#ScandalsDeception #PamelaGibson #HFVBTBlogTours

Scandal’s Deception by Pamela Gibson

Publication Date: July 21, 2021
Soul Mate Publishing, LLC

Series: Scandal Series, Book 4
Genre: Regency Historical Romance

Jane Stafford, raised in America, is shocked to learn she is a wealthy heiress, her late father was an earl, and her English mother is alive. Anxious to meet the woman she long-thought dead, she travels to London, only to be whisked away by her sinfully handsome guardian to a remote estate to be “schooled” in the ways of the ton.

Gilbert Carmichael, Lord Ralston, chafes at having to make a rebellious young heiress acceptable to society, especially one who is impetuous and blatantly democratic. Because the instruction she needs is more than deportment and dancing. It’s also about how to spot a rake who might woo her for her fortune.

When Ralston learns his ward is to be used as a pawn in an elaborate scheme involving a secret impersonation, he will move heaven and earth to keep her safe. Because proximity has brought the uncomfortable knowledge that his interest may be more than duty—it just might be love.

About the Author

Author of eight books on California history and sixteen romance novels, Pamela Gibson is a former City Manager who now lives in the Nevada desert. She has a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in public administration, but her passion is and always has been writing.

Having spent three years messing about in boats, a hobby that included a five-thousand-mile trip in a 32-foot Nordic Tug, she now spends most of her time indoors happily reading, writing, cooking and keeping up with the antics of Ralph, her Siamese rescue cat.

If you want to learn more about her activities go to https://www.pamelagibsonwrites.com and sign up for her blog and quarterly newsletter. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, BookBub, and Goodreads.


“Who occupies the room beyond?” asked Jane.

Mother raised her eyebrows. “Your sister of course. How can one maid dress two ladies if they are far apart?”

Jane swallowed several times, trying not to become alarmed. So many surprises in one day were off-putting. “I am to meet her today? Now?”

“You are. I must warn you, your sister is ill. She does not like visitors popping into her chamber while in her bedridden state.”

“Is it serious? Have you called a physician?” Ralston turned into the dutiful guardian, concerned about his other charge’s health.

“No, I have not. Nothing can be done. It must run its course, and that course could take a week or more.”

Ralston narrowed his eyes in concern. “Should Jane remain here. I do not want her to contract something that might be contagious.”

Lady Siltsbury laughed, and her dainty hands fluttered in front of her. “Please. Give me more credit than that. Jocelyn’s ‘state’ is why Jane has been summoned early, and I pray that she is prepared.”

She opened the door and approached the bed where Jane’s mirror image lay propped on large, fluffy pillows, a book tossed on the floor.

“Oh no, Mama. No visitors.” Jocelyn covered her face with her hands.

The girl in the bed was a stranger, but a curious connection seemed to draw Jane closer. She sat on the edge of the bed and gently tugged her sister’s hands away from her face. What she saw would have been appalling if she hadn’t suffered a similar fate several years ago.

Jane’s twin was covered with red welts, and she knew from experience they itched like the devil and scratching made them worse.

She swallowed the smile on her lips and tried to appear somber. “You have hives.”

The woman in the bed, who looked so much like her, widened her eyes and reached out to touch Jane’s face. “I-I don’t believe it. Mama said I had a twin. I thought her addled by excessive strain over the arrangements for the ball. You are real.”

They gazed at each other as if no one else were in the room. Jane broke the silence.

“What was the cause of this catastrophe? Is it possible you have been dining on a particular hothouse delicacy called fresh strawberries?”

Jane’s first experience with strawberries had been at a market fair. A farmer had been experimenting with the plant and offered a sample. They were too delicious to refuse, and Jane had bought a large basket of them to take home. They were delightfully sweet, and she had eaten more than she should. The next day, and for several more days after, she’d regretted her gluttony.

“You look like you want to laugh at my discomfort.” Jocelyn drew the covers to her chin. “Why are all of you in this room? And why is Ralston in here?”

“Lord Ralston is our guardian. He has every right to be concerned about our welfare until we reach our majority, or marry.” She peered closely above Jocelyn’s ear. “I believe I see a new welt on your scalp.”

“I knew it.”

The spots were funny to see. They also were misery incarnate. She held her mirth and tried to look compassionate. But the conversation taking place behind her made her pay close attention.

“The birthday ball is in two days,” said Lady Siltsbury.

“A shame,” said Ralston. “I know you’ve gone to great expense. Jocelyn must remain in bed.”

“It is too late to call off the festivities now, Ralston.”

“Will you host the ball without her?”

“Not really.”

“What do you mean?”

“Jane is going to impersonate Jocelyn.”

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 9
Guest Post at Novels Alive

Tuesday, August 10
Excerpt at Books, Ramblings, and Tea

Wednesday, August 11
Review at Michelle the PA Lives to Read

Thursday, August 12
Excerpt at Wishful Endings

Friday, August 13
Excerpt at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Saturday, August 14
Review at Up Past My Bedtime

Monday, August 16
Review at Bookworlder

Tuesday, August 17
Interview at Books & Benches

Wednesday, August 18
Excerpt at Reading is My Remedy

Thursday, August 19
Review at Novels Alive

Friday, August 20
Excerpt at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals
Review & Interview at Bonnie Reads and Writes

Monday, August 23
Review at Rajiv’s Reviews

Tuesday, August 24
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Wednesday, August 25
Guest Post at The Cozy Book Blog

Thursday, August 26
Review at Two Bookish Babes

Friday, August 27
Excerpt at Coffee and Ink
Review at The Enchanted Shelf
Excerpt at Books Lattes & Tiaras


Enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on August 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Scandal’s Deception

#CadsTrilogy #CherylHolt #HFVBTBlogTours

Cad’s Wish (Book One)

Publication Date: August 16, 2021

New York Times bestselling author, Cheryl Holt, delivers her new and dazzling ‘CADS’ trilogy, three lush novels filled with drama, heartache, and love forevermore…

Hunter Stone is London’s most notorious cad. He’s lived a life of debauchery and vice, and he’s the most dedicated bachelor in the kingdom. He’s renowned for his wicked ways, and he always has a beautiful woman on his arm to keep him company. But when his father suddenly inherits the family’s earldom—an elevation that was completely unexpected—Hunter is next in line to be earl. He has to marry quickly to secure the title and inheritance. What’s a cad supposed to do?

Hannah Graves is a modern, independent young woman. She thinks men are fools and idiots, and she’s decided to avoid the path to matrimony that most females are forced to walk. When her father died and left her a small inheritance, she fled her rural life in the country and used the money to open a bookshop in London. She’s proud of herself and delighted with the strong choices she’d made, but it’s not easy to be a female proprietor in a man’s world, and she constantly dances on the edge of fiscal ruin.

When Hannah meets Hunter, sparks fly and passion ignites. But Hunter’s corrupt reputation precedes him, and he represents everything she detests in a male. But he’s a handsome, wealthy scoundrel who always gets exactly what he wants. When he sets his eye on Hannah, how can she resist?

Cad’s Pick (Book Two)

Publication Date: August 16, 2021

New York Times bestselling author, Cheryl Holt, delivers the second novel in her new and dazzling ‘CADS’ trilogy.

Warwick Stone is a rich, handsome cad. He revels in outrageous ways and enjoys his reputation as a scoundrel. But when his father suddenly inherits the family’s earldom—an elevation that was completely unexpected—Warwick has to marry in a hurry and start siring some heirs. As the consummate bachelor, who never expected to wed, the whole notion of matrimony is exhausting. He figures he’ll quickly pick a fetching debutante with a good dowry, and he’ll become a husband by expending as little effort as possible.

Wilhelmina Dobbs had an odd childhood. Her father was a famous artist, but a flawed and damaged man. As a girl, she followed him across Europe, standing in the background as he painted masterpieces and disgraced himself with his extravagant habits. After his death, she retired to the country to live quietly and paint too. After watching her father regularly disgrace himself, she’s sworn off all men. She can’t imagine ever marrying and intends to remain a spinster.

When Wilhelmina crosses paths with Warwick, sparks fly and passion ignites, but his corrupt reputation precedes him. He represents everything she detests in a male, but he’s spoiled and determined, and he always gets exactly what he wants. When he decides he wants Wilhelmina, how can she resist?

Cad’s Choice (Book Three)

Publication Date: August 16, 2021

CHERYL HOLT delivers the third and final novel in her fun and dazzling CADS trilogy…

Captain Sheridan Stone sails the Atlantic as a privateer who harasses enemies of the British Crown. He’s not a pirate, but he’s close enough. He lives a life of adventure, danger, and violence, but he was wounded in a battle. It’s left him weary, and he’s thinking of retiring and returning to England. He might even be ready to marry and settle down, but his bride would have to be the perfect girl from the perfect family.

Miss Sophia Cantwell is a poor relative with no dowry or prospects. Her father was a dreamer and schemer, and she’s possessed of his wanderlust and grandiose ideas. She wishes she’d been born a man so she could shuck off society’s restrictions and have the exciting future she’s always envisioned for herself.

When Sheridan meets Sophia, there’s an instant attraction, but he’s an earl’s son, and he’s convinced himself that he will wed very high. Sophia has nothing he wants, so she could never be the bride he imagined. But she just might be the woman who could make him happy forever.

Pick up the Cad’s Trilogy on Amazon

About the Author

Cheryl Holt is a New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon “Top 100” bestselling author who has published over fifty novels.

She’s also a lawyer and mom, and at age forty, with two babies at home, she started a new career as a commercial fiction writer. She’d hoped to be a suspense novelist, but couldn’t sell any of her manuscripts, so she ended up taking a detour into romance where she was stunned to discover that she has a knack for writing some of the world’s greatest love stories.

Her books have been released to wide acclaim, and she has won or been nominated for many national awards. She is considered to be one of the masters of the romance genre. For many years, she was hailed as “The Queen of Erotic Romance”, and she’s also revered as “The International Queen of Villains.” She is particularly proud to have been named “Best Storyteller of the Year” by the trade magazine Romantic Times BOOK Reviews.

She lives and writes in Hollywood, California, and she loves to hear from fans.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | BookBub | Goodreads



“No.  Absolutely not.”

Warwick Stone glared at his father, Neville, but Neville could never be shamed or cowed.  He glared back, his expression bland and infuriating.

“Why would you automatically refuse?” Neville asked.  “You haven’t heard me out.”

“And I don’t intend to hear you.  Hunter told me you were about to start nagging.”  Hunter was Warwick’s older brother.  “Your badgering worked on him, but it won’t work on me.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“Yes, I’m very sure.”

They were sequestered in a parlor at his father’s newly-inherited town house, seated side by side on comfortable chairs.  A warm fire burned in the grate to ward off the evening chill.  For once, they were alone, which was odd.  They were rich and entitled, so they carried on extravagantly, liking to loaf and wager at their favorite clubs and haunts.  It meant they were constantly surrounded by hordes of people.

Neville, especially, like being in a crowd and the center of attention, so it was an unusual moment, and Warwick was trying to cherish it.  But he and Neville had a difficult relationship, so their interactions were never smooth.

“Our situation has changed,” Neville said.

“I realize that fact.  I’m not a dunce.”

“That might be debatable.”

Warwick had just returned from an extended holiday in Scotland where he’d reveled outrageously.  The end of the stay had culminated with his winning a thousand pounds in a reckless hundred-mile horse race.  His friends were still agog over it.  It was the sort of antic he and his male kin were renowned for pursuing, and over the centuries, it had delivered all sorts of ruin. 

He became more absurd by the month, and it was really quite amazing that he’d lived to be twenty-nine.  Yet if he was negligent and foolish, he blamed Neville.

His father had been a worthless parent, and he’d provided no guidance or supervision whatsoever.  Warwick’s mother had died when he was small, and he and his two brothers, Hunter and Sheridan, had grown up at Neville’s country estate of Stone Manor, while Neville had caroused in London.

He’d paid servants to raise them, and they’d been a lazy, unscrupulous bunch who’d had little interest in managing, and no ability to control, three rambunctious boys.  Warwick and his brothers had wandered like a trio of abandoned wolf pups.  There had been no challenge they didn’t accept and no feat they wouldn’t attempt.

As adolescents, then adults, they’d simply continued their rash routines, but their deeds were ever more dangerous.  They had too much time on their hands, and they were much too brave.  They loved trouble and mischief, and they exhibited an irrepressible amount of daring-do that could be astonishing.

Their impulsive conduct was only matched by their immoral tendencies.  They possessed all of Neville’s worst traits and very few of his good ones.  Actually, Neville didn’t have many good traits.  He gambled and chased loose women, and he rarely engaged in any other endeavors.  Even though he was fifty, he was still a debauched wretch—and he was proud of it.

Blog Tour Schedule

Friday, August 6
Review at Booking With Janelle (Book 1)
Review at Across the Sky in Stars (Book 1)

Saturday, August 7
Excerpt at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Monday, August 9
Guest Post at Novels Alive
Review at Rajiv’s Reviews (Book 1)

Tuesday, August 10
Feature at The Cozy Book Blog

Wednesday, August 11
Review at Booking With Janelle (Book 2)

Thursday, August 12
Review at Pursuing Stacie (Book 1)

Friday, August 13
Review & Excerpt at Elodie’s Reading Corner (trilogy)

Sunday, August 15
Review at Booking With Janelle (Book 3)

Monday, August 16
Review at The Enchanted Shelf (trilogy)

Tuesday, August 17
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, August 18
Review at Rajiv’s Reviews (Book 2)

Thursday, August 19
Feature at Reading is My Remedy

Friday, August 20
Review at Pursuing Stacie (Book 2)

Monday, August 23
Review at Chasing Leslie (trilogy)

Wednesday, August 25
Excerpt at Coffee and Ink

Thursday, August 26
Review at Rajiv’s Reviews (Book 2)

Friday, August 27
Review at Pursuing Stacie (Book 3)


9 winners will receive a copy of Cad’s Wish and 1 grand prize winner will win all three books! To enter, please leave a comment below with your email address. Please note, your email address will be added to the author’s newsletter mailing list.

The giveaway is open to US addresses only and ends on August 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

#NoNamestobeGiven #JuliaDaily #HFVBTBlogTours

No Names to Be Given by Julia Daily

Publication Date: August 3, 2021
Admission Press, Inc

Genre: Historical Fiction

  1. Sandy runs away from home to escape her mother’s abusive boyfriend. Becca falls in love with the wrong man. And Faith suffers a devastating attack. With no support and no other options, these three young, unwed women meet at a maternity home hospital in New Orleans where they are expected to relinquish their babies and return home as if nothing transpired.

But such a life-altering event can never be forgotten, and no secret remains buried forever. Twenty-five years later, the women are reunited by a blackmailer, who threatens to expose their secrets and destroy the lives they’ve built. That shattering revelation would shake their very foundations-and reverberate all the way to the White House.

Told from the three women’s perspectives, this mesmerizing story is based on actual experiences of women in the 1960s who found themselves pregnant but unmarried, pressured by family and society to make horrific decisions. How that inconceivable act changed women forever is the story of No Names to Be Given, a heartbreaking but uplifting novel of family and redemption.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound | Powell’s | Target


No Names to Be Given by Julia Brewer Daily


Sandra always sauntered through her house, as though she were on a stage. Even as a young child, she pretended she was an actress or dancer.

“Sandra, quit sashaying around this house,” her mother would say. “And wipe that lipstick off your mouth.”

“Leave her alone, Mama. She’s learning to be a girl.” Her daddy always took her side. When he died, her world tumbled end over end, as his tractor did when it tipped over the bluff on a tenant farm in Illinois.

Her father was in the rocky grave only a few days before Glen approached her mother, Peggy. Glen smoothly talked Peggy into letting him move into their house. He told her not to worry about paying the bills they owed or buying groceries. He would take care of them. 

Soon after Glen moved into their house, Sandra stood on the porch’s edge and watched as he dragged a kitten from under the porch. A stray cat gave birth to three babies under the steps and died before she could nurse them. Two of the kittens had already perished. The remaining one twisted in Glen’s enormous hands. 

“What’re you going to do with that kitten, Glen?” Sandra knew that most stray cats ended up in burlap sacks in the creek.

“I need you to keep him alive, Sandra. He can live in the barn when he’s strong enough.” Glen whispered to the form in his grasp.

 “You’re a fighter. You can do this,”

Sandra had not seen this gentle side of Glen. Are you trying to get on my good side? She stumbled forward and swept the tiny gray creature from him. The pitiful mewing of the little thing encouraged her. In the kitchen, she poured milk into a dish and dipped a cloth to dampen it. Holding it to the cat’s mouth, she grinned as it sucked on the fabric.

“I’ll get an eyedropper to make it easier,” Glen said.

Sandra nodded. What’s come over you? Never thought you had a nice bone in your body.

Glen slept with her mother, but his eyes always watched Sandra. She reached for a cornmeal bag on the shelf, and he watched her shirt hike up from her shorts. He sat in the swing on the porch and waited for her to arrive home from school. Sandy tried to stay out of his way. 

Yards of blue cotton cloth divided their house, hanging from ropes to separate the kitchen from corners where cotton mattresses lay on the floor. Sandra slept with her mother until Glen arrived. Then, she dragged a striped mattress near the back door. Sandra always hoped to avoid Glen. He made the hair on her arms stand on end.

Every day Sandra dressed for high school and tried to look nice, but Glen was less than complimentary. One morning in her junior year of high school, Sandra passed him on the porch.

“You’re not wearing that blouse. You look like a tramp. That’s all boys need is to see you like that,” Glen growled. He snatched at her arm and tore the sleeve. Red fiery anger blossomed inside her, as red as the blouse itself. Fuming, she’d run back into the house to change.

Sandra knew her mother afforded no time for her. Peggy spent her hours cooking meals and washing clothes for the man who shared their house. Their machine was one of the old crank types on the back screened porch. Her mother caught her hand in the rollers as she pressed clothes through the device and often smashed fingers or broke her nails.

“Ohhhh. Get me a cloth, Sandra.” Her mother’s cry and rusty metal grinding to a halt signaled another accident.

Sandra grabbed a flour sack towel from the sink and ran to the back porch. Her mother was seated on the floor, holding her hand and moaning.

“Here, Mama. Let me wrap your hand.” Sandra’s stomach curdled like buttermilk. Peggy’s index and middle fingers looked like ground beef.

“We’re going to take you to the hospital.”

“Poor people don’t go to the hospital.” 


“A gorgeous, thrilling, and important novel! These strong women will capture your heart.”-Stacey Swann, author of Olympus, Texas

“A novel worthy of a Lifetime movie adaptation.” Jess Hagemann, author of Headcheese

“An insightful and sympathetic view offered into the lives of those who were adopted and those who adopted them.”-Pam Johnson, author of Justice for Ella

“Readers can expect deep knowledge of the world the characters inhabit.”-Sara Kocek, author of Promise Me Something

“I found myself thinking about Becca, Sandy, and Faith frequently as I went about my day-I was always excited to sit down and find out what happened next.”-Sarah Welch, author of Austin Brown Dogs: The Shelter Dogs Who Rescue Us

About the Author

Julia Brewer Daily is a Texan with a southern accent. She has a B.S. in English and a M.S. degree in Education from the University of Southern Mississippi.

She has been an educator, Communications Adjunct Professor at Belhaven College, administrator, and Public Relations Director of the Mississippi Department of Education and Millsaps College, a liberal arts college in Jackson, MS.  She was the founding director of the Greater Belhaven Market, a producers’ only market in a historic neighborhood in Jackson, and even shadowed Martha Stewart.

As the Executive Director of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi (300 artisans from 19 states) which operates the Mississippi Craft Center, she wrote their stories to introduce them to the public. She is an adopted child from a maternity home hospital in New Orleans.

She searched and found her birth mother and through a DNA test, her birth father’s family, as well.  She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband Emmerson and two Labrador Retrievers, Memphis Belle and Texas Star.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, August 3
Review at Books, Writings, and More

Wednesday, August 4
Guest Post at Novels Alive

Thursday, August 5
Excerpt at Books, Ramblings, and Tea

Friday, August 6
Review at Amanda in PA

Monday, August 9
Interview at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, August 10
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Wednesday, August 11
Review at The Enchanted Shelf

Friday, August 13
Review at Bonnie Reads and Writes

Monday, August 16
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Tuesday, August 17
Excerpt at Coffee and Ink

Wednesday, August 18
Review at Two Bookish Babes

Friday, August 20
Review at The Cozy Book Blog

Monday, August 23
Review at Girl Who Reads


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Podcasts and a Story

I’m new to the listening tech. I only started listening to classical on YouTube and Pandora at work because of tinnitus. Later, from being bored at work when many hours of the day were spent working with old paper records and most of the office had been sent home. I did not need my brain for this. As the pandemic worn on—and on—I depended more and more on my old pal fictional narrative to get me through and turned to audiobooks.  They’re not bad if you have the right narrator, if they hit the right tone. Some books I can’t listen to.

I’ve recently progressed to podcasts. We signed up for a dual subscription to Spotify and, after years of Pandora and YouTube, I don’t think I can live without my Spotify. Because podcasts. The first one I listened to and loved was Unwell, which I’m still following. Highly recommended. I like to walk and listen, too. I’m trying out some others but, yeah, fiction saves me.

There’s more than fiction. I watch Lore so I was happy to follow a recommendation for a podcast narrated by the same person Aaron Mahnke: Unobscured. Salem Witch trials to the Ripper, shining a little more light onto oft-told tales. Now working from home, those get me around the horse track in my home town.

If you write, it’s amazing how much inspiration you might find between the lines, so I have to keep a notebook around when I listen. Unobscured helped me tremendously in getting over a hump in my novel. I’d still be stuck on Chapter Nine without it.

And if you write, it’s funny how bits and pieces paved over by the years suddenly jump out at you like a new frost heave.

I followed a random thread of thought a few Sundays ago while working on my blogs and went looking for a specific type of podcast. True Crime based in New England. I came up with a few, but I started on one because I liked the title: Dark Downeast by Kylie Low, mostly because I live in Maine.

So, if you’re still reading and interested in true crime podcasts, I highly recommend Dark Downeast (https://www.darkdowneast.com/). She deeply researches stories from the present and the past with respect to her sources and the victims with style.

One story in particular came up like that frost heave I mentioned. It’s the second story. I waited on Frank Douglas when he came into the B&B I worked at back in the day—it was still the 90s, I lived in NH, and it was my second day. I know, right?

I wrote a piece of flash fiction about the experience for a writing workshop. If I can find it, I’ll post it. It’s also amazing how much I didn’t know about the case at the time, but now that I think about it, the mid 90s was not a good time for me, so there’s that. So, when I first was listening to it, I didn’t really recognize it, not the names or the place. Gradually bits started popping out at me and I said to myself, hey, that’s Mr. Douglas!

Which is what Hattie the hostess said to me as she scanned the headlines of the Boston Globe one slow morning a long time ago in NH in the late fall…

In Training

“See that guy?” Rhonda, the senior waitress, pointed through the circle of glass in the swinging door between the kitchen and dining room of the bed and breakfast.

Genevieve nodded. The lone man, bald and age-spotted, occupied a table in an otherwise empty room filled with faded Victoriana and late autumn sunlight, eating the breakfast Rhonda had just delivered.

“He eats the same thing every time he comes here. Always alone, a couple times a year late in the season. Eggs Benedict. Bring him two sweet rolls and decaf. You’re new, so he won’t trust you, especially after I’m gone. Bring a steak knife with the eggs. Bring a separate dinner plate of kale.”

“To eat?” Genevieve asked, thinking of the tough crunchy stuff between her own teeth.

“Yeah, the whole plate. Gross, huh?”

“And a knife for poached eggs?”

Laughter erupted in the kitchen behind them. Rhonda smirked, drawing out the moment, Genevieve thought.

“Yeah,” Rhonda said. “So he can kill you if you get his order wrong.”

“Shut up. He’s a nice guy. He tips good,” the red-haired waitress, Julie, said. “Don’t listen to him, Gen, they’re just trying to scare you.”

The breakfast cook, sweating in front of the grill, surrounded by boiling pots, said, “Just don’t make him mad, new girl.”

“Don’t marry him and make him mad!” the prep cook shouted.

“They can’t prove anything,” Julie called back.

Rhonda glanced out the little window again, Genevieve beside her. Their customer read his folded newspaper, eating kale with a knife and fork.

“Keep it down, you guys,” Rhonda said. “Come here, you.” She pulled Genevieve away from the door, to the other side of the room where the table for salad prep stood, littered with diced tomato, onion, and cucumber. The scent of bacon and eggs had begun to fade, shoved aside by simmering garlic and Fryolator oil.

“Listen. Last year there was an article in the Boston Globe about him. His wife disappeared. The paper said he lost her in a store. They found her purse in the ladies’ room but they never found her. At their house, the police found blood.” She paused again, leaning a little closer to Genevieve. “It was hers.”

The prep cook wiped at his red face with his sleeve. “No body, no crime.”

Genevieve pulled her braid nervously. What would she say to the man if he sat in her station? How could she look him in the eye?

“You have to have motive,” the salad prep said. “It’s not like he’ll get her life insurance, not until they find her.”

“Maybe she left. Maybe she set him up?” Julie pulled the toaster crumb tray out from the ancient toaster and wiped it off into the sink.

“Maybe she has dementia and wondered away. My grandma does that all the time.” Genevieve suggested, unsure about how she felt about contributing to the conversation. She didn’t like to gossip, but it was hard to avoid.

Julie brushed crumbs from her hands. “Oh, that’s so sad.”

“Maybe she was wicked sick?” The new dish washer brushed by Genevieve with a rack of steaming hot silverware to sort. “Maybe it was a mercy killing.”

“There would be medical records.” The salad prep popped a head of lettuce onto the sideboard and ripped out its stem. “Dr. Kevorkian he’s not.”

“The cops always suspect the person closest to the victim,” Rhonda said, heading back for the dining room.

The door swung open, then fell back. A grunt as the heavy wood landed on the arm wrapped in a gray cashmere sweater, accompanied by a rattle of plates.

The breakfast cook bared his teeth and cocked his head. “Heeere’s Johnny!”

Genevieve didn’t think it was funny anymore.

Rhonda swore and waved her arms. “It’s him.”

Julie said, “He can’t come back here. Stop him, Gen.” She wiped her buttery hands on a cloth with quick movements. “Jesus, never mind. Hey, Mr. W,” she sing-song-ed, putting a sashay into her walk. “You’ve got to give the door a hard kick—if he slips and sues us—Gee, are you looking for a job, we’ve got plenty of work back here for you.”

She held the door for him, then took the plates with expert ease as he peered bashfully around the room.  Once she had unloaded the plates by the dish pit, she led him back to the door, sweet talking him into the dining room. She threw a glare over her shoulder at them. Nobody spoke. Work had effectively stopped.

“Boy, he’s an old man,” the dishwasher said.

“What should I do?” Genevieve asked.

Rhonda smirked. “Bring him the check.”

© jan matthews 1996

#NecessarySins #ElizabethBell #HFVBTBlogTours

Necessary Sins by Elizabeth Bell

Publication Date: August 7, 2019
Claire-Voie Books
eBook & Paperback; 490 Pages

Series: Lazare Family Saga, Book 1
Genre: Historical Fiction

In antebellum Charleston, a Catholic priest grapples with doubt, his family’s secret African ancestry, and his love for a slave owner’s wife.

Joseph Lazare and his two sisters grow up believing their black hair and olive skin come from a Spanish grandmother—until the summer they learn she was an African slave. While his sisters make very different choices, Joseph struggles to transcend the flesh by becoming a celibate priest.

Then young Father Joseph meets Tessa Conley, a devout Irish immigrant who shares his passions for music and botany. Joseph must conceal his true feelings as Tessa marries another man—a plantation owner who treats her like property. Acting on their love for each other will ruin Joseph and Tessa in this world and damn them in the next.

Or will it?

Necessary Sins is the first book in the sweeping Lazare Family Saga that transports readers from the West Indies to the Wild West, from Charleston, Paris, and Rome into the depths of the human heart. Passion, prejudice, secrets, and a mother’s desperate choice in the chaos of revolution echo through five generations. If you enjoyed The Thorn Birds or the novels of Sara Donati, dive into Elizabeth Bell’s epic historical fiction today.

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First off, I’m touched the author dedicated her novel to one of the Great Queens of historical fiction. I won’t say who, as discovery is half the fun.

The Lazare family saga begins in the early 1700s in Sainte-Domingue, on a plantation with the horrible Marguerite, a character one loves to hate. From there, through violent rebellion against the cruelty of the European masters, the aftermath, and on to South Carolina. Marguerite brings her grandchild with her to America, into the French Catholic society at the heart of Charleston. The child grows up, becomes a doctor, and starts his own family. Gradually the old way of thinking, Marguerite’s way, begins to fade away. But when secrets make their way into the fabric of daily life, will they have the power to destroy or heal?

Elizabeth Bell has written a vivid, immersive novel I could not put down. The setting is as well-imagined as the characters, and I felt captivated by the time and place.

Complicated human hearts and minds struggle to come to terms with their choices and the consequences of making the wrong one. I usually have trouble reading overly religious characters, but I found the author’s style engaging and loved the epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter. Catholicism is a harsh taskmaster but there are some beautiful sentiments buried in the eternal doom and gloom, reflected in this novel.

And the lesson of Necessary Sins is…no, sorry, you’ll have to read it. I’m very much looking forward to reading more of this series.


“A feast of a novel by an extraordinary new voice. Haunting, meticulously researched, and exquisitely told through characters so human you’d swear they have beating hearts.” — KATHLEEN GRISSOM, New York Times bestselling author of The Kitchen House

“From the ashes of rebellion to heart-rending forbidden love, Necessary Sins is a work of art. Bell’s voice is a refreshing addition to the genre, and the breadth of her research is impressive. A strong start to a promising series.” — Jessica Cale, bestselling author of Tyburn

“A taut, compelling family drama with a fresh and intriguing setting. Necessary Sins will be a welcome read for fans of historical fiction.” — Olivia Hawker, internationally bestselling author of The Ragged Edge of Night

“A gripping family saga with complex characters, Necessary Sins is lushly detailed and beautifully written. I look forward to following the fortunes of this antebellum family in future volumes.” — Susan Higginbotham, author of The First Lady and the Rebel

“In antebellum South Carolina young Joseph Lazare discovers a secret that would ruin his family. Driven to atone, he becomes a priest, only to fall in love with a married woman. In this carefully researched historical novel Bell examines the way race, religion and class weave a web that Joseph may never escape. A thoughtful, vividly imagined and engrossing historical novel, highly recommended.” — Sara Donati, internationally bestselling author of The Gilded Hour

About the Author

Elizabeth Bell has been writing stories since the second grade. At the age of fourteen, she chose a pen name and vowed to become a published author. That same year, she began the Lazare Family Saga. It took her a couple of decades to get it right. New generations kept demanding attention, and the saga became four epic novels.

After earning her MFA in Creative Writing at George Mason University, Elizabeth realized she would have to return her two hundred library books. Instead, she cleverly found a job in the university library. She works there to this day.

Elizabeth is an active member of the Historical Novel Society, and she loves chatting with fellow readers, writers, and history buffs. Visit her at elizabethbellauthor.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, BookBub, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, August 4
Review at The Cozy Book Blog

Friday, August 6
Review at The Enchanted Shelf

Monday, August 9
Review at Rajiv’s Reviews

Wednesday, August 11
Interview at Books, Tiaras, and Lattes

Friday, August 13
Review at Coffee and Ink

Monday, August 16
Review at Passages to the Past

Friday, August 20
Review at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, August 25
Review at Robin Loves Reading

#ThenCametheThunder #RachaelHuszar #HFVBTBlogTours

Then Came the Thunder by Rachael Huszar

Publication Date: July 2, 2021
eBook; 160 pages

Series: Three Willows, Book 1
Genre: Historical Fantasy

Jessalyn Joy loves her husband, but she can’t help the feelings that arose when he volunteered for the Union army. When he comes back to her in a box instead of on his feet, those feelings complicate even more.

Jessalyn’s mourning period is cut short when something begins to attack the livestock in their small town, and greater dangers begin to threaten their provincial life. Thrown together with the new reverend, one of her own students, and a strange man somehow related to her husband’s passing, Jessalyn must find a way to stop the evils that threaten her husband’s first and ultimately last home.

Set in the Southwestern home front, Huszar blends a taste of fantasy into a startling down-to-earth world, creating a high stakes adventure for this strong female protagonist and her band of amateur sleuths.



As if on cue, two more young girls came tumbling up the path, joining Calvin and Caleb in their race around the tree. Jessalyn turned and saw a tall, thin man closing the gate behind him. She recognized him as Jule, the eldest Templeton son. 

“Jule!” Lilah said, waving. 

“Nice to see you, Miss Joy,” said Jule. Jessalyn nodded in return. He reached out and vigorously mussed his sister’s hair. “Lilah.”

“Cut it out!” Lilah said, batting his hands away. 

“You joining us for dinner, Miss Joy?” asked Jule. 

“No, I just came by for a quick visit.”

“Well, you know, you’re always welcome. I’m sure this one would be thrilled,” he said, patting Lilah’s head again. “She talks about you and your lessons non-stop. When she isn’t buried in one of your books.”

“I’m the lucky one who gets to teach a student like her,” Jessalyn said. 

“Smart as a whip. I’ve known that since you were a baby,” said Jule, beaming down at his sister. “You’re going to blow them out of the water in college.”

Lilah lowered her voice. “If you could help me convince Mama, I’d be mighty grateful.”

Jessalyn glanced at the kitchen window of the Templeton house, behind which Margaret was surely cooking up a frenzy for her family. 

“She’ll come ‘round,” Jule said, reaching his arms above his head, stretching out his back. “You don’t mind me adding the girls to your pack, do you? Rose wanted to stop by her folks’ before she came here.”

“No trouble,” said Lilah. They all turned back towards the group of children. The race had given way to another game. Both of Jule’s daughters had their skirts hitched up around their knees and were struggling to find footholds on the trunk of the old tree. Calvin and Caleb cheered them on. Meanwhile, Emmy had rolled off her blanket and was dangling her chubby legs off the edge of the porch. 

Jessalyn gulped. In a few years, all five of them would be her students. 

“Annabelle! Easter!” Lilah bellowed. “The boys aren’t allowed in that tree and neither are you! You wanna break your neck?” Caught in the act, both girls dropped back to the ground. One of them began theatrically crying. “Don’t you give me those crocodile tears, Annabelle, I taught you how to do that.” The crying ceased. Lilah put her hands on her hips. “Caleb, Calvin, play nice with your cousins. And watch Emmy!”

As the children resumed their play, Lilah turned back to the adults. 

Jule’s eyes were wide. “Well, now I know why they always want Grace to babysit instead of you.”

Lilah smacked his arm. “Hush. Did Charlie and Papa come back from the ranch with you?”

Jule’s expression sobered. “Mmhmm. They’re going with Granddad to make a report at Town Hall.”

“Report what?” asked Lilah. 

“We lost two more bulls last night.”

Lilah clapped a hand over her mouth. 

“That’s terrible,” said Jessalyn. She hadn’t heard any rumors of sickness among the cattle, which sometimes spread in the summer heat. This must have been something else. “Two more? You’ve lost some previously?”

Jule nodded. “Us and most of the other ranches. We used to lose maybe three a year between all of us, which is just natural, but this . . .” he trailed off. 

“Was it the same way as before? An attack?”

Jule glanced at Jessalyn. “I’ll spare Miss Joy the details, but yeah. It’s pretty vicious.”

“What could be doing this?” asked Jessalyn. 

“Papa thinks it’s some wild animal. Maybe rabies are making it do weird things, like kill, but not eat the meat,” Lilah said. “They just leave it there.”

“We’ve started having night watches around the ranch lands, but so far, no one’s seen anything,” said Jule. “My father figured it was time to make a formal report. If anyone can rally the town together to figure this out, it’s Mayor Carson.”

“Of course,” Jessalyn said. Her mind had already formed the image of a sickly coyote, lolling tongue and glowing eyes, staking out the Three Willows’ cattle in the dead of night. Hopefully the mayor would be able to take care of it quickly, if he was done meddling with Jessalyn’s social life. 

The front door of the Templeton house swung open and Margaret strode onto the porch. Her apron was spattered with the colors of cooking, and what looked like a potato peeling clung to her graying blonde hair. She surveyed the scene in front of her house. “Jessalyn,” she said shortly. 

“Hello, Margaret,” Jessalyn replied. 

And that was the end of the conversation. “Jule,” Margaret said to her son, “stop loafing out here in the yard, come inside. Lilah, round up the kids and start getting them washed. There’s plenty to do before dinner.”

“Yes, Mama,” chorused Jule and Lilah. Lilah gave one final wave to Jessalyn before hurrying off to gather the children. With one more nod to Margaret, Jessalyn turned and headed for the gate. 

Despite Jule’s insistence, Jessalyn knew that, no, she was not always welcome at the Templeton house. 

Rachael Huszar kept her life steeped in stories from a young age, and she began her own journey in story-making when she reached adulthood. In the time since, she has taken up swimming, roller skating, and consuming tabletop RPG streams. She spends the bulk of her time with her dog, Silo, and works full time as a designer in Dallas, Texas.

Website | Instagram | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, July 26
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Tuesday, July 27
Review at momma_doc_reads

Thursday, July 29
Guest Post at Novels Alive
Excerpt at Wishful Endings

Friday, July 30
Review at Bonnie Reads and Writes
Excerpt at Reading is My Superpower
Excerpt at Books, Ramblings, and Tea

Saturday, July 31
Excerpt at Bookworlder

Monday, August 2
Interview at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, August 4
Excerpt at The Cozy Book Blog

Thursday, August 5
Review at Novels Alive

Sunday, August 8
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Monday, August 9
Guest Post & Excerpt at Lalitha’s World of Serenity

Wednesday, August 11
Excerpt at Coffee and Ink

Friday, August 13
Interview at Reader_ceygo

Monday, August 16
Review at The Enchanted Shelf


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Then Came the Thunder