Monday, July 28, 2014

Devil's Lake by Aaron Paul Lazar and an Excerpt

Devil's Lake

Devil's Lake by Aaron Paul Lazar
e-book (262 pages)
Print and audio books are coming soon

After two years of brutal captivity, Portia Lamont has escaped and returned to her family’s Vermont horse farm—only to find her parents gone to New York to try an experimental treatment for her mother’s cancer, and her childhood friend Boone Hawke running the farm.

Like the rest of her family, Boone has never given up hope that Portia would return. But when she turns up battered, skinny as a twelve-year-old boy, afraid of everything and unable to talk about what happened, he does the only thing he can—try to help her heal. He summons the town doctor and Portia’s parents, and sets out to put this beautiful, broken woman back together again.

Through her family's love and Boone's gentle affection, Portia gradually comes back to herself, and starts to fall for her old friend in a whole new way. But one thing threatens her fragile hope for recovery: The man who took her promised that if she ever escaped, he'd kill her. Slowly. And someone is definitely watching her...waiting to make his next deadly move.

My thoughts about Devil's Lake ~~

First of all, some cover love. Isn't this cover just gorgeous? The images and colors are just amazing! 

Devil's Lake captured my attention from the very beginning. Portia is escaping, after being held by a horrible, sick man for 2 years. Her journey home in the stolen truck had my heart racing right along with hers. Would she be able to get home to safety before he came after her? Hurry, Portia, hurry! 
'Portia couldn't remember how she felt before it all happened. Before he took her, before he tied her to the bed, day after day, night after night. Before he took her soul.'
And then, after she gets home, is she really safe? And did she put her family in danger by coming home? 

There were parts of this book that made me GASP out loud. Even as awful as that can be for the characters in the story, I love when that happens to me, the reader. That is a sign that the author took the story in a direction that I wasn't expecting. It is awesome when that happens!  

I have to admit that even though I have a lot of Aaron's e-books, in particular, most of the Gus LeGarde Mysteries series, Devil's Lake is the first book of his that I have read -- at this point. My TBR list of Aaron's book is extremely long but I will be getting to it more quickly now, after reading this book. I really like his writing style and I am looking forward to diving into that mystery series that is patiently waiting for me. 


Chapter 1

Portia hauled on the wheel and dragged the old truck around a sharp corner, wincing when the engine popped and belched black smoke. The beat-up Chevy had been running rough since she left the highway an hour ago.

Come on, keep going. Just a few more miles.

Dust clouds marked her progress along the dirt road. She glanced in the rear view mirror for the millionth time, expecting to see the police chasing her.

Or him.

Tears streaked her cheeks, and she hiccupped a few sobs. She’d been weeping all the way from Wisconsin and felt dry now, as if she had no more tears to shed. Of course, that was insane. She’d probably cry all day, every day for the rest of her life.

Around yet another corner, and Cupcake slid toward her, scrabbling toenails on the vinyl seat. She steadied the little mutt, who snuggled close to her, blinking round black eyes.

“Sorry, baby.” Her voice cracked, roughened from all the crying.

Cupcake leaned into Portia, nuzzling under her arm.

She stroked the dog’s soft white ears. “Good girl. You’re my good little dog.”

She’d stolen the mongrel and the truck when she escaped—was it really only two days ago? Hurriedly thrusting her little friend into the front seat, she’d roared away from the cabin.

When she’d emerged from the woods in the old Chevy, bleary-eyed and shaken, completely disoriented, she’d followed the dusty road toward a village, where a row of eclectic stores lined both sides of a narrow street. In search of directions, she stumbled into the first gas station she could find.

There she was. Hungry. Weary. Traumatized. Skinny as a twelve-year-old boy. And the store clerk hadn't even given her a second glance. He’d pointed down the road in the direction of the highway, and had gone right back to texting without meeting her eyes.

Glancing into the rear view mirror, filled with irrational fear, again she half-expected to see him chasing her.

She forced herself to relax.

Just calm the hell down.

Sighing, she patted Cupcake with her free hand. “We just need to get home. That’s all.”


Internally, the need to scream clawed at her. Somehow, she stifled it and told herself she’d be there soon.

As if welcoming her, the Green Mountains surged into the clouds in the background, guarding the rolling hills of the valley where her family’s farm nestled in the hollow.

