#BlogTour and #BookReview: Death at The Lychgate #AmyRowlingsMysteries #SpellboundBooks



It’s Sunday morning, and the body of Reverend Villiers has been found propped up on the vigil seat in the church’s lychgate. It appears that he has been poisoned.

When amateur sleuth and regular churchgoer Amy Rowlings arrives, she finds DI Bodkin already at the scene. Bodkin tells her about a cryptic scripture reference that has been scrawled in chalk on the stone slabs beneath the body. What the citation hints at, shocks everyone.


This is Book 2 in the Amy Rowlings Mysteries. It can be read as a standalone. The local vicar has been murdered and it is an apparent poisoning. Amy Rowlings and DI Bodkin are on the case, and they soon discover that there has been much more going on than it seems.

I love that Amy uses lessons learned from Agatha Christie’s character Hercule Poirot to help her in her investigation. The romance between Amy and DI Bodkin is sweet and is moving forward nicely. The townsfolk are endearing and delightful, but some of them are hiding secrets. The mystery has some clever twists and turns that will keep you guessing. There are other truths to be uncovered behind the vicar’s murder, and those truths add even more layers to this mystery. Fans of historical mysteries and Agatha Christie in particular should check this one out.

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


T A Belshaw is from Derbyshire in the United Kingdom where he shares a house with his chatty rescue cat, Mia. He writes for both children and adults. A former miner and computer technician, Trevor studied Advanced Creative Writing at the Open University. He is the author of Tracy’s Hot Mail, Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail and the noir, suspense novella, Out of Control. Following the sudden death of his wife in 2015 Trevor took a five-year break from writing, returning during lockdown in 2020, when an injury forced him to take time off work. The result of this new creative burst was the Dual Timeline, Family Saga, Unspoken and the Historical Cosy Crime Whodunnit, Murder at the Mill.

Trevor signed his first contract with Spellbound Books Ltd in April 2021. He signed a further mullti-book contract with them in the spring of 2022.

His short stories have been published in various anthologies including 100 Stories for Haiti, 50 Stories for Pakistan, Another Haircut, Shambelurkling and Other Stories, Deck the Halls, 100 Stories for Queensland and The Cafe Lit anthology 2011, 2012 and 2013. He also has two pieces in Shambelurklers Return. 2014

Trevor is also the author of 15 children’s adventure books written under the name of Trevor Forest.

His children’s poem, Clicking Gran, was long listed for the Plough prize (children’s section) in 2009 and his short poem, My Mistake, was rated Highly Commended and published in an anthology of the best entries in the Farringdon Poetry Competition.

Trevor’s articles have been published in magazines as diverse as Ireland’s Own, The Best of British and First Edition.


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Blog tour and #audiobook review: An Autumn Kiss #VictorianRomance


  • Genre:Historical Romance, Victorian Romance, Inspirational Fiction
  • Publisher: Mirror Press (September 20, 2022)
  • Length: (275) pages
  • Format: Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook 
  • ISBN: 978-1952611308


An Autumn Kiss is the seventh book in the Timeless Victorian Collection, a bestselling anthology series from Mirror Press. The book features three novellas from acclaimed historical romance authors whose stories reveal if one kiss will change the lives of the three heroines.

“The Plucky Miss Ruth,” by Laura Rollins

Miss Ruth Hughes is certain she’s caught in a time loop—every day she wakes to find it exactly as the one before. A thrilling prospect to be sure. If the many books she reads on time travel has taught her anything, it is that to break free she must complete an all-important task. For Ruth the task is straightforward: reunite a couple, once desperately in love but forced apart by society. Unfortunately, things are not always as easy as they first appear. Struggling, Ruth opens up to the handsome Lord Lambert and he readily agrees to help. With autumn on the brink of turning into winter, time is running out for Ruth to help the ones who need her most. And, with a bit of luck, perhaps she can even find a little time for her own happily ever after.

“Mr. Dowling’s Remedy,” by Annette Lyon

Crandall Dowling’s aspirations of becoming a physician collapse when he develops symptoms that land him in an asylum. He’s been at Sherville Retreat long enough for autumn leaves to appear when Beverly Stanton arrives. She’s held under the dubious diagnosis of “hysteria” but seems perfectly sane, unlike Crandall, though his verbal and physical tics don’t seem to scare or even bother her. Beverly and Crandall develop a friendship fueled by an undeniable attraction that under other circumstances could become more. But in an asylum, one cannot plan a future, let alone one of love or marriage. Then tragedy strikes, testing staff and patients beyond anyone’s training. When the dust settles, Beverly’s diagnosis may be reversed, but if she leaves, what will become of her? What of Crandall? And what of their autumn-born love?

