Posted in Book Release, fiction, Historical on June 18, 2017

Synopsis

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth …no matter where it leads.

About the Author

Kate Quinn is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance, before turning to the 20th century with “The Alice Network.” All have been translated into multiple languages.

Kate and her husband now live in Maryland with two black dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia, and her interests include opera, action movies, cooking, and the Boston Red Sox.

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Posted in excerpt, Family, Giveaway, Historical, Trailer, women on May 27, 2017

BEFORE THE RAIN FALLS

by

CAMILLE DI MAIO

 

  Genre: Women’s Fiction / Historical / Family

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Date of Publication: May 16, 2017

Number of Pages: 334

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After serving seventy years in prison for the murder of her sister, Eula, Della Lee has finally returned home to the Texas town of Puerto Pesar. She’s free from confinement—and ready to tell her secrets before it’s too late.

She finds a willing audience in journalist Mick Anders, who is reeling after his suspension from a Boston newspaper and in town, reluctantly, to investigate a mysterious portrait of Eula that reportedly sheds tears. He crosses paths with Dr. Paloma Vega, who’s visiting Puerto Pesar with her own mission: to take care of her ailing grandmother and to rescue her rebellious younger sister before something terrible happens. Paloma and Mick have their reasons to be in the hot, parched border town whose name translates as “Port of Regret.” But they don’t anticipate how their lives will be changed forever.

Moving and engrossing, this dual story alternates between Della’s dark ordeals of the 1940s and Paloma and Mick’s present-day search for answers―about roots, family, love, and what is truly important in life.

Check out the book trailer!

Praise for Before the Rain Falls

Still wiping away tears! Before the Rain Falls is simultaneously heartbreaking, hopeful, and joyous: a story of complex characters with varied pasts and bright futures. Loved it! – Jennifer B. on Goodreads

This novel takes readers on an emotional, fast-paced, ride through one sister’s journey to self, redemption, and the true meaning of “freedom.” – Nicole W. on Goodreads

There is romance, mystery, and secrets that are kept till the very end that will have you not wanting this beautifully written story to end. – Carol B. on Goodreads

Excerpt from Before the Rain Falls, Chapter One

By Camille DiMaio

The portraits were definitely not where they belonged. They had hung over the bed, side by side, the two girls immortalized by the painter at the seaside. Now there were two spots of floral wallpaper, patches of brightness surrounded by faded print on the rest of the wall.  Della’s painting was likely in the shed somewhere, and the other was said to hang in the church, in a little shrine made to the town’s beloved girl. She’d heard some nonsense about it crying. Well, if it was, there was a lot to cry about.

In the morning, she planned to go to the church itself – Our Lady of Guadalupe. Her first foray into town. She’d found an old hat with a black veil, fashionable in its time, and perfect for whatever anonymity she could retain. She did not yet know if her notorious celebrity of the forties was still of interest to anyone today, but it felt too soon to find out.

She looked forward to venturing out. To breathe in fresh air, to see the sky and the trees and the clouds and the birds. The yard at the penitentiary was vast, but surrounded by tall brick walls and taller barbed wire that blocked the scene. Besides, one had to look out, not up, and be mindful of theft from fellow inmates and groping from the restless hands of the guards. Though that last part had not been an issue for her in the past few decades.

Funny how she could view her life in ten year spans. The nineteen forties – when she learned to be a champion catcher of greased pigs. The fifties – when she discovered a love of reading. The sixties – when she sabotaged her chance at parole. And so on. How long they all were. And yet they seemed like yesterday. Time was a droll companion when looked upon with such distance.

Those were the After Days, the ones that comprised most of the years of her life. More than most people lived. The days in which her sister was no longer the belle of Puerto Pesar, drawing crowds from around the country to the little church on Sunday mornings. The days, instead, when Eula resided six feet below the parched soil in the churchyard.

Della didn’t know what to call this new time. The Freedom Days, perhaps, but that didn’t seem quite right. It wasn’t enough that she could now walk around without bars to block the view. That was only one kind of freedom.

It was the freedom in telling your secrets before it was too late. Like the confessional of her youth, whispering things to Fr. Medina that she told no one else. About how she missed her mother. Her guilt over not being a good enough caregiver for her sister. Della had a story and she was ready to tell it.

She would think of this time as the Truth Days. That was it.

The Truth Days.

And it would start by visiting Eula.

DiMaio PicCamille is an award-winning real estate agent in San Antonio who, along with her husband of 18 years, home schools their four children. She has a bucket list that is never-ending, and uses her adventures to inspire her writing. She’s lived in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California, and spends enough time in Hawai’i to feel like a local. She’s traveled to four continents (so far), and met Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. She just about fainted when she had a chance to meet her musical idol, Paul McCartney, too. Camille studied political science in college, but found working on actual campaigns much more fun. She belts out Broadway tunes whenever the moment strikes, and forever stays up late reading “just one more chapter”. There’s almost nothing she wouldn’t try, so long as it doesn’t involve heights, roller skates, or anything illegal. “The Memory of Us” is Camille’s debut novel. Her second, “Before the Rain Falls” will be released in the spring of 2017.

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5/22 Author Interview Chapter Break Book Blog
5/23 Review Syd Savvy
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5/26 Review Reading By Moonlight
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Posted in Historical, romance, Spotlight, Western on May 25, 2017

BLOOD OATH

A Laura Elliston Novel, Book 2

by

MELISSA LENHARDT

NEW RELEASE 

 

  Genre: Historical / Western / Action-Adventure / Romance

Publisher: Redhook

Date of Publication: May 23, 2017

Number of Pages: 384

Outlander meets post-Civil War unrest in this action-packed follow up to Sawbones.

Laura Elliston and William Kindle are on the run — from the Army and from every miscreant in the West eager to claim the $500 bounty for Laura’s capture as their own. But the danger isn’t just from those pursuing them. Laura and Kindle have demons of their own and a past that won’t stay dead. Exhausted, scared, scarred and surrounded by enemies, neither realize the greatest danger is yet to come.

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Watch Lone Star Book Blog Tours for the Badlands tour starting June 27th

with reviews of Blood Oath, Badlands, and Special Features with the inside scoop!

 

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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5/23 CGB Blog Tours
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5/24 Reading By Moonlight
5/24 My Book Fix Blog
5/25 StoreyBook Reviews
5/25 Syd Savvy
5/26 Chapter Break Book Blog
5/26 Texas Book Lover
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5/27 Books and Broomsticks

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Posted in excerpt, Historical, Review, romance on May 23, 2017

Title: As the Liquor Flows
Author: Angela Christina Archer
Publisher: Long Valley Press
Genre: Historical Romance (Sweeter/Lower Heat Level)
Pages: 256
Publication Date: March 19, 2016
ISBN: 978-0692660546

Synopsis

Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, the day the stock market crashed, and the day Evelyn Ford will never forget.

With the untimely death of her parents and the loss of their only income, Evelyn, and her brother, Frank flee to a make-shift hovel built in Central Park.

After Frank mysteriously goes missing, bare cupboards force Evelyn to seek employment anywhere she can find work, even if that means working at a burlesque theater.

Catching the attention of Don Vincent Giovanni, a Kingpin in the New York mafia, Evelyn discovers that Frank is serving time in prison for running hooch and he owes Vincent a lot of money. In order to pay off her brother’s debt, Evelyn is thrown into the world of mobsters and bootlegging.

Between running hooch all over the city of New York and trying to save her brother, Evelyn finds herself drawn to Max Catalano, Vincent’s Consigliere. Even with secrets of his own, he’s the only one she can trust when she entangles herself in the middle of the New York mafia crime wars.

Excerpt

“Does it matter if I am doing all right or not?”

“It matters to me.”

Nervous energy itched through my skin.

It mattered to him?

“I don’t know how I’m supposed to stay here,” I said, ignoring his admission. “Any one of those bullets could have hit me by accident and a . . . a young man lost his . . . the three of you murdered him.”

“I never hit him. I never hit any of them. I shot in his direction, but it wasn’t my bullet that killed him.”

“How do you know that?”

“Because I know. I’m trained to know.”

“Well, I don’t care. All I care about is getting out of here. I’ve to get out of here. I’ve got to get away from Vincent and this house and whatever business that he’s involved in.”

I shoved past him and his arms wrapped around my waist. His shoulders towered over mine with an intense strength, and yet, a concerned passion and honesty that left me gasping for breath, He drew me into him. My heart thumped hard. My body trembled in his arms.

“You know you can’t leave.”

“How am I supposed to just pretend that nothing is wrong?”

“You pretend for Frank’s sake. You pretend to keep him alive and to keep you alive.”

Two truths I already knew, and yet, didn’t want to admit to myself. I wanted Vincent to pay for what he’d done to my family. I wanted him to sit in a prison cell behind iron bars like Frank, whose crime wasn’t even one-tenth as horrific as the crime he committed yesterday. I wanted him to squirm as he sat in a courtroom and listened as a judge sentenced him for murder.

Yet, no matter how much I wanted it, I knew the Kingpin, the boss of bosses, the powerful Vincent Giovanni would never see one ounce of punishment.

“I don’t know how I can,” I whispered.

Without any ounce of hesitation, his hands slid up my neck, cradling my cheeks. His body so close to mine, he pressed into me, weakening my knees. His lips brushed against my forehead for a moment, giving me a soft kiss before they traced down the side of my temple. His hot breath warmed my skin.

I closed my eyes and held my breath.

He jerked away from me, shaking his head as though someone had slapped him.

“I’m sorry, Evelyn. I shouldn’t have done that.”

“It’s all right,” I whispered, fighting my disappointment.

Review

When I first agreed to review this book, I thought it was a cozy/mystery. I am going to say not a mystery (and I blame no one but myself for thinking this!) and then as I started reading I thought it was a dystopian book…nope, it is set in the early 1930’s during the depression. It took me awhile to figure this out (and once again no one’s fault but mine as I should have read the synopsis again before starting the book because it clearly gives the time frame!). With all that said, here is what I thought of the book:

Evelyn Ford is a scrappy young woman that is just trying to survive during the depression. She seeks employment at a burlesque theater and steps into a world that is nothing she could ever imagined. You could feel her discomfort being in that theater and putting on a skimpy dress to dance for men…and skimpy in that time frame covers a heck of a lot more than what you would see today. What she doesn’t expect to find in her journey is her true love with Max, and even he turns out to have his own secrets.

There are gangsters involved in this story – because what would prohibition be without hooch smuggling and such?! Evelyn has to summon the strength to stand up to a kingpin and she does a decent job for someone that never has known that world.

Overall this is a very enjoyable story and it took me back to a time that I could only read about or watch in movies. I felt the book was accurate to the time period and what was going on during the depression.

We give it 4 paws up

About the Author

Angela lives on a ranch with her husband, two daughters, and many farm animals. She was born and raised in Nevada, and grew up riding and showing horses from hunter jumper, English equitation, western pleasure, trail, and halter. While she doesn’t show anymore, she still loves to trail ride her paint horse, Honky. In December of 2007, she and her husband moved to Oklahoma.

From a young age, she always wanted to write a novel. However, she never believed she could write anything well enough for a publisher to even consider her. Every time the desire flickered, she shoved the thought from my mind until one morning, in 2009, she awoke with the determination to follow her dream.

In December 2014, Angela launched Long Valley Press.

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Posted in Cozy, excerpt, Giveaway, Guest Post, Historical, mystery on May 20, 2017

Mrs. Odboddy: Undercover Courier

Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Elk Grove Publications (February 8, 2017)
Print Length: 199 pages
ASIN: B06WCZMFGN

Synopsis

Asked to accompany Mrs. Roosevelt on her Pacific Island tour, Agnes and Katherine travel by train to Washington, D.C. Agnes carries a package for Colonel Farthingworth to President Roosevelt.

Convinced the package contains secret war documents, Agnes expects Nazi spies to try and derail her mission.

She meets Irving, whose wife mysteriously disappears from the train; Nanny, the unfeeling caregiver to little Madeline; two soldiers bound for training as Tuskegee airmen; and Charles, the shell-shocked veteran, who lends an unexpected helping hand. Who will Agnes trust? Who is the Nazi spy?

When enemy forces make a final attempt to steal the package in Washington, D.C., Agnes must accept her own vulnerability as a warrior on the home front.

Can Agnes overcome multiple obstacles, deliver the package to the President, and still meet Mrs. Roosevelt’s plane before she leaves for the Pacific Islands?

Mrs. Odboddy: Undercover Courier is a hysterical frolic on a train across the United States during WWII, as Agnes embarks on this critical mission.

Guest Post

While researching events during WWII for my humorous mystery/adventure, Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot, and Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier, I found some interesting facts about life in the USA. during World War II:

Rationing: Because vital supplies were needed for the troops, ration stamp booklets were issued to American housewives. Many items including meat, sugar and fresh fruit were in short supply and could only be purchased with the appropriate ration stamp.

Due to blockades affecting Brazilian ships attempting to bring coffee and sugar to the USA during part of 1942-43, coffee was rationed to one pound per adult every six weeks. (This alone was reason to go to war.)

Eggs were in short supply and costly, resulting in many resident chickens in suburban backyards.

Tires: A citizen was allowed to purchase only five tires during the entire war. By today’s standards, that sounds sufficient, but despite a 35 mph national speed limit, bumpy roads and poor quality rubber led to multiple flat tires. Doctors and public safety professionals were allowed additional tire and gasoline stamps. Gasoline was rationed to four gallons per week per adult. Folks relied on car pool, buses, bicycles or walking. Men working out of town often boarded away from home and came home only intermittently.

Such shortages of food and other supplies led to black market ration books or ‘arrangements’ between friends willing to sell stamps they didn’t need.

