by: Melinda Leigh
Series: Rogue Winter Novella
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Source: Publisher ~ Montlake Romance
In the first thrilling Rogue Winter Novella, sleepy little Solitude, Oregon, wakes up to another deadly threat.
County investigator Seth Harding intends to spend the holidays with his newly reconciled family, but a few days before Christmas, a homicide thwarts his plan. Seth arrives at the scene and makes a painful discovery: the victim is his brother-in-law’s girlfriend. Her apartment has been ransacked and her toddler left motherless. To make matters worse, Seth’s brother-in-law, Bruce, is missing. With Solitude locked in a rare, deadly deep freeze and the temperature plummeting, the residents launch a desperate search.
Seth calls his wife, social worker Carly Taylor, to take the case so the little girl doesn’t get lost in the foster care system. With the holidays near, Carly brings the child home with them to celebrate Christmas. But when the Taylor farm is also trashed, Seth and Carly must race against time—and against a paralyzing winter storm—to find Bruce and catch a killer in the first pulse-pounding sequel to the Rogue River Novellas.
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by: Kendra Elliot
Series: Rogue Winter Novella
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: November 17, 2015
Source: Publisher ~ Montlake Romance
On Christmas morning, Solitude, Oregon, unwraps murder…
This wasn’t how Police Chief Zane Duncan expected to spend his first Christmas with fellow officer and girlfriend Stevie Taylor. But when a local motel calls in the discovery of a dead body, the couple’s holiday takes a grim turn. This is the second murder in Solitude within the week, despite the fact that their primary suspect is already in custody. Together, Zane and Stevie must face a disturbing truth—their small town may be harboring two killers.
As their investigation digs deep into the backgrounds of newcomers and longtime residents alike, Zane and Stevie also struggle to adjust to life under the same roof. Even if the stress of homicides and cohabitation don’t bring an end to the couple, the murderer lying in wait just might.
Late that evening Stevie looked up from Sheila’s desk as her brother James stepped through the front door of the police station. His expression rivaled one of Ebenezer Scrooge’s.
“What the hell is going on, Stevie?” James said. He stomped the snow off his boots and unwrapped his scarf. “It’s Christmas.”
“I know.” The morgue crew had finally removed Bob’s body, and she’d spent a few hours collecting more evidence and cleaning up the holding cell. It’d been too much blood for her stomach. The human body could hold a lot of blood and it appeared most of Bob’s had ended up on the floor. Her happy, family-filled morning felt like it had occurred months ago.
“Six townspeople have called me,” James stated. “I’ve tried to control the gossip, but you know how it gets. One of them said they heard the girl at the hotel was killed in a satanic ritual.” He rolled his eyes. “You should have heard him. He was more upset that I’d allowed the occult in our town instead of expressing some concern for that girl and her family. No family needs this to happen on any day, especially Christmas.”
“I hope you set him straight, Mr. Mayor.”
“Damn right I did.” Her brother paused and took a deep breath. “Tell me what happened.”
Stevie gave him an abbreviated version of the deaths.
“You said Vanessa Phillips was from the coast? And attended college up in Eugene?” he asked.
“Graduate studies in fish and wildlife.”
“Why was she staying at the Wayward Motel?” James shook his head. “That’s not a good place for a single female.”
“I can understand her stopping for one night if she was on a tight budget,” said Stevie. “But why four? Her parents live less than an hour from here. She could have made it home in one trip.”
“Maybe she’d planned to visit the fish hatchery up the river or do some sort of research. This would be the right location for her area of study,” said James. “I assume you asked Charlie if she was alone?”
“We have. She was alone and Kenny went back there to interview the other motel guests. Someone besides Charlie must have seen her that first day.”
“Hey, James.” Zane appeared from his office. “Your boys come off their holiday sugar high yet?”
“That’s part of the reason I left the house. Debra can tune them out, but I can’t hear myself think. And like I was telling Stevie . . . I’m getting calls, and I don’t want my kids to hear me discuss murder on the phone. What do you want me to tell people?”
