Friday, May 15, 2020

Excerpt This Is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf

This is How I Lied Excerpt
Maggie Kennedy-O'Keefe
Monday, June 15, 2020

As I slide out of my unmarked police car my swollen belly briefly gets wedged against the steering wheel. Sucking in my gut does little good but I manage to move the seat back and squeeze past the wheel. I swing my legs out the open door and glance furtively around the parking lot behind the Grotto Police Department to see if anyone is watching.
Almost eight months pregnant with a girl and not at my most graceful. I'm not crazy about the idea of one of my fellow officers seeing me try to pry myself out of this tin can. The coast appears to be clear so I begin the little ritual of rocking back and forth trying to build up enough momentum to launch myself out of the driver's seat.
Once upright, I pause to catch my breath. The morning dew is already sending up steam from the weeds growing out of the cracked concrete. Sweating, I slowly make my way to the rear entrance of the Old Gray Lady, the nickname for the building we're housed in. Built in the early 1900s, the first floor consists of the lobby, the finger printing and intake center, a community room, interview rooms and the jail. The second floor, which once held the old jail is home to the squad room and offices. The dank, dark basement holds a temperamental boiler and the department archives.
The Grotto Police Department has sixteen sworn officers that includes the chief, two lieutenants, a K-9 patrol officer, nine patrol officers, a school resource officer and two detectives. I'm detective number two.
I grew up in Grotto, a small river town of about ten thousand that sits among a circuitous cave system known as Grotto Caves State Park, the most extensive in Iowa. Besides being a favorite destination spot for families, hikers and spelunkers, Grotto is known for its high number of family owned farms – a dying breed. My husband Shaun and I are part of that breed – we own an apple orchard and tree farm.
 "Pretty soon we're going to have to roll you in," an irritatingly familiar voice calls out from behind me.
I don't bother turning around. "Francis, that wasn't funny the first fifty times you said it and it still isn't," I say as I scan my key card to let us in.
Behind me, Pete Francis, rookie officer and all-around caveman grabs the door handle and in a rare show of chivalry opens it so I can step through. "You know I'm just joking," Francis says giving me the grin that all the young ladies in Grotto seem to find irresistible but just gives me another reason to roll my eyes.
"With the wrong person, those kinds of jokes will land you in sensitivity training," I remind him.
"Yeah, but you're not the wrong person, right?" he says seriously, "You're cool with it?"
I wave to Peg behind the reception desk and stop at the elevator and punch the number two button. The police department only has two levels but I'm in no mood to climb up even one flight of stairs today. "Do I look like I'm okay with it?" I ask him.
Francis scans me up and down. He takes in my brown hair pulled back in a low bun, wayward curls springing out from all directions, my eyes red from lack of sleep, my untucked shirt, the fabric stretched tight against my round stomach, my sturdy shoes that I think are tied, but I can't know for sure because I can't see over my boulder-sized belly.
"Sorry," he says appropriately contrite and wisely decides to take the stairs rather than ride the elevator with me.
"You’re forgiven," I call after him.  As I step on the elevator to head up to my desk, I check my watch. My appointment with the chief is at eight and though he didn't tell me what the exact reason is for this meeting I think I can make a pretty good guess.
It can't be dictated as to when I have to go on light duty, seven months into my pregnancy, but it's probably time. I'm guessing that Chief Digby wants to talk with me about when I want to begin desk duty or take my maternity leave. I get it.
It's time I start to take it easy. I’ve either been the daughter of a cop or a cop my entire life but I’m more than ready to set it aside for a while and give my attention, twenty-four-seven to the little being inhabiting my uterus.
Shaun and I have been trying for a baby for a long, long time. And thousands of dollars and dozens of procedures later, when we finally found out we were pregnant, Shaun started calling her peanut because the only thing I could eat for the first nine weeks without throwing up was peanut butter sandwiches. The name stuck.
This baby is what we want more than anything in the world but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I'm a little bit scared. I’m used to toting around a sidearm not an infant.
 The elevator door opens to a dark paneled hallway lined with ten by sixteen framed photos of all the men who served as police chief of Grotto over the years. I pass by eleven photos before I reach the portrait of my father. Henry William Kennedy, 1995 - 2019, the plaque reads.
While the other chiefs stare out from behind the glass with serious expressions, my dad smiles showing his straight, white teeth. He was so proud when he was named chief of police. We were all proud, except maybe my older brother, Colin. God knows what Colin thought of it. As a teenager he was pretty self-absorbed, but I guess I was too, especially after my best friend died. I went off the rails for a while but here I am now. A Grotto PD detective, following in my dad’s footsteps. I think he’s proud of me too. At least when he remembers.
Last time I brought my dad back here to visit, we walked down this long corridor and paused at his photo. For a minute I thought he might make a joke, say something like, Hey, who's that good looking guy? But he didn't say anything. Finding the right words is hard for him now. Occasionally, his frustration bubbles over and he yells and sometimes even throws things which is hard to watch. My father has always been a very gentle man.
The next portrait in line is our current police chief, Les Digby. No smile on his tough guy mug. He was hired a month ago, taking over for Dexter Stroope who acted as the interim chief after my dad retired. Les is about ten years older than I am, recently widowed with two teenage sons. He previously worked for the Ransom Sheriff’s Office and I'm trying to decide if I like him. Jury's still out.
Excerpted from This is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf, Copyright © 2020 by Heather Gudenkauf 
Published by Park Row Books

