Trace of Doubt
by DiAnn Mills
September 1-30, 2021 Tour With Partners In Crime
Bestselling and award-winning author DiAnn Mills delivers a heart-stopping story of dark secrets, desperate enemies, and dangerous lies.
Fifteen years ago, Shelby Pearce confessed to murdering her brother-in-law and was sent to prison. Now she’s out on parole and looking for a fresh start in the small town of Valleysburg, Texas. But starting over won’t be easy for an ex-con.
FBI Special Agent Denton McClure was a rookie fresh out of Quantico when he was first assigned the Pearce case. He’s always believed Shelby embezzled five hundred thousand dollars from her brother-in-law’s account. So he’s going undercover to befriend Shelby, track down the missing money, and finally crack this case.
But as Denton gets closer to Shelby, he begins to have a trace of doubt about her guilt. Someone has Shelby in their crosshairs. It’s up to Denton to stop them before they silence Shelby—and the truth—forever.
Praise for Trace of Doubt:
“Well-researched… with some surprising twists along the way. In Trace of Doubt, Mills weaves together a tale of faith, intrigue, and suspense that her fans are sure to enjoy.” – STEVEN JAMES, award-winning author of SYNAPSE and EVERY WICKED MAN
“Trace of Doubt is a suspense reader’s best friend. From page one until the end, the action is intense and the storyline keeps you guessing.” – EVA MARIE EVERSON, bestselling author of FIVE BRIDES and DUST
“DiAnn Mills serves up a perfect blend of action, grit, and heart… Trace of Doubt takes romantic suspense to a whole new level.” – JAMES R. HANNIBAL, award-winning author of THE PARIS BETRAYAL
“Filled with high stakes, high emotion, and high intrigue.” – JLYNN H. BLACKBURN, award-winning author of UNKNOWN THREATand ONE FINAL BREATH
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Romance, Romantic Suspense Published by: Tyndale House Publishers Publication Date: September 7th 2021 Number of Pages: 432 ISBN: 1496451856 (ISBN13: 9781496451859) Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ChristianBook.com | Tyndale | Books-A-Million | Murder By The Book | Goodreads
Read an excerpt:
Would I ever learn? I’d spent too many years looking out for someone else, and here I was doing the same thing again. Holly had disappeared after I sent her to the rear pantry for potatoes. She’d been gone long enough to plant and dig them up. I needed to get those potatoes boiling to feed hungry stomachs.
I left the kitchen to find her. The hallway to the pantry needed better lighting or maybe fewer corners. In any event, uneasiness swirled around me like a dust storm.
A plea to stop met my ears. I raced to the rear pantry fearing what I’d find.
Four women circled Holly. One held her arms behind her back, and the other three took turns punching her small body. My stomach tightened. I’d been in her shoes, and I’d do anything to stop the women from beating her.
“Please, stop,” Holly said through a raspy breath. For one who was eighteen years old, she looked fifteen.
“Hey, what’s going on?” I forced my voice to rise above my fear of them.
“Stay out of it, freak.”
I’d run into this woman before, and she had a mean streak. “What’s she done to you?” I eyed the woman.
“None of your business unless you want the same.”
“It’s okay, Shelby. I can handle this.” Holly’s courageous words would only earn her another fist to her battered face.
And it did.
“Enough!” I drew my fists and stepped nose to nose with the leader.
The four turned on me. I’d lived through their beatings before, and I would again. I fell and the kicks to my ribs told me a few would be broken.
A whistle blew, and prison guards stopped the gang from delivering any more blows to Holly or me. They clamped cuffs on the four and left Holly and me on the floor with reassurance help was on its way.
I’d been her age once and forced to grow up fast. No one had counseled me but hard knocks, securing an education, and letting Jesus pave the way. I’d vowed to keep my eyes and ears open for others less fortunate.
Holly’s lip dripped blood and a huge lump formed on the side of her head. I crawled to her. “Are you okay?”
“Not sure. Thank you for standing up for me. I thought they would kill me. Why do they do this? I’ve never done a thing to them.”
“Because they can. They want to exert power, control. Stick by me, and I’ll do my best to keep you safe.”
I tightened my grip on the black trash bag slung over my shoulder containing my personal belongings—parole papers, a denim shoulder bag from high school, a ragged backpack, fifty dollars gate money, my driver’s license at age sixteen, and the clothes I’d worn to prison fifteen years ago.
The bus slowed to pick me up outside the prison gates, its windshield wipers keeping pace with the downpour. The rain splattered the flat ground in a steady cadence like a drum leading a prisoner to execution. I stepped back to avoid the splash of muddy water from the front tires dipping into a pothole. Air brakes breathed in and out, a massive beast taking respite from its life labors.
The door hissed open. At the top of the steps, a balding driver took my ticket, no doubt recognizing the prison’s release of a for- mer inmate. He must have been accustomed to weary souls who’d paid their debts to society. The coldness glaring from his graphite eyes told me he wagered I’d be locked up again within a year. Maybe less. I couldn’t blame him. The reoffend stats for female convicts like me soared high.
