RELEASE BLITZ: Turtle Bay by John Patrick #LGBTQ #historical @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing

Title: Turtle Bay

Series: Tides of Change, Book Two

Author: John Patrick

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 06/28/2022

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 85400

Genre: Historical, LGBTQIA+, gender-bending, cross-dressing, businessman, humor, law enforcement, political, PTSD, Postwar America, sexual discovery

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Description

It’s 1947, and New York City is awaiting the construction of the new United Nations building, the FBI is actively pursuing Communists and Soviet spies as the Cold War begins to build, and homosexual men have even more reasons to hide who they are.

Uptight FBI Agent Arthur Mason is so deep in the closet he doesn’t even realize he’s in one. Clueless about his own sexuality, he’s surprised at his reaction to both Hans Schmidt and his twin sister, Ada. Under pressure from work, Mason investigates Hans and his boarders, including the highly suspicious Hank Mannix, a known member of the Communist Party. Though Mason can’t seem to locate Ada, he can’t stop thinking about Hans and keeps going back to visit.

Hans Schmidt is a cross-dressing German immigrant running a boarding house for “a certain type of man,” and he wants nothing to do with Agent Mason and his ill-fitting suits and bad haircut. Until he begins to see Mason more as a man and less as a government official.

Hans enjoys dressing as a woman from time to time, and once his feelings for Arthur begin to change, he realizes he needs to share his Ada persona if they are to have a future together.

Secrets on both sides must be revealed and cherished beliefs challenged if these two men are to find the love and happiness they deserve.

This story can be read on its own; however, characters from book one, Dublin Bay, play a prominent role as secondary characters, so it’s recommended to read that first.

Excerpt

Turtle Bay
John Patrick © 2022
All Rights Reserved

Hans

Even after five years in America, Hans still startled every time the telephone rang—an abrupt, clanging sound insisting on attention. Why couldn’t a country capable of producing an atomic bomb be able to create a more discreet way of letting a person know about an incoming call? He vaguely remembered the phones in Ireland giving a soft chime first, before beginning to ring in earnest, but his time there had been short and chaotic, always one step ahead of capture, so he couldn’t be sure.

He didn’t remember the sound of telephones in Germany at all, even though he knew one hung on the wall in the university’s administration office. He pictured it there next to the corkboard but couldn’t reconstruct its sound.

He hoped the new dial telephone would have a more melodious tone. Assuming the phone company ever got around to swapping out his candlestick model for something more modern as they had been promising for months.

The telephone sat atop the counter in the small reception hallway. Hans swiveled his stool and picked up the entire device, bringing the mouthpiece forward and lifting the receiver close to his ear. He was surprised a call had even come through; most of the operators had gone out on strike.

“Schmidt’s Boarding House, Hans Schmidt speaking.”

“Hans, old boy! It’s Wally, up in Albany.”

“Oh, Wally, so good to hear from you. Is this business or pleasure?”

“Business, I’m afraid. I have a live one for you. And don’t forget I’m still on a party line here.”

That was code for anyone could be listening. Hans appreciated the reminder. The boarding house had its own private line, and he sometimes forgot most people outside the city still used party lines. As if to prove the point, Hans heard muffled soft breathing in the background.

He sighed and glanced at the wall clock, mentally rearranging his calendar for the afternoon. “Hold on.” He placed the transmitter back on the desk, switched the receiver to his left hand, and pulled a pad and pencil out of the drawer. He leaned closer to the mouthpiece so he could still be heard. “A day or two’s notice would make a nice change. But go on.”

“Sorry, there was no advance notice this time. He came right up to the counter and said, ‘One-way ticket to New York City, please, next available bus.’ You’ve got two more hours. I’m certain of this one, Hans. We served together.”

“Oh, were you…?”

“No. Nothing like that,” Wally responded. “But I knew, of course.”

“I understand. Greyhound?” Hans asked.

“Yes, arrives at three thirty.”

That was good news at least. The Greyhound terminal was next to Penn Station, which was only a half-hour walk if he hurried.

“Would you recommend Ada or Hans?”

“Oh, Ada for sure, dear boy. This one seems quite skittish. A direct approach won’t do. He needs to see what’s possible,” Wally replied. “He’s a good kid, Hans. Don’t let him get swallowed up by the Y.”

“Understood, and thanks for the tip. What will he be wearing?”

Wally laughed, and the connection broke up a bit. “Oh, not to worry. You can’t miss him.” Hans heard a click as someone hung up, or perhaps someone else picked up to check if the line was available.

“Will you be coming down yourself anytime soon?” Hans asked. “You absolutely must see David Brooks in Brigadoon. He’s in a kilt most of the time. We could make a weekend of it.”

“That sounds grand! Maybe next month.”

They exchanged a few additional pleasantries and ended the call.

Hans needed at least an hour to get Ada ready, and he was thankful he hadn’t yet put on cologne. He’d planned a shopping trip this afternoon to resupply a few staples—coffee, tea, and biscuits for the ladies’ reception parlor—but that could be rescheduled. But he couldn’t put it off for too long; the ladies did not like to run out of biscuits during their social hour.

As he descended the stairs to Ada’s room on the garden level—a New York euphemism for below ground—he was reminded how much easier things were for men. He wore a simple gray suit with a narrow navy tie, appropriate for all seasons and conservatively bland. Why, a fellow could disappear into any crowd wearing such an outfit.

Ada, though—she had a much tougher go of it. It was spring, technically, but still quite chilly. She’d need something…delightful. Yes, Hans thought, that was the right word. Not too frivolous, but sufficiently feminine to show the world there was still joy in beauty. But she’d also need to wear an outercoat and sensible enough shoes for a bit of a walk. She wouldn’t want to invite scrutiny, but she’d want people to see her and appreciate the effort she’d made.

Hans stepped into Ada’s room and opened the closet. He considered his options. He’d have to use last spring’s coat; he hadn’t had the time or funds to completely reoutfit this season. But it would do the job. It was robin’s-egg blue with a fitted waist rather than a belt. Five oversized white buttons ran down its length. Sadly, American fashion houses continued to insist on outrageously padded shoulders even now, nearly two years after the war’s end.

A thrill ran through Hans as he stood in front of Ada’s closet. It always did, right before the transformation.

He eyed the spring dress he’d bought two weeks ago and knew it would be perfect. He took it out of the closet and laid it flat on the bed. It was a creamy off-white cotton, with a hint of pink. It dropped to midcalf and had a layer of tulle underneath the skirt—an extravagant use of material that would have been unthinkable only a year ago, when rationing and scarcity were just starting to give way. Large red cherries created a pattern, and a back zipper allowed for a smooth, uninterrupted front.

Hans removed his suit and his baggy, shapeless boxers, making a mental note to remember to take the clothes back to his own room, behind the kitchen. He spent the next half hour on underclothing and shapewear, then makeup, and finally a softly curling blonde wig that matched his natural hair color.

Hans was more comfortable dressed as a woman than he was dressed as a man. He always had been; it’s what got him in trouble back in Germany.

Dressed as a woman, Hans absolutely sparkled. His slight frame and delicate features fit Ada better than they fit Hans, and more than once he wondered what it would have been like to have been born as Ada. He’d met men who claimed to actually be women, deep inside, but he didn’t fully grasp that. At the heart of it, Hans liked being a man and being attracted to other men. He just liked dressing and acting like a woman sometimes.

It was enough for him.

The dress itself—the item everyone saw—was the easiest part but for the back zipper, which he managed eventually.

He slipped on square-heeled navy shoes, tied a gauzy pink scarf around his hair as protection against the breeze, and then headed out the door.

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Meet the Author

Author John Patrick is a Lambda Literary Award finalist living in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts, where he is supported in his writing by his husband and their terrier, who is convinced he could do battle with the bears that come through the woods on occasion (the terrier, that is, not the husband). An introvert, John can often be found doing introverted things like reading or writing, cooking, and thinking deep, contemplative thoughts (his husband might call this napping). He loves to spend time in nature—“forest bathing” is the Japanese term for it—feeling connected with the universe. But he also loathes heat and humidity, bugs of any sort, and unsteady footing in the form of rocks, mud, tree roots, snow, or ice. So his love of nature is tempered—he’s complicated that way.

John and his husband enjoy traveling and have visited over a dozen countries, meeting new people, exploring new cultures, and—most importantly—discovering new foods.

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BOOK TOUR: The Infidelity Curse by Barbara Monajem #historicalromance @BarbaraMonajem

The Infidelity Curse

Perilous Secrets Book 3

by Barbara Monajem

Genre: Historical Romance

The death of her cruel husband means freedom at last for Lucretia Tifton—until she learns that the guardian he chose for her longed-for baby is the latest in a line of earls known for separating their children from unfaithful wives. The elusive new earl is certain to hear the gossip about Lucretia. Will he believe it and prove to be as heartless as his ancestors?

Giles, the Earl of Netherbroke, wants nothing more than to work in his London shop, building furniture with beautiful marquetry finishes. If unexpectedly inheriting the earldom isn’t bad enough, now he’s saddled with an unwanted guardianship. What’s worse, the baby’s mother is the loveliest woman he’s ever seen.

Giles is almost certain Lucretia is an adulteress—and the more he learns about her, the more he understands why she might have betrayed her husband. Nevertheless, he is determined not to succumb, like his ancestors, to the Infidelity Curse.

But then Lucretia is suddenly in danger, and the only way to protect her is to make her his.

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theinfidelitycurse - excerpt

Setup: At the reading of Sir Matthew Tifton’s will, all is going well, except for the unpleasant presence of Sir Matthew’s nephew, Mr. Welton, who has already disrupted the proceedings twice. And then…

“There remains the question of guardianship, which is somewhat unusual,” Mr. Briggs, the solicitor, said.

Oh, God. Lucretia hadn’t thought of that.

“Sir Matthew appointed the Earl of Netherbroke as guardian of his child.” He paused. “Also as trustee, jointly with myself.”

“What the devil? I am meant to be the guardian!” Mr. Welton sprang up. “And the sole trustee, damn you!”

“Mr. Welton, if you cannot restrain yourself,” Mr. Briggs said, “Lady Tifton will be obliged to ask her footman to remove you.”

“Pah! She wouldn’t dare,” Welton said, “not with what I know about her.” He jabbed an accusing finger at Lucretia.

She shrank away. What could he possibly know? She’d never done anything wrong, except . . .

Welton couldn’t know about Johnny Magee. He lived in London and was nowhere near Sussex when the baby was conceived.

“Who,” Noelle demanded, “is the Earl of Netherbroke?”

“He is an elderly peer who lives in Gloucestershire,” Lucretia said. “Sir Matthew and the Earl of Netherbroke were enthusiastic medal collectors. They met once at an auction and corresponded for a short while well over a year ago. Sir Matthew’s passion for marquetry was due to the Earl’s influence. I suppose my husband decided, judging by a brief acquaintance and some expensive furniture from the shop the Earl recommended, that the Earl would make a suitable guardian.” Fury swelled within her, but she strove to keep it from her voice. Surely a doddering earl was better than horrid Mr. Welton.

Mr. Briggs nodded. “Most likely due to his position in society.”

“Society be damned. My uncle feared for his life and the safety of his child.” Welton’s spittle flew. “He knew his precious wife had cuckolded him over and over, and then she tried to poison him with her noxious brews. What sort of mother would she be?”

Aghast, Lucretia clapped a hand to her breast. “No, no! I made him tisanes of healing herbs.” Her voice trembled. “He was ill. I tried to cure him!”

“Hah! You would claim that, wouldn’t you—but you don’t deny that you cuckolded him.”

Before Lucretia could gain control of her voice, he turned to Jellicoe, the valet. “You know all about this, don’t you? Sir Matthew valued you. He confided in you, didn’t he?”

“Yes, sir, he did,” Jellicoe said. “He believed Lady Tifton was trying to kill him. He feared the consequences to the child’s immortal soul if it was left to its mother’s care.”

Welton shook his fist at Lucretia. “You killed him because he was going to change his will. No. More likely he had already changed it, using the services of a more competent solicitor than this fellow. And then you burned it so no one would ever know.”

Lucretia quailed, shaking her head. “No, that’s not true.”

“You’re a whore and a murderess,” he shouted. “You may try to cozen the Earl of Whatshisname, but you won’t succeed. I’ll do whatever it takes to see that he takes the child away from you. You’ll be lucky if you don’t hang!”

A dark cloud swept over Lucretia. She opened her mouth to protest, but no words came, and she fainted dead away.

**Get the first book, The Smuggler’s Escape, FREE June 3rd-5th!!**

Barbara Monajem grew up in western Canada. She wrote her first story in third grade about apple tree gnomes. After dabbling in neighborhood musicals and teen melodrama, she published a middle-grade fantasy when her children were young. Now her kids are adults, and she writes historical and paranormal romance and mystery for grownups. She lives in Georgia, USA , with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and mostly feline strays.

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BOOK BLITZ: Sophie’s Choice (The Ladies of Harrington House) by A.M. Westerling #historicalromance #regencyromance @RABTBookTours @AMWesterling @BookBuzznet

The Ladies of Harrington House, Book One

Historical Romance, Regency Romance

Publisher: BWL Publishing

 

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Lady Sophie Harrington is not one to abide by society’s strictures.
If there’s one thing she knows, it’s that she will not be
paraded on the London marriage market in hopes of finding a suitable
husband. When a handsome bachelor moves into the neighbouring country
estate, she thinks her wedding prospects are solved – all she must do is
make the man fall in love with her and convince her parents he would be a
good match.

Successful barrister Lord Bryce Langdon escapes London to begin a new legal
practice in the rugged county of Cornwall. However, being the object of
desire for two beautiful sisters disrupts his life and distracts him from
his true purpose for being there – infiltrating a local
smuggler’s ring.

Can Sophie win Bryce’s love? What will she do when she discovers
Bryce is not the honourable man he appears to be? Sometimes temptation
cannot be resisted…

Other books in The Ladies of Harrington House series:

Leah’s Surrender

The Ladies of Harrington House, Book 2

Catherine’s Passion

The Ladies of Harrington House, Book 3

Amazon

 

Excerpt

Sophie slid off her mare, looped the reins over a convenient shrub and gave
the horse a quick pat on the nose. She turned and began the familiar trip
down the little path that meandered through the dunes to end up at the
gravel and shell beach just on the edge of her family’s estate. When
she neared the edge of the sea, she held out her arms and tilted her face to
the June sun before stripping off her bonnet. She tossed it in the air where
the breeze caught it and whirled it about, ribbons and all, before it landed
in a frivolous clump on the beach.

She sat down and removed her
riding boots and stockings and wriggled her toes with sheer delight. Then
she unpinned her hair and shook her head so the chestnut curls spilled over
her shoulders and down her back.

“Aaaaaah.” Pleasure
spiraled through her. “I have missed this so.” Feeling a little
foolish for talking to herself, she glanced around to be sure that she
hadn’t been heard. It would not do to have the locals gossip that Lord
Harrington’s eldest daughter was daft!

Sophie gathered up the skirts of her kerseymere riding habit and crunched
across the beach to the water’s edge, dabbling first one big toe then
the other in the chilly waves. The gravel pricked against the soles of her
feet, delightful in its intensity and for the first time in weeks she felt
alive, well and truly alive. Not that she hadn’t enjoyed her stay at
boarding school, particularly the time assisting in the school library, but
it had been restrictive, to say the least.

She mimicked the head mistress. “Sophie, you must pour this way,
Sophie, you must set a stitch that way, Sophie, mind that your voice is
never raised.” Mama would be scandalized if she saw Sophie now, poking
fun at Miss Smythe and standing bare foot in the sea.

“Your mama would be scandalized.” A masculine voice interrupted
her, echoing her thoughts perfectly.

She spun around, dropping her skirts into the water. Rueful, she glanced
down for it was sure to leave a stain. Then she raised her gaze to the
stranger before her. And raising her gaze it was for he stood at least a
head taller than her own five foot five inches. Her breath caught in her
throat.

He was handsome, to say the least – tall, dark and lean with a
rapacious air about him as if he would pounce on his prey at any moment.
Judging by his burnished cheeks, tousled black hair and the crop dangling
from one wrist, he had also been out riding.

Sophie realized she must look a fool standing there dumbfounded and ankle
deep in water. For once in her life she was completely nonplussed.

“You, you …”, she stammered, managing to wobble her way
back on to the beach without incurring further damage to her habit.

“Yes?” Amusement tinged the stranger’s voice.

Bravado was her best option so she squared her shoulders and jutted her
chin. “I meant to say you’re trespassing.”

“I think not.” He pointed to a marker just off to one side.
“I believe that is the edge of my property. Indeed, you are the one
who is trespassing, Miss…?”  The question dangled between
them. When she didn’t answer, he swept forward in an elegant bow.
“Allow me to present myself. I am Lord Bryce Langdon. And you?”
Again he waited for a response and again she declined to answer.

Oh dear, she knew very well who
Lord Langdon was. He’d just acquired the adjacent land. In fact, they
were all to meet him this evening for the first time.  However, if word
ever got out that she’d met him in this situation, her reputation
would be ruined. Anger at herself for the foolishness that had brought her
here unchaperoned made her tongue sharp.

“You, sir, are an ill-mannered boor.” She spat the words at
him. “Only an ill-mannered boor would compromise a young lady as you
have just done to me.”

“I must beg pardon then for I had not recognized you as such.”
He pointed to the ten toes peeping out from beneath the hem of her skirt.
“I dare say your behaviour is sadly lacking.”

“You, you scoundrel, how
dare you insult me so,” she fumed.  “You, you -.” Her
mind went blank, sucked bare by the devastatingly handsome man before
her.

“Wretch?”  he suggested, the corners of his mouth
beginning to lift.

Sophie stared at him for a few seconds, watching the devilish grin threaten
to take over his entire face. Her lips twitched and she scowled in a vain
attempt to maintain her decorum. It didn’t work.

Giggles burbled up and burst free and she began to laugh. He joined her,
the sounds of their laughter mingling with the cries of the sea gulls
circling above. Bryce Langdon must be an astute judge of character for he
was entirely correct in his assessment of her. She detested the rules and
strictures of the upper class and it was that rebellious quality that had
landed her an extended stay in boarding school in the first place. There was
no point in denying it.

“No, you’re absolutely right. I’m not behaving like a
lady. That is,” she hastened to correct herself, squeezing out the
words between giggles, “in the sense I do not enjoy sewing and such.
Much to the dismay of my mother and sisters, I prefer to be
outdoors.”

“And I am no drawing room fop so I see we shall get along
famously.  You have yet to introduce yourself?”

She curtsied. “Lady Sophie Harrington. We are to meet this evening
for dinner at Harrington House.” A wry expression twisted her
face.  “Please don’t mention to anyone that you saw me here
today.”

Bryce took her hand and raised it to his lips. “Rest assured, I shall
tell no one. Tonight when we meet, it will be as if for the first
time.” His dark eyes were admiring and warm with promise as he kissed
her hand again before dropping it. “I look forward to seeing you
again, Lady Sophie Harrington.” He said her name carefully, rolling
out the syllables as if he savored the cadence. He saluted her with his crop
then turned on his heel.

About the Author

A.M. Westerling, a best selling author for boutique Canadian publisher BWL
Publishing, has written ten books, including Barkerville Beginnings, Book 4
of the popular Canadian Historical Brides Collection issued in honour of
Canada’s 150th birthday. A former chemical engineer, Astrid traded in
her calculator, mechanical pencil and spreadsheets for a keyboard, history
books and membership in her local RWA chapter. From Vikings to Viscounts,
her adventure filled historical romances span the ages. Sophie’s
Choice , the first book in her Ladies of Harrington House Regency romance
series, was a finalist in Long and Short Reviews Book of the Month. She
enjoys walks through her neighborhood, spending time in her garden and
camping. This avid sports fan loves watching NFL (ballet on the grid iron!)
and NASCAR (hot cars, cute drivers!) and cheering on her hometown Calgary
Flames and Calgary Stampeders.

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BOOK TOUR: A Scot is Not Enough by Gina Conkle #HistoricalRomance #ScottishRomance

A Scot Is Not Enough

Scottish Treasures Book 2

by Gina Conkle

Genre: Historical Scottish Romance

Gina Conkle’s newest stunning romance in her Scottish Treasures series features a fierce Scotswoman eager to break the rules and the man who vows to stop her.

A Gentleman of Virtue

Decent and ambitious, Alexander Sloane is finally a finger’s breadth from achieving the government post he’s worked towards for years. A minor task monitoring Bow Street funds for the Crown is his final hurdle. But he discovers more than he bargains for when his assignment leads him to the most captivating woman in London.

A Woman of Questionable Repute

Cecelia MacDonald has one mission: find and steal the sgian duhb, the ceremonial dagger taken from her clan by British soldiers during the Uprising of 1745. The coy and clever Scotswoman has never had any trouble using men to do her bidding and she’s enjoying the cat and mouse game she’s playing with the delectable Alexander. But when a mutual enemy proves deadly, she must rely on him for more than flirtation to gain the dagger.

An Explosive Partnership

As Alexander and Cecilia become unlikely allies, their desire for each other overwhelms them. When shocking secrets come to light, will Alexander realize loving the wrong woman is the right thing to do?

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Gina’s fate was sealed when her mom read aloud the poem, The Highwayman—the perfect historical romance hook. But, Gina grew up in California where no dukes or Vikings live. She always did prefer stone castles over sand castles and books over beaches.

Years ago, she fell in love with her favorite hero, Brian, and they eloped to Vegas at midnight. Together, they raised two sons who like history almost as much as their mom.

Nowadays, Gina pens sparkling Georgian romance with a dash of Scots or Viking romance with heat and adventure. When she’s not writing, you can find her wandering a museum or with her nose in a book.

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BOOK TOUR: Sea of Shadows by Amy Maroney #HistoricalSuspense #HistoricalRomance #Renaissance @wilaroney @maryanneyarde

Book Title: Sea of Shadows

Series: Sea and Stone Chronicles, Book 2

Author: Amy Maroney

Publication Date: 12th April 2022

Publisher: Artelan Press

Page Length: 396 Pages

Genre: Historical suspense/romance

1459. A gifted woman artist. A ruthless Scottish privateer. And an audacious plan that throws them together—with dangerous consequences.

No one on the Greek island of Rhodes suspects Anica is responsible for her Venetian father’s exquisite portraits, least of all her wealthy fiancé. But her father’s vision is failing, and with every passing day it’s more difficult to conceal the truth.

When their secret is discovered by a powerful knight of the Order of St. John, Anica must act quickly to salvage her father’s honor and her own future. Desperate, she enlists the help of a fierce Scottish privateer named Drummond. Together, they craft a daring plan to restore her father’s sight.

There’s only one problem—she never imagined falling in love with her accomplice.

Before their plan can unfold, a shocking scandal involving the knights puts Anica’s entire family at risk. Her only hope is to turn to Drummond once again, defying her parents, her betrothed, even the Grand Master of the Knights himself. But can she survive the consequences?

With this captivating tale of passion, courage, and loyalty, Amy Maroney brings a lost, dazzling world to vivid life.

Sea of Shadows is Book 2 in a series of stand-alone historical novels packed with adventure and romance.

Get it here:

This novel is available on #KindleUnlimited

Universal Link: https://mybook.to/SeaOfShadows

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B09T3M2HM3

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09T3M2HM3

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B09T3M2HM3

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Sea-Shadows-Stone-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B09T3M2HM3/

Excerpt:

Summer, 1459

Rhodes Town

Aunt Rhea swiveled her gaze to Papa. “How much easier it will be for you, Paolo, once Anica’s settled into a new life with a husband, under another man’s roof. Then you can get Heleni married off, too, and your worries about these precious girls will be over.”

“Tell me something I don’t know,” Papa muttered.

Anica knew what he was thinking. Aunt Rhea had been blessed with sons. She would never have to amass dowries or protect the virtue of daughters.

“I know the funeral was costly,” Aunt Rhea added with a confidential air, drawing close to Papa. “You need gold, and quickly. I’ve a partnership with an Arab merchant from Alexandria whose family has been trading in spice for generations. For the last few years, I’ve helped him finance his shipping business, and he gives me a cut of his profits from pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.”

“What are you proposing?” Papa asked.

“You can join me in the endeavor,” Aunt Rhea said. “Give me whatever you’ve saved for a dowry. I’ll invest it in the spice business and triple your earnings in a few months.”

If your trader returns from Alexandria,” Papa said. “You just told me how dangerous these seas are.”

“There’s chance in everything,” she countered. “He’s returned faithfully since we began this venture. I’d rather put my money into spice than let it molder in the knights’ treasury or the Florentines’ bank, where it will benefit foreign men instead of me. We have to be inventive these days, spread out the risk.”

“Like your trade in illicit statues?” he asked, his voice sharp.

Mamá’s family possessed a collection of marble statues from ancient times, mostly depicting pagan gods and goddesses. Such things were officially the property of the Order, of course. They were meant to be turned over to the knights upon discovery. But the Georgillas clan—along with other Greek families—kept such treasures hidden all over the island, some in caves that were accessible only at low tide.

“Can I help it if the Italians are mad for such things?” Aunt Rhea asked. “When the price is right, I’d be a fool not to part with a statue or two. But I can’t always find a trustworthy ship captain for such delicate matters. So I’m having my Dimitri apprentice in the shipyard here with a master builder. Soon he’ll go to sea under the wing of a merchant friend of mine. One day he’ll captain his own ships. Then I’ll no longer have to put my trust in strangers.”

“You truly want Dimitri to take such risks?” Anica asked, shuddering at the thought of her cousin at the mercy of privateers and pirates.

Aunt Rhea shrugged. “He’s seen twenty winters and he’s a bright, strong lad. There will always be work for shipbuilders and sea captains from Rhodes, and I want to have a way out if there’s a siege. Besides, our sword master says he’s the most skilled fighter of all our boys. With God’s grace, he’ll always be able to defend himself on land or at sea.”

They had drawn close to the Cypriot merchant ship now. Sailors unloaded wooden casks of wine onto the quay. Aunt Rhea rapped on the side of an oak barrel.

“Where’s the captain?” she demanded of a passing sailor. “Tell him his most loyal and generous customer, Rhea Georgillas, awaits.”

The man nodded. “Right away, kyria.”

Anica contemplated the perspiring face of her aunt as she inspected the wine barrels arrayed in front of them. She understood now why Mamá had sent her back to the quays with Aunt Rhea and Papa. It was her mother’s way of including Anica in a discussion of her future, of matters that until now had been kept from her. Pride unfurled in her chest at the thought.

“Aunt Rhea,” she ventured. “Do you have a suitor in mind for me?”

“It is not a matter of finding a suitor, but of fending them off. You and your sister are rare flowers on this island.” Aunt Rhea gestured at the heavens and dropped her voice. “We won’t speak of beauty because the gods are listening.”

Anica’s Greek relatives had no problem combining their respect for the old gods with their adherence to the Orthodox Christian tradition, though they knew better than to exhibit this tendency in front of the knights. “But you’ve got Latin blood and Georgillas ancestry—it’s an irresistible combination for men seeking a good match. You’re a lucky girl.”

Anica turned to her father, thinking of all the responsibility she had taken on these past six months. With her changed role within the family, she felt certain Papa would give her some authority over her own future.

A lone gull circled overhead, screeching plaintively.

“Who are these men, Papa?” she asked. “Will I get to choose among them?”

His eyes were unreadable. “When the time is right, we shall select the suitor who is the best match for you and our family.”

She looked from her father to her aunt, wrestling with an urge to protest. The pride she’d felt a moment ago vanished, replaced by a rising sense of indignation. Since Beno’s death, it had seemed as if she were the head of the household—when in reality she was being discussed behind closed doors like a sack of grain or a basket of grapes to be sold off. “Surely, this doesn’t surprise you,” Aunt Rhea said. “I didn’t choose my husband, nor did your mother.” She leaned closer, raising her voice over the gull’s screams. “And neither

About the Author:

Amy Maroney studied English Literature at Boston University and worked for many years as a writer and editor of nonfiction. She lives in Oregon, U.S.A. with her family. When she’s not diving down research rabbit holes, she enjoys hiking, dancing, traveling, and reading. Amy is the author of The Miramonde Series, an award-winning historical fiction trilogy about a Renaissance-era female artist and the modern-day scholar on her trail. Her new historical suspense/romance series, Sea and Stone Chronicles, is set in medieval Rhodes and Cyprus.

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BOOK TOUR: Magic Touch by A.S. Fenichel #historicalromance #PNR #witches @asfenichel @RRBookTours1

MagicTouch copy (1)

Such a beautiful cover!

Welcome to the book tour for Magic Touch by A.S. Fenichel. Read on for more info and a chance to win a signed copy of the book!

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Magic Touch (Witches of Windsor #1)

Publication Date: April 19, 2022

Genre: Paranormal/ Historical Romance/ Witches

ESME

I never dreamed my small curatives shop in Windsor, England would attract the attention of war hero Sir William Meriwether. My feminine heart is aflutter when he enters. But I’m a witch and a healer, and he’s a man in pain, so I heal him. Desperate to do him a good service, I stretch my powers to the limit—or perhaps beyond. Somehow, in curing his ailing leg, I unleash powers inside William. At a loss to stop what’s begun, I’m forced to seek assistance from the coven I’ve sworn never to join. I dread the encounter, but for William’s sake, I put my family’s hatred aside. Getting to spend more time with William is an added enticement.

WILLIAM

I’m mesmerized by Esme O’Dwyer from the moment I lay eyes on her. Despite our different stations in society, I want something more personal than any restorative tea she might offer. As a gentleman, I contain those baser needs, and accept her assistance to ease the pain in my leg. When the alluring witch’s touch bestows me with magic of my own, I want no part of it. But the coven’s leaders insist magic never make mistakes, and for this to have happened, I must be needed. I’ve never been one to shy away from duty, and being secluded for training with Esme is magical in more ways than one.

ESME

Trouble is coming to Windsor. The signs are all there. The race is on to train William as a witch before his power is needed, but our growing attraction is as undeniable as the battle that lies ahead.

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About the Author

Fenichel_A.S._

A.S. Fenichel gave up a successful career in New York City to pursue her lifelong dream of being a professional writer. She’s never looked back.

A.S. adores writing stories filled with love, passion, desire, magic and maybe a little mayhem tossed in for good measure. Books have always been her perfect escape and she still relishes diving into one and staying up all night to finish a good story.

Multi-published in historical, paranormal, and contemporary romance, she also writes Contemporary Instalove as Andie Fenichel. A.S. is the author of the several series, including Forever Brides, Everton Domestic Society, Wallflowers of West Lane and more. Strong, empowered heroines from Regency London to modern-day New Jersey are what really excites her, and that’s what you’ll find in all her books.

A Jersey Girl at heart, she now makes her home in Southern Missouri with her real-life hero, her wonderful husband. When not reading or writing, she enjoys cooking, travel, history, puttering in her garden and spoiling her fussy cat.

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Release Blitz: Call It Love by Kristian Parker #Gay #eroticromance #historicalromance @pridepublishing @firstforromance

Call It Love by Kristian Parker

Word Count: 22,375
Book Length: NOVELLA
Pages: 98

Genres:

EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
HISTORICAL

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Book Description

 

Charlie didn’t believe in love…until he set himself free.

It’s 1922 and after his house guest Frank Harris ran away with the under-butler, Charlie Fitzwilliam has been summoned to face the music. With the vindictive butler Bennett now watching his every move and his father planning out his life for him, Charlie finally faces up to who he is and makes a bid for freedom.

Alone for the first time in his life, he meets Michael Leonard, a kind, caring bookseller. Convinced that sex with men is only for fun, Charlie experiences a summer of self-discovery that takes him to the English seaside, the doorstep of old friends and the arms of a lover who shakes his whole belief system.

But disowned by his parents and cut off from the life he knew, can Charlie make a future for himself…and will Michael be a part of it? Is this affair something that can be called love?

Reader advisory: This book contains instances of period-typical homophobia.

Excerpt

I threw the ball with the top spin that had sent our team to the top of the league last term. It flew past Mateus’ head and smashed into the wickets.

“Oh, well done, Charlie,” shouted my mother from the sidelines. Nothing would have persuaded her to roll up her sleeves and join in. I smiled across and waved.

“Time for a break,” said a breathless Tilly, my baby sister. She couldn’t have been any different from my mother if she’d tried and had instantly plumped for the back stop, tucking her skirts between her legs.

We wandered across to the table where mother held court to our host, Domingos Graça. He lapped up her brand of flirtation and would laugh uproariously every time she gave him a little bit of gossip from London.

I picked up a glass of whatever they had served and took in the view. Vineyards stretched as far as the eye could see, rolling down the hill to the river. We were in the Douro Province in the north-east of Portugal—Port was big business in these parts, and the Graça family were the kings of their castle.

Their villa loomed behind us, proclaiming to all the rewards of their labour.

“She put you to work immediately? Hard luck, old chap.” Agnes had sidled up next to me without any noise. She had always been able to do that, even when we were small.

“It’s good to see you, sis.”

“You too.” She planted a firm kiss on my cheek. “At least I’ll have some fun now. Mummy and Daddy’s crusade for cash is getting embarrassing.”

I turned to see my mother and Tilly regaling the Graças with yet another story.

“Tilly is doing the work for all of us.”

“She thinks she’s getting the youngest boy, the one you nearly decapitated with your demon bowl just now. She isn’t. He hasn’t given her a second glance. Poor soul.”

Tilly had always been the odd one out. Two years separated me and Agnes, but Tilly was a surprise after my parents had taken a boat to India. We’d been sent away to school by the time she came along.

“Where’s Father?” Agnes asked.

I couldn’t even bear to think about it. “He’s locked away in his room with Bennett. They’ve been in there ever since Bennett and I arrived this morning.”

It had been two weeks since I had thrown my schoolfriend Frank Harris out of our house in England after one of our maids had caught him in a compromising position with an under-butler. I’d spent that time skulking around the house, ignoring the whispers from most of the staff.

“And how did you find travelling with Bennett? Naughty Charlie can’t be trusted on his own,” Agnes said, a twinkle in her eye.

Bennett hated anyone in this world who wasn’t my father, and my uneasiness at him being a part of this trip had built as each day passed. He had been smugness personified, attending to my every need but always with an undertone of insolence.

“A bloody bore.”

We strolled along the edge of the lawn. Agnes took my arm, and I realised I’d missed my sister.

“Come on, then. What the hell were you doing?”

I absentmindedly kicked the head off a wildflower that had dared to invade this garden of order.

“I didn’t do anything. I stupidly invited Frank Harris to stay, and he ends up buggering the help.”

Agnes laughed. “And I suppose you were in bed reading your Bible.”

“If you must know, I was entertaining Elsie.”

Agnes stopped and scowled. “That common little tart from the shop? Oh, Charlie, you can do better than that, can’t you?”

“Of course I can, but you know, any port in a storm.”

We carried on walking. The breeze was a blessed relief as the sun grew high in the sky. I hoped there were more sedate activities planned for the afternoon.

“Port.” Agnes growled. “I’m sick to death of hearing about it, drinking it, examining it. You’d think it was sent by God himself.”

It wasn’t like Agnes to be so cranky. Mother and Father had impressed upon us the importance of this trip. If we didn’t get our hands on a sizeable share of the Graças’ business, we would struggle to keep our house in the Oxfordshire countryside. Since the war had decimated the workforce, farms were struggling to pay rents, meaning big country houses were closing at a rate of knots.

“Has it been so bad?”

She scowled. “Worse. Three weeks of rattling around here. Tilly sucking up like her life depends on it, Daddy laughing at jokes that simply aren’t funny and Mummy attempting to flirt is hideous.”

I glanced at mother and Domingos. He was telling her some tale, and she was all a-quiver.

“She’s doing fine.”

Agnes’ gaze darted to the terrace in front of the house. Mine followed and there stood my father. All six foot four inches of him with a face like thunder.

“Charles,” he boomed. Every eye turned to me.

“Uh-oh. You’re for it now,” Agnes said through gritted teeth.

“Here. Now,” Father commanded.

It felt like the longest walk of my life. I trudged across the cricket pitch and up the ridiculously long flight of steps to the terrace. Bennett stood at the top with that look he’d worn for the entire journey here. I wanted to wipe it from his face.

“He’s waiting for you in the drawing room.”

“He’s waiting for you in the drawing room…sir.”

I had no idea what rubbish he had fed to my father, but I would not be disrespected by him. I stood waiting for a response.

“Of course, sir.” The smugness never left him.

I found my father pacing in the lounge. In his early fifties, he had an imposing presence. Hardly any grey ran through his dark hair and moustache. I will admit that my stomach churned when I walked in.

“Father?”

He stopped pacing and glowered at me. “Homosexuality in my house? What are you trying to do, boy?”

“I had no idea what Harris was up to, and I threw him out when I discovered, along with that good-for-nothing Tanner.”

Frank would never understand the position he had put me in. I could have spit in his eye.

“Of course I don’t expect you to know what your friends are getting up to when your back is turned.”

My body relaxed a little.

“But as for you creeping up to the woods with Albert Brown…”

The room had started to spin. How did he know about Albert? “I don’t know what you’ve heard, but that’s a lie.”

Someone cleared their throat behind me, and I whirled around to see Bennett.

“I brought your post, sir,” he said walking past me and placing a bunch of envelopes on the desk.

“How dare you come in here when I’m having a private conversation with my father?” I cried.

“I asked him to come in. Now, Bennett, tell my son what you’ve just told me.”

With an audacity I would pay him back for one day, Bennett put on his best pitying expression for me. “My apologies, young sir, but I had to bring it to the master’s attention. I happened to overhear Mr Harris and his terrible accusations.”

Always sneaking around, listening at doorways. I was shaking with fear and rage.

“Naturally I had to investigate this for myself. Poor Albert had no choice but to indulge you in your…unusual requests. He said you threatened to have his livelihood taken from him if he didn’t.”

“That is a lie. I would never do that. Albert and I—” I stopped.

“Albert and you what?” asked my father “That will be all, Bennett.”

“Yes, sir.” He left the room.

“I asked you a question. Albert and you what?”

I took a deep breath. “Albert and I enjoyed some mutual time together.”

Out of nowhere, my father slapped my face, so hard it threw my head to the side.

“How could you do this to us? Get up to your room. I don’t want to see your disgusting little face until dinner time.”

I started to walk away, my face still smarting.

“By then I will have decided what to do with you. You will not bring shame on this family.”

I pulled open the door and walked straight into Bennett. I grabbed hold of his shirt and pushed him against the wall. He let out a little yelp.

“You may think you’ve won some game, but you will regret this one day. You will never be anything other than a pathetic little man who listens to other people’s lives.”

I let go of him and started to walk away.

“I am taking care of the family. I do care.”

I spun on my heel. “I do care…sir. Know your place.”

I didn’t wait for the reply.

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About the Author

Kristian Parker

I have written for as long as I could write. In fact, before, when I would dictate to my auntie. I love to read, and I love to create worlds and characters.

I live in the English countryside. When I’m not writing, I like to get out there and think through the next scenario I’m going to throw my characters into.

Inspiration can be found anywhere, on a train, in a restaurant or in an office. I am always in search of the next character to find love in one of my stories. In a world of apps and online dating, it is important to remember love can be found when you least expect it.

Follow Kristian on Facebook.

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Release Blitz: Mr. Donahue’s Total Surrender by Sophie Barnes #historicalromance #victorian @BarnesSophie @RABTBookTours #RABTBookTours

 

Enterprising Scoundrels, Book 1

Historical Romance, Victorian Romance

Date Published: January 25, 2022

A heart-warming rags to riches romance between a loveable rogue and a down-on-her-luck lady from a USA Today bestselling author.

Calista Faulkner had a plan: go to England, get married, and save her father from ruin. Instead, she’s now stuck in London, penniless and without the husband she’d pinned her hopes on. Desperate to return home, she seeks employment at a hotel – as a scullery maid – a far cry from the social status she has otherwise been accustomed to. But when a chance encounter with the hotel’s owner, Mr. Donahue, leads to a change in fortune and her acquaintance with him deepens, a new problem arises. For Calista knows she must return home and marry a man she hates in order to save her family’s reputation. But how can she leave behind the man she’s falling in love with? How can she marry anyone else?


About the Author

USA Today Bestselling Author, Sophie Barnes, has spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She’s lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish and Romanian with varying degrees of fluency.

She has studied design in Paris and New York and has a bachelor’s degree from Parson’s School of design, but most impressive of all – she’s been married to the same man three times, in three different countries and in three different dresses.

While living in Africa, Sophie turned to her lifelong passion – writing.

When she’s not busy, dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family. She currently lives on the East Coast.

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Release Blitz: The Nile Priestess by Catherin Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead #mystery #historicalromance #paranormal @totally_bound @firstfirromance

The Nile Priestess by Catherine Curzon & Eleanor Harkstead

Word Count: 61,298
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 237

Genres:

HISTORICAL
MYSTERY
PARANORMAL
ROMANCE
VAMPIRES

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Book Description

Amid the shifting sands of Egypt, is an ancient evil stronger than even the most timeless bonds?⁠

In the heat of 1920’s Cairo, Raf and Cecily are looking forward to making their honeymoon one to remember. Instead, they find themselves caught between a British nobleman on a mission to loot Egypt’s ancient tombs and a mysterious local woman who will do whatever it takes to protect the land she loves.⁠

When a foreboding pyramid rises from the sands and the scent of decay fills the air, Raf and Cecily find themselves caught in a terrifying race against time to vanquish a murderous mummy and put right the wrongs of the past. But is evil stronger than even the most timeless bonds?⁠

Excerpt

Cecily leaned over the ship’s railing, shielding her eyes from the hot Mediterranean sun with her hand. They’d travelled across Europe to get here, and now they were almost at their destination, a place Cecily had only ever dreamed of before.

“And tomorrow we’ll see Egypt, just there on the horizon!” she excitedly said to Raf, her husband.

If only I could wish and wish and it’d appear there right away.

“And tomorrow night, we’ll be snuggled in bed in the Rosetta of the Nile, counting the stars above Cairo.” Raf beamed. He put his arm around Cecily’s waist and said, “It’s the perfect honeymoon, Sissy.”

“It feels like a dream, Raf, like it’s not quite real!” Cecily pictured pyramids and deserts, a world away from their home in Yorkshire or the places in Europe they had journeyed through. “We’ll go everywhere by camel, of course, and eat nothing but dates.”

“Just like we do in Yorkshire,” he told her with a grin. Then he pecked a kiss to Cecily’s cheek and asked, “Happy, Mrs de Chastelaine?”

“Oh, so happy I might go pop!” Cecily said excitedly. Then with affection, she added, “But then, I have been ever since I first met you, Raf.”

Not so long ago Cecily would never have dreamed that she’d be married to a man—or dhampir, really—like Raf de Chastelaine, let alone be honeymooning in Egypt, but here she was. Her life had taken an unexpected turn and as she stood here beneath the sun, the botanical scent of Raf’s homemade sun lotion mingling with the heat and sea salt, she’d never been happier.

A breeze rippled the brim of her sunhat, and Cecily turned to see another passenger lean against the railings a few feet away. Miss Mansour was a very glamorous Egyptian lady, who they’d sat with at the captain’s table the night before, along with Miss Mansour’s party of archaeologists. Cecily had been over the moon to sit at such an important table on her first long sea journey, and with a party who were travelling to Egypt to uncover its wonders, too.

But Miss Mansour seemed preoccupied and hadn’t noticed them. Instead, she stared off towards the horizon.

Cecily’s sixth sense, her ability to pick up on others’ emotions, began to twitch.

She’s homesick, Cecily thought, although she realised that was obvious.

“Raf,” Cecily whispered, “let’s say good afternoon.”

Raf glanced towards the woman, then gave a nod. “Yeah, let’s say how do,” he decided.

Cecily moved along the salt-covered railing. “Good afternoon, Miss Mansour!” She smiled. “You must be very glad to be so close to home again.”

Miss Mansour removed her sunglasses and smiled back, but there was something sad in her expression. “Oh, of course, if one has a happy home, then one is glad to return. I am thinking of all the work I must do when we arrive. Lord Bath has such great plans for his dig. I think we might uncover many wonderful things.”

“It must be terribly exciting!” Cecily said. “All those treasures that haven’t seen the light of day for years and years and years, and you brush away the sand, and there in your hand there’s a little golden Anubis!”

“Lord Carnarvon hasn’t put him off?” Raf asked. “If you believe the papers, pyramid-diving is a bad business. I don’t know… I feel like perhaps English lords should leave Egyptian treasures in Egypt.”

A flicker of amusement crossed Miss Mansour’s face. She maybe didn’t hear that sentiment often enough. But Raf’s Romanian accent no doubt told her that he had no patience with the meddling of the English. “It is strange to me to think of my ancestors lying in museums across the world. I cannot think it was what they expected when they died—that one day their remains would travel the world, to be stared at.”

“I heard that Lord Bath reckons he’s found a tomb that nobody believed existed at all,” Raf replied. “But legends sometimes turn out to be true, don’t they?”

And Raf would know all about that, wouldn’t he? Not many advertisements for family businesses that spanned the generations read, ‘Ghosts need laying? Rates negotiable on application.’ Raf didn’t work alone anymore though—Cecily was part of the family business, too.

But what fates had Raf’s ancestors faced? His father might be human, but his late mother certainly hadn’t been. After all, it wasn’t many newlyweds who spent Christmas at a castle perched atop a precipice on the edge of the Carpathian Mountains. Cecily would never have guessed that vampires could be such generous and attentive hosts.

“The tomb of Menkare II,” Miss Mansour replied, with a note of distaste. “He is sure that he has discovered it, even though the sands covered it from human sight longer ago than you can imagine. A pharaoh who has almost been entirely forgotten, but the legend of his missing tomb has persisted down the centuries. And now Lord Bath thinks he’s found it.”

Cecily shivered with delight at the thought. “Do you think we might come along to the dig and have a look? We won’t touch anything. We’ll be on our best behaviour. Won’t we, Raf?”

“I don’t want to touch anything that’s been inside a forgotten tomb.” Raf chuckled. “I’ve got an allergy to curses. I’d love to have a nose at the site, though…history’s a bit of a hobby of mine. Along with gardening. And tinkering. I love tinkering.”

Miss Mansour chuckled. Then she looked Raf and Cecily slowly up and down, as if she was assessing them. Cecily did her best to smile under her scrutiny. It felt as if Miss Mansour wasn’t just looking at them, but into them. Although Cecily told herself she couldn’t be. Then Miss Mansour nodded.

“Yes, why don’t you come along? I believe I can trust you.” Miss Mansour pointed to the jumble of necklaces and amulets around Raf’s neck. “You’re wearing a scarab, I see. And the Eye of Horus.”

Raf nodded. “It’s not my first time in Egypt,” he admitted, almost bashfully. “And I like to pack on the protection. Whether it’s from the sun, or…whatever else is floating about.”

“You are very sensible to do so,” Miss Mansour said. “Lord Bath scoffs at such ideas, of course. And I am told sometimes that I am too superstitious, but you never can be too careful. Especially not when you’re robbing graves, even ancient ones.” She paused for a moment, before adding, almost to herself, “Especially ancient ones.”

“We’re very careful about such things,” Cecily said, knowing she couldn’t go into detail with someone they’d not long met. “We always treat the dead with respect.”

“They’re people too,” Raf pointed out, straight-faced. “Just like us.”

“Oh, they are…” Miss Mansour glanced away for a moment, towards the southern horizon. Cecily sensed her homesickness again, a feeling of loss and loneliness. Then Miss Mansour turned back to face them. “You see, I knew I could trust you. There are not many people on this earth who share that sentiment, Mr de Chastelaine.”

Raf smiled gently and admitted, “It’s just something life’s taught us.” And he glanced towards Cecily, his eyes filled with love.