This is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf

Author: Heather Gudenkauf
Publication Date: May 12, 2020
Publisher: Park Row Books
Buy Links: 
Social Links:
Twitter: @hgudenkauf
Instagram: @heathergudenkauf
Author Bio: 
Heather Gudenkauf is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of many books, including The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden. Heather graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages. She lives in Iowa with her husband, three children, and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Lolo. In her free time, Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, hiking, and running. 
Book Summary:
With the eccentricity of Fargo and the intensity of SadieTHIS IS HOW I LIED by Heather Gudenkauf (Park Row Books; May 12, 2020; $17.99) is a timely and gripping thriller about careless violence we can inflict on those we love, and the lengths we will go to make it right, even 25 years later.
Tough as nails and seven months pregnant, Detective Maggie Kennedy-O’Keefe of Grotto PD, is dreading going on desk duty before having the baby her and her husband so badly want. But when new evidence is found in the 25-year-old cold case of her best friend’s murder that requires the work of a desk jockey, Maggie jumps at the opportunity to be the one who finally puts Eve Knox’s case to rest.
Maggie has her work cut out for her. Everyone close to Eve is a suspect. There’s Nola, Eve’s little sister who’s always been a little... off; Nick, Eve’s ex-boyfriend with a vicious temper; a Schwinn riding drifter who blew in and out of Grotto; even Maggie’s husband Sean, who may have known more about Eve’s last day than he’s letting on. As Maggie continues to investigate, the case comes closer and closer to home, forcing her to confront her own demons before she can find justice for Eve.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

The Final Deception by Heather Graham

Author: Heather Graham
Publication Date: March 31, 2020
Publisher: MIRA Books
Buy Links: 
Social Links:
Twitter: @HeatherGraham
Author Bio: 
Heather Graham is The New York Times and USA Today best-selling author sold her first book, When Next We Love, in 1982 and since then, she has written over two hundred novels and novellas with about 60 million books in print in categories of romantic suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult, and Christmas holiday fare. Graham earned high praise for her New York Confidential series, including a starred review from Library Journal which called it, “Intricate, fast-paced, and intense, this riveting thriller blends romance and suspense in perfect combination and keeps readers guessing and the tension taut until the very end.” For more information, visit her at
Book Summary:
Witness the thrilling conclusion to the beloved New York Confidential series, in THE FINAL DECEPTION (MIRA Books; March 31, 2020; $26.99). Kieran and Craig are about to take on their most chilling case yet as they hunt for a deranged serial killer who has escaped from prison to satisfy his need to kill again.
When criminal psychologist Kieran Finnegan was released from her responsibility of counseling the brutal serial killer known as The Fireman, once he was incarcerated, she was relieved to escape the tendrils of his twisted inner world. The chill she received from her sessions with him has stayed with her despite trying to leave him in the past. However, some demons refuse to remain behind bars. When her FBI agent boyfriend Craig is called to a gruesome crime scene that matches The Fireman’s MO, news begins to spread that he’s escaped from prison.
And he remembers Kieran...
Amid a citywide manhunt, Kieran and Craig need to untangle a web of deceit, privilege, and greed. They suspect that those closest to the killer have been drawn into his evil, or else someone is using another man’s madness and cruelty to disguise their crimes. When their investigation brings the danger right to the doorstep to the once safe haven of Finnegan’s Pub, Kieran and Craig will have to be smarter and bolder than ever before, because this time it’s personal, and they have everything to lose.

