Monday, July 27, 2015

Tempesta's Dream by Vincent B. Lococo

"Everyone doubted that he would ever return to her. After all, he was an American sailor and it was a well-known fact that those sailors always had a different girl in every port. It was thought by others that she was just another young girl abandoned by her American sailor." Opening Paragraph



Synopsis: Tempesta's Dream is the inspirational story of an aspiring opera singer coming of age in Milan; a tender and moving love story; a testament to the bonds of friendship; and, at its core, a tribute to the beauty, majesty and miracle of opera.  Giovanni Tempesta always dreamed of singing at Milan's La Scala Opera House. There's just one small problem -- he's never had formal training or the money to pursue his dream. When he meets the seductive and wealthy Isabella Monterone, he becomes even more determined to become a singer. With the assistance of Alfredo del Monte, a blind, retired opera singer with a secretive past, who resides at the Casa di Riposo in Milan, Giovanni sets out on a quest to hopefully attain his dream. Will his luck turn around? Could Alfredo be the one person who could assist him in finding the break he needs? Or is Giovanni destined to be on the cusp of reaching his life long dream, only to find failure? Find out in this poignant love story; a story of both "amicizia e amore" (friendship and love.) 

Review by Mirella Patzer
Also visit History and Women for bios on some of the world's most notorious women!

What this novel does well is that it combines the history of opera in Italy, specifically at La Scala di Milano, with a poignant friendship and love story. It covers all the famous opera singers and composers, as well as some Italian history. It is evident the author did a great deal of research and is passionate about opera and Italian life. At times, there were many sections that read more technically instead of prose-like, and this made the story flow more like a creative non-fiction book than a novel. But the bones are great. Beneath all the information, there is a beautiful tale of friendship and love. This is a wonderful book, accurately written, that will give readers an indepth knowledge about opera with its many performances, singers, and composers. It is a wonderful introduction to the world of opera! 
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Friday, July 24, 2015

Newport by Jill Morrow

"The lighthouse on the shore flashed its beacon in time with each rolling heave of Jim Reid's stomach. His knuckles whitened around the metal railing of the boat as he leaned forward, willing the wicked water to swallow him up whole and end his misery now. "Holy Mother of God," he groaned." Opening Paragraph


In a glamorous Newport mansion filled with secrets, a debonair lawyer must separate truth from deception. . . .

Spring 1921. The Great War is over, Prohibition is in full swing, the Great Depression is still years away. Wealthy families flock to the glittering "summer cottages" they built in Newport, Rhode Island.

Having sheltered in Newport during his misspent youth, attorney Adrian de la Noye is no stranger to the city. Though he'd prefer to forget the place, he returns to revise the will of a well-heeled client. Bennett Chapman's offspring have the usual concerns about their father's much-younger fiancée. But when they learn of the old widower's firm belief that his late first wife, who "communicates" via séance, has chosen the stunning Catharine Walsh for him, they're shocked. And for Adrian, encountering Catharine in the last place he saw her decades ago proves to be a far greater surprise.

Adrian is here to handle a will, and he intends to do so—just as soon as he unearths every last secret about the Chapmans, Catharine Walsh . . . and his own very fraught history.

Vividly bringing to life the glitzy era of the 1920s, Newport is a skillful alchemy of social satire, dark humor, and finely drawn characters.

Review by Mirella Patzer
Also visit History and Women for books and bios of some of the world's most fascinating women!

There is lots to love in this exciting new novel set in America's gilded age. A very wealthy, aged widower has decided to marry a very young woman and leave the bulk of his estate to her, and he has summoned his lawyer to officially change the will. Of course, this stirs the ire of the man's adult children who are both plagued with severe personal problems. And why is the patriarch marrying such a young woman? Because his dead wife insists upon it. Of great suspicion is the fact that the dead wife is being channeled by the young fiance's sister. 

Slowly, suspicions arise as secrets are unravelled in this suspenseful story. Nicely written with plenty of plot twists, there is much here to hold your interest from start to finish. A great book to cozy up to!
Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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The Pretender's Lady by Alan Gold

From the author of The Last Testament comes the true love of Bonnie Prince Charlie, her adventures in America and her lasting legacy.

