Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Exclusive Sneak Peek: Twist of Faith by Ellen J. Green + Giveaway (US only)

Twist of Faith
Ellen J. Green
from Thomas & Mercer // Amazon

When family secrets are unearthed, a woman’s past can become a dangerous place to hide...

After the death of her adoptive mother, Ava Saunders comes upon a peculiar photograph, sealed and hidden away in a crawl space. The photo shows a shuttered, ramshackle house on top of a steep hill. On the back, a puzzling inscription: Destiny calls us.

Ava is certain that it’s a clue to her elusive past. Twenty-three years ago, she’d been found wrapped in a yellow blanket in the narthex of the Holy Saviour Catholic Church—and rescued—or so she’d been told. Her mother claimed there was no more to the story, so the questions of her abandonment were left unanswered. For Ava, now is the time to find the roots of her mother’s lies. It begins with the house itself—once the scene of a brutal double murder.

When Ava enlists the help of the two people closest to her, a police detective and her best friend, she fears that investigating her past could be a fatal mistake. Someone is following them there. And what’s been buried in Ava’s nightmares isn’t just a crime. It’s a holy conspiracy.


A voice startled me. “Can I help you?”

A woman stood at the bottom of the steps, her swaddled gray hair peeking out above a scarf, her hands stuffed deep in her coat pockets.

“Oh. I was looking for the owner, but it doesn’t look like anyone is home. Do you live here, in this neighborhood?” I walked down the stone steps to meet her.

“I do, yes. And if you’re going to wait for the owners, you better bring provisions. No one’s living there now.” Her thin lips moved upward to a hesitant smile. “What did you need?”

“Has it been empty long?”

“Six months with no tenants. I live next to the eyesore, so I know. Oughta just knock it down, I say. Why? Are you interested in renting it?”

“No. I was doing research...”

“What? Is it the anniversary already?” She pulled her scarf down a bit and cocked her head to the side. “That can’t be for another couple of months yet.”

“Anniversary?”

“The murders. Isn’t that what you’re researching?”

“No, I—”

“House is owned by a development company now.” She shrugged. “I thought they’d tear it down, but they’ve been holding on to it. Five years I’ve been dealing with this.”

I’d been backing up little by little as she spoke, unaware that the sidewalk dipped behind me. I lost my balance and the Polaroid slipped from my fingers. I leaned down and grabbed it, but not before she got a glimpse.

“Is that the house?” She took the black-and-white image from me and studied it.

I thought about Claire, the woman who’d adopted me, who’d raised me for twenty-two years. She’d always claimed to have no information about how I’d been found wrapped in a yellow blanket in the narthex of the Holy Saviour Catholic Church. Barely six weeks old, she said. Though I’d begged for more details, clues, information, she’d insisted there weren’t any.

I suspected this wasn’t the truth, because I had memories—unformed fragments punctuated by vivid recollections that didn’t jibe with her version. It was the ongoing mystery of my life. A project never finished. I’d stumbled and fallen through my teenage years and young adulthood trying to sort it all out. Who had abandoned me, why, and when? When asking questions didn’t help, I resorted to anger, manipulation, and, lately, alcohol to try and forget. Digging through a crawl space after her death, I’d stumbled upon the photograph tucked away with other mementos from my childhood: school pictures, report cards, my high-school diploma, a yellow baby blanket. The photograph had been inside a blank white envelope, sealed shut.

Since the day I’d disturbed that seal and seen the image, I’d felt a growing sense of urgency—unfinished business, a chapter not complete. In the two weeks and three days since—while signing papers, helping Anais arrange for Claire’s body to be flown to France, comforting Aunt Marie—I’d returned to the photograph daily: What had it meant to Claire and why had she kept it? The little lies and secrets she’d clung to during life were about to be wrested from her now that she was dead.

I stared into the woman’s watery gray eyes. “Who was killed?” I asked.

She took so long to answer I wasn’t sure she’d heard me. “Husband and wife. Both of them in there.”

“Did you know them well?” Strands of hair came loose from my ponytail and I tucked them behind my ear. I was listening to her words, but my eyes wandered to the street behind her, waiting for something, though I wasn’t sure what.

“Well enough to say good morning, or take in their mail when they were away, I guess. Let me see that picture again?” She held out her hand.

I gave it to her just as a car slowed near where we stood. An older man leaned out the window. “Excuse me. Can you tell me how to get to Flourtown?” He was talking to her, but his eyes were glued to mine. I held his gaze while she pointed him in the right direction, then I watched him pull away.

She turned back from the car, shaking her head. “Now what were you saying?” She held the picture out, studying the words—almost entirely faded—that were printed after the date.

“This date is the same as the date of the murders.” Her finger ran along the back of the picture, and then she turned it over. “And it looks like it was taken from the lower part of the stone steps, about there.” She pointed a few feet away. “Crappy Polaroid shot, but it’s definitely that damned house.”

When she shoved it into my hand, it was clear she was afraid.

“What? What’s wrong?”

“The door was left open. After they were murdered. The door was left open, that’s how they found the bodies.” She pointed. The front door of the house in the photograph was opened so wide a hint of the darkened foyer inside was visible. “Was that taken after those people were killed?”

Before I could answer, she demanded, “Is this some sort of prank? Because it isn’t funny. It was horrible. They were beaten with a hammer. The mailman found them the next day . . . The man was lying on the floor in the living room. Where did you get that picture?”

“Like I said, doing research. Tell me about them, please, and what happened after they were killed.”

I thought she was going to walk away from me, because her expression turned rancid, but she didn’t. “The family name was Owens. Middle-aged man and woman. Destiny and Loyal Owens. He was a big guy. Might have caught a prowler in the house when they came home—”

“So they think it was robbery?”

She shrugged. “I didn’t hear if anything was taken. People around here were scared, though, I can tell you that. To kill people like that. Police never found out who did it.”

I glanced up at the house; I’d been here long enough. The eyes of the man in the dark car were dancing behind my eyelids, distracting me.

“All this is giving me the creeps. I should probably go now.” I turned away and then back to her. “Thanks.”

She gave a slight nod. “If you want the place, I’m sure you could get it for a song.”

I smiled. “Sorry, I don’t sing.”

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away
one print copy of Twist of Faith—yay!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
What has been the biggest "plot twist" of your life so far?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Ellen and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Life is full of surprises. I never thought I'd end up in Sacramento, but my job brought me here and I'm enjoying it thoroughly!

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher—a huge thank you to the lovely folks over at Lake Union Publishing!
Giveaway ends February 14th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US readers only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for the list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!