Book Review- All’s Fairy in Love and Murder by K.M. Waller

I am so excited to bring you my review of All’s Fair in Love and Murder by K.M. Waller. This is the First Book in the new Fairy Godmother Mystery Series. I fell in love with this cover the second I saw it. Isn’t it fantastic? I mean fairytastic?

All’s Fairy in Love and Murder Publishing  9/13/2019 !

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About the Book: 

Be careful what you wish for!

Juniper is a fairy princess living in a fairy godparent world. But like most fairy tales-she wants to be where the people are…

Determined to prove she can handle humans like the rest of the fairy godparent population, she sneaks out of her protected magical home to sprinkle fairy dust and give a downtrodden man some luck. But she’s a misguided fairy and everything quickly goes awry.

When her interference leads to a murder, she has no choice but to find his killer and bring them to justice. But solving a crime after losing her magic wand and with very little fairy dust proves challenging.

Is Juniper ready to take on the human world and all the complications that come with catching a murderer?

P.S. Did I mention there’s a talking squirrel?

Miss W’s Review: 

All’s Fair in Love and Murder is the first book in a new cozy paranormal series. This book is so fantastic. I wish I could give it more than 5 stars! Truly!

This is such a fun unique book with magic everywhere. I really enjoy Juniper the main character, she is complex and well fleshed out. But let’s talk about the show stopper, the talking squirrel!
I loved the paranormal setting with all the fairies.

The mystery is so well written with quite a few twists and turns. This book leaves me wanting more and more! I love fairies and I loved they were the focus in this book.

I cannot wait for the next book in this incredible series.

Who wants an exclusive excerpt???

Chapter One
“Fairy, fairy, quite contrary, how does your boredom grow?” I stared at my reflection in the courtyard fountain’s translucent water while plucking plum-colored petals from an orchid’s long stem. I dropped them into the fountain and watched as they floated out of reach to the other side. If I sprinkled some fairy dust in the water, I’d be able to observe into the human world, but I’d grown weary of having only a bird’s eye view.“You are outrageously melodramatic, Juniper.” My best friend and fellow fairy, Iris, sat on the edge of the fountain and crossed her ankles. The ends of her wings dipped into the water. She lifted her face toward the sun, exposing her pale, slender neck. A palace guard stumbled over his feet as he passed by. He caught himself before spilling to the ground and his cheeks turned a rosy shade of red. I understood his clumsiness around her. Iris was the second most beautiful fairy in our land. My mom, Queen Poppy, being the first.I waited for the guard to disappear down the corridor before lowering my voice to a near whisper. “Are we on for tonight?”Iris grumbled a few unintelligible words under her breath and the tips of her wings flickered to highlight her agitation. She reached into her dress pocket and retrieved the parchment. She placed it on the edge of the fountain. “You are the biggest cliché. The sheltered princess has everything she could possibly desire but wants to slum it with the humans instead.”I tossed the orchid stem at her and picked up the missive, glancing around again to make sure we weren’t being watched. “Be judge-y later. What’s the fairy errand?” I unfolded the paper and read the name and address. John Bleaker, 325 Palmer Road, Lilac Cove.“The human male needs a sprinkle of fairy luck to help with an interview tomorrow. This is the closest FE I could snag. He’s a boring man who lives only a few miles away in a boring little town on Florida’s gulf coast. Lives by himself and is in bed most nights by nine p.m. It’s a simple in-and-out job.” She grasped my wrist and gave it a gentle squeeze. “If we get caught, your parents will feed me to the trolls. Or worse, they won’t let me live in the palace anymore.”“Now who’s being dramatic? We won’t get caught,” I assured her, but she only fluttered her eyelashes in an exaggerated eye roll and fluffed the blonde curls that circled her head like a golden halo. I’d been planning my one-night excursion into the human world for more than a year, ever since my twenty-fifth birthday, when I should have been allowed to join my fellow fairies as a fairy godparent. I’d trained alongside all the other fairies and, at the last minute, my parents had pulled the palace rug out from under me. Being a godmother was my birthright, after all.I took in the lush, green courtyard and the pristine gray bricks of the palace walls. Being the only heir to the North American fairy throne happened to be my birthright, too. According to my parents, that took precedence. Not to mention that a couple of fairies had left our world to live in the human world over the past couple of years and that made the entire kingdom nervous. There were only so many of us left.For twenty-six years I’d been trapped inside the protective magical dome of our home in the swamps of Juniper Springs, Florida. That’s right,I’m named after our fairy land. Every other fairy took on the responsibility of godparent on their twenty-fifth year. They then ventured out to wave their wands and sprinkle enchanted dust to help the humans. We called them fairy errands or FEs. With so much evil in the world, humans needed every sprinkle we could give them. That’s what I needed to be doing, too. Instead, I had to spend my days preparing to ascend to the throne.Don’t get me wrong. Living with the humans on a permanent basis didn’t hold any appeal so my parents fears were unfounded. And fairies who chose that path didn’t get the option to come back. Just ask my Aunt Mossandra, who I’ve never actually met and have only seen in a portrait hanging on the palace wall.But day after day of palace duties like arranging nobility banquets and settling fairy disputes and this gal needed a little break in the routine. An adventure. My only two connections to the world where everyone else traveled was the courtyard fountain and the human-written books Iris smuggled back from her assignments.The king’s distinct voice boomed from somewhere inside the main halls.“Uh oh. King Hypnum sounds mad. Again. I’m out.” Iris stood and shook the water off of her wings. She stretched out her arms and allowed a pout to pull down the edges of her glossy pink lips. “I’m losing my shimmer and am in desperate need of a glitter bath.” She pulled me to my feet and placed light kisses on both of my cheeks. “There’s still plenty of time to change your mind about tonight.”I tilted my head to the side and held her violet gaze. “You know I won’t.”Her shoulders sagged. “That’s what worries me most—your inability to let go of something once you’ve set your mind to it.” She fluttered her wings and lifted a few inches from the ground. She glided to the nearest exit but picked up her pace once my father came around the corner, his always present entourage close behind.“When I find out who’s been skimming, they’ll spend their eternity with a wad of thorns stuck up their…” He caught sight of me and stopped short.I waved the tips of my fingers at him. “Don’t stop on my account, Daddy. Where will the thorns be going?”He pursed his lips and met me at the fountain. “Hello, dearest. I didn’t see you there.” He gave the top of my head a quick peck. Between my parents, I mostly resembled my dad, with his dark brown hair and gray eyes with a sharp, pointy nose settled in between. I warmed under his affection, almost feeling guilty for my devious plans later on that evening. Almost. “Who’s skimming what?” I asked.Irritation returned to his expression. “The enchantment dust harvesters are reporting stolen crop.”“We’ll find the culprits, your majesty,” Amaranth, the captain of the royal guard and my on-again, off-again boyfriend, assured the king. Amaranth and I avoided eye contact with each other as at this moment we happened to be in the off-again territory. He’d caught me outside the palace walls with a copy of the works of Edgar Allen Poe. Long story short, we’d argued about what he’d called my “infatuation with the human world.” The nerve. Just because something interested me didn’t mean I’d become infatuated with it.Dad must have noticed the tension between us because he cleared his throat a few times before gesturing toward the main hall. “Your mother awaits me in the throne room, so we’ll be on our way. You have your itinerary for the remainder of the day, I assume. Will you be dining with us this evening?”I turned on my sweetest, daughterly smile but my pulse quickened. “Iris and I have plans tonight. Tomorrow?”“I look forward to it.” He led his private guards and the other palace lackeys out of the courtyard.I blew out a hard breath and waited for my heart to return to its normal pace. My wings twitched, and I flicked them to work out the tension. At least I’d been able to avoid my mom all day. She could take one look at me and know when I was up to something—like a sixth sense.I glanced at the sun and estimated that I had four hours before I set my plan into motion. Just enough time to immerse myself in my newest book. The itinerary my father spoke of, which included picking flower arrangements for the main hall’s dining tables, could wait.I snapped my fingers, making my wand appear in the palm of my other hand, and then withdrew the miniaturized version of Pride & Prejudice from my pocket. I tapped it three times and said, “Big.” The book grew to normal size and I clutched it against my chest.If the person I planned to visit tonight was half as interesting as Elizabeth Bennet or Fitzwilliam Darcy, I was in for quite the treat.

