Friday, February 25, 2022

Fearless Research by Karina Bartow #FearlessFriday #Mystery


Please welcome, Karina Bartow, to Fearless Friday. I enjoyed this post because I'm an Arizona native, but the humor of her fearless adventure was a treat.  

I’d like to thank Brenda for allowing me to do this Fearless Friday post. For any who know me personally, though, you’re probably thinking, “Karina, fearless? Seriously?” I’d describe myself in many terms, but fearless isn’t ordinarily one of them. Back in February 2013, however, my family and I had to be…or at least tried to be.

That winter, my parents and I planned a trip to Arizona, USA. At that same time, I was writing my debut novel, Husband in Hiding, which followed a man who had to enter witness protection after he meddles in his detective wife’s investigation into the mafia. I learned from my research into WITSEC that Arizona’s a common hideaway for the program, so I decided to take advantage of the chance to do some setting scouting during our vacation.

My mom’s pretty old-school, so she requested information from the state’s Chamber of Commerce to aid us in our planning. The packet they sent included a few items about Glendale, where a bed-and-breakfast caught my eye. I looked it up online, and the historical part of town where it was located seemed perfect for my story. It’d be a quaint refuge for my character, where he’d surely be safe from anybody out to harm him.

Some locations I’ve visited after writing them into a book have disappointed me, but that wasn’t the case with Old Glendale. During our afternoon there, the picturesque town lived up to my expectations of being quiet, friendly, and charming. In fact, most of the businesses even closed before dinnertime. How much more wholesome could you get?

We ate dinner at the bed-and-breakfast that drew me to the town in the first place, and I soaked in lots of material there. After we finished, we headed out to our parking space down the street. Since I have Cerebral Palsy, my dad was pushing me in my wheelchair, and we passed an alleyway between two buildings along our route. The sun having already set, my mom and I shared the same unspoken thought:

Dark alley. How scary! We snickered inside. The notion of danger lurking in the sleepy town seemed preposterous.

But it wasn’t.

Our unsuspecting curiosity impelled us to look into the passage, where a figure sat on the ground in the shadows. He turned in our direction and slowly rose to his feet, setting down the wine bottle in his hand. Even more menacing, he started advancing toward us.

At most, twenty-five feet separated us from our rented truck, but in that moment, it seemed like two miles. Beside me, my mom sped up her pace, despite the fact that she didn’t have the keys to get inside the pickup when she reached it. Meanwhile, my dad—who remember, was pushing me—slowed down, strategizing what to do if the stranger accosted us. Given this is Fearless Friday, I’d like to tell you I did some courageous act to rescue my family…but I didn’t. Rather, I began flailing my feet like a late Fred Flintstone peddling his car to the bowling alley.

Thankfully, the man didn’t approach us and simply sprinted across the road. If he had any nefarious schemes in mind, I’ll never know. Regardless, it provided inspiration I didn’t have on my agenda. I considered changing the setting in the book because of it, but I soon realized every town has its secrets, no matter how innocent it appears. I decided to write the experience into a scene of the book, leaving my character as panic-stricken as we were.

If you’d like to read it, check it out in chapter seventeen of Husband in Hiding, which is available for
$.99 on Kindle for a limited time. Its sequel, Brother of Interest, is also available, released last week by The Wild Rose Press.  

When Minka Avery left the police department and her life as a deaf detective, she thought chasing after her toddler daughter and keeping tabs on her mischievous husband would be the extent of her excitement. Before long, however, her brother lands on the list of suspects in a high-profile crime and throws her world into chaos.
Torn between her conflicted feelings for him and her desire to see justice carried out, she decides to unofficially explore the matter on her own. She begins to see that the case is bigger than it seemed at first glance, but before she can unravel it further, she discovers Robin using her garage as a hideout from the authorities! Now forced together, can Minka overcome the many distractions to figure out the massive scheme that's really playing out? And can the bizarre circumstances somehow improve her and Robin's chilly relationship?

