Masks and Murder 2020 – A Round-up of Indie Mardi Gras Mysteries

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Our monthly round-ups of new speculative fiction and new crime fiction releases by indie authors are a perennially popular feature. Therefore, we now offer you a round-up of our favourite Mardi Gras mysteries, crime novels and thrillers by indie and small press authors.

The holiday mysteries cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have cozy mysteries, hardboiled mysteries, small town mysteries, big city mysteries, paranormal mysteries, historical mysteries, crime thrillers, legal thrillers, psychological thrillers, medical thrillers, paranormal thrillers, YA thrillers, private investigators, amateur sleuths, ghost whisperers, crime-busting nuns, crime-busting beauty queens, lawyers, serial killers, missing children, murdered fathers, missing mothers, missing masks, faked suicides, cursed doubloons, poisoned king cakes and much more. But one thing unites all of those very different books. They’re all set on or around Mardi Gras.

As always with my round-up posts, this round-up of the best indie holiday mysteries is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Krewe of Souls by Elaine CallowayKrewe of Souls by Elaine Calloway:

Mardi Gras, Mayhem, and Murder…

Tristan Pleasance is a ghost whisperer extraordinaire, but talking to his living father is another story. Family conflict prompts Tristan to bolt from his lifelong home in St. Francisville, Louisiana, to make a new life in New Orleans. But six months later, a family tragedy forces him to return home and he is thrust into a murder investigation where his past and future will collide.

Grace Lansing is a New Orleans columnist who yearns to write feature articles rather than puff pieces. To prove herself to her editor, she travels to the quaint town of St. Francisville to research their big Mardi Gras Krewe competition. But what seems an innocent cultural practice quickly turns into a web of intrigue—and getting too close to the handsome Tristan puts her in danger of becoming collateral damage.

Together, Tristan and Grace must find out who is responsible for the murders—before the Krewe of Souls is trapped forever.

The Secret of the Other Mother by Laura CayouetteThe Secret of the Other Mother by Laura Cayouette:

It’s late 2009 and the Saints are undefeated on their way to the Super Bowl. Fresh off the Los Angeles red carpet of the movie she produced and starred in, vivacious Charlotte Reade heads to her family home in New Orleans for the funeral of Sassy, the woman who helped raise her mother.

When Sassy’s “adopted” twin daughters ask brainy and tenacious Charlotte to help them find their birth mother, she heads down a path that starts in a laundromat in the 1950’s and winds through costume experts and a burlesque tour before landing her on the infamous Bourbon Street.

Along the way, Charlotte reconnects to her own family history, uncovering clues to a family secret and the ghost who’s said to protect it. As her funeral trip extends through the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras, Charlotte struggles with her dedication to the career she worked so hard for and the intoxicating draw of the culture, romance and soul of the city she’s always wanted to call home.

Izzy Rio's Wild and Pretty by Stacey L. CooleyIzzy Rio’s Wild and Pretty by Stacey L. Cooley:

When I was five years old, my father was murdered on Lundi Gras Day in New Orleans, Louisiana. That moment in time began a journey that changed my life forever. After that devastating day, my mother could not bear to live in New Orleans anymore. Against my grandfather’s wishes, she took me away with her to live in Rio de Janeiro with my father’s family. For ten years, we traveled together around the Caribbean, Central and South America visiting the Carnival People and trying to forget what we lost. My mother was looking for clues and a reason for my father’s unexpected death.

Just when you thought you knew New Orleans, I am back!

They say Mardi Gras Day is a time to forget all of your troubles.

Here is what happened on my Mardi Gras Day:
I lost the person that was closer to me than anyone else.
I was supposed to mask for the first time as a Mardi Gras Indian Princess . . .
But, I ended up on the run and fighting for my life.
I learned more about the Backstreet Carnival Culture than I ever wanted to know.

In order to survive, I must train and learn the art of being a Mardi Gras Indian.
Welcome to Carnival Time.
You will never be young again!

I AM IZZY RIO.

Sinister by Jana DeLeonSinister by Jana DeLeon:

Street kids are disappearing, but how do you report that to the police when, from their standpoint, the missing people didn’t exist to begin with? Hustle is certain that something bad has happened to his friend Jinx, and the only person he can turn to for help is private investigator Shaye Archer. Because Hustle helped the young PI while she was investigating her first case, Shaye has already formed an opinion as to his character and believes he’s telling the truth. As she digs deeper into Jinx’s disappearance, she discovers that Hustle’s friend isn’t the only one missing. As a frightening pattern emerges, Shaye wonders if she can find the missing kids…before it’s too late.

Ms. America and the Naughtiness in New Orleans by Diane DempseyMs. America and the Naughtiness in New Orleans by Diane Dempsey:

Who better than Ms. America Happy Pennington to grace Mardi Gras festivities in never-say-die New Orleans? She packs good looks, party moves, and sleuthing smarts—which come in handy when the king for an elite old-line krewe is bumped off during a Carnival parade.

All too soon Happy learns the centuries-old French Quarter is not all jazz, Creole cuisine, and cocktails: evil lurks there, too, even amid the pageantry of the Big Easy’s most gleeful season. Yet no ghost, vampire or even voodoo spirit will keep our scrappy beauty queen from nabbing the killer—not when the stakes are sky-high for someone near and dear to her heart.

Find out why readers call the Beauty Queen Mysteries “super-fun reads” they can’t put down until the last page is turned …

Mardi Gras Murder, edited by Sarah E. GlennMardi Gras Murder, edited by Sarah E. Glenn:

Thirteen tales of crime set during the bacchanalia that is Mardi Gras. Featuring stories from Harriette Sackler, Marian Allen, Debra H. Goldstein and Nathan Pettigrew. The mayhem of Mardi Gras is served with a healthy dose of Cajun dishes and an unhealthy number of deaths. Dig into Bourbon Street Lucifer, Voodoo Honeymoon, a dish of Red Beans and Ricin, and other deadly treats.

 

 

Mardi Gras Madness by Alison Golden and Honey BroussardMardi Gras Madness by Alison Golden and Honey Broussard:

A timid traveler. A New Orleans adventure. A Mardi Gras murder…

Roxy believed that life never gives you more than you can handle. But when she’s fired from her wage-slave job, bullied by her co-workers, and her boyfriend abandons her, she decides she’s handled quite enough. Eager for a change of scene, Roxy with her white Persian cat Nefertiti head off to New Orleans.

The exotic sights, smells, and food of Mardi Gras coax the shy young woman out of her shell. Booking a room at a rundown guesthouse, Roxy is surrounded by a colorful cast of local characters. From tattooed waitresses to mystical tarot card readers, she quickly makes new friends and leaves her old life behind.

But she soon discovers that the Big Easy isn’t all beignets and jambalaya. A wealthy developer is eager to buy the guesthouse where Roxy lives and tear it down… until he turns up dead as a doornail! Before she can say ‘Mon Dieu!’, Roxy is caught up in a diabolical murder mystery… and her new friends are the prime suspects!

Roxy is determined to protect her pals, and save her new home. But is this anxious adventurer up to the challenge of solving a murder? Or will she become the killer’s next victim…

The Mardi Gras Murder by Jackie GriffeyThe Mardi Gras Murder by Jackie Griffey:

Like bananas, Sheriff Cas Larkin’s troubles are ripening in bunches.

A fully dressed woman is found drowned in the lake. He has a citizen no one can find, but hasn’t been reported as missing and all of her known acquaintances are standing in the way of Cas’s investigation. Then Judge Carpenter’s fiancée lands in jail, accused of a bloody murder way down yonder in New Orleans!

Now Cas must pick up the pace and connect the dots… before he goes bananas himself.

Murder at the Mardi Gras by V. HurstMurder at the Mardi Gras by V. Hurst:

The Bryans and the Flannerys from ‘Murder at the JC’ and ‘Murder on the Cruise Ship’ take a vacation in New Orleans during Mardi Gras Season. They are soon recruited by their old friend FBI Special Agent Don Hobbs to search for a serial killer who murders a young woman each Mardi Gras for her kidneys. Clues lead the foursome to the killer and to a huge twist at the end of the story.

 

 

Murder at the Mardi Gras by Linda P. KozarMurder at the Mardi Gras by Linda P. Kozar:

When an esteemed professor of Louisiana history is found face down in a King Cake, young detective Annie Fournier suspects foul play and begins an investigation to find the person responsible. Her partner has little patience for Annie’s inexperience or gender and seems to enjoy mocking her at every opportunity. And to top that off, the crazy melee of Mardi Gras seems to hamper their progress at every turn. Will they weigh in on the identity of the murderer before Fat Tuesday ends, and will Annie prove that she has what it takes to be a detective?

Krewe by Jayson LivingstonKrewe by Jayson Livingston:

My name is Eugene Doyle Babineaux, Krewe to my friends. I’m a private investigator in Sacramento, California. My life is unassuming, and I like it that way. Things changed when I received a call from my brother. My mom was dead–suicide, he says. I didn’t believe it for a minute. So, I returned home to New Iberia, a small town in southern Louisiana, to look into Mom’s death. Once there, I reunited with old friends and foes alike. It seemed there were nefarious forces who did not want me poking around into Mom’s death. Rich people who keep company with bad people and who would stop at nothing to keep their plans hidden. What do Mardi Gras krewes, sugarcane production, and mob enforcers have to do with my mom’s death? I was about to find out, and things would never be the same.

Voodoo Dreams by Alana LorensVoodoo Dreams by Alana Lorens:

When her big trial goes bad, corporate attorney Brianna Ward can’t wait to get out of Pittsburgh. The Big Easy seems like the perfect place to rest, relax, and forget about the legal business. Too bad an obnoxious–but handsome–lawyer from a rival firm is checking into the same bed and breakfast.

Attorney Evan Farrell has Mardi Gras vacation plans too. When he encounters fiery and attractive Brianna, however, he puts the Bourbon Street party on hold. He’d much rather devote himself to her–especially when a mysterious riddle appears in her bag, seeming to threaten danger.

Strangely compelled to follow the riddle’s clues, Brianna is pulled deeper into the twisted schemes of a voodoo priest bent on revenge. To escape his poisonous web, she must work with Evan to solve the curse. But is the growing love they feel for each other real? Or just a voodoo dream?

A Masquerade of Saints by Nicole LoughanA Masquerade of Saints by Nicole Loughan:

In the third installment in the best-selling Saints Mystery Series small town Cajun, Fanchon, finds herself in some hot water, along with a few nasty crayfish. The heat gets turned up when she receives an invitation to join New Orleans high society. She’s ready to party until she receives a puzzling message from her favorite psychic to stay alert and wash her hands all night. When the warning seems all but forgotten the phone rings and Fanchon learns she should have been more careful. This adventure takes Fanchon from the bayou to the top of the floats at Mardi Gras with new characters and old friends to help along the way.

Chaos at Crescent City Medical CenterChaos at Crescent City Medical Center by Judith Lucci:

A New Orleans Attorney’s Mardi Gras Takes A Bloody Turn

Alex wanted a new life, but that often seemed out of reach as long as she was still tied to the same hospital as her ex-husband. Mardi Gras Season brought a welcome change in pace, and her upcoming date to the Mardi Gras Ball with art historian, Mitch Landry, was a step in the right direction. However, when she is called to a grisly scene at the hospital her plans are upended.

A Chilling Scene That Leads Deep Into New Orleans’ Underworld

The Wife of Louisiana’s Governor is discovered unconscious and covered with blood. This shocking scene leads Alex deep into unexpected circles of New Orleans, such as the local criminal underworld and the Voodoo culture.

Chaos at Crescent City Medical Center is a gripping Medical Thriller that will chill and surprise at every turn. You won’t want to put it down!

The Gay Mardi Gras Murders by Sylvia MassaraThe Gay Mardi Gras Murders by Sylvia Massara:

Mia Ferrari, smartarse, older chick, super sleuth, is back in her 2nd murder mystery and this time, she is up to her neck in drag queens, a rare diamond with a curse and murder most foul against the backdrop of Sydney’s world famous Gay Mardi Gras.

A female impersonator is found dead in her hotel suite bathtub and a rare diamond worth twenty million dollars is gone. The Gay Mardi Gras is fast approaching and Mia Ferrari, senior duty manager of the exclusive Rourke International Hotel Sydney, has to juggle a bunch of drag queens, a number of fabulously handsome gay men, a transsexual with a dark mystery, a young cop with sex on his mind, a close friend from the UK who is having marital problems and a mounting body count.

As Mia pits her investigative skills against her archenemy, Detective Sergeant Phil Smythe to solve the case, she not only becomes embroiled in the life of the people around her, but it looks like she is the next target for a serial killer with a grudge against gay men.

Mardi Gras Madness by Ken MaskMardi Gras Madness by Ken Mask:

While trying to free a lawyer friend convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, New Orleans private investigator Luke Jacobs is drawn into an international web of real estate fraud, pharmaceutical corporation misdealing and murder. Mardi Gras may have to be put on hold.

 

 

 

Mardi Gras Gris Gris by A.C. MasonMardi Gras Gris Gris by A.C. Mason:

Susan Foret is thrust into a murder scene when one of the town’s wealthiest citizens dies near her as the local Krewe’s parade is ending. A gris-gris bag containing tarot cards and several other fetish items is left dangling from the knife in his chest.

 

 

 

Rescued by a Kiss by Colleen MooneyRescued by a Kiss by Colleen Mooney:

All the fun of Mardi Gras—without the hangover!

New Orleans is a big, small town where everybody knows someone you know. They will see what you do and talk about it. It’s hard to steal a kiss at Mardi Gras and not be the topic of local gossip, especially if the man you kissed got shot at the end of the parade…

Colleen Mooney’s humorous, romantic, delightfully meandering cozy mysteries gua-ran-tee you gon’ have a authentic N’ Awlins experience, dawlin’! And a wild ride into the bargain.

Brandy Alexander’s the real deal–yes, that’s her real name and she’s not even a stripper, she’s an amateur sleuth, although her best friend Julia is.

Quirky characters are the norm in a town like New Orleans where anything can happen.

The Krewe by Seth PeveyThe Krewe by Seth Pevey:

Living up to the family name comes with a price.

When Felix is told his big brother committed suicide by throwing himself under a train, his gut screams foul play. But as the Mardi Gras season descends on the Big Easy, no one is interested in the conspiracy theories of a drug-addled rich kid.

Except, perhaps, one Carnival organization in particular…

A krewe that hasn’t been heard from in decades.

Felix will need the help of a police detective long past his prime, the family’s honor-obsessed butler, and a massive pork fortune, all in order to find justice for his big brother.

His name, his family, and his very life may hang in the balance.

Burgundy Doubloons by T.J. Spencer JacquesBurgundy Doubloons by T.J. Spencer Jacques:

You caught a doubloon at a Mardi Gras Parade – that was a bad thing.

Trent McGowan is going home. Home to his ailing mother. Home to the city of his childhood. Home to New Orleans. As Trent deals with the peculiar circumstances surrounding his mother’s illness, his family gets swept up in the excitement of Mardi Gras and all of the festivities of that intoxicating day. The jubilant crowds, breathtaking carnival floats, and oh yes, the throws! His youngest daughter Zoe catches one of those throws, a sparkling red doubloon, and that is where the story ends and begins.
Burgundy Doubloons is more than just a suspense thriller, it is everything that makes New Orleans the party capital of the world: only bloodier and darker.

For those who love a parade, Burgundy Doubloon answers a terrifying question: What if your child simultaneously caught a bead, and a murderous spirit? In this heart-palpating novel, you will meet the entire McGowan family, and the people determined to destroy them.

Finally, a paranormal thriller that takes place in New Orleans – as told by a native son who knows where the bodies are buried.

The Mysterious Masks of Mardi Gras by Connie TrappThe Mysterious Masks of Mardi Gras by Connie Trapp:

A 2.5 million dollar Harlequin Mask has been stolen right under everyone’s noses!
It was never out of sight—how could this have happened? The auction was invitation-only, which means only one thing: the thief is among them.

The New Orleans police are on the case, the room where the auction was being held is in lockdown, and no one can leave—not even the Mayor and his wife. Everyone there is a high roller and everyone there is a suspect.

Yet before the police can even begin their investigation, they already have their sights set on a prime suspect…the insider responsible for the distraction that allowed the thief to steal the mask without anyone even noticing. One Jane Dough, of Little Rock…

How in the world did JD get herself into this mess? Follow along as JD struggles to prove her innocence and uncover the real thief…

Mardi Gras Marathon Murders by Diane M. TwilleyMardi Gras Marathon Murders by Diane L. Twilley:

Mardi Gras has come to Galveston Texas, and with it the excitement of a new event, the first ever Mardi Gras Marathon. Gina Malloy, a young journalist, is very involved in the planning of the event. When she enlists the help of her aunt, Sister Catherine Malloy, she is delighted to discover that Sister Catherine’s friend, Martin Iberson, is the agent of one of the big stars of marathon events, Billy Champion. Gina is eager to meet Martin Iberson and his family, and perhaps get a chance to meet and interview Billy Champion.

All goes well, until evil shows its face, and two of the marathon runners are killed. With the help of their friend, police lieutenant Richard Tierney, the nun and her niece embark on the task of finding out who murdered the runners, and as things progress, they find their lives in danger as well. But from whom? And why?

Things become even more somber as they realize that the culprit could be someone they know. Eventually Sister Catherine deduces that to solve the murders she must understand the character of the killer, and she finally comes up with the shocking solution to the Mardi Gras murders.

The Mardi Gras Two Step by Barry M. VassThe Mardi Gras Two Step by Barry M. Vass:

A series of young girls, strippers, are found mutilated and abandoned in the streets and byways of the French Quarter in early 1972. As more bodies turn up, at first in the Mississippi River, and then across the river in Algiers, the detectives assigned to the case are baffled: what sort of deviant could be responsible for such horrific behavior? And then, as the chaos of Mardi Gras crashes in like a wave around them, they begin to suspect that the killer they’re looking for might not even be human…

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Love Through Space and Time 2020 – A Round-up of Indie Valentine’s Day Speculative Fiction

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Our monthly round-ups of new speculative fiction and new crime fiction releases by indie authors are a perennially popular feature. Therefore, we now offer you a round-up of our favourite Valentine’s Day science fiction, fantasy and horror by indie authors.

These Valentine’s Day stories cover the broad spectrum of speculative fiction. We have urban fantasy, a lot of paranormal romance, paranormal mysteries, science fiction mysteries, science fiction romance, space opera, space colonisation, horror, alternate history, time travel, dragons, werewolves, wizards, ghosts, demons, aliens, robots, magical greeting card writers, crime-fighting witches, crime-fighting ghosts, Viking ghosts, dinners with demons, grumpy cupids, love potions, Valentine’s Day in space and much more. But one thing unites all of those very different books. They’re all set on or around Valentine’s Day.

As always with my round-up posts, this round-up of the best indie holiday speculative fiction is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Dinner With a Demon by Iokasti ArgiriouDinner With a Demon: It’s Valentine’s Day After All by Iokasti Argiriou

Apparently it’s Valentine’s day. A day dedicated to love? What in Aphrodite’s name is happening?

Anath – or Leda to Persa as she always refuses to call her by her demonic name – approaches Persa after all this time and she chooses this specific day. Is it a coinsidence? And then, out of the blue, the strangest thing happens. She asks Persa out on a date. A real date.

Ok, it was Persa’s suggestion, actually, but she never thought that Leda would go along with it. Now Persa cannot bow out and…she really hopes that this Valentine dude knows what he’s doing. Please, don’t let him be a sham!

Roses & Tails by Barbara BeRoses & Tails by Barbara Be:

She is an alien with silver-blue skin and a sexy tail, he is human and sometimes she doesn’t quite understand his customs. Like that strange human event of Valentine’s Day. He has something special planned for that day and it involves Zero G. But maybe he hasn’t quite thought this through. Sex in Zero G has some unique challenges.

This short story has previously been published in 2017 as part of the “Red Hots” anthology, which has been unpublished.

 

Valentine's Day by Zack BrooksValentine’s Day: A Charlie The Cupid Short Story by Zack Brooks:

Meet Charles Vefflin. A cupid stuck as a drone within a corporate company run by the Fates in Boston, he is doomed to cause people to fall in love with their soulmates for all of eternity. He hates his job and most people of the world. But a job is a job, and he isn’t going to let a little thing like people ruin the few pleasures in his life.

Join Charlie on the worst day of the year, Valentine’s Day, where he must make a young couple fall in love at a most unconventional party. See him deal with the idiocy of his co-workers, the lunacy of humans, and even run into a perverted old god. But, one thing’s for sure, he’ll see the job through. Even if it takes some liquid courage just to get through the night.

Valentine’s day is short story, about 6,500 words or 22 printed pages

Valentine's Day on Iago Prime by Cora BuhlertValentine’s Day on Iago Prime by Cora Buhlert:

Kai and Maisie are about the celebrate their first Valentine’s Day on the planet Iago Prime. However, the holiday traditions they established back on Earth such as celebrating Valentine’s Day with a picnic on the beach are impossible to maintain in the hostile environment of their new home. But in spite of the many limitations imposed by living on Iago Prime, Kai pulls out all the stops to give Maisie an unforgettable Valentine’s Day.

This is a science fictional Valentine’s Day story of 2200 words or approx. 10 print pages.

A Viking Ghost for Valentine's Day by Jo-Ann CarsonA Viking Ghost for Valentine’s Day by Jo-Ann Carson:

To feed her three children, Widow Abigail Jenkins takes the only job available in Sunset Cove: night cleaner in the notorious, haunted tea-house. She figures the wild, supernatural rumors about the place are pure fiction. After all, ghosts don’t exist.

Eric Eklund a sexy spirit from Sweden is over a thousand years old. Having missed his chance at Valhalla, the Viking spends his time roaming the world and gambling. That is until he sees Abby whose feisty earthly-spirit turns his ghostly world upside down.

When the two meet sparks fly, but their romance is interrupted by a poltergeist hunting children.

What happens when you mix a naughty, Viking ghost built like a Norse god, a strong woman who suffers no fools and a nasty poltergeist? Answer: another fun, Gambling Ghost story.

A Viking Ghost for Valentine’s is a lighthearted novella filled with love, laughter and just enough ghouliness to thrill and chill you to the bone.

Quill Me Now by Jordan Castillo PriceQuill Me Now by Jordan Castillo Price:

What if the words you wrote came true?

Spellcraft isn’t exactly a respectable business, but it does pay the bills. At least, it should. Unfortunately, Dixon Penn failed his Spellcraft initiation. Instead of working in his family’s shop, he’s stuck delivering takeout orders in his uncle’s beat-up Buick.

Winning a Valentine’s Day contest at the largest greeting card company in the tri-state area would be just the thing to get his life back on track—but something at Precious Greetings just doesn’t add up. And despite numerous warnings to quit pestering them about his contest entry, he simply can’t stop himself from coming back again and again.

It doesn’t hurt that the head of security is such a hottie. If Dixon had any common sense, he’d be scared of the big, mysterious, tattooed Russian.

To be fair, no one ever accused him of being too smart….

A Werewolf's Valentine by Zoe ChantA Werewolf’s Valentine by Zoe Chant:

Curvy cat shifter McKenzi Enkel gave up on love after one too many heartbreaks. What’s more, she declared war on Valentine’s Day. But then a handsome, whiskey-voiced stranger comes to town.

Sexy singer West, a lone wolf who lost his pack as a child, never stopped searching for his missing family. He sings when he can, fights when he must, and always moves on—until he meets the scorching hot McKenzi in the diner she reluctantly decorated for Valentine’s Day.

In a small town of shifters where anyone can find a refuge, West and McKenzi still feel alone. But as they begin to open their hearts to each other, he can’t make himself leave… and she can’t let him go. With Valentine’s Day approaching, can West and McKenzi forge a new pack… and find a love even they can’t deny?

My Maggie Valentine by Kate DanleyMy Maggie Valentine by Kate Danley:

Valentine’s Day is terrible. Especially when you’re Maggie MacKay and tasked with chaperoning the local high school Valentine’s dance. Join Maggie and Killian on a holiday, short story adventure. Sometimes you wrestle with demons. And sometimes they just want to cuddle…

A part of the Maggie MacKay: Holiday Special short story series. This stands independently from the main Magical Tracker series and can be read at any time and in any order.

