"Chasing Cassandra" Is A Novel Sure To Catch The Heart Of Every Reader

Title:  Chasing Cassandra
Series:  (The Ravenels #6)
Author:  Lisa Kleypas
Format:  eARC
Length:  384 pages
Publisher:  Avon
Rating:  4.5 Stars

 Everything has a price...

Railway magnate Tom Severin is wealthy and powerful enough to satisfy any desire as soon as it arises. Anything—or anyone—is his for the asking. It should be simple to find the perfect wife—and from his first glimpse of Lady Cassandra Ravenel, he’s determined to have her. But the beautiful and quick-witted Cassandra is equally determined to marry for love—the one thing he can’t give.

Everything except her...

Severin is the most compelling and attractive man Cassandra has ever met, even if his heart is frozen. But she has no interest in living in the fast-paced world of a ruthless man who always plays to win.

When a newfound enemy nearly destroys Cassandra’s reputation, Severin seizes the opportunity he’s been waiting for. As always, he gets what he wants—or does he? There’s one lesson Tom Severin has yet to learn from his new bride:

Never underestimate a Ravenel.

The chase for Cassandra’s hand may be over. But the chase for her heart has only just begun...

Please enjoy this excerpt from...
Chasing Cassandra

It had been a mistake to invite himself to the wedding.

Not that Tom Severin gave a damn about politeness or etiquette. He liked barging into places where he hadn’t been invited, knowing he was too rich for anyone to dare throw him out. But he should have anticipated the Ravenel wedding would be an utter bore, as weddings always were. Nothing but romantic drivel, lukewarm food, and far, far too many flowers. At the ceremony this morning, the tiny estate chapel of Eversby Priory had been stuffed to the rafters, as if the entire Covent Garden Flower Market had disgorged its contents there. The air had been so thick with perfume, it had given Tom a mild headache.

He wandered through the ancient Jacobean manor house, looking for a quiet place to sit and close his eyes. Outside, guests congregated at the front entrance to cheer for the newly married couple as they departed for their honeymoon.

With the exception of a few guests such as Rhys Winterborne, a Welsh department store owner, this was an aristocratic crowd. That meant the conversation consisted of subjects Tom couldn’t give a rat’s arse about. Fox-hunting. Music. Distinguished ancestors. No one at these gatherings ever discussed business, politics, or anything else Tom might have found interesting.

The ancient Jacobean house had the typical dilapidated-but-luxurious look of an ancestral country manor. Tom didn’t like old things, the smell of mustiness and the accumulated dust of centuries, the worn carpets, the ripples and distortions of antique window glass panes. Nor did the beauty of the surrounding countryside hold any enchantment for him. Most people would have agreed that Hampshire, with its green hills, lush woodland and sparkling chalk streams, was one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth. In general, however, the only thing Tom liked to do with nature was cover it with roads, bridges and railway tracks.

The sounds of distant cheers and laughter funneled into the house’s quiet interior. No doubt the newlyweds were making their escape amid a shower of uncooked rice. Everyone here seemed genuinely happy, which Tom found both annoying and somewhat mystifying. It was as if they all knew some secret that had been kept from him.

After having made a fortune in railways and construction, Tom had never expected to feel the bite of envy again. But here it was, gnawing at him like woodworm in old timber. It made no sense. He was happier than most of these people, or at least richer, which was more or less the same thing. But why didn’t he feel happy? It had been months since he’d felt much of anything at all. He’d been overtaken by a gradual, creeping awareness that all his usual appetites had been blunted. Things that usually gave him pleasure now bored him. Nothing, not even spending a night in the arms of a beautiful woman, had been satisfying. He’d never been like this before. He was at a loss to know what to do about it.

He’d thought it might do him some good to spend some time with Devon and West Ravenel, whom he’d known for at least a decade. The three of them, along with the rest of their disreputable crowd, had often caroused and brawled their way across London. But things had changed. Two years ago, Devon had unexpectedly inherited an earldom and had assumed the role of responsible family patriarch. And West, the formerly carefree drunkard, now managed the estate and tenants, and talked incessantly about the weather. The weather, for God’s sake. The Ravenel brothers, formerly so entertaining, had become as tedious as everyone else.

Entering an empty music room, Tom found a large upholstered chair occupying a shadowy nook. After turning the chair to face away from the door, he sat and closed his eyes. The room was as silent as a sepulcher, except for the delicate ticking of a clock somewhere. An unfamiliar weariness settled over him as gently as mist, and he let out a sigh. People had always joked about his vitality and his fast-paced life, and how no one could keep up with him. Now it seemed he couldn’t keep up with himself.
He needed to do something to jolt himself out of this spell.

Maybe he should marry. At the age of thirty-one, it was high time to take a wife and sire children. There were dozens of eligible young women here, all blue-blooded and well bred. Marrying one of them would help to advance him socially. He considered the Ravenel sisters. The oldest, Helen, had married Rhys Winterborne, and Lady Pandora had married Lord St. Vincent this morning. But there was one sister left . . . Pandora’s twin, Cassandra.

Tom had yet to meet her, but he’d caught a glimpse of her at dinner last night, through multiple bowers of greenery and forests of silver candelabra. From what he’d been able to tell, she was young, blonde and quiet. Which wasn’t necessarily all he wanted in a wife, but it was a good start.

The sound of someone entering the room broke through his thoughts. Damn. Of the dozens of unoccupied rooms on this floor of the house, it would have to be this one. Tom was about to stand and make his presence known, when the sounds of a female sob caused him to shrink deeper into the chair. Oh, no. A crying woman.

“I’m sorry,” the unfamiliar feminine voice quavered. “I don’t know why I’m so emotional.”

For a moment Tom thought she might have been talking to him, but then a man replied.

“I imagine it’s not easy to be separated from a sister who’s always been your closest companion. A twin, no less.” The speaker was West Ravenel, his tone far warmer and more tender than any Tom had ever heard him use before.

“It’s only because I know I’ll miss her. But I’m happy she’s found true love. So very happy—” Her voice broke.

“So I see,” West said dryly. “Here, take this handkerchief and let’s wipe away those tears of joy.”

“Thank you.”

“It would hardly be unnatural,” West commented kindly, “for you to feel a touch of jealousy. It’s no secret that you’ve wanted to find a match, whereas Pandora has always been determined never to marry at all.”

“I’m not jealous, I’m worried.” The woman blew her nose with a soft little snort. “I’ve gone to all the dinners and dances, and I’ve met everyone. Some of the eligible gentlemen have been very pleasant, but even when there’s nothing terribly wrong with one of them, there’s nothing terribly right, either. I’ve given up looking for love, I’m only searching for someone I could come to love over time, and I can’t even find that. There’s something wrong with me. I’m going to end up an old maid.”

“There’s no such thing as an old maid.”

“Wh-what would you call a middle-aged lady who’s never married?”

“A woman with standards?” West suggested.

“You might call it that, but everyone else says ‘old maid.’” A glum pause. “Also, I’m too plump. All my dresses are tight.”

“You look the same as always.”

“My dress had to be altered last night. It wouldn’t button up the back.”

Twisting stealthily in the chair, Tom peeked around the edge. His breath caught as he stared at her in wonder.

For the first time in his life, Tom Severin was smitten. Smitten and slain.

She was beautiful the way fire and sunlight were beautiful, warm and glowing and golden. The sight of her dealt him a famished, hollow feeling. She was everything he’d missed in his disadvantaged youth, every lost hope and opportunity.
“Sweetheart,” West murmured kindly, “listen to me. There’s no need to worry. You’ll either meet someone new, or you’ll reconsider someone you didn’t appreciate at first. Some men are an acquired taste. Like oysters, or gorgonzola cheese.”

She let out a shuddering sigh. “Cousin West, if I haven’t married by the time I’m twenty-five . . . and you’re still a bachelor . . . would you be my oyster?”

West looked at her blankly.

“Let’s agree to marry each other someday,” she continued, “if no one else wants us. I would be a good wife. All I’ve ever dreamed of is having my own little family, and a happy home where everyone feels safe and welcome. You know I never nag or slam doors or sulk in corners. I just need someone to take care of. I want to matter to someone. Before you refuse—”

“Lady Cassandra Ravenel,” West interrupted, “that is the most idiotic idea anyone’s come up with since Napoleon decided to invade Russia.”

Her gaze turned reproachful. “Why?”

“Among a dizzying array of reasons, you’re too young for me.”

“You’re no older than Lord St. Vincent, and he just married my twin.”

“I’m older than him on the inside, by decades. My soul is a raisin. Take my word for it, you don’t want to be my wife.”

“It would be better than being lonely.”

“What rubbish. ‘Alone’ and ‘lonely’ are entirely different things.” West reached out to smooth back a dangling golden curl that had stuck against a drying tear-track on her cheek. “Now, go bathe your face in cool water, and—”

“I’ll be your oyster,” Tom broke in. He stood from the chair and approached the pair, who stared at him in openmouthed astonishment.

Tom was more than a little surprised himself. If there was anything he was good at, it was negotiating business deals, and this was not the way to start off. In just a few words, he’d just managed to put himself in the weakest possible position.

But he wanted her so badly, he couldn’t help himself.

The closer he drew to her, the harder it became to think straight. His heart worked in a fast and broken rhythm he could feel against his ribs.

Cassandra moved close to West as if for protection, and stared at him as if he were a lunatic. Tom could hardly blame her. In fact, he already regretted this entire approach, but it was too late to hold back now.

West was scowling. “Severin, what the devil are you doing in here?”

“I was resting in the chair. After you started talking, I couldn’t find a good moment to interrupt.” Tom couldn’t take his gaze from Cassandra. Her wide, wondering eyes were like soft blue midnight, star-glittered with forgotten tears. The curves of her body looked firm and sweet, no hard angles or straight lines anywhere . . . nothing but inviting, sensual softness. If she were his . . . he might finally have the sense of ease other men had. No more spending every minute of the day striving and hungering and never feeling sated.

“I’ll marry you,” Tom told her. “Any time. Any terms.”

West gently nudged Cassandra toward the door. “Go, darling, while I talk with the insane man.”

She gave her cousin a flustered nod and obeyed.

After she’d crossed the threshold, Tom said urgently, without thinking, “My lady?”

Slowly she reappeared, peeking at him from behind the doorjamb.

Tom wasn’t sure what to say, only that he couldn’t let her leave thinking she was anything less than perfect, exactly as she was.

“You’re not too plump,” he said gruffly. “The more of you there is in the world, the better.”

As far as compliments went, it wasn’t exactly eloquent, or even appropriate. But amusement sparkled in the one blue eye that was visible before Cassandra vanished.

Amazon  B&N  Kobo  iBooks  BAM!  Indigo.ca  Indiebound
Avon:  2/18/2020
ISBN: 978-0062371942

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My Thoughts
Chasing Cassandra is a sweet mid-heat romance. Featuring debutante in late bloom, Cassandra Ravenel.
Still the belle of the "marriage mart" balls. Lady Cassandra is a golden haired vision that any aristo would be lucky to claim as his own.
But Cassandra is a lady determined to only marry for love.
Remaining completely nonplussed by the titles and money that serve as hallmarks of the "marriageable" lords and lordlings of her set.
Being a product of the Ravenel bloodline. A family known to both follow their hearts and speak there minds.
Should in itself, stand as fair warning to all that would dare come to call on this most fair Miss.
Tha t she is not one whose head is easily turned by flattery and a pretty name.

Which is why our Lady Ravenel is taken with the quiet intensity of our enigmatic entuprenuer from the word go.
Not even leading man, Tom Severin's attempts at avoidance. Where enough to avade her. Or the romance that seems to nip at his heels. Whenever the two meet.

But in truth...
Avoiding the fair haired minx. With the quick wit, flashing eyes, and windsome spirit; is the last thing that Tom wants to do.
He can't seem to get her out of his mind.
And each encounter with her. No matter how brief seems to bring him closer to what is fast becoming an undeniable truth.
She has in fact stolen his heart.

This is a book that is made by the "self-made man".
Tom Severin and his mercurial nature are more than enough to keep the pages turning, and readers wondering "well he or won't he."
When it comes to Lady Cassandra.

For her part...
Cassandra is written to play the part of the unfairly disgraced damsel. Left to marry her way out of social ruin. After rightfully jilting her abusive and titled fiancee.
This rather trite plot point is one which would have spelled doom for any other read.
But served as the perfect vehicle for a grand gesture "tailor made" for Tom Severin.
The very many that readers have been cheering on the entire read.

This is a book made for those who love a story that is made by the evolving of the male heart.
A book that is made for those who love to witness the enduring power of an unfolding, undying, and unending love based in true understanding.

About Lisa
After graduating from Wellesley College with a political science degree, Lisa published her first novel at age twenty-one. Her books are published in more than 20 languages and are bestsellers all over the world.
Lisa Kleypas
Lisa writes for Avon and is represented by her agent Mel Berger of the William Morris agency.

Lisa was named Miss Massachusetts in the 1985 Miss America competition. Among the challenges she faced: wearing a banner with such a long state name, when she is only 5'2". Because of the rule that contestants had to tuck the excess length of banner into their swimsuits, she became known as "Miss Massachu."

At the competition in Atlantic City, Lisa's talent was singing an original composition, which won her a "talented nonfinalist" award. And to her delight, she got to keep the big sparkly crown, which sits on her bookshelf and now attracts keen interest from her daughter.

By 1998 Lisa had started a family- getting married and receiving the award of having the most wonderful little boy in the world.

That same year, Lisa's novel "Stranger In My Arms" was given the Waldenbooks Award for greatest sales growth.  The following year, Lisa's "Someone To Watch Over Me" was a Rita finalist at the Romance Writers of America convention.

In 2002 Lisa's novel "Suddenly You" was a Rita finalist and Lisa won the Rita award for her Christmas anthology novella featured in the Dorchester publication "Wish List."  A banner year, Lisa's novel "Lady Sophia's Lover" was awarded Best Sensuous Historical Romance from Romantic Times magazine, and "Lady Sophia's Lover" was given a starred review in Publishers Weekly, as was "When Strangers Marry."

Over the following years, Lisa continued to garner critical and popular success. Lisa's novel "Worth Any Price" was awarded a starred review from Publishers Weekly.   "Worth Any Price" and "Where's My Hero" were listed in the Amazon Editor's Top Ten Picks for Best Romance of 2003!

"Worth Any Price" won the RITA award for best Short Historical and a few months later, "Secrets of a Summer Night" (Nov 2004) received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly!

"It Happened One Autumn" (Oct 05) was a finalist in the Short Historical Category of the 2006 RITA Awards, and in 2007, Lisa had two finalists for RITA Awards: "The Devil in Winter" and "Scandal in Spring" Lisa was a keynote speaker at the Romance Writers of America July conference.  Listen to her speech.

Lisa's first contemporary novel "Sugar Daddy" was a finalist for the RITA Award "Best Novel With Strong Romantic Elements" while "Mine Till Midnight" was a New York Times Bestseller and a finalist in the RITA Awards "Best Historical Romance" category.

Lisa followed up that success with her second contemporary novel, "Smooth Talking Stranger", which hit the New York Times Bestseller List, as did "Tempt Me At Twilight" and "Married By Morning" which was #3 on New York Times Bestseller list.

In 2011, re-releases of two of Lisa's early books made the New York Times Bestseller list, as did her contemporary novel, Rainshadow Road, released in 2012, which was been nominated for the Romantic Times Book Reviews "Best Contemporary Romance" Award.  Dream Lake, the 3rd of the Friday Harbor Series was also a NY Times Bestseller.  It was followed by Crystal Cove in 2013.

In December 2012, Lisa's book, Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor was the basis for the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, Christmas With Holly.

In July 2015, Lisa was honored to emcee the Romance Writers of America Awards Show.

Lisa returned to Historicals in 2016 with a new series The Ravenels, and all the books debuted on the New York Times Bestsellers list and, much to her fans' delight, characters from previous books made cameos.  Each of the five Ravenels books has been a NY Times Bestseller.  The newest (the 6th, due out Feb 18, 2020) has been given a starred review by Publisher's Weekly.

Find Her: Web / GR / Facebook / Instagram

Buy The Book Here!

Pure Textuality PR Presents: Engaged To The Earl

About the Book

Engaged to the Earlby Lisa Berne
The Penhallow Dynasty
Historical Romance
Avon Books
Publication Date
February 25, 2020
Purchase Your Copy Today!
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Add It To Your Bookshelf!
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 A spirited debutante--a brash adventurer--the perfect fiancé--and good intentions gone terribly, deliciously bad. The Penhallow Dynasty continues in this sparkling Regency romp!
Christopher Beck came striding into a glamorous London drawing-room and can’t believe his eyes. The last time he’d seen Gwendolyn Penhallow, she was a dreamy, strong-willed girl with a wild imagination, and now she’s a beautiful and beguiling young lady . . . who’s engaged to Society’s darling the Earl of Westenbury. Christopher had fled England to seek adventure elsewhere. Has he found it here too — the most delightful adventure of his life?
Gwendolyn is sure she’s betrothed to the most wonderful man in the world. But then, shockingly, Christopher Beck shows up. Nobody has heard from him in years — and not only he is very much alive, he’s also sinfully attractive, blithely unconventional, and disturbingly fun to be with. Which wouldn’t be a problem, except for the fact that she’s, well, promised to another. And just what on earth is she going to do about it?

Please enjoy this excerpt of :
Engaged To The Earl

She was breathtakingly lovely, golden-haired, blue- eyed, slim, dressed all in white and moving with what struck him as unselfconscious grace. She was smiling at him with such evident friendliness that he couldn’t help but smile back. 
And then it hit him.
Of course.
It was Gwendolyn Penhallow.
Christopher took another swallow of his champagne and put the glass onto the tray of a passing servant.
The last time he’d seen Gwendolyn, it was back in Whitehaven and he had been little more than a rude, restless, hostile boy— angry and lost. He had left England the very next day and, every once in a while, when his spirits had sunk very low, he’d thought back to that moment, years ago, when she had taken his hand in hers, and with such kind sweetness that he had been rather paralyzed. And here she was, graceful, radiant, coming close, hold-ing out her gloved hands to him, saying warmly:
“Christopher! You’re alive!”

About the Author

LISA BERNE read her first Georgette Heyer novel at fourteen — it was the effervescent Lady of Quality — and was instantly captivated. Later, she was a graduate student, a grant writer, and a teacher — and now writes historical romance for Avon Books, with her stories set mostly in Regency-era Britain. She lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest.
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Tour Wide Giveaway

To celebrate the release of ENGAGED TO THE EARL by Lisa Berne, we're giving away a paperback copy of the book to one lucky winner!

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open internationally. One winner will receive a paperback copy of Engaged to the Earl by Lisa Berne. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Books.  Giveaway ends 4/30/2020 @ 11:59pm EST.  CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

Pure Texuality PR Presents: His Secret Mistress

About the Book

His Secret Mistressby Cathy Maxwell
Logical Man’s Guide to Dangerous Women
Historical Romance
PublisherAvon Books
Publication Date
February 25, 2020
Purchase Your Copy Today!
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |  iBooks
Add It To Your Bookshelf!
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 At the Logical Men’s Society—an exclusive bachelor’s club—brandy flows like water, bawdy stories abound, and a gentleman tempted to marry is always persuaded to reconsider . . .
Brandon Balfour made the mistake of trusting his heart to the exquisite, strong-willed actress, Kate Addison, with whom he shared one intimate night before fate intervened. Now a decade later, Brandon is a leading member of the Logical Men’s Society—for no woman since Kate has managed to captivate him.
To Kate, the memory of that night still burns strongly, because it was followed by a stunning betrayal. A chance encounter may have brought Brandon back into her life, but that doesn’t mean Kate will ever forgive him. She’s vowed to make him pay—even as she realizes the promises of the young love they once shared are still etched upon her heart . . .
Loving her exiled him.
Trusting him ruined her.
And now, a clash of passions threatens everything each of them ever desired.

Please enjoy this excerpt from:
His Secret Mistress 

A Logical Man’s Guide to Dangerous Women Novel© 2020 Cathy Maxwell

Everyone was looking toward the entry-way, and Bran knew the prickling sensation at the back of his neck was a warning.
Slowly, he faced the door. There was Kate Addison . . . but not the Kate Bran had seen this morning. That Kate, in her modest day dress and properly styled hair, could have passed for a Lady of Quality.
This Kate was the conjuring of every erotic image men had for actresses.
Riotous curls framed her face and tumbled down past her shoulders as if she’d just risen from her bed. Her breasts mounded up and over her bodice. Well, Bran hoped there was a bodice.
She was bold. She was beautiful. And there wasn’t a man in the room that wasn’t having fantasies . . . the vicar included.


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My Thoughts

His Secret Mistress is a very sweet second chance romance.  Both Brandon Balflour and Kate Addson have taken great measures to insulate themselves and their hearts from life and love.
Since the sudden sundering of their budding romance.  Some 15 years prior.
Brandon, by safely ensconcing himself within the institutionalized bachelorhood and men's only gatherings of the Logical Men's Society.
For her part...
Kate is an actress.  Bound and determined to get herself and her troope to the hallowed stages of London.  And reclaim the accolades that lies and deceit managed to rob her of so long ago.
Fate and a broken wagon have the two crossing paths.  With his ward, and the soon to be Duke of  Windorton, and his declaration of "undying love" acting is the catalyst that sets a most unexpected chain of events into motion. 

Watching the love-hate-love relationship develop between Brandon and Kate, however fun.  Seems too complex for the small town country seat of  Maidenshop.
Although the conflagration of meddlesome mothers and nosy, judgmental neighbors, and the like. Does make for interesting filler while Kate and Brandon work their way around to their "come to Jesus moment."

This is a beautifully written book otherwise.  Espousing the values of women's empowerment, recovery from toxic and abusive relationships, and reclaimed love. 
Because of this...
The last 25% of this book is its best part.
This is a very sweet start to what promises to be a great series.

Tour Wide Giveaway

To celebrate the release of HIS SECRET MISTRESS by Cathy Maxwell, we're giving away a paperback copy of the book to one lucky winner!

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open internationally. One winner will receive a paperback copy of His Secret Mistress by Cathy Maxwell. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Books.  Giveaway ends 4/30/2020 @ 11:59pm EST.  CLICK HERE TO ENTER!   

About the Author

CATHY MAXWELL spends hours in front of her computer pondering the question, “Why do people fall in love?” It remains for her the great mystery of life and the secret to happiness. Contact Cathy at cathy@cathymaxwell.com or the old-fashioned way at PO Box 484, Buda, TX. 78610.
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Laura Childs Strikes Cozy Gold Once Again With "Lavender Blue Murder"

Title:  Lavender Blue Murder
Series:  (Tea Shop Mystery #21)
Author:  Laura Childs
Length:  336 pages
Format:  eARC
Publisher:  Berkley
Rating:  4Stars

Tea maven Theodosia Browning and her tea sommelier Drayton Conneley are guests at a bird hunt styled in the precise manner of an English shooting party. Which means elevenses (sloe gin fizzes), gun loaders, the drawing of pegs, fine looking bird dogs, and shooting costumes of tweed, herringbone, and suede.

But as gunshots explode like a riff of Black Cat firecrackers, another shot sounds too close for comfort to Theodosia and Drayton. Intrigued but worried, Theodosia wanders into the neighbor's lavender field where she discovers their host, Reginald Doyle, bleeding to death.

His wife, Meredith, is beside herself with grief and begs Theodosia and Drayton to stay the night. But Theodosia awakens at 2:00A.M. to find smoke in her room and the house on fire. As the fire department screams in and the investigating sheriff returns, Meredith again pleads with Theodosia for help.

As Theodosia investigates, fingers are pointed, secrets are uncovered, Reginald's daughter-in-law goes missing presumed drowned, and Meredith is determined to find answers via a séance. All the while Theodosia worries if she's made a mistake in inviting a prime suspect to her upscale Lavender Lady Tea.

My Thoughts
Laura Child's 21st offering in her Tea Shop Mystery series, finds Theodosia and Drayton on an English-styled bird hunt. That ends in murder.

Pharmaceutical CEO, Reginald Doyle presents himself as nothing less than the aging lord of the manner. When he opens his plantation home to friends and family on the beautiful autumn day of his hunt. Little did she or anyone know that he was the intended prey.

Of course as fate and Ms. Child's formulaic writing style would have it. Theodosia and Drayton are first on the scene. Doing all they can to rescue a fatally wounded Reginald.
Only to have him succumb to said wounds. Leaving them to begin the search for his killer.
Making matters worse for the characters, and a bit more interesting for readers. Is the subsequent fire which damages the main house and nearly costs Reginald's son Alex his life. Before his father's body is even cold.

At which point...
Readers, Theodosia, Drayton, and crew are off.
Compiling suspects, alibis, and motives.
Some of which include:
-Business deals
-A strip of land separating his plantation from the lavender far next door.
And more.

And once again...
Here come the layers.
When the sudden disappearance of Reginald's daughter-in-law, Fawn.

And back to the formula we go.
The wonderful descriptions of the people and places of Charleston, S.C.
The Lavender-themed event hosted at Theodosia's Indigo Tea Shop.
The admonishment from Tidwell and Riley. Aka the police. To stay out of the literal and figurative lines of fire.
The Theodosia saves the day at her own reckless peril "ending".
All in all...
This book is simply "more of the same". As far as the series is concerned. As was mentioned above. There were more than a few layers that proved unnecessary in the grand scheme of things.

**Thanks to Netgalley and Berkley for providing the review copy of the above referenced literary work.

About Laura
Laura 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

Buy The Book Here!

"Highland Jewel" May Need A little More Polish To Shine As Brightly As It Should

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Title:  Highland Jewel
Series:  Royal Highlander #2
Author:  May McGoldrick
Format:  eARC
Length:  329 pages
Publisher:  St. Martin's Paperbacks
Rating: 3 Stars

Maisie Murray is the picture of docility, quiet and compliant in the eyes of her family. To her activist friends, however, she's a fearless crusader for women's rights. In the wake of the Peterloo Massacre, Maisie and a friend found the Edinburgh Female Reform Society, and she carries the banner for universal suffrage.

Niall Campbell, a hero of the wars, a decorated officer of the Royal Highland Regiment, is battle weary and searching for stability in his life. A fierce warrior by training and a poet at heart, Niall walks away from the shining career that lies ahead of him, to the dismay of his superiors. In saving his sister when a protest turns violent, he meets Maisie. Their relationship begins as one of experience versus idealism, of scars versus hope. Soon, however, he finds in Maisie the heart he longs for.

When Niall's sister is arrested and disappears, he quickly realizes his life is not his own, for the British authorities have a mission for him to accomplish in exchange for his sister's freedom. Overnight, Maisie loses Niall, her friend, and her home. And the wake of the riots that sweep through the cities of Scotland, Maisie's own sister Isabella is branded a traitor to the crown, and the family must flee to the Highlands. Here in the heart of the Highlands, Maisie runs into Niall again. He has a new name and carries a message of hope―but Niall has a task to complete―and their future rests on their ability to overcome the forces that divide them, or―for the future of Scotland―she must stop the man who owns her heart.


Dalmigavie Castle, the Highlands
August 1820
Far above jagged crags and worn peaks, a hawk soared free, floating on the breeze beneath the pale azure sky. Below, a glistening stream snaked through steep-sided glens, protected by thick stands of tall pine. Above the flowing waters, an impregnable stone fortress sat high on a rocky brae.
Dalmigavie Castle. Built by a warrior clan, its thick grey walls and high towers had struck fear into the hearts of the fiercest enemies for half a millennium. To the south and east, the majestic mountains of the Scottish Highlands rose like an unbroken line of ancient warriors, standing eternal guard. Beyond the forests to the west, endless hills and valleys, impassable rivers, and the great loch that cut the Highlands in two, keeping the enemy at bay. And to the north, a single path led from the sea, half a day distant. Ever since human feet trod this stony soil, it had been a track that no enemy would dare attempt, for no army had blood enough to spill on the rugged hillsides of the Highlands.
Dalmigavie Castle, the perfect place to keep the dream of Scotland alive. A fortress to protect Cinaed Mackintosh, the man called the “son of Scotland.”
Maisie Murray leaned over the edge of the stone parapet of the ancient tower, stared to the south and the range of mountains in the distance, and thought of her life as it was now, and the man she’d left behind in Edinburgh. Lieutenant Niall Campbell.
Sadness, like a fist, squeezed her heart. More than four months had passed since she’d last seen him. Maisie would never forget their last day together in his rooms at Milne’s Court. She loved him and believed he loved her too, regardless of what he’d said after. His departing words put a painful end to all of their dreams.
I’ll not be coming back. You are free of the promises we made. You must forget me.
Never. To forget him was to forsake hope, to surrender all belief in tomorrow, to accept that she was to be deprived of love for the rest of her life. He was the first man she’d offered her heart to, and he’d be the last.
Maisie wondered where he was now. She shook with fear, thinking that he hadn’t survived the things he was being forced to do. Not knowing what his mission was or where he had to go was crushing. Tears threatened to fall, and she took a deep breath, filling her lungs with the scent of pine and heather. She wouldn’t give up. No mourning, Maisie told herself. He was only lost. He’d be found again. She was certain of it. She forced herself to believe it.
Her gaze was drawn to a hawk, wheeling in the blue sky far above her.
The sounds of children playing in the courtyard below mingled with the hammering of the smith at his forge and pulled Maisie’s attention back to the life around her. This was her new world. She could now only dream of Niall and her old existence. She’d found her voice on the streets of Edinburgh. She’d marched and protested and spoken out against the unjust treatment of the Scottish people. Against the hated Corn Laws, Parliament’s oppressive response to famine and chronic unemployment. The horrid economic conditions and the lack of universal suffrage in Scotland needed to be fought. The people had risen, and she’d been there on the front lines, speaking at gatherings and spreading the word with her pen.
Here in the Highlands, she was still finding her way, but she was using the sharp, concise power of the written word to fight for her cause. She was writing articles and letters that were finding publishers in Edinburgh and Inverness. She would not let go of her convictions in this new world, no matter how far off her old life seemed.
The sound of footsteps running up the stone steps behind her drew Maisie to the top of the stairwell. It was Morrigan. The two of them had arrived at Dalmigavie together. Sisters, not by blood, but by choice and by family relations.
“They’re here.” Morrigan’s long, dark hair glinted in the sunlight.
“Who’s here?”
Breathless, she pushed by Maisie and moved to the parapet. “The men coming from the Borders. The ones who everyone has been waiting for.”
Maisie stood beside Morrigan as she leaned out, scanning the courtyard. For days, the air had been crackling with a mixture of threat and expectation. British forces were after the son of Scotland. The threat of an attack on the castle or the possibility of an assassination attempt on Cinaed’s life had kept everyone on edge. At the same time, a delegation was coming from the Borders. Maisie had no idea what the arrival of those people meant, or what they were to bring with them. But the Mackintosh clan folk were talking about the messengers as if they were messiahs.
“Look.” Morrigan pointed.
Maisie leaned over the edge and saw the group approaching the entry to the Great Hall.
Beneath her, Cinaed stepped out into the courtyard, and Blair Mackintosh crossed the open space to take his usual protective place beside him. Searc Mackintosh, a cousin to the laird, led the three visitors, and the clan chief was speaking with one of them, a burly, well-dressed gentleman.
Maisie’s gaze was instantly drawn to one of the other newcomers. The wide brim of his hat shadowed his face, but there was something about the confident steps, the motion of his hand as he talked. The broad shoulders. His impressive height. Awareness flashed through her, and Maisie’s heart skipped a beat.
It couldn’t be. She walked along the edge of the tower, following the men’s steps below. Morrigan’s voice was silenced by the loud drumming of Maisie’s heart. She stared, afraid to blink. Afraid he would disappear. It couldn’t be.
The men stopped before entering the keep. The visitor pulled off his hat, and Maisie forgot to breathe.
“What’s wrong?” Morrigan clutched her arm. “You look as if you’ve seen a ghost.”
She opened her mouth to speak, but no words emerged.
Niall was here.
Recognition triggered a rush of emotion. He was no ghost. He’d come. She laughed and threw her arms around Morrigan and whirled her around wildly.
“What are you doing?”
There was no time to explain. She had to get to him. Spinning on her heel, Maisie raced across the top of the tower, leaving Morrigan calling after her. In an instant, she was running down the dark stone stairwell, made even darker by the bright sunlight she’d left behind.
Niall was here. That meant his sister Fiona must be free. He’d come for her. Their promises to each other were still alive. He loved her.
At the foot of the steps, Maisie ran along the corridors to the Great Hall, searching for them. Her doubts and fears were gone. She was again the same woman who’d run through the streets of Edinburgh that winter day, a lifetime ago, wearing no boots or coat, holding her heart in her hand, offering herself to him body and soul.
They weren’t in the Great Hall.
“The visitors? Where are they?” she asked a Mackintosh fighter she’d seen shadowing the group.
“The laird’s study, miss.”
She hurried to the closed door. Voices drifted through. Niall’s deep voice was as familiar as the wind through the leaves, as the rolling thunder of an approaching summer storm. The last of her doubts disappeared. Nearly unfathomable joy bathed her with its warmth. She raised her fist, ready to knock.
“Maisie. What’s wrong?”
She jumped at the sound of her sister’s voice. Isabella stood a few steps away, silhouetted by the light coming from the courtyard. Maisie blinked, realizing she’d been standing in a cloak of fog. The air thinned. The mist lifted and a chill prickled down her back. A dark reality reemerged, choking her. Her sister, the physician. The woman who’d sacrificed so much on all of their behalves. Her family. Maisie’s eyes burned. Her throat closed. Isabella, who finally for the first time was living as she chose to live, and not acting because of what she saw as her duty. Isabella, who was newly married to a man whom she deeply loved and was worthy of her.

Copyright © 2019 by May McGoldrick.

My Thoughts
Maisie Murray is the picture of docility, quiet and compliant in the eyes of her family. To her activist friends, however, she's a fearless crusader for women's rights. In the wake of the Peterloo Massacre, Maisie and a friend found the Edinburgh Female Reform Society, and she carries the banner for universal suffrage.

Niall Campbell, a hero of the wars, a decorated officer of the Royal Highland Regiment, is battle weary and searching for stability in his life. A fierce warrior by training and a poet at heart.  Niall walks away from the shining career that lies ahead of him, to the dismay of his superiors. In saving his sister when a protest turns violent, he meets Maisie. Their relationship begins as one of experience versus idealism, of scars versus hope. Soon, however, he finds in Maisie the heart he longs for.

When Niall's sister is arrested and disappears, he quickly realizes his life is not his own, for the British authorities have a mission for him to accomplish in exchange for his sister's freedom. Overnight, Maisie loses Niall, her friend, and her home. And the wake of the riots that sweep through the cities of Scotland, Maisie's own sister Isabella is branded a traitor to the crown, and the family must flee to the Highlands. Here in the heart of the Highlands, Maisie runs into Niall again. He has a new name and carries a message of hope―but Niall has a task to complete―and their future rests on their ability to overcome the forces that divide them, or―for the future of Scotland―she must stop the man who owns her heart.

This second installment of the Royal Highlander series offers readers for more political intrigue than romance.
While the action and cloak-and dagger happenings that surround Maisie and Niall are indeed first rate.  Their relationship often seems to be left to its own very lackluster devices.
There is also a very obvious disconnect between Isabelle's story as told in book 1, and Maisie's.  Though the effort is made to tie the two together by the end of the second.
All other relationships, save that of Maisie and Niall are well done.  And serve to fill in the emotional gaps and storyline holes left by that rather unfinished plot point.

About May
Authors Nikoo and Jim McGoldrick (writing as May McGoldrick) weave emotionally satisfying
tales of love and danger. Under the names of May McGoldrick and Jan Coffey, these authors
have written more than thirty novels and works of nonfiction. Nikoo, an engineer, also
conducts frequent workshops on writing and publishing and serves as a Resident Author.
Jim holds a Ph.D. in Medieval and Renaissance literature and teaches English in
northwestern Connecticut. They are the authors of Much ado about Highlanders, Taming the
Highlander, and Tempest in the Highlands.

Author Twitter: @MayMcGoldrick
SMP Romance Twitter: @SMPRomance or @heroesnhearts
SMP Romance Website: https://heroesandheartbreakers.com/

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