The Artist’s Touch by E.J. Russell Blog Tour, Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Hiya peeps! We have E.J. Russell popping in today with the tour for her newest release The Artist’s Touch, we have a great excerpt and an awesome giveaway, so check out the post and leave a comment to enter the giveaway! ❤ ~Pixie~

The Artist’s Touch

(Art Medium 01)
by

E.J. Russell

Two men haunted by more than the past.

Painter Stefan Cobbe was homeless and debt-ridden after the death of his wealthy partner, but the worst loss of all was his artistic inspiration. After two years of nothing, he’s offered patronage by an eccentric gallery owner and starts to produce again, canvas after canvas. The only problem? He can’t remember painting any of them—not one single brushstroke.

Luke Morganstern’s reputation as an art-fraud investigator is in tatters. He can’t afford to turn down any job, even a lousy one for an anonymous client who sends him after an unidentified forger in a remote cabin in Oregon. When the alleged forger turns out to be Stefan, the man he never stopped loving, Luke’s professional ethics are stretched beyond the breaking point.

As the two men take tentative steps toward reconciliation, evidence begins to mount that they’re not alone in the woods. Someone—or something—is watching. Something with sinister plans for them both. To escape, Luke must overcome his suspicions and Stefan must trust Luke with his deepest fears. Otherwise they could forfeit their relationship, their sanity—and their lives.

Publisher’s note: This is a heavily revised and significantly expanded reprint of Northern Light. The second book in the Art Medium series, Tested In Fire, is a first edition. Both are sold together in both ebook and print collections.

E.J. Russell!

Thank you MM Good Book Reviews for inviting me to stop by today! Hello, intrepid internet adventurers, and welcome to the blog tour for The Artist’s Touch, the first book in my Art Medium series. After the release of book two, Tested in Fire, in April, I’ll be giving away a $40 Riptide gift card, so please leave a comment for a chance to win.

Regrets, I’ve had a Few

The Artist’s Touch is a second-chance romance, and like all stories that use the second-chance trope, it presupposes at least one event that caused the first chance to fail. In The Artist’s Touch, Luke’s envy and jealousy prompted him to walk out on Stefan all those years ago. I like to think he regretted that mistake the instant he made it.

We all have regrets of some kind or other, choices we wish we hadn’t made or that we’d made differently. For the most part, I can’t regret many of my choices because they’ve brought me to where I am today, to a place I’m pretty happy with. But here are a handful that that I’d be glad to undo.

1) I regret not telling my mother that when I said I wanted to take music lessons, the accordion was not the instrument I had in mind.

2) When I was in sixth grade, I was enrolled in an after-school foreign language program. I regret not protesting when our neighbor signed me up for German classes (because that’s what her son was taking) when I really wanted to take French.

Are we detecting a pattern here? Clearly I was not a very assertive child. Part of this was because I was terrified of authority figures so I never wanted to rock the boat.

3) I regret giving the needlepoint of Churchy LaFemme (a Pogo character) that I’d worked on for three freaking years to an asshole ex-not-quite-boyfriend after we’d already split. That was just stupid, but I was trying to make a point. I should have made it with a set of Sears handkerchiefs instead.

4) I regret giving up my ticket for David Bowie’s 1976 Isolar tour so I could audition for a play (which I didn’t get cast in). I never had another chance to see him in concert.

5) Before CH and I finally settled in Oregon (we’ve been here for twenty-eight years), I moved around a lot. Those were the days when your phone number did not travel with you in a handy pocket-sized container, and along the way I lost touch with a lot of people I regret aren’t still in my life. Since I’m an introvert, I have to make a real effort to do things like call someone or leave the house to go meet them. Then, as time passes, a reconnection gets more and more awkward. Some of those connections can never happen now because those friends are gone forever. I’m sorry I let those opportunities slip away.

How about you? Anything you regret?

Excerpt!

This stretch of the Oregon Coast couldn’t be more different from the manicured white sand in front of Luke Morganstern’s high-rise condo in Sarasota. In place of the fragile shoal of sea shells, the beach sported sea wrack and piles of driftwood the height of stadium bleachers. Instead of the soft lap of Gulf wavelets, the surf beat itself to death on jetties made of rocks the size of Volkswagens.

