Karen Harper

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Karen Harper, author of novels of suspense set in past and present



When a small bush plane smashes through the ice at Falls Lake Lodge, it’s a chilling reminder of everything Megan Metzler has lost. Three years ago, Meg’s pilot husband died in a similar crash, a tragedy Meg and her young son, Chip, have struggled to move on from. Still, Meg does everything she can to assist when Commander Bryce Saylor arrives to investigate, even as working alongside the handsome pilot stirs up painful memories—and an attraction that catches them both off guard.

Bryce knows time is of the essence as he plunges into the frigid water in search of clues. But when vital evidence is destroyed, it soon becomes clear this downed plane was no accident. With someone tracking them from the woods, Meg and Bryce must race to unravel a mystery as indomitable as the Alaskan wilderness, or they might be the next victims to crash and burn…

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Visit Karen’s Facebook page for photos from Alaska and England. https://facebook.com/KarenHarperAuthor



Alexandra Collister came to her estranged cousins’ rustic lodge at Falls Lake, Alaska looking for a fresh start.  The area seems stunning and forbidding, but when Alex meets rugged wilderness tracker, Quinn Mantell, he offers to be her guide.  Still recovering from a toxic relationship, Alex is wary of getting too close, but when savagely deep claw marks appear outside her bedroom window, keeping her distance from Quinn is no longer an option.

Soon a body turns up exhibiting the same ruthless slash marks.  Something sinister is lurking in the woods around the Falls Lake Lodge, turning Alex’s fresh start into a brutal game of survival.

Available April 28, 2020

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Visit Karen’s Facebook page for photos from Alaska and England. https://facebook.com/KarenHarperAuthor



About this series:  Claire Britten is a forensic psychologist living in South Florida where she testifies in trials about missing or deceased suspects.  When she ruins criminal attorney Nick Markwood’s case, he knows she’s perfect for his secret project to discover and defend dead people and convict those accused of killing them:  Is it murder, suicide or an accident? 

Available May 28, 2019


Forensic psychologist Claire Markwood is not prepared for her sister, Darcy, going missing. She rushes to the butterfly sanctuary where Darcy has been working. But Darcy and some rare butterflies have vanished without a trace. Amid a flurry of mysterious leads and dead ends, Claire and her criminal lawyer husband, Nick, tap every resource they can. But the deeper they dig, the more unsettling the case becomes, dredging up old family secrets that shake the foundation of everything Claire thought to be true. Because some secrets aren't just threatening--they're deadly.

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Available November 27, 2018


When an old college roommate invites Claire Britten to join her on an archaeological dig at a Florida peat bog, it's an offer the renowned forensic psychologist can't refuse. Claire's husband, criminal lawyer Nick Markwood, is comforted to see Claire working on a prehistoric burial site instead of an open grave for once.  But Claire's investigative instincts kick in when some of the Black Bog's perfectly preserved corpses show signs of a grisly fate.  What really happened to these people?

What started as an exploration of the past soon escalates into an all-too-present danger.  Someone is watching--someone who doesn't want Claire digging into the past or Nick making connections to a current, violent murder case he's investigating.  The bog's corpses may be long dead, but if Claire and Nick don't figure out who's gunning for a fresh kill, the next bodies to be discovered will be their own.

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March 1, 2018

The truth won’t stay buried forever…

It’s been four months since forensic psychologist Claire Britten last crossed paths with danger. Finally feeling she can catch her breath, together with her partner, criminal lawyer Nick Markwood, Claire has settled into a new role, volunteering with a support group for children stressed by domestic violence. But a leisurely field trip to a wildlife sanctuary turns deadly, leaving Claire to question whether the death was an accident, suicide—or something far more sinister.

Nick gets the South Shores team on the case, hunting down anyone with a potential grudge against the sanctuary. But their investigation turns wild when other attacks come too close to home. With a hostile predator on the loose, Nick and Claire will have to race to unbury the truth before a killer wipes them from the endangered-species list for good.

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Available November 28, 2016

CHASING SHADOWS is the launch novel for Karen’s new romantic/suspense series.  Watch for books #2 (DROWNING TIDES) and #3 (FALLING DARKNESS) in February and May.

Nick gets Claire involved in his latest dangerous case, and soon they are involved in other ways.  But someone is out to stop them both at any cost.  They must work together to help Nick’s friend and preserve her Civil War era plantation house.  Claire risks everything to save their client and themselves by proving once again that “The dead still talk, if you know you to listen.”

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Available January 31st, 2017

Claire and Nick join forces in the dangerous endeavor to prove who is responsible for the ‘mangrove murder.’  But Nick’s nemesis is the ultimate danger if they don’t follow his orders. When the FBI gets involved, they have no choice but to run.