In the page-turning popular genre trail-blazed by Antonia Fraser and Phillippa Gregory, The Pretender’s Lady, Alan Gold’s meticulously researched novel, accurately opens history’s pages on a peerless woman who helped change the course of history and whose legend lives on in Scotland today—Flora MacDonald.

She was the most famous Scotswoman of her day, single handedly saving Bonnie Prince Charlie. This is her fictionalized life story—her relations with the Prince, her flight to America, Ben Franklin’s influence, and her return to Britain to lobby for peace

But what’s hidden from history, revealed now for the first time in Gold’s dazzling new work of fiction, is the result of Flora’s and Charlie’s love: a beautiful and talented boy raised on an American farm. But only she knows his true heritage and his claim to the world’s greatest throne. And only the genius of Ben Franklin understands how to use this naïve boy to change the history of America.

Review by Mirella Patzer
Also visit History and Women for interesting biographies on fascinating women! 

Flora MacDonald

(1722 - 1790)

"A woman of soft features, gentle manners, 
kind soul, and elegant presence...
..a name that will be mentioned in history,
and if courage and fidelity be virtues, 
mentioned with honour."
Dr. Johnson

In Scotland's rich history, Flora MacDonald is revered and remembered to this day as a Jacobite heroine. When Flora was a child, her father died. Back then, bride kidnapping was common, and her mother was soon abducted and married by a man named Hugh MacDonald from Armadaleon the Isle of Skye. In 1746, Flora was 24 years old and the Jacobite Risings was in full swing. After the Battle of Culloden, Bonnie Prince Charlie took refuge on the island of Benbecula where Flora was residing at the time. 

Charles Edward Stuart
(Bonnie Prince Charlie)
Known as the Young Pretender
Captain Conn O'Neill of The Feeva, County Antrim, Prince Charlie's closest friend and confidant asked for her assistance to help the young royal evade capture when he learned her clan was sympathetic to the Jacobite cause. Legend has it that Flora and the Prince fell deeply in love with each other. She was beautiful and he was a dashing lovable rogue. With the help of her stepfather, Hugh MacDonald, who was the commander of the local militia, the charitable Flora agreed to help the handsome prince escape. Her stepfather provided her with a pass to the mainland for her and her entourage which consisted of a manservant, a maid named Betty Burke, and a boat crew that consisted of 6 men. And who was Betty Burke? None other than Bonnie Prince Charlie himself in disguise. 
Soon, they ended up in a town called Kilbride on the Isle of Skye. The prince hid in rocks while Flora went for help. She arranged for him to be taken to Glam on the island of Raasay. However, while she managed the prince's escape, her boatment's loose tongues brought attention. She was arrested for aiding the prince's escape and transported to London where she was under constant supervision by guards. Her part in the escaped gained Flora great fame and popularity. While she languished in jail, Bonnie Prince Charlie fled to France, eventually moving to Rome. Plagued by alcoholism, he suffered through numerous failed relationships until he died in 1788. Fortunately for Flora, the government passed a new law called the Act of Indemnity, so she was released. 
Three years later, she married an army captain called Allan MacDonald of Kingsburgh. They settled down on the Isle of Sky where Flora presented her husband with seven children. When her husband;'s father died, the family moved to the family estate at Kingsburgh. 

Her husband took the family to North Carolina where he served in the 84th Regiment of Foot for the British Government during the American War of Independence. She encourage and urged the regiment as they headed off to the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge, only to learn they had faced defeat and her husband had been captured. That's when poor Flora faced numerous hardships. Although she kept a low profile and hid the best she could, American Patriots ravaged her family plantation and stripped them of all their possessions. Meanwhile, her husband had been held prisoner for two years before a prisoner exchange happened and he was sent to Fort Edward in Windsor, Nova Scotia. He sent for Flora and the family was reunited. 
In 1779 Flora booked passage on a merchant ship in order to go back home to Scotland. During the crossing, a privateer attacked the ship. While the melee was occuring, in order to protect her, she was told to go below deck where she would be safer. She refused and did her part, but suffered a wound in her arm. Upon her return, she visited and stayed with relatives. 
Several years later, her husband returned and they moved back into the family estate at Kingsburgh. She died at Kingsburgh on the Isle of Skye in 1790, at the age of 68 and was buried in the Kilmuir Cemetery on the Isle of Skye. It is greatly rumored that she asked to be buried wraped in Bonnie Prince Charlie's bed sheet. 
Author Alan Gold has meticulously researched Flora's life. The story is accurate, lush, and highly compelling. A definite recommendation! Awesome!

