Archive | October 2021

A Fatal Finale!

From Amazon: On the cusp of the twentieth century, Manhattan is a lively metropolis buzzing with talent. But after a young soprano meets an untimely end on stage, can one go-getting leading lady hit the right notes in a case of murder? New York City, 1899. When it comes to show business, Gilded Age opera singer Ella Shane wears the pants. The unconventional diva breaks the mold by assuming “trouser roles”—male characters played by women—and captivating audiences far and wide with her travelling theatre company. But Ella’s flair for the dramatic takes a terrifying turn when an overacting Juliet to her Romeo drinks real poison during the final act of Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi. Weeks after the woman’s death is ruled a tragic accident, a mysterious English duke arrives in Greenwich Village on a mission. He’s certain someone is getting away with murder, and the refined aristocrat won’t travel back across the Atlantic until Ella helps him expose the truth. As Ella finds herself caught between her craft and a growing infatuation with her dashing new acquaintance, she’s determined to decode the dark secrets surrounding her co-star’s fatale finale—before the lights go dark and the culprit appears for an encore . . .

My Review: I totally loved this book! Set in the gilded age and year 1899, the glittering world of opera in New York City, and being on the road performing, all while in the midst one diva is murdered, and a romance slowly develops between another diva and a real Duke from England. As you can see, the combination is unique, and readers learn how opera singers must both use and protect their voices, the gifts, and remain safe from those who are jealous or envious of another. Then, the murdering type is ever present, yet unknown until the end. Five stars.

The Book Boyfriend

The Book Boyfriend by Jeanna Louise Skinner

Blurb
“Let us find solace in the quiet…”

Emmeline always dreamed of being an author, finding comfort in words and between the pages of her beloved romance novels, but a mental health diagnosis leaves her blocked and unable to write. Then she inherits a crumbling, second-hand bookshop from a mysterious old friend and Emmy discovers that magic is real and maybe her fantasies about the heroes in her favourite historical romances aren’t so far-fetched after all.

A handsome stranger–wielding a sword as dangerous as his Tudor past–appears in Emmy’s bookshop asking for help. Together they must race against time itself to lift the curse imprisoning him in an ancient book. But when growing threats to her safety are proved real and not another symptom of her illness, Emmy must learn to trust her own voice again. Can she find the words to save Jonathan and her shop before tragedy strikes on the fateful final page? 

Romance-addict Emmy may be, but this damsel is about to kick distress into the Ever After.

Trigger Warnings: Mental health issues, panic attacks, grief, references to abuse, references to cheating, character taking medication, references to therapy, references to suicide, references to section, references to body image references, misogyny.

Excerpt:

The stranger turned, and the book Emmy had just picked up almost slipped from her grasp again. It was yesterday’s knight-in-less-than-shining-armour, this time sporting a frilled collar, a kind of ruby coloured velvet blouson, and what appeared to be matching tights. This guy is weird, she thought without charity, hissing at the tiny, treacherous part of her that was delighted to see him again.

“Allow me, my lady.” He knelt to help, and in the scramble to pick up the books, their fingers brushed. Emmy jumped as a crackle of static bounced between them; dust motes sizzling and swirling in tiny eddies. Emmy shook her head sure she was imagining things. She allowed herself a rueful smile. It wouldn’t be the first time.

“Thank you. Now you’ve left the sword at home, is there something I can help you with?” The whispers in her head were growing and her big toe throbbed. She wasn’t in the mood for chivalry.

“I would take great pleasure in accepting your kindness, my lady. Your tone, however, suggests I hath offended again. I should leave you in peace. I will not risk your ire further by rolling the dice today.”

He rose and headed for the door.

“What? Wait! You can’t keep barging into my shop like this, looking like you do, talking in riddles, and then flouncing off! How do you know my name? What do you want?” Emmy was on her feet too, anxiety now piqued with anger. She balled her fists at her sides and stood up as tall and straight as her six feet two inches allowed, but it was more a self-defense mechanism than the action of an aggressor.

