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Death at Lovers Leap by Catherine Coles #Review#PublicationDay

    Today I am featuring the third in a cozy crime series by Catherine Coles , The Martha Miller Mysteries . Death at Lovers' Leap is published today, on February 16th by Boldwood Books .You can read my review of the first in the series, Poison at the Village Show   here amd the second, Death at the Country Fair   here .     Westleham Village 1948 As Valentine's Day rolls around, Martha Miller finds herself unusually melancholy at the state of her own love life. With husband Stan still missing and with her growing feelings for Vicar Luke still shrouded in secrecy, there’s only one place Martha can go - famous local beauty spot, Lovers' Leap. Legend has it that those with a broken heart throw themselves off the bridge that spans the river, but Martha is certainly not about to do such a thing! But it looks like someone else has had other ideas…. Because there in the river, Martha finds a body. But is this misadventure, a moment of lovesick madness, or is foul play a

Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb #Review #Extract #Giveaway

I am delighted to be on the Orenda blog tour for Steph Broadribb's 3rd Lori Anderson novel, Deep Dirty Truth on its Publication Day. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two and you can read my reviews here: Deep Down Dead  |  Deep Blue Trouble

In addition to my review, there is an extract for you to read, to sample Steph's great writing style and also a great Giveaway. details on how to enter are at the foot of this post. 


A price on her head, and just 48 hours to expose the truth, and save her family… 

Single-mother bounty hunter Lori Anderson has finally got her family back together, but her new-found happiness is shattered when she’s snatched by the Miami Mob, who they want her dead. But rather than a bullet, they offer her a job: find the Mob’s ‘numbers man’ – Carlton North – who’s in protective custody after being forced to turn federal witness against them. If Lori succeeds, they’ll wipe the slate clean and the price on her head – and those of her family – will be removed. If she fails, they die.

With only 48 hours before North is due to appear in court, Lori sets across Florida, racing against the clock to find him, and save her family… 

Brimming with tension, high-stakes jeopardy and high-voltage action, and a deep, emotional core, Deep Dirty Truth is an unmissable thriller by one of the freshest and most exciting voices in crime fiction.

Extract - Chapter 5


I come to with a jolt. 

    I’m choking. Disorientated. Blind. I try to cough, but my lips are locked closed. I claw for my throat, but my hands won’t move. By body feels numb, my limbs heavy and alien. Panic grips me. My pulse thumps in my ears. I can’t get enough air. 

    A door bangs. Men’s voices come closer. 

    ‘You still here, blondie?’ one growls. 

    His mate laughs. 

    The stench of vinegar-like cologne makes me remember. I’m in a barn, held captive by these people; my mouth is forced shut by tape, there’s a noose tight around my throat. My legs aren’t supporting my weight and I’ve slumped forwards onto the noose – that’s what’s choking me. I coax my muscles into action and push back against the pillar, ignoring the bite of wood splinters in my flesh. The grip of the noose loosens a fraction and I inhale through my nose. Feel my heartbeat start to return back to normal and wonder how long I’ve been unconscious. Wonder what the hell will happen next. 

     I don’t have to wait long to find out. 

    They release the noose, cut the tape around my ankles, and I drop to the ground, my legs too numbed by cramp to hold me. With my hands still bound behind my back there’s no way to break my fall and I faceplant onto the dirt floor. The impact knocks the breath clean out of me. 

    The men laugh. 

    The growler prods me with his boot. ‘On your feet.’ 

    Asshole. I don’t move. Refuse to flounder at their feet. I can’t get up with my hands tied, and I can’t tell them that because of the gag. They’re going to have to figure it out for themselves. 

    It takes a minute, but they catch on. I can tell by the smell that it’s cologne guy who hauls me to my feet. Shoving me in my back he says, ‘Walk.’ 

    I stumble forwards, but don’t fall this time. Force one foot in front of the other, wobbly as a minutes-old colt. One of them grabs my arm and pulls me along faster. It’s all I can do to stay upright. 

    We pass from the darkness of the barn back into the light, but the sun is weaker than before, and the heat’s not as intense. I want to ask where we’re going, but I can’t. All I can do is keep going forwards as directed, hating the feeling of powerlessness. 

    The man on my left growls a command: ‘Step up.’ 

    I do as he says and my feet land on wood. The heels of my cowboy boots clonk across boards and I wonder if we’re on a porch. A few steps later and I hear a door creak open. They push me inside. 

    I smell fresh bread and gardenia blooms and wonder where the hell I am. Cologne guy is still behind me, pushing. I keep walking.

     ‘Stop.’ Growler says, grabbing my elbow. ‘This is you.’ 

    I hear another door open, and Growler pulls me hard to the left. The door closes again, and I hear a bolt scraping across wood.

     Growler releases my arm. ‘Hold still now.’ 

    I do as he says. 

    He removes the hood first. The light is unbearably bright and I snap my eyes shut, then start to blink rapidly, trying to adjust. Next he rips the tape from my mouth. 

    I inhale hard. Open my eyes. See I’m in a bathroom that’s decorated in more shades of pink than I’d ever realised existed. ‘What the—?’ 

    ‘No cussing.’ Growler cocks his head to one side. ‘Ain’t that kind of house.’ 

    ‘You’re kidding, right?’ My voice is rasping. My throat’s dry as the desert. ‘It’s okay for you to abduct me and hold me here as your captive, but damn me to hell if I dare to take the Lord’s—’ 

    The blow comes fast and hard to the side of my head. Oftentimes I’d have moved with its momentum and stayed standing, but I’m too weak and groggy, so I crumple to the floor, landing on my ass on the fluffy bath mat. 

    Growler looks down at me. ‘I warned you, this is no place for bad language.’ Rubbing his knuckles, he shakes his head. Looks almost apologetic. ‘This pains me as much as you. I sure do hate having to hurt a woman.’ 

    I glare at him. My hands are still bound, but I feel around on the mat behind me, searching for anything I could use as a weapon. ‘Trust me, honey. I’ve taken worse than your little-girl punch.’ 

    He watches me a moment then shrugs. ‘Guess that’s okay then.’ 

    I find nothing of use. Keep staring, appraising my enemy. Growler’s about six foot tall and medium build, real tan with cropped dark hair, and older than I’d reckoned on – nearer fifty than thirty – wearing cargo pants and a white wife-beater with a plaid overshirt. I take note that underneath the shirt he’s got a gun in a shoulder holster, and note the bulge around the left ankle of his pants – a back-up piece is strapped there, for sure. 

    ‘So what now?’ 

    Growler doesn’t answer. He steps behind me and kneels down. I tense. Get ready to scoot forwards. Then I hear the rip of tape and my wrists are free. I rotate my arms gingerly. Wince as I massage my wrists where the tape has cut into them. 

    I glance over my shoulder at Growler. ‘You don’t like to hurt women, huh?’ 

    ‘Freshen up. There are clean towels in the closet and toiletries in the rack.’ 

    ‘I’d rather you took me home.’ 

    ‘Not my call. Right now, I need for you need to get washed and presentable.’ 

    I shake my head. ‘For what?’ 

    He steps back around me, heading to the door. He raps on it twice in quick succession. As the bolt slides back, he turns to look at me. ‘Do as you’re told, and don’t think about trying anything funny.’ He nods towards the window. ‘There’re bars on the outside. You’ve got no way to get free.’ 

    I wait until he’s out of the room and the bolt’s been drawn back into place on the outside of the door before I move, not wanting him to see how unsteady I am. Easing myself to my feet, I stagger forwards and grip the washbasin. My head’s spinning, and my vision’s blurred. I lied to Growler; his punch was pretty damn hard.

     I splash cold water over my face. Feeling half crazed with thirst, I duck my head down and let the water run over my lips. I take a mouthful and swallow. Cough from the liquid hitting my parched throat, and spit it out. Try again, but it still makes me gag. I try smaller sips and manage to keep some water down. 

    There’s banging on the door. ‘Hurry up in there, you hear? Get in the shower.’ 

    They’re listening to me. I glance round the bathroom, wondering if they’re watching too, but see no obvious cameras. It doesn’t make sense, this change in the way they’re managing me. Why tie me hooded in a stress position in the barn for hours without any interrogation, and then bring me into the house for a shower? It’s like no kind of abduction technique that I’ve ever heard of. 

    The move inside this house has given me a bunch more information, and there are things bothering me a whole lot more now than when these men were treating me mean. This bathroom has bars on the window and a lock on the outside of the door. Unless it was put there for my benefit, it seems they have a habit of taking prisoners into this bathroom. And Growler saying he didn’t like it when he had to hit women makes me think they could be in the business of abducting women against their will; sex trafficking. Making my abduction about my gender rather than me personally.

     But that doesn’t ring true. If my hunch about where we are geographically is right, then the people holding me dabble in sex trafficking, drugs and a whole lot more bad business. But the reason for them snatching me, and my being here, will be personal. Dead personal. 

    I shudder. The only way to know for sure is to play this through to the end. 

    Moving across the room to the closet, I open the doors. Inside it’s stacked with towels, aligned into sizes and sorted by colour. I pick two red ones and close the closet. Stepping across to the corner closest the door, I fold my clothes into a pile on the wicker chair and step into the shower, pulling the smoked-glass screen closed behind me. 

    The shower is powerful. I let the water cascade over me, washing away the sweat and dust. I find shampoo in the rack and wash my hair. I’m rinsing away the soap when I hear a door bang. Spinning round, I peer through the glass, but it’s too opaque and I see nothing. Heart thumping, I shut off the water and reach for a towel, wrapping it around me before opening the shower door. 

    The bathroom’s empty, but someone has been inside. 

    My clothes and boots are gone. In their place on the wicker chair is a glass of orange liquid and a bag of cosmetics. Hanging from the mirror is a dress: a floaty, cute chiffon number with blue flowers on cream. There’s a note pinned to it. Reaching out, I rip off the paper and read what it says. 

    Wear this. Make yourself pretty. You’ve got ten minutes.

My Thoughts

This extract captures Steph's style of writing perfectly with its fast pacing and the intensity of the action. I think that I can say that  Deep Dirty Truth is my favourite of the three Lori Anderson novels. It felt very accessible and well put together and the sections where the action alternate between Steph and JT seem to be seamless. Lori is a strong, independent woman but it is great to see her vulnerability through her relationship with JT and their daughter, Dakota. It adds a depth to the story and contrasts with the all action, high octane writing which leaves you breathless as the story evolves. This has to make a great film!

    North turns out to be a great addition to the story and sheds light on events from the past. There are quite a few surprises which I did not see coming. With short and snappy chapters, the author shows superb control of the narrative. There is a tangible difference in tone between the Lori chapters and the ones where we see JT and Dakota. It lets you breathe a little between the action. Deep Dirty Truth really is a brilliant addition to the series and genuinely adds to our knowledge of the characters. 

In short: Fresh, high octane writing. .

About the Author 

Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in
Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego – Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases. She is also a member of the crime-themed girl band The Splice Girls. Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California, which inspired her Lori Anderson thrillers. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens. Her debut thriller, Deep Down Dead, was shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Awards in two categories, and hit number one on the UK and AU kindle charts. My Little Eye, her first novel under her pseudonym Stephanie Marland was published by Trapeze Books in April 2018.

You can follow Steph here:  Website   |   Twitter  |   Facebook.

Book link: Amazon UK 

Thanks to Steph Broadribb, Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater of Orenda Books for a copy of the book and a place on the tour.

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                                                                         Giveaway (UK only)

To win a copy of Deep Dirty Truth, just Follow and Retweet the pinned Tweet at @bookslifethings.   Closing Date is 31st January 2019 and there is one winner. Good luck!


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