The Jonas Trust Deception by A.F.N. Clarke @AFNClarke #Thriller #BookClub #Fiction

The Jonas Trust Deception
by AFN Clarke

AFN CLARKE is the author of 8 books, including the best selling memoir CONTACT, that was serialized in a British newspaper and made into an award winning BBCTV film.  His latest novel, The Jonas Trust Deception, is a Thomas Gunn thriller and follows the success of The Orange Moon Affair.  Readers have called it “classy, complex and cunningly compelling” and a “powerful force in the thriller genre”.  In solving the mystery of an ongoing conspiracy involving his old friend Morgan, Thomas Gunn, ex-Special Forces, takes an action so shocking and bold, that even his team fear he’s lost his mind.  The question is, has he?  To get a taste of things to come, here’s an excerpt from the book.  And for more information visit or the Amazon Kindle store.

There is something so totally desolate about sitting in a prison cell staring at the blank grey walls that, unless you’ve experienced it, you’ll never understand. There is a finality and hopelessness that is almost beyond comprehension. A despair that sucks at your soul. My salvation was that I knew that my stay here was going to be short-lived, but what the future held was one big question mark. I had the distinct feeling somebody had put a ring in my nose and was leading on a mystery tour with more questions than answers.

Left alone with just the usual sounds of dissatisfied inmates, clinking keys and slamming doors for company, I thought back to the frantic last few days.

Confusion would be an apt description of my state of mind.

What facts could I scramble together?

Several dead bodies at Morgan’s ranch.

A small but ruthless Mexican Mafia gangbanger, with the unlikely nickname of ‘El Cobra Poco’, who seemed as if he could be a strange ally.

And the mysterious Robert Sutherland.

What other questions remained?

There were many, starting with who would have wanted to kill Morgan? Everything went back to my request for her to investigate the financial dealings of the Griffin Trust and its Chairman Ted Lieberman.

How was the Mexican Mafia involved if what Sutherland said about Morgan working for him was true?

I could just lie here all night long and create imaginary scenarios, but that wouldn’t supply any answers, so I closed my eyes and concentrated on emptying my mind.

Sleep was what I needed.

It must have been two hours after the jail cell lights went out, that the goons came for me. Dragged me off the bed and frog marched me down the corridor to the back of the jail and down narrow stairs to a basement garage without saying a word. There was a nondescript cream coloured painter’s van waiting with the rear doors open, and I was unceremoniously bundled inside.

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Genre – Thriller
Rating – PG-13
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Getting to Know Ellen Scott from "Dance for a Dead Princess" @DeborahHawk3 #Romance #MustRead

