Book Features, Giveaways

Sneak Peek of Hot House by Lisa Towles


A classy, dark green Land Rover, maybe ten years old, the kind you’d see in an REI magazine ad, pulled into the dirt lot, out of place in this part of LA’s Fashion District. I squinted and rolled in the binoculars a quarter slide and lingered behind the dusty blinds of the tiny window knowing the neighborhood would (or should, I hoped) raise questions.

A man climbed down from the awkward height of the car and stretched his sixfoot-three, maybe four, frame and took in the questionable surroundings. It’s not much, buddy, I know. I have my reasons. I stirred three sugars into a clean mug of fresh coffee while I watched him approach the unsightly door of my work-trailer. I could see the wheels turning. I pre-empted our first encounter and jerked open the door with a thrust that activated the almost daily pain in my shoulder.

“Of course this is it, it’s the only door in the building.” I smiled at the wise, untrusting face and well-tailored suit jacket. A nice surprise.

A perfunctory glance at my chest, then the coffee, and his hand extended like a lever. “Derek Abernathy.”

Unmistakable Beantown accent. Light hair, gap-toothed smile—I always liked that—bad skin, and earnest green eyes. My mother would say drug use from the bad skin, and she thought gap-teeth were indicators of a big heart. I’m usually wrong about first impressions. We’ll see.

“Come in.” I moved to the dingy, fake leather sofa, passed him the cup, and motioned him to one of the almost-matching chairs. He sipped, I saw a half-smile, but he caught it quick enough, then another sip. “Nice place you got here.” He looked around. A smart ass, good. A useful trait.

“Let’s say the location is…advantageous,” I said of my dingy work-office on East 8th between Downtown LA and the Fashion District. It was the hood, if there ever was one.

The eyes widened and glanced left and right. “For what exactly?”

Really? He didn’t get it? I know, I dragged him out to this forsaken place through my cryptic Craigslist ad that read, “Business Partner needed for human behavior research.”

I pointed east. “Next door is an importer/exporter specializing in Asian swords; down the hall they make fake IDs, passports, driver’s licenses; and on the north side’s a travel agent that books Hawaiian Zodiac trips.”

“Oceanfront property in Arizona?”

I tried not to, but I let a crack of a smile slip through. I liked him. “Something like that.”

“Couple meth dealers and you got yourself a party.”

Derek Abernathy, I said his name to myself over and over.

“You haven’t told me your name yet, Miss…Ms…Mrs…”


He nodded, like he’d categorized me into a certain something. “Mari-what?”

“E. Mari E. That’s my name.”

 “Are you, like, a rapper?”

Now I was the coy one, folding my arms, sliding deeper into the couch, which pinched something in my shoulder.

“All right, fine. How’d you know I like Sweet’n Low?” he asked with an attitude now that wasn’t there a minute ago. “And not only that but three. Where do you even buy that shit nowadays?”

“I’m a private investigator, Mr. Abernathy. It’s my job to know stuff about the people I work with.”

“Oh, is that what we’re doing? Working?” He didn’t hide that he was both amused and flattered.

 “This is a conversation,” I clarified.

“What do you need me for?” he asked, emphasis on the me. “You seem to know about me already.”

I watched him squirm in the chair fumbling with a part of his sport coat he’d accidentally sat on. “Some,” I admitted, “but not all salient facts can be found on the internet. Some are found when looking through… your garbage…”

“You didn’t.”

“Talking to your landlady.” I cracked up now, couldn’t help it. “Your paper boy.”

“As in newspaper? What century are you from? And I own my home, for like two decades.”

“I know, and in a much nicer neighborhood than this.”

He wriggled out of the jacket now, folded it, and laid it neatly on his lap, then his elbow nearly tanked the coffee on the side table, catching it just in time. I stifled a laugh.

“Silver Lake’s okay, a little too hipster for me. Too many funky coffeeshops with bad art on the walls.”

 “Are you an art aficionado?”

A sardonic snort and his eyes widened. “Let’s say I know what’s good and what’s not.”

Omigod, I thought, but held my reaction in check. “Look, we’re both private investigators. What’s wrong with a little collaboration?”

