Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance, Spotlight on July 31, 2015

lady emily

Title: Lady Emily’s Exotic Journey
Author: Lillian Marek
Series: Victorian Adventures, #2
Pubdate: August 4th, 2015
ISBN: 9781492602293

Synopsis

From sensible, sheltered girl

Safe in the embrace of her loving family, Lady Emily Tremaine longs to feel more intensely alive. Surely the magic and mystery of Assyria and the fabled ruins of Nineveh will bring about the transformation she seeks.

To the woman his heart desires

Scarred by his past and estranged from his noble grandfather, French adventurer Lucien Chambertin desires neither a home nor the chains of emotional attachment. He seeks only to explore the far reaches of the world. But he did not know the world contained the likes of Lady Emily—whose curiosity and sense of wonder match his own.

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Exclusive Exerpt

When the English traveled abroad, their first stop was usually Paris. This had been true for centuries, and it didn’t change in the Victorian era. Probably the most famous English visitor was the Prince of Wales, Albert Edward, known as Bertie. He fell in love with Paris when he was fifteen and his parents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, took him along on a state visit, where they were welcomed by Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie.

It was a delightful experience for him. Not only was he free from tutors and boring studies but his parents were too busy to nag him all the time, leaving him free to enjoy the excursions. At one point he confided to Napoleon, “I wish you were my father!” and he asked Eugenie if he could stay after his parents returned to England.

He wasn’t allowed to stay then, but once he was an adult he returned frequently, staying in an apartment on the Avenue de l’Opera. With his fluent French and perfect manners he was popular with the French as well. If he liked to pretend he was strolling around Paris anonymously, the French were willing to pretend this was so.

What did he like so much about Paris? The art, the music, the theater, and the food, of course. Also the nightclubs, cabarets and brothels. Perhaps most of all, Paris was a short trip and still allowed an escape from his mother’s constant disapproval.

Bertie’s Parisian escapades may explain the English picture of “Gay Paree,” the place where Englishmen could go to kick up their heels, where manners were free and morals were lax. It wasn’t that you couldn’t do the same things in London—but in Paris your neighbors wouldn’t know.

That wasn’t all there was to Paris, of course. Most visitors were far more serious. Guidebooks sniffily proclaimed that at least two weeks were needed to view just the principal sights of the city and assumed that the visitor would spend his time at cultural and historic sites. The 1867 Baedeker guide to Paris, for example, devotes twenty-four pages of small type to the collections in the Louvre, explaining that this mentions only the most interesting items.

Interestingly, that guidebook also includes the following passage:

“To ensure civility from servants, officials and others, the traveler in France is cautioned not to omit the inevitable “s’il vous plait” when making a request, or even when ordering refreshments at a café or restaurant.…It should, moreover, be borne in mind that it is customary to address persons of humble station as “Monsieur”, “Madame”, or “Mademoiselle”.

Apparently the English were not accustomed to being courteous to social inferiors.

About the Author

Lillian Marek was born and raised in New York City. At one time or another she has had most of the interesting but underpaid jobs available to English majors. After a few too many years in journalism, she decided she prefers fiction, where the good guys win and the bad guys get what they deserve.

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Posted in Giveaway, Interview, romance, Spotlight on July 30, 2015

HotPoint-VTGraphic

hot point cover

Title: Hot Point
Author: M.L. Buchman
Series: Firehawks, #3
Pubdate: August 4th, 2015
ISBN: 9781402286940

Synopsis

Pulled apart by past mistakes. Driven by a passion neither could deny.

FROM WILDFIRE TO GUNFIRE

Master mechanic Denise Conroy—with a reputation for being as steel-clad as the aircraft she keeps aloft—shuns useless flyboys who don’t know one end of a wrench from the other.

Firehawk pilot Vern Taylor—known for unstoppable charm and a complete lack of mechanical skills—proves his talent for out-of-the-box thinking with every flight. He’s a survivor and a natural-born heli-aviation firefighter.

When Denise and Vern crash together in the Central American jungle with wildfire on one side and a full-fledged military coup on the other, their newly forged partnership is tested to the max. They have each other, but not even their formidable skills combined can protect Denise and Vern from the conflagration sweeping the jungle…and their hearts.

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Mount Hood Aviation Profile

Full Name: Denise Conroy

Nickname: Stainless-Steel Conroy or Wrench (a common nickname for airplane mechanics)

Occupation: Chief Helicopter Mechanic

Height: 5’2”

Hair Color: Dusty blonde and very long

Eye Color: Blue

Age: 26

Originally from: Seattle, Washington

Describe yourself in 100 words or less:

I see things in my head. The pieces, how they fit together, why they work together, especially the bits and pieces that make a helicopter. I wish I could do the same thing with people, but none of their parts ever make sense and I can never make them fit together. When my mother died, I tried so hard to fix our family, but we became a patchwork rather than a smooth operation. I watch others, and I dream, but I know that I’m most comfortable with a machine I can understand.

