Book Showcase: THE SECRETS OF LOVE STORY BRIDGE by Phaedra Patrick


The Secrets of Love Story Bridge by Phaedra PatrickISBN: 9780778309789 (hardcover) ISBN: 9780778310211 (trade paperback) ISBN: 9781488056345 (ebook) ISBN: 9781488208188 (digital audiobook) ASIN: B082YDJ187 (Audible audiobook) ASIN: B07QZ3SLPR (Kindle edition) Publisher: Park Row BooksPublication Date: April 28, 2020


A single father gets an unexpected second chance at love in the heartwarming new novel from the author of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper It’s summer in the city and passions are soaring along with the temperature—for everyone but Mitchell Fisher, who hates all things romance. He relishes his job cutting off the padlocks that couples fasten to the famous “love story” bridge. Only his young daughter, Poppy, knows that behind his prickly veneer, Mitchell still grieves the loss of her mother. Then one hot day, everything changes when Mitchell courageously rescues a woman who falls from the bridge into the river. He’s surprised to feel an unexpected connection to her, but she disappears before he can ask her name. Desperate to find out her identity, Mitchell is shocked to learn she’s been missing for almost a year. He teams up with her spirited sister, Liza, on a quest to find her again. However, she’s left only one clue behind—a message on the padlock she hung on the bridge. Brimming with Phaedra Patrick’s signature charm and a sparkling cast of characters, The Secrets of Love Story Bridge follows one man’s journey to unlock his heart and discover new beginnings in the unlikeliest places.


Read an Excerpt


The Lilac Envelope

The night before


As he did often, over the past three years, Mitchell Fisher wrote a letter he would never send. 

He sat up in bed at midnight and kicked off his sheets. Even though all the internal doors in his apartment were open, the sticky July heat still felt like a shroud clinging to his body. His nine-year-old daughter Poppy thrashed restlessly in her sleep, in the bedroom opposite. 

Mitchell turned on his bedside lamp, squinting against the yellow light, and took out a pad of Basildon Bond notepaper from underneath his bed. He always used a fountain pen to write—old-fashioned he supposed, but he was a man who valued things that were well-constructed and long-lasting. 

Mitchell tapped the pen against his bottom lip. He knew what he wanted to say, but by the time his words of sorrow and regret travelled from his brain to his fingertips, they were only fragments of what he longed to express. 

As he started to write, the sound of the metal nib scratching against paper helped him block out the city street noise that hummed below his apartment.

Dearest Anita
Another letter from me. Everything here is fine, ticking along. Poppy is doing well. The school holidays start soon and I thought she’d be more excited. It’s probably because you’re not here to enjoy them with us. 
I’ve taken two weeks off work to spend with her, and have a full itinerary planned for us—badminton, tennis, library visits, cooking, walking, the park, swimming, museums, cooking, a tour of the city bridges, and more. It will keep us busy. Keep our minds off you. 
You’ll be amazed how much she’s grown, must be almost your height by now. I tell her how proud I am of her, but it always means more coming from you.


Mitchell paused, resting his hand against the pad of paper. He had to tell her how he felt.

Every time I look at our daughter, I think of you. I wish I could hold you again, and tell you I’m truly sorry.
Yours, always
Mitchell x


He read his words, always dissatisfied with them, never able to convey the magnitude of grief and guilt he felt. After folding the piece of paper once, he sealed it into a crisp, cream envelope, then squeezed it into the almost-full drawer of his nightstand, amongst all the other letters he’d written. His eyes fell upon the slim lilac envelope he kept on top, the one addressed to him from Anita, that he’d not yet been able to bring himself to open. 

Taking that envelope out, he held it under his nose and inhaled. There was still a slight scent of her on the paper, he thought, of violet soap. His finger followed the angle of the gummed flap and then stopped. He closed his eyes and willed himself to open the letter, but his fingernails dented crescents into the paper.

Once more, he placed it back into his drawer. 

Mitchell lay down and hugged himself, imagining Anita’s arms were wrapped around him. But, when he closed his eyes, the words from all the letters weighed down upon him like a bulldozer. As he turned and tried to sleep, he pulled the pillow over his head to force them away.

1. A Locked Heart

The lovers who attached their padlocks to the bridges of Upchester might see it as a fun or romantic gesture but, to Mitchell, it was an act of vandalism.

It was the hottest year on record in the city and the morning sun was already beating down on the back of his neck. His biceps flexed as he methodically opened and squeezed his bolt cutters shut, cutting the padlocks off the cast-iron filigree panels of the old Victorian bridge, one by one.  

Since local boyband Word Up filmed the video for their international smash hit “Lock Me Up with Your Love” on this bridge, thousands of people were flocking to the small city in the North West of England. They brought and attached locks marked with initials, names, messages, to demonstrate their love for the band and each other, on the city’s five bridges.  

Large red and white signs that read no padlocks studded the pavement. But as far as Mitchell could see, the locks still hung on the railings like bees swarming across frames of honeycomb. The constant reminder of love surrounding him, other people’s, made him feel like he was fighting for breath. 

As he cut off the locks, he wanted to yell, ‘Why can’t you just keep your feelings to yourselves?’ 

After several hours of hard work, Mitchell’s trail of broken locks glinted on the pavement like a metal snake. He stopped for a moment and narrowed his eyes as a young couple strolled toward him. The woman glided in a white floaty dress and tan cowboy boots. The man wore shorts and had the physique of an American football player. With his experience of carrying out maintenance across the city’s public areas, Mitchell instinctively knew they were up to something. 

After breaking away from his girlfriend, the man walked to the side of the bridge while nonchalantly pulling out a large silver padlock from his pocket.

Mitchell tightened his grip on his cutters. He was once so easy and in love with Anita, but rules were rules. ‘Excuse me,’ he called out. ‘You can’t hang that lock.’

The man frowned and crossed his bulging arms. ‘Oh yeah? And who’s going to stop me?’

Mitchell had the sinewy physique of a sprinter. He was angular all over with dark hair and eyes, and a handsome dorsal hump on his nose. ‘I am,’ he said and put his cutters down on the pavement. He held out his hand for the lock. ‘It’s my job to clear the bridges. You could get a fine.’ 

Anger flashed across the blond man’s face and he batted Mitchell’s hand away, swiping off his work glove. Mitchell watched as it tumbled down into the river below. Sometimes the water flowed prettily, but today it gushed and gurgled, a bruise-grey hue. A young man had drowned here in a strong current last summer. 

The man’s girlfriend wrapped her arms around her boyfriend’s waist and tugged him away. ‘Come on. Leave him alone.’ She cast Mitchell an apologetic smile. ‘Sorry, but we’re so in love. It took us two hours and three buses to get here. We’ll be working miles away from each other soon.  Please let us do this.’

The man looked into her eyes and softened. ‘Yeah, um, sorry, mate,’ he said sheepishly. ‘The heat got the better of me. All we want to do is fasten our lock.’

Mitchell gestured at the sign again. ‘Just think about what you’re doing, guys,’ he said with a weary sigh. ‘Padlocks are just cheap chunks of metal and they’re weighing down the bridges. Can’t you get a nice ring or tattoo instead? Or write letters to each other? There are better ways to say I lov– Well, you know. . .’

The man and the woman shared an incredulous look.

‘Whatever,’ the man glowered, and he shoved his padlock back into the pocket of his shorts. ‘We’ll go to another bridge instead.’ 
‘I work on those too . . .’ 

The couple laughed at him and sauntered away.

Mitchell rubbed his nose. He knew his job wasn’t a glamorous one. It wasn’t the one in architecture he’d studied hard and trained for. However, it meant he could pay the rent on his apartment and buy Poppy hot lunch at school each day. Whatever daily hassle he put up with, he needed the work.

His workmate Barry had watched the incident from the other side of the road. Sweat circled under his arms and his forehead shone like a mirror as he crossed over. ‘The padlocks keep multiplying,’ he groaned. 

‘We need to keep on going.’

‘But it’s too damn hot.’ Barry undid a button on his polo shirt, showing off unruly chest curls that matched the ones on his head. ‘It’s a violation of our human rights, and no one can tell if we cut off twenty or two hundred.’

