Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Blog Tour - Alexandrea Weis' The Secret Brokers

Alexandrea Weis stopped in for a guest post. Here's a little about this amazing woman. 

Alexandrea Weis is a registered nurse from New Orleans who has been published in several nursing journals and textbooks. She has been writing novels and screenplays for over twenty years. Her first novel, To My Senses, was a finalist for commercial fiction in Eric Hofer Book Awards, a finalist for romance in the Foreword Magazine book of the Year awards, and a finalist for romance in the USA Book Awards. Her second novel, Recovery, won the Gold Medal for best romantic suspense from The Reader's Favorite Book Awards and was named best Romantic Suspense by the NABE Pinnacle Book Awards in 2011. Her third book, Sacrifice, closes out the Nicci Beauvoir Series. Her fourth book, highlighting her love of rehabbing wildlife, called Broken Wings, is now out in paperback and ebook.
Ms. Weis is also a permitted wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries and when she is not writing, Ms. Weis is rescuing orphaned and injured wildlife. She lives outside of New Orleans with her husband and a menagerie of pets.
Blog site: http://alexandreaweiscom.blogspot.com/
Website: http://alexandreaweis.com
Amazon ebook: http://amzn.com/B0087QH3G8
Amazon print book: http://amzn.com/1938243609

A Word from Alexandrea

 The rhythm of the resurrecting city of New Orleans is reflected everyday in the unified heartbeat of its determined residents. And no matter the devastation, New Orleanians will continually fight to hold on to their beloved little bastion eight feet below sea level. Like the memory of a first kiss, the warmth of New Orleans pervades your soul and forever becomes a part of you. To travel among the wide oaks and antebellum homes of the Garden District makes for beautiful postcard pictures, but it does not give you a true indication of what it means to be a New Orleanian. You have to immerse yourself in the old world atmosphere and varied traditions of the people of this town in order to understand them, and, hopefully, become one of them.
     You need to dine in the myriad of exceptional restaurants and take part in a heated discussion about where to find the best bowl of gumbo. Spend a Monday morning drinking coffee and chicory in an old uptown kitchen while learning how to cook the perfect pot of red beans and rice. Experience the wrong way to eat a muffaletta sandwich, the right way to shuck an oyster, and the only way to eat a beignet. And you will always have to remember that if your food isn’t boiled, blackened or fried, it just ain’t cooked.   
          You will want to traverse the different sections of the old city divided not by points on a compass, but by proximity to the Mississippi River or Lake Pontchartrain. Because no one in the Crescent City could ever tell you where to find the south end of town, but they could recite by heart the neighborhoods along the bend in the river. From the Bywaters to the Irish Chanel, from Lakeview to the infamous Ninth Ward, so many smaller sections alive with their own unique histories make up this city. Each part of New Orleans has a rich heritage based on the struggles of its French, Spanish, Irish, African, or Italian founders.
     Then head over to Canal Street, where the local term “neutral ground” was created in the early 1800’s. In those days, the wide thoroughfare was first used as a common market area between the feuding French and Spanish occupants of the city. Take a streetcar ride down legendary St. Charles Avenue to see the world renowned Audubon Zoo. Along the way, soak up the different styles of Victorian, Greek Revival, and Colonial architecture represented by some of the city’s finest homes. Let the soothing rocking motion of the streetcar ease your cares, as the sweet scent of magnolias streams in from the open window beside you. At the end of your streetcar ride, walk the broken cobblestones of the French Quarter, and take in the alluring sights of the tightly packed Creole cottages. Listen for the seductive sounds of Jazz music resonating around you, the smell of great food hovering in the air about you, and let your imagination linger on the romantic wrought iron balconies above you. Make your way to Jackson Square and take in the tall spires of St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest Catholic cathedral in the continental Untied States. Walk through the adjoining Cabildo Museum, where the Louisiana Purchase was signed in 1803. Stroll on over to the Moonwalk, by the edge of the Mississippi River, and enjoy the calliope music coming from the Delta Queen Riverboat. After you have learned to bargain like a pro with the vendors at the French Market, then saunter down the shady sidewalks of Esplanade Avenue. The street made famous by Tennessee Williams and his tale of hidden desire. Finally, let yourself wander the narrow alleys of St. Louis Cemetery Number One, where you can visit the above ground tombs of famous former residents Marie Laveau, the voodoo queen, and Paul Morphy, the chess phenomenon.
     But there is another, more important, criteria for being an ingrained member of this eclectic southern city. You have to learn to appreciate life. Not the day-to-day hurried existence that shortens the lives of stockbrokers and businessmen, but the easy lust for the fulfillment of the senses. For everything about New Orleans is tailored to the forgotten art of self-gratification. In these days of such soulless existence, it is a heartwarming relief to find a place unashamed of its abundant way of life. No one in New Orleans regrets the way they live, they only regret when they have to leave it.
     So the next time you think about my hometown, don’t linger on the unforgettable disasters of our past. Instead, revel in what makes our city unique, shamelessly flamboyant, and stoically unapologetic for its transgressions. New Orleanians have moved on from Katrina. Despite the numerous media attempts to bury the residents under clouds of negative press and dim outlooks, the people remain resilient. Because they know that when Mardi Gras is over, crawfish season is right around the corner. We may have paid a heavy price for our time in paradise, but we know that somewhere up in the heavens, someone is answering our prayers. After all, the Saints did finally win the Super Bowl.        

Excerpt from The Secret Brokers

Dallas rubbed his hand over the back of his neck and silently cursed. If Carl Bordonaro had ventured outside the safety of his New Orleans lair, then something big had to be up. His thoughts quickly turned to Nicci. Perhaps something had happened to her. He then shook off his apprehension. He knew she was safe with her husband, David Alexander. David would have contacted him before now if there had been a problem. He and David had been in touch constantly ever since he had returned to New York to take over Simon La Roy’s network of specialists. Burying himself in Simon’s business of buying and selling secrets had kept Dallas going over the last several months. It was only at night, alone in Simon’s king-sized bed, when the past caught up with him. His thoughts would always stray back to Nicci in the darkness. He missed reaching for her, touching her skin, and holding her slender body against his. That was the hardest part of loving someone—letting go. He sighed once more into the silence of his office, then squared his shoulders and headed for the door. Time to get back to work.

When Dallas walked into the drawing room, he saw a short, round man in his early sixties, with a bald head and a pasty face, admiring Simon’s collection of ancient Greek vases. He was dressed in a tailored gray suit, wore thick, black-rimmed glasses, and seemed to sport a five o’clock shadow despite the early morning hour.

“Loutrophoroi?” the man queried in a deep voice as he turned from the mahogony display cabinet.

Dallas eyed the black and red vase the man had been admiring. “They belonged to Simon. I have no idea what it’s called.”

“Used for weddin’s and funerals in ancient Greece, I believe,” he said in his thick New Orleans accent. The man lifted his big brown eyes to Dallas. “Quite a collection the little guy had,” he added, seemingly amused.

“He was an avid collector of art and antiques.” Dallas placed his hands behind his back and stepped into the room. “Lance gave me the impression that you never left New Orleans, Mr. Bordonaro.”

“Oh, I leave all the time,” Carl Bordonaro acknowledged as he surveyed the room. “The feds try to keep an eye on me, but there are ways to get around their tails. Lots of ways.” He held his hand out to Dallas. “And you can call me Carl.”

Born and raised in the tough Irish Channel of New Orleans, Carl Bordonaro had learned from an early age to embrace a life of crime in order to get ahead in the world. His underworld dealings had landed him on every FBI Most Wanted List for the past fifteen years. But like many Louisiana politicians, Carl Bordonaro seemed immune to federal indictment, having survived five arrests with no criminal convictions.

Dallas took Carl’s hand. “How is Lance?”

Carl Bordonaro gave Dallas a firm handshake. “Waitin’ anxiously to become a great uncle.”

Dallas let go of the man’s hand. “From what David tells me, she doesn’t have long to go.”

“Yeah, Lance told me Nicci is due in another few weeks.” Carl dipped his head. “I mean Jenny, of course. Still haven’t quite gotten used to her new identity yet. I guess she’ll always be Nicci to me.” He paused and stared into Dallas’s eyes for a moment. “And to you too, I think,” he suggested with a grin.

“So what have I done to garner this unexpected visit?” Dallas asked, desperate to change the topic of conversation.

“It’s not what you have done, my friend. It’s what you’re about to do.”

Dallas raised one eyebrow. “About to do? I’m not sure if I like the sound of that.”

Carl moved toward a mahogany chair not far from the display case. The chair was upholstered in the same blue and cream fabric that covered the walls. He looked from the chair to the walls and shook his head.

“Simon La Roy always was a flamboyant little guy.”

Dallas eased his way across the room to a chair close to Carl’s. “He tried not to let his sexuality influence his business, but his restraint did not seem to undermine his decorating skills. All in all, he was a very private man.”

“Yeah, well.” Carl sighed as he took his chair. “Now he’s a very dead private man. Lucky for you the world wasn’t too upset to hear of his passin’.” He looked about the room once more. “Seems you have worked yourself right in here. Lance told me you have had very little opposition to your takin’ over his business.”

“Once it was finally leaked to the press that Simon was dead, there was little to no resistance encountered. Many of Simon’s past associates were more than pleased to hear of his death. Seems the man had only enemies—myself included.”

Carl Bordonaro sat back in his chair and folded his hands over his protruding belly. “Glad to hear that I was of some help to you and David last summer.”

“Which is, I am sure, why you are here, Carl,” Dallas replied with a slight grin.

“I figured cleanin’ up that mess at David’s place entitled me to ask for a favor.”

Dallas leaned back in his chair, scowling. “A favor?”

Carl ran his hand over his bald head. “I want you to do a job for me, a job you and your organization are well suited for. Now, I’m a man of considerable influence, and could entrust this job to any one of my associates, but none of them are as skilled as you in gatherin’ exactly the kind of information I need.”

“What kind of information are we talking about?”

“Secrets,” Carl answered. “Simon La Roy was known around the world as the man to go to when one needed secrets uncovered. As his successor, you’re the man to see. And with our past dealin’s together, I figured you were a man to be trusted.”

“Who’s the target?”

“Target? Odd chose of words.” Carl raised his dark eyebrows worriedly. “I don’t want her killed, Dallas.”

“Target is the person who we are sent to investigate. My people don’t eliminate.”

Carl smiled. “Of course.” He nodded his head as he looked down at his stubby hands. “There was a former associate who knew a great deal about my business ventures. His name was Earl Yeager. Three years ago, Earl was diagnosed with cancer and spent his last days in a hospital bed. He was given the best of care, and I paid to have private nurses see to his comfort. One nurse became very close to Earl—so close, in fact, that I think he may have told her a few secrets about me. If these secrets were released to certain federal agencies, it could cause problems for me and several other men throughout the country.” He looked up at Dallas. “Some of these other business men want this young woman killed, just to make sure she doesn’t talk, but I can’t do that.”

“Because you want to find out what she knows first?” Dallas inquired.

Carl shook his head and sighed. “Her father and I are…old friends. He was a liquor distributor in New Orleans. For forty years he supplied my house and businesses with liquor. Ed Pioth was good to me, and I’ve known his daughter, Gwen, since she was born. I attended her christenin’ and her first communion, so you can understand my dilemma.”

“You want me to send out a specialist to find out what she knows. See if this Earl Yeager said anything that the feds could use against you and your…friends?”

Carl stared into Dallas’s eyes. “I can’t afford for anyone else to be involved at this point.” He pointed at Dallas. “I want you to go and find out what the girl knows.”

“Me?” Dallas balked. “I’m right in the middle of taking things over here. Simon’s death was only leaked to the press a few weeks ago. I can’t just hop on a plane and—“

“I would consider it a personal favor,” Carl interrupted.

Dallas warily eyed the man and then shook his head. “And being a personal favor to you would mean what for me exactly?”

“That whatever you need from now on, I will do everythin’ in my power to accomplish.”

Dallas took a deep breath and mulled over the man’s words. Carl Bordonaro was a powerful friend to have, and considering the instability of the business he was trying to operate, a man with such connections could only prove to be an asset in the long run. Dallas leaned forward in his chair and rubbed his face in his hands.

“Tell me about the girl,” he finally said.

“Do you like animals?”

Dallas sat back in his chair, shaking his head. “Animals? What is she, a vet? I thought you said she was a nurse?”

“Yes, Gwen is a nurse, but she is also an animal lover. She lives on a farm outside of New Orleans where she keeps her rescued race horses.”

Dallas fidgeted slightly in his chair. “I live in New York City, Carl. I don’t know anything about horses.” He gave the man an impatient glance. “Tell me more.”

Carl nodded his bald head. “All right. Gwen is thirty-four, divorced, with no children. Her husband was a physician from a very wealthy family in Houston. Needless to say, her divorce settlement left her more than well off. She bought a fifteen-acre farm in a place called Folsom, on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. She retired from nursin’ after the divorce, but she took the private duty job as a favor to me.”

“Which would explain why you are here,” Dallas clarified. “But if you’re such an old family friend, why don’t you just talk to the girl yourself?”

“I already have. But that ain’t enough…you and I both know that. The people I’m lookin’ to appease wouldn’t take my word that the girl knows nothin’, but they will take yours. And there is another reason I want you with her.” Carl paused and turned his eyes down to the cream-colored Oriental rug beneath his feet. “Until other interested parties can be—let us say, distracted—away from the girl, I need to know she’s safe. And with you she will be,” he asserted in his deep voice.

“Then let’s pull her out of there and put her somewhere I can keep an eye on her.”

Carl’s brown eyes returned to Dallas. “Then she would look guilty and I would be caught in a finger pointin’ game with those other interested parties. No, the girl must stay put on her farm for now and not be seen as changin’ her routine in any way. Let’s just say there is someone already watchin’ her and if she were to be moved, a lot of problems would suddenly develop for me.”

“Who’s watching her?” Dallas questioned.

“Some former associates of yours at the FBI. Seems they’re also pretty interested in what the girl knows.”

“And another reason why you can’t just sweep in there and take her away,” Dallas pointed out.

“So you see my dilemma. I need someone on the inside close to the girl, makin’ sure she doesn’t talk to the feds, and also makin’ sure she stays alive until I can learn what she knows. I have assurances from the individuals who want the girl eliminated that a certain amount of time will be allotted for you to learn her secrets, but I will need you to move as quickly as possible.”

“How long do I have?”

“Two weeks,” Carl declared.

“Damn it.” Dallas jumped up from his chair. “Do you know how hard it is to set up a target and then gain their confidence? What you are asking takes months, not weeks. How can I get this woman to confide in me in two weeks time?”

Carl stood from his chair. “In my experience, there are only two methods that can get a woman to talk quickly; torture and sex. I leave the choice up to you.”

“I don’t torture people, Carl.”

He gave Dallas a mischievous grin. “I know.”


Thank you, Alexandrea, for sharing your fabulous insights into the city of New Orleans with us. Readers, I hope you enjoyed the excerpt from The Secret Brokers and that you'll check out the sample on Amazon. Thank you!

Happy Reading,

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