For too many years, I imagined the day I left prison would be bathed in sunlight. I’d be enveloped in welcoming arms and hear encouraging words from my family.
Reality hosted neither.
I moved to the rear of the bus, past a handful of people, and found a seat by myself. All around me were those engrossed in their devices. My life had been frozen in time, and now that I had permission to thaw, the world had changed. Was I ready for the fear digging its claws into my heart?
The cloudy view through the water-streaked window added to my doubts about the future. I’d memorized the prison rules, even prayed through them, and now I feared breaking one unknowingly.
The last time I’d breathed free air, riding the bus was a social gathering—in my case, a school bus. Kids chatted and laughter rose above the hum of tires. Now an eerie silence had descended.
I hadn’t been alone then.
My mind drifted back to high school days, when the future rested on maintaining a 4.0 average and planning the next party. Maintaining my grades took a fraction of time, while my mind schemed forbidden fun. I’d dreamed of attending college and exploring the world on my terms.
Rebellion held bold colors, like a kaleidoscope shrouded in black light. The more I shocked others, the more I plotted something darker. My choices often seemed a means of expressing my creativity. While in my youth I viewed life as a cynic. By the time I was able to see a reflection of my brokenness and vowed to change, no one trusted me.
All that happened . . .
Before I took the blame for murdering my brother-in-law. Before I traded my high school diploma and a career in interior design for a locked cell.
Before I spent years searching for answers.
Before I found new meaning and purpose.
How easy it would be to give in to a dismal, gray future when I longed for blue skies. I had to prove the odds against me were wrong.
Excerpt from Trace of Doubt by DiAnn Mills. Copyright 2021 by DiAnn Mills. Reproduced with permission from DiAnn Mills. All rights reserved.
Check Out This Fab Trailer for Trace of Doubt:
DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure?
Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests.
DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a former director of Blue Ridge Christian Writers, and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She shares her passion for helping other writers be successful by teaching writing workshops around the country.
DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.
DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed:
DiAnnMills.com |Goodreads | BookBub – @DiAnnMills | Instagram – @DiAnnMillsAuthor | Twitter – @DiAnnMills | Facebook – @DiAnnMills
Guest Post From DiAnn Mills – Embracing the Apple
Are you an apple fan? Does your mouth water at the sight of the red, green, and yellow display at the grocery? Do you stop and simply want to sink your teeth into sweetness? Does a Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Golden Delicious or Granny Smith send you to apple paradise?
You might like tossing apples with a salad, a casserole, a meat dish. Heavenly, right?
Apple cider dressing is my go-to for either a fruit or veggie salad.
And who doesn’t enjoy drinking cold apple juice . . . hot cider on a chilly night . . . wassail during the holidays . . . adding apple juice to pumpkin or squash soup . . . Have you grabbed your keys to race to the grocery?
Your taste buds may be like mine. I never met an apple pie or baked apple delight that didn’t tempt me to abandon all thoughts of calories and overdoses of sugar. The apple dessert wins every time.
Here is a link to a list of apples and how they are best used, but I don’t agree with every one. We all have our favorites, and our choice depends on personal taste and how we intend to use them. https://www.theyummylife.com/Apple_Fact_Sheet
Here are a couple of my favorite apple recipes. Hope you enjoy them too.
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 cups granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin (approximately 6 – 7 medium apples)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup quick oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup margarine, softened
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, mix all dry filling ingredients together, then add the apples and toss until well-coated.
Place filling in a 9″x13″ greased baking pan and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine all dry topping ingredients.
Add margarine to dry ingredients, using a pastry blender or fork to cut it in until well-blended.
Sprinkle topping mixture over filling and bake for 40 minutes.
*The apple mixture can be placed in a 9” unbaked pie shell and sprinkle the topping over for an amazing apple pie.
Autumn Squash Soup
1 20oz packed of precut butternut squash
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 15oz can pumpkin
1 cup vegetable broth
1 1/2 cup apple cider *or 4 granny smith apples baked
1/2 cup half and half *or use more vegetable broth
1 1/2 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon curry
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
. Heat over to 400. Toss chopped butternut squash with canola oil.
- Roast for 25 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes.
- Puree in blender.
- In blender or food processor, blend squashed pumpkin (apples if used(, pouring vegetable broth, apple cider and half and half (if used)
- Pour into saucepan and heat over medics to a gentle boil. Add honey and spices.
- Simmer on low for 10 minutes and serve with roasted pumpkin seeds.
Fresh Apple Cake
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cup oil
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sale
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped nuts
4 cups finally diced apples
Combine in order given Mix well and spread in an uncreased 9 X 13 pan.
1 package butterscotch chips
Top with butterscotch chips. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.
I’m signing off on this post because I’m about to whip up something tasty with apples.
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