Murder...Mayhem...And Mystery Have A Flavor You'll Want To Savor In "Plum Tea Crazy"

Title:  Plum Tea Crazy
Series: (Tea Shop Mystery #19)
Author:  Laura Childs
Date Of Publication:  March 6, 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Rating:  5 Stars

Theodosia Browning investigates a Charleston steeped in tradition and treachery in the latest Tea Shop Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs.

While viewing the harbor's Gaslights and Galleons Parade from the widow's walk of Timothy Neville's Charleston mansion, local banker Carson Lanier seemingly tumbles over a narrow railing, then plunges three stories to his death. But a tragic accident becomes something much more sinister when it's discovered that the victim was first shot with a bolt from a crossbow.

At the request of the mansion owner, Theodosia investigates the tragedy and is soon neck deep in suspects. An almost ex-wife, a coworker, a real estate partner--all had motives for killing the luckless banker, but one resorted to murder to settle accounts.


                    From Agony of the Leaves, Chapter 1:
Theodosia clapped a hand to her mouth, horrified but unable to look away. Her rapidly darting eyes took in the entire bizarre scene of a man gently bobbing in the huge aquarium tank, hopelessly entwined in some kind of net. His facial expression was a death grimace. Then, a floating, almost disembodied hand seemed to slowly rise up and scratch tentatively at the glass.
Oh no! Please, no!
Theodosia’s world suddenly lurched crazily on its axis. Because bizarrely, horrifically, she recognized the signet ring on the dead man’s left hand!
If she hadn’t, Theodosia wouldn’t have known it was her former boyfriend!
“Parker?” she gasped.
Her legs turning to jelly, panic coursing through her, Theodosia sank to her knees as the horror of what was happening closed in around her like a dank rag dripping with chloroform. Her respiration came in short, biting gasps, but the air didn’t seem to be getting to her lungs. She felt close to blacking out as a strange darkness, oppressive like a damp, threatening fog, threatened to overtake her.
Clawing at the glass now, Theodosia let loose a low moan as Parker’s body twisted in the netting that wrapped around him, scattering fish like frightened lemmings. Could they sense his death, too? Did they feel her shock and dread? Were they absorbing the sound waves of her desperate beating against the glass?
It was only when a moray eel made a lazy circle about Parker’s head that Theodosia thought to scream out loud. 
Ooh, it gives me the creeps just re-reading this. And I’m the one who wrote it! But I wanted to make my first chapter eerily dark and filled with terror. After all, how would you feel if you saw the face of your ex-boyfriend bobbing in a giant aquarium? How would anyone feel?
Obviously, my main character, Theodosia, is horrified. And that’s a logical reaction as well as an identifiable emotion for readers of this murder mystery. Because fear and outrage are what propel the story forward. This horrific discovery sends my main character on a hunt for her own brand of justice.
Does she want to go after the killer? No, not really, because that’s quite a frightening prospect. But she is compelled to do so. The police think the drowning’s an accident, but Theodosia sees it differently. Which is what adds impetus and raises the stakes. That’s the tricky thing about writing a mystery. You always have to keep building conflict and throwing obstacles in the path of your main characters. And, believe it or not, you have to keep doing this throughout the entire book!
Agony of the Leaves is my 13th Tea Shop Mystery. And though the writing doesn’t get any easier, I’m having more fun building suspense and dropping dead bodies in chapter one than ever before!
Laura Childs

My Review
Though this is indeed the first experience that I have had of Miss Theodosia's tea-laced brand of sleuthing.  I must say that hers is a world that this reviewer had no trouble making herself at home in, almost immediately.

The reasons:

The rather unorthodox method in which a very unfortunate Mr. Lanier meets his maker.
This is a death that must be read to be appreciated.
More on the subject shall not be said however.
For fear of spoilers.

Can you say smart, efficient, snarky, and endowed with just enough curiosity to make it way too much for her own good.

The Supporting Cast
There are no small parts or small players in this cozy whodunit.  As a result there is also never a shortage of either high jinx or plausible suspects.
Putting a much needed whisper of common sense into the mix, and managing to hold down the fort at the tea shop.  Theodosia's business partner and tea sommelier extraordinaire, Drayton, merits a singular mention.  As he was most responsible for the introduction of a great many of the tea recipes that are a hallmark of this series.
Of course my review of the supporting cast wouldn't be complete without a few honorable mentions.

Jamie-the young relative that Drayton is forced to take under his wing and "teach what he knows about tea".
His un-Draytonness provides just the right amount of freshness.  Not to mention seeing the way that his presence serves to ruffle Drayton's impeccably groomed feathers is a sight well worth the proverbial price of admission.

Det. Riley- aka "The White Knight.  Theodosia's get things done "right hand boo thang " on the local police force.  Who is also there to make sure that his oh so curious kitty maintains as many of her nine lives as is humanly possible.

The Writing
The writing is very reader friendly.  Possessing just the right amount of charm, snark, and wit.
This is a book that one wants to read.
 Moderate pacing and a very readable mid-range length of 318 pages, makes this read the perfect 'one sitting wonder'.

The Ending
This is truly an ending that you won't see coming.  Which is for this reviewer, the golden standard for all mysteries.  Cozy especially.  Given the fact that the smaller scope of the story usually leads to the reader knowing who the guilty party is long before the sleuths.

In short...
This may be book 19 in the Tea Shop Mystery series.  But it is a book that both mystery and tea lovers will want to savor long after its story has ended.

*Reviewer's Note
Plum Tea Crazy may be read is part of its respective series, or as a stand alone.

**I was granted a review copy of this book as part of the First To Read Program (Penguin)
    In exchange for the honest review provided.

About Laura
Laura ChildsLaura Childs is a pseudonym for Gerry Schmitt and she is the best-selling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, the Scrapbook Mysteries, and the Cackleberry Club Mysteries.

Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fund raising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

Laura specializes in cozy mysteries that have the pace of a thriller (a thrillzy!) Her three series are:

The Tea Shop Mysteries - set in the historic district of Charleston and featuring Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia is a savvy entrepreneur, and pet mom to service dog Earl Grey. She's also an intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn't rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. This charming series is highly atmospheric and rife with the history and mystery that is Charleston.

The Scrapbooking Mysteries - a slightly edgier series that take place in New Orleans. The main character, Carmela, owns Memory Mine scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter and is forever getting into trouble with her friend, Ava, who owns the Juju Voodoo shop. New Orleans' spooky above-ground cemeteries, jazz clubs, bayous, and Mardi Gras madness make their presence known here!

The Cackleberry Club Mysteries - set in Kindred, a fictional town in the Midwest. In a rehabbed Spur station, Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, three semi-desperate, forty-plus women have launched the Cackleberry Club. Eggs are the morning specialty here and this cozy cafe even offers a book nook and yarn shop. Business is good but murder could lead to the cafe's undoing! This series offers recipes, knitting, cake decorating, and a dash of spirituality.
   Find Her:  Web / Goodreads

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"Born To Be Wilde" Proves Itself To Be So Much More Than Just A Pretty Romance...

Title:  Born To Be Wilde
Series:  (The Wildes Of Lindow Castle #3)
Author:  Eloisa James
Expected Date Of Publication: July 31, 2018 
Publisher:  Avon
Rating:  4 Stars

The richest bachelor in England plays matchmaker…for an heiress he wants for himself!

For beautiful, witty Lavinia Gray, there's only one thing worse than having to ask the appalling Parth Sterling to marry her: being turned down by him.

Now the richest bachelor in England, Parth is not about to marry a woman as reckless and fashion-obsessed as Lavinia; he's chosen a far more suitable bride.
But when he learns of Lavinia's desperate circumstances, he offers to find her a husband. Even better, he'll find her a prince.
As usual, there's no problem Parth can't fix. But the more time he spends with the beguiling Lavinia, the more he finds himself wondering…

Why does the woman who's completely wrong feel so right in his arms?

Excerpt from Born to be Wilde, by Eloisa James

Chapter One
Lindow Castle, Cheshire
Country seat of the Duke of Lindow
June 4, 1780
Miss Lavinia Gray considered herself reasonably brave. In her twenty-one years, she had been presented to both an English and a French queen without losing her composure. She had squeaked, but not screamed, after a close encounter with an exceedingly large bear. Perhaps “bear” was an exaggeration. One could call it a dog, but only if a dog had huge bear-like fangs and lunged from the shadows.
Screaming would not have been uncalled for.
There was also the time she had waded into a lake rumored to be inhabited by leeches. She had shuddered but soldiered on every time something soft bumped her legs.
But this?
Hovering in the corridor outside a gentleman’s bedchamber?
This was a whole new level of uneasiness. She’d prefer to swim in a leechy lake up to her neck than knock on the door before her.
The ironic thing was that she’d soothed many a young gentleman who had fallen to his knees to offer marriage, although now she realized she should have been even kinder. Drumming up one’s nerves to propose was terrifying.
That’s what she was about to do.
A silent shriek went through her head. How in heaven’s name had she come to this?
She shook off the unhelpful thought and tried to muster her courage. Generally speaking, she found dresses to be a formidable suit of armor, useful in marshalling courage, but even one of her best Parisian gowns wasn’t helping. Champagne-tinted silk clung to her figure and then opened into frothy ruffles at the hem; modest padding at the hips emphasized the swell of her breasts and made her waist look smaller.
Ordinarily, she would have felt invulnerable in it, but at the moment, she felt only self-conscious dread.
The problem was that Parth Sterling had never shown any sign of being attracted to her figure—or any other part of her, for that matter. Just last night he had entered the drawing room, nodded to her, and promptly moved to the other side of the room.
After not seeing her for two years.
Bring on the leechy lake.
“You have no choice,” her cousin Diana had fiercely insisted, not ten minutes ago. “You must marry Parth.”
Lavinia took a deep breath, forcing herself to stand still and not dash down the corridor. Hands clenched at her sides, she firmed her lips and took a step closer to the door.
She needed Parth, not only because he was the richest bachelor in the kingdom, but because he—well, he got things done.
He fixed things.
Problems of all sorts.
The thought stiffened her backbone, and before she could stop herself again, she knocked. And waited.
A swooning sense of relief came over her when no one opened the door.
She would return to Diana and report that Parth Sterling unaccountably hadn’t been in his chamber waiting for a marriage proposal.
He was—
He was standing in the open doorway, staring at her there in the dark corridor.
She managed a wavering smile. “Hello!”
“Jesus,” he barked, and then looked both ways. “What in the hell are you doing out here?”
Before she could answer, he grabbed her by the elbow, pulled her inside, and slammed the door.
Earlier, talking to Diana, it had all made sense, in a cracked sort of way: Parth was unmarried, and Parth was a problem-solver.
But faced with Parth? Who was taller than most men, broader in his chest, with thick hair, skin like honey, dark eyes…
He looked like a pirate. Diana’s words. She herself would have said a king. A pirate king.
“I find myself in a predicament,” Lavinia said, the words tripping over each other. “Well, more than a predicament, a problem. Yes, problem is the right word for it.” Usually she had no trouble speaking, but now it felt as if sentences were knocking about in her head.
“It must be an appalling sort of problem, to bring you to my door.” His voice wasn’t chilly, precisely, but she caught a distinct ironic edge.
Oh God, her sins were coming home to roost.
“I used to call you Appalling Parth,” she said, clearing her throat. “It was merely in jest, and I apologize.”
“To be sure, a jest,” he agreed, his voice indifferent. “Whatever the case, why are you here, Miss Sterling?”
“You used to call me Lavinia. In fact, you did seconds ago.”
“Seconds ago I was shocked to find a lady standing at my bedchamber door. It seems we were both guilty of a lapse in decorum.”
Well, that was blunt. Lavinia twisted her fingers together, trying to work out how to broach the subject of marriage. This was a disaster. She ought to leave. She told herself to leave, quite firmly. Her feet remained rooted to the carpet.
Parth raised a brow. “Well?” he said, when she had apparently stood in silence too long. “What can I do for you, Miss Sterling?”
Before she thought twice, her eyes flew to his. Yes, she had teased him. But she didn’t believe he hated her.
“Lavinia,” he corrected, his eyes softening. “That was graceless of me, because you are clearly in extremis. What can I do to help?”
The humiliating thing was that the mere sight of him made her heart pound. Never mind that he was monstrously arrogant and would make a terrible husband. From the moment she’d first seen him, two summers before, he’d done something to her. He aggravated her. He infuriated her. He intrigued her. She hated that the most because he had made it clear from the first time he saw her that he considered her trivial, silly, and intellectually inferior.
Why in God’s name had she allowed Diana to talk her into this?
She cleared her throat. “I was wondering if you had made any plans for marriage.”
He froze.
“Because,” Lavinia said, propelled forward by the horrible narrative that she and Diana had devised. “I am…I am…”
She couldn’t do it.
She tried again. “It’s just that I thought—”
“Are you offering to marry me?” His voice rasped. “Bloody hell, Lavinia—are you proposing marriage?”
“Something like that,” she admitted.
She had imagined surprise, or blunt rejection. She had not imagined…pity.
But she saw pity in his dark eyes, and a wave of humiliation made her stomach cramp. Instinctively she swung her gaze away and caught sight of the two of them in a looking glass hanging on the wall.
Lavinia looked the same as she had two hours ago.  Her thick hair was the color of new guineas; her blue eyes were framed by lavish eyelashes that she darkened religiously. A buxom figure and lips that she didn’t bother to color because her looks already skirted the edge of respectability.
That showed just how deceiving an appearance could be.
She was no longer the Lavinia of two hours ago. For one thing, she was no longer respectable. A hysterical giggle rose in her chest at the thought. Miss Lavinia Gray, daughter of Lady Gray, who had been wooed on both side of the Channel, was no longer—
Her eyes moved to Parth again and it struck her that he wasn’t wearing a coat, just a white linen shirt. In fact, he’d rolled up his sleeves, revealing powerful arms. No wig, no coat. She looked down. No boots.
“We aren’t from the same world,” he said, catching her thought but not understanding it. “You don’t want to marry me, Lavinia. I can’t imagine why you got that in your head.”
Out of nowhere, a streak of blind stubbornness appeared. “Would you…may I know your reasons for refusing me?”
He looked at her, incredulous. “Lavinia, are you feeling well?”
“Not particularly,” she said in a burst of honesty. “Perhaps because I’ve never done anything like this before.” She was confident around the men who’d courted her; their attentions confirmed her desirability. But something about Parth made her feel uncertain and defensive. At the same time, everything in her prickled into life.
“I gather you are saying no,” she added.
“I am indeed saying no,” Parth replied. His tone wasn’t unkind, but it was unambiguous. He moved to stand behind a chair, as if to put an obstacle between them, as if she were a feral dog who might lunge at him.
This wasn’t the way this was supposed to go.
Diana had been confident that Parth would agree, and she had talked at length about how he would fall in love with Lavinia after they had wed. With a sickening jolt, Lavinia realized that she had gone along with the plan because it involved Parth.
Who was precisely the sort of man who would never accept a bride he hadn’t chosen himself.
She was such a fool.
“Lavinia, is there anything I can—”
“No, nothing at all,” she said brightly, turning toward the door. “I can’t imagine why I ever had such an idiotic notion.”
He stepped in front of her. “Why did you?”
“I have had a lingering infatuation,” she said, the words pouring out before she caught them. “You don’t believe I give every man pet names, do you?”
She saw the muscles tense through the sheer linen of his shirt. It was…
“I’m joking!” she cried. “It’s time I return to my own chamber. You certainly don’t want me to be caught here. I can assure you, Parth, that I may ask a gentleman to marry me, but I would never compromise one.”
His hand whipped out and caught her arm. “I’m not the first you’ve proposed to?” It was a growl.
“As a matter of fact, you are.” Then she added, with reckless bravado, “But now I’ve broken the ice, so to speak, who knows where I’ll stop?”
Parth shook his head. “When you left England, you were the most desirable lady on the marriage market. You have no need to woo a man, Lavinia.”
“Times change,” she said lightly.
His gaze moved from her toes to her head. “No, they don’t. You look—” Then his eyes sharpened. “Wait. I see.”
“You do?” She pulled her arm free and began to back toward the door. Why had she listened to Diana? Everyone knew that her cousin was prone to wild ideas. Just look at the way Diana had run away from her own betrothal party with no more than a hatbox, and after that, had become a governess in the home of her jilted fiancĂ©.
He took a step toward her, eyes intent. “It’s not a disgrace, Lavinia.”
“You know?” There was gravel in her voice.
“I can guess.”
“Oh.” The word was small and ashamed.
“I’ll find him,” Parth said, low and ferocious. “And I’ll kill him.”
“The father of your child.” Parth’s large hands closed around her shoulders. “Tell me his name.” His eyes fell to her bosom, assessed the size of her breasts, descended to her hips. “Three or four months on the way, I would guess?”
Lavinia’s mouth fell open, and then she snapped it shut. She’d been humiliated before, but now… “You believe I’d deceive you so?” The words came out broken and aching. “I know you don’t like me, Parth, but you think me capable of that? That I’d—that I’d ask you to marry me in order to disguise the fact I was carrying another man’s child?”
His eyes went blank and his hands fell away.
“You feel that I’m—that I had—that I would—” Her throat ached so much she couldn’t speak. She had known he disliked her. But she hadn’t imagined he thought she was loose. Or worse, conniving.
That was the moment when, looking back, Lavinia decided that she could consider herself brave. Because she didn’t cry or scream. She summoned the last dregs of her courage and drew herself upright.
She might have even given him a polite smile. “I apologize, Parth. Excuse me, I meant to say, Mr. Sterling. I intruded into your chamber and embarrassed both of us, for no good reason.”
She skirted him and fled, somehow finding the discipline to close the door quietly behind herself.

My Thoughts
Parth Sterling is a Wilde in every way that counts.
But his place as an adopted son of the most influential family in all of English aristocracy, can never overshadow the fact that in thought, action, and business, Parth Sterling is a self made man.

For Lavinia Gray self-made may not be an option.  But given the dire state of her family fortune, due to the hidden demons of thievery and addiction that plague her mother.  Lavina is a woman well aware that both her's and her mother's fortunes rest solely on her ability to make a match for herself.


The problem...
The one man to which Lavinia can even imagine herself connected in any way, has no intention of connecting himself to her.
Choosing instead to align himself with an Italian Countessa.
But the more that Parth seeks to put distance between himself and the beleaguered Miss Gray.  The more that fate and an undeniable attraction between the two seem to ensure that they are thrown together at every possible opportunity. With more than a little help from those lovable albeit meddlesome Wildes, of course.

Both Lavinia and Parth are characters for whom the Wilde circle is an indirect circumstance.
Because he was adopted by the family after the loss of his own.
Through the betrothal of her mother's ward Diana, to one Lord Roland Northbridge Wilde.
Connections that one could only have made however, if one has had the pleasure of reading both Wilde In Love and Too Wilde To Wed.  (Books 1 and 2 in the Wildes Of Lindow Castle series.)

Writing this review as someone with both feet and opinion thoroughly shaped by having read both prior books.
It is more than apparent that the backstory afforded by the previous introductions of both the characters and by extension, their emotional entanglements; serves to render the cat and mouse game of "I can't and won't marry you for x, y, and z" quite moot.
As readers, as well as everyone in the book, come into things knowing full well that there can be none for Parth or Lavinia but the other.
(Insert heartfelt sigh and dramatic eye roll here.)

Not to worry though...
The story can and does carry on, moot point and all.  As only an Eloisa James romance can.
Although Lavinia's occupation as Diana's stylist seems to do more at times to make this a continuation of North a Diana's story than anything else.

Rounding things out for the better.
Miss James' exploration of addiction, recovery, and relapse as afforded by Mrs. Gray's portion of the story.
This is the stuff of extremely compelling reading.
An element that makes all of the sojourns into "why exactly am I here again" worth all the effort.
Reviewer's Note:  Born To Be Wilde is the third book in an interrelated companion series, and may be read as part of that series, or as a standalone.

About Eloisa
New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James writes historical romances for HarperCollins Publishers. Her novels have been published to great acclaim. A reviewer from USA Today wrote of Eloisa's very first book that she "found herself devouring the book like a dieter with a Hershey bar"; later People Magazine raved that "romance writing does not get much better than this." Her novels have repeatedly received starred reviews from Publishers' Weekly and Library Journal and regularly appear on the best-seller lists.

After graduating from Harvard University, Eloisa got an M.Phil. from Oxford University, a Ph.D. from Yale and eventually became a Shakespeare professor, publishing an academic book with Oxford University Press. Currently she is an associate professor and head of the Creative Writing program at Fordham University in New York City. Her "double life" is a source of fascination to the media and her readers. In her professorial guise, she's written a New York Times op-ed defending romance, as well as articles published everywhere from women's magazines such as More to writers' journals such as the Romance Writers' Report.

Eloisa...on her double life:

When I'm not writing novels, I'm a Shakespeare professor. It's rather like having two lives. The other day I bought a delicious pink suit to tape a television segment on romance; I'll never wear that suit to teach in, nor even to give a paper at the Shakespeare Association of America conference. It's like being Superman, with power suits for both lives. Yet the literature professor in me certainly plays into my romances. The Taming of the Duke (April 2006) has obvious Shakespearean resonances, as do many of my novels. I often weave early modern poetry into my work; the same novel might contain bits of Catullus, Shakespeare and anonymous bawdy ballads from the 16th century.

When I rip off my power suit, whether it's academic or romantic, underneath is the rather tired, chocolate-stained sweatshirt of a mom. Just as I use Shakespeare in my romances, I almost always employ my experiences as a mother. When I wrote about a miscarriage in Midnight Pleasures, I used my own fears of premature birth; when the little girl in Fool For Love threw up and threw up, I described my own daughter, who had that unsavory habit for well over her first year of life.

So I'm a writer, a professor, a mother - and a wife. My husband Alessandro is Italian, born in Florence. We spend the lazy summer months with his mother and sister in Italy. It always strikes me as a huge irony that as a romance writer I find myself married to a knight, a cavaliere, as you say in Italian.

One more thing...I'm a friend. I have girlfriends who are writers and girlfriends who are Shakespeare professors. And I have girlfriends who are romance readers. In fact, we have something of a community going on my website. Please stop by and join the conversation on my readers' pages.

Find: Her
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Meet The New Bonnie And Clyde Of Homicide In "The Anatomist's Wife"

Title:  The Anatomist's Wife
(A Lady Darby Mystery #1)
Author:  Anna Lee Huber
Publisher:  Berkley
Date Of Publication:  November 6th, 2012
Rating:  4.5 Stars

Scotland, 1830. Following the death of her husband, Lady Darby has taken refuge at her sister's estate, finding solace in her passion for painting. But when her hosts throw a house party for the cream of London society, Kiera is unable to hide from the ire of those who believe her to be as unnatural as her husband, an anatomist who used her artistic talents to suit his own macabre purposes.

Kiera wants to put her past aside, but when one of the house guests is murdered, her brother-in-law asks her to utilize her knowledge of human anatomy to aid the insufferable Sebastian Gage--a fellow guest with some experience as an inquiry agent. While Gage is clearly more competent than she first assumed, Kiera isn't about to let her guard down as accusations and rumors swirl.

When Kiera and Gage's search leads them to even more gruesome discoveries, a series of disturbing notes urges Lady Darby to give up the inquiry. But Kiera is determined to both protect her family and prove her innocence, even as she risks becoming the next victim...

The Anatomist's Wife
Chapter 3

    The chapel where Lady Godwin's body had been stored was located on the far western end of Gairloch Castle. It often bore the brunt of the ferocious winds coming off Loch Ewe in winter, blocking the rest of the castle from a direct blow. Being the coldest part of the estate, the western block was rarely used anymore, and at an hour past midnight, the rooms and hallways that shrouded and dusty from disuse felt eerily vacant.
    I shivered as we marched down the corridor, grateful I had thrown a shawl over my shoulders before we set out. The lantern Mr. Gage carried barely peeled back the darkness around us, and certainly did nothing to heat the drafty hallway. Much as I had decided to dislike him, I found myself shifting ever closer to his body, trying to stay as close to the center of the circle of light as possible.
    I realized we could have waited until dawn to examine Lady Godwin's body. She would stay fresh enough in the chapel cellar. But I had decided it would be better to have the task over and done with. Procrastinating was not going to make it any easier, and I knew I would never get any sleep that night regardless. Mr. Gage had readily agreed, and I wondered if perhaps he felt the same way.
    The clatter of our footfalls echoed off the old stone, the only sound other than the creak of the swinging lantern. The silence unsettled me, but I somehow felt speaking would only make it worse. As if making conversation somehow demeaned the seriousness of our undertaking. Besides, what would we talk about? The weather? The party? It all just seemed foolish.
    I wrapped my shawl tighter around me. I didn't even really know Lady Godwin. In the week she spent at Gairloch, I had discovered she was a flirt and many of the men seemed to fancy her. After all, she was beautiful, but in the superficial way that wealthy ladies often are. I believe I'd only spoken two words to her during her stay, an "excuse me" as she nearly bumped into me in the hall one evening. And now I was about to view more of her than any of her gentlemen admirers had ever seen.

My Thoughts
There is so much to love about Anna Lee Huber's The Anatomist's Wife.  Leading lady, Keira Darby, is the perfect blend of social outsider, wronged widow, and too smart for her own good.  Factors which, when taken together, make her a totally irresistible character indeed.

Couple this with the almost too small "small town mentality" of the Scottish gentry of the day, an enigmatic leading man, and murder...
Can you say must read mystery?

If you are a reader who likes your mysteries suspenseful until the last.  Your plots cerebral and character driven, and the barest hint of nuanced attraction to boot. You are sure to love the Bonnie and Clyde-esque maneuverings of Keira and Sebastian.

Be forewarned...
There is much musing about  the thoughts and feelings of others.  As well as flowery prose and romantic notions about Gage on the  part of Keira.  But that is to be expected, given the time period and general lack of any other pressing activities.

The best part of this read by far however, has to be the can't miss action packed ending.
An ending that not only provides readers with an utterly jaw dropping solution to the where's, why's, and truly are moments of this most gruesome of murders.
But also goes a long way in assuring readers that the chemistry that is a brewing between our sleuthing twosome, is a whole lot more than just a flash in the proverbial pan.

All About Anna
Anna Lee Huber is the Daphne award-winning author of the national bestselling Lady Darby Mysteries, the Verity Kent Mysteries, the Gothic Myths series, and the forthcoming anthology The Jacobite’s Watch. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she majored in music and minored in psychology. She currently resides in Indiana with her family and is hard at work on her next novel. Visit her online at

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Book Review Tours Presents: The Forsaken Paradise Book Blitz

About the Book:
What could be more dangerous than loving a rogue?

Condemned as a rogue and punished by his master, Angrail, one of the Seven Paradise Walkers, has wandered mortal and immortal worlds for centuries. He's determined to find those responsible for killing an innocent woman and the child she carried, no matter the cost to himself.

Ephynia, a demoness with scars, has spent a lifetime serving Nerafail, Lord of the Dead. When she unwittingly stumbles upon the one being who can end her loneliness, the battered Angrail, her life changes forever.

Unknown to Angrail and Ephynia, evil lurks in the shadows. There are those who believe Angrail and Ephynia are the key to preventing a coming war—a war that they need to take place—and they seek to end their lives.

Can Angrail find love in the arms of a demoness at war with herself? Or will the secrets hidden within the bowels of their worlds destroy them before they can find peace?

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Angrail moaned, agony flowing like water through him. He could taste the souls wanting peace, hear their weak cries, but could do nothing. Shifting, the wounds he'd suffered screamed in protest, pain lacing through his muscles.

Inhaling a sharp breath, he froze. The sweetness of a strange smell stirred something within him. Blood, bone, life clung to whoever hovered nearby. The smell of smoke, of flame swirled in the air as well. Cracking his eyes open, he blinked to clear his vision and tensed.

Bronze skin glistening in the fading sunlight, a female stood at the mouth of the cave. Her arms were crossed beneath her breasts, a sword hanging at her hip. Multi-toned hair was slicked back, revealing the ornately decorated curve of a horn. She was a huntress. But why would she have removed him from the battlefield? None of her kind, or his own brethren, were allowed to touch him. Nerafail's generosity had bound them to watch him suffer. Aye, the old lord was a fool, one he had no desire to seek forgiveness from.

"What…" Licking his dry lips, he struggled into a sitting position. His head swam with the effort, his stomach revolting at the pain swarming him. "What do you have need of me?"

"You are awake. Excellent." The demoness turned, her eyes narrowed on him. "What do I have need with you? I should hope you have such an answer for me, guide."

Coughing, Angrail leaned his head against the stone, his chest tight, burning with the need for oxygen. Being trapped within the mortal frame had its drawbacks. "Who are you? Nerafail would not permit you to aid me."

"Aid? I have no desire to aid you. I wish to know why you called me back from my task." She stalked to him, her hips swaying. Hunkering down by his feet, she tilted her head. "I was sent forth to retrieve a soul and had nearly done that when I felt you. You kept me from leaving the field, I would know why."

"Go to Hardress." Angrail winced. "Back to your revelry and—"

"I would go home, but you refuse to release your bonds. You will tell me what I wish to know." She slammed him into the rock, her fingers tightening around his throat.

With her touch, Angrail's body arched, gasping for air as pain and heat washed over him in waves. He could feel her grip tightening, feel the force of her anger, and felt his own stirring.

He blinked, the images dancing in his mind ones he'd never seen before. Images that instinct told him were important.

Flames danced around them. Sweat beaded and rolled between her breasts. Her tongue licked at his skin, and her horns flared with passion. His shaft throbbed in yearning at her body undulating, her hips gyrating slowly. To and fro, rolling, pitching, she remained in constant motion, her hands trailing over her flesh, cupping her breasts. Her fingers plucked at her nipples, pulling on them until they stood hard, pointing toward him. She shuddered, her hand drifting down her abdomen, slipping beneath the braided belt of her skirt.

Heady, rich, the scent of her essence filled the air. Sweeter than honey, it teased along his shaft, filling him with want. Faint, the echo of her sliding her fingers through the folds between her legs grew in volume with each slow roll of her hips.

He pushed the images out of his head and shoved her arm aside, his eyes narrowing. "Careful, huntress, you're showing weakness."

"Tell me and I'll ease your misery."

"You can't."

About the Author:
Born in Northern British Columbia, Elise is a small-town girl. She writes in a variety of genres including paranormal, contemporary suspense, m/m in various lengths. Currently, she lives in British Columbia with her husband and son, one dog, one cat, and a gecko. Elise enjoys reading as much as she does writing, with some of her favorite books being read until they fall apart. 
She is currently working on the next book in the Forsaken Series, Burning Rain. As well she has a new contemporary she’s working on. For more information on Elise, or to check out her books you can find her on Facebook, twitter, and her website.

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HFVBT Presents: Cleopatra Unconquered

Cleopatra Unconquered by Helen R. Davis

Publication Date: December 2, 2015
Savant Books & Publications LLC

eBook & Paperback; 328 Pages

Genre: Alternative Historical Fiction

The first book of three in a richly imagined ancient world where the course of history is altered by one battle. In this world, Antony and Cleopatra triumph at the Battle of Actium, and Cleopatra emerges as a queen, stateswoman, and politician. Those around her come to life as the reader returns to those days to live them with her.

"The first in a series, Cleopatra Unconquered by Helen R. Davis is a treat for those fascinated by Egypt and the lost glories of antiquity. The author weaves the fruits of her careful research into a fascinating combination of both the historical fiction and fantasy genres. It gives readers a look into history as it was, as well as into what might have been." - Elena Marie Vidal, author of The Paradise Tree

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

"Cleopatra Elder particularly enjoyed sitting with her youngest daughter, reading aloud the stories and history of ancient Egypt in Egyptian from scrolls taken from the famous Library of Alexandria to the wide-eyed youth. She read to her in Greek about the country they ruled, and about glories of Greece, especially Macedonia where the Ptolemaic Dynasty had originated, and in Latin of contentious Rome, the newest empire and Egypt's current principal debt-holder. From earliest age, Cleopatra VII Philopater also heard of her personal protector, the Goddess Isis. When the Queen Mother tired, she would have her teenage maid, Charmion, a beautiful, ebony-colored Nubian slave who would later become Queen Cleopatra VII's personal maid and cosmetic advisor, recite hymns and sing praises in Egyptian to Isis. The first day she saw the young princess, Charmion fashioned an image of Isis made of soft cloth and dressed Egyptian-style in a linen sheath dress, along with a baby that attached to Isis' arm, meant to represent the both the Goddess' mythical son, Horus, and, at the same time, her newest daughter, Cleopatra Younger."

My Thoughts
Helen R. Davis' reimagining of the life and times of one of histories greatest rulers is nothing less than monumental. The time and attention to detail with which this work is written make it a true joy for both history buffs and those who love a great story. 
One of the most intriguing parts of this story has to be Cleopatras connection to her parents and the goddess Nut. This added touch gives something more to a well-known truth in her story.
The one thing that serves a bit of a detraction from the overall, majesty of this first foray into our queen's story is the fact that she serves more of a tactical role in battle than an actual one. Given the fact that this is a retelling. One would expect there to be more creative used at such times.
The being said. This book as well as those to follow are and will be masterworks of imagination and fact worthy of the queen whom they do and will depict.

About the Author

Helen R. Davis is an American author. Her first novel, Evita: My Argentina was previously published as Evita: My Life and republished with Custom Book Publications in Hong Kong. Her second novel, CLEOPATRA UNCONQUERED, which is the first in a series, imagines a world in which Antony and Cleopatra, rather than Augustus Caesar, are the victors of the Battle of Actium. the sequel, CLEOPATRA VICTORIOUS, will be released soon, followed by the titles CLEOPATRA MAGNIFICA and CLEOPATRA TRIUMPHANT. Her third novel, or at least, her third historical novel/alternate history, THE MOST HAPPY, was published with Callipe Editorial, based out of Madrid Spain, on July 25th, 2017.

For more information, please visit Helen Davis' website. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, April 2
Review at Teaser Addicts Book Blog

Tuesday, April 3
Feature at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, April 4
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Friday, April 6
Review & Excerpt at WTF Are You Reading?

Monday, April 9
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, April 11
Excerpt at My Reading Corner

Friday, April 13
Review of History From a Woman's Perspective

Sunday, April 15
Feature at Clarissa Reads it All

Monday, April 16
Feature at Donna's Book Blog

Thursday, April 19
Review at Carole's Ramblings

Friday, April 20
Review at Cup of Sensibility

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