Today, I’m featuring a historical mystery by Alana White, The Hearts of All on Fire #BlogTour

Here’s the blurb:

Florence, 1473. An impossible murder. A bitter rivalry. A serpent in the ranks.

Florentine investigator Guid’Antonio Vespucci returns to Florence from a government mission to find his dreams of success shattered. Life is good—but then a wealthy merchant dies from mushroom poisoning at Guid’Antonio’s Saint John’s Day table, and Guid’Antonio’s servant is charged with murder. Convinced of the youth’s innocence and fearful the killer may strike again, Guid’Antonio launches a private investigation into the merchant’s death, unaware that at the same time powerful enemies are conspiring to overthrow the Florentine Republic—and him. A clever, richly evocative tale for lovers of medieval and renaissance mysteries everywhere, The Hearts of All on Fire is a timeless story of family relationships coupled with themes of love, loss, betrayal and, above all, hope in a challenging world.

Buy Links:

Universal Link:  

Amazon UK: Kindle: Paperback

Amazon US: Kindle: Paperback: 

Amazon Canada: Kindle: Paperback: 

Amazon Australia: Kindle: Paperback: 

Barnes & Noble: BookshopWaterstones

Parnassus Books (Nashville, Tennessee)

Connect with Alana White

Alana White’s passion for Renaissance Italy has taken her to Florence for research on the Vespucci and Medici families on numerous occasions.  There along cobbled streets unchanged over the centuries, she traces their footsteps, listening to their imagined voices, including that of her protagonist, Guid’Antonio Vespucci and his friends, Sandro Botticelli, Michelangelo, Lorenzo de’ Medici.  

Alana’s first short story featuring real-life fifteenth-century lawyer Guid’Antonio Vespucci and his favorite nephew, Amerigo Vespucci, was a Macavity Award finalist and led to the Guid’Antonio Vespucci Mystery Series featuring “The Sign of the Weeping Virgin” (Book I) and “The Hearts of All on Fire” (Book II).  

She is a member of the Women’s National Book Association and the Historical Novel Society, among other organizations.  She loves hearing from readers, and you can contact her at her website, www.alanawhite.com

Connect with Alana

Website:  Twitter:   Facebook

LinkedInInstagramPinterest

Bookbub: Amazon Author Page: Goodreads:

Follow The Hearts of all on Fire blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club

It’s cover reveal day for #TheVeniceSecret by Anita Chapman #covereveal

One hidden painting. Two women born centuries apart. A secret uncovered.

In 2019, Rachel is stuck in a rut when she discovers what appears to be a Canaletto painting in her grandmother’s loft along with a note addressed to Philippa in 1782. With help from Jake at the local art gallery, Rachel endeavours to find out if the painting is an original and uncovers a secret from the past.

In 1780, governess at Chipford Hall, Philippa is offered the role of mistress by Earl Rupert. She escapes to Venice as companion to bluestocking, Lady Cordelia who reveals a secret that changes both their lives. They do their best to keep the secret from Lady Cordelia’s social circle, but their nemesis is determined to reveal all and ruin them.

Pre-order Link: https://amzn.to/3ES3oGy

Publication Date: 7th March 2023

Meet the Author

Anita Chapman enjoyed writing stories from a young age, and won a local writing competition when she was nine years old. Encouraged by this, she typed up a series of stories about a mouse on her mum’s typewriter and sent them to Ladybird. She received a polite rejection letter, her first.

Many of Anita’s summers growing up were spent with her family driving to Italy, and she went on to study French and Italian at university. As part of her degree, Anita lived in Siena for several months where she studied and au paired, and she spent a lot of time travelling around Italy in her twenties. 

Anita likes to read journals and diaries from the past, and one of her favourite pastimes is visiting art galleries and country houses. Her first published novel, The Venice Secret is inspired by her mother taking her to see the Canalettos at The National Gallery in London as a child. 

Since 2015, Anita has worked as a social media manager, training authors on social media, and helping to promote their books. She’s run several courses in London and York, and has worked as a tutor at Richmond and Hillcroft Adult Community College.

