Romance Novel Giveaways - Freebies and Giveaways of All Things Romance Romance Novel Giveaways: Family Skeletons by Josie Malone 💕 Guest Post, Book Tour & Gift Card Giveaway 💕 (Paranormal Romance)

Friday, April 23, 2021

Family Skeletons by Josie Malone 💕 Guest Post, Book Tour & Gift Card Giveaway 💕 (Paranormal Romance)

Sergeant First Class Sullivan Barlow has plans for her future and none of them include the guy she slept with in a night of weakness. Intending to forget the devastation of losing her best friend in Afghanistan, Sully woke the next morning still alone. Her only solace—she hadn’t told the man her real name.

A career soldier, Tate Murphy has three more years in the Army until he’s eligible for retirement. Seven weeks ago, he met a woman in a hotel bar and spent the night with her. He hasn’t been able to get her out of his mind and can’t believe his luck when he finds her again.

Then they discover their first night together resulted in something they never expected. She’s pregnant, and Tate immediately proposes. Pregnant, struggling with survivor guilt, the last thing Sully needs is to learn her best friend may have died, but hasn’t left yet.

Tate says, ‘sometimes courage is an act of survival’. Sully fears trust is a casualty of war. Will she and Tate ever find it again either by themselves or with the help of those who have passed on before?

Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

I am a writer. I have always been a story-teller. It’s a family tradition. I remember my grandmother as the queen of pithy comments who served putdowns at her Sunday dinners, along with her pot roast.   Grandma never swore. It wasn’t ladylike, but insulting someone’s intelligence, morality, behavior, manners and children or mate was an art form. Grandma ran the Pine Tree Tavern below First Avenue in downtown Seattle, a very unsavory part of the city. She kept a “cuss jar” for her clientele. Funds collected from the foul language paid for the annual Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas party at the bar, while the leftover money went to Children’s Hospital in Seattle. 

I started writing down Grandma’s stories as a young teen although I knew nothing about the techniques or mechanics of what would become my passion. Most listeners, my parents, my aunts, uncles, cousins squirmed at her turn of a phrase. I always admired Grandma’s use of language. When I graduated from high school, I was determined to be a writer. My creative writing teacher had told me I had talent and suggested college.  I came from a poor, single-parent household, and higher education wasn’t possible. No one in our extended family had ever attended college. The girls got married and the boys went to work.

Grandma’s love of language was the legacy she passed on to me.   As she told me more than once, “Your words have power.  Use it wisely.  Don’t shout when a whisper will do.” So, when I chose a pen name for my romances, I opted for part of hers as a tribute. Josie Malone. When people ask what I do, I say, “I’m a writer.  Telling stories is a family tradition.  I just write down mine.”

What is something unique/quirky about you?

I love reading Louis L’Amour westerns and collect them in the brown vinyl that is supposed to look like leather. No, I don’t have all of them, but I keep watching for them online, in second-hand stores, thrift shops and the antique stores in Snohomish, Washington. Granted, most of my shopping trips took place prior to Covid-19, but I’ll be thrilled when I can go shopping in person again.

Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!

I grew up on a pony farm in Washington State. The rule was the ponies ate before we did, so we spent a lot of time in the barns. Once we’d mucked stalls and fed them, it was time to head for the house to fix dinner. I’ve worked since I was a kid. In my free time, I loved to dream away the days in an old cherry tree on my family’s pony farm. In my imagination, the tree became a beautiful Arabian stallion, a medieval castle and even a pirate ship. I got in trouble for making my little sisters walk the plank, but hey, they never broke any bones.

What are some of your pet peeves?

I don’t have a lot of patience for lazy people, probably because I’ve worked since childhood. I didn’t go to college until after my sisters left home and worked the whole time, I was at Washington State University in Pullman, WA. Let’s see. I also rescue far too many critters, usually cats, dogs, and horses. I donate money to the local animal shelter, but I can’t watch the Humane Society commercials on TV. It’s too upsetting to see animals abused. If I see litter in a parking lot, I’ll pick it up – another pet peeve. Garbage should be disposed of, not displayed. I consider myself a moral person, but hate being lectured by anyone. Of course, I get a certain amount of that since I’m the caretaker for my senior mom and she still tries to tell me how to wear my hair and not to buy snarky t-shirts. I can pass up anything but a sarcastic dragon one. Okay, time to stop now because if I keep going – you’ll know way too much of my dislikes and like most authors, I have quite a few!

