Posted in Giveaway, Historical, romance on August 9, 2017

Celebrate National Book Lovers Day by indulging in a classic Regency romance

or perhaps trying a story from a Proper Romance author you haven’t read before.

Synopsis

Twenty-six-year-old Katie Macauley has placed all her hope in Hope Springs, a small town in the 1870 Wyoming Territory. But if she wants to return home to Ireland to make amends with her estranged family, she’ll need to convince the influential Joseph Archer to hold true to his word and keep her on his payroll as his housekeeper despite her Irish roots. The town is caught in an ongoing feud between the Irish and the “Reds” the frontiersmen who would rather see all the Irish run out of town and the Irish immigrants who are fighting to make a home for themselves in the New World. When Joseph agrees to keep Katie on as his housekeeper, the feud erupts anew, and Katie becomes the reluctant figurehead for the Irish townsfolk. As the violence escalates throughout the town, Katie must choose between the two men who have been vying for her love though only one might be able to restore hope to her heart.

Giveaway

Open to US & Canada Residents

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Posted in Giveaway, Historical, romance on August 6, 2017

Celebrate National Sisters Day with a book about Cassie, whose attempts to play matchmaker go awry when she falls in love with her sister’s potential suitor.

Synopsis

Cassie, the youngest of six daughters in the Wilton family, is bold, bright, and ready to enter society. There’s only one problem: her older sister Lenora, whose extreme shyness prevents her from attending many social events. Lenora is now entering her third season, and since their father has decreed that only one Wilton girl can be out at a time, Cassie has no choice except to wait her turn.

Evan Glenside, a soft-spoken, East London clerk, has just been named his great-uncle’s heir and, though he is eager to learn all that will be required of him, he struggles to feel accepted in a new town and in his new position.

A chance meeting between Evan and Lenora promises to change everything, but when Lenora proves too shy to pursue the relationship, Cassie begins to write Mr. Glenside letters in the name of her sister. Her good intentions lead to disaster when Cassie realizes she is falling in love with Evan. But then Evan begins to court Lenora, thinking she is the author of the letters.

As secrets are revealed, the hearts of Cassie, Evan, and Lenora are tested. Will the final letter sent by the vicar’s daughter be able to reunite the sisters as well as unite Evan with his true love?

You can read my review here

Giveaway

Open to US & Canada residents only

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Posted in Fantasy, Historical, romance, Spotlight, Trailer on July 28, 2017

Synopsis

A Twist of Fate… A Battle of Wills…

Aestrid Karisson, a Viking princess who lives by her own rules; fiercely free and independent – that is, whenever she can elude the watchful eyes of her overbearing father. When she escapes for an afternoon of adventure, she never suspected to forever alter her destiny.

Captured by a band of raiding Picts, Aestrid is adorned and bound for sacrifice. In the midst of their ritual of blood and fire, the Picts are ransacked by Veleif Kollsvein and his fearsome warriors. Reputed as the most brutal barbarian across all of the North Seas, Aestrid unwittingly trades one abductor for another. Journeying farther from her home across this unforgiving landscape; it isn’t until they reach Veleif’s stronghold that her true identity is discovered.

The oceans are cracking with ice, the mountains impassable, and Veleif refuses Aestrid’s pleas to be returned home. Determined to torment him until he complies, this vixen wages a personal war with the dark and dangerous Viking prince. But when Veleif’s high council decides the two must marry, and quickly, to unite their kingdoms – Veleif combats her with a campaign of his own. Seduction.

Can the wicked heat in Veleif’s game of delicious temptation melt Aestrid’s combative heart? Will the Viking prince tame this warrior princess and claim her as his willing bride? Or will she forever see him as nothing more than her heartless enemy?

His Viking Bride is a love story filled with folly and challenge, wit and passion… by two iron-willed characters who share more than their explosive traits… the ecstasy of all-consuming love.

Trailer

About the Author

Since Olivia Norem was old enough to remember, she devoured books and became enchanted with the worlds the authors created. Imagination, unforgettable characters, and the swoon-worthy, alpha males have made a huge impact on her writing style.

Olivia is known for strong, sassy characters who are always ready with a quip of humor, despite their situations. Born in the Chicago area, Olivia moved to the sunny shores of the Tampa Bay more years ago then she cares to admit. This “semi-native” writes full-time, and enjoys her “C” hobbies: cats, cigars and classic cars.

…and now, for a brief video interlude… Enjoy these Book Trailers

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Posted in Giveaway, Historical, Interview, romance on July 13, 2017

Title: Lord of Lies

Author: Amy Sandas

Series: Fallen Ladies, #3

ISBN: 9781492618782

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis

“You do strange things to me, Dell Turner. Tell me I am not alone in what I feel.”

His voice was low and rough. His eyes burned. “You are not alone,” he said.

Portia Chadwick longs for a life of adventure. When a dangerous moneylender kidnaps her sister, she dares to seek help from a man known only as Nightshade. Soon she finds herself charging headfirst into his world of intrigue and danger—and unexpected passion.

Dell Turner grew up in London’s back alleys and gin lanes. Vowing to escape his low beginnings, he hires himself out to society’s elite. When he accepts a job from a beautiful debutante, he doesn’t anticipate her relentless determination to join his mad occupation…or her unnerving ability to inspire emotions he thought long buried. She’s as dangerous to him as his world is to her, and yet Dell can’t bring himself to turn Portia away—even if it means risking her life.

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Interview with Amy

Elizabeth: What’s your favorite line from your new release, LORD OF LIES?

Amy: “He knew before he spoke, however, that a sensible lecture would only end in a roll of her fascinating eyes or a snort of derision before she went along doing exactly what she wanted to do anyway.”

 

Elizabeth: I know you have small children at your house just like I do.  What’s your number one tip for juggling mom life with author life?

Amy: The struggle is real! I don’t know if any mom feels they successfully juggle the many balls they have in the air. My number one tip to keep writing in the midst of mommy tasks is to set a routine and stick to it. The early morning hours of every day are for my writing. My kids still interrupt, but at least they are not surprised when I shoo them out the door.

 

Elizabeth: Let’s talk movies.  What’s the last movie you saw in the theater?  What’s your favorite movie? What movie are you embarrassed to admit that you love?

Amy: Last movie seen in the theater was the live-action Beauty and the Beast with my twelve-year old daughter. My favorite movie is constantly changing. Right now, it’s Wonder Woman. A movie I’m embarrassed to love—Bedazzled with Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley.

 

Elizabeth: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Amy: I’ve loved writing since I was a pre-teen, but it wasn’t until college that I knew I wanted to make a go of it as a career. It took many years after that to actually commit to a discipline that would make it happen.

 

Elizabeth: If you had to live within the world of any genre of romance, which one would you choose and why?

Amy: I’d have to go with contemporary. Specifically, the gritty, rock-and-roll, tattooed, dive bar contemporaries. Oh, to be young and rebellious again!

 

Elizabeth: Have any of your (adult) family members read your books?  Do you tear out the pages of the sex scenes? Or let them read the whole thing?

Amy: Yes, many of my adult family members have read at least one of my books. Even my grandpa! And, as far as I know, they read the whole thing. We just don’t talk specifics afterward…

About the Author

Amy Sandas’ love of romance began one summer when she stumbled across one of her mother’s Barbara Cartland books. Her affinity for writing began with sappy pre-teen poems and led to a Bachelor’s degree with an emphasis on Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She lives with her husband and children in Wisconsin.

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Title: The Wicked Heir

Author: Elizabeth Michels

Series: Spare Heirs, #3

ISBN: 9781492621393

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis

The Spare Heirs Society Cordially Invites You to Meet Fallon St. James: The Mastermind

When the love of Lady Isabelle Fairlyn’s life is betrothed to her twin sister, Isabelle vows to find a suitable replacement before the end of the season. He must be a talented dancer, have a keen fashion sense, and be perfectly dashing in every way.

Fallon St. James is the farthest thing from perfectly anything. As head of the secretive Spare Heirs Society, he must stick to the shadows…even as Isabelle’s friendship pulls him reluctantly into the light.  But when Isabelle gets involved with the one man who could destroy Spares, Fallon must decide between protecting his life’s work—or risking everything to save the woman whose warm smile leaves him breathless.

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Interview with Elizabeth

Amy: If you could be a character in any movie, which movie and what character would you want to be?

Elizabeth: Without a doubt I would want to be Mia Thermopolis in The Princess Diaries! She gets to learn to be a princess.  I mean, twist my arm, right?  Torture me with makeovers and learning to properly sip tea any day.  I won’t complain even a little. Mia Thermopolis has the bright future of one day ruling Genovia which looks a great deal like one of the countries in Epcot.  Again, it would be complete torture to have that to look forward to. 😉 And bonus—my grandmother would be Mary Poppins.  Not too shabby.

 

Amy: Who is your favorite musical artist of all time, and why?

Elizabeth: That’s such a tough question! I think I’ve now changed my answer on this 4 times, but in the end I have to go with Dave Matthews.  I’ve been to more of his concerts than any other band.  I can put on his live album with Tim Reynolds at Radio City Music Hall in the background at my house and be content to leave it on for hours.  I like any musical artist that tells a story or paints a picture with lyrics, so for me Dave Matthews Band is the perfect music…even if I did come really close to answering this question with Led Zeppelin.

 

Amy: Do you listen to music while you write? And if so, what do you listen to?

Elizabeth: I only listen to classical music and theme songs from movies while I’m writing because of the lyrics.  If I listen to a song with words, I stop writing to sing along, using the stapler on my desk as a microphone.  Yes, I discovered I have this problem the hard way.  I do, however, have inspiration music for each book.  I listen to it while I’m sipping my coffee or I’m in the car.

For THE WICKED HEIR, I listened to a mix that included the acoustic version of Everlong by the Foo Fighters, Everything Has Changed by Taylor Swift, Someone Like You by Adele, Crash Into Me by Dave Matthews, She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5, and a random selection of songs from Disney movies.  I blame my heroine, Isabelle, who is a bit of a princess for that last part.

 

Amy: If you could go anywhere in the world for a vacation, where would you go?

Elizabeth: London, of course! My house is in the country so I enjoy going to cities on vacation for a change of pace.  And what better city is there in the world than London, England? I love London, but I haven’t been able to go in years since I have a little one at home.  It seemed like a long flight for a wiggly little boy to sit through, but now that he’s getting older I’m hoping I can take a family vacation there in the coming years.  Until then I’ll just have to sip tea at home and dream.

 

Amy: If you had only one book to read for the rest of your life, what book would it be?

Elizabeth: Only one book?! Forever?! Man, ask me a tougher question, why don’t you, Amy.  Geez! I would have to go with the book that will always hold a special place in my heart: the one that hooked me on reading when I was a teenager.  There was a long list of acceptable books for summer reading that year.  I wasn’t a big reader at the time, so I sighed and looked down the list settling on a title that turned out to be AMAZING! After I read it, I wanted more and began devouring book after book for the first time in my life.  But that first one is still my favorite book of all time.  The book that changed my life: REBECCA by Daphne Du Maurier.

 

Amy: What is the strangest way that an idea has come to you for a story?

Elizabeth: LOL I definitely have to go with the plot of my debut novel, MUST LOVE DUKES, for this one.  I was in the shower one Saturday afternoon after working in my flower beds all morning.

It went something like this: shampoo, shampoo, shampoo… ENTIRE PLOT OF THE STORY SMASHING ME OVER THE HEAD! I gasped, didn’t even stop to rinse or repeat, and ran for a pen and paper before I could forget the details.  I wrote down a summary of the entire book with shampoo bubbles still dripping from my head.  And the rest is history.

