Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Book Tour ~ Paris with Life by John Taylor


Pairs With Life
by John Taylor
Genre: Humorous Fiction, Contemporary Romance 

Forty-eight-year-old Corbett Thomas, a one-hit-wonder of the 90s, now works as the lead sommelier at Napa Valley’s hippest restaurant. Set to become one of the few Master Sommeliers in the world, Corbett self-destructs during his final exam, ruining his last chance at capturing the stardom and adoration he got a taste for in his youth.

When billionaire game designer, Brogan Prescott, asks Corbett to consult on a major vineyard acquisition, Corbett sees it as a shot at redemption, until he learns of Brogan’s ridiculous vision of a virtual-reality, Woke Ant Colony Winery. Disgusted, Corbett decides to buy the vineyard himself and preserve its magic and history. Cashless, clueless, and with his reputation in tatters, Corbett enlists the help of his bass-player-turned-lawyer Seamus O’Flaherty, who may have finally lost his stomach for Corbett’s bad ideas; his uber-rational daughter Remy, who wants Corbett to uncork some family secrets he’d rather leave in the cellar; and Sydney Cameron, whose sudden appearance in Corbett’s life may repair his heart or shatter it forever.

With their help-and sometimes despite it-Corbett discovers what Brogan has known all along: a four-billion-dollar gold deposit lies beneath the vineyard. If Brogan acquires the property, the ensuing gold rush will destroy Napa Valley.

But if Corbett can get out of his own way long enough to purchase the vineyard first, he’ll be faced with the hardest decision of his life: take the fame and fortune he desperately craves, or save the soul of the valley he loves so much.

John Taylor has been writing about wine since 2012, but his meanderings on life began way before that. Born and raised in San Diego, California, John moved to Los Angeles in 1982 to pursue dreams of screenwriting and filmmaking. He attended the University of Southern California, where he majored in Shattered Dreams and False Hopes, with a minor in Getting Gut Punched By Reality. After being handed a degree in Journalism in 1987 as a consolation prize, John dove into a career in music. Because getting gut-punched just isn’t painful enough.
By 1996, John and his band, The Uninvited, had produced four independent albums and became one of the most popular acts in the western United States. This lead to a deal on Atlantic Records, which released the band’s self-titled debut album in 1997. The band had two Top 100 hits, and toured nationally with Dave Matthews, Blues Traveller, Third Eye Blind and many other acts. Their music appeared in the TV shows Beverly Hills 90210 and Party of Five, and in the motion pictures The Commandments and North Beach. The band can also be heard in several HBO Documentaries, video games and on that annoying “One Hit Wonders of The 90’s” station your co-worker always plays on Spotify.
In 2001, John’s vast experience in shattered dreams was once again called into play as the band hung up their touring shoes for good. After a brief but horrifying career in real estate, John got wise and made a career out of his favorite hobby – wine – and has held various sales & marketing positions in Napa Valley since 2011. John’s writing career started in earnest at this point, with blogs, essays and short stories appearing in various publications. John is the author of three novels, including the aptly-titled Pairs With: Life, which will be released by Hurn Publications in September 2020.

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

$10 Amazon, Signed Copy of Book 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Release Blitz ~ Edge Of Tomorrow by Freya Barker


Title:Edge Of Tomorrow (Arrow's Edge MC, #3) 

Author: Freya Barker 

Genre: Romantic Suspense 

Release Date: September 21, 2020 

Photographer: KW Photography 

Models: Darrin Dedmond & Baby John 

Hosted by: Buoni Amici Press, LLC.

Solitude and motor oil meets soul food and wariness

I’m a grease-stained enigma. A watcher, a protector, an ex-con, and a mechanic. My name is Brick. I’m old enough to know good things come to those who wait, and hungry enough to go after what I want. I am a proud independent.

A nurturer, a cook, a casualty, and a grandparent. My name is Lisa. I’m cautious enough to keep my distance, and too wise to let a chance at love pass me by. We seem unmatched—in race, in history, in lifestyle—but when tragedy leaves a baby in our care and a target on our backs, we discover the strength of family.


