Spotlight on Indie Romance: 2019 RONE Finalists – Mystery

The last round of RONE Finalists for 2019 feature mystery and romance. Shipboard sabotage, wine country corporate espionage, getaway weddings, and mysterious slayings in 1951 Los Angeles; these four finalists deliver.

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Her identity is hidden … He’s determined to uncover it Charleston, South Carolina shipping heiress, MIRANDA MERRICK, discovers one of her family’s cargo ships, the Elle Merrick, has suffered multiple attacks by a saboteur. The devious actions have put the company at risk for bankruptcy. Miranda refuses to sit idly and wait for years of hard work to be destroyed. She boards the Elle in hopes of gaining help from her uncle, the ship’s captain, only to discover a stranger at the helm. A man much younger than her uncle, and someone she believes has no business being there.

In an effort to discover the culprit and save her family’s company, Miranda stows away on the ship – keeping her identity a secret while conducting her own investigation. Making matters more complicated, she finds herself attracted to the new captain, who could very well be the enemy. After all, until she can uncover the truth, everyone is suspect.

Captain NOAH SHEPPARD is hoping to merge his small, cargo shipping line, Clayton Company, with the multinational conglomerate, Merrick Shipping. Upon discovering one of Merrick’s ships has been deliberately and systematically sabotaged by a crew member, he agrees to captain the targeted vessel in hopes of discovering the identity of the saboteur. Once caught and brought to justice, both companies will then be able to close the deal and complete the merger.

Two days into the voyage, Noah discovers a stowaway, and assumes she’s either the saboteur or in league with him. But what Noah didn’t bargain for is having to deal with the mysterious, gorgeous, redhead, who wreaks havoc – not only to his patience, but to his heart.

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What happens when a corporate spy clashes with a woman he can’t help but fall for?

Chloe Dorsey places her belongings in storage, puts Southern California in her rearview mirror, and heads to her sister’s home in Northern California for a fresh start. As one of the newly hired wine educators at the Napa Valley Point Resort and Winery, Chloe’s knowledge of wine is as limited as her income.

Anthony “Tony” Mahoney has one objective—to locate the Mother Vine, the source of the rare and award-winning wine that can only be found at the Napa Valley Point Resort and Winery. His talent for stealing secrets is tested when he makes an unlikely alliance with the one woman who could destroy all his plans.


Kaley Kalua is ecstatic when her best friend announces that she’s getting married and bringing the pre-wedding celebration to Aloha Lagoon! As the maid of honor, Kaley can’t wait to see her bride-to-be bestie, Emma—that is, until Emma shows up on the island with a few unwelcome faces in her wedding party, including Kaley’s cheating ex-husband, Bryan, one of his former mistresses, and his new girlfriend! To make matters worse, Kaley’s current relationship with the resort’s hot lifeguard is on the rocks, and her brand new handbag goes missing after a wild night celebrating Emma’s bachelorette party.

But things go from bad to downright deadly when Bryan’s girlfriend is found the next day, dead and buried in a shallow grave on the resort beach—along with Kaley’s missing bag! The police seem convinced that Kaley is involved in the woman’s untimely death. In order to prove her innocence and save Emma’s wedding weekend, Kaley must do a little investigating of her own. Did her arrogant ex-husband kill his own girlfriend? Or did the jealous other woman commit the crime? The deeper Kaley digs in her pursuit of the truth, the more secrets and lies she uncovers. It soon becomes clear that someone doesn’t want Kaley to air their dirty laundry. If she isn’t careful, she may not live to see her friend walk down the aisle.

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June, 1951…It’s a tense summer in the City of Angels. A killer is on the loose. She’s blonde, she’s beautiful, and she murders bad guys. On three different occasions, she thwarted a mugging in progress, saving the innocent, dispatching the guilty, and fading away like a whisper in the rain. She never waits around for thanks. Apparently she doesn’t want any.

Who is this woman? Jack Curran, star reporter, is determined to find out. He’s a good citizen. A war hero. A journalist who wants to write fiction, which he plans to once he files an exclusive on Thrill Girl’s identity. When Thrill Girl strikes a fourth time, adding two more to her body count while saving a pretty shop girl, his investigation leads him to socialite Alana Maxwell. She’s blonde. She’s beautiful.

Does she murder bad guys? Despite his publisher’s warning to beware her very connected and powerful step-brother, Jack goes to ask her, face to face. But Alana Maxwell doesn’t care that a newspaperman is tracking her like a hound with a snout full of fox. She has only one thing on her mind, saving her younger brother’s life. It’s something she’ll do anything to accomplish. Anything. Including taking illicit drugs, living with blackouts and hallucinations, and putting herself in the hands of a mysterious doctor she has no good reason to trust. Before Jack can nail down Alana’s connection to Thrill Girl, LA is rocked by an even more lurid crime. A bum is ripped to pieces near the Griffith Park Zoo. The coroner says the bite marks have traces of human and animal saliva. The cops go crazy. Jack’s newspaper proclaims a monster’s in town. The good citizens of LA lock their doors and windows and clamor for answers.

Jack is determined to provide them. He hears a rumor about something called a der Katzenjunge. Translation? A European myth about men with the mutant ability to temporarily transmogrify into a savage, feline-like creature. What the hell would a crackpot story like that have to do with Thrill Girl, he wonders? Quite a lot, actually.

*** prices reflect time of posting ***

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