Month: July 2016

Review: ISOLATION by Mary Anna Evans

51syBAw0r7L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_ISOLATION (Faye Longchamp series) by Mary Anna Evans

Mystery / Poisoned Pen Press

This was my first Faye Longchamp book, and I assure you that I will go back to read the previous books. Archaeology, ancient plantation histories, Native American expertise, a grieving mother, and the surprise return of an estranged parent from prison unleash a fascinating tale of deceit on the isolated Florida island of Joyeuse. Distraught after the death of her daughter, Faye spends her days and nights wandering the island, aimlessly digging holes for artifacts, but when she accidently digs into an old tank that releases a noxious fluid, EPA arrives and finds elevated amounts of arsenic in the soil. Throw in a wealthy “Yankee” convinced that his Civil War ancestor was a prisoner on the island, imprisoned by Cally Stanton, who he calls a crazy woman. Faye ignores the man and the geologist he hires, refusing to tell them that Cally was her great-great-grandmother, a former slave who owned Joyeuse Island. Faye has Cally’s unpublished memoir which alludes to a Civil War officer on the island. Faye emerges from her cocoon of grief determined to discover the evil that has moved onto the island when her good friend is murdered. In the process, she places her family in danger and unearths far more than she ever imagined.

Review: ADRENALINE by John Benedict

51zQZAmYwxL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_ADRENALINE by  John Benedict

Createspace Mystery/Thriller

When Dr. Doug Landry, an anesthesiologist at Our Lady of Mercy Hospital, is investigated for a series of suspicious deaths that occur shortly after anesthesia is administered, he enters the fight of his life. Who is sabotaging the anesthesia department and why? The book is jammed packed with subplots that will keep you on your toes, as you struggle to dissect each one. If you like medical suspense with hefty doses of sexual tension, desperation, ghastly patient suffering, and lawyers filling the corridors, Benedict’s book is a good read. Fast paced, the book may require you to put it down occasionally to catch your breath.

Writing Craft: Don’t let that research show! by Karen Harper


Since 1982, I’ve been published with over 70 novels, both historicals set in England and U.S.-set contemporary romantic suspense. I love to take my readers to interesting places and bring in fascinating careers for the hero or heroine. But if there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s to not let the research I love to do stand out. It has to be smoothly stirred into plot, characters or setting.

When I wrote my Amish-set rom/sus novels, I worked hard to blend in Amish beliefs and their way of life. My readers would have rolled their eyes at the very least if I had let some character spout their traditions, so this is where the old (and important!) saying, ‘Show, not tell’ comes in.

I’ve tackled a heroine who worked in the ginseng trade, one who was a deep sea diver (which I definitely am not!) and numerous heroes who may be lawyers, arson investigators or small town sheriffs. Even an obstetrician who was in a struggle with a midwife! And here, I was “only” a high school English teacher.

But working research into a book gets even more dangerous when I write my historical novels focusing on the lives of real women, such as Queen Elizabeth I. I had to be extra careful and (I hope!) clever when I wrote my Edwardian novel, THE ROYAL NANNY, which is out this month. After putting in three years of intensive reading about the late Victorians and Edwardians, I had to be very selective of what to share.

Although I had been to England many times, I made a special trip to visit places that would help me with this Downton Abbey era novel: The Victoria and Albert Museum and Buckingham Palace. (No, Her Majesty was not in.) This is the first historical setting I’ve used where I can see photos—even some YouTube videos—which make the characters come much more alive than studying the old portraits of my characters “hanging out” in museums.

So I was especially excited about the research work I’d done, but…

With THE ROYAL NANNY, I really concentrated on my rules to not hit the reader over the head with research I was proud of and loved doing. Just as it was forbidden in the Victorian age to show a flash of ankle or “limb,” I tried to remember these don’t guidelines:

–Don’t put research in dialogue unless it’s short and necessary. Beware, because it will usually should fakey. In other words, I can’t have young Bertie (of The King’s Speech) say, “I just love living here at Sandringham which Grannie Victoria bought for her son to keep him out of trouble.” Work this into the author’s voice or narration. Or at least have an outsider ask for information before someone answers.

–Don’t put big chunks of research together. Readers today don’t want to read four paragraphs straight of description unless it is absolutely necessary to the story. Break it up.

–Don’t copy research. Of course, even if you really liked a piece of research, rework it to make it your own. Not only could it be plagiarism otherwise, but key points need to be selected and written to fit the story.

–Don’t let a modern voice or word creep in. I sometimes go crazy when the copy editor who is reading for each little detail, asks, “Are you sure this word (or book title or whatever) was in use in 1885?” But she is right to ask.

Research is like the perfume of a novel. However much of it you have on your dresser, however much you love the scent, its romantic name or the ad promoting it, just a touch in the right place goes a long way. If the book is fiction, even based on reality, avoid spilling too much out at once or your story will be overpowering and not seductive.

Karen Harper HP

Book Excerpt: TRUE COUNTRY HERO by Darlene Panzera

Eonly_9780062394729_CoverMONTANA HEARTS:  TRUE COUNTRY HERO by Darlene Panzera

Sweet Contemporary Romance / Released June 28th by Avon Impulse

Jace grinned as she walked away. The blond-haired, blue-eyed beauty was interested in him even if she didn’t give him her number. He could tell by the way her eyes widened and her lips parted when she gazed at him with that cautious yet yearning expression, which had several beats of his heart tripping all over each other.

He leaned his arms on the rail of the crowded rodeo arena as one of the bronco riders shot out of the gate. The noise level from the stands rose with cheers, applause, and whistles as the buckin’ cowboy struggled to remain saddled. But as impressive as the wrangler’s ride was, Jace found more pleasure watching Delaney.

She stood to the side of the announcer’s box, her camera raised to her eye and her hands twisting the round lens back and forth to make adjustments as she snapped photo after photo. Her friend Sammy Jo stood beside her, and despite the fact that both women’s attention was fixed on the excitement going on in front of them, their differences stood out like salt and pepper.

While Sammy Jo had hair almost as dark as his own, Delaney’s long tresses were a light blond, like a sweeping halo of sunshine. Sammy Jo certainly had the curves, but Delaney’s slim figure appeared more graceful when she moved, which he found more attractive. And while Sammy Jo posed confidently in front of the camera lens, giving the rider in the arena a thumbs-up, Delaney appeared more comfortable behind it.

He didn’t relish the media attention or ask to take pictures with every new woman he met but something curiously sweet about the camerawoman had tugged at him the moment he saw her. Maybe it was the attentive way she went about her work, as if she truly cared about the quality or was passionate about the subject matter. Jace had hoped it had been the latter. He pulled up the photo of the two of them together on his cell phone and glanced at the smile she’d flashed at the last second. He may have acted like an attention-seeking fool, but he didn’t regret it for one moment.

Not for that shot.

And if she wouldn’t give him her phone number, he’d find another way to get to know her better.

Giveaway -2 Honeychurch Hall Mysteries

The Book Breeze is giving away two hardcover mysteries to delight Downton Abbey fans by Hannah Dennison – A KILLER BALL AT HONEYCHURCH HALL and DEADLY DESIRES AT HONEYCHURCH HALL.  Giveaway runs from July 18 to July 31, 2016.  Tell your friends!

61QJhJ2c+FL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_A KILLER BALL AT HONEYCHURCH HALL by Hannah Dennison / Mystery / Released May 3, 2016 by Minotaur Books.

In this captivating new mystery our heroine Kat Stanford stumbles upon a hidden room in an abandoned wing at Honeychurch Hall.  However, Kat’s initial excitement soon ends in horror.  There, lying on the cold, stone floor, Kat comes across the body of a young woman dress in an Egyptian toga and wearing a tawdry fairground trinket around her broken neck.

Suspicion falls on some of those who live at the Hall – both upstairs and down – and even those who are just passing through.  Kat uses her knowledge of antiques and sleuthing to discover that secret trysts and cads from the past point to the murderer.

61ZgJX7tIJL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_DEADLY DESIRES AT HONEYCHURCH HALL by Hannah Dennison / Mystery / Released May 2015 by Minotaur Books.

When the body of a transport minister is discovered on the grounds of Honeychurch Hall, suspicion about his unusual demise naturally falls on the folks in the village.  After all, who could possibly want a high-speed train line built in their front yard?

News of the murder soon reaches Trudy Wynne, the nemesis of our heroine, Kat Stanford.  A ruthless tabloid journalist and the ex-wife of Kat’s discarded lover, Trudy is out for revenge.  She is also interested in exposing – and humiliating – Kat’s mother, Iris, who is secretly the international bestselling romance writer Krystalle Storn.

As the body count begins to build, Kat becomes inextricably embroiled in the ensuing scandal.  Is the minister’s death the result of a local vendetta, or could it be connected to her mother’s unusual (to say the least) past?


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway contest runs from July 18 to July 31, 2016.  Tell your friends!

Books mailed to U.S. addresses only.


51G4kPheI4L._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_MY MAD FAT DIARY, A Memoir by Rae Earl / Released April 19, 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin

It’s 1989 and Rae Earl is a fat, boy-mad seventeen-year-old girl, living in Stamford, Lincolnshire, with her mum and their deaf white cat in a council house with a mint-green bathroom and a refrigerator Rae can’t keep away from.  She’s also just been released from a psychiatric ward.  My Mad Fat Diary is the hilarious, harrowing, and touching real-life diary Rae kept during that fateful year and the basis of the hit British television series of the same name now on Hulu.

Rae’s chronicle of her world will strike a chord with anyone who’s ever been a confused, lonely teenager clashing with her parents, sometimes overeating, hating her body, always taking herself VERY seriously, never knowing how positively brilliant she is, and keeping a diary to record it all.  My Mad Fat Diary – 365 days with one of the wisest and funniest girls in England.

QUICK WALK TO MURDER by jd daniels

51E7aRUg6cL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_QUICK WALK TO MURDER The Second Jessie Murphy Mystery by jd daniels / Released Dec 2015

Brace yourself for an “electrifying and page-turning” read where zany, Thrift Store Fashion Queen Jessie Murphy once again proves that artists can master the art of deductive reasoning.  She may trip.  She may skip.  She may even get lip from an inanimate object.  But, in the end, she nips the killer.

Gifted college student, Tomas Moore, is the son of a crusty Pine Island crab fisherman and a Mexican homemaker who often seeks psychic guidance.  When the young man is found murdered, his parents and the locals fear the law will not place a high priority on solving his death.

It is up to Jessie Murphy to find the killer.  Is it another crabber?  A rejected lover?  His rich girlfriend?  Her brother?  Two cagey fisherman?  Or, his college roommate?

Ties that bind.  Rivalries of the heart.  Threat of collapse to an island’s livelihood.  As Jessie tries to unravel the mystery of this promising young islander’s murder she finds herself in a heart-stopping race against time in which honesty and love are tested, greed is rampant, and no one – including Jessie – is safe.