Posted in 4 paws, fiction, Giveaway, Historical, Review on December 8, 2017

 

UP NEAR DALLAS

Winds of Change — Book III

by

GINA HOOTEN POPP

  Genre:  Texas Historical Fiction / Romance

Date of Publication: November 12, 2017

Number of Pages: 307

Scroll down for the giveaway!

The year is 1934. Economic turbulence rocks the country. And record drought dries up crops, along with the spirits of every farmer south of the Mason-Dixon. Yet for sixteen-year-old Mick McLaren, life is good as he takes to the open road to chase his dream of being a musician. Riding boxcars, hitchhiking, walking and driving his way across Depression Era Texas, he finds not only himself, but the love of a girl from Dallas named Margaret. Along the way, they befriend Cowboy Larson, a Delta Blues guitarist. Together the three teens, from three very different worlds, come-of-age as their life-changing journey carries them through killer dust storms, extreme poverty, and the unprecedented gangster activity of the Dirty Thirties.

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This book takes you on a journey during the height of the great depression and gives us a peek into how people came together as a community to help those hurting the worst. But it also hits on some of the history of the time – like Bonnie & Clyde and how their actions bring together a young couple that may not have met otherwise – Mick and Margaret.

While there is a multitude of positive moments, it would not be a well rounded book without hitting on some touchy topics like racism and perceived guilt. However, the characters take everything in stride and actually stand up for their actions which causes others to rethink their initial reactions to what they heard. It doesn’t mean that every situation has a happy ending, but it might make one think about how they are treating others based on gossip or sensationalized news stories.

And this book wouldn’t be complete without some romance. There is Mick and Margaret, Cowboy and Saint, and even Mick’s parents – Lucky and Antonia. Each couple has their own issues to overcome and round out the story.

Each chapter of this book is told from a different character’s voice. I felt like this really helped engage me as a reader because it allowed me to look into their thoughts, dreams and actions which added layers of complexity to the story. There are even some quirky characters that are very lovable such as Nana Michelle and an incident with a dust storm and a cow. You’ll have to read the book to find out more about that!

Overall a very enjoyable book and while it is the 3rd book in this series, you do not have to read the first two to understand this book. However the first two books are about Mick’s Grandfather and Father, so it might make some actions of Lucky (Mick’s father) more understandable.

We give this 4 paws up.

A native Texan, Gina Hooten Popp was born in Greenville and now lives in Dallas with her husband and son. Along with writing novels, Gina has enjoyed a long career as a professional writer in advertising. Her debut novel THE STORM AFTER was a finalist in the 2014 RONE Awards, and her just-released book CHICO BOY: A NOVEL was a 2016 Medalist Winner in the New Apple Annual Book Awards. Recently, her novel LUCKY’S WAY, about a young fighter pilot from Houston, was endorsed by the United States World War One Centennial Commission.

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Check out the other blogs on this tour

12/4/17 Guest Post Books and Broomsticks
12/5/17 Review Hall Ways Blog
12/6/17 Excerpt Texas Book Lover
12/7/17 Playlist The Clueless Gent
12/8/17 Review StoreyBook Reviews
12/9/17 Notable Quotable A Page Before Bedtime
12/10/17 Excerpt Texan Girl Reads
12/11/17 Review Missus Gonzo
12/12/17 Author Interview The Librarian Talks
12/13/17 Review Reading by Moonlight

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on December 8, 2017

Mister Mottley and the Dying Fall
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Incorrigible Publishing (October 27, 2017)

Synopsis

The only way out is a long way down.

Edmund Mottley, Specialist in Discreet Enquiries, is in a precarious position: his old flame Susan needs his help. Her new fiance is accused of murder, and she wants Mottley to clear his name.

Mottley would rather jump off a cliff than get involved, but when Susan is threatened by a shadowy crime syndicate, Mottley leaps to her aid.

Mottley and Baker, his intrepid valet, pursue the case to an island of otherworldly beauty. But the island is haunted by secrets, treachery, madness, and … something more.

Every clue crumbles under their feet, pushing Mottley’s powers of deduction — and Baker’s loyalty — to the limit. With his own life on the line, can Mottley save Susan before time runs out?

The Mottley & Baker Mysteries are classic whodunnits set in the Golden Age of 1930’s traditional detectives. If you like Miss Marple’s pastoral puzzles or Albert Campion’s rollicking adventures, you’ll fall hard for this cozy historical mystery.

Guest Post

 

The only way out is a long way down.

Edmund Mottley, Specialist in Discreet Enquiries, is in a precarious position: his old flame Susan needs his help. Her new fiancé is accused of murder, and she wants Mottley to clear his name.

Mottley would rather jump off a cliff than get involved, but when Susan is threatened by a shadowy crime syndicate, Mottley leaps to her aid.

Mottley and Baker, his intrepid valet, pursue the case to an island of otherworldly beauty. But the island is haunted by secrets, treachery, madness, and … something more.

Every clue crumbles under their feet, pushing Mottley’s powers of deduction — and Baker’s loyalty — to the limit. With his own life on the line, can Mottley save Susan before time runs out?

The Mottley & Baker Mysteries are classic whodunnits set in the Golden Age of 1930’s traditional detectives. If you like Miss Marple’s pastoral puzzles or Albert Campion’s rollicking adventures, you’ll fall hard for this cozy historical mystery adventure.

Excerpt

The atmosphere in the Albion Club could never be called vivacious, but on a dark and chilly October afternoon, with a fire blazing and the lamps lit, it was positively soporific. For Edmund Mottley, Specialist in Discreet Enquiries, it was a refuge when one of his many aliases might have attracted unwelcome attention.

It was also an excellent place to catch up on missed sleep. He was just resting his sleek, caramel-coloured head on the red leather wing of his favourite armchair, the protective camouflage of The Times slipping from his fingers, when a well-known face, red and square as a child’s toy hay barn, was thrust into his own.

“Mottley!”

“Bah!” Mottley sat up. “Oh, it’s you. You might have given me apoplexy.”

“Look here, Mottley, it’s about this bounder Susan’s engaged to…”

“You’ve let your sister get engaged to a bounder?” Mottley tutted as he refolded The Times. “Very remiss of you, George. I may have to report you to the Committee.”

“Well, that’s rich!” George Parton snorted. “Your sister could be engaged to five people at once and you’d never know.”

“Of course I would,” Mottley replied. “She’d ring me just to crow about it.”

George scrubbed at his close-cropped brown hair. From the laces tied askew on his shining wingtips, to the missed patch of shaving soap behind his left ear, it was plain that the phlegmatic George was driven to distraction – or as near to it as he was likely to come.

Mottley leaned back in his chair. “But laying aside my sister (as she’s well accustomed to), tell me more about this bounder. What’s his name, for instance?”

“Kenward. Denis Kenward.”

“I hate him already. And what proof have we of his bounderism, notwithstanding his pernicious habit of becoming engaged to the fair Susan? I’m all ears, as the cornfield said to the scarecrow.”

“I do wish you’d shut up, Mottley. I mean, it’s frightfully serious.”

“Sorry, old bean, go on.”

“He’s murdered someone.”

Mottley pursed his lips. He stared at his old friend, slowly turning his head to regard him out of one eye, like a falcon contemplating a distant rabbit.  George blinked, and Mottley was gone. He shifted himself in a hurry, to follow Mottley’s rapidly-disappearing form into the dining-room.

He found Mottley perched, tailor-fashion, on the dining-room table, the newspaper crumpled beside him.

