Two Authors… A New Series…
One City… Countless Stories.
USA Today Bestselling Author
Detective Carter Fiske has a homeless man’s death to investigate. Opioids are in the man’s system, but it is the bag of prescription drugs in his pocket that has Carter’s interest. Especially considering this is the third death of a homeless person this month with a bag of drugs in their possession.
Tara McBride Wilson, single mom and head social worker at Ever Hope Homeless Shelter, has little time to deal with the handsome detective who keeps popping up…at work and on her mind.
When Carter asks Tara out to gain more information on the shelter and the connected clinic, he does not expect to start falling for the beautiful, caring woman. Finding out she is the sister of Sean and Kyle McBride, two of his detective friends, does not make matters easier.
When she discovers his subterfuge, she does not want anything more to do with him, having trust issues after her ex-husband left her high and dry. Carter has his work cut out for him to prove that he is the man for her and her daughter.
But danger lurks close by and as they work together to find out where the drugs are coming from, can Carter keep Tara safe?
Hope City…a series created by two USA Today Bestselling Authors Maryann Jordan and Kris Michaels
I have to confess, I’ve read the ‘Hope City Duet’ but haven’t reviewed it yet. Now it’s at the top of my list because many of the people in this book are introduced in that duet.
Carter is investigating homeless deaths that have a connection to the drugs found on the bodies. It’s not easy to find clues or evidence. Two of his friends on the force, Sean and Kyle, start to tell him to contact their sister who might be able to help, but they are always interrupted.
Tara runs the Ever Hope Homeless Shelter, they have programs to help the residents get back on their feet. They are not a single night type of shelter. She meets Carter as he’s looking for clues as to the identity of the latest homeless man. When she recognizes the man in the photo Carter asks if she could identify the body. Although shaken she agrees. This wasn’t going to be the last she sees of Carter in the course of this investigation.
Carter visits again the next day, requesting more information.
This is a favorite scene.
Carter was not sure what he’d expected when he walked into Ever Hope Homeless Shelter yesterday but had hoped that Sean and Kyle’s sister worked there and would be able to help him. The idea of a detective’s sibling being more efficient with the police had settled in his mind. But since there was no McBride at the center, he had to admit the intrepid Tara Wilson handled herself with professional efficiency. Her composure at the morgue impressed him. And now, if it wasn’t for the slight shaking of her hands, he would never know that she was stressed.
Earlier, as he walked behind her down the long, tiled hall, his gaze was drawn to her ass even though there was nothing overtly sexual about her clothes. Plain, pale-yellow blouse paired with black slacks. Her feet tapped along the tiles, encased in low heeled pumps. Even her office was professionally efficient, both neat and cluttered at the same time. Files and papers were stacked on her desk, but as she sat in her chair and directed her gaze toward him, he had the feeling she could lay her hand on any report needed.
After she viewed the photograph of Carl, he pulled out a second picture and slid it toward her. “This is another young man found dead. Jonathan Rothberg. As far as we can tell, he also had no address, leading us to believe he may be homeless. Unlike Carl, he wasn’t a veteran. I’m hoping to see if there’s anything you can tell me about him.”
She took the old photograph from his hand and gave it the same careful scrutiny she had with Carl’s picture. Shaking her head, she said, “No. I don’t recognize his face.” Without another word, she opened her laptop and quickly began to type. She continued to shake her head as she looked up from her computer to hold his gaze. “Carl’s not in our system.”
“There are multiple homeless shelters in Hope City. Those that are sanctioned and funded by the city, such as ours, and those run by private groups and churches. We do have a shared database for listing anyone who comes to stay with us, although it is not inclusive.”
“So, if he was homeless, he would be in your database?” he asked.
“The city shelters are very good about keeping track of the information. Some of the others are less… um… accurate.”
“Why would a shelter not be accurate?”
“Some are emergency shelters or cold-weather shelters run by churches. While we appreciate all efforts to aid the homeless, some do not keep records the way we’re required to. They may also hand out sleeping bags and food while not offering a bed.”
“Are you able to service most of the homeless through the city’s shelters?”
She tilted her head to the side, her expressive blue eyes peering straight into his. It was hard not to notice her beauty, but at the moment, her pink-tinted lips were stretched into a thin line.
“Detective Fiske, on any given day there are almost three-thousand persons considered to be homeless in Hope City. Seventy-two percent of those are men, and at least ten percent are veterans. Over twenty-five percent are considered to be chronically homeless, which means it’s not temporary. In our city, there are only about twelve hundred emergency beds. You can do the math. That means many, many homeless persons are either turned away because there’s not enough room or they never make it through our doors.”
Tara’s attention refocused on her computer. When she looked up and held his gaze, he was struck with the clearness of her blue eyes and beautiful face in contrast to the hard set of her jaw. She tilted her head and he realized he was staring. “Did you find anything?” His voice was rough, covering his perusal.
“Yes. Last year, he spent two nights at the emergency shelter over on 43rd Street. From what I can see, those were the only two nights that he spent at a shelter.”
“What about clinics for treating or offering prescription drugs for the homeless?” He watched her blink at the change in direction of his inquiry.
“Our center is next to a free clinic if that’s what you’re asking. It’s not the only clinic in the area that provides services to the poor and uninsured.”
“So, Carl Burnley or Jonathan Rothberg could have been seen at the clinic without ever having come to stay at this homeless shelter?”
She leaned back in her seat as she nodded. “What are you not telling me, Detective Fiske?”
He held her steady gaze, his admiration increasing. Smart, intuitive. And beautiful. He considered how much to reveal, then decided she might be more accommodating if she knew what he was up against. “All three men had opioids in their systems and pills in their possession.”
It took just a few seconds for her eyes to widen and she gasped. “Rocky? Rocky also?”
“Yes, Ms. Wilson. This is why we’re investigating. All three were carrying prescription pills in baggies— way more than they would be taking.”
She looked down at her hands clasped together on her desk as she pursed her lips together again. “I see. I’m not sure what you’re looking for, but over forty percent of those who seek shelters have a substance use disorder.” Lifting her head, she speared him with her glacial stare and added, “The streets are full of ways for them to get their next fix. I’m not sure looking at the clinics that offer needed services is the right place for you to focus your energies.”
“What can you tell me about Rocky? Was he being seen for a substance use disorder? Or given opioids for pain? Other drugs?”
A long silence ensued, and he wondered if she was going to answer his question. While she stared at her hands on her desk again, it gave him full access to study her discreetly. She didn’t wear a wedding ring, and he wondered if she, like him, was married to the job. A demanding job that probably at times seemed as thankless as mine. He noted the dark circles underneath her eyes, possibly indicating little sleep the previous night. A stab of guilt moved through him that he needed her at the morgue. I’ve no doubt that was sure as fuck not what she expected to have to do when she came to work yesterday. She lifted a hand and rubbed her forehead as though in pain. “Ms. Wilson, are you okay?” He blinked in surprise when her gaze hit him.
“I’m sorry, Detective Fiske. My mind wandered. All I could think about was Rocky finding a place out of the elements to stay warm but having the bad luck of being near a fire.” She opened her mouth as though to say more, then gave her head a little shake. Clearing her throat, she said, “You asked about drugs. I can’t tell you what he had taken. The times he came in to talk to me he was clear-eyed and coherent. I know he suffered from PTSD, and I referred him to the clinic. I spoke to Dr. Tiller about Rocky, and the last conversation we had about him I was told he was prescribing an antidepressant.”
“For those who can’t afford medication, how does the clinic handle that?”
“I know the basics of how the clinic functions, Detective, but you would need to speak to them about the particulars. The free clinic is a completely separate entity from the homeless shelter. Their facility is adjacent to us, but we are not connected to them financially or procedurally. We make recommendations that some of our homeless visit the clinic, but we have no control over whether they do or what happens once they are there. Their medical records are private unless they sign for us to have access, which we only need if they are receiving counseling from us.”
Maryann Jordan. Carter – ARC copy – not for sale or distribution: Hope City (Kindle Locations 630-688).
Visits to the clinic next door to the shelter don’t yield much more than other leads to follow.
I really loved the way Carter gets a sort of lunch date with Tara using the investigation as an excuse. That begins an interesting relationship that will have a few ups and downs.
This book grabbed hold of me on the first page and kept me enthralled to the very end. There is plenty of suspense, intrigue and twists with a simmer to sizzle romance that rounds everything out.
I can’t wait to read the next book in this dual author series.
5 Contented Purrs for Maryann!
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I have always been an avid reader. My early memories were of my mother taking me to the library and allowing me to check out as many books as I could carry. My favorite books were checked out numerous times and read over and over. I would use my Barbie dolls to play out the scenes in books (such as Nancy Drew!).
I have written as a hobby for many years (probably since childhood). I have written devotionals, autobiographical writings about having a severely handicapped, medically fragile child, about my mother’s Alzheimer’s, and other subjects that interest me.
I joke that I “cut my romance teeth” on the old historical romance books. In 2013, I started a blog to showcase wonderful writers. In 2014, I finally gave in to the characters in my head pleading for their story to be told. Thus, Emma’s Home was created.
I worked as a counselor in a high school and was involved in education for the past 30 years, until retiring in 2015. I have been married to a wonderfully patient man for 35 years and have 2 adult, very supportive daughters. When writing, my dog or one of my cats will usually be found in my lap!