Adams, Morgan Brice, Caren Crane, Nancy Northcott
Rickety Bookshelf Press
PNR, Paranormal Romantic Suspense
of Publication: 9/25/20
Come to western England’s Welsh
Marches and the wickedly, spookily fun Halloween Ball at Caynham Castle. Let
the Earl of Caynham and his fiancé welcome you into Halloween fun.
Lovers from Cape May, New Jersey,
take a Halloween holiday at the magnificent Caynham Castle in Secrets
and Ciphers. As their love and trust deepens, they also stumble across
and solve a 700 year old mystery! Enjoy this M/M Romance with Morgan Brice’s
Erik and Ben from Treasure Trail.
Follow an archeologist witch from
Idaho as she tangles with a sexy photographer from the witchiest town in
America, Jeanne Adams’s Haven Harbor, Massachusetts. In Trouble Under the Tower,
they discover a hidden chapel, fend off thieves, and help put a dark entity to
rest. Somewhere in all that trouble, love sneaks in!
In Mr. Never Again, spies
from Nancy Northcott’s Arachnid Agency come to Caynham Castle to guard a
weapons designer and her family. When her son goes missing, her loyalty may be
at risk. Hunting for him offers Blaine and Dana a second chance at love if
they’re brave enough to take it.
In Caren Crane’s tale, Murky
Waters, a landscape architect from Massachusetts finds much more than
he expects, both in a floral designer from his friend’s shop, and in the woods
south of Caynham Castle. Discovery of an evil waterborne spirit threatens the
new love he has found, unless his lover figures out how to set him free.
Four spooky, witchy,
spirit-filled stories set against the stunning background of Caynham Castle’s
epic Halloween Ball and Bonfire Night!
Secrets and Ciphers by Morgan Brice:
“So when you
said ‘castle,’ you really meant—holy shit! That’s a friggin’ castle!” Ben
Nolan’s eyes went wide as the hired car pulled into the parking area at Caynham
laughed. “What did you think I meant?”
Ben shook his
head, still staring at the large stone building partially hidden within the
inner bailey walls. “I thought you meant like Biltmore. Or San Simeon out in
California. You know—a big, fancy house built by a gazillionaire. But this is
an actual castle!”
“Parts of it
date back to the eleven hundreds,” Erik replied, nudging Ben to get him to open
his door so their driver could retrieve their luggage. “The fortifications were
meant to withstand warfare. It’s been continually inhabited by the Mortimer
family for nine hundred years.”
“Wait until I
tell my sister-in-law. She thinks it’s extra special that she lives in the same
house her grandparents built.”
Erik paid the
driver, and then he and Ben stepped to the side of the lot, awaiting the golf
cart that would take them closer to the entrance. Caynham Castle had been
converted to a hotel back in the 1930s, combining history, fine food,
exceptional comfort, and aristocratic flair for those who yearned for a
“For the U.S.,
that’s an accomplishment,” Erik said with a shrug. “Different places, different
friends with the guy who owns it? The duke?”
replied distractedly, checking his text messages to assure that they were in
the right place to catch their ride.
“Oh, earl. My
bad.” Ben rolled his eyes.
“And I’d say
we’re more friendly colleagues than drinking buddies,” Erik answered. “He was
the patron of the task force I served on around a fraud investigation in a
major museum. We hit it off. He’s very down-to-earth. You’ll like him.”
“Are you on his
Christmas card list?”
Erik gave him a
weird look. “What?”
“You heard me.”
“I get a holiday
card from my mailman too. It’s a polite fiction. Doesn’t make us besties.”
“So you do get a
card from the earl?” Ben pressed.
Erik sighed and
gave him a look of fond exasperation. “Yes. Are you happy now? It’s a very
fancy card with foil stamping and laser die-cuts, and the signature is printed
on the card. In case you were keeping track.”
“My dad always
got a Christmas card from Earl Denning, the guy who ran the lawnmower repair
shop near our house in Newark,” Ben said. “Not quite the same thing.”
Erik laid a hand
on Ben’s shoulder as if he could guess what was bothering him. “Relax. I never
thought you’d feel uncomfortable. I just wanted to spoil you a little.” He gave
Ben a coaxing look that usually melted any hesitation.
