New Release Spotlight! Susan Cushman’s John and Mary Margaret Tackles Interracial Relationships from the 60’s On

About the Book

We first meet Susan Cushman’s characters, John and Mary Margaret, in her short story collection, Friends of the Library. In her second novel and seventh book, Cushman fleshes out their stories, covering over fifty years of their lives in Mississippi and Memphis against the backdrop of the civil rights movement and continuing through current-day events.

John and Mary Margaret is an insider’s look into the White-privilege bubble of a young girl growing up in Jackson, Mississippi, and participating in sorority life on the Ole Miss campus in the late 1960s. But it’s also a candid portrayal of a young Black boy from Memphis who follows his dream to study law at the predominately White university. What happens when their shared love for literature blossoms into an ill-fated romance? Set squarely in the center of decades of historical events in Mississippi and Memphis, here their story brings those events to life.

My Take

I was introduced to Susan Cushman when she became an AlzAuthor, adding her memoir Tangles & Plaques to the AlzAuthors.com collection of books about Alzheimer’s and dementia written from personal experience. I recently interviewed her for our podcast, Untangling Alzheimer’s and Dementia. She recently published a novel, John and Mary Margaret, also with a dementia theme, but a story about interracial relationships from the 1960’s on to the present.

The main characters in this story are students at Ole Miss who fall for each other freshman year but face prejudice and violence when they openly display their affection. They choose to end their relationship, but over the course of five decades, new loves, marriages, and dementia they reunite in a world that has changed.

This is an ambitious, well researched book. The author brings her own personal experience as a southern woman confronting racial disparities to the storyline. It is sensitive and well written. The dementia themes are realistic and add an interesting dimension to the love story.

Recommended for readers who enjoy women’s fiction with serious social themes.

About the Author

Susan Cushman is author of four books: JOHN AND MARY MARGARET (novel), FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY (short stories), CHERRY BOMB (a novel) and TANGLES AND PLAQUES: A MOTHER AND DAUGHTER FACE ALZHEIMER’s (a memoir). She is editor of three anthologies: SOUTHERN WRITERS ON WRITING, A SECOND BLOOMING: BECOMING THE WOMEN WE ARE MEANT TO BE, and THE PULPWOOD QUEENS CELEBRATE 20 YEARS!

Susan was co-director of the 2013 and 2010 Oxford (Mississippi) Creative Nonfiction Conferences. She was director of the 2011 Memphis Creative Nonfiction Workshop. She was a panelist at the 2017 and 2018 Mississippi Book Festival, the 2017 Decatur Book Festival, the 2012, 2017 and 2018 Southern Festival of Books, the 2013, 2018, and 2019 Louisiana Book Festival, a speaker at the 2018 Mississippi Writers Guild Conference, the 2018 Alabama Writers Conclave Conference, the 2019 Southern Literary Festival, the 2019 Middle Tennessee State University Writers Conference, and the 2020 AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Professionals) Conference.

A native of Jackson, Mississippi, Susan lives in Memphis.

Her website is http://www.susancushman.com.

Books I Love! Just My Luck by Adele Parks is Unputdownable

It was supposed to be the lottery win they’d always dreamed of…

For fifteen years, Lexi and Jake have played the same six numbers with their friends. Over drinks, dinner parties and summer barbecues, the three couples have discussed the important stuff—kids, marriages, careers—and they’ve laughed off their disappointment when they failed to win anything.

But then the unthinkable happens. There’s a rift in the group. Someone is caught in a lie. And soon after, six numbers come up that change everything forever.

Lexi and Jake have a ticket worth millions. And their friends are determined to claim a share.

#1 Sunday Times bestselling author Adele Parks returns with a riveting look at the dark side of wealth in this gripping tale of friendship, money, betrayal and good luck gone bad…

My Take

Doesn’t everyone dream of winning the lottery? It’s fun to fantasize about how our lives would change, what we would buy, where would we live, quitting our jobs, travel, and so much more. Often the realities of winning are not what we thought they would be, which is the case in Adele Parks’ novel Just My Luck. I listened to the audiobook version and it was unputdownable. Narrated by Louise Brealey and Kristin Atherton, the story is a whirlwind of high emotion as lead characters Lexi and Jake grapple with whether or not to share the winnings with friends with whom they’d recently had a falling out. Up until the night of the argument they’d all been in a pool together. But Lexi bought the ticket after that night, using the numbers they’d played each week for years. No wonder there is animosity, anger, and backstabbing when the win is made public.

