Something different today on Reviews and Interviews. Today is part of a virtual blitz tour for Melanie Atkins new book, Blood Rite. This post includes Melanie’s bio, the book’s back cover blurb, and two story excerpts.
There’s also a giveaway for a lucky commentor. Details are below the excerpts.
Melanie Atkins is a multi-published author of romantic suspense. Writing is more than an escape for her—it’s a way of life. She grew up in the Deep South listening to tall tales and penning stories about her cats. Now she writes gripping stories of love, suspense, and mystery with the help of her furry little feline muses.
She is an active member of Romance Writers of America®, the Magnolia State Romance Writers (MSRW), the Published Author Network (PAN), the Electronically Published Internet Connection (EPIC), Sisters in Crime (SinC), the Red Dog Writers, The Gulf Coast Writers Association (GCWA), Southern Writers, the Mississippi Writers Guild and the Byram Writers’ Group. She currently serves as Past President of MSRW.
Website/blog/social networking links:
The back cover blurb:
Women in New Orleans are dying; women New Orleans Police detective Nick Marconi has dated. To make matters worse, they have all been found with vials of his murdered sister’s blood in their throats. Nick is walking a tightrope between depression and rage. His superiors are worried about his mental health, so they send him to see psychiatrist Gracie Simmons.
Gracie is walking a tightrope of her own. She became a psychiatrist because she wants to help people, and in addition to private practice, she also treats police and parolees. The extra work gives her flashbacks about her father, however, a bad cop arrested when she was fifteen. Then a former flame harasses her, and her best friend turns up dead. Desperate for a distraction, she makes Nick her special project. Only… he doesn’t want to be saved.
Blood Rite excerpt 1:
The crime scene was awash in blood, its warm, coppery scent mixing with the fresh odor of rain that had fallen during the night.
New Orleans Police Department Detective Nick Marconi pulled on a pair of latex gloves and popped a square of mint gum into his mouth. Weary resignation set in as he sidestepped the overturned trash receptacle serving the far corner of the tiny park. Crime scene techs swarmed the scene, taking pictures and eyeing the rain-dimpled sand for any evidence, no matter how small, the murderer may have left behind.
Even with the icy tang of gum cleansing his palate, the stench of death made Nick’s stomach buck. He cursed himself for not getting the jar of menthol salve out of the sedan.
“Mornin’, Marconi. Got a grisly one for you.” Orleans Parish Medical Examiner, Pal Stewart, bobbed his thick gray head in greeting. “She’s cut from ear to ear and exsanguinated.”
“Well, hell. That explains all the blood.” Nick looked at Pal, who raised his eyebrows.
Then he steeled himself and looked down at the nude corpse. The woman lay on her side facing away from him, her pale hips cocked at an odd angle. Blood had crusted in her spiky blond hair, and a bright silver hoop earring stood out in stark contrast to her purplish right earlobe. The sand beneath her was stained a dull red, made pale by the rain.
“It’s a lot, but not enough.”
“What do you mean?” Nick frowned. “The ground’s saturated with it.”
Pal walked around the body. “He drained her blood here—” He turned and acknowledged a row of metal swing sets behind them. “And took it with him.”
Blood Rite excerpt 2:
Gracie Simmons stepped around her desk and rechecked her appointment book for the fifth time that day. Since lunch, she’d dealt with a woman with bi-polar disorder, an obsessive-compulsive fireman, and a shy teenager trying to find herself. Next up was a burned out cop.
Not the best way to wind up the day. She rubbed her tense neck. Her nerves had been on edge ever since this morning, when she’d met with him. She closed her eyes and pictured her nurse’s neat handwriting on the crisp new folder. Thirty-nine year old white male. Presenting with non-specific complaints of depression and anxiety. The description didn’t even come close.
She was afraid he was deeply disturbed. His cool, calculated answers to her questions had scared the hell out of her.
“Dr. Simmons?” Ashley, her part-time twenty-something receptionist, stuck her head in the door. Her long brown hair gleamed in the muted light. “Would you like some coffee before your four o’clock arrives?”
“Yes, thank you.” Although it would take a hell of a lot more than a brimming mug of high-octane java to get her through her next appointment. She never should have volunteered to handle cases for the police department while their regular psychiatrist was on military leave. Her dad had been a cop. A bad cop. And her childhood had been hell because of it. She certainly had no love for law enforcement professionals, especially those with problems on the job. If Dr. Myers wasn’t a good friend, she’d call him back and tell him she’d changed her mind.
Her head pounded. She reached into her drawer for an oversized bottle of ibuprofen.
Ashley came in and set a brimming cup of cream and sugar laced coffee on her desk. “Your patient’s in the waiting room.”
“Already?” Gracie eyed the sunburst clock on the wall in surprise. She’d expected this guy to balk. “He’s ten minutes early.”
Ashley shrugged. “At least you’ll get out of here on time today.”
“Shall I send him in?”
“Give me five minutes, okay?” Gracie picked up her coffee cup and took a small sip. “I need to do some deep breathing exercises.”
“Sure.” Ashley smiled. “Yoga’s great when you’re feeling tense.”
Gracie had to agree. She downed another mouthful of steaming coffee, set down her cup, and leaned back in her chair. If only she had time to get out her mat and do some simple stretches. Her body was as tight as a bow string.
She rested her hands in her lap, palms up, and closed her eyes. After a few seconds, she drew in a long breath, careful to fill her lungs and expand her ribcage. The stretch relaxed her. She held the breath for another long moment, and then slowly released a slow, steady breath.
A sense of calm enveloped her.
She repeated the action three more times, growing more relaxed with each extended breath. Her neck grew less taut. Breath in, she told herself. Breathe out.
Her cell phone rang. She muttered an ugly word.
After two more rings, she yanked it from her purse and stared down at the display. Jerry Howard. The annoying guy she had dated for a while, and was now trying to blow off. There was no chemistry between them. No attachment, at least on her part. Why wouldn’t he take no for an answer?
A brisk knock rattled the door. Gracie blinked, and struggled to orient herself.
The knock rang out again.
“Come in,” she said, quickly putting the phone on silent and dumping it back into her purse. She sat up straight in her chair.
The door opened and Ashley appeared, followed by the most handsome man Gracie had ever seen. At least, he would be handsome if he got some sleep and maybe shaved once in a while. He was tall and rugged, with short jet-black hair and glacial blue eyes. Inky stubble rimmed his taut jaw. His gray suit fit him, but his coat looked like it had been worn for a week.
“This is your four o’clock,” Ashley said, her eyes glued to the strapping man beside her despite his dishevelment. “Detective Nick Marconi.”
She stood there as if rooted to the floor.
“Thank you, Ashley.” Gracie said, rising. Her mouth was as dry as river sand.
Ashley didn’t move.
Nick’s full lips curved in a weary, knowing smile that conveyed a world of information to Gracie. Namely, that he was arrogant, smug, and didn’t want to be in her office.
Readers, leave a comment below to be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card. The gift will be given to one randomly drawn commentor during the tour.
I encourage you to follow the tour and comment on other blogs. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning.