The Edge of Belonging: Top Five

THE EDGE OF BELONGING

by AMANDA COX 

Genre: Christian Contemporary Fiction 
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: September 8, 2020
Number of Pages: 400

Scroll down for the giveaway!

When Ivy Rose returns to her hometown to oversee her late grandmother’s estate sale, she soon discovers that the woman left behind more than trinkets and photo framesshe provided a path to the truth behind Ivy’s adoption. Shocked, Ivy seeks clues to her past, but a key piece to the mystery is missing.

Twenty-four years earlier, Harvey James finds an abandoned newborn who gives him a sense of human connection for the first time in his life. His desire to care for the baby runs up against the stark fact that he is homeless. When he becomes entwined with two people seeking to help him find his way, Harvey knows he must keep the baby a secret or risk losing the only person he’s ever loved.
In this dual-timeline story from debut novelist Amanda Cox, the truthboth the search for it and the desire to keep it from otherstakes center stage as Ivy and Harvey grapple with love, loss, and letting go.
 

My Top 5 Ingredients for Character Creation

by Amanda Cox, author of

The Edge of Belonging

Character creation is one of my favorite elements of writing. Characters often come to me before the plot. Once I know the character, I’m able to see what the plot needs to take a character from where they start at the beginning of the book to the character they grow to be at the end. I often tap into my experience as a counselor to make these story decisions. These are my top five things that make characters come alive for me.

1. The brokenness they enter the story with, or their backstory: We all have a story behind who we are and why we are motivated to make certain choices in life. If we all have a story of where we came from, my fiction characters need that too! I often know the character’s backstory before I know the plotline that appears on the page. Elements from the character backstory usually provide barriers between the character and their deepest desire (or even being able to name what that desire is). This was especially true for one of my point-of-view characters, Pearl, in The Edge of Belonging.

2. The people/events who shape my characters, for better and worse: All of my characters have both positive influences and negative influences that have shaped them. I need to understand who and what those influences are as a part of character creation. Those positive and negative people and circumstances build my characters’ strengths. After all, most weaknesses are strengths that are overly relied upon, placing the character in unhealthy behavior patterns. In The Edge of Belonging, Harvey’s staunch independence, resulting from his experiences in foster care, was necessary for his survival and resilience, but that same coping skill is the very thing that has kept him from a deep human need he can’t even bring himself to admit.

3. Deeply held values: I have to know what matters to my characters: values of family and connections, values related to safety and self-preservation, values of independence or the opposite of that. My characters’ deep-seated values will inform me of how they will react to the events of the plot. In creating Ivy, I thought a lot about what it would have been like to be raised by her family—this cast of characters who would never take family for granted because they each had to fight so hard to find it. Forsaking this deeply held value is part of why Ivy finds herself feeling quite lost at the beginning of The Edge of Belonging.

4. Identifying their deepest desire: I often identify my characters’ deepest desires by looking at their brokenness. When we are broken as people, there is something there that craves restoration and redemption of the thing lost. By digging around in that space, I find what my character truly wants, which shapes the way they move through the story. Identifying Harvey’s deepest desire was a tender process. It involved looking back into his painful past and feeling what he must have felt. Acknowledging the heartbreaking truth that Harvey believed he was incapable and unworthy of his childlike desire for love was such an important part of the process for developing his character.

5. Discovering the catalyst for change: Anytime someone, fictional or real, makes a true and lasting change in their life there has to be a catalyst for that change. Not just any event will do, and it must happen at the right moment in the story for the character to be ready for that change to happen. It also has to be something that will impact a character in a very specific way. It might be a big event or a subtle, slow burn that makes that impact. But there comes a point about midway through the story in which a character is like a caterpillar in their cocoon. They aren’t a butterfly yet and don’t exactly know how their transformation will complete itself, but they know there is no going back to the person they once were. They can’t return to their previous state. One such point for Harvey occurs when he realizes that he is angry at another character named Pearl, and this anger causes him to realize that something in him has shifted. He realizes that this anger means he has forged a human connection beyond the infant he has rescued. It leads him to wonder if there is more love accessible to him than he previously believed.

While there are many other important ingredients in character creation, these are my top five must-haves for every character before I start writing my plot.

Amanda Cox is a blogger and a curriculum developer for a national nonprofit youth leadership organization, but her first love is communicating through story. 

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Bible and theology and a master’s degree in professional counseling. Her studies and her interactions with hurting families over a decade have allowed her to create multidimensional characters that connect emotionally with readers. 
 
Amanda lives in Tennessee with her husband and their three children.
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1st: Copy of The Edge of Belonging + Fern Tote Bag 
+ $25 Barnes and Noble Gift Card 
2nd and 3rd: Copy of The Edge of Belonging
+ $10 Barnes and Noble Gift Card 
September 1-11, 2020
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FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY. 

 

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9/1/20
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9/1/20
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9/2/20
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9/3/20
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9/4/20
Review
9/5/20
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9/6/20
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9/8/20
Top Five List
9/9/20
Review
9/9/20
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9/10/20
Review

   
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A Vote Is A Powerful Thing: Blitz

A VOTE IS A 
POWERFUL THING
By CATHERINE STIER
Illustrated by Courtney Dawson
 
Children’s Picture Book / American Historical Fiction / Elections and Voting 
Ages 4-7
Date of Publication: September 1, 2020
Number of Pages: 32
 
Scroll down for the giveaway!

