Posted in 5 paws, christmas, Giveaway, Historical, Holiday, Review, romance on December 10, 2017

CHRISTMAS IN A COWBOY’S ARMS

with stories by

ROSANNE BITTNER, LINDA BRODAY, MARGARET BROWNLEY,

LEIGH GREENWOOD, ANNA SCHMIDT, AMY SANDAS

  Genre: Romance Anthology / Western / Historical

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Date of Publication: October 3, 2017

Number of Pages: 512

Scroll down for the giveaway!

The Beating Heart of Christmas

In the wild and untamed West, it takes a cowboy’s embrace to see you through a long winter’s night. Stay toasty this holiday season with heart-warming tales from these bestselling authors.

Whether it’s a lonely spinster finding passion at last…an infamous outlaw-turned-lawman reaffirming the love that keeps him whole…a lost and broken drifter discovering family in unlikely places…a Texas Ranger risking it all for one remarkable woman…two lovers bringing together a family ripped apart by prejudice…or reunited lovers given a second chance to correct past mistakes…a Christmas spent in a cowboy’s arms is full of hope, laughter, and―most of all―love.

*Chick-a-Dee Christmas by Rosanne Bittner * The Christmas Stranger by Linda Broday * A Texas Ranger for Christmas by Margaret Brownley * Father Christmas by Leigh Greenwood * A Christmas Baby by Anna Schmidt * A Christmas Reunion by Amy Sandas*

Praise

“An emotional powerhouse! This classic historical western is destined for the “keeper” shelf.” RT Book Reviews, Top Pick for Rosanne Bittner

“Fun and sensual…great for fans of history, romance, and some good old Texas grit.” Kirkus for Linda Broday

“A great story by a wonderful author.” ― #1 New York Times bestselling author DEBBIE MACOMBER for Margaret Brownley

“Greenwood is a master at westerns.” RT Book Reviews for Leigh Greenwood

“The perfect read.” RT Book Reviews for Anna Schmidt

“A genuine page-turner…electric and absorbing.” Kirkus for Amy Sandas

 

If you love Cowboys, Christmas and the Wild West – then you need to read this book!

The six authors bring us back to the late 1800’s when the west was wild and life was nothing like what we know today.  But more than just a look into the past – these stories are of love, whether it be lost love, new found love or a love that has endured for decades.  In each story the main characters have some sort of issue to resolve, and each author weaves that tale into a succinct story that leaves us with a happy ending.

I don’t know if I can choose a favorite because they are all good!  I do think I liked the stories that included a dog a bit more, but that is the dog lover in me.  Animals always have their own personality that adds to the story.

Each story warmed my heart despite the difficulties that the characters faced in the beginning.  There are situations that probably everyone could relate to whether it was family issues, secrets or wanting more from life.

We give this book and all six novellas 5 paws up.  Perfect to read during this holiday season and since each story is about 100 pages, it won’t take long to enjoy each of the novellas.

Rosanne Bittner

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Linda Broday

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Margaret Brownley

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Anna Schmidt

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Amy Sandas

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Leigh Greenwood

Website * Goodreads

 

 

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GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!

December 1-December 10, 2017

Four Winners will each get a prize pack which includes Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms + another book(s) by one of the authors.  Three of the packs will also include a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

(U.S. Only)


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Check out the other blogs on this tour

12/1/17 Christmas Memories Hall Ways Blog
12/2/17 Review Books in the Garden
12/3/17 Spotlight on Amy Syd Savvy
12/4/17 Review Bibliotica
12/5/17 Spotlight on Anna Missus Gonzo
12/6/17 Spotlight on Linda Margie’s Must Reads
12/7/17 Review Reading by Moonlight
12/8/17 Spotlight on Margaret The Librarian Talks
12/9/17 Spotlight on Rosanne Tangled in Text
12/10/17 Review StoreyBook Reviews

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

 

UP NEAR DALLAS

Winds of Change — Book III

by

GINA HOOTEN POPP

  Genre:  Texas Historical Fiction / Romance

Date of Publication: November 12, 2017

Number of Pages: 307

Scroll down for the giveaway!

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

Amazon ▪ Barnes & Noble ▪ iBooks ▪ Kobo

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

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

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

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

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

We give this 4 paws up.

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

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GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!

December 5-December 13, 2017

(U.S. Only)

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Check out the other blogs on this tour

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Praise for All That Makes Life Bright

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Eliza. Eliza. Eliza.

Calvin. Calvin. Calvin.

Was she living the wrong woman’s life?

 

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About the Author

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

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

 

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Also by Josi S. Kilpack

 

Coming in 2018

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

 

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Giveaway Details

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 12/20/17

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

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


TANGLEWOOD SERIES by Rachael Anderson

Three charming tales of tangled deception and love.

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

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

EXCERPT

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

 

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

 

 

EXCERPT

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

 

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

 

EXCERPT

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

 

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Praise for the Tanglewood Series

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

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

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

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

 

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Coming Spring 2018

My Sister’s Intended by Rachael Anderson

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

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

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

 

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About the Author

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

 

 

 

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Also by Rachael Anderson

 

 

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Giveaway Details

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 12/19/17

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

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

Title: The Lord Meets His Lady

Author: Gina Conkle

Series: Midnight Meetings #3

Pub Date: December 5, 2017

ISBN: 9781492651901

Synopsis

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

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

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How to Create Page Turning Dialogue by Gina Conkle

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

How do you navigate writing with mixed signals?

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

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

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

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

  1. To Tag or Not to Tag

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

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

  1. Nonverbal cues speak louder than words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. It’s in the voice

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

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

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

  1. Dyads are it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpt

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

Her breath caught. “Lord Bowles.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A scoundrel always showed his true colors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I believe you.”

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

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

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

“Yes.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author

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

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Posted in 5 paws, excerpt, Historical, Review, romance on December 1, 2017

Synopsis

Armed with her six-shooter, Ava De La Vega dips the pen into the inkwell and etches her name on the Esmeralda County tax record book. A formidable force, that’s what her peers have called her. The woman in a man’s world, what did she know of mining ore, silver, and copper? Plenty. And it’s this knowledge that makes her of the richest miners in Nevada in 1903. Of course, it also makes her a target.

Traveling back and forth from Tonopah, Nevada and San Francisco, Ava blazes the trail from the dirt and grime of her mines to the fanciest hotel rooms, enjoying the finest wines, the most decadent meals, and the company of attractive young men.

Unfortunately, for Ava, she doesn’t see Craig Harrison coming.

A miner from the snowy Klondike, Craig has traveled from the harsh Canadian mountains down to city streets of San Francisco. Not looking for work, he’s happy with the comfortable life away from the deep mines, the dirt, and the ever sought-after gold.

Unfortunately, for Craig, he doesn’t see Ava coming.

Review

I was in a reading funk until I picked up this book and was pulled into a story of love, loss, adventure and deception.

I have many thoughts about Ava and her character. She is very strong willed, and at times I thought too strong. However, Ava does have a softer side it just isn’t revealed as much because she is a woman in a man’s world in 1899. Because she owns many mines, she has to be tough and aware of what is going on around her and of those that want to take what she has away.  This does not stop her from enjoying women’s couture.

Craig’s character is a bit deceptive – but not in a bad way. He meets Ava and falls for her right away and perhaps he lets her be the alpha in the relationship in the beginning, but i think that is to break through her defenses and learn to love him and what he can bring to their relationship. While many may consider him a “pretty boy”, he offers wisdom and knowledge to the mines and some issues that have appeared.

The relationship between Ava and Craig seems fast, but then who is to say how long it takes to find your soul mate? While they may be lovers it takes longer for them to admit their feelings and talk about their past with each other. The tension between the two made it harder for me to put the book down.

Overall I really loved this book – imagining life in Nevada as a miner, having a woman own so many mines, a lonely past for both Ava and Craig and the desire to make their lives better.

We give this 5 paws up.

Excerpt

Face after face fluttered past my vision until I finally found the oval one I’d been searching for, a familiar one amongst a sea of strangers.

Sitting in the corner just as John had mentioned, Walter McCoy flipped through the pages of the latest issue of the San Francisco Chronicle. The newspaper glowed with the sunlight, making the parchment appear almost translucent and the black letters jumble together. Dressed in his usual cream-color suit, his sandy blond hair was flecked with silver gray strands that showed his age and matched the salt and pepper color in his handlebar mustache.

My grip tightened on the handbag in my arms so tight my knuckles whitened. Although I desired to cause a scene, doing so would only reflect poorly upon me, not him. Instead, I needed to remain calm and reserved—the picture of sophistication, and yet, still holding the disposition of someone not to underestimate. Reflections of polite behavior I’d learned long ago that would bring me what I wanted faster than raving like a lunatic who would be denigrated to nothing more than a pathetic woman.

“Good afternoon, Mr. McCoy,” I said as I approached him. My stride deliberately calculated with each step.

“Why Miss De La Vega, this is quite the surprise seeing you at the Cliff House, of all places.” Although Water smiled as he peered around yellow parchment, a darkness that clouded through the blue hue of his irises and seemed to deepen his sonorous voice.

Always the man of statute, he spoke and moved slowly, as though he believed this display of eloquence propelled him to a higher social standing above everyone else. In my youth, I thought it did too, but the older I became and the more knowledgeable about the man Walter was, I just found it annoying.

