Book Title: The Church of the Holy Child by Patricia Hale
Release date: 15th August 2017
Word Count: 65,000
Women are turning up dead at the local women’s shelter, an ex-cop turned PI and his partner stumble through a maze of dead ends while a distraught priest hears the killer’s confession and wrestles with his loyalty to the church.
Inside the wooden confessional there’s a man who talks to God. At least that’s what my mother told me the last time we were here. But a month has passed since she disappeared so today I’ve come to the church alone. I no longer believe that she’s coming back for me like she said. Instead, I’ve become her stand-in for the beatings my father dishes out. That’s what he calls it, dishing out a beating, like he’s slapping a mound of mashed potato on my plate. He swaggers through the door ready for a cold one after coming off his seven to three shift, tosses his gun and shield on our kitchen table and reaches into the refrigerator for a Budweiser. I cringe in the corner and make myself small, waiting to hear what kind of day he’s had and whether or not I’ll be his relief. More often than not, his eyes search me out. “’C’mere asshole,” he says, popping the aluminum top, “I’m gonna dish out a beating.” If anyone can help me, it has to be this guy who talks to God. I open the door of the confessional with my good arm and step inside.
Twenty-Three Years Later One
His breath was warm on my neck, his lips hot and dry. His tongue searched the delicate skin below my ear. Heart quickening, back arching, I rose to meet him.
The phone on the nightstand vibrated.
“Shit,” Griff whispered, peeling away from me, our clammy skin reluctant to let go. He swung his feet over the edge of the bed and flashed me his bad-boy, half-smile. “Cole,” he said into the phone.
At times like this, cell phones rate right alongside other necessary evils like cod liver oil and flu shots. I leaned against his back and caressed his stomach, damp dunes of sculpted muscle. Not bad for a guy north of forty. Griff still measured himself against the hotshots in the field. But in my book he had nothing to worry about; I’d take the stable, wise, worn-in model over a wet behind the ear, swagger every time.
He pried my fingers from his skin and walked toward the bathroom still grunting into the phone.
I slipped into my bathrobe and headed for the kitchen. I have my morning priorities and since the first one was interrupted by Griff’s phone, coffee comes in a close second.
Twenty minutes later he joined me dressed in his usual attire, jeans, boots, tee shirt and sport jacket. Coming up behind me, he nuzzled my neck as I poured Breakfast Blend into a travel mug. Coffee splashed onto the counter top.
“Gotta run,” he said taking the cup from my hand.
“Not sure yet. That was John. He said he could use a hand.
Griff flinched like I’d landed one to his gut.
“Sorry,” I said. “Cheap shot.”
“Woman found dead early this morning.”
Patricia Hale received her MFA degree from Goddard College. Her essays have appeared in literary magazines and the anthology, My Heart’s First Steps. Her debut novel, In the Shadow of Revenge, was published in 2013. The Church of the Holy Child is the first book in her PI series featuring the team of Griff Cole and Britt Callahan. Patricia is a member of Sister’s in Crime, Mystery Writer’s of America, NH Writer’s Project and Maine Writer’s and Publisher’s Alliance. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two dogs.
Carver Adams, the powerful Duke of Hawksmoor and brave war hero, makes a shocking discovery at a glittering Mayfair ball. The one woman he could never forget––the infamous spy, Lady Blade––is very much alive. Though he balks at the idea of teaming up with the woman who betrayed him and his men during the war, the beautiful former French spy may be the key to his next undercover mission.
Juliet Reed never wanted to love the handsome British army captain. After an unspeakable tragedy changes her life forever, the half-English and half-French young woman became a deadly spy for the French, known as Lady Blade. When she is taken captive by Captain Adams, the two enemies must fight against the heated attraction that burns between them, or betray everything they have fought for.
Now, a year after the Battle of Waterloo, the two former lovers––and former enemies––must re-unite in order to stop a dangerous plot which could cost many innocent lives. But with their volatile past and their dangerous passion for each other re-ignited, will the two star-crossed lovers risk everything to trust each other once more?
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Take an inside look at The Duke's Defiant Bride. Read this sizzling excerpt from the book.
Bellamy House, Mayfair, London April, 1816
Carver Adams, the Duke of Hawksmoor, had a secret. Two, actually—and either one of them would knock the ton on its head if the truth ever came out.
As he stepped into the glittering ballroom of Bellamy House, he scanned the room for his host and spotted him immediately.
His old friend, Beckett, the Earl of Ravenwood, took notice of his arrival and approached with champagne in hand.
"Your Grace," Beckett said, bowing slightly. "Welcome. Though I’m a bit surprised to see you here tonight. Are you finally in the market for a bride?"
Carver chuckled. "You never quit, do you, Beckett."
"Certainly not. If you are, Isobel would be happy to help. Lady Weston would, too, I suspect. Look, there are Alfred and Prudence, now."
Carver turned to see Alfred, Baron Weston and his beautiful wife, Prudence, taking the final steps in a lively quadrille in the center of the ballroom. They turned and locked eyes with Carver, smiled and approached.
"Tell me, Your Grace, is it true? Are you on the hunt for a duchess at last?"
He was on the hunt for something, or someone, Carver mused to himself. But men like him always were.
"There is quite a crop of beautiful young ladies to choose from here this evening," Alfred added, scanning the room. "Simply take your pick."
His wife cocked her head to the side. "I do beg your pardon, Alfred, but what of the young ladies? Do they not have a say in this? Perhaps they don’t wish to have a husband. Even a duke. Pardon my saying so, Your Grace."
Prudence, Baroness Weston, was known for her independent speech and intelligent mind, which was no surprise, considering she ran a successful school for young ladies who came from troubled backgrounds, or even the streets themselves.
"I am not seeking a duchess this evening, Lady Weston," Carver replied. "But if I were, you and Lady Ravenwood would be the first I would consult for advice and recommendations. You are both modern-thinking ladies, and as you know, I have come to the dukedom rather late in life. Truth be told, I still feel like nothing but a lowly captain of the West Devonshire, and nothing more."
"Forgive me, Your Grace," she replied with a charming glimmer in her eye, "but as my husband tells it, Captain Carver Adams was quite a distinguished soldier. You led many brave missions in the Peninsula and saved countless English lives. You are a true hero."
Carver thanked her but looked away from the compliment, for there was one mission where he had failed catastrophically—the mission to escort a beautiful French spy, Lady Blade, to his superiors at Villarosa.
Two-and-a half years later, those hellish events still haunted him in the darkest hours of the night. The explosions… The screams of dying men...
And of course, the beautiful Lady Blade haunted him most of all.
Other Books by Michelle McMaster
Don't miss the other books in the Brides of Mayfair series. Join the handsome heroes and spunky heroines of this sparkling series, as they find romance and adventure in the glittering ballrooms of Mayfair in Regency London.
"Michelle McMaster knows exactly how to keep readers entertained with the perfect mix of romance and laughter."
- USA Today Bestselling Author, Julianne MacLean