The characters’ characters are revealed in painful detail. Lexi and Jake do what most lottery winners do: Jake immediately quits his job (Lexi doesn’t) and buys himself a fancy sports car; they move to a fancy house; they throw a fabulous party sparing no expense. None of this leads to happiness.Secrets unravel and truths are bared upsetting their lives more than the windfall did. Things get ugly and Lexi discovers she’s not happy to have won at such cost.

This is a fast read, even with ear buds, that gets you thinking about how you would react to a lottery win and if you would do any better than this group.

Recommended for those who like “what if” stories with a cast of villains and a heroine with a good heart.

About the Author

Adele Parks, one of the most-loved and biggest-selling women’s fiction writers in the UK, has sold over 3.8 million books and her work has been translated into 26 different languages.

1500+ 5 star reviews have kindly been written by her fans on Amazon.co.uk 🙂

She has published 20 novels, all of which have been London Times bestsellers.

Adele has written 18 contemporary novels and 2 historical ones, Spare Brides and If You Go Away, which are set during and after WW1. Her latest novels, Just My Luck, Lies Lies Lies, I Invited Her In, The Image of You and The Stranger in My Home are twisty, domestic noirs. Adele likes to scrutinize our concepts of family, our theories on love, parenting and fidelity.

During her career Adele has lived in Italy, Botswana and London. Now she lives happily in Surrey, UK with her husband, son and cat.

If you want to stay in touch you can find Adele on Twitter @AdeleParks, Instagram @Adele_Parks or Facebook @OfficialAdeleParks. You can sign up to her newsletter at eepurl.com/cI0l and there’s lots more info about Adele and her books on http://www.adeleparks.com.

New Release Spotlight! Mary Alice Monroe’s Latest Beach Read Summer of Lost and Found

Pull out the beach chairs! Mary Alice Monroe has given us a new beach read. I’m a sucker for southern women authors so I’m kicking off my summer reading frenzy with this one!

The New York Times bestselling Beach House series returns with this tender and compassionate novel following the Rutledge family as they face a summer of upheaval and change with perseverance, unity, and a dose of humor, discovering unexpected joys and lessons that will endure long past the season.

The coming of Spring usually means renewal, but for Linnea Rutledge, Spring 2020 threatens stagnation. Linnea faces another layoff, this time from the aquarium she adores. For her—and her family—finances, emotions, and health teeter at the brink. To complicate matters, her new love interest, Gordon, struggles to return to the Isle of Palms from England. Meanwhile, her old flame, John, turns up from California and is quarantining next door. She tries to ignore him, but when he sends her plaintive notes in the form of paper airplanes, old sparks ignite. When Gordon at last reaches the island, Linnea wonders—is it possible to love two men at the same time?

Love in the time of the coronavirus proves challenging, at times humorous, and ever changing. Relationships are redefined, friendships made and broken, and marriages tested. As the weeks turn to months, and another sea turtle season comes to a close, Linnea learns there are more meaningful lessons learned during this summer than opportunities lost, that summer is a time of wonder, and that the exotic lives in our own backyards. In The Summer of Lost and Found, Linnea and the Rutledge family continue to face their challenges with the strength, faith, and commitment that has inspired fans for decades.

Mary Alice Monroe once again delves into the complexities of family relationships and brings her signature “sensitive and true” (Dorothea Benton Frank, New York Times bestselling author) storytelling to this poignant and timely novel of love, courage, and resilience.

Start reading now!