“Are you really so surprised, Mr. McCoy? I mean, we both frequent the place when we are in town, so it’s almost inevitable for us to see one another, isn’t it?”

“I suppose that is so . . . or perhaps, it’s as simple as some of your little messengers around the city informed you of my whereabouts.”

He folded his newspaper, laying it on the table before he fetched his glass of sinfully red wine and took a sip, letting out a satisfied breath.

Anger seethed through my veins.

“At least my spies didn’t follow you around at night while you are going to dinner, or wait around in your hotel lobby for you to leave your room.”

His lips twitched with my accusations, claims he ignored as he asked. “What brings you to San Francisco, business or pleasure?”

“Actually, business. Rather important business.”

His interest piqued, sparkling in the arch of his brow as though he didn’t expect my answer. “Oh really? I believe that is a first for you, is it not? Aren’t you usually in town to . . . enjoy the pleasures of the city and the men living in it?”

“And why would I not enjoy myself if I am here to see to my bank accounts or take pleasure in some rest and relaxation? Honestly, Walter, you act as though you are jealous of me.”

“Sorry to disappoint you, but jealousy isn’t in my nature. It shows weakness, and I am not weak.”

I shrugged my shoulders, hinting to the fact that I also shrugged off his words.

“May I sit for a moment?” I grabbed the back of the chair and slid onto the cushion before he answered my question.

“Well, since you left me no choice, I suppose then it would be my pleasure to enjoy the company of a woman, even if it has to be one such as yourself.”

I laughed. “Oh, Walter, I always have found it amusing that you believe your words can wound me when they don’t.”

His shoulders tensed as his lips curved into a scowl. He grabbed the bottle of wine sitting on the table and filled the empty glass sitting in front of me.

“So what is this important business?” he asked.

“A little of this, a little of that.” I clutched the glass in my fingers and took a sip, toying with his curiosity in order to torture him, even if it was just for a few seconds. Always privy to the gossip, not knowing information bugged him the most in life.

“And is this business with anyone in particular?”

As I cocked my head to the side, my eyes narrowed. “As a matter of fact, it’s you.”

“Me?” He ever so slightly jerked his head. A faint smirk lit his expression and he gulped the rest of the wine in his glass. “Are you finally ready to sell me your land and all your claims, then?”

I placed both of my elbows on the table and clasped my hands together. Tension brewed between us, darkening over the table with an invisible thick haze that I wanted to bathe in. I loved making him squirm inside, believing—even if it was just a moment—that he might finally have what he’d always desired most in life: my land.

“For the rock bottom price you keep offering me? Not a chance in hell.”

“My offers have always been fair market value. It’s not my fault that you have unrealistic expectations when it comes to the net worth of what you own.”

“Fair market value is double what you offered me. Don’t think for one second that I haven’t researched my deeds.”

“I’ve always said the mines are no place for a woman.” Walter poured himself another drink, tapping the top of the bottle against the rim to fend off spilling a single drop. “Rough and rugged, mining requires a strength that the fairer sex just doesn’t possess. You really should consider one of my offers.”

“Ah, yes, the notions that a dainty female shouldn’t own, excavate, or protect a claim.” I leaned back in my chair and crossed my arms. “And yet, here I am, one of the richest land owners in the Tonopah basin—even more than yourself.”

“I suppose you are one of the lucky ones, then.”

“Yes, because it’s luck that keeps me in business.”

He rolled his eyes as though my words were nothing more than a preposterous notion. “If you are not here to sell me your land, then what can I do for you today, Ava?”

“You can stop ordering Billy Jack and your men to attack my homestead.”

Accused of a crime, tautness built through Walter’s chest. Words swam in wrinkles of his face, deepening with every slight twitch of his lips or the furrowing of his brow as though he was thinking of different excuses to lie at my feet. Which would he use? Which untruth would speak from his evil lips? Would he create an elaborate story or simply deny it? Given he had done both in the last few years; the chance ran right down the middle.

“I’m afraid that I have no idea what you are talking about,” he said.

I lifted my glass and sipped the wine again, clicking my tongue as I set it back down. I knew the back and forth game about to occur between us, a battle of wits, a battle of landowners.

I fought to protect my land.

He fought to steal it.

“Is that the stance you are going to take, then?” I asked. “That you know nothing of the recent attack on my homestead?”

“Well, when one isn’t involved then usually they know nothing of the events that transpired.”

“Isn’t involved?”

“That is what I said, isn’t it?” He paused for a moment as if to exaggerate his defense. “Billy Jack and his men haven’t worked for me in over two years. I have no more control over that man than you do. What he does is his own business. I know nothing of his actions, nor do I order him to do my bidding anymore.”