He sat back and crossed his arms, waiting. Now it was my turn to perform, and I knew after one second’s meeting him that tight pants and a pushup bra wouldn’t get me far in this case.

“Mr. Abernathy,” I said pouring myself coffee, unsweetened, “you’re good at something I’m not. There’s a difference between locating someone who doesn’t want to be found and pulling them out. I’m good at research, damn good in fact. I’m a blood hound. What you’re good at, or so your reputation suggests, is the completion tactic. Drawing someone out, or ‘collecting’ as I call it, is one thing, but getting them to stay in one place long enough to identify them and make an arrest is another thing altogether, and with this clientele,” I looked around the room, “you better move fast.”

The man crossed his legs, pulled a pair of chic glasses from his front jacket pocket, and slid them on.

 “That’s a nice look for you,” I said in earnest.

“I’m sensing the pitch is coming and I want to see your face clearly.”

He was funny, and that alone was worth ignoring any less desirable traits. “I’m looking for a guy,” I said, and the face changed from one that frequently smiles to a worn-down groove of mistrust. “What?” I asked.

He rose, showing me again that he was taller than me. Damn. I’m a six-foot-tall woman so that’s significant. “Get yourself a bounty hunter then.”

“I need a partner, all right?” I replied, one click too loud. I drew in a breath and remembered the goal. “I need backup,” I revealed more gently, strategically unmoved from the couch and staring at the floor. “I’ve been watching you for weeks. I needed to be sure.”

“Of what?” Annoyed now. “And watching what specifically?”

“Just tailing you driving around town, down to Encinitas to a bar next to that hookah lounge. No serious breach of privacy occurred, I assure you.”

He slowly sat back down, shaking his head.

“All right, a blackmailer,” I admitted, purposely giving him the impression that he’d gotten something out of me.

“You’re the victim?” he asked.

“No, a federal judge.”

“Really.” Raised brow. “They hired you?”

“Sort of. It’s a family friend.”

“Well Miss E, by the looks of your trailer, I wouldn’t picture you having family friends in high places but I’ll take your word for it. So, the blackmailer witnessed a crime that this federal judge, your family friend, allegedly committed, and the judge wants you to find the blackmailer so we can…what exactly?”

I stood, grabbed my purse, my keys, turned off the coffee maker, and stood at the door.

“Wait. We’re done?” he asked.

“I’ll pay you five hundred dollars a day for every day that I need you,” I said and pulled out my iPhone. “I’m texting you now so you’ll have my mobile and I’ll message you tomorrow. Venmo okay? Or if you’re a dinosaur and prefer PayPal or cash, that can be arranged.”

“You’ve been following me for weeks, you’ve got my mobile number, my Gmail…what’s my mother’s name?”

“Doreen. Deceased. Sorry.” I made a lemon face.

“Don’t I need to, like, sign an employment contract, read your business conduct guidelines for proper office behavior, read your EEOC statement?”

I waved my hand and nudged him out the door while I locked it.

“Who’s your Human Resources Director?” he said, walking down the stairs.

“Oh, you’ll be meeting him tomorrow.”

He stopped and turned. “Really?”

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Abernathy, I’ll be in touch again shortly,” I replied and held out my hand. He was reading my face the way you read a legal document. “What?”

“My mother always warned me about tall women.”

“Always listen to your mother.”

Hot House

E&A Investigations Book 1

by Lisa Towles

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

Awarded FIRST PLACE WINNER of the 2022 Spring Book Awards by The Book Fest

Mystery / Murder & Crime Category

Private investigator Mari Ellwyn brings on a partner to investigate the blackmailing of a federal judge

When a former CIA operative and private investigator Mari Ellwyn starts digging into the blackmail case of a federal appellate judge, she becomes targeted by a van following her, threatening notes in her mailbox, and a breach of her home. Teaming up with seasoned investigator and former detective, Derek Abernathy, the crime-savvy pair begin looking into the wrongful death of a mentally-ill college student, Sophie Michaud, as well as two journalists – one dead, one missing, who were writing a story on the dead college student with allegations of her connection to the federal judge. The two investigators must uncover the truth about Sophie Michaud before her killer makes them their next target. But more importantly, Mari needs to find her missing father and reconcile her broken past and family.

