Book Showcase: THE MERCHANT AND THE ROGUE by Sarah M. Eden

THE MERCHANT AND THE ROGUE by Sarah M. Eden Blog Tour Banner, A Proper Romance, August 16-29, 2021; "Readers who enjoy chaste romances and a good mystery will enjoy the Dread Penny Society exploits and look forward to what comes next." Booklist

The Merchant and the Rogue by Sarah M. Eden
ISBN: 9781629728513 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781629739991 (ebook)
ASIN: B098TVLLM7 (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B0921TS4TF (Audible audiobook)
Series: Book 3 in the Dread Penny Society
Release Date: August 17, 2021
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Genre: Fiction | Historical Romance | Historical Mystery/Suspense | Inspirational Fiction

London, 1865

Vera Sorokina loves reading the Penny Dreadfuls and immersing herself in tales of adventure, mystery, and romance. Her own days are filled with the often-mundane work of running the book and print shop she owns with her father. The shop offers her the freedom and income to employ and protect the poverty-stricken Londoners she’s come to care about, and it gives her father something to do other than long for their hometown of St. Petersburg. She is grateful for the stability in their lives, but she often feels lonely.

Brogan Donnelly was born and raised in Ireland, but has lived in London for several years, where he’s built a career as a Penny Dreadful writer. He has dedicated himself to the plight of the poor with the help of his sister. His membership in the secretive Dread Penny Society allows him to feel he isn’t entirely wasting his life, yet he feels dissatisfied. With no one to share his life with but his sister, he fears London will never truly feel like home.

Brogan and Vera’s paths cross, and the attraction is both immediate and ill-advised. Vera knows from experience that writers are never to be trusted, and Brogan has reason to suspect not everything at her print shop is aboveboard. When the growing criminal enterprise run by the elusive and violent Mastiff begins targeting their area of London, Brogan and Vera must work together to protect the community they’ve both grown to love. But that means they’ll need to learn to trust each other with dangerous secrets that have followed both of them from their home countries.

 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 4

 

Vera’s customers were quick to realize Ganor O’Donnell knew everything about the penny dreadfuls. He was in the shop on his second day of working there, having spent the morning unpacking the latest arrivals and helping get the displays in order. He’d even taken up the job of arranging window displays, something she’d not yet had the time to do that day. All respectable print shops had eye-catching displays. Having that part of the business sorted would bring in more print jobs, and Ganor’s easy and personable discussions of the serials would bring in more penny dreadful customers.

Hiring him had proven a stroke of genius. And yet she couldn’t shake a nagging sense of uncertainty. His knuckles bore the heavy scarring of one who’d seen more than his share of brawls. He was a fighter, though likely not a professional pugilist. She was not unacquainted with men who swung fists as a matter of course, but it still made her a touch nervous having one working in the shop.

Ganor worked hard, but there was an air of distraction about him. Sometimes his mind wandered enough that he didn’t respond when she called out to him. His eyes would take on the strangest look when someone mentioned a penny dreadful author—didn’t seem to matter which one. And he asked a lot of questions.

Still, having him there to lug and deliver things made everything run better. It also allowed her a few more unguarded moments where she could read the penny dreadfuls she loved, despite her feelings of lingering guilt. The stories Papa resented having in the shop gave her a sense of friendship and adventure. She wasn’t certain she could entirely give them up, even for him.

She was rereading the first installment in Mr. King’s latest offering, searching for the clues that he always managed to sprinkle in his writing. Vera took pride in being able to sort out the mystery a little ahead of the story.

“Enjoying it?” Ganor plopped onto the chair beside hers, the both of them sitting at the table near the back of the shop where print orders were taken.

“I always like Mr. King’s stories,” she said. “The mystery and romanticalness.” She stopped a minute. “I’m not certain that’s a word.”

He tossed back one of his heart-fluttering smiles. “Seems to me it ought to be.”

“You have a nice way with the customers,” she said.

“Talking with ’em about the penny dreadfuls and helping ’em sort out which ones they’d like best.”

“Are Mr. King’s the ones you like best?” He motioned to the story she still held in her hands.

“I like most all of them.”

“So do I.” They were having a rare quiet moment in the shop, a lull between waves of customers. “Seems odd to me, though; you selling stories when your da is so opposed to ’em.”

She glanced toward the back doorway, wanting to make certain her papa wasn’t near enough to overhear. “The shop weren’t doing well. We sell a good amount of parchment and pens and such things. But, without enough print orders coming in, we needed something else. I knew the penny dreadfuls were popular, and I’d read plenty enough of them to know how to go about selling them. He was spitting fire over it when I first brought ’em here. He still ain’t happy about the whole thing. But it’s kept us afloat.”

Ganor leaned his arms on the table, appearing to settle in for a cozy chat. How long had it been since that had happened with anyone at all? Papa was sometimes talkative over their evening meals, but outside of him she didn’t have a lot of gabs.

“Why is it your da, a man who despises books and tales and the written word, plies his trade as a printer? Seems a contradiction to me.”

“He was a printer in Russia. It’s the trade he knows and the skills he has.” She shrugged, her hands held out to her side. “He never prints any books or stories or bits of fiction. He limits himself to documents and advertisements and pamphlets.”

“Pamphlets are written by writers,” Ganor pointed out.

“I know it’s a contradiction, but I don’t press him on it. If he limited his jobs even more, we’d be in the suds for sure and certain.”

“Money remains tight, does it?”

“Always.”

His ginger brow pulled as he focused more closely on her. “You’re certain you’ve the funds for paying me? Don’t misunderstand, it’s grateful I am for the income as I’d not care to live with m’sister for the rest of m’life. But I don’t want to be the reason your shop sinks beneath the waves.”

“With how many penny dreadfuls you sold today alone, I’d wager you’ll more than pay for yourself.”

He grinned broadly. The man had a shockingly beautiful smile. “I’ve a fondness for the tales.”

“I twigged that.”

Still looking as amused as ever, he asked, “You ‘twigged’ it?”

“Sorted it out,” she explained. “South London shows up in my words still.”

He nodded. “Ireland wriggles its way into mine now and then.”

She snorted. “‘Now and then.'”

“What is it you’re trying to say, lass?” he asked, eyes twinkling with laughter.

“That I’m not sure you know what the phrase ‘now and then’ means, that’s what I’m saying.” She couldn’t remember the last time she’d smiled so much chatting with someone. “It’d be like me saying I crave hot roasted chestnuts ‘now and then.'”

“Fond of roasted chestnuts, are you?”

“Desperately fond.”

Excerpt from The Merchant and the Rogue by Sarah M. Eden. Copyright © 2021 by Sarah M. Eden. Published by Shadow Mountain Publishing. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Sarah M Eden headshot
Sarah M. Eden

 

Sarah M. Eden is the author of critically acclaimed and award-winning Proper Romance series novels including The Lady and the Highwayman and Ashes on the Moor. Combining her passion for history and an affinity for love stories, Sarah crafts smart, witty characters and heartfelt romances. She happily spends hours perusing the reference shelves of her local library and dreams of one day traveling to all the places she reads about.

Connect with the author at:
Facebook
Goodreads
Instagram
Twitter
website

Virtual Book Tour

Join the virtual book tour of The Merchant and the Rogue, Sarah M. Eden’s highly acclaimed historical romance, August 16-29, 2021. Thirty-five popular on-line influencers specializing in historical romance, mystery/suspense, and inspirational fiction will join in the celebration of its release with spotlights, exclusive excerpts, and reviews of this new Victorian-era novel set in London, England.

