‘Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy’ by Karen Abbott

Sltss kaTORY: After shooting a Union soldier in her front hall with a pocket pistol, Belle Boyd became a courier and spy for the Confederate army, using her charms to seduce men on both sides. Emma Edmonds cut off her hair and assumed the identity of a man to enlist as a Union private, witnessing the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. The beautiful widow, Rose O’Neale Greenhow, engaged in affairs with powerful Northern politicians to gather intelligence for the Confederacy, and used her young daughter to send information to Southern generals. Elizabeth Van Lew, a wealthy Richmond abolitionist, hid behind her proper Southern manners as she orchestrated a far-reaching espionage ring, right under the noses of suspicious rebel detectives.

Using a wealth of primary source material and interviews with the spies’ descendants, Abbott seamlessly weaves the adventures of these four heroines throughout the tumultuous years of the war. With a cast of real-life characters including Walt Whitman, Nathaniel Hawthorne, General Stonewall Jackson, detective Allan Pinkerton, Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, and Emperor Napoleon III, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy draws you into the war as these daring women lived it.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy contains 39 black & white photos and 3 maps.

Karen Abbott illuminates one of the most fascinating yet little known aspects of the Civil War: the stories of four courageous women—a socialite, a farmgirl, an abolitionist, and a widow—who were spies.

REVIEW: What attracted me to this story was its intriguing subject matter. I wanted to know about these women that were strong and had convictions. What I got is … well, I’m still sorting that one out.

If I read this as a fiction, then I’m on board with the story. However, this was not written as such, and because it was presented to me as non-fiction and part of American history, I was hoping for the content to be as historically accurate as possible.

In the end, I’ll say this. This was a well written, albeit not as well documented story and I’ll leave it at that.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Where the Wind Blows’ by Caroline Fyffe

wtwb cfSTORY: Chase Logan lives by no man’s leave, a solitary drifter who closed off his heart long ago – until the day he impulsively does a kindness for a beautiful young widow, and everything changes.

For two years, Jessie Strong has dreamt of the day she could bring little Sarah home from the orphanage and call the child her own. But when her husband dies, Jessie fears the family she’s longed for is slipping away – until Chase Logan unexpectedly comes to her rescue. By pretending to be her husband, Chase can make all of her dreams come true.

Three days are all she asks of him. Three days to ignite a love neither of them ever imagined possible….

REVIEW: I’m on a Caroline Fyffe kick this week and I just noticed that I never reviewed this story, but have read it in 2012. Not acceptable!

I have to say that I love every story this author writes, and this was a start to a new series which I’m loving a lot.

This is one of those stories that brings a western town to life and introduces us to many of its citizens with an interesting plot and a fast pace.

I adored the hero, Chase Logan, despite his flaws. He had a hard task in front of him, which was made even harder when confronted with a dilemma our heroine had. Being an honorable man, he just rolls with it and decides to help Jessie with her problem.

And speaking of Jessie, it took me a bit to warm up to her, but once I did, she showed herself to be strong and resilient woman with a purpose and a plan. God help anyone in her way!

As both of them carry some secrets in their pasts, it is understandable that their romance takes some twists and turns, but in the end their happily ever after was worth it. Keeper for sure.

Melanie for b2b

‘The Earl’s Return’ by Callie Hutton

ter chSTORY: London, 1819. Four years ago, Darius, the Earl of Redgrave fled London two weeks before his wedding to Lady Mary’s sister and married another woman. Now a widower, he has returned to seek a new wife.

One woman catches his eye . . .

At first, Lady Mary doesn’t recognize the handsome lord as the cad who ran out on her sister. After giving him the cut direct in a London ballroom, she finds herself running into him everywhere she goes, and fighting a forbidden attraction. Not only has Mary sworn off men, Redgrave is so very wrong for her. But she cannot stop thinking of his kisses. Redgrave means to stay away from Mary but it is impossible. Passion between two people who can never be together is a dangerous game.

REVIEW: London – 1819

Darius, Earl of Redgrave, has just completed a year of mourning for his wife, Lady Priscilla, who passed away after 3 years of marriage. Knowing he must get an heir, Darius has ventured out again into Society and is attending a ball. He remains guilt-ridden for abandoning his fiancee, Lady Abigail, sister of the Duke of Manchester shortly before their planned wedding to marry Priscilla. A short time later, Lady Abigail married a rector. She is now happily married and the mother of twin sons.

Back in town, Darius dreads running into the Duke of Manchester or one of his sisters. He soon learns that Lady Mary is the only sister who is yet unmarried. As Darius peruses the young ladies at a ball, there is only one who appeals to him and it turns out to be Lady Mary who is now age 23. When she finds out who he is, she reacts coldly. But when he rescues her from an overbearing man in the garden, she lets Darius know how angry she is with him for his treatment of her sister.

It happens that both Darius and Mary are on the committee for the London Orphan Asylum which puts them together frequently. These encounters soon become civil and they begin to get to know one another.

As the story continues, the reader discovers why Darius jilted Lady Abigail and married Lady Priscilla. The story is very good and to give any more away would be so wrong! Spoilers. Suffice to say that I really enjoyed this book. Darius and Mary are terrific characters. I look forward to reading more by this author.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘Arrowood’ by Laura McHugh

a lmchSTORY: A haunting novel from the author of The Weight of Blood about a young woman’s return to her childhood home—and her encounter with the memories and family secrets it holds

Arrowood is the most ornate and grand of the historical houses that line the Mississippi River in southern Iowa. But the house has a mystery it has never revealed: It’s where Arden Arrowood’s younger twin sisters vanished on her watch twenty years ago—never to be seen again. After the twins’ disappearance, Arden’s parents divorced and the Arrowoods left the big house that had been in their family for generations. And Arden’s own life has fallen apart: She can’t finish her master’s thesis, and a misguided love affair has ended badly. She has held on to the hope that her sisters are still alive, and it seems she can’t move forward until she finds them. When her father dies and she inherits Arrowood, Arden returns to her childhood home determined to discover what really happened to her sisters that traumatic summer.

Arden’s return to the town of Keokuk—and the now infamous house that bears her name—is greeted with curiosity. But she is welcomed back by her old neighbor and first love, Ben Ferris, whose family, she slowly learns, knows more about the Arrowoods’ secrets and their small, closed community than she ever realized. With the help of a young amateur investigator, Arden tracks down the man who was the prime suspect in the kidnapping. But the house and the surrounding town hold their secrets close—and the truth, when Arden finds it, is more devastating than she ever could have imagined.

Arrowood is a powerful and resonant novel that examines the ways in which our lives are shaped by memory. As with her award-winning debut novel, The Weight of Blood, Laura McHugh has written a thrilling novel in which nothing is as it seems, and in which our longing for the past can take hold of the present in insidious and haunting ways.

REVIEW: At age 8, Arden Arrowood was there the day her twin sisters, Violet and Tabitha, just under 2 years of age, vanished. Arden said they were kidnapped by a man in a gold car. At the time, her family was living at Arrowood. Now at age 25, after the death of her father, Arden finds that she has inherited Arrowood, the huge family home built many years ago and located on a bluff on the Mississippi River in the town of Keokuk. Once a very prosperous town with large mansions, it has lost many businesses and become rather rundown. No one has lived in Arrowood since the family moved away not long after the disappearance of the twins. After an exhaustive search, the authorities were never able to find the girls.

Moving back to the home reopens many memories of Arden’s childhood there and makes her even more determined to find out what happened to her sisters. She meets Josh whose goal in life is to solve cold cases. The information he shares reopens old wounds but also makes her question more things. Her childhood friend and next door neighbor, Ben, still lives in town as does his mother. As the Arrowood family has been a part of the town for well over 100 years, they are well known and there is a lot of history here.

We meet people from the past and wonder if they know anything about the disappearance of the girls. The house itself is rather spooky but Arden is not afraid to live there. As more clues come to light, we think we know who was responsible.

I suspected the truth at one time but other clues seemed to knock that out. Do come and read this enthralling story and see if you can solve the mystery. It will truly keep you guessing right up to the end.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and hope other readers will as well.

Connie for b2b

 

‘Lady Carpathian and the Bennets’ by Perpetua Langley

lcatb plSTORY: The mysterious Lady Carpathian, Mr. Bennet’s long-time friend and correspondent, has descended on Longbourn. She has been thinking of the Bennet girls for quite some time and now she will whisk Elizabeth and Jane to London for a season.

Upon arrival, they are introduced to Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley, Caroline Bingley and the Hursts, as well as the delightful Sir Gregory, the intriguing Lord Hampton and the indomitable Mrs. Nathan.

All goes well until rumors fly about secret engagements. Who is engaged to who and where did such rumors begin?

This is a Pride & Prejudice variation.

REVIEW: Mr. Bennett is explaining to his wife and daughter, Elizabeth, that he has read a letter from Lady Carpathian saying that she will be passing through Hertfordshire and wishes to stop for a visit. The Lady is a distant relative and long time friend of Mr. Bennett but Mrs. Bennett has never met her. Thus, Mrs. Bennett and their 5 daughters Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia are a bit nervous as the household prepares for the visit. Their neighbors, the Lucas family, have been invited to dine with them as well.

Lady Carpathian arrives with a maid and many trunks for just one overnight. She immediately approves of Elizabeth and Jane but feels Mary may be a bit immature. As young Kitty and Lydia are quite boisterous, Lady Carpathian feels that they should remain in the schoolroom. While the Lady appears to be superior to the Bennetts, she aligns herself equally with the Lucas family.

At dinner that evening, Lady Carpathian reveals that she wants to take Elizabeth and Jane to London to give them a Season and she also invites their friend, Charlotte Lucas, to join them. She assures Mary that while she may be a bit young, she will give her a Season in a year or two. The young ladies are thrilled. As they travel to London, Lady Carpathian tells them about all of the eligible young men, especially Mr. Bingley, Lord Hampton, and Mr. Darcy.

The girls are soon outfitted with lovely new clothes and introduced at social events. As they meet some young men, they have different opinions of them. But when Lady Carpathian suddenly becomes ill, Mr. Darcy sends his personal physician to treat her using a much different method that what is usually used. As she improves, the doctor suggests that she may need several months to regain her strength so they all travel back to the Bennetts where Lady Carpathian will recuperate.

What about the young men they have met? Will they see them again?

I have given away way too much but there is some much more to this story for the reader to discover and enjoy. The author has written this in true Jane Austen “fashion” so you must come see these characters through her eyes. I loved Lady Carpathian. What a perfect character she is. The entire book is one the reader won’t want to put down for a minute. I have become a huge fan of Perpetua Langley and her novels. I hope other readers will discover her books as well.

Complimentary copy provided by the author

Connie for b2b

Spotlight on Diana Cosby and ‘Forbidden Legacy’!

fl dcBOOK BLURB: A betrothal neither wants . . . a passion neither can resist.
 
When the English murder Lady Katherine Calbraith’s family, she refuses their demands to wed an English noble to retain her home. Avalon Castle is her birthright, one she’s determined to keep.  After Katherine’s daring escape, she’s stunned when Scotland’s king agrees to allow her to return to Avalon, but under the protection of Sir Stephan MacQuistan . . . as the knight’s wife.  To reclaim her heritage, Katherine agrees. She accepts her married fate, certain that regardless of the caliber of the man, Stephan may earn her trust, but he’ll never win her love.
 
One of the Knights Templar, Stephan desires no bride, only vengeance for a family lost and a legacy stolen. A profound twist of fate tears apart the Brotherhood he loves, but offers him an opportunity to reclaim his legacy—Avalon Castle. Except to procure his childhood home along with a place to store Templar treasures, he must wed the unsuspecting daughter of the man who killed his family. To settle old scores, Stephan agrees, aware Katherine is merely a means to an end.
 
The passion that arises between them is as dangerous as it is unexpected. When mortal enemies find themselves locked in love’s embrace, Stephan and Katherine must reconsider their mission and everything they once thought to be true . . .

BUY LINKS: AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo

TEASER:

“You will remain here!”

Her heart dropped. ’Twas a risk to push him, but she was desperate. Who wouldna be after the gruesome events she’d witnessed? “I know I speak out of turn. It wasna my intention to usurp your authority.” At his hesitation, she pushed on, her words spilling out. “I am loyal to you, I swear it, but Avalon Castle is my home; ’tis all I know,” she rasped, her words trembling with grief. “If necessary, for my home and my country, I shall sacrifice my life.”

He glared at her. “You are but a wee lass.”

“Mayhap.” She drew herself up to her full height. “But one who fights with the fury of a thousand warriors!”

For a long moment he studied her. Then his mouth twisted into a wry smile. “If I agree to let you return, you will comply with my wishes?”

“Aye, Your Grace, anything.”

REVIEW: I’ve read this author before and she’s been a hit or miss for me most of the time. This one, a first in The Forbidden series, was on the cusp of miss, and the only reason for it is the heroine who I found a bit grating on my nerves and whose pride kept her from accepting the hero for who he was. As I delved more into her past, I started liking her a bit better.

The hero was a surprise because of his background and my heart went out to him. There were some of his characteristics that I wasn’t such a fan of, but in the end I did understand him much better than I did the heroine.

In the end, the author won me over only because she does an excellent job of painting me a picture of medieval Scotland with such vivid colors that I may as well been there myself.

I liked the premise of this and the upcoming stories, of the Knight Templar’s history. It’s fascinating to dig deeper into who they were and what made them tick. Ms. Cosby does an excellent job in weaving historical facts with fiction and that’s what kept me reading this book until the end.

All in all, not bad for a start of the new series. Since I’ve met a few of our heroes friends, I’m looking forward to finding out about who’ll tame them.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

dcAUTHOR BIO: A retired Navy Chief, Diana Cosby is an international bestselling author of Scottish medieval romantic suspense. Books in her award-winning MacGruder Brothers series are translated in five languages. Diana has spoken at the Library of Congress, Lady Jane’s Salon in NYC, and appeared in Woman’s Day, on USA Today’s romance blog, “Happy Ever After,” MSN.com, Atlantic County Women Magazine, and Texoma Living Magazine.

After her career in the Navy, Diana dove into her passion – writing romance novels. With 34 moves behind her, she was anxious to create characters who reflected the amazing cultures and people she’s met throughout the world. With the release of her 1st book in her new Scottish medieval The Oath Trilogy, An Oath Taken, which hit bestseller lists in Canada and the United Kingdom, as well as the release of the e Box Set of the MacGruder Brothers series, she’s now preparing for the last two books in The Oath trilogy, An Oath Broken – 22 June, and, An Oath Sworn – 23 December, 2015!

Diana looks forward to the years of writing ahead and meeting the amazing people who will share this journey.

SOCIAL LINKS: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

‘Weeping in the Wings’ by Terry Lynn Thomas

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000446_00067]STORY: San Francisco, March 1943
Sarah Bennett harbors two secrets: She sees ghosts, and she’s in love with a spy.

When Sarah takes a job with occult expert Dr. Matthew Geisler, he promises to help her understand the sorrowful spirit that seems to have attached itself to her—a spirit whose incessant weeping only she can hear.

Meanwhile, as Sarah struggles to cope with the relentless weeping, she comes face to face with Zeke, the man who left her six months earlier and is ostensibly convalescing from injuries suffered in an alleged accident. But Zeke has secrets of his own, and Sarah’s love and trust are soon put to the test.

Things take an even darker turn when an attempt is made on Geisler’s life, and Sarah finds herself caught in a struggle between the living and the dead. Unsure who she can trust, she must unlock the mystery of the weeping ghost in order to save Dr. Geisler—and herself—from an unknown enemy.

REVIEW: 1943 – San Francisco

Sarah Bennett sees ghosts and one that has attached itself to her weeps constantly. It began when she heard the verdict of not guilty as pertains to her adoptive father who had committed murder. Sarah started having hallucinations after being pushed off the second story staircase landing at Bennett Hall. Her stepmother had also been pushed and died from the fall. Even though Sarah testified against her father at the trial, he was found not guilty. Sarah’s psychiatrist, Dr. Upton, has prescribed medication for her, but it hasn’t helped. She still hears weeping.

Needing a job, she applies at the Geisler Institute for a secretarial position that also provides room and board. When she finds that a man named Zeke is a patient at the Institute recovering from some severe wounds, she is shocked. She had fallen in love with him some time back but he just left her.

While Sarah thinks she might be going insane with the weeping sounds and the fact that she believes that she can communicate with the dead, Dr. Geisler tells her he believes that she is sane. As she gets to know people staying at the Institute, one woman resident thinks that someone she thought to be dead is now after her. So, Sarah steps in to help find the truth using her special powers.

I enjoyed this second book by the author, but I think readers really need to have read the first book, “The Spirit of Grace” to understand Grace’s past and some of the characters. My review of the first book is here:

https://bookworm2bookworm.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/the-spirit-of-grace-by-terry-lynn-thomas/

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author