dave King.”

Flint didn’t ask if I knew who Dave King was. We had bonded over our love of all things King, years past. It was no coincidence Flint was playing one of King’s characters on screen.

“What’s going on with Dave King?” I asked.

“What you should do is meet him. See if you hit it off.”

I managed to keep from throwing my hands into the air. “Sounds like a plan.”

Flint nodded some more, adding a smile. “All right. All right.

Okay, Ken. Look, they have to start getting me into costume.” “Has that process gotten any better?”

“A little. It’s like having your own pit crew.” “Well, you did make your name in action vehicles.”

Flint laughed to be polite, then switched right back to sincere. “Look, go talk to Dave. Keep it casual, tell him you and I are buddies.” “I’ll do my best, but when it comes to acting, my track record

speaks for itself.”

This time, Flint’s laugh was genuine.

Flint’s assistant played boatman and guided me back to set, where he pointed out Dave King, who I would have known anywhere. I strolled up next to the legend, strategizing how to break the ice, but King spoke the moment he noticed me.

“It’s too small.”

Dave King had once been a big man. Geometrically cubed, with a block head, a barrel chest, and boxy shoulders. You wondered how a pencil could have survived those scarred, square clamps he had for fingers. Age had taken its toll, shrinking him down and thinning him out, but in my eyes, he would always be a giant.

Dave King, the man who had birthed hundreds of heroes with nothing but a #2 pencil and some bristol board. Dave King, the greatest mythmaker of the modern age.

“I always dreamed big. These are titans we’re talking about.” I stood up straight when King glanced my way but stopped short of puffing out my chest. “Who are you supposed to be? One of mine?”

I was stunned silent.

The first thing I said to Dave King needed to mean something, without coming on too strong. The silence was getting uncomfortable, so I went with what I was thinking.

“I wish.”

Dave King boomed a laugh that turned heads in our direction. “If wishes were fishes, we’d all cast nets. So, who are you playing in this picture show?”

It wasn’t the first time my getup had been mistaken for a costume. While my jacket passed casual inspection, close-up, people realized it was closer to a bulletproof vest than a button-down blazer.

“Myself. I’m Ken Allen.” In an attempt to impress him, I added, “I’m a detective.”

Dave King measured my form with an artist’s eye, fitting me for the role. Whether or not I was qualified, I looked the part. Seasoned, but still in shape and easy on the eyes. He might have drawn me in the role, once upon a time.

I tried to remember any of the hundred questions I’d dreamed of asking him over the years. The kind that demonstrates the depth of your devotion. The ones that mark you as a True Fan.

“Well Ken, if you’re looking for evildoers, take your pick. Here comes a grade-A pack of thieves now. Good to meet you.”

Dave King offered his hand. I don’t usually shake hands on principle, but for him I’d make an exception. His grip tremored as we touched palms, the thick fingers curled like claws. I let him lead, keeping my response a notch less firm. There was too much to tell him. I decided to start with the ending.

“Thank you, Mr. King. Growing up, your work meant the world to me.”

King pursed his lips with a nod. He must have heard the same sentiment a billion times before. A sadness crept into his eyes. I’d blown it. Upset him, when I’d intended the opposite. We untangled hands. I did most of the work. Once his fingers had locked down, they didn’t want to release.

The group Dave King had identified as suspect stopped an arm’s length from us. I knew right away who was in charge, because he was rocking a hoodie and track pants. In a realm of suit and tie, the person in casuals bore the crown. His right hand was a Desi woman who wore a power suit as if it were armor. She studied me, so it was only fair for me to study her back.

In This Town, you had to realign the one-to-ten scale. There were too many tens. Her makeup was impeccable. Professional, with deniability. I knew right away she was smarter than me.

Not that it was a rare occurrence.

“Mr. King,” said the tracksuit-in-charge. “So glad you could make it.”

Only he wasn’t.

A lifetime of taking hits had taught me to trust my instincts. Later on, I could dissect the factors behind my initial read. Off the cuff, my gut was enough.

Dave King’s innards were synced with mine. “Save the speeches.

I’ve got a shelf about to snap from worthless awards.”