Buy links:

The Wild Rose Press | Amazon | Walmart | Books-A-Million


Karina Bartow grew up and still lives in Northern Ohio.  Though born with Cerebral Palsy, she’s never allowed her disability to define her.  Rather, she’s used her experiences to breathe life into characters who have physical limitations, but like her, are determined not to let them stand in the way of the life they want.  Her debut novel, Husband in

Hiding came out in 2015, followed by Forgetting My Way Back to You, 2018.  She may only be able to type with one hand, but she writes with her whole heart! 

Twitter Handle: @KarinaBartow

Monday, February 21, 2022

Jagged Feathers - @jansikes3 #NewRelease #RomanticSuspense #WhiteRuneSeries


Jan Sikes is my guest today, and one of her favorite things is mine too...Dream Catchers.

Thank you, Brenda, for inviting me to your blog site today to talk about my new book, JAGGED FEATHERS! I appreciate your generosity.

I have always loved dreamcatchers and what they signify. It was believed by the Native American tribes that both good and bad dreams filled the air at night. The dreamcatcher was designed to act as a spider's web by trapping the bad dreams or visions while allowing the good ones to filter through. The bad dreams caught in the web would get destroyed when the sunlight of morning hit the dreamcatcher, while the good dreams would filter down through the feathers and gently reach the sleeping person below. The design itself held great meaning. The circular frame represented mother earth and each intricate design within the frame symbolized different aspects of nature and spirituality.

In my book, Jagged Feathers, Vann Noble received an unexpected gift of a dreamcatcher.


The woman followed him out. “Mister, I want to give you something for your kindness.”

“That’s not necessary.”

“Well, now I know it ain’t, but humor me just a little.”

Vann shrugged. “If it makes you happy, ma’am.”

He waited while she shuffled things around in the back of the van, then dug through a box. Three pairs of frightened eyes peered over the seats, and he waved to the children. Only the smallest waved back. 

She pulled out a dreamcatcher and handed it to him. “It ain’t much, but I make these back home and sell them on the side of the road. I use only raw materials I find on the ground, so it’s all natural. This one has some jagged feathers, and I can’t sell it. Maybe it’ll bring you good fortune.”

Vann sucked in a breath when he took the piece from her. “Thank you, ma’am. You have no idea what this means.” He patted her shoulder awkwardly.

She squinted and stared for a long minute. “All I know is I can’t sell it, and I want you to have it.”

Vann nodded. Anxious to show it to Nakina, he knew the significance of the feathers in the piece would be overwhelming.

What about you? Have you ever owned a dreamcatcher, or perhaps like me, you still do. I’d love to hear from you!



Vann Noble did his duty. He served his country and returned a shell of a man, wounded inside and out. With a missing limb and battling PTSD, he seeks healing in an isolated cabin outside a small Texas town with a stray dog that sees beyond his master's scars. If only the white rune's magic can bring a happily ever after to a man as broken as Vann.   

On the run from hired killers and struggling to make sense of her unexplained deadly mission, Nakina Bird seeks refuge in Vann's cabin. She has secrets. Secrets that can get them all killed. 

A ticking clock and long odds of living or dying, create jarring risks.

Will these two not only survive, but find an unexpected love along the way? Or, will evil forces win and destroy them both? 












Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Wicked Fun with Margot Johnson #WickedWednesday #romance #travel


Margot Johnson knows how to have some wicked fun. She made me smile and you will too. A perfect way to spend Wicked Wednesday. 

Thank you, Brenda, for inviting me to be your guest this Wicked Wednesday. I’m happy to join you for some mid-week fun based on wicked travel adventures in Let it Melt and in my own life. 

In Let it Melt, Merilee hosts a Sweetheart Tour, a bus trip that includes more than a few surprises. 

Merilee’s tour business is inspired by my love of travel and the wicked adventures I’ve enjoyed along the way including this one…   

A few years ago my husband, Rick, and I travelled to California to attend a U2 concert (Rick’s favorite band), cheer at two ballgames, visit Disneyland, and tour San Francisco. All those experiences were more than enough fun for one vacation, but I wanted to attend a taping of a game show, too. 

