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Archive for the ‘Guest author’ Category

Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Theme garden

by

Emma Lane

Theme gardens can be fun for adventurous gardeners who want to shake things up.

Photo by Emma Gossett on Unsplash

Colorful annuals. Their raison d’etra, reason for living, is to bloom and make seeds. To keep them full of their bright and beautiful blossoms frequent culling of the old blooms is the secret. Paying attention to color combinations will enhance bedding petunias such as blue and yellow; red, white and blue; primary colors-red, yellow and blue; all pastels.

 

Perennials are friends forever. The trick here is to plant staggered bloomers. Daffodils and tulips for spring give way to lupine and peonies in April and May. June is for roses (and brides) and July owns lilies. Hibiscus and other members of the family (Rose of Sharon) for late summer, and we all appreciate summer’s wind up with splashes of intensely colored mums and sunflowers. There are many beautiful perennials to be planted in between. Careful attention to foliage varieties is also important for a successful perennial bed: spiky Crocosmia, spreading Dianthus, and pretty round-leafed Baptismia australis which has an herbal gray cast to its foliage.

Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash

Butterfly and humming bird gardens are always fun. Certainly the tiny hummers appreciate blooms where they can dip in and steal a drop of nectar, but I’ve seen them take a tiny taste of flat but colorful yarrow. My son gifts me a huge fuchsia for Mother’s Day which is the very day I usually spot the first humming bird. They love this plant! Hummers prefer trumpet shaped blooms they can dip their long bills to drink the nectar, but I have observed them sipping from a daisy.

 

Shade gardens are wonderful underneath shaded walkways. Besides the enormous varieties of hosta, spring bulbs can be followed with blue bells and other shade loving perennials. Brunneria is a precious substitute for hosta. Deer treat it with disdain. Begonias have a large variety for annual shade; my favorite is non-stop begonia in their vivid colors. Spring blooming shrubs are glorious such as rhododendrons, azaleas, dogwood and many others that liven up the woods before the trees leaf out.

Cutting gardens are wonderful for those who appreciate fresh cut bouquets for inside. Reserve a bed especially for: gladiola, tall zinnias, phlox, sunflowers, snapdragons, lisianthus, lilies, just a few of the varieties that are splendid cut flowers.

 

… which leads me to call attention to my latest Cozy Adventure/ Mystery, Whispers of Danger and Love.

The heroine is a landscape architect who speaks gardening. She struggles with a client who demands a cutting garden mid summer, (and a hunky detective who seems bound to destroy her plants.) I enjoyed relaxing in her garden even as I created it from my own imaginings. It was also fun to watch the sparks fly between a couple who knew each other as children but must readjust their thinking as adults.

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes cozy mysteries as Janis Lane, Regency as Emma Lane, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma’s new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

That purveyor of recipes, Sloane Taylor, who brings us her latest tasty treats especially for Cinco de Mayo.

Many people believe Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day. Nope, that is actually September 16. May 5 celebrates the Battle of Puebla which was Mexico’s victory over France in 1862. Another interesting fact – Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo more than the people in Mexico.

I met a wonderful lady in the Hispanic aisle when I was shopping for these ingredients. Lydia literally took me by the hand and taught me a great deal in just a few minutes especially about tortillas and refried beans which I’m sharing with you. I am thankful for Lydia and the time she spent with me.

MENU

Guacamole & Tortilla Chips

Beef Tacos

Flour Tortillas

Rice with Tomatoes and Onion

Refried Beans

Mexican Beer – Corona, Dos Equis, Modelo, Tecate

 

Guacamole

This dish can be made hours in advance of your dinner and stored in the fridge.

2 lg. ripe avocados

1 tbsp. (15ml) onion, chopped fine

5 drops Tabasco sauce

1 med. tomato, peeled and chopped

⅛ tsp. (.60ml) cumin

⅛ tsp. (.60ml) garlic powder

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Cut avocados in half. Lift out pits and save. Scoop out avocado from shell and place into a glass bowl. Mash with a fork. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Taste for seasoning and adjust to suit you.

Place guacamole into a serving dish. Bury at least one pit into the dip. This helps keep the avocado from turning black. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Photo by The BlackRabbit on Unsplash

Beef Tacos

1 lb. (500g) 90% lean ground beef

½ med. onion, chopped

1 cup (250ml) canned tomato sauce

2 tsp. (10ml) chili powder

½ tsp. (2.5ml) garlic powder

½ tsp. (2.5ml) dried oregano

½ tsp. (2.5ml) paprika

½ tsp. (2.5ml) ground cumin

½ tsp. (2.5ml) cayenne

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 220° F (100°C).

Brown beef in a large skillet set over medium heat. Be sure to stir and break up clumps. Stir in onion and cook 3 – 4 minutes.

Pour tomato sauce over meat mixture. Sprinkle on spices. Stir well. Cook 5 – 8 minutes longer, stirring often.

Pour into an ovenproof dish. Set in oven until ready to serve.

Flour Tortillas

1 package store bought flour tortillas

When you return home open the package, separate tortillas and lay directly onto your kitchen counter for 10 – 15 minutes. Restack tortillas, wrap lightly in a paper towel. Replace them in their original package, seal, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat a flat skillet over medium heat. Lay in a tortilla and warm for a minute or so. Turn. Fold tortilla in half. You now have a perfect taco shell.

Lay shells on a plate and serve.

Rice with Tomatoes and Onion

¼ cup (60ml) olive oil

1 med. onion, sliced thin

2 cups (200g) rice, not instant

2 cups (450ml) chicken stock, not broth

2 cups (450ml) water

14½ oz. (411g) can diced tomatoes

Heat oil in a large saucepan set over moderate heat. Swirl oil to coat pan bottom. Add onion. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until onion is transparent but not brown.

Pour in rice. Stir well for 2 – 3 minutes to coat all the grains. Do not let the rice brown or the dish will be bitter.

