Saturday, July 13, 2024

Book Tour & Excerpt: The Lady Glass by Anneka Walker






About the Book

 
Theresia Dvorak has nothing left of her parents—nothing save her dowry, a priceless crystal vase stolen and sold by her own stepmother. Theresia will do anything to secure what is rightfully hers—even assume a false identity and steal her future back. When she gains entrance to a house party and has a memorable run-in with the handsome naval captain Rolland Reese, her mission is compromised. She swore never to trust an Englishman again, but when he makes a daring proposal she cannot refuse, she must work side by side with him if either of them is to achieve their aim. Rolland is stunned when his homecoming from the war takes a decidedly deadly turn. The quickest solution is to throw a house party and invite all the suspects. With the stakes incredibly high, Rolland must root out the killer before they turn their sights to the next potential victim: his own father. The mysterious Theresia is undoubtedly the most suspicious of his guests, but against all odds, he finds himself risking everything to protect her. As Rolland unravels a tangle of clues, he faces the greatest threats of all: a heart of fire and a future as fragile as glass. 

Excerpt

 
Rolland scratched his chin. The dark stubble there matched the short, thick hair on his head and was only marginally darker than his deep, brown eyes. “Granger, I am afraid that after a full night of avoiding women, fate has trapped me with one.”

“Seems so, Cap’n.”

Rolland gave her a once-over. “Couldn’t you have climbed through any other window?”

“Yours was the only one open.”

“Of course it was. You can take my bed for a few hours, and Granger and I will sleep in the closet. When the house is quiet, if it ever is with such diverse company, I will have Granger sneak you out.”

Theresia had already been pushed past her limit of scandals for one night by hiding her identity, sneaking into a duke’s house, and being caught in a man’s bedchamber. She wasn’t about to willingly spend the night here. “I am afraid such an idea is beyond my sensibilities.”

Rolland coughed on a laugh. “Forgive me, but our actions do have consequences. And I would much rather turn you in as an intruder than disappoint my mother by letting her think otherwise.”

Theresia crossed her arms. “I do not care what your mother thinks. I cannot stay in this room. If you will not let me leave through the door, I must take my chances through the window.”

Rolland stepped back. “By all means, sacrifice yourself.”

She glared and marched by him. She even leaned the opposite direction to avoid feeling anything toward Rolland that would lessen her ire. Because if she knew anything about herself, it was that the more frustrated she was, the more determined she became. She might have leaned too much to the side, though, especially while wearing Johan’s wife’s dress. Apparently she was not bruised enough from being plowed to the floor mere minutes earlier, because she tripped over herself. She saw the ground coming fast toward her but, miraculously, never felt it—thanks to a man who was both injured and extremely capable.

Rolland caught her arm, and in a rush, she was pulled back into his arms.

She stared up at his grim expression. “Do you see why I cannot stay here?” Her voice came out breathless. “This is the third time in the short duration since we’ve met that you have thrown yourself at me.”

He released her like a hot coal. “Usually when I save someone, they say thank you.”

She ran her hands down her skirt, her heart pounding fiercely once more. “Dare I thank someone for forcing me to remain in a condemning situation? Forgive me. I will just be on my way.” She took a step forward, and her ankle gave out. No hand came forward this time to stabilize her. Thankfully, she caught herself on the bed.

“Miss?” Granger stepped forward when Rolland did not move. It seemed she had effectively put the captain in his place.

“It’s not broken,” she said, putting weight on it once more. No, not broken, but it hurt enough to make balancing on her toes and scaling down a wall far scarier than it already was. She glanced out the window and then over at Rolland. “You will stay in the closet the entire time?”

In the short window she’d known the man, she’d witnessed a myriad of his emotions. This one she would guess to be exasperation. “You have my word.”

“That will have to be good enough.”

“I will go in search of a maid’s uniform,” Granger said. “And a coal bucket. If we are going to sneak you out of ’ere, we had best be thorough.”

She was glad there was someone thinking clearer than she was. It was apparent now that she should have had a backup plan. Why, oh why, had she thrown out all the rules of propriety that had been drilled into her for years? She knew already that she would not sleep at all. How could she even close her eyes knowing that she was in a strange man’s bed? Especially since somewhere in the house could be her prized vase and only hope for the future?


About the Author


 
Anneka R. Walker is a best-selling author of historical and contemporary romance. With humor and an abundance of heart, she crafts uplifting stories you won't soon forget. She is the winner of the Swoony Award, the LDSPMA Praiseworthy Award, and various chapter contests. Her books have received praise from Publishers Weekly, Historical Novel Society, Midwest Book Review, and Readers Favorite. She graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in English and history and hopes to never stop learning. She is a blessed wife, proud mother of five, lover of Jesus, connoisseur of chocolate, and believer in happy endings.

Website | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

 

Friday, July 5, 2024

Takeover Blitz, Review & Giveaway: Toward the Dawn by Mary Connealy

Toward the Dawn JustRead Takeover + Review Blitz

Welcome to the Takeover + Review Blitz for Toward the Dawn by Mary Connealy hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

About the Book

Toward the Dawn Title: Toward the Dawn 
Series: A Western Light #2 
Author: Mary Connealy 
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers 
Release Date: June 18, 2024 
Genre: Christian Historical Western Romance

Despite trials that threaten their path forward, hope dawns for a future filled with love.

Kat Wadsworth and Sebastian Jones never imagined their lives would entwine so closely. Forced to flee on a wagon train from a vengeful uncle and an unknown gunman, they live in a hidden canyon with the family that rescued them. But as the days turn into months, they each have separate reasons for wanting to move back to society, and the best way to the independence they desperately crave might be through a marriage of convenience. 

However, settling into their homestead in Cheyenne, Wyoming, reveals a different reality for Kat. Her new husband becomes consumed by his inventions, leaving her feeling lonely and isolated. And just when they think they've left the danger behind, a mysterious attacker lurks in the shadows, threatening the new life they've built. Together, they must confront the perils from their pasts to forge a future with hope and the prospect of love.

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook | Bookshop

 

My Review

The journey continues with Kat and Sebastian going stir-crazy in the safety of the isolated canyon with their friends, and with the convenience of trains they are able to travel from city to city, getting married, establishing a homestead, building a lab for Sebastian's inventions, and tracking down the mystery of who is after them. We have some sections from the perspective of some of the villains- Ginny's vengeful husband and Kat's greedy uncle, but are kept in suspense to discover who is after Sebastian and his inventions. I enjoyed Kat and Sebastian getting to know each other more and figuring out how to have a good marriage. I wasn't feeling much chemistry between them since they are both pragmatic and tend to state and restate their situation to each other, and there wasn't much depth to their emotions, especially romantically. The plot is definitely driven by the action and tension building from the dangerous villains seeking Kat, Sebastian, and those in the canyon. Another asylum escapee reappears and the third perspective is from those in the canyon trying to rehabilitate her. Quite a bit going on which kept the pace steady and accelerating toward an exciting finish.

 Disclosure statement: A complimentary copy of this book was provided from a tour group, publisher, publicist, or author, including NetGalley, OR was borrowed from the library, including OverDrive, OR borrowed from Kindle Unlimited, OR purchased. A review was not required and all views and opinions expressed are unbiased and my own.

More Books from this Series

Chasing the Horizon


About the Author

Mary Connealy

Mary Connealy writes "romantic comedies with cowboys" and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has sold more than 1.5 million books and is the author of the popular series Wyoming Sunrise and The Lumber Baron's Daughters and many other books. Mary lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero.

Connect with Mary by visiting MaryConnealy.com to follow her on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.


Tour Giveaway

(1) winner will receive a print copy of Toward the Dawn and a $20 Amazon gift card!

Toward the Dawn JustRead Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight July 3, 2024 and lasts through 11:59 PM EST on July 10, 2024. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

Enter Giveaway


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours


Book Tour & Excerpt: An Art Lover’s Guide to Paris and Murder by Dianne Freeman






About the Book

Filled with Victorian-era intrigue for readers of Rhys Bowen, Deanna Raybourn, Tasha Alexander, and Julia Seales, Dianne Freeman’s Agatha Award-winning series takes a delightful jaunt to the City of Light as Frances Wynn, the American-born Countess of Harleigh, encounters a murder scene at the Paris Exposition.

Frances and her husband, George, have two points of interest in Paris. One is an impromptu holiday to visit the Paris Exposition. The other is personal. George’s Aunt Julia has requested her nephew’s help in looking into the suspicious death of renowned artist Paul Ducasse. Though Julia is not entirely forthcoming about her reasons, she is clearly a woman mourning a lost love.

At the exposition, swarming with tourists, tragedy casts a pall on the festivities. A footbridge collapses. Julia is among the casualties. However, she was not just another fateful victim. Julia was stabbed to death amid the chaos. With an official investigation at a standstill, George and Frances realize that to solve the case they must dig into Julia’s life—as well as Paul’s—and question everything and everyone in Julia’s coterie of artists and secrets.

They have no shortage of suspects. There is Paul’s inscrutable widow, Gabrielle. Paul’s art dealer and manager, Lucien. Julia’s friend Martine, a sculptress with a jealous streak. And art jurist, Monsieur Beaufoy. The investigation takes a turn when it’s revealed that George has inherited control of Julia’s estate—and another of her secrets. While George investigates, Frances safeguards their new legacy, and is drawn further into danger by a killer determined to keep the past buried.


Excerpt from An Art Lover’s Guide to Paris and Murder

Monsieur Allard singled me out with his gaze. “Are you an admirer of Ducasse’s work?”

“Based on this painting, I believe I could be,” I replied. “But I haven’t seen enough of it to be sure. And I must admit, I am no connoisseur.”

“I assume you are a patron, Monsieur Allard,” George said, “since you arranged this tribute. Perhaps you can walk us through this display and show us the finer points of his work.”

Alicia Stoke-Whitney had stepped into view beside Allard. “There is no one who could do it better,” she said. “If anyone knows Ducasse’s particular style, it is Lucien.”

Monsieur Allard smiled fondly at her, then turned back to me. “Paul Ducasse was my dearest friend. I managed all his exhibits and sales, freeing him to devote himself to his art.”

He raised an arm to guide us along the long wall of Ducasse paintings. I let George move ahead with Allard and hung a step behind with Alicia. We listened attentively while Allard described technique and pointed out the nature of light, color, and expression. I simply knew I would have hung any of them on my walls with great pleasure. They were all of scenes the artist must have viewed every day and of people he knew—intimate, honest portraits that made me feel as if I knew them, too.

I tore my gaze from one canvas, only to see that I did indeed know the person depicted in the next painting. It was Lady Julia, but not as I’d ever seen her. No more than twenty-three or twenty-four years of age, she stood behind an easel, applying brush to canvas, wearing a paint-stained smock over her dress, with a paintbrush tucked behind one ear. Her dark brown hair fell from a loose chignon and formed frenzied waves around her face. The artist seemed to catch her as she glanced up from her work.

The look in her eyes was unmistakably one of love.

I couldn’t help but stare. Unless someone had been standing behind Ducasse as he painted her, Lady Julia was obviously in love with the man.

“This is quite . . . something,” George said. He did not seem as surprised as me.

Monsieur Allard gave George a narrow look. “This is an example of his earlier work. Not his best piece, by far.” He shifted his regard from George to the painting and crossed his arms, nodding to himself. “It does show his promise, though, I must admit.”

A woman stepped up next to Allard, oozing elegance, as so many Frenchwomen did. Her blond hair was drawn up with a minimum of twisting and fixed with a jet embellishment that matched the trim on the bodice of her gown. A wide waistband, almost like a cummerbund, separated it from the black silk skirt that swept the floor in a demi-train. She was as much a work of art as the paintings in this room.

Allard angled himself to include her in the conversation. “May I present Madame Ducasse?” he asked, then turned to her. “This is Lady Harleigh and her husband, Monsieur Hazelton, from England.”

So, the artist had left a widow. “Please accept our condolences on your loss, madame,” I said. “Such a tragic accident.”

She gave me a wan smile as she turned from the painting to George. “Hazelton? I see the family resemblance. You are related, are you not?”

Monsieur Allard gasped. “Do you mean to say . . . ?” He let the words drift as he, too, looked from the painting to George and back. “I never knew that was Lady Julia,” he said. “I never knew . . .”

My guess was that the man hadn’t meant to repeat himself. If he had finished the second sentence, I suspect he would have said that he never knew Lady Julia was in love with Paul Ducasse.

“It was many years ago,” Madame Ducasse said, and for a moment, I thought she had read my mind. Then I realized she was speaking to Allard’s comment that he hadn’t recognized Julia. “Perhaps she would like to have this one.”

Allard’s harrumph evoked a chuckle from her. “It is not one of his best works,” she said. “You said so yourself.”

“I can see why my aunt might be interested in purchasing the painting,” George said, “but on the off chance she isn’t, I certainly am.”


From An Art Lover’s Guide to Paris and Murder © 2024, Dianne Freeman, published by Kensington Books

 
The Countess of Harleigh Mystery series
 
 


 

About the Author
 
Dianne Freeman is the acclaimed author of the Agatha and Lefty Award winning Countess of Harleigh Mysteries, a two-time finalist for the Macavity’s Sue Feder Memorial Award, and a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award. She spent thirty years working in corporate accounting and finance and now writes full-time. Born and raised in Michigan, she and her husband now split their time between Michigan and Arizona. Visit her at DiFreeman.com