 

About the Author: 

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K.M. Waller aka Kizzie Waller lives in Florida with her husband, two kids, and popcorn-loving hermit crab. When she’s not reading, writing, or chasing her kids around the house, she’s binging television dramas and mysteries.

To find out more about this fantastic author, visit her website by clicking HERE. I hear you can score some free reads if you sign up for her newsletter!

Ready to get All’s Fairy in Love in Murder?

Pre Order your copy HERE!

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Let me know what you think!

Until the next chapter,

Wilfrieda

Lets get cozy!

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When I first became a blogger, my first ever blog post was about cozy mysteries. I talk to so many people that don’t know what a cozy mystery is. I love all genres but cozy mysteries is my go to genre on the daily! So lets chat cozy mysteries with Miss W today!

If you look at my blog you will see that at least fifty percent of my blogs are cozy mystery books or series.

So what is a cozy mystery?

Cozy mysteries , also called “cozies”, are a subgenre of crime fiction where sex and violence are treated humorously. The characters in these books are almost always amateurs and almost always women. The murders take place off screen and the violence is never described in the book. Sexual activity, even between married characters is only slightly implied and sometimes it is often avoided completely. These are clean mysteries that also feature animals and there are many that are culinary themed.

A popular sub-genre of the cozy mystery is paranormal cozy mystery which involves anything magical like ghosts, witches, fairies, wizards, you name it!

I am a huge cat lover, and that’s how I found the cozy mystery genre actually. I was going through a difficult time and I wanted to read a mystery that maybe had a cat in it and so I put “cat” and “mystery” in the amazon search field and WOW I got so many cozy mysteries returned. I read my first one and I was hooked !

Another fantastic thing I love about cozy mysteries is I would say the majority of them are a series so you get to follow your favorite characters as they evolve and grow and find more bodies, ha ha.

Cozy mystery authors are award winning, talented and hard working.

I have a list of my go to Cozy Mystery Authors that I am always dying for the next book to come out. I want to share with you my top picks for cozy mystery authors. This list is far from inclusive and I am sure you will find your own. Need a light fun mystery? Pick up a cozy mystery and become a sleuth!

Miss W’s Picks: 

Tonya Kappes, Carolyn Ridder Aspenson, Morgana Best, Mona Marple, Annabel Chase, Elle Adams, Sam Cheever, Ava Mallory, Jenna St. James, Summer Prescott, Susan Boles, Kizzie Waller, Lynn Cahoon, Ceecee James, VM Burns, Kathi Daley, Stephanie D’ Amore and Ruth Hartzler.

There are SO many great cozy authors out there! Who am I missing out on? Tell me have you ever read a cozy mystery?

Until the next chapter,

Wilfrieda

 

 

Miss W’s Picks for August 27, 2019

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If your an avid reader, Tuesday is our FAVORITE day of the week! Why? That is when the new books come out! Give me all the books! Okay this week I have picked my top THREE books that I have read advanced copies of  and reviewed and I cannot wait to get out in the world.

In addition, I have one pick for what I call “I cannot wait to get my grabby hands on” book!!!!!


First up is Assailants, Asphalt & Alibi’s by Tonya Kappes. This is Book 8 in the Camper & Criminal Cozy Mystery Series.  Have you read this series yet? This is not my first time posting about it and I am sure it won’t be the last!!!!!

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Miss W’s Review:

Assailants, Asphalt & Alibis is Book 8 in the Camper & Criminals Cozy Series. 

I was so happy to be back in Normal, Kentucky and back at the Happy Trails Campground.

People are gathered around listening to Mason talk about the old legend of John Swift’s Silver Mine.

I about died laughing reading as Mary Elizabeth, Queenie, Abby ,Mae and Hank’s granny Agnes decide to go on an adventure looking for the SILVER in Mae’s camper along with Mason. I just could not picture Mary Elizabeth going out in a camper. 

While out exploring, the Laundry Club ladies came back to find that Mary Elizabeth’s pearls had been stolen. Add to that, two bodies, and the ladies are looking to solve another mystery! 

The author crafts a mystery that is multi-layered with complex fun characters that will leave you flipping the pages until the very end. 

This is book 8 and can be read as a stand alone mystery but it is so much more fun if you read them all. You won’t be sorry! 