“A Railway Through the Roses,” by Lisa H. Catmull

Mr. Adrian Everard has tried everything to keep his father’s factory open, but a single solution remains. Marry an heiress before Christmas to fund the desperately needed railway. The local landowner, Lady Anne Baxter, will not agree to sell her garden—or her heart. Indeed, his childhood friend is determined to sabotage all his efforts to find a wife. As the deadline for Adrian to choose a bride draws close, one thing becomes painfully obvious. Saving the factory will mean losing the woman he loves forever.


Since 2015, Mirror Press has been presenting the Timeless Romance Collection, a curated anthology of novellas and short stories featuring bestselling authors from the contemporary and historical romance genres. The collection has hit the USA TODAY bestselling list and charted at #1 at Amazon.com. Learn more about the series and other anthologies published by Mirror Press at their website.  


  • 5 STARS – “…a fun collection and each of them have something unique from most of the romances I’ve read. Very enjoyable reading.”— Maria Thomas, Goodreads
  • “This anthology is truly wonderful. Each story is very distinct from the others, and each is also very compelling. It will keep you reading and wanting more with each page and chapter.”— Shauna Jones, Goodreads
  • 5 STARS “absolutely adored this collection of short stories! I would recommend this collection to anyone who needs an escape for a couple of hours.”— Jzcotter03, Goodreads


This entertaining audiobook shares three Victorian novellas, all with the theme of “an autumn kiss.” Despite a shared theme, they are all very different and entertaining in their own way.

The Plucky Miss Ruth is a light romance with a twist–Ruth is caught in a time loop. Every day is the same, and she must find a way to break the pattern. This romance does not have a lot of twists and turns, but sometimes that is not needed, as the characters are engaging and the romance is sweet. This is great for a light autumn read.

Mr. Dowling’s Remedy by Annette Lyon has an intriguing plot. Beverly Stanton has been committed to an asylum by her stepfather, who had her diagnosed with “hysteria” to get her out of the way. Crandall Dowling has been at Sterling for six months, since he began to exhibit symptoms of what we now know as Tourette’s Syndrome. They strike up a friendship, which they are immediately told is forbidden, for the doctors feel that Crandall is possessed. This was my favorite of the collection, as it examines the inhumane treatment and abuse that patients received at asylums in that era, and the way the “hysteria” diagnosis was used to manipulate women and take their property. It is also the story I would choose to be expanded into a full book.

In A Railway to the Roses by Lisa Catmull, Adrian Everhard needs to fund a railway to keep his father’s factory open, but marriage to a wealthy woman seems to be the only way. His father arranges a house party for Adrian to meet eligible women. Lady Anne Baxter is Adrian’s childhood friend. She is outraged that a railway has been proposed which will run right through her beloved garden, and she refuses to marry any “fortune hunters.” At the same time, she is determined to undermine Adrian’s attempts to marry for money. This is a sweet “friends to romance” story. The characters are engaging and well-written, and I enjoyed the romance and history entwined in the story.

The narration by Kim Bretton is very well done. She takes on three different stories and a plethora of characters and situations with ease.

The cover is absolutely beautiful, and the fall color in the dress is stunning.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from the publishers via Austenprose Book Tours. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.


Laura Rollins

Laura Rollins has always loved a heart-melting happily ever after. It didn’t matter if the story took place in Regency England, or in a cobbler’s shop, if there was a sweet romance, she would read it.

​Life has given her many of her own adventures. Currently she lives in the Rocky Mountains with her best friend, who is also her husband, and their four beautiful children. She still loves to read books and more books; her favorite types of music are classical, Broadway, and country; she loves hiking in the mountains near her home; and she’s been known to debate with her oldest son about whether Infinity is better categorized as a number or an idea.


