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Thursday, December 5, 2019

Blog Tour- STORM OF SECRETS By Loretta Marion With An Interview & Giveaway!

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the STORM OF SECRETS blog tour! Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway below!

About the Book:

Title: STORM OF SECRETS (Haunted Bluffs Mystery #2)
Author: Loretta Marion
Pub. Date: November 12, 2019
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 312

A deadly storm, a missing three-year-old child, a grisly murder, and the eerie presence of the spirits of the dead set the stage for the second mesmerizing installment of Loretta Marion's paranormal suspense series.

A powerful storm descends upon Cape Cod's Whale Rock at the peak of tourist season--and the weekend Cassandra Mitchell's and Daniel Benjamin's wedding is set to take place at The Bluffs, the magnificent Victorian mansion Cassie inherited from her family. In the wake of the storm's destruction, three-year-old Lucas Kleister goes missing--and the body of small-time drug dealer Lee Chambers is found in a restaurant dumpster. Now, the WRPD are faced with a murder to solve, a missing child to find, and the aftermath of one of the worst storms in recent memory.

While aiding with the clean-up and helping the displaced, Cassie has been receiving cryptic messages from the spirits of her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, the original residents of The Bluffs. At first, the messages are benign, but soon, they begin to point to something more sinister. As Cassie works to decipher their meaning, the specter of a mysterious local legend surfaces. The tale of Barnacle Boy--and what happened to him during another destructive storm decades earlier--will weave through the desperate search to find Lucas and the identity of the killer.

"Modern and historic mysteries collide in Marion's bittersweet storytelling."   

“[A] gripping sequel...Marion seamlessly weaves the multiple story threads together. Fans of tales of regional intrigue will be satisfied.” Publishers Weekly  

Title: HOUSE OF ASHES (Haunted Bluffs Mystery #1)
Author: Loretta Marion
Pub. Date: November 13, 2018
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 336

A family patriarch’s dying proclamation, an enigmatic disappearance, and a century-old curse converge in the shadows of a majestic home on Cape Cod’s craggy coast.

Thirty-seven-year-old painter Cassandra Mitchell is fourth-generation to live in the majestic Battersea Bluffs, a brooding Queen Anne home originally built by her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, and still standing despite tragedies that have swept the generations. Local lore has it that there was a curse placed on the family and the house is haunted, though opinions are divided on whether it's by malicious or benevolent spirits. Cassie believes the latter―but now she stands to lose her beloved home to mounting debt and the machinations of her dream-weaving ex-husband.

Salvation seems to arrive when a nomadic young couple wanders onto the property with the promise of companionship and much-needed help―until they vanish without a trace, leaving behind no clue to their identities. Cassie is devastated, but determined to discover what's happened to the young couple...even as digging into their disappearance starts to uncover family secrets of her own. Despite warnings from her childhood friend, now the local Chief of Police―as well as an FBI agent who pushes the boundaries of professionalism―Cassie can't help following the trail of clues (and eerie signals from the old house itself) to unravel the mystery. But can she do so before her family's dark curse destroys everything in its path?


Hey Loretta!! First I want to say welcome to Two Chicks on Books I’m glad you could stop by for a chat! STORM OF SECRETS sounds AWESOME and I can’t wait for everyone to read it!

Thank you so much for inviting me to discuss my newest book. What a fun interview!

For the readers: can you tell us a little bit about the STORM OF SECRETS and the characters?

I think Kirkus Reviews summed it up best: Historic and modern mysteries collide. The book interweaves two stories, one historic and one taking place in present time. The present-day mystery is told through the perspective of Cassandra Mitchell, the main protagonist of the Haunted Bluffs Mystery Series. The historic mystery is told through the memories of Renée, whose story will at some point connect to Cassie’s.

When a powerful storm descends upon Cape Cod's Whale Rock, Cassie’s wedding to 
Daniel Benjamin must be postponed. In the wake of the storm's destruction, three-
year-old Lucas Kleister goes missing and the body of small-time drug dealer Lee 
Chambers is found in an alley dumpsterleaving the Whale Rock PD with a murder 
to solve, a missing child to find, and the aftermath of one of the worst storms in 
recent memory.