I wasn’t sure what to do with myself. I hadn’t gone looking for an awkward situation, it had found me.

Tracksuit read me all wrong. “I didn’t realize you were bringing representation.”

“He’s not a lawyer,” the woman informed him.

“Let’s take this elsewhere, this isn’t our shoot to start with,” Tracksuit decided. When he went to guide Dave King by the shoulder, King shrugged him off.

Realizing my moments on set were numbered, I scanned around for my patron. Ray was above me, with Bill O’Wrongs, on the edge of the catwalk. Ray walked Bill through the stunt, pointing, soothing, and doing everything else he could to reassure an actor who was about to dive into a vat of lava.

The cameras weren’t rolling, so Bill O’Wrongs wasn’t in character. Unless his interpretation of the villain was a guy who nodded nervously between deep breaths. Ray turned Bill O’Wrongs’s back to the pit, then reached out over the threshold and grabbed a handful of air. Try as I might, there was no making out what Ray was attaching to the actor’s costume.

Ray wound his way back to me and guided us to his spot behind the firing line, where he had a battle station bristling with monitors, each displaying a different camera angle.

“I thought they wiped out the wires in post.”

Ray snorted. “If you’re going to do that, why not go ahead and make a cartoon?”

The crew took position, their stillness spreading a contagious tension. I wanted to watch it go down live but got a better view from the monitors. I leaned in, as if another six inches would help the ultra-high-definition images. I knew what was coming but not when. Sitting through the coverage for later editing was torture.

Flint entered from above, crashing through a skylight. Stopping to hover midair, he spread his wings to reveal the golden-taloned symbol on his chest below an eagle cowl. I couldn’t help but play civilian. At least I didn’t point and shout his name. Fortunately, Bill O’Wrongs had it covered.

“Flying Freeman!”

Ray had trimmed Flying Freeman’s avian cowl to take full advantage of Flint’s carved-from-ebony jawline. The sculpted brow accentuated his intense expression. I wasn’t surprised they were still showing his eyes instead of the golden orbs from the comic. It was a dumb move to take away an actor’s biggest tool, and anyone who could have won the role of Flying Freeman would have made damn sure of it in their contract.

Flying Freeman dove with a two-footed kick, which Bill O’Wrongs blocked by crossing his fighting sticks. It was the absolute dumbest way to defend such a massive attack, but it looked great. Flying Freeman drifted back with a beat of his wings and pointed at his foe.

This was where it would cut to a close-up hero shot—complete with a one-liner—in the finished film. But right now, the sausage was getting made, and we sat through twelve more takes of Flying Freeman’s entrance. Ray’s drones swept the set, vacuuming up the not-actually glass and installing the next doomed skylight.

Once the director got what she wanted, they moved on to shooting the rest of the fight scene. There had never been anything like it on film. Flying Freeman kept to the air, attacking Bill O’Wrongs

from every angle. This sort of thing was normally done with computer graphics, but Ray had developed some new version of wirework. A technique which allowed the cameras to zoom, pan, and track to show that the actors were doing their own stunts. I could only make out the wires when one of the players was off their mark. They were woven into a network, like a three-dimensional spiderweb. Ray was playing puppet master via drones.

Bill O’Wrongs’s scrolls were revealed to be chain whips—a little on the nose when fighting a Black hero birthed during the civil rights movement. But it was sure to generate an online debate, and there was no marketing like free marketing. I was blown away by the actor’s skill in manipulating a pair of the most complex weapons in martial arts. Until I realized the whips were also tethered to the drones.

After the second meal break, the director made the decision to push forward to the ending sequence. The announcement caused some grumbles and groans, but she reminded everyone they had fallen behind schedule. Ray winced at her comment, which told me he had something to do with the shooting problems. I put a pin in it and kept quiet on the set.

The sequence came in two beats. In the first, Flint as Flying Freeman started on one knee, wings sheathed as Bill O’Wrongs rained down the chains with both hands. In a surge of determination, Flying Freeman spread his wings, casting the chains aside. From his crouch, Flint launched into the air, delivering an uppercut that sent both him and Bill O’Wrongs airborne. They ascended at two different speeds, Flying Freeman rising high as Bill O’Wrongs drifted weightless.

As Bill O’Wrongs hovered over the smoking cauldron, Flying Freeman flipped in the air and dove toward him. With a colossal hammering punch, he sent Bill O’Wrongs rocketing toward molten justice.

Usually, this kind of stunt was executed at low speed, then sped up in post. But that technique always showed. The little things added up: the steam drifted too fast, or the capes whipped around like flags

in a storm. Small motions became jerky enough to yank the audience into the uncanny valley. Ray had created an effect performed in real time. It had me believing a man could fly.

Bill O’Wrongs plummeted at a rate that would have flagged a radar gun. He started dead center over the cauldron, but the angle was all wrong and he veered toward the lip. I reached out as if I could will what was coming to halt. Bill O’Wrongs clipped the edge of the cauldron. The back of his skull struck the rim, ringing the bowl like a gong. A blink after, he splashed into the faux liquid metal, sending a wave of glowing material into the air, where it cooled into sparks.

Behind me, Ray cursed, once and short. Under his piloting, the drones lifted Bill O’Wrongs out of the cauldron, a limp marionette, and lowered him gently as medical rushed in.

Ray stared into the circle of paramedics, but his thoughts weren’t in the present. The paramedics went through the motions, administering CPR until an ambulance arrived. I caught a glimpse of an EMT trying to straighten Bill O’Wrongs’s airway. I’d seen Pez dispensers with straighter alignments. It wasn’t the first death I had witnessed. I didn’t take it any better this time than the others.

The call came to clear the soundstage. Ray didn’t budge. Almost imperceptivity, he started shaking his head and didn’t stop. An inch left, an inch right. He went back to his bank of monitors and loaded what looked like diagnostics.

“This was no accident, Ken. I don’t make mistakes like this. Not now, not ever.”

Every reply that came to mind, every consolation I considered, fell short, so I kept them to myself.

“I’m not responsible for this. I want you to prove it. I don’t care what it costs or how long it takes.”

Ray’s gadgets had saved my skin ten times over. He never so much as asked for a penny. If the man needed me to tilt at his windmills, so be it.

“This one’s on me, old buddy.”

Before Ray could argue, security swept us off set. We had joined the pileup being funneled toward the doors, when I spied someone who belonged in an entirely different universe.

“Is that Foxman?”

Ray tilted his head, trying to get line of sight through the chaos. “Might be Flying Freeman’s stand-in.”

“Nope. Different capes.” I started shoving a path toward the door. Being a detective meant noticing things that were out of place. Foxman didn’t belong in this universe.

Or on this set.

I forced my way out of the exit into a packed mob. The chatter among the crew was rapidly drawing attention. Running from the scene would only draw more, so I walked with purpose, a guy late for his afternoon roundtable. Actor that I was, it didn’t fool anyone. I raised my badge like a torch to ward off security. There was a lot of ground to cover with a throng of people in it, but it was hard to miss a guy dressed as a fox.

I finally broke free of the crowd and gave pursuit. Three guards tried to stop me to check my lanyard but not hard enough to cause a scuffle. I came around a corner to spot Foxman fifty feet away, taking a selfie with a fan. As the taller guy, he was holding the phone. His cape was wrong. It had four scallops instead of five, and his boots were brown when they should have been gray.

I drew the Quarreler — a fictional nonlethal pistol Ray had made real—and attempted to creep closer. I was inside effective range for the taser darts, but Foxman was cuddled up to a civilian and his cape looked sturdy enough to afford some protection. Foxman caught me out of the corner of his eye.

He was good. He dropped the phone and took out the fan with an elbow in the same motion as he spun toward me. I sent two shots center of mass.

Foxman swept up his cape, soaking both darts. When he completed his spin, he extended an arm toward me. His fluted metallic gauntlet sported twin openings reminiscent of a double-barreled shotgun.

I threw my arm over my face. Twin impacts slammed into my forearm and ribs. As I reeled, Foxman aimed his gauntlet at the ground between us.

Smoke exploded all around me. I forged ahead toward Foxman and clear air. I held my breath, but the cloud attacked my sinuses. My legs stopped working. I broke through on pure momentum only to wipe out on the pavement.