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd

"Camille Iverness met the big man's gaze. Bravely. Boldly. She would not be bullied or manipulated. Not in her own shop." Opening paragraph.

Synopsis:  “It is not just a ruby, as you say. It is large as a quail’s egg, still untouched and unpolished. And it is rumored to either bless or curse whoever possesses it.”
Camille Iverness can take care of herself. She’s done so since the day her mother abandoned the family and left Camille to run their shabby curiosity shop. But when a violent betrayal leaves her injured with no place to hide, Camille must allow a mysterious stranger to come to her aid.
Jonathan Gilchrist never wanted to inherit Kettering Hall. As a second son, he was content to work as the village apothecary. But when his brother’s death made him heir just as his father’s foolish decisions put the estate at risk, only the sale of a priceless possession—a ruby called the Bevoy—can save the family from ruin. But the gem has disappeared. And all trails lead to Iverness Curiosity Shop—and the beautiful shop girl who may be the answer to his many questions.
Caught at the intersection of blessings and curses, greed and deceit, these two determined souls must unite to protect what they hold dear. But when a passion that shines far brighter than any gem is ignited, they will have to decide how much they are willing to risk for their future, love, and happiness.

Review by Mirella Patzer
Also visit History and Women

Author Sarah Ladd mixes mystery with a sweet Regency romance in this fascinating story about a young woman who owns a curiosity shop. The book is filled with interesting characters, several of which have a strong interest in collecting old antiquities or curiosities. At the heart of the plot is a mysterious stolen ruby. Theft, robbery, a stabbing, a plague of Scarlet fever, a magnificent mansion, and compelling protaganists and antagonists made for an excellent read. This is definitely a book for women with a stunning cover and intricate plot. A lovely romantic cozy mystery set in the popular Regency era. A nice easy read!

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Kingmaker: Broken Faith by Toby Clements

An enthralling adventure story, honest and powerful. The Wars of the Roses are imagined here with energy, with ferocity, with hunger to engage the reader." (Hilary Mantel). 

England: October, 1463. The great slaughter of the battle of Towton is two years past, but England is still not at peace. The Northern Parts of the land remain in the hands of the Lancastrian king, while in the south, the princes of the house of York prepare for war. Uneasy alliances are forged and just as quickly broken: a friend one day might be your enemy the next, and through this land, pursued by the Church and the Law, a young man, Thomas, and a young woman, Katherine, must make their way, bearing proof of a secret both sides would kill to learn. Bent on revenge for a past outrage, Thomas and Katherine must turn their backs on their friends and journey to the mighty castle of Bamburgh, there to join a weakened king as he marshals his army to take up arms in one of the most savage civil wars in history: the Wars of the Roses.

If you like books that grip you from the very start, that are fast-paced with fascinating characters, then this is the book for you. Beautifully written, with an exciting plot, this book kept me engaged on every page. Kingmaker: Broken Faith is Book 2, and follows Kingmaker: Winter Pilgrims. Although the two books are supposed to stand alone, I regreted that I had not read book one first, because of the many references in the second book to the earlier story. So I recommend reading these books in order to get the benefit of the full tale. Toby Clements is definitely an author I intend to follow from hereafter. 

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Friday, July 17, 2015

The Wishing Boy by Emma Maxwell McCone

Dublin, 1930's - political unrest between Republicans and the De Valera Government. An art exhibition takes place and contains an unusual painting entitled "The Wishing Boy". Catrin Kilpatrick, the daughter of a well-known business man, admires the unique painting and wants to buy it, but Devlin O'Farell the artist refuses to sell it. Determined to have her way, she travels to Galway where he lives, and plans to make the purchase. Little does she know, Devlin worked for Flan Maguire, the most powerful man in Galway, and Commander of the Galway IRA Brigade. She has walked into the Lion's Den, and will find herself in great danger.