 

Amy: Who is a favorite secondary character you’ve written, and why?

Elizabeth: Kelton Brice, Lord Hardaway! I love Kel! I can always count on him to go off on some tangent of complete randomness, and whatever story he tells, it always makes me giggle.  He’s one of those people who talks with his hands and is always in danger of accidentally back handing someone who gets too close when he’s mid tale of some adventure. I never know what he’s going to say, but you can bet that it will be slightly inappropriate and at top volume so that everyone on his side of town can hear it.  He’s awesome.  I want to be his friend.

About the Author

Elizabeth Michels grew up on a Christmas tree farm in rural South Carolina. After tip-toeing her way through school with her focus on ballet steps and her nose in a book, she met a boy and followed him a thousand miles away from home to Kansas City, Missouri, before settling down in North Carolina.

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Giveaway

Amy Sandas’ Fallen Ladies Series:
Luck Is No Lady
The Untouchable Earl
Lord of Lies

Elizabeth Michels’ Spare Heirs Series:
The Infamous Heir
The Rebel Heir
The Wicked Heir

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Posted in excerpt, fiction, Historical on July 7, 2017

The Velvet Prison Synopsis

Against the pulsating back drop of a New York City in social and economic change, young Travis Kane struggles with his passion to be an artist painter, and the conservative demands of his strict grandfather, Barclay Kane.

His mother, unable to come to terms with tragedy, has taken Travis’s infant sister and abandons him, leaving their house in Gramercy Park, and Travis to be raised by the grandfather he adores.

Travis enters a New York speakeasy, with a unique idea, that will change his life, leading him on an exciting journey, meeting Manhattan’s privileged, studying in art in Paris and, finding his way to Broadway.

Meanwhile, Lindsay Wayne’s mother, seamstress, has a secret, and a passion. Her daughter will become a famous stage actress, and this is her focus.

Lindsay and Travis’s worlds collide.

Their lives will never be the same again.

Excerpt

One week before his tenth birthday, Travis Kane felt safe and secure for the first time since his father’s death.  He stared at the burning logs, crackling and popping in the huge fireplace.  The warmth from the hearth wrapped around him like his mother’s arms.  He sat cross legged not able to take his eyes away from the dancing flames as the sound of rain pelted the library windows of the house on Gramercy Park.

Different aromas came from the kitchen, competing with the fire’s heat for Travis’s attention.  Hannah Kane, his mother, was cooking supper.  He reached to the floor and picked up his box of crayons. As usual he had been drawing and coloring.  Today he sketched houses, with pointed roof tops and small facades. His lines were long where they should be short, but the images and shapes were easy to identify. He feared the warmth from the fire would melt his colored sticks, which were in short supply. He gazed through the large library window which faced the park.

He could hardly make out the sharp outlines of the spreading trees bordering the square, its branches a cover from the sun, the leaves rich and green. They sagged under the heavy rain and dripped, like wet clothes on his mother’s clothes line. He remembered when the weather was bad, his father was late for supper. Travis pushed his legs out in front of him. Sitting back on his hands he looked up at his grandfather sitting in a large overstuffed chair at the fireside. Barclay Kane had his face buried in the evening newspaper.

He was always reading something. Travis watches his gray beard twitch back and forth in time with the movement of Barclay’s lips. He would nod his head from time to time but mostly he shook it from side to side. Travis knew he would hear the news that made his grandfather cranky at the supper table.

He caught glimpses of his mother, bobbing in and out of the dining room, carrying in food in hot steaming plates. She did not appear happy, smiling infrequently. Something had upset her, and he rolled over in his mind things he had done the last few days that might have irritated her. He was sure he would think of something, but his grandfather needed attention.

‘Idiot!’ Barclay shouted. ‘Oh, that idiot!’

Travis stiffened, his heart beat rapidly. He looked up at his grandfather’s face, now a bright red. ‘What…what?’ he stammered.

His own thoughts of misbehavior vanished. He waited to hear what Barclay was about to say, because Travis knew his grandfather always told him the truth. Barclay did not treat him like a child. Through small, wire-rimmed glasses, twinkling, blue eyes mixed with flashes of amusement, Barclay peeked over the top of the paper, and Travis felt his grandfather’s love, just as he used to feel the warmth and love of his father, before he died.

‘Our president is a coward, my boy.’

‘What’s a coward?’ Travis asked, his neck prickling with embarrassment.

Barclay sat back, dropped his newspaper in his lap. ‘A coward is our President, my boy.’ His eyebrows arched as he smiled.

Travis didn’t respond.’Well,’ Barclay said impatiently, ‘President Wilson is afraid to fight… to take sides. Instead of rising up against injustice, he has stepped back. He refuses to interfere.’

‘A coward doesn’t interfere?’ Travis asked. ‘Does that make him a dummy…an idiot?’ He reached to the floor and moved his sketches, further away from the fireplace. His hands moved across the first sketch and lightly touched waxy marks left by his colored crayons.

‘Oh, leave the boy alone, Barclay,’ Hannah said from the dining room. She stood with her hands on her hips. ‘You’re always filling him with such…stuff.’

‘How am I supposed to learn, Mama? Grandfather knows everything.’

Hannah’s eyes rolled upward as she went about her chores.

When he looked back at Barclay, he saw he was picking up his pipe from a side-table. Barclay struck a match against the bottom of the table, and lit it. He looked up at the ceiling and down at Travis before he said, “You could be right, my boy. Yes, you could be. There may be a difference.’

A flash of warmth swirled through Travis. He had ideas, too, but his grandfather rarely gave him credit for them.

‘I suppose we should draw a distinction between being afraid to fight, and not wanting to interfere.’

Travis relaxed, having made his point, he smiled.