Stir in stock, water, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Cover pan and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until rice absorbs all the liquid.

If need be, keep rice warm in a low oven until you’re ready to serve.

Refried Beans

1 can refried beans*

2 strips bacon

Scoop beans into a microwaveable bowl.

Fry bacon until crisp. You want to render as much fat out as possible. Eat the bacon (no joke) and then stir the rendered fat into the beans.

Depending on how powerful your microwave is, heat for 1 – 2 minutes before serving.

* Buying canned beans is much easier than using dried pinto beans for this dish and probably better tasting. Be sure the can reads Authentic Refried Beans. La Preferida is the brand Lydia recommended. She was right. It was delicious as it has bits of bean in it instead of just being a heavy paste.

May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with good friends, laughter, and seated around a well-laden table!

Sloane

Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning romance author with a passion that consumes her day and night. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.

Learn more about Taylor’s cookbooks, Date Night Dinners, Date Night Dinners Sizzling Summer, and Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire on Amazon.
Excerpts from her romance books and free reads can be found on her website, blog, and her Amazon Author Page. Connect with Taylor on Facebook and Twitter.

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Friday Features’

Guest shares a recipe for

Pork Fried Rice

by

Sloane Taylor

This dish becomes a complete meal when you add egg rolls, pot stickers, and a glass or two of sake. The following recipe serves two.

Courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography

PORK FRIED RICE
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
½ cup frozen peas, thawed
⅔ cup cooked pork, chopped fine
3 cups 1- 3 day old cooked rice
Pinch dried ginger
2 tbsp. butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. soy sauce
4 green onions, sliced fine, include 1-inch of green

Warm a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add oil and swirl to coat the pan evenly. Stir in peas, pork, and rice. Sprinkle on ginger. Heat through for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat while you prepare the egg.

Add butter to a small frying pan set over medium heat. Pour in egg and swirl to spread it around until almost done, about one minute. Flip with a spatula. Remove from the heat. Break into small pieces and then stir into rice mixture.

Carefully mix in soy sauce and green onion. Heat through for about 3 minutes.

Replace pork with chicken or shrimp for another tasty meal. Just be sure to use cooked alternatives.

May you spend all the days of your life filled with friends, laughter, and seated around a well laden table!

Sloane

Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning author with a second passion in her life. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.

Taylor’s cookbooks, Date Night Dinners, Romantic Meals to Dine al Fresco, and Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire are released by Toque & Dagger Publishing and available at all book vendors.

Excerpts from her books and free reads can be found on her website, blog, and her Amazon Author Page. Connect with Taylor on Facebook and Twitter.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The reporter and authorAnne Montgomery who shares some history and a little about her book that stems from the history.

 

The children of Colorado City, Arizona and the neighboring town of Hildale, Utah will long suffer the degradations of the “prophet” Warren Jeffs.

“We were told the world wanted to kill us, that people wanted to destroy us and our moral values,” Raymond Jeffs told San Angelo Standard-Times reporter Krista Johnson.

Ray Jeffs is one of the sons of Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned pedophile “prophet” of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

“I genuinely believed I would be destroyed because my dad told me that constantly,” Roy Jeffs, Ray’s brother said.

Roy continued to believe in his father until three of his sisters confessed that the man had abused them. After hearing his siblings stories, Roy realized that he, too, had been sexually assaulted by his father.

Johnson’s comprehensive reporting on the FLDS cult provides in vivid and horrifying detail the control the elder Jeffs concerted over his people, damage that will take many years to rectify. You can read the complete article here.

Here is a brief intro to my novel dealing with abuse and it’s aftermath. I hope you’ll take a moment to peek into it.

Two Arizona teens find their fates intertwined. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?

Rose Madsen will do anything to keep from being married off to one of the men in her Fundamentalist Mormon (FLDS) community, even endure the continued beatings and abuse of her mother. But when her mentally handicapped baby sister is forced to strangle the bird she loves at the behest of the Prophet, Rose frees the bird and runs away.

Adan Reyes will do anything to escape the abusive foster care system in Phoenix, even leaving his good friends and successful high school athletic career behind him. Ill-prepared for surviving the desert, Adan hits the road only to suffer heat stroke. Found by a local handyman, he catches a glimpse of a mysterious girl—Rose—running through town, and follows her into the mountains where they are both tracked and discovered by the men of the FLDS community.

With their fates now intertwined, can Rose and Adan escape the systems locking them into lives of abuse? Will Rose be forced to marry the Prophet, a man her father’s age, and be one of dozens of wives, perpetually pregnant, with no hope for an education? Will Adan be returned to the foster home where bullying and cruelty are common? Is everyone they meet determined to keep them right where they belong or are some adults worthy of their trust?

BUY LINKS

 

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Pet Love

by

Alicia Joseph

Last July my dog, Phil, suffered from liver failure. The situation was touch and go for a horrible two weeks. But, against the vet’s grave prognosis, my baby survived. He’s twelve, and though I know he won’t live forever, I was completely unprepared for losing my dog. My baby. My sidekick. The face that makes me smile even when I want to cry. The eyes that watch my every move, because his world revolves around me as much as my world revolves around him, maybe even more so.

During that miserable time of not knowing whether or not Phil would turn that miraculous corner to recovery, I was consumed with the idea of losing him. I didn’t eat. I cried when I held him and buried my tears in his fur. He seemed to know his precarious situation, but never gave up. I love him so much for that.

But all through that time and after, I only considered my loss of losing him. What I would have done. What my life would be like, while never considering his loss should something happen to me. I know he waits for me when I leave the house, as all dogs do, but how would they feel, how would they react, if we never make it back home to them?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since last month, when a neighbor passed away suddenly. She had a dog, Ricky. We used to walk our dogs together, along with another neighbor and her little dog. The woman’s parents could not take Ricky, he didn’t get along with their own dog. This woman had no brothers or sisters. They didn’t know a lot of people who could, or would, take Ricky in. He went with a family friend, but that didn’t work out.