Next up is Praying for Peace by Caroline Ridder Aspenson. This is Book 3 in the Chantilly Adair Psychic Medium Series. This is a cozy paranormal series that I really love!

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Miss W’s Review:

Praying for Peace is Book 3 in the Chantilly Adair Psychic Medium Series. This is a stand alone book, but definitely read the first two books because they are so good!

Chantilly’s character is evolving and growing and I just love her personality. 
She has stumbled upon another body . She is on the case and talking to the dead. 

Chantilly is trying to solve a murder and a church’s very existence depends upon it because there are certain people that think it’s haunted and should be torn down. 

This mystery is so well written with quite a few twists and turns. The characters are complex and well fleshed out. I look forward to the next book in this series. This author has outdone herself with this series and I cannot wait for the next book in the series. 

Highly recommend! 


My final pick for the week is Scroll by Ruth Hartzler.  Where do I even begin? I wrote a post a little while ago about Ruth Hartzler’s Cozy Amish Mystery Series which I love, but hold on to your book marks for Scroll!

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Miss W’s Review:

Scroll is Book 1 in the Relic Hunters Taskforce Series. I have really enjoyed this authors cozy mystery series, and was excited to try something different from her. This book is so action packed I barely took a break to eat. I just couldn’t put it down. This book is described as Indiana Jones meets Dan Brown and that description is SPOT ON. 

The protagonist is Dr. Abigail Spencer who is an ancient languages scholar. She is an academic to her core and well renowned in her field. Special Agent Jack Riley enters the picture and asks Dr. Spencer to translate an ancient copper scroll. This takes them on a highly covert life threatening mission.

The research in this book is so incredible. It is so apparent to this reader that the author has researched and studied the topic. I was picturing a movie in my mind the action and suspense was so well described. There were secrets that surprised me. The characters were well fleshed out, complex and so interesting. 

This is a clean suspense, genre’s could include romantic suspense , suspense action, christian fiction and religious mysteries. 

I truly wish I could give this book more than 5 stars. 

I am looking forward to the next book in the series, actually I cannot wait for it!!!! Highly recommend this book!!!! 


Now for my grabby hands book! Anyone that follows me on my Facebook Page knows that I really enjoy Falguni Kothari’s books so MUCH! I was scrolling and I saw that she had a new book re-releasing on 8/27/19 and I was like WHAT! Miss W NEEDS THAT!

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Bootie and the Beast is available for preorder for only $.99!!!! Click HERE to preorder it!

I will read ANYTHING this author writes, but if you want to know what it is about LOL:

About the Book:

Diya “Beauty” Mathur, celebrated supermodel and Party Princess of India, is adored by everyone. She works hard, plays hard, and has the biggest shoe fetish on the planet. But when the purchase of a baby bootie with her scrumptious boss on her arm leaves Diya’s reputation in shreds, there is only one place she can escape to—Dallas, Texas. There, she finds sanctuary under the watchful eye of her life-long friend and secret love, Krish “the Beast” Menon. Financial whizz and entrepreneur, Krish Menon is a brooding workaholic with a charisma that still brings Beauty Mathur to her knees. He has no idea, of course. After all, the two have shared an unbreakable bond since childhood—a special friendship that thrives on sparring, teasing and goading. Now, with Diya back in his life and under his roof, Krish’s latent desire for his ex-fiancée explodes. But he can’t give in to it. He will not commit to any woman—especially not to Diya. Everything changes when Diya forces Krish to confront a truth about himself, and he realizes just how much he wants his Beauty. And the only way to get Diya back is to allow her to tame the Beast.

Miss W will be reviewing this book VERY SOON!

I would love to know your thoughts on my picks this week. Drop me a comment!

Until the next chapter,

Wilfrieda

Book Review-The Murder List by Hank Phillippi Ryan

I am so EXCITED to bring you my stop on the Tall Poppy Bloggers book tour for:

The Murder List by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Publication Date: August 20, 2019

Publisher: Forge Books

But first check out this video made by the author herself!!!

 

About the Murder List: 

Law student Rachel North will tell you, without hesitation, what she knows to be true. She’s smart, she’s a hard worker, she does the right thing, she’s successfully married to a faithful and devoted husband, a lion of Boston’s defense bar, and her internship with the Boston DA’s office is her ticket to a successful future.

Problem is–she’s wrong.

And in this cat and mouse game–the battle for justice becomes a battle for survival.

The Murder List is a new standalone suspense novel in the tradition of Lisa Scottoline and B. A. Paris from award-winning author and reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan.

Early reviews are in!

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Miss W’s Review: 

5 Fantastic Stars goes to The Murder List! I had the pleasure of reading Hank’s last novel, Trust Me, and I had high expectations for The Murder List, and I was not disappointed. The author has an extreme talent for crafting characters that are so complex, complicated and flawed. The story is edgy, intense, thought provoking and very twisty. I really enjoy the authors style of writing. The dual timelines really work in this whodunit. This is a tightly plotted, well paced psychological legal thriller that left me flipping the pages until the explosive end. That end blew me away. Honestly, I never saw that end coming. I highly recommend this book !

About the Author:

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To learn more about Hank, visit her Website .

I have a very special Giveaway for you! 

Hank has GENEROUSLY provided a signed hardcover of The Murder List to one of my followers! So exciting! 

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Enter HERE!

Would you like a FREE PREVIEW of The Murder List? Click HERE !!!!!

I would love to know what you think about The Murder List in the comments!

Until the next chapter,

Wilfrieda

 

Book Review-A Man Called Smith by Tanya E. Williams

Miss W Reviews A Man Called Smith by Tanya E. Williams

  • Publisher: Rippling Effects
  • Publication Date: August 13, 2019

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About the Book:

A battle-scarred father. A disillusioned daughter. Can a grieving widower rebuild his splintered family to find peace at last?

South Dakota, 1949. WWII veteran John Smith longs for the life he lost after the tragic death of his wife during childbirth. But in the desperation to provide for his two small children, he is manipulated into an unsuitable marriage by a young woman with a dark neurosis. Tormented by his own grief and the ravages of war, John is blind to his children’s turmoil and pain.

Washington State, 1964. John’s sixteen-year-old daughter Calla dreams of a life beyond her vindictive stepmother. Forced to care for her younger siblings with a list of household demands larger than she is tall, Calla knows it’s only a matter of time until she can escape the abuse and begin anew at college. But her dreams crumble when her heartless stepmother claims the college fund for her own selfish purposes.