“What are you doing?” George yelped. “That’s unsanitary.”

“It’s the only room where all approaches are visible. Now, when you say murder…”

“They think he threw some cove over a cliff.”

Mottley leaned on his elbows, his chin propped on his index fingers. “Start at the beginning and don’t leave anything out.”

George pulled out a dining chair and sat. “You see, Kenward’s old man was some sort of industrial genius – invented a new kind of collar stud or what not. Made a bloody packet out of it, along with his business partner. This past spring, Dad joins the great majority and Kenward beetles about winding up the estate. Well, the wheels of the probate court grind slowly but they grind exceedingly small, and it turns out the business partner has been diddling the books. The company’s worth two pencils and an old soup tin, and there is no estate. There’s an awful row, and the business partner, name of Dismore, obligingly goes and falls over a cliff. It looks bad, Mottley – very bad.”

“Over a cliff? Kenward and Dismore? Collar studs, indeed. My dear idiot, you’re talking about Pneumatic Industrial Automation!” Mottley took up the newspaper and shook it. “It’s the biggest sinking since 1912 – they’re playing ‘Nearer my God to Thee’ at Bank junction, and Wall Street’s not safe for pedestrians.”

“Yes, well, there you are then.”

Mottley perused the front page. “I see it doesn’t name the son – what is it, Denis?”

“Oh, not in The Times. The tabloid press are using his name all right,” said George.

“Has he been arrested?”

“Not yet, more’s the pity. No body found, no inquest, no charges.”

“More’s the pity?” Mottley whistled long and low. “It’s one thing to take a scunner at the chap, but you’d see him hang?

“No, no, no.” George shifted in his chair. “Of course not. I just want Susan shot of him.”

Mottley levered himself to the edge of the table and let his legs dangle. “What is it you want me to do, exactly?”

“Well… Can’t you convince her that the sort of fellow who gets himself mixed up in this sort of thing isn’t the sort who is… our sort?”

“Do you really think Susan’s disposed to take my opinion on anything?”

A sudden recollection made George grimace. “Never mind all that. If you’d just nose about a bit, I’m sure you can find something that will put her off him. He’s a nasty bit of work. I’ve always thought so, but she just won’t see it.”

“You’re asking me to take this on?” Mottley hopped off the table. He leaned back on his hands and shook his head. “George, when I take a case, I look for the truth. Innocent or guilty.”

George stood. He set his jaw. Mottley knew too well the set of a Parton jaw was not to be trifled with.

George turned to go. Over his shoulder he remarked, “Come round for drinks tonight. Kenward will be there. You’ll see. Just try to talk some sense into Susan. She listens to you.”

Mottley muttered to his friend’s back, “News to me.”

About the Author

Ellen Seltz worked in the entertainment industry for twenty years, from Miami to New York and points in between. Her primary roles were actress and producer, but she also served as a comedy sketch writer, librettist, voice artist, propmaster, costumer, production assistant, camera operator and general dogsbody.

She turned to fiction writing in the vain hope that the performers would do as they were told. Joke’s on her.

Ellen is a native of Birmingham, Alabama, where she now lives with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys vegetable gardening and vintage-style sewing.

Website Join my mailing list and receive a free copy of Book 1, Mister Mottley Gets His Man.

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check out the other blogs on this tour

November 29 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 30 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

December 1 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

December 2 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

December 3 – My Reading Journeys – SPOTLIGHT

December 4 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – REVIEW

December 5 – Island Confidential – GUEST POST

December 6 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

December 7 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

December 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

December 9 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW

December 10 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW

December 11 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

December 12 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance on December 8, 2017

 

 

How I Met Your Brother by Janette Rallison

The best day of his life, the worst day of hers.

Back in college, Marco Dawson never thought of Belle as anything more than a friend. If she had crossed his mind on his wedding day, it was probably only to wonder why she hadn’t shown up to be a bridesmaid. After all, his new wife was her old roommate. Seven years have passed since then, and Belle just found out that Marco is divorced and vacationing with his family in an elegant Cancun resort. She’s not about to let the right man get away twice. She heads to the resort where she plans to casually bump into Marco and ignite some romantic flames.

But Belle hadn’t planned on one thing: Flynn Dawson, Marco’s handsome, charming, and determined twin brother. He thinks Marco and his ex-wife can make amends and he’s not about to let Belle stand in the way.

Part Sabrina, part While You Were Sleeping, romantic comedy readers will eat this book up!

 

 

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Praise for How I Met Your Brother

“This is a romantic comedy in one of it’s finest hours.”

“In true Janette Rallison form, this novel does not disappoint!”

“Love, love, love this book!”

 

 

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“Dawson,” she called in feigned surprise. “Is that you?”
He looked up from the map and his blue eyes wandered over her. “Yes.” He must have liked what he saw because a smile appeared on his lips. Not a smile of recognition, just a smile of approval.
She sauntered over, taking slow nonchalant steps. “Don’t tell me you don’t remember me. I haven’t changed that much, have I?”
“I’m not sure,” he said. “Tell me who you are, and I’ll tell you how much you’ve changed.”
His lack of recognition should have bothered her a little, but it felt like victory. Proof the mousy unnoticeable girl she’d been was gone. “Perhaps you recall a study group we were in at WSU? Or the fact that I proofread a lot of your papers? You obviously don’t remember telling me that you’d never forget me.”
“Ah,” he said, with understanding. At least now he knew she wasn’t a stranger with a creative pickup line.
“Perhaps you remember me introducing you to Daisy?”
His eyes widened and his expression changed. She couldn’t quite read it. Was it astonishment? Disbelief? Regret? “Isabelle,” he uttered.
She smiled at the way her name sounded on his lips. “I go by Belle now.”
His gaze went over her a second time, stopping on her ring finger—absent of the symbols of marriage. “What a surprise. I don’t know what to say.”
“Most people say something along the lines of ‘It’s good to see you.’ But I’ll settle for a belated, ‘Thanks for all those papers you helped with.’”

 

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About the Author

Janette Rallison is old. Don’t ask how old, because it isn’t polite. Let’s just say she’s older than she’d like to be and leave it at that.

Janette lives in Chandler, Arizona with her husband, five children and enough cats to classify her as “an eccentric cat lady.” She did not do this on purpose. (The cats, that is; she had the children on purpose.) Every single one of the felines showed up on its own and refuses to leave. Not even the family’s fearless little Westie dog can drive them off.

Since Janette has five children and deadlines to write books, she doesn’t have much time left over for hobbies. But since this is the internet and you can’t actually check up to see if anything on this site is true, let’s just say she enjoys dancing, scuba diving, horse back riding and long talks with Orlando Bloom. (Well, I never said he answers back.)

 

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Also by Janette Rallison


 

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Giveaway Details

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 12/21/17

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

 

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, mystery on December 7, 2017

Aria to Death: A Joseph Haydn Mystery
Historical Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Foiled Plots Press (December 1, 2017)
Paperback: 302 pages

Synopsis

When Monteverdi’s lost operas surface, so does a killer desperate to possess them. . .

Preoccupied with preparations for the opera season at Eszterháza, Kapellmeister Joseph Haydn receives a curious request from a friend in Vienna. Kaspar, an impoverished violinist with an ailing wife, wishes Haydn to evaluate a collection of scores reputed to be the lost operas of Monteverdi.

Haydn is intrigued until Her Majesty, Empress Maria Theresa, summons him with a similar request. Skeptical of the value of Kaspar’s bequest, Haydn nevertheless offers to help. But before he can examine the works, Kaspar is murdered—beaten and left to die in front of a wine tavern.