I volunteer at a shelter. I’ve seen many dogs come to the shelter in the way of Ricky’s predicament. Through no fault of their own, they lose their owners to death, and there is no one to take them in. So these dogs, used to living in a home filled with stability, love, security, now come to a shelter filled with loud chaos and uncertainty. Even the best shelters are a scary place to a dog who has only known a house as a home.

Luckily, Ricky didn’t have to meet that fate. My neighbor with the small dog took him in. She had the intention of keeping him, but two dogs were a bit too much for her. But she was determined to keep him until she could find a home for him, which wasn’t hard at all because Ricky is adorable.

Last week, Ricky went to his third home in less than a month. This was a friend of a friend, so my neighbor passed Ricky off confident he would be well-taken care of. I often wondered for those weeks that my neighbor had him what he was thinking. Did he think his mommy would come for him soon? Was he waiting for her? Did he miss his home and wonder why he was moving to different places? We avoided walking Ricky down the street he used to live. We didn’t want to confuse him.

But then on the day he was leaving, I took Ricky for a walk and thought maybe it was the right time for him to say goodbye to his old home. We walked down his street. He definitely knew where he was. He led me straight to the familiar place, sat down in the driveway, and stared at the house. He didn’t try to pull me to the door, which I was glad for.

Ricky’s mom’s name was Tracy. She didn’t die at home, but if spirits find their way back home no matter where we pass, maybe she was there to see him one last time.

I hope so.

 

I thought about Phil, remembering what I went through when I thought I was losing him, but we need to consider what our fur-babies go through when they lose us. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about Phil going to a shelter or being shuffled to three different houses. He has an uncle and aunties who love him, and who he loves, especially his uncle.

Uncle is his favorite.

 
Here is a glimpse into one of my books. I hope you enjoy it.

“When a train runs over a penny, the penny changes form, but it can still be a penny if I want it to be. Or, I can make it be something else.”

Lyssa and her best friend Abbey discover a hideout near the train tracks and spend the summer before sixth grade hanging out and finding freedom from issues at home. Their childhood innocence shatters when the hideout becomes the scene of a tragic death.

As they’re about to graduate from high school, Abbey’s family life spirals out of control while Lyssa is feeling guilty for deceiving Abbey about her sexuality.

After another tragic loss, Lyssa finds out that a penny on the track is sometimes a huge price to pay for the truth.

AMAZON BUY LINKS

 

Alicia Joseph grew up in Westchester, Illinois. She has many works-in-progress that she hopes to finish soon. Life permitting.

When she is not writing, Alicia enjoys volunteering with animals, rooting for her favorite sports teams, and playing “awesome aunt” to her nine nieces and nephews.

Learn more about Alicia Joseph on her blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Susan Varno who brings us her latest captivating book and a quick and easy desert.

Frozen Yogurt Recipe
This makes up to 36 popsicles

This makes frozen fruit yogurt soft enough to bite in to. It’s not quite ice cream texture, but it’s close enough. This is not low calorie, but the healthy ingredients are lower in carbs and sugar.

A pint whipping cream
2 cups Greek yogurt (whole milk if you can find it)
About a cup of fruit (best choices are banana, pineapple, blueberry and strawberry). Don’t use fruits that are mostly liquid like melons or grapes.
Flavorings (not all of these, and any other flavors you want such as:

    unsweetened coconut
    cinnamon
    stevia
    turbanado
    unsweetened cocoa
    lemon zest (no sugar)
    nutmeg

large bowl
hand mixer with whisk
blender
popsicle forms
small spatula
soup spoon
Large measuring cup

    Cut up the fruit and dump into the blender. Move up through speeds to liquefy.
    Pour the whipping cream into the large bowl. With the hand mixer whisk, gradually move up to highest speed. Keep mixing until the foam isn’t getting any higher.
    Dump in the yogurt. Add flavorings. Whip this together thoroughly.
    Dump in the fruit. Keep whipping until all is blended and fluffy.
    If you’ve used whole milk yogurt, the mixture will be so thick, it doesn’t pour. Spoon the mixture into each form. When you get each form full, use the other end of the spoon to push the mixture into the open spaces and then fill from the top.
    Freeze for at least two hours.

A REBEL AND HER ROGUE (A Regency Romance Novel from Soul Mate Publishing)

Excerpt
Sherwood Forest, 1815

Through the trees, Blake heard the wild rumbling of carriage wheels. Wood splintering. A horse shrieking. A man shouting.

Giving Valor his head, Blake raced through an opening in the trees. He burst onto the road and pulled sharply to a halt. Half in the ditch, a small carriage canted against a tree. The vehicle teetered. One wheel turned slowly in the air. While the coachman struggled to release the harness, the wild-eyed horse pawed the ground ready to bolt.

Blake leapt down from his horse Valor. The carriage door flew open. A head of lush black hair appeared followed by the most enchanting face he ever beheld. Dark brows, dark lashes. As he surveyed her freckled nose and cheeks, his gaze came upon the damsel’s plump red lips. They arched in a vicious frown.

He slid his hand around her waist and lifted her into his arms. She was lithe but endowed with graceful curves. She laced her arm around his shoulder. Her body pressed against his made sweat prickle in his most intimate places.

“Cassiopeia Valient?” he asked.

“Mister Durgan,” she snapped. “Is this any way to conduct a kidnapping?”

Durgan? The name pulled him up smartly. Did his potential bride-to-be mistake him for Dangerous Dan Durgan, the Gentleman Bandit? Beneath his leather jacket, Blake’s shirt collar stood open. His breeches were tucked into rough boots, and he wore his light blond hair tied back with a buckskin thong. Those details might explain her confusion.

What confusion? She expected him to kidnap her! Ransom must be her motive.

