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Excerpt and Giveaway: The Grave Tender by Eliza Maxwell


THE GRAVE TENDER
by
By Eliza Maxwell
  Genre: Women’s Fiction / Psychological Suspense
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Date of Publication: April 11, 2017
Number of Pages: 248
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A chilling psychological suspense novel, The Grave Tender explores the dark boundaries people cross to save loved ones, and the limits of family bonds tested by the deepest of betrayals.
Endless questions from a shadow-filled East Texas childhood haunt Hadley Dixon. People said her mother, Winnie, was never quite right, but with one single, irreparable act, life as Hadley knew it was shattered. The aftershocks of that moonlit night left her reeling, but the secrets and lies had started long before.
When a widowed and pregnant Hadley returns years later, it’s not the safe harbor she expects. The mysteries surrounding a local boy’s disappearance remain, and the townspeople still whisper about Hadley’s strange and reclusive Uncle Eli—whispers about a monster in their midst.
But Hadley’s father and grandmother, the cornerstones of everything safe in her world, avoid her questions. If Hadley stays here, will she be giving her children the family they need or putting their lives in danger?
The hunt for answers takes a determined Hadley deep into the pine forests, in search of sunlight that will break through the canopy of lies long enough to reveal the truth.
“The Grave Tender will grasp you in its hooks from the beginning as you try to figure out the truth behind each character, because no one is truly what they seem … Addicting, easy to read, and hard to put down.”Shelbi LeMeilleur, Insite Magazine
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Most people, if asked, would tell you that Cooper Abbott had surely had some sort of accident.  Maybe he’d been bitten by a snake, or fallen into the river and hit his head on a rock.  There were as many rumors as people to spread them, and a thousand possibilities to choose from.

The one thing they all agreed on was that tropical storm Jolene had been a true misfortune, carrying off any clue to finding the boy.  Probably carrying off the boy himself, down the river toward the Gulf of Mexico.

No one suspected anything more sinister.

Not at first.

By Thursday night the skies had cleared.  On Friday, the clean-up began.

The Dixon’s power was still out, as it was in many places across town, but Hadley didn’t care.  She was happy to be outside, helping to haul downed branches into a pile and picking up dropped nails while Walker took the boards off the shutters.  Light slowly came back into the dim house.

It was just after lunch when the Sheriff’s car pulled slowly up the drive, gravel crunching under the tires all the way.

Ben Hammon was an old friend of Walker’s.  They’d gone to school together way back when, and still met up for poker night every other Friday.  But it wasn’t a social call that brought Sheriff Hammon out to the Dixon house that day.

The Sheriff wasn’t alone.  One of his deputies got out of the passenger side of the car.  The deputy looked forbidding in his brown uniform and hat, his eyes scanning the trees behind their home.  But he smiled and gave Hadley a wink when he caught her watching him.

“Hey, Ben.  Any news on the Abbott boy?” Walker asked.

The Sheriff shook his head.  “Nothing yet.  We’ve picked up the search again, but frankly Walker, I don’t expect to hear anything until we get a call from somewhere downriver.”

Walker cleared his throat and motioned in her direction.

“Hadley, you remember Sheriff Hammon, don’t you?”

She knew good and well the reminder was for the Sheriff, so he wouldn’t say anything else that meant something.  Cooper is my friend, Hadley thought, tired of being treated like a baby.

“Actually, Walker, we’d like to speak with Hadley, if you don’t mind.”

Walker’s eyebrows shot up.

“What’s this about, Ben?”

“Dan Abbott was in to see us soon as the weather let up,” the Sheriff said.  “He says the kids had a run in with your brother last weekend.”

The camp out.  An image of Eli looming over them in the doorway of the tent filled Hadley’s mind.

“Eli?” Walker asked, glancing down at Hadley, clearly confused.  She’d never told him what had happened last week, and so much had happened since.

“What’s Eli got to do with anything?”

The Sheriff tipped his hat back and scratched his head, not looking entirely comfortable in his own skin.

“Probably nothing, to tell you the truth.  But a boy is missing, Walker, and we have to do our jobs.”

All three men turned to Hadley then.  Her eyes went wide.

Walker squatted down next to her.

“Hadley, honey, you don’t have to be scared.  You’re not in any trouble.  Just tell the men here what happened.  Nobody can be hurt by telling the truth.”

Hadley knew that wasn’t true.  If it were, her father wouldn’t look so worried.  But she couldn’t see another option, so she did as he asked.  She told the truth.

