Thursday, October 27, 2022

The Color of Betrayal by Hollie Smurthwaite Virtual Book Tour

The Color of Betrayal
The Psychic Colors Series
Book Two
Hollie Smurthwaite

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Suspense
Publisher: Hollie Smurthwaite
Date of Publication: 10-31-2022
ISBN: 978-1-7371189-6-1
Number of pages: 344
Word Count: 98,000
Cover Artist: Sarah Hansen at Okay Creations

Tagline: No Secret is Safe . . . 

Book Description:

As a memory surgeon, Jolene can slip into other people’s memories. She can see them, experience them, even steal them. To atone for her past, she’s been using her gift to help the Agency, a secret government entity, taking out drug lords across the US. After a screw-up on an assignment, she’s back in Chicago, where her own worst memories live.

The last thing she needs while trying to make up for her mistake is a sexy distraction.  Cass is a little sweet and a lot gorgeous.  The only problem: she can’t have him and the job.  But when he offers his friendship, she can’t resist. 

While Jolene and Cass try to pretend there is nothing beneath their friendship, her mission spins out of control. Now, both their lives are on the line. Will her growing powers be enough to save her? Or will secrets send her right back to the darkest depths of her past?

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After only three weeks of dating, Jolene and Colton had fallen into a routine: dinner (both) and drinks (him), binge-watching various flavors of CSI at his downtown Boston condo (him), and a few hours of surreptitiously delving into Colton's memories (her). Jolene's practice run as a spy in the field was going well.

The late August night was cool enough for Colton to crack open the sliding glass door to the balcony to let the night air clear his lingering cigarette smoke. Jolene kicked off the stiletto heels and inwardly sighed. After some complex maneuvering, she managed to tuck her aching toes under her too-bright skirt.

The next part of the evening promised to be worth the discomfort of a thong up her ass crack to avoid panty lines.

Without asking Jolene what she would like, Colton switched on the obscenely large TV and pulled up Hulu, lounging like a czar on his pristine white couch, which was a stupid color for anyone but particularly ludicrous for a smoker who drank too much and worked with dangerous people.

In another life, he would have been regal with golden hair, long limbs, straight nose, and a boyish, charming smile. But this wasn’t another life.

As a midlevel lackey in the Red Flames criminal organization, he was not proper boyfriend material, even if he made enough cash to buy a downtown place on a high floor and have it professionally, if foolishly, decorated all in white.

Jolene wiggled her toes into the plush cushion and ignored the stale-smoke smell mixed with Colton’s spicy cologne. Any moment, Colton would slip into a CSI coma, and she would slip into his memories.

“This looks like a good one,” she said. What she always said, because why mess with what worked?

“Yeah,” Colton agreed, as he always did. He lit a cigarette and “politely” blew the smoke toward the balcony doors, tapping the ash into an antique crystal ashtray on the glass coffee table already holding three butts.

The first week, she'd been terrified he'd somehow feel her inside his mind, though she'd never had that happen before or heard of anyone sensing the process. Not that Jolene still had contacts in the memory-surgeon community, small as it was, but that sort of revelation would put memory surgery back in the 24/7 news cycle, like when they’d first been legitimized. Semi-legitimized.

This first assignment was nothing more than an exploration of what she could do on a real mission. Since Colton was a gangster and she had no close backup, fear nibbled, but confidence had outpaced her worry.

Jolene rested her head on his shoulder, slipped her arm through his, and slid her hand down his button-down shirt to rest on his hand. As soon as skin-to-skin contact was made, she mentally reached out to him. Colton's mind rose up inside her own. To boost her concentration, Jolene closed her eyes.

Within the blackness, bubbles sharpened. The different shapes and colors bobbed and slid around one another. In her mind's eye, she moved into the middle, staring at them as if in an aquarium. The memories never touched her, but she could reach out and sink into any of them. If she did, she experienced the memory in its entirety, exactly as Colton had lived through the event at the time. If she wanted, she could remove memories, but that was a level of violation she resisted unless absolutely necessary. Besides, if she took something, she had to keep it, and she didn't want to keep anything of Colton's.

Jolene already had an entire dossier in her head of all things Colton. She’d cataloged his fears: multilegged insects like millipedes terrified him, as did his brother when his eyes went icy, and his jaw shifted to the right.

Shame occupied its own section: bed-wetting for a month when he was twelve. The time he'd slapped his girlfriend after she'd gotten pregnant and decided she didn't want it. Red Flames passing him over for job after job.

Still, inside, people were infinite, and she had more to learn. She avoided the pink bubbles, as they were filled with his worst memories, and her reactions to living them were difficult to hide. Reds gave her the best intel so far. Angers, suspicions, smackdowns.