 

Callie knows there’s a presidential election coming up, and people will soon vote to decide the country’s leader. 
 
Her class is having an election too, about an issue that affects them all–the class field trip. Should they choose the cookie factory or the wilderness park? 
 
Join Callie as she campaigns for the wilderness park she loves and learns how people have organized, marched, and protested for the right to vote. And find out how a vote–even just one vote–can make a difference!
PRAISE FOR A VOTE IS A POWERFUL THING
“Gets the job done.” ―Kirkus Reviews 
 
“A galvanizing read for children interested in politics or parents who hope to instill such interests.” ―Publishers Weekly
 
CLICK TO PURCHASE

 

Catherine Stier is the author of several awarding-winning children’s books. Her titles include If I Were President, If I Ran for President, If I Were a Park Ranger, and the A Dog’s Day chapter-book series. In grade school, Catherine ran a class campaign for student council with handmade signs, and, although she didn’t win, she found the process exciting! She went on to earn an MA in reading and literacy from the University of Texas at San Antonio and has conducted children’s literature research. She now resides with her husband in San Antonio and volunteers at a local wilderness park.

 

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patriotic socks, button, and pencils; plus a $15 gift card to The Twig Book Shop.
 
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Airborne Blog Tour: Author Video and Giveaway


AIRBORNE
by DiANN MILLS

Genre: Christian Romantic Suspense 
Date of Publication: September 8, 2020
Number of Pages: 400 Scroll down for the giveaway!


Heather Lawrence’s long-awaited vacation to Salzburg wasn’t supposed to go like this. Mere hours into the transatlantic flight, the Houston FBI agent is awakened when passengers begin exhibiting horrific symptoms of an unknown infection. As the virus quickly spreads and dozens of passengers fall ill, Heather fears she’s witnessing an epidemic similar to ones her estranged husband studies for a living—but this airborne contagion may have been deliberately released. While Heather remains quarantined with other survivors, she works with her FBI colleagues to identify the person behind this attack. The prime suspect? Dr. Chad Lawrence, an expert in his field … and Heather’s husband. The Lawrences’ marriage has been on the rocks since Chad announced his career took precedence over his wife and future family and moved out. 
As more victims fall prey days after the initial outbreak, time’s running out to hunt down the killer, one who may be closer to the victims than anyone ever expected.

=== A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR The story line for Airborne came to me three and a half years ago. All I had was a what-if: A virus unleashed on an international flight. The search to find experts who were willing to give me accurate information took another year. Along the way, God placed the right people in my path: a woman and new friend whose doctorate is in microbiology and immunology, a man who trains flight attendants for the airline that I envisioned in my story, a pilot who not only flies for my designated airline but is also a suspense and thriller writer, the amazing people and resources of the CDC, and the wisdom and guidance of the FBI. Tyndale House Publishers saw my passion for Airborne. This book was completed and edited before COVID-19 spread across our globe. My mission then and now is to show a story that weaves hope, reality, and the sacrificial work of first responders when a deadly virus spreads through innocent people. My prayer is people will experience God’s presence during our current global crisis. Will you join me in that prayer?


  
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Research Behind Airborne by DiAnn Mills



DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; director, alongside Edie Melson, of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and Mountainside Retreats; and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. DiAnn is passionate about helping other writers be successful and speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. She and her husband live in sunny Houston. DiAnn is very active online and loves to connect with readers on social media and at diannmills.com

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FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY. 

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8/18/20
Book Trailer
8/18/20
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8/19/20
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8/19/20
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8/20/20
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8/20/20
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8/21/20
Review
8/22/20
Excerpt
8/23/20
Excerpt
8/24/20
Scrapbook
8/24/20
Review
8/25/20
Character Interview
8/26/20
Review
8/26/20
Author Video
8/27/20
Review
8/27/20
Review

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Nacho’s Nacho’s: Review

NACHO’S NACHOS
The Story Behind the 
World’s Favorite Snack
by
Sandra Nickel
Illustrated by 
Oliver Dominguez

Genre: Picture Book / Nonfiction / Food History / Latinx Interest 
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
Publication Date: August 11, 2020
Number of Pages: 32
Scroll down for the giveaway!

NACHO’S NACHOS is the deliciously true story about how nachos were invented—about what happened when a regular customer asked Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya for something new, and there were no chefs in the kitchen. 

 
2020 is the eightieth anniversary of the invention, and Oliver Dominguez’s illustrations transport us back to the border of the Rio Grande in 1940, when Nacho’s quick thinking resulted in a snack now eaten everywhere from Texas to Paris to Hong Kong!

 

CLICK TO PURCHASE:


This book basically has two of my favorite things in it. Art and cheese related food. I’m not ashamed to say it. So I’ll split it into parts.