What is the hardest part of your job? What is the most rewarding?

Fixing a helicopter is easy, anticipating how it will break is hard. It’s my job to keep our pilots safe, right in the middle of a wildfire. But I have to keep them safe before they get in trouble. My favorite moment is standing out on the field at the end of a day. The flight returns from battling wildfire. Everyone is there. Everyone is in formation. And when they land? They have nothing to say to me. Nothing at all.

When not working, how do you spend your time?

I was practically born in an airplane museum. I grew up playing around and eventually restoring classic aircraft. I now have one of the foremost libraries of airplane service manuals; I find the engineering endlessly fascinating.

If money was no object and you had 3 weeks of vacation what would you do with your time?

I’d tour the world’s flight museums, or as many as I could pack into three weeks. The engineering, the sheer audacity of man that we ever conceived, not just flight, but throwing a million pounds of 747 into the skies as if it was a normal task. The bravery of those thinkers can’t help but fire the imagination. I want to see what every single one of them achieved.

About the Author

M. L. Buchman has over 35 novels and an ever-expanding flock of short stories in print. His military romantic suspense books have been named Barnes & Noble and NPR “Top 5 of the year,” Booklist “Top 10 of the Year,” and RT “Top 10 Romantic Suspense of the Year.” In addition to romantic suspense, he also writes contemporaries, thrillers, and fantasy and science fiction.

In among his career as a corporate project manager he has: rebuilt and single-handed a fifty-foot sailboat, both flown and jumped out of airplanes, designed and built two houses, and bicycled solo around the world.

He is now a full-time writer, living on the Oregon Coast with his beloved wife. He is constantly amazed at what you can do with a degree in Geophysics.

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Giveaway

The giveaway is for 5 copies of Pure Heat, the first in the Firehawks series, and it will end on 8/12.

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Posted in Giveaway, romance, Spotlight on July 29, 2015
Title: Acquiring Hearts
Series: A Heart Series Novel
Author: S. Donahue
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 20, 2015

Have you ever met someone and just knew that they were the one that you were supposed to spend the rest of your life with? In S. Donahue’s Contemporary Romance novel, Acquiring Hearts, Bradley Roberts accidentally meets Giavonna Coppi, his secretary’s sister. He immediately has an attraction to her, but she is not like any of the women that he has dated before.
Gia is an independent, hardworking lawyer who’s been hurt in the past. She invested all of her time into establishing her career. When she meets Bradley, she senses the connection but is afraid to give him her all.
As Bradley finds himself wanting to spend more time with Gia, many dilemmas begin to surface. When their romance is tested, can they see past the obstacles that are standing in their way? Are they meant to be together or is it just easier for them to be apart? There’s only one way to find out…check out this heartfelt fairytale full of emotion, devotion and passion.

S. Donahue is a romance author who resides in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, with her husband and their four-year-old son. She has two book series titled The Heart Series and The Boston Kirkpatricks, and a holiday romance titled One For The Holiday. She is currently working on several novels to be released, including the highly anticipated Provoked.
When she is not writing, Donahue loves shopping, reading, and spending time with family. She loves to connect with her readers, so feel free to find her on Facebook or visit her blog at https://shannshops.wordpress.com/

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance, Spotlight on July 28, 2015

TremainesTrueLoveGraphic

Treamine's True Love

Title: Tremaine’s True Love
Author: Grace Burrowes
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis

He’s had everything he could ever want…until now

Wealthy wool magnate Tremaine St. Michael is half French, half Scottish, and all business. He prowls the world in search of more profits, rarely settling in one place for long. When he meets practical, reserved Lady Nita Haddonfield, he sees an opportunity to mix business with pleasure by making the lady his own.

Nita Haddonfield has a meaningful life tending to others, though nobody is dedicated to caring for Nita. She insists the limitations of marriage aren’t for her, then Tremaine St. Michael arrives-protective, passionate, and very, very determined to win Nita’s heart.

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Excerpt

Wealthy businessman Tremaine St. Michael has concluded that marriage to Lady Nita Haddonfield would be a prudent merger of complimentary interests for the mutual benefit and enjoyment of both parties… or some such blather.

Tremaine rapped on Lady Nita’s door, quietly, despite a light shining from beneath it. Somebody murmured something which he took for permission to enter.

