Thursday, August 31, 2023

Book Spotlight: A Meadow Murder - A Jan Christopher Mystery, Episode #4 by Helen Hollick


Follow the tour HERE

"As delicious as a Devon Cream Tea!" ~ author Elizabeth St John

"Every sentence pulls you back into the early 1970s... The Darling Buds of May, only not Kent, but Devon. The countryside itself is a character and Hollick imbues it with plenty of emotion" ~ author Alison Morton


Make hay while the sun shines? But what happens when a murder is discovered, and country life is disrupted?

Summer 1972. Young library assistant Jan Christopher and her fiancé, DS Lawrence Walker, are on holiday in North Devon. There are country walks and a day at the races to enjoy, along with Sunday lunch at the village pub, and the hay to help bring in for the neighbouring farmer.

But when a body is found the holiday plans are to change into an investigation of murder, hampered by a resting actor, a woman convinced she’s met a leprechaun and a scarecrow on walkabout...

Buy Links:

 This series is available to read on #KindleUnlimited

 Universal Link

 Helen Hollick

First accepted for traditional publication in 1993, Helen became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, THE FOREVER QUEEN (titled A HOLLOW CROWN in the UK) with the sequel, HAROLD THE KING (US: I AM THE CHOSEN KING) being novels that explore the events that led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

Her PENDRAGON’S BANNER TRILOGY is a fifth-century version of the Arthurian legend, and she writes a nautical adventure/fantasy series, THE SEA WITCH VOYAGES.

She has also branched out into the quick read novella, 'Cosy Mystery' genre with her JAN CHRISTOPHER MURDER MYSTERIES, set in the 1970s, with the first in the series, A MIRROR MURDER incorporating her, often hilarious, memories of working as a library assistant. The front cover of episode #4 A MEADOW MURDER is Helen’s actual hay meadow on her Devon farm.

Her non-fiction books are Pirates: Truth and Tales and Life of A Smuggler. She lives with her family in an eighteenth-century farmhouse in North Devon and occasionally gets time to write...

 Social Media Links:





Amazon Author Page:



(promoting good authors & suggestions for books to read)

Subscribe to Helen’s Newsletter:


Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Book Spotlight and Excerpt: The Husband Criteria by Catherine Kullmann


Follow the tour HERE

London 1817

The primary aim of every young lady embarking on the Spring frenzy that is the Season must be to make a good match. Or must it? And what is a good match? For cousins Cynthia, Chloe and Ann, well aware that the society preux chevalier may prove to be a domestic tyrant, these are vital questions. How can they discover their suitors’ true character when all their encounters must be confined to the highly ritualised round of balls, parties and drives in the park?

As they define and refine their Husband Criteria, Cynthia finds herself unwillingly attracted to aloof Rafe Marfield, heir to an earldom, while Chloe is pleased to find that Thomas Musgrave, the vicar’s son from home, is also in London. And Ann must decide what is more important to her, music or marriage.

And what of the gentlemen who consider the marriage mart to be their hunting grounds? How will they react if they realise how rigorously they are being assessed?

A light-hearted, entertaining look behind the scenes of a Season that takes a different course with unexpected consequences for all concerned.

 Buy Links:

  Universal Link

.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨) ( ¸.•´


Chapter Four

Chloe and Ann were at the centre of an animated group. However, as they neared it, Cynthia noticed that once they had been introduced, people tended to step back and talk to their neighbours, leaving the two girls alone.

Once greetings had been exchanged, she gently urged Martin to change position so that they formed a group of four. “It’s as if they are planets orbiting the sun,” she murmured. “They cannot remain but are impelled onwards.”

Chloe groaned. “That reminds me of the problems from Butler’s Exercises on the Globe. To find the place of a given planet in the Ecliptic for any given time. It didn’t matter how often I tried; I could never do them. In the end, Mamma agreed I need not attempt them. I love to look up at the night sky, and make out the constellations, but I just could not transfer them to the Globe.”

“It is as well you were called Chloe, then, and not Urania,” Martin remarked.

She looked at him, horrified. “That is not a real name.”

“It is,” Cynthia said. “She is the Muse of Astronomy.”

“In ancient times. Do you know anybody who is called it today?” Chloe demanded. “You might as well be called Hercules or, or…”

“Aesop,” Ann supplied.

Martin threw his hand up at the girls’ laughter. “I give in. Chloe is a much prettier name; it suits you better.”

“A compliment! I thank you, sir.”

“Make the most of it,” Cynthia advised her. “Martin is not given to making compliments.”

“I do, but only when they are deserved.”

At this lofty pronouncement, the three girls glared indignantly at him.

“For that, you must pay a compliment to each of us before the night is out,” Cynthia said.

“Only if you return the favour,” he retorted.

The three looked at each other. “Done!” Chloe said.

When the others nodded, she smiled brightly at Martin.

“Indeed, Mr Glazebrook, you have a very pretty wit.”

Martin accepted this with a smug nod, but looked uncomfortable when Ann followed with, “I vow, Mr Glazebrook, your sparkling wit matches your eyes.”

Cynthia smirked as she drawled, “With such a charming newcomer, the Season looks brighter already.”

“Sis!” Martin said, outraged, at which the three girls collapsed into laughter.

“Rather trite, Miss Glazebrook,” a deep voice said behind them and Cynthia turned to look up into Lord Marfield’s impassive face.

Engulfed by a wave of mortification, she sharply bit the inside of her lip, hoping to stave off the blush she felt creeping into her cheeks. Forcing herself not to lower her gaze, she said, “Indeed, my lord. I fear my muse has deserted me and I must resort to lesser inspiration.”

“That is sad indeed.” A little smile glimmered in his eyes; the cast of his features became less severe and he turned to the couple who had come up with him. “Lady Elizabeth, Hope, may I present Miss Glazebrook, Miss Loring, and Miss Overton? And Mr Glazebrook. Ladies, Mr Glazebrook, Lady Elizabeth Hope, and Lord Hope.”

“Oh, we know Mr and Miss Glazebrook,” Lady Elizabeth said, smiling, “and are happy to meet Miss Loring and Miss Overton.”

Her brother bowed. “Now, do tell us what diverted you so?”

“Just a silly joke, not worth repeating,” Martin said hastily. “Have you seen Kean’s Macbeth?”

Not long afterwards, they were joined by Mr Malvin, and Cynthia was satisfied that Chloe and Ann no longer appeared to be unknown newcomers but were among a group that included four eligible bachelors, two of whom were peers’ heirs. First impressions were so important; it had taken her some time to find her feet last year, and she would spare her friends the experience if she could.

As soon the sound of sedate trios and quartets gave way to the sinuous invitation of the waltz, the first pairs were formed, the gentlemen turning to the ladies nearest to them. Martin danced with Lady Elizabeth, Chloe with Lord Hope, Ann with Mr Malvin, and Cynthia, to her hidden dismay, with Lord Marfield.

To give the devil his due, he had neither hesitated nor let his eyes stray to other young ladies in the group, but had bowed as soon as Hope had offered his arm to Chloe, and said, “Miss Glazebrook, may I have the pleasure?”

Were it not for the lowering thought that this distinction was due to nothing more than proximity and politeness, she would have savoured it more. They were well matched, she discovered. His clasp was neither too firm nor too loose, but secure enough that she could follow his lead and he never lost sight of the other dancers, skillfully avoiding collisions while making full use of the floor space available. With an inward sigh, she gave herself up to the joy of the dance. Although they did not speak, there was an intangible connection between them, deeper than physical touch, arising from the subtle matching and mirroring of steps, the fleeting locking of eyes during a turn or the brief smiles that marked the end of a complicated figure.

When the music stopped, they smiled in mutual appreciation of a pleasure shared. “Thank you,” he said as she rose from her curtsey. She wondered what he would do next. Etiquette required him to escort her back to her mother or other chaperon, but she had not been standing with them. He offered her his arm, and they fell in behind other couples who were ‘taking a turn of the room’.

“You dance very well, Miss Glazebrook. One has the impression that it is a joy rather than a duty for you.”

“Indeed it is, especially when my partner is equally proficient.”

He laughed. “Yes, there is nothing worse than a partner who seems always to count their steps or continually supervise their feet, as if they might suddenly declare their independence and embark on a very different figure than the one intended.”

“Or who blithely gets the steps of a country dance confused so that one has to tug them into place. Worst of all is the partner who thinks they can dance the quadrille.”

“Perhaps we should insist everyone passes a proficiency test,” he suggested.

“Almack’s could issue badges, and insist that sets are made up of dancers of similar standard, with a separate room reserved for the lowest level. A patroness would have to approve any promotion out of it.”

“We, of course, would be in the highest category.”