The police are quick to dismiss the death as a robbery gone wrong. But Haydn is not so sure. Kaspar’s keys were stolen and his house broken into. Could his bequest be genuine after all? And can Haydn find the true operas—and the man willing to kill for them?

Excerpt

Haydn can find nothing to fault in the scores Her Majesty, Empress Maria Theresa, has acquired. . .

“I shall have to examine the works, Your Majesty.” Haydn opened one of the vellum-bound scores the Empress Maria Theresa had handed him and perused the pages curiously.

He and Johann had accompanied the Prince to Schönbrunn that afternoon and now sat in the Empress’s white-and gold-receiving chambers in the west wing of the summer palace.

“But at a casual glance”—Haydn raised his eyes—“they appear authentic enough.”

He gently rubbed his right thumb over the paper. It felt thick and strong under his fingers. He turned his attention to the binding. The cream-colored vellum was unusually soft and the gold trim exceptionally fine.

Johann reached for the second score the Empress had placed upon a gold stool upholstered in rich crimson and read the dedication within. “The hand appears to be that of a copyist, brother.” He turned toward the Empress, who was still seated at the harpsichord. “As would be quite natural under the circumstances, Your Majesty.”

The Empress’s finely shaped eyebrows drew together into a frown. “I hope you are mistaken, Master Johann. Dr. Goretti swore to me those works were in the composer’s own hand. I have no reason to doubt his sincerity.”

“And yet you would have Haydn authenticate them,” His Serene Highness murmured. His eyes drifted toward the portrait of His Imperial Majesty, Archduke Joseph, set into a panel on the wall behind the Empress.

Haydn suppressed a smile, having glanced up in time to catch the movement in the ornate gilt-framed mirror hanging opposite him. The Prince had complained often enough, as had his Konzertmeister Luigi, of the stinginess of the Archduke’s purse.

“It is the composer’s identity rather than his hand that I desire your Kapellmeister to authenticate, Esterházy!” The Empress’s tone was sharp, her heavy jowls quivering in exasperation.

“If I may be so bold as to ask,” Haydn interjected gently, “how much did Your Majesty pay for the scores?” No doubt the purchase had caused a rift between the Empress and her son and co-regent.

“Pay for the scores!” Her Majesty’s lips protruded into a startled round, blowing her cheeks out. “Why no more than a hundred ducats apiece. But—”

Haydn hastily withdrew his eyes from the portrait looming over the Empress only to find her large blue eyes inspecting him closely.

“I am still Empress, gentlemen.” She fingered the gold lace on her mourning gown of black velvet, her tone even. “But in this instance, I am in complete agreement with my son. It was not entirely for my own pleasure that I bought the music.”

“Her Majesty intends to initiate a revival of opera seria in the capital with the great works of Monteverdi,” the Prince explained without much enthusiasm, his own tastes running to the lighter opera buffa style.

“Among other things.” The Empress’s eyes were veiled. “And too much rests upon it for me to take the word of the good physician who brought it to me.”

“It was a physician who brought these works to you, then, Your Majesty?” Johann leaned forward, his voice rising a little.

The Empress nodded, the skin under her jaw forming loose, fleshy folds under her chin. “Giacomo Goretti. A fine physician, in my opinion, although van Swieten”— she gestured with a well-fleshed but shapely hand  in the direction of the ante-chamber where her imperial physician waited —“would have it otherwise.”

“An Italian?” Haydn enquired, his eyes meeting Johann’s. “And he was only able to bring you these two works, Your Majesty?”

“With the promise of more, as I am sure Esterházy will have mentioned to you.” The Empress shifted her bulk in the direction of the Prince, who nodded wordlessly. “If these prove to be authentic, we shall purchase the entire collection. They will be more valuable still in the great composer’s own hand.”

“And he discovered them, I presume, in Venice,” Haydn hazarded. It was where the great master had ended his days, having left the Mantuan court to assume the position of Kapellmeister at the Basilica of San Marco in the city-state.

“On the contrary. It was here in Vienna that he found them.”

About the Author

A former journalist, Nupur Tustin relies upon a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to orchestrate fictional mayhem.  The Haydn mysteries are a result of her life-long passion for classical music and its history. Childhood piano lessons and a 1903 Weber Upright share equal blame for her original compositions, available on ntustin.musicaneo.com.

Her writing includes work for Reuters and CNBC, short stories and freelance articles, and research published in peer-reviewed academic journals. She lives in Southern California with her husband, three rambunctious children, and a pit bull.

Website * Blog * Free Haydn Mystery at Taste of Murder * Facebook * Goodreads

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November 29 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST/EXCERPT

November 30 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

November 30 – Island Confidential – GUEST POST/EXCERPT

December 1 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – GUEST POST/EXCERPT

December 2 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

December 3 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW

December 4 – Queen of All She Reads – SPOTLIGHT

December 5 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

December 6 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 6 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

December 7 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

December 7 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST/EXCERPT

December 8 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

December 8 – Valerie’s Musings – GUEST POST/EXCERPT

December 8 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance on December 7, 2017

 

All That Makes Life Bright: The Life and Love of Harriet Beecher Stowe by Josi S. Kilpack

When Harriet Beecher marries Calvin Stowe on January 6, 1836, she is sure her future will be filled romance, eventually a family, and continued opportunities to develop as a writer. Her husband Calvin is completely supportive and said she must be a literary woman. Harriet’s sister, Catharine, worries she will lose her identity in marriage, but she is determined to preserve her independent spirit. Deeply religious, she strongly believes God has called her to fulfill the roles of wife and writer and will help her accomplish everything she was born to do.

Two months after her wedding Harriet discovers she is pregnant just as Calvin prepares to leave for a European business trip. Alone, Harriet is overwhelmed—being a wife has been harder than she thought and being an expectant mother feels like living another woman’s life. Knowing that part of Calvin still cherishes the memory of his first wife, Harriet begins to question her place in her husband’s heart and yearns for his return; his letters are no substitute for having him home. When Calvin returns, however, nothing seems to have turned out as planned.

Struggling to balance the demands of motherhood with her passion for writing and her desire to be a part of the social change in Ohio, Harriet works to build a life with her beloved Calvin despite differing temperaments and expectations.

Can their love endure, especially after “I do”? Can she recapture the first blush of new love and find the true beauty in her marriage?

 

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Praise for All That Makes Life Bright

“Passionate–and entertaining.” Publisher’s Weekly, Sept 2017

“Kilpack writes with great insight and superb sensitivity.” Booklist, Starred Review Sept 2017

“All That Makes Life Bright is about making marriage work in the face of challenges like a desire for personal freedom. It is a romance with broad appeal.” Foreword, November 2017

 

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Eliza. Thoughts of her dear friend and Calvin’s first wife brought an array of emotions. What would Eliza think of Hattie carrying Calvin’s child? A child Eliza had wanted so much and never had. Hattie usually told herself Eliza would be happy that she and Calvin found comfort together, but there were days when Hattie’s awareness that Calvin still held affection for Eliza rose like a specter. Prayer, studying the Bible, and remembering the assurance she’d felt of God’s approval would usually silence her guilt, but today the fears roiled inside her like the churning wheels of an undertaker’s carriage.

Had Eliza lived, Hattie would be teaching, writing—unmarried and unpregnant. Had Eliza lived, Calvin would only be the husband of Hattie’s friend, and he would enjoy dinner on the table every night, and pressed pants and clean shirts in the closet every morning. Perhaps Eliza would have given him a child by now. When headaches laid him low, Eliza would tend to him without a thought for herself.