“Mr. St. Michael?”

Tremaine stepped into her ladyship’s room, closed the door behind him and locked it, which brought the total of his impossibly forward behaviors to several thousand.

“Your ladyship expected a sister, or a maid with a pail of coal?”

“I wasn’t expecting you.” Lady Nita sat near the hearth in a blue velvet dressing gown. The wool stockings on her feet were thick enough to make a drover covetous. “Are you unwell, Mr. St. Michael?”

“You are not pleased to see me.” Did she think illness the only reason somebody would seek her out?

She set aside some pamphlet, a medical treatise, no doubt. No vapid novels for Lady Nita.

“I was not expecting you, sir.”

“You were not expecting me to discuss marriage with you earlier. I wasn’t expecting the topic to come up in a casual fashion either. May I sit?”

She waved an elegant hand at the other chair flanking the hearth. Tremaine settled in, trying to gather his thoughts while the firelight turned Lady Nita’s braid into a rope of burnished gold.

“You are pretty.” Brilliant place to start. The words had come out, heavily burred, something of an ongoing revelation.

“I am tall and blond,” she retorted, twitching the folds her of her robe. “I have the usual assortment of parts. What did you come here to discuss?”

Lady Nita was right, in a sense. Her beauty was not of the ballroom variety, but rather, an illumination of her features by characteristics unseen. She fretted over new babies, cut up potatoes like any crofter’s wife, and worried for her sisters. These attributes interested Tremaine. Her madonna-with-a-secret smile, keen intellect, and longing for laughter attracted him.

Even her medical pre-occupation, in its place, had some utility as well.

“Will you marry me, my lady?”

More brilliance. Where had his wits gone? George Haddonfield had graciously pointed out that Nita needed repose and laughter, and Tremaine was offering her the hand of the most restless and un-silly man in the realm.

The lady somehow contained her incredulity, staring at her hands. “You want to discuss marriage?”

“I believe I did just open that topic. Allow me to elaborate on my thesis: Lady Bernita Haddonfield, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife? I think we would suit, and I can promise you would know no want in my care.”

A proper swain would have been on his damn bended knee, the lady’s hand in his. Lady Nita would probably laugh herself to tears if Tremaine attempted that nonsense. Lady Nita picked up her pamphlet, which Tremaine could now see was written in German.

“Why, Mr. St. Michael?”

“I beg your pardon?” Tremaine was about to pitch the damned pamphlet in the fire, until he recalled that Nita Haddonfield excelled at obscuring her stronger emotions.

“Why should you marry me, Tremaine St. Michael? Why should I marry you? I’ve had other offers, you’ve made other offers. You haven’t known me long enough to form an opinion of my character beyond the superficial.”

This ability to take a situation apart, into causes, effects, symptoms, and prognosis was part of the reason she was successful as a healer. Tremaine applied the same tendencies to commercial situations, so he didn’t dismiss her questions as coyness or manipulation.

She wasn’t rejecting him either. She most assuredly was not rejecting him.

About the Author

GraceBurrowesNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes’ bestsellers include The Heir, The Soldier, Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal, Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish and Lady Eve’s Indiscretion. Her Regency romances have received extensive praise, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Grace is branching out into short stories and Scotland-set Victorian romance with Sourcebooks. She is a practicing family law attorney and lives in rural Maryland.

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Posted in 4 paws, mystery, Review, Thriller on July 27, 2015

widowssonbanner

The Widow's Son_Shawver

 

Title: The Widow’s Son

Author: Thomas Shawver

Genre: Mystery / Thriller

Synopsis

Thomas Shawver, author of The Dirty Book Murder and Left Turn at Paradise, returns to the surprisingly lethal world of rare books with a third enthralling novel featuring a most unlikely hero — antiquarian bookseller Michael Bevan.

A furious man from nearby Independence, Kansas demands that Michael Bevan return a rare first edition of the Book of Mormon, claiming that it was mistakenly sold by a disgruntled descendant of A.J. Stout. Contained on the frontispiece are a list of Ford names dating from 1845 to the present. Beside each name, save the last two, is a check mark – but what could the checks signify? With this discovery, Michael Bevan stumbles onto a trail of hatred and murder stretching back to 1844.

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Book 1 – The Dirty Book Murder is just $0.99 on Amazon (as of 7/26)

Review

This was quite an interesting mystery that involves the death of the founder of the Mormon faith, Joseph Smith. He is killed and a blood atonement is made on the killer’s family for 7 generations by one of his guards.

