Sunday Post: Reading and Writing #SundayPost

After working my day job, I’ve been doing lots of reading and writing reviews this week for the May edition of Historical Novels Review, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. That’s the reason I didn’t get much posting done. I have to get the rest of my reviews in to HNS by the 15th.

It’s also the reason why Indie Weekend has been delayed. I still haven’t been able to finish the next book I plan to review, Chronicles of the Golden City, but I should have it done by next week.

Besides working and reading, there was not much else going on this week. I’m not going to make a schedule for next week because it’s up in the air right now.


The book description makes this one sound a bit like The Fugitive. I’m intrigued.

This is an older book, but is out new in audio. It’s about a homicide detective who makes a fresh start as a small-town chief of police. Then she begins investigating a murder in an amusement park.

Yep, Kensington Books has Christmas books out on Netgalley already! It’s not going to be released until late August, but I couldn’t resist the description: “It’s A Wonderful Life meets Groundhog Day.”

How about you? How was your week?

Cover Reveal: Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Lord #HistoricalMystery #RegencyMystery

Below, check out the cover reveal for a new Regency Mystery series, with a book description, letter from the author, and a giveaway!


Bridgerton meets Agatha Christie in Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord, a dazzling first entry in a terrific new Regency-era cozy series with a feminist spin.

When Lady Petra Forsyth’s fiancé and soulmate dies just weeks ahead of their wedding, she makes the shocking proclamation―in front of London’s loosest lips―that she will never remarry. A woman of independent means, Petra sees no reason to cede her wealth and freedom to any man now that the love of her life has passed, nor does she intend to become confined to her country home. Instead, she uses her title to gain access to elite spaces and enjoy the best of society without expectations.

But when ballroom gossip suggests that a longtime friend has died of “melancholia” while in the care of a questionable physician, Petra vows to use her status to dig deeper―uncovering a private asylum where men pay to have their wives and daughters locked away, or worse. Just as Lady Petra has reason to believe her friend is not dead, but a prisoner, her own headstrong actions and thirst for independence are used to put her own freedom in jeopardy.




Celeste Connally is an Agatha Award nominee, and a former freelance writer and editor. A lifelong devotee of historical novels and adaptations fueled by her passion for history—plus weekly doses of PBS Masterpiece—Celeste loves reading and writing about women from the past who didn’t always do as they were told.



Hello, Dear Readers,

I’m incredibly honored you’re here for the cover reveal of the first book in my new historical mystery series, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord.

The idea for this book took hold during the pandemic, when I was watching period dramas on the regular, including all my favorite Jane Austen adaptations and Downton Abbey. And of course, in nearly every one, there was the notion of the unmarried woman being a rather pitiable character. I began thinking about how the spinsters never got to be in the limelight, especially in the Regency period. They were hardly ever seen as strong, or capable, or worthy of respect, and I thought to myself that a main character who valued her independence and embraced her decision not to marry would make for a heroine I would like to write.

And thus, dear readers, I am overjoyed to introduce you to Lady Petra Forsyth. Daughter of the Fifth Earl of Holbrook, accomplished equestrienne, goddaughter to the Duchess of Hillmorton, and a woman in possession of her own fortune.

After the death of her fiancé three years ago, Lady Petra’s already headstrong ways—which include occasionally riding astride in her brother’s old breeches—came to include living her life on her own terms. That is, without a husband—though not everyone sees her decision as the right one, or the ladylike one. And when the purported death of a dear friend seems intertwined with mentions of a mysterious physician, Petra does the most unladylike thing she can: she starts asking questions.

When Petra formed in my mind as a character, I saw her with little bits of some of my favorite…well, almost-spinsters. Such as Emma Woodhouse, who was initially willing to go her own way and remain unmarried in a time where doing just that was an incredible risk for a woman, no matter what her financial status. And then there’s Downton Abbey’s Lady Edith, who recognized her talents and carved out a satisfying life for herself as an entrepreneur and businesswoman. She didn’t let it stop her from romance, either…

Another thing my inspirations for Petra have in common is that I feel they would all have made excellent amateur sleuths. Some would say it’s because spinsters have an inclination toward nosiness, but I would say it’s their sharp minds and a refusal to give up on what’s important. I think Petra certainly begins to develop the knack for investigating—whether or not those around her approve—and I very much hope you’ll enjoy riding alongside her for her very first adventure.

All my best,



Author Celeste Connally and her publisher Minotaur Books are generously offering a fabulous giveaway for your readers that you can add to your post and on social media.

