Daisy Carruthers moved to Washington, DC, from New York City following an emotionally draining murder investigation, little knowing she would soon be involved in two more. But when her boss and her best friend come under suspicion for killing two adulterous lovers, Daisy has no choice but to help when they ask.
And when she comes across a diary and an old dime novel with suspiciously similar stories and unknown origins, she knows all the mysteries are somehow connected.
Can she figure out the identity of the killer–or killers–before it’s too late?
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
Trudy’s Diary was actually a multi-layered mystery novel. Daisy was investigating two murder mysteries in present day and the disappearance of Trudy from the 1800’s. As I was reading Trudy’s secret thoughts, I wondered how her story played into the events of the present. I didn’t see the connection. However, when all the pieces clicked into place, I was impressed on how Amy connected all the dots.
Whether I was stepping into the past or attempting to unmask today’s killer, I was thoroughly engrossed with the happenings in Trudy’s Diary.
You don’t have to be a history enthusiast to read this story. You just have to like mystery novels with a touch of love and romance.
Amy M. Reade is a cook, chauffeur, household CEO, doctor, laundress, maid, psychiatrist, warden, seer, teacher, and pet whisperer. In other words, a wife, mother, community volunteer, and recovering attorney.
She’s also a writer. She is the author of Trudy’s Diary, A Libraries of the World Mystery (Book One: Library of Congress),The Worst Noel (Book One in the Juniper Junction Holiday Mystery series), The Malice Series (The House on Candlewick Lane, Highland Peril, and Murder in Thistlecross), and three standalone books, Secrets of Hallstead House, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, and House of the Hanging Jade. She lives in southern New Jersey, but loves to travel. Her favorite places to visit are Scotland and Hawaii and when she can’t travel she loves to read books set in far-flung locations.
Her days are split between writing and marketing her books, but uppermost in her mind is the adage that the best way to market a book is to write another great book.
Ochessa is heartbroken when she finds her brother fatally wounded. His dying words are about a childhood puzzle box, missing legal documents, and a drifter named Nicodemus Breedlove. Ochessa vows to find Will’s murderer—and the man Will described.
No stranger to trouble, Nic’s only concerns are his Stetson, his mule Sadie, and a long awaited chance at retribution. After gaining Ochessa’s trust, and taking the job she offers, life gets more complicated.
Back on the ranch in Colorado, Ochessa works as hard as any man. Then Nick tempts her into playing even harder as a woman—both are consumed by their growing love for one another.
Weathering a stampede, a gully washer, and a pack of outlaws, they locate the killer. As Nic’s quest for justice, and Ochessa’s vendetta for Will play out, bullets fly…
Naked to the waist, and bent over the horse trough, his sculpted muscles standing out in sharp relief, Nic scooped handfuls of water over his head. A growl escaped him as he straightened to his full height, and slicked back the dripping mane of dark hair. Arms still raised, he met her gaze, as the excess water trickled happily across his bare chest.
Involuntarily she sucked in a deep breath. The distance between them felt charged with lightning, thunder pounding in her brain, leaving the rest of the world dead silent.
A look of surprise flickered across Nic’s face. His muscles flexed and bulged as he lowered his arms to his sides.
“Good evening, boss.” He emphasized the last word as if were a personal joke.
She swallowed hard, and fought to find her voice. “Time’s a wasting, Breedlove. Why are you still hanging around the ranch? Shouldn’t you be out earning your keep?”
“Well, we all have our own way of doing things, and my way is usually different from the norm.”
“Why doesn’t that surprise me?”
Retrieving his hat, he carefully dislodged a thistle from the battered brim then settled the coveted headgear upon his head. “What would surprise you, Ochessa?” He studied her with an expression that sizzled and danced through her like water on a hot griddle.
“Not seeing you every time I turn around would be a good start.”
“You’re not very good at lying.”
She nudged a dried up cow pie with the toe of her boot. “Maybe not. But I am good at recognizing a load of bull when it comes my way.”