‘A coward is the former, a pacifist the latter.’ Barclay puffed at his pipe, in obvious satisfaction with his answer. ‘Of course, the combination of two makes an idiot! Our President is an idiot!’

Travis giggled.

The Satin Sash Synopsis

After the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor in 1941, American lives change dramatically. The Satin Sash continues the breathtaking lives of Travis Kane, Lindsay Wayne and Jean-Paul Renault with all the inherent dangers of the French Resistance, President Roosevelt’s live or die missions, and death defying action when German spies secretly enter the US through it’s ports. A wedding reception and the lives of Travis Kane and his family are thrown into chaos as America enters World War II.

The Satin Sash is set against the explosive backgrounds of New York, France, London and Ireland. Travis Kane becomes President Roosevelt’s tool in bringing one of the world’s most famous paintings to New York. Racial tensions surface. A famous black activist enters politics and an actress makes choices in the face of heartbreaking tragedy. A public enemy serves his country in wartime and a black artist becomes famous. When a baby is born the future shows promise.

With tension, suspense and surprising plot twists, we continue to follow the lives of the people we loved in The Velvet Prison.

Excerpt

When Travis Kane hung his painting of Trinity Church in Nick’s speakeasy many years ago, he had no idea he’d be married in the same church in December of 1941. The Monday following Thanksgiving, Travis and Maggie were bundled in heavy coats after they left their meeting with Father Christi. Travis saw his breath as they walked down Wall Street.

Travis unhooked Maggie’s arm from his and kissed her on the cheek. Her face was cool like a chilled white wine. ‘I know it’s freezing cold,’ he said.

The decided on a small wedding since extravagence was on neither of their minds and Maggie wanted to be married in a church. Travis raised no objection.

‘Give me a moment,’ Travis said.

He turned and faced the front of the church. Even in the frigid air his eyes filled with moisture staring at the Gothic Revival structure remembering the difficulty he had in his original sketch of the 280 foot spire. It seemed to lean a bit to the left and when he adjusted the lines, it favored the right. His frustration eased when he hit the right pitch. He felt the balance even when closing his eyes which dropped to the three bronze doors designed by Richard Morris. Contrary to the harshness of the facade, the inside was warm and graceful, lighted by the elegance of the stained-glass wall behind the altar. He was fascinated by the replica of the Hamilton-Burr duel pistols in the small museum at the end of one of the aisles.

‘I don’t know about you, Darling,’ Maggie said interrupting his reverie, ‘but I’m freezing my…’

‘…Me, too,’ he said putting his arm around her. ‘What kind of people get married in December?’

‘Eskimos?’

She snuggled close to him as they began to walk.

‘Well who else?’ he said.

‘Us,’ she answered.

He threw his arm around her shoulders.

‘Oh, for God’s sake!’

Jean-Paul laughed. ‘All right. All right. Pack warm clothes for a warm climate, ocean views and sandy beaches.’

Travis sat in thought for a few seconds. ‘Well, that narrows it down.’

About the Author

Sheldon Friedman was born in St. Joseph Missouri. He lives in Denver, Colorado. He is a University of Denver graduate and practiced law in Denver until 2008. He taught legal courses at the University of Colorado Law School, University of Denver Law School and Daniels School of Business at the University of Denver. After leaving his law firm he joined a national mediation and arbitration firm until January, 2016. He is also an accomplished playwright, having a number of local readings and productions. His play The Long Goodbye was staged at Denver’s Crossroad’s Theater in 2010. His book, The Velvet Prison was named as a 2017 fiction award finalist by the Colorado Author’s League.

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Posted in excerpt, Fantasy, Historical on July 4, 2017

Synopsis

Visions of a Dream, published by Turtle Shell Publishing, is a story about Alexander the Great from a spiritual perspective.

The backdrop is Alexander’s world conquests, though Visions of a Dream focuses on the spiritual fire that ignites his actions as he learns from the other cultures he comes into contact with, for rather than attempting to assimilate them, he was inclusive of all people, all cultures, and all religions and he lived that belief…a timely message for the divisiveness in the world today. His closest relationships vie for his love but they also provide the steel he needs to be sharpened spiritually and emotionally. Before he conquers the world, he must first conquer his own mind. The first three parts of Visions of a Dream are in Alexander’s point of view to highlight his character, his resilience, his emotional depth, and his PTSD (The ancient Greek historian Herodotus first wrote about the emotional strain of war in his account of the Battle of Marathon over a century before Alexander’s time). The fourth and final part of the book is written in the point of view of one of Alexander’s closest companions, Baphomet (who is fictional and whose name means the absorption of knowledge in ancient times) – she contrasts his detachment even when he doesn’t realize he is emotionally detached and helps him to realize his destiny.

Excerpt

Alexander awoke to Hephaestion, seated on the bed beside him. Slowly and without words, he felt his plush bedding with his hands. His eyebrows twisted with confusion, he looked toward the sheer tent material behind Hephaestion. Panels of dark scarlet and gold complimented the purple.

He pushed off the bed and tried to stand, his sore leg barely tolerable. Staggering nearer to the lavish material, he reached out, running his fingers along a silky gold cord that streamed down beside. “What is all of this?” he asked.

“The lap of Persian luxury,” Hephaestion answered, walking across the carpet to stand beside Alexander.

“This is Darius’ tent?”

“No, this is only an officer’s tent.”

Alexander chuckled. He stepped forth, sliding his bare feet over the lush rug. “Is the dirt of God’s earth not good enough for them?”

“Apparently not.”

He continued to stroke the golden cord, for it was so tender to his skin and his hands were rough from constant work. Then he brushed his fingers over the sheer tent material again. “What is that smell?” he asked. “It is sweet.”

“Cinnamon,” Hephaestion informed, “you smell cinnamon.”