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Available April 25, 2017

At the mercy of the sea and enemies, Claire and her comrades get caught in Castro's Cuba and need to escape.  They must get into the Witness Protection Program and assume new identities, but their pursuers are closing in. Surely they'll be hidden and safe on the far distant island of Mackinac in northern Michigan--or will they?


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Listen to a one-hour radio show where Karen
and two other authors discuss "The Rise of Amish Literature."

THE COLD CREEK TRILOGY is set in Appalachia
in a small town where the enemy is us



BROKEN BONDS, Charlene’s story

Click here to browse BROKEN BONDS, the latest romantic suspense
novel from Karen.

Included in this link is the first 10% of the book for free.  And check back for other free reads over the next months.  Also, drop by Karen's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/KarenHarperAuthor for pictures, interviews and updates!

Broken Bonds by Karen Harper

January, 2015

"Harper takes on the timely and controversial topic of fracking in her third Cold Creek contemporary romantic thriller (after Forbidden Ground). Idealistic social worker Charlene Lockwood is making home visits to vulnerable children in a remote area of the Appalachians when she sees businessman Matt Rowan nearly get run off the road. She pulls him out of his truck before it plunges off the cliff—and quickly falls for Matt, the general manager of the new luxury community of Lake Azure. Who would want Matt dead? Could it be the local cult, Hear Ye, which is headed up by a nefarious man named Bright Star Monson? Or could the villain be closer to home, possibly even Matt’s seemingly generous boss? As Char and Matt search for answers, they fall deeper in love and try to stay alive. The thrilling finish takes a twist that most readers won’t see coming. While intrigue is the main driver of the story, the able, well-researched plotting and sympathetic characters will keep romance readers along for the ride."

- Publisher's Weekly

Cold Creek is a place with a dark history, especially for the Lockwoods.  Determined to move forward, Tess and Kate are making fresh starts to put terrible memories to rest and they’re hoping their middle sister, Charlene, can do the same.

Char is a social worker used to difficult situations, but she runs afoul of some locals who think she’s sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong.  She’s certain something sinister is being covered up, and when she witnesses Matt Rowan being run off the road, she know she’s right.  Working together, Matt and Char find uncovering the truth can be deadly dangerous, but living in Cold Creek won’t be safe for any of them until its secrets are revealed.

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“Harper, a master of suspense, keeps readers guessing about crime and love until the very end.”  --Booklist, starred review on Fall from Pride.

Returning to Cold Creek, Ohio is an act of courage for Tess Lockwood.  Abducted and held captive as a young girl, she is unable to remember anything about the crime that destroyed her childhood and tore her family apart.  Gabe McCord has always blamed himself for what happened to Tess.  Now he’s the county sheriff and hopes to shed new light on the cold case, especially given his growing feeling for Tess.  Tess isn’t ready to recall what happened to her, but when another child in the town goes missing, she’s certain it’s related to her abduction.  Together, Tess and Gabe work to unlock their painful memories to save a child and heal their damaged souls.

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“Masterfully drawing the reader in, Harper has delivered the best, once again.”  --Suspense Magazine on Upon a Winter’s Night.

At her sister’s wedding, Kate Lockwood is determined to break through best man Grant Mason’s defenses.  An anthropologist, Kate makes her living studying the dead.  She is particularly interested in the prehistoric Adena civilization that once called the area home.  A large burial mound sits on Mason family land, and Kate wants permission to excavate.  But Grant refuses and tells her to stay away from the mound. 

The more she researches, the more Kate believes that Grant is hiding something.  When one of his friends is killed, the couple joins forces to assist in the investigation.  Can Kate trust the man she’s come to love, or will the wrong decision be her final act?

Read an Interview with Karen Harper in THE BIG THRILL magazine

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“Strongly plotted and well written, featuring a host of interesting characters, Harper’s latest is a winner.”  --Romantic Times BOOKreviews on Below the Surface


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UPON A WINTER’S NIGHT, a romantic suspense novel set in the Home Valley.

Despite her parents’ objections, Lydia Brand helps Josh Yoder with the manger animals he rents out for Christmas tableaus and pageants. Lydia also works at her parents’ Amish furniture store, but the death of a woman in a snow storm with a note for Lydia clutched in her hand and other clues soon send Lydia—with Josh’s help—on a quest to learn more about her biological parents, who are not the Amish Brands who raised her. But someone is desperate to stop them from finding answers. When a friend who is helping is murdered and Josh come under suspicion by the sheriff, Lydia is terrified that maybe she can’t trust Josh, even if she loves him. UPON A WINTER’S NIGHT, in the season of Christmas, Lydia and Josh struggle to solve the mystery before they become the next victims.


Now available in Mass Market paperback

Cover of Finding Mercy by Karen Harper
Book #3 in Amish


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Book #2 in Amish

Fall from Pride Cover
Book #1 in Amish


Cover of Finding Mercy by Karen Harper

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RT Book Reviews TOP PICK, 4/12 stars:  “This Home Valley Amish trilogy finale brings shades of the movie Witness to the page, in a pulse-pounding, man-and-woman-on-the-run adventure.  You won’t be disappointed in the ride!”