“Tell them the investigation is ongoing,” answered Zane, his face carefully blank.
“Come on, Zane. They’re making up their own stories and it’s getting out of hand. I need something with a little more meat to throw them.”
Zane folded his arms. “No comment.”
Both men looked at Stevie.
“Don’t pull me into the middle of this,” she ordered. James might be her big brother and the mayor, but police business fell firmly under Zane’s jurisdiction.
“Vanessa Phillips’s parents are going to be here any minute,” said Zane.
“They drove in during this horrible weather?” said James. “Surely you could have just talked to them on the phone?”
“They insisted,” said Stevie. Zane had notified the Phillipses’ hometown police office and asked them to inform the parents in person about the death of their daughter. Understandably they’d been devastated, but had wanted to travel to Solitude to be close to their daughter, relying on one of Vanessa’s siblings to drive them.
“Who else are you interviewing for the Phillips murder?” James asked.
“Do you have a suggestion?” Zane’s voice was cool, and Stevie knew he felt her brother was stepping over his mayoral bounds.
James realized his mistake and held up his hands. “Forget it. Do your thing and keep me updated. I’ll let you know what I hear through the city grapevine.”
“Tell people not to jump to conclusions,” said Stevie, knowing her words were pointless. Gossip and speculation were dietary proteins for small rural towns like Solitude. James rolled his eyes.
Small Town Rule #3: No one gossips about people’s virtues.
“I’ll be in my office for a while if you need me,” said James, heading toward the back door that led to the city council annex.
Stevie glanced at the clock on the wall. It was nearly eight p.m. “I feel like this day should have been finished twelve hours ago. I really wish the Phillipses had waited until tomorrow. I’d like to have more information to give them.” So far, heartache and apologies were all Solitude had to share with them.
A car door slammed outside, and Zane squared his shoulders. Her heart went out to him. For a big, tough-looking cop, he was a bit mushy on the inside, and talking to the parents wouldn’t be easy. He took the crimes that happened in his town very seriously; her father had been the same way. It was a good quality for a chief to have, but he also had to know where to draw the line between his personal life and his work life.
In the seven months she’d been dating Zane, she’d learned the police chief position fit him like a second skin. Outside of the office, he was proving to be a man she could easily spend the rest of her life with. Patsy believed Zane was the one for her daughter, but Stevie was taking it slow, afraid of making a mistake. Last summer she’d refused to move in with him, but over the last few months, 90 percent of her clothing had migrated to his closet.
Maybe it was time to give up her apartment. Zane hadn’t mentioned her moving in since July, but he’d tripled the size of his cabin’s closet and added enough shelves and drawers to make a Beverly Hills housewife happy.
Sometimes Stevie felt like Patsy and Zane knew exactly what her future held and were simply waiting for her to open her eyes.
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The Rogue Winter Series:
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Tears of Her Tracks ~ Review
Dead in Her Tracks ~ Review
Melinda Leigh is a fully recovered banker. A lifelong lover of books, she started writing as a way to preserve her sanity when her youngest child entered first grade. During the next few years, she joined Romance Writers of America, learned a few things about writing a book, and decided the process was way more fun than analyzing financial statements. Melinda’s debut novel, She Can Run, was nominated for Best First Novel by the International Thriller Writers. Melinda’s bestselling books have garnered three Daphne du Maurier Award nominations and a Golden Leaf Award. When she isn’t writing, she is an avid martial artist: she holds a second-degree black belt in Kenpo karate and teaches women’s self-defense. She lives in a messy house with her husband, two teenagers, a couple of dogs, and two rescue cats.
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Kendra Elliot won the 2015 and 2014 Daphne du Maurier Awards for Best Romantic Suspense. She was also an International Thriller Writers finalist for Best Paperback Original and a Romantic Times finalist for Best Romantic Suspense. Elliot shares her love of suspense through the many novels set in the Bone Secrets universe. She lives in the rainy Pacific Northwest with her husband, three daughters, and a Pomeranian, but she dreams of living every day in flip-flops. She loves to hear from readers through her website, www.KendraElliot.com.
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