As John fears he is too late to stop the war within his home, Calla vows to build a new life worth living.

Can John survive the consequences of war on the home front? Can Calla find the strength to rediscover the meaning of family?

Man Called Smith is the heartwarming and heart wrenching story following the life of John Smith. If you like courageous characters and narratives told over multiple generations, then you’ll love Tanya E. Williams’ emotional tale.

Miss W’s Review

4 Stars from Miss W. 

I went into this book not knowing that there were two books before it. I do wish I had known that but I was still able to read without much confusion. I will say after reading this book , I would like to go back and read the other two books to understand the background and the characters better.

I really enjoyed the characters , they felt very authentic to me. They were well developed, complex and complicated.  My heart was sad for these characters. I didn’t find Mr. Smith to be a likeable character, and I am not sure if he was meant to be.  He annoyed me so many times and frustrated me, but I think that was the brilliance of the story. 

This story will stay with me for a while. I look forward to more stories from this author. 

 

About the Author:

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A writer from a young age, Tanya E Williams loves to help a reader get lost in another time, another place through the magic of books. History continues to inspire her stories and her insightfulness into the human condition deepens her character’s experiences and propels them on their journey. Ms. Williams’ favourite tales, speak to the reader’s heart, making them smile, laugh, cry, and think.

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Until the next chapter,

Wilfrieda

Book Review-The Bakeshop at Pumpkin & Spice

Fall is in the air..okay well it’s still summer but I cannot wait for fall! It is my favorite season. Living in Maine, fall is the best time of the year.

I am so delighted to bring you my review for “The Bakeshop at Pumpkin & Spice” by authors Donna Kauffman, Kate Angell, and Allyson Charles. The location for this novel is in Maine, double happy from Miss W!

Cover Love!!!! I absolutely love this cover, it’s so warm and inviting.

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About the Book:

Every autumn, Moonbright, Maine, is the picture of charm with its piles of crisp leaves, flickering jack-o’-lanterns … and a touch of the sweetest kind of enchantment. 
 
Witches, goblins, the occasional ghost—they’re all sure to be spotted at the annual Halloween parade, where adults and children alike dress in costume to celebrate Moonbright’s favorite holiday. And no place has more seasonal spirit than Bellaluna’s Bakeshop, a family business steeped in traditional recipes, welcoming warmth—and, legend has it, truly spellbinding, heart-melting treats …

Between good-natured Halloween tricks, frothy pumpkin lattes, and some very special baked goods, for three Moonbright residents looking for love—whether they know it or not—the spookiest thing will be how magical romance can suddenly be.

Miss W’s Review:

5 Magical Romantic Stars from Miss W! 

The Bakeshop at Pumpkin and Spice is a great collection of three stories. There is a sparkle of magic in all of them that will leaving you believing in love and romance.

Sweet Magic by Donna Kauffman is the opening book and dare I say my favorite. The setting is Bellaluna’s Bakeshop. A special type of love is in the air and in the baked treats. I loved the well developed characters and story that left me believing in a magical happy ending.

In Love Spells Disaster by Allyson Charles, Cassandra is trying to get a date with her boss. There are some truly laugh out loud moments here. This story focuses heavily on the bakery treats which I loved. There is a lot of emotion in this story and I really enjoyed that!

Sweet on You by Kate Angell, was a fantastic story. Lara, the main character is in the bakeshop with her ex boyfriend after being dumped in the company of a lot of people. In enters the mayor and maybe things might be turning around? I loved how this story had several characters from the first two stories. This story wrapped up the trilogy very nicely .

I absolutely LOVED how these stories tied together while celebrating the town of Moonbright, Maine and all of the Halloween and fall festivities.

I highly recommend this wonderful book !

The Bakeshop at Pumpkin and Spice

Release Date : 8/27/19

Publisher: Kensington Books

Preorder your copy now HERE!

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I would love to know what you think , drop me a comment below.

Until the next chapter,

Wilfrieda

Book Review-The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

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I am thrilled to be partnering with St. Martin’s Press to bring you my stop on the blog tour for The Escape Room by Megan Goldin. This book blew me away and I am excited to share with you an author interview and an exclusive excerpt of the book and a GIVEAWAY!

About the Book:

In Megan Goldin’s unforgettable debut, The Escape Room, four young Wall Street rising stars discover the price of ambition when an escape room challenge turns into a lethal game of revenge.

Welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive.

In the lucrative world of finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie, and Sam are at the top of their game. They’ve mastered the art of the deal and celebrate their success in style—but a life of extreme luxury always comes at a cost.

Invited to participate in an escape room as a team-building exercise, the ferociously competitive co-workers crowd into the elevator of a high rise building, eager to prove themselves. But when the lights go off and the doors stay shut, it quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary competition: they’re caught in a dangerous game of survival.

Trapped in the dark, the colleagues must put aside their bitter rivalries and work together to solve cryptic clues to break free. But as the game begins to reveal the team’s darkest secrets, they realize there’s a price to be paid for the terrible deeds they committed in their ruthless climb up the corporate ladder. As tempers fray, and the clues turn deadly, they must solve one final chilling puzzle: which one of them will kill in order to survive?

Miss W’s Review: 

5 STARS from Miss W !!!!!! 

The Escape Room is one of the BEST thrillers I have read in 2019, and I read a lot of thrillers. This book was EXTREMELY hard to put down and I read it in one day. This is a fast paced, well written and intriguing story .

The narration alternates between two timelines, two settings and several points of view. HOLD ON, its going to be a bumpy ride. The backdrop for the story revolves around the extreme cutthroat world of investment banking and finance.

The author’s descriptive writing is so excellent I felt like I was trying to Escape the Elevator myself. I could not turn the pages fast enough.

There are so many secrets and lies , I was totally engrossed in every minute of this book.

I highly recommend this incredibly well written psychological thriller!

I have an exclusive excerpt from THE ESCAPE ROOM:

PROLOGUE


It was Miguel who called 911 at 4:07 a.m. on an icy Sunday morning. The young security guard spoke in an unsteady voice, fear disguised by cocky nonchalance.

Miguel had been an aspiring bodybuilder until he injured his back lifting boxes in a warehouse job and had to take night- shift work guarding a luxury office tower in the final stages of construction. He had a muscular physique, dark hair, and a cleft in his chin.