WARNING: This adventure contains cussing, brawling, and unladylike behavior. Proceed with caution.

Love Potion Sold Seperately by Nicole DragonBeckLove Potion Sold Seperately by Nicole DragonBeck:

Maggie Baker can’t think of anyone to ask to wear her corsage at this year’s First Days Celebration. After a visit from her fairy godmother, Maggie concocts her own Prince Charming, but when Charle arrives, things get more complicated than she bargained for.

 

 

 

Vintage Valentine by Cat GardinerVintage Valentine by Cat Gardiner:

Romance and time-travel meet Pride and Prejudice in this utterly romantic modern story. Step back in time to WWII-era for a sweet Valentine’s Day.

What begins as a begrudging visit to Time & Again antique shop turns into so much more than discovering trinkets from the past. The unexpected happens! Love and lessons await Lizzy Bennet when she leaves her mobile device in the future. Travel with her through a portal to timeless romance back in 1943 where she’s looking up into the eyes of one dashing G.I. at U.S.O dance.

An 8,500 word sweet paranormal romance.

A Dragon's Valentine by C.D. GorriThe Dragon’s Valentine by C.D. Gorri:

“She’s given up on love, but he’s just begun…”

After five hundred years of servitude, Dragon Shifter, Callius Falk and his three brothers are finally freed from their bonds. Callius has one mission, to find his true mate.

Winifred Castillo spends her nights tending bar at The Thirsty Dog, a local favorite in Maccon City, New Jersey. After her boyfriend skips town with her rent money, she’s sworn off men. For good!

But what’s a Werewolf to do when a dark-haired stranger with golden eyes and rippling muscles claims her as his mate?

The Ghost of Valentine Past by Bobbi HolmesThe Ghost of Valentine Past by Bobbi Holmes:

A romantic weekend at Marlow House Bed and Breakfast turns deadly when Earthbound Spirits founder, Peter Morris, is murdered. Plenty of people had a reason to want the man dead—especially Danielle’s current guests.

But it isn’t Morris’ ghost distracting Danielle on this deadly Valentine’s Day weekend, it’s her late husband Lucas. She has her hands full with suitors coming from all directions—both living and dead—while she tries to figure out if there’s a killer in Marlow House.

 

Ghoul You Be My Valentine? by Olivia JaymesGhoul You Be My Valentine? by Olivia Jaymes:

It’s time for another Ravenmist Whodunnit! A tiny Midwestern town with charming covered bridges, quirky residents, delightful antique shops, and more than their share of haunted activity.

Tedi has another packed inn of people for the Ravenmist Valentine’s Day Ball. The evening was a complete success until she and Jack find a dead body on the back patio with a Cupid’s arrow through his heart. There’s no shortage of suspects for his murder either. Jack will have his hands full paring down the list.

And Tedi? She’s staying out of this. No way is she going to be pulled into it. Not after last time. She has her own investigation. She and her friend Missy are trying to find why the town has suddenly been infused with paranormal energy. Ghosts are literally getting up and dancing around. It’s all going well too. That is until the investigation starts to hit just a little bit too close to home.

Hop into your ghostmobile and take a ride with Tedi as she meets a spirit who doesn’t think he’s dead, two ghosts in love, and a hard partying specter who just might have witnessed the murder. It’s a hauntingly good time in the little town of Ravenmist and you’re invited to the party.

Bear Valley Valentine by T.S. JoyceBear Valley Valentine by T.S. Joyce:

Colin Cross is a lone bear shifter living on the outskirts of Bear Valley. He likes his reclusive lifestyle, but when he musters the nerve to talk to the woman he has feelings for, being alone just doesn’t seem like enough anymore. When he finds Hadley on an online dating site, it’s the perfect way to build a relationship with her without dragging her into his dark past. Hadley is human, and humans don’t belong in his world, but a little online flirting never hurt anyone.

Hadley Bennett has had it with dating local townies. Determined to cast her net a little wider, she enters the chaotic world of online dating. When she finally secures a face-to-face date with the elusive Bearman28, it’ll be a Valentine’s Day to remember.

And if Hadley can handle his real identity, they just might find what they’ve both been searching for.

Bear Valley Valentine is a 20,000 word story with heart pounding romance, a thoughtful alpha bear, and spicy Valentine’s Day surprises.

For the Love of Cupidity by Raven KennedyFor the Love of Cupidity by Raven Kennedy:

First comes love, then comes mating, then comes the baby and some cupid training.

Cupidville is overrun with new cupid recruits, and it’s up to me to train them in time for Valentine’s Day. Too bad I have four mates who keep insisting that it’s time for me to take a break.

Juggling my role as the cupid boss, being a mate, and handling motherhood isn’t always easy, but it’s sure as hearts worth it. Let’s just hope I can get these cupid flunkies trained in time.

Author’s Note: This is a Heart Hassle novella just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Love Potion, edited by Graceley Knox and D.D. MiersLove Potion, edited by Graceley Knox and D.D. Miers:

A valentines day charity anthology featuring 8 exclusive stories from your favorite bestselling Paranormal and Fantasy romance authors! All proceeds will be donated to Room to Read!

How to Capture a Demon’s Heart – Graceley Knox & D.D. Miers
A Demon’s Plaything (The Elite Guards) – Amelia Hutchins
Deep Blue Sea – Pippa DaCosta
The Hellhound’s Legion: A Kit Davenport Novella – Tate James
The Heart Cantrip: a Family Spells Novella – C.M. Stunich
Eternal Hearts – A Forsaken Gods Series Novella – G. Bailey & Coralee June
A Damsel and a Demigod (The Guild Codex: Spellbound) – Annette Marie
The Fox and the Wolf – Clara Hartley

Moonshine Valetnine by Tegan MaherMoonshine Valentine by Tegan Maher:

It’s Valentine’s Day, and Noelle has no idea what to get for Hunter. While she’s getting her hair cut and tossing around gift ideas, Coralee’s long-term boyfriend pops in and declares his undying love via a marriage proposal, breaking rule numero uno of their relationship clause.

He’s only the first to fall, though. When the men of Keyhole Lake start acting like lovesick lunatics, Noelle and Rae have to put their heads together to figure out what happened before the whole town goes loopy in love, or someone ends up in jail.

This story falls in between book 4, Murder and Mayhem, and Book 5, Murder and Marinade, in the Witches of Keyhole Lake Mystery Series.

Heart Attack by Terri MainHeart Attack by Terri Main:

When Smelling Roses, Watch Out for the Thorns

Strange things are happening in Armstrong City right before St. Valentine’s Day. Several women who found roses on their doorstep passed out inexplicably. Carolyn and Mike must figure out how this happened, who is doing it, and why?

A fun little mystery for the holiday of love.

 

Valentines Day Time Patrol by Bob MayerValentines Day: Time Patrol by Bob Mayer:

“The point in history at which we stand is full of promise and danger. The world will either move forward toward unity and widely shared prosperity—or it will move apart.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

What does it take to change history and destroy our reality? Change events on the same date, 14 February, in six different years. The Time Patrol must send an agent back to each day, with just 24 hours for each to defeat the Shadow’s plan to disrupt our time-line, creating a time tsunami and wiping our present out.

Ivar: 1929. Gunmen massacre seven people in the infamous St. Valentines Day Massacre. Al Capone is consolidating his grip on the Outfit in Chicago. But what if it turns out very differently?

Eagle: 1945. President Roosevelt, heading home from the Yalta Conference, stops on the Great Bitter Lake to meet King Idn Saud of Saudi Arabia to discuss a relatively new topic: Arab oil. And a Jewish homeland.

Roland: 1779. Captain Cook, famed explorer of the Pacific, meets his fate in Hawaii.

Scout: 278. Saint Valentine is beheaded near the Milvian Bridge.

Doc: 1945. The Dresden Firebombing. Kurt Vonnegut is in a slaughterhouse as the first bombers appear overheard.

Moms: 1946. The ENIAC computer, programmed by six women, is unveiled to the public. The press thinks the women are simply models.

The mission, as always for the Time Patrol, seems straight-forward: keep history intact. No matter the cost.

But this time, things go very differently than in previous missions and one of the team members must make the ultimate sacrifice.

Rainbow Bouquet, edited by Farah MendlesohnRainbow Bouquet, edited by Farah Mendlesohn:

Authors featured are Harry Robertson, Edward Ahern, Victoria Zammit, Erin Horáková, Cheryl Morgan, Sarah Ash, Kathleen Jowitt, Sean Robinson, Garrick Jones and MJ Logue, and the settings vary from a mediaeval monastery to the ‘final frontier’, give or take the odd supernatural realm along the way. Stories of love in the past, present and future – all as fascinating in their variety as love itself.

 

 

My Bloodiest Valentine, edited by K.A. MorseMy Bloodiest Valentine, edited by K.A. Morse:

Roses are red. So is your blood. It’s Valentine’s Day, and we’ve brought you something good. Abandon the chocolates, forget flowers and wine. Because these authors stories are bloody divine. Demons from Hell or a vampires kiss, this collection of stories you don’t want to miss.

 

 

 

Love Magic by Jesi Lea RyanLove Magic by Jesi Lea Ryan:

“The day I met Derrick while playing my violin in the park was magical. Unfortunately, magic and love together don’t always mix.”

Oliver met Derrick while busking in the park, and they hit it off from the start. At first, Derrick’s “mysterious magician” vibe was intriguing, but after two botched dates, Oliver was ready to call it quits.

Fearing he lost his chance with Oliver, Derrick makes a last-ditch effort to win Oliver’s heart with a romantic Valentine’s date. But when love and magic collide, things tend to go awry. Will these two guys make it through the date unscathed?

Validated by Valentine's by Joynll SchultzValidated by Valentine’s by Joynell Schultz:

Ivory has the perfect man, from his microchip processor to his flesh-like exterior.

Ivory hated that she loved her Christmas gift this year. Her sister gave her the perfect humanoid companion, but there’s just one problem: he’ll never be able to say he loves her, no matter how much Ivory falls in love with him.

Was her dream man a present or a curse?

But when Ethan (Ivory’s Dream Droid) looks at her with those sweet blue eyes and secretly earns enough money to enter her in the city-wide bake-off, she realizes she doesn’t care. He’s hers. And that’s the best gift of all.

Ivory’s perfect world falls apart the closer she gets to the bake-off. It starts with a lost entry and Ethan having a few programming malfunctions, then she discovers someone’s deliberately sabotaging her. What started out to be a dream Valentine’s day, begins to turn into a nightmare. A large supportive family, a caring artificial companion, and the best cupcake recipe in the world might not be enough to uncover who’s setting Ivory up to fail.

My Wicked Valentine by Lotta SmithMy Wicked Valentine by Lotta Smith:

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner… Love is in the air and so are the ghosts!

When Rick’s old friend, up-and-coming celeb psychic Brian Powers is accused of murdering an esthetician at a luxe gentlemen-only spa, Mandy’s cozy afternoon at home goes from cookie-baking to crime solving.

With baby Sophie and ghost-pal Jackie in tow, Mandy and Rick take to haunting the spa where the facials are fab and the intrigue is high-end.

Every suspect has a secret, but who’s willing to kill to keep theirs under wraps? [Seaweed wraps, that is.] Find out in this dangerously funny installment of the Manhattan Mystery series.

Dragon's First Valentine by Emily Martha SorensenDragon’s First Valentine by Emily Martha Sorensen:

There’s a new dragon visiting from Chicago, and she’s green, like Virgil! Unfortunately, this might cause a few small problems nobody anticipated.

As well as a few revelations and surprises.

And all while Rose is trying to figure out what to give her husband for Valentine’s Day.

 

The Draed Arrow by Grigor WeeksThe Dread Arrow by Grigor Weeks:

Dark Space is strange, and so are the hitmen who live there. Strap in sweetheart. Love never hurt so good.

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Love and Crime 2020 – A Round-up of Indie Valentine’s Day Mysteries and Crime Fiction

Love and Crime banner

Our monthly round-ups of new speculative fiction and new crime fiction releases by indie authors are a perennially popular feature. Therefore, we now offer you a round-up of our favourite Valentine’s Day mysteries by indie and small press authors.

The holiday mysteries cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have plenty of cozy mysteries, small town mysteries, culinary mysteries, animal mysteries, paranormal mysteries, historical mysteries, jazz age mysteries, police procedurals, crime thrillers, legal thrillers, amateur sleuths, crime-fighting witches, crime-fighting bakers, crime-fighting socialites, crime-fighting ghosts, crime-fighting dogs, masked vigilantes, missing children, kidnappings, jewel thefts, sleazy lawyers, serial killers, assassins and much more. But one thing unites all of those very different books. They’re all set on or around Valentine’s Day.

As always with my round-up posts, this round-up of the best indie holiday mysteries is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Death by Baguette by Jennifer A. AldersonDeath by Baguette: A Valentine’s Day Murder in Paris by Jennifer S. Alderson:

Paris—the city of love, lights … and murder? Join tour guide Lana Hansen as she escorts five couples on an unforgettable Valentine-themed vacation to France! Unfortunately it will be the last trip for one passenger…

Lana Hansen’s future is looking bright. She has money in her bank account, a babysitter for her cat, and even a boyfriend. Regrettably she won’t get to celebrate Valentine’s Day with her new beau, Chad. Instead, she will be leading a lovers-only tour in France. Luckily for Lana, her best friend, Willow, and her partner, Jane, will be joining her.

Things go downhill when Lana’s new boyfriend shows up in Paris for her tour—with his wife. Chad is not the website developer he claimed to be, but a famous restaurant critic whose love of women rivals his passion for food.

After Chad drops dead during a picnic under the Eiffel Tower, a persistent French detective becomes convinced that he was poisoned. And the inspector’s sights are set on several members of the tour—including Lana!

While escorting her group through the cobblestone streets of Montmartre, the grand gardens of Versailles, and the historic Marché des Enfants Rouges market, Lana must figure out who really killed Chad before she has to say bonjour to prison and adieu to her freedom.

Introducing Lana Hansen, tour guide, reluctant amateur sleuth, and star of the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery Series. Join Lana as she leads tourists and readers to fascinating cities around the globe on intriguing adventures that, unfortunately for Lana, often turn deadly.

Valentine's Day is Murder by Carolyn ArnoldValentine’s Day is Murder by Carolyn Arnold:

Cupid’s arrow may have missed its mark…

Jimmy finally takes a vacation–and a chance on love–only to be abducted. His female companion originally thinks he had cold feet about their relationship, but Sean and Sara know there’s more to it. Jimmy isn’t the type to just up and disappear, let alone leave a lady stranded.

Setting out on their private jet, Sean and Sara reach the tropical paradise of Ocho Rios, Jamaica with sightseeing as the last thing on their minds.

With a gold coin being their initial tie to Jimmy’s kidnapper, Sean and Sara even speculate about the involvement of pirates. Yet as the hours pass, and there’s no word from Jimmy’s captors, Sean and Sara will need to figure out the real motive before it’s too late.

With help from their friend, Adam, back in Albany, the pieces come together and not a moment too soon.

A Valentine for the Silencer by Cora BuhlertA Valentine for the Silencer by Cora Buhlert:

Valentine’s Day 1938: All Richard Blakemore a.k.a. the masked crimefighter known only as the Silencer wants is to have a romantic dinner with his beautiful fiancée Constance Allen.

But on his way to his date, Richard happens upon a mugging in progress. Can he save the victim and make sure that young Thomas Walden has the chance to propose to his girlfriend? And will he make it to dinner with Constance on time?

This is a short Valentine’s Day story of 7200 words or approx. 24 print pages in the Silencer series, but may be read as a standalone.

He never brings me flowers...He never brings me flowers… by Cora Buhlert

He never brings me flowers…

Waiting for your boyfriend to finally come home from work can be hell, especially if it’s your anniversary and you suspect he forgot – again. But does the ringing of the doorbell promise roses and sex and the long overdue proposal or something far more sinister?

Lovers’ Ridge

A foundling, a newborn, abandoned and left to die. But tonight, he will have his revenge on the parents who deserted him. Tonight, they will pay, at the very place where the story once began, at Lovers’ Ridge…

This is a bumper edition containing two short crime stories of 3200 words altogether. Both stories are also available as part of the collection Murder in the Family.

Valentine's Madness, edited by Beth ByersValentine’s Madness: A 1920s Historical Mystery Anthology, edited by Beth Byers:

Welcome to a very flapper Valentine’s Day!

Are you ready for the roaring twenties? For spunky young women crafting their own lives? If so, you’ll love Violet, Julia, Abigail, Evelyn, and Rosemary.

Inside, you’ll find four short Valentine’s day adventures, 1920s style including roses, chocolates, kisses, and cocktails. With stories from The Violet Carlyle Mysteries, the Piccadilly Ladies Club Mysteries, the Abigail Dutcher Mysteries, the Jazz & Gin Cozy Mysteries, and The Lillywhite Mysteries.

Mystery on Valentine's Day by Beth Byers and Lee StraussMystery on Valentine’s Day by Beth Byers and Lee Strauss:

The worlds of Ginger Gold and Violet Carlyle collide in this fun Valentine Mystery short story by bestselling authors Lee Strauss and Beth Byers.

While both Ginger and Violet had plans for a romantic evening of dinner and dancing to celebrate Valentine’s Day with their husbands, something goes terribly awry. One by one, female patrons discover that they are missing jewelry.

In this closed room mystery filled with a brigade of colorful characters, Violet and Ginger join forces to put their skills of deduction to work. Can they unveil the culprit and solve the mystery in time for dessert?

Don’t miss this delectable bite-sized tale. Pairs perfectly with a box of chocolate and a comfy chair!

The St. Valentine's Day Cookie Massacre by Elisabeth CrabtreeThe St. Valentine’s Day Cookie Massacre by Elisabeth Crabtree:

It’s Valentine’s Day in quiet, cozy Hatter’s Cove, Florida and food columnist, Kat Archer, has been assigned the event of the year, the grand opening of Miss Dolly’s Cookie Jar and Sweets Emporium.

What begins as a run of the mill, albeit tasty, assignment turns into something much more dangerous when one of the Cookie Jar’s employees is poisoned.

Now Kat is chasing the biggest story of her life, while trying to catch the eye of her handsome editor and avoid becoming the killer’s next victim.

A cozy novella: approximately 44,000 words

Murder on Valentine's Day by P. CreedenMurder on Valentine’s Day by P. Creeden:

It’s Valentine’s Day and 20-year-old Emma Wright just wants her crush to take notice of her. But Colby Davidson, the K9 search and rescue deputy only thinks of her as a kid sister. How will she get him to take her seriously?

When her veterinarian boss calls her to pick up a cat at a potential crime scene, she finds herself at the house of the richest woman in Ridgeway. Her father—the sheriff—and Colby are there. They both dismiss the untimely death as a heart attack, but Emma finds clues that it might be something more. Did the software billionaire die of natural causes, or was it murder?

The Valentine Mystery by Kathi DaleyThe Valentine Mystery by Kathi Daley:

If you love small towns, endearing relationships, food, animals, and a touch of murder, you will love this new mystery series by Kathi Daley, author of the popular Zoe Donovan Cozy Mystery Series.

It is Valentine’s Day in White Eagle Montana and Tess and Tilly are busier than ever delivering Valentine Cards along with the daily mail. Of course it wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day in White Eagle without a mystery to solve or a holiday adoption party to prepare for.

When Tess happens upon a vehicle accident where one man dies, she gets pulled into a mystery with roots into the past. With Tony’s help she not only tracks down a killer but she looks into the occurrence of a missing person as well.

Tony is still looking into the case of Tess’s father’s disappearance, meanwhile Tess and Tilly team up with Brady to make sure that every animal shelter resident finds their perfect match in time for Valentine’s Day.

A Valentine Murder by Steven DemareeA Valentine Murder by Steven Demaree

In this delightful combination of a whodunit mixed with humor, a woman, who has been celebrating her birthday and Valentine’s Day, is rushed to the hospital complaining of stomach pains and nausea. She grabs the doctor and tells him she has been poisoned, but before she can tell him any more, she dies. When Lt. Dekker and Sgt. Murdock investigate, they find out that no one liked her, with the possible exception of her husband.

 

 

Corridor Man: Valentine by Mark FaricyCorridor Man: Valentine by Mark Faricy:

BETTER CHANGE THE LOCKS. BOBBY DID.

Disbarred attorney Bobby Custer continues to use his main skill set; murder, treachery and perversion in an ongoing effort to increase his personal gains.

Ever the charmer, Bobby provides Emily with an unforgettable valentine that up until now she could only dream about . . . or maybe it was a nightmare. Together they forever mark the day with a memorable secret. Psychotic, sociopathic, always charming– and you thought he was here to help.

The Heartless Valentine by Kacey GeneThe Heartless Valentine by Kacey Gene:

Roses are red; violets are blue
Is a lover from the dead here to kill you?

Valentine’s Day. 2020. Middlebridge, Wisconsin. When the quick-witted second grade teacher and amateur sleuth, Jennifer Hunter, receives a gift from a secret admirer on Valentine’s Day, she heartily investigates who her cupid could be. When she opens the box, though, she doesn’t find chocolates; she finds a human heart wrapped in red tissue paper.

And that’s not all. Her admirer has written a note confessing their desire to watch Jennifer die. That’s when Jennifer’s best friend and Middlebridge’s Police Lieutenant, Jake Hollow, steps in.

Jake and Jennifer put their dynamic duo focus on finding Jennifer’s deranged valentine, and that leads them to the recently deceased body of David Bird IV. He looks like an average dead guy except for one fact — his heart has been removed. Jennifer must investigate this heartless valencrime; otherwise, she fears she’ll be the next victim. Yet, her attempt to protect her own heart leads her to a set of love letters that tell the story of broken hearts from the past.

Valentine’s Day. 1910. Salem, Massachusetts. Clay Trunkett, a twenty year old hard-working journalist, is scheduled to hang for assaulting a man. His accuser? David Bird II, son of the wealthiest man in Salem. Clay’s true crime? Falling in love with Meghan White, the woman David has his heart set on marrying.

The love triangle of 1910 holds the clues Jennifer needs to find the heart snatcher of 2020, but with her own crazed valentine delivering threatening messages and bits of heart like they’re candy, Jennifer struggles to piece together this crime of passion from 1910.

And, Jennifer’s own passions get in the way when she discovers that her best friend, Jake, has a girlfriend — one that he’s been hiding from Jennifer for months. Betrayal runs high as masquerade parties, craft sales, murder mystery dinners, and a strange encounter at the local diner all distract Jennifer from her one mission: To find out who’s making her Valentine’s Day the most horrifyingly heart-filled in history. The problem is, Jennifer’s discoveries may end her friendship with Jake, and that’s a heartbreak she can’t take.

This clean cozy mystery will keep reader’s hearts pounding as they flip through love letters from the past and the alternating stories of Jennifer Hunter and Clay Trunkett. Jennifer’s down-to-earth and lovable personality plunges into new territory as she must assess her relationship with Jake and the type of love she wants in her life. She goes on crochet benders; she attends parties where she gets to be someone other than herself; and all the time she’s piecing together a crime that makes this Valentine’s Day anything but sweet.

Valentine by Celina GraceValentine by Celina Grace:

A respectable, middle-aged housewife. An ambitious young lawyer. A student burlesque dancer. Three women with nothing in common – except for the fact that someone has sent them a macabre Valentine’s Day gift; a pig’s heart pierced by an arrow.

Is this a case of serious harm intended? Or just a malicious prank? Detective Inspector Olbeck thinks there might be something more sinister behind it but his colleague Detective Sergeant Kate Redman is too busy mourning the departure of her partner Tin to New York to worry too much about the case. Until one of the women receives a death threat…

Valentine is a novella in the best-selling Kate Redman Mystery series by crime writer Celina Grace.

The Ghost of Valentine Past by Bobbi HolmesThe Ghost of Valentine Past by Bobbi Holmes:

A romantic weekend at Marlow House Bed and Breakfast turns deadly when Earthbound Spirits founder, Peter Morris, is murdered. Plenty of people had a reason to want the man dead—especially Danielle’s current guests.