Fast forward to today – the last generation and the last blood atonement, but the one tasked to kill has fallen in love with his intended victim. Insert an antique book dealer that wants to help the lovebirds get away by selling the killer’s antique Book of Mormon. Let’s just say that doesn’t go smoothly.

I thought this was a good read. There were times when it seemed I was missing something, and as I go back I notice this is the 3rd book in the series. That explains a lot! I didn’t have a foundation for Michael and Josie as people or their relationship. Goes to show you should always read a series in order.

There is a lot of religious information but I think it is needed to set up the story. I don’t think the mystery really starts right away but I think the lag was needed to provide the back story. I was surprised at how things played out at the end (where it really picked up speed) and did not expect a few twists.

This was enjoyable but suggest making sure you read the first 2 books to at least understand the personal relationships.

We give this 4 paws up.

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About the Author

Thomas Shawver is a former marine officer, lawyer, and journalist with American City Business Journals. An avid rugby player and international traveler, Shawver owned Bloomsday Books, an antiquarian bookstore in Kansas City.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance, Spotlight on July 26, 2015

A-Radical-Arrangement---Tour-Graphic

radical arrangement cover

Title: A Radical Arrangement

Author: Jane Ashford

Pubdate: August 4th, 2015

ISBN: 9781492602293

A classic Regency romance from beloved author Jane Ashford!

Brash and Handsome

Sir Justin Keighley is all wrong for a proper young lady like Margaret Mayfield. Everyone knows he is shocking in his opinions, arrogant in his manner, and completely without respect for the common decencies of civilized society. Margaret absolutely will not marry him—no matter what her parents say.

Beautiful and Shy

Margaret was everything Sir Justin detested in a woman—timid, sheltered, and obedient to a fault. It’s not until she runs away from him that he finds he must give chase. Margaret is discovering she can be bold and rebellious—intrepid enough to do what she must, and more exciting than Justin ever imagined possible. She’s the last woman he would have expected to lead them both into uncharted territory…

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Excerpt

Sir Justin Keighley stood in the doorway, looking them over with a slight, satirical curve of his lips. He wore, like the other gentlemen, conventional evening dress, but this superficial similarity was their only common ground. Ralph Mayfìeld, Philip Manningham, the squire, and John Twitchel were none of them unattractive men or negligible personalities. Each, in his own sphere, had a certain dignity and authority, and all had the confidence that respect engendered. Yet somehow, the moment he entered the room and before he spoke a word, Justin Keighley eclipsed them. It was not charm. Indeed, the newcomer did not look at all pleasant or ingratiating. And it was not mere social position. Keighley held an ancient baronetcy and a substantial fortune, but any of twenty men his hosts were accustomed to meeting ranked above him. Ralph Mayfield could not have said why he felt subdued as he came forward to greet his final guest.

The squire’s wife might have enlightened him. As she had told a friend at a Bath assembly two years ago, “Justin Keighley is a vastly attractive man, my dear. And not just to women. All the young men ape him, my son among them. I don’t know just how it is, but he has a great influence without appearing to seek it in the least. Indeed, sometimes I think he dislikes the idea. But it goes on. It’s something in his manner. No doubt you’ve noticed it yourself. He makes you look at him.” Mrs. Camden had been embarrassed by this speech, but it was quite true. And Keighley’s attraction was the more mysterious because he was not conventionally handsome. Though tall and well made, with broad shoulders and a good leg, his features were rough—a jutting nose and heavy black brows that nearly obscured expressive hazel eyes. And he took no care with his dress, a rarity in an elegant age. His coats were made so that he could shrug himself into them without help; his collars did not even approach his jaw; and he had once been observed in White’s with a distinct thumb mark on his Hessian boots, giving one of the dandy set what he described as “a shuddering palpitation.”

But these sartorial eccentricities were outweighed by Sir Justin’s political influence and sagacity. He was an intimate of the Prince Regent and Lord Holland, and important in the Whig Party. These facts did not explain his fascination for a great number of people, chiefly women, who hadn’t the slightest interest in politics, but they amply justified the Mayfìelds’ attention and suppressed antipathy.

“Good evening,” Keighley said to Mr. Mayfield in a deep, resonant voice. “I hope I haven’t kept you waiting.”

“Not at all, not at all. Come in. You know everyone, I think.”

Sir Justin bowed his head with a sardonic smile. He always met precisely the same people at his yearly dinner with the Mayfields, presumably those they were certain he could not “corrupt” with his aberrant opinions, and he always felt the same infuriated boredom. For the fiftieth time he wondered why he came. There was no hope of amusement or chance of advantage here. The Mayfields and their friends were just the sort of smug, resolutely conventional people he despised. They held to the views their fathers had bequeathed them and attacked all others. If one tried to make them change even a fraction, they shook their heads and muttered of treason.