Mitchell held his hand up against the glare of the sun. ‘We can tell, and Russ wants the bridges cleared in time for the city centenary celebrations.’

Barry rolled his eyes. ‘There’s only three weeks to go until then. Our boss should come down here and get his hands dirty, too. At least join me for a pint after work.’

Mitchell’s mouth felt parched, and he suddenly longed for an ice-cold beer. A vision of peeling off his polo-shirt and socks and relaxing in a beer garden appeared like a dreamy mirage in his head. 

However, he had to pick Poppy up from the after-school club to take her for a guitar lesson, an additional one to her music class in school. Her headteacher, Miss Heathcliff, was a stickler for the school closing promptly at 5.30pm, and it was a rush to get there on time. He lowered his eyes and said, ‘I’d love to, but I have to dash.’

Then he selected his next padlock to attack. 


Excerpt from The Secrets of Love Story Bridge by Phaedra Patrick. 
Copyright © 2020 by Phaedra Patrick. Published by Park Row Books. 
All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.

Meet The Author


Photo by Sam Ralph

Phaedra Patrick is the author of The Library of Lost and Found, Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone and The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, which has been published in over twenty countries around the world. She studied art and marketing, and has worked as a stained-glass artist, film festival organizer and communications manager. An award-winning short story writer, she now writes full-time. She lives in Saddleworth, UK, with her husband and son.


Connect to the author via her website, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, or Twitter.



This excerpt brought to you by Park Row Books

2020 Book 143: SIMON THE FIDDLER by Paulette Jiles

Simon The Fiddler by Paulette Jiles
ISBN: 9780062966742 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062966766 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062966773 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B07VCVLNB9   (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B07V9HHT9H   (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: April 14, 2020


The critically acclaimed, bestselling author of News of the World and Enemy Women returns to Texas in this atmospheric story, set at the end of the Civil War, about an itinerant fiddle player, a ragtag band of musicians with whom he travels trying to make a living, and the charming young Irish lass who steals his heart.

This story is set at the end of the Civil War, about an itinerant fiddle player, a ragtag band of musicians with whom he travels trying to make a living, and the charming young Irish lass who steals his heart.

In March 1865, the long and bitter War between the States is winding down. Till now, twenty-three-year-old Simon Boudlin has evaded military duty but following a barroom brawl in Victoria, Texas, Simon finds himself conscripted into the Confederate Army. Luckily his talent with a fiddle gets him a comparatively easy position in a regimental band.

Weeks later, on the eve of the Confederate surrender, Simon and his bandmates are called to play for officers and their families from both sides of the conflict. There the fiddler can’t help but notice Doris Mary Aherne, an indentured girl from Ireland, who is governess to a Union colonel’s daughter.

After the surrender, Simon and Doris go their separate ways. But Simon cannot forget the fair Irish maiden and vows that someday he will find her again.

Incandescent in its beauty, told in Paulette Jiles’s trademark spare yet lilting style, Simon the Fiddler is a captivating, bittersweet tale of the chances a devoted man will take, and the lengths he will go to fulfill his heart’s yearning.






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Simon Boudlin knows how to play the fiddle and he knows horses. He was raised by his maternal great-uncle, David Anderson, in Paducah, Kentucky, and was set to inherit a well-known horse business until the onset of the Civil War. Sadly, another one of his uncles decided to burn the horse business down rather than sell to the Union Army. With no business to fall back on and not wanting to be conscripted into the army, Simon heads South and West thinking to move far enough away from the fighting. He made it through early 1865 without being caught by either side but is then conscripted into the Confederate Army to play for a military band. Thankfully, his “military duty” isn’t long and he is fortunate enough to meet up with several other musicians. He even meets the woman of his dreams, Doris Dillon. Simon’s brief military duty sets him off on a journey that will take him and his musician friends traveling across Texas. He will search for a place to build his perfect home. And despite all obstacles placed not only in his path but also in Doris’s path, he will do everything possible to court her via mail initially and then in person. As the country struggles to right itself and rebuilt after a war that turned neighbor-against-neighbor and sometimes brother-against-brother, Simon must find a way to restructure and rebuild his life into that matching his dreams.

For those of you that have been following me for some time now, you may remember that I read and reviewed News of the World back in 2017. I was so enamored with that book that I talked every local book group I was involved with into reading that book. So when I heard that Paulette Jiles was coming out with a new book, I jumped at the opportunity to read it before I even knew what it was about and I’m incredibly pleased I did. Although there are similarities between Simon the Fiddler and News of the World, namely both take place after the Civil War and are set in Texas, the primary characters and action are completely different. I can say that Captain Jefferson Kidd from News of the World does make a minor reappearance in Simon the Fiddler and it is as he is beginning his journey as a newsreader. I found Simon the Fiddler to be a riveting read about Simon’s coming-of-age ordeals, from his Kentucky memories to his fist fights and attempts to keep his band of music makers going. Ms. Jiles provided considerable drama with the Yellow fever epidemics, to the sexual harassment of Doris, and more. There’s enough in this historical saga to keep any reader fully engrossed and turning pages. I enjoyed the multiple storylines, the action, the settings, and the characters even the bad guys (and yes, there are bad guys!). For those of you that read News of the World, I strongly encourage you to grab a copy of Simon the Fiddler to read. For those of you that enjoy historical fiction, I also encourage you to grab yourself a copy of Simon the Fiddler to read. For those of you that have neither read News of the World nor are into historical fiction, I beg of you to rethink your position and start with Simon the Fiddler and then go grab a copy of News of the World to read. You can thank me later. For now, I’ll be ordering a copy of Simon the Fiddler to be shipped to my mother since we’re still in quarantine and I can’t take her my copy (bonus, I get to keep my copy). Seriously, go grab a copy of Simon the Fiddler to read. This one is going on my #mustreadfiction list for 2020! 

Happy Reading, y’all! 
Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+ as well as a print copy via TLC Book Tours. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Meet the Author

Photo by Jill Gann
Paulette Jiles is a novelist, poet, and memoirist. She is the author of Cousins, a memoir, and the novels Enemy Women, Stormy Weather, The Color of Lightning, Lighthouse Island, and News of the World, which was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award.  She lives on a ranch near San Antonio, Texas.



Find out more about Paulette at her website.




Follow the Blog Tour


Tuesday, April 14th: Into the Hall of Books
Wednesday, April 15th: Lit and Life
Thursday, April 16th: Lesa’s Book Critiques
Friday, April 17th: A Bookish Affair
Saturday, April 18th: BookNAround
Wednesday, April 22nd: A Bookish Way of Life
Thursday, April 23rd: Broken Teepee
Thursday, April 23rd: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, April 24th: The Book Diva’s Reads
Friday, April 24th: View from the Birdhouse
Tuesday, April 28th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Wednesday, April 29th: Books and Bindings
Thursday, April 30th: Instagram: @shelovesthepages
Friday, May 1st: Staircase Wit
Monday, May 4th: Book by Book
Tuesday, May 5th: Laura’s Reviews
Thursday, May 7th: Jathan & Heather
Friday, May 8th: Kahakai Kitchen




This review and tour brought to you by TLC Book Tours

Guest Post: Abby Vandiver – A DEADLY INSIDE SCOOP



Happy Tuesday, book people! It’s another rainy day here in Charleston, West Virginia and I don’t relish the thought of having to get up, dressed in outside clothing, and go out to pick up my meds and other items, but I must. I love seeing nature rebound in the Spring but my seasonal allergies and asthma aren’t big fans! On the plus side, I can go out early, run my errands, and then get back home so I can spend the rest of the day reading!

Well, back to more bookish discussions. Today, I’m pleased to welcome Abby Vandiver (also known as Abby Collette), author of A Deadly Inside Scoop scheduled for release next month. Like many of you readers, I’m passionate about books as well as learning about new books. As a result, it’s always a pleasure to welcome a new-to-me author to The Book Diva’s Reads. Thank you, Ms. Vandiver for taking the time to stop by today. I hope that all of you will enjoy learning about Ms. Vandiver’s writing journey and add A Deadly Inside Scoop to your TBR list. Is it too early for ice cream because I’m beginning to crave some just looking at that cover?! 🍨





My Writing Journey
By Abby L. Vandiver


Having the life of your dreams, including having a job that excites you, is probably not a dream you can hope to come true. Sure some people are lucky, but many don’t get to do it. They just don’t get to follow their passion and do the things that satisfy them. Passionate people are happy people. There are moments, I’m sure you’d agree, when you slip away and do the things you love—read, bake, travel.  Moments we look forward to. Moments we cherish. But many aren’t able to find that same satisfaction in our jobs.

