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Scent of the Soul – A Riveting Must Read by Julie Doherty

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Scent of the Soul

Julie Doherty

Genre: Historical Romance

Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing

Date of Publication:  February 11, 2015

ISBN:  978-1-61935-705-1

ASIN: B00SZ0SKUE

Number of pages: 288

Word Count:  91,000

Cover Artist: Leah Suttle

Book Description:

In twelfth century Scotland, it took a half-Gael with a Viking name to restore the clans to their rightful lands. Once an exile, Somerled the Mighty now dominates the west. He’s making alliances, expanding his territory, and proposing marriage to the Manx princess.

It’s a bad time to fall for Breagha, a torc-wearing slave with a supernatural sense of smell.

Somerled resists the intense attraction to a woman who offers no political gain, and he won’t have a mistress making demands on him while he’s negotiating a marriage his people need. Besides, Breagha belongs to a rival king, one whose fresh alliance Somerled can’t afford to lose.

It’s when Breagha vanishes that Somerled realizes just how much he needs her. He abandons his marriage plans to search for her, unprepared for the evil lurking in the shadowy recesses of Ireland—a lustful demon who will stop at nothing to keep Breagha for himself.

Book Trailer:  https://youtu.be/dBuB3WC3FGU 

Available at   Amazon    Amazon UK    Amazon Canada

REVIEW:Scentcover

I’m going to get right to the point. READ SCENT OF THE SOUL.

I can’t imagine anyone not liking this book. Ms. Doherty displays incredible talent for building a living, breathing world that seduces your senses and tantalizes your mind with rich imagery. Rather than bore the reader with paragraphs of descriptive prose, she subtly layers elements into each scene, making them an intricate part of the story.

SCENT OF THE SOUL highlights a real life Scottish warlord, Somerled, and his fictional romance with a slave girl, Breagha, blending historical fiction and romance, tempered with a bit of mysticism. This is romance with teeth – a gripping, well written tale set in 12th century Scotland. The author has obviously done a lot research which is evident in the authentic details of the period.

Somerled and the cast of characters are portrayed with depth and flaws, exactly what one would expect in a top-notch novel. Everything has a purpose in this book, right down the tiniest detail which adds new meaning to the term “tightly woven”.

I’m truly impressed with Julie Doherty’s style and ability to pen a riveting story. This is easily a five star book.

Excerpt:

As Godred’s oarsmen shoved off from the jetty, Somerled wondered if there was any man less suitable to deliver a marriage proposal. Godred of Dublin was coarse, marginally Christian—indeed, marginally sane—and easily riled. Nevertheless, King Olaf liked him, and for that reason alone, Somerled had selected him as his envoy.

“No side trips,” Somerled shouted before Godred was too far away to hear. “Ye have three places to go and that’s it: the Isle of Man, your clan, and back here.” Godred was prone to unscheduled detours.

Unless bad weather or the scent of easy plunder pulled Godred and his thirty oarsmen off course, Somerled would have Olaf’s answer in a few days. If Olaf agreed to the marriage, Somerled would add a wife to the items decorating his new castle at Finlaggan and eventually, the Isle of Man to his expanding area of influence.

The nobles would respect him then. Half-breed or not.

Behind him, a door squealed on one of the two guardhouses standing sentinel over the Sound of Islay. The small building spat out Hakon, his chief guard, another man of Dublin birth and temperament. Hakon strode the length of the jetty to join him. “I have every confidence the Norns will weave Godred a successful journey, my lord king,” he said, his words puffing white clouds above his tawny sheepskin cape.

“If your goddesses have woven anything, it’s an unfortunate headwind,” Somerled said. “Godred is forced to tack.” He closed his cloak and secured it at his throat with a brooch he once plucked from a Viking who no longer needed it. “The wind promises hail. My proposal will be delayed.”

“Aye, likely,” Hakon said, his hair and beard whipping into copper clouds, “but it will hasten Olaf’s reply. Do not despair, my lord. Ragnhilde will marry ye soon enough.”

Despair? Somerled stifled a laugh. Did Hakon think he had feelings for a lassie he had never met? He was about to tease his guard about being a romantic when Hakon stiffened.

“Another ship,” Hakon said, looking past Somerled’s shoulder.

Somerled spun around to inspect the northwestern waters of the channel separating Jura and Islay—the jewel of the Hebrides and the island that served as the seat of his burgeoning kingdom. “Where?” he asked, squinting.

Hakon thrust a finger toward the fog bank blanketing the horizon. “There, at the promontory, in that pale blue strip of water. See it?”

At first, Somerled saw nothing but swooping terns and ranks of swells. Then, an unadorned sail appeared. It crested on a wave, dipped low, and vanished.

“Should I sound the horn?” Hakon asked.

Somerled raked his fingers through the coarse, wheaten mess slapping at his eyes and held it at his nape while he considered his response. Behind them, the signal tower on Ben Vicar was smoke-free. Across the sound, the towers on the frosty Paps of Jura were likewise unlit, although clouds partially obscured their peaks. The Paps had a commanding view. If a signal fire blazed anywhere, the men stationed there would have seen it and lit their own.

“My lord king, should I sound the horn?” Hakon impatiently palmed the battle horn dangling at his broad chest.

Men began to gather on the jetty.

“Let us wait. It is only one ship, and it looks to be a trader. The signal fires would blaze by now if it were someone worthy of our concern.” Somerled glanced back at the mud and thatch cottages shouldering against one another. At their doors, the bows of half his impressive fleet rested on the shoreline, a sandy slip extending well into the distance. The rest of his ships sheltered at the far side of Islay, in Loch Indaal. A signal fire would deploy them quickly and, perhaps, needlessly.

“Alert the village. Have Cormac ready Dragon’s Claw,” he said, “but send only the nyvaigs for now.” The nyvaigs were smaller, but no less deadly. They would be out and back quickly.

Hakon sprinted through the gathering crowd and past the guardhouses. He leapt over a pile of rocks with surprising agility for a man of his years and size. In no time, specialized warriors and oarsmen were boarding the boats. A pony thundered inland, its rider instructed to warn, not panic, the people of Finlaggan.

Though Somerled carried his mighty sword, he had dressed for warmth, not battle. His mail shirt, aketon, and helmet hung in his bedchamber, two miles away in Finlaggan. He singled out a boy in the crowd. “Lad, find me a helmet and a shield, and be quick about it.”

The boy shot like an arrow toward the cottages.

Somerled held his breath as he watched the nyvaigs head out. At the first flash of steel, he would blow the battle horn. His men would light the towers and he would board Dragon’s Claw. The foreigner would be sorry he entered the Sound of Islay.

The ship’s features were barely discernible, but he could see that its high prow lacked a figurehead. He was trying to identify the banner fluttering on its masthead when the ship’s sail dropped and scattered gulls like chaff in the wind. His heart hammered against his chest as he waited for the foreign vessel to sprout oars; it didn’t. It stalled—a sign its crew had dropped anchor.

Dragon’s Claw bobbed next to him at the jetty, her top rail lined with colorful shields and her benches holding sixty-four of his savage warriors. Cormac gripped the tiller, but he would move aside when Somerled barked the order to do so. He would serve as his own shipmaster in the face of an enemy.

Low and curvy with a dragon’s head exhaling oaken flames from her prow, Dragon’s Claw was his favorite vessel, not because she was new or particularly seaworthy, but because he had wrenched her from the last Viking to leave his father’s lands.

The memory of that battle warmed him and occupied his thoughts while the nyvaigs swarmed around the foreigner. Then, they swung about, furled their sails, and rowed for home like many-legged insects skittering on the water’s surface.

When the boats reached the beach, Hakon jumped from his nyvaig and jogged through ankle-deep water, apparently too impatient to wait for his men to haul the vessel’s keel onto the sand. “Well, my lord king,” he said, “it seems to be the day for marriage proposals. It is an envoy from Moray, who comes at the behest of Malcolm. He asks to speak with ye regarding Bethoc.”

“Malcolm MacHeth . . . the Malcolm MacHeth . . . wants my sister?”

He had met Malcolm MacHeth only once, at King David’s court, on a night spoiled by ill-bred lassies who had mocked his foreign garb and speech. Malcolm, a bastard nephew of the Scots king, had observed his humiliation and pretended not to notice.

Yet here was Malcolm of Moray, a claimant to the Scottish throne and a known rebel, seeking Bethoc’s hand in marriage. Tainted bloodline or not, Somerled was apparently worthy of notice now.

JulieDAbout the Author:

Something magical happened in the musty basement of Julie Doherty’s local courthouse. She went there intending to research her ancestry, not lose herself in a wealth of stories, but the ghosts of yesteryear drew her into the past and would not let her go. The trail left by her ancestors in those yellowing documents led her from rural Pennsylvania to the Celtic countries, where her love of all things Irish/Scottish blossomed into outright passion.

She became particularly interested in Somerled, self-styled “King of Argyll” and progenitor of the Lords of the Isles. In 1164, he led a fleet of 164 galleys up the River Clyde in an all-or-nothing attempt to overthrow the Scottish crown. What would lead a man of his advanced years to do such a thing?

Of course, history records he did so because the king demanded forfeiture of his lands. But the writer in Julie wondered …what if he did it for the love of a woman?

Those early ponderings led to SCENT OF THE SOUL, Julie’s first novel, coming soon from Soul Mate Publishing.

Readers will notice a common theme throughout Julie’s books: star-crossed lovers. This is something she knows a bit about, since during one of her trips to Ireland, she fell in love with an Irishman. The ensuing immigration battle took four long years to win. With only fleeting visits, Skype chats, and emails to sustain her love, Julie poured her heartache into her writing, where it nourished the emotional depth of her characters.

Julie is a member of Pennwriters, Romance Writers of America, Central PA Romance Writers, The Longship Company, Perry County Council of the Arts, and Clan Donald USA. When not writing, she enjoys antiquing, shooting longbow, traveling, and cooking over an open fire at her cabin. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, who sounds a lot like her characters.

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/532434.Julie_Doherty

http://twitter.com/SquareSails

http://www.facebook.com/juliedohertywrites

http://www.juliedoherty.com

Catherine Bybee Continues the Love with “Seduced by Sunday”

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SEDUCED BY SUNDAY

Catherine Bybee

Weekday Brides, Book 6

Series, Stand Alone

April 14, 2015

Montlake Romance, Contemporary

Goodreads Book Page

BUY LINKS:

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Book Description:
She swore off love forever…but he just might change her mind.

The sixth sweet, thrilling book in the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling Weekday Brides series from Catherine Bybee.