Available in Kindle Unlimited


Tweet: The Latest Book In the Arrows Edge MC Edge of Tomorrow By @Freya_Barker is #Live @Amazon #KU #BAPpr #KindleUnlimited #MCRomance

USA Today bestselling author Freya Barker loves writing about ordinary people with extraordinary stories.
Driven to make her books about 'real' people; she creates characters who are perhaps less than perfect, each struggling to find their own slice of happy, but just as deserving of romance, thrills and chills in their lives.
Recipient of the 2019 Best Book We've Read All Year Award for "Covering Ollie, the 2015 RomCon “Reader’s Choice” Award for Best First Book, “Slim To None”, and Finalist for the 2017 Kindle Book Award with “From Dust”, Freya continues to add to her rapidly growing collection of published novels as she spins story after story with an endless supply of bruised and dented characters, vying for attention!

Available in Kindle Unlimited



COVER REVEAL ~ S.A. Clayton's " Easy To Lose"


Coming October 19th!

From author S.A. Clayton comes a slow burn second chance romance that will leave you breathless!

Easy To Lose is a stand alone novel set in Kristen Proby's Boudreaux Universe.


Leaving New York after my now ex-fiancĂ© cheated on me was easy. 

Moving back home to Miami to run Charly Boudreaux’s Head Over Heels expansion store, even as it scares the hell out of me…also easy.

Finding out that Owen Peters, my ex-best friend and the boy I fell in love with in high school, the one who broke my heart, works next door? Not quite so easy. 


Hearing that Morgan Lawson is finally coming home makes me ecstatic. It provides me with a second chance—something I waited ten years to grasp. 

Watching her struggle to accept the body she was born with, the one that makes me crazy with desire, allows me to show her exactly how beautiful she is, both inside and out—and how much she means to me. 

Letting her go the first time was a huge mistake, and I refuse to go down that road again. Because not realizing how easy she was to lose, or how not having her in my life makes me feel incomplete, is something I never want to experience again.


Pre-order your copy today!


Add to Goodreads:  

Want to learn more about Kristen’s Boudreaux Universe? Find out more here: 

About :

S.A. Clayton lives in a small town outside of Toronto, Canada with her husband of five years and her scary large collection of books that seem to take over every room.
She has worked on both sides of the publishing industry, both in a bookstore and for actual publishing companies. Although she loved both for different reasons, she found that writing was her true passion and has spent the last few years breaking into the industry as best she can.
She is a lover of all things romance and began her writing journey in her late twenties. Since then, she has immersed herself in the romance genre and couldn't be happier.
When she's not writing or reading, she enjoys binging a great Netflix show (Stranger Things anyone?), baking (because who doesn't love cookies!) and spending time with her family.

Follw her here :

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Friday, September 18, 2020

Blog Tour ~ The Fergus by Tori Grant Wellhouse


The Fergus
by Tori Grant Welhouse
Genre: YA Fantasy 


SUNK IN HIS OWN THOUGHTS, Rork looked up finally and took in the vast stretches of treeless wasteland that surrounded them on all sides. He and Deirdre were completely and utterly alone. He felt exposed, and he didn’t like it. Walking dispelled the feeling of vulnerability a little. At least he was doing something active.

“How’re you doing?” he asked Deirdre.

“Fine,” she said. She watched the ground, looking up reluctantly. “You know the moors when the heather’s fairly blooming? Great swathes of purple flowers? As far as the eye can see?”

“Aye,” said Rork. “This looks a little different.”

“Aye,” said Deirdre, tucking her chin.

Rork noticed Deirdre held her hands together in front of her, as if protecting something. He thought he caught a glimpse of color.

“What do you have there?” He motioned with his head.

“Nothing,” said Deirdre.

“It looks like something,” insisted Rork.

Deirdre didn’t answer him, and Rork let it go. Certainly, they had enough to contend with without him prying deeper than was acceptable to Deirdre.

