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Hi! My name is Kendall, I'm 29, a Media Graduate and I'm from Scotland. I'm a Reader, Reviewer, and Blogger.

Sunday 17 September 2023

Blog Tour & Giveaway: In the Midnight Hour [Midnight Madness Nightcreature 03] by Lori Handeland!


   I strolled down the deserted streets of Wisconsin’s capital city and tried to think of a plan. I could only come up with one.
   The first person I saw getting out of a car was in the employee lot of a twenty-four-hour diner. I approached her, and she smiled. I was an older woman, nonthreatening, no danger. I felt bad about what I was about to do, but I did it anyway, smiling back as I touched my fingertips to my temple. “Give me your car keys, then go to work.”
   She repeated my instructions, handed over her keys, and reached into the midnight-blue Hyundai SUV for her purse.
   “Leave it.”
   Sadly, my borrowed pockets held nothing but lint. Should have thought ahead and asked my daughter for some cash—though like most Gen Zers, she rarely had any. But what difference did stealing make on top of grand theft auto?
   At the next gas station, I used the woman’s cell phone—no password, shame on her—to search for the Leonard farm, then scribbled the address on a stray receipt. I tossed her phone into a sewer grate before heading inside where I bought a burner, then asked for a map of Wisconsin.
   “You could just get this one.” The clerk pointed to a more expensive phone. “Then you could GPS it.”
   I’d have to connect to my personal provider for that. And the entire point of tossing my own phone days ago, as well as tossing the phone of the waitress I’d robbed just now, was so Gideon couldn’t find me.
   I shook my head. “Maps?”
   The guy pointed to a revolving wire carousel hidden behind a display of energy drinks, which contained maps of Wisconsin and the surrounding states.
   “I don’t know the last time anyone bought one of these.” The clerk scanned the barcode. “I hope it doesn’t send you down a road to nowhere.”
   I wasn’t worried. The roads of northern Wisconsin didn’t change much. The Department of Transportation spent its budget on the byways that got the most use, for instance, the ones that went into and out of big cities or those that went into and out of the state. Considering those restored Victorians, Viroqua had been there since the mid-to-late 1800s, which meant the roads surrounding it had been there that long as well with only baseline maintenance and little to no rerouting.
   In less than two hours, I turned off a highway that had been mostly deserted and rattled down the rutted gravel driveway that led to the Leonard farm. The moon’s silvery glow had been dulled to pewter by a sky filled with clouds. I still heard the moon singing, but her voice had waned, night by night, since she’d been full. According to every werewolf I knew, that music would grow louder as she waxed from new to full.
   The just-sprung buds of corn in the fields fluttered, their shade a muted moss shrouded in ice, while the mud in the barnyard recalled a cup of espresso, the puddles undulating like a raven’s wing. In that vista of sepia, the white clapboard house and outbuildings shone pearlescent.
   The night held its breath, but all I heard were the clicks of a cooling engine and the beginnings of a breeze. Shouldn’t there be the lowing of cows? Shouldn’t there be cows? Shouldn’t there be someone waking up to deal with the cows?
   The porch steps creaked like those in a Gothic novel. I’d read quite a few once I’d discovered that Gothic lit became popular during the Victorian period. I’d been partial to Dracula. Kind of hilarious now.
   I lifted my hand to knock, and the door screeched open. Maybe not so hilarious. If there were werewolves, were there vampires?
   “Bloody hell.” I bit my tongue to stem the hysterical laughter that bubbled up over my choice of curse words. “Hello? Anyone home?”
   As I didn’t want to be shot for trespassing, I remained perched on the threshold. Then it occurred to me that while that might hurt, it probably wouldn’t kill me because the chances of a dairy farmer in Viroqua packing silver cartridges were slim to none.
   I stepped inside. “I have information about Natalie.”

I’d thought of little else during the two-hour drive, but what could I tell the Leonards that wouldn’t get them wiped out by a werewolf for knowing it? All I had were two truths and a lie—she’d been kidnapped by sex traffickers, then killed. And me? I was with the FBI task force handling the case.
   I’d believed it when Ash said it; I hoped the Leonards would believe it when I did. If not, I’d have to push them to do so, as well as to keep the news to themselves. Didn’t need any real FBI agents following up.
   Not a great plan, but I had to work with what I had.
   I listened for the sounds of someone getting out of bed, opening a door, flushing a toilet. All I heard was another creak. I wished I had a gun, but my fangs and my teeth and my inability to die except by silver were pretty good weapons.
   However, I was here to tell the Leonard family a partial truth. I wasn’t going to be able to do that if I was a wolf. And I wanted to tell them, needed to. There were many, many girls who weren’t coming home. Many, many families who would never know where they’d gone or what had happened to them. This girl I could do something about.
   I took a breath to call out again, and the door slammed behind me. I would have blamed the wind if not for the gun barrel pressed to the base of my skull. I went very still.
   “I told you I’d kill you the next time I saw you.”

Just when I thought it was safe to go home…

I’ve been running too long. I’d gotten sloppy. Sloppy gets you captured. But it turns out, the very one I thought I had to hide from, saved me.

I just want to live peacefully. But happy family, er, pack reunions don’t seem to be in my future. When my secret is used against me, I’m forced to run again. This time, help comes from the most unexpected source, the greatest werewolf hunter of all time, Edward Mandenauer.

To get what we both want—the end of the sadistic, yet sexy, werewolf Zane—Edward and I join forces. But Zane isn’t working alone. Nor is he who or what he says he is. He’s much, much more…

All I want is the life I believed I’d lost, but at this rate, I’ll end up captured, imprisoned, enslaved . . . or dead.

Check it out on Goodreads!

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Author bio:

Lori Handeland is a five-time nominee and two-time winner of the prestigious RITA™ Award from Romance Writers of America, as well as the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over sixty novels spanning the genres of paranormal romance, urban fantasy, contemporary romance, historical romance, historical fantasy and women’s fiction. Her novel Just Once received a coveted, starred review from Library Journal and was optioned as a feature film by Catalyst Global Media.

Lori set her sight on being an author at the age of ten. She remembers sitting at a typewriter before she knew how to type, pecking out a story about a family who went into space. As an only child her summers were spent with that typewriter, television, and, above all, books. As a young adult, she got sidetracked by the need to make a living. She worked as a waitress and later enrolled in college to become a teacher.

Lori lives in Southern Wisconsin with her husband of over thirty-five years. In between writing and reading, she enjoys long walks with their rescue mutt, Arnold, and visits from her two grown sons, awesome daughter-in-law and perfectly adorable grandchildren.