by Constance Phillips
Publication Date: February 2013
Cover art by Lillyana Sanches
Can the greatest escape artist ever known break the grim reaper's chains to save the only woman he's ever loved?
In order to save Bess from self-destruction, Harry Houdini puts his afterlife on the line by entering a wager with purgatory's keeper. He gives Harry a younger face and body, and a new name: Erich Welch.
Bess clings to his promise to deliver a coded message from beyond the grave, determined to provide the bridge for him to cross, even if that means befriending her husband's sworn enemy.
Erich needs to help Bess over her loss and put her on the road to healing, but will any good come from resurrecting Harry?
Will Erich be able to help Bess recover from her loss and will any good come from resurrecting Harry?
5 Star Amazon Review
Amazon Vine Louann Carroll
Harry Houdini is dead. Once he reaches the other side he meets up with a heavenly messenger who offers him an opportunity to go back to Earth to save Bess, his grieving widow. On the one year anniversary of his death, Bess plans a seance and it is up to Harry to stop it or he will spend eternity in unending darkness.
As Erich Welsh, Harry becomes a bus boy in a cafe he and Bess used to enjoy. After putting himself in danger to save the life of a youngster, he earns Bess' favor. Soon he becomes her trusted confident even though he is half her age. Love blossoms between them though Bess fights against it. Betrayal and murder follow after a medium Harry tried to discredit seems to entrap his wife.
This charming tale of will make you laugh and cry. Told with such emotive candor we watch as Harry disguised as Erich learns about love, trust, and forgiveness. The story is a fast read and is well written. I can't wait to read more from Ms. Phillips.
Excerpt Copyright © Constance Phillips
All rights reserved — a Crescent Moon Press publication
For Harry Houdini, failure wasn't an option.
Being closed into the old steamer trunk didn't faze him, not even when the familiar sound of a padlock clanking in place echoed in his ear. When water began to seep through the seams, most men would panic, but years of experience pushed down the instinct. He knew his faithful assistant and wife, Bess, had slipped into the spotlight to distract the crowd and raise the tension, just like they'd practiced for hours and performed dozens of times.
While the fans anticipated the worst, he took a slow and measured breath and prepared for several minutes without oxygen.
Harry focused on his center from behind veiled lids and used every last bit of strength to extend his legs. The side of the trunk he'd carefully loosened the night before popped off, and the water now rushed in. With cuffed hands, he felt along the lid, guiding himself out. His hooked pinky swiped the key from beneath his tongue, but the metallic taste remained.
Lifting his legs, he made short work of the shackles binding his ankles and then arched his back, reaching toward the surface. In seconds, the cuffs securing his wrists fell away too.
All that was left was to break the surface and claim his reward. The roar of the crowd and Bess's loving arms were the only two things that thrilled him more than defying death. Her and his fans gave him the drive to succeed.
Light faded away, as if rain clouds covered the sun or as if he was sinking further away from his destination.
His world spun like a child's top. A pulse thumped in his ear and molten-hot blood pumped through his veins. Pure adrenaline fueled the glimpses of his past, which flashed by like the slides his brother, Theo, showed after every vacation. But Harry wasn't watching the events unfold; he relived the memories over and again.
The spinning stopped. He now hung upside down, wrapped tighter than a Christmas present. His Chinese Water Torture Chamber, a straight jacket and the stage of the Orpheum Theatre; Harry might as well be safe at home in bed. He'd free himself from the binds as soon as he pushed his shoulder out of joint.
With a pop, this faded to white too.
Always trapped. Never escaping. No reward.
The spinning continued, like a phonograph record.
Shivers raked his body. In the distance, he could hear a doctor offering comfort and explaining to a sobbing Bess that hope was lost.
Harry saw nothing, just shuddered and listened. Icy water enveloped him; his neck rested on the frosty cast-iron tub. No matter how many times he relived it, he still believed his infection would clear and the fever would break. He may have stood in the shadow cast by the angel of death, but he still denied the inevitable. A burst appendix destroy the great Harry Houdini, master escape artist and expert showman? Never. When the lights fell on his final performance, something grander than illness would extinguish his flame.
Swallowing hard, he fought the quiver in his lips and tried to call out for Bess. Her touch to his cheek would provide the needed strength. The only vision that ever played out completely: he whispered her name and watched his own chest rise and fall for the last time.