“I’ve been to
fancy places, just not quite this fancy,” Ben admitted, wondering if any of the
clothing he had brought with him would be suitable. Well, at least there’s the
tux Erik had me get for Jaxon’s big gala. But I don’t think I can wear that all
“Think of it as
a museum,” Erik cajoled. “And remember what I told you about the food and the
cake at the castle tea shop.”
forcing his insecurities to the back of his mind. Erik had planned this trip to
give them both some much-needed time off together, and Ben didn’t want to dim
forward to all of it,” he assured Erik. “The castle part just took me by
totally tricked you into coming to a castle by telling you we were coming to a
castle,” Erik said, but Ben could see his partner’s worried frown had eased.
sneaky like that,” Ben teased.
Morgan Brice is the romance pen
name of bestselling author Gail Z. Martin. Morgan writes urban fantasy
male/male paranormal romance, with plenty of action, adventure and supernatural
thrills to go with the happily ever after. Gail writes epic fantasy and urban
fantasy, and together with co-author hubby Larry N. Martin, steampunk and
comedic horror, all of which have less romance, more explosions. Characters
from her Gail books make frequent appearances in secondary roles in her Morgan
books, and vice versa.
On the rare occasions Morgan
isn’t writing, she’s either reading, cooking, or spoiling two very pampered
Series include Witchbane,
Badlands, Treasure Trail, Kings of the Mountain and Fox Hollow. Watch for more
in these series, plus new series coming soon!
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ExcerptTrouble Under the Tower by Jeanne Adams:
“Good afternoon, sir.” The desk clerk greeted him with a broad smile.
The warmly lit area boasted stone walls, rich wood and a softly burning fire.
It was also gaily decorated for Halloween with carved pumpkins and a dish of
candy on the desk. “Checking in?”
“Yes, thank you.” The dark-haired woman smiled as he gave his name. “Alden McDonald.”
“Oh! A double welcome then as you’re here as the guest of the earl and
Dr. Alden.” Obviously connecting the names, she frowned. “Are you related?”
He grinned. In Haven Harbor, most of the families were intertwined in
one generation or another. “A very long time ago, someone married someone. My
family resurrected the name.”
The Alden name kept hanging around in most Haven Harbor families.
“I didn’t think people celebrated Halloween this much in England. I
thought that was an American thing.” He gestured toward the ghost.
The receptionist grinned. “It’s catching on over here a bit more. You
may already know, we’re hosting a 1920s themed Halloween Ball for charity..”
Ah. That explained it.
“Welcome to Caynham Castle, Dr. McDonald. Do let us know if there’s
anything you need. Patrick will drive you up to your room in the castle proper.”
Nodding, he retraced his steps to the waiting golf cart. “Tell me about
the towers,” he said to Patrick as he gave the young man his room number.
Patrick grinned. “Which ones? The one
you’ll be staying in? The one the ghost of Lady Alice Neville’s daughter
haunts? The one with the bar?”
“All of them.”
He listened in delight as Patrick pointed out Caynham Tower. Secret
passages and hidden doors. What was not to love about that, especially this
“Now the tower you’re staying in, sir,,,” Patrick pointed at the bulk
of the main building after they came out from under the second curtain wall
archway into the inner ward. “That one’s the Challenge Tower. Some say they
hear the ring of swords on the landing as you go up the stairs.”
“Yes, indeed. See, the sixth earl caught his daughter’s suitor in her
room.” Patrick wiggled his eyebrows to give extra meaning to the statement. “The
earl challenged the guy to a duel. They battled up and down the hall. You can
still see the sword marks.”
“Did the earl kill the suitor?”
“Nah.” Patrick’s youthful enthusiasm was infectious. “The man kept
saying he wanted to marry the daughter––so the earl disarmed him and ordered
the young scallywag brought to the library.” Patrick used a growly voice to
mimic the sixth earl’s demand. “They wrote up the marriage documents then and there.
Laughing, Alden got out of the cart and headed into the main castle
building. Patrick would follow with his luggage, so he headed up a set of stone
steps with a thick glossy wooden railing.
He paused on the second landing and opened his magical senses. As if
summoned, the faintest clash of swords rang in his ears and he felt the rush of
cold that indicated ghosts were afoot.
Once settled in the room, Alden took time enough to wash up and change
into jeans. Slipping on his well-broken-in hiking boots, he headed out for a
Sebelle trotted up the stairs, heading for her room. It had taken every
ounce of control she had to stop work for the day on the archeological site
under Caynham Tower.
When they’d cleared the floor of the hidden rooms, they’d found a trap
door in the floor.
A. Trap. Door.
Who knew what they would find beneath it?
