BestSelling Reads are thrilled to present this sample from the first novel in the Women of Strength Series by our newest member
Blanca stood awkwardly in the street of the middle-class area of Rio on Saturday night. Crowds headed towards the venue for the Rio carnival, some of them holding glittery masks and fancy headpieces to honour the main event. She retrieved her phone from her satchel when it chimed an incoming text notice.
It was from Isabela: “Sorry, got called in to a family emergency. Can’t make it tonight.”
Great! She didn’t want to be alone covering this latest piece of news for the magazine events page, and was looking forward to working with her new friend. She sighed, again scanning the crowd ahead.
She walked towards the Sambadrome and turned at the sound of a familiar voice to see Carlos hurrying in her direction, his camera bag slung over one shoulder. She stiffened and felt her pulse and breathing accelerate. “I thought Pedro was sending you to cover the Rio Carnival tomorrow,” she said when he reached her side.
“Change of plans. Pedro thought it’d be easier if we work together.”
They made their way to the Sambadrome, displayed their press credentials to the staff member, and took their seats. Blanca’s parents had told her about the Sambadrome, an arena for watching the samba-school parades during Rio’s annual Carnival. Even so, the size of the place, the tiers of seats packed with spectators astounded her.
Screeching voices and resounding samba music assaulted Blanca’s ears. In spite of the pressure around the back of her head, the spectacle captivated her: the skimpy costumes, feathered attire and extravagantly fanciful headpieces of the parade members who danced to the powerful Latin rhythms. She immersed herself in the moment, in the shared ecstasy.
“What do you think?” Carlos shouted over the tumult. He took out his camera, clicking away as he moved to capture different angles.
“This is amazing,” Blanca shouted back. “It’s not like anything we have in Spain, that’s for sure.” She jotted in her notepad, ignoring Carlos’s thigh brushing against her own.
Carlos lowered his camera for a moment. “I don’t know if you’re interested in the history of the carnival, but the Portuguese settlers brought this festival from Europe, as a formal ball in upper-class homes.”
“I’m glad it’s for the public now,” said Blanca.
Carlos sat back down and fiddled with his camera as he regarded her intensely. “Carnival is known as the world’s biggest party, and attracts millions of tourists to the country. It is great for our economy.”
Blanca’s eyes widened, her body energised by the loud sounds and movements. “It does draw a crowd. I absolutely love it.”
Carlos chuckled. “There is more to come. Wait and see.”
Blanca sensed a presence in the distance. She turned to see a strange man watching her from a few aisles down. He was skinny and stood in front of a woman whose view he blocked. The woman shook her head. Blanca wondered whether he was staring at her, or at one of the multitude of people around her.
Her hands shook slightly as she closed her eyes and breathed deeply to relieve her stress. The stranger could have been looking at anyone, but she couldn’t help thinking about the note in her bag. Crazy thoughts! When she opened her eyes again, the stranger had disappeared. Where did he go?
In Rio’s Shadows
Romance and terror in a tropical paradise.
Sun, sand, surf. How could Blanca Castellano turn down the offer of a promotion to beautiful Rio de Janeiro—especially when it’s a step up in her career in Madrid?
The job is a dream come true. A promotion, a new culture to explore, great colleagues to work with, including a sexy photographer named Carlos. There’s also a chance to make a name for herself by exposing a powerful story: child sex exploitation in Rio’s poverty-stricken neighbourhoods.
But the return to Rio also means the return of nightmares from Blanca’s childhood—nightmares that began after her first trip to Rio, as a child with her parents on vacation.
As Blanca and Carlos investigate child exploitation in Rio, the shadows of Blanca’s nightmares become dark memories of something she cannot yet understand. Shadows of Carlos’s past, too, stalk them—until they become a terrifying and dangerous reality. Together, Blanca and Carlos must learn the identity of a murderous puppet master.
If you like raw emotions and a plot that twists and turns from the beach of Ipanema through the sordid favelas and the soaring luxury of Leblon, you won’t be able to stop turning the pages in Lucy Appadoo’s first book, In Rio’s Shadows from the Women Of Strength Series.
Lucy Appadoo is a prolific reader and author of the Friends In Crisis Series. After a childhood spent reading and imagining escapist worlds, Lucy has put her imagination into stories. Her work as a rehabilitation counsellor, and former work as a counsellor in private practice, have led to an interest in writing inspirational stories about authentic, driven women who manage adversity with strength and heart. She writes in the genres of romantic suspense/thrillers with significant life themes and contemporary romance.
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- BestSelling Reads author page
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