Annette Lyon

Annette Lyon is a USA Today bestselling author, a 9-time recipient of Utah’s Best in State medal for fiction (three times for novel-length works and five times for short fiction), and a Whitney Award winner for BAND OF SISTERS. She’s the author of over a dozen novels, at least that many novellas, a cookbook, a popular grammar guide, and over a hundred magazine articles.

She’s a founder and regular contributor of the Timeless Romance Anthologies line of sweet romance stories, which she served as editor for its first three years. She’s also one of the four co-authors of The Newport Ladies Book Club series. She graduated cum laude from BYU with a degree in English.


Lisa H. Catmull

I write clean and wholesome romances in the Victorian era and sweet contemporary romances. My books have been nominated for Swoony, RONE, and Whitney awards. 

I taught Middle School English and History for seven years before pursuing screenwriting and writing. I currently live between a canyon and a lake in Utah with my husband, two cats, and two rambunctious children.




Blog Tour and Excerpt: Millstone of Doubt #RegencyRomance #HistoricalFiction


  • Title:Millstone of Doubt: Thorndike and Swann Regency Mysteries (Book 2)
  • Series: Thorndike and Swann Regency Mysteries
  • Author:Erica Vetsch
  • Genre:Historical Mystery, Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction
  • Publisher: ‎Kregel Publications (September 20, 2022)
  • Length: (304) pages
  • Format: Trade paperback & eBook 
  • ISBN: 978-0825447143
  • Tour Dates: September 19 – October 3, 2022


A Bow Street Runner and a debutante in London Society use their skills to find the killer of a wealthy businessman, but the killer’s secrets aren’t the only ones they will uncover.

Caught in the explosion of the Hammersmith Mill in London, Bow Street runner Daniel Swann rushes to help any survivors only to find the mill’s owner dead of an apparent gunshot–but no sign of the killer.

Even though the owner’s daughter, Agatha Montgomery, mourns his death, she may be the only one. It seems there are more than a few people with motive for murder. But Daniel can’t take this investigation slow and steady. Instead, he must dig through all the suspects as quickly as he can because the clock is ticking until his mysterious patronage–and his job as a runner–comes to an abrupt and painful end. It seems to Daniel that, like his earthly father, his heavenly Father has abandoned him.
Lady Juliette Thorndike is Agatha’s bosom friend and has the inside knowledge of the wealthy London ton to be invaluable to Daniel. She should be in a perfect position to help with the case. But when her trusted instructor in the art of spy craft orders her to stay out of the investigation, Lady Juliette obeys. That is, until circumstances intervene, and she drops right into the middle of the deadly pursuit.

When a dreadful accident ends in another death on the mill floor, Daniel discovers a connection to his murder case–and to his own secret past. Now he and Juliette are in a race to find the killer before his time runs out.


  • “An artfully told story that will have you wondering at the outcome until the final pages are read.” —Ruth Logan Herne, USA Today best-selling author
  • “…a fully satisfying mystery. I can’t wait to read the next one!” —Jocelyn Green, Christy Award–winning author of Drawn by the Current
  • “I am sure fans of the first book in this series will revel in the deepening relationship between Daniel Swann and Juliette Thorndike.” —Alissa Baxter, author of The Viscount’s Lady Novelist
  • Millstone of Doubt captivated me from the first sentence and kept me guessing the entire novel…Erica Vetsch is the master of all things Regency.” —Lorri Dudley, author of The Duke’s Refuge
  • “5 Stars. Millstone of Doubt is a compelling Regency mystery with plenty of romance. Michelle Griep fans (or any Regency fan in general) will love this novel.”— Jennifer Purcell, ChristianBooks.com


Daniel opened his eyes, his head throbbing. His body felt pulped, as if he’d been trampled by a herd of Highland cattle. Something bit into his cheek as he lay sprawled on the cobbles, and he tasted the coppery tang of blood.

Sprawled on the cobbles? Why was he on the ground? Had he fallen?

His thoughts scattered and fragmented, refusing to organize.

He blinked hard, wincing against the throbbing inside his skull.

Had someone hit him?

Drawing in his arms and planting his palms on the rough stones, he pushed himself away from the ground, pausing on hands and knees to ease the dizziness swirling behind his eyes. To his left, a horse lay on its side, kicking and struggling, tangled in the harness like a fly in a web. The animal’s mouth was open, but no sound came out—or at least no sound that could be heard above the ringing in Daniel’s head. He straightened to his knees and pressed his palms to his temples.

