‘As a former SEAL, Nate was trained on escape and evasion. Few men could hide things better than a SEAL.’
Susan Sleeman begins a new series here and she surely does a great job. I love how she brings us the details of law enforcement, along with her super believable plots. The intricacy of her work amazes me every time I read one of her books. I don’t see how she can keep coming up with such wonderful stories time and again. But she never fails to bring me to the edge of my seat.
These characters are wonderful and I look forward to more books in this series! Action packed and full of surprises, this is one for the keeper shelf!
My thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book. The review is my own opinion.
3.5 Sweeping story of a wonderful family, father and son, who craft fine claddagh jewelry. An Irish father and son, in the midst of the Irish rebellion, who take on a titled aristocratic daughter of the new English landlord in their village. However, nine suspects the events heading their way in these troubled times.
Well done and fact based, this second novel from Jennifer Deibel will touch your heart.
My thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book. The opinion here is my own.
When a man arrives at the Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency, anxious to hire them to find a missing heiress, Eunice Holbrooke realizes her past has finally caught up with her . . . and that she may no longer be able to hide under the disguise that has kept her safe for so long.
Arthur Livingston’s goal in life is to make his mark on the world as a mining industrialist, but after the man who could help him achieve his goal is murdered, Arthur feels compelled to seek justice for the family–but he’s left with more questions than answers after the eccentric Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency refuses to take on his case.
Desperate to conceal her real identity and avoid the irritatingly handsome Arthur, Eunice takes on a different case that requires her to go deep undercover and entangles her in one troublesome situation after another. When other secrets come to light, Eunice has no choice but to confront her past, hopeful that it will set her free but knowing it could very well place her life–and the lives of those she loves–in jeopardy.
Jen has graciously offered to give away a print copy of To Disguise The Truth to one lucky reader. Sorry, due to pesky postages rates, this giveaway is limited to those living in the contiguous 48 United States. To enter the giveaway, you need to do three things: 1. Leave a comment on this blog. 2. Give your full name 3. Leave your email in a non-spammy format. Example: Susan (at) yahoo (dot) com.
The giveaway will last for one week.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Were you a reader as a child?
Unlike a lot of authors I know, I never really considered becoming a writer when I was younger. I merely fell into it when my son was in third grade and we plodded through this horrendous series about this owl. After we finished book number six, he told me that the stories I used to make up for him when he was little – because being in third grade was so old – were far better than the series we’d just read. We decided to write a book together, just for fun, mind you, but I discovered that I really enjoyed using my brain again after being a stay-at-home mom for years. It took me seven manuscripts before I perfected my craft enough to secure an agent, and then she very kindly sold one of my books, A Change ofFortune, to Bethany House. I’ve been writing for them ever since.
And, yes, I’ve always been a reader. I learned to read when I was three because I was really shy and used to disappear into my closet with a book. My mom fixed up a reading spot for me in there, and before everyone knew it, I could read on my own.
Why did you decide to write in this particular time period?
Interestingly enough, when I first tried my hand at historical romance, I wrote during the Regency period. But then, as I was perusing research books, I stumbled across this fascinating book – Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt: The Story of a Daughter and a Mother in the Gilded Age. After I read it, I was hooked. In all honesty, I knew next to nothing about the Gilded Age, but the more I delved into it, the more I knew I wanted to write a story set in that time. That book turned out to be A Change of Fortune, and I’ve been writing in the Gilded Age from that book on. I now know more about that period in time than I ever imagined, but in a good way.
Your books are so hilarious. I often find myself laughing uproariously, once even scared my dog. I go back and read funny passages all over again just so I can laugh some more. Do you consider yourself a funny or particularly witty person.
You know, I’ve always had a weird sense of humor. And in all honesty, people either find me amusing or else they think I’ve lost my mind. I’m good with either reaction.
Do you have inspirations for your characters?
I use a lot of traits from people I know in all of my characters, but I never tell my friends if I’ve crafted a character specifically after them because, well, what if they don’t like how I created that character? I also find inspiration from just watching people. People fascinate me, what with all their quirks and delightful idiosyncrasies, and I can amuse myself for hours simply sitting in a café watching everyone come and go. I’m a shameless eavesdropper, and you would not believe the fodder for stories I’ve gotten from that eavesdropping.
How long does it take you to write a book?
That depends. Normally it takes about four months. Then two months on and off with edits. Writing through the beginning of Covid almost killed me, though, which is why I decided to take nine months between books for my next series, The Matchmakers. Oddly enough, because I haven’t been under any pressure, I wrote the first book in that series in two months, and now I’m way ahead of schedule. Who knew that writing would get easier if I wasn’t faced with such daunting deadlines?
What does a writing day look like for you? Do you write every day?
I’m a morning person, so I get up before six. I’m at my desk by eight, and I usually put in at least eight hours of writing during weekdays, unless I’m under a deadline, or finishing up a book – then it’s twelve to eighteen hours. I don’t work on the weekends unless I’m under deadline, but it’s definitely a job, so that’s how I approach it. Contracts that come with pesky deadlines seem to help keep me on track.
Do you have a favorite character or series?
I do have a favorite character and book. Ready? It’s “Diamond in the Rough” with my favorite character being Poppy Garrison, and no, I have no idea why. Also, don’t tell anyone because my other characters may stage a revolt if word gets out.
When I read your books, as I mentioned earlier, I am always completely undone with laughter in parts. Is this what you want readers to do?
Yes. One of the best parts of my job is getting letters from readers, telling me my stories amuse them. Life is tough, so my hope with every book is that I’m providing someone with a few hours of escape from their worries, and perhaps giving them a smile or two in the process.
Can you tell my readers more about the New York Four Hundred?
This is a question I could speak about for hours – but the condensed version is this – The New York Four Hundred came about because, after the Civil War, fortunes were being made like never before. Well, all of sudden, these nouveau riche as they were called, were trying to breach the walls of old New York society. Something had to be done to keep them out – enter Mr. Ward McAllister and Mrs. Astor. They formed an alliance, along with lists of people ‘we know’ who were then proclaimed to be acceptable in society’s eyes. Newcomers were left out in the cold, given the cut direct unless they could win Mrs. Astor’s favor. She believed that anyone who could trace their fortune back three generations could be considered for society, which is how Alva Vanderbilt was finally able to get Mrs. Astor’s agreement to allow the Vanderbilt family into high society. As for the name, The New York Four Hundred, that came about merely because only 400 guests could fit comfortably in the ballroom of Mrs. Astor’s Fifth Avenue brownstone.
Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Jen. I’m sure everyone has enjoyed it as much as I have. Now, folks, don’t forget to enter the giveaway. Scroll back to see exactly how to do that. And check below for my review.
My Rating: 5 Stars!
‘How can you honestly think a woman who shot you is going to want to marry you?’
When Jen Turano began The Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency series, I was so much looking forward to the mysterious Eunice’s story. Eunice, who wears widow’s weeds and several veils at a time. And Turano does not disappoint.
It seems Eunice has some serious secrets in her past and in one evening, they have turned up to smack her right in the face and she is at a loss as to how to handle it. Eunice, who seems to have an answer for everything.
Turano is the best with her dry wit, let me tell you. Her books never fail to bring me to absolute hilarity! She is completely perfect in her genre. Reading her books bring me such complete joy! Well done!
My thanks to Bethany House Publishers for a copy of this book via Net Galley. The review here is my own opinion.
USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances, including Fair as a Star, a Library Journal Best Romance of 2020; Gentleman Jim, a Kirkus Best Indie Romance of 2020; and The Work of Art, winner of the 2020 HOLT Medallion. Mimi’s novels have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine.
In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats. Her next romance, The Siren of Sussex, will be out in 2022 from Berkley/Penguin Random House. To learn more, please visit http://www.MimiMatthews.com
I became a fan of Mimi Matthews the first time I read one of her books. I quickly read her back list and eagerly await each new story from her. This one was no exception.
‘I’m accustomed to not getting what I want.’
This time, Matthews brings us a story full of her usual richness and depth of emotion. An Indian dressmaker and a aristocratic young woman who is determined to acquire his services to make her a magnificent riding habit. That he does, but neither are prepared for what this action will do for either. A wonderful story here and one to be sitting proudly on my shelves. I also love the way Matthews weaves actual history into her books. I always go and check all of this out because I love history. Well done! Now I have to wait so long to read her next book. My thanks to the publisher for an early copy of this book. The opinion in this review entirely my own.
What inspired the storyline and characters in The Winter Rose? Are any based on real historical figures?
I used to teach at George Fox University, a school in Oregon founded by the Religious Society of Friends, and had the privilege of learning about Quaker history there. The characters and storyline for this novel are a culmination of research and personal experience, and while The Winter Rose isn’t based on the life of one historical figure, Grace—my Quaker heroine in Nazi-occupied France—was inspired by women like Mary Elmes, Alice Resch, and Marjorie McClelland who cared for children during World War II through the American Friends Service Committee.
Tell us about some of the core themes of The Winter Rose. How do you hope these themes will resonate with and challenge your readers?
Beauty in brokenness was one of the most important themes in The Winter Rose.I was hoping to demonstrate the French concept of brocante—salvaging items that someone else trashed, then restoring and repurposing them in their brokenness for something new. I wanted to show how God can heal the most painful of wounds, restore complicated relationships, and through the incredible power of forgiveness and prayer, use the nicks and gashes and ultimately redemption in our stories for good.
What role does faith play in this story?
Faith is integral to both my past and present protagonists in this time-slip story. Grace is a devout Quaker in the 1940s who craves peace, beauty, and simplicity. The Nazi occupation of France and persecution of the Jewish people turns her world upside down, and she has to wrestle with how to fight against evil in her world. In the contemporary story, my two main characters are also struggling to recover from painful events. Addie, a widow in her twenties, is trying to recover from her husband’s deception, and her mentor, an older man named Charlie, has to confront the tragic choices and trauma from his childhood in order to find healing for himself and his family.
Who did you write this book for?
I wrote The Winter Rose for readers who love to learn about history and enjoy being inspired and challenged through fiction. Part of this story was poured straight out of my heart for moms who’ve had a child they love turn away from their faith and family. My hope is that the heartache and eventually redemption among my fictional characters will encourage parents to never stop praying for their kids.
How is the perspective of The Winter Rose unique compared to other novels in the WWII genre?
I’m not familiar with any other novels featuring Quaker characters who help kids escape Nazi-occupied France. This story is also unique in that much of it takes place after World War II as the characters process the loss and abandonment in their past and wrestle through their dreams for the future. Ultimately my characters must use their unique gifts to bring truth and grace into their world and fight in their own way to rescue others.
What was one of the most surprising things you discovered in your research for this novel?
Usually I travel to my main settings to research my novels, but with the pandemic, I wasn’t able to go to France or even to the American Friends archives in Philadelphia. People were incredibly generous with their time and resources to get me the information I needed for this story. The AFSC archivist answered my many questions, digging through files from home and forwarding them to me. The president of the American Synesthesia Association, Carol Steen, spent a significant amount of time on Zoom to help me build my synesthete character of Marguerite. During our time together, I was surprised to learn that synesthesia has been recognized in Europe for more than a hundred years. Carol also educated me on the artistic talents of those who see words, numbers, or emotions in vibrant color.
Then our Zoom world gave me the opportunity to connect with a Jewish gentleman who was rescued by Mary Elmes in 1942 and hidden in France for the remainder of the war. I was tremendously honored that he would share his story with me. While visiting a location and interviewing in person is ideal, it was a blessing in this strange, difficult season to find others willing to help me compile all the factual information needed to write The Winter Rose.
Where did you get the idea for Grace Tonquin’s connection to Oregon and the Quaker community? Was her story inspired by anything from your own life?
This is my sixth novel set during World War II, and as I research each book, I often learn new things that I’m not able to use in my current story. I originally learned about the Quakers’ work as I wrote The Curator’s Daughter, and before I started my next book, I spoke with several Friends about the possibilities. While I wasn’t able to travel overseas, I spent several days writing at a local Quaker retreat center with a lake that inspired Tonquin Lake in The Winter Rose. I pour a bit of myself into every novel I write and pieces of this story were inspired by my belief in God’s power to redeem families.
Which was your favorite character to write? Which one was the most challenging to write?
I had several favorite characters! Marguerite was a super fun character to write with her ability to see emotion in color and her passion to paint what she saw on the chateau walls. I also liked writing from the perspective of Louis who had been wounded deeply as a child and was living a lie in his later years. What a relief for me, as the author, to be able to offer him the gift of restoration. I was going to say that the perspective of Grace, my historical protagonist, was challenging to write, but Addie, the heroine in my contemporary story, who was even more challenging. I changed her backstory several times as I tried to understand where she came from and what happened to her deceased husband. While it stretched me as a writer, I was so pleased in the end with how Grace and Addie overcame the trauma from their pasts and fought for those they loved.
Many of your books are in the historical fiction genre. How do you come up with fresh ideas? What is it about the WWII era that you find most fascinating?
Often my novels stem from dilemmas that I’m wrestling through in my personal life and sometimes they are inspired by a friend’s story or something that I’ve read or a place I’ve visited, wondering what happened there. I’m a dreamer by nature so my mind often wanders between fact and fiction. Even something seemingly simple, like the weeping willow in this novel, can spark an entire plotline for me.
The World War II era is fascinating because a small group of people are still alive who remember what happened, some of who are just now sharing their story. We don’t always know the motivations of historical figures, but much of what occurred during the Holocaust was undeniably good or evil. As a Christ follower, I believe there is a spiritual enemy in our world, and World War II clearly illustrates this battle between right and wrong. It is my honor, as a novelist, to share the stories of men and women who risked their lives in the midst of evil to love others.
Can you tell us about some of your upcoming projects?
Right now I’m working on a series of books for younger readers called The Magic Portal, and it has been pure joy for me to brainstorm with my daughters to create these fairyland books.I’m also preparing to write a time-slip novel about a girl named Poppy who was lost a hundred years ago in the Thousand Islands of New York.
The Winter Rose by Melanie Dobson
January 11, 2022
Hardcover | 978-1-4964-4421-9 | $25.99
Softcover | 978-1-4964-4422-6 | $15.99
400 pages | Tyndale.com
‘She could endure, with God’s help, for twenty-four hours.’
How do I begin a review for this book? Melanie Dobson’s books always take me away to a different time and place, places filled with danger, great pain and heartache, populated with wonderful and heroic characters whose hearts shine through the dread darkness in which they live.
‘How did one explain the importance of truth to a child who’d had to deceive in order to survive? To lie in order to live?’
Dobson’s split time novels have brought me many hours of reading entertainment, great sadness, but redeemed with great joy as I watch her bring her characters through some of the darkest times imaginable. This time was no different. When I see a new book by Melanie Dobson, it’s an automatic read. I don’t even need to read the synopsis. I can without reservation highly recommend this author. Her stories are based on actual history that brings them so alive and she brings incredibly deep emotion for them that will remain with the reader a very long time after the book is finished. Well done!
My thanks to Tyndale House for a copy of this book. The opinion in this review is expressly my own.
I have long enjoyed Lynette Eason’s writing. Her suspense stories are so good. This one has a particularly good plot that I really liked a lot. A murdered woman with a secret that led to any more secrets. Very nicely done.
My thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book via Net Galley. The opinion here is my own.
Christy Award-winning author, Laura Frantz, is passionate about all things historical, particularly the 18th-century, and writes her manuscripts in longhand first. Her stories often incorporate Scottish themes that reflect her family heritage. She is a direct descendant of George Hume, Wedderburn Castle, Berwickshire, Scotland, who was exiled to the American colonies for his role in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, settled in Virginia, and is credited with teaching George Washington surveying in the years 1748-1750. Proud of her heritage, she is also a Daughter of the American Revolution. When not at home in Kentucky, she and her husband live in Washington State.
According to Publishers Weekly, “Frantz has done her historical homework.” With her signature attention to historical detail and emotional depth, she is represented by Janet Kobobel Grant, Literary Agent & Founder, Books & Such Literary Agency of Santa Rosa, California. Foreign language editions include French, Dutch, Spanish, Slovakian, & Polish.
*Subscribe to Laura’s seasonal newsletter and receive new release information, news about contests, giveaways, and reader events, sneak peaks and teasers, signings and appearances, and more! To subscribe, copy and paste this into your browser’s address window:
‘Her fervent prayers went the way of her hopes and became floating wreckage. As the years passed, it hardly seemed to matter.’
Laura Frantz is a very particular favorite of mine and her books occupy serious real estate on my shelves. I love history and her historicals are the absolute best. Her research is impeccable, and she always gives me at least two words to research their meanings. I love it!
Reading one of Frantz’s books is like sitting down to a full, rich banquet. You love everything you see and you just can’t stop at the bounty before you. Her words flow over the page like water over a waterfall, so beautiful and refreshing. Her vivid descriptions take the reader far away into the story and we leave the world behind as we linger there indefinitely, saddened at the ending of such a treasure. She leaves me so enchanted that I want to meander the roads and forest in her magnificent tales. Reality fades away into the background as I read. Bravo! I can without reservation highly recommend not only this book, but this author.
My thanks to Revell Publishing for a copy of this book via Net Galley. The opinion in this review is expressly my own.
ONTO the GIVEAWAY!
Leave a blog post comment, including your full name and email in a non spam formula (example: susan (at) yahoo (dot) come.
Giveaway will end on Tuesday, January 11, 2022. I will choose a winner at random and notify them via email. They will have 24 hours to respond. If they do not, I will choose another winner. Good luck to everyone!