The Final Deception by Heather Graham (excerpt)

CRAIG FRASIER BREATHED IT IN BEFORE HE COULD STOP himself; the bloodcurdling scent of burning flesh.
Human flesh.
Flames still skittered over the body—an accelerant had been used. As he stood there in the small dark alley, he heard others rushing in: Mike Dalton, his partner, and patrol officers. He heard the sirens; the fire department was coming.
But there was no saving this victim.
Craig was already tamping the fire out; an extinguisher would make the work of the medical examiner more difficult.
But he knew what the medical examiner would find.
The victim had been strangled, then the tongue had been cut out. And then the eyes had been gouged out. Death had occurred, mercifully, before the fire had been set.
The corpses haunted his dreams. Burned shells, some flesh and soft tissue remaining, charred and clinging to the bones, mummy-like. The mouth in the blackened skull was agape, and those empty, soulless eye sockets seemed to be staring up, as if they could still see, as if they stared at him in reproach…
Why hadn’t they caught the killer sooner?
He heard a rustling sound. Looking across the alley, Craig saw a shadow moving. Leaving the corpse to others, he took off like a bullet. He pursued the moving shadow at a run…running and running for blocks. The city was a blur around him.
He reached apartments on Madison, with a coffee shop and a dress store on the first floor, just as the gate at the street entry to the residential units above was closing. He caught the gate, and he reached the elevator in time to see what floor it stopped on. He followed.
And again, as he arrived, a door was just closing; he didn’t let it close.
And there he was: the Fireman, still smelling faintly of gasoline, ready to sit down to a lovely dinner with his family. About to say a prayer before the meal…just a husband and a father, and a man who looked at Craig and calmly said, “So, my work is over. But I have obeyed the commandments given me, and I will go with you.”
Why did you take so long? The corpse again! In Craig’s dreams, the corpse was back, animated, flying at him like a ghostly banshee, issuing a silent scream.
Craig opened his eyes.
He didn’t awake screaming or startled—he didn’t jerk up. It was almost as if he always knew it was a dream, reliving the day the Fireman had gone down.
He’d had the dream several times before. But, now, it seemed as though it had been a long time. Weeks. He’d thought he’d ceased experiencing it altogether. He’d been doing all the right things: quietly seeing a Bureau shrink a few times, following their advice. He hadn’t told Kieran Finnegan, his fiancée, about his recurring nightmare, and while she was a criminal psychologist working with two of the city’s finest criminal psychiatrists, he’d made a point of not telling her or her bosses.
He’d thought he’d settled it on his own. It was a little strange and sometimes intimidating being in love with someone who studied the human psyche, and he hadn’t wanted Kieran worried about him or trying to analyze him.
Why the hell had the dream come back?
He felt Kieran shift against him. He pulled her into his arms and she rolled, crystal eyes opening wide when she realized that he was awake.
And aroused. Kieran’s tangle of auburn hair was a wild mass around her face, emphasizing her eyes and the quick smile that came to her lips.
“Ah!” she murmured, feeling his arousal against her.
“Your fault,” he accused.
“Well, thankfully. What time is it?” she asked with a soft whisper.
He laughed. “Quickie time, or time for a quickie,” he said.
Her smile deepened, and there was something so sensual about it that it never failed to increase whatever he had begun to feel.
In her arms, in the liquid burn of kisses here and there strategically placed, in the swift—and intense—blaze of arching and writhing and thrusting, all else faded.
After, Craig headed for the shower. He was an FBI agent in the Criminal Division of New York City’s branch of the FBI. He could be satisfied in having brought down several killers. But there would be more; a sad fact of the world and humanity. He was blessed to have his job, his vocation, and it was time to go to work.
He shoved the dream into the back of his mind.
Whatever his day held, he’d already seen the worst that this world could offer.
Little did he know.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

BOUND IN FLAME by Katherine Kayne

Contact: Sarah Miniaci

Interview: Author of Fall 2019’s Must-Read Romantic Fantasy Debut on:

A former CEO, cancer survivor, avid collector of vintage muumuus, and self-professed bad dancer (and helluva bartender), like most people, Katherine Kayne “adulted for more years than I could count.” But through it all, somewhere deep inside of her, the childhood voice  brimming with love for horses and poetry and magic and happily-ever-afters  remained.

