Book Beginnings on Friday and Book Blogger Hop – June 24, 2022

Book Beginnings on Fridays is hosted each week by Rose City Reader. It’s a chance to share the first sentence or so of the book you are reading this week. You can check out others’ book beginnings here.

My book beginning:

In the middle of Hickory Lane grew a neighborhood garden, a circular patch of vibrant land that fit snugly into the footprint of the wide dead-end street, a cul-de-sac.

Did that grab your attention? And if the first line didn’t, what about that stunning cover?! This is one of my most anticipated books of the year, and so far, I am loving it! Keep an eye out for a review in the not-too-distant future!

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer. It starts each Friday and runs through the following Thursday. Each week, there’s a new prompt featuring a book-related question. It’s designed to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, make new blogging friends, and gain followers. See what others have to say on this topic and link up your own post here.

My reading preference is overwhelmingly fiction. I read a lot of serious stuff in law school, and now I proofread and edit a lot of nonfiction. So when I’m reading purely for fun, I gravitate toward fiction. Cozy mystery, fantasy, thriller, romance, whatever grabs my attention. I will pick up the occasional nonfiction book if the subject catches my eye or there’s something I want to learn about, but nonfiction is much more my husband’s jam than mine!

What’s your reading preference?

Happy Friday, y’all!

Posted in Book Beginnings on Fridays, Book Blogger Hop, Book Memes | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Deadly Keepsakes by Anita Dickason | Lone Star Book Blog Tours

Y’all know how much I loved Anita Dickason’s Deadly Business. So it is my pleasure to help spread the good word about her upcoming book, Deadly Keepsakes! Scroll on down to pre-order your copy, and enter the giveaway, too!

A Tori Winters Mystery
Publisher: Mystic Circle Books
Coming July 10, 2022
Number of Pages: 360 pages
Scroll down for Giveaway!

The past becomes the future. Secrets that can kill!

After someone tries to kill her, Tori Winters is on the run. Looking for a place to hide, a mysterious phone call about a vague inheritance seems to be the answer. After all, who would think of looking for her in Granbury, a small quaint Texas town. Instead, her life is about to spin into an existence where nothing is as it seems. The historic house she inherits has secrets. Ones she’s been warned can kill. A stranger in a strange town, who can she trust? There is the kindly lawyer and his son, or the disinherited step-grandson. What secrets do they hide? Tori’s newfound fortune may not be a blessing. It could become her death warrant.
Award-winning Author Anita Dickason is a twenty-two-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department. She served as a patrol officer, undercover narcotics detective, advanced accident investigator, tactical officer, and first female sniper on the Dallas SWAT team.
Anita writes about what she knows, cops and crime. Her police background provides an unending source of inspiration for her plots and characters. Many incidents and characters portrayed in her books are based on personal experience. For her, the characters are the fun part of writing as she never knows where they will take her. There is always something out of the ordinary in her stories.
In Anita’s debut novel, Sentinels of the Night, she created an elite FBI Unit, the Trackers. Since then, she has added three more Tracker crime thrillers, Going Gone!, A u 7 9, and Operation Navajo, which are not a series and can be read in any order, and Deadly Business, a crime thriller.
As a Texas author, many of Anita’s books are based in Texas, or there is a link to Texas. When she stepped outside of the Tracker novels and wrote, Not Dead, she selected Meridian, a small community in central Texas for the location.
Receive Deadly Keepsakes tote bags
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 6/23/2022)
Posted in Book Blitz, Lone Star Book Blog Tours, Lone Star Literary Life, Mystery, Suspense | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Book Review and Giveaway: Among the Innocent by Mary Alford | Lone Star Book Blog Tours


Genre: Fiction / Christian / Suspense
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: June 7, 2022
Number of Pages: 304 pages
Scroll down for Giveaway!
When Leah Miller’s entire Amish family was murdered ten years ago, the person believed responsible took his own life. Since then, Leah left the Amish and joined the police force. Now, after another Amish woman is found murdered with the same MO, it becomes clear that the wrong man may have been blamed for her family’s deaths.
As Leah and the new police chief, Dalton Cooper, work long hours struggling to fit the pieces together in order to catch the killer, they can’t help but grow closer. When secrets from both of their pasts begin to surface, an unexpected connection between them is revealed. But this is only the beginning. Could it be that the former police chief framed an innocent man to keep the biggest secret of all buried? And what will it mean for Leah–and Dalton–when the full truth comes to light?
USA Today bestselling author Mary Alford keeps you guessing as two determined souls plumb the dark depths of the past in order to forge a brighter future–together.
“Readers will be compelled to keep turning the pages until they uncover the truth behind a dark legacy hidden behind lies and madness. Highly recommended.” Nancy Mehl, author of the Quantico Files

“Among the Innocent is no buggy ride but a race to stop a killer.” –DiAnn Mills, bestselling and award-winning author of Trace of Doubt

Among the Innocent had me glued to the page from the start. Dishes sat in the sink and chores piled up until I finished it. I highly recommend this story!” Patricia Bradley, author of Crosshairs

“Mary Alford proves she’s a master storyteller with Among the Innocent. Expect an adrenaline rush on every page.” — Debby Giusti, author of Smugglers in Amish Country

After her family was brutally murdered before her eyes ten years ago, Leah Miller left the Amish community. The man believed to have committed the crime is thought to be dead. So why, as the tenth anniversary of the murders approaches, are Amish girls being killed? And why is their killer apparently setting his sights on Leah? Leah, now in law enforcement, will have to work with new chief Dalton Cooper to unravel the clues and solve the crime before the killer gets up close and personal with Leah herself.

MAN, this is a heck of a read! It’s got suspense by the bucketful, as the killer continually taunts Leah and always seems to be one step ahead. The tension builds as the anniversary of her family’s murders draws nearer and as the victims are increasingly closer to Leah. Alford includes the killer’s point of view in the story, too, which helps keep the pressure on.

There’s an element of romance, too, as Leah and  Dalton develop feelings for each other. It’s a little bit of an insta-romance, but not entirely, as Dalton has a connection to the case that he’s reluctant to reveal. His personal interest gives him at least a little pause before he lets himself act on his interest in Leah. I found his personal connection fascinating, and thought it added a nice touch to the story.

Marge, Leah’s adoptive mother, is battling dementia. I thought Alford did a masterful job of portraying the difficulties Leah faced trying to help an aging parent cope, as well as the pain Marge felt in her lucid moments, realizing her grip on her memories was slipping. I wanted to reach in and hug them both, because that’s a rough thing to deal with.

As you might expect with a book where many of the characters are part of a religious community, faith in God definitely plays a role. Leah drifted away from her faith after her family was killed, and she struggles to find her way back. Dalton relies fairly heavily on his faith and has a fellow believer who he can talk to and be encouraged by. I do love a story where the faith portrayed isn’t tacked on as an afterthought, but is an integral and important part of the characters’ lives.

And lest you think I thought this book was perfect, there was one teeny-weeny thing that stuck in my craw just a little. When Leah learned of Dalton’s personal interest in the case, she took it poorly. Understandably, she felt hurt that he hadn’t trusted her with that sooner. Yet, in just a couple of pages, they’re back on good terms, with very little said about the matter. This one thing felt super rushed to me and I would think that situation would play out differently in real life. In the grand scheme, though, that was but a minor blip on my enjoyment of the story.

Overall, this was a great read. Lots of twists and turns, insight into the killer’s thoughts without overly gory descriptions of crime scenes, characters who rely on their faith and each other, and just enough romance to keep it interesting. And I learned something! I had no idea there were Amish communities in Montana. I had to go look up St. Ignatius. Beautiful country up there. I’d love to visit.

Five stars to Mary Alford for a ripping good thrill ride of a book!

Mary Alford is a USA Today bestselling author who loves giving her readers the unexpected, combining unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots that result in stories the reader can’t put down. Her titles have been finalists for several awards, including the Daphne Du Maurier, the Beverly, the Maggie, and the Selah. She and her husband live in the heart of Texas in the middle of 70 acres with two cats and one dog.
Copies of Among the Innocent
+ $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble.

(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 6/17/2022)
Posted in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Christian Fiction, Lone Star Book Blog Tours, Lone Star Literary Life, Revell, Revell Reads, Suspense | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog Tour and Book Review: Breaking Time by Sasha Alsberg

By Sasha Alsberg
On Sale: June 14, 2022
YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Fantasy/ Epic/Romance

About the Book

Romance, Celtic mythology, and adventure swirl together in this time travel fantasy by #1 New York Times bestselling author, booktuber, and popular Outlander social media influencer Sasha Alsberg.

Fate brought them together. Time will tear them apart.

When a mysterious Scotsman suddenly appears in the middle of the road, Klara thinks the biggest problem is whether she hit him with her car. But, as impossible as it sounds, Callum has stepped out of another time, and his arrival marks the beginning of a deadly adventure.

Klara soon learns she is the last Pillar of Time—an anchor point in the timeline of the world. After being unable to protect the previous Pillar, Callum believes he’s fated to protect her. But now a dark force is hunting the Pillars—and Klara and Callum are the only two standing in the way. They’ll have to learn to trust each other and work together…but they’ll need to protect their hearts from one another if they’re going to survive

My review:

I had no idea who Sasha Alsberg was when I had the chance to join the blog tour for Breaking Time. I didn’t know she was a Booktuber/Instagrammer/content creator. The book just sounded like a dandy read. I do enjoy a good time travel story, after all, and my goodness, that gorgeous cover would draw anyone in. So my thoughts on the book aren’t affected by Ms. Alsberg’s internet presence or reputation.

It reminds me of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. The name similarity – Claire and Klara – caught my attention right off the bat. But thankfully, Breaking Time is not an Outlander clone. Clearly very heavily inspired by Outlander, but not a carbon copy.

Klara has returned to Scotland following her mother’s death, where she is helping her father run an inn. When a man appears unexpectedly in the road ahead of her, her immediate concern is whether she hit him. But it soon turns out she’s got bigger worries. The man, Callum, has traveled forward in time from the 1580s, and Klara is in danger.

Callum feels like he failed his friend Thomas in his own time when he couldn’t save Thomas from a killer. Now he thinks it’s his job to protect Klara, who is being pursued by the same dark entity. Klara is the last remaining Pillar of Time, and if her pursuer is able to take her out, it means a whole lot of bad things for life as we know it.

Things I enjoyed about the book: Time travel is always fun to play with. It’s interesting to see how Alsberg set hers up as compared to how other authors design it. Here, “thin places” in the world allow for time travel. Not stones, as in the Outlander series, but historical points of interest. Klara is a likeable young woman, and I appreciated the way that Alsberg presented and dealt with her neurodiversity in the form of dyslexia. And I really liked her grandmother! I wish we’d seen more of her character in the book.

Things I didn’t like: Having Callum’s Scottish accent written out was distracting. Knowing where he was from, I could have imagined it for myself just fine. The fact that he sometimes fell out of his accent didn’t help. He also seemed to generally accept his sudden time shift fairly easily, without a tremendous amount of confusion or suspicion about modern conveniences.

I don’t entirely understand WHY it was that he came to be transported into Klara’s time. Was it just happenstance, in the wrong place at the right time, and he just happens to have knowledge of events with Thomas that give him some insight into Klara’s situation? If that’s the case, that’s a lot of coincidence, that he’d end up in proximity to not one but two Pillars of Time (which I reckon aren’t all that common). And for the love of goodness, would a major library not have some security for its special collection books?! Pretty sure it would, but this one, apparently, did not.

And unless I’m missing something, Arianrhod is from Welsh mythology. The story takes place in Scotland. Scotland is not Wales. I’m not an avid student of Celtic mythology, and I get that country boundaries are not always firmly fixed. But it seems odd to use a goddess from the Welsh pantheon to give Klara, in Scotland, her special powers. Likewise, it seems odd that another Welsh figure, Llaw, would be made the Big Bad in Scotland. Maybe the Pillars of Time are worldwide, and so the forces involved don’t all have to be associated with the same location. I just wasn’t really expecting Welsh names in a book with a Scottish setting.

Klara’s maturity level is about what you’d expect from someone of an age to be considering college. It’s billed as YA, so that makes sense. The writing style was easy to read, and I didn’t have to focus deeply to follow the story.

Best book I’ve ever read? No, but it also isn’t the worst. It’s fair to middling, three stars. There’s clearly a setup for a sequel, but I haven’t decided yet if I’m interested enough in the outcome to keep reading. It’s a fun bit of brain candy, if you’re looking for a light, easy read for the summer.

