Friday, October 31, 2014

Review: Gracelin O'Malley by Ann Moore

Ann Moore brings to life the haunting beauty of nineteenth-century Ireland and its tumultuous, heartbreaking history in the first novel of her critically acclaimed trilogy

Gracelin’s father, Patrick, named her for the light of the sea that shone in her eyes. But joy and laughter leave the O’Malley clan when Gracelin is six-and-a-half and tragedy befalls the family. Less than a decade later, Gracelin must put her romantic dreams aside and marry a local landowner, the son of an English lord, to save her loved ones from financial ruin. Although she is a dutiful wife to capricious Bram Donnelly, Gracelin takes dangerous risks. With political violence sweeping through Ireland and the potato blight destroying lives, she secretly sides with the Young Irelanders, among them her brilliant brother, Sean, and the rebel leader Morgan McDonagh.

Set against the rise of the Irish rebellion, with a cast of unforgettable characters led by the indomitable eponymous heroine, Gracelin O’Malley weaves a spellbinding story of courage, hope, and passion.

ebook, 400 pages

Published September 30th 2014 by Open Road Media Romance (first published January 1st 2001)

I love a historical saga, stories that I can get lost in, ones that stay with me long after I finish reading.  Stories that tell me a part of history I know next to nothing about. That is exactly what Gracelin O'Malley is.  Ann Moore has written a powerful book that takes the reader back to 1840's Ireland.

There is no denying that the author has done a lot of research here and knows both her location and time period quite well.  The hardships the Irish endured between the potato blight, disease and the English were vividly recounted here.  It wasn't just the vivid description of landscape and dress but more, the language and tone of this book made for an enjoyable read.

Gracelin is only young when first introduced, but it isn't until after her marriage that she comes in to her own.  She didn't marry for love, but rather to help her family.  She is strong, loyal and compassionate, but she is also human and suffers heartache and grief.  She isn't the only strong character in this book, there are numerous which adds much to this book.

Gracelin O'Malley  is a very realistic and believable book, one of my favorite books of 2014.  

Advance Praise

“Lyrical, pitch-perfect prose . . . Historical fiction at its finest.” —Publishers Weekly

“An Irish saga so lilting and elegantly written you’ll be hearing Irish music in your head.” —New York Times–bestselling author Eileen Goudge

“Truly great fiction . . . a grand historical novel . . . full of triumph, full of tragedy, full of hope and strength of spirit.” —The Historical Novels Review

“An epic saga that sweeps you into the life of a remarkable woman.” —Romantic Times

“If you love the lilt of Irish laughter and understand the river of tears that runs beneath it, you’ll take Gracelin O’Malley to your heart and keep her there long after you’ve finished reading this beautiful book.” —New York Times–bestselling author Cathy Cash Spellman

“Vivid historical detail.” —Kirkus Reviews


Ann Moore was born in England and grew up in the Pacific Northwest region of Washington State. An award-winning author, Moore holds a master of arts from Western Washington University. Her trilogy of historical novels - Gracelin O'Malley, Leaving Ireland, and 'Til Morning Light-has been published internationally and enjoys a wide readership of enthusiastic fans. Moore and her family live in Bellingham, Washington.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Tapestry by Nancy Bilyeau

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill  at  Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.   

   This week I am waiting for:

(one of my very favorite series)


Expected publication: March 24th 2015 by Touchstone 



The next page-turner in the award-winning Joanna Stafford series takes place in the heart of the Tudor court, as the gutsy former novice risks everything to defy the most powerful men of her era.

After her priory in Dartford is closed, Joanna resolves to live a quiet and honorable life weaving tapestries, shunning dangerous quests and conspiracies. Until she is summoned to Whitehall Palace, where her tapestry weaving has drawn the King's attention.

Joanna is uncomfortable serving the King whom she has twice attempted to overthrow, unbeknownst to him. She fears for her life in a court bursting with hidden agendas and a casual disregard for the virtues she holds dear. And her suspicions are confirmed when an assassin attempts to kill her moments after arriving at Whitehall.

Struggling to stay ahead of her most formidable enemy yet, an unknown one, she becomes entangled in dangerous court politics. A disturbing encounter with Thomas Cromwell propels Joanna to prominence in the King's circle. She discovered that her dear friend Catherine Howard is rumored to be the King's mistress. Joanna is determined to protect young, beautiful, naive Catherine from becoming the aging King's next wife and possibly, victim. Two friends she makes at court, painter Hans Holbein and courtier Thomas Culpepper, offer help, but at what cost?

Set in a world of royal banquets and feasts, tournament jousts, ship voyages, and Tower Hill executions, this thrilling tale finds Joanna in her most dangerous situation yet, as she attempts to decide the life she wants to live: nun or wife, spy or subject, rebel or courtier. Joanna must finally choose her fate.

 

What are you waiting for? 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Alert: Come Dancing by Leslie Wells

  Julia is a book-loving publisher’s assistant. Jack is a famous British rock star. “Opposites attract” is an understatement.
It’s 1981. Twenty-four-year-old Julia Nash has recently arrived in Manhattan, where she works as a publisher’s assistant. She dreams of becoming an editor with her own stable of bestselling authors—but it is hard to get promoted in the recession-clobbered book biz.

Julia blows off steam by going dancing downtown with her best friend, Vicky. One night, a hot British guitarist invites them into his VIP section. Despite an entourage of models and groupies, Jack chooses Julia as his girl for the evening—and when Jack Kipling picks you, you go with it. The trouble is … he’s never met a girl like her before. And she resists being just one in a long line.

Jack exposes her to new experiences, from exclusive nightclubs in SoHo to the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood; from mind-bending recording sessions to wild backstage parties. Yet Julia is afraid to fall for him. Past relationships have left her fragile; one more betrayal just might break her.

As she fends off her grabby boss and tries to move up the corporate ladder, Julia’s torrid relationship with Jack takes her to heights she’s never known—and plunges her into depths she’s never imagined.

With a fascinating inside look at publishing, this entertaining story of a bookish young woman’s adventures with a rock superstar is witty, moving, and toe-curlingly steamy.

