Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wednesday w/ WNY Author: Alison Stone and her book: Plain Pursuit

 Plain Pursuit 
Alison Stone
BLURB for Plain Pursuit:
Danger in Amish Country
When her brother is killed in a small Amish town, Anna Quinn discovers she's an unwelcome outsider. But the FBI agent investigating the case is right at home—because Eli Miller was born and raised in Apple Creek's Plain community. Eli left his Amish faith behind long ago, but his heart is rooted in a local cold case he can't forget—a mystery with strange connections to Anna's loss. Desperate to uncover the truth, Anna and Eli are faced with stony silences and secrets…secrets that someone wants to keep buried in the past.
 Copyright © 2013 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Amazon Buy link for Plain Pursuit:
BIO:  Alison Stone left Buffalo, New York and headed a thousand miles south to earn an industrial engineering degree at Georgia Tech in Hotlanta. Go Yellow Jackets! She loved the South, but true love brought her back North.
After the birth of her second child, Alison left Corporate America for full-time motherhood. She credits an advertisement for writing children's books for sparking her interest in writing. She never did complete a children's book, but she did have success writing articles for local publications before finding her true calling, writing romantic suspense.
Alison lives in Western New York with her husband of twenty years and their four children where the summers are absolutely gorgeous and the winters are perfect for curling up with a good book--or writing one.
Random Acts and Too Close to Home were released by Samhain Publishing in 2012. Plain Pursuit, a Harlequin Love inspired Suspense, is available now.
Besides writing, Alison keeps busy volunteering at her children's schools, driving her girls to dance, and watching her boys race motocross.
She’s always at the following locations:

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The pungent odor of manure and smoldering wreckage clogged Anna's throat. As she coughed, she tented her hand over her eyes to shield them from the lowering sun. Stalks and stalks of corn swayed under brisk winds, masking the point of impact where the singleengine plane plummeted into the earth. An unmistakable desire to scream overwhelmed her. She clamped her jaw to quell her emotions. She had to hold it together for now. Swallowing hard, she tried to rid her mouth of the horrible taste floating in the air. Across the country road from her parked vehicle, first responders fastened the straps to secure the crumpled plane to a flatbed truck.

Turning her back, she flattened her palms against the window of her car. She closed her eyes as the world seemed to slow to a crawl. Tears stung the backs of her eyes. Her brother was dead. She was alone.

Anna turned around and leaned back against her car. She ran a hand across her damp forehead. It was unusually hot for early October in western New York. The heat rolled off the asphalt, scorching her cheeks. The bold blue numbers 977 stood out on the tail of the plane, remarkably unscathed among the heap of metal. Her brother had sent her a photo of the plane a few weeks ago. He had been so proud of his purchase. She had thought he was crazy. Pressing a hand to her mouth, she realized she had never responded to his email. She had been so wrapped up in her job as a high school counselor at the start of a new school year. Now it was too late to tell him anything.

Her brother had always been there for her when it truly counted. Now only one thing remained for her to do. She closed her eyes. Dear Lord, please welcome my brother into Your arms. A tear tracked down her warm cheek.

"Anna Quinn." A male voice sounded from behind her. Swiping at her wet cheeks, she glanced over the hood of her car, surprised to see a tall gentleman striding toward her with a confidence normally reserved for those in law enforcement. Her legs felt weak and she took a deep breath to tamp down her initial trepidation. His dark suit fit his broad shoulders impeccably but seemed out of place among the uniformed first responders dotting the countryside. The intensity in his brown eyes unnerved her.

"Yes, I'm Anna." Dread whispered across the fine hairs on the back of her neck, but she kept her voice even. Her brother was dead. How much worse could it get? Foreboding gnawed at her insides. Past experience told her it could always get worse.

"I'm Special Agent Eli Miller." She accepted his outstretched hand. Warmth spread through her palm. Self-aware, she reclaimed her hand and crossed her arms tightly against her body. Thrusting her chin upward, she met his gaze. The compassion in his brown eyes almost crumbled her composure. She wondered fleetingly what it would be like to take comfort in his strong arms. To rely on someone besides herself.

Heat crept up her cheeks when she realized he was waiting for some kind of response. "You called me about the crash," she said.
The call was a blur, yet she had recognized the soothing timbre of his voice. She had barely gotten the name of the town before she hit End and sat dumbfounded in the guidance office where she worked sixty miles away in Buffalo. She had left without explaining her emergency to anyone in the office.

Anna's chest tightened. "How did you know to call me?"

The deep rumble of the flatbed truck's diesel engine fired to life, drawing the man's attention. The corners of his mouth tugged down. "Your brother asked me to call you."

Anna wasn't sure she had heard him correctly over the noise of the truck as it eased onto the narrow country road. She tracked the twisted metal of her brother's plane on top of the flatbed truck until it reached the crest of the hill. Then she turned to face him. Goose bumps swept over her as the significance of his words took shape.

"When…?" She hesitated, her pulse whooshing in her ears. Had she misunderstood? Was her brother in a hospital somewhere? A flicker of hope sparked deep within her. "When did Daniel ask you to call me? My brother's…dead?" Rubbing her temples, her scrutiny fell to his suit, his authoritative stance. The world seemed to sway with the cornstalks. "You told me he had been killed."