Where were you born/grew up at?

I was born in Seattle and spent most of my first seven years there. Then, we moved to Everett, Washington and my mom opened a pony farm. Because my dad left on my twelfth birthday, I grew up in a single-parent household. I was the first girl in the family to graduate from high school and the last thing I wanted was a husband.  I went to work for a temporary office service and washed dishes at night in a restaurant.  I couldn’t fulfill my dream of joining the Army because I was needed at home to raise my younger sisters. I enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve instead. When the wolf was at the door with a litter of pups, as my grandfather used to say, or when times were even harder, the civilian liaison of my Army Reserve unit, Ed Matthews would put me “on orders.” 

This meant I did office work for him, answered phones, and taught myself to type on his new electric machine, and was paid well for that time.  Ed didn’t care what I typed as long as I looked busy and didn’t allow anyone at his desk when he was out playing golf with the General who commanded Fort Lawton.  So, I began my first novel. At nearly eighteen, I was fascinated with romance.  I had read tons of them growing up and they were my favorite fantasy.  I always wanted a hero on a white horse to rescue me although I knew it would never happen.  Life in a single-parent household taught reality.  Men came with baggage and they always expected women to buy the suitcases.  While I happily typed away on my masterpiece, Ed occasionally looked over my shoulder.  If he felt my hero was turning into a jerk, or worse acting like a coward, Ed told me so.

My orders ran out about the time I finished the novel, so I bundled up my baby and shipped it off to Harlequin Books in Canada.  I didn’t know anything about the publishing business, so I mailed the only copy I had.  In addition to this no-no, I also didn’t have a clue about setting up a manuscript.  I finished each chapter and began the next one on the same page, a fatal flaw.  I also used up every scrap of paper and didn’t worry about such things as margins, or double spacing the lines of text.  

Worst of all, while the man my heroine thought she loved was dashing, romantic and charming – he was also unfaithful, dishonest, and nasty, a little too much like the real life I knew about.  She ended up with her nice, quiet, dull best friend, Toby – the kind of guy a woman could spend a lifetime loving, but he wasn’t a traditional romance hero. Still, as Ed pointed out – our Toby was a Vietnam veteran who could survive anything – even the garbage our heroine threw at him – not literally – just emotionally.  Well, Toby survived the trip to Canada and Harlequin.  Eventually, I received a letter.  Harlequin liked my book.  However, all the purchases at the time were made in England, so my book was going somewhere I HAD NEVER BEEN, LONDON!

It took a few more months for the book to finally be rejected, but by then I was hard at work on my next romance novel.  At eighteen, I had almost made it and I was determined to become a successful novelist.  College still wasn’t an option.  I could only learn so much from books and magazines, so I began to attend talks by published authors.  Many offered classes in writing for nominal fees. I saved every extra cent to pay for these courses, usually by riding the bus and not driving the car to work. Grandma let me stay in her guest room so I wouldn’t have to pay rent and I packed my lunch every day.

If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?

Tying up all the loose ends I could on the farm, making sure someone would be here to look after my mother and the critters, and sending off my last book to my publisher. I wouldn’t want my dog to suffer – he’s a rescue so I’d need to know someone would love and care for him. The same goes for the horses. 

Who is your hero and why?

My grandfather. At least once a week, my single mother would take my sisters and me to see my grandparents who lived in Seattle.  On those visits, my grandfather introduced me to Louis L’Amour western novels, and I absolutely adored the cowboys who rode through the pages. They fascinated me nearly as much as John Wayne did in his movies. How could I resist men like my grandfather who had an old-fashioned code of honor? And what was that code? It always went something like this:

Code of the West

(from "Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West" by James P. Owen)

  1. Live each day with courage. 

  2. Take pride in your work. 

  3. Always finish what you start. 

  4. Do what has to be done. 

  5. Be tough, but fair. 

  6. When you make a promise, keep it. 

  7. Ride for the brand. 

  8. Talk less and say more. 

  9. Remember that some things aren't for sale. 

  10. Know where to draw the line. 

Since I have a BA in History, I know the Western novels and movies I loved as a child are Hollywood myths, but as an author I love a good story, especially those where good conquers evil. My grandfather tried to live up to that mythic code and instilled in me the desire to follow it. As Robert Duvall says in Secondhand Lions, “Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things that a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good. That honor, courage and virtues mean everything. That power and money, money, and power mean nothing; that Good always triumphs over Evil; and I want you to remember this: That Love, true Love never dies. Doesn't matter if any of this is true or not. You see a man should believe in these things because these are the things worth believing.”