About the Author

Mary Alice Monroe

New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe found her true calling in environmental fiction when she moved to coastal South Carolina. Already a successful author, she was captivated by the beauty and fragility of her new home. Her experiences living in the midst of a habitat that was quickly changing gave her a strong and important focus for her novels. She writes richly textured books that delve into the complexities of interpersonal relationships and the parallels between the land and life. Her novels are published worldwide. With the same heart of conservation, Monroe has written two children’s picture books as well. She lives with her family on a barrier island outside Charleston, South Carolina and is an active conservationist, serving on the South Carolina Aquarium Board Emeritis, The Leatherback Trust, The Pat Conroy Literary Center Honorary Board, and Casting Carolinas Advisory Board. For additional information on the environmental topics in Mary Alice’s novels, visit her Conservation page.

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New Release Spotlight! Brenda Novak’s Latest, The Bookstore on the Beach, a Perfect Summer Read

I’m definitely putting this one into my beach bag! I’ve never seen a bookstore on the beach but I have seen one of those Little Free Libraries, where you can leave a book for someone else to pick up, on Cape Cod at Corn HIll Beach in Truro. Fun Fact: A pivotal scene in my novel Blue Hydrangeas takes place at this beach.

Description

How do you start a new chapter of your life when you haven’t closed the book on the previous one?

Eighteen months ago, Autumn Divac’s husband went missing. Her desperate search has yielded no answers, and she can’t imagine moving forward without him. But for the sake of their two teenage children, she has to try.

Autumn takes her kids home for the summer to the charming beachside town where she was raised. She seeks comfort working alongside her mother and aunt at their bookshop, only to learn that her daughter is facing a huge life change and her mother has been hiding a terrible secret for years. And when she runs into the boy who stole her heart in high school, old feelings start to bubble up again. Is she free to love him, or should she hold out hope for her husband’s return? She can only trust her heart…and hope it won’t lead her astray.

“A heart-tugging romance. Readers are sure to be sucked in.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

A page-turner with a deep heart.”—Nancy Thayer, New York Times bestselling author of Girls of Summer  

About the Author

It was a shocking experience that jump-started Brenda Novak’s career as a bestselling author–she caught her day-care provider drugging her children with cough syrup to get them to sleep all day. That was when Brenda decided she needed to quit her job as a loan officer and help make a living from home.

“When I first got the idea to become a novelist, it took me five years to teach myself the craft and finish my first book,” Brenda says. But she sold that book, and the rest is history. Her novels have made the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists and won many awards, including eight Rita nominations, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Book Seller’s Best, the Silver Bullet and the National Reader’s Choice Award.

Brenda and her husband, Ted, live in Sacramento and are proud parents of five children–three girls and two boys. When she’s not spending time with her family or writing, Brenda is usually raising funds for diabetes research (her youngest son has this disease). So far, Brenda has raised $2.6 million!

Join Brenda Novak’s Online Book Group on Facebook– http://www.facebook.com/groups/brendanovaksbookgroup/. We’re currently reading her newest release THE BOOKSTORE ON THE BEACH. Get an autographed copy in one of Brenda’s popular Book Boxes: http://www.brendanovakstore.com/.

Connect with Brenda Novak

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Books I Love! American Dirt is Enlightening and Humanizing

También de este lado hay sueños. On this side, too, there are dreams.

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

American Dirt will leave readers utterly changed. It is a literary achievement filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity on every page. It is one of the most important books for our times.

Already being hailed as “a Grapes of Wrath for our times” and “a new American classic,” Jeanine Cummins’s American Dirt is a rare exploration into the inner hearts of people willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer of hope.

My Take

Quite possibly one of the best books I’ve ever read, although getting to the end of it was an arduous process. I first checked it out of the library to see what everyone was talking about, read a few chapters, but reluctantly returned it because it was overdue and my TBR list was massive. Then my book club decided to read it, so I checked it out again and ended up reading it in hardcover, Kindle, and audio before finally finishing it and I was gobsmacked. This is a real eye opener.

The tragic and terrifying plight of the people desperate to enter the US at the southern border are well known to me, but in Cummins’s hands they seem tangible and compelling. It’s one thing to read a news story or analysis of a Mexican immigrant caught at the border, but to witness the journey of a mother and her young son fleeing from their comfortable home in Acapulco, Mexico after the vicious murder of their family, desperate to stay alive to make it to the safety of “el norte,” had me putting aside pretty much everything to find out what happens. My heart raced each time they encountered a stranger they did not know if they could trust, and soared at the generosity of those who offered them comfort. I particularly liked the characters of the teenaged sisters, and Beto, as well as the coyote.

There is a lot of hype about this book. To each their own. I found it enlightening and humanizing and recommend it to anyone looking for something to take them out of their normal reading routine.

About the Author

Jeanine Cummins s the author of THE OUTSIDE BOY, THE CROOKED BRANCH, the true crime work A RIP IN HEAVEN, and AMERICAN DIRT, all of which are published by Tinder Press. She lives in New York with her husband and two children. You can follow Jeanine on Twitter @jeaninecummins.

The Grief Diary: Missing The Missing

Exploring the Aftermath of Love and Loss. This is the fourth in this series.

Missing someone is its own painful loss. A passing thought or memory of a loved one no longer here can trigger overwhelming feelings of longing and sadness. When there are a number of lost loved ones a myriad of memories can launch an afternoon of despair, turn a sunny day into a morass of depression, stop you short.

I try not to miss my missing loved ones.

Outside forces sometimes make this impossible.

Pop-up photos in my Facebook Feed

Some Facebook genius probably thinks they’re making my day by showing me random photos in my feed. If it exists in my account I must want to see it, right? Except sometimes these photos are of someone I’ve lost, someone I’m missing, someone I’m mourning, and seeing their beloved face on my screen when I don’t expect to can be a shock, sending my day spinning into emotional chaos.

Pop-up photos on my iPhone

Same thing with my iPhone. Pictures I’m not expecting show up and, depending on my mood, or the day, make me cry, or smile.

I suppose there is a way to control these pop-ups on Facebook and on my iPhone but I don’t have time to figure it out. If you know how please share the trick.

Random Acts of Memory

Occasionally a random glimpse of a piece of a person reminds me of someone I’ve lost:

A man’s freckled arm resting on the frame of his car’s window as we pass each other sparks memories of my father.

An elderly woman’s hooded brown eyes evoke memories of my mother.

The sight of fresh snowfall in the morning awakens thoughts of my brother Vic, who loved taking out his snowmobiles in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

Don’t Be Sad, Don’t Cry”

Many years ago, I sat at the kitchen table with my mom just talking over coffee, as we always did. It was not a serious conversation. We were laughing, reminiscing, planning and plotting what fun thing we’d do next. She suddenly grabbed my hand and said, “Look at me. Listen to what I have to say.” The mood grew serious. She had my undivided attention. “When I die,” she said, grasping my hand, “don’t be sad, don’t cry for me, because I’ll be with Jesus, and I’ve been waiting for that all of my life.”

Mom was a devout Catholic: 12 years of parochial school, daily mass for years. She often said she’d wished she’d been a nun. She was very close to the Lord. Death did not frighten her. She saw it as a necessary route to the afterlife.

At her funeral I shared this story with those who attended. It surprised no one. Everyone knew of her unshakeable faith. And from that day on when I find myself tearing up from missing her or distracted by a sweet memory, I go back to those words, and heed her instructions: “Don’t be sad. Don’t cry.”

Sometimes it works. Most times I’m filled with an emptiness, a sense of loss. Mom died at age 91. My dad died at 45. She lived twice as long as he did, and yet it wasn’t enough. At her funeral my youngest brother said, “Maybe I’m selfish but I want more. I want more time with my mom. I know we had more than most people get, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting even more.”

It’s only human nature to want more time with those we love.

And that’s why we miss them. We miss that lost time. And as time moves on and our loved ones recede into the backstory of our lives, we reflect on their lives and our love, and eventually find joy amid the sadness.

An Invitation

Please take this journey with me. We can communicate with one another in the comments, perhaps find healing together. Subscribe to this blog to receive email notifications of new posts. Thank you.

New Release Spotlight! Eleanor Kuhns Strikes Again With Her Latest Historical Mystery

New Release Spotlight Eleanor Kuhns

A tension-filled mystery set within the Great Dismal Swamp in 1800s Virginia.

Finding themselves in a slave community hidden within the Great Dismal Swamp, Will Rees and his wife Lydia get caught up in a dangerous murder case where no one trusts them.