The cold vanished, his pain dissipated, but the mental torture never ended. Over and over he experienced his greatest challenges, but not the successes. Never completing an escape and returning to Bess's embrace kept him lonely and devastated. What had he done to deserve such torment, and for how long would this agony continue?
Harry always believed in ashes to ashes. When his heart stopped, his mind would too. Anything else seemed impossible, but now he knew different. This was Hell.
But what of the fire and brimstone ol' man Thomas used to preach about on the corner?
As a child, Harry's sainted mother would rush him past Seventh and Main where the elderly man testified to the world. She'd whisper passages from the Torah and remind him his main concern should be this life. Despite his mother's dislike for the reverend, he taught Harry a valuable lesson that would stick with him his whole life: give people a show.
Would it disappoint the preacher to know that, despite what the scriptures said, Hell didn't torture the body with never-ending fires, but focused on the mind? Harry knew this was worse.
His stomach heaved to and fro. Bile bubbled in his gut and pushed its way up, burning his throat, but the relief vomiting would bring never came.
Why won't the spinning stop? Maybe because he allowed it to continue. Change comes from within. That's how he lived his life: for every action, a reaction. Why should death be different?
No more complacency.
He tightened his muscles and stretched his body as taut as possible. "STOP!"
Spinning. Spinning. As if he was embedded on a reel-to-reel film and someone had pushed rewind, but he was through being held at someone else's mercy. Again, he ordered an end to the torture.
The loud clank of rusty gears grinding together sounded, and he felt whatever force kept him tied to this existence snap. His body plummeted and his arms thrashed; pleas turned to screams. Maybe there was something worse than the status quo. Falling faster now, he tensed his muscles and braced for the agonizing pain of hitting the ground.
Soft and comforting instead, like slipping into a feather bed and wrapping up in a patchwork quilt, he felt ground beneath him. And serenity. An end to his anguish? He opened his eyes and wondered if he'd see anything but his past. White padding adorned the walls and the floor, like he'd seen in those mental hospitals he toured while concocting his straightjacket escape.
But Harry wasn't crazy. He was dead.
The air shifted; the temperature rose. Sweat replaced the goose bumps that covered his arms. A body? Harry touched the flesh to make sure it was real. The image of a floating soul now shattered by this reality. Hot, humid air burned his lungs as he leaned against the wall and looked up into the ice-blue eyes of a stranger, who loomed a good foot taller than Harry and was wrapped in tight, black leather like the blacksmiths he'd known in his youth or the cowboys he'd first met out west. Long, black hair veiled the stranger's face. He lit a cigarette and threw his head back, inhaling deeply and giving Harry another look at those bizarre eyes. A shiver rode his spine. "My God."
A bubbling laugh erupted from the giant. "Not bloody likely."
Once again, Taria Reed has created a beautiful cover. I love the color and the emotions the cover provokes.
It is my opinion that Jody Kessler's new release, Death Lies Between Us, is sure to win every award for which it will be nominated. From best cover to fav read, Death Lies Between Us is, for the paranormal reader, worth every moment of your time.
Now for the fun stuff release days bring!
For your chance to win a 50.00 Amazon Gift card and a Mini-Kobo e-reader, click on the links below:
$50 Amazon Gift card giveaway March 1 -7
Mini Kobo ereader Giveaway March 12-19
And now, to introduce:
Death Lies Between Us
by Jody A. Kessler
Publication Date: February 2013
Cover art by Taria Reed
Saving the life of someone you love should not be the worst thing you have ever done, unless you are an Angel of Death.
Disgruntled with his position in the afterlife and conflicted by his feelings toward his new client, Nathaniel Evans forgoes the rules and saves nineteen year old Juliana Crowson from being hopelessly stuck in Forge Creek. This alters Juliana’s destiny and she finds herself in a series of near death accidents.
In the mountains of Colorado, Nathaniel comforts Juliana as she struggles to understand her paranormal abilities while coping with her brother’s drug addiction. When an ill-tempered Native American Shaman teaches her the difference between ghosts and place memories, she decides she wants nothing to do with the supernatural world. Too bad she doesn’t know that Nathaniel is part of it.
Will fate bring these two together, or has Nathaniel made the biggest mistake of his afterlife?
Amazon 5 Star Review
By Louann Carroll (Grass Valley, CA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE) This review is from: Death Lies Between Us (Kindle Edition)
Death Lies Between Us by Jody Kessler is a New Adult novel for ages 18-25 years. Featuring Nathanial, the angel of death, and Jules, a young female human who is destined to die, the two face trouble and turmoil when Nathanial falls in love with the woman he is destined to take to the other side.