Connect with Anita

Website

Twitter: @neetschapman 

Facebook Page: Anita Chapman Author 

Instagram: @neetschapman 

Tik Tok: @neetschapman 

I’m delighted to feature a festive offering, Gaming Hell Christmas: Volume 2 by Amanda McCabe and Kathy L Wheeler #blogtour

Gaming Hell Christmas: Volume Two

GAMING HELL CHRISTMAS – VOLUME 2: Mysteries abound at London’s most fashionable Hell.

The Thief Who Stole Christmas – Amanda McCabe
A man who has never broken the rules, and a woman who just might break his heart! But Christmas is always a time for second chances…

As one of Miss Greensley’s Girls, a member of the exclusive club la Sous Rose, and famous author Lady L, Victoria Lanford moves easily through Society ballrooms. Few people know how her unhappy childhood and anxiety led her to pickpocketing (yet, she did return the jewels)! When she comes face-to-face with old flame Rhys Neville, Earl of Hammond, she knows the kind-hearted, straight-laced, devilishly handsome lord is not for her—especially once the past comes back to haunt them. Why, then, can’t she stop thinking about their kisses?

The Kerse Who Saved Christmas – Kathy L Wheeler
Kerse: He, of the no nonsense approach, is stymied by She, a woman considered long past prime marriageability who needs a keeper more than he requires a wife. Yet the dreamy-eyed, impractical, and much too optimistic Philomena still manages to steal his heart despite her unrealistic beliefs and trust in fortune tellers.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gaming-Hell-Christmas-Kathy-Wheeler-ebook/dp/B0B5BCKC1G/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Gaming-Hell-Christmas-Kathy-Wheeler-ebook/dp/B0B5BCKC1G/

Guest Post

Gaming Hell Christmas Volume 2 starts out much like Volume 1 in the sense of setup. For example, we have our eight characters on the Isle of Wite as the young schoolmates from Miss Greensley’s School of Comportment for Young Women of Quality. The focus, however, is on the two main characters of the stories involved, i.e., Miss Victoria Leland and Lady Philomena Staunton. So, there are intricate details that let us see how these young women came to be the women they are.  So, fun.

Excerpt

Phil brought her knees up, prepared to continue her reading on Ancient Greece, but caught a shift of movement in her peripheral vision. She turned her head, lifting her hand and shading her eyes, then groaned.

“Tori,” she hissed. “I was under the impression you had promised to quit taking items that didn’t belong to you.” 

Victoria Lanford’s auburn hair gleamed in the sunlight. Most people thought it unfashionable, but Phil envied her such a striking feature. 

Her friend’s hand froze. She wrinkled her nose, and Tori pulled her hand back, tossing Phil a puckish grin. “I just don’t wish to lose what skills I’ve acquired and used my entire life up to now. That’s all.”

“Well, that’s Augusta’s pile,” Phil retorted. “I suggest moving the next one over. It wouldn’t bother me in the least for you to relieve Thom of her blasted locket. She carries that reprehensible miniature I abhor.”

Tori jumped up and sauntering over, dropped next to Phil on the warm sand. “Please, don’t say anything.”

“I won’t,” Phil told her begrudgingly. “Honestly, though, I detest that locket.” Her twin took every opportunity to flick it open and point out the differences between herself and Thom—difficult in most cases but for a dimple they each sported that mirrored one another’s. Phil’s was in her left cheek. “The artist didn’t care for me and painted me with a glum expression. I suppose I could hide the silly thing.”

  “Sadly,” Tori informed her on a resigned sigh, “everyone would instantly believe that it was I who had filched it.”

Phil and Tori sat beneath the trees where a breeze lightly ruffled their braids, considering Tori’s fact. The sun, high and bright in the sky made it tempting to dash into the water, but Phil was deathly afraid of being swept out to sea. 

“I suppose I shall just have to smash it in a fit of pique in front of Thom,” Phil said after a time. 

Tori laughed. 

Likely because everyone agreed Phil was the least temperamental of all their friends.

“There’s a fortune teller at the fair in Nettlestone,” Tori said, her eyes squinting into the sun. “We should visit.”

Phil’s spine straightened. How intriguing

So, we learn three important things here:

  1. Victoria is a thief
  2. Phil fears water, and
  3. Phil shows a piqued interest in fortune telling.

Then, of course, the hope is the reader is intrigued enough to dive into both stories and love them as much as we loved writing them.

