Vermont Escape by @Marsharwest is a Christmas in July Fete pick #99cents #romanticsuspense #giveaway
Title: VERMONT ESCAPE
Author: Marsha R. West
Genre: Second Chance Romantic Suspense, Seasoned Romance
Two years after the murder of her husband, someone guns down Jill Barlow’s father, a Texas State Representative. The authorities suspect a connection between the murders but can’t find proof. Jill longs for the peace she found when she visited Vermont after her husband’s death. With the perpetrators still at large, she flees to the small town of Woodstock.
The gambling syndicate, believing she has damning evidence against them, pursues her, shattering her dreams of peace. Trying to protect her grown children, she doesn't tell them violence continues to stalk the family.
Despite having lost so much already, with the lives of her family and friends at stake, will Jill be required to make more sacrifices? And what about the second chance at love with a Vermont politician, Jerrod Phillips?
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. 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.”
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
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What I love most about the holiday season:
I love the colder weather because you can wear such wonderful clothes—scarves, boots, and yummy sweaters. The occasional snow we get in Texas is a special gift. I love the music we hear everywhere. (I wouldn’t mind if they waited to start playing it in the stores until after Thanksgiving, which is my favorite holiday. 😊)
Why is your featured book a must-read to get you in the holiday mood?
When I think of the holidays, I think of New England. The picture I get in my head is of a quintessential New England village all decked out. Woodstock, Vermont, the setting for most of this book comes to mind. In VERMONT ESCAPE, my heroine and hero (both in their 50s) spend Christmas apart—one in Woodstock with the traditional trappings of the holiday and one in Florida with palm trees. Now when I was in high school, I spent several years in Puerto Rico, a beautiful place, but not where I want to be for Christmas. Christmas for me is snow, fir trees sparkling with lights, and hot chocolate. You just don’t get that in Florida or Puerto Rico. I know some people prefer the warmer setting. Isn’t it nice to have room for both?
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon (US) gift card.
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US account to win.
Runs July 1 – 31
Drawing will be held on August 2.
A retired elementary school principal, a former school board member, and theatre arts teacher, Marsha R. West writes Romance, Suspense, and Second Chances. Experience Required. She lives in Texas with her supportive lawyer husband and Charley, a deaf, Chihuahua/Jack Russell Terrier. Their two daughters presented them with three delightful grandchildren all who live nearby.
The theme of Marsha’s eight books is always second chances. She even has a four-part series titled The Second Chances Series. She believes in Happily Ever afters. Her husband picked up a plaque for her on one of their several trips to Maine that states her philosophy exactly. Everything will be all right in the end. If it’s not all right, it’s not the end. The Heroines and Heroes in her books are in their 40s and 50s with their parents and children often playing supporting roles.
She’s a member of Romance Writers of America, the North Texas local chapter, NTRWA, Authors Marketing Guild LLC, the WORD BY WORD Blog, and has her own weekly blog and monthly newsletter. Marsha loves making presentations to groups and has twice taught a Silver Frogs class on Indie Publishing for Texas Christian University. Her books can be found on AMAZON, B & N, KOBO, and iTunes. Print books are also at Indie Lector Stores and Amazon.
Social Media Links:
Blurbs for each of her books with links can be found on her website: https://authormarsharwest.wordpress.com/ Where you can also sign up for her blog and her NEWSLETTER Contact her at marsha@marsharwes