He was conducting a cursory inspection when a scream rang out. At first, he didn’t hear a thing. Hip- hop music blasted through the oversize headphones he wore as he swept his flashlight across the dark recesses of the lobby.

The beam flicked across the classical faces of reproduction Greek busts cast in metal and inset into niches in the walls. They evoked an eerie otherworldliness, which gave the place the aura of a mausoleum.

Miguel paused his music to search for a fresh play list of songs. It was then that he heard the tail end of a muffled scream.

The sound was so unexpected that he instinctively froze. It wasn’t the first time he’d heard strange noises at night, whether it was the screech of tomcats brawling or the whine of construction cranes buffeted by wind. Silence followed. Miguel chided himself for his childish reaction.

He pressed PLAY to listen to a new song and was immediately assaulted by the explosive beat of a tune doing the rounds at the dance clubs where he hung out with friends.

Still, something in the screech he’d heard a moment before rattled him enough for him to be extra diligent.

He bent down to check the lock of the revolving lobby door. It was bolted shut. He swept the flashlight across a pair of still escalators and then, above his head, across the glass- walled mezzanine floor that overlooked the lobby.

He checked behind the long reception desk of blond oak slats and noticed that a black chair was at an odd angle, as if someone had left in a hurry.

A stepladder was propped against a wall where the lobby café was being set up alongside a water fountain that was not yet functional. Plastic- wrapped café tables and chairs were piled up alongside it.

In the far corner, he shone his flashlight in the direction of an elaborate model of the building complex shown to prospective tenants by Realtors rushing to achieve occupancy targets in time for the building’s opening the following month.

 

The model detailed an ambitious master plan to turn an abandoned ware house district that had been a magnet for homeless people and addicts into a high- end financial and shopping precinct. The first tower was almost finished. A second was halfway through construction.

When Miguel turned around to face the elevator lobby, he was struck by something so incongruent that he pushed his headphones off his head and onto his shoulders.

The backlit green fluorescent light of an elevator switch flickered in the dark. It suggested that an elevator was in use. That was impossible, because he was the only person there.

In the sobriety of the silent echo that followed, he convinced himself once again that his vague sense of unease was the hallucination of a fatigued mind. There was nobody in the elevator for the simple reason that the only people on- site on weekends were the security
guards. Two per shift. Except to night, Miguel was the only one on duty.

When Stu had been a no- show for his shift, Miguel figured he’d manage alone. The construction site was fenced off with towering barbed- wire fences and a heavy- duty electric gate. Nobody came in or out until the shift ended.

In the four months he’d worked there, the only intruders he’d encountered were feral cats and rats scampering across construction equipment in the middle of the night. Nothing ever happened during the night shift.

That was what he liked about the job. He was able to study and sleep and still get paid. Sometimes he’d sleep for a couple of hours on the soft leather lobby sofa, which he found preferable to the lumpy stretcher in the portable office where the guards took turns resting
between patrols. The CCTV cameras hadn’t been hooked up yet, so he could still get away with it.

From the main access road, the complex looked completed. It had a driveway entry lined with young maples in planter boxes. The lobby had been fitted out and furnished to impress prospective tenants who came to view office space.

The second tower, facing the East River, looked unmistakably like a construction site. It was wrapped with scaffolding. Shipping containers storing building materials were arranged like colorful Lego blocks in a muddy field alongside idle bulldozers and a crane.

Miguel removed keys from his belt to open the side entrance to let himself out, when he heard a loud crack. It whipped through the lobby with an intensity that made his ears ring.

Two more cracks followed. They were unmistakably the sound of gunshots. He hit the ground and called 911. He was terrified the shooter was making his way to the lobby but cocky enough to cover his fear with bravado when he spoke.

“Something bad’s going down here.” He gave the 911 dispatcher the address. “You should get cops over here.”

Miguel figured from the skepticism in the dispatcher’s cool voice that his call was being given priority right below the doughnut run.

His heart thumped like a drum as he waited for the cops to arrive. You chicken shit, he berated himself as he took cover behind a sofa. He exhaled into his shirt to muffle the sound of his rapid breathing. He was afraid he would give away his position to the shooter.

A wave of relief washed over him when the lobby finally lit up with a hazy blue strobe as a police car pulled in at the taxi stand. Miguel went outside to meet the cops.

“What’s going on?” An older cop with a thick gut hanging over his belted pants emerged from the front passenger seat.

“Beats me,” said Miguel. “I heard a scream. Inside the building. Then I heard what I’m pretty sure were gunshots.”

“How many shots?” A younger cop came around the car to meet him, snapping a wad of gum in his mouth.

“Two, maybe three shots. Then nothing.”

“Is anyone else around?” The older cop’s expression was hidden under a thick gray mustache.

“They clear out the site on Friday night. No construction workers. No nobody. Except me. I’m the night guard.”

“Then what makes you think there’s a shooter?”

“I heard a loud crack. Sure sounded like a gunshot. Then two more. Came from somewhere up in the tower.”

“Maybe construction equipment fell? That possible?”

A faint thread of red suffused Miguel’s face as he contemplated the possibility that he’d panicked over nothing. They moved into the lobby to check things out, but he was feeling less confident than when he’d called 911. “I’m pretty sure they—” He stopped speaking as they
all heard the unmistakable sound of a descending elevator.

“I thought you said there was nobody here,” said the older cop.

“There isn’t.”

“Could have fooled me,” said the second cop. They moved through to the elevator lobby. A light above the elevator doors was flashing to indicate an elevator’s imminent arrival. “Someone’s here.”

“The building opens for business in a few weeks,” said Miguel. “Nobody’s supposed to be here.”

The cops drew their guns from their holsters and stood in front of the elevator doors in a shooting stance— slightly crouched, legs apart. One of the cops gestured furiously for Miguel to move out of the way. Miguel stepped back. He hovered near an abstract metal sculpture
set into the wall at the dead end of the elevator lobby.

A bell chimed. The elevator heaved as it arrived.

The doors parted with a slow hiss. Miguel swallowed hard as the gap widened. He strained to see what was going on. The cops were blocking his line of sight and he was at too sharp an angle to see much.

“Police,” shouted both cops in unison. “Put your weapon down.”