“I highly doubt that.”

“You know, one shouldn’t hold onto resentment and anger when it comes to the past.”

“I don’t hold concern over what happened all those years ago anymore, and I haven’t for a long time.”

The smirk on his lips told me that a rebuttal sat on his tongue, and yet, he didn’t utter a word. Ah yes, another method of denial—silence—as if to say how dare I come at him with this. Did I not know who he was? Did I not know what he was capable of?

I did know, though.

It was he, who didn’t know what I was capable of doing.

“Is there anything else I can do for you today, Ava?” he finally asked. Indifference breathed through the tone of every word.

“I beg your pardon?”

“I’m rather busy and, quite frankly, I do not wish to waste any more of my time speaking with you if you are only going to accuse me of actions I know nothing about.”

“I know you calculated the attack on my homestead.”

He slightly shook his head. “As I told you before, I didn’t.”

“I know you did.”

“But you can’t prove it.”

I rose to my feet and yanked dozens of red satchels from my handbag, dangling them in my fingers for a few minutes before I tossed them on the table. A few of them fell open and coins rolled from the material, dropping to the floor with a few clangs.

Walter scrutinized the bags, but didn’t move an inch. A detail he hadn’t seen coming. A detail that pinned him to the crime. Evidence he couldn’t refute and that condemned him as though he was there that day.

“I’m sorry to inform you that you lost all of your men in the attack,” I continued. “I know you ordered the attack on my homestead.”

I stepped forward until I stood next to him. I leaned down, my face inches from his, and my hot breath whispered against his skin.

“And if you plan another one, I promise that I’ll gun you down myself.”

About the Author

Growing up in Nevada, reading was always a pastime that took second place to trail riding and showing horses. When she did find the time in her youth to curl up with a book, she found enjoyment in the Saddle Club Series, the Sweet Valley High series, and the classics of Anne of Green Gables, The Box Car Children, and Little House on the Prairie. Although, writing always piqued her curiosity, it wasn’t until September 2009 that she worked up the courage to put her passion to paper and started her debut novel.

When she’s not writing, Angela spends her days from dawn to dusk as a stay at home, homeschooling mom. She also works in her garden and takes care of her many farm animals, as well as loves to bake and cook from scratch. She doesn’t show horses anymore, but she still loves to trail ride her paint horse, Honky, as well as enjoys teaching her daughters how to ride their horses, Sunny and Cowboy.

In December 2014, Angela launched Long Valley Press.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance on November 29, 2017

Title: The Duke Knows Best

Author: Jane Ashford

Series: The Duke’s Sons, #5

ISBN: 9781492621683

Pub Date: December 5, 2017

Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis

They’re wrong for each other, for all the right reasons…

Lord Randolph Gresham has come to London for one reason only-to find a suitable wife. Verity Sinclair may be intelligent, beautiful, and full of spirit, but her father knows a secret about Randolph that makes her entirely unsuitable as his bride. Not right for him at all, never, not a chance.

Verity knows that Lord Randolph lives in a country parish, and she wants nothing more than to escape to town. He may be fascinating, attractive, rich, and the son of a duke, but she’ll never marry him, nor will she talk to him, flirt with him, walk with him, or dine with him. She’ll sing a duet with him, but only this one time, and only because everyone insists.

But one duet invariably leads to another.

 

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Excerpt

Looking around the front hall of Langford House, with its soaring stair and rich marble floor, Verity judged it the grandest house she’d ever entered. Light poured down from high windows, glittered in a huge crystal chandelier, and gleamed in the gold stripes of the wallpaper. A hint of potpourri scented the air, along with beeswax and lemon. The clatter of the London streets didn’t penetrate the gracious silence. “Goodness,” murmured her mother. Verity was determined not to be intimidated.

A liveried footman led them through two beautiful reception rooms to the back of the house. He opened a door and stood back. Verity and her mother stepped over the threshold into a perfectly splendid music room. For a moment Verity forgot everything else as she took in the fine instruments waiting to be played, the older ones adorning the walls, and the piles of expensive sheet music. She could spend hours in a place like this and be blissfully happy, she thought.

And then a tall, stately woman came forward to greet them, and Verity was making her curtsy to the duchess, as well as wondering where Lord Randolph could be.

He hurried in on the heels of that thought. “I beg your pardon,” he said. “I was just… Mama, this is Mrs. Sinclair and Miss Verity Sinclair. Ladies, my mother.”

“Your Grace,” they murmured.

