Monday, 5 November 2018

The House Always Wins: A Vegas Ghost Story by Brian Rouff: Blog Tour, Extract & Guest Review

Today, I am thrilled to be part of Brian Rouff's blog tour for his new book The House Always Wins: A Vegas Ghost Story ...... and I have an exclusive extract and a fab guest review by Laura Lee 

Publisher:  Huntington Press
Published:  3 October 2017
Genre:  Paranormal Romance, Ghosts, Crime Thriller, Las Vegas Mystery
Available in Print and eBook:  324 pages

Anna Christiansen’s small-town life is about to go haywire. A young reporter stuck in a dead-end job, Anna falls head over heels for an interview subject, the bass player in an up-and-coming alt band. In short order, she pulls up stakes, moves to Las Vegas, gets married and pregnant, and buys a big fixer-upper haunted by the ghost of a Sin City racketeer.

That’s when Anna gets notice from a corrupt casino owner that he’s buying up all the properties on her street to make way for a parking lot. But Anna has poured her heart and soul into the house and digs in hard to fight the system — not the easiest of tasks in a city where bribery, mayhem, and murder are standard operating procedures.
Can Anna’s tough-guy ghost provide the help she needs to prevail in this dangerous cat-and-mouse game? Will Anna’s life be left in ruins? Or worse?
Guest Review by Laura Lee
Brian Rouff pulls the reader in right from page one, with a
letter from the main character, Anna to her Aunt.  In it she
explains apologies for not writing or calling. She admits her
excuses sound far fetched but tells her it has to do with “bad
guys and friendly ghosts and mayhem and murder.”  She also
apologizes for making the letter into a memoir but she is a
writer, after all.
She then proceeds to tell what happened to her after meeting
Aaron and moving to Los Vegas with him.  She becomes
pregnant and they buy a house that needs a lot of work but
has a lot of potential. However, a developer is making not so
subtle threats because he is buying up properties in her area
and she will not sell.  She teams up with an unlikely friend, a
ghost that lives in her house.
I loved this book!  It had me laughing, crying, and rooting for
Anna.  She is a strong female lead and I applaud Rouff for
creating her.  I would love to see her featured in more of his
books! I also think ‘The House Always Wins: A Ghost Story’
would make a incredible movie.  Okay, so I hear you thinking,
“not another Vegas movie” but this is a completely fresh take.
It doesn’t take place on the strip but a neighborhood where
people actually live and raise families. Seriously, this book is a
must read!  I give it a solid 5 out of 5 stars. I need to read
more of Brian Ruffs’ work!