Meet Amanda

Amanda wrote her first romance at the age of sixteen–a vast historical epic starring all her friends as the characters, written secretly during algebra class (and her parents wondered why math was not her strongest subject…)

She’s never since used algebra, but her books have been nominated for many awards, including the RITA Award, the Romantic Times BOOKReviews Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Booksellers Best, the National Readers Choice Award, and the Holt Medallion.  She lives in Santa Fe with a Poodle, a cat, a wonderful husband, and a very and far too many books and royal memorabilia collections. 

When not writing or reading, she loves taking dance classes, collecting cheesy travel souvenirs, and watching the Food Network–even though she doesn’t cook.

Connect with Amanda McCabe

 https://www.facebook.com/amandamccabebooks/

https://www.instagram.com/amandamccabeauthor/

https://www.facebook.com/amandamccabebooks

https://twitter.com/AmandaMcCabe01

Meet Kathy L Wheeler

Kathy L Wheeler loves the NFL, the NBA, musical theater (don’t ask how her how many times she’s seen Phantom of the Opera (12); or Wicked (7)), travel, (Europe, Grand Cayman, Mexico, All over the US), reading (practically a book a night), writing (35 books and counting) and karaoke (well….what can I say). She assists other authors in critiquing, formatting, and creating covers for their publishing dreams.

She writes contemporary and historical stories where the heroines save themselves and the heroes who honor their courage with suspense and humor.

She lives in the Pacific Northwest US with her musically talented, lawyer husband, and their adorable dog Angel (who lives up to her name…mostly).

Connect with Kathy L Wheeler

https://kathylwheeler.com

https://kathylwheeler.com/blog/

https://twitter.com/kathylwheeler

Follow the Gaming Hell Christmas Volume II blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources

I’m delighted to be sharing the new cover for Holly Bush’s brand new #HistoricalRomance, The Captain’s Woman #BlogTour

Here’s the blurb:

Meet the Thompsons of Locust Street, an unconventional family taking Philadelphia high society by storm…

1870 ~ Muireall Thompson has taken her duties seriously since her parents died on the family’s crossing from Scotland to America in 1854. As the eldest sibling, their death made her responsible for her family and left little time for a life of her own. But now her brothers and sisters are adults; even the youngest is nearly ready to face the world on his own. What will she do when she is alone, other than care for an elderly aunt and volunteer at the Sisters of Charity orphanage? Has the chance for a husband and children of her own passed her by?

Widower Anthony Marcus, formerly a captain in the Union Army, is a man scraping the bottom of his dignity and hanging on to his honor by the barest thread. Reduced to doing odd jobs to keep a roof over his dear daughter Ann’s head, he often leaves her with the Sisters of Charity while he is out seeking steady work with a decent salary that will allow him to move from their single-room living quarters.

After an initial meeting that finds Muireall and Anthony at odds, a tentative friendship forms as they bond over their mutual affection for Ann. As friendship leads to passion, can a wealthy spinster and a poor soldier overcome their differences in station to forge a future together? Just as Muireall finds the courage to reach for her own happiness, Anthony’s past rises up between them and an old enemy reemerges to bring the Thompson family down once and for all. Will the divide between them be insurmountable, or can they put aside pride and doubt for a love worth fighting for?

Buy Links:

International Buy Link: 

Amazon US:   Amazon UK:   Amazon CA:   Amazon AU:  

KoboiBooks:   Barnes & Noble:    Google Books:  

Meet the author

Holly Bush writes historical romance set in the U.S.in the late 1800’s, in Victorian England, and an occasional Women’s Fiction title. Her books are described as emotional, with heartfelt, sexy romance. She makes her home with her husband in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  Connect with Holly at www.hollybushbooks.com and on Twitter @hollybushbooks and on Facebook at Holly Bush.

Connect with Holly

WebsiteTwitterFacebook

Book Bub:  Amazon Author PageGoodreads

Follow The Captain’s Woman cover reveal blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club

Today, I’m sharing an exciting post by Michael L. Ross about his new book, The Founding, Book 3 in Across the Divide #historicalfiction #biographicalfiction #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub

I’m delighted to welcome Michael L. Ross to the blog, with a post about his new book, The Founding.