Victory Gardens: Citizens appeared unpatriotic if they didn’t plant a victory garden. Suburban front yards were soon converted to rows of cabbages, zucchinis, tomatoes and carrots. Vegetables with a high yield requiring limited growing space became the main ingredient of Meatless Monday meals. Mrs. Roosevelt planted zucchini in the White House Rose Garden.

Watch Towers: Ever fearful of another Japanese air attack on the West Coast, and the limited availability of newly discovered radar technology, volunteers became the ‘early warning system’ in watch towers every several miles along the California and Oregon coastline.

Train Travel: Though trains traveled all the way across the U.S.A. there was no direct line and travelers often had to change from one train to another, with hours long layovers of hours or days between connections.

These events are highlighted in both of my novels. In Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier, Agnes and Katherine travel from California to Washington D.C. to accompany Mrs. Roosevelt on her Pacific Island tour. Carrying a package to the President she believes contains secret war documents, it is no surprise to encounter a man she believes is a Nazi spy. When she is witness to his ‘committing murder,’ she is sure she will be next on his hit list. Join Mrs. Odboddy on her hysterical romp across the USA. Filled with laugh and suspense, you will enjoy a bit of history along the way.

Excerpt – Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier

“Do you want to order some breakfast, Grandmother?” Katherine said.

“No, thank you. Just coffee. Well, maybe a muffin…with jam. That would be nice.”

The waiter nodded and turned away.

“Wait! Maybe a bowl of stewed prunes for my digestion…” Agnes lifted her head and sniffed. “And, a couple strips of bacon. It smells so wonderful.”

The waiter made notes on his tablet. “Is that all, ma’am? Are you sure you won’t be requiring something else?”

“No, thank you. That’s fine. I’m not really hungry.”

“I can see something has upset you, Grandma. What is it this time?”

Agnes shook her head. She leaned across the table and whispered. “It’s Irving. I think he killed Geraldine last night, and now he’s coming after me!”

“What?” Katherine’s voice rang through the dining car.

Heads turned and passengers stared.

“Katherine. People are staring.” Agnes lowered her head. “I said, Irving killed Geraldine. Last night, I saw him throw her fur cape off the platform. This morning, he told me she left the train at the water stop in the middle of the night. How ridiculous is that? Who would get off at a water stop? That’s hogwash.”

“Really, Grandmother! Here-We-Go-Again is leading the pack by a nose, running down the track…

“It’s the only explanation that makes sense. He killed her. I had just stepped out onto the platform. That’s when I saw him throw off her fur cape. We have to notify the authorities.”

Katherine shook her head. I-Can’t-Believe-This has taken the lead, running neck and neck with Here-We-Go-Again…“You’re not serious… Grandma, you’re always imagining… I mean… Sometimes you get carried away and… There must be a logical explanation. You can’t accuse someone of murder just because you saw him throw something off the train. Maybe it wasn’t Geraldine’s fur cape. Maybe it was something else, like his newspaper.”

“And, maybe Hitler will get religion and stop invading European countries, but I’m not going to hold my breath. Don’t you think I know the difference between a newspaper and a fur cape? I may be forgetful, and I have arthritis in my left hip but I’m not blind. I know what I saw and Geraldine is not on this train. What other explanation is there? Now that he knows I saw him, he’ll probably come after me.”

Katherine crossed her arms. …and Good-Grief-What-Now? is three lengths ahead of You-Have-Got to-Be-Kidding…“Stop being melodramatic. I’ll not have any part of this.” Katherine’s brow knit and she scowled. How many times had they been through this nonsense? Grandma saw boogie-men everywhere she turned and wasn’t shy about making accusations, even though she was always wrong. Most of the time.

“Here’s your breakfast, Mrs. Odboddy, just like you ordered.” The porter lowered the tray to the table and whipped off the silver lid. The aroma of bacon mixed with strawberry jam rose from the plate.

Agnes sniffed. “Ahh! Smells wonderful. Thank you so much.” She grinned at the porter.

He filled their coffee cups, set the cream pitcher on the table and backed away.

Katherine avoided her grandmother’s eyes and didn’t speak. The only sound was the murmurs from nearby tables.

Grandmother bit into her muffin. “So, are you going into town with me to report the murder, or not?”

Now, what should I do? Let Grandmother wander the streets of Albuquerque alone or encourage her poppycock by going with her on a fool’s errand? I’ll have to go and try to change her mind.

Katherine glanced at her watch. “It’s nearly 7:30 A.M.” She retrieved her purse. “I’ll meet you on the station platform and we’ll go into town together. Now, don’t go off half-cocked on your own. Promise?”

Agnes nodded. “If you say so. There’s not much time to shop if I go to the—”

Katherine turned on her heel and stomped away. She glanced back to see Grandmother waving at the porter. She’ll probably order waffles and eggs, because she isn’t very hungry.