September 1800, Maine. Will Rees is beseeched by Tobias, an old friend abducted by slave catchers years before, to travel south to Virginia to help transport his pregnant wife, Ruth, back north. Though he’s reluctant, Will’s wife Lydia convinces him to go . . . on the condition she accompanies them.

Upon arriving in a small community of absconded slaves hiding within the Great Dismal Swamp, Will and Lydia are met with distrust. Tensions are high and a fight breaks out between Tobias and Scipio, a philanderer with a bounty on his head known for conning men out of money. The following day Scipio is found dead – shot in the back.

Stuck within the hostile Great Dismal and with slave catchers on the prowl, Will and Lydia find themselves caught up in their most dangerous case yet.

Death in the Great Dismal

Start reading now!

About the Author

Eleanor KuhnsELEANOR KUHNS is the 2011 winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel competition. She lives in New York, received her master’s in Library Science from Columbia University, and is currently the Assistant Director at the Goshen Public Library in Orange County, New York.

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New Release Spotlight! Easy Summer Reading with TI Lowe’s Latest Driftwood Dreams

New Release Spotlight Driftwood Dreams

From the bestselling author of Lulu’s Café

Josie Slater has allowed the circumstances anchoring her in Sunset Cove to become a life sentence. Since her mother’s death years before, she’s spent most of her waking hours helping her dad run the Driftwood Diner. As her best friends, Opal and Sophia, make their dreams come true, Josie watches her own art school aspirations drift on by. But when a French-speaking Southern gentleman from her past moves back from Europe, Josie is launched into a tizzy of what-ifs and I-sure-do-hope-sos.

August Bradford left Sunset Cove six years ago to sow some life oats and conquer his ambitious career goals. Finally ready to lay down some roots, the successful artist is back in town and determined to win Josie’s heart. When he enlists Josie’s help in the preparations for a children’s art camp, Josie finds herself unleashing her artistic side in a way she hasn’t since before her mother’s death. August hopes to convince Josie to paint a life with him, but the problem is convincing her to let go of her apprehensions and give him―and her dreams―a fair chance.

Driftwood Dreams

 

Start reading now!

About the Author

TI Lowe, authorBestselling author T.I. Lowe sees herself as an ordinary country girl who loves to tell extraordinary stories. She knows she’s just getting started and has many more stories to tell. A wife and mother and active in her church community, she resides in coastal South Carolina with her family.

For a complete list of Lowe’s published books, biography, upcoming events, and other information, visit tilowe.com and be sure to check out her blog, COFFEE CUP, while you’re there!

Connect with TI Lowe

email: ti.lowe@yahoo.com

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Note: I am an Amazon Associate and may receive a small commission from book sales.

New Release Spotlight! Suzy Henderson Writes of Pre-WWII Paris in Madame Fiocca

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February 1933: Nancy Wake is a gregarious twenty-year-old looking for adventure. Having fled her unhappy family home in Sydney, she becomes a journalist and is thrilled when she is posted to Paris. The city is glamorous, brimming with journalists, artists, and a growing number of refugees.

Later, in the French Riviera, she uncovers more than news following a chance encounter with wealthy industrialist, Henri Fiocca. Their relationship blossoms as Hitler makes waves across Europe. While on an assignment in Vienna in 1938, she witnesses Nazis whipping Jews on the street and she vows to fight for justice if ever the opportunity arises.

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When Henri is called to the Front to fight, Nancy, determined to help the war effort, joins the Red Cross as an ambulance driver. Every day she witnesses atrocities. When Paris falls, Nancy flees the German oppressors and returns to Marseille. France is a nation defeated; its people are in despair.

A chance encounter with a British officer draws Nancy into the heart of the Garrow escape network, despite Henri’s reservations. Armed with wealth and charm, she convinces Henri that the Germans will never suspect such a woman. But soon she finds herself caught up in a deadly game of espionage.

As the iron fist of the enemy tightens, neighbours denounce neighbours. No one can be trusted. When the enemy closes in, Nancy and Henri face an impossible choice. Has she done more harm than good?

Based on a true story of love and a gripping adventure, Madame Fiocca weaves an extraordinary tale of survival and redemption in wartime.