Miguel instinctively pressed himself against the wall. He flinched as the first round of bullets was fired. There were too many shots to count. His ears rang so badly, it took him a moment to realize the police had stopped firing. They’d lowered their weapons and were shouting something. He didn’t know what. He couldn’t hear a thing over the ringing in his ears.

Miguel saw the younger cop talk into his radio. The cop’s mouth opened and closed. Miguel couldn’t make out the words. Gradually, his hearing returned and he heard the tail end of a stream of NYPD jargon.

He couldn’t understand most of what was said. Something about “nonresponsive” and needing “a bus,” which he assumed meant an ambulance. Miguel watched a trickle of blood run along the marble floor until it formed a puddle. He edged closer. He glimpsed blood splatter on the wall of the elevator. He took one more step. Finally, he could see inside the elevator. He immediately regretted it. He’d never seen so much blood in all his life.


ONE

THE ELEVATOR

Thirty-four Hours Earlier

Vincent was the last to arrive. His dark overcoat flared behind him as he strode through the lobby. The other three were standing in an informal huddle by a leather sofa. They didn’t notice Vincent come in. They were on their phones, with their backs to the entrance, preoccupied with emails and silent contemplation as to why they had been called to a last-minute meeting on a Friday night at an out-of-the-way office building in the South Bronx.

Vincent observed them from a distance as he walked across the lobby toward them. Over the years, the four of them had spent more time together than apart. Vincent knew them almost better than he knew himself. He knew their secrets, and their lies. There were times when he could honestly say that he’d never despised anyone more than these three people. He suspected they all shared the sentiment. Yet they needed one another. Their fates had been joined together long before.

Sylvie’s face bore its usual expression, a few degrees short of a resting-bitch face. With her cover-girl looks and dark blond hair pinned in a topknot that drew attention to her green eyes, Sylvie looked like the catwalk model that she’d been when she was a teenager. She was irritated by being called to an unscheduled meeting when she had to pack for Paris, but she didn’t let it show on her face. She studiously kept a faint upward tilt to her lips. It was a practice drummed into her over many years working in a male-dominated profession. Men could snarl or look angry with impunity; women had to smile serenely regardless of the provocation.

To her right stood Sam, wearing a charcoal suit with a white shirt and a black tie. His stubble matched the dark blond of his closely cropped hair. His jaw twitched from the knot of anxiety in his guts. He’d felt stabbing pains ever since his wife, Kim, telephoned during the drive over. She was furious that he wouldn’t make the flight to Antigua because he was attending an unscheduled meeting. She hated the fact that his work always took precedence over her and the girls.

Jules stood slightly away from the other two, sucking on a peppermint candy to disguise the alcohol on his breath. He wore a suave burgundy-and-navy silk tie that made his Gypsy eyes burn with intensity. His dark hair was brushed back in the style of a fifties movie star. He usually drank vodka because it was odorless and didn’t make his face flush, but now his cheeks were ruddy in a tell-tale sign he’d been drinking. The minibar in his chauffeured car was out of vodka, so he’d had to make do with whiskey on the ride over. The empty bottles were still rattling around in his briefcase.

As they waited for their meeting, they all had the same paranoid notion that they’d been brought to a satellite office to be retrenched. Their careers would be assassinated silently, away from the watercooler gossips at the head office.

It was how they would have done it if the positions were reversed. A Friday-evening meeting at an out-of-the-way office, concluding with a retrenchment package and a nondisclosure agreement signed and sealed.

The firm was considering unprecedented layoffs, and they were acutely aware they had red targets on their backs. They said none of this to one another. They kept their eyes downcast as they worked on their phones, unaware they were the only ones in the lobby. Just as they hadn’t paid much mind to the cranes and construction fencing on their way in.

Sam checked his bank account while he waited. The negative balance made him queasy. He’d wiped out all the cash in his account that morning paying Kim’s credit-card bill. If he lost his job, then the floodgates would open. He could survive two to three months without work; after that, he’d have to sell assets. That alone would destroy him financially. He was leveraged to the hilt. Some of his assets were worth less now than when he’d bought them.

The last time Sam had received a credit-card bill that huge, he’d immediately lowered Kim’s credit limit. Kim found out when her payment for an eleven-thousand-dollar Hermès handbag was rejected at the Madison Avenue store in front of her friends. She was mortified. They had a huge blowup that night, and he reluctantly restored her credit limit. Now he paid all her bills without a word of complaint. Even if it meant taking out bridging loans. Even if it meant constantly feeling on the verge of a heart attack.

Sam knew that Kim spent money as much for attention as out of boredom. She complained that Sam was never around to help with the twins. He’d had to point out that they’d hired a maid to give her all the help she needed. Three maids, to be truthful. Three within the space of two years. The third had walked out in tears a week ago due to Kim’s erratic temper.

Kim was never satisfied with anything. If Sam gave Kim a platinum necklace, she wanted it in gold. If he took her to London, she wanted Paris. If he bought her a BMW, she wanted a Porsche.

Satisfying her unceasing demands was doable when his job prospects were good, but the firm had lost a major account, and since Christmas word had spread of an impending restructure. Everyone knew that was a euphemism for layoffs.

Sam never doubted that Kim would leave him if he couldn’t support her lifestyle anymore. She’d demand full custody of the girls and she’d raise them to hate him. Kim forgave most of his transgressions, she could even live with his infidelities, but she never forgave failure.

It was Sam who first heard the footsteps sounding through the vast lobby. The long, hurried strides of a man running late to a meeting. Sam swung around as their boss arrived. Vincent’s square jaw was tight and his broad shoulders were tense as he joined them without saying a word.

“You almost didn’t make it,” observed Sylvie.

“The traffic was terrible.” Vincent ran his hand over his overcoat pocket in the habit of a man who had recently stopped smoking. Instead of cigarettes, he took out a pair of glasses, which he put on to examine the message on his phone. “Are you all aware of the purpose of this meeting?”

“The email invite from HR wasn’t exactly brimming with information,” said Sam. “You said in your text message it was compulsory for us to attend. That it took precedence over everything else. Well, we’re all here. So maybe now you can enlighten us, Vincent. What’s so important that I had to delay my trip to Antigua?”

“Who here has done an escape-room challenge before?” Vincent asked.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Sam said. “I abandoned my wife on her dream vacation to participate in a team-building activity! This is bullshit, Vincent. It’s goddamn bullshit and you know it.”