Would Calvin be happier if Eliza had been the only Mrs. Calvin Stowe? Would Hattie? Was Catharine right? Had Hattie entered a phase that would lead to the demise of being her own person? Anxiety wrapped around her until she found herself sobbing at the splintery kitchen table.

Eliza. Eliza. Eliza.

Calvin. Calvin. Calvin.

Was she living the wrong woman’s life?

 

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About the Author

Josi S. Kilpack hated to read until her mother handed her a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond when she was 13. From that day forward, she read everything she could get her hands on and credits her writing “education” to the many novels she has “studied” since then. She began writing her first novel in 1998 and has written twenty-five novels, one cookbook, and been part of multiple collaborations since then. She is a four-time Whitney Award winner and Best of State winner in Fiction. Josi currently lives in Willard, Utah, with her husband and children.

When Kensington Press picked up her first national women’s fiction novel, As Wide as the Sky, Josi was in need of a pen name to differentiate between her other genres. For years, Josi has been called Jessica Pack by people who hear her name but don’t know her, it made her new pen name easy to choose. As Wide as the Sky will be released in paperback sometime in 2018.

 

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Also by Josi S. Kilpack

 

Coming in 2018

  • Miss Wilton’s Waltz, Regency Romance, coming May 2018
  • As Wide As the Sky, Women’s Fiction, coming June 2018
  • Promises & Primroses, Book One in the Mayfield Family Series, Regency Romance, coming fall 2018

 

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Giveaway Details

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 12/20/17

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on December 6, 2017

The Culinary Art of Murder (The Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
The Wives of Bath Press (November 27, 2017)
Print Length: 281 pages

Synopsis

Lee’s Uncle ‘Tío’ is smitten with a visiting chef at a Silicon Valley culinary arts institute. When the lady is arrested for two murders, a fellow chef and the dishwasher, Lee Alvarez, lead investigator for Discretionary Inquiries, Inc., the family owned detective agency, agrees to help find the real killer. But undercover work at the institute proves to be more difficult than whipping up a chocolate soufflé. The killer tries to get Lee out of the way and permanently. But just who is it? The lady chef? One of her two sons? Or one of the other inmates from a cooking school with secrets as plentiful as sauces? Can Lee find the real killer before her own goose is cooked? And if it turns out to be the ambitious southern belle chef, will Tío ever forgive Lee for sending his new lady love to jail?

Guest Post

On my mother, The-Never-Had-A-Bad-Hair-Day, Lila Hamilton Alvarez

By

Lee Alvarez

 

My mother makes me crazy. I say this because she is perfect. I once heard a joke that went like this: Two men are drinking at a bar. One man says to the other, “What brings you here every night? For me, my wife can’t do anything right. I can’t stand being around her.” The second man shakes his head and replies, “It’s not my wife’s faults that are killing me. It’s her virtues.” The first man says, “Wow! You have my sympathy. That’s even worse.”

I can relate to the second man’s point of view like nobody’s business. All my life I have lived in the shadow of the most beautiful, in-control, stylish, intelligent, and knowledgeable woman on this planet, my mother, the Blond Ice Princess.

Since I was a little kid, my girlfriends used to tell me how lucky I was to have such a ‘with it and gorgeous’ mom. When I got a little older, all my boyfriends developed huge crushes on her. I think most of them hung out with me, just to get to her.

When Dad was alive, he said Mom was the only woman alive to clean fish in a beaded Halston gown. Mom would respond, while arching one of her eyebrows, that she didn’t see anything wrong with that, because she always wore an apron. Then they’d both laugh. It was a running joke between them.

These two were seriously in love. Dad worshiped Mom and Mom adored Dad. They were a modern day Romeo and Juliet, he the Mexican immigrant made good, and her the Palo Alto blueblood.

I’m told I take after my father in nearly every way. Dark hair, twilight colored eyes, fiery temper. When I was a kid, everybody said, “Lee’s got Roberto’s features but not his fixtures.”

Not that anyone ever said this around Mom. First of all, too crude. Gender-based innuendos are not made around L. H. Alvarez. She would be scandalized. And secondly, my mother can’t stand it when people use nicknames or abbreviations. She calls it lazy. I have been called Liana, since I dropped out of the womb. Whoops. Scratch that remark. Back to being too crude.

And what really makes her crazy – ha ha – is how at the tender age of eleven, I became enamored of Dashiell Hammett, the quintessential writer of hard-boiled detective stories. Dad had given me a set of the famous writer’s books for my birthday and, man oh man, it changed my life. I never looked back. Becoming a PI was the next logical step.

You could say I cut my teeth on Sam Spade. That’s who I emulate. Of course, I like to wear a Vera Wang and sip on a Starbuck’s mocha latté as I emulate.

Well, after all, I am my mother’s daughter.

About the Author

heather-havenAfter studying drama at the University of Miami in Florida, Heather went to Manhattan to pursue a career. There she wrote short stories, comedy acts, television treatments, ad copy, commercials, and two one-act plays, which were produced, among other places, at the famed Playwrights Horizon. Once, she even ghostwrote a book on how to run an employment agency. She was unemployed at the time.

One of her first paying jobs was writing a love story for a book published by Bantam called Moments of Love. She had a deadline of one week but promptly came down with the flu. Heather wrote “The Sands of Time” with a raging temperature, and delivered some pretty hot stuff because of it. Her stint at New York City’s No Soap Radio – where she wrote comedic ad copy – help develop her long-time love affair with comedy.

Her first novel started the Silicon Valley based Alvarez Family Murder Mystery Series.  Murder is a Family Business, Book One, won the Single Titles Reviewers’ Choice Award 2011, followed by the second, A Wedding to Die For, 2012 Global and EPIC finalist for Best eBook Mystery of the Year. Death Runs in the Family won the coveted Global Gold for Best Mystery Novel, 2013. DEAD….If Only won the Global Silver for Best Mystery Novel, 2015. Her fifth novel of the series, The CEO Came DOA, won the Global Gold Medal 2017 and Dan Poynter Legacy Award 2017.  The Culinary Art of Murder is the sixth book of the series.  She loves writing this series mainly because she gets to play all of the characters, including the cat!

 

Heather’s other series, The Persephone Cole Vintage Mystery Series, is set in Manhattan circa 1942, during our country’s entrance into WWII. The Dagger Before Me, Book One, was voted best historical and mystery novel by Amazon readers in October, 2013.  It was followed by Iced Diamonds. Book Three, The Chocolate Kiss-Off, is a 2016 Lefty Award Finalist Best Historical Mystery.

On a personal note, her proudest award is the Silver IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards) Best Mystery/thriller 2014 for Death of a Clown. The stand-alone noir mystery is steeped in Heather’s family history. Daughter of real-life Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus folk, her mother was a trapeze artist/performer and father, an elephant trainer. Heather likes to say she brings the daily existence of the Big Top to life during World War II, embellished by her own murderous imagination.

Heather gives lectures, speaks at book clubs, and moderates author panels in the Bay Area, as well as teaching the art of writing. She believes everyone should write something, be it a poem, short story or letter. Then go out and plant a tree. The world will be a better place for it.