Disclaimer: I received an advance review copy from Inkyard Press and NetGalley. All opinions here are mine and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

About the Author

Sasha Alsberg is the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Zenith, the first book in The Androma Saga. When Sasha is not writing or obsessing over Scotland, she is galavanting across social media with her two dogs, Fraser & Fiona. Sasha lives in London, England.

Social Links:

Author website: 

Twitter: @sashaalsberg

Instagram: @sashaalsberg


Posted in ARC Reads, Blog Tours, Contemporary Fiction, Harlequin Blog Tours, NetGalley, Time Travel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Short Story Sunday

I’m trying something new. I have no idea if it will be a regular thing or a once in a while thing or a one-off. I’m borrowing an idea from Sarah Addison Allen, writing a short story about a photo. Her stories are much better than mine, but I thought this might be fun. (Note: If I consider myself any kind of writer, I’m definitely a novice. Be kind.)

THWAP! “There,” Helen said smugly. “That takes care of that pesky fly.” She was in a rush to get to work on time, and thought to herself that she’d wipe that smear off the wall later. It wasn’t like it was going anywhere.

The smear caught her eye again as she finished up her evening routine. “Eh, it’ll wait until tomorrow,” she said as she turned out the light and stumbled into bed.

When morning came, Helen awoke to a low humming sound. She was greeted by a mass of small, buzzing flies covering her bathroom wall, forming a circle around the smear. They’d come to mourn their fallen comrade.

“It’s going to be a devil of a time clearing these out,” she sighed. “If only I’d taken time to clean sooner.”

Posted in In Which I Attempt to Write | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Sunflowers Beneath the Snow by Teri M. Brown

  • Title: Sunflowers Beneath the Snow
  • Author: Teri M. Brown
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Genre: Historical Fiction, Political Fiction
  • Would I recommend: Definitely! This is a wonderful work of historical fiction (and based on a true story!).


A Ukrainian rebel. Three generations of women bearing the consequences. A journey that changes everything.

When Ivanna opens the door to uniformed officers, her tranquil life is torn to pieces – leaving behind a broken woman who must learn to endure cold, starvation, and the memories of a man who died in the quintessential act of betrayal. Using her thrift, ingenuity, and a bit of luck, she finds a way to survive in Soviet Ukraine, along with her daughter, Yevtsye. But the question remains, will she be strong enough to withstand her daughter’s deceit and the eventual downfall of the nation she has devoted her life to? Or will the memories of her late husband act as a shadow haunting everyone and everything she loves, including Ionna, the granddaughter that never knew him?

In Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, Teri M. Brown explores the tenacity of women, showing that even in grueling circumstances, they can, and do, experience all the good things life has to offer – compassion, joy, love, faith, and wonder.

My review:

Sunflowers Beneath the Snow follows the story of Lyaksandro and Ivanna from 1973 to 2021. Lyaksandro is in an untenable situation. His cover as a spy for Ukraine has been blown. He is considering ending his own life to protect his wife, Ivanna and daughter, Yevtsye (Yevt) from the Russians. A way out is offered, but he must cut ties with his family completely and leave them thinking he has betrayed them in the most painful way possible.

Ivanna finds the strength to move forward, to provide for Yevt and herself under the harsh conditions of Soviet rule. In spite of their difficulties, though, Ivanna is a believer in the Communist system. As Yevt grows, she doesn’t always agree with her mother, and she marries a man who shares her subversive beliefs. They have a daughter, Ionna, who shares a wonderful bond with her babusya Ivanna even as she grows into beliefs of her own and goes out into the wider world.

But this is not only the story of three women and the efforts they make to maintain family and some kind of stability in difficult times. It is the story of the Ukrainian people, fighting to throw off oppressive Soviet rule and bloom as an independent country. Ivanna clings to her belief in the Soviet system. Yevtsye insists that there is a better way, that Ukrainian independence is the path forward. Ionna actually leaves her country and sees for herself that there is more than the harsh reality of life under the shadow of the USSR.

And though they didn’t share the same beliefs and sometimes fought over their differences, Ivanna, Yevt, and Ionna are all strong women who care deeply for their family. They adapt to difficult circumstances, find ways to keep their relationship in good order even when they disagree, and do what is necessary to keep moving forward.

Brown has clearly done her research, and the story she shares here resonates with today’s headlines of war between Russia and Ukraine. I knew that Russia had previously invaded Ukraine, but I didn’t know any of the details. I learned about it reading this story. I suspect there are people like Ionna, who were out of their country and now find themselves stranded, far from loved ones, unable to return. I can’t imagine what a struggle that is, and Brown writes her characters in such a way that you feel the hurt they feel. The true story on which this book is based must be remarkably compelling.

Brown’s writing style is easy to read, too. The pages flowed, and I stayed up reading until I dropped my Kindle on my face on more than one occasion. She covers sensitive political and personal topics – the reality of Soviet control, family members who disagree with each other, racism – with grace and flashes of humor, too.

The story portrays struggles, but also has a beautiful ending. I won’t spoil it for you here. Go support the author – buy her book and find out for yourself! But it had me reaching for the Kleenex, I’ll say that. I wouldn’t say this is strongly Christian fiction, but faith in God definitely plays a role.

Five stars for a story that both packs an emotional punch and educates the reader about historical events. Well done, Teri Brown! I look forward to reading more of your books.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy from the author. All opinions are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

Posted in Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Donut Disturb (A Bakeshop Mystery #15) by Ellie Alexander

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme that highlights books soon to be released, the ones we’re excited about but haven’t read yet. It’s hosted by Wishful Endings, and was formerly hosted by Breaking the Spine. Y’all can check out all of this week’s Can’t-Wait Wednesday posts here.

Title: Donut Disturb

Author: Ellie Alexander

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Publication Date: June 28, 2022

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press


The filling is looking grim for pastry chef and amateur sleuth Juliet Capshaw in Donut Disturb, the next in Ellie Alexander’s beloved Bakeshop Series.

Love is in bloom in Ashland, Oregon. The Shakespearean hamlet is bursting with fresh spring energy. Fragrant lilacs and the sweet aroma of vanilla cake fill the air as everyone in town gathers at Lithia Park for the celebration of the year—Thomas and Kerry’s wedding.

It’s a picture perfect day. Guests gather on picnic blankets in front of the bandshell to watch Kerry walk down the aisle and wed Ashland’s favorite detective in training, Thomas. Jules and her team at Torte have been tasked with catering the outdoor reception and everything is going according to plan, until a wedding crasher shows up.

The uninvited guest isn’t just someone looking to score a free glass of champagne. It’s Kerry’s estranged father who is supposed to be behind bars. Kerry is distraught. Jules vows to do everything she can to make sure that there are no other surprises on her friend’s big day. But when the bassist for Heart Strings, the wedding band, is found stabbed with the blunt end of his instrument Jules’s promise takes on new meaning. Now she’ll have to slice through the five tiered cake and a bevy of potential suspects in order to track down a killer before they turn the knife on her. 

My thoughts:

I love the Bakeshop Mysteries! It’s always a treat to visit Ashland to see what Jules and her crew have going on. The characters are interesting, I enjoy all the discussions about food and Shakespeare, and the mystery is almost always intriguing. I’m looking forward to this one!

What do you think? Have you read any of the Bakeshop Mysteries? If not, do they sound like something you’d enjoy?

Posted in Book Memes, Can't-Wait Wednesday | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Sunburst (Sky King Ranch #2) by Susan May Warren

  • Title: Sunburst
  • Series: Sky King Ranch #2
  • Author: Susan May Warren
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Genre: Christian Fiction, Suspense, Adventure, Romance
  • Would I recommend: Absolutely! Susan May Warren packs her stories full of adventure, suspense, romance, and faith, and this one is well worth the read.


When former Navy SEAL and lifelong bachelor Ranger Kingston is called upon to take part in a rescue mission to save his brother Colt, who has been kidnapped by terrorists in Nigeria, he is shocked to find among the hostages a woman he knows and could never forget.

Noemi Sutton was attempting to return a young girl to her family in Boko Haram territory when she and the girl found themselves taken hostage, along with several others.

And while Ranger Kingston may be able to get the hostages away from their captors, he’ll need Noemi’s help if he ever hopes to get out of Nigeria alive.

Her solution? Pose as husband and wife. But when her uncle discovers the union, he insists on a traditional Nigerian wedding–binding Noemi to a man destined to break her heart. Worse, she’s discovered the real reason she was kidnapped, and anyone around her is bound to be caught in the cross fire. Including her so-called new husband.

She’ll need to figure out a way to leave the man she loves if she wants to save his life.

USA Today bestselling author Susan May Warren throws you into the thick of the action in this high-stakes, globe-trotting romance. 

My review:

I loved Sunrise, the first in the Sky King Ranch series. When a book is that good, you wonder if the next in the series can live up to the high standard the first one set. In the case of Sunburst, the answer is a resounding yes.

Ranger Kingston is on a mission to rescue his brother Colt, who’s been taken hostage by terrorists. He doesn’t expect to find someone else that he knows among the people they’re trying to free. Noemi Sutton was captured when she was on a humanitarian mission. She never thought she’d see Ranger Kingston again, and certainly not in the middle of nowhere, Nigeria.

Ranger and Noemi have a history of mutual attraction, but it ended on a sour note. Now, when they find themselves separated from the rest of the rescue mission, the only way they can possibly survive and get out of Nigeria is to pretend they’re married. But when they find Noemi’s family on her mother’s side—and her uncle is an actual Nigerian prince who wants to do their wedding up right—can they maintain that facade?

Warren does it again. She creates a world where the characters are genuine, the action is enthralling, and the romance is ultimately sweet. Ranger and Noemi are almost maddening at times with their struggles to move past old hurts and take a chance on building a new relationship. But Warren shows us why they struggle, and that makes it easy to have compassion for them. Like any of us walking this earth, they have baggage and issues and fears, and they each have to work through those things in their own ways.

It was quite a surprise to have Noemi’s family turn out to be actual royalty! Her uncle and the rest of her family members were just a joy to read about. Warren uses that part of the story arc to share a bit about Nigerian culture with the reader, and I loved it. I know very little about Nigeria, and I always appreciate the chance to learn something when I’m reading. I also loved that they just welcomed Noemi back, no hassle, no headache. She was family, and she was home, and that made my heart so happy!

As always, Warren does a masterful job of making faith an integral part of the story without beating you over the head with a King James Bible. It isn’t a blind faith. It’s a faith that sometimes wavers. The characters have to wrestle with God and work some things out. Noemi struggles to trust that God is with her, while Ranger wrangles with issues that go to the heart of who he thinks he truly is. But they ultimately find their faith strengthened by the trials they face, and we can find encouragement in that.

You can read Sunburst as a stand-alone; however, I highly recommend starting with Sunrise and seeing the entire story arc unfold. Susan May Warren has written another bang-up good Christian romantic suspense novel, and I eagerly await the third in the series!

Disclaimer: I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley and Revell. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

Posted in Adventure, Book Reviews, Christian Fiction, Revell Reads, Romance, Suspense | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review and Blog Tour: The French for Murder (A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery #10) by Verity Bright

Book: The French for Murder
Author: Verity Bright
Pub Day: May 30th 2022 

Buy Link: Amazon:

Book Description:

A grand villa, croissants for breakfast and a dead body in the wine cellar… Lady Swift can’t seem to take a vacation from murder!

Summer 1923. Lady Eleanor Swift is finally persuaded by her butler, Clifford, to take a villa in the south of France for the season. She plans to do what a glamorous lady abroad should: long lunches on the balcony followed by lazy afternoons lounging by the pool. Even Gladstone the bulldog is looking forward to a daily paddle in the ocean.

But when Clifford examines the wine cellar, he discovers there are no decent reds but there is a very dead body. The victim is famous American movie star Rex Armstrong. Poor Rex seems to have been stabbed with a sword from the film set. So how did he end up in Eleanor’s villa?

Before Eleanor even has time to change out of her travelling suit, her beloved butler is arrested for the crime. At sea without her right-hand man, Eleanor must gather her wits if she’s to outsmart a murderer and save Clifford.

Attending a glitzy party at the luxurious Hotel Azure with the film’s cast and crew so she can question her main suspects, Eleanor overhears the director having a most unsettling telephone call that throws all her theories out of the water. Can Eleanor unmask the true killer before her time abroad is cut murderously short?

A gripping historical murder mystery full of charm and intrigue, set in the beautiful French Riviera. Fans of Agatha Christie, T E Kinsey and Lee Strauss will adore The French for Murder.

My review:

I just love Lady Eleanor! She’s taking a little R and R on the French Riviera, along with Clifford, her canine companion Gladstone, and her staff. Nothing is on the agenda except some fun and sun. She doesn’t believe Clifford when he tells her that there’s a dead body in the wine cellar of their rented villa. And she really can’t believe it when the French police arrest none other than Clifford for the dirty deed.

Bless her heart, Ellie can’t get away from crime-solving even on her vacation. The officer handling the case, Inspector Damboise, knows they don’t really have anything on Clifford. His incarceration is largely at the behest of Mayor Lessard, who would rather see an innocent Brit take the fall than risk upsetting the boisterous American movie folks who are in town (and no doubt bolstering the local economy by rather a lot). After all, the dead man is one of those movie folks. Mayor Lessard doesn’t even want word to get out that the man was murdered for fear of putting all Americans (and their money) off the idea of coming to his little seaside town. A deal is made. Clifford can go free, but only if Ellie finds evidence to prove who really committed the crime.

Inspector Damboise joins forces with Ellie and Clifford as they all work to solve the murder. There are seaside jaunts, lavish parties, and hair-raising twists aplenty as Ellie discovers that many people had good reason to dislike the dead man and even want him dead. Can she put the pieces together and identify the killer before Clifford is thrown in the clink for good?

Verity Bright has gifted us with another delightful read! Ellie is sharp as always, and even with the threat of prison hanging over his head, Clifford keeps his cool and does his best to keep Her Ladyship in line. They offer such a charming contrast to each other. Clifford, so proper and so mindful of doing things correctly. Eleanor, such a free spirit and so not bound by the expectations for her class and gender (she reminds me a bit of Phryne Fisher in the Miss Fisher Mysteries). In this story, though, we get a little peek at Clifford’s backstory, and that’s a lot of fun. Has our butler always been as buttoned up as we usually see him? How HAS he picked up so many diverse and interesting skills? Read and find out!

And my goodness, what descriptions of the Americans come to town! They rented out an entire hotel, threw over the top parties, and generally made spendy nuisances of themselves. After reading about those shenanigans, I could see why some Europeans might think of their American cousins in less than flattering terms. That’s a lifestyle that just sounds exhausting to me.

The mystery kept me guessing, as each new clue that seemed poised to blow the case wide open invariably came to nothing, more than once. Bright does a great job of keeping multiple options open and then bringing them together in a flash of brilliance, just in time. I did miss Hugh Seldon in this book. He only made his appearance by telephone. I hope their time apart gave Ellie and Hugh a new perspective on their relationship, and maybe we’ll see things progress a little more between them in the next book!

An engaging story, a beautiful setting on the French Riviera, lots of action, witty dialogue, interesting characters, and an ending that I didn’t see a mile away. This would be a great summer read, and I highly recommend it for cozy mystery lovers!

Author Bio:

Verity Bright is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing partnership that has spanned a quarter of a century. Starting out writing high-end travel articles and books, they published everything from self-improvement to humour, before embarking on their first historical mystery. They are the authors of the fabulous Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery series, set in the 1920s.

Posted in ARC Reads, Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Bookouture, Cozy Mystery, Historical Fiction, Mystery, NetGalley | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Book Review and Giveaway: Stealing Time (Stealing Time, #1)by KJ Waters | Lone Star Book Blog Tours


Stealing Time

Shattering Time

Killing Time



Time Travel / Suspense / Romance / Alt History / Mystery

Publisher: Blondie Books


Scroll down for Giveaway!


Stealing Time, December 20, 2014, 319 pages

A devastating hurricane. A time travel betrayal. Will Ronnie survive the witch hunt or forever be lost in time?

Stealing Time is the first book in the “breathtakingly original” Stealing Time Series of time travel wrapped in a hurricane. If you like strong-willed modern women and gripping stories that transport you back in time, then you’ll love KJ Waters’s Books.

As Hurricane Charley churns a path of destruction towards Orlando, Florida, Ronnie Andrews scrambles to prepare for the storm and seeks shelter at her boyfriend’s weather lab. What she finds there is more terrifying than Mother Nature’s destruction.

During the peak of the hurricane, Ronnie is hurtled back in time to eighteenth-century London where she is caught in a web of superstition, deception, and lies in a life and death struggle to return to her own time. Her best friend Steph is thrust into the middle of the hurricane.

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lone Star Book Blog Tours, Lone Star Literary Life, Sci-Fi | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments