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Excerpt & Giveaway: Embolden by Syrie James and Ryan James


Hi, dear readers. It’s that time again to welcome back to the blog Syrie James, but this time, she’s got an excerpt from her second novel in a series she’s writing with her son, Ryan James. The first novel, Forbidden, will be up for grabs after you hear about Embolden, which will come out Oct. 30 but is available for pre-order now.

About the Book:

The world is trying to tear them apart.
Will they stand together and fight back?

After a season of psychic visions and super-powered drama, Claire Brennan and her angel-gone-AWOL boyfriend Alec MacKenzie can finally be together. Under the protection of Claire’s grandmother, they are trying to lead a normal life, going to high school at Emerson Academy and hanging out with their friends.

But jealous teenagers, vengeful enemies, the city’s new Watcher, and even the school play threaten to break them apart. Not to mention Claire’s surprising second power, which could sabotage the trust of everyone she holds dear. And just when they need to stick together, they finally get a lead on where Claire’s missing father might be.

The threats, which come not only from without but also from within, will test the strength of Alec and Claire’s relationship. Is the love they share enough to keep them safe? If they want to stay together … can they learn to fight together?

Here’s an excerpt from book 2 in the series from Chapter 6:

Six

“I wish Brian would get his head out of his ass.” Claire was standing with Alec by his vintage car in the junior parking lot, his arms around her.

“Is that what you really want? The two of them together?”

“She’s my best friend. I want her to have what she wants.”

“If it’s right, it’ll happen.”

“Since when did you become Dr. Phil?”

Alec smiled into her eyes. “I’m not. But I’m learning. Slowly.” He kissed her. Also slowly.

It was a lovely kiss. As always, Claire’s heart fluttered. When the kiss ended, she gallantly opened the door to his Mustang and waited until he was seated inside. “Drive safe.”

“You too. We’ll talk tonight.”

As Alec drove off, Claire crossed the lot to where her own car was parked, unable to hold back her smile. Having Helena in their lives had certainly come with some great benefits.

Besides having her long-lost Grigori grandmother around all the time, which Claire loved, money was no longer a problem. Claire’s tuition was paid in full (no more stressing about her grades to keep a scholarship), and they’d moved into a luxury condo in Brentwood, just a five-minute drive from school. That meant a little extra sleep every morning, which Claire really appreciated after her late-night video chats with Alec.

And with Helena’s seemingly limitless bank account, Claire could at last have a car of her own, like everybody else at Emerson. But not just any car. It was a brand-new Acura hybrid with a garnet metallic finish, a top-notch sound system, and all the bells and whistles a girl could want.

Claire unlocked the door, heaved her backpack into the rear, and settled on the smooth leather seat behind the wheel. The space was so snug and the instrument panel so cool, it felt like she was in the cockpit of her own private airplane. The car—her car—made her feel grown-up, which was both exciting and intimidating.

As she stuck her key in the ignition, the sound of a man clearing his throat beside her was so startling, she shrieked. She turned her head to find a man sitting in the passenger seat. A man who had definitely not been there a second before.

“Holy shit!” Claire’s stomach jumped in fear as her hand moved to the door handle. “Get out of my car!”

“I’m sorry if I frightened you, Miss Brennan. I’m not going to hurt you. There’s no need for a fuss.”

Claire hesitated, some instinct making her think he was telling the truth. Maybe it was the man’s eyes: they weren’t menacing, but rather appraising, reassuring, and very, very tired.

She struggled to control the beating of her heart as she studied him. He was slender, with a long, smooth face augmented by a hint of a goatee, and everything about him was pale, from his white skin, to his blond hair, to those eyes, which were the gray of an overcast sky. He wore a white turtleneck with a beige blazer and washed-out jeans. His legs were so long that they looked cramped in her car.

“Damn right, there’s a need,” Claire said. “Who are you? What do you want? How did you get in here?”

“Locks aren’t a problem for me.”

That wasn’t exactly an answer to her questions. “You weren’t here when I got in the car.”

“Oh, but I was. I’ve been waiting for you for the past half hour.”

“That’s impossible.”

He gave her a small smile. Suddenly, all the color drained from his body, until it looked like he was made of ice, at which point he faded entirely from view.

Claire gasped, staring at the empty space where the man had been. He had totally, utterly vanished. Yet she sensed that he was still there. Definitely some Fallen witchcraft. “You’re one of them! Did Celeste send you?”

He reappeared. “No, child. I fight for the other side. I am the Watcher for this city.”

Claire nodded slowly. She remembered hearing Alec talk about the Grigori who watched over Los Angeles, policing its Fallen, and initiating newly awakened Nephilim. The one Vincent had temporarily replaced during the horrible events of last fall, when she had awakened. The authority figure Helena had to constantly check in with to confirm that Claire was walking the straight and narrow.

But far worse: the person most likely to discover Alec and ship him back to their Grigori brethren. When Claire spoke again, her voice was no more than a whisper. “You’re Zachariah.”

“So, you’ve heard of me.”

Claire’s heart pounded, but she just shrugged her shoulders, hoping to appear casual as she carefully chose her words. “Helena may have mentioned you once or twice.”

“I see.” Something buzzed in Zachariah’s pocket. He pulled out his cell phone and began texting as he spoke. “Please forgive my dramatic greeting, Miss Brennan, but as Emerson is a closed campus, I had little alternative.”

Claire studied him, aware that she had to keep this man on her side. “Am I in trouble?”

“Not at all. I’ve had you on my mind ever since I resumed my post, but this is the first time I’ve been able to fit you into my schedule. I’ve been meeting with Helena telepathically with regard to your progress, which is all positive. Well done.” He glanced at her. “But I thought it important that I meet you for myself, face-to-face.”

“Why? So you can see if my grandmother’s been telling the truth about me the past three months?”

Zachariah silently resumed texting, his expression betraying nothing.

I guess that answers that. Claire sighed. Clearly, he’d cornered her in her car so he could give her the third degree without Helena there to influence or protect her. “Okay. Great. We’ve met. Now what?”

He put his phone away and rubbed his eyes wearily. “Let’s take a little ride. I hope you don’t mind if I accompany you home?”

Claire’s jaw clenched. This was the last thing she wanted. A cold fear gripped her as she thought of all the times Alec had come over since Zachariah had returned to L.A. Thank God Zachariah had been too busy to worry about her until now. Otherwise, he could have been lurking (invisibly!) at school, in her old apartment, or the new condo. He would have recognized Alec on the spot and busted him. Good thing Alec hadn’t made plans to come over today.

Aloud, she said, “Do I have a choice?”

GIVEAWAY: 1 ePub copy of Forbidden by Syrie James and Ryan James; please comment by Oct. 30, 2018, 11:59 PM EST

About the Authors:

Syrie James is the bestselling author of twelve critically acclaimed novels translated into eighteen languages. Syrie loves paranormal romance and all things English and 19th century. Her books have been Library Journal Editor’s Picks and won numerous awards including the Audiobook Association Audie for Romance, Women’s National Book Association Great Group Read, B&N Romantic Read of the Week, Best Snowbound Romance (Bookbub), Best of the Year (Suspense Magazine and Romance Reviews), and Best First Novel (Library Journal). Syrie thoroughly enjoyed working with her son Ryan on Forbidden and Embolden, her only forays into novel co-writing. Syrie is a member of the Writers Guild of America, RWA, and JASNA, and has addressed audiences as a keynote speaker across America and England. A theater enthusiast, she has also written, directed, and performed in numerous stage productions. Her new Dare to Defy series of historical romances are now available from Avon Impulse.

Ryan M James has enjoyed co-writing not only Forbidden and Embolden with his mother Syrie, but also two screenplays as well. By day he works as a performance director, lead editor, and co-writer for the video game industry, recently being honored by the Writer’s Guild of America award for his work on Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. By night, he conjures stories for print, screen, and web, including an independent feature, a handful of short films, and the machinima webseries A Clone Apart. He, his brilliant wife, and their vertically-challenged corgi live in Los Angeles within walking distance of Syrie.

Syrie and Ryan both welcome visitors to their websites syriejames.com and ryanmjames.com, and invite you to follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

About Forbidden:

When Claire Brennan begins to get psychic visions and mysterious warnings that she’s in danger at the start of her junior year, she isn’t sure what to think. But the truth is stranger than anything she could have imagined.

