Special Feature: THE HOPE OF AZURE SPRINGS by Rachel Fordham

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THE HOPE OF
AZURE SPRINGS
by
RACHEL FORDHAM
Genre: Inspirational Historical Romance 
Date of Publication: July 3, 2018
Publisher: Revell
Number of Pages: 336

ABOUT THE BOOK: 

Seven years ago, orphaned and alone, Em finally arrived at a new home in Iowa after riding the orphan train. But secrets from her past haunt her, and her new life in the Western wilderness is a rough one. When her guardian is shot and killed, Em, now nineteen, finally has the chance to search for her long-lost sister, but she won’t be able to do it alone.

For Azure Springs Sheriff Caleb Reynolds, securing justice for the waifish and injured Em is just part of his job. He’s determined to solve every case put before him in order to impress his parents and make a name for himself. Caleb expects to succeed. What he doesn’t expect is the hold this strange young woman will have on his heart.
Welcome to the charming town of Azure Springs, Iowa, where people care deeply for one another and, sometimes, even fall in love.

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PRAISE FOR THE HOPE OF AZURE SPRINGS: 
“In her promising first novel, Fordham assembles an endearing cast of characters in the rugged Midwest plains for a tale about surviving and thriving. . . .Fordham depicts heartbreaking emotional and physical suffering, while beautifully illustrating the power in simple acts of kindness to foster healing, hope, and happiness.”
—Booklist

 

EXCERPT: PROLOGUE
FROM THE HOPE OF AZURE SPRINGS

Iowa, 1881

     She dead?”
     Em heard a man’s voice from somewhere above her. A strange thumping pulsed through her with each word he spoke. Her throat burned, screaming for water, but she could not cry out.
     “There’s life in her. Not much of it though,” a second, raspier voice answered. She felt a hand press against her throat and then move over her body, gently probing. “She’s bleeding pretty bad.”
     “Gunshot?” the first voice asked.
     If only her eyes would open, and she could see them. Straining, she struggled to pull her heavy eyelids open. Finally, bits of light darted in front of her eyes, but she could not focus. The faces above her were fuzzy and indiscernible.
     Fear swept through her, suddenly waking her battered body. Afraid the men from before had returned, she opened her eyes wide, finding strength that only moments before she had lacked. With thrashing arms, she flailed at the men. Her arms flopped about but offered little defense—she was too weak from blood loss. And then they moved no longer, subdued by large, strong hands.
     “Easy, girl. We aren’t going to hurt you. We just want to help. Take you into town, that’s all. There’s a good doctor there.” The man’s deep voice sounded gentle, but still she did not trust him. Voices could be deceiving. Arms could hurt as well as help. She knew these things well.
     Soon she felt her body being raised above the ground, and moments later the hard planks of a wagon became the resting place for her injured frame. Too weak to move, she lay looking at the sky, wishing there were a way to end the agony, but knowing that for Lucy she would fight on.
     Once the wagon lurched forward, she lost track of everything again. The wheels bouncing over ruts made her pain so intense that everything closed around her and then faded to black.
_____________
_____________

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Rachel Fordham started writing when her children began begging her for stories at night. She’d pull a book from the shelf, but they’d insist she make one up. She hasn’t stopped since. She lives with her husband and children on an island in the state of Washington.

 
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Interview: Ann Mah, author of THE LOST VINTAGE

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A Conversation with Ann Mah, author of The Lost Vintage

You were inspired to write The Lost Vintage after volunteering for the wine harvest in France, which you documented in a travel piece for the New York Times. When did you know you wanted to write this novel?

I first visited Burgundy in 2010 to research an article on Thomas Jefferson’s favorite vineyards in France. The minute I set foot in the region, I was captivated by the vine-covered slopes and charming villages. And if I sensed ghosts there, hovering amid the beauty, they only added to my fascination. I think the seed for this novel was planted then. A few years later, I volunteered to pick grapes at the harvest in Champagne. Harvest volunteers are often given free room and board, and I was put up in an empty attic apartment at the vineyard house. The rooms hadn’t been touched since the 1960s: they were sparsely decorated with mid-century hospital furniture; the floors creaked; the wallpaper was peeling; and at night the rural silence was deafening – and bone-chilling. Even though I was exhausted from long days of physical labor, whenever I lay down to sleep, my imagination would cartwheel. And so, I slept with the lights on, and when I woke, I wrote in my journal. This story was born from those wild scribblings.

Kate, the protagonist in The Lost Vintage, is a wine expert and is studying for the prestigious Master of Wine exam. What is your own history with wine? Do you consider yourself an expert?

It was important to me to be able to write accurately about the wine world, so as part of the research for this book, I took classes through the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, which is the same organization that administers the Master of Wine program. I learned just enough to know I’m definitely not an expert! As part of the class we did blind tastings, in which we smelled and tasted different wines and identified flavors from the wine aroma wheel. People would call out things like “dill,” “petrol,” or “green peppers,” and everyone would argue until the teacher came down with the final verdict. My fellow classmates were really competitive. I used to joke that it was like a blood sport.   