What are you passionate about these days?

Books, Animals, Wine, Chocolate, the Climate, Kindness and Humor, not necessarily in that order.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I read, write my latest book, groom my horses, play with my dog, and hang out on the farm. I watch Rizzoli and Isles although I really love the Tess Gerritsen novels which inspired the television series.

In pre-Covid days, I’d take in a movie and pig out on heavily buttered popcorn, or I’d go to Barnes and Noble in the Alderwood Mall. I’d also attend writer conferences and workshops, not only with my friends who are other authors, but also with editors from large (New York) publishing firms and literary agents. This is where I learned the mechanics behind the mysteries of creating saleable work back in the day. Authors at those conferences and workshops taught the requirements of specific genres, good novel proposals, effective synopsis writing, enticing query letters and even the proper use of adverbs as well as so-called “being” words, i.e. “try to cut as many of those as possible.” Of course, being with other people who love creating stories is a party even when we’re sitting around and brainstorming their next projects as well as mine.

Describe yourself in 5 words or less! 

Compassionate, Empathetic, Intelligent, Kind, Motivated

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’d been trying to write romance novels, but they weren’t selling. However, I knew I was a writer when I sold two Young Adult novels, I’d written to a publisher who advertised in the Romance Writer’s Report. I sent in a query – a chapter and an outline of a proposed novel.  While the editor turned that one down as well as a story about horses, she suggested I call her, an unusual response to an unpublished author.  I did and we wound up discussing what would become my first book for her company, “Daddy, Please Tell Me What’s Wrong.”

I had never sold a young adult novel before, much less written one.  Still, I had completed much longer romance novels and this particular book would only be a hundred pages.  I wrote it while I was on active duty for the Army Reserve and sent the proposal to the editor.  Then I went on to another assignment for the Army – straightening out the records of an elite Ranger unit.  While I was there, the editor called my mother and asked to talk to me about the book.  Mom told her if they were buying the book, they could interrupt me at the Army base – she’d give them the number.  Otherwise, they’d have to wait until I came home on leave.

They didn’t wait.  They bought the book.  It sold out the initial print run of 50,000 copies.  The first fan letter I received after the publication of this young adult novel that dealt with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder showed me once again how great an impression language makes.  The young girl wrote about one of the secondary characters, “I really liked your book….her dad killed himself….so did mine.  Have a nice day.”

Do you have a favorite movie?

Moonstruck with Cher and Nicolas Cage. It has everything that makes a movie wonderful, a terrific cast, a good story and of course, the perfect HEA or “happy ever after” ending. I watch it whenever it’s on TV. I also adore Princess Bride. Inigo Montoya is a fabulous, secondary character.


Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?

Any of the Baker City Hearts and Haunts stories, but I think MY SWEET HAUNT, the first book in the series would make a fabulous movie. Cobwebs, eerie sounds and creaky floorboards greet Cat O’Leary McTavish and her twin daughters when they move to their new home, a dilapidated dude ranch near Baker City in the Cascade foothills of Washington State. Her plan to restore the destination resort to its former glory hits a snag when she learns she has the ‘O’Leary Gift’ and can talk to the dead man who still resides in her house. Former Army Ranger, Rob Williams always planned to run the family guest ranch after completing his military service. Instead, he “bought the farm with his life” when he died in Vietnam but being dead doesn’t mean he’s going anywhere. Encountering someone who “sees” and “hears” him is a welcome change. I’d love to see this story as a movie. I’d watch it again and again.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

It would have to be a horse. I’ve been with so many of them since I was a child. Each one has a personality of their own, but all are beautiful, loyal, loving, and majestic in their own ways. Of course, I’ve lost a certain number through the years. As my veterinarian says, “We choose to love those who have a shorter life span than we do.” However, when I cross the Rainbow Bridge, I hope to meet up with those who have gone before me.