Nowadays, in her “so-called retirement,” Kayne is reclaiming that voice and following the dream of her heart, culminating in the release of her debut novel Bound in Flame: Book One in the Hawaiian Ladies’ Riding Society series [Passionflower Press, October 28, 2019].

With the Hawaiian Ladies Riding Society, Kayne  who counts herself fortunate to live onHawaii Island part of each year, and otherwise resides on another magical island in Puget Sound  is writing the romances she only dreamed of reading as a girl. Her manifesto?

Hawaii makes every woman beautiful. 
Strength is sexy. 
You never outgrow a love for horses. 
Flowers are for wearing. 
Women don’t need to be saved. 
Men should dance more. Especially hula. 
Food is to be enjoyed. 
There just might be magic still in the world. 
The best dresses are long and flowing. 
Our men are lucky to have us
Happily-ever-after is always a possibility. 
A little paper umbrella in your drink makes all things better. 

Set in turn of the century Hawaii, Kayne’s literary debut is centered on the stories of the fearless horsewomen of the islands’ ranches (“Because who doesn’t love a suffragist on horseback? With a bullwhip? Wearing flowers?”) and sees her take great care with cultural sensitivity and bring a sharp eye to historical detail. 

“By the turn of the twentieth century Hawaii was a study in contrasts,” she shares. “Cowboys and kahunas, wild pigs and steamships, hula dancers and rickshaws, land barons and mail-order brides made up the stuff and substance of the islands’ colorful history. The rise of the sugar industry gave great fortunes to a few and bypassed the many. Hawaiians today still fight to right the wrongs of that era. Yet despite it all, those times evoke a great nostalgia.”

“It is during these times that my stories begin, Kayne continues. “Although these tales are pure fiction, I found inspiration in many wonderful pieces of Hawaiian history. Just as the colors are deeper, the smells sharper, and the sun brighter in Hawaii, the stories of the people carry richness beyond imagining.”
To promote the October 2019 release of Bound in Flame, Katherine Kayn who will be attending the Romance Writers of America Conference in New York City from July 24-27  has select availability for interviews, and can speak to a range of profound, inspiring, and incredibly fun topics, including but not limited to:

● Taking the leap in this “third chapter” of her life to follow her childhood dream of becoming an author
● The uniqueness, beauty, and complexity of Hawaii (which is so, so much more than just tiki drinks)
● Writing about Hawaiian culture and history as a white woman, and her experience in working with the Hawaiian community and a group of sensitivity readers, her story trust
● The suffragist movement in the early twentieth century (2020 will mark 100 years since women won the right to vote in the United States)
● The white-washing of history, and the end of the kingdom of Hawaii after it was annexed by the United States in 1898 
● Self-acceptance as the key to power
● True love in all of its messiness and magic
● And much, much more!

Katherine Kayne writes the sort of romantic fantasy she has always wanted to read in her own beach chair. With horses and hula and magic and flowers and happily ever after… with heroines to cheer for and heroes strong enough to follow their heroine’s lead. Pure aloha. She lives in Seattle and counts herself fortunate to live in Hawaii a part of each year.

Find Katherine Kayne on Facebook (@katherinekayneauthor), Twitter (@k2writesbooks), Instagram (@k2writesbooks) and her website
Bound in Flame: Book One in the Hawaiian Ladies’ Riding Society Series [Passionflower Press] will be available in paperback and ebook formats as of October 28, 2019.


The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland
For fans of Josie Silver's One Day in December, The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae is a wholly original, charismatic, and uplifting novel that no reader will soon forget.
Ailsa Rae is learning how to live. She’s only a few months past the heart transplant that—just in time—saved her life. Now, finally, she can be a normal twenty-eight-year-old. She can climb a mountain. Dance. Wait in line all day for tickets to Wimbledon.
But first, she has to put one foot in front of the other. So far, things are as bloody complicated as ever. Her relationship with her mother is at a breaking point and she wants to find her father. Then there's Lennox, whom Ailsa loved and lost. Will she ever find love again?
Her new heart is a bold heart. She just needs to learn to listen to it. From the hospital to her childhood home, on social media and IRL, Ailsa will embark on a journey about what it means to be, and feel, alive. How do we learn to be brave, to accept defeat, to dare to dream?
From Stephanie Butland, author of The Lost for Words BookshopThe Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae will warm you from the inside out.

Author Bio:
STEPHANIE BUTLAND lives with her family near the sea in the North East of England. She writes in a studio at the bottom of her garden, and when she's not writing, she trains people to think more creatively. For fun, she reads, knits, sews, bakes, and spins. She is an occasional performance poet and the author of The Lost for Words Bookshop.

Bound in Flame by Katherine Kayne

Contact: Sarah Miniaci
Bound in Flame
The Hawaiian Ladies’ Riding Society Series, Book #1
By Katherine Kayne

For lovers of horses and hula and magic and fearless heroines and happy-ever-afters… 

Just as the colors are deeper, the smells sharper, and the sun brighter in Hawaii, the stories of its people carry richness beyond imagination. 
An epic historical adventure meets sweep-you-off-your-feet romantic fantasy set in Hawaii at the turn of the twentieth century, it is with a bolt of inspiration from and deep roots in Hawaii’s wonderfully fascinating history that Bound in Flame [Passionflower Press]  the debut novel from Katherine Kayne, set for release on October 28, 2019  sets off at a galloping pace.
The first book in Kayne’s Hawaiian Ladies’ Riding Society series, Bound in Flame centers on Letty Liliuokalani Lang, a suffragist of the most fearless kind with a bullwhip, big dreams, and ancient powers she doesn’t yet understand.
Banished to a San Francisco boarding school to tame her wild temper, the story begins with Letty returning home to Hawaii, bringing her devotion to animals with her. She’ll be among the first female veterinarians in history  remarkable in 1909 when women still cannot vote.
With one mad leap into the ocean to save a horse, Letty  a descendant of Hawaii’s aristocracy and goddaughter of Princess Kehokulani, the former heir to the throne  sets another destiny in motion. She is a mākāhā, a Gate to the healing fires of the land, her beloved ‘aina. Letty must learn to harness the ancient power that lives within her, fueled by her connection to the islands. 
But the price is steep. Her inner flame burns hot  hot enough that her kisses can kill, a precarious inconvenience since the horse’s owner, Timothy Rowley, lights another kind of fire.
Can Letty learn to command her power in pursuit of her passion, or is the danger of love too great?
“By the turn of the twentieth century, Hawaii was a study in contrasts,” shares Kayne, who counts herself fortunate to live on Hawaii Island for part of each year. “Cowboys and kahunas, wild pigs and steamships, hula dancers and rickshaws, land barons and mail-order brides made up the stuff and substance of the islands’ colorful history.”
“Although Bound in Flame is pure fiction, I created the world of the Hawaiian Ladies Riding Society to tell the stories of the fearless horsewomen of the islands’ ranches,” she continues. “If you come along for the ride, be prepared for almost anything to happen. I can promise you fiery kisses, charming cowboys, women who ride like the rainbow to save the day, and that rarest of beasts: handsome men who like to dance.”
With great care to cultural sensitivity, a sharp handle on historical detail, and a cast of characters readers won’t be able to help but fall in love with, Bound in Flame is a must-read for anyone who loves horses, prefers the feisty heroine, craves hunky heroes with a sense of humor, and wants to believe there may yet be magic in this world.
Among the topics and themes Bound in Flame explores include:
● The uniqueness, beauty, and complexity of Hawaiian history
● The suffragist movement in the early twentieth century (2020 will mark 100 years since women won the right to vote in the United States)
● The white-washing of history, and the end of the kingdom of Hawaii after it was annexed by the United States in 1898 
● Self-acceptance as the key to power
● True love in all of its messiness and magic

About the Author:

Katherine Kayne writes the sort of romantic fantasy she has always wanted to read in her own beach chair. With horses and hula and magic and flowers and happily ever after… with heroines to cheer for and heroes strong enough to follow their heroine’s lead. Pure aloha.She lives in Seattle and counts herself fortunate to live in Hawaii a part of each year.

Find Katherine Kayne on Facebook (@katherinekayneauthor), Twitter (@k2writesbooks), Instagram (@k2writesbooks) and her website
Bound in Flame: Book One in the Hawaiian Ladies’ Riding Society Series [Passionflower Press] will be available in paperback and ebook formats as of October 28, 2019.