Book Blast: The Madness of Mercury by Connie di Marco


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Connie di Marco will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The Zodiac Mysteries feature San Francisco astrologer, Julia Bonatti, who never thought murder would be part of her practice. Julia sought answers and found solace in astrology after the death of her fiancé in a hit and run accident. Since then, she’s successfully built a clientele of the city’s movers and shakers.

In The Madness of Mercury, Julia’s outspoken advice in her newspaper column, AskZodia, makes her the target of a recently-arrived cult preacher who advocates love and compassion to those less fortunate. But the power-hungry preacher is waging war on sin and his Army of the Prophet will stop at nothing to silence those who would stand in his way. Julia is at the top of his list.

Review:
fivestars
A brilliant crime thriller set in San Francisco, a place near and dear to my own heart, being from the Bay Area, The Madness of Mercury follows Astrologer Julia Bonatti as she’s unwittingly wrapped up in a religious cult’s plot to embezzle money out of its followers under the guise of good, Christian charity.

I absolutely adored this book, not only because it was set in my home state, but because the characters were vivid and unique, very much like the city itself. I look forward to exploring di Marco’s other Julia Bonatti novels and would highly recommend this to crime fans.

Excerpt

Wizard had curled into a fetal position on top of a fuzzy throw close to the fireplace. The wind was buffeting the windows so hard the rain sounded like gravel being thrown against the glass. The logs were blazing and I thanked my stars I could snuggle inside tonight with Wizard and work.

Samantha had forwarded about fifty emails from the newspaper to my own AskZodia email address. As a weekly column, there was space for only three or four questions and answers, but now, the editor was considering running it as a daily feature. To keep the column interesting to as large a group of readers as possible, I like to pick a range of ages and problems.

My first pick was a letter from an older man forced into retirement.

Dear Zodia

I’ve worked as a bookkeeper in the corporate world my entire life. I’m 65 and my company forced me to retire. I’m in decent shape financially. I have a good pension and savings, but I don’t know what to do with myself. I’ve tried to find part-time work but no luck. I’ve never felt so lost and useless. Do you see any kind of work on the horizon for me? My birth date is May 4, 1944 at 10:43 PM in Baltimore.
~- Discarded

Poor guy. Worked his whole life and now shoved aside. The man’s birth chart showed Venus as the oriental planet, that is, the planet rising first before the Sun, a position that can sometimes offer a strong clue to the profession. This man was a natural artist, perhaps a craftsman, with his Mars in Virgo. He was someone with artistic yearnings and capable of patient, detailed work.

Dear Discarded:

Your true artistic abilities have never been recognized, much less nourished. A whole new world can open up for you if you would pursue some form of craftsmanship to produce beautiful things. Jewelry design, working in precious metals, is just one possibility that comes to mind. Please take some classes, perhaps at a local university extension and try your hand. I think you’ll be amazed at your abilities and imagination. Believe me, you won’t look back.

~ Zodia

I worked through several more questions and responses and then saved them all. This was hardly a perfect way to practice astrology, but hopefully, my quick judgments and answers would be spot on and help someone head in the right direction. I clicked back to the inbox and realized three more emails had arrived while I had been working.

I didn’t recognize the various senders. My AskZodia address had been set up only for Samantha, but these new emails weren’t from her. My private clients use Julia.Bonatti and my friends use JuliaB. None of them would even know of my AskZodia address. I hesitated. I’m a hopeless non-techie person and rely on my computer for business so I’m very fearful of viruses. I clicked on the button to open the reading pane and scrolled down. A jolt of fear shot through me. The message read, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”

About the Author:
Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries featuring San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti. The Madness of Mercury, the first book in the series will be re-released in October 2020.

Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the author of the national bestselling Soup Lover’s Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime. You can find her excerpts and recipes in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. Connie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime.

Website: http://www.conniedimarco.com
Blog: http://www.conniedimarco.com/blog
Facebook: “https://www.facebook.com/zodiacmysteries/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/askzodia
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1r4fl4U

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08K3JT8P1/ref=dp-kindle-redirect
BN: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-madness-of-mercury-connie-di-marco/1123116591

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Blog Tour: Sannah by Miriam Newman

BookCover_Sannah-AppleTitle: Sannah

Author: Miriam Newman

Genre: Ancient times historical romance

Blurb:

Barely more than a girl, Sannah is taken by a man who is both warrior and shaman in a winter raid on her Stone Age camp. But Memmet believes the spirits have given her to him and he will keep her at any cost.

Two strong people must find the reason they have been brought together, because lives depend upon it.


Review:
fivestars
Having not read many Ancient historical romance novels, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with Sannah, but the cover intrigued me. I had enjoyed historical novels set during the Egyptian, Greek and Roman times, so I decided it would stand to reason, a book set in Ancient times wouldn’t be much different. I was very surprised at how much I did enjoy Sannah, especially the tribal dynamic.

The time period was, however, hard for me to pinpoint and that was probably the only criticism I had for the novel. From the cover, I did expect Middle East, yet still, I wasn’t really sure where the setting was.

However, this did not diminish my reading experience as the descriptions of the characters as well as the setting were enough to keep me drawn into the story. I appreciated the character development and the underlying theme of survival. I would be keen to read more from this author in the future.


