Guest Post: Karen Odden – UNDER A VEILED MOON

Saturday Salutations, my bookish peeps. Have you ever visited a place and the history tied to that particular spot just overwhelmed you? There have only been a few places I’ve seen that touched me emotionally. The first was Plimouth Plantation (now Plimouth Patuxet Museums) in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and learning of the freed Blacks that had settled there with many of the first non-Indigenous settlers. The second was Salem, Massachusetts, and the history linked to the Salem Witch Trials. The last place was Mecca, Saudi Arabia. I can’t even begin to describe the feelings brought on by thoughts of all the folks that had previously walked in the same areas I was covering. It probably sounds a bit sappy, but I often ponder who walked or lived in the areas I’m in as well as wondering what might have happened in that location 100 or 200+ years ago. Sadly, I don’t do the research required to obtain the answers to these questions, but I continue to wonder. Today, I’m pleased to welcome someone that wonders about the past, actually does the necessary research, and crafts intriguing stories afterward. Karen Odden is the author of several historical fiction books, including the recently released Under a Veiled Moon, book two in the Inspector Corravan series. Thank you, Ms. Odden, for joining us today and sharing your thoughts on the river Thames. Without further adieu, I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

The Magic of the Thames

By Karen Odden

     Until I started researching for Down a Dark River (Inspector Corravan #1) I had no idea that the Thames was tidal. Did you know this? Twice a day, the flow of the river changes from east to west and then west to east, with some areas rising and falling up to twenty-four feet, from the North Sea in the east to nearly 100 miles inland, well past even the outskirts of London. Think about that: twenty-four feet. The eco-sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor placed four horses in the Thames near Vauxhall, and the sculptures vanish and reappear with the tide, reminding people of our dependence upon water generally and the Thames specifically.

Statues of humans on horse-like creatures
“The Rising Tide” Photo credit: Jason deCaires Taylor

 

     As a result of the changing currents, a mix of trash and treasure alike are thrown upon the banks daily. As a child, in 1850s London, my (fictional) inspector Michael Corravan would mudlark along the banks, scrounging for bits of coal, wood, and metal that might be usable or saleable – and nowadays for about $50 on Tripadvisor, you can book a mud larking tour, complete with high rubber boots and a pail and a stick, and retrace his steps.

Photo of people "mudlarking" on the shore of the Thames
Mudlarkers on the south shore of the Thames, near Blackfriars Bridge. Photo credit: Karen Odden.

 

     Back in 1858, when Michael Corravan was ten years old, London experienced “the Great Stink.” Basically, the industrial waste from tanneries and manufacturing plants combined with approximately four million people’s household waste had turned the Thames into a sludgy, smelly mess.

Black and White drawing of a skeleton wearing a black hooded cap, rowing a boat
“The Silent Highwayman” (1858)

When Parliament met in Westminster, on the north side of the Thames, the Members were in agony. From the windows, they hung sheets which they sprayed with lime to try to keep the stink and the “miasma” (thought to carry disease) out. It didn’t take long before they decided to hire Joseph Bazalgette, a civil engineer, to fix this problem. His solution was to send the waste ten miles downstream (east) to a processing plant. He built enormous pipes (much larger than people thought they needed because, after all, London couldn’t possibly grow any larger than it already was – !) and overlaid them with the Victorian Embankment, which you can still walk on today. The Thames was revitalized, making it possible to romanticize it, which painters including Monet, Grimshaw, Whistler, and Canaletto did.

Oil painting of the Thames at Moonlight with the Southwark Bridge by J.A. Grimshaw
The Thames by Moonlight with Southwark Bridge by J.A. Grimshaw (1836-1893), Photo credit: City of London Corp.

(For a range of paintings of the Thames, see https://www.standard.co.uk/culture/london-art-nine-paintings-of-the-river-thames-you-have-to-see-a3900821.html)

     The spectacular, fascinating thing about the Victorian Thames is it was both changeful and steady, old and modern, a disgusting sewer and the vital lifeblood of a city all at once. As such, it’s a wonderfully suggestive setting for my books, Down a Dark River and Under a Veiled Moon, because there are no neat divisions of good and evil. My protagonist and the important secondary characters are complex, driven by motives they may not even know, and acting in ways that bring about results they don’t necessarily intend. A man or woman can be both kind and cruel, clever and obtuse, frightened and courageous, depending on the tide of events at any given moment. (See what I did there? Tide?)

     Frankly, I do not like books with flat secondary characters whose only purpose is to either enable or foil the protagonist. So I don’t want to write them. People are complicated. Their backstories are varied and unique and a messy composite of a variety of experiences. And I believe characters can and should surprise us. They can stretch our compassion and our powers of sympathy. They can make it possible for us to imagine what it is to be an Irish inspector at Scotland Yard in the 1870s, tasked with discovering the truth about the tragic Princess Alice steamship disaster, and caught between warring factions, impossible choices, and a past and present both wondrous and appalling. ♦

Black and White graphic drawing depicting the loss of "The Princess Alice" ship
Pamphlet, 1878. Photo Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.

 

Under a Veiled Moon

by Karen Odden

January 2-27, 2023 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Under a Veiled Moon by Karen Odden

In the tradition of C. S. Harris and Anne Perry, a fatal disaster on the Thames and a roiling political conflict set the stage for Karen Odden’s second Inspector Corravan historical mystery.

September 1878. One night, as the pleasure boat the Princess Alice makes her daily trip up the Thames, she collides with the Bywell Castle, a huge iron-hulled collier. The Princess Alice shears apart, throwing all 600 passengers into the river; only 130 survive. It is the worst maritime disaster London has ever seen, and early clues point to sabotage by the Irish Republican Brotherhood, who believe violence is the path to restoring Irish Home Rule.

For Scotland Yard Inspector Michael Corravan, born in Ireland and adopted by the Irish Doyle family, the case presents a challenge. Accused by the Home Office of willfully disregarding the obvious conclusion, and berated by his Irish friends for bowing to prejudice, Corravan doggedly pursues the truth, knowing that if the Princess Alice disaster is pinned on the IRB, hopes for Home Rule could be dashed forever.

Corrovan’s dilemma is compounded by Colin, the youngest Doyle, who has joined James McCabe’s Irish gang. As violence in Whitechapel rises, Corravan strikes a deal with McCabe to get Colin out of harm’s way. But unbeknownst to Corravan, Colin bears longstanding resentments against his adopted brother and scorns his help.

As the newspapers link the IRB to further accidents, London threatens to devolve into terror and chaos. With the help of his young colleague, the loyal Mr. Stiles, and his friend Belinda Gale, Corravan uncovers the harrowing truth—one that will shake his faith in his countrymen, the law, and himself.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: October 11, 2022
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 9781639101191 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 9781639101207 (eBook)
ISBN: 9781666616354 (digital Audiobook)
ASIN: B09S3J7LRP (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B0B622C43J (Audible Audiobook)
Series: Inspector Corravan, #2
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | Audiobooks.com | Barnes and Noble | B&N NOOK Book | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | eBooks.com | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook | Goodreads

Praise for Under a Veiled Moon:

“[An] exceptional sequel … Odden never strikes a false note, and she combines a sympathetic lead with a twisty plot grounded in the British politics of the day and peopled with fully fleshed-out characters. Fans of Lyndsay Faye’s Gods of Gotham trilogy will be enthralled.”