Review by Mirella Patzer
History and Women

When Catrin views a particular painting in an art gallery about a couple and a young boy, she is more than intrigued; she becomes obsessed with owning the painting. Thus begins the search for the enigmatic author, Devlin O'Farell who refuses to sell the painting at any price. But Catrin is determined and she seeks to befriend the author. Slowly, she gains insight into his life and a bond begins to form. Little does she know, she is slowly being drawn into a subversive group led by a harsh man named Flan Maguire. 

The Wishing boy is an excellent story with plenty of plot twists and ever-evolving story lines. This multi-layered novel is easy to read, with interesting characters. Readers can experience a little of the intrigues related to the IRA and how they operate. The unforgettable heroine and a ever-compelling touch of romance, made this a great read. A rich tale indeed. 

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Paperback Version

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Kindle Version

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Monday, July 13, 2015

The Color of our Sky by Amita Trasi


Opening Paragraph..."The memory of that moment hit me like a surging ocean wave - drawing me into it - the sour smell of darkness, those sobs erupting like an echo from a bottomless pit. I had tried to break away from it for so long I had forgotten that places can have memories too. I stood in the dimly lit corridor outside my childhood home and tried to unlock the door. The keys rattled in my hand and fell to the floor. This was proving to be more difficult than I had thought. One deep breath and you will find the courage Papa used to tell me when I was a child. Now, in my mid twenties, here I was, standing outside this locked door, feeling like a child once again."

Synopsis: A sweeping, emotional journey of two childhood friends—one struggling to survive the human slave trade and the other on a mission to save her—two girls whose lives converge only to change one fateful night in 1993. India, 1986: Mukta, a ten-year-old girl from the lower caste Yellamma cult of temple prostitutes has come of age to fulfill her destiny of becoming a temple prostitute. In an attempt to escape this legacy that binds her, Mukta is transported to a foster family in Bombay. There she discovers a friend in the high spirited eight-year-old Tara, the tomboyish daughter of the family, who helps her recover from the wounds of her past. Tara introduces Mukta to a different world—ice cream and sweets, poems and stories, and a friendship the likes of which she has never experienced before. In 1993, Mukta is kidnapped from Tara’s room. Eleven years later, Tara who blames herself for what happened, embarks on an emotional journey to search for the kidnapped Mukta only to uncover long buried secrets in her own family. Moving from a remote village in India to the bustling metropolis of Bombay, to Los Angeles and back again, amidst the brutal world of human trafficking, this is a heartbreaking and beautiful portrait of an unlikely friendship—a story of love, betrayal, and redemption—which ultimately withstands the true test of time.

Review by Mirella Patzer

Heart-wrenching, poignant, powerful, thought-provoking are just a few words that help to describe this amazingly poignant story. It is a tale of two girls, Mukta and Tara, born in different Indian social castes who live together in childhood. Later, unwarranted blame comes between them and Tara blames Mukta for her mother's death. At the same time, the lower caste girl, Mukta, is kidnapped and sold into prostitution, torn from the only family where she found love and safety. As time passes, they grow into womanhood. When Tara learns a family secret, she searches for Mukta to make amends. 

What resounds most in the story are the themese of forgiveness, faith, hope, and love. It makes a powerful statement for the plight of young girls sold into slavery/prostitution. This is truly a profound novel that left me reeling in thought for days afterwards. I can see why it has won international acclaim. An amazing story. Highly recommended.    

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Andrew Joyce - Guest Post

I'm always on the look out for fascinating new authors. Recently I met Andrew Joyce and his novel, Molly Lee intrigues me. Andrew joins us today to tell us a bit more about himself and his writing, and to give us some insight on MOLLY LEE, which is on my to be reviewed list. Welcome Andrew! 

My name is Andrew Joyce, and I write books for a living. I have a new book out entitled MOLLY LEE and it’s averaging 4.9 stars on Amazon and Goodreads with sixty-eight total reviews. Here’s a link if you would like to check it out:

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The story is a female-driven account of a young, naive girl’s journey into an independent, strong woman and all the trouble she gets into along the way.

Now you may possibly be asking yourself, What is a guy doing writing in a woman’s voice? And that is a good question. I can only say that I did not start out to write about Molly; she just came to me one day and asked that I tell her story.