Companionably silent, they continued to walk the lonely, sweeping landscape, the wind whistling through the weedy heaths. Peaty soil muffled the sound of their boots.

They stopped for water, Deirdre handicapped by her two already occupied hands. At last she looked at Rork.

“I have a stowaway,” she confessed, opening her hands to reveal a bedraggled daisy, still thriving coin-eyed in the palm of her hand.

“Oh,” said Rork, dribbling water down the front of his shirt. “How are you doing that?”

“As long as it remains in contact with me, it will survive. At least for a while.” Deirdre smiled like the Flower Girl he’d first encountered.

“That’s quite a trick,” said Rork.

Deirdre touched the daisy’s petals. “I have a memory of my mother with daisies in her hair. She had long, wavy hair like me.”

He thought she was looking for something from him. Understanding? Compassion? 

“I don’t know what the occasion was, but I can still see her. Vaguely. Her face creased. Smiling into the sun. Daisies tucked in her hair.” Deirdre placed the daisy carefully behind her ear. “Eventually it will need more nutrients than I can provide.” She took a gulp of water from her canteen and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “Don’t tell me when it dies.”

The moorland waited for them, unrelenting into the distance. Rork had no idea how many days they’d been hiking. If it even had been days. Increments of time didn’t feel the same in Shufftie. He’d figured at least that much out about where they were. He wondered what kept the banshee. Should they stop for the night? Or would-be night? He reached for the bag of Deirdre’s trail mix he’d looped on his belt. Suddenly, he felt strange all over. His heart began to beat rapidly. His skin tingled. Supernatural feelings were beginning to feel all too common to him.

“What the…tell?” he said, explosively, trying to avoid again offending Deirdre.

An uncanny cackle reverberated in the air around him, through him. It seemed to be emanating from him, but it wasn’t him.

He began to hyperventilate.

Deirdre looked at him, concerned.

The cackle grew louder. “I am you, and you are me!” 

Rork’s chest rose and fell, rose and fell. He clawed at himself. “Get out of me!” he yelled again. “Deirdre!” he yelled, simultaneously a cry for help and a warning.

Deirdre took a wary step towards him.

“No!” he commanded.

Deirdre backed away, moving closer to the ground, crouching as small as possible.

Rork contorted in the throes of his backpack. “Off, off!” he cried. He threw his backpack to the ground. It kicked up gray dust, but still he struggled, seemingly at war with himself. He felt like he had a fever, a tightness in his chest, a heavy binding. “Get. Out.” The words were strangled, tortured.

The cackle filled the whole of his skull. “We are one. I squat on your bones! I feel what you feel.”



Rork threw himself to the ground and rolled back and forth as if possessed, continuing to slap at himself.

“I love your granny. Maybe I will meet her. Yum. Yum.”

“Shut. Up!” Rork could feel thoughts he didn’t recognize, strange, dark thoughts lurking, as if he were being taunted, stalked. He felt like ripping the heads off dolls, chickens. Doing damage. 

“And you feel something for this one. Yes?” That infernal cackle! It was an assault to his ears.

G-a-a-a-h, Rork thought, rolling into a clump of vicious-looking scrub. He’d rather feel anything — discomfort, pain. Any. Thing. But. This. 

Distantly he felt the jagged slicing of skin, the stinging of nettles, pickers, the air-wrapped coolness of many small wounds.

“Stop that,” said the ghost, an edge of annoyance creeping into his voice. “No pain! Pain, I’ve had enough of! I want your other thoughts.”

Rork rolled deeper into the scrub, protecting his face with his forearms. He didn’t think. He tried not to regard the piercing into his flesh. Thorns, sharp edges seemed to find him. His clothes bunched up, exposing his shins, stomach, lower back. The scrub lacerated him. Now in his head the sound of ripping, small tears.

“Nononononononononononononono,” whined the voice.

A ghostly head erupted out of Rork’s chest. Rork paused in his self-immolation.

“Why’d you have to do that?” the ghost asked Rork, nose to nose. “I want my fun.”

