author, Mystery, New release

JD Spero’s New Book: The Secret Cure

JD Spero’s new psychological thriller The Secret Cure is set to launch May 17 — although Kindle readers can pre-order now. A fellow author at darkstroke books, JD offers an intriguing pitch about her novel The Secret Curebelow plus its first chapter. I’ll cut to the chase and offer you the link to buy it on Amazon:  http://mybook.to/thesecretcure.

FIRST ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Johannah Davies (JD) Spero’s writing career took off when her first release, Catcher’s Keeper, was a finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in 2013. Her small town mystery series has won similar acclaim. Boy on Hold won 2020 IPPY Gold for Best Mystery/Thriller ebook and Boy Released was a 2021 Indies Today Finalist. Her YA fantasy series, Forte, is also a multiple award winner, and is the topic of classroom visits in schools across the country. Having lived in various cities from St. Petersburg (Russia) to Boston, she now lives with her family in the Adirondack Mountains, where she was born and raised.

NOW THE PITCH:  She’s getting better. He has no clue. That’s exactly the way she wants it.  To pull off the perfect revenge, her cure has to remain a secret

In her mid-30s, Rosalie Giordano is in the prime of her life. Long saved from the manipulative hands of her mother, she’s been married to her fairy tale hero for ten blissful years. Vincent is sweet and strong, and stunning as hell — and completely enamored of her.

Just as they begin to plan for a family, Rosalie is diagnosed with a mysterious virus that renders her temporarily paralyzed. As days stretch to weeks, then months, she learns not only is her condition chronic, but the love of her life is having an affair.

As her health improves, a slow burn of vengeance simmers in her heart. With the help of her homecare nurse, she regains full mobility. While hiding the truth from her husband, she uncovers the extent of his betrayal … and learns he is not at all who he seems. Their planned anniversary trip overseas gives her the perfect occasion for revenge.

But at the fancy Sicilian resort, Rosalie is not the only one with a score to settle with Vincent. And in the end, she’s not the only one with blood on her hands…

CHAPTER ONE  ROSALIE

Time goes by in the murk. Am I sleeping or is this real? Like weeds sprouting, images rise up to torment me.

Spotlights warm a stage. Our dance builds with an orchestra’s crescendo. A duet? But I’m alone. He spins me out and lets go – into the abyss of backstage. Feels like a black hole.

Makes me wonder. Is this a sick play on grief? Or, worse, the tug of desire? Or just some dumb dream?

What the hell, Vin? Pull me back.

Speak of the devil, Vin bursts into the guest room where Cate has me set up. “Good morning!” he calls, his mouth a bullhorn.

I blink him into focus, shaking away my dream-haze. I’m awake, then. This is real. As the pieces of my shitty reality clunk into place, my spirit plunges. Down that black hole again.

Cate blushes hard in my husband’s company. Usually chatty, she falls into a tizzy around him, like a middle schooler.

But don’t be fooled. Rumor has it she was a war nurse over in Iraq. One tough Tootsie-Roll, saving soldiers and all that.

Now she takes care of me.

“How’s our Rosalie?” Vin’s smile is constipated. He’s faking it. There’s zero reason to happy, asking that question.

But, oh, he’s such a hunk. With those dark eyebrows and olive skin, he gets hunkier with age. Not fair.

What do I look like these days? Am I still blond or all hoary now? Are my lips ghostly pale? Is it too much to ask for Cate to throw some makeup on me, drape me in some bling?

Cate fans her face. “Oh, she’s good, I think. I was about to give her some breakfast.”

Vin comes to my bedside with jarringly loud footfalls, like he’s got taps on his shoes. Strange, I’d never noticed that when I was a normal, moving person.

He’s dressed for work, a button-down and khakis. What time is it? Seems like after nine, close to ten even. What the hell do I know? I’ve given up keeping track of clocks, biological and otherwise.

“Please do,” he says to Cate, leaning in. Will he kiss me? My breath stops in anticipation of it. My smile fills my mouth and my whole head. Can he see it? Can he see my grin?

Must not. He’s frowning. “How’s the muscle tone?”

“As expected. But I did think I felt some movement in her fingers when I massaged her this morning.”

As prescribed, Cate focuses her daily massages on where the paralysis started—in my hands. In those early days, I tried to clap away the pins and needles. But when it crawled up my limbs and usurped my whole body, I was colossally screwed. Doctors were baffled. Vin was pissed. And me? I went numb. Not from the illness, but from a gripping, hollow terror.

I haven’t moved in months, despite Cate’s optimism. Her massage this morning didn’t do squat. Cate has made an absolute art of hyperbole.

Still, Vin’s eyes go wide, and he lets out a laugh. Listerine-scented. Touching. He made the effort to breathe fresh breath on me.

“No kidding.” His grin goes to his eyes, and a million starbursts behind them. Definitely not faking it now. I would melt if I weren’t already melted onto the bed. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to loop my arms around him, to pull him down to me, to feel the warm weight of his body on mine.

He rests a hand on my forehead and sweeps it over my hairline like he used to. Heavenly sensations pour through my body.

“She likes that, Mr. Giordano.”

