THE FIRST EMMA By Camille Di Maio – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

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THE FIRST EMMA

by

Camille Di Maio

Historical Fiction / Historical Romance / Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing
Date of Publication: May 5, 2020
Number of Pages: 315

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Synopsis

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The First Emma is the true story of Emma Koehler, whose tycoon husband, Otto, was killed in a crime-of-the-century murder by one of his two mistresses—both also named Emma—and her unlikely rise as CEO of a brewing empire during Prohibition. When a chance to tell her story to a young teetotaler arises, a tale unfolds of love, war, beer, and the power of women.

PRAISE for The First Emma: 
“Di Maio’s take on a shocking American drama pleasantly blends romantic and historical fiction . . . a sweet memorialization of a real-life female business pioneer in San Antonio.” —Kirkus

“A beautifully crafted portrait of an intriguing woman. Mystery and romance are set against the backdrop of fascinating pieces of twentieth-century history, and a richly drawn setting leaves the reader feeling wholly immersed. Historical fiction fans will love this one!” —Chanel CleetonNYT bestselling author of Next Year in Havana

“Di Maio does a brilliant job of weaving together all the threads—from past to present—while unearthing a tale of blossoming love, the power of our chosen family, and the losses that make us whole again.” —Rochelle B. WeinsteinUSA Today bestselling author of This Is Not How It Ends

 

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Born out of Camille Di Maio’s creative imagination and impeccable research, The First Emma is a wonderful tribute to a remarkable woman whose historic contributions to San Antonio have not been much touted as she deserved. Seamlessly intertwining fact and fiction, dual timelines, details of the brewery business, and the intricacies of the lives of two women, Ms. Di Maio has created a novel that engages the emotions and captivates the intellect at the same time.

In this book, close-to-dying Emma Koehler narrates her life story to young Mabel Hartley, spanning from her and her husband’s beginnings in St. Louis through their move to Texas and until the end of the Prohibition. All the while, the titular Emma provides a new home for the lonely young woman, matchmakes her with Erik, a nephew, and inspires her in her future. As Mabel said in the book, “Mrs. Koehler’s story was interesting, yes. But more than that, it offered hope to girls who were beginning to see a world where opportunities were available to them that were never there before.”

Having lived in San Antonio, I delighted in being transported to its past. I’ve only seen Pearl as it is now, a tourist destination filled with chic shops and fancy restaurants. This book took me on a fascinating “tour” of how it was seventy years ago through detailed descriptions of the brewery, cars, and the war. I can only say the “trip” was awesome.

So many themes in this book resonated with me–female strength, found family, hope, and love. I highlighted several passages that spoke to me.

“… there is much in life that is out of our control. The answer is not to give up and crumble. The answer is to find a way around it, no matter the difficulty. No matter how impossible the obstacles.”

I related so much to this because I met cousins in San Antonio I didn’t know I have. “… what I can give them is the gift of each other. It’s not easy to come from a different country and make a life here. But if they have each other to lean on, they will have a far better foundation than most.”

Well-crafted and evocative, The First Emma is a novel I highly recommend for readers of historical fiction and historical romance, and maybe even those who like true crime.

Content advisory: On-page deaths, gun violence, alcoholism, war.

4 Four-half-stars

 

AboutTheAuthor

Camille Di MaioCamille Di Maio always dreamed of being a writer, though she took a winding path of waitressing, temping, politicking, and real estate to get there. It all came to fruition with the publication of her bestselling debut, The Memory of Us, followed by Before the Rain FallsThe Way of Beauty, and The Beautiful Strangers. In addition to writing, she loves farmers’ markets, unashamedly belts out Broadway tunes when the mood strikes, and regularly faces her fear of flying to indulge her passion for travel. Married for twenty-three years, she home-schools their four children. (Though the first two are off at college now!) She is happy to live in Virginia near a beach.

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ONE WINNER receives a signed copy of The First Emma 

May 19-29, 2020
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5/19/20 Promo Texas Book Lover
5/19/20 BONUS Post Hall Ways Blog
5/20/20 Review Missus Gonzo
5/21/20 Author Video Max Knight
5/22/20 Review Librariel Book Adventures
5/23/20 Excerpt Part 1 All the Ups and Downs
5/24/20 Excerpt Part 2 Story Schmoozing Book Reviews
5/25/20 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
5/26/20 Excerpt Part 3 The Page Unbound
5/27/20 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
5/28/20 Review Momma on the Rocks

 

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ONCE A RAKE, ALWAYS A ROGUE by Catherine Stein – Release Day Review & Giveaway

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Happy Release Day to Catherine Stein’s Once a Rake, Always a Rogue, the third book from her Potions and Passions series.