While aiding with the clean-up and helping the displaced, Cassie has been receiving 
cryptic messages from the spirits of her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste 
Mitchell, the original residents of The Bluffs the magnificent Victorian Cassie 
inherited from her family. At first, the messages are benign, but soon, they begin to 
point to something more sinister. As Cassie works to decipher their meaning, the 
specter of a mysterious local legend surfaces. The tale of Barnacle Boy--and what 
happened to him during another destructive storm decades earlier--will weave 
through the desperate search to find Lucas and the identity of a killer.
Cassandra (Cassie) Mitchell is the principle character and I’m pleased with how she has evolved. She started out as a bit of a doormat in House of Ashes her sister once referred to her as a spineless Raggedy Ann Doll (ouch!) but she’s grown to be more confident and comfortable in her own skin. Not without her flaws, Cassie does push the lines sometimes when she’s in sleuthing mode. It’s her relationship with, or rather acceptance of, the spirits in the house that makes her most interesting and fun.

In addition to Cassie, the cast of characters includes fiancé and former FBI agent, Daniel Benjamin, who has left the force to take over the Mitchell family whale watching and boat touring business. What I like most about Daniel is that I’m never sure what he’s thinkingeven though it’s me who’s doing his thinking! Long-time family friend and police chief, Brooks Kincaid, is both annoyed by Cassie’s interference in the investigation and appreciative when her notions end up helping the case. Brooks is tough and tenderhearted at the same time, which to me is irresistible. Close friend Laura Prince is a reporter for the local newspaper and Cassie’s partner in sleuthing. But she walks a fine line with her husband Jason as the newest deputy on the Whale Rock police force. Other carry overs from House of Ashes include the charming Edgar Faust and Jimmy Collins. Also along for the adventure are Lu Ketchner and Evelyn Hilliard, lifelong friends of Cassies’ sister Zoe, who fled Whale Rock years ago for mysterious reasons of her own.
We can’t forget Percy and Celeste, the spirits of The Bluffs, who both assist and confound Cassie with their signals. The town of Whale Rock is itself a character in the Haunted Bluffs Mysteries. One reviewer said that she now wanted to live there. That was the ultimate compliment!

New characters introduced in Storm of Secrets include the Kleister family, whose three-year-old son, Lucas, goes missing during the storm, and the inscrutable Christopher Savage, a first timer on the Cape who has formed an odd friendship with the missing boy’s six-year-old brother, Nicholas. The historic mystery involves Renée and her siblings who emigrated to America from Italy in the 1960s after the tragic death of their parents. It was a rough landing for the three teenagers, leading to even more tragedy after they arrived.

What are you working on now?
I’ve written two new mysteries; one is out on submission with my agent. The second book was co-written with my husband and is now in the editing phase. I’m contemplating bringing back to life the very first manuscript I wrote. My agent and I both love the book but never found the right home for it. It needs a good polish and I’m hoping to find the time to do that between other projects.

Were any of the characters in the book inspired by people from your real life?
My characters are purely fictional. That being said, it’s possible that some characteristics especially the more quirky or distinguishing may have been borrowed from people I know or those whom I’ve observed.

Who was your favorite character to write? What about your least favorite?
This is a difficult question to answer because I love spending time with all my characterseven the wicked ones. I try to challenge myself by creating characters that are so unlike me. I must admit, it’s fun to slip into the skin of fictional personalities that do and say things I never could or would myself.

What is your favorite passages/scenes in STORM OF SECRETS?
It’s not easy to select a favorite, but the first passage below is taken from the present-day story and discusses the mysterious legend of Barnacle Boy as well as the real-life mystery that inspired this aspect of the novel. This is followed by a scene from the historic portion of the book.