“And there is more…but what?” More so than asking Hephaestion a direct question, Alexander was contemplating to himself. He felt as though he had been thrown into the midst of a dream and only peace of spirit was missing. Alas, peace was everything, but so was investigation. After another silent moment, he noticed the candles burning throughout and inhaled deeply.

“Alexander,” Hephaestion called, beckoning Alexander’s thoughts out of the sublime and into the present. “Leonnatus requests an audience.”

Alexander turned toward the two men, both darkly-toned, though Hephaestion was by far the taller. “Sire,” Leonnatus spoke, “allow me to show you what I have discovered in King Darius’ tent.”

“You have already been through it?”

“No, Sire, but I did hear noise which demanded my attention.”

Alexander was now more confused than he had been since he had awoken. “Lead us on,” he said, ready to follow with Hephaestion by his side.

The morning sun was bright, for the clouds had all but entirely disappeared. Father, be with me, he pleaded in his mind…but why he could not be sure. For some reason, loneliness and vulnerability struck him. Even as countless soldiers cheered him as he passed. But he was not lonely, for he had Hephaestion beside him. He would always have Hephaestion. He could speak by spirit, he could be held by flesh, whenever he wished, with Hephaestion’s love.

As Leonnatus stopped, Alexander peered away from his beloved and turned his head – it was the grandest thing he had ever seen. A sheer purple tent stood before him, larger than any tent he had seen in his life, even his father’s. He touched the silks as he traveled further inside.

Tapestries of the deepest richest colors adorned every cushion, every blanket. Short tables beside the cushions were of the highest polish of wood and decorated with golden rims and designs. And he had not even seen the separate bedrooms yet.

Golden decanters and goblets were still situated upon the tables. Alexander wondered which one Darius himself had drunk from. As he breathed, the scents of roasted meat and spices filled his nostrils. He looked around in an effort to locate the food.

“Darius’ servants were preparing a celebration meal when we arrived last night. He was anticipating victory.”

“As well he would have,” Alexander reasoned. “He has never come to any other battle against us, therefore how could he know that he would never taste victory?”

Leonnatus pushed the curtain aside to enter another room, a room with a golden bath. Alexander smiled widely. “Take Darius’ servants and have them fill the bath with water. I am muddy, and blood is dried on my body and matted in my hair.”

“Hephaestion laughed. “So this,” he said, “is to be a king. Alexander, if only we had known sooner!”

“Shhh…” Alexander whispered. “Silence – I hear something.” He looked around to distinguish from wince the sobbing noises arose.

“That sounds like the cry of women,” Hephaestion said.

Alexander moved as though he were led by an unseen hand. “Over there,” he said, and pointed toward the far side of the tent.

Leonnatus broke in the appointed direction, but Hephaestion remained by Alexander’s side as the two followed at leisure, Alexander plucking a grape from the bath side table.

He passed through sheer curtain after sheer curtain before seeing Leonnatus again, in the room furthest to the back of the tent without any lit candles. It was the sun itself that illuminated the tent through the sheer curtain.

He took a breath upon seeing three grown women and several children. The women were veiled, though their eyes shone with tears – except the woman on the end, who covered her face in her hands as she sobbed.

“Uncover yourself,” Hephaestion told her in Persian. She lowered her hands, slowly, and rather reluctantly. Her dark, almond-shaped eyes gleamed. “Who are you women, and are those your children?”

The old woman, her eyes accentuated by deep brown creases, fell to Hephaestion’s feet and cried, “My King, may I have the body of my son so that I may bury him?” Alexander laughed; the woman raised her head, bewildered. Sheer terror seemed to besiege her face when she realized the mistake she had made.

“Do not be alarmed, woman,” Alexander said. “He is Alexander, too. What I want to know is – who is your son?”

“The Great King,” she answered.

Alexander’s eyebrows lifted in astonishment as his jaw fell. “You are his mother? He has left behind his mother?”

She lowered her head. “We are Persia’s sacrifice.”

“What makes you think that I have killed your son?”

“We heard that you returned with his bow and mantel. He would never have given those up while there was still breath in him.”

Alexander would have laughed at Darius’ impudence, if only this woman had not been so sorrowful. “Your son is not dead, Great Mother, only fled.”

The women sighed in relief. She bowed to Alexander. “My Lord,” she acknowledged. “Darius has abandoned us.”

“No, Great Mother, I am certain your son did as he thought he should, even when I do not understand it.”

But the woman’s tears became unmanageable. “No…”

“Come, Great Mother,” he said tenderly. “No harm will come to you here. I will see to your well-being, and the well-being of those with you.” He embraced her but glanced to the other two, younger women. “And who is this with you?”

“This is my son’s first wife and their servant.”

Alexander peered more intently toward the servant girl, for her dark eyes were stunningly familiar. “What is your servant‘s name?” he questioned.

“Baphomet,” the old woman said, “my grandchildren are also in her charge.”

“Baphomet,” he toyed, walking toward her. “That is a beautiful name…and so familiar.” He pulled her dark veil off…not angrily, but methodically, as though he had won the great prize he expected all along. “Baphomet…” he whispered.

“You told me once that you needed an interpreter, but you do well with the language,” she said with downcast eyes.

“I do need an interpreter,” he said, “an interpreter called Baphomet.”

Trailer

About the Author

Justine Johnston Hemmestad lives in Iowa with her husband and their seven kids (three of them are young adults now). She became interested in Alexander the Great’s story in the mid 1990’s after watching a documentary about him and admiring his persistence and perseverance. In 1990, when she was 19, her car was hit by a city bus in San Diego – she sustained a severe brain injury, was in a coma, paralyzed, and the doctors thought she wouldn’t recover (her story is in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries). Within a few months she was walking again and moved with her husband to Iowa where they started their family, and Justine began writing to cope with her recovery as well as severe PTSD. She began college part time in the mid-2000’s, as she continued to research and write Visions of a Dream. She has earned her BLS from The University of Iowa, and is now working on a Master’s Degree in Literature through Northern Arizona University. She will be participating in the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature Book Fair on October 14th of 2017.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance on July 2, 2017

Title: Lord of Lies

Author: Amy Sandas

Series: Fallen Ladies, #3

ISBN: 9781492618782

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis

“You do strange things to me, Dell Turner. Tell me I am not alone in what I feel.”

