Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Fire and Rain by Andrew Grey

Since the death of their mother, Josten Applewhite has done what he’s had to do to take care of his little brother and keep their small family together. But in an instant, a stroke of bad luck tears down what little home he’s managed to build, and Jos and Isaac end up on the streets.

That’s where Officer Kip Rogers finds them, and even though he knows he should let the proper authorities handle things, he cannot find it in his heart to turn them away, going so far as to invite them to stay in his home until they get back on their feet. With the help of Kip and his friends, Jos starts to rebuild his life. But experience has taught him nothing comes for free, and the generosity seems too good to be true—just like everything about Kip.

Kip’s falling hard for Jos, and he likes the way Jos and Isaac make his big house feel like a home. But their arrangement can’t be permanent, not with Jos set on making his own way. Then a distant relative emerges, determined to destroy Jos’s family, and Kip knows Jos needs him—even if he’s not ready to admit it.

I love the cops of Carlisle, they are what we all want our town/city cops to be like: helpful, concerned, trusting but not naive, careful but not pushovers.  Some of us know cops like that, some don't but Andrew Grey's Carlisle Cops series gives us hope that they do exist.  Kip Rogers joins his fellow officers, Red from Fire & Water and Carter from Fire & Ice, in finding on the job that one person or in this case two, who will change their lives forever.  Josten Applewaite's luck has not been on his side and has fallen on hard times all while he is trying to take care of his little brother, Isaac.  When these three meet nothing is ever the same again and not just for the characters in Fire and Rain but the reader too.  We tend to take for granted the everyday necessities that not everyone is fortunate to have and that is what Kip learns upon meeting Jos and Isaac, so the reader just might learn something too, not that Fire and Rain is preachy, it is just old fashioned great storytelling.  Some might think that the relationship between Kip and Jos is too insta-love but sometimes when you meet that special person, the connection truly is immediate.  I loved how the author addressed the insta-love through both Kip and Jos' inner monologues though, so it is not just swept under the rug and accepted.  Definitely one for the re-read shelf.


“I CAN’T take this anymore!” Jeffrey shrilled loudly enough to send a jolt up Kip Rogers’s spine like nails on a blackboard.

“Then don’t. It isn’t like you actually live here,” Kip countered. This shit was starting already, and Jeffrey had just gotten in the door an hour ago. “You breeze into town once or twice a month and can’t figure out why I can’t just take off work and spend my time with you.”

“I come here on weekends,” Jeffrey countered as though he were stating the most obvious thing in the world. After all, Jeffrey kept lawyer’s hours; in his world, no one worked weekends. “I know you have to work and all, but it’s a weekend and I gave you notice.”

Three days. “You told me Tuesday, and I can’t get my schedule changed that fast. Besides, you had plenty to keep you busy while I was at work.” Kip was trying to be civil, but even his patience was quickly coming to an end.

“I came here to be with you.” Jeffrey stormed into the bedroom and returned with his roller suitcase behind him, swinging his hips like a 1960s TWA stewardess. All he was missing was the updo and the scarf around his neck.

“No. You came here because you wanted some attention and because you were horny. That’s all, and you’re angry because I can’t spend all my time with you even though I cleared the rest of my weekend schedule and put off going out with friends because you called.” Kip paused, contemplating giving Jeffrey another chance, but he’d had enough. There was only so much stomping a man’s pride could take, and he had reached his limit. He walked to the front door and pulled it open. “Let me help you.”

Jeffrey blinked a few times, and then crocodile tears began filling his ice-blue eyes. “You really want me to leave?” He turned slightly to the side. What the hell was this? Jeffrey had to be on something to flip from anger to seduction in two seconds flat. Kip thought back and realized this was his game, the way he got what he wanted. Anger followed by forgiveness and then sex. He should have seen through this shit before, but he’d been too busy thinking with his dick to look any deeper. Right now his dick was asleep, and from the looks of things, it wasn’t waking up anytime soon—not for Jeffrey.

“Yes,” Kip answered forcefully. “Go back to Mommy and Daddy and all those friends of yours who are in denial. How the hell they don’t know you’re gay, with the way you prance around like a frilled-up peacock, is beyond me. They must be dumb as a box of rocks.” Kip waited while the tears instantly dried and enticement turned to rage.

“I’m not coming back once I go through that door,” Jeffrey warned.

“What are you, six? Go on and get the hell out of here. Oh, and I suggest that you get out of town.”

“Is that a warning, Officer?” Jeffrey asked seductively.

Kip blinked, and then it hit him: Jeffrey thought this was some kind of game. He knew Jeffrey liked playing games—role-playing in bed, head games out of bed. That was his forte.

“No. Your car is parked illegally, and if you’re not gone in two minutes, I’ll call someone to ticket it. I wonder how many outstanding tickets and violations they’re going to find when they run your plates. Maybe you’ll even end up in jail. I can see to it that you get a couple of very large roommates. Maybe guys who have been there a little longer than they should have been.” Kip waved his hand toward the door. “This isn’t a game, Jeffrey. I’ve had more than enough game playing in my life.” He held his gaze steady, as cold as he could possibly make it. “It’s time for you to go and find someone else to play with. I’m through.” God, he was so over all of this.

“You’re shitting me!” Jeffrey screeched. “This is for real?”

“Oh, yeah. Looks like you overplayed your hand.” Kip crossed his arms over his chest. “I’m done. I don’t know what’s one of your damn games and when you’re being serious anymore, and frankly I don’t care. You’re selfish, hurtful, and a pain in the ass all the time, so it doesn’t matter. I’m not a toy.” That felt so good to say.

Jeffrey took a few steps. “Fine,” he said, jutting his nose into the air. He walked past Kip and out onto the porch. “You were just a bit of fun, you know. A pretty good lay and nothing more.”

“You were a selfish lay and managed to be a demanding pain in the ass from the bottom.” As soon as Jeffrey’s suitcase crossed the threshold, Kip closed the door and threw the lock. A clap of thunder rolled over the house, and Mother Nature chose that minute to open the skies. Rain had been threatening all day, though it had held off until now. Kip pulled the curtains aside and watched as Jeffrey hurried to his Porsche. He popped open the hood and dropped his bag inside. By the time he scurried to open his car door, Jeffrey was nearly soaked. Kip thought about taking pity on him but couldn’t bring himself to do it. If he had to listen to Jeffrey screech one more time about his work schedule or how Kip’s house wasn’t as grand as the ones Jeffrey’s other closet-case friends had…. It was time to make a clean break and give his self-respect a little boost.

Why it had taken him so damn long to figure out Jeffrey was only using him for some occasional weekend fun was beyond him. He was a police officer—he should have been able to take a closer look and see what Jeffrey really was: a user and a manipulator. Hell, he had the credit card bills to prove the manipulator part. Every time Jeffrey came to town, they went out to expensive restaurants that Jeffrey made the reservations for, but when the check arrived he’d bat his eyes, and Kip would pay to avoid a scene. He did that same thing in stores. The last weekend Jeffrey had spent nearly $500 on food and drinks alone. This was for the best.

Kip watched Jeffrey pull away and speed off down the street. He wasn’t sure where he was going, but Jeffrey was an adult and needed to take care of himself. Hopefully he’d just head home to Pittsburgh and leave the midstate alone for a while. But more likely, he’d head downtown and wait for the clubs to open so he could try to pick up another guy, another sucker, to sponge off of.

Kip released a sigh of relief, and the tension that had been building for days flowed out of him. God, it was good to be able to relax again. Jeffrey was wound so tight that he always filled Kip with so much anxiety that it took days after he left for him to decompress. With a second sigh, he turned and headed through the entrance hall to the stairs, climbing them slowly and then making his way to the master bedroom. Kip still felt off sometimes using that room. It had been his parents’ bedroom when he was growing up, and after they passed away and left the house to him, he’d moved in because he couldn’t bear to see it empty.

The house was way too big for him alone: massive kitchen, a living room and a dining room, a formal parlor, and four bedrooms upstairs as well as what had once been a maid’s quarters on the third floor. It had been built a century ago and was more solid than anything built today. Friends had advised him to sell it when his father passed away, but once he’d gotten a job in Carlisle, it seemed stupid to sell a house that was paid for and had been in his family. The best homes in town rarely came on the market. They sold privately or stayed in families, and Kip had a great house. Granted, it took a lot of his spare time to keep it up, and as he went into his bedroom to get ready for work, he noticed that the paint in the hallway and bedroom needed refreshing. Another project to add to the list.

Kip shucked his jeans and shirt in favor of one of his police uniforms. He pulled off the plastic wrap from the cleaners and got dressed. He liked the way he looked in his uniform. Jeffrey had told him once that it made his ass look great and that he was very sexy in it. Of course, Kip wasn’t sure if that was real or just another one of Jeffrey’s games.

He left the bedroom and went down to the kitchen. He made himself some food for his meal break. With the second shift rotation he was on, he didn’t know whether to call it lunch or dinner. All he knew was that he was always hungry when the time rolled around. Once he had everything he needed, Kip locked the house and hurried to his car, thankful the rain had let up a little.

Steady rain made for a miserable shift, and that was what Kip knew he was in for as he drove to the station. It was only afternoon, but it felt like much later in the day, the low thick clouds more indicative of late fall than September, along with the chill in the air. Usually this weather held off for a few weeks at least.

Kip parked in the lot and went into the station. “Hey, Red,” he called with a smile, and he got one in return. Red smiled more often now. Kip used to avoid him, but now he liked talking to him. “How’s Terry?”

“Training every chance he gets. He has his heart set on the Olympics, and he’s qualified for the team, so next summer he and I will be going to Rio.” Red’s grin was extraordinary. “He wants to qualify for a number of events, so he’s working hard on different strokes.” Red’s partner, Terry, was a swimmer, and a damn good one, judging by all the success he’d had.

“You know I’ll be cheering him on.” Kip wished he could go someplace exciting like Rio to watch the Olympics. But the closest he was ever likely to get to something like that was his television.

Red nodded. “Are you just coming on shift?”

“Yeah.” Kip continued through with Red, and they both clocked in, then went in for their assignments. Kip had been on the force a few years, but he wasn’t one of the senior guys, so he still got mostly patrol duty. That was fine, and on a night like this, at least he was inside a car as opposed to walking one of the neighborhoods.

“Me too. I hate working second.”

Kip nodded. He hated it mostly because it meant he never saw any of his friends. His schedule was too opposite theirs. Thankfully this was his last week on second shift, and then he’d rotate to first shift for a while. He needed a little normalcy in his life. “When do you rotate off?”

“Got a little more than a week,” Red answered, and they sat down, waiting for the captain to brief them on what was happening and what they should look out for. Mostly it was the usual stuff: reports of dealing, unruly kids, some vandalism. Drugs were making their way back into town, but they’d had a reprieve after Red had helped take down one of the leaders and they’d been able to round up much of the organization.

“There have been reports of dealing after dark in Thornwald Park, so if you’re on patrol in that area, be sure to pass through. Not that there’s likely to be activity on a night like this, but if the rain lets up, there will be. Are there any questions?”

Kip raised his hand. “At the corner of the alley behind Ridge, there’s a brush pile that’s acting as a dead drop. One of my neighbors told me what he saw this morning.”

“That’s pretty bold,” the captain said. He looked out over the assemblage. “Good, let’s get going.” He stepped down, and Kip retrieved the keys to his patrol car and began his shift, signing on to his computer and letting dispatch know he was on the job.

Kip was relieved he hadn’t been put on traffic duty. He hated spending an entire shift sitting in one place waiting for drivers to speed by just a little too fast. Yes, it was done in the interest of public safety, but it was boring as all get-out.

He’d been assigned the north side of town, so he began his patrol, making a police presence visible. He answered calls and helped a couple whose car had broken down. He also broke up a domestic dispute. He wished the woman had been willing to press charges. Domestic disputes were the worst, because Kip knew another officer would end up paying them a visit again, but until charges were filed there was little he could do. It was one of the most frustrating parts of the job, knowing someone was being hurt, and would be again, but not being able to help. Kip stopped back at the station on his break and ate his late dinner before heading out again.

With the continuing bad weather, traffic was light and there were few people out on the sidewalks, even in the busier areas of town like outside the theater and restaurants. Darkness came early with the cloud cover, and Kip resumed his patrol. He took the back streets, watching for trouble. The streetlights came on, and Kip was thankful everyone was indoors. He wasn’t looking forward to traipsing around in the rain.