My wish came true when we managed to get tickets to the TV game show “Let’s Make a Deal,” hosted by Wayne Brady. All the audience members are supposed to wear costumes, but the morning of the show, we still didn’t know what we could possibly dress up in. Then I noticed a flowered top in my suitcase, and an idea popped to mind. We stopped at a bargain store on the way and loaded up on artificial flowers which we attached to our hair and clothing and transformed ourselves into a garden.   

I knew chances were slim, but I hoped I might get selected as a contestant. We had a great time joking and laughing with the other audience members and experiencing how a show is taped, but the show was nearing the end with only one more game to go. Feeling a little deflated, I forced myself to smile and clap while I waited to hear the announcement of the final contestants. 

“Where’s the lady with flowers in her hair?” Wayne Brady’s voice boomed over the audience as he pointed in my direction. Shocked, I jumped up and bolted down the stairs to the stage with my heart pounding. Slightly stunned, and with music, lights, and applause bombarding me, I launched into a game which involved selecting numbers to reveal a picture of a car. I wish I could say I drove home in a brand new car, but I came within one number of winning. If only I had chosen seven instead of four. Yes, losing was a bit of a letdown, but I’ll never forget the experience…a wickedly good time. 

For my next adventure, I hope to head to London, England. Two years ago I received an invitation to one of the Queen’s Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace, something I’ve wanted to do for years. Unfortunately, the events were cancelled the past two years, but I have fingers crossed that they’ll return soon and I’ll get the chance to rub elbows with royalty. 

About Let it Melt, book two in the Merilee Tours series… 

How on earth did Jill, a single divorcee, land on a romantic Valentine's Sweetheart Tour for couples? Worse, she’s paired with Jack, her daughter’s brash father-in-law, and everyone thinks he’s her valentine. Stranded in a Canadian prairie blizzard, how soon can she kiss this awkward evening goodbye?

Long divorced, Jack would love to charm Jill with his toned body and dynamic personality, but his wisecracks and obsession with fitness get in the way—especially when he nabs a post at the same school where she teaches.

Even the most romantic month of the year can’t melt their differences and sweeten Jill's feelings….or can it? 

Buy Links:


Barnes and Noble




Author Biography: 

Margot Johnson writes feel-good stories of dreams, family, and romance.

She is the author of two sweet romance novels, LOVE TAKES FLIGHT and LOVE LEADS THE WAY, and two novellas, LET IT SNOWBALL and LET IT MELT. Her characters can't possibly find their happy endings...or can they?

Before turning her focus to the fun writing life, Margot held leadership roles in human resources and communications. Her motto is "Dream big and work hard."

When not writing, she loves to connect with family and friends, volunteer with SK Writers Guild, and walk at least 10,000 steps a day (except when it's minus 40!)

Margot lives in the Canadian prairies with her amazing husband and adorable golden retriever.

Social Media


Facebook: MargotJohnsonAuthor

Twitter: @AuthorMargot 


Monday, February 14, 2022


Penny Sparks has secrets that can ruin a presidential contender, got her family murdered…and mark her as the next hit. 

Inspiration comes in all forms to authors. Considering the political unrest in the U.S. for the last several years, I’d like to claim The Power of Love and Murder was a result of taking the strife and turning it into an entertaining read. But I cannot tell a lie. The story for this book came to me before the antics of the 2016 election.  

The Power of Love and Murder is the fourth book in my Love and Murder Series. Penny (whose real name is Jianna Ricci) had a walk-on part in book one, The Art of Love and Murder. She’s a pixie of a woman. In book one, Lacy dubbed her the Black Fairy for her Goth style and the fact she worked in a haunted hotel. Her story begged to be told. The political bad guys have depth, and the hero is a drug-recovering rock star. I had fun writing it.

Here's a short, never-before-shared excerpt, a conversation between the two villains. Vince Elams is an FBI agent turned hitman for a presidential hopeful, Senator Westingly, who will do anything to reach his goal.

“Jianna Ricci has surfaced,” Vince informed him.

A smile flitted across the senator’s face. “Aren’t we lucky the FBI never closes a case?”

“That depends on which side of the fence you crouch.”

The politician threw a sneer into the air. “Where is she?”


