As if that wasn’t enough, today is also Valentine’s Day!
Valentine’s Day can be such a fraught holiday. If you don’t have someone, the entire day is a constant and generally unwelcome reminder. If you’re in the early stages, it feels like pressure to get the holiday right. If you’ve been partnered for a long time, there can be even more expectations and disappointments.
Or it might be a breeze for you and yours.
Then there’s the question of what to get your someone for the day. Flowers? Chocolate? Dinner out – which is going to be a real zoo as this year Valentine’s Day is a Friday – and Friday night dinner out is already a zoo.
I always loved to get flowers for Valentine’s Day, but they would be sent to my work. Now that I work from home, that’s a problem instead of an option. Not that I wouldn’t still love flowers, but there’s no place safe from the cats. That’s just a mess waiting to happen. And it would. It so would.
What about you? What would you rather receive for Valentine’s Day? Answer in the rafflecopter for a chance at my usual prize, the winner’s choice of a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a $10 Book from the Book Depository.
Lady Avalon Warwyck never did love her husband. Arrogant, selfish, and cruel, it’s a blessing when she’s widowed and left to raise her son all by herself. Finally, Avalon can live freely and do the work she loves: helping fallen women become businesswomen. She’s lived these past ten years with no desire to remarry―that is, until Mr. Devan Farris comes to town.
Can he convince her to take another chance at happily ever after?
Devan Farris―charming vicar, reputed rake, and the brother of Avalon’s son’s guardian―is reluctantly sent to town to keep tabs on Avalon and her son. Devan wishes he didn’t have to meddle in her affairs; he’s not one to trod on a woman’s independent nature and keen sense of convictions. But she’ll have nothing to do with vicar with a wild reputation―even though he’s never given his heart and body to another. If only he could find a way to show Avalon who he really is on the inside―a good, true soul looking for its other half. But how can prove that he wants to love and care for her. . .until death do they part?
Avalon Warwick’s marriage showed just how much grit was hidden under the glitter of the Regency. Her parents sold her in marriage to a man who absolutely despised her, to the point where he put his mistress in her place and exiled her to his country estate with as little money as he could indecently get away with.
All the while spreading stories around town that painted her as a cold, waspish spendthrift who left him. He ruined her reputation among the ton in every possible way except sexual, as he claimed she was much too cold to want any man in her bed.
But the only time their marriage was consummated left her with his son and heir, so when he died she received enough to maintain them, raise her son, and start an extremely charitable foundation in the village he exiled her to.
So things stand until the story opens, when the young Marquis is rising 10 and his male guardian, her late, unlamented husband’s friend, decrees that the boy should go to Eton as soon as he’s ready. Which in Avalon’s mind will be never.
The man he sends to tutor Thane is his brother Devan, a vicar known for his libertine ways. Devan’s job is to become the parish priest, tutor the boy in anything he might be lacking, and discover just exactly where Avalon is getting the money to set up and maintain that charitable foundation.
He’s happy to do the tutoring, but refuses the spying. Not that Avalon isn’t perfectly aware of why he’s been sent. She just thinks she can make him a better offer financially, to either turn him to her side or drive him away.
But her son wants to go to Eton. And he wants a father. He’s willing to manipulate events to keep Devan around as both tutor and father so he can go to Eton and not leave his mother lonely.
Devan discovers that he is surprisingly onboard with that plan. At least until fate steps in and makes a hash of everything, including the tenuous but surprising romance between Devan and Avalon.
Escape Rating B: This was definitely a mixed-feelings read for me, and it’s going to be a mixed feelings review.
This was a very hard book to read after the two previous books this week. Why? Because both of those featured heroines with a LOT of agency in situations where they could, or were forced to, exercise that agency at every turn.
Avalon, on the other hand, is in a situation where she needs agency and wants it badly but is forced at pretty much every turn to confront how little she has truly managed to claw out of the hands of the men who are legally able to control her life.
Not that she hasn’t done a damn good job carving out a fiefdom as best as she can, and not that she is not administering said fiefdom extremely well when the story begins, but the tension that underpins the eventual romance is the fact that Devan’s brother can take Avalon’s son away from her whenever he wants, and that Devan was sent by his brother to provide a pretext for that taking.
