Tomatoes and Memories

Photo by Doug DeMoss

(Story about my Mom and gardening begins in the second paragraph.) Believe it or not, this week wasn’t all about books! The tomatoes in my garden are coming in fast and heavy, and I did a lot of canning this week. I haven’t posted about canning much, but I do enjoy water bath and pressure canning when I get a chance. This week I had to take time off work to keep up with these tomatoes, and on two different days I put up about 20 quarts, 5 pints of tomatoes, and five half-pints of green tomato jam (lemony and delicious, I promise). I still have more tomatoes to can, so I’m thinking about spicy ketchup or tomato chutney of some kind. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

I have been canning off and on for years, but there is a story behind these tomatoes that make them mean so much to me. My mom was an avid and gifted gardener. She grew up in the mountains of North Carolina in the 1930s/40s with eleven brothers and sisters, and a Dad who was a farmer and logger. She helped out in the house, and and she also helped her Mom can the garden bounty in a washtub out in the yard over an open fire, as they did not yet have electricity. Mom moved to Cincinnati when she married my Dad and we lived in a poorer suburb, but she always had a magnificent garden. My whole life growing up we had garden vegetables in the summer and home-canned vegetables in the winter. I never thought much about it, but we were eating well, despite being a family of 10 in a three-bedroom house..

When my Dad retired, he and my Mom moved back to those North Carolina mountains and she had a garden for the 20 years they were able to stay there. She always had home-canned green beans, tomatoes, and sauerkraut, as well as other vegetables and fruits, and she was happy to give them to her kids. Consequently I still was able to eat home-canned vegetables more than most. When health problems became too much for them, they moved back to Cincinnati so my sister could help them. My Mom immediately started a garden and kept it up, even when her health began to deteriorate. My Dad had dementia and heart problems, and passed in 2019.

When my Mom died suddenly in March 2020, she left behind tomato seedlings she had already started. My brother gathered them and split them up between the siblings. I planted my share of those seedlings, and they didn’t do very well at all. However, I got enough tomatoes to get seeds for this year. This year my husband and I planted the seeds, and the plants have thrived! We call them Granny Tomatoes, because my mom always went by Granny to her many kids, grandkids, and great grandkids. We put in about 20 Granny plants and about 10 Romas, and the bounty has been plentiful, with many more still on the vines. So these tomatoes to me are more than just a garden treat. They are a legacy, one of which I am very proud.

Photo by Doug DeMoss

All of the tomato photos were taken by my husband in our tomato garden, as was the one I put on the main page of this blog.

The first two photos are my Mom (Dorothy Jenkins Zinser) at 16. The original version is on the left and a colorized version is in the middle. On the right is my Mom at almost 88, making sauerkraut in October 2019. She went to Heaven five months later.

Self-Published Saturday: August 28, 2021/The Origin

It’s time again for Self-Published Saturday, the day each week when I highlight only Self-Published/Indie authors. As I always say, self-published authors have to do it all, from cover design to editing to marketing and more. My goal here is to just give authors a little bit of help with the marketing aspect. The book featured below is The Origin, the first in the A1 Mission Agency series. This is a Christian Children’s detective story written by new author Timothy Beavin.

BOOK REVIEW

This is a fun Christian detective story for the younger middle grades. When Toby and Scott learn that their cousin, Scooter, is coming to stay for the summer, they are apprehensive to say the least. Scooter is bad news and always in trouble. In fact, he’s just gotten out of juvenile detention. However, when Scooter arrives, they find he has changed in a big way. Together, the three of them soon face some local troubles of their own. A gang of bullies and thieves is after them, led by Vick Daugherty. The son of a pastor, Vick always seems to get away with his crimes. Working together, Toby, Scott, and Scooter try to find ways to end the bullying and bring Vick and his friends to justice, eventually forming the A-1 Mission Agency.

This is an entertaining Christian story for children ages 8 to 10 about trusting Jesus, standing up for your friends, and facing injustice. It is quite short at 46 pages, but it could be the perfect length for younger kids. This is the first of a planned seven books by new author Timothy Beavin. I found the Christian themes to be helpful and well described for younger readers. The way Scooter explains John 3:16 is true and easily understood, but also amusing. The book ends in a surprising way that will lead us to the next installment in the series. There is a little bit of “telling instead of showing” in places, and the book could use another edit, but overall this was an enjoyable read with a fantastic premise. Timothy Beavin has created an adventure-filled Children’s Christian Detective story that will delight young readers.

