#TheSecretofChantilly #LauraRahme #HFVBT

The Secret of Chantilly by Laura Rahme

Publication Date: November 28, 2021

Genre: Historical Fiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Available on Amazon


Excerpt 2: “Carême at the Congress of Vienna”

Talleyrand would multiply my difficulties. It all began one morning when he revealed the political climate of Vienna; the intense surveillance that Austria’s foreign minister had engineered.

 “Vienna, Monsieur Carême,” he spelled out, “is crawling with Metternich’s spies. I want you to keep a careful eye on the Kaunitz kitchen. If you hear anything, advise me of it. Try not to write anything down.”

I understood at last. It was for this reason that the majority of the Kaunitz personnel, along with those appointed to the kitchen, were mostly French. Talleyrand was reticent to hire foreigners.

“I have been musing about something,” he added, examining the menu. “It dawned on me that you might even join the dinners.”

A thrill shot through me. I thought he meant that I could sit at the table during receptions. But no. Talleyrand had another idea.

“Unrecognized, of course. No one would suspect you were even there… You might, say, don a wig and dress as a lackey. Disguised in this fashion, you could supervise the others.”

Was I hearing this correctly?

Behind me, at the back of the kitchen, the vegetable peeler gave a cackle in response to some gossip. Her loud outburst underlined the absurdity of my situation.

“A wig?”

“Yes. But most importantly,” murmured Talleyrand as he leaned into me, “you could circulate among the guests, and supply me with vital information. Consider it. Unrecognizable and gliding from room to room, through the corridors and into the kitchens, you would have ears where no one suspects. It would be invaluable.”

And he pronounced the last word, invaluable, while fixing me with his blue eyes.

We remained suspended in silence. I could hear nothing of the kitchen workers now. The vegetable peeler’s incessant giggles were muffled by the loud stupor that rang in my ears.

For a dazed moment, I could scarcely believe Talleyrand had hatched this plot. Was he serious? I stared at the prince as though I were seeing him for the first time, my heart beating faster than ever.

“It will be just like in Valençay,” he added shamelessly. “I could take my time in the kitchens to presumably discuss the menu and the banquet’s ingredients, and through those visits, you shall keep me informed of all you have overheard during the soirées, or during the preparation hours…or else in the markets.”

“I hardly know who I would be keeping my eyes on, Your Highness.”

A gleam in his eyes revealed that he was pleased.

“So you consent to it?”

“I can do it, Your Highness,” I replied. A blend of excitement and utter panic had my chest fluttering. “I can certainly do it.”

“Monsieur Carême, that is an excellent menu,” declared Talleyrand, at the instant the rôtisseur came into view. “Excellent.”

And once the rôtisseur had left the kitchen, Talleyrand whispered: “Countess Edmond of Périgord will gladly be of service.”

“The countess?”

“Absolutely. She knows everything; who is who, who has an eye on who. She is remarkable. It even makes one nauseous. You ought to speak with her.”

And he left me there, completely stunned.

About the Author

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 6
Guest Post at Novels Alive

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

Wednesday, December 8
Excerpt at Reading is My Remedy

Thursday, December 9
Review at A Girl Reads Bookss

Friday, December 10
Review at Novels Alive

Saturday, December 11
Review at Jessica Belmont

Sunday, December 12
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Monday, December 13
Review at Bookoholic Cafe

Tuesday, December 14
Review at Bibliostatic

Wednesday, December 15
Review at MTM Reads

Thursday, December 16
Review at Books, Cooks, Looks

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


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

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

The Secret of Chantilly

#Rhapsody #MitchellJamesKaplan #CoverReveal #HFVBT

Rhapsody by Mitchell James Kaplan

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

Genre: Biographical/Literary/Historical

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author

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

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

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

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#Review#DownaDarkRiver #KarenOdden #HFVBTBlogTours

Down a Dark River by Karen Odden

Publication Date: November 9, 2021
Crooked Lane Books
Hardcover & eBook; 336 pages

Series: An Inspector Corravan Mystery, Book One
Genre: Historical Mystery

In the vein of C. S. Harris and Anne Perry, Karen Odden’s mystery introduces Inspector Michael Corravan as he investigates a string of vicious murders that has rocked Victorian London’s upper crust.

London, 1878. One April morning, a small boat bearing a young woman’s corpse floats down the murky waters of the Thames. When the victim is identified as Rose Albert, daughter of a prominent judge, the Scotland Yard director gives the case to Michael Corravan, one of the only Senior Inspectors remaining after a corruption scandal the previous autumn left the division in ruins. Reluctantly, Corravan abandons his ongoing case, a search for the missing wife of a shipping magnate, handing it over to his young colleague, Mr. Stiles.

An Irish former bare-knuckles boxer and dockworker from London’s seedy East End, Corravan has good street sense and an inspector’s knack for digging up clues. But he’s confounded when, a week later, a second woman is found dead in a rowboat, and then a third. The dead women seem to have no connection whatsoever. Meanwhile, Mr. Stiles makes an alarming discovery: the shipping magnate’s missing wife, Mrs. Beckford, may not have fled her house because she was insane, as her husband claims, and Mr. Beckford may not be the successful man of business that he appears to be.

Slowly, it becomes clear that the river murders and the case of Mrs. Beckford may be linked through some terrible act of injustice in the past—for which someone has vowed a brutal vengeance. Now, with the newspapers once again trumpeting the Yard’s failures, Corravan must dredge up the truth—before London devolves into a state of panic and before the killer claims another innocent victim.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | BAM | IndieBound

Review by Coffee & Ink:

A rich exploration of London and the Thames in 1878 in the wake of a serial killer.

When the first young woman is found dead in a boat floating on the river, Inspector Corravan (nothing to do with birds, mind you) is called in to help solve the crime.

The story is told in the first person. Corravan is a charismatic character with a colorful back story and a determination to find out who the killer is. Masterful writing, a twisting plot, and in-depth research made it difficult for me to pull myself away from the story. The author’s skills are superior in immersing the reader in the world of the novel, which is what I loved about her first book and what keeps me reading 😊. If you’re looking for an excellent Victorian mystery to give to yourself or a loved one for the holidays, this is the one. Ten great big stars!!!!

Praise for Down a Dark River

“A harrowing tale of unbridled vice that exposes the dark underbelly of Victorian society.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“A must read for mystery fans!”
—Charles Todd, New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Rutledge mysteries

“This twisty-turn-y mystery introducing a new and charismatic detective will delight readers also looking for well-researched history.”
—Susan Elia MacNeal, New York Times bestselling author of the Maggie Hope series

“Odden’s latest is intricately plotted and filled with a cast of wonderful characters, including a worthy and relatable hero.”
—Anna Lee Huber, USA Today bestselling author

“A spellbinding, brilliantly plotted Victorian murder mystery, Karen Odden’s Down a Dark River features a fascinating and relatable detective, a cast of complex characters, powerful prose, exceptional attention to historical detail, and enough twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat until the last astonishing page. Highly recommended!”
—Syrie James, bestselling author of The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte

“Sparkling prose, vivid description, a haunting and satisfyingly complex story . . . Down a Dark River is a must read for fans of any genre of crime fiction.”
—Edwin Hill, author of The Secrets We Share

“Gritty, compelling and vividly written . . . Like Anne Perry, Odden demonstrates a commanding grasp of authentic period detail.”
—Susanna Calkins, author of the Lucy Campion historical mysteries and Speakeasy Murders

“An original, street-smart detective, an intriguing mystery, and delicious Victorian flavor. All my favorite things!”
—Laura Joh Rowland, author of The Ripper’s Shadow, a Victorian Mystery

“No one does Victorian England like Karen Odden . . . Fans of Anne Perry and Charles Finch will welcome Inspector Michael Corravan.”
—Mariah Fredericks, author of the Jane Prescott mystery series

About the Author

Karen Odden earned her Ph.D. in English from New York University and subsequently taught literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has contributed essays to numerous books and journals, written introductions for Victorian novels in the Barnes & Noble classics series, and edited for the journal Victorian Literature and Culture (Cambridge UP). Her previous novels, also set in 1870s London, have won awards for historical fiction and mystery. A member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime and the recipient of a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Karen lives in Arizona with her family and her rescue beagle Rosy.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | BookBub | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, November 3
Review at NurseBookie
Guest Post at Novels Alive
Review at Debjani’s Thoughts
Excerpt at Books, Ramblings, and Tea

Thursday, November 4
Review at Novels Alive
Review at A Girl Reads Bookss

Friday, November 5
Review at Books, Cooks, Looks

Tuesday, November 9
Interview at Books & Benches

Wednesday, November 10
Excerpt at The Lit Bitch
Excerpt at Austenprose
Review at Crystal’s Library

Thursday, November 11
Review at Wishful Endings
Review at Books and Backroads

Friday, November 12
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Saturday, November 13
Review at A Darn Good Read

Monday, November 15
Review at Jessica Belmont

Tuesday, November 16
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Wednesday, November 17
Interview at Jathan & Heather

Thursday, November 18
Excerpt at I’m All About Books
Review and Excerpt at Older and Smarter

Friday, November 19
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Monday, November 22
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Tuesday, November 23
Review at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Wednesday, November 24
Review at Reader_ceygo

Friday, November 26
Interview at Reader_ceygo

Monday, November 29
Review at Amy’s Booket List

Tuesday, November 30
Review at Rajiv’s Reviews

Wednesday, December 1
Review at Coffee and Ink


Enter to win a copy of Down a Dark River by Karen Odden!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on December 1st. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Down a Dark River