Memorable characters make for a winsome, absorbing detective tale. – Kirkus Reviews

Towles does a fantastic job of pacing the storyline so that the reader hangs on to every clue as it is discovered. I recommend this for fans of crime fiction writers Baldacci, Slaughter, and Gardner. – San Francisco Book Review

It is no surprise that Towles has won recognition with numerous awards bestowed upon her work. The novel is masterfully crafted with well-defined characters and an engaging plot. Towles is a gifted writer with a real talent for building suspense. – US Review of Books

This meticulously constructed, remarkable mystery deftly explores people’s darkest flaws while revealing hard truths about the hidden workings of the world. A fast-paced and psychologically astute thriller. – Prairies Book Review

A dark, edge-of-the-seat thriller. Highly recommended! Chanticleer Reviews 5-Star Review

Buy Links
Add to Goodreads

Amazon * Apple * B&N * Kobo * Smashwords

Lisa Towles is an award-winning crime novelist and a passionate speaker on the topics of fiction writing, creativity, and Strategic Self Care. Lisa has eight crime novels in print, including Hot House, Ninety-Five, The Unseen, Choke, and under the name Lisa Polisar Escape, The Ghost of Mary Prairie, Blackwater Tango, and Knee Deep. Her next title, Salt Island, is the second book in her E&A thriller series and will be forthcoming in late 2022. Her thriller, Ninety-Five, was released in November 2021 and won a Literary Titan Award for Fiction. Her 2019 thriller, The Unseen, was the Winner of the 2020 NYC Big Book Award in Crime Fiction, and a Finalist in the Thriller category of the Best Book Awards by American Book Fest. Her 2017 thriller, Choke, won a 2017 IPA Award and a 2018 NYC Big Book Award for Thriller. Lisa is an active member and frequent panelist/speaker of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She has an MBA in IT Management and works fulltime in the tech industry in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Author Links

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * TikTok * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

Signed Paperback of Hot House (US only),

$20 Amazon giftcard (WW)

-1 winner each!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

Book Features, Giveaways

Book Spotlight: Blue Fire by John Gilstrap

Blue Fire

A Victoria Emerson Thriller Book 2

by John Gilstrap

Genre: Thriller, Suspense

John Gilstrap, the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Jonathan Grave novels, continues his acclaimed Victoria Emerson thriller series with Blue Fire.  In the wake of a global conflict that has devastated America, one woman must lead—and protect—a community of survivors determined to rebuild all they have lost . . .
They call it Hell Day—a world war that lasted less than twenty-four hours. Nations unleashed weapons that destroyed more than a century’s worth of technology. Electrical grids cannot generate power. Communications and computers cannot run. And the remnants of the U. S. government cannot be depended upon. Those who survived must live as their ancestors did, off a land ruled by the whims of nature.    
One-time congressional representative Victoria Emerson has become the new leader of the small town of Ortho, West Virginia. She has been struggling to provide food and shelter for the town’s inhabitants, while coping with desperate refugees. An autumn morning’s calm is shattered when her teenage son sounds the alarm with the cry “Blue Fire”—the code phrase for imminent danger.
A band of National Guardsmen intends to take Ortho and its resources for themselves. They have enough soldiers and firepower to eliminate anyone who dares to stop them. But Victoria swore an oath to defend and protect her people, and she isn’t about to surrender. It’s time to tap into the traditional American values of courage, ingenuity, and determination – and fight fire with fire.

Buy Links

Add to Goodreads

Amazon * Apple * B&N * Kensington * Kobo * BooksAMillion * BookShop

John Gilstrap is the New York Times bestselling author of award-winning action novels including the Jonathan Grave Thrillers and the Victoria Emerson Thrillers. A master of action-driven suspense, his books have been translated into more than 20 languages. He is the recipient of an International Thriller Writers’ Award for Against All Enemies, the ALA Alex Award for Nathan’s Run, and a two-time ITW Award finalist. A nationally recognized weaponry and explosives safety expert as well as a National Shooting Sports Foundation member, John Gilstrap frequently speaks at conferences, events, clubs, youth programs, and military bases. He is a former firefighter and EMT with a master’s degree in safety from the University of Southern California and a bachelor’s degree in history from the College of William and Mary in Virginia. John lives in Fairfax, Virginia.