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December 1 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW

December 1 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT – blogger unable to post

December 2 – Cinnamon, Sugar and a Little Bit of Murder – REVIEW

December 3 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

December 4 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

December 5 – Sleuth Cafe – SPOTLIGHT

December 6 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

December 7 – A Holland Reads – CHARACTER GUEST POST

December 8 – T’s Stuff – INTERVIEW

December 9 – My Reading Journeys – CHARACTER GUEST POST

December 10 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

December 11 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

December 12 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – INTERVIEW

December 13 – A Blue Million Books – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

December 14 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT

Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance on December 6, 2017


TANGLEWOOD SERIES by Rachael Anderson

Three charming tales of tangled deception and love.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave
When first we practise to deceive!
—Sir Walter Scott, Marmion

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THE FALL OF LORD DRAYSON – When handsome and arrogant Lord Drayson awakens from a fall with no recollection of who he is or whence he came, the fiery and headstrong Miss Lucy Beresford takes it upon herself to humble him.

EXCERPT

He stared at her incredulously, as though she had escaped Bedlam. “Are you in your right mind, woman?”
Lucy leaned forward and planted her palms on his bed so that her eyes were level with his. “My name is Lucy Beresford. I have lived in Askern all my life. I’m the sole daughter of a vicar and a seamstress who lived most happily despite their differences in station. When my father passed away, I came here, to this dower house. So yes, I am in my right mind. It is you who are not.”
The earl’s jaw clenched, and Lucy took some pleasure at the sight. Perhaps he would come down off his high horse and show at least a small amount of kindness or respect.
“I may not know who I am or where I came from,” he finally said, “but at least I do not feel the need to tell tales.”
“Tell tales?” Lucy gaped at him. Was he accusing her of telling untruths? Her, of all people?What untruths? How dare he!
Lord Drayson glanced down at his fingers, frowning when he spotted grime under his nails. He began to scrape it out as he spoke. “Claiming to be the daughter of a vicar and seamstress is all very romantic, but it cannot possibly be the truth.”
“And why not?” she asked.
His gaze returned to hers. “In my experience, the daughter of a vicar would behave with more decorum, would know how to make a palatable broth, and would never allow herself to be alone in a room with a man who is not her relative. If there is one thing I know with absolute certainty, it is that you are no relation of mine.”
Lucy’s jaw clenched as she fought to control the rage building inside her. Ever so slowly, she pushed herself up to standing and glared down at the earl. “You are correct in thinking I am no ordinary vicar’s daughter. I do not love unconditionally. I show decorum only when I wish to. And I despise those who care for no one but themselves. But I do not tell tales.”
He actually chuckled, but it was more of a scoff than a show of humor. “Did you learn those traits from your father?”
“Do not speak of my father.”
“I would prefer to speak of myself, but you do not seem to share that preference, so perhaps we should speak of your father instead.Where is he, by the by? I would very much like to meet him.”
Lucy’s fingers became fists while her conscience became a battleground between all that was good and evil inside her. It was a short battle, with evil making a quick triumph.
Ever so slowly, her body still trembling with anger, she lifted her chin. If he was going to accuse her of telling tales, then tell them she would. “Very well, Collins. If you must know, I am your employer. And though you may not remember me, or this house, or your position in it, or the fact that you are perfectly susceptible to coming off a horse, just like any other human, I still expect some kindness and respect from you.”
“What on earth are you talking about? What position?”
There was not a hint of hesitation in her voice when she answered. “You are a servant in this house.”

 

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THE RISE OF MISS NOTLEY – To escape an unwanted marriage, Miss Coralynn Notley must give up her riches for rags and become a servant in the household of the daunting and mysterious Mr. Jonathan Ludlow.

 

 

EXCERPT

Cora nodded and followed Mr. Ludlow into the parlor. He closed the doors and stood in front of them with his arms folded, looking far more intimidating than he had during their last meeting. He said nothing, merely lifted an inquiring eyebrow and waited.
Caught unprepared, Cora stared at him, trying to organize her thoughts into words.After a few moments of awkward silence, he lost patience. “What is it you wished to speak with me about, Mrs. Notley? Or are we to stand here staring at each other all afternoon?”
Not knowing how else to begin, Cora blurted, “Why have you hired me, sir?”
He blinked a few times before frowning. “I believe I have made that perfectly clear. You are to be the housekeeper, are you not?”
This was going to be more difficult than she had imagined. “Yes, of course, but there has been some talk about, or rather concerns expressed . . .” How did one put this delicately?
“About . . .?” he prodded, obviously not thrilled that his morning regime had been waylaid.
“About the reasons I have been offered the position,” she quickly said, hoping that would be enough to make him understand her meaning.
Unfortunately, his brows drew together in confusion. “What are you saying, Mrs. Notley? I have hired you to do certain duties that will hopefully make my household run more smoothly. What other reason could I possibly have for offering you the position?”
“You have hired me to do a job I am untrained to do,” she said. “While I am grateful for the opportunity, I also find it necessary to clarify that I have come here to be a housekeeper and only a housekeeper. Even though I am young and . . .” Her voice drifted off. Had she almost referred to herself as pretty? Goodness, this was proving to be very awkward indeed.
“Beautiful?” he finally guessed, not looking at all pleased with the direction the conversation was taking.
“I was going to say not repulsive,” she fibbed.
“Very well,” he said. “Even though you are young and not repulsive . . .” He moved his hand in a circular gesture, urging her to finish her thought.
Cora straightened her shoulders and forced herself to continue. “I am not the sort of girl who would ever . . . fraternize with her employer.” Her face infused with heat, but she forced her gaze to remain steady.
“I see.” He walked slowly towards her, rubbing his chin with his hand. A few steps away,he stopped and eyed her quizzically. “Have I made any improper advances towards you?”
“No, sir.”
“Have I spoken to you in an unprofessional manner?”
“No.”
“Have I looked at you in a way that has made you feel uncomfortable?”
“No.” Cora suddenly wished she had not felt the need to clarify anything. He made her feel as though she had put the cart before the horse when what she had been trying to do was see that the cart and horse simply stayed in their proper places. Was that so wrong?
“Might I ask who, exactly, has led you to believe that I am the sort of man capable of–how did you put it? Fraternizing with my help?”
“I, er, would rather not say, sir.” Though Cora felt no loyalty towards Sally, she refused to bring Mr. and Mrs. Shepherd’s names into the conversation. “I did not mean to besmirch your name or cause any offense, Mr. Ludlow. I merely wanted to make my feelings on the matter clear.”
“And you have.”
“Good.” Cora dropped into a quick curtsy, anxious to get away. “I shall go and find Watts now.”
She was almost to the door when his voice stopped her. “Once again, you are attempting to scuttle away before we have completed our conversation.”
Slowly, she turned around and lifted her eyes to his. “I never scuttle, sir.”
“What would you call that rapid walk of yours?”
“A rapid walk.”

 

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THE PURSUIT OF LADY HARRIETT – Lieutenant Jamison is arrogant, ungentlemanly, and irritating. When Lady Harriett Cavendish sets out to put him in his place once and for all, she discovers there is more to him than meets the eye, and when it comes to matters of the heart, she has no control whatsoever.