Oh, shut up, Cate. Give me a moment with my husband, will you?

He does it again, brushes back my hair, and I nearly orgasm right there in front of everyone.

Vin has a different idea. “Maybe we could go out for ice cream tonight to celebrate.”

Ice cream? Please, no. I might be a temporary-invalid, but I’m still a sexual being with needs and desires.

Vin, honey, take me out for a Martini, and then bring me home and make mad passionate love to me, like old times.

Like old times…

Sigh. As my condition worsened, Vin’s anger turned desperate. How could he save his damsel in distress? Luckily we lived near Boston, home to the best hospitals in the country, so he took me on a proverbial white horse to Mass General. After an MRI and lumbar puncture came clean, they zapped my fingers and toes with tiny electric shocks. What’d they find? My nerves were under attack by my own immune system. My own personal ‘friendly fire’ (leave it to Cate to put it into war terms.) The disorder is officially called Guillain-Barre Syndrome. In the rarest of cases, it affects the whole body for an indefinite amount of time.

Lucky me.

At least I’m off the ventilator.

“Ice cream!” Cate shouts, and I try to flinch.

Then, as if to rub salt on my soul-sucking weakness, Cate lifts a bulky contraption into the middle of the room. With a grunt, she wrenches the thing open. Ah, it’s my special wheelchair, the reclining one with the head support Vin rented from the medical supply company.

I hate that thing.

Cate, however, seems overjoyed. “Don’t you worry, Mr. Giordano.” She pushes up her sleeves. Is she puffing her chest? “We can go wherever we want with this handy dandy wheelchair. And ice cream is just what the doctor ordered!”

I blink at her and say nothing. Can’t, really. What an asinine figure of speech. No doctor in his right mind would order me an ice cream. Swallowing has become a terrifying prospect, so forgive me for not cheering for frozen fucking dessert.

All Vin’s attention is with Cate now, his hand tucked in his pocket. My skin tingles from where he touched me. “I’ll try to be home at a reasonable time, but I do have an appointment after work.”

All those tingly vibes fall away. The black hole wants to swallow me. Rage breaks out in my pores. Because I know all too well Vin’s ‘appointment’ is with his therapist, Anastasia, whom he’s been seeing since I got sick. Their therapy sessions have become more common the longer I’m immobile. Always at the end of the day, always a good, generous hour. Who is this Anastasia? And what is she up to with my husband, really?

So, Vin likes his secrets. Well, I have my secrets too. They live in my blood and run through my veins, filling me with a bulletproof drive to get through this thing. Because I will get through. My god, I was a dancer. My body knows how to move. And it holds a muscle memory stronger than any diagnosis. I will move again. And when I do, no secret is safe.

I can feel it now, the slow, satisfying burn of a buried secret emitting steam from my ears, fire from my nose, laser beams from my eyeballs.

Cate nods, still about the ice cream, still puffing her chest, a dopey half-grin on her chubby face. Vin clomps out of the room like a brontosaurus.

I hate them both.

JD SPERO’S SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Website: www.jdspero.com

Twitter: @jdspero

Instagram: @johannahspero

Facebook.com/jdspero

 

 

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Character Traits

Character Traits: Dr Kate Wilson of The Unquiet Spirit

Penny Hampson 2020

Author Penny Hampson

One of the bonuses of being part of an international publishing house is making friends with authors across the pond, as they say. Penny Hampson is a fellow author with Darkstroke Books. Here she writes about the character Dr Kate Wilson from her book, The Unquiet Spirit, which she describes as a spooky mystery/romance. I like books with strong and complex female characters, which fits the bill for Penny’s protagonist. Here I will let Penny tell you all about her.

Dr Kate Wilson is an independent woman in her early thirties, and she is the main character in my spooky mystery/romance, The Unquiet Spirit. She’s intelligent — she’s got a PhD — and is passionate about history and books. When I came up with the idea for Kate I needed someone who wouldn’t be restricted by a nine-to-five job, hence her career researching the family trees of wealthy patrons.

Kate is down to earth and doesn’t believe in ghosts — well, not at first, though she does have a few hang-ups. She doesn’t like enclosed spaces, won’t go in lifts (elevators), and a traumatic experience with a neighbour’s pet has made her fearful of dogs. I confess, I share some of these feelings.

Kate has recently been badly let down by a boyfriend; he’d told her that he was single when he was very much married. So suspicious of men, and wanting a fresh start, she is ready to give up her academic life in Oxford and move to the house she’s unexpectedly inherited in Cornwall. Wouldn’t we all like to wake up one morning and discover we own a beautiful seventeenth century house near the coast?

An only child, Kate gets on well with her parents even though they don’t always see eye-to-eye. Kate’s mum wanted her to study science, but encouraged by Win, her godmother, Kate chose to study history instead. Kate’s relationship with Win is very close, built up over the years when Kate used to stay with her in Cornwall as a child. With no children of their own, Win and her late husband treated Kate as a daughter, so Kate is devastated when Win dies in mysterious circumstances. Despite their closeness, Kate is still taken by surprise when she finds out that Win has left her The Beeches in her will. She makes up her mind to look after the house that she has grown to love, and to discover the real reason for her godmother’s sudden death.