But it isn’t Morris’ ghost distracting Danielle on this deadly Valentine’s Day weekend, it’s her late husband Lucas. She has her hands full with suitors coming from all directions—both living and dead—while she tries to figure out if there’s a killer in Marlow House.

 

Ghoul You Be My Valentine? by Olivia JaymesGhoul You Be My Valentine? by Olivia Jaymes:

It’s time for another Ravenmist Whodunnit! A tiny Midwestern town with charming covered bridges, quirky residents, delightful antique shops, and more than their share of haunted activity.

Tedi has another packed inn of people for the Ravenmist Valentine’s Day Ball. The evening was a complete success until she and Jack find a dead body on the back patio with a Cupid’s arrow through his heart. There’s no shortage of suspects for his murder either. Jack will have his hands full paring down the list.

And Tedi? She’s staying out of this. No way is she going to be pulled into it. Not after last time. She has her own investigation. She and her friend Missy are trying to find why the town has suddenly been infused with paranormal energy. Ghosts are literally getting up and dancing around. It’s all going well too. That is until the investigation starts to hit just a little bit too close to home.

Hop into your ghostmobile and take a ride with Tedi as she meets a spirit who doesn’t think he’s dead, two ghosts in love, and a hard partying specter who just might have witnessed the murder. It’s a hauntingly good time in the little town of Ravenmist and you’re invited to the party.

Lady Rample and Cupid's Kiss by Shéa MacLeodLady Rample and Cupid’s Kiss by Shéa MacLeod:

Just when Lady Rample has given up on love, a former flame reappears, bringing with him all sorts of emotions she thought buried. Unfortunately, that flame comes with one very aggressive and rather angry almost-ex-wife. The ensuing catfight is almost worth the price of admission.

When the ex-wife is found dead in Hyde Park, stabbed with a hatpin in the shape of a heart, the police naturally assume the killer is the husband. Our intrepid heroine is not about to allow her love to go down for a crime he didn’t commit. Unfortunately, proving him innocent may put her own neck on the line.

Never one to shirk from danger, Lady R—with the help of her eccentric Aunt Butty—will need all her wits about her if she’s to solve the crimes of the Cupid Killer.

Enjoy the glitz and glamor of the 1930s with the sixth book in the popular 1930s historical mystery series, Lady Rample Mysteries.

Moonshine Valetnine by Tegan MaherMoonshine Valentine by Tegan Maher:

It’s Valentine’s Day, and Noelle has no idea what to get for Hunter. While she’s getting her hair cut and tossing around gift ideas, Coralee’s long-term boyfriend pops in and declares his undying love via a marriage proposal, breaking rule numero uno of their relationship clause.

He’s only the first to fall, though. When the men of Keyhole Lake start acting like lovesick lunatics, Noelle and Rae have to put their heads together to figure out what happened before the whole town goes loopy in love, or someone ends up in jail.

This story falls in between book 4, Murder and Mayhem, and Book 5, Murder and Marinade, in the Witches of Keyhole Lake Mystery Series.

Heart Attack by Terri MainHeart Attack by Terri Main:

When Smelling Roses, Watch Out for the Thorns

Strange things are happening in Armstrong City right before St. Valentine’s Day. Several women who found roses on their doorstep passed out inexplicably. Carolyn and Mike must figure out how this happened, who is doing it, and why?

A fun little mystery for the holiday of love.

 

Valentines & Victims by Donna MuseValentines & Victims by Donna Muse:

After being snowbound for much of the winter, amateur detective duo Geneva Pomolo and Iris Reeves are looking forward to a Valentine’s Day getaway with a few older friends at Bittersweet Lodge, a ski resort in the chilly foothills of southern Indiana. Both women are looking forward to a weekend of dance contests, luaus, roasted pigs, and toboggan scavenger hunts. Tensions mount when one of their friends comes down with a sudden illness. Geneva fears the worst: someone is poisoning the lodge’s guests.

The case takes a deadly swerve when Horace Weatherspoon—millionaire head of a railroad empire—dies in a toboggan accident. The old man had been deathly afraid of toboggans and Geneva knows there is malice at work: one of their fellow guests is a murderer. As Iris and Geneva begin to investigate, they uncover a trail of secrets leading back more than thirty years, and one person will kill again to keep those secrets buried.

Be My Valencrime by Amy M. ReadeBe My Valencrime by Amy M. Reade:

It’s Valentine’s Day in Juniper Junction and love is in the air. Or is that just a dark cloud?
Lilly’s shop assistant, Harry, is about to pop the question to his girlfriend, Alice Davenport. He’s got the ring, he’s planned a romantic dinner, and he’s even thought of a gracious escape if Alice says no.

The only thing missing is…Alice.

Lilly wants to do all she can to help find Alice, even if that means interfering with a police investigation. But as she begins to learn more about Harry’s sweet, unassuming girlfriend, she discovers that Alice is hiding a shocking secret that will complicate everything.

And when Lilly suffers a lapse in judgment, the consequences are swift and painful. Can she pull herself together enough to help her daughter through a tunnel of teenage angst, deal with her mother’s dementia-related wanderings, and still help Harry find his Happily Ever After?

Sweet Hearts by Connie SheltonSweet Heart by Connie Shelton:

Will there be Valentine wedding bells for Samantha Sweet and Beau Cardwell? (introduced in this mystery series opener Sweet Masterpiece) Sam’s bakery, Sweet’s Sweets is busier than ever this Valentine week, as she struggles to replicate the magical chocolate-making techniques of the enigmatic chocolatier who boosted her winter holiday sales into the stratosphere. However, candy classes take second place to a new mystery, when Sam meets a woman whose missing son’s case seems to have been dropped by the authorities. Marla Fresques learns that she is dying and needs for her son to come home and raise the daughter he left behind. Sam agrees to help, hoping that Sheriff Beau’s inside connections will bring about a quick and happy resolution.

But what about Sam’s and Beau’s own wedding plans? They may be in jeopardy when an entirely new development appears in the form of Beau’s ex-girlfriend who is determined to win him back.

With the familiar mix of mystery, romance and a touch of magic that has enchanted readers of this series, Sweet Hearts draws the reader even further into the captivating world of Samantha Sweet.

My Wicked Valentine by Lotta SmithMy Wicked Valentine by Lotta Smith:

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner… Love is in the air and so are the ghosts!

When Rick’s old friend, up-and-coming celeb psychic Brian Powers is accused of murdering an esthetician at a luxe gentlemen-only spa, Mandy’s cozy afternoon at home goes from cookie-baking to crime solving.

With baby Sophie and ghost-pal Jackie in tow, Mandy and Rick take to haunting the spa where the facials are fab and the intrigue is high-end.

Every suspect has a secret, but who’s willing to kill to keep theirs under wraps? [Seaweed wraps, that is.] Find out in this dangerously funny installment of the Manhattan Mystery series.

The Draed Arrow by Grigor WeeksThe Dread Arrow by Grigor Weeks:

Dark Space is strange, and so are the hitmen who live there. Strap in sweetheart. Love never hurt so good.

 

 

 

 

 

Valentine's Blizzard Murder by Linnea WestValentine’s Bizzard Mystery by Linnea West:

When a minor celebrity staying at the Shady Lake Bed and Breakfast dies of an allergic reaction during a blizzard, it doesn’t seem like it could get much worse. But was it really an accident?

Jake Crawford is a D list celebrity who loves to come back to Shady Lake to be the big fish in a small pond. This time, he brought his new wife back to Shady Lake for his honeymoon and they are staying at the bed and breakfast that Tessa Schmidt helps her family run. Jake is kind of a jerk, but then a blizzard hits and he dies of an allergic reaction. It seems like things couldn’t get any worse for a Valentine’s Day weekend. But Tessa is starting to suspect that the allergic reaction isn’t the horrible accident she had assumed.

As the blizzard stretches on and on, secrets keep coming out. It seems like almost everyone has a motive to kill Jake. Can Tessa figure out who wanted to kill Jake Crawford before the killer strikes again?

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for January 2020

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some December books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, sword and sorcery, paranormal mystery, science fantasy, fantasy romance, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, dystopian fiction, Cyberpunk, Hopepunk, Steampunk, aliens, angels, dragons, shifters, superheroes, pirates, ghosts, druids, fae, crime-busting witches, supernatural serial killers, alien mating rituals, planet killers, space marines, living swords, life after death and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog run by Jessica Rydill and myself, which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Strange Love by Ann AguirreStrange Love by Ann Aguirre:

He’s awkward. He’s adorable. He’s alien as hell.
Zylar of Kith B’alak is a four-time loser in the annual Choosing. If he fails to find a nest guardian this time, he’ll lose his chance to have a mate for all time. Desperation drives him to try a matching service but due to a freak solar flare and a severely malfunctioning ship AI, things go way off course. This ‘human being’ is not the Tiralan match he was looking for.

She’s frazzled. She’s fierce. She’s from St. Louis.
Beryl Bowman’s mother always said she’d never get married. She should have added a rider about the husband being human. Who would have ever thought that working at the Sunshine Angel daycare center would offer such interstellar prestige? She doesn’t know what the hell’s going on, but a new life awaits on Barath Colony, where she can have any alien bachelor she wants.

They agree to join the Choosing together, but love is about to get seriously strange.

Magic Lies by Fatima BaderMagic Lies by Fatima Bader:

Hunting a serial killer can be hazardous to your health.

My name’s Selena Valeron, and I’m the Supernatural Bureau of Investigation’s best undercover witch. After three years, the bureau has just handed me my biggest case: hunting the magical community’s most prolific serial killer, Xavier.

Lately the dead women on the morgue table bear an eerie resemblance to me. A shocking revelation indicates the killer is someone from my past—if I can remember it. Years ago, an accident wiped out my memory and threatened to end my career. Now my magical powers seem to be manifesting into something stronger.

Was my memory loss really an accident, or a failed murder attempt?

Time’s ticking as I dig through my past to find the killer. I need answers. If I can’t get them in time, I’ll lose friends, family—even my own life.

MAGIC LIES is a fast-paced urban fantasy mystery with plenty of thrilling twists and turns that will keep you guessing. Agent Valeron may have lost her memory, but she hasn’t lost her snarky attitude and she’s still a badass witch. Jump into this magical world and start reading the Selena Valeron series today!

King of the Republic by P.J. BermanKing of the Republic by P.J. Berman:

Queen Silrith has fallen. Now she must rise again. However, when her army lands in Etrovansia in search of reinforcements and political support, their welcome is far from warm. Their retreat from one war could start another.

Ezrina, a vengeful Hentani priestess, feels the weight of expectation placed on her by her tribe. Without Jezna by her side, her headship is a lonely one. Will the arrival of strange new allies prove a welcome help or complicate matters further?

Zethun, an ambitious young politician, rides a wave of public support amid the passion of revolution. Now he must restore order before the mob descends into anarchy.

All three rebels stand on the precipice of their defining moments. There is no going back now.

Meanwhile, the tyrannical usurper, King Jostan, brings new violence to the Verusantian reign of terror over Bennvika.

Planet Killer by Lindsay BurokerPlanet Killer by Lindsay Buroker:

Casmir has survived against impossible odds, and now he longs to return home. But an invasion force is blockading the Kingdom’s wormhole gate, and it would be suicidal to fly through it now. Worse, his family and friends are stuck on the other side, with hostile forces attacking their home world.The only way Casmir can help is to find out who’s behind the invasion… and convince him to stop. But Casmir isn’t known for his ability to strong-arm people, and this is one enemy who won’t be won over by his friendly demeanor. As he soon finds out, he must face the very rich and very powerful person who’s been trying to have him killed for months.

Firebird's Lair by Rachel FordFirebird’s Lair by Rachel Ford:

A mysterious warlock. A ruthless band of wyvern poachers. A marriage neither of them wants.

Tsar Kirill’s only daughter is ailing. Poachers and robbers plague his kingdom. He doesn’t want a wife. Especially not that one.

Tsarevna Yuliana has a home already. She doesn’t want to leave everything she’s known, the seaside that she grew up by, to start a new life in a strange land. Especially not with him.

But Tsar Fyodor, his ally and her father, has other plans. He wants to forge an empire. And empire building by marriage is so much less taxing than empire building by war.

Or so he thinks.

First at odds, Yuliana and Kirill unite to outwit Fyodor and save themselves from his machinations. But as a mysterious sorcerer and a dangerous band of wyvern poachers threaten the future of both kingdoms, the two must risk everything – including their hearts – to save the hard-won peace.

A humorous fantasy novel, full of lovable characters, dangerous villains, and laugh-out-loud moments.

Osmium War by Thomas GreenOsmium War by Thomas Green:

He betrayed her. Her revenge will shake their worlds.

Captain John Lang has devoted his life to his duty. Raised as a child soldier, he has never known another life.

And since the cold war between Earth and Mars has been going on for over two centuries, he never will.

To save his lover, Raina, from the same fate, he sent her to Earth.

But things didn’t go for Raina the way John expected them to. Wearing an artificial face, she works as a corporate assassin for the Earth’s largest weapons manufacturing syndicate.

On Earth, she’s an escaped prisoner while on Mars, she’s officially dead. And has neither forgiven nor forgotten.

So, when Earth bans deep core mining, creating a system-wide osmium shortage, she seizes the opportunity and escalates the crisis.

For if she manages to make Earth and Mars go to war, they are sure to destroy each other. And her syndicate would then rule over the wasteland.

After all, she could have no better revenge than for John and all his soldier brothers to die in a nuclear apocalypse.

Ever the Hero by Darby HarnEver the Hero by Darby Harn:

Superheroes are big business. Imagine not being able to afford them.

Kit Baldwin just wants to make rent. The only work she can find in the ruins of her devastated city is scavenging for alien technology. When she finds a powerful alien weapon, her discovery pays off more than she could have hoped: it draws the attention of the most powerful of the superhuman Empowered, Valene.

Valene hears everything, everywhere. She suffers for it, and as they begin a precipitous romance, Kit believes she can use the weapon she’s scavenged to mitigate Valene’s pain. If she can’t, Valene will retreat to the soundlessness of space. Without Valene’s compassion, the stricken city is left to the mercy of Valene’s ruthless father, who denies the assistance the city needs unless it can pay for it.

As Valene’s condition worsens, Kit becomes more desperate and unleashes the full power of the alien weapon. In an instant, she is transformed into a being of cosmic power. She can acquire the knowledge and energy of anything – or anyone – she touches.

Ghostly Charms by Lilly Harper HartGhostly Charms by Lilly Harper Hart:

Harper Harlow thought the only thing she was going to have to worry about in the shadow of spring was planning her wedding. She was wrong.A string of break-ins in Whisper Cove have caught the attention of the cops, including her fiancé Jared Monroe. Things take a turn for the worse when one of those break-ins results in the death of a local barber. It seems what was once written off as teenage hijinks is something else entirely. In addition to the break-ins, Harper finds herself distracted by a new resident. He’s bringing an art gallery to town … as well as his troubled sister. Rain Porter doesn’t want to be in Southeastern Michigan and she’s hiding a big secret. Harper is determined to help the girl until the young woman pushes the exact wrong buttons. Things aren’t what they seem and the deeper Harper digs the more she worries that she doesn’t really want to find an answer. When a ghost from the other side of the state shows up and starts invading her dreams, things go from bad to worse. Jared wants nothing more than to protect Harper, but there are some things he can’t fight … and a ghost is one of them. It’s going to take everyone working together to find a way out of this one and even then survival is not a given. Jump on the ghost train with Harper, Jared, and Zander … because this one is going to be a wild ride.

Mother Savant by A.L. HawkeMother Savant by A.L. Hawke:

It is now 2244 and the all-female society of Arkite is on the brink of revolution. Only the return of the Mother Savant can hope to maintain order.

Savant Elise Jackson, Arkite’s supreme leader, is stricken with terrible grief over the recent loss of her lover. She has spent the last two years with her assistant, Sara, trying to repair and genetically engineer her lover’s damaged body and mind.

But the Viceroy of Pyramid City and her followers in the Savant Council have no interest in squandering the city’s resources for Elise’s personal gain. With the help of the mainframe AI, they will vie for power, even attempting collusion with Sara and sabotage.

And even if her enemies fail and Elise somehow manages to revive her lover, Elise knows she’ll have to vie for something she covets even more—her lover’s love. For Sara once loved her just as much, if not more.

Mother Savant is the sequel to Candy Savant—Book 2 in the Candy Savant Series.

The Living Sword 2: The Road Ahead by Pemry JanesThe Living Sword 2: The Road Ahead by Pemry Janes:

Eurik & Leraine have escaped the land of the necromancers, but still face a long journey. Eurik is looking for answers about who his parents were and how they ended up adrift at sea. Leraine must carry the news of her teacher’s death back home, yet also has a debt to Eurik for helping her to avenge Irelith.

Together, they’ll have to traverse the Neisham Hills, where lone travelers are snatched in the night and even numbers don’t guarantee safety. And beyond the hills, all along the long Inza Road, the drums of war beat louder and louder.

But the greatest threat may not be goblins, elves, or bandits. It may be the people they’ve chosen to travel with.

Trinary by Gaja J. KosTrinary by Gaja J. Kos:

Cairo MacKennon doesn’t give a shit about rules, save for one. Avoid SCAR Force at all costs.

When a high-end heist goes south and not even the best stealth ship in the Vedrina trinary system can keep her off SCAR Force’s radar, Cairo’s thieving ways become the least of her problems.

The Space Combat and Retrieval Force doesn’t forget past sins.

And what they have in mind for Cairo’s transgression beats even her worst nightmare.

Scroll up and start reading the first episode in the action-packed sci-fi serial with a slow-burn romance, daring pilots, and space ships galore!

Halfax by Joseph R. LalloHalfax by Joseph R. Lallo:

If you can’t have good luck, you should at least have a good dragon.

The princess has inherited the family curse. Plagued by terrible luck, it is all the palace staff can do to keep her safe from herself. When her father pricks himself with an assassin’s needle meant for her, her mother Queen Jade knows there is only one thing they can do. They must seek a cure. To reach it, they will need the help of their greatest protector. But even the great dragon Halfax may not be ready for the challenges ahead.

Halfax is a direct sequel to Jade. It takes place many years after the events of the Book of Deacon series.

Hex Type Thing by Amanda M. LeeHex Type Thing by Amanda M. Lee:

Hadley Hunter is feeling on top of the world.

She’s embracing her new home on Moonstone Bay and coming into her own as a witch. Her boyfriend Galen Blackwood, who happens to be sheriff, is even involving her in his investigations.

Unfortunately, the peace on Moonstone Bay is about to be threatened.

A local millionaire and a one-hit-wonder songstress are hosting the Skyclad Festival, a paranormal beach extravaganza that features a bevy of famous faces in paranormal circles … and those who want to hobnob with them. There’s only one little problem ….

One of the local influencers, a woman whose only job is to rave about things on the internet, ends up dead. Then, in short order, the organizer himself goes missing. That means Galen is on the case … and Hadley insists on serving as his sidekick.

There are a lot of witches on the island. The question is: Is magic to blame for murder or is something more insidious happening?

It’s going to take everyone working together to find the correct answers – and keep each other safe – as the problem on the beach deteriorates.

Someone has murder on the mind and Hadley is determined to find the culprit. All she has to do is survive long enough to uncover a mystery that has roots in a past long since forgotten … well, and not step on the wrong witchy toes.

The odds of doing both seem long but where there’s a witch, there’s a way.

Druid Vices and a Vodka by Annette MarieDruid Vices and a Vodka by Annette Marie:

I’ve said it before, but sometimes I’m a bad person. I cheated on my twelfth grade math final, I’ve run countless yellow lights, and I gossip about how hot my kickass best friends are. (Good thing my job as a guild bartender doesn’t require moral perfection.)

But there’s bad, and then there’s bad. And I’m not sure which applies to a certain dark druid/wanted criminal/reluctant friend of mine. His transgressions include black-magic dealings, kidnapping, and murder, and he’s about to add “revenge-fueled killing spree” to his resume—if I don’t stop him.

Should I stop him?

He and his nemesis are gearing up to tear each other apart, rogues and vultures are converging with their sights on the spoils, and the guilds that would normally stomp them into the ground are under attack. We’re on the verge of an all-out criminal turf war, and my time to decide is almost up.

Who’s the real bad guy … and do I dare stand in his way?

Sky Scorcher by Harlan J. MeadeSky Scorcher by Harlan J. Meade:

James Blackwin and his body guard, Misty, are appointed to provide security for the King’s Ball, but their plans are soon disrupted after Misty has a dangerous encounter with a mysterious man with ill intentions. Join James and his crew on board his flying airship as he attempts to defeat pirates, recover stolen plans, and save his friend. Will he prevail or will the obstacles he must face be more than he can handle?

 

 

Fallen Reign by Nazri NoorFallen Reign by Nazri Noor:

Half human, half angel, 100% pissed off.

Mason Albrecht’s life changed the day the angels tried to kill him. As the son of a fallen angel king, Mason is an abomination, one who can command the Vestments, divine arms and armor summoned from heaven’s own arsenals. And everybody wants a piece: death witches, demon princes, even deities of ancient myth.

Then an enterprising enchantress offers to cloak Mason from those who would corrupt him into a living weapon. But will Mason run from supernatural entities forever, or embrace his unholy birthright and defy the very forces of heaven and hell?

Sins of the Father is a new adventure series from Nazri Noor, bestselling urban fantasy author of the Darkling Mage series. Follow Mason’s first steps in Fallen Reign, a humorous, high-impact supernatural suspense story filled with magic, mythology, and plenty of mayhem.

The Last Mystic by Susan Kaye QuinnThe Last Mystic by Susan Kaye Quinn:

What if you knew there was life after death?

Eli is back from the dead… and determined to stop the powerful ascenders who blasted him out to the void. But in the three days he was gone, the world moved on. The girl he loves is determined to build an army of augmented humans to fight the ascenders—with herself as the next Offering. The ascenders are lining up in a death cult based on the charismatic ascender Eli accidentally released from storage—and all the restraints that have kept the ascender world in balance are now off. Everyone is rushing to be the first to bring a Second Singularity—to reach the numinous world from which Eli just returned—regardless of the cost. And the chaos and bloodshed of the first Singularity show just how high that cost can be. How can he stop the world from hurtling off the cliff when he’s the one who proved there’s something to reach, if only you could learn how to fly?

The Last Mystic is the thrilling conclusion to the Singularity series. This philosophical, HopePunk sci-fi series explores the intersection of mind, body, and soul in a post-Singularity

Price of Imperium by Dave RobinsonPrice of Imerpium by Dave Robinson:

The Imperium is on the brink of annihilation, and only one person can save it.

After centuries of peace, the Enemy has returned, and the only one who can unlock the Imperium’s last line of defense is the rightful emperor. Unfortunately, the throne has been empty for a decade.

The sole remaining heir is rumored to be on a backwater planet where no one has heard of the Imperium. Can he be found before the Imperial system is dissolved and the ships of the Imperial Guard are sent to the Wreckers?

Tam’s a destroyer skipper who’s been passed over for promotion one too many times. He’s on a routine mission in his last command.

Meanwhile, on Earth, a homeless man dreams of the stars. John doesn’t know who he is, or where he’s from. He just knows someone will come looking for him and he needs to be found.

Jayne is a woman who works at a homeless shelter in Seattle and finds herself a long way from home.

Who among them will be willing to pay the Price of Imperium?

Alarik by Aurora SpringerAlarik by Aurora Springer:

Two people fleeing their planets discover a shared destiny.

When an alien spacecraft crashes on Mars, the repercussions sweep throughout the solar system and endanger the fragile new alliance with the Warrish mermen.

Alarik Kenton Tallis, Eldest of three brothers, was forced to infiltrate human society on Earth as a spy to insure his injured brother receives proper medical care. But, when his transmissions are detected, he must flee the planet.

On Mars, Phoebe Wong, a veterinary scientist with dubious family connections, is desperate to escape the underworld gangs terrorizing the domed city. She jumps at the chance to join the colonists bound for a distant exoplanet.

Their paths converge on a space ferry bound for the outer planets. Troubles created by the mysterious spacecraft pursue them to Jupiter. Will their flight end on Europa, the hyperspace gateway to the stars protected by three diverse species?

Shifters and Sabotage by Lily WebbShifters and Sabotage by Lily Webb:

All’s fair in love and roar…

Zoe Clarke’s life is changing shape. After solving a litter of paranormal mysteries, Zoe’s ready to slow down and focus on domestics with her new live-in shifter boyfriend, Beau.

But someone in Moon Grove is eaten up with jealousy about their relationship — as Zoe learns from the series of disturbing anonymous letters addressed to Beau in their mailbox. So when Zoe finds Beau trapped in his golden retriever form, it’s up to her to sniff out what happened.

From his obsessive co-workers to the secretive community of shifters surrounding him, Zoe’s convinced the attacker is someone in Beau’s pack — until another prominent shifter is found locked in their animal form.

Can Zoe track down the culprit and reverse the shifter curse? Or will the attacker take a bite out of her too?

Shifters and Sabotage is the seventh book in the Magic and Mystery series of witch cozy mysteries. If you like shady shifters, raving reporters, and magical murder mysteries, then you’ll love this lighthearted seventh entry in Lily Webb’s spellbinding series.

Steel City, Veiled Kingdom by Danielle WilliamsSteel City, Veiled Kingdom: The Complete Edition by Danielle Williams:

Jerimin Icarii’s life is in shambles. Once an ambitious young scientist, years of hardship on the streets of his homeworld have transformed him into a desperate man, willing to do anything to get his life back.

In his darkest hour, he strikes a deal with the bizarre Queen of the faerie world. Now her supernatural powers help him keep up appearances while he claws his way back into society. The longer he keeps up the charade, the closer he gets to respect, wealth, and glory. But one slipup will get him killed.

And that’s not even the dangerous part. Because the cost of the Queen’s aid is obedience to her every whim. And Jerimin never knows what she’ll make him do next…

Steel City, Veiled Kingdom is a science fantasy overflowing with intrigue, adventure, and colorful characters you’ll love (and a few you’ll love to hate). It’s the perfect story for any sci-fi/fantasy lover looking for an immersive, inventive read.

Steel City, Veiled Kingdom: The Complete Edition presents the entire story as it was originally envisioned–as a single, complete, epic-length novel. The Complete Edition is only available in digital format at this time. However, all 5 parts of the story are offered as individual volumes in both digital and paperback and are listed here:

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for January 2020

Welcome to the latest edition of “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some December books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Our new releases cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have cozy mysteries, small town mysteries, animal mysteries, hardboiled mysteries, historical mysteries, medieval mysteries, Victorian mysteries, Jazz Age mystries, paranormal mysteries, crime thrillers, legal thrillers, spy thriller, historical thrillers, pulp thrillers, police procedurals, romantic suspense, private investigators, amateur sleuths, judges, FBI agents, police officers, Pinkerton agents, spies, ex-cons, serial killers, kidnappers, missing children, heists, con artists, organised crime, crime-busting witches, crime-busting writers, crime-busting cats, crime-busting ghosts, pinched Pisarros, crime and murder in New York City, Denver, East Berlin, Scotland, Snowdonia, Miami and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Crime Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Where Missing Boys Go by Parker AvrileWhere Missing Boys Go by Parker Avrile:

A missing ex. Two missing children. And the man caught in the middle of a cartel’s proposed hostage exchange.

When his boyfriend vanished with stolen millions, Darke went to prison for his part in the heist. Another man might want revenge. All he wants is the chance to rebuild his life with a new and better man, former FBI Special Agent Flare Greene.

But everybody else– including the FBI– still wants the millions.

When a faceless organization grabs two small hostages to force Darke to lead them to the missing money, he no longer has a choice. He must find his elusive ex or die trying.

And death is not an option as long as the two boys are in the hands of kidnappers.

Meanwhile, the FBI is dangling a mysterious new assignment in front of Flare? an assignment very far away from the rescue of two small hostages. What are the higher-ups in the bureau up to?

If they think they’re going to stop Darke Davis from finding the money first and saving those boys, they’ve got the wrong guy.

Nobody and nothing is stopping Darke from saving those boys.

Not his devious ex.

Not the FBI.

Not even Flare.

Magic Lies by Fatima BaderMagic Lies by Fatima Bader:

Hunting a serial killer can be hazardous to your health.

My name’s Selena Valeron, and I’m the Supernatural Bureau of Investigation’s best undercover witch. After three years, the bureau has just handed me my biggest case: hunting the magical community’s most prolific serial killer, Xavier.

Lately the dead women on the morgue table bear an eerie resemblance to me. A shocking revelation indicates the killer is someone from my past—if I can remember it. Years ago, an accident wiped out my memory and threatened to end my career. Now my magical powers seem to be manifesting into something stronger.

Was my memory loss really an accident, or a failed murder attempt?

Time’s ticking as I dig through my past to find the killer. I need answers. If I can’t get them in time, I’ll lose friends, family—even my own life.

MAGIC LIES is a fast-paced urban fantasy mystery with plenty of thrilling twists and turns that will keep you guessing. Agent Valeron may have lost her memory, but she hasn’t lost her snarky attitude and she’s still a badass witch. Jump into this magical world and start reading the Selena Valeron series today!

Murder by Midnight by Blythe BakerMurder by Midnight by Blythe Baker:

Murder and mystery in a Scottish castle…

When Alice Beckingham boards a train for Edinburgh in 1929, she begins a journey that will test everything she thinks she knows about her past and her family. From the moment of her arrival at the rugged and remote Druiminn Castle, something sinister haunts her steps.

With the murder of her host and the revelation that one of her fellow guests at the castle is an unscrupulous jewel thief, Alice resolves to uncover secrets that someone will stop at nothing to keep hidden.

Coercing the coolly unpredictable Sherborne Sharp into assisting her, Alice follows in the footsteps of her detective cousin Rose and pursues a heartless killer through glittering dining rooms, shadowed passages, and moonlit groves. A mysterious local legend may hold the key to unraveling everything, but will Alice survive long enough to decipher it?

The Pinched Pisarro by Will BriggsThe Pinched Pisarro by Will Briggs:

Sam Powell is a down on his luck con-man on the run from a vindictive ex-con whom he has double crossed.

His luck turns when he’s given one last shot at working for a criminal organization led by an enterprising Park Avenue butler. His mission: steal an invaluable Pissarro from one of Manhattan’s richest socialites.

However, Sam’s ex-partner (who happens to be his ex-girlfriend) doesn’t want anything to do with him so he’s forced to recruit his unwitting neighbor, a struggling piano tutor named Wendell Hoyt, to help.

Sam and Wendell find themselves pitted against a psychopathic hit-man, a criminal organization, and Wendell’s authoritative aunt.

Together they could end up millionaires…if they survive.

The Heavy Hand of the Editor by Cora BuhlertThe Heavy Hand of the Editor by Cora Buhlert:

New York City, 1938: Richard Blakemore, hardworking pulp writer by day and the masked vigilante only known as the Silencer by night, has faced many a horror in his day. But few of them can match the terror of the blank page. Especially since Donald A. Stuart, the upstart young editor of an upstart young magazine called Stunning Science Stories, has already rejected Richard’s story “The Icy Cold of Space” four times.

Stuart demands changes that Richard does not want to make. Worse, he also holds Richard’s story hostage. Unless Stuart permanently rejects the story, Richard cannot sell it elsewhere.

There are a lot of shady practices in the pulp business, but Stuart’s actions are beyond the pale even for the wild west of publishing. And so the Silencer decides to pay Stuart a visit to put the fear of God into an editor who believes himself to be one.

This is a novelettes of 10800 words or approx. 38 print pages in the Silencer series, but may be read as a standalone.

Any resemblances to editors, writers and magazines living, dead or undead are entirely not coincidental.

Hijinks and Murder by Beth ByersHijinks and Murder by Beth Byers:

January 1926

Violet has received an obscure note, a strange request, and the claim of a murder. She’d like to ignore it, but the writer knows too much about her.

Has someone died? Who is the author of the note and why are they dragging Violet into this crime? Just what is going on and will Violet be able to reach the bottom of this madness?

 

The Vault by Mark DawsonThe Vault by Mark Dawson:

A desperate agent. A petty criminal. An audacious plot.

When Harry Mackintosh is called upon to exfiltrate a valuable asset from East to West Berlin, what could have been an intelligence coup becomes an international embarrassment. Mackintosh’s men and his lover are killed by the East German secret police in a brutal crossfire and he barely escapes with his life. He flees to the West and promises himself that he will have vengeance.

Mackintosh is the head of Berlin Station but he doesn’t have the staff to compete with the Stasi. He returns to London to plead for the resources to fight back. But instead of the seasoned operatives that he needs, Mackintosh is given a single man: Jimmy Walker, a petty criminal with a record for robbing banks.

Mackintosh takes Walker to Berlin and sets in train an audacious plan that will see them both on the other side of the Wall. Mackintosh and Walker face off against Karl-Heinz Sommer, the Stasi general known as die Spinne – the Spider – a man known for his brutality and ruthlessness.

The plan is already a longshot, and then Walker learns of the riches that Sommer stole from displaced Berliners in the days after the Wall was constructed. Will Walker follow orders or will he find the prospect of the Stasi gold in Sommer’s secret vault too tempting to ignore? Will Mackintosh have his revenge or will he become another fly caught in the Spider’s web?

With ambiguous loyalties, clashing agendas and danger beyond measure, these two men will struggle to form a team. But in a battle as unequal as this, the unexpected might be the best strategy that they have.

Ghostly Charms by Lilly Harper HartGhostly Charms by Lilly Harper Hart:

Harper Harlow thought the only thing she was going to have to worry about in the shadow of spring was planning her wedding. She was wrong.A string of break-ins in Whisper Cove have caught the attention of the cops, including her fiancé Jared Monroe. Things take a turn for the worse when one of those break-ins results in the death of a local barber. It seems what was once written off as teenage hijinks is something else entirely. In addition to the break-ins, Harper finds herself distracted by a new resident. He’s bringing an art gallery to town … as well as his troubled sister. Rain Porter doesn’t want to be in Southeastern Michigan and she’s hiding a big secret. Harper is determined to help the girl until the young woman pushes the exact wrong buttons. Things aren’t what they seem and the deeper Harper digs the more she worries that she doesn’t really want to find an answer. When a ghost from the other side of the state shows up and starts invading her dreams, things go from bad to worse. Jared wants nothing more than to protect Harper, but there are some things he can’t fight … and a ghost is one of them. It’s going to take everyone working together to find a way out of this one and even then survival is not a given. Jump on the ghost train with Harper, Jared, and Zander … because this one is going to be a wild ride.

Die in the Wool by Katherine HaytonDie in the Wool by Katherine Hayton:

A sudden death has Tash Mallory all stitched up!

Tash Mallory’s future is in the balance when her employer “Auntie Fran” (no relation) fires her from the knitting shop job she’s held for twenty years. Even worse, when Tash returns to confront her, she finds Fran’s dead body in the back room.

Luckily, the doctor soon concludes the death is from natural causes. A decision cast into doubt when Tash finds out she’s inherited Fran’s store and home.

With an aggrieved nephew determined to fight the will in court and Fran’s despondent fiancé pointing the finger of blame, Tash battles to clear her name. The police mightn’t believe the death was murder, but the good folks of Patiti are quicker to rush to judgement.

If Tash can’t manoeuvre through the undercurrent of small town politics, winning the inheritance will be a Pyrrhic victory. Worse, the doctor’s assessment might be wrong, leaving a killer on the loose.

Murder Comes Home by K.R. HillMurder Comes Home by K.R. Hill:

The body was still warm. He’d never forget that touch.

Private investigator Connor Marin butts heads with the Russian mob as he investigates the murder of his best friend.

While working the case, he discovers that his own father, a police detective, had a bloody secret. To get to the bottom of his father’s story, Connor makes enemies of the police department.

With mob thugs threatening from one direction, and angry cops coming at him from the other, Connor is trapped.

How can he protect his beautiful fiancé, learn the truth about his father, and bring down a killer?

Mooved to Murder by CeeCee JamesMooved to Murder by CeeCee James:

Chelsea Lawson is a ride-or-die friend. When her best friend Tilly asked her to stay at her place to watch her six-year-old daughter and pets for a while, Chelsea didn’t hesitate to say yes. What she didn’t realize was that “Tilly’s place” was a micro-farm and “a few pets” included a cow and two goats as well as a child who was too smart for her own good.

Chelsea was already in over her head before the dead body turned up.

When the local community, instead of offering support, tries to run her out of town, Chelsea suspects something is going on. Something big and rotten. The mayor makes it clear she’s not wanted and the townspeople give her the cold shoulder, but that only makes Chelsea more determined to uncover their secrets.

But no one expected the repercussions those secrets would have, especially Chelsea. Now life on the farm is hanging in the balance. Will Chelsea ever be able to wake up from this nightmare?

Seven Shadows by V.S. KemanisSeven Shadows by V.S. Kemanis:

A criminal prosecutor is bound to make a few enemies over a decades-long career, and Dana Hargrove is no exception. Who has it in for her?

In 2015, the former prosecutor is in her second year as a trial judge in Manhattan. It’s a new world. Dana cut her baby teeth in the DA’s office during the crack epidemic, the ’80s and early ’90s. Now, the murder rate is a fraction of what it was, and public opinion about incarceration is softening. So is Dana. As a judge, she agonizes over every sentencing decision before her.

Midlife has also hit Dana hard on a personal level. She misses her children and adjusts to the empty nest by immersing herself in work. Instead of growing closer to her husband Evan, their relationship becomes strained. What is happening to them?

Tension builds as Judge Hargrove presides over two high-stakes media cases. The defendants: a glamorous dot-com millionaire who killed her business partner, and an orthopedist who runs a deadly pill mill. In the public mail bag, the judge receives a message from an anonymous crank. Then her family starts getting letters that sound all too personal. Someone with an agenda is harassing and shadowing Dana and her loved ones.

In Seven Shadows, the judge and her pursuer are on a collision course meant to teach Dana the meaning of empathy and the value of the people she cherishes most.

Hex Type Thing by Amanda M. LeeHex Type Thing by Amanda M. Lee:

Hadley Hunter is feeling on top of the world.

She’s embracing her new home on Moonstone Bay and coming into her own as a witch. Her boyfriend Galen Blackwood, who happens to be sheriff, is even involving her in his investigations.

Unfortunately, the peace on Moonstone Bay is about to be threatened.

A local millionaire and a one-hit-wonder songstress are hosting the Skyclad Festival, a paranormal beach extravaganza that features a bevy of famous faces in paranormal circles … and those who want to hobnob with them. There’s only one little problem ….

One of the local influencers, a woman whose only job is to rave about things on the internet, ends up dead. Then, in short order, the organizer himself goes missing. That means Galen is on the case … and Hadley insists on serving as his sidekick.

There are a lot of witches on the island. The question is: Is magic to blame for murder or is something more insidious happening?

It’s going to take everyone working together to find the correct answers – and keep each other safe – as the problem on the beach deteriorates.

Someone has murder on the mind and Hadley is determined to find the culprit. All she has to do is survive long enough to uncover a mystery that has roots in a past long since forgotten … well, and not step on the wrong witchy toes.

The odds of doing both seem long but where there’s a witch, there’s a way.

The Snowdoina Killings by Simon McCleaveThe Snowdonia Killings by Simon McCleave:

A small town murder. A big city detective.

DI Ruth Hunter’s dream of escaping the murderous streets of South London and settling in the rural peace of Snowdonia has come true – until a brutal killing turns it into her worst nightmare.

Detective Inspector Ruth Hunter lives with the pain of her partner’s mysterious and unsolved disappearance. About to hit fifty, the veteran police officer trades in the crime-ridden streets of London for a more peaceful life in rural North Wales. But Ruth has barely settled into her new position in North Wales Police, when the body of a brutally murdered woman is discovered…with strange symbols carved into her skin. Teaming up with an obstinate deputy, Ruth struggles to eliminate anyone from a long line of suspects. When another slain victim is discovered with the same cryptic markings, she’s forced to re-think the investigation.

Has Ruth got what it takes to solve the case before the murderer attacks again?

The Girl That Vanished by A.J. RiversThe Girl That Vanished by A.J. Rivers:

Ring…Ring…

One call from her past was all it took to change everything.

A ten-year-old girl has vanished on her way home from camp.

And things took a turn for the worse when another child, a child that Emma knows, goes missing.

Disappearances, death, and tragedies have followed Emma Griffin throughout her childhood.

Her obsession with finding out the truth behind her past was what led her to join the FBI.

It’s been months since the horror of Feather Nest.

After the shocking revelation of the last case, FBI agent Emma Griffin decides to take a much-needed vacation.

But a phone call from Sheriff Sam Johnson, a man from her past, completely derails her plans.

A young girl has disappeared, and another child has gone missing.

With the number count slowly climbing.

Emma must now put her plans on hold, go back to her hometown and face some ghosts from her past.

When a mysterious package appears on her birthday.

Emma can’t shake the feeling that someone is monitoring her every movement.

Someone is getting too close for comfort.

The question is who?

In the close-knit town of Sherwood, the truth is never as it seems.

All the Good Girls by Willow RoseAll the Good Girls by Willow Rose:

Detective Harry Hunter of Miami PD’s homicide squad throws himself into a case no one asked him to solve.

Four teenagers from one of Miami’s affluent neighborhoods are murdered on a boat. Another is found in a dumpster. All five of them go to the same school and are on a list of witnesses to another crime.

Because he’s in bad standing with his boss, Harry is given the task of protecting a possible future victim, but Harry isn’t always known to follow his boss’s orders.

Soon, he’ll risk everything while racing to stop a killer who has left everyone else in the homicide squad shaking in terror.

An Agent for Pearl by Christine SterlingAn Agent for Pearl by Christine Sterling:

A quiet woman with no desire to become an agent; an agent with no intention of ever having a partner, and the case that cooks up surprises.

Pearl Bolton has enough on her plate, she doesn’t want to add anything else. She loves her job as a cook for the Pinkerton’s Denver office. At night she rushes home to help take care of her invalid father. The last thing she needs is a husband, no matter how temporary. What she didn’t count on was a case that involved her two passions: baking and Pinkerton Agent Zeke Preston.

Zeke Preston has a crush on the shy cook, and he has the extra ten pounds to prove it! He wishes he could get her to open to him, but Pearl doesn’t appear to need anyone or anything. Every time Zeke comes around, it’s as though Pearl avoids him. He knows exactly what to do to get her attention. Someone has sabotaged a national baking competition and he needs her to help solve the case. The fact he must marry her is just a bonus!

Does Pearl assist Zeke in finding the saboteur? When Pearl is the victim of a crime, will Zeke be able to protect her and solve the case? Will their marriage end at the case’s conclusion, or will they bake up something new together?

The Burned Man by Jason VailThe Burned Man by Jason Vail:

One of medieval Ludlow’s mills burns to the ground during a cold November night. Former coroner Stephen Attebrook walks down to the site out of curiosity the following morning like many of the town’s residents, where he discovers the charred corpse of the miller in the smoldering ruins. It could have been an accident, but the evidence points to murder. Mysterious deaths are no longer Attebrook’s business — or so he mistakenly supposes. The constable of Ludlow Castle, anxious to ingratiate himself with the local lord who owns the mill, pushes Attebrook into pursuing the culprit, a move that pitches him into a tapestry of murder and robbery that reaches even into his own home — for a rampaging criminal gang steals all the money he has in the world, threatening him with poverty and ruin. Pulled two ways, Attebrook must decide whether to save his fortune or seek justice for the miller’s death.

Shifters and Sabotage by Lily WebbShifters and Sabotage by Lily Webb:

All’s fair in love and roar…

Zoe Clarke’s life is changing shape. After solving a litter of paranormal mysteries, Zoe’s ready to slow down and focus on domestics with her new live-in shifter boyfriend, Beau.

But someone in Moon Grove is eaten up with jealousy about their relationship — as Zoe learns from the series of disturbing anonymous letters addressed to Beau in their mailbox. So when Zoe finds Beau trapped in his golden retriever form, it’s up to her to sniff out what happened.

From his obsessive co-workers to the secretive community of shifters surrounding him, Zoe’s convinced the attacker is someone in Beau’s pack — until another prominent shifter is found locked in their animal form.

Can Zoe track down the culprit and reverse the shifter curse? Or will the attacker take a bite out of her too?

Shifters and Sabotage is the seventh book in the Magic and Mystery series of witch cozy mysteries. If you like shady shifters, raving reporters, and magical murder mysteries, then you’ll love this lighthearted seventh entry in Lily Webb’s spellbinding series.

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Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for December 2019

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some November books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, historical fantasy, dark fantasy, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, Steampunk, lots of holiday books, crime-busting witches, crime-busting cats, crime-busting frogs, demons, the devil himself, ghosts, quests, pirates on the high seas and in space, magical body swaps, Christmas after the end of the world and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog run by Jessica Rydill and myself, which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Mercy's Trial by Sever BronnyMercy’s Trial by Sever Bronny:

Grasping at a sliver of hope, a group of friends undertake a perilous quest last attempted thousands of years ago . . . a quest to summon dragons.

A ruthless enemy has conquered Augum’s kingdom. Sheltered beneath a protective dome, the Academy of Arcane Arts stands as the sole remaining stronghold.

And Augum and his friends are about to abandon it.

Little does he know escaping will be the easy part, for a harrowing adventure awaits. Along the way, he’ll have to evade an enemy that always seems one step ahead—while dealing with an ally questioning his leadership.

But his greatest challenge?

Learning when to show mercy . . . and when to drive in the sword.

Christmas after the End of the World by Cora BuhlertChristmas after the End of the World by Cora Buhlert

It’s Christmas… five months after the Yellowstone supervolcano erupted, blacked out the sun and covered most of the western US in ash.

Thirteen-year-old Natalie, her younger brother Liam, baby Olivia and family dog Bud are among the few still holding out in the evacuation zone.

Day to day survival is hard enough, but Natalie is determined to give Liam and Olivia an unforgettable Christmas… after the end of the world.

And who knows, maybe they’ll even get a true Christmas miracle…

This is a post-apocalyptic holiday novelette of 10000 words or approx. 35 print pages.

Frosted Croakies by Sam CheeverFrosted Croakies by Sam Cheever:

’Tis the season for great folly…walawalawalawalala…ribbit.

It’s Christmas time at Croakies. The tree is up. The stockings are hung. And Christmas tunes are turning the atmosphere jolly. After a tumultuous Samhain, I’ve found my chi again and I’m starting to enjoy the season of love and giving.

Yeah. You probably know how this is going to end.

When Sebille suggests I open the bookstore up to a small holiday party, I foolishly agree. How was I supposed to know that the hobgoblin would decide it would be fun to hide everybody’s stuff? Or that we’d be hit with a freak winter storm that confined everybody inside for the duration. Or that a “You’re me but who am I?” spell would be released inside the shop, switching everybody’s identities and creating general chaos and hysteria?

I could probably deal with all that if it weren’t for the fact that my friend, Lea…the one person who could possibly reverse the spell…was ensconced in SB the parrot, with no opposable thumbs for spelling.

And me? Of course, I’m sitting fat and squishy inside Mr. Slimy. Thank goodness Rustin isn’t currently in residence, or it would be really crowded in here.

Who spelled my party? What do a pair of Santa’s elves have to do with it? And why have old enemies suddenly become new friends? I apparently have a little holiday mystery to solve inside Croakies, and I have no idea how I’m going to solve it with everybody mixed up and some of us human.

Have I told you I hate this season?

Ribbit!

Race Across Spacetime by M.D. CooperRace Across Spacetime by M.D. Cooper:

The Alliance has suffered an unimaginable loss: Tangel is dead.

The crew of the I2 struggles to carry on, dealing with the impending occupation of New Sol and surrender of the Orion Freedom Alliance. But Bob harbors a suspicion, a kernel of hope, and sends the Falconer in search of additional survivors.

Back at Star City, Finaeus and Earnest reel at the news that Tangel died to save her family and people—until they are visited by a mysterious AI from the past who presents them with a way forward.

Now the race is on. Sera chases after a Caretaker ship headed to the galactic core while Finaeus and Earnest travel beyond the galaxy to save a future Bob can no longer see.

Only time will tell if they can forge a new path forward.