 

EXCERPT

The corners of the man’s eyes crinkled in a mild show of amusement. “Lady Harriett, I presume?” Rather than look at her with appreciation as most men did, he appeared amused.
At her nod, he tucked his hands behind his back, remaining a few steps above her. “I am Lieutenant Christopher Jamison, an old friend of Jonathan’s.”
“I was expecting you days ago,” she answered. “Lord Jonathan charged me with the unhappy task of informing you he and his new bride are currently away on their wedding trip. He is sorry he cannot be here to meet with you and has asked that I relay his apologies.”
“May I inquire as to how long they will be away?” he asked.
No, you may not, she wanted to say. Her neck was beginning to ache from looking up at him, but she forced her gaze to remain steady. “They expected to be gone a fortnight, sir.”
“And they have been gone how long, exactly?”
She felt an unaccountable hesitancy to tell him. “A week.”
“Ah.” He sounded disappointed but seemed to take the news in stride, glancing at Charlie as though wondering whether he ought to retrieve his horse or not. Harriett prayed that he would.
When his gaze strayed back to her, he took the unwelcome, and ungentlemanly, liberty of perusing her figure. When his eyes met hers again, his lips twitched into a slight smile. “Forgive me, my lady, but you appear to have had a run-in with a mud puddle and lost.”
How kind of him to point that out. Harriett kept her hands at her side rather than attempt to brush the dirt from her face and pelisse yet again. The damage was done, and no amount of brushing or shaking would remove the muck. What she needed was a hot bath and a change of clothes.
“Actually, sir, I was merely an innocent bystander.”
“Indeed?”
She picked up her skirts and ascended the steps, stopping on the stair above him so that she was eye level with him. “Are you always such a reckless rider, sir? Do you not pay heed to your surroundings?”
“Of course I do.”
“If you had, you would have seen me standing at the side of the road and, I would hope, thought to slow your animal down so as to not splash mud all over my pelisse.” Her chilly set down did not have the desired effect. He did not appear the least bit repentant. Rather, he looked ready to burst into laughter.
“And your face, apparently.” He leaned forward and squinted. “If I’m not mistaken, there is a splash or two of mud on your bonnet as well.”
Harriett glared at him. “How observant you are, Lieutenant Jamison. One can only wonder why you didn’t put that skill to good use earlier. If you had, perhaps my pelisse, face, and bonnet would still be clean.”
“I am always observant, my lady,” he said. “But might I suggest that if you would like to be noticed at the side of the road, you should wear a color that does not blend so perfectly with your surroundings. That particular shade of green looks quite lovely on you, but only someone with the eyes of an eagle would have spotted you in front of a landscape of evergreens.”
Harriett opened her mouth to respond, but no words were forthcoming. The man did not even attempt to behave like a gentleman. How could he be so . . . so . . .
“Have you no apology to offer, sir?” she finally spluttered.
“Oh, did I not apologize? Forgive me.”
“For what? Forgetting to apologize or for not doing so in the first place?”

 

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Praise for the Tanglewood Series

“Thoroughly enjoyed this series. The dialogue between characters is delightfully witty and the stories are rich with color and depth.” (M. Michelle Condie, Amazon.com)

“I loved . . . the entire Tanglewood series! Every time I started reading, I escaped to a different time and place. I laughed a lot and even cried a little.” (Emily R., Amazon.com)

“Five stars for this author and the Tanglewood series! This series were the first books I’ve read by this author and I was not disappointed. Her characters come alive in her books and you can’t help but be drawn into their world. I’m always sad to see a good series like this one end.” (Simply Me, Amazon.com)

“Rachael Anderson has a unique ability to keep the reader intrigued with her characters. She writes with a sense of humor,knowledge of period she’s writing,about ,and sprinkles with Christian values.” Carolynn D., Amazon.com)

 

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Coming Spring 2018

My Sister’s Intended by Rachael Anderson

For as long as Prudence can remember, it has been understood that her sister will one day wed the eldest son of their nearest neighbor. Such an alliance will benefit both families and bring a great deal of joy to all parents involved.

Unfortunately, Prudence has never been able to feel as joyful. She believes her sister is mad to consider marrying a man she hardly knows, even if he will one day make her a countess. Titles and wealth shouldn’t factor into matters of the heart, and as an aspiring romance novelist, Prudence cannot fathom how anyone could even think of settling for less than love. She certainly wouldn’t, and she doesn’t want her sister to either.

Unable to stand by and do nothing, Prudence sets out to help the awkward couple discover the best in each other with the hope that they will eventually find love. What she neglected to foresee, however, was that she might fall in love with Lord Knave herself.

 

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About the Author

A USA Today bestselling author, Rachael Anderson is the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can’t sing, doesn’t dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.

 

 

 

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Also by Rachael Anderson

 

 

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Giveaway Details

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 12/19/17

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance on December 5, 2017

Title: The Lord Meets His Lady

Author: Gina Conkle

Series: Midnight Meetings #3

Pub Date: December 5, 2017

ISBN: 9781492651901

Synopsis

Lord Marcus Bowles has stained his family’s reputation for the last time. Only after spending a scandal-free year restoring some far-flung property can this second son return in good graces. But Marcus isn’t one to abandon a lone damsel on a dark country lane.

One stolen kiss and Genevieve Turner’s handsome midnight savior disappears. Typical. No matter, Gen is finally on the way to her new post, and hopefully to finding her grandmother as well. Instead she finds her mischievous hero is her new employer. Surely a few more kisses won’t hurt…

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How to Create Page Turning Dialogue by Gina Conkle

Dialogue is a much-debated topic in romance. One day you’re at a conference and a bestselling author spouts rules of dialogue. The next day, you’re reading another bestselling author’s book, and she’s broken every one of those rules.

How do you navigate writing with mixed signals?

It’s maddening…like driving in Italy. My one trip to Florence highlights this point. Our car had the green light. We started to go when another car zoomed through a red light. My husband’s Italian colleague slammed the brakes and shrugged it off with, “Red lights. They’re suggestions.”

The same phrase was said in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun. Maybe it’s an Italian thing, but the spirit of those words stayed with me. In writing, it’s good to learn the rules. Then you can break them. After all, your job is to woo your reader, draw them into the world you created.

This is why one rule guides me: Don’t get in the way of your story.

But every traveler needs a roadmap. Here are five suggestions:

  1. To Tag or Not to Tag

You may have heard the only dialogue tags you need are said and ask. It’s true. You can get by with said and ask. But where’s the fun in that? I use whisper, coax, call, cry, murmur, or nothing at all. You know when dialogue sounds clunky. It can happen as easily with said and ask as yell or whimper.

The point is, tell your story. If an offbeat dialogue tag does the trick, be judicious, but go with it. It’s your voice. Don’t be afraid to drive outside the lines.

  1. Nonverbal cues speak louder than words

Less than 10% of our communication comes from what we say. The next tier (more than 30%) comes from vocal elements such as tone, pitch, and rate of speech. The final tier (more than 50%) is pure body language with hands and eyes top contenders.

Here’s a challenge. Grab some paper and create columns for nonverbal cues: tone, pitch, rate of speech, breathing, eyes, eyebrows, mouth, nose, hands, fingers, chin, etc. Then, go through a current manuscript and put a hash in each nonverbal cue column. Did you discover certain writer habits? I once had a reviewer nab me for too much “head snapping” and you know what? She was right!

Mix up your nonverbal cues—like the boob shoulder. Marilyn Monroe made this pose famous: a woman’s coy glance past her shoulder (bare is better). Men view it as sexual. Women generally view it as favorable and friendly.

Actions speak louder than words in life and on the page. From page one to “The End” vary the body language.

  1. Be aware of gender differences in speech patterns and behavior

Men tend to be less profuse with their facial expressions. They will tease or use more vocal cues such as sarcasm in dealing with sensitive topics, while women are more stream of conscious talkers. Men give less eye contact during conversation and frown or squint more. It means they’re mulling over what’s being said. They prefer being shoulder to shoulder in conversation while women prefer being face to face. Women tolerate interruptions more than men.