Publishers Weekly, starred review

 

“Victorian skulduggery with a heaping side of Irish troubles.”

Kirkus Reviews

 

“Will keep readers curious and guessing to the end.”

Manhattan Book Review, 5-star review

 

“Damn fine historical crime fiction.”

Bolo Books

 

“Rich in emotion and historical detail, Under a Veiled Moon is a brilliant tale of the dark, thorny places where the personal and the political intertwine.”

Mariah Fredericks, Edgar award-nominated author of the Jane Prescott series

Author Bio:

Karen Odden

Karen received her Ph.D. in English literature from New York University and subsequently taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has published numerous essays and articles on Victorian literature, written introductions for Victorian novels in the Barnes and Noble Classics Series, and edited for the journal Victorian Literature and Culture. Her first novel, A Lady in the Smoke, was a USA Today bestseller and A Dangerous Duet and A Trace of Deceit have won awards for historical mystery and historical fiction. Her fourth mystery, Down a Dark River, introduced readers to Michael Corravan, a former thief and bare-knuckles boxer from Whitechapel who serves as an inspector at Scotland Yard in 1870s London. The sequel, Under a Veiled Moon, is available in hardcover, e-book, and audiobook. A member of Mystery Writers of America and a national board member for Sisters in Crime, Karen lives in Arizona with her family.

Catch Up With Karen Odden:
KarenOdden.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @KarenOdden
Instagram – @karen_m_odden
Twitter – @karen_odden
Facebook – @karen.odden

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Guest Post: Kelly Oliver – CHAOS AT CARNEGIE

Good day, book people. Most of you are probably aware that I have an eclectic reading style. Although I read mostly fiction, I’m not tethered to just one genre. I read a little bit of everything. I’m especially in awe of authors of historical fiction. Stop and think about it folks, these authors have to do quite a bit of research to ensure they’re describing the clothing, customs, and language accurately. Yes, any author can use creative license when crafting their stories, but we readers generally don’t expect to see a reference to a telephone or television if the story is set in the 18th or 19th century. Please help me welcome Kelly Oliver, author of Chaos at Carnegie. Ms. Oliver will discuss her thoughts on some important considerations about crafting historical fiction. Thank you, Ms. Oliver, for joining us today and welcome. As a reader of historical and contemporary fiction, I’m looking forward to what you have to share with us today. I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

Guest Post graphic featuring a stack of books above the words GUEST POST in a scripted font

Do you like historical mysteries?

I do. I love reading historical mysteries—Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody, Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs, Rhys Bowen’s Georgiana Rannoch (and her standalones), Sujata Massey’s Perveen Mistry, and Mariah Frederick’s Jane Prescott, L.A. Chandler’s Lane Sanders and more.

I also love writing historical mysteries. I’ve written nonfiction books, contemporary suspense, and children’s mysteries, but my historical series, the Fiona Figg Mysteries, is my favorite to write. Why?

I love doing historical research. It is so fun to discover weird details about the past. And it is helpful to have real events to anchor the plot. For me, it makes writing easier. And I think readers are more interested in characters who are grounded in real-life events and true crime.

I’ve learned a lot about writing since I started writing fiction. But there are some particular lessons I’ve learned from writing historical mysteries.

Historical Details Shape Plot and Setting

I love the fact that the details of history can help shape not only my plot but also the everyday lives of my protagonists. It’s like having a cheat sheet.

The challenge, of course, is getting it right. And not just being accurate but also finding the right balance between historical details and story.

History can play so many roles in the novel, from those spicy tidbits sprinkled throughout the text, to the rich tapestry of everyday life that forms the background or setting for your story.

Since the Fiona Figg Mysteries are set in 1917 during WWI, I’ve learned about war strategy, early twentieth-century British slang, what soldiers ate in the trenches, WWI female spies, and so many fun details.

Fiona’s nemesis throughout the series, Fredrick Fredricks, is based on a German spy named Fritz Duquesne, who was a fascinating character in real life. He was a spy for the Germans in both world wars (which means Fiona can chase him across the globe for years to come). He used various aliases, including Fredrick Fredricks. And, like a chameleon, he changed his looks, personality, and professions to evade capture. He is definitely a worthy adversary for Fiona.

Historical Research is Fun

As a nerdy academic, I love doing the research! It’s so fun to look through old newspaper advertisements or to use William Brohaugh’s English Through the Ages, Etymonline, or an old Baedeker’s guidebook. So fun to hold those antique books in your hands.

Of course, the Internet is a vast source of information about everything from the food and clothes of an era to the political events that shaped it. It’s amazing where you can find helpful information, especially stuff to help you paint a vivid picture of the details. First-hand accounts in documentaries, autobiographies, and nonfiction are also great resources.

In the latest Fiona Figg Mystery, Chaos at Carnegie Hall, Thomas Edison, Dorothy Parker, and Margaret Sanger make appearances.

In the past, I’ve resurrected Mata Hari, Mileva Einstein (Albert’s first wife and collaborator), and a mysterious French serial killer.

For the next in the series, I’m researching French aviator and sportswoman, Marie Marvingt. I love reading about powerful women who may have been forgotten by history.

Anachronisms are Fascinating

Even the dreaded anachronism can be fascinating. What words and gadgets existed and when? Anachronisms are things or words used in the wrong time period, either because they didn’t exist yet, or because they were already out of use. There’s also the issue of region or place.

Words used here might not be used there, even in the same time period. For example, in the US we say “cafeteria” and in England they say “canteen.”

And on top of that, some words or things might feel out of place, even if they aren’t. Even though it would be fair game to use a phrase like “hang out” in a 19th Century novel, it might make your reader stop and question its accuracy. So, you need to use words that not only are right but also sound like they’re right.

Facts versus Truth

It might sound like writing historical fiction is full of landmines and pitfalls, but those same challenges and obstacles can become a great help in fashioning a believable and engaging story. And, while emotions and reactions are also period and place-dependent, a good historical novel adds the fleshy truth of experience to the bare bones of historical fact. A great historical novel makes people, places, and the past come alive.

How about you? What are your favorite historical novels? ♦

Chaos at Carnegie Hall

by Kelly Oliver

December 5 – 30, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Chaos at Carnegie Hall by Kelly Oliver

Agatha Christie meets Downton Abbey in the Fiona Figg and Kitty Lane Mystery series opener.

Can Fiona catch a killer and find a decent cup of tea before her mustache wax melts?

1917. New York.

Notorious spy, Fredrick Fredricks, has invited Fiona to Carnegie Hall to hear a famous soprano. It’s an opportunity the War Office can’t turn down. Fiona and Clifford are soon on their way, but not before Fiona is saddled with chaperone duties for Captain Hall’s niece. Is Fiona a spy or a glorified babysitter?

From the minute Fiona meets the soprano aboard the RMS Adriatic it’s treble on the high C’s. Fiona sees something—or someone—thrown overboard, and then she overhears a chemist plotting in German with one of her own countrymen!

And the trouble doesn’t stop when they disembark. Soon Fiona is doing time with a group of suffragettes and investigating America’s most impressive inventor Thomas Edison.

When her number one suspect turns up dead at the opera and Fredrick Fredricks is caught red-handed, it looks like it’s finally curtains for the notorious spy.

But all the evidence points to his innocence. Will Fiona change her tune and clear her nemesis’ name? Or will she do her duty? And just what is she going to do with the pesky Kitty Lane? Not to mention swoon-worthy Archie Somersby…

If Fiona’s going to come out on top, she’s going to have to make the most difficult decision of her life: the choice between her head and her heart.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Cozy Mystery
Published by: Boldwood Books
Publication Date: November 2022
Number of Pages: 298
ISBN: 9781804831564
Series: The Fiona Figg Mysteries
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Kelly Oliver

Kelly Oliver is the award-winning and bestselling author of three mystery series: the seven-book suspense series, The Jessica James Mysteries; the three-book middle grade series, Pet Detective Mysteries; and the four-book historical cozy series, The Fiona Figg Mysteries.

Chaos at Carnegie Hall is the latest Fiona Figg mystery, and the first to feature sidekick, Kitty Lane.

When she’s not writing novels, Kelly is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University.

To learn more about Kelly and her books, go to:
www.KellyOliverBooks.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @KellyOliverBook
Instagram – @KellyOliverBook
Twitter – @KellyOliverBook
Facebook – @KellyOliverAuthor

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Book Spotlight: THE COLOR STORM by Damian Dibben

THE COLOR STORM book cover, script font with THE COLOR STORM at the top of the cover with a wash of colors behind it (yellow/orange/red/purple/blue), A NOVEL OF RENAISSANCE VENICE in a smaller, gold colored font is under the main title; Renaissance line drawing of Venice is shown with some color for the domes/roofs of buildings, also features people walking on wide sidewalk, books coming into the harbor, and clouds above the buildings and below the title.

The Color Storm by Damian Dibben
ISBN: 9781335015938 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781488057236 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488214240 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9798200916276 (Audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B0B482DYMF (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B09GFZW1V8 (Kindle edition)
Page Count: 336
Release Date: September 6, 2022
Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Genre: Fiction | Historical Fiction | Historical Thriller

Enter the world of Renaissance Venice, where the competition for fame and fortune can mean life or death…

Artists flock here, not just for wealth and fame, but for revolutionary color. Yet artist Giorgione “Zorzo” Barbarelli’s career hangs in the balance. Competition is fierce, and his debts are piling up. When Zorzo hears a rumor of a mysterious new pigment, brought to Venice by the richest man in Europe, he sets out to acquire the color and secure his name in history.

Winning a commission to paint a portrait of the man’s wife, Sybille, Zorzo thinks he has found a way into the merchant’s favor. Instead, he finds himself caught up in a conspiracy that stretches across Europe and a marriage coming apart inside one of the floating city’s most illustrious palazzi.

As the water levels rise and the plague creeps ever closer, an increasingly desperate Zorzo isn’t sure whom he can trust. Will Sybille prove to be the key to Zorzo’s success or the reason for his downfall?

Atmospheric and suspenseful and filled with the famous artists of the era, The Color Storm is an intoxicating story of art and ambition, love and obsession.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Amazon Audiobook on CD | Audible Audiobook | Audiobooks.com | Barnes and Noble | B&N NOOK Book | B&N Audiobook | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Downpour Audiobook | eBooks.com | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook

"Art can be fickle, love can be murder..."Praise for The Color Storm:

The Color Storm is an engaging thriller and a compelling exploration of an artist’s obsession with love and color.” —Sunday Times

“As with all intoxicating quest stories vividly told, The Color Storm by Damian Dibben, transports us to a heady other world, where it’s possible to feel the sirocco winds whistling across Venice and bathe in the cerulean skies of the Italian Renaissance. With master artists, Giorgione, Bellini, and Leonardo da Vinci along for the ride, the reader will want to walk and then run to join a fierce competition to create beauty anew and discover a color so rare and sublime it’s said to come from the stars.” —Lisa Rochon, author of Tuscan Daughter

“Ravishing, addictive, knife-sharp, ambitious, and singing with detail, The Color Storm had me in its grip from the first moment I began reading. Here is a compelling thriller that takes us to the heart of sixteenth-century Venice where the world’s most famous painters compete to win the greatest commission of their lives, and to find a rumored new color that will make their names immortal, while the threat of the plague comes ever closer. There is so much to think about and relish. Not simply the story itself—with all its glorious twists and turns—but the search to express ourselves. A celebration of art and a hymn to color.” —Rachel Joyce, New York Times bestselling author of Miss Benson’s Beetle

The Color Storm takes readers on a thrilling, murderous journey through the serpentine waters of High Renaissance Venice as one of art history’s most gifted but often overlooked painters—Giorgione—searches for love, fame, and, most importantly, color. Written with language as vibrant as a Giorgione masterpiece, The Color Storm is for lovers of art, Italy, and page-turning plot.” —Stephanie Storey, author of Raphael, Painter in Rome

Meet the Author

Brown-haired white male wearing black glasses and a gray long-sleeve top with yellow & black flowers and gray pants, seated with his right arm resting on his knee and his right hand under his chin
Damian Dibben photo by Leia Morrison

DAMIAN DIBBEN is the bestselling British author of Tomorrow and History Keepers series. His books have been translated into twenty-seven languages in over forty countries. Damian has worked extensively as a screenwriter on projects as diverse as The Phantom of the Opera and Puss in Boots. He lives on London’s Southbank with his partner Ali and his three dogs Dudley, Daphne, and Velvet.

 
Connect with the author via Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Website
This book spotlight is brought to you courtesy of Hanover Square Press

Guest Post: Mally Becker – THE COUNTERFEIT WIFE

Hello, my fellow book lovers. I don’t know about you, but I’m loving the cooler weather. I enjoy curling up on my favorite reading chair with a blanket, a cup of tea, and a good book (or two). Of course, I curl up on my favorite reading chair every season, but Fall and Winter just seem different. My reading tastes also seem to change with the weather, as I gravitate more towards historical fiction at this time of the year. If you’re always on the lookout for something new in the historical fiction arena, then you’re going to love today’s guest author visit. Please help me welcome back Mally Becker, author of The Counterfeit Wife. Ms. Becker will be providing us with an introduction to her latest book. Thank you, Ms. Becker, for coming back to visit, I’m eager to learn more about your latest book. I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

Guest Post graphic featuring a stack of books above the words GUEST POST in a scripted font

I’m excited and honored to be featured here today!

My name is Mally Becker, and I’m the Agatha Award-nominated author of The Turncoat’s Widow and The Counterfeit Wife, which is out now wherever books are sold.

The Turncoat’s Widow introduces General Washington’s two most reluctant spies, young widow Becca Parcell and former British POW Daniel Alloway. Pressed into Washington’s service, this unlikely duo uncover a plot that threatens the new nation.

Combining mystery, a touch of romance, and history, The Counterfeit Wife opens months later as Becca and Daniel accept a new assignment from George Washington. Masquerading as newlyweds, they head to Philadelphia to uncover a ring of counterfeiters who are upending the wartime economy.

There, Becca comes face-to-face with a half-remembered woman from her childhood, which forces her to question everything she thought she knew about her past. When that woman becomes a suspect in the murder of one of the counterfeiting suspects, Becca and Daniel find themselves speeding to discover the real villain before he can kill again.

I can hear you asking why on earth Becca and Daniel needed to masquerade as a married couple.

It would have been quite a challenge for an unmarried couple to find “alone time” in the 18th century, a historian assured me. Society banned meetings between unmarried men and women without a chaperone.

Yet Becca and Daniel are amateur sleuths, in their 18th-century way. Without an ability to speak in private, how could they share their impression of suspects or evaluate the information one or the other uncovers?

A fake marriage seemed to me to be their only option. Martha Washington thinks it might work so long as they maintain all the proprieties, as she puts it in my story. General Washington is not as certain but approves the ruse, nonetheless.

When you read my books, The Counterfeit Wife or The Turncoat’s Widow, I hope that they entertain you. But I also hope that you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time, attending a society party at City Tavern, breaking into an 18th-century printer’s shop, or chatting with the wealthiest women in Philadelphia.

And I hope above all else that you feel a connection to my female characters especially. Customs may change; clothing certainly does. But I think the things that make us human and our emotions are a constant throughout time.

I especially strove to bring to life women like Becca who chart their own course. Because there have always been women who cheerfully ignore society’s restrictions: women spies; women business owners; female poets; even women who led 18th-century riots.

I included a few of those historical women in The Counterfeit Wife, including Benjamin Franklin’s adult daughter, Sally, and the wife of Pennsylvania’s governor, Esther Reed. She wrote that American women were “born for liberty” and led a group of women who knocked on every door in the city to raise money for the all-but-broke Continental Army.

As a friend of the Washingtons, Becca is invited to tag along on one of the group’s fundraising trips with Sally Franklin Bache, Benjamin Franklin’s adult daughter who was, in fact, an important member of the Ladies Association. The dramatic meeting between Becca and a woman who lives there sets in motion an important part of my book’s plot.

You can learn more about me and my books at www.mallybecker.com. I hope to see you there! ♦

The Counterfeit Wife

by Mally Becker

September 19 – October 14, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

THE COUNTERFEIT WIFE by Mally Becker book cover, yellow background with photo of the back of a white female, wearing a burgundy long-sleeve 17th century gown

Philadelphia, June 1780. George Washington’s two least likely spies return, masquerading as husband and wife as they search for traitors in Philadelphia.

Months have passed since young widow Becca Parcell and former printer Daniel Alloway foiled a plot that threatened the new nation. But independence is still a distant dream, and General Washington can’t afford more unrest, not with food prices rising daily and the value of money falling just as fast.

At the General’s request, Becca and Daniel travel to Philadelphia to track down traitors who are flooding the city with counterfeit money. Searching for clues, Becca befriends the wealthiest women in town, the members of the Ladies Association of Philadelphia, while Daniel seeks information from the city’s printers.

But their straightforward mission quickly grows personal and deadly as a half-remembered woman from Becca’s childhood is arrested for murdering one of the suspected counterfeiters.

With time running out – and their faux marriage breaking apart – Becca and Daniel find themselves searching for a hate-driven villain who’s ready to kill again.

Praise for The Counterfeit Wife:

The Counterfeit Wife by Mally Becker has it all — adventure, romance and deceit … [w]ith smooth-as-ice prose and pitch-perfect dialogue.”

Tina deBellegarde, Agatha- and Derringer-nominated author of the Batavia-on-Hudson Mystery Series

The Counterfeit Wife is a not-to-be-missed adventure that gives new meaning to rebel and loyalist, spy and spouse.”

Lori Robbins, award-winning author of the On Pointe and Masterclass Mystery series

“As the young country struggles for independence, so does Becca, and she will have you turning pages well into the night … I highly recommended The Counterfeit Wife and I’m already anxious for the third of the series.”

Eileen Harrison Sanchez, award-winning author of Freedom Lessons—A Novel

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: September 2022
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: 9781685121587
Series: A Revolutionary War Mystery
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Author Bio:

 

Mally Becker author photo, headshot of white female with short, brown curly hair, and tortoise shell eyeglassesMally Becker combines her love of history and crime fiction in mysteries that feature strong, independent heroines. She is the Agatha Award-nominated author of The Turncoat’s Widow, which Kirkus Reviews called, “A compelling tale… with charming main characters.” Her first novel was also named a Silver Falchion finalist and a CIBA “Mystery & Mayhem” finalist.

A member of the board of MWA-NY, Mally was an attorney until becoming a full-time writer and an instructor at The Writers Circle Workshops. She is also a member of Sisters in Crime and the Historical Novel Society. Mally and her husband live in New Jersey, where they raised their wonderful son and spend as much time as they can hiking and kayaking.

Catch Up With Mally Becker:
www.MallyBecker.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @mallybecker
Instagram – @mallybeckerwrites
Twitter – @mally_becker
Facebook – @mallybeckerauthor

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Book Showcase: THE THREAD COLLECTORS by Shaunna J. Edwards and Alyson Richman

THE THREAD COLLECTORS by Shaunna J Edwards and Alyson Richman book coverThe Thread Collectors by Shaunna J. Edwards and Alyson Richman
ISBN: 9781525899782 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9780369717870 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488214219 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B09L58K9QC (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B09FGTBXH2 (Kindle edition)
Release Date: August 30, 2022
Publisher: Graydon House
Genre: Fiction | Historical Fiction | Epistolary Fiction

“An unforgettable story of female strength, hope and friendship. This collaborative work is magnificent—a true revelation!” —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Woman with the Blue Star

“A brilliant story brimming with unexpected friendships and family ties. Historically sound and beautifully stitched, The Thread Collectors will stay with you long after the last page is turned.” —Sadeqa Johnson, international bestselling author of Yellow Wife

1863: In a small Creole cottage in New Orleans, an ingenious young Black woman named Stella embroiders intricate maps on repurposed cloth to help enslaved men flee and join the Union Army. Bound to a man who would kill her if he knew of her clandestine activities, Stella has to hide not only her efforts but her love for William, a Black soldier and a brilliant musician.

Meanwhile, in New York City, a Jewish woman stitches a quilt for her husband, who is stationed in Louisiana with the Union Army. Between abolitionist meetings, Lily rolls bandages and crafts quilts with her sewing circle for other soldiers, too, hoping for their safe return home. But when months go by without word from her husband, Lily resolves to make the perilous journey South to search for him.

As these two women risk everything for love and freedom during the brutal Civil War, their paths converge in New Orleans, where an unexpected encounter leads them to discover that even the most delicate threads have the capacity to save us. Loosely inspired by the authors’ family histories, this stunning novel will stay with readers for a long time.

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Sadeqa Johnson quote praising bookRead an excerpt:

New Orleans, Louisiana March 1863

She opens the door to the Creole cottage just wide enough to ensure it is truly him. Outside, the pale moon is high in the sky, illuminating only half of William’s face. Stella reaches for his sleeve and pulls him inside.

He is dressed to run. He wears his good clothes, but has chosen his attire thoughtfully, ensuring the colors will camouflage in the wilderness that immediately surrounds the city. In his hand, he clasps a brown canvas case. They have only spoken in whispers during their clandestine meetings about his desire to fight. To flee. The city of New Orleans teeters on the precipice of chaos, barely contained by the Union forces occupying the streets. Homes abandoned. Businesses boarded up. Stella’s master comes back from the front every six weeks, each time seeming more battered, bitter and restless than the last.

William sets down his bag and draws Stella close into his chest, his heartbeat accelerating. He lifts a single, slim finger, slowly tracing the contours of her face, trying to memorize her one last time.

“You stay here, no matter what…” he murmurs into her ear. “You must keep safe. And for a woman like you, better to hide and stay unseen than venture out there.”

In the shadows, he sees her eyes shimmer. But she balances the tears from falling, an art she had been taught long ago—when she learned that survival, not happiness, was the real prize.

Stella slips momentarily from William’s arms. She tiptoes toward a small wooden chest. From the top drawer, she retrieves a delicate handkerchief with a single violet embroidered in its center. With materials in the city now so scarce, she has had to use the dark blue thread from her skirt’s hem to stitch the tiny flower on a swatch of white cotton cut from her petticoat.

“So you know you’re never alone out there,” she says as she closes William’s fingers around the kerchief.

He has brought something for her, too. A small speckled cowrie shell that he slips from a worn indigo-colored pouch. The shell and its cotton purse are his two most sacred possessions in the world. He puts the pouch, now empty, back into his pocket.

“I’ll be coming back for that, Stella.” William smiles as he looks down at the talisman in his beloved’s hand. “And for you, too… Everything will be different soon.”

She nods, takes the shell and feels its smooth lip against her palm. There was a time such cowries were used as a form of currency for their people, shells threaded on pieces of string exchanged for precious goods. Now this shell is both worthless and priceless as it’s exchanged for safekeeping between the lovers.

There is no clock in her small home. William, too, wears no watch. Yet both of them know they have already tarried too long. He must set out before there is even a trace of sunlight and, even then, his journey will be fraught with danger.

“Go, William,” she says, pushing him out the door. Her heart breaks, knowing the only protection she can offer him is a simple handkerchief. Her love stitched into it by her hand.

He leaves as stealthily as he arrived, a whisper in the night. Stella falls back into the shadows of her cottage. She treads silently toward her bedroom, hoping to wrap herself tightly in the folds of the quilt that brings her so much comfort.

“You alright?” A soft sound emerges in the dark.

“Ammanee?” Stella’s voice breaks as she says the woman’s name.

“Yes, I’m here.” Ammanee enters the room, her face brightened by a small wax candle in her grip.

In the golden light, she sits down on the bed and reaches for Stella’s hand still clutching the tiny shell, which leaves a deep imprint in her palm.

“Willie strong,” Ammanee says over and over again. “He gon’ make it. I know.”

Stella doesn’t answer. A flicker of pain stabs her from the inside, and she finally allows her tears to run.

Excerpt from The Thread Collectors by Shaunna J. Edwards and Alyson Richman.
Copyright © 2022 by Shaunna J. Edwards & Alyson Richman.
Published by arrangement with Graydon House/HarperCollins
All rights reserved.

Meet the Authors

Author Shaunna J Edwards photo
Shaunna J. Edwards by Ron Contarsy- Highmark Studios

SHAUNNA J. EDWARDS has a BA in literature from Harvard College and a JD from NYU School of Law. A former corporate lawyer, she now works in diversity, equity and inclusion. She is a native Louisianian, raised in New Orleans, and currently lives in Harlem with her husband. The Thread Collectors is her first novel. Find her on Instagram, @shaunnajedwards.

 
Connect with the author via Amazon Author Page | BookBub | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter

 

Alyson Richman author photo
Alyson Richman by Jeanine Boubli

 

ALYSON RICHMAN is the USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of several historical novels, including The Velvet Hours, The Garden of Letters, and The Lost Wife, which is currently in development for a major motion picture. Alyson graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in art history and Japanese studies. She is an accomplished painter and her novels combine her deep love of art, historical research, and travel. Alyson’s novels have been published in twenty-five languages and have reached bestseller lists both in the United States and abroad. She lives on Long Island with her husband and two children, where she is currently at work on her next novel. Find her on Instagram, @alysonrichman.

Connect with the author via Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Website

 

This excerpt is brought to you courtesy of Graydon House

 

Book Review: TO CATCH A RAVEN by Beverly Jenkins

 

 

TO CATCH A RAVEN by Beverly Jenkins book coverTo Catch a Raven, Women Who Dare #3, by Beverly Jenkins
ISBN: 9780062861740 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780062861757 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062861825 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B09MV846YB (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B09MD9MKDG (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Avon Books
Release Date: August 23, 2022
Genre: Fiction | Romance | Historical Romance

“A living legend.” — Julia Quinn

The newest novel in USA Today bestselling author Beverly Jenkins’s compelling Women Who Dare series features a fearless grifter who goes undercover to reclaim the stolen Declaration of Independence.

Lying and cheating may be sins to some people, but for Raven Moreaux, it is a way of life. She comes from a long line of grifters and couldn’t be prouder…Until she’s forced to help the government.

A former Confederate official is suspected of stealing the Declaration of Independence, and Raven, posing as his housekeeper, is tasked with getting it back. Her partner is the too handsome Braxton Steel. Masquerading as a valet/driver, Brax is also supposed to be her “husband.” He has his own reasons for doing this job, but when their pretend marriage ignites into fiery passion, they’ll have to put everything—including their hearts—on the line.

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To Catch a Raven is the third book in the “Women Who Dare” series and is set mainly in the post-Civil War South. The female main character, Raven Moreaux, is a member of a family known as grifters, con artists, and thieves based out of Louisiana. Raven’s family has struggled with poverty, but they all work together to achieve a united goal of uplifting the family. The male main character, Braxton Steel, is from a leading Black New England family of entrepreneurs. He grew up with servants and wealth and has never known anything but privilege. To say that he was shocked to learn to about his father’s prior associations with the Moreaux family is a major understatement. Now Braxton must work along with a known grifter/con artist in an effort to save his father from possible prosecution. But he knows nothing about grifting and frowns upon even the thought of doing something illegal or underhanded. Braxton learns that he shouldn’t be so quick to judge and that all is not what it seems with Raven Moreaux and her family. These two are forced to work together but each one learns valuable lessons from the other regarding pride, prejudices, and presumptions.

I found To Catch a Raven to be an enticing and fast-paced read. I enjoyed the dynamics between Raven and Braxton. Ms. Jenkins has incorporated quite a bit into this story beyond the search for a natural treasure. Just a few of the things a reader should check off on your Romancelandia Bingo card when reading this book include: enemies-to-lovers, one bed, older couple-second chance romance, fake marriage, fake royals, fake nuns, mice in a bag, a broken bed, a young girl with second sight, Alice in Wonderland, ice skating, Confederate money with a woman’s face, laudanum, betrayal, and more. What’s amazing to this reader is that all of these elements, (SPOILER ALERT: along with a bullying Pinkerton agent receiving her comeuppance), are combined in such a manner that nothing seems out of place within the telling of this tale. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that I loved reading this story. The relationship between Raven and Braxton is sassy, steamy, and sexy, not to mention sweet. Their quest to find a stolen document takes them from Louisiana to the Carolinas and the journey allows both to learn from one another. Yes, this is a romance. And yes, there’s a HEA. But in addition to the romance story, Ms. Jenkins provides fascinating tidbits of history and it’s always a pleasure learning about our hidden history. If you enjoyed reading Rebel and Wild Rain, the first two books in this series, then I strongly encourage you to get a copy of To Catch a Raven to read. In addition to my print and digital copy, I purchased a second print copy for my 87-y.o. mother. I can only hope that you enjoy reading this series as much as I have, and I can’t wait to re-read this series (along with a few other favorite Beverly Jenkins books).

Happy Reading, y’all!

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

Giveaway

Told y’all that I LOVED this book, well I’m going to share the love with one lucky reader. I’m giving away one digital copy of this book, winner’s choice of Kindle or eBook copy. To enter the giveaway please use the Rafflecopter form below or click HERE. This giveaway begins at 12:01 AM ET on 08/26/2022 and ends at 11:59 PM ET on 08/31/2022. The winner will be selected and notified by 10:00 AM on 09/01/2022.

Apologies to my international followers, but this giveaway is limited to US residents. All entries from non-US residents will be disqualified. Void where prohibited by law.

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Guest Post: Katharine Schellman – DEATH AT THE MANOR

Happy Monday, my bookish peeps. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and were able to find some time to read. After having an allergic reaction to some coconut, I spent most of Saturday and Sunday heavily medicated and reading. I enjoy reading mysteries, suspense thrillers, romance, and romantic suspense, but there’s a special place in my heart for gothic romance (hey, Jane Eyre is one of my all-time favorite reads!). Whether a story is a traditional gothic tale or gothic-inspired, count me in. I’m very pleased to welcome, Katharine Schellman, author of Death at the Manor to the blog today. Ms. Schellman will be defining gothic storytelling and providing us with a list of suggested gothic reads. I hope you’ll take note and add a few of these titles to your TBR or TBRR (to-be-re-read) list, along with Death at the Manor. Thank you, Ms. Schellman, for stopping by and sharing your insight into gothic stories.

A Gothic Reading List
by Katharine Schellman

If you’ve read one of the Lily Adler Mysteries before, you might have noticed a slightly different flavor in Lily’s third adventure. With a wandering ghost, a run-down manor full of unsettling residents, and a romance brewing, it has a distinctly Gothic feel to it.

That isn’t by accident. During the nineteenth century, when Death at the Manor is set, the Gothic romance was wildly popular. These books were often mysteries that reflected a fascination with the supernatural, the grotesque, or the horrific.

Death at the Manor is still a traditional mystery, but parts of it borrow heavily from the Gothic canon. So what makes a book truly Gothic? It’s a genre that can vary a lot, especially in its modern version, but you’ll usually see a few elements in common.

1. The threat of supernatural events or creatures, such as ghosts, monsters, or vampires
2. Dark, ruined settings, such as old castles, monasteries, or haunted houses, often with secret passages and trap doors
3. A feeling of fear or claustrophobia
4. The past intruding on the present, often through curses, prophecies, omens, or portents
5. Themes of vengeance, imprisonment, or murder
6. Doomed or persecuted romance

The tropes of Gothic writing could easily become overblown and absurd, but they served an important role in the history of literature. Books about ghosts, fear, vengeance, and persecution gave women something other than the marriage plot to write and read about. And they allowed writers and readers to explore the darker side of the social expectations, taboos, and power structures that shaped their lives.

If you’d like to brush up on your Gothic reading, here’s a starter list for you:

1. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
2. Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
3. The Old English Baron by Clara Reeve
4. Zofloya by Charlotte Dacre
5. The Giaour by Lord Byron
6. The Wanderer by Frances Burney
7. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
8. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
9. The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe
10. The Grey Woman by Elizabeth Gaskell

And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. It’s not a Gothic tale itself, and like Austen’s other works, it doesn’t stray far from the marriage plot. But it’s a brilliant satire of the Gothic genre, which can only be fully appreciated once you’ve read some of the books she was spoofing. ♦

Death at the Manor

by Katharine Schellman

August 8 – September 2nd, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Death at the Manor by Katharine Schellman

 

The tortured spirits of the dead haunt a Regency-era English manor—but the true danger lies in the land of the living in the third installment in the Lily Adler mysteries, perfect for fans of Deanna Raybourn.

 

Regency widow Lily Adler is looking forward to spending the autumn away from the social whirl of London. When she arrives in Hampshire with her friends, the Carroways, she doesn’t expect much more than a quiet country visit and the chance to spend time with her charming new acquaintance, Matthew Spencer.

But something odd is afoot in the small country village. A ghost has taken up residence in the Belleford manor, a lady in grey who wanders the halls at night, weeping and wailing. Half the servants have left in terror, but the family seems delighted with the notoriety that their ghost provides. Intrigued by this spectral guest, Lily and her party immediately make plans to visit Belleford.

They arrive at the manor the next morning ready to be entertained—only to find that tragedy has struck. The matriarch of the family has just been found killed in her bed.

The dead woman’s family is convinced that the ghost is responsible. Lily is determined to learn the truth before another victim turns up—but could she be next in line for the Great Beyond?

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: August 9th, 2022
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN10: 1639100784 (Hardcover)
ISBN13: 9781639100781 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 9781639100798 (eBook)
ISBN: 9781666613636 (Digital Audiobook)
ASIN: B0B13RB3XG (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B09LGVHT9S (Kindle edition)
Series: Lily Adler Mystery #3
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Author Bio:

Katharine Schellman

Katharine Schellman is a former actor, one-time political consultant, and now the author of the Lily Adler Mysteries and the Nightingale Mysteries. Her debut novel, The Body in the Garden, was one of Suspense Magazine’s Best Books of 2020 and led to her being named one of BookPage’s 16 Women to Watch in 2020. Her second novel, Silence in the Library, was praised as “worthy of Agatha Christie or Rex Stout.” (Library Journal, starred review) Katharine lives and writes in the mountains of Virginia in the company of her husband, children, and the many houseplants she keeps accidentally murdering.

Catch Up With Katharine Schellman:
KatharineSchellman.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @katharineschellman
Instagram – @katharinewrites
Twitter – @katharinewrites
Facebook – @katharineschellman

Tour Participants:

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GIVEAWAY:

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Book Spotlight: SISTER MOTHER WARRIOR by Vanessa Riley

Sister Mother Warrior by Vanessa Riley
ISBN: 9780063073548 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780063073562 (eBook)
ISBN: 9780063073579 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B09JHXL8Y5 (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B09HSC3WR3 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Release Date: July 12, 2022
Genre: Fiction | Historical Fiction | Biographical Fiction

ONE OF USA TODAY‘S “BEST BOOKS OF SUMMER!”

“This book is not only a one-sitting read, it’s a slice of history that needs to be told. Utterly brilliant, powerful, and inspiring.” — Kristan Higgins, New York Times bestselling author of Always the Last to Know

Acclaimed author of Island Queen Vanessa Riley brings readers a vivid, sweeping novel of the Haitian Revolution based on the true-life stories of two extraordinary women: the first Empress of Haiti, Marie-Claire Bonheur, and Gran Toya, a West African-born warrior who helped lead the rebellion that drove out the French and freed the enslaved people of Haiti.

Gran Toya: Born in West Africa, Abdaraya Toya was one of the legendary minos—women called “Dahomeyan Amazons” by the Europeans—who were specially chosen female warriors consecrated to the King of Dahomey. Betrayed by an enemy, kidnapped, and sold into slavery, Toya wound up in the French colony of Saint Domingue, where she became a force to be reckoned with on its sugar plantations: a healer and an authority figure among the enslaved. Among the motherless children she helped raise was a man who would become the revolutionary Jean-Jacques Dessalines. When the enslaved people rose up, Toya, ever the warrior, was at the forefront of the rebellion that changed the course of history.

Marie-Claire: A free woman of color, Marie-Claire Bonheur was raised in an air of privilege and security because of her wealthy white grandfather. With a passion for charitable work, she grew up looking for ways to help those oppressed by a society steeped in racial and economic injustices. Falling in love with Jean-Jacques Dessalines, an enslaved man, was never the plan, yet their paths continued to cross and intertwine, and despite a marriage of convenience to a Frenchman, she and Dessalines had several children.

When war breaks out on Saint Domingue, pitting the French, Spanish, and enslaved people against one another in turn, Marie-Claire and Toya finally meet, and despite their deep differences, they both play pivotal roles in the revolution that will eventually lead to full independence for Haiti and its people.

Both an emotionally palpable love story and a detail-rich historical novel, Sister Mother Warrior tells the often-overlooked history of the most successful Black uprising in history. Riley celebrates the tremendous courage and resilience of the revolutionaries, and the formidable strength and intelligence of Toya, Marie-Claire, and the countless other women who fought for freedom.

“A riveting read! Richly imagined, meticulously researched, and fast-paced…Vanessa Riley encourages us to rethink history through fresh eyes.” — Myriam J. A. Chancy, author of What Storm, What Thunder

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Meet The Author

Headshot photo of author, Vanessa Riley

Vanessa Riley is an award-winning author of Island Queen, a Good Morning America Buzz Pick. Riley’s historical novels showcase the hidden histories of Black women and women of color, emphasizing strong sisterhoods and dazzling multicultural communities. Her works encompass historical fiction, historical romance, and historical mystery and have been reviewed by the AAMBC, Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Publisher Weekly, and the New York Times. She’s received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist.

Ms. Riley is a member and former president of the Regency Fiction Writers, a member of the Georgia Writers Association, the Historical Novel Society, Crime Writers of Color, and on the Board of Directors of Christian Book Lovers Retreat. She’s an avid baker who loves creating her Trinidadian grandma’s cake recipes. You can find Ms. Riley writing on her southern porch with proper amounts of caffeine.

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

Book Showcase: BLOOMSBURY GIRLS by Natalie Jenner

BLOOMSBURY GIRLS by Natalie Jenner book coverBloomsbury Girls by Natalie M. Jenner
ISBN: 9781250276698 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250276704 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250852328 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B09CNDV5GJ (Kindle edition)
ASIN: B09ZVJFBDN (Audible audiobook)
Release Date: May 17, 2022
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Historical Fiction | Women’s Fiction

Natalie Jenner, the internationally bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society, returns with a compelling and heartwarming story of post-war London, a century-old bookstore, and three women determined to find their way in a fast-changing world in Bloomsbury Girls.

Bloomsbury Books is an old-fashioned new and rare bookstore that has persisted and resisted change for a hundred years, run by men and guided by the general manager’s unbreakable fifty-one rules. But in 1950, the world is changing, especially the world of books and publishing, and at Bloomsbury Books, the girls in the shop have plans:

Vivien Lowry: Single since her aristocratic fiancé was killed in action during World War II, the brilliant and stylish Vivien has a long list of grievances—most of them well justified and the biggest of which is Alec McDonough, the Head of Fiction.

Grace Perkins: Married with two sons, she’s been working to support the family following her husband’s breakdown in the aftermath of the war. Torn between duty to her family and dreams of her own.

Evie Stone: In the first class of female students from Cambridge permitted to earn a degree, Evie was denied an academic position in favor of her less accomplished male rival. Now she’s working at Bloomsbury Books while she plans to remake her own future.

As they interact with various literary figures of the time—Daphne Du Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Sonia Blair (widow of George Orwell), Samuel Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim, and others—these three women with their complex web of relationships, goals and dreams are all working to plot out a future that is richer and more rewarding than anything society will allow.

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Watch the Trailer

A Message from Natalie Jenner

Dear readers,

I am immensely grateful for the outpouring of affection that so many of you have expressed for my debut novel The Jane Austen Society and its eight main characters. When I wrote its epilogue (in one go and without ever changing a word), I wanted to give each of Adam, Mimi, Dr. Gray, Adeline, Yardley, Frances, Evie and Andrew the happy Austenesque ending they each deserved. But I could not let go of servant girl Evie Stone, the youngest and only character inspired by real life (my mother, who had to leave school at age fourteen, and my daughter, who does eighteenth-century research for a university professor and his team). Bloomsbury Girls continues Evie’s adventures into a 1950s London bookshop where there is a battle of the sexes raging between the male managers and the female staff, who decide to pull together their smarts, connections, and limited resources to take over the shop and make it their own. There are dozens of new characters in Bloomsbury Girls from several different countries, and audiobook narration was going to require a female voice of the highest training and caliber. When I learned that British stage and screen actress Juliet Stevenson, CBE, had agreed to narrate, I knew that my story could not be in better hands, and I so hope you enjoy reading or listening to it.

Warmest regards,
Natalie

Read an excerpt:

The Tyrant was Alec McDonough, a bachelor in his early thirties who ran the New Books, Fiction & Art Department on the ground floor of Bloomsbury Books. He had read literature and fine art at the University of Bristol and been planning on a career in something big—Vivien accused him of wanting to run a small colony—when the war had intervened. Following his honourable discharge in 1945, Alec had joined the shop on the exact same day as Vivien. “By an hour ahead. Like a dominant twin,” she would quip whenever Alec was rewarded with anything first.

From the start Alec and Vivien were rivals, and not just for increasing control of the fiction floor. Every editor that wandered in, every literary guest speaker, was a chance for them to have access to the powers that be in the publishing industry. As two secretly aspiring writers, they had each come to London and taken the position at Bloomsbury Books for this reason. But they were also both savvy enough to know that the men in charge—from the rigid Mr. Dutton and then-head-of-fiction Graham Kingsley, to the restless Frank Allen and crusty Master Mariner Scott—were whom they first needed to please. Alec had a clear and distinct advantage when it came to that. Between the tales of wartime service, shared grammar schools, and past cricket-match victories, Vivien grew quickly dismayed at her own possibility for promotion.

Sure enough, within weeks Alec had quickly entrenched himself with both the long-standing general manager, Herbert Dutton, and his right-hand man, Frank Allen. By 1948, upon the retirement of Graham Kingsley, Alec had ascended to the post of head of fiction, and within the year had added new books and art to his oversight—an achievement which Vivien still referred to as the Annexation.

She had been first to call him the Tyrant; he called her nothing at all. Vivien’s issues with Alec ranged from the titles they stocked on the shelves, to his preference for booking events exclusively with male authors who had served in war. With her own degree in literature from Durham (Cambridge, her dream university, still refusing in 1941 to graduate women), Vivien had rigorously informed views on the types of books the fiction department should carry. Not surprisingly, Alec disputed these views.

“But he doesn’t even read women,” Vivien would bemoan to Grace, who would nod back in sympathy while trying to remember her grocery list before the bus journey home. “I mean, what—one Jane Austen on the shelves? No Katherine Mansfield. No Porter. I mean, I read that Salinger story in The New Yorker he keeps going on about: shell-shocked soldiers and children all over the place, and I don’t see what’s so masculine about that.”

Unlike Vivien, Grace did not have much time for personal reading, an irony her husband often pointed out. But Grace did not work at the shop for the books. She worked there because the bus journey into Bloomsbury took only twenty minutes, she could drop the children off at school on the way, and she could take the shop newspapers home at the end of the day. Grace had been the one to suggest that they also carry import magazines, in particular The New Yorker. Being so close to the British Museum and the theatre district, Bloomsbury Books received its share of wealthy American tourists. Grace was convinced that such touches from home would increase their time spent browsing, along with jazz music on the wireless by the front cash, one of many ideas that Mr. Dutton was still managing to resist.

Vivien and Alec had manned the ground floor of the shop together for over four years, circling each other within the front cash counter like wary lions inside a very small coliseum. The square, enclosed counter had been placed in the centre of the fiction department in an effort to contain an old electrical outlet box protruding from the floor. Mr. Dutton could not look at this eyesore without seeing a customer lawsuit for damages caused by accidental tripping. Upon his promotion to general manager in the 1930s, Dutton had immediately ordained that the front cash area be relocated and built around the box.

This configuration had turned out to be of great benefit to the staff. One could always spot a customer coming from any direction, prepare the appropriate response to expressions ranging from confused to hostile, and even catch the surreptitious slip of an unpurchased book into a handbag. Other bookshops had taken note of Bloomsbury Books’ ground-floor design and started refurbishing their own. The entire neighbourhood was, in this way, full of spies. Grace and Vivien were not the only two bookstore employees out and about, checking on other stores’ window displays. London was starting to boom again, after five long years of postwar rationing and recovery, and new bookshops were popping up all over. Bloomsbury was home to the British Museum, the University of London, and many famous authors past and present, including the prewar circle of Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster, and Lytton Strachey. This made the district a particularly ideal location for readers, authors, and customers alike.

And so, it was here, on a lightly snowing day on the second of January, 1950, that a young Evie Stone arrived, Mr. Allen’s trading card in one pocket, and a one-way train ticket to London in the other.

Excerpt from The Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner.
Copyright © 2022 by Natalie Jenner. Published by St. Martin’s Press, New York. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Author Natalie Jenner Headshot

Natalie Jenner is the author of the instant international bestseller The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls. A Goodreads Choice Award runner-up for historical fiction and finalist for best debut novel, The Jane Austen Society was a USA Today and #1 national bestseller and has been sold for translation in twenty countries. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie has been a corporate lawyer, career coach and, most recently, an independent bookstore owner in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs. Visit her website to learn more.

Connect with the author via: Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Website

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Book Showcase: A DISTURBING NATURE by Brian Lebeau

A DISTURBING NATURE by Brian Lebeau book coverA Disturbing Nature by Brian Lebeau
ISBN: 9781953865496 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781953865502 (ebook)
ASIN: B09VYK2NKD (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Books Fluent
Release Date: May 10, 2022
Genre: Fiction | Historical Fiction | Mystery | Suspense

When FBI Chief Investigator Francis Palmer and Maurice Lumen’s paths collide, a dozen young women are already dead—bodies strewn in the woods across southern New England. Crippled by the loss of their families and haunted by mistakes, they wrestle with skeletons and ghosts neither understands. Who is destined to pay for the sins of their fathers, and who will pay for their own?

Under a celebrity veneer, the Beast in Palmer simmers. Called back from an investigation that’s gone dry in Seattle to his field office in Boston, he’s assigned to a case closer to home. Without closure and carrying the scars of every predator he’s hunted down, Palmer’s thrust into a new killer’s destructive path and forced to confront his own demons.

On the surface, Mo Lumen seems an unlikely suspect. Abandoned by the Great Society and sheltered from the countercultural revolution, he’s forced to leave Virginia under the shadow of secrets and accusations. Emerging in Rhode Island, burdened with childlike innocence, reminders of the past threaten to resurrect old carcasses.

Once she arrives, however, it becomes clear the boy’s death was no accident. Someone dangerous lurks within these glittering halls. Someone harboring a disturbing obsession with portrait magic.

A psychological thriller set in the summer of 1975, A Disturbing Nature explores the concept of two deaths, blurring the line between man and monster.

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Read an Excerpt:

Palmer pushes his apartment door open with the key still in the knob. Six months of stale, pent-up air swarms the hallway and infests his nostrils, a bitter greeting following a prolonged absence. Suitcase wheels echo off bare walls and his two daughters smile at him from their easel-backed five-by-sevens as he shuts the door with his foot and heads to the shower.

Water drips from his hair and collects around his feet, the sting of leaving Seattle’s acid rain mixing with the anguish of returning to Boston’s polluted harbor. He wipes the walls and squeegees the glass, clearing the mist, but leaving the grime. Staring into the mirror as he shaves, Palmer sees The Monster. Still in his head. Still on the loose.

It feels twelve hours later than it is. Palmer closes the curtains to shield himself from the unforgiving midday sun, turns on the television to drown out the vehicular fist thrusts and extended fingers of Boston traffic, and props up a pillow to receive his aching head. Nothing worth watching, he shuffles to bed and stares at the phone on the nightstand. He knows he can’t call; she’ll be at work and the girls will be with their friends. He reaches for the receiver, grabbing a cigarette instead. Sitting at the edge and lighting, he takes an extended drag before resting his head in his palms.

The contrived tension of a soap opera playing in the living room and the heated burbles of Mr. Coffee working in the kitchen serve as background noise to Palmer’s rambling thoughts. Why did Osmond have to go on vacation now? Why would he fly home on a Monday? One more day isn’t so bad, he assures himself, but it’s been over a month since Osmond and Ross left Seattle. They’ve talked on the phone once since then, but Osmond didn’t mention anything about a vacation at the time. This is the longest stretch they haven’t worked together in eighteen years, all the way back to when Osmond was hospitalized.

Palmer knows Osmond kept him safe when the nightmares started. He protected Palmer when The Beast tried to take over, succeeding almost every time Palmer sought to explore the darker path. He shared the responsibility with Marilyn for bringing Palmer back to the respectable world of white-collar family man. Palmer walked the edge and Osmond held his hand.

Again, Palmer looks at the phone. This time he knows there’s no point; Osmond’s on a flight back from Antigua. Palmer pulls himself from the edge of the bed and staggers to the bathroom. Dumping several Valium down his throat, he checks the red clouds forming on the outside edges of his eyes and yawns. Are Ted’s eyes bloodshot, too? Juggling law school and nighttime activities? How many more young girls?

Palmer scoops the excess foam from a can of shaving cream on the counter, smearing it across the mirror. He sees the lines in his forehead and the creases in his neck, nothing in between. This time, Ted’s eyes do not stare back. Palmer knows he must have closure and take down monsters like Ted before they get to his daughters. And he needs a new investigation to purge his mind of The Monster’s depravity.

He walks back to bed, his eyelids almost closed, and crawls under the covers. He imagines Osmond poolside, sharing a rum punch with his wife. Marilyn and the girls are swimming in the pool while he lounges under an umbrella with a scotch mist and a crossword puzzle. And he’s himself again, until the Valium wears off. And the demons return.

Excerpt from A Disturbing Nature by Brian Lebeau.
Copyright © 2022 by Brian Lebeau
Published by arrangement with Books Fluent

 

Meet The Author

Author Brian Lebeau

One month after The Beatles arrived, with much fanfare, in America, Brian Lebeau was born, unceremoniously, in Fall River, Massachusetts, home of the infamous Lizzie Borden. After being awarded an “A” in high school English once and denied a career in music for “lack of talent” repeatedly, he taught economics at several colleges and universities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island before moving to Fauquier County, Virginia, to work as a defense contractor for two decades. In the psychological thriller A Disturbing Nature, Mr. Lebeau merges three key interests: a keen fascination with everything World War II, a morbid curiosity surrounding the motivations and mayhem of notorious serial killers, and a lifelong obsession with the Red Sox. A Disturbing Nature is Mr. Lebeau’s first book.

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