 

Eliza Maxwell lives in Texas with her ever patient husband, two impatient kids, a budgie named Sarah, and a bird dog who lives a tortured existence.  She’s an artist and writer, an introvert and a British cop drama addict.  A former bookseller with a lifelong love of the written word, she can often be found barefoot on the front porch lost in a good cup of coffee and a great book.
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CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
4/10
Promo
4/11
Review
4/12
Excerpt
4/13
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4/14
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4/15
Review
4/16
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Author Interview
4/18
Review
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4/20
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4/21
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Review: The Big Inch by Kimberly Fish

THE BIG INCH
by
KIMBERLY FISH
  Genre: Historical Fiction, WWII
Date of Publication: January 19, 2017
Number of Pages: 344

 

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Kimberly Fish’s debut novel, The Big Inch, was released in February, 2017 and it reveals the lengths to which Texas oilmen, state, and federal governments would go to get Texas crude oil to the troops fighting their first mechanized war. With Nazi threats (and a steady stream of oil tankers sunk by German submarines) speed was necessary, as was OSS intelligence. The Office of Strategic Services was often staffed with female spies and Longview’s World War II efforts were critical for success. 
Lane Mercer, sent to Longview, Texas in July 1942, is part of a select group of women working undercover for the fledgling federal agency, the Office of Strategic Services. Assigned to protect the man carrying out President Roosevelt’s initiative to build the nation’s first overland pipeline to hurry East Texas crude to the troops, she discovers there’s more to Longview than the dossiers implied. There’s intrigue, mayhem, and danger. Shamed from a botched OSS mission in France, Lane struggles to fulfill her mission and keep from drowning in guilt. Getting involved in local life is out of the question. Between family, do-gooders, and Nazi threats, she’s knitted into a series of events that unravel all of her carefully constructed, plans, realizing that sometimes the life one has to save, is one’s own.

 

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PRAISE FOR THE BIG INCH:
“With an eye for detail, Kimberly Fish weaves a compelling story of a war widow who finds herself in Longview, Texas in 1942. Reading Kimberly’s novel was a bit like going back to a cloak and dagger time, and I enjoyed the local references. Longview was an amazing place to be during WWII.”   — Van Craddock, Longview News Journal, Columnist
“Kimberly Fish’s unique writing style snatched me out of my easy chair and plunked me down into the middle of her character’s life where I was loathe to leave when my real life called me back. Her descriptive visual writing drew me in on the first page. Can’t wait to read more stories by Mrs. Fish.” — Vickie Phelps  Author of Moved, Left No Address

 

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From the get-go, Fish reels you in with vivid descriptions. I can feel Lane’s trepidation on this journey, although I haven’t gotten to know her enough yet. I am at the train station, too, overwhelmed by the chaos of activity and people. And as intrigued as I am by Lane’s snippets of life in Paris, I am even more in awe of her situational awareness. I instantly  become a fan when she outwits a pickpocket and, cool as a cucumber, is swept away by train to her new life.
I apologize if my gushing makes the novel sound melodramatic. Believe me, it is far from that. The people are very real and the situation even more so. The subject of oil is a touchy one, especially when there’s a war going on. No hunch is too small to investigate. And no person is insignificant it seems.
As an attractive, single (widowed) woman, Lane has to navigate small town life carefully. And that’s easier said than done when her boss is a handsome lady’s man. When she isn’t busy batting away blind date offers, Lane has to fend off a few tempting suitors as well. While some women would fall prey to men like that, Lane is truly a completely different breed of woman. Her dedication to her job and sense of honor allows her to brush off society’s misconceptions and the annoyances that result from them.
Lane has to tail her boss constantly to ensure his safety, earning her the nickname “Elmer”. As in the glue. Get it? Haha! Even the people working closely with her couldn’t help making assumptions. I was amazed that her honor wasn’t completely drowned in the gossip pool. Several times, her good deeds got her into a bit of trouble. Submerging her further into that pool. But Lane is an exceptional swimmer.
I might have made her out to be perfect, but Lane does manage to underestimate a handful of characters. Which leads to surprisingly good and unfortunately bad ends. I can’t get into all that without ruining the story. But let me just praise Fish a bit more on her ability to fashion such a compelling and believable protagonist. I really enjoyed learning a little bit about Lane each time she slipped up and let another character get to see who she really is.
And Ms. Fish, if you’re reading this, I would really like a novel about Sergeant Tesco.
Kimberly Fish started writing professionally with the birth of her second child and the purchase of a home computer. Having found this dubious outlet, she then entered and won a Texas manuscript contest which fed her on-going fascination with story crafting. She has since published in magazines, newspapers, and online formats, She lives with her family in East Texas.
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March 822, 2017
CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

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Author Interview
3/17
Review
3/18
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3/19
Promo
3/20
Review
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Author Interview
3/22
Review

 

 

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