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

I would also like to welcome Timothy Beavin to the Indie/Self-Publishing world, and there is a Q&A with him below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Timothy Beavin

Timothy Beavin is a 22 year old Texan who is currently attending Bible College in California. He has been writing since he was 13 years old and has just self-published his first book in the A1 Mission Agency series: The Origin. Beavin combines events from his childhood with his Christian faith and information he has learned in Bible College to create a fun Christian detective series for kids.

LINK TO BUY

AMAZON *Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read the book for free.

MY AMAZON REVIEW (“HELPFUL” VOTES APPRECIATED)

Thanks again to author Timothy Beavin for answering these questions and providing more insight into his book.

First, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, where do you live, and what inspired you to write this series?

A: I am a twenty-two-year-old man who grew up in the state of Texas. I currently live in California, attending my sixth semester at Bible College. I have loved creative writing ever since I was thirteen years old, and now I desire to incorporate what I have learned from Bible College into my storytelling.

The Origin is your first book and appears to be the first in a series. What is the inspiration behind your creation of this story/series and these characters?

When I was younger, my friend Trent Taylor and I started a club called ‘The Alert Detective Agency’. I based this series on all the adventures I wish my friend and I could have gone on. The character ‘Toby O’Dell’ is basically a fourteen-year-old version of myself thrown into a crazy adventure. The character ‘Scott O’Dell’ (Toby’s brother) was initially based on my friend Trent Taylor (who I dedicate this book to). However, Scott turned out to be very prideful and self-righteous, which admittedly does not resemble my friend at all. I did this in order for him to have a character arc throughout the series.

– The character ‘Scooter Denham’ (Toby and Scott’s cousin) was merely based on a figment of my imagination. He is the one who kick-starts the boys’ journey. Without Scooter, Toby and Scott would never have gone on the adventure. Similar to how my friend Trent and I never went on any real adventures.

– The character Holly Banks was created as a romantic foil to the character Toby O’Dell. She is the only female lead, and I find her really interesting. I look forward to where she goes in the future.

– The character ‘Vick Daugherty’, was designed to be a reoccurring nemesis for our heroes. Plus, I thought it would be really interesting for him to be a spiritual foil to the character Scooter Denham.

As a new self-published author, what are the things that you’ve found the most surprising, easiest, and hardest about writing and self-publishing your first book?

Honestly, it was super easy beginning the project, but finishing it was the most troublesome part. Figuring out all the self-publishing details was really mentally stressful, but looking back, it wasn’t nearly as impossible as I had once believed.

Based on the way this book ended, I’m assuming a sequel is in the works. When do you expect to release it or are you working on something else?

There will be (God-willing) seven books in this series. I plan on releasing the second book by at least summer of 2022. However, only the Lord knows how quickly this series will be finished, but I expect it to be a very fun time while I am doing it.

As self-publishing is still a new adventure for you, have you found help and mentors along the way?

A: There was nobody I knew personally who self-published a book before, so I had to teach myself. But the Lord blessed me with a supportive family, as well as brothers and sisters in Christ who encouraged me through the process.

Two Reminders before you go:

  1. If you buy the book, please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books. This is very important to self-published authors.
  2. Please click on the “share” buttons below and share these books with your Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress followers. A little bit of help from all of us will help self-published authors go a long way!

A Self-Published Saturday reblog: Book Review from France

As part of Self-Published Saturday, this is a reblog of a review for a great Self-Published book, The Siege of An Loc by Nguyen Trong Hien. See the rest of the review on his site. I have also reviewed this book on my site.  Link below

My review of The Siege of An Loc

neihtn

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine who lives in Paris sent me an email about “The Siege of An Lộc”, my second novel published a year ago. I have translated his email below and also included his original in French.

oOo

I read your book “The Siege of An Loc”. I finished reading it a long time ago, but I was too perturbed by the events related to Covid to give you my impressions.

I loved both of your books [“Village Teacher” and “The Siege of An Loc“] and I think that one of these days someone will put the two on the silver screen since you provided sufficient historical details as well as details on military operations to transform both novels into love, historical, and action movies.

“The Siege of An Loc” is particularly captivating from beginning to end. From the start, I…

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Book Blast/Promo: The Rake of Hearts

*Not a book review

The Rake of Hearts by Emily Windsor

Publication Date: August 23, 2021
Senara Press Ltd

Series: A Lady to Suit, Book 2
Genre: Regency Romance

When the heart is afire…
By his own admission, Lord Ernest Brook is a rake. With sapphire gaze, sinfully handsome looks and a duke for a brother, the pleasures of London have come with ease…apart from one.
Ever since the gauntlet of her first wintry dismissal was thrown, the widowed Hebe Lock has stirred his deepest desires, but just what would it take to woo such a woman?

Sparks will fly.
Hebe Locke has vowed to never again fall for a scoundrel after her brief marriage to one left her broken and haunted.
Now she finds comfort with paintbrush and canvas, but as a female artist in a male world, commissions are as rare as a ballroom without rakes.

A castle of enchantment.
As the heat of late summer warms the land, an ancient, moated castle plays host to a widow and a rake, both concealing passions contrary to their reputations.
But as Lord Ernest awakens Hebe’s desire and thaws her frozen emotions, can she hold true to her vow?
Or can this rake win the one heart he yearns for?

Sensual Regency romance with warmth and wit, this tale also includes a disreputable aunt with a secondary love story, Cotswold country fairs, sinful masquerades and…a goat.

Amazon US | Amazon UK

A Lady to Suit Series

1 – The Duke of Diamonds – Out now!
2 – The Rake of Hearts – Out now!
3 – The Earl of Spades – Coming soon
4 – The Prince of Clubs – Coming soon

Praise

“Five gleaming stars for this amazing Regency romance.” -Bookbub Reviewer

If you love historical romance, you can’t do without this wonderful book.” -Goodreads Reviewer

“This is a beautiful historical romance where our author paints a picture just as well with her words as our heroine with her sketches.” -Bookbub Reviewer

“A little masterpiece.” -Bookbub Reviewer

About the Author

Emily Windsor grew up in the north of England on a diet of historical romance and strong tea.

Unfortunately, you couldn’t study Regency slang, so she did the next best thing and gained a degree in Classics and History instead. This ‘led’ to an eight-year stint in engineering.

Having left city life, she now lives in a dilapidated farmhouse where her days are spent writing, fixing the leaky roof, battling the endless vegetation and finding pictures of well-tied cravats.

Newsletter | Amazon | Facebook Author Page | BookBub | Goodreads | Facebook Group | Pinterest | Instagram

Book Blast Schedule

Friday, August 27
Novels Alive
Bonnie Reads and Writes
What Is That Book About
Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Saturday, August 28
Pursuing Stacie
Passages to the Past
Reading is My Remedy
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Sunday, August 29
Coffee and Ink
Saynab Reads Books
The Cozy Book Blog
CelticLady’s Reviews

Giveaway

Enter to win a $15 Amazon Gift Card & an eBook of The Rake of Hearts!

The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on August 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Rake of Hearts

Book Review: Along A Storied Trail

Tansy Calhoun loves her job as a Kentucky packhorse librarian during the Great Depression. At the same time, she longs for the kind of romance she finds in the books she reads. When a handsome writer comes to town, she dreams she may have found it at last. But is love actually closer than she thinks? Perdita Sweet has lived in the Kentucky mountains a long time and has become as hardened as the rocky soil.   As someone who has loved and lost, she thinks she can see the best choice for Tansy.  But will Tansy listen?

This is enjoyable Christian fiction about a pack horse librarian, one of the many during the Depression who brought books to those who were living in poor and hard-to-reach mountain areas. I appreciated the fact that Tansy not only brought books to people in need, but she also spent time reading to those who couldn’t read. The trials of living in isolated mountain communities are shown, but also evident is the closeness of the people in those communities. Through the life-hardened Perdita, we learn how God can open your heart by giving you the opportunity to help others. Along a Storied Trail is a heartwarming romance with strong Christian themes of reaching out to others in need and trusting God’s plan.  Fans of Christian historical romance will enjoy this captivating tale.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Revell, for Historical Novels Review, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ann H. Gabhart

Ann H. Gabhart caught the writing bug at the age of ten and has been writing ever since. An award winning author, she’s published many books for both adults and young adults. Her books cover several genres from historical to small town family stories to cozy mysteries (mysteries published with author name A.H. Gabhart). Her ideas are sparked by events in Kentucky history and by experiences in her own family. Her first Shaker novel, The Outsider, was a finalist for the ECPA Christian Fiction Book of the Year. Love Comes Home won the Selah Book of the Year award, and These Healing Hills was the Faith, Hope & Love Readers’ Choice Women’s Fiction Book of the Year. 

