Excerpt & Giveaway: Midnight Masquerade by Halley Larkin


Midnight Masquerade by Halley Larkin

Publication Date: January 10, 2022

Series: The Brightley Sisters, Book 1
Genre: Historical Romance


A duke with a past. A lady with no future. One magical night could change everything.

Lady Charmaine Brightley will soon lose her place in the world. Her father is ill and when he passes, a distant male cousin will inherit his title and the family estate. In the meantime, London society flocks to Charmaine’s lavish parties. Whimsical games of chance are the highlight of any evening at Cortwood Manor, games designed to raise money for the so-called “deserving” poor.

Behind the scenes, Charmaine fancies herself a modern-day Robin Hood. Proceeds from her parties support women shunned by the same ladies and gentleman drawn to Cortwood. If the ton ever discovered the true nature of Charmaine’s philanthropy, the revelation would ruin her family. Not that Charmaine cares what anyone thinks. Ever since her devastating first season, she has given up on love. With a promise to her dying mother to always look after her younger sisters, circumstances dictate a respectable attachment to a gentleman of means. What more would she want, really? As far as Charmaine is concerned, passion is a ridiculous dream, meant only for the young and foolish.

Until a dashing stranger appears at her midsummer masquerade, that is. And Charmaine soon wonders if romance might still be in her cards.

After an ill-fated duel, Duke Konstantin Rostov abandoned Russia for England. Kosta doesn’t miss the glamorous life he once enjoyed, or so he tries to tell himself. He is now a fugitive, marked for death by the powerful tsar and hiding in London. For a man accustomed to privilege and power, nothing is worse than indentured servitude to a cruel stepfather, Lord Trenholm.

Determined to restore both his reputation and that of the family he shamed, Kosta sneaks away to Lady Charmaine’s masquerade. He intends to meet Lord Cortham, his stepfather’s former business partner, who knows Trenholm’s darkest secrets. At Cortwood, Kosta finds the lord of the manor is unwell and can’t receive guests. But Kosta’s spirits soon lift when he dances with the alluring Charmaine Brightley.

For years, Kosta restricted his amorous affairs to women who were discreet, worldly, and married. These private flings safeguarded the ladies, as well as his own damaged ego. Despite the thrilling connection between them, Kosta understands he has no place in Charmaine’s life. Lord Cortham’s eldest daughter is destined to marry a gentleman of her station. In another life, Duke Konstantin would have been a perfect match. In his current state, Kosta could never aspire so high. When his stepfather sends him back to Cortwood, however, Kosta can’t resist the opportunity to see Charmaine one more time. Even if it means spying on her during a mysterious trip to London. Even if he must continue to hide his identity.

Reunited, Kosta and Charmaine find their mutual desire catches fire. But Lord Trenholm has his own reasons for pushing them together. Duke Konstantin has become part of his stepfather’s dangerous agenda. And Trenholm’s plans for his family’s future could destroy Charmaine Brightley, the woman who has finally captured Kosta’s heart.

Available on Amazon



Excerpt

Lady Charmaine Brightley stood on a mezzanine overlooking the polished dance floor. Garlands of purple delphinium and sweet peas bound with gold ribbon decked the walls, while fresh pansies adorned the chairs pushed to the sides of the room. Blown-glass dragonflies suspended from crystal chandeliers, catching the light. With the windows open, a cool breeze drifted inside, carrying with it the sweet scent of wild roses and thistle.

This was her favorite part of the evening, when she took a moment to savor what she’d created. The promise of excitement, something daring, drew society north to Hampstead and across the wild heath to Cortwood Manor. Fancy dress balls were the stuff of fantasy, and masquerades carried just the right touch of scandal. The ballroom below looked like a scene from a fairy play at the Pantheon.

With a nod of appreciation to the four-piece ensemble she’d engaged—the required piano and violin, as well as a splurge for the cornet and violoncello—Charmaine drummed her fingers along the iron railing in time to the tempo of the opening march. Soon enough, she would make her way downstairs to tempt the guests with talk of her pride and joy: the elaborate games of chance to begin just after midnight. Did they wish to try their luck at faro or vingt-un? For a minimum wager of a mere five pounds? If a gentleman was not one for the card table, perhaps he would take part in a contest to learn who best handled darts. Did the lady play whist? If not, might she purchase a ticket for the raffle instead? All for a righteous cause, of course. The higher the stakes, the greater the final donation to an unspecified benevolent agency in London.

Otherwise, what was the point of all this, really?

Charmaine’s sisters, Rosalind and Arabella, paced the ballroom, greeting new arrivals and ensuring each had a program with a schedule of both the dances and gaming options for the evening. A handful of couples mingled along the edges of the dance floor, while a few others promenaded to the opening march. Like Charmaine, most guests had donned half-masks that fit over their noses, though a few gents sported Venetian bautas to hide their faces entirely, the cheeky rascals.

Among the kaleidoscope of costumes, Charmaine spotted a harlequin in a red and silver diamond-patterned frock, and a pirate donning a tricorn hat and eye patch. A woman with black silk bat wings fastened to her gown nearly knocked over a gilt bronze candelabra. Charmaine reached back to touch the diaphanous fairy wings she’d hooked to her own forest-green taffeta gown. She had spent weeks sewing her costume: Titania, Queen of the Fairies. The subtle stitching nestled in the organza fabric made the wings appear iridescent in the right light. She resolved to treat them with great care tonight.

Not that she intended to dance. A queen didn’t dance. Rather, she remained perched on high to evaluate her subjects. When she mingled among them, she tread lightly.

 

Author Halley Larkin


My forthcoming series features three free-spirited sisters preparing to leave an estate they love, but cannot inherit. Along the way, their fates are entangled with those of a disgraced duke, a missing heir, and a brash young earl: gentlemen with passion in their hearts and complicated pasts. The first in the series, MIDNIGHT MASQUERADE, is now available for pre-order. The novella prequel MAID TAKES MARQUESS is coming soon.

As a reader, I enjoy witty novels full of sexual tension, dark secrets, and suspenseful twists. My favorite authors include Courtney Milan, Philippa Gregory, Alyssa Cole, Gillian Flynn, George R.R. Martin, and Lisa See. When I'm not reading or writing, you might find me planning a costume for the next San Diego Comic-Con or looking up a recipe from a Victorian cookbook. I live in California with a spoiled tabby cat named Jonesy.

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 10
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, January 11
Review at Gwendalyn's Books

Wednesday, January 12
Review at Booking with Janelle

Thursday, January 13
Review at Novels Alive

Friday, January 14
Excerpt at Coffee and Ink
Review at A Girl Reads Bookss

Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Midnight Masquerade by Halley Larkin!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on January 14th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Midnight Masquerade



Interview & Giveaway: The Secret of Chantilly by Laura Rahme

Hello, dear readers! Today on the blog I am very excited to be hosting Author Laura Rahme! She is currently on a blog tour and is getting rave reviews, so be sure to check out the book!

I hope you enjoy getting to know Laura!



To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

Thank you very much, Amy, for having me on Passages to the Past. To tell you a little about me — I live in France, in the region of Brittany. This is the land of butter, crepes but also of Celtic druids, and the most sinful calorie-packed pastry in the world: the Kouign-amann. I’ve written novels spanning the 15th, 18th, and 19th century. I love travel and my books have been set in China, Venice, England, and France.

What inspired you to write The Secret of Chantilly?

I wrote The Secret of Chantilly out of a love for food and France.

I wanted to depict France’s gastronomy through the eyes of famous chef, Antonin Carême, the man who codified and established French cuisine as we know it today. Carême’s life is so extraordinary, so colorful, that while writing, as I walked in his shoes, it dawned on me that he had lived a fairy tale and that there was a man who had accompanied him all throughout this journey. That man was Talleyrand, a powerful French statesman who developed such a maligned reputation that he also came to be known as the limping devil. I wrote partly because I had a desire to spend some time with the mysterious Talleyrand.

What research did you undertake when writing The Secret of Chantilly?

I like to believe my research started in childhood when I first dipped into French pâtisserie. It continued as a teen when I made crushed praline out of roasted almonds and blended it into a cream to garnish my pastry puffs. It turns out that praline is a recurring flavor in Carême’s cooking.

Carême’s own publications on gastronomy were valuable for insights into his works, his ethics and yes, even his psychology. They helped me discover the mind-blowing range of cakes enjoyed during his times.

But this novel is not just about cakes. It took me three years to research its setting, its diverse characters, and the times in which they lived. The authority on Talleyrand these days would have to be French historian, Emmanuel de Waresquiel. His books were fantastic. Aside from devouring biographies and essays on Antonin Carême and Talleyrand, I studied the history of the Château of Chantilly and books on the Congress of Vienna.

A wonderful highlight of my research was a long awaited visit to the château of Valençay in Indre. This is a lesser known château in western France, not far from the Loire valley. It was owned by Talleyrand and there is something about the place; it has so much soul. During my visit, I followed a corridor from the dining room into Carême’s underground kitchens and it really felt like stepping back in time. I’ll never forget it.

What would you like readers to take away from reading The Secret of Chantilly?

My wish is for readers to have a good time reliving France’s history through delicious food. I would love them to feel inspired by Carême’s unique journey and to even relate to it. Despite his genius, he is such a human character and even his flaws are endearing.

It would delight me if readers who previously did not know of Talleyrand came to appreciate his efforts toward world peace and developed a curiosity about him. Talleyrand is still much maligned and often those who speak badly of him actually know very little of his life.

What was your favorite scene to write?

It was a pleasure to write every scene in this book but I was particularly moved whenever Talleyrand came alive as a character.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

I wrote The Secret of Chantilly in first person, allowing Carême to tell his own story, give his own account of events, and share his views on Talleyrand. It was more intimate and suited the theme of friendship. The greatest difficulty was how to share crucial or political knowledge to the reader that Carême could not have known, or could not have written himself. In the end I opted for an alternate omniscient narrator who slides in and out on rare occasions and provides a third person account of the events. To be honest, I struggled with it, but in the end I think it’s charming and reminds me a little of historical narrators in old French films.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

As a child I loved comic books, especially Conan stories and Vampirella. I remember wanting to create comic books at the age of five (and own a cape), but I did not seriously take up writing until my early thirties.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

I can write at all hours. I tend to enter these dramatic flow periods where my husband finds himself utterly ignored. Routine wise, I need to balance hours at my desk with a two-hour nature walk.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

As writers, we struggle with our social media vice. But we overcome. As in all creative pursuits, writing demands continuous self-motivation, grit and discipline. We are tough cookies!

Who are your writing inspirations?

My favorite authors are Victor Hugo, Wilkie Collins, Alexandre Dumas, Guy de Maupassant and Sheridan Le Fanu. Having said that, the writer whose life I most envy is Graham Greene. Living in Capri and the South of France sounds like a dream!

What was the first historical novel you read?

The Knight of Maison Rouge by Alexandre Dumas. It is set during the French Revolution and recounts the carnation plot to free Marie-Antoinette from the Conciergerie, weeks before her death. I read it when I was eight years old. It was the first time I had heard of the young dauphin, Louis Charles, and of his heartless imprisonment in the Temple prison. It greatly influenced my novel, Julien’s Terror.

What is the last historical novel you read?

I just finished Althéa ou la colère d’un roi. It is a historical novel by French novelist Karin Hann. Through a fictional female character, it revisits Nicolas Fouquet’s tragic imprisonment. It was fascinating and well-written.

What are three things people may not know about you?

I lived my early childhood in Senegal until I was eight.

I used to want to be a spy; the closest I got to that career trajectory was police training. I fell on my face from climbing a two-meter wall and decided to call it quits after receiving the job offer. I have since compensated by writing spies and espionage into my books wherever possible.

My grandfather, who was far more exciting than I am, was descended from a long line of Breton sailors, three of them honored with the Knight of the Legion of Honor. There was a Saint-Malo corsair who gave the English grief. There was also a naval commandant who under Napoleon III’s orders, accompanied admiral Fébvrier Despointes in the 1853 expedition to claim New Caledonia.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

I love time traveling and historical research. Every day is a discovery.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

While I enjoy all historical periods, I tend to gravitate towards the 18th and 19th century.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

It is rare when I remove my writer hat... Historical research is my default behavior when idle. Even travel sparks the imagination and spurs on writing ideas.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

I have written the first draft of a historical crime set in 70s and 80s Senegal. I am really excited about that book!


The Secret of Chantilly by Laura Rahme

Publication Date: November 28, 2021

Genre: Historical Fiction


"In my story, there was such a prince. And never in my wildest imagination would I have predicted that I would come to live with him, in his château."

PARIS, 1792. Antonin Carême is eight years old when he is left to fend for himself in a city about to enter the darkest days of the French revolution. The imaginative boy who yearns for a fairy tale come true soon discovers his talent for pâtisserie.

When he meets the mysterious Boucheseiche, maître d’hôtel for Napoleon’s minister, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, Carême’s world is turned upside down. Boucheseiche promises that one day, he will reveal to him the secret of Chantilly.

Appointed chef at the château of Valençay, Carême falls under the spell of the enigmatic Talleyrand. He is soon swept up in his own fairy tale – a whirlwind of princes, princesses and châteaux, with pâtisserie and scandal along the way. Then comes Napoleon’s downfall and everything changes. Can Carême place his trust in the elusive Talleyrand, that limping devil for whom no one seems to matter?

Orphan of the Terror, genius crippled by self-doubt, it will take years for Carême to finally discover the secret of Chantilly.

This is the story of a child who defied his birth to become a legend of French gastronomy and of the unimaginable friendship between two men from entirely different worlds.

From the streets of Paris to the château of Valençay, from the congress of Vienna to the dazzling ballrooms of France’s richest man, Carême recounts adventures colored with spice, humor and tenderness, but always rich with France’s history, its heritage and its great culinary art.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

 

Laura Rahme is a French-Australian author based in Brittany, France. Born in Dakar, Senegal and inspired by her Lebanese, French and Vietnamese heritage, she has a passion for covering historical and cultural ground in her writing. She has written,

The Ming Storytellers (2012) - a historical novel set in China's Early Ming Dynasty.

The Mascherari (2014) - a historical mystery with supernatural themes set in 15th century Venice.

Julien's Terror (2017) - a French Revolution psychological thriller/mystery which pays homage to her Breton origins.

Calista (2021) - a Victorian gothic horror mystery set in 19th century England and Greece.

The Secret of Chantilly (2021) — a real-life fairy tale set in France featuring the first celebrity chef, Marie-Antoine Carême (1784-1833) and one of France's most influential figures, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord.

In 2020, Laura announced that she is working on a historical crime novel set in her birth country, Senegal. The Silence of the Pirogue will explore 70s and 80s Senegal, a world she has lived.

Laura plans to craft two sequels to The Mascherari - Malefica and The Master of Cologne.

With Bachelor's degrees in Psychology and Engineering (Aerospace Avionics), she balances a 20-year career in Tech with her great love of telling stories.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 6
Guest Post at Novels Alive

Tuesday, December 7
Review at With A Book In Our Hands

Wednesday, December 8
Excerpt at Reading is My Remedy

Thursday, December 9
Review at A Girl Reads Bookss

Friday, December 10
Review at Novels Alive

Saturday, December 11
Review at Jessica Belmont

Sunday, December 12
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Monday, December 13
Review at Bookoholic Cafe

Tuesday, December 14
Review at Bibliostatic

Wednesday, December 15
Review at MTM Reads

Thursday, December 16
Review at Books, Cooks, Looks

Friday, December 17
Excerpt at Coffee and Ink
Interview at Passages to the Past

Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of The Secret of Chantilly by Laura Rahme!

The giveaway is open internationally and ends on December 17th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Secret of Chantilly

Paperback Cover Reveal: Rhapsody by Mitchell James Kaplan

Hello dear readers! Today on the blog I am very excited to share with you all the paperback cover for Mitchell James Kaplan's Rhapsody! Isn't it lovely? I reviewed it earlier this year and loved it. You can read my review here. If you're looking for a holiday gift idea for a reader in your life I highly recommend it!


Rhapsody by Mitchell James Kaplan

Paperback Publication Date: December 7, 2021
Gallery Books
Paperback; 352 pages

Genre: Biographical/Literary/Historical


“[A] shining rendition of Swift and Gershwin’s star-crossed love.” —Therese Anne Fowler, New York Times bestselling author

In the vein of the New York Times bestseller Loving Frank, this fascinating and compelling novel “will have you humming, toe-tapping, and singing along with every turn of the page” (Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author) as it explores the decade-long relationship between the celebrated composer George Gershwin and gifted musician Katharine “Kay” Swift.

When Katharine “Kay” Swift—the restless but loyal society wife of wealthy banker James Warburg and a serious pianist who longs for recognition—attends a performance of Rhapsody in Blue by a brilliant, elusive young musical genius named George Gershwin, her world is turned upside down. Transfixed, she’s helpless to resist the magnetic pull of George’s talent, charm, and swagger. Their ten-year love affair, complicated by her conflicted loyalty to her husband and the twists and turns of her own musical career, ends only with George’s death from a brain tumor at the age of thirty-eight.

Set in Jazz Age New York City, this stunning work of fiction explores the timeless bond between two brilliant, strong-willed artists. George Gershwin left behind not just a body of work unmatched in popular musical history, but a woman who loved him with all her heart, knowing all the while that he belonged not to her, but to the world.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Bookshop | Indiebound | Powell's | Target


Praise

"Kaplan (By Fire, by Water) builds an enchanting world featuring musical giants George Gershwin and Kay Swift... This spellbinding and luminous tale will linger in readers’ minds long after the final page is turned." - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

"Snappy dialogue and lush prose bring the Jazz Age to life as Kaplan takes readers from Harlem rent parties to the stage lights of Broadway... A sumptuous fictional account of a complex real-life romance, this book will stick in readers' heads like the melody of a favorite ballad."– Booklist

"RHAPSODY does it all. The novel flows as lyrically through Kaplan’s prose as the wail of the saxophones and crescendos of Gershwin’s keyboards. You can almost hear the taxi horns and clopping hooves of carriage horses in Central Park through his words as you imagine riding down Park Avenue past the towering edifices of lush mansions. As Kay becomes so absorbed in her performing as to be swept away from her audience, I read this book under that same captivation as minutes flowed into hours. Only my noisy team of hungry terriers could break my concentration."– Bookreporter.com

"Kaplan’s sweeping novel, spanning the years 1917 to 1937, portrays the life of Kay Swift, one of Broadway’s first female composers, extracting her from the shadow of her colleague and lover, George Gershwin... The history is engrossing... Kaplan’s propulsive style imparts a momentum of its own...The many disquisitions, on topics as varied as the underpinnings of American anti-Semitism to the misappropriation of Black culture by well-intentioned Whites, are interesting and important... Our verdict: Get it."- Kirkus

“A complex and involving story… It is difficult to imagine living a more incredible first half of a life than Swift’s, and Mitchell James Kaplan’s prose luxuriates in depicting her surprising and wildly artistic world.” - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Kaplan’s well-researched and well-crafted historical novel recreates the 1920s and ’30s, telling a mesmerizing story that examines their individual and intersecting lives. He explores why, for Gershwin and Swift, 'ordinary results' were not enough." - Yale Alumni Magazine

“Kaplan’s vivid prose and empathetic characterization shines a spotlight on this remarkable woman who contributed so much to American music.”—Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and Mistress of the Ritz

“A luminous journey through the jazz age in fast-paced New York City... I was utterly swept away.”—Stephanie Cowell, American Book Award–winning author of Claude and Camille and The Physician of London

“We all know Gershwin, but how many know he was ‘the man behind the woman,’ the conflicted, extraordinary Katharine ‘Kay’ Swift? Mitchell James Kaplan illuminates her in Rhapsody, bringing his impressive knowledge of history, composition, and the heart’s whims to bear on this shining rendition of Swift and Gershwin’s star-crossed love.”—Therese Anne Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of Z and A Good Neighborhood

“Mitchell James Kaplan’s Rhapsody shines a blazing light on the celebrated George Gershwin, uncovering the man behind the legend through the story of the woman he loved, Kay Swift, a brilliant musician caught in the swiftly moving mores of New York’s Jazz Age. Rich with history and packed with intricate detail, Rhapsody soars.”—Randy Susan Meyers, bestselling author of The Widow of Wall Street and Waisted

“Mitchell James Kaplan pens a lilting, jazzy ballad as catchy as a Gershwin tune, bringing to vibrant life the complicated relationship between classically trained composer Kay Swift and freewheeling star George Gershwin. Their musical bond is as powerful as their passion, and jazz-soaked, gin-drenched Broadway is their playground through the tumultuous years of the Great War and Prohibition. Rhapsody will have you humming, toe-tapping, and singing along with every turn of the page.”—Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network and The Huntress

About the Author

Mitchell James Kaplan graduated with honors from Yale University, where he won the Paine Memorial Prize for Best Long-Form Senior Essay submitted to the English Department. His first mentor was the author William Styron.

After college, Kaplan lived in Paris, France, where he worked as a translator, then in Southern California, where he worked as a screenwriter and in film production.

He lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with his family and two cats.

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Review & Giveaway: Not Quite a Marriage by Bliss Bennet


Not Quite a Marriage by Bliss Bennet

Publication Date: November 9, 2021
Paperback & eBook; 359 pages

Series: Audacious Ladies of Audley, Book #1
Genre: Historical Romance/Regency


A rebellious viscount returns to England determined to prove his worth to his long-estranged his family, but the shy mouse of a woman he was forced to marry is equally determined not to forgive or forget…

Spencer Burnett, Viscount Stiles, once swore he’d left England for good. Yet after five years of self-imposed exile in West Africa, he’s no longer the same spoiled, selfish boy who ran away from a domineering father, a disappointed grandmother, and a decidedly unwanted wife. Proving himself to the family he abandoned will be no easy task, but Spencer no longer shies away from a good fight. He hardly expects his formerly docile wife will be the hardest to convince. When Philadelphia refuses to accept his apologies—or to allow him back into her bed—Spencer finds himself tempting her into a bargain he cannot afford to lose.

Philadelphia Burnett’s desires were once as vast as the sky. But now, after suffering one devastating loss after another, the only thing she allows herself to want is a home. So when her estranged rake of a husband returns from a five-years’ absence to claim the estate promised to her, Delphie resolves to fight him every step of the way. Beechcombe Park will be a sanctuary for her, and for the wayward Audley cousins she’d promised her sister she’d always protect. She cannot, will not, suffer even one more loss.

Especially not the loss of her heart…

"Not Quite a Marriage is all about the longing. Two estranged spouses try to work their way back to one another under a rain of misunderstandings and Bennet's plumy prose ably guides the way, moving this reader utterly in the process...Not Quite a Marriage is a perfect romance, and comes with a high recommendation." All About Romance, Desert Island Keeper recommendation

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords


Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐

This year has been the year of finding incredible new voices in Historical Romance for me and I can now add Bliss Bennet to the list! Not Quite a Marriage was a fantastic read that captured me from the beginning with Philadelphia (Delphi for short) and the fun first scene with all of her female cousins. I had a lot of female cousins around me growing up so it brought back some memories!

Not Quite a Marriage tells the story of Delphi and Spencer who have been apart for 5 years after he ran away to Africa following the tragic death of his young son. Delphi is of course still hurt after his abandonment and Spencer has a long road to go to earn back her trust, and her love. She has found that she enjoys her independence since he's been gone but she gives him two months to try to win her back.

I greatly enjoyed Bliss Bennet's writing and the relationship between Delphi and Spencer, it was deep and complex considering their history. The author knows how to keep you turning the pages - it's an easy book to devour in one sitting, which I did!

Not Quite a Marriage is the first book in her Ladies of Audley series and I can't wait for the next one!


About the Author

 

Bliss Bennet writes smart, edgy novels for readers who love history as much as they love romance. Her Regency-set historical romance series, The Penningtons, has been praised by the Historical Novel Society’s Indie Reviews as “well worth following”; her books have been described by USA Today as “savvy, sensual, and engrossing,” by Heroes and Heartbreakers as “captivating,” and by The Reading Wench as having “everything you want in a great historical romance.” Her latest book is Not Quite a Marriage, the first book in the Audacious Ladies of Audley series.

Despite being born and bred in New England, Bliss finds herself fascinated by the history of that country across the pond, particularly the politically-volatile period known as the English Regency. Though she’s visited Britain several times, Bliss continues to make her home in New England, along with her husband, daughter, and one monstrously fluffy black cat.

Bliss’s mild-mannered alter ego, Jackie Horne, writes about the intersection of gender and genre at the Romance Novels for Feminists blog.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 15
Guest Post at Novels Alive

Wednesday, November 17
Review at Bookworlder

Friday, November 19
Review at Novels Alive

Monday, November 22
Review at A Girl Reads Bookss

Wednesday, November 24
Review at Reader_ceygo

Friday, November 26
Interview at Reader_ceygo

Monday, November 29
Review at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, November 30
Interview at Passages to the Past

Giveaway

Enter to win an eBook of Not Quite a Marriage by Bliss Bennet!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on November 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Not Quite a Marriage

Interview & Giveaway: Not Quite a Marriage by Bliss Bennet

Hello dear readers! I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday weekend! Today on the blog I am super excited to share my interview with Author Bliss Bennet, who is currently on tour for her latest Historical Romance, Note Quite a Marriage. My review will be up tomorrow so be sure to check back! It's a fabulous read so far and I'm looking forward to getting back to reading it tonight!

I hope you enjoy getting to know Bliss and don't forget to enter the giveaway!


Hello Bliss and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about Not Quite a Marriage!

Thanks so much for inviting me! It’s a pleasure to join you and your readers.

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

Although I was an avid romance reader as a teenager, historical romance writing is actually my third career. After I finished college, I worked in children’s book publishing for ten years, then went back to college for an MA in Children’s Literature and a PhD in 18th and 19th century British literature. After teaching for several years at Simmons College in Boston, and publishing several academic books and articles about children’s literature, I changed careers again, moving from writing about kids’ books to writing about romance. My blog about the intersection of genre and gender, Romance Novels for Feminists, ran from 2012 to 2019. Writing critically about romance novels inspired me to try my hand at writing one myself, and since 2015, I’ve written and published five historical romances, all set during the late Regency period in England.

What inspired you to write Not Quite a Marriage?

My books usually start with an idea about a character and their backstory. In the case of Not Quite a Marriage, I was haunted by the idea of a couple who had been married young, not by their own choice but for financial and dynastic reasons, whose relationship had early gone off the rails. In my head, I imagined a husband who, after experiencing a family tragedy, had run away, leaving behind his unwanted wife with little care for her feelings or well-being. I wondered, what effect would such a backstory have on both people? And five years on, could such a couple—now older, more experienced, full of regrets but still distrustful and wary—make something of their shattered pieces of a marriage? I love writing about messy, damaged people and how they struggle to find their way to a sense of wholeness, and Delphie and Spencer seemed a perfect fit for my storytelling style.

What would you like readers to take away from reading Not Quite a Marriage?

Through Delphie and Spencer’s romance, I wanted to explore what you have to do to earn another person’s forgiveness after you’ve hurt them deeply. And how you learn to forgive—both forgive others who have hurt you and also forgive yourself. Both Spencer and Delphie have to figure out when and how to forgive, each other and themselves, but also when and why not to forgive, too, another important dilemma that we all face throughout our lives. I also hope readers enjoy learning about the anti-slavery movement in early nineteenth-century England, and about Sierra Leone, the West African colony where Spencer spent his years apart from Delphie. I hope I’ve threaded research about both into their romance in an interesting, informative, but not info-dumping way.

What was your favorite scene to write?

I loved writing the “You’d rather duel than duet” scene, during which Spencer and Delphie send each other silent messages about their past history by singing warring song lyrics to one another. Spencer tries to woo Delphie with complimentary verses and overwrought sentiments—"Where’er I go I leave my heart behind me”—to which Delphie counters with lyrics that challenge and upbraid—"Thou hast left me ever, Jamie / Thou hast left me ever.”

And the scene ends with their first kiss…

What was the most difficult scene to write?

Although I knew how I wanted the book to end, I wasn’t always sure how I would get Spencer and Delphie to their HEA. I wrote about two thirds of the story, then got stuck for several months, not quite being able to figure out Delphie and Spencer’s motivations, or the motivations of Spencer’s overbearing father, who looms large in both of their lives. Luckily for me, I have several insightful critique partners who all brainstormed with me about possible reasons why Delphie and Spencer were acting the way they were. Their advice was invaluable in helping me get un-stuck. My daughter, who is a talented editor, also read an early draft and gave me some on-point suggestions for the Earl of Morse. Once I had figured out my characters, the ending of the book came together fairly quickly, thank goodness!

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Madeleine L’Engle was my favorite writer when I was a teenager, and I dreamed then of someday writing young adult fiction just like she did. But I wasn’t confident enough in myself to commit to writing full-time after I graduated from college. Instead, I worked as a book editor, and then as an academic, before once again returning to my fiction-writing dream. But my chosen genre had shifted: instead of young adult fantasy, I felt called to write historical romance. My daughter, though, is still hoping that I’ll write a fantasy for teens some day…

What does your daily writing routine look like?

I write in the mornings, five days a week (or at least that’s the goal—not always successfully met, alas). In the afternoon, I edit or do research, or work on marketing and social media tasks.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

As a person who has struggled with both depression and PMDD as an adult, my greatest writing challenge has been knowing when I need to force myself to sit down and write, and when I need to cut myself some slack because my body and mind are just not up to the task. I don’t know that I’ll ever entirely overcome this challenge, but I’ve gotten better over the years at understanding when I’m reluctant to write because I’m afraid of baring my soul (something all writers struggle with), and when I’m truly just not able to write for health reasons. My daughter gave me a quote by Jane Austen which I put over my desk: “I am not at all in a humor for writing; I must write on until I am.” It helped me get through the last third of this story, when I worried that Delphie and Spencer would never reach their HEA.

Who are your writing inspirations?

Loretta Chase got me back into historical romance reading as an adult, after I had given it up after college—such a light touch, but also so deeply historically informed! Liz Carlyle, Joanna Chambers, K J Charles, Meredith Duran, Elizabeth Kingston, Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, Erin Satie, and Olivia Waite are all historical romance writers I admire tremendously.

What was the first historical novel you read?

I’m not sure it was the first, but I have a distinct memory of reading Ivanhoe as a teen, and then telling my younger sister, a captive audience in the car after I picked her up from a swimming lesson, all I had learned from it about Richard I and Robin Hood. Kind soul, she put up with my lecturing without a complaint, then told me “You should be a teacher!”

What is the last historical novel you read?

I just finished Aster Glenn Gray’s post WWI romance, The Larks Still Bravely Singing. Her story, unlike the John McCrae poem (“In Flanders Field”) from which her book’s title is taken, is not about the Dead, but about the survivors of that horrific conflict. In particular, two former schoolmates, one British, one American, who rekindle their friendship—and perhaps something more—while recovering from the wounds they suffered during battle at a country estate turned hospital. “A wound left one weak and sad, and sometimes the sadness leaked out, that was just how it was.” I love her gentle story and characters, and the honesty of her prose.

What are three things people may not know about you?

I am a cat person, not a dog person; cats are loving but independent, perfect for me!

I’m not a coffee-drinker; I far prefer tea (Earl Gray, Lemon Ginger, Peppermint, Chai—so many flavors to enjoy!)

I’m both shy and introverted, although I can give a lecture or talk if I need to (cue that teaching experience…)

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

I’ve always been fascinated by how people come together in romantic relationship. And even more fascinated by how the times in which people live shape to a large degree their understanding of what it means to love, and to be in love, with another person. By writing historical romance, I get to explore both of these fascinations every day.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in England—likely because those are the periods I studied for my English degrees 😊

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

I like to quilt, needlepoint, read, garden, and serve as pillow for my monstrously fluffy black cat, Dusk.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

Book #2 in the Audacious Ladies of Audley series, an opposites-attract romance called Not Quite a Scandal. It features Delphie’s anti-slavery campaigning cousin, Bathsheba Honeychurch, who is on the cusp of marrying her childhood friend when his cousin, perfectly proper gentleman Noel Griffin, arrives with news of an unexpected inheritance. Noel is not at all happy to discover that his long-lost relative has a not-quite-fiancé—especially not a lady as outspoken, or as infuriatingly argumentative, as is Sheba. Or one to whom he finds himself so inconveniently, and so fiercely, attracted…

Oh that sounds wonderful! I am very much looking forward to more of this series! Thank you for spending time with us today, Bliss!


Not Quite a Marriage by Bliss Bennet

Publication Date: November 9, 2021
Paperback & eBook; 359 pages

Series: Audacious Ladies of Audley, Book #1
Genre: Historical Romance/Regency


A rebellious viscount returns to England determined to prove his worth to his long-estranged his family, but the shy mouse of a woman he was forced to marry is equally determined not to forgive or forget…

Spencer Burnett, Viscount Stiles, once swore he’d left England for good. Yet after five years of self-imposed exile in West Africa, he’s no longer the same spoiled, selfish boy who ran away from a domineering father, a disappointed grandmother, and a decidedly unwanted wife. Proving himself to the family he abandoned will be no easy task, but Spencer no longer shies away from a good fight. He hardly expects his formerly docile wife will be the hardest to convince. When Philadelphia refuses to accept his apologies—or to allow him back into her bed—Spencer finds himself tempting her into a bargain he cannot afford to lose.

Philadelphia Burnett’s desires were once as vast as the sky. But now, after suffering one devastating loss after another, the only thing she allows herself to want is a home. So when her estranged rake of a husband returns from a five-years’ absence to claim the estate promised to her, Delphie resolves to fight him every step of the way. Beechcombe Park will be a sanctuary for her, and for the wayward Audley cousins she’d promised her sister she’d always protect. She cannot, will not, suffer even one more loss.

Especially not the loss of her heart…

"Not Quite a Marriage is all about the longing. Two estranged spouses try to work their way back to one another under a rain of misunderstandings and Bennet's plumy prose ably guides the way, moving this reader utterly in the process...Not Quite a Marriage is a perfect romance, and comes with a high recommendation." All About Romance, Desert Island Keeper recommendation

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords


About the Author

 

Bliss Bennet writes smart, edgy novels for readers who love history as much as they love romance. Her Regency-set historical romance series, The Penningtons, has been praised by the Historical Novel Society’s Indie Reviews as “well worth following”; her books have been described by USA Today as “savvy, sensual, and engrossing,” by Heroes and Heartbreakers as “captivating,” and by The Reading Wench as having “everything you want in a great historical romance.” Her latest book is Not Quite a Marriage, the first book in the Audacious Ladies of Audley series.

Despite being born and bred in New England, Bliss finds herself fascinated by the history of that country across the pond, particularly the politically-volatile period known as the English Regency. Though she’s visited Britain several times, Bliss continues to make her home in New England, along with her husband, daughter, and one monstrously fluffy black cat.

Bliss’s mild-mannered alter ego, Jackie Horne, writes about the intersection of gender and genre at the Romance Novels for Feminists blog.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 15
Guest Post at Novels Alive

Wednesday, November 17
Review at Bookworlder

Friday, November 19
Review at Novels Alive

Monday, November 22
Review at A Girl Reads Bookss

Wednesday, November 24
Review at Reader_ceygo

Friday, November 26
Interview at Reader_ceygo

Monday, November 29
Interview at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, November 30
Review at Passages to the Past

Giveaway

Enter to win an eBook of Not Quite a Marriage by Bliss Bennet!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on November 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Not Quite a Marriage

Interview & Giveaway: The Mrs. Tabor by Kimberly Burns

Today on the blog I am very excited to be hosting an interview with Kimberly Burns! She is touring for her novel, The Mrs. Tabor, which I loved! You can check out my review here. I hope you enjoy getting to know her and be sure to enter the giveaway!



Hello Kimberly and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about The Mrs. Tabor!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

I grew up in the central mountains of Colorado as part of a story-telling family. Novel writing was the best way for me to share my stories with the wider world.

What inspired you to write about Baby Doe Tabor? What fascinated you about her in particular?

Everyone in my hometown knew about Baby Doe. Many people had tales of an older relative encountering her. Baby Doe was the Kim Kardashian of her time. Even if they didn’t like her, people couldn’t stop talking about her.

What research did you undertake when writing The Mrs. Tabor?

I visited Leadville and toured the Tabor Opera House and the Baby Doe’s cabin at the Matchless Mine. I read all the non-fiction I could find about her life, as well as Augusta’s and Horace’s. The Denver Public Library and the History Colorado Center have lots old newspapers, photographs and artifacts, and are good sharers.

What would you like readers to take away from reading The Mrs. Tabor?

Historically women did not had many professional or political opportunities, but they were not powerless. Women had to be pragmatic about the way they could take care of themselves. Of course, their behavior and choices should not be judged by today’s standards. To quote the book, “The laws of survival always trump the rules of etiquette.”

What was your favorite scene to write?

Baby Doe’s first visit to the Shoo Fly Saloon was fun to imagine. The saloon did exist and she was a frequent visitor, but there is no record of those conversations.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

I struggled with how to explain the demonetization of silver and the resulting economic collapse. It was complicated and dry as Aunt Millie’s Thanksgiving turkey.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

I lay in bed and think of sparkling dialogue, descriptions of beautiful settings and plot action-packed scenes. I then hop up, take the dog out, make coffee, exercise and then stare blankly at the computer screen for most of the afternoon trying to remember those wonderful lines. There must be a better way...

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer?

Have you been able to overcome it? It is a hard business to break into. I faced a lot of rejection. Finally, I decided to act those pragmatic western women – I’ll just do it myself.

Who are your writing inspirations?

Sandra Dallas, Larry McMurtry, Charles Frazier, Willa Cather, Ann Weisgerber.

What was the first historical novel you read?

I have always read historical novels, so it is hard to remember. It might have been “Little House on the Prairie”.

What is the last historical novel you read?

I just finished The Lincoln Special by Peg Lamphier. It is based on the life of Kate Warne, the first female detective to work for the Pinkertons.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

I love WWII and the American Old West. I have also been listening to several cozy British mysteries set in the 1920s.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

I read. I read eBooks while I travel. I “read” audio books while walking the dog. I read paper books while drinking wine. I also do water aerobics and play mahjongg. Apparently, I am practicing to retire to Florida.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

Oooh! I am so excited about my WIP. It is based on the true tale of Denver’s most successful madman, Mattie Silk who outfoxes morality committees and a notorious conman to deliver her own brand of justice.

Oh that sounds great! I am so ready to read that! Thanks for joining us today!


The Mrs. Tabor by Kimberly Burns

Publication Date: Septembr 10, 2021
Thomas Bard Publishing LLC.
Paperback, 384 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction


The laws of survival always trump the rules of etiquette.

Every age has its iconic blonde bombshell. In the 1880s, it's Baby Doe, America's original gold digger. At a time when genteel ladies could politely starve to death, Baby Doe seeks her fortune the best way she knows how-marrying a rich man. She joins the rush to the Colorado silver bonanza and meets millionaire mine owner Horace Tabor. Baby Doe enjoys the high life as his paramour, but Tabor's wife and his business manager plot to get rid of the new girl. Baby Doe, however, has schemes of her own to upend Horace's old relationships and become the one and only Mrs. Tabor.

But fate sweeps in and avalanches Baby Doe's dreams. What price will she pay for becoming The Mrs. Tabor?

Based on a true story, The Mrs. Tabor seduces with a scandalous tale of love and fortunes found and lost.

"A thoughtful, immersive, and deeply human look at one of history’s most famous social climbers." - Kirkis Reviews

Amazon | Bookshop | IndieBound


About the Author

 

Kimberly Burns grew up in Colorado hearing stories about the colorful characters of the Old West. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Colorado and a Masters in Organizational Behavior from the University of Hartford. While honing her skills writing dry corporate material, she indulged her passions for fiction, American history and storytelling at numerous book groups. Kimberly lives with her husband in northern Virginia.

The Mrs. Tabor is Kimberly’s debut novel. Her next book tells the story of Denver’s most successful madam, Mattie Silks. A member of the Historical Novel Society and Women Writing the West, Kimberly is available to discuss her novel with book groups in person or online.