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Once a Rake cover

He’s mended his ways.

Dr. Ernest Montford has left behind his rakish youth for a respectable life mixing medicinal potions and helping patients. So when his best friend’s sister is threatened with incarceration in an asylum, he rushes to help. But Lady Astrid Wembley isn’t keen to heed Monte’s medical advice. Worse, she’s part of his wild past: the mysterious girl he could never forget.

But the woman he can’t forget…

Astrid has fond memories of her long-ago passionate encounter on the beach. Unfortunately, the Monte who kissed her so thoroughly that day shows little resemblance to the stuffy, abstemious doctor with absurd health advice. Still, she has little choice but to put up with him until her sanity is proven and she can return to her life of scientific study.

Might be his undoing.

Dangerous potions and unethical experiments await Astrid if she fails, and only with Monte’s help can she expose the true horrors of the asylum and thwart the plans of the men controlling it. But the longer Astrid and Monte are together, the more their old passion sparks, and the more she longs to unleash the rogue that still lurks inside him.

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A long silence passed between them before Lady Astrid sighed.

“Very well. I shall practice my social niceties. Lovely to see you, Dr. Montford. How are you this morning?”

Hungover and lustful.

“Very well, thank you.”

“What are those peculiar little cakes on your plate?”

Monte glanced down at the small round cakes. The cook had done a masterful job, making them perfect circles of a lovely dark-brown color. “Bran loaves. I eat them every morning. Your cook was kind enough to make a batch for me.”

“How curious. May I try one?”

“Certainly.” He sliced off a small bite and transferred it to her plate. “You would do well to eat them, yourself. They are most healthful.”

She chewed her bite slowly, and her nose wrinkled in distaste. “Ugh. It’s like eating paper.”

“The rich foods you’ve eaten of late have no doubt overstimulated your palate. I assure you, if you were to eat them every morning as I do, you would find them appetizing.”

“I doubt that.”

Monte sipped his tea. It was as strong as he’d hoped. “The bran loaves stimulate healthful digestion and do not overset the stomach. This allows both the body and mind to begin the day in a restive state. Unlike your cheese, which may well cause dyspepsia when ingested so early in the morning.”

Astrid’s brow furrowed, but her tone remained even, “I’m very fond of cheese.”

“I never eat cheese,” Monte explained. “Nor do I adulterate my tea with milk. It adds an unnecessary richness and dilutes the beneficial properties of the beverage.”

“How unpatriotic of you.”

Was she mocking him again?

“What do you eat, Dr. Montford? Other than your revolting little cakes, I mean.”

“Vegetables.”

She gave him a skeptical arch of her brow once more. “Vegetables.”

“Yes.”

There was a distinct lack of vegetables at the breakfast table this morning. Dinner had provided only a few withered specimens with most of the nutrition boiled out of them.

“Nothing else? You did eat some of the chicken last night, though you avoided the sauce.”

“Moderate portions of meat. Nuts and beans. But primarily vegetables.”

“No fruits?”

“Rarely.”

“That’s a pity. I love fruit. There’s nothing quite like biting into a perfectly ripe apple, don’t you think? It floods one’s mouth with that crisp, juicy taste. So sweet, with just the right tart bite.”

Monte swallowed a groan. Now he was fixated on her mouth again. He gulped his tea to prevent himself saying anything he would later regret.

Astrid hopped from her seat, forcing him to set down the cup and rise.

“It was interesting chatting with you in a civil manner, Dr. Montford,” she said. “I must go and prepare for our journey. Enjoy your tasteless breakfast.”

He nodded and watched her leave before resuming his seat and pouring himself another cup of tea. He wished it were a good, strong whisky.

“Cal, you bastard,” he muttered. “You haven’t just asked for a favor. You’ve asked me to do the impossible.”

 

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Catherine Stein

Award-winning author Catherine Stein believes that everyone deserves love and that Happily Ever After has the power to help, to heal, and to comfort. She writes sassy, sexy romance set during the Victorian and Edwardian eras and full of action, adventure, magic, and fantastic technologies.

Catherine lives in Michigan with her husband and three rambunctious girls. She loves steampunk and oxford commas, and can often be found dressed in clothing that was purchased at a Renaissance Festival, drinking copious amounts of tea.

Follow Catherine here: 

Facebook page        Facebook group        Twitter        Instagram        Pinterest               Bookbub        Goodreads        Amazon        Book + Main        Newsletter

 

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Catherine Stein’s books are auto-buys for me because they never fail to entertain and educate at the same time.  Her latest release Once a Rake, Always a Rogue brings an enhanced element of humor that, in addition to fascinating characters, fast-paced action, and expected competence porn, made reading it a delightful diversion. These days, when there’s still no antidote to the global medical crisis we’re facing, a potion comprised of those elements of great writing could be just what we need to get us through days and weeks of social distancing.

From their titillating first encounter, Astrid and Monte captivated my attention. Their witty and snappy banter incited hilarity which made me thankful I read it at home. Their expertise in their respective fields provided interesting information I didn’t expect to learn from a romance novel.  Both have likable, engaging personalities that make it easy to root for their happy ever after.

All that lightness doesn’t mean there is no depth to this book. On the contrary. Once a Rake, Always a Rogue touched on issues of female empowerment,  body positivity, interracial relationships, and patriarchy in a manner that is natural and integral to the story and not at all forced or preachy.

Funny, steamy, instructive, utterly enjoyable. Another five-star read.

5 stars

 

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VISIONS OF LADY MARY by Rachel Ann Smith – Release Day Review

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VISIONS OF LADY MARY

by

Rachel Ann Smith

 

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01_volm_cover_11202019_halfsize_ebookIt’s hard to connect with the living when you’re able to communicate with the dead. 

Lady Mary Masterson had no objection to being betrothed to Gilbert Talbot until he ridiculed her. Now, years later, it appears her chance for an adventure on the Continent will be thwarted by the very man when he turns up, vowing to keep her safe. Insufferable!

If only it weren’t so difficult to ignore her fluttering heart—and the voices constantly touting the advantages of marrying the man who long ago called her a witch.

Battlefield promises are easy to make and hard to keep.

They were at war when Gilbert Talbot, the Earl of Waterford, promised to care for the strange but fascinating sister of his dying best friend. But his is a perilous life, and to ensure her safety, Gilbert has avoided Lady Mary, a woman whose mere presence makes every cell in his body come alive.

Now fate has brought them together in more danger than Gilbert ever imagined. He could well lose the woman he loves to the enemy—or to the arms of another man.

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Intrigue-filled and adventuresome with a touch of paranormal, this road-trip historical romance is an engaging read.

Mary and Gilbert have separate reasons for avoiding the other despite the fact that people in their lives–both dead and living–keep saying they’re meant for each other. Mary resented having been called a witch when she was but a teenager by someone she fancied herself in love with. Gilbert has far too many responsibilities to be distracted by the odd woman he promised to protect. When they were thrown together through the machinations of her aunt and his superiors, they finally fulfill their intertwined fate.

But first, they have to endure danger, suspicion, the temporary loss of Mary’s ghostly support system,  rivalries, and their lack of trust for one another. All Mary wants is for Gilbert to believe her, believe that she can contribute to his work for the Home Office. Gilbert, while desiring Mary with all his being, wants to feel that he has control over his destiny and not get roped into an arranged marriage like his parents’ unhappy one.

Exciting and action-packed, Visions of Lady Mary is a fast-paced romp of a romantic novel. Sometimes too fast and too much action that I barely felt a sense of place. France is one of my favorite places to have had the opportunity to visit and I want to revisit again and again it even if only in books.

You may be able to read this fourth book in the series as a stand-alone but I recommend reading the previous three to get better acquainted with the characters, many of whom are mentioned here.

4 out of 5 stars

 

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Rachel Smith

Rachel Ann Smith writes steamy historical romances with a twist. Her debut series, Agents of the Home Office, features female protagonists that defy convention.

When Rachel isn’t writing, she loves to read and spend time with her family. She is frequently found with her Kindle by the pool during the summer, the soccer field in the spring and fall, or curled up on the couch during the winter months.

She currently lives in Colorado with her extremely understanding husband and their two very supportive children.

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HIS SECRET MISTRESS by Cathy Maxwell – New Release

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HIS SECRET MISTRESS

by

Cathy Maxwell

Star-crossed lovers are brought back together again by chance–and an enduring passion–in this brand-new series from New York Times bestselling author Cathy Maxwell.

One of Romance’s most beloved authors launches new “A Logical Man’s Guide to Dangerous Women” series … and early critical reviews are stellar!