“I don’t want your fun!” gasped Rork, dripping blood from countless small cuts crisscrossing his forearms, hands, neck.

The rest of the ghost emerged from Rork, a short, dumpy man with waxy skin and a sparse comb-over. He had a large belly and short, fleshy arms.

“I want my fun,” he continued to pout, the shadow of whiskers darkening the loose folds of his neck. His pants were too short, revealing pale ankles, incongruously manicured feet in walking sandals. “Fun, fun, fun is what I’m about.”

He spied Deirdre, kneeling in the moorland, limp daisy petals drooping from behind her ear. Her eyes were huge, cumulus, but she seemed frozen in place as the ghost parasite almost skipped towards her.

Rork panted on the ground, watching in dread as the ghost closed the distance between them. “Come back!” he shouted, trying desperately to disentangle from the scrub.

But it was too late.

The ghost chanted. “Fun, fun, I will have my fun. Get ready, because here I come.”

With that, the ghost pinched his nose and dove feet first into Deirdre.

“N-o-o-o-o-o!” said Rork, renting the open sky of the vast, open moorlands with his shout.

Deirdre’s arms buckled, and she sunk lower to the ground, absorbing the ghost’s impact. She began to breathe fast, shallow breaths through her nose. Like the Little Engine That Could. Or couldn’t. Rork dragged himself out of the scrub, watching her anxiously. How would she react to the ghost’s invasion?

Deirdre got up hesitantly, unfurling upwards, as if testing her limbs.

“Ooo, ooo,” squealed the ghost. “Lots of room. Such tidy thoughts!”

She turned almost coyly and looked at Rork. Something Deirdre in her storm cloud eyes. Something not.

“Not immune to you either, the Fergus.” The ghost’s godforsaken cackle rang in the air.

Rork had managed to haul himself to a standing position. His skin was starting to welt and throb, but he ignored it. He took a few cautious steps towards Deirdre, thinking that perhaps he could wring the ghost out of her.

“No, no, loonie,” said the ghost. “I am not such a fool.”

Deirdre closed her eyes, facing what would have been the sun. She bunched her hair in a makeshift ponytail, letting the bulk of her hair remain in a loop. It was a uniquely Deirdre gesture. As well as the squaring of her packless shoulders. That was Deirdre all over. Her quiet resolve.

“What are you thinking, my girl?” said the ghost, a note of concern creeping into his voice.

Deirdre took off running, her long legs churning across the moorlands. She didn’t seem to care where she went. She just ran. Forging forward. Like a deer or gazelle. As if speed and distance and sheer propulsion could rid her of the cackling menace.

Rork took off after her, doing his best to keep up, but he was tired and sore, and his clothes rubbed against his poor, abraded skin. It took everything he had to keep her in view.

She was so fast. He’d had no clue of the ground she could cover.

She raced through Level Four: The Meadows, the dry grasses waving as she sped past, the rushes, too. Flowering marsh plants seemed to perk up and pay attention, Eyebright, blue-white in the gray light, but distinctively striped, with leaves like parsley, and hairy lousewort with their waxy, flowering tubers.

There was static in Rork’s head. Was it exhaustion? Fury? Had the voices in his head changed channels? Rork inhaled a ragged breath and tried to close the ever-widening gap between him and Deirdre. Whenever his gran had needed to cajole him — to try something new, to expend a little more effort — she got round him by calling him her pet name, “the Fergus.”

“Come now, the Fergus.”

“You can do it, the Fergus.”

It was part of the shared lexicon between he and his gran. Private.

Rork growled at the thought of a ghost violating this revered space and got a spurt of energy. Up ahead, Deirdre’s legs flashed on the trail, gleaming in the gray glow. Rork hoped the ghost would find all the exertion upsetting. He looked like a particularly indolent sort of ghost to Rork.

Deirdre galloped past the trailhead to Level Five: The Lochs, and then they overlooked a valley of glistening tarns, reflecting silver-glint in the overcast sky. The lochs were movingly beautiful but shadowed by looming mountain precipices on all sides, hinting at more treacherous terrain to come.