“It will take an hour,” said Vincent calmly. “Next Friday is bonus day. I’m sure that we all agree that it’s smart to be on our best behavior before bonus day, especially in the current climate.”

“Let’s do it,” said Sylvie, sighing. Her flight to Paris was at midnight. She still had plenty of time to get home and pack. Vincent led them to a brightly lit elevator with its doors wide open. Inside were mirrored walls and an alabaster marble floor.

They stepped inside. The steel doors shut behind them before they could turn around.

TWO

SARA HALL

It’s remarkable what a Windsor knot divulges about a man. Richie’s Italian silk tie was a brash shade of red, with thin gold stripes running on a diagonal. It was the tie of a man whose arrogance was dwarfed only by his ego.

In truth, I didn’t need to look at his tie to know that Richie was a douche. The dead giveaway was that when I entered the interview room, a nervous smile on my pink matte painted lips, he didn’t bother to greet me. Or even to stand up from the leather chair where he sat and surveyed me as I entered the room.

While I categorized Richie as a first-class creep the moment I set eyes on him, I was acutely aware that I needed to impress him if I was to have any chance of getting the job. I introduced myself and reached out confidently to shake his hand. He shook my hand with a grip that was tighter than necessary—a reminder, perhaps, that he could crush my career aspirations as easily as he could break the bones in my delicate hand.

He introduced himself as Richard Worthington. The third, if you don’t mind. He had a two-hundred-dollar haircut, a custom shave, and hands that were softer than butter. He was in his late twenties, around five years older than I was.

When we were done shaking hands, Richie leaned back in his chair and surveyed me with a touch of amusement as I settled into my seat across the table.

“You can take off your jacket and relax,” he said. “We try to keep interviews informal here.”

I took off my jacket and left it folded over the back of the chair next to me as I wondered what he saw when he looked at me. Did he see a struggling business-school graduate with a newly minted MBA that didn’t appear to be worth the paper it was written on? Or was he perceptive enough to see an intelligent, accomplished young woman? Glossy brown hair cut to a professional shoulder length, serious gray eyes, wearing a brand-new designer suit she couldn’t afford and borrowed Louboutin shoes that were a half size too small and pinched her toes.

I took a deep breath and tried to project the poise and confidence necessary to show him that I was the best candidate. Finally I had a chance at getting my dream job on Wall Street. I would do everything that I could humanly do not to screw it up.

Richie wore a dark gray suit with a fitted white shirt. His cuff links were Hermès, arranged so that the H insignia was clearly visible. On his wrist was an Audemars Piguet watch, a thirty-grand piece that told everyone who cared that he was the very model of a Wall Street player.

Richie left me on the edge of my seat, waiting awkwardly, as he read over my résumé. Paper rustled as he scanned the neatly formatted sheets that summed up my life in two pages. I had the impression that he was looking at it for the first time. When he was done, he examined me over the top of the pages with the lascivious expression of a john sizing up girls at a Nevada whorehouse.

THREE

THE ELEVATOR

All the lights in the elevator turned off at once. It happened the moment the doors shut. One moment they were in a brightly lit elevator; the next they were in pitch- darkness. They were as good as blind, save for the weak fluorescent glow from a small display above the steel doors showing the floor number.

Jules stumbled toward the elevator control panel. He pressed the button to open the doors. The darkness was suffocating him. He had to get out. The elevator shot up before anything happened. The jolt was unexpected. Jules lost his footing and fell against the wall with a thud.

As the elevator accelerated upward, they assumed the lights would be restored at any moment. In every other respect, the elevator was working fine. It was ascending smoothly. The green display above the door was showing the changing floor numbers. There was no reason why it should be dark.

Without realizing it, they shifted toward one another, drawn together by a primordial fear of the dark and the unknown dangers that lurked within it. Jules fumbled for his phone and turned on the flashlight setting so that he could see what he was doing. He frantically pressed the buttons for upcoming floors. They didn’t appear to respond to the insistent pressure of his thumb.
“It’s probably an express,” explained Sylvie. “I saw a sign in the lobby that said something about the elevator running express until the seventieth floor.”

Jules pressed the button for the seventieth floor. And the seventy-first. And, for good measure, the seventy- second, as well. The buttons immediately lit up one after the other, each button backlit in green. Jules silently counted the remaining floors. All he could think about
was getting out.

He loosened his tie to alleviate the tightness in his chest. He’d never considered himself claustrophobic, but he’d had an issue with confined spaces ever since he was a child. He once left summer camp early, in hysterics after being accidentally locked in a toilet stall for a few minutes. His mother told the camp leader that his overreaction was due to a childhood trauma that left him somewhat claustrophobic and nervous in the dark.

“I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ll be taking the stairs on the way down,” Sam joked with fake nonchalance. “I’m not getting back into this hunk of junk again.”

“Maybe the firm is locking us up in here until we resign voluntarily,” Jules said drily. “It’ll save Stanhope a shitload of money.” He swallowed hard. The elevator was approaching the fortieth floor. They were halfway there. He had to hold it together for another thirty floors.

“It would be a mistake if the firm retrenched any of us,” said Vincent. “I told the executive team as much when we met earlier this week.” What Vincent didn’t mention was that several of the
leadership team had avoided looking at him during that meeting. That was when he knew the writing was on the wall.
“Why get rid of us? We’ve always made the firm plenty of money,” Sylvie said.

“Until lately,” Vincent said pointedly.

They’d failed to secure two major deals in a row. Those deals had both gone to a key competitor, who had inexplicably undercut them each time. It made them wonder whether their competitor had inside knowledge of their bids. The team’s revenue was lower than it had
been in years. For the first time ever, their jobs were vulnerable.

“Are we getting fired, Vincent?” Jules asked as the elevator continued rising. “Is that why we were summoned here? They must have told you something.”

“I got the same generic meeting invite that you all received,” Vincent responded. “It was only as I arrived that I received a text with instructions to bring you all up to the eightieth floor for an escape room challenge. The results of which, it said, would be used for ‘internal consultations about future staff planning.’ Make of that what you will.”

“Sounds like they want to see how we perform tonight before deciding what to do with us,” said Sylvie. “I’ve never done an escape room. What exactly are we supposed to do?”

“It’s straightforward,” said Sam. “You’re locked in a room and have to solve a series of clues to get out.”