What happened? He tried to draw a deep breath, but dust and smoke choked him, and he gagged, coughing, doing an agony to his head. He staggered to his feet. Rocks and rubble littered the small courtyard.

A man stumbled by, eyes wide, face streaked with blood and dirt.

His head and shoulders were covered with white powder.

Daniel turned a slow circle, unsure of where he was, until his eyes lit on the carriage with the Earl of Thorndike’s crest on the black door.

The mill. The trip to find Mr. Montgomery . . .

Lady Juliette! What had become of her? He swung wildly, looking one direction and then another, but he couldn’t see her anywhere. She had been emerging from the carriage when whatever had happened

. . . happened.

The carriage had slid several yards, dragging the horses backward and to the ground. One would never trot again, and the other continued to thrash. The driver was nowhere to be seen, but the tiger, a youngster of thirteen or fourteen summers, bent at the head of the struggling horse, trying to calm him. As Daniel moved toward the vehicle, the door opened and the viscount’s head and shoulders emerged. His hat was gone, and his cape wrapped around his shoulders as if trying to strangle him.

His eyes were wild. He mouthed something to Daniel, beckoning him before disappearing within once more. Or had he spoken aloud? Daniel’s ears still rang so loudly he heard nothing else. It was as if someone had locked him in a glass room with a banshee. He could see the world around him, but nothing else penetrated his shrieking prison. He glanced toward the end of the street. Yellow flames licked through the gaping doorway of the mill. Every window was an empty eye socket, no glass to be seen. Rock dust filled the air, and men ran past him from the center of the town toward the burning building,

buffeting him in their haste.

Daniel reached the carriage and peered inside. The maid and Miss Montgomery bent over Lady Juliette, who lay on the floor. She must have been knocked back when the mill . . .


That must have been what happened. A mill explosion.

He’d heard of such things, but he’d never been close enough to one to become collateral damage.

Coatsworth sagged into the corner of the coach once more, his limbs lax, staring. Miss Montgomery’s carefully arranged hair now lay in auburn tangles on her neck and cheeks, but she gave all her attention to Lady Juliette.

“Is she injured?” Daniel asked, startled to find he couldn’t even hear his own voice. When Miss Montgomery gave him no heed, he had to assume her ears were ringing as well. He touched her sleeve.

At that moment Lady Juliette jerked, her body stiffening as she came to herself. Her legs stirred, and Daniel realized that far more of her shapely limbs showed than was proper. And something poked beneath her petticoat, affixed to her leg just above the knee. Was that a pistol in a holster? He had no notion what a woman’s underpinnings looked like, but he was certain weaponry wasn’t standard issue. He reached in and tugged her hem down.

The maid blinked, and her mobcap tumbled off her head. She had a red mark on her cheek that would soon blossom into a bruise. They must have been tossed about like pebbles in a jar when the blast hit.

Though Miss Montgomery tried to prevent her, Lady Juliette sat upright. Her pelisse tangled about her arms, and she eased aside the cloth, as if she wasn’t quite sure of her movements.

“Lady Juliette, are you injured?” Daniel asked. He couldn’t gauge how loudly he was talking, but it must have been quite loud, for with a pop, his ears began to work, and the last word all but echoed in the confined space.

With the inrush of sound, he began to understand the chaos going on around them. The horse’s screams, shouting, the crackle of fire, boots on cobbles . . . somewhere a woman or child sobbing.

Lady Juliette pushed her hair out of her eyes and edged toward the door.

He reached for her waist to draw her out of the carriage. She put her hands on his shoulders, and he easily lifted her and set her feet on the ground. Keeping hold of her, he bent to look into her eyes. Was she steady enough to stand alone?

Her hands gripped his shoulders, and his spanned her waist. As she inhaled, he felt the movement of her ribs. Heat rushed into his ears, and his heart tripped. He had never held a woman in such a way. He wanted to draw her close, to put his arms properly around her and protect her, to usher her to safety away from the pandemonium going on around them.

Brazen thoughts for a mere officer of the court to think about the daughter of an earl.

“Thank you.” Her voice sounded quavery, but she stepped back. He let her go, staying close lest she succumb to faintness. With shaking fingers, she loosened her bonnet strings and retrieved her bonnet from where it trailed down her back. Looking around her at the tumult, she let the now-battered straw millinery fall to the street.