Rork stopped for breath, clutching his side. He took in great lungfuls of air, the static in his head continuing its white noise distraction. The dead chorus was on hiatus, and it worried him. Like something bad was about to happen. The calm before all-hell-broke-loose.

He watched Deirdre continue to run, her legs rippling with muscle, grit, sweat. Unable to stop. Desperate. And so far, the ghost was unshakeable. Rork could hear its cries echoing back to him.

“Giddy-up, young lassie!”

As if Deirdre was a wild mustang for the breaking.

Even the water plants, the ones that liked their roots wet, water lobelia and water plantain, shook their lush abundance with worry.

The white noise began to gather, getting louder in his head. Rush. A premonition of fear gripped him. Rork ran and hobbled, ran and hobbled. A strange sound came out of him as he tried to catch Deirdre. He hissed to himself. “Keep up, the Fergus. Keep up.”

Deirdre’s desperate run dead-ended at a bluff. There was nowhere for her to go. A raging river coursed below, agitated by the fall of water from above them. The waterfall dropped from the jagged foothills of the mountain summits.

Deirdre stomped around the bluff’s edge, snorting through her nostrils.

The crash of water filled Rork’s skull, building pressure behind his cheekbones. It appeared to be the source of all the static he had been feeling. If only he’d known.

Deirdre paused to look back at Rork who was hurtling towards her, streaked with blood and sweat and grime.

For a moment it was really Deirdre. Rork was close enough to see it in the flash of starburst in her eyes. She moved her lips, trying to say something.

The damned ghost cackled.

Deirdre gave him her version of a smile and turned back to the bluff. Then she long-jumped into the rampant river, hanging purposefully in the air, surrounded by the thunderous sound of white water.

“Deirdre!” yelled Rork. He bent over at the edge of the bluff, panting, and saw Deirdre’s boots disappear in a sweeping wave of water. The ghost pulled out just before Deirdre plunged below the surface.

“What have you done?” gasped Rork.

“And so, we become our fears,” said the ghost. He waggled his eyebrows, and the scant pelt on the top of his head moved up and down.

“I could kill you,” said Rork, through clenched teeth.

The ghost cackled. “Already been done, dear boy. Already been done.”

Rork could not even feel relief when the ghost took off into the sky. He watched Deirdre struggle to keep her head above water as she was carried relentlessly downriver, telltale letters following her: River of Forgetting.

In the mystical Highlands of Scotland, Rork, missing his beloved gran, wakes up with the ability to hear voices. And not just any voices. Fantastically Rork can hear voices of the dead, which lead him to a charismatic banshee and a colorful near-death survivor. The three are bound together in a time-tested banshee tradition with perhaps a side-goal or two. In the course of their adventures, they are pitched into an otherworld of before-death, after-death and in-between-death.The Fergus will appeal to fans of ghost stories, parallel universes and life-not-being-how-it-always-seems as in the worlds created by Laini Taylor, Stephenie Meyer or Helene Wecker.

Tori Grant Welhouse is a poet and writer from Green Bay. Her most recent poetry chapbook Vaginas Need Air won Etching Press’s 2020 chapbook contest. Her YA paranormal fantasy The Fergus won Skyrocket Press's 2019 novel-writing contest and will be released Summer 2020. She is an active volunteer with Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets.

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

$25 Amazon


Thursday, September 17, 2020

Book Tour ~ The Jason Davey Mysteries by Winona Kent


Lost Time
Jason Davey Mysteries Book 2
by Winona Kent
Genre: Mystery, Amateur Detective

In 1974, top UK band Figgis Green was riding high in the charts with their blend of traditional Celtic ballads mixed with catchy, folky pop. One of their biggest fans was sixteen-year old Pippa Gladstone, who mysteriously vanished while she was on holiday with her parents in Spain in March that same year.