The windshield wipers of the rental car thwapped and screeched in the never-ending, half-hearted drizzle, Oregon’s default weather setting ever since he’d arrived, as if the clouds couldn’t be bothered to muster up a real storm.

The weather sucked. The lousy rental car sucked. The road sucked. And anonymous clients teasing him with hints of a major forgery really sucked.

Damn it, he could be back on his balcony, sipping a beer, watching the sun set over the Gulf at the end of a liquid trail of crimson. But his mystery client—who doled out information in dribbles like there was an alphabet shortage—wanted to pay him to risk terminal mildew in soggy Oregon. Money talked, and if Luke wanted to hold on to that condo and balcony, not to mention the beer, he had to listen.

This was his first time on the left coast since he’d turned down the commission from the Prescott Gallery in Palm Springs five years ago. He’d gotten such satisfaction out of wording his snide refusal, flipping the professional bird at Marius Worthington Prescott the fucking Fifth, the asshole who’d stolen the only man Luke had ever loved. “Stole”? You practically handed him Stefan on a platter when you ran out like a fucking emo teen.

Now though . . . he’d grovel for the chance at a Prescott job, even if Marius were still at the helm and not two years dead. With a Prescott commission, he could have turned down this one and laughed all the way to the bank.

Luke’s mocking laugh cut off in a hard inhale as another semi tore past in the other lane, its draft rocking his rental car and making him regret the greasy eggs he’d eaten at the diner in Tillamook. Not so superior now, are you, you pathetic son of a bitch? Gone were the days when he could afford to turn down cases for trivial reasons like his broken heart.

Luke finally made it into Wheeler and pulled the car to a stop at the address Mystery Client had deigned to text to him. He peered through the rain-spattered window at the building behind its metal mask of scaffolding. Luke recognized the name, North Coast Gallery: Marius had invested in this place once, like he had in so many other small galleries. The tentacles of his influence had snaked through the art world until Luke hadn’t been able to turn around without seeing another instance of how much worthier Marius was of the man that they’d both wanted.

You won, you pretentious SOB, and a lot of good it did you. You’re dead. And Luke was a disgraced art-fraud investigator, one month away from flat broke.

He sighed, opening the door and using it to lever himself out of the car, his hip more wonky than usual after so many hours of tense driving. He crossed the street, scowling as he tried to remember who owned this place.

Boardman. That was it. Thomas Boardman, but for the life of him, Luke couldn’t put a face to the name. Which was odd— Luke never forgot a face, and once upon a time, he’d have been able to recite every independent gallery in the US and pick their owners out of any given cocktail party lineup.

He’d let that slide after the Hernandez fiasco too.

A trio of brawny workmen on the top tier of the scaffolding were giving the gallery sign a face-lift, removing the three-foot-high gold letters. North Coast Gallery was currently No Cost Gall. Maybe the workmen had a sense of humor lurking behind those stoic expressions, Carhartt jackets, and—whoa—Utilikilts.

Nice. Calves.

Luke’s scowl transformed into an appreciative grin. Maybe Oregon had its good points after all.

He crossed the street, ignored the orange detour signs, and ducked under the scaffolding to get to the door. He pulled out his cell phone to check Mystery Client’s text message. Not that he needed to. M.C. wasn’t exactly verbose.

Third gallery, east wall.

Luke didn’t hurry because why bother? He doubted M.C. knew a forgery from a Frappuccino. So he strolled, checking out the place.

The gallery was almost empty this early on a gloomy Tuesday. A trio of teenagers who probably should have been in school hovered in the corner, sneaking peeks at a larger-than-life male nude in acrylic on canvas. An elderly man leaned on a cane, studying a morose bronze salmon. A woman jostling a stroller holding her snoozing infant twins sat on a bench and slumped against the wall, glassy-eyed, under a triptych of Mapplethorpe photo reproductions.

Clearly, No Cost Gall wasn’t fighting off the crowds, which begged the question of how Boardman could afford the upgrades to the facade. No matter how slick the exterior, it couldn’t compensate for the lackluster contents. The pieces on display were an odd mix of quaint, intriguing, and just plain awful—and whoever handled the lighting should be shot.

Once he got to the third gallery, he could barely see the east wall because of the menagerie of chainsaw animal sculptures that crowded the floor. How anybody imagined this layout was—

Holy shit on a palette knife.