In FINDING MERCY, the last of the three Amish friends, Ella Lantz, is forced to leave the shelter of the valley and her precious lavender fields to go on the run to Florida and New York City with a worldly man she has come to love.  Corporate whistle-blower Alex Caldwell was to be hidden with her Amish family until his high profile trial, but there is an even higher price on his head.  Ella knows the one place he may be safe.  But with Alex, everything changes.  She is shocked to find she’s fallen in love with him and that her life is endangered too.  Their future together is forbidden, but they may not even live to give it a try.

A note from the author:  Although this book is the third romantic suspense novel in this trilogy, there will be a book #4, UPON A WINTER’S NIGHT, set in the Home Valley at Christmas.  This will be out October 2013.

I’ve include one recipe below from Debbie Cook’s book A TASTE OF LAVENDER, published by Springbrook Meadows Publications, which Ella makes in the story.  You can order the book at the above website. 

Lavender Surprise Muffins


2/3 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup sour cream
1 lemon
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 stick butter – melted and coloed
1 tbsp. poppy seeds
1 to 1 and one half cup lavender
lemon curd

Direction:  Zest lemon and rub zest with the sugar to infuse.  Add remaining ingredients (except curd) and stir just until combined.  Fill muffin cups one half full and place a teaspoon plus dollop of lavender lemon curd on muffin mixture.  Fill muffin cups with remaining mix, sealing up curd.  Top with streusel topping and bake at 400 degrees for eighteen to twenty minutes.

Streusel topping:  one-fourth cup sugar, one-fourth cup and two tbsp. flour, one eighth tsp. salt.  Cut three tbsp. butter into mixture until crumbly.


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DARK CROSSINGS is an anthology of three novellas by three writers who specialize in Amish romantic suspense.  Marta Perry, Patricia Davids and I had a great time talking out how we would connect our separate stories.

In my story, The Covered Bridge, rebellious, former Amishman Ben Kline returns home after eight years.  Since he has been shunned, he is forbidden to Abigail Baughman.  But she was in love with Ben years ago and welcomes him with an open heart.  Mysterious happenings put Abby in harm’s way, forcing Ben to run to her rescue.  Suddenly everything is at risk—their community, their way of life, their future together, and their very lives.

One fun thing about writing this novella was the chance to set it in the Home Valley where I have placed my Amish trilogy, FALL FROM PRIDE, RETURN TO GRACE and (coming in November of 2012) FINDING MERCY.  Characters from those books make cameo appearances in The Covered Bridge. 



Harper’s Home Valley trilogy continues with a strong installment that deals with one woman’s struggle between wanting to make it in the outside world and staying with what she has always known.  The author’s likable, engaging characters and a strong plot lend additional strength to her ever-amazing description of Amish life. 
RT Book Reviews, March 2012

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See Hannah Esh’s Favorite Recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies


Fall from Pride Cover
Book #1 in Amish
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"Danger and romance find their way into Ohio Amish country in a lively and endearing first installment of the Amish Home Valley series by Harper (Dark Angel). Sarah Kauffman is an artist who paints murals on barns in her Amish community. When one of the barns mysteriously burns down, the local papers are quick to print the story. State arson inspector Nate MacKenzie drives down to Columbus to work on the case. He and Sarah make an unusual duo—Nate, the outsider with little knowledge of Amish culture, and Sarah, the Amish woman who often feels like an outsider in her own village. As they discover clues about the crime, they also come to know more and more about one another. Soon, disguising their feelings of attraction proves to be just as difficult as solving the mystery of the barn burnings. Sarah is both tough and sweet and Nate’s charisma is hard to deny. Readers will likely enjoy a trip into the heart of Ohio’s famed religious community and may be tempted to find out what lies ahead for this unlikely crime-solving couple. (Aug.)"
-- Publisher's Weekly, June 6, 2011

About fabulous Amish food:  Although my Amish novels are romantic suspense, I do pay homage to great Amish cooking in each book.  Book #1 features half moon pies, a fabulous but very practical dessert.  Book #2 (RETURN TO GRACE, coming March 2012,) features Whoopie pies.  I'll be including links to recipes for these special treats here on my website.

The best information and recipe I’ve found for Amish Friendship Bread is at a great website, http://www.armchair.com/recipe/back002.html.

Lydia’s mother in UPON A WINTER’S NIGHT specializes in this delicious bread and you can too.  Enjoy a piece of it while reading a Karen Harper book!

Hannah Esh’s Favorite Recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies

2 C. brown sugar
¾ C. shortening, softened not melted (Don’t replace shortening with butter or you will get a harder, flatter cookie.)
2 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons boiling water
2 ½ C. flour
2 C. oatmeal, not instant
¾ C. chocolate chips

Cream sugar and shortening.  Add eggs, salt, cinnamon and baking powder.  Add baking soda, dissolved in the boiling water.  Gradually stir in chocolate chips.  Drop batter by heaping teaspoonful onto greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 F for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Marshmallow Fluff Filling: (Place between two baked cookies as if making a sandwich.)

1 stick (1/2 C) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ C. confectioners sugar
2 C. marshmallow crème such as Marsh-mallow Fluff
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat together butter, confectioners’ sugar, marshmallow and vanilla in a bowl with electric mixer [[for the Amish it’s generator-fed electricity]] at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.

This version of the recipe is from Amish Heartland Recipes.  This is a great magazine about the Amish.  See their website at www.amish-heartland.com 

Half-Moon Pies:  The best recipe I've seen for these is on a great site for Amish cooking in general, www.amishrecipes.net.  To find the half moon pies, use this link:  www.amishrecipes.net/recipes.php/115/Amish-Half-Moon-Pie/Dessert.  You can use other fruit fillings for these.  Just follow the recipes for other pie fillings:  peach, blueberry, cherry--yum.

Marta Perry, my friend and co-author of an anthology of Amish novellas which will be out next year, shared a similar recipe with me, although she cuts her crusts into six-inch, not eight-inch circles.  She writes that these make an individual dessert that's good hot or cold, sort of like a dumpling, but not as messy.  Happy eating and reading!

Here’s short synopsis for DARK ROAD HOME:  After a murder case threatens her safety, attorney Brooke Benton seeks sanctuary in the quiet Amish community of Maplecreek.  Although the locals disagree with her worldly ways, Brooke soon manages to find a place in their lives.  But when a tragic accident turns fatal, she cannot abide by the community’s belief in absolute forgiveness.  She wants answers.

Daniel Brand left his childhood home to explore the outside world years ago.  Now he has returned to his Amish roots, and Brooke Benton does not fit into his plans.  But he slowly agrees they must bring to justice the man who killed his niece.  Together, Brooke and Daniel begin a journey along a dark road, hoping to bring peace to the small community…and maybe lead their hearts home.

DARK ROAD HOME is Fresh Pick at FreshFiction.com

Read an Excerpt from DARK ROAD HOME
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Karen Harper Books

Down River
February, 2010

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This novel, was inspired by a trip my husband and I took to Alaska several years ago.  I knew from the moment I saw the state’s majestic beauty but also its isolation and danger that I would set a romantic suspense novel in “the last American frontier.”  I was impressed by the land and its very independent people.  More than once, someone I spoke with or interviewed explained why they love Alaska and would live nowhere else.  I was surprised how many odd jobs Alaskans were willing to work to support themselves in the more rural areas.

We stayed in a rustic lodge near Denali Park that was partly the inspiration for Mitch’s lodge.  The little town of Bear Bones does not exist, but I based it on several small rural towns I saw.  My husband and I have done whitewater rafting in Colorado rather than Alaska.  Though I have not kayaked on river rapids as fierce as in this story, it gave me a feel for the Wild River.

So, in the wintry month of February when DOWN RIVER comes out, take a trip to Alaska in August.  Here’s a cover copy teaser:  Lawyer Lisa Vaughn is swept away by an unknown enemy and a raging river.  Rescued by Mitch Braxton, the man she once loved, she returns to civilization only to face dangers more deadly than in the wilds. 

Shakespeare once wrote, “First, let’s kill all the lawyers.”  In DOWN RIVER, someone seems to have that in mind.

Book group discussion questions are included with the novel.


Review at Fresh Fiction
For a printable list of Karen Harper's Books,
click here for PDF or here for Word format.

Down to the Bone Cover

“A compelling story… intricate and fascinating details of Amish life.”   --New York Times bestselling author Tami Hoag

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“Multidimensional characterization, fascinating details about Amish culture and a twisting, complex plot make for the kind of rich reading experience readers have come to expect from Harper.”  --RT Bookclub

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“Haunting suspense, tender romance and an evocative look at the complexities of Amish life—Dark Angel is simply riveting!”--New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen
(DARK ANGEL won the Mary Higgins Clark Award)

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“A glimpse into the lives of the modern-day Amish…Harper’s choice of setting and lifestyle for her heartwarming characters adds a fresh twist.”
--Publishers Weekly

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"A strong plot, a pair of well-written characters and a genuinely spooky atmosphere add up to yet another sterling effort from Harper.  Fast-paced and absorbing, this one will keep readers turning pages far into the night."
--RT Bookreviews

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble:

The Stone Forest

The Falls
Black Orchid
Dark Road Home

Contact the author at Karen.Harper.Author@gmail.com

Photo of Karen Harper by Jeffrey A. Rycus

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