Excerpt

Picon raised his head, his nose twitching as he sniffed. I crouched down, ran my hand along his back, the hair wiry like a coconut skin, then unclipped his tan leather leash. The morning air, salty, fresh as a gentle breeze, blew in from the ocean, lifted my hair. He trotted by my side as we made our way across the beach, then I watched him gallop down to the water’s edge. The tide sailed out, then shushed back in, slipping over his white paws, and Picon yapped as he ran away from its hold, back to me. I giggled. Grainy sand clung to my toes, burning my soles and I wandered to the water’s edge. The next wave washed over my feet, lukewarm. I glanced down as squidgy sand shifted beneath my weight. A wave rolled in my head as I wavered.

After our walk, I found a table on the hotel terrace. In the distance, I glimpsed Marie in her white bathing suit as she waded into the ocean while Richard waved from waist-high depths, white crested waves crashing around them. As I waited for the waiter to bring my coffee and croissants, I noticed Henri Fiocca seated at a nearby table with a female companion. What a coincidence, or a sign, perhaps. He never did call, although I had been away many times on assignments. He was a womaniser, a playboy. Some men simply weren’t the settling down types.

Henri was tall, medium build with sultry hazel eyes. He oozed a certain charm, with suave and sophistication, and rarely ventured out without a glamorous woman on his arm. I had no idea of his age, but I guessed he was older than me, more likely closer to my elder brother, Stanley’s age. He glanced over and smiled. I smiled back and turned away. I had no idea how he managed to have a steady stream of girlfriends. Of course, I’d had my share of dates, but nothing serious. But as much as I hated to admit it, Henri Fiocca was an enigma, and the first man to rouse my curiosity.

***

We dined outside on the terrace at eight while the sun slipped from her celestial pedestal. Marie sat behind a hand-held oriental fan in shades of blue and pink, her face flushed, smothered in a sheen of perspiration. The day had been long and hot, but the evening dragged a refreshing, delicious breeze from the ocean, to fan my brow and cheeks. Dusk settled by the time we’d finished, and waiters stepped from table to table lighting tealight candles. The sapphire sky glittered with stars; a purple-pink band stretched tight across the horizon. Two violinists serenaded the diners, sweet, melodic notes swayed and scythed into the night, lulling me into a relaxed, almost sleepy state. Marie wore an elegant salmon pink silk dress with lemon flowers embroidered on the chest, her mahogany cigarette holder precisely poised within the fingers of her right hand. Her bright eyes serene, sharp, taking everything and everyone in, forever the huntress. Focussed and determined, ruthlessly uncovering stories and reporting the news, generally without emotional involvement, and sometimes I wished I was more like her. I couldn’t detach myself from suffering or injustice. Perhaps I should have considered a career in politics. At least then one can make a difference.

‘You look tired, Nancy,’ Richard said, a broad grin crinkling his eyes at the corners.

‘Tired? She has enough stamina for the three of us.’ Marie laughed. ‘Let’s go to the casino tonight.’

We’d spent the last two nights at the casino, which was probably the reason for my fatigue. Poor Picon was exhausted, and tonight I’d left him to sleep in my room.

‘Let’s dance.’ Richard took my hand and pulled me to my feet.

As he led me in a gentle waltz to the rhythm of violin music, a fizz of energy gushed through my veins, and I smiled as we took centre stage, dancing before the ocean, beneath the diamante twilight. Couples dined around us, their low murmur of chat a mere vibration. The present tune ended, and a new one began. The Tango. The dance of love. And I loved it. Richard was only slightly taller than me, the perfect partner, height-wise. As we sailed across the terrace, the hairs prickled at the nape of my neck, and then I saw him. Henri Fiocca, sat with his blonde companion from earlier, enjoying an aperitif, his gaze firmly fixed on us. I’m not sure why he caused me to feel so unsettled, but everything I did from then on made far more difference. My appearance, behaviour, everything mattered, and over the following week, I realised that I spent more time in front of the mirror, perfecting my hair, touching up my lipstick, deliberating over what to wear as a fluttering grew in my tummy like a kaleidoscope of butterflies.

Over the next few days, I swam, enjoyed meals with friends, and spent my evenings at the casino, occasionally bumping into Henri, watching in awe as he appeared with a different girl each time. And then one evening, as I strode into the hotel lounge looking for my friends, I found him alone at the bar nursing a brandy, looking vulnerable and brooding. He spun around and flashed that playful grin of his as soon as he saw me and, like a magnet, drew me in, my heart drumming the Marseillaise, beating my ribcage beneath my black silk evening dress. I smiled as we greeted one another in the French way, exotic spices and cedarwood wafting in the air; divine.

‘Bonjour, Noncee,’ he said, his voice like velvet. He put his glass down on the bar and took my hand. ‘It is a pleasure to meet you again.’

I gazed into his eyes, dumbstruck for a split second as my heart thumped against bone. ‘Bonjour.’ He hung onto my hand as if waiting for something. I swallowed.

Purchase Madame Fiocca Now

About the Author

img_1957-2I live with my family on the edge of the Lake District, an area that has always inspired me. After a career in healthcare, I studied creative writing and English at The Open University and fell in love with writing. Armed with a pen, a love of reading and a growing obsession with military and aviation history, I slipped seamlessly into writing historical fiction. 

Other interests include music, old movies, and photography – especially if WW2 aircraft are on the radar. I write contemporary and historical fiction. 

My debut novel, The Beauty Shop, has been awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion.

Connect with Suzy Henderson

Madame Fiocca

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Note: I am an Amazon Associate and may receive a small commission from book sales.

New Release Spotlight! Kate Carlisle’s “The Grim Reader,” a Bibliophile Mystery

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Kate Carlisle is back with a new mystery!

Grim ReaderSan Francisco book-restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright was hoping for a fun, relaxing weekend at a local book fair, but a murderer made other plans in the latest in this New York Times bestselling series.

Brooklyn and her new hunky husband, Derek, are excited to be guests at Dharma’s first annual Book Festival. The entire town is involved and Brooklyn’s mom Rebecca is taking charge. In addition to all of her other event related duties, she’s got Brooklyn doing rare book appraisals and is also staging Little Women, the musical to delight the festival goers. If that wasn’t enough, she and Meg, Derek’s mom, will have a booth where they read palms and conduct séances.

Brooklyn couldn’t be prouder of her mom’s do-it-all attitude so when a greedy local businessman who seems intent on destroying Dharma starts harassing Rebecca, Brooklyn is ready to take him down. Rebecca is able to hold her own with the nasty jerk until one of her fellow festival committee members is brutally murdered and the money for the festival seems to have vanished into thin air.

Things get even more personal when one of Brooklyn’s nearest and dearest is nearly run down in cold blood. Brooklyn and Derek go into attack mode and the pressure is on to catch a spineless killer before they find themselves skipping the festival for a funeral.

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About the Author

Kate CarlisleNew York Times bestselling author Kate Carlisle is a native Californian who worked in television production for many years before turning to writing. It was a lifelong fascination with the art and craft of bookbinding that led her to write the Bibliophile Mysteries, featuring Brooklyn Wainwright, whose bookbinding and restoration skills invariably uncover old secrets, treachery and murder. Her first book, Homicide in Hardcover, debuted in February 2010, followed by If Books Could Kill, The Lies That Bind, Murder Under Cover, One Book in the Grave.

With the publication of A High-End Finish in November 2014, Kate launched the Fixer-Upper Mysteries featuring building contractor Shannon Hammer, who specializes in Victorian home renovation and repair. The series is set in Lighthouse Cove, a seemingly idyllic town with many dark secrets hiding under its floorboards. Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel is bringing the Fixer-Upper Mysteries to TV in a series of movies starring Jewel and Colin Ferguson. The first movie premiered in January 2017, the second less than three months later, with plans to film several more.

Kate is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and Romance Writers of America. She is the proud recipient of the Golden Heart and Daphne du Maurier awards, and her first Bibliophile Mystery received a Best First Mystery nomination from RT Book Reviews. Kate loves to travel and read and drink good wine and watch other people cook.

Visit Kate online at www.KateCarlisle.com, where you’ll find a Secret Room filled with lots of bonus content, such as maps and character lists!)

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