About the Author

Elaine is a member of Sisters in Crime, Inspire Christian Writers and Cat Writers Association. She lives in No. Calif with her husband and four house cats (the inspiration for her three humorous cozy cat mysteries, Black Cat’s Legacy, Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer, and Black Cat and the Accidental Angel).

Mrs. Odboddy’s character is based in no way on Elaine’s quirky personality. Two more Mrs. Odboddy adventures will publish in the near future. Many of Elaine’s short stories have appeared in magazines and multiple anthologies.

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check out the other blogs on this tour (additional giveaways!)

May 17 – Maureen’s Musings – REVIEW

May 17 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

May 18 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – REVIEW

May 18 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY

May 19 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 19 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

May 20 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

May 21 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

May 22 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY

May 22 – Books Direct – INTERVIEW

May 23 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

May 23 – Cozy Up With Kathy – GUEST POST

May 24 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

May 24 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – INTERVIEW

May 25 – Bibliophile Reviews –  REVIEW, GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY

May 26 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW

Posted in Book Release, excerpt, Historical, Spotlight on May 11, 2017

Title:  The Pacifist

Author:  Mehreen Ahmed

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Synopsis

In 1866, Peter Baxter’s misfortune ends the day he leaves Badgerys Creek orphanage. Unsure of what to do next, Peter finds himself on a farm run by Mr. Brown. An aging man, Brown needs help and is happy to give Peter a place to live in exchange for his labor. Unbeknownst to Peter, Brown’s past is riddled with dark secrets tied to the same orphanage, which he has documented in a red folder.

During a chance encounter, Peter meets Rose. Peter cannot help but fall in love with her beauty, grace, and wit; however, he fears that his affection will go unrequited as a result of his crippling poverty. But fate changes when Peter joins the search for gold in Hill End, New South Wales. Striking it rich, he returns to Rose a wealthy man. Peter is changed by his new found affluence, heading towards the mire of greed. Will Rose regret her relationship with Peter?

Meanwhile, Rose has her own troubled history. One that is deeply entwined with Brown’s past and Peter’s future.

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Excerpt

At first, Rose was disoriented. She looked around. Her silent whisperers had stopped talking. Sitting up on the bed, she realized that she was in a room with a closed door.  Fear crept into her mind. She looked around, realizing that she sat on a bed covered with frayed sheets and a torn, stained pillow. A lump rose up to her throat.

“Mummy, mummy,” Rose broke down into uncontrollable tears. Before more than a few minutes passed, the door opened. A shadow appeared on its dark threshold. It began to walk towards her. She gawked at the figure through tear-stained eyes. Her lips parted. She gripped the bed cloths until her little fingers ached.

“Come with me, child,” commanded a male voice.

“I … I want my mummy,” she hiccupped.

“There is no mummy here. Mummies aren’t allowed.”

“Where is my mummy?”

“She’s dead, I’m afraid.”

“Dead? What’re you saying?”

“I say the truth. The faster you settle down here, the better. You’ll make it easier for everyone. Now come along.”

The male figure extended an arm towards Rose, asking her to hold it. In the dark, Rose slipped her tiny palm, losing it, into his large one. She wanted to trust him but could not stop sobbing. This sudden news of her mother’s death broke her heart, irreparably. She wanted to break loose, to run as fast as she could. But her hand, now in the clutches of this man, no matter how much she squirmed, could not get out. Nor would her tears stop.

“Did … I … kill … her?” she hiccupped.

“What on earth are you saying?”

“Those voices never gave me any peace.”

“Voices?”

“Yes.”

“Let’s talk about them in my office tomorrow.”

“Okay.”

“You didn’t kill anyone, dear. Make a note of that, okay?”

“Okay.

Her tears abated. She picked up a corner of her dress and wiped her nose with it, the fluids slowly drenched in the seam. They continued to walk through the hall. In the dim light, imparted by lanterns set along the corridor, she could only see their shadows. They walked until they appeared in front of an ornate antique door. It had a big ring hanging outside. The man took out a key. He turned it into the keyhole then pushed the thick door. It creaked around the hinges as it opened. Rose peeked inside, standing in the shadow of the man, looking around in awe. It was a long dormitory with at least five single beds hemmed together. Each bed was covered with a thin blanket and a lumpy pillow. There were small girls, about her age, sitting or lying on their beds. When they saw her, they straightened up, sitting erect on the edge of each bed.

“This is where you’ll sleep every night,” he said.

About the Author

Queensland writer, Mehreen Ahmed has been publishing since 1987. Her writing career began with journalism, academic reviews and articles. Her journalistic articles appeared in The Sheaf, a campus newspaper for the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, between 1987 and 1999.

