Exclusive Excerpt

#BlogTour | The Batter’s Box by Andy Kutler #TheBattersBox #ExclusiveExcerpt #HFVBTBlogTours @akutler @HFVBT

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Hello my friends, I have the huge pleasure to be todays stop on this fabulous blog tour for; The Batter’s Box by Andy Kutler. Not only will I be sharing an exclusive excerpt, which I can guarantee will make you want to dash out and grab a copy, but there is also a chance for you to win a copy of this fabulous book. So grab that cuppa and enjoy!

The Batter’s Box by Andy Kutler

Publication Date: March 12, 2019
Publisher: Warriors Publishing Group
Hardcover; Paperback, eBook

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

 

In 1946, a returning World War II veteran is determined to reclaim his place among professional baseball’s upper echelon and win back the woman he once fell for. Two months into the new season, at the top of his game, he abandons his team, casting aside his fame and riches and vanishing forever from the public eye. What drives a man to walk away from everything he cherishes, never to be heard from again?

The Batter’s Box follows the path of Will Jamison, a star player with the Washington Senators who enlists in the U.S. Army following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. When the war ends, Jamison returns to Washington, a decorated hero tormented by deep emotional scars. Burdened with a crushing guilt and harrowing memories he cannot escape, Jamison’s life is consumed by an explosive temper, sleepless nights, and a gradual descent into alcoholism. Will he continue, alone with his anguish and misery? Or will he level with those around him, including the woman he loves, and seek the professional care he desperately needs, even at the risk of exposing his most closely guarded secrets?

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

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Book Trailer

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Praise

“We remember World War II as ‘the Good War, ‘ when right and wrong seemed so clear. We won, they lost, and our guys came home as heroes. But as gifted author Andy Kutler tells us in THE BATTER’S BOX, mortal combat is anything but good, heroism comes with a horrific price, and some of the most tragic wounds don’t bleed — and don’t go away. If you want to know what really happened at Bastogne in the terrible winter of 1944, read this powerful, haunting book.” — Daniel P. Bolger, Lieutenant General, U.S. Army (Ret.), author of Our Year of War: Two Brothers, Vietnam, and a Nation Divided

“Andy Kutler has the eyes and ears of combat soldiers and the heart of those who love them. The horror, courage, and camaraderie of battle rivals the grit of Once an Eagle, while the poignant authenticity of Will Jamison’s struggles with his hidden wounds highlight that, for many, the impact of war lingers far past the last shots of battle. THE BATTER’S BOX is a superb work of historical fiction that carries important lessons for today.” — William E. Rapp, Major General, U.S. Army (Ret.), Former Commandant, U.S. Army War College, and Commandant of Cadets, U.S. Military Academy

“The Batter’s Box is a riveting read. It is a love story and a war story and a novel with far more truth than fiction. I’m a psychiatrist specializing in treating men and women with post-traumatic stress disorder. If you love someone with that invisible wound, read this book. If you are curious and concerned about the condition, read this book. Most survivors of profound trauma lack a language to convey their life stories because those stories include the unspeakable. When the hero of this compelling novel speaks, we listen, we learn and we are transformed. If you are currently struggling with the impact of major trauma, reading passages here may be disturbing and ‘triggering.’ But I believe it is worth the risk because this book affirms your reality and your dignity.” –Frank M. Ochberg, MD, Former Associate Director, National Institute of Mental Health

“Historical fiction, if it reflects careful scholarship, is a powerful tool in the hands of a gifted writer, and can deepen our understanding of real events and people. Andy Kutler’s THE BATTER’S BOX offers an impressive addition to World War II literature, bringing fresh attention to the adjustment struggle faced by so many returning war veterans. Kutler’s depiction of one of the more heroic small-unit engagements in US Army history is both compelling and long overdue.” — Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, President & CEO Emeritus, The National WWII Museum

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Exclusive Excerpt

June 1942

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

It was known by most as the City of Brotherly Love. Not, however, by the pair of brawny, white-clad sailors that had cornered a street tough on the train platform. The petty officers pummeled the thief with haymakers, making clear the policy of the United States Navy on pickpockets as police whistles shrilled across the station.

Will Jamison smiled to himself. This was the Philadelphia he remembered.

As was the backdrop. When Will joined the Washington Senators in 1938, he was surprised to learn there was little love among his veteran teammates for the monotonous road swings that marked their lives from April to September. Back then, as an awestruck 20-year-old from rural Wisconsin, Will took a different view. He looked forward to the travel as much as he did the games, luxuriating in First Class cars before filing through the stately depots in each city. He even treasured the train stations themselves, finding no two in America were alike, each a microcosm of the city they served. Vibrant, gritty, and humming with life.

Nowhere was this truer than the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. A modern marvel, the facility featured an elaborate electronic intercom system, emergency medical space, and even a reinforced concrete roof over the main concourse where small biplanes could land. It was said Amelia Earhart touched down there once.

Just off the ticket lobby was the station’s only bar. Will shouldered his way to the doorway, swimming upstream against the chaotic parade of commuters stampeding toward the trains. The entire station was mobbed with businessmen, families, soldiers, and sailors, all knifing their way past one another with matching urgency and sharp elbows.

Will sighed to himself. Beginning an amorous weekend with drinks at a raucous East Coast rail hub on an early Friday evening was not one of his more inspired ideas.

He pushed through the glass door, the space dimly lit and larger than he expected. There were few available seats at either the bar or the tables, his fellow travelers seeming to prefer a stiff drink to the stiff benches in the central waiting area. His view of the bar’s interior was obscured by a curtain of tobacco smoke that dulled the glow of the glass-encased candles on each table. He didn’t see her at first, but he knew she was there, her train having arrived from New York nearly an hour ago. Philadelphia was a logical meeting point, roughly halfway between her home in New York and his final destination in Washington. Close enough to make an overnight trip worthwhile. Large enough to provide the anonymity they each required.

At 24 now, Will was one of the most famous professional athletes in the region. By name, at least. Only those who came out to the stadiums would recognize him in person though, and here in Philadelphia, that served as a blessing. Avoiding the public spotlight was often a challenge for Will, particularly when he was in Washington.

For what he had planned this evening, it was imperative.

He stepped to the side to allow a departing family to whisk by with their baggage. The pair of teenage girls trailing their parents gaped at him before covering their mouths and sharing a giggle. At an imposing 6’3”, Will was used to it. He was what women thought of as a rugged man, broad-shouldered with a lean frame, though far from handsome, with an angular face, thin nose and pointed chin. His almond-shaped eyes were easily his best feature, a shade of blue his mother often described as two pieces of sky. The sandy-brown locks that once peeked out from the bill of his ballcap were now shorn close on the sides and back, blending evenly with the garrison cap he wore tipped at an angle. Will knew that few would mistake him for a cinema idol, but he had learned to laugh off such thoughts years ago. He was an ascending Major League Baseball star, and in 1942, that made him akin to American royalty.

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About the Author

Andy Kutler is a writer living in Arlington, Virginia. His debut novel, The Other Side of Life, was awarded a Bronze Medal from the Independent Publishers Book Awards, and Honorable Mention from Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Awards. He has also authored a number of columns for the Huffington Post and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and spent more than a quarter century in public service, including with the United States Senate and the United States Secret Service, and as a consultant in the national security community.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

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Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, October 8
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Thursday, October 10
Feature at What Is That Book About

Monday, October 14
Interview at Jathan & Heather

Friday, October 18
Review at Reading is My Remedy
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books

Monday, October 21
Interview at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, October 23
Excerpt at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Thursday, October 24
Review at Impressions In Ink

Tuesday, October 29
Review at Peaceful Pastime

Thursday, October 31
Review at Passages to the Past

Friday, November 1
Feature at Coffee and Ink

Tuesday, November 5
Review at Red Headed Book Lady

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Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of The Batter’s Box! To enter, please use the Gleam form here – The Batter’s Box

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on November 5th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

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#BookFeature | Vanity and Humility (Sins Of The Virtuous #7) by Faye Hall #VanityandHumility #ExclusiveExcerpt @FayeHall79

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Hello, my lovely readers! Today I have the huge pleasure to be featuring this gorgeous book on the blog today; Vanity and Humility, which is book seven in the Sins of the Virtuous series by the very lovely Faye Hall. Not only will I be telling you all about the book, but I also have an exclusive excerpt, which is amazing and will make you want to read more. So sit back, grab that cuppa and enjoy. 

Vanity and Humility by Faye Hall

Series: Sins of the Virtuous; Book 7
Genre: Historical Romance

What if vanity threatened to destroy the only love you’ve ever known?

Ethan Brant is on the hunt for a murderess who is seducing her victims and stealing collections of diamonds from each one. When the woman he suspects becomes his father’s newest wife, Ethan’s fears multiply and he agrees to travel with the newlyweds to Australia to help expand his father’s business interests, and protect his only remaining family at all cost.

Arriving in Rockhampton, Ethan never loses his suspicions of his father’s bride, especially when more bodies begin turning up, each a similar age to his father and all robbed of their diamonds. If he could only find something to tie all his evidence together, he could finally put an end to this case. What he finds instead is an intriguing young woman swimming on his father’s property who sends his emotions into turmoil.

Cady Eldon’s history with men taught her it was foolish to lose her heart to one. When she meets Ethan down at the lake though, she couldn’t ignore the fire he burned inside her, making her long for the feel of his skin against hers. Discovering he was in fact a police detective, she becomes intrigued. Why would a man so wealthy, and with such a noble career, want to live so humbly?

Her attraction to this man, and her interest in the murder case he was working on, pulls them together on a journey north where they become entangled in the manipulative web of the murderess Ethan is chasing.

As their affair continues, Ethan and Cady learn just how cruel one woman’s vanity can be and how she will stop at nothing to get the riches she believes she deserves.

Will their love survive, or will they fall victim to the greatest sin of all?

Amazon UK / Amazon.com / Beachwalk Press / Apple Books / Kobo

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Exclusive Excerpt

She shrugged, looking as if her answer was obvious. “My uncle needed an extra set of hands on the farm, so I offered to help. I don’t think I was very good at it, but I managed to plant several drills by the end of a single day, and my uncle seemed happy with my efforts.”

You actually worked on the farm?”

She giggled at his shock. “You needn’t sound so surprised. Anyone would think you’ve never seen a woman work before.”

Other than applying layers of makeup to their faces, I haven’t. More to the point, the layers of clothing you all wear don’t allow for much of anything. Certainly not any form of physical labor.”

That’s why I wore trousers.”

You did what?”

She giggled again as she went to swim past him and toward the bank. He reached out,

stopping her.

I didn’t mean to offend you. I just found it so hard to believe what you were saying about your lifestyle up north. You are like no woman I’ve ever known.”

She waded in the water beside him. “There’s no offense taken, nor was your reaction the reason I was leaving. I just need to return to the garden before I’m missed.”

Still, he held her arm, gazing at her beauty. Focusing on the darkness of her eyes, he longed to drown in them, allowing himself to be consumed by this woman. Usually, he avoided any contact with the females he encountered, the mere thought of touching them repulsing him and reminding him of his last encounter with a woman. But here—now—he longed to pull this woman closer to him, to feel her skin against his.

I don’t want you to go.” The words were being dragged from him, forcing him to make an admission he never thought to.

She pulled her arm free from his hold. “Yet I must.”

He watched her swim to the bank and step out of the water, her undershorts and chemise clinging to her. She was a shapely woman, her wet garments emphasizing her every curve, making him hunger for her in a way he never had for any woman before. Confusion filled him as he watched her pull on her simply styled, blue dress, quickly hiding her revealed self from his gaze. The few women he’d spent time with in the past had never created feelings in him as she was now. Usually he couldn’t wait to be separated from them, but watching as Cady finished dressing, preparing to leave him, a form of emptiness filled him. He had just met this woman. He wasn’t ready to be parted from her yet.

Swimming toward the bank where she stood, he stepped out of the water and quickly pulled on his trousers before walking up behind her. Only inches separated them, and he ached to reach out and touch her, but he didn’t want her to think that was all he craved from her.

Do you really have to go?”

Turning to face him, she continued buttoning her gown. “You actually want me to stay, don’t you?”

He nodded.

Why?” she asked.

He reached out to her, shifting a wet strand of hair back from her face. “Because you’ve stirred emotions in me I thought were long dead.” His hand dropped back to his side as he sighed deeply. “The brief past I had with women back in England taught me it was safer for me to keep my distance from them. I certainly never tolerated spending any length of time with them, listening to their gossiping. But you’re nothing like those women, and I find myself craving to share so much more than these past minutes with you. Listening as you’ve told me about yourself has been the most interesting evening I’ve ever spent with anyone.”

She raised an enquiring brow. “And I should believe your interest has nothing to do with you seeing me half-naked?”

I found you fascinating long before you stepped out of the water and I saw you in your underclothing.” As he watched the slight blush fill her cheeks, her gaze averted from his, pleasure shot through him. “I’ve yearned to know more about you since the moment I met you.”

Her gaze slowly shifted back to his. “Then that’s a feeling we share, but I fear we shall have to leave our mutual discovery of each other to another time. Right now, I need to return to the gardens.”

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About The Author

Faye Hall spent her early years listening to stories about the families – including her own – who settled townships in and around her hometown in North Queensland, Australia. The local townspeople, including her own parents, told her stories of corruption and slavery, along with family secrets and forbidden love.

Desperate to remember what she’d been told, along with her already growing love of writing, Faye began to write about the history of her local area. Never could she have imagined the history of her small home town in Australia would become a growing list of published books.

Faye’s passionate stories combine controversial subjects and provocative encounters as her characters struggle to survive the lifestyle in early rural townships throughout Australia. She explores slavery and abortion, drug addiction and murder, as well as forbidden love and passionate affairs of the heart.

When she’s not writing, Faye enjoys sharing a bottle of wine with her husband in their ever-growing garden, and encouraging the varied interests of their combined family of nine children.

Explore the world of Faye Hall, Australian Historical Romance Author at her website.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / BookBub / Tumblr / Pinterest / Instagram / Youtube

#BlogTour | The Widow Of Rose House by Diana Biller #TheWidowOfRoseHouse #Excerpt #DianaBillers

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Hello my lovelies, I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this fabulous blog tour for; The Widow Of Rose House by Diana Biller. Not only will I be telling you all about this brand new book, but I have an exclusive excerpt for you all too, which I am positive you will love so much you will want to rush out and grab a copy of this gorgeous book for yourself. So sit back, grab a cuppa and enjoy!