Perhaps I should start at the beginning.

My first book was a 164,000-word historical novel. And in the publishing world, anything over 80,000 words for a first-time author is heresy. Or so I was told time and time again when I approached an agent for representation. After two years of research and writing, and a year of trying to secure the services of an agent, I got angry. To be told that my efforts were meaningless was somewhat demoralizing to say the least. I mean, those rejections were coming from people who had never even read my book.

So you want an 80,000-word novel?” I said to no one in particular, unless you count my dog, because he was the only one around at the time. Consequently, I decided to show them City Slickers that I could write an 80,000-word novel!

I had just finished reading Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for the third time, and I started thinking about what ever happened to those boys, Tom and Huck. They must have grown up, but then what? So I sat down at my computer and banged out REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in two months. Then I sent out query letters to agents.

Less than a month later, the chairman of one of the biggest agencies in New York City emailed me that he loved the story. We signed a contract and it was off to the races, or so I thought. But then the real fun began: the serious editing. Seven months later, I gave birth to Huck and Tom as adults. And just for the record, the final word count is 79,914. The book went on to reach #1 status on Amazon twice, and the rest, as they say, is history.

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But not quite.

My agent then wanted me to write a sequel, but I had other plans. I was in the middle of editing down my first novel (that had been rejected by 1,876,324 agents . . . or so it seemed) from 164,000 words to the present 142,000. However, he was insistent, so I started to think about it. Now, one thing you have to understand is that I tied up all the loose ends at the end of REDEMPTION, so there was no way that I could write a sequel. And that is when Molly asked me to tell her story. Molly was a character that we met briefly in the first chapter of REDEMPTION, and then she is not heard from again.

This is the description for MOLLY LEE:

Molly is about to set off on the adventure of a lifetime . . . of two lifetimes.

It’s 1861 and the Civil War has just started. Molly is an eighteen-year-old girl living on her family’s farm in Virginia when two deserters from the Southern Cause enter her life. One of them—a twenty-four-year-old Huck Finn—ends up saving her virtue, if not her life.

Molly is so enamored with Huck, she wants to run away with him. But Huck has other plans and is gone the next morning before she awakens. Thus starts a sequence of events that leads Molly into adventure after adventure; most of them not so nice.

We follow the travails of Molly Lee, starting when she is eighteen and ending when she is fifty-six. Even then Life has one more surprise in store for her.

As I had wondered whatever became of Huck and Tom, I also wondered what Molly did when she found Huck gone.

I know this has been a long-winded set up, but I felt I had to tell the backstory. Now I can move on and tell you about Molly.

As stated earlier, Molly starts out as a naive young girl. Over time she develops into a strong, independent woman. The change is gradual. Her strengths come from the adversities she encounters along the road that is her life.

With each setback, Molly follows that first rule she set against self-pity and simply moves on to make the best of whatever life throws her way. From working as a whore to owning a saloon, from going to prison to running a ranch, Molly plays to win with the cards she’s dealt. But she always keeps her humanity. She will kill to defend herself and she has no problem killing to protect the weak and preyed upon. However, when a band of Indians (for instance) have been run off their land and have nowhere else to go, Molly allows them to live on her ranch, and in time they become extended family.


This is from a review on Amazon:

A young female in nineteenth-century rural America would have needed courage, fortitude, and firm resolve to thrive in the best of circumstances. Molly Lee possesses all of these, along with an iron will and an inherent ability to read people accurately and respond accordingly.

I reckon that about sums up Molly.

I would like to say that I wrote MOLLY LEE in one sitting and everything in it is my pure genius. But that would be a lie. I have three editors (two women and one guy). They kept me honest with regard to Molly. When I made her a little too hard, they would point out that she had to be softer or show more emotion in a particular scene.

I set out to write a book where every chapter ended with a cliffhanger. I wanted the reader to be forced to turn to the next chapter. And I pretty much accomplished that, but I also wrote a few chapters where Molly and my readers could catch their collective breath.

One last thing: Everything in MOLLY LEE is historically correct from the languages of the Indians to the descriptions of the way people dressed, spoke, and lived. I spend as much time on research as I do in writing my stories. Sometimes more.

