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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Feature and Giveaway: She Can Series by Melinda Leight

One bad decision turned a single mom into a fugitive.

Ten months ago, Elizabeth Baker uncovered a dangerous secret about her politician husband—a secret that nearly got her killed. Now she and her children are running for their lives. When Beth is hired as the caretaker of a remote Pennsylvania estate, she dares to hope she has found a corner of the world where Congressman Richard Baker can’t find them. But when her new boss dies suddenly and his nephew inherits the estate, Beth is faced with outwitting a former homicide detective who is very smart, very suspicious—and very attractive.

Forced into retirement by an injury and grieving the loss of his uncle, Jack O’Malley is unprepared to share his new home with a strange woman and her two kids. He is even less prepared for the instantaneous attraction he feels whenever Beth enters the room. She is beautiful, intelligent, kind…and obviously terrified of someone or something. As Jack’s investigation uncovers the shocking details of Beth’s past, the rural community is shaken by the murder of a local woman Driven by instinct and desire, Jack is determined to keep Beth and her children safe, even if doing so means putting his heart—and his life —on the line.

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble |

A horse trainer’s homecoming turns deadly when a vicious stalker, a cold murder case, and a hot police chief threaten to expose family secrets that a killer wants to keep buried.

After a terrible accident ends her riding career, horse trainer Rachel Parker returns to her hometown to a hostile welcome. Her efforts to rebuild the family farm are hampered by her sister’s domestic crisis and a violent vandal who threatens Rachel’s new business and her life. She is also blindsided by the undeniable and unwanted attraction she feels for hot police chief handling her case. Someone is systematically trying to destroy her. Someone who knows private things about her. Someone who’s been watching her…

As his investigation uncovers the turbulent past Rachel keeps carefully hidden, Police Chief Mike O’Connell finds himself with too many suspects and too many feelings for his fiercely independent victim. His desire for Rachel is a conflict of interest that jeopardizes everything he stands for. Long buried family secrets, a skeleton, and a corrupt local official with a grudge against Mike complicate the case, but the escalating violence against Rachel convinces him he doesn’t have much time. Whoever is watching Rachel wants her dead. Mike and Rachel race to untangle a web of deceit and lies that stretches twenty-five years into the past—before her stalker strikes again.

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble |

SHE CAN TELL by Melinda Leigh

Twenty-five years ago

He liked to watch.

To see the secret, private things people did when they thought they were alone.

From the moonshadow of an evergreen, he stared across the weedy backyard at the dilapidated rancher.

Harry was inside. The Watcher’s breath steamed out into the crisp winter air. Twenty yards of crabgrass was all that separated him from retribution.

Harry had to die.

It was the only way to make things right.

Impulsive responses, while satisfying, were rarely successful in the long term. Discipline was the key. He’d buried his rage and weighed all the options. Harry’s life against his actions. His future against the impact of what he’d done. Ultimately, it was what Harry intended to do that made the difference.

Don’t worry. Just come with me. I’ll take care of you. I promise.

An hour of standing on the frozen ground, waiting for the house to go quiet and dark, had left the Watcher’s toes with a numb ache. Fiery tingles shot through the balls of his feet as he crept toward a dark window cracked an inch for ventilation. The ground was too frozen for his boots to leave prints, but the crunch of dead grass echoed in the otherwise silent night. He crouched under the window, then peered over the sill.

No sound. No light. No movement. He raised the sash and climbed through into the living room. Lacquer fumes and sawdust stung his nostrils. Heat rattled from a baseboard register as the aged furnace tried to raise the temperature above meat locker.

The Watcher had never been in Harry’s house, though the carpenter had invited him over a few times to watch hockey games. They were both Flyers fans. They had other things in common, too, but they wouldn’t be friends. Not ever. Not after what the Watcher had seen—and what he’d heard—the other night.

Don’t worry. Just come with me. I’ll take care of you. I promise.

Betrayal sliced into him like the drop point of his knife through a deer’s belly.

Silver moonlight gleamed through bare windows. In the far corner, a drop cloth shrouded a battered recliner.

The gutted house had a hollow, unfinished feel that matched the empty space in the middle of his chest.

The house was in mid-renovation. Harry planned to flip it in the spring. The oak floor in the living room had been sanded down to raw wood, but the kitchen was still old and ugly. On the worn vinyl tiles, a four-by-eight sheet of plywood spanned two sawhorses as a makeshift table. The Watcher scanned the assortment of woodworking supplies. Flammable liquids. Newspapers. Rags. Check.

It was a small house with a simple floor plan. Living room, kitchen, and dining area grouped at one end. A short hall led to the single bath and three tiny bedrooms. The door to the master was ajar. He touched it with one finger, and it swung open a few more inches. Single guys don’t think much about things like curtains. Enough moonlight filtered through the blinds to see Harry sprawled on his back under a thick comforter, one arm thrown over his head, snoring. His posture was childlike. Innocent.

