Set in New York City and Narragansett, Rhode Island in 1990, meet Claire Kennedy, successful mystery book editor at Cauldron Press. Her most famous client, the reclusive Sarah Winesong, has written her first new novel in five years, and Claire is ready to break out the champagne!
And then, in walks Tony Nichols. He’s gorgeous, angry and full of accusations that start with “Cauldron Press stole my book” and end with “Sarah Winesong is a fraud”.
This contemporary cozy mystery has a stellar cast of would-be villains and one real one who will stop at nothing to eliminate his nefarious scheme from coming to light, including stalk and try to kill Claire and Tony!
Tony had not shown up to get her at the inn, nor had he called with a message. She had checked the inn not more than a half hour ago. Was his lack of punctuality further proof of his criminal makeup, she wondered?
Her determination not to be manipulated propelled her up the stairway to the second floor. The lighted hallway was empty of any security guards, secretaries or students to direct her. Turning away from the stairs, Claire walked toward a closed office with English Department stenciled on the frosted glass and knocked.
There was no answer. A lectern stood next to the door, and .the black notebook on it listed the instructor’s office hours. Turning hastily to the Ns, Claire found the entry.
Nichols, A.A. (Tony), Assoc Prof, Creative Writing #319.
The space for appointments was crossed through with a large black X.
She ought to just go see Sarah Winesong, Claire thought as she hurried down the hall. If Mr. Harrison and Tillie had not babied the author all these years, Cauldron Press might not have been in this predicament. And she would not be chasing around after Tony Nichols.
Claire took the stairs up to the third floor, pausing out of breath on the landing. A black arrow with the numbers 311-321 led her to the left.
That hall was dark, the only illumination coming from the gray sky visible through a single window at the far end of the corridor. All the offices appeared locked and unoccupied.
There was no lettering on the frosted glass of room 319 other than its number, and the small metal nameplate holder above it was empty. Claire’s stomach churned. She rapped loudly and waited.
Nothing. “Tony? Are you in there? It’s Claire.”
Her inquiry was met with silence. Rubbing one hand with the other, Claire looked around. Though everything was silent, she had the feeling that someone was nearby. Gingerly she put her hand on the brass doorknob and turned it. It opened easily, into almost complete darkness.
The instant she spoke his name, the shrill cry of the telephone rang out like a startled sentry’s gun. Clutching her chest, Claire gasped and stepped back.
With a sigh of exasperation, she decided to answer it and groped for the light switch. As she did so, she noticed the room was dense with the odor of Tony’s tobacco. Inhaling, she tried to ignore the vivid pictures that rose to mind. She found the switch and flicked it and the room lit up.
The first thing Claire saw was the blood pooled on the dingy carpet just inside the office door.
She froze. Dully she realized the phone had stopped ringing. Then her ears picked up a new sound. In the hallway she had just vacated, she heard the creaking of a door hinge followed by footsteps.
Footsteps that were coming closer.
Frantic, Claire snapped off the light and moved deeper into the small office. Her hands groped in the dark for a weapon. Heavy, leather bound books were everywhere. Gripping the smooth surface of a large, anonymous text, Claire raised it above her head and waited.
A bulky silhouette filled the doorway as the hallway light tumbled into the room. Though Claire had made no sound, it was clear she had been spotted. Without a word, the figure lunged across the small office at her. She brought the book down squarely on the intruder’s face and the corner of it stabbed into his cheek.
She was tackled and thrown against the edge of the desk while her attacker howled a curse at her blow. Claire struck him repeatedly with the book.
As they both crashed to the floor, Claire beat him with every bit of adrenaline pumping into her body. Then, quite suddenly, she knew who it was cursing her in the dark. She recognized the strong hands that hugged her waist, the wavy hair brushing against the tender skin on her arm.
Her body identified her captor even when her terrified mind had not. “Let go of me, Tony. You’re hurting my arms.”
He was straddling her hips. She could now clearly see his eyes in the dim light from the hall.
“Claire, what are you trying to do, kill me?”
The book will be FREE during the Tour
Old is the new New…
I know the Archaeolibrarianologist loves old things so I thought you might like a little history of this author.
In the 1990s, when I was first published, I was a contracted Harlequin Intrigue writer. Which meant I wrote books. Period.
In 2013, I was once again a contracted writer. Secret Sister, a women’s fiction romantic novel about how little we really know about those closest to us, was just published, and I was struggling with the culture shock of how much other than creative writing a small press and indie author was required to do to support her books.
Such as upload. Summarize. Format. Blog. Tweet. Facebook. Contests. Book trailer. Book signings. Deal with freaking iTunes. Welcome to the brave new world of publishing, where creative ability was only one of the ten skills you needed to survive. Okay, I thought. I can do this. Because the one thing that wasn’t new about this new world was that the biggest element of writing a book was still the story.
The story of a romance. And a mystery. And a heroine who was tough enough, and smart enough, to triumph in both.