The stranger faced her again, blue eyes blazing with an emotion that cut through Emmy’s temper, weakening her resolve. I just want to understand him, that’s all. Nothing more than that.

“What do I want? My freedom. Good day, my lady.”

Then he was gone. Again. Stymied, Emmy watched as he strode past the window and out of sight. She uncurled her hands, wincing at the nail marks she’d dug into her palms, which were now red and sweaty. What on earth? Why does he need my help, no, my assistance? ‘I would take great pleasure in accepting your kindness’, yeah and I would take great pleasure in…in –

Her eyes widened at the preposterous turn her thoughts were taking. “It couldn’t be,” she breathed. “‘I would take great pleasure in licking the sweat from your bosom, as I lay your delectable body across my table.”’ Then she remembered his comment about not rolling the dice and, with her heart hammering a piano concerto, quickly locked the shop door before tearing up the stairs. Her hands trembled and the skin on the nape of her neck prickled. She tried to tell herself to stop, that she was over-imagining things, she needed to start her relaxation techniques: You’re stressed. You’re taking too much on. You’re grieving about Maggie. And you stupidly didn’t take your meds again last night!

Thinking about Maggie was a sobering slap to the face, and she paused, resting her riotous head on a low beam and panting as if winded. But Maggie reminded her of the letter, and the letter reminded her of Jonathan and The Book, and round and round her thoughts went until, with a deep breath, she looked down at the old volume and opened it. The familiar smell of lignin drifted up to meet her nostrils and she inhaled it like smelling salts, allowing its comforting scent to strengthen her spine and bind her resolve. The Book was heavy, but her hands were now steady, and she remembered childhood swimming lessons, diving to the bottom of the pool to lift the dead weight. She shivered, sweat beading on her top lip and trickling down her back. ‘A clean and natural sweat’. With fevered eyes, she read the random page she’d opened the book at:

I remove my doublet and shirt, affording me small, sweet relief from the stifling heat.

With creeping foolishness spreading through her veins and heating her cheeks, Emmy closed her eyes and waited. When nothing happened, one eyelid crept up like a roller blind. Nothing. She threw The Book back on the bed, as if its surface scalded, dashing away the treacherous sting of tears on the back of her hand. Jesus, Emmeline! What did you think was going to happen? Your mystery man was going to pop up out of a book as if by magic? Keep taking the tablets, Em.

Laughing through her tears, she made her way down to the shop, glancing over her shoulder as a familiar voice called her name. Maggie?! She was halfway up the stairs again, heart almost exploding with relief before reality kicked her hard in the shins. Another hallucination. She sank on to the cold metal steps, one hand gripping the railing, the other at her chest. After several minutes, she stood, straightening her clothes, her face set. She kept her eyes on each step as she headed back down the spiral staircase, daring herself not to cry. Then the wind was knocked clean out of her and she almost went sprawling as she collided with something as hard as oak.

Her head snapped up and Emmy found herself face to face with the very real – and very near-naked – handsome stranger!

What the???

Ignoring voices and visions was difficult, but rationally she knew they weren’t real, even if sometimes they got the better of her. She could cope with them most of the time. This was different. Reasoning with herself that it wasn’t possible, that things like this couldn’t happen, Emmy couldn’t deny the very solidity of him in the air; the way his ribcage rose and fell; the sound of his shallow breathing; his spicy scent spiked with old vanilla and musk. Swallowing her fear along with the key to an imaginary chastity belt, Emmy didn’t step away. Instead, she lifted her chin and spoke clear and strong.

“Okay, Mister. I’ve had enough!  You’re going to tell me what the hell’s going on. Right now!” She punctuated with precise jabs of one pointed finger in the centre of the dense, dark hair on the man’s torso. Her breathing quickened, indignation sending tiny thrills pulsing between her chest and belly. This would be so much easier if he didn’t have a marble chest, alabaster abs, and eyes like lost galaxies. Emmy scrambled to pull herself together, imaging how Lizzie would scoff at how easily Emmy’s mind had run to typical romance hero descriptors. Scrambling for neutral territory, she cast her eyes downwards and started when she saw he was still wearing the ruby tights. Or were they called hose? Either way, they were very tight tights.