“Ha!” This time, the senator smiled broadly. “Fate’s been working in my favor lately, Elams. Thursday, I’m scheduled to appear at party headquarters in lovely downtown Flagstaff. An organized crime hit can happen anywhere, can’t it? An up close and personal reason why the Coconino County voters need me.”

            Vince closed his eyes to the sun and the joy on the politician’s face.

 “I’m wondering what’s the point of this meeting.” Westingly’s voice went from joyful to low and menacing. “If you were hoping for a different game plan, perhaps something more creative in dealing with this matter, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed. Your order stands.”

            Creative? Game?

“She hasn’t made a move in thirteen years. It’s highly unlikely—”

“Hardly your decision. I’m not asking for input.” He adjusted his glasses and clasped his hands behind his back. “It would seem the crime syndicate that wiped out her family has finally caught up with her. Let’s see…today is Saturday. I’d say the paper should have the story by midweek.” 


For thirteen years, Penny Sparks has managed to hide from the political powers who murdered her family. When she unwittingly exposes her true identity, not only is she marked for death, but the people closest to her risk meeting the same fate. 

Jake Winters is out of rehab and coming to grips with his demons. When he meets his sister’s roommate, Jake believes Penny might be that someone who can help him find life after rock star status…until her secrets blow up his world. 

With a government agent turned hit man closing in on her, Penny and Jake race to expose the presidential contender behind the murders of her family. Even if they win the race with death, the murder that stands between them could end their hope for a new life. 







Thursday, February 10, 2022

Reading and #Reviews (Fagan, Plakcy)

I'm an author, but I'm also a reader. Each month, I'll share with you reviews of present and past reads. My available time to read is limited because I write, but I love to curl up with a paperback or an eBook at night for the last hour of my day. 

I tend to read what I write, but not exclusively. Besides Romantic Suspense, I read crime and law novels, once in a while a true story, WWII historicals, mysteries, and mainstream character driven books.

Here are some of the books I've read recently or in the not-too-distant past. Maybe you'll discover a new book or author.

Fade Out by Laurie Fagan 

Impetuous and driven.

Young radio reporter Lisa Powers has a lot to learn, but in her zeal to cover the big city crime beat, finds herself facing down criminals in addition to reporting on them.

From the dark streets of the metro Phoenix area to the peaceful red rocks of Sedona, Lisa dodges bullets investigating the cold case of a kidnapped bank executive found murdered, and discovers horrors she never imagined while tracking down a missing father.

She’s first on the scene of a massive fire that destroys the opulent mansion of a reclusive pharmaceutical heir, but her career is jeopardized when the story gets way too hot.


My Review:

Because I was born and raised in Phoenix, I enjoyed the book from that perspective. It’s fun to read books set in familiar locals. The story, the main story that is, was interesting. I didn’t find it a real page turner, but it was entertaining. What I didn’t like about the book was the podcast. Lisa Powers is involved with a podcast, and the script is interjected from time to time. I found the podcast annoying. I kept waiting for it to tie into the storyline, but it didn’t. 

Dog Willing by Neil S. Plakcy 

When his neighbor is accused of murder, reformed computer hacker Steve Levitan and his golden retriever Rochester are asked to sniff out clues to prove her innocence.

Who could have killed bookstore owner Darlene Nowak? One of the food truck venders she angered when they parked in front of her store? Someone from the writer’s critique group she sponsored? Did a self-published author she refused to promote write her into a real murder mystery?

Steve knows that cooks and creative folks are very sensitive about criticism—but could one of them be angry enough to kill? 

My Review: I’m a dog lover, so throwing a dog into a story is a good technique from my perspective. Steve takes his dog everywhere. But Rochester really doesn’t do anything to solve the crime as I expected. Still, the few sidelines about the dog were fun. The food vendor world was interesting. The murder solving part of the story was pretty tame. But all and all, I found the story an entertaining read.

Monday, February 7, 2022

#Inspiration for the Muse by Adriana Kraft #RomanticSuspense #MuseMonday


I feel like I have two guests today. This husband/wife team puts out some great books. Please enjoy Muse Monday with Adrianna Kraft.

A desperate espresso café owner, a determined coffee franchise rep, a quiet midwestern town, anonymous threats out of the blue—where does the true danger lie?