My airway started to close up. I went blind. The sun on my skin felt like a nuclear blast. I tried to call for help, but you need to be able to breathe to talk.

Foxman had taken me down without breaking a sweat. How could I have been so stupid? I forgot about his gadget gauntlet and now I was going to die like some two-bit villain.

***

Excerpt from Heroes Ever Die by JA Crawford. Copyright 2022 by JA Crawford. Reproduced with permission from CamCat Books. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Born near Detroit, J. A. Crawford wanted to grow up to be a superhero, before he found out it was more of a hobby. He’s the first in his family to escape the factory line for college. Too chicken to major in writing, he studied Criminal Justice at Wayne State University instead, specializing in criminal procedure and interrogation.

Despite what his family thinks, J. A. is not a spy. When he isn’t writing, he travels the country investigating disaster sites. Before that, he taught Criminal Justice, Montessori Kindergarten, and several martial arts. J. A. is an alum of the Pitch Wars program. In his spare time, he avoids carbohydrates and as many punches as possible.

He loves the stories behind the stories and finds everything under the sun entirely too interesting. J. A. splits his time between Michigan and California. He is married to his first and biggest fan, who is not allowed to bring home any more pets.

Catch Up With J. A. Crawford:
JACrawford.net
Instagram - @josephoforb
Twitter - @josephoforb
Facebook - @jacrawfordoforb
TikTok - @josephoforb

 

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I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Partners in Crime Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Partners in Crime Book Tours.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Endangered Refuge by Sherri Wilson Johnson Blog Tour and Giveaway


About the Book

Book: Endangered Refuge

Author: Sherri Wilson Johnson

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romantic Suspense

Release date: August 2, 2022

He wants to protect her. She wants to protect him. A powerful man with dark secrets may kill them both.

Undercover U.S. Fish and Wildlife Special Agent Dallas Heath has infiltrated one of the largest big cat illegal trading rings in the States. Now he must unearth vital evidence to bring down kingpin Mitchell Avery before the next litter of cubs crosses state lines. Multiple failed attempts have cost Dallas time and progress, and now he’s threatened with being pulled off the case. The clock is ticking for this seasoned officer. It doesn’t help that a life which includes deception and being apart from the only woman he’s ever loved makes him doubt if undercover work is for him.

Special Agent Elyse Bradford has spent the last three months undercover living next door to Mitchell Avery posing as a woman of great means and vying for an invite to one of his big cat auctions, to which only the most serious and authenticated buyers are invited. If only she could confide in her best friend and fellow agent Dallas, maybe he could help her devise a plan before her cover is blown.

If they’d been assigned to work the case together, they’d have already brought Avery’s organization down. But Dallas is working undercover somewhere too. Since they can’t share the details of their missions or their locations with each other, the former partners—torn apart by assignments too many times—must find another way.

After a strange twist of events propels them together again, hope’s flame flickers…until word spreads of a mole—either in Avery’s organization or within the USFWS. And now neither one knows who to trust. Can they even trust each other when they’ve been apart for so many years?

On a backdrop of Mobile Bay on the Gulf coast, Dallas and Elyse fight to save endangered tigers, keep their covers intact and bring down an enemy whose reach is far beyond what anyone imagined. After tensions rise and tempers flare—coupled with lies and manipulation from all around—they could lose everything they’ve worked for. Including each other.

Will they succeed on their mission without ripping apart their shot at a future together?

Click here to get your copy!

My Review 

This is a romantic suspense novel with at least one deeply flawed hero. Elyse is the heroine as she and Dallas are undercover agents working to capture the man selling exotic animals in a black market setting. She is an odd agent. She frequently disobeys orders. She carries her real identification in her purse. “She hadn't been thinking, really.” (1471/3315) She uses Dallas' real name in the presence of another. She is stubborn and impulsive and makes mistakes. “She's really messed up this time.” (1085/3315) At one point, Dallas says to her, “Elyse, think like an agent, not like a woman, okay?” (2347/3315) I prefer capable heroines and did not find her a likable character.