Here is a 1200 word excerpt from MOLLY LEE:

That’s the way things stood for the next month. Business increased a little, partly due to my promoting myself as The Spicy Lady and partly because the snows had come. The miners could not work and had to stay with their claims throughout the winter or someone would take them over. I heard that the previous year, a few miners had left for the winter and when they returned, someone was sitting on their claims. It led to a little gunplay resulting in the one getting to his gun first ending up with the mine. With the miners not mining, there was nothing for them to do but go to a saloon and warm their insides with whiskey and their outsides with one of the whores.

I had made no progress with John Stone. He was always polite enough, but that’s as far as it went. It was on a Tuesday night—not that the day of the week matters—that I finally worked up the courage to make a play for him. As usual, he was sitting in his chair watching the room. Over the last few weeks, there had been a few minor altercations, but John always kept things peaceful. Sometimes it took a blunt knock to someone’s head with the stock of his shotgun, other times he had to point the ten gauge in someone’s face. Both methods seemed to work equally well.

I walked over to John and with a nod to the shotgun resting on his lap, I asked, “Won’t you hurt innocent people if you ever have to discharge that thing?”

He didn’t say anything for a minute or so, then he let fly with a stream of tobacco juice out of the side of his mouth, and I’ll be damned if he didn’t hit the spittoon sitting next to his chair dead center. Without taking his eyes from the room, he answered me. “It’s just for show. If you point a ten gauge at a man, most of the time he’ll do what you say. If I ever have to shoot somebody, I'll use this.” He then touched the Colt Dragoon holstered on his hip.

I had just asked him if I could buy him a drink at the end of his shift when a ruckus broke out over at the faro table. I turned around to see what all the commotion was about and saw a man holding a revolver on Chan Harris. “You’ve been cheating me all night. I’ve lost my poke to your double-dealin’ ways, and now I want it back!”

Chan shrugged and started to count out some gold coins. After all, it wasn’t his money, it was mine. He’d give the man his money back and let me worry about it. Smart thinking on his part. But he wasn’t counting fast enough to suit the man holding the gun. The shot, when it came, made all those within the room jump. All, that is, except John Stone.

Chan started to fall to the floor while the other two men at the table dove for cover, as did everybody else in the room except John and me. Before Chan hit the floor, John had the Colt out of its leather, and from his hip put a bullet into the gunman’s heart. Of course, it entered from the back, but no one was complaining, least of all the dead man bleeding onto my floor with two twenty-dollar gold pieces clutched in his left hand.

After the smoked cleared, John said, “I reckon I could use a whiskey after work.”

I ran over to where Chan lay and knelt down to see what I could do to help him, but he was already dead.

The place cleared out fast. A few men stayed and formed a circle around Chan and me. Still kneeling next to him, I looked up into their hard faces. I saw nothing. To them, death on a Tuesday night was just another night out on the town. Maybe a shooting added a little excitement, unless you were the one shot.

I had seen dead men before. There were those two Yankees back at the farm and George Anderson in St. Louis. Mister Fellows died in my arms. I wore his blood on my shirt until the shirt was taken away from me by Crow Mother. I don’t know why, but Chan’s death affected me more than the others had. Maybe because after finding the gold and buying The Spicy Lady, I thought my life would calm down some. Now here I was kneeling over another dead man. A man I didn’t even know that well. But he worked for me, and I thought I should have done better by him. He should not have died making money for me.

I stood up and wanted to tell those still present to leave, but the words would not come. I started trembling and was about to scream when I felt a strong, hard arm around my shoulder and heard a voice, a surprisingly gentle voice considering who it came from, say, “You boys best be getting on; we’ll be closing early tonight.” No one ever argued with John Stone. They all filed out into the cold night.

John took over. When the saloon was empty except for those that worked there, he told Mike and Dave to carry Chan into the back room and lay him out. He ordered me to go to the bar and have Abe pour me a glass of rye.

John was standing over the man he had just killed. I didn’t know what he was thinking and at that point I didn’t care. I was supposed to be a hard woman, but here I was going to pieces. If we hadn’t been snowed in, I would have gotten on my horse that very minute and headed back to Virginia to be held in my mother’s arms.

