Book Showcase: THE RESURRECTION OF FULGENCIO RAMIREZ by Rudy Ruiz

THE RESURRECTION OF FULGENCIO RAMIREZ - RRuiz

The Resurrection of Fulgencio Ramirez by Rudy Ruiz
ISBN: 9781982604615 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781665088121 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781982604639 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781982604271 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781982604233 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B086FN3RZR (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B085YGFRZR (Audible audiobook)
Release Date: October 12, 2021 (paperback release)
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Genre: Fiction | Historical Fiction | Magical Realism | Fantasy | Latino Literature

In the 1950s, tensions remain high in the border town of La Frontera. Penny loafers and sneakers clash with boots and huaraches. Bowling shirts and leather jackets compete with guayaberas. Convertibles fend with motorcycles. Yet amidst the discord, young love blooms at first sight between Fulgencio Ramirez, the son of impoverished immigrants, and Carolina Mendelssohn, the local pharmacist’s daughter. But as they’ll soon find out, their bonds will be undone by a force more powerful than they could have known.

Thirty years after their first fateful encounter, Fulgencio Ramirez, RPh, is conducting his daily ritual of reading the local obituaries in his cramped pharmacy office. After nearly a quarter of a century of waiting, Fulgencio sees the news he’s been hoping for: his nemesis, the husband of Carolina Mendelssohn, has died.

A work of magical realism, The Resurrection of Fulgencio Ramirez weaves together the past and present as Fulgencio strives to succeed in America, break a mystical family curse, and win back Carolina’s love after their doomed youthful romance. Through enchanting language and meditations about the porous nature of borders—cultural, geographic, and otherworldly—The Resurrection of Fulgencio Ramirez offers a vision of how the past has divided us, and how the future could unite us.

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

1986

ONE

The obituaries were always the first thing he turned to in the newspaper. He started doing it the day he learned she’d married another man. There in the still cool blue of the breaking dawn, in the shadowy, unlit recesses of his dank and dusty old drugstore, he sat high behind the elevated counter, perched on the ripped vinyl cushion of an old stool. He wiped his black horn-rimmed reading glasses on his white guayabera. First the left lens. Then the right. He plopped them firmly on the prominent arch of his hawk-like nose. As was his habit, one he learned from his grandfather (God bless his soul), he licked his left index finger religiously before turning each page. Although he knew from experience that the obituary section would be buried in the back, he still worked his way slowly through the town rag. World news, the national scene, sports: all he had lost interest in about twenty-five years earlier. The feeling of suspense coiled tightly in his chest, his heart beating a little harder as he paged to the last section, the one with the obituaries at the end. But still, he flipped methodically through the broad sheets. Floods, murders, elections: All these were irrelevant to him. All that mattered was the tiny newsprint on the last page, but still he flipped through . . . just in case the death he was waiting for had miraculously made the headlines.

For years he had wondered—sitting there beyond the fortress-like barrier of the pharmacy counter, in the shadows of the sun rising over the gleaming dome of Market Square—how the news would come. Would the man die suddenly of a massive heart attack? Would he be struck by one of the city buses that careened past his storefront day after day? Or would it come slowly? Would cancer or liver disease silently suck the life from his withering body? He did, after all, have a reputation for drinking tequila and smoking cigarettes of the filterless kind.

Or would he be killed purposefully by another man, a man bearing a grudge, perhaps? The husband of one of his jilted lovers, one of his putas or queridas. In the end it wouldn’t matter how or why. All that mattered was when. And when the time came, he had told himself for years, he would not shed a tear for the man he once called his friend, for the boy he once ran with on the streets of La Frontera. No señor. Miguel Rodriguez Esparza deserved whatever pain the blessed Virgen de Guadalupe saw fit to send his way. He was a two-faced traitor. He had been a pampered little pretty boy his entire life. He had lied and cheated to steal his love when their youth was in full bloom, when their blood was still on fire for this adventure he once thought was life. And then he had betrayed the most holy of sacraments, his own ill-fated and ill-conceived marriage, with his womanizing and his gambling and his never-ending hypocrisy. Even though over the multitude of squandered years, he had come to realize that Miguelito was not solely to blame for his suffering, he still welcomed his old friend’s death like the survivor of a heinous crime awaiting the final verdict and punishment of his or her assailant. No mercy for Miguel, the opportunist who had profited from—and cultivated—his misfortune. No, no señor. He doubted many tears would be shed at all when the twenty-two stinking letters in Miguelito’s putrid name finally dried in black ink on the obituary page. Twenty-two: “M-i-g-u-e-l R-o-d-r-i-g-u-e-z E-s-p-a-r-z-a.”

He lifted the penultimate page in the section to reveal his destination.

“Obituaries,” the bold black letters sprawled across the top. Some scattered pictures. More than usual for a Wednesday.

“Maria de la Luz Villarreal, dead at the age of eighty-three . . .” La Señora Villearreal, hmm, better send flowers. That woman had been special, hadn’t she?

“Dagoberto ‘Beto’ Treviño, dead at the age of fifty-five . . .” It was about time, the quack had been stealing the nest eggs from viejitas for years, long after he forgot whatever it was he learned in that medical school down in Panama. Viejo sinvergüenza. There was no question where he was headed.

“José Pescador . . . dead at the age of seventeen . . .” Dios mio, his thick, black brows furrowed at the thought. Why so many dead teenagers in this once sleepy town? But he knew the answer all too well. It shared a dirty five-letter name with the legitimate versions sitting in bottles on the shelves right behind him. Las drogas. Drugs. No self-respecting pharmacist called himself a druggist anymore.

And then . . . there, below the pregnant teen mother killed by her enraged boyfriend (of course, they never gave the true story in the paper, but over the years he had learned how to read between the lines), and right above Doña Eufemia Clotilde de la Paz San Cristóbal, was an almost pathetic entry. One that he might have missed on any other day were it not for a bright reflection of the morning light bouncing off a passing bus, hitting his pharmacy degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and flashing ephemerally over a paragraph simply starved for words. His eyes blurred in disbelief at the sight of the name, and his left hand clutched hard at his chest as he leaned into the paper to stumble over the phrases. “Dead at the age of forty-six. Survived by his wife.” No children. No pallbearers. His hands quivered as the paper slipped from his fingers, floating like a parachute toward his feet. No picture. No excuses. No glory. Just twenty-two letters sitting on the floor of the funereal drugstore. His glasses cracked when they fell on the tile.

Dazed, he searched his stunned mind for what to do next. For the first time in what seemed like forever, he would vary from his routine. There was no time to line up a relief pharmacist. He simply had to close the store for the day. His daily parade of viejitos and charity cases would no doubt be surprised by his absence. He had kept that store open religiously for two dozen years since he roared back into town with his papelito in hand. His little paper. The diploma, which kept vigil behind the counter, hung on the side of a shelf. Work was all he had known. Filling prescriptions. Helping the needy. Dispensing herbs when the Medicaid gave out. And now he stood mute and dumbfounded, gawking at himself—as if he were contemplating a complete stranger—in the small mirror over the porcelain pedestal sink in the corner. He watched himself lower his tan Stetson hat over his wavy, black mane. His hazel eyes squinted as he straightened out his thick mustache. His image passed like a translucent ghost across the glass pane of his storefront door swinging shut. Bus brakes exhaled their squeaking lament. And the doors to City Hall creaked open across the street as the beggars and drunks skulked into the ancient alleyways. In his khaki overcoat and matching hat, he stepped through the mist of his own breath like a smoldering beast rekindled and unleashed on that crisp December morning. He moved with an elegant determination past merchants sweeping their doorsteps. Their puzzled faces turned to follow him. Doing the mental math, it dawned on him that this morning marked twenty-five years since the day he lost her. And now, she was free again.

Turning the corner, Fulgencio noted the presence of Maria de la Luz Villarreal. Appearing sixty years younger than in her obituary photo, she accompanied her weeping daughter on a wrought iron bench beneath the Spanish arches of Market Square. Weighing whether to pay his respects, he decided it was more respectful to allow them time to grieve.

As he strode by, however, he overheard her tell her daughter, “There goes Don Fulgencio Ramirez . . . que distinto se ve . . .”

“How’s that, Mamá ? How does he look different?” She dabbed mournfully at her mascara-streaked eyes with an embroidered handkerchief.

“Maybe the maldición is finally lifting,” La Señora Villareal whispered reverentially. “He looks . . . pues . . . He seems . . . alive.”

Excerpt from The Resurrection of Fulgencio Ramirez by Rudy Ruiz.
Copyright © 2020 by Rudy Ruiz. Published by Blackstone Publishing. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Author Photo_Rudy Ruiz

Rudy Ruiz is a writer of literary fiction. A native of the U.S.-Mexico border, his earliest works were published at Harvard, where he studied literature, creative writing, government and public policy, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Seven for the Revolution was Ruiz’s fiction debut. The collection of short stories won four International Latino Book Awards. Ruiz’s short fiction has appeared in literary journals including BorderSenses, The Ninth Letter, New Texas, and the Notre Dame Review. In 2017, Rudy Ruiz was awarded the Gulf Coast Prize in Fiction. In 2020, Ruiz was a finalist for both the Texas Institute of Letters’ Best Short Story Award as well as the Texas Observer’s annual Short Story Contest.

In 2020, Blackstone Publishing released Ruiz’s novel, The Resurrection of Fulgencio Ramirez. The novel received critical acclaim and was named one of the “Top 10 Best First Novels of 2020” by the American Library Association’s Booklist. The novel was long-listed for the Reading the West Awards and was a finalist for the Western Writers of America’s Spur Award for Best Contemporary Novel.

Connect with the author via: Goodreads | Twitter | Website
This excerpt was brought to you by Books Forward PR

2021 Book 283: THE VANISHED DAYS by Susanna Kearsley

The Vanished Days, The Scottish Series, by Susanna Kearsley
ISBN-10: 1492650161 (paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781492650164 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781728249582 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781492650171 (ebook)
ASIN: B08XM9QJ6T (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Release Date: October 5, 2021

I’ve loved every one of Susanna’s books! She has bedrock research and a butterfly’s delicate touch with characters–sure recipe for historical fiction that sucks you in and won’t let go!–DIANA GABALDON, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Outlander

From international bestselling author Susanna Kearsley comes a historical tale of intrigue and revolution in Scotland, where the exile of King James brought plots, machinations, suspicion and untold bravery to light. An investigation of a young widow’s secrets by a man who’s far from objective, leads to a multi-layered tale of adventure, endurance, romance…and the courage to hope.

In the autumn of 1707, old enemies from the Highlands to the Borders are finding common ground as they join to protest the new Union with England. At the same time, the French are preparing to launch an invasion to bring the young exiled Jacobite king back to Scotland to reclaim his throne, and in Edinburgh the streets are filled with discontent and danger.

Queen Anne’s commissioners, seeking to calm the situation, have begun paying out money sent up from London to settle the losses and wages owed to those Scots who took part in the disastrous Darien expedition eight years earlier–an ill-fated venture that left Scotland all but bankrupt.

When the young widow of a Darien sailor comes forward to collect her husband’s wages, her claim is challenged. One of the men assigned to investigate has only days to decide if she’s honest, or if his own feelings are blinding him to the truth.

The Vanished Days is a prequel and companion novel to The Winter Sea, with action that overlaps some of the action in that book. The Vanished Days goes back in time to the 1680s and introduces the reader to the Moray and Graeme families.

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

Imagine Scotland in the late 1600s and early 1700s. Now imagine being a young girl, Lilias “Lily” Aitcheson, whose parents have both died and you’ve been sent to work for an area family by her stepmother (no, she’s not an evil stepmother, she’s just struggling to survive with two young children at home). Now imagine that this girl has spent a number of years being treated as an equal to this family’s daughter, but when she hits puberty, the man she’s thought of as a surrogate father makes untoward advances and gives her extra money. This child has grown up hearing about women who take money for sex and these women aren’t treated well by society. The child’s only recourse, or so she feels, is to runaway. She is taken in by another family in a nearby town, but this household is just as corrupt but in a different way. The “father” expects his “children” to participate in various criminal enterprises and the “wife” is a woman who takes money for sex. Lily has a deep fondness for her adoptive brothers and mother, so she makes do of a bad situation. Years later, Lily is reported to be the widow of one James Graeme, is attempting to claim his wages, but the marriage license is suspect. As a favor to a friend, Sergeant Williamson and others are tasked with investigating the claim of this widow. Is it possible for this investigation to uncover the truth considering the “witnesses” to the marriage license are all deceased? Is it possible for the investigation to continue given that Sergeant Williamson has a marked attraction for the lovely widow? Will Lily be branded a liar and a possible forger?

I’ve read everything written by Susanna Kearsley and was quite happy when given the opportunity to read The Vanished Days. I love her incorporation of history with the story (I’ve learned quite a bit about the Jacobites from her books). The characters are always intriguing and realistically flawed in some way. It doesn’t seem to matter that I’m reading about fictional characters from 300 years ago, I’m invested in their lives and everything that is occurring within the story. This book was no exception. I particularly enjoyed the fact that the story was narrated from a male character’s perspective. The Vanished Days includes tidbits from American as well as Scottish history. There seem to be multiple story lines happening and it isn’t until the very end that everything becomes clear and the twist is revealed (and it’s a great twist – you’ll have to read the book to discover more). This story deals with politics, treason, crime, child labor, child abuse (in the form of molestation and forced participation in criminal enterprises), emotional abuse, romance, how far one is willing to go to protect loved ones, regrets over days past, and more. One theme that seems to be prevalent is that family isn’t always the one we’re born into but the one we make for ourselves. For those of you that have read anything by Susanna Kearsley in the past, I’m sure this book is already on your TBR list. For those of you that enjoy historical fiction, I suggest you put this on your TBR list ASAP. For those of you that aren’t sure about historical fiction, I suggest you grab a copy of The Vanished Days as well as the sequel The Winter Sea. Together or solo, these books make for great reading. Personally, I can’t wait to reread both The Vanished Days and The Winter Sea. I hope you’ll enjoy reading The Vanished Days as much as I did.

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.”

Book Showcase: THE MATCHMAKER’S LONELY HEART by Nancy Campbell Allen

THE MATCHMAKER'S LONELY HEART Blog Tour banner featuring the book cover on the right, book cover features a Victorian female in a jacketed suit, wearing a hat and using a parasol as a walking stick and a Victorian male in a three-piece suit, wearing a bowler hat and carrying a walking stick; both are facing forward and the cover appears to be a spoof of a Victorian newspaper, the words THE MATCHMAKER'S LONELY HEART appears between the female and male in decorative lettering, underneath the title is the name of the author, Nancy Campbell Allan.

The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart by Nancy Campbell Allen
ISBN: 9781629729275 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781649330284 (ebook)
ASIN: B09FCF33R7 (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B094YR2Z2X (Audible audiobook)
Release Date: September 7, 2021
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Genre: Fiction | Historical Romance | Historical Mystery | Inspirational Fiction

The Matchmakers Lonley Heart by Nancy Campbell Allen 2021

London, 1885

Amelie Hampton is a hopeless romantic, which makes her the perfect columnist to answer lonely heart letters in The Marriage Gazette. When Amelie plays matchmaker with two anonymous lonely hearts, she also decides to secretly observe the couple’s blind date. To her surprise, the man who appears for the rendezvous is Harold Radcliffe―a grieving widower and a member of Amelie’s book club.

Police detective Michael Baker has been struggling ever since his best friend and brother-in-law died in the line of fire. Because he knows the dangers of his job, he has vowed never to marry and subject a wife and family to the uncertainty of his profession. But when he meets Miss Hampton, he is captured by her innocence, beauty, and her quick mind.

When a woman’s body is pulled from the river, Michael suspects the woman’s husband―Harold Radcliffe―of foul play. Amelie refuses to believe that Harold is capable of such violence but agrees to help, imagining it will be like one of her favorite mystery novels. Her social connections and clever observations prove an asset to the case, and Amelie is determined to prove Mr. Radcliffe’s innocence. But the more time Amelie and Michael spend together, the more they trust each other, and the more they realize they are a good team, maybe the perfect match.

They also realize that Mr. Radcliffe is hiding more than one secret, and when his attention turns toward Amelie, Michael knows he must put an end to this case before the woman he loves comes to harm.

 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 3: pp. 11-14

 

Michael leaned against his desk as he fastened his cuffs. He looked at the empty desk and hoped he would do his friend proud, that he would reach the end of his life knowing he had carried Stanley’s responsibilities to the very last.

Stanley had been the lighter of the two of them, the hap-pier. He’d always teased Michael for being too serious, and he’d been one of the few who made him truly laugh. Michael’s serious nature had settled in with a vengeance after Stanley died, and while he was aware of it, he was at a loss about how to fix it. He wasn’t sure he wanted it to be fixed. If he kept the lightness at bay, the darkness wasn’t nearly so noticeable when it descended.

As he straightened and shrugged into his jacket, he looked at the open file on his desk with Nathaniel Winston’s sketch inside. After hours of work, Michael believed the victim’s name was Marie Verite Radcliffe; her husband had reported her missing the day before. When Winston arrived, the two of them would go to the address provided and speak with Mr. Radcliffe. They would show him a photograph of the deceased woman that had been taken earlier at the morgue and then quickly developed. He would watch the man’s reaction and gauge the showing of shock and grief. He hoped it would be genuine. Everyone grieved differently, but sometimes . . . sometimes it rang false, and Michael simply knew.