Best Friends by Laurann DohnerBest Friends by Laurann Dohner:

Working together has forged a strong friendship between Melinda York and Mary Muller. So much so, they’re more like sisters. When two men burst into their diner with murder on their minds, Mel doesn’t hesitate to act. She’ll do anything to protect her friend, as well as their New Species customers…especially the one she’s been crushing on for months.

A single act of bravery sparks a series of events that result in Snow getting to know the waitress he’s been obsessively thinking about. He just wants to keep Mel safe. And convince her he’s the male for her.

Mary is the brunt of jokes because of her extreme fear of animals. Phobias aren’t funny. Is she the only one who understands that? When Mel’s actions link them both to New Species, she’d like to hide from those scary men with fangs. That would make her a crappy best friend, though. She’ll try to be brave…right up until the moment she comes face to face with a lion man named Lash. He’ll make her confront her fears in the most unexpected ways possible.

Star Rage by M.R. ForbesStar Rage by M.R. Forbes:

Events on Naraka leave Grayson exhausted but hopeful. The invaders may not be as unstoppable as he thought, and the entire weight of the Alliance is about to enter the fray. Rejoining the Navy should bring closure to his ordeal and allow him to return to his life as a pilot.

Except his mesh partner is still stranded on a freezing planet.

Except his past refuses to let go of his future.

Except the man he trusted to rally the defenses may have sabotaged them instead.

Humankind is on the verge of extinction, and if Grayson is going to stop it, he’ll have to outmaneuver opposition from every side of the equation.

Otherwise, there will be nothing left.

Angels and Amulets by Nicole GrotepasAngels and Amulets by Nicole Grotepas:

If there’s a way to spoil something, the villains of the 6 Moons will find it.

There’s no rest for the weary. Just when Holly Drake takes a break from searching for more information about her father, a Christmas-related heirloom vanishes. Sure, it’s Christmas on the 6-Moons, but Holly can’t relax. Neither can her team.

Fate forces them to give up their cozy fires, mulled drinks, and holiday feasts to race across the harsh volcanic terrain of the planet Kota to win back the prize before it’s destroyed. If they can’t save the heirloom, the already strained diplomatic relations between humans and the Centau will snap.
If they don’t save Christmas, who will?

Angels and Amulets is a Christmas novella set in the 6 Moons universe.

The Hexorcist by Lily Harper HartThe Hexorcist by Lily Haper Hart:

Ofelia Archer has a full life … which only gets fuller when a dead body lands in her backyard.

As owner of New Orleans’ premier supernatural speakeasy, Ofelia is always in the thick of things when the witch hits the fan. That’s no exception now … even when the local police start breathing down her neck.

Zach Sully has a colorful background. As a panther shifter, he keeps his true origins secret while walking the colorful streets of the French Quarter keeping law and order. A tourist murder draws him into new and uncharted territory, and a feisty witch is at the center of it.

Sully and Ofelia circle one another … warily … as they both try to solve a mystery that revolves around an outsider who somehow had ties to their little corner of the world. Eventually, they’re going to have to join forces … and it’s not exactly a comfortable meeting of the minds.

Chemistry is one thing. Trust is another. Ofelia and Sully will be forced to get over their inner misgivings and unite if they want to solve the crime … and stay alive in the process.

Welcome to a magical world, where the characters are colorful, the magic is fantastical, and the drinks are poured strong.

It’s Bourbon Street, baby, and you’ll never be the same again.

Well of Magic by B.R. KingsolverWell of Magic by B.R. Kingsolver:

I never expected to see a mage battle on national TV.

When the ley lines—the orderly rivers of magical energy that circle the globe—went wild, chaos ensued.

Magic hid in the shadows for hundreds of years, but then a secret order took control of one of the world’s largest religions. Their goal is to rule the world, and the first step is to control the ley lines and magic users.

I didn’t escape the Illuminati just to become a slave to the Knights Magica. If they want me, they’re going to have a fight on their hands.

The Incubus Impasse by Amanda M. LeeThe Incubus Impasse by Amanda M. Lee:

Charlie Rhodes is at a crossroads in her life. Her big secret is out – at least with the most important person in her life Jack Hanson – and now they have to deal with a whole new reality.

Things are going relatively well when the Legacy Foundation is sent on a mission to Charleston. It seems women are dying under strange circumstances: open windows, no immediate sign of violence, locked doors. The leader of their group is convinced it’s an incubus, and even though he was the chief naysayer before, Jack has no idea what to believe given the reality of his magical girlfriend.

It’s a new world and Charlie is excited to embrace it. Jack wants to keep her close while exploring her abilities. They make a fearsome twosome … although there’s danger at every turn.

It seems Charlie resembles the dead women, and even though local police thought they had nothing in common … it seems they actually did. They were bucking for a reality television show and it appears someone in that business may be a murderer.

Charleston is a new environment and Charlie and Jack are embracing a brand new world. Things are going to be fine … as long as they live to tell the tale.

A murderer is stalking Charleston, death is close, and only Charlie can save the day. She’s going to need those closest to her to do it. Luckily, they’re up for the challenge.

Junkyard Pirate by Jamie MacFarlaneJunkyard Pirate by Jamie MacFarlane:

Knocking at death’s door. Bargaining for a second chance. Seems like a heck of a way to find out about an alien invasion…

Vietnam vet Albert Jenkins is battling a bulging waistline and a passion for drink. So when a towering pile of scrap rocket parts falls and crushes the stubborn curmudgeon, he thinks it’s finally the end. But just as he’s about to take one final breath, a snarky alien parasite offers him a deal: his life in return for sharing his body.

With a little coaxing from his new pop-culture-loving inner resident, AJ’s broken carcass improves so much that even an old flame is impressed. But his bright outlook fizzles when he discovers he’s at ground zero of a galactic conspiracy to strip Earth of precious resources humans don’t even know exist.

Can the unlikely partners join forces and use AJ’s rusty military skills to raise the alarm? Or, will the alien invaders put him down once and for all?

Junkyard Pirate is the first book in an imaginative space opera series. If you like grizzled soldiers, clever twists and turns, and intergalactic tactical pairings, then you’ll love Jamie McFarlane’s fast-paced alien adventure.

Scent of Revenge by Mina MaiaScent of Revenge by Mina Maia:

Tamsin has a score to settle and she isn’t waiting any longer…

An elite combatant and tracker, Tamsin’s life is one built upon the ashes of her former one. However, she has unfinished business, the kind that an oath of revenge won’t let her forget.

It means she has to return to Vectis, a planet where she is considered less than human. Where she left behind a man who has probably forgotten all about her now.

Tamsin must fulfill her destiny, right past wrongs and possibly find closure all at the same time.

SCENT OF REVENGE is a science fiction romance novella with a medium heat level and an MF HEA.

Emperor's Throne by Shannon MeyerEmperor’s Throne by Shannon Meyer:

Three against one is not the best odds in any fight.
But does she dare gamble on making an enemy into an ally?

There might be no rest for the wicked, but there’s no rest for the exhausted either. We’ve barely survived one fight, and we have another blade at our throats-strike that, three blades.

I can see only one possible chance at surviving the three evils we face, no matter how much I might hate it.

I have to make my peace with one of them and pray that they will help me take down the other two before we turn on each other.

The only question is…who do I trust not only my life but with the life of my family? Because I have all those I love the best at my side.

Maks.
Lila.
Bryce.

Or do I leave them, and take the danger with me to face it all on my own?

One thing is for sure…even if I go down, it’ll be swinging with everything I have.

Charmed, I'm Sure by Christine PopeCharmed, I’m Sure by Christine Pope:

Is their love the perfect Christmas gift…or a curse?

Allan D’Alessandro thought he had his ticket out of Hell secured. Until his alleged “soul mate” bailed, leaving him only three weeks — three weeks — to lose his heart and be loved in return. For real. Or for real he can kiss the Hollywood glamor, the hilltop house, the Tesla roadster goodbye. And say hello to his old job as Asmodeus, object of his fellow demons’ eternal derision.

But there’s that aquamarine-eyed wedding planner who pulled off Lucifer’s nuptials without a hitch. She’s all about romance, right? Wooing her should be a piece of cake. Wedding cake, if he plays his cards right.

Belinda Carson has had to get used to letting men walk out of her life. She has no choice — any man who falls in love with a Carson witch is guaranteed a gruesome fate. So she uses her magic to create perfect weddings…just not her own.

But surely there’s no harm in indulging in a harmless holiday fling with the sandy-haired Hollywood agent whose megawatt smile lights up her world. After New Year’s, they’ll go their separate ways. They’ve agreed. It’s all set.

Except he’s dismantled all her defenses. And this time, her heart isn’t letting go….

The Lady of Kingdoms by Suzannah RowntreeThe Lady of Kingdoms by Suzannah Rowntree:

Magic made her a warrior.

Justice will make her a legend.

Jerusalem, 1180: A catastrophe destroyed Marta Bessarion’s family and whisked her away from everything she once knew. Now, armed with a magic spear and a burning thirst for justice, Marta vows to protect her new home and family, no matter the cost.

But trouble is brewing in the glittering palaces of Jerusalem…

The young Leper King, Baldwin, is dying. Before he goes, Baldwin must choose a successor…but every choice is a bad one. An innocent child, exploited by stronger men? A crafty cousin who has already tried to snatch the crown? Or his brilliant, passionate sister who is determined to rule – even if it triggers a war?

When enemy armies muster on the kingdom’s borders, Marta charges into battle. But when Baldwin’s choice puts her newfound family at risk, Marta finds herself fighting a new kind of battle – one in which intrigue, deception, and betrayal are the weapons.

To save the kingdom, she’ll need more than a magic spear to destroy its enemies.

She’ll need a saint to save its soul.

Stemming the Tide by Rosie ScottStemming the Tide by Rosie Scott:

They may have lost their ship and cargo after audaciously challenging the pirates that rule the sea, but Calder Cerberius, Koby Bacia, and their crew of misfits refuse to surrender. The pirate leader’s right-hand man, Cale Woodburn, plans to establish a stranglehold in the wildlands and steal its precious local resource: ferris, the herbal drug shapeshifting beastmen rely on to prevent the agony of transformations from breaking their minds. Calder and Koby’s crew pursue Cale across the seas to regain control of the lucrative ferris trade and save the wildlands from ruin.

Indigenous tribes of beastmen rise up to defend their homeland. Shapeshifters on both sides transform into beasts of the land, sea, and sky to brawl to the death. A run-in with an ancient sea creature of apocalyptic size gives Calder the idea to spark a massive rebellion against the pirates using dangerous and unconventional means, but other mercenaries will only agree to come to his aid once he defeats the deranged Cale Woodburn and restores peace to the wildlands. When Calder finally catches up with Cale, two mentally unstable captains will clash in beast form until only one emerges the victor from a pool of blood.

All I Want For Christmas is Wicked by Lotta SmithAll I Want for Christmas is Wicked by Lotta Smith:

Trees decorated, stockings full of presents, and another case to crack!

The Rowling family is gearing up for another Merry Christmas, and Mandy has her hands full with holiday prep, but how can she get into the spirit of the season when the victim in her latest case isn’t a ghost?

Twenty years ago, during a Christmas Eve blackout, Kevin Holt, the husband of a rich heiress, lost his memory in a fall down the stairs of their mansion. Now he’s discovered evidence that someone might have been trying to kill him, and all he wants for Christmas is to find out who. Since the resident ghost of the Holt house didn’t witness the attack, Rick and Mandy will have to rely on old fashioned sleuthing (and a little help from Mandy’s paranormal pal Jackie) to find out which of the four suspects is the culprit.

Meanwhile Rick has been saddled with novice investigator Cameron Gibson (call him Ace!) the son of one of USCAB’s wealthiest clients. Ace is trying to catch the creep stalking a New York City fashion model, but despite wanting Mandy to mentor him, one ghostly encounter has him seriously spooked.

A run in with a biker ghost and dancers in danger complicate the case, but the big question on Mandy’s mind is why does little Sophie want a bear trap for Christmas? Find out in this wickedly merry holiday installment of the Paranormal in Manhattan Mystery Series.

Crusade by Glynn StewartCrusade by Glynn Stewart:

A newborn Alliance, forged to stop the destroyers of worlds
A potential ally, with secrets hidden by a thousand lies
A long-doomed star, whose ruins hold a vital answer

Isaac Lestroud, Admiral of the Exilium Space Fleet, has spent the last three years working with Ambassador Amelie Lestroud to build an alliance against the Rogue Matrices, AIs bent on converting every world into a paradise—regardless of whether anyone lives on it.

As Isaac hunts the Rogue that destroyed one of their allies’ homeworlds, Amelie begins negotiations with a potential new ally that could tip the balance. The Governance is a power to rival the human homeworlds the Lestrouds were exiled from—but like those homeworlds, not all is as it seems.

And far from the war, Octavio Catalan leads an expedition into the shattered wreckage of the home system of the Matrices’ builders. Among those dead worlds, he hopes to find the answer to the question that haunts the survivors of that race: why did their AIs go genocidally insane?

The Black Hole by James David VictorThe Black Hole by James David Victor:

It turns out pirates might not have been the biggest scourge on the galaxy after all.

The pirate lord Parallax was defeated and his flag ship, the Black Hole, was utterly destroyed. This should have ushered in an era of galactic peace. Instead, a far worse conflict between the Federation Navy and the Byers Clan has torn the galaxy apart. Those that are left must find a way to fight on and save the galaxy from something far worse than space pirates. Can a new batch of hero’s step up and save the galaxy or will the remnants of the pirate lords reassert their control of a galaxy at war?

The Black Hole is the fifth book in the exciting Deep Black space opera. If you like fast-paced space adventure, rogue pirates, and stories more complex than good vs. evil, you are going to love your visit to the Deep Black.

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Indie Crime Fiction of the Month for December 2019

Welcome to the latest edition of “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Crime Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some November books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Our new releases cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have plenty of cozy mysteries, small town mysteries, animal mysteries, historical mysteries, 1940s mysteries, paranormal mysteries, crime thrillers, humorous thrillers, police procedurals, romantic suspense, noir, private investigators, amateur sleuths, serial killers, kidnappers, missing persons, cold cases, robberies, organised crime, motorcycle gangs, crime-busting witches, crime-busting wedding planners, crime-busting cats, crime-busting frogs, thieving Santas, crime and murder in New Orleans, Charleston, Memphis, Philadelphia, Manhattan, the Bronx, London, Northumberland, the Caribbean and much more. and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Crime Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

A Simple Country Deception by Blythe BakerA Simple Country Deception by Blythe Baker:

The violent death of a friend plunges Helen Lightholder into another case of danger and deceit as she struggles to unravel the truth behind the grisly killing. With her own past continuing to haunt her, Helen works to uncover the ultimate answer behind the mystery that has plagued her since the beginning.

Return to the quaint – and deadly – village of Brookminster a final time for the dramatic conclusion to Helen’s adventures.

 

Mustang Sally by Blake BannerMustang Sally by Blake Banner:

The cops at the 43rd called it the unsolvable case.

October, 2010, Sally Jones had been stabbed in the heart in her apartment on Commonwealth Avenue, in the Bronx. Her coat was on the back of her chair. Her shoes were beside her bed, her clothes were neatly folded, and she was dead under the sheets.

The killer had removed Sally’s hands and feet and departed, leaving no trace – except the dismembered body.

October, 2019, as the national media focuses on the 43rd’s unbroken record in cold cases, Detective John Stone, head the unit, decides to tackle the case.

But he and Dehan are soon to discover that this is a case like no other: who were the visitors who came to see her before her death? What was their connection with the shadowy Sacred Brotherhood of Christ? And did her brother, Captain Ewan Jones, seek to help her – or murder her? It soon begins to look like this is indeed the case they will never crack.

And what, Dehan wants to know, happened to the Mustang?

Santa's Sticky Fingers by Cora BuhlertSanta’s Sticky Fingers by Cora Buhlert:

Normally, Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd doesn’t deal with petty crime and pickpockets. But when the Christmas market in Kingston upon Thames is hit by a wave of thefts, Helen and her team are called in to help out.

Harry, a homeless man who always hangs around the market, seems to be the most obvious suspect. But there is also the mysterious man in the black leather jacket some witnesses claim to have seen. Or maybe, the thief can be found much closer to home…

Can Helen and her team crack the case in time for Christmas?

This is a holiday novelette of 7800 words or approx. 26 print pages in the Helen Shepherd Mysteries series, but may be read as a standalone.

Frosted Croakies by Sam CheeverFrosted Croakies by Sam Cheever:

’Tis the season for great folly…walawalawalawalala…ribbit.

It’s Christmas time at Croakies. The tree is up. The stockings are hung. And Christmas tunes are turning the atmosphere jolly. After a tumultuous Samhain, I’ve found my chi again and I’m starting to enjoy the season of love and giving.

Yeah. You probably know how this is going to end.

When Sebille suggests I open the bookstore up to a small holiday party, I foolishly agree. How was I supposed to know that the hobgoblin would decide it would be fun to hide everybody’s stuff? Or that we’d be hit with a freak winter storm that confined everybody inside for the duration. Or that a “You’re me but who am I?” spell would be released inside the shop, switching everybody’s identities and creating general chaos and hysteria?

I could probably deal with all that if it weren’t for the fact that my friend, Lea…the one person who could possibly reverse the spell…was ensconced in SB the parrot, with no opposable thumbs for spelling.

And me? Of course, I’m sitting fat and squishy inside Mr. Slimy. Thank goodness Rustin isn’t currently in residence, or it would be really crowded in here.

Who spelled my party? What do a pair of Santa’s elves have to do with it? And why have old enemies suddenly become new friends? I apparently have a little holiday mystery to solve inside Croakies, and I have no idea how I’m going to solve it with everybody mixed up and some of us human.

Have I told you I hate this season?

Ribbit!

Lady in Red by Stacy ClaflinLady in Red by Stacy Claflin:

She appears only at night. Watching. Waiting…

When local children begin to vanish, Officer Alex Mercer is positive the cases are tied to recent threats against his family—especially since the first girl to go missing is his best friend’s daughter.

It all ties back to Alex. He’s sure of it.

The only solid link to the missing kids is a mysterious woman in a red dress. But that isn’t enough to go on, and Alex has orders to focus on another case. As if that will stop him.

He stumbles upon something so chilling, it finally provides the proof that he was right all along—the kidnappings are part of an elaborate worldwide scheme. And he and his family have landed on the bad guys’ radar.

Alex will stop at nothing to take down the dangerous criminal empire… if they don’t end him first.

In Plain Sight by Adam CroftIn Plain Sight by Adam Croft:

A trail of death. A web of corruption. The ultimate betrayal.

A series of armed robberies on local petrol stations leaves Mildenheath CID chasing their tails. But things are about to get a whole lot worse.

When an elderly woman is killed during an armed raid on her jewellery shop, Knight and Culverhouse realise one of their own is involved — a police officer.

With the future of Mildenheath CID at stake and the lives of their loved ones under threat, time is running out — fast.

As they begin to investigate the web of corruption, they discover just how deep it runs — and how close to home. But are they prepared for the truth?

Jocelyn's War by Jason Ryan DaleJocelyn’s War by Jason Ryan Dale:

There’s a war in the streets. The vicious Ghost Knights biker gang, suddenly flush with cash and guns, is challenging the Mob for control of the city. No one is safe as bodies fall and houses go up in flames.

Danny Rinker is a young Mob soldier, but he’s keeping his distance from the fighting. Encouraged by Jocelyn, his new girlfriend, Danny spends his days in the local bar he finally owns after years of struggling. While his friends are out making names for themselves, Danny finds in the velvety touch of Jocelyn’s lips all the action he’ll ever need.

From a chance encounter, Danny learns a secret that goes to the heart of the Ghost Knights’ newfound power. If he can unravel a twenty-year-old mystery, Danny will be the one who takes the bikers down once and for all.

But Jocelyn is not all she appears. She knows things about this war that her lover can’t even imagine. Danny is about to discover that Jocelyn is a warrior, and even if it breaks her heart, she will carry on her fight to the end.

Claus for Celebration by Laura DurhamClaus for Celebration by Laura Durham:

Wedding disasters are one thing. A missing Santa (who is presumed dead) is quite another.

This is no normal holiday season for DC’s top wedding planners. Not only is the weather too warm for their winter wonderland wedding, but their neighborhood’s singing Santa, Kris Kringle Jingle, is missing. On top of that, Annabelle’s engagement party is looming, and someone seems to be sabotaging their wedding plans. Can the Wedding Belles and their colorful crew find Santa, save the wedding, and stop the person who’s trying to make their lives a holly, jolly catastrophe?

Claus for Celebration is the 15th standalone book in the hilarious Annabelle Archer Wedding Planner Mystery series. If you like larger-than-life characters, madcap capers, and an insider’s look at glamorous society weddings, then you’ll love Laura Durham’s award-winning cozy mystery series.

Buy now to cozy up to this funny, festive holiday mystery today!

The Hexorcist by Lily Harper HartThe Hexorcist by Lily Haper Hart:

Ofelia Archer has a full life … which only gets fuller when a dead body lands in her backyard.

As owner of New Orleans’ premier supernatural speakeasy, Ofelia is always in the thick of things when the witch hits the fan. That’s no exception now … even when the local police start breathing down her neck.

Zach Sully has a colorful background. As a panther shifter, he keeps his true origins secret while walking the colorful streets of the French Quarter keeping law and order. A tourist murder draws him into new and uncharted territory, and a feisty witch is at the center of it.

Sully and Ofelia circle one another … warily … as they both try to solve a mystery that revolves around an outsider who somehow had ties to their little corner of the world. Eventually, they’re going to have to join forces … and it’s not exactly a comfortable meeting of the minds.

Chemistry is one thing. Trust is another. Ofelia and Sully will be forced to get over their inner misgivings and unite if they want to solve the crime … and stay alive in the process.

Welcome to a magical world, where the characters are colorful, the magic is fantastical, and the drinks are poured strong.

It’s Bourbon Street, baby, and you’ll never be the same again.

The Incubus Impasse by Amanda M. LeeThe Incubus Impasse by Amanda M. Lee:

Charlie Rhodes is at a crossroads in her life. Her big secret is out – at least with the most important person in her life Jack Hanson – and now they have to deal with a whole new reality.

Things are going relatively well when the Legacy Foundation is sent on a mission to Charleston. It seems women are dying under strange circumstances: open windows, no immediate sign of violence, locked doors. The leader of their group is convinced it’s an incubus, and even though he was the chief naysayer before, Jack has no idea what to believe given the reality of his magical girlfriend.

It’s a new world and Charlie is excited to embrace it. Jack wants to keep her close while exploring her abilities. They make a fearsome twosome … although there’s danger at every turn.

It seems Charlie resembles the dead women, and even though local police thought they had nothing in common … it seems they actually did. They were bucking for a reality television show and it appears someone in that business may be a murderer.

Charleston is a new environment and Charlie and Jack are embracing a brand new world. Things are going to be fine … as long as they live to tell the tale.

A murderer is stalking Charleston, death is close, and only Charlie can save the day. She’s going to need those closest to her to do it. Luckily, they’re up for the challenge.

Golgotha by Guy PortmanGolgotha by Guy Portman:

You can’t keep a good sociopath down.

Dyson Devereux is languishing in prison awaiting trial for murder. Languishing wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the irksome inmates, crowded conditions and distinct lack of haute cuisine.

Only Alegra, his sometime paramour and frequent visitor, shares his desire to see him released. The problem is, she wants Dyson freed so they can start a new life together. But all Dyson desires is to get back home to his treasured mementos.

As judgement day draws ever closer, can Dyson keep up appearances long enough to win his freedom? And at what cost? For hell hath no fury like a sociopath scorned.

Golgotha is a funny, fast-paced crime comedy novel, boasting a sardonic and sinister sociopath at its helm.

Ryan's Christmas by L.J. RossRyan’s Christmas by L.J. Ross:

Christmas can be murder…

After a busy year fighting crime, DCI Ryan and his team of murder detectives are enjoying a festive season of goodwill, mulled wine and, in the case of DS Phillips, a stottie cake or two—that is, until a freak snowstorm forces their car off the main road and into the remote heart of Northumberland. Their Christmas spirit is soon tested when they’re forced to find shelter inside England’s most haunted castle, where they’re the uninvited guests at a ‘Candlelit Ghost Hunt’. It’s all fun and games—until one of the guests is murdered. It seems no mortal hand could have committed the crime, so Ryan and Co. must face the spectres living inside the castle walls to uncover the grisly truth, before another ghost joins their number…

Murder and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit set amidst the spectacular Northumbrian landscape.