Book Title: The Book Boyfriend

Author: Jeanna Louise Skinner

Publication Date: 27th October 2021

Publisher: Violet Gaze Press/Saga Egmont

Page Length: 340 Pages

Genre: Paranormal/Time-Travel Romance

Twitter Handle: @jeannalstars @UKRomChat @maryanneyarde

Instagram Handles: @jeannalstars @coffeepotbookclub

Hashtags: #TheBookBoyfriend #BlogTour #CoffeePotBookClub

Buy Links:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09DGGDKCY

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09DGGDKCY

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Book-Boyfriend-Jeanna-Louise-Skinner-ebook/dp/B09DGGDKCY

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Book-Boyfriend-Jeanna-Louise-Skinner-ebook/dp/B09DGGDKCY

Author Bio:

Jeanna Louise Skinner writes romance with a sprinkling of magic. The Book Boyfriend is her debut novel and she is currently working on a prequel. She has ADHD and CRPS, a rare neuro-inflammatory disorder, and she is passionate about writing about people underrepresented in Romance, especially those with disabilities and chronic health conditions. She’s also the co-creator of UKRomChat, a much-lauded, Romance-centric live Twitter chat. She lives in Devon with her husband, their two children and a cat who sounds like a goat.

Social Media Links:

Website: http://jeannalouiseskinner.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JeannaLStars?s=09

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ukromchat?s=09

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeannalouiseskinner/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jeannalstars/

This entry was posted on October 25, 2021. 4 Comments

Traitor’s Knot

Book Title: Traitor’s Knot

Series: Quest for Three Kingdoms

Author: Cryssa Bazos

Publication Date: 1st October 2021

Publisher: W.M. Jackson Publishing

Page Length: 450 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/ Historical Romance

Twitter Handle: @CryssaBazos @maryanneyarde

Instagram Handles: @cryssabazos @coffeepotbookclub

Hashtags: #HistoricalFiction #historicalsuspense #TheKnot #StuartAge #BlogTour #CoffeePotBookClub

Tour Schedule Page: https://www.coffeepotbookclub.com/post/blog-tour-traitor-s-knot-quest-for-three-kingdoms-by-cryssa-bazos-cryssabazos

(Blurb)

England 1650: Civil War has given way to an uneasy peace . . . 

Royalist officer James Hart refuses to accept the tyranny of the new government after the execution of King Charles I, and to raise funds for the restoration of the king’s son, he takes to the road as a highwayman.

Elizabeth Seton has long been shunned for being a traitor’s daughter. In the midst of the new order, she risks her life by sheltering fugitives from Parliament in a garrison town. But her attempts to rebuild her life are threatened, first by her own sense of injustice, then by falling in love with an outlaw. 

The lovers’ loyalty is tested through war, defeat and separation. James must fight his way back to the woman he loves, while Elizabeth will do anything to save him, even if it means sacrificing herself.

Traitor’s Knot, by Cryssa Bazos

Excerpt #4 (735 words)

James raced along the highway under a dark moon, crouched over Sovereign’s bare back. The wind ripped through his hair, and his cloak snapped behind him. Barely touching the ground, the horse galloped in a fluid motion, muscles bunching then exploding as he devoured the road. A wildness had seized him, and he unleashed it on the strip of highway beneath Sovereign’s pounding hooves.

Outcast. Twice cursed. Hammond’s slurs pounded in his head. Elizabeth had heard it all.

James kept at this speed until Warwick Castle melted away into the horizon, a dark blur against a midnight sky. Blood coursed through his veins, and a thin sheen of sweat beaded his brow. He reined in Sovereign, slowing the horse to a brisk trot. They turned off the main road and struck for the river road.