Excerpt:

Stumbling through snow, she looked up at the man above her, trying to deduce what sort of monster had taken her.  Not much was visible amid the hooded bearskin except the craggy profile of a man not as young as their young hunters but much younger than Jodiah.  There were two diagonal scars beneath his eyes, too symmetrical to have been caused by injury, and a strip of thumb printed blue paint in a line from the bridge of his nose to his hairline.  Unlike the men of her clan, he had no beard, though shaggy dark hair stuck out at places beneath his hood.  He looked savage and alien.

He was more sun-browned than her men—not one of the fair mountain tribes. Those tribes did not often stray from their mountain camps, anyway, and had no horses.  This rider was something different.  His language was not far removed from hers, since she had been able to understand him.  But he didn’t say a word or look at her except to slow his horse slightly when she stumbled.

That was a more frequent occurrence as biting cold sliced through her hide shoes, even though the fur had been turned to the inside.  Her feet grew cold, then burning hot, then numb as she faltered beside the horse down the slope that led to the lowlands.  Her hands quickly lost all feeling and her breath came hard, then in panting gasps, and apparently he finally heard that.

He stopped his horse, calling to the others, who did the same, granting their captives a precious moment of respite.  Sannah stood, ribs heaving, starting in terror as he dropped down from his horse.  He would cut her throat if she could not keep up, and though perhaps in a way it was a better, she had the instinctive fear of death and jumped back from him.

“No,” he said—just that.  Short, sharp, an unmistakable command.  She froze and he reached for her, one hand gripping the back of her wrap, the other around her leg.  Lifting her easily, he pushed her on top of the horse and forward, almost over its shoulders. “Move.”

Feeling like she would topple off at any moment, she did her best to comply as he mounted behind her.  Reaching around, pinning her with his arms, he picked up the reins, clucking to the horse.  She gasped in alarm and clutched its mane as best she could as it began to walk, but there was nowhere she could go.  She would not fall as long as he held her.

Her feet hung down along the warmth of the heavy-coated horse just as her hands rested on its neck, and eventually she regained some feeling there, but the rest of her was frozen.  As the horse plodded solidly on, followed by the others, the man behind her opened his bearskin, wrapping it around her, sharing its heat. 

But he was an enemy.  He might speak to her or not, might kill her or not, might rape her or not.  Silently, trying not to let him hear, she sobbed in despair.  

He lifted one hand from his reins, pushing it inside her hood, his hand cupping her face.

“Be quiet,” he said.  “No one will hurt you.”

She was too shocked to move, but she did stop crying because tears were freezing on her cheeks.

Saying nothing more, he rode on.


Author Photo (1)About the Author:

Fantasy poetry driven by myths and legends has been my passion for as long as I can remember. I was published in poetry before catching the romance writing bug. I bring that background to my writing along with a lifelong addiction to horses, an 18 year career in various areas of psychiatric social services and many trips to Ireland, where I nurture my muse. My published works range from contemporary fantasy romance to fantasy historical, futuristic, science fiction and historical romance. Currently I live in rural Pennsylvania with a “motley crew” of rescue animals. You can see my books at http://www.miriamnewman.com.


Social Media Links:

Website:       http://miriamnewman.com

Website:       http://thedarkcastlelords.net 

Blog:              http://miriamnewman.com/blog

Blog:              http://thecelticroseblog.blogspot.com

Email:            mrmireland@aol.com

Facebook:    https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMiriamNewman

Twitter:        https://www.twitter.com/miriamnewman

BookBub:    https://www.bookbub.com/authors/miriam-newman-cf7ca8bf-caab-4b7e-a6f2-7dbtr90d9215

Goodreads Author Page:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3146550.Miriam_Newman

Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Miriam-Newman/e/B005DBFZUG 

SANNAH Buy Link:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08CSX2HSB


Giveaway:

Miriam Newman will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Blog Tour: A Prayer for the Broken by Mark Tilbury

I am so pleased I was asked to host as a part of this blog tour for Mark’s release! As many of you know, I’ve been a fan for some time, and oh boy, this one does not disappoint. I honestly think it is his best so far, right next to Abattoir of Dreams. In any case, without further ado…A Prayer for the Broken!


55038004._sy475_Title: A Prayer for the Broken

Author: Mark Tilbury

Genre: Thriller

Blurb: When eleven-year-old John McCormack’s mother is murdered, he is placed in the care of Pastor Ian Stone and his family. Clearwater House is a far cry from the squalid flats he’s been used to, but John soon learns that Pastor Stone’s perverted form of religion is anything but compassionate. As Stone attempts to purify John’s soul of “dangerous levels of toxicity”, it becomes increasingly clear he’s at the mercy of a madman.

Who can John talk to when no one wants to listen?
Who can he trust when all he knows is betrayal?

A Prayer for the Broken is the story of one child’s desperate fight to escape a sadistic killer who has complete control over him.


Review:
fivestars
It is with no massive surprised that a Tilbury novel hits the five star mark (no pun intended) for me. However, if I could award higher than five stars for this brilliant thriller, I would. No, I’m not gushing (okay, maybe a little). From the first page, I was hooked, unable to extract myself from the bath (yes, I read in the bath) until I finished every last page. By the end, I was shaking, terrified, hopeful, and found myself thinking about the book long after it had finished. This is, without a doubt, one of my top two Tilbury novels to date. Hear that, Mark? You’re challenged to utterly FLOOR me next time. Five enthusiastic stars from this reader!


Mark Tilbury Author PicAbout the Author (haha, I still have your picture saved):

Mark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised. After being widowed and raising his two daughters, Mark finally took the plunge and self-published two books on Amazon, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused.

He’s always had a keen interest in writing, and is extremely proud to have had seven novels published by Bloodhound Books. Now self-publishing, Mark has published The Last One To See Her and his most recent book, A Prayer For The Broken. When he’s not writing, Mark can be found playing guitar, reading and walking.

Social media links: 

Website: http://www.marktilbury.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marktilburyauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MTilburyAuthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marktilburyauthor/

Blog Tour: Threads by Charlotte Whitney

BookCover_ThreadsTitle: Threads

Author: Charlotte Whitney

Genre:   Historical Fiction, Women’s Lit, Book Club Lit

Blurb:

It’s a boring, hardscrabble life for three sisters growing up on a Michigan farm during the throes of the Great Depression.  But when young Nellie, digging for pirate treasure, discovers the tiny hand of a dead baby, rumors begin to fly.  Narrated by Nellie and her two older sisters, the story follows the girls as they encounter a patchwork of threatening circumstances and decide to solve the mystery.


Review:
fivestars
I really enjoyed this novel of three sisters growing up during the Great Depression. The way the author wrote each sisters’ point of view, while keeping it appropriate for their ages, took great skill. I have to say, my favorite character was Nellie. I loved her innocence and the way she made up imaginary friends and stories. Miss Whitney has that talent where, even though there are major world events occurring in the background, she focuses on the people living during those events, and envelops you into their lives. Certainly worth the read for any American historical fiction fan.


Excerpt:

When I got home from high school today, Jeepers, I knew immediately that something wasn’t right. Aunt Hazel and Ma were sitting out by the milk house on a couple of turned-over pails, and Irene and Nellie were sitting on the ground close by. All of them were looking towards the lane that goes down to the two meadows and onto the woods and crick. The county sheriff’s car sat empty near the silo. No one was talking. 

Worried, I raced across the yard. Could Pa have gotten hurt? As I ran toward Ma I looked over at the west field and saw Ace and King hitched up to the wagon piled with brush. Rover was sleeping near the wagon. 

It looked like Pa had finished about half of the field, but he was nowhere in sight. Pa never leaves the horses hitched up when he isn’t working. When he comes up for noontime dinner he al- ways puts them in the barnyard so they can rest, too. Naturally, I panicked. 

When Ma saw me running over she jumped up and walked over to me, a strange look on her face. 

“Is Pa all right?” I blurted out. 

“Yes, yes,” Ma answered. “He and Elmer are down in the woods with Sheriff Devlon.” Nellie pushed me aside and threw her arms around Ma’s legs. 

“Nellie thinks there’s a dead baby in the woods,” Irene piped up, all knowingly. “The Sheriff’s gone with them to look at it. Who in their right mind would bury a baby in that woods? Nellie musta gotten it all mixed up.”


Author ImageAbout the Author:

Charlotte Whitney grew up in Michigan and spent much of her career at the University of Michigan directing internship and living-learning programs. She started out writing non-fiction while at the University and switched to romance with I DREAM IN WHITE. A passion for history inspired her to write THREADS A Depression Era Tale chronicling the stories of three sisters on a farm during the throes of the Great Depression. She lives in Arizona, where she loves hiking, bicycling, swimming, and practicing yoga.


BUY LINK: 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/THREADS-Depression-Tale-Charlotte-Whitney-ebook/dp/B07ZBN35JF/ref


Author’s Website:

http://www.charlottewhitney.com

Facebook Author Page:

https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=charlotte%20whitney%20author

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/charlottewhitney65/

LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/charlotte-whitney-8235463a/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/CWhitneyAuthor

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Blog Tour: Fated Always by Becky Flade

Cover_FatedAlwaysTitle: Fated Always

Author: Becky Flade

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Blurb:

Friendship. Secrets. Murder.

When her best friend, Sawyer Gavin, roars into town on his motorcycle, Tala Gael thinks life couldn’t get any better. What she couldn’t have anticipated was his appearance heralding a time of change in her quiet, comfortable existence.

With her life turned upside down, Tala resists Sawyer’s advances, clinging to the familiar.

Tragedy changes her mind, but as she takes the leap of faith into Sawyer’s arms, they find themselves suspects in a murder investigation. And Tala learns she’s not the only person in Trappers’ Cove keeping an impossible secret.

Jealousy is when you worry someone will take what you have; envy is coveting what someone else has; and both can lead to murder.

NOTE: The book is $0.99.


Review:
fourstars
A very sweet, closed door romance with a hint of suspense, Fated Always is a well-written novel with some interesting characters, and a pretty unexpected ending. I appreciated the sort of paranormal nod with Tala’s connection to the wolves. I will certainly look for other novels by this author, and probably take a journey back into the Fated series, even though this novel can be read as a standalone. 


Excerpt:

“How’s the wine?” His lips feathered over hers in a whisper. Twice. On his third pass, Tala’s eyes drifted shut as her body molded itself to his and she deepened the caress. His world spun as she clung to him. I knew it. I’ve always known it. He stepped away, steadying her when she swayed, waited for her eyes to open. “Excellent.”

“What?”

He smiled. “The wine’s excellent.”

Her fingertips rose to her mouth. Her eyes widened, confusion blurred them. He smiled and pulled her into his arms. It was not a passionate embrace. He offered comfort and she held on, squeezing tighter when he placed a gentle kiss at her temple. 

“Are you surprised?” he whispered.

“I have a boyfriend.” 

“I wasn’t expecting that but it’s an easy enough fix.” He tugged her braid. “Come on, Tee. We’re meant to be.”

“No, we’re not.”

She reared out of his arms, panic skating across her features as though threatened. Her reaction struck him like a fist to the gut. He suspected she hadn’t taken him, taken them, from the box where she thought they belonged. She hadn’t considered them from any other perspective. I thought once she saw, once she felt, once she knew, the rest would click into place. “You know that we are.” 

“Stop it! I. Have. A. Boyfriend.” She punctuated each word with a stab of her finger. 

“Fine. I’ll wait.” It’ll kill me. “You’re worth it. We’re worth it,” he stressed before grabbing her wrist and tugging her back into his arms. He held her there, though she didn’t struggle. He kissed her again, pouring his impatience into the kiss. He let her go and strode to the door, pulling it open, letting the cool snap of air scented by forest file past him into her house, and paused.

“You want me to stop?”

She nodded. 

“Then stop kissing me back.”


About the Author: 

When I was little I thought everyone had stories in their head. When I found out that wasn’t true and that only special people had stories to tell, I wanted to be one of the people who shared their stories with the world. Here I am, making my own dreams come true, one happily ever after at a time. 

I’d love to have you visit with me at any of my virtual homes or write to me directly at beckyfladeauthor@gmail.com 

Social Media Links:

https://beckyflade.blogspot.com/ 

https://www.facebook.com/BeckyFlade 

https://twitter.com/beckyflade 

https://www.instagram.com/beckyflade/

Sign up for my quarterly newsletter & be entered for a chance to win a free book (one winner per month)!  http://eepurl.com/7WDZj 


Purchase links for Fated Always:

Kindle US http://www.amzn.com/B08CMNRKLF 

Kindle UK https://amzn.to/2VZwMVZ 

Kindle CA https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B08CMNRKLF

Kindle AU https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B08CMNRKLF 

Nook https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fated-always-becky-flade/1137311546

Apple https://books.apple.com/us/book/fated-always/id1522714448

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/fated-always

Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1031829


Becky Flade will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Blog Tour: When Lions Roar by Karen Leigh Gruber

Cover_When Lions RoarTitle: When Lions Roar

Author: Karen Leigh Gruber

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

Two women from different lands, each struggling to survive; a child’s mysterious disappearance will alter both their lives forever…

Maggie has become unrecognizable to herself, succumbing to the predictability of being a mother and wife. Every day she reminds her daughter to brush her teeth, has the same conversation with her husband about what’s for dinner. Maggie struggles to cope with the disenchantment of the monotonous tedium that has become her life. Despite her boredom, when her husband David is called on assignment to South Africa, Maggie resents having to rearrange her life just because David has decided they all need to traipse halfway across the globe.

While on safari, Maggie awakens one morning to a mother’s worst nightmare; their daughter Hannah has gone missing. Just when things can’t get any worse, Maggie is confronted with the harsh truth of her emotionally abusive marriage and what she has allowed her life to become.

When Lions Roar is set against the backdrop of the exotic and intriguing landscape of South Africa, when the country is reeling from the aftershocks of apartheid. Will Maggie find the strength and courage to abandon the fragile ties of her marriage and confront her self-destruction in time to save the life of her daughter?


Review:
fourstars
This novel certainly wasn’t what I expected. It did leave me with a few questions about what really happened to Hannah while she was missing, however, there was an interesting parallel story to Maggie’s, based in African folklore, which encompasses the second half of the book. It almost feels more fantasy than women’s fiction. I also wondered what happened to Maggie’s husband in the end, as he didn’t seem to be a man who didn’t want to lose control of a situation. Overall, I have mixed feelings about the novel, however, I would be curious to read more by this author as her style is unique.


EXCERPT:

As we enjoyed our breakfast, my mind tended to wander. That morning, as I looked at my divine daughter, a million thoughts came rushing in. She is so kind, so smart, and so emotionally in tune, this young girl. As I watched her interact with the world and the people within it, I was touched by how compassionate and thoughtful she is. She was so respectful and engaging of the people around her, whether it’s a peer, a person of authority, and especially now, the personnel catering to our every need here in our little hotel bubble. Between the culture, the language, and the accents, there were challenges in communication. Hannah had a smile for everyone, and they, in turn, lit up when she spoke to them. Her demeanor truly reflected that a stranger was just someone she hadn’t met yet, and everyone we encountered responded in kind. I couldn’t help but be so proud of her. I thought back to all the moms I knew who insisted they could never travel that far away with their kids, which made me sad for them because I didn’t think I could ever travel that far away without her. She was such a wonderful travel companion. 

Getting to experience the world through her eyes was a true gift.


About the Author: Karen Gruber is an international #1 best-selling contributing author, inspirational speaker, and a Leadership Development Coach for women and moms. She specializes in inspiring moms to realize their potential as mothers, women, and leaders. Karen has had extensive specialized training in parenting, feminine spirituality, and leadership.  Over the past 15 years she has provided innovative leadership coaching for moms and has dramatically transformed her own life.

Sharing her life with her husband Jim and daughter Jaymie, presenting her message to other women, and traveling the world bring her the greatest joy.

She is the founder of The Inspired Mama, a company located in gorgeous Denver, Colorado that focuses on the inspiration, leadership, and wellbeing of women and moms.

When Lions Roar is Karen’s debut fictional work. She is freakish about Christmas lights and loves to play Baccarat.  

Social Media Links:

Website: https://theinspiredmama.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karen.kraussgruber

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/inspiredmama/

Book Pre-sale: https://theinspiredmama.com/product/when-lions-roar-pre-sale-copy/ 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/When-Lions-Karen-Leigh-Gruber/dp/1734976004


GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.

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Book Blitz: Sleeping with the Enemy by Jackie Barbosa



This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Jackie Barbosa will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

When Mrs. Laura Farnsworth discovers the blood-stained body of a man wearing the distinctive red coat of the British army, her first instinct is to let dead dogs lie. It has, after all, been just two days since the Battle of Plattsburgh, and the disposition of enemy corpses is hardly her purview. But then the man proves himself to be very much alive by grabbing her ankle and mumbling incoherently.

After almost twenty-five years in His Majesty’s service, Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Langston never expected to wake up in heaven, much less being tended by an angel. But when he regains consciousness in the presence of a beautiful, dark-haired woman and with no memory of how he came to be there, what else can he think? Except it’s rather odd for an angel to have an American accent.

As the long-widowed Laura nurses the wounded Geoffrey back to health, the attraction between them heats from a simmer to a boil. Bound by his oath to the British crown, Geoffrey should be working to find his way back to his regiment and from the, to England. Instead, he’s sleeping with the enemy…and thereby committing the crime of desertion if not treason. But then, who’s going to find out?

If only Geoffrey didn’t have a family back home who refuse to take “missing in action” for an answer.

Read an Excerpt

Well, that had been entirely inappropriate!

Flustered and overheated, Laura grabbed the empty wicker bread basket from the center of the heavy oak dining table and flopped into one of the nearby chairs, waving the basket in front of her face as a makeshift fan.

What on earth had come over her in there? One moment she had been engaged in the innocuous—although admittedly intimate—chore of giving a man a shave, and the next she had been seconds from lifting her skirts and riding him like a hobby horse.

Oh, very well, not quite like a hobby horse.

For heaven’s sake, she was a respectable widow with a nearly adult son, not a reckless girl in the first flush of infatuation. The last time she’d felt anything like this mad rush of desire, she had been nineteen and newly introduced to Samuel Farnsworth, the handsomest man she had ever met. Back then, she had not fully grasped the significance of the sensations that flooded her whenever she was with Samuel, just that she wanted more of them. Only after he introduced her to the pleasures of the marital bed did she appreciate how clever her body had been in recognizing her mate. Her only mate. Or so she had believed.

But now the handsomest man she had ever met slept in the bed she’d once shared with her husband, wearing nothing but a nightshirt, and she knew what she was missing. Truly understood the signals her body was sending her.

She wanted Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Langston.

About the Author:
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer when I grew up, but there were plenty of times when I wasn’t sure I ever would be. As it turns out, it just took me about twenty years longer to grow up than I expected!

On the road to publication, I took a few detours, including a stint in academia (I hold an MA in Classics from the University of Chicago and was a recipient of a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities) and many years as a technical writer/instructional designer for a data processing company. I still hold my day job, but my true vocation has always been writing fiction and romance in particular.

I’m a firm believer that love is the most powerful force in the world, which that makes romance the most powerful genre in the world. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise!

Website: http://www.jackiebarbosa.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jackiebarbosa
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JackieBarbosaAuthor/

Buy Links for Sleeping with the Enemy

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B085GK6Y1T
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/sleeping-with-the-enemy-39
BN: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sleeping-with-the-enemy-jackie-barbosa/1136596890
Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/sleeping-with-the-enemy/id1501443490?ls=1

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Blog Tour: Blackhorse Road by Merida Johns

BookCover_Blackhorse RoadTitle: Blackhorse Road

Author: Merida Johns

Genre: Women’s fiction romance

Blurb:

Under another hand, Blackhorse Road could all too easily have been a singular romance. Johns provides more as she follows Luci down the rabbit hole and out the other side of life experience, bringing readers into a world where . . . transgression changes everything and challenges carefully-constructed foundations of belief and values. As Luci lets go of her lifesavers and navigates obstacles to happiness, her story becomes a vivid portrait of hope and self-examination which ultimately moves into unexpected territory. Novel readers seeking a tale that closely considers deception and forgiveness, love gained and lost, and family ties will welcome the multifaceted Blackhorse Road’s ability to come full circle in a satisfyingly unexpected way. – D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

It’s the turbulent mid-1960s, and Luci, an eighteen-year-old Southern California girl, is on the quest for self-determination and new beginnings. Three powerful forces influence her values: the grit of her Irish great-grandmother, Lucinda McCormick; the philosophy of choice of her father, Sam; and the 1960s ideals of equity and altruism. But potent foes thwart Luci at every turn. Her budding romance with a handsome United States Air Force Academy cadet sets the stage for conflict and deception that last for two decades. When Luci discovers how her autonomy and her love affair were hijacked, she struggles with anger and bitterness. But from a surprising source, she finds a forgiveness path that restores her well-being and hope and, in the end, faith in herself.


Review:
fourstars
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with Blackhorse Road, but I love stories about California’s history, having grown up there. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, feeling keenly for Luci as she struggled against her manipulative mother, and how she thrived in the comfort of her father. Her instant connection with Barry was relatable for me, certainly.

It was also fascinating to read about how women’s roles changed throughout the late 1960s. I liked the stories of the family’s past as well, showing a thread of strong women who bucked the norms. Definitely an author I would read again.


Excerpt:

The cranky engine revved as the driver shifted gears, and the military bus crawled forward exiting the air force base. Along a narrow and dark roadway, the vehicle increased its speed and left the MPs at the gate standing immobile and mute in the glow of the rising moon. Drifting through the open windows, the Southern California desert air blew like pixie dust across the faces of the thirty young women headed home from the street dance. A few hours ago, they were preening and adjusting their bouffant hairdos, reapplying creamy pink lipstick, and placing the last twirls of mascara on their eyelashes to prepare for a street dance with cadets from the elite Air Force Academy. Then, the atmosphere buzzed with gossip, chatter, laughter, and anticipation. Now, the glimmering night sky created the perfect backdrop that lulled each into a contented silence to fantasize about the handsome men they had met.

“This is the beginning of my story about love and betrayal and a journey toward empathy, compassion, and forgiveness. It is also a story of choice—my choice to be inspired by the resilience of a great-grandmother, the values of a father, and the wisdom of a spouse. But in the end, it is a story of how a letter of gratitude . . . reminded me to open my heart to love and kindness.”


author photoAUTHOR Bio and Links:

Merida Johns takes her experience as an educator, consultant, and businesswoman and writes about the human experience. In 2018 Merida took an unlikely off-ramp from writing textbooks and motivational books to authoring women’s fiction. Her stories are learning lessons where awareness and curiosity transport readers to the most unexpected places within themselves.  Merida hails from Windsor, Ontario, Canada, grew up in Southern California and has lived from coast-to-coast in the United States.  Besides writing, she enjoys fabric arts, including weaving and knitting. She makes her home in the serene Midwest countryside that gives her the inspiration and space for storytelling.

Website:  http://www.MeridaJohnsAuthor.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MeridaJohnsAuthor/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/meridajohns

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Merida-L.-Johns/e/B001IU2KBS

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/shop/MeridaJohns

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Blog Tour: The Last Collection by Jeanne Mackin

Cover_The Last CollectionTitle: The Last Collection

Author: Jeanne Mackin

Genre: Historical Romance

BLURB: An American woman becomes entangled in the intense rivalry between iconic fashion designers Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli in this captivating novel from the acclaimed author of The Beautiful American.

Paris, 1938. Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli are fighting for recognition as the most successful and influential fashion designer in France, and their rivalry is already legendary. They oppose each other at every turn, in both their politics and their designs: Chanel’s are classic, elegant, and practical; Schiaparelli’s bold, experimental, and surreal.

When Lily Sutter, a recently widowed young American teacher, visits her brother, Charlie, in Paris, he insists on buying her a couture dress—a Chanel. Lily, however, prefers a Schiaparelli. Charlie’s beautiful and socially prominent girlfriend soon begins wearing Schiaparelli’s designs as well, and much of Paris follows in her footsteps.

Schiaparelli offers budding artist Lily a job at her store, and Lily finds herself increasingly involved with Schiaparelli and Chanel’s personal war. Their fierce competition reaches new and dangerous heights as the Nazis and the looming threat of World War II bear down on Paris.


Review:
fivestars
A vivid exploration of fashion at the cusp of WWII, The Last Collection is exquisitely written, focusing around the three primary colors: blue, red, and yellow. I was captivated from the first page, and completely drawn in to Lily’s unusual experiences with Schiap and Coco.

This book is not rushed, exploring the theme beautifully, each color evolving as Lily does. Some other reviews say the story is unbelievable, but that’s why it’s fiction based around a historical context. The Last Collection is a prime example of how historical fiction should be written, with care. The slow burn and an amazing story that is definitely worth the read.


Interview with the Author:

If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?

Time travel, definitely!  I love historical fiction because it has that quality of transportation, taking us to a different time and place.  I’d love to have dinner with Ben Franklin (he was quite the ladies’ man), talk with Eleanor of Aquitaine about courtly love, be there on the opening night of The Cotton Club in Harlem, hear Jenny Lind sing. When I was writing The Last Collection, sitting down at my desk was like fastening my seat belt and going to Paris of the 1930’s.

What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?

I study belly dancing.  I was really active as a child and need to move. A lot. But after a certain age the knees don’t enjoy ballet classes as much as they used to, right?  One day I needed to do something light-hearted and even a little silly and decided to try belly dancing. And I fell in love with it. The music is wonderful, there’s a wide variety of styles (I prefer Turkish) and the chink-chink of the sequined hip scarves is absolutely enthralling.  It’s an art form by women, for women.

When writing descriptions of your heroine, what feature do you start with?

Psychologically, I start with her current frame of mind. Is she happy?  Anxious?  Something must happen immediately to challenge that frame of mind. A letter arrives. A phone rings. A train pulls out of a station.  And the story begins. Physically, I first imagine the eyes. Eyes say so much, their color, the shape, if they look rested or not.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I hate having to develop outlines.  Usually, I’ll start with a single paragraph with a beginning and ending date for the story line (which usually changes several times during the drafting of the book) and a few sentences about the situation of the protagonist, who the antagonist is, the main action…and go from there.  The first page of every novel is always one of the most exciting moments of my life, because I never know what exactly is going to show up. I love being surprised.

Did you learn anything from this book? If so, what?

Germans prisoners of war were housed in this country, after the English camps got too full.  And as it turned out, the first home my mother and father had after the war was in a camp built for German prisoners. It had been repurposed as an apartment complex.  It was an awful place and my mother was miserable, but there were few other housing options at the time. What also surprised me during the research was finding out how many of the rich and powerful, in England, France and the United States as well, were admirers of Hitler. Like many wars, World War II was about class and wealth as well as ideology.  I think it’s important to know, and to remember, that borders were quite blurred in the 1930’s and 1940’s; it wasn’t as clear as we may think. And we need to remember that once we give people in power permission to imprison and eradicate one group of people, we give them permission to do that to everybody. Justice and compassion must rule.


About the Author:

Jeanne Mackin’s latest novel, The Last Collection, A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel takes the reader to Paris, just before world war II, and the intense, dangerous rivalry between the two queens of fashion. Her previous novels include A Lady of Good Family, the award winning The Beautiful American, The Sweet By and By, Dreams of Empire, The Queen’s War, and The Frenchwoman.        

Her historical fictions explore the lives of strong women who change their worlds…because we know the world always needs a lot of change! She has worked all the traditional ‘writers’ jobs’ from waitressing to hotel maid, anything that would leave her a few hours each morning for writing. Most recently, she taught creative writing at the graduate level.  She has traveled widely, in Europe and the Middle East and can think of no happier moment than sitting in a Paris café, drinking coffee or a Pernod, and simply watching, while scribbling in a notebook.

JeanneMackin.com

Facebook.com/JeanneMackinauthor

Twitter.com/JeanneMackin1

Penguin Random House – https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/531859/the-last-collection-by-jeanne-mackin/

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H71Q5FQ/ref=dp-kindle-redirect

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Oh, What a Bloody War: Amputations and the Advent of the Prosthesis Industry during the American Civil War.

“At an age when appearances are reality, it becomes important to provide the cripple with a limb which shall be presentable in polite society, where misfortunes of a certain obtrusiveness may be pitied, but are never tolerated under the chandeliers.” Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1863.

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Veterans John J. Long, Walter H. French, E. P. Robinson, and an unidentified companion, 1860s Courtesy Library of Congress

The Civil War was one of the bloodiest engagements in American history, with approximately 620,000 soldiers dying from combat, accident, starvation, and disease. Some studies even put the number as high as 850,000. Nearly 500,000 men were injured in the conflict, many later dying from medical procedures that were meant to save their lives. One such procedure undertaken with shocking frequency was the amputation of limbs, which accounted for approximately three-quarters of the surgeries performed during the war.

One of the key reasons for the upsurge in amputations was the advancements in military weaponry at the time. Prior this period in history, the rifles used in fighting were predominantly smoothbore. It wasn’t until the 1830s that a man named Captain John Norton observed how a certain tribe in India used a softer wood for the lower part of their blowguns, allowing greater range of fire because the wood compacted around the projectile. Based on this concept, he designed a cylindrical bullet with a flat base, that trapped the gasses behind it. The idea was later improved upon by a man named William Greener. However, the true bane of Civil War soldiers was created by Claude-Étienne Minié and Henri-Gustave Delvigne in 1849.

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Minie Ball

Commonly known as the minié (min-YAY or Minnie) ball, this conical projectile was smaller, longer, and easier to load. When coupled with the new grooved barrels of the rifles Minié and Delvigne designed, it was deadly. It made its way to the United States after being observed in use by several American officers in the Crimean War from 1853 to 1855, most notably by General George B. McClellan. James Burton, an armorer in Harpersferry, Virginia improved upon the design (again), and a form of the minié ball was adopted by both sides of the American Civil War—Union and Confederate.

To begin with, smoothbore muskets were still the weapon of choice for battle, but as the war raged on, rifled muskets soon replaced smoothbore, with the industrialized North being able to produce these weapons at an alarming rate. They outshot their earlier cousins by approximately 200 yards, and with deadly accuracy.

What made the minié ball so devastating was how it compacted and then expanded upon hitting a target. Where a round ball would break bone and damage tissue, a minié ball tore violently through arteries and skin, shattering bone underneath, often leading to the injured soldier requiring amputation of the affected limb. If the soldier was shot in the main part of his body or his head, he wasn’t expected to survive.

A medical textbook published a decade after the Civil War, A System of Surgery by William Todd Helmuth, went into detail about the damage caused by the minié ball:

“The effects are truly terrible; bones are ground almost to powder, muscles, ligaments, and tendons torn away, and the parts otherwise so mutilated, that loss of life, certainly of limb, is almost an inevitable consequence.

None but those who have had occasion to witness the effects produced upon the body by these missiles, projected from the appropriate gun, can have any idea of the horrible laceration that ensues. The wound is often from four to eight times as large as the diameter of the base of the ball, and the laceration so terrible that mortification [gangrene] almost inevitably results.”

civil-war-kit

A surgeon’s kit from the American Civil War

Amputations often took place in battlefield tents, fear of infection prompting the procedure. The doctors on either side were ill-prepared for such surgeries, however medical texts at the time do document how to perform amputations. The conditions were far from ideal for such a drastic medical procedure. The patients would lay on planks or removed doors, given chloroform or whiskey. Hollywood has been known to exaggerate these procedures, showing men screaming in agony, but the use of pain medication was widespread. Limbs, hands, and feet were removed by cutting in a circular motion, surprisingly resulting in little blood loss. Some surgeons even cut flaps of skin to create a covering for the wound, stitching them together after the injured limb was removed. A good surgeon could amputate a limb in ten minutes. Surgical tools were often unwashed between patients, leading to the spread of infection and subsequent death of many soldiers after the amputation. Many soldiers begged not to have the doctors remove limbs, leading to the nickname of ‘Butcher’ for many of the surgeons at the time.

If a patient managed to survive the operation—mortality rate for a primary amputation was around forty-eight percent—he would be left with questions about his future: how would make a living, continue his hobbies, or even marry? To many people in the late nineteenth century, amputation was also sign of character, where the general populous would assume the subject had been morally degenerate or involved in a physical altercation. Approximately 30,000 Union soldiers lost limbs during the war, with just about 21,000 surviving the procedure. Confederate records are unknown, as when the government fled Richmond at Grant’s Army advancing, they burned all paperwork, but it is estimated the number of amputees was approximately 40,000.

A demand was launched for ways to help the returning soldiers regain some normality—and comfort—and the great race was on to design the best prosthesis. Prosthetic limbs have been around since the Egyptians and Romans, with the earliest example of a prosthesis being a big toe, found in the tomb of a noblewoman. As with most things, though, the need for prosthetics usually circled around war. Between the 1500s and 1800s, there were not many advances in the area, with many of the limbs similar to things that were used during Roman times. In the early sixteenth century, Ambroise Paré, a doctor in France, came up with a locking knee joint and a hinged prosthetic hand. However, his ways of attaching these limbs are still commonly used to this day. Needless to say, there wasn’t much going on in the way of technological advancements when it came to prosthetics for nearly 300 years.

With the vast number of amputees, the government made a vow to provide assistance, unveiling ‘the Great Civil War benefaction,’ a commitment to provide prosthetics to all disabled war veterans. With the lure of government aid, many entrepreneurs took to the challenge of creating something physically appealing and functional. However, with the most common supplies being wood and steel, comfort—despite the claims of the manufacturers—was a great issue, and many soldiers preferred continuing to use crutches, or pin up the sleeves of their coats.

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James Edward Hanger

Interestingly, it was a Confederate amputee, James Edward Hanger, who made the greatest stride in developing a prosthesis. Fed up with the peg given to him by Union surgeons after the amputation of his leg, Hanger developed a substitute leg with a flexible knee and ankle joint, allowing for greater range of movement. He was awarded several patents by the Confederate government at the time, and later, in 1891, awarded a US patent for his design. The company he founded is still active today, providing prosthetics and orthotics to many disabled peoples and veterans.

Unfortunately, prosthetics were not the solution for all amputees. Soldiers who had their arms removed often were faced with clunky appliances that did not lend themselves well to daily life. Often, they opted to learn to use their non-amputated arm, or in the case of double amputees, learn other ways to get on with their day-to-day living. Some struggled with learning to walk with their new legs, thinking they would be able to jump up straight away. One soldier described it as if he was a baby, walking for the first time.

The United States government created a stipend programs to make sure all veterans could afford to buy a prosthetic limb. In 1862, the Federal government allotted Union veterans $75 to buy an artificial leg and $50 to buy an artificial arm. By 1864, the Confederacy was also allocating funds for their injured veterans. However, some of the soldiers refused to take the charity, believing their amputated limbs were marks of bravery in a hard-fought battle.

In addition to funding for artificial limbs, the government looked for ways to employ injured soldiers, creating the invalid corps where the men could work as cooks, nurses, and prison guards. Those with less grievous injuries were sent back to the front. Unfortunately, these men were the subject of much mockery, being dubbed the ‘cripple brigade’ and unable to claim the reenlistment bonus given to men serving their second time with the military forces or the bonus afforded to new recruits. Eventually, the unit was renamed to the Veteran Reserve Corps to avoid further mockery.

War in any context is a horrific event. Eventually, the call for the minié ball along with other soft lead bullets to be banned was made in 1870s, stating that it was comparable to an exploding bullet. Still, the technology advanced, rendering muzzle loading weapons obsolete as manufacturers progressed to breach loading weapons, which could be reloaded much faster than their earlier cousins. However, the rifled barrel and conical bullet changed the face of warfare forever. Yet, today, we can grateful to men like Hanger for his advances made in artificial legs, as his initial designs were the model for many prosthetics to follow.

As Harvard historian Catherine Drew Gilpin Faust said, “The American Civil War produced carnage that has often been thought reserved for the combination of technological proficiency and inhumanity characteristic of a later time.” And still, the advances made during the time, thanks to the need to help disabled soldiers, could almost be described as monumental.

Still, it is a fair question to ask if the minié ball, with its unique shape and ability to maim and kill from a greater distance and with greater accuracy than its predecessors, had not been invented, would there have been the need for the prosthesis industry to advance as it did during after the American Civil War? With more powerful weapons comes the need for new medical technology to keep up with the level of destruction and harm inflicted on the bodies of those fighting the battles. With this in mind, it is no wonder the American Civil War has been known as the deadliest conflict in the country’s history.

Consulted Sources:

After the Amputation: National Museum of Civil War Medicine. Retrieved from http://www.civilwarmed.org/prosthetics/

A History of Wartime Advancements in the Prosthetic Industry. Retrieved from https://history.libraries.wsu.edu/fall2016-unangst/2016/12/16/a-history-of-wartime-advancements-in-the-prosthetic-industry/

Minié Ball: HistoryNet. Retrieved from http://www.historynet.com/minie-ball

Statistics on the Civil War and Medicine. Retrieved from https://ehistory.osu.edu/exhibitions/cwsurgeon/cwsurgeon/statistics

The History of Prosthetics. Retrieved from http://unyq.com/the-history-of-prosthetics/

Wegner, Ansley Herring. Amputations in the Civil War. Tar Heel Junior Historian. Fall 2008. Retrieved from https://www.ncpedia.org/history/cw-1900/amputations

Check out Simple Blessings, the short story prequel to The Soldier’s Secret, available on Amazon via my books section!