All I Want For Christmas is Wicked by Lotta SmithAll I Want for Christmas is Wicked by Lotta Smith:

Trees decorated, stockings full of presents, and another case to crack!

The Rowling family is gearing up for another Merry Christmas, and Mandy has her hands full with holiday prep, but how can she get into the spirit of the season when the victim in her latest case isn’t a ghost?

Twenty years ago, during a Christmas Eve blackout, Kevin Holt, the husband of a rich heiress, lost his memory in a fall down the stairs of their mansion. Now he’s discovered evidence that someone might have been trying to kill him, and all he wants for Christmas is to find out who. Since the resident ghost of the Holt house didn’t witness the attack, Rick and Mandy will have to rely on old fashioned sleuthing (and a little help from Mandy’s paranormal pal Jackie) to find out which of the four suspects is the culprit.

Meanwhile Rick has been saddled with novice investigator Cameron Gibson (call him Ace!) the son of one of USCAB’s wealthiest clients. Ace is trying to catch the creep stalking a New York City fashion model, but despite wanting Mandy to mentor him, one ghostly encounter has him seriously spooked.

A run in with a biker ghost and dancers in danger complicate the case, but the big question on Mandy’s mind is why does little Sophie want a bear trap for Christmas? Find out in this wickedly merry holiday installment of the Paranormal in Manhattan Mystery Series.

Chilly Comforts and Disasters by Anne R. TanChilly Comforts and Disasters by Anne R. Tan:

Raina Sun is newly married and enjoying her role as the police station’s unofficial pastry chef. When her husband bought a dilapidated old house on a steal, they are thrown into a whirlwind of construction activities with well-meaning relatives coming into town, permitting issues, and a dead body behind the drywall of the attic.

With all construction activities at a standstill and her husband working overtime to help with the cash flow, Raina must solve this cold case to get her life back on track. With the help of the geriatric Posse Club, will Raina find this hidden killer after all this time or will she become the next victim?

When Raja Met Vinny by Jack ThomsponWhen Raja Met Vinny by Jack Thompson:

Who says oil and water don’t mix?

Before Vinny, Raja worked solo. His unique connection to people and his intuitive brilliance was all he needed to solve crimes. Having a partner never crossed his mind. When he met Vinny that changed.

The death of a prominent banker takes Oxford-educated private investigator Raja Williams on a case to his home turf, the Caribbean. Vinny Moore, a hipster hacker who got caught with her hand in the government’s cookie jar, is pressed into service helping a CIA task force stop a prolific cocaine smuggling operation in the Caribbean.

When the two cases cross, Raja and Vinny meet with explosive results. They are as different as night and day, but together they form a powerfully effective crime-fighting team.

Dateline Memphis by LynDee WalkerDateline Memphis by LynDee Walker:

Crime reporter Nichelle Clarke heads home for the holidays…and learns that crime doesn’t take a day off.

Nichelle detours to Graceland in search of an Elvis Presley souvenir for her mother.

But when a valuable piece of memorabilia goes missing, the historic mansion descends into chaos.

With security swooping in and Graceland on lockdown, Nichelle finds herself shut in with staff, security guards, and Elvis superfans, all in the midst of an unfolding crime. Never one to miss an exclusive scoop, Nichelle whips out her notebook and starts reporting.

Locked behind the famous Graceland gates, Nichelle must work through a long list of suspects with no time to lose. But the closer she gets to the truth, the more danger she finds herself in.

The house of the King offers many clues, but will Nichelle be able to connect the dots in time to save a piece of history…and herself?

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Two New Holiday Stories Available: Christmas after the End of the World and Santa’s Sticky Fingers

It’s the last new release announcement for 2019. And what would be more fitting for a new release announcement that goes out on Christmas Eve than a holiday story? And this year, I have not one but two holiday stories to announce.

As the title implies, the first new release Christmas after the End of the World is a post-apocalyptic holiday story. Now post-apocalyptic fiction is not a subgenre you’d expect to fit in with holiday stories, but I hope that I managed to pull it off.

As for how Christmas after the End of the World came about, I try to write a holiday story every year. However, this year I was racking my head trying to come up with an idea for a holiday story, because inspiration for holiday stories usually doesn’t strike me until two or three weeks before the holidays.

However, I chanced to listen to this recording of the post-apocalyptic fiction panel at the 20Booksto50K Vegas writers conference. The panellists – all male, by the way – declared that post-apocalyptic fiction should have male protagonists, preferably ex-military, and lots of action to appeal to the prepper crowd. Now as anybody who has read After the End or The Hybrids knows, I don’t write that sort of post-apocalyptic fiction at all. Mine is more quiet and cozy and people actually help each other rather than shooting at each other. My protagonists are all civilians, often female, often young, sometimes children and teenagers. And then I thought, “Why don’t I write a post-apocalyptic holiday story? About a family trying to celebrate Christmas after the apocalypse.” And so Christmas after the End of the World was born. And because I’m a contrarian, I made the protagonist a thirteen-year-old girl.

So follow along as Natalie tries to prepare as good a holiday as she can for her younger siblings in…

Christmas after the End of the World
Christmas after the End of the World by Cora BuhlertIt’s Christmas… five months after the Yellowstone supervolcano erupted, blacked out the sun and covered most of the western US in ash.

Thirteen-year-old Natalie, her younger brother Liam, baby Olivia and family dog Bud are among the few still holding out in the evacuation zone.

Day to day survival is hard enough, but Natalie is determined to give Liam and Olivia an unforgettable Christmas… after the end of the world.

And who knows, maybe they’ll even get a true Christmas miracle…

This is a post-apocalyptic holiday novelette of 10000 words or approx. 35 print pages.

More information.
Length: 10000 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

***

The second holiday story, Santa’s Sticky Fingers, is also the latest entry in my Helen Shepherd Mysteries series. It is also the second Christmas mystery in the Helen Shepherd series after A Bullet for Father Christmas.

The inspiration for this story was a news report about pickpockets operating on Christmas markets, which is a recurring problem during the holiday season. Now I had already considered writing a mystery set at a Christmas market, but was still looking for a suitable plot. And when I heard that news report, I thought, “That’s it. Why not write a mystery featuring the hunt for pickpockets terrorising a Christmas market? After all, it doesn’t always have to be murder.”

The hunt for pickpockets of course requires someone to do the hunting. And since I already had a series featuring a regular investigative team, I thought, “Why not make it a Helen Shepherd Mystery?”

Now Christmas markets were originally a very German phenomenon, but they have become a lot more popular abroad during the last ten to fifteen years or so, particularly in the UK. And so many British cities now have Christmas markets of their own, often with vendors coming over from Germany. Therefore, it was absolutely no problem finding one in the greater London area for Helen and her team to investigate.

And so I sent Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd, Detective Constable Kevin Walker and Scene of the Crime Officer Charlotte on a tour across the Christmas market to interview vendors and witnesses and find the pickpocket who has been ruining many people’s holiday cheer.

So follow along as Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd and her team investigate…

Santa’s Sticky Fingers
Santa's Sticky Fingers by Cora BuhlertNormally, Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd doesn’t deal with petty crime and pickpockets. But when the Christmas market in Kingston upon Thames is hit by a wave of thefts, Helen and her team are called in to help out.

Harry, a homeless man who always hangs around the market, seems to be the most obvious suspect. But there is also the mysterious man in the black leather jacket some witnesses claim to have seen. Or maybe, the thief can be found much closer to home…

Can Helen and her team crack the case in time for Christmas?

This is a holiday novelette of 7800 words or approx. 26 print pages in the Helen Shepherd Mysteries series, but may be read as a standalone.

More information.
Length: 7800 words
List price: 0.99 USD, EUR or GBP
Buy it at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Japan, Amazon India, Amazon Mexico, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords, Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Buecher.de, DriveThruFiction, Casa del Libro, e-Sentral, 24symbols and XinXii.

I only finished Santa’s Sticky Fingers early on Sunday morning, so the book isn’t up at all vendors yet.

If you want more holiday stories, you can get all of mine in a handy bundle at a reduced price over at DriveThruFiction. The bundle contains ten holiday stories ranging from romance via science fiction and fantasy to mysteries and thrillers.

And if you want even more holiday stories, I just posted my annual round-up of my favourite holiday speculative fiction and holiday mysteries and crime fiction by indie and small press authors.

Finally, if you’re looking for some free science fiction and fantasy e-books, there is a giveaway going on at StoryOrigin, where you can get more than forty e-books for free, if you subscribe to the author’s newsletter (don’t worry, you can always unsubscribe). The Crime Thriller and Vigilantes giveaway also still going on at StoryOrigin.

That’s it for this year, at least with regard new releases. There will still be blog posts, of course. I’ll probably write a post about Star Wars (both The Rise of Skywalker and The Mandalorian) and I also have an announcement to make that has nothing to do with my books for once.

Next year, there’ll be more In Love and War stories, more Thurvok adventures, more Silencer stories, including one where the Silencer meets a John W. Campbell stand-in. I’m also planning to launch a new series called Raygun Romances and I hope that I’ll finally get the long delayed After the End 2 – More Stories of Life After the Apocalypse out.

But until then, have a very happy holiday season, whichever one you celebrate.

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Magic under the Mistletoe 2019 – A Round-up of the Best Indie Holiday Speculative Fiction

Magic under the Mistletoe banner

Our monthly round-ups of new speculative fiction and new crime fiction releases by indie authors are a perennially popular feature. Therefore, we now offer you a round-up of our favourite holiday science fiction, fantasy and horror by indie authors.

These holiday stories cover the broad spectrum of speculative fiction. We have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, cozy fantasy, paranormal romance, paranormal mysteries, science fiction, space opera, time travel, post-apocalyptic fiction, Steampunk, plenty of dragons, werewolves, were-reindeer, elves, Krampuses, telepathic detectives, crime-fighting witches, magical cats, holiday body swaps, orphans in danger, troubled marriages, musketeers in space, alien invasions, Christmas in space and after the apocalypse, robots, sentient starships playing Santa and much more. But one thing unites all of those very different books. They’re all set around the holidays.

As always with my round-up posts, this round-up of the best indie holiday mysteries is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

A Dark Root Christmas by April AasheimA Dark Root Christmas: Merry’s Gift by April Aasheim

When ten-year-old Merry Maddock makes a holiday wish on a shooting star, she has no idea how her life will change.
Suddenly, she’s become the parent to a strange baby owl, and the caretaker of what appears to be an enchanted tree.
But will her wish for a family Christmas be granted? Or will her mother’s desire for a year without a holiday win out?
Magick, mystery, and family take center stage in this charming witchy novella featuring the Maddock girls when they are young.
This 20k word novella is a prequel story to the popular Daughters of Dark Root series and can be read as a stand alone novel.

A Very Mercy Christmas by M.Z. AndrewsA Very Mercy Christmas: A Witch Squad Holiday Special by M.Z. Andrews:

It’s Christmas time at the Paranormal Institute for Witches. Excited to go home for the holidays and be reunited with their families, Mercy, Jax, Holly, Sweets, and Alba say their goodbyes. However, when an unpredicted snowstorm ravages Aspen Falls, the girls must scramble to figure out their next move. Tempers flare as blame is placed and feelings are hurt. By the looks of it, Christmas will surely be ruined.

But when a surprise visitor arrives, the girls are forced to find out what friendship really means and decide whether or not it’s worth saving. Visited by some blasts from the past, the girls are given glimpses into each other’s pasts and find out what life would have been like if they’d never met and formed the Witch Squad on the first day of classes.

A Very Mercy Christmas is the 5th book in the Witch Squad Cozy Mystery series – there is no mystery to solve, instead sit back and enjoy a Christmas story about what went down over the Witch Squad’s first winter break and get a glimpse into the lives of each of the girls before they met.

The Journey of Joseph Winter by John AnthonyThe Journey of Joseph Winter: A Christmas Fairy Tale by John Anthony:

A heartwarming Christmas story in the tradition of the holiday classics It’s a Wonderful Life and A Miracle on 34th Street.

Take a personal journey to discover the true magic of Christmas.

Joseph Winter is a good and gentle man, but he carries with him the pain and regret of a childhood mistake.

When a package mysteriously arrives on his doorstep, he is invited on a path to redemption.

Traveling far from his cozy little home in St. Paul, Minnesota, into the snowy landscapes of the Arctic, his touching Christmas journey takes him in search of the one man who may be able to help him find peace—Santa Claus.

An inspirational family Christmas tale in the style of the classic Christmas stories shared by families every holiday season, The Journey of Joseph Winter: A Christmas Fairy Tale is the inspiring story of a man in search of Santa Claus, his childhood, and ultimately—himself.

A Tale of Christmas Past by Katelyn A. BrownA Tale of Christmas Past by Katelyn A. Brown

A woman from the future, trapped in the past…

Avery Lawson expects to spend another holiday alone, with only memories of her parents and her abandoned faith for company. One chilly day, she reads an old journal that once belonged to a pioneer named Kathleen. Avery is captivated by the story, but she never imagined how much her own life would be turned upside down after reading it. In a strange twist of fate, she finds herself transported to a Kansas homestead in the year 1880, with no conceivable way to get home to the future.

Widower Jacob Cole is in desperate need of a housekeeper and nanny for his three young children. When the mysterious Miss Lawson shows up at his farm, his instincts tell him to trust her, despite the bizarre circumstances surrounding her arrival. She quickly becomes an important part of his world. Could she be just what his hurting family needs?

But being from the future, Avery has a dreadful secret. With Christmas fast approaching, can she stop another terrible tragedy from befalling the family? Will she ever make it home to the future? Or–with the Cole children and Jacob steadily breaking down the walls around her heart–does she even want to anymore?

Christmas on Iago Prime by Cora BuhlertChristmas on Iago Prime by Cora Buhlert

Eight-year-old Libby has come with her parents to spend a year at the newly established colony on the planet Iago Prime. Libby’s parents believe that this is a great opportunity for all of them, but Libby is unhappy on Iago Prime. There are no other children on Iago Prime and Libby can’t go anywhere, because she doesn’t even have a space suit. Worst of all, they will spend Christmas on Iago Prime, where there aren’t even any Christmas trees.

However, Libby’s parents, with a little help from Santa Claus himself, conspire to give Libby an unforgettable Christmas on Iago Prime.

This is a science fictional Christmas story of 6600 words or approx. 22 print pages.

Christmas after the End of the World by Cora BuhlertChristmas after the End of the World by Cora Buhlert

It’s Christmas… five months after the Yellowstone supervolcano erupted, blacked out the sun and covered most of the western US in ash.

Thirteen-year-old Natalie, her younger brother Liam, baby Olivia and family dog Bud are among the few still holding out in the evacuation zone.

Day to day survival is hard enough, but Natalie is determined to give Liam and Olivia an unforgettable Christmas… after the end of the world.

And who knows, maybe they’ll even get a true Christmas miracle…

This is a post-apocalyptic holiday novelette of 10000 words or approx. 35 print pages.

The Bakery on Gloomland Street by Cora BuhlertThe Bakery on Gloomland Street by Cora Buhlert:

A legendary monster threatens Christmas…

It’s Christmas time in the permanently fog-shrouded seaside town of Hallowind Cove, which is also known as the “Harbour of the Weird”.

Rachel Hammersmith is new to Hallowind Cove and has recently taken over the bakery on Gloomland Street, after Marie Percht, the previous owner, retired.

However, Marie Percht didn’t tell Rachel everything, when she retired. She didn’t mention the fog, for starters, and she also didn’t mention that her bakery plays a vital role during the Christmas season and not just as a provider of holiday cookies either.

For the Krampus, a yuletide monster from alpine folklore, is coming to Hallowind Cove. And the only thing that can keep him from wrecking the town and ruining Christmas are pastries baked according to a secret recipe. Unfortunately, Rachel has no idea what the recipe is.

However, with the help of fellow newcomer Paul MacQuarie, Rachel will bake up a storm to pacify Krampus and save Christmas.

The Tinsel-Free Christmas Tree by Cora BuhlertThe Tinsel-Free Christmas Tree: A Not Really SF Short Story by Cora Buhlert

Bertha and Alfred, married for twenty years, enjoy a truly science fictional life in the twenty-first century. But in spite of all the technological marvels surrounding them, an argument about how to decorate the Christmas tree escalates and threatens their marriage.

This parodistic piece is a mundane short story of 2900 words or approximately 12 print pages, written in the style of science fiction’s “golden age” of the 1940s and 1950s.

 

Frosted Croakies by Sam CheeverFrosted Croakies by Sam Cheever:

’Tis the season for great folly…walawalawalawalala…ribbit.

It’s Christmas time at Croakies. The tree is up. The stockings are hung. And Christmas tunes are turning the atmosphere jolly. After a tumultuous Samhain, I’ve found my chi again and I’m starting to enjoy the season of love and giving.

Yeah. You probably know how this is going to end.

When Sebille suggests I open the bookstore up to a small holiday party, I foolishly agree. How was I supposed to know that the hobgoblin would decide it would be fun to hide everybody’s stuff? Or that we’d be hit with a freak winter storm that confined everybody inside for the duration. Or that a “You’re me but who am I?” spell would be released inside the shop, switching everybody’s identities and creating general chaos and hysteria?

I could probably deal with all that if it weren’t for the fact that my friend, Lea…the one person who could possibly reverse the spell…was ensconced in SB the parrot, with no opposable thumbs for spelling.

And me? Of course, I’m sitting fat and squishy inside Mr. Slimy. Thank goodness Rustin isn’t currently in residence, or it would be really crowded in here.

Who spelled my party? What do a pair of Santa’s elves have to do with it? And why have old enemies suddenly become new friends? I apparently have a little holiday mystery to solve inside Croakies, and I have no idea how I’m going to solve it with everybody mixed up and some of us human.

Have I told you I hate this season?

Ribbit!

Merry Chris Witch by C.K. DawnMerry Chris Witch by C.K. Dawn:

Magic is real and dreams do come true. Be careful what you WITCH for.

Chris Heron is a witch who loathes the holiday season. What’s even worse is getting expelled from private coven school on Halloween and having to attend public magic school, where Santa’s son is visiting and has all the girls in a frenzy. Fairies, mermaids, elves, even the trolls are swooning over Kris Kringle Jr. All except for one girl, and she’s a North Pole mystery that has Chris intrigued. Will he be able to put his prejudices aside in time to see the true magic all around him?

I Wtich You a Merry Christmas by Snow EdenI Witch You a Merry Christmas by Snow Eden:

A heart-warming story about Christmas, elves, Santa Claus…and a really mad witch.

There are many things Cinnamon Mercy Claus is struggling with this holiday season: the memories of long forgotten holidays when the Christmas season was about family; that she’s just found out her grandfather is Santa Claus; and that her grandmother is a witch—who is bent on destroying Christmas for them all.

This is a 30,000-word novella with a dose of Hallmark warmth and crazy witch mayhem!

It is a ‘clean’ read with no cursing. Situations should be appropriate for all ages.

Crimson Yuletide by Rachel FordCrimson Yuletide by Rachel Ford:

Autumn gone off to sleep
And winter her secrets no more keep
Rises he from the deep
Flesh to flay and flesh to eat

Twelve days of Christmas. Twelve days of terror and death.

An ancient evil prowls the quiet streets of Wixcombe. An old man is murdered in the town square. Children disappear in the night. Villagers report sightings of Krampus, the Christmas demon.

For siblings Nan and William Fitzgerald, the season began with a promise of new loves and Christmas magic. But they find themselves in the eye of the storm when their godfather becomes the prime suspect in the killings.

To protect both the women they love and their village, the siblings must discover Krampus’ true identity. But they might not like the answers they find…

Carrie Hatchett's Christmas by J.J. GreenCarrie Hatchett’s Christmas by J.J. Green:

It’s Christmas! The alien invasion has begun.

Carrie Hatchett’s hoping for a quiet Christmas. She’s got five times as much food as she needs, and she’s made a catnip surprise and a dogfood cake for her pets.

But there’s no rest for Carrie.

An ancient race seems intent on invading Earth. As a Transgalactic Intercultural Community Crisis Liaison Officer, Carrie’s duty-bound to respond to the threat.

The aliens have been spotted at Santa’s Grotto and in a pantomime. Will Carrie find them in time and send them packing before they ruin everyone’s Christmas?

Carrie Hatchett’s Christmas is a standalone novelette in the comedy sci-fi romp Carrie Hatchett, Space Adventurer.

Follow Carrie on her adventures today.

Bringing Christmas to the Dragons by Rinelle GreyBringing Christmas to the Dragons by Rinelle Grey:

She may not be a dragon, but it was her humanity they needed right now.

With time running out before his clan’s prince is discovered by mining or killed by enemy dragons, dragon shifter Jayrian needs to convince the elders to accept help from the humans. He hopes that the clever librarian, Gretchen, might be able to help him with that. He didn’t count on falling for her—that wasn’t part of his plan at all.

Gretchen longs for adventure outside of the books she reads in her job as a small town librarian. But not the kind that involves her moving to the big city to take the promotion her Aunt Mary offers. The cute guy who’s been hanging around the library seems far more exciting—there’s just something about him that draws her—so on impulse, she invites him to her family’s Christmas celebration. When a dragon lands on the front of her car on the way there, she wonders if she’s gotten more than she bargained for.

Together they must find a way to save his prince and clan, without sacrificing who they are, or their budding relationship.

Angels and Amulets by Nicole GrotepasAngels and Amulets by Nicole Grotepas:

If there’s a way to spoil something, the villains of the 6 Moons will find it.

There’s no rest for the weary. Just when Holly Drake takes a break from searching for more information about her father, a Christmas-related heirloom vanishes. Sure, it’s Christmas on the 6-Moons, but Holly can’t relax. Neither can her team.

Fate forces them to give up their cozy fires, mulled drinks, and holiday feasts to race across the harsh volcanic terrain of the planet Kota to win back the prize before it’s destroyed. If they can’t save the heirloom, the already strained diplomatic relations between humans and the Centau will snap.
If they don’t save Christmas, who will?

Angels and Amulets is a Christmas novella set in the 6 Moons universe.

Meet Douglas Fir by Kyndra HatchMeet Douglas Fir by Kyndra Hatch:

People put objects on trees? As a holiday tradition? The singing tree creature is a threat that needs to be eradicated.

Being human isn’t easy with robotic alien residents misunderstanding the simple stuff. Alex can’t imagine his family life without Bazin and Miaxa, though. Time to show them Christmas holiday traditions, preferably without space aliens blowing things up.

 

 

How Aunt Tillie Stole Christmas by Amanda M. LeeHow Aunt Tillie Stole Christmas by Amanda M. Lee:

Fourteen years ago, Christmas hit Walkerville with a bang. Or, rather, a big ball of fire.
When a local group home for orphaned children goes up in smoke right before the holidays, Tillie Winchester volunteers her family to take in some kids – even though her arch nemesis Margaret Little is dead-set against it. Of course, that’s part of the appeal for Tillie so she’s considering it a win.

Three boys – all of them with a little attitude – have no idea what to expect from the Winchester household. No matter what, Tillie is sure they’re about to get more than they bargained for. In short order, they’re welcomed into the family at the same time the town is on edge due to a second fire.

Tillie is determined to prove the boys are innocent while also finding them a forever home … even if she has to take on a local judge and declare all out war to do it.

So, hang your stockings by the fire and sit back for another Christmas with the Winchesters. You’ll never be the same again.

Note: This is a 28,000-word novella set in the Wicked Witches of the Midwest world. It’s set back in the past so it can be read in any order.

Fur-miliar Felines by Harper LinFur-miliar Felines by Harper Lin:

Three witches and their magical cats solve paranormal murder cases in the mystical town of Wonder Falls.

It’s Christmastime, but something strange and sinister is in the air. Treacle, Cath’s courageous black cat, can’t see what it is, but he feels a dangerous presence out there in the snow-blanketed streets.

Aunt Astrid also feels dark ripples in the dimensions. The Greenstone witches suspect this creature is somehow tied to the disappearance of two high school students. Soon, one of them turns up dead, half-eaten.