Our guest post for today comes from author Deborah Hawkins, author of Dance for A Dead Princess, who is interviewing Ellen Scott, housekeeper at Burnham Abbey and close friend of Nicholas Carey, the Eighteenth Duke of Burnham.
Deborah: “Thank you for stepping out of the pages of Dance For A Dead Princess to talk to us.   What is it like to be a modern-day housekeeper at an English stately home that dates back to Henry VIII’s time?”
Ellen:  “Well, obviously I love my job.  I oversee the household staff and ensure  the kitchen is running properly.  Above all, I’m responsible for the happiness of our resident chef.  Nicholas insists on having a top-rated chef at all times, and he takes it very hard when one of them leaves.   Since Downtown Abbey became popular,  people I meet are a lot more interested in what I do than they used to be.  They think I am like Mrs. Hughes, but our staff at the Abbey is much, much smaller than the staff at Downtown.”
Deborah: “Does the new attention make you uncomfortable?”
Ellen: “Not at all. The attention isn’t new really.  My job has always kept me in the spotlight because of my connection to Nicholas.   He is the second richest man in England.  The press hounds are  always pursing me for gossip about the women in his life.  Of course, I tell them nothing.”
Deborah: “How did you come to be the housekeeper at Burnham Abbey?”
Ellen: “I grew up on the estate. My father was a tenant on one of the Burnham Trust farms. I went to university to be a teacher, and I taught for a while at the school in the village after I got married. My husband Pete also grew up on one of the estate farms.  He oversees all the Trust’s agricultural holdings now.
“I agreed to be Nicholas’ housekeeper after Nicholas inherited the title and wanted to live at the Abbey and take care of the land in the traditional way of the old dukes.  He was going through a bad patch in his marriage to Deborah just then, and I couldn’t say no. The job stuck, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Deborah: “Is it true Nicholas became close to Princess Diana because of his wife?”
Ellen: “Yes.  Deborah and Diana were great friends at West Heath when they were girls.   Nicholas loved Deborah beyond anything I’ve ever seen, and he turned to Diana for advice when his marriage was in trouble.  And she, likewise, sought his advice over the whole Charles-Camilla thing.”
Deborah: “Did you ever meet the Princess of Wales?”
Ellen:  “Oh, yes.  Many times.  She was a lovely, lovely warm woman.  I still cry at times when I think about her being gone.  I’m always half-expecting to hear her car in the drive and her voice calling out for Nicholas.  He always took her part in everything.  There were so many men in her life who should have loved her, but who didn’t. More fool them.   She was just the most beautiful, thoughtful woman in the world. And she loved her boys.”
Deborah: “What did you think of Taylor Collins when you met her?”
Ellen: “She didn’t look like a lawyer.  She was this tiny little thing with dark curly hair and deep violet eyes.  But there was something about her that set her apart from the other women Nicholas brings around.  She had this fierce, determined attitude that made her seem a little off-putting at first.  But I saw the way Nicholas looked at her, and I was so afraid he was going to get his heart broken again.  Losing Deborah was a blow he refused to get over, and now I thought he was headed for another heartache. Taylor Collins was the only woman in the world who hadn’t any interest in being the Duchess of Burnham.”
Deborah: “Did you know Nicholas was looking for the video tape that Diana made, naming her killer?”
Ellen: “Oh, yes.  He was discouraged for so many years because he had no information about what happened to it.  I begged him to let it go because looking for it put his life in danger.  But he wouldn’t listen.  After Deborah died, I think he had a death wish.  That is, until he met, Taylor.”
Deborah:   “I understand you knew Nicholas’ ward Lucy very well?”
Ellen:   “I don’t think any of us knew Lucy well.  Sixteen-year-olds are unpredictable, and Lucy was particularly hard to understand.  I just know she broke Nicholas’ heart too many times to count.  He blamed himself for her, and I didn’t think that was right.  Drug addiction tears a family apart.”
Deborah: “I understand Taylor Collins found a manuscript in the Abbey library that Thomas Carey, the first duke wrote, about the love of his life, Elizabeth Howell.  Have you read it?”
Ellen:  “I have.  Nicholas always insisted the family was founded on the murder of Thomas’ first wife to clear the way for him to marry Elizabeth, the heiress.  Taylor, who had read the manuscript, said that wasn’t true; and I wanted to know how the Careys came to be one of England’s most powerful and wealthy families.”
Deborah: “And did you find out?”
Ellen: “Indeed, I did.  Thomas’ contemporaneous portrait of Henry VIII is fascinating.  You feel as if you’re standing right there in front of him with Thomas.  But I haven’t time  to tell you that story now.  We’re serving tea in the Long Gallery in a half hour to a group of American tourists. Tourists are a substantial part of the Abbey’s income, and they spend a lot of money with the villagers in Burnham during their summer visits,  so Nicholas insists we make them feel fully welcome to show our gratitude.   But I would love to have you join us for tea.”
Deborah: “Thank you.  I would be delighted.”
In January 1997, Princess Diana received a phone call telling her she would be assassinated. She recorded the information on a secret video tape, naming her killer and gave it to a trusted friend in America for safekeeping. It has never been found.
Diana's close friend, Nicholas Carey, the 18th Duke of Burnham and second richest man in England, has vowed to find the tape and expose her killer. After years of searching, he discovers Diana gave the tape to British socialite Mari Cuniff, who died in New York under mysterious circumstances. He believes Wall Street attorney Taylor Collins, the executor of Mari's estate, has possession of it. He lures Taylor to England by promising to sell his ancestral home in Kent, Burnham Abbey, to one of her clients, a boarding school for American girls. Nicholas has dated actresses and models since the death of his wife, ten years earlier, and has no interest in falling in love again. But he is immediately and unexpectedly overwhelmed with feelings for Taylor at their first meeting.
Taylor, unaware that Diana's tape is in her long-time friend and client's estate and nursing her hurt over her broken engagement to a fellow attorney in her firm, brands Nicholas supremely spoiled and selfish. She is in a hurry to finish the sale of the Abbey and return to New York. But while working in the Abbey's library, Taylor uncovers the diary of Thomas Carey, a knight at the court of Henry VIII and the first Duke of Burnham.
As she reads Thomas' agonizing struggle to save the love of his life and the mother of his child from being forced to become Henry's mistress, she begins to see Nicholas in a new light as he battles to save his sixteen-year-old ward Lucy, who is desperately unhappy and addicted to cocaine. But just as Taylor's feelings for Nicholas become clear and at the moment she realizes she is in possession of Diana's voice from the grave, she learns that Nicholas may be Lucy's father and responsible for his wife's death at the Abbey at the time of Lucy's birth. When Nicholas is arrested for Lucy's murder and taken to Wandsworth Prison, Taylor sets out to learn the truth about Nicholas, his late wife, and the death of the Princess of Wales.
Dance for A Dead Princess is a the story of two great loves that created and preserved a family that has lasted for five hundred years.
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Genre – Contemporary Romance, Mystery
Rating – G
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Dream Caster (Dream Cycle #Series) by @NRNadarajah #Fantasy #AmReading

Haunted by memories of his massacred settlement, sixteen-year-old Weaver seeks cover in a hidden refuge among the remains of a ruined city. In the midst of building a new life, Weaver discovers that he has the amazing power to cast his dreams into reality. Convinced it’s just an anomaly, Weaver ignores it. That is until he learns of a mysterious man who shares the ability, and uses his power to bring nightmares into existence and wage war on the world. The peaceful life Weaver hoped for begins to unravel as waves of chaos begin to break loose about him. In a race against time, Weaver must learn to accept his role as a dream caster and master his new power, before his new home is destroyed and humanity is pushed to the brink of extinction.
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Genre – Fantasy
Rating – PG
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Shelf Life: The Publicist, Book 2 by Christina George @publicistgal #Romance #Contemporary

Mac leaned back in his chair and observed Rebecca, a fellow editor, as she walked in and sat down.
“So how is it to be back?” he smiled, knowing the answer.

“It’s hard to leave a newborn,” she sighed. “It’s even harder when the minute I get back to work, Edward’s insisting we sign nothing but porn.”

Mac laughed, “Well, he tactfully called it ‘erotic romance’ but yeah, same thing.”

Rebecca rolled her eyes, “I hate Fifty Shades. Well, I hate what it’s doing to the industry. This hideously written book is being marked as a game-changer. I have to wonder if anyone who actually read the book said this. It was a repetitive and boring pile of crap. I want more literature. I was hoping to come back and do more children’s books and instead I’m ‘encouraged’ to sign porn.”