TOUR SCHEDULE

Aug 16 Among the Reads (Review)
Aug 16 Austenprose (Review)
Aug 16 Reading is My Superpower (Review)
Aug 17 Literary Time Out (Review)
Aug 17 Getting Your Read On (Review)
Aug 17 Heidi Reads (Excerpt)
Aug 17 Laura’s Reviews (Review)
Aug 18 Our Book Confessions (Review)
Aug 18 Bookworm Lisa (Review)
Aug 19 Fire & Ice (Review)
Aug 19 From Pemberley to Milton (Excerpt)
Aug 20 My Bookish Bliss (Review)
Aug 20 Gwendalyn’s Books (Review)
Aug 20 Storeybook Reviews (Excerpt)
Aug 21 Bookish Rantings (Review)
Aug 21 The Calico Critic (Review)
Aug 22 The Christian Fiction Girl (Review)
Aug 22 Books, Teacups, & Reviews (Excerpt)
Aug 23 My Jane Austen Book Club (Spotlight)
Aug 23 Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen (Review)
Aug 23 Reading with Emily (Review)
Aug 24 Wishful Endings (Review)
Aug 24 Relz Reviewz (Review)
Aug 24 The Book Diva Reads (Excerpt)
Aug 25 Bookfoolery (Review)
Aug 25 Greenish Bookshelf (Review)
Aug 26 A Bookish Way of Life (Review)
Aug 26 Nurse Bookie (Review)
Aug 27 So Little Time… (Excerpt)
Aug 27 Probably at the Library (Review)
Aug 27 Bringing Up Books (Review)
Aug 28 Books and Socks Rock (Review)
Aug 28 The Bibliophile Files (Review)
Aug 29 Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina (Review)
Aug 29 A Darn Good Read (Review)

The excerpt and virtual book tour brought to you by AustenProse

Guest Post: David Gardner – THE JOURNALIST

The Journalist by David Gardner Banner

Good day, book people. I hope you had a wonderful weekend, kept safe and dry (especially for those of you in rain-soaked areas), and were able to get some reading done. I spent the weekend with my 86-y.o. mother and we both spent most of our time reading. If I had to choose a so-called “guilty pleasure,” mine would be reading almost anything I can get my hands on (I know, not much of a shocker or a guilty pleasure). Some people might be fascinated by reality television, others to sports, and then you have those that are obsessed with the tabloids. Today’s guest, David Gardner and author of The Journalist: A Paranormal Thriller, knows quite a bit about tabloids and tabloid journalism and he’ll be sharing a few tidbits with us today. Please help me welcome author David Gardner to the blog. Thank you, Mr. Gardner for joining us today, the blog is now yours.

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Tabloid journalism fascinates me so much that I have forced the protagonist of my novel, The Journalist: A Paranormal Thriller (Encircle Publications) to work for a particularly cheesy one. For me, the more fanciful the story, the better. Do others believe what they read in the tabloids? I have no idea.

What is a tabloid? It refers to newspapers one-half the physical size of broadsheets, which we think of as the standard dimensions for a newspaper. Right here I need to distinguish between tabloid-sized newspapers and tabloid journalism. Most large cities have a respectable, tabloid-sized newspaper. Some people speculate that this is to make it easier to read on a subway. Those papers often refer to themselves as compact.

Tabloid journalism is associated with the tabloid-sized papers of questionable repute found in supermarket checkout counters.

My novel’s hero has written breathless tabloid articles about green aliens who’ve taken up residence at the Boston Red Sox playing field, a famous television cook who’s gone on a hunger strike, and a boy in Brisbane who can tell the future by licking truck tires. Bizarre topics like these are only slight exaggerations of what some tabloids print.

The first tabloid newspaper is thought to be The Daily Mirror, started in London in 1903 by the interestingly named Alfred Harmsworth. By 1909 it was selling a million copies a day. Competitors flourished across the globe.

Today’s tabloids specialize in celebrity gossip with paparazzi photos showing their subject in awkward situations. We learn of the subject’s alarming weight gain, drinking problems, family troubles and general misbehavior—we’re more than happy to learn that the rich and famous are no better than we are. A few tabloids take a strong political stand. Those I avoid.

The Onion (which you can read online) brilliantly spoofs tabloids. Several daytime television shows owe their existence to tabloid journalism.

What is true in a tabloid and what is not? If the front page reads, “Hillary Clinton Adopts Alien Baby” and shows an “official photo” of the former First Lady tentatively gripping a creepy, bald, babyish thing, then you can be pretty sure the story is fake. (Yes, that actually appeared in the Weekly World News.)

“Surgeons Cut My Head Off—And Sewed It Back On!” That’s a real headline from the Weekly World News. The tabloid’s front cover shows a surgeon fussing over an operating table with the severed head of an attractive brunette wearing an expression of perfect serenity.

Some stories hover between truth and fiction. Tales of celebrity misdoings sometimes stray over the libel line and get the paper’s owners in court. And once in a while a grocery-store tabloid will actually beat the respectable press to a story. Tabloids were the first to disclose that the married Senator John Edwards had fathered a child with his girlfriend, which brought to an end his presidential run.

As stated earlier, I have a weakness for tabloids, the more lurid the better. While standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, I’ll often grab a tabloid off the rack, drop it on top of a box of Corn Flakes and mutter to the person behind me, “Uncle Larry asked me to pick up a copy.”

I’m not sure I’m fooling anyone.


The Journalist

A Paranormal Thriller

by David Gardner

August 1-31, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

The Journalist by David Gardner

If Jeff can’t save his ghostly ancestors from disappearing, so will he.

Writing for a cheesy Boston tabloid, Jeff Beekle fabricates a whimsical tale about a mob-built CIA prison for ghosts.

Which turns out to be true.

Now both the mob and the CIA have Jeff in their sights.

Even worse, Jeff discovers that his great-grandmother is an inmate and that she and the other spectral residents are being groomed as CIA spies. (And why not? They’re invisible, draw no salary, and won’t hop into bed with enemy agents.)

To his horror, Jeff learns that ancestors held too long in earthly captivity will vanish as if never born, taking with them all their descendants, which includes him.

Can Jeff outwit the mob and the CIA, free his ghostly ancestors, destroy the prison and save himself?

Book Details:

Genre: Humorous Paranormal Thriller
Published by: Encircle Publications, LLC
Publication Date: February 10th 2021
Number of Pages: 322
ISBN: 164599144X (ISBN13: 9781645991441)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Book Trailer for The Journalist:

Author Bio:

David Gardener

David Gardner grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm, served in Army Special Forces and earned a Ph.D. in French from the University of Wisconsin. He has taught college, worked as a reporter and sold women’s shoes.

He coauthored three programming books for Prentice Hall, wrote dozens of travel articles as well as too many mind-numbing computer manuals before happily turning to fiction.

He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Nancy, also a writer. He hikes, bikes, messes with astro-photography and plays the keyboard with no discernible talent whatsoever.

Catch Up With David Gardener:
DavidGardnerAuthor.com
Goodreads
Instagram – @davidagardner07
Twitter – @dgardner_author
Facebook – @david.gardner.33483

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

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Join In on the Giveaway:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for David Gardner. There will be THREE (3) winners for this tour. Each winner will ONE (1) signed print edition of The Journalist by David Gardner (US Mailing Addresses Only). The giveaway begins on August 1 and runs through September 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Bookstore Romance Day

Bookstore Romance Day logo, heart shape with "Bookstore Romance Day" lettered forming the left side of the heart and stacks of books in indigo forming the right side of the heart.

Love is In the Air

It’s time to celebrate love, all shades of love. Today, Saturday, August 21, 2021, is Bookstore Romance Day. This is the third year of celebrating romance in fiction. According to the website:”Bookstore Romance Day is a day designed to give independent bookstores an opportunity to celebrate Romance fiction—its books, readers, and writers—and to strengthen the relationships between bookstores and the Romance community.”

If you’re looking for some romance fiction ideas, I have a few suggestions for you. I’ve been a romance reading diva since the pandemic began. Okay, I’ve always read romance fiction, but I’ve gone into overdrive with the romance fiction since the pandemic began. I enjoy romantic suspense, romantic comedy, historical romance, as well as contemporary romance. Steamy romance or mild romance, I’ll read them all.

First, up is my all-time favorite author, the incomparable, the Slayer of Words, the Queen…Beverly Jenkins! I’ve recommended her books in the past and I sincerely hope you’ve taken my recommendations and read her Blessings series (soon to be a television series [we hope]). This series, more inspirational with hints of romance, begins with Bring On the Blessings, A Second Helping, Something Old, Something New, A Wish and a Prayer, Heart of Gold, For Your Love, Stepping to a New Day, Chasing Down a Dream, Second Time Sweeter, and On the Corner of Hope and Main. If you enjoy historical romance, then I encourage you to grab copies of Ms. B’s Indigo and Vivid, especially the 25th anniversary editions.

Next up is Jasmine Guillory and her Wedding Date series. This series includes: The Wedding Date, The Proposal (one of my favorites), The Wedding Party, Royal Holiday (another favorite because the main female character is named Vivian!), Party of Two, and While We Were Dating (a new favorite). All of these books offer great romance with touches of comedy that just make for wonderful reads. I love them all and so does my 86-y.o. mother!

I also recommend the Bromance series by Lyssa Kay Adams. This series features men learning how to be better husbands or significant others by reading romance novels. The series has plenty of serious moments, but it is also packed with a lot of laughs. Start with book one, The Bromance Book Club, then Undercover Bromance, followed by One Crazy Stupid Bromance, and the latest release Isn’t It Bromantic?.

And for something a little different, I highly recommend you grab copies of Ayesha at Last and Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin. These are great romance stories that feature Muslims as the lead characters and have just as much drama and comedy as seen in other romance reads. Come on people, read diversely! I’m not just saying that because I’m a Black Muslim woman from Appalachia or a Muslim Affrilachian, I’m saying that as a book diva!

Of course, there are a number of other authors that I read and can recommend to you. A partial list includes S.K. Ali, Sandra Brown, Alyssa Cole, Lori Foster, Linda Howard, Sarah Jio, Susanna Kearsley, Sandra Kitt, Alexa Martin, JJ Murray (only male on this list), Alisha Rai (I have read and can highly recommend the Modern Love series: Girl Gone Viral, The Right Swipe, and First Comes Like), Juno Rushdan, JD Robb & Nora Roberts, Sharon Sala, Meg Tilly, Sarah Title, Lauren Willig (love the Pink Carnation series), and more.

If you want to learn more about virtual events happening today, please click here. Please note that registration may no longer be available, but you can watch missed events on YouTube.

And remember, Love is Love! Now, go out to your favorite indie bookstore and treat yourself to a romance book or two.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Book Spotlight: CAJUN KISS OF DEATH by Ellen Byron

Cajun Kiss of Death: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron

About Cajun Kiss of Death

Cajun Kiss of Death: A Cajun Country Mystery

Cozy Mystery

7th in Series

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Crooked Lane Books (August 10, 2021)

Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 320 pages

ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 164385738X

ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1643857381

Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08N6SMX1J

The next shot from Cupid’s bow may be fatal in USA Today bestselling, Agatha Award-winning author Ellen Byron’s hearty and delightful seventh Cajun Country mystery.

In Pelican, Louisiana, Valentine’s Day has a way of warming the heart, despite the February chill. But the air at Crozat Plantation B&B turns decidedly frigid when celebrity chef Phillippe Chanson checks in. And when the arrogant Phillippe–in town to open his newest Cajun-themed restaurant–perishes in a fiery boat crash, Maggie Crozat’s dear friend JJ lands in very cold water.

Did JJ, proprietor of Junie’s Oyster Bar and Dance Hall, murder Phillippe because he feared the competition? Might Maggie’s mother, Ninette, have bumped off the chef for stealing one of her cherished recipes? Or was the culprit a local seafood vendor, miffed because Phillippe was somehow able to sell oysters for a remarkably reasonable price, despite an oyster shortage?

Maggie had planned to devote her February to art lessons in New Orleans, a present from her sweetheart, Bo. But now she has to focus on helping her friend and her mother cross a murder charge off the menu. Meanwhile, Maggie receives a series of anonymous gifts that begin as charming but grow increasingly disturbing. Does Maggie have an admirer–or a stalker? And are these mysterious gifts somehow related to Phillippe’s murder?

Blood may be thicker than water, but this case is thicker than gumbo. And solving it will determine whether Maggie gets hearts and roses–or hearse and lilies–this Valentine’s Day.

Purchase Links – PenguinRandomHouseAmazonB&NKoboIndieBound

About Ellen Byron

Ellen’s Cajun Country Mysteries have won the Agatha award for Best Contemporary Novel and multiple Lefty awards for Best Humorous Mystery. She writes the Catering Hall Mystery series, which are inspired by her real-life, under the name Maria DiRico. Ellen is an award-winning playwright, and non-award-winning TV writer of comedies like WINGS, JUST SHOOT ME, and FAIRLY ODD PARENTS. She has written over two hundred articles for national magazines but considers her most impressive credit working as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart.

Author Links
Newsletter: https://www.ellenbyron.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ellenbyronauthor/
https://www.facebook.com/CateringHallMysteries/
https://www.instagram.com/ellenbyronmariadirico/
Bookbub:
https://www.bookbub.com/profile/ellen-byron
https://www.bookbub.com/authors/maria-dirico
Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/23234.Ellen_Byron?from_search=true&from_srp=true
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19130966.Maria_DiRico?from_search=true&from_srp=true

Giveaway

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

August 16 – Novels Alive – GUEST POST

August 16 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

August 16 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 17 – The Book’s the Thing – SPOTLIGHT

August 17 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 18 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW

August 18 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

August 19 – Mysteries with Character – REVIEW

August 19 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 20 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT

August 20 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

August 21 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 21 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

August 22 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

August 22 – Author Elena Taylor’s Blog – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 23 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

August 23 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT

August 24 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

August 24 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

August 25 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

August 25 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

August 26 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

August 26 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – CHARACTER GUEST POST

August 27 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

August 27 – Reading Is My SuperPower – RECIPE

August 28 – ThisIsMyTruthNow – REVIEW

August 28 – I Read What You Write – SPOTLIGHT

August 29 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT

August 29 – Dear Reader – REVIEW

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Click Here to Find Details and Sign Up Today!

Book Spotlight: THE BARRISTER AND THE LETTER OF MARQUE by Todd M. Johnson

THE BARRISTER AND THE LETTER OF MARQUE by Todd M. Johnson blog tour banner;  book cover is blue washed featuring a Victorian gentleman in a topcoat, with a walking stick and top hot walking across a bridge, a faint map appears in the overall background; "...a mystery worthy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle." - Award-winning author Jocelyn Green; book tour: August 2-15, 2021

The Barrister and the Letter of Marque by Todd M. Johnson
ISBN: 9780764239137 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780764212369 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781493431502 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781705029749 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B0983VZ6XZ (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08LG91Y95 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Bethany House Fiction
Release Date: August 3, 2021
Genre: Fiction | Historical Mystery | Suspense | Inspirational Fiction

THE BARRISTER AND THE LETTER OF MARQUE - TMJohnson

As a barrister in 1818 London, William Snopes has witnessed firsthand the danger of only the wealthy having their voices heard, and he’s a strong advocate who defends the poorer classes against the powerful. That changes the day a struggling heiress, Lady Madeleine Jameson, arrives at his door.

In a last-ditch effort to save her faltering estate, Lady Jameson invested in a merchant brig, the Padget. The ship was granted a rare privilege by the king’s regent: a Letter of Marque authorizing the captain to seize the cargo of French traders operating illegally in the Indian Sea. Yet when the Padget returns to London, her crew is met by soldiers ready to take possession of their goods and arrest the captain for piracy. And the Letter—-the sole proof his actions were legal—has mysteriously vanished.

Moved by the lady’s distress, intrigued by the Letter, and goaded by an opposing solicitor, Snopes takes the case. But as he delves deeper into the mystery, he learns that the forces arrayed against Lady Jameson, and now himself, are even more perilous than he’d imagined.

 

Advance Praise:

“Johnson debuts with a tense story of powerful interests teaming up to thwart a legal challenge in Georgian-era England…Johnson steeps his story in legal maneuvering, layers of intrigue, midnight chases, and even a hint of romance. While faith elements are subtle, this enthralling novel will appeal to fans of both legal thrillers and historical inspirationals.” — Publishers Weekly

“… a mystery worthy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This richly historical and lively paced story has all the makings of a modern classic.” — Jocelyn Green, Christy Award-winning author of Shadows of the White City

“At once atmospheric and gripping, Johnson’s latest is a luminous and refreshing new offering in inspirational historical fiction.” — Rachel McMillan, bestselling author of The London Restoration and The Mozart Code

“A fascinating glimpse into a Regency London readers seldom see.” — Roseanna M. White, bestselling author of Edwardian fiction 

Meet The Author:

Author - Todd M Johnson headshot 2021Todd M. Johnson is the author of three legal thrillers: The Deposit Slip (2012), Critical Reaction (2013), and Fatal Trust (2017), and The Barrister and the Letter of Marque (2021), his first foray into historical mystery. He has been a practicing attorney for over 30 years, specializing as a trial lawyer. A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Minnesota Law School, he also taught for two years as adjunct professor of International Law and served as a US diplomat in Hong Kong. He lives outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife and daughter.

Connect with the Author:

BookBub | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Author Website 

Follow the Blog Tour:

Join the virtual book tour of The Barrister and the Letter of Marque, Todd M. Johnson’s highly acclaimed historical mystery, August 2-15, 2021. Over twenty-five popular on-line influencers specializing in historical mystery, suspense, and inspirational fiction will join in the celebration of its release with an interview, spotlights, exclusive excerpts, and reviews of this new Regency-era novel set in London, England.

Tour Participants
Aug 02 The Readathon (Review)
Aug 02 From Pemberley to Milton (Excerpt)
Aug 02 Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (Review)
Aug 03 Life of Literature (Review)
Aug 03 Captivated Reading (Spotlight)
Aug 04 Laura’s Reviews (Review)
Aug 04 The Green Mockingbird (Review)
Aug 05 My Jane Austen Book Club (Spotlight)
Aug 05 Reading is My Superpower (Review)
Aug 06 Among the Reads (Excerpt)
Aug 06 The Blue Stocking (Review)
Aug 07 Gwendalyn’s Books (Review)
Aug 07 Reading with Emily (Review)
Aug 08 Storeybook Reviews (Spotlight)
Aug 08 Rosanne E. Lortz (Review)
Aug 09 Heidi Reads (Excerpt)
Aug 09 Bookworm Lisa (Review)
Aug 10 The Caffeinated Bibliophile (Spotlight)
Aug 10 Wishful Endings (Review)
Aug 10 My Bookish Bliss (Review)
Aug 11 By the Book (Interview)
Aug 11 A Bookish Way of Life (Review)
Aug 12 Books, Teacups, & Reviews (Review)
Aug 12 A Darn Good Read (Review)
Aug 13 Fire & Ice (Review)
Aug 14 The Lit Bitch (Spotlight)
Aug 14 The Book Diva Reads (Spotlight)
Aug 15 Vesper’s Place (Review)

This spotlight and blog tour brought to you by AustenProse

 

Guest Post: Lindsay Marcott – MRS. ROCHESTER’S GHOST

Good day, book people. Do you have a favorite classic? One of my favorite classics is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I’ve loved this book since I read it for the first time many, many years ago in junior high school (aka middle school). Since my love affair began with Jane Eyre, I’ve become invested in all things Jane Eyre, i.e., movie and television adaptations, book adaptations, book retellings, books influenced by, etc. Needless to say, I was very excited when I heard about Mrs. Rochester’s Ghost by Lindsay Marcott. I’m beyond excited to welcome none other than Lindsay Marcott today as she discusses with us a modern take on Jane Eyre. I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to say and will add Mrs. Rochester’s Ghost to your TBR list, if it isn’t already there. Thank you, Ms. Marcott, for stopping by, the blog is now yours.

Jane Eyre for the Modern Age

by Lindsay Marcott

What is it about Jane Eyre that has made it a blockbuster for over a hundred and seventy years? The breathtaking writing, yes. The gripping plot: part Gothic romance, part coming-of-age story. The swooning romance between a rich man and a poor orphan, and the shock of the mad wife secreted in an attic.

But I think most of all it’s the voice of Jane herself: a young woman with an extraordinary sense of her own worth and independence. A voice that was revolutionary in 1847 when Charlotte Brontë published it. At the time, women had little say outside family and home. Their career opportunities outside of marriage were limited to underpaid servants and schoolteachers. Female characters in early Victorian novels were usually portrayed as either sugary too-good-to-be-true angels or fallen women seeking repentance.

Jane is neither. She’s constricted by the society she lives in—she needs to keep a stifling job as a governess or else starve to death—but she makes it clear she’d rather starve than sacrifice her will or stifle her intelligence. As a child, she has a temper and a will, even though she’s punished harshly for it. Later, when her employer, Mr. Rochester, grills her, she responds with strong opinions and engages in spirited debates. And when he tempts her to go live in sin with him in Europe, she escapes through the only means available to her—by running off to the surrounding moors, though it probably means she will die in those wilds. And she will not return to him until she learns he has fundamentally changed, and she can now love him passionately and physically without compromising her true self.

I believe it’s this will and independence of Jane’s that keep modern readers coming back for more (not to mention that throbbing romance!), and these are the same elements that inspire continual adaptations of the story. I had long dreamed of creating modern versions of these characters, because they so thrilled and delighted me and taught me life lessons over many years of my rereading the book. A nervy dream, yes. But also one that presented huge challenges: there are so many elements of the book that just won’t fly in an updated story.

For example: a current-day Jane would not be able to keep her curiosity under wraps about all the strange and spooky things going on in Mr. Rochester’s house. She wouldn’t just accept vague explanations or agree to his request to simply not ask about them. She would be itching to find out more.

Also a sexual relationship outside of marriage is no longer a taboo for most women of today. Jane wouldn’t have to flee that temptation. And of course a modern Mr. Rochester would be able to divorce a mad wife, though no doubt having to pay a heavy alimony for her future care. So that’s no longer even an obstacle.

But lies are always a problem in a relationship. Especially big lies.

A secret bigamist is a pretty big lie.

Being a secret murderer would be an even bigger one.

It was thinking about this that gave me the idea of adapting the book as a modern thriller. One in which Rochester does not have a stashed-away wife—instead he’s suspected of murdering a famous wife who has now disappeared. Jane would have to surreptitiously seek out the truth about him–guilty or not?–before she could give in to falling in love. And when spooky things happened, she would need to confront those as well. She would be risking an enormous amount. Losing the love of her life. And maybe also losing her life.

And so I set about writing a thriller, adding startling new twists, putting in jumps and shivers. The result is Mrs. Rochester’s Ghost. It was a joy to write, and I certainly hope it’s an equal joy to read.


 

Mrs. Rochester's GhostMrs. Rochester’s Ghost by Lindsay Marcott
ISBN: 9781542026383 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781542026390 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781713561422 (audiobook)
ISBN: 9781713561415 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B08DFSR14S (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B08L9LPFZP (Audible audiobook)
Release Date: August 1, 2021
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Fiction | Mystery | Thriller | Retelling

 In a modern and twisty retelling of Jane Eyre, a young woman must question everything she thinks she knows about love, loyalty, and murder.

Jane has lost everything: job, mother, relationship, even her home. A friend calls to offer an unusual deal—a cottage above the crashing surf of Big Sur on the estate of his employer, Evan Rochester. In return, Jane will tutor his teenage daughter. She accepts.

But nothing is quite as it seems at the Rochester estate. Though he’s been accused of murdering his glamorous and troubled wife, Evan Rochester insists she drowned herself. Jane is skeptical, but she still finds herself falling for the brilliant and secretive entrepreneur and growing close to his daughter.

And yet her deepening feelings for Evan can’t disguise dark suspicions aroused when a ghostly presence repeatedly appears in the night’s mist and fog. Jane embarks on an intense search for answers and uncovers evidence that soon puts Evan’s innocence into question. She’s determined to discover what really happened that fateful night, but what will the truth cost her?

 

Read An Excerpt:

The fog streamed in white scarves and pennants, with a bright half moon playing hide-and-seek among them. I walked briskly down the asphalt drive, Pilot racing figure eights around me. We cut across switchbacks toward the highway. I kept to the gravel shoulder as the grade descended.

A pair of headlights glowered in the mist, then swept swiftly by.

The highway continued to dip. Pilot romped ahead and disappeared from my sight around a curve.

“Pilot!” I heard him barking but couldn’t see him. I quickened my steps.

I found myself in the middle of a dense cloud. Fog gathered in the depression in the road.

“Pilot?” I yelled again. “Where are you?”

Excited yapping. But he was a ghost dog.

The roar of a motorcycle echoed from around the far side of the bend. Through the blanketing cloud, I caught a glimpse of the poodle trotting onto the road.

“Pilot, get back here!” I screamed.

The motorcycle’s headlamp glowed dimly as it appeared on the near side of the bend. Pilot barked with sudden frenzy. The headlamp veered crazily. Pilot darted off the road into the underbrush. A sickening sound of tires skidding out of control on gravel. A shout.

With horror, I watched motorcycle and rider slam down onto the gravel shoulder.

I ran toward the rider. He was sprawled crookedly next to the bike, but his limbs, encased in black leather and jeans, were moving stiffly. Alive, at least. With a groan, he hoisted himself up onto his elbows.

“Are you okay?” I shined my flashlight on him. He whipped his head. “What the hell are you?”

“Just a person,” I said quickly.

He yanked his goggles down. “For Chrissake. I meant who are you? What are you doing here?”

“Taking a walk.”

“What kind of lunatic goes out for a walk in this kind of fog?”

“Maybe the same kind of lunatic who drives way too fast in it.”

“You call that fast? Christ.” He gingerly gathered himself into a sitting position, then flexed his feet in the heavy boots experimentally. He took off his helmet and shook out a head of rough black curls. A week’s tangle of rough salt-and-pepper beard nearly obscured a wide mouth. The prominent nose might be called stately on a more good-natured face. “What the hell was that creature in the middle of the road?”

“A dog.”

“A dog?”

“A standard poodle. Unclipped.”

He put the helmet back on, then pulled a cell phone from his jacket and squinted at the screen. “Nothing,” he muttered.

“The reception’s kind of iffy around here.”

He flung out an arm. “Help me up, okay?”

I approached him tentatively. He was over six feet and powerfully built. About twice my weight, I guessed. “I’m not sure I can pull you.”

“Yeah, you probably can’t. Stoop down a little.”

God, he’s rude. I did, and he draped his arm around my shoulder, transferring his weight. My knees buckled a little but didn’t give. He began to stand, crumpled slightly, then got his balance and pulled himself up straight.

I suddenly became aware of his intense physicality. The power of his arm and shoulder against my body, the taut spring of the muscles in his chest. As if he sensed what I was feeling, he shook off my support and stood on his own feet.

“At least you can put weight on your feet,” I said. “That’s a good sign.”

“Are you a medical professional?”

“No.”

“Then your opinion doesn’t count for much at the moment.”

Go to hell, was on the tip of my tongue. But the fog’s chill was making me sniffle. It seemed absurd to attempt a stinging retort with a dripping nose. I swiped it surreptitiously with the sleeve of my jacket.

He walked, limping slightly, to the Harley. “This thing’s supposed to take a corner. That’s the main reason I bought it!” He gave the seat a savage kick. Then he hopped on his nonkicking boot and shook a fist as if in defiance of some bully of a god who particularly had it in for him.

I laughed.

He whirled on me. My laughter froze. The look of fury on his face sent a thrill of alarm through me. I edged backward; I felt at that moment he could murder me without compunction and leave my corpse to be devoured by coyotes and bobcats.

But then, to my astonishment, he grinned. “You’re right. I look like an ass.”

Pilot suddenly came crashing out of the underbrush.

“Is that your mutt?”

“Yes. Though, actually, not mine. He’s a recent addition at the place I’m staying.”

He stared at me, a thought dawning. I forced myself to stare back: deep-set eyes, dark as ink. I was about to introduce myself, but he yanked the goggles back over his eyes and stooped to the handlebar of the bike. “Help me get this up. Grab the other bar. You pull and I’ll push.”

“It’s too heavy.”

“I’ll do the heavy lifting. Just do what you can.”

Obstinately, I didn’t move.

“Please,” he added. He made the word sound like an obscenity.

I took a grudging step forward and grabbed hold of the handlebar with both hands. I tugged it toward me as he lifted his side with a grunt. The bike slowly rose upright.

“Hold it steady,” he said.

It felt like it weighed several tons—it took every ounce of my strength to keep my side up as he straddled the seat. He grasped both bars. Engaged the clutch, cursing in pain as he stomped on the pedal. He glanced at me briefly.

And then, sending up a heavy spray of gravel, the Harley roared off into the enveloping fog.

“You’re welcome, Mr. Rochester!” I shouted into the deepening gloom.

Excerpt from Mrs. Rochester’s Ghost by Lindsay Marcott. Copyright © 2021 by Lindsay Marcott. Published by Thomas & Mercer. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Lindsay Marcott_(c) Kenneth LockerLindsay Marcott is the author of The Producer’s Daughter and six previous novels written as Lindsay Maracotta. Her books have been translated into eleven languages and adapted for cable. She also wrote for the Emmy-nominated HBO series The Hitchhiker and co-produced a number of films. She lives on the coast of California. You can contact the author on her website at https://www.lindsaymarcott.com/.

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Giveaway

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway for one (1) Amazon gift card and one (1) digital copy of Mrs. Rochester’s Ghost by Lindsay Marcott. This contest is being run by PitchLit Publicity Services. The winner will be selected and contacted by PitchLit at the end of the contest period. Void where prohibited.

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2021 Book 250: FORGOTTEN IN DEATH by J. D. Robb

Forgotten In Death, In Death #53, by J. D. Robb
ISBN: 9781250272812 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250272829 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250810625 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781250817662 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B08V236NLL (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08R2KNYVW (Kindle edition)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: September 7, 2021

In the latest novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series, homicide detective Eve Dallas sifts through the wreckage of the past to find a killer.

The body was left in a dumpster like so much trash, the victim a woman of no fixed address, known for offering paper flowers in return for spare change—and for keeping the cops informed of any infractions she witnessed on the street. But the notebook where she scribbled her intel on litterers and other such offenders is nowhere to be found.

Then Eve is summoned away to a nearby building site to view more remains—in this case decades old, adorned with gold jewelry and fine clothing—unearthed by recent construction work. She isn’t happy when she realizes that the scene of the crime belongs to her husband, Roarke—not that it should surprise her, since the Irish billionaire owns a good chunk of New York. Now Eve must enter a complex world of real estate development, family history, shady deals, and shocking secrets to find justice for two women whose lives were thrown away…

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository | Books-A-Million | Bookshop.org | Downpour Audiobook | eBooks | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook | Powell’s | Turn the Page

There are two things I look forward to each Winter and late Summer/Early Fall, and that’s the new releases in the In Death series. (I look forward to a lot of other books as well, but these books are yearly favorites.) Earlier this year, readers got to continue Eve and Roarke’s story with Faithless In Death. Now, Eve and Roarke continue their romance and crime fighting in the latest addition to this series, Forgotten In Death. This book begins, as most do, with a murder. A sweet, homeless woman is found bludgeoned to death on one of Roarke’s construction sites. Known as the “concerned citizen” due to her habit of writing up infractions of those in the neighborhood and reporting the same to the police, she was truly harmless. Eve’s investigation into this murder has barely begun when she is pulled into another murder, also found on a nearby construction site, and eerily reminiscent of the bodies found in the An Didean shelter a few years ago. This body is found with bullet shells, walled up in a basement, and with a fetus. Adding to the mystery, the body has been on the site for at least forty years. It is quite likely that both murder victims would be considered forgettable, but Eve Dallas isn’t your typical police office and no one is ever forgotten on her watch. Will she be able to locate the killers? Will Eve be able to obtain justice for these victims?

It’s easy to think that too much time has passed on some crimes, such as with the walled up body found on one construction site. Or that the deceased woman thrown into the dumpster on another construction site isn’t worth the time or effort of an in-depth investigation since she was homeless. That might be the prevailing attitude of some today and continue into the future, but for those of us that know and love Eve Dallas, Roarke, and friends, we know that there is no such thing as an unworthy victim. Eve Dallas goes all out to find out the whys and whodunit for both murder victims. It doesn’t matter to her that one woman was homeless or that the other crime occurred almost forty years ago. These women are hers now and Eve will not stop until justice prevails.

I could give you specifics about how the investigation is performed or how the two murders intersect (if they, in fact, intersect), but you already know I’m not going to do that. Yes, there are decidedly predictable elements to this story, but all that aside, I found the story credible and engaging. If it had not been for this current migraine series, I probably would have read this one in one sitting. Sadly, it took me took two days simply because I kept having to set this aside due to pain and vision issues. One of the many things I enjoy about this continuing series, is watching the characters grow in their relationships with one another and on their jobs. We didn’t get to see as much of Feeney in this one, but McNab, Delia, Dr. Mira, Nadine, Cher Reo, Harvo (aka Queen of Hair and Fiber), Dr. Garnet DeWinter, Summerset, Dr. Li Morris, Dickie Berenski, and Commander Whitney make reappearances, as do Baxter, Trueheart, Jenkinson, and others from the Homicide squad. I’m eagerly awaiting future developments with Mavis, Leonardo, Bella, and their new additions (both the baby and the house). There are a lot of themes to unpack in this story, including spousal abuse, classicism, affluenza, privilege, and more. Forgotten In Death is a story of two women, one from the past and one from the present day (okay, Eve and Roarke’s present day), who might otherwise be considered disposable and forgotten due to the perceived privilege of wealth and class of others. We know better and yes, justice ultimately prevails. I enjoyed Forgotten in Death and look forward to seeing what happens next in the ongoing saga of Eve Dallas, Roarke, and friends.


 Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. 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.”

Guest Post: Fran Lewis – POPULATION ZERO

Population Zero

by Fran Lewis

August 1-31, 2021 Tour

Hello, book divas and divos. I hope you’ve had a good start to the month of August and found time to get some reading done. Now that it seems like we may be entering another phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, aka “the pandemic that won’t die,” I’m beginning to stockpile reading material. Today, I’m pleased to welcome back author Fran Lewis, with the release of her latest book Population Zero. Ms. Lewis will be talking a little bit about Population Zero and the current pandemic. I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to say about this work of science fiction and follow along with the blog tour to learn more about the book and author. Thank you, Ms. Lewis for returning today, the blog is yours.

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Population Zero is a compilation of different worlds that have no people have no sun, just darkness, scorching desert heat, no sun, or even enclosed in glass.

Would you want to live in any of my worlds?

I invited someone that is no longer alive to come back and experience the world and explain what he endured.

Here is what one person says about the world of devastation and envision yourself living in it.

Each world is different each person explains what the world is like, the environment and allows the reader to reflect on our world today send start appreciating what we have, and embrace life in a more positive way.

With this pandemic, there are so many changes we have to experience including not being able to at times just enjoy the sunshine without having to cover your face. Imagine a world without people and then maybe we will learn to get along better and embrace our differences, enjoy the outdoors, parks, and more. Population Zero is supposed to awaken us to the possibilities of what works without people would look like.

Life is not the same in our present world and by creating the imaginary worlds in my book I hoped to awaken people to the beauty of the forests, the warmth of the sun, and the water that is so precious and vital to our lives. Inviting someone to come back and experience my worlds I hoped would make those in our present one embrace life and the world they live in even more.

I am a reading and writing specialist and I asked some of my students to read this book and they thought it really hit the mark. Some of the pre-release reviews were really on the mark and I hope that with this tour more people will want to read my work.

Walking in the street with my face covered in a mask I often wonder what it would be like to see a smile, a grin and even more to say hello to a neighbor. No one seems happy and yet there are restaurants, movie theaters, and outdoor venues that have a lot of people and I am still not sure whether it is safe to eat inside a crowded restaurant. Population Zero, I hope you will enjoy it.

This book is totally my imagination, but you never know. Thank you for the guest post. Fran Lewis

Synopsis:

Population Zero by Fran Lewis

Imagine a forest so dense and so filled with trees that you cannot see anything but darkness. The smell of the dead leaves, the creatures that lived there, and the stench they created.

Imagine smashed windows and abandoned satellite dishes and blocks of plaster all over the ground.

Imagine… What might the world be like if humans were suddenly to disappear?

In Population Zero by Fran Lewis, we experience several post-human worlds through the eyes of people who were allowed to visit for one day. A world covered in ice, a world in complete darkness, a world where deserts are plentiful, and others…

Get a glimpse of what our planet would look like if humans stopped existing. Get a glimpse of the future.

Book Praise:

“Fran Lewis’s newest offering is a polished, razor-sharp double-edged sword. On one hand, it is reminiscent of the old Twilight Zone series and just as chilling. On the other, it is a poignant reminder of just how precious and fragile human life on this planet truly is. A riveting read.”
— Vincent Zandri, New York Times and USA Today bestselling Thriller and Shamus Award winning author of The Girl Who Wasn’t There and the Dick Moonlight PI series.

Population Zero creatively focuses on the damage being done by COVID-19 as it ravages the human race, and our inability to deal with climate change.”
— Allan Topol, national best selling author of The French Revenge

Book Details:

Genre: Science Fiction
Published by: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: June 26th 2021
Number of Pages: 76
ISBN: 163752868X (ISBN13: 9781637528686)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Fran Lewis

‪Fran worked in the NYC Public Schools as the Reading and Writing Staff Developer for over 36 years. She has three master’s degrees and a PD in Supervision and Administration. Currently, she is a member of Who’s Who of America’s Teachers and Who’s Who of America’s Executives from Cambridge. In addition, she is the author of three children’s books and a fourth that has just been published on Alzheimer’s disease in order to honor her mom and help create more awareness for a cure.‪

Fran is the author of 19 titles and completed by the titled A Daughter’s Promise. Fran has 6 titles in her Faces Behind the Stones series and her magazine is MJ magazine. She was the musical director for shows in her school and ran the school’s newspaper. Fran writes reviews for authors upon request and for several other sites.

Her network if MJ network on Blog Talk Radio. You can also find her reviews on just reviews on WordPress. Her latest titles are Sisters : Two sisters from the Bronx, What If? and Silent Voices in her Faces Behind the Stones series and the present one Population Zero. ‬

Catch Up With Our Author:
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Instagram – @berthatillie49
Twitter – @franellena
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Guest Post: Jason Bovberg – LOSER BABY

Loser Baby by Jason Bovberg Banner

Good day, my bookish peeps. I’m coming off of a week of celebrating my birthday, something I hardly ever celebrate, but turning 60 is a milestone. Needless to say, my mind was all about books and bookish items for the past few days. Hey, book diva here! I think my diva-ness is rubbing off, because my 86-y.o. mother spent more time shopping in a bookstore than I did (okay, maybe it’s genetic and I got it from her!). So back to books and authors, I’ve been thinking about both quite a bit lately. Most authors tell us that they use all of their life experiences and personal encounters as potential ideas for both plots and characters, but what about the settings? Some authors create their towns and others may use their hometowns or towns they visit for settings. Jason Bovberg, author of the newly released Loser Baby, uses his hometown for this book and today he visits and explains why. I hope you’ll enjoy what he has to say, follow the blog tour, and add Loser Baby to your TBR list. Thank you, Mr. Bovberg, for taking time away from your busy writing and publishing schedule to join us today.

Santa Ana Noir

by Jason Bovberg

I’ve heard it said that Santa Ana is the armpit or even the butt hole of Orange County, California. Now, hey, come on, that just isn’t nice. I grew up in and around Santa Ana (mostly around), and I can state unequivocally that—although it has some butt hole qualities—it can be a fascinating, even exciting place. And that’s a dichotomy I wanted to explore in my new book Loser Baby.

Some of my favorite works of art have a powerful sense of place—from Carl Hiaasen’s Florida-based novels, to James Lee Burke’s explorations of New Orleans, to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s recent In the Heights, to Michael Connelly’s Los Angeles crime tales, to Spike Lee’s Brooklyn-bound Do the Right Thing. In my own previous novels, the apocalyptic-horror BLOOD trilogy (consisting of Blood Red, Draw Blood, and Blood Dawn), I went for a vivid setting in my current town of Fort Collins, Colorado, laying waste to the idyllic city. I had a blast with it, and so did local readers. For Loser Baby, I decided on Santa Ana because it seemed to speak exactly to the types of characters I wanted to play with, as well as the time I wanted them to live in.

Santa Ana is the center of diversity in SoCal, dense with Latino, Asian, African American, and Native American populations. Outsiders tend to have preconceived notions of southern California—based on things such as The Real Housewives of Orange County, or Beverly Hills 90210, or The Girls Next Door—as primarily an affluent, white-bread, Republican stronghold (and that’s definitely true of places like Newport Beach). But the largest of the Orange County communities are surprisingly thriving melting pots.

In many ways, cities like Santa Ana (and Huntington Beach and Westminster and Garden Grove and Anaheim) are microcosms of the United States today. Santa Ana reflects the best and the worst of us, and everything in between. There’s a strong sense of multiculturalism, of exhilarating diversity—and yet in other ways people tend to stick to their tribal groups. There can be startling moments of community and a feeling of belonging—and yet age-old traditions of xenophobia and fear can creep into the day-to-day. There’s beauty, and there’s hate, just like the rest of America.

And that makes Santa Ana a perfect setting for a crime story involving one character’s redemption.

Here’s Loser Baby‘s opening:

Smack in the middle of Santa Ana on a Friday night, gang-funk psychedelia, the animal snarl and faint butane odor of nitrous-juiced import cars, the streets undulating and ratcheting like a grungy arcade game—rumble, whoosh, clickety-clack. The city was still new to Jasmine Frank, this sprawling expanse of damp concrete, swaying palms, salty beach sweat, and steaming antifreeze. The japchae and the spicy fish tacos and the pulsating afro grooves, the cackling Chicano rap, the cacophony of indecipherable shouts coming at her along Westminster Boulevard—yes! She got off on the staccato ghetto thrill of it all, closing her eyes, lost in the jagged rhythms, the music and the traffic, crisscrossing like a spastic radio dial. A constantly moving mobile night life.

Right from the start, I wanted to emphasize that exciting diversity, to give a taste of what it’s like to ride along those streets—and then let loose with a wild thriller of a novel that involves multiple characters, a series of edge-of-your-seat misadventures, and a crazy collection of cars and cigarettes and fast-food burgers, and bad decisions.

There’s just something about the people that inhabit Loser Baby that told me they HAD to live in Santa Ana. This is not something that occurred to me after a lot of thinking and consideration—it happened immediately and naturally. When I thought about Jasmine and Jordan, Tommy and Kayla, Mark and Lori, I KNEW they were scraping together a rough-and-tumble existence right there on those streets. But beyond the details of their day-to-day, I wanted the story to comment on that wider perspective.

There’s a lot of anger and dysfunction and violence in Loser Baby, but there’s a lot of humor too. And in the end, there’s some redemption. I hope the same will one day be said about our country.

Loser Baby

by Jason Bovberg

August 1-31, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Loser Baby by Jason Bovberg

Jasmine Frank is missing.

It’s a humid summer morning in Santa Ana, California, and her twin brother Jordan abruptly finds himself on a desperate search—fearing the worst. The party last night got way out of hand, and his brain is still chemically fried. But this is Jasmine’s story. She’s awakened far from home to her own mystery: She’s unwittingly stolen something from the most dangerous person she’s ever known. Tommy Strafe. And now Tommy is raging through the sunbaked streets, gathering illicit forces to seek brutal retribution. But all Jasmine really wants is to get out of Orange County, escape her past, and find a measure of redemption.

Loser Baby is a propulsive blast through the streets of the SoCal melting pot, a breakneck dark-comic neo-noir populated by misfits and malefactors, criminals and innocents, down-and-outers and spun-out dreamers. Prepare yourself for an adrenaline rush of rat-a-tat he-said-she-said narrative twists—all in service of a giddily slam-bang shock ending.


Loser Baby

by Jason Bovberg

August 1-31, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Loser Baby by Jason Bovberg

Jasmine Frank is missing.

It’s a humid summer morning in Santa Ana, California, and her twin brother Jordan abruptly finds himself on a desperate search—fearing the worst. The party last night got way out of hand, and his brain is still chemically fried. But this is Jasmine’s story. She’s awakened far from home to her own mystery: She’s unwittingly stolen something from the most dangerous person she’s ever known. Tommy Strafe. And now Tommy is raging through the sunbaked streets, gathering illicit forces to seek brutal retribution. But all Jasmine really wants is to get out of Orange County, escape her past, and find a measure of redemption.

Loser Baby is a propulsive blast through the streets of the SoCal melting pot, a breakneck dark-comic neo-noir populated by misfits and malefactors, criminals and innocents, down-and-outers and spun-out dreamers. Prepare yourself for an adrenaline rush of rat-a-tat he-said-she-said narrative twists—all in service of a giddily slam-bang shock ending.

Book Praise:

“Jason Bovberg’s Loser Baby is a beautiful noir novel for the 21st century! It’s a wild, frantic ride through shady Southern California, a desperate drug-fueled search for a girl who only wants to escape a sordid life.”
—Scott Phillips, author of THE ICE HARVEST and THAT LEFT TURN AT ALBUQUERQUE

Loser Baby is the real deal for hardcore crime fiction fans. This one grinds with the engine over the red line all the way. Hang on tight!”
—Eric Beetner, author of ALL THE WAY DOWN

Loser Baby is one cool book! Bovberg writes characters who get into your head and under your skin. You won’t shake this one easily: It’ll stay with you long after you read it!”
Terrill Lee Lankford, author of SHOOTERS and ANGRY MOON

“Jason Bovberg’s Loser Baby is a high-octane thriller that moves like greased lightning! The beauty of this book is its motley collection of despicable characters whom you come to love by the end. Loser Baby is Bovberg’s greatest book and one of the best of the year.”
—Gary Phillips, author of BLOOD AND ASPHALT and BIRDS OF FIRE

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense
Published by: Dark Highway Press
Publication Date: August 2nd 2021
Number of Pages: 322
ISBN: 9780966262988
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Jason Bovberg

Jason Bovberg is the author of the Blood trilogy—Blood Red, Draw Blood, and Blood Dawn—as well as The Naked Dame, a throwback pulp noir novel. His forthcoming books include Tessa Goes Down, a border noir, and A Small Poisonous Act, a suburban crime novel. He is editor/publisher of Dark Highway Press, which published the controversial, erotic fairy tale Santa Steps Out and the weird western anthology Skull Full of Spurs.

He lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with his wife Barb, his daughters Harper and Sophie, and his canines Rocky and Rango. You can find him online at www.jasonbovberg.com.

Catch Up With Our Author:
JasonBovberg.com
Goodreads
BookBub
Instagram – @jasonbovbergauthor
Twitter – @JasonBovberg
Facebook – @CriminalVintage

Tour Participants:

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Giveaway:

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jason Bovberg. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs August 1st through September 2, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Guest Post/Review by Savannah Cordova of MEXICAN GOTHIC by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Good day, book people. We’ve made it to the end of another month, yay! I don’t know about you, but I’ve been spending my days either reading or thinking about what I should read next from my alarmingly huge TBR list. (I know, if I stopped re-reading, I might actually be able to whittle down the TBR list. Hey, let’s not get crazy people!) While I ponder what to read next and get ready to celebrate my youngest brother’s birthday (our birthdays are exactly one week apart minus a bunch of years), I’m pleased to welcome a guest writer/reviewer today. Please help me welcome Savannah Cordova as she provides us a with her review of Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Thank you, Savannah for stopping by today and providing us this review. I can’t wait to see what your thoughts are on this book.

MEXICAN GOTHIC - SMGarciaMexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
ISBN: 9780525620808 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780525620792 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780593213865 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B07YK1K1YK (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B082TKH2K7 (Audible audiobook)
Release Date: June 15, 2021 (Paperback edition)
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Genre: Fiction | Historical Fiction | Horror | Science Fiction & Fantasy

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemí’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

 

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Mexican Gothic: A Bold Postcolonial Promise That Doesn’t Quite Come Through

Creepy gothic mansion? Check.
Page-turning, thrilling plot? Check.
Confident female protagonist? Check.
Stayed up late to finish it? Cheeeeck.

And yet, for a book that features so many of my favorite literary ingredients, Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic fell short of my expectations. Before we examine why, let’s talk about the book’s premise.

Mexican Gothic begins in Mexico, 1950. Noemí Taboada and her father have just received a disturbing letter from Noemí’s cousin Catalina, who has recently married an Englishman, Virgil Doyle, and gone to live in his family’s mansion in the Mexican mountains. Urged by her father, Noemí heads to the mysterious old house to assess her cousin’s health, understand what prompted her letter, and rescue her if necessary.

Certain key strengths immediately stand out in this novel: the setting of the story, for example, is immaculately realized, rich in detail, and highly immersive in its creepy atmosphere. Similarly, it’s hard not to appreciate the tightly controlled story structure Moreno-Garcia employs. What at first appears to be a realist narrative gradually builds suspense through quietly observed bizarre moments, gaining seriously page-turning momentum and reaching a climax where — if you’ll pardon my language — shit really hits the fan.

Much like a murder mystery, it’s impossible to resist the draw of the book once it gets going, and that takes real skill to accomplish. More than that, the thriller dimension of this book didn’t feel cheaply done, like the author had just thrown in a few random ideas to shock the reader; rather, it felt like a steady, deliberate effort that was successfully horrifying (I won’t give specifics to avoid spoilers, but consider this your trigger warning for body horror and sexual assault).

Returning to the premise of the novel, Mexican Gothic is based on a genuinely cool, exciting concept. Unlike the Gothic classics it evokes (Jane Eyre, Rebecca, and The Yellow Wallpaper all lurk in the shadows), it is written from a postcolonial perspective, and dares to tackle things that Jane Eyre, for example, famously overlooks (though perhaps Moreno-Garcia was inspired by Wide Sargasso Sea). Colorism, racism, and eugenics all come into play in the clashes between Noemí and the Doyle family. Unfortunately, this is where my qualms with the novel begin.

I don’t think I’m giving too much away to say that near its resolution, Mexican Gothic takes a sharp turn toward fantasy, leaving most of its postcolonial dimensions behind — which seemed a shame. The fantasy elements, in contrast to the ideas introduced earlier in the novel, felt rushed and vague, filling me with all sorts of last-minute questions about the world-building and how things worked. So while the novel swept me along with the force of a powerful wave, I did feel a bit like the ending dropped me flat on my back.

Another frustrating thing about this book was its somewhat lazy characterization, especially in comparison to the vivid realization of the setting. I found out an awful lot about Noemí’s fashion choices, for example, but not so much about why she likes what she likes or why she behaves the way she behaves. Similarly, the entire Doyle family, and Catalina, struck me as shockingly flat characters, whose personalities aren’t explored in much depth. There’s a reason the “show, don’t tell” rule exists, and Mexican Gothic is not the book to provide an exception.

Style and dialogue were another distracting issue in this novel. Inconsistently shifting between vaguely dated, formal-sounding language to contemporary informal speech (e.g. Noemí exclaiming “what the fuck?”), the novel failed to convince me that it was set in the mid-century. Instead, it comes across as temporally insecure and adrift between time periods.

In summary, this was a book I wanted to enjoy, and one I read with hungry enthusiasm, but which didn’t quite meet my (admittedly high) expectations. When style is among a book’s weaknesses, it becomes frustrating to read; it’s like you’re persisting in spite of your various issues with the language.

That said, I’d still recommend this book to readers of creepy, thrilling, or suspenseful fiction who don’t mind the occasional stylistic lapse — precisely because it’s a novel that still succeeds in building tension, creeping you out, and thrilling you out to an impressive degree.


Meet the Reviewer

Savannah Cordova headshot newSavannah Cordova is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that helps authors self-publish their books by connecting them with the world’s best publishing professionals — and helps aspiring authors with their creative writing so they can get there. In her spare time, Savannah enjoys reading contemporary fiction and low fantasy, as well as writing the occasional short story.