“Miss Mansour!” It was Lord Bath’s braying voice, and it was coming closer from inside the ship. “I say, Miss Mansour, where are you hiding?”

Miss Mansour sighed. “I apologise. I must speak to Lord Bath.” She raised her voice and replied, “I am out here on the deck, Lord Bath, taking the sea air.”

“Dreaming of the old homeland, eh!” Lord Bath stepped out onto the deck. He put his hands on his hips and drew in a deep breath of sea air. “Good Lord, it’s hotter than ever today!”

He was dressed in a linen suit, as most of the European men on the ship were. But Lord Bath’s looked particularly expensive, cut to fit just right. His square jaw jutted out as he took the air, as though he was the master of all he surveyed. And the truth was, men like him were.

Not women like Cecily or Miss Mansour, not men like Raf. But wealthy English aristocrats in Jermyn Street linen suits ruled the world.

“This is not hot!” Miss Mansour chuckled. “You have the sea breeze here. But out in the desert, it doesn’t matter how hot it gets, you hope the wind won’t start up or a sandstorm might follow. But I will be glad to see my home again, yes. Are you not pleased to see yours when you return to England?”

“One has several, and one is always happy to see them. But the tomb of Menkare II is my life’s work. I’ll happily take a long-lost legendary treasure horde over even the nicest family pile in Bath.” Bath guffawed. He lifted his Panama hat to Raf and Cecily. “Good afternoon, Mr and Mrs de Chastelaine. Egypt awaits, what!”

“Oh, it does!” Cecily replied. “You must be so excited about the dig. I know I am, and I’m not even digging anything. But then I’ve never been to Egypt before, and you’re all experts on it. Miss Mansour especially.”

Miss Mansour smiled wistfully. “Egypt and her myths and legends have been my life’s work.”

But it wouldn’t be Miss Mansour’s name connected with the find. Rather, the name of a man born in a country far away, in a land without a single desert to its name.

“I must confess this was a last throw of the dice,” Bath admitted. “Seven failed digs over the years. But our Miss Mansour isn’t only a dashed pretty face. She’s got a very clever little brain in that head of hers!”

Little brain? Cecily had once been married to a man who spoke like that about women. She bristled on Miss Mansour’s behalf.

“How kind of you to say so,” Miss Mansour replied, acknowledging his backhanded compliment with a nod. “I have worked very hard—studied very hard—to acquire the knowledge I now have of my country’s ancient past.”

“And we’re all terribly grateful,” Bath assured her. “Miss Mansour was able to interpret the last clues to the location of the tomb. When the treasures of Menkare II are exhibited in London, I’m sure this young lady’s beauty will dazzle almost as much as the pharaoh’s gold.”

Young lady’s beauty?

Cecily bristled anew. She could sense that Miss Mansour didn’t appreciate the way Lord Bath spoke about her either, but she didn’t say anything.

“And everyone will want to talk to her to find out how she worked out the last clues,” Cecily said.

Miss Mansour gave Cecily a smile, as if telling her that she appreciated her support. “I would be more than happy to.”

Lord Bath met that with a bark of uproarious laughter. He clapped his hands together and exclaimed, “Quite so, Mrs de Chastelaine, quite so!” He wiped his eyes on a pristine white handkerchief. “And when one dines at the Ritz, one lauds the waitress for the chef’s splendid work, eh?”

“But without Miss Mansour, you wouldn’t have found the tomb,” Raf pointed out, frowning. “Isn’t that right?”

“And without my money to hire her, Miss Mansour wouldn’t have been part of the party at all.” Lord Bath’s smile had become rather tight. Cecily could tell that he didn’t take kindly to such ideas. “And she certainly wouldn’t have had access to the tablets and very rare papyri that held the secrets of Menkare II’s tomb. Believe me when I say that such treasures are highly prized and priced accordingly. Far beyond the reach of the Miss Mansours of the world.”

Miss Mansour raised an eyebrow before putting her sunglasses back on. A chill breeze rose from the sea. “That is because the tablets and papyri I needed to study are held in a private collection in England.”

“Guilty as charged.” Bath chuckled. “And I may yet have one surprise left up my sleeve, madam. A little showmanship, if you will.”

“Is that so?” Miss Mansour sounded like someone who was not easily surprised. She tapped her fingers against the ship’s railing, her rings clanging on the metal. “I shall look forward to it.”

“Well, you’ll excuse me. I must dress for dinner.” Bath gave a polite nod of farewell. “Miss Mansour, might I escort you to your state—cabin?”

No stateroom for the hired help then, no matter how valuable their knowledge.

“No, thank you, Lord Bath. I believe I can just about remember the way there. Good evening.” And with that, Miss Mansour inclined her head, then turned and glided away along the deck.

Cecily glanced at Lord Bath, wondering if he had taken offence. But how else could Miss Mansour have reacted without any further dents to her dignity?

“She’s homesick,” Cecily told Lord Bath by way of explanation.

“Ah, England’s green and pleasant land. We all miss her, of course,” Bath replied, apparently untroubled by her departure. And somehow unaware that perhaps Miss Mansour, his Egyptian associate, might not consider England home, no matter how green or pleasant.

“Egypt,” Raf said bluntly.

“Yes, she misses Egypt,” Cecily prompted Lord Bath. “I think maybe she’s glad not to be in England.”

“Well, I certainly won’t be asking her to come back to England if she prefers to remain in Egypt,” the Earl of Bath replied with a magnanimous smile. “I shan’t be requiring her expertise once the tomb is open. Miss Mansour can go wherever she might wish.”

Raf frowned and asked, “You won’t give her the credit for her work, then?” He added innocently, “I thought you said you couldn’t have done it without her.”

“She’s terribly clever,” Cecily added. “Just think of the number of languages she understands, modern and ancient ones. And she knows a terribly vast amount of things about the ancient world as well!”

“And dashed pretty too,” the Earl of Bath replied. “Well, I shall take my leave. Good afternoon to you both!”

“We must go and dress for dinner. Good afternoon,” Cecily responded, the words sticking in her throat. The earl gave another nod and retreated back towards the ship.

“Cheerio,” Raf called, but Cecily knew that his bonhomie was an effort. He didn’t like Lord Bath any more than she did. If the nobleman realised, of course, he didn’t care. Instead he disappeared into the ship, whistling a cheery tune as he went.

Cecily waited until he had gone, then she whispered to Raf, “What a dreadful man, robbing Miss Mansour of her discovery. I really don’t like him at all, Raf. But then, maybe I’ve known one too many men like him in my life.”

Raf nodded. He put his arm around Cecily’s shoulders and whispered, “Not my sort of bloke either. Do you want to head in and get ready to eat?” Raf kissed her cheek. “Do I have to wear shoes to dinner?”

“Oh, yes, let’s go back to the cabin.” Cecily chuckled. “Shoes? Well, if you don’t wear shoes, we might not be invited to the captain’s table tonight. But if the delightful Lord Bath’s sitting there again, maybe that’s a good thing.”

“I’ll put shoes on,” Raf assured her. Then he added with a wink, “But I’ll slip them off when I’m sitting down,”

Raf really didn’t like shoes. He was happiest barefoot, wandering through the garden at home. Cecily smiled at him. “I’d expect nothing less, darling! Right, let’s get ready for dinner.”

Arm in arm, they strolled along the deck towards their cabin.

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About the Authors

Eleanor Harkstead

Eleanor Harkstead likes to dash about in nineteenth-century costume, in bonnet or cravat as the mood takes her. She can occasionally be found wandering old graveyards. Eleanor is very fond of chocolate, wine, tweed waistcoats and nice pens. Her large collection of vintage hats would rival Hedda Hopper’s.

Originally from the south-east of England, Eleanor now lives somewhere in the Midlands with a large ginger cat who resembles a Viking.

You can follow Eleanor on Facebook and Twitter

Catherine Curzon

Catherine Curzon is a royal historian who writes on all matters of 18th century. Her work has been featured on many platforms and Catherine has also spoken at various venues including the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, and Dr Johnson’s House.

Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine, writes fiction set deep in the underbelly of Georgian London.

She lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously steep hill.

You can follow Catherine on Facebook and Twitter and take a look at her Website.

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SPOTLIGHT: They Called Him Marvin by Roger Stark #historicalfiction #historicalromance @author_RStark @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours 

Welcome to the tour for Roger Stark’s historical fiction, They Called Him Marvin. Read on for more details and a chance to win a signed edition of the book!

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They Called Him Marvin: A History of Love, War and Family

Publication Date: June 14th, 2021

Genre: Historical Fiction/ Historical Romance/ Based on True Events

Young lovers trying be be a family, but duty called, interrupting them.
He answered. She, with child was left behind.
The war did end, but he never returned.

“They Called Him Marvin” is a history. A history of war and of family. A history of the collision of the raging politics of a global war, young love, patriotism, sacred family commitments, duty and the horrors and tragedies, the catastrophe that war is.

A reviewer explains: “I am a fan of historical fiction and this story did not disappoint. It was sweet, tragic, personal, and moving. Gradually and almost imperceptibly, the story of two wartime sweethearts begins circling the drain of a tragedy you know is coming. The book begins with the ending, but by the time you get there you have convinced yourself that it can’t possibly be the case. I enjoyed every moment, even the ones that left me in tears.

The letters between Connie and Dean provided a fascinating glimpse into wartime life. Reading the experiences of people both at home and abroad was very engaging. I found myself eagerly awaiting the next letter, right along with the young couple!

Lastly, the book left me with an overwhelming acknowledgement of the universal trauma and tragedy of war. The Shermans are not the only family we meet in the book and the weaving together of several different narratives added a depth to the story that’s hard to put into words.

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Excerpt

18 January 1941, The Story Begins

Stanley Carter started all this.

… I want to help you with your problem of not knowing any one in Salt Lake. Tomorrow I am going to my girlfriends house, come with me, she would love to meet you and then you will know two people here.” Dean answered, “I could be talked into that.”

“We are going to meet up at church and then go to her house.”

By the end of church the following day, Dean would actually know three people from Salt Lake City. This because Stan’s girlfriend, Carol Woffinden, happened to be the best friend of Constance Avilla Baldwin, who also just happened to attend the same Waterloo Ward of the Mormon Church, who also didn’t have a boy friend, and who was also more than happy to make a visitor feel welcome.

Dean innocently walked into all of this.

Mormons have a special interest in non Mormons, or Gentiles as they call them. You see, a Mormon is never far from, or without, his missionary zeal. If you’re not a Mormon and your going to hang out with a Mormon for very long, you’re going to get zealed. For Dean Harold Sherman, it was to be a life altering dose of zealing.

Dean and Connie exchanged 67 letters (50 written by Dean) the night (unbeknownst to him) that his son Marvin was born Dean wrote:

18 February 1945

Good Evening Peaches:

Hello sweet girl, I sure have been thinking of you lots these days and wishing so much that I could be around to take care of you, and be holding your nice soft hands and giving you lots of moral support, and see your pretty face and look in your eyes and without saying a word, tell you millions of wonderful things that you mean to me. You do too, Honey, mean so many wonderful things to me. All the wonderful things a beautiful girl can be and my best companion ever along with being the sweetest wife any guy ever could love. Those are just a few of the things, Darling, which make me love you more every day…

Goodnight Peach Blossom,

Dean

On the day Dean was shot down Connie Wrote:

14 May 1945

My most wonderful man,

I’m in a rather odd mood tonight Honey, and it is most all about you and Marvin and me. I have been trying to decide whether or not I would write to you tonight most all evening. I wanted to, but I didn’t know if I could express my feelings as I would want to, and, as I feel them. As you can see Honey, I have made up my mind to try. How well I succeed remains to be seen…

Then I was thinking of Marvin and wondering just what his talents are going to be. To have a Daddy such as you, Honey, he will be kind and good, even as you are, a wonderful man. Honey, I’m really just beginning to realize what a great responsibility we have in teaching and caring for Marvin. We just have to do it to the very best of our ability. I know you have lots of ability, Honey, and I hope I have…

I have a hard time, the past seems like such a thrilling dream of love and happiness. I wonder if it all really happened, but then I know it did. And Oh! Honey how I do love you now and forever and ever ever after with all my heart and soul. Honey I just can’t express how deep my love for you is. Its an impossibility. I love you always.

Good night my husband,

Peaches

Xxxxxxxxxx

10 December 1944, The Same Damn Movie

… In Puerto Rico the crew was quite happy to watch the new release The Lady Takes a Chance starring John Wayne and Jean Arthur. Coincidently when they reached British Guiana the same movie was featured. Not to be deterred the crew again enjoyed the film. When they got to Brazil and it was again the featured picture show, some murmuring occurred. The Corporalies, were feeling cheated.

When they found the movie would be playing at their fourth stop also they complained to Dean.

“Sir, ain’t the Army got any other movies?”

“We know the lines better than the actors.”

“We know John Wayne is going to eat the lamb chops because Jean Arthur cooked them for him even tho he is a beef man.”

“Maybe there will be something new at our next stop,” was the consolation Dean offered. After crossing the Atlantic The Corporalies showed signs of giving up on the movies.

But in KhartoumThe Corporalies forced into the NCO Club by the searing heat and therefore ‘forced‘ to drink cold beer all day had a terrible yearning, near evening, for a movie.

“Howell, go see what’s playing at the movies tonight.” ordered his fellow Corporalies.

By virtue of being the youngest Howell was often the brunt of such requests especially after three or four beers. He had given up protesting that he was the same rank as them. In fact as the Central Gunner, he was in charge of the other gunners in combat, but as the youngest of four boys at home he felt a strange comfort in re-playing the role with his combat brothers.

“And damn it, don’t come back if it is The Lady Takes a Chance.”

Of course he discovered that The Lady was indeed tonight’s special feature. On the way back to the NCO Club with the sad news that John Wayne was again eating those lamb chops even here on the edge of the Nile Rivers, he met his Airplane Commander.

“Sir, they are playing that same damn movie here, oh sorry sir, that same John Wayne movie is playing here. We are sick of it, Sir, ain’t the Army got any other movies?”

“Evan, the reason that movie shows up everywhere we go, is that we have been tasked with delivering it to our final destination while allowing each layover airfield to use it.”

Howell stared at his Airplane Commander as his cognitive impaired brain tried to process. The light finally came on for him, a bit dim, but it came on. “Oh, Sir, I see Sir, I’ll tell the boys.”

And off he wandered, not in the direction of the boys, but in the direction of his bunk, taking his comrades threat to not return with bad news seriously.

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About the Author

roger

I am, by my own admission, a reluctant writer. But there are stories that demand to to be told. When we hear them, we must pick up our pen, lest we forget, and the stories be lost.

Six years ago, in a quiet conversation with my friend Marvin, I learned the tragic story his father, a WW2 B-29 Airplane Commander, shot down over Nagoya, Japan just months before the end of the war.

Bill Clinton has famously said: “They were the fathers we never knew, the uncles we never met, the friends who never returned, the heroes we can never repay. They gave us our world. And those simple sounds of freedom we hear today are their voices speaking to us across the years.”

Such a man was Marv’s father. A father he never knew. The telling of the story that evening by this half orphan was so moving and full of emotion, it compelled me to ask if I could write the story. The result being “They Called Him Marvin.”

My life has been profoundly touched in so many ways by being part of documenting this sacred story. I pray that we never forget, as a people, the depth of sacrifice that was made by ordinary people like Marvin and his father and mother on our behalf.

My career as an addiction counsellor (CDP) led me to write “The Waterfall Concept; A Blueprint for Addiction Recovery,” and co-author “Reclaiming Your Addicted Brain.”

After my counselling retirement, I decided I wanted to learn more about the craft of writing and started attending classes at Portland Oregon’s Attic Institute. What I learned is that there are an amazing number of great writers in my area, and they were willing to help others improve their skills. I am grateful to many of them.

My next project is already underway, a memoir of growing in SW Washington called “Life on a Sorta Farm.” My wife of 49 years, Susan and I still live in that area.

We raised seven children and have eleven grandchildren. We love to travel and see the sites and cultures of the world. I still get on my bicycle whenever I can.

They Called Him Marvin

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