After Secret Sister was published, Soul Mate Publishing brought out another novel, Dating Cary Grant, and I self-published a trilogy about an academy award winning actress, Molly Harper, and two novellas, Duets and December Wedding. All were published as eBooks, as well as in audio and paperback formats, which required a bit of additional work of the non-creative type.
All new. All contemporary.
But I realized I also had those ‘old’ books of mine. Stories I had cut my teeth on and put my heart into, stories which had only been published as paperback novels. So I took the plunge and requested, and received, the publishing rights back to several of the classic romantic suspense books I did for Intrigue. I did not have a digital copy of these so I worked with a formatter and turned the paper text into eVersions, an arduous task requiring about a dozen passes as a copy editor and a couple of more as story editor. It was often shocking to edit the words of my younger writer self, but it was also illuminating (and not without satisfaction) to change something about a sentence, or a paragraph, or a whole bloody scene because, hey, I am a better writer now!
As I re-read these old books, I was struck by the fact that, although the industry had changed enormously over the last two decades, much had remained the same in the structural design of a romantic suspense novel.
In the stories set in the 1990s, women and men meet, feel a spark, flirt and take a step or two forward, and then back, and then around and around a few times before daring that kiss, that conversation, that night of passion that tells them, yes, something’s happening here.
At first encounter, they generally suspect one another of being a villain, but they quickly realize, based on gut reactions and that tug of attraction, that they can get to the bottom of whatever the danger threatening them is, if they’ll just work together.
Which they do, sometimes honestly, sometimes with ulterior motives. As they work together, they learn the secrets of each other’s past, current goals, and hopes for the future, and, generally, how much they want to sleep with each other.
The hardest decision I had to make about these books was how much to update them. Many authors in my position re-write and update their books. They pull the stories into the 21st century, arm their heroines with laptops, cellphones and debit-cards, and delete any politically incorrect references. They change the titles, crank up the C.S.I. technology, and generally erase the 1990s restraint on language and sexual interaction.
I choose to leave mine as they were, set firmly in the place and time where I first created them. And I found that they held up well, for old or new, they had the ingredients of suspense, tension and danger, but in a cozy, less raw tone than much of today’s realistic romantic suspense.
As for the romance, I found it worked too. Harlequin Intrigues were never ‘hot’ in sensuality department, they did however always play up a woman’s strengths and inventiveness and ability. No shrinking violets, these heroines were smart, brave, resourceful, and more than capable of unmasking the villain. And they knew what they wanted in a man, they were just a little less direct about letting him know it.
In today’s world, my 1990 heroines could be considered behaviorally ‘square’ (now there’s an old word and concept). They don’t drink much, never do drugs or get tattooed, and they never say the F word. They also do not sleep with the heroes until the end of the stories. They are also all about their careers, and doing the right thing.
In Stranger Than Fiction, a career woman throws herself into finding out who is behind what looks like a plagiarism scam. In Diamond of Deceit, a banking executive risks everything to save her reputation. When Murder Calls showcases a young, single mother holding down a day job, going to school, and fending off a serial killer. In Dead Magnolias, the private investigator heroine is as tenacious as a terrier as she tracks down a pair of killers who have been shielded by wealth and power so long they think they are entitled to do anything. And in If Looks Could Kill, a small business owner risks everything to do the right thing.
So…old stories, but new stories to eBook readers. Starring five spunky, smart chicks. And the five hunky guys they love, but don’t ever defer to. Five books that tell the old story of an attraction at first sight that doesn’t make sense at all, except, of course it does.
Just like the new books. Stranger Than Fiction is FREE for the next thirty days, and the other four are priced at just 99 cents as an introductory special. Try one, and do let me know what you think of these classic romantic mysteries.
Stranger Than Fiction
When Murder Calls
Diamond of Deceit
Emelle will be awarding $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here
Emelle Gamble became a writer at an early age. At six years old, she was bursting with the requisite childhood stories of introspection, and this itch to tell tales evolved into bad teen poetry and tortured short works that, thankfully, never saw the light of day, or an editor’s red pen.
She took her first stab at writing a novel in an adult education class in Mobile, Alabama when her kids were in bed for the night. As ‘M.L. Gamble,’ she published several romantic suspense novels with Harlequin Intrigue. She now publishes novels of Ordinary Women in Extraordinary Situations with SoulMate Publishing and Posh Publishing …works ranging from women’s fiction to thrillers and romantic suspense.
Always intrigued by the words ‘what if’, Gamble’s books feature an ordinary woman confronted with an extraordinary situation. Emelle celebrates the adventurous spirit of readers, and hopes each will enjoy the exciting and surprising journeys her characters take.
Emelle lives in suburban Washington D.C. with her hero of thirty years, Philip, and two orange cats, Lucy and Bella. Like all good villains, the cats claim to have their reasons for misbehaving. Her children are happily launched on their own and are both contributing great things to society, their mother’s fondest wish.