She has written academic book reviews and articles and has published them in notable peer-reviewed journals in her area of study. Mostly introspective, Mehreen also writes fiction. Set in Brisbane Queensland, Jacaranda Blues is her debut novella, written in a stream of consciousness style. A featured author for Story Institute, she has published The Blotted Line, a collection of short stories. More recently, Snapshots and Moirae were first published by PostScript Editions, UK in 2010 and a second edition by Cosmic Teapot Publishing, Canada in 2016. Her flash fiction, The Portrait has been published by Straylight Literary Magazine, a biannual magazine of the University of Wisconsin-Parkland, English Department.

She has earned two MA degrees. One in English and the other in Computer Assisted Language Learning (Applied Linguistics) from Dhaka University and the University of Queensland, Brisbane Australia.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance, Spotlight on May 9, 2017

Title: Nothing Like a Duke

Author: Jane Ashford

Series: The Duke’s Sons, #4

ISBN: 9781492621652

Pub date: May 2, 2017

Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis

He wants her.

She has no intention of wanting him.

But even Flora has to admit…

There’s nothing like a Duke.

Lord Robert Gresham has given up all hope that the beautiful and independent Flora Jennings will ever take him seriously. He heads to an exclusive country house party to forget about the beauty haunting his thoughts.

Too bad the lady in question has no intention of being forgotten.

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Excerpt

A protruding bit of bramble caught the side of Flora’s pelisse. She twisted to reach for it, and a whole raft of briars shifted with her, entangling the other side of her skirts, her right arm, and the brim of her bonnet. If she pulled away, it would rip the cloth. She struggled a little; more thorns dug in. “Blast it, I suppose you were right, you wretched dog,” she exclaimed, and discovered that Plato was gone.

Flora lifted a hand to free her hat. The movement tipped another part of the bush, which swayed and seemed to grab at her. A second branch lodged in her bonnet. She felt several claw at her back. A stem lashed across her neck. That one drew blood. She tried to step back, and was pricked by more thorns, through her clothes, from all directions.

Flora went very still. She saw that the path petered out just ahead. Or perhaps this hadn’t been a path at all, but merely a deceptive opening in the vegetation. She hadn’t been paying attention. She tried again to move. She was trapped in a sea of briars. The thorns were long and wickedly barbed. They pricked the skin of her neck, her arm, her back, her side.

She became aware of a rustling in the leaves near her feet. What next? The badgers? Snakes? No, of course not snakes. It was far too cold.

A small black-furred head poked through an opening at the base of the briars. Evading the thorns with no visible effort, Plato emerged and stared up at her. “Oh, you’re back, are you?” said Flora. He sat down at her feet. “Come to gloat? Point out that if I’d followed you, I wouldn’t be in this predicament?”

Plato looked at her. Not judgmentally, because that was impossible.

“Go fetch help,” commanded Flora. The dog didn’t move. “Some clever gardeners. A footman from the house. Anyone. Go!”

“Plato? Where are you, you dratted animal?” called a voice nearby.

“Lord Robert?” she called.

There was a short silence. “Flora?”

“Yes. I’ve, ah, become entangled in some brambles. Plato doesn’t appear to care in the least. Or, actually, he’s staring at me as if it was all my fault.” She frowned down at the dog.

“Does he ever blink? He’s really a bit uncanny, don’t you—”

Robert appeared on the path. “Good God!” He started forward.

“Be careful! It’s very easy to get caught. If you touch one branch, the whole mass moves.”

“I see.” He examined the arching stems. “You really are caught, aren’t you?” His lips twitched.

“If you laugh, I’ll…make you sorry,” Flora promised. Plato made one of his odd grumpy gargling sounds. “And you! I’ll find a badger and hand you over to him.”

Robert choked. “So, would you say you’re in need of rescue?”

“Just get me out!”

Robert moved a few steps closer. He could see that the thorns had barbs like fishhooks, ready to rip and tear if not removed very carefully. There was a trickle of blood on Flora’s neck. After a moment of calculation, he eeled between two branches. He had to stop once and detach thorns from his sleeve before he reached her side.

“These things are diabolical,” she said. “When I turned to pull loose, they seemed to…sort of lunge at me.”

“Stay very still.”

“I know!” She let out a huff of breath. “I beg your pardon. This is…rather irritating.” She smiled an apology.

Robert felt a catch in his chest, as if his heart had stumbled briefly. “Right then. Move back, Plato,” he said. For once, the little dog obeyed him, slipping easily out to a more open spot.

He began on the closest branch, embedded in the skirts of Flora’s pelisse. He had to kneel to reach it properly. His knife was small for the tough fibers. The bush swayed as he sawed at the branch. A spray of thorns rasped across his hair, but didn’t catch hold.

