• XX Chromosomes

Review of Portrait of a Conspiracy: Da Vinci’s Disciples by Donna Russo Morin

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About Portrait of a Conspiracy: Da Vinci’s Disciples – Book One

One murder ignites the powderkeg that threatens to consume the Medici’s Florence. Amidst the chaos, five women and one legendary artist weave together a plot that could bring peace, or get them all killed. Seeking to wrest power from the Medici family in 15th Century Florence, members of the Pazzi family drew their blades in a church and slew Giuliano. But Lorenzo de Medici survives, and seeks revenge on everyone involved, plunging the city into a murderous chaos that takes dozens of lives. Bodies are dragged through the streets, and no one is safe. Five women steal away to a church to ply their craft in secret. Viviana, Fiammetta, Isabetta, Natasia, and Mattea are painters, not allowed to be public with their skill, but freed from the restrictions in their lives by their art. When a sixth member of their group, Lapaccia, goes missing, and is rumored to have stolen a much sought after painting as she vanished, the women must venture out into the dangerous streets to find their friend and see her safe. They will have help from one of the most renowned painters of their era the peaceful and kind Leonardo Da Vinci. It is under his tutelage that they will flourish as artists, and with his access that they will infiltrate some of the highest, most secretive places in Florence, unraveling one conspiracy as they build another in its place. Historical fiction at its finest, Donna Russo Morin begins a series of Da Vinci’s disciples with a novel both vibrant and absorbing, perfect for the readers of Sarah Dunant.

My Review

One exciting story. Great indicator of a very promising series. I was easily swept away from the beginning unable to tear myself away, ‘just one more chapter’ was my silently uttered broken promise. Morin provides excellent dimensional characterization with exceptional development. I found myself wanting to be part of the esteemed female assemblage, rather I had the privilege of living vicariously via Morin’s outstanding writing. Loved the female strength, courage, intelligence, and talent of the ladies. The past comes to life, a historical event is revisited boldly and vividly providing stimulating visualization through well crafted words and descriptions. Morin no doubt spent extensive time researching, job well done on all avenues. I’m on tenterhooks waiting for the next installment. Noteworthy.

About the Author03_Donna-Russo-Morin

Donna Russo Morin is the award winning of author of historical fiction. A graduate of the University of Rhode Island, she lives near the shore with her two sons, Devon and Dylan, her greatest works in progress.

Donna enjoys meeting with book groups in person and via Skype chat. Visit her website at www.donnarussomorin.com; friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @DonnaRussoMorin.

Be sure to click on the HFVBT banner to check out the entire tour schedule.

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Publication Date: May 10, 2016 Diversion Books

Spotlight for Storm and Silence by Robert Thier

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About Storm and Silence

Freedom – that is what Lilly Linton wants most in life. Not marriage, not a brood of squalling brats, and certainly not love, thank you very much!

But freedom is a rare commodity in 19th-century London, where girls are expected to spend their lives sitting at home, fully occupied with looking pretty. Lilly is at her wits’ end – until a chance encounter with a dark, dangerous and powerful stranger changes her life forever…

Enter the world of Mr Rikkard Ambrose, where the only rule is: Knowledge is power is time is money!

Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

About Robert Thier6123144

Robert Thier is a German Historian and writer of Historical Fiction. His particular mix of history, romance and adventure, always with a good deal of humor thrown in, has gained him a diverse readership ranging from teenagers to retired grandmothers. For the way he manages to make history come alive, as if he himself had lived as a medieval knight, his fans all over the world have given him the nickname “Sir Rob”.

For him, Robert says, becoming a writer has followed naturally from his interest in history. “In Germany,” he says, “we use the same word for story and history. And I’ve always loved the one as much as the other. Becoming a storyteller, a writer, is what I’ve always wanted.”

Besides writing and researching in dusty old archives, on the lookout for a mystery to put into his next story, Robert enjoys classical music and long walks in the country. The helmet you see on the picture he does not wear because he is a cycling enthusiast, but to protect his literary skull in which a bone has been missing from birth. Robert lives in the south of Germany in a small village between the three Emperor’s Mountains.