He looked around the room. The only addition this year was the Mayfìelds’ daughter. He had forgotten her name, but he remembered that she had come out last season. She looked as one would have expected: a pallid, simpering creature. Keighley shrugged. Politics forced him to endure fools occasionally. The Prince would want to know the climate of opinion here in Devon. He supposed he could get through this evening as he had previous ones, through a combination of stoicism and bitter inner laughter.

Margaret watched him with awed apprehension as he settled beside Mrs. Camden and began to chat with her about London. She had never actually spoken to Sir Justin; her mother had seen to that. But she had heard him talked of so many times that she felt she knew what he would say in response to a wide variety of remarks. It would always be shocking. She gazed at him in an effort to understand how any man could be so utterly depraved in thought and action, almost expecting his rugged face to contort in a grimace of malevolence and his chiseled lips to emit some horrifying revelation.

Suddenly Sir Justin looked up and met her eyes from across the room. He seemed at first startled to find her staring, then his mocking smile appeared again, and he raised one black brow, holding her gaze. Embarrassed, Margaret tried to look away, but something in his hazel eyes prevented it. A spark glinted there, and she felt a kind of tremor along her nerves. It was utterly unfamiliar and unsettling, like a violent thrill of feeling. How could a stranger affect her so? This must be fear, she thought; I am afraid of him. She began to tremble, but still she could not turn her head away. He seemed to understand her reaction and, amused, to prolong the contact on purpose.

Finally Keighley laughed and bent to answer some question of Mrs. Camden’s. Margaret jerked back in her chair and clasped her shaking hands so tightly that the knuckles whitened. He was a dreadful man. She would not speak to him, and if she ever saw him again, she would run away.

About the Author

Jane Ashford, a retired teacher and editor, is now a beloved author of historical and contemporary romances. She has been published in various parts of the world, including Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, Spain, and of course the U.S. Jane is also a two-time RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award nominee. Born in Ohio, Jane now divides her time between Boston and Los Angeles.

Website

Giveaway

The giveaway ends on August 18th and the prize is a set of Jane Ashford books (US/CAN entries only)

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Spotlight on July 25, 2015

chef maurice wrath grape

Chef Maurice and the Wrath of Grapes 500x800

Chef Maurice and the Wrath of Grapes (Chef Maurice Culinary Mysteries Book 2)
Genre
Cozy Mystery (English Village, Culinary)
File Size: 489 KB
Print Length: 168 pages
Publisher: Purple Panda Press (July 13, 2015)
ASIN: B00WET7X64

Synopsis

An invitation to dinner at the home of renowned wine collector Sir William Burton-Trent soon finds Chef Maurice in the middle of an all-too-real murder mystery party, when Sir William is found dead in his own wine cellar.

The guests are acting all innocent, but which one is only playing the part? The pushy Californian film director? The seductive French winemaker?
Or could it be, against all narrative decency, the butler who did it?

With the help of food critic friend Arthur Wordington-Smythe, a large kipper sandwich, and the newly formed Cochon Rouge Wine Appreciation Society, Chef Maurice must get to the bottom of matters before events turn decidedly sour…

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About the Author

JALangJ.A. Lang is a British mystery writer, and author of the Chef Maurice Mysteries series.

She lives in Oxford, England, with her husband, an excessive number of cookbooks, and a sourdough starter named Bob.

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Giveaway – click on the image to be taken to the giveaway on the Author’s website

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance, Spotlight on July 24, 2015

the great estate cover

 

Title: The Great Estate
Author: Sherri Browning
Series: Thornbrook Park, #3
Pubdate: August 4th, 2015
ISBN: 9781402286858

 

Pulled apart by past mistakes. Driven by a passion neither could deny.

Sophia Thorne was young and inexperienced when she married the dashing Earl of Averford…and through dark and troubled times, their relationship nearly came to an end. Now she’s determined to transform herself into the fiery, ardent lover she always wanted to be, giving them a second chance at love… before they’re lost to each other forever.

It took nearly losing Sophia for Gabriel to realize he had allowed his love for his great estate to distract him from his beautiful wife. But that time is over. Despite all the obstacles standing in their way, Gabriel vows to teach Sophia what it is to truly love…and to be loved by a husband devoted heart and soul to her every desire.

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Thoughts from the Author

Perfect for fans of Downton Abbey, the third in Sherri Browning’s Thornbrook Park series, The Great Estate, comes out this August! To celebrate her new release, Sherri’s agreed to answer some questions for us about herself and her career as an author.