Alec MacKenzie has fled his duties as a Watcher angel and come to L.A. in search of normalcy. He never dreamed he would find a half-angel at his school, or that he would fall in love with her.

Giveaway & Review: Pride & Proposals by Victoria Kincaid (audio)

Source: the author
Audible, 9+ hours
I am an Amazon Affiliate

**There will be an Audible giveaway**

Pride and Proposals by Victoria Kincaid, narrated by Erin Evans-Walker, places Mr. Darcy in an untenable situation, his Elizabeth engaged to Colonel Fitzwilliam. How can he reconcile the loss of the woman he loves to his beloved cousin and his need to see her happy? Could he endure it in silence? Would he run away? Would he fight to win her?

Elizabeth is unaware of Darcy’s feelings and seems to love Colonel Fitzwilliam and their like manners and easy way with one another makes their pairing endearing, even as Darcy is thrown into despair. Erin Evans-Walker does a commendable job of narrating the story, though there are moments where she makes Darcy seem very angry where the author may not have intended. There are moments where the action stalls and Darcy drinks overly much and scenes seem to repeat sentiments already expressed — Darcy’s despair at his loss of Elizabeth or Elizabeth commenting on how puzzling Darcy’s behavior is. While I love an independent Lizzy, I do wish she was a bit softer in this one, at least toward Darcy.

The entrance of Wickham kicked up the plot and made it much more engaging. Wickham is even more evil in this variation, and that makes the results of his machinations all the more satisfying. Pride and Proposals by Victoria Kincaid, narrated by Erin Evans-Walker, is a bumpy ride of loss for both Darcy and Elizabeth. An early death, a life as a wealthier single lady targeted by Wickham, and Darcy still unable to articulate his feelings, make this version a roller-coaster ride of emotion.  Darcy in this version is a bit tough to take and Elizabeth is a bit obtuse, though her struggle with her feelings for Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam are genuine.

RATING: Quatrain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

The author of numerous best-selling Pride and Prejudice variations, historical romance writer Victoria Kincaid has a Ph.D. in English literature and runs a small business, er, household with two children, a hyperactive dog, an overly affectionate cat, and a husband who is not threatened by Mr. Darcy. They live near Washington DC, where the inhabitants occasionally stop talking about politics long enough to complain about the traffic.

On weekdays she is a freelance writer/editor who specializes in IT marketing (it’s more interesting than it sounds) and teaches business writing. A lifelong Austen fan, Victoria has read more Jane Austen variations and sequels than she can count – and confesses to an extreme partiality for the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice. Visit her website. View her blog, visit her on Facebook, GoodReads, and on Amazon.

GIVEAWAY:

For those who wish to enter the giveaway, there will be 2 winners. One will receive an Audible of  Pride and Proposals and the other will receive The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth

Leave a comment and email below and a winner will be selected on Oct. 25, 2018, at 11:59 PM EST.

Good Luck!

Guest Post & Giveaway: Denver’s Progressive and Colorful Past by Elaine Russell

Today, I have a guest post from Elaine Russell, author of Across the Mekong River (my review) and Montana in A Minor (my review), who has a new novel forthcoming this month, In the Company of Like-Minded Women.

About the novel:

In the Company of Like-Minded Women explores the complexities of bonds between sisters and family at the start of the 20th century when women struggled to determine their future and the “New Woman” demanded an equal voice. Three sisters are reunited in 1901 Denver following a family rift many years before. Each sister faces critical decisions regarding love, work, and the strength of her convictions. The story is set against the backdrop of the fight for women’s rights.

Doesn’t this sound interesting? I love books that have roots in history, and this sounds dramatic.  Please give Elaine a warm welcome and stay tuned for a giveaway:

The increasingly shrill discourse and events of 2018 have heightened political divisions and revealed the distasteful behavior of many men in America. As a result, women are speaking out, running for political office, and fighting for social justice in greater numbers than ever before. I thoroughly enjoyed stepping back over a hundred years to write about another generation of brave women, who fought for women’s suffrage and other basic rights for women and children. These progressive advocates faced incredible opposition from men in power and moneyed business interests—just as women do today.

The inspiration for my new novel, In the Company of Like-Minded Women, originated with my paternal great grandmother, Dr. Elizabeth B. Russell. In 1907 she became one of the early women doctors in Denver, Colorado. In researching the era, I discovered Denver’s rich and colorful past, full of outspoken and accomplished women, along with others involved in more unsavory activities. A number of these famous and infamous women stood out, demanding a role in my story.

I chose to set the novel in 1901 at the start of a new century, a time of tremendous change and promise. More and more women were earning college degrees and entering male-dominated professions—not without considerable resistance from the men, of course! This mirrored the mounting fight for the women’s vote and major reforms to protect women and children from the grave injustices of the time. The industrial revolution had brought a number of time saving inventions for the home, such as washing machines and electric lights. Middle and upper class women had more free time and turned their attention to other endeavors. Women’s clubs thrived, organized for everything from literary and music appreciation to providing aid to the needy and advocating for social change.

Colorado led the charge on many fronts. Denver had transformed itself from a rough and tumble, Wild West center for Rocky Mountain mining towns into a mostly civilized city, known as the Queen of the Prairie. Progressive women from the three major political parties banded together to win a stunning victory in 1893, convincing a majority of the State’s men to approve a constitutional amendment granting women the vote—a full twenty-seven years before passage of national suffrage in America. Only the Territory of Wyoming had preceded Colorado in this bold move in 1869.

By 1901, the rest of the country watched with interest to see how women’s suffrage was playing out in Colorado, challenging women leaders to defend their accomplishments since obtaining access to the ballot box. I found it particularly heartening to learn how Republican, Democrat and Populist women continued to work together for national suffrage and social reform, often in opposition to their political parties.

In June 2016, I made my first ever visit to Denver. At the History Colorado Center’s Research Library and Denver Public Library’s Western History Section I poured through everything from newspapers, city directories, magazine articles, theater programs, and restaurant menus to individual collections of well-known women leaders, such as Ellis Meredith and Minnie Reynolds. What a thrill to read the original letters to Ms. Meredith from Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Lucy Stone. I visited the Molly Brown House Museum (the Unsinkable Molly Brown of Titanic fame) and toured neighborhoods where houses from that era are still in use.

My research revealed a treasure trove of fascinating people, places, and events, a wealth of material for my story. Denver had a booming red light district with houses of ill repute run by notorious madams like Mattie Silks. Denver police and city officials turned a blind eye after receiving generous “donations” from the madams. Denver’s Chinatown was known for its laundries where many Denver residents brought their washing. But the small community was better known for Hop Alley—hop being a term for opium—attracting many of Denver’s well-to-do men and women to opium dens and gambling parlors. Denver’s more refined side included, among others, the grand Tabor Opera House (unfortunately long gone), the still popular Brown Palace Hotel, and the Union Railroad Station.

The biggest task was figuring out how to integrate the diverse elements of Denver’s past into a story that painted an accurate picture of the era and the lives of my characters. For me, the writing process is a bit of magic, as pieces suddenly fall into place in ways I never anticipated.

About the Author:

Elaine Russell is the award winning author of the novel Across the Mekong River and a number of children’s books, including the young adult novel Montana in A Minor, the Martin McMillan middle grade mystery series, and the middle grade picture book, All About Thailand. Her new novel, In the Company of Like-Minded Women, comes out this month. Elaine lives with her husband in Northern California and part time on the Island of Kauai. See her website.

GIVEAWAY:

Please leave a comment below with an email so I can contact you. Leave your comment by Oct. 24, 2018, at 11:59 PM EST. You can win 1 Kindle copy of In the Company of Like-Minded Women.

**For another chance to win, visit Diary of an Eccentric.

Q&A and Giveaway: The Tourist Trail by John Yunker

Ashland Creek Press has a giveaway for my dear readers after the Q&A with John Yunker. I hope that you’ll give him a warm welcome and check out his new environmental thriller, The Tourist Trail.

About the Book:

The Tourist Trail is a literary thriller about endangered species in the world’s most remote areas, and those who put their lives on the line to protect them.

