Vermont Escape by @Marsharwest is a Snuggle Up Readathon Pick #romanticsuspense #seasonedromance #gi
Title: Vermont Escape
Author: Marsha R. West
Genre: Romantic Suspense/Seasoned Romance
Jill Barlow has lost everyone she cared about except her grown children. Caught in her father's fight to keep casino gambling out of Texas, her husband and dad are murdered. She'll do what it takes to ensure her kids safety even if it means leaving Texas and moving to Vermont.
Jerrod Phillips has come a long way in the 20 odd years since his wife abandoned him and their two children. With no room in his heart for love, he'll do anything to keep his family from being hurt again, especially when the threats come packaged in the form of the attractive Jill Barlow who he suspects is involved in murder.
Forced to trust each other when trouble follows her, they'll battle, not only killers intent on ending her life, but the attraction drawing them together.
He glanced up and rose.
“Sorry to keep you waiting.” Jill Barlow raised her chin just a touch. Every bit the lady and no trace of a hoarse voice. Her hair was pulled back into the low ponytail she seemed to favor. Simple gold hoops hung from her ears. She wore no rings and only a watch on her left wrist. Nothing flashy about her. Used to judging potential jurors, it only took seconds for him to take in the whole package.
“Let’s get something to drink and then we can talk.” She led the way to the Solarium where they both ordered coffee. Then Jerrod settled into one of the large leather wingbacks in the library, and she sat on the edge of the chair next to him.
“I’m sure you must be busy. Why did you ask to meet? Frankly, I’ve had the feeling I’m not one of your favorite people.”
Well, she was honest about some things. “Let me apologize again for my behavior.”
“Apology accepted. Now what do you want to discuss?”
The woman was all business. Jerrod leaned forward his hands clasped between his knees. “I don’t want you to buy Crystal Rainbows.” Her eyelids batted the way they would if a gnat attacked. Before she could respond, he went on. “I know who you are.” Color drained from her face. Her hand trembled when she set down her cup.
“Well, of course you know who I am.” Her words came out in a rush. “Your mother introduced us.” Her voice rose to higher pitch than normal. He gave her credit for attempting the bluff.
“Did you assume no one would check up on you?” She hopped up at his words, paced in front of the chairs. He went on. “You’ve had an interesting couple of years, Ms. Barlow.” He stood, stepped in front of her. “Did you leave Texas because you killed your husband and father?”
The sting from her hand slapping his jaw stunned him. He never saw it coming. She spun around and brushed past startled guests. She had quite a swing on her. He rubbed his face, and then rushed after her. By the time he got to the stairs, she’d reached the bottom and pushed open the door. She headed for the gardens behind the inn. The air cooled his stinging cheek. His beard helped cushion the blow, but she’d let him have it. Halfway across the gardens, he caught up to her, grabbed her arm, and pulled her around in front of him. Pain-filled eyes and streaming tears grabbed his heart, but he held on. After fumbling for a handkerchief, he offered it, and she swiped at her face.
“Let go of me.” She spat the words between clenched teeth. Struggled to pull away. Jerrod kept his hold and shepherded her toward the back part of the gardens to benches under tall oak trees where he released her.
“What do you want with me?” Her breath hitched, and she rubbed her arm where he’d held her.
“Are you—are you going to kill me?” She backed away her gaze darted around. Probably looking for a way to escape. She put the bench between them, her arms extended in supplication. “Please, don’t hurt my kids. I’ll do whatever you want, if you leave them alone. I beg you.”
What was going on here? He stepped away his hands raised in front. “All I wanted was to talk you out of buying Mother’s store. Your reaction makes me more certain I don’t want you anywhere near her or settling in my town.”
“What are you talking about?” Her voice was shaky, but her lips formed a hard, straight line he’d seen on her a couple of times. No trace of her cute dimple.
“This is about the murders of your husband and father. Why leave your home? Why leave your friends and their moral support? Why come to Woodstock? Unless you’re somehow involved. Are the cops after you?”
“Where did you get those crazy ideas?”
“I did an Internet search and found several articles about their suspicious deaths. I discovered you had an alibi for both murders. But you could’ve hired someone to kill them. You have another guy on the hook, Ms. Barlow? You couldn’t wait for Daddy’s money? Why’d you come here?” He shot the questions at her each one louder than the last.
“How dare you?” Her voice lowered in pitch. Vibrated with anger. “Who are you to accuse me?” The words flew from her mouth and marched through the air in bold capital letters.
“I’m taking care of my town and my mother.” He straightened and crossed his arms. “Woodstock isn’t the place for you.”
“You can dictate where I live, and what kind of work I do?” She straightened to every inch of her five feet two. Her hands clenched at her sides. “Being an Assemblyman gives you that kind of power?”
“Being from one of the oldest families in Woodstock, I have a responsibility to keep my family and the town safe.”
“The store belongs to your mother. If I have the money, which I do, and she wants to sell, which she does, then I believe we have a done deal.” She stepped closer to him and poked him in the chest with her index finger. “Now, you leave me alone. If you repeat your malicious lies to anyone, my lawyer will sue you for slander.”
November is a time to be thankful. What are you most thankful for this year?
After family, friends, and health,😊 every year, I’m thankful for Fall. It’s my favorite time of year, with the cooler temperatures and the leaves turning. Many years we’ve made trips to New England, which I adore. I found settings for a couple of my books there.
Why is your featured book worth snuggling up to?
A big part of this book is the setting. While it doesn’t take place entirely in Vermont, a stunning state, a large portion of the action is there and during the fall and winter. The air is clear and refreshing, the colors amazing. Reading this book makes you want to grab your cup of tea, your blanket, and settle in front of the fire.
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Runs November 1 – 30.
Drawing will be held on December 1.
Marsha R. West, a retired elementary school principal, is also a former school board member and theatre arts teacher. She writes Romance, Suspense, and Second Chances. Experience Required. Marsha lives in Texas with her supportive lawyer husband. Their two daughters presented them with three delightful grandchildren who live nearby. Charley, a Chihuahua/Jack Russell Terrier mix completes her family.
MuseItUp Publishing released her first book, VERMONT ESCAPE in July 2013; her second book, TRUTH BE TOLD, in May 2014. In the Fall of 2014, Marsha formed MRW Press LLC to provide print and e-versions of her books. SECOND ACT, Book 1 of the Second Chances Series follows up with a secondary character from VERMONT ESCAPE and begins a four-part series. ACT OF TRUST is Book 2 of the Second Chances Series. She released THE THEATRE, a stand-alone in 2016. It was followed by ACT OF BETRAYAL, Book 3 The Second Chances Series in 2017. In 2019, Act of Survival, Book 4 The Second Chances Series released.
She contributed to ROMANCE & MYSTERY AUTHORS ON WRITING, edited by JQ. Rose. Also, in 2018, she had a short story, “The Colonel & Her Major” published in her writing chapter’s anthology, LONE STAR LOVE.
She’s a member of Romance Writers of America, the North Texas RWA, and the Kiss of Death chapters, and Texas Authors. She posts weekly on her own site, monthly on the Sisterhood of Suspense blog, and sends out a monthly Newsletter.
Social Media Links:
You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or through her web site https://authormarsharwest.wordpress.com/ where you can also sign up for her NEWSLETTER, Blog, or check out any of her social media sites.