Ann lives on a Kentucky farm not far from where she was born. She and her husband have three children and nine grandchildren. Ann enjoys hiking on her farm with her grandkids and her dogs, Frankie and Marley. See more about her books at her website or join the conversation on her Facebook page.

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

Book Review: Beyond This Broken Sky

This is a dual-timeline novel set in London in 1940 and 2019. In 1940, rich and carefree Ruby has surprisingly volunteered for the ambulance service during the Nazi bombing of Britain, otherwise known as the Blitz. Her partner and driver is Joseph, a conscientious objector. Ruby owns a house in London and has rented out one of the top two floors to Joseph and the other to a married couple, Kitty and Reg. In 2019, Edi has purchased an apartment in London and is trying to start life anew. A neighbor, a book, and a hidden object lead her to pursue a mystery and learn about the actions of truly courageous women in a dangerous time.

I was spellbound by this novel, which transports us to a shell-shocked London being hit with a barrage of bombs night after night. We careen through the streets in an ambulance, saving who we can, and we do it over and over. This is the life of Ruby at that time. We also meet Joseph, who cannot take a life but wants to help his country in other ways. We learn of life-threatening prejudice against women, and we witness the very real September 1940 occupation of the Savoy Hotel, as the differences between the shelter accommodations of the rich and poor are made very obvious.  In 2019, the heartbroken but determined Edi, with the help of her neighbor, Pearl, unravels a mystery that has been hidden for decades.

This is a unique and eye-opening look at London during the Blitz that gives us deeper insight into the realities of life in that era. I highly recommend this book to fans of World War II fiction, women’s fiction, and mysteries.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Bookouture, for Historical Novels Review, the magazine of The Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Siobhan Curham

(In Her Own Words)

When I was a child my evil genius parents decided not to have a TV as they thought it was bad for a child’s imagination – I mean, as if?! And, as this was in the days before the internet and mobile phones, I had a choice – I could either learn to love books or I could die of boredom. So I learnt to love books and pretty soon my love of reading grew into a love of writing and I dreamt of one day having a shelf of books of my own.

At eighteen I set off for uni in pursuit of my dream, to study English Literature. But two years into my degree, I become plagued by the fear that I just didn’t have what it took to become a professional writer. I came from a much poorer background than most of my fellow students and I started to feel that people from council estates didn’t belong in the middle class world of publishing. So I dropped out of uni and ended up working in the complaints department for a frozen food company where all I wrote were grovelling apology letters to irate customers. (This is the tragic low point of my story).

After four years of working in jobs I hated I came to an important realisation: life can be a very dull and dark place when you don’t dare to dream. So I dusted off my literary dreams and instead of seeing writing as some kind of rarefied world solely for the silver-spooned, I decided to approach it as I would any other job, starting small and working my way up. I began my quest writing short stories for weekly women’s magazines (the kind of magazines that have headlines like: The Day My Womb Fell Out! and OMG My Fella is Sleeping With the Milkman!). Then I wrote some articles. Having short stories and articles published gave me the confidence to finally have a go at writing my first book.

That book was published in 2000.

Fast forward 20 years and I’ve now written over 30 books and I’ve won three book awards. Moral of the story … never give up on your dreams!

I love helping other people with their writing, in my work as an editor and writing coach.

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Apple Books

Barnes and Noble

Blog Tour and Book Review–The Girl In The Picture

*Book Review Near the Bottom of the Page

BOOK DESCRIPTION

As the newspaper clipping falls from the cardboard box Tegan takes in the woman in the picture: her chestnut hair, her eyes full of laughter, the way she nestles against the man beside her. And as she reads the words in the article, Tegan almost stops breathing. Was coming here a terrible mistake?

When Tegan’s family is torn apart by a terrible tragedy, she runs away in search of somewhere to keep safe from the past that haunts her, and the painful secrets she’s never told anyone. Arriving in Copper Canyon, Colorado, where wooden storefronts line the quiet streets and no-one knows her name, Tegan breathes easy for the first time in years. And when she grows close with Jack, another lost soul who won’t talk about his home, it seems she’s found the perfect companion to explore the mountain landscapes with.

But just as Tegan starts to think maybe safety isn’t a place, it’s a person, she notices the box of photos and newspaper clippings that Jack takes everywhere in the trunk of his car. Who is the woman in every frame? And why does she look so familiar…?

Tegan knows the only way to protect herself, and keep her dark family history locked away, is to discover more about the woman in Jack’s photos. But when she does, will the truth help her build a new life, or will it send her running once more?

An absolutely unforgettable and breathtaking novel about love, loss, and the secrets we’re all hiding. Perfect for fans of Kerry Fisher, Diane Chamberlain, and Kerry Lonsdale.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melissa Wiesner


Melissa Wiesner is a night-owl who began writing novels about five years ago when her early-to-bed family retired for the evening. In 2019, she won the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® Award in the Mainstream Fiction Category for her first novel. Melissa holds two Master’s Degrees in Public Health and Community Agency Counseling. Her day job is in Social Work where she often encounters people knocked down by hard times but who pick themselves up and keep going, just like the characters of her novels. Melissa lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her charming husband and two adorable children.

FIND MELISSA ON SOCIAL MEDIA

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BOOK REVIEW

If there is ever a book that is going to speak to me, it will be one about a road trip. I’ve been the queen of road trips many times in my past, so this book was like another trip into memories of my own as I read it. The best books remind you of scenes from your own life, and this one does that for me. The main theme of this book is home. Tegan is searching for a home for herself and her brother. Jack is desperately trying to get back to his family home as he flees horrific memories from his past. Thrown together unexpectedly, they are an unlikely pair. Tegan, abandoned as a child, grew up wanting to be a writer. Jack is a wealthy attorney who is somewhat over-protected by his family. On the road, they grow from annoyance to acceptance to friendship and more. They also find there are lessons they can learn from each other and adventures they can take together.

I loved the fact that we are immediately thrown into Tegan’s life in a dramatic way at the start of the book, and by the time she meets Jack, you will find your heart already racing. The meeting with Jack is a collision of coincidences that starts an unforgettable journey. The road itself becomes almost a character in the story, as some of the situations they encounter can only occur on a long-distance highway adventure. The differences in their lives and personalities help build strength, as Tegan encourages Jack to sway from his well-planned path, and Jack convinces Tegan to use a little more caution. The Girl In The Picture is an emotional and inspirational story of heartbreak, adventure, letting go, and the search for home. It was a beautiful read.

I received a free copy of this novel via the publisher, Bookouture. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Apple

Kobo

Google

MY AMAZON REVIEW (“HELPFUL” VOTES APPRECIATED)

Self-Published Saturday: August 21, 2021

It’s Saturday, and I’ll be reviewing only Self-Published/Indie books all day. Saturday is exclusively Self-Published/Indie. Self-Published Saturday is my effort to help Indie authors market their books. As I always say, Self-Published/Indie authors have to do it all, from editing to cover design to marketing. My hope is that this feature will give them a little help. Please remember that if you decide to review the book, leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and anywhere else you review the book. This is so important for Self-Published authors. Today I am featuring the wonderful Alice and Trudy mystery series by Valerie Fletcher Adolph, set in post World World II Yorkshire. I actually reviewed Books 2 and 3 for Historical Novels Review, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. I haven’t written a book review for Book 1 yet, but I’m including a book description. My reviews for books 2 and 3 are below. They can all be read as standalones.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Fleeing an abusive husband, Trudy finds herself helping to run a private hotel (The Avalon Hotel) for elderly guests. But only a couple of weeks after her arrival, Alastair Mackie, one of its owners, is poisoned. Suspicion falls on Trudy and on Alastair’s wife, Alice.

Together, Trudy and Alice struggle to find the identity of the killer, or even a reason for the murder. They are helped along the way by Ben, a man from the moors, and by dear Doctor Taylor himself, beloved by the elderly residents of the hotel.

Only slightly in the way are Colonel Starr, who has difficulty telling one war from another, Calvin Hunt with his shocking remarks, the name-dropping Mrs Shand and the frequent fainter (but artistic) Fay Bowen. Oh! I almost forgot Miss Harriet – she is easy to overlook.

While Alice tries to discover the secret behind the killing, Trudy must fight with a husband who is determined to force her back.

Set in a large Victorian house in Yorkshire in 1947, this novel introduces readers to a new pair of detectives – Alice, raised in a country mansion by aristocratic parents, and Trudy, daughter of a butcher from the market.

BOOK REVIEWS

In England in 1947, Princess Elizabeth prepares to marry Phillip Mountbatten. And at the Avalon Private Hotel, sweet, elderly Miss Harriet is planning to marry John Prentiss. But there are obstacles in the way. Neither John nor Miss Harriet is particularly interested in wedding planning, there are issues agreeing on a church, and to top it all off, somebody wants to kidnap Miss Harriet! Alice, Trudy, Kenneth Wilson, the local police detective, and the guests at Avalon band together to try and keep the wedding on track and protect Miss Harriet. Tidbits from Elizabeth’s wedding are dropped throughout the book. This is the second in the wonderful Alice and Trudy Mystery series by Valerie Fletcher Adolph.