“And on that basis they’re going to decide which of us to fire?” Jules asked Vincent in the dark.

“I doubt it,” Vincent said. “The firm doesn’t work that way.”

“Vincent’s right,” said Jules cynically. “Let’s take a more optimistic tack. Maybe they’re using our escape room performance to determine who to promote to Eric Miles’s job.” Eric had resigned before Christmas under something of a cloud. They’d heard rumors the firm was going to promote someone to the job internally. Such promotions were highly sought after. At a time when their jobs were in jeopardy, it offered one of them a potential career lifeline.

The green display above the door flashed the number 67. They had three more floors to go until the elevator finished the express part of the ride. The elevator slowed down and came to a stop on the seventieth floor. Jules exhaled in relief. He stepped forward in anticipation of the doors opening. They remained shut.

He pressed the open button on the control panel. Nothing happened. He pressed it again, holding it down for several seconds. The doors still didn’t budge. He pressed the button three times in quick succession. Nothing. Finally, in desperation, he pressed the red emergency button. There was no response.

“It’s not working,” he said.

They looked up at the panel above the door that displayed the floor numbers. It had an E on its screen. Error.

A small television monitor above the control panel turned on. At first, they didn’t think much of it. They expected to see cable news or a stock market update, the type of thing usually broadcast on elevator monitors.

It took a moment for their eyes to adjust to the brightness of the white television screen. After another moment, a message appeared in large black letters.

 

WELCOME TO THE ESCAPE
ROOM. YOUR GOAL IS SIMPLE.
GET OUT ALIVE.
From The Escape Room. Copyright © 2019 by Megan Goldin and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Press.

About the Author:

Megan Goldin Hi Res

MEGAN GOLDIN worked as a correspondent for Reuters and other media outlets where she covered war, peace, international terrorism and financial meltdowns in the Middle East and Asia. She is now based in Melbourne, Australia where she raises three sons and is a foster mum to Labrador puppies learning to be guide dogs. THE ESCAPE ROOM is her debut novel.

Check out this great interview with Megan Goldin:

1. How did you become inspired to write The Escape Room?

There were a number of inspirations that led to me writing The Escape Room. First of all, I’d had my third baby and, for the first time since my working life began, I’d taken a year or so out of the workforce to be with him. When I started looking to go back to work, I interviewed for a job for which I should have been a serious candidate as my experience closely matched the job description and I’d done something similar before for a similar company. Instead, the interviewer ate snack food throughout the interview with, let’s just say, very bad table manners. He crunched particularly loudly every time that I spoke. I drew on this experience when I wrote about the job interview from hell that Sara Hall went through in The Escape Room. It made me feel powerless. I told friends about what happened and they shared with me their own horror stories in the workplace. It made me want to explore sexism in the workplace in my next novel. It also inspired the idea of a revenge theme. I liked the idea of someone who is beaten down by the system making a comeback.

Around that time I was also stuck in an elevator. I’d gone shopping with my kids. I had a cart full of food. The elevator stopped and the lights went off. It took a couple of minutes until we were able to get out but it was a dark, cold, and frightening couple of minutes in that elevator. I’d been thinking about a setting for this thriller revenge story that I had in mind. It struck me that the elevator was a perfect setting. I was fired up by the challenge of setting a novel in an elevator. It also served my purpose well. I wanted to put my characters in a pressure-cooker atmosphere where animosity would build as they learned each other’s secrets. An elevator was perfect.

2. What was your research process like when writing about the financial industry in the U.S?

When I research my books, I apply journalism skills acquired over the years. That means immersing myself in whatever information I can get ahold of. I read books, newspaper articles, elevator manuals, and even journal studies on human psychology. I also followed forums for investment bankers and others working in the financial industry and some of their social media feeds. I spoke with people who worked in the world of finance and also drew on material that I’d collected in the past. For example, there were big name investment banks in my previous office building and I’d often overhear bankers and brokers chatting in the elevator about their personal lives and work, or in my condominium building where many of them lived. I tend to write and research at the same time as I don’t plan my novels other than the story arc. As the story evolves on the pages while I write, I’ll stop writing for a few hours and branch out to research whatever might be relevant for the novel. In the case of The Escape Room, that included issues such as ‘game theory’ and things as mundane as technical manuals about elevator safety mechanisms and issues related to guns and ballistics. The research is one of the fun parts of writing a novel. I get to learn new things and it breaks up the intensity of writing. 

3. Are there any authors that you most look up to?

There is an endless list of authors, from crime and thriller writers, to literary fiction, classics, and non-fiction. Now that I am writing myself, I tend to analyze other books as I read. I look at plot, structure, character, voice, and various other writing techniques. Even as a journalist, I always saw writing as a constant process of learning and refining. I think it’s a lifelong endeavor. Among my favorites is John le Carre. I consider his novels master classes in suspense writing and I often reread them. Yuval Noah Harari’s series, starting with Sapiens, was another inspiration behind The Escape Room, as I’d been reading it and watching Yarari’s lectures on Youtube. It made me look at office culture through a prism of evolutionary biology. Offices are a modern-day human habit and the backbiting office politics is really a case of survival of the fittest.

4. If The Escape Room was to become a movie, which actor or actress would you like to play some of the roles?

Well, a close friend just suggested Bradley Cooper for Vincent! Or perhaps Colin Farrell, Ryan Gosling or Jesse Eisenberg for Sam and Jules. As for actresses, maybe Jennifer Lawrence for Sylvie, or Anne Hathaway or Margot Robbie for Sara Hall. Lucy could be Emily Blunt. 

5. Do you have any upcoming projects you’re working on?

I am working on my next book. It’s also a thriller and it addresses contemporary themes but it’s quite different from The Escape Room. I’m a little hesitant about how much to divulge at this point until it’s done.

6. Anything else you’d like to add? 

I’m extremely touched by all the support and feedback that I’ve been getting from so many bloggers and reviewers who are passionate about The Escape Room and who love the characters. Thank you all so much.

Escape Room cover

Get your copy of the Escape Room HERE!

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press I have a beautiful hardcover copy of THE ESCAPE ROOM to giveaway to one of my followers. To be entered to win, please comment on this blog what your thoughts are about THE ESCAPE ROOM. US Residents Only. I will choose a winner on 8/15/2019! Good Luck.

Until the Next Chapter,

Wilfrieda