Truthfully, she should have wrapped up the mission a week ago since she wasn’t finding anything new. But playing spy and the unfettered access to Colton's recollections had been too enlightening to quit quite yet. Her skills had grown, and she didn’t feel guilty about messing in his brain because of his criminal history. She was three weeks into her two- to three-week mission, so she needed to skip out soon.

Jolene decided to make a game to test her memory-reading skills. She had recently learned how to peek and not immediately experience a memory. It allowed her to see more since she didn’t need any emotional recovery time, and she processed what she encountered more quickly.

Tonight, she wanted to test how many memories she could scan during commercial breaks, since Colton was too cheap to pay for the commercial-free version of Hulu. She’d hop through his memories like jumping into puddles.


A mahogany memory: his brother, Walther, stood over him, watching over his shoulder as Colton did algebra homework. Whenever Colton squirmed in his chair, Walther flicked his ear. It didn’t hurt much, but Colton’s face burned every time, and his muscles shook with the stress of not moving to avoid Walther’s attention. “Knock it off,” he grumbled, earning another sting. Colton tensed—

A buttercup-colored memory: “Mama, Mama, Mama,” Colton said, running around his mama as she walked in the park. If he ran fast enough, he would fly, his head already lightening. He stumbled and giggled, his mama laughing. Something shiny glinted in the sun. What was it? His mama scooped him into her arms before he grabbed it. She smelled of flowers and oranges.

About the Author: 

Hollie Smurthwaite is a paranormal romantic suspense author of The Color of Trauma and The Color of Betrayal. The Color of Trauma was the winner of the 2020 Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project in adult fiction. She lives in Chicago with her husband, son, and too few pets. In past lives, she's been a checkout clerk, massage therapist, office manager, recruiter, magazine staff writer, pepper spray hawker, and belly dancer.


Does writing energize or exhaust you?  I'm lucky to be someone who is energized by writing most of the time. It's fun to see a story take shape. 

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Yes. If I ever write erotica, it would be under a pseudonym--at least while my parents are alive. 

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want? I write the stories I wanted to write without thinking along clear genre lines. At the same time, I read the genre I write in, so I’m hoping it meets most genre reader expectations. 

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? You don't know as much as you think you do. 

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power? I don't know if I can describe this accurately, but I'll try. My grandparents were visiting my dad, and I was getting ready to leave and I told them I loved them. Now, telling family you love them isn't exactly a novel thing, but I swear when I said the words, they landed in a powerful way that all of us felt. It had a resonance that solidified for a few moments, and I've remembered it ever since. Similarly, I also remember saying, "Fuck you," to a boyfriend and having the same sort of resonance, though not quite as feel-good. My immediate thought after that was that I'd gone too far. 

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? Ugh. Maybe a coked up hamster on a wheel?

How do other writers help you become a better writer? Community is important to me. I take a lot of classes and attend conferences and seminars, but I also meet every week (now virtually) with a group called Just Write Chicago, a Meetup group, just to talk about writing. It's invaluable to speak with other authors about what we've learned, what we're struggling with, and share accomplishments. I'm also part of a critique group that's been meeting for several years. Without their feedback and perspective, my writing would be awful. And I have an accountability group that meets virtually every week to check in on our writing. 

What does literary success look like to you? Money is great, but I'd rather have a well-read novel. I'd like to reach at least 10K readers to start. For me, particularly as a no-name indie writer, I’m playing the long game. My plan is to keep producing until I can generate some momentum. 

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work? I can't imagine a different occupation right now, but if I needed cash, I'd probably have to go back to office management. If I had to pick a hypothetical, new career, I'd go with: high-end spa reviewer. 

Do you Google yourself? Not very often, but I do have a Google alert on my name and my book titles. It’s the biggest advantage to having a last name like Smurthwaite. It’s also interesting to see “the color of betrayal” used in random postings. 

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones? A little. My favorite review so far was a four-star that had both positive and negative points. I loved it because 1) I believed it was genuine 2) It was a great review for other readers, which is what reviews are supposed to be for, not authors, and so it was thorough enough for someone to decide if the book might be good for them. 

What one thing would you give up to become a better writer? I'd give up chocolate! Writing means that much to me. 

Does your family support your career as a writer? Absolutely. My husband is the most supportive spouse on the planet, and both my parents support my writing. My son grumbles sometimes that I'm always writing, but he's pretty supportive too. 

If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do? I would have journaled. Not so much for plotting purposes but for remembering specific details of experiences and emotions during the bigger moments of my life. It would also have been fascinating to have a record of my "voice" at different ages. I unearthed an old diary several years ago from when I was fourteen or fifteen. I'm not going to go deeply into it, but I used the word "anyways" more than once. *cringe*

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