Connect with Robert: Website | Google+ | Facebook | Twitter

Published March 19th 2016 by Robert Thier

Review: World’s End by Upton Sinclair

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About World’s End

The son of an American arms dealer and his mistress, Lanning “Lanny” Budd spends his first thirteen years in Europe, living at the center of his mother’s glamourous circle of friends on the French Riviera. In 1913, he enters a prestigious Swiss boarding school and befriends Rick, an English boy, and Kurt, a German. The three schoolmates are privileged, happy, and precocious—but their world is about to come to an abrupt and violent end.

When the gathering storm clouds of war finally burst, raining chaos and death over the continent, Lanny must put the innocence of youth behind him; his language skills and talent for decoding messages are in high demand. At his father’s side, he meets many important political and military figures, learns about the myriad causes of the conflict, and closely follows the First World War’s progress. When the bloody hostilities eventually conclude, Lanny joins the Paris Peace Conference as the assistant to a geographer asked by President Woodrow Wilson to redraw the map of Europe.

World’s End is the magnificent opening chapter of a monumental series that brings the first half of the twentieth century to vivid life. A thrilling mix of history, adventure, and romance, the Lanny Budd Novels are a testament to the breathtaking scope of Upton Sinclair’s vision and his singular talents as a storyteller.

My Review

Sinclair dishes out a huge chunk of history in this book, his layout is appealing and it describes more than any textbook. His vehicle to highlight events is the endearing protagonist Lanny Budd. Lanny is 14 years old in 1914 and as the story and events unfold Lanny becomes even more appealing as he enters adulthood through a trying time in history.

Lanny’s character is dramatized by his presence in nearly every major event or has the privilege meeting every notable figure of the time, however, this does not detract but rather creates a fascinating narrative with mystery, suspense, thrills. You can’t help but find yourself taken by Lanny.

If you’re interested in history but avoid nonfiction, you will completely enjoy Sinclair’s historical fiction masterpiece with the nonfiction well presented and researched. Not many know the real issue WWI was centered around – it was more than the assassination of Archduke Ferdindad, much more as traditional classroom textbooks fail to mention. Sinclair offers the opportunity to enjoy history in an easy to read manner through the eyes of impressive Lanny Budd. A wonderful prelude in an 11 book series.

Sinclair’s story is told from the Socialist perspective which adds an interesting spin creating an enthralling read.

About Upton Sinclair1450215048_upton_sinclair

Upton Sinclair (1878–1968) was a Pulitzer Prize–winning author, activist, and politician whose novel The Jungle (1906) led to the passage of the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act. Born into an impoverished family in Baltimore, Maryland, Sinclair entered City College of New York five days before his fourteenth birthday. He wrote dime novels and articles for pulp magazines to pay for his tuition, and continued his writing career as a graduate student at Columbia University. To research The Jungle, he spent seven weeks working undercover in Chicago’s meatpacking plants. The book received great critical and commercial success, and Sinclair used the proceeds to start a utopian community in New Jersey. In 1915, he moved to California, where he founded the state’s ACLU chapter and became an influential political figure, running for governor as the Democratic nominee in 1934. Sinclair wrote close to one hundred books during his lifetime, including Oil! (1927), the inspiration for the 2007 movie There Will Be Blood; Boston (1928), a documentary novel revolving around the Sacco and Vanzetti case; The Brass Check, a muckraking exposé of American journalism; and the eleven novels in the Pulitzer Prize–winning Lanny Budd series.

Published January 19th 2016 by Open Road Media (first published January 1st 1940)

Review: The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig

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About The Forgotten Room

The Forgotten Room, set in alternating time periods, is a sumptuous feast of a novel brought to vivid life by three brilliant storytellers.

1945: When the critically wounded Captain Cooper Ravenal is brought to a private hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, young Dr. Kate Schuyler is drawn into a complex mystery that connects three generations of women in her family to a single extraordinary room in a Gilded Age mansion.