This is an entertaining read which alternates between the perspectives of Alice, the owner of the Avalon, and Trudy, who helps her run the hotel. In addition to wedding plans, we are caught up in the other residents—Fay, who is using her considerable talent as an artist to sketch the local dogs; Colonel Starr, whose mind is generally geared to military matters; Mrs. Shand, who does some uppity criticizing of the wedding planning, both royal and non-royal; Calvin, the elderly flirt; and Sophie, who tries to help out in every situation. Alice’s aristocratic family makes appearances, as do Ben, a local man, his dog Yan, and others.

This is a sweet, mild cozy mystery, softer and more comfortable than most. It is a relaxing read about post-World War II England. I loved the characters, especially the elderly hotel guests. Fans of weddings, cozy mysteries, and postwar novels will enjoy this book.

In post-World War II Yorkshire, Alice and Trudy are taken aback when Jeremiah Bickerstaff, the formidable patriarch of the rich and powerful Bickerstaff family, makes the surprising decision to move into a vacant room at the Avalon hotel while recovering from a stroke. Despite begging, conniving, and groveling from his family, he will not move back home. This makes things difficult for Trudy, as Bickerstaff is the grandfather of her abusive ex-husband, Jeremy. Then another young man enters the picture. He bears a strong resemblance to the Bickerstaff grandsons. Is he a long-lost heir? When a death happens on the premises, one of the elderly tenants is quick to point the finger. Was it an accident, or something more? This is the third book in the Alice and Trudy mystery series. It can be read as a stand-alone.

The elderly Avalon gang is back in another delightful mystery adventure. Led by hotel owner Alice and manager Trudy, the aged but active residents lend a hand and plenty of opinions after Mr. Bickerstaff joins their ranks. This series is such a delight to read. I truly enjoy all of these characters, especially Colonel Starr, who thinks everyone should join the Army, and Mrs. Shand, who is always ready with a comment, whether you want to hear it or not. You will laugh at the hijinks of this hilarious crew of lively lodgers. Fans of cozy mysteries will want to rent a room at the Avalon hotel, and stay long-term.

OVERALL COMMENTS

This is a warm hug of a cozy mystery series with characters who keep you chuckling. You will want to continue coming back to the Avalon Hotel.

BUY THE ALICE AND TRUDY MYSTERIES ON AMAZON

Click on each book cover to buy the books on Amazon. Kindle Unlimited Subscribers can read the whole series for free! They are also only $2.99 each to buy the ebook version.

Two Reminders before you go:

  1. If you buy the book(s), please leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as anywhere else you review books. This is very important to self-published authors.
  2. Please click on the “share” buttons below and share these books with your Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress followers. A little bit of help from all of us will help self-published authors go a long way!

Blog Tour, Q&A, and Book Review: Scandal’s Deception

*Book Review and Q&A at the bottom of the page

Scandal’s Deception by Pamela Gibson

Publication Date: July 21, 2021 Soul Mate Publishing, LLC Series: Scandal Series, Book 4 Genre: Regency Historical Romance     Jane Stafford, raised in America, is shocked to learn she is a wealthy heiress, her late father was an earl, and her English mother is alive. Anxious to meet the woman she long-thought dead, she travels to London, only to be whisked away by her sinfully handsome guardian to a remote estate to be “schooled” in the ways of the ton. Gilbert Carmichael, Lord Ralston, chafes at having to make a rebellious young heiress acceptable to society, especially one who is impetuous and blatantly democratic. Because the instruction she needs is more than deportment and dancing. It’s also about how to spot a rake who might woo her for her fortune. When Ralston learns his ward is to be used as a pawn in an elaborate scheme involving a secret impersonation, he will move heaven and earth to keep her safe. Because proximity has brought the uncomfortable knowledge that his interest may be more than duty—it just might be love.

About the Author

Author of eight books on California history and sixteen romance novels, Pamela Gibson is a former City Manager who now lives in the Nevada desert. She has a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in public administration, but her passion is and always has been writing. Having spent three years messing about in boats, a hobby that included a five-thousand-mile trip in a 32-foot Nordic Tug, she now spends most of her time indoors happily reading, writing, cooking and keeping up with the antics of Ralph, her Siamese rescue cat. If you want to learn more about her activities go to https://www.pamelagibsonwrites.com and sign up for her blog and quarterly newsletter. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, BookBub, and Goodreads.