As a food and travel writer, of course, you’re always weaving narrative into evocative sensory descriptions of what you’re tasting or seeing, and that skill is apparent in The Lost Vintage, as well. How did you find writing about food and wine different in fiction, if at all?

When I’m writing an article, I’m trying to accurately relate an experience. But for fiction, I can’t imagine two better metaphors than food and wine – they speak to our deepest desires (or disgusts), our most visceral memories. You can communicate so much through a character’s favorite foods. As well, the dinner table remains my absolute favorite setting to write a scene of family conflict – everyone is tidily in one place, but each person has their own motivations and distractions.  

Much of your book deals with history, in particular that of World War II in Europe, and how people reconcile their family legacy with their own values. What prompted you to challenge your characters in this way?

As I mentioned, I was captivated by the beauty of Burgundy – but I felt something ominous there, too. I didn’t really understand it until I started researching World War II and learned more about the “épuration sauvage,” the spontaneous “wild purge” that punished thousands of women throughout France in the days and weeks following the Liberation. Accused of “horizontal collaboration,” or sleeping with the enemy, these women were targeted by vigilante justice and publicly humiliated. Their heads were shaved, they were stripped, paraded through town, smeared with tar, stoned, kicked, beaten, and sometimes killed. Yes, some of them had slept with Germans. Some of them were prostitutes. But some had been raped. Some were women who merely worked for German soldiers, as was the case with one cleaning lady. Some were framed and falsely accused out of jealousy. Many were mothers desperate to feed their starving children. In almost every case, their punishment was far worse than their male counterparts. These women – over 20,000 of them! – were the most vulnerable members of society, and they became scapegoats for a humiliated nation. I felt it was important for their story to finally be told.  

The Lost Vintage shows that though there were many French résistants acting during the war, there were also many French people who essentially supported the Nazis through complicity, often for survival’s sake. As Rose says at one point, “It’s much safer to do nothing.” Do you think these actions are wartime phenomena, or are there ways in which we can show courage or remain complicit in a similar way in day to day life?

I think World War II is ultimately a morality tale and so many years after it, we’d all like to believe we’d have fought for the right side. Of course, the reality is always more complicated – and wartime complicates things even further. I think a lot of regret and shame about the war still lingers in France. If I learned anything while researching this book, it’s that small actions can have unforeseen and lingering consequences.

Aboutthebook

The Lost Vintage cover

About THE LOST VINTAGE

Kate has spent years building her career as a sommelier in San Francisco, despite a weakness for identifying Burgundian vintages. While she’s carefully managed to avoid them thus far, she can no longer do so as she faces her final attempt at passing the notoriously difficult Master of Wine Examination. With the test only a few months away, she travels to her family’s vineyard in Burgundy—a place she has purposefully avoided for nearly a decade—to help with les vendanges, the annual grape harvest. While there, she does everything she can to bolster her shaky knowledge of Burgundian wine, while also ignoring both the bittersweet memories of her childhood and Jean-Luc, her first love.

While Kate helps her cousin, Nico, and his wife clear the enormous basement of the vineyard house, she discovers a hidden room containing a cot, dozens of Resistance pamphlets, and an enormous cache of valuable wine. As Kate digs into her family’s history, her search takes her back to the dark days of WWII and introduces her to a relative she never knew existed: a great–half aunt who was a teenager during the Nazi occupation. As she learns more about her family, the line between resistance and collaboration blurs, driving Kate to question who, exactly, her family aided during the difficult years of the war and the fate of six valuable bottles of wine that seem to be missing from the cellar’s collection.

 

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abouttheauthor

The Lost Vintage Ann Mah authorphoto_credit Katia Grimmer-Laversanne

Ann Mah is a food and travel writer based in Paris and Washington, DC. She is the author of the food memoir Mastering the Art of French Eating and Kitchen Chinese, a novel. She regularly contributes to the New York Times’ Travel section, and has written for Condé Nast Traveler, Vogue.com, BonAppetit.com, Food52, and others.

You can learn more at www.annmah.net.

 

Guest Post and Cover Reveal: HARMON GENERAL by Kimberly Fish

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HARMON GENERAL

Misfits and Millionaires #2 

by

KIMBERLY FISH

Genre: Historical Fiction / WWII / Spies 

Expected Date of Publication: June 16, 2018

Number of Pages: 330

ABOUT THE BOOK: 

Harmon General is book two in the WWII historical fiction series entitled Misfits and Millionaires—set in Longview, Texas. The novel picks up about two months after the story line in The Big Inch ended.

Familiar characters and locations get a shot of adrenaline from the biological hazard espionage going on at the U.S. Army’s new medical hospital treating diseased and wounded soldiers—a 156-acre pop campus created as part of a master plan to place U.S. Army hospitals around Texas specializing in long-term wound care for WWII soldiers. The Office of Strategic Services has one of its best agents in place as a nurse at Harmon General—Sgt. Emmie Tesco—and she’s soon up to her blood pressure cuff in intrigues at the hospital campus, particularly the mission to stop a culprit code-named “Dr. Death” who is accused of skewing the malaria test protocols being established at Harmon so that no one will notice him preparing to sell the malaria research to the enemies of the Allies. Heroes and villains circulate in Longview from the post at Harmon General, and Emmie ropes Lane Mercer into helping manage the overload of responsibilities. Readers of The Big Inch will better understand what drives Emmie Tesco and why poking at old wounds can be a messy affair. The backstory of Lane Mercer and her first husband gets a brutal airing too, and stakes grow dangerous for Lane and Zeke Hayes as the plans they’d wanted for their wedding are upended by well-meaning, Aunt Edith.

PRESENTING THE COVER 

OF HARMON GENERAL

 

 

PRAISE FOR HARMON GENERAL:

“The war that changed the world brought the world to East Texas through Harmon General, a significant US Army hospital that treated thousands of wounded soldiers in Longview.  In Harmon General, we meet again Lane Mercer, a World War II heroine, and we enjoy again how the drama of her secret service to the nation and her complicated personal relationships pull us into the vast impact of the world war.” — Dale Lunsford, Ph.D., President, LeTourneau University

GuestPost

What’s real in the WWII historical fiction novel, Harmon General?

GUEST POST BY KIMBERLY FISH

Much like in the novel, The Big Inch, I researched the very real history of the U.S. Army’s hospital built south of Longview, Texas known as Harmon General. Not only was I stunned by the level of medical procedures invented and established into modern medical practices by the research done at Harmon General (like malaria treatment, prosthetics, and physical therapy) but also by the astounding number of 25,000 patients treated during the short tenure of this hospital (1942-47.) I was particularly impressed by how well received this hospital and its incoming 5000-member personnel were treated by the local Longview community. The local volunteer wing, known as The Gray Ladies, was serious business in Longview. I spent many hours at the Longview Public Library, reading old issues of Longview News Journal, researching old files in San Antonio at the U.S. Army’s Medical Museum at Ft. Sam Houston, but also in going through the archives at Gregg County Historical Museum listening to old audio tapes of interviews with those who were stationed at Harmon. All the context of the novel is real, the speaking characters in the novel are imaginary—some are compilations of actual historical figures, but as with TBI, I changed the names to protect their privacy.

To be fair, I’m not aware of actual intellectual property theft at Harmon General, nor is there any official documentation that the OSS or the FBI were ever called in to resolve issues on the campus. But then, there never is—is there?

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Kimberly Fish started writing professionally with the birth of her second child and the purchase of a home computer. Having found this dubious outlet, she then entered and won The Writer’s League of Texas manuscript contest which fed her on-going fascination with story crafting.

She has since published in magazines, newspapers, and online formats and in January 2017, released the first novel in the Misfits and Millionaires series set during the World War II years in Longview, Texas—The Big Inch. Her second book, Comfort Plans, was published later that same year.

She lives with her family in East Texas.

 

HARMON GENERAL

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Guest Post: Top Ten by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, author of ZOMBIE ABBEY

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MY TOP 10…FAVORITE WORDS!

Being a former sort-of librarian myself, and being given the opportunity to post about something on The Librarian Talks, what else would I talk about? Words!


10. That – OK, maybe it’s cheating to put that here, but it must be my favorite since I overuse it in all of my first drafts and then wind up having to take a ton of them out during revisions. Other writers may be noted for their drinking problems. (I’m looking at you, Hemingway!) I have a that problem.

9. Criminy. This word from the late 1600s, used as a mild oath or to express surprise, wouldn’t even be on the list were it not for an exchange I had on Twitter the other day. All I’ll say is that the topic was politics and my use of that word, which I’d never used in my life before, was entirely warranted.

8. Ineluctable. A few decades ago, I noticed that Stephen King used this word all the time in his writing – so: overused. Why not just say inevitable, or unavoidable? Why must it be ineluctable…and so frequently? But it’s been a few decades since I’ve read a Stephen King novel, so I feel like this one can be safely pulled out of the word retirement village I’d banished it to.

7. Makebate. This is a simply marvelous word, the existence of which I’m only aware of because it appeared at the top of the page in the dictionary one day when I was searching for an entirely different word. (Yes, I use a real dictionary.) It’s an archaic word from the early 1500s and means “one that excites contention and quarrels.” I bet if I were a makebate I’d be more interesting but I suppose I might get invited less places too.

6. Dictionary. Because it’s this insanely wonderful thing, where you can be looking for one thing in it and come across a word you’ve never heard of in your very wordy life before and suddenly everything feels magical.

5. Chocolate. Should be self-explanatory.

4. Wine. Also self-explanatory.

3. Enisled. I first came across this word in Canadian author Wayne Johnston’s The Colony of Unrequited Dreams two decades ago and it still stuns me. Few words are so evocative in sound to me as what their meaning is. I would never want to be enisled…but there are a few people I wouldn’t mind seeing it happen to (one being the person I said “Criminy!” about).

2. Termagant. I actually have no idea what the source of me knowing this word is, but I do know that I’ve managed to use it in more than one of my novels; several, in fact. Sure, I could use shrew instead, but what can I say? My usage of termagant, particularly in any historical novel, feels ineluctable.

1. Jackie. I actually do know this isn’t technically a word. It’s my daughter’s name and it’s my single favorite arrangement of letters and sounds in the English language.

 

abouttheauthor (1)

Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the author of over 30 books for adults, teens and children, which have been published in 15 countries. Before becoming a writer, she was an independent bookseller (11 years), a Publishers Weekly reviewer (292 titles); a freelance editor, a sort-of librarian, and a window washer. She lives in CT with her husband, daughter and cat. Lauren prefers the nobility to zombies, as a rule, and so long as you’re not the latter, you’re welcome to visit her at www.laurenbaratzlogsted.com.

 

Aboutthebook (1)

9781633759121

  1. ENGLAND

And the teenage Clarke sisters thought the entail was their biggest problem…

     Lady Kate, the entitled eldest.

     Lady Grace, lost in the middle and wishing she were braver.

     Lady Lizzy, so endlessly sunny, it’s easy to underestimate her.

Then there’s Will Harvey, the proud, to-die-for—and possibly die with!—stable boy; Daniel Murray, the resourceful second footman with a secret; Raymond Allen, the unfortunate-looking young duke; and Fanny Rogers, the unsinkable kitchen maid.

Upstairs! Downstairs! Toss in some farmers and villagers!

None of them ever expected to work together for any reason.

But none of them had ever seen anything like this.

 

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Character Interview: Pearl Pilkington from THE WAY OF BEAUTY by Camille Di Maio {giveaway}

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THE WAY OF BEAUTY

by

Camille Di Maio

Genre: Historical Fiction / 20th Century / Literary

Publisher: Lake Union Press; Date of Publication: May 1, 2018

Number of Pages: 384  

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Hearts and dreams evolve in the shadow of the once-magnificent Penn Station.

Vera Keller, the daughter of German immigrants in turn-of-the-century New York City, finds her life upended when the man she loves becomes engaged to another woman. But Angelo Bellavia has also inadvertently opened up Vera’s life to unexpected possibilities. Angelo’s new wife, Pearl, the wealthy daughter of a clothing manufacturer, has defied her family’s expectations by devoting herself to the suffrage movement. In Pearl, Vera finds an unexpected dear friend…and a stirring new cause of her own. But when Pearl’s selfless work pulls her farther from Angelo and their son, the life Vera craved is suddenly within her reach—if her conscience will allow her to take it.

Her choice will define not only her future but also that of her daughter, Alice.

Vera and Alice—a generation and a world apart—are bound by the same passionate drive to fulfill their dreams. As first mother and then daughter come of age in a city that is changing as rapidly as its skyline, they’ll each discover that love is the only constant.

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PRAISE FOR THE WAY OF BEAUTY:

“The Way of Beauty is a thing of beauty. The writing is gorgeous, the story is engaging, the characters are amazing. The amount of research that goes into historical fiction just astounds me. Add this to your TBR!”

“If you want to be swept away by a love story set in a fascinating and meticulously researched past, Camille Di Maio is the author for you. Don’t miss this one.”

“A captivating story of love and family that spans several generations.”

“The writing transports you to the time, not so long ago when women had to choose between love and their rights. Camille Di Maio’s dialogue, descriptions, and relationships create a complete picture of the era and struggles. Great book club book.”

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CHECK OUT THE BOOK TRAILER!

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characterinterview

Interview with Pearl Pilkington, Character from The Way of Beauty

Where and when were you born?

I was born in 1890 and remember watching turn-of-the-century celebrations with my family. I’m glad I was old enough to witness that, as I won’t be around for the next one!

Where have you lived?

I have lived in New York City for all of my life.

Family members?

I am an only child. My father is a clothing magnate and my mother organizes many fundraisers for the needy. I did not see them very much growing up. I am widowed and have a son, William, from that marriage.

In what situation is your self esteem most at risk?

I pretend that I don’t care what my parents think about my work in the suffrage movement, but I’m afraid that I do. I wish that they supported it, and I am saddened that it is not something I can share with them since it is such an important part of my life.

What are you keeping a secret?

I don’t let on, but I miss my late husband terribly.

What are you lying to yourself about? To others?

I am lying if I say that I am a better mother than my own was. In fact, I am more like her than I care to admit. She was – and is – fiercely devoted to her causes, more so than she was to me as her daughter. And though I want to be a caring and devoted mother, I weigh the time I can spend for that one life versus all the good I can do for many lives, and it draws me away.

How do you decide of you can trust someone?

There are few people that I trust, but if I can determine that their motivations are pure, I will give them my whole heart.

When you walk into a room what do you notice first? Second?

That’s a good question. First, I notice who is serving and who is being served. Then, I look at how the served are treating the servants.

How would you change the world?  The things around you? The people around you?

I work for a world where all are equal, regardless of gender, race, or financial abilities. I am currently working on helping women gain the right to vote. Let me correct that – we already have the right to vote based on our dignity as human beings. But our government is suppressing that right.

How do you learn best?

I learn best by doing. I participate fully in anything I believe in.

What unusual hobbies or interests do you have?

I have little time for hobbies, though if I did, I’d quite like to read a lot more than I do. I believe reading is the best education, and I encourage more women to do it.

What are you most afraid of?

I am afraid of frogs. I know. A silly thing, but there it is.

What do you like best about yourself?

I like that I give myself fully to my causes.

What do you like least about yourself?

I dislike that I do it at the expense of those I love.

What do you think other people think of you?

I’m sure people find me to be quite intense, but I am much softer inside than I let on.

What’s your greatest source of joy?

My son, William. I see my late husband reflected in his face. He is often asleep by the time I get home, and I get great joy in looking at him, so innocent.

~Romance Writers of America Honor Roll Inductee~

Camille recently left an award-winning real estate career in San Antonio to become a full-time writer. Along with her husband of 19 years, she enjoys raising their four children. She has a bucket list that is never-ending and uses her adventures to inspire her writing. She’s lived in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California, and spends enough time in Hawai’i to feel like a local. She’s traveled to four continents (so far) and met Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. She just about fainted when she had a chance to meet her musical idol, Paul McCartney, too. Camille studied political science in college but found working on actual campaigns much more fun. She overdoses on goodies at farmer’s markets (justifying them by her support for local bakeries) and belts out Broadway tunes whenever the moment strikes. There’s almost nothing she wouldn’t try, so long as it doesn’t involve heights, roller skates, or anything illegal. The Memory of Us was Camille’s debut novel. Her second, Before the Rain Falls was released on May 16, 2017, and The Way of Beauty is her third novel.

 

Website ║ Facebook ║ Instagram ║ Amazon Author Page ║ Twitter  ║ Goodreads ║

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Special Feature: Scrapbook Page – A BORROWED DREAM by Amanda Cabot {giveaway}

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A BORROWED DREAM

The Cimarron Creek Trilogy, Book 2

by

Amanda Cabot

Genre: Historical Romance / Inspirational

Publisher: Revell

Date of Publication: March 20, 2018

Number of Pages: 352

 

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Catherine Whitfield is sure that she will never again be able to trust anyone in the medical profession after the town doctor’s excessive bleeding treatments killed her mother. Despite her loneliness and her broken heart, she carries bravely on as Cimarron Creek’s dutiful schoolteacher, resigned to a life without love or family, a life where dreams rarely come true.

Austin Goddard is a newcomer to Cimarron Creek. Posing as a rancher, he fled to Texas to protect his daughter from a dangerous criminal. He’s managed to keep his past as a surgeon a secret. But when Catherine Whitfield captures his heart, he wonders how long he will be able to keep up the charade.

With a deft hand, Amanda Cabot teases out the strands of love, deception, and redemption in this charming tale of dreams deferred and hopes becoming reality.

 

CLICK FOR BOOK TRAILER ON ANIMOTO!

PRAISE FOR A BORROWED DREAM:

“Cabot’s sweet love story will appeal to readers of gentle romances. . .Although this title stands on its own, readers of A Stolen Heart (2017), the first in Cabot’s place-based trilogy, will be happy to revisit the folks of Cimarron Creek.” — Booklist

“The second book in Cabot’s Cimarron Creek trilogy is even better than the first, with a dash of suspense, an intriguing bit of medical history and a host of enjoyable characters.” — RT Book Reviews

PRAISE FOR A STOLEN HEART, BOOK ONE IN THE CIMARRON CREEK TRILOGY: 

“Readers will enjoy the surprising ending as well as the romance always found in Cabot’s books.”Publishers Weekly

“Moments of humor provide a nice balance to the heartwarming scenes and the mild suspense thread.”RT Book Reviews

“Cabot’s nonpreachy inspirational romance features characters who genuinely try to live honorable lives, and their story has broad appeal for readers of gentle fiction and historical romance as well as for readers of Christian fiction.”Booklist 

 

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Scrapbook A Borrowed Dream

 

IMAGES 1-3: Pictures from my most recent trip to Texas remind me of the beauty of the Hill Country.

IMAGE 4: Notre Dame – Looking at the scene that figures so prominently in Catherine’s dream helps me focus on the story.

IMAGE 5: Cimarron Creek Map – Who lives where? A map of the town is essential for me.

 

Cabot_Amanda

 

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of A Stolen Heart, the first book of the Cimarron Creek trilogy, as well as the Texas Crossroads series, the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and the Booksellers’ Best. She lives in Wyoming.

 ║Website ║ Facebook ║ 

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║ Twitter Goodreads 

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Excerpt: WICKWYTHE HALL by Judithe Little {giveaway}

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WICKWYTHE HALL

by

Judithe Little

Genre: Historical Fiction / WWII

Publisher: Black Opal Books

Date of Publication: September 30, 2017

Number of Pages: 324

 

*Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards Finalist*

*2018 Reader Views Readers’ Choice Award for Historical Fiction*

*Winner of the Tyler R. Tichelaar Award for Best Historical Fiction*

*Official selection of the Pulpwood Queens Book Club*

 

  

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May 1940. The Germans invade France and the course of three lives is upended. Annelle LeMaire is a French refugee desperate to contact her Legionnaire brothers. Mabry Springs, American wife of a wealthy Brit, is struggling to come to terms with a troubled marriage and imminent German invasion. And Reid Carr, American representative of French champagne house Pol Roger, brings more than champagne to Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Their paths entwine when Churchill and his entourage take refuge at Wickwythe Hall, the Springs’ country estate hidden from the full moon and German bombers beneath a shroud of trees. There, as secrets and unexpected liaisons unfold, Annelle, Mabry, and Reid are forever bound by the tragedy they share.

Part Downton Abbey, part Darkest Hour, Wickwythe Hall was inspired by an actual confrontation between the British and French navies in July 1940 and is a story of love, loyalty, and heartrending choices.

 

PRAISE FOR WICKWYTHE HALL:

“…a riveting and enlightening mix of history and fiction that puts a human face on the costs of war…engaging…”  — Foreword Reviews

“Little’s characterization of Churchill is so well done. She makes his personality and presence so real. Mabry was a character to be admired for her decisions and actions. A good read with a satisfying ending.”   — Historical Novels Review

“Judithe Little tackles war and masterfully boils it down to personal moral dilemmas. Beautifully written and rich with atmosphere…Wickwythe Hall is a stellar achievement.”  — Ann Weisgarber, author of The Personal History of Rachel DuPree and The Promise

“…an emotional and touching story about the lives of three people during World War II, at the time of Hitler’s invasion of France in 1940. Inspired by real people, places and events in history, this whirlwind novel will no doubt leave an imprint on your heart long after you finish reading.”  — Reader Views

“If you love history, beautifully rendered characters, and stories that will tug at your heart, add Wickwythe Hall to your list.”  — Book Perfume

 

 

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EXCERPT from

Wickwythe Hall

By Judithe Little

 

France: May 1940:

Outside the convent kitchen, a truck rumbled past. “Sister,” Annelle said. “That’s the fifth to go by.”

“Yes,” Sister Marie Michel said, not bothering to look up. “Now try to be still.”

Arms out at her sides, Annelle balanced on a rickety wooden stool, worn and curved at the center from so many feet before hers. Sister Marie Michel’s skirt rustled as she crouched low on the rough stone floor stitching the hem of the gown Annelle was to wear down the aisle. It was a simple white sheath with sleeves to her wrists and a high collar. It made her skin itch and her face flush. She wanted to loosen the seams, stretch the tight weave of the cloth. Instead, she swallowed hard. “These trucks,” she said. “They sound like army trucks.”

“The vows bring such marvelous enrichment,” the nun said, as if she hadn’t heard. “The ultimate act of giving oneself, to give your whole being in sacrifice to another…”

Annelle shifted her weight. The stool wobbled. She felt a sharp, quick pain at her ankle.

“Mother Mary, I stuck you,” Sister Marie Michel said. “Are you all right?” She looked up at Annelle with kind blue eyes that had soothed skinned knees and night terrors. Twenty years had passed since the accident when Annelle, two years old, and her brothers, seven and eight, were orphaned and brought to the convent to live. Sister Marie Michel, like all of the sisters, had cherished and loved them as if they were the nuns’ own flesh, maybe more so because the nuns didn’t have that option. And now the day was coming, the day the sisters had kept tucked in their hearts since Annelle had arrived, the day they’d give her away.

“It’s fine,” Annelle said. The stinging at her ankle felt strangely good, something to think about besides army trucks and wedding dresses.

Sister Marie Michel continued stitching. “…a love that is gentle and kind…the most holy union…a ceremony sanctified and sacred…”

Annelle closed her eyes. In one week, she would be the bride of Christ. One last week, before she gave herself over to vows of enclosure, chastity, poverty, obedience. But her brothers, gone ten months, would not be there to give her away.

“…truly bound to Christ in the most marvelous way… this most holy Groom will never fail or leave you…”

Outside, another truck passed. Annelle opened her eyes. “Something’s happened,” she said. “Something with the war.”

author pic Judithe Little

Judithe Little grew up in Virginia and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia.  After studying at the Institute of European Studies and the Institut Catholique in Paris, France, and interning at the U.S. Department of State, she earned a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law where she was on the Editorial Board of the Journal of International Law and a Dillard Fellow. She lives with her husband, three teenagers, and three dogs in Houston, Texas, where she’s at work on her next historical novel set in France.

 

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1ST: Signed Copy of Wickwythe Hall + $50 Amazon Gift Card

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MARCH 27-APRIL 5, 2018

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Excerpt: DAM NATION: Bonnie and Clyde Series, Book 2 by Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall

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*******

DAM NATION 

BOOK RELEASE BLITZ 

Bonnie and Clyde #2

by

CLARK HAYS AND KATHLEEN McFALL

 

Genre: Historical / Alternative History / Romance 

Publisher: Pumpjack Press

Date of Publication: March 24, 2018

Number of Pages: 266

 

CLICK TO PURCHASE

 

Bonnie and Clyde: Defending the working class from a river of greed.

The year is 1935 and the Great Depression has America in a death grip of poverty, unemployment and starvation. But the New Deal is rekindling hope, with federally funded infrastructure projects, like Hoover Dam, putting folks back to work. So, why is someone trying to blow it up? That’s what Bonnie and Clyde set out to uncover in the novel Dam Nation by Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall, the second book in a provocative speculative fiction series that re-imagines the outlaws’ lives.

 

*******

“A rollicking good read!” — Midwest Book Review

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EXCERPT

 

WHAT IF?

The Texas Ranger looked up at Sal, a mixture of fear, respect and revulsion in his eyes. “Let’s pretend for a minute it wasn’t Bonnie and Clyde in that ambush,” he said. “Why? Why would it be different people in that car?”

“How would I know?” Sal asked. “I work for the government. I trust that the government has my best interests at heart. I follow orders. You didn’t.”

“I won’t be quiet about this unless you can tell me why anyone would try to save them outlaws.”

“If they were still alive, I would tell you that everyone has a purpose in life, and perhaps they are fulfilling theirs. And if they were still alive, I would tell you that you don’t use good dogs to guard the junkyard, you use the meanest goddamn dogs you can get a collar around.”

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS: 

Clark and Kathleen wrote their first book together in 1999 as a test for marriage. They passed. Dam Nation is their sixth co-authored book. 

 

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BONNIE AND CLYDE: DAM NATION

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Review: BEYOND SCANDAL AND DESIRE by Lorraine Heath {giveaway}

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BEYOND SCANDAL AND DESIRE

Sins for All Seasons, Book 1

by

LORRAINE HEATH  

Genre: Historical / Regency Romance
Publisher: Avon

Date of Publication: January 30, 2018

Number of Pages: 320

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At birth, Mick Trewlove, the illegitimate son of a duke, was handed over to a commoner. Despite his lowly upbringing, Mick has become a successful businessman, but all his wealth hasn’t satisfied his need for revenge against the man who still won’t acknowledge him. What else can Mick do but destroy the duke’s legitimate son—and woo the heir’s betrothed into his own unloving arms . . .

Orphaned and sheltered, Lady Aslyn Hastings longs for a bit of adventure. With her intended often preoccupied, Aslyn finds herself drawn to a darkly handsome entrepreneur who seems to understand her so well. Surely a lady of her station should avoid Mick Trewlove. If only he weren’t so irresistible . . .

As secrets are about to be exposed, Mick must decide if his plan for vengeance is worth risking what his heart truly desires.

 

PRAISE FOR BEYOND SCANDAL AND DESIRE:

“Heath builds a community of fascinating, intertwined characters that readers will be eager to get to know as they cheer for the driven hero and the spunky, smart heroine.” — Publishers Weekly

“RITA Award–winner Heath’s new Sins for All Seasons series is off to an impressive start with an unforgettable, emotionally charged love story that will dazzle and delight readers with its exquisitely crafted characters, deliciously sensual romance, and impeccably rendered historical setting.” — Booklist/ *STARRED* Review

 

“For the first book in the Sins for All Seasons series, Heath returns to the world of dark London — a world she understands as well as Dickens. Heath illuminates the city’s underbelly with a powerful romance of healing and redemption. Her talents for drawing readers into the era with her well-drawn, three dimensional characters and realistic dialogue sets her novels apart. The unexpected twists and turns of the plot guarantees it will be placed on your keeper shelf.” — RT Book Reviews/ “Top Pick” Review

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A satisfying story of love and revenge.
What is there NOT to love about this book!?! One of the best portrayals of a revenge romance trope I’ve ever read, wrapped up in a story of world where birthright means everything, and class distinction is never questioned.
Mick Trewlove is the bastard son of a duke, a man who sent him away to be raised as a commoner as an infant.  Despite his success in business, he still wants revenge against the man.  He plans to ruin the Duke’s legitimate son by stealing his fiance away.
Lady Aslyn Hastings has grown up as ward of the Duke, being orphaned in childhood.  She is betrothed to his son, and has always assumed this would be her fate, until she meets Mick Trewlove and finds herself unable to resist him.
Mick finds his plan at revenge at odds with his growing attraction to Lady Hastings.  He must decide whether love or revenge is most important, in the end.
I highly recommend BEYOND SCANDAL AND DESIRE to lovers of a well-written historical romance.  This story has everything you’d expect from a regency romance, as well as the excellent storytelling by Lorraine Heath.  Can’t wait to see what the rest of the series brings!
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Lorraine Heath always dreamed of being a writer. After graduating from the University of Texas, she wrote training manuals, press releases, articles, and computer code, but something was always missing. When she read a romance novel, she not only became hooked on the genre, but quickly realized what her writing lacked: rebels, scoundrels, and rogues. She’s been writing about them ever since. Her work has been recognized with numerous industry awards, including RWA’s prestigious RITA. Her novels have appeared on the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists.

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Character Interview: Molly Goodnight of PALO DURO by Max Knight

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PALO DURO
by
MAX L. KNIGHT
  Genre: Historical Fiction / Western
Publisher: Page Publishing, Inc.
Date of Publication: September 2, 2017
Number of Pages: 226
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Westward expansion following the civil war ushered in an era of increased conflict between the Southern Plains Indians and white settlers. Peace treaties offered temporary suspension of hostilities, but more often than not resulted in broken promises as the two cultures clashed over land. The construction of frontier forts and towns, the decimation of the buffalo herds, the movement of cattle through Indian lands to burgeoning western markets, – all of these forces threatened a way of life that had existed for centuries.
The Comanche, the Southern Cheyenne, the Kiowa, the Apache all fought to protect their customs and homelands. The clashes were characterized by savagery on both sides – Indian and white. However, finite numbers and options would ensure the tribes’ defeat; they faced certain death or forced relocation and their days were numbered.
Though the Indian wars are the focus of Palo Duro, the novel also captures the spirit of the “Old West” with its depiction of the great cattle drives from Texas into Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado and Montana, the cattle barons and the trail blazers, the outlaws and gunslingers, the lawmen and Texas Rangers, and the settlers and entrepreneurs who built this country. It chronicles an era characterized by heroism, brutality, and bold ventures while paying tribute to a genre that is fading from public consciousness – the western. It is the story of the Southwest United States towards the end of the nineteenth century and the rugged individualism that forged a nation.
5 STAR PRAISE FOR PALO DURO:
This book captured Central Texas in the post-Civil War era better than any other book I’ve read. It was well researched, well written, and easy to read. I enjoyed this book more than Empire of the Summer Moon, the standard setter. I recommend this to readers of any level, even if you dislike history, as this book is that good. 
– Jeffrey R. Murray, Amazon review
Max Knight brought to life the saga of how Texas tamed their frontier. He presents a colorful experience with characters effectively placed throughout his story. If you have any interest in Texas history this book is a must read. – AmazonJacki, Amazon review

Palo Duro is an exceptional novel, well researched; a must read. 
– Chuck B., Amazon review

Reading this book is a great way to deepen and appreciate one’s Texas roots – or if you are not a Texan to understand and enjoy what makes Texas, well, Texas! I found this novel to be especially entertaining as well as informative. Made me want to go back and read Lonesome Dove again! – Michael P., Amazon review

In the spirit of the old Western genre of Zane Grey and L’amour, Max Knight pays homage to our national heritage with this fictional but historically accurate labor of love that warms the heart with his vivid imagery and authentic tone of America’s illustrious and sometimes brutal past. – Chester Sosinski, Amazon review

Interview with Mary Ann (Molly) Goodnight

A Character in Palo Duro
By Max Knight

You have been credited with saving the buffalo on the Southern Plains. Can you tell me why you got involved in this effort?

When my husband Charles and I first moved to West Texas, the annual migration of the buffalo herds extended across the plains as far as the eye could see. The buffalo numbered in the millions and their movement caused huge dust clouds to form that looked like an advancing storm. The earth shook, and the sound resembled thunder. It was both frightening and exhilarating, but in less than a decade their numbers were reduced to less than five-hundred.
 

How did such a drastic reduction occur in so short a time?

For a time, the buffalo hides became fashionable back east and in Europe. A great many animals were killed simply because of human vanity. However, even after the fad ran its course, our government encouraged the buffalo hunters to continue slaughtering the buffalo to deprive Native Americans of their primary source of food and shelter. It was a strategy designed to end the Indians’ nomadic lifestyle and force them onto the reservations.
 

Didn’t your husband attempt to cross-breed the remaining buffalo with cattle?

Charles was a cattleman whose business was to provide meat to northern and eastern markets. Both his Longhorn cattle and the buffalo had proven that they could survive the harsh environmental conditions that exist in the plains… extreme heat and cold, the lack of water and forage, and winds that chafe both man and beast. He thought by mating the species, he could create an even more resilient breed. He called them “cattalo.” The experiment didn’t work.
 

So, how did you manage to save and ultimately increase the buffalo population?

I asked my husband to bring in the calves so I could nurture and raise them.
 

Why the focus on the just the calves?

In many cases, the mother had been killed by hunters leaving the calf to either starve or become prey to other predatory animals. The calves would remain by the dead carcass of their mothers and their cries could be heard for miles. They were babies in need of love and caring, and I thought someone had to come to their aid.
 

Did your efforts succeed right away?

No. The calves had to be hand fed by bottle at first, and many simply couldn’t or wouldn’t make the transition. A large number died. However, I kept trying and in time some of them survived, mated, and produced offspring. Those offspring multiplied and today, though nowhere near the numbers that once existed, they are again roaming free in some of our state and national parks, giving new generations the opportunity to see them in their natural habitat.
 

Do you feel a sense of accomplishment or pride?

Absolutely. For me, the buffalo are representative of a bygone era. They are living history.

Max L. Knight was born in Panama in 1949, and was raised both in the Canal Zone and in San Antonio, Texas where he now resides with his wife, Janet “Gray.” A proud member of the Corps of Cadets and graduate of Texas A&M University (Class of ’73), he received a bachelor’s degree in English and a Regular Army commission and served the next twenty-four years as an Air Defense and Foreign Area Officer before retiring in 1997 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. After leaving the Army, Max spent the next five years working for RCI Technologies of San Antonio, becoming its Director of Internal Operations. Separating from the company in 2002, he volunteered to be the first docent at the Alamo working within its Education Department before once again serving his country as a Counterintelligence Specialist in Europe, Central America, Asia and the Middle East through 2013. Max speaks several languages including Greek and Spanish. He also holds a Master of Science degree in government from Campbell University. He has written and published two books to date: Silver Taps, a personal memoir of his relationship with his father and a tribute to his alma mater, and Palo Duro, a novel focusing on the Indian wars in the southwestern United States at the end of the nineteenth century.
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Review
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Review
1/15/18
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