Book Tour and #Bookreview: Godmersham Park: A Novel of the Austen Family #JaneAusten #PegasusBooks #AustenprosePR

QUICK FACTS

  • Title:Godmersham Park: A Novel of the Austen Family
  • Author:Gill Hornby
  • Genre:Historical Fiction, Biographical Historical Fiction, Austenesque
  • Publisher: ‎Pegasus Books (November 1, 2022)
  • Length: (416) pages
  • Format: Hardcover, eBook, & audiobook 
  • ISBN: 978-1639362585
  • Tour Dates: October 24 – November 13, 2022

BOOK DESCRIPTION

A richly imagined novel inspired by the true story of Anne Sharp, a governess who became very close with Jane Austen and her family by the #1 International bestselling-author of Miss Austen.

On January 21, 1804, Anne Sharpe arrives at Godmersham Park in Kent to take up the position of governess. At thirty-one years old, she has no previous experience in either teaching or fine country houses. Her mother has died, and she has nowhere else to go. Anne is left with no choice. For her new charge—twelve-year-old Fanny Austen—Anne’s arrival is all novelty and excitement.

The governess role is a uniquely awkward one. Anne is neither one of the servants, nor one of the family, and to balance a position between the “upstairs” and “downstairs” members of the household is a diplomatic chess game. One wrong move may result in instant dismissal. Anne knows that she must never let down her guard.

When Mr. Edward Austen’s family comes to stay, Anne forms an immediate attachment to Jane. They write plays together and enjoy long discussions. However, in the process, Anne reveals herself as not merely pretty, charming, and competent; she is clever too. Even her sleepy, complacent, mistress can hardly fail to notice.

Meanwhile Jane’s brother, Henry, begins to take an unusually strong interest in the lovely young governess. And from now on, Anne’s days at Godmersham Park are numbered.

ADVANCE PRAISE

  • “This is a deeply imagined and deeply moving novel. Reading it made me happy and weepy in equally copious amounts…I read it straight through without looking up.”— Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Bookclub
  • Hornby’s skillful mix of fact and fiction captures the complexities of the Austens and their era, and her crisp, nimble prose sparkles throughout. Best of all, Hornby genuinely channels the sentiment of 19th-century English literature. Janeites aren’t the only readers who will relish this smart, tender tale.”— Publishers Weekly, starred review
  • “…a well-written and delightfully observant novel…an excellent read.”— The Historical Novel Society

BOOK REVIEW

Anne Sharp, who had enjoyed a comfortable life before the death of her mother, suddenly finds herself in search of a job after her father shows her to the door. In one interview with a shady lawyer, she learns her father is cutting her allowance to the bone and evicting her from her home. A job interview is suggested, and she arrives at Godmersham Park as the governess of Fanny Austen, daughter of Edward and Elizabeth Austen. Anne’s position is a tough one, as she is not considered part of the family or truly a servant, and has no real support group to call her own. When she meets Fanny’s aunt, Jane Austen, a fast friendship is formed.

I was struck at once by the writing talent of Gill Hornby. Anne’s arrival at Godmersham Park and her uncertainty there are described beautifully: “First impressions are wont to linger and, as yet, she knew nothing of these people and what might offend them. So she stood still and patient upon the black and white chequered floor, like a small pawn on a chessboard.” This is the perfect description of Anne’s time at Godmersham Park, as she was always wary of offending both the family and the servants.

I was caught up in the novel immediately, as Anne was informed of her loss of income and change in status by an unscrupulous lawyer, but that part of the story was not really explored to its fullest. Since this is historical fiction, I would have liked the author to give us some real closure there. Anne’s time at Godmersham was fairly short, as she only spent two years there. The best parts of the book were her interactions with Jane and the glimpse into the Austen family dynamics.

The two-year period at Godmersham was not the happiest time for Anne, and while this is an intriguing book, it is not cheerful or uplifting for the most part. The friendship with Jane and the interactions with Fanny are the bright spots in this book. Elizabeth, the mistress of the house, comes across as unsympathetic and almost cruel, especially when she sends Anne for barbaric “treatment” for her headaches. As someone who has suffered migraines, I was furious when Elizabeth forced open the curtains in Anne’s room, insisting that the light would make her feel better. It drives home the truth that servants in those days were often not allowed to have feelings or express complaints to those considered above their station.

Godmersham Park also reminds us of the plight of women two hundred years ago. If they did not marry, they were at the mercy of their fathers or brothers, and had no real rights of their own. If they did marry, they basically belonged to their husbands. This is beautifully written, true to the period historical fiction. And because it is true to the period, it is definitely not all sweetness and light. At the same time, it provides a window into Anne’s friendshp with Jane Austen, and shows how kindred spirits can recognize each other instantly.

In the author’s note, we learn that Anne found some success after leaving Godmersham Park. I would have loved that to have been a part of the book.

I received a free copy of this book from Pegasus Books via Austenprose PR. My review is voluntary and the opinions expressed are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gill Hornby is the author of the novels Miss Austen, The Hive, and All Together Now, as well as The Story of Jane Austen, a biography of Austen for young readers. She lives in Kintbury, England, with her husband and their four children.

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#Blogtour and #Bookreview: The Family Home #thriller #mystery

There’s a dead man in my apartment. Only me and my ex have a key. But neither of us would have done this. We have too much to lose…

I wake on the sofa, my head throbbing. How did I get here? In the darkness, I make my way to my bedroom. I turn on the lights. And then I scream.

There’s a body in my bed. And I know this man: we went on two dates together. Who could have killed him? And how did he get in? Only two people have a key to the house: me and my ex-husband Matthew.

I trust Matthew. With what we’re hiding, I have to. And I can’t risk the police digging into our past, or learning about the night when we drank champagne on the cliff and ruined everything.

Someone knows our secret. We have to find out what they want. But am I wrong to believe Matthew, when I know how well he can lie? And how can I save myself, when the truth might destroy me?

An absolutely gripping thriller that will keep you reading late into the night, unable to put the book down for a second. Perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, Ruth Ware and Lisa Jewell.

BOOK REVIEW

Lillian and Matthew are the greatest divorced couple anyone knows. They are fantastic co-parents of their daughter Mabel, and have an unusual arrangement to keep Mabel happy. By mutual agreement, whoever has Mabel will stay in the family home, and the other parents will stay in an apartment that they share, switching out whenever it is their turn to see Mabel. But underneath this super-parent facade is a secret, and when a dead body shows up in Lillian’s bed, it begins to unravel.

This is a compelling thriller that will keep you guessing all the way through. The characters are engaging and the story will hook you from the start. There are plenty of red herrings, twists, and turns. It was very hard to put this down, so I read late into the night. The author showed a clever ability to start with a bright facade and slowly crumble it away to reveal the truth. The cast of supporting characters was real and raw. This mystery/thriller will keep you enthralled.

My rating is 4.6 stars, rounded up to 5 on sites with no partial star option.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Miranda Smith writes psychological and domestic suspense. She is drawn to stories about ordinary people in extraordinary situations. Before completing her first novel, she worked as a newspaper staff writer and a secondary English teacher. She lives in East Tennessee with her husband and three young children.

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Blog Tour and #bookreview: Elodie’s Library of Second Chances #RachelsRandomResources

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Elodie’s Library of Second Chances

An uplifting story about fresh starts, new beginnings and the power of stories, from the bestselling author of Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop!

When Elodie applies for the job of librarian in peaceful Willow Grove, she’s looking forward to a new start. As the daughter of a media empire, her every move has been watched for years, and she longs to work with the thing she loves most: books.

It’s a chance to make a real difference too, because she soon realises that there are other people in Willow Grove who might need a fresh start – like the homeless man everyone walks past without seeing, or the divorcée who can’t seem to escape her former husband’s misdeeds.

Together with local journalist Finn, Elodie decides these people have stories that need sharing. What if instead of borrowing books readers could ‘borrow’ a person, and hear the life stories of those they’ve overlooked?

But Elodie isn’t quite sharing her whole story either. As the story of the library’s new success grows, will her own secret be revealed?

BOOK REVIEW

I love books about libraries, but this is more than just a book about a library. This is a book about people, and getting the chance to tell your own story. The beginning of the book which describes Elodie’s experiences as the daughter of media moguls is not as interesting, but it takes on a completely different life when she arrives in Willow Grove and starts planning to save the library. I am not always a fan of the “poor little rich girl” theme, but this book won me over.

I especially loved the way Elodie was drawn to the town outcasts and wanted to know about their lives. The misunderstood, ostracized, bullied, and betrayed were given a voice. They became living books in the People’s Library, which I think is an extraordinary part of this novel. Elodie’s idea to have library patrons meet with a person at the library for 30 minutes and hear their story is completely inspired. I can think of so many people I would like to “check out” at the library in real life. There is a sweet romance, and somewhat of a villain in this novel, but overall this is not a complicated book. Elodie’s Library of Second Chances is a meaningful book that teaches us an important lesson–everyone has a story to tell, if we are willing to listen.