Like many people in search of doing something they enjoyed, I’ve done a lot of things in my life—work-wise. When I was young I had dreams of being an actor, a teacher, and a pediatrician, while I did teach for a few years, I never did realize those dreams. It seemed that I was never satisfied with the path my life was going and kept switching up. Finally, I decided I wouldn’t ever be passionate about what I did for a living. That is until now. 

It took me getting sick—nearly bedridden for more than four years—to realize what it was I enjoyed doing. Writing. Sometimes I guess, you just have to stand still instead of chasing things down to find out where you belong in life. Although, in hindsight, I realized that in all of my endeavors throughout my life, I have always been drawn to jobs where writing was a big part of the position. And I see that I was always good at it. (It would have been nice to have realized that about myself long ago, I could have been on my writing journey so much earlier!)

When I first started writing I was ill and it took my mind off of how sick I was. It took my mind off of all the tests and hospital stays and the worry of what was wrong with me (it took doctors four years to figure it out). I don’t talk much about it or share my illness, other than to say that’s when I started writing, but it was a turning point in my life that I’m sure I will always remember.

Writing came easy for me. At first, I did it just for something to do but then I wanted to share my work with others. Online retailers like Amazon made it super easy to upload a manuscript and get my book out into the world. And after my first book was published, I found I enjoyed sharing my work with readers and learning from the feedback  I was received. 

As a self-published author, I penned more than fifteen books (and hope to write more). Transitioning to a traditionally published author took no talent of mine. Many authors have to query (and query and query) but thank the lucky stars I didn’t. Henery Press, a small cozy mystery publisher, saw my independently published book, Bed & Breakfast Bedlam, and asked would I do a three-book deal with them. I didn’t hesitate (well, maybe for a moment while I was jumping around with excitement). Next, before my first traditionally published book was released, a literary agent contacted me for representation.

It seems that my passion found me. 

It’s been a fun ride and now I have a new cozy out published by Penguin called A Deadly Inside Scoop. Hope you’ll check it out. It’s a cozy with ice cream and of course murder!







A Deadly Inside Scoop

An Ice Cream Parlor Mystery Book 1

by Abby Collette

Genre: Cozy Mystery





This book kicks off a charming cozy mystery series set in an ice cream shop—with a fabulous cast of quirky characters.

Recent MBA grad Bronwyn Crewse has just taken over her family’s ice cream shop in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and she’s going back to basics. Win is renovating Crewse Creamery to restore its former glory, and filling the menu with delicious, homemade ice cream flavors—many from her grandmother’s original recipes. But unexpected construction delays mean she misses the summer season, and the shop has a literal cold opening: the day she opens her doors an early first snow descends on the village and keeps the customers away.

To make matters worse, that evening, Win finds a body in the snow, and it turns out the dead man was a grifter with an old feud with the Crewse family. Soon, Win’s father is implicated in his death. It’s not easy to juggle a new-to-her business while solving a crime, but Win is determined to do it. With the help of her quirky best friends and her tight-knit family, she’ll catch the ice cold killer before she has a meltdown…






Buy Links:  Amazon * B&N * Kobo * PenguinRandomHouse






I write as Abby L. Vandiver and Abby Collette but you can just call me Abby . . .

​I love mysteries! Whatever I write, I put a little mystery into it.

​Now I’ve got a new cozy mystery coming out May 12, 2020. A Deadly Inside Scoop, is part of my new series, An Ice Cream Parlor Mystery from Penguin Berkley. I’m so excited for its release.

Stay tuned as I gear up for Release Day with giveaways, interviews and of course. ice cream. (Okay, I won’t actually have ice cream on my page, but I’ll talk about it. A lot.) Pre-Order here!



Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads





An ice cream maker and one-time ice cream delivery and scooper

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Book Blast: WHEN IT’S TIME FOR LEAVING by Ang Pompano



Book Blast – When It’s Time for Leaving

by Ang Pompano



About When It’s Time For Leaving



When It’s Time for Leaving
Traditional Mystery
1st in Series
Encircle Publications, LLC (October 1, 2019)
Paperback: 274 pages
ISBN-10: 1948338920
ISBN-13: 978-1948338929
Digital ASIN: B07TYQ8PDL


When his girlfriend dumps him and a dealer nearly rams him off a bridge, Al DeSantis quits the New Haven Police Department. Just as he plans to head for LA, he finds out the father who left when he was a kid has deeded him the Blue PalmettoDetective Agency in Georgia.

Al goes down to Savannah intending to sell fast and go west, but before he can, he discovers a strong, attractive detective named Maxine, a dead body on the dock—and his father, alive, suffering from dementia, and determined to help his “new partner Al” solve the crime. Al has a lot of adjusting to do when his traditional ideas are challenged as he has to act as his father’s caretaker, and finds that Maxine is his superior in the agency that he “owns.” When his father goes missing, Al and Max must team up to save his father—and capture the murderer.



Purchase Links
     

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  • Encircle Publications




  • Praise




    Ang Pompano’s debut novel, WHEN IT’S TIME FOR LEAVING, is a corker. Thoroughly likable former cop, Al DeSantis, wants to get out of the crime business but inherits one that, fortunately for readers, won’t let him go. — Hallie Ephron, New York Times bestselling author CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR



    In When It’s Time for Leaving, debut mystery author Ang Pompano has created the most unusual and appealing duo of detectives since Holmes and Watson. —Lucy Burdette, national bestselling author of A DEADLY FEAST



    Author Ang Pompano serves up the PI for the double 20s. Al DeSantis is a classic, damaged gumshoe but with a youthful energy that pulls you through the pages. —Barbara Ross, author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries and winner 2019 Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction



    Crime fiction has boasted some famous fathers and sons, from Inspector Richard Queen and his son Ellery to Jim Rockford and his dad Rocky. Add to that list the unforgettable duo of Al DeSantis and Big Al—building on that tradition but with some provocative twists. Ang Pompano’s first novel proves tough-minded and warm-hearted in equal measure. A fine, multi-layered debut.—Art Taylor 2019 Edgar, Anthony, Agatha, Macavity, and Derringer Award winner



    When it’s Time for Leaving is a crime thriller that delivers an atmospheric tale packed with action, suspense and some surprising twists. Pompano is a skilled storyteller who offers readers a complex mystery of chases, confrontation, and introspection. The tale he weaves is, indeed a well-crafted murder mystery, set in a turbulent sea of emotions and populated with multifaceted characters. ­­­ —James Terry reviewer The Paladin Project



    I like mystery/thrillers.  This one is heavy on the mystery and very little thriller aspect. It is an enjoyable sometimes snarky read that made me smile. The main characters were so well written I felt like I knew them. The mystery itself was wrapped in mystery as we got to know the individuals and the hidden nuances of small towns. It was almost like watching (albeit reading) a 50/60 movie. I personally wanted the ending to share with everyone who was guilty. Have to leave it there, no spoilers. Thank you for the arc!  All thoughts and opinions are my own and were unsolicited. —Cheryl M, Net Galley Reviewer



    A really good and surprising mystery. The characters are great and feel like friends. I loved the snarky humor. I will definitely read more by this author. —Leah H, Net Galley Reviewer



    Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Praise

    . . . a compelling detective mystery, with a bit of romance and lots of action and suspense. It is very well written, the plot is well intertwined and the pace is flowing.

    ~LibriAmoriMiei



    This was a good mystery, with rough around edges characters . . . I really enjoyed this mystery . . .  

    ~eBook Addicts

    Pompano’s flawed detective is fun to watch. He’s tough with the bad guys, but when dealing with his father and the gal next store, he’s totally lost. There are moments of humor; others of sadness.  