“Are you injured?” he asked again. He could see no damage, but he must make certain.

“I do not believe so. Merely shaken.” She gulped in a breath and coughed. Dust sifted from the air, landing on her dark hair and the shoulders of her pelisse. “What happened?” She looked up at him properly for the first time, and her face went pale as milk. She blinked and swayed, and he gripped her again.

“Blood.” The word strangled its way out of her throat. She wavered so much he feared she would collapse, but as he bent to pick her up and place her back in the carriage, she planted her palms on his chest and pushed. “You’re bleeding.” She stared at his mouth, gripping the doorframe of the carriage.

He touched the corner of his lips, and his fingers came away red. He must have cut himself when he fell. Using his cuff, he swiped at the blood. Lady Juliette could not stand the sight of blood, as he remembered from her encounter with ruffians in a London alley mere weeks ago.

“Little harm has been done. I am well, I assure you.” He’d suffered worse wounds shaving.

Chapter 2, pages 26 – 29




Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling author and ACFW Carol Award winner and has been a Romantic Times top pick for her previous books. She loves Jesus, history, romance, and watching sports. This transplanted Kansan now makes her home in Rochester, Minnesota.


Indie Weekend: Deuce by Gail Meath #cozymysteries #bookreviews #germanshepherds #indiebooks

Indie weekend is my effort to help Indie authors market their books. Indie authors have to do it all, including marketing, so if I can help even a little bit, I’m happy to do so. Below is my review of Deuce by Gail Meath, the third book in her wonderful Jax Diamond Mysteries series. Disclosure: I am also the editor.


One for sorrow, two for spice triggers a game of three blind mice.

While vacationing in New England, PI Jax Diamond and his courageous canine partner, Ace, bite off more than they can chew when two small town deaths reveal two big time killers, and the locals don’t take too kindly to strangers.

Laura Graystone, Broadway star, auto expert, and Jax’s heartthrob, is once again front and center digging for clues while trying to ditch an old boyfriend. That is, until her brother becomes Jax’s prime suspect. Then all hell breaks loose, and Ace is left in the lurch, tracking down leads with his new sidekick, Susie.

A crazy duet of crimes sends Jax, Laura and Ace into a tailspin in small-town USA during the Roaring Twenties. Where no one is above the law, everyone is a suspect, and time is running out before the clock strikes one.


Deuce is the third book in the Jax Diamond Mysteries series. In this series, private detective Jax, his wily German Shepherd partner, Ace, and Jax’s girlfriend, Broadway singer Laura Graystone, solve crimes in New York City. In Book three, Jax, Laura, and Ace head to Laura’s hometown of Millbury, MA in order to investigate the death of Laura’s father several years before. As soon as they arrive, Jax finds a body, but when he attempts to show it to the police, it is gone! Laura’s old “boyfriend” who was never a boyfriend, Pete, is also a deputy sheriff who tries to throw a wrench into Jax’s investigation.

I just adore these characters. Jax, Laura, and Ace are a wonderful team, and they are soon joined by a familiar face from New York. The small town setting in Millbury is a fun escape, and we learn a bit of history about the town. While the investigation involves the murder of Laura’s father and others, we also get a peek into Jax’s own history. The characters are just fantastic, as always. Jax is a sharp investigator and a great romantic partner for Laura. Laura’s expertise goes beyond singing because she knows everything about cars, as her late father was a racecar driver who worked on cars. Ace, of course, steals the show, and is always there to assist Jax and Laura.

The mystery is complex, and I could not figure out who the “culprit” was until the end. The story moves along well and I was entertained throughout. The book ends with a promise of a return to New York and Broadway, so I can’t wait! I highly recommend this mystery series to fans of cozy mysteries and dog lovers.

I received a free copy of this book but also purchased a copy. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

Readers can look forward to books four and five: Book 4, Two of a Kind: The Beginning is a Christmas novella about how Jax and Ace met. It is coming out in December. Book 5, Blackjack, is set back in New York City as Jax looks for his own family. It will be out June of 2023.


Gail Meath is the author of the multi-award-winning Jax Diamond Mysteries series, the story of a wise-cracking ex-cop turned PI, his sweet German Shepherd partner, and Broadway singing heartthrob as they solve crazy crimes during the Roaring Twenties. “Think Sam Spade meets Judy Garland.”