The romance in this romantic suspense is a workplace one. Their behavior toward each other during their undercover work was often potentially harmful to the investigation. They would frequently talk, mention they were agents and use their real names in situations where someone could easily walk up and overhear. Their inappropriate conversation was overheard one time.

I appreciated learning some about the selling of exotic animals on the black market. Johnson's writing style is clear and not sophisticated. I did find the behavior of the heroic characters lacking in view of the serious nature of their undercover work.

My rating: 3/5 stars.


About the Author

Sherri Wilson Johnson is an Inspirational Romance novelist and graphic designer. She lives in Georgia with her husband and their two dogs, and they are empty-nesters. Sherri loves spending time with family, vacationing at the beach, curling up with a good book or working on her current work-in-progress. She dreams of a second home on some beach somewhere some day, where she can plot romantically suspenseful novels all day and night.

Follow Sherri on Instagram and Facebook plus on Amazon and Bookbub. Find out more about her on her website: http://sherriwilsonjohnson.com

More from Sherri

For as long as I can remember, I have been in love with Bengal tigers. As a young girl, I even tried to adopt one. In actuality, the “Adopt a Tiger” call was a call to sponsor one in a zoo. Sadly, my family wasn’t financially able to do that, but my love for tigers continued until…well, I’ll let you know if it ever stops. I’ve jokingly said that I will own a captivatingly beautiful tiger with a precious pink nose when I get to heaven. It’s not at all impossible, right? I mean, if the lion and the lamb will be friends, surely my afterlife-self can own a tiger. I’ve put in a request, so we shall see. The fact that I’m allergic to cats won’t hinder me then either!

Every year when we go to the local State Fair, I always make sure I’m there at the right time to see the tiger show. For $5, you can feed them by putting a piece of meat on the end of a stick. You can’t actually pet them or anything like that, though. I became aware a few years ago of the abuse these amazing creatures go through just by being carted around from town to town, put on display, made to perform. And the “pet a cub” opportunities are more harmful to the babies than you can imagine. When they get too big for the petting zoo, what happens to them?

Out of my love for tigers, I began researching to find the answer to that question. Out of that came Endangered Refuge, a reunion romance filled with mystery and suspense. Many of you have probably heard of television shows that give you a behind-the-scenes look at big cat sanctuaries only to discover later that they are fronts for trafficking them and selling their parts on the black market.

Here is where my hero and heroine enter. Special Agents Dallas Carter and Elyse Bradford are both undercover with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services working to shut down a big cat trader. Best friends since college, their work often takes them to different places around the country, but their physical separation never seems to separate their hearts. When they run into each other on the secret mission, neither one knowing that the other has been assigned to the case, sparks fly. But they aren’t always good sparks. Because someone is killing to protect a secret, it’s up to the two agents, posing as socialite Vivian Chandler and cat handler Dakota Heath, to expose the person who exploits these amazing creatures, so all power struggles and personal opinions must be set aside.

This is book four in my Jeopardized Reunions series, which is set in the Mobile Bay area of Alabama. This particular story is set in two places on the bay, in the Gulf Shores/Fort Morgan area and on the Fish River, which separates Fairhope and Magnolia Springs (the setting of book three in the series, Unfortunate Homecoming).

I hope you will consider checking out Endangered Refuge and the other books in the series, all set on Mobile Bay and all written as standalones. The common thread? They are all reunion romances. So while my characters have a past that tore them apart, they have the promise of a future.

I’d love it of you’d follow me on social media and join my subscriber list. I’m always excited to hear from readers!

Places you can find out more about legitimate big cat sanctuaries:

Carolina Tiger Rescue: https://carolinatigerrescue.org

Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary: https://crownridgetigers.com

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, August 12

Simple Harvest Reads, August 12 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, August 13

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, August 14

Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, August 14

deb's Book Review, August 15

Betti Mace, August 16

Aryn the Libraryan, August 17

Inklings and notions, August 18

For Him and My Family, August 19

Because I said so -- and other adventures in Parenting, August 20

Sara Beth Williams, August 20

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 21

An Author's Take, August 22

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 23

Truh and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 24

Blogging With Carol, August 25

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Sherri is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/20a84/endangered-refuge-celebration-tour-giveaway

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)