His voice was low and rough. His eyes burned. “You are not alone,” he said.

Portia Chadwick longs for a life of adventure. When a dangerous moneylender kidnaps her sister, she dares to seek help from a man known only as Nightshade. Soon she finds herself charging headfirst into his world of intrigue and danger—and unexpected passion.

Dell Turner grew up in London’s back alleys and gin lanes. Vowing to escape his low beginnings, he hires himself out to society’s elite. When he accepts a job from a beautiful debutante, he doesn’t anticipate her relentless determination to join his mad occupation…or her unnerving ability to inspire emotions he thought long buried. She’s as dangerous to him as his world is to her, and yet Dell can’t bring himself to turn Portia away—even if it means risking her life.

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Excerpt

He was home for only a few short minutes—not even long enough to shed the guise of Robert French—before there was a sharp knock at the front door. Morley was still taking care of the carriage and horses so wasn’t available to answer.
With a growl at being disturbed so blasted early in the day after being up all night, Dell lumbered from his study where he had been organizing a plan for his next steps in the Chadwick abduction. He opened the door just as the caller was about to knock again.

The disturbing slate-gray gaze of the precocious Miss Chadwick widened with a start before she low­ered her arm.

Dell’s immediate instinctive response was to slam the door shut. This woman triggered far too many distractions in his mind, as well as his body. She set him on edge, made him feel less in control.

He didn’t slam the door because his next thought was the realization that such a reaction would only pique her curiosity even more. He would need to employ another tactic to get rid of her.

Altering his voice to the smooth, unassuming, lilt­ing tones of Robert French, Dell asked, “Can I help you, miss?”

She tilted her head beneath the wide fall of her cloak hood, and her striking eyes narrowed dangerously. He was suddenly intensely aware of his appearance. French’s look often drew interested gazes from bold young women. Women who understood his jaunty swagger and the overt sensuality in his movement and expression.

Dell felt Portia Chadwick’s gaze like a stream of concentrated interest shooting straight to the center of his chest.

Then she smiled.

His body instantly reacted.

What the hell?

Dell straightened his spine and tried to look down his—or rather French’s—nose at her. Not that he thought any kind of intimidation would work on the chit, but he needed some way to distract from his unwelcome and wholly disturbing reaction.

“I believe you can,” she answered before she boldly strode across the threshold.

At any other time and with anyone else, Dell would never have allowed a person to just enter his home in such a way. But his current physical sensitivity to this woman had him stepping back on instinct to avoid direct contact, which gave her just enough room to sweep the rest of the way into the house.

Damn and blast.

Closing the door with a hard click, he turned to face her and saw that she had already crossed the small hall to the parlor. Dell gritted his teeth so hard his jaw ached. Following her into the front room, he watched with a further tightening in his loins as she swept her voluminous cloak from her shoulders to toss it care­lessly to the sofa.

She was still clothed in the same evening gown from the night before. Dell couldn’t stop his gaze from dropping briefly down her narrow back to the suggestive curve of her hips and buttocks before she spun around again to face him.

“I do not believe it is proper manners to so rudely force your way into someone’s home,” he said almost plaintively. “Especially when they are not at home.”

She laughed then, a full-bodied sound accompanied by a knowing flash in her eyes. She arched her winged black brows and placed her hands on her hips. “Do not bother with the theatrics. I know it is you, Mr. Turner,” she declared.

How the hell had she known?

The first time anyone had ever seen through one of his disguises, and it had to be she.

Dell considered denying it, but figured the truth would likely get her out of there faster.

“Fine,” he said in his natural voice, which carried more than a hint of his annoyance. “Mind telling me what the hell you are doing back here? I told you I would let you know when I learned something.”

“And did you? Learn something?” she asked, her tone hopeful.

“Not yet,” he replied stiffly, expecting her to press him further or demand he do more.

“Well, the situation has changed.”

Dell narrowed his gaze. “How?”

“My sister returned home safely less than two hours ago.”

It was not what he’d expected to hear. But it would do. “You have come to pay the remainder of my fee, then?”

She tipped her head, allowing the black ringlets falling from her coiffure to gently graze her col­larbone. “Not exactly.” Turning away, she strolled toward the front window.

“Then what? Exactly?” he asked, fighting the inex­plicable desire to follow her across the room.

She glanced back over her shoulder with a chal­lenging light in her gaze. “You were hired to find my sister and bring her home. Since she obviously managed to do that on her own, I have decided to give you another chance to earn your full fee.”

Crossing his arms over his chest, Dell asked, “What would you have me do now?”

About the Author

Amy Sandas’ love of romance began one summer when she stumbled across one of her mother’s Barbara Cartland books. Her affinity for writing began with sappy pre-teen poems and led to a Bachelor’s degree with an emphasis on Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She lives with her husband and children in Wisconsin.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance, Spotlight on June 29, 2017

Title: Scandalous Ever After

Series: Romance of the Turf #2

Author: Theresa Romain

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 9781492649021

Synopsis

Does love really heal all wounds?

After being widowed by a steeplechase accident in Ireland, Lady Kate Whelan abandons the turf. But once her mourning is complete, her late husband’s debts drive her to seek help in Newmarket amidst the whirl of a race meet. There she encounters antiquities expert Evan Rhys, her late husband’s roguish friend—whom she hasn’t seen since the day of his lordship’s mysterious death.