Gail has always been a dreamer and lover of romance and history, and she finally picked up the pen to write plot-twisting mysteries, heart-wrenching westerns, and powerful biographies of fascinating yet unknown heroines of the past. She lives with her fabulous husband and beloved Boston Terrier on their own golden pond in a small village in Upstate New York. Connect with Gail on her website at GailMeath.com, on her Facebook page, or on Instagram. .


Buy the whole series by clicking on the image above.


*If you buy the book(s), please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books.  Some people feel very daunted by writing a review. Don’t worry. You do not have to write a masterpiece. Just a couple of lines about how the book made you feel will make the author’s day and help the book succeed. The more reviews a book has, the more Amazon will promote it.

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Blog tour and #bookreview: The Safe Game by Wes Verde #RRbooktours

Roy, Urbane, and Victoria are three individuals who possess different talents, and that makes them a very good team of con artists.  Despite that, they are living hand to mouth and working for small change, moving from place to place to avoid the law.  That is, until a possible big score presents itself.   Suddenly they are in even more trouble, running from both police and gangsters while trying to stay out of jail as well as alive.  Set in the 1920s, this is a well-crafted and clever gangland adventure.

I connected easily with this team of cons and found myself cheering them on even as they were taking advantage of people.  At one point they locked all of their pursuers and the law in a town jail, and that was just rip-roaring fun.  The varying viewpoints allow us to connect with all three cons and learn their thoughts and personalities.  Urbane is the one whose feelings are most deeply revealed to us and thus became my favorite.   With a bit of romance, a lot of action, and clever twists and turns, this is a 1920s adventure that you don’t want to miss.  The author’s note at the end mentions historical events which are woven into the novel. I must also mention the captivating cover of this book, which sets the scene and draws the reader in.

My rating is 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 on sites with no half-star option.

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


Wes Verde is an engineer by trade, a busybody by habit, and a lifelong Jersey boy.

Writing has been a hobby in one form or another since 2006 when he started drawing 3-panel comics. When he is not putting words down, he is picking them up; the “to-read” pile only seems to grow larger.

A fan of nature, he spends as much time outside as possible.



Self-Published Saturday: #freebook #indiebooks #cozymysteries

Book Description:


The ebook of Songbird, Book 1 of the Jax Diamond Mystery Series, is free all day today (Sunday, September 11, 2022). Book 2, Framed, is 99 cents. Here are my reviews of both:

Songbird | Framed

This series about Private Detective Jax Diamond, his German Shepherd sidekick, Ace, and Broadway singer Laura Graystone is fantastic! It is set in 1920’s New York City. Check it out.

Click on the covers above to get your copy.

#Booktour and #BookReview: My Name is Ona Judge #therealgeorgewashington

Book Description:

New Hampshire, 1796. “My name is Ona Judge, and I escaped from the household of the President of the United States. I was the favored maid of George and Martha Washington, but they deemed me a slave and thought me property, and I hear ten dollars is offered as reward for my capture. Now I must write the truth that I have lived, and tell my story…”

Chincoteague, Virginia, present day. Rain soaks Tessa Scott as she runs from her car to the old, vine-covered property she has been called to survey. She’s too busy to accept a new job, but doing this favor for the grandmother of her childhood sweetheart delays a painful decision she must make about a future with her controlling boyfriend.

But when Tessa finds a tattered journal carefully hidden inside the house’s ancient fireplace, the tragic story of how Ona was ripped from her mother’s arms to live and work in the palatial Mount Vernon, and the heart-shattering betrayal that led her to risk her life and run, has Tessa spellbound. Could discovering this forgotten scandal at the heart of her nation’s history force her to confront her own story? As she races to reach the final page, will anything prepare her for the desperate moment when Ona’s captors find her again? Will it inspire Tessa to take ownership of her own life and set herself free?

A completely heartbreaking tale of love, loss and redemption, based on an astonishing true story from the founding of America. Perfect for fans of Before We Were Yours, Marie Benedict and America’s First Daughter.


This is the story of Ona Judge, who grew up enslaved at Mount Vernon, owned by George and Martha Washington. It is a dual timeline novel, with Tessa in the modern-day storyline discovering the diary of Ona hidden in an old house.