Amazon buy link

Susan Varno Bio:

Like many readers and writers, I watch stories inside my head. When I read a Regency romance, I imagine myself dancing at a London ball or racing through Sherwood Forest. When I write, I imagine an intriguing scene, always one with action and attraction. I watch how my hero and heroine act. That’s how I discover who they are and what they care about. I love researching their time and place in history almost as much as I love inviting these “strangers” inside my head.

For twenty-five years, I wrote columns and reviews for Video Views Magazine. I’ve seen almost every new movie release, especially the romances and anything with an historical setting. Though I was born and raised in Chicago and its suburbs, I married a country boy from rural Ohio. Richard insisted we retire to the hinterlands of the Arkansas Ozarks. Our post office was so remote you couldn’t find it on most maps. While we lived there, I interviewed more than a hundred people for articles in magazines and newspapers.

My husband died three years ago. I miss my hero every day. We have two grown sons and one grandson. I now live in a Chicago suburb. I volunteer in the local schools and help at my church. I’ve visited the western Caribbean and the western Mediterranean. Someday, England here I come.

Find Susan at:

WebsiteFacebook

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

her character Jude Mooney

by

Viola Russell

I sometimes begin talking about my novel From Ice Wagon to Club House: The Life of Jude Mooney by saying that my dad was Jude Mooney, the main character. Well, that statement isn’t totally accurate, but it’s close. I definitely embellished Jude’s story, but he and my father share many similar stories and traits. My father, Samuel Weaver, was a maverick, a handsome rogue. He died when I was twelve, but I can still see him. At the time of his death, he was a horse trainer. I can still see him with the thoroughbreds, putting them through their paces. Sam, however, had worn many hats during his lifetime.

Like Jude Mooney, my father grew up poor in New Orleans. Like Jude, his first job was driving a horse-drawn ice wagon for Pelican Ice. Like Jude, Sam, along with his best friend, bootlegged during Prohibition. Like Jude, his family was poor but respectable. His mother had crossed herself and said, “Your father would roll over in his grave if he knew you were doing something illegal.” My father, young and newly widowed, replied, “My father would roll over in his grave if he knew we were starving.” Only a few months earlier, his young wife had succumbed to tuberculosis. Sam always attributed her death to the deprivation of the Depression. I recounted this scene in Jude Mooney when Jude responds to his mother’s anxiety over his bootlegging. Like my grandmother Leah, Jude’s mother Nora simply crossed herself and accepted the food the bootlegging bought.

Sam eventually ventured into other moneymaking endeavors when Prohibition ended. He trained prize fighters and promoted boxing matches with his friend Emile. They eventually opened a restaurant together—as do Jude and his friend Pete. My father also ventured into the world of illegal gambling when he opened his own book in the basement of his house. This was a profession he would abandon when I was born. He told my mother, his fourth wife, “I have a little girl now. I can’t disgrace her by going to jail.”

I continued the Mooney saga with The Progeny. The story follows Jude and his sons—as well as his niece and nephews—during the trauma of WWII. As Jude did in Ice Wagon, Jude’s sons would fight for Ireland and then fight against Germany. The characters in the sequel are not actively based on any of my family members, but they share many qualities with us. They are my family and I in our weak moments and our most heroic. In The Progeny, a new generation faces tyranny and despotism. Like Jude, they also rise to the occasion and face seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Blurb for Ice Wagon:

At fifteen years old, Jude Mooney is driving an ice wagon to help his struggling Irish immigrant family. An obedient son and devoted brother, he willingly works in the sweltering New Orleans heat along with his friend, Pete Saluto, to help his pious and respectable parents. When his older brother’s suicide leaves the family nearly destitute and shame-ridden, Jude seeks employment in the infamous Storyville of old New Orleans, becoming the confidante of the many characters who populated Emma Johnson’s establishment.

When his parents learn of his activities, Jude leaves the family nest, becoming even more embroiled in the seedy lifestyle until a disastrous encounter forces him to leave town and join his relatives in Ireland. It is in his ancestral birthplace that he meets the fiery Maeve and joins the fight for Irish independence and then, paradoxically, the British army when his love turns sour. Upon his return from the front, he seeks Maeve, who has had his twin sons.

Together, they return to New Orleans. A series of losses then force Jude into an uneasy alliance with the powerful mob family, the Matrangas. He rises in the ranks of the Matranga “family,” becoming a valuable cog in the wheel of their bootlegging and horse-racing empire. However, any links to the mob brings risks. How much more will Jude lose as the Feds pursue the men who supply the country with the illicit nectar?

Excerpt from Ice Wagon:

It was at that moment the pub door swung open, and Jude saw Maeve. She wore the typical high-necked blouse and long skirt of the time, but the black skirt swung around delicate ankles in a way that sent Jude’s pulse racing. She curiously looked at the people hovering around the bar, and her eyes met his, frankly appraising him. They were the loveliest eyes he’d ever seen — blue with flecks of gray. Her black hair was in a knot at the top of her head, and her skin was as creamy as her mother’s but held no trace of freckles.

“My sister, Maeve.” Sean moved toward her. They embraced and Sean took her hand, drawing her toward Jude. He then turned to his sister. “Jude and I met on board.”

“I figured as much.” The slightest smile crossed her lips, and her gaze took him in from head to toe. The bewitching eyes danced.

Jude wondered if she was mocking him somehow and was acutely aware of how he must look. When he’d left New Orleans, he’d had only the clothes on his back, and he’d worn the cast off clothing of the other sailors. Now he stood before her in a woolen fisherman’s cap, tattered plaid jacket, and dungarees that had a long tear in one knee. He drew in a breath and swallowed. “Pleased to meet you.” She was so lovely his breath caught in his throat. Could he breathe around her?

Maeve smiled as if sensing his discomfort. “I heard some of the conversation. So you’ll be the new bartender these weekday afternoons?”

Jude felt the heat rise to his face. “It seems your uncle and ma have offered me a job.”

