People have mixed feelings about autumn – that “back to school” anxiety can last well into adulthood – but it’s my favorite time of year in New Mexico. The temperatures are finally dropping, and the smell of roasting green chile fills the air. (Stop by my blog for information on the New Mexico chile and some Southwestern recipes.) It’s the perfect time to curl up with a good book. Of course, ANY time is the right time for a good book! I hope you’re staying safe, warm, and dry, with plenty of good books to read. ~ Kris
Jenny returns to her grandparents’ art camp in a remote New Mexico town after her grandmother’s sudden death. That night she wakes to the noise of intruders. What do the strangers want? As more bizarre events unfold, Jenny realizes the people she thought she knew are not what they seem – least of all Rob, an old friend whose past may be coming back to haunt them all.
Counterfeits is romantic suspense in the Southwest that will interest fans of Mary Stewart, Lillian Stewart Carl, and Barbara Michaels.
“Counterfeits is the kind of romantic suspense novel I have enjoyed since I first read Mary Stewart’s Moonspinners…. 5 Stars” – Roberta at Sensuous Reviews blog
Jenny’s rolling suitcase bumped up the porch steps. Once, twice, three times, like a knock that would never be answered. Tears stung her eyes in the cold night air. How many times had she rushed to this door with a sense of coming home? Growing up, she had spent every summer at her grandparents’ art camp. She hadn’t been back as often in the last ten years, but it still felt more like home than any place else in the world.
She took a shuddering breath and turned away to gaze up at the dark sky. Stars splashed across the moonless night, so many stars she could hardly pick out the constellations. The band of the Milky Way sparkled like a streak of glitter paint on velvet paper. She had gazed up at that sky a million times, and yet it filled her with awe. After a decade living among the lights of New York City, it was easy to forget that nature had her own Great White Way.
She shivered. During her summers in the northwestern New Mexico mountains, nights had typically been mild, even at over 6000 feet elevation. Now the temperature had to be dropping toward freezing. Maybe that was why the vast, chilled sky seemed so distant and lonely.
Jenny leaned back against the door and closed her eyes. She was so tired. Maybe she’d take a few extra days and rest. But she couldn’t bring herself to enter her grandparents’ house and go to bed, knowing she’d be alone. When her grandfather had died two years before, her heart had broken. Now her grandmother was gone as well.
Jenny tried not to imagine her grandmother’s last moments, when the car she was driving had skidded off the twisty mountain road two days before. She tried to blank out all thoughts, all grief. She took a ragged breath, the frigid air searing her lungs, and released it slowly, hoping to empty her mind as well.
Her thoughts refused to quiet, while her heart ached with emptiness, a dark hole as vast and cold as the night sky.
Jenny rose from sleep slowly, her body resisting. She could see nothing in the pitch black. Where was she? She blinked, trying to make sure her eyes were really open.
Memories broke through the fog. The phone call, the rush across country, the late arrival. Crawling into bed in her grandparents’ upstairs guest room. She groaned and pulled up the blanket. Morning must be hours away, given the darkness.
The old house creaked, but no sounds drifted in from outside. Maybe that’s what woke her; she was used to the murmur of city sounds all night long. Who’d have thought that would become normal?
Her head pounded. Probably dehydration from the high elevation and dry air. She should get up, drink a glass of water, take a couple of aspirin. Her head would thank her in the morning. If only she could make herself move.
The house creaked again, followed by a rhythmic sound – like footsteps. Jenny jerked upright, her ears straining. Had she heard a voice?
She shook her head. She must still be half asleep, dreaming. Imagining her grandparents were still here. Wishful thinking.
Downstairs, a door closed. Jenny clutched the blanket. Imagination be damned. She was not alone.
Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance with outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. The Mad Monk’s Treasure follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. In The Dead Man’s Treasure, estranged relatives compete to reach a buried treasure by following a series of complex clues. In The Skeleton Canyon Treasure, sparks fly when reader favorites Camie and Tiger help a mysterious man track down his missing uncle. Whispers in the Dark features archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. What We Found is a mystery with strong romantic elements about a young woman who finds a murder victim in the woods.
The Mad Monk’s Treasure, “Smart romance with an ‘Indiana Jones’ feel,” is currently free at all e-book retailers.