Mac spotted Kate walking past his office, “Katie, come in and say hi to Rebecca. She’s back from maternity leave and mad as hell.” Mac’s light blue eyes were on her; as usual, she heated up instantly. A smile rose from his lips, crinkling those eyes set off by his dark, thick hair. She wished she could run her fingers through it.

Pull yourself together, she thought. She took a deep breath, walked in, and sat down.

“Good to see you back. You’re not mad at me, are you? Chelsea did great this morning.” Mac’s eyes were still on her, burning into her. Kate shifted in her seat.

Chelsea was one of Rebecca’s authors, Kate wondered if she should tell her that she had to drug her up. It looked like her coworker had enough on her mind; Kate decided to wait to share Chelsea’s fear of national television.

Rebecca shook her head, “It’s not Chels, though I do appreciate the update. It’s the memo Edward sent around this morning.”

“I didn’t see it.” Kate was puzzled.

“It only went to editors,” Mac began, “encouraging us to sign more erotic books. ‘It’s what the readers want,’ Edward insisted.” Mac tapped a pen on his desk, clearly impatient with his boss.
“Shocker.” Kate threw Rebecca an encouraging smile, “I’m sorry, but you know this will wane. At some point housewives will get tired of reading about red rooms and being tied up.”

Rebecca laughed, “You’re right, I know we need to jump on trends. It was one thing when we were trying to sign young adult after the Potter craze, but this takes the cake.”

“I know,” Mac said supportively, “but you know Kate’s right. Edward will lose interest once something else shiny pops up on his radar screen.”

Rebecca stood, “You’re right, Mac, thanks for listening.” She turned to Kate. “Glad it went well with Chels this morning, I’ll catch her segment online.”

After Rebecca left, Mac turned to Kate. “So,” he smiled a broad sexy smile that drew her in, “how did it really go this morning?”

Mac observed a tiny muscle flicker near her eye. It always happened when she was stressed. She’d smile, her poise never wavering, but Mac knew. He could always tell when she was feeling ready to punch someone.

“I had to drug her to get her to go on. Her manager told me that she gets nervous from time to time, but it’s nothing major. Nothing major my ass! She was in a full-blown meltdown and there I was, shoving a pill under the door.”

Mac laughed so hard, he rocked his chair back. “Katie, world class publicist and author rescuer saves the day, again.”

A tiny smile slipped across her face. Mac was right; she was often less of a publicist and more of an author 911. She shook her head. “I have to call her manager and tell her that she’s either here for the rest of Chelsea’s TV gigs, or I’m pulling them. I barely got her to go on air this morning.”

“I think as a general rule, all authors should be sedated from the moment we sign them.”
Kate stood up. “It sure would make my job easier.”

Mac’s laughter followed her down the hall.


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Genre – Contemporary Romance
Rating – R
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Tales of Mi7: The Kramski Case by J.J. Ward @MI7Ward #Thriller #Espionage #GoodReads

Them Ol’ Paparazzi Blues
Kendal, Cumbria.

Someone called Jilly’s name, then the name of her band, Four Girls on Fire. At first, she thought she was dreaming – they’d just won the nation’s biggest talent show all over again, and from now on, life was going to be really amazing! - then her stomach turned over.

She disengaged herself from Rob, got out of bed and went to the window. Bloody hell, yes, down in the narrow cobbled street that fronted the guest-house. Paparazzi, sixteen or seventeen of them, all men, full of last night’s chip fat and strip-club testosterone, leering up at the net curtain like they could see through it. She swallowed.

The other girls had warned her about dating a member of a boy band, but only tongue in cheek. Twice the publicity, babes, sure you can handle that? She couldn’t help herself, though. Two years ago he’d been her hero and she’d been a nobody. Now they were equals.

“They’ve found us,” she told him.

Rob stretched and yawned. He discarded the bedclothes, picked up his boxer shorts and put his foot in one leg. “The press?”

“You don’t seem very bothered.”

“You were bloody brilliant last night, Jilly.”

“How did they know we were here?”

“I mean it. Outstanding.”

She realised she didn’t even like him much. “Did you tell them?”


“Wake up, Rob! It’s the press! I said the press have found us!”

He pulled on his boxers and put his arms round her. She disengaged herself, plonked herself at the dressing table and brushed her long brown hair, pulling halfway down as if it was full of knots. She was trying to stop herself shaking.

“Anyone could have told them,” he said. “It definitely wasn’t me, babe.”

“Put your clothes on. We’re leaving.”

“Why? They can’t get in here.”

She fished her bra from the pile of clothes on the floor and put it on. “We’re in the bloody Lake District, Rob. We’re supposed to be miles from anywhere. How did they find us so quickly?”

She looked round the room: the plaid curtains, the beds with valances, the 1920s lampshades, all the varnished wooden surfaces, so unlike the places she always stayed when she was touring with the girls. She’d fallen in love with it at first sight. She’d been drunk, true, but she’d never wanted to leave.

Rob pulled his socks and T-shirt on then looked at her. “You’re not frightened, are you?”

“They’ve probably got the place surrounded. And yes. Yes, I am frightened.”

“We’ll just call a taxi. We can be downstairs and in the car before anyone knows it.”

“I’m not bothered about us, Rob. I’m bothered about them.” Tights, tights, where were her bloody tights?


“Yeah, ‘them’. The photographers, journalists, whatever they call themselves. Them!”

He laughed. “First time anyone’s cared what happens to paparazzi. Anyway, what could happen to them?”