I received a free copy of this book from the pubishers via Rachel’s Random Resources. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rebecca Raisin writes heartwarming romances from her home in sunny Perth, Australia. Her heroines tend to be on the quirky side and her books are usually set in exotic locations so her readers can armchair travel any day of the week. The only downfall about writing about gorgeous heroes who have brains as well as brawn is falling in love with them – just as well they’re fictional. Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships and believe in true, once-in-a-lifetime love. Her bestselling novel Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop has been optioned for film with MRC studios and Frolic Media.

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Self-Published Saturday: Blog Tour and Book Review/Butterfly Assassins

Normally I don’t do blog tours on a Saturday, but since this is for an Independently Published book, I can post this on Self-Published Saturday. Self-Published Saturday is solely devoted to Self-Published/Indie authors, and is my attempt to help them with the marketing side of things a little bit. As you know, self-published authors have to do it all, from cover design to editing to marketing. I am happy to give any help I can in that effort.

Butterfly Assassins is the second book in the Wifi of Dreams series, and I put up a review of the first book Wilson Indeed, earlier today. I have reviewed Wilson Indeed before, and I thought today was a great day to post them together. Butterfly Assassins is part of a Blog Tour by Zooloo’s Book Tours. Please see the book description and review below. ,

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Sally Bennett was an orphan and an only child. Incomprehensibly, at the age of ten, both her parents died in quick succession. Proof that fate deals our cards blind. One can be dealt three buses in a row, a run of traffic lights on red, or a pair of deaths; it all depends on the shuffle. Destiny was playing its hand and having led with a heart, the face card of her mother, Sally had no other option but to follow suit. 

When Wilson and Daisy play with the Tetris blocks of the future, problems soon stack up. Butterfly Assassins is the sequel to Wilson Indeed and takes us back to Sally Bennett, the car accident, shared dreams, and a divine intervention outside Davenport train station. This is Book Two is the WiFi of Dreams Trilogy.

In a recent survey, 85% of people said yes to the question: “Do you believe there are things out there that science can’t explain?”

If you’re one of those 85%, you’ll love The WiFi of Dreams series.

BOOK REVIEW

Book 2 in Steve Walsh’s Wifi of Dreams series is possibly even more creative and imaginative than the first book. It cannot be read as a standalone. In order to understand the intriguing world of dreams, you must enter the Marketplace through Book 1, Wilson Indeed. The Marketplace is a Town Square of sorts for the world of dreams. In Book 2, we revisit Sally Bennett, to whom we were introduced in Book 1, and we follow her to the Marketplace. We are also brought back into Wilson’s life and see the complications that manipulating the future can cause. The characters are so well done, and the story is clever and captivating, with many twists and turns. The fantastical Marketplace, its many inhabitants, and their complex schemes will keep you turning the page. The omniscient narrator is fascinating themselves, as they appear to be the ones pulling, or trying to pull, the strings. The way that dreams interact with the real world is captivating.

Butterfly Assassins shows us how the world can turn on a whim or the flutter of a wing. It is a creative adventure that should not be missed.

I received a free copy of this book via Zooloo’s Book Tours. I also obtained a copy on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers can read it for free. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Walsh

For twenty years Steve Walsh honed his skills in prose as an advertising copywriter; the ‘ideas’ man in a Manchester based marketing agency that carried his name.

In the late 1990’s he stumbled into the world of the dotcom entrepreneur and his claim to fame is as the creator of the hotel booking service, laterooms.com and the first car insurance comparison site, easycover.com. So, the birth of Meerkats, a Welsh opera singer and being confused.com might be considered as down to him, for which he apologises. 

He now uses his vivid imagination and gentle Mancunian wit to write visionary fantasy novels with bold concepts. Wilson indeed, the first book in his trilogy The WiFi of Dreams takes the reader on a richly imagined, fact meets fiction adventure story to which we can relate and feel we can touch. A whimsical interrogation of the inexplicable and fundamental tenets of our lives – the role and meaning of dreams, the nature of the hereafter, hard and soft science, a love story – what more can you want? 

Butterfly Assassins is the second book in the trilogy.

Born and bred in the north west of England, Steve Walsh has three children and likes to fly fish in his spare time.

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Blog Tour and Book Review: The Abdication.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

The town of Unity sits perched on the edge of a yawning ravine where, long ago, a charisma of angels provided spiritual succour to a fledgeling human race. Then mankind was granted the gift of free will and had to find its own way, albeit with the guidance of the angels. The people’s first conscious act was to make an exodus from Unity. They built a rope bridge across the ravine and founded the town of Topeth. For a time, the union between the people of Topeth and the angels of Unity was one of mutual benefit. After that early spring advance, there had been a torrid decline in which mankind’s development resembled a crumpled, fading autumnal leaf.