How did you become interested in writing about the Edwardian period and how do you do your research for the time period?

I’ve written Regency-set romance, but it’s harder to justify some actions or frames of mind in Regency-era women. I can give my Edwardian women more room to explore their places in the world beyond being a wife or mother, and more sexual freedom, too.

To do research I travel. I love visiting old estates that have been kept in their original condition. I recently went through the Frick Museum, former residence of Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919), with author Julia London in New York City. I like to read fiction written in the same time period I’m writing in to pick up some ideas of setting, like novels by E.M Forster or Edith Wharton. I also use Pinterest and Tumblr to find some pictures of location or period-specific clothes, art, and architecture.

Excerpt

Thornbrook Park. A warm wave of pride filled him at the sight as Dale drove them up the winding way. The chimneys appeared first over the crest of the hill, followed by the slate roof, and finally the rose stone facade. How could he have stayed away so long?

Sophia wouldn’t be expecting him. He planned to surprise her, perhaps persuade Finch not to even announce his return. He would simply appear at the dinner hour, dressed to the nines, and act as if he had been there the entire time. Darling, I believe the quail is cooked perfectly, but not quite the same as when I shoot it myself… No, it wouldn’t do. She hated it when he left her alone to go off hunting. He’d always known it, but he couldn’t seem to give it up. Old habits. In truth, he couldn’t wait to get his boots on, the good English ones he’d left behind, take up his rifle, and stomp off into the woods. His woods. Alas, there would be no more hunting. At least, not as frequently, and certainly not right away. Not until he was certain that he wouldn’t upset Sophia further. Not until she forgave him.

Perhaps he could suggest other activities that they could do together? His brow shot up. He knew just what activities he had in mind, but they would have to work up to that. Slowly. He meant to court her properly, one step at a time.

“Now, Dale, I don’t want a fuss,” he said. “It’s good to be home but no need for a celebration. I mean to slip in quietly.”

About the Author

Sherri Browning writes historical and contemporary romance fiction, sometimes with a paranormal twist. She is the author of critically acclaimed classic mash-ups Jane Slayre and Grave Expectations. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Sherri has lived in western Massachusetts and Greater Detroit Michigan, but is now settled with her family in Simsbury, Connecticut.

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Giveaway

5 copies of The Great Estate

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Posted in Guest Post, mystery, Spotlight on July 23, 2015

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death by didgerooDeath by Didgeridoo (Jamie Quinn Mystery Book 1)
Self Published
Print Length: 111 pages
ASIN: B00GVJ4WOY

Synopsis

Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, still reeling from the death of her mother, is pulled into a game of deception, jealousy, and vengeance when her cousin, Adam, is wrongfully accused of murder. It’s up to Jamie to find the real murderer before it’s too late. It doesn’t help that the victim is a former rock star with more enemies than friends, or that Adam confessed to a murder he didn’t commit.

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case of the killer divorceThe Case of the Killer Divorce (Jamie Quinn Mystery Book 2)
Self Published
Print Length: 109 pages
ASIN: B00HJE3UES

Synopsis

Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, has returned to her family law practice after a hiatus due to the death of her mother. It’s business as usual until a bitter divorce case turns into a murder investigation, and Jamie’s client becomes the prime suspect. When she can’t untangle truth from lies, Jamie enlists the help of Duke Broussard, her favorite private investigator, to try to clear her client’s name. And she’s hoping that, in his spare time, he can help her find her long-lost father…

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peril coverPeril in the Park (Jamie Quinn Mystery Book 3)
Self Published
Print Length: 140 pages
ASIN: B00KRQ0E1M

Synopsis

There’s big trouble in the park system. Someone is making life difficult for Jamie Quinn’s boyfriend, Kip Simons, the new director of Broward County parks. Was it the angry supervisor passed over for promotion? The disgruntled employee Kip recently fired? Or someone with a bigger ax to grind? If Jamie can’t figure it out soon, she may be looking for a new boyfriend because there’s a dead guy in the park and Kip has gone missing! With the help of her favorite P.I., Duke Broussard, Jamie must race the clock to find Kip before it’s too late.

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jamie quinn box setJamie Quinn Mystery Collection: Box Set Books 1-3
Print Length: 338 pages
ASIN: B00NB78KDS
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Thoughts from the Author

THEN, WHY ARE YOU HERE?

Picture yourself in the stands at a baseball game, not just any baseball game, but the last game of the 2014 World Series–winner takes all. You’ve invested a lot to be here, having spent a small fortune on a ticket (that was very hard to come by) and an entire day of your life driving, parking, and fighting the crowds, all so that you could watch this game. The man sitting next to you, clearly a Giants fan, is decked out in so much orange and black that he could be an advertisement for Halloween. In between cheering for his team, your seatmate observes how quiet you are and asks: “Hey, man, who are you rooting for?”