Who is the woman in Captain Ravenel’s portrait miniature who looks so much like Kate? And why is she wearing the ruby pendant handed down to Kate by her mother? In their pursuit of answers, they find themselves drawn into the turbulent stories of Gilded Age Olive Van Alen, driven from riches to rags, who hired out as a servant in the very house her father designed, and Jazz Age Lucy Young, who came from Brooklyn to Manhattan in pursuit of the father she had never known. But are Kate and Cooper ready for the secrets that will be revealed in the Forgotten Room?

My Review

Very well done, no doubt the level of talent and expertise of these three creative authors unmistakably blended to create quite a story of three women during differing times with ease.

Each women’s story was compelling. Their individual stories meticulously described, the mystery element was woven in wonderfully. The sketches of the women portray them as strong, independent, fearless heroines in their own right. A few surprises stealing your breath.

I enjoyed all three women and their affecting tales, I will say I was drawn to Olive’s story the most, very pleased when all the details and clues were knitted together forming a pleasant conclusion.

Well crafted, I appreciated the leisurely pace, there was a distinct intimacy formed with the characters as their stories were methodically revealed. A sweeping story of joys and sorrows, a quasi epic three generation romance story beautifully penned. Impressive anthology.

The Forgotten Room Authors

Karen Whitekarenwhite-white

After playing hooky one day in the seventh grade to read Gone With the Wind, Karen White knew she wanted to be a writer—or become Scarlett O’Hara. In spite of these aspirations, Karen pursued a degree in business and graduated cum laude with a BS in Management from Tulane University. Ten years later, after leaving the business world, she fulfilled her dream of becoming a writer and wrote her first book. In the Shadow of the Moon was published in August, 2000. Her books have since been nominated for numerous national contests including the SIBA (Southeastern Booksellers Alliance) Fiction Book of the Year, and has twice won the National Readers’ Choice Award.

Karen is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and currently writes what she refers to as ‘grit lit’—Southern women’s fiction—and has also expanded her horizons into writing a mystery series set in Charleston, South Carolina. Her nineteenth novel, The Sound of Glass, was published in May 2015 by New American Library, a division of PenguinRandomHouse Publishing Group.

Karen hails from a long line of Southerners but spent most of her growing up years in London, England and is a graduate of the American School in London. When not writing, she spends her time reading, scrapbooking, playing piano, and avoiding cooking. She currently lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two children, and two spoiled Havanese dogs.

Beatriz-2Beatriz Williams

A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a corporate and communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons.

She now lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore, where she divides her time between writing and laundry.

Lauren Williglauren_new

Lauren Willig is the New York Times bestselling author of fifteen works of historical fiction. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, awarded the RITA, Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards, and chosen for the American Library Association’s annual list of the best genre fiction. After graduating from Yale University, she embarked on a PhD in English History at Harvard before leaving academia to acquire a JD at Harvard Law while authoring her “Pink Carnation” series of Napoleonic-set novels. She lives in New York City, where she now writes full time.

Expected publication: January 19th 2016 by NAL

Review: The Lake House by Kate Morton

02_The Lake HousePublication Date: October 20, 2015
Atria Books
Hardcover & eBook; 512 Pages

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An intricately plotted, spellbinding new novel of heart-stopping suspense and uncovered secrets.

I’m reluctant with alternating narratives but Kate Morton masters the art of the past and the present, never disappointing in alternative narratives with one story dominating the other, both equal in appeal and presence.

The differing storylines were tied together perfectly, especially Sadie’s final outcome. Morton possesses skill in tying plots together with precision execution.

The thorough flashbacks prior to the story kicking into full gear laid the ground work for what was to come, also providing a glimpse into the characters and their back story.

On the seat of your pants suspense, the dark secrets slowly surfacing and the many cliffhangers will keep you enthralled. The plot is nothing less than clever, each bread crumb leaves you turning the pages with angst to discover the final outcome. I absolutely adored the ending, fabulous.

Morton fans will find themselves lost in this beautifully written, creative story of love, loss, loyalty, promises and deep secrets. Morton magically creates absorbing mysteries shrouded in dark secrets with alternating narratives like no other, her twists will entertain until the very end.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOKS-A-MILLION | GOOGLE PLAY | ITUNES | INDIEBOUND | POWELL’S

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR03_Kate Morton

Kate Morton grew up in the mountains of south-east Queensland and lives now with her husband and young sons in Brisbane. She has degrees in dramatic art and English literature, specializing in nineteenth-century tragedy and contemporary Gothic novels.