Biologist Angela Haynes is accustomed to dark, lonely nights as one of the few humans at a penguin research station in Patagonia.

She has grown used to the cries of penguins before dawn, to meager supplies and housing, to spending most of her days in one of the most remote regions on earth. What she isn’t used to is strange men washing ashore, which happens one day on her watch.

The man won’t tell her his name or where he came from, but Angela, who has a soft spot for strays, tends to him, if for no other reason than to protect her birds and her work. When she later learns why he goes by an alias, why he is a refugee from the law, and why he is a man without a port, she begins to fall in love—and embarks on a journey that takes her deep into Antarctic waters, and even deeper into the emotional territory she thought she’d left behind.

Against the backdrop of the Southern Ocean, The Tourist Trail weaves together the stories of Angela as well as FBI agent Robert Porter, dispatched on a mission that unearths a past he would rather keep buried; and Ethan Downes, a computer tech whose love for a passionate animal rights activist draws him into a dangerous mission.

Please welcome, John Yunker:

The Tourist Trail was released by Ashland Creek Press in 2010. What has and has not changed in the past eight years in terms of animal protection in the regions you write about?

Sadly, not very much has changed. Japan still hunts whales, as does Iceland. Fortunately, the Sea Shepherd Society, the inspiration for the Cetacean Defense Alliance (CDA) organization in the book, continues to fight back. As for the penguins, Argentina has made some efforts to protect them at sea, but their numbers continue to decline. The fishing industry continues to extract entirely too much from the oceans, including penguins that are caught up in nets and on longlines.

You’ll be going to Argentina with Adventures by the Book in October to take readers to visit the Magellanic penguin colony that inspired the novel. What are you looking forward to sharing with readers on this journey?

I’m most looking forward to the sounds the penguins make. They (and a few other penguin species) are often referred to as “jackass” penguins for the noises they emit. And it can be quite a chorus during breeding season. Seeing them in their element — standing in or alongside windswept, dirt burros — is an experience that will stick with you. It certainly has with me.

You write in many genres — fiction, nonfiction, plays — and yet your works usually focus on animals. Why are you drawn toward animal themes?

Humans have used animals for thousands of years — for food, labor, entertainment. It’s time the animals got much-deserved break. Much of what I write centers around the conflicted and slowly evolving relationships between humans and animals, and I’d clearly like to see that relationship continue to evolve, and rapidly. I’d like to see animals, and not just the animals we keep in our homes, treated with empathy. They’ve earned it.

The Tourist Trail is set in some of the most remote places on earth — Antarctica, Arctic Norway, the Patagonia region of Argentina. For readers who love the animals and their human heroes in your novel, what can they do from where they live to help animals and the planet?

First, stop eating seafood. The only way to put an end to fishing is to put an end to demand. It’s simple, really. And, honestly, seafood is no good for anyone. The oceans are polluted, fishing practices are dangerous, and you can’t even be confident that the seafood you purchase, no matter what the label says, is sustainable. Due to 90 percent of the oceans having already been depleted, here is no such thing as sustainable seafood. Second, try to give up eating meat. I know it’s not easy for many people — I certainly never imagined I would one day give it up. But once
you do, it’s really not a big deal, and it does so much good for the planet and for the animals. There are plenty of health benefits for doing so as well.

The sequel to The Tourist Trail, WHERE OCEANS HIDE THEIR DEAD, comes out in February. What can readers expect from this new novel?

This book picks up where The Tourist Trail leaves off, with Robert in Namibia searching for Noa. But there are new characters as well, and a story that will transport readers from Africa to Iowa to New Zealand to Australia. It is a darker novel than the first, but more ambitious, and I
hope readers will enjoy the journey.

Thank you, John.

Please enter below for 1 print copy of The Tourist Trail. U.S. addresses only. Deadline for comments is Oct. 1, 2018, at 11:59 PM EST.

Giveaway & Interview with Liz from In Good Conscience by Cat Gardiner

I’m gobbling up the final Cat Gardiner adventure with Iceman Fitzwilliam Darcy and his leading lady, Liz. You’ll have to wait for my review!

As part of her kick-off blog tour, I had a unique opportunity to interview Liz about her life and the adventure.

Don’t worry there’s an international giveaway for my readers, too.

Please give Liz a warm welcome.

I’m seated here with Liz Darcy, on her private balcony overlooking a magnificent estate. Imagine my surprise when, after only a few days following her dangerous trip to Europe, she consented to an exclusive interview just for my Savvy readers. There’s a certain twinkle to her eye, even a quirk to her lips like she’s holding onto a doozy of a secret beyond the private plane and the secrecy of our locale. She’s radiating an inner joy. Maybe its love or maybe it’s something else. Don’t worry, friends, I’ll find out!

Hi Liz, how are you today? I’m dying to ask how your life has changed for the good and bad since meeting Iceman?

Hi, Serena! I’m really honored that you’d want to get to know me and Fitzwilliam a little more. Most people want to know about the dangerous adventures we’ve taken, so this is refreshing. I’m sorry we had to blindfold you when you got off the Cessna, but I’m sure you understand—we’re still working out the security details having only just arrived ourselves.

I do understand you’ve been through a lot recently. It’s quite an estate!

It is gorgeous here—isn’t it? I don’t think I’ve ever been happier! *grins*. This setting—this place—I have goose pimples!

Albeit, there were a few months there where we’d been sort of hiding out following Paris and Moscow, and, of course danger wasn’t far behind, but that time secluded in Pemberley with Fitzwilliam was a blissful paradise. And if you can believe it, it’s already promising to be even better after the hell we’ve been through!

*Shrugs* Dark clouds messed up this past summer, but, now … I love it here with him, and honestly, there’s not much that I’d consider bad anymore—not even the fact that he still leaves the toilet seat up and that he hangs the t.p roll the wrong way. He’ll always adore his head-banging music and grunt his displeasure about something, and, of course, there’s his need to control certain things, but that’s not bad, per se. Heck, it’ll take some time before he completely shares everything he’s locked away in his mental Icebox, but those are all little things, things that’ll take time to work out. We’re not yet married a year, you know. As for the good: I feel soooo loved—and safe—and valued like I never have. It’s a different kind of “value,” different from the value in how my father viewed me.

My opinion matters; Fitzwilliam completely respects me and thinks of me as his equal. I’m one with him—but independent—if that makes sense. Gosh, last year’s adventure really taught us both some things and this year’s adventure took our relationship to a whole new level. Fitzwilliam lets me spread my wings to fly but I get that he needs to “coach” me on certain things. It’s his nature and it’s mine to rebel a bit. Any discord we work out either in a one-minute shouting match, tango-ing, or between the sheets.

How much have you learned from Darcy since the last book? And what are you most eager about in your life with him?

Goodness! I’ve learned so much. And I don’t just mean about self defense or weapon usage. We practice those things every day, particularly knife throwing—and, yes, he’s still trying to teach me to be a horsewoman, but I’ve learned so much about him, the man beneath Iceman. He has this patient, confidence-building manner about him. He helps me to feel impervious, skilled and self-assured in everything I do.

It’s that nurturing characteristic that answers your second question … I’m so looking forward to parenthood. We’d been trying to get pregnant after our trip to Santorini last year. I just know that Fitzwilliam Darcy (not Iceman) will make an incredible father one day. It’s our dream to have the family-life we were denied in our “before each other” meager existences. We hope to be the kind of parents that we missed out on in our own lives.

All the ladies are dying to know if he’s as sizzling hot in In Good Conscience as he was in the previous book. And are you still riding your bike?

*Blushing* I don’t kiss and tell, but … it’s—as you say—sizzling (giggles). The man is so damned hot that even when I’m angry—and I mean blazing angry enough to kill him—I can’t stay angry with him … if you know what I mean! That smoldering gaze of his defuses my time bomb! And then his touch gets me all worked up again. *Another blush*

I am definitely still riding and, given the incredible landscape of this area, we are looking forward to the exciting twisties—pushing the limits beside each other.

Do you feel like you’re ready to step into his darker world and adequately protect yourself and him?

His darker world is low light and bright … but if I had to go there again, I’d say: Absolutely. I think—after what we’ve been through over the last two months—Fitzwilliam has that same confidence in me. And although I don’t think we’ll find ourselves in a dangerous situation again, he does remind me to practice situational awareness and has honed into me that paranoia is the height of awareness. LOL If trouble does come, we have each other’s six. Protecting our family is paramount, above all things.

And right now, he’s not at his 100% physical best. So as we get settled here and until our full security team arrives, he’s truly dependent on me.

Give us a glimpse into your relationship with Iceman and his family.

*Snort* Let’s start with his aunt. On second thought, let’s not. She irritates me, so I never speak of her. The last time I saw her, I was at my worst and her facelift made it difficult for her to talk, which was fine by me since I could barely even form words myself.

Fitzwilliam’s family (apart from his aunt) is my family as much as his. And as much as I hate to admit it, they are Obsidian. It’s weird … we’re all broken in some way, yet made whole by our commitment to each other. It’s hard to explain.

Rick is more a brother than a cousin to both of us and that’s true of John Knightley as well. Both guys understand Fitzwilliam and I don’t know—maybe it’s also a military mindset—but where he (or I) go, they’d go, even if it meant to the death. And that holds true for how we feel about them. Charlie, what can I say of Charlie? He’s solid gold in every way and I’m glad my sister has finally wised up to that!

Even Caroline in some strange way is part of our family. She might be the evil step-sister, but she’ll always have our back if needed; she proved that this summer. Sarah, Rick’s girl is awesome and will be staying in America. I’m glad because they are perfect for each other.

We also have new family members who came to Pemberley as our security team. All former military. But, I tell ya’, I couldn’t have gotten through some of the things I have without one salty Marine named Dixon. He’s so much more than my personal bodyguard: good friend, confidant, uncle, brother. He’s awesome.

And then there’s Gigi and Justin my sister and brother-in-law. They are loving life in California. I hadn’t seen her since her wedding last year, but we reunited during the horrific circumstances over the summer, but now that the clouds have packed away, we’ll be getting together soon at an upcoming wedding. Even the Reynoldses will be in attendance!

So what is on the horizon for you two love birds?

Just living every day beside each other, appreciating even the smallest of things, remembering only the good things of the past, and forgetting about everything else. We live in the moment and all that matters is that we’re together, taking each day as it comes. It’s amazing, Serena–seven weeks changed our life, and we had to get through it to experience this absolute complete joy. As Fitzwilliam is always singing … “It’s a
new dawn … a new day … and he’s feelin’ good.” We both are!

Okay. Here’s my last question. Do you have secret to share because I sense you’re holding something back. You’re positively glowing.

*Giggles* You’ll have to read the book!

Thank you, Liz, for joining us today! What a wild ride it has been and here’s to a calmer future together for you and your husband.

Dear readers, here’s a picture of the swag Cat Gardiner is offering:

1 ebook for an international reader and 1 paperback for a U.S. reader.

Also an exclusive IGC mug, Bottle of Cabernet, a woman’s journal with inspirational quotes, series bookmark for a U.S. Winner.

Giveaway info:

Leave a comment here for Liz and Cat or ask a question.

Winner will be selected on Sept. 21, 11:59 PM EST.

Excerpt & Giveaway: Syrie James’ Summer of Scandal

Today, Syrie James has stopped by to share with us an excerpt from her new novel, Summer of Scandal. And there will be a giveaway at the end of the post for her first novel in this series.

First, about the new book, Summer of Scandal:

Madeleine Atherton is no typical American heiress, sent to England to marry an English lord. A brilliant college graduate who secretly dreams of becoming a published author, she wants to marry for love. After receiving a proposal from a future duke, Madeleine flees the London Season for Cornwall to seek her sister’s advice, never expecting her decision to be complicated by a charming, handsome earl she’s certain she dislikes—even though his every touch sets her blood on fire.

Charles Grayson, the Earl of Saunders, has secrets and ambitions of his own. Although under pressure from his mother and gravely ill father to marry his cousin, Charles cannot find the words to propose. But this fascinating American visitor does not figure into his plans, either.

Thrown together unexpectedly at Trevelyan Manor, Madeleine and Charles struggle to rise above their intense attraction. But as things heat up between them over a summer that becomes increasingly scandalous, Madeleine and Charles will both be forced to make a difficult choice. Can two dreamers dare to defy convention and find their own happily ever after?

Here’s the excerpt from the new novel, Summer of Scandal, Ch. 10, in the Dare to Defy series:

Charles’s heart began drumming to a different cadence as he made his way across the golden expanse of sand. The ocean setting in all its fresh, morning glory was a fitting backdrop for the woman who, in a peach-colored dress that clung to her perfect figure like a second skin, resembled a goddess newly risen from the sea.

“Miss Atherton!”

Charles wasn’t certain if his voice had carried over the crash of the waves and the raucous calls of the gulls. He tried again.

This time, she turned in surprise. Good lord, she was beautiful. The wind brought out the roses in her cheeks and whipped through her skirts and the loose tendrils of her upswept hair.

He ventured closer and tipped his hat. “Good morning.”

“Good morning.” Her eyes and voice held a note of reluctance, as if undecided as to whether or not she was pleased to see him.

“Collecting seashells?”

“I am.” She held up a small cloth bag. “And stones. For Julia and Lillie. They are fond of them.”

“What a nice gesture.” Standing this close, looking down at her lovely face, he realized he had been wrong about the color of her eyes. Under the bright morning sun, they were more cobalt than indigo.

Stop waxing poetic about her eyes.

He drew a line in the sand with the toe of his boot. “I understand you are leaving us today?” Despite himself, he couldn’t disguise the remorse he felt at the prospect.

She hesitated, as if surprised by his tone and what it implied; yet her guard was still visibly in place. “A carriage is coming for me in a little over an hour.”

“I am glad, then, that I caught you before you left. I wanted to make sure I had an opportunity to say farewell.”

“That was thoughtful of you.”

He gestured for them to walk on together. As they strode across the hard-packed sand, he groped for words. “I hope you did not suffer a chill from our little adventure in the rain the other day?”

“Thankfully, no.”

He darted a glance at her. Their eyes briefly met and held. He saw her cheeks grow rosy. Was she thinking about the horseback ride? The near-kiss? Or both? She looked away without further comment.

“I know you felt uneasy about riding astride,” he commented. “I hope you have not berated yourself for that.”

“I haven’t. It was the sensible thing to do at the time.”

“I hope, as well, that you will forgive me for joining you on Tesla’s back. It was not, perhaps, the most gentlemanly thing I have ever done . . .” He broke off.

“It’s all right. It was pouring cats and dogs. We had to get back to the house as quickly as possible.”

“And so we did.”

“And so we did,” she repeated.

Her eyes met his again, now visibly and unexpectedly on the edge of mirth. They both let out a laugh, relieving the tension between them. A seagull squawked overhead, then swooped down to collect some unseen tidbit from the wet sand nearby.

“If it helps, I promise to never breathe a word of it to anyone,” he told her.

“Well. Just so you know: I saw a curtain fluttering when you rode off. I’m pretty sure Woodson saw us.”

“How do you know? Did he say something?”

“Just that he understood why we had both missed tea. And he gave me . . . a look.”

“Ah. A look from Woodson can speak volumes.”

“He didn’t seem to be passing judgment, though.”

“As well he shouldn’t. We were the bedraggled survivors of a downpour, returning to home and hearth.”

“Indeed we were.” Miss Atherton laughed again. “He also mentioned that he is married. To Martin! I had no idea.”

“They are the heart and soul of our household, and have been these many years. I cannot imagine what we should do without them.” The morning sun was growing hotter.

Charles lifted his hat, running his fingers through his hair to cool his head, wishing this moment could last forever.

“They are certainly devoted to your family,” Miss Atherton agreed. “I have been meaning to ask. Is there any news about your father? He has been indisposed almost the entire time I have been here. I worry about him.”

GIVEAWAY: 1 copy of Runaway Heiress to U.S. mailing address; comment by Sept. 19, 11:59 p.m. EST

About the Author:

Syrie James is the critically acclaimed author of historical, contemporary, and young adult fiction and romance including the international bestseller The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen (Best First Novel, Library Journal); Nocturne (Best of the Year, Suspense Magazine and Romance Reviews); Dracula, My Love; The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen; Jane Austen’s First Love; Forbidden; The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte (Great Group Read, Women’s National Book Association; Audie Romance Award, 2011), and the Harrison Duet (Songbird and Propositions). Her work has been translated into 18 languages. An admitted Anglophile, Syrie loves all things 19th century. She is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America and has addressed audiences across the U.S., Canada, and England.

About Runaway Heiress:

When a runaway heiress runs into trouble, she may end up exactly where she belongs…

Brainy and college-educated, American heiress Alexandra Atherton will do anything to avoid marriage to the English peer her mother has chosen for her–even abandon the life of privilege she’s always known. But as her escape goes horribly wrong, Alexandra must invent a new identity to gain the help of a handsome stranger.

Thomas Carlyle, the Earl of Longford, sweeps in and out of London disguised as a humble artist, earning just enough to keep his ancestral Cornwall estate afloat. When Alexandra crashes into his life, she awakens feelings and desires that he vows will stay buried. Despite himself, he needs this beautiful newcomer, for his sisters have run off another governess.

Alexandra is surprised to find she thrives in her new position at Longford’s home. But as she grows closer to Thomas and his sisters, and her relationship with the emotionally guarded earl unleashes their hidden passions, the truth Alexandra’s been forced to hide may end up coming between her and the only man she’s ever loved.

Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose (Giveaway)

Source: publisher
Hardcover, 316 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose is as beautifully written as its cover suggests. Readers will fall in love with Tiffany and his stained-glass windows, as well as his other artisan works. Laurelton Hall is a dream-like world that Jenny Bell falls into when her friend surreptitiously enters her in a competition for a residency. Rose always creates complex characters and settings that you could fall into immediately — this is another case in which I fell in love with art and colorful landscapes. There are so many reasons why Rose is an auto-buy author, no matter her subject. Her tales are hard to put down, and Bell’s story is no different.

What happens when the color drains from your life and you lose everything dear to you? Bell’s life has been incredibly hard, but she still seems to carry her mother’s artistry with her — developing it even if her canvasses remain devoid of color.

Her vibrant laughter sounded like the coppery glitter of her dwelling.

Jenny Bell comes to Laurelton with nothing more on her mind than an experience of a lifetime, and her friend, Minx, has high hopes for her. But Bell learns that there is more to life than creating art in darkness. The light can be found in the best moments of our lives and that light is made up of different hues, some dark blue and deep and others yellow and airy.

Rose is a master at weaving in historical details, mysteries to solve, and a bit of romance. Her vision of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Long Island home for artists is magical and readers will be enchanted. Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose is not to be missed. Fall into this stained glass window and fall in love with the artists.

RATING: Cinquain

ENTER the GIVEAWAY to win a copy of Tiffany Blues. U.S. entrants only. Deadline for comments with emails is Sept. 5, 2018, 11:59 PM EST

About the Author:

New York Times bestselling author M. J. Rose grew up in New York City exploring the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum and the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park. She is the author of more than a dozen novels, a founding board member of International Thriller Writers, and the founder of the first marketing company for authors, AuthorBuzz.com. She lives in Connecticut. Visit her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Writing as Surgery by Caitlin Hamilton Summie

Last year, I read one of the most well-crafted short stories collections out there, and it was written by Caitlin Hamilton Summie, who many in the blogging world know for her marketing savvy for indie authors.

To Lay to Rest Our Ghosts is one year old today. It was on my best of list last year, and I still love it today. It is a collection that is poetic and holds imagery to a higher standard as each story is pregnant with emotion, particularly different forms of grief. Read the full review.

After reading short stories by Chekhov this year, I’m beginning to think that Caitlin Hamilton Summie is our modern Chekhov.

We often have guests talk about their writing process or their writing spaces, but we rarely hear about the after-publication process. In honor of this book’s anniversary, I asked Caitlin if she’d like to write up a guest post about her after publication experience as a short-story writer.

I think you’ll love this guest post and don’t forget to enter the giveaway.

Please give Caitlin a warm welcome:

Recently, in work correspondence, a reviewer let me know that she had wanted once to work in publishing or to be a surgeon. What came to my mind was how much surgery and creative writing have in common: they share a focus on precision, on cause and effect, on getting to the root of things. I imagine, though I cannot know, that there is an artistry in performing surgery that echoes the artistry in writing.

I have never wanted to be a surgeon, but I do believe in the power of stories to heal and connect, to make us empathize and reconsider.

In the year since I published my first book, a collection of short stories called TO LAY TO REST OUR GHOSTS, I have received a number of reviews that speak to the root-level emotional engagement the stories provide, to how deeply-felt they are. One reviewer said my stories made him/her feel less alone. I’ll never forget that review or cease to be overwhelmed by it.

I do write straight from the heart, and this is where I think many readers live, too— valuing stories that get to our very cores, get to the heart of the matter. We want characters we love as much as we want a gripping tale. We want to connect.

One year past publication, with reviews and interviews still coming in, with events still being offered, I am deeply grateful—for the connections with people I will never know over matters of the heart that are shared in my stories, written like a surgeon might operate, carefully excavating through each character the love and forgiveness that gets them—and us—through the days.

Enter the Giveaway by Aug. 19, 11:59 p.m. EST.

About the Author:

Caitlin Hamilton Summie earned an MFA with Distinction from Colorado State University, and her short stories have been published in Beloit Fiction Journal, Wisconsin Review, Puerto del Sol, Mud Season Review, and Long Story, Short. She spent many years in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Colorado before settling with her family in Knoxville, Tennessee. She co-owns the book marketing firm, Caitlin Hamilton Marketing & Publicity, founded in 2003.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Our Heroine Elizabeth Bennet by Ann Galvia


Welcome to the What’s Past Is Prologue blog tour!

We’re the first stop on the blog tour, and I’m very excited to welcome Ann Galvia to talk about her version of Elizabeth Bennet. Stay tuned for the giveaway details at the end of the post, and don’t forget to comment.

First, I wanted to share a bit about the book with you. I hope to find time to read this one someday soon. It sounds wonderful.

About the Book:

Elizabeth Darcy has her eye on the future.

Before her marriage, she saw herself making the best possible choice. Her husband saved her family from ruin. All he asked in return was her hand. Secure in his good opinion, Elizabeth married him. Only with hindsight and his cryptic warnings that passion is not immutable does Elizabeth question her decision. Her solution? Give him a son as soon as possible. Once his lust for her has been slaked, this service she has rendered him will ensure her value.

The newlyweds are summoned to Rosings Park almost the moment they are married. Though the estate can boast of beautiful grounds, Elizabeth and Darcy arrive to find devastation. A flood has swept away Lady Catherine’s last hopes of hiding debt and years of mismanagement. She expects Darcy to shoulder the recovery efforts.

The effort to save Rosings strains the already tense relationship between Elizabeth and her husband. To make matters worse, her presence is met with disdain and disinterest from the family. As the days in the besieged estate drag on, Elizabeth slowly untangles the histories and secrets of her new relations.

Like Elizabeth’s marriage, the crisis at Rosings is the culmination of past events. Disaster need not be the result of only bad choices; good principles have led them astray as well. As for Elizabeth, she barely knows her husband, and loving him might be impossible. Yet, she is determined to save all that she can—her marriage and the estate—and somehow, create the future she longs for.

Please welcome Ann Galvia:

I want to thank Serena for kicking off the “What’s Past Is Prologue” blog tour here at Savvy Verse and Wit! This is a particularly auspicious place to start because I want to focus today on WPIP’s heroine and central character, the witty Elizabeth.

And by talk, I mean….break out your pen and paper, folks, it’s time for a pop quiz! It’s not for a grade. You don’t even have to turn it in (but I think the comments section will be more fun if you do) because no one is taking attendance. It’s all essay questions (boo!), but you can use the book (yay!), Jane Austen’s incomparable “Pride and Prejudice!”

1. What do you consider Elizabeth Bennet’s greatest virtue, and why?
2. What do you consider Elizabeth Bennet’s largest flaw, and why?
3. How does growing up with such role models–wait, that is too  respectful–with such “ “ “role models” ” ” as Mr and Mrs Bennet affect the perspective of someone who grew up with them and a questionable amount of experience beyond their neighborhood?

Now, your answers may vary (and really, that’s what makes this an interesting exercise) but when you go playing with someone else’s toys, first we have to look at how they set up the shelf. Gotta put ‘em back when we’re done.

Me, I think Elizabeth’s greatest virtue is her compassion. She has an incredible ability to just not care about her own problems. The entail? She feels no urgency to try and secure her future through a marriage. Losing Wickham to Mary King? She doesn’t feel too bad, decides that means she never loved him and breezes forward. Elizabeth doesn’t start losing any sleep until she’s lost Darcy and Lydia both in the span of an afternoon. Now, other people’s problems? Other people’s problems hurt. She made herself sick over Jane’s heartbreak.

“The agitation and tears which the subject occasioned brought on a headache; and it grew so much worse towards the evening that, added to her unwillingness to see Mr. Darcy, it determined her not to attend her cousins to Rosings, where they were engaged to drink tea. Mrs. Collins, seeing that she was really unwell, did not press her to go, and as much as possible prevented her husband from pressing her; but Mr. Collins could not conceal his apprehension of Lady Catherine’s being rather displeased by her staying at home.”

Charlotte cautioned her to not make an enemy out of Darcy over Wickham, but damn if her righteous indignation on Wickham’s behalf didn’t lead her to try!

He made no answer, and they were again silent till they had gone down the dance, when he asked her if she and her sisters did not very often walk to Meryton? She answered in the affirmative; and, unable to resist the temptation, added, “When you met us there the other day,
we had just been forming a new acquaintance.”

The effect was immediate. A deeper shade of hauteur overspread his features, but he said not a word, and Elizabeth, though blaming herself for her own weakness, could not go on. At length Darcy spoke, and in a constrained manner said, “Mr. Wickham is blessed with such happy manners as may ensure his making friends — whether he may be equally capable of retaining them, is less certain.”

“He has been so unlucky as to lose your friendship,” replied Elizabeth with emphasis, “and in a manner which he is likely to suffer from all his life.”

Refusing Darcy wreaks havoc on her.

The tumult of her mind was now painfully great. She knew not how to support herself, and from actual weakness sat down and cried for half an hour.

And, of course, we know she’s someone who doesn’t think twice about walking through three miles of mud because her sister has a cold.

Now, what leads her astray?

Well, she tends to do this Thing where she formulates a snap judgement and refuses to re-evaluate after learning new information or hearing the opinions of other people.

Consider, for example, the clues that Darcy liked her that she simply never picked up on…

Elizabeth could not help observing, as she turned over some music books that lay on the instrument, how frequently Mr. Darcy’s eyes were fixed on her. She hardly knew how to suppose that she could be an object of admiration to so great a man; and yet that he should look at her because he disliked her was still more strange. She could only imagine, however, at last, that she drew his notice because there was a something about her more wrong and reprehensible, according to his ideas of right, than in any other person present.

Yes, Elizabeth, men stare at women because they are reprehensible.

More than once did Elizabeth, in her ramble within the Park, unexpectedly meet Mr. Darcy. She felt all the perverseness of the mischance that should bring him where no one else was brought, and, to prevent its ever happening again, took care to inform him at first that it was a favourite haunt of hers. How it could occur a second time, therefore, was very odd! Yet it did, and even a third. It seemed like wilful ill-nature, or a voluntary penance, for on these occasions it was not merely a few formal enquiries and an awkward pause and then away, but he actually thought it necessary to turn back and walk with her. He never said a great deal, nor did she give herself the trouble of talking or of listening much; but it struck her in the course of their third rencontre that he was asking some odd unconnected questions — about her pleasure in being at Hunsford, her love of solitary walks, and her opinion of Mr. and Mrs. Collins’s happiness; and that in speaking of Rosings, and her not perfectly understanding the house, he seemed to expect that whenever she came into Kent again she would be staying there too. His words seemed to imply it. Could he have Colonel Fitzwilliam in his thoughts? She supposed, if he meant anything, he must mean an allusion to what might arise in that quarter. It distressed her a little, and she was quite glad to find herself at the gate in the pales opposite the Parsonage.

Sure, Elizabeth, he wants to hang out at your favorite places and talk about you and the things you like — and also let’s rate how happy your married friends are and fyi, next time you visit, you’ll stay with his family, probably — because someone else wants to marry you.

Which leads me to the Elizabeth we find in What’s Past Is Prologue. She made a choice rooted in compassion — marry Darcy instead of turn him away a second time. She knows her ideas of who he is were wrong, but has not had much opportunity to replace with it with something better. She has only his own account to go by. How does he describe himself to Elizabeth?

“No,” said Darcy, “I have made no such pretension. I have faults enough, but they are not, I hope, of understanding. My temper I dare not vouch for. It is, I believe, too little yielding — certainly too little for the convenience of the world. I cannot forget the follies and vices of others so soon as I ought, nor their offences against myself. My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them. My temper would perhaps be called resentful. My good opinion once lost is lost for ever.”

So she’s compassionate; he’s resentful, and once you’ve lost him, you’re not gonna get him back. Not that he has anything to resent her over —

His sense of her inferiority — of its being a degradation — of the family obstacles which judgment had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit.

Oh.

Oh, right.

And she jumps to inaccurate conclusions without folding new information into her ideas until really forced to do so.

And she comes from a family where the husband regretted his choice.

Elizabeth, however, had never been blind to the impropriety of her father’s behaviour as a husband. She had always seen it with pain; but respecting his abilities, and grateful for his affectionate treatment of herself, she endeavoured to forget what she could not overlook, and to banish from her thoughts that continual breach of conjugal obligation and decorum which, in exposing his wife to the contempt of her own children, was so highly reprehensible.

What is a girl to do when her future happiness and respectability lies in the hands of husband who owns he is resentful, and has been verbose in the past about some reasons why you might incite his ire? Elizabeth loves to ignore a problem, but this is a big one and she’s gonna have to solve it…

About the Author:

Ann Galvia started writing sometime before she knew how letters functioned. Her first books were drawings of circus poodles heavily annotated with scribbles meant to tell a story. Upon learning how letters were combined to represent words, she started doing that instead. This has proven to be much more successful.

Sometime after that, she decided she wanted to study Anthropology and sometime after that, she decided she liked cats more than dogs. And sometime after that, she decided to become an educator and teach a new generation of kids how to combine letters to represent words, and use those words express ideas.

And sometime after that, she realized all she really wanted to do was write, which probably should have been evident from the beginning.

Connect with Ann at the following places Ann: Twitter | Facebook | Blog

GIVEAWAY:

Meryton Press is offering eight eBooks of What’s Past is Prologue

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or a review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified.

One winner will be selected per contest. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Good LUCK!

Rest of the Blog Tour Schedule:

August 1 / Savvy Verse & Wit / Guest Post & Giveaway

August 2 / Of Pens & Pages / Book Review & Giveaway

August 3 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Review & Giveaway

August 4 / Just Jane 1813 / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

August 5 / Liz’s Reading Life / Author Interview & Giveaway

August 6 / From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review & Giveaway

August 7 / More Agreeably Engaged / Guest Post & Giveaway

August 8 / My Vices and Weaknesses / Book Review & Giveaway

August 9 / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Review & Giveaway

August 10 / Austenesque Reviews / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

August 11 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review & Giveaway

August 12 / My Love for Jane Austen / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

August 13 / So Little Time… / Guest Post & Giveaway

Guest Post & Giveaway: The Fear of Being Eaten by Ronald J. Wichers

Welcome to today’s stop on the spotlight book tour for The Fear of Being Eaten: A Biography of the Heart by Ronald J. Wichers.

What if you married a man who didn’t care about you? What if there was a child in the neighborhood for whom you developed a special fondness but was nine when you were nineteen and twenty when you were thirty with two children and a husband who still didn’t care? And what if you were a boy whose only happy memories were a few soft words uttered now and again by a beautiful neighbor ten years your senior and whose voice and face and figure, back-lighted by the golden light of the setting sun, were all that would sustain you when your life was threatened every minute of every day in the mire of a squalid war nobody wanted?

This is the story of Jacqueline and Tommy, their lives stubbornly paralleling with no convergence in sight until one cold night she sees him starving to death on a crowded street filled with happy tourists.

What would you do if you saw him there almost unrecognizable, just another mass of neglected, invisible wreckage? Turn the pages of The Fear of Being Eaten: A Biography of the Heart and find out what happened to Jacqueline Rhondda and Tommy Middleton.

To follow the tour, please visit Ronald J. Wicher’s page on iRead Book Tours.

Please welcome Ronald as he shares a bit about his Vietnam War connection and how it inspired his book:

“Writing about the Vietnam War” by Ronald J. Wichers

I don’t want to bore anyone with too personal a perspective but I wrote this one to give myself something meaningful to do at a time of grief so deep as to be threatening. Since the year 2000, there had been, in my life, an uncanny string of deaths of significant others, ending with those of my wife and my father.

It seemed the whole world was dying. I had no one to care for, nothing to do but read, write, maintain my property.

I felt as if I were floating in space, literally. The weave of stories created in The Fear of Being Eaten -A Biography of the Heart are episodes in my life and those of old friends that I had wanted to describe for many years but were of a type too dark to attempt. How I could put it together at a time so painful is a mystery to me. But it helped.

The Fear of Being Eaten – A Biography of the Heart. It is biographical and autobiographical, written mostly from memory and cast as an imaginary construction, a simple episodic novel.

With the exception of Lotus in a Sea of Fire by Thich Nhat Hanh, I haven’t read any books about the Vietnam War. I’ve written honestly and I don’t concern myself with how different The Fear of Being Eaten might or might not be. I have no control over that.

 

Buy the Book:
 
Watch the book trailer.
Meet the Author:
 
 

Ronald J. Wichers was born in Lake Ronkonkoma New York in 1947. He attended Catholic School until 1965, studied History and literature at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas until being drafted into the United States Army in 1970. He was assigned to a rifle company in the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam and, after sustaining severe wounds in a gun battle, including the loss of his left arm, was awarded the Purple Heart Medal, the Army Commendation Medal for Heroism and the Bronze Star Medal. He later studied theology full time at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley California. He has published several short stories about the Vietnam war. The Fear of Being Eaten: A Biography of the Heart is his fifth novel.

Connect with the author:
Enter the Giveaway!
Win an ebook copy of The Fear of Being Eaten (open to USA & Canada – 2 winners)
Ends July 28, 2018

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Guest Post & Giveaway: Victoria Kincaid, author of Mr. Darcy to the Rescue, on Rescued Women

I want to welcome Victoria Kincaid, author of Mr. Darcy to the Rescue, to the blog today to talk about the theme of rescuing women in women’s fiction. Stay tuned for a giveaway.

But first, let’s read a little about the book:

When the irritating Mr. Collins proposes marriage, Elizabeth Bennet is prepared to refuse him, but then she learns that her father is ill. If Mr. Bennet dies, Collins will inherit Longbourn and her family will have nowhere to go. Elizabeth accepts the proposal, telling herself she can be content as long as her family is secure. If only she weren’t dreading the approaching wedding day…

Ever since leaving Hertfordshire, Mr. Darcy has been trying to forget his inconvenient attraction to Elizabeth. News of her betrothal forces him to realize how devastating it would be to lose her. He arrives at Longbourn intending to prevent the marriage, but discovers Elizabeth’s real opinion about his character. Then Darcy recognizes his true dilemma…

How can he rescue her when she doesn’t want him to?

Please give Victoria a warm welcome.

Hi Serena. Thanks for having me visit, and thank you for suggesting the topic of “Rescuing in women’s fiction.” It sparked all kinds of ideas for me.

I think it can be problematic in romance and other traditionally “female” genres if the female protagonist is always in need of rescue. It’s a common trope; I can’t tell you how many romances I’ve read in which the heroine is kidnapped and must be rescued by the hero. There are legitimate reasons why this trope works. Good stories need conflict, suspense, and high stakes; being kidnapped or threatened with violence creates a suspenseful, high-stakes environment that keeps the reader turning the pages. Also, romance readers generally like their heroes to be strong and forceful; when the heroine is in danger, it gives the hero a chance to show his skills and courage. That’s why so many of today’s romantic male protagonists are cops, spies, SEALs, etc. who encounter dangerous situations as part of their jobs.

However, it puts the female protagonist in a weaker position if she is frequently in need of rescue. She can appear helpless, lacking in strength and skills, and even stupid (if she does something dumb to get herself into the situation). This may not bother all readers, but I prefer stories in which the male and female protagonists are on a more equal footing, which can be a problem in a genre where the men are always taller, older, and richer than their female counterparts. This is particularly true in a story like Pride and Prejudice where Darcy always has the upper hand because of his wealth and the greater power afforded to men in the Regency time period.

And yet, I still wrote a story called Mr. Darcy to the Rescue. However, I intended the title to be a bit ironic. The premise is that Elizabeth accepts Mr. Collins’s offer of marriage. When Darcy hears about this, he rushes to Longbourn to “save” her from the engagement by offering his hand instead. In other words, Darcy casts himself in the role of rescuer. But when he arrives at Longbourn, he discovers that Elizabeth does not like him and has no desire to be rescued by him. Darcy resorts to trying to break up the engagement by subversive means, but he only makes Elizabeth’s situation worse and must work to clean up the mess he has made. The situation looks dire, and Darcy is in danger of losing Elizabeth forever. He needs Elizabeth to rescue him from a lifetime of loneliness.

I think my slight subversion of the tradition of rescuing women fits in well with the spirit of Pride and Prejudice. Austen does not usually put her heroines into physical danger—eschewing the haunted mansions, shipwrecks, and dastardly villains of many of her contemporary colleagues. Instead, their plights tend to be more societal—facing the loss of reputation or heartbreak. The only rescuing Darcy does in P&P is to “save” Lydia from the consequences of her own stupidity—a mission which is only partially successful. He does help to isolate the Bennets (and Elizabeth) from imminent scandal, but this is a much more indirect kind of rescuing that retrieving the victim of kidnapping or saving someone with a gun to her head. Indeed, Darcy’s primary motivation for rescuing Lydia is to correct his own faux pas when proposing to Elizabeth. In effect, he is rescuing himself from a lifetime of loneliness. I’d like to think that my rewriting follows in Austen’s very big footsteps.

Thanks, Victoria, for sharing this story with us.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY by leaving a comment on your favorite unconventional rescue story by June 30 at 11:59 PM EST. Open to U.S. residents only. One audiobook.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Catherine by Sue Barr

Good morning! I hope everyone is enjoying their first week of June. Today, we have the wonderful Sue Barr as a guest and a giveaway for her new book Catherine, which is the second book in her series. The first book was Caroline.

Please read the book details below and check out today’s special guest post.

About the Book:

Some secrets are not meant to be shared.

Catherine Bennet, known as Kitty to close friends and family, knows this better than anyone. She also knows that she will never marry and it never bothered her before she met Lord George Kerr at Elizabeth and Darcy’s wedding. He’s determined to breach the walls of defense she’d
carefully constructed around her heart, and she’s just as determined to stay the course.

Some secrets cannot be shared

Lord George Kerr knows this better than anyone. For five years, as a spy for His Majesty the King, he played the part of a Rake, concealing his espionage activities beneath a blanket of brothels, drink and loose women. Even though he’s forced to resume his regular life within London’s finest society, he still must keep some things hidden.

One thing he does not hide is his attraction to Miss Catherine Bennet of Longbourn. Enraptured by her beauty and warmth of character, he plunges headlong into winning her heart, only to find it carefully guarded and she’s unwilling to give him even a small pinch of hope.

Some things are beyond your control

When circumstances bring Kitty’s secret into the open, she fears the tenuous bonds of friendship she’s forged with Lord George will be lost forever along with whatever love he proclaims to have for her. With the very lives of England’s vast network of spies working undercover in Bonaparte’s France hanging in the balance, she’s forced to face her worst nightmare.

Her secret is laid bare, can he love her enough to overcome what he learns?

Please welcome today’s guest, Sue Barr:

When an author begins to write their story the words that make it on to the page is not the WHOLE story. Every character has a history, even if it’s in the author’s mind. Today I thought I’d share a few highlights of some of the characters (without giving away any spoilers).