Now it's 2018, and founding member Mandy Green has reunited the Figs for their last-ever Lost Time Tour. Her partner, Tony Figgis, passed away in 1995, so his place has been taken by their son, professional jazz guitarist (and amateur sleuth) Jason Davey.

As the band meets in a small village on the south coast of England for pre-tour rehearsals, Jason's approached by Duncan Stopher, a diehard Figs fan, who brings him a photo of the band performing at the Wiltshire Folk Festival. Standing in the foreground is Pippa Gladstone. The only problem is the Wiltshire Folk Festival was held in August 1974, five months after Pippa disappeared. Duncan offers Jason a substantial sum of money to try and find out what really happened to the young woman, whose mother had her declared officially dead in 1981.

When Duncan is murdered, it becomes increasingly clear to Jason that his investigation into Pippa's disappearance is not welcome, especially after he follows a series of clues which lead him straight back to the girl's immediate family.

But nothing can prepare Jason for the truth about Pippa, which he discovers just as Figgis Green is about to take to the stage on opening night—with or without him.

Notes On a Missing G-String
Jason Davey Mysteries Book 1 

"A highly entertaining caper set in a sleazy London underworld...Jason is a well-crafted reluctant hero, and Kent’s writing is slick and engaging throughout." - Kirkus Reviews

The first time we met Jason Davey, he was entertaining passengers aboard the Alaska cruise ship Star Sapphire, Eight ‘til Late in the TopDeck Lounge.

Then he came ashore, got a gig playing lead guitar at London’s Blue Devil jazz club, and gained a certain amount of notoriety tracking down missing musician Ben Quigley in the Canadian north.

Now Jason’s back again, this time investigating the theft of £10,000 from a dancer’s locker at a Soho gentlemen’s club.

Jason initially considers the case unsolvable. But the victim, Holly Medford, owes a lot of money to London crime boss Arthur Braskey and, fearing for her life, has gone into hiding at a posh London hotel.

Jason’s investigation takes him from Cha-Cha’s and Satin & Silk (two Soho lapdancing clubs) to Moonlight Desires (an agency featuring high class escorts) and finally to a charity firewalking event, where he comes face to face with Braskey and discovers not everything Holly’s been telling him is the complete truth.

As he becomes increasingly drawn into the seamy underside of Soho, Jason tries to save Gracie, his band-mate’s 14-year-old runaway daughter, from Holly’s brother Radu, a ruthless pimp, while at the same time protecting Holly herself from a vengeful Braskey—nearly losing his life, and Gracie’s—in the process.

Notes on a Missing G-String is the first novel in a new mystery series featuring jazz musican-turned-sleuth Jason Davey.

Disturbing the Peace
Jason Davey Mysteries Prequel  

Jason Davey's last job was aboard the Star Sapphire cruising from Vancouver to Alaska. Hired as one of the ship's entertainers, he played guitar in the TopDeck Lounge. You can read about those adventures in the novel Cold Play here.

Now Jason's back on shore, and he has a regular gig at a jazz club in London.

Jason's son, Dominic, is studying film at university. When Dom asks his dad to help track down a missing musician for a documentary he's making, Jason leaps at the chance.

Ben Quigley played rhythm guitar in Jason's parents' folk group Figgis Green in the late 1960s. And he dropped off the face of the earth four years ago.

Jason's search ultimately takes him to Peace River, Alberta - 300 miles from Edmonton in the Canadian north. And what he discovers there is both intriguing - and disturbing.

Disturbing the Peace is a novella which introduces readers to professional musician and amateur sleuth Jason Davey. Jason will soon feature in a new series of full-length mystery novels, beginning with Notes on a Missing G-String.


 I have never, in my entire life, been so fundamentally freezing fucking cold. 

I should have known what to expect when I looked out of the window of the plane and saw everything below completely covered in snow. I should have listened—really listened—when the Captain came over the PA to inform us we’d shortly be landing in Calgary, the local time was 2.55pm and the temperature on the ground was a balmy -26°C with a low that night expected to be in the vicinity of -30°C. 

But it didn’t really sink in. 

It’s one of those things you seriously cannot understand until you’ve actually experienced it. 

I had a three hour layover in Calgary before my flight to Grande Prairie. I got myself through the CBSA Primary Inspection and Customs, and lugged my suitcase off the carousel, and my next order of business was to find the airport’s smoking area. 

It was outside. 

I was wearing a short padded winter jacket and lined hiking boots that looked and felt more like trainers. I had a pair of leather gloves stuffed into my pockets. I zipped up the jacket and put the gloves on and stepped through the airport doors. 

I once had an uncle who worked for British Airways. He loved Canada. He flew there as often as he could for his holidays. He particularly loved the Canadian prairies in the winter. From Uncle Fred I learned that the winter weather in Canada was “exhilarantly bracing.” 

Those are not the words I would have used to describe the moment Calgary’s -26°C winter chill met my woefully unprepared face, hands, feet and body. It was penetrating, aggressive and relentlessly unmerciful. I couldn’t see myself lasting two minutes outside, let alone the time it would take to smoke one cigarette. 

I turned around and went back into the terminal and vowed, first, that my Uncle Fred was insane, and second, that I would give up my evil habit there and then. 

Over the next couple of hours I chewed my way through three packages of gum and managed to distract myself with a Bento box and massive amounts of hot green tea at a Japanese restaurant on the Mezzanine level of Canadian Departures. 

And then, after committing a further indignity to my unwinterized body by forcing it to walk across the tarmac to board a tiny, prop-driven Dash-8, I was on my way, at last, to Grande Prairie. 

Ben had done this journey in the summer. 

In the summer, Grande Prairie—and Peace River—would have stayed light until quite late in the evening. 

In the winter, this far north, the sun gave up early. and it was dark by the time we landed at the little airport and I braced myself, one more time, for the ball-shrinking icewalk from the plane to the terminal. 

I don’t think the guy at the car rental booth saw a lot of Brits come through at that time of the year. He seemed quite amused by my accent—then again, it might have been my completely inadequate jacket and useless leather gloves. I’d arranged for a decent midsize car and, as I was signing the forms and agreeing to every kind of insurance on offer, I had a clever thought, and asked about the possibility of snow tires. 

“Our cars come with all weather tires,” the guy said “They’re good as long as you don’t brake suddenly in the snow or hit glare ice. Where you going?” 

I told him, and he obligingly gave me a road report that included words like “mostly clear” and “some slippery sections” and “caution in low lying areas and on hills”. 

“So you’re ok driving in Canadian winter conditions?” he checked. 

“Absolutely,” I lied. 

He gave me the keys, and my contract, and reminded me that their cars all had a No Smoking policy and that if they found any trace at all of cigarettes, including the merest whiff of burnt tobacco, I’d be landed with a hefty cleaning bill. He told me where to find the car, and then added: “Don’t forget to unplug it.” 

I had not rented an electric car. And I wasn’t absolutely certain what he meant, until I’d trudged out through the snow, dragging my suitcase behind me like a defective sled, and located my vehicle, and discovered that it was, indeed, plugged into an outlet in the fence that ran along the front of the stalls. 

And then I recalled my insane Uncle Fred, and his wondrous tales of engine bloc heaters that kept oil and batteries from freezing in parked cars when the temperatures fell below zero. 

My car came with a handy heavy-duty bright orange extension cord, which I disconnected and stowed in the back with my luggage. I sat with the engine running and the interior heat blowing full blast for about ten minutes, trying to warm myself up. And then, I set the GPS on my phone to navigate me out of the little city and out onto Highway 2. 

It was about eight o’clock by the time the lights of Grande Prairie disappeared behind me. And my body and brain were reminding me that it was 3am in London. Three o’clock in the morning’s normal for me. But I don’t usually get up until noon. And I’d had an extremely early start and a very long journey and travelling knocks the wind out of you. I cursed myself for not letting Katey make my travel arrangements—she’d have sensibly suggested spending the night in Grande Prairie and setting out for Peace River the next day. 