The story of Ona’s life while enslaved, her treatment by the Washingtons, and her eventual attempt to escape is fascinating. The depiction of George Washington as a wily slave-owner who moved his slaves back and forth between states in order to avoid emancipation laws is definitely disturbing. The author’s depiction of life at Mount Vernon is shocking and makes this a heartbreaking read. The modern-day timeline of Tessa is not very interesting and not needed. Ona’s story could have stood on its own.

I recommend this as a realistic take on the life of George Washington and slavery in the U.S.

I received a free copy of this book from Bookouture via Netgalley. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.


Suzette D. Harrison, a native Californian and the middle of three daughters, grew up in a home where reading was required, not requested. Her literary “career” began in junior high school with the publishing of her poetry. While Suzette pays homage to Alex Haley, Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker, Langston Hughes, and Toni Morrison as legends who inspired her creativity, it was Dr. Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings that unleashed her writing. The award-winning author of Taffy is a wife and mother of two teens, and she holds a culinary degree in pastry and baking. Mrs. Harrison is currently cooking up her next novel…in between batches of cupcakes.




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Book Review: The Duchess of Idaho #OregonTrail #TimeTravel

This is another book that I reviewed for The Historical Novel Society, although I added the second to last paragraph for this blog after publication.

Grace Wentworth’s parents, James and Sarah, share a bond so close that nobody can truly fathom it, not even their daughter. Grace also senses they are keeping a secret that involves her in some way. And then there are her vivid dreams of the past. When Grace goes to visit her grandmother’s farm in Idaho, the mysteries begin to reveal themselves. This is the fifth book in The Loving Husband series. It can be read as a standalone.

This is a fascinating mashup of history, time travel, and the paranormal that will keep you guessing. It starts in present-day California and Idaho and then goes back in time to the Oregon Trail in 1850. There is a strong cast of characters that surrounds Grace in every time and place.  The history of the Oregon Trail is well-researched, and the danger, monotony, and sadness of the trail are well portrayed. Magical friends in both timelines help Grace in her search to understand the truth. Secrets are revealed, and the veil between the real and magical worlds becomes thinner than ever. This is a unique and compelling mix of history and the supernatural that will captivate and sometimes surprise the reader.

As always the method of time travel is important, and this book uses an object fairly well. The rules of time travel in this book seem to be governed by love, the paranormal, and “souls connecting across time.” That’s not my favorite trope, but it’s common in time travel romance. My rating is 3.8 stars.

I received a free copy of this book from Copperfield Press via The Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.


Meredith Allard is the author of the beloved bestselling paranormal historical Loving Husband Trilogy. Her sweet Victorian romance, When It Rained at Hembry Castle, was named a best historical novel by IndieReader. Her other books include Christmas at Hembry Castle; Down Salem Way, the prequel to the Loving Husband Trilogy set around the Salem Witch Trials; Victory Garden, a novel of the American women’s suffrage movement; Woman of Stones, a novella of Biblical Jerusalem; That You Are Here, a contemporary sweet romance; The Window Dresser and Other Stories; and Painting the Past: A Guide for Writing Historical Fiction. When she isn’t writing she’s teaching writing, and she has taught writing to students ages five to 75. She loves books, cats, and coffee, though not always in that order. Her latest release is The Duchess of Idaho, a time-travel romance set on the Oregon Trail. She lives in the hills of Southern Nevada near Las Vegas. Visit Meredith’s website here.

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#bookreview: Long Way Home by #lynnaustin

1946. Peggy is living with her father and working at his auto shop, but spends much of her time helping out at the Barnetts’ veterinary practice across the street. She regularly visits her good friend, the Barnetts’ son Jimmy, who was hospitalized due to a suicide attempt after his service in World War II. Determined to help Jimmy, Peggy begins looking for other soldiers who served with him in the war, and for the woman, Gisela, whose picture was among Jimmy’s possessions.

1939. After the Nazis begin to persecute and murder the Jews, Gisela and her family are put on a ship, the St. Louis, and given passage to Cuba, which had agreed to allow them to settle there. But the ship is turned away in Cuba, and Gisela begins a journey that will end at Buchenwald, where she meets a young American medic named Jimmy.