Author Links

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

$10 Amazon

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

Book Features, Giveaways

Book Spotlight: That Night by Donna M. Zadunajsky

That Night

by Donna M. Zadunajsky

Genre: YA Thriller, Suspense

Senior Kat Palmer observes several of her classmates acting suspiciously on the first day back to school. Her boyfriend was one of them.

One night, she follows him out to Lemmon’s Park.

A fight breaks out and she hears a terrifying scream.

Four of the five classmates flee the area.

Kat goes looking for the fifth. All she finds is a shoe, an abandoned car, and a cell phone. What happened to the classmate who owned these things?

As Kat continues to search the woods, she is knocked unconscious. She wakes up in the hospital with no recollection of what had happened. As the days go by, she starts to remember bits and pieces of that night. She can’t rest until she knows what really happened to the missing classmate.

Kat drives back out to Lemmon’s Park, hoping to recall more of that night. But this time she finds a broken watch with an engraving on the back. How did her father’s watch end up at the scene? He’d told her that the watch had been stolen when someone broke into their home last week. Had he been there that night?

The more Kat investigates, the more secrets she uncovers. She finds out that even the ones closest to her aren’t who they pretend to be.

Goodreads * Amazon

Donna M. Zadunajsky started out writing children’s books before she accomplished and published her first novel, Broken Promises, in June 2012. She since has written several more novels and her first novella, HELP ME! Book 1 in the series, which is about teen suicide and bullying.

HELP ME!, won Awards in:
The Great Northwest Book Festival-Winner
Global EBook Awards- Gold Medal Winner
The Great Southeast Book Festival-Winner
IPA Award- Winner in Grief Category
Reader Views Awards- In 3 different categories:
*Children-Teen 12-16 year olds
*Children-Young Adult 16-18 years old
*Best Teen/YA Book of the Year
eLit Awards- Silver Winner

Talk To Me, Book 2 was a Finalist in the Author U unpublished contest, 2016.
IPA Award- Winner in Death and Dying

The author is available for speaking on the matters of teen suicide, bullying and for author events.

Author Links

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

$20 Amazon

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

Book Features, Giveaways

Sneak Peek of Beneath Black Water River by Leslie Wolfe


Malia wore a flower in her hair.
Not just any kind of flower; she’d gone through online shopping hell to get the plumeria blossom delivered to the hotel that morning, just in time for her planned trip to Blackwater River Falls. She’d paid a fortune for it, worth every cent. She wore the scented bloom over her left ear, a Hawaiian custom that told the entire world her heart was taken. By a twenty-seven-year-old, good-looking, and slightly awkward computer nerd from San Francisco named Tobias Grabowsky, who’d probably miss the symbolic meaning of the plumeria, and that was if he even noticed it in the first place.

She didn’t care. She still wanted the flower to be just right, her hair perfectly shiny, the scent of the petals surrounding her like a mist from heaven, bringer of love and good fortune. But she wished she could’ve worn something else for that special occasion. She cringed at the thought of being proposed to in cream-colored stretch shorts and a red tank top instead of a breezy, white, ruffled gown that bared her shoulders. But if Toby wanted to take her to Blackwater River Falls that morning, she had to pretend she didn’t know why and wear the appropriate attire for hiking.

But she knew, and the excitement had overwhelmed her since she’d first found the diamond ring in his jacket pocket.
She’d been worried about his strange behavior the night they’d arrived in Mount Chester. Soon after dinner, expertly served by a blond with cleavage so deep it should’ve been restricted to adult audiences only, she’d noticed that Toby kept touching his right pocket as if to make sure something precious was still in there, tucked safely. That pocket was where he’d shoved the change and check from dinner, and Malia feared that Miss Cleavage might’ve sneaked in her phone number. Anxious for the rest of the evening, Malia could barely wait to get back to their hotel room. There, she lingered with the patience of a hungry spider for Toby to get into the shower, then plunged her hand into the pocket and found it.
That 1-carat beauty was definitely not for Miss Boobs.