“Haven’t you been watching the news recently? Are you really that self-obsessed?”

“Hey, now - ”

“Four photographers shot dead in four weeks. Following Bobby Keynes, Zane Cruse, Mikey from Bad Lads Zero, Stallone Laine - ”

“No such thing as bad publicity, from what I hear. Not that you need it, girl, but it won’t hurt. Besides, they’re all douche bags, right?”

She pulled her dress on and smoothed the waist. She’d had enough now. She wanted out. Of everything. “I misjudged you, Rob. They’re still human beings.”

“No, they ain’t. Anyway, what are the chances?”

“I don’t want to think about it.”

He picked up the telephone. “Is that reception? Hi, yeah … Room …”

“Fourteen,” Jilly said.

“Fourteen. Could you get a taxi pronto for me and the shorty? And fetch us the bill for the room? … Yeah, we’re leaving … Yeah, all good things have to come to an end sooner or later … Yeah, we’re disappointed too.” He put his hand over the receiver. “She knows us,” he told Jilly. “It’ll be her that told the reporters.”


He put the phone down. “About fifteen minutes. Get your face on, gorgeous.”

“I’m not waiting for her taxi to come, Rob. Not if she’s with them. I’ll get my own. There’s a rank down the road. Come on.”

“What about your make-up?”

She rammed a pair of sunglasses on and picked up her travel bag. He followed her downstairs. They didn’t stop at reception. Rob reached into his wallet, pulled out four fifties and thrust them at Mrs whatever-she-was-called, the proprietress. “Keep the change.”

Suddenly, they were out on the street. Paparazzi to their right, shouting Jilly. Jilly take off your shades, Jilly flick your hair, Jilly wave, Jilly smile, Jilly stop, who’s that with Jilly, that’s Rob from Simply Boyz, Rob give us a smile, Rob –

She took off her glasses, grabbed Rob’s hand and turned left and accelerated. She almost changed direction. There was a loud crack and she jumped like she’d been hit.

Behind them, the paparazzi roared. One of them – a photographer, about twenty-five - lay prostrate and bloody. Four others photographed him, ten or twelve were in full flight, one was trying to get a signal on his mobile. No one was interested in Jilly and Rob any more.

Rob looked at them then at her. “Oh, my God. Oh, my God.”

Jilly started screaming.
Tales of MI7

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Genre – Espionage Thriller
Rating – PG
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Nuns & Their Favourite Movies by Bryan Taylor (The Three Sisters) #Humor #AmReading

To celebrate the release of the book, The Three Sisters, I asked each of the three sisters to tell me what were their three favorite movies with nuns in them were, and then which movie they jointly chose as their favorite “nun” movie of all time.
Regina Grant: Since I like classic Hollywood films, I chose The Singing Nun (1966), Come to the Stable (1949), and Heaven Knows Mr. Allison (1957).  The Singing Nun is my favorite of the three.  It’s lots of fun in a mindless way, and Debbie Reynolds as engaging as ever.  You can’t help but like the movie, even if it is pure fiction. The nun it was based upon, Soeur Sourire, committed suicide 20 years after the film was made, after a life of financial difficulties. Come to the Stable was written by Clare Booth Luce who also wrote The Women.  It’s an engaging film in which some irreligious people help the sisters build a children’s hospital showing the spiritual and secular can work together. Heaven Knows Mr. Allison is set during World War II on an island in the Pacific, and is about a castaway marine who falls for a stranded nun. They work together to avoid the Japanese when they arrive on the island.  It is quite an engaging drama.
Theodora Suora: I prefer the more intellectually challenging films, so I chose Doubt (2008), Black Narcissus (1947) and Dead Man Walking (1995).  Doubt is my favorite of the three.  The first time you see it, you are inclined to view it from Sister Aloysius Beauvier’s point of view, but if you watch it from Father Brendan Flynn’s point of view, you’ll see his view makes just as much sense as hers, whence the doubt.  Black Narcissus is about a community of nuns who try to establish a civilized community in the Himalayas in the former bordello of a Rajah. It is wonderfully photographed and each of the characters is finely drawn. Dead Man Walking takes on the difficult subject of the death penalty and handles it with poignancy. Both Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn give wonderful performances.
Coito Gott: Since Theodora always tells me what a rebel I am, I didn’t want to disappoint her, and I chose Viridiana (1961), La Religieuse (1966) and Lilies of the Field (1963).  Viridiana is Bunuel’s take on what happens when an idealistic nuns meets the real world.  With some interesting twists and turns, she ends up helping the poor in ways she never would have if she had stayed in the convent. La Religieuse is based upon Diderot’s novel, perhaps a bit modernized, perhaps a bit slow, but nicely done. Anna Karina is wonderful as always.  Lilies of the Field is fun as you watch the sisters manipulate Sidney Poitier to get him to help them build a new chapel. After all, nuns are irresistible, aren’t they?
And which movie did we all choose as the best movie about nuns?  The Trouble With Angels, of course.  There is a certain charm to this movie that make it difficult to resist despite its silliness. It’s based upon the novel, Life with Mother Superior by Jane Trahey, and has enough rebellion and antics in it to keep you entertained. We’re sure anyone who went through Catholic School could identify with the two “angels” in the film.  The sequel, Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows is fun, but doesn’t work as well.  You can tell it was more of a creation of Hollywood to profit from the popularity of the first movie, but it is an interesting reflection of its time.
Of course, there are many others that didn’t make our list, but deserve an honorable mention. We decided not to include any nunsploitation films or movies that are only tangentially related to nuns.  The ones that didn’t quite make our list included Sister Act (more Whoopi Goldberg than nuns), The Bells of St. Mary’s (too saccharine), The Sound of Music (more about Nazis than nuns), Change of Habit (Elvis meets Mary Tyler Moore), The Nun’s Story (Audrey Hepburn is enjoyable, but the movie is slow), Agnes of God (good cast, too somber), Nasty Habits (Nuns meet Watergate, but lousy), The White Sister (entertaining but silent), The Devils (Ken Russell meets nuns), and of course, The Flying Nun TV Show (not a movie).
The one book which would make a really, really fabulous movie someday would be The Three Sisters, but if you can’t wait for the movie to come out, be sure and read the book.
Nuns just want to have fun! But when three former Catholic nuns have too much fun and get in trouble with the law, they become nuns on the run.
Driving back to Washington D.C. where they work at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Parts, the three sisters are arrested in Tennessee. After defeating the local deputy in strip poker, they escape from jail, and are pursued by the zealous Detective Schmuck Hole, who has personally offered a $10,000 reward for their capture on The 700 Club. Little do they know that when the three sisters visit the Washington Monument, their lives will change forever.
Set in 1979, The Three Sisters is a sacrilegious satire that skewers not only organized religion, but the government, the media, intellectuals, corporate greed and every other part of the establishment. Maybe not the greatest story ever told, but possibly the funniest.
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Genre – Humor, Satire, Catholicism, Politics
Rating – R
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Favourite Things In Life with #Author P.T. Macias @pt_macias #Suspense #AmReading