 

The Art:
I will try to express how much I love the art style in this book. I was instantly blown away by the composition and level of detail. Dominguez truly shows such care and passion in his artwork. The expressions of every person jumps out from the page, bringing it to life with joy and spirit. It also brought back those great memories of making tortilla’s with my mom and grandma in her kitchen. I’m fairly sure my grandma used to have the shirt Ignacio’s foster mom was wearing as well. I especially love the use of colors that stay in theme throughout and makes the story flow. The use of texture and point of view keep you interested and brings energy to every scene. The neon lights were very impressive too! I seriously loved it beginning to end.

 

The history of Nacho and nachos:
Do you ever hear the history of something and wonder why you never thought of it before? I never thought about where or when nacho’s came into being. It just seemed like an obvious snack that everyone knows about. However, my eyes and tastebuds have opened because there’s so much more to the story. To read Ignacio’s history was an absolute treat. I never knew that nacho’s started out so simple and spur of the moment. From Nickel’s research to finding an interview of Ignacio himself, I was really impressed by the easy to read backstory and additional history of its popularity at the end. Plus the recipe! I’ve never tried Nacho’s nachos recipe but I certainly shall!

 

There’s a great giveaway included in this tour so take your chance now to win a copy! I want to thank Lone Star Book Blog Tours for allowing me to review this book and inspire me to find out more about the history of what brings smiles to the world. We need it!

 

Sandra Nickel writes books and poetry for young readers. In 2020 and 2021, she has three books coming out: Nacho’s Nachos: The Story Behind the World’s Favorite Snack (Lee & Low), The Stuff Between the Stars: How Vera Rubin Discovered Most of the Universe (Abrams), and Breaking Through the Clouds: The Sometimes Turbulent Life of Meteorologist Joanne Simpson (Abrams). Sandra’s poetry can be found in SCOOP magazine. 

 
Sandra holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has presented workshops on writing for children and young adults throughout Europe and the United States. Sandra has twice won the Katherine Paterson Prize for picture books.
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8/20/20
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8/20/20
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8/21/20
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8/21/20
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8/23/20
Author Interview
8/24/20
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8/25/20
Review
8/25/20
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8/26/20
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8/27/20
Review
8/28/20
Review
8/28/20
Top Ten
8/29/20
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8/29/20
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The Secret of You and Me: Guest Post and Giveaway

THE SECRET OF YOU AND ME
by
MELISSA LENHARDT
Genre: Women’s Fiction / Romance  Publisher:  Graydon House (Harlequin)
Date of Publication: August 4, 2020
Number of Pages: 352 Scroll down for the giveaway!
True love never fades—and old secrets never die . . . 
Nora hasn’t looked back. Not since she fled Texas to start a new life. Away from her father’s volatile temper and the ever-watchful gaze of her claustrophobically conservative small town, Nora has freed herself. She can live—and love—however she wants. The only problem is that she also left behind the one woman she can’t forget. Now tragedy calls her back home to confront her past—and reconcile her future. Sophie seems to have everything—a wonderful daughter, a successful husband, and a rewarding career. Yet underneath that perfection lies an explosive secret. She still yearns for Nora—her best friend and first love—despite all the years between them. Keeping her true self hidden hasn’t been easy, but it’s been necessary. So when Sophie finds out that Nora has returned, she hopes Nora’s stay is short. The life she has built depends on it. But they both find that first love doesn’t fade easily. Memories come to light, passion ignites, and old feelings resurface. As the forces of family and intolerance that once tore them apart begin to reemerge, they realize some things may never change—unless they demand it.
                          
PRAISE FOR THE SECRET OF YOU AND ME: “A compelling story of second chances and being true to yourself.” —Harper Bliss, bestselling author of Seasons of Love
“Lenhardt convinces in her portrayal of the conflict between desire and control.” —Publishers Weekly
CLICK TO PURCHASE
(Personalized/signed copies available through Interabang)
A portion of royalties are going to the It Gets Better Project (Click for more details.)

It Gets Better

by Melissa Lenhardt,

author of The Secret of You and Me

I have been trying to write a modern-day version of Persuasion for over a decade. When I had a break between contracted books at the beginning of 2016, I decided to tackle the project again. I would set it in Texas, naturally, and went about staring at walls and the tree outside my office window for character inspiration. When Nora and Charlie walked into my head, I tried to imagine who would have the outsized influence on Nora that Lady Russell had on Anne Elliott. If I stuck with the Persuasion outline, it would be a mother figure. Nothing about writing that scenario appealed to me. (I decided early on not to do a faithful scene for scene, character for character retelling, but more of an homage to Persuasion, like Bridget Jones’s Diary is to Pride and Prejudice.) Then Sophie Russell knocked on the door of my imagination and said, “Hi, I’m about to take over your book. Hope you don’t mind.”

 

As Nora, Sophie, and Charlie coalesced, I realized something; Sophie was in love with Nora, and the feeling was mutual.

 

As someone who didn’t identify with the LGBTQ community, I needed to ask for help, do my research, listen to feedback from lesbians and bisexual women, and admit, I’m ignorant; please help. I have a lovely friend, Kat, who encouraged me to write the story and offered to read it and help me with representation.