“A trap door!” she exulted
dancing over the expansive landing. She bounced up the stairs, only looking up
at the last minute when she sensed something.
“Whoa!” The absentminded guy in the tweed jacket took a step down into
her path. He was looking at the tapestry on the opposite wall.
“What? Oh, sorry,” he exclaimed, catching the railing to steady
himself. His hand brushed hers and she felt a warm glow.
Uh-oh. He had magic.
“No, I should have taken the other side. My mind was elsewhere…” She
stopped. He was perfectly still, his brow furrowed.
“You’re Dr. Sebelle Turturro. The head archeologist for the Caynham
“Yes.” She braced
herself. He could be a reporter. Most guests were unaware of the study.
Absolutely no one but her team knew about the trap door.
“Fascinating stuff. Hidden passages. Leaping ghosts. Secret rooms.” He
stopped, his gaze unfocused. “You’re…”
Oh, no. This could be a mansplaining moment––a losing proposition––or
questions about her visibly multiracial heritage––black, Polynesian and white––her
gender, or her curvy body, or some other obtrusively asinine thing. Knowing
about magic, and having enough for a spark, frequently turned men into assholes.
“I’m?” she finally asked,
because she had to break the tension.
“The Dr. Turturro who wrote the paper on the disappearance of the
smiled. “You read it? She wracked her brain for who he might be. Her study team
was already assembled.
“Dr. Alden McDonald. Your photographer.” He extended his hand and they
both gasped at the magical current that ran through the connection. “And a
fellow practitioner, I take it?”
Their hands still joined, she gave a cautious nod. Hard to argue you
weren’t into the woo-woo and witchy when you met someone who made your hand
spark like a live wire.
“I generally don’t admit it.”
“I get that.” Alden opened his mouth to say more, but instead he cocked
his head. “Do you hear it?”
She stilled her surprise at his easy acceptance, and listened.
Harsh, panting breaths. The ring of steel on steel. A thump. A gasp of
pain or surprise.
“What the hell?” She broke their connection and pivoted. The noise from
the landing. faded. Only a ripple of the tapestry gave a hint of something
Jeanne Adams writes award-winning
romantic suspense, paranormal and urban fantasies, as well as space opera
that’s been compared to the works of Robert Heinlein and Jack McDevitt. She’s
also a sought-after speaker, teaching classes on body disposal for writers,
worldbuilding and collaboration, plotting for pantzers and how to write a fight
scene that works!
Jeanne lives in Washington, DC
with her husband and two growing sons, as well as three dogs – two Labs and an
Irish Water Spaniel. Don’t tell, but she’s prone to adopting more dogs when her
husband isn’t looking.
Featured in Cosmopolitan
Magazine, and other publications, her books have been consistently hailed as
“One of the best Suspense Books of the Year!” by Romantic Times and “Stunningly
realistic space adventure” by Amazon reviewers.
You can find her books on all
major platforms, and connect with her on the web at:
Twitter at www.twitter.com/JeanneAdams
Mr. Never Again by Nancy Northcott:
babysitting assignment could go horribly wrong. Especially when you were
watching an engineer to be sure she didn’t illegally sell a government-backed
weapons system. In the wrong hands, well…World War III, anyone?
Even so, there
would be tiny moments to enjoy the perks of the situation. Like several days staying
in an actual castle, The Caynham Castle Hotel, on the boss’s dime.
swung her rented sedan around a curve, and the town of Caynham-on-Ledwyche came
into view. A few minutes later, she was driving through a charming mixture of
half-timbered, medieval buildings interspersed with Tudor brick, Georgian stone
and more modern styles. If she didn’t get to see more of it while on duty, she
would stay a day or so after and explore.
There was only
one fly in the ointment, and she absolutely would not think about him until she
had to. Which would be when she checked into the hotel in approximately ten
minutes and informed him she was here. Until then, no harm in admiring the
quaint little town. Or the castle now
looming above the trees ahead on her right.
Her cell phone
buzzed, the tone a signal that the call came from her employer, the
multinational, covert agency known as Arachnid, or from another employee. The
car’s dash display read, Harris, and Dana grimaced. She’d jinxed herself by
thinking about him.
button on the steering wheel, she took the call. “Gresham.”
She turned left
on Caynham Castle Road. The castle drive lay a little way ahead on her right.