Following the promptings of an inner voice, Tula, a young woman from the city, trudges into Topeth. Her quest is to abide with the angels and thereby discover the right and proper exercise of free will. To do that, she has to cross the bridge – and overcome her vertigo. Topeth is in upheaval; the townsfolk blame the death of a child on dust from the nearby copper mines. The priests have convinced them that a horde of devils have thrown the angels out of Unity and now occupy the bridge, possessing anyone who trespasses on it. Then there’s the heinous Temple of Moloch!

The Abdication is the story of Tula’s endeavour to step upon the path of a destiny far greater than she could ever have imagined.

BOOK REVIEW: THE ABDICATION:

I would best describe The Abdication as a fantasy thriller with elements of historical fiction, the supernatural, and biblical imagery. I might even add alternate history, as biblical characters appear, but in a different way. Angels, Devils and Moloch play heavily in this story and are, of course, also found in the Bible. Some characters, such as Ruth, Sarah, and Enoch, share names and certain traits with Biblical characters. In this novel, mankind decided to leave Unity after being granted the gift of free will, similar to the Bible story of Adam and Eve, who were forced to leave Eden after gaining the knowledge of good and evil. I see Unity as Eden, and Tula as the representation of mankind trying to return to Eden, or mankind trying to seek out God. Child sacrifice to Moloch is an element of history that is brought into this book and is one of the consequences of man receiving free will. To me, the rope bridge between Topeth and Unity is a symbol of man’s separation from God, and Tula as a symbol of those who try to cross that breach.

The very name of the town Topeth provokes thought, as it is a slightly different spelling than tophet, which comes from the Hebrew toph “a drum,” because the cries of children sacrificed by the priests of Moloch were drowned by the noise of drums, or from taph or toph, meaning “to burn.” The Middle English definition of tophet from Merriam Webster literally refers to the shrine used to sacrifice children to Molech or Moloch in the book of Jeremiah. The author has put a great deal of thought and meaning into every detail of this book.

This novel is entertaining, but will also make you pause and reflect, especially about the consequences of free will and man’s relationship with God. This is a thought-provoking read that will make you consider the results of actions and how evil comes about.

I received a free copy of this book via Zooloo’s Book Tours. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Justin Newland is an author of historical fantasy and secret history thrillers – that’s history with a supernatural twist. His stories feature known events and real people from history which are re-told and examined through the lens of the supernatural. He gives author talks and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio Bristol’s Thought for the Day. He lives with his partner in plain sight of the Mendip Hills in Somerset, England.

OTHER BOOKS BY JUSTIN NEWLAND

The Genes of Isis is a tale of love, destruction and ephemeral power set under the skies of Ancient Egypt. A re-telling of the Biblical story of the flood, it reveals the mystery of the genes of Isis – or genesis – of mankind. 

The Old Dragon’s Head is a historical fantasy and supernatural thriller set during the Ming Dynasty and played out in the shadows the Great Wall of China. It explores the secret history of the influences that shaped the beginnings of modern times. 

Set during the Great Enlightenment, The Coronation reveals the secret history of the Industrial Revolution. 

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Blog Tour and Book Review: America’s Promise

*Book Review in the Middle of the Page

BOOK DESCRIPTION

A gripping, heart-wrenching story of love and betrayal across the boundary of the American Revolutionary War. The next captivating story for readers who loved My Dear HamiltonFlight of the Sparrow and Outlander.

1780. Addie looks around at the soldiers celebrating their latest victory. American independence is within reach, but her heart feels heavy with grief. With her husband gone, she must leave the army camp, and the people she has come to love, and choose a respectable path to guard the secret she now carries alone.

Seeking shelter with her aunts in Virginia, Addie tries to mold herself back into the proper and dutiful woman she was before the war, and before the love of a fierce, dark-eyed warrior changed her forever. But when a band of rogue British soldiers arrives on the farm, will the strength she has gained from travelling with the Revolutionary army be enough to save her loved ones?

Fighting turmoil in Virginia, Addie faces an even worse trial when terrible news arrives from the front: should she stay silent and keep her family safe, or divulge her secret and save an innocent man’s life?

BOOK REVIEW

This is the third book in the America’s Daughter trilogy. An end to the war may be in sight, and Addie travels to Virginia to stay with her aunts and share her secret. The history of the Revolutionary War, its aftermath, and the life of George Washington is well documented and woven into the story by Celeste De Blasis. The story of Addie and her brothers is thrilling and engaging. The history of the war is sometimes related through Addie’s twin, Ad, who is working directly with George Washington. This gives us a fascinating window inside the life of George and Martha Washington and their inner circle. My only slight criticism is that Addie’s family and others are very accepting of her secret, which is not quite realistic for the time period. Overall, this story will transport you back to the American Revolutionary War, and the characters will keep you captivated and intrigued. This book is highly recommend for fans of historical wartime fiction. I received a free copy of this book via Bookouture. My opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Celeste De Blasis

Millions of readers have fallen under the spell of the lush, enthralling and bestselling novels by Celeste De Blasis. Tales of adventure and romance set against the sweep of history—all are storytelling at its finest. After graduating from Pomona College, Celeste devoted her life to impeccable research and spellbinding writing. A native Californian, Celeste grew up on the historic Kemper Campbell Ranch in the Mojave Desert, where she lived until her death in 2001. Her trilogy, America’s Daughter, is now available in ebook for the first time.

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*All three books in the America’s Daughter series are available for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers to borrow for free, or the ebook can be purchased outright on Amazon at only 3.99 each.

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#Blog Tour and #Book Review: The Inn At Tansy Falls

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Dearest Nell, if you’re reading this letter, I’m already gone. You’re my best friend in the world, and as my last request I’m asking you to lay me to rest hundreds of miles away, in my crazy gorgeous, totally one-of-a-kind hometown of Tansy Falls. I know you’re a born-and-bred city girl, but hear me out. After first losing Adrian, and then me… I know your heart is hurting, Nell. I think you’ll find that you need Tansy Falls as much as I do.

So, I’ve got it all planned out. For two weeks, you’ll be staying at the sweet, local inn and every day you’ll be trying something new. And if you follow my instructions to the letter, you may discover there’s more to my story than you think. A surprise something… or someone at the end of it? Only you can find out!

Some last advice before you set off, Nell. Don’t forget your sturdy boots and make sure to give Boomer, the inn’s resident dog, a belly rub from me. Stay well away from former quarterback Brody Knott (boy, do I have some stories about him!). And finally, let the future bring what it brings. While Tansy Falls may look small, I know better than anyone that new beginnings can be found in all kinds of places. That little Vermont town you’d never heard of? Well, it might suddenly begin to feel just like coming home…

If you love feel-good love stories by ReaAnne Thayne, Debbie Macomber and Robyn Carr, you’ll adore this gorgeous, heart-warming novel about starting over.

BOOK REVIEW

     Nell's life is filled with grief and turmoil.  A long-term relationship is over and her best friend Megan has just passed away due to cancer.  Megan leaves Nell a letter requesting that Nell scatter her ashes in the town of Tansy Falls, Vermont, where she spent time as a child.  Nell, a London accountant, travels to Tansy Falls to fulfill Meg's wishes.  Meg's request is accompanied by a two-week itinerary of things she wants Nell to do while she is here.  Some tasks are more difficult than others, but Nell begins a journey that will introduce her to new people and new experiences.

    This is a beautiful book about love,  friendship,  and starting over.  Megan's letter and the tasks she has prepared for Nell take her on a journey in the midst of her grief.  Even as Meg's life is ending, she sends her beloved friend on an adventure to help her learn to live again.   This is a heartwarming book that I would recommend to all.

     The Inn At Tansy Falls is only 99 cents on Kindle right now at the link below!  That's a great buy.

     I received a free copy of this Book from Bookouture via Netgalley.  My review is voluntary.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cate Woods made the most of her university degree in Anglo-Saxon Literature by embarking on a career making tea on programmes including The Big Breakfast, Who Wants to be a Millionaire and French & Saunders. After narrowly missing out on the chance to become a Channel 5 weather girl, she moved into the world of magazine journalism, then ghostwriting and now writes novels under her own name. She has written two best-selling romantic comedies – Just Haven’t Met You Yet and More Than a Feeling – and a festive novel, The Christmas Guest, under the name Daisy Bell. Cate lives in London with her husband and two children.

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Borrowed Treasure

UPDATED TO ADD REVIEW–SEE BELOW

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Congratulations to author, Jessica Tastet on the release of her latest novel, Borrowed Treasure! Read on for more info and a chance to win a digital copy of the book!

Borrowed Treasure CoverBorrowed Treasure

Publication Date: April 13th, 2021

Genre: Womens Fiction/ Clean Romance

Publisher: Dandelion Wish Publishing

Sissy Ames has been driven to succeed her entire life. On her own, she’s turned her Bittersweet Café into a success, and she’s rebuilt a friendship with her cousin Harper after years of going it alone, but her past bad judgement in trusting Hunter Wells during their relationship continues to cast shadows on the future she’s trying to build for herself.

Hunter Wells has been coasting through life, working at the family business and creating the life that his family expects for him. He’d once hoped for a different existence, but he’d been forced to move on and make do after Sissy Ames had ended their three-year relationship without an explanation.

Even in their small town, the two have managed to avoid each other, but then Hunter’s fiancée, Sissy’s nemesis, disappears after a suspicious confrontation, leaving them both looking like likely suspects. The only hope they have of clearing their names and figuring out what led to the disappearance is to find the one item that drove them apart two years ago.

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Excerpt

Sissy

              Sissy Ames ducked behind the ostentatious flower arrangement with its oversized lilies and Hyacinthian sprays shooting out at unnatural angles. The thickness hid the center of the room but exposed her to the tableclothed tables lining either side where the overdressed elite of Thibodaux and its surrounding areas sat. Tonight represented everything she typically avoided, mainly so that she could stay out of the proximity of the woman commanding the center floor. Why her arch nemesis must flit around the ballroom gloating about her latest accomplishment was beyond Sissy. That woman’s pretentious fake smile and sickly-sweet voice had followed Sissy wherever she went in the large ballroom until her hands had begun to shake and her jaw to ache from the clenching.

              Harper, her cousin, approached from the buffet table near the rear of the room.  “The lobster bisque’s edible.” Holding out a tiny plastic bowl towards Sissy, Harper shrugged bare shoulders in defeat. Although the food lacked appeal, Harper certainly stunned in the black skintight number Sissy had sent over for her to wear tonight. Sissy had been right to prod the usually casual attired woman into vintage satin as it hugged her hips and showed off the curvy body that Sissy unfortunately did not possess. Sissy had inherited her mother’s straight form among other genetics she wished she could trade in. 

              Accepting the ecru soup, Sissy’s eyes scanned the crowd, looking for Cecelia Domangue, the bane of her existence since they were fifteen years old and fighting over president of student council. Currently, the petite blonde in a fuchsia Valentino stood chatting with a town councilman and the sheriff, her fake laugh chiming her existence from twenty feet away.

              Sissy ran a clear plastic spoon through the watery consistency of the bisque. In her head she mentally critiqued the recipe’s minimal usage of cream.  “Anything has to be better than that beef dish.”

              Narrowing her emerald eyes, Harper twisted her lips and flashed Sissy a familiar look. Sissy’s cheeks warmed. Her resentment must be showing.

Sissy had submitted a bid to cater the fundraiser tonight in an attempt at a business expansion, but her bid had been accepted under condition. As the serving contract had been awarded to Cecelia’s restaurant Twilight Fare, Sissy would have to submit her recipes to Cecelia for approval and preparation. As if Sissy would ever turn over her recipes to the woman who’d opened a restaurant blocks over in her continuing effort to encroach on every aspect of Sissy’s life. Even if Sissy’s own Bittersweet Café catered to a different crowd than Cecelia’s Twilight Fare, that woman had branched right into catering which Sissy had cautiously tested the waters only a month before Cecelia had gone full blown into advertising her own services.

              Harper glanced away to scan the room, and Sissy returned to the soup, which she knew she could have done better.  “How long do we have to stay?”

              Discarding the bowl, Sissy picked up her champagne glass from the table instead. At least they’d bought the good stuff.  “We need to be sure the right people see our faces, but besides from that, the committee already has our hundred bucks a head, so I don’t think they care if we are here an hour or close the place down.”

              Tonight’s fundraiser for the Downtown Revitalization committee had the special purpose of raising money to spruce up the downtown area with seasonal decorations to help promote the Christmas festival. The event had filled the local university ballroom with the social society of the small-town area and all its neighboring towns to be sure. As part of the committee, Sissy had aided in promoting the event, even though Cecelia’s recent addition to the committee had managed to sway votes and shut her out of the menu selections.

              Harper picked up her own glass from the table and sipped. “I see a few local lawyers from Emmett’s last mixer. I’ll go over and say hello. If I’m lucky, I may get home early enough to speak to Emmett before the different time zones mean he’s sleeping.”

              Sissy had Cecelia in her crosshairs, and she waited for her to prance to another unsuspecting guest, so she could emerge from behind the flowers that Sissy had voted against. Currently, Cecelia stood near Rudy Klingman, councilman for her district, who dropped in every Wednesday for a number six special, and she’d promised to propose streetlamps to him on behalf of the committee. Distracted, she asked Harper. “Any indication when he’s going to return from New York?”

              Harper shrugged. “He says the case should wrap up in a day or two. I believe he’s enjoying it way too much.”

              Sissy waved Harper’s doubt away with her champagned hand. “Pish, Emmett will be home soon, and you two will be making me sick with your sweetness.”

              Harper smiled, her olive complexion flushing. “Okay, no arguing with my date tonight, especially since you drove. Let’s make our rounds and be out of here in thirty minutes.”

              Sissy nodded and raised her flute in the air as if to toast. “That’s a plan I can drink to.”

              Harper clinked her glass against Sissy’s, and then they departed into the mingling crowd.

              Avoiding Cecelia’s group, Sissy slunk over to Suzy Rhodes, greeting a few of the lawyers and two judges that frequented her business for lunch during the week. In her two-piece blue suit, Suzy stood removed from the invitees, her eyes watching everyone. Her stance hadn’t changed since high school although she’d updated her attire to pant suits and cut her hair into a short bob she tucked behind her ears. Back then, she’d taken photos for the yearbook and everyone had wanted her attention to get within the pages. Today, she wrote a monthly column in the local entertainment magazine, specifically a review of local eateries. Sissy had attempted getting the café featured for months now, even sending a personalized gift certificate two months ago. The woman had never responded to the invitation nor shown up as even a patron, but Cecelia’s Twilight Fare had been prominently featured, not only as a food review but as a front-page feature on up and coming restaurant owners.

              Suzy Rhodes smiled, her cheeks dimpling as Sissy approached. “Why, Sissy Ames, I’m surprised to see you at a swanky function like this. Not your usual soiree, huh?”

              Plastering a smile on her face, Sissy drew upon her southern manners she knew lay beyond her desire to give the woman a good tongue lashing. “Since my café is located in the center of downtown, I have a vested interest in its revitalization efforts.”

              Laughing airily, Suzy’s eyes wandered the room as if bored with the conversation. “Right, that’s true, your little café is down there. I never remember it’s there.”

              Sissy raised an eyebrow, holding her glass closer to her lips. “I know. I’ve invited you several times as part of that little column of yours, but you have yet to accept my invitation.”

              A short, fierce laugh escaped as Suzy’s eyes met Sissy’s. She returned to her survey of the room just as quickly though. “My lord Sissy, I can’t accept every invitation I receive.”

              “Hmm.” Sissy scanned the room, her eyes naturally falling upon Cecelia, who stood facing Chef Homme from Le Homme, the elegant downtown restaurant. The two’s expressions revealed deep, serious conversation—too serious for a social mixer. “Is that why your material has been repetitive?”

              Suzy’s stance shifted. “Excuse me?”

              Sissy smiled, tilting her head. “Oh, I thought you were just so busy that you recycled material from the same four restaurants. Everyone has been talking.”

              Sissy continued smiling as Suzy’s eyes lit with anger. The dark haired, flat nosed woman bit her tongue though. They’d all been raised too southern to truly speak their minds at events such as these.

              “Well, it was nice running into you,” Sissy said, bowing her head in exit. “But I see a city council member I need to have a word with about lamp posts.”          

              Sissy pivoted, feeling a surge of confidence from the conversation. Moments ago, she’d hid behind hideous flowers to avoid her high school tormentor, but they had grown up, even though some didn’t behave as if they had. Cecelia and even Suzy hid behind country club houses and designer labels still, making others feel as if they didn’t measure up in the circles they all moved in. She had to remind herself in their vicinity that she was proud of her downtown renovated apartment and scavenged consignment finds.

              Spotting Cecelia ahead on her path though, she pivoted and turned the other way to avoid her. She told herself that with her new found attitude, she would probably lose her southern manners and regret it later.

              Her attention lingered too long over Cecelia, and when she turned, she hit a wall of black cashmere and white softened woven cotton. Reaching her hand out, she pushed herself away, inhaling the masculine smell of sandalwood and musk. From his chest hugging shirt, her eyes followed the Italian silk woven tie in its beautiful pastel green and yellow swirl pattern. The feminine color selection had been a brave choice for a function such as this where the men showcased their masculinity and their pocketbooks. So, he either didn’t know better or his power came with his name.

              She continued on up to his tie’s perfectly anchored knot and landed on the chiseled jawline and soft brown, waiting eyes of Hunter Wells.

Her nose flared as she inhaled deeply, an awareness of their nearness. She took a step back.

“Excuse me.” Sissy felt her cheeks burn as the back of her neck flushed.

              A light flickered in his warm chocolate eyes.

              “Of course.” Hunter nodded, and his lip twitched. “How have you been?”

              Hearing her heart pound in her throat, Sissy straightened her spine, bracing herself for the old anger to return, but his nearness tempered any old residual anger.

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About the Author

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Born and raised in Raceland, Louisiana, near Bayou Lafourche, Jessica Tastet uses the places and people of her childhood to create the backdrop of her fictional South Louisiana town in her Raleigh Cheramie series as well as her Treasure Trilogy.

An avid reader, she began writing stories in the sixth grade. The result was a mystery story she promptly shared with all her family and whoever she could convince to read it. She learned the first of many valuable writing lessons with this endeavor: don’t draw your characters too close to real-life people. Since then. she has earned her editing certification from the University of California and an MFA in Creative Writing from National University in California. Presently, she resides in her hometown with her husband and five teenagers where she works with Curriculum for the local school district.

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BOOK REVIEW – BONNIE READS AND WRITES

This is a pleasant romance with a slight mystery and themes of lost love, lack of communication, and rebuilding trust. The “villain” is quite over the top and a stereotypical selfish relationship wrecker. I wish she had been more unique. I enjoyed the setting in the cafe/restaurant business. I’m always up for reading about food. I found the problems between Hunter and Sissy were just not complicated enough and could have been solved with one conversation. The mystery was pretty easy to figure out and the ending of the book fairly predictable, but overall this was a fun read.

Beloved Woman

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Welcome to the tour for historical romance, Beloved Woman by Sheri Peppers! Read on for more details and a chance to win an Amazon gift card worth $15!

Beloved Woman Book Cover for toursBeloved Woman: A Historical Novel

Publication Date: January 2020

Genre: Historical Romance/ Historical Fiction

Beloved Woman, a Historical Romance takes place in 1705 in the Allegheny Mountains, South Carolina. Bryanna, a strong, privileged young English woman loses the love of her life, her father, to a brutal and bloody campsite attack by Iroquois renegades. Injured, and so full of grief, she grows determined to learn the ways of the Cherokee and become a respected war woman called Beloved Woman in the Cherokee town of Toxaway. This is the only way to find her father’s killer and have peace within herself once again.

Black Bear, the Red Chief is enamored by Bryanna’s courage and beautiful charm, so much that he desires to help her in every way he can. She rejects him, blaming all Indians for her father’s murder. Still, his strength and determination bring them together as they face amazing obstacles to find the Iroquois renegades who were spreading havoc and murder across the great mountains. Can Bryanna learn the ways of these amazing people in this untamed land, and find her peace, and maybe love, once again?

Although the story is fiction, the customs, names of the towns, and ways of the Beloved Woman are authentic.

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About the Author

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Sheri studied writing and screenwriting at University of California Los Angeles, and Moorpark College in California.  She is an avid history buff with an emphasis on the American Indian, and a former member of the Romance Writer’s of America.  Retired with an 18-year background in aerospace, she now lives in Thousand Oaks, California, where she is working on a sequel to Beloved Woman and plans for several projects.

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Book Review: The Queen’s Dressmaker

BOOK REVIEW–BONNIE READS AND WRITES

Giselle is a wardrobe assistant in the palace in Versailles attending the glamorous but troubled Marie Antoinette. This book follows the last few years of Marie Antoinette’s life and the events leading up to her death. Through Giselle and her beau Leon, we see the politics and violence as the French Revolution begins. As much as she believes in more rights for the people, Giselle also feels empathy for the Royal Family. Will those conflicting sympathies place her in danger?

The first half of this book moved a little slowly for me as I struggled to connect with the main character, Giselle. At the same time the description of Marie Antoinette as she tried to cope with the escalating events was fascinating. About halfway through the book, the story picked up and I finally became interested in Giselle and Leon as well. The second half of the book was filled with danger, intrigue, and romance as events escalated and Giselle’s two worlds collided. The book ended with the possibility of a sequel, because Giselle’s adventure is still continuing. Despite the slow start, I would give this three and a half stars, rounded up to four.

I received a free copy of this book from Bookouture via Netgalley . My review is voluntary.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Meghan Masterson graduated from the University of Calgary with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Communications Studies, and has worked several unrelated jobs while writing on the side. When not writing, Meghan can often be found reading at all hours (even at breakfast), practicing archery and roaming through the woods with her dog.

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