Meg Rosenthal: Matchmaker by day, realist by night, Meg is not about to get swept away by a charming, darkly handsome businessman in a designer suit. She’s come to a beautiful secluded resort to evaluate the private island’s potential for her agency, not to ogle its owner. But there’s something about the magnetic man that’s hard to resist, even for a woman who refuses to fall in love.Seduce by Sunday L

Valentino Masini: A successful and drop-dead sexy businessman, Valentino is used to having the finer things in life. Yet he’s never wanted someone the way he wants Meg, who’s stirring up a hurricane of trouble in his heart. But just as he decides to convince her to stay, someone else decides it might be time to get Meg off the island…permanently.

Praise for Catherine Bybee

“Suspense, survival, and chemistry mix in this scintillating read in the style of Julie Garwood and Suzanne Brockmann.” —Booklist on Fiancé by Friday

“This is a book nobody should miss, because the magic it contains is awesome.” —Booked Up Reviews on Married by Monday

“[A] wonderfully exciting plot, lots of desire, and some sassy attitude thrown in for good measure!” Harlequin Junkie on Single by Saturday

MY REVIEW:

Catherine Bybee continues the love with SEDUCED BY SUNDAY, Book 6 of the Weekday Brides series. It seems redundant to tout the remarkable talent by this USA Today and NY Times Best Selling Author but I simply can’t resist. Simply put, Ms. Bybee is the BOMB when it comes to contemporary romance!

Her stories explode from Page One, ripping apart any preconceived notion the novel is formulaic and only names and places have changed. Quite the opposite. SEDUCED BY SUNDAY is a great stand alone read or a continuation of a very popular and entertaining series.

Meg is a high profile matchmaker secretly researching an island resort for the Alliance Agency. She wants to make sure it offers the discreet accommodations and privacy it advertises. Plans go awry when she is not allowed access to the resort until they complete a background check, which sends Meg into a cyber frenzy as she pens not-so-friendly emails to the owner.

After she is finally allowed admittance, Meg meets Val, the hotel owner. Sizzling attraction ensues but Meg doesn’t trust those feelings. Val on the other hand, is quite eager to push the envelope. As these two lovebirds-in-the-making maneuver past a rocky beginning, they discover all is not as it seems in “paradise”. I love a little suspense with my romance and Ms. Bybee knows how to deliver.

This is a well written tale with an interesting plot, snappy dialogue, beautiful setting and a great cast of characters, some from previous stories in the series. If you haven’t read the other Weekday Brides books, don’t despair. While I highly encourage you to indulge, SEDUCED BY SUNDAY will make perfect sense as a stand alone novel. But be warned . . . this series is addictive. Once you’ve read one, you’ll want to keep going!

Rating:  ♥♥♥♥♥

Meet Catherine Bybee:

Bybee Author Photo

New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee was raised in Washington State, but after graduating high school, she moved to Southern California in hopes of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Weekday Brides Series and the Not Quite Series. Bybee lives with her husband and two teenage sons in Southern California.

CONTACT LINKS:

http://www.catherinebybe.com

catherinebybee@yahoo.com

catherinebybee.blogspot.com

twitter.com/catherinebybee

Author Interview with Tamara Linse (Earth’s Imagined Corners)

It’s my extreme pleasure to chat with author Tamara Linse today. She’s penned a historical novel based on the life of her great-grandparents, which is fascinating in itself, but the woman behind the keyboard is just as interesting. I can’t wait for you to meet her.  Start with the interview but please stay for the excerpt from “Earth’s Imagined Corners”. It’s the most delicious treat you’ll have all day!

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TL: I am so honored to hang out with you today! And I can’t wait to check out what you write.

Earth’s Imagined Corners was a loving project to which you devoted your time, talent and perseverance for years. Now that it is a realized dream, was it worth the effort? Anything you would change about the process?

TL: Great question!  Yes, it took me 15 years from initial conception to publication, and I can say without hesitation that it was definitely worth it.  I don’t even know if “worth it” is the right term.  Writing, especially fiction, is just something I feel compelled to do ~ I don’t know if you feel the same.  There’s nothing scarier than a writer who isn’t writing, and it makes me feel calmer and saner when I’m creating.  Sometimes I love it and sometimes I hate it. Sometimes it comes easy and sometimes hard. The hardest part is getting started after being away from it for a while, but once I’ve started it’s usually a glorious slide down a snowy hill ~ exhilarating, challenging, lovely. If there’s anything I would change, it would be how long it takes me. Seven years per novel seems a little long. I’d love to do a novel year, and I know I could do it. I’ve written a full draft in five months. But the world not only doesn’t care if you’re writing ~ it actively works against you writing, especially if you’re a woman.  It would rather you be doing what it wants you to do. Working, cleaning, cooking, taking care of others, and so on. And it doesn’t just sit back and sigh. It enters the writing room and cracks jokes and suggests you do something else. So that would be the other thing I would change: my ability to block out the world and carve out time to write. I know it’s my own fault too. I’m a good girl and a people pleaser, and it’s much easier to do what the world wants me to do than face my own demons to write.

Even though Earth’s Imagined Corners is based on the lives of your great grandparents, you still brought the era to life with details you couldn’t possibly have known. How much time did you spend researching the late 1800’s to provide authenticity to the period and dialogue which was beautifully portrayed in your story?