Catherine (Kitty) Bennet

We all know her as the fourth daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. The one who Elizabeth dismissed by saying, ‘and wherever Lydia goes, Kitty is sure to follow’. In CATHERINE, the reader is re-introduced to her at Elizabeth and Darcy’s wedding breakfast and by this time she’s been out of Lydia’s shadow for about six months, maybe more. This is all according to canon.

What I did was create a backstory for her, complete with a secret that no one besides Mr. Bennet is aware of. The burden she carries from this secret makes her believe she will never marry, so, when Kitty meets Lord George she wants to indulge in daydreams, like any girl of ten and eight would, but forces herself to rein in her emotions and not allow her heart to become involved.

Lord George Kerr

Lord George is the next eldest brother of the Duke of Adborough. The reader is introduced to him in the very first chapter. He is a spy for the Crown and has been for over five years. What the reader doesn’t know is that George rescued Evangeline, the Countess of Anstruther (his espionage counterpart) in a daring rescue from France. Evangeline will get her own story – An Elaborate Ruse – but not until Georgiana’s story is complete. George is a master of disguise, adept at many languages and trades, an expert marksman and superb horseman. He is above all, a gentleman. I lurve him. He and his two brothers have a close relationship and family is very important to him. His good will and protective streak also has him taking care of those who enter his life in interesting ways.

Mary Bennet

Mary is the middle daughter and according to canon is annoyingly pious and boring. I wanted her to have her own secret, which is revealed in a fun way when she and Kitty have a lovely sister moment early on in the book. I decided to write Mary as being clever. Elizabeth, Jane and Lydia all cast long shadows with their various personalities and it was time for Mary to step out into the light. The reader will find that she plays beautiful music, having learned some skills from Miss Darcy, reads novels and has a sly sense of humor. I enjoyed expanding Mary’s
character and I hope the reader comes to like her as do I.

Phillip Sheraton

My favorite new character is Phillip. If you don’t fall in love with this cheeky boy…

EXCERPT:

With an agitated whinny, Buttons suddenly reared, unseating George who promptly landed in the ditch filled with water. He fully expected the horse to bolt, but all his patient training kept the handsome steed close, albeit a little skittish by whatever spooked him.

He pulled himself from the water and scrambled onto the road, snagging the horse’s halter in case he changed his mind and decided to make a break for Keswick Manor.

“What is it, boy? What has got you all fired up?” George spoke in a soothing voice and ran an experienced hand over the horse’s flesh, checking to make sure there wasn’t some unseen injury. He paused when his fingers ran across a small welt on the horse’s right hind quarters. At that exact moment he felt a sharp sting on his neck.

“What the…?”

His hand flew up to swat whatever had bit him. Within his peripheral vision he caught sight of a boy, seated in a tree by the side of the road. He pretended he hadn’t seen the little blighter and spoke to the horse in a louder than normal voice.

“Well, there must be some wasps out now that the rain has stopped. I hope they don’t interfere with my digging for gold.”

As he suspected, the boy lowered the device he’d used to sling tiny rocks, clearly intrigued by the thought of gold. Thank goodness it hadn’t been anything more sinister. His mental musings about Catherine had dulled his senses. Had this been France, he’d be dead.

He swung up into the saddle and flicked the reins. Buttons obliged by moving off at a slow walk. Now that he was aware of the child, George clearly heard him clambering out of the tree and trying to follow in the rain-soaked underbrush. The boy was going to become very wet.

Good.

He continued past the drive to Keswick Manor and headed for the small house where their groundskeeper took lodging. He stopped in front of a small barn, slid off Buttons and tied him to a post, then strode around to the back of the house and waited for the lad. He didn’t have to wait
long. No more than five minutes passed before he heard shuffling behind the stone fence that encircled the small yard and garden.

When he judged the boy was passing by his location, he stood and with a quick hand reached over the low fence and grabbed him by the shirt collar.

“Oi. Wot do you want wif me?”

The grimy faced urchin kicked and wiggled in vain.

“I would like to know why you attempted to injure my horse.”

“I dunno wot yer yabberin’ about.”

George hauled the boy over the fence and plunked him down, keeping a firm hand on his neck.

“You launched a rock and hit my horse on his flank, which I know you thought was funny as I fell arse over tea kettle,” – the boy sniggered – “but what if the horse landed into a rut and broke his leg.”

“I never thought of that.” The boy stopped struggling and lowered his head. “Wot you gonna do wif me?”

George paused and thought about his options. By the amount of filth encrusted on the child there was a good chance he didn’t have caring parents. Or at least parents who could afford to keep their children clean. He seemed slightly malnourished, given how he could feel fragile
bones through the threadbare shirt.

No, the punishment had to fitting, yet fair.

“What is your name?”

“Phillip.” The boy dared to glance up at him.

“That is a good strong name. One you can live up to.” George glanced toward Keswick Manor. “I have a task you can do which is quite fitting for the crime.”

At the word ‘crime’ the boy began to squirm again. He tightened his grip, trying not to bruise the frail child. “Settle down, Phillip. I am not turning you over to the magistrate.”

The young lad stopped struggling.

“Seeing as you nearly caused irreparable harm to my horse, I believe I shall have you water, feed and care for him while I’m here in Cambridgeshire.”

“I cain’t feed yer ‘orse. Ain’t got no money fer that.”

“I shall provide everything you require. Your job is to take care of Buttons.”

“Buttons?”

Phillip grinned, showing a gap between some of his teeth, which made George think he was only about eight or nine years old. At least that was how old he’d been when all he had to show for a smile was his two front teeth and nothing on either side.

“Yes, my horse’s name is Buttons. Are we in accord you will look after him?”

“I dunno. I’m supposed to help me mum and there ain’t no pay lookin after yer ‘orse.”

What a sad state of affairs that a child had to worry about bringing money home for the family.

“What would you say if I paid you a half guinea for a job well done.”

“A half guinea?” Phillip squeaked out, his eyes wide.

“For a job well done,” George stressed. “You must do a good job in order to receive the full amount.”

He already knew he’d pay the boy a half guinea even if the job was incomplete, but Phillip didn’t need to know that.

“I can help you hunt fer gold.”

George had to swallow a laugh. He’d forgotten about mentioning gold, clearly Phillip had not. Smart lad.

“I am not here for gold. That was a ruse to entice you behind the house.”

“You talk pretty fancy fer a git.”

George crouched down so he could look Phillip face to face.

“Take care how you speak to me, Master Phillip. This ‘git’ is the one who will pay you a good wage for honest labor.” Assured he had Phillip’s complete attention, he rose to his feet.

“We shall settle Buttons and then you can commence with the job at hand.”

About the Author:

Sue Barr resides in beautiful Southwestern Ontario with her retired Air Force hubby, two sons and their families. She’s also an indentured servant to three cats and has been known to rescue a kitten or two, or three…in an attempt to keep her ‘cat-lady-in-training’ status current. Although, she has deviated from appointed path and rescued a few dogs as well.

Sue is a member of Romance Writers of America and their affiliate chapter, Love, Hope and Faith as well as American Christian Fiction Writers. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Pinterest, and her blog.

GIVEAWAY:

Three winners will receive a copy of Catherine. Two winners will receive eBooks and one winner will receive an autographed paperback book of “Catherine.” All giveaways are open to international winners.

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once each day and by commenting daily on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached to this tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented.

Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Each entrant is eligible to win one eBook or paperback book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck!

The rest of the tour:

May 28 / My Jane Austen Book Club/ Launch Post & Giveaway
May 29 / From Pemberley to Milton/ Excerpt Post & Giveaway
May 30 / Just Jane 1813/ Guest Post & Giveaway
May 31 / More Agreeably Engaged/ Author Spotlight & Giveaway
June 1 / So Little Time… / Excerpt Post & Giveaway
June 2 / Liz’s Reading Life / Book Review & Giveaway
June 4 / Diary of an Eccentric /Book Review & Giveaway
June 5 / My Vices and Weaknesses / Book Review & Giveaway
June 6 / Savvy Verse & Wit / Guest Post & Giveaway
June 7 / Margie’s Must Reads/Book Review Post & Giveaway
June 8 / Obsessed with Mr. Darcy / Book Review & Giveaway
June 9 / My Love for Jane Austen / Excerpt Post & Giveaway
June 10 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Excerpt Post & Giveaway
June 11 / Austenesque Reviews/ Guest Post & Giveaway