When we last left Jack Shelley, the infamous assassin known as “The Poet,” he decided to give up his violent vocation in romantic pursuit of the strong and beautiful Rebecca Paige. After the two emerged alive from a dangerous hostage situation at a remote inn, they had time to give more thought to their magnetic feelings for one another. Jack moved in with Rebecca, and shortly thereafter the happy couple became engaged.

Alas, their happiness does not last. Danger has come to rip the two apart once again, and cruelly at a time they deserve to be completely careless–their honeymoon in Italy.

In her sequel, The Poet Recusant (Gatekeeper Press), Stephanie Jo Harris once again plunges us into a dark world full of twisted criminals, tests of strength and psychological warfare. Through all of the perils, she vividly paints a dynamic assassin, torn by his drive to stop at nothing to save his wife and his freshly made promises to her. Will she still have him once she discovers the vulgarities he’s willing to commit in order to save her?

Problems first arise, as they often do, from the snubbed ego of a rich and powerful man who is not accustomed to being turned down. Jack, in good faith to his new life with Rebecca, rejected a job offer to stay away from his old and lethal ways. Little did he suspect that his would-be business partners would still come, and take more tempting collateral for the completion of the deal–in the form of his wife.

Rebecca finds herself once again held captive in the hands of dangerous men, led by the corrupt and manipulative Peter Dantori, who she names “The King” for his obvious command of her assailants. Though he acts cordially enough, calling her bella and promising no one will do anything to blemish her beautiful body while she is in his captivity, she knows that “there are plenty of things a man can do to a woman that don’t leave a mark.” Her time as administrator of a psychiatric hospital has taught her that well enough.

While Peter may not deign to strike her outwardly, he isn’t around all the time, and his associates don’t share the same ideals…

Struggling with her own demons, a victim of sexual assault from her previous captivity, Rebecca must choose her battles among Peter and his henchmen in order to survive long enough for rescue. She is able to give Jack one clue through her phone before it is out of her power. Desperately she is able to send “sign with a blue dog,” the symbol she hurriedly sees as she’s hustled into the private room of a restaurant. Unfortunately for Rebecca and Jack, it’s a bird, not a dog.

What follows though, is one hell of a goose chase. Jack, while seeming to take the bait and accept the job, actually tears through Italy on a ruthless mission to track down associates of his employer and any information to steer him back to Rebecca, only working from her misleading clue.

Flashbacks to his one good friend and caretaker growing up, a priest, illuminate his torn sides of harsh punishment by nature and peaceful reasoning by nurture. While his top priority is to save his wife, Jack knows that he will probably have to complete a job she has strong objections to or kill an obscene amount of people for clues, also likely to be problematic to their new life together. Assuming Jack stays alive in his many tussles to get to her.

The process of saving her (if he’s not too late) could be the very thing that fractures their relationship completely. The killing comes easily to Jack though, deep down does he truly wish to give up this way of life either way?

The Poet Recusant will be available to purchase March 12, 2019.

Learn more about Stephanie on her Author Profile page.


Stephanie Harris is the author of psychological thrillers, and she has a special affection for all things disturbing and uncomfortable. A life-long Midwesterner and a licensed professional counselor, she spends her free time writing, day dreaming, and pursuing atypical conversation.

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