Before Toby had come out of the shower, she had her plan in place. She’d make sure it was one to remember, and even if she had to wear shorts, at least everything else would be perfect.
Blackwater River Falls was a one-hour hike from their hotel, climbing at a gentle rate on the western versant of Mount Chester through a stunningly beautiful, fall-tinged forest. As they gained elevation, oaks and maples gave way to a variety of pines and firs, their cones littering the paths. They held hands and hiked with enthusiasm, her impatience causing Toby to ask, “Why the rush?” a couple of times. She’d just smiled in response and slowed down a little, even stopped to press her lips against his for a quick moment, before rushing uphill again.

She looked beautiful, her hair drifting freely in the water, a small locket floating by her face, attached to her neck with a silver chain. Her red lips were gently parted, as if to let her final breath escape…

When Detective Kay Sharp first left Mount Chester—population 3,823—in her rear-view mirror, she promised never to look back. The town only contained bad memories and dark secrets. But when a brutal crime surfaces, she finds herself home once more, and this time she’s not going anywhere.

Kay is called to Blackwater River, where the body of a seventeen-year-old girl has been found. Surrounded by snowy peaks and a forest alive with the colors of fall, the victim floats in the water, a hand-carved locket around her neck.

The locket seems strangely familiar. Digging into cold cases, Kay discovers that three-year-old Rose Harrelson was wearing it when she vanished fourteen years ago. In the middle of the night, the little girl’s bedroom—with Mickey Mouse on the wall and a hanging baby mobile—was suddenly empty. The unsolved case still haunts the town.

But the teenager they have found has been dead for only a few hours. If the girl in the river is Rose, where has she been, and who has been hiding her all this time? If she is someone else, why is she wearing the locket, and what happened to the missing child from all those years ago?

Kay knows she must solve the kidnapping in order to untangle the mystery of the dead body. As she unearths a web of lies and deceit spun for decades, the close-knit community will never be the same. And Kay will find herself facing a truly terrifying killer…

A totally gripping page-turner that should come with a health warning! Be warned: you’ll lose sleep and your heart will race like crazy as you read twist after twist. Perfect for fans of Lisa Regan, Robert Dugoni and Kendra Elliot.

Goodreads * Amazon

Leslie Wolfe is a bestselling author whose novels break the mold of traditional thrillers. She creates unforgettable, brilliant, strong women heroes who deliver fast-paced, satisfying suspense, backed up by extensive background research in technology and psychology.
Leslie released the first novel, Executive, in October 2011. Since then, she has written many more, continuing to break down barriers of traditional thrillers. Her style of fast-paced suspense, backed up by extensive background research in technology and psychology, has made Leslie one of the most read authors in the genre and she has created an array of unforgettable, brilliant and strong women heroes along the way.
A recently released standalone and an addictive, heart-stopping psychological thriller, The Girl You Killed will appeal to fans of The UndoingThe Silent Patient, or Little Fires Everywhere. Reminiscent of the television drama Criminal Minds, her series of books featuring the fierce and relentless FBI Agent Tess Winnett would be of great interest to readers of James Patterson, Melinda Leigh, and David Baldacci crime thrillers. Fans of Kendra Elliot and Robert Dugoni suspenseful mysteries would love the Las Vegas Crime series, featuring the tension-filled relationship between Baxter and Holt. Finally, her Alex Hoffmann series of political and espionage action adventure will enthrall readers of Tom Clancy, Brad Thor, and Lee Child.

Leslie has received much acclaim for her work, including inquiries from Hollywood, and her books offer something that is different and tangible, with readers becoming invested in not only the main characters and plot but also with the ruthless minds of the killers she creates.
A complete list of Leslie’s titles is available at

Leslie enjoys engaging with readers every day and would love to hear from you. Become an insider: gain early access to previews of Leslie’s new novels.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the tourHEREfor special content and a giveaway!