Blog Tour The Princess Plan

Hello Lovelies,

Today I have partnered with Harlequin Romance Publishing, and the author,

The Princess Plan 

London, Julia 


Mass Market | HQN Books | A Royal Wedding 

On Sale: 11/19/2019  



$10.99 CAN


Princes have pomp and glory—not murdered secretaries and crushes on commoners

Nothing gets London’s high society’s tongues wagging like a good scandal. And when the personal secretary of the visiting Prince Sebastian of Alucia is found murdered, it’s all anyone can talk about, including Eliza Tricklebank. Her unapologetic gossip gazette has benefitted from an anonymous tip about the crime, prompting Sebastian to take an interest in playing detective—and an even greater one in Eliza.

With a trade deal on the line and mounting pressure to secure a noble bride, there’s nothing more salacious than a prince dallying with a commoner. Sebastian finds Eliza’s contrary manner as frustrating as it is seductive, but they’ll have to work together if they’re going to catch the culprit. And when things heat up behind closed doors, it’s the prince who’ll have to decide what comes first—his country or his heart.




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Julia London is the New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly best-selling author of more than forty romantic fiction novels. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Highland Grooms historical series, including  Wild Wicked Scot, Sinful Scottish LairdHard-Hearted HighlanderDevil in Tartan, Tempting the Laird and Seduced by a Scot.  She is also the author of several contemporary romances, including the Pine River Trilogy, her Lake Haven Series and her latest contemporaries, The Princes of Texas books.
Julia is the recipient of the RT Bookclub Award for Best Historical Romance and a six time finalist for the prestigious RITA award for excellence in romantic fiction.  She lives in Austin, Texas.

My thanks to Harlequin Romance Publishers for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Princess Plan” is the first book in a new series – “A Royal Wedding” by Julia London. It’s an enjoyable Victorian fairytale romance with thoroughly likable characters, an engaging plot and dialogue that’s charming, witty and warm and funny.

This enchanting book is the first in the, A Royal Wedding series, by Julia London.A wonderful historical romance. I swept away in this fairy tale with Eliza, a spinster and also commoner falls head over heels for Sebastian, a Prince.But can they have their fairy tale ending or will he realities of life get in the way?

A drama filled storyline, with a mystery, and maybe a murder murder. A captivating romance sure to please historical romance readers everywhere.The Princess Plan is well-written book, with a intriguing plot line . The characters are well developed and relatable and a storyline that flows smoothly at just the right pace to make this a spellbinding read. You will devour this in one sitting and will be held captive until the very end.


London 1845

All of London has been on tenterhooks, desperate for a glimpse of Crown Prince Sebastian of Alucia during his highly anticipated visit. Windsor Castle was the scene of Her Majesty’s banquet to welcome him. Sixty-and-one-hundred guests were on hand, feted in St. George’s Hall beneath the various crests of the Order of the Garter. Two thousand pieces of silver cutlery were used, one thousand crystal glasses and goblets. The first course and main dish of lamb and potatoes were served on silver-gilded plates, followed by delicate fruits on French porcelain.

Prince Sebastian presented a large urn fashioned of green Alucian malachite to our Queen Victoria as a gift from his father the King of Alucia. The urn was festooned with delicate ropes of gold around the mouth and the neck.

The Alucian women were attired in dresses of heavy silk worn close to the body, the trains quite long and brought up and fastened with buttons to facilitate walking. Their hair was fashioned into elaborate knots worn at the nape. The Alucian gentlemen wore formal frock coats of black superfine wool that came to midcalf, as well as heavily embroidered waistcoats worn to the hip. It was reported that Crown Prince Sebastian is “rather tall and broad, with a square face and neatly trimmed beard, a full head of hair the color of tea, and eyes the color of moss,” which the discerning reader might think of as a softer shade of green. It is said he possesses a regal air owing chiefly to the many medallions and ribbons he wore befitting his rank.

Honeycutt’s Gazette of Fashion and Domesticity for Ladies

The Right Honorable Justice William Tricklebank, a widower and justice of the Queen’s Bench in Her Majesty’s service, was very nearly blind, his eyesight having steadily eroded into varying and fuzzy shades of gray with age. He could no longer see so much as his hand, which was why his eldest daughter, Miss Eliza Tricklebank, read his papers to him.

Eliza had enlisted the help of Poppy, their housemaid, who was more family than servant, having come to them as an orphaned girl more than twenty years ago. Together, the two of them had anchored strings and ribbons halfway up the walls of his London townhome, and all the judge had to do was follow them with his hand to move from room to room. Among the hazards he faced was a pair of dogs that were far too enthusiastic in their wish to be of some use to him, and a cat who apparently wished him dead, judging by the number of times he put himself in the judge’s path, or leapt into his lap as he sat, or walked across the knitting the judge liked to do while his daughter read to him, or unravelled his ball of yarn without the judge’s notice.

The only other potential impediments to his health were his daughters—Eliza, a spinster, and her younger sister, Hollis, otherwise known as the Widow Honeycutt. They were often together in his home, and when they were, it seemed to him there was quite a lot of laughing at this and shrieking at that. His daughters disputed that they shrieked, and accused him of being old and easily startled. But the judge’s hearing, unlike his eyesight, was quite acute, and those two shrieked with laughter. Often.

At eight-and-twenty, Eliza was unmarried, a fact that had long baffled the judge. There had been an unfortunate and rather infamous misunderstanding with one Mr. Asher Daughton-Cress, who the judge believed was despicable, but that had been ten years ago. Eliza had once been demure and a politely deferential young lady, but she’d shed any pretense of deference when her heart was broken. In the last few years she had emerged vibrant and carefree. He would think such demeanour would recommend her to gentlemen far and wide, but apparently it did not. She’d had only one suitor since her very public scandal, a gentleman some fifteen years older than Eliza. Mr. Norris had faithfully called every day until one day he did not. When the judge had inquired, Eliza had said, “It was not love that compelled him, Pappa. I prefer my life here with you—the work is more agreeable, and I suspect not as many hours as marriage to him would require.”

His youngest, Hollis, had been tragically widowed after only two years of a marriage without issue. While she maintained her own home, she and her delightful wit were a faithful caller to his house at least once a day without fail, and sometimes as much as two or three times per day. He should like to see her remarried, but Hollis insisted she was in no rush to do so. The judge thought she rather preferred her sister’s company to that of a man.

His daughters were thick as thieves, as the saying went, and were coconspirators in something that the judge did not altogether approve of. But he was blind, and they were determined to do what they pleased no matter what he said, so he’d given up trying to talk any practical sense into them.

That questionable activity was the publication of a ladies’ gazette. Tricklebank didn’t think ladies needed a gazette, much less one having to do with frivolous subjects such as fashion, gossip and beauty. But say what he might, his daughters turned a deaf ear to him. They were unfettered in their enthusiasm for this endeavour, and if the two of them could be believed, so was all of London.

The gazette had been established by Hollis’s husband, Sir Percival Honeycutt. Except that Sir Percival had published an entirely different sort of gazette, obviously— one devoted to the latest political and financial news. Now that was a useful publication to the judge’s way of thinking.

Sir Percival’s death was the most tragic of accidents, the result of his carriage sliding off the road into a swollen river during a rain, which also saw the loss of a fine pair of grays. It was a great shock to them all, and the judge had worried about Hollis and her ability to cope with such a loss. But Hollis proved herself an indomitable spirit, and she had turned her grief into efforts to preserve her husband’s name. But as she was a young woman without a man’s education, and could not possibly comprehend the intricacies of politics or financial matters, she had turned the gazette on its head and dedicated it solely to topics that interested women, which naturally would be limited to the latest fashions and the most tantalizing on dits swirling about London’s high society. It was the judge’s impression that women had very little interest in the important matters of the world.

And yet, interestingly, the judge could not deny that Hollis’s version of the gazette was more actively sought than her husband’s had ever been. So much so that Eliza had been pressed into the service of helping her sister prepare her gazette each week. It was curious to Tricklebank that so many members of the Quality were rather desperate to be mentioned among the gazette’s pages.

Today, his daughters were in an unusually high state of excitement, for they had secured the highly sought-after invitations to the Duke of Marlborough’s masquerade ball in honor of the crown prince of Alucia. One would think the world had stopped spinning on its axis and that the heavens had parted and the seas had receded and this veritable God of All Royal Princes had shined his countenance upon London and blessed them all with his presence.


Everyone knew the prince was here to strike an important trade deal with the English government in the name of King Karl. Alucia was a small European nation with impressive wealth for her size. It was perhaps best known for an ongoing dispute with the neighboring country of Wesloria—the two had a history of war and distrust as fraught as that between England and France.

The judge had read that it was the crown prince who was pushing for modernization in Alucia, and who was the impetus behind the proposed trade agreement. Prince Sebastian envisioned increasing the prosperity of Alucia by trading cotton and iron ore for manufactured goods. But according to the judge’s daughters, that was not the most important part of the trade negotiations. The important part was that the prince was also in search of a marriage bargain.

“It’s what everyone says,” Hollis had insisted to her father over supper recently “And how is it, my dear, that everyone knows what the prince intends?” the judge asked as he stroked the cat, Pris, on his lap. The cat had been named Princess when the family believed it a female. When the houseman Ben discovered that Princess was, in fact, a male, Eliza said it was too late to change the name. So they’d shortened it to Pris. “Did the prince send a letter? Announce it in the Times?”

“Caro says,” Hollis countered, as if that were quite obvious to anyone with half a brain where she got her information. “She knows everything about everyone, Pappa.”

“Aha. If Caro says it, then by all means, it must be true.”

“You must yourself admit she is rarely wrong,” Hollis had said with an indignant sniff.

Caro, or Lady Caroline Hawke, had been a lifelong friend to his daughters, and had been so often underfoot in the Tricklebank house that for many years, it seemed to the judge that he had three daughters.

Caroline was the only sibling of Lord Beckett Hawke and was also his ward. Long ago, a cholera outbreak had swept through London, and both Caro’s mother and his children’s mother had succumbed. Amelia, his wife, and Lady Hawke had been dear friends. They’d sent their children to the Hawke summer estate when Amelia had taken ill. Lady Hawke had insisted on caring for her friend and, well, in the end, they were both lost.

Lord Hawke was an up-and-coming young lord and politician, known for his progressive ideas in the House of Lords. He was rather handsome, Hollis said, a popular figure, and socially in high demand. Which meant that, by association, so was his sister. She, too, was quite comely, which made her presence all the easier to her brother’s many friends, the judge suspected.

But Caroline did seem to know everyone in London, and was constantly calling on the Tricklebank household to spout the gossip she’d gleaned in homes across Mayfair. Here was an industrious young lady—she called on three salons a day if she called on one. The judge supposed her brother scarcely need worry about putting food in their cupboards, for the two of them were dining with this four-and-twenty or that ten-and-six almost every night. It was a wonder Caroline wasn’t a plump little peach.

Perhaps she was. In truth, she was merely another shadow to the judge these days.

“And she was at Windsor and dined with the queen,” Hollis added with superiority.

“You mean Caro was in the same room but one hundred persons away from the queen,” the judge suggested. He knew how these fancy suppers went.

“Well, she was there, Pappa, and she met the Alucians, and she knows a great deal about them now. I am quite determined to discover who the prince intends to offer for and announce it in the gazette before anyone else. Can you imagine? I shall be the talk of London!”

This was precisely what Mr. Tricklebank didn’t like about the gazette. He did not want his daughters to be the talk of London.

But it was not the day for him to make this point, for his daughters were restless, moving about the house with an urgency he was not accustomed to. Today was the day of the Royal Masquerade Ball, and the sound of crisp petticoats and silk rustled around him, and the scent of perfume wafted into his nose when they passed. His daughters were waiting impatiently for Lord Hawke’s brougham to come round and fetch them. Their masks, he was given to understand, had already arrived at the Hawke House, commissioned, Eliza had breathlessly reported, from “Mrs. Cubison herself.”

He did not know who Mrs. Cubison was.

And frankly, he didn’t know how Caro had managed to finagle the invitations to a ball at Kensington Palace for his two daughters—for the good Lord knew the Tricklebanks did not have the necessary connections to achieve such a feat.

He could feel their eagerness, their anxiety in the nervous pitch of their giggling when they spoke to each other. Even Poppy seemed nervous. He supposed this was to be the ball by which all other balls in the history of mankind would forever be judged, but he was quite thankful he was too blind to attend.

When the knock at the door came, he was startled by such squealing and furious activity rushing by him that he could only surmise that the brougham had arrived and the time had come to go to the ball.

Excerpted from The Princess Plan by Julia London, Copyright © 2019 by Dinah Dinwiddle. Published by HQN Books.


Julia London is a NYT, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of historical and contemporary romance. She is a six-time finalist for the RITA Award of excellence in romantic fiction, and the recipient of RT Bookclub’s Best Historical Novel.


Book Tour Child Of Love & Water

Hello Bookish Friends

Today I’m really excited to be taking part in the Book Tour of, Child Of Love & Water
by D.K. Marley, which is being hosted by HFBT

Child of Love and Water by D.K. Marley

Publication Date: October 19, 2018
The White Rabbit Publishing
eBook; 291 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

The year is 1722. A child is born on the isolated island of Ospo off the Georgia coast. In the midst of General Oglethorpe’s vision for this new land, and the emerging townships of Frederica and Savannah, four lives entwine together on this island like the woven fronds in a sea-grass basket – the orphaned Irish girl born free of hate or prejudice, a war-ravaged British soldier seeking forgiveness and absolution, a runaway Gullah slave girl desperate for a word of kindness on the wind, and a Creek Indian warrior searching for answers about this intrusion onto his homeland. What they learn from this wild innocent girl, and from each other, will change their lives forever.

A new birth, a new country, and the elements – Water, Wind, Fire, and Earth – entwine to teach one thing: Love conquers all. Love sees beyond borders. There is no ignorance in love.

Available on Amazon

Child of Love & Water , by D.K. Marley is incredible moving book, set mostly near the coastal islands of Georgia. An almost completely isolated island of Ospo, untouched and free.

Katherine (Katie) O’More, an Ulster Irish immigrant, settled on a small farm outside the Philadelphia community. Katie has experienced the loss of her mother and living under a dominating father. Surrounded by the religious turmoil of the Quakers and Puritans. At the age of 19 she marries without her fathers consent, to Quaker preacher, Nathaniel Meade. They join a group traveling south under harsh conditions.

Nathaniel takes a fever and dies, leaving already pregnant Katie completely alone. Arriving at end of her journey to the dense marshland of coastal Georgia, she has made up her mind to disappear. Leaving the the harsh realities of world to raise her child in love and Innocence.

Katie births a girl child and names her Muirin, meaning water in Gaelic. She is a child raised in love and free from the world of greed and corruption and prejudice. Every since the day of her birth a legend has been attached to her and her mother. One that has spread far and wide amongst a wide variety people in the area.What happens after that is the heart of the thought provoking novel..

When four people meet on the island from four different backgrounds one British, Irish, Gullah, and Creek. They soon learn the value of seeing beyond skin color and race.

Sometimes a book hits in ways you don’t expect and everything becomes clear.This wonderful book will speak to you. Leaving you feeling much better to have read it. I took my time and savored every word and moment of this beautiful and gracefully written story. So much emotional depth to this book as you dig into complex layers of the storyline. The author intricately woven plotline, will keep you engaged in this 17th-century America historical fiction.

Well developed, diverse characters you will enjoy. The Child of Love & Water, swept me away, with its compelling dialogue and the author seamless writing that flowed effortlessly.

Have a wonderful day!

About the Author

D. K. Marley is a historical fiction writer specializing in Shakespearean themes. Her grandmother, an English Literature teacher, gave her a volume of Shakespeare’s plays when she was eleven, inspiring DK to delve further into the rich Elizabethan language. Eleven years ago she began the research leading to the publication of her first novel “Blood and Ink,” an epic tale of lost dreams, spurned love, jealousy and deception in Tudor England as the two men, William Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe, fight for one name and the famous works now known as the Shakespeare Folio. She is an avid Shakespearean / Marlowan, a member of the Marlowe Society, the Shakespeare Fellowship and a signer of the Declaration of Intent for the Shakespeare Authorship Debate. She has traveled to England three times for intensive research and debate workshops, and is a graduate of the intense training workshop “The Writer’s Retreat Workshop” founded by Gary Provost and hosted by Jason Sitzes. She lives in Georgia with her husband and a Scottish Terriers named Maggie and Buster.

For more information, please visit D.K. Marley’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, November 12
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Wednesday, November 13
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Thursday, November 14
Review at Books and Zebras

Saturday, November 16
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Tuesday, November 19
Excerpt at Books In Their Natural Habitat

Thursday, November 21
Review at @ya.its.lit

Friday, November 22
Review at Nursebookie

Sunday, November 24
Review at A Darn Good Read

Tuesday, November 26
Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Thursday, November 28
Review at Coffee and Ink

Friday, November 29
Review at Al-Alhambra
Interview at Jathan & Heather


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a copy of Child of Love and Water by D.K.Marley! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on November 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Child of Love and Water Tour

Book Review The Killing Fog

Hello Bookish friends,

The Grave Kingdom Series, Book 1)

Publishing Date: March 1, 2020

Survivor of a combat school, the orphaned Bingmei belongs to a band of mercenaries employed by a local ruler. Now the nobleman, and collector of rare artifacts, has entrusted Bingmei and the skilled team with a treacherous assignment: brave the wilderness’s dangers to retrieve the treasures of a lost palace buried in a glacier valley. But upsetting its tombs has a price.

Echion, emperor of the Grave Kingdom, ruler of darkness, Dragon of Night, has long been entombed. Now Bingmei has unwittingly awakened him and is answerable to a legendary prophecy. Destroying the dark lord before he reclaims the kingdoms of the living is her inherited mission. Killing Bingmei before she fulfills it is Echion’s.

Thrust unprepared into the role of savior, urged on by a renegade prince, and possessing a magic that is her destiny, Bingmei knows what she must do. But what must she risk to honor her ancestors? Bingmei’s fateful choice is one that neither her friends nor her enemies can foretell, as Echion’s dark war for control unfolds.

The book will be published on 3rd March 2020. Keep an out for it or you can pre-order it in the link below

This book was received from the Author, and Publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own

Thanks 47North for providing me with an advanced reading copy.

Jeff wheeler, The Killing Fog” is the first installment in, The Grave Kingdom trilogy.

An incredible read from Wheeler, It was fast-paced, action packed, the world building and characters were absolutely amazing.

The story was fascinating, engaging, and a definite page-turner with perfect pacing and creative story development. The author keeps you totally invested in this intense epic fantasy. Enjoyable storyline that had me glued to the pages.

Wheeler, creates an exceptional atmospheric world that catapult reader into this phenomenal adventures fantasy world that he has created. Rich magical elements an stellar cast of characters. The main protagonist Bingmei, is by far one of my favorite female leader characters this year. With non stop adventure and intrigue and just the right amount of romance made this riveting book exceptional.

I will definitely recommend this book to my family and friends, and I am anxiously waiting on the next book in series

Atmospheric, riveting and intensely entertaining! Another great success for the fantasy author


Jeff Wheeler is the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Harbinger and Kingfountain series, as well as the Muirwood, Mirrowen, and Landmoor novels. He took an early retirement from his career at Intel in 2014 to write full-time. He is a husband, father of five, and devout member of his church. He lives in the Rocky Mountains and is the founder of Deep Magic: The E-Zine of Clean Fantasy and Science Fiction. Find out more about Deep Magic at, and visit Jeff’s many worlds at

Book Tour Life On Loan

It’s Manic Monday Bookish Friends,

Today I’m really excited to be taking part in the Book Tour of, Life On Loan
by Ashley Farley , which is being hosted Kate Rock Book Tours

Life On Loan

By Ashley Farley

Lake Union Publishing

Release Date October 8th

@ASHLEYFARLEY @katerockbooktours

Thanks so much to the author, Kate Rock Book Tours, NetGalley, and Lake Union Publishing for the complimentary advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts, and participation in this blog tour.

“Life on Loan” by Ashley Farley

It’s a surprising second act for two women who decide to rewrite their lives in this enriching novel of friendship and starting over from the bestselling author of Only One Life.

After thirty years, college friends Lena Browder and Olivia Westcoat have met again by chance at an unexpected crossroads: an airport lounge in Atlanta. Lena is running away from home and her demanding family. Olivia is trying to find her way after a painful divorce. With their old selves in the rearview, they toast to a new beginning—and it starts with a spontaneous dare.

Agreeing to trade houses for a month of rediscovery, Lena will stay in Olivia’s Charleston condo. Olivia’s retreat? Lena’s isolated river cottage in the Northern Neck of Virginia. Two perfect getaways. Thirty-four days to reset.

With fresh new perspectives and the renewal of a heartening friendship, Lena and Olivia find their passions, reinvent themselves, and reclaim what they’ve lost. When unexpected romance blooms and careers take new detours, it’s also a time for courage and risk. Now they’ll have to make hard choices to follow through on their promise for a second chance and finally have the lives they dream of.

Photo by Gwendalyn G. Anderson

Thanks so much to the author, Kate Rock Book Tours, NetGalley, and Lake Union Publishing for the complimentary advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts, and participation in this blog tour.

Have you ever wanted to run away from your current life, maybe try something something new? Start over? Figure out what your dreams are and make them happen!

Ashley Farley has an amazing gift of writing about women and the various phases and circumstances of their life. A talented writer that readers everywhere can relate to. This book is about Lena and Olivia, two middle aged women who were friends in college. When a chance meeting 30 years later run into each other at an airport where both have a lay-over.. As they begin to catch up, it becomes apparent they each are running away from some difficult life circumstances and as a result.

With a chance opportunity, a decision is made. Agreeing to trade houses for a month of rediscovery, Lena will stay in Olivia’s Charleston condo. Olivia’s retreat Lena’s isolated river cottage in the Northern Neck of Virginia. Two perfect getaways. Thirty four days to do a mental reset.

What comes next is a series of adventures, some new career opportunities, a little romance. A intriguing book about two women who find their inner strength, after thinking they had lost it.

An engaging premise, this book about two woman Lena and Olivia, who were unhappy with their lives and the path they are on, decide to swap houses for a month.