Robert soon pricked his skin. There was no way to hold the branch still without being stuck, and he’d left his gloves indoors when he’d seen Plato shoot wildly out of the bushes and then go haring off again.

Blood made the blasted thing slippery. Robert got out his handkerchief, used it to wrap the branch, and went back to work. At last, he was through. The severed stem sprang back a little, he was glad to see, giving him a few inches of working room. He looked up. “One down,” he said with a smile.

The heated gaze he encountered went through him like a thunderbolt. He was suddenly acutely aware of his position, right in among her skirts. His shoulder rested against her thigh. The scent of her—flowery perfume and sheer female—enveloped him.

“You’ve hurt yourself,” she said.

“It’s nothing.” Intensely aroused, Robert eased to his feet. Flora smiled at him again. Her fierce blue eyes raked him. He knew, absolutely, that she was remembering their kisses.
The next branch was wrapped around her far sleeve. He had to press close to her to avoid the briars at his back as he reached for it. And stay there while he cut through the stringy fiber of the bramble. The feel of her—curve of breast and hip, her cheek resting on his chest—made him clumsier. At one point a thorn drove deep into the pad of his index finger, and he stifled an oath.

Flora was having trouble breathing. She could feel his heartbeat, so near her ear, accelerating in tandem with her own. She could feel his muscles shift against her as he cut at the brambles. If she looked up, carefully, she could see his face—handsome, intent. The lips that had thrilled her were only inches away. But she couldn’t move enough to offer her own again. She had to remain very still, plastered against him.

About the Author

Jane Ashford discovered Georgette Heyer in junior high school and was captivated by the glittering world and witty language of Regency England. That delight led her to study English literature and travel widely in Britain and Europe. Her historical and contemporary romances have been published in Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, Slovenia, and Spain, as well as the U.S. Twenty-six of her new and backlist Regency romances are being published by Sourcebooks. Jane has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. She is currently rather nomadic.

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Posted in 4 paws, Historical, Review, romance on May 2, 2017

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?

Review

For me historical romance novels can be hit or miss, but The Vicar’s Daughter was a definite hit! Times were so different then and it is always interesting to see how the author handles the different aspects of gentry in that time period.

Not only is this a peek into life in this time, there is a lesson about pride and willfulness and that sometimes life isn’t what you expect it to be and there is so much more. I couldn’t blame Cassie for wanting to be presented in society, but her family’s custom was that each daughter had to have a match in order of birth for the next daughter to be presented….and poor Cassie has been waiting for 3 seasons on her sister Lenora who is afraid of her own shadow! But as the book progressed I learned that it was partially the fault of the parents and family for sheltering her, pretty much like we see a lot in today’s society.

Evan is caught between two sisters. Thinking that Lenora has another side to her when it is really Cassie’s words that strikes a chord in his heart. On top of that he is not used to being a part of the gentry and society and it is a whole new world for him. Evan isn’t familiar with customs and such and finds himself in a few predicaments.

I enjoyed being swept away to another time and imagining what it would have been like to live then with more stringent rules. I also like the interactions of the family with each other and others in their church family.

We give this book 4 paws up.

About the Author

Kilpack, Josi-1Josi 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 never stopped. Sheep’s Clothing won the Whitney award for Mystery/Suspense in 207 and Wedding Cake, book twelve in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery series won in 2014. Josi was also the Best of State winner in Fiction for 2012. Josi currently lives in Willard, Utah, with her husband, children and super-cute – but not very friendly – cat.

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Posted in Giveaway, Historical, nonfiction, Texas on April 28, 2017

A WITNESS TO HISTORY

George H. Mahon, West Texas Congressman

By Janet M. Neugebauer

Foreword by Kent Hance

  Genre: Texas History / Politics / Biography

Publisher: Texas Tech University Press

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Date of Publication: June 30 2017

Number of Pages: 576

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This is the story of George H. Mahon, a man who went to Congress in 1935, when the House Committee on Appropriations still allocated a small amount of money to buy military horses. Forty-four years later, when Mahon retired as Chairman of that same committee, the committee was debating funds to purchase a bomber capable of traveling at 2,000 miles an hour. With a career spanning nearly a half century—spanning almost the entire Cold War—Mahon grew from a West Texas country lawyer to one of the most powerful men in the US House of Representatives, serving twenty-two consecutive terms from 1935–1978.

During his time in Congress, Mahon worked easily with the giants of government, enjoying the friendship and confidence of seven of the eight presidents with whom he served. He worked just as comfortably with his constituents in the Nineteenth Congressional District of Texas. Mahon served on several Congressional committees, but it is through his service on the House Appropriations Committee and the Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations that he had the greatest national impact. He often bragged that under his leadership the Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations was the most non-partisan committee in Congress. Mahon led the subcommittee with a strong but gentle hand that earned him the respect of all who served with him.