“A report of someone sleeping in the doorway of Hansen’s Mens Wear” came through his radio from Dispatch.

“I’ll take it,” Kip said, answering the call and making the turn back toward the main street of town. With the weather like this and the fact that the store was one of those old-fashioned ones with the deep display windows, someone was bound to try to take shelter there. Kip made his final turn and came up on the store. He passed by but didn’t see anything, so he went around the block and pulled to a stop. The trees that lined the street cast shadows over the windows. Kip groaned as he pulled on his hat and raincoat before getting out of the car and tugging them tight around him. The cold and wet went right through the coat as the swirling wind blew water in all directions.

He took it slow and placed his hand on his gun as he approached the front of the store. Sure enough, a dark figure lay pressed back against the door of the closed business. It was covered in a dark blanket. As Kip got closer, he heard something he didn’t expect: singing. It barely reached his ears over the noise of the rain and water dripping off eaves and tumbling through drainpipes, but it was there. A lullaby, most definitely.

“I’m sorry. You need to move on,” Kip said as gently as he could. He didn’t want to frighten them. He pulled out his flashlight, shining it around. The blanket lowered, revealing a pair of haunted blue eyes. Kip was careful not to shine the light in his face, but he needed to see the man. “This is private property and you can’t stay here. There’s the Salvation Army a few blocks down. They have a shelter.”

“They’re already full,” the man said, though he sounded like a kid. “We got turned away from there a few hours ago.”

Kip’s suspicion rose. We? What exactly was going on under that blanket? Kip waited, and the man lowered the blanket farther until a small blond head made an appearance. The man—though now that Kip could see him better, he really wasn’t much older than a kid, maybe nineteen or twenty—held the young boy closer.

A pair of eyes that closely matched the older kid’s looked up at him, and then the boy darted back down, hiding under the blanket. Kip stopped the gasp that rose in his throat. That was quickly followed by anger. “The Salvation Army turned you away?” He wondered if they’d seen that he had a child.

Author Bio:
Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and now writes full time.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

EMAIL: andrewgrey@comcast.net

Fire and Rain #3

Fire & Water #1

Fire & Ice #2

Weave a Murderous Web by Anne Rothman-Hicks & Ken Hicks

Title: Weave a Murderous Web
Authors: Anne Rothman- Hicks & Ken Hicks
Genre: Mystery
Release Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: Melange Books
No good deed goes unpunished. Mark Samuels, a somewhat seedy matrimonial lawyer, is dead from an overdose of suspiciously pure cocaine. Jane Larson, a hotshot litigator for a large law firm in New York City, is sucked into the world of divorce and child support when her friend Francine asks her to help out one of Mark’s clients.

Jane quickly learns that the case is a complete loser and that her new client, Gail, is a demanding and unscrupulous prima donna. However, through some skillful legal work and a tip-off from a mysterious informant, Jane uncovers a safe deposit box where the deadbeat husband has been hiding a large chunk of cash.

She also attracts the attention of a fellow lawyer (Bryan) who is handsome and successful and an excellent protector from the threats to her life that suddenly start popping up with alarming frequency, along with murders of people related to the case—among them the deadbeat dad and an undercover cop.

It soon becomes apparent that Jane's discovery of the cash has only started to unravel a web of lies, drugs, and criminal activity. Ultimately, she is involved in a race to recover a suitcase of money that Jane hopes will help police catch the murderer before she becomes the next victim.

I opened a drawer and pulled out a legal pad to record the names of mother and daughter.

“There’s just one thing maybe you should know,” Francine said.

My pencil poised in midair, and then wrote “one thing” with an exclamation point. I still have that piece of paper in the top drawer of my desk.


“Well, Carmen Ruiz has kind of taken an interest in this because of the women’s rights angle and what happened to Mark and all.”

“Carmen Ruiz? Last time I heard of her, she was spending time at a fat farm.”

This was code. Everyone knew that the ‘fat farm,’ as I had injudiciously put it, was also a place where people could lose other bad habits, such as drugs.

Francine winced again and swallowed hard. “That’s unkind, Jane.”

Chalk one up for the meek.

“You’re right, Francine. How is Carmen doing?”

“She’s got a new gig on cable. One of the local news stations.”

