Rogue Winter Novella #1
Title: 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.
Tracks of Her Tears Exclusive Excerpt
The Rogue County medical examiner crouched next to the remains, a folded black body bag and his field kit on the ground within reach.
Seth’s gaze dropped to the victim. Damn. Barely ten feet into the winter-bare woods, she lay facedown in the dirt under the spreading branches of an evergreen. A red jacket and a thin layer of snow made her look like an obscene package stuffed under a Christmas tree. Dead leaves and twigs matted long, dark hair that reminded Seth far too much of his wife. The gender of his victim shouldn’t make a difference, but it did to Seth. Violent crime always felt more offensive when women or children were involved.
“Hank?” Seth called to the ME.
Hank, sixtyish and built like Santa, glanced over his shoulder. Just under the band of a navy-blue knit cap, a snowflake stuck to one bushy black-and-gray eyebrow. “There you are, Seth. Been waiting for you.”
“I appreciate that.” A vague sense of disquiet fell over Seth as he studied the victim. She was petite. Her body and clothing looked youthful. Snow dusted the back of her head, jacket, and jeans, indicating she’d been on the ground before or during the previous night’s light snowfall. There was something about her that was raising the hairs on the back of Seth’s neck. Something he couldn’t quite pinpoint but instinctively knew was important. What is it?
“What can you tell me?” he asked the ME.
“She’s fresh.” Hank waved toward her torso. “I’ll give you a tighter window after the autopsy, but it appears she’s been dead less than twelve hours, but probably more than six.”
Seth did the math in his head. “So she died between eight o’clock last night and two o’clock this morning.” The estimate correlated with the previous night’s weather. The storm had started around ten, and light snow had fallen on and off until dawn, with some flurries since. “Any identification on the body?”
Hank shook his head. “Her pockets are empty, except for a ChapStick and a lollipop in her jacket.”
“No sign of a purse yet,” Phil said.
Hank shifted his soft bulk and lifted her hair. Bruises circled her neck. “Manual strangulation is a strong contender for cause of death.”
Seth leaned in to examine her hands. “Looks like she resisted. She has a couple of broken nails. Let’s hope she got a chunk of DNA under one of them.”
Straightening, he took in the empty area. Except for the three boys, there was no one in sight but law enforcement personnel. Whoever dumped her had probably assumed the park would be empty. The boat ramp didn’t get much use this time of year. If the teens hadn’t been so pumped up to do doughnuts in the snow, weeks could have passed before anyone made the gruesome discovery.
“Was she killed here?” Seth asked.
Hank lifted the hem of her jacket and pointed to purple stains that colored the skin close to where it rested on the ground. “From what I can see, lividity suggests she’s been in this position since she died.” When the heart stopped pumping, blood settled in the lowest parts of the body and turned the skin purple. “If she wasn’t killed in this location, she was dumped here soon after death.”
“When can you do the autopsy?” Seth asked.
“I’ll try to get it done today.” Hank looked up at the photographer. “Are you finished with the preliminary pictures?”
The cop nodded.
“Then let’s get her to the morgue.” Hank unfolded the body bag next to the corpse and slipped paper bags over the hands to preserve the evidence that might be lodged under the fingernails. “Want to give me a hand turning her over, Seth?”
Not really. But Seth crouched next to the body and helped the older ME gently roll her over onto the open bag. Shock snapped his head back. Instead of sightless brown eyes and white-as-frost skin, Seth was seeing a pretty brunette standing in his mother-in-law’s kitchen. He placed his hands on his knees and stared, disbelief and horror swirling in his gut. “I know her.”
“How?” Phil asked with a surprised lift to one eyebrow.
Seth stood, his mind reeling. “Her name is Amber Lynn Cooper, and she’s my brother-in-law Bruce’s girlfriend.”
Shit. Shit. Shit.
Rogue Winter Novella #2
Title: 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.
About the Authors
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.
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.