This is a wonderful thought provoking fast paced read. A A fascinating storyline, that kept me fully engaged until the end. This wonderful heartwarming story about reaching the end of your rope and finding the courage to make much needed change. The author has written another excellent women’s fiction, and this book of second chances is perhaps a dream some of us has had at one time or another.

A captivating contemporary woman’s fiction that you can relate to the well developed characters and their situations. This is a wonderful heartwarming story of courage. The author has written another excellent women’s fiction, and this book of second chances is perhaps a dream some of us has had at one time or another.

About the Author:

Ashley Farley is the bestselling author of the Sweeney Sisters series, as well as Sweet Tea Tuesdays, Magnolia Nights, Beyond the Garden, Nell and Lady, Only One Life, and other books about women for women. Her characters are mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives facing real-life situations, and her goal is to keep readers turning pages with stories that resonate long after the last word.

In addition to writing, she is an amateur photographer, an exercise junkie, and a wife and mother. While she has lived in Richmond, Virginia, for more than two decades, part of her heart remains in the salty marshes of the South Carolina Lowcountry, where she grew up. Through the eyes of her characters, she captures the moss-draped trees, delectable cuisine, and kindhearted folk with lazy drawls that make the area so unique. For more information, visit

Blog Tour Diamond In The Rouge

Hello Bookish Friends

Today I’m really excited to be taking part in the Book Tour of, Diamond In Rouge
by Wendy LaCapra, which is being hosted by HFBT

Diamond in the Rogue by Wendy LaCapra

Publication Date: November 11, 2019
Entangled: Scandalous
eBook; 289 Pages
Series: Lords of Chance, Book 3
Genre: Historical Romance/Regency

In an act of revenge, Lord Rayne kissed Lady Julia and was sent packing to America. But now he’s back to settle his affairs and give away his sister in marriage, until he meets up with the alluring yet innocent Lady Julia again. He doesn’t regret their first kiss, but he was never good enough for her.

Lady Julia had two years to forget the moody and mercurial Earl of Rayne. But one look, and she knows they’re meant to be together. Be damned with his and her brother’s objections, she’ll just jump on the back of Rayne’s departing carriage and compromise them both thoroughly.

Only, Julia never expected her forbidding Lord to be so good at resisting temptation…

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Google Play | iBooks | Kobo

This book was received from the Author, and Publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own

Anything worth having is worth some inconvenience.

Graham Laithe, is the Earl of Rayne and has recently returned to England just in time for his sister’s wedding. Rayne, been gone from his home in England for two years.

His objective is to give his sister away in marriage and settle his affairs before returning to America. The two years away have been difficult and hard on him.

Rayne’s bsence was caused by eventual act that almost ruined lady Julia and sent him packing to the America.

Head strong, delightful Lady Julia has given up on love, she gave her heart away, and look what happened . Still reveling over her almost disastrous ruination. Oh, but that memorable kiss. Julia knew she was still over the moon for Lord Rayne, even though his abrupt dissertation left a hole in her young heart. She knows she’ll only ever love Lord Rayne. No one can compare.

Determined Lady Julia has had her season and no one set her heart on fire as the rakish, unforgettableLord Rayne. Throwing caution to the wind she concocts a thrilling scheme with a little help from a family friend.

Will everything go as planned? Will she get her heart’s desire? Or will past lies resurface and come back to her, wrecking havoc.

A Swoon worthy read, that grabbed my complete attention all the way through!

Stellar heart racing, truly romantic moments, There is plenty of passion, heartbreak, doubt, romance and some interesting, well developed secondary characters. Readers who enjoy a character driven romance will find this a story well worth reading.

#DiamondInTheRouge #NetGalley #EntangledPublishing

Each story is based on a different member of the rakish quartet of friends





This book is about The Earl of Rayne – Diamonds.

Earl of Rayne and Julia’s story actually begin in book 2

About the Author

Wendy writes Historical Romance with a touch of intrigue & suspense. Her debut series, a trilogy about three Ladies who refuse to play by society’s rules, was released by Entangled Scandalous in 2015. Her first indie, Her Duke at Daybreak, finaled in Romance Writers of America®’s RITA® contest.

Wendy was born a Jersey Girl, though most of her extended family lives in Maine. Trekking up and down the Northeast coast in the backseat of a car gave her plenty of opportunity not only to fight with her sister, but to read, to listen to her dad tell stories from history, and to dream up stories of her own.

She lives in NYC with her husband. Things she loves besides writing and reading and being an aunt to seven nieces and nephews include travel (50 states and all 7 continents), old things, pine trees, wine and pasta.

If you’d like to join her infrequent, never-shared mailing list for freebies and new-release information, sign up here:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | BookBub | Amazon

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 11
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Tuesday, November 12
Review at Historical Romance Lover

Wednesday, November 13
Feature at What Is That Book About

Thursday, November 14
Review at The Book Junkie Reads

Friday, November 15
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Sunday, November 17
Review at Liberty’s Literary Loves

Monday, November 18
Review at Rose is Reading

Tuesday, November 19
Feature at @ya.its.lit

Wednesday, November 20
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Friday, November 22
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Monday, November 25
Feature at The Lit Bitch
Excerpt at Coffee and Ink
Review at The Romance Dish
Excerpt at Jorie Loves A Story


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on November 25th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
Only one entry per household.
All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Diamond in the Rogue

Book Tour This Son Of York

Hello Bookish Friends

Today I’m really excited to be taking part in the Book Tour of, This Son Of York
by Anne Easter Smith, which is being hosted by HFBT

This Son of York by Anne Easter Smith

Publication Date: November 10, 2019
Bellastoria Press
eBook & Paperback; 504 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

“Now is the winter of our discontent, Made glorious summer by This Son of York…” -William Shakespeare, Richard III-

Richard III was Anne’s muse for her first five books, but, finally, in This Son of York he becomes her protagonist. The story of this English king is one of history’s most compelling, made even more fascinating through the discovery in 2012 of his bones buried under a car park in Leicester.

This new portrait of England’s most controversial king is meticulously researched and brings to vivid life the troubled, complex Richard of Gloucester, who ruled for two years over an England tired of war and civil strife. The loyal and dutiful youngest son of York, Richard lived most of his short life in the shadow of his brother, Edward IV, loyally supporting his sibling until the mantle of power was thrust unexpectedly on him.

Some of his actions and motives were misunderstood by his enemies to have been a deliberate usurpation of the throne, but throughout his life, Richard never demonstrated any loftier ambitions than to honorably discharge his duty to his family and his country.

In a gentler vein, despite the cruel onset of severe scoliosis in his teens, Richard did find love, first with a lover and then in his marriage to Anne Neville. Between these two devoted women in his life, he sired three and perhaps four children.

Bringing the Plantagenet dynasty to a violent end, Richard was the last king of England to die in battle. This Son of York is a faithful chronicle of this much maligned man.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Photo by Gwendalyn G. Anderson

5 star ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book was received from the Author, and Publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own

Son of York is the 6th book of Anne Easter Smith’s Wars of the Roses. I have read and loved them all, they are set during the Wars of the Roses. The period during which the Yorkist and Lancastrian houses were in contention for the throne of England.

Anne Easter Smith, latest masterpiece of historical fiction, This Son Of York, is a beautiful written book of the last English King to die in battle, thereby bringing to an end both the Plantagenet dynasty and the Wars of the Roses. This intimate look into one of the most controversial kings.

This was a magnificent book, a rich and vibrant historical fiction of a man known to us through history and legend. One who invokes such powerful emotional response from readers and historians alike.

An intriguing tale of Dickon, from his early childhood, to the man who faced his end on the dark epic battlefield of Bosworth. The battle that ultimately changed everything, and led the Henry Vlll to the throne. A superb intense look of the man, Richard lll, the fourth son of The Duke of York. Smith’s phenomenal book, I felt fully connected with the characters as I followed along the author stellar narrative voice. Richard lll, life unfolds from within these pages of meticulous researched historical facts, and the author’s own fictional twist, to keep the the reader completely captivated until the end.

Richard, also named Richard Plantagenet “Dickon” to avoid confusion with his father. Was the great-grandson of King Edward III through his father, and a great-great-great-grandson of the same king through his mother.

Young Dickon, is described as short, skeletal in nature, a sickly child born the 12 out of 13 children of Cecily Neville, Dugcchess of York. Which caused him to develop the unsavory nickname, “Runt.” What Richard lacked for in stature, his unquenchable thirst for knowledge, made him stand out from all his York Siblings. This precocious child, would see the mounting conflict between King Henry Vll hoVuse of Lancaster and the house of York as to which one had a better claim to the Plantagenet Crown.Dickon, was a child when his family, the House of York, engaged in battle against the Lancastrians for control of the country. This book traces Dickon’s life as a youngster, growing up with his family, including that under the shadow of his older brothers, and cousins. In this deeply thoughtful, moving novel, the details of Dickon.’s remarkable life, along with the personal trials of love and loss are realistically presented.

The author breathes life into some weighty complex issues surrounding events of this controversial historical figure. A refreshing and passionate introspective look at the struggles of the man, shouldering under the weight of pressures, to do what he thinks is right and what has been expected of his noble birth and title.

Smith’s captivating prose flows effortless, creating a wonderful novel that is both treasurable as it is knowledgeable. Once again the author delivers a compelling, intriguing, and well-written read here. I enjoyed well developed characters who were fascinating. The strength of this novel, hands downs is the author’s fabulous rich characterizations.

Vividly descriptive, placing me easily into the heart of this novel. I absolutely loved the books structure, and the wonderful fictional twist the author added to make it her story. A superb narrative look into the life of a man, that has been the center of many historical heated debates.

The authors portrait of Richard Ill, was that he was a loyal brother and loving of husbands, under some of the most turbulent times. Having to make grave choices that have ultimately caused historians to cast a somewhat altered view of him.

One might say that under different circumstances he might have been a great king to England. Like so many things that go under looked today, the proof of it are in the laws he passed on in Parliament, which not only are still used today in England but all over the civilised world. That being said, Richard was only about 2 years on the throne, think of what he might have accomplished had he been given more time.

The Author has once again created an intriguing multi-layered and fascinating portrait of a intriguing complex man. This exceptional intricately plotted, medieval novel might be Anne Easter Smith, best work as to date. A stirring thought provoking book written with precision and depth.

A long bloody conflict, The Wars of Roses “The Cousins War” which some call it, was a destructive long and bloody civil war between 1455-1487. I have always had a passion for the time era, so this was a fast paced read for me. One I devoured in a day and half.

The battlefield of Bosworth, was the last decisive battle of the Wars Of Roses.This battle marked the end of the middle ages in England. Richard the lll, was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. He was also the last English king to ever fight in battle.

About the Author

Anne is the award-winning author of The King’s Grace and the best-selling A Rose for the Crown, Daughter of York, Queen By Right, and Royal Mistress. She is an expert on Richard III, having studied the king and his times for decades. Her sixth book, This Son of York, will be published soon. She grew up in England, Germany and Egypt, and has been a resident/citizen of the US since 1968. Anne was the Features Editor at a daily newspaper in northern New York State for ten years, and her writing has been published in several national magazines.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | ThiGoodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Sunday, November 10
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Monday, November 11
Excerpt at Words and Peace
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Tuesday, November 12
Review at Passages to the Past
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, November 13
Review at Macsbooks
Interview at The Writing Desk

Thursday, November 14
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Friday, November 15
Excerpt at The Lit Bitch
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Saturday, November 16
Review at Curling up by the Fire
Review & Excerpt at Nursebookie
Review at Red Headed Book Lady
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Sunday, November 17
Review at Bookramblings
Review at Just One More Chapter
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books
Review at Carole Rae’s Random Ramblings


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a copy of Royal Beauty Bright by Ryan Byrnes! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on November 14th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

This Son of York

Book Review The Almanack

The Almanack

By Martine Bailey

Publisher: Black Thorn; Main edition

Publication Date: November 7, 2019

Tabitha Hart earns a scandalous living in London, with whichever gentleman has enough coin for her company. But in the summer of 1752, her mother urgently summons her home to the village of Netherlea and, with reluctance, she returns. However, she is greeted by the news that her mother has died in disturbing circumstances.

Finding cryptic notes in her mother’s almanack, Tabitha is determined to discover the truth, but the superstitious villagers are wary of her. Only the enigmatic Nat Starling is prepared to join her, as she sets out to uncover her mother’s killer. But soon the summer draws to a close and snow sets in, cutting off Netherlea from the outside world. As an unknown killer prophesies their deaths, Tabitha and Nat now face the darkest hours of their lives.

This book was received from the Author, and Publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own

Thanks to Black Thorn Books for a review copy.

The Almanack, is set in England during the 1750s. London is full vice and over indulgences. From the moment Tabitha wakes at an inn on her journey to Netherlea, finding that she has been robbed by her companion for the night, left with nothing other than the underclothes she’s wearing and a purloined watch shaped as a silver skull. Tabitha is summoned home by a cryptic message from her mother. Arriving in the sleepy village of Netherlea, Tabitha finds her mother has died and is determined to find out just how and why. Finding cryptic notes in her mother’s almanack, Tabitha is determined to discover the truth, but the superstitious villagers are wary of her. Only the enigmatic Nat Starling is prepared to join her, as she sets out to uncover her mother’s killer.

Bailey skillfully weaves romance, meticulous historical details in a mystery plot to create this incredible storyline. The Almanack’s setting is richly described and you get a real sense of being there with the characters. The characters themselves are well fleshed out and and the plot keeps you engaged in this twisty novel to keep you guessing right to the end.

Bailey explores themes of time, mystery the novel takes place in the year the Gregorian calender is introduced in England. Days are lost but knowledge is gained, by reading Tabitha’s mothers Almanack. Captivating riddles add an extra layer in historical, murder mystery

The author has created a beguiling well constructive historical fiction, a stunning atmospheric mystery set in the mid-18th-century England. Martine Bailey book, has perfected her writing to catapult the reader to another era. Her meticulous research is evident in her luscious wonderful descriptive details.

A wonderfully rich and beguiling historical fiction, a stunning atmospheric mystery set in the mid-18th-century England.

Here is a riddle

I’m a strange contradiction: I’m new and I’m old, I’m sometimes in tatters and sometimes in gold, Though I never could read, yet lettered I’m found, Though blind, I enlighten, though free, I am bound. I often die young, though I sometimes live ages, Like a Queen I’m attended by so many pages.*

Answer:: A BOOK

An Almanack is a printed yearbook containing dates and events for the coming year, more detailed than a calendar or a diary it would contain notable festival dates, sunrise and sunset times, tide tables and other information invaluable, especially to country folk, farmers and the like. Some are still printed every year to this very day,



Exciting News for Historical Fiction Fans, Alison Weir will be at Margate Bookie on Sunday 24 November at 11.30am, at the Turner Contemporary, Margate. She will be speaking about her new book Anna Kleve and doing a q&a.
The friendly lit fest by the sea!

November 24 @ 11:30 am – 1:00 pm

Alison Weir is the top-selling female historian in the United Kingdom, selling over 2.7 million books worldwide.

Alison Weir has published eighteen history books, including Elizabeth the Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Lady in the Tower and Elizabeth of York, and seven historical novels. Her latest biography is Queens of the Conquest, and her latest novel is Anna of Kleve: Queen of Secrets.Rich in detailed research, Alison’s engaging prose has captured the interest and imagination of countless people, instilling a love of history that has influenced the career paths of historians, historical novelists and teachers, while also greatly increasing knowledge of medieval and Tudor English history among people throughout the world. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and an honorary life patron of Historic Royal Palaces. 

Go on, treat yourself to one of our super ticket offers.

Inspiration Special 

A ticket for the Bookie Slam, Vanguard Readings and Happiness, Creativity and Writing – a tenner to you! 

Saturday Ticket 

A Sense of Place, Vanguard Readings, Postcards from the Past Podcast, a Love of Two Halves AND Louis de Bernieres . You’ve got the lot for twenty notes! 

Sunday Ticket 

Alison Weir, Elise Valmorbida and Vanessa King, Mark Billingham, Self Made Hero and a wee dram at One for the Road. Twenty-four quid!

Here are the events details

Date: November 24

Time: 11:30 am – 1:00 pm


Venue: Turner Contemporary

Rendezvous, Margate, CT9 1HG

Margate, CT9 1HG GB

+ Google Map


The Margate Bookie Website:

Book Review Cartier’s Hope

 Hello Bookish Friends,

Today I am featuring a wonderful book review by the lovely author

M.J. Rose

Cartier’s Hope

A Novel

by M. J. Rose

Publisher: Atria Books , Simon and schuster Press

Publishing Date: 28 Jan 2020  

Length: 336 pages

@mjroseauthor #simonandschuster #atriabooks

New York Times bestselling author of Tiffany Blues, “a lush, romantic historical mystery” (Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale), comes a gorgeously wrought novel of ambition and betrayal…

Set in the Gilded Age. New York, 1910: A city of extravagant balls in Fifth Avenue mansions and poor immigrants crammed into crumbling Lower East Side tenements. A city where the suffrage movement is growing stronger every day, but most women reporters are still delegated to the fashion and lifestyle pages. But Vera Garland is set on making her mark in a man’s world of serious journalism.Shortly after the world-famous Hope Diamond is acquired for a record sum, Vera begins investigating rumors about schemes by its new owner, jeweler Pierre Cartier, to manipulate its value.

Vera is determined to find the truth behind the notorious diamond and its legendary curses—even better when the expose puts her in the same orbit as a magazine publisher whose blackmailing schemes led to the death of her beloved father.Appealing to a young Russian jeweler for help,

Vera is unprepared when she begins falling in love with him…and even more unprepared when she gets caught up in his deceptions and finds herself at risk of losing all she has worked so hard to achieve.Set against the backdrop of New York’s glitter and grit, of ruthless men and the atrocities they commit in the pursuit of power, this enthralling historical novel explores our very human needs for love, retribution—and to pursue one’s destiny, regardless of the cost.

This book was received from the Author, and Publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own

*Cartier’s Hope*

In this latest masterpiece by author M. J. Rose, we are met by Vera Garland, a young lady of the upper crust in New York in the early 1900’s, She’s bold, and sometimes impulsive, yet still has a kind hearted . She searches out the injustices of life, and fights diligently for those she considers to be harmed. Yet she still dreams of love. After a series of tragedies befall those closest to her, she sets out to avenge them in a rather unconventional way. Vera begins investigating rumors about schemes by its new owner, jeweler Pierre Cartier, to manipulate its value.

The character development is wonderful, with some notable characters, Jacob Astor, a Russian Jewish jeweler working for Cartier.

Jacob is a quiet, secretive man, with more than a few secrets of his own.

When Jacob and Vera finally meet, these two will discover that their interests may not be that different.. This story is absolutely incredible. I seriously had great difficulty putting it down for more than a minute or two.

This stunning book is set against the backdrop of New York’s glitter and vile, ruthless men and the atrocities they commit in the pursuit of power, this enthralling historical novel explores our quest for love, to gain retribution. One most strive for the pursuit of destiny, regardless of the cost.

A captivating novel, about redemption, and the hope and desire that one can be redeemed. Overall, it’s fascinating and engaging, and beyond entertaining

Photo Courtesy of authors Facebook page


“I’m a long-time fan and MJ Rose never disappoints. With crisp, addictive prose, Cartier’s Hope gives readers a smart, compelling heroine trying to make a career in a man’s profession while unraveling family scandals at the same time. A beautiful tale with tantalizing twists.” —Stephanie Dray, NYT Bestselling author of America’s First Daughter

“A twisting tale of greed, revenge, and masked identities that put love and lives at risk…that shines with as much intrigue and mystery as the Hope Diamond itself.” New York Times bestseller Kristina McMorris, Sold on a Monday 

“Nobody conjures up historical mystery like M.J. Rose, and this brilliant, absorbing novel has it all, immersing readers in an unforgettable world that beguiles to the final page. Rose proves once again that her superb storytelling and powerful prose are second to none.” —New York Times bestseller, Beatriz Williams, The Golden Hour

“Perfectly melds fact and fiction into an unputdownable tale. A true gem.” —National bestseller Fiona Davis, The Chelsea Girls

“Sparkles with intrigue, romance and passion and surprises with an inspiring journalist heroine… timely, relevant, and sure to resonate with readers.. ends with a shocking twist you won’t see coming. Unputdownable!” New York Times bestseller Laura Kamoie, My Dear Hamilton

“M.J. Rose soars with Cartier’s Hope. A page-turning quest for the truths that are both intimate and universal. Brava!”   New York Times bestseller Pam Jenoff, The lost Girls of Paris

Buy from the Indie Bookstores that Loved Cartier’s Hope

“Fierce female reporter Vera Garland is the heroine of M.J. Roses’s latest gorgeous historical drama. Set in early Twentieth Century NYC, Cartier’s Hope contains all the rich beauty and tantalizing danger of a city and period on the verge of change. Rose’s attention to detail and lush description had me enthralled. Buy this gem of a novel.” Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books 

“Glitz, glamour, superstition and blackmail collide in this page turner.” Paula Longhurst, The King’s English Bookstore

“I really enjoyed Cartier’s Hope; M. J. Rose paints a portrait of 1910s New York City with which I was unaware. Most surprising was the large number of female reporters that were working at that time. Vera/Vee is a smart, interesting character; I liked her double-life, very Scarlet Pimpernel…most of all, I want Vera’s apartment over Garland’s Department Store!” Meaghan Beasley, Island Bookstore

Photo taken from authors website

About M.J. Rose

M.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading her mother’s favorite books before she was allowed. She believes mystery and magic are all around us but we are too often too busy to notice…  Books that exaggerate mystery and magic draw attention to it and remind us to look for it and revel in it.

Rose is a New York Times, Wall St. Journal and USAToday bestseller as well as an international best seller. She has published more than a ninetten novels and 3 books on marketing. She has been published in more than 30 countries and sold over 1.5 million books. The Fox TV show, Past Lives, was based on Rose’s novel, The Reincarnationist. 

Rose is a founding member of International Thriller Writers, founder of the first marketing company for authors, AuthorBuzz, and the co-founder, with Liz Berry of

In 1998, her first novel Lip Service was the first e-book and the first self-published novel chosen by the LiteraryGuild/Doubleday Book Club as well as the first e-book to go on to be published by a mainstream New York publishing house. 

Rose has been profiled in Time magazine, ForbesThe New York TimesBusiness 2.0Working WomanNewsweek, and New York Magazine. She has appeared on The Today ShowFox NewsThe Jim Lehrer NewsHour, and features on her have appeared in dozens of magazines and newspapers in the U.S. and abroad, including USATodaySternL’OfficialPoets and Writers, and Publishers Weekly.

Rose graduated from Syracuse University and spent the ’80s in advertising. She was the Creative Director of Rosenfeld Sirowitz and Lawson and she has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

Legacy of Fear

Hello Bookish Friends Today Is My Stop On Legacy of Fear Book Tour, hosted by, Kate Rock Book Tours



Legacy of Fear  

By A.J. McCarthy 

Release Date:  11.7.19 


What dark secret is hidden in her past? What evil has been handed down through generations? 

Emily Burton found happiness in a small, picturesque town on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Her sense of peace and security is shattered when she’s brutally attacked, and an innocent person is murdered. The authorities believe the incident is random, until Emily becomes the target of further violence and threats. 

With the help of her enigmatic neighbor, she uncovers an eerily similar crime that dates back sixty years. Could there be a connection between the two attacks? Did malevolence stretch its deadly arm across generations? 

Emily is convinced there’s a link, but she needs to find it before it finds her.  

This book was received from the Author, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own

Legacy of Fear. by A J McCarthy

A Pacific Northwest Beach town location is the perfect settings for an intriguing suspenseful and thriller.

Emily Burton, a self sustaining woman is brutally attacked and another person killed. Was this a horrific random act of violence or something else.

Putting pieces together Emily is mentally connecting dots as she finds help solving the mystery.

Thrilling pace with a creative storyline, and well developed characters, the author has once again delivered an intriguing twisty read. A suspenseful gripping book that was a fast-paced, tension-filled, edge-of-your-seat thrilling read! I couldn’t flip these pages fast enough! I absolutely love A J McCarthy writing – it pulled me in from page one and kept me fully captivated and intrigued until the very end.

Author Links: 









Amazon Author Page: 


About the Author 


The Three Rs – Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic – are the cornerstones of A.J. McCarthy’s life. The first began at a young age when she devoured novels by Agatha Christie, Sidney Sheldon, and other masters of mystery and suspense. The second was a passion born later in life, and the third was a major part of her full-time career. The author of three published novels, Sins of the Fathers, Cold Betrayal, and Legacy of Fear (to be released November 2019), A.J. is working on another manuscript in the suspense thriller genre, while juggling ideas for a couple of others.  



Book Review Find Me Their Bones

Happy Book Birthday

@authorsarawolf #findmetheirbonestour @entangledteen

 @MissRiki @entangledpub

Title: Find Me Their Bones

Bring Me Their Hearts #2

Author: Sara Wolf

Publisher: Entangled Teen

What is a Heartless, with their heart returned? A human? No — not entirely. They’ve tasted the hunger. They can still remember what it feels like to die, to be cut up, to be burned.

In order to protect Prince Lucien d’Malvane’s heart, Zera had to betray him. Now, he hates the sight of her. Trapped in Cavanos as a prisoner of the king, she awaits the inevitable moment her witch severs their magical connection and finally ends her life.

But fate isn’t ready to give her up just yet.

With freedom coming from the most unlikely of sources, Zera is given a second chance at life as a Heartless. But it comes with a terrible price. As the king mobilizes his army to march against the witches, Zera must tame an elusive and deadly valkerax trapped in the tunnels underneath the city if she wants to regain her humanity.

Winning over a bloodthirsty valkerax? Hard. Winning back her friends before war breaks out? A little harder.

But a Heartless winning back Prince Lucien’s heart?

The hardest thing she’s ever done

Don’t bother with the past, Zera. The future is where you’ll find your freedom.”

✧ This book was received from the Author, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own ✧

An incredible stellar addition to the Ruthless Song series. I need to give @entangledteen a huge thanks for reaching out to have me work with them on a few projects and gifting me this truly fabulous ARC.

If you are a reader of fantasy? I have the perfect series for you

Bring Me Their Hearts which is the first novel in this series.

Find Me Their Bones, is the next phenomenal installment to Zera’s quest to get her heart back.

Find Me Their Bones by Sara Wolf is the second book in the young adult romantic fantasy Bring Me Their Hearts series. This series is definitely one that a reader should start from the beginning and read in order as the story now in the second book has picked up right after the cliffhanger ending of the first and wouldn’t be understood out of order.

Nineteen year old Zera, is a Heartless. an unkillable human puppet in thrall to a witch. Given a task to take Prince Lucien of Cavanos’ heart, but instead, she fell in love with him; saving him, yes, but only after deceiving and betraying him. She has failed in her mission. Awaiting impending death when her witch severs the connection between them. She Instead finds herself beholden to a new mistress…..Lucien’s sister, Princess Varia

Wolf’s world-building was more developed and the descriptive magic was definitely noticeable, The strategic development of the complexity of the plot line was superb. Wolf’s progression from first installment to Find Me Their Bones, is smooth and effortless. Even though this storyline had little to do with what was introduced to us in the fist book. The author tone and everything that was going on in this one. There were some new creatures, as well as more information about certain characters’ backstories that I found super interesting and added something new to the plot, and there was a much more complex plot as well.

“We can’t remember who we were. We’re always hurting. Always hungry. That isn0t home. This… This isn’t a home. It’s a prison.”

Definitely a solid sequel, bringing back all the characters I adored so much with a lot of added world-building information. Cannot wait for the next installment There was so much tension and secrets in this second installment of the series and it got my blood pumping and kept me on the edge of my seat.

Zera’s a strong sassy protagonist, that I adore, her engaging sarcastic sense of humor was enticing and added to this wonderful Ya Fantasy.

This captivating book is one I definitely recommend to anyone who enjoys epic fantasy at its best.

The books explosive ending will leave you shocked and have wanting more.



Paperback: 228 pages
Vesuvian Books (November 5, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1733599444
ISBN-13: 978-1733599443


“A delightfully decadent descent into Yuletide madness and horrors that were hilariously imaginative and chilling…in essence, the perfect Christmas tales.” ―The Nerd Daily

“The whimsy of the holiday season turns dark and absurd in this wickedly amusing anthology of six stories.” ―Publishers Weekly

“A quick read that will be a balm to those who like their holidays a little horrifying.” ―Dawn Kuczwara, Booklist

Six stories of not-so-merry Yuletide whimsy from the authors of Black Spot Books.

A woman so cold she hardens to ice on a winter’s eve. Risen from his grave before his time, a winter god alters the balance between seasons. A wolf’s holiday season is interrupted by a strange curse. From a murder at the Stanley Hotel to demons of Christmas past, present, and future, and a mad elf and Santa’s Candy Court, the authors of Black Spot Books share their love for winter holidays in this collection of dark winter tales, destined to chill your bones and warm your heart for the Yuletide season.


FANTASTIC NEWS BOOK NERDS!! We an awesome PROMOTIONAL BLAST for A MIDNIGHT CLEAR running from now until 11:59pm (PST) on the last day of the blast.

A special promotional price ($.99) for A MIDNIGHT CLEAR E-book will be set for the duration of the event. Make sure you get your copy now!

You can purchase A Midnight Clear at the following Retailers:


All Photo Content from Vesuvian Books

Sam Hooker writes darkly humorous fantasy novels about thing like tyrannical despots and the masked scoundrels who tickle them without mercy. He knows all the best swear words, though he refuses to repeat them because he doesn’t want to attract goblins.

Alcy Leyva is a Bronx-born writer, teacher, and pizza enthusiast. He graduated from Hunter College with a B.A. in English (Creative Writing) and an MFA in Fiction from The New School. He has been published in Popmatters, The Rumpus, Entropy Mag, and Quiet Lunch Magazine.

Laura Morrison lives in the Metro Detroit area. She has a B.S. in applied ecology and environmental science from Michigan Technological University. Before she was a writer and stay-at-home mom, she battled invasive species and researched turtles.

Cassondra Windwalker is a poet and novelist writing full time from the coast of the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. She is supported by a tolerant husband, three wandering offspring, a useless dog, and a zombie cat. Her hobbies include hiking, photography, and having other people’s demons over for tea.FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | GOODREADS
Dalena Storm has lived in India, Japan, Germany, and on both coasts of the United States. She currently resides in a converted general store in the woods of Western Massachusetts with a rare Burmese temple cat, a purring black fluff-beast, a professor of magic, and an infant with an astonishing ability to resist sleep.
Seven Jane is an author of dark fantasy and speculative fiction. Seven is a member of The Author’s Guild and Women’s Fiction Writing Association. She also writes a column for The Women’s Fiction Association and is a contributor to The Nerd Daily.
FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | WEBSITE | GOODREADS*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*

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The Highlander’s Christmas Bride by Vanessa Kelly

Hello Bookish Friends

Are you ready for a little Christmas Romance?

Today I’m really excited to be taking part in the Book Tour of,

The Highlander’s Christmas Bride
by Vanessa Kelly which is being hosted by HFBT

The Highlander’s Christmas Bride
by Vanessa Kelly

Publication Date: October 29, 2019
Zebra Books
eBook & Paperback; 432 Pages

Series: Clan Kendrick, Book #2
Genre: Historical Romance/Scottish


In bestselling author Vanessa Kelly’s irresistible Clan Kendrick series, Christmas in the Highlands means family, celebration—and for one brother, the beginning of a passionate adventure . . .

Being thrown over by the man she expected to marry was humiliating enough. Now that Donella Haddon, grandniece of the Earl of Riddick, has also proven a failure as a nun, she has no choice but to return to her family’s estate. The brawny Highlander sent to escort her is brash, handsome, and the only thing standing between Donella and a gang of would-be kidnappers. But the scandal in her past can’t be so easily outrun . . .

Wealthy widower Logan Kendrick was expecting to meet a plain, pious spinster—not a gorgeous, sharp-tongued lass who can hold her own in any ambush. Though she’s known as the Flower of Clan Graham, Donella is no shrinking violet. In fact, she might be the perfect woman to bring happiness back to his lonely little son’s life, just in time for Christmas. But first he must protect her from ugly gossip and a mysterious threat—and convince her that their wild, unexpected desire is heaven sent.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

This book was received from the Author, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own

Are you planning on reading any Christmas themed books this year and what are your weekend plans?

This was a great book to start the Christmas reading season off with.

The Highlander’s Christmas Bride by Vanessa Kelly is the second book in her exciting Clan Kendrick Series. Donella Haddon is known throughout Scotland as “The Flower of Clan Graham” for her beauty and charm. Rebellious, strong willed, Donella Haddon, grandniece of the Earl of Riddick, has also proven herself a failure as a nun, she is dismissed an must return to her family’s estate.

Swoon worthy, widowed businessman Logan Kendrick has offered Donnelly uncle to retrieve her from convent and bring her back to her family estate in order to gain favor with her uncle. The trip turns into a fabulous adventure as the pair encountered drama and kidnappers, and also along the way, found they were extremely attracted to each other. With the pair emotionally damaged from their past, neither of them feel worthy of love due to baggage they have carry around and secrets they have kept.

Engaging characters in this book are all so endearing and the enjoyable dialogue had me laughing in this rousing Scottish historical romance full of charm and adventures.

This book was faced paced that I literally inhaled in one day. A light- hearted, perfected romance, with charismatic delightful characters that keep you vested all the way through this page turner of a romance

The Highlander’s Christmas Bride can be enjoyed as a standalone, for a little backstory of the characters and the their adventures

I suggest also reading :

The Highlander’s Princess Bride (Victoria Knight & Nick Kendrick),

The Highlander Who Protected Me (Royal Kendrick & Ainsley Matthews),

How to Marry a Royal Highlander (Alec Gilbride & Eden Whitney).   

About the Author

 Vanessa Kelly is a USA Today Bestselling, award-winning author who was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.” Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated in a number of contests, and she has won multiple awards, including the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. Her books have been published in nine languages.

Vanessa’s latest book, The Highlander Who Protected Me, was a USA Today, Barnes & Noble, and BookScan bestseller. Her Renegade Royals Series was a national bestseller, as was The Improper Princesses Series. My Fair Princess was named a Goodreads Romance of the Month and is a USA Today and BookScan bestseller. The Highlander’s Princess Bride, book 3 in the series, was a Barnes and Noble top 50 bestseller.

When she’s not dreaming of plots for her next Regency novel, Vanessa is writing USA Today Bestselling books with her husband, under the pen name of V.K. Sykes.

You can find Vanessa at or at For all of Vanessa’s latest news and contests–and to receive a free story–please sign up for her newsletter on her website. V.K. Sykes.

You can find Vanessa at or at For all of Vanessa’s latest news and contests–and to receive a free story–please sign up for her newsletter on her website.

Clan Kendrick Facebook Group | Facebook Author Page | Pinterest | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, October 29
Review at Coffee and Ink

Wednesday, October 30
Feature at A Book Geek
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Thursday, October 31
Review at Amy’s Booket List

Friday, November 1
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books
Excerpt at Donna’s Book Blog
Review at View from the Birdhouse

Saturday, November 2
Review at Fictitiouswonderland

Monday, November 4
Review at Nursebookie
Review at A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, November 5
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Wednesday, November 6
Review at Bookish Rantings
Interview at Jathan & Heather

Thursday, November 7
Review at Unabridged Chick
Guest Post at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Friday, November 8
Excerpt at Maiden of the Pages
Review at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Monday, November 11
Review at Jessica Belmont
Review at Stephanie’s Novel Fiction
Guest Post at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, November 12
Excerpt at The Lit Bitch
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away signed copies of THE HIGHLANDER’S PRINCESS BRIDE and THE HIGHLANDER WHO PROTECTED ME + a $20 Amazon gift card! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on November 12th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

The Highlander’s Christmas Bride

Bittersweet Tapestry

Hello Bookish Friends

Today I’m really excited to be taking part in the Book Tour of, Bittersweet Tapestry
by Kevin O’Connell, which is being hosted by HFBT

Bittersweet Tapestry by Kevin O’Connell

Publication Date: November 1, 2019
Gortcullinane Press
eBook & Paperback
Series: The Derrynane Saga, Book Three
Genre: Historical Fiction

#BittersweetTapestry #KevinOConnell #HFVBTBlogTours


A dramatic decade has passed since sixteen-year-old Eileen O’Connell first departed her family’s sanctuary at remote Derrynane on the Kerry coast to become the wife of one of the wealthiest men in Ireland and the mistress of John O’Connor’s Ballyhar – only to have her elderly husband die within months of the marriage.

Unhappily returned to Derrynane, within a year, under the auspices of their uncle, a general in the armies of Maria Theresa, Eileen and her sister, Abigail departed for Vienna and a life neither could have ever imagined – one at the dizzying heights of the Hapsburg empire and court, where Abigail ultimately became principal lady-in-waiting to the Empress herself, whilst Eileen, for nine momentous years, served as governess to the Empress’s youngest daughter – during which time Maria Antonia, whom Eileen still calls ‘my wee little archduchess’, has become Marie Antoinette, dauphine of France, though she continues to refer to her beloved governess as “Mama”.

As Bittersweet Tapestry opens, it is the High Summer of 1770. Having escorted the future Queen of France from Vienna to her new life, Eileen and her husband, Captain Arthur O’Leary of the Hungarian Hussars, along with their little boy and Eileen’s treasured friend (and former servant) Anna Pfeffer are establishing themselves in Ireland.

Their ties to Catholic Europe remain close and strong; in addition to Abigail and her O’Sullivan family and General O’Connell, his wife and young daughter in Vienna, their brother Daniel is an officer in the Irish Brigade of the armies of Louis XV, whilst their youngest brother, Hugh, is studying at École Militaire in Paris, his path to a commission in the Dillons’ Regiment of the Brigade. His gentle Austrian friendship with Maria Antonia having inevitably waned, Hugh’s relationship with the strikingly-beautiful young widowed Princess Marie Thérèse Louise of Savoy is blossoming.

Though happily ensconced at Rathleigh House, the O’Leary family estate in County Cork, being prominent amongst those families which are the remnants of the old Gaelic order in the area, Eileen and Art find that the dark cloud of the Protestant Ascendancy hovers heavily, at times threateningly, over them.

Bittersweet Tapestry is a tale of stark contrasts – between Hugh’s life of increasing prominence amidst the glitter and intrigue of the French court and Art and Eileen’s in English-occupied Ireland – especially as the latter progresses into a dark, violent and bloody tale . . . ultimately involving an epic tragedy, which along with the events leading up to it and those occurring in its dramatic wake, will permanently impact the O’Learys, the O’Connells – and their far-flung circle of family and friends in Ireland and across Europe.

With his uniquely-descriptive prose, Kevin O’Connell again deftly weaves threads of historical fact and fancy to create a colourful fabric affording unique insights into the courts of eighteenth-century Catholic Europe as well as English-ruled Ireland. As the classic story unfolds amongst the O’Learys, the O’Connells, their friends and enemies, the tumultuously-dangerous worlds in which they dwell will continue to gradually – but inexorably – become even more so.

Bittersweet Tapestry joins O’Connell’s well-received Beyond Derrynane and Two Journeys Home as The Derrynane Saga continues – an enthralling epic, presenting a sweeping chronicle, set against the larger drama of Europe in the early stages of significant – and, in the case of France – violent change.

Available on Amazon


Mr. O’Connell began the Derrynane Saga in 2014. His first book, Beyond
Derrynane: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe, was published in July 2016,
whilst the second, Two Journeys Home: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe was
released in November 2017. Both are in global circulation and have received
a range of positive critical reviews, in the United States, the United
Kingdom and Europe. Bittersweet Tapestry is the third of four projected

The Saga has been described as being a sweeping, multi-layered story,
populated by an array of colourfully-complex characters, whose lives and
stories play out in a series of striking settings. Set against the drama of
Europe in the early stages of significant change, the book dramatizes the
roles which have never before been treated in fiction played by a small
number of expatriate Irish of the fallen Gaelic Aristocracy at the courts of
Catholic Europe. It is with Bittersweet Tapestry that O’Connell again focuses
in greater detail on their lives in English-occupied Ireland.




Photo by Gwendalyn G Anderson

This book was received from the Author, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

Bittersweet Tapestry, by Kevin O’Connell, is the third installment in The Derrynane Saga, set in the captivating times of the 18th century. Kevin O’Connell has way of pulling the reader into this wonderful depicted, turbulent times. The writing is absorbing the prose flows seamlessly.

What really stood out for me and what I really loved about this story was the compelling and emotional layered perspective views, and how they connected the story and the family. We see the the authors creative fictional side to the story interwoven historical details.

Kevin O’Connell again deftly weaves vibrant period details, and historical facts, along with his own creative fiction to create a compelling storyline with riveting insights into the courts of eighteenth-century Catholic Europe as well as English-ruled Ireland.

This epic family saga will catapults into lives the O’Learys, the O’Connells, during the dark sweeping events of the eighteen century. Wonderful fleshed out characters and captivating atmospheric details makes for unforgettable Book.

About the Author

Kevin O’Connell is a native of New York City and a descendant of a young officer of what had—from 1690 to 1792—been the Irish Brigade of the French army, believed to have arrived in French Canada following the execution of Queen Marie Antoinette in October of 1793. At least one grandson subsequently returned to Ireland and Mr. O’Connell’s own grandparents came to New York in the early twentieth century. He holds both Irish and American citizenship.

He is a graduate of Providence College and Georgetown University Law Centre.

For much of his four decades-long legal career, O’Connell has practiced international business transactional law, primarily involving direct-investment matters, throughout Asia (principally China), Europe, and the Middle East.

The father of five children and grandfather of ten, he and his wife, Laurette, live with their golden retriever, Katie, near Annapolis, Maryland.


Blog Tour Schedule

Friday, November 1

Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Sunday, November 3

Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, November 4

Review at Locks, Hooks and Books

Wednesday, November 6

Interview at The Writing Desk

Feature at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Friday, November 8

Feature at Maiden of the Pages

Monday, November 11

Interview at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, November 13

Review & Guest Post at The Book Junkie Reads

Friday, November 15

Guest Post at Before the Second Sleep

Sunday, November 17

Review at A Darn Good Read

Monday, November 18

Review at Books and Zebras

Tuesday, November 19

Feature at What Is That Book About

Wednesday, November 20

Review at Al-Alhambra Book Reviews

Friday, November 22

Feature at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Monday, November 25

Review at Hooked on Books

Tuesday, November 26

Review at Red Headed Book Lady

Review & Guest Post at Nursebookie

Wednesday, November 27

Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, November 29

Review at Broken Teepee

Excerpt at Coffee and Ink

Sisters of Shadow and Light

Happy Happy Halloween Bookish Friends

Thank you to Fantastic Flying Book Club for letting me participate in the tour for The Sisters of Shadow and Light by Sara B. Larson

Sisters of Shadow and Light

 (Sisters of Shadow and Light #1)

by Sara B. Larson
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: November 5th 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg
From the acclaimed author of DEFY, Sara B. Larson, SISTERS OF SHADOW AND LIGHT is a timeless and fantastical tale of sisterly love and powerful magic
“The night my sister was born, the stars died and were reborn in her eyes…”.
Zuhra and Inara have grown up in the Citadel of the Paladins, an abandoned fortress where legendary, magical warriors once lived before disappearing from the world―including their Paladin father the night Inara was born.
On that same night, a massive, magical hedge grew and imprisoned them within the citadel. Inara inherited their father’s Paladin power; her eyes glow blue and she is able to make plants grow at unbelievable rates, but she has been trapped in her own mind because of a “roar” that drowns everything else out―leaving Zuhra virtually alone with their emotionally broken human mother.
For fifteen years they have lived, trapped in the citadel, with little contact from the outside world…until the day a stranger passes through the hedge, and everything changes


Prize: TBC

Starts: 30th November 2019

Ends: 13th November 20

Received an arc from publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review

“I didn’t know… would probably never know. That not knowing was like an itch beneath my skin, unreachable and, at times, unbreakable.”

Captivating ya fantasy comes to life. Intriguing world building with mesmerizing magic Engaging swoon-worthy romance, with twists that were completely unexpected but perfectly placed. And the bond between the sisters is powerful and heartwarming.

18year-old Zuhara has been trapped at the Citadel of the Paladin within an enormous sentient hedge that grew over night upon the the birth of her younger sister, Inara.

Inara’s magic born, inherited from their vanished Paladin father, which gives her power over plants, It also comes a hefty price. Living with their unstable Mother in complete isolation. She has forbidden all things Paladin when the girls father disappeared after Inara’s birth.

Inara is often lost in her own dreamy mind, with only brief moments of lucidity, leaving Zuhra feeling alone, longing for sort of real connection.

In a change of events, Halvor, a scholar of the Paladin breaches the hedge, Zuhra is intrigued by his revelations of the world and motivated to escape, but the mysteries of the citadel pose more dangers than any of them know, threatening both realms.

A wonderful portal fantasy story of two sisters, trapped by circumstance and freed by accident. Zuhra and Inara’s bond is brilliantly and empathetically depicted.

A great cliffhanger ending that had me wanting more.

Tour Schedule

.Don’t forget to to follow along on the other stops on this incredible book tour .

October 30th

October 31st

BookCrushin – Tell Your Story in 3 or 5 GIFs
L.M. Durand – Review
The Clever Reader – Review + Favourite Quotes

November 1st

NovelKnight – Story Behind The Cover
Moonlight Rendezvous – Review + Favourite Quotes
Utopia State of Mind – Review + Favourite Quotes
Book Briefs – Review

November 2nd

Bookish Looks – Character Playlist
The Boozy Reader – Review
Book Slaying – Review + Favourite Quotes

November 3rd

books_andpoetrii – Mood Board/Book Style
Musings of a (Book) Girl – Official Playlist
Novelishly – Review

November 4th

Kait Plus Books – Top 10 List
Artsy Draft – Review + Favourite Quotes
Novel Nerd Faction – Review + Playlist
Jrsbookreviews – Review

November 5th

Sereadipity – Video Interview
A Court of Coffee and Books – Review + Favourite Quotes
Sometimes Leelynn Reads – Review + Dream Cast
Wishful Endings – Review
Story-eyed Reviews – Review

he worn soles of my leather shoes—old Paladin ones found stashed in a closet—made a soft slap against the stone floors. I moved quickly through the hulking innards of the citadel, eager to reach the main door and fresh air—and my sister—beyond. The oppressive heat rose up while the emptiness pressed down as I passed shut door after shut door. I’d never understood how the lack of something could be felt so acutely, I only knew it could, because that pulsing, aching hollowness was a constant companion on the rare occasions when I was able to wander through the citadel alone. When Sami or Mother or even Inara was by my side, the sensation melted away, chased off by their voices or maybe just their mere presence. But when I was by myself, slipping through the endless hallways and stairs, a single being traipsing through a place intended to house hundreds, sometimes the sensation of vacancy was enough to send a chill skittering over my skin.

Brushing off the familiar but still unsettling feelings, I tipped my chin at Terence, the name I’d given the Paladin statue that stood, unmoving, at the top of the stairs like a sentinel, feigning a braveness that didn’t quite reach my soul. I should have been used to the statues scattered throughout the citadel, but no matter how many times I walked past their glittering lapis lazuli eyes, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the stone likenesses of the beings who had once truly walked these halls were still watching me as I passed, somehow marking my presence in their domain. No one had ever said how old the citadel was, but it felt ancient. I’d often wondered if it had been hewn directly from the mountain it perched beside eons ago, long before Mother, or Adelric, or Gateskeep, or possibly even Vamala itself. Had the Paladin merely claimed it as their own once they arrived here, to save us from the rakasa? I didn’t know . . . would probably never know. That not knowing was like an itch beneath my skin, unreachable and, at times, unbearable.

When I finally reached the grand entrance, with its soaring ceiling high above and the massive door that led to the main courtyard straight ahead, a sigh of relief silently slid past my lips. But even outside the citadel, I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was being watched.

I slipped out the door, into a wall of heat and glaring sunshine. To my left, the dilapidated stables where the Paladin’s gryphons had once lived hunkered against the north side of the citadel. To my right were the orchards and gardens were Inara worked and lived. And surrounding it all was the hedge. It loomed across the courtyard, a hulking monster of vines and thorns. Averting my eyes from it, I hurried toward the orchard and Inara’s gardens beyond. Though I wished to spend all my waking time with Inara, that meant being outside from sunup until the shadows of sunset stretched across the courtyard, and part of me didn’t blame Mother for staying indoors at all times. As much as I longed to be with my sister, I couldn’t stand the sensation of the hedge hovering behind me; a presence so real, so tangible, at times I would spin around expecting to find someone standing there, watching me, only to face an empty courtyard—save for the impenetrable wall of vines, our living captor.

I’d wanted to ask Mother if it had always been that way, even before he left, before it grew into this monster. Had the hedge always been this . . . menacing? Or had he done something to change it that night—something beyond just increasing the size of it? Itch, itch, itch, beneath my plain, human skin. More not knowing . . . because I didn’t dare. I knew better than to broach the subject of before.

Inara kept her gardens closer to the citadel itself, on the southeast end of the grounds, where the sun shone longest—when the sun shone at all. Gateskeep was surrounded by sky-scraping peaks and cliffs, including the one the citadel had been built on, that were most often enshrouded in choking clouds and creeping fog. It was normally gray and waterlogged, even in summer, other than the occasional week of unbearable heat and sun, such as this one. I had no doubt that if I’d tried to grow the fruits and vegetables, we would have starved years ago, especially during the winter. But Inara had a way with plants, no matter the weather. With all living things, really. Well, all those that weren’t afraid of her.

I headed toward the boxes where she grew the vegetables and herbs in the spring, summer, and fall, winding through the small grove of trees, their branches already heavy with fruit, early even for Inara’s abilities to have coaxed out a harvest.

I found her bending toward one of the tomato plants, her long hair falling over her shoulder like night spilling across the evening sky, muttering in that way of hers, the cadence rising and falling, but most of the sounds unintelligible. The sun was hot on my back, as it had been all week. An unaccountably cloudless and blistering snap of weather, especially for the beginning of June.

“It’s a beautiful afternoon.” I spoke softly, hoping not to frighten her. She paused, her fingers briefly going still, but when she didn’t respond, returning instead to her work, I gently touched her elbow.

Inara jerked and straightened, spinning to face me. Even after all these years, my gaze was immediately drawn to her eyes before anything else—to her irises that glowed like the blue flames closest to the fuel of a fire. Her burning, ever-changing, fear-inspiring eyes.

Paladin eyes.

“Can I do anything to help you?”

Inara cocked her head to the side, staring at my mouth as I spoke. I repeated the question, even as her uncomprehending gaze traveled over me and then moved on. If she’d been lucid, she surely would have questioned my inappropriate attire for working in a garden. Mother and I had spent hours upon hours repurposing many of her finer dresses to fit not only my height, but also what Sami claimed were the modern styles—insisting I be dressed to catch the eye of a potential suitor at any given time, no matter how much I protested the ridiculousness.

Inara, on the other hand, was mostly given Mahsami’s extra clothes, leftovers from the Paladin, or the more drab offerings from Mother’s closet and left to have her ankles (and half of her calves) on display beneath the too-short skirts.

We had no income to speak of, except for the meager funds Sami could sometimes acquire through selling off objects from the citadel, so new clothes were scarce. For some unfathomable reason, Mother’s drive to see me well dressed didn’t extend to selling more, though the massive structure was replete with antiques and valuables of all sizes and worth—including an obscene amount of diamonds, some probably near to priceless. But the fact was, even if Mother hadasked Sami to go to market more often, the hedge wouldn’t have allowed it. It opened for Sami—and only her. And only when things were so grim our very lives depended upon it. Mother, Inara, and I had to wait inside the citadel.

“Help,” Inara finally repeated, loudly, almost a shout. I tried not to flinch. “Help.” She shook her head, a short, jerky movement. “Two. Four. Six. Four. Two.”

“Yes.” I glanced past her to the rows of tidy boxes where all of her plants grew, some leafy and wide, others stretching tall and thin with vines that snaked up wooden stakes. The air was full of the loamy scent of earth and vegetables. Most often, Inara spent her time trying to keep the plants from drowning, but not this week. “Do you need help harvesting anything? Or weeding?”

She turned back to her boxes and the words turned unintelligible once more.

I watched Inara silently for a moment, as she bent to prod at the soil at the base of some stakes that were leaning a bit, grown too heavy with beans, before moving forward to stand beside my sister. I’d forgotten to braid her hair that morning, but luckily it didn’t look as though she’d ripped any of it out. She did that sometimes, especially if she was cooped up too long in the citadel. She’d grab at her hair, even her face sometimes, as if trying to claw away the roar in her head. But in the gardens, she kept her hands in the soil and on her plants, leaving her hair and face untouched. She was her most lucid when she worked in the garden, which was why I wished to spend time with her there. Inside the citadel when I approached her, she wouldn’t even respond to me. There was only her incessant chanting and muttering, pacing and jerking, her hands trembling. It set Mother’s nerves on edge, but far from annoying me, Inara’s inability to communicate made me hurt inside, a wound that I couldn’t pinpoint or heal, but that ached constantly. At times worse than others—such as the nights when Mother refused to even acknowledge her younger daughter at supper.

Out here, Inara really looked at me sometimes, and on her best days, she even spoke of her plants in brief spurts. There were times when we actually had what could pass for a normal conversation. That’s when the chasm inside me felt the smallest and hurt the least. I prayed today might be a good day; that would at least make the sour tang of guilt at the back of my throat easier to swallow. “Nara . . . these strawberry plants look like they’re wilting.”

She didn’t look up from the beans, so I slowly reached out and touched her elbow again, drawing her attention. When her blue-flame eyes met mine, I smiled and repeated what I’d said, while gently tugging her toward the plants that indeed appeared as if the sweltering heat were a bit too much for them.

“Can I do something to help?”

Inara was fifteen, three years younger than me. Though we were the same height, where I had inherited some of Mother’s softness—my hips were wider, my breasts larger—Inara was leaner, almost too thin. “One, two . . . three . . . one, two, three, four . . .” she mumbled, with a shake of her head.

“Tell me how I can help. Do you want me to fetch more water?” I’d never been able to figure out what the counting meant—but it usually was something she did when she was agitated. I glanced past her to the well, where a few empty buckets were piled haphazardly. An underground river ran below the citadel, and our well was dug down deep enough for us to gather water from it. Just outside the hedge, at the edge of the citadel, a huge waterfall suddenly broke free from underneath the structure, crashing to the earth far below us. It was depicted in multiple paintings and tapestries in the citadel—and though I’d never seen the waterfall myself, I knew them to be accurate because I could hear the waterfall on this side of the citadel.

But she ignored my offer to get water and stepped forward, reaching out to the plants.

“Four . . . five . . . five, six . . .”

Her fingers brushed over the brown-tipped leaves and the tiny buds where miniature strawberries had already begun to form with the gentleness of a mother’s soothing caress. Her eyes fluttered shut and her hands stilled . . . and then Inara stiffened with a sharp intake of breath as if she’d been stabbed.

Unbridled elation coalesced through my limbs, laving every trace of guilt away. Thiswas worth almost any cost—even the hurt in my mother’s eyes and the bloodstain on her stockings. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” I whispered my gratitude to the Great God as the blue fire that constantly burned in Inara’s eyes suddenly flared beneath her skin, racing through her veins—her cheeks, her neck, down her arms to her hands.

The very air changed when her eyes opened once more, so bright I couldn’t look directly into them. There was an acrid hint to the previously dry breeze, reminding me of the smell from striking flint with rocks to start a fire. I could even taste it on my tongue, a bitter, sharp tang.


Paladin magic.

There was no other explanation for what my sister could do, for the way the strawberry plants immediately straightened, the previously curled, semi-brown leaves unfurling into full greenness, as if woken from a slumber and stretching toward the sun and their full potential. Even the tiny strawberries grew before my eyes, turning a shade closer to red as Inara brushed her glowing fingers over them.

And then, with a groan, as if it took no small amount of effort, she pulled her hands back and the blue fire in her veins dimmed and then vanished.

When I looked into her face again, her eyes had dulled, the fire dimmed a bit. Inara blinked once, and then cocked her head as if listening for something. I heard nothing except for the nearby waterfall and the sound of leaves being rustled by the breeze that had turned fresh again, the bitter scent of her power gone with the disappearance of the Paladin fire in her veins; but I knew Inara suffered under the weight of a roar that remained silent to me. When she sighed, I couldn’t help but do the same, spurred by the sound of bone-deep relief issuing from my sister.

Then Inara looked directly at me, truly looked this time, and smiled—the first I’d seen in . . . a while. “Zuhra?”

My answering smile was accompanied by a tightness in my chest that somehow seemed attached to my eyes. I blinked rapidly to hold back the moisture that threatened to escape. This was why I begged to come out with her, why I cajoled Sami into getting more and more seeds for new plants on the rare occasions that she was able to venture to the market, why I prayed for inclement weather—or for days without rain. Why I preferred winter to summer, even though it was cold and dark and miserable and we rarely left the citadel, because that was when Inara had to work on keeping her plants alive inside the citadel, to encourage the vegetables to grow with almost no sunshine and very little warmth, which meant using her power far more often and greater amounts of it, too. And when I got Inara to tap into that magic, to help her plants, I got this in return. A handful of minutes with my sister in the summer, and sometimes a couple of miraculous hours in the winter, before she disappeared again, as surely as the fire in her veins always retreated back to her eyes.

Inara looked past me to the citadel, to the windows of the sitting room. “How long has it been?”

“Not that long,” I assured her, even though it actually had been over a week since she’d been this lucid. She’d tried to explain it to me once, years ago, about the roar in her head, the constant noise that drowned everything else out and threatened to drive her mad.

For some reason, when I got her to tap into her power, it abated and I got my sister—my real sister—to myself. Even if it was only for a few minutes.

There was so much to say, and yet I couldn’t decide where to start. There were never any guarantees of how long we had.

“Where’s Mother?” It was always the first question she asked, after wondering how long it had been. I forced myself to keep my gaze on her, not letting it trail up to the window where we’d both sat plying our needles for most of the day. My answer, too, was the same as always.

“Inside. She’s mad at me again,” I quickly added to keep Inara from dwelling on the fact that Mother avoided her as much as possible.

“What did you do now?” Inara pulled her gaze away from the empty window. Her words were slightly off. Mother claimed she was difficult to understand, but she was trying her best. I knew it wasn’t possible for us to comprehend how hard it must have been for her to learn language in such brief spurts throughout her life. Her lucid times had lasted longer as a child; I remembered reading stories to her for hours when she was little enough to sit in my lap, pointing out pictures to her, having her try to mimic my words. But as she grew older, her eyes got brighter and her lucid times began to shrink. In my opinion, it was a miracle she could speak at all. And if that meant expending a bit more effort for us to understand her, well, that was nothing compared to what she endured every minute of every day.

“She caught me reading one of the Paladin books again,” I admitted. “I snuck it out of the library. I thought she’d gone to bed, but apparently not. She noticed the candlelight beneath my door and walked in on me before I could hide it.”

“Did you find anything out—anything useful that—”

The eager questions cut off abruptly. Her eyes widened, her mouth falling open at something behind me, her face going pale beneath her sun-browned skin.

I spun around and screamed, stumbling backward.

There was a stranger in the gardens.

A male stranger—standing next to one of Inara’s trees.

My first irrational thought was that Terence had somehow come alive, but it only took one frantic beat of my heart to realize he was no Paladin. His eyes didn’t glow. And statues didn’t come to life. I’d hoped and feared that for too many years to believe otherwise.

“Pardon my interruption, but I was hoping you could help me. I’ve traveled some distance to visit the Citadel. We’d heard it was abandoned, but . . . obviously . . .” He gestured toward us. “Do you work here—can you direct me where I can go to inquire about lodging?”

I stared. My blood roared beneath my skin, my mouth gaped open. A stranger. There was a stranger. Here. Right now. I’d never seen a real, live male before, except for vague, time-smeared memories of my father. But this . . . this . . . person was standing there and he was talking and the hedge . . . The hedge had let him through?

The hedge didn’t allow anyone through. I still remembered the terror from the last time a group of soldiers had tried when I was ten; their shouts, the smoke from the torches they’d wielded rising above the immovable thorny beast that surrounded us, their screams when they’d tried to cut it down and the hedge had attacked. No one had come since then. No one had dared.

Then where had this . . . this man come from? Was that what he was? For some reason “man” didn’t seem like quite the right word. He appeared closer to my age than Mother’s or Sami’s.

After all these years—after all of Mother’s dreams that I’d never claimed for myself—she’d actually, unbelievably been right. The hedge had allowed a boy through.

As the disbelieving silence drew out, he cocked his head to the side, then his eyebrows lifted a bit. Was he . . . confused? I belatedly realized I had mirrored his movement. Maybe that wasn’t the best thing to do. I straightened my head again so fast it sent a sharp ping up my neck.

He cleared his throat and his voice was so different from mine or Sami’s or Mother’s when he started to speak again. “I realize I may be—” His gaze had been on me at first, as I stood closer to him, but then it flickered to Inara and he stopped. Stopped talking, stopped moving, perhaps even breathing.

It was like having Sami dump a bucket of icy water over my head during the winter months when I needed a bath but firewood had to be saved for more vital uses than warming water. It was unpleasant but effective at forcing me to act quickly. His reaction to Inara was that bucket of water sluicing over my astonishment at his appearance, propelling me to respond.

“Who are you?” My words were halting and uncertain and furious all at once. My legs were strangely stiff—from panic? From shock?—but I forced them to move, to carry my body in front of Inara, blocking my sister from view, though it was already too late. He stared through me as if I weren’t even there, as if he could still see Inara’s burning eyes through my skull. “Who are you?” I repeated, my voice rising. An unfamiliar sensation gripped me; I was hot and cold at once, my pulse a rickety thing, my blood careening through my body. Hope and fear clashed in a tangle of confusion.

Then Inara touched my arm—as I often did to her—and stepped up beside me. “Who is he, Zuhra?” Her fingers trembled but she stood shoulder to shoulder with me, the picture of courage— of poise . . . if one ignored the dirt crusted around her nails, laced in the grooves of the skin on her hands, the streak of it across her cheek, her ill-fitting clothes, bare ankles, her hair cascading over her shoulders, loose and wild in the breeze.

And her glowing blue eyes.

“I don’t know,” I murmured below my breath.

The stranger couldn’t take his gaze off her, which raised my hackles, the way our cat Louie’s ears flattened and his hair rose when he was agitated. But I couldn’t quite quell the curiosity that also swelled.

“Why are you at our home?” Inara asked, more loudly this time.

He blinked and visibly straightened, as if just realizing that he’d been staring at us—at her—in a daze for far too long. He was tall and angular, as if someone had stretched him a little bit further than they’d intended before he finished growing. His clothes were loose on his narrow shoulders and hips, but they looked fine enough, as if he’d purposefully had them made that way, rather than not having any other options like me and Inara. I scrambled to make sense of his sudden appearance in our garden. Sami was the only person the hedge had allowed through before. Why now—why him? My heart ricocheted off my ribs.

“I’m sorry, my manners . . .” He shook his head, cheeks flushing as he folded his frame forward into a bow. “I am Halvor Roskery, a scholar and traveler.” He straightened and pushed one hand through hair the color of dust, somewhere between light and dark brown with a suggestion of auburn woven through.

Halvor Roskery. My fingers twitched at my side; the rough fabric of Inara’s skirt brushed my skin.

“And . . . you are?” he prompted, his gaze still trained on my sister.

“Inara,” she said, her name coming out short, almost clipped. The tension radiating from her only amplified my own; she was shaking so hard I almost took her hand in mine to steady her.

“I’m Zuhra.” It was so quiet in the courtyard . . . could he hear the thundering of my heart? “We’re Inara and Zuhra Montieth.” He’d told us his full name—was that what was expected? Mother had taught me needlepoint but failed to explain how to introduce myself. Montieth was her last name, from before marrying our father. She always told us she used her surname because he left us. But I suspected it was because he had no surname—no Paladin did, from what I’d gathered in my subversive research.

“A pleasure to meet you.” He—Halvor—inclined his head once more, his eyes still on Inara.

“Why are you here?” I knew it wasn’t polite, but my limited time with Inara was wasting away by the second. And he had yet to spare me a second glance.

“Zuhra . . .” Her fingers sought mine and I clenched them tightly.

“No, she’s right to be suspicious.” Halvor mistook Inara’s reaction as scolding, rather than seeking comfort. “I’m sorry.”

“Sorry?” I echoed.

“I am going about this all the wrong way. You must understand how . . . unexpectedly thrilling this is, though.”

“Thrilling?” Stop repeating everything he says!

“After years of study and planning and traveling, I’m finally here. I made it. And not only did I find the Citadel of the Paladin . . . I found . . . well . . . you.” He gestured to Inara.

“You traveled for years to come here?” I tried to hide my shock at his casual naming of the citadel, but he didn’t even seem to hear me. So few wished to speak of the Paladin in any tone other than fear or anger—but he sounded . . . awed.

The way he looked at Inara went beyond wonder, however, his expression bordering on worshipful. “In all my preparations and hopes, I never dreamed . . . I mean, to find herhere—alive and in the flesh. I’m sure you’re accustomed to it, being her . . . governess?”

“What? No, I’m her sister.”

Sister?” he repeated, eyes wide. “That’s not possible.”

“I assure you she is.”

“But . . . you’re a human. And she’s”—Halvor paused and looked to Inara once more—“she’s a Paladin.”

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Sara B. Larson is the best-selling and critically acclaimed author of the YA fantasy DEFY trilogy (DEFY, IGNITE, and ENDURE) and the DARK BREAKS THE DAWN duology. Her next YA fantasy, SISTERS OF SHADOW AND LIGHT, comes out November 5th from Tor Teen. She can’t remember a time when she didn’t write books—although she now uses a computer instead of a Little Mermaid notebook. Sara lives in Utah with her husband, their four children, and their Maltese, Loki. She writes in brief snippets throughout the day and the quiet hours when most people are sleeping. Her husband claims she should have a degree in “the art of multitasking.” When she’s not mothering or writing, you can often find her at the gym repenting for her sugar addiction.