Sullivan Barlow glanced from the handwritten—make that scribbled—disposition form in front of her to the typed version on the computer screen. She’d thought the high school students during her last practicum had crappy penmanship. So, did this guy. She squinted at the signature block again. Yes, it was Master Sergeant Tate Murphy. If she ever met him in person, she’d suggest he repeat third grade and learn cursive.

Oh, wait a minute. A lot of elementary schools no longer taught it. That couldn’t be the case with him. He had to be older than she was, and she learned it back in the day in Liberty Valley. So, she’d give him hell. She took a deep breath. No, she wouldn’t. She was a Sergeant First Class, an E-7, after all. She’d be polite and recommend he find a pharmacist to decipher his hieroglyphics.

Okay, it was official. She was definitely having a bad day. She pushed back from the desk and leaned down to rub her aching left leg. She’d worked in worse conditions than Major Harper’s office. For a moment, she remembered dust, sand, and overwhelming heat. Then, she shook her head.

No, Sully. Concentrate on the moment. Think about here and now.

The room was large with two desks facing each other. Weak February sunshine filtered through the mini-blinds on the windows to her right, laying patterns on the carpeted floor. The American flag stood neatly in the stand to her left, accompanied by the Washington state flag and the one for Fort Clark. Looking at the Stars and Stripes always reminded her of that last flight home and the tri-folded flag on her lap.

She choked on the rising lump in her throat. She’d sat and held that flag on her lap on the entire flight, refusing the meals and beverages the overly sympathetic flight attendants offered.

I wish things were different. I want a do-over. If I could only go back in time… Oh, Raven, I’m so sorry.

Sully closed her eyes for a moment, blinked hard before she focused on the computer screen again. She always tried to avoid glancing at the U.S. flag and the glassed-in bookcases behind the stand. File cabinets lined the wall that held the same door to the hall and the break room where she could find a cup of coffee. That was if she wanted to try walking that far when her ankle throbbed in its own rhythm, pressing against her combat boot.

Okay, she’d upgrade the day from being bad to officially sucking. Her leg hurt. She had a stack of reports from a moron to type. She repeated her mantra. Don’t complain, things can always be worse. At least nobody is trying to kill me.

“Haven’t you finished those reports yet? You’ve been typing for three days.”

Sully looked from the stack of paperwork to the blonde fashion plate in front of the desk. She was slipping. She should have heard the click of high heels in the hall before Anise Tyler, the civilian clerk in charge returned to the office.  “It’d go faster if you helped instead of disappearing to the breakroom every hour.”

“Speaking of that, it’s a mess.” In a clinging light blue dress that matched her heels, the civilian liaison sauntered across to her desk and eased into the leather chair behind it. “I told Mr. Edwards you’d clean it up. You’ll find the mop in the utility closet at the end of the hall.”

“Excuse you.” Sully counted silently to ten, the advice one of the other sergeants in her company had given for dealing with idiots. It didn’t work this time. “You’re joking, right?” 

“Do I look like it?” Anise smiled, but it didn’t touch her pale blue eyes. Pleasure filled the lovely face. “You can go clean it now. Then come back and finish those reports.”

“I don’t think so.” Sully rose to her feet, leaning on the desk for support and pinned Anise with an icy glare, hoping the other woman didn’t see the actual physical weakness in her stance. “Let me make one thing perfectly clear, Ms. Tyler. I am a Sergeant First Class. I’ve done three tours in the sandbox and I was reassigned here for light duty when they no longer needed me in the Finance section. I don’t scrub floors, wash windows, or take out your trash. I don’t give garbage. I don’t take garbage. I am not in the garbage business. I’ll do your correspondence. I won’t do your dirty work. Got it?”

The sound of slow applause drew Sully’s attention to the door and away from the sputtering woman on the other side of the room. A tall, dark-haired man in camouflage fatigues stood in the doorway. Oh crap, Sully thought. She was in for it now. She should have remembered she was here temporarily and controlled her temper, not actually told the full-time office manager where to go. Of course, there’d been an audience.

I never catch a break. What a hell of a time for the major to arrive.

