Title: Secrets of The Ravine (The MacKenzie Chronicles Book 1)
Author: Brenda Whiteside
Genre: Romantic Suspense
The lies can haunt.
The truth can kill.
When a ringer for her long-dead love walks into her life the same day skeletal remains are unearthed, Magpie MacKenzie can’t ignore the universe’s warning…solve the mystery or become the next victim.
After Lawyer Zack Peartree visits purportedly haunted Joshua, Arizona, he’s instantly drawn to the free-wheeling shopkeeper. His attraction thrusts him into a dangerous present embroiled in her past.
Using clues from her father’s life and Zack’s déjà vu moments, the couple plunge into a treacherous race to save love and avoid a murderous fate.
Something about the way he angled his head to the left…Mark’s habit when he’d found her amusing. Longish black hair waved around his ears. His deep green eyes beneath thick, arched brows scrutinized her, and he smiled.
A shiver traveled her spine.
He can’t be Mark. This man is much too young. Mark would be forty-six by now, three years older than me.
“Do you have this in yellow?”
The voice jarred her reverie, and she blinked to bring the narrow-faced woman with spiky black hair into focus. She held a green jacket trimmed in turquoise embroidery from a circular rack of women’s handmade outerwear.
“What we have is on the racks.” She cleared her throat, bringing back her friendly shopkeeper voice and suppressing thoughts of Mark. “But you can special order from Phaedra. She’s a local artist.”
Inhaling deeply, the scents of carved wood, handmade candles, and earthy fabrics calmed her before she dared a glimpse of the man who’d moments before stopped her heart. He held a carved, wooden music box he’d taken from the lowest shelf. His fingers paused on the winding key, and he looked up.
She tensed under his survey. Diverting her attention out the window, she spied Phaedra and Harlan strolling toward the mercantile. In her peripheral vision, the young man wound the key while his stare stirred her soul.
“You don’t mind, do you?”
“What?” Facing him, she forced a calm expression while her racing pulse sent jitters inward. The voice was deep, more mature than she recalled Mark’s sounding.
“If I try the music box?”
“Oh, no.” But then she’d wished she’d steered him to another. Every Breath You Take floated between them.
She hugged herself. Mark, the love of her teen years, had liked the song.
“Are the music boxes locally made?” the look-a-like asked.
Magpie swallowed, rubbed sweaty palms on her legging-covered hips, and addressed the stranger who reminded her of an older version of the boy from long ago—the teenager who had suspiciously disappeared. “All of our music boxes are made by a couple who live here in Joshua. They’re hand-carved.”
“The abstract carving is beautiful with these entwined circles and straight edges. And I’ve always liked this song.”
“Really? A bit before your time…” What else could she say—you chose the song of someone I loved whom you resemble? Someone who disappeared twenty-eight years ago the day my father’s girlfriend was murdered.
“Well, a classic song, isn’t it?”
He sauntered closer. His eyes narrowed studying her. “Have we met?”
Her mouth went dry. “I’m not sure.”
“Do you ever get to Copperdale?”
“S-sure. For shopping now and then.” Joshua, Arizona focused on art, wine, food, and gifts. Any practical shopping had to be done in Copperdale, less than an hour away down the hill.
“Hey, Zac.” His friend in the metal sculpture display area called out. “You have to see this.”
“Maybe we’ve run into each other there,” Zac said. “I moved to Copperdale from Phoenix recently.”
He stared a moment longer and then handed her the purchase, his fingers trailing along the side of her palm as he transferred the box. “I’ll take this. Excuse me.”
She managed a nod as he strode to the back of the shop, and she stepped to the checkout counter next to the shelf of music boxes. The last strains of the song ended. Her vision clouded with memories of another time and another’s touch.
“I think we’re ready.” The spiky-haired woman handed over her purchases.
Magpie took a deep breath and donned her shopkeeper persona. “Great.” The group of five gathered on the customer side of the counter. “So, you decided. This green jacket looked wonderful on you.”
The redhead and the other man—they appeared to be a couple—who’d been in the back of the store, placed a metal sculpture of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church on the counter.
As she ran the card, Magpie asked, “First time here?” The man named Zac stepped closer. A flutter trickled from her chest to her stomach.
“We’ve all been here, a few years ago. Except for Zac.” The other man in the group said.
“I didn’t realize what I’d been missing.” He spoke to no one in particular, but his smile landed on her.
Zac picked up the sack with the music box. “Are you the owner of this great store?”
“I am.” She returned his smile. “Magpie MacKenzie. And you are?”
“Zac Peartree. Is Magpie your real name?”
Accustomed to his reaction, she gave her standard reply. “It’s a long story.”
“One I’m sure I’d enjoy hearing. Will you be working at your mercantile all weekend?”
She swallowed down the recurring flutter. “Mostly.”
“You all should have a drink at the Apparition Room tonight, the bar below the Copper Mountain Hotel down the block.” Phaedra finished packaging the purchases. “Our very own Magpie MacKenzie will be singing.”
Magpie scuffed a boot against her friend’s foot to quiet her.
“She’s on at eight.”
The blonde clapped her hands. “Great. Sounds fun.”
“I guess that means we’ll see you later, Magpie.” Zac followed his friends but peered over his shoulder with an unreadable expression before he disappeared out the door and into the chilly wind.
Slightly lightheaded, Magpie braced herself on the counter. “Honestly, Phaedra, I could—”
“Now, Mags, you haven’t been this tongue-tied over a guy in years.” She retrieved her purse from behind the counter. “Every man should fill his jeans like that, not to mention his shoulders.” She stopped by the door. “You two looked at each other as if—”
“As if we know each other?”
“Know each other? I agree he bore a resemblance to Mark, but that’s all.”
“Really? Sacrebleu, Phaedra. When I stared into that face, I saw Mark…a soul…from twenty-eight years ago.” The soul of someone she’d loved.
Who might have been a murderer…or worse, murdered by my father.
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Joshua, Arizona: 1880’s mining town turned ghost town turned hippie haven turned tourist destination perched on the side of Spirit Mountain. Suspense and love await you as the MacKenzie’s solve the mysteries. And in the words of NN Light Reviews: Secrets of the Ravine is an enticing romantic suspense from start to finish. Brenda Whiteside is known for writing compelling contemporary romantic suspense (her Love and Murder series) but in this one, there’s added depth with the historical mystery sub-plot. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop.
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Brenda Whiteside is the author of suspenseful, action-adventure stories with a touch of romance. Mostly. She and her husband are gypsies at heart having lived in six states and two countries. For now, they’ve settled in Central Arizona but won’t discount the possibility of another move in their future. They share their home with a rescue dog named Amigo. While FDW is fishing, Brenda writes.
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