Feel free to contact her at www.kimberlyburnsauthor.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 1
Guest Post at Novels Alive

Wednesday, November 3
Review at Passages to the Past

Saturday, November 6
Review at Curly Granny Loves to Read

Monday, November 8
Review at Books, Cooks, Looks

Friday, November 12
Review at Nat Reads

Saturday, November 13
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Monday, November 15
Interview at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, November 17
Guest Post at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Friday, November 19
Excerpt at Coffee and Ink
Review at With a Book in our Hands

Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of The Mrs. Tabor by Kimberly Burns!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on November 19th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Mrs. Tabor

Book Blast & Giveaway: Out Front the Following Sea by Leah Angstman

Today on the blog I am super excited to feature my most anticipated read of 2022, Out Front the Following Sea by Leah Angstman! There is also an awesome giveaway so be sure to enter! I hope you will add this to your TBR for next year!

Out Front the Following Sea: A Novel of King William’s War in 17th-Century New England

by Leah Angstman

Publication Date: January 11, 2022
Regal House Publishing
Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook; 334 pages

Genre: Historical / Literary / Epic / Adventure


**Finalist for the Chaucer Book Award**

OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a historical epic of one woman’s survival in a time when the wilderness is still wild, heresy is publicly punishable, and being independent is worse than scorned—it is a death sentence.

At the onset of King William’s War between French and English settlers in 1689 New England, Ruth Miner is accused of witchcraft for the murder of her parents and must flee the brutality of her town. She stows away on the ship of the only other person who knows her innocence: an audacious sailor—Owen—bound to her by years of attraction, friendship, and shared secrets. But when Owen’s French ancestry finds him at odds with a violent English commander, the turmoil becomes life-or-death for the sailor, the headstrong Ruth, and the cast of Quakers, Pequot Indians, soldiers, highwaymen, and townsfolk dragged into the fray. Now Ruth must choose between sending Owen to the gallows or keeping her own neck from the noose.

Steeped in historical events and culminating in a little-known war on pre-American soil, OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a story of early feminism, misogyny, arbitrary rulings, persecution, and the treatment of outcasts, with parallels still mirrored and echoed in today’s society. The debut novel will appeal to readers of Paulette Jiles, Alexander Chee, Hilary Mantel, James Clavell, Bernard Cornwell, TaraShea Nesbit, Geraldine Brooks, Stephanie Dray, Patrick O’Brian, and E. L. Doctorow.

Available for Pre-Order
Regal House Print | Amazon Kindle | Barnes and Noble | Bookshop | IndieBound

Pre-Order Giveaway

Preorder perk pack! If you order the paperback or hardcover directly from the publisher (Regal House) and show Leah Angstman the receipt (DM her social media sites below or email), you’ll receive a specialty perk pack with a tote bag, notebook, enamel pin, sticker, magnet, button, pen, bookmark, and more! (U.S. only)

Book Reviewers
Request an ARC | Read on Netgalley | Read on Edelweiss | Read on Book Sirens


Praise

“With OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA, Leah Angstman reveals herself as a brave new voice in historical fiction. With staggering authenticity, Angstman gives us a story of America before it was America—an era rife with witch hunts and colonial intrigue and New World battles all but forgotten in our history books and popular culture. This is historical fiction that speaks to the present, recalling the bold spirits and cultural upheavals of a nation yet to be born.”
—Taylor Brown, author of PRIDE OF EDEN, GODS OF HOWL MOUNTAIN, and THE RIVER OF KINGS

“Steeped in lush prose, authentic period detail, and edge-of-your-seat action, OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a rollicking good read. Leah Angstman keeps the story moving at a breathtaking pace, and she knows more 17th-century seafaring language and items of everyday use than you can shake a stick at. The result is a compelling work of romance, adventure, and historical illumination that pulls the reader straight in.”
—Rilla Askew, author of FIRE IN BEULAH, THE MERCY SEAT, and KIND OF KIN

“Lapidary in its research and lively in its voice, OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA by Leah Angstman is a rollicking story, racing along with wind in its sails. Though her tale unfolds hundreds of years in America’s past, Ruth Miner is the kind of high-spirited heroine whose high adventures haul you in and hold you fast.”
—Kathleen Rooney, author of LILLIAN BOXFISH TAKES A WALK and CHER AMI AND MAJOR WHITTLESEY

“Leah Angstman has written the historical novel that I didn’t know I needed to read. OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is set in an oft-forgotten time in the brutal wilds of pre-America that is so vividly and authentically drawn, with characters that are so alive and relevant, and a narrative so masterfully paced and plotted, that Angstman has performed the miracle of layering the tumultuous past over our troubled present to gift us a sparkling new reality.”
—Kevin Catalano, author of WHERE THE SUN SHINES OUT and DELETED SCENES AND OTHER STORIES

“OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a fascinating book, the kind of historical novel that evokes its time and place so vividly that the effect is just shy of hallucinogenic. I enjoyed it immensely.”
—Scott Phillips, author of THE ICE HARVEST, THE WALKAWAY, COTTONWOOD, and HOP ALLEY

“OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a meticulously researched novel that mixes history, love story, and suspense. Watching Angstman’s willful protagonist, Ruth Miner, openly challenge the brutal world of 17th-century New England, with its limiting ideas about gender, race, and science, was a delight.”
—Aline Ohanesian, author of ORHAN’S INHERITANCE

“Leah Angstman is a gifted storyteller with a poet’s sense of both beauty and darkness, and her stunning historical novel, OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA, establishes her as one of the most exciting young novelists in the country. Angstman plunges the reader into a brilliantly realized historical milieu peopled by characters real enough to touch. And in Ruth Miner, we are introduced to one of the most compelling protagonists in contemporary literature, a penetratingly intelligent, headstrong woman who is trying to survive on her wits alone in a Colonial America that you won’t find in the history books. A compulsive, vivid read that will change the way you look at the origins of our country, Leah Angstman’s OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA announces the arrival of a preternatural talent.”
—Ashley Shelby, author of MURI and SOUTH POLE STATION

“Rich, lyrical, and atmospheric, with a poet’s hand and a historian’s attention to detail. In OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA, Leah Angstman creates an immersive world for readers to get lost in and a fascinating story to propel them through it. A thoroughly engaging and compelling tale.”
—Steph Post, author of HOLDING SMOKE, MIRACULUM, and WALK IN THE FIRE

“It’s a rare story that makes you thankful for having read and experienced it. It’s rarer still for a story to evoke so wholly, so powerfully, another place and time as to make you thankful for the gifts that exist around you, which you take for granted. OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a book rich with misery, yet its characters are indefatigable; they yearn, despite their troubles, for victories personal and societal. Leah Angstman’s eye is keen, and her ability to transport you into America’s beginnings is powerful. With the raw ingredients of history, she creates a story both dashing and pensive, robust yet believable. From an unforgiving time, Angstman draws out a tale of all things inhuman, but one that reminds us of that which is best in all of us.”
—Eric Shonkwiler, author of ABOVE ALL MEN and 8TH STREET POWER AND LIGHT

“Rich in deeply researched detail, and peopled by complex characters, OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a fascinating story that is bound to entrance readers of historical fiction.”
—Kathleen Grissom, author of THE KITCHEN HOUSE and GLORY OVER EVERYTHING

“From the squalor, prejudice, and violence of 17th-century America, Leah Angstman has summoned to life the most extraordinary young woman. Ruth Miner insists on surviving, building a life, and being true to her odd independent self, despite the whole world seeing her as worthless filth. Angstman creates a hypnotically real and brutal world and then manages to infuse it with humor and beauty and a moving tale of love. The reader will follow Ruth Miner anywhere, and be the richer for it.”
—Heather O’Neill, author of THE LONELY HEARTS HOTEL, LULLABIES FOR LITTLE CRIMINALS, THE GIRL WHO WAS SATURDAY NIGHT, and DAYDREAMS OF ANGELS

“This book moved me in ways that I didn’t expect. … The deeply researched and historically authentic world is vivid and immersive, and it captivated me from the first pages. … An amazing story of love, perseverance, and survival, OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is both dark and hopeful. A wonderful mix of action, suspense, history, and romance, this is a story that will stay with you a long time after finishing it.”
—One Book More


About the Author

 

Leah Angstman is a historian and transplanted Michigander living in Boulder. OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA, her debut novel of King William’s War in 17th-century New England, is forthcoming from Regal House in January 2022. Her writing has been a finalist for the Saluda River Prize, Cowles Book Prize, Able Muse Book Award, Bevel Summers Fiction Prize, and Chaucer Book Award, and has appeared in Publishers Weekly, L.A. Review of Books, Nashville Review, Slice, and elsewhere. She serves as editor-in-chief for Alternating Current and The Coil magazine and copyeditor for Underscore News, which has included editing partnerships with ProPublica. She is an appointed vice chair of a Colorado historical commission and liaison to a Colorado historic preservation committee.

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Book Blast Schedule

Monday, November 15
Cover Lover Book Review

Wednesday, November 17
Passages to the Past

Monday, November 22
Momma Doc Reads

Wednesday, November 24
SJ Through the Looking Glass

Monday, November 29
Robin Loves Reading

Friday, December 3
With A Book In Our Hands

Giveaway

Enter to win an Advanced Reading Copy of Out Front the Following Sea + coffee mug + tote bag from Leah Angstman!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on December 3rd. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Out Front the Following Sea Book Blast

Review & Giveaway: A Lady in Attendance by Rachel Fordham


A Lady in Attendance by Rachel Fordham

Publication Date: June 1, 2021
Revell

Genre: Historical Fiction/Christian/Romance


Five years in a New York state reformatory have left a blemish on Hazel's real name. So when she takes a job as Doctor Gilbert Watts's lady in attendance in 1898, she does so under an alias. In the presence of her quiet and pious employer, Hazel finds more than an income. She finds a friend and a hope that if she can set her tarnished past in order, she might have a future after all.

As Gilbert becomes accustomed to the pleasant chatter of his new dental assistant, he can't help but sense something secretive about her. Perhaps there is more to this woman than meets the eye. Can the questions that loom between them ever be answered? Or will the deeds of days gone by forever rob the future of its possibilities?

Rachel Fordham pens a tender tale of a soft-spoken man, a hardened woman, and the friends that stand by them as they work toward a common purpose--to expunge the record of someone society deemed beyond saving--and perhaps find love along the way.

"A Lady in Attendance draws you in from the first page and leaves you captivated until the oh-so-romantic conclusion. A poignant and beautifully written story of faith, forgiveness, and the healing power of love."--Mimi Matthews, USA Today bestselling author


Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million


Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Oh my stars, this has to be one of the sweetest romances I've ever read! I was excited to read this book, especially after seeing all of the great reviews posted during the tour, and I can safely say that it is magnificent!

Hazel is newly released from a House of Refuge after being mistakenly convicted of burglary. She is from a good home this event leaves a stain on her reputation and her family has asked her not to return home as it would hurt her sister's chances at finding husbands. Desperately she changes her name and hides her past and begins looking for a job and a place to live. She applies to be a lady in attendance, a fairly new career for young women of the time, to a Dentist and luckily he gives her a chance. Gilbert, or Dr. Watts, is a reputable man with a quiet nature and is quite content with his solitary life. That is until Hazel begins working for him. Despite his warnings that this would be a strictly business arrangement, their connection can't be overlooked by either of them. Gilbert knows she is hiding something from her past but it will take some time before she talks to him about it. They then work together to help clear her name so that she can be reunited with her family.

I absolutely adored this read! The chemistry between Hazel and Gilbert is off the charts and I swear every time they had a scene together there would be a huge smile on my face. They are just too cute for words! I also loved Ina, Hazel's friend and roommate.

If you enjoy slow-burn sweet romances you definitely need to pick up A Lady in Attendance! It's just so, so, so good! Now excuse me while I race off to buy Fordham's previous books!

About the Author

 

Rachel Fordham has long been fascinated by all things historical or in the words of her children “old stuff”. Often the historical trivia she discovers is woven into her children's bedtime tales. Despite her love for good stories she didn’t attempt writing a novel until her husband challenged her to do so (and now she’s so glad he did). Since that time she’s often been found typing or researching while her youngest child naps or frantically writing plot twists while she waits in the school pick-up line. In addition to her passion for storytelling she enjoys reading, being outdoors and seeing new places. Rachel lives with her husband and children on an island in Washington state.

Learn more about current projects at rachelfordham.com. You can also follow Rachel on Facebook, Instagram, BookBub, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 11
Guest Post at Novels Alive

Tuesday, October 12
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Wednesday, October 13
Excerpt at I'm Into Books

Thursday, October 14
Review at Library of Clean Reads
Review at Michelle the PA Loves to Read

Friday, October 15
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Saturday, October 16
Review at Reading Is My SuperPower

Monday, October 18
Review at Novels Alive

Tuesday, October 19
Excerpt at Heidi Reads

Wednesday, October 20
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Excerpt at Books and Benches
Review at Robin Loves Reading

Thursday, October 21
Interview at The Book Club Network

Friday, October 22
Review at Ms. Darcy Reads

Monday, October 25
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Tuesday, October 26
Excerpt at Reading is My Remedy

Wednesday, October 27
Guest Post at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Thursday, October 28
Review at McCombs on Main

Friday, October 29
Excerpt at The Tea Queen

Monday, November 1
Review at Bookoholiccafe

Tuesday, November 2
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Excerpt at Lisa Everyday Reads

Wednesday, November 3
Excerpt at Bookworlder

Friday, November 5
Review at Passages to the Past

Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of A Lady in Attendance by Rachel Fordham!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on November 5th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

A Lady in Attendance

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