Oh, how she’d dreamed of this day.

Two long years. Two years of wishing. Of wanting. Of daring to hope.

She hiccupped another sob.

Bittersweet Hollow. She’d desperately yearned for it, picturing her mother’s kind face, the smell of her bread baking in the oven. She’d imagined her father quietly helping to deliver a new foal and the scent of fresh pine shavings on his wool shirt. She remembered leaning into his broad chest, feeling so safe. So protected.

Every night, she repeated the farm name as a mantra before sleep, after the man tied her to the bedposts.

The memories of her parents had comforted her then, and the thought of coming home filled her with a twisty sense of near-maniacal joy.

Her heart slammed against her ribs, quickening with every milestone she recognized.

Almost there.

Portia peered through the dusty windshield, savoring the view of the mountains that rose from the undulating wheat fields and indigo blue foothills in the distance. The scent of fresh-mown alfalfa entered the cab, prompting sweet memories of her childhood. The road dipped into the valley—affectionately called The Hollow by locals—into the protected basin cradled by hills on one side and mountains on the other.

Cupcake raised her head, sniffing the air.

“We’re almost home, baby.”

The dog licked Portia’s outstretched hand.

“When we get there, you can run free.”

Her voice shook, and she realized her words came fast—too fast, really. She’d been holding herself together like a cracked vase hastily glued to hide the broken shards and missing pieces. She knew she’d break apart soon, but if she could just make it a few more miles…

The scruffy dog sat up on her haunches, balancing like a circus dog, sticking her nose out the partially opened window.

They rolled around the last bend. There it was!

A surge of shuddering joy passed through Portia. They drove under an archway made from twining grapevines that reached out to twist together from both sides of the road. Beneath the natural arch, a rustic sign hung, swaying in the faint breeze, proclaiming a welcome to Bittersweet Hollow, a Morgan Horse Farm.

Beneath the name in dark blue script: Dirk and Daisy Lamont, Proprietors. Orange berries adorned the edges of the sign, celebrating the farm’s namesake, the beautiful but dangerous berries that filled the woods and burst into vibrant color in the fall.

In the distance, several barns emerged, flanked by emerald pastures encircled with expansive rectangles of white post and board fences. Dozens of horses populated the acreage, with coats ranging from blazing red chestnut to bright bay to dark seal brown. In his own separate paddock, her family’s black stallion, Mirage, raised his head and trotted to the fence near the driveway. He stood proud and strong, his long curly mane rippling in the breeze.

In spite of the lingering pall of darkness, Portia’s heart swelled with uncontrolled exhilaration. After all this time of wanting, wishing, and yearning for The Hollow.

Finally, she was home.


Boone Hawke watched the old Chevy truck rumbling toward him along the driveway, spewing a trail of smoke. He straightened, wiped his brow with a blue bandana, and stepped closer to the open hayloft door. Another customer, horse hunting? He couldn't assume they had no money because they drove an old wreck. It wasn't unusual for good old Vermont stock to keep their vehicles until they rattled to the junkyard and died. In spite of their frugal ways, they still valued horses and would spend good money on a well-bred mount. He figured if he could sell one of the young mares today, he’d put cash in Dirk and Daisy Lamont’s bank account for when they came home.

If they came home.

It hadn't been easy taking care of his neighbors’ horses while they were gone, especially in the winter. One month turned to two. Two months became four. Now it had been six months since they left.

The checks they sent to keep the farm running had been just about enough for expenses, but he’d had to pitch in from his own farm’s funds on occasion when the Lamonts’ tractor broke, or when the barn roof needed patching. He didn't want to add to their troubles, so he kept a ledger of his expenses and figured he’d pay himself back the next time a horse sold. The poor people had already been through enough, what with losing their eldest daughter to God-knows-what and now with Daisy’s illness.

With a grunt, he lifted and tossed the last hay bale onto a pile that almost reached the roof peak. He straightened, dusted off his hands, and started down the wooden ladder. Swiping at his unruly blond hair, he summoned a smile and ambled out into the sunlight.

About the author

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of three addictive mystery series, writing books, and a new love story, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. 

Visit his website at and watch for his upcoming SANCTUARY and MURDER ON THE SACANDAGA.

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