ETA?” Blaine Harris’s deep voice still sent ripples through her, and wasn’t
that aggravating? Dana grimaced. She needed to get her hormones under better
It wasn’t like
him to be so abrupt, though. Frowning, she replied, “About ten minutes. I just
drove through town. Why?”
has gone missing.”
son of their subject. Personal considerations dropped away, and Dana mentally
summoned an area map. “How long ago?”
Apparently, he wanders off every once in a while. The family was in the group
touring the castle garden and beehives—lots of shifting positions to see
things, a bunch of kids along, and everybody feeling safe on the Earl of
Caynham’s private land. With his private bees.”
That dry tone
hinted that he found Caynham-on-Ledwyche’s bee products industry baffling. She
swung into the car park for a church and stopped.
returned to the hotel,” he continued, “they realized Vidhur and this other kid
had taken a powder. The family seems more exasperated than worried.”
The family being
Dr. Kara Mahajan, her widowed sister, Bhavna Chaudry, and Vidhur’s
fourteen-year-old sister, Aaliyah.
“She feels safe
here,” he added. “Even the kid wandering off doesn’t especially worry either
her because he likes to do that. She encourages it as fostering his
there are limits.” As the eldest of five, having been responsible for the
younger ones while her widowed dad worked two jobs to keep food on the table,
Dana wasn’t exactly lacking experience with kids.
“Maybe they just
wandered off, but how do we know?” she asked. “Could the group who want to buy
his mom’s weapons system be looking for a little insurance? We know they want
to buy, but nothing we’ve seen gives me a strong feeling she wants to sell.”
“Wouldn’t you at
least think about it in her shoes?”
husband had been tortured and murdered by Pakistani intelligence. If she
carried a grudge, nobody could blame her. Acting on it by selling India a
weapons system underwritten by the British government, however, would take that
“But if she
doesn’t want to sell,” Dana continued, “what better leverage than one of her
kids?” If that was the case, this assignment had just become a clusterfuck.
“Yeah. So we
need to find that kid asap. If we can’t, well…”
“I know. I’m at
the church. Where should I go from here?”
MI5 masquerading as local detectives are questioning the family while the rest
of their team fanned out to search,” Blaine said.
Service had point on this with Arachnid, meaning Dana and Blaine, as
backup. The British government thought
no one would suspect two Americans of working with them.
“I’m on the path
to Saxon Hundred, northwest of Caynham-on-Ledwyche,” he informed her.
Mahajan’s into gaming and there’s a game store there.”
“Got it in one.
Meanwhile, you swing through Caynham and see if you spot them. One more set of
eyes always helps.”
“On it. Keep me
one for phone etiquette, so the sudden absence of sound was her only cue that
they were done.
onto Caynham Castle Road, Dana frowned at the picturesque buildings. What in
this quaint town would draw a ten-year-old interested in robotics and gaming?
Was searching in
the town a waste of precious time?
If someone had
snatched the boys, any useful information lay back at the castle.
Nancy Northcott’s childhood
ambition was to grow up and become Wonder Woman. Around fourth grade, she realized it was too
late to acquire Amazon genes, but she still loved comic books, mysteries,
science fiction, fantasy, history, and romance. A sucker for fast action and
wrenching emotion, Nancy combines the romance and high stakes (and sometimes
the magic) she loves in the books she writes.
She’s the author of the Light
Mage Wars paranormal romances, the Lethal Webs and Arachnid Files romantic
suspense series, and the historical fantasy trilogy The Boar King’s Honor. With
author Jeanne Adams, she co-writes the Outcast Station space opera mystery
Murky Waters by Caren Crane:
eyed the limestone castle walls with a weary, appreciative gaze. As a landscape
architect, he appreciated how Caynham Castle rose in stately elegance from its
environs on the hill. As a traveler, he was grateful for the staff that opened
the door of his airport transport, pulled his luggage from the trunk and
escorted him to a waiting golf cart.
Castle Caynham, Mr. Wetherell,” the smiling porter said. Though the fact that
he knew to expect Jason at this time was a surprise. “Ben will see you to
Reception and they’ll get you checked right in.”
He gave the man
a baffled nod and folded himself into the golf cart. The young man wasted no
time getting him through the imposing stone archways and down the passage to
set of very modern-looking entry doors. He saw signs directing guests to
Reception on the driver’s side and a busy-looking gift shop on his own side.
“I’ll stay with
your bags until you get checked in, sir,” Ben said. “The Reception desk is
right through those doors.”