We didn’t have any law in town. There was no marshal or sheriff. We didn’t even have a mayor. When Mike and Dave came back from laying out Chan, John told them to pick up the other man and throw him out onto the street. “Then go to Chan’s digs and see if there are letters or something to tell us if he had any next of kin. After that, go home.”

He directed Abe and Gus to leave by the back door and lock up as usual. As I’ve said, no one ever argued with John Stone. They all did as instructed.

John got the place closed up and came over to where I sat. He was holding the cash box. “You want to put this in the safe before you go upstairs?”

I looked up at him and started to laugh. I was getting hysterical. John nodded and went into my office. When he returned he said, “I put it on your desk; it’ll be safe enough.” He held out his hand and I took it. He pulled me to my feet and without saying a word, he walked me upstairs.

That night John Stone held me as I cried for Chan Harris . . . and maybe a little for myself.

Well, that’s Molly. I hope I’ve piqued your interest enough to go out and buy my book. If not, I’ll come over and wash your car or maybe even cut your lawn if you’ll click on this link and buy it. 

Thank you, Mirella, for having me over. It’s been a pleasure.

Andrew Joyce

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Gods and Monsters by V.R. Christensen

""Will he come tonight, do you think?" Laynie asked of her sister's reflection in the mirror. Beth's gaze shifted to meet hers momentarily before returning to her own. "Who?" she asked, though Laynie knew she understood her." Opening sentences

Synopsis:  As a widower, Nathanial Durham has the monumental responsibility of finding suitable husbands for his two daughters. Flirtatious and changeable Bethany might have nearly anyone, but she seems determined to toss her suitors away almost the moment they arrive. Laynie, on the other hand, far behind her sister in looks and charm, is of especial concern to her father. And so, when Harold Vaughn returns home to inherit, it seems the problem, at least for one of his daughters, is solved. Only which daughter will it be? Even his girls cannot quite decide, and so, to cool the rivalry, the sisters are sent to an aunt’s, where they are thrown into the path of other young and eligible gentlemen—and a new rivalry begins.

Meanwhile, Mr. Durham, lonely for intelligent companionship, hires a gentleman to read to him several nights a week, but Mr. Holbrook is off limits to his coquettish girls. With varying degrees of reluctance, they honor the agreement. At least Beth does for herself, but if its possible Mr. Holbrook might provide a distraction for her sister while she decides which gentleman she prefers for herself, well...what harm can there be? Some, it seems. When Laynie, accident prone and determined to get herself into any fix that comes her way, falls from a horse, it sets in motion a series of events that expose Mr. Holbrook as a man of questionable integrity. Is it possible Mr. Durham’s hired companion is capable of the wrongs laid at his door? Is it possible Laynie has been mistaken in esteeming him as a man of character? Is it possible to know anyone truly? 

Between the manufactured innocence of a young woman and the championed exploits of every man, what happens when the two opposing doctrines collide?

Review by Mirella Patzer 
History and Women

V.R. Christensen writes masterful novels and/or family sagas set during the height of the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Gods and Monsters is her third stand alone novel that follows the success of her first two books - Of Moths and Butterfiles and Cry of the Peacock. I have read all three books and am a big fan of this author. I especially am drawn to the stunning covers.

What I love about all her novels, and Gods and Monsters is no exception, is that the characters keep me always guessing. They are never truly what they appear to be and are constantly evolving throughout the story. It keeps me on edge, always guessing as to whether I trust or like them or not. Full of surprises, they are very well developed and as real as life.

What makes this novel stand apart is there are two marriageble heiresses and three possible suitors. Interest and flirting and envy and scheming begin between the sexes and I was kept on my toes as to who would end up with who. Hidden motives, secrets, and little intrigues really kept me flipping the pages.

The author is a detailed, meticulous writer, always giving the reader full details of scenery, inner thoughts, and plot. Her prose has a lovely, flowing pace that allowed me to fall into the story and shut out the world as I enjoyed it. A wonderful novel with plenty to keep me interested from start to finish. I recommend these books to everyone. They can be read in any order and are sure to please. And you'll get your money's worth too - they are nice thick volumes with plenty of pages to hold your interest.

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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