Ten of my favorite things
by PT Macias

My husband and family


Reading romance and paranormal books

Red, hot pink and white roses

Jewelry-keys and hearts with precious stones - diamonds, pearls, blue topaz, alexandrite, and aquamarine

Sexy High Heels Shoes, Cowboy boots


Perfume - Ralph, Pleasures, Romance



10 Things You Didn't Know About BEYOND NEANDERTHAL by @BrianB_Aust #Thriller #TBR

  1. Beyond Neanderthal  was written and published months before the Global Financial Crisis manifested, but in Chapter 1 it was made clear that a crisis was coming and why.
  2. The hilarious scene where Patrick tells Samantha about his experiences on the island of Skiathos actually happened to my wife, Denise and me when we were there on holidays – of course, the way Patrick told it was embellished with author’s license.
  3. The story’s insights into Muslim thought processes were partially facilitated by the fact that, for many years, I sat on the Board of Directors of a Muslim family owned business. It was franchisor of kebab stores and it brought me into direct contact with a diverse range of the family’s friends and business associates.
  4. The scene with Tara and Patrick flying through the Bermuda triangle describes reported physical results that were claimed to be demonstrated and photographed in laboratory experiments by a Canadian by the name of John Hutchison. Knowing about these experiments I scoured the internet looking for reports regarding the Bermuda Triangle and discovered that every one of Hutchison’s reported experiments had at least one matching story that had been reported by pilots who had flown through the Triangle.
  5. The house that Patrick and Tara stayed at in the Samana peninsular actually exists. I wrote to the owner of this holiday home and asked him about terms. The owner – who was an ex airline pilot living in France - was a great help in providing me with details of life in that area.
  6. A book called Noah’s Ark and the Ziusudra Epic , by Robert M Best, “presented itself” to me as if synchronously whilst I was writing Beyond Neanderthal. It offered a fascinating view of the Sumerian numbering system that existed at the time of Great Floods that geological research has validated occurred across the planet about 5,000 years ago. Using that numbering system – instead of the decimal system we have today – Best recalculated the ages of all the patriarchs from Noah and before him (including Methuselah) and recalculated the year in which Adam was supposedly born as 3,113 BCE; which happened to coincide exactly with the start date of the Mayan Calendar. I wrote to Best to ask about it and he had never heard of the Mayan Calendar. He said it was “a coincidence”.
  7. Speaking of coincidences, Beyond Neanderthal’s original name was “Blue Amber”. A friend and ex-mentor of Denise’s in matters relating to “The Higher Self” had suggested I let my proposed novel be about Blue Amber. I had never heard of Blue Amber and only after I started researching it did the idea of the Bermuda Triangle come to me. As I already had an interest in “alternative energies” I saw how I would be able to craft a story that encompassed both subjects. Philosophical ruminations in my younger years presented me with tangential ideas, and the storyline evolved with other “coincidences” manifesting along the way.
  8. Denise was convinced that when I was “in the zone” of writing, I was actually connecting to my Higher Self. I don’t fully understand these things but I mention this because ideas just seemed to flow when I was in the zone. When that happened – which didn’t happen often, but often enough to be remarkable – it was almost as if I was channelling information.
  9. I knew that a particular scene was good if it “felt” right. Often I had to rewrite a scene more than once to achieve this outcome. Some parts of the book were written only once whilst others were written and re-written several times.
  10. My editor taught me a trick when she was editing the book. When I presented her with the completed manuscript she told me to go through it and highlight the entire manuscript in three colours: “Red” for what had to stay in the storyline on a not negotiable basis, “Orange” for what would be nice to have but not essential, and “Green” for stuff that, if was deleted, I wouldn’t even care. That enabled both me and her to see what was important from a reader’s perspective and made the job of editing much easier. She concentrated on making damned sure that the Red highlighted information was attractive and easy to read and she checked punctuation and sentence structure in the orange colour, often coming up with creative ideas for a scene. Green highlighted wording was treated with less microscopic attention and much of it was deleted.

Beyond Neanderthal
There is an energy force in the world—known to the Ancients—that has largely escaped the interest of the modern day world. Why? There are allusions to this energy in the Chinese I-Ching, in the Hebrew Torah, in the Christian Bible, in the Hindu Sanskrit Ramayana and in the Muslim Holy Qur'an. Its force is strongest within the Earth's magnetic triangles.
Near one of these--the Bermuda Triangle--circumstances bring together four very different people. Patrick Gallagher is a mining engineer searching for a viable alternative to fossil fuels; Tara Geoffrey, an airline pilot on holidays in the Caribbean; Yehuda Rosenberg, a physicist preoccupied with ancient history; and Mehmet Kuhl, a minerals broker, a Sufi Muslim with an unusual past. Can they unravel the secrets of the Ancients that may also hold the answer to the future of civilization?
About the Author:
In 1987, Brian and his young family migrated from South Africa to Australia where he was employed in Citicorp’s Venture Capital division. He was expecting that Natural Gas would become the world’s next energy paradigm but, surprisingly, it was slow in coming. He then became conscious of the raw power of self-serving vested interests to trump what – from an ethical perspective – should have been society’s greater interests.
Eventually, in 2005, with encouragement from his long suffering wife, Denise, he decided to do something about what he was witnessing: Beyond Neanderthal was the result; The Last Finesse is the prequel.
The Last Finesse is Brian’s second factional novel. Both were written for the simultaneous entertainment and invigoration of the thinking element of society. It is a prequel to Beyond Neanderthal, which takes a visionary view of humanity’s future, provided we can sublimate our Neanderthal drive to entrench pecking orders in society. The Last Finesse is more “now” oriented. Together, these two books reflect a holistic, right brain/left brain view of the challenges faced by humanity; and how we might meet them. All our problems – including the mountain of debt that casts its shadow over the world’s wallowing economy – are soluble.
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Genre – Thriller
Rating – MA (15+)
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The Latecomers Fan Club by Diane V. Mulligan @Mulligan_writes #Excerpt #Fiction #Women



Abby had to work on New Year’s Eve. She didn’t know if she felt worse for the sad sacks who would be ringing in the new year in the dumpiest bar in town or herself for working there. It didn’t help that she hadn’t been feeling well for the past week or so. All she wanted to do was sleep. She had no idea how she was going to stay on her feet all night. Bill, the idiot owner, had decided that they would have a Mardi Gras theme for New Year’s. Did he not understand that Mardi Gras already had a place in the calendar?

In her tiny, dark bedroom, she dug her “party” clothes out of the plastic bin under her bed. She cursed the pea-soup green carpet as the bin snagged when she tried to shove it back into place. She was sick of the cramped apartment with its stained rugs, peeling vinyl floor, and fake wood paneling.

Black halter-top, a short black skirt, and a handful of plastic Mardi Gras beads. It felt good to get dressed up, even if her destination wasn’t anything special. Her eye makeup made her look more awake than she felt. She was zipping up her boots when her cell phone rang.

“Hey, you gonna swing by later?” she asked, cradling the phone between her ear and her shoulder and tossing a few things into her purse. She had this nagging feeling that she was forgetting something. She’d felt that way for most of the past week.

“I don’t know, babe,” Nathaniel said. “My plans are still a little shaky.”

“Seriously? I thought we were at least going to have midnight together.” Abby pulled a big hoodie over her skimpy bar clothes and slid her down jacket over that. However hot it was going to be in the bar, the weatherman promised that it was going to be one of Boston’s coldest New Year’s Eves on record.

“It’s not that I don’t want to see you, but the Watering Hole isn’t exactly my favorite place.”
Abby tucked her long brown hair into the collar of her jacket and put a knit cap on her head. “I thought your favorite place was wherever I am.”

“Yeah, because that cutesy shit always works on me,” Nathaniel said.

“Tell me again about the hopeless romantic you used to be.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”

It wasn’t okay, but she wasn’t in the mood for a fight. She knew what Breanna would say if she were here. You deserve better, Abby. “What are you doing tonight?”

“Zack’s having some people over. I think I’ll just stay out there.”

Even a house party west of Worcester trumps a night at metro-Boston’s finest, Abby thought. “Who’s gonna be there?” she asked.

“The usual suspects, I’m sure. Nobody you know.”

Of course not, Abby thought, stepping out into the cold, because you never invite me. “Well, have fun,” she said, the icy air biting her nose.

“Yeah, you, too, kiddo.”

Abby hated when he called her kiddo. She hung up the phone.

It was a short walk to the bar, but long enough that Abby’s fingers and toes were frozen by the time she got there. Bill shouted at her to shut the door before she let all the cold air in. Abby rolled her eyes. She slipped into the little office at the back of the bar and reluctantly took off her warm outer layers. A few wardrobe adjustments, a swipe of lip gloss, and she walked out to the bar. She brushed past the low tables with their scratched Formica tops and chairs whose torn vinyl seats were patched with duct tape. No wonder no one ever sat down in them. The overhead lights glared down on the sticky, shellacked counter. The drop ceiling was gray and dingy from years of cigarette smoke. Smoking had been banned indoors for at least ten years, but Bill would never bother to spend money to make the place a little more welcoming.

“Beautiful, doll,” Bill said, looking her up and down. He was setting up the sound equipment on the small stage against the back wall.

“Who’s on tonight?” Abby asked.

“You, Kate, Jason—”

“No, who’s the entertainment?”

“Those college boys. What do they call themselves? Timbuck Blue?”

It was hard to believe that was the best entertainment Bill could come up with for New Year’s Eve, and even harder to understand how those hipsters would contribute to a Mardi Gras theme. Bill probably wasn’t paying them. Abby noted the baskets of beads behind the bar. She wondered if Bill had any other theme items or if he was just hoping drunk girls would show off their tits. And by girls she meant the middle-aged women who were among the regulars, because there weren’t likely to be many girls present, unless Timbuck Blue had managed to find some groupies since their last appearance.

Nathaniel’s band, the Latecomers, would have been a far better choice. They played crowd favorites, and they could do jazzy tunes to create a New Orleans mood, but the Latecomers hadn’t played at the Watering Hole for three years. 

They used to be a regular part of the lineup. That’s how Abby and Nathaniel met. Abby had just gotten the job. Bill said he had a gap in the schedule on Tuesday nights and he’d like Abby to fill it. Abby had arrived for her first shift prepared for a slow night. Being a weeknight, she figured there’d be a few regulars, lonely drunks who’d expect her to listen to their tales of woe and to make sure that the TV was set to ESPN. When a balding, middle-aged guy with a beer belly came in and began setting up speakers and microphones, Abby had no idea what was going on.

When he was done setting up, he came over to the bar and ordered a gin and tonic, heavy on the gin. 

“Hope you like music,” he said.

What kind of person doesn’t like music? she had wondered. She preferred classic rock and country, something with solid lyrics and nice harmonies, but she could enjoy almost any live music.

“I’m Johnny, by the way,” he said, extending his hand.

Johnny took his drink to a table in the back of the bar and set up an easel with a newsprint tablet that said “Open Mic” with times listed for people to sign up. Abby couldn’t imagine any of the grizzled guys at the bar crooning out tunes. She wondered who was going to be performing and what style of music she could expect. Still, she reasoned, whatever it is, it mustn’t be great. Live music should draw people in, but Bill had specifically warned her not to expect much by way of tips.

After a while guys with guitars began trickling in. The aspiring musicians had a median age of forty-five, Abby guessed, and as a group they were in need of a shower and a shave. A few of the old-timers who had been warming barstools settled their tabs and headed for the door as Johnny introduced the first act of the night. Not a good sign.

When the third act, a heavy man with greasy hair and a beat up classical guitar, was half way through his rendition of “Feliz Navidad” (in the middle of July), Abby understood why Bill had a gap on Tuesdays. She watched the performer for a minute and then turned back to the bar. She noticed a new patron near the back wall.

He had dirty blond hair, blue eyes, and dimples when he smiled. He was, by far, the youngest customer of the evening. Abby guessed he was about thirty. She noticed the guitar case leaning against the wall behind him.

When she asked what he was drinking, he produced some wrinkled bills and a few coins from his pocket. He asked her to stretch that as far as it would go. He grimaced at the Bud she brought him, but he drank it and two more after it. She would have asked him about his act, but she was working alone and had to attend to other customers. 

Johnny flagged her down for two shots of whiskey. Abby gave him the glasses and watched him walk over to the stage and set one on the stool beside Mr. Christmas-in-July. Abby didn’t think the whiskey would help him much.

The music did get better as the night went on. A duo of middle-aged guys in jean shorts and work boots sang some nice harmonies, and a short, professorial-looking man played several complicated instrumental pieces on a twelve string. Finally, Dimples and his band got up to play. They were the last act of the night.

“We’re the Latecomers,” Dimples said, as he tuned his guitar. “That’s Charlie on bass, Jeff on keyboards, and I’m Nathaniel.”

Each week, the Latecomers closed out the open mic with an hour set (unlike the others who got three songs each), and each week, Abby served Nathaniel his succession of Buds.

After a month or so, impressed that she had lasted so long, Nathaniel finally introduced himself properly. Abby had never met a Nathaniel who didn’t shorten his name, and she made the mistake of calling him Nate, but he pointedly corrected her. Later, Abby learned that he was named after his father, who went by Nate, as Nathaniel had as a child. Once he was in college, he chose to distinguish himself from his father as much as possible, so he insisted his friends call him by his full name.

After their official introductions, he offered to play a special request, and she asked for a Beatles song, it didn’t matter what one. Their second number that night, “Baby You Can Drive My Car,” was dedicated to her. 

Later, when she picked up the tip Nathaniel left her, she found a scrap of paper with his phone number tucked under the dollar bill. When she got home and told Breanna, she shook her head at Abby and said, “But he’s the guy who can barely afford a Bud.”

Abby probably should have listened to Breanna, but he was a musician, and she had a soft spot for cute musicians. Although she couldn’t carry a tune if her life depended on it, she loved music, and she was fascinated by people who made it. Every crush she’d had in high school had been a guitar-toting dreamer, and she was always dragging her friends to the summer concerts at the ski area near her parents’ New Hampshire home. Peter Frampton, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Boston—bands long past their prime who put on cheap shows under the stars. You could get lawn seats for twenty bucks and spend the entire night soaking up the music, imagining what it would have been like to see those bands when they were still the hot ticket in town. Other girls could have the jocks. She wanted a guy who could sing her a love song. 

Besides, he had offered her his phone number, not a marriage proposal. At the time, at the hopeless age of twenty-three, she’d been living in Somerville for a year and, despite the large numbers of available men purportedly in the greater Boston area, she’d gone out with only two guys, neither of whom made it to a second date. It couldn’t hurt to give this handsome, dimpled musician a try.
And four years later, he still never had more than ten bucks in his wallet, the Latecomers had fallen apart, and marriage still wasn’t part of the conversation. Breanna was right: She was a fool.

The Latecomers Fan Club
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Genre – Women’s Literature
Rating – PG-13
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"The Forgotten Child is an Amazing #Book" @LEckhart #Excerpt #Romance

Okay here we go. She’d expected an attack. He was really good at twisting things to his way of thinking. This man she married, at one time loved, had become an unwelcome stranger. “I think it has to do with no communication,” Emily rebutted. “The only time I know what’s new with you, is when I overhear you on the phone. You know… those nightly conversations with your mother. And come to think of it, that’s part of the problem. The only relationship you have is with your mother. And it’s just plain weird. You’re not a child. Grow up. It’s disturbing that you talk to her about what’s going on in your life, and not me. If you were being honest with yourself, you’d admit you’ve made no attempt to have a relationship with me. And I’ve ignored how you’ve treated me for years.”
Emily held up the flat of her trembling hand, unable to stop her mouth from spewing everything she’d suppressed for so long. She continued, “You’ve always had this strange relationship with your mom. What’s really sick, is I’ve had to stoop to eavesdropping when you’re on the phone with her. Just to find out your latest news. A vacation you’re planning with friends of yours. A new job you’re applying for in Seattle. Taking a few courses at night school. Don’t you think that as your wife I have a right to know about these things?”
He dumped his coffee down the sink. His face hardened into someone she didn’t know. “It wasn’t as if I was hiding it from you, but you’re sure happy to launch a war with my family. You could have just asked.”
Emily shut her eyes and let out a heavy sigh. Katy would be awake soon, and Bob needed to leave for work. “This is going nowhere,” she said. “I’m not going to keep fighting with you. I’d like you to move out. Take whatever you want.”
He didn’t answer her. What he did instead was grab his coat and storm out the door, slamming it behind him hard enough to rattle the double-pane windows. But apparently he wasn’t done with his temper tantrum, because he followed up by gunning the engine of their two-door rusted Cavalier, the tires squealing down the driveway. In her room, Katy screamed. Across the street, lights came on in the front window of the Hanson’s house. Great. She’d need to apologize now, for Bob disturbing them before six a.m. with his irresponsible behavior.
Emily raced down the hall to comfort her daughter, furious at Bob for yet another mess he’d created for her to clean up. Except this time, it didn’t stick—the mad, that is. With the words finally out of her, Emily felt the dark, oppressive weight lifting from her back, leaving her with a light peaceful feeling flowing through her body. You know, the feeling you get when you know you’ve finally done the right thing. Even though she had no money, no job, a child, and no idea how she’d make ends meet... still, the right thing. A dismal sounding outcome but, for the first time in years, Emily Nelson felt the sun shoot out a powerful ray of hope.

 Lorhainne Eckhart
How do you tell a man there is something wrong with his child?
This is by far one of the best books I have read. Lorhainne Eckhart proved herself yet again  by pulling you in with a heartfelt story and keeping your attention with the passion that fills   the pages. ROMANCE JUNKIES
A Real Tear Jerker: Omg, I loved this book. I stayed up all night trying to finish it. I cried,  My heart broke, I have an 18 year old with autism. This would make a fabulous movie...  Tammy
He wasn't looking to love again. But what he got was a woman who shook his lonely bitter world upside down, and touched him in a way no other woman could.
Emily Nelson, a courageous young mother, ends a loveless, bitter marriage and strikes out on her own. She answers an ad as a cook and live-in caregiver to a three-year-old boy on a local ranch. Ranch owner Brad Friessen hires and moves in Emily and her daughter. But Emily soon discovers something's seriously wrong with the boy, and the reclusive, difficult man who hired her can't see the behavior and how delayed his son is. So Emily researches until she stumbles across what she suspects are the soft signs of autism. Now she must tell him, give him hope, and help him come to terms with this neurological disorder--to take the necessary steps to get his child the help he needs.
As their lives become intertwined, their attraction is unavoidable--a connection sparks between them. But just as they're getting close, Brad's estranged wife, Crystal, returns after abandoning the family two years earlier. Among the shock and confusion is one disturbing question Brad can't shake: How does Crystal know so much of his personal business, the inner working of the ranch, and Emily's relationship with his son?
Crystal must've had a plan, as she somehow gains the upper hand, driving a wedge in the emotional bond forged between Brad, Emily, and the children. The primary focus for care and therapy of three-year-old Trevor is diverted. The lengths to which Crystal will go, the lies, the greed, just to keep what's hers, are nothing short of cold and calculating. Emily's forced out of the house. Brad fights to save his boy, to protect what's his, and struggles over his greatest sacrifice--Emily, and the haunting question: Has he lost her forever?
More Praise for THE FORGOTTEN CHILD...
"Brilliant, there is no other word for it, heart grabbing, heart warming, gut wrenching, well written well researched, wanted to read it over & over again." Amazon Reviewer – Maureen
BLACK RAVEN'S REVIEWS - Ms. Eckhart has crafted a delightful story with engaging  characters, enough drama for a Hallmark movie, and enough unconditional love to last a lifetime.  ~Rated 5 Ravens and a Recommended Read by AJ!~ 
READERS FAVORITE *5 Star Review A real page turner ~ fast moving plot ~ a must read!
Reviewed by Brenda C. For Readers Favorite
I didn't expect I'd fall for the four main characters as hard as I did, but The Forgotten Child is an amazing book, not just for a romance fan like myself, but for single parents who may or  may not have a child with autism. ~ Reviewer ~ Adria
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Genre – Contemporary Western Romance
Rating – PG
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