Jason figured he
probably should have done some research on Castle Caynham before he got here,
but he trip had come up so suddenly he hadn’t. He’d been waiting for an
opportunity like the one the Mortimers had in mind for the Caynham property for
a long time. His whole career, really. When his old college roommate, Tom
Greenbury, called to tell him what the Earl of Caynham had in mind, Jason felt
like it was the chance of a lifetime. Even if it meant he had to attend a
costume gala happening on Halloween, of all things.
the substantial desk and the smiling receptionist, whose name tag read Angela.
“Jason Wetherell, checking in,” he said with a smile. “Or did you know that
“Actually, I did
know that, Mr. Wetherell,” she said with a smile of her own. “Lord Mortimer
gave us your itinerary, so we were tracking your progress. I know there were
delays leaving Boston, but we’re glad you’re with us now.”
the personal attention, at least. Jason found it disconcerting to be the center
of attention, but he understood the Earl’s interest in his arrival. He was
anxious to meet the man. He’d never met anyone with a title before. Then again,
he’d never taken on a project with the scope of what the Earl wanted, either.
staying in the Challenge Tower, Mr. Wetherell, which is to the left of the
Great Hall,” Angela said, marking his room’s location on a handy map of the
Castle. “As you can see, you’re on the top floor of guest rooms, so you’ll have
a splendid view of the grounds.”
“Very good,” he
said, not knowing enough about the area to appreciate what the view should be.
“Who do I need to see about when I’ll be meeting with Lord Mortimer?”
Lord Mortimer’s assistant, has left information for you regarding your
meeting,” Angela said. “It won’t be until tomorrow, though, so you’ll have
today to rest and familiarize yourself with the Castle. And with
Caynham-on-Ledwyche, if you’re feeling like going into the town.”
“I think I’ll
try to get settled in first and get my bearings,” Jason said, taking the slim
folder of information she handed him and tucking it into the inner pocket of
his coat. He hadn’t been sure he would need the overcoat, but brought it from
an abundance of New England caution. He was glad he had. Not only was the sky
gray and threatening more rain, but there was a distinct chill in the air outside.
It reminded him of home.
He shook his
head and headed back out to the golf cart, not wanting to ruin his first day
here with memories and regrets about his home and family. Ben was waiting on
him, just as he had promised.
“So where are we
headed, Mr. Wetherell?”
Tower, apparently,” Jason said. “I’ll admit to being curious about that name.
I’m sure there is a story attached to it.”
is, sir,” Ben said, navigating carefully through the light foot and golf cart
traffic to a broad path leading toward a formidable-looking set of towers set
into a looming walled fortress.
Jason was a bit
floored by the sheer scale of the place, not to mention the
impressively-maintained stonework. It had to take a full-time crew just to keep
up the point work. Amazing.
“Back in the
late 17th century,” Ben said, driving slowly and carefully, “the 6th Earl
challenged his daughter's lover to a duel on a landing of the staircase in the
Tower. They battled long and hard, up and down the stairs. The young man kept
telling the Earl all through the duel that he loved the girl and wanted to
marry her, but the Earl wasn’t swayed. The Earl won the duel, but he didn't
kill the young man. He was so impressed with his sword work that he had the man
bandaged and brought to his library. The men had some brandy and the Earl agreed
to the marriage. Ever since then, that tower has been the Challenge Tower.”
“That’s quite a
story,” Jason said, amused. “Any grain of truth in it?”
Ben threw him a
surprised look. “Of course. You can see the cuts their duel left in the stone
Jason shook his
head, astonished that a place with that sort of history was still standing and
occupied. At times like this he realized how young America was, even the old
parts, like his hometown in Massachusetts.
He was glad to
be here and for this chance to do the work he’d dreamed of since he decided to
study landscape architecture. But finding project suited to his degree in
cultural landscape studies and design was apparently a challenge. He huffed a
laugh to himself at the irony of staying in the Challenge Tower.
Caren Crane began writing warm,
witty contemporary romance and women's fiction to save herself from the
drudgery of life in the office. An electrical engineer by training, she longed
to create worlds where things were any color except cube-wall gray. She still
works in a cubicle, but gets to hang out with witty, fabulous people whenever
she's writing, which greatly encourages butt-in-chair time.
Caren lives in North Carolina
with her wonderful husband. She has three fiercely intelligent, gorgeous grown
children, having neatly side-stepped her mother’s threat that she would have
children Just Like Her.
You can find info and excerpts at: