Sink or Swim

Sink or Swim mystery suspense novel

Made the Nook Top 20 and was a Nook Mystery Bestseller. Also a #1 Amazon Kindle Bestseller in the Women Sleuths and Romantic Suspense categories.

A lively mystery from a GalleyCat Mystery & Thriller bestselling author/Malice Domestic Grant recipient. Personal trainer Cassidy Novak garners popularity and fame while starring in a hit reality show. After she catches the attention of a stalker, her well-ordered life turns topsy-turvy. As Cassidy's competitors disappear one-by-one, she teams up with Zach Gallagher, the charming photographer tasked to record her personal moments for a local newspaper. Is Zach trustworthy? He shadows her as easily as the stalker. Cassidy hates the bizarre rules in this guessing game, but when her stalker forces a showdown, she plays to win...

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Also available as part of the Young Ladies of Mystery Boxed Set


Cassidy sat poised in her chair as former contestants filed onto the soundstage at WBC in New York. Together, the studio audience and television viewers had watched the recorded footage of her walking the plank. Gabriel would now interview the competitors from the inaugural season one final time. More importantly, he would announce her prize. If it erased most of her debts, then it would at least make this whole embarrassing experience worthwhile.

Cassidy’s heart kicked in her chest and sweat moistened her brow. As one of her old teammates entered, her heart rate skyrocketed for a different reason. Josh Sanchioni slid into a bucket seat, carrying himself stiffer than normal in his sharp gray suit. Studio lights caught his sunbleached strawberry blonde waves, brightening the reddish gold tints.


Cassidy slipped her gaze to his leather shoes. If Josh hadn’t been engaged, they could have been an item. Instead, they’d been good friends until that one evening when the cameras were off and they almost kissed. They’d both realized their mistake and backed away. Things were strained until Josh walked the plank a week later. Tonight, not only did Cassidy have to face Josh, she would probably meet his fiancée.

Her cheeks heating, Cassidy focused on the competitor beside Josh as a distraction. Adam Horton sat erect, hands folded in the lap of his olive green khakis. He wasn’t military, but he dressed like an Army wannabe. His reptilian eyes drilled into Cassidy, his angular face revealing the shape of bones underneath. A blond goatee darkened his pointy chin. Cassidy shuddered involuntarily. Adam never said much, but he made her uncomfortable just the same. She’d sense someone watching her on the ship and Adam would be lurking in the hatches. Luckily, he only lasted on the show two weeks.

“Before we catch up with our former contestants, I’d like to congratulate Cassidy on a job well done,” Gabriel said in the middle of the circle.

Applause thundered from the audience and a wave of excitement crested over her. Cassidy offered a smile for the cameras as Gabriel finished, “I’m proud to present you with your prize – a luxury vacation for two to the Bahamas on a real cruise ship with $3,000 spending money!”

Dumbfounded, Cassidy watched as a video depicted a majestic ocean liner on the large TV screen. “Set sail with us to the Bahamas, where you can swim with dolphins in turquoise waters, relax on sugar white beaches and explore the island’s history as a haven for pirates,” said the female announcer in a voice-over. “On your voyage, you can enjoy our ten lounges, two outdoor pools, luxury spa, casino, cinema, dynamite shows, and glass walls and elevators that get you up close to the ocean views.”

Another boat? More ocean views? Were they friggin’ serious? A frozen smile hovered on Cassidy’s lips. Too bad she’d already seen the counselor that afternoon and he’d attested that all her screws were still in place. This travesty might be enough to unhinge her.

As the video montage ended, boos erupted from the crowd and several people jumped to their feet.
“No fair!”
“Give her a real prize!”

The thrill of the jeers rippled down Cassidy’s spine, their zealousness stunning her. Granted, her little brother had been the heckler to yell “Cheapskates,” but the other supporters weren’t relatives.

“You seem to have some disappointed fans,” Gabriel remarked as a camera panned the crowd. “What do you have to say about the prize, Cassidy?”

She bit down her real opinion and replied, “I’m overwhelmed people care, but this cruise looks a lot more relaxing than my time on Sink or Swim.”

“We knew you’d enjoy it,” Gabriel said. “Who wouldn’t welcome an opportunity to be pampered on a luxury ocean liner?”

Cassidy scoffed inwardly. Perhaps someone who’d been trapped on a schooner for three months.

After the broadcast, Cassidy escaped the sound stage before she blurted out something ungrateful. She glimpsed a production assistant leading her mother, brother, and other special guests off the set, weaning them away from the audience members who’d obtained free tickets for the taping but weren’t invited to the cast party.

When Adam touched her arm in the hallway, the hairs bristled on end.
“I missed you, Cassidy,” he said. “I’ve been counting the days till this reunion.”
“Hi, Adam,” she said with resignation. “Good to see you.”

Reggie lumbered by them in a dark brown suit befitting a Mafia hit man with his broad shoulders and sunken neck. He pivoted and walked backwards. “Hey, Horty, I’m surprised you showed. What’d you last, two episodes? Remember when you spilled paint on the deck and cost our team fifty points? What a klutz.” Laughing, he swaggered down the hallway.

Adam’s mouth pinched into a scowl and red flushed up to his peach fuzz crew cut. “You should have gotten first place. Not him.”

It was nice to be supported, but this guy was too intense. Still, he didn’t deserve to be the butt of Reggie’s ridicule.

“Thanks,” Cassidy said. “Don’t listen to Reggie, he’s a creep. We all thought so. Catch you later, okay? I’ve got to find my family.”

She ducked downstairs to the cafeteria. Balloons and streamers transformed the surroundings into a glittering cascade of blue and gold, the colors in the Sink or Swim logo SOS.

Cassidy accepted a wine glass from a black-coated waiter and glanced around for her mother and fourteen-year-old brother. They’d reunited briefly at the hotel that afternoon, sharing a few hugs and a quick lunch, then Cassidy had to rush off for counseling, hair and makeup. Her family was probably getting a VIP tour of the studio.

Cassidy found herself near a blue and gold decorated table, showcasing an elaborate sheet cake of the Atlantic Devil, her home for the past several weeks. She downed her white wine in one long gulp.

Gabriel slithered up beside her. His dark tailored sports coat hugged his slender build. “I’ve been meaning to tell you, I’m sorry for your loss.” He sounded as if he was extending condolences at a funeral. He hadn’t been that sorry when he’d ordered her to the plank.

Reviews:Stephenie LaGrossa on Survivor: Palau, Guatemala, Heroes vs. Villains wrote:

“Being on a hit reality show not once, but three times, made Sink or Swim really hit home for me… It was an easy read and extremely well written… I would love to see it come out as a movie one day!”

Michelle Costa on Big Brother 6 wrote:

“After being on a reality show, Big Brother 10 on CBS and Showtime, reading Sink or Swim made me feel like I was Cassidy. People don’t ever know what happens behind the scenes. I thought it was a great read and kept me in suspense.”

Shawne Morgan on The Amazing Race 16, wrote:

"I thought the author did a great job in giving the behind-the-scenes of the process, and various scenarios that reality TV stars may experience – during and after they’ve appeared on air.”

on Coffee Time Romance & More:

“If you need help getting through a murderous workout (pun intended) this book is a wonderful, clever and entertaining distraction. The identity of the stalker left me guessing until the end, and believe me that is a refreshing and pleasant surprise. Congratulations, Ms. Juba, for giving us a great read.”

on Romance Junkies:

“By incorporating well-developed characters, reality TV, murder, mystery, believable dialogue, complex characters, plot twists and a bit of romance all together in a compelling, fast-paced story, Ms. Juba has penned a novel that will keep readers glued to the pages, unable to put it down until they reach the satisfying conclusion.”

Fran Lewis on wrote:

"Once again author Stacy Juba has penned a novel that is definitely not going to sink, it will do more than just swim: It will rise to the top with no lifeboats needed."

on Ariesgrl Book Reviews:

"Juba demonstrates an exquisite talent for leading her readers through a maze only for them to discover a completely different outcome.”

on Book-Club-Queen:

"Stacy Juba has done it again! There was action, mystery and romance all tied into one very well-written story.”

on The Masquerade Crew:

“Sink or Swim is a novel with a good pace, a strong plot, and memorable characters. If you’re looking for a fast and easy romantic suspense novel with an independent female protagonist, this is the book for you.”

on Kelsey's Book Corner:

"Love, love Cassidy! Juba has done a great job making this book seem like something that had actually happened. I never knew who the actually stalker was (which is a HUGE plus in my book). The book has a few twists and turns that keep it interesting and builds up to a great conclusion."

on Peeking Between the Pages:

“This novel really surprised me and had me flipping pages faster than ever to find out what was going to happen. It’s a thriller, mystery and just a plain good read all rolled into one that kept me guessing throughout.”

on My Reading Room:

“If you enjoy a good mystery with great characters then Sink or Swim is the book for you...An excellent book for a weekend or weeknight read!”

on Juniper Grove:

"Sink or Swim is a quick read and is one of those books that sucks you in and won’t let you stop reading until the very end.”

on Tic Toc Reviews:

"This is a wonderful and fast-paced, with a cast of characters that could rival Survivor or The Amazing Race...The romance is just right and tagged as an aside to the actual story with is about the dangers of celebrity. A satisfying read.”

Jen Blood on BloodWrites Mystery Picks of the Week wrote:

“Another super-fun summer read by Juba, who makes romantic mystery/suspense deliciously fun – this time, by taking on reality TV with a sinister twist…”

Kathy Hiester on Bookworm Baby wrote:

The end was a complete shocker, and considering I usually guess who the ending by the middle of the book or movie, I really enjoyed being surprised... This was an excellent book.”

on Big Al's Books and Pals:

“Juba takes full advantage of the potential in this premise to maintain the tension throughout.”

on This Is From My Heart:

“The suspense was constantly building and you will be working hard throughout the entire book to figure out who did it. Don’t do that to your self because you will never be able to figure it out but isn’t that part of the fun?”

on A Book and a Dish:

"This is a very enjoyable book to read. I found myself wanting to read 'just one more page' before going to bed. Can't wait to read more by this author."

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