Giveaway Details:

Two (2) winners (selected at random by Rafflecopter) will receive one (1) advanced reader’s paperback copy of Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord.  One (1) winner (selected at random by Rafflecopter) will receive one (1) advanced reader’s paperback copy of Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Lord and a gift prize package containing the following:

  1. A Jane Austen ‘Obstinate, Headstrong Girl’ mug from the Jane Austen Centre giftshop.
  2. A bookmark, and a bookplate signed by the author.
  3. A medley of Harney & Sons teas in various flavors individually wrapped teabags.
  4. A handmade ceramic tea tidy in the shape of a teapot for teabags.
  5. A box of English tea biscuits.

Giveaway period: Open from 12:01 am Pacific time 02/22/23 until 11:59pm Pacific time on 03/19/23.

Terms & Conditions:

The giveaway is hosted by Celeste Connally and Minotaur Books. No purchase is necessary. Entrants must be 18 years or older. Open to US residents only. All information will remain confidential and will not be sold or otherwise used, except to notify the winner and to facilitate postage of the books and prizes to the winners. Void where prohibited. One giveaway item per eligible entrant.

Announcement of Winner:

Visit author Celeste Connally’s website on March 20, 2023, to see if you won one of the three prizes.


Indie Spotlight: The Women in Me

*Not a book review. Book review coming soon.


Are you caring for your chronically ill husband? Did you grow up with suicidal, alcoholic parents? Are you searching for a loving relationship? Have your efforts at starting a fulfilling career been thwarted by someone determined to hold you back? Maybe you’ve postponed your own dreams in order to keep from making waves with a significant other. Does your life seem to be heading a long way from where you’d wish it to be? Any of these can steal your happiness or keep you from achieving your potential. All can crush your hopes and dreams.

This is the story of a woman who grew up in a dysfunctional family, was trapped by a predator at age eight, was suffocated by an abusive marriage, grappled with being a single mother, finally found her soulmate, struggled with a blended family, juggled the incompatible roles of wife and caregiver, yet maintained her faith, at least most of the time. She did it thanks to some special women who supported her in ways she didn’t recognize until she unconsciously drew upon their influence.


Nancy Maloney-Mercado was born in Chicago, IL., but spent most of her adult life living in San Jose, CA. She began teaching in her late 20s, and she has happily walked that career path ever since, along the way building a reputation as a valuable member of many educational programs and institutions. When her latent artistic talent pushed its way to the surface, she began drawing and painting. Soon it was an integral part of who she was. In 2019 her beloved soulmate, Raymond, passed away after a long illness. She spends as much time as possible with her two daughters and granddaughter. As the existence of this book indicates, she continues to teach, at the same time finding new techniques to let her art express her life, experiences, and beliefs.

Jackie O’Donnell is a CA native. Her life has been spent in teaching, writing, and editing. She has four adult children—a devoted, caring son and daughter-in-law, plus another son and daughter who are far more than “step”—plus three grandchildren. Her beloved husband, Frank, succumbed to Agent Orange complications in 2016. She has published seven books, including one on saving money while helping the environment, another on everyday activities to make our world kinder and more just, one about helping people with disabilities cope with new 141 parenthood, and a volume of poetry (descriptions on her website (link below). Follow her on Twitter at

Contact Us at



Click on the image to buy on Amazon.

Sunday Post: Life is Good. #SundayPost

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted here @ Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post

No sickness this week! Life has returned to normal and I’m catching up on everything. Getting a much-needed haircut tomorrow. Funny how the little things fall by the wayside when you’re sick. Went out antiquing with my husband yesterday. We didn’t buy anything (a first), but it was nice to get out and look. I’m actually going to have to sell some of my vintage glassware collection to make room when we move to our retirement home, which is less the half the size of our current home. So anything I buy right now will have to be really special to “make the cut.” We also went to Lowe’s to look at stain for a new bookcase, and then we checked out some stoves. I still don’t know what kind of stove I want. It was just a nice, normal day, which we haven’t had in a while.

Tonight my beloved Cincinnati Bengals play for the AFC title, so I’ll be rooting them on. I’ve been a fan of this team for over 40 years, and there have been a lot of losses and disappointments in that time. I’m hoping for another chance at a Super Bowl and a victory this time.


On Wednesday I reviewed Last Summer Boys by Bill Rivers

On Friday I reviewed The Marriage Season by Jane Dunn as part of a blog Tour for Rachel’s Random Resources.

I also participated in Book Blogger Hop on Friday. The question was, “Do you prefer to read in a quiet or noisy setting?”

For Indie Weekend I have reviewed The Great Loveda Brown by Jolie Tunnell.


On Monday or Tuesday, I will review the audiobook of Spare, narrated by Prince Harry. It was ghostwritten by J.R. Moehringer

On Tuesday I will participate in Top Ten Tuesday if time permits.

On Wednesday or Thursday I will review Murder in the Cathedral by Cora Harrison

On Friday I will participate in Book Blogger Hop if time permits.

And for Indie Weekend I’ll review or spotlight Indie Books.


I am reading Murder in Postscript and The Echo of Old Books for the Historical Novel Society, so those reviews won’t be posted until after they are published on May 1st. This Other Eden is an audiobook I picked up on Netgalley.

Have a great week, everyone!

Book Review: Last Summer Boys #Vietnam #comingofagefiction

This is another book I read last fall for the November issue of Historical Novels Review, the magazine of The Historical Novel Society.

It is 1968 in rural Pennsylvania when Jack Elliot overhears the bartenders in his town complaining that famous boys don’t have to go to war. He sets out on a mission to make his brother Pete famous and keep him out of Vietnam.  Enlisting the help of his visiting cousin, Frankie, they begin to plan a mission, led by Pete, to find an old fighter jet crash site.  Thus Jack begins an adventurous summer with his brothers Pete and Will, and his cousin Frankie.  Pete bravely says being drafted would be an honor, while Will is a big fan of Bobby Kennedy and follows him closely in the news.  Then there is Frankie, the visiting “city-boy” cousin, out to prove he is strong enough to run with them.

In a volatile time when Martin Luther King has just been murdered and tensions are at a breaking point, we travel to Pennsylvania to watch Jack try to save his brother’s life.  At the same time, bullies abound on all sides.  There is a childhood bully, biker gangs, and the biggest bully of them all—the government, who is trying to take their land and flood it for a reservoir.  As he enters this life-saving summer, we watch Jack’s coming-of-age story as his plans take an unexpected detour.  We feel the aftermath of Bobby Kennedy’s murder through Jack’s grieving brother Will, and we see what happens when people join together to fight injustice.  The characters are wonderfully complex and the story takes meaningful twists and turns, from adventure to mystery to small town politics.  This well-woven novel will keep you captivated and immersed in the politics and family struggles going on at that time.   I recommend this book to anyone interested in beautifully written coming-of-age stories or in Vietnam-era fiction set in the U.S.


Bill Rivers grew up along the creeks of the Brandywine Valley in Delaware and Pennsylvania. A graduate of the University of Delaware, he earned an MPA from the University of Pennsylvania as a Truman Scholar, one of sixty national awards given annually for a career in public service. Bill worked in the US Senate before serving as speechwriter for US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, developing classified and unclassified messages on national security and traveling throughout Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. He and his family live outside Washington, DC, where he still keeps a piece of a crashed fighter jet they found in the hills of southeastern Pennsylvania. Find him on Twitter and Instagram.

BUY LINK (Click on Cover)

#BookReview: The American Adventuress #WinstonChurchill #JennieJerome #HistoricalFiction

One of the first American women to marry into the British aristocracy, Jennie Jerome was the daughter of a wealthy American businessman. She married Lord Randolph Churchill, son of the Duke of Marlborough, while she was still a teenager. She lived a life of means but often ran up more bills than she could pay. Her marriage became a love match, but they also had an agreement regarding sex outside the marriage. Her liaisons with many famous men, including the Prince of Wales at the time, were legendary. Often an absent mother in Winston’s childhood, her relationship with him as he began his political career is intriguing.

This novel can be shocking at times but takes us inside the lives of the privileged few, whose comings and goings were often decadent and scandalous, especially for those times. It introduces us to all the people in Jennie’s life in an intimate way. Jennie’s sexual escapades are described in detail on a few occasions, so those readers who avoid that should be aware.

This is a superbly written novel that introduced me to Jennie in a fascinating way. I had no idea that Winston Churchill’s mother was an American, especially one with such a storied past. Jennie’s scandals and charitable work are interspersed throughout with concurrent events in history. It is a fascinating read that held me spellbound. C.W. Gortner has written an honest and fascinating fictionalized biography of a woman about whom many may never have known. You will meet her in these pages.

My rating is 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 on sites without a half-star option.

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


C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.

After an eleven-year career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced the galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and have been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular, companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.

BUY LINKS | Barnes & Noble | Harper Collins

Blog Tour and Book Review: All The Lost Places #Venice #HistoricalFiction


When all of Venice is unmasked, one man’s identity remains a mystery . . .

When a baby is discovered floating in a basket along the quiet canals of Venice, a guild of artisans takes him in and raises him as a son, skilled in each of their trades. Although the boy, Sebastien Trovato, has wrestled with questions of his origins, it isn’t until a woman washes ashore on his lagoon island that answers begin to emerge. In hunting down his story, Sebastien must make a choice that could alter not just his own future, but also that of the beloved floating city.