Don’t be afraid to turn gender norms upside down. While the above is scientifically proven, consider the outliers. There are blunt women and effusively verbal men. Consistency is the key to character authenticity.

  1. It’s in the voice

Do all your characters speak like east coast college grads? If they are east coast college grads, fine. Now dig deeper. Look at their verb choices. Do they have pet phrases? A manner of speaking which reveals personality?

If number three above was the how of character speech, number four is the what. In one of my books, the hero was a well-educated man while the heroine was self-educated. She is fighting tooth and nail for every bit of progress. I made sure her voice reflected that on the page.

Men use commands more often than woman, and in a problematic situation, women ask more questions (to the chagrin of the males in the room). And that brings us to the next interesting point.

  1. Dyads are it

Do you feel overwhelmed when writing a scene with three or more people? It’s a lot to juggle. Intimacy can get lost in the shuffle of setting and action. And what do you do when you’re writing, say a band of brothers series? Secondary characters need to shine for your readers to fall in love with them but not take over the book.

Dyads foster intimacy. In interpersonal communication theory, this means communication really is between two people and two people only. Person A speaks with person B and vice versa. They are both aware Person C is with them, but communication is always between two people. Person A can shift to Person C (thus creating a new dyad and Person B is out of the connection). This is why small group scenes can overwhelm. Ever had feedback like “There was too much going on” or “It was too much of XYZ characters”?

How does this translate to say a boardroom or ballroom scene?

Be aware of the dyads you create. More than ever, each word matters in an ensemble scene. You’ve heard the wisdom, if you show the reader a bat in chapter one, it better come back at later in the story (i.e. foreshadowing). Likewise, with your secondary characters and their dialogue, make it count.

Ask yourself, if their words reveal character? Move the story forward? Or feed the conflict?

If you find you’re writing group scenes, and the heroine and heroine’s arc is drifting, shift gears. Bring them together. Focus on a private moment in a crowd before returning to the ensemble cast. Your reader will feel the connection.

And that’s what dialogue in romance is all about.

Thanks for hosting me here on StoreyBook Reviews and a lesson in Romance University ~ Gina

Excerpt

She yanked the door wide open, blinking at bright sunlight and an even brighter man.

Her breath caught. “Lord Bowles.”

“Miss Turner, how nice to see you again.” His greeting alone could be a proposition the way his voice caressed her name.

She stood mutely, the floor uncertain beneath her feet. Behind him the Beckworth geese waddled through the yard, their orange beaks poking the ground. The rogue followed her?

Her mind spinning, she blurted, “What are you doing?”

Hazel eyes glinted beneath his black tricorn hat. “I’m standing on your doorstep. Will you let me in?”

“No.” She stuffed the crumpled letter in her pocket. “Mr. Beckworth and his brothers aren’t here. They have business in Learmouth Village.”

Creases deepened at the corners of his friendly eyes. Lord Bowles wasn’t put off. There had to be a social nicety for this, but where she came from, if you didn’t want someone at your door, you told them.

“I know they aren’t.” His voice dropped lower. “I came early to see you.”

What was she supposed to do about this? A polite refusal formed, but his lordship’s vision snagged on her cleavage before popping back up to her face.

A scoundrel always showed his true colors.

She crossed her arms and leaned against the doorjamb, all pretense of a proper servant gone. “And who’d be calling? The honorable vicar?”

Lord Bowles chuckled. “I apologize for the surprise. Mr. Beckworth and I are longtime friends. I started to tell you about the connection when we repaired the coach brace.” He paused and took a measured tone. “But our road side conversation went in a new direction before I had the chance.”

She smarted when he said a new direction, a stinging reminder she’d pleaded with him to hide her true identity…from his friend no less. What a neat bit of trouble this was. Did his lordship think she was here to steal the family silver? A laughable thing since the humble Beckworth cottage had none.

“Then you would be the old army friend coming to dinner,” she said flatly.

“I am. Worse for the wear but not…so old.”

She shoved off the doorjamb, her mind assembling all the pieces. His lordship’s gentle humor was a balm in this clumsy moment. Lord Bowles was tonight’s honored guest and the reason for the small feast she was preparing in the kitchen. She wanted to tell him to come back later, but Mr. Beckworth might take offense if she did. What would a proper housekeeper do? There was also the matter of her character, such as it was. She didn’t want Lord Bowles thinking ill of her.

Mildly chastened, she clasped dough-flecked hands together. “I am not a thief, milord. If that’s your concern, please know I’d never cause harm to Mr. Beckworth or his family.”

“I believe you.”

Never had three words sounded so lovely. They’d rolled off his tongue without a second’s hesitation. She hesitated. Shutting the door on Lord Bowles wouldn’t be wise. Letting him in didn’t work either.

“I knew there was a possibility our paths might cross,” she said, stalling in hopes wisdom would strike.

“And you thought I’d pretend we’d met for the first time should we be introduced in the village.”

“Yes.”

Lord Bowles nodded, hands clasped behind his back. “While I don’t believe you’re out to harm Mr. Beckworth, this still makes me complicit in your deception…against my friend.”

Her status hung in the balance. Did he have concerns about her circumstances? Or was he in search of a dalliance? Power was his.

“Does that mean you’ll not mention my real name or The Golden Goose to Mr. Beckworth?”

“I already gave my word.” He flashed a disarming smile. “Now will you let me in?”

She was doomed. Lord Bowles was trouble on two legs. He knew how to open doors with his smile alone. A sculpted lower lip balanced his thinner upper lip, a scale of sensuality and wit. Her solitude and better judgement were about to be breached by a consummate flirt wielding his version of honor. Men were by no means a novelty. She was skilled at brushing them off or being unnoticed when the mood struck, but she’d have to face facts.

London allowed obscurity. Cornhill-on-Tweed would not.

“No harm in showing you to the parlor. Mr. Beckworth and his brothers should return within an hour.”

He stepped inside and passed his hat to her, sunshine crowning his chestnut-colored hair. “Any chance you’ll sit with me awhile?” He stretched free of his black redingote, the collar brushing curls at his nape.

“None. I clean the parlor, milord I don’t sit in it.”

He laughed at her bald rejection, and a single lock slipped free of his queue’s black ribbon. The curl hid behind his ear, the strands a sun-kissed contrast to the rest of his brown hair. The vulnerable lock of hair begged to be neatened. She hung his hat and coat on pegs, glad for her hands to have something to do. Lord Bowles stood less than an arm’s length from her at the cross roads of proper and intimate, a winsome smile on his face.

And her wish to be a respectable domestic slipped a notch.

About the Author

Gina Conkle writes sensual Georgian romance and lush Viking romance. Her books offer a fresh, addictive spin on the genre, with the witty banter and sexual tension that readers crave. She grew up in southern California and despite all that sunshine, Gina loves books over beaches and stone castles over sand castles. Now she lives in Michigan with her favorite alpha male, Brian, and their two sons where she’s known to occasionally garden and cook.

Website * Twitter * Pinterest * Facebook * Goodreads

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance on December 5, 2017

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The Christmas Groom by Taylor Hart

Nathan Pennington, aka billionaire attorney, had only one idea on his mind the week before Christmas…forget about the past year and enjoy the beautiful Park City ski slopes. His plan was working, until some annoying ski bunny sprayed snow in his face. Her rudeness wasn’t something he could let slide. Nathan chases the woman down the hill intent on chewing her out, but when face-to-face, he’s struck by the vulnerability and anger in her eyes.