Without a destination in mind, James set his course by the stars and kept the flowing river on his right. Though they had travelled down this path countless times, he kept a sharp eye on the road and a tight hand on the reins. A low overhang of branches snatched at his cloak, but he brushed past them. Underfoot, thick mulch muffled Sovereign’s hooves. They continued along the trail, and the farther they descended into the woods, the richer the scent of resin that filled the warm air.

The woods were alive under a dark moon. A small creature scurried across their path, and James checked Sovereign. Pausing, he heard the frantic clicking of nails scrambling up the bole of a tree and the enraged shriek of an owl missing its catch. James was in sympathy for the offended bird. Pressing the horse’s flanks, he urged Sovereign on his way.

When they reached the edge of the woods, James drew to a halt, reluctant to move forward yet unwilling to turn back. A wide swath of meadowland stretched before him, its grasses rippling in the night breeze. He recognised this pasture and knew where it led. If he were to cross the meadow, he would test the fine edge between recklessness and daring. If he were to proceed, there could be no retreat. A prudent man would return to Warwick and deal with his troubles another day.

James struggled against the raging conflict. A hard knot lodged in his chest. He could think of a million reasons to withdraw but only one to press forward. Finally, drawing a deep breath, he pressed his knees against Sovereign’s flanks and urged the horse onward.

He found Ellendale shuttered and dark and as daunting as a thirty-foot wall.

Pathetic fool.

Madness carried him here this night—what was he hoping for? Reassurance that she didn’t think less of him for what she heard, that against all odds she cared?

He rode to the guest wing, wondering which window was hers. One of the casements was slightly ajar. He couldn’t imagine Isabel or Jennet risking a chill—it had to be hers. He dismounted and tethered Sovereign to a birch tree.

James stared at her window with the intensity of one warring with his demons. He needed her, this night more than ever.

He scooped up a handful of pebbles and rolled the stones in his palm while he gauged the distance to the window. He selected one, took aim and threw. The pebble tapped the centre of the glass and bounced against the sill before dropping to the ground.

A light flickered, and a wavering shadow took shape in the candlelight. Then he saw her at the casement. Elizabeth leaned out, dark hair tumbling in heavy waves past her shoulders. James watched her in silence, his heart open and raw. Would she turn away?

Their eyes met. She didn’t raise her hand or call out, only stood there. In the next instant, she disappeared from the window, and the light was snuffed out.

Right, then. He had his answer.

James turned his back on the manor and returned to Sovereign. Its better this way, he thought as he tightened the horse’s girth and prepared to leave.

A sound like the scatter of leaves made him pause. He whirled around to find Elizabeth running to him. When she reached the birch grove, she stopped, breathless. Her expression was questioning; her lips parted, but she didn’t speak.

Some things were beyond words.

James held out his hand, and she stepped into his embrace. 

Trigger Warnings:

Violence, animal injury/death.

Buy Links:

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/TraitorsKnot

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09J1SY8VD

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09J1SY8VD

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B09J1SY8VD

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B09J1SY8VD

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/traitors-knot-cryssa-bazos/1140328380

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/traitor-s-knot

Author Bio:

Cryssa Bazos is an award-winning historical fiction author and a seventeenth century enthusiast. Her debut novel, Traitor’s Knot is the Medalist winner of the 2017 New Apple Award for Historical Fiction, a finalist for the 2018 EPIC eBook Awards for Historical Romance. Her second novel, Severed Knot, is a B.R.A.G Medallion Honoree and a finalist for the 2019 Chaucer Award. A forthcoming third book in the standalone series, Rebel’s Knot, will be released November 2021.

Social Media Links:

Website: https://cryssabazos.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/CryssaBazos

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cbazos/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cryssabazos/

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/cryssa-bazos?list=about

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B072871QB3 Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35489304-traitor-s-knot

A Yuletide Promise

From Amazon:

Dreaming of a Highland Christmas? USA Today bestselling author Sue-Ellen Welfonder takes you there in this wondrous tale filled with Yuletide magic, passion, and legendary love. So grab a plaid and a cup of mead, and be swept away to medieval Scotland at Yule…

A Yuletide Promise
Highland Warriors Holiday Novella

’Tis the season for happily-ever-afters…

Lady Alanna Grant might be the most cursed lass in northern Scotland, but she still believes in wonders – until her Christmas is ruined by Callum MacCulloch, a dark-hearted pirate who kidnaps her from right before her castle’s holly-draped hearth. A ruse pressed upon Callum by highest orders in the land, the rescue hurtling them on an unexpected path and proving a thousand-year Yuletide legend, the promise of truest love.

“Delightful… pulls heartstrings, jerks a few tears.” ~ InD’tale Magazine

Enjoy all available Highland Warriors Romances…

My Review: I loved this book. The story took me back to a time when things were different, to say the least. I’d forgotten how much I loved reading stories from this time period and I knew the meaning of each antiquity terminology used. Castles at Christmas time has always been a fantasy of mine. Add in some mythical/mystical parts and touches of a wise old crone and a lot of Norse legend, and bam! One five star read!

Arthur Larkin Home #Painted by @MaryLSchmidt #Artist #Artwork #DigitalArt

Arthur Larkin Home

Arthur Larkin, deceased, one of the honored pioneers of this great commonwealth, served faithfully and long in the West. He was one of the founders of the city of Ellsworth, and one of its most active and prominent builders. Mr. Larkin was born in Dublin, Ireland, August 20, 1832. When a mere lad of sixteen he landed in New York, a poor boy, determined to make his fortune in the new world. He landed in this country in 1848, and for a few months remained in New York, when he went to Fort Clark, Texas, and enlisted in the United States service in the Mexican war, in Captain Ford’s company of Texas Rangers, and at the close of that war he enlisted in the regular army service until 1861, when he was honorably discharged on account of disability at Fort Leavenworth. He was first sergeant of his company at the time. After leaving the army he engaged in freighting by team to Denver, Col., but in the fall of 1866 gave that up to open a restaurant in Junction City, Kan., at the same time freighting to Salina. In 1867 he located at Ellsworth and soon built the Larkinf[sic] House, the first hotel, which was one of the first buildings in the town. It was burned in 1869, and in 1872 Mr. Larkin erected the White House, which he operated until 1905. He also built the American House in 1878, known today as the Baker House, and the Rogers House. Mr. Larkin was one of the pioneer merchants of Ellsworth, opening a general store there in 1868; subsequently he established branch stores at Lincoln Center and Little River. All his life Mr. Larkin was imbued with the spirit of progress, and was one of the few men who had the courage of his convictions to carry out projects that seemed ahead of his time. An example of this spirit was his erection of the first flour mill at Ellsworth and the first elevator. In 1876 he erected the first fine store building on Douglas avenue. This was a two-story stone structure, where he conducted a mercantile business until 1895. His sons subsequently carried on business operations there under the firm name of Larkins’ Sons. Several other good pieces of business property were owned by Mr. Larkin, who operated his home farm of 200 acres south of the town; a 480-acre tract near Frederick and a 720-acre ranch southeast of Ellsworth. For many years he was a breeder of Hereford cattle and an extensive feeder. He kept a fine training stable for the high-bred driving horses which he raised, which had a wide reputation. In 1885 Mr. Larkin erected a large and elegant home on a raise of ground south of Ellsworth overlooking the town. It was fitted out with all modern conveniences, with private water plant, gas well, lighting and heating systems. In addition to the beautiful stone house there is a fine barn on the premises with every convenience for horses and automobiles. Mr. Larkin’s time was not devoted entirely to personal affairs, as he served as county commissioner and county treasurer of Ellsworth county. He was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and contributed liberally to the Catholic church, of which he was a member.

In 1861 Mr. Larkin was married, at Fort Leavenworth, to Alice Beard, who was a native of Indiana. On November 4, 1911, Mr. Larkin passed away, being survived by his wife and two sons: Francis Larkin, born June 3, 1875, the manager of the American Woodwork Manufacturing Company, of Evansville, Ind., and Charles Larkin, who is the active manager of the estate. Arthur Larkin, the eldest son, born February 28, 1871, died in 1910. He married Miss Rose Pressney, and they had three children: Alice Verlin, born January 26, 1900, a student at Mt. Carmel Academy, Wichita; Lawrence Pressney and Arthur 3d at home. Thomas, Mary Ann, Edward and Hubert, children of Arthur Larkin and Alice Beard, all died in childhood. During his life Mr. Larkin built up a name for honesty, fair dealing and integrity, gaining for himself a place of honor and confidence in the minds and hearts of his friends. In the early days of frontier life he became the fast friend of William F. Cody, better known as Buffalo Bill, and they had agreed that whenever one of them died, the survivor was to attend the funuarl[sic] of his friend, but Mr. Cody could not be located at the time Mr. Larkin was laid away, and the fact was deeply regretted.

Holiday Hiccups: Christmas Magic and Romance

From Amazon: This heartwarming, feel-good Christmas story is a wonderful holiday romance with a touch of magic! Gloria Bentley is determined not to let her lack of culinary skills stop her from trying to prepare a perfect Thanksgiving feast for family. After all, she’s a confident, business woman and a top-notch real estate agent. Gloria is used to being successful at whatever she tackles. However, she panics when pots start bubbling over, something’s burning and a very messy accident leaves her kitchen covered in gravy. Brought face to face with her terrible fear of failure, Gloria discovers an ally named Stanley Bickerman. Stanley is a handsome, last minute guest, who shows up early for dinner. He’s also a very resourceful guy who helps her navigate her way through the chaos. But who will rescue Gloria from the emotional turmoil that haunts her in the days that follow? She’s never stopped long enough to look at her feelings. When they surface, she doesn’t know what to do with them. As Christmas approaches, Gloria is overwhelmed by her out-of-whack emotions, sudden crying spells and an ailing back that keeps going out on her. What she does understand is how to be a determined professional. She decides to treat her life like a business. When she discovers that Stanley Bickerman is a successful turnaround consultant, she decides to hire him. With Stanley’s help, Gloria plans to turn around her emotional deficits and get back to normal. She isn’t prepared for Stanley’s unexpected methods. When his approach involves opening her heart to love, Gloria finds the thought scary. After being so independent, she wonders if she’s ready to share her life. Stanley is someone Gloria dreams about, but will she be able to change her ways and let him love her? Or will she end up old and bitter like her colleague? Stanley is determined to help her make the right choice.

My Review: I loved this story. For one, “happily-ever-after’s” appeal to me as does a shorter length novel. The best part of this book is reading about each character and feeling the way they feel internally. Being able to connect in such a personal manner speaks highly of the writer’s story telling ability. Happiness isn’t having a perfect life, it’s about the ups and downs and loving regardless. Five stars.

The Shadow’s Secrets

From Amazon: Nunzio is an idealist at heart. His heart swells with passions. Nunzio’s early years consisted of traveling and developing an appreciation for the people, the nature, and the culture of Italy. His father immersed Nunzio in literature so that even an ordinary day could remind Nunzio of a poem. While serving as the priest of a small parish in the countryside of Italy, Nunzio’s admiration of beauty gets him into trouble. Mariella, a beautiful woman with a husband.

My Review: The author gifted me with a hard bound trade edition. Anna has a unique writing style and she weaves intricate threads throughout. Love is something everyone wants, and something most search for. As much as a man and woman can love each other, that love is tempered with suffering. Such is the case with Nunzio and and Mariella. One married to his church, the other to her husband.

The River Thief #Kidlit

From Amazon: Gluskabe comes back home after a long journey just to be told by his grandmother that the Penobscot River had dried out and that his people needed his help. Gluskabe takes his canoe back in the water and departs for a new adventure to find out what was going on. He is troubled by the news and worries for his people. This Abenaki legend is thousands of years old. Nevertheless, it is very relevant to our world of today where greed is winning over morality and decency.

My Review: Learning about what is right and culture. I just finished this book for children. I think that it fits older children better as they can more easily grasp the new language words use in the story. Above all, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of one – a Star Trek notion that rings true still today.