“Nobody in particular,” you answer.

The man is flabbergasted. “Then, why are you here?”

Why, indeed? When you have no stake in the outcome, no skin in the game, why would you stick around? That is the reader’s dilemma. Authors are asking a lot of them: to invest money in a book and to spend precious time reading it, but what’s in it for them? What do they get out of the experience? For a reader to enjoy a book, to be satisfied with his expenditure of time and money, he doesn’t necessarily have to like the characters or have anything in common with them, but he must be invested in them. In other words, he needs to be rooting for somebody, to care about at least one character’s plight, to wonder how that character will resolve the issues in his life and whether he will learn anything along the way.

A good example of the reader’s dilemma is The Kite Runner, a 2003 novel set in Afghanistan where the protagonist, Amir, sacrifices (spoiler alert!) his friend Hassan by not rescuing him from his attackers. Amir not only justifies his behavior, but takes out his guilt by treating Hassan horribly, causing him to be ostracized, and possibly ruining his life. This protagonist is not likeable or admirable and we are universally appalled by his actions, so, why do we keep reading to the end? Why was this book a runaway bestseller? With an initial printing of 50,000 copies, this book went on to sell seven million copies and was also made into a movie. Everyone loves Harry Potter, the boy wizard, but nobody liked the jealous, weak and morally-bankrupt Amir. Even when Amir tried to redeem himself years later by helping Hassan’s son, the reader felt no respect for him. Too little, too late, we thought. But we read on–and not just to find out how Hassan’s life turned out. We kept reading because we were both fascinated and horrified, convinced that we would have done the right thing if faced with the same choices. In other words, that we were not Amir! But then, we wondered whether we would have been too scared to try to rescue our friend from his vicious attackers, whether we would have been willing to admit that we stood there and did nothing. The novel struck a chord because it made us explore our own characters; it made us think about how we would act in such an impossible situation. How would we deal with jealousy? With guilt? Would we be willing to risk our lives to redeem ourselves or to right a terrible wrong?

As readers, we were invested, big time! But then, just when we thought the stakes couldn’t possibly get any higher and that Amir’s regret and guilt couldn’t get any worse, we learned that Hassan wasn’t only a servant boy, he was also Amir’s illegitimate brother! Gut-wrenching stuff, for sure. And that’s the answer to our question–we stick around because of EMOTION. A novel without emotion is like a paper doll. It can be a beautiful paper doll, but it will never be three-dimensional no matter how hard it tries. Clever dialogue, sharp prose, interesting characters, lovely scenery, may be enough to hold our interest, but we will always leave feeling dissatisfied.

My Jamie Quinn Mystery Series opens with my protagonist Jamie Quinn mourning the death of her mother. Nothing can pull her out of her depression until her aunt calls in a panic because her disabled son Adam, Jamie’s cousin, has been accused of murdering his music teacher. The love Jamie has for her aunt and cousin, the guilt she feels for not being there for Adam in the past, for not being there for her aunt in the present, all motivate her to come back to life. In this first book, Death by Didgeridoo, there’s enough guilt to go around, as well as some jealousy, revenge and regret, but there’s also playfulness in the dialogue and some fun scenes between characters. Emotion gives a story genuineness, but not necessarily realism. Until I wrote my book, I’d never heard of anyone else being killed by a didgeridoo, so that’s kind of far out there, but the interplay between Jamie and the other characters, as well as the doubt and insecurity Jamie expresses are sentiments the reader can relate to.

To sum up, I will quote you an Amazon book review I once read: “I wasted eight hours of my life reading this book and I’m writing a review to save you from the same fate!” What a kind soul, to want to save strangers from wasting their time! As an author offering advice to new authors, I hope to do the same because, if you’re not going to write with emotional resonance, then, why are you here?

About the Author

barbara vAward-winning author, Barbara Venkataraman is an attorney and mediator specializing in family law and debt collection.

She is the author of “Teatime with Mrs. Grammar Person”; “The Fight for Magicallus,” a children’s fantasy; a humorous short story entitled, “If You’d Just Listened to Me in the First Place”; and two books of humorous essays: “I’m Not Talking about You, Of Course” and “A Trip to the Hardware Store & Other Calamities,” which are part of the “Quirky Essays for Quirky People” series. Both books of humorous essays won the “Indie Book of the Day” award.