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(available June 30, 2017)

Standing on the very spot at the mouth of Malinta tunnel where General Jonathan M. Wainwright surrendered to the Japanese. On Septemberr 2, 1945, the day after the photo was taken, General Wainwright joined General MacArthur on the USS Missouri to receive full surrender of Japan, 1945. Left to right: Rep. Albert J. Engel, Rep. Frances H. Case, Rep. George H. Mahon, William F. Norell, Rep. J. Buel Snyder, General George Richards, Rep. Harve Tibbott, Robert L. Lambert, Joseph H. Hendricks.

Courtesy of US Army, Georg Herman Mahon, Box 584

Janet M. Neugebauer is deputy director of the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University. Her many works include Lambshead Legacy and Plains Farmer.

Kent Hance is a former Chancellor of the Texas Tech University System and a former member of the US House of Representatives.

 

 

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, Historical, mystery on April 15, 2017

Called to Justice (A Quaker Midwife Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Midnight Ink (April 8, 2017)
Paperback: 312 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0738750323
Kindle ASIN: B01FOR0YRW

Synopsis

Quaker midwife Rose Carroll is enjoying the 1888 Independence Day evening fireworks with her beau when a teenaged Quaker mill girl is found shot dead. After a former slave and fellow Quaker is accused of the murder, Rose delves into the crime, convinced of the man’s innocence. An ill-mannered mill manager, an Irish immigrant, and the victim’s young boyfriend come under suspicion even as Rose’s future with her handsome doctor suitor becomes unsure. Rose continues to deliver babies and listen to secrets, finally figuring out one criminal – only to be threatened by the murderer, with three lives at stake. Can she rescue herself, a baby, and her elderly midwifery teacher in time?

Guest Post

Re-creating Everyday Life

My Quaker Midwife Mysteries take place in a bustling New England mill and carriage factory town in the late 1880s – which happens to be the town I live in. The family my midwife Rose Carroll lives with resides in my house, or the way my house was when it was brand-new and built for workers who toiled in the textile mill a block down the hill. By now it has had two additions to the back, but the heart of the home remains.

We bought this house five years ago, and my boyfriend has renovated the entire structure, right down to the studs. We now have new plumbing, new wiring, insulation, smooth walls and ceilings, but we kept the original wide pine floors and the window and door trim. We’ve tried to keep the additions reminiscent of the period when the house was built, so the kitchen has old-timey looking subway tiles for backsplash, as does the bathroom.

We opened up the kitchen to the sitting room, and I love to perch on the couch and gaze into the kitchen, imagining Rose and her teenage niece Faith cooking and cleaning for the family. But what would it have looked like back then? This is a modest three-bedroom house, not a big fancy Victorian with maid’s quarters and a deluxe dining room.

I have visited several museum homes of the period. One was Orchard House, where the Alcott family lived. It’s only an hour from my home. I also stayed at living history farmhouse in Maine where the public is invited for 24-hour live-in experiences, from the wood cookstove to the chamberpot under the bed! And I often peruse Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book and Marketing Guide, where she speaks extensively of what a hygenic kitchen needs.

Rose’s kitchen would have had a wide soapstone sink and running water from a pump. The wide wooden table would have been used for food preparation as well as eating meals, and the cabinet space would have been limited. They might have had gas lighting on the walls, but not yet a gas stove. Certain places in town were starting to be electrified, but definitely not Rose’s home. Refrigeration would have been an icebox. The door to the outside was fitted with a screen door beyond, a new invention that did wonders for keeping the bugs out but letting a breeze circulate in a hot July when Called to Justice takes place.

The family did hire out the washing, and by Book Three in the series (Turning the Tide, 2018) Rose has convinced her widower brother-in-law to hire a kitchen girl, too. Rose has a busy midwifery practice, and Faith works full time in the Hamilton Mills, and Rose argued that it wasn’t fair to either of them to have to do all the housework, too.

I also often think of the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, which I read several times over as a child. Those stories take place primarily on the prairie and the frontier, certainly, but many of the everyday household tasks would have been the same.

Readers: Do you have any fabulous late Victorian research sources? Knowledge of everyday life from back then? Please share!

About the Author

edith maxwellAgatha-nominated and Amazon best-selling author Edith Maxwell writes the Quaker Midwife series, the Local Foods Mysteries, the Country Store Mysteries (as Maddie Day), and the Lauren Rousseau Mysteries (as Tace Baker), as well as award-winning short crime fiction. Maxwell lives north of Boston with her beau and three cats, and blogs with the other Wicked Cozy Authors.

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