A Slave of the Shadows Blog Tour: Interview with Author Naomi Finley + Kindle Fire Giveaway

Happy Monday, dear readers! I am kicking off this week with a fabulous interview with Naomi Finley where we discuss her debut novel, the first in a new series, A Slave of the Shadows! We also have a chance for a lucky reader to win a Kindle Fire HD and signed copy of A Slave of the Shadows!


Hello, Naomi, and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about A Slave of the Shadows!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and A Slave of the Shadows?

A Slave of the Shadows is my debut novel. The novel takes place in Charleston, South Carolina, in the 1850s. It’s Book 1 of my series set in the Antebellum era. The story is filled with adventure, mystery, hope, and some romance. I wouldn’t consider Book 1 to be a historical romance. However, Book 2 does have a little more romance than the first.

I’m a passionate person, and I’ve always been a dreamer. My mind never shuts off. I’m a lover of numbers and words. I’ve been a business owner for over ten years, and there is something about making numbers balance on a bank reconciliation that gives me great satisfaction. It’s the same exhilaration I get from seeing a storyline coming together.

A Slave of the Shadows is the first book in your Slave of the Shadows series. What can we expect with the other titles in the series?

In Book 2, A Guardian of Slaves, you can expect the anticipated reunion of Ruby with her father. Also, in Book 2, Willow and Whitney will work together with the abolitionists in the fight to free slaves. Dangers arise that threaten Livingston Plantation. We see a wedding, but I won’t mention who. New mysteries unfold, and new character reveals add to a thickened plot, aligning the story for Book 3.

Originally, I’d planned to make the series three books, but it seems like the series may turn into four books. The storyline is grand, and I don’t think I can fit it all into three books. I don’t like a storyline that's rushed by skipping years, as much as I don’t want it to be drawn out. It’s about finding the right balance that will keep the readers happy and turning pages to see what happens next.

What type of research did you do for the books?

When writing each book in the series, the first thing I do as I start figuring out the storyline is to book a trip to Charleston, South Carolina. I visit as many of the museums and plantations I can while there. The insight and inspiration I gather is crucial to the development of the novels. I’m non-stop reading any pieces of history I can about the Antebellum era.

On top of that, my novels are evaluated by a historical fiction specialist before they go to editing. My editors also specialize in historical fiction.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

As a teen, I wrote novellas as a way to escape my home life. I was the third oldest in a house of seven girls, and my sisters often would harass me to tell them stories. However, I never saw myself becoming a writer. It wasn’t until two years ago, having suffered two great losses of influential men in my life (one being a great role model) and the stress of running my own businesses that I realized I needed an outlet. I realized writing was something I wanted to pick up again. At the time I was unaware of the abundance of work it takes to write and write well. I now live and breathe writing and can’t imagine life without it.

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

My greatest challenge as a writer is time. Though I start my days at anywhere between 3-5 A.M., there aren’t enough hours in the day.

Who are your writing inspirations?

My writing inspirations are Francine Rivers and Kate Quinn.

What was the first historical novel you read?

I can’t recall the first historical fiction I’ve read but it would most likely be something by Janet Oak or Michael Phillips. However, those novels aren’t the type of historical fiction I’d choose now.

What is the last historical novel you read?

The last novel I read was Madam of My Heart by Gini Grossenbacher. I’m currently reading Slipper by Hester Velmans.

*Note from Amy -- I just finished reading SLIPPER! It's so good!

What are three things people may not know about you?

Even though I’m a social person, I’m just as content being alone. Public speaking scares the life out of me. I think Princess Diana was the most elegant and beautiful woman of our time. As a young girl, I’d go to the library and read everything to do with the royal family. I think I was meant to be a princess but was put in the wrong life.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

History has always fascinated me. But I’d say human strength and triumph amaze and inspire me and for this reason, writing in this genre appeals to me.

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

I gravitate toward reading about the Antebellum-era period and ancient Rome and Egypt.

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

I’m addicted to traveling and find any excuse to head to a new destination. I also enjoy throwing dinner parties and decorating.

Thank you so much for this enlightening interview, Naomi! I cannot wait to read this series!


A Slave of the Shadows by Naomi Finley

Publication Date: March 5, 2018
Huntson Press Inc.
eBook & Paperback

Genre: Historical Fiction


In 1850 Charleston, South Carolina, brutality and cruelty simmer just under the genteel surface of Southern society. In an era where ladies are considered mere property, beautiful and headstrong Willow Hendricks’ father has filled her life with turmoil, secrets, and lies.

Her father rules her life until she finds a kindred spirit in spunky, outspoken Whitney Barry, a northerner from Boston. Together these Charleston belles are driven to take control of their own lives—and they are plunged into fear and chaos in their quest to fight for the rights of slaves. Against all odds, these feisty women fight to secure freedom and equality for those made powerless and persecuted by a supposedly superior race.

Only when they’ve lost it all do they find a new beginning.

Book 1 presents Willow and Whitney—and the reader—with the hardships the slaves endure at the hands of their white masters.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Chapters Indigo | iBooks | Kobo


About the Author

Naomi lives in Northern Alberta. Her love for travel means her suitcase is always on standby while she awaits her next plane ticket and adventure. Her love for history and the Deep South is driven by the several years she spent as a child living in a Tennessee plantation house. She comes from a family of six sisters. She married her high school sweetheart and has two teenage children and two dogs named Ginger and Snaps.

Creativity and passion are the focus of her life. Apart from writing fiction, her interests include interior design, cooking new recipes, throwing lavish dinner parties, movies, health, and fitness.

A Slave of the Shadows is her first novel.

For more information, please visit Naomi Finley's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.



Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, April 23
Interview at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, April 24
Excerpt at Donna's Book Blog

Wednesday, April 25
Feature at Creating Herstory

Friday, April 27
Interview at Maiden of the Pages

Monday, April 30
Review at Books and Glamour

Tuesday, May 1
Excerpt at Teaser Addicts Book Blog

Thursday, May 3
Feature at Button Eyed Reader

Friday, May 4
Feature at A Holland Reads

Monday, May 7
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Tuesday, May 8
Feature at Just One More Chapter

Thursday, May 10
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Friday, May 11
Feature at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Saturday, May 12
Review at Cup of Sensibility

Monday, May 14
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, May 16
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Review & Interview at Clarissa Reads it All

Friday, May 18
Review at Nicole Evelina's Blog

Tuesday, May 22
Review at Reviewing Nerds

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a Kindle Fire HD 8" 32GB & signed copy of A Slave of the Shadows! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 22nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US/UK/Canada only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

A Slave of the Shadows






Interview with Susan McDuffie + Giveaway of Death of a Falcon

It's FRIYAY! Happy Friday, dear reader! Today, author Susan McDuffie stops by to talk about her latest novel, writing, research, and her next projects! I also have a giveaway for 5 paperback copies & 5 eBooks, so be sure to enter below!



Hello Susan and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about The Death of a Falcon!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and The Death of a Falcon.

Thanks so much for hosting me, Amy, I am so happy to be here with you today! THE DEATH OF A FALCON takes place in Edinburgh in 1375. It’s the fourth in the Muirteach MacPhee Mysteries; the others are A MASS FOR THE DEAD, THE FAERIE HILLS, and THE STUDY OF MURDER. In THE DEATH OF A FALCON Muirteach MacPhee and his wife, Mariota, travel to Edinburgh Castle, where they encounter glamorous courtiers, gyrfalcons, and Nordic tumblers. There’s a murder, of course, and that sad mystery threatens far more than the rule of law. I absolutely loved researching and writing this book and really wanted it to see the light of day; I am thrilled it is now released.

What inspired you to write the Medieval Mysteries Series?

The series was originally sparked by the history of my own Scottish clan, the MacDuffie/MacFie Clan. I had a great-uncle who was a bit of a Scottish nerd, as I am myself, I guess. He founded the MacDuffie Clan Society in the States and as a child I heard stories of the MacDuffies, and their role as Record Keepers for the Lords of the Isles. It all sounded very mysterious and exotic to me. When I was a little older, my own trips to Scotland inspired me; I felt very much at home there.

What drew you to write in the Medieval Era?

The Celtic Lordship of the Isles lasted from the mid 1300s until the late 1400s in Scotland, but little has been written about them in historical fiction. It seemed like a fascinating era to explore; the MacDonald, the Lord of the Isles, wielded a tremendous amount of power and presided over a confederation of clans in the Highlands and Islands that lasted a hundred and fifty years. Once the Lordship fell apart a power vacuum led to the clan feuding in the 1600s. The Lordship of the Isles and life in the Highlands and Islands at that time had quite different flavor from the more feudal Norman-influenced scene in the Lowlands, and I wanted to explore that as well.

What type of research did you do for the books?

I’ve done extensive research for this series and visited Scotland a few times as well, but each book has a particular theme—fairy changeling lore inspired THE FAERIE HILLS, and the Voynich Manuscript, THE STUDY OF MURDER. Research for THE DEATH OF A FALCON led me far, far afield. The original idea was something with the Knights Templar, perhaps missing Templar Treasure. I knew I wanted Henry Sinclair as a character. As the research progressed I blundered on stories of the Norse and the vanished settlements in Greenland. I grew fascinated by that, and it became crucial to the plot. I got very carried away researching the Norse in the North Atlantic and America; there’s some very interesting archaeological work in the High Arctic these days showing there most likely was more contact between the Norse and Native Peoples than was previously thought. There could be another book or two there.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I was always a voracious reader but didn’t consider writing until my late 30s. I was feeling a bit burned out at work and picked up a couple of Harlequin romances from the paperback book exchange (this was in the 80s heyday of historical romance) and I thought, “Oh, I could do this!” Little did I know how much hard work was involved.

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

Procrastination, and everyday is a struggle!

Who are your writing inspirations?

I would say Ellis Peters, author of the Brother Cadfael series, for one. The picture of her at about age eighty sitting in front of her typewriter with her Coke bottle glasses is an inspiration and I hope I’m following in her footsteps in twenty years or so! Other writers I adore are Rosemary Sutcliff, Frank Tallis, Pauline Gedge, and there are many, many others.

What is the first historical novel you read?

I always gravitated to historical fiction, even as a child. I thought I was born in the wrong century. I can’t remember the first historical novel I read; I used to select books based on time period, but the one that undoubtedly had a huge impact was WITCH OF THE GLENS, by Sally Watson. Set in Scotland, of course! I believe it is still in print.

What is the last historical novel you read?

THE MEPHISTO WALTZ by Frank Tallis--I gobbled that book up like one of the Viennese pastries he so splendidly describes. I’ve also recently enjoyed THE MERMAID AND MRS. HANCOCK by Imogen Hermes Gowar, and am currently reading THE SEA ROAD by Margaret Elphinstone.

What are three things people may not know about you?

I often review books for the Historical Novels Review. Besides my cats I consider my garden snails “pets”. My “virtual husband” (we’ve been “dating” for twenty five years) is from the Pueblo of Cochiti and has six dogs; he carves old-style animal carvings, called fetishes, and also paints.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

I love the opportunity to travel mentally to different locales and time periods. I’m fascinated by how culture and environment shapes people’s characters and worldviews, and like to have that accurately reflected in the books I read and write.

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

It depends on how good the writing is; if the writing is good it doesn’t matter so much what the period is, although I hardly ever read contemporary settings.

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

I love my flamenco dance classes; we’re getting ready for a recital and practicing a “Columbianas”, a dance that is seldom taught, as well as castanets. I also enjoy cooking, knitting, sometimes sewing.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

Currently I am editing a new spin-off of the Muirteach books, set about twenty years later, in 1390 or so. The working title is THE SUICIDE SKULL. Also I’m working on a new series set in the 1940s Southwest—quite a change of pace. Muirteach needs another story, too—he’s in hot water at the end of THE DEATH OF A FALCON--so there’s a lot to do these days!

Sounds exciting! Thanks so much for taking the time to be with us today!


The Death of a Falcon: A Muirteach MacPhee Mystery by Susan McDuffie

Publication Date: March 2, 2018
Liafinn Press
eBook & Paperback; 310 Pages

Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: Muirteach MacPhee Mystery, Book 4


Scotland, 1375: Muirteach MacPhee and his wife Mariota visit Edinburgh Castle, assisting the Lord of the Isles in his negotiations with King Robert II. A trading vessel arrives at the nearby port of Leith from the far away Norse settlement in Greenland. The ship brings unexpected diversion and carries coveted wares: gyrfalcons, unicorn's horns, and fine furs. Both King Robert and the Lord of the Isles desire the rare birds, easily worth a king's ransom.

Muirteach and Mariota, unaccustomed to the sophistication of castle life, initially find pleasure in the heady and flirtatious glamor of the royal court. Then sudden and unexpected cruelty, followed by the senseless death of a beautiful young girl, plunge the couple into a murky sea of alliances and intrigue that stretches from Scotland across the icy western ocean to the far northern lands of the Norse, leaving trails of treachery and murder in its wake.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Praise for the Award-Winning Muirteach MacPhee Mysteries

“McDuffie brings. this period to life in such a way that the reader is transported. Her characters are rich and multi-faceted. . . the perfect blend of history, rich in historical detail, and a mysterious investigation.” -The Most Happy Reader

“A superb mystery, and historically correct in every aspect. McDuffie knows her Scottish history and this period intimately and is a powerful storyteller.” -Reading the Ages

“Well-paced and engrossing.” -Kirkus Reviews

“A good choice.” -Library Journal

“Well worth reading.” -CelticLady’s Reviews

About the Author

A fan of historical fiction since childhood, Susan McDuffie spent such vast amounts of time reading stories set in the past that she wondered if she had mistakenly been born in the wrong century. As an adult her discovery that Clorox was not marketed prior to 1922 reconciled her to life in this era. Susan’s childhood interest in Scotland was fueled by family stories of the McDuffie clan’s ancestral lands on Colonsay and their traditional role as “Keeper of the Records” for the Lords of the Isles. On her first visit to Scotland she hitchhiked her way through the Hebrides, and her initial visit to Colonsay and the Oronsay Priory ruins planted the seeds for her medieval mysteries. Those seeds have grown into the Muirteach MacPhee mysteries, set in medieval Scotland during the Celtic Lordship of the Isles. The series includes A MASS FOR THE DEAD, THE FAERIE HILLS (2011 New Mexico Book Awards “Best Historical Novel”), THE STUDY OF MURDER (New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards Finalist 2014), and THE DEATH OF A FALCON. Susan frequently presents at workshops and conferences and regularly reviews historical fiction books for the Historical Novel Society’s “Historical Novels Review.

Susan lives in New Mexico and shares her life with a Native American artist and four cosseted cats. She enjoys taking flamenco dance classes in her spare time. Susan loves to hear from readers and can be contacted via Facebook or through her website.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, April 16
Excerpt at Teaser Addicts Book Blog

Wednesday, April 18
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Friday, April 20
Interview at Passages to the Past

Monday, April 23
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Feature at View from the Birdhouse

Wednesday, April 25
Feature at Maiden of the Pages

Saturday, April 28
Excerpt at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Monday, April 30
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, May 1
Review at Bibliophile Reviews

Thursday, May 3
Review at Donna's Book Blog

Monday, May 7
Interview at Reading the Past

Tuesday, May 8
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Thursday, May 10
Review at A Darn Good Read
Review at The Caffeinated Bibliophile

Friday, May 11
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at CelticLady's Reviews

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 5 paperback copies & 5 eBooks of The Death of a Falcon! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 11th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Death of a Falcon


Tour Wrap Up: Joseph Pillitteri’s Courage Between Love and Death Blog Tour & Giveaway

Hello, dear readers! Today is the last day for Joseph Pillitteri's Courage Between Love and Death Blog Tour and I have a few reviews to share with you from the tour. It's also the last day to enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Stephanie from 100 Pages a Day gives the book 5 stars: "This is an in-depth and interesting view of the assassination of President McKinley. The historical facts of McKinley's assassination attempt, operation and death were expertly woven into an exciting fictional story. The development of El's character also let me see how an Irish family living in Buffalo was treated at the time. El's development throughout the story and courage to find love where she wasn't looking was a sweet interlude in an otherwise tragic tale."

LuAnn at Back Porchervations also gave it 5 stars and says: ""I spent most of my time reading Courage Between Love and Death on the edge of my chair. Even thinking about it now raises my heart rate a couple of beats. I've said more than once that I really enjoy historical fiction based on historical fact (such as McKinley's assassination), or a person of historical interest (past Presidents, for example). The facts are fleshed out (even though fictionally) and it makes the events more real to someone only able to read about them more than century later. I definitely want to learn more about the author's other literary adventures!"

Carole's Ramblings says: "The cover was what I caught my eye when I first saw this book. It really drew me in. The story was interesting too. It follows Elspeth and her family who are Irish and trying to make it in New York. Elspeth was an interesting character. I really enjoyed reading and following her. There was a lot of drama at the hospital and in her personal life. It was hard not to like her and want her to get everything and live in peace. I also liked how this really showed how primitive the medical industry was then. In the end, this was a good read."


Courage Between Love and Death by Joseph Pillitteri

Publication Date: March 29, 2018
Fireship Press
eBook & Paperback; 302 Pages

Genre: Historical/Romance/Medical/Political


Elspeth has recently landed a nursing position at the 1901 Pan American Exposition Hospital in Buffalo, New York. This is a big boon for her, but things are not going as expected. She has to navigate mischievous patients, egotistical doctors, rival nurses and prejudices. For an Irish girl with a temper, this is no easy feat. Now President McKinley is coming to visit the Expo and everyone is in an uproar. On the home front, her life is no less hectic as she struggles to put food on the table and look out for her younger siblings.

When the unthinkable happens, it is a turning point, not only for the medical industry and our country’s security, but also for Elspeth personally. With her career and reputation on the line, will she have the courage to overcome the challenges she faces to clear her name and continue to be there for the ones she loves?

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Praise for Courage Between Love and Death

“…Pilliterri deftly weaves together the state of medicine, the social class spectrum and a light love story…the chaos of the surgery on the President and the anxious days till his death provide palpable tension...” —Dr. Jean Richardson, Associate Professor, Emeritus, SUNY Buffalo State College

“…Joseph Pillitteri’s writing is flawless and delightful. The tension builds up very fast and doesn’t slow down until the satisfying conclusion. Courage Between Love and Death is focused, deft, and balanced, and the reader will follow the protagonist through her emotional and psychological turmoil until the very last page. A gripping story with great historical references, it’s an edge of the seat read. Courage Between Love and Death by Joseph Pillitteri is a historical novel that is well-researched and written to great satisfaction.” —Christian Sia, Readers’ Favorite

“Courage Between Love and Death is a well-researched and masterfully crafted historical novel with strong characters and a mesmerizing plot. Apart from developing a very strong conflict, Joseph Pillitteri does a brilliant job in weaving powerful dialogues and intrigue into the story. The reader is transported into an atmospheric world with medical personnel, strong personalities, and a historic event that will remain engraved in the minds of many. There is so much to enjoy in this novel — the drama, the emotional and psychological intensity of the story, the excellent prose and the compelling characters. I was sucked into the narrative from the very first page.” —Romuald Dzemo, Readers’ Favorite

About the Author

While working at Roswell Park Memorial Hospital in Buffalo, NY, Joseph Pillitteri became intrigued by the role Dr. Park played in the surgery of President McKinley at the 1901 Pan American Exposition. It was a pleasure to shape facts and fiction together to tell the story.

Previous works by Pillitteri include When the Giraffe Runs Down (Dial Press), Two Hours on Sunday (Dial Press), The Abortion (Penguin Books), and Life Pulse (Penguin Books).

Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, March 29
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Friday, March 30
Feature at A Bookaholic Swede

Saturday, March 31
Feature at What Is That Book About

Monday, April 2
Review at Back Porchervations
Feature at Clarissa Reads it All

Tuesday, April 3
Feature at T's Stuff

Wednesday, April 4
Feature at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Friday, April 6
Review at Cup of Sensibility

Sunday, April 8
Review at Carole's Ramblings

Tuesday, April 10
Feature at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, April 12
Feature at Donna's Book Blog

Tuesday, April 17
Feature at A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, April 18
Tour Recap at Passages to the Past

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on April 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Courage Between Love and Death


Gini Grossenbacher's Madam of My Heart Blog Tour & Giveaway

Happy Monday, dear readers! Today I am super excited to be kicking off Gini Grossenbacher's Blog Tour for Madam of My Heart, the first book in her American Madams series! You can read all about the book below, check out the schedule of stops for the blog tour, and enter to win a copy of this gorgeous novel!


Madam of My Heart by Gini Grossenbacher

Publication Date: February 6, 2017
eBook & Paperback; 476 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-0998380605

Series: American Madams, #1
Genre: Historical Fiction/Victorian


Baltimore, 1849. During a scandalous crisis, the young Irish Brianna Baird flees her home at Fells Point. With little cash and only a seamstress's trade, she braves the hypnotic streets of New Orleans. The tantalizing Madam DeSalle lures her to her brothel, then sells her to the dashing but questionable gambler, Edward Spina, who falls in love with her. In a tawdry alliance with these two profiteers, Brianna embarks on a journey through the French Quarter's debauched and glittering Voodoo world. Facing the horrors of slavery, she triumphs by gaining freedom papers for her maid Emma's enslaved husband and son. Brianna and Edward escape with them to San Francisco. There she becomes one of the most sought after madams in the gold rush parlor house trade. But will her fame and pluck be enough to save Edward from the Vigilante noose? This is the first book in the American Madams series.

"A debut historical novel that chronicles the struggles, loves, and joys of an exceptional madam in 19th-century America. Grossenbacher's book, the first in a planned series, dramatizes the early life and busy career of a woman named Brianna Baird. Grossenbacher's prose is both graceful and inventive. She absorbingly limns the various cities Brianna inhabits, from New Orleans and its 'web of Creole cottages, chaotic marketplaces, and secretive balconies, simmering outside her window, ' to the rowdy atmosphere of frontier-era San Francisco. The occasional marvelous metaphor will surprise readers, as when 'the truth hit Brianna like a badly aimed bowling pin.' This isn't just a novel for lovers of history's more prurient corners; it's for everyone who likes well-deployed language and intense stories. A seamier side of American history, engagingly told through one woman's unexpected adventures." -Kirkus Reviews, A Recommended Review

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound


About the Author

California author Gini Grossenbacher was a successful high school English teacher until she abandoned grades and term papers, choosing to write historical novels instead. Now she leads small writing groups and coaches other writers. She loves researching the history behind her novels, and enjoys traveling to the setting where they take place. Her hobbies include needlepoint, nature walks, and Scrabble. She lives in the Sacramento Valley where she grew up, east of San Francisco.

For more information, please visit Gini's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, April 16
Feature at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, April 17
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Interview at The Princess and the Pen

Wednesday, April 18
Review at A Book Geek
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, April 19
Review at A Bookaholic Swede

Friday, April 20
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Saturday, April 21
Interview at Be Inspired By Books

Sunday, April 22
Review at Clarissa Reads it All

Monday, April 23
Review at Janice Mess
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, April 24
Feature at The Lit Bitch
Feature at CelticLady's Reviews

Wednesday, April 25
Excerpt at LadyJ's Bookish Nook

Thursday, April 26
Review at Carole's Ramblings
Interview at Donna's Book Blog

Friday, April 27
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Monday, April 30
Review at Cup of Sensibility
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away two copies of Madam of My Heart! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on April 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Madam of My Heart


Lady Helena Investigates Blog Tour Wrap Up!

Happy Friyay, dear readers! Today is the last day of Jane Steen's Lady Helena Investigates Blog Tour and today I am sharing some of the reviews and links from the tour. It's also the last day for the giveaway, so be sure to enter to win a copy!

Read an Interview with Author Jane Steen at Let Them Read Books

Reviews from Bloggers

What Cathy Read Next

"I really enjoyed Lady Helena Investigates – a lovely example of a light, entertaining historical mystery."

Pursuing Stacie

"This book was, simply put, utterly brilliant. The characters are full of depth and wonderfully fleshed out, the scenes and circumstances set up beautifully. I loved watching the progression of Helena’s character. Watching the story unfold, getting to know the characters and enjoying the obvious writing skills of Jane Steen is why I am heartily recommending this book and eagerly awaiting the next installment of the series."

Rachael's Ramblings

"I really enjoyed the book; it’s a well-flowing easy read and I thought Helena made an excellent protagonist, well-developed and believable. Throughout the narrative, she shows herself to be extremely kind and keen to do good, but never comes across as pious or sanctimonious. Jane Steen has done a cracking job; I felt emotionally invested in Helena’s story and was glad to see her get some closure towards the end. The book is set up nicely for a sequel and I look forward to seeing Helena continue to come into her own, as well as learning more about the mysterious Monsieur Fortier."

View From the Birdhouse

"I love historical fiction and especially enjoy historical mysteries. I found Lady Helena Investigates to be an engrossing novel from the first pages. Lady Helena is an intelligent, independent thinking woman in early 1880's England. I really enjoyed seeing her thought process and watching her emerging independence over the course of this novel. The mystery was well done and kept me guessing! I am glad to read that this is the first in a new series, because I already look forward to reading more."

Based on a True Story

"I loved Helena. I will definitely read the next book in this series."

Silverwood Sketches

"I haven't enjoyed historical fiction this much in years. From the beginning, Steen paints the era and imagery of the English countryside in beautiful shades, yet with air of mystery. I found it easy to step into Lady Helena's heeled boots as she suffers through the death of her husband, due to a tragic accident. Jane Steen is a master storyteller, weaving the heartaches of grief with familial affairs and new relationships in a way which truly transcends time. Lady Helena Investigates challenges conventional period tropes while transporting the reader to a time as complex as ours, yet rife with the nostalgia modern audiences crave. Beautiful language and sensual prose, Jane Steen has gifted us with a modern classic."


Lady Helena Investigates by Jane Steen

Publication Date: March 14, 2018
Aspidistra Press
eBook; 359 Pages
ASIN: B079SMGC7S

Series: Scott-De Quincy Mysteries, Book One
Genre: Historical Mystery


A reluctant lady sleuth finds she’s investigating her own family.

Step into Lady Helena Whitcombe’s world with the first novel in a series that will blend family saga and mystery-driven action with a slow-burn romance in seven unputdownable investigations.

1881, Sussex. Lady Helena Scott-De Quincy’s marriage to Sir Justin Whitcombe, three years before, gave new purpose to a life almost destroyed by the death of Lady Helena’s first love. After all, shouldn’t the preoccupations of a wife and hostess be sufficient to fulfill any aristocratic female’s dreams? Such a shame their union wasn’t blessed by children . . . but Lady Helena is content with her quiet country life until Sir Justin is found dead in the river overlooked by their grand baroque mansion.

The intrusion of attractive, mysterious French physician Armand Fortier, with his meddling theory of murder, into Lady Helena’s first weeks of mourning is bad enough. But with her initial ineffective efforts at investigation and her attempts to revive her long-abandoned interest in herbalism comes the realization that she may have been mistaken about her own family’s past. Every family has its secrets—but as this absorbing series will reveal, the Scott-De Quincy family has more than most.

Can Lady Helena survive bereavement the second time around? Can she stand up to her six siblings’ assumption of the right to control her new life as a widow? And what role will Fortier—who, as a physician, is a most unsuitable companion for an earl’s daughter—play in her investigations?

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Praise for The House of Closed Doors Series

"I cannot praise Jane Steen enough for her ability to build a world that captures every essence of an era. She was able to take the singularly focused plot of an unwed teen and wrap her journey with the social, political and cultural values of the day. Within this framework the reader is given an eyewitness experience into the daily realities of homemaking, transportation, fashion, society's value of women and those less fortunate as well historical events such as commerce, war and the Chicago fire."

"I loved this book. It was well written and well edited. The story captured me on the first few pages and held my interest to the last page. I forced myself to close the book at midnight! Moves nicely along from scene to scene. Some of the heroine's choices were not what I expected and when I thought I had unraveled the whole mystery, I hadn't. Just an overall satisfying reading experience! Loved it."

"Engrossing historical fiction that really stays with the characters (who are well-crafted) and doesn't go for the obvious cliches. I loved Nell, the protagonist, and so many others...Martin and Tess especially. I admit I kind of wanted it to end a certain way, but the ending the author chose was a braver one for Nell, and more true to who she'd been throughout the novel. The historical backdrop was interesting, but it was the character work that really drew me in, and the mystery."

"Extremely well written story! I couldn't put it down, and pulled an all-nighter reading it. I was mesmerized by this story, and captivated by the depth of characterization."

About the Author

Jane Steen was born in England and, despite having spent more years out of the British Isles than in, still has a British accent according to just about every American she meets.

Her long and undistinguished career has included a three-year stint as the English version of a Belgian aerospace magazine, an interesting interlude as an editor in a very large law firm, and several hectic years in real estate marketing at the height of the property boom. This tendency to switch directions every few years did nothing for her resume but gave her ample opportunity to sharpen her writing skills and develop an entrepreneurial spirit.

Around the edges of her professional occupations and raising children, she stuck her nose in a book at every available opportunity and at one time seemed on course to become the proverbial eternal student. Common sense prevailed, though, and eventually she had the bright idea of putting her passion for books together with her love of business and writing to become a self-published author.

Jane has lived in three countries and is currently to be found in the Chicago suburbs with her long-suffering husband and two adult daughters.

For more information, please visit Jane Steen's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, March 12
Feature at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, March 13
Feature at To Read, Or Not to Read

Wednesday, March 14
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Thursday, March 15
Feature at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Friday, March 16
Interview at Let Them Read Books
Feature at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, March 20
Feature at Donna's Book Blog

Wednesday, March 21
Review at Rachael's Ramblings
Feature at The Lit Bitch

Tuesday, March 27
Review at View from the Birdhouse

Wednesday, March 28
Feature at Susan Heim on Writing

Friday, March 30
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective

Tuesday, April 3
Review at Based on a True Story

Wednesday, April 4
Review at SilverWood Sketches

Thursday, April 5
Feature at A Bookaholic Swede

Wednesday, April 11
Review at What Cathy Read Next
Feature at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, April 12
Feature at Teaser Addicts Book Blog

Friday, April 13
Tour Wrap Up at Passages to the Past

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away two eBooks of Lady Helena Investigates by Jane Steen! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on April 13th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Lady Helena Investigates


Mary Sharratt's Ecstasy Blog Tour & Giveaway


Ecstasy by Mary Sharratt

Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Hardcover & eBook; 400 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Literary



In the glittering hotbed of turn-of-the-twentieth century Vienna, one woman’s life would define and defy an era.

Gustav Klimt gave Alma her first kiss. Gustav Mahler fell in love with her at first sight and proposed only a few weeks later. Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius abandoned all reason to pursue her. Poet and novelist Franz Werfel described her as “one of the very few magical women that exist.” But who was this woman who brought these most eminent of men to their knees? In Ecstasy, Mary Sharratt finally gives one of the most controversial and complex women of her time center stage.

Coming of age in the midst of a creative and cultural whirlwind, young, beautiful Alma Schindler yearns to make her mark as a composer. A brand new era of possibility for women is dawning and she is determined to make the most of it. But Alma loses her heart to the great composer Gustav Mahler, nearly twenty years her senior. He demands that she give up her music as a condition for their marriage. Torn by her love and in awe of his genius, how will she remain true to herself and her artistic passion?

Part cautionary tale, part triumph of the feminist spirit, Ecstasy reveals the true Alma Mahler: composer, daughter, sister, mother, wife, lover, and muse.

Available in Hardcover & eBook:
Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Indiebound

Also in AudioBook:
Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million


Praise for Ecstasy

“In ECSTASY, Mary Sharratt plunges the reader into the tumultuous and glamorous fin de siècle era, bringing to life its brilliant and beguiling leading lady. Finally, Alma Mahler takes center stage, surging to life as so much more than simply the female companion to the brilliant and famous men who loved her. Sharratt’s portrait is poignant and nuanced, her novel brimming with rich historic detail and lush, evocative language.” - Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of The Accidental Empress

“A tender, intimate exploration of a complicated woman, Mary Sharratt’s ECSTASY renders in exquisitely researched detail and fiercely imagined scenes the life of Alma Mahler — daughter, wife, mother, lover, and composer — and the early 20th Century Vienna and New York in which she came of age. I loved this inspiring story of an early feminist standing up for her art.” - Meg Waite Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Race for Paris

“Evocative and passionate, ECSTASY illuminates through its tempestuous and talented heroine a conundrum that resonates across the centuries: how a woman can fulfill her destiny by being both a lover and an artist.” - Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us and The Stormchasers

“Mary Sharratt makes a triumphant return to the page with this masterful portrait of Alma Mahler, the wife of the famous composer Gustav Mahler. Set in a time and place when a woman could only hope to be the power behind the throne, Sharratt brings a meticulously researched and richly illuminated account of a young woman who was a brilliant composer in her own right. Alma may have had to suppress her own talents to support Mahler; however, ECSTASY reveals that she was a woman who “contained multitudes.” ECSTASY is an important work of historical fiction, as well as a timely and topical addition to the canon of knowledge that needs to better represent important women and their contributions.” - Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books

“Alma Mahler’s unexpected, often heartbreaking journey from muse to independence comes to vivid, dramatic life in Mary Sharratt’s ECSTASY. Sharratt skillfully evokes turn-of-the-century Vienna and the musical genius of the era, returning Alma to her rightful place in history as both the inspiration to the men in her life and a gifted artist in her own right.” – C.W. Gortner, bestselling author of Mademoiselle Chanel

“Mary Sharratt has more than done justice to one of the most interesting, shocking, and passionate women of the 20th century. Overflowing with life and lust, ECSTASY explores this flawed but fascinating woman who was not only muse but a genius in her own right.” - New York Times Bestseller, M.J. Rose

“A deeply affecting portrait of the woman rumored to be the most notorious femme fatale of turn-of-the-century Vienna. Mary Sharratt’s ECSTASY is as heartbreaking and seductive as Alma Mahler herself.” —Kris Waldherr, author of Doomed Queens and Bad Princess

About the Author

MARY SHARRATT is an American writer who has lived in the Pendle region of Lancashire, England, for the past seven years. The author of the critically acclaimed novels Summit Avenue, The Real Minerva, and The Vanishing Point, Sharratt is also the co-editor of the subversive fiction anthology Bitch Lit, a celebration of female antiheroes, strong women who break all the rules.

Her novels include Summit Avenue, The Real Minera, The Vanishing Point, The Daughters of Witching Hill, Illuminations, and The Dark Lady's Mask.

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

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, April 10
Review at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, April 11
Feature at Passages to the Past

Thursday, April 12
Review at Bookfever
Review at Unabridged Chick

Friday, April 13
Interview at Unabridged Chick
Review at View From the Birdhouse

Saturday, April 14
Review at Clarissa Reads it All

Monday, April 16
Review at Cup of Sensibility

Tuesday, April 17
Review at Based on a True Story

Wednesday, April 18
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Thursday, April 19
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective

Friday, April 20
Review at Linda's Book Obsession

Sunday, April 22
Review at Carole Rae's Random Ramblings

Monday, April 23
Review at A Bookaholic Swede

Tuesday, April 24
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Wednesday, April 25
Review at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, April 26
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

Friday, April 27
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Monday, April 30
Review at Caryn, the Book Whisperer

Tuesday, May 1
Review at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, May 3
Interview at The Writing Desk

Monday, May 7
Review at What Cathy Read Next

Wednesday, May 9
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Thursday, May 10
Review at Writing the Renaissance

Friday, May 11
Interview at Writing the Renaissance

Monday, May 14
Interview at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, May 16
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Thursday, May 17
Review at Nicole Evelina

Friday, May 18
Interview at Nicole Evelina

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a paperback copy of Ecstasy! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Ecstasy


Michelle Saftich's Port of No Return Blog Tour & Giveaway


Port of No Return by Michelle Saftich

Publication Date: July 31, 2015
Odyssey Books
eBook & Paperback; 244 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction


Contessa and Ettore Saforo awake to a normal day in war-stricken, occupied Italy. By the end of the day, their house is in ruins and they must seek shelter and protection wherever they can. But the turbulent politics of 1944 refuses to let them be.

As Tito and his Yugoslav Army threaten their German-held town of Fiume, Ettore finds himself running for his life, knowing that neither side is forgiving of those who have assisted the enemy. His wife and children must also flee the meagre life their town can offer, searching for a better life as displaced persons.

Ettore and Contessa’s battle to find each other, and the struggle of their family and friends to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of a devastating war, provide a rich and varied account of Italian migration to Australia after World War II.

What can you do when you have nowhere left to call home? Port of No Return considers this question and more in a novel that is full of action, pain and laughter — a journey you will want to see through to the very end.