The picture in pride of place at the end of the room drew Luke like the promise of sunshine.

An Arcoletti.

With a chainsaw grizzly looming at his back, Luke forgave Mystery Client everything: the bogus secrecy, the white-knuckled drive on substandard roads, even the relentless Oregon damp.

Because fuck me blind. An Arcoletti. An actual, honest-to-God, genuine fake Arcoletti. Luke’s personal Holy Grail of art fraud.

He pulled out his cell phone and texted Mystery Client. I’m in.

Good old M.C. responded with a link to a map resembling a diagram of the large intestine. Luke’s grip on his cell phone tightened. A road that tortuous screamed mountain. He rubbed his hip to ease the never-absent ache, tempted to back out, hop on the next plane back to Sarasota, and tag Mystery Client with a Screw you and your games. Find another art investigator.

His thumbs hovered over the keypad. Two years ago, he’d have sent that arrogant text—or worse. Two years ago, he’d had his pick of plum jobs all over Europe. Now, his anemic bank account shared dwindling life support with his battered reputation.

But the memory of Jean-Pierre’s parting taunt, his voice mocking as only the pain-free and stupidly confident could be, was the kicker that made Luke tuck the phone in his coat pocket. “Afraid of a little hill? Did you break your balls as well as your leg? You are not the man you were, cher.”

Maybe not.

But an Arcoletti, damn it. Mountain or no mountain, switchbacks or no switchbacks, it was the one lure he couldn’t resist.

And bum leg or no bum leg, he’d prove to the skeptical art world that he could still kick major forger ass.

Read more at: https://riptidepublishing.com/titles/the-artists-touch (just click the excerpt tab)

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Art Medium series!

Artists use all manner of materials to express their vision, to interpret the world around them, to affect the hearts and minds of their audience.

But what if the artist himself were the medium? And what if artistic inspiration weren’t the only force at work?

If painter Stefan Cobbe and art investigator Luke Morganstern don’t answer those questions fast, they stand to lose their reputations, their relationship—and their lives.

Publisher’s note: Book 1 is a heavily revised and significantly expanded reprint while book 2 is a first edition.

The Artist’s Touch out now | Tested in Fire: Apr 2, 2018

About E.J.!

E.J. Russell holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer, and business-intelligence consultant. After her twin sons left for college and she no longer spent half her waking hours ferrying them to dance class, she returned to her childhood love of writing fiction. Now she wonders why she ever thought an empty nest meant leisure.

E.J. lives in rural Oregon with her curmudgeonly husband, the only man on the planet who cares less about sports than she does. She enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.

Connect with E.J.:

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Giveaway!

To celebrate the release of both books in the Art Medium series, one lucky winner will receive a $40 Riptide credit!

(Winner will be pulled from entries to both blog tours. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest.)

Thanks for following The Artist’s Touch tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

(Contest closes at midnight, Eastern time, on April 7, 2017 and is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. )
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Check out the other blogs on the tour!

February 12, 2018 – Joyfully Jay
February 12, 2018 – Bayou Book Junkie
February 12, 2018 – Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews
February 13, 2018 – Open Skye
February 13, 2018 – Love Bytes Reviews
February 13, 2018 – Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents
February 13, 2018 – The Day Before You Came
February 13, 2018 – La Crimson Femme
February 14, 2018 – Unquietly Me
February 14, 2018 – MM Good Book Reviews
February 14, 2018 – Book Reviews and More by Kathy
February 14, 2018 – OMG Reads
February 14, 2018 – Erotica for All
February 15, 2018 – Real Talk Book Talk
February 15, 2018 – Jessie G Books
February 15, 2018 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
February 15, 2018 – From Top to Bottom Reviews
February 15, 2018 – Dog-Eared Daydreams
February 16, 2018 – We Three Queens
February 16, 2018 – The Novel Approach
February 16, 2018 – TTC Books and More

Post Author: pixiemmgoodbookreviews

21 thoughts on “The Artist’s Touch by E.J. Russell Blog Tour, Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway!

    Jack S

    (February 14, 2018 - 7:35 pm)

    Looks interesting! Thanks for the chance

    susana

    (February 14, 2018 - 7:45 pm)

    Congratulations on the release, EJ. I have some regrets, but my bigger one is not spending more time listening to my granny’s stories about her youth… Now that she is long gone, I wish I had known her better, because I think she was a strong and interesting woman
    susanaperez7140(at)Gmail(dot)com

      E.J. Russell

      (February 15, 2018 - 3:11 pm)

      Those are the toughest. When CH and I were first dating, his elderly aunt was living with his parents. She was over 90, but had spent her girlhood in Syria. She told us some really interesting (but disjointed!) stories about that time, and I wish we could go back now and encourage her to tell us more!

    H.B.

    (February 14, 2018 - 7:54 pm)

    Thanks for sharing. I like to think I don’t but I probably do but I don’t like to think about it or try not to think about it.
    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

    Trix

    (February 14, 2018 - 8:10 pm)

    In college, they’d have late-night movie showings, and people would have paper fights. My friends and I went to LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE during freshman orientation. A cute guy and I threw paper at each other for a while, and he invited me to sit with him. I told him I was sorry, but I felt bad because my friends were saving me a seat (the place was packed). (I was shy and had never dated at that point, plus I figured it was a “chicks before dicks” situation.) I thought I’d see him around campus sometime. I never saw him again. So incredibly depressing (happy V-Day, folks)!

    vitajex(at)Aol(Dot)com

      E.J. Russell

      (February 15, 2018 - 3:12 pm)

      Awww. 🙁 The one that got away…

    Jennifer

    (February 14, 2018 - 8:31 pm)

    I’m so sorry you missed David Bowie. I got to see him about a decade later (one of my first concerts)! The combination of genres in this book is intriguing.
    jlshannon74 at gmail.com

      E.J. Russell

      (February 15, 2018 - 3:13 pm)

      Yeah. Really bad decision in hindsight. Glad you got to see him!

    Lennis

    (February 14, 2018 - 10:31 pm)

    I missed David Bowie and Chester Bennington. Ugh. I regret the things I didn’t do, not what I did. ;p
    Moondrawn at gmail dot com

      E.J. Russell

      (February 15, 2018 - 3:15 pm)

      Regretting the “yeah, I did that” is tougher than the “wish I’d done that” but I always get tangled up in “what would the altered timeline have looked like?”

    jodi marinich

    (February 15, 2018 - 5:09 pm)

    I am a fan of david bowie but sadly never got to see him in concert

    Paul Wilgus

    (February 15, 2018 - 6:15 pm)

    Congrats on the book. I have many regrets but not seeing Bowie isn’t one. I got to see him twice… he was fantastic by the way. there are a couple people I have lost contact with that I really regret losing.
    heath0043 at gmail dot com

    Sheila

    (February 16, 2018 - 1:05 am)

    Wow! What a fantastic prize! I have quite a few regrets. I suppose the biggest was not giving myself time to explore things that made me happy instead or rushing to always be secure in life. I suppose there are good things about both though.

    psshepherd@earthlink.net

      E.J. Russell

      (February 17, 2018 - 5:52 am)

      And you can always take time to explore the happy places now, right? (Although they might be different now than they were then.)

    Serena S.

    (February 16, 2018 - 9:19 pm)

    The covers are gorgeous! And the series sounds good, it’s in my wishlist.
    serena91291@gmail(dot)com

    Lisa

    (February 17, 2018 - 12:33 am)

    I have regrets about the way I treated people when I was younger. And for not listening better to my son when he was trying to tell me he wasn’t a girl. That one will haunt me forever. 🙁
    Thanks for sharing & thanks for the excerpt.
    legacylandlisa at gmail dot com

      E.J. Russell

      (February 17, 2018 - 5:49 am)

      Aww, Lisa. (((Hugs))) Yes, it’s always our own unfortunate behavior that lodges in our memory forever. I have a number of those that I’m simply not brave enough to share. Thank you for sharing such an important one of your own. <3

    E.J. Russell

    (February 17, 2018 - 5:54 am)

    Thanks so much for hosting me! And everyone who stopped by to share? You’re all awesome! Thank you!

    Diane Fair

    (February 18, 2018 - 2:21 am)

    This sounds like a fun read! I love creative types!

    dfair1951@gmail.com

    Purple Reader

    (February 18, 2018 - 4:05 am)

    Congrats, E.J., and thanks for the post. This sounds like an intriguing start of the series. I like the context of art, as well as the mystery. – Purple Reader,
    TheWrote [at] aol [dot] com

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