He uttered this absurdity with a completely straight face and she was delighted by the way he had entered into her flight of fancy. “Like a premier danseur at the Opéra in Paris?” she suggested.

“Do they have sashes as well?”

“Perhaps, when not in stage costume. I don’t know.”

They had reached the Swann-Lorings. Chloe had already returned and was chatting to the little group that had again clustered around her. Cynthia slipped her hand from Marfield’s arm, saying, “Thank you, sir.”

“Thank you, Miss Glazebrook.” He bowed and strolled away.


Catherine Kullmann

 Catherine Kullmann was born and educated in Dublin. Following a three-year courtship conducted mostly by letter, she moved to Germany where she lived for twenty-five years before returning to Ireland. She has worked in the Irish and New Zealand public services and in the private sector. Widowed, she has three adult sons and two grandchildren.

Catherine has always been interested in the extended Regency period, a time when the foundations of our modern world were laid. She loves writing and is particularly interested in what happens after the first happy end—how life goes on for the protagonists and sometimes catches up with them. Her books are set against a background of the offstage, Napoleonic wars and consider, in particular, the situation of women trapped in a patriarchal society.

She is the author of The Murmur of Masks, Perception & Illusion, A Suggestion of Scandal, The Duke’s Regret, The Potential for Love, A Comfortable Alliance and Lady Loring’s Dilemma.

Catherine also blogs about historical facts and trivia related to this era. You can find out more about her books and read her blog (My Scrap Album) on her website. You can contact her via her Facebook page or on Twitter.

Social Media Links




Book Bub:

Amazon Author Page:



Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Book Spotlight and Excerpt: The Shadow Earl by Stella Riley - Audiobook narrated by Alex Wyndham


Follow the tour HERE

At the end of his Grand Tour, somewhere between Athens and Constantinople, Christian Selwyn, the young Earl of Hazelmere, vanished - seemingly without a trace.

Time passes.  In London, his uncle and cousin move into his home … while his unofficial fiancée, Sophia, is left desolate and in limbo.  Finally, his friends – loyal and close as brothers – set out to search in person. 

Christian’s startling re-appearance at a grand ball takes society by storm and fuels endless speculation. Where has he been during these three missing years? What happened to him? 

And more importantly, how did it happen? 

Only one thing is clear.  The earl who left England five years ago, has returned a changed man.  A man with secrets.

 Buy Links:

 Universal Link

 .•*´¨) ¸.•*¨) ( ¸.•´


London; Kit’s mental turmoil in the wake of his reappearance

That hour – the first Christian had spent in his own home for five years – had exhausted him.  The effort required to say no more than was necessary and to control the wolf that howled inside him had left him physically and mentally drained. 

Or perhaps, he thought, it wasn’t just that. Perhaps it was a combination of tonight and everything that had gone before it.  The gradual growth of despair during those three years; the almost unbearable resurgence of hope when one of the gardeners whispered that two Englishmen, accompanied by a Consulate official were asking about him in the city; and then the terror that nothing would come of it – that whoever was out there would go away without finding him and that he’d be trapped here forever.

Then had come the days he’d been confined to his rooms and no one would tell him what was happening.  His nerves at full stretch, he’d swung between a very frail thread of hope he was afraid to trust and absolute dread.  If these Englishmen had traced him to the palace but were thereafter convinced that they were mistaken and persuaded to leave, Christian suspected that his immediate future wasn’t going to be pleasant.

But they hadn’t given up.  They and the Consulate official had persisted with their questions, between dire threats of what the English government would do should it learn that an English aristocrat was being held against his will by a Turkish citizen.  And so, eventually, Christian had been summoned to the Divan with no idea what awaited him there. 

When he’d seen Daniel and Anthony, relief had sent him to his knees … and when they’d drawn him to his feet and into their arms, he’d cried.

 Stella Riley

Winner of four gold medals for historical romance (Readers' Favourite in 2019, Book Excellence Awards in 2020, Global Book Awards in 2022 and Book Excellence Award in 2023) and fifteen B.R.A.G. Medallions, Stella Riley lives in the beautiful medieval town of Sandwich in Kent.

She is fascinated by the English Civil Wars and has written six books set in that period. These, like the 7 book Rockliffe series (recommended in The Times newspaper!) and the Brandon Brothers trilogy, are all available in audio, narrated by Alex Wyndham.

Stella enjoys travel, reading, theatre, Baroque music and playing the harpsichord.  She also has a fondness for men with long hair - hence her 17th and 18th century heroes.

Social Media Links:







Book Bub:

Amazon Author Page:




Monday, August 14, 2023

Book Spotlight and Excerpt: Esperanza’s Way by Cindy Burkart Maynard


Follow the tour HERE

Motivated by the memory of her mother dying in her arms, Esperanza resolves that she will one day walk the halls of the Scola Medica at Salerno and train to become a healer. Fate brought Amika, a talented herbalist, into her life and helped Esperanza take her first steps toward gaining the knowledge that would fulfill her dream. Unfortunately, a tragic accident forced Esperanza to flee Amika's home. Her journey toward finding the path to success is littered with stumbling blocks, some more difficult to avoid than she expected.



Universal Link – Esperanza’s Way (Book 2):


Universal Buy Link – Finding the Way (Book 1):

 .•*´¨)✯ ¸.•*¨) ✮ ( ¸.•´✶


Amika pulled her mind away from her memories of the Camino. She was delighted by Mateo's news, but his words swirled around her head like a swarm of bees, buzzing but not landing.

The whirlwind of emotions that stirred her had nothing to do with Mateo's school. Her feelings were visceral. Her heart swelled to overflowing, not with pride for his accomplishments, but with an aching need. He had risen so high in the world, she worried he would slip away from her altogether. Her accomplishments were ripples in a stream compared to the waterfall of his success. She knew he would never marry her; their differences were too great.

Nevertheless, from the moment she met him on the Camino, she understood he would always be her first and only love. He had ambitious plans that did not include an uneducated peasant girl. Though he loved her in his way, he would never tether himself to her side. She put her disappointment aside as Mateo threw his arm around her shoulder enveloping her in his cloak and led him inside. Tonight, at least, he will belong only to me.

Cindy Burkart Maynard

Cindy Burkart Maynard is passionate about history, and the natural world, a passion that adds rich detail and context to her historical fiction novels. Her characters come to life on the page as they portray what it was like to live in another time and place. She weaves compelling, dramatic stories based on strong characters facing daunting challenges. She has co-authored two nonfiction works about the Colorado Plateau and the Desert Southwest and contributed articles to Images and Colorado Life Magazines. She has been a Volunteer Naturalist for Boulder County for more than twenty years, and served as a Docent at the Sonora Arizona Desert Museum in Tucson, AZ.

Colorado Authors League Award Winner for Western Literature

Women Writing the West Award Finalist
WILLA Literary Award finalist for soft cover fiction.

Readers’ Favorite Five Star Author
Winner of the Marie M. Irvine award for Literary Excellence


Professional Affiliations:

Historical Novel Society of North America

Lighthouse Writers

Women’s Fiction Writers Association

Colorado Authors League

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers

Authors Guild

 Social Media Links:


Publisher author page:




Amazon Author Page:


Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Book Spotlight: The Traitor Beside Her by Mary Anna Evans, Audiobook narrated by Kimberly M. Wetherell


Follow the tour HERE

"Evans's characters are vividly drawn, elevating this story and its revelations about women's little-celebrated contributions to the war effort."— Washington Post


"An exciting read with historical tidbits, a hint of danger, and a touch of romance."— Kirkus Reviews


The Traitor Beside Her is an intricately plotted WWII espionage novel weaving together mystery, action, friendship, and a hint of romance perfect for fans of The Rose Code and Code Name Helene.


Justine Byrne can't trust the people working beside her. Arlington Hall, a former women's college in Virginia has been taken over by the United States Army where hundreds of men and women work to decode countless pieces of communication coming from the Axis powers.


Justine works among them, handling the most sensitive secrets of World War II—but she isn't there to decipher German codes—she's there to find a traitor.


Justine keeps her guard up and her ears open, confiding only in her best friend, Georgette, a fluent speaker of Choctaw who is training to work as a code talker. Justine tries to befriend each suspect, believing that the key to finding the spy lies not in cryptography but in understanding how code breakers tick. When young women begin to go missing at Arlington Hall, her deadline for unraveling the web of secrets becomes urgent and one thing remains clear: a single secret in enemy hands could end thousands of lives.


"A fascinating and intelligent WWII home front story." —Rhys Bowen, New York Times bestselling author for The Physicists' Daughter


 Buy Links:

 Universal Link

Audio Buy Links:

Audiobooks   Audible

.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨) ( ¸.•´

Fun Facts 
The Traitor Beside Her

The Traitor Beside Her is set in Washington, DC, in 1944. Justine Byrne is working undercover to find a spy who is embedded with a group of code-breakers who are essential to the war effort. She is brand-new to espionage and barely trained, but she’s smart, and she works hard, and she’s scared to death, so she’ll be just fine, probably….


This photo shows the real-life female code-breakers who inspired The Traitor Beside Her. They were recruited based on their intelligence, mathematical ability, and verbal ability. Being good at crossword puzzles was a plus, too! They did life-and-death, grueling work for years under conditions of absolute secrecy, and they were critical to the success of the Allies in winning WWII.

Photo credit: Signal Intelligence Service


Fun Fact 1: The fabulous nightclub where Justine is taken on a date by a man who wants to impress her very much was a real place called the Mayfair Café. It offered fine dining, exotic cocktails, and entertainment that ranged from jazz combos to magicians. Here is a photo of the actual Mayfair Café, with its evocative mood lighting. The jazz combo and dancing would have been at the rear of this photo, where you can see the grand piano.

Photo credit: Library of Congress


Fun Fact 2: The massive complex where Justine works as part of a code-breaking operation during World War II, Arlington Hall, was a real place, shown in the photo below. The government took over a campus that had belonged to the Arlington Hall Junior College for women, using the existing buildings and constructing more and bigger buildings to make space for people doing work similar to that done at the more famous Bletchley Park in England.

Photo credit: Library of Congress


Fun Fact 3: The dormitories at Arlington Farms, where Justine and Georgette live while they’re working at Arlington Hall, were also real. The site is currently part of the Arlington National Cemetery. This photo shows a newly constructed dormitory at Arlington Farms called Maine Hall. Justine’s home would have looked very much like it.

Photo credit: Library of Congress


Fun Fact 4: The women’s dormitories at Arlington Farms became so famous that soldiers and sailors visited the campus like a tourist attraction when they came home. This fame meant that there were a number of articles written about the dormitories (which helped me a lot with my research!), as well as many photos (which helped me even more!) Here’s a photo of the interior of one of the bedrooms.

Photo credit: Library of Congress


Fun Fact 5: One of the real-life female code breakers, Ann Caracristi, spent the rest of her life working in intelligence for the US government, rising to the rank of Chief of Research and Operations of the NSA. The women in The Traitor Beside Her are modeled on Ann and others who performed heroic service that was critically important to the Allies’ success. An interview with Ann can be found on the Library of Congress website:

Photo credit: Library of Congress

REALLY REALLY FUN FACT, BONUS EDITION: Scroll back to the top of this post and look at the photo of the real-life code-cracking women at work. The blond woman on the right side of the photo is Ann Caracristi.


Mary Anna Evans

Mary Anna Evans is an award-winning author, a writing professor, and she holds degrees in physics and engineering, a background that, as it turns out, is ideal for writing her Justine Byrne serieswhich began with The Physicists’ Daughter and continues with her new book, The Traitor Beside Her. She describes Justine as “a little bit Rosie-the-Riveter and a little bit Bletchley Park codebreaker.”

Mary Anna’s crime fiction has earned recognition that includes two Oklahoma Book Awards, the Will Rogers Medallion Awards Gold Medal, and the Benjamin Franklin Award, and she co-edited the Edgar-nominated Bloomsbury Handbook to Agatha Christie.

 Social Media Links:






Book Bub:

Amazon Author Page:




Friday, August 4, 2023

Audiobook Spotlight: The Briton and the Dane: Birthright by Mary Ann Bernal, narrated by Sebastian Lockwood


Two years have passed since Alfred the Great successfully defeated Guthrum, King of the Vikings. The fair land of England is at peace. That is, until the harmony is threatened by Guthrum's angry, vengeful, illegitimate son, Rigr, who is hell-bent on usurping his father's throne. Rigr demands his Birthright - an acknowledgment that he is the sole heir to the Danelaw, but his father refuses his claim.

Rigr assembles his army; a motley, but formidable, cohort of disenchanted warriors. Fearsome Guthrum, the ruler of everything from Kent to Northumbria, is made aware of the threat and conjures his forces, meeting the rebellious host on the field at Thetford.

Thousands upon thousands of bloodthirsty warriors confront each other on the sunlit, windless plains of East Anglia. The victors will rewrite the course of history, and the fate of England is in the hands of the gods of war.

Listen to the Preface HERE


Universal Purchase Link

Amazon Global Link