Lynn Austin has given us another well-woven and meticulously researched historical saga. This dual-timeline novel is set both during and after World War II, and slowly entwines the lives of two young women who are connected by a young soldier. We witness the heartbreaking voyage of the St. Louis as the captain tries in vain to reach a safe harbor, and we see the terror of Jews trying to hide in Nazi-occupied territories. We are shown the horrors of World War II and the struggles of survivors to move forward. A Christian crisis of faith is explored, and primitive mental health surgical practices of the 1940s are brought to light. Long Way Home takes us across the sea and back again, into concentration camps and even to small American towns on an unforgettable journey about the evil of war and the love that brings us through it.

My rating is 4.7 stars, rounded up to five on sites with no partial star option.

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House via The Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.


Lynn Austin

For many years, Lynn Austin nurtured a desire to write but frequent travels and the demands of her growing family postponed her career. When her husband’s work took Lynn to Bogota, Colombia, for two years, she used the B.A. she’d earned at Hope College and Southern Connecticut State University to work as a teacher. After returning to the U.S., the Austins moved to Anderson, Indiana, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and later to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.

Extended family is also very important to Austin, and it was a lively discussion between Lynn, her mother, grandmother, and daughter concerning the change in women’s roles through the generations that sparked the inspiration for her novel Eve’s Daughters.

Along with reading, two of Lynn’s lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published 27 novels. Eight of her historical novels have won Christy Awards for excellence in Christian Fiction: Hidden Places (2001), Candle in the Darkness (2002), Fire by Night (2003), A Proper Pursuit (2007), Until We Reach Home (2008), Though Waters Roar (2009) While We’re Far Apart (2010), and Wonderland Creek (2011). She was inducted into the Christy Award Hall of Fame in 2013. Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn’s novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.


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#bookreview: Jaguar Paloma and the Caketown Bar #Colombia #Outcasts #Misfits


In 1865 in the shanty town of Tartatenango, the Caketown Bar is owned by the extraordinary Jaguar Paloma, matriarch of a village that is home to raucous miscreants, cast-off mothers, muleteers, and forgers. Amid drunken monks, a roaring trade in faked marriages just for fun, and the Romani, all balance on the knife-edge between legality and the illicit. Paloma’s life is honed by this community, as their lives are affected by her mystery and magic.

Co-founder of this extraordinary gathering is Orietta Becerra. Breathtakingly beautiful and ambitious, her distillery builds the success of Caketown. But when she crosses the tracks and marries the town’s mayor, her double life severs her friendship with Paloma and the town starts to pay the highest of prices.

Adding to this land of chaos and feminine power is a forger, a murderer, the darker shade of the female heart, and a Civil War that claims men before their time.

Caketown – men want to destroy it. Women want to play in it. The township itself has to fight on all sides to survive.

Told in evocative magical realism, Jaguar Paloma and the Caketown Bar is a tale of wronged women who stand up to be counted.


1865, Colombia. Betrayed by her family, Paloma sets out on her own with only determination and anger as companions. When the very tall Paloma meets the very beautiful Orietta, a friendship is formed. They start the Caketown Bar, a home for castoffs of all kinds, and it quickly becomes more than a bar. It becomes a society where everyone is accepted, no matter how odd. Fake weddings are held just for fun. It is a happy, successful, and carefree life, until Orietta marries the bank manager.

This is a completely unique and captivating story that quickly drew me in, as each character and their experiences were introduced in such compelling ways. The ability of Paloma, Orietta and their friends to basically build a world where they all belonged in Caketown speaks to the misfit in all of us. This is a story of people who rose above rejection, hatred, and abandonment, built their own world, and then had to battle against the evils of war and a terrible man. It is also a story of mistakes, betrayal, and loss, and the way we fight to come back from that. This novel is steeped in magical realism, but contains an even more powerful magic—the one that happens when a kind soul reaches out to the abandoned or neglected, and they begin to blossom.

I received a free copy of this book from the Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.


Jess Wells is the author of six novels and five books of short stories, winner of a Nautilus Prize for Fiction, a Foreword Reviews Indies Award for Adult Fiction/Romance, the recipient of a San Francisco Arts Commission Grant for Literature, a four-time finalist for the national Lambda Literary Award, and a member of the Saints & Sinners Literary Hall of Fame. Her work has appeared in more than three dozen literary journals and anthologies, and has been reprinted in England and translated into Italian and Dutch. 


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