Jared, Jules younger brother, falls in with the wrong crowd. A talented musician, he and his group end up ensnared in the teeth of vampires, one of which hankers after Jules. From one misadventure to the next Jules and Nathanial work their way through 'life', trusting in love to guide the way.
An easy read, Ms. Kessler describes a young adult world were drugs, alcohol, and teenage-moving-into-adulthood angst fill the pages. Brisk, insightful, and very romantic, Death Lies Between Us, is well worth reading on a cold, rainy, winter's day.
I for one, will be waiting for Ms. Kessler's next novel.
Kudos to the author.
Excerpt from Death Lies Between Us
In front of me is my new client.
She scratches her pen with fury across the paper. Her face is intent and her eyes are hidden under black lashes, but there’s something about the way she holds her head, the way her lips are pressed together as if sadness has sealed them. It tugs at a memory, the memory of being left in the car while my parents drank at their favorite bar, sealing my lips, setting my jaw in stubbornness while casting my eyes down to hide my feelings from my mother as she says, “stay in the car Nathaniel, your father and I will be right back,” then waking up hours later stuck to the vinyl seat and wondering if we’re going home now. I shake it off; that fish needs to stay buried beneath the sea.
Who is she? Why her? How long do we have? I ask myself these questions again and again, but this time I have a sense that I don’t want to know the answers, and I have no choice but to find them out.
Her focus on the notebook in her lap is complete. I can all but see the iron walls that surround her, but it doesn’t intimidate me. Intrigue has already washed through me for this girl, but for right now, I don’t cross her line.
Give her some time. She has so little of it left.
I wish she would look up and give me a small taste of what’s behind her curtain of black hair and under those lashes. If I could get a glimpse of her eyes, then I’d know if the intensity I feel is radiating from somewhere within her as I suspect it is. Their eyes always give me a hint of what to expect, after it happens. Will she struggle with her fate, or will she walk away with ease?
“Jules? Hey, Jules. What do you think of this?”
“Hmmm?” she asks, not looking up.
Surprised, I turn to see who’s speaking. He sits on the edge of a worn green velvet chair with a guitar in his hands. One long leg stretches out across the floor in front on him. He’s young, maybe eighteen or nineteen. I hadn’t noticed him. The ivory skinned girl in front of me, Jules, had been holding my attention to the exception of everything else.
“Listen,” he says. He strums out a melody and then follows it with an intricate solo on a midnight blue Gibson. “What do ya’ think?”
“Yeah, great, Jared. Just write that?” she mumbles. Her pen taps the paper. Her eyes flash his way but are gone again before I can see them with any real clarity.
He shakes his head at her and rolls his eyes. “Whatever, Jules. Sorry to interrupt your musings.”
“Shut up,” she says without any threat.
“You writing for the band?”
“Too bad. We could use some new lyrics.”
She hunches back over her notebook. I look the guitar player over and then at her again, finding similarities. They have the same shiny black hair, high cheek bones, wide mouths, and straight noses. Jared is darker skinned and taller, and she is more delicate overall, but they are the male and female version of each other. Siblings, I would bet money on it.
Besides the obvious, the guitar, Jared is the picture of a rock star. His hair is tied back in a short tail; he’s wearing dark grungy jeans with the right shoes and there is the name of some obscure band on his concert t-shirt. The piercings in his ears and eyebrow are noticeable, but not obnoxious. He is the type of guy who will never have difficulty getting a date. He continues to thrum and pick at the strings. I would rate his intensity coming in just under hers.
The scratch of Jules’ pen continues.
I watch a while longer, trying to adjust to my new surroundings. This homey room is a far stretch from the stress-filled hospital scene I’ve just left behind. Jules sits on a double bed next to an old trunk. Potted plants cover the surface of a white dresser next to the velvet chair where Jared practices. The mirrored closet doors reflect the view of tall pines touching a perfect blue sky outside the only window in the room.
I don’t see myself in the mirror. I have no reflection. It’s something I may never get used to. My attention is brought back to the black trunk with its brass trim. A stereo with stacks of CDs cover most of its surface, but there are also a few books, a lamp, and a candle. The room is simple and uncluttered, reminding me of my own room, before… when I lived.