The guy was anything but. Anger, hot and sour, rose into the back of the Watcher’s throat. He swallowed, backed away, and clenched his freezing knuckles until they screamed. The pain focused him. He drew a chilling, chemical-laden breath into his nose and exhaled slowly. In the kitchen, he stretched a hand to the ceiling and disconnected the 9-volt in the smoke alarm. He moved to the sawhorse table. Paint thinner would do the job.

“What’re you doing?”

He whirled. Harry shivered bare-chested in the doorway, hands tucked under crossed arms, face wrinkled with sleepy confusion. The prelude to a middle-aged paunch hung over his low-riding sweats. Now what?

Harry was awake. The plan was fucked.

The Watcher bowed his head to hide his eyes. They burned with frustration. Couldn’t let Harry see. The Watcher needed to say something. Something to throw Harry off. Something that would make him comfortable with a middle-of-the-night intruder.

“I need some help, Harry.” The plea choked him on its way out. His fingers crawled past the matches in his pocket to his hunting knife. He palmed the weapon alongside the back of his thigh, out of Harry’s line of sight, and opened the blade one-handed. “I’m sorry for scaring you.”

The Watcher knew he should wait it out. Come back another time with another plan. His arm even contracted to return the knife to his pocket.

“It’s OK. You’re always welcome here.” Harry was a sap. He stepped closer, rested a cold hand on the Watcher’s shoulder, and gave it a compassionate squeeze. “Let me get a sweatshirt. Then we can talk.”

The sympathetic touch and gentle words short-circuited something in the Watcher’s brain. Harry’s voice played in his head again.

Don’t worry. Just come with me. I’ll take care of you. I promise.

The Watcher’s vision went red. He lunged at the carpenter. The knifepoint pierced Harry’s belly. Blood seeped around the hilt and ran hot over frozen-stiff fingers. He yanked upward, as if gutting a deer, splitting Harry open from navel to breastbone with a moist rip. The Watcher wriggled the knife loose and stepped back. The frigid air filled with the metallic, raw scents of blood and freshly slaughtered game. Harry’s eyes bugged. His hands clutched his belly as if to keep his insides…well, inside.

“Why?” Blood gurgled from his open lips as his body went limp, sliding to the floor as if the bones had melted.

At the Watcher’s feet, dark liquid spread in a thick puddle on the raw wood. He stepped back before it reached his shoes. Sweat dripped down his back, and his heart knocked around his chest like a pinball.

Harry was supposed to die in the fire. There’s no way anyone would think this was an accident. Now what?

The house was a mile outside town. No other buildings in sight. How long would the place burn before the fire department arrived? Would the fire destroy the body? Too many unanswered questions.

Harry’s limbs twitched and went still. His torso deflated; gray eyes glassed over.

The Watcher whipped the canvas drop cloth from the recliner and spread it out on the floor. At five-foot-nine, Harry was smaller than the big buck the Watcher had bagged last autumn, but dead limbs flopped and tangled as he rolled everything in the cloth, deli-wrap style. He dragged the body to the back door. After covering the kitchen floor with lacquer, newspapers, and rags, he tossed a lit match into the center. Fire sprinted across the hardwood with a whoosh. He flipped up his hood and hauled the bundle out. Using the three-foot elevation of the back stoop, he squatted and heaved the body onto his shoulders. He wasn’t small, but he staggered under the dead weight. Brittle-cold air and smoke clogged his lungs as he stumbled for the detached garage behind the house.

Discipline was the key. Lesson learned. He wouldn’t forget it again.

But at that moment, all he could think about was how to make Harry disappear.

Melinda Leigh is a fully recovered banker. A life-long lover of books, she started writing when her youngest child entered first grade as a way to preserve her sanity. in 2007, she joined Romance Writers of America, learned a few things about writing a book, and decided the process was way more fun than analyzing financial statements. It was time to get serious about making her hobby a career. She began submitting her work in 2008. In 2009 she signed with an agent, who sold Melinda’s debut romantic suspense novel, SHE CAN RUN, in 2010 to Montlake Romance.

SHE CAN RUN released in November 2011 and became the #1 Bestseller in Kindle Romantic Suspense. SHE CAN RUN has been nominated for a 2012 Thriller Award for Best First Novel.

Melinda is also an avid martial artist. She holds a 2nd degree black belt in Kenpo Karate, studies Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and teaches women’s self-defense. She lives in a messy house in the suburbs with her husband, two teenagers, a couple of dogs and one neurotic cat with an inexplicable fear of ceiling fans. With such a pleasant life, she has no explanation for the sometimes dark and disturbing nature of her imagination.

Places to find Melinda:

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  1. ooh - ya got me
    would LOVE to win & read!
    PICK ME!!

  2. Congrats to Melinda on the new release! Sounds fantastic! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thank you for haring the excerpt with us. The books sound reall good.

  4. Congrats on the release! It sounds great.

  5. Sounds really good!!
    Thanks for the chance to win!

  6. That was a nice excerpt.