“Remember your manners, girl.” Kathleen gave her daughter a pointed glance.

Maeve offered him her hand. It was a hand like her mother’s, like his own mother’s, in fact. She withdrew it quickly, hiding both arms behind her. A slight blush rose to her cheeks. “Any friend of Sean’s is welcome here.”

Amazon buy link for Ice Wagon.

Blurb for The Progeny:

The sins of the father . . .

Prohibition has ended, and Jude Mooney is trying to establish himself as an honest businessman. However, his sons are exiles, having fled New Orleans for Ireland after becoming entangled in their father’s illegal activities. Daniel finds burning passion in the arms of the fiery Grace, and Paul learns the joys of the flesh with yet another Irish beauty. Inspired by these fiercely nationalist women, the Mooney brothers join the fight for a united Ireland, acting as snipers and embarking upon clandestine bombing operations.

A series of catastrophic blunders then send Daniel and Paul to England where they join with the enemy they once fought against, hoping to defeat Hitler as he marches throughout Europe. Both Mooney sons eventually infiltrate the Nazi machine at the highest level when they enter the clandestine world of espionage. In New Orleans, Jude faces his own personal battle as he and his young wife drift apart when she betrays him. And, as much as Jude wants to escape the criminal life that lured him in, he and his brother-in-law Pete cannot completely break free of the powerful Matranga family.

As America enters the war, not one member of Jude’s family will remain untouched as his brave niece Julia joins the military as a nurse. Nephews Wally and Peppy Saluto also enter the fray in Asia and Europe. Each family member encounters danger and romance as they face the war machine. This sweeping saga follows the Mooney clan from New Orleans to Europe and then to Asia. Not all will live. All will be scarred as they do what they must to save themselves.

Excerpt from The Progeny:

Daniel strolled leisurely along the Liffey until he came to the small flat he shared in Grafton Street with Paul and Grace Cleary. His heart was pounding, but he whistled as he strode up the stairs, tipping his cap to an elderly woman who gazed suspiciously from her doorway as he passed. Once inside, Daniel lit the cigarette for which he’d pined, removing it from his shirt pocket with shaking hands.

“Dan!” He heard Grace’s voice before he saw her in the bedroom doorway. Her blue eyes flashed in the darkened room. He loved the way her soft dark curls fell to one side around her shoulder. She wrapped her arms around her midsection but then broke, running to him with arms outstretched.

Daniel threw down the cigarette, crushing it under his boot before clasping her tightly, lifting Grace off her feet. As he buried his face in her hair, Daniel caught the scent of lavender. He drank in the softness of her flesh against his face before letting his lips linger on hers.

“Did you do it? Did you follow Sean’s orders?” Grace looked expectantly at him.

“I did. The bastard’s been dispatched.” Daniel searched her face, seeing no signs of womanly sympathy or remorse. Her eyes glistened with excitement and a perverse joy.

Amazon buy link for Progeny.

Bio


Viola Russell is the pseudonym for Susan Weaver Eble. A homegrown New Orleanian, she holds a doctorate in English literature from Texas A & M University. She has traveled far and wide and relishes the memories she has made in places as distant as England, Ireland, Canada, and Jamaica and as near as Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, California, and Massachusetts. She lives with her husband Ben, the love of her life, in a New Orleans cottage and is most comfortable at her computer creating the worlds that drift into her imagination.

Visit Viola at her website or her Amazon Author Page.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

An interesting recipe and book from Janina Grey who brings us a meal and good book.

Mama’s Sauce, Meatballs, and Baked Ziti
AKA Jane McCord’s Baked Ziti

The Sauce is the most important part:
For sauce:

    1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
    2-3 cloves of garlic
    1 medium onion
    Basil
    Parsley
    Red pepper
    Bay Leaf
    3 Beef Bouillon Cubes (omit if vegetarian)
    Parmesan Cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 small can Tomato Paste
3 cans Crushed Tomatoes
1 Can Tomato Puree

Optional:
Extra raw onion, extra raw garlic, onion and/or garlic powder
Meat (Or if Vegetarian – peppers and onions)

Pork – either a country rib, pork neck bones or a pork chop.
Sausage – a nice hot Italian sausage gives you the best taste in the sauce, but I prefer a sweet Italian Sausage, as they are more flavorful.

Meatball ingredients
ground beef (chop meat) following ingredients based on one pound

    bread crumbs ½ (plus?) cups
    egg 2 eggs per pound of chop meat
    salt usually three quick sprinkles
    pepper same as salt unless you like pepper
    red pepper (sneaks up on you, be careful)
    onion powder (or freshly chopped onion) one or two shakes
    garlic powder (or freshly chopped garlic) one shake
    parsley lots of parsley – ¼ to ½ a cup
    parmesan cheese – season to taste

Directions:

Cover bottom of sauce pot with a thin (but not too thin) layer of olive oil.
Heat on low (like a 2 ish).
Simmer thin garlic slices until light brown.
(How much garlic you ask? As much as you want. More garlic for garlic lovers, less garlic for less of a garlic taste)

Slice a medium onion in thin slivers and after removing garlic and put in small bowl, simmer onion in oil until brown.

While garlic and onion are simmering, prepare the meat for browning.

Preparing Meat:
Remove onion. Turn heat up to medium low, so that the meat sizzles quickly when you put it in the pot. Start with pork first. Sear it so it browns quickly on both sides.

Lower the heat a bit (level 3 ish) and put the sausage in, slowly browning it, turning so all sides brown.

While the pork and sausage are browning, mix the meatballs in a large bowl.

Add chop meat, bread crumbs, parsley, egg and mix well.
Add salt, pepper, red pepper
(optional: garlic and onion powders and parmesan cheese.)
Mix well and make meatballs, set on side until ready to brown.

Brown meatballs in oil, set aside with other browned meat. Cook some meatballs thoroughly so people can snack. Cut sausage links in thirds

In residual oil, brown basil. Add tomato paste. Brown paste, parsley, salt and pepper.

Add crushed tomatoes, stir, simmer to boil. Add puree simmer to boil.

Add parsley, red pepper, black pepper, salt, bouillon cubes, cooked garlic and onion, cheese. Add water to desired thinness. Stir constantly while waiting for boil.

Add meat. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cover pot while leaving top tilted so that steam can escape and the sauce can thicken.

Cook 2-3 hours, stirring regularly. Main thing to remember: STIR CONSTANTLY! Make only when in good mood. Bad mood will ruin the taste!!!

Baked Ziti Recipe:

    1 lb of pasta of your choice. It can be ziti, shells, spirals, or rigatoni.
    1 medium container of Ricotta cheese
    8-12 ounces shredded mozzarella (depending on desired cheesy goodness)
    1 egg
    ¼ cup parsley
    Salt and pepper to taste

While the pasta is boiling in a large pot of salted water, use a large mixing bowl to add cheesy goodness ingredients together. mix ingredients together to form a paste.

Line bottom of baking pan with a thin layer of sauce.
When the pasta is done, drain and place in a baking or casserole pan. Add the cheese mixture and mix thoroughly. Then generously add sauce. Remember that it will evaporate a bit when cooking and you don’t want it too dry!

Cover with tin foil and bake a half hour to 45 minutes at 350. Take the tin foil off and sprinkle top with mozzarella cheese. Let melt. Serve.

While you are waiting for your Ziti to bake why not start a good book? Here’s a glimpse into Ten Bucks And A Wish:
All it took was one wish and ten bucks, and Deanna Drake was falling in love all over again with her high school sweetheart.

Returning to her Olde Westfield home ready to battle the proposed development of her family legacy, Deanna learns that the man she despises most is behind the takeover.

Cord stole her heart five years earlier and now plans to steal her rightful heritage and turn it into his next successful moneymaking venture.

Falling in love again wasn’t even on her radar as she boarded the LIRR and headed east out of Manhattan.

Michael McCord knew he messed up bad when Deanna moved away to the city, never to return. Since then, he has been dealing with the realization that he lost the only love of his life forever.

But when Deanna’s father dies and leaves Cord executor of the debt-ridden and failing Drake estate, the budding developer does what he does best—he takes something that is broken and molds and mends it back to life.

The only question now is what is he hoping to heal? The farm, Deanna’s heart, or both? And where does he even begin?

He soon decides the best way to find out is to start with ten bucks and a wish.

Excerpt from Ten Bucks And a Wish:
“You look great.”

It was a simple statement, without any underlying tones. But it made Deanna tremble all the same. Damn, how could he still do this to me?

“You don’t have to be nice to me now.” She hardened her voice as she climbed into the truck, forcing herself not to compliment his vehicle. Or his suit. Or his hair, or his eyes, or his smile.

“I want to be nice to you, if you’d let me.” Cord got behind the wheel and started the SUV.

She shook her head, then stared out the window and whispered, “I hate you.”

“Yeah. I remember. So. Where do you want to go?”

“I thought you were giving me a ride home?” Be still, oh traitorous heart.

“Nah. You don’t really want to go home, do you? You want to take a ride? Maybe head out east?” His grin was so broad his dimples were showing.

“If that means missing dinner, sure,” she said, stealing a glance at him.

“Besides, I thought we had things to discuss.” He cocked an eyebrow at her.

“Apparently, I have to talk to Trish.”

“I thought you already did.” Amusement filled his voice.

“So did I. But from what I’ve heard and seen this morning? Oh, hell. Never mind.” Her mind was racing as quickly as her heart. Something was off. And only Trish could clear things up.

“So you want to hear my plans for the farm?”

“My farm? No thanks.”

“So it’s your farm, huh?”

“I spoke with a friend. He gave me advice on how to deal with the situation.”

“Big city folk, huh? Us country folk ain’t good ‘nough fer the likes of a city slicker like you. Is that it?” He twanged at her, and a smile curved her lips despite her anger.

“I trust him.”

“You don’t trust me?” Cord’s voice softened as he reached out, his strong, tanned fingers closing gently around her soft, slender hand resting in her lap. It was as if they were making love right there and then, judging from the explosions in her heart and belly.

“Cord.” Deanna didn’t intend to whisper, but when she spoke she found that his nearness, his touch, the aloneness they shared, had stolen her breath away.

“Much better, Deanna. Much.” His voice, too, was barely more than a whisper.

Deanna swallowed thickly, staring at his broad hand, dark and roughened from years of hard work under the sun. Hands that could rip through hours of hard physical labor, or caress her skin with a touch as soft as a spring breeze.

She glanced up to find the truck hadn’t even left the parking lot yet. She wanted to be strong, to forget what it felt like to love him.

“It doesn’t have to be like this.” He removed his hand and placed it firmly on the steering wheel and spoke softly, his eyes never leaving her face.

Her skin cooled quickly with the absence of his touch. She shook her head and focused on the throng of parishioners mulling around, socializing with one another, as she unsuccessfully tried to loosen the lump in her throat.

“I don’t think you know the whole story. You don’t know how hard it’s been for me to not call you and warn you about what was going on.” He emphasized each word softly, his voice filtering through the SUV. “This wouldn’t be happening if we had been together this whole time.”

“You blew it.” She jutted her lower lip out in defiance and continued to stare out the window.

He shifted into drive and edged onto the highway. “Deanna. We’ve got two things to clear up between us. The past and the present. And the way I see it, once we settle these two problems it’ll be smooth sailing from there. So, what do you say, huh? Can you retract your claws and try to work out our differences?”

He studied the road as she studied his profile. He was headed east, as he had suggested earlier. “I’ll keep my claws to myself if you keep your . . . your paws . . . to yourself.” Her deliberate hesitation emphasized all too clearly the meaning of her words. Cord slipped her a quick glance, and their eyes locked. For that moment, everything was forgotten, and they laughed, just like old times.

***

Find Ten Bucks And a Wish at:

Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Janina Grey Bio
Janina Grey has been writing since she could hold a crayon, and there has been no stopping her since. Journaling, short stories, poetry, newsletters, news, feature, columns, Op/Eds, and press releases have kept her busy her whole life. But it was the sweet romances she read in her downtime that stayed forever in her heart and gave her the inspiration to write her own.

Growing up on Long Island and living periodically in Tennessee as a youth has given her the opportunity to meet many different types of people and experience many different lifestyles. After moving from Long Island to settle in upstate New York with her family, she found the support needed to pursue her writing endeavors.

When Janina is not writing, she may be marching for women’s rights, kayaking, camping, drumming, or dancing around the fire.

With her two children grown, she and her husband, David, share their 110-year-old Mohawk Valley farm house homestead with a few resident spirits and a very squawky murder of crows.

Check out more excerpts and get to know Janina Grey better by visiting her website, or following her on Instagram @janinagreyauthor, and Facebook.
You can also reach out to her at janinagrey143@gmail.com.

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Gardening in the Ozarks

by

Susan Varno

When my husband and I retired, we moved to the Arkansas Ozarks. We built our house in a forest meadow. I knew the land wouldn’t have the black loamy soil we’d enjoyed in northern Illinois. A neighbor recommended we put in raised flower beds.

I said, “Over the winter, I’ll cover them with black plastic so weeds and seedlings won’t grow up.”

He gave me that “you aren’t from around here” look and said, “That won’t be necessary. The beds will be fine until spring.”

He was right. After we had what passes for dirt delivered, mostly sand, some gravel, and crumbled clay, not a thing grew, not a weed, not a blade of grass. One brave acorn sprouted, looked around, and promptly died.

Spring came. I visited the garden department at Walmart. I didn’t care what the flowers looked like, only that they grew in partial shade and didn’t require much watering.

I bought bags of black top soil, some organic fertilizer, and compost. I mixed it into the sandy soil and planted marigolds, wildflowers, gladiola bulbs and some unidentified clearance flowers. They all drooped. I scattered pine bark mulch around them. The flowers still looked forlorn. Every time I watered, that night it rained. Then one night some critter ate my pansies, vinca, and moss roses. Just nibbled off the buds and left the leaves.

Back to Walmart for something to discourage the all night critter buffet. The ingredients included putrefied egg shells, cayenne pepper, dried blood, and cat urine. It smelled awful but seemed to work.

I planted hostas (too much shade), marigolds (weather too hot), gladiolas, (magnificent but kept falling over). The sole zinnia did well, though it seemed lonely for its own kind.

Then I made friends with Juanita Stowers. She told me to use manure for fertilizer but wear gloves. She gave me heirloom petunia plants she’d rescued 30 earlier from her mother’s garden. They not only bloomed but moved from one bed to another every year. Each spring I had to search for them. I told her I watered the yucca bulbs she’d gave me, but they didn’t bloom. She reminded me they are a succulent. I stopped watering. They grew four feet tall and shot forth with giant white flowers. Covered with an ice glaze, my violas gallantly bloomed. Coneflower seeds grew into a bush. English ivy engulfed a flower bed and headed up the outside of the house.

One day Juanita and I were driving in the woods. She suddenly stopped her SUV.

“I’ve got to have that fern,” she said. From her trunk, she lifted out a pot and small shovel.

“Watch for sheriff’s patrol cars,” she warned. “Digging up these heirloom plants is illegal, but I’m only taking one.”

I stood lookout while she explained that in the forest, many homesteads had been abandoned. When a family moved away, the cabin caved in or was taken apart to use the logs elsewhere. But the flowers the farm women had planted continued to come up every spring. For decades, even a century, they marked the places where a family, had farmed, survived, but been forced to move.

A REBEL AND HER ROGUE (A Regency Romance Novel from Soul Mate Publishing)

Excerpt
Sherwood Forest, 1815

Through the trees, Blake heard the wild rumbling of carriage wheels. Wood splintering. A horse shrieking. A man shouting.

Giving Valor his head, Blake raced through an opening in the trees. He burst onto the road and pulled sharply to a halt. Half in the ditch, a small carriage canted against a tree. The vehicle teetered. One wheel turned slowly in the air. While the coachman struggled to release the harness, the wild-eyed horse pawed the ground ready to bolt.

Blake leapt down from his horse Valor. The carriage door flew open. A head of lush black hair appeared followed by the most enchanting face he ever beheld. Dark brows, dark lashes. As he surveyed her freckled nose and cheeks, his gaze came upon the damsel’s plump red lips. They arched in a vicious frown.

He slid his hand around her waist and lifted her into his arms. She was lithe but endowed with graceful curves. She laced her arm around his shoulder. Her body pressed against his made sweat prickle in his most intimate places.

“Cassiopeia Valient?” he asked.

“Mister Durgan,” she snapped. “Is this any way to conduct a kidnapping?”

Durgan? The name pulled him up smartly. Did his potential bride-to-be mistake him for Dangerous Dan Durgan, the Gentleman Bandit? Beneath his leather jacket, Blake’s shirt collar stood open. His breeches were tucked into rough boots, and he wore his light blond hair tied back with a buckskin thong. Those details might explain her confusion.

What confusion? She expected him to kidnap her! Ransom must be her motive.

Amazon buy link

Susan Varno Bio:

Like many readers and writers, I watch stories inside my head. When I read a Regency romance, I imagine myself dancing at a London ball or racing through Sherwood Forest. When I write, I imagine an intriguing scene, always one with action and attraction. I watch how my hero and heroine act. That’s how I discover who they are and what they care about. I love researching their time and place in history almost as much as I love inviting these “strangers” inside my head.

For twenty-five years, I wrote columns and reviews for Video Views Magazine. I’ve seen almost every new movie release, especially the romances and anything with an historical setting. Though I was born and raised in Chicago and its suburbs, I married a country boy from rural Ohio. Richard insisted we retire to the hinterlands of the Arkansas Ozarks. Our post office was so remote you couldn’t find it on most maps. While we lived there, I interviewed more than a hundred people for articles in magazines and newspapers.

My husband died three years ago. I miss my hero every day. We have two grown sons and one grandson. I now live in a Chicago suburb. I volunteer in the local schools and help at my church. I’ve visited the western Caribbean and the western Mediterranean. Someday, England here I come.

Find Susan at:

WebsiteFacebook

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The adventuress Caroline Warfield who brings us her latest captivating story plus a recipe that fills.

Eight All-new Stories, One Catastrophic Storm
When a storm blows off the North Sea and slams into the village of Fenwick on Sea, the villagers prepare for the inevitable: shipwreck, flood, land slips, and stranded travelers. The Queen’s Barque Inn quickly fills with the injured, the devious, and the lonely—lords, ladies, and simple folk; spies, pirates, and smugglers all trapped together. Intrigue crackles through the village, and passion lights up the hotel. Grace Burrowes and Mary Lancaster lead a team of eight authors for Storm & Shelter. Caroline Warfield enthusiastically joins in.20210331 ahmdw-stsk2

A recipe as might be found at the Queen’s Barque on a busy night~

An inn kitchen makes me think of pub food—or comfort food. Shepherd’s pie is my favorite, though I confess, our family has no recipe. Still, such a dish might have come from the kitchen at the Queen’s Barque. It is compiled from ingredients at hand, but it goes more or less as follows:
Ingredients
A pound of ground beef, or beef and pork, or beef and a bit of ground chicken
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced.
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup of beef broth
¼ cup of red wine
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Herbs if you like them. Thyme is good
Corn starch—a tablespoon or two
1 ½ cup vegetables—peas, corn, diced carrots or cut green beans in a pinch, frozen and defrosted or cooked fresh
2 cups mashed potatoes—I use roughly two pounds of potatoes, a stick of butter and a half cup of heated whole milk, and a teaspoon of salt. Mash it with a hand masher until smooth. More milk as needed.
Directions:
1. Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cook the onions and garlic in oil until the onions are transparent.
3. Add the meat and brown until cooked, stirring and persuading it into small pieces, mixing with the onions as you brown.
4. Drain fat
5. Stir in corn starch, coating the meat.
6. Add broth, wine, Worcestershire sauce and any herbs. Stir and simmer until it thickens.
7. Stir in vegetables and remove from heat.
8. Use a spatula to turn the meat mixture into casserole dish that will allow it to spread to no more than 3 inches deep.
9. Cover with mashed potatoes. Dot the potatoes with butter to aid in browning if you like.
10. Bake until the top browns and the filling bubbles up along the side, about 30-45 minutes.

While you wait for your pie to cool how about a book to read.

“The Tender Flood,” is Caroline Warfield’s contribution to Storm & Shelter.
Among the refugees who seek refuge at the Queen’s Barque are Patience Abney who offers to work for the innkeeper, cleaning rooms, to pay for herself and the six little boys she brought with her. Zachary Newell, a coachman sleeps above the stables and eats in tap room. I wonder if they enjoyed shepherd’s pie?
The story

Neither battle nor loss of his leg destroyed Zachery Newell. Working as a coachman, he tries to build a life in spite of his injuries while he plans for the sort of life he knew in childhood, happy and content above his father’s print shop, but when a woman races out of the storm and into the stable yard of The Queen’s Barque with a wagon full of small boys, puppies, and a bag of books, he is enchanted.

Dismissed by a charity school, Patience Abney struggles on her own to create The Academy for the Formation of Young Gentlemen to give every boy a happy and productive life. Now the roof has caved in. Though she managed to get her boys to the safety of an inn, she has no idea how she will rebuild.

Zach knows Patience, the granddaughter of an earl, is far above the touch of shopkeeper’s son. He tries to keep his distance, but when the two of them make their way across the flooded marsh to her damaged school in search of a missing boy, attraction grows into passion, complicating everything.

An excerpt:

Two things struck him as the wagon lurched to a halt in the shelter of the barn. The wagon’s cargo stirred and shifted under an old patchwork quilt, and the driver, who scrambled down and swept off the ugly hat, was no boy. No lad had eyes so warm and brown, lashes so long, or so glorious a fall of hair; she held him transfixed.

“I need to talk to Mr. Brewster!” The tiny bit of a woman cast wide, frightened eyes up at him as if he could produce the innkeeper. “The road collapsed above town; it gave way and slid down just as we passed.”

“If we were two minutes later, we’d’ve all been tossed into the sea!” The boy who sat with her jumped down beside her. This one, definitely a lad, looked to be fourteen or so.

Mallet set a hand on Zach’s shoulder. “I’ll alert the innkeeper while Jamie tries to wake a groom. You do what you can for the lady and her, er, cargo.”

Zach nodded without looking at his departing passengers, his attention still transfixed on the woman: rum, exhaustion, and a pair of deep brown eyes making it hard to think. One word finally wormed its way into his consciousness. “All?”

He followed her gaze to where the boy pulled back the wet blanket over the bed of the wagon. Five pairs of eyes stared back at Zach, five boys soaked to the skin, and shaken with terror.

“Are we safe now, Miss Patience?” one asked, his voice quivering.

“We are indeed safe, Walter, as I promised we would be,” the woman said with confidence. Only Zach heard her add “Thank God,” under her breath.

You can buy it at Amazon
Or
Find more vendors and information about all eight stories here

About Caroline Warfield

Carol Roddy - Author

Traveler, adventurer, writer of historical romance. Enamored of owls, books, history, and beautiful gardens (but not the actual act of gardening). You can find her novels set, mostly, but not entirely, in the Regency or Victorian eras here or just follow her Newsletter or on BookBub

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