BLOG TOUR: Connection – R.L. Merrill

Connection Book Cover Connection
R.L. Merrill
Paranormal Romance, Supernatural Suspense, MF Romance
Celie Bay Publications LLC
April 5th, 2022

From the author of Healer comes Connection, a tale of supernatural suspense in which one man's search for redemption pits him against a cunning religious leader and his community who are preparing for a violent end of the world.

Retired Army Captain Jackson Howe views his ability to "connect" with others as invasive and inconvenient, but he deals with it by only using his power to help others. He's found purpose at Havenhart Academy using art therapy with child victims of trauma and his friends have embraced him and his quirky behavior, but after meeting Delaney's friend Cassidy—and developing a stronger than usual "connection" with her—he fears he's destined to forever be on the outside looking in.

But when Cassidy's link to Havenhart makes her a target and the plane she's flying is hijacked, she's forced to crashland in the Florida Everglades and becomes a pawn in the struggle between good and evil. Jackson will call on his training—and special skills—to save her from an enemy determined to spread evil and hurt those Jackson holds dear.

Follow the continuing saga of Havenhart Academy in Book Two of the Gifted Series.

18+ for violence and language. Best read after Healer: Gifted Book One


See the Five Star review here:…ok-2-r-l-merrill/


R.L. is giving away a set of signed paperbacks of Healer and Connection and a prize pack. Comment on this post for a chance to win!


It all happened so fast. One minute we were gathering ingredients for making s’mores, the next, our worst nightmare was coming true…

The evil presence had once again gotten past our wards and technology, and was gunning for our friend.

We couldn’t lose Delaney. She was too important.

She took off running into the woods, with Damien hot on her heels.

“Delaney!” Cassidy darted forward, but I grabbed her hand.

“Go back to the kitchen and tell whoever you see that Delaney’s in trouble. Send them our way. Please! Then stay inside.”

I hoped like hell Cassidy would listen. I feared for her safety. If Rains knew she was equally important, she’d become another target.

I pushed my body forward, running at a pace I shouldn’t due to the fact I was still healing from a gunshot wound. I ran for all I was worth, becoming winded quickly. I heard Damien calling out to Delaney just ahead. Every breath stabbed me in the gut, but I pushed on, trying to catch up to them, until my legs gave out and I nearly fell. I bent over and held my side, trying desperately to catch my breath, when all of a sudden the woods filled with light—and I heard a gunshot.


I took off again, scrambling to find them, when Damien’s screams ripped through the woods. I found them in the clearing the school used as a campfire pit. Damien was holding a bleeding, unconscious Delaney, begging and pleading with her to breathe.

I had a choice to make: stay and administer aid to her, or go after Rains. If he got away again, who knew how long this nightmare would continue? And I knew Damien was a powerful healer.

“Where’d he go, Preston?”

Damien gestured with his head, indicating the direction of the assailant. I took off running again.

Former Marine and medic George—and Delaney’s cousin, security expert James—caught up to me, and I pointed them in the direction I thought Rain’s had gone, but I couldn’t speak. I ran for another hundred yards before my lungs seized up. I dropped to my knees, light-headed, and had to fight to remain conscious. I reached deep within myself to draw on my intuition, listening in the darkness for the intruder. I feared I was too late.

I heard nothing for several minutes, until the crash of boots to my left let me know that James and George hadn’t found the assailant.

“Son of a bitch!” James fought to catch his breath as well. “He somehow managed to scale the wall and made it to the road back there. I heard a car taking off.”

I cursed under my breath. I’d been cocky, thinking we could handle anything this guy threw at us. I wouldn’t underestimate him again.

“Howe, are you wounded?”

Still unable to speak, I shook my head. James offered me a hand and I allowed him to pull me up, gasping when I was back on my feet.

“Shit. You probably tore that wound. Let’s get back. I need to see Delaney.”

Somehow, I knew she would be okay, though our Connection was faint. She was far away, I could barely sense her, but she was still with us.

