IT’S PUB DAY!!

The big day for me and Frances Wynn. A BRIDE’S GUIDE TO MARRIAGE AND MURDER releases today, and for Frances–she’s getting married!

On the eve of her marriage to George Hazelton, Frances has a great deal more on her mind than flowers and seating arrangements. The Connors and the Bainbridges, two families of American robber barons, have taken up residence in London, and their bitter rivalry is spilling over into the highest social circles. At the request of her brother, Alonzo, who is quite taken with Miss Madeline Connor, Frances has invited the Connor family to her wedding. Meanwhile, Frances’s mother has invited Mr. Bainbridge, and Frances fears the wedding may end up being newspaper-worthy for all the wrong reasons.

On the day itself, Frances is relieved to note that Madeline’s father is not among the guests assembled at the church. The reason for his absence, however, turns out to be most unfortunate: Mr. Connor is found murdered in his home. More shocking still, Alonzo is caught at the scene, holding the murder weapon.

Powerful and ruthless, Connor appears to have amassed a wealth of enemies alongside his fortune. Frances and George agree to put their wedding trip on hold to try and clear Alonzo’s name. But there are secrets to sift through, not just in the Bainbridge and Connor families, but also in their own. And with a killer determined to evade discovery at any cost—even if it means taking another life—Frances’s first days as a newlywed will be perilous indeed . . .

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A Bride’s Guide to Marriage and Murder

It’s June! That means it’s time for another Countess of Harleigh mystery!

And she’s getting married! Yay! Hey. Wait a minute…how can Frances be the Countess of Harleigh if she’s marrying George Hazelton, who is definitely not the Earl of Harleigh.

Can she keep her title?

Should she keep her title? To find out, I had to do a little investigating into British titles.

Only one person at a time holds a hereditary title. There are cases where the titleholder is a woman, but since it’s usually a man, that’s how I’ll present this. In fact, I’ll use the fictious Wynn family who hold the title, Earl of Harleigh, as an example.

When Reggie’s father was alive, he was the Earl of Harleigh. His eldest son, Reggie, would have taken any lesser title attached to the family, unless there wasn’t one. In this case there wasn’t one, so while his father lived, Reggie would be addressed as Lord Reginald Wynn. Never Lord Wynn. His wife, Frances would have been Lady Reginald Wynn. Less formally, she might have been Lady Reggie. Never Lady Wynn. Never Lady Frances.

When Reggie’s father died, Reggie became The Right Honorable, The Earl of Harleigh, or Lord Harleigh. It was a hereditary title, and he was stuck with it. But for Frances it would still be a courtesy title. After Reggie died, she became Frances, Countess of Harleigh. That’s even true if they had divorced. But what happens when she remarries? Hmmm? Frances and George do get married. And these are the Countess of Harleigh mysteries, aren’t they? Should I really be drawing your attention to this?

I consulted my usual guide, Titles and Forms of Address, about this issue. There I learned that upon remarriage a widow forfeits any right to her previous courtesy title. That’s the rule. However, in practice, at least in Frances’ day, widows and divorcees frequently continued to use their titles after remarriage. Even though there is no legal justification for this, the courts have backed down and given no ruling when an ex-husband has brought a suit against an ex-wife for retaining her former title. Even Catherine Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII, continued to be known as Queen Catherine after her marriage to Lord Seymour of Sudeley.

So, strange as it sounds, the answer seems to be, if Frances wants to remain Frances, Countess of Harleigh, she can. You’ll see, in A Bride’s Guide to Marriage and Murder, she hasn’t decided yet. Her mother has certainly encouraged her to keep it. Frances did spend nine years earning it. But on the other hand, she loves being Mrs. Hazelton. What do you think? Should Frances keep her title or style herself as Mrs. Hazelton? And if she becomes Mrs. Hazelton, should the series still be The Countess of Harleigh mysteries?

If you’d like to purchase a copy, follow this link!

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Victorian Photography

Research is always one of my favorite parts of writing historical fiction. When I read an advertisement in a 1900 London newspaper for a photographer who will come to your wedding or garden parties, I thought, perfect! In A Bride’s Guide to Marriage and Murder, Frances and George are finally getting married. Photography wasn’t exactly new by that time, and it was exciting to learn that it had evolved to the point that the photographer could come to you. Frances and George lead busy lives. They would never have wanted to sit for a portrait like their parents might have done. A photographer who would come to the reception and take twenty to thirty minutes of their time taking several posed photos would be perfect. But how exactly did it work in 1900?

 Luckily, I found an expert to help me out. Dave Wilson of The Victorian Photography Studio in Gettysburg, PA actually works in the wet and dry plate photography that was available in the Victorian era. Wet plate photography had to be processed within minutes of exposure. But in the 1870s dry plate photography came along, which allowed photographers to go out and about, photographing nature, or events, or weddings because the dry plates could wait for processing. Back in their dark rooms, the photographers could make paper prints from the glass plates using sensitized paper and light and the customer would have his portrait.

Though sitting for a portrait no longer involved maintaining perfect stillness for several minutes, taking photos outside of a studio, meant the photographer had no control of the surroundings. Unintentional photo-bombing could result in a “ghost” in the background—a figure in motion that looked more like a blur.

Flash photography, though improved, was still fairly dangerous for both the photographer and the surroundings. Since Frances and George are having their reception indoors at her brother-in-law’s elegant London townhouse, they decided natural light was safer for all concerned. Frances and George are about to have enough trouble at their wedding reception. They don’t need a fire as well.

If you’re interested in historical photography, click on the link above for the Victorian Photography Studio for more information.

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Mystery Conventions Are Back!

I was lucky enough to spend last weekend at the Left Coast Crime Convention in Albuquerque and I had a wonderful time!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Left Coast Crime is an annual mystery convention sponsored by mystery fans, both readers and authors, and it’s always held in Western North America. Just in recent years, it’s been held in Hawaii, Reno, Vancouver, San Diego, and Albuquerque. The idea is to bring readers, authors, critics, librarians, publishers, and other fans together for a long weekend to pursue their mutual interest—crime fiction!

Author, Mary Keliikoa and I co-hosted a table for the Saturday Awards banquet.

Sadly, the last time we all gathered was 2020—which was cancelled due to the pandemic on the first official day of the conference. There are quite a few big mystery conventions like Left Coast in the US. Malice Domestic in Maryland, Thrillerfest in New York City, and Bouchercon, which like Left Coast, moves to a different city every year. They are all run by volunteers. They all involve some form of author panels, meet and greets or author/reader connections, book signings, banquets, party nights, a ton of fun and hugs and laughs! And that year, one by one, they were all cancelled. The organizers worked their tails off to put together some form of virtual connection, at least to present awards for those authors who were nominated. And we all said, Next Year, like it was a battle cry. Unfortunately, everything was virtual in 2021 too.

Two years later, in Albuquerque, it was such a joy to gather together again! Someone pointed out how fitting it was that Left Coast Crime was the last time we gathered together. Now we’ve come full circle. In 2023, Left Coast Crime will take place in Tucson, AZ. If you love crime fiction, you should check it out!

Just a few of the dozens of panels: Female Sleuths in Historical Mystery, The Importance of Family, and Spies, Official and Otherwise.

Books and Left Coast souvenirs!
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The Gilded Age

Have you been watching The Gilded Age?

Alva Vanderbilt (left) and The Mrs. Astor

For those who haven’t, it’s a series about the ultra-wealthy and the ultra-elite in 1882 New York City. I’ve heard several people complain about the exterior settings and the costumes, but what Julian Fellowes gets right, are the characters and the general attitude of new money verses old money.

I’m fascinated by this era. It’s where Frances has come from, albeit she didn’t attempt to break into New York society until 1889. It would have been just as difficult for her as it is for Gladys Russell. In fact, it seems a little too easy for the Russells, who I think may be based on the William K. Vanderbilts. But I think this only because the fictional Bertha Russell rules over her children with an iron fist, very much like Alva Vanderbilt.

Unlike Bertha Russell, Alva worked much harder to gain acceptance in Mrs. Astor’s New York society. Little by little, inch by inch, she gained ground in her campaign—not just to be part of society, but to rule it. To do so, she had to gain Mrs. Astor’s acceptance. She planned a ball to celebrate the completion of her fabulous new mansion on Fifth Avenue and let it be known her guest of honor would be her long-time friend, Consuelo Yznaga, who made one of the first Trans-Atlantic marriages to the heir to the Duke of Manchester. Nobody in society would miss their chance to meet a future duchess, not to mention the entertainment Alva was planning for the evening.

Vanderbilt Mansion on 5th Avenue.

Alva sent out 1600 invitations, but she didn’t send one to Mrs. Astor, whose beloved daughter, Carrie, was beyond eager to attend. It made perfect sense that Alva didn’t invite the Astors, since she couldn’t claim any sort of acquaintance with Mrs. Astor. There were rules in New York society after all. One of them was that the older, or longer established family made the first move toward friendship. Mrs. Astor had never called on the Vanderbilts, so Alva could never call on her. Mrs. Astor may not approve of the Vanderbilts, but neither did she want to be left off any guest list or have her daughter be the only young lady who didn’t attend the ball.

Mrs. Astor sent her calling card to Alva and Alva immediately sent the invitation. The ball, held in 1883, cost more than $250,000, but it made Mrs. Astor acknowledge the Vanderbilts and it made Alva a shining start in New York society. From that point on, there was no stopping her.

Now that I think about it, Bertha Russell still hasn’t been acknowledged by Mrs. Astor. Maybe there will be a ball in upcoming episodes.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

All the Countess of Harleigh mysteries have just a touch of romance and in the next book, love is definitely in the air! It’s February 1900 and Frances and George are getting married! A Bride’s Guide to Marriage and Murder doesn’t release until June 28th, but in honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d post an excerpt from the book below. Hope you enjoy it!

Family, like a rich dessert, is a treat best enjoyed in small portions. One may love it and want to indulge in great quantities, but too much of either can lead to such a noxious experience one might be prompted to avoid it—or them—forever.

Well. Perhaps that’s just my family.

My mother invaded—I mean arrived at my home four months ago for my sister’s wedding, then stayed on to plan mine. Since that time, I’d gone from considering elopement to contemplating a move to the Outer Hebrides, but since the Gaelic language eluded me, I stayed home and endured the invasion—I mean visit for four months. Four. Long. Months.

The single refuge left to me were my thoughts. Daydreaming had become my escape. It might appear that I was enjoying breakfast with Mother and Aunt Hetty while they reviewed the final—please let it be the final—list of wedding details, but in my head, I was in the church, saying my vows.

I smiled. The dream would be a reality in a little more than twenty-four hours.

I Frances Helena do take thee, George—

“Ahem!”

And just like that, the dining room came back into focus. The altar transformed into the table, draped with a white cloth and littered with handwritten notes and forgotten breakfast plates. The candles that had glowed in my daydream were replaced with the gas chandelier, and the choir turned into rattling china as Mrs. Thompson, my housekeeper, brought in fresh plates.

The reverend’s voice was replaced with my mother’s.

“Do you intend to drink that coffee, Frances, or simply admire it?”

It took another moment before her ice blue stare came into focus. “I beg your pardon?”

“You’ve been gazing into that cup for at least ten minutes now and haven’t heard a word I’ve said.”

That was rather the point.

She drew her brows together. “What’s wrong with you?”

Where to begin? I had a house full of relatives. My mother was organizing my wedding like a military campaign, while I attempted to coordinate a move to my new home during the coldest February in my recollection. And now I’d been distracted from a lovely daydream. Of course, I could tell her none of that.

“Nothing’s wrong.” I pasted on a smile. “What were you saying?”

“I’ve just heard from the florist.” She tossed a note card onto the table. “He can’t manage the pure white roses for the wedding. Now what am I to do?”

I shuddered to think. It was quite possible that poor florist’s head would roll.

Aunt Hetty sought refuge behind the morning paper. I took a long drink of my coffee for fortification. “If they’re the pinkish color, they should be just fine,” I offered. “Rose is wearing pink.” Rose was my eight-year-old daughter and only attendant. She was also the one person Mother didn’t argue with. To her, Rose could do no wrong.

She sighed and sank back into her chair. “I can’t risk the flowers being the wrong shade of white. I’ll have to call at the shop and have a look at them myself.” She gave me a pointed look. “That means I shan’t be able to accompany you to your dress fitting.”

Somewhere in the heavens, a choir of angels sang.

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It’s January–Ho-Hum

That’s pretty much how I feel about January. It’s just not my month. The holidays are over. The days are short and cold, even in Arizona. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. If I need to change something, I’m not going to wait until January 1st to address it. I’ll change it immediately, or at least as soon as I can talk myself into it. Right now, I think I need to change my attitude about January. To do that, I’ve created a list of anything I can think of that’s good about this month. It was a challenge.

1. It’s the beginning of a new year—a fresh start. And when something is just starting out, you have to give it a chance.

2. I tend to read at night, so since the days are shorter, I’ve read more books. That’s a good thing!

3. January is National Hot Tea Month! Who knew? Some of you might remember my blog last year about tea and my lack of knowledge about the beverage. And the fact that I never drank it. Well, after researching, I was tempted to do some taste testing and it turns out I really like the rich, black teas like Assam. I found a brand that throws dried elderberries into the mix, and I’m in heaven drinking a cup every morning!

4. I ran out of good things and my thoughts started drifting, so this item is slightly off topic. The characters in my mystery series have been living in 1899. In A Bride’s Guide to Marriage and Murder, it will be February, 1900. For those of you who don’t recall the celebrations for, and concern over, going from December 31, 1999 to January 1, 2000, it was pretty crazy. Some were giddy about the dawning of a new century. Many thought the world would end. Others feared Y2k, which meant our computers might cease to operate, shutting down just about every industry. The rest of us just partied like it was, well, 1999. Though I don’t have a New Year’s Eve 1899 story, I wondered what the thinking was at the time. How did they celebrate the new century? Were there any fears of Y1.9K?

I scoured the old newspapers and found—nothing. At least nothing out of the ordinary—just regular news. Turns out they didn’t celebrate the new century until January 1st 1901, which, mathematically, makes sense. Everything I read about the new century and the new year was optimistic and positive. That takes me back to item #1 above. The best thing about January is the whole idea of a fresh start. Here’s hoping January gives all of us a positive and optimistic outlook on the rest of 2022!

Happy New Year!

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My Favorites of 2021

Hard to believe 2021 is coming to an end. When I looked back at this year’s posts, I was surprised that I haven’t talked about many of my favorite reads. I thought it time I made up for that with a list of some of my favorites from 2021.

January was not a good month and Jenn McKinlay provided the perfect escape, filled with warmth and humor, in PARIS IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA. 
When her widowed father announces he is remarrying, Chelsea Martin’s reaction forces her to realize she’s lost her joy for life. While I’m not sure her reaction was off the mark, I was all for her solution—recreate a trip she took many years ago to Ireland, France, and Italy. This was the last time she recalled being truly happy. In each country was a man who held a piece of her heart. Maybe one of them was the key to finding her joy again. Her quest is complicated by the unexpected arrival on the scene of her work rival and nemesis, Jason Knightly. The story of Chelsea revisiting her past with an eye to her future was pure delight and full of laughs.

THE WINDSOR KNOT by S J Bennett This mystery not only takes place at Windsor Castle, but Queen Elizabeth II actually orchestrates the investigation of a young Russian pianist who met with a suspicious death in one of the castle bedrooms during a “dine and sleep.” The actual investigation is carried out by Assistant Private Secretary, Rozie Oshodi, aided by subtle suggestions from the queen. Rozie is clever and resourceful and the story is filled with little details of royal life. I loved it and can’t wait for the next.  

I devoured Rhys Bowen’s stand-alone novel, THE VENICE SKETCHBOOK in one weekend. The story is told in dual timelines. In 1938 art teacher Juliet (Lettie) Browning has brought her class to Venice for a study trip. Juliet had visited the city ten years earlier and hopes to reconnect with the man she left behind. At the turn of the 21st century Caroline’s ex-husband has left her in England for a more exciting life in New York City and she’s (rightfully) concerned that he plans to keep their son in his custody. She receives a bequest from her late great aunt Lettie—a sketchbook, three keys, and the request to scatter her ashes in Venice. Caroline travels to Venice with the sketchbook and the keys, clues that when deciphered, reveal a new chapter in Letty’s life. Juliet and Caroline’s story ultimately weave together to form a satisfying though bittersweet conclusion.

A ROGUE’S COMPANY by Allison Montclair is the third book in the Sparks and Bainbridge mystery series. Set in London after WWII, Iris Sparks and Gwendolyn Bainbridge, two opposites who work perfectly together. Both women are recovering from the effects of the war. Gwen lost her husband, the love of her life, and now has a precarious relationship with her in-laws with whom she lives along with her young son. Iris did things during the war that she’d rather not talk abou.t. Together have formed a marriage bureau, The Right Sort. As in the first two books, a client sets in motion their next adventure/mystery. This time the crime strikes at the center of Gwen’s family and she finds that she is stronger than she, or the reader, thought. In order to help her partner, Iris has to call in a favor which gives the reader a glimpse into her past. The mystery is twisty but the characters are what make me devour each book in this series.

DENIED by Mary Keliikoa. This second book in the PI Kelly Pruett series is just as loaded with twists, turns, secrets, and lies as the first. Kelly thinks she’s taken on a simple missing person’s case for an old friend, but it quickly becomes clear that nothing is straightforward about this case or the victim. Though the plot is engrossing and suspenseful, the best part is Kelly Pruett herself, so well-developed she steps right off the page, full of tenacious stubbornness and humanity. I can’t wait for her next case.

 How many ways did I love WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES by Denny S. Bryce? The dual time line was handled deftly. Sawyer in 2015 is trying to authenticate a piece of film by interviewing centenarian Miss Honoree about her life in the 1920s. The history was fascinating—black life in 1920s Chicago, Bronzeville, Jazz, poverty, riches, dreams, and ambitions. The mystery reveals itself slowly and there’s a bit of romance, which I loved. The story-telling was enticing. I was involved before I even knew I was interested. It was hard to put down and though the end was satisfying, I hated to say goodbye to the characters.

MURDER AT MALLOWAN HALL by Colleen Cambridge takes the reader to the English countryside and the home of famous author, Agatha Christie, for a wonderful mystery. But when a dead body is found in the library during a house party, the sleuth is her housekeeper, Phyllida Bright. Phillida is a former army nurse, confident, intelligent, and an admirer of Christie’s character, Hercule Poirot, whom she styles herself after. It’s amazing to watch her manage the servants, the guests, and the police while she uses her little grey cells to analyze the clues that lead to the killer, all while running the household. This is a fabulous start to a new series!

 I just finished DOWN A DARK RIVER by Karen Odden. This is the first book in a new series set in London in 1878 and featuring Inspector Michael Corravan. Corravan is working on a missing woman case when he’s called in on another case involving a dead woman found in a small boat on the Thames. Not the same woman, but as the inspector works the case it slowly becomes clear that the murders of the women are linked to an act from the past. Corravan is a fully fleshed out character, relatable and flawed. The mystery is intricately woven and London, both the posh neighborhoods and the slums, simply jump off the page. A beautifully written and satisfying book!

What have you been reading this year? Any recommendations?

Wishing all of you happy holidays and lots of books in the coming year!

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A Bride’s Guide to Marriage and Murder

To me it feels like A Fiancée’s Guide to First Wives and Murder just released, but things are already in motion at my publisher for the next book, A Bride’s Guide to Marriage and Murder! I just finished copy edits and–I have a cover! 

Yes, Frances and George will be walking down the aisle in this book. But honestly, they should have known they couldn’t have a quiet, simple wedding. Here’s a little bit about the book:

On the eve of her marriage to George Hazelton, Frances has a great deal more on her mind than flowers and seating arrangements. The Connors and the Bainbridges, two families of American robber barons, have taken up residence in London, and their bitter rivalry is spilling over into the highest social circles. At the request of her brother, Alonzo, who is quite taken with Miss Madeline Connor, Frances has invited the Connor family to her wedding. Meanwhile, Frances’s mother has invited Mr. Bainbridge, and Frances fears the wedding may end up being newspaper-worthy for all the wrong reasons.

On the day itself, Frances is relieved to note that Madeline’s father is not among the guests assembled at the church. The reason for his absence, however, turns out to be most unfortunate: Mr. Connor is found murdered in his home. More shocking still, Alonzo is caught at the scene, holding the murder weapon.

Powerful and ruthless, Connor appears to have amassed a wealth of enemies alongside his fortune. Frances and George agree to put their wedding trip on hold to try and clear Alonzo’s name. But there are secrets to sift through, not just in the Bainbridge and Connor families, but also in their own. And with a killer determined to evade discovery at any cost—even if it means taking another life—Frances’s first days as a newlywed will be perilous indeed . .
.

Are you intrigued? I hope so! The book releases June 28, 2022, but you can pre-order from your favorite bookstore right here.

Since George and Frances were to get married in this book, I had to learn a bit more about late Victorian wedding ceremonies and receptions, which, surprisingly, weren’t that much different than today. Here are a few Victorian wedding details that I found interesting.

According to Goodey’s Lady’s Book the reasonable cost of a wedding gown in 1850 was $500! By 1861 the more elaborate gowns could cost as much as $1,500. This was when a furnished house in London’s west end could cost 5 – 25 pounds a week.

A bride who is marrying for a second time could wear a shade of white, but no orange blossoms, which were intended to signify purity. She was also not expected to have attendants.

In the late Victorian era, black was suggested as an appropriate color for the mother of the bride.

Weddings were held in the morning and a wedding breakfast followed usually at the home of the bride’s parents. Unless there was room in the house for tables to be set up, the guests were served standing. There was no entertainment as the honor was in attending the wedding itself.

The wedding cake was very different from what we have today. It was usually a rum-soaked fruitcake, covered in white icing and heavily decorated. Because of the high fruit content, the cakes were very heavy. Because of the high alcohol content, they could last for a remarkably long time. Queen Victoria’s wedding cake was 14 inches tall with a 10-foot circumference.

It is reported to weigh in at 300 pounds! All the guests were given a slice in a decorative box. Boxed slices of her cake have come up for auction as recently as 2018! (Above images are from Royal.UK)

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The Victorian Life

I’ve been off social media and laying low for the past few weeks. My back surgery was successful and now that I’m out of the hospital and back home, my life feels a little like that of a Victorian lady.

Have you ever wondered how it felt to spend all day, every day in a corset? I don’t wonder any longer. My back brace is pretty much the same thing. It fastens in front with Velcro, then you pull out those little handles to tighten the laces in back. (see pic below) I’m supposed to wear it “comfortably snug” but the problem is that what’s comfortably snug in the morning feels like a torture device by the afternoon, and while it provides me with much-needed stability, I can’t wait to get rid of it. Three more weeks sounds like a nightmare, but I think it will become more comfortable as my incision heals. For the record, I have no problem breathing in it, but that’s also because I’m not moving around like a ball of fire these days. A Victorian fainting couch would be perfect because I am still SO TIRED all the time!

Tired or not, I must walk! Because I’m a little wobbly, I’m not allowed out without my footman—okay, it’s really my husband, but he’s there to keep my on my feet and carry things for me. And while this isn’t particularly a Victorian notion, he’s been stuck cleaning up after me which is perfectly ironic. I realized shortly after we were married that I apparently signed up for walking along behind him with a mop and a dust rag. He doesn’t move without a cup of coffee in his hand and the coffee almost never stays in the cup. Trash doesn’t go into the trash can. It goes on the counter next to the trash can. He has a similar affliction with laundry and the laundry basket.

Well, I am unintentionally getting my revenge. The first two weeks after surgery my hand-eye coordination was really off. I dropped, spilled, or knocked over everything! AND I’m not allowed to bend over, so guess who has to pick up behind me? (No, I don’t find this humorous at all!) I’m also amazed at how many times I can miss the wastebasket.

Dan has actually been great, but I am getting really restless which I think means I’m feeling better!

Aside from walking, dropping things, and sleeping, I’ve done quite a bit of reading since I came home. Here are a few of the books I really enjoyed!

Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor

This is the first book in the Chronicles of St Mary’s series and was recommended in a historical group I’m in. It’s not historical, however, but time travel. I think it was mentioned as a series that ought to be a movie and boy, do I agree. The main character, Madeline Maxwell is recruited by St Mary’s Institute of Historical Research not just to study history but to visit it. These historians go back in time to gather information about huge events in history. For anyone who loves history or has gotten lost in historical research this is your series! The events and images come alive on the page and of course things rarely go according to plan. It’s pure historical adventure! The first book was wonderful and I intend to go back for more. I highly recommend it!

Lyin’ Eyes by Julie Mulhern

I started reading Julie Mulhern’s Country Club Murders series in 2020 and they were just the thing to get me out of a reading slump. Lyin’ Eyes is book 13, so I caught up quickly, easy to do because they are fast-paced humorous who-dun-it’s with a cast of delightful characters. The series takes place in the 1970s among the country club class in Kansas City, MO and feature main character, Ellison Russell, who seems to be cursed with the ability to find dead bodies everywhere she goes. This time she finds a pair of them just before her wedding to detective Anarchy Jones. Fortunately, he passes the case off to his partner. Unfortunately, Ellison becomes a suspect. Between solving the case, preparing for the wedding, and dealing with uncooperative family members, this book just keeps the mystery and the laughs coming!

Infamous by Minerva Spencer

This book brings all my favorite literary things together! There’s a historical setting, Christmas in England, a bit of a mystery, and romance times two! I love Minerva Spencer’s historical romance because she can be counted on to bring certain things—witty dialog, believable characters, and a bit of adventure. I don’t know if it’s because of the dual romance in this book or if it’s because of Christmas, but there’s just something extra in this story that makes it my favorite in the series!

Next up for me is Her Name is Knight by Yasmin Angoe

The main character, Nena Knight is billed as a female Jason Bourne and I’m eager to dig in to this one! The book doesn’t release until November 1st, but it’s an Amazon Prime First Reads selection this month. If you’re a Prime member, you are part of the First Reads program. Check it out!

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