He gave a deep chuckle, and reached for the shirt dangling from the water pump. “Sounds like you’ve been on both ends of the shovel.”
“No more than anyone else, I guess.”
He stood his ground, casually shucking into the article of clothing, his movements so sure, no wasted motion, no hesitation. Did he live his life the same? Taking what he wanted when and where he found it? She imagined him wanting her, taking her, and as his gaze slid down the front of her body, memories of their stolen passion again flared hot in the pit of her stomach.
His eyes brightened as if the same thoughts held him transfixed. Then his expression hardened, and the gleam in his eyes turned to flint. “I should have some information for you soon. I’ll be out of your way come morning.”
The fluttering in her belly turned to a panic. His leaving disturbed her more than running into him at every turn. Yet, it was what she wanted, wasn’t it? Confusion had her at a loss as to how to respond or how to proceed. It felt as if she’d captured a wild creature, and now before ever knowing what made him so intriguing, so unique, she had to set him free.
His mouth softened into a mocking smile. “I’ll be back in a day or two. I’m only going to Denver.”
Apparently her face was an open book, and now she felt the fool. “Don’t hurry on my account. I was only worried Lucky might miss you.”
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
When you look back on the history of the Old West, you’ll see more men recognized than women. However, women did have a great impact on this time period much like they do today.
No matter the era, women are strong, fierce, warriors who can hold their own in a fight. In Cowboys, Cattle, and Cutthroats, Gini brought us Orchessa Starr. She had more skill with a firearm than a rolling pin. She ran a ranch and was well respected for her leadership. She was strongly independent, brave, and fiercely loyal to all those around her. She’s the type of character, a woman, I’d loved see portrayed more in books.
Nic, the drifter, was your typical male character you’ll see in many stories. He was adventurous, charming, flirtatious, and brave.
They might’ve had their differences, at first, but they came together to make one dynamic team.
Gun battles, outlaws, mystery, death, deception, romance, and love…. Cowboys, Cattle, and Cutthroats was a very well written Old West story.
Where the past and the present meet adventure and romance:
Gini Rifkin’s characters are courageous and passionate, and when they meet sparks fly and danger often threatens. Her settings include the American West, Medieval England, Victorian England, and contemporary fantasy. When not reading or writing, she has the privilege of caring for a menagerie of abandoned animals including ducks, geese, goats, rabbits, donkeys, and cats. Her writing keeps her hungry to learn new things, and she considers family and friends her most treasured of gifts.
Laird Cormac Murray has witnessed how love destroyed his own father after the death of his mother, and he vows to never take a wife. Yet, when he comes upon a bewildered lass traveling alone, he finds his heart will no longer listen to his mind. In the end, Cormac risks everything to claim the love of a woman not of his time.
Eve Brannigan loves helping others and baking. After winning a contest, she is stunned to learn that the Clan Murray has requested her assistance to cater to their guests during the holiday season. When a lost path in Scotland leads her to a handsome but gruff Highlander, Eve fights the temptation to allow love to enter her heart for the first time.
Can the Fae and the magic of the Yule season bring together two souls who have forsaken love? Or will tragedies from the past separate the lovers forever?
~~ Excerpt ~~
Giving her no time to protest, he grabbed her around the waist and hauled her up onto Fingal. When he mounted his horse and settled behind her, Cormac felt her body stiffen as he placed an arm around her waist. He leaned next to her ear. Her mass of curls brushed his face, and he inhaled her scent—one of different spices. Lust instantly surged forth, powerful and intense. “Relax,” he urged in a hoarse voice. Though he found it difficult to do so himself.
He felt her tremble, but she nodded. Giving a tug on the reins, they moved up the path.
With each steady trot, her body swayed and Cormac tried to focus on the road. The castle. Fighting in the lists. Bathing in the icy waters of the loch. Anything, but the soft curves of the lass’s body pressing against his own. What was wrong with him? He prided himself on being a man always in control of his emotions—especially his lustful ones. Yet, now he found himself confused, tongue-tied, and his gut twisted into knots.
So deep in his thoughts, he did not notice Fingal veering off the main road until the lass let out a giggle. She had the most musical sound, and he found himself smiling. Guiding his horse back to the path, he could hear his men doing their best to contain themselves. A glance back confirmed William was coughing loudly and Gordon trying his best not to fall off his horse.
“I swear Fingal, I am tempted to trade ye in for another horse. Ye must be going blind, or worse, old.”
His horse let out a large snort.
Eve clicked her tongue in disapproval. “For shame, Mr. Murray. How cruel. I think he’s a kind animal. Perhaps it’s the man holding the reins who can’t see clearly the path in front of him?”
The lass was quick with the wit, he mused. “I dinnae ken your word, but ye may call me Cormac.” He leaned near her again. “And I can assure ye, I am nae blind, nor old.”
Irish warrior, Desmond O’Quinlan has never surrendered his heart to any woman. He has no wish to have his soul tortured by love. Yet, the moment he locks gazes with Ailsa, his fate is destined for an adventure he never fathomed. He may have battled alongside a Dragon Knight, but his greatest challenge will come from within his own heart. Ailsa MacDuff, a warrior among her clan, has no desire to have a man chain her to a life of obedience. However, that is before she meets Desmond. The temptation to allow this warrior inside her heart is a risk she dares to take, but one that could lead to a future of emptiness and sorrow. When betrayal looms from within, the battleground of love is no match for these two warriors. Can the power of a Highland full moon be strong enough to unite or destroy them?
~~ Excerpt ~~
His mind screamed to stay rooted in his chair, but his body betrayed him. Standing, he reached for her hand.“I will escort ye to your chamber.”
She eyed him with curiosity and stood. “Nae. Take me to the north wall. I hear the view of the loch is one that steals the breath from your lungs.”
“Done.” When her fingers slipped into his, Desmond fought the urge to crush her to his chest. Placing her soft hand in the crook of his arm, he led her quickly out of the hall and up the stairs. Bending to the left, he took her along a corridor and up a narrow circular pathway. The torches flickered as he approached the door leading to the north wall.
A cold draft blew by them, and she shivered. Instantly, regret filled him realizing he had not considered to bring a cloak for her.
Desmond paused by the door. “Ye should not venture out into the biting cold without a cloak.”
Her eyes narrowed. “I simply wish to capture a quick look, not spend the night sleeping out there.”
Shaking his head, he pushed open the massive oak door. Brittle air slapped at his face while they made their way up along the wall.
“’Tis cold,” she muttered, but chuckled softly and hugged his arm. “But ye are warm.”
“We shall not tarry long,” he assured her and placed a warm hand over hers.
“Oh, sweet Goddess. Look at the moon, Desmond. Her light shimmers over the water. I have now witnessed the charm of the loch in sunlight and moonlight. Though our rivers are stunning on their own, they cannae rival this view. As I have told ye, our island is shrouded in mists, so ye cannae see verra far out into the sea.”
Desmond’s focus was not on the moon, but the beauty standing beside him. To take what he dared not possess. He marveled at her delight of the striking scene.
Ailsa turned toward him. “Thank ye, Desmond, truly.”
Her nearness was overpowering, seducing him in a way he had never known. Desmond cupped her chin. Her eyes widened, and her lips parted in invitation. Moonlight and lust danced within her eyes. No longer did he battle with his mind and body, and he slowly lowered his head.
And under the silent whisper of a full moon, Desmond captured her soft lips within his own. He could taste her sweetness mixed with the wine, and desire shot through his veins. His hands shook as he placed them securely on her waist. As he deepened the kiss, she placed her hands around his neck. Desmond groaned, crushing her body against him.
Award-winning Celtic paranormal romance author, Mary Morgan resides in Northern California, with her own knight in shining armor. However, during her travels to Scotland, England, and Ireland, she left a part of her soul in one of these countries and vows to return.
Mary’s passion for books started at an early age along with an overactive imagination. She spent far too much time daydreaming and was told quite often to remove her head from the clouds. It wasn’t until the closure of Borders Books where Mary worked that she found her true calling—writing romance. Now, the worlds she created in her mind are coming to life within her stories.
If you enjoy history, tortured heroes, and a wee bit of magic, then time-travel within the pages of her books.
A Norman loyalist, Lady Jocelyn bristles when ordered to marry Wulfstan, a Saxon sorcerer. She nurses a painful secret and would rather bathe in a cesspit than be pawed by such a man…until her lifelong dream of motherhood rears its head.
A man of magic and mystery, Wulfstan has no time for wedded bliss. He fears that consummating their marriage will bind their souls and wrench his focus from the ancient riddle his dying mother begged him to solve. He’s a lone wolf, salving old wounds with endless work. But Jocelyn stirs him as no woman ever has.
Their attraction is undeniable. Their fates are intertwined. Together, they must face their demons and bring light to a troubled land.
Wulfstan’s expression shifted faster than the midnight clouds. “Why are you here?” he asked in a low, tight voice.
Keeping her distance, Jocelyn eyed the wolf behind him and willed her voice to sound calm. “Why do you think?”
Wulfstan’s eyes were like ice. “I think…that you’re spying on me.”
She held his wintry gaze. “Then you think rightly.”
“What? No denial? No protestations of innocence?”
“Would you have me lie?”
He clenched his fists. “No.”
“Then you cannot—”
“Nor would I have you pound your pestle into my private affairs.”
Heat swept through her. “Pray, what affairs have you that are not private?”
“I’ve given you a free hand with the servants and the keep. What more do you want?”
The wolf turned away and padded toward the forest. Her courage doubled. “More.”
Her mind made up, she strode past Wulfstan and approached Woden’s Stair. She raised her foot above the first step.
“Stay!” he shouted above the wind.
She stopped short and turned to him. “Are you addressing me?”
He tore his gaze from the forest and settled it on her. “No. The wolf.” With powerful strides, he bridged the gap between them.
Her stomach quivered. He stood but a foot away. “Good,” she croaked. Then she cleared her throat. “For a moment, I thought you ordered me to stay, as you would order a dog.”
Humor softened his features. “Now there’s an idea. I must say, it does have a certain appeal.”
“A dog can be trained to please its master, but the master also enjoys pleasing the dog. Some hounds are spoiled, in fact.”
She frowned. Something in his tone was…suggestive. “Were I a bitch, I would not be so easily managed.”
He grinned. “That I believe. And I know you’re no animal to be trained. You’re a strong woman with a mind of your own. But even the strong-willed like to be pampered. Wouldn’t you like it?”
“I…I wouldn’t mind being pampered.”
“And pleasured?” His hair looked like spun starlight.
She stepped backward, and the heel of her boot met stone. Flustered, she clambered onto the step.
Wulfstan’s demeanor darkened. “Get down from there.” His large hands invaded her mantle and encircled her waist.
She wriggled free of his hands and backed onto the second step.
He crossed his arms. “Didn’t you hear me? Come down. That’s an order.”
Her body heat flared anew, and she climbed three steps higher. “I heard you, but I’ll not play the bitch to any man.”
“This isn’t a game.”
“No? What would you do if I ran all the way to the top?”
His words, exactly measured, were a promise. “I would stop you.”
“You could try.” She whirled around and started upward.
He grabbed her from behind and hoisted her several inches off the stairs. She struggled and kicked, and her left foot connected with his flesh.
“Woden’s blood!” He hauled her away from the stairs and planted her on the ground.
She twisted in his arms to face him. “Your nerve is unparalleled.”
His face was mere inches from hers. “Trust me, it bows to yours.”
“You’ve a clever tongue, my lord.” The hard, hot length of his body pressed against her.
His eyes were now dark and inviting. Expectant. “Would you care to see how clever?”
Judith Sterling’s love of history and passion for the paranormal infuse everything she writes. Flight of the Raven, Soul of the Wolf, and Shadow of the Swan are part of her medieval romance series, The Novels of Ravenwood. The Cauldron Stirred is the first book in her young adult paranormal series, Guardians of Erin. Written under Judith Marshall, her nonfiction books—My Conversations with Angels and Past Lives, Present Stories—have been translated into multiple languages. She has an MA in linguistics and a BA in history, with a minor in British Studies. Born in that sauna called Florida, she craved cooler climes, and once the travel bug bit, she lived in England, Scotland, Sweden, Wisconsin, Virginia, and on the island of Nantucket. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and their identical twin sons.
Four Regency Christmas novellas, from Kate Parker, Hannah Meredith, Louisa Cornell, and Anna D. Allen.
“A Light in Winter or The Wicked Will”– Debt-ridden Connor Grayson inherits his uncle’s title and ruined estate. But in order to receive his uncle’s money, the new Viscount Roxbury must marry an ancient crone—a fate he considers…until he meets her companion.
“The Lord of Misrule”– Everyone expects the Earl of Morrell to propose to Alice Caruthers during the Christmas holidays. Finally! But when the earl’s best friend arrives as the lucky First Foot on New Year’s Eve, Alice’s world turns upside-down.
“God Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen”– Newlywed Eugenia, Lady Hunter, wants to impress her aristocratic in-laws with her first Christmas house party — but blackmail, dead bodies, and being snowed in with a killer are not part of her plan.
“A Perfectly Dreadful Christmas”– Three not-so-wise gentlemen, a pregnant stranger, several tumbling footmen, and an unexpected snowstorm will turn Elizabeth’s Perfectly Ordinary Christmas into a disaster…or a Christmas miracle with the man she loves.
Let the Revels begin—again! Four new stories with four distinctive voices:
“The Vicar’s Christmas”– Margaret Trent never needs anything or anyone, but when two London solicitors show up on her doorstep, she needs a hero. Enter Henry Ogden, mild-mannered village vicar. Hardly the stuff of heroes . . . until adversity brings out unexpected talents.
“A Christmas Equation”– A chance meeting between a reluctant viscount and a self-effacing companion revives memories of their shared past—a time when they were very different people. With secrets to keep, Sarah Clendenin wishes Benjamin Radcliff gone . . . but he’s making calculations of his own.
“Crimson Snow”– A trail of blood drops leads Jane Merrywether to a wounded stranger—the only person standing in the way of her wicked guardian becoming an earl. John Rexford, long-thought dead, has returned to claim his inheritance and his promised bride . . . if he can survive a murderous Christmas.
“A Perfectly Unregimented Christmas”– After years at war, Viscount Pennyworth returns to his ancestral home to find some peace and quiet and to avoid the holiday he loathes. But four naughty boys, a bonnet-wearing goat, a one-eyed cat, a family secret, and one Annabelle Winters, governess, make this a Christmas he’ll never forget.
When days turn dark, Christmas brightens the way… Come Revel with us again!
“Magdalena’s Christmas Rake”– Thomas Eddington comes home for a family Christmas to discover his mother in a matchmaking mood. Worse, she has invited his childhood nemesis, “Mad Maddie” Winslow, to act as chaperone to the eligible debutantes. For her part, Magdalena Winslow hopes to go unnoticed. She certainly wants nothing to do with a London rake, and she’s not afraid to let him know it.
“Christmas Promise”– When skaters at a Christmas house party find a dead man beneath the ice, the squeamish local magistrate relies on Eve Franklin to help with the investigation. Complications arrive with Lord Adam Downing, who is searching for the dead man – and stolen jewels – on orders from the Prince of Wales. Eve must now convince the aristocrat to view her as an equal—but he sees her as so much more.
“The Christmas Rose”– Lord and Lady Trenton have an exemplary society marriage—an amicable partnership. Simon dedicates himself to his Parliamentary responsibilities and estate concerns. Emma devotes herself to their children and her charitable endeavors. But when the stress of the coming Christmas season fractures their facade of marital harmony, they discover what they both really need and want. Each other.
“The Sergeant’s Christmas Bride”– Sergeant Jacob Burrows just wants a place to bed down for the night. He never expects to be confronted by a lady with a gun. Elizabeth FitzWalter intends to drive the stranger off her land, until she realizes he meets her most pressing need.
“Home for Christmas” – When Charity Fletcher receives a mysterious bequest—a house by the sea—she hopes to rebuild her life. Lord Gilbert Narron leases a seaside house to hide from his memories of war. Charity’s refuge is Gil’s bolt-hole… but what both are seeking is a home for their hearts.
“A Memorable Christmas Season”–The last thing Lady Roekirk expects at her Christmas party is a dead traitor in her parlor… or the Crown’s Spymaster helping her hide the body. Thirty years earlier, she’d been forced to wed another and Lord Keyminster became a spy. After this long, does their love stand a chance?
“A Perfectly Unforgettable Christmas”– Every day, Lucien Rollinsby endures a memory of Christmas Eve. Not even his lovely new neighbor can make him forget that horrible night five years ago. Caroline McAlasdair remembers that Christmas Eve, too. But if Lucien recalls her presence there, it will destroy their only chance at happiness forever.
Christmas with the Regency Lords and Ladies is Always Unexpected—So Let the Revels Begin.
“Mr. Hunt’s Christmas Caller”– After his anticipated betrothal falls apart, Matthias Hunt wants nothing to do with Christmas festivities. Yet, when quiet, demure Constance Blackwell unexpectedly gives him a piece of her mind, he wonders why he never considered her. Delivering gifts for her aunt, Constance dreads facing Mr. Hunt in the wake of her hasty words. After years of secretly loving her neighbor, she can hardly expect a Christmas miracle… until the weather changes.
“The Christmas Gamble”– In exchange for her guardian’s gambling debts, Lizzie Hancock is pledged to marry the Earl of Stonebrook, a man she’s never met. When she arrives for the Christmas wedding, the bridegroom is missing, the servants are secretive, and a prodigal brother has returned. Could Lizzie gain everything she desires—if she’s willing to gamble on love?
“The Gnome and the Christmas Star”– The Earl of Marle has an uncanny ability to judge political candidates, but he’s a failure in matters of the heart. After years spent caring for her late husband, the Dowager Viscountess Lyndon fiercely clings to her new independence. An unlikely meeting offers them both a second chance at happiness, but a Christmas miracle is needed to claim it.
“A Perfectly Ridiculous Christmas”– Valerian, Viscount Keynsham will do anything to ensure his best friend’s marriage to a wealthy heiress, including claim the man’s three young Creole daughters as his own. Lady Catherine Chastleton needs a manageable husband to claim her inheritance. As the children try to keep their stories straight, Christmas will be anything but manageable.
Hannah Meredith is, above all, a storyteller. She’s long been fascinated by the dreams that haunt the human heart and has an abiding interest in English history. This combination led her to write historical romance. She hopes you enjoy her tales. You can visit Hannah online at www.hannahmeredith.com.
Anna D. Allen is an award-winning writer noted for her eclectic style in the genres of speculative fiction and Regency Romance. She is also a scholar specializing in the people and lost communities around Cane Creek, Calhoun County, Alabama, in the mid-19th Century. Her fiction is available from Smashwords, ibooks, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. (Original cover art by Adam Tetzlaff)
Kate Parkerbegan reading Agatha Christie mysteries and the Nancy Drew books while her classmates were reading Dick and Jane. She particularly likes historical mysteries and the feeling of time travel a good historical book can give the reader. Combined with her love of late Victorian to World War II architecture and fashions, she found an outlet for the stories and characters that fill her head by writing The Victorian Bookshop Mysteries and The Deadly series, as well as taking part in the Christmas Revels anthologies.