Kate Morton has sold over 7.5 million copies in 26 languages, across 38 countries. Her novels include The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, and The Secret Keeper.

You can find more information about Kate Morton and her books at www.katemorton.com or www.facebook.com/KateMortonAuthor

Unshelfish is proud to be included in the tour for Kate Morton’s The Lake House. Be sure to click on the HFVBT banner to check out the entire tour schedule.

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Spotlight & Giveaway: Beneath Creek Waters by Jason Bradshaw

02_Beneath Creek Water_Cover•Publication Date: September 2014
•Mystic Harbor Press
•Formats: Ebook, Paperback

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In 1845 200 gold coins were minted to commemorate Texasí entry into the United States. Slated to be given to all major players that helped Texas into the Union, the coins were loaded onto a wagon on a rainy night, near Dallas, Texas and never seen again. Over a century later, traces of the coins resurface, after a couple of kids stumble upon what appeared to be one, in a Southeast Texas creek. News of the find reach Parks Leslie and Stan Atcher, treasure hunters and historians, always looking for their next big find, and long-time seekers of these coins. Parks and Stan’s interest proves to be an unexpected journey, tangled with blood history ties, new friendships and near-death experiences, calling for sacrifices no one could have predicted.

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Beneath Creek Waters Available at

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
My Book, LLC
Kobo Books
Google Play

About the Author03_Jason L Bradshaw_Author

Jason Bradshaw has had a passion for adventure, history and writing for most of his life; culminating in the writing of his first novel, Beneath Creek Waters. Besides writing numerous articles for various newsletters and publications, Bradshaw is currently completing his second installment to his novel series, titled Beneath Gulf Waters, after which he will begin work for a new series, The Hobbyist, to be completed in 2015. Bradshaw has also co-written two screenplays in conjunction with Todd Rodgers, titled Red Eye and Shadow Ops.

Bradshaw is an avid diver, enjoys flying, hiking, surfing and has a general love for the outdoors. He currently resides in Texas with his wife and two young sons.

For more information please visit Jason L. Bradshaw’s website. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Sign up for Jason’s Newsletter.

Beneath Creek Waters Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, July 6
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, July 7
Spotlight & Giveaway at Unshelfish

Thursday, July 9
Guest Post at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, July 14
Review & Guest Post at Jorie Loves a Story

Thursday, July 16
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Sunday, July 20
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Thursday, July 23
Review at Just One More Chapter
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Friday, July 24
Review at Book Nerd

Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Beneath Creek Waters by leaving a comment stating why you want to win. Winner will be selected randomly and notified via email. Open to US residents only. Ends 7/14/15

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Excerpt: Enduring Love by Wareeze Woodson

02_An Enduring Love CoverPublication Date: January 19, 2015
Soul Mate Publishing
Formats: eBook, Paperback
282 Pages

Born and raised in Latvia, Rebecca Balodis marries Rhys Sudduth, an English diplomat. Shortly thereafter, he is summoned home to attend his father’s deathbed. Rebecca cannot accompany him at the time and becomes trapped in the turmoil plaguing her country. He is informed she died in the upheaval.

Nearly four years later, Rebecca escapes and arrives in London with their son in tow. Arriving in the middle of his sister’s ball proves awkward, especially since Rhys plans to announce his betrothal to a young debutante later in the evening.

Can this pair ever find or even recognize an enduring love?

An Enduring Love_Excerpt

An Enduring Love Available at

Amazon (Paperback)
Amazon (Kindle)

About the Author03_Wareeze Woodson

I write historical romance fiction novels set in the 1800s forward with a twist of suspense. All of my characters and stories that are portrayed in my books are fictitious. I am a native of Texas, but I have traveled through out America and beyond. As a dreamer, I love to visit new places where I can imagine a heroine meeting a hero in a special way. I’m an avid reader of (all sorts) and I love to write.

I married my high school sweat-heart and after having raised three sons plus one daughter, our love for each other remains unshaken. Now we enjoy our eight grandchildren. We can send them home, but we’re always happy for their return.

Outside of my family activities, I sing with the Silver Belles at my church and hate to miss even one practice. The local chapter of RWA is also at the top of my list of pleasures. It keeps me grounded with craft and connected with other writers.

Most of all, I enjoy going fishing with my husband. Give me a pole and leave me alone to bask in the sun, listening to water gurgle along the riverbanks while allowing my mind to float away to some distance place. Ah! Perfect.

For more information visit Wareeze Woodson’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

An Enduring Love Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, June 22
Excerpt at Raven Haired Girl
Guest Post at Boom Baby Reviews

Wednesday, June 24
Excerpt & Giveaway at To Read or Not to Read
Spotlight at Long Ago Love

Thursday, June 25
Excerpt at I Heart Reading

Friday, June 26
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Monday, June 29
Review at Diana’s Book Reviews

Wednesday, July 1
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Friday, July 3
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter

Saturday, July 4
Excerpt & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews

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Lies a River Deep by Vera Jane Cook

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General Fiction / Women’s Fiction
Date Published: March 1, 2012

Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble

In the summer of 1962, at a high school graduation party, Bessie Day Hardy is victim to a brutal crime. Fifty years later, the consequences of that horrific night will transition into unforeseen events that will shatter her serene and uncomplicated life.

Cook transports the reader to the 1960’s complete with flawed mindset pertaining to women and rape. She vividly sets the turbulent times in great detail, thoughts, family and societal expectations, political and sexual tension of the era along with historical references of the period.

Rape is not an easy subject matter to approach, yet Cook gives us a rather complicated narrative involving this very touchy topic. The narrative is slow to start but its force is felt midway through with increased propulsion. Major twists and turns, secrets, deceptions and recollections unfold creating a climactic ending.

Bessie is a compelling character. As you learn of her brutal rape, the reader is deeply affected. As Bessie sifts through the lies, pieces the fragments of her memory you admire her strength for all she endured. Her unfaltering strength allows her to handle her rape with impressive emotional and mental composure. As her ordeal is brought to light, the culprits, innocent victims and bystanders leave you astonished.

A rather powerful narrative with a shocking outcome addressing a topic handled with extreme caution nonetheless controversial in players. Laborious and ambitious effort by Cook, well executed.

About Vera Jane Cook

Pharaoh’s Star is Vera Jane Cook’s most recent release. The Story of Sassy Sweetwater wasimage Vera Jane’s second southern fiction novel and was a finalist in the ForeWord book of the Year Awards for 2012 and received a five star ForeWord Clarion review, as well as an Eric Hoffer honorable mention award for ebook fiction in 2013. Dancing Backward in Paradise also received a 5 Star Clarion ForeWord review and an Eric Hoffer notable new fiction award in 2006, as well as the Indie Excellence Award in 2006. Also by Vera Jane Cook: Lies a River Deep, Where the Wildflowers Grow, Marybeth, Hollister & Jane and Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem. Her next novel, Pleasant Day will be published in 2015 by Moonshine Cove Press.

Connect with Vera Jane Cook: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Blog

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The Towers of Tuscany by Carol M. Cram

01_The Towers of Tuscany CoverPublication Date: December 16, 2014
Lake Union Publishing
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 366

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Sofia is trained in secret as a painter in her father’s workshop during a time when women did not paint openly. She loves her work, but her restless spirit leads her to betray her extraordinary gifts to marry a man who comes to despise her for not producing a son.

After Sofia’s father is crushed by his own fresco during an attack motivated by a vendetta, Sofia realizes she must escape her loveless marriage. She flees to Siena, where, disguised as a boy, she paints again. When her work attracts the notice of a nobleman who discovers the woman under the dirty smock, Sofia is faced with a choice that nearly destroys her.

Meticulously researched settings and compelling characters are united with a strong heroine in this rich portrait of medieval Italy.

I was instantly swept off my feet as I vigorously turned every page of this impressive novel. I was so taken by Cram’s authorship I devoured this lovely story in a few hours. Trust me, you won’t be able to put The Towers of Tuscany down.

Cram certainly accomplishes the task of transporting the reader to 14th century Tuscany with her lush and detailed descriptions. You feel the cobblestones beneath your feet, you envision the rolling golden hills, the deep thick forests, the offensive smell of dung in the air, and towers straining to touch heaven. You also comprehend the harshness of the time period, the many challenges women faced, the unkind treatment females tolerated and endured.

I was instantly drawn to Sophia. She’s stubborn, possesses the strength of a thousand men, her passion and endless devotion to painting will affect you greatly. Her love for painting consumes her soul, she takes great risks to pursue and continue her enthusiasm. As Sophia paints she loses herself in her efforts as she reflects on the lessons her beloved father taught her at an impressionable age. Cram’s intricate depictions of creating the art and the how to’s allow the reader a vivid glimpse of the lush prose so vividly detailed enabling imagery to appear before your eyes. Sophia is a memorable character, emotionally compelling.

The narrative is full of suspense with a fair share of twists and turns. It is fast paced and you won’t be able to stop reading once you begin. As you follow Sophia in the dicey pursuit of her passion you will be anxious to discover what transpires with every turn of the page.

Cram has certainly impressed me with this outstanding debut effort. She is an authoress to keep your eye on, no doubt a promising career ahead of her. I anxiously await her next novel, if this is an indicator of what’s to follow, we are in for wonderful reading adventures.

Lovers of art and painting you will thoroughly enjoy this book. A story filled with drama, suspense, romance and plenty of turbulence you will not want to miss reading this truly affecting novel. Highly highly recommend. Wonderful story from beginning to end.

Buy the Book

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About the Author02_Carol Cram

Carol M. Cram is the author of The Towers of Tuscany, an historical novel about a woman painter in fourteenth century Italy. In addition to writing fiction, Carol has enjoyed a great career as an educator, teaching at Capilano University in North Vancouver for over twenty years and authoring forty-plus bestselling textbooks on business communications and software applications for Cengage Learning. She holds an MA in Drama from the University of Toronto and an MBA from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. Carol is currently focusing as much of her attention as she can spare between walks in the woods on writing historical novels with an arts twist. She and her husband, painter Gregg Simpson, share a life on beautiful Bowen Island near Vancouver, Canada. Visit her at http://www.carolcram.com.

The Towers of Tuscany Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 15
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, December 16
Guest Post at The Book Binder’s Daughter

Wednesday, December 17
Review at Unshelfish

Thursday, December 18
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Monday, December 22
Guest Post at Boom Baby Reviews

Saturday, December 27
Review at Book Nerd

Monday, December 29
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Sunday, January 4
Review at HF Obsession
Review at I’d So Rather Be Reading

Monday, January 5
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, January 6
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Thursday, January 8
Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Friday, January 9
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

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BOOK TOUR: The Crystal Cage by Merryn Allingham w/ GIVEAWAY

02_The Crystal Cage
Publication Date: August 4, 2014 | eHarlequin | eBook; ASIN: B00JTPU72S
Genre: Historical Romance
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Captivated…or captured?

Appearances don’t always reveal the truth. Grace Latimer knows this better than most. Illusions of commitment and comfort have her trapped—until bohemian adventurer Nick Heysham charms his way into her world. Commissioned to recover a Great Exhibition architect’s missing designs, he persuades her to assist in his research. The mystery of the Crystal Palace seduces Grace, and once she discovers clues about a forbidden Victorian love affair, she’s lured into the deep secrets of the past…secrets that resemble her own.

As Grace and Nick dig into the elusive architect’s illicit, long-untold story, the ghosts of guilt and forbidden passion slip free. And history is bound to repeat itself, unless Grace finds the courage to break free and find a new definition of love…

My Thoughts
Allingham runs two parallel love stories with the past reaching an arm to the present. Two women hundreds of years apart with eerily comparable stories given their individual eras.

The Great Exhibition is presented in extreme detail along with Victorian England en toto. Very well researched, allowing the reader to become part of the setting as well as narrative. The details paid to Grace and her quest once again appreciated, adding plausibility to the character and her sleuth skills.

Allingham incorporates not only a historical romance but elements of mystery and subdued suspense, giving the narrative a layer of dimension.

Great ending, powerful sans a saccharin overdose most would expect. Abrupt but fitting.

I had difficulty latching on to Grace. She wasn’t independent and strong enough for my liking, she kept falling into the same pattern which I found irritating. She managed to redeem herself towards the latter portion of the plot. I still found her frustrating, wishing she would have gathered her strength earlier and forged a path of her own, not relying on dead end relationships with similar pathetic type men. Rant over…..

Allingham’s research and seasoned parallel narrative leave me curious to read her future writings. She certainly manages the element of surprise, provoking messages weaved into a plot catching the reader off guard in the most pleasant way. Fans wanting an edge to a historical romance will enjoy The Crystal Cage.

Recommendation: 3/5

Buy the eBook

Amazon Kindle  |  Barnes & Noble Nook  |  Kobo Books

About the Author

03_Merryn AllinghamMy father was a soldier and most of my childhood was spent moving from place to place, school to school, including several years living in Egypt and Germany. I loved some of the schools I attended, but hated others, so it wasn’t too surprising that I left half way through the sixth form with ‘A’ Levels unfinished.

I became a secretary, as many girls did at the time, only to realise that the role of handmaiden wasn’t for me. Escape beckoned when I landed a job with an airline. I was determined to see as much of the world as possible, and working as cabin crew I met a good many interesting people and enjoyed some great experiences – riding in the foothills of the Andes, walking by the shores of Lake Victoria, flying pilgrims from Kandahar to Mecca to mention just a few.

I still love to travel and visit new places, especially those with an interesting history, but the arrival of marriage and children meant a more settled existence on the south coast of England, where I’ve lived ever since. It also gave me the opportunity to go back to ‘school’ and eventually gain a PhD from the University of Sussex. For many years I taught university literature and loved every minute of it. What could be better than spending my life reading and talking about books? Well, perhaps writing them.

I’ve always had a desire to write but there never seemed time to do more than dabble with the occasional short story. And my day job ensured that I never lost the critical voice in my head telling me that I really shouldn’t bother. But gradually the voice started growing fainter and at the same time the idea that I might actually write a whole book began to take hold. My cats – two stunning cream and lilac shorthairs – gave their approval, since it meant my spending a good deal more time at home with them!

The 19th century is my special period of literature and I grew up reading Georgette Heyer, so when I finally found the courage to try writing for myself, the books had to be Regency romances. Over the last four years, writing as Isabelle Goddard, I’ve published six novels set in the Regency period.

Since then, I’ve moved on a few years to Victorian England, and I’ve changed genre too. The Crystal Cage is my first novel under the name of Merryn Allingham. The book is a mystery/romantic suspense and tells the story of a long-lost tragedy, and the way echoes from the past can powerfully influence the life of a modern day heroine. The next few Allingham books will see yet another move timewise. I’ve been writing a suspense trilogy set in India and wartime London during the 1930s and 1940s, and hope soon to have news of publication.

Whatever period, whatever genre, creating new worlds and sharing them with readers gives me huge pleasure and I can’t think of a better job.

Connect with Merryn Allingham on Facebook and Goodreads.

The Crystal Cage Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 15
Review at To Read or Not to Read
Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary
Spotlight & Excerpt at Romantic Historical Reviews

Tuesday, September 16
Review at A Bookish Affair
Excerpt at Casual Readers

Wednesday, September 17
Excerpt at CelticLady’s Reviews
Interview at What Is That Book About

Thursday, September 18
Review at Turning the Pages

Friday, September 19
Review at Queen of All Reads
Excerpt at Just One More Chapter

Monday, September 22
Review at Bibliotica
Spotlight at Layered Pages

Tuesday, September 23
Interview at SOS Aloha
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection

Wednesday, September 24
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Thursday, September 25
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Excerpt at Princess of Eboli

Friday, September 26
Review at Unshelish
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, October 15
Review at The Worm Hole

***Giveaway***

To win an eBook of The Crystal Cage please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Two copies are up for grabs. Giveaway is open internationally.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on October 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on October 16th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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