On first picking up our latest release, people might think Mr. Kraft and I have fallen blindly into the “blonde Russian bombshell” trope. But our heroine, Nadja Petrov, was born out of a fortuitous series of events in our life.

Before settling in the Southwest, we lived for a while in an upper Midwest small town. Though only boasting a population of about 30,000, it had a vibrant arts and culture community, and we frequented a favorite sole proprietor espresso café that often hosted live music and readings – yes, including readings we sometimes gave.

At about the same time, I was privileged to spend two weeks in Ukraine for work. The project took me into some of Ukraine’s more remote areas, always accompanied by a translator and a local project director. Weekdays were filled with attending to business, but weekends were open to explore Kyiv and experience cultural highlights.

Nadja’s history and character emerged out of that experience. We set the book in 2005, when Nadja is 29. This enabled us to place her childhood while Ukraine was still part of the USSR, as well as to give her a personal experience of the end of Communist rule in 1991, when she was 15.

Kyiv sports a stunning historic opera house, where I was fortunate to attend both an opera (with English subtitles) and a stunning ballet. We blessed Nadja with early ballet training. Tall, statuesque, she was selected young and being groomed for the Russian Ballet – a future that was ultimately denied to her, though we won’t spoil our story by sharing all the reasons. It turns out her love of dance and her commitment to physical conditioning never faltered, and these qualities play a key role as her story unfolds on our side of the Atlantic.

Perhaps most of all, I was struck by the resilience and determination of the Ukrainian people to maintain their orthodox faith during all those decades of communist rule. Religious practices were banned across Ukraine, yet many of the local staff I worked with had been smuggled as infants by their families to orthodox priests, to be baptized in secret. All those decades of suppression could not snuff out the flame. 

We play both sides of this phenomenon in our story. Nadja herself is not a believer; too much has happened in her life for her to trust. But her Aunt Ivett, who immigrated to America earlier than Nadja, is still faithful, frequently lighting a candle for herself or her niece.


Kevin curled his fingers around the car door latch and turned back to Nadja. “Hmm, kissing me on the cheeks—does that make this a date?”

She broke into a large smile. “I’m not positive. Don’t misread a European custom.” She hesitated, then leaned across the space separating them to brush her lips lightly across his. She settled back in her seat and quietly watched his eyes sparkling.

“That’s an American custom,” he said, “for ending a date.”

“Don’t be so narrow-minded,” she teased. “I believe that custom is fairly common worldwide for ending a first date. Good night,” she added quickly. “I’ll see you on Friday.”

“You bet you will,” Kevin said, opening the door.

She watched him until he entered the motel. She hadn’t planned on their evening turning into a date. But it had. How? When? Why?

It had seemed like such a natural thing to kiss him. It had only been a kiss, and not much of one at that.

So why did her lips still tingle? 


It’s nothing personal…

It all seems simple enough—Ukrainian immigrant Nadja Petrov is determined to hold on to her thriving new coffee shop, Nadja’s Literary Cappuccino, and Java Beans District Rep Kevin Langley is equally determined to move into her North Iowa town with a franchise and run her out of business.

He scopes her out, she keeps a watchful eye on him, and the sparring begins. But there are other players involved, and the web of intrigue soon threatens Nadja, her shop, and her aunt as well as Kevin, his potential franchise, and his son. Within this cauldron simmers a sexual attraction between Nadja and Kevin that catapults them to overcome their fears of intimacy and commitment. Their lovemaking is tender and raw. Their love is nearly lost in tragedy—can it survive doubts, fire, and even a death?

Buy Links 


Barnes & Noble






About the Authors 

When it’s Time to Heat Things Up 

Award winning author Adriana Kraft is a married couple writing Sizzling Romantic Suspense and Erotic Romance for Two, Three, or More. Whether readers open our romantic suspense or our erotic romance, they can expect characters they care about, hot sex scenes, and a compelling story. Our suspense stories deliver one man, one woman, danger and intrigue. Our erotic romance is edgier and nearly always includes ménage or polyamory, sometimes with two women and a man, sometimes with two (or more) couples. We write our Erotic Romance stories to entertain, of course, but most of all we write them because we believe in happy endings for all who fall in love, whatever their gender, sexual orientation, or numerical combination. 