 

I expected this book to be challenging to write since it wasn’t my lived experience. But, falling in love is falling in love, and it was easy to imagine Nora and Sophie feeling the same as I did when I fell in love with my husband. I didn’t realize until I read the first draft that Sophie’s experiences and challenges mirrored the challenges I observed firsthand of a loved one of mine who’d been closeted in a small town. I thought about what they’d gone through and how it affected their happiness and success for years and determined to do what I could to help. Shutting up and listening and believing the experiences of marginalized communities is the first step to understanding. I wasn’t about to barrel my woke-white-lady way into a movement and try to take over or even ask the community to do the work for me by saying, I’m here to help. Tell me what to do.

 

I decided the best way to support the community, at present, is to donate a portion of my royalties to an LGBTQ youth charity, and the It Gets Better Project fits perfectly.

From the It Gets Better Project website:

 

The It Gets Better Project is a nonprofit organization with a mission to uplift, empower, and connect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth around the globe. Growing up isn’t easy, especially when you are trying to affirm and assert your sexual orientation and/or gender identity. It can be a challenging and isolating process—but, the good news is, no one has to do it alone.

 

I don’t want LGBTQ youth to have to go through the same struggles my loved one did, which is why I’m donating 10 percent of my royalties from The Secret of You and Me to the It Gets Better Project. Visit their website for more information or to donate directly.



Melissa Lenhardt is a women’s fiction, mystery, and historical fiction author. Her debut mystery, Stillwater, was a finalist for the 2014 Whidbey Writers’ MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest, and Sawbones, her historical-fiction debut, was hailed as a “thoroughly original, smart and satisfying hybrid, perhaps a new sub-genre: the feminist Western” by Lone Star Literary Life. The New York Times called her sixth novel, Heresy, “An all-out women-driven, queer, transgender, multiracial takeover of the Old West.” The Secret of You and Me, her seventh novel and her first contemporary women’s fiction novel, was published on August 4, 2020. When Melissa isn’t writing, she’s thinking, “I really should be writing,” and eating Nutella or peanut butter straight out of the jar. A lifelong Texan, she lives in the Dallas area with her husband, two sons, and two Golden Retrievers.
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 August 11-21, 2020
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FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY. 
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8/11/20
Review
8/12/20
Review
8/12/20
BONUS Post
8/13/20
Review
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Top Six List
8/14/20
Review
8/15/20
Excerpt
8/16/20
Guest Post
8/17/20
Review
8/17/20
Review
8/18/20
Audio Spotlight
8/19/20
Review
8/19/20
Review
8/20/20
Review
8/20/20
Review

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The Black Midnight: Excerpt and Giveaway


THE BLACK MIDNIGHT
by
Kathleen Y’Barbo

Genre: Fiction / Historical Mystery / True Crime  
Publisher: Barbour Books 
Publication Date: August 1, 2020 
Number of Pages: 257

 Scroll down for the giveaway!


Two killers, two detectives, and a menace called The Black Midnight may be the death of both of them. Three years before Jack the Ripper began his murderous spree on the streets of London, a killer struck fear into the hearts of the citizens of Austin, Texas. Some believe one man is responsible for both, while others lay the blame at the feet of someone close to the queen herself. With suspicion falling on Her Majesty’s family and Scotland Yard at a loss as to who the Ripper might be, Queen Victoria summons her great-granddaughter, Alice Anne von Wettin, a former Pinkerton agent who worked the unsolved Austin murders case, and orders her to discreetly form a team to look into the London matter. One man is essential to her team, and she doesn’t want to consider taking on this challenge without his expertise. Unfortunately, he’s back in Texas, with a bad attitude and a new profession. 
The prospect of a second chance at catching the man who terrorized Austin three years ago just might entice Isaiah Joplin out of his comfortable life as an Austin lawyer, even if it does mean working with the Queen’s great-granddaughter again. If his theories are right, they’ll find the Midnight Assassin and, by default, the Ripper. If they’re wrong, he and Annie are in a bigger mess than the one the lady detective left behind when she departed Austin under cover of darkness three years ago. 
Can the unlikely pair find the truth of who is behind the murders before they are drawn into the killer’s deadly game? From Texas to London, the story navigates the fine line between truth and fiction as Annie and Isaiah ultimately find the hunters have become the hunted.
PRAISE for The Black Midnight: 
“Warning! Don’t read this historical romantic suspense at night!” DiAnn Mills, Expect an Adventure 
“Impeccably researched with sparkling dialogue and riveting history, Kathleen Y’Barbo’s The Black Midnight puts a pair of star-crossed Pinkerton detectives on the trail of a Texas killer who may also be the notorious Jack the Ripper. Very highly recommended and sure to keep you reading well past your bedtime!!” Colleen Thompson, RITA-nominated author of Deadly Texas Summer 
“You’re in for a wild ride as Kathleen Y’Barbo takes you on a story through some of America and Britain’s grisliest murders and somehow manages to weave in a delicious romance. From Texas to London, the ties that bind may be more linked than you previously believed. Settle in for a novel of suspense and romancejust be sure to look over your shoulder every now and then!” Jaime Jo Wright, 2018 Christy Award-winning author of The House on Foster Hill and 2020 Inspy Award-nominated The Curse of Misty Wayfair

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Excerpt from Chapter 22 of The Black Midnight

by Kathleen Y’Barbo

Part 1 

A meeting with Queen Victoria’s advisors

Buckingham Palace, London

April 1889

 

“You may speak freely here,” Annie told him.

“Very well, it concerns your relative, Prince Albert Victor.”

Her attention went to the prime minister who showed no reaction. Then she turned to Kellum.

“I see.” Annie folded her hands in front of her. The man she knew as Uncle Eddy, that the public called Prince Eddy, had a rather interesting reputation, to put it mildly. Still, murder was well beyond anything she would expect of him. “Go on.”

“There have been some rumors…”

He paused, obviously uncomfortable with the topic. Annie wondered if he’d drawn the short straw in the competition to see which of them would be speaking today. Or rather, which would not.

“That is it has been whispered, quietly of course and certainly not intimated in the press or amongst those who might speak publicly…”

Annie shook her head. “If you could just say it, that would be most helpful, sir. I assure you I am not the delicate sort, and I prefer a man who speaks his mind plainly and clearly.”

Kellum gave Simon a helpless look, prompting the police officer to nod. “What Lord Brixton is saying is that there is a theory that the prince could be the killer—this Jack the Ripper–that we are looking for.”

Lord Brixton. Yes, she remembered him now. Papa hadn’t particularly cared for him.

“I-I-I am not advancing that theory,” Mr. Kellum stammered. “However sordid or false, which it likely is, what I am saying is that it is something that has been spoken about, though not publicly. At least not in the newspapers. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it.”

He looked around to the other advisors, and they all nodded. Then he returned his attention to Annie. “If we did not mention it,” he amended. “Our hope is that this investigation might prove that the prince is innocent of any atrocities. Were it to be found otherwise, I do not know how we would manage to tell Her Majesty.”

“So she hasn’t heard these rumors?” Annie asked. “Are you certain? I have found that the Queen is quite intelligent and generally well informed, even about rumors. Nothing gets past her, so do not underestimate her knowledge on this subject.”

“We have heard these rumors.” Granny swept into the blue room with a sea of courtiers following in her wake. “And we are much distressed.” She focused on Annie. “Thank you for the compliment, kitten. However, there must be no preferential treatment for Eddy. I want him properly investigated and I will not abide any editing of the facts.”

“Yes ma’am,” Annie said as she bowed to her grandmother.

She turned to inspect the men in the room. “Prime Minister, we did not expect to see you here.”

Lord Salisbury cleared his throat, his hands clasped behind him. “I am here on an unofficial basis, ma’am. What concerns the nation, concerns me.”

She held his gaze then nodded. “Yes, of course.”

Silence fell. After a moment, her steely gaze landed on Isaiah.

(To read part 2 of the excerpt, please visit Story Schmoozing Book Reviews.)




Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee and author of more than eighty books, with almost two million in print. A tenth-generation Texan and certified paralegal, she has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well a Reader’s Choice Award and several Top Picks by Romantic Times magazine. Kathleen celebrated her fifteenth year as a published author by receiving the Romantic Times Inspirational Romance Book of the Year Award for Sadie’s Secret, a Secret Lives of Will Tucker novel. Her novels celebrate life, love, and the Lord—and whenever she can manage it, her home state of Texas. Recent releases include The Pirate Bride, River of Life, and My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas.
  Website Bookbub  Facebook Instagram ║ Amazon  Goodreads 
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FIVE WINNERS!  One Winner: Signed copy of The Black Midnight + $20 Amazon gift card 
Four Winners: Signed copy of The Black Midnight 
AUGUST 6-16, 2020 
(US ONLY)


FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY, 
or visit the blogs directly:

8/6/20
Notable Quotable
8/6/20
BONUS Post
8/7/20
Author Interview
8/8/20
Review
8/9/20
Excerpt
8/10/20
Excerpt
8/11/20
Review
8/12/20
Guest Post
8/13/20
Review
8/14/20
Author Interview
8/15/20
Review

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Enemies of Doves: Playlist


ENEMIES OF DOVES
by
Shanessa Gluhm
Genre: Historical Fiction / Mystery Publisher: TouchPoint Press Publication Date: March 20, 2020 Number of Pages: 324 pages Scroll down for the giveaway!


Told in alternating timelines from World War II to 1992, debut author Shanessa Gluhm’s Enemies of Doves is a tale of family secrets, jealousy, and deception perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Katherine Webb. On a summer night in 1932, twelve-year-old Joel Fitchett wanders into an East Texas diner badly beaten and carrying his unconscious brother, Clancy. Though both boys claim they have no memory of what happened, the horrific details are etched into their minds as deep as the scar left across Joel’s face. Thirteen years later, both men still struggle with the aftershocks of that long-ago night and the pact they made to hide the truth. When they find themselves at the center of a murder investigation, they make a decision that will change everything. A second lie, a second pact, and, for a time, a second chance. In 1991 college student Garrison Stark travels to Texas chasing a rumor that Clancy Fitchett is his biological grandfather. Clancy has been missing since 1946, and Garrison hopes to find him and, in doing so, find a family. What he doesn’t expect to discover is a tangle of secrets spanning sixty years involving Clancy, Joel, and the woman they both loved, Lorraine.


PRAISE for Enemies of Doves: Enemies of Doves weaves a timeline of events that makes for compelling reading. It’s an ecological system of interlocking decisions, discoveries, and circumstances that spans some sixty years of love, danger, and revelations.” —D. Donovan, senior reviewer, Midwest Book Review “I’ve read some amazing thriller and suspense stories this year, but Enemies of Doves takes the mid-year prize. I’m not one for dual timelines, but this one was perfection with the fifty-year time-span moving forward in tandem. Garrison’s search will cause time to collide, unlocking a lifetime of secrets, and THE PLOT TWIST OF 2020!” —author Felicia Denise “Shanessa Gluhm is a brilliant writer. I very seldom read a book that I cannot figure out how it will end, but this one literally blew me away!” —Lori Thomas Harrington, author of The Point

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I listened to a lot of songs set in the ’40s and early ’90s as well as a couple of newer ones that I felt really fit the scene I was writing at the time. —Shanessa Gluhm, author of Enemies of Doves

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Songs:

I’ll Be Seeing You, Billie Holiday

In the Mood, The Glenn Miller Orchestra

Fast Movin’ Train, Restless Heart

Maybe it was Memphis, Pam Tillis

What Might Have Been, Little Texas

You and Forever and Me, Little Texas

The Bluest Eyes in Texas, Restless Heart

The Song Remembers When, Trisha Yearwood

Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nirvana

Burning House, Cam

Let It Go, James Bay 



Shanessa Gluhm works as a librarian at an elementary school in New Mexico, where she lives with her husband and children. It was during her own elementary days when a teacher encouraged Shanessa to write and share stories with the class. She hasn’t stopped writing since. Enemies of Doves is her debut novel. 

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All Things Left Wild: Review and Giveaway


ALL THINGS LEFT WILD
by
James Wade

Genre: Adventure / Rural Fiction / Coming of Age Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Publication Date: June 16, 2020 Number of Pages: 304 pages

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After an attempted horse theft goes tragically wrong, sixteen-year-old Caleb Bentley is on the run with his mean-spirited older brother across the American Southwest at the turn of the twentieth century. Caleb’s moral compass and inner courage will be tested as they travel the harsh terrain and encounter those who have carved out a life there, for good or ill.  Wealthy and bookish Randall Dawson, out of place in this rugged and violent country, is begrudgingly chasing after the Bentley brothers. With little sense of how to survive, much less how to take his revenge, Randall meets Charlotte, a woman experienced in the deadly ways of life in the West. Together they navigate the murky values of vigilante justice. Powerful and atmospheric, lyrical and fast-paced, All Things Left Wild is a coming-of-age for one man, a midlife odyssey for the other, and an illustration of the violence and corruption prevalent in our fast-expanding country. It artfully sketches the magnificence of the American West as mirrored in the human soul. PRAISE for All Things Left Wild: “A debut full of atmosphere and awe. Wade gives emotional depth to his dust-covered characters and creates an image of the American West that is harsh and unforgiving, but — like All Things Left Wild — not without hope.” — Texas Literary Hall of Fame member Sarah Bird, Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen “James Wade has delivered a McCarthy-esque odyssey with an Elmore Leonard ear for dialogue. All Things Left Wild moves like a coyote across this cracked-earth landscape—relentlessly paced and ambitiously hungry.” — Edgar Award finalist David Joy, When These Mountains Burn

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All Things Left Wild was so beautifully written. The story follows two different POV’s, Caleb and Randall, which leads you on quite a ride! James Wade poetically describes much of Texas that leaves the reader envisioning themselves as they read. Though it’s a true grit Texas read, I really enjoyed James Wade’s writing style and found myself devouring the ink on the pages. 

I really enjoyed reading from Caleb’s POV, here you have this young man who is trying to move on from his former life and to try and find some sort of redemption. There’s alot of growth that takes place with him, both good and bad, and I enjoyed seeing his character change and evolve throughout the story. Randall was a little harder for me to read, perhaps it was the switch from first person (Caleb) to third person (Randall). His character I think was a bit rougher around the edges. He’s a man set on vengeance despite the cost. Both though are on a collision course!  I’m not sure why the author decided to do first-person and third-person, I’ve seen this done with other authors as well. The switch is hard for me, it feels unnatural. But that is my only critique on the novel as everything else about it was wonderfully crafted. 

Overall I enjoyed the characters, I think they all had their flaws, and they all had very interesting character arcs. I loved how everything came to a close at the end and I enjoyed the plot twists and unravels. 

But let’s get to some AMAZING writing here for just a moment.

One of my favorite ways that Wade describes the landscape is when Caleb is describing it to Sophia: “beyond to the blue water and great hills dotted with green and then finally the horizon as it held up the clouds bleeding into the purple sky.”  That imagery is simply breathtaking and the entire novel is filled with it. And not just with the landscape either, he is illustrative and vivid with his descriptions throughout the entire novel. 

Another description that I just loved was how he described the shooting stars: “and all the while ignoring the shooting stars as they emblazoned their legacy across the sky in an extremity of drama and dying, never to be seen again by this world or another.”

That star just pierced my heart!

Oh and there’s more… there’s so much more! Words are so powerful and James Wade’s is not shy of enchanting his readers with his eloquent narration. 

I’m telling you, I craved these words! James Wade is the Lani Taylor of historical westerns! I’m not saying that all I need is beautiful words to keep me reading a book, I enjoyed so much about this novel, the characters, the plot, the twists, the way the story tugged on my heart at the end. But sometimes I really enjoy reading a book for how it is written, for the words used to describe the story. All Things Left Wild is Texas poetry to be sure. And to be honest, it inspires me to be a better writer. 

This historical western is an adventure you don’t want to miss so open the book and fall right in!  



James Wade lives and writes in Austin, Texas, with his wife and daughter. He has had twenty short stories published in various literary magazines and journals. He is the winner of the Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest and a finalist of the Tethered by Letters Short Fiction Contest. All Things Left Wild is his debut novel.
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The Outlaw’s Daughter: Review and Giveaway

THE OUTLAW’S DAUGHTER

HAYWIRE BRIDES, BOOK 3
by
MARGARET BROWNLEY

Western / Historical Fiction / Clean & Wholesome Romance Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca Date of Publication: May 26, 2020 Number of Pages: 384

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He may be a Texas Ranger, but he only has eyes for the outlaw’s beautiful daughter . . .  Texas Ranger Matt Taggert is on the trail of a wanted man. He has good reason to believe that Ellie-May’s late husband was involved in a stagecoach robbery, and he’s here to see justice done. But when he arrives in town, he discovers the thief has become a local hero . . . and his beautiful young widow isn’t too happy to see some lawman out to tarnish her family’s newly spotless reputation. 
Ellie-May’s shaken by her encounter with the ranger. Having grown up an outlaw’s daughter, she’ll do anything to keep her children safe—and if that means hardening her heart against the handsome lawman’s smiles, then so be it. Because she knows Matt isn’t about to give up his search. He’s out to redeem himself and find proof that Ellie-May’s husband wasn’t the saint everyone claims . . . even if it means losing the love neither expected to discover along the way.

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Right from the beginning, The Outlaw’s Daughter had me eager for more. We’re first introduced to Ellie-May when a Texas Ranger comes knocking on her barn door. Ellie-May isn’t afraid to defend her home and family as she points the shotgun at him. Matt Taggert is on the hunt for those responsible for a robbery that had happened a year prior, right around the time that Ellie-May’s husband had died in a fire. He’s determined to uncover the truth no matter the costs and has questions for the husband, not knowing that he had died. But there’s only one problem, Matt hadn’t expected to fall for the confident and sharp Ellie-May. 

To be honest, I hail from Washington State, and never really got into cowboy love stories much (though there is a few I’ve enjoyed over the years). But a TEXAS RANGER? Yes please! This was exactly the kind of love story I needed right now! This story is told from the POV’s of Matt and Ellie-May, and both are surely to grip your heart and send you to the skies. Ellie-May is determined to make sure her children remember all the good their father had done in the world since she had been robbed from it herself when her dad had hung for being an outlaw. And Matt, he isn’t just someone investigating a crime, he’s compassionate and sincere, he not only wants to be good and thorough with his job, he cares and wants to help others. A pure good soul. And though Ellie is rough around the edges due to her past, she too has a heart of gold. 

Another character I simply loved from this book was Anvil. At first I wasn’t sure about him, and to be honest I worried about his role in the story, but as you get to know him more it’s clear that he is an honest man looking out of Ellie-May. 

I loved the dialogue in this book. The interactions between the main characters are wonderfully crafted. I also enjoyed the way the love story evolves, it isn’t your average dramatic love story, it’s a love about respect and earning trust, a love story built on a foundation. It’s realistic and memorable. Add a dash of mystery suspense, and cunning, strong characters, and it’s the perfect summer read.  

This is a make you feel good, swoon-worthy read you won’t want to miss!

Rating: 5/5
  

New York Times bestselling author Margaret Brownley has penned more than forty-six novels and novellas. 
A two-time Romance Writers of American RITA® finalist, Margaret has also written for a TV soap and is a recipient of the Romantic Times Pioneer Award. Not bad for someone who flunked eighth-grade English. Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence.
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The First Emma Promo and Giveaway

THE FIRST EMMA
by
Camille Di Maio Historical Fiction / Historical Romance / Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing Date of Publication: May 5, 2020
Number of Pages: 315

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The First Emma is the true story of Emma Koehler. Whose tycoon husband Otto was killed in a crime-of-the-century murder by one of his two mistresses – both also named Emma – and her unlikely rise as CEO of a brewing empire during Prohibition. When a chance to tell her story to a young teetotaler arises, a tale unfolds of love, war, beer, and the power of women.
PRAISE for The First Emma
“Di Maio’s take on a shocking American drama pleasantly blends romantic and historical fiction . . . a sweet memorialization of a real-life female business pioneer in San Antonio.” —Kirkus “A beautifully crafted portrait of an intriguing woman. Mystery and romance are set against the backdrop of fascinating pieces of twentieth-century history, and a richly drawn setting leaves the reader feeling wholly immersed. Historical fiction fans will love this one!” —Chanel Cleeton, NYT bestselling author of Next Year in Havana
“Di Maio does a brilliant job of weaving together all the threads—from past to present—while unearthing a tale of blossoming love, the power of our chosen family, and the losses that make us whole again.” —Rochelle B. Weinstein, USA Today bestselling author of This Is Not How It Ends
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THE FIRST EMMA

PROLOGUE, PART THREE

(To read Part One of the Prologue, visit All the Ups and Downs; to read Part Two of the Prologue, visit Story Schmoozing Book Reviews)
San Antonio, Texas
November 12, 1914
Emma had told him no. She would not consent to him divorcing his wife on her account. She would not marry him.
But he continued to beg.
Emma grabbed his wrist and threw it from her, satisfied with the slight thud as it fell against the corner of the nightstand.
“Darling,” he whispered as he hovered over her ear. “Please reconsider. Marry me and you’ll make me the happiest man alive.” “No,” she insisted. The third such rejection in as many weeks. She propped herself up on her elbows.
“Emma,” he pled. He put his knee on the mattress and spoke in a low, heavy moan that indicated how eager he was to return to her bed.
“No,” she said again with all the force she could muster. “Otto, I’m not going to marry you. It’s over. All of this is over.”
She clutched his shirt in her hands and shoved him off the bed. He fell against the nightstand with all his weight this time, sending her silver hand mirror across its marble surface. It stopped just short of crashing to the ground. A precious memento of the life she’d once had on the other side of the world.
A reminder that she wished she had never left.
It was difficult to see his reaction in the dim room where he was nearly a silhouette. But he righted himself and moved forward again. A shot of fear rushed through Emma’s body. Otto had never had so much taken away from him in so short a time: his wife’s health, his first lover’s marriage, his second lover’s refusal. A desperate man might do anything.
As he drew nearer with wide steps, Emma slipped her finger under the pillow and felt around for the .32 revolver he’d bought for her to protect against coyotes. Its cool metal frame gave her some reassurance.
Just in case.
She felt his body fall upon the mattress, his hot breath landing on her neck in frenzied kisses. His hands trying all the things in all the places that had once excited her.
“Get off of me!”
“Don’t leave. Don’t leave me,” he begged. His tone had turned to one of despair and each sob was more wretched than the last.
So much could be hers if she acquiesced. Wealth. Comfort. Affection. It was all very tempting.
But some things were worth more than that.
Emma threw the blankets toward the foot of the bed. “It’s over!” she insisted.
She listened for sounds from the kitchen but couldn’t hear the other Emma in the house anymore. Had she gone outside when Otto arrived? That had always been their arrangement before she left to marry Mr. Daschiel. Only one woman in the house when Otto came around to visit.
She slid her hand under the pillow again, this time clutching the revolver. The sweat on her hand fell on its leather grip. She pulled it out in a quick motion and placed the barrel against Otto’s chest, pushing him away as she sat up.
He jumped back, sweat rippling down the wrinkles on his forehead. “You’re crazy.”
Otto waved a finger at her and turned toward the living room.
Emma lifted herself out of bed, arms weakened after convalescing. She walked across the wood floor in bare feet, avoiding the board that had worn and would splinter her skin. The light from the next room sent more pain to her head and her eyes winced as they took it in.  But she could see Otto standing in front of her, just beyond the sofa, a case knife drawn from his pocket.
His hand shook, but his eyes fixed a hard gaze on her.
Her heart beat quickly and a sense of terror seized her.
He’d called her crazy? She’d only meant to frighten him away. But there was a look about him that that held more than a threat.
He stepped toward her and the knife slashed her arm.
She fired the trigger in response. Three times.
Neck.
Face.
Heart.
Otto crumpled to the floor, clutching his chest. Heat raced to her cheeks and she dropped the revolver on the ground next to her. She collapsed next to his body and pulled away his vest, ripping the buttons from their threads.
What had she done?
Only then did she hear the other Emma, who ran in from the porch. A look of horror passed between the women.
Otto’s thin-framed body writhed on the wool rug, a thick red pool forming on his white shirt. His blood mixing with hers. His eyes fluttered, looking between them.
“Emma,” he whispered as he took his last breath.
But they didn’t know which woman he called out for.
Emma, his first mistress.
Emma, his second mistress.
Or Emma, his wife.




Camille Di Maio always dreamed of being a writer, though she took a winding path of waitressing, temping, politicking, and real estate to get there. It all came to fruition with the publication of her bestselling debut, The Memory of Us, followed by Before the Rain Falls, The Way of Beauty, and The Beautiful Strangers. In addition to writing, she loves farmers’ markets, unashamedly belts out Broadway tunes when the mood strikes, and regularly faces her fear of flying to indulge her passion for travel. Married for twenty-three years, she home-schools their four children. (Though the first two are off at college now!) She is happy to live in Virginia near a beach. 
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