Port of No Return is the first novel in a series of two.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

About the Author

Michelle Saftich is a first time author who resides in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband and two children. She holds a Bachelor of Business/Communications Degree, majoring in journalism, from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). For the past twenty years, she has worked in communications, including print journalism, sub-editing, communications management and media relations. In 1999, she was named National Winner for Best News Story in the ASNA (Australian Suburban Newspaper Awards). Born and raised in Brisbane, she spent ten years living in Sydney; and two years in Osaka, Japan, where she taught English.

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

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, April 9
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Tuesday, April 10
Feature at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, April 11
Feature at The Writing Desk

Thursday, April 12
Review at Dressed to Read

Friday, April 13
Guest Post at Dressed to Read
Interview at Maiden of the Pages

Monday, April 16
Review at Books and Glamour

Tuesday, April 17
Feature at Being Anne

Thursday, April 19
Feature at Time 2 Read
Review at Teaser Addicts Book Blog

Monday, April 23
Review at What Cathy Read Next
Review at The Caffeinated Bibliophile

Friday, April 27
Review at Books of a Shy Girl

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on April 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Port of No Return


2018 Release: The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry


The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry

Publication Date: August 30, 2018
Canongate Books
Hardcover, 448 pages
ISBN: 1786893789

A vivid and gripping historical crime novel set in 19th century Edinburgh, from husband-and-wife writing team Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman

Edinburgh, 1847. City of Medicine, Money, Murder.

Young women are being discovered dead across the Old Town, all having suffered similarly gruesome ends. In the New Town, medical student Will Raven is about to start his apprenticeship with the brilliant and renowned Dr Simpson.

Simpson's patients range from the richest to the poorest of this divided city. His house is like no other, full of visiting luminaries and daring experiments in the new medical frontier of anaesthesia. It is here that Raven meets housemaid Sarah Fisher, who recognises trouble when she sees it and takes an immediate dislike to him. She has all of his intelligence but none of his privileges, in particular his medical education.

With each having their own motive to look deeper into these deaths, Raven and Sarah find themselves propelled headlong into the darkest shadows of Edinburgh's underworld, where they will have to overcome their differences if they are to make it out alive.

Guest Post by A.E. Wasserman + Giveaway of 1886: Ties That Bind

Happy Friday, dear readers! Today on the blog please welcome author A.E. Wasserman! A.E.'s be on a Blog Tour and today is the last day so be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to read 1886: Ties That Bind.


It’s Not There by A.E. Wasserman

It’s not there. Not now. Hasn’t been for a long time. It’s a mirage in the mind. A memory on the wind. I never saw it. I can only imagine it. The largest lake west of the Mississippi. Larger even than Lake Tahoe. It was the vast Tulare Lake.

I’m sitting beside the Settlers Ditch that was originally built to tie into the lake-that-isn’t-there, watching the water flow by at quite a clip. It carries melted snow down from the High Sierras into California’s Central Valley. Designed to control where the runoff water went, to protect fields from flooding while providing water for them at the same time, it’s a little canal, hand dug by settlers nearly a century and a half ago. Called a ditch in these parts, it’s maybe six feet wide, three feet deep. Large or small, it doesn’t matter. In California, it’s all about the water. Always has been. Always will be.

A twig bobs past like a mini-raft while my dog, Topper, stretches down the embankment and laps up a cold drink on this warm spring day. He was born just a couple ranches over. My own ranch is an hour east, up in the foothills of the Sierras. I love both the jagged mountains and these flat ranch lands equally, but for different reasons. Today I sit here on the steep old ditch bank. I share the sun with the fields. I look back up at the snowcapped peaks.

The Tulare Lake was the terminus for the watershed off those southern Sierra Mountains as well as much of the coastal mountains to the west. The lake was a natural water basin where wildlife abounded. People think of the California Gold Rush as what first made California wealthy, but the real gold was the water.

Watching the sun splinter off the rippling current, I hear the whispers of the past. The slight breezes carry the land’s memories and I listen.

For ten thousand years, the Native Americans thrived around the massive lake. The Yokuts came down from the Sierras to fish and hunt when the winter snows closed in; there were pow-wow gatherings with the coastal Chumash who came to trade shells and ocean fish for woven tule baskets. Here, the lake offered trout, salmon, sturgeon, mussels and terrapin. The woods surrounding the water was home to herds of antelope, deer, and elk, to solitary cougars, and majestic grizzly bears. The riparian areas were perfect for the willows and cottonwoods as well as tule reeds.

When white settlers arrived, often disillusioned seekers of gold, they envisioned more, wanting to claim land and build homesteads. Welcoming them, the Native Americans who wintered in the foothills, including what is now my ranch, guided white man to see the giant Sequoia trees and the breath-taking Yosemite Valley. All the peoples, the settlers, the natives, were friendly. The Tulare Lake provided the water they needed, and the vast valley offered sixty thousand square miles of land. There was plenty for everyone.

While researching for my novel 1886 Ties That Bind, I found one first-hand account from 1857 that offers a description of the lake. The settler, Mr. J.M. Barker, had started out on horseback one November day with an “old Englishman,” his neighbor, to search for some horses of theirs that had “strayed away.” Little did he know the massive earthquake of 1857 would strike.

We shaped our course to skirt the shores of Tulare Lake, between what is known as Cross Creek and Kings River. At this time Tulare Lake was a very large sheet of water, about one hundred miles in length by thirty miles in width at its widest place.

I dismounted and led my horse by the bridle, and walked to the edge of the water to look for tracks. Just as l reached it, the ground seemed to be violently swayed from east to west. The water splashed up to my knees; the trees whipped about, and limbs fell on and all around me. I was affected by a fearful nausea, my horse snorted and in terror struggled violently to get away from me, but I hung to him, having as great a fear as he had himself. Of course, all this occupied but a few seconds, but it seemed a long time to me. The lake commenced to roar like the ocean in a storm, and, staggering and bewildered, I vaulted into the saddle and my terrified horse started, as eager as I was to get out of the vicinity.

I found my friend, who had not dismounted, almost in a state of collapse. He eagerly inquired, while our horses were on the run and the lake was roaring behind us, "What is this?" I replied, "An earthquake! Put the steel to your horse and let us get out of this!" and we ran at the top of our speed for about five miles.

We observed several hundred antelopes in a state of the wildest confusion and terror. They ran hither and thither, creating a great dust, stumbling and falling over each other in mortal fear.

We returned the next day and found that the lake had run up on the land for about three miles. Fish were stranded in every direction and could have been gathered by the wagon-load. The air was olive with buzzards and vultures eager for the feast, but the earth had acquired its normal condition.

By 1886, fictional Sally Baxter, the strong ranch gal in my novel, had a ranch along the Settler’s Ditch, dug a dozen years earlier. She was just north of the Tulare Lake and like all the ranchers in the area, her family depended on the newer ditch and lake system. Water was diverted from the lake during the dry season into other ditches leading to fields. But it wasn’t long before the settlers and ranchers needed more land to grow more crops and run more cattle. As demand for the ranches continued to grow, larger canals were built, diverting the rivers that fed the lake. The lake was shrinking.

The railroad brought more opportunity and more people. The towns required more and more water management each decade. It took a good bit of time. And a lot of government money. Slowly but surely, the surface area of Tulare Lake continued to diminish as the water was controlled.

Seventy-five years after Sally ran her ranch, by the 1960’s, the last of the foothill dams was built and all the remaining water to the Tulare Lake was finally choked off.

Now, instead of fish and trees and wild game, acres of crops abound. Hay, cotton, and rice paddies. Corn fields. Tomatoes and potatoes. Onions. Wheat and grapes. Dairies and cattle. Orchards. High tech irrigation controls have been installed by corporate ranches to sustain these thirsty fields. The satellite view of California shows a vague outline of the deepest part of where the huge lake bed had once been, in spite of the earth having been plowed and planted, in spite of the crisscrossing roads or the interstate that slices it.

But from the earth, there is no resemblance of what once was there. No small forest along a water’s marshy edge. Not one antelope or elk there. Or fish. No lake. Like the California grizzly bears, the lake has vanished. Today the Native Americans are tucked away on their reservations with casinos. I wonder if they even have pow-wows with one another. I should stop and visit some of the elders and ask.

I am sad about what was that is no more.

But I understand why. Producing food is vitally important. Supply chain. Development. Progress. Profit.

Today I am sitting smack dab in the middle of a forty two billion dollar agricultural industry. Forty. Two. Billion. I cannot even imagine how much money that is. Debates can go on about the pros and the cons—if trading the lake away was a good thing or not. It doesn’t matter because it’s done. I eat the food that’s grown here as do so many others.

But I wish I’d seen Tulare Lake—paddled a canoe around its marshy edges, caught sight of a bald eagle, or glimpse a small kit fox.

Topper comes over for an ear scratch, which I happily provide.

What will the next century bring to the Valley? How will it change the face and the function of this wonderful place? I don’t know any more than the Yokut Indians did in the early part of the 19th Century. I write historical novels, not futuristic ones. My heart picks up the past when I sit still, open to the stories. I listen to those echoes and picture what it must have been like. I travel back in time in my mind’s eye to find the tales the wind is telling. Change brought us from “then” to “now.” While the future doesn’t come to me on the wind, it is a given that from today on there will be more changes—some we can predict, others not.

Today will become history. Some historical writer in the future may very well research the past, wondering what life was like way back in 2018, when I was sitting on the banks of the Settler’s Ditch with a Border Collie named Topper, remembering a lake-that-isn’t-there.


1886 Ties That Bind: A Story of Politics, Graft, and Greed by A.E. Wasserman

Publication Date: November 8, 2016
Archway Publishing
Hardcover, Paperback, & eBook; 370 Pages

Series: Langford Series, Book #2
Genre: Fiction/Historical



It is 1886 as Englishman Lord Langsford travels by train to San Francisco. Newly widowed, Langsford is desperate to escape his grief, demons, and life in England. As Langsford completes the last leg of his transcontinental journey, his life unexpectedly changes once again when he crosses paths with Miss Sally Baxter, a beautiful rancher who packs a pistol in her purse.

Sally has made it her mission to find the men who robbed a train and killed her brother. Unfortunately, no one—not even the owners of the Southern Pacific Railroad—seem to care. Unable to resist her pleas, Langsford offers to help Sally and soon becomes entangled in a web of politics, corruption, and greed. As murder, threats, and attacks ensue that endanger both Sally and Langsford, influential men in both California and Washington, D.C. jockey for positions of power. Langsford, who finds himself oddly attracted to Sally, now must sort through criminals and politicians alike to discover the truth behind her brother’s death and prevent his own murder.

“Not only is this a fast-paced historical mystery, 1886 Ties That Bind offers commentary on the political and social issues that are still relevant today.” – Helga Schier, PhD, author and founder of With Pen and Paper

"Wasserman’s writing is atmospherically rich. Very strongly recommended." – Historical Novel Society, London, critical review of 1884 No Boundaries

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble


About the Author

The daughter of a newspaperman, A.E. Wasserman grew up in a household filled with books and stories. At age 14, she wrote her first novella and never stopped writing.

She is the author of a new mystery/thrillers series, the first of which takes place in London: 1884 No Boundaries, A Story of Espionage and International Intrigue. The second in the Langsford Series, 1886 Ties That Bind, A Story of Politics, Graft and Greed, has just been released.

Her work, critically acclaimed as “richly atmospheric,” is being noticed by readers and critics alike, and has garnered international attention, not only in the U.S., but Europe and the U.K. as well. She recently received top honors from Writer’s Digest for her work.

After graduating from The Ohio State University, she lived in London, then San Francisco. Currently she resides in Southern California with her family and her muse, a Border Collie named Topper.

For more information, please Visit the author’s web site at www.aewasserman.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, February 27
Feature at Passages to the Past

Saturday, March 3
Excerpt at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Sunday, March 4
Interview at T's Stuff

Wednesday, March 7
Excerpt at Let Them Read Books

Friday, March 9
Feature at What Is That Book About

Monday, March 12
Interview at Donna's Book Blog

Thursday, March 15
Review at Locks, Hooks, and Books

Tuesday, March 20
Review at Teaser Addicts Book Blog

Thursday, March 22
Review at Impressions in Ink

Friday, March 23
Excerpt at A Literary Vacation

Friday, April 6
Interview at  Passages to the Past

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away two eBooks of 1886 Ties That Bind by A.E. Wasserman! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on April 6th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

1886


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