From his smile to the dark blue of his eyes, she knew she’d seen that ruggedly handsome face before. Where? A memory fluttered. A deep voice rumbling with laughter, a strong hand reaching across her to pour two glasses of golden Chardonnay, a sweet wine kiss, then another, deeper. She shook her head. She was losing it. He was a stranger. He had to be a stranger. And he was a rude one too. He hadn't even come into the office. He just stood in the doorway staring at her like she was the most entertaining show in town. 

“And you are?” Sully asked.

“Master Sergeant Murphy. Are you the person who has been transcribing my reports and emailing them back to me? I didn’t recognize your initials, ‘sb’.” His smile faded and he looked toward Anise. “You did check her security clearance before passing on my notes, didn’t you, Ms. Tyler?”

Red mottled under her makeup as Anise gulped for air. She hadn’t followed procedure and the three of them knew it.

Pity stirred in Sully and she cleared her throat. “I am qualified to type these bloody reports in every way, Master Sergeant Tate Murphy but I have to say it would be much easier if you’d learned to scribe a coherent hand.”


Cobwebs, eerie sounds and creaky floorboards greet Cat O’Leary McTavish and her twin daughters when they move to their new home, a dilapidated dude ranch near Baker City in the Cascade foothills of Washington State. Her plan to restore the destination resort to its former glory hits a snag when she learns she has the ‘O’Leary Gift’ and can talk to the dead man who still resides in her house.

Former Army Ranger, Rob Williams always planned to run the family guest ranch after completing his military service. Instead, he “bought the farm with his life” when he died in Vietnam, but being dead doesn’t mean he’s going anywhere. Encountering someone who “sees” and “hears” him is a welcome change.

Cat’s determination leads her into danger, when they discover an adversary wants to turn the one-time dude ranch into a gravel pit.

Will a woman with a dream and a man who’s had his dreams cut short, manage to save a ranch and each other when the biggest surprise of all is love?


Home from her Army Reserve tour in Afghanistan, Sergeant First Class Ann Barrett is divorced, unemployed and dealing with her unruly, spoiled six-year-old. The last thing she needs is a ghost playing matchmaker. Not ready to trade in her fatigues for a civilian job as a high school teacher, Ann applies for a position at the Army Reserve base.

Issues arise when she meets her new boss, former Army Ranger, Master Sergeant Harry Colter. He came to Fort Bronson in Seattle to escape his grief when his best friend died in an ambush, but he hasn’t realized he didn’t come alone, or that his buddy is playing ‘Cupid’.

It’s difficult for Ann leave the war behind when so many things enrage her, like her ex-husband and her family that puts the fun back in “dysfunctional.” However, in order to handle what comes now, she must deal with her past, her child and the 20-year-old secret she learns about Harry.

Will a woman with enough baggage to fill a footlocker and a man who knows life comes with no guarantees save each other and find a future?


Josie Malone lives and works at her family business, a riding stable in Washington State. Teaching kids to ride and know about horses, she finds in many cases, she's taught three generations of families. Her life experiences span adventures from dealing cards in a casino, attending graduate school to get her Masters in Teaching degree, being a substitute teacher, and serving in the Army Reserve - all leading to her second career as a published author. Visit her at her website, to learn about her books.


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  1. I like the cover of My Sweet Haunt. It's so atmospheric and haunting.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Glad you like the cover! Lynsee Lauritsen's work is amazing!

  2. War is hell but it's got nothing on one-night stands.

    1. Amber (Josie's VA)April 23, 2021 at 8:21 PM

      Right! Nothing like a one-night stand to knock you off your game.

  3. This sounds like an unusual and interesting book!

  4. It was a fun write, but I still enjoy reading it. Tate thinks he's in charge of the world, but Sully certainly gives him a challenge.

  5. Replies
    1. All the books are great! But my favorite is Family Skeletons! I really hope you enjoy them!

  6. Sounds like a great series. Love the covers.

    1. Lynsee Lauritsen does great work with the covers! I think the series is a great read and I hope you enjoy them as well.

  7. Replies
    1. Awesome! We really hope you enjoy reading them.

  8. Like the descriptions of your books. All of them sound interesting. Thanks.

  9. Ilove the way the covers are done with background and foreground.

    1. Lynsee Lauritsen does amazing work! We are so glad you like them.

  10. I don't have any question but the intro looks like a great read!

    1. I hope you enjoy the series. Thank you for being apart of the tour.


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