Storm Goodman has heard every weather joke in the book—and she’s not in the mood for another. Lately her life has lived up to her name. After a year of personal setbacks in her skiing career and her grandfather passing, she thought the worst of it was over until Four days before Christmas her lawyer tells her she can’t inherit the ranch her grandfather left her—unless she’s married by noon on Christmas day. Good thing she has a guy to marry—too bad he’s also the same guy who cheated on her last year. She’ll have to put up with him if she wants to keep the land from being turned over to the BLM.

When a mysterious guy shows up, chewing her out for spraying snow on him, she never would have imagined she’d end up on a date with him. Or kiss him! Why does her life have such rotten timing? After night skiing, soaking in the hot tub, and dancing at an old folk’s home, Storm begins to wonder if she can really go through with the marriage to her ex.

Now she and Nathan are faced with a choice—walk away or let the timing of love sync up once and for all.

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Praise for The Christmas Groom

I’m a big fan of the Bachelor Billionaire Romance Series. I read it all in one day and loved every word! Park City is one of my favorite places, and I loved the spunky interaction between Nathan and Storm. I highly recommend. It’s the perfect book to read this Christmas!—Jennifer Youngblood

This was another Billionaire success! The characters were fun, the location was awesome and I loved that it was a clean romance.—Donna C.

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“So don’t stand here and give me life lessons, okay? When people like you already have their millions, they can say anything they want.”

He decided not to correct her statement by informing her he was a billionaire. Instead, he turned for the tent opening.

She sighed. “I’m sorry. Look, it’s just been one of those days, okay?”

He turned back.

She shook her head and reached for another coat, letting out a derisive laugh. “It’s kinda been one of those years to tell you the truth.”

He paused and then moved back, offering his hand. “Let’s start over. I’m Nathan.”

Letting out a puff of air, she looked at his hand, but shook her head.

“Really, let’s start over. I’m Nathan.” He insisted.

“You’re not going to leave until I give you my name, are you?”

He had to smile at her brashness, her sarcasm with a bit of pissed off sprinkled in. Every woman he’d dated for the past few years had been the political type—polished, schooled in the right topics, dressed in the right clothes, and they always said the right things. This woman was refreshing. “Nope, not gonna leave without a name.”

Shaking his hand, she gave him a little smile. “I’m Storm.”

Oh yeah, that fit her.

She pulled back. “And I’m not in the mood for weather jokes, okay? My mother grew up here and was fascinated by the storms that blew through.”

The information interested him, but he didn’t push her. “Nice to meet you.”

She studied him for a moment before grinning. “Man, that’s a practiced smile.” Cocking her head to the side, she lifted an eyebrow. “Completely fake.”

Finding all thoughts of aches and pains and hunger gone, he realized he wanted to know more about her. “Really?”

“Completely.”

“How do you know?”

She gestured to him. “’Cause I’ve been talking to you, and I’ve seen the real one.” She stuck her chin out. “When you were teasing me. Now it looks like you’re running for president.”

Thoughts of his father flashed through his mind. His gut twisted, and he felt himself wincing.

“I’m sorry.” She was giving him an intense look.

He quickly changed the subject. “Tell me about this bad day or year.”

A derisive laugh escaped her as she opened another bin and loaded more merchandise into it. “Ah, no. It’s … complicated.”

Taking a chance, he put his bag of stuff down and moved next to her, folding one of the coats the way she was doing.

She shook her head, but kept packing. “Now you’re helping me?”

“Why not?” He leaned over the table and put it neatly in her bin. Then he reached for another. “It’s the Christmas spirit, right?”

Lifting her eyebrows, she put another coat in the bin and closed it. “So you’re a Mr. Do-Gooder, are you?”

He was the completely opposite kind of guy, and he knew it, but he just grinned and said, “Yep, that’s me.”

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About the Author

Taylor Hart has always been drawn to a good love triangle, hot chocolate and long conversations with new friends. Writing has always been a passion that has consumed her dreams and forced her to sit in a trance for long hours, completely obsessed with people that don’t really exist. Taylor would have been a country star if she could have carried a tune—maybe in the next life.

 

 

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Also by Author Taylor Hart

Nathan’s story’s is a stand alone book. But, there’s more other fun bachelor billionaires who have already fallen in love.
If you wanted to read Bachelor Billionaire Romances in order it would go like this:
The Football Groom
The Country Groom
The Unfinished Groom
The Barefoot Groom
The Masquerading Groom
The Christmas Groom
The Lost Groom
The Undercover Groom
The Lone Star Groom



 

Last Play Romances:
Last Play
The Rookie
Just Play
A Player for Christmas
End Zone
Hail Mary


 

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Giveaway Details

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 12/18/17

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Posted in 5 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, Review on December 4, 2017

Of Murder and Men (A Cat Latimer Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Kensington (November 28, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages

Synopsis

Love is in the air in Aspen Hills, and it’s making a terrible mess of Cat Latimer’s writers’ retreat—especially when blood stains the plot . . .

Ever since her business partner, Shauna, fell for a wealthy landowner in town, Cat has been working double time to keep her writers’ retreat running. And with the January session almost underway, that spells trouble. As if scheduling mishaps aren’t disastrous enough, Shauna skips out on kitchen duties one morning, forcing Cat to serve unsuspecting guests store-bought muffins . . .

But best laid plans really go awry when Shauna discovers her beau missing from their bed. When his body later turns up in the horse barn, they quickly find out the victim’s scandalous lifestyle left many dying for revenge. While balancing an eccentric group of aspiring writers and a suspect list for the record books, Cat soon finds herself on the heels of a killer—and authoring her most deadly conclusion yet . . .

Review

I really love this series and especially that there is an underlying mystery about Cat’s ex-husband that has continued through each of the three books so far. Sadly I think it was concluded in this book but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be more that is unraveled going forward.

I love the concept of this book – a writer’s retreat at a small B&B in a small town in Colorado. And with each retreat it seems like someone is being murdered, stumbles across a crime or is involved with it somehow. Crazy, right?! But that seems to make this series even more interesting to me.

This time it involves Shauna’s boyfriend and while most are not fans of Kevin, he seems to make Shauna happy…until he ends up dead and Shauna is a suspect. And there are some interesting twists with those involved with the writer’s retreat and how they play into the crime. Some might seem obvious but others are not.

I hope that the 4th book picks up where this one ends because there is a bit of the story that leaves you hanging and I want to know how a certain scenario plays out for Shauna.

We give this 5 paws up.

About the Author

CahoonUSA Today and New York Times, best-selling author, Lynn Cahoon is an Idaho native. If you’d visit the town where she grew up, you’d understand why her mysteries and romance novels focus around the depth and experience of small town life. Currently, she’s living in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi river where her imagination tends to wander. She lives with her husband and four fur babies.

Goodreads * Twitter * Facebook * Website * Amazon author page

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Check out the other blogs on this tour

December 1 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

December 1 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

December 2 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

December 2 – Reading Is My SuperPower – GUEST POST

December 3 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT – unable to post

December 3 – The Montana Bookaholic – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

December 4 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

December 4 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

December 5 – I Wish I Lived in a Library – REVIEW

December 5 – Deal Sharing Aunt – SPOTLIGHT

December 6 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

December 6 – Varietats – REVIEW, GUEST POST

December 7 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

December 7 – Mythical Books – SPOTLIGHT

December 8 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

December 9 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

December 10 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

December 11 – Book Babble – REVIEW

December 12 – Babs Book bistro – SPOTLIGHT

December 12 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 13 – The Bookwyrm’s Hoard – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

December 13 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

December 14 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

December 14 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT