Rogue Winter Novella #1
Tracks of Her Tears
Author: Melinda Leigh
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release Date: November 10, 2015
County investigator Seth Harding intends to spend the holidays with his newly reconciled family, but a few days before Christmas, a homicide thwarts his plan. Seth arrives at the scene and makes a painful discovery: the victim is his brother-in-law’s girlfriend. Her apartment has been ransacked and her toddler left motherless. To make matters worse, Seth’s brother-in-law, Bruce, is missing. With Solitude locked in a rare, deadly deep freeze and the temperature plummeting, the residents launch a desperate search.
Seth calls his wife, social worker Carly Taylor, to take the case so the little girl doesn’t get lost in the foster care system. With the holidays near, Carly brings the child home with them to celebrate Christmas. But when the Taylor farm is also trashed, Seth and Carly must race against time—and against a paralyzing winter storm—to find Bruce and catch a killer in the first pulse-pounding sequel to the Rogue River Novellas.
Rogue Winter Novella #2
Dead In Her Tracks
Author: Kendra Elliot
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release Date: November 17, 2015
This wasn’t how Police Chief Zane Duncan expected to spend his first Christmas with fellow officer and girlfriend Stevie Taylor. But when a local motel calls in the discovery of a dead body, the couple’s holiday takes a grim turn. This is the second murder in Solitude within the week, despite the fact that their primary suspect is already in custody. Together, Zane and Stevie must face a disturbing truth—their small town may be harboring twokillers.
As their investigation digs deep into the backgrounds of newcomers and longtime residents alike, Zane and Stevie also struggle to adjust to life under the same roof. Even if the stress of homicides and cohabitation don’t bring an end to the couple, the murderer lying in wait just might.
Dead In Her Tracks Exclusive Excerpt
The young woman appeared to be asleep.
But the dark bruising around her neck told Solitude police officer Stevie Taylor otherwise. That, and the fact that the woman didn’t stir as four cops tramped through the motel room.
The Wayward Motel was straight out of a bad movie, and Stevie wouldn’t have recommended it to her worst enemy. It catered to the truckers at the adjacent truck stop, and apparently the truckers didn’t generate enough revenue for the motel to patch the holes in the walls or replace the rusted sinks. When Stevie was in high school, it had been rumored that the Wayward would rent rooms to students for a few hours. Her boyfriends had never suggested it. Looking around now, she was glad she’d seen only the backseats of their cars.
“Damn it,” muttered Zane Duncan, Solitude’s police chief. “That makes two murdered women within a few days.”
“Merry Christmas,” whispered Stevie. Two hours earlier she and Zane had been celebrating at her mother’s home, giving thanks that her brother Bruce had survived a near-fatal car accident and that her sister, Carly, and Carly’s daughter, Brianna, hadn’t been hurt in a carjacking.
Charlie, the hotel manager, leaned into the room, his toes squarely behind the door frame. Three times Stevie had asked him to stay out of the way. He’d already admitted he’d lifted the floral bedspread to look at the woman after entering the room. He’d told Stevie and Zane his maid had unlocked the door and immediately called him. The sobbing maid currently sat in the lobby, giving a statement to Kenny.
The smell of decay hung heavily in the room, easily overpowering a faint scent of bleach. The girl had been dead for several days. Her stomach was bloated, and the shape of her face was distorted. Flies buzzed, happy they’d been allowed in the room. Stevie fought the urge to take Zane’s hand and absorb some of his strength to help her handle the sight.
“I thought you said the room was cleaned yesterday,” said Stevie, raising a brow at Charlie. He had managed the motel for as long as she could remember. When she was in junior high, she’d thought he was old, but now she knew he was, and he still looked exactly the same. Impossibly scrawny limbs and a beer gut. A graying comb-over and smoker’s lines around his mouth.
“It was. Rosa checked it off the list and noted that she didn’t change out the towels.”
“This woman didn’t die last night,” Stevie pointed out. Charlie shrugged. “Then someone moved her here. I don’t think Rosa would have missed a body.”
Stevie moved closer to the girl and the bleach odor grew stronger.
“She’s been cleaned,” said Zane quietly, voicing Stevie’s thought. He took three steps to poke his head in the tiny bathroom and took a big sniff. “Didn’t happen in there,” he said as he returned to Stevie’s side. “The bathroom hasn’t seen bleach in decades.”
“We need to stop meeting like this,” Hank, the Rogue County medical examiner, said to Zane as he stepped inside the room, causing Charlie to glower as he moved out of the way. Hank slid on a pair of glasses and clucked his tongue in sympathy as he studied the woman in the bed. “Got yourself another young one.” His nostrils flared. “Bleach, eh?”
“We were just talking about that,” said Stevie. She liked Hank. His laid-back country attitude contrasted with his sharp eyes that didn’t miss a detail.
He looked at Stevie and Zane for the first time. “What’s the story?”
“Maid found her this morning. She checked in on the twenty-first. Vanessa Phillips. Age twenty-five. Lives in Eugene. The maid said there was no one in the room when she cleaned it yesterday or the day before.”
“Hmmmm,” said Hank. He slipped on a pair of gloves, pulled back the bedspread a few feet, and rotated the woman’s head so she faced the ceiling. “Rigor’s come and gone. Someone gave her a bleach rinse and then moved her here. She didn’t die in the bed.” He glanced around the room. “You found the murder scene?”
“Not yet,” said Zane. “We’ve been here ten minutes. The bathtub is dry. Definitely no bleach odor in there.”
“Was she on her side like this when you found her?” Hank included Charlie in the question with a look over his shoulder.
“Yeah, I didn’t touch her! Neither did Rosa . . . at least she said she didn’t. I can’t imagine she wanted to get too close to that. Rosa was hysterical when she came to pound on my office door.” He pulled up on his belt. “I checked her”—he nodded at the bed—“into the motel four days ago. I didn’t see her around after that, but she was supposed to check out this morning. She told me she planned to surprise her parents by showing up on Christmas Day.”
“How long do you think she’s been dead, Hank?” Stevie asked in a low voice.
Hank shook his head. “Depends where she’s been. If she was outdoors for a while, the cold will have slowed down the decaying process. But if Charlie is positive he saw her four days ago, then I suspect she was killed within twenty-four hours after that. I’ll know more after I run some tests. But if I were you, I’d be looking for a scene from two to three days ago.” Hank studied her features. “Looks like she was a pretty girl. And about the same age as Amber Lynn.” He peered at Stevie and Zane over his glasses. “Maybe you’re already holding her killer in a Solitude police cell.”
Melinda Leigh is a fully recovered banker. A lifelong lover of books, she started writing as a way to preserve her sanity when her youngest child entered first grade. During the next few years, she joined Romance Writers of America, learned a few things about writing a book, and decided the process was way more fun than analyzing financial statements. Melinda’s debut novel, She Can Run, was nominated for Best First Novel by the International Thriller Writers. Melinda’s bestselling books have garnered three Daphne du Maurier Award nominations and a Golden Leaf Award. When she isn’t writing, she is an avid martial artist: she holds a second-degree black belt in Kenpo karate and teaches women’s self-defense. She lives in a messy house with her husband, two teenagers, a couple of dogs, and two rescue cats.
Kendra Elliot won the 2015 and 2014 Daphne du Maurier Awards for Best Romantic Suspense. She was also an International Thriller Writers finalist for Best Paperback Original and a Romantic Times finalist for Best Romantic Suspense. Elliot shares her love of suspense through the many novels set in the Bone Secrets universe. She lives in the rainy Pacific Northwest with her husband, three daughters, and a Pomeranian, but she dreams of living every day in flip-flops. She loves to hear from readers through her website, www.KendraElliot.com.