“The first installment in Maxwell’s A Logical Man’s Guide to Dangerous Women series is deliciously sweet” ~ Kirkus Reviews

“The couple’s verbal sparring and well-matched wits hide their deep emotional vulnerability and make for electric chemistry. Readers will find it easy to root for their happy reunion.” ~ Publishers Weekly

 

SYNOPSIS

His Secret Mattress

This March brings HIS SECRET MISTRESS by Cathy Maxwell, the first in a planned trilogy.  At the Logical Men’s Society—an exclusive bachelor’s club—brandy flows like water, bawdy stories abound, and a gentleman tempted to marry is always persuaded to reconsider.

Brandon Balfour made the mistake of trusting his heart to the exquisite, strong-willed actress, Kate Addison, with whom he shared one intimate night before fate intervened. Now a decade later, Brandon is a leading member of the Logical Men’s Society—for no woman since Kate has managed to captivate him.  To Kate, the memory of that night still burns strongly, because it was followed by a stunning betrayal. A chance encounter may have brought Brandon back into her life, but that doesn’t mean Kate will ever forgive him. She’s vowed to make him pay—even as she realizes the promises of the young love they once shared are still etched upon her heart  … Loving her exiled him. Trusting him ruined her. And now, a clash of passions threatens everything each of them ever desired.

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ABOUT CATHY

Cathy MaxwellCathy Maxwell’s enthusiasm for life graces the pages of her books and are the topic of the talks she gives to readers and writers groups about her chosen career.  She is no stranger to the limelight.  After graduating from college, Cathy started off as a news broadcaster.  She later decided reporting was boring compared to making news and joined the navy.   After a successful stint in Naval intelligence, including a tour with the Pentagon, Cathy proceeded to pursue writing.  Now, she has over thirty-five published romance novels (and five anthologies) to her credit, many of them spending significant time on the New York Times and USA Today best-seller lists.  You can find her online at http://www.cathymaxwell.com, Facebook/maxwellcathy, and @maxwellcathy on Twitter.

 

THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE’S SECRET by Linda Broday – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

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THE MAIL ORDER
BRIDE’S SECRET
Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride,
Book Three

by

LINDA BRODAY

Genre: Historical Western Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Number of Pages: 352 pages

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Synopsis

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When the West was wild and man’s law favored the few, these extraordinary women could be found…in the heart of an outlaw.

When three young children show up on outlaw Tait Trinity’s doorstep, he knows he can’t help them―a wanted man has no business raising kids. And yet he can’t bring himself to turn them away. At a loss, he sends for the mail order bride he’d been writing to, hoping the demure dressmaker will be the answer to his prayers.

Melanie Dunbar is nothing like the bride Tait was expecting. She’s rough and tumble … and hiding an ulterior motive. Dangerous men have taken her sister hostage, and if Melanie wants to see her alive, she’ll have to betray her new husband. There’s only one problem―the more time she spends with Tait, the more she comes to care for him. Yet as the noose begins to tighten, Melanie will have to make a terrible choice: save her sister … or the man she loves.

 

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MOBS bookstagramHeart-pounding action from the deadly beginning to the daring rescue in the end. With her justice-seeking outlaw hero Tait and brave mail-order bride heroine Melanie, Ms. Broday once again gave readers an exhilarating tale of romance, family (both blood and found), and community amidst the lawless landscape of the Old West.

“I want someone to share my life with–the sunshine, the storms, and the days when everything seems just about perfect.”

What began as an unwilling deception on Mellie’s part and helpless desperation on Tait’s developed into heated desire and a love so strong they’re both willing to lay down their lives for the other. I really liked the slow build-up of the relationship between these two main characters. There was an instant attraction but they didn’t act on it until they were already wed. I appreciate the choice to have Mellie confess her deception mid-way into the story. Had her false act gone on too long without Tait knowing would have disappointed me and made me enjoy the story less. Even more so if he found out before she told him. That speaks so well about Ms. Broday’s expertise in crafting an engaging tale.

“I’ve found out that love is like the flow of a river–constant, something that fills up all the aching, empty places.”

I think this book is well-balanced in that the heavy elements are lightened by funny bits especially from the antics of the twins Joe and Jesse and their adorable sister Becky. What a scene-stealer! I also liked seeing characters from previous books featured to move Tait and Mellie’s story along without overpowering them. I suspect (and hope) that a couple of the secondary characters will have their full-length stories made and I am looking forward to reading them.

While I enjoyed the majority of the book, there were a few things that had me knocking down some points in my overall rating. I had to suspend disbelief with the speed of the telegram system they have in place, the convenient coincidences, and the ease in which the rescue was accomplished. Also, the villains needed more dimension in their characterization.

Content advisory: There’s plenty of gun violence in this book. This is a historical western novel and new readers should be aware of the numerous on-page shooting and taking of life scenes.