Newsletter: free download of our erotic romance novella Cherry Tune-Up for signing up.



Facebook Fan Page

Amazon Author Page

Extasy author page



Saturday, February 5, 2022

2021 Reviewers Choice Awards

Imagine my surprise when I went to the Paranormal Romance Guild to vote for a book I like and found one of my books there! Mystery on Spirit Mountain has been nominated for a book award and a series award. It's one of those voting contests, so I'd love to have you drop in and vote for my book. You might encounter other books you've read and want to vote for too.

And no, Mystery on Spirit Mountain is not a traditional paranormal, but the story does have mystical undertones.

The past never sleeps. The truth never dies. 

Only Harlan MacKenzie can sense the troubled history of the Big Purple House. When he’s hired to restore the historical mansion, he doesn’t foresee the secrets—secrets that entangle his family in deceit and murder.


Phaedra is selling the house that has been in her family for decades. As her friends-to-lovers relationship with Harlan escalates, she puts her values on the line and chances losing him.


After a stranger comes to town, weaving her web of deception, hell-bent on correcting an old grievance connected to the house, dark revelations of the past implode the present. Harlan and Phaedra are thrown on a dangerous path, not only risking love but possibly their lives.

Voting ends on 2/12. Thanks so much!

Vote here:

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Reading and #Reviews (Gaughran, Gallant)

I'm an author, but I'm also a reader. I love to share with you reviews of present and past reads. My available time to read is limited because I write, but I love to curl up with a paperback or an eBook at night for the last hour of my day.

I tend to read what I write, but not exclusively. Besides Romantic Suspense, I read crime and law novels, once in a while a true story, WWII historicals, mysteries, and mainstream character driven books.

Here are some of the books I've read recently or in the not-too-distant past. Maybe you'll discover a new book or author.

Amazon Decoded by David Gaughran

Blurb: Want to sell more books on the world’s biggest retailer? Fancy Amazon doing the selling for you instead? Amazon Decoded: A Marketing Guide to the Kindle Store will show you how.

•Learn what Visibility Marketing is and how understanding Amazon’s philosophy can boost your sales.
•Discover the algorithms that really go into Sales Rank and dispel some remarkably common myths.
•Decode the ways Amazon recommends millions of books to readers every single day.
•Implement proven marketing plans, optimized for maximum Amazon visibility.

Whether you are exclusive to Amazon and chasing those page reads, or a wide author trying to survive the onslaught of Kindle Unlimited titles, Amazon Decoded will share the secrets of the Kindle Store and how you can sell more books.


My Review: This book was an absolute eye-opener. I’m a complete newbie when it comes to advertising. Amazon is a maze to try to figure out on my own. Mr. Gaughran even made algorithms easy to understand. I loved the history of how it all got started. He made what could be a very dry book to read, interesting.

A Deadly Love by Jannine Gallant

Blurb: In the heart of the redwoods, a madman waits . . .

Recovering from a broken engagement, Brooke Wakefield escapes to her grandmother’s home deep in the redwood forest, determined to start over. Not an easy task when her teenage crush lives next door. The last thing she needs is another man to break her heart, but Dillon’s sexy smile still sends her heat level soaring.

Dillon Tremayne isn’t looking for a relationship. With a young son, an eccentric grandfather, and a logging company running him ragged, he can’t afford any romantic entanglements. Too bad Brooke’s humor and strength—not to mention her kisses—are so hard to resist.

When a woman from his past is brutally murdered and another disappears, Dillon is heartsick—and terrified the killer will target Brooke next. Can Brooke and Dillon find love in the heart of the forest? Or will a madman’s twisted fantasy destroy their chance at happiness?


My Review: A Deadly Love was so entertaining. Ms. Gallant’s blurb doesn’t do the book justice if you’re a lover of character driven novels. Let me tell you, the characters in this book take front and center stage. Brooke and Dillon come alive on the pages. But the secondary characters like the grandfather really round out this book. The suspense is intense. The story is well rounded. Another good story from Jannine Gallant.