Now that fate has reunited them, Evan seizes the chance to win over the woman he’s always loved. But once back within the old stone walls of Whelan House, long-held secrets come to light that shake up everything Kate thought she knew about her marriage. Now she wonders who she can trust with her heart—and Evan must decide between love and a truth that will separate him from all his heart desires.

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Two of Theresa’s favorite summer activities

If I were creating the sort of profile I admire, I’d tell you that my favorite summer activities include splashing in the ocean, or camping in the backyard after having a barbecue. But the truth is that I’m hundreds of miles from the nearest beach, and my favorite thing to do there was always to make a giant dolphin out of sand. And I can’t bear to be outside in 100+ heat, especially when the mosquitos are biting.

However, there are so many lovely little things about summer that I do enjoy. Specifically…

  1. Having more time to read. I might not be on a beach relaxing to the sound of waves, but that doesn’t mean I won’t have a book in my hand. The pace is a little slower in summer, and I love taking time to sprawl out on the couch and whittle down my TBR pile. (Just kidding. The TBR pile never gets smaller, because I never stop buying books.)
  2. More flexibility in the schedule. Yes, my husband and I are still working, and sure, Little Miss R is still in school activities. But we can be more lax about her schedule, and there’s never any homework. That’s good news for the mom who wrangles all of the papers, as well as the kid who does the work.

In SCANDALOUS EVER AFTER, there are no frozen treats or backyard campfires—but there *is* a sea, and Lady Kate Whelan and Evan Rhys find themselves on a road trip of a lifetime. Between ferries and floods, treats and horses and races, sickness and health and more than one scandalous interlude, these two old friends will find a love they never expected—and unearth secrets they never dreamed of. I hope you’ll enjoy this romantic summer read!

Excerpt

“Kate, is all this for my benefit?”

“Why, what do you mean?” Seating herself on the red velvet settee, she hitched one leg up and spread the dressing robe about it. Then she lowered her leg again, crossing it over the other. Each time, pale flesh shone new and enticing through the shifting fabric.

The more she fidgeted, the more he wanted to gather her up in his arms and hold her. Settle her. Kiss her into calm and pleasure.

Lord. He was going to die in this room.

Already it had been a long day; agonizingly, sweetly long. They had stayed at the Rowley Mile’s rail for the day’s remaining races, though Evan couldn’t have sworn whether horses or dogs or monkeys ran the course.

No one else fell. He knew that much. One fall was bad enough.

Or had it been a blessing in disguise? Kate had been shaken, badly, at the sight of a prone body on a racecourse. But Evan could recall nothing so determined as the way she lifted her chin and decided to stick out the rest of the schedule.

Perhaps she saw nothing when she looked at the track. Perhaps she was in the Ireland of two years ago, remembering Con’s fall. But she had stood beside Evan and let him hold her, and he helped her not to be alone. Whether or not she knew it, she did the same for him.

“I was thinking”—she spoke again, still wildly rearranging herself on the settee—“that this could be the perfect arrangement. Two friends who care for each other very much, giving each other pleasure.”

The breezy explanation was perfunctory, so much so that it took him aback. From the end of the settee, he peered down at her. “Is that what this invitation meant to you?”

“What else should it have meant?”

“I don’t know that it should mean anything at all.” He sighed, tucking himself beside her at the end of the settee. “Kate. If you want comfort, I’ll comfort you, as innocently as you like. I’m good at brushing hair.”

Thunk. Her just-hoisted foot slid to the floor. “I don’t need my hair brushed.”

“I could let you hold my hand, then. It can be comforting, holding a hand.”

Her shoulders hunched. “I don’t need my hand held either.”

“Good, good. As delightful as that can be, it loses its savor after a while.” He trembled on the edge of honesty, then tipped. “You seem—is this—are you trying to recapture some old closeness? Because I don’t think we—”

“God, no.” She laughed, a shaky, startled burst. “I don’t want to recapture anything, Evan. If I did, you’d be eating porridge, and I’d be sipping whisky, and… well. The whole day would have gone differently.” Her whole body seemed to flush. She was pink and cream, warm colors all over.

Not unaffected, then. He could draw her out. “The day of races?”

“The day of…everything. Today, I decided I was ready for a change.”

“You were thinking of this sort of change,” he said. “Us. Alone. Tonight.”

“I was.” She tied her dressing robe about her more tightly. “I could not stop, once the idea seized me. Damn propriety and all that sort of thing.”

“Then why not untie the robe instead?”

“Well…about that. Now that you are here, I have started to…to think about what we might do.”

“That sounds delightful.” He grappled with the weighty bolster at his side, tugging it free and flinging it over the arm of the settee. “Though from the mil- lion pauses in your speech, I wonder if it strikes you the same way.”

“It…does. But I am so aware that you have seen me only in clothes—”

“As opposed to what? Mermaid skins?”

She sputtered. “Is that even a real—never mind… No. You know what I mean. This will be different.”

“It will only be as different as you want it to be.”

“Maybe. That’s what I was hoping. I want different.” She swung her feet, bare toes tapping the floor before the hearth. “Evan, I thought it would be easy. Being different with you. But now…I’m nervous. Are you?”

“No.”

For the sake of graciousness, he probably should not have replied so swiftly. But nervous? Not in the least.

Nervous was waiting not once, but twice, to hear whether she would be safely delivered of a baby, or whether she would lose her life in childbed. Nervous was waiting, five years ago, for her ship to return her across the Irish Sea from her last trip to England.

Nervous was how he felt when her life was at stake. Now? He felt newly born, in all the frailty and triumph that the phrase implied.

“I’m not nervous at all,” he said.

About the Author

Historical romance author THERESA ROMAIN pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in Wichita, Kansas.

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Posted in 4 paws, Adventure, Giveaway, Historical, Review, romance, Western on June 28, 2017

BADLANDS

Sawbones, Book 3

by

MELISSA LENHARDT

!!NEW RELEASE!!