How much of the story is fictional and how much fact? Was it challenging to apply creative license knowing you were altering the details of your family history? How did you decide which parts needed embellishment?

all interviews and guest blogs - Frank and Ellen Strong xTL: I’ll tackle both of these questions at once.

Oh, gosh. Lots of research.  And thank you so much for your kind words! You made my month! Some of the best fiction involves research, I think.  And besides, I love research, and it’s much easier to wander down the alleys of history than to face the blank page. The wonderful Nebraska writer Ron Hansen said that the history is another country, and you have to treat it like that. Figure out its customs and language.  I thought a lot about the story’s dialog. Who knows how people talked in 1885? Just like today, what was written was probably different than what was said. But I also wanted it to sound to the reader like real people talking. To compromise, I wrote the dialog as I would any other, and then I tweaked it and took out the words that either weren’t contemporary or don’t “feel” historical and then put in words that do feel historical. For me, communication and clarity rank above “truth” (as if there is only one truth). I read historical newspapers, and The 18th Annual Report of the U.S. Commissioner of Labor in 1900 reported prices in Chicago and I extrapolated backwards. Men worked an average of 290 days a year and made $553.52, while women worked an average of 295 days a year and made $313.42. Inventions such as electricity were making their way across the continent. Electrical infrastructure began reaching Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas in 1882. Kansas City had mule-drawn cable cars in 1881, but by 1885, they were powered by electricity. Work began on the “Additional Penitentiary” in Anamosa, Iowa, in 1873. In 1885, it held 281 inmates. Electric lights were actually at the prison when James would have been there—they were first used in December of 1882. Fictional purposes—sorry. The inmates built their own prison, first in wood and then in stone. The cookbook The Compleat Housewife by Eliza Smith is fact. First published in 1727 in London, the cookbook was republished almost verbatim in 1742 by the Virginia printer William Parks, the first cookbook published in the Colonies.

The American Memory Site of the National Archives is an amazing resource for researchers, and much of their material is online, and so I didn’t have to travel to Washington D.C. to access it. Fortunately, there are birds-eye views of downtown Kansas City from 1879 and 1895, perfectly framing my time period. I also had the tremendous good fortune—for me, not for the residents of KC West Bottoms—of having a vast photographic evidence to draw from. That’s because the Bottoms flood regularly, and people take lots of photos during these natural disasters.  “The Patch” was a 4.5-acre area in the West Bottoms west of the Armour Packing Factory. If anything, I built it up a bit. Citizens of the Patch were evicted in April of 1910. I moved the flood from 1881 to 1885. There was a great flood in 1844 that came through the West Bottoms with a deafening roar and filled it bluff to bluff. It was reported that, during the night of the flood, cries were heard but the flood was too overwhelming to attempt rescue. The next day, rescuers found Louis Tromley perched in a tree, his wife in a tree a hundred yards farther on, and his son sitting on the peak of the swaying house. Later that day, onlookers saw Tromley’s house floating with the current, with Tromley’s favorite dog perched on its top. Tromley yelled out the dog’s name, and the dog let out a mournful wail. Tromley almost plunged into the water to save it. In 1881, an African American man named Levi Harrington, 23, was lynched—hung and shot—from the Bluff Bridge for killing a policeman named Jones, a crime Harrington did not commit. It got little coverage in the papers because it happened the same day that Jesse James was shot in Saint Joseph.

Little things. President Cleveland did have a mistress. Sara’s paste opal jewel exists, and in 2003, it was for sale by The Three Graces, Houston, Texas, for $1,380. The description of passengers getting cozy during a train wreck that is told by Moses is from Bill Nye’s 1882 Forty Lies and Other Liars. I based the rats at the river on an account given by a man who grew up in Kansas City in the twentieth century—the 1960s, I think. Thomas’s Tsististas are the Cheyenne, and the words from the Cheyenne language is from the Dull Knife College web site, but their spelling is my own. And so much more.  I love history. My master’s thesis was on 1850 Overland Trail pioneer diaries.

As far as it being based on family history, I was lucky in that I had some bare facts but not so much information as to overwhelm me. He was in prison, and they moved to KC and had a store. That was almost all I knew.  And when you write fiction, you can’t be constrained by what happened. You have to get the details right, but if you’re worried about offending someone or being “right” whatever that means it’ll strangle you. Yes, you want to be accurate, but you have to have more loyalty to the logic of the story and to good storytelling. So I would say my process was to have a rough plot and characters based on my grandparents, and then to forget they were my grandparents and go where the story took me.

You have two more books scheduled in the series. Will you write them separately or concurrently? Is it difficult to stay focused on this project or are you itching to write something different?

TL: Ha!  No, I’ll write them chronologically. But as you hint, it’s hard to stay focused on one project. There are just so many great ideas, and I want to do them all and not let them get away!  For example, right now before I go further on the second in the series, Numberless Infinities, I want to finish a young adult called Pride, which is Pride and Prejudice set in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It’s part of a YA series where I take British classics and set them in contemporary Wyoming. It’s so much fun! The hardest part is getting started, and once I start, it’s best if I don’t stop. Though it often happens.

Tamara on ErnieAfter reading your “long” bio, I was completely charmed by this multi-faceted person called Tamara Linse. (Readers, you can learn more HERE) I also was raised with a taste of the “old” world and new, living part time on a farm without modern amenities. I know that experience enhanced my ability to maneuver life. How did it affect you and what do you think is the most valuable lesson you learned from those days? On the flip side, what did you hate about it?

*blush* Thank you!  I hate those short dry bios, don’t you?  I want them to read like a Dickens novel! Your life sounds fascinating.  I hope you’re writing about it!  There’s a lot of my upbringing in my short story collection How to Be a Man. It was and is hard to be female on a ranch. Men have the respect, and if you’re how_to_be_a_man_tamara_linse_coveran intelligent little girl, you look around yourself and think, how do I have respect, since I’m not a guy? Many western girls come to the conclusion that they need to be men as much as they can. It’s very self-destructive when you deny something you essentially are. It’s like being black and passing as white or being homosexual and passing as heterosexual.  Plus you really hate yourself.  The poverty of it wasn’t very nice either. The most valuable lesson I learned was pigheadedness. I attribute pretty much any success I’ve had in life to sticking to things, even after a lot of reasonable people would have given up.  Another thing I learned, which I’m sure you did too, was self-reliance.  When something happens, you just need to bow your head and get after it. No use belly-aching.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why?

TL: You know, I really haven’t thought much about this. That’s another of  the legacies of my upbringing ~ I had to teach myself to dream big. If you grow up thinking you can’t have anything, you don’t let yourself want things.  But I did always want to travel to England and Ireland, and I was able to do that in 2002 after I graduated with my master’s.  But if I were allowed to dream, it would go something like this. A sprawling house in the south of France or a bungalow on a carribean island, like Hemingway’s Finca Vigia. Write all morning, drink and laze about and socialize in the afternoon and evening. All this would involve someone else cooking and cleaning, of course! So, you know, I’d like to live in writers’ paradise!

TL: It’s been such a pleasure, Deb! Thank you! Stay in touch!

♦♦♦♦♦

Earth’s Imagined Corners

The Round Earth Series

Book 1

Tamara Linse

Genre: Historical Fictiocover

Publisher: Willow Words

Date of Publication: January 31, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9909533-1-9            

ASIN: B00T18RRNK

Number of pages: 472

Word Count: 130,000

Book Description:

In 1885 Iowa, Sara Moore is a dutiful daughter, but when her father tries to force her to marry his younger partner, she must choose between the partner—a man who treats her like property—and James Youngblood—a kind man she hardly knows who has a troubled past.

When she confronts her father, he beats her and turns her out of the house, breaking all ties, so she decides to elope with James to Kansas City with hardly a penny to their names.

In the tradition of Willa Cather’s O Pioneers! and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Earth’s Imagined Corners is a novel that comprehends the great kindnesses and violences we do to each other.

Available at Amazon

Excerpt:

Anamosa, Iowa, 1885

Sara Moore should have nothing to fear this week. She had been meticulous in her entering into the ledger the amounts that Minnie the cook requested she spend on groceries. She had remembered, just, to include her brother Ed’s purchase of materials to mend sister Maisie’s doll house and to subtract the pickling salt that she had purchased for sister Esther but for which Esther’s husband Gerald had reimbursed her. She stood at her father’s shoulder as he went over the weekly household accounts, and even though her father owned Moore Grocer & Sundries from which she ordered the family’s groceries, he still insisted she account for the full price in the ledger. “No daughter of mine,” he often said, though sometimes he would finish the thought and sometimes his neatly trimmed eyebrows would merely bristle.

Despite the buttressing of her corset, Sara hunched forward, somewhat reducing her tall frame. She intertwined her fingers so that she would not fiddle with the gathers of soft navy wool in her overskirt, and she tried not to breathe too loudly, so as not to bother him, nor to breathe too deeply, in order to take in little of the cigar smoke curling up from his elephant-ivory ashtray on the hulking plantation desk.

As always, the heavy brocade curtains armored Colonel Moore’s study against the Iowa day, so the coal oil lamps flickered in their brackets. Per instructions, Sipsy the maid lit them early every morning, snuffed them when he left for the grocery, lit them again in anticipation of his return at seven, and then snuffed them again after he retired. It was an expense, surely, but one that Sara knew better than to question. The walls of the study were lined with volumes of military history and maps of Virginia and Georgia covered in lines, symbols, and labels carefully inked in Colonel Moore’s hand. In its glass case on the bureau rested Colonel Moore’s 1851, an intricately engraved pistol awarded to him during the War of Northern Aggression. Sipsy dusted daily, under stern directive that not a speck should gather upon any surface in the room.

Sara’s father let out a sound between an outlet of breath and a groan. This was not good. He was not pleased. Sara straightened her shoulders and took a breath and held it but let her shoulders slump forward once more.

“My dear,” he said, his drawl at a minimum, “your figures, once again, are disproportionate top to bottom. And there is too much slant, as always, in their curvatures. I urge you to practice your penmanship.” His tone was one of indulgence.

Inaudibly, Sara let out her breath. If he was criticizing her chirography, then he had found nothing amiss in the numbers. The accounts were sound for another week. Later, when he checked the numbers against the accounts at the grocery, there was less of a chance that she had missed something.

He closed the ledger, turned his chair, and with both hands held the ledger out to her. She received it palms up and said, “I will do better, Father.”

“You would not want to disappoint to your mother.” His drawl was more pronounced.

So he had regretted his indulgence and was not satisfied to let her go unchecked. His wife, Sara’s mother, had been dead these five years, and since then Sara had grown to take her place, running the household, directing the servants, and caring for six year-old Maisie. Ed needed little looking after, as he was older than Sara, though unmarried, and Esther, the oldest, was married with two daughters and farm of her own.

Sara straightened her shoulders again and hugged the ledger to her chest. “Yes, Father,” she said and turned and left the room, trying to keep her pace tranquil and unhurried. She went to the kitchen, where Minnie had a cup of coffee doused with cream and sugar awaiting her. Minnie gave her an encouraging smile, and though Sara did not acknowledge what went unsaid between them—one must shun familiarity with the servants—she lifted her shoulders slightly and said, “Thank you, Minnie.” Minnie, with the round figure and dark eyes of a Bohemian, understood English well, though she still talked with a pronounced accent, and Sara had only heard her speak the round vowels and chipped consonants of her native tongue once, when a delivery man indigenous to her country of origin walked into the kitchen with mud on his boots. Sara tucked the ledger in its place on a high shelf and then allowed herself five minutes of sipping coffee amid the wonderful smells of Minnie’s pompion tart. Then she rose, rinsed her cup, and applied herself to her day.

The driver had Father’s horse and gig waiting, as always, at twenty minutes to nine. As Father stretched his fingers into his gloves, pulling them tight by the wrist leather, he told Sara, “When you come at noon, I have something unusual to show you.”

“Yes, Father,” she said.

It seemed odd that he would concern her with anything to do with business. He left her to the household. He had long tried to coerce Ed into the business, but Ed’s abilities trended more toward the physical. He was a skilled carpenter, though Father kept a close rein on where he took jobs and whom he worked for. All talk of renaming the business Moore & Son had been dropped when Father had recently promoted the young man who was his assistant, Chester O’Hanlin, to partner. Mr. O’Hanlin had droopy red muttonchops and a body so long and thin he looked a hand-span taller than he really was, which was actually a bit shorter than Sara. Mr. O’Hanlin didn’t talk much, either, and he seemed always to be listening. He held himself oddly, cocking his head to one side, first one way and then the other, his small dark eyes focusing off to the left or right of the speaker. His nose, long and wedge-shaped, seemed to take up half his face. “Chester, the Chinaman,” Maisie called him outside of his presence because of the way he stooped and bobbed whenever their father entered the room.

tamaraAbout the Author:

Tamara Linse jokes that she was raised in the 1880s, and so it was natural for her to set a book there. She is the author of the short story collection How to Be a Man and the novel Deep Down Things and earned her master’s in English from the University of Wyoming, where she taught writing. Her work appears in the Georgetown Review, South Dakota Review, and Talking River, among others, and she was a finalist for an Arts & Letters and Glimmer Train contests, as well as the Black Lawrence Press Hudson Prize for a book of short stories. She works as an editor for a foundation and a freelancer.

Find her online at www.tamaralinse.com and her blog Writer, Cogitator, Recovering Ranch Girl at www.tamara-linse.blogspot.com

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

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Read An Excerpt from Captives by Emily Murdoch – Medieval Romance

‘An enthralling saga.’ – Robert Foster, best-selling author of ‘The Lunar Code’

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Captives

Conquered Hearts – Book 3

Emily Murdoch

Genre: Historical Romance, Medieval.
Publisher: Endeavour Press
ASIN: B00R3DP1PQ
Number of pages: 222
Word Count: 74,414words

Book Description:

Normandy. 1067.

England has been brought to its knees by the invasion of William the Conqueror and his Norman troops.

Lady Catheryn, an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman, is taken against her will to Normandy after the invasion. She arrives, a prisoner, at the castle of Lord Geffrei, a ruthless invader who hopes to gain a ransom for her. Her husband Selwyn is dead, slain in the Conquest, and her daughter Annis has been left behind in England at the mercy of the invaders. Catheryn is treated like an animal, and left in a cell until she begins to despair.

When Queen Matilda, William the Conqueror’s wife, sees her plight, she takes pity on her. Catheryn is sent to the castle of the noble FitzOsberns – but will her new captivity be any better than the cruelty she faced at Geffrei’s hands? She finds her hostess cold and embittered, but when her husband William FitzOsbern returns from the Conquest, Catheryn’s heart is torn by unwanted emotions. She becomes entangled in the quarrels and heartbreaks of her jailers even as she tries to remember her place among them.

Is she falling in love with the man who helped to destroy her homeland? Can Catheryn betray her Anglo-Saxon roots, and her late husband? Or will she break free, and find her way back to Annis?

‘Captives’ is a moving historical story of love and loss, and the strength of one woman even in the most dangerous of times. It is the sequel to ‘Conquests’.

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US

Excerpt:captives

PROLOGUE

The prisoner had not spoken for weeks.

None had expected it to last this long. The journey over the wide sea, back to Normandy, had been a troubled crossing. Of the five ships that had left England’s shore, only three had arrived safely, and even those had lost men to fear and sickness. Those that had not died or fled muttered underneath their breath.

The prisoner had not complained.

Dressed in clothes that had seen better days, the prisoner had been forced upon a horse, despite its protestations that it was not strong enough to ride. The cloak had become torn and stained over the fortnight-long ride to the castle of Geffrei, and the hood was pulled across the prisoner’s face, obscuring the night. Despite the cold, the prisoner was not offered a warmer cloak, or a kind word.

The prisoner had barely noticed.

As the sound of the horses’ hooves slowed, the prisoner looked up. Through bleary eyes, only a vague impression of the place at which the company had arrived could be seen, but it was imposing even in its vagueness. A stone building with several floors, and no light emitting from the few windows to pierce the darkness of the evening. No flags hung from the walls, and the door outside which they stood was bare, save for one small handle.

The prisoner closed both eyes.

“You awake?”

The prisoner was dragged down from the horse, and made to stand, although every bone cried out for rest. The brim of the hood fell down over its eyes. The murmur that the prisoner attempted made no sense.

“Walk, if you know what’s good for you!”

There were almost a dozen knights that had ridden with the prisoner, but one was more splendidly dressed than the others. His cloak was lined, offering warmth against the bitter autumnal breeze, and it was only he who had been fed thoroughly during the journey.

“My lord Geffrei!”

The man with the lined cloak turned to face one of his men. The others were lowering themselves from their horses, and pulling up their belts over their empty stomachs.

“Yes?” he replied bluntly.

“Food is required,” said the man, pointing at the prisoner. “If you do not want it to die.”

The prisoner fell.

“Up!” shouted Geffrei, pacing towards the prisoner lying on the ground. “You’ll walk, not crawl, into my home, you dirty animal!”

A hand reached up, cracked and sore, from the figure lying on the ground, but no hand went down to meet it. Eventually, the prisoner raised itself up from the ground, and hung its head.

“Now,” breathed Geffrei with malice in every tone, “on you go. You’re the guest of honour.”

Cruel laughs rang out as the prisoner stumbled forwards against the door, clutching at the handle. It turned. The prisoner leaned, exhausted, against the door.

The room that the prisoner fell into was the Great Hall. A small brazier glinted at the far side of the room, and a medley of dogs unravelled themselves to meet their guests. Feet sounded around the prisoner as the men strode in, desperate for warmth.

Geffrei threw himself by the fire into the only chair in the room. He turned his eyes to the prisoner, who had pulled itself up to stare into his face.

“Well,” he said with a smirk. “Here we are. We have finally arrived. What do you think of your new home?”

The prisoner stood up, and with a great effort, spat onto the rushes on the floor.

Geffrei shook his head with a smile on his face. “Now, that’s no way to treat your new home,” he chastised. “What do you have to say for yourself?”

The prisoner pulled back the hood from her face, and shook her long hair and veil out from under the mud-splattered cloak.

“Where is my daughter Annis?”

murdochAbout the Author:

Emily Murdoch is a medieval historian and writer. Throughout her career so far she has examined a codex and transcribed medieval sermons at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, designed part of an exhibition for the Yorkshire Museum, worked as a researcher for a BBC documentary presented by Ian Hislop, and worked at Polesden Lacey with the National Trust. She has a degree in History and English, and a Masters in Medieval Studies, both from the University of York.

Emily is currently working on a new six part book series, as well as writing freelance.

You can learn more at www.emilyekmurdoch.com

@emilyekmurdoch
www.facebook.com/theemilyekmurdoch
www.emilyekmurdoch.blogspot.co.uk

Sassy and Fun: It Don’t Mean A Thing by Kim Taylor Blakemore

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3 Kindle copies of  Bowery Girl 

3 ebook copies It Dont Mean a Thing

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It Don’t Mean a Thing

Kim Taylor Blakemore

Genre: Romance, Historical

Publisher: SilkWords

Date of Publication: August 4, 2014

ASIN: B00MG4C1E6

Word Count:  20,535 pick-your-path story

Book Description: 

Ruby dreams of Hollywood. A chance encounter with The Harmoneers, an all-female jazz group, offers the opportunity of a lifetime. Follow the gang as they scheme and double-cross.

And love?

Well, it don’t mean a thing.

Excerpt:coverBlakemore

Sycamore Grove, California

1931

“I’m not marrying you, Audie McCardle. I most certainly am not.” Ruby Banks crossed her arms, pressed her lips tight, and gave a definitive shake of her head. She leaned toward the mirror over her hand-me-down vanity and stabbed a pin into her blonde curls. She twisted her head left and right, and fluffed the back of her hair. A strange tint of pink ran loose through the strands and waves. Maybe she should have been more careful with the mixture of peroxide and ammonia she’d used the previous night.

But between her mother running up the stairs and hugging her close, her father taking his pipe from his mouth long enough to yell that the hair potion was causing him an onset of lung disorder, and her little sister, Charlotte, jumping around and squawking nonsense about weddings weddings weddings, Ruby botched the dye job.

Never mind, she thought. If anyone asked, she’d say it was exactly the color she was hoping for.

Or she wouldn’t say anything at all. Jean Harlow wouldn’t say anything. Of that Ruby Banks was sure.

She snatched her apron from the end of her bed, bounded down the narrow stairs, and ignored her mother calling from the kitchen. Ruby pushed open the front gate and darted down the sidewalk. She was late (as usual) for her morning shift at the diner, and she still had to pick up the pies from Mrs. Jensen on the next block.

The early morning sun promised another day of horrible Central California heat. The sky would soon brown with the upturned soils of the fields, and the air already stank from the cows.

A beat-up Model T stake-bed truck rolled past Ruby. She heard the tires slow on the hard-packed soil of the street. Gears ground, and the truck reversed and pulled next to her.

John Mayer shifted his stub of a cigar to the other side of his mouth, tilted back his fedora, and smiled. His skin was bronze and wrinkled. He rubbed a weathered thumb across his chin. “Guess congratulations are in order.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Ruby lifted her head and continued walking. John Mayer kept the truck rolling slowly in reverse.

“Fine boy, Audie is.”

“So everyone says.”

“You make a sweet couple.”

“We’re not a couple.”

He scratched the shirt on his chest. “You don’t say.”

“He can buy any house he pleases in the Sears Roebuck catalog, but that doesn’t mean we’re a couple. And it certainly doesn’t mean I’m going to marry him.”

“You don’t say.”

“I do say. I have plans of my own.” She blew back a curl that had come loose. “Don’t you have some hogs to tie or something like that?”

“I don’t have hogs.”

“You know what I’m saying.”

He chewed his cigar then shifted the gears. The truck took a jump and shimmied. “You got a mean streak, Ruby. Yes, miss, you do.” With that, he was off down the road in a swirl of dirt.

Ruby wiped her mouth with her handkerchief. She patted her hair and strode up the wood steps to Mrs. Jensen’s porch. She knocked three times on the screen door frame and stepped back. Mrs. Jensen shuffled to the door, balancing five boxes of peach pies.

Only the top of half of her face was visible above the stack. She passed the boxes to Ruby and wiped her hands on a flour-coated apron. “I hear congratulations are in order.”

“Aw, nuts.”

Ruby’s heels cracked against the pavement. She passed the Esso station and VFW Hall and drew near the two blocks that made up Sycamore Grove’s downtown. The neon spire of the Odeon dwarfed the squat brick of its neighbors. She glared up, worried that this upcoming non-wedding would be splattered in black and white across the marquee. Luckily not. It remained safely Gable and Harlow in Red Dust.

Maud Riley stood under the awning of Rexall Drugs, waiting, as she always did, for Ruby. Her gray felt cloche sat low on her head, the nutmeg tufts of her bob feathered under the soft rim. She shifted from foot to foot, tapping her fingers against her black-and mustard-checked skirt. As Ruby neared, Maud narrowed her eyes and blinked fast before shaking her head. She pursed her lips and twisted them into a strained smile.

“What’s wrong with you?” Ruby asked.

Maud’s eyebrows met in a frown. “Nothing. Not a thing.” She waved her hand for no reason that Ruby could ascertain and fell in step beside her. “I guess I have to wish —”

“Don’t you start.” She shifted the pies to her hip. “I can tolerate all the little gifts he gives me. I mean, a girl does need emery boards and cologne. But buying a house? That’s called unbounded impudence.”

“I think it was just a down payment.”

“It’s still a lot of cheek. What does he think? I’m going to roll over like a, like a starving dog and do whatever he commands?” Ruby stopped in front of the diner, set the boxes on the cement and faced Maud. “He hasn’t even asked me to marry him. And you know what? When he does, I’m going to laugh like this — HA-ha. Because I’ve got all that money Aunt Caroline left me, and come September, I’m going to take the bus to Merced and then the train to Hollywood. And in neither of those vehicles can you fit a Sears and Roebuck house and an ego the size of Audie McCardle’s. And when he comes in for breakfast, I’m going to tell him so.”

Maud crossed her arms over her thin frame and swayed back and forth.

“You got something to say, just say it.”

Maud bit her lip and shrugged.

“What does that mean?”

“It means nothing.” Maud swung her gaze around the street and up at the Odeon spire and then stared over her shoulder at the empty diner. “You like my skirt?”

“What?”

“I wore it just for you. So you could see how the pattern came out. And such.” She gave that funny wave again, as if she were swatting a big bug. “Never mind. I’ve got an early piano lesson to give.”

“Well, don’t let me keep you.” Ruby bent to pick up the pies. “Would you mind opening the door for me? I mean, if you have time.”

“I always have time for you.”

“Are you all right?”

“Of course I’m all right. Why?”

“You’re red as a beet.”

Maud put the flats of her palms against her cheeks, turned on her heel, and rushed away, the bell of her skirt flapping against her knees.

“But the door, Maud … ”

blakemoreAbout the Author:

Kim Taylor Blakemore writes historical fiction and romance that explores women’s lives and brings their struggles and triumphs out of the shadows of history and onto the canvas of our American past. She wishes to share the stories of women whose lives are untold, who don’t exist in textbooks: the disenfranchised, the forgotten, those with double lives and huge hearts filled with weakness and courage.

Her novel Bowery Girl, set in 1883 Lower Eastside Manhattan was recently re-released in Kindle and paperback. Under the Pale Moon, is due for release in Fall 2015. Set in post-World War II Monterey, California, it explores the relationship of a married woman breaking the bonds of conformity, and a combat nurse haunted by the ghosts of war.

Her interactive historical romances The Very Thought of You and It Don’t Mean a Thing, are out now on Kindle and SilkWords.com. She is also the author of the novel  Cissy Funk, winner of the WILLA Literary Award for Best Young Adult Fiction.

She’s a member of the Historical Novel Society, Women Writing the West and Romance Writers of America. In addition to writing novels, she facilitates workshops for PDX Writers in Portland, Oregon.

Web: www.kimtaylorblakemore.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kimtaylorblakemore

Twitter: @kimrtaylor