He doesn’t actually need such a pretext, but he’s trying to be a “gentleman” about it. GRRRR.
So the situation in this story gave me a screaming fit. At the same time, I finished the book at 2 in the morning because I wanted to see how the author resolved the romantic dilemma. Which means that the book is plenty well written, just that I’m not the audience for it.
But for readers who can get past or ignore the harsh realities that underlie Avalon’s situation, there’s a lovely romance between a woman who has done her very best to stand firmly on her own two feet and help as many other women as possible to rise with her and a man who appears to be one thing and is actually something entirely different.
Both Avalon and Devan do a very successful job of putting up a strong front – one that hides their equally soft and gooey centers. They are, after all, made for each other. Watching them figure that out was definitely the fun part of the story.
~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~
I’m giving away a copy of Wild, Wild Rake to one lucky US commenter on this tour!
Not all cats actually “meow” – or even make a sound remotely equivalent. Our current clowder certainly doesn’t.
Both Freddie and Hecate “cry”. It’s kind of a whine that seems to either mean, “Where are you, my human?” or “Where am I, I’m lost and can’t find you.” Mind you, they are lost and can’t find us while we’re all in the same house. Lucifer, on the other hand, is a silent little demon. He doesn’t make much noise at all, and he certainly doesn’t meow or cry or whine. He still has plenty of ways of letting us know that we’ve been “stupid humans” and that he wants something right now.
Speaking of cats wanting things right now, My very first cat meowed. He also screamed, quite loudly. And he could say “now”, except he usually said it as “NOW!” at high volume. His name was Licorice, he was the cat of my heart, and thinking of him still makes me tear up. It’s been 25 years since he went to the Rainbow Bridge, and I still miss him.
Not that Lucifer doesn’t do his best to console me as often as felinely possible. He’s the first cat since Licorice where I’m his person. There have been plenty of others in our life, and I’ve loved them all, but for the most part they have loved Galen best and that’s okay.
On a cheerier note, here’s something definitely feline related that once you’ve seen it you can’t unsee. Also it’s true. The word “homeowner” has MEOW in the middle. Home for us is where the cats are.
But to celebrate ALL the pets in your lives, fill out the rafflecopter for a chance at your choice of $10 Amazon Gift Card or a book up to $10 from the Book Depository. And it doesn’t even have to be about cats!
From celebrated New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice comes a riveting story of a seaside community shaken by a violent crime and a tragic loss.
Years ago, Beth Lathrop and her sister Kate suffered what they thought would be the worst tragedy of their lives the night both the famous painting Moonlight and their mother were taken. The detective assigned to the case, Conor Reid, swore to protect the sisters from then on.
Beth moved on, throwing herself fully into the art world, running the family gallery, and raising a beautiful daughter with her husband Pete. Kate, instead, retreated into herself and took to the skies as a pilot, always on the run. When Beth is found strangled in her home, and Moonlight goes missing again, Detective Reid can’t help but feel a sense of déjà vu.
Reid immediately suspects Beth’s husband, whose affair is a poorly kept secret. He has an airtight alibi—but he also has a motive, and the evidence seems to point to him. Kate and Reid, along with the sisters’ closest childhood friends, struggle to make sense of Beth’s death, but they only find more questions: Who else would have wanted Beth dead? What’s the significance of Moonlight?
Twenty years ago, Reid vowed to protect Beth and Kate—and he’s failed. Now solving the case is turning into an obsession . . .
This is a story about lightning striking twice – and for the same reasons. It’s also a page-turner of a mystery combined with a story of friendship and sisterhood.
The story opens on Beth Lathrop’s last day. Or at least the last day when anyone who loved her woke up and believed that she was alive. But she isn’t.
Instead, Beth’s corpse is found in her bedroom, several days dead, by her sister and the local police. Those events would normally be the place where everyone’s nightmare begins, but it isn’t.
The nightmare began years ago, when thieves broke into their family’s art gallery and left Beth, her sister Kate, and their mother bound and gagged in the basement while they robbed the place. The girls spent 22 hours in that basement, tied to the body of their mother who choked to death on her gag.
Beth turned outward, her sister Kate turned inward, and the cop who rescued them still keeps tabs on them in the hopes of protecting them again.
But their first ordeal happened because their father betrayed them. It was his plan and his idea, and he’ll be paying the price for it for the rest of his life in prison.
Now tragedy has struck again. Beth is dead, Kate and the rest of her family and friends are lost in grief. But just as before, their peace has been shattered because someone in their inner circle betrayed Beth and betrayed them all.
The question is whether that same cop can figure out just who hides the evil behind a mask of grief.
Escape Rating B: Last Day was a compelling read. I think my feelings can be summed up by saying that it was good, and it was just on the edge of great – but didn’t quite get there, at least not for me. A couple of things made it fall just short of the mark.
The biggest thing that threw me off was that there are a few very brief chapters from Beth’s point of view, including the opening and closing chapters. She’s dead. Those chapters are weird, and they took me out of the story every time.
Beth’s contributions aside, the story itself is a page-turner. We see most of the action by following Kate, Beth’s older sister, and Conor Reid, the cop who found them all those years ago. Conor is now on the Major Case Team of the Connecticut Bureau of Investigation, and as soon as he learns of Beth’s death, he assigns himself to the case even though he knows he shouldn’t.
He also shouldn’t jump to conclusions, but he knows all of the principals of this case much better than any investigator should. And he wants the husband to be guilty of Beth’s murder.
Not that Pete Lathrop isn’t guilty of plenty of things, but murder may not be one of them. And Conor’s desire to punish Pete for all of the crap he put Beth through in life blinds him to the man’s lack of means, motives and opportunity to cause her death.
At the same time, Kate is left trying to make sense of it all, not just her sister’s death, but all of the secrets that made up her life that Kate knew nothing about. Somewhere among all the things that Beth hid from her sister but revealed to their best friends may lie the reason for her death. Or may just provide Kate with more reasons to grieve.
In the end, the truth is revealed not by dogged investigation, but by a little girl who is unable to let a lie stand, no matter who tries to gaslight her into believing the lie instead of the truth. The case is finally solved, and the perpetrator is revealed. And it is a betrayal, just as the truth of Beth’s and Kate’s mother was long ago.
But this time only Kate is left to pick up the pieces.
This was one where I didn’t figure out whodunnit at all. I wanted it to be the husband, but it felt too obvious so eventually I read the last chapter just to figure it out – and I was still plenty surprised. I think that, as much as I was riveted by the investigation and the unraveling of Beth’s life as well as the truth of her death, I found the ending a bit unsatisfactory. I’m glad that the murderer was uncovered, but I’m not sure I felt the catharsis I expected. The motives didn’t make complete sense.
Like the detective, I really wanted the husband to be guilty after all.
~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~
I’m giving away a copy of Last Day to one lucky US commenter on this tour!
Jess Montgomery showcases her skills as a storyteller in this powerful, big-hearted and exquisitely written follow-up to her acclaimed debut The Widows.
Ohio, 1926: For many years, the underground railroad track in Moonvale Tunnel has been used as a short cut through the Appalachian hills. When an elderly woman is killed walking along the tracks, the brakeman tells tales of seeing a ghostly female figure dressed all in white.
Newly elected Sheriff Lily Ross is called on to the case to dispel the myths, but Lily does not believe that an old woman would wander out of the hills onto the tracks. In a county where everyone knows everyone, how can someone have disappeared, when nobody knew they were missing? As ghost stories and rumors settle into the consciousness of Moonvale Hollow, Lily tries to search for any real clues to the woman’s identity.
With the help of her friend Marvena Whitcomb, Lily follows the woman’s trail to The Hollows—an asylum is northern Antioch County—and they begin to expose secrets long-hidden by time and the mountains.
I want to call this “Southern Gothic” but it isn’t really Southern and only parts of it are gothic. But still, that feeling persists.
While this isn’t truly Southern, it also kind of is. It may be set in Ohio, but it’s in the southeast corner of the state, a place that has always been more a part of Appalachia than it is the Midwest. Far away from the big cities, which would have been Cincinnati and Cleveland at the time this story is set, locked in their eternal rivalry.
I’m from Cincinnati. There are other cities in the state, but Columbus wasn’t the big city it is today, although Toledo was probably bigger than it is now. And Cincinnati was more important than it is today. Times change. But that rivalry between Cincy and Cleveland will go on forever.
The Gothic looms over this story in the form of The Hollows Asylum in not too distant Athens. The place from which the elderly, female inmate/patient walks away at the beginning of this story, only to meet her death by falling into a remote railway tunnel ahead of an oncoming train.
It’s that death, whether by misadventure or murder, that drags Sheriff Lily Ross out into the night to see the body and begin her investigation into the true cause of the poor woman’s death – whoever she might be.
But Jane Does, even poor, wandering, confused and possibly senile Jane Does, deserve justice. No matter how many people want Sheriff Ross to let the unnamed dead rest in peace. Or perhaps especially because so many people don’t seem to want the woman’s death to be properly investigated.
And there are plenty of people who don’t believe that Sheriff Ross is the proper person to do the investigation – no matter what it might or might not uncover. Being sheriff is certainly not a suitable job for a woman – even if she “inherited” the job from her late husband.
But Lily can’t afford to listen to the naysayers. If she’s not willing to do her best for the least of her constituents then she has no business running for the job in her own right. And she is running for the job. It might not be anything she expected to be doing, but then she never expected to be a widow in her late 20s with an aging mother and two young children to take care of, either.
She does the best she can, no matter where, or how far it takes her. Even back into the long past. Or into the cells of the asylum – as an inmate.
Escape Rating A-: This wasn’t at all what I was expecting – and I mean that in the best way possible. I think I was expecting more of a historical mystery, with the emphasis on the mystery. Not that there isn’t a mystery in this story because there certainly is.
However, the book I actually got has a lot more depth than the typical historical mystery. This is more like historical fiction that has a mystery in it. There’s plenty of meaty history here, and unveiling the secrets of the past is really the heart of the story – not that plenty of dirty-deeds aren’t being done in its present.
While the individual characters in this story are fictional, there’s also a lot of excellent grounding in real history, beginning with the character of Sheriff Lily Ross. There really was a female sheriff in southeastern Ohio during this time period. Just as the main character of Girl Waits with Gun was also based on a surprising real-life example.
The deeper history that Lily uncovers, the secrets of the past and present in which this case is grounded, are also real, giving the events a resonance that they wouldn’t otherwise have. And I don’t just mean the dark roots of the case in the Underground Railroad, but also the surprising dark present of the WKKK, the Women’s Ku Klux Klan. That’s a bit of history I didn’t know and was perversely fascinated and totally disgusted by at the same time. It makes sense that it existed – unfortunately – but the popular image of the KKK is always men in white masks and robes. That their wives had a “ladies auxiliary” as so many organizations did, feels both right and chilling at the same time.
But this is also a work of fiction, and it’s a story that is wrapped around its strong female characters. Not just Lily Ross herself, but also her friends Hildy and Marvena as they each find their way after the tragic events of the previous book in this series, The Widows. While there was enough backstory provided that I was able to understand where each of these women was coming from without having read that story, I’m sure that there is plenty of nuance that I’m missing out on. So you can read The Hollows as a standalone but I’m about half-sorry that I did.
While this is Lily’s story, Marvena and Hildy each have their own character arcs and points of view in The Hollows, and they all follow different trajectories, as their lives have after those previous events. Lily has become Sheriff, and is currently in the midst of an election campaign to maintain her job. She’s still grieving for her late husband, still hurting on many levels, but has a job to do and two young children to raise. She’s also caught on the horns of a dilemma that women still face today when doing a so-called man’s job. She has to be hyper-competent while not crossing a line into imitating a man while fending off all of the many, many people who believe she can’t do her job or she shouldn’t do her job or she shouldn’t even want to do her job.
Marvena is a union organizer fighting her own battles both against the coal mine owners and the members of the union who are against integration and are raising the banner of the KKK. That part of her struggle feeds into the mystery in both the past and the present.
Then there’s Hildy, who I must admit drove me bonkers. Everyone thinks she needs protecting, that she really wants a woman’s traditional life and role. And that she should marry the local grocer because he’s her best chance. Hildy, on the other hand, is struggling against the way that everyone else sees her and the way that everyone else believes they know what’s best for her, including the lover that she can neither give up nor acknowledge. Her vacillating between the life she believes she desires and the person who makes her happy were a bit hard to take over the course of the entire story. But, and in the end it’s a very big but, she finally puts her courage to the sticking point and does what’s best for her, no matter how difficult the journey will ultimately be.
In conclusion, The Hollows was a story that took me up and swept me away. It intrigued me with its creepy mystery and gritty and all too real history. And it got me seriously invested in the lives of its strong female characters and the dilemmas they faced that were both very different and all too familiar.
And last but not least, I want to say that the atmosphere of the story reminds me quite a bit of Sharyn McCrumb’s Ballad series. And that’s excellent company to be in!
~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~
I’m giving away a copy of The Hollows to one very lucky US winner on this tour!
It is my very, make that my extremely great pleasure to welcome Rhys Ford back to Reading Reality! Today is the Grand Opening for the tour for her latest book, the coming-real-soon-now first book in the McGinnis Investigations series, Back in Black. I’m thrilled to have her here today and so very pleased that Cole McGinnis, his partner (now husband) Kim Jae-Min, and their feline overlord Neko are coming back for more hair-raising adventures that I practically begged to be on the tour. My review of Back in Black will be posted next week, but in the meantime, here’s Rhys with the first part of a teaser short story, a few things to say, and a giveaway!
Take it away, Rhys!
Hello! And thank you for joining the Back in Black Blog Tour! My name is Rhys Ford and I will be your guide through this serialized short story featuring Cole McGinnis and his trip to the altar. Hit each blog stop for the next bit of the story AND as a special bonus, Greg Tremblay has narrated each “slice of cake” on this wedding tour!
As some of you know, Cole McGinnis is a former LAPD detective who found love again in a romance suspense series called the Cole McGinnis Mysteries or as I call it, the Dirty Series. It is there he meets and falls in love with Kim Jae-Min, a Korean photographer with a few secrets of his own and a tiny black cat with an attitude. I left Cole and Jae in quite a happy place five years ago in Los Angeles with a promise to come back and “reboot” Cole’s life in a mystery series.
(You can find the first series here at Dreamspinner Press, including a special free bonus collection of shorts in both ebook and audiobook format)
If you’ve already met Cole, well then I am happy to announce he’s back and well, while things are a little bit different… and he’s a hair older… his life is still as insanely jam-packed with action and more than a few mysteries to figure out. All of the old gang is back along with a few new faces and I hope you all enjoy Back in Black as much as I enjoyed writing it.
And as if Cole wasn’t fun enough to write, Greg Tremblay is back as Cole McGinnis in the upcoming audiobook which is supposed to be out on Feb 13th! If you aren’t a part of my Facebook group or follow me on social media, please be sure to find me to learn about any future stuff. Because 2020 is going to be a hell of a lot of fun.
~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~
As always, there is a giveaway! Please Please fill out the rafflecopter to enter to win a $25 Gift Certificate to the online store of your choice!
“I swear to God, Dawson,” I shouted over the gunfire. “If you get me killed before my own damned wedding, I’m going to come back and haunt you every time you have sex!”
“Since I’m married to your damned brother, pretty sure if I get you killed, I won’t be having sex ever again, asshole!” My best friend yelled back, grabbing at the back of my head to shove me down. “Stay down. They’re coming back around!”
When he wasn’t having sex with Ichi, my younger brother, or beating me up at JoJo’s Boxing Gym, Bobby spent most of his free time lifting weights or coaching young rugby players on how to bulk up and increase their stamina. He practiced what he preached and for someone nearly twenty years older than me, there was power in those muscular arms of his. Okay, even if he were my age or younger, his strength was plenty impressive and that shove to the back of my head? Brought my nose right down into the rough cracked asphalt.
I was never one to worry about my looks but something told me if I showed up at the altar with road rash all over my face, Jae was going to make me wish I had been shot in the middle of Chinatown.
The side of the minivan we’d chosen to take cover behind was taking hard hits, the metal punched through with round after round of whatever it was the two men across the street were shooting. Around us, the sidewalks were nearly empty, having moments ago been sparsely populated by early morning shoppers looking for a bargain among the stalls set up in a side alley.
Our one almost perfect escape route had been cut off by an old woman who’d taken one look out of her store, spotted what was going on and hastily rolled down the steel door, sealing herself in. Or possibly giving herself enough time to skip out of the back entrance and down the alleyway to get a cup of coffee. Either way, Bobby and I weren’t going to be able to cut through her shop and get out of the line of fire.
“Do you even know these guys?” I yelled into the road I lay face down on. The street sweepers hadn’t been by in years. Either that or someone nearby was still stocking orange Sno-bals and blue-papered cigarettes because that’s what was keeping me company against the curb.
“Might have arrested them a few times,” Bobby confessed. “Or maybe double crossed them when I worked undercover. Does it really fucking matter now, Princess?”
Sure, my stint with the LAPD lasted long enough for me to gain a few enemies but Bobby seemed to have gone out of his way to piss people off when he wore a badge. Okay, so he pissed people off long after he retired too but chances are, the two guys in hoodies and floppy pants weren’t ticked off because he sniped their boyfriends at a club. And while those days were long over following his marriage — or at least they should be over — there wasn’t any guy worth killing over.
Okay, maybe Jae but if I didn’t get out of Chinatown in the next hour or so, the angry guys with guns would be the least of my worries.
If you want the rest of the story – and you know you do – follow the TOUR!
Back in Black
There are eight million stories in the City of Angels but only one man can stumble upon the body of a former client while being chased by a pair of Dobermans and a deranged psycho dressed as a sheep.
That man is Cole McGinnis.
Since his last life-threatening case years ago, McGinnis has married the love of his life, Jae-Min Kim, consulted for the LAPD, and investigated cases as a private detective for hire. Yet nothing could have prepared him for the shocking discovery of a dead, grandmotherly woman at his feet and the cascade of murders that follows, even if he should have been used to it by now.
Now he’s back in the dark world of murder and intrigue where every bullet appears to have his name on it and every answer he digs up seems to only create more questions. Hired by the dead woman’s husband, McGinnis has to figure out who is behind the crime spree. As if the twisted case of a murdered grandmother isn’t complicated enough, Death is knocking on his door, and each time it opens, Death is wearing a new face, leaving McGinnis to wonder who he can actually trust.
Purchase Back in Black at Dreamspinner, Amazon (Globally) and other online book stores:
Rhys Ford is an award-winning author with several long-running LGBT+ mystery, thriller, paranormal, and urban fantasy series and is a two-time LAMBDA finalist with her Murder and Mayhem novels. She is also a 2017 Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Florida Authors and Publishers President’s Book Awards for her novels Ink and Shadows and Hanging the Stars. She is published by Dreamspinner Press and DSP Publications.
She’s also quite skeptical about bios without a dash of something personal and really, who doesn’t mention their cats, dog and cars in a bio? She shares the house with Harley, a grey tuxedo with a flower on her face, Badger, a disgruntled alley cat who isn’t sure living inside is a step up the social ladder as well as a ginger cairn terrorist named Gus. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird and enjoys murdering make-believe people.
This is the perfect day for this hop. At least from a certain shivery perspective. I don’t know about where you live, but here in Atlanta it has been unseasonably warm for the past week. Sometimes wet and gloomy, but into the 60s. Shirtsleeve weather even in the evening.
And it all ends just as this hop opens, and temps are expected to drop like a rock – or maybe a hailstone – over the next week. It’s more than enough to make a person think seriously about global warming – because the summer will probably be brutal.
Nevertheless, the thing I love about living around here is that we have four seasons but winter isn’t terribly wintry – all things considered. Not like some other places I’ve lived in and shivered through.
But winter does have some upsides. It does get cool enough that we get out the “cushy” blankets, which brings the cats back into the bed. A purring snugglebunny is a lovely way to end the day!
What about you, what’s your favorite thing about winter? Answer in the rafflecopter for your chance at the usual Reading Reality prize, your choice of a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a $10 Book from the Book Depository anywhere that the Book Depository ships.
Welcome to the Best of 2019 Giveaway Hop, Hosted by Bookhounds.
Every year has its highs and its lows, its bests and its worsts – and 2019 was no exception. But 2019 is over, and its time to take a look back – at least at the books.
This blog hop is all about those best books list that everyone does at the end of the year. My list was posted as Best of My 2019 on Boxing Day (12/26) 2019. Since I just couldn’t reduce the damn thing to only 10 books, it’s long. It’s really, really long.
And that’s all to the good for you. Because the prize in this particular hop is whichever book from that list you want, either in print or ebook. If you would really rather have a $10 Amazon Gift Card I’ll send the winner one of those instead, but I really want to share my favorite books. So if you say you want a book, it will be the currently available print copy – paperback if there is one, hardcover if there isn’t. Unless you are in the US and want an ebook. I don’t think I can send ebooks outside the US, but the giveaway is open to everyone so print (up to $25) is probably the best option.
Now it’s up to you. I want to share my favorites with you, and my list was long enough that there is plenty to choose from, at least something from most genres. And all good! So tell me which book you would want in the rafflecopter below and cross your fingers!
The term “Roaring 20s” sure conjures up an image, doesn’t it? A carousel of flappers and speakeasies and seemingly endless parties. The “Lost Generation” of Hemingway and Fitzgerald. The generation that came of age during World War I, the war that they thought would end all wars.
The 1920s (and 1930s) were also the “Golden Age of Detective Fiction”, the era of not just Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, but also Margery Allingham, G.K. Chesterton, Ngaio Marsh, Josephine Tey, Georges Simenon, Ellery Queen, Erle Stanley Gardner and even Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammet. With the addition of Arthur Conan Doyle, who was still alive and still adding to the Sherlock Holmes canon during the 1920s, these are the giants on whose shoulders the modern mystery genre still stands.
The 1920s were years of ferment in so many ways. Looking back, it sometimes seems to have been a never-ending party, at least until the resounding crash of the stock market on October 28-29, 1929. When it all came tumbling down. Hopefully we’ll fare better with our own “Roaring 20s” in the 2020s.
What images come to your mind when you hear the phrase “Roaring 20s”? Answer in the rafflecopter for your chance at either a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a book, up to $10 in value, from the Book Depository.
In the second novel in Joanna Shupe's the Uptown Girl series, a ruthless casino owner bent on revenge finds his plans upended by a beautiful woman who proves to be more determined than he is—and too irresistible to deny.
Powerful casino owner.Ruthless mastermind.Destroyer of men.
He lives in the shadows...
As the owner of the city's most exclusive casino, Clayton Madden holds the fortunes of prominent families in the palms of his hands every night. There is one particular family he burns to ruin, however, one that has escaped his grasp... until now.
She is society's darling...
Florence Greene is no one's fool. She knows Clayton Madden is using her to ruin her prestigious family... and she's using him right back. She plans to learn all she can from the mysterious casino owner—then open a casino of her own just for women.
With revenge on his mind, Clay agrees to mentor Florence. However, she soon proves more adept—and more alluring—than Clay bargained for. When his plans are threatened, Clay must decide if he is willing to gamble his empire on love.
I picked this up because I loved the author’s Four Hundred series, of which the Uptown Girls are a spinoff. Admittedly I picked this entry in the series up in spite of not being all that fond of the first book, The Rogue of Fifth Avenue. That was a book where I really loved the hero but had serious problems with the heroine. Still, I liked the setting enough to try again.
And I’m glad I did. It helped that this time I liked spending time with both the hero and the heroine – and in spite of this being a sequel that happens mostly in parallel with the first story, I didn’t see much of that heroine – who happens to be this heroine’s sister.
Also, the series title always gives me an earworm for Billy Joel’s song Uptown Girl – and in spite of the near-century separating the song and the series, there is a surprising amount of resonance between the two.
This is a story about two people who have done their best – or worst – to wall themselves off from ever relying on anyone else ever again. It’s both ironic and the heart of the story that they are fighting this same battle from opposite corners because they are reacting to the same man robbing them both of their choices.
Francine’s father, Duncan Greene. Not that Clayton Madden really explains the situation to Francine – at least not until it is nearly too late.
Once upon a time, Duncan Greene bought up all the houses on Delancey Street, giving the families who owned and lived in those houses only a fraction of what they were worth. Clayton and his family ended up in the tenements, his father left, his brother died, and Clayton and his mother did their best to survive.
Now he owns one of the most successful gambling houses in New York City. And he has the money and influence he needs to get his revenge on Greene.
But Francine Greene, Duncan’s middle and seemingly most reckless daughter, has been invading his casino on a regular basis, not knowing Clayton’s past history with or present plans for her father. Francine has come to this high class gambling parlor because she wants to learn how to run one of her very own. And just as Madden’s Bronze House caters only to men, Francine intends that her establishment will cater only to women.
She’s a woman determined to control her own life – and quite possibly more than a bit ahead of her time. She’s definitely gotten under Clayton Madden’s skin.
But she wants a future and Madden is stuck getting recompense for the past. She wants a partner and he’s looking for a distraction. They are not remotely on the same page. Until they figure out that they are.
Not that either of them can admit until it is nearly too late.
Escape Rating B: This is a mixed feelings kind of review. Howsomever, I definitely liked this one way more than The Rogue of Fifth Avenue, because I liked Francine a whole lot more than I did her sister Mamie. I loved Frank, but something about Mamie drove me bananas.
(BTW you definitely do not need to read that first book to get into this second one. The action in the two stories is going on at the same time so one does not really come before the other.)
Francine and Clayton are absolutely combustible together. Their very much resolved sexual tension is off the charts every time they are in the same room. And all of the other kinds of tension between them crackle in every scene.
Part of the fun of this story is the way that Francine sets every single one of Clayton’s assumptions about women of what he believes are “her kind” on their ear and then stomps them down – hard. The whole point of Francine’s desire to open a casino for women is to take control of her own destiny. That includes not marrying, not being dependent on any man including – perhaps especially including – her own father, owning her sexuality and not pretending to be anything like what society expects her to be. At All. Ever.
Clayton is much more of the typical brooding romantic hero who doesn’t believe he’s worthy of the heroine’s love. We’ve met his type before in plenty of romances and not merely historical ones.
But Francine feels like a breath of fresh air in so many ways, because she is so very much herself. Part of what makes her so real is the way that she knows her own mind but always feels like she’s not quite acceptable and has never been enough. People interpret her actions a certain way because she’s a young, beautiful and rich woman. All she wants is to be accepted for herself as she is – without allowing herself to be molded the way that society forces women to be.
At the same time, as her sister Justine reminds her, so much of Francine’s attitude, and particularly her reaction to Clayton’s machinations, are very much “first world” problems.
Clayton’s plan to hurt her father by buying her grandmother’s house – the house that her father grew up in and that both she and her grandmother love – may be emotionally painful but not devastating. Her grandmother owns three other houses! It will hurt to lose the memories that are practically baked into the place but life will very definitely go on at the same level to which they are all accustomed. The family won’t even be damaged financially.
There are too many people in the New York City of the Knickerbocker Era – and today for that matter – who would be thrilled to be in the position her grandmother is in.
Justine’s accurately flung bucket of cold water douses much of the ire that Clayton’s actions arouse and blunts the emotional impact. That he lied to Francine about his plans is definitely a roadblock to their future happiness and he needs to – and does – an appropriate amount of groveling to win her back.
But the tension in the story loses some of its bite with Justine’s sharp reality check. But it IS a reality check that feels like it needs to be delivered.
I’m glad that the next story in the series features Justine. Because I think she’s going to find both love and a way to help a whole lot of people who need it in The Devil of Downtown. Probably with the only semi-willing assistance of that selfsame Devil.
~~~~~~ TOURWIDE GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~
To celebrate the release of THE PRINCE OF BROADWAY by Joanna Shupe, we’re giving away a paperback set of the Four Hundred series by Joanna Shupe to one lucky winner!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback set of the Four Hundred series by Joanna Shupe. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Books. Giveaway ends 1/31/2020 @ 11:59pm EST.