Blog Tour: Dark Side of Valor: A Novel by Alicia Singleton

Title: Dark Side of Valor: A Novel
Author: Alicia Singleton
Pages: 352
Publisher: Strebor Books
ISBN: 1593093853

A child advocate and a mercenary must work together to overcome their past losses and save both of their lives and hearts.

Lelia Freeman created a life for herself after growing up homeless on the streets of Los Angeles. When the horror has passed, Lelia vows to make a better life.

Now, Lelia spends her life trying to save children. As the director of ChildSafe Shelters, she is summoned to Washington and asked to serve on a committee that aids the children of a war-torn African nation. Life takes a dramatic turn when Lelia uncovers terrible corruption and is kidnapped for her knowledge.

Her fate is in the hands of Elijah Dune, a mercenary stuck in the past. Haunted by the loss of his daughter, Elijah is the only one who can save Lelia—but he believes she is to blame for his daughter’s death.

Dark Side of Valor delves into the destructive forces of guilt and revenge as two people are connected by their love for a lost little girl.

EXCERPT

Pain played just below the surface of Lelia’s stare.  Sadness, despair seeped from her stiff body, stroked Joella.

Joella opened her mouth, then closed it.  No amount of talking would ease the look fixed on Lelia’s face.  Joella knew better. She’d seen that same look reflected in her own mirror.  She’d lived in the same hell many times herself, almost didn’t get out.

Life, cruel and hard, must have whipped up on Lelia, made her draw inside herself like a cornered hare drawn inside its burrow. Best thing to do was leave her be, for now.  A burrow was the safest place for her.

Joella was an expert on safe burrows.  They made life endurable, harbored your mind, saved you from going mad.

A lifetime ago, they were the only way she’d survived.  She used to fill her burrows with rainbows, magic dragons and pretty horned horses.  All the things her daddy used to spin tales about before he’d tuck her into bed. She hadn’t needed safe burrows when Mama and Daddy were around.  But all that vanished when they left.

For a while, Grandma Dell was all she had.  Until Cousin Daryl came sniffing around, hard on his luck.  Evil took the form of that hard-on-his-luck doper.

Joella thought hell was missing her parents.  Cousin Daryl had other thoughts of hell. He shared them with her daily.

Open-handed cuffs across the face, kicks to the ribs.  The thrashings.  Still, no hell he executed terrorized her more than the darkness.

Cousin Daryl always locked her alone.  In the darkness.

Grandma Dell tried to stop him, but he hit her, too, forced her in her room.

Joella could still hear Grandma calling through her bedroom door, begging him to stop.  She still felt fire scorch her skull from his fingers clenched in her hair, still remembered half screeching, half choking on fear as he drug her to the barn. Taught her her lesson.

Sprawled on her stomach, her back ripped raw. Tears puddled mud under her cheek.  Dirt and sweat throbbed in her busted lip.  Blood and bile sullied her tongue. Unable to move, she lay in the blackness, hushed her sobs, scared he’d hear.  Scared he’d come back to teach her more lessons. Those were the times her safe burrows surrounded her, pressed insanity to the fringes of her mind.

One night she ran away from Cousin Daryl while he was sleeping off a high.  She’d helped Grandma Dell to Granddad’s old truck, and drove off.  Her feet barely reached the pedals. They hit a couple of ditches, but they’d made it.

A family friend in the next county took them in.  For a few weeks hell disappeared. It resurfaced when Cousin Daryl tracked them down.

Joella took off, never looked back.

Some nights Cousin Daryl still found her, stole into her dreams, locked her in darkness. Memories of Daddy or Mama didn’t keep him from hurting her, remembering Grandma Dell’s kind words didn’t hold him at bay. Only Lelia’s soft voice broke through the death dream to save her.

Now Lelia needed saving.

Her friend knelt in front of the candlelit muffin. Zombified, she stared at the burning wick.

Comfort was the only thing Joella could offer.  She shrugged the rough quilt off her shoulders, wrapping them both in it.  She rocked like Grandma Dell used to do.  It felt like forever.  The hardwood dug into her knees, the candle burned, she kept rocking.

For once, Lelia needed her.  No matter what, she’d be Lelia’s light, ’cause no one should be left in the darkness.

AUTHOR BIO
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By her sophomore year in college, Alicia Singleton knew she was born to be a writer. Too intimidated to change her major, she continued her nursing studies and received her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing in 1987. From Johns Hopkins University Hospital to Howard University Hospital to Washington Hospital Center, and numerous other medical facilities in the Baltimore/Washington DC Corridor, the Howard University graduate practiced nursing for 12 years, but the passion to write never subsided.

The dream deferred became reality when Alicia won the 2012 National Black Book Festival’s Best New Author Award and her debut novel, Dark Side of Valor, won The Sistah Circle National Book Club Best Thriller Award. Alicia was also awarded the National Association of Women Writers Award of Excellence from the Maryland Chapter.

Alicia resides in Maryland with her wonderful husband and son and is hard at work completing her next suspense novel.

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