BOOK REVIEW

Upon the death of her beloved father, Jane, an American, learns she is an heiress, her father was an earl, and her mother is still alive and living in England. Her home in America is sold and Jane is sent to England to her mother. However, upon arrival, she is told she will be under the tutelage of her guardian, Lord Ralston, learning the ways of “The ton,” so she can fit into society. Then she finds out she has a twin sister.

This is a compelling Regency romance with plenty of action. There are mild sex scenes and language. Jane’s anguish upon losing her father and her home and being forced to go to another country is well portrayed. The villain is a definitely a “rakish rogue,” who gets away with some shocking behavior, but since he is highly placed in society, I feel this is believable. Jane’s mother is haughty, remote, and manipulative, and I would have liked to have seen more of her in the book. I don’t think the twin sister’s character is as well developed, but we will learn more about her in an upcoming book in the series, Scandal’s Redemption. Jane is delightful, as she is a skilled and intelligent young woman, and no fainting Regency flower. She is described by Lord Ralston as “having the education of a young male,” which would have been quite unusual at the time.

Scandal’s Deception is filled with adventure and intrigue, and fans of Regency romances will enjoy this story of a misfit thrust into an unfamiliar world. As a warning, there is an attempted rape in this novel.

I received a free copy of this book via HistFic Virtual Book Tours. My review is voluntary.

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Q&A WITH AUTHOR PAMELA GIBSON

I’m excited to provide a Q&A I did with the author of Scandal’s Deception, Pamela Gibson. She gave us some GREAT answers, and I want to thank her again for participating in this interview.

Hi Pamela.  To start off, tell us a little bit more about yourself.  Where are you from, what do you like to do in your spare time, and what inspired you to start writing?

Hi Bonnie. Thanks for having me today. 

I was born and raised in San Juan Capistrano, a small town on the California coast. At its heart was a famous Franciscan Mission.  I was allowed to roam freely inside the mission grounds as a child. The town was small and everybody knew everyone.  I made up a lot of stories while hanging around that Mission, especially after my little brother died of leukemia. I think my love of story-telling began as an escape, but expanded into an avocation.  I can certainly trace my interest in history to that time and it is still with me today.

In college I majored in history, but I didn’t go into teaching. Instead, I became a newspaper reporter, writing about “current history” every day. In my spare time I researched the past and eventually published eight history books covering localized subjects. When I married a man who liked to “mess about in boats” my spare time was spent on a sailboat racing crew, and over time we transitioned to power boats. My greatest boating adventure was a five-thousand-mile trip in a 32-foot trawler which took eight months. We actually circumnavigated the eastern third of the United States and parts of Canada via oceans, lakes, rivers, and canals.

Needless to say there was lots of time to read and I’d always wanted to write a novel, so I began writing fiction on the boat. Now that our boating adventures are over and my husband and I are retired, I write at home. 

What was the inspiration behind Scandal’s Deception?

I’d always wanted to write a “fish out of water” story and while I write contemporary and historical novels, I decided putting this type of character in my Regency series would be a good challenge. I remembered the old film, The Parent Trap, about twins who were separated by their divorced parents at birth, who meet at a camp, and decide to trade places. This book doesn’t go quite that far, but my American twin’s father dies and she discovers he had many secrets, including a wife still living. When she’s sent to her mother in England, her guardian takes it upon himself to prepare her for life as the daughter of an earl, a life full of rules. 

This was the perfect scenario for my “fish out of water” trope because the two countries had been at war and life for my heroine in Maryland had been completely different from the life of her twin sister. It created unusual conflicts and allowed for a good learning curve for my heroine. 

What message or information would you like us to take away after reading the book?

Books should have themes and this one’s is about believing in yourself. My heroine goes through a great deal of upheaval, has to learn a whole set of rules she finds silly, becomes attached to the sister she never knew she had, and resents the woman who doesn’t act like a mother should. Later in the book, when she undergoes a difficult situation and has to use her wits and her strength of will to outwit a villain, she constantly has to trust her instincts to get her through it all.  In an early chapter she remembers her best friend’s advice: Everything comes right if you believe in yourself. She recalls this at the end of the book when indeed, everything has, and she is about to get her happily ever after.

Who are your favorite authors?  Which books do you constantly re-read?