The duchess said, “Welcome to Langford House.” And with the warmth in her blue eyes and the ease of her smile, Verity felt the atmosphere in the room change from grandiose to relaxed. Or perhaps it was simply her own mood that had shifted, she thought. As they sat down and exchanged remarks about the weather and the season, she found she could talk to Lord Randolph’s mother with surprising ease.

“I know you have musical matters to discuss,” said the duchess after a while. She rose. “I will leave you to it. But I wanted to make sure you have all you need, Mrs. Sinclair.”

“You’re very kind.”

“I’ve seen to the arrangements, Mama,” said Lord Randolph.

“Sponge cakes and macaroons?” she asked.

“What else?”

The humorous look they exchanged gave Verity a glimpse into the Gresham family, which seemed a pleasant place. The door opened, and a maid came in with several sturdy working candles. “You said you’d bring some embroidery,” said Lord Randolph to Verity’s mother. “I wanted to make certain you had good light.”

The duchess gave him an approving nod and went out. Lord Randolph made a great production of getting Verity’s mother settled with the candles set just so and a cushion for her back and offers of tea or other refreshment. “So kind,” she murmured as she was settled in the front corner of the room.

Verity noticed that it was the corner farthest from the pianoforte. And that the special candles and cushions—which a less observant person might dismiss as finicky items for a man to consider—effectively rooted Mama at a distance. It was unlikely that she would overhear much of what they said, unless they started shouting. Which she might, if Lord Randolph tried to maneuver her in a similar way. And where had he acquired such skill at diverting chaperones?

“I’ve pulled out piles of music,” he said when they were at last free to begin. He led the way over to the table where the sheets were displayed. “I was thinking we should choose popular pieces rather than anything too complicated. Perhaps even repeat the song we did at Lady Tolland’s.”

Their eyes met, mirroring memories of that astonishing experience. Verity’s cheeks grew hot. A self-conscious silence stretched out. She could actually hear her mother’s needle prick the embroidery canvas.

Lord Randolph cleared his throat. “Ah, our audience at Carleton House will be varied,” he went on. “Not all will be particularly musical. But I’m eager to hear your opinion about the program, of course.”

He stopped and waited for her to speak. He gazed at her as if he actually wanted to know her views, and wasn’t just pausing to give the appearance of listening before telling her what to do. It was a point in his favor. “What about some Italian songs, varied with Scots or Irish ballads?” she suggested. “How long need we sing, do you think?”

“Long enough to satisfy the prince’s wounded vanity,” he responded wryly.

Verity looked down to hide a smile. “That sounds rather difficult to measure. An hour?”

“No more, certainly. We are doing a favor, not putting on a full concert. Shall we say six pieces? With one in reserve in case they insist on more?”

Verity agreed, and they looked through Mozart’s and Haydn’s arrangements of popular tunes and sheets of songs by Robert Burns and Thomas Moore. Langford House appeared to possess any piece one could desire, and Verity envied the bounty. She had to ration her purchases of sheet music on her allowance. The money her grandfather had left her was in trust until she married. And why was she thinking of that now? “‘Robin Adair’ would make a lovely base for a set of variations,” she said.

They bent over the music together. “It would indeed,” said Lord Randolph. He sat at the pianoforte and began to play the simple melody, and then to embellish it. Verity hummed along, following his elaborations. “Just here,” he said, playing intricate series of notes. She caught the idea at once. Spontaneously they sang a verse with the new adornments, their voices blending in a twining harmony. By the end they were staring at each other, mutually astonished.

“Very pretty,” said Verity’s mother from the corner.

It was as if he could predict exactly what she meant to sing, Verity thought. Or, perhaps, his musical impulses ran in precisely the same direction. The phrase in tune took on a whole new meaning as they ran through the entire song, consulted briefly, and then tried it again. The result was equally lovely and interesting, but different with the varying choices of the moment. This must be what it was like to be intoxicated, she thought, as she fell into the music and a give and take with this man she barely knew— somehow they vibrated to the same pitch.

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 was part of what led her to study English literature and travel widely in Britain and Europe. She has written historical and contemporary romances, and her books have been published in Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Spain, as well as the United States. Jane has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. She lives in Beverly Hills, CA.

 

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Posted in Giveaway, Historical, Interview, mystery on November 28, 2017

Death at Thorburn Hall

A Drew Farthering Mystery, #6

by

Julianna Deering

  Genre: Historical British Mystery / Suspense

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Date of Publication: November 7, 2017

Number of Pages: 336

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Investigating a suspicious accident leads Drew on a path that points to international intrigue and ever-growing danger

Drew Farthering arrives in idyllic Scotland for the 1935 British Open at Muirfield, hoping for a relaxing holiday with his wife, Madeline, and friend Nick. But death meets him once again when Lord Rainsby, their host at Thorburn Hall, is killed in a suspicious riding accident–only days after confiding in Drew his fears that his business partner was embezzling funds.

Thorburn Hall is filled with guests, and as Drew continues to dig, he realizes that each appears to have dark motives for wanting Rainsby out of the way. Together with Madeline and Nick, he must sort through shady business dealings, international intrigue, and family tensions to find a killer who always seems to be one step ahead.

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PRAISE FOR Death at Thorburn Hall

“Amateur sleuthing at its finest!”–Fresh Fiction Review

“Another great mystery headed by the charming Drew Farthering and his intelligent wife, Madeline. There is murder, mystery, intrigue and a little romance, which makes Death at Thorburn Hall a most enjoyable read . . . The plot has twists, turns and a few surprises throughout the story. Deering is at her best when penning Drew Farthering mysteries.”–RT Book Reviews

“This sixth series entry will delight Agatha Christie fans.” —Library Journal

 

Character Interview with Madeline Parker Farthering

I’m delighted to have a moment to chat with Madeline Parker Farthering, the wife of the celebrated amateur sleuth, Drew Farthering.

So, what’s it like being an American married to a high-society Britisher?

In one word? Delightful. Not that I don’t worry about him when he goes off to investigate. And not that we haven’t been in our fair share of tight spots when we’ve crossed paths with a murderer or two, but thank God, we’ve made it through. Of course, there is much more to our life together than just solving mysteries. It can be fairly dazzling going to some of the affairs we’re invited to, especially knowing that famous, noble and even royal people will also be in attendance. But we’re as likely to spend a quiet evening at home with our cats, a good book, and a nice cup of tea.  The people of England have been so delightful to get to know. Apart from the murderers, of course. Drew makes me laugh, he makes me think, and he makes me feel like I’m the most wonderful girl in the world. How can I not adore him and love the life we have together?

How did you and Drew meet?

I was supposed to be on a brief visit to Hampshire in the middle of a European tour with two girlfriends of mine. My Uncle Mason was also Drew’s stepfather, so of course I had to stop by and visit him during the trip, and that’s when I met Drew. More quickly than I thought possible, I realized that I never wanted to leave Farthering Place. Not as long as Drew was there. Of course, I didn’t let him know that. Not right away.

How do you manage to put up with Drew and Nick?

They’re such boys, aren’t they? I don’t think they’ll ever grow up, but I suppose I’d be very disappointed if they did. They’ve been friends since they were babies. I know either of them would do anything for the other, but I’m sure they’d both strenuously deny that if you asked them about it. Even when they’re exasperating, they’re so much fun to be around. I hope they never change.

You mentioned reading. Is that one of the things that brought you and Drew together?

Oh, absolutely. When I found out Drew loved mystery novels, and that was on the day after we met, I couldn’t help being interested. Add in his love of Shakespeare and Austen, Sherlock Holmes, the Brontës, and even such frivolity as Gilbert and Sullivan, and I was smitten.

But surely it wasn’t just his mind that attracted you, was it?

Well, he is awfully nice looking, don’t you think? Not many men, even the well-built ones, know how to dress so stylishly without being foppish. And I can’t help loving the way Drew smells. The boys I went out with when I was still in America all smelled like cigarettes and liquor, but Drew always smells of fresh linen, new books, and tea and honey. And, of course, there’s that smile of his . . .

Do you miss America?

Sometimes I do very much. I don’t have much family back there anymore, just an uncle and two aunts, but I would like to see them again. And Drew has promised we’ll go to that new golf tournament in Georgia, The Masters, before long. As much as I love it here in Hampshire, and it really is wonderful, I’d still like to go back to America. I’d like Drew to see what my home is like. He’s fairly keen to see some of the big bands we hear sometimes on the radio, The Dorsey Brothers and a few others, so I hope we’ll get a chance to go sometime soon.

What would you be doing now if you hadn’t married Drew?

I don’t even want to think about it!

JULIANNA DEERING (also writing as DeAnna Julie Dodson) has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness, and triumph over adversity. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching, and watching NHL hockey. Her series of Drew Farthering mysteries set in 1930s England debuted from Bethany House with Rules of Murder (2013) and is followed by Death by the Book and Murder at the Mikado (2014). Dressed for Death (2016), and Murder on the Moor and Death at Thorburn Hall (2017). She is represented by Wendy Lawton of the Books and Such Literary Agency.

 

Julianna Website ║ Twitter ║ Deanna Website

║ Amazon Author Page ║  Facebook

 

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11/28/17 Character Interview StoreyBook Reviews
11/29/17 Review Missus Gonzo
11/30/17 Excerpt Chapter Break Book Blog
12/1/17 Review Syd Savvy
12/2/17 Author Interview Texan Girl Reads
12/3/17 Excerpt A Page Before Bedtime
12/4/17 Review Hall Ways Blog
12/5/17 Top Ten List Forgotten Winds
12/6/17 Review The Clueless Gent
12/7/17 Series Sneak Peek A Novel Reality

 

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Posted in Christian, excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance on November 27, 2017

TOO FAR DOWN

Cimarron Legacy Book 3

by

MARY CONNEALY

  Genre: Western Historical Christian Romance

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Date of Publication: October 3, 2017

Number of Pages: 322

Scroll down for the giveaway!

With Danger Drawing Ever Closer, The Boden Clan Risk Losing Their Ranch Forever

Having returned home to the ranch, Cole Boden finds himself caught between missing his time back east and appreciating all that New Mexico Territory offers. Sure, he fights with his siblings now and then, but he does care for them. He enjoys his new job running the mine and, when he’s honest, he admits that Melanie Blake captures his interest in a way no other woman ever has.

Melanie has been a friend to the Bodens forever. A cowgirl who is more comfortable with horses and lassoes than people, she never expected to find herself falling for someone, particularly for refined Cole Boden, a Harvard graduate who can’t seem to make up his mind about staying in New Mexico.

When a deadly explosion damages the CR Mining Company, the Bodens realize their troubles are not behind them as they thought. Shadowy forces are still working against them. Melanie is determined to help Cole and the family finally put an end to the danger that’s threatened all of them. But will putting herself in harm’s way be more dangerous than anyone expected?

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Baker Book House

Praise for Too Far Down

“Connealy crafts relatable characters who will inspire readers with their love, loyalty, and fortitude, and the mystery remains intriguing until the end.” Publishers Weekly

“Recommended for those who enjoy a fast, smart historical-set suspense.” RT Book Reviews

EXCERPT: CHAPTER ONE, PART ONE

TOO FAR DOWN

BY MARY CONNEALY

 

Skull Gulch, New Mexico Territory

February 1881

 

An explosion brought Cole Boden to his feet. His chair slammed backward into the wall. Cole ran for his office door and ripped it open.

Murray Elliot, his assistant, rounded his desk in the outer office. “What happened?”

A second explosion rocked the whole building.

Cole didn’t bother responding. He charged outside into the winter chill, just in time to duck flying rocks from the mountaintop. He threw himself back inside as stones blasted right over his head with the force of cannonballs.

“Murray, get down!” Cole grabbed at the man who’d responded much more cautiously and was well behind. He tackled Murray to the floor just as another explosion went off.

The log wall of the office buckled. This building was small but solid, so the rocks were coming with terrific force. Rocks sprayed in through the open door and smashed into Murray’s desk.

“What is happening?”

“I don’t know.” Cole glared at the man. “Something blew up. We’re not blasting today, are we?”

“Nope, but we just got a supply of dynamite in.”

“Where is it?” Cole imagined a wagonload of dynamite, and explosion after explosion. But no, that’d be just one big explosion.

“It’s stopped.” Murray lifted his head.

“Is the dynamite stored in that big cave?”

“Just like always, boss.”

Cole knew explosives, and he knew they brought them in by the wagonload. And they stored them in a cold cave a good distance from where anyone worked. Even if they exploded, they shouldn’t have done anything but rock that cave. At the worst it might seal the mouth of it.

Three explosions and nowhere near a wagonload had blown—which meant there was plenty more to come.

“I’m heading for the big cave. You stay in here.”

“No, I’m coming with you.”

“You aren’t.” Cole heaved himself to his feet. “It’s my mine and my risk.”

“I’m coming, Cole.” Murray was up.

A fourth explosion sent a rock the size of Cole’s head slamming through the roof.

Murray fell onto his backside, then scrambled into the kneehole of his desk. He’d been hired for his brains, not his guts.

Cole was glad he’d been delayed from running outside. But he also knew he was going now, and it was most likely a blamed fool idea.

“Stay under there until we’re sure the explosions have stopped.” He hoped Murray stayed put under the solid oak desk. It should protect him even if the whole building collapsed.

Cole raced out the door to see the smoldering ruins of the newly opened mine only about a hundred yards from his office. The entrance was collapsed, and he knew men were trapped inside. Before he could deal with that, though, he had to make sure the dynamite was done blowing up.

He charged toward the cave.

He hoped and prayed his men inside the new mine were all right. If they’d been far enough in, around the corner from the blasts, out of the line of any flying debris, they should still be alive. The entrance had collapsed, but they’d shored the mines up with thick timbers. There was a good chance the inside of the mine was still intact.

Once he got near the cave, grit and dust filled the air. Choking, Cole jerked his kerchief out of his pocket and covered his mouth. His eyes burned, but he had to see. Cole raced faster, thinking of all that could have gone wrong, all the men who could be hurt.

He saw one still form on the ground, so covered with dust he couldn’t identify the man. Yet Cole could see clearly enough to know the man was beyond help.

Running, stumbling over rocks, barely able to breathe, Cole finally reached the cave. Outside it was a burning fuse, heading for a wooden box, torn open, full of explosives.

He slid on his knees to beat the fuse from burning down. It ran shorter by the second. Cole fumbled for the knife he kept in his boot as he crawled the last foot through the rubble. He caught the fuse only inches from burning down. He slit the sparking fire with one slash.

He looked down the side of the mountain. The office of the CR Mining Company was near the top of Mount Kebbel, with only its snowcapped peak higher. The CR leased claims to many men, all spread over a hundred square miles. A few dozen of them were right here close to headquarters.

Cole’s eyes swept down the long, steep slope dotted with mine entrances and saw boxes of dynamite burning at a bunch of them. Enough to account for nearly every box they had in storage. Cole could never reach them all in time.

Yards away, he saw the next fuse burning toward a wooden box. Thinking furiously, he saw this fuse was longer. Whoever’d done this wanted the explosives to go in separate blasts, and the boxes were far enough apart not to be set off by an earlier explosion. Men were deep in their mines, so they might hear the explosions, and they might not.

This time, with the men inside, was deliberate. Midmorning. All the miners were hard at work at this time of day and very few were outside. The explosions would bury them alive.

(Click to read PART TWO on the 11/29/17 Lone Star Book Blog Tours stop with A Novel Reality blog.)

Mary Connealy writes “romantic comedies with cowboys” and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has more than half a million books in print. She is the author of the popular series Wild at Heart, Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas, Lassoed in Texas, Sophie’s Daughters, and many other books. Mary lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero.

Website ║ Twitter

 Amazon Author Page 

 Blog ║ Facebook

 

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11/13/17 Missus Gonzo
11/14/17 Books and Broomsticks
11/15/17 Books in the Garden
11/16/17 Hall Ways Blog
11/17/17 The Page Unbound


VISIT THESE BLOGS ON THE SPECIAL FEATURES TOUR:

11/27/17 Special Feature StoreyBook Reviews
11/27/17 Special Feature Forgotten Winds
11/28/17 Review Reading by Moonlight
11/28/17 Special Feature Syd Savvy
11/29/17 Review The Librarian Talks
11/29/17 Special Feature A Novel Reality
11/30/17 Review Texan Girl Reads
11/30/17 Special Feature Momma on The Rocks
12/1/17 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
12/1/17 Special Feature Bibliotica

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Posted in Book Release, fiction, Giveaway, Historical on November 17, 2017


Title – The Painter’s Apprentice: A Novel of 16th-Century Venice
Author – Laura Morelli
​Category – Adult Fiction,  350 pages
Genre – Historical Fiction
Publisher – The Scriptorium
Release date – November 15, 2017
Content Rating – PG-13 (some adult situations but no sex or explicit violence)

Synopsis

Would you rather sacrifice your livelihood, your lover, or your life? When the Black Death comes knocking on your door, you’d better decide quickly.

Venice, 1510. Maria Bartolini wants nothing more than to carry on her father’s legacy as a master gilder. Instead, her father has sent her away from the only home she’s ever known to train as an apprentice to Master Trevisan, a renowned painter.

When the painter’s servants uncover the real reason why Maria has been sent away, they threaten to reveal a secret that could tear down her family and the future of their trade. She is forced to buy the servants’ silence, but as their greed steadily grows, Maria resorts to more desperate measures. She questions whether her heart’s desire is worth risking her family, her trade, and her future, but Maria’s sacrifices may amount to nothing if the plague arrives on her father’s doorstep before she is able to get back home.

From the author of the award-winning The Gondola Maker comes a rich tale of Renaissance Venice, a heroine with a lust for life, and love against all odds.

Amazon ~ Barnes & NobleOther digital stores  ~  iTunes

About the Author

LAURA MORELLI holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University, has taught college students in the U.S. and in Italy, and currently produces art history lessons for TED-Ed. She authored a column for National Geographic Traveler called “The Genuine Article” and has contributed pieces about art and authentic travel to CNN Radio, The Frommers Travel Show, and in USA TODAY, Departures, and other media. Laura is the author of the Authentic Arts guidebook series that includes the popular book Made in Italy. Her fiction brings the stories of art history to life. Her debut novel, The Gondola Maker, won an IPPY for Best Historical Fiction and a Benjamin Franklin Award.

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