Publication Date: June 8, 2014
Allium Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Contemporary Romance
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Praise for Come Dancing

“Leslie Wells brings to life all the eclectic, edgy style of New York City at the dawn of the 1980s as she spins a story of spine-tingling romance and the complex issues that can threaten a relationship. Through her effervescent writing style she catapults the reader into a world of excess and indulgence, while delving into some honest and heartfelt struggles along the way. … Come Dancing is a love story with lots of heart and plenty of heat.”
—Casee Marie, Literary Inklings Book Reviews

“5 Blushing Stars!! Come Dancing is quite the story. I loved this story and could not put it down. I got lost in the story, imagining the rock stars and their groupies partying it up, while finding themselves and falling in love. Opposites certainly do attract and make for an explosive time! You will love the many layers of Jack; you will also want to smack him at times too. Julia will have you rooting for the underdog and wishing she had a better clothes fund :) Through it all, the many naysayers and people out to split them up, they make it work! Fate seems to finally take its stand and allows for this fairytale story to end the way it should—hot, sexy and combustible!”
–Kellie, Blushing Divas Book Reviews

“I’m never sure what to expect when I venture away from historical fiction, but I found Leslie Wells’ Come Dancing quite enjoyable. Though more contemporary than my usual fare, I think the novel has a lot of heart and is a story many people will be able to relate to.
By far, my favorite aspects of the piece were the atmospheric qualities of the narrative. This is a New York before cell phones and digital cameras. It has different rhythm to it and follows a social structure that is entirely different from the New York of today. There is a contrast in that, something both familiar and almost foreign that really appealed to me.
There is a tangible affection between Julia and Jack which I truly appreciated, and I admired the journey their relationship takes over the course of the story. . .. A pleasant fiction, Come Dancing is brimming with both humor and heart. A realistic romance that is sure to entertain.”
–Erin, Flashlight Commentary Book Blog

 

Buy the Book


Leslie Wells left her small Southern town in 1979 for graduate school in Manhattan, after which she got her first job in book publishing. She has edited forty-eight New York Times bestsellers in her over thirty-year career, including thirteen number one New York Times bestsellers. Leslie has worked with numerous internationally known authors, musicians, actors, actresses, television and radio personalities, athletes, and coaches. She lives on Long Island, New York.

 

 

Author Links



Come Dancing Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 8
Review at Blushing Divas Book Reviews
Tuesday, September 9
Review & Giveaway at SOS Aloha
Wednesday, September 10
Review & Excerpt at What’s On the Bookshelf
Thursday, September 11
Spotlight at Sizzling Hot Books
Friday, September 12
Review & Giveaway at The Boyfriend Bookmark
Monday, September 15
Review at Tea Cups and Book Love
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, September 16
Review, Interview & Giveaway at A Dirty Book Review
Wednesday, September 17
Interview at Romance Book Junkies
Thursday, September 18
Review & Excerpt at Shelly’s Book Blog
Friday, September 19
Review at Must Read Books or Die
Tuesday, September 23
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, September 24
Review at Book Nerd
Thursday, September 25
Spotlight & Giveaway at Paranormal Book Club
Sunday, September 28
Review at Devilishly Delicious Book Blog
Monday, September 29
Review at Lustful Literature
Wednesday, October 1
Guest Post at Bibliophilia, Please
Spotlight at Layered Pages
Monday, October 6
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Review & Excerpt at Jorie Loves a Story
Tuesday, October 7
Review at Turning the Pages
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Wednesday, October 8
Review at The Life & Times of a Book Addict
Friday, October 10
Review at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Tuesday, October 14
Review & Excerpt at Michelle & Leslie’s Book Picks
Wednesday, October 22
Interview at Room with Books
Thursday, October 23
Review at Lusty Penguin Reviews
Monday, October 27
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Tuesday, October 28
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter
Thursday, October 30
Review at The Danish Bookaholic

Review: Sinful Folk by Ned Hayes (book tour)

Everything is gone, everything except my memories of a life where I was loved, where I was someone with a future, instead of someone with only a past.

A tragic loss. A desperate journey. A mother seeks the truth.

In December of 1377, four children were burned to death in a house fire. Villagers traveled hundreds of miles across England to demand justice for their children’s deaths.


Sinful Folk is the story of this terrible mid-winter journey as seen by Mear, a former nun who has lived for a decade disguised as a mute man, raising her son quietly in this isolated village. For years, she has concealed herself and all her history. But on this journey, she will find the strength to redeem the promise of her past. Mear begins her journey in terror and heartache, and ends in triumph and transcendence.


The remarkable new novel by Ned Hayes, illustrated by New York Times bestselling author/illustrator Nikki McClure, Sinful Folk illuminates the medieval era with profound insight and compassion.

Publication Date: January 22, 2014
Campanile Press
Formats: eBook, Hardcover, Audiobook
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery/Medieval
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****

I love historical fiction, there really isn't any sub-genre that I haven't tried and enjoyed, except one.  That would be, gender role reversals.  I love it when the author writes in such a fashion that I can be drawn in to the story and creates a world that I believe whatever is taking place.  But I seriously had something in my little ole brain that makes it hard for me to believe that a woman can get away with pretending to be a man and have the story work.  It's not that I haven't tried, because I did and it didn't work out too well.

With Sinful Folk the cover was what grabbed my attention as well as the first 2 sentences of the synopsis, I really didn't pay too much attention to the rest, which clearly stated that Mear, a former nun disguised as a mute man.  By the time I realized this I'd already read the first chapter and was totally hooked.  

If there is one word that I could use to sum up this book it would be 'secrets'.  Everyone seems to be hiding something, with Mear leading the pack.  The plot of Sinful Folk was intriguing with all these secrets and subplots lingering around one would think it to be confusing and overwhelming.  It wasn't at all.  There was dept to this story, between the suspicion characters, unsavory knights, fowl weather and much more the journey Mear and the fathers took was vividly described and realistic.  The author definitely knows this time period well, to take a historical truth, the fire that killed 5 boys, and write this book was amazing and I loved the ending, it just finished this book off perfectly.

Ned Hayes has changed my view on gender reversal roles, he made Mear's character easy to follow and believable, with the way she told this story had me empathizing with her and her situation.

