Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Reticule Dump by Guest Blogger Alina K. Field

Everyone, please welcome today's guest, Alina K. Field! Thanks so much for visiting today, Alina!

I’m riffing today on a theme my friend, author Collette Cameron, blogs about: the Purse Dump. And, since the heroine of my latest novella, Liliana’s Letter, is a proper Regency lady, she didn’t carry a purse, she carried a reticule, a tiny little bag with about as much capacity as a contemporary evening bag.

What is Liliana carrying in her reticule? 

1. Money, as in coins, mostly pence, and not a lot. For one thing, a lady out walking could quickly find herself in an unsavory neighborhood. London still had no police force, and cutpurses worked the streets. Also, Liliana is putting money aside to bring her brother back to England. She’ll carry a bit more only when she needs to travel into the City to visit her solicitor.

2. Vinaigrette—not that she herself suffers the vapors. Never! And Katie, the heiress she is bringing out into society, has as yet never fainted, but a good hired companion must be prepared.

3. A tiny tin of Rose Lip Salve to ward off chapping from the cold damp weather.

4. A paper of pins. Since some parts of lady’s dresses were literally pinned together, one must always be prepared for a wardrobe failure.

5. Crisp white calling cards. She and Katie are making the social rounds, paying morning calls on old and new acquaintances.

6. A handkerchief—for the occasional weather-related sniffle, not for tears. A lady does not make a spectacle of her emotions; well, except perhaps when her solicitor presents her with a most disappointing letter from her brother.

Oh, all right, her hanky is quite the rumpled mess.

7. That infuriating letter from her brother, crumpled and tear-stained.

What’s not in her reticule? 

House keys—the footman on duty will open the door.

A driver’s license—only the coachman drives, and of course, there was no police force requiring licenses.

An ink pen—the inkpot would leak.

A comb—not enough room, and anyway, her hair is done up and stuffed under a bonnet.

Liliana’s Letter
by Alina K. Field

The Matchmaker

Lord Grigsby wants nothing more than to retreat to his study, but a promise to his long-dead sister has forced him back into society to broker the marriage of his nephew to the heiress whose money can save the young man’s earldom. If only the young lady’s starchy hired companion would move out of the way. 

The Matchbreaker

Hired to launch an heiress’s society debut, seemingly straitlaced spinster Liliana Ashford’s future as a professional chaperone depends on the girl’s successful marriage. But Liliana had her own close encounter with a scoundrel years ago, and she won’t let her charge be forced into marriage to the same kind of rogue, no matter how hard the man’s widowed uncle tries to woo Liliana around to the match.

Secrets and a Scandalous Murder

A shadow from Liliana’s past appears bearing an unfortunate letter she wrote long ago, and then the earl is murdered, evoking the scandal of the season. While she scrambles to make a respectable match for her charge before her own past can be exposed, Grigsby sets about finding his nephew’s killer—and Liliana’s secrets.  

Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | Nook

The woman at Grigsby's side was like a lightning rod expecting a bolt to strike, or like a Fury about to deliver one. This close, scent wafted from her, roses and lemon, he'd guess. Tall, straight, and stiff, underneath her self-possession was a temper ready to unleash. He would bet on it.

Intriguing. He dared to poke her ire. "You clearly don't approve of the match. Do you intend to openly oppose it?"

Her head whipped around, and she glared. "It's not for me to approve or disapprove. Katie—Miss Mercer—will decide."

Passion flashed in her eyes, sending an answering spark through him. She was magnificent—though so very mistaken. "Really? Then her father is more liberal than I expected."

She looked him over more closely. "What do you know of this matter?"

I might ask you the same question. Her tone had been stiff, like the crystallized dome covering bubbling lava. He fixed her with his sternest glare, not entirely surprised at her cheek.

His glower didn't impress her. She lifted her shoulders higher. Stood a little taller, proud, lovely, and filled with indignation.

Quite righteous indignation. He gave into an unmanly sigh, truly weary of his responsibility for Thomas. "I know a good deal, Miss Ashford. I have been negotiating for these nuptials. The arrangement is my doing as much as Mr. Mercer's. Much more than it is my nephew's. He is probably the least culpable, except for his abominable behavior."

She clenched her hands tightly. "I see."

"Thomas's mother was my older sister. I made a promise to her that I would look after him." Her gaze softened, and she bit her lip in a way that made him want to taste the part that she was nipping.

And where had that thought come from?

"And your nephew needs money and an heir."

He nodded. As a woman of the ton, of course she would understand how marriage worked. Marriage wasn’t about love, or the bride’s approval, or a plump lower lip that begged to be kissed.

"He needs money most of all. He has a younger brother in the army who would make a far more dutiful earl."

He covered his mouth with his hand. The words had rolled out, shocking him. He rarely spoke this frankly with any woman.

Very well, he never spoke this frankly with any woman.

She released a soft breath. "And there is the matter of the ore."

His mouth gaped and he quickly closed it. Mr. Mercer had shared that information? Well. "That part of the county is rich with newly discovered veins of iron."

That information brought her up straighter. She looked away, gazing intently at a thick, dark spot of foliage, making him want to pry into that sharp mind.

"I see,” she said. “I believe we should go back in now."

Not yet. He tucked her hand over his arm but did not move. "I had hoped we were not finished talking. I've learned your Christian name is Liliana, but I don't know anything else about you. I don’t know where you're from or anything about your family."

He sensed her bristling, and waited for some reaction, perhaps a slap, verbal, or, with a woman of her passion, even a physical one. Strictly speaking, he was importuning her, and damn if he wasn't enjoying the nerves rippling through her. 

About the Author:
Award-winning author Alina K. Field earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and German literature, but she found her true passion in reading and writing romance. Though her roots are in the Midwest, after six very, very, very cold years in Chicago, she moved to Southern California and hasn’t looked back. She shares a midcentury home with her husband and a blue-eyed cat who conned his way in for dinner one day and decided the food was too good to leave.

She is the author of the 2014 Book Buyer’s Best winner in the novella category, Rosalyn’s Ring, a Regency novella; and the novel-length sequel, a 2015 RONE Award finalist, Bella’s Band, both Soul Mate Publishing releases. 

Visit her at her website, Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Welcome Guest Blogger Anne B. Cole, Author of Souls Estranged

Thank you, Natalie for hosting my new release, Souls Estranged!

Since Souls Estranged is book two of a trilogy, I thought I’d talk a little about a supporting character who appears in all three books.

My heart belongs to my hero and heroine, Sam and Gretta, but in Souls Estranged, I have to choose Katarina as my favorite supporting character.

Sam's ancestral grandmother, Katarina has her spirit entwined within Ruby, an elderly nurse who befriends Sam and helps him throughout the story. Katarina also entwines within a terrorist in order to enter Tartarus in an attempt to rescue her daughter. And finally, she entwines within a squirrel to keep an eye on Gretta.

Katarina's fiesty determination to break the curse and protect Sam and Gretta is emotionally touching and adds a bit of humor to the story.

The squirrel in this picture often visits my peach tree. As I edited Souls Estranged, she began stealing peaches before they were ripe. I watched her from my writing spot and quickly grabbed my camera. She was kind enough to pose so I wrote her (and the peach) into my story.

Thanks, Natalie for hosting me today.

Souls Estranged (Book 2 of The Souls Trilogy)
by Anne B. Cole

Back from their adventures in Souls Entwined, Sam Daggett begins a new relationship with Gretta Dobbs, whose memories of their time-traveling experience have been erased. Determined to never leave her again, Sam vows to help Gretta, despite the bad luck curse on her heirloom ring. Within hours of their return, tragedy strikes. As Sam becomes the third victim of the bad luck curse, Gretta’s memories of her time spent in the past begin to return. Unable to remember more than snippets, she realizes that anyone close to her is in grave danger. In order to keep Sam and her family safe, she flees in the middle of the night. Finding the perfect summer job in the back hills of Virginia, Gretta unknowingly crosses paths with a serial killer. With guidance from their ancestral spirits, Roxana and Katarina, Sam desperately attempts to find Gretta before the curse strikes again.

Buy now from Amazon 

Also get Souls Entwined, book 1

About the Author:
Anne B. Cole is a genre-bending author who enjoys combining supernatural suspense, time travel, and sweet romance with a touch of magical realism in her books. Anne lives in Indiana with her husband and three teenage children. She teaches preschool and makes time to run so she can eat ice cream and doughnuts. Anne is currently working on Souls Endure, the final book of The Souls Trilogy. Find Anne at her website, blog, Twitter, or Facebook.


In the dim morning light of the hospital room, Sam Daggett watched the little cat stretch its front paws before zeroing intense green eyes on him.

“Roxana?” He scrutinized the feline for the slightest twitch of recognition.


Doubting Roxana’s spirit remained entwined within the gray and white cat, he moved his focus to Gretta Dobbs. She slept peacefully with her hand nestled in his. Neither of their families had returned to the hospital. Her garnet ring caught his attention and immediately a sense of foreboding crept up his spine.

His heart sped as images of his time traveling, out-of-body adventure with Gretta flashed through his mind. Roxana, Gretta’s long-dead ancestor, enabled their souls to entwine within nineteenth-century lovers in order to gather information on the cursed ring. Pride, determination, and fear filled him.

“I’m so sorry we didn’t find all of the answers we needed,” Sam whispered as he lifted her hand to his lips. He watched her eyes and listened for the beep of the heart monitor to quicken, satisfied she remained in dreamland. “I know you don’t remember our time together or what we’ve been through.”

He shuddered at the memories. His gaze fell back to the ring. Frustration filled him. The urge to rip it off her hand pounded through him, but he remembered she remained cursed with or without the ring.

Control. I must control my emotions.

He refocused his thoughts on the present and relished in the gratitude of simply being in the same room with her.

A soft sigh escaped her lips and she squeezed his hand before slipping into a deeper slumber.

“With you, nothing is impossible.” Careful not to bump his broken collarbone, Sam leaned closer and murmured, inches from her ear, “Brave and beautiful. Ready and willing to face pirates, spirits, and the horrors of the purgatories to end the family curse.” His heart hammered in his chest as memories of seeking treasure, falling in love, and losing it all flashed within his mind.

“I love you, Gretta. I’ll do everything in my power to earn your love.”

Tracing his fingers over the back of her hand, he touched the face of the ring’s oval red stone. He remembered every moment of their time together, while Gretta’s memories had been erased. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t prevent his thoughts from wandering. Concern prickled his skin as he recalled their quest to understand the ring’s curses.

The most dangerous one, a curse of bad luck, remained a mystery.

He inhaled and pushed his failures away. “Katarina told me to keep my distance from you because of potential tragedy. Nothing will keep me away. I vow to protect and love you forever.”

Gretta’s grip on his fingers tightened. With her hand remaining in his, he brushed a stray lock of hair off her cheek. She released his fingers and nuzzled into his palm with a tiny sigh. He closed his eyes, content to be back in his own body and time with her.

Yet uneasiness crept deep within and the dreadful feeling of impending tragedy grew stronger with every passing minute.

Friday, October 16, 2015

New Scottish Historical Release by Madelyn Hill

Heather in the Mist
by Madelyn Hill

Forced to wed to save her clan, Lady Rogan Cameron agrees to wed without love. 

What her father doesn’t know is Lady Rogan has plans of her own—plans to keep her from a loveless marriage. Can she save the clan before she has to say “I do?” 

Ian Albright abolished all ties to Scotland after his family betrayed him and he is now nursing a wounded ego due to an unfaithful fiancée. He pledges never to return to his home until the fateful day he accepts an invitation to his dear cousin’s wedding. The minute he sees his cousin’s betrothed, his heart is captured. If only she didn’t belong to another . . . 

Lady Rogan and Ian have known each other since they were young and bent on vexing each other. Now, the only thing they find vexing is the fact Rogan is betrothed to another. Together they fight their growing attraction while investigating the forces bedeviling the clan. Yet at every turn their foe appears and wreaks havoc. When tragedy strikes, their hopes are dashed again. 

Can Lady Rogan and Ian’s love win when fate seems determined to keep them apart?

About the Author:
Madelyn Hill has always loved the written word. From the time she could read and all through her school years, she'd sneak books into her textbooks during school. And she devoured books daily. At the age of 10 she proclaimed she wanted to be a writer. After being a "closet" writer for several years, she sent her manuscripts out there and is now published with Soul Mate Publishing. And she couldn't be happier!

A resident of Western New York, she moved from one Rochester to another Rochester to be with the love of her life. They now have 3 children and keep busy cooking, watching their children's sporting events, and of course reading!

As she rounded the stables, she halted at the sight of William embracing the strangers. His exuberance told her of their identity. She approached slowly, allowing the men privacy.

Without warning, the dark-haired giant turned in her direction. Her breath caught in her throat as her heart raced. She placed her hand on her stomach to quell the flutters.

Ian Albright.

William’s cousin was not the lad she remembered. Granted, it had been years since she’d seen him. When had Ian changed from a scruffy nuisance into a ruggedly handsome man?

She blinked.

Broad shoulders tapered to slim hips and strong legs, encased in taupe breeches. Thick black hair curled to his shoulders.

Aye, there was a presence about him—controlled power and confidence at the same time. Tingly awareness shot through her body.

And his piercing blue eyes were both vibrant and intrusive at the same time. Those eyes watched her as she approached and she couldn’t help but feel if she were being weighed.

Recovering her composure, she straightened her shoulders and walked to William’s side. His ear was occupied by an excited older gentleman. Their conversation was lost to her, but William obviously kenned the man. William and the older gentleman moved to the carriage and began unloading it.

Someone snapped their fingers.

Aghast, she turned and faced Ian Albright. “I will have you know, I am La—”

“We are tired and covered with dust. The lady of the keep need not worry about me, my man will see to everything.” Ian’s voice was low, with a touch of gravel. And too commanding for her taste. Just who did he think he was ordering her about? Then it struck her.

He doesn’t recognize me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Linda O'Connor and Her Book Club

Please welcome today's guest, Linda O'Connor!

Natalie - thank you so much for inviting me to visit!

Normally reading is a solitary activity, but for me, one of the best social activities has come from my love of reading! Many years ago, when I still had little ones at home, I craved adult company and more, suggestions for what to read. So I invited 6 friends to start a book club.

We’ve been meeting once a month ever since and take turns hosting. Initially, we served a healthy hors d’oeuvre followed by dessert. Then we thought, who are we kidding, we only want dessert! So it evolved into a lovely evening with a sweet indulgence.

We all read the same book and spend time discussing it – mostly (it competes with catching up with each other)! It’s been fun to see a book from other perspectives – from appreciating lyrical prose, to understanding deeper meaning or metaphor, to laughing at different parts, or sharing what we’ve read about the author.

We’ve had special evenings when an author has joined us. Diane Schoemperlen, author of Forms of Devotion, graciously spent an evening with us. Rules of Thumb: An Alphabet of Imperatives, one of her short stories, is a tongue-in-cheek guide to behaviour. It included the following advice about how to dress: “Under no circumstances whatsoever is it permissible to [wear] anything in lime green, hot pink, or fluorescent orange.” So we all went out and bought lime green, hot pink, and fluorescent orange clothes at the thrift store and wore them that evening. And “Never serve pretzels as an hors d’oeuvre.” So that’s what we served. It was a lot of fun. Of course, Diane was very diplomatic – when we asked if she noticed our colourful attire, she said she did, but wasn’t sure if that was our norm!

We’ve read a wide range of books from every genre over the years and some of the members have changed. But I’ve loved the constant of sharing the gift of reading with a wonderful group of friends.

Here's the book that I've written - our next book club book :D!

perfectly reasonable coverPerfectly Reasonable (Book 2, Perfectly Series)

Love what you do and do what you love. Sounds perfectly reasonable, but chances are, you’ll find your passion in the last place you look . . .

Margo MacMillan finished medical school, but in the process, her self-confidence and self-esteem took a beating. So for the sake of self-preservation, she’s stepped away from medicine to re-group. In the meantime, painting soothes her soul and pays the bills.

Trace Bennett set his sights on a medical degree and has to prepare the perfect medical school application. His big plan is to paint his condo for a little feng shui divine luck. When Margo shows up to paint, he realizes he’s found exactly what he’s looking for. He just has to convince Margo to share more than the art of medicine.

She’s got it. He wants it. It’s Perfectly Reasonable.

Buy the book here!

Linda O'ConnorMeet Linda O’Connor ~

Linda started writing a few years ago when she needed a creative outlet other than subtly rearranging the displays at HomeSense. It turns out she loved writing romantic comedies and has a few more stories to tell. When not writing she’s a physician (well, even when she is writing she’s a physician and it shows up in her stories) but otherwise she’s working at an Urgent Care Clinic or even better, dancing in a Zumba class (where they say there are no mistakes, only unexpected solos).

Laugh every day. Love every minute.

Linda loves connecting with readers:

Amazon Author Page

Friday, October 09, 2015

Visiting Casablanca with Linda Bennett Pennell

Everyone, please welcome today's guest blogger, Linda Bennett Pennell!

I have always been interested in World War II. When I originally started work on what is now Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn, it was entitled Wings and was set in Hialeah, Florida. It was to feature a 90-day wonder, as WWII pilots in training were known, and an army nurse. It just wasn’t working for me.

During communication with a former WWII pilot, he mentioned a friend who had been stationed in Casablanca. That sparked my interest. A bit of research into the First Allied Conference, which took place in Casablanca at the Anfa Hotel, and my pilot evolved into an OSS officer from Texas who speaks perfectly unaccented German and looks like a poster boy for Himmler’s SS. The Army nurse remains but she has transferred from Florida to Morocco.

The details of the Casablanca Conference are particularly interesting. It was at this meeting that Roosevelt prevailed upon Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, and Henri Giraud to formulate the policy of unconditional surrender by the Axis powers. Many in the German military and High Command hoped for very different terms of surrender if the unthinkable happened and Germany lost the war.

Spying and communications interception being what they were at the time, Hitler knew the conference was to take place and its approximate date. What he did not know was the correct location. The translator of the intercepted Allied communication made a significant error. He translated Casablanca correctly as "white house," but assumed incorrectly that the conference was to take place at the White House in Washington, D.C., not the city in Morocco. The error was eventually discovered, but not in time for the Germans to take action.

While all the above are historical facts, I am an author of historical fiction. The great fun in writing fiction is permission to play around with the facts. Let’s begin with spies, double agents, and a most unusual top-secret mission from which there is only slight chance of returning. Add two strangers sucked into a vortex of danger and intrigue who must learn to trust each other in order to survive. Next, spice the mixture with the fact that neither of them wants to fall in love. Top it all off with a question. Will seven days be enough to save the Allied war effort and the girl he loves? Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn has the answer.

Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn
By Linda Bennett Pennell

Casablanca, 1943: a viper’s nest of double agents and spies where OSS Officer Kurt Heinz finds his skill in covert operations pushed to the limit. Allied success in North Africa and the fate of the First Allied Conference—perhaps the outcome of the war—hang on Kurt’s next mission. The nature of his work makes relationships impossible. Nonetheless, he is increasingly torn between duty and the beautiful girl who desperately needs his protection and help.

Sarah Barrett, U.S. Army R.N., is finished with wartime romance. Determined to protect her recently broken heart, she throws all of her time and energy into caring for her patients, but when she is given a coded message by a mysterious dying civilian, she is sucked into a vortex of danger and intrigue that threatens her very survival. The one person who can help Sarah is Kurt, a man with too many secrets to be trusted.


“I’m Heinz. What do you want?”

“Oh. It’s you.”


“From the restaurant on New Year’s Eve.”

Kurt was silent for a moment, then it came back to him. “I remember. Sarah, right? You’re the girl who refused to dance with me.”

A red flush crawled from her throat onto the apples of her cheeks. “Yes. I’m sorry if I was rude.”

“I’ve been cut dead before. I got over it.”

The girl’s eyes glittered. “I’m sure you did. Are you going to keep me standing here on the doorstep for everyone to see?”

“Why? I’m not expecting company. Would it be a problem?”

“It certainly might if the people who tore my apartment apart followed me here.”

Kurt looked into her eyes with complete attention for the first time since opening the door. Whatever had happened to this girl, she looked terrified and angry. Not a particularly good combination for the covert activities he and Phelps were up to.

Kurt made a quick decision. He stepped back and pulled the door wide while raising his voice. “You better come inside and tell me why you think what happened to your apartment has anything to do with me.”

When they stepped into the living area, Phelps had disappeared. Kurt gestured toward the sofa and the girl sat down.

Propping himself on the sofa’s arm, he looked down into her frightened eyes.

“Now tell me how I can help you, Miss, uh…”

“Barrett, Sarah. US Army. RN.”

“Well, Nurse Barrett, what can I do for you?”

The girl stuck her hand in her coat pocket and whipped out a scrap of paper that she waved in his face. “By telling me what’s on this paper and why it’s so important that somebody took a knife to my furniture.”

About the Author:
Linda Bennett Pennell has been in love with the past for as long as she can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws her in. She supposes it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on her grandmother's porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the American South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into Linda's work.

As for her venture in writing, it has allowed her to reinvent herself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. Linda encourages you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to her or himself, "Let's pretend."

Linda resides in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one adorable German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite certain she’s a little girl. Favorite quote regarding her professional passion: "History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up."