     “I have this hunger to learn who Barnacle Boy was, where he came from, why nobody ever came looking for him,” Laura told me.
     “It’s your reporter’s instincts shifting into high gear.”
     “Haven’t you been curious? I mean all these years, and nobody knows who he is or where he came from.”
     “Sure, I’m curious. I’m also a little protective of him.” Deep down, I felt I already knew him.
     “Protective? I don’t get that.”
     “I’m not certain I can explain it.” I paused to consider. “It’s just that the mystery has made him a Whale Rock legend.” A Mitchell legend. “Whenever Granny Fi took me to the graveyard to visit the other family members, we always stopped at Barnacle Boy’s gravesite too. Only we never called him that. To us, he was always the lost boy. My Granny would tell me made-up stories about the lost boy and his life.”
     I knew that no matter what real-life story was uncovered, it would never measure up to the ones she told me.
     Laura was reflective a moment before offering her own perspective. “When I was in college, I came across a true crime story from the 1950s, about a little boy whose body had been found in a large cardboard box in Philadelphia. Although he was badly bruised, someone had taken the time to clean the body, trim his nails and cut his hair, and then carefully wrap him in a blanket and fold his arms across his stomach. But the investigation went nowhere. No leads, no clues nothing. To this day the Boy in a Box mystery remains unsolved.
     “That is such a tragic story.”
     “No more tragic than Barnacle Boy’s story,” Laura pointed out.
     She’s right, I thought as we pulled up to The Bluffs and got out of the car. When you lived your entire life with a tragedy woven into your own town’s folklore, you must become inured to it. Granny Fi’s stories created a character that had in a way diminished the lost boy’s terribly sad fate.
     “I wrote something about it for one of my creative writing classes. The shadow of sadness still clings to me. Then we came here, and when I first saw Barnacle Boy’s grave in your family’s cemetery? It made me want to solve at least one of the mysteries.” She held my gaze a moment before asking, “Is that crazy?”
     “Not at all.” Certainly no more crazy than the overwhelming burning sugar scent that enveloped me as we walked inside my home.

Here is a scene from the historic mystery. I love the analogy of the hummingbird as Renée reflects on her life.
     Renée nodded as she watched a hummingbird at the feeder on their balcony, though she wasn’t shaking from the cold. No, it was fear. But of what? Was death coming for her? Would she be punished for her sins?
     Not long afterward the doorbell chimed, followed by the murmurings of her husband and best friend. She supposed Michael was preparing Brandan for the condition he would find her in.
     “There’s my girl,” Brandan said, leaning down to kiss her sunken cheek. “I brought you cinnamon brioche from Levains. Your favorite.” He opened the white pastry box to display the baked goodies.  “Take a whiff.”
     “Yum,” Renée said, pretending enthusiasm. The truth was, she had no appetite for sweetshardly any appetite at all. And there would be no point in asking what Levains was. Even if he told her, she wouldn’t be able to remember.
     For the next few minutes Brandan brought her up to date on what was happening at the business.
     “Everyone sends their best to you. Some would like to visit.”
     “No visitors.” She’d been adamant. “Only you.”
     “What do you want me to do with this?” he asked, pulling the age-worn manila envelope from the inside pocket of his sports jacket.
     “What is that?” She narrowed her eyes.
     “The envelope you kept in a secret compartment of your jewelry box. You gave it to me last time I visited.”
     “Did I?” She was focused on the hummingbirds. “Did you know that hummingbirds almost never stop moving? It’s how they survive.”
     “Just like you, huh?” She’d said something similar to him on the day she’d told him about her life before. When he’d urged her to tell her family, she’d said, “There’s no going back. If I don’t keep moving forward, that’s when my world will fall apart.”
     She nodded as the ghost of a smile played on her lips.

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?
Writers do a great deal of research. In the Haunted Bluffs Mystery series there are many sailing details, and not being a sailor myself I had to do a great deal of research of sailing terms and practices. It was also through my research that I found the real-life inspiration for the story of Barnacle Boy which figures prominently in STORM OF SECRETS. I was so moved by this unclaimed boy’s true story that I knew I needed to find a way to include it in some way in one of my books. The quote from the above passage is how I truly feel: “The shadow of sadness still clings to me.”

Who is your ultimate book villain?
I could name a few: Professor Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes books, Nurse Ratched in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, Hannibal Lecter in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, Annie Wilkes from MISERY

What inspired you to write paranormal suspense?
When I came up with the concept for the first book in what became the Haunted Bluffs Mystery series, a paranormal element was not in the mix. I knew I wanted to weave together a present-day story with a related historic tale, however bringing Percy and Celeste Mitchell back to their beloved Battersea Bluffs as spirits didn’t come to me until after I’d completed the outline. I had the mystery plotted out and was pleased with the characters and their backstories, but as I began to rough out a draft, it just felt like more spice was needed to bring a unique richness to the story.