When the librarian, Ruth Morris, asks Kate if she can help Sue Pellow to sort out her family papers, Kate readily agrees, showing what a kind-hearted person she is. She is a little more reserved with Tom Carbis, a surly chap she bumps into several times before learning that he is her next door neighbour. Let’s just say that Kate’s first impressions of him aren’t good ones! But who can blame her when she is still bruised from her toxic relationship with her last boyfriend?

I like to think that when readers first meet Kate, on the run from a stalker in Oxford, they see Kate at her best — determined, resourceful, and unwilling to give in to adversity. She might be frightened, but she keeps calm and holds her nerve, she even manages to keep her sense of humour. Will she be able to deal equally as well with the new challenges that face her when she moves to Cornwall? You’ll have to read The Unquiet Spirit to find out!

An excerpt from The Unquiet Spirit

No young man to celebrate Christmas with, then?asked Win, a wicked gleam in her eye.

Kate chuckled. “’Fraid not… Not that Id neglect family at Christmas. Men are too much trouble anyway.She sipped her gin and tonic, enjoying the tang and feeling of warmth as it went down her throat. It soothed the lingering bitterness of her last break-up. Robin had certainly been too much trouble. She silently wished him a miserable Christmas, hoping his wife was giving him a hell of a time. He deserved it. She would never have got involved if shed known he was married his divorce just another of his fabrications. She wondered how long it would be before she could trust someone again.

Win sipped her whisky and gave Kate a speculative look.

You should come down to Falmouth. Help me with a bit of research if youre at a loose end. I think it would be just up your street.

Oh? Whats that then?” Kates interest was piqued, despite her inner gloom.

Wins mouth pursed. Im not going gaga, but Im sure…well, Im almost sure that The Beeches is haunted.

Youre having me on?Kate got the impression that Win wasnt joking.

No, Im not. But…perhaps I am imagining some things.A thoughtful expression crossed Wins face. No, I didnt.” She shook her head. I definitely heard noises last week and…Ive seen things, Kate.

So who is Penny Hampson?

Penny Hampson writes mysteries, and because she has a passion for history, you’ll find her stories also reflect that. A Gentleman’s Promise, a traditional Regency romance, was Penny’s debut novel, which was shortly followed by more in the same genre. Penny also enjoys writing contemporary mysteries with a hint of the paranormal, because where do ghosts come from but the past? The Unquiet Spirit, a spooky mystery/romance set in Cornwall, was published by Darkstroke in 2020.

Penny lives with her family in Oxfordshire, and when she is not writing, she enjoys reading, walking, swimming, and the odd gin and tonic (not all at the same time).

Find her on social media

For more on Penny’s writing, visit her blog: https://pennyhampson.co.uk/blog/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/penny_hampson

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pennyhampsonauthor

Penny Hampson’s Books

THE GENTLEMEN SERIES (Regency Historical Mystery/Romances)

A Gentleman’s Promise (revised 2nd edition coming soon)

An Officer’s Vow: purchase link ~ mybook.to/AnOfficersVow

A Bachelor’s Pledge: purchase link ~ mybook.to/ABachelorsPledge

The Unquiet Spirit (A spooky contemporary mystery/romance) purchase link ~ getbook.at/theunquietspirit

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author, Author Interview, Character Traits

A New Author Series: Character Traits

One of the pluses of being part of Crooked Cat Books and darkstroke books is getting to know my fellow authors. I am impressed with those who are friendly on social media — the group is spread around the world — and generously support each other. So for my part, I am offering a bit of space on my website with a new series called Character Traits.

Val Penny - relaxed

Val Penny

The series begins Wednesday with Val Penny, an American who lives in Scotland, and is the author of the Edinburgh Crime Mystery Series featuring D.I. Hunter Wilson. I understand she has a new series in the works as well. I look forward to that … and finally meeting her in Edinburgh when we can safely travel again. Val has been a huge ally in this publishing game.

So, what is Character Traits about? I am asking authors to write a post about a character — it doesn’t have to be a protagonist — from one of their books and/or series. I am booked until the end of the year, but I am hoping to keep this going. Send me a message on Facebook or leave a comment here on how to reach you. Those who have my email address can contact me that way.

What I hope for: Introduce your character and the important role that person plays in your novel(s). Here are some questions to consider. How did you come up with this character? The character’s name? Is a real live person the inspiration? If so, how did people who know that person react? Is your character likable — or not? If you are writing a series, will this character continue? I welcome your own insights.

How about including a brief scene — say 200 words — where your character appears?

Give me a short bio of you, the titles and Amazon links to your books, your photo and cover of the book your character appears in.

I will be publishing these on Wednesdays. My deadline is the previous Wednesday.

FREEBIE SATURDAY: Thanks to those who downloaded Redneck’s Revenge, No. 2 in my Isabel Long Mystery Series, on Saturday, Nov. 14. My goal is to attract more readers.

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: That’s the top of the piano that came with out house — a long story there. Hank made the candlesticks. The pottery is part of a small collection. And the silk screen print showcases the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls Village where we live.

 

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