My list is endless when it comes to favorite authors, but I adore Mary Balogh because of the feelings she can evoke in her readers. I also admire Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, Beverly Jenkins, and Sarah MacLean. I admit to not re-reading books because there are too many books I haven’t read, and I also have a list of authors that are auto-buys who do not necessarily write historical romance. These are Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Susanna Kearsley, Karen White, Nora Roberts both as herself and J.D. Robb, and Jayne Ann Krentz.

I also like John Lescroat (cop and courtroom thrillers), and Randy Wayne White (sailing thrillers). I could go on and on but I won’t.

We have a lot of new authors who follow my blog.  What would be your advice to new authors who need motivation to finish their book?

Before I began writing fiction, I joined a writer’s group (Romance Writers of America), took online classes, and read craft books. All this was good preparation. My best advice though, is keep writing, even if you only have time for one paragraph or one page a day. If you can afford it, once you have a perfect first five pages and at least three or four chapters, enter a contest for unpublished writers. Choose one that give feedback. If the comments are consistent, pay attention. If  not, shrug them off unless you tend to agree. I found my current publisher through one of these contests. Also, it’s best to have the book finished.  The field is pretty crowded these days and a publisher may not want to wait.

If you decide to self-publish, you must hire a professional editor to review your manuscript. I cannot stress this enough. You’d be surprised at what you miss, even after reading through a book several times. 

Finally, be like my heroine in Scandal’s Deception. Believe in yourself.

Could you tell us a little about your other work?

I mentioned I spent several years as a newspaper reporter, then I went back to college, got a master’s degree and worked in city governments that had the council-manager form of government, retiring as a City Manager. That’s when I began to write full time. I have a contemporary series called Love in the Wine Country, based on characters in my own family as well as people I met while living in Sonoma, California. There are six books in this family saga covering the lives of the Reynoso cousins—three girls, three boys—who work in the wine industry. There are also five novellas set in a Sonoma coastal town with some overlapping characters.

My other historical series is Mission Belles, going back to my first love, California history. Two books are in this series, set in California just before the gold rush, when it was still part of Mexico and about to go to war with the U.S.  

Scandal’s Deception is the fourth book in the Regency series, with lots of familiar characters in each book. I’ve tried to create a world so there can be more books in this series. Scandal’s Redemption, the other twin’s book, will be released next spring.

Thanks so much, Pamela, for taking the time to answer our questions, and we look forward to reading more of your work.

Book Review: Murder at Wakehurst

After the death of her uncle, Cornelius Vanderbilt, in 1899, Emma Cross is in mourning and has no desire to accompany her cousin Neily (Cornelius Vanderbilt III) to a decadent and rousing party. The party will be held in Newport, Rhode Island, at the home of a member of one of America’s richest and most powerful families. But Neily had been estranged from his late father, and his wife Grace implores Emma to attend to help keep him out of trouble. Then, during an elaborate jousting ceremony, a distinguished judge is murdered, and Emma finds the body. Police detective Jesse Whyte does not seem to be on the case as usual. There is a new detective, and he wants no help from Emma. Emma, a reporter, continues to investigate the crime anyway, with the help of Derrick Andrews, heir to a Providence newspaper fortune. This is the ninth book in the Gilded Newport series.

This fantastic series continues with another installment, and plenty of twists, turns, and red herrings. The life of opulence lived by the Gilded Age’s privileged families is richly described. As a Vanderbilt cousin, Emma has access to elegant parties and mansions, but she is also looked down upon by some as a poor relation who has to work for a living. While sometimes hanging with the high-flyers, Emma keeps her feet firmly on the ground. Her position as an outsider with connections is an intriguing one, as she can hold her own amongst the elite, but is also accepted in the staff kitchens. This is another gripping and clever mystery about a sleuth who inhabits two worlds at once, and it will transport you to a time of luxury, greed, and the quest for power. Highly recommended.

I received a free copy of this book from Kensington Books for Historical Novels Review, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own. 

Murder at Wakehurst will be released on August 31, 2021. Books 1 – 8 in the Gilded Newport Mysteries are available now.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alyssa Maxwell

Alyssa Maxwell knew from an early age that she wanted to be a writer. Growing up in New England and traveling to Great Britain fueled a passion for history, while a love of puzzles drew her to the mystery genre. She is the author of The Gilded Newport Mysteries and A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mysteries. She and her husband reside in Florida, where she is a member of the Mystery Writers of America-Florida Chapter, Sisters in Crime, and the Florida Romance Writers. 

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