Damien had carried Delaney into the infirmary and was still beside her, trying to use his healing powers.

My God.

Delaney was so pale. They were both covered with blood.

Nigel, Grace and Morgan fussed around her, hooking her up to various pieces of medical equipment, when Damien abruptly collapsed on the floor next to the bed. George lifted him effortlessly and placed him on another bed. Even unconscious, his head was turned toward her.

More of his hair had turned white. There was a new chunk at his temple to join the previous two.

My heart went out to them both. They’d only just found each other. Their bond was so strong, they had to be okay.


I Saw her in my mind as she stood alone in the hallway outside Delaney’s room, silent tears streaming down her face. I sensed her worry and frustration that she didn’t know what was happening and couldn’t help. She looked vulnerable there, her shoulders hunched and her hands wringing, nothing to occupy them. I gathered she didn’t do well with idleness.

Cassidy shivered as I approached, and instinctively I put an arm around her, though I should have asked.

She leaned into me and let out a stuttering breath. ”I can’t believe this is happening.”

Her pain overwhelmed me at our contact and I cursed. “I shouldn’t have allowed this to happen.”

She patted my chest. “You can’t control the actions of a madman. Don’t blame yourself.”

I couldn’t explain to her why I should have been able to stop this, and why I should have known it was going to happen. There was no logical or rational explanation, and Cassidy was a logical and rational person. She’d never believe me, and the last thing we needed was her thinking Delaney wasn’t safe or getting the best care.

“Why don’t you two get some rest?” Grace stood in the doorway with a sad smile. “I’ll call you when they wake.”

Cassidy wiped at her tears and shook out her hands.

“Hey, she’s going to be okay,” I said, pulling her closer. She turned into my chest and let out a shaky breath. I wrapped her in my arms and held her close, as though I’d known her forever.

And I did. I knew her. From the moment I’d shaken her hand the previous day, flashes of her life had played out in my mind like a movie montage. Vivid, emotional, revealing, and visceral.

The Connections could be helpful from time to time, like tonight, when I needed to locate Delaney. But my gift was mostly awkward, especially when it was with an incredible woman like Cassidy.

And if I told her anything about my stupid curse, she’d think I was crazy and that would be the end of it.

From R.L.’s Desk: That Time I Helped My Professor Write a Book About a Cult…

Oh hello, it’s your friendly neighborhood Ro writing to talk a little about her upcoming release Connection and how she managed to channel a unique writing experience into the Gifted world…

Back in 1993, I was a junior at Graceland University and my Racism and Discrimination professor, William D. Russell, took me on as his professor’s assistant. It was a campus job, paid minimum wage, and was as much as I could handle with a double major and a minor. The experience planted some seeds that took years to grow into a career that has fulfilled me more than I could have ever imagined.

Bill was a lawyer, a professor, an activist, an LDS historian, and an avid runner. He was also one of the most supportive people I encountered during my four years at the college. I was excited to be placed with him and the first week I reported for duty, we had a conversation about what I would be doing for him. I’m pretty sure he’d just come back from a run in the Iowa heat and was in his sweaty running shorts. I don’t think I appreciated what great shape he was in at the time. Now that I’m almost an old woman, I wish I could be in as good of shape as he was then at 70.

“So, I’m not really sure what I’m going to have you work on, but, well, I have this project…”

He proceeded to dig through piles of papers and found the stack he was looking for. “Have you heard about the case against Jeffrey Don Lundgren in Kirtland, Ohio?”

Bill proceeded to tell me that he had been a witness for the defense in the case as an historian for the church (The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, now known as The Community in Christ). He explained that he had the opportunity to connect with several of the followers of Lundgren and that he had copious notes, interviews, and letters from the work he’d done and was in the process of writing a book about the case.

“Would you be interested in helping me type up all of this information?”

“Why, yes, I very much would.” And I did. Because there were no scanners or internet in Southern Iowa in 1993. For two years, I spent at least five hours a week adding these documents to his manuscript using an ancient PC using DOS (I’d only learned to use a computer at all two years before, a Macintosh with the tiny little screen). I became a speedy typist and I learned so much about our church’s history as well as the details of the case. It was fascinating. He would warn me before working on certain parts due to the graphic nature of the case, and I absolutely had nightmares sometimes, but I was compelled to keep going.

After I graduated from college, I went about starting my career as a teacher and then a school counselor but I never forgot the details of the case. I read the subsequent books that came out, and I kept in touch with Bill for several years, but as far as I know he didn’t finish the book.

Some of you may know that in 2009 I had a prolonged illness that led to me starting to write my first book that eventually became Healer. When I created the villain, Gerald Rains, I pulled from the impressions I got of Lundgren after reading not only court transcripts and interviews, but also the letters his wife had written to Bill and letters Lundgren had written to him from prison. As I began to work on the follow up to Healer, Connection, I was inspired (which really seems like the wrong word to use) to use some of the beliefs Lundgren used to build his group as I created my character’s “religious community” called Maker’s Plan. Between Lundgren’s cult and the People’s Temple, I had enough inspiration (again, not a great word) to come up with the worldbuilding necessary to support the story.

I am fascinated by cults and the people who spend time with them from a psychological, historical, and sociological perspective. Throughout history, people have used their power and influence for ill-gotten gains and to manipulate others to do their bidding. Knowledge is power and the more people are aware of these tactics, the less likely they are to end up in a situation they can’t get out of safely. My purpose in writing about this topic was not to sensationalize this misuse of power and abuse of people, but to give hope and strength to those who have survived such experiences or who are in a reality that is harmful to them and looking for a way to escape.

I miss Bill. I miss my college days. I often have dreams about going back, but at my current age, and nightmares about having to live in the dorm and the big one—it’s finals time and I haven’t read any of my text books all semester. But working for Bill was the first time I ever participated in the writing of a book and I was fascinated. There are other books written about The Kirtland Massacre and Bill would say they did a decent job. I wish his book would have been finished as he had such insight into the people who were involved. He asked the important questions: how did ordinary churchgoing folks end up murdering a family of five people in an old barn and burying them there? How did they give up their lives and livelihoods to follow a so-called prophet into the “wilderness” of West Virginia, where they eventually came to the realization that they had entered into a nightmare?

Connection is the follow-up to Healer, but it also opened new doors to a darker good-vs-evil scenario for me, which became a book called Sundowners. It will be out in September and will start a new series that is connected to the Gifted Series. That’s all I’ll say for now on that subject. There will be more in the Gifted Series as well. I’m really enjoying writing supernatural suspense/paranormal romance. It’s closer to the books I like to read and allows me to use my noodle in a new way. I’ll be writing more funny paranormal romance in the Magic Mayhem Universe this October and I’m working on several queer contemporary romances. I have so much planned, and after taking this year off of work to get healthy-ish and experiment with my writing, I can’t wait to see what you think!

I’m dedicating this book to William D. Russell and I hope you enjoy it. If you want to know more about the Lundgren case, here is a short video or you can check out one of these books:

Thank you to the folks at the Paranormal Romance Guild for having me on today!

R.L. Merrill writes contemporary, paranormal, and supernatural tales to make you swoon and/or shiver. You can find her on social media, advocating for America’s youth, writing music reviews for, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned…

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About the Author

RL Merrill

Spinning feel-good stories to make you laugh and swoon or spooky yarns to make you shiver, Ro writes queer and het contemporary and paranormal romance for grown-ups who use their words (mostly) and take care of business. She’s a mom and wife who’s on hiatus from a career in education while she explores the new terrain of mid-life adventures. You can catch her walking while she works out her latest plot issues, gardening to gain inspiration, spoiling her rescue pets, or headbanging at a concert near her home in the San Francisco Bay. Stay Tuned for more hits coming your way…

R.L. can be found at the following locations:




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