Enjoy Sneak Peeks into My Next Book!

I’m so excited that She’s the One Who Thinks Too Much will be available for kindle on November 13! As part of my celebration, twenty-four different excerpts will be featured on twenty-four different blogs over the next four weeks. That’s right. From August 31 through September 25, you’ll find parts of my new novel on a variety of other peoples‘ blogs. (You’ll also find a lot of other fun books being featured too.)

Yes, there is a giveaway!

In the true spirit of blog tours, I’ll be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N gift certificate to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Go to any of the tour stops listed below to enter to win. Obviously, the more sites you visit and the more ways you enter, the more you increase your chances of winning.

I had great fun creating this alternate world in which seven young women save their homeland, and I hope you will enjoy checking out the various bits of this story.

You can preorder She’s the One Who Thinks Too Much now. The novel will also be available in paperback, and through other retailers, shortly after the kindle release date.

Excerpts can be found at:

August 31: Rogue’s Angels
August 31: Welcome to My World of Dreams
September 1: All the Ups and Downs
September 2: Fabulous and Brunette
September 3: The Avid Reader
September 4: Kit ‘N Kabookle
September 4: Author Deborah A Bailey
September 7: Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books!
September 8: Andi’s Book Reviews
September 9: Two Ends of the Pen
September 10: Our Town Book Reviews
September 11: Joanne Guidoccio
September 14: Danita Minnis
September 14: Readeropolis
September 15: Iron Canuck Reviews & More
September 16: Novels Alive
September 17: T’s stuff
September 18: Stormy Nights Reviewing & Bloggin’
September 18: Dawn’s Reading Nook
September 21: It’s Raining Books
September 22: Locks, Hooks and Books
September 23: Sybrina’s Book Blog
September 24: Gimme The Scoop Reviews
September 25: Viviana MacKade

This tour was put together by Goddess Fish Promotions.

 

The Last Collection

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Jeanne Mackin and her historical romance novel, The Last Collection .

Author’s description

An American woman becomes entangled in the intense rivalry between iconic fashion designers Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli in this captivating novel from the acclaimed author of The Beautiful American.

Paris, 1938. Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli are fighting for recognition as the most successful and influential fashion designer in France, and their rivalry is already legendary. They oppose each other at every turn, in both their politics and their designs: Chanel’s are classic, elegant, and practical; Schiaparelli’s bold, experimental, and surreal.

When Lily Sutter, a recently widowed young American teacher, visits her brother, Charlie, in Paris, he insists on buying her a couture dress—a Chanel. Lily, however, prefers a Schiaparelli. Charlie’s beautiful and socially prominent girlfriend soon begins wearing Schiaparelli’s designs as well, and much of Paris follows in her footsteps.

Schiaparelli offers budding artist Lily a job at her store, and Lily finds herself increasingly involved with Schiaparelli and Chanel’s personal war. Their fierce competition reaches new and dangerous heights as the Nazis and the looming threat of World War II bear down on Paris.

“Sophisticated couture wars and looming world wars take center stage in Mackin’s latest, with a plot that buzzes with love triangles and political intrigue. A gorgeous meditation on art, fashion, and heartbreak. Stunning.” –Fiona Davis, national bestselling author of The Masterpiece

“Exquisitely melding world politics and high fashion, THE LAST COLLECTION is a smart, witty, heartfelt, and riveting look at the infamous rivalry between Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli set against a gripping period in history. Mackin’s powerful novel brings these characters to life and transports the reader, juxtaposing both the gaiety and tension of Paris on the brink of war. As elegant and captivating as the designs depicted in the novel, THE LAST COLLECTION is the perfect read for both historical fiction lovers and fashion aficionados. Simply stunning.” –Chanel Cleeton, USA Today bestselling author of Next Year in Havana

“A wonderful story of two intensely creative women, their vibrant joie de vivre, and backbiting competition played out against the increasingly ominous threat of the Nazi invasion of Paris. Seamless research makes every character leap to life and kept me totally engaged from beginning to end. –Shelley Noble, New York Times bestselling author of Lighthouse Beach

“A vibrant portrait of two designers cut from very different cloth, Jeanne Mackin’s THE LAST COLLECTION pits bold Coco Chanel and colorful Elsa Schiaparelli against each other in a fiery feud even as the ominous clouds of World War II darken the horizon. A captivating read!” –Stephanie Marie Thornton, author of American Princess

“As Hitler and the Nazis gather strength and the world braces for war, Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel, whose politics differ as much as their couture, wage a war of their own. Lily Sutter, the woman who finds herself in the middle of their feud, has a battle of her own as she struggles to make a new start amidst extreme grief and loss. From New York to Paris, Jeanne Mackin takes the reader on an enthralling journey, complete with such vivid descriptions of the clothing, you can practically see them on the page. Beautifully rendered and meticulously researched, THE LAST COLLECTION is a must read.” –Renée Rosen, author of Park Avenue Summer

Fascinating facts about WWII fashion

by Jeanne Mackin

World War II has always fascinated me.  In fact, most wars have, because they bring out the best and the worst in us, and in our cultures. They are pivotal moments where almost everything changes.  But some things don’t change. When I was researching The Last Collection, I quickly realized that women’s desire to look and feel attractive not only does NOT change, but helps us get through some very dark moments. A little vanity goes a long way!

For instance: during power blackouts in Paris, during the war, beauty salons would ask American and British soldiers who were on leave to power the salon generators for the beauty equipment!  There’s a gorgeous photograph from the era of soldiers in the basement pedaling madly away on bicycles attached to generators while women sat under the bicycle-powered hairdryers. The women are reading Vogue; the soldiers are grinning, thinking of possible rewards.

During the occupation of Paris, the Germans made stringent rules about clothing rations, even dictating how long skirts could be and how much material they could contain. Parisian women routinely broke the law and defied the Germans by making dresses with yards and yards of fabric in them, much more than the law allowed.  One reason fashion moved away from short to longer in the forties was because of this defiance.  And the hats they flaunted during the war were outrageous to the point of laughable. In her autobiography, Shocking Life, designer Elsa Schiaparelli describes war fashions as “towering turbans in which one could have hidden three lovers, hats like storks’ nests, and shoulders as wide as the streets.’  All to poke fun at the army that was destroying their country and challenging their values. Fashion as morale booster!

About the Author

Jeanne Mackin ‘s latest novel, The Last Collection, A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel takes the reader to Paris, just before world war II, and the intense, dangerous rivalry between the two queens of fashion. Her previous novels include A Lady of Good Family, the award-winning The Beautiful American, The Sweet By and By, Dreams of Empire, The Queen’s War, and The Frenchwoman.

Her historical fiction explores the lives of strong women who change their worlds…because we know the world always needs a lot of change! She has worked all the traditional ‘writers’ jobs’ from waitressing to hotel maid, anything that would leave her a few hours each morning for writing. Most recently, she taught creative writing at the graduate level.  She has traveled widely, in Europe and the Middle East, and can think of no happier moment than sitting in a Paris café, drinking coffee or a Pernod, and simply watching, while scribbling in a notebook.

Find the author at:
JeanneMackin.com
Facebook.com/JeanneMackinauthor
Twitter.com/JeanneMackin1

Buy the book at:
Penguin Random House – https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/531859/the-last-collection-by-jeanne-mackin/
Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H71Q5FQ

Yes, there is a giveaway

Jeanne Mackin will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

At the ball that night there were people whose faces I recognized, a blur of memory from my first evening in Paris at the Ritz, and many more people whom I didn’t recognize at all, men with military posture, women covered with jewels, men in dresses, women in tuxedos, ingénues in pastel gowns. And Charlie and Ania, beautiful Charlie and Ania, so immersed in each other’s gaze they could have been alone rather than dancing through crowded rooms.

…Coco arrived around eleven, in a diaphanous green gown that looked like fern fronds moving in a breeze when she moved.  It was Coco, blending into nature, but still Coco.

Schiap arrived soon after, dressed, as she had promised, as a tree, covered in a rough brown cloth that looked like tree bark, with branches extending from her arms and the crown of her head. Several cloth and feather birds perched on her shoulders. Whimsical, humorous, always-make-it-look easy Schiap.  Schiap got the louder applause when she made her entrance, and I saw Coco’s smile fade.

Who knew what was going through Coco’s mind that evening? Perhaps she had dreamed the night before of the orphanage, the father who had abandoned her and the mother who had died.

Perhaps she wasn’t thinking at all but only reacting, the way dry wood reacts when a match is put to it.

A Hundred Lies

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Jean M. Grant and her historical fantasy romance novel, A Hundred Lies.

Author’s description

1322, Scotland

Rosalie Threston’s fortune-telling lies have caught up with her. Uprooted yet again, she’s on the run from a ruthless English noblewoman. She flees to Scotland and seeks refuge in the arms of a laird’s son who happens to be a real Seer.

 

A bloody past and inevitable future plague Domhnall Montgomerie. He avoids physical contact with others to ease the painful visions. When an accidental touch reveals only delight, he wonders if Rose is the key to silencing the Sight. Mystical awakening unravels with each kiss. But can Domhnall embrace his gift in time to save her life, even it means exposing her lies?

My Review

In A Hundred Lies, Jean M. Grant has created a likable hero in Rosalie, the fake fortune teller. She has placed her in a fascinating time and place, and done the research to make the setting come alive. Finally, she’s given her a thorny dilemma to vex her, and a threatening nemesis to chase her, so we all can hold our breath, hoping the best for her as we turn the pages. I enjoyed reading Rosalie’s adventures.

I wish I’d found the tortured nobleman who loves her to be as compelling, but I never quite did. He is an honorable man with a real talent for seeing the future, and I’m all for having feisty female leads attracted to someone interesting who isn’t a jerk. But he does spend a lot of time brooding about past mishaps and his relentless remorse gets a bit tiresome. Luckily, most of the rest of the cast, including his own mother and sister, and Rosalie’s aunt and uncle, keep things moving.

I appreciated the author’s ability to articulate this distant world, but she sometimes rambled through it a bit too slowly for my tastes. Some scenes cut in and out of past memories and included local facts in ways that reduced the punch of her narrative. That minor complaint aside, I enjoyed how well everything from knowledge of herbs to catty servant girls gave me the feel of being there.

I recommend this book to those who like their romance novels to have more to them than just a couple getting together, and I also recommend it to those who enjoy historical fantasy and wouldn’t mind a romance story as part of the package. Either way, I think readers will find a lot to like about this tale.

About the Author

Jean’s background is in science and she draws from her interests in history, nature, and her family for inspiration. She writes historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction. She also writes articles for family-oriented travel magazines and websites. When she’s not writing or chasing after children, she enjoys tending to her flower gardens, hiking, and doing just about anything in the outdoors.

Find the Author at:
Website https://www.jeanmgrant.com/
Twitter https://twitter.com/JeanGrant05
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jeanmgrantauthor/
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16582543.Jean_M_Grant
Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jean-m-grant
Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/Jean-M.-Grant/e/B0728KFXP9/
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/jeanmgrant/

Yes, there is a giveaway

Jean M. Grant will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

She drew his hand into her palm. Her pulse drummed in her ears. Breathe, Rose. Breathe. His fingers trembled in her hand but neither of them released the look. She tried to convey trust and understanding with her own gentle smile. When he seemed settled, she turned her gaze to his hand. After a pause, she said, “It is as I said. Air is your element.”

“What else do you see?” He leaned in, closer. Sweat, sage, hmmm…male? Was male a scent?

Feeling his eyes upon hers, she continued to scrutinize, drawing light touches over the mounds. “You’re somewhat content, though you spend hours alone to get away?”

He held a straight face. “Easy enough facts to guess. I’m a watchman. Fortune-tellers are good in their ploy.” She refrained from arguing. He was on the defense. Understandable. Most people were. He was correct after all. She stroked his fingers. Pretended to examine. His hands were ice-cold.

All right, memory. Time to shine. The marketplace fire, something from his youth. Domhnall liked animals. Seemed to not like fire or touch. She chanced the next statement. “Something in your past upsets you.” Again, stone-faced. At least his hand had stopped trembling.

She would throw out statements until one stuck. Had she been incorrect in her eavesdropping? Surely the servants had been gossiping about Domhnall.

He chewed his lip. Held her gaze.

She paused and pushed the candle closer. “To see better.”

He flinched.

Yes. Fire. It bothered him.

The Secret Spice Café Trilogy

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Patricia V. Davis and her magical realism/women’s paranormal fiction trilogy, The Secret Spice Cafe.

Author’s description

Book One: Cooking For Ghosts

Do hearts broken long ago forever leave a tangible trace?

A Vegas cocktail waitress. An Indian herbalist. A British chemistry professor. An Italian-American widow. Four unique women with one thing in common: each is haunted by a tragedy from her past.

Cynthia, Rohini, Jane, and Angela meet on a food blogging site and bond over recipes. They decide on impulse to open The Secret Spice, an elegant café on the magnificent ocean liner, the RMS Queen Mary, currently a floating hotel in Long Beach, California. Rich in history and tales of supernatural occurrences, the ship hides her own dark secrets.

The women are surrounded by ghosts long before they step aboard, but once they do, nothing is quite what it seems. Not the people they meet, not their brooding chef’s mystic recipes, and not the Queen Mary herself. Yet the spirits they encounter help them discover that there’s always a chance to live, as long as one is alive.

An Official Pulpwood Queens Book Club Selection, and read by Ann Marie Gideon, COOKING FOR GHOSTS is an unforgettable tale of love, redemption, and divine female power.

Book Two: Spells and Oregano

A mother desperate to save her twin sons, a war veteran in torment, a beautiful young psychic with a terrible secret, a powerful magician with a shattered soul, and a Queen steeped in history and glory. These extraordinary beings cross paths and set off a remarkable chain of events in Spells and Oregano: Book II in The Secret Spice Cafe Trilogy.

Overcome by despair after a trauma when she was sixteen, Sarita Taylor has spent the past ten years isolated and lonely aboard her beloved RMS Queen Mary. Fearful of outsiders, she dedicates her time to managing The Secret Spice Café, now an award-winning restaurant. Until Luca Miceli, a man with a dark past, steps on board.

Patricia V. Davis deftly spins past and present, mystery and magic, into a potent story of passionate longing and family tragedy all at once. Spells and Oregano is a compelling tale of atonement, devotion, and undying love, set aboard one of the world’s most magnificent, haunted ships.

The Secret Spice Trilogy is an Official Pulpwood Queens Book Club Selection.

Book Three: Demons, Well Seasoned

Dare to Believe in Your Power…

A long-lost grandmother. A stay-at-home mom. A comic book fan. A five-year-old girl with a star-shaped birthmark. And nine more.

The cast is bigger, the stakes are higher. When Sarita’s grandmother, a Vodou priestess, foresees a terrible evil, Cynthia, Jane, Angela, and Rohini reunite on a heart-rending mission to save all that’s precious to them, including the iconic ship, the RMS Queen Mary. They cannot do it alone–the priestess tells them there must be thirteen on the night of the thirteenth moon. in this life-or-death pursuit. Yet, can she be trusted?

Spiced with history and the supernatural, Demons, Well-Seasoned takes us from 1930s Glasgow, to New Orleans and Harlem in the 1950s, to present-day southern California, and back again, on a metaphysical voyage that is both exhilarating and poignant. But before you embark upon this final sail with the denizens of The Secret Spice, be warned: expect to lose sleep, and keep tissues at hand. These valiant characters might just stay with you long after their story comes to a close.

Characters, Characters, Characters

Patricia V. Davis has woven a complex tale, spanning generations. I asked her what techniques she used to make sure her readers didn’t get lost in her large cast of characters. Here is her fascinating response.

To keep a reader turning pages in novels such as these, they have to be invested in the characters as much as they are in the story. With a large cast of characters, it’s always a challenge to make their voices distinguishable from one another.  In the case of Angela, Cynthia, Jane, Rohini, Sarita, and Cristiano, who are the main players in an even larger cast of characters, I had to consider the region of the world from which they each came, their ages, their sex, and even their life experiences.

How does that translate to the page? It’s simple enough to give a character description, a synopsis of all of the above for each. Simple, but boring.  I could have written, “Angela was a forty-five-year-old Italian-American from the east coast of the USA,” or I could show that by her actions, her thoughts and perceptions, her manner of speaking.  Each character was given “tells”—phrases they use routinely, motions they make, habits they have.

A reader could go through each novel with a highlighter if they wished, and find these things. Sharp eyes would notice that Rohini rarely, if ever, uses contractions when she speaks, for the reason that her English is careful and precise, as it’s her second language, and she learned how to speak it in her native India.  Cristiano, from Spain, will often sound more like he comes from Mexico. He explains that in the storyline. Sarita nibbles on her thumbnail when she gets nervous, Cynthia moves her hands way more than most, Jane sometimes uses expressions from her native northern England, such as “you lot” to mean, “you people,”  that a number of American readers unfamiliar with the lingo might think is a typo.

I got lucky—so lucky—on the audiobook narrator, Ann Marie Gideon. She loved the idea of all the accents, regions and ages so much, that she spent a lot of time with me, asking questions about each character. And she really nailed them. Her audiobook narration is the best I’ve heard.

Bottom line, writers worth their title research meticulously each character’s background, socio-economic level, life experiences, and take all of that into consideration when writing dialogue, and action.  I’m lucky to have met many people from many different parts of the world. That made it easier for me. I enjoyed writing them, as much as I enjoy hearing a reader say how ‘real’ the characters seemed to them.

They are real, as real as my imagination and pen could make them.

About the Author

Patricia V. Davis’s debut novel series, The Secret Spice Cafe, is comprised of three books: Cooking for Ghosts (2016), Spells and Oregano (2017) and Demons, Well-Seasoned (2019.) The audio books will be released in 2020 by Tantor Media, and narrated by Ann Marie Gideon.

Patricia lives with her husband, who is both a poker player and a rice farmer, so she divides her time between southern Nevada and northern California.

Find Patricia V. Davis at:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorpatriciavdavis/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/patriciaVdavis
TikTok: @patriciavdavis
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patricia_V._Davis

Read my review of her first book, Cooking for Ghosts!

Yes, there is a giveaway

Patricia V. Davis will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

from Demons, Well Seasoned

The rain was beastly. It blackened the sky. Like a serpent, it sprang from the pavements, coiled around potholes, and slithered along the road’s perimeters. But when it hit the car windows, it fell like tears, the tears of the inconsolable, the tears the Queen hid in her heart.

They were almost there. The most arduous part of the journey, the five-hour train ride from Ballater, was over. They were only six miles from Clydebank, thereabouts, and that was a mercy. She was exhausted already, and apprehensive about speaking in public for the first time. Not to a small gathering, moreover. She’d been told to expect an audience of two hundred thousand at least. That number had her clenching her gloved hand in her lap. Nerves and worry crawled and bumped around inside her in the same way the black Daimler limousine crawled and bumped over the drenched cobblestones and grooved steel tram tracks of Glasgow Road.

Her role was to maintain an air of serenity and confidence, so she kept her jitters to herself. It would be unthinkable to her to voice them aloud, which was just as well, as no one else shared her mood. Certainly not today. Despite the wet gloom saturating the shoes and clothing of the endless thread of men, women, and children who stood four and five deep on both sides of the streets, their expressions were jubilant as they waved to the Royal motorcade going by. And George, sitting beside her, waved back proudly. As he should do. As he deserved to do.

He’d saved them all.

All the World’s Colors

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author James W. George and his history-inspired fantasy series,  All the World’s Colors.

Author’s description

Book one of a brand-new, epic fantasy series by master historical storyteller, James W. George.

Something inconceivable has happened, and all the world’s colors are about to bleed…

Kellia. Kellia the Red. Pagan, seafaring warriors of ancient renown. They have sailed west, ever west, and have discovered an awe-inspiring, unknown land. Is it their salvation, or the seed of their destruction?

Merova and the Throne of Blue. Wealthy, cultured, and the ultimate matriarchy. Kellia’s ancient nemesis, and a realm of secrets, intrigue, and treachery.

The Holy Domain of Sanctia. Piety, sacrifice, and faith. They have a spiritual duty to spread the truth across the seas, and they will sail under the sacred banner of green.

The Confederation of Orange. Cynical, profiteering financiers and lovers of pleasure. If there is a new discovery in this world, they will be poised to exploit it.

Fans of historical fiction and fantasy will delight in this epic saga of empire, conflict, and power.

My Review

In All the World’s Colors: The Queen of the Blue James W. George has created a fascinating and complex world sure to delight those who love his style of fantasy. I appreciated his deftness with words and his ability to evoke an emotional response with his characters. Descriptions are succinct yet effective, and the plot scampers along at a good pace.

I enjoy novels with multiple points of view and commend this author for effectively interweaving at least five distinct stories while introducing two would-be heroes to the reader. There is no question James W. George is good at his craft.

Alas, he doesn’t happen to write the sort of fantasy I prefer. For all that I love reading about make-believe worlds and alternate histories, I tire of violence and I lose interest when too many characters treat too many people too horribly too often.

Most of this first book alternates between the toxic masculinity of a perpetually warring race (think Klingons with sex slaves) and the alternative of a matriarchy of disdainful women who abuse their men physically and emotionally. My interest was finally piqued when he introduced the green religious zealots and the orange greedy merchants, as neither of them appeared to regularly beat up their own people. Sadly, it was too far into the novel for either to play much of a role.

I did enjoy the interesting twist he has put into the story of the blue matriarchs, but this is clearly only the first book of the series and nothing is resolved. One would have to read on to find out where his interesting idea leads.

I recommend The Queen of the Blue to all those who like their fantasy darker and more violent than I do. I’m sure that’s a sizable group, and if you fall into this camp, I encourage you to check out this well-written series.

About the Author

James W. George is a lover of history and historical fiction. He is a graduate of Boston University, a military veteran, and he is currently residing in Virginia with his wife and children.

He published his critically-acclaimed debut novel, “My Father’s Kingdom”, in January 2017. The novel depicted the prelude to King Philip’s War in 1671 New England. The Indie View said: “Five stars…This is high historical drama handled wonderfully…a tale that will fully engage you on every level.”

“My Father’s Kingdom” is a planned trilogy, and book two, “The Prophet and the Witch”, was published in September 2017. This is an epic novel that spans the entire conflict of King Philip’s War, and includes such notable historical figures as Josiah Winslow, Increase Mather, Metacomet, Benjamin Church, and Mary Rowlandson. The Literary Titan awarded it five stars and a gold medal for October 2017. “Expertly written and instantly engaging from the first few pages…I was captivated…one of the more intellectual of reads.”

In 2020, he turned his attention to history-inspired fantasy and composed book one of an epic new series, “All the World’s Colors.”

He is looking forward to future books in these two series, and will enthusiastically reply to any questions, comments, insights, or witticisms posted to his Goodreads page.

Find James W. George on his Goodreads author page. 

Buy All the World’s Colors on Amazon.

 Yes, there is a giveaway

James W. George will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Amira Medelli sighed despondently and pondered her tepid cup of tea.

She was whiling away an uneventful evening in one of, if not the finest coffee houses in Veldor.  The establishment buzzed with frenetic activity as merchants, traders and profiteers debated, denied, evaluated, confirmed, or ridiculed every tidbit of information that had fortuitously come their way on that seasonable day.  Meanwhile, Amira stared blankly at her regrettable choice, an unimaginative blend of mediocre spices pointlessly imported from the Southern Continent.  Feeling adventuresome, she had foolishly forsaken her usual Merovian Citrus Zest for this new offering, and she now pushed the cup away with a slight grimace.

Amira could certainly afford to replace her erroneous libation.  In fact, the Medelli family could probably afford to buy the coffee house.  Her uncle had at least six hundred sacks of Sanctian Bold Robust sitting in his riverside warehouse while he waited for the market to peak.  Her brother had three freighters offloading spices in Laurette at this very moment.  And Amira had…Amira had a mediocre cup of half-drunken tea.

She gave serious consideration to a lemon cake but remained non-committal.  She was alone but not bored, as she had brought one of her many ledgers to occupy the time.  The lemon cake was an uncertain proposition, since she suspected it might be time to repair to her well-appointed villa for a moonlight swim in the fire-warmed pool.  But she lingered all the same, knowing full well the reason for her dawdling.

Amira Medelli was twenty-six years of age, and undoubtedly, had much to be grateful for.  The Medellis were one of the most prosperous, most elite trading families in the Confederation of Orange.   She was still childless and unmarried, but as a Medelli, she certainly wasn’t lacking in suitors.

Beverly Hills Torture

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author R.W Buxton and his Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance novel, Beverly Hills Torture.

Author’s description

A frantic middle of the night call jolts Gerry from his quiet, but lonely life, back into a world fraught with dangerous creatures of the night. Erin’s frenzied call leads Gerry across the country where he finds himself immersed in the luxuries of Beverly Hills and the seedier side of the Hollywood strip.

Sadness and longing grip him as he finds a blood-spattered room and Erin is nowhere to be found.  Alone in a strange city with nothing to go on can Gerry find and save Erin? Or is this the end of something never meant to be?

 

Her past has caught up with her and he’s her only hope. With a group of trusted friends Gerry takes on the impossible and gives everything to save Erin.

 

Beverly Hills Torture is the second novel in the Erin Kingsly series. Be sure to check out Capital Thirst.

How much backstory should one provide?

Noticing this is the second book in a series, I asked the author about his approach to providing information from the first book. Here is his response.

I read a lot of series. It seems that it’s the most popular format for authors to write these days. Honestly, when I started writing Capital Thirst, the first book, it wasn’t my intention of writing a series myself. But there was more story than I wanted to stuff into a single book so I did it, I started a series.

Backstory is always an issue, whether it’s the second or third book of a series or the first book. The trick is to get it in so the reader knows what’s going on, without boring them to death. I hope I could achieve that. I am reading the second book in a series by another author. I loved the first one, but in the second book the author will take paragraphs in the middle of action to cover the backstory from the first book. I tried not to do this. As a reader of the first book, I find I just skip this stuff and even if I hadn’t read the first book, I don’t need to know the details of what happened just that something did and it has an impact now.

When I wrote Beverly Hills Torture, I knew new readers wouldn’t know what happened in Capital Thirst but there are just key parts they needed to know. So if you read Beverly Hills Torture without reading Capital Thirst I tried to only include the key points that you need to know without retelling what happened in the first book.  This also means a lot of what was in Capital Thirst isn’t revealed. But I hope just enough for the reader to know why things are happening in Beverly Hills Torture.

Most of the backstory I tried to include in dialog or quick thoughts that Erin or Gerry have. There is a bit of explanation in the first chapter, but when you jump in right in the middle there has to be a brief explanation because the new reader knows nothing about the characters.

Writing a series is a progressive thing to undertake. In the first book, all you need to worry about is the backstory of the characters. In the second book, you have to worry about the character backstory and reintroducing it for new readers as well as including key elements of what happened in the first book. The third and fourth books are even more difficult to pick the details because there are a lot more of them and keeping them straight becomes more and more complicated. Not to mention deciding which ones are important and which aren’t.

It’s a balancing act, I hope I have enough, but if I erred, I would prefer to err on the side of not enough. If it’s not there, readers can make their own decisions or assumptions. If they’re curious, they can go back and read the first book. But I would rather do that than spend paragraphs writing about what happened that will bore readers that have read it and may or may not add something for the readers that have.

The facts about how Gerry became a “day walker,” and his relationship with Erin are all there. The rest, if I really felt it was important, is there.

About the Author

I love a good paranormal read, something about the un-dead haunts the fringes of my mind. Mix in romance, love, loss, and you have a great story.

I voraciously read everything, fiction, and non-fiction but always find myself turning back to the darker stories. I’ve always wanted to write and the dream became a reality with Capital Thirst, and the remainder of the Erin Kingsly novels.

I spend most of my days designing and building websites, but my free time is devoted to my wife, family, and cats. Yes three grown children and three cats. Things can be hectic.

For fun you might find me driving winding roads with the top down or out photographing nature.

Find the Author at:
Website: RWBuxton.com
Facebook: R.W. Buxton – Home | Facebook
Twitter  RW Buxton Author (@rwBuxtonAuthor) | Twitter
Other Links:
https://www.bookbub.com/authors/r-w-buxton
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19658320.R_W_Buxton
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48481089-capital-thirst
https://allauthor.com/author/rwbuxton/

Buy Beverly Hills Torture.
https://www.amazon.com/Beverly-Hills-Torture-Kingsly-Novel-ebook/dp/B0886HW69D/
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beverly-hills-torture-rw-buxton/1136398689
https://books.apple.com/us/book/beverly-hills-torture/id1498346169
https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/beverly-hills-torture

 Yes, there is a giveaway.

R.W. Buxton will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

As he stood there staring, he couldn’t accept that Erin was gone. Now he was the sole person who could save her. Turning, he left his thoughts of Erin behind with the house. He started down over the grass, with no specific destination in mind. He just wanted to wander with his thoughts, trying to clear his mind and determine what the next course of action was.

He couldn’t do anything until Vernon arrived. He hoped Vernon would have some insight about what was going on. These were his people.

Whatever was going on was serious. A life and death matter. The way her bedroom appeared told him that much. Whoever took her wasn’t messing around.

Before Gerry could return to his thoughts, he ran out of lawn. A wrought-iron fence lined with towering, thin cypress trees blocked his path. The fence itself was about ten feet high. “So, there is a limit to her property,” he said out loud.

“Helloooo?” A woman’s voice broke through Gerry’s thoughts like an ice pick splitting a block of ice. “Is someone there?”

The Wars Among the Paines

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author John M. Millar and his Historical Fiction/Military Fiction novel, The Wars Among the Paines.

Author’s description

Spanning over 200 years of American military history, “The Wars Among the Paines” (Koehler Books, September 30, 2020), tells the complex story of a family defined by war, accounting in vivid detail its toll in blood, treasure, and emotional turmoil. Nearly 50 years in the making, “The Wars Among the Paines” is the debut novel by Vietnam veteran John M. Millar, who tells a story that illustrates how the consequences of America’s foreign wars escape the boundaries of the front lines, and ripple through generations of families, friends, politics, and the lives of we the people.

About the Author

John M. Millar has no traditional experience in writing a novel. “The Wars Among the Paines” is a result of a fifty-year process since returning from Vietnam in 1969. Millar grew up in Central Pennsylvania; and graduated from Cornell University in 1966. He served in the U.S. Army from 1966-1969; graduated from Officer Candidate School in July 1967; served as a First Lieutenant with the First Infantry Division in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969; and received two Bronze Stars, an Air Medal and a Commendation Medal from the U.S. Army. From the Vietnam government, Millar received the Vietnamese Honor Medal and the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross for joint operations. He graduated from the Darden Graduate Business School, University of Virginia with an MBA in 1972. For the past forty-five years, he has served in senior executive positions in the department store, regional mall REITs and mixed-use town center development industries.

Find the Author at
Website: http://thewarsamongthepaines.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/warsamongthepaines/
https://www.koehlerbooks.com/writer/john-m-millar/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20171543.John_M_Millar

Buy the book at
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Wars-Among-Paines-John-Millar-ebook/dp/B086L4L5D7/
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-wars-among-the-paines-john-m-millar/1136756769

Yes, there is a giveaway

John M. Millar will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

GF

My Favorite Excerpt

INTO THE GREAT UNKNOWN, THE OTHER HEART OF DARKNESS—CAMBODIA

Our mission was to become the northernmost company of the 1st Air Cavalry Division in Cambodia. Our target was NVA supply bases believed to be in NVA Base Area 351 (the Belly). We had limited maps and aerial photography since we had been forbidden to cross the Cambodian border before, except in “hot pursuit.” My company was directed to be the lead company for the combat assault on Cambodia.

However, our battalion commander changed our mission, based on his observations from his chopper, noticing new roads going under the jungle canopy. A Cobra pilot spotted NVA trucks and troops and eliminated them. More trails were leading into the jungle that suggested that NVA supply depots were in that vicinity. We were diverted to FSB Myron to load up on Hueys and be inserted into the jungle, 500 meters north of yesterday’s contact.

I always went on the first Huey in and the last one out of any insertion. When we landed, I put my old platoon on point in single file until we found blood trails and then made first contact with the enemy. Upon contact, we formed an on-line assault formation and moved forward. Then the NVA opened fire. Our on-line assault formation was right at the NVA advance spider holes (shallow fox holes), forcing the NVA to attempt to pull back.

As the NVA was attempting to retreat, our FO (forward observer) directed artillery fire right on top of their retreating men. Our grenades took out their shallow bunkers. During their deployment, my platoon found caches of weapons and ammunition lying directly on the ground. The enemy fought fiercely against my men, firing from all sides simultaneously. Our forward observer was busy coordinating the fire from 105mm howitzers from FSB Myron, and Cobra Attack Helicopters were unleashing their mini cannons and 20mm rockets. I was beginning to recognize that we had uncovered a major enemy arms and food cache that the NVA was not going to surrender without a major fight. Because we had stumbled into it, we were not organized to withstand a major enemy assault. Somehow, I was going to have to get our company back in position to deal with the prospect of a major counterattack.

Cooking for Ghosts

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Patricia V. Davis and her magical realism/women’s paranormal mystery novel, Cooking for Ghosts.

Author’s description:

Do hearts broken long ago forever leave a tangible trace?

A Vegas cocktail waitress. An Indian herbalist. A British chemistry professor. An Italian-American widow. Four unique women with one thing in common: each is haunted by a tragedy from her past.

Cynthia, Rohini, Jane, and Angela meet on a food blogging site and bond over recipes. They decide on impulse to open The Secret Spice, an elegant café on the magnificent ocean liner, the RMS Queen Mary, currently a floating hotel in Long Beach, California. Rich in history and tales of supernatural occurrences, the ship hides her own dark secrets.

The women are surrounded by ghosts long before they step aboard, but once they do, nothing is quite what it seems. Not the people they meet, not their brooding chef’s mystic recipes, and not the Queen Mary herself. Yet the spirits they encounter help them discover that there’s always a chance to live, as long as one is alive.

An Official Pulpwood Queens Book Club Selection, and read by Ann Marie Gideon, Cooking for Ghosts is an unforgettable tale of love, redemption, and divine female power.

My Review

Cooking for Ghosts is based on a great premise and is filled with a terrific cast of characters and just enough ghostly activity to keep you on the edge of your seat. It has plenty of humor, a lot of romance, and a few surprises.

My favorite aspects of this book included the many strong female characters and the wide variety of people who are written with affection and empathy. I appreciated the detailed look into the foodservice industry (where I once worked) and the wonderful descriptions of mouth-watering dishes.

I also thought the author hit exactly the right notes in this mostly-gentle ghost story. The paranormal parts were interesting and occasionally thought-provoking without being either horrifying (or disgusting) or being too cute.

I did struggle with the sheer amount of drama and trauma in every character’s life and, after a while, I found myself yearning to be introduced to someone without major issues. I  also got frustrated a few times when the backstories went on too long. I wanted to get back to the action moving this story forward.

The things I liked about this book far out-weighed those I didn’t, so I’d recommend it to anyone who appreciates complex stories of women’s lives, or novels about cooking fine food, or well-done ghost stories. If you enjoy two out of three, you are going to love this book!

About the Author:

Patricia v. Davis’s debut novel series, the secret spice cafe, is comprised of three books: s Cooking for Ghosts (2016) Spells and Oregano (2017) and Demons, Well-seasoned (2019). The audiobooks will be released in 2020 by Tantor media, and narrated by Ann Marie Gideon.

Patricia lives with her husband, who is both a poker player and a rice farmer, so she divides her time between southern Nevada and northern California.

Say hello to Patricia at her author website: www.TheSecretSpice.com.
You can also find her at
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/authorpatriciavdavis/
Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/patriciaVdavis
TikTok:        @patriciavdavis
Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patricia_V._Davis

Buy The Secret Spice Cafe trilogy on Amazon.

Yes, there is a giveaway.

Patricia v. Davis will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Unconcerned with what her business partners were up to, Rohini was giggling with excitement. Hugging herself, she whirled in circles, then flung her arms up over her head and collapsed back in dizzy elation onto the enormous bed in the glorious stateroom. Everything was glorious. She was here. This was her room. The Secret Spice was, in part, her restaurant.

Hers.

And when she’d first seen the Queen from the back seat of Cynthia’s preposterous little car, she knew she was headed to exactly where she should be. She couldn’t stop smiling, until, abruptly, a lump formed in her throat and her eyes misted with tears.

“I made it, Zahir,” she whispered. “I made it.”

She sobered as she thought of him, of all he’d done for her, and all that she might still need to do on her own.

But that wasn’t for today. Today was for celebration and thankfulness. Getting up from the bed, she opened her case, pulled out all the little plastic sacks of spices and herbs she’d packed, and sighed with relief. Not a one had opened or torn. Even so, she could smell their pungent bouquet right through the protective wrappings. Rauvolfia, Serpentina, Jaiphal, Javitri, Khus Khus, Ashwagandha and more — why did cinnamon always smell the strongest? There were dozens of varieties that she’d stuffed inside shirt sleeves and trouser legs and white cotton gym socks, just like a drug dealer might hide a stash. The TSA had missed them completely. They’d even affixed a sticker to the top of her bag: “Checked by Homeland Security.”

Giggling again at that, Rohini placed all the smaller sacks into a large white bag she’d found in the wardrobe. The bag had a price list for various laundry services printed on it. With that mission accomplished, she took her treasures downstairs to the kitchen.

But she wasn’t two steps in before she stopped stock still and remained right where she was, listening.

“Oh, my,” she murmured to herself. “Oh, my, my, my.”

Now she understood why she’d felt that the ship had summoned her. To anyone else who might peek in, the kitchen appeared silent and empty. But not to Rohini. She could hear the walls sighing.

Gradually, she walked further inside, and the sighs turned to whispers. She stood still, breathing cautiously, waiting, watching. In unison, the stainless steel cooking utensils dangling from the long, narrow cylinders that were screwed to the walls began to sway, soundlessly. The copper pots that hung from the ceiling over the two spanking-new ovens and eight burner stoves began to twirl, gracefully. Every inanimate object in the room that wasn’t bolted down was waltzing eerily, on its own. To Rohini, the dance seemed sad rather than ghoulish.

Walking quietly, listening carefully, she followed the hushed sounds as they moved along the walls, leading her back to the scullery. As she approached, an ancient, enormous, floor-to-ceiling freezer blew out a puff of ice-cold air as its door swung wide open as though it were greeting her, then gently clicked closed again.

Unafraid, Rohini observed it all. Still clinging to the laundry bag filled with her precious sacks of spices, she turned in a full circle, leisurely, so as not to miss any of it. After a while, she set the bag down on one of the gleaming stainless steel work tables. Bending into a full and formal curtsy, she spoke aloud.

“It is my great honor to meet you, Your Majesty.”

The Duplex

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Lucky Stevens and his historical LGBT  novel, The Duplex. 

Author’s description

THE DUPLEX is a thrilling tale, set in 1950s L.A., of four gay friends who hatch a daring scheme to live life on their own terms, during a time of systemic governmental persecution.

Los Angeles, 1956. Shangri-La. Palm trees, swimming pools, movie stars. And if you’re gay—persecution. In a society that demands conformity and lockstep conventionality, gay people find out quickly and the hard way, how difficult, dangerous and downright terrifying it is to be different.

So, when the constant fear of arrests, evictions, job loss and ridicule become too much, four gay friends and lovers pull together to hatch an ingenious scheme designed to allow them to live freely, without harassment.

But their secret plan is not without its flaws. Internal struggles and personality conflicts conspire to make their situation harder and more life-altering than any of them could have predicted, leading to valuable and universal lessons about the high cost of blending in—or not.

My Review

In The Duplex, Lucky Stevens has written a story that both packs a punch and needs to be told.

I liked so many things about this book, including the way Stevens captures the fifties along with all its many ingrained biases. I enjoyed watching the tale evolve through the eyes of four protagonists, often seeing the same incident through different points of view. I appreciated how Stevens demonstrated the way prejudices against any group seep into the beliefs and self-images of those most adversely infected until they begin to doubt themselves. Sometimes it was painful to read, but, as I said, it’s a story worth telling.

In fact, I liked almost everything about this compelling tale. It moved quickly, and the voices rang true. I suppose one could complain that certain aspects of the two gay men, and two lesbian women, were too stereotypical, and they would have a point. I suppose others might struggle with four alternating first-person points of view, although I liked it.

Some might prefer a neater, more happily-ever-after ending for all, but I thought the ending worked fine. Without giving anything away I’ll just say things get messy but happiness is found, much like in real life.

I recommend this book to anyone, but especially those who like historical novels, are fascinated by the 1950s, or are fans of reading about Los Angeles. The novel may appeal to those in the LGBTQ+ community, but I have a special recommendation and this one comes from the heart.

I HIGHLY (caps intended) recommend this novel to those with close friends or family members who are LGBTQ. It’s an eye-opening look at the world they could be living in. I know it made me aware of the need for us all to be vigilant about preserving the basic human rights this group has had to fight so hard for. This novel is important food for thought for a caring community.

About the Author

Lucky Stevens lives, works and plays in exotic North America.  He has written three novels.  He was also a finalist in a nationwide screenplay writing contest.  He was inspired to write The Duplex because he wanted to tackle a subject that grappled with universal themes in a creative and exciting way.

He can be contacted in the following ways:
https://twitter.com/LuckyStevens1
https://www.facebook.com/luckystevens.writer/
luckystevenswriter@gmail.com
https://bublish.com/author/luckystevens

Buy The Duplex at Amazon.  The book will be $0.99 and is
Amazon’s #1 New Release in LGBT Historical Fiction!

 Yes, there is a giveaway.

Lucky Stevens will be awarding $40 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

With the tone of the evening in its proper place, we exited the apartment.

As much as I adore Cliff, I figured I better latch onto Jerry. I don’t know, he just seems a little more like the babe-in-the-woods type. Besides that, it would give me a chance to get to know him. So I stood next to him and slipped my hand around his arm. I gave his bicep a little squeeze. “Ooh, al dente. Just right.” He smiled, and I smiled back. Naturally Cliff and Dot paired up themselves, and us girls held on to each fella’s arm as the men escorted us down the stairs.

As we headed to the car, I was happy to see that my landlady—her name is Mrs. Tambler—was on her patio watering her flowers. She has always been a very nice woman, but she can also be on the nosy side of the street. Because of this fact,

I have had to be careful with Dot, whom Mrs. Tambler has now seen numerous times.

I have told her that Dot is my closest friend, but I am not sure she buys it. For one thing, Dot is quite beautiful and ten years younger than I am. A fact that is a plus for me, but I think a little suspicious looking for Mrs. Tambler. I also only have a one-bedroom apartment, so the idea of Dot spending the night or ever moving in is strictly out.

In any event, with “our men” in tow, I waved to my landlady good and hard in an effort to build up some nice heterosexual brownie points for any possible future mishaps. She looked more than pleased to see Dot and me hanging off the arms of two handsome characters of the masculine variety, shall we say.

The boys, for their part, were just swell. Opening our doors for us, helping us off with our coats, the works. And the fact is, I think we all enjoyed it. It was fun. And nice to be pampered for the night. The boys took care of everything.

It was the perfect mixture too, of chivalry and flirting and teasing which was all made possible by the incontestable fact that no one of the opposite sex was attracted to each other. This is a situation that is very freeing. When there is no chance of romance. No sexual tension. We just played.

 

Kitty’s War

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Barbara Whitaker and her historical romance novel, Kitty’s War.

Author’s description

Seeking adventure, shy Kitty Greenlee joins the Women’s Army Corps. In 1944 England, as secretarial support to the 8th Air Force, she encounters her dream man, a handsome lieutenant who only has eyes for her blonde friend. Uncomfortable around men, Kitty doesn’t think the handsome officer could want someone like her.

Recovering from wounds, Ted Kruger wants to forget about losing his closest friends and have fun before returning to danger as a bomber navigator. When Ted recognizes Kitty as the girl who rescued him two years before, he must choose between dating the sexy blonde or pursuing quiet, serious-minded Kitty even though he knows he’s not nearly good enough for her.

As the war gears up with the D-Day invasion, will Kitty and Ted risk their hearts as well as their lives?

About the Author

Barbara grew up in a small town in Tennessee where the repeated stories of  local and family history became embedded in her psyche. Fascinating tales of wartime, from her parents and her in-laws, instilled an insatiable curiosity about World War II. After retiring from her sensible career in accounting, she began full time pursuit of her lifelong love of  historical romantic fiction. Enjoying every minute of research, Barbara spends hours reading, watching old, black-and-white movies and listening to big band music.

Although Barbara and her husband have been longtime residents of Florida, they both still think of Tennessee as “home.”

Visit Barbara’s website at http://barbarawhitaker.com. Or find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BarbaraWhitakerAuthor.

Buy Links and Other Links:

Buy Kitty’s War on Amazon.
Buy Kitty’s War at Barnes and Noble.
Find Kitty’s War at BookBub.
Find Kitty’s War on Goodreads.
Find Kitty’s War at Kobo.
Find Kitty’s War in audio.
Buy Kitty’s War through Apple.

 Yes, there is a giveaway.

Barbara Whitaker will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

GF

My Favorite Excerpt

Once all the WACs were ashore, they marched to a loading area and climbed aboard waiting trucks. Packed like sardines, they had to pile their overstuffed duffle bags on their feet.

perf5.000x8.000.inddKatherine squirmed to get more comfortable and bit her trembling lip.

Madge leaned close. “You okay, kid?”

She nodded, but it was a lie. She fought the panic, pushed it deep inside.

“We’re here. We’ll be settled soon.” Madge tried to reassure her, and Katherine was grateful.

“I know.” She placed her hands on her midsection. “I’ll feel better when my stomach calms down.” Truth was she didn’t like the in-between. She wanted to get there, wherever there was, and get to work. She closed her eyes, leaned her head back against the canvas cover, and willed herself not to cry. After all, she wasn’t alone. Madge was here with her. She’d made it so far. This was the biggest adventure of her life. She wouldn’t fall apart now.

Madge patted her hand, and Katherine realized she had squeezed it into a tight fist. “Kitty. Relax. We’ll get there, in good time.”

“Are you Kitty?” a girl across from them asked.

Katherine’s eyes flew open. She nodded and forced a smile. Madge had dubbed her Kitty when they’d first met. And Katherine had accepted it because she’d wanted so badly for Madge to be her friend.

“I heard you were on the ship. You’re the one who got all the commendations back in Boston, aren’t you?” The girl stuck her hand across the mound of duffle bags. “I’m Dallas.”

Kitty nodded, unsure whether the girl meant her comment as a compliment or a jibe. She leaned forward and politely shook the girl’s hand. “Nice to meet you.”