1920s · blog tour · book excerpt · book review · crime · historical fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Safe Game

TheSafeGame copy

Welcome to the book tour for The Safe Game by Wes Verde. Read on for more details!

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The Safe Game

Publication Date: July 22nd, 2022

Genre: Historical Fiction/ Crime Thriller

New Jersey, 1928.

The Cons – Roy, Urbane, and Victoria – made a living by separating fools from their money and rarely stayed in one place for too long. Keeping food in their bellies and a roof over their heads often meant hopping from one game to the next, barely staying ahead of the law or poverty and sometimes both. That was until the day Roy – the Idea Man – thought he found a big score; one that would put the Cons on Easy Street. No more scraping by. No more hungry nights in the cold or picking pockets in desperation. Maybe even enough to get them out of this life for good. But things were never that simple. When a tragic death brings the law snooping around, the Cons find themselves running afoul of cops, gangsters, and other powerful people – ones with secrets. The Cons have gotten out of scrapes before, but their luck may soon run out and this particular game may end in luxury, a jail cell, or an early grave.

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Excerpt

Today she was on fire. Heads started to bob and the group pressed closer, trying to get a better look at the device.

With her work done, Victoria fell quiet. The excitement of the crowd was properly kindled now. A contended grin curled up her full lips. To Urbane’s surprise, her sharp eyes suddenly found his. At first, he thought it might be a fluke. Or perhaps his supposedly concealed location had been somehow compromised. Before he could stress himself over the matter, she winked. Then, all other thoughts fled. Just as his face started to heat up, she returned her attention to Roy. It was his turn to bring it home.

“Now, I’ve been given strict instructions by Treasury Department officials to accept no less than two thousand dollars for this device,” he intoned formally.

This was met with groans of disapproval and one or two boos and justifiably so; one could buy a small house for that amount of money. It was a far higher bid than in previous towns.

Feigning surprise, the Idea Man continued. “You understand, surely, that such a sum would be recovered in a matter of weeks if the prescribed regiment is followed?”

Urbane wondered if that was right. Knowing the scam – game – he had not previously given much thought to its premise. Having lost sight of Victoria for the moment, he quickly did the math in his head and came up with about fifty days. This was with the assumption that the machine was operated every five hours… and that it was not a scam.

As one who dealt in numbers and concrete reality, this world of deception was foreign to him. How people could believe such an outlandish proposition boggled his mind. A naturally curious sort, Urb simply could not fathom the lack of such in others.

Outside, Roy let the groans begin to subside before he extended the olive branch.

“Hang on, now. Hang on. Well… it will mean some hard questions from my superiors. Maybe even some shady bookkeeping on my part. But if that is asking too much, perhaps a discount might be considered. Just for the hard working folks of Lawrence, mind you.” In a quieter voice, he added, “But I must implore you to please keep this just between us. I could go as low as twelve hundred dollars.”

Again, boos. Though, fewer than before. In the end, Roy was obliged to drop the bid twice more before a collection hat started passing around. Urb shook his head, astonished. Roy and Victoria could steer a crowd the same way he could tickle a lock or build a mechanism. For the price of a decent used car, these people had accepted this deal that should have been too good to be true – of course it was. The crowd soon divided into two factions, apparently debating how the forthcoming riches would be allocated.

One man emerged as the representative of the group, holding the collection hat. Urbane’s eyes went wide. It was more cash and coin than they had made in the past three towns put together. If properly budgeted, it could well be enough to carry them into summer. The crowd shifted and he caught sight of Victoria again. She had also glimpsed the considerable sum. Like Urb, she bit her lower lip in anticipation. Seeing the curve of her face and the swell of her hips, he nearly forgot about their windfall and most everything else for that matter.

And he was not the only one to take notice. Would-be suitors were not an uncommon issue. As a professional hazard, Victoria tended to attract male attention like iron filings to a lodestone and today was no exception.

It was a young fella. The excessively confident ones often were and Urbane frowned as this one fixed Madame Charmer in his sights. She inspired many emotions: infatuation, longing, lust. Urb was a thinking man, but after six months of living and working in close proximity, even he could not fully resist her allure. Watching others make the attempt for her affection, even knowing they were doomed to fail was not good for his heart.

Though entirely capable of rebuffing such attempts, it seemed Vic had not yet detected her latest admirer. As the young man drew closer, Urb realized too late that something was off. This fellow had none of the telltale signs of one about to ask for a date.

At the same time, another speaker fired a bombshell question directly at Roy.

“How is this not counterfeiting?”

Available on Amazon

About the Author

portrait_3_small

Wes is an engineer by trade, a busybody by habit, and a lifelong Jersey boy. Writing has been a hobby in one form or another since 2006 when he started drawing 3-panel comics. When he is not putting words down, he is picking them up; the “to-read” pile only seems to grow larger. A fan of nature, he spends as much time outside as possible. Wes Verde

My Review

The cover of this book really drew me in, and the author did a fabulous job in recreating the 1920s, both in setting and societal expectations. The main characters – Roy, Victoria, and Urbane – are three people you wouldn’t imagine ever joining forces. With such diverse backgrounds, the unifying factor is the hustle. Each, in their own way, is skilled at separating fools from their money, and as a combined force, their success should only improve. And yet, their lifestyle is a daily struggle, moving on constantly, never setting down roots, and always but always looking over their shoulders.
When it looks like a con might backfire badly, Roy has had enough. As the Idea Man, he reckons he has the perfect job for them, one which will reap the rewards they dream of and allow them to enjoy the high life of their victims for a while.
But is going back to the place where his ex-wife and children still live such a good idea? And can he really expect to keep that fact from Urb and Vic?
As their plan develops, there are side hustles to keep them going, and when one of these ends badly for Victoria, it brings the cops into the neighbourhood. Can they pull it off in time?

The story blends intrigue and romance, and a class divide that accentuates the haves from the have-nots. There are so many villains; when the cons are the good guys you know it’s a fun read.
From corrupt police to pretentious elitists, and a tribalist “union” – there’s an innocent woman killed, a slimeball killer to be unveiled, and a con to perfect.
Tension, excitement, mystery, and with the cons being such likeable characters, it’s not hard to stay invested in the story. This is a long book but the fun, risky and diverse ways of making money kept my interest. The arrival of a new cop – Willie Doyle – in the district, untainted by corruption, heightens the risks the cons must take, and it brings them closer together. I wanted them to succeed and to bring down the elitist establishment who’d had things their own way for too long.

The only downside – if it can be called such – is that I was so caught up in the cons’ lives that I forgot all about the details revealed in the prologue and so seeing those points referenced at the end came out of the blue. Nonetheless, those points are interesting in their own right and prove the research the author did to create such an evocative setting.

Book Tour Schedule

September 19th

R&R Book Tours (Kick-Off) http://rrbooktours.com

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Bonnie Reads & Writes (Review) https://bonniereadsandwrites.wordpress.com

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September 20th

Rambling Mads (Spotlight) http://ramblingmads.com

@brandidanielledavis (Review) https://www.instagram.com/brandidanielledavis/

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September 21st

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September 22nd

@louturnspages (Review) https://www.instagram.com/louturnspages/

@gryffindorbookishnerd (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gryffindorbookishnerd/

Bunny’s Reviews (Spotlight) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

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September 23rd

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Review) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

Just 4 My Books (Review) http://www.just4mybooks.wordpress.com

 Book Reviews by Taylor (Review) https://www.bookreviewsbytaylor.com/

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blog tour · book review · Giveaways · historical fiction · prequel

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Girl from Saint Petersburg (with a giveaway & excerpt!)

Welcome the the book tour for Joyana Peters’ latest historical fiction novel, The Girl from Saint Petersburg. The prequel to award-winning novel, The Girl in the Triangle. Read on for more info and a fantastic giveaway!

Petersburg Cover

The Girl From Saint Petersburg (An Industrial Historical Fiction Series Book 1)

Publication Date: July 25th, 2022

Genre: Historical Fiction

Sacrifice, Starvation and Survival.

What will she do to stay alive? Russia, 1905: Thirteen-year-old Ruth dreams of growing up to marry the boy next door and living peacefully ever after. But when he and her father are forced to flee to America after the Bloody Sunday Massacre, Ruth and the other female members of the family are left behind amid the violence and chaos of revolutionary Russia. Overcoming violence and hunger with a strength she never knew she possessed, Ruth resolves to do what it takes to keep her mother and sister alive—whether it be work, beg or steal. Then she lands herself in a predicament that threatens to put her own neck in a noose. This time she may not be able to keep them all safe, at least not without sacrificing their love for her and all that makes life worth living. In this prequel to the award-winning novel, The Girl in the Triangle, author, Joyana Peters, portrays a tight-knit family fighting to endure at a precarious and crucial time in Jewish history. Join the countless readers who can’t get enough of Ruth and her story.

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Excerpt

Ruth woke to banging on the front door. Half-asleep, she blinked against the morning light. Ester shifted on the pillow next to her. “What’s happening?” “I don’t know, Bird.” Ruth patted her head. “Stay here. I’ll find out.” Ruth tiptoed out of the bedroom and toward the front door. Her mother was crouched on the floor and peering over the window sill. Her eyes were puffy and red. “What are you doing?” “Shh!” Momme tugged Ruth down beside her. “Don’t let them see you.” “Don’t let who see us? Where’s Tatty? Why were you crying?” Ruth glanced around. Momme clenched Ruth’s wrist. “I need you to listen. They’ll break in soon. And they will interrogate and hurt me. You need to be brave.” “Interrogate you? I don’t understand. Where are Tatty and Jeremiah?” “Tatty left for America last night, but we can’t tell them that.” Ruth shivered. Her father gone to America without saying good-bye? “Why? Did Jeremiah go too?” An odd blankness came over her mother’s eyes. She seemed about to answer when an axe crashed through the door. “Stay in the bed. Cover yourselves to hide and don’t leave Ester.” Momme pushed Ruth toward the bedroom. Ruth scrambled to her feet and ran. She looked over her shoulder to see her mother dusting herself off. As the door gave way and the czar’s soldiers invaded the house, her mother’s lips moved in silent prayer. Ruth found her sister hiding under the covers and held a finger to her lips as she crawled beside her. Ester nodded, suddenly appearing older than her ten years. As the men’s voices rose in the next room, Ruth wrapped her arms around Ester and they lay trembling. There was a slap followed by a muffled sob. Ester cried out. Ruth clapped her hand over Ester’s mouth, but heavy boots stomped toward them and the covers were soon ripped away. Two soldiers glared down from either side of the bed. They grabbed the girls with rough hands. “Ruth!” Ester screamed. “She’s a child!” Ruth begged. “Please, leave her be.” The soldiers ignored her and dragged the two girls from the house. The street was in chaos. There were more soldiers, and families shivering in their bed clothes. Why was this happening? The soldier flung her onto the ground, knocking the wind out of her. She scrambled toward Ester, but a soldier stepped between them. “Please, don’t hurt us, sir!” “That depends on your mother. If she tells us what we want to know, we won’t need to.” Ruth tried to squash her instinct to reach for her sister, and instead forced herself to look for her mother. And there she was—standing with her chin high, in the middle of four soldiers. Ruth could see a dark splotch on her face. Was it blood? But she remained straight and tall. She wasn’t even crying. Ruth was amazed by her mother’s control. How did she manage to appear so unaffected? A soldier with a drooping mustache stepped close to Momme. “Where are they?” he growled. “I told you, I don’t know,” she replied. “I don’t believe you.” He cracked her on the back of the head with the butt of his rifle and kicked her in the stomach. “Try again. Where are they?” Momme crumpled forward, coughing. “I don’t know.” “This is pointless. Grab the girl.” He gestured toward Ester. The soldier standing near Ester grabbed her. Ester thrashed in his arms. “No!” Momme lurched forward. “She doesn’t know anything and neither do I. They never returned home.” “But they were in the square yesterday?” the droopy mustache soldier asked. “Yes.” “What was that? I can’t hear you.” He cupped his ear. “Yes, they were there,” Momme’s voice rang out louder. Ruth closed her eyes at Momme’s words. This was about Abraham and Jeremiah and wherever they’d gone yesterday. What trouble had they gotten themselves into? The soldier leaned into Momme’s face. “And the meetings?” Momme turned away. He popped her in the forehead with his rifle butt so hard she flew backwards. “Answer me!” A shriek pierced the air. Ruth saw a man being pulled out of his house. His wife reached for him, but the soldiers held her back. They forced the man to his knees and a soldier held a pistol to the back of his head. A shot rang out. The man slumped forward. Ruth looked to her mother’s horror-stricken face. Droopy Mustache grabbed Momme by the hair. “Perhaps––now you see how serious we are, drabke?” Momme moved her head up and down. “They never came home. They must be among the dead.” “And the meetings?” “They attended them,” she croaked. “But if they’re dead, what does it matter?” He studied Momme. Finally, he turned to the other soldiers. “Search the house again.”

Available for Purchase Here!

About the Author

Joyana Peters Headshot 2

Growing up in New York, she always loved exploring the city, particularly the Lower East Side. This led to her discovery of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and the stories it holds.

She currently lives in Northern Virginia where she takes in the sights of DC with her two kids and husband.

Joyana Peters | Facebook | Instagram

My Review

Atmospheric and evocative historic fiction.

Life in Saint Petersburg for Ruth is fairly ordinary – playing cards with her brother and betrothed, arguing amicably over their cheating – until one day, they’re no longer around. With her father, they have had to leave Russia since the czar’s rules have made life very difficult for Jews.
Waiting what seems like forever to hear of their arrival in New York is not easy, and soldiers seem more than willing to abuse the women to find out where the menfolk are. Things gets harder still especially when friends and neighbours also decide to leave before the very real possibility of being “relocated” to The Pale of Settlement.
For a few long, arduous years Ruth, her mother and sister muddle on with what little they have – selling what they can bear to part with and working for a meagre income to put food on the table.
But when Ester falls seriously ill, Ruth has to act quickly. and it is that act that subsequently obliges the three women to leave their homeland. How they do that is fraught with danger, but go they must.

I’m looking forward to following the rest of their journey in The Girl in the Triangle.

Giveaway

We are giving away 2 signed copies for winners in the US and 2 e-Books for international winners! Click below to enter.

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Book Tour Schedule

September 5th

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September 6th

@theenchantedshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/theenchantedshelf/

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September 7th

@elinasbookstagram (Review) https://www.instagram.com/elinasbookstagram/

Latisha’s Low-Key Life (Review) https://latishaslowkeylife.com/

@readingwithwrin (Review) https://www.instagram.com/readingwithwrin/

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September 8th

@takealookatmybookshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/takealookatmybookshelf/

Rambling Mads (Review) http://ramblingmads.com

@better_0ff_read (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/better_0ff_read/

September 9th

@bookqueenbee (Review) https://www.instagram.com/bookqueenbee/

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book review · historical fiction · novella · series · WWII

Book Review – Betrayal: An Ann’s War Mystery (The Ann’s War Mystery Series Book 1)

Book description:

With her husband away on a top secret mission, Ann Morgan prepares for another secretarial day at Trevor Bowman’s detective agency.

However, this day will be unlike any other.

Over twenty-four hours, Ann will find her life turned upside-down as she discovers a murder, meets a handsome widower, Detective Inspector Max Deveraux, and confronts the murderer in a tale of temptation and duplicity

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My thoughts

Recently married, Ann Morgan says farewell to her husband as he undertakes a mission for the war effort. He should only be gone a couple of days, and Ann determines to carry on as normally as she can until his return. In his absence, she has the use of the car and takes to the quiet streets, passing a horse and cart on her way to work for Trevor Bowman, a private detective. No sooner has she arrived than her boss sends her to deliver a report. When she finally gets back to the office, a shadowy figure almost knocks her down and she enters the office to find her boss shot dead.
Had she just passed the killer? The thought runs through her mind when she tells Detective Inspector Max Deveraux what had happened.
Now, she is not only without her husband but also a job. With time on her hands, she wonders who would have wanted to kill Bowman, and can she possibly help to catch the killer?
With a pace and vibe reminiscent of the TV series Foyles War, Betrayal features a polite, softly-spoken detective in Max Deveraux and a young woman, modern in her actions and ambition in Ann. After deciding to question her boss’s last known client, Ann has unwittingly stumbled upon a scene of treachery, and the culprit does not wish her to be free to share her discovery with the police.
A short story, delicious in detail. Clearly well-researched, this first book in the series is engaging and invites me to want to read more … which, of course, I will. 😉

About the Author

Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann’s War Mystery Series, The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga, Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE and Saving Grace. Hannah’s books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audiobooks, and are being translated into numerous languages.

Currently, Hannah is writing Stormy Weather, book eighteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. She is also researching material for future Sam Smith books along with material for a Victorian novel set in 1888, a novel set in 1948, a novel set in Bulgaria during the Second World War and A Schoolteacher’s War, a story about the French Resistance and the preparations for D-Day. Along with these projects, Hannah is also writing The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga and Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE.

As always,

book review · historical fiction · novella · series · WWII

Book Review – Operation Rose (Eve’s War: The Heroines of SOE, Book 6)

Operation Rose is book seven in the Eve’s War Heroines of SOE series.

Beside a graffiti-embellished pew, I turned to Rose and said, “You’re taking great risks for us.”
“Freedom is worth the risks,” Rose said.
“What about the risks to your family?”
Rose turned and offered me an angry glare. “Who said that I have a family?”
“I assumed that you are married,” I said, “with children.”
Rose looked like a housewife. She wore no rings on her fingers, yet her whole manner suggested a housewifely air.
“I would rather not mention my family,” Rose said.
“I understand,” I said.
At that point, the sound of an organ reverberated through the cathedral. Its sudden appearance caught me by surprise. It startled Rose and made her jump.
“I must go,” she said.
I nodded. “Take care.”
I waited and listened to the organ. The sound was modern, electrified. I didn’t recognise the tune, but it was pleasant enough.
Outside, I walked through the narrow alleys, along the cobbled streets. I couldn’t explain why, but I loved cobbled streets.
At a distance of five hundred metres, I turned and stared at the cathedral, and reflected on Rose. I considered that she was an enigma. Maxime Durand had vouched for her. London trusted Durand, but I had my doubts about him. For security’s sake, I reckoned that I should learn more about Rose.

My thoughts

Yay! I’m back with the latest in the Eve’s War series, and it was like catching up with old friends, the only downside being these stories are short in length and always leave me yearning for the next one.

Guy and Eve’s relationship has developed considerably but the question of whether her husband, Michel, still lives, lingers. When Guy has to leave for a meeting under the guise of an archaeology convention, he says he’ll see if he can find out about Michel.
Meanwhile, Eve is in charge and when a mayor is shot in public view by German Officer, Raab, she – and others – suspect they have a traitor among them.
If they can root this person out, Eve has to consider shooting them. Can she do it? Her answer: if need be. But when the time comes, she’s relieved to find another issue that explains everything.
In Operation Rose, the team work together to seek out the traitor and their reasons for betrayal, only to find it’s not what they think and instead they are thrown into a rescue mission.

As always, the story moves along at great pace and the main characters reveal just a little more about themselves. In this case, Eve is bewildered at her sudden weight gain 😉 … and when Guy returns to say Michel is alive, then you have to wonder what’s next for the couple.
The saga continues … and I must practise patience LOL

I’ve learnt from experience that this author’s books are addictive, and I was planning on starting The Olive Tree series next. However, I’ve now decided to wait until that series is published in full (hopefully that’ll be soonish) Instead, I’ll be getting my WWII historical fiction fix with The Ann’s War Mystery series, starting with Betrayal – all five books in this series have been released and I can binge to my heart’s content. Look out for my reviews on these stories in the coming weeks.

About the Author

Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann’s War Mystery Series, The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga, Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE and Saving Grace. Hannah’s books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audiobooks, and are being translated into numerous languages.

Currently, Hannah is writing Stormy Weather, book eighteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. She is also researching material for future Sam Smith books along with material for a Victorian novel set in 1888, a novel set in 1948, a novel set in Bulgaria during the Second World War and A Schoolteacher’s War, a story about the French Resistance and the preparations for D-Day. Along with these projects, Hannah is also writing The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga and Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE.

As always,

coming of age · historical fiction · R&R Book Tour stop

Blog Tour – Book Promo – Taking on Secrets

TakingonSecrets copy

Welcome to my stop on the Taking on Secrets tour! Read on for more details about this book!

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Taking On Secrets

Publication Date: April 2, 2022

Genre: Historical Fiction/ Coming-of-Age

Publisher: Blue Jade Press

A coming-of-age tale about our protagonist Benjamin Kissel as he grows up as a single child in a upper middle class catholic home during the 60’s and 70’s. Experience his struggles with his family, lust, lies, and love as he grows from a teenager to a successful adult in the city that never sleeps, NYC.

“A coming-of-age story by Kevin Pilkington, who is a creative writing professor at the prestigious Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY, a tony suburb of New York. The story is also set in Bronxville and Manhattan. I used to live in Bronxville, and Pilkington’s descriptions are spot on.” – Susan Schwartzman

“A spirited, humorous mosaic of teen life in a 1970’s America, an adult life in a forgotten Hollywood, a forgotten Lower East Side, too, and dead-on reflections on pop culture, family, and traditions. Taking on Secrets is a furious, transcendent, urgent sweep of a full life, with a prose filled with rhythm, energy, humor and poetry.”—Ernesto Quinonex, author of Bodega Dreams

“Are we merely the sum of our experiences, or can we become something more? That’s the questions that Kevin Pilkington’s Taking on Secrets is asking between the lines of every page. An addictive, funny, fearless coming-of-age story.”—David Hollander author of Anthropica and L.I. E.AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

About the Author

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Kevin Pilkington is a member of the writing faculty at Sarah Lawrence College. He is the author of ten collections: Spare Change was the LaJolla Poets Press National Book Award winner; Getting By won the ledge chapbook award; In the Eyes of a Dog received the New York Book Festival Award; The Unemployed Man Who Became a Tree was a Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award finalist.

His poetry has appeared in many anthologies including: Birthday Poems: A Celebration, Western Wind, and Contemporary Poetry of New England. Over the years, he has been nominated for four Pushcarts. His poems have appeared in numerous magazines, including The Harvard Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, Iowa Review, Boston Review, Yankee, Hayden’s Ferry, Columbia and North American Review.

He has taught and lectured at numerous colleges and universities including The New School, Manhattanville College, MIT, University of Michigan, Susquehanna University and Georgia Tech. His debut novel, Summer Shares, was reissued in paperback. His collection, Where You Want to Be: New and Selected Poems was an IPPY Award Winner. A new collection entitled Playing Poker with Tennessee Williams was recently published. Taking on Secrets is his second novel.

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blog tour · book review · crime · historical fiction · mystery

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Twelve Nights

Tour Banner Twelve Nights by Penny Ingham
Twelve Nights

Twelve Nights

The TheatreLondon, 1592

When a player is murdered, suspicion falls on the wardrobe mistress, Magdalen Bisset, because everyone knows poison is a woman’s weapon. The scandal-pamphlets vilify her. The coroner is convinced of her guilt.

Magdalen is innocent, although few are willing to help her prove it. Her much-loved grandmother is too old and sick. Will Shakespeare is benignly detached, and her friend Christopher Marlowe is wholly unreliable. Only one man offers his assistance, but dare she trust him when nothing about him rings true?

With just two weeks until the inquest, Magdalen ignores anonymous threats to ‘leave it be’, and delves into the dangerous underworld of a city seething with religious and racial tension. As time runs out, she must risk everything in her search for the true killer – for all other roads lead to the gallows.

Twelve Nights Book Cover.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Twelve-Nights-Heavenly-Charmers-Book-ebook/dp/B09ZRPGZL8/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Twelve-Nights-Heavenly-Charmers-Book-ebook/dp/B09ZRPGZL8/

Author Bio

I was born and raised in Yorkshire where my father inspired my love of history from an early age. He is a born story teller and would take us to the top of Iron Age hillforts, often as dusk was falling, and regale us with stirring tales of battles lost and won. Not surprisingly, I went on to study Classics at university, and still love spending my summers on archaeological digs. For me, there is nothing more thrilling than finding an artefact that has not seen the light of day for thousands of years. I find so much inspiration for my novels from archaeology.

I have had a variety of jobs over the years, including working for the British Forces newspaper in Germany, and at the BBC. When our family was little, the only available space for me to write was a small walk-in wardrobe. The children used to say, ‘oh, mum’s in the cupboard again’.

I have written four historical novels: The King’s Daughter explores the story of Aethelflaed, the Lady of the Mercians. The Saxon Wolves and the Saxon Plague are both set in fifth century AD, a time of enormous upheaval and uncertainty in Britain as the Romans departed and the Saxon era began. My latest is something a bit different. Twelve Nights is a crime thriller set in sixteenth century London, and features William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe.

I now live with my husband in the Hampshire countryside. Like many others during the pandemic, we decided to try growing our own fruit and vegetables – with mixed results! We can only get better!

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Giveaway to Win a PB copy of Twelve Nights (Open to UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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My Review

As historical fiction goes, Twelve Nights is rich in detail, both regarding the setting but also the mood that conveys the strong – and menacing – anti-Papist vibe of the era. It’s a dangerous time to be Catholic … and a woman, it seems. Pestilence and poverty are rife, and the injustice of the class system is never more visible.
As mysteries go, the story has a solid and intriguing plot in which you easily root for Magdalen Bisset for whom a death sentence looms large after a friend – a player – dies at the theatre in her arms. She’s innocent, we all know that, but the case builds against her for two reasons. Firstly, because she’s a woman – and poison is the instrument of female killers – and by virtue of her job at the theatre she was there when the first man died. Tenuous? These days, yes, but back then people were hanged for such flimsy claims. Of course, the second reason is yet more disagreeable since the officer charging her with murder is acting mainly from spite, his “charms” spurned years ago by Magdalen’s grandmother.
Fascinating, isn’t it?
With Shakespeare and Marlowe in the mix, competing for recognition and audience, Magdalen is friends with both men. They come across as self-centred men, hell-bent on their own goals, yet there are touching moments of support from both – even if one of them takes that support too far in Magdalen’s eyes.
While she tries to find who killed her friend, she has to live through hostility from her landlady, unwanted advances of her landlord, all while trying to keep a roof over her head and that of her grandmother who is in the throes of dementia and very unpredictable. Notes warning her to stop pursuing her investigations fail to discourage her, though the fear is very real.
As if that was not enough, a possible love interest rocks her world and she sees her grandmother incarcerated for attending a Catholic Mass. Regardless, she battles on to find the killer … but the outcome of her quest only gives way to a much bigger – and more damaging – truth.
The story is resolved in part and leaves the way open for a sequel that I’ll be keen to check out when the times comes.

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book review · historical fiction · novella · series · WWII

Book Review – Operation Cameo (Eve’s War: The Heroines of SOE, Book 6)

I sat in the farmhouse in front of the open fire and read Vivienne Fernandez’s file.

Aged 24, she resided in London where, before the SOE recruited her, she was a switchboard operator. Multilingual, she enjoyed gymnastics – like Mimi – cycling, ice-skating and dressmaking. Her assessors also noted that she loved to party.

I’d met her from the plane and noted her elegance and grace. She was stylish, beautiful – the complete package. Jealousy should have raised its ugly head. Instead, I smiled at that recent memory; I liked her.

Vivienne’s French husband had died fighting for the Free French in Senegal. She’d left a two-year-old daughter at home, with childminders. Father and daughter had never met. That was sad, and all too familiar.

Vivienne’s mother was English, her father French. They’d lived on the French-Spanish border and, when the Nazis invaded, escaped over the Pyrenees. It was a route I knew well.

I tore Vivienne’s file into strips and placed it on the fire. Within seconds, it turned to ash, consumed by the orange and yellow flames.

I wondered what Guy would make of Vivienne. I would discover his thoughts soon enough, when he returned from the coast. I wondered how she would fit into our team. As a short-term replacement for Mimi, I didn’t foresee any problems.

In retrospect, I would regard that assessment as a huge mistake.

My thoughts

Eve and Guy have noticed Mimi’s decline, while she’s still the fastest wireless operator out there, she has lost her spark. They arrange for her to return to England for a break, and a new operator – Vivienne – is brought in. Mimi is not at all happy; she feels she’s being sent away because she knows how close Eve and Guy have become, and that she’s in the way. Eve admits her feelings for Guy, but assures Mimi that the break is only temporary.
Meanwhile, Eve’s German Officer admirer, Raab, wants her to spy for him. Despite Guy’s reluctance, Eve is determined to do so, although she plans on giving him out-of-date info, and just enough detail to keep him distracted from his amorous overtures to her, and to the real matters of business that they’re pursuing.
Vivienne is soon put to work, but her love for fashion worries Eve, who feels the new operator – a mother of a two-year-old – will stand out too much. Nonetheless, the business of sending and receiving messages continues until one night the power fails. It’s a tactic used by the Nazis to track down wireless signals. They have to flee.
Unfortunately, not everyone gets away and, together with Jean-Claude’s men, the SOE agents have to rescue one of their own. Clashes with the Gestapo lead to losses on all sides, and even Eve’s ardent admirer, Raab, is caught in the crossfire. Revenge is inevitable, the Resistance will not accept anything else.

Looking forward to the next in the series – roll on July! Now I’ve read all those published to date, I’m sort of wishing I’d waited till the whole series was available to binge read … but I’m not that patient!

I said in a previous post that I had a plan about how to fill the gap between now and July (for book 7) and the three month wait for each subsequent book. It’s not as if my TBR list is lacking, but having studied this author’s extensive back catalogue, I think I’ll be checking out The Olive Tree series next. As a former student of Spanish political history, I’m looking forward to this one. Hannah Howe, right now, is hitting all the buttons on my “want to read” list 😉

About the Author

Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann’s War Mystery Series, The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga, Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE and Saving Grace. Hannah’s books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audiobooks, and are being translated into numerous languages.

Currently, Hannah is writing Stormy Weather, book eighteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. She is also researching material for future Sam Smith books along with material for a Victorian novel set in 1888, a novel set in 1948, a novel set in Bulgaria during the Second World War and A Schoolteacher’s War, a story about the French Resistance and the preparations for D-Day. Along with these projects, Hannah is also writing The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga and Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE.

As always,

book review · historical fiction · novella · series · WWII

Book Review – Operation Sherlock (Eve’s War: The Heroines of SOE, Book 5)

“Arthur is concerned about the Nazis’ latest terror weapon,” Guy said. “Rockets; they have the potential to cause death, destruction and chaos in Britain. He wants us to locate the launch site so that the RAF can bomb it.”

“How do we achieve that?” I asked.

“The Resistance in Paris think that they have identified the site,” Guy said. “Arthur wants us to confirm their suspicions.”

“Why doesn’t the local Sherlock network deal with this?” Mimi asked.

“Recently,” Guy said, “the Gestapo captured their wireless operator. Their network is in chaos. Trust is at a low ebb.”

I glanced at Mimi and noticed her pale, drawn features. As our wireless operator, she lived under constant stress; each transmission represented a moment of potential capture.

A trip to Paris sounded sublime. However, Mimi’s troubled expression reminded me that we were travelling into danger, potentially to our deaths.

My thoughts

Whoa! This book ratchets up the tension yet another notch.
The SOE are concerned about the Nazis’ latest terror weapon – a ‘silent’ rocket that could cause mass destruction and deaths if launched. The trio are informed that the weapon is being developed on the outskirts of Paris, and the Resistance think they have identified the site.
Guy, Eve and Mimi head for Paris. Mimi is already struggling so when she is challenged over the contents of her case (the wireless) she has to rely on her cover story to avoid raising further suspicion. Eve steps in to help and distracts the guard so they are able to board the train. But that is not the first time Mimi’s case will come under scrutiny …and the lengths to which Eve goes to avoid that scrutiny is shocking and yet to be applauded.

Unfortunately, sending messages in Paris is fraught with danger, the Gestapo are very active. When it appears they may be caught in the act, the idea of a traitor in their ranks comes to mind. Finding out who betrayed them is paramount. Guy and Eve have their suspicions … and are forced to confront the traitor. Working so close together in such dangerous circumstances forces the two of them to admit their feelings for each other.

So, you see, the tension is not just putting their lives at risk, it now involves risking their heart too.
Another fabulous tale that was over too quickly.

About the Author

Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann’s War Mystery Series, The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga, Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE and Saving Grace. Hannah’s books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audiobooks, and are being translated into numerous languages.

Currently, Hannah is writing Stormy Weather, book eighteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. She is also researching material for future Sam Smith books along with material for a Victorian novel set in 1888, a novel set in 1948, a novel set in Bulgaria during the Second World War and A Schoolteacher’s War, a story about the French Resistance and the preparations for D-Day. Along with these projects, Hannah is also writing The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga and Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE.

As always,

book review · historical fiction · novella · series · WWII

Book Review – Operation Treasure (Eve’s War: The Heroines of SOE, Book 4)

“A message from Arthur,” Mimi said. “He wants us to steal a set of plans from a factory and blow up the building.”

“Who owns the factory?” Guy asked.

“Auguste Maingard,” Mimi said.

“And what does the factory produce?” I asked.

“It’s a scientific establishment,” Mimi said. “It’s developing a frequency-hopping guided missile system. Naturally, the Nazis are aware of this work and intend to exploit the invention.”

“So,” I said, “we steal the guidance system from Maingard and the Nazis.”

“That’s right,” Mimi said.

“And if we fail?” I frowned.

“If we fail,” Mimi said, “Arthur will send in the bombers and raze the factory to the ground.”

“That would mean the loss of many innocent lives,” Guy said. He stared into the middle-distance, grim-faced. “We can’t allow that. We can’t afford to fail.”

There was a determination on Guy’s face, a passion in his voice that demanded success. Obviously, a new missile guidance system was important, but Guy’s look and tone suggested that this operation went beyond the machinations of war. For some reason, it was personal.

My thoughts

Eve, Guy and Mimi have assumed their new identities in France and are going about the business of obtaining information, sending coded messages, and training up the Maquis for future acts of sabotage against the Nazi regime.
Guy is revelling in his findings as an archaeologist and Mimi is proving very adept as a nurse, while Eve – aka Genevieve – is playing the mourning widow with a penchant for sketching all too well. The trio’s bond is even tighter now, and there are hints of further closeness to come between Eve and Guy. Unfortunately, this time Eve has to contend with an amorous and immensely arrogant German Officer on a date she cannot turn down. Can she handle him? Of course she can – for now, at least.

Mimi celebrates her 21st birthday and is overwhelmed by gifts and a party, although she is seriously missing – and worried about – her fiancé, Henri.

Relations with the Maquis are fraught as they are keen to show their “muscle” against the Nazis, but their leader does not like “taking orders” from a woman; patience is waning and they want to strike quickly. However, the risk of moving too fast, or being disunited, comes with consequences. In the heat of war, success relies on keeping a cool head. The tension is mounting and the team have to think on their feet when things take a wrong turn regarding a mission to sabotage Nazi plans. They’re forced to act, and Mimi has to come to Eve’s rescue. In doing so, she carries out her first kill, but is the pressure getting to her now?
This story sees both Mimi and Eve hanker after happier times; Mimi longs to be with Henri and Eve thinks about her family in Wales, sending a letter to her brother before challenging Guy on his motives for joining the SOE.

This story is short in length but goes a great way in grounding the reader in the French countryside, understanding the dangers faced by the civilians who are helping them, and in showing the arrogance of the German officers who still believe they can and will win this war.
As always, elements of the story are based on real events as experienced by female SOE operatives, and the author includes snippets about them at the end.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be rushing to read Operation Sherlock, the next in the series. I can’t wait!

About the Author

Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann’s War Mystery Series, The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga, Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE and Saving Grace. Hannah’s books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audiobooks, and are being translated into numerous languages.

Currently, Hannah is writing Stormy Weather, book eighteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. She is also researching material for future Sam Smith books along with material for a Victorian novel set in 1888, a novel set in 1948, a novel set in Bulgaria during the Second World War and A Schoolteacher’s War, a story about the French Resistance and the preparations for D-Day. Along with these projects, Hannah is also writing The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga and Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE.

As always,

book review · historical fiction · novella · series · WWII

Book Review – Operation Broadsword (Eve’s War: The Heroines of SOE, Book 3)

As Mimi examined her wireless, a figure emerged through the darkness. In his mid-thirties, he possessed broad shoulders and a muscular frame while a proud nose and a neatly trimmed moustache dominated his handsome features.

“The owls are loud tonight,” the man said revealing a voice blessed with a deep baritone.

“You’re allowed to make a loud noise when you’re the wisest of birds,” I replied.

With our code words established, the man stepped forward and shook my hand. His handshake was firm while his pumping action threatened to remove my arm from my shoulder.

“I am Jean-Claude,” he smiled. “Jean-Claude Quiniou. I will escort you to the safe house and introduce you to the Le Roux family.”

“I’m Genevieve,” I said, “and this is Lise.” Of course, I used our aliases, for Eve and Mimi belonged to another life.

My thoughts

As you can tell by my weekly blog posts, I’m loving this series. It’s taking all my strength to not post daily about them, but that’s only because half of the series is, as yet, unpublished. What will I do when I get to the end of the current publications? Well, funny you should say … I have a plan in mind. Stay tuned!

Now, where was I?

Operation Broadsword is the third in the series, and the pace is accelerating. The trio of SOE operatives, Eve, Guy and Mimi, are waiting for the go ahead to see them parachute into France. With their training complete, it’s only a matter of time before they can leave within the window of opportunity granted them by the night’s sky. Eve will not let the minor inconvenience of a fever stop her from going and lands in France to be escorted to the Le Roux farmhouse where she will be staying. Her first few days are spent recuperating, and we get to know the Le Roux family a little. Guy and Mimi take up their positions and become acquainted with the Résistance leaders and Maquis who will work alongside them.
As she is becoming accustomed to life there, Eve still wonders what has become of her husband. Is she a widow for real or is this just a cover?
Another intriguing and engrossing novella in what is proving to be a gripping series.

About the Author

Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann’s War Mystery Series, The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga, Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE and Saving Grace. Hannah’s books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audiobooks, and are being translated into numerous languages.

Currently, Hannah is writing Stormy Weather, book eighteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. She is also researching material for future Sam Smith books along with material for a Victorian novel set in 1888, a novel set in 1948, a novel set in Bulgaria during the Second World War and A Schoolteacher’s War, a story about the French Resistance and the preparations for D-Day. Along with these projects, Hannah is also writing The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga and Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE.

As always,