The bed creaks as Jules’ unfolds her jean clad legs. She straightens her rounded spine and sets her shoulders back. I step forward out of curiosity and lean down to read the paper. Spidery black scrawl covers everything but near the center of the page is a grouping of short lines, it resembles poetry. I can just make out the words, ‘he left us behind, when will it be my time,’ when Jules clears her throat. I lift my eyes to her face. She looks right at me. I take a half step back. Somber green eyes flecked with gold and rust stare into mine. Her irises bring to mind a red fox running through tall green grass, camouflaged, sleek, wild, and graceful. Her arched brows rise in unspoken question. I hear the sound of the notebook closing on her lap. Her eyes shift to the door and she frowns, making her look even more solemn.
Why the sadness? I wish I’d gotten a better look in her book.
I hear it as clear as if someone had spoken inside my head. Not my own voice, but female, her voice. Unsure, I take another step back, keeping my eyes on her, and not leaving. She stares out the door into a hallway, cool distance on her face. Anxious agitation crawls through me as I wonder what the implications are of being seen ahead of time. I’ve been seen before, not by one of my cases, and not often, but it has happened. I’ve found some people are more sensitive than others to my presence. Most of the people who do ‘see’ me are frightened, letting fear of the unknown control their emotions, but if I’m not mistaken, she had just nonverbally, and calmly, told me to get out. That has never happened before. Instead of leaving, I move closer, unable to resist the urge to see what she’ll do.
She turns away from me as if repelled by an unseen odor then shoves the notebook and pen into a black backpack. Sliding to the edge of the bed, she stands and moves toward the door.
“Jared, I’m going downstairs to eat. Do you want anything?”
She looks and sounds calm, but it did not escape my notice how swiftly she moved away from me. Loneliness starts to slide off my back. Maybe this time will be different.
“Nope,” he says, with his head bent over the strings.
She brushes a long fingered hand over her scalp, pushing her waist length hair away from her face then tucks loose strands behind her ear.
She unsettles me with a direct green gaze, shakes her head once and walks out of the room, muttering, “You barely eat anymore, Jared. Are you feeling all right?”
Jared doesn’t answer, or acknowledge that he even heard.
I stand motionless. Her reaction was bewildering. Did she see me or not? Most of my assignments ignore me until they absolutely can’t get away with it any longer. The exception are the older ones, sometimes they’re ready for me, sometimes not.
I’d been frustrated beyond belief with my last case. The multi-car pileup was complete chaos. Broken cars and broken bodies, emergency personnel and bystanders cluttered the scene, but it was my client making me grit my teeth. I secretly called him Mr. Curmudgeon. He kept insisting he didn’t need a doctor and telling me to go away. He refused to believe he’d died and was inconsolable about his wife’s condition. She was injured and dying, and he wouldn’t leave her side. She was not in my charge and I thought she had a ways to go before crossing over. I made every attempt to persuade him to move on, or to take a step back, but his resistance only grew. I ended up letting Marcus, my mentor and friend, take over.
I don’t know what I would have done without Marcus there. He always knows what to do; in this case it was all about waiting. Mr. Curmudgeon wasn’t going anywhere without his wife, including to the afterlife. I was starting to believe I’d failed at my job; I’d actually lost a client. That’s the worst thing that can happen to one of us. Marcus thought Mrs. Curmudgeon — she wasn’t anything like the husband, her name was Mrs. Miller — would talk some sense into him. Marcus’s non-plan of waiting for the wife was a success. She died sooner than I expected and the husband passed into the next world without even one last snide or gritty remark flung my way. Everyone is unique, I remind myself, including this gorgeous girl.
Jody A. Kessler wrote her first poem as soon as she learned to spell. She likes to write paranormal novels with poetry on the side, and is a member of Pikes Peak Writers. Jody has spent the last twelve years studying yoga and ten of those years teaching it. She is a graduate from the Colorado Institute of Massage Therapy and had a thriving practice until she gave it up to become a mother. Jody is a Reiki Master and has studied herbal medicine for more than a decade. When she is not writing or teaching, she enjoys going to concerts, hiking, making soap, concocting herbal remedies, and reading anything that catches her interest. Some of her favorite authors include Lewis Carroll, Ann Rice, Diana Gabaldon, and Neil Gaiman. Jody is passionate about her writing, music, the environment, and all things supernatural.
She lives in the mountains of Colorado with her family. Death Lies Between Us is her debut novel.
Jody welcomes visitors to her website here: www.jodyakessler.com
Or connect with her here: Facebook Goodreads Twitter Pinterest
Hope you enjoyed learning more about Jody. Don't forget to read Death Lies Between Us. So perfect for a Spring read.