I turned to my go-to resource: writing journals I’ve kept for years. I flipped through the pages of jotted notes, some so hastily written I could barely make them out, searching for another little gem to add. I was about to give up when in the back of one of my oldest writing notebooks I found a section where I had documented my experiences with a friendly but mischievous spirit who resided within the bones of our rural Connecticut home. My husband and I had just moved into our first home together; a rustic farmhouse property that abutted a 300-year-old cemetery, when the strange happenings began. Over time we became accustomed to the ghostly presence.

Had I not come across my documentations of the experience with our otherworldly visitor, I may not have been inspired to include a paranormal element into the first book. Now, I can’t imagine the books without that special ghostly aspect.

Lightning Round Questions

What are you reading right now? Or what do you have on your TBR that you’re dying to read?
I just finished AFTERWARDS by Rosamund Lupton. What an incredible premise! I wish I had thought of it.
I’ve been waiting to read Simone ST. James’s THE BROKEN GIRLS. It’s been on my nightstand for a while, but I’ve been so busy with the book launch that I decided to save it for holiday reading when I have some uninterrupted time.

What Hogwarts House would the Sorting Hat place you in?
Probably a toss-up between Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. In my life I’ve always seemed to straddle different groups, never quite fitting squarely into any one faction.

Twitter or Facebook?

Favorite Superhero?
Wonder Woman!

Favorite TV show?
Seinfeld (I will forever watch the reruns) and Jeopardy

Sweet or Salty?

Any Phobias?
I’m not crazy about heights, especially high bridges.

Song you can’t get enough of right now?
Because of the season, I’d have to say Christmas songs. My all-time favorites are the rock classics: John Lennon’s Happy Christmas, Dan Folgelberg’s Same Auld Lang Syne and Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas?

2019/2020 Movie you’re most looking forward to?

Thanks so much Loretta for answering my questions! I can’t wait for everyone to read STORM OF SECRETS!

I hope you will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed creating Whale Rock and Cassie’s adventures!
About Loretta: 

An author of fiction, Loretta’s writing bridges the genres of women’s fiction, mystery and suspense, always with hints of romance and humor, sometimes delving into the psychological and paranormal. She creates strong but flawed and struggling characters as appealing as the rich atmospheric settings in which the stories take place.

Loretta has loved reading and creating with words since she was a young girl. And that affection for the written word followed her like a shadow throughout her life as she put pen to paper crafting marketing and advertising copy, educational brochures and newsletters. But her passion for writing fiction evolved from the unlikely world of hospice. As a volunteer, she set out to establish a Legacy Story program to honor and preserve the rich heritage of the fascinating people who were soon to leave this world. The meaningful experience inspired her to create her own interesting characters and stories.

Though born and raised in the Midwest, Loretta fell in love with New England and has made it the setting for much of her writing. When not whipping out words on her laptop, she is traveling, enjoying outdoor pursuits, or is curled up with a delicious new book. Loretta lives in Rhode Island with her husband, Geoffrey, and their beloved Mr. Peabody, a sweet, devoted and amusing “Corgador” (Corgi-Labrador cross).

Represented by Jill Grosjean Literary Agency

Giveaway Details:
1 winner will receive a one signed first edition copy of each book in the Haunted Bluffs Mystery Series - HOUSE OF ASHES &  STORM OF SECRETS in a book bag with book marks, US Only.

1 winner will receive an ebook of THE FOOL'S TRUTH, International.

Tour Schedule:
Week One:

Week Two:
Paper safari
Hurn Publications
Sometimes Leelynn Reads
Sandra's Book Club


  1. Thank you so much for the fun interview and for featuring my newly released STORM OF SECRETS, book two of the Haunted Bluffs Mystery Series! I'm happy to answer any reader questions and will check in throughout the day. Happy reading everyone!

  2. Hey thanks for stopping by my blog! My name is Jaime and I have been blogging here at Two Chicks on Books for over 9 years! When this blog started I had a partner but after almost 2 years I decided to break from that partner and run the blog on my own! I also used to be a reviewer for the San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review and did that for about three years. I formerly was the Publicity and Marketing Director for Month9Books as well as Entangled Publishing. I now work for myself and am the Owner of Rock Star Book Tours and Publicity!

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