 

  Genre: Historical / Western / Action-Adventure / Romance

Publisher: Redhook

Date of Publication: June 27, 2017

Number of Pages: 416

Outlander meets post-Civil War unrest in the conclusion to Melissa Lenhardt’s fast-paced historical series.

Laura’s worst fears have been realized: Kindle has been taken into custody and she is once again on the run. The noose awaits her in New York, but Laura is realizing that there are some things worse than death. Finally running out of places to hide, it may be time for Dr. Catherine Bennett to face her past.

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The end of a trilogy that comes full circle for Catherine/Laura/Helen (the woman with many names).

When I first started reading this series, the grittiness and violence took me by surprise. While we know that the late 1800’s in the west was not a tame period or place to be, I was a bit surprised by how detailed the books were in describing the raids on and by the indians, the whore houses and just people in general. I have heard that some compare this to Outlander. I’ve never read that book but would imagine is it the raw and rough scenes that cause the comparison.

This book/series holds nothing back and really entranced me as the reader, imagining what it would be like to live in those times and under those conditions. The type of medical care that wasn’t really available and the charlatans that sold “snake oil” as cures for whatever ailed you.

Catherine/Laura/Helen is definitely a strong female character, but almost too strong in my opinion. I know that she never expected to fall in love and get married, and I know that this time period women were not seen as equals but almost as servants to their husband. Other women were fiercely strong too including Rosemond who is trying to make an honest living out her life and erase her own past. Laura and Rosemond may think they are different from each other, but really are alike in many ways and figure this out in the 2nd and 3rd books. I had to admire the gumption of many of the women in this book for taking their future into their own hands and not being dictated by society.

There are so many facets to this story that I thought the author did a wonderful job of exploring and leaving us with a mixed bag of emotions throughout the series.

We give this book (and the series) 4 paws up!

about the author

melissa-lenhardtMelissa Lenhardt writes mystery, historical fiction, and women’s fiction. Her short fiction has appeared in Heater Mystery Magazine, The Western Online, and Christmas Nookies, a holiday romance anthology. Her debut novel, Stillwater, was a finalist for the 2014 Whidbey Writers’ MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest. She is a member of the DFW Writers’ Workshop and vice president of the Sisters in Crime North Dallas Chapter. Melissa lives in Texas, with her husband and two sons.

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Posted in Christian, Giveaway, Guest Post, Historical, romance on June 26, 2017

HEART ON THE LINE

Ladies of Harper’s Station #2

by

Karen Witemeyer

  Genre: Christian / Historical / Frontier Romance

Publisher: Bethany House

Date of Publication: June 6, 2017

Number of Pages: 336

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Grace Mallory is tired of hiding. She hungers for a normal life, perhaps even a suitor like two of her friends in Harper’s Station have found. But when the man she believes responsible for her father’s death discovers her whereabouts, survival takes priority.

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His fellow telegrapher, the mysterious Miss G, has been the ideal companion. For months, their friendship—dare he believe, courtship?—over the wire has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intends for him. However, when he intercepts an ominous message and discovers her life is in peril, Amos must shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.

 

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PRAISE FOR HEART ON THE LINE

“Witemeyer blends history, suspense, and romance with touches of humor. Women will enjoy this story that proves heroes come in unexpected shapes and sizes and not always on a white charger.”Christian Market

“Online dating meets 1890s Texas in this charming, spiritually deep, laugh-out-loud funny romance!”—reader review on Goodreads

 

The Inspiration behind Heart on the Line

The inspiration for Heart on the Line began way back in 2011 when I was doing research on telegraph communication for an older book. I stumbled upon a novel written in 1879 by female telegraph operator Ella Cheever called Wired Love.

Apparently many operators were women in the late 19th century, and they were often identified as such by the delicacy of their “sounding” on the wires. The hero in Miss Thayer’s novel, Clem Stanwood, knows right away that the operator at the “B m” station is female.

Nattie Rogers is intrigued by the mysterious “C” at the “X n” station and seeks out conversations that soon turn flirtatious. These two telegraph operators fall in love over the wire without ever laying eyes on one another.

There is one scene about halfway through the book that served as my inspiration for Heart on the Line. A case of mistaken identity had scared Nattie off, but Mr. Stanwood arranges a visit to her boarding house, and while sitting amongst others in the parlor, he begins tapping out code with his pencil against a marble table top. Nattie recognizes her call name and, taking up a pair of scissors, drums out her own answer. They carry on an entire conversation this way with no one else in the parlor suspecting their action were anything more than idle tapping. Until, that is, Mr. Stanwood reveals himself to be the real “C”.

Nattie jumps to her feet and exclaims aloud, “What do you mean? It cannot be possible!”

Don’t you love it? Hysterical!

Of course everyone else in the room thinks she’s lost her mind except the hero who crosses the room to take her hand.  Awww…

Wired Love: A Romance of Dots and Dashes was a best selling book for over 10 years. And why not? The story is timeless. Remember You’ve Got Mail, which was adapted to e-mail from The Shop Around the Corner where Jimmy Stewart did his courting through letters? Very similar premise. And there are so many parallels to dating in today’s wired world. Can you trust that she looks like her description? Is he a gentleman or a stalker? How about the awkwardness of the first face-to-face meet? And with all the abbreviations used on the telegraph lines, it reminded me of the text speak our kids use today. It is really rather eerie how easily Ella Thayer’s story translates to our contemporary society 130 years after it was written.

In Heart on the Line, I had a great deal of fun creating situations where my two telegraph operators communicated through coded tapping without anyone else being able to understand the significance of their private conversations.

You never know when a random research trail will lead to the perfect plot for a new book.

 

Winner of the HOLT Medallion and the Carol Award and a finalist for the RITA and Christy Award, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes historical romance to give the world more happily-ever-afters. Karen makes her home in Texas, with her husband and three children.

 

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