It was a very long and a very dark drive on the wrong side of the road. The car had Bluetooth so on my way out of Grande Prairie I synch’d the music on my phone and had Ben Quigley’s Strat—and Figgis Green—to keep me company for the first part of the drive, and then Herbie Hancock and Charlie Mingus for the next bit. Other than the occasional truck coming at me in the opposite direction, and a few cars that were spaced out at intervals ahead of me, their rear lights shining red in the blackness, I was on my own. Occasionally the road, for no apparent reason, angled off to the north, and then back to the east, and even less occasionally, I had to slow down to pass through a settlement of people…Sexsmith…Rycroft… there was an interesting two-lane suspension bridge at a place called Dunvegan—I saw it lit up by the high beams of my headlamps—and then a long slow climb out of the valley towards a town called Fairview, which marked the halfway point of the trip. 

I was in the process of congratulating myself that I hadn’t encountered any ice or snow along the way when, all of a sudden, and with no warning whatsoever, the car began to slide. I was going about 100kph, the speed limit. I had microseconds to react and it took everything I had not to panic, not to hit the brakes, to remember Uncle Fred’s wisely-learned instructions for ice-driving: turn your wheels into the skid. 

I did, and the car gracefully completed a 360° turn in the middle of the highway and, after avoiding a spin-off into a snow-filled ditch, came to a complete stop on the other side of the road, facing the oncoming traffic. 

I sat for a few seconds, listening to my heart pounding and trying to get my breathing back to normal. Then I realized there were bright white lights roaring towards me and I slid the car back to the other lane three seconds ahead of a huge big-rig truck that likely would have flattened me if I’d waited any longer. 

I was in no shape to drive on. I needed a smoke. And a pee. Very badly. I didn’t dare stop the engine. I rolled the driver’s side window down about four inches and literally caught my breath as the freezing night air hit my face. I lit up and blew the smoke out through the gap, then opened the door a crack and

tossed the finished cigarette into the snow and extinguished it as I relieved myself. 

As I closed the window I caught sight of something I’d only ever seen in pictures and heard about from others: a magnificent burst of Northern Lights—a glimmering dance of luminescent green that made me think of the peaks and dips on a graphic audio display, with much-softened edges. 

They stayed with me for the next 100 km, all the way into Peace River, and then, inexplicably, faded away into the starlit night as I drove into the parking lot of the 12 Foot Davis Hotel. 

The night clerk was friendly and efficient. 

“You remembered to plug your car in, right?” she checked, as she handed me my keycard. 

I had not. I went back outside and retrieved the thick orange extension cord and connected it to the plug hanging out of the car’s front grillwork, and then shoved the other end into the outlet. 

“Gonna be a cold one tonight,” the clerk said, helpfully, after I’d run back inside, cursing my flimsy English jacket. 

“Minus thirty in Calgary,” I offered. 

“Minus twenty-three in the valley.” 

“Almost a heatwave,” I agreed. 

My room was exactly as it had been pictured—with the famous Jacuzzi occupying the corner, along with some fluffy white towels and a laminated instruction card. I imagined some randy trucker, fresh from a long haul even further north than this, stepping in for a soak with a preferred lady visitor, then repairing to the king sized bed with two tins of beer and a porn film on the TV. 

I undressed, skipped the soak and the porn, and collapsed into bed without bothering to unpack. 

And when I eventually woke up, it was past eleven in the morning. I’d missed the complementary hot breakfast, and I wanted to know where Ben Quigley had gone after vacating this room.

Winona Kent is an award-winning author who was born in London, England and grew up in Regina, Saskatchewan, where she completed her BA in English at the University of Regina. After moving to Vancouver, she graduated from UBC with an MFA in Creative Writing. More recently, she received her diploma in Writing for Screen and TV from Vancouver Film School.

After a career that's included freelancing for magazines and newspapers, long and short fiction, screenplays and tv scripts, Winona has now returned to her first love, novels. She lives in Vancouver, Canada.
Writing is Winona's passion.

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