I nodded. I was safe from unkind remarks if I kept my mouth shut. At one time the cognoscenti had called Carmen the “female Wolf Blitzer” because she had enjoyed asking the hard questions, especially of men who were not used to being pushed around. The fact that she had the flashing good looks of a gypsy queen didn’t hurt, but now she was scuffling on cable news.

“She said she called you a couple of times.”

“Yeah, well, I’ve been busy.”

I was on the verge of getting back the advantage, never easy in a conversation with humanitarian types like Francine, especially if your mother always places such types on a pedestal, a very high pedestal.

Martha has not been affiliated with any organized religion since her mind began to function at age eleven. Still, she shares Jesus’ distrust of wealth and is fond of quoting both his advice to sell all you have and give it to the poor and his adage that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

“You don’t even believe in Jesus,” I argue.

“I don’t have to believe in Jesus as God to know he’s telling the truth,” she retorts.

When I had accepted the job at Adams & Ridge, Carmen had had some unkind things to say to mutual friends about my going for the gold. Her whole premise that Martha’s goodness had gotten lost in one generation to my grabbiness had cut a bit too close to the bone. I hadn’t forgotten.

“Carmen’s working on a series about children and the courts,” Francine said. “Kids falling into poverty are a very big problem.”

“I’m aware of the problem, Francine. I’ll skip over the question of what has made Carmen give a good hoot in hell about children all of a sudden. What does any of this have to do with that coke-head Mark?”

“Oh, nothing much. Nothing at all really.”

She was hedging, worried that the prospect of helping Carmen might have made me shut the whole thing down before it ever began.

“Go on, Francine.”

“It’s just... she knew Mark fairly well and doesn’t think his death was accidental. She says Mark did drugs too much to do something that stupid.”

“So she thinks he did it on purpose? Is that it? He committed suicide over the predicament of his client and child?”

“Not exactly,” Francine said.

In hindsight I can see clearly how nonchalant she wanted to seem, playing with the gold locket and dropping it inside her sweater, glancing in the direction of the window as if a pretty bird had alighted there.

“Carmen thinks Mark was murdered.”

What Others Are Saying:
A fast paced legal thriller.

Jane Larson takes on a divorce case at the request of a friend. She quickly discovers it is not only her client who is after her husband's assets and others are prepared to kill for them. With bodies dropping like flies around her, her own life is in danger as is the reputation of an ex-lover as she races against the police and an unknown killer to uncover the truth.

I've only visited New York once but this book brings to life the inhabitants along with the sights and sounds of the city exactly as I remember them. Jane Larson is a likeable if sometimes brash and prickly character who I could relate to. Suspense and intrigue builds but never at the expense of realism and the story and all the characters that play a part are totally believable.

Great read. By Maria on March 22, 2016

Author Bio:
Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks first started writing books together while Anne was a student at Bryn Mawr College and Ken was a student at Haverford College— a long time ago, when, as their children like to say, dinosaurs roamed the earth.

In 1973, they came to New York City while Ken attended law school at Columbia University and Anne worked as an editor in publishing. They have lived here ever since and do not intend to leave voluntarily.

They wrote their first novel together in 1976, hoping that it would be a success and Ken would not have to even start working as a lawyer. Alas, that book is still in on the upper shelf of their closet, but they kept at the writing business. In 1984, they published Theft of the Shroud, a novel, through Banbury books, distributed by Putnam. That same year they also published a series of 10 books based on the most popular names for boys and girls, as well as a book about the stars for children. Following these successes, Ken quit law for two years as he and Anne devoted themselves fulltime to writing and their children. However, children need to eat and be clothed and go to school, and these things all cost money, so Ken resumed the practice of law. Still, they continued to write, and rewrite, and rewrite some more.

Prior to the publication of Weave A Murderous Web, Ken and Anne wrote Praise Her, Praise Diana, (Adult thriller) Melange Books LLC, 2014, Kate and the Kid, (Adult mainstream) Wings ePress 2013, and Things Are Not What They Seem (Tween fantasy) MuseItUp Publishing 2014. Anne and Ken have also self-published two small-format photography books, which are available on the Apple iBookstore – Hearts (no flowers) Signs of Love in the Gritty City and Picture Stones.


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