He heard Winston’s chuckle in the outer room and glanced up to see him through the glass in the door. Michael had been irrationally resentful when Winston transferred from another division to fill the vacancy left by Stanley’s death. But, while the bond with Winston would never be the same as the one he’d had with Stanley, they got on well, and Winston had been wise enough to ease his way into the department with subtlety.

Winston entered the office and nodded. “Quite the crowd out there today.”

“Indeed. Not so strange for a Friday, however.”

Winston started to shrug out of his greatcoat but paused, motioning toward the paperwork on Michael’s desk. “The new victim’s file?”

“Yes. Not much in it, but I believe we might have a name. Have you time for a visit?”

“Absolutely.” He settled his greatcoat back on his shoulders with a smile. “Have we received word from the coroner’s office?”

“Just the photo of the deceased taken this morning. I believe Neville is beginning his examination. Which gives us time to call on”—Michael consulted the file with the husband’s in-formation—”Mr. Harold Radcliffe, solicitor.” He donned his coat and hat and gathered the slim file in one hand.

As they crossed through the common area, he glanced over at the division director’s office. John Ellis was a shrewd and exacting man in his mid-thirties. He was also the youngest Investigative Director of record and had proven himself worthy of the job, despite the naysayers who’d suggested his position was only because of the far-reaching influence of his titled and prominent father. Behind the glass in his door, Director Ellis was playing host to a pair of minor dignities from Paris.

Winston gave Michael a grin as they passed. “Third consecutive day the director has performed the duties of a diplomat. I see the commissioner has delegated his responsibilities beautifully.”

“They arrived for their appointment thirty minutes early.” Michael pushed the door open, and they stepped out into a drizzly rain. “We’re sure to hear the details later.”

“I certainly hope so. I’ve an aunt who writes romantic novels, and she is ever looking for fresh anecdotes regarding the prestigious and well-to-do.”

They hurried through the rain to a CID carriage, which was different than customary cabs only in the discreet lettering on the side of its otherwise bland appearance. Michael gave the driver the address, and he and Winston settled in for the short ride.

“Bloomsbury, is it?” Winston said. “Respectable, upper middle class—one might think such folk are immune to disasters such as this.”

“We both know disasters do not favor one over another. Our work might be a sight simpler if death restricted itself to one class.”

They rode in silence for a time until Winston spoke again. “I must ask, and hope I do not irritate you with it, but some of the lads at the Yard mentioned your undercover assignment last year. From what I could gather, you played the part of a tailor very well.” Winston’s lips twitched. “A noble enough profession, to be sure, but I’d have thought a cover as a pugilist, perhaps, might have been more readily convincing.”

Michael smiled. “Perhaps my secret personae shall be written in future policing manuals and held up as a shining example.” He sighed. “The long and short of it is my mother was a seamstress and my father was a constable. He died when I was young, and although my mother was accomplished, she was often behind on orders and needed help. I learned quickly.”

Excerpt from The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart by Nancy Campbell Allen. Copyright © 2021 by Nancy Campbell Allen. Published by Shadow Mountain Publishing. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

Advance Praise

“Allen pairs a matchmaker and a detective in this charming Victorian romance. Allen expertly combines mystery and romance into a fast-paced tale complete with plenty of surprises and a central relationship founded on mutual admiration and respect. Readers are sure to appreciate the strong, well-shaded heroine and twisty plot.” —Publishers Weekly

 

“Allen’s chaste tale of Victorian romantic suspense will also appeal to historical mystery readers, and it would be great for mother-and-daughter reads. This has great appeal for teens who like historical fiction laced with mystery and romance.” —Booklist

 

“I was immediately drawn into the characters’ lives and enjoyed the unraveling of the mystery and the development of the romance.” —Mystery and Suspense Magazine

Meet the Author

Nancy Campbell Allen is the author of fifteen published novels and numerous novellas, which span genres from contemporary romantic suspense to historical fiction. In 2005, her work won the Utah Best of State award, and she received a Whitney Award for My Fair Gentleman. She has presented at numerous writing conferences and events since her first book was released in 1999. Nancy received a BS in Elementary Education from Weber State University. She loves to read, write, travel, and research and enjoys spending time laughing with family and friends. She is married and the mother of three children.

Connect with the author at:
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Virtual Book Tour

Join the virtual book tour of The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart, Nancy Campbell Allen’s highly acclaimed historical novel, September 6-19, 2021. Thirty popular online 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

Sept 06 Timeless Novels (Review)

Sept 07 The Book Diva Reads (Excerpt)

Sept 07 Wishful Endings (Review)

Sept 08 Robin Loves Reading (Review)

Sept 08 A Darn Good Read (Review)

Sept 08 Storeybook Reviews (Spotlight)

Sept 08 Austenesque Reviews (Review)

Sept 09 Bookfoolery (Review)

Sept 09 The Lit Bitch (Excerpt)

Sept 10 The Bluestocking (Review)

Sept 10 Bookworm Lisa (Review)

Sept 10 The Silver Petticoat Review (Review)

Sept 11 Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina (Review)

Sept 11 My Bookish Bliss (Review)

Sept 11 Nurse Bookie (Review)

Sept 12 The Bibliophile Files (Review)

Sept 12 My Jane Austen Book Club (Spotlight)

Sept 13 Heidi Reads (Excerpt)

Sept 13 Reading with Emily (Review)

Sept 13 Our Book Confessions (Review)

Sept 14 Rosanne E. Lortz (Review)

Sept 14 Laura’s Reviews (Review)

Sept 14 Beauty in the Binding (Spotlight)

Sept 15 All-of-a-Kind Mom (Review)

Sept 15 Gwendalyn’s Books (Review)

Sept 15 Life of Literature (Review)

Sept 16 From Pemberley to Milton  (Review)

Sept 16 Probably at the Library (Spotlight)

Sept 17 Greenish Bookshelf (Review)

Sept 17 Relz Reviewz (Review)

Sept 18 Novel Kicks (Review)

Sept 19 Historical Fiction with Spirit (Excerpt)

 

This excerpt and virtual book tour brought to you by AustenProse

Book Spotlight: THE SLOW MARCH OF LIGHT by Heather B. Moore

THE SLOW MARCH OF LIGHT by Heather B. Moore

The Slow March of Light by Heather B. Moore
ISBN: 9781629729282 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781649330307 (ebook)
ASIN: B09CJLPT2D (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Release Date: September 7, 2021
Genre: Fiction | Historical Fiction

 
 Sometimes all you have is hope.

In the summer of 1961, a wall of barbed wire goes up quickly in the dead of night, officially dividing Berlin. Aware of the many whose families have been divided, Luisa joins a secret spy network, risking her life to help East Germans escape across the Berlin Wall and into the West.

Bob Inama, a soldier in the US Army, is stationed in West Germany. He’s glad to be fluent in German, especially after meeting Luisa Voigt at a church social. As they spend time together, they form a close connection. But when Bob receives classified orders to leave for undercover work immediately, he doesn’t get the chance to say goodbye.

With a fake identity, Bob’s special assignment is to be a spy embedded in East Germany, identifying possible targets for the US military. But Soviet and East German spies, the secret police, and Stasi informants are everywhere, and the danger of being caught and sent to a brutal East German prison lurks on every corner.

Best-selling author Heather B. Moore masterfully alternates the stories of Bob and Luisa, capturing the human drama unique to Cold War Germany as well as the courage and the resilience of the human spirit.

Advance Praise:

“Moore conveys extensive historical knowledge without sacrificing the emotional impact of the stories of two protagonists whose Christian faith helps them survive and make a difference in the face of epic adversity.” —Booklist

 

“Outstanding novel is a harrowing account based around actual events. The author chillingly and graphically captures daily existence where the controlling political party, national security apparatus, and media work together to crush all dissent. A timely and cautionary tale. My highest recommendation.” — Historical Novel Society 

Meet The Author

Heather B. Moore is a USA Today best-selling and award-winning author of more than seventy publications. She has lived on both the east and west coasts of the United States, including Hawaii, and attended school abroad including the Cairo American College in Egypt, and the Anglican School of Jerusalem in Israel. She loves to learn about history and is passionate about historical research.

For author interview requests, please contact Callie Hansen at chansen@shadowmountain.com.

Connect with the Author:  Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Website 

Get your Launch Bundle Swag

Help Heather B. Moore get her latest novel, The Slow March of Light, to hit the New York Times best-seller list by purchasing a copy between September 6-11.

Everyone who submits a copy of their receipt and fills out this form during the week of September 6-11 will receive The Slow March of Light – Swag Bundle*.

This spotlight and blog tour brought to you by Shadow Mountain Publishing

 

Book Spotlight: A SEASIDE SUMMER by Josi S. Kilpack, Martha Keyes, & Heather B. Moore

Virtual Book Tour Banner for A SEASIDE SUMMER by Josi S. Kilpack, Martha Keyes, and Heather B. Moore; book tour August 23rd - September 19th; "Summer on the seaside...A perfect place for romance." Book cover features a seaside and a women dressed in a green Regency dress, wearing elbow length gloves holding a lace parasol looking out at the sea.

A Seaside Summer, #17 in the Timeless Regency Collection, by Josi S. Kilpack, Martha Keyes, and Mirror Press LLC
Release Date: August 24, 2021
Genre: Fiction | Historical Romance | Regency Romance | Inspirational Fiction

Summer on the seaside . . . a perfect place for romance.

Join us for three novellas in one collection:

The New Countess by Josi S. Kilpack

Diane knows why the earl asked her to marry him; he needed a mother for his daughter, an heir for his title, and a hostess to assist with his position in Parliament. With two sons of her own, and no security to speak of, she never thought twice about accepting his proposal. Summering at his holiday cottage at the sea was meant to be a reward for a busy first year as the new countess, and a time for her to rest before their baby is born. She is expecting lazy days on the beach with the children, simple meals, and keeping her own schedule. When the earl surprises her with a visit, she does her best not to resent the intrusion. When she learns that he came for the sole purpose of being with her and getting to know her better, she realizes that perhaps this marriage can be more than she expected. Is she ready for him to know her and love her and explore this new possibility together? She wants to be, but it is not an easy thing to let go of expectations and open up to an entirely new way of life.

Mishaps and Memories by Martha Keyes

Judith Jardine’s one chance at a brilliant match is doomed from the start when she is ignored and then mocked by the ton’s most sought-after gentleman. Under a gloomy cloud of failure, Judith is exiled to a seaside cottage to spend the summer helping her sister—and living a life far below the one she experienced for her week in Brighton. When she discovers the man responsible for her misfortune unconscious on the beach, she heeds her better impulses and has him brought to the cottage to be seen to. But James Carlisle has no recollection of who he is, what happened to him, or how he has wronged her, and Judith sees the opportunity to teach him a valuable lesson—unless the deception and her feelings get the best of her first.

Moonlight Summer by Heather B. Moore

Oscar Rosewell’s life is not lacking in many things even though he lives on the fringes of society due to his father’s ruined reputation. He’s sworn off having any personal relationships with ton members—his only interest lies in keeping his business thriving. He’s content with his day-to-day anonymity, and business keeps his heart from getting exposed. It’s safer that way. Until Oscar meets Miss Dorothea Atkinson. A woman capturing his interest is a rare thing, but Miss Atkinson is nearly engaged to a man of her parents’ choosing. Would it be wrong to wish for something to go terribly wrong between the couple? Soon, Oscar learns that wishing can become a reality, but often, the price is an even heavier thing to pay.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible | B&N Nook Book | BookBub | BookDepository.com | Kobo eBook

About the series:

Since 2015, Mirror Press has been presenting the Timeless Regency Romance Collection, a curated anthology of novellas and short stories set in early 19th century England. Featuring bestselling authors from the historical romance genre, the series has hit the USA TODAY bestselling list and charted at #1 at Amazon.com. In October the Timeless Regency Romance Collection will present its 18th anthology, The Inns of Devonshire, including stories by Sally Britton, Annette Lyon, and Deborah M. Hathaway. Learn more about the series and other anthologies published by Mirror Press at their website.

Meet The Authors

Josi S. Kilpack is the bestselling author of several Proper Romance, Timeless Romance series, and a Cozy Culinary Mystery series. Her books, A Heart Revealed and Lord Fenton’s Folly; were Publishers Weekly Best Romance Books of the Year. She and her husband, Lee, are the parents of four children.

Connect with the Author: Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Website

Martha Keyes is a Whitney Award winning author born, raised, and educated in Utah—a home she loves dearly but also dearly loves to escape whenever she can by traveling the world. She received a BA in French Studies and a Master of Public Health, both from Brigham Young University.

Word crafting has always fascinated her, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that she considered writing her own stories. When she isn’t writing, she is honing her photography skills, looking for travel deals, and spending time with her family. She lives with her husband and twin boys in Vineyard, Utah.

Connect with the Author: Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Website

Heather B. Moore is a USA Today bestseller and award-winning author of more than seventy publications. She’s lived on both the east and west coasts of the United States, including Hawaii, and attended school abroad including the Cairo American College in Egypt, and the Anglican School of Jerusalem in Israel. She loves to learn about anything in history and, as an author, is passionate about historical research.

Connect with the Author: Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Website

Follow the Blog Tour

Join the virtual book tour of A Seaside Summer, a collection of novellas by bestselling authors Josi S. Kilpack, Martha Keyes, and Heather B. Moore, August 23-September 19, 2021. Over twenty-five popular online influencers specializing in Regency romance, historical romance, and inspirational fiction will join in the celebration of the release of the 17th book in the bestselling Timeless Regency Romance Collection with a spotlights, exclusive excerpts, and reviews of this new anthology set in Regency England.

TOUR PARTICIPANTS
Aug 23 Austenprose (Review)
Aug 24 My Jane Austen Book Club (Excerpt)
Aug 24 Getting Your Read On (Review)
Aug 25 The Bibliophile Files (Review)
Aug 26 Heidi Reads (Review)
Aug 27 Our Book Confessions (Review)
Aug 30 The Lit Bitch (Spotlight)
Aug 30 Wishful Endings (Review)
Sept 01 The Book Diva Reads (Spotlight)
Sept 01 Rosanne E. Lortz (Review)
Sept 02 Laura’s Reviews (Review)
Sept 04 Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen (Excerpt)
Sept 07 Probably at the Library (Review)
Sept 08 Gwendalyn’s Books (Review)
Sept 09 Books and Socks Rock (Spotlight)
Sept 10 Christian Chick’s Thoughts (Review)
Sept 11 Storeybook Reviews (Excerpt)
Sept 13 From Pemberley to Milton (Review)
Sept 13 My Bookish Bliss (Review)
Sept 14 Bookworm Lisa (Review)
Sept 15 Relz Reviewz (Spotlight)
Sept 15 Reading with Emily (Review)
Sept 16 Lu Reviews Books (Review)
Sept 17 Greenish Bookshelf (Spotlight)
Sept 17 Austenesque Reviews (Review)
Sept 17 Bringing Up Books (Review)
Sept 18 Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina (Review)
Sept 19 Eli’s Novel Reviews (Review)

Giveaway

Mirror Press is pleased to offer one digital copy of any of the 16 previous books in the Timeless Regency Romance Collection to one unique winner at each stop on the tour.

To qualify, please leave a comment with this blog post before 11:59pm, September 26, 2021. Visit each stop on the tour and leave a comment to increase your chance to win a book.

This contest is open internationally. The winner will be drawn randomly from the comments and announced on each blog on September 27, 2021. The winner must claim their prize before October 04, 2021. Good luck to all! Void where prohibited by law.

This spotlight and blog tour brought to you by AustenProse

 

Guest Post: Marlie Wasserman author of THE MURDERESS MUST DIE

The Murderess Must Die by Marlie Wasserman Banner

Good day, my bookish peeps. Well, we have another week almost completed and I hope you’re all doing well. I’m in a variety of book clubs, some meet online and others meet locally. One of my local book clubs is dedicated to nonfiction, a genre I don’t read nearly as much as I’d like until recently. My nonfiction book club is a temporary hiatus and I’ve been reading a lot of true crime books as well as fictionalized books about real people (criminals and noncriminals). I’m hooked on both the true crime nonfiction stories as well as the fictionalized stories about people long gone. These are just a few of the reasons I’m incredibly honored to welcome today’s guest to the blog. Please help me welcome Marlie Parker Wasserman, author of The Murderess Must Die. I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to say, follow the blog tour, and add The Murderess Must Die to your ever-growing TBR lists. Thank you, Ms. Wasserman for joining us today and sharing your insight on true crime and historical crime fiction.

Focus on Killer or Victim?

I write in the mashed-up genre of true crime meets historical crime fiction. In short, I start with a true crime that happened long ago and then imagine the lives of the people involved in that crime. From the beginning I have both a known killer and a known victim. For my new novel, The Murderess Must Die, I began by focusing on the killer, a middle-aged woman named Martha Place, living in Brooklyn in 1898. I had less interest in her victim—Martha’s eighteen-year-old stepdaughter, Ida Place.

A few months into my writing I read an essay by Hallie Rubenhold, the author of a great nonfiction book, The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper. Rubenhold admonishes writers of crime fiction to pay scant attention to criminals and more attention to victims. This was not a shock to me—I had been hearing well-intentioned newscasters advocate the same approach as they covered mass shootings—but I had been slow to apply the lesson to my own writing. I stopped work on my novel for a few days, wondering if I could continue to write a book that focused on the bad guy, or bad gal.

Rather than dropping the project, I re-conceived it to have multiple first-person points of view. Although Martha Place’s voice remains at the center of the novel, we also hear the voice of her dead victim, stepdaughter Ida. When readers first meet Ida, they see her behaving as a spoiled brat who has everything going for her and maybe deserves the harm that comes to her. I try to move beyond those first impressions to explore Ida’s tragic personal history, imagining how that history may have exacerbated traits that incited hatred in her stepmother.

Perhaps almost as importantly, Hallie Rubenhold’s admonition led me to expand on the definition of victim. Yes, Ida, as the murdered teenager, is the obvious victim, but Martha Place’s crime affects and arguably comes close to victimizing the many people who occupy concentric circles around her. By murdering Ida, Martha harms the reputation of her siblings and her nieces. By refusing to cooperate with her lawyers, Martha makes their job impossible. As the first woman to be executed in the electric chair, she unintentionally causes stress to the day matron and the night matron hired to guard her in Sing Sing. By refusing to consider herself a sinner, she challenges the spiritual advisors enlisted to guard her soul. By befriending the wife of the prison warden, Martha upsets the usual rhythms of Sing Sing. I look too at whether her impending doom affects the executioner, who had never pulled the switch on a woman before. How did the experience of being connected to a convicted killer change these people? Ida Place was the official victim, but not the only person who suffered.

When I followed advice to look at the victim as well as the killer, I used a wide lens, imagining how a single act of murder victimized overlapping communities. I am certain that is a useful lens for contemporary crime fiction as well as historical crime fiction.

The Murderess Must Die

by Marlie Parker Wasserman

August 16 – September 10, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

The Murderess Must Die by Marlie Wasserman

On a winter day in 1898, hundreds of spectators gather at a Brooklyn courthouse, scrambling for a view of the woman they label a murderess. Martha Place has been charged with throwing acid in her stepdaughter’s face, hitting her with an axe, suffocating her with a pillow, then trying to kill her husband with the same axe. The crowd will not know for another year that the alleged murderess becomes the first woman in the world to be executed in the electric chair. None of her eight lawyers can save her from a guilty verdict and the governor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt, refuses to grant her clemency.

Was Martha Place a wicked stepmother, an abused wife, or an insane killer? Was her stepdaughter a tragic victim? Why would a well-dressed woman, living with an upstanding husband, in a respectable neighborhood, turn violent? Since the crime made the headlines, we have heard only from those who abused and condemned Martha Place.

Speaking from the grave she tells her own story, in her own words. Her memory of the crime is incomplete, but one of her lawyers fills in the gaps. At the juncture of true crime and fiction, The Murderess Must Die is based on an actual crime. What was reported, though, was only half the story.

Praise for The Murderess Must Die:

A true crime story. But in this case, the crime resides in the punishment. Martha Place was the first woman to die in the electric chair: Sing Sing, March 20, 1899. In this gorgeously written narrative, told in the first-person by Martha and by those who played a part in her life, Marlie Parker Wasserman shows us the (appalling) facts of fin-de-siècle justice. More, she lets us into the mind of Martha Place, and finally, into the heart. Beautifully observed period detail and astute psychological acuity combine to tell us Martha’s story, at once dark and illuminating. The Murderess Must Die accomplishes that rare feat: it entertains, even as it haunts.
Howard A. Rodman, author of The Great Eastern

 

The first woman to be executed by electric chair in 1899, Martha Place, speaks to us in Wasserman’s poignant debut novel. The narrative travels the course of Place’s life describing her desperation in a time when there were few opportunities for women to make a living. Tracing events before and after the murder of her step-daughter Ida, in lean, straightforward prose, it delivers a compelling feminist message: could an entirely male justice system possibly realize the frightful trauma of this woman’s life? This true-crime novel does more–it transcends the painful retelling of Place’s life to expand our conception of the death penalty. Although convicted of a heinous crime, Place’s personal tragedies and pitiful end are inextricably intertwined.
Nev March, author of Edgar-nominated Murder in Old Bombay

 

The Murderess Must Die would be a fascinating read even without its central elements of crime and punishment. Marlie Parker Wasserman gets inside the heads of a wide cast of late nineteenth century Americans and lets them tell their stories in their own words. It’s another world, both alien and similar to ours. You can almost hear the bells of the streetcars.
Edward Zuckerman, author of Small Fortunes and The Day After World War Three, Emmy-winning writer-producer of Law & Order

 

This is by far the best book I have read in 2021! Based on a true story, I had never heard of Mattie Place prior to reading this book. I loved all of the varying voices telling in the exact same story. It was unique and fresh and so wonderfully deep. I had a very hard time putting the book down until I was finished!
It isn’t often that an author makes me feel for the murderess but I did. I connected deeply with all of the people in this book, and I do believe it will stay with me for a very long time.
This is a fictionalized version of the murder of Ida Place but it read as if the author Marlie Parker Wasserman was a bystander to the actual events. I very highly recommend this book.
Jill, InkyReviews

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Crime Fiction
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: July 6, 2021
Number of Pages: 250
ISBN: 978-1953789877
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

On a winter day in 1898, hundreds of spectators gather at a Brooklyn courthouse, scrambling for a view of the woman they label a murderess. Martha Place has been charged with throwing acid in her stepdaughter’s face, hitting her with an axe, suffocating her with a pillow, then trying to kill her husband with the same axe. The crowd will not know for another year that the alleged murderess becomes the first woman in the world to be executed in the electric chair. None of her eight lawyers can save her from a guilty verdict and the governor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt, refuses to grant her clemency.

Was Martha Place a wicked stepmother, an abused wife, or an insane killer? Was her stepdaughter a tragic victim? Why would a well-dressed woman, living with an upstanding husband, in a respectable neighborhood, turn violent? Since the crime made the headlines, we have heard only from those who abused and condemned Martha Place.

Speaking from the grave she tells her own story, in her own words. Her memory of the crime is incomplete, but one of her lawyers fills in the gaps. At the juncture of true crime and fiction, The Murderess Must Die is based on an actual crime. What was reported, though, was only half the story.

Author Bio:

Marlie Wasserman

Marlie Parker Wasserman writes historical crime fiction, after a career on the other side of the desk in publishing. The Murderess Must Die is her debut novel. She reviews regularly for The Historical Novel Review and is at work on a new novel about a mysterious and deadly 1899 fire in a luxury hotel in Manhattan.

 

Catch Up With Marlie Wasserman:
www.MarlieWasserman.com
Instagram – @marliepwasserman
Twitter – @MarlieWasserman
Facebook – @marlie.wasserman

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 To Win!

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Marlie Parker Wasserman. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs from August 16th until September 12, 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.

 

bookreview.png

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.

Book Spotlight: LOST LOVE’S RETURN by Alfred Nicols

LOST LOVE'S RETURN by Alfred Nicols book cover; sepia-tone pictures, top picture is of WW1 hospital room featuring patients and nurses, bottom picture is of a man facing a woman on a cobblestone street.

Lost Love’s Return by Alfred Nicols
ISBN: 9781953865281 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781953865168 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781953865175 (ebook)
ASIN: B091QBVNT9 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Books Fluent
Release Date: June 8, 2021
Genre: Fiction | Historical Romance

 “Fans of long-lost love will appreciate the sincere bond between Peter and Elizabeth as they navigate the ups and downs of rediscovering each other.” –BookLife

In 1918, in a dramatic battlefield scene on the Western Front, young American soldier Peter Montgomery sustains a severe wound. He’s transported to a British hospital, where he falls hard for Elizabeth, a young English nurse, and she for him. Upon his release, they engage in an intense love affair, forever changing both of their lives.

Separated and shipped home, Peter tries desperately to reconnect with Elizabeth, but the War and the Spanish flu epidemic have the world in turmoil. Despite his every effort, desperate and in great distress, he is unable to reconnect with her. And then, suddenly, all hope is gone.

For the next twenty-seven years, Peter stoically meets many challenges in his life: finding a way to make a living during the Depression; being a devoted father to his son, born eleven months after marriage to a woman he does not love.

This debut novel from Alfred Nicols takes you from the battlefields of Europe during WWI to postwar Mississippi and into WWII and begs one question. Will true love prevail?

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound.org | Alibris | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | BookDepository.com | eBooks.com | Kobo eBook

 

Meet The Author

Author - Alfred Nicols

ALFRED NICOLS received undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Mississippi. Following military service, he had a career as a lawyer, a state trial judge, and a federal judge. He and his wife, Mary, live on rural acreage in Mississippi. Lost Love’s Return was written as an effort to leave his children and grandchildren, perhaps others, insight into issues in life and the value of family ties, even to imperfect people.

This spotlight brought to you courtesy of Books Forward

Book Showcase: THE WOMAN WITH THE BLUE STAR by Pam Jenoff

Blog Tour Banner: THE WOMAN WITH THE BLUE STAR, book cover features wet cobblestone street, a pair of red t-strap ladies shoes, and a white armband with a blue Star of David embroidery; Quote: "Filled with twists, turns, and displays of bravery and love that you will never forget!" Lisa Scottoline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of ETERNAL

THE WOMAN WITH THE BLUE STAR - PJenoff

The Woman With the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff
ISBN: 9780778389385 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9780778311546 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781488073915 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488211706 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B08PDTQ5TB (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08DL12NM8 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Park Row Books
Release Date: May 4, 2021

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris comes a riveting tale of courage and unlikely friendship during World War II.

1942. Sadie Gault is eighteen and living with her parents in the Kraków Ghetto during World War II. When the Nazis liquidate the ghetto, Sadie and her pregnant mother are forced to seek refuge in the perilous tunnels beneath the city. One day Sadie looks up through a grate and sees a girl about her own age buying flowers.

Ella Stepanek is an affluent Polish girl living a life of relative ease with her stepmother, who has developed close alliances with the occupying Germans. While on an errand in the market, she catches a glimpse of something moving beneath a grate in the street. Upon closer inspection, she realizes it’s a girl hiding.

Ella begins to aid Sadie and the two become close, but as the dangers of the war worsen, their lives are set on a collision course that will test them in the face of overwhelming odds. Inspired by incredible true stories, The Woman with the Blue Star is an unforgettable testament to the power of friendship and the extraordinary strength of the human will to survive.

 

 

Read An Excerpt:

Sadie

Kraków, Poland

March 1942

Everything changed the day they came for the children.

I was supposed to have been in the attic crawl space of the three-story building we shared with a dozen other families in the ghetto. Mama helped me hide there each morning before she set out to join the factory work detail, leaving me with a fresh bucket as a toilet and a stern admonishment not to leave. But I grew cold and restless alone in the tiny, frigid space where I couldn’t run or move or even stand straight. The minutes stretched silently, broken only by a scratching—unseen children, years younger than me, stowed on the other side of the wall. They were kept separate from one another without space to run and play. They sent each other messages by tapping and scratching, though, like a kind of improvised Morse code. Sometimes, in my boredom, I joined in, too.

“Freedom is where you find it,” my father often said when I complained. Papa had a way of seeing the world exactly as he wanted. “The greatest prison is in our mind.” It was easy for him to say. Though he manual ghetto labor was a far cry from his professional work as an accountant before the war, at least he was out and about each day, seeing other people. Not cooped up like me. I had scarcely left our apartment building since we were forced to move six months earlier from our apartment in the Jewish Quarter near the city center to the Podgórze neighborhood where the ghetto had been established on the southern bank of the river. I wanted a normal life, my life, free to run beyond the walls of the ghetto to all of the places I had once known and taken for granted. I imagined taking the tram to the shops on the Rynek or to the kino to see a film, exploring the ancient grassy mounds on the outskirts of the city. I wished that at least my best friend, Stefania, was one of the others hidden nearby. Instead, she lived in a separate apartment on the other side of the ghetto designated for the families of the Jewish police.

It wasn’t boredom or loneliness that had driven me from my hiding place this time, though, but hunger. I had always had a big appetite and this morning’s breakfast ration had been a half slice of bread, even less than usual. Mama had offered me her portion, but I knew she needed her strength for the long day ahead on the labor detail.

As the morning wore on in my hiding place, my empty belly had begun to ache. Visions pushed into my mind uninvited of the foods we ate before the war: rich mushroom soup and savory borscht, and pierogi, the plump, rich dumplings my grandmother used to make. By midmorning, I felt so weak from hunger that I had ventured out of my hiding place and down to the shared kitchen on the ground floor, which was really nothing more than a lone working stove burner and a sink that dripped tepid brown water. I didn’t go to take food—even if there had been any, I would never steal. Rather, I wanted to see if there were any crumbs left in the cupboard and to fill my stomach with a glass of water.

I stayed in the kitchen longer than I should, reading the dog-eared copy of the book I’d brought with me. The thing I detested most about my hiding place in the attic was the fact that it was too dark for reading. I had always loved to read and Papa had carried as many books as he could from our apartment to the ghetto, over the protests of my mother, who said we needed the space in our bags for clothes and food. It was my father who had nurtured my love of learning and encouraged my dream of studying medicine at Jagiellonian University before the German laws made that impossible, first by banning Jews and later by closing the university altogether. Even in the ghetto at the end of his long, hard days of labor, Papa loved to teach and discuss ideas with me. He had somehow found me a new book a few days earlier, too, The Count of Monte Cristo. But the hiding place in the attic was too dark for me to read and there was scarcely any time in the evening before curfew and lights-out. Just a bit longer, I told myself, turning the page in the kitchen. A few minutes wouldn’t matter at all.

I had just finished licking the dirty bread knife when I heard heavy tires screeching, followed by barking voices. I froze, nearly dropping my book. The SS and Gestapo were outside, flanked by the vile Jüdischer Ordnungsdienst, Jewish Ghetto Police, who did their bidding. It was an aktion, the sudden unannounced arrest of large groups of Jews to be taken from the ghetto to camps. The very reason I was meant to be hiding in the first place. I raced from the kitchen, across the hall and up the stairs. From below came a great crash as the front door to the apartment building splintered and the police burst through. There was no way I could make it back to the attic in time.

Instead, I raced to our third-floor apartment. My heart pounded as I looked around desperately, wishing for an armoire or other cabinet suitable for hiding in the tiny room, which was nearly bare except for a dresser and bed. There were other places, I knew, like the fake plaster wall one of the other families had constructed in the adjacent building not a week earlier. That was too far away now, impossible to reach. My eyes focused on the large steamer trunk stowed at the foot of my parents’ bed. Mama had shown me how to hide there once shortly after we first moved to the ghetto. We practiced it like a game, Mama opening the trunk so that I could climb in before she closed the lid.

The trunk was a terrible hiding place, exposed and in the middle of the room. But there was simply nowhere else. I had to try. I raced over to the bed and climbed into the trunk, then closed the lid with effort. I thanked heavens that I was tiny like Mama. I had always hated being so petite, which made me look a solid two years younger than I actually was. Now it seemed a blessing, as did the sad fact that the months of meager ghetto rations had made me thinner. I still fit in the trunk.

When we had rehearsed, we had envisioned Mama putting a blanket or some clothes over the top of the trunk. Of course, I couldn’t do that myself. So the trunk sat unmasked for anyone who walked into the room to see and open. I curled into a tiny ball and wrapped my arms around myself, feeling the white armband with the blue star on my sleeve that all Jews were required to wear.

There came a great crashing from the next building, the sound of plaster being hewn by a hammer or ax. The police had found the hiding place behind the wall, given away by the too-fresh paint. An unfamiliar cry rang out as a child was found and dragged from his hiding place. If I had gone there, I would have been caught as well.

Someone neared the door to the apartment and flung it open. My heart seized. I could hear breathing, feel eyes searching the room. I’m sorry, Mama, I thought, feeling her reproach for having left the attic. I braced myself for discovery. Would they go easier on me if I came out and gave myself up? The footsteps grew fainter as the German continued down the hall, stopping before each door, searching.

The war had come to Kraków one warm fall day two and a half years earlier when the air-raid sirens rang out for the first time and sent the playing children scurrying from the street. Life got hard before it got bad. Food disappeared and we waited in long lines for the most basic supplies. Once there was no bread for a whole week.

Then about a year ago, upon orders from the General Government, Jews teemed into Kraków by the thousands from the small towns and villages, dazed and carrying their belongings on their backs. At first I wondered how they would all find places to stay in Kazimierz, the already cramped Jewish Quarter of the city. But the new arrivals were forced to live by decree in a crowded section of the industrial Podgórze district on the far side of the river that had been cordoned off with a high wall. Mama worked with the Gmina, the local Jewish community organization, to help them resettle, and we often had friends of friends over for a meal when they first arrived, before they went to the ghetto for good. They told stories from their hometowns too awful to believe and Mama shooed me from the room so I would not hear.

Several months after the ghetto was created, we were ordered to move there as well. When Papa told me, I couldn’t believe it. We were not refugees, but residents of Kraków; we had lived in our apartment on Meiselsa Street my entire life. It was the perfect location: on the edge of the Jewish Quarter but easy walking distance to the sights and sounds of the city center and close enough to Papa’s office on Stradomska Street that he could come home for lunch. Our apartment was above an adjacent café where a pianist played every evening. Sometimes the music spilled over and Papa would whirl Mama around the kitchen to the faint strains. But according to the orders, Jews were Jews. One day. One suitcase each. And the world I had known my entire life disappeared forever.

I peered out of the thin slit opening of the trunk, trying to see across the tiny room I shared with my parents. We were lucky, I knew, to have a whole room to ourselves, a privilege we had been given because my father was a labor foreman. Others were forced to share an apartment, often two or three families together. Still, the space felt cramped compared to our real home. We were ever on top of one another, the sights and sounds and smells of daily living magnified.

“Kinder, raus!” the police called over and over again now as they patrolled the halls. Children, out. It was not the first time the Germans had come for children during the day, knowing that their parents would be at work.

But I was no longer a child. I was eighteen and might have joined the work details like others my age and some several years younger. I could see them lining up for roll call each morning before trudging to one of the factories. And I wanted to work, even though I could tell from the slow, painful way my father now walked, stooped like an old man, and how Mama’s hands were split and bleeding that it was hard and awful. Work meant a chance to get out and see and talk to people. My hiding was a subject of much debate between my parents. Papa thought I should work. Labor cards were highly prized in the ghetto. Workers were valued and less likely to be deported to one of the camps. But Mama, who seldom fought my father on anything, had forbidden it. “She doesn’t look her age. The work is too hard. She is safest out of sight.” I wondered as I hid now, about to be discovered at any second, if she would still think she was right.

The building finally went silent, the last of the awful footsteps receding. Still I didn’t move. That was one of the ways they trapped people who were hiding, by pretending to go away and lying in wait when they came out. I remained motionless, not daring to leave my hiding place. My limbs ached, then went numb. I had no idea how much time had passed. Through the slit, I could see that the room had grown dimmer, as if the sun had lowered a bit.

Sometime later, there were footsteps again, this time a shuffling sound as the laborers trudged back silent and exhausted from their day. I tried to uncurl myself from the trunk. But my muscles were stiff and sore and my movements slow. Before I could get out, the door to our apartment flung open and someone ran into the room with steps light and fluttering. “Sadie!” It was Mama, sounding hysterical.

“Jestem tutaj,” I called. I am here. Now that she was home, she could help me untangle myself and get out. But my voice was muffled by the trunk. When I tried to undo the latch, it stuck.

Mama raced from the room back into the corridor. I could hear her open the door to the attic, then run up the stairs, still searching for me. “Sadie!” she called. Then, “My child, my child,” over and over again as she searched but did not find me, her voice rising to a shriek. She thought I was gone.

“Mama!” I yelled. She was too far away to hear me, though, and her own cries were too loud. Desperately, I struggled once more to free myself from the trunk without success. Mama raced back into the room, still wailing. I heard the scraping sound of a window opening and felt a whoosh of cold air. At last I threw myself against the lid of the trunk, slamming my shoulder so hard it throbbed. The latch sprang open.

I broke free and stood up quickly. “Mama?” She was standing in the oddest position, with one foot on the window ledge, her willowy frame silhouetted against the frigid twilight sky. “What are you doing?” For a second, I thought she was looking for me outside. But her face was twisted with grief and pain. I knew then why Mama was on the window ledge. She assumed I had been taken along with the other children. And she didn’t want to live. If I hadn’t freed myself from the trunk in time, Mama would have jumped. I was her only child, her whole world. She was prepared to kill herself before she would go on without me.

A chill ran through me as I sprinted toward her. “I’m here, I’m here.” She wobbled unsteadily on the window ledge and I grabbed her arm to stop her from falling. Remorse ripped through me. I always wanted to please her, to bring that hard-won smile to her beautiful face. Now I had caused her so much pain she’d almost done the unthinkable.

“I was so worried,” she said after I’d helped her down and closed the window. As if that explained everything. “You weren’t in the attic.”

“But, Mama, I hid where you told me to.” I gestured to the trunk. “The other place, remember? Why didn’t you look for me there?”

Mama looked puzzled. “I didn’t think you would fit anymore.” There was a pause and then we both began laughing, the sound scratchy and out of place in the pitiful room. For a few seconds, it was like we were back in our old apartment on Meiselsa Street and none of this had happened at all. If we could still laugh, surely things would be all right. I clung to this last improbable thought like a life preserver at sea.

But a cry echoed through the building, then another, silencing our laughter. It was the mothers of the other children who had been taken by the police. There came a thud outside. I started for the window, but my mother blocked me. “Look away,” she ordered. It was too late. I glimpsed Helga Kolberg, who lived down the hall, lying motionless in the coal-tinged snow on the pavement below, her limbs cast at odd angles and skirt splayed around her like a fan. She had realized her children were gone and, like Mama, she didn’t want to live without them. I wondered whether jumping was a shared instinct, or if they had discussed it, a kind of suicide pact in case their worst nightmares came true.

My father raced into the room then. Neither Mama nor I said a word, but I could tell from his unusually grim expression that he already knew about the aktion and what had happened to the other families. He simply walked over and wrapped his enormous arms around both of us, hugging us tighter than usual.

As we sat, silent and still, I looked up at my parents. Mama was a striking beauty—thin and graceful, with white-blond hair the color of a Nordic princess’. She looked nothing like the other Jewish women and I had heard whispers more than once that she didn’t come from here. She might have walked away from the ghetto and lived as a non-Jew if it wasn’t for us. But I was built like Papa, with the dark, curly hair and olive skin that made the fact that we were Jews undeniable. My father looked like the laborer the Germans had made him in the ghetto, broad-shouldered and ready to lift great pipes or slabs of concrete. In fact, he was an accountant—or had been until it became illegal for his firm to employ him anymore. I always wanted to please Mama, but it was Papa who was my ally, keeper of secrets and weaver of dreams, who stayed up too late whispering secrets in the dark and had roamed the city with me, hunting for treasure. I moved closer now, trying to lose myself in the safety of his embrace.

Still, Papa’s arms could offer little shelter from the fact that everything was changing. The ghetto, despite its awful conditions, had once seemed relatively safe. We were living among Jews and the Germans had even appointed a Jewish council, the Judenrat, to run our daily affairs. Perhaps if we laid low and did as we were told, Papa said more than once, the Germans would leave us alone inside these walls until the war was over. That had been the hope. But after today, I wasn’t so sure. I looked around the apartment, seized with equal parts disgust and fear. In the beginning, I had not wanted to be here; now I was terrified we would be forced to leave.

“We have to do something,” Mama burst out, her voice a pitch higher than usual as it echoed my unspoken thoughts.

“I’ll take her tomorrow and register her for a work permit,” Papa said. This time Mama did not argue. Before the war, being a child had been a good thing. But now being useful and able to work was the only thing that might save us.

Mama was talking about more than a work visa, though. “They are going to come again and next time we won’t be so lucky.” She did not bother to hold back her words for my benefit now. I nodded in silent agreement. Things were changing, a voice inside me said. We could not stay here forever.

“It will be okay, kochana,” Papa soothed. How could he possibly say that? But Mama laid her head on his shoulder, seeming to trust him as she always had. I wanted to believe it, too. “I will think of something. At least,” Papa added as we huddled close, “we are all still together.” The words echoed through the room, equal parts promise and prayer.

Excerpt from The Woman With the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff.

Copyright © 2021 by Pam Jenoff. Published by MIRA Books. All Rights Reserved.

 

Meet The Author

Author - Pam Jenoff photo credit Mindy Schwartz Sorasky

Pam Jenoff is the author of several books of historical fiction, including the NYT bestseller The Orphan’s Tale. She holds a degree in international affairs from George Washington University and a degree in history from Cambridge, and she received her JD from UPenn. Her novels are inspired by her experiences working at the Pentagon and as a diplomat for the State Department handling Holocaust issues in Poland. She lives with her husband and 3 children near Philadelphia, where she teaches law.

Connect with the Author:

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This excerpt brought to you courtesy of Park Row Books

Book Showcase: ISABELLE AND ALEXANDER by Rebecca Anderson

Blog Tour Banner: ISABELLE AND ALEXANDER by Rebecca Anderson, Proper Romance Series, May 3-16, 2021 Blog Tour, features book cover with Regency Era dressed couple walking through a gate; quote: "Isabelle's loving and persevering fervor and devotion will resonate with any caregiver's heart." Booklist

ISABELLE AND ALEXANDER - RAndersonIsabelle and Alexander by Rebecca Anderson
ISBN: 9781629728476 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781629739953 (ebook)
ASIN: B08WJT83XR (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B093K2MQ7X (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Release Date: May 4, 2021

Isabelle Rackham knows she will not marry for love. Though arranged marriages have fallen out of fashion, hers has been settled for some time to combine the upper-middle-class wealth of her father’s coal mines with Alexander Osgood’s prospering Northern country textile mills. Though not a man prone to romantic gestures, Alexander is well-known as an eligible bachelor. His good looks have turned more than one head, so Isabelle is content to think of herself as Alexander’s wife.

However, her marriage is not what she expected. Northern England is nothing like her home farther west in the lake country. Cold, dreary, and dark, the soot from the textile mills creates a gray hue that seems to cling to everything in the city of Manchester. Alexander is distant and aloof, preferring to spend his time at the mill rather than with her at home. Their few conversations are brief, polite, and lacking any emotion, leaving Isabelle lonely and desperately homesick.

Sensing his wife’s unhappiness, Alexander suggests a trip to his country estate. Isabelle hopes this will be an opportunity to get to know her new husband without the distractions of his business. But the change of scenery doesn’t bring them any closer. While riding together on horses, Alexander is thrown from his and becomes paralyzed. Tragedy or destiny? The help and care that Alexander now needs is Isabelle’s opportunity to forge a connection and create a deep and romantic love where nothing else could.

 

Advance Praise

“Anderson’s first foray into historical romance is an atypical, yet satisfying story set in Victorian Manchester’s upper middle class. Hand this to readers looking for a book that navigates the peaks and valleys of two strangers attempting to make a life together despite the hardships life throws at them.”— Library Journal

 

“Isabelle transitions from an unaware, leisure-class woman to a more enlightened spouse and supporter of the working class. Intimacy and romance develop between Isabelle and Alexander because of simple gestures, like a long look or a thoughtful gift, and their conversations. Their slow, stately courting is reader appropriate for any age or audience. Manchester also gets its due as a place of grit and incredible production. Descriptions of bustling mills reveal their impact on the couple’s family and its fortunes. Isabelle and Alexander is an intimate and touching romance novel that focuses on women’s lives in the business class of industrial England.”— Foreword Reviews

 

“Isabelle must use her quiet spunk, busy mind, and compassionate spirit to woo her husband in a wholly new way. Anderson’s debut is a lovely northern England Victorian romance about confronting the seemingly impossible and the power of empathy. Anderson also addresses the time period’s treatment of physical and intellectual disabilities. Most of all, she beautifully depicts love in its many forms beyond romance, such as compassion, patience, and vulnerability; and her characters illustrate the ways that these expressions of love carry us through even the darkest hours. Isabelle’s loving and persevering fervor and devotion will resonate with any caregiver’s heart.”— Booklist

 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 2

Pages 11-15

Two weeks into their marriage, Isabelle believed she understood exactly what was expected of her, and what she could expect in return. It was not what her mother had led her to suppose.

Alexander was polite, if cold, and exceedingly busy. It appeared to Isabelle that their marriage had changed his daily routine very little. In the city, he woke early and breakfasted alone before walking the four blocks to his mill, where he spent his days overseeing the workings that remained a mystery to Isabelle. When he arrived home for supper, he spoke little of his work, and Isabelle cast about for any topic of conversation they’d not scratched the days before.

Trouble was, there was very little for her to offer.

Welcome home, Mr. Osgood, she could imagine herself saying. Dinner is served as you requested. I spent the day managing your small staff of servants who are fully capable of managing themselves, waiting for visitors to appear, nodding and smiling at people who passed the parlor window, and staring at the supremely masculine decorations on the walls.

As a result, dinner was a quiet affair. Every evening.

After dinner, the couple retired upstairs. Separately. This part was far from what Isabelle’s mother had led her to anticipate. Not that she’d spoken of specifics. But Isabelle had arrived at certain ideas, and her current reality did not reflect them in the least. Isabelle knew she had nothing of which to complain, except that every day, she felt the burden of loneliness and yearned for a friend with whom to commiserate. She understood that what was missing was someone who wanted to talk with her.

Edwin, home at the Lakes, would have replaced her within a month. It was so easy for him to take anyone into his confidence. He would certainly have found a friend with whom to talk and listen and laugh.

Isabelle spent an hour each morning writing letters. She wrote to her mother, informing her of the duties she performed, the sights she saw in the city, and the food she ate. These letters spoke of dirt and fish and household management. She took care to add enough detail to create a picture of fulfillment. She wrote to Ed, reminding him of childhood escapades and telling him how she missed his laugh. She wrote to her old governess, thanking her for teaching her all she needed to know in order to fill her days with meaning. After two weeks of writing such letters, she had not yet posted one.

A gentle knock on the door prompted Isabelle to look up from yet another letter she would not send. Mrs. Burns, the housekeeper, stepped inside the drawing room and said, “Pardon, ma’am, but have you a moment?”

“Is there a problem?” Isabelle could not keep the excitement from her voice. Perhaps there had been trouble at the market and the menu would need to be remade. Or an issue with the ordering of candles. Her hands came together in anticipation of being permitted to fix something.

Mrs. Burns shook her head. “Not any problem, ma’am. You have a caller.” She handed a card to Isabelle, who felt the air rush out of her lungs.

Company. A visitor. Precisely what she had been waiting for. Why did she now dread that for which she had so long hoped?

Without even reading the name on the card, Isabelle rushed to the writing table and straightened her papers, then ran her hands down her dress to make herself unwrinkled and presentable.

When Mrs. Burns next opened the door, she ushered in a short, round, bald man dressed impeccably in a blue tailcoat. “Mr. Lester Kenworthy, ma’am.”

Isabelle rose from the chair she had taken only seconds before.

Mr. Kenworthy shook his head and blustered toward her. “Oh, please, sit. No ceremony is needed between us. I only wanted to come and meet the new Mrs. Osgood. Your Alec would have you kept a tight secret from us all, and we can’t have that, can we?” He said all this in a cheerful waterfall rush of words as he pumped her hand with both of his. “Lovely, if I may say so. Lovely.”

His words were masked in an accent so sharp that she found herself startled that she’d understood him. The proximity of Cumbria to Lancashire had given her no reason to believe there would be such a disparity in inflection. But this man’s vowels seemed utterly shuffled and remade. Delight danced through his articulation.

“I am the business manager at Osgood Mills and pleased as can be to see you. I thought if I came and made myself known to you, we could get you into a room with my wife and daughter. Fast friends, I’m sure you’ll be.”

Isabelle nodded and gestured to a chair. Mr. Kenworthy sat, laughing and bumbling about the loveliness she added to the room. Certainly he’d been there before and could tell that nothing had changed since it was the drawing room of a bachelor.

When he stopped for a breath, Isabelle realized she’d not said a word since Mr. Kenworthy entered the room. “It is a pleasure to meet you, sir, and I’d be honored to make the acquaintance of Mrs. Kenworthy and your daughter.” Isabelle blushed to realize that she’d taken on some of the tilting vowels of his accent.

He must have heard it as well because he reached for her hand again and laughed. “We’ll make a local of you in no time, sure enough. Would your schedule permit you to take tea at our home tomorrow?”

Isabelle had only seconds to determine if accepting this unexpected invitation would be wise. What would Alexander say? In fact, she was fairly sure Alexander would say nothing, as he said nothing on practically every matter.

“Mr. Kenworthy, I am delighted to say that I have no standing appointments for tomorrow. I’d be very glad to come.”

“Lovely, lovely.” He’d repeated the same word so many times that Isabelle was certain it would forevermore sound correct only when spoken in his Lancashire accent. He stood and pumped her hand again. She wasn’t sure that hand-shaking was the proper greeting of the moment, but it felt so wonderful to have someone reaching for her that she returned the squeeze to his fingers. Her smile was genuine as she thanked him for his visit.

Excerpt from Isabelle and Alexander by Rebecca Anderson.

Copyright © 2021 by Rebecca Anderson. Published by Shadow Mountain Publishing.

 

Meet The Author

Author - Rebecca Anderson aka Becca Wilhite headshotRebecca Anderson is the nom de plume of contemporary romance novelist Becca Wilhite, author of Wedding Belles: A Novel in Four Parts, Check Me Out, and My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions. Isabelle and Alexander is her debut historical romance novel.

High school English teacher by day, writer by night (or very early morning), she loves hiking, Broadway shows, food, books, and movies. She is happily married and a mom to four above-average kids.

 
Author Links:    Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Website | Goodreads
 
 
This excerpt and tour brought to you courtesy of AustenProse.com