    ~Here’s How It Happened

    When It’s Time for Leaving by Ang Pompano is a traditional PI mystery that had me intrigued from the first page . . . I enjoyed the mystery and thought it was a good debut novel.  

    ~Brooke Blogs


    About Ang Pompano


    Ang Pompano has been writing mysteries for more than twenty years. His mystery novel, WHEN IT’S TIME FOR LEAVING will be published on October 1, 2019, by Encircle Publications. His short stories have been published in many award-winning anthologies, including the 2019 Malice Domestic Anthology, PARNELL HALL PRESENTS MALICE DOMESTIC: MURDER MOST EDIBLE. His newest story, “Stringer” will appear in SEASCAPE: THE BEST NEW ENGLAND CRIME STORIES 2019. In addition, he has written many academic pieces including one on teaching detective fiction. A member of Mystery Writers of America, he is a past recipient of the Helen McCloy/Mystery Writers of America Scholarship for a novel in progress. He has been on the New England Crime Bake Planning Committee for fourteen years and is a long-time board member of Sisters in Crime New England. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Annette, an artist, and his two rescue dogs, Quincy and Dexter.


    Author Links:

    Website – http://angpompano.com
    Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/A.J.Pompano/
    Twitter – https://twitter.com/AngPompano
    Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/angpompano/


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    Guest Post: Gabriel Valjan – DIRTY OLD TOWN

    Dirty Old Town by Gabriel Valjan Banner



    Hello, book people. If you’re anything like me, then the first thing you do when you wake up is to check your phone to see what day it is. I no longer care about the time, but I need to know what day it is and I still seem to forget. I’m reading more but sleeping less. I’m not necessarily stressed, anxious, or depressed, although I do worry about all of my family and friends that are deemed “essential” and are out working every day during this pandemic. My prayers go out to all that have been touched by COVID-19. 

    Sorry, went off on a tangent there…that’s the other thing, my brain seems to be going off in multiple directions all at once. I can’t imagine how authors, musicians, and artists are maintaining their creativity during these trying times. And today’s guest, Gabriel Valjan, author of the recently released Dirty Old Town, will be discussing just that. Thank you, Mr. Valjan for stopping by today.


    Creativity in the Time of COVID-19

    We’re living in difficult times. Anxiety, uncertainty, and fear have become real demons in our lives. All of us are experiencing an uncomfortable vulnerability and yet compassion and kindness abound. Thousands are making personal protective equipment for the courageous doctors and nurses in hospitals and nursing homes. Millions of Americans are learning anew how to spend time alone, together and rethink how we relate to each other, as Nature has created an unnatural pause to our daily rhythms of school, work, and other stressors.

    We’ve learned simplicity is not so simple. We’ve learned the interdependency we have with each other and the poignancy of what we have forgotten but should remember. Teachers are important. We may thank them, if at all. Cashiers at the local market are important. We thank them, as we take the receipt, if at all. The delivery person, whom we’ve thought as a provider of convenience because we didn’t want to cook tonight, is now yet another person our lives depend upon to bring us food and supplies. And our elders, who have been mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, veterans and workers, who had laid down the metaphorical pavement for the next generation, are now our most vulnerable. We learn, we forget, we learn what we’ve forgotten. Everyone matters. Common decency matters. Contact matters.

    All of us have been asked to sacrifice our routines and our daily freedoms. Some of us are not responding to it well. Most of us are experiencing and living all those questions posed and pondered by philosophers, whom we dismissed. What matters? What is important? How am I living my life, and how will I live my life after this?

    I’m a writer. Most of my writer friends have had to cancel appearances, readings at other venues. Most of the conferences where I meet readers and get to raise the glass and congratulate my friends on their successes in the past year have been canceled. Bouchercon, Malice Domestic, and Thriller Fest have all yielded to the times. I fear other writer conferences will succumb. These literary occasions are not just about awards, just another opportunity to sell books and sign them, or just an excuse to party. Writers value readers. We love meeting them. A kind word of appreciation validates and makes up for the hours of the anguish of self-doubt, and the despair of feeling like a cork bobbing on the relentless sea of anonymity.

    Writing matters. 

    Creativity matters.

    Writers too numerous to name here have written, under the threat of death, imprisonment, and torture. We have read them. The reality of their creative efforts was artificial. Conquest. Politics. War.

    Writers have also crafted masterpieces during times of contagion. Boccaccio. Defoe. Porter. Far more writers have looked to the past or to the future to convey the human condition under duress. Camus. P.D. James. le Carré. London. Mandel. Manzoni. Mary Shelley. Saramago.

    Technology avails us of means unheard of in the past. Crowd. Zoom. Writers around the world have done readings online, often to aid the very bookstores that have hosted them for readings. Libraries have made available virtual books, and streaming movies and music. Musicians have given concerts or performed solo. 

    Contact matters. Art matters because it is not an escape from life, but a means to confront the most difficult moments in all our lives, and a way to document all our emotions for posterity, near and far. In these troubled times, as we are reminded of our mortality, we must remember what defines us is how we respond to adversity, conflict, and other difficulties. 

    We exist. We endure. We recover. We remember. 

    We create. 




    Dirty Old Town

    by Gabriel Valjan

    on Tour March 1 – April 30, 2020



    Synopsis:

    Dirty Old Town by Gabriel Valjan


    “Robert B. Parker would stand and cheer, and George V. Higgins would join the ovation. This is a terrific book—tough, smart, spare, and authentic. Gabriel Valjan is a true talentimpressive and skilledproviding knock-out prose, a fine-tuned sense of place and sleekly wry style.” Hank Phillippi Ryan, nationally bestselling author of The Murder List



    Shane Cleary, a PI in a city where the cops want him dead, is tough, honest and broke. When he’s asked to look into a case of blackmail, the money is too good for him to refuse, even though the client is a snake and his wife is the woman who stomped on Shane’s heart years before. When a fellow vet and Boston cop with a secret asks Shane to find a missing person, the paying gig and the favor for a friend lead Shane to an arsonist, mobsters, a shady sports agent, and Boston’s deadliest hitman, the Barbarian. With both criminals and cops out to get him, the pressure is on for Shane to put all the pieces together before time runs out.




    Book Details:

    Genre: Crime Fiction, Mystery, Procedural, Historical Fiction
    Published by: Level Best Books
    Publication Date: January 14th 2020
    Number of Pages: 162
    ISBN: 1087857325 (ISBN13: 9781087857329)
    Series: A Shane Cleary Mystery
    Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads



    Author Bio:


    Gabriel Valjan
    Gabriel is the author of two series, Roma and Company Files, with Winter Goose Publishing. Dirty Old Town is the first in the Shane Cleary series for Level Best Books. His short stories have appeared online, in journals, and in several anthologies. He has been a finalist for the Fish Prize, shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, and received an Honorable Mention for the Nero Wolfe Black Orchid Novella Contest in 2018. You can find him on Twitter (@GValjan) and Instagram (gabrielvaljan). He lurks the hallways at crime fiction conferences, such as Bouchercon, Malice Domestic, and New England Crime Bake. Gabriel is a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime.

    Catch Up With Gabriel Valjan On:




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    Book Spotlight: THE STRATON TRILOGY by F. R. Merrill




    The Final Act

    The Straton Trilogy Book 1

    by F. R. Merrill

    Genre: Suspense




    Bright lights. Curtain calls. A cruel and unsuspected murder

    What is the price of success, and are you willing to pay that price? These are questions F.R. Merrill poses in her debut novel, The Final Act, a thrilling work of suspense set in Broadway.

    F.R. Merrill takes us into the life of an assistant producer, Faith Straton who is just one step from bringing her Native American production to Broadway. As she inches closer to her dream, however, things start falling apart. A friend is lost forever, and Faith Straton discovers she is a target for murder.

    A professional storyteller and short story writer of more than 15 years, F.R. Merrill’s first novel promises to be a gripping page-turner that’ll not only entertain and thrill readers but also enthrall them with fascinating insights into Native American culture. The author’s mastery and understanding of human nature and motivations arms the book with all the necessary elements to be a memorable and touching read with valuable life lessons that we can apply to our own lives.

    The Final Act will have you confronting many of the most difficult questions that plague our times – from the value of financial success and popularity to the importance of other people in our lives. It’s certain to earn a spot as one of the most meaningful and most enriching books to be published this year.









    Crossroads

    The Straton Trilogy Book 2



    Mountain ranges, Ocean Breezes, And Revenge

    Seven women come together to journey across Spain. Unsuspected, one member arrives with hatred in her heart and revenge is her only mission.

    Lives are threatened, emotions peaked, and miracles abound on this physically demanding hike over 550 miles of Spain’s most beautiful countryside.

    This story will appeal to ages 16 to 70 who enjoy stories of determination, travel, history, and suspense.

    Note: Characters from a previous book in this series, mature in this book. The title of that book is The Final Act, From Woodstock to Broadway. It too is a short read.









    Murder in Mosaic

    The Straton Trilogy Book 3




    ROMANCE, THE ART OF MOSAICS, AND BETRAYAL

    As an unpublished manuscript, Murder In Mosaic won in the Amsterdam Book Festival. The third in the Straton trilogy, before Amanda Straton entrenches into a new life in Florida, she takes time to visit her parents and a friend in Washington, D.C. Then it’s off to Italy to study mosaics. Unprepared she faces the dark force that pursued her in her youth. Evil returns with a vengeance. At the end, the ultimate question that remains, who will pay evil’s demands?









    F. R. Merrill, author of the Straton Trilogy: The Final Act, Crossroads, and Murder in Mosaic, and storyteller since 1993 bases her stories on adventures from cycling across the U.S. in several directions, cycling the Almafi Coast, cycling from Vienna to Budapest, cycling the Himalayas in Bhutan, and more. She hiked the Camino Del Norte in Spain in 2006, and since childhood has always painted and sculpted. She’s devoted to studies relating to her Native American heritage, and spiritual understanding.

    Merrill is married, lives in Melbourne, Fl., assists The Special Spotlight Theater, (helping the challenged build pride through dance), and is a member of the Florida Historical Society, Brevard Cultural Alliance, and Zonta International (fighting against human trafficking).



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    Guest Post: Elena Taylor – ALL WE BURIED


    Hello, my bookish divas and divos. I hope you’re all staying safe at home during these trying times. For those of you that are still out working, first, thank you for your service and second please stay safe! 


    If you’re anything like me, you probably wonder just how much research an author puts into their books whether it’s historical fiction, suspense, or a police procedural. I’m especially curious about research into the latter category if the author has never been in law enforcement because I have a brother and several relatives in law enforcement and I know that the public never truly knows what goes on behind-the-scenes (sometimes it is for the protection of the public — we don’t really NEED to know everything that’s going on — and sometimes it is for the protection of the innocent or even law enforcement and they often deserve the consideration!). Today, I’m pleased to welcome Elena Taylor, author of the newly released All We Buried, who will be discussing her thoughts on research from the perspective as a crime writer. Thank you, Ms. Taylor, for stopping by today and sharing with us. I look forward to hearing what you have to say and will be putting All We Buried on my TBR list!




    A Crime Writer’s Thoughts on Research


    Research is one of my favorite aspects of writing a novel. I love to research before and during the writing process. 

    There are multiple areas to research for any given novel. Some of the ones I enjoy the most are: location and homicide investigation/police procedure.

    Location

    What makes location so much fun is it can include travel and onsite research along with internet searches and travel books.

    My first series, the Eddie Shoes Mysteries, is set in Bellingham, Washington. Bellingham, a small college town near the Canadian border, is about a ninety-minute drive from my house, so it was easy to drive up and visit.

    I’ve gone in search of the best places to get a margarita and where to hide a dead body. I also sent my private eye on vacation for book three because I couldn’t justify too many murders in a town that rarely sees more than one murder a year, and got to do similar research in the charming, tourist town of Leavenworth, Washington. 

    With All We Buried, I got to pick a new location for the novel. Hoping it’s the start of a series, I decided to set it in a fictional town that I can continue to discover and develop in future books. But that doesn’t mean I can’t do onsite research. 

    Collier, Washington, is based on real places: the town of Roslyn, Washington, and a stretch of “highway” called “Old Blewett Pass Road.”

    Roslyn is about an hour’s drive from my house, up and over Snoqualmie Pass, taking me from the wetter, western side of the Cascade Mountain Range to the drier eastern side.

    Roslyn, made famous by the TV show, Northern Exposure, is a quaint town built on mining, just like Collier. The details I’ve included in my novel are things like the architecture and an incredible, historic cemetery, along with aspects of locations around town.

    One of the primary differences with my fictional town, however, is Roslyn sits just off Highway 90, the main east/west corridor across the state. To get to Collier, you have to drive north from I-90 and head up into the mountains.

    The choice to put Collier far away from the main interstate and any other towns was designed to add tension and danger for my characters. But I never imagined while I was writing the novel that the road to Collier actually exists.

    And doing research, I found it.  

    Old Blewitt Road twists its way up into the Cascade Mountains. It’s basically a single lane. With epic drop-offs into picturesque valleys full of ponderosa pines and no sounds save the singing of birds and the sighing of wind.

    This is why I love to go onsite for research into location. Sometimes the real thing and the fiction I’ve created are a lot closer than I could have hoped. Both adding to the detail I can include in my books and inspirations for the next one.

    Homicide Investigation/Police Procedures

    I’m fascinated by homicide investigations. The science behind fingerprinting and autopsies and DNA testing are far more complicated than Hollywood would have us believe. 

    I watch Forensic Files and read books on crime scene investigation for fun.

    But even more important to me, are the human beings behind the science and protocol of police investigations.

    While I run a lot of technical stuff past my experts, I’m also curious about the human side of things. Like, what makes police detectives tick?

    One of my favorite aspects about meetings with my police expert is after we’ve talked through the details I’ve written about police procedures, I usually ask him questions like “do you ever get used to seeing an autopsy?”

    These little personal details can help round out my characters, making them feel like genuine people, not just cardboard cutouts.

    My expert’s personal reactions often surprise me, as he thinks about things that I would never consider, with details I could never imagine. 

    My notebook comes home full of scribbles about crime scene investigation and interviewing techniques when talking to a suspect, but my double underlines are often on the information about his emotional reactions to things.

    The perfect blending of accuracy in procedures balanced out with human responses is part of what I think makes my stories feel “real”, even if I sometimes get the details wrong.

    The hardest part about research can be knowing what questions to ask. We don’t know what we don’t know until someone points out what we didn’t know.

    But that usually just makes me strive harder in the next book.

    It’s what got me to a basics of pistol shooting class and reading the textbook for individuals on the police force who want to become detectives.

    Who knows what I’ll get into for the next manuscript?

    I just promise I’ll keep my research on the right side of the law. 

    Want to know the answer from my police expert about getting used to autopsies? You’ll just have to read my next novel and see if you can determine fact from fiction. Or maybe it’s a little bit of both.






    All We Buried: A Sheriff Bet Rivers Mystery

    by Elena Taylor

    About All We Buried


    All We Buried: A Sheriff Bet Rivers Mystery
    Cozy Mystery
    1st in Series
    Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (April 7, 2020)
    Hardcover: 304 pages
    ISBN-10: 1643852914
    ISBN-13: 978-1643852911
    Digital ASIN: B07RQH353V


    For fans of Julia Keller and Sheena Kamal, All We Buried disturbs the long-sleeping secrets of a small Washington State mountain town.

    Interim sheriff Elizabeth “Bet” Rivers has always had one repeat nightmare: a shadowy figure throwing a suspicious object into her hometown lake in Collier, Washington. For the longest time, she chalked it up to an overactive imagination as a kid. Then the report arrives. In the woods of the Cascade mountain range, right in her jurisdiction, a body floats to the surface of Lake Collier. When the body is extricated and revealed, no one can identify Jane Doe. But someone must know the woman, so why aren’t they coming forward?

    Bet has been sitting as the interim sheriff of this tiny town in the ill-fitting shoes of her late father and predecessor. With the nightmare on her heels, Bet decided to build a life for herself in Los Angeles, but now it’s time to confront the tragic history of Collier. The more she learns, the more Bet realizes she doesn’t know the townspeople of Collier as well as she thought, and nothing can prepare her for what she is about to discover.


    Purchase Links:

    Amazon:   Barnes & Noble  Books-A-Million  IndieBound


    About the Author

    CREDIT MARK PERLSTEIN

    Elena Taylor spent several years working in theater as a playwright, director, designer, and educator before turning her storytelling skills to fiction. Her first series, the Eddie Shoes Mysteries, written under the name Elena Hartwell, introduced a quirky mother/daughter crime-fighting duo. With All We Buried, Elena returns to her dramatic roots and brings readers a much more serious and atmospheric novel. Located in her beloved Washington State, Elena uses her connection to the environment to produce a forbidding story of small-town secrets and things that won’t stay buried. Elena is also a senior editor with Allegory Editing, a developmental editing house, where she works one-on-one with writers to shape and polish manuscripts, short stories, and plays. If you’d like to work with Elena, visit www.allegoryediting.com.When she’s not writing or coaching writing, her favorite place to be is at the farm with her horses, Jasper and Radar, or at her home, on the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River in North Bend, Washington, with her husband, their dog, Polar, and their cats, Coal Train and Cocoa. Elena holds a B.A. from the University of San Diego, an M.Ed. from the University of Washington, Tacoma, and a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia.


    Author Links

    Website:  https://www.elenataylorauthor.com/ 
    Blog: https://www.elenataylorauthor.com/blog 
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElenaTaylorAuthor/ 
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/Elena_TaylorAut
    Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19494739.Elena_Taylor
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elenataylorauthor


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    Book Showcase: A VENOMOUS LOVE by Chris Karlsen

    A Venomous Love by Chris Karlsen Banner



    A Venomous Love

    by Chris Karlsen

    on Tour April 1-30, 2020



    Synopsis:


    A Venomous Love by Chris Karlsen

    The killer whispered-“A pretty damsel…worth a pretty risk.”



    A veteran, Detective Rudyard Bloodstone has fought a brutal battle and witnessed war horrors that haunt his nightmares. Now one of those horrors has followed him home from Africa.

    A vicious predator, the Cape cobra, can kill a man in thirty minutes. A suspect using the snake as a weapon in robberies is terrorizing London.

    When the crimes escalate into murder, a victim’s daughter, Honoria Underhill, becomes the focus of the killer. After several attempts on her life, Scotland Yard threatens to take over the high profile case. With few leads to follow, Bloodstone and his partner must now fight department politics and catch the killer before Underhill becomes another murder victim.




    Book Details:


    Genre: Historical Suspense
    Published by: Books to Go Now
    Publication Date: February 28, 2020
    Number of Pages: TBD
    ISBN: 979-8600864139
    Series: Bloodstone Series, #3
    Purchase Links:

  • Amazon.com

  • Amazon.ca

  • Amazon.co.uk

  • BN.com

  • Kobo.com

  • Apple.com


  • Goodreads






  • Read an excerpt:




    Puzzled, Ruddy asked, “You say the body is still in the chapel? Couldn’t the nurse bring an exam table to put him on and start treatment?”

    “She did. Young and I attempted to help but he suffered violent convulsions. Because the hospital is for children, they don’t have restraints. The head nurse instructed us to leave him back on the floor. She was afraid he’d fall off the table.”

    “Makes sense.” The timeframe of Underhill’s death didn’t make sense. At minimum it usually took an hour and more often, hours for the venom to kill. A horrible thought occurred to Ruddy. What if it was a different suspect with a different lethal snake? “But he died while you were still here?”

    “Yes. He convulsed brutally hard a few more times and an excessive amount of drool came out his mouth. Then he lost consciousness. A nurse put a blanket over him and a pillow under his head. He died as she was making him comfortable.”

    “Strange. This is abnormally fast even for cobra venom.” Flanders stepped up on Ruddy’s right. “What is it, constable?”

    “Shall I leave you to start my search?” Flanders asked.

    “Yes. Collect anything, and I mean anything, you find that looks out of the ordinary,” Archie told him. “This case is so unusual we can’t be sure what is important and what isn’t.”

    The nurse led them to the curtained-off bed. Honoria Underhill lay on her side softly sobbing. Her legs were curled up so she fit on the short bed meant for a child. The nurses had covered her with a blanket. When she saw Ruddy and Archie, she sat up and swung her legs down to the side of the bed.

    “Yes. We know this is traumatic for you but we need to ask you to repeat what happened with as much detail as you can recall,” Ruddy told her.

    “I understand.” Her shoulders trembled. She buried her fists in her skirt and kept her head down as she fought to control her emotions.

    Ruddy brought the conversation back to the crime. “Did the suspect say anything when he attacked?”

    “‘A pretty little damsel, worth a pretty risk,’ he said as he rushed toward us. Then he leapt at me with the snake in hand inches from my face. Father pushed me out of the man’s reach and stepped between us. My father tried to knock the man’s hand away and swatted at the animal.”

    She dabbed at her nose again and then offered the handkerchief back to Archie who waved off the return. “It happened so fast,” Honoria continued. “In the time it took me to blink, the snake’s throat blew outward, like a fan opening.” She demonstrated the action with her hands. “A second later it lunged and struck.”

    ***



    Excerpt from A Venomous Love by Chris Karlsen. 
    Copyright 2020 by Chris Karlsen. Reproduced with permission from Chris Karlsen. All rights reserved.




    Author Bio:



    Chris Karlsen

    I was born and raised in Chicago. My father was a history professor and my mother was, and is, a voracious reader. I grew up with a love of history and books.

    My parents also love traveling, a passion they passed onto me. I wanted to see the places I read about, see the land and monuments from the time periods that fascinated me. I’ve had the good fortune to travel extensively throughout Europe, the Near East, and North Africa.

    I am a retired police detective. I spent twenty-five years in law enforcement with two different agencies. My desire to write came in my early teens. After I retired, I decided to pursue that dream. I write three different series. My paranormal romance series is called, Knights in Time. My romantic thriller series is Dangerous Waters. The newest is The Bloodstone Series, which is historical suspense with romantic elements. Each series has a different setting and some cross time periods, which I find fun to write.

    I currently live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband and four wild and crazy rescue dogs.


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    This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Chris Karlsen. There will be Three (3) winners. One (1) winner will receive an Amazon.com Gift Card and Two (2) winners will each receive A Venomous Love by Chris Karlsen (eBook). The giveaway begins on April 1, 2020, and runs through May 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.


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    2020 Book 127: LAKESHIRE PARK by Megan Walker



    Lakeshire Park by Megan Walker
    ISBN: 9781629727349 (paperback)
    ISBN: 9781629738864 (ebook)
    ASIN: B0844PXP9D  (Audible audiobook)
    ASIN: B086NSGFZD (Kindle edition)
    Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
    Publication Date: April 7, 2020


    Brighton, England 1820

    Amelia Moore wants only one thing—to secure the future happiness of her younger sister, Clara. With their stepfather’s looming death, the two sisters will soon be on their own—without family, a home, or a penny to their names. When an invitation arrives to join a house party at Lakeshire Park, Amelia grasps at the chance. If she can encourage a match between Clara and their host, Sir Ronald, then at least her sister will be taken care of.

    Little does she know that another guest, the arrogant and overconfident Mr. Peter Wood, is after the same goal for his own sister. Amelia and Peter begin a rivalry that Amelia has no choice but to win. But competing against Peter—and eventually playing by his rules—makes Amelia vulnerable to losing the only thing she has left to claim: her heart.






    Purchase Links: #CommissionEarned   IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  |  Barnes & Noble  |  B&N Nook Book  |  BookDepository  |  Kobo eBook  |  ThriftBooks




    Amelia Moore knows that the situation for her and her sister, Clara, is highly unstable and dire. Her stepfather’s health is declining and he has made no provisions for their support after his demise. Their parents, unfortunately, were unable to make provisions for them after their deaths so the only options are marriage or placements as governesses or companions. Amelia’s stepfather, Lord Gray, has given her a few weeks to secure a marriage proposal or seek employment and it is Amelia’s hope that one of Clara’s London suitors will propose, Sir Ronald – Lord Demsworth. So off Amelia and Clara go to Lord Demsworth’s country estate, Lakeshire Park for a house party. Unfortunately for Clara, Georgiana Wood is also present and vying for Lord Demsworth’s attention. Amelia knows that this may be Clara’s last shot at happiness and is willing to do whatever takes to see her sister happily wed, even if it means befriending Georgiana Wood’s brother, Peter Wood. Needless to say, Amelia and Peter don’t exactly get along initially due to a misunderstanding, but the more time they spend together the more they realize they have in common. 

    Just when it seems as if things are going according to plan for Clara and Lord Demsworth, Amelia receives word that Lord Gray is on his deathbed and they are to never return to his home in Brighton. Amelia is informed that their belongings will be sent to them at Lakeshire Park. She’s also informed that both she and Clara are to find suitable employment if marriages haven’t been arranged. Seeing no other recourse, Amelia confides in Lord Demsworth’s mother and is informed that Lady Demsworth’s nephew is seeking a suitable match. Amelia meets with this man and he proposes a loveless marriage, one she always assumed would be best. Amelia isn’t sure this is the best option but is the only option available at the moment since marriage hasn’t presented as a viable choice for Clara even though Lord Demsworth seems smitten by her charms. And then Georgiana strikes and scandalizes the local society by openly kissing Lord Demsworth at a local ball. Georgiana presumes that Sir Ronald will propose marriage to her and she’ll win his hand in marriage. Although Amelia has befriended Peter, will she ever be able to forgive Georgiana for what’s she done to her sister? Will Clara and Sir Ronald ever get together despite the scandal caused by Georgiana? Will Amelia be happy with the proposed loveless arranged marriage now that she’s met a man that she has true affection for even though his family has caused heartbreak to her beloved sister?

    I’ve been dealing with severe migraine after severe migraine for several weeks now on top of back-to-back bronchitis infections, so a HEA was just what I needed about now. There’s nothing quite like a happy-ever-after romance to make you feel better no matter how bad you’re actually feeling. Lakeshire Park is the first novel published by Megan Walker and it packed quite a punch folks. I felt that there were hints of Pride and Prejudice with the misunderstandings and preconceived prejudices between Amelia and Peter Wood, hints of Sense and Sensibilities with the demise of Amelia and Clara’s parents and need to find someplace suitable to live unfortunately without any available guardians, and Georgiana seemed to be a cross between the conniving Mary Crawford from Mansfield Park and sneaky Lucy Steele from Sense and Sensibilities. Yes, there’s a lot of Austen-inspired themes in this story but it is a wholly unique story. Of course, that’s just my perception, you may read it and find something totally different. Just in case you can’t tell, I enjoyed this story. I quite liked the developing relationship between Amelia and Peter and their verbal sparring, as well as the settings for their many walks and rides. If I had one wish, it would be to get to know the other characters just a little better. The reader gets to know Clara and Georgiana, but the remaining characters play incredibly minor roles and aren’t well-developed (and probably with good reason). This story presents family angst, family drama, societal strictures, and hints of romance (it is the 19th century). Yes, it ends with a HEA, but is it a HEA for everyone? Well, you’ll need to read it to find out for yourself. Seriously, if you’re in the market for a sweet, historical romance to read, then grab yourself a copy of Lakeshire Park to read. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Walker in the future. 

    Happy Reading, y’all!



    Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+ as well as a print review copy. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



    Meet the author


    Megan Walker was raised on a berry farm in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, where her imagination took her to times past and worlds away. While earning her degree in Early Childhood Education, she married her one true love and started a family. But her imaginings of Regency England wouldn’t leave her alone, so she picked up a pen and wrote her first novella, A Beautiful Love: A Regency Fairy Tale Retelling which was published in 2019. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband and three children. Lakeshire Park is her debut novel. 



    Connect with the author via her website, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, and Twitter.



    BLOG TOUR


    Debut novelist Megan Walker tours the blogosphere April 6 through May 1, 2020 to share her new historical romance, Lakeshire Park. Forty popular book bloggers specializing in historical romance, inspirational fiction, and Austenesque fiction will feature guest blogs, interviews, exclusive excerpts, and book reviews of this acclaimed Regency romance novel.



    Blog Tour Participants


    April 06:  The Silver Petticoat Review (Guest Blog)
    April 06:  Katie’s Clean Book Collection (Review)
    April 06:  The Readathon (Review)
    April 06:  Getting Your Read On (Review)
    April 07:  Heidi Reads (Review) 
    April 07:  Romance Junkies (Guest Blog)
    April 08:  The Calico Critic (Spotlight)
    April 08:  Timeless Novels (Review)
    April 09:  Gwendalyn’s Books (Review)
    April 09:  From Pemberley to Milton (Excerpt) 
    April 10:  Courtney Reads Romance (Review) 
    April 11:  Clean Wholesome Romance (Spotlight)
    April 12:  The Christian Fiction Girl (Review)
    April 12:  English Historical Fiction Authors (Guest Blog)
    April 14:  Joy of Reading (Review) 
    April 15:  The Book Diva’s Reads (Review)
    April 15:  Katie’s Clean Book Collection (Interview)
    April 16:  Frolic Media (Excerpt)
    April 17:  The Lit Bitch (Review)
    April 19:  Robin Loves Reading (Review)
    April 19:  My Jane Austen Book Club (Guest Blog)
    April 20:  Bringing Up Books (Review)
    April 21:  Lu Reviews Books (Review)
    April 22:  Bookworm Lisa (Excerpt)
    April 22:  Austenesque Reviews (Review)
    April 24:  Half Agony, Half Hope (Review)
    April 25:  Relz Reviewz (Review)
    April 26:  Bookish Rantings (Review) 
    April 27:  Probably at the Library (Review) 
    April 27:  Christian Chick’s Thoughts (Review) 
    April 28:  Laura’s Reviews (Review) 
    April 29:  Heidi Reads (Interview)
    April 29:  Bookfoolery (Review)
    April 29:  From Pemberley to Milton (Review) 
    April 30:  The Caffeinated Bibliophile (Excerpt)
    April 30:  A Bookish Way of Life (Review)
    May 01:  Bookworm Lisa (Review) 
    May 01:  Impressions in Ink (Review)

    Book Showcase: WE DIDN’T ASK FOR THIS by Adi Alsaid


    We Didn’t Ask For This by Adi Alsaid
    ISBN: 9781335146762 (hardcover)
    ISBN: 9781488056598 (ebook)
    ASIN: B07QHC3CS4   (Kindle edition)
    Publisher: Inkyard Press
    Publication Date: April 7, 2020


    From Adi Alsaid, the acclaimed author of Let’s Get Lost, Never Sometimes Always, and North of Happy

    Every year, lock-in night changes lives. This year, it might just change the world.

    Central International School’s annual lock-in is legendary — and for six students, this year’s lock-in is the answer to their dreams. The chance to finally win the contest. Kiss the guy. Make a friend. Become the star of a story that will be passed down from student to student for years to come.

    But then a group of students, led by Marisa Cuevas, stage an eco-protest and chain themselves to the doors, vowing to keep everyone trapped inside until their list of demands is met. While some students rally to the cause, others are devastated as they watch their plans fall apart. And Marisa, once so certain of her goals, must now decide just how far she’ll go to attain them.

    “Engrossing.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review.






    Purchase Links: #CommissionEarned   IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Barnes & Noble  |  B&N Nook Book  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Google Books  |  eBooks  |  iBooks  |  !ndigo  |  Kobo eBook




    Read an Excerpt



    The lock-in was going fairly well until Marisa unleashed her cronies and chained herself to the main entrance.

    No one really noticed right away, busy as they were taking part in a number of lock-in-related activities: laser tag in the parking garage, a sanctioned food fight in the cafeteria, a photo shoot tutorial with a renowned YouTube influencer.

    Once a year, in April, the doors at Central International School’s K-12 campus closed—though they didn’t literally lock—to allow the high school students to roam free for the whole night. Having the next day off school was nowhere near the best part. Nor, strictly speaking, were the activities themselves, though they were extravagant and wonderful and distracted everyone from what Marisa was doing.

    People fell in love on lock-in night. They stumbled upon new passions that would shape the rest of their lives, discovered friendships they could not imagine living without, before or after. Traumas were resolved on lock-in night, anxieties disappeared, never to return, not even after the buses arrived in the morning to take the students back home.

    This was well known to the few students who had been lucky enough to have attended before, or who had siblings who had attended in years prior. At Central International School, the student body ebbed and flowed, changing drastically from year to year, and often even more frequently. It was common to have different classmates every semester, and sometimes students would find the person who sat next to them in class—the alluring redhead who scribbled song lyrics on the margins of their textbooks, who one time turned and asked to borrow a pen they never returned, though they had offered a smile that carried with it joy beyond a simple gesture; the redhead who might have one day soon become more than just a classmate—was simply gone from one day to the next.

    Even by international school standards, the turnover rate of both students and faculty had always been high, though it had a great academic reputation, and the city in which it sat was a diverse and world-class cosmopolis. Yet people never seemed to stick around for long, as if families were carried in by the seaside breeze, and carried away by the same. Most students had multiple passports, and their parents were multinational, or transient because they were diplomats, or titans of industry, or missionaries, or digital nomads, or teachers within the international school world. They had roots in many places, thought of no one place as home—or rather, thought of everywhere they’d been as home.

    So it was rare for a student to be around for several lock-in nights. Even the locals, who made up a mere fifteen percent of the school’s population, often temporarily relocated during their high school years—a boarding school exchange in Switzerland, a South American road trip in a van with their family, a missionary excursion in Central America.

    Despite all this, the lore surrounding lock-in night was always momentous, starting as an excited murmur the first day of school and building to a frenzy by the night before the event itself a month or so before the end of the year. Students wondered how, exactly, their life would be improved by the evening. There was no question it would—they could feel it on their skin, their heartbeats thudded with the knowledge that things were about to change, they had absorbed the gossip, not just a rumor or two, but dozens and dozens of first-hand accounts or verifiable secondhand stories, so many of them that it did not feel like hearsay but like fact—it was the how that was exciting. Would the redheaded classmate return to slip a hand into theirs during the movie marathon on the roof garden? Would their fear of heights be cured by the trapeze the school had set up on the football field? Or would it simply be a night of such fun that the joy would sink into their bones and change them into happier people?

    Lock-in night, simply put, was magic. Even all those who had never experienced it knew it to be true.

    Which, of course, was why Marisa planned her protest for that well-loved night. To make people pay attention, disrupt what brings them joy.

    The mad desire to act had existed long before her plan did. Marisa loved the water as a baby. Her parents told the stories to anyone who would listen. She always feigned embarrassment at their anecdotes about her hour-long baths and surprising performance in toddler swimming classes, her dark, curly hair unfurling in the water behind her like a mermaid, her brown eyes huge within the goggles she always carried around. But the truth was that she loved the stories. They confirmed this was not a passing fad, not a childhood obsession that would lose its significance over time, not a baby blanket carried around charmingly until age ten, when it was shoved into a box and donated.

    When she discovered snorkeling and, later, diving, that love blew wide open. This? This had been possible this whole time?

    Though Marisa was only seventeen, her parents’ constant relocations for work meant she’d seen a hefty percentage of the world’s waters. She’d snorkeled in Mexico, Fiji, the Philippines, the Great Barrier Reef, Belize. And the more she did it, the more her heart broke. Human beings had found a way to kill water.

    The places famed for their snorkeling were heart-­ wrenching. The destroyed beige reefs littered the oceans like ornate gravestones. They should have been resplendent with color. Books and scientists told her as much, and other divers did, too. Of course, though, they weren’t. Not anymore. The world had ruined that particular beauty before Marisa had ever had a chance to see it, killing the corals with spilled chemicals, suffocating the oceans with heat. Every time she surfaced, she would dive into the internet, trying to find a way to help. Changing her sunscreen to the reef-safe kind, cleaning up plastic on the beach, asking her parents to donate yet again; nothing felt big enough.

    Then came the three-day weekend at the start of the school year that changed it all. She had convinced her parents to take the family to the beach, and the Cuevases, who knew their frequent moves could be hard on the children, relented de-spite the fact that neither of them felt settled in at work yet, and they would have really liked to stay in the city and run errands.

    Marisa had heard amazing things about the snorkeling in the region surrounding the beach. She was always skeptical when she heard anything like that; she’d been disappointed enough. She was fine just swimming among whatever fish remained in the area and pretending this was what it had al-ways been like, this was the wondrous alien world other divers described. After their most recent move, she’d done her usual research and found on the most trustworthy sources that an untouched blip still existed, not too far from her new school.

    She convinced her parents, who knew it was better to indulge Marisa than fight her, to take a boat to an island, then another, smaller boat to another, smaller island. Arriving at the clear, turquoise waters, which were peppered with butterflies from who knows where fluttering across the surface, whole waves of them outnumbering the tourists she had seen even on the mainland, Marisa allowed herself to hope. Well before her family was ready, Marisa was in her flippers and mask, and she sat on the edge of the boat and let herself fall backward into the warm waters. At first, her heart had soared: greens! Purples! Oranges! Bright colors in the reefs, finally. The schools of fish were more like armies, numbered not in dozens but in hundreds, maybe even thousands, various species all swimming in their separate schools, like great big flags unfurling mightily in the water.

    Marisa followed them, kicking delightedly, her heart flooding with joy. Then she turned a corner around some rocks and her breath caught, as if someone had reached inside her chest and closed a massive fist around her lungs. Even here, she found murk and drudgery, the reef not on display so much as its dying was.

    She emerged from the water and took off her mask, tears mixing with the waves. People and the trash with which they suffocated the world. She looked around, shading her eyes from the shimmering sunlight with her free hand. Maybe it was time to accept the world as it was.

    As she turned to swim back to shore, she caught sight of something on the far end of the island. A construction site. Large, acres and acres of it, from what Marisa could tell, and a handful of bulldozers. She swam closer and saw the sign announcing the coming resort. Nearby, a trickle of brown-gray water weaved its way from below the makeshift wall around the site and dribbled onto the sand.

    Yes, it was a travesty, an outrage that the world had been ruined before her arrival. But that trickle hadn’t reached all the way to the shore, not yet.

    As soon as she and her family made it back to their eco-hotel that day, Marisa decided she had to stop that waste from reaching the ocean. Whatever she could do for the reefs, she was going to do it. If it was just shutting down that one construction site, or if it was something much bigger, she had to try. What else was there but to try?

    Months of stewing later, of planning, of seeing the ruined remains of the ocean floors every time she closed her eyes, of thinking of a way to make everyone else see what she saw. It all led up to this moment, when Marisa hoisted a chain from the duffel bag she’d hidden on campus a few days ago. She weaved it through the handles on the double doors that led into the main school building, then she wrapped it three times around her own body, uncomfortably tight, so bolt cutters could not break through the metal without snagging on her skin. When she was satisfied, she grabbed three giant padlocks from the bag and locked herself in, meaning to stay.

    She set the keys in the middle of her palm, rubbing them each in a pad of butter procured earlier from the cafeteria, and which had warmed nicely in her pocket throughout the afternoon. Then Marisa, rehearsing her speech in her mind one last time, looked up. She expected to see a sizable crowd already gathering. What she saw instead was a lanky blond sophomore leaving the bathroom across the open expanse of the building’s foyer. The boy was checking to see if he’d remembered to zip up. He had not.

    When his eyes met Marisa’s, he could tell she had seen him checking, and he stepped quickly away from her line of sight, failing to notice the heavy metal chain wrapped around her torso.


    Excerpt from We Didn’t Ask For This by Adi Alsaid. 
    Copyright © 2020 by Adi Alsaid. Published by Inkyard Press. 
    All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.





    Meet The Author


    Photo by Peter Ross

    Adi Alsaid was born and raised in Mexico City. He attended college at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He’s now back in Mexico City, where he writes, coaches basketball, and makes every dish he eats as spicy as possible. In addition to Mexico, he’s lived in Tel Aviv, Las Vegas and Monterey, California. His books include Let’s Get Lost, Never Always Sometimes, and North of Happy. Visit Adi online at http://www.SomewhereOverTheSun.com, or on Twitter: @AdiAlsaid.



    Connect to the author via her website, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, or Twitter.



    This excerpt brought to you by Inkyard Press