4 out of 5 stars

 

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PRAISE FOR THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE’S SECRET:

“This is another page-turning period romance from Broday.” Publisher’s Weekly

“Broday does a fabulous job of telling a story filled with humor, angst and some candid truths just so we don’t romanticize this period in our history.” Fresh Fiction

“This book was absolutely mesmerizing with nonstop action, full of laughter, tears and just a downright good Old fashioned Wild West story as only Linda Broday can do.” Glenda (Goodreads reviewer)

 

AboutTheAuthor

tomob linda brodayI’m a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over twenty historical western romance novels and short stories. I reside in the Texas Panhandle on land the American Indian and Comancheros once roamed, and at times if the breeze is just right, I can hear their voices whispering in the wind. Texas’ rich history is one reason I set all my stories here where cowboys are still caretakers of the land. I’m inspired every day by their immense dedication and love for the wide-open spaces.

When I’m not writing, I collect old coins and I’ve also been accused (quite unfairly I might add) of making a nuisance of myself at museums, libraries, and historical places. I’m also a movie buff and love sitting in a dark theater, watching the magic unfold on the screen. As long as I’m confessing…chocolate is my best friend. It just soothes my soul.

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1st: $25 Amazon Gift Card; 2nd: Autographed Set of All 3 Books in the Series; 3rd: Autographed Copy of The Mail Order Bride’s Secret.

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VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

1/28/20 	Notable Quotable 	All the Ups and Downs 
1/28/20		BONUS Post 		Hall Ways Blog 
1/29/20		Excerpt			That's What She's Reading
1/30/20		Review 			Carpe Diem Chronicles
1/31/20 	Review 			Chapter Break Book Blog
2/1/20 		Character Interview 	It's Not All Gravy
2/2/20	 	Top Ten List		Storeybook Reviews
2/3/20 		Review	 		Books & Broomsticks
2/4/20 		Series Spotlight	Jennifer Silverwood
2/5/20 		Review		 	Missus Gonzo
2/6/20 		Review	 		Reading by Moonlight

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A DISTANCE TOO GRAND by Regina Scott – Book Blog Tour: Author Interview and Giveaway

A Distance Too Grand

A DISTANCE TOO GRAND

(American Wonders Collection, Book One)

by

REGINA SCOTT

Genre: Historical Fiction / Christian Romance
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: October 1, 2019
Number of Pages: 384

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Synopsis

A Distance Too Grand cover

Meg Pero has been assisting her photographer father since she was big enough to carry his equipment, so when he dies she is determined to take over his profession–starting with fulfilling the contract he signed to serve on an Army survey of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in 1871. What she doesn’t realize is that the leader of the expedition is none other than the man she once refused to marry.

Captain Ben Coleridge would like nothing more than to leave without the woman who broke his heart. He can’t afford to be distracted during this survey, which is a screen for another, more personal mission, one he cannot share with any member of his team.

As dangers arise from all sides–and even from within–Meg and Ben must work together to stay alive, fulfill their duties, and, just maybe, rekindle a love that neither had completely left behind.

PRAISE FOR A DISTANCE TOO GRAND:

“Five stars is not a rating I usually bestow. But Regina Scott’s A Distance Too Grand merits it. Lively, realistic, engaging characters. A compelling and intriguing plot with life and death consequences kept me turning pages. I hated to put the book down.”–Lyn Cote, Carol Award-winning author

“Adventure, danger, and romance in a wonderful, fresh setting: the Grand Canyon of 1871. Readers will find much to love.” —Julie Klassen, bestselling author

“Regina has done an excellent job of bringing the setting and characters to life. I could see and feel the canyon and picture the characters going about their tasks. A balance of mystery, romance, and adventure with enough factual information that I almost felt I could take over for the heroine. I highly recommend this book.” — Linda Ford, award-winning, fan-favorite author of the Glory, Montana series

 

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Interview with Regina Scott

How do you write?
I’m probably one of a few authors today who still writes longhand. To me, a pen moving across the page is creative, while typing is analytical. So, I write the first draft with a smooth-flowing ink pen in shorthand in a journal, then transcribe it into the computer, editing as I go. I’ve tried composing directly on the computer, but it’s too easy to stop and edit. It’s faster to get the story out first.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Revisiting my memories of the Grand Canyon and learning about photography in the mid-1800s. How challenging to compose a shot of such grandeur using only black-and-white ink on glass!

What are some day jobs that you have held? Have any of them impacted your writing?
Growing up, I was convinced I didn’t want to go through that period of “artist starving in the attic” so many writers experience. So, I always wanted a backup plan. Along the way, I’ve been a preschool teacher, before-and-after-school care director, camp counselor, technical writer, and scientist. Each of those positions gave me insight into people and situations that feed my writing.

What do you like to read in your free time?
Historical mysteries, particularly ones with a romance included. I wish Elizabeth Peters had written dozens more of her Amelia Peabody series!

What projects are you working on at the present?
I’m just finishing the second book in my American Wonders collection, set in Yellowstone National Park in 1886 when the Army came to the park’s rescue. 

 

AboutTheAuthor

Regina ScottRegina Scott is the author of more than 40 works of warm, witty historical romance. Her writing has won praise from Booklist and Library Journal, and she was twice awarded the prestigious RT Books Reviews best book of the year in her category. A devotee of history, she has learned to fence, driven four-in-hand, and sailed on a tall ship, all in the name of research. She and her husband of 30 years live south of Tacoma, Washington, on the way to Mt. Rainier.

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FIRST PRIZE: Copy of A Distance Too Grand + 2020 National Parks Calendar;
SECOND PRIZE: Copy of A Distance Too Grand + Grand Canyon Candle;
THIRD PRIZE: Copy of A Distance Too Grand + Parks Pencil Set
October 8-October 18, 2019
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VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

10/8/19 	Notable Quotable 	Nerd Narration 
10/8/19 	BONUS Post 		Hall Ways Blog 
10/9/19 	Author Interview 	Carpe Diem Chronicles 
10/10/19 	Review 			That's What She's Reading 
10/11/19 	Excerpt 		Story Schmoozing Book Reviews 
10/12/19 	Review 			StoreyBook Reviews 
10/13/19 	Excerpt 		All the Ups and Downs 
10/14/19 	Review 			The Clueless Gent 
10/15/19 	Scrapbook Page 		Chapter Break Book Blog 
10/16/19 	Review 			Missus Gonzo 
10/17/19 	Review 			Reading by Moonlight 

 

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EDEN’S VOICE by Catherine Stein – Release Day Review

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Happy Release Day to Catherine Stein’s Eden Voice, the first book of a new series she’s calling Sass and Steam.

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Football, mechanical dragons, industrial espionage, sexy romance. Welcome to fall in Ann Arbor.

Eden Randall has her life under control. Sure, people call her weird for having a mechanical dragon with her at all times, but she’s content. All she needs are her studies and her sports—and for the football team to have another undefeated season. What she doesn’t need are nosy men from out-of-town poking into her business.

Spending months in a tiny town shadowing the football team is the last thing Boston reporter Bruce Caldwell wants to do, but the tedious job could be his ticket to something bigger and better. When he meets a sports-mad spitfire on the sidelines, he realizes the town may hold stories far more interesting than he expected.

With dragons running loose in the laboratory and a ruthless New York industrialist threatening their budding friendship, Eden and Bruce find themselves players in a game far more dangerous than the one on the gridiron. Never ones to quit, they know the only way to emerge as The Victors is to become a team. This football season, winning might mean losing their hearts.

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ABOUT CATHERINE

Catherine Stein

Award-winning author Catherine Stein believes that everyone deserves love and that Happily Ever After has the power to help, to heal, and to comfort. She writes sassy, sexy romance set during the Victorian and Edwardian eras and full of action, adventure, magic, and fantastic technologies.

Catherine lives in Michigan with her husband and three rambunctious girls. She loves steampunk and oxford commas, and can often be found dressed in clothing that was purchased at a Renaissance Festival, drinking copious amounts of tea.

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REVIEW

In a genre often accused of being formulaic, Catherine Stein and her latest work of genius Eden’s Voice stand out as refreshingly original.

First, there’s the setting: 1904 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Most historical romance novels I read are set in England during the Regency. If they’re American-based, they’re typically in New York during the Gilded Age or in wartime Texas. I’m astounded by the depth of research Catherine must have undertaken to make the time period come alive as she did in this book.

Next, there’s the football theme. The historical sports romance category has only one entry and this is it. The author’s love for the game shines bright. Competence porn at its best.

Oh wait, there’s another unique sub-category for this book–historical STEM romance. All the biomechanics were explained in an engaging manner, I felt smart after reading those passages.

And then we have the characters. How I love Eden and Bruce. They come across as real, compelling, and sympathetic people to me and that’s not just because they both have disabilities. It’s because their thoughts, feelings, decisions, and actions appear true to who they are.

Catherine Stein has become my favorite steampunk romance author from the moment I read How to Seduce a Spy. Eden’s Voice only cemented that status in my mind with its fantastic story, smooth flow, wonderful characters (even including the villains), steamy sexy times, and amazing originality.

5 stars

THE READER AND THE ROAD by Brianna Nicols – New Release

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I’m so happy for my friend Brianna Nicols on the recent release of her latest novel The Reader and the Road, Book 2 of her Found Family series. As a reader myself, I think I’m going to be able to relate to Libby so much and enjoy the forced proximity of a road trip trope.

 

BLURB

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As a voracious reader, Libby couldn’t be happier working in the Duchess of Winston’s workshop. She’s surrounded by books, one of her best friends, and Adam, the man she’s secretly loved from afar for years.

Their livelihoods are threatened, however, when a difficult customer demands a book so popular, there are no copies available in England. To save the bookshop’s reputation, Libby must set out for Scotland in the dead of winter with an impossible task: retrieve the book by New Year’s or else.

Due to a childhood filled with disease and poverty, Adam despises everything to do with winter. All thoughts of avoiding the season end, however, when he hears of Libby’s impossible mission. Without a second thought, Adam agrees to travel with her, though it will test his resolve to keep his secret—and his feelings for Libby—hidden.

As they deal with blizzards, delays, and other mishaps, the bond between Libby and Adam only grows stronger. Their weeks-long journey will reveal long-held secrets and buried passions. No amount of love will matter, however, unless they make their deadline.

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eBook: https://books2read.com/u/3JV6jB

paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1692359797/ 

 

REVIEW

Perfectly titled, The Reader and the Road is a sweet, slow-burn romance between bookseller Libby and her co-worker Adam who accompanied her to Scotland to retrieve a rare book wanted by a demanding client. I love that both of them had been yearning for the other and were finally able to express their feelings once in the close confines of a carriage during their two weeks road trip.

This book is light and entertaining and I really like that it features working people instead of members of the nobility. I’d have loved it if Ms. Nichols expounded more on the holiday traditions during the time in addition to the exchange of gifts. That would have given the story a richer sense of time and place.

 

ABOUT BRIANNA

Brianna Nicols

Brianna Nicols has always been a reader. Books about magic, history, or anything revolving around romance are her favorites. The idea of writing her own stories didn’t occur to her until 2017 when some awesome ladies online said: “Why not give it a try?”

Since then, she’s been experimenting with all sorts of ideas. Though a very organized person by nature, when putting words on the page, Brianna has found that she has to write the story as it comes to her. Unfortunately, she gets bored when trying to outline more than a handful of details. So far, Brianna has written in two genres; historical and contemporary romance. Anything paranormal is a love of hers, though, so something of that nature isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Rest assured, however, that when you pick up a Brianna Nicols novel, romance will always be a prominent, if not an integral, part of the story no matter the genre.

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HOW TO LOVE A DUKE IN TEN DAYS by Kerrigan Byrne – Release Day Review & Giveaway

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HOW TO LOVE A DUKE IN TEN DAYS 

by 

Kerrigan Byrne

 

SYNOPSIS

How to Love a Duke in Ten days_MM

These men are dark, bold, and brave. And there is only one woman who can bring them to their knees…

Famed and brilliant, Lady Alexandra Lane has always known how to look out for herself. But nobody would ever expect that she has darkness in her past—one that she pays a blackmailer to keep buried. Now, with her family nearing bankruptcy, Alexandra strikes upon a solution: Get married to one of the empire’s most wealthy eligible bachelors. Even if he does have the reputation of a devil.

LOVE TAKES NO PRISONERS
Piers Gedrick Atherton, the Duke of Redmayne, is seeking revenge and the first step is securing a bride. Winning a lady’s hand is not so easy, however, for a man known as the Terror of Torcliff. Then, Alexandra enters his life like a bolt of lightning. When she proposes marriage, Piers knows that, like him, trouble haunts her footsteps. But her gentleness, sharp wit, independent nature, and incredible beauty awakens every fierce desire within him. He will do whatever it takes to keep her safe in his arms.

Buy-book link:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250243270

 

ABOUT KERRIGAN

Kerrigan Byrne

 

Whether she’s writing about Celtic Druids, Victorian bad boys, or brash Irish FBI Agents, USA Today bestseller Kerrigan Byrne uses her borderline-obsessive passion for history, her extensive Celtic ancestry, and her love of Shakespeare in every book. With her handsome husband and three lovely teenage girls, Kerrigan has fulfilled her dream of settling on the Pacific Coast. Her Victorian Rebels novels include The Highwayman and The Highlander.

 

 

 

 

REVIEW

I am such a huge fan of the Victorian Rebels series that when a new Kerrigan Byrne series-starter was announced for the anticipated August release instead of Inspector Morley’s story, I was slightly disappointed. That feeling didn’t last long because this new Devil You Know series promises the same intensity and vivid imagery that made me love Kerrigan’s books from the first moment I started reading them in 2015.

How to Love a Duke in Ten Days introduces five (?) of the compelling characters in this new series: Alexandra and Piers, Cecelia and Case, and Francesca. (I have a suspicion about who Francesca’s partner will be. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read the book yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s someone from her past.) A close friendship, hair color, and shared secrets bind the three female leads while familial ties connect two of their love interests. Kerrigan drew each character so distinctively, I can picture them in my head clearly.

She did the same with the book’s many locations and action sequences, so much so that it has the feel of a gothic screenplay. There’s plenty of violence — from the shocking Prologue to the dramatic denouement. There are also tender moments in between wherein Piers and Alexandra learn one another on their way to falling in love. Instant chemistry, mutual interest in exploration, and emotional connection make these two work as a couple. After suspicions, misunderstandings, secrets, and threats to their lives, their happy-ever-after is well-deserved.

Both are heavily scarred. Piers physically, from a skirmish with a jaguar, and emotionally, from a negligent mother and an unfaithful lover that colored his opinion of women. Alexandra’s sexual assault when she was a teenager and the tragic events afterwards forever changed her personality. Fear, shame, and guilt warred within her despite accomplishing so much from her archaeological pursuits. Their coming together is a miracle only a romance novel and a talented author who wrote it can achieve.

The use of male names for the female characters, an abundance of villains, and the over-elaborate language are some of the elements I didn’t fully appreciate, but aside from these, I really liked this book and I’m extremely excited for All Scot and Bothered –Cecelia and Ramsay’s story.

4 out of 5 stars

 

GIVEAWAY

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press, I’m giving away a paperback copy of Kerrigan Byrne’s How to Love a Duke in Ten Days to one of my US readers. All you have to do for a chance to win is comment below. I will draw a random winner at 12 noon on Tuesday, September 3. Watch out for the announcement here and on my Facebook author page Maida Malby.

DESIRES OF LADY ELISE by Rachel Ann Smith – Release Day/Review

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DESIRES OF LADY ELISE 

by

Rachel Ann Smith

 

SYNOPSIS

Desires of Lady Elise book cover

One scandal. Two broken hearts. A decade apart.

Lady Elise knows all too well the risks of falling in love. Her heart was broken by a rake. Instead of hunting for a husband, she helps other ladies escape the nefarious plans of unscrupulous gentlemen.

After a scandal costs Lord Thornston Elise’s hand and heart, he has lived on the fringes of the beau monde. But when his best friend, the Duke of Fairmont, requests his assistance, Thornston is torn. Helping Fairmont means facing the woman who holds his heart and soul.

Succumbing to temptation, Thornston re-enters Society to find Elise still unwed. But as he seeks to reignite her desire for him and earn back her trust, he becomes entwined in one of her investigations. When events take a dangerous turn, he might lose the woman he loves before he can win her back.

Buy it here: Amazon

 

ABOUT RACHEL ANN

Rachel Smith

Rachel Ann Smith writes steamy historical romances with a twist. Her debut series, Agents of the Home Office, features female protagonists that defy convention.

When Rachel isn’t writing, she loves to read and spend time with her family. She is frequently found with her Kindle by the pool during the summer, the soccer field in the spring and fall, or curled up on the couch during the winter months.

She currently lives in Colorado with her extremely understanding husband and their two very supportive children.

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REVIEW

Fast-paced and action-packed, Desires of Lady Elise is a delightful introduction to a new voice in Regency Romance. Rachel Ann’s debut novella is a quick, fun read that tells a complete second-chance story between Lady Elise and Harold, Lord Thornston. At the same time, it also has me intrigued by the upcoming series. If Lady Elise is the example of the brave, smart, and bold heroines of the Agents of the Home Office series, count on me to one-click every book. Especially if the heroes are as devoted and as besotted as Lord Thornston.

Rachel Ann’s writing is clean and fluid. Desires of Lady Elise shows a lot of potential in the kind of books she will be producing. For future books, I’d like to see more diversity in the main characters. Perhaps less protagonists from the nobility and more from the working class. Some international characters would also be welcome in order to differentiate her books from those by most authors in the historical romance sub-genre.

4 out of 5 stars