THE WIDOW OF ROSE HOUSE By Diana Biller

Diana Biller’s debut novel, THE WIDOW OF ROSE HOUSE (St. Martin’s Griffin; October 8, 2019; $16.99), is a gorgeous piece of prose, with a decidedly dark Victorian Gothic flair and an intrepid and resilient American heroine guaranteed to delight readers everywhere.

Prior to penning this novel, Biller had one idea in mind: “Edith Wharton, ghost hunter.” After touring Wharton’s estate, The Mount, and the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, New York, she came away with a wealth of inspiration, and THE WIDOW OF ROSE HOUSE
was born.

It’s 1875, and New York’s Gilded Age is in full swing. After fleeing her abusive husband, Alva Webster spent three years being pilloried in the newspapers of two continents. Now he’s dead, and she’s returned to New York to start over, restoring Liefdehuis, a dilapidated Hyde Park mansion for her new home decoration book and hopefully her reputation in the process. So when the eccentric and brilliant

Professor Samuel Moore appears, threatening her fresh start with stories of a haunting at her house, she refuses to give him access. Alva doesn’t believe in ghosts.

A pioneer in electric lighting and a member of the nationally-adored Moore family of scientists, Sam’s latest obsession is ghosts. When he learns about a house with a surprising number of ghost stories, he’s desperate to convince its beautiful owner to let him study it. Can he find his way into her house…and her heart?

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Exclusive Excerpt 

New York City, February 1, 1875

Alva stood on the city sidewalk and sucked in a deep, triumphant gulp of air. The clock had just struck ten—the middle of the eve­ ning by New York City standards—and she was surrounded by elegantly dressed men escorting women dripping diamonds and rolled up tightly in furs. A few feet from her, the street was busy with carriages. She could smell the city: The damp fog, the sharp tang of refuse, the high floral notes of perfumed women. Horse dung.

Had she missed it?
She wasn’t sure, although she knew she missed the steep, tangled streets of Montmartre already. But it was America that held her future now, even as it held her past. For a second her triumph was tempered by the remembrance of the thin envelope in her pocket, a few brief lines from her mother’s secretary, thanking her for her interest in visiting and regretting that Mrs. Rensselaer would be unable to see her. Alva knew her mother, likely even now sitting down to a stiff dinner with her husband and twelve of their closest friends fifty blocks away, did indeed feel regret. She just suspected it was about giv­ ing birth to her at all.

The restaurant door opened behind her, and, recalled to the moment, she signaled to the boy hailing cabs to find her one.

“Excuse me,” a deep voice said. “Mrs. Webster?”
Oh, for heaven’s sake. Couldn’t she stand outside for one min- ute without some intrepid lothario assuming she must be wait­ ing for him? In the less than seventy­two hours she’d been back in the States, she’d been propositioned eleven times. Twice by friends of her father’s.

She glanced over her shoulder at the man, receiving an in­ stant impression of big, though he stood mostly in the shadows. “I don’t know you,” she said, her voice flat. “Go home to your wife.”

“But I don’t have a wife,” the man said. He took a hesitant step towards her, leaving the shadows, and her eyebrows lifted. He looked more like a laborer than a man finishing a dinner at Delmonico’s, for all he was dressed in a suit and tie. Sort of dressed, she amended; the suit looked like it had been made for someone two inches shorter and two inches narrower across the shoulders. “Do I need a wife to talk to you? Is it a chaperone sort of thing? I have a mother, but she’s in Ohio.”
Alva blinked. “You’re not very good at this,” she observed. “I’m not a man, but I don’t think it’s standard behavior to invoke one’s mother at a time like this.”
They stared at each other in puzzlement. He was attrac­ tive in the sort of way she’d always imagined the heroes of west­ ern folktales to be: tall, broad shouldered, with a strong nose and a square jaw. He could stand to add barber to the list of people he needed to see, though, the one that started with tailor. Actually, looking at the way his dark blond hair fell into his eyes, she thought he’d better have it start with barber and go from there.

“There’s been a misunderstanding,” he said finally. “Perhaps if I introduce myself—my name is Professor Samuel Moore.”
He held out his hand. She looked at it, looked up at him, and did not extend her own.
Bafflingly, he smiled at her, as though she’d done something rather clever.

Was he really a professor? He certainly didn’t look like one, not that it mattered, because she made it a policy, these days, never to talk to strange men—
“A professor of what?” she heard herself saying, although she was pleased it at least came out with a nice air of sarcasm and disbelief.

“This and that,” he said, still smiling. “Engineering, mostly.” She looked at his rumpled clothes. Yes, she could see that, one of those men who always had a tool in one hand and a grease can in the other. She didn’t know they were giving professorships out to men like that, but why not, after all? She was as apprecia­ tive of things like trains and working carriage wheels as the next person.

And now she’d gone and encouraged him. Stupid. “I see,” she said as coldly as she could manage. “Well, I’m not interested, so I’ll wish you good evening.”
“But how can you know if you’re not interested?” He shook his head in confusion, still smiling at her. The smile was . . . im­ pressive. “I haven’t even explained my proposition, yet.”

“I find that if you’ve heard one proposition, you’ve heard them all,” she replied. Stop talking to him, you idiot. “They’re not as unique as men would like to believe.”

“But—who else has approached you? Was it Langley, from Yale?” His tone turned plaintive. “How did he hear about this before me?”

“Langley—who?”

“Piers Langley,” he said. “No? I can’t think of anyone else reputable—look here, if you’ve been approached by anyone from that quack Santa Fe institute you should know they’re absolute frauds.”

“Institute?” Alva said faintly. “What on earth are you talking about?”

“Your house, of course. I hadn’t realized I was so behind on the news.” His face fell—What must it be like to let all your emo- tions float freely on your face?—but he nodded gravely. “If it’s Langley, though, he’s an excellent researcher, and a decent human, too.”

“It’s not Lang—what do you want with my house?” It was her turn to sound plaintive.
“But that’s what—” He stared at her, his brows crunched to­ gether. “Oh god. I wasn’t—I wouldn’t—”

To her astonishment, a distinct touch of pink appeared in his cheeks. He cleared his throat.

“I beg your pardon, ma’am. Henry warned me—that is, I shouldn’t have; my proposition is not of an intimate nature.”

“I’m coming to understand that,” she said.

“You thought . . . do men . . . they must—good lord.”
She began to feel in charity with this befuddled giant. “In­ deed,” she said. “I quite agree. But I must ask again—what is it you want with Liefdehuis?”

“To study it,” he said. “One of my personal interests is in metaphysical energies, you see, and from what I’ve heard, your house may prove a most interesting case. Your ghost story is so recent, you know. I hardly ever hear one claiming to be that new—”
He broke off as she shook her head. “You almost had me con­ vinced that you were unlike the majority of your sex,” she said. “And now I see you are. I’m just not sure insanity is much of an improvement.”

To her surprise, he smiled again. “You’re not the only one who thinks so,” he said. The embarrassment had left his face; he was quite relaxed once more. A man who apologizes for a propo- sition and grins at an insult, Alva thought. Where did you come from, Professor Moore?

“And I’ll admit there’s no conclusive evidence yet,” he con­ tinued, “but what I have collected looks extremely promising. Certainly promising enough to warrant extensive study.”

A hint of cold pierced her thoughts. Firmly, she banished it. “You’re talking about ghosts,” she said.

“Maybe,” he replied. “Or I could be studying some kind of alien intelligence that just happens to concentrate in areas cor­ responding to local folklore.”
“Alien intelligence.”
“Invisible alien intelligence,” he clarified. “At least invisible to the naked human eye. But ‘ghost’ is probably the easiest term.”
“Really.”
“People tend to go a bit strange when you talk to them about invisible alien intelligences,” he confided. “Which is odd, when you think about it, because why are the shades of one’s dead an­ cestors any less unsettling?”

She found herself nodding before the rest of her wits caught up with her. “No,” she said, not because the word corresponded with any particular question, but because she had the feeling the only way to survive here was to stick to very black­and­white words. His nuances were both compelling and sticky. “I’m afraid I won’t give you access. I don’t believe in ghosts, and I’m about to start several months’ worth of building work.”

“Don’t decide yet,” he begged. “I’m willing to pay you for the privilege, and I promise I won’t be in the way . . . although there is rather a lot of equipment, so I suppose—”
The boy hailing cabs caught her eye and gestured as a han­ som pulled up beside him.
“That’s mine,” she said. “I’m sorry I can’t help you. Good evening.”

“Wait!” he said. “I’ll—I’ll send you a letter. Henry said that was the way to do it—I’ll write you and explain more.”

“It won’t help,” she said as the cab boy helped her into the carriage. “I’m sorry. Good­bye, Professor Moore.”

Finally, he sighed acceptance and raised his hand. “Good evening, Mrs. Webster.”
As the cab pulled away from the sidewalk, though, she looked back at him, to find him staring after her with his hands shoved in his pockets and that apparently irrepressible grin back in place. An uncomfortable lightness expanded in her chest as she watched him standing head­and­shoulders taller than the passersby around him, looking back at her as though he would be perfectly happy never to look at anything else ever again.

What couldn’t I get, if I could look at people like that? she thought, and settled grumpily back against her seat.

*** Excerpt provided by the publisher and used with permission for this blog tour.***

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Link

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About the Author

DIANA BILLER lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their very good dog. THE WIDOW OF ROSE HOUSE
is her debut novel.

#BlogTour | Christmas Once Upon A Time by Jina Bacarr #ChristmasOnceUponATime #Excerpt #BoldwoodBlogger @JinaBacarr @BoldwoodBooks

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Hellooo everyone, I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on the wonderful blog tour for; Christmas Once Upon A Time by Jina Bacarr. I have an exclusive excerpt to share with you all, which I can guarantee you will love. So enjoy!

Christmas Once Again by Jina Bacarr

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Format: Print/Ebook/Audio Book

Release date: October 10, 2019

 All she wants for Christmas is to save the man she loves…

On a cold December day in 1955, Kate Arden got on a train to go home for Christmas.

This is the story of what happened when she got off that train. In 1943.

In 1943, Kate Arden was engaged to the man she loved, Jeffrey Rushbrooke. She was devastated and heartbroken when he was called up for wartime duty and later killed on a secret mission in France.

But what if Kate could change that? What if she could warn him and save his life before Christmas?

Or will fate have a bigger surprise in store for her?

Christmas Once Again is a sweeping, heartbreakingly romantic novel—it’s one woman’s chance to follow a different path and mend her broken heart…

Amazon / Goodreads

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What Readers are saying about Christmas Once Again

‘A breathtaking holiday romance that is sure to stay with you long after reading’

‘A mesmerizing holiday romance that is sure to sweep you off your feet and take you away to another place, another time.’

‘A fabulous book you won’t want to miss’

‘A really beautiful story’

‘Found this book amazing! Would love to read more of her books.’

‘5* from me’

‘An engrossing and entertaining story’

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Exclusive Excerpt

Posey Creek, Pennsylvania

December 12, 1943

I bet you my last pair of stockings, little sister, I’ll be saying I do before Christmas.’

I whirl around in a circle, pretending the most wonderful man in the world is holding me in his arms, my heart soaring. A pot of Ma’s meat gravy simmers on the burner, the smell tickling my fancy to have my own kitchen soon. So many wonderful memories here. Planked floors, big white stove humming with good cooking, Ma’s rocker and her rosewood sewing box. Wallpaper dotted with daisies, their yellow petals turned golden over the years – and four ceramic angels lined up on top of the spice rack. A tradition we do every year along with listening to the holiday radio shows, but this Christmas is even more special to me. It’s crazy I feel so confident, even though he hasn’t actually asked me yet.

But I know he will.

Eyes popping, Lucy swallows the spoonful of jam she shoved into her mouth. ‘You, Kate? Married?’ Slender and graceful like a young doe, she’s not as tall as me, though at sixteen she’s already filling out her sweaters. Dark brown hair rich with honeyed highlights frames her oval face and an army of freckles deepen in color on her cheeks as she laughs. ‘I hear Santa’s taken.’

I ignore her sarcasm and scoop Ma’s holiday cherry jam onto crackers. ‘It’s a secret, so don’t tell anyone.’ I wink at her, not letting up with my tease. I can’t. I’m too excited. Lucy adores secrets. Her face beams with excitement, like she got away with something without Ma finding out. Like using a pillow case for a laundry bag since bedding is hard to come by, or borrowing my two dollar face powder when she thinks I’m not looking.

Despite my affection for her, I pray she keeps my news under her hat. She loves to talk as much as she loves flirting with the soldiers down at the canteen, but I have to tell somebody the news or I’ll burst. What are sisters for if you can’t tease them? Besides, when Jeff does ask me, I’ll need her help fitting my bridal suit to get the hem straight. A gray suit with a frog clasp I made from extra silk Ma had left over from before the war. I’m lucky to have it. I want to look pretty for him. I never thought of myself as the pinup type, but Jeff makes me feel special and loved. He says I stand up taller when he catches my eye and that brings me closer to kissing him. Ma also noticed how much more confident I am. She was curious about why I saved up for two months to buy a blue silk hat with a wispy veil to go with my red coat with the fake fur collar when I have a perfectly good black hat.

I just smiled.

What’s there to tell?’ Lucy points to my bare finger smeared with jam. ‘You’re not wearing a ring, so you can’t be engaged.’

I smile. ‘You don’t know everything about me.’

I know you’re sweet on some guy.’ I raise a brow.

Snooping again?’ ‘Me?’ She bats her eyelashes.

I don’t have to. Not the way you go around singing to yourself when you come home from your job at the mill. How you stop and sigh when we walk past Wrightwood House on our way to town.’

A winsome smile makes my lips curl. I love working at the paper mill. I started out in the typing pool after I graduated from high school. I worked my way up to private secretary to Mr Clayborn in the billing and acquisitions department. He needed a girl who could think and not just type, he said. Nothing top secret about what I do, but I’ve been told not to ask questions. Anyway, I have other things on my mind. Even when I’m dead tired from typing a pile of my shorthand notes, I get warm all over when I think about the man I want to marry.

A light comes on in Lucy’s swimming green eyes. ‘So my big sister has stars in her eyes for Jeffrey Rushbrooke.’

Don’t get your garter belt in a twist.’ I grab another cherry jam filled cracker. ‘You don’t know anything of the sort.’

Surprisingly, Lucy goes quiet, like she’s mulling over her reply before saying something that might upset me. She gossips more than Mrs Widget the neighbor, but she’s a good egg. Bouncy and full of cheer, especially this time of year. She loves Christmas as much as I do and helped me pile Ma’s holiday cherry jam into glass jars.

For me, the Christmas season begins when Ma takes us kids cherry picking in the woods. Lucy, Frank Junior, and me. When the days are long, the nights are hot, and the cherries are big and sweet and perfect to pick for jam. Before the war, Ma made the sweetest jam in the county with cinnamon and lemon zest, but since rationing started, we’ve had food shortages. We cheered when the government doubled the sugar rations so we could make jam for the boys passing through our small town. The trains stop here every day and Lucy makes it a high priority to meet the train and flirt with the soldiers. She talks about nothing else.

He’ll never marry you, Kate,’ she says, her sad puppy eyes showing real concern. I’ve never seen her look so serious. ‘You know what Ma says about them rich people.’

Those rich people.’

She wriggles her nose. ‘It doesn’t matter how good you talk, we’re not his kind.’

I shrug. ‘The bet’s still on.’

You’re a fool, Kate Arden.’ She sighs. ‘Falling for a guy who doesn’t know you’re alive.’

Lucy never went up to Wrightwood House with Ma and me when we were kids, never knew Jeff and I were pals.

I grin. ‘He knows.’

She stares at me straight on. ‘Then why don’t you bring him around the house to meet Ma and Pop?’

You know I can’t.’ The hoarseness in my voice reveals how much that hurts me. Because my romance is a secret. Is Lucy right? Am I a fool?

**Excerpt used with permission of Publisher for this blog tour.

***

About the Author

Jina Bacarr is a US-based historical romance author of over 10 previous books. She has been a screenwriter, journalist and news reporter, but now writes full-time and lives in LA.

Jina’s novels have been sold in 9 territories.

Website / Twitter / Facebook / Publisher Profile / Instagram

***

Blog Tour Schedule

#BlogTour | Farewell My Life by Cynthia Haggard #FarewellMyLife #ExclusiveExcerpt #HFVBTBlogTours @cynthiahaggard @hfvbt

Posted on

Hello my friends, I have the huge pleasure to be todays stop on this fabulous blog tour for; Farewell My Life by Cynthia Haggard. Not only will I be sharing an exclusive excerpt, which I can guarantee will make you want to dash out and grab a copy, but there is also a chance for you to win a copy of this gorgeous book. So grab that cuppa and enjoy!

Farewell My Life by Cynthia Haggard

Publication Date: April 7, 2019
Format: eBook & Paperback; 586 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

 

Angelina led a life which required her to fib. When Angelina, the black sheep of the Pagano family, meets the mysterious Mr. Russell, she has no idea that she has seen him before…in another country. And so begins Farewell My Life, a novel in three parts, which spins an operatic tale of dangerous love and loss.

The Lost Mother, the first part of this novel, slices back and forth between time and space, opening in the charming village of Georgetown, Washington D.C. while reflecting a family’s troubled past in the lovely village of Marostica in the Italian Veneto.

An Unsuitable Suitor, the second part of the novel, is a Cinderella-ish tale with not-so-charming princes who inhabit the edgy setting of 1920s Berlin.

Farewell My Life, the last part of the novel, set again in Berlin, Germany, during the dark 1930s as the Nazis gain power, takes comfortable lives, assumptions and civilizations and crumbles them into ash.

Amazon | IndieBound

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Praise for Farewell My Life

“A unique, deftly scripted, and extraordinary novel by an author with a distinctive narrative storytelling style that will hold the readers dedicated attention from beginning to end, “Farewell My Life: Buona Notte Vita Mia” is an impressive and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. One of those rare novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished.”–Mid-West Book Review

“The author knows her characters very, very well; this shows in the consistent and very individual way they act. This is not a plot-driven story; it’s character-driven. In this book, the characters are the jam which holds everything together. The best example of this is Grace, the talented violinist, who, simply, jumps off the page. I loved her.”–Wishing Shelf

“This is not your typical mystery; it’s for fans of thrilling action and historically­-inspired events…Contra to the status quo of the genre, the men are the romantics – though in a deranged manner – and the women showcased are the core strength of the novel.”–BookLife Prize.

“The author…adeptly summons the era in all its manners and details with her descriptive prose…Her omniscient, third-person narrator effectively flits through the heads of various characters, offering momentary glimpses of their inner lives.”–Kirkus Reviews

“I loved the elaborate descriptions of all the places in this book. This is the kind of book that shows instead of just telling. The characters are very well-developed and interesting to read about. Angelina is a fascinating character, as is Grace. Along the duration of the book, Grace learns a lot about herself. I was amazed by her quiet yet vibrant personality, and her brilliant talent.”–Pavani Mathur (The Voracious Bibliophile)

***

Exclusive Excerpt

The rest of the fall was just as disastrous as his marriage. On October the first, the Munich Agreement forced the Czechs to give up the Sudetenland to the Nazis. On October the second, the Poles occupied Teschen and Freistadt. On October the third, Hitler toured the Czech defenses that Russell had seen for himself a month before.

Russell wandered along Bendlerstrasse, so tired he couldn’t sleep, so on edge that everything was too much, the corners of the buildings too sharp, the sunlight too bright, his starched shirt too scratchy. He needed a doctor. He wasn’t getting any rest, but even in his current state, Russell drew the line at using drugs. He drank far too much black coffee in the mornings, then tried to induce sleep by downing too many scotches on the rocks in the evenings. But the alcohol woke him too early, before he’d had a chance to catch a deep sleep. Most of all, his rage had nowhere to go. It detonated in his too-quiet bedroom as he went to bed. It revved him up during the early hours, as he paced, smoked, drank. It slid into his thoughts at awkward moments during the day. It choked every breath. And sometimes it seemed that every time he drew breath, his chest threatened to explode. This couldn’t be good for his heart. If matters didn’t improve, he could find himself in an early grave, like Lamo.

Russell paused for a moment. How he missed his brother, how he longed for his advice. Lamo’s absence was profound, deafening. Now that this mess over Czechoslovakia was over, he could leave Berlin and head home. But he couldn’t go without his children, he couldn’t depart without his wife. Grace was still his wife, wasn’t she? Russell had heard nothing, seen nothing, since that encounter with Grace in London.

Feeling nauseous, he pushed his way up the steps of the American Embassy, forcing himself along the dim corridor towards his office. Slowly, he grasped the brass knob and opened the door. A figure was sitting in a club chair in front of his coffee table, powdering her face. Angelina raised her head and twisted her lips into a ghastly smile.

***

Violet had arrived early that morning, changing trains in Hamburg. She went straight to the American Embassy, inquiring for Mrs. Russell. The young man behind the counter carefully wrote the address on a strip of paper. Violet grabbed a cab and made for Savignyplatz. How cold and grand these frozen mansions seemed, reminding her of Aunt Louisa’s lodgings in Berlin. She glanced at the piece of paper. She was going to Mommsenstrasse 1, on the corner of some other street whose name she couldn’t make out. The taxi cab stopped, she paid him off, and went up to the front door. Grace had come up in the world to live in such a fancy mansion. Violet pressed the bell on the front door. How was Frau Varga? She must go over to Nollendorfplatz and find out. The house exuded silence. Violet frowned and pressed the buzzer again. No response. She stepped down the marble steps and walked around the back of the house. Everything seemed untended, the grass overgrown, the roses blowsy with neglect.

Violet walked to the Ku’damm and hailed a cab, returning to the embassy to ask, this time, for Mr. Russell. She was directed to a reedy young man who favored skinny ties.

I’m looking for my brother-in-law, Mr. Russell.”

The young man blinked. “I didn’t know he had family.”

Violet stifled a retort. “Bitte,” she said. “I’ve come all the way from America to see him.”

Ah, I see.” He opened the door to a large and well-furnished corner office. “May I offer you refreshment?”

He brought coffee in a gilded china cup with matching saucer and minuscule teaspoon, offering cream and sugar.

Violet took a sip and grimaced.

Es tut mir leid, wir haben nur Kaffee-Ersatz, I’m sorry we have only fake coffee.”

I thought things were improving.”

The secretary looked down and fiddled with his tie, explaining that the German people were required, by their Führer, to make sacrifices for the good of society.

Violet rolled her eyes. “Tell me about Mr. Russell. How is he?”

The young man glanced up. “Do you really want to know?”

Violet blinked. “Of course I do. I’m his—-how do you say sister-in-law? Schwägerin?”

The secretary nodded as he hovered near her seat and licked his lips.

You look uncomfortable, please sit down.”

I’m not sure Mr. Russell would approve.”

He’s not here, is he? Besides I asked you to sit.”

The young man closed the office door oh-so-quietly and perched himself on the very edge of a Louis Quinze chair. He leaned forward. “I’m quite worried about him.” He lowered his voice. “He’s been acting strangely recently. He keeps falling asleep at his desk.”

So he’s been working too hard. Is that surprising?”

No, but—” He twisted his fingers. “He eats—nothing. Well—not much.”

Why is that?”

I don’t know, but it is said that Mrs. Russell spends a great deal of time these days with Count von Lietzow at his villa in Kladow.”

Oh. So that would explain von Lietzow’s telegram. But why hadn’t Gracie said so?

Violet put her cup and saucer down and asked the secretary to give her directions, which he wrote down for her in large spidery handwriting.

She pocketed the note. “What else?”

Well—” He fiddled with his tie again. “One day, it must have been a month or so ago, I opened his door. You understand he instructs me to open it very quietly so I don’t disturb him when he’s working. And he was walking—I don’t know the word in English.”

Show me.”

The secretary rose, stuck out his derrière, and pranced around the room, taking mincing steps.

Are you sure?”

Jawohl. Later that day, he returned to the office. It was very late, you understand, around seven in the evening. He carried a bag with him, and in it was a wig. A lady’s wig.”

Before Violet could ask more, a telephone rang. The secretary made his excuses and scurried off.

Goodness, gracious, she had no idea that Russell had those kinds of interests. She’d no idea he was a pervert. Did Grace know about this? Is that why she was spending time with von Lietzow?

She’d just opened her powder pack to refresh her face when the door opened. As Russell’s eyes locked onto hers, his pupils dilated, and his face drained of every ounce of color. He grasped at the door knob as if to stop himself from falling.

Surely you remember me. It’s Violet.”

Slowly, the color returned to his face. “Maledizione, Damn,” he muttered.

Thanks,” returned Violet. “Same to you too.”

He glared, then laughed reluctantly.

Violet scrutinized him. Outwardly, he seemed normal, immaculate in an expensive suit, shirt, and silk tie, with one of those irritating matched silk handkerchiefs. But he was too thin, his skin stretched taut over high cheekbones. He must have lost at least twenty pounds.

Mr. Russell, I’m concerned about you.”

You may call me Domenico.” His tone was gently reproving.

Sorry. May I call you Dom? Your name is a bit of a mouthful.”

You may call me Nico.” His face sagged as he shut the door behind him. “It’s what my brother called me when we were young.”

So, Nico. I’m concerned about you. You look exhausted, and you’re making mistakes.”

He sat behind his huge desk, and compressed his lips. “Who says so?”

She leaned forward. “Now, don’t go all prickly on me, I know I’m offending your pride by saying so, but this is dangerous. Someone spotted you with a lady’s wig.”

He paled.

I had no idea—”

It’s not what you think,” he replied between gritted teeth.

How is Grace?”

That is none of your business.”

Violet folded her arms. “I come all this way to Berlin, at Grace’s request, and the first thing I hear is my brother-in-law has been seen going around as a drag queen. Naturally, I have a few questions.”

He made exasperated clicking noises between his teeth.

What on earth were you doing in that getup?”

I really cannot tell you.”

Okay. So you’re a spy.”

Will you please keep your voice down?”

Okay, okay.” She lowered the volume. “I don’t mean to blow your cover. I’m concerned, that’s all.”

You say Grace asked you to come.”

We talked over the phone.”

He frowned.

She didn’t tell you?”

No.”

Well that’s a pretty pickle. She sounded really upset.”

What about?”

She was crying because Count Whatsit wants to take Peter away from her.”

Oh. That.”

Yes, that. Has she been to see him?”

He took a cigarette out of his monogrammed case and offered her one, which she declined. He lit up with a matching monogrammed lighter.

You’re not sure?” she asked.

Don’t look at me like that.”

How am I supposed to look? You’re married to her, aren’t you?”

There was a pause. “Indeed I am. Thank you for reminding me.” He curled his lips, baring nicotine-stained teeth. “Please tell your sister, when you see her, that I expect her to return home, to me, immediately.”

The expression in his dark eyes made her shiver. Violet rose. “I don’t think—”

I do not care what you think,” he snapped. “Your sister is my wife. Her duty is to me.”

Okay, okay. Keep your hair on. I’ll go see her right now.”

Violet exited the room before he could say more, the hairs on the back of her neck prickling. Never before had her fussy, irritating brother-in-law creeped her out quite like this, even though she’d privately called him a creep more than once. What on earth was going on?

***Excerpt used with permission from author for the purposes of this blog tour.  

***

About the Author

Cynthia graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, Cambridge MA, in June 2015.

Her first novel, Thwarted Queen, a frustrating tale (hence the title) of Lady Cecylee Neville (1415-1495) who was nearly crowned Queen of England, was shortlisted for many awards, including the 2012 Eric Hoffer New Horizon Award for debut authors. To date, sales have surpassed 38,000 copies.

Her forthcoming novel, Farewell My Life, is a Cinderella-ish tale with not-so-charming princes who inhabit the edgy setting of 1920s Berlin.

When she’s not annoying everyone by insisting her fictional characters are more real than they are, Cynthia likes to go for long walks, knit something glamorous, cook in her wonderful kitchen, and play the piano. You can visit her at www.spunstories.com. You can also find Cynthia on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

***

Blog Tour Schedule

Do go and have a look at the other blogs which are participating in the blog tour.

Monday, September 9
Interview at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, September 10
Feature at Books In Their Natural Habitat

Thursday, September 12
Excerpt at A Darn Good Read

Friday, September 13
Excerpt at Maiden of the Pages

Monday, September 16
Review at girl-who-reads

Tuesday, September 17
Feature at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Wednesday, September 18
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books

Thursday, September 19
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Saturday, September 21
Excerpt at Broken Teepee

Monday, September 23
Feature at The Book Junkie Reads

Tuesday, September 24
Review at Unabridged Chick

Friday, September 27
Excerpt at Coffee and Ink

Sunday, September 29
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Monday, September 30
Interview at Unabridged Chick

Saturday, October 5
Review at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, October 8
Feature at I’m All About Books

Wednesday, October 9
Excerpt at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals
Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

***

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away two eBooks of FAREWELL MY LIFE! To enter, please use the Gleam form here – Farewell My Life

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on October 9th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

#GuestPost | Layer-Out Of The What? By Jeanine Englebert @JeanineWrites

Posted on Updated on

Hello my friends, I have an amazing post for you all today! I have the massive pleasure to welcome lovely historical romance author; Jeanine Englert to the blog, she is going to be sharing an amazing, exclusive guest post with you all – really, you are all going to love it. Plus she will be telling you all about her gorgeous new book; Lovely Digits, which I am currently reading and completely adoring it, you are all in for a treat. So, over to Jeanine!

***

“Layer-out of the What?”

by

Jeanine Englert

This is a fairly common response from people after I tell them about my debut novel, Lovely Digits, and my quirky heroine’s profession as layer-out of the dead. It’s usually paired with a subtle lean in, small head tilt, and furrowed brow. So, lean in, tilt your head, and I’ll tell you all about a profession that used to be dominated by women, and one that drives the backdrop for my Victorian romantic suspense.

The layer-out of the dead of times past was the equivalent to today’s mortician. Preparing bodies for burial was predominantly performed by women up until the later portion of the Victorian era when mourning and all the practices that came along with it became its own business. Once men learned of the money that could be had in preparing bodies for burial and honoring the loss of loved ones, morticians became fashionable and the “business” of burying the dead was born, displacing many of the jobs previously performed by women to men. And as you may have guessed, the layer-out was well, out of fashion.

The business of dying became a consumer affair full of tradition and etiquette. Not only were there specific mourning clothes, procedures, and practices after a family member passed on, there were preparations one often made while one lived. It wasn’t uncommon for families to go without the necessities while living to ensure they had the money needed to provide a proper rather than pauper like burial for any of their family members if they died. “Burial clubs” ensured such appropriate funerals, by providing an insurance policy of sorts, to families making sure its members were cared for and provided proper funerals, when needed.

The job of preparing a body for burial had morphed into a business, one that no longer needed a simple layer-out of the dead, like my novel’s heroine, Lucy Wycliffe. But for hundreds of years before that, women had been the primary preparers and caregivers of the dead before they were seen to pass on to whatever they believed to be the next world.

Is that a nod of interest and understanding I see? I hope so. Care to get a glimpse into Lucy’s world? Then, check out an excerpt below. Thank you, Frankie, for having me on Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals today!

***

About the Book

When two murders strike the sleepy Victorian town of Clun, England, an unlikely partnership forms. But can the killer be found before there is a third?


Lovely Digits is the town oddity…


But quirky spinster Lucy Wycliffe prefers to ignore gossip and embrace her position as the town’s layer out of the dead, despite how her parents’ deaths thrust her into such unlikely work. Lovely Digits, as she’s known to the local townspeople, no longer dreams of marriage, but takes pride in providing dignity to the dead. Desperate to hold on to her family’s cottage and support her widowed sister and young niece, an unexpected offer of employment as assistant to the constable arrives at the perfect time.


Former sailor John Brodie is the mysterious new constable…


But John Brodie is far from a stranger to Clun or the events of its past. Accepting the position as constable in the small town is a double edged sword meant to heal his past and redeem his future, but falling for the beautiful and intelligent Lucy Wycliffe was never part of his plan. As the killer closes in, will John reveal his secret and risk losing everything to save Lucy’s life?

Amazon / Goodreads

***

Exclusive Excerpt

Clun, England

February, 1839

Old Man Codger’s frozen toe rolled across the floor toward the door.

Lord above. Mind the corner, sister,” Lucy muttered. She blew an errant curl from her cheek as they swung the man’s stiff body onto the scarred wooden table in front of the hearth. The body landed with a thud.

Blast. Lucy scanned the floor. Nothing. Where had it gone? She lifted her skirts.

There you are,” she grumbled. The rogue digit rested between the scuffed heels of her old brown boots. Using the edge of one of the sleeves of her faded blue blouse, she leaned down and clutched the rather putrid, large hairy toe and placed it on the man’s chest. Now she’d have to sew on a toe, too. A frozen toe.

Perfect.

Priscilla covered her mouth with the back of her hand and yielded a dry retch. Plugging her nose, she rolled her eyes. “There has to be another way.”

Lucy eyed her pert younger sister and sighed. At thirteen, Cil was on the cusp of womanhood. There were so many things she would miss from their parents not being there to guide her. The guilt over the death of Mother and Father a month past stung like a barb under Lucy’s skin. If only she’d arrived home at the cottage sooner instead of lingering about the forest to find her pet starling. She banished the thought away.

After tying back her hair, Lucy pushed up her sleeves to the elbow. “If there had been any other option, we’d have done it. It’s either prep him for burial or starve. It’s just us now, Cil.”

The old man’s time in the woods had not been kind to him, but at least the extreme cold had kept the insects at bay. A white milky maggot dropped from his nose to the table. Lucy shuddered. Most of them. She loathed insects, especially worms. Things that could move without legs weren’t natural.

Hand me the needle and thread.” Lucy rested her hands on her hips. “I need to get this toe sewn back on when he thaws. I’ll not be docked pay for him missing parts.”

***

About the Author

Jeanine Englert is a Golden Heart ® Finalist and Daphne du Maurier Award winner in historical romantic suspense. After years of writing in secret, she joined Romance Writers of America and Georgia Romance Writers in 2013 and has been an active member ever since. She writes Scottish Highland historicals and historical romantic suspense novels.

When she isn’t wrangling with her characters on the page, she can be found trying to convince her husband to watch her latest Masterpiece or BBC show obsession. She loves to talk about books, writing, her beloved pups, and of course mysteries with other readers on Twitter @JeanineWrites, Facebook, or at her website www.jeaninewrites.com.

Her debut novel, Lovely Digits, was released in June of 2019 by Soul Mate Publishing. It is a Victorian romantic suspense that won the 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award and was named a 2018 Golden Heart ® Finalist for best unpublished romantic suspense.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Amazon / Goodreads

#BlogTour | The Christmas Calendar Girls by Samantha Tonge #TheChristmasCalenderGirls #Review @SamTongeWriter @aria_fiction

Posted on

Hello everyone! I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this amazing blog tour for; The Christmas Calendar Girls by Samantha Tonge. Not only am I sharing my review of this gorgeous book, I also have an exclusive extract for you, so with out further ado, sit back, grab a cuppa and enjoy.

Christmas Calender Girls by Samantha Tonge

This Christmas fall in love with the town of Chesterwood…

Christmas is meant to be a time of giving, so with Chesterwood food bank under risk of closure Fern knows just what to do to save it. She’s going to get the town to create a living advent calendar.

Fern, and her best friends, call for help from the local community to bring this calendar to life. When Kit, the new man in town, offers his assistance Fern’s heart can’t help but skip a beat (or two).

As they grow ever closer, Fern must admit that Kit’s breaking down the barriers she built after the death of her husband. But his past is holding him back and Fern doesn’t know how to reach him. No matter how hard she tries.

In this town, Kit’s not the only one with secrets. Domestic goddess Cara is behaving oddly, burning meals in the oven and clothes whilst ironing, and Davina’s perfect children are causing trouble at school leaving her son, Jasper, desperately unhappy.

Can the Christmas Calendar Girls find a way to bring the community together in time to save the food bank, while still supporting their families and each other? Can Fern find love again with Kit?

This is a story about kindness and letting go of the past. It’s about looking out for your neighbours and about making every day feel like Christmas.

Amazon / Kobo / iBooks

***

Exclusive Excerpt

Yes, things had changed. As Lily had grown, I enjoyed her arms round me instead of his. They were just strong enough to push me forwards in time when, now and again, I longed to jump back.

But all those little doors – twenty-four!’ I said brightly. ‘Even Cara will struggle with that, and we know there’s nothing she can’t make out of a toilet roll and a cereal box.’

Apart from a car that doesn’t cut out in weather this cold. Now if I could create one of those…’

Playfully I pushed her shoulder. Dear Cara was ever modest. She’d warmly introduced her eldest daughter, Hannah, that first day in the playground, then beckoned over Davina with her twins, Jasper and Arlo. I was dressed up for a meeting to interview someone about the latest feature I was writing. Davina was dressed up just because. In jeans and trainers, Cara made some comment about herself never being a yummy mummy. I told her she looked great but said being a chummy mummy counted for much more. We’d had to explain to the children that the word chum meant friend. Appropriately, Cara meant friend in Irish. Her great-grandparents had come over from Belfast and she’d often told stories of their legendary hospitality. She must have inherited it.

I’m just a little worried for those of us who aren’t so artsy,’ I said. ‘And what with me working full-time and Lily being more of an outdoors sort…’

We’ve thought about that.’ Davina put the coffee pot down onto the low gilt table.

That’s what worries me.’

Cara chuckled.

It would have been easy to write off the Parents’ Association at Birchfield Primary as a bunch of people who had too much time on their hands. But it wasn’t. Tease as we did, Davina did a lot of charity work and, having been an accountant, still did the books for her husband’s building firm. The other members were either single like me and held down jobs, or, like Cara, they were busy stay-at-home parents.

And then there was redundancy, illness, divorce, caring for elderly relatives…

Everyone had a story.

Simply navigating the day to day was tough enough. Limiting screen time. Encouraging reading. Trying to make fruits and vegetables sound as appealing as chicken nuggets…

Davina proceeded to explain how she would design and provide everyone with a template made out of cardboard, her sleek, naturally blonde ponytail waving cheerily from side to side as she spoke.

Just don’t tell John’s mum.’ Cara undid her hand-knitted cardigan, its swirling pattern mimicking her wavy bob. ‘Audrey has always bemoaned the fact that Christmas starts too early and is so commercial.’ She’d lowered her voice as if her mother-in-law’s hearing aids could pick up far-off conversations.

I studied the dark rims under her eyes, accentuated against the pale, freckled skin characteristic of redheads. Life for Cara had been hard since her widowed mother-in-law had moved in two months ago following a fall. Although, now she was getting better, Audrey seemed like such a help. She was always playing with the children and kept Cara company, what with my friend’s husband, John, working all hours.

Maybe she’s got a point,’ said Davina. She slipped off her shoes and tucked her feet under her bottom. ‘Being involved with the food bank has really made me grateful for the life I have with Max, Jasper and Arlo.’

That’s where I first met him. Kit. For just a few seconds I’d seen nothing but those warm chestnut eyes. The way they’d crinkled at the corners and made me feel like the only person in the room.

Volunteering there has made me think about all the money we waste without even realising it,’ continued Davina. ‘One man was telling me that sometimes he has to choose between buying toothpaste or deodorant.’

Imagine that,’ said Cara and shook her head.

So this Christmas I’ve told relatives we are to limit how much we spend on each other. Fifty pounds each should do it.’

Cara and I both looked affectionately at Davina. Her attempts at budgeting were like born chef Cara deigning to buy ready-to-bake cake mix – one of Davina and my staples. Or like me complaining about aeroplanes flying over my semi, which was probably one of the quietest on the small estate, compared to Cara’s terrace next to a drummer and Davina’s detached house serenaded by a nearby cockerel.

*Extract used with permission from Aria as apart of this blog tour!

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What a wonderfully inspiring and feel good book, that will fill your heart with both the spirit of Christmas and that of the spirit of human kindness and really shows the importance of community and friendship.

This is the first book I have read by Samantha Tonge, I have no idea how I have let this talented author pass me by for so long – its true I walk around with eyes shut – I can definitely say that this will not be the last of her work, I am now on the hunt for more. I loved how Samantha drew me into the lives of the three women who do take centre stage; Fern (whom the story is told through) Davina and Cara, each has their own pasts, own problems. I love the relationship between Fern, Cara and Davina; they are true best friends, who go through highs and lows together and have always got each other’s back when needed; this book really shows the importance of having a handful of close friends in your life is and how magical female solidarity is.

Christmas in Chesterwood can only mean one thing, and that is the annual school charity fundraising and this year is no different, they will be creating Advent Christmas Calendars which they hope will bring joy and festive cheer to their village, especially at this time as their food bank is in trouble and a the brink of closure which will be disastrous for the whole community.

Single mother and widower; Fern has moved the little village of Chesterwood, where she is hoping to start a whole new life with her precious daughter; Lily. The last few years have been hard on both Fern and her daughter after the heart-breaking death of her husband, but as she has settled into village life the pain of her loss has started to ebb with the help of her new life and her good friends Cara and Davina. As Fern starts to work within the food bank more and more, she meets mysterious and handsome Kit who opens her eyes to a part of society that she has never fully understood and as he does so she starts to think that maybe she can be happy and find love again.

Kit is a mystery, there is far more to him then we first think, yes there are skeletons in his past, things that he would rather not share with Fern, he has a suspicious element about him that made me both aware of him and curious to know more. But essentially I saw him as a good man who has tried to move on with his life and put his personal demons in the past where they belong.

What I really loved about this is just how real and relatable it is, with its diverse cast of characters, who all have their own story to tell, each having their own lives difficulties but the way that these woman band together to try and save a food bank really touched my heart. The fact that the central story line is all about the food bank really brought this beautiful story into reality, it really brought the subject of food banks and the plight o those who need to use them and their own stories into the spotlight and it does make you evaluate you own lifestyle and just how privileges most of us are.

I was completely taken with this book, even before I read it. The cover alone is the prettiest thing, it caught my eye and made me want to pick it up, then the story within the gorgeous cover is gorgeous, it is one of those stories will stay with you, you won’t look at Christmas in the same again, I can guarantee that it will make an impact on you. I have a real soft spot for little village stories, where it’s not just the main character’s quest for happiness we are following, but that of a handful of secondary characters too.

Overall this is a charming, joyful and very Chrsitmassy story that will warm your heart, the writing is passionate and strong, it flows and takes the reader on real festive journey or heartache and discovery, very highly reccomended!

This was a Arc copy via Netgalley which I voluntarily reviewed as apart of this blog tour, thank you Vikki.

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About The Author

Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely.
When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines. 
She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association romantic comedy award

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Blog Tour Schedule

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