The holiday spirit is in full effect in Wonder Falls, but so is a puzzling and gruesome murder mystery.

A Mind Reader's Christmas by Al MacyA Mind Reader’s Christmas by Al Macy:

Eric Beckman, a mind-reading private investigator, is spending Christmas in snowy Vermont with his wife and daughter. He needs a break from solving cases, but the townspeople convince him to look into the village mystery: Every holiday season, someone switches the baby Jesus with one of the other figures in the town’s Nativity scene.

With the help of his ten-year-old daughter, also a mind reader, he soon learns that some of the residents of the small town are not who–or even what–they seem to be. There’s something supernatural going on in Newburn, Vermont.

His investigation causes an escalation of strange happenings, and soon, swapped manger figures are the least of the town’s worries. If Beckman can’t adjust his view of the world–force himself to believe in things he never thought possible–the Christmas vacation could turn out to be his family’s last.

A Mind Reader’s Christmas may be read as a standalone book or as Book Four in the Eric Beckman series.

The Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona MarpleThe Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona Marple:

What if Father Christmas is on the naughty list?

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Mystic Springs, but all is not still or calm with the department store Santa.

The amateur dramatics club is full of big egos and legends-in-their-own-heads, so their spats aren’t unusual. But when the theatre owner is shot dead during the Christmas play, it’s Santa who pulls the trigger.

With the arrival of an unwelcome ex, a petition to end Discrimination Against Spirits, and a second attack by St Nick, the chances of a quiet Christmas seem to be quickly disappearing.

Has Santa really gone bad? Or is there more to it?

Town medium Connie and her dead sister Sage are both avoiding their own festive conundrums. A mistletoe murder is just the distraction they need.

In Time for Christmas by Monique MartinIn Time for Christmas by Monique Martin:

At a time when interest in the Christmas holiday was waning, Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol and inspired the world.

But now, history is changing, and the book is never written. When the Council for Temporal Studies asks time travelers Simon and Elizabeth Cross to “save Christmas,” they think he’s joking.

But it’s anything but a laughing matter. Simon and Elizabeth must go back to 1843 London and convince Dickens to write his endearing story, or the Christmas holiday we all know and love will cease to be–forever.

Christmas in New York by Monique MartinChristmas in New York by Monique Martin:

Time-Traveling adventurers Simon and Elizabeth Cross return in an all-new Christmas novella!

Along with their young daughter, Charlotte, the Crosses travel back to 1937 New York City to visit an old friend, Charlie Blue. But Charlie’s in trouble — holiday-sized trouble — and their plans for a pleasant little Christmas vacation soon fly out the window.

Christmas in New York is the fast-paced and heartwarming tale of the true meaning of Christmas — and the importance of the people we share it with.

Christmas in Silver Birch Valley by Lorri MoultonChristmas in Silver Birch Valley by Lorri Moulton:

A small town has held on to their traditions and celebrates Christmas as if it were 100 years ago…which reporter Jake Logan finds surprisingly charming, but wonders if it’s too good to be true.

Jake has traveled the world but never really felt at home, until he spends time in a town that has its own unique way of celebrating the holidays. The longer he stays, the more he comes to like the town, the people, and one charming B&B owner in particular.

Lorna Sullivan has never met anyone like Jake, but she knows tourists don’t stay once the holidays are over. The more time she spends with Jake, the easier it is to wonder if this could be different…but there are secrets in every town and this one could destroy their chance at happiness.

Not His Christmas by Annie NicholasNot His Christmas by Annie Nicholas:

It’s Eoin and Angie’s first Christmas together and he wants to make it special. But his dragoness is lacking holiday spirit and doesn’t want anything to do with celebrating. Does Angie think Eoin is the type of dragon who could ignore her unhappiness? Clipping on his jingle bells and grabbing the mistletoe, Eoin is on a mission.

 

 

 

Snowed in with the Alien Dragon by Sonia NovaSnowed in with the Alien Dragon by Sonia Nova

A Christmas without warmth…
Rachel hates her life in Alaska. She hates the weather, but even more, she hates her job which requires her to stay in the sodden state even for the holidays! Instead of going to visit her family in sunny California, she will be spending the holidays alone in the cold north. But when she encounters an unconscious, golden alien on the way home from work – amidst a massive snowstorm to top it all off – it looks like the holidays might not end up as boring as she’d thought after all!

A dragon paralyzed by cold…
Captain Erro of Traag never thought to go down in a battle. Even less did he think to find his mate on the surface of the planet he crashes on! Trapped in the planet’s frozen wasteland, Erro can hardly function in the cold climate. He’s a dragon, for heaven’s sake! He needs some heat! And yet, despite the icy weather seeping into his bones, every time the strangely beautiful alien female smiles at him, his inner flame burns stronger than ever. She is his mate, there is no question about that.

Now, if only he could understand what the hell she was saying…

Snowed in with the Alien Dragon is a standalone sci-fi romance novella with a scorching hot dragon, a HEA and no cliffhangers. Intended for mature audiences only.

When Birdie Babysat Spider by Kristen PainterWhen Birdie Babysat Spider: A Jayne Frost Short Story by Kristen Painter:

Welcome to Nocturne Falls, the town that celebrates Halloween 365 days a year.

Jayne Frost is a lot of things. Winter elf, Jack Frost’s daughter, Santa Claus’s niece, heir to the Winter Throne and now…private investigator. Sort of.

But none of that matters at the moment, because Jayne is headed back to the North Pole to visit her family, and leaving everyone’s favorite werewolf, Birdie Caruthers, to watch her cat, Spider.

With the heartfelt promise that all will be well, Birdie follows Jayne’s instructions to the letter. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop Spider from getting into trouble.

It takes the help of a gentlemen friend (and a few others), for Birdie to make things right again. But not before her love life takes a very interesting turn…

The Krampus Hunters by J.P. ReedmanThe Krampus Hunters by J.P. Reedman:

Krampus, haunter of the dark winter’s nights before Yule, comes bearing a switch to beat ‘bad children’…

Young Snoefrith, daughter of the Erl-King, leaves her homeland on a quest to find her lost mother…and a life. As she travels in wild, unfamiliar lands, she is accosted by Old Nickor, a red-robed goblin who flies the wintry skies in a sleigh pulled by coal-black deer, and his bestial companion, Krampus. Nickor sets Krampus upon Snowfrith, seeking to capture her to sell to the Kobold King who dwells under the mountains.
Rescued by Red Roo, a feisty girl who is the best archer in the Wandron tribe, Snoefrith believes she is now safe.
But Krampus is determined to capture his prey and please his master, Nickor. Under cover of darkness, he destroys the Wandron’s caravans and sends Snoefrith and Red Roo fleeing into the forest and beyond.
Soon they learn that they cannot flee forever.
The hunted must become the hunters….

KRAMPUS HUNTERS

A short fantasy novelette for all ages, 15,000 words.

Joyeux by Tansy Rayner RobertsJoyeux: A Musketeer Space Novella by Tansy Rayner Roberts

There’s mistletoe growing out of the walls, it’s snowing inside the space station, and a sex scandal is brewing that could bring down the monarchy. Must be Joyeux!

Joyeux on Paris Satellite is a seven day festival of drunken bets, poor decision-making, religious contemplation and tinsel. But mostly, poor decision-making. Athos and Porthos aren’t going to sleep together. Aramis is breaking up with her girlfriend because it’s that or marry her. Athos is not ready to deal with the ghost of his ex-husband. Oh, and no one wants Prince Alek to break his marriage contract by hooking up with a sexy Ambassador…

It’s down to the Musketeers and the Red Guard to save the space station and the solar system from disaster. So… that’s not going to end well.

This novella is a festive prequel to Musketeer Space, a genderflipped space opera retelling of The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas.

Created for Christmas by Joynell SchultzCreated for Christmas by Joynell Schultz:

Need the perfect man? No problem—simply create him!

Ivy wanted nothing more for Christmas than to have someone to come home to…to have a companion to chat about her day with, and someone to show off at her family holiday celebrations.

This Christmas, she’s not going to be alone! Ivy decides to create her perfect companion at Dream Droids, the premier robotics company specializing in sentient humanoids. Ivy spends weeks with Dr. Pierce, creating her dream man, from his appearance, personality, and even his knowledge of her life.

There’s just a few problems: when a special gift she purchased for her father goes missing, and Dr. Pierce agrees to help her find it, she finds herself falling for him. After getting her heart stomped on by her ex-fiancé, there’s no way she can open it up again…besides, she just created the perfect man.

Jingle Stars by Jenny SchwartzJingle Starr by Jenny Schwartz:

When a starship decides to play Santa Claus…

Ahab is a mLa’an artificial intelligence embedded in the starship, Orion.

The campaign for AIs to be recognized as full citizens of Galaxy Proper is within reach of its extraordinary goal. The only thing that could stop it now is if an AI did something foolish…like take a space station hostage to save eight orphaned children.

***
And this is the letter to Santa that starts it all:

Dear Santa

I don’t know if yourreindeers work in space. But if you have room in your sleigh after you finishdelivering presents to the lucky kids with parents and homes, can you come and getme and my friends? Please?

We’ve been good. Well,we haven’t been really bad. We’re on Station Elphame, in the junkyard, and Zoeis sick. She’s bad sick. I think she’d be better on a planet. We don’t needpresents. We just need a way out of here. Ollie tried to sneak onto atrampship…he died.

Please, Santa, I don’twant any more of my friends to die.

Aiden.

Elves and Deer by Hollis ShilohElves and Deer by Hollis Shiloh:

Greer is a reindeer shifter working at a magical shipping hub up North. He has little use for or understanding of elves—such delicate, short-lived creatures—but he tries to do his best by the ones in his life. And it seems like more and more are coming into his life, confusing and frustrating him, needing help, needing rescued.

Since Greer is always busy, it’s easy to overlook the things he doesn’t want to acknowledge—until a terrible danger gives him unwanted time to think…and to realize there’s just one elf who means more to him than he’s ever wanted to admit.

A Christmas tale
38,000 words
Heat level: very low

All I Want For Christmas is Wicked by Lotta SmithAll I Want for Christmas is Wicked by Lotta Smith:

Trees decorated, stockings full of presents, and another case to crack!

The Rowling family is gearing up for another Merry Christmas, and Mandy has her hands full with holiday prep, but how can she get into the spirit of the season when the victim in her latest case isn’t a ghost?

Twenty years ago, during a Christmas Eve blackout, Kevin Holt, the husband of a rich heiress, lost his memory in a fall down the stairs of their mansion. Now he’s discovered evidence that someone might have been trying to kill him, and all he wants for Christmas is to find out who. Since the resident ghost of the Holt house didn’t witness the attack, Rick and Mandy will have to rely on old fashioned sleuthing (and a little help from Mandy’s paranormal pal Jackie) to find out which of the four suspects is the culprit.

Meanwhile Rick has been saddled with novice investigator Cameron Gibson (call him Ace!) the son of one of USCAB’s wealthiest clients. Ace is trying to catch the creep stalking a New York City fashion model, but despite wanting Mandy to mentor him, one ghostly encounter has him seriously spooked.

A run in with a biker ghost and dancers in danger complicate the case, but the big question on Mandy’s mind is why does little Sophie want a bear trap for Christmas? Find out in this wickedly merry holiday installment of the Paranormal in Manhattan Mystery Series.

Blood and Mistletoe by E.J. StevensBlood and Mistletoe by E.J. Stevens:

Holidays are worse than a full moon for making people crazy. In Harborsmouth, where many of the residents are undead vampires or monstrous fae, the combination may prove deadly.

Ivy Granger, psychic private investigator, returns to the streets of Harborsmouth in this addition to the bestselling urban fantasy series.

Holidays are Hell, a point driven home when a certain demon attorney returns with information regarding a series of bloody murders. Five Harborsmouth residents have been killed and every victim has one thing in common–they are fae. Whoever is killing faeries must be stopped, but they only leave one clue behind–a piece of mistletoe floating in a pool of the victim’s blood.

The holidays just got interesting. Too bad this case may drive Ivy mad before the New Year. Heck, she’ll be lucky to survive Christmas.

Cloaked in Christmas by T.F. WalshCloaked in Christmas by T.F. Walsh:

After fleeing her abusive ex, wulfkin Cacey Varg and her daughter settle happily with a new pack in Finland. As Christmas approaches, Cacey learns her ex has found them and is on his way to take their daughter back. But a massive snowstorm prevents her from packing up and leaving town – and instead delivers a sexy stranger to her doorstep. Can she trust that he isn’t one of her ex’s henchmen?

Second-in-command to Europe’s most powerful wulfkin, hunter Vincent Lyall’s spur-of-the-moment decision to check on his ailing mother soon finds him marooned at a cabin in the woods by the blizzard of the century. Trapped with this spirited vixen, resisting temptation is easier said than done . . . But she refuses to believe he is who he says he is.

Is love powerful enough to win when two sexy wolf shifters, an unwelcome past, and animalistic urges wreak havoc on the holiday season?
Sensuality Level: Sensual

A Most Apocalyptic Christmas by Phil WilliamsA Most Apocalyptic Christmas by Phil Williams:

On the night before Christmas, mercenary Scullion’s ride home is ambushed halfway between the last surviving cities in America. Concerned only with getting drunk for the holiday, his attempts to abandon his fellow passengers to bandits lead him on a collision course with a barbaric community who have utterly distorted the seasonal spirit. This is one madcap night he cannot survive alone, challenging his perceptions of the meaning of Christmas.

A Most Apocalyptic Christmas is a near-future dystopian novella, set in a war-ravaged land where chaotic city states are all that are left of once powerful countries. Born fighters like the thug Scullion are the predominant survivors in this desolate world devoid of resources, comforts and hope.

This is a Faergrowe Free State novella, set in the same world of the screenplay The Faergrowe Principle.

Elixirs and Elves by Astoria WrightElixirs and Elves by Astoria Wright:

The elves of Mount Vale are throwing a Christmas Party, and they’ve invited everyone! While the human residents of Moss Hill are excited to attend, many of the sidhe find the invitation beneath them. It’s no secret that they dislike mingling with non-faeries, but are they so hostile toward humans that one of them would commit murder? Carissa has never gotten along with the sidhe guard, but Varick of Vale has helped her on occasion. So, when he asks for her help after suspicion falls on him, it’s up to her to prove his innocence – if, that is, he isn’t guilty after all.

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Murder under the Mistletoe 2019 – A Round-up of the Best Indie Holiday Mysteries and Crime Fiction

Murder under the Mistletoe banner

Our monthly round-ups of new speculative fiction and new crime fiction releases by indie authors are a perennially popular feature. Therefore, we now offer you a round-up of our favourite holiday mysteries by indie authors.

The holiday mysteries cover the broad spectrum of crime fiction. We have plenty of cozy mysteries, small town mysteries, culinary mysteries, animal mysteries, paranormal mysteries, historical mysteries, Victorian mysteries, jazz age mysteries, WWII mysteries, romantic suspense, police procedurals, crime thrillers, pulp thrillers, men’s adventure, private eyes, masked crime fighters, telepathic detectives, thieving Santas, crime-fighting witches, crime-fighting bakers, crime-fighting watchmakers, crime-fighting wedding planners, crime-fighting dogs, crime-fighting frogs, magical cats, holiday body swaps, murder in circusses and aboard cruise ships, in ski resorts and cupcake shops, in small towns and the big city, missing children, missing presents, orphans in danger and much more. But one thing unites all of those very different books. They’re all set around the holidays.

As always with my round-up posts, this round-up of the best indie holiday mysteries is also crossposted to the Indie Crime Scene, a group blog which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things crime fiction several times per week.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

A Very Mercy Christmas by M.Z. AndrewsA Very Mercy Christmas: A Witch Squad Holiday Special by M.Z. Andrews:

It’s Christmas time at the Paranormal Institute for Witches. Excited to go home for the holidays and be reunited with their families, Mercy, Jax, Holly, Sweets, and Alba say their goodbyes. However, when an unpredicted snowstorm ravages Aspen Falls, the girls must scramble to figure out their next move. Tempers flare as blame is placed and feelings are hurt. By the looks of it, Christmas will surely be ruined.

But when a surprise visitor arrives, the girls are forced to find out what friendship really means and decide whether or not it’s worth saving. Visited by some blasts from the past, the girls are given glimpses into each other’s pasts and find out what life would have been like if they’d never met and formed the Witch Squad on the first day of classes.

A Very Mercy Christmas is the 5th book in the Witch Squad Cozy Mystery series – there is no mystery to solve, instead sit back and enjoy a Christmas story about what went down over the Witch Squad’s first winter break and get a glimpse into the lives of each of the girls before they met.

The Season for Slaying by Hillary AvisThe Season for Slaying by Hillary Avis:

All is quiet at the Pines and Needles Christmas Tree Farm. Too quiet.

It’s Christmas Eve, and Darla Cooper is merrily preparing for a family holiday when she witnesses a shocking murder in the woods.

Luckily, her son is a police detective. The problem? He doesn’t believe her—and the body is missing.

Darla must prove that a murder occurred, but she has no body, no witnesses, and no evidence except her own memory—which, to be honest, isn’t that great these days. Plus, she didn’t have her glasses on.

Join Darla as she hunts down a killer…just in time for Christmas.

The Season for Slaying is a short holiday cozy mystery story full of suspense, snowflakes, and sleighbells.

Fatal Festive Donuts by Cindy BellFatal Festive Donuts by Cindy Bell:

Christmastime at the holiday market means mistletoe, colorful lights and…a dead body.

It is almost Christmas and Joyce and Brenda are excited to get a coveted spot at the local holiday market. Business is thriving and they are looking forward to celebrating the holidays.

But Christmas becomes the last thing on their minds when a dead body is found on ‘Donuts on the Move’. Not only is their truck shut down, but they become the prime suspects. With the evidence stacking up against them and a detective who thinks they’re guilty, they decide to take things into their own hands and find the murderer.

Joyce and Brenda’s investigations lead them straight towards danger. Will they find the killer before they land up in handcuffs or even become victims themselves?

Recipe Included: Baked Gingerbread Donuts with Ginger Glaze

A Merry Murder at St. Bernard Cabins by Cindy BellA Merry Murder at St. Bernard Cabins by Cindy Bell:

A pet-loving sleuth. A perplexing murder. Will the murder be solved before the clues are buried forever?

Nikki Green is taking a break from walking and pet-sitting her loyal companions. She is going to a ski resort for the holidays for some quiet time with her family. To her delight her solo journey turns into a group excursion. However, the trip doesn’t go according to plan when Nikki lands up in the middle of a snowstorm.

Then things go from bad to worse when someone is murdered, and her brother is the prime suspect. With the roads impassable, and two inexperienced officers on the case, Nikki decides to take matters into her own hands and clear her brother’s name. She plows through a mountain of clues to reveal the truth before the snow melts and the murderer disappears forever.

It’s a slippery slope of suspects and danger as she goes hurtling towards the truth.

A Bullet for Father Christmas by Cora BuhlertA Bullet for Father Christmas by Cora Buhlert:

When two men dressed up as Father Christmas rob a London jewellery store and one of them ends up dead on the floor, shot by his own accomplice, it’s certainly one of the more unusual cases for Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd and her team. But as Helen begins to investigate, it turns out that the case is even more bizarre than she suspected.

This is a mystery novelette of 9300 words or approx. 30 print pages.

 

Santa's Sticky Fingers by Cora BuhlertSanta’s Sticky Fingers by Cora Buhlert:

Normally, Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd doesn’t deal with petty crime and pickpockets. But when the Christmas market in Kingston upon Thames is hit by a wave of thefts, Helen and her team are called in to help out.

Harry, a homeless man who always hangs around the market, seems to be the most obvious suspect. But there is also the mysterious man in the black leather jacket some witnesses claim to have seen. Or maybe, the thief can be found much closer to home…

Can Helen and her team crack the case in time for Christmas?

This is a holiday novelette of 7800 words or approx. 26 print pages in the Helen Shepherd Mysteries series, but may be read as a standalone.

St. Nicholas of Hell's KitchenSt. Nicholas of Hell’s Kitchen by Cora Buhlert:

Christmas time in 1930s New York. After escaping through the chimney of an orphanage in Hell’s Kitchen, Richard Blakemore a.k.a. the masked crimefighter known only as the Silencer is mistaken for Santa Claus by one of the children and learns that the orphanage is under siege by both a gang of brutal racketeers and an unscrupulous landlord.

Richard vows to help the children and their guardians. However, it turns out that the attacks on the orphanage are only part of a much larger plot, when Richard’s quest for justice leads him into the upper echelons of Manhattan’s high society.

Soon, the Silencer finds himself face to face with one of the most powerful men in the city, while Richard and Constance struggle to save the orphanage and give the children of Hell’s Kitchen an unforgettable Christmas.

This is a novella of 30000 words or approximately 100 pages in the Silencer series, but may be read as a standalone.

A Jolly Little Murder by Beth ByersA Jolly Little Murder by Beth Byers:

December 1925

Violet Wakefield is determined to dive into the holiday and enjoy every occasion. She’s going to see the live nativity, listen to Handel’s Messiah, and attend the Nutcracker ballet. She’ll cover her house in all the holly and lights. In fact, Vi wants nothing more than to put up the largest Christmas tree she can locate and stuff it with gifts. ??She little expects, however, to stumble across a crime in action. When she gets pulled into the madness, her biggest concern isn’t the crime, it’s keeping Jack from committing a holiday homicide.

Merry Masquerade in Savannah by Hope CallaghanMerry Masquerade in Savannah by Hope Callaghan

Carlita, Mercedes, and Tony are gearing up to celebrate their first Thanksgiving at their new home in historic Savannah, Georgia. Along with the excitement of the upcoming holiday season, there’s a lingering sadness because part of their family won’t be there to celebrate.

When Carlita’s friend, Victoria “Tori” Montgomery, invites the Garlucci family to her “Merry Masquerade” party at Montgomery Hall, Carlita is thrilled to have something to take her mind off the approaching holiday.

Despite a recent theft and an assault on her butler, Tori moves forward with her party plans, a grand affair and a gathering of Savannah’s elite. The Merry Masquerade turns out to be everything it was billed to be and more, when one of Tori’s employees is found murdered inside the pool house.

Is the murder linked to the recent break-in and the butler’s attack at Montgomery Hall? Could the killer be living under Tori’s roof? Or was it a masked party guest trying to make it look like an inside job?

Join the Garlucci women as they help one of Savannah’s most prominent residents track down a killer!

Reindeer and Robberies by Hope CallaghanReindeers and Robberies by Hope Callaghan:

The Christmas Season is in full swing on board the cruise ship, Siren of the Seas thanks to Andy Walker, the ship’s cruise director who is all in on his new holiday theme, “The Reindeer Games.”

Millie and her co-worker, Danielle, are tasked with taking charge of the holiday theme and everything is running smoothly until one of the reindeer comes up missing. But the missing reindeer is the least of the security staff’s worries after a string of thefts are reported.

Millie jumps in with an investigation of her own that soon turns south when a stalker surfaces, determined to make her life miserable or worse yet.

Despite escalating incidents from the deranged stalker, Millie sorts the clues and discovers a possible link between the mysterious thefts and her stalker that hits close to home.

Can Millie survive the holiday season…or even more terrifying…make it out alive?

Frosted Croakies by Sam CheeverFrosted Croakies by Sam Cheever:

’Tis the season for great folly…walawalawalawalala…ribbit.

It’s Christmas time at Croakies. The tree is up. The stockings are hung. And Christmas tunes are turning the atmosphere jolly. After a tumultuous Samhain, I’ve found my chi again and I’m starting to enjoy the season of love and giving.

Yeah. You probably know how this is going to end.

When Sebille suggests I open the bookstore up to a small holiday party, I foolishly agree. How was I supposed to know that the hobgoblin would decide it would be fun to hide everybody’s stuff? Or that we’d be hit with a freak winter storm that confined everybody inside for the duration. Or that a “You’re me but who am I?” spell would be released inside the shop, switching everybody’s identities and creating general chaos and hysteria?

I could probably deal with all that if it weren’t for the fact that my friend, Lea…the one person who could possibly reverse the spell…was ensconced in SB the parrot, with no opposable thumbs for spelling.

And me? Of course, I’m sitting fat and squishy inside Mr. Slimy. Thank goodness Rustin isn’t currently in residence, or it would be really crowded in here.

Who spelled my party? What do a pair of Santa’s elves have to do with it? And why have old enemies suddenly become new friends? I apparently have a little holiday mystery to solve inside Croakies, and I have no idea how I’m going to solve it with everybody mixed up and some of us human.

Have I told you I hate this season?

Ribbit!

Never Mess with Mistletoe by Edie ClaireNever Mess with Mistletoe by Edie Claire:

Frances Koslow was ecstatic to have her humble abode chosen as stop #3 on the Holiday House Tour. Then everyone drank the cider.

When Leigh’s parents’ house becomes a last-minute substitution on the regional garden club’s famous Holiday House Tour, Frances Koslow is thrilled. But the tour is tomorrow, there’s work to be done, and Frances’s dwindling and aging “Floribunda” chapter is in dire need of reinforcements. Worried about her mother’s blood pressure, particularly as sisterly tensions rise over Leigh’s Aunt Lydie’s upcoming Christmas Eve wedding, Leigh steps in to make sure the tour runs smoothly.

But perhaps Leigh isn’t the ideal choice for the task. Not when a fortune cookie has just portended the return of her infamous “bad karma.” Not when everyone knows the real reason the Floribundas have declined is because every remaining member is a whackadoodle. And not when someone’s idea of Christmas spirit is to add a little something extra to the sweet cider punch.

One dead Floribunda later, Leigh struggles to keep her family calm in the midst of swirling suspicions, flying accusations, and dubious warnings of biological warfare. But when someone threatens to silence her own all-too-curious daughter, mother-rage kicks in. Nobody is ruining Leigh’s family’s Merry Christmas. Not even her family.

The Christmas Key by Philippa Nefri ClarkThe Christmas Key by Philippa Nefri Clark

A hot summer Christmas Day is just around the corner in the Australian seaside town of River’s End. Beachside BBQs and sumptuous dinners are on the menu.

But Martha Blake is like a dog with a bone, determined to solve the last of the cottage mysteries. She and great-niece Christie begin a secret investigation.

Meanwhile, Thomas is busy with his own clues and enlists the help of his reluctant grandson, Martin.

At Palmerston House, loving new couple Elizabeth and Angus face their greatest obstacle, throwing their happy future into doubt.

With everyone working at cross-purposes, who will find themselves in the middle, cast decades back into memories of a terrible mistake?

Is love enough this time, as the beloved residents of River’s End deal with the fallout of the old mystery? Who, or what, will bring them all together in time for Christmas?

The Christmas Key is a heartwarming novella rounding off the Christie Ryan Romantic Mystery series with the last of the secrets revealed, and delightful Christmas magic to touch the favourite residents of River’s End. Read as a standalone, or start the series with The Stationmaster’s Cottage.

Merry Buried Christmas by Lyndsey ColeMerry Buried Christmas by Lyndsey Cole:

Murder always ruins the best baked plans . . .

Annie Hunter has a lot on her plate just before Christmas, but it’s not all sugar and spice and everything nice! With an open house at her aunt’s new Blackbird Bed and Breakfast, all Annie hopes for is a drama-free day.

Of course, events never go as planned.

On top of preparing a whirlwind of food, holiday decorating, and keeping to a tight schedule, a surprise visitor is also on the menu. When that visitor turns up dead, Annie must search for the killer to keep everything from crumbling like a stale Christmas cookie.

Annie’s plan to flush out the murderer includes one tasty bribe, a pinch of needling, and a heaping tablespoon of accusation. When she is threatened, it’s time to put it all on the back burner.

But the killer has other ideas.

While the snowflakes fly, Annie finds herself caught between a cookie and a crazy person. This time, it looks like she bit off more than she can chew.

***Merry Buried Christmas is volume 12 in the Black Cat Cafe Cozy Mystery Series. Lyndsey’s books can be read and enjoyed in any order.

The Cop Who Stole Christmas by Christie CraigThe Cop Who Stole Christmas by Christie Craig:

It’ll take a tall, hot Texan and a little holiday spirit to mend a broken heart and catch a Christmas killer . . .

Savanna Edwards is feeling downright Scrooge-like. Who can blame her? A truly unjolly Santa—suit, beard and all—just repossessed her car because of her ex’s shady business dealings. She’d like to murder the no-good lying cheat, but somebody already did that for her—and left him right in the middle of her kitchen, wrapped up with a bow.

Detective Mark Donaldson has a rule against getting involved with his neighbors. He can look—and he’s studied every sweet curve of Savanna from across the street—but he can’t touch. So when she lands on his doorstep in need of help, he finds himself torn between being naughty or nice, and fights every urge to unwrap her like a shiny new Christmas present.

Trouble is, even Mark can’t resist a little holiday magic . . . and there’s definitely something magical happening between him and the girl next door.

Jingle Bells and Deadly Smells by Amber CreweJingle Bells and Deadly Smells by Amber Crewe:

“Each of the Sandy Bay mysteries are great! I think they just keep getting better.”

Christmas is that season…that season of pleasant surprises…delicious smells…and family and friends to share the holidays with.

This Christmas, Sandy Bay’s lovable bakery owner, Meghan Truman, gets a whole lot more than she bargained for…plus a dead body at the door of her favorite restaurant. Some people would rather sweep this murder under the carpet but something smells awfully fishy about the events surrounding it.

Will Meghan join Detective Irvin to find the murderer or will this event serve to etch unpleasant memories of this most wonderful time of the year?

Twelve Days by Mark DawsonTwelve Days by Mark Dawson:

John Milton hasn’t seen Elijah Warriner for three years. The last time they met, Milton’s efforts to keep the boy safe didn’t go exactly to plan. Now Elijah is a promising boxer, preparing for the bout that will take him to the big time. Milton decides that he will spend the week before Christmas in London so that he can watch the fight.

But Elijah’s burgeoning fame has brought him to the attention of old acquaintances with long memories and grudges to bear. They have noticed Elijah, too, and decide that now is the time to settle old scores.

Can Milton keep the young man and his mother safe, or will Elijah’s old running mates get to him first?

Swamp Santa by Jana DeLeonSwamp Santa by Jana DeLeon:

It’s Christmas in Sinful and Fortune is set to participate in all the local hoopla. A Christmas gala, caroling, and a sleigh ride are on the agenda. Murder is not. But when someone bumps off Santa, Fortune is aware a killer is lurking among the holiday cheer. But with no client and no reason to interfere with a police investigation, it looks as if Fortune, Ida Belle, and Gertie will have to sit this one out.Big and Little Hebert might be criminals, but they prefer no competition in their territory, especially someone brazen enough to kill a man at the Christmas gala. When they hire Fortune to investigate the man’s death, she gets her Christmas wish and Swamp Team 3 sets out to solve their final case of the year.

Trepalli's Christmas by Marcelle DubéTrepalli’s Christmas by Marcelle Dubé:

It’s Christmas eve day and Constable Marco Trepalli of the Mendenhall Police Department can’t wait to be off shift. He’s planning a big surprise for his girlfriend, Amanda. Something special. Something romantic.

Then a kid doesn’t return home after sledding and Trepalli forgets all about his plans in the mad scramble to mobilize search parties and interview the kid’s friends. And as hour after hour slips by with no sign of the boy, Trepalli braces himself for what could turn into the worst Christmas ever… for him and the kid’s family.

Claus for Celebration by Laura DurhamClaus for Celebration by Laura Durham:

Wedding disasters are one thing. A missing Santa (who is presumed dead) is quite another.

This is no normal holiday season for DC’s top wedding planners. Not only is the weather too warm for their winter wonderland wedding, but their neighborhood’s singing Santa, Kris Kringle Jingle, is missing. On top of that, Annabelle’s engagement party is looming, and someone seems to be sabotaging their wedding plans. Can the Wedding Belles and their colorful crew find Santa, save the wedding, and stop the person who’s trying to make their lives a holly, jolly catastrophe?

Claus for Celebration is the 15th standalone book in the hilarious Annabelle Archer Wedding Planner Mystery series. If you like larger-than-life characters, madcap capers, and an insider’s look at glamorous society weddings, then you’ll love Laura Durham’s award-winning cozy mystery series.

Buy now to cozy up to this funny, festive holiday mystery today!

Winter Downs by Jan EdwardsWinter Downs by Jan Edwards:

Bunch Courtney stumbles upon the body of Jonathan Frampton in a woodland clearing. Is this a case of suicide, or is it murder? Bunch is determined to discover the truth but can she persuade the dour Chief Inspector Wright to take her seriously?

In January of 1940 a small rural community on the Sussex Downs, already preparing for invasion from across the Channel, finds itself deep in the grip of a snowy landscape, with an ice-cold killer on the loose.

 

Spirit of the Season by Cynthia E. HurstSpirit of the Season by Cynthia E. Hurst:

In a season of peace and goodwill, it was shocking for residents of the Cotswold town to learn a stranger had been murdered in their midst. It was even more shocking that he died on the doorstep of the town’s police inspector’s home as he was entertaining guests on Christmas Eve. It appeared Daniel Keegan’s only failing had been to fall in love with the wrong person, something that sends a chilling message to two of the inspector’s guests. Newlyweds Jacob Silver and Sarah Simm are used to criticism, but does Keegan’s death mean their own lives may be in danger?

‘Spirit of the Season’ is the eighth book in the Silver and Simm Victorian Mysteries series.

Potluck by Cynthia E. HurstPotluck by Cynthia E. Hurst:

The R&P Labs staff members are planning their Christmas potluck lunch when a stranger arrives on the doorstep with an announcement that threatens to turn several lives upside down. ’Tis the season to be wary, and in this short story, the five scientific sleuths have to do some rapid research to discover whether one of them will be getting a very unusual Christmas present.

 

 

Zukie's Gift by Cynthia E. HurstZukie’s Gift by Cynthia E. Hurst:

All sorts of things were donated for St Augustine’s Christmas bazaar — books, second-hand clothes, cookies, murder weapons …

Zukie’s Gift is a short story and part of the Zukie Merlino Mysteries series.

 

 

 

Big Top Treachery by CeeCee JamesBig Top Treachery by CeeCee James:

Christmas at the Circus!

What if the holly berry meant more than a cozy Christmas tradition? When Trixie, billed by the Concello circus as the world’s smallest Lady Godiva, finds a large ruby on the circus grounds, she thinks she’s one of the luckiest people on earth. Until she learns the stone’s past is stained as holly-red as the jewel itself. ??

When the police get involved, suspicion is cast not just on Trixie, but on her other friends at the circus. ??The pressure is on with Trixie getting threats from an anonymous source. When the calliope player is murdered, Trixie knows the threats she has been receiving aren’t just to scare her… she’ll be the next to die if she can’t find out the truth about the stone and unmask the murderer?

How Aunt Tillie Stole Christmas by Amanda M. LeeHow Aunt Tillie Stole Christmas by Amanda M. Lee:

Fourteen years ago, Christmas hit Walkerville with a bang. Or, rather, a big ball of fire.
When a local group home for orphaned children goes up in smoke right before the holidays, Tillie Winchester volunteers her family to take in some kids – even though her arch nemesis Margaret Little is dead-set against it. Of course, that’s part of the appeal for Tillie so she’s considering it a win.

Three boys – all of them with a little attitude – have no idea what to expect from the Winchester household. No matter what, Tillie is sure they’re about to get more than they bargained for. In short order, they’re welcomed into the family at the same time the town is on edge due to a second fire.

Tillie is determined to prove the boys are innocent while also finding them a forever home … even if she has to take on a local judge and declare all out war to do it.

So, hang your stockings by the fire and sit back for another Christmas with the Winchesters. You’ll never be the same again.

Note: This is a 28,000-word novella set in the Wicked Witches of the Midwest world. It’s set back in the past so it can be read in any order.

Cremas, Christmas Cookies and Crroks by Harper LinCremas, Christmas Cookies and Crooks by Harper Lin:

It’s almost Christmastime in Cape Bay, and another murder has everyone in town talking. A despised new drama teacher at the local high school is killed in the school’s parking lot. The police arrest a beloved teacher, Mrs. Crowsdale, but everyone else thinks she is too nice to murder anyone. Mike, however, says they have solid evidence that proves she did it.

Sammy is particularly devastated. Mrs. Crowsdale was her favorite teacher and still her hero. Sammy begs Fran to find the real culprit. Fran isn’t so sure. Mike would be angry with her for butting in on another case. And what if more danger befalls her? After all, there are some pretty dangerous people in town…

Includes 3 special recipes!

Fur-miliar Felines by Harper LinFur-miliar Felines by Harper Lin:

Three witches and their magical cats solve paranormal murder cases in the mystical town of Wonder Falls.

It’s Christmastime, but something strange and sinister is in the air. Treacle, Cath’s courageous black cat, can’t see what it is, but he feels a dangerous presence out there in the snow-blanketed streets.

Aunt Astrid also feels dark ripples in the dimensions. The Greenstone witches suspect this creature is somehow tied to the disappearance of two high school students. Soon, one of them turns up dead, half-eaten.

The holiday spirit is in full effect in Wonder Falls, but so is a puzzling and gruesome murder mystery.

Pilfered Promises by M. Louisa LockePilfered Promises by M. Louisa Locke:

Holiday cover edition: It is November, 1880, and the future looks promising for Annie and Nate Dawson. Nate’s law practice is taking off. Annie has made the transition from pretend clairvoyant to a successful financial consultant. And they are looking forward to spending their first Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays together.

For Robert Livingston, the owner San Francisco’s newest grand emporium, the holidays don’t look so promising. Not if he can’t figure out how to stop whoever is stealing from his department store, the Silver Strike Bazaar. However, when he hires the Dawsons to investigate, they discover that behind the doors of his “Palace of Plenty,” nothing is quite what it seems.

Pilfered Promises, a sweet cozy historical mystery, is the fifth novel in the Victorian San Francisco Mystery series featuring Annie and Nate Dawson and their friends and family in the O’Farrell Street boarding house and it comes right before the newest novella, Kathleen Catches a Killer

Kathleen Catches a Killer by M. Louisa LockeKathleen Catches a Killer by M. Louisa Locke:

It’s the very end of December, 1880, and the servant Kathleen Hennessey expects to spend a quiet week taking care of the O’Farrell Street boarding house while her employers, Annie and Nate Dawson, are off spending the Christmas holidays with Nate’s family. However, when she agrees to help out one of her friends, Kathleen discovers that a simple case of a servant being dismissed without notice has turned into a complicated puzzle that she is determined to solve.

While featuring minor characters from Locke’s Victorian San Francisco mystery series, Kathleen Catches a Killer contains all the light romance, humor, and suspense of the longer works. Chronologically, this novella comes right after the events in Pilfered Promises, but it can be read as a stand-alone and an excellent introduction to this mystery series about the gas-lit world of the late 19th century.

'Tis the Season by Jean Louise and Michael Yaworsky‘Tis the Season: Two short holiday stories by Jean Louise and Michael Yaworsky:

Heartwarming stories of comfort and joy….

In Stealing Christmas, two modern-day Robin Hoods use a little fa-la-la-la-larceny to bring cheer to those who could use it most.

Tipping Point is the story of a single act of generosity that sets a series of acts into motion, touching a surprising number of people with the holiday spirit.

 

Iced Inn by Karen MacInerneyIced Inn by Karen MacInerney:

It’s Christmastime at the Gray Whale Inn. The inn’s kitchen smells like ginger and spice, the ground is frosted with snow, and wedding bells are about to ring out for innkeeper Natalie’s favorite niece, Gwen. It’s a joyous time… until the families of the bride and groom descend on the island, bringing nasty tempers and a wicked winter storm with them. Add a baffling rash of thefts, a dash of romantic intrigue, and an unexpected power shutdown, and Natalie’s plans for a magical season are looking more like a recipe for disaster. Can Natalie find the missing gifts before the big holiday? And will the happy couple make it to the altar… or will the wedding go up in flames?

A Mind Reader's Christmas by Al MacyA Mind Reader’s Christmas by Al Macy:

Eric Beckman, a mind-reading private investigator, is spending Christmas in snowy Vermont with his wife and daughter. He needs a break from solving cases, but the townspeople convince him to look into the village mystery: Every holiday season, someone switches the baby Jesus with one of the other figures in the town’s Nativity scene.

With the help of his ten-year-old daughter, also a mind reader, he soon learns that some of the residents of the small town are not who–or even what–they seem to be. There’s something supernatural going on in Newburn, Vermont.

His investigation causes an escalation of strange happenings, and soon, swapped manger figures are the least of the town’s worries. If Beckman can’t adjust his view of the world–force himself to believe in things he never thought possible–the Christmas vacation could turn out to be his family’s last.

A Mind Reader’s Christmas may be read as a standalone book or as Book Four in the Eric Beckman series.

The Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona MarpleThe Santa Claus of Mystic Springs by Mona Marple:

What if Father Christmas is on the naughty list?

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Mystic Springs, but all is not still or calm with the department store Santa.

The amateur dramatics club is full of big egos and legends-in-their-own-heads, so their spats aren’t unusual. But when the theatre owner is shot dead during the Christmas play, it’s Santa who pulls the trigger.

With the arrival of an unwelcome ex, a petition to end Discrimination Against Spirits, and a second attack by St Nick, the chances of a quiet Christmas seem to be quickly disappearing.

Has Santa really gone bad? Or is there more to it?

Town medium Connie and her dead sister Sage are both avoiding their own festive conundrums. A mistletoe murder is just the distraction they need.

Frostycake Murder by Summer PrescottFrostycake Murder by Summer Prescott:

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM MISSY AND CHAS!!!

Life is full of surprises in the sleepy beachside town of Calgon, Florida, and the holiday season proves to be no exception. Echo faces a new reality that could change her life forever, Missy and Chas wrestle with the pain of facing their own limitations and uncertainties, while Spencer finds himself in a sticky situation relationally.

In the midst of all of the personal turmoil, a gruesome murder is discovered, and Chas once again has to take charge and hope that he finds the ruthless killer, before tragedy strikes a bit closer to home.

North Pole Unlimited by Elle RushNorth Pole Unlimited: Decker and Joy by Elle Rush:
Jaded P.I. Decker Harkness must track down a missing prototype if he wants a shot at a corporate security contract. Sexy cat-lady Joy McCall has her own investigation running after someone breaks into her animal shelter. When they cross paths during a triple kitten-napping, they’ll have to work together to close their cases. Will everyone make it home to celebrate a merry Christmas together?

Only Santa knows.

 

All I Want For Christmas is Wicked by Lotta SmithAll I Want for Christmas is Wicked by Lotta Smith:

Trees decorated, stockings full of presents, and another case to crack!

The Rowling family is gearing up for another Merry Christmas, and Mandy has her hands full with holiday prep, but how can she get into the spirit of the season when the victim in her latest case isn’t a ghost?

Twenty years ago, during a Christmas Eve blackout, Kevin Holt, the husband of a rich heiress, lost his memory in a fall down the stairs of their mansion. Now he’s discovered evidence that someone might have been trying to kill him, and all he wants for Christmas is to find out who. Since the resident ghost of the Holt house didn’t witness the attack, Rick and Mandy will have to rely on old fashioned sleuthing (and a little help from Mandy’s paranormal pal Jackie) to find out which of the four suspects is the culprit.

Meanwhile Rick has been saddled with novice investigator Cameron Gibson (call him Ace!) the son of one of USCAB’s wealthiest clients. Ace is trying to catch the creep stalking a New York City fashion model, but despite wanting Mandy to mentor him, one ghostly encounter has him seriously spooked.

A run in with a biker ghost and dancers in danger complicate the case, but the big question on Mandy’s mind is why does little Sophie want a bear trap for Christmas? Find out in this wickedly merry holiday installment of the Paranormal in Manhattan Mystery Series.

Blood and Mistletoe by E.J. StevensBlood and Mistletoe by E.J. Stevens:

Holidays are worse than a full moon for making people crazy. In Harborsmouth, where many of the residents are undead vampires or monstrous fae, the combination may prove deadly.

Ivy Granger, psychic private investigator, returns to the streets of Harborsmouth in this addition to the bestselling urban fantasy series.

Holidays are Hell, a point driven home when a certain demon attorney returns with information regarding a series of bloody murders. Five Harborsmouth residents have been killed and every victim has one thing in common–they are fae. Whoever is killing faeries must be stopped, but they only leave one clue behind–a piece of mistletoe floating in a pool of the victim’s blood.

The holidays just got interesting. Too bad this case may drive Ivy mad before the New Year. Heck, she’ll be lucky to survive Christmas.

Gusty Lovers and Cadavers by Anne R. TanGusty Lovers and Cadavers by Anne R. Tan:

Gusty winds…and a trail of destruction.

Graduate student Raina Sun is in for a season of mayhem and murder. When she volunteered to take the new foreign exchange student shopping on the last weekend before Christmas, she ended up in a riot for the last hot toy of the season and an abandoned baby. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be a Good Samaritan.

But calling the mysterious phone number in the diaper bag leads to more questions than answers. A strange man claims to be the child’s father, and his alleged mother turns up dead. The local police are more interested in keeping the town’s good name out of international news than considering if there’s foul play. And to make matters worse, she has less than a week to find his birth parents before the FBI takes over the case.

Raina summons her sleuthing skills to protect this baby and soon discovers everyone has a few skeletons in their closets. With her pimp-cane-toting grandma, she must track down a hidden killer before she becomes the next victim. There’s no place for an amateur when it comes to murder…

Don’t miss out on Raina’s new adventure–get your copy of “Gusty Lovers and Cadavers” today!

Pineapple Gingerbread Men by Amy VansantPineapple Gingerbread Men by Amy Vansant:

Sheriff Frank asks newly-minted private detective Charlotte to help him crack the case, but she has no idea those darn gingerbread men will start showing up everywhere. What did Santa do that made them so angry? And what’s the secret in his colorful Christmas-themed bureau?

Charlotte is forced to split her time between searching for Santa’s killer and helping Declan’s crazy ex-Stephanie stop a corrupt district attorney in exchange for a book that could help solve more crimes in the future. She never thought she’d help calculating Stephanie with anything…but as this story comes to it’s shocking ending, you’ll find it could be Stephanie who’s finally bitten off more cookie than she can chew…

Tangled Destiny by Jenny WheelerTangled Destiny by Jenny Wheeler:

A promising proposal. A life-changing secret. Will she live out a lie or follow her heart?

New York, 1847. Elanora dreams of marrying her childhood sweetheart Eustace. The proposal on her 21st birthday is everything she hoped for, until her fiancé’s father dispatches him to the West Indies. After the promise of a white Christmas with the man she loves evaporates, she stumbles upon a secret that could tear Eustace’s family apart…

After a sudden death further sends Elanora reeling, she’s as vulnerable as ever until a gifted photographer comes to her rescue. With the tragic love triangle forming before her eyes and the secret burning within her, she has an impossible Christmas choice. Will Elanora obey the powerful men who want to control her or will she trigger generations of consequences by exposing the truth?

Tangled Destiny is a prequel novella to the Of Gold & Blood historical mystery series.

Run-A-Way for Christmas by Victoria L.K. WilliamsRun-A-Way for Christmas by Victoria L.K. Williams:

Christmas is all about children, but usually not all the children at once.

Megan and her faithful beagle Barney meet a gang of runaway children at the beach. Soon the investigative duo learn of exploitation, injury, and murder and with the help of FBI consultant Aiden and his dog, Gypsy, begin to investigate.

Megan’s family and friends rally round and share the joy of Christmas with the children who need it most, while Megan finds that Christmas is truly a time of love.

Elixirs and Elves by Astoria WrightElixirs and Elves by Astoria Wright:

The elves of Mount Vale are throwing a Christmas Party, and they’ve invited everyone! While the human residents of Moss Hill are excited to attend, many of the sidhe find the invitation beneath them. It’s no secret that they dislike mingling with non-faeries, but are they so hostile toward humans that one of them would commit murder? Carissa has never gotten along with the sidhe guard, but Varick of Vale has helped her on occasion. So, when he asks for her help after suspicion falls on him, it’s up to her to prove his innocence – if, that is, he isn’t guilty after all.

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