Her latest works are “Death by Didgeridoo,” first in the Jamie Quinn series, “The Case of the Killer Divorce,” the second Jamie Quinn mystery, and, just out, “Peril in the Park,” the latest in the popular Jamie Quinn series. Coming soon, “Engaged in Danger”–the next Jamie Quinn mystery!

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Posted in Giveaway, mystery, Spotlight on July 23, 2015

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A Date With Death: Cozy Private Investigator Series
(Flora Lively Mysteries Book 2)

Publisher: Mirrorball Books (April 15, 2015)
Print Length: 183 pages
ASIN: B00W7GUVQI

Synopsis

Amateur sleuth Flora Lively is back to investigate another mystery, and this time the body count is rising …

When Flora’s best friend returns to England with a Spanish film crew in tow, Flora is thrilled to land a job on set at a glamorous country house. But when a member of the crew is brutally murdered, and the priceless Infanta Tiara stolen, suspicion falls on everyone at Hanley Manor – including someone far too close to home.

When an arrest is made, Flora is plunged deep into a puzzling mystery, with no idea who she can and cannot trust. Surrounded by suspicion and bitter rivalries, she must keep one eye over her shoulder at all times. Because the murderer is about to strike again …

A Date With Death is a cozy English village mystery, ideal for readers who love cozy reads with romance and humor, and British mysteries on Kindle.

(Book #2 in the Flora Lively British cozy mysteries series)

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Excerpt

Flora said goodbye to Celeste and Eduardo, then headed back down the main staircase, her hand trailing along the polished curved banister, enjoying the feel of the old wood under her fingers and imagining the countless hands that had done the same over the last two hundred or so years. She figured she’d retrace her steps to get back out to the garden, then head across the lawn and go into the trees at the same point Sidney and Marshall had disappeared from view. This Nook place couldn’t be that difficult to find.

At the bottom of the stairs she saw Sidney heading towards her. He was carrying a large silver tray piled with dirty dishes and muttering to himself. Flora, on an impulse she didn’t understand or analyse, ducked into a recessed doorway next to a huge Chinese-patterned urn. Sidney strode past, still muttering. He stopped across the hall in front of a closed door, then reached into a deep pocket with his free hand, pulling out an enormous ring of keys. He rattled it like a jailer, then grabbed a key and jabbed it into the keyhole. As he swung the door open and hoisted the tray through it, Flora caught sight of another long corridor, dimly lit and narrow. Then the butler kicked the door closed with his heel, and Flora heard it being locked again from the other side. She frowned. Odd to keep a service door locked like that. Wouldn’t it make life difficult for him and the other staff? Every one of them would have to have a key, for a start, and locking and re-locking doors all the time didn’t seem very safe from a fire safety point of view. Wouldn’t it be simpler to put a No Entry sign up and leave it at that?

She stepped out of the doorway. Weird. Maybe the family who owned Hanley Manor insisted on keeping doors locked, to stop prying eyes. A shuffling sound to her left caught Flora’s attention, and she turned to see a young woman step out of an alcove only five or six feet from where Flora herself had been hiding. The woman’s eyes flashed in alarm when she saw Flora; she whirled around in a mass of wild, dark hair and fled into the music room. Flora followed, but there was no sign of the woman in either the music room or the next room along.
‘Hello,’ Flora said. Her voice sounded hollow and too loud in the vast space. Every wall was crammed with ancient paintings, some so dark and discoloured it was impossible to discern colours or features. She turned in a circle, wondering if the woman was hiding in here. Which would be ridiculous, of course. The faces on the closest paintings stared back at her, their expressions either bleak or sneering. The silence felt so absolute it was almost a noise in itself.

Flora retraced her steps, and found her way back to the small lobby area with the benches and the coat racks. She stepped out of the dark house into the sunlit gardens with a sense of pure relief. And there was Marshall, slouching on the lawn, kicking at something in the grass, his hands shoved deep into the pockets of his cargo shorts, familiar and incongruous as hell. Flora smiled, then headed over to greet him.

Hey, Lively,’ he said, looking up and shielding his eyes from the sun. ‘You are gonna love where we’re sleeping.’

About the Author

joanne phillipsJoanne Phillips lives in rural Shropshire, England, with her husband and young daughter. She’s the author of romantic comedies Can’t Live Without, The Family Trap and Cupid’s Way, and the Flora Lively series of contemporary mysteries. Can’t Live Without was an Amazon top 100 bestseller in 2012 and her books regularly appear on category bestseller lists. Before becoming a writer, Joanne had jobs as diverse as hairdresser, air hostess and librarian, but now divides her time between writing and finding creative ways to avoid housework. She’s a fan of super-dark chocolate, iced coffee and Masterchef.

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