The House Always Wins
Excerpt 3

I stared at the nothingness before me, feeling around the unrumpled sheets on Aaron’s side of the bed, a sign he hadn’t yet returned from his lounge gig with Meltdown at Bally’s. Perhaps the answer was as simple as loneliness (mixed with a dash of isolation)—just the big old house and I still getting to know each other. I chewed on that possibility for a moment as the sounds of the night encroached: a siren, a car horn, a barking dog, a train whistle. Plus, the usual creaks and moans typical of middle-aged structures (and people). A melancholy chorus if ever there was one. I pulled the covers up higher and shuddered.
Could I dare hope for a second round of blessed sleep? The beginning of my second trimester was making it more and more unlikely these days. But as the warmth and oblivion enveloped me, another sound made its presence felt, tiptoeing around the threadbare outer edges of my consciousness. Barely present at first, indistinguishable from a dream, but then muffled, like your parents’ murmurs from behind closed doors. It required my absolute concentration to will it into focus, the way you’d adjust the dials on a telescope to bring a distant celestial body into crystalline view. It was as annoying as walking with a grain of sand in your shoe; try as I might, I could not ignore it. So I threw back the blanket and slipped into my robe, cinching it tight at what passed for my waist. Could I have left the TV on before going to bed? I clearly remembered turning it off, although my memory wasn’t what it used to be, the growing alien in my tummy stealing my mojo by the day. Stupidly, I flicked on the light and set off to find the source of the babble, not stopping to think it could be burglars or worse.
A downstairs room-to-room inspection yielded nothing. But as I got closer to the stairs (all 17 of them), I noticed a second element added to the mix: the faint, but unmistakably pungent, aroma of cigar smoke.
A smart woman would have called 911. But what would I say? I hear a TV and smell a cigar? Please send your crack SWAT team immediately? Instead, I made my way to the kitchen and grabbed a rubber mallet from the rack, the kind you use to pound chicken into cutlets. I’m sure the sight was laughable: a pregnant woman awkwardly wielding a cooking utensil certain to strike terror in the heart of any home invader.
I stopped to catch my breath on the upstairs landing before completing my ascent and moving methodically down the long hall, poking my head into each room to—what? Assure myself it was all a figment of my overripe imagination? Was that really preferable to an actual intruder?
The hammering of my own heart was the only sound I heard. Just as I decided to return to the ground floor, it started up again, the noise and the stench stronger than before, now punctuated by what sounded like a crowd of people laughing. Peering down the far end of the corridor, I could just make out bluish light spilling out from under the door of the guest room, a 10-by-10 space I’d set foot in only a handful of times before.
Again, I considered bailing, but my natural reporter’s curiosity got the better of me and I soldiered on, each step like walking in Jell-O. My puffy feet delivered me to the door nonetheless. Now the sounds were unmistakable: the tenor tones of a man’s voice, ethnic, possibly Hispanic; and a woman, whiny and strident, engaged in a hilarious back-and-forth conversation (if the waves of raucous laughter were to be believed). Did this room even have a TV? I couldn’t recall.
The door knob felt smooth and cool in my hand. Before I could talk myself out of it, I gave it a turn and pushed. It didn’t budge. One last chance to run, or at least shuffle, away. To heck with that. Focusing all my adrenaline and fear and crazy pregnant-lady strength, I put my shoulder into the door like I’d seen in so many cheesy action movies. After a nanosecond pause, it gave way with a thunderous crack!
As my eyes adjusted to the room, they settled on the source of the sounds, a small black-and-white TV with a coat-hanger antenna, the kind I barely remembered from Gramma’s house when I was little. (Years later, in my college Marketing 101 class, I learned that Gramma was a “laggard,” essentially the last person on the planet to adapt new technology). On the screen, I recognized Lucy and her husband from “Nick at Nite” in mid-quarrel, with Lucy saying, “I may not be able to understand what you say when you say it, but before you say it, I can understand what you're going to say perfectly.”
From there, my eyes wandered to a leather recliner on the far side of the room, where an ancient man in equally ancient PJs sat puffing on a stogie the size of a torpedo, the tip glowing an intermittent bright orange, the smoke curling up to the ceiling in the flickering light of the television screen. And, as if the entire scene weren’t strange enough already, the man was as ethereal as the smoke, a shimmering silver-gray specter drifting in and out of, well, whatever passed for reality in this room. Not much taller than a jockey, he was sporadically solid enough for me to discern a few features: the head bald, other than a scattering of wispy white hairs, large gnarled hands, and glasses with window- frame lenses held up by ears the size of satellite dishes.
As my raggedy mind tried vainly to process the spectacle, the man or whatever he was turned to me and said in a rusty voice, “I like what you’ve done with the place.”
The rubber mallet made a dull thudding sound as it bounced off the hardwood floor. The scream I heard might have been my own.

Award winning author, Brian Rouff was born in Detroit, raised in Southern California, and has lived in Las Vegas since 1981, which makes him a long-timer by local standards. When he’s not writing articles, screenplays and Las Vegas-based novels such as “Dice Angel,” “Money Shot,” and “The House Always Wins,” he runs Imagine Communications, a marketing and public relations firm. He is also a regular contributor to
On a personal note, Brian is married with two grown daughters and five grandchildren. In his spare time he enjoys movies, playing guitar and the occasional trip to the casino buffet line.

Buy House Always Wins: Vegas Ghost Story by Brian Rouff

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