Concern flashing in his eyes, the man caught her arm. "Yes, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to mislead you. Your brother died in the crash." He guided her to the driver's side of her vehicle and opened the door. "Here. Sit down."

Anna sat sideways on the seat, her feet resting on the door frame. "When did you talk to my brother?" She stared at the agent's polished shoes, trying to puzzle it all out. Finally, she met his eyes. "Was he in trouble?"

"Your brother and I talked last week." Special Agent Eli Miller rested his elbow on the open door. "Daniel told me to call you if anything should happen to him." He seemed to be gauging her expression for a reaction.

Anna scrunched up her face. "If anything happened?" She pointed to the field. "Like if he was killed in a plane crash?"

"I don't think he could have predicted that, but yes, he asked me to call you." He reached into his suit coat pocket and pulled out a worn business card with a familiar logo on it. She straightened her back. Years ago, after she had landed her first job as a high school counselor, she had dropped the card into a care package for her brother stationed in Iraq.

"Daniel gave you that? I don't understand." She rubbed her forehead, wishing she could fill her lungs with fresh air—air without this horrible smell.

"He wasn't only worried about his own safety." He never lifted his pensive gaze from her face. "He was worried about yours."

"My safety?"

"Has anything out of the ordinary happened lately?"

Anna bit her bottom lip. Her mind's eye drifted to the strange note she had found on her car after school last week. She shrugged. "Someone left a note on my car. It was nothing." She struggled to recall the exact words on the note. "I think it said, 'You're next.'"

"Did you report it?"

Anna laughed, the mirthless sound grating her nerves. "No…I'm a high school counselor. A few faculty cars had been egged the week before. That's all it was." She scooted out of the car and brushed past him, turning her back to the crash site. "I took the job to help kids. If I ratted them out every time they looked at me sideways, they wouldn't trust me." Goodness knew where she'd be if her high school counselor hadn't reached out to her.

"Anything strange besides the note?" The concern in his voice melted her composure.

Tears blurred her vision and she quickly blinked them away. "Other than the occasional disgruntled student—who is harmless, I can assure you—I live a pretty boring life."

"Is there anyone you want me to call for you?"

"No," she whispered, staring over the cornfields. An uneasiness seeped into her bones. Her brother tended to be the paranoid one, not her. But she couldn't dismiss it. History told her things weren't always what they seemed. "Can I see your credentials?" Anna met his assessing gaze; flecks of yellow accented his brown eyes. She turned the leather ID holder over in her hands. Special Agent Eli R. Miller. It seemed legitimate.

"You met my brother in person?" She studied him, eager to read any clues from the smooth planes of his handsome face. She wanted to ask: Did Daniel seem okay? Was he thin? Dragging a hand over her hair to smooth the few strands that had fallen out of her ponytail, she was ashamed she didn't know the answers. Ashamed she had grown estranged from her big brother. Dear Lord, please forgive me. Let me find peace through this nightmare.

Special Agent Miller hiked a dark eyebrow. "Yes. We talked briefly a week ago. I had some questions concerning his return to Apple Creek."
Anna jerked her head back. "I don't understand. He was in Apple Creek working on his photography. Why would the FBI be concerned about my brother's whereabouts?" Foreboding mingled with the acrid fumes hanging in the air.

"Your brother went to Genwego State University, right?"

"Yes." She furrowed her brow. "He dropped out his senior year. What does that have to do with anything?"

"I'm working a cold case. I've been re-interviewing people who lived in the area ten years ago."

"Was my brother able to help you?"

"No. But when I met with him, he was worried about his safety and yours. I had a sense he was somewhat relieved I had contacted him."

"Do you think I'm in danger?"

They locked eyes. He seemed to hesitate a moment before saying no.

She reached into her car and pulled out her purse. She dug out a new business card. Holding it between two fingers, she offered it to him. "May I trade you?"

He accepted the new card and handed her the old one. She flipped it over. In her handwriting on the back she had written: I'm only a phone call away. The faded ink was water-stained, but the message was clear. Yet the phone calls between her and her brother had become few and far between.

As she slipped the old business card into a pocket of her purse, the clip clop clip of what sounded like a horse reached her ears. She froze as a horse and buggy made its way along the country road. A man in a brimmed straw hat gently flicked the reins, urging the horse on. Tipping his hat, he seemed to make direct eye contact with the FBI agent as he passed.
Sarah's Review:
Thank you Alison Stone for allowing me to help promote this story.   I found out about Alison's work through Cassandra Carr, who is also a WNY author that has been featured on my blog.  When I asked Alison what story she wanted to promote, she picked Plain Pursuit and I was excited.  I do love reading Amish stories, but finding a good one has been difficult for me.  This one proved to be a great one for me.  

From the opening chapter, this story had me sucked in.  My heart broke right from the beginning when we were at the plane crash site.  As we get further into the story, we find out that Anna and Eli have had tragic things happen in their lives and this plane crash is just another event in a long list of tragedies that these two have experienced.  

For fear of giving this story away, I will be brief on this review.  If you like an Amish storyline, this is a good story to read. It's not primarily about the Amish, but the majority of this story is set in Amish country.  If you like suspense stories, this one is definitely one that should be read.  I was blindsided by who the culprit was.  If you like romance, this story has it.  

I look forward to reading Alison's other books soon!

1 comment:

  1. Nice review, Sarah! I really enjoyed Alison's "Random Acts' and am looking forward to reading Plain Pursuit!