Praise for Sinful Folk

In December of 1377, five children are burned in a suspicious house fire. Awash in paranoia and prejudice, the fathers suspect it is the work of Jews and set out to seek justice from the king, loading the charred bodies of their boys onto a cart. Unbeknownst to them, among them is a woman, Mear, who has been hiding out in the town for the past 10 years posing as a mute man. It is a treacherous journey, for their rations are spare and the weather is brutal. And always, they are haunted by the question, Why were their boys in Benedict the weaver’s house, and who would do this to them? Mear, ever resourceful, not only watches for clues to unravel the mystery but also provides invaluable aid in finding their way, for she has traveled this way before and is the only literate one among them. The reason for her false identity is slowly revealed as the villagers are chased by bandits and must overcome numerous obstacles, hunger and fear among them. Brilliantly conceived and beautifully executed, Hayes’ novel is woven through with a deep knowledge of medieval history, all conveyed in mesmerizing prose. At the center of the novel is Mear, a brave and heartbreaking character whose story of triumph over adversity is a joy to read. –Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist *Starred Review*

“A pilgrim tale worthy of Chaucer, evocative, compelling and peopled with unforgettable characters artfully delivered by a master storyteller.” – Brenda Rickman Vantrease, bestselling author of The Illuminator and The Mercy Seller

“Brilliant, insightful, unflinching and wise. This spellbinding mystery will keep readers turning pages until the last sentence. Remarkable.” – Ella March Chase, bestselling author of The Virgin Queen’s Daughter and Three Maids for a Crown

“Suspenseful, page-turning mystery of a mother pursuing the truth… Every reader will come to love the brave and intrepid Mear, a most memorable character in a most memorable story.” – Jim Heynen, award-winning author of The Fall of Alice K.

“Sinful Folk is a work of art. Miriam’s story is a raw and brutal and passionate tale, but her story touches the reader because it’s a timeless story – a wonderful portrayal of medieval life. Highly recommended.” – Kathryn Le Veque, bestselling author of The Dark Lord and The Warrior Poet

“A suspenseful and mesmerizing tale full of rich and vital characters. Ned Hayes crafts a narrative that shows a devotion to craft in each word.” – Renée Miller, editor of On Fiction and author of In the Bones

Buy the Book

Amazon (Kindle)
Amazon (Hardcover)
Audible.com
Barnes & Noble (Nook)
Barnes & Noble (Hardcover)
Books-a-Million
iBooks
IndieBound

Booknote Interview with Ned Hayes


Ned Hayes is the author of the Amazon best-selling historical novel SINFUL FOLK. He is also the author of Coeur d’Alene Waters, a noir mystery set in the Pacific Northwest. He is now at work on a new novel, Garden of Earthly Delights, also set in the Middle Ages.

Ned Hayes is a candidate for an MFA from the Rainier Writer’s Workshop, and holds graduate degrees in English and Theology from Western Washington University and Seattle University.
Born in China, he grew up bi-lingually, speaking both Mandarin and English. He now lives in Olympia, Washington with his wife and two children.

For more information please visit www.sinfulfolk.com and www.nednotes.com. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, PinterestBooklikes, YouTube, Google+, and Goodreads.

Sinful Folk Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 20
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, October 21
Review at Historical Novel Review
Wednesday, October 22
Spotlight at What is That Book About
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Thursday, October 23
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Guest Post at Books and Benches
Monday, October 27
Review at Just One More Chapter
Spotlight & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection
Tuesday, October 28
Interview at Layered Pages
Wednesday, October 29
Review at Back Porchervations
Thursday, October 30
Interview at Back Porchervations
Friday, October 31
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Monday, November 3
Interview at Triclinium
Spotlight at Boom Baby Reviews
Tuesday, November 4
Spotlight at Historical Tapestry
Wednesday, November 5
Review at Deal Sharing Aunt
Thursday, November 6
Review at bookramblings
Saturday, November 8
Review at Book Nerd
Monday, November 10
Review at Book Babe
Tuesday, November 11
Review at Impressions in Ink
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Friday, November 14
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Tuesday, November 18
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review & Giveaway at Beth’s Book Reviews
Wednesday, November 19
Review at Books in the Burbs
Review at Bookworm Babblings
Thursday, November 20
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Friday, November 21
Review at Library Educated



Saturday, October 25, 2014

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren

The first book in the Grand Tour series, Glamorous Illusions will take readers on a pilgrimage through Europe-and straight into the soul. 

It's the summer of 1913 and Cora Kensington's life on the family farm has taken a dark turn. The crops are failing and worse, so is her father's health. Then a stranger comes to call and in one fateful afternoon, Cora discovers that her birth father is a copper king-a man who invites her to tour Europe with her new family. As she travels across America, then on to England and France, Cora faces the hardships as well as the privileges of assuming the family name. And though now she knows more of her true identity, she soon discovers the journey is only beginning. 

 Paperback, 416 pages
Published June 1st 2012 by David C Cook 
review copy provided by published via netgalley for honest review
 ***1/2

Cora has just had her world turned upside down, so many changes all at once.  The author painted a clear picture of Cora's struggle as she comes to grips with her new life and who she is.  It's only natural for her to feel confused, lonely, scared and at times anger with her current situation.  She has her faith and knew the direction her life was heading, but all that has changed.  She draws on her beliefs and faith in a manner that wasn't overly preachy but in a realistic and believable way.  Christians struggle, hurt and get anxious just like everyone else.

This is historical fiction, beginning in a small town US, the year 1913 and concluding in France.  The author stayed true to the time period and various locations.  The difference between upper and middle classes seemed to be the same whether in the US, England or France.  It was a very interesting plot, though some story lines were predictable but was still an enjoyable start to this trilogy.

Book 2 is Grave Consquence
Book 3 is Glittering Promises


Advance Praise

"A fascinating mix of travel and intrigue, heartache and romance, Glamorous Illusions sweeps you away on the Grand Tour, exploring London and Paris through the eyes of a young woman who longs to find her place in the world. The title captures the story perfectly, as Cora delves beneath all that glitters to discover what is real and true, while not just one man but two vie for her affections...ooh, la la! A grand start to a new series from a seasoned author who writes from the heart."
Liz Curtis Higgs, New York Times best-selling author of Mine Is the Night

Links


 


Lisa T. Bergren is the award-winning author of over thirty-five books, with more than 2 million copies sold. A former publishing executive, Lisa now divides her time between writing, editing, parenting three children with her husband, Tim, and dreaming of her next trip to Italy. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Book Alert: The Secrets of Casanova by Greg Michaels

Be sure to check out the book tour schedule, there are some giveaways and guestposts.