Daniel Goodman is given a fresh start in life as the century turns. Hoping to redeem a past laden with regrets, he is sent on an assignment from California to Venice to procure and translate a rare book. There, he discovers a city of colliding hope and decay, much like his own life, and a mystery wrapped in the pages of that filigree-covered volume. With the help of Vittoria, a bookshop keeper, Daniel finds himself in a web of shadows, secrets, and discoveries carefully kept within the stones and canals of the ancient city . . . and in the mystery of the man whose story the book does not finish: Sebastien Trovato.



  • “This lyrical dual-narrative historical from Dykes (Set the Stars Alight) dives into the histories of Venice, Italy, and Venice Beach, California.”— Publisher’s Weekly
  • “Introspective, surprising, and achingly beautiful.”— Booklist starred review
  • “Dykes’s pen is fused with magic and poetry. Every word’s a gentle wave building into the splendor that is All the Lost Places, where struggles for identity and a place to belong find hope between the pages of a timeless story.”— J’Nell Ciesielski, bestselling author of The Socialite
  • “Luscious writing, authentic characters, and an ending that satisfies to the core of the spirit, this novel is another winner from Amanda Dykes.”— Heidi Chiavaroli, Carol Award-winning author of Freedom’s Ring and Hope Beyond the Waves




Amanda Dykes’s debut novel, Whose Waves These Are, is the winner of the prestigious 2020 Christy Award Book of the Year, a Booklist 2019 Top Ten Romance debut, and the winner of an INSPY Award. She’s also the author of Yours Is the Night and Set the Stars Alight, a 2021 Christy Award finalist.



Amanda Dykes has a unique ability to transport readers to any time or place, and she does it again in this dual-timeline novel. Venice of the early 1800s and early 1900s comes alive through her writing. The characters are compelling and the reader is drawn into the book right away. What a mesmerizing tale of a son who is trying to redeem himself and another man, found floating in the river as a baby, trying to find out who he really is.

In 1807, Sebastien is trying to find the family that abandoned or lost him, thus revealing his true story. In 1904, Daniel is an artist who, after an injury, lost the ability to visualize, or see anything in his mind’s eye, a condition we now know as aphantasia. He feels he has also lost the respect of his mother and is filled with regret. The powerful inner feelings of both men are so well conveyed by the author. The gorgeous writing draws the reader in, and the descriptions of the setting are just breathtaking. This is a wonderfully crafted look at the beauty and culture of Venice, told through two complex characters. It is both heartbreaking and inspiring. Amanda Dykes continues to create characters and settings that we won’t soon forget.

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

The #SundayPost: Running backs, catching up, and giving back

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted here @ Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post

Last Sunday I was sitting at the Bengals game in Cincinnati watching Joe Mixon score FIVE touchdowns, so I didn’t have time to write my Sunday Post. The past week was spent catching up on work, and this weekend I’m relaxing in Bryson City with Doug, Hermann, Holly, and Harold. Tomorrow it’s back to work.

Yesterday I took some of the MANY free books I’ve gotten from being a blogger and I donated them to the Friends of the Marianna Black Library bookstore in Bryson City. This bookstore is nonprofit and helps fund the library. I have accumulated way more books than I can possibly keep, so I figured I’d give them to a good cause. There are also at least two free library boxes in Bryson City, one at the Swain County Heritage Museum and one at Buttermilk Farms Antiques, so I put some books in those boxes as well. Anyone who wants to can take a book and leave a book. I would like to encourage other bloggers to do the same in your area if you get a lot of free print copies and no place to put them.

Since I was downtown, I did the tourist thing and went to all the shops near the Smoky Mountain Railroad. I also went inside the Swain County Heritage Museum, which is all decorated for Christmas. The museum is free and they have a gift shop to raise funds. The museum is a look back at how residents of Bryson City lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and before.

Friends of the Marianna Black Library Used Bookstore

Here’s a Bryson City sunrise pic from yesterday.

Here’s a frosty sunrise picture from this morning:

If you zoom in you can see the frost on the mountaintops.


Work and travel kept me pretty busy, so it was a quiet week on the blog early in the week.

On Wednesday I posted a review of Daisy and the Dazzling Dachshunds as part of a book tour for Zooloos Book Tours.

On Thursday I posted a review of Light to the Hills by Bonnie Blaylock

On Friday I participated in Book Blogger Hop.

On Saturday, for Indie Weekend, I reviewed Two of a Kind, a Christmas novella by Gail Meath. It is a prequel to the Jax Diamond Mystery series.


This schedule is subject to change.

Tuesday I will participate in Top Ten Tuesday

Wednesday I will review more books that I read back in August/September for the Historical Novel Society’s magazine, Historical Novels Review.

Friday I will participate in Book Blogger Hop.

From Friday to Sunday I will review Indie books for Indie Weekend.


Just two audiobooks this week:

The Ingenue and Entropy

Have a Blessed Week!