 2014 Nancy Pearl Award Winner for Fiction

Loosely based on the life of Jacques Casanova, The Secrets of Casanova is a rich, lush novel of love, sex, family, ambition, intrigue, and adventure. Set in Paris of 1755, Casanova’s luck is fading and his past is shoving up against his present with potentially disastrous consequences. What price must he pay to uncover a treasure of inestimable value? What hearts must he break along the way? 
Casanova’s will and destiny collide again and again in this riveting historical fiction that brings to light a man of great passion and not a few secrets.

 Publication Date: October 21, 2013
Booktrope Editions
Formats: eBook Paperback; 334p
Genre: Historical Fiction


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Praise for The Secrets of Casanova

“A Shakespearean actor with a flair for the dramatic and a superb ear for dialogue, Michaels’s debut novel puts a brilliantly original spin on an historical figure whose very name is a cliché. This Casanova must wrestle not only with falling hopelessly and passionately in love, but embarking on a mysterious quest that is as much a spiritual awakening as a swashbuckling adventure. The Secrets of Casanova is so erotic and so sensitively written, I found it difficult to believe its author was a man.” -Robin Maxwell, national best-selling author of The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn

 

Buy the Book

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes

After receiving his B.A. in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin, a chance experience thrust Greg into a career as a professional actor and fight director. To date he’s acted in over fifty theater productions, more than forty television shows, and choreographed dozens of swordfights for stage and screen.

 In THE SECRETS OF CASANOVA, Greg again proves his skill at telling a theatrical story. He lives with his wife, two sons, and Andy the hamster.

For more information please visit Greg Michaels’s website.

 Like The Secrets of Casanova Facebook Page. Follow Greg Michaels on Twitter.

 

Monday, October 13
Review at Bookish
Tuesday, October 14
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Review at With Her Nose Stick in a Book
Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, October 15
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Obsession
Thursday, October 16
Review & Interview at Carpe Librum
Spotlight at Historical Tapestry
Friday, October 17
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Monday, October 20
Review at A Book Geek
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, October 21
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Spotlight & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, October 22
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Review at Good Friends, Good Books and a Sleepy Conscience
Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshelf
Thursday, October 23
Review at Beth’s Book Reviews
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Friday, October 24
Review at Book Nerd
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Spotlight: Music for My Soul by Lauren Linwood

As the third wife of an abusive French vineyard owner, Madeleine Bouchard hasn’t produced the expected heir after three years of marriage. Fearing he plans to kill her, she flees during a trip to England. Unable to make her way home, she joins a troupe of traveling mummers and reinvents herself as the only woman troubadour in the land, captivating audiences with both song and story.

Nobleman Garrett Montayne’s fascination with Madeleine causes him to pay the troupe to bypass their next stop in order to journey to his estate. Though he suspects Madeleine of being a thief with dark secrets, love blossoms between them under the magical moon of summer solstice.

But Madeleine’s past is about to catch up with her, as her husband is set to arrive to conduct business with Garrett. Madeleine determines to free herself from her loveless marriage and make a new life with Garrett, no matter what the cost.

Publication Date: May 15, 2013
Soul Mate Publishing
Formats: eBook, Paperback
# of Pages: 282
Genre: Historical Romance
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Buy the Book

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository
IndieBound

 

Praise for Music For My Soul

“Told with humor, heartache, loveable characters and plenty of adventure, this is a story that grabs your attention from the first page and holds you captive until the very end. Much like real life, MUSIC FOR MY SOUL is a mixture of ups and downs along with a few surprises thrown in just to keep you on your toes.” -Romance Junkies, Reviewer Chrissy Dionne

“This story takes a wonderful turn into the seldom explored topic of the life of traveling mummers and musicians. Placing the heroine between the line of aristocracy and commonality is also a stroke of creative genius that makes for a delightful breath of fresh reading air! The characters are created and developed with a fine touch, making the story both believable and enjoyable.” -InD’tale Magazine, Reviewer Ruth Lynn Ritter

“This is a marvelous and intricate story of desperation, escape, finding love…also of forgiveness,mystery, danger, and righting old wrongs! The tale is incredibly well told with some humor as well as a building romance. The characters are loveable, some you can hate, and some are comic…a little bit of everything! Lauren Linwood is a wonderful writer with a fantastic imagination. I hope this is only the beginning of many wonderful tales. Believe me, it’s hard to put this one down. I found myself awake until the wee hours of the morning because I just had to know what was going to happen!” -The Reading Café, Reviewer Georgianna S

Lauren Linwood became a teacher who wrote on the side to maintain her sanity in a sea of teenage hormones. Her romances use history as a backdrop to place her characters in extraordinary circumstances, where their intense desire and yearning for one another grow into the deep, tender, treasured gift of love.
Lauren, a native Texan, lives in a Dallas suburb with her family. An avid reader, moviegoer, and sports fan, she manages stress by alternating yoga with five mile walks. She is thinking about starting a support group for Pinterest and House Hunters addicts.

For more information please visit Lauren’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.



Music for My Soul Blog Tour Schedule


Monday, October 6
Interview at Mythical Books
Tuesday, October 7
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, October 8
Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing
Thursday, October 9
Spotlight at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Friday, October 10
Review at Tea and Inspiration
Tuesday, October 14
Spotlight & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection
Thursday, October 16
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Friday, October 17
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Saturday, October 18
Review at A Cup of Tea & A Big Book
Thursday, October 23
Review at The Lit Bitch
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter
Friday, October 24
Review at Devilishly Delicious Book Blog
Guest Post at Historical Romantic Lovers


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Review & Giveaway: Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn

New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn returns with a Jazz Age tale of grand adventure…

On the verge of a stilted life as an aristocrat’s wife, Poppy Hammond does the only sensible thing—she flees the chapel in her wedding gown. Assisted by the handsome curate who calls himself Sebastian Cantrip, she spirits away to her estranged father’s quiet country village, pursued by the family she left in uproar. But when the dust of her broken engagement settles and Sebastian disappears under mysterious circumstances, Poppy discovers there is more to her hero than it seems.

With only her feisty lady’s maid for company, Poppy secures employment and travels incognita—east across the seas, chasing a hunch and the whisper of clues. Danger abounds beneath the canopies of the silken city, and Poppy finds herself in the perilous sights of those who will stop at nothing to recover a fabled ancient treasure. Torn between allegiance to her kindly employer and a dashing, shadowy figure, Poppy will risk it all as she attempts to unravel a much larger plan—one that stretches to the very heart of the British government, and one that could endanger everything, and everyone, that she holds dear.

Publication Date: October 1, 2014
Harlequin MIRA
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction
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*****

 "I had a habit of engaging in what Mother called Inappropriate Conversation.  The trouble was, I never realized I was doing it until after the fact. I was always far too busy enjoying myself."

I've never read anything  by Deanna Raybourn before, realizing her Lady Julia Grey was a series I shied away from them, seriously I really don't need to start another series. I jumped at the chance to be part of this book tour, especially since this is a stand alone and I really wanted to check this author out.

Be sure to read my previous post, which is an excerpt from this book.  Poppy Hammond is a character, she is spunky, snarky at times and there is never a dull moment when she is around.  I won't do a play by play as to what happens in this book except to say that once she escapes her wedding she is off to the Middle East in search of her rescuer.

I loved the authors writing style.  The bantering conversations were so real and had me laughing out loud many a time.  Action scenes weren't choppy, her descriptive settings were vivid and realistic, there was no problem visualizing the settings.

I was thoroughly entertained with this book right from the get go, I was drawn in and engaged right to the end.  Forget what I said at the beginning of this reviews about not wanting to start another series, Silent from the Grave is already loaded on my kindle.

"There was an element of game to it all, like a chess match with an unseen opponent, pitting one's wits against another's.  But there would be no civilized handshake at the end of this, no cordial goodbyes.  There would be winners and losers, and the the stakes were death."

Buy the Book

Amazon (Kindle)
Amazon (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble (Nook)
Barnes & Noble (Paperback)
Books-a-Million
iTunes
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A sixth-generation native Texan, Deanna Raybourn grew up in San Antonio, where she met her college sweetheart. She married him on her graduation day and went on to teach high school English and history. During summer vacation at the age of twenty-three, she wrote her first novel. After three years as a teacher, Deanna left education to have a baby and pursue writing full-time.

Deanna Raybourn is the author of the bestselling and award-winning Lady Julia series, as well as, The Dead Travel Fast, A Spear of Summer Grass, and City of Jasmine.

For more information please visit Deanna Raybourn’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

 

  Night of a Thousand Stars Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 29
Review & Giveaway at Bookish
Tuesday, September 30
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, October 1
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Spotlight at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Thursday, October 2
Review at Ramblings From This Chick
Friday, October 3
Review at Book Babe
Monday, October 6
Review at Unabridged Chick
Spotlight & Giveaway at Reading Lark
Tuesday, October 7
Review at Candace’s Book Blog
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, October 8
Review at Good Books and Good Wine
Thursday, October 9
Excerpt at A Book Geek
Guest Post & Giveaway at Good Books and Good Wine
Friday, October 10
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Monday, October 13
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, October 14
Review at Reading the Past
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Wednesday, October 15
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Thursday, October 16
Review at A Bookish Affair
Friday, October 17
Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Monday, October 20
Review at The Life & Times of a Book Addict
Excerpt at Historical Fiction Connection
Tuesday, October 21
Review & Giveaway at Bookshelf Fantasies
Spotlight & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing
Wednesday, October 22
Review, Excerpt & Giveaway at Just One More Chapter
Thursday, October 23
Review at Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Friday, October 24
Review at Curling Up By the Fire
Monday, October 27
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Tuesday, October 28
Review at To Read or Not to Read
Wednesday, October 29
Review & Giveaway at Bibliophilia, Please
Thursday, October 30
Review & Giveaway at Historical Tapestry

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Excerpt: Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn

Grab yourself a cup of tea, put you feet up and read this excerpt (links to purchase are at the end, because you will want to read the rest of the book when you finish :)



March 1920

“I say, if you’re running away from your wedding, you’re going about it quite wrong.”

I paused with my leg out the window, satin wedding gown hitched up above my knees. A layer of tulle floated over my face, obscuring my view. I shoved it aside to find a tall, bespectacled young man standing behind me. His expression was serious, but there was an unmistakable gleam in his eyes that was distinctly at odds with his clerical garb.
 “Oh! Are you the curate? I know you can’t be the vicar. I met him last night at the rehearsal and he’s simply ancient. Looks like Methuselah’s godfather. You’re awfully young to be a priest, aren’t you?” I asked, narrowing my eyes at him.
“But I’m wearing a dog collar. I must be,” he protested. “And as I said, if you’re running away, you’ve gone about it quite stupidly.”
“I have not,” I returned hotly. “I managed to elude both my mother and my future mother-in-law, and if you think that was easy, I’d like to sell you a bridge in Brooklyn.”
“Brooklyn? Where on earth is that?”
I rolled my eyes heavenward. “New York. Where I live.”
“You can’t be American. You speak properly.”
“My parents are English and I was educated here—oh, criminy, I don’t have time for this!” I pushed my head out the window, but to my intense irritation, he pulled me back, his large hands gently crushing the puffed sleeves of my gown.
“You haven’t thought this through, have you? You can get out the window easily enough, but what then? You can’t exactly hop on the Underground dressed like that. And have you money for a cab?”
“I—” I snapped my mouth shut, thinking furiously. “No, I haven’t. I thought I’d just get away first and worry about the rest of it later.”
“As I said, not a very good plan. Where are you bound, anyway?”
I said nothing. My escape plan was not so much a plan as a desperate flight from the church as soon as I heard the organist warming up the Mendelssohn. I was beginning to see the flaw in that thinking thanks to the helpful curate. “Surely you don’t intend to go back to the hotel?” he went on. “All your friends and relations will go there straight away when they realise you’ve gone missing. And since your stepfather is Reginald Hammond—”
I brandished my bouquet at him, flowers snapping on their slender stems. “Don’t finish that sentence, I beg you. I know exactly what will happen if the newspapers get hold of the story. Fine. I need a place to lie low, and I have one, I think, but I will need a ride.” I stared him down. “Do you have a motorcar?”
He looked startled. “Well, yes, but—”
“Excellent. You can drive me.”
“See here, Miss Hammond, I don’t usually make a habit of helping runaway brides to abscond. After all, from what I hear Mr. Madderley is a perfectly nice fellow. You might be making a frightful mistake, and how would it look to the bishop if I aided and abetted—”
“Never mind!” I said irritably. I poked my head through the window again, and this time when he retrieved me he was almost smiling, although a slim line of worry still threaded between his brows.
“All right then, I surrender. Where are you going?”
I pointed in the direction I thought might be west. “To Devon.”
He raised his brows skyward. “You don’t ask for much, do you?”
“I’ll go on my own then,” I told him, setting my chin firmly. Exactly how, I had no idea, but I could always think of that later.
He seemed to be wrestling with something, but a sound at the door decided him. “Time to get on. My motorcar is parked just in the next street. I’ll drive you to Devon.”
I gave him what I hoped was a dazzling smile. “Oh, you are a lamb, the absolute bee’s knees!”
“No, I’m not. But we won’t quarrel about that now. I locked the door behind me but someone’s rattling the knob, and I give them about two minutes before they find the key. Out you go, Miss Hammond.”
Without a further word, he shoved me lightly through the window and I landed in the shrubbery. I smothered a few choice words as I bounced out of his way. He vaulted over the windowsill and landed on his feet—quite athletically for a clergyman.
“That was completely uncalled-for—” I began, furiously plucking leaves out of the veil.
He grabbed my hand and I stopped talking, as surprised by the gesture as the warmth of his hand.
“Come along, Miss Hammond. I think I hear your mother,” he said.
I gave a little shriek and began to run. At the last moment, I remembered the bouquet—a heavy, spidery affair of lilies and ivy that I detested. I flung it behind us, laughing as I ran.


“I shouldn’t have laughed,” I said mournfully. We were in the motorcar—a chic little affair painted a startling shade of bright blue—and the curate was weaving his way nimbly through the London traffic. He seemed to be listening with only half an ear.
“What was that?”
“I said I shouldn’t have laughed. I mean, I feel relieved, enormously so, if I’m honest, but then there’s Gerald. One does feel badly about Gerald.”
“Why? Will you break his heart?”
“What an absurd question,” I said, shoving aside the veil so I could look the curate fully in the face. “And what a rude one.” I lapsed into near-silence, muttering to myself as I unpicked the pins that held the veil in place. “I don’t know,” I said after a while. “I mean, Gerald is so guarded, so English, it’s impossible to tell. He might be gutted. But he might not. He’s just such a practical fellow—do you understand? Sometimes I had the feeling he had simply ticked me off a list.”
“A list?” The curate dodged the little motorcar around an idling lorry, causing a cart driver to abuse him loudly. He waved a vague apology and motored on. For a curate, he drove with considerable flair.
“Yes. You know—the list of things all proper English gentlemen are expected to do. Go to school, meet a suitable girl, get married, father an heir and a spare, shoot things, die quietly.”
“Sounds rather grim when you put it like that.”
“It is grim, literally so in Gerald’s case. He has a shooting lodge in Norfolk called Grimfield. It’s the most appalling house I’ve ever seen, like something out of a Brontë novel. I half expected to find a mad wife locked up in the attic or Heathcliff abusing someone in the stables.”
“Did you?”
“No, thank heaven. Nothing but furniture in the attic and horses in the stables. Rather disappointingly prosaic, as it happens. But the point is, men like Gerald have their lives already laid out for them in a tidy little pattern. And I’m, well, I’m simply not tidy.” I glanced at the interior of the motorcar. Books and discarded wellies fought for space with a spare overcoat and crumpled bits of greaseproof paper—the remains of many sandwich suppers, it seemed. “You’re untidy too, I’m glad to see. I always think a little disorder means a creative mind. And I have dreams of my own, you know.” I paused then hurried on, hoping he wouldn’t think to ask what those dreams might be. I couldn’t explain them to him; I didn’t even understand them myself. “I realised with Gerald, my life would always take second place. I would be his wife, and eventually Viscountess Madderley, and then I would die. In the meantime I would open fêtes and have his children and perhaps hold a memorable dinner party or two, but what else? Nothing. I would have walked into that church today as Penelope Hammond and walked out as the Honourable Mrs. Gerald Madderley, and no one would have remembered me except as a footnote in the chronicles of the Madderley family.”
“Quite the existential crisis,” he said lightly. I nodded.
“Precisely. I’m very glad you understand these things.” I looked around again. “I don’t suppose you have a cigarette lying about anywhere? I'd very much like one.”
He gestured towards the glovebox and I helped myself. As soon as I opened it, an avalanche of business cards, tickets, receipts and even a prayer book fell out. I waved a slip of paper at him. “You haven’t paid your garage bill,” I told him. “Second notice.”
He smiled and pocketed the paper. “Slipped my mind. I’ll take care of it tomorrow.”
I shoveled the rest of the detritus back into the glovebox, and he produced a packet of matches. I lit a cigarette and settled back then gave a little shriek of dismay. “Heavens, where are my manners? I forgot to ask if you wanted one.”
He shook his head. “I don’t indulge.”
I cocked my head. “But you keep them around?”
“One never knows when they’ll be in demand,” he said. "How long have you had the habit?"
"Oh, I don't. It just seems the sort of thing a runaway bride ought to do. I'll be notorious now, you know."
        I gave the unlit cigarette a sniff. "Heavens, that's foul. I think I shall have to find a different vice." I dropped the cigarette back into the packet.
        He smiled but said nothing and we lapsed into a comfortable silence.
I studied him—from the unlined, rather noble brow to the shabby, oversized suit of clothes with the shiny knees and the unpolished shoes. There was something improbable about him, as if in looking at him one could add two and two and never make four. There was an occasional, just occasional, flash from his dark eyes that put me in mind of a buccaneer. He was broad-shouldered and athletic, but the spectacles and occupation hinted he was bookish.
There were other contradictions as well, I observed. Being a curate clearly didn’t pay well, but the car was mint. Perhaps he came from family money, I surmised. Or perhaps he had a secret gambling habit. I gave him a piercing look. “You don’t smoke. Do you have other vices? Secret sins? I adore secrets.”
Another fellow might have taken offence but he merely laughed. “None worth talking about. Besides, we were discussing you. Tell me,” he said, smoothly negotiating a roundabout and shooting the motorcar out onto the road towards Devon, “What prompted this examination of your feelings? It couldn’t be just the thought of marrying him. You’ve had months to accustom yourself to the notion of being the future Viscountess Madderley. Why bolt now?”
I hesitated, feeling my cheeks grow warm. “Well, I might as well tell you. You are a priest, after all. It would be nice to talk about it, and since you’re bound by the confessional, it would be perfectly safe to tell you because if you ever tell anyone you’ll be damned forever.”
His lips twitched as if he were suppressing a smile. “That isn’t exactly how it works, you know.”
I flapped a hand. “Close enough. I always had doubts about Gerald, if I’m honest. Ever since he asked me to dance at the Crichlows’ Christmas ball during the little season. He was just so staid, as if someone had washed him in starch rather than his clothes. But there were flashes of something more. Wit or kindness or gentleness, I suppose. Things I thought I could bring out in him.” I darted the curate a glance. “I see now how impossibly stupid that was. You can’t change a man. Not unless he wants changing, and what man wants changing? The closer the wedding got, the more nervous I became and I couldn’t imagine why I wasn’t entirely over the moon about marrying Gerald. And then my aunt sent me a book that made everything so clear.”
“What book?”
“Mrs. Stopes’ book, Married Love.”
“Oh, God.” He swerved and neatly corrected, but not before I gave him a searching look.
“I’ve shocked you.” Most people had heard of the book, but few had read it. It had been extensively banned for its forthright language and extremely modern—some would say indecent—ideas.
He hurried to reassure me. “No, no. Your aunt shocked me. I wouldn’t imagine most ladies would send an affianced bride such a book.”
“My aunt isn’t most ladies,” I said darkly. “She’s my father’s sister, and they’re all eccentric. They’re famous for it, and because they’re aristocrats, no one seems to mind. Of course, Mother nearly had an apoplexy when she found the book, but I’d already read it by that point, and I knew what I had to do.”
“And what was that?”
“I had to seduce Gerald.”
This time the curate clipped the edge of a kerb, bouncing us hard before he recovered himself and steered the motorcar back onto the road.
“I shocked you again,” I said sadly.
“Not in the slightest,” he assured me, his voice slightly strangled. He cleared his throat, adopting a distinctly paternal tone in spite of his youth. “Go on, child.”
“Well, it was rather more difficult to arrange than I’d expected. No one seems to want to leave you alone when you’re betrothed, which is rather silly because whatever you get up to can’t be all that bad because you’re with the person you’re going to be getting up to it with once you’re married, and it’s all right then. And isn’t it peculiar that just because a priest says a few words over your head, the thing that was sinful and wrong is suddenly perfectly all right? No offence to present company.”
“None taken. It does indeed give one pause for thought. You were saying?”
“Oh, the arrangements. Well, I couldn’t manage it until a fortnight ago. By that time I was fairly seething with impatience. I’m sorry—did you say something?”
“Not at all. It was the mental image of you seething with impatience. It was rather distracting.”
“Oh, I am sorry. Should we postpone this discussion for another time? When you’re not driving perhaps?”
“No, indeed. I promise you this is the most interesting discussion I’ve had in a very long while.”
“And you’re still not shocked?” I asked him. I was feeling a bit anxious on that point. I had a habit of engaging in what Mother called Inappropriate Conversation. The trouble was, I never realised I was doing it until after the fact. I was always far too busy enjoying myself.
“Not in the slightest. Continue—you were seething.”
“Yes, I was in an absolute fever, I was so anxious. We were invited to the Madderleys’ main estate in Kent—a sort of ‘getting to know you’ affair between the Madderleys and the Hammonds. It was very gracious of Gerald’s mother to suggest it, although now that I think about it, it wasn’t so much about the families getting to know one another as about the viscount and my stepfather discussing the drains and the roofs and how far my dowry would go to repairing it all.”
I stopped to finish unpinning the veil and pulled it free, tearing the lace a little in my haste. I shoved my hands through my hair, ruffling up my curls and giving a profound sigh. “Oh, that’s better! Pity about the veil. That’s Belgian lace, you know. Made by nuns, although why nuns should want to make bridal veils is beyond me. Anyway, the gentlemen were discussing the money my dowry would bring to the estate, and the ladies were going on about the children we were going to have and what would be expected of me as the future viscountess. Do you know Gerald’s mother even hired my lady’s maid? Masterman, frightful creature. I’m terrified of her—she’s so efficient and correct. Anyway, I suddenly realised that was going to be the rest of my life—doing what was perfectly proper at all times and bearing just the right number of children—and I was so bored with it all I nearly threw myself in front of a train like Anna Karenina just to be done with it. I couldn’t imagine actually living in that draughty great pile of stone, eating off the same china the Madderleys have been using since the time of Queen Anne. But I thought it would all be bearable if Gerald and I were compatible in the Art of Love.”
“The Art of Love?”
“That’s what Mrs. Stopes called it in Married Love. She says that no matter what differences a couple might have in religion or politics or social customs, if they are compatible in the Art of Love, all may be adjusted.”
“I see.” He sounded strangled again.
“So, one night after everyone had retired, I crept to Gerald’s room and insisted we discover if we were mutually compatible.”
“And were you?
“No,” I said flatly. “I thought it was my fault at first. But I chose the date so carefully to make sure my sex-tide would be at its highest.”
“Your sex-tide?”
“Yes. Really, you ought to know these things if you mean to counsel your parishioners. The achievement of perfect marital harmony only comes with an understanding of the sex-tides—the ebb and flow of a person’s desires and inclinations for physical pleasure.”
He cleared his throat lavishly. “Oh, the sex-tides. Of course.”
“In any event, Gerald and I were most definitely not compatible.” I paused then plunged on. “To begin with, he wouldn’t even take off his pyjamas when we were engaged in the Act of Love.”
The curate’s lips twitched into a small smile. “Now that shocks me.”
“Doesn’t it? What sort of man wants a barrier of cloth between himself and the skin of his beloved? I have read the Song of Solomon, you know. It’s a very informative piece of literature and it was quite explicit with all the talk of breasts like twin fawns and eating of the secret honeycomb and honey. I presume you’ve read the Song of Solomon? It is in the Bible, after all.”
“It is,” he agreed. “Quite the most interesting book, if you ask me.” Again there was a flash of something wicked as he shot me a quick look. “So, was your betrothed a young god with legs like pillars of marble and a body like polished ivory?”
I pulled a face. “He was not. That was a very great disappointment, let me tell you. And then it was over with so quickly—I mean, I scarcely had time to get accustomed to the strangeness of it because, let’s be frank, there is something so frightfully silly about doing that, although you probably don’t know yourself, being a member of the clergy and all. But before I could quite get a handle on things, it was finished.”
“Finished?” he said, his hands tight on the steering wheel.
“Finished. At least, Gerald was,” I added sulkily. “He gave a great shudder and made an odd sort of squeaking sound.”
“Squeaking sound?”
“Yes.” I tipped my head, thinking. “Like a rabbit that’s just seen a fox. And then he rolled over and went to sleep just like that.”
“Philistine,” he pronounced.
“Then you do understand! How important the physical side of marriage is, I mean. Particularly with a husband like Gerald. One would need a satisfactory time in the bedroom to make up for—” I clapped a hand to my mouth. He smiled then, indulgently, and I dropped my hand, but I still felt abashed. “Oh, that was unkind. Gerald has many sterling attributes. Sterling,” I assured him.
Sterling is what one wants out of one’s silver. Not a husband,” he said mildly.
I sighed in contentment. “You are good at this. You understand. And you haven’t made me feel guilty over the sin of it, although you mustn’t tell anyone, but I don’t really believe in sin at all. I know that’s a wicked thing to say, but I think all God really expects is a little common sense and kindness out of us. Surely He’s too busy to keep a tally of all our misdeeds. That would make Him nothing more than a sort of junior clerk with a very important sense of Himself, wouldn’t it?”
“I suppose.”
“Oh, I know you can’t agree with me. You make your career on sin, just as much as anybody who sells liquor or naughty photographs. Sin is your bread and butter.”
“You have a unique way of looking at the world, Miss Hammond.”
“I think it’s because I’ve been so much on my own,” I told him after a moment. “I’ve had a lot of time to think things over.”
“Why have you been so much on your own?” he asked. His voice was gentler than it had been, and the air of perpetual amusement had been replaced by something kinder, and it seemed as if he were genuinely interested. It was a novel situation for me. Most people who wanted to talk to me did so because of my stepfather’s money.
“Oh, didn’t you know? Apparently it was a bit of a scandal at the time. It was in all the newspapers and of course they raked it all up again when I became engaged to Gerald. My parents divorced, and Mother took me to America when she left my father. I was an infant at the time, and apparently he let her take me because he knew it would utterly break her heart to leave me behind. He stayed in England and she went off to America We’re practically strangers, Father and I. He’s always been a bit of a sore spot to Mother, even though she did quite well out of it all. She married Mr. Hammond—Reginald. He’s a lovely man, but rather too interested in golf.”
“Lots of gentlemen play,” he remarked. His hands were relaxed again, and he opened the car up a little, guiding it expertly as we fairly flew down the road.
“Oh, Reginald doesn’t just play. He builds golf courses. Designing them amuses him, and after he made his millions in copper, he decided to travel around the world, building golf courses. Places like Florida, the Bahamas. He’s quite mad about the game—he even named his yacht the Gutta-Percha, even though no one uses gutta-percha balls anymore.”
He shook his head as if to clear it and I gave him a sympathetic look. “Do you need me to read maps or something? It must be fatiguing to drive all this way.”
“The conversation is keeping me entirely alert,” he promised.
“Oh, good. Where was I?”
“Reginald Hammond doesn’t have gutta-percha balls,” he replied solemnly. If he had been one of my half-brothers, I would have suspected him of making an indelicate joke, but his face was perfectly solemn.
“No one does,” I assured him. “Anyway, he’s a lovely man but he isn’t really my father. And when the twins came along, and then the boys, well, they had their own family, didn’t they? It was nothing to do with me.” I fell silent a moment then pressed on, adopting a firmly cheerful tone. “Still, it hasn’t been so bad. I thoroughly enjoyed coming back here to go to school, and I have found my father.”
“You’ve seen him?” he asked quickly.
“No. But I made some inquiries, and I know where he is. He’s a painter,” I told him. I was rather proud of the little bit of detection I had done to track him down. “We wrote letters for a while, but he travelled extensively—looking for subjects to paint, I suppose. He gave me a London address in Half Moon Street to send the letters, but he didn’t actually live there. You know, it’s quite sad, but I always felt so guilty when his letters came. Mother would take to her bed with a bottle of reviving tonic every time she saw his handwriting in the post. I didn’t dare ask to invite him to the wedding. She would have shrieked the house down, and it did seem rather beastly to Reginald since he was paying for it. Still, it is peculiar to have an entire family I haven’t met. Some of them kept in touch—my Aunt Portia, for one. She sent me the copy of Married Love. When I came to England for the little season, I asked her where Father was. She promised not to tell him I’d asked, but she sent me his address. He has a house in Devon. He likes the light there, something about it being good for his work.”
“I see.”
“It’s very kind of you to drive me,” I said, suddenly feeling rather shy with this stranger to whom I had revealed entirely too much. “Oh!” I sat up very straight. “I don’t even know your name.”
“Sebastian. My name is Sebastian Cantrip.”
“Cantrip? That’s an odd name,” I told him.
“No odder than Penelope.”
I laughed. “It’s Greek, I think. My mother’s choice. She thought it sounded very elegant and educated. But my father called me Poppy.”
Sebastian slanted me a look. “It suits you better.”
“I think so, but when I was presented as a debutante, Mother insisted on calling me Penelope Hammond. Hammond isn’t my legal name, you know. It gave me quite a start to see the name on the invitations to the wedding. Mr. and Mrs. Reginald Hammond cordially invite you to the wedding of their daughter, Penelope Hammond. But I’m not Penelope Hammond, not really.” I lifted my chin towards the road rising before us. “I’m Poppy March.”

 

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