The Founding follows the earthquake changes that the railroad made to American business and society during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Through the eyes of my fictional characters, Julia and Hiram Johannsen, the railroad itself almost becomes another major character. Julia is the sister of the main character, Will Crump. In order to do an effective job with telling the story of the railroad, I had to research and plot the timeline of the many different railroads that pushed south and west across America during the period 1868-1909. 

The figure of robber baron Jason “Jay” Gould looms over the story, as he went from a tannery business to partner in the Erie Railroad to the major force behind the Union Pacific Railroad. The UP swallowed many other lines in its march to the Pacific Ocean. 

Julia was a businesswoman at a time when it was uncommon, and shepherded the Johannsen steamship line through the Civil War, while Hiram fought for the Federal army in book 1 of the series, The Clouds of War. As The Founding opens, Julia and Hiram’s business is in danger from the encroaching railroads, financed from New York and Europe. They must adapt or perish. 

The Atchison, Topeka, Santa Fe promised a new rail line that could save them. For my research, I delved into the railroad’s history, largely through Keith L. Bryant Jr.’s non-fiction account, History of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway, and local records in the Newton, Kansas historical society. The ATSF and the Kansas Pacific railroads sought to go through Kansas from east to west, and south through Indian Territory (Oklahoma) to Santa Fe, and California. At every turn, Jay Gould bought up lines and pounced on the business, making it very tough indeed to compete. The Life and Legend of Jay Gould by Maury Klein follows Gould’s life in great detail, chronicling the schemes and deals that made Gould famous and feared. 

The railroad story is a complex one, and many managers came and went. The road to success was complicated by the financial panic of 1873, where many railroads went bankrupt in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian war. European countries had invested heavily in American railroads via bonds, and the end of the war with German victory brought the collapse of the Jay Cook Company, whose bonds financed railroad expansion. 

Two historical tidbits turned up in research that was of great interest and impacted the book. First, the famous joining of the railroads at Promontory Point, Utah to form the transcontinental railroad wasn’t truly transcontinental at first. It was thought that no one could build a bridge across the Missouri River, and at the time the Golden Spike was driven, the Union Pacific stopped at the river, and picked up on the other side. For a period of time, the locomotives had to be ferried across. Then the Kansas Pacific helped to build the Hannibal Bridge, a unique design that swung a bridge section sideways to allow steamboat river traffic, then back into a contiguous bridge across the river. Without electricity, and using only gravity, gears, and river power, it was a major engineering feat, truly uniting the east and western portions of the United States by rail. 

Second, in Chicago, a man named George Hammond filed a patent for a refrigerated railroad car, in 1868. Within two years, Hammond was selling refrigerated meat to the tune of two million dollars annually. Railroad lines that had invested heavily in stockyards in Chicago and elsewhere were reluctant to adopt the new cars, but progress marched forward as demand for beef in the east increased. In The Founding, Hiram and Julia make use of both of these inventions to outsmart Gould, and in real life, Gould was slow to pick up on them. The refrigerated cars spawned a large meat packing business in Fort Worth, Texas, and with the expansion of the railroad, completely eliminated the need for the cattle drives of western movies. Within a decade, Hammond’s new plant in Omaha, Nebraska, was slaughtering over 100,000 cattle a year and moving a fleet of 800 refrigerator cars. Gustavus Swift improved the design of refrigerated cars.1 During the 1850s, when he was still a teenager, Gustavus F. Swift started to work in the beef business in Massachusetts. In 1875, Swift began buying cattle in Chicago to send to his family’s butcher operations back East. He quickly revolutionized the meat industry by using newly developed refrigerated railcars to ship fresh meat from Chicago to Eastern markets. The company soon set up a national network of branch offices, which allowed it to control the distribution of its meat across the country. By 1886, when the company slaughtered more than 400,000 cattle a year, Swift employed about 1,600 people. Between 1887 and 1892, new packing plants were opened in Kansas City, Omaha, and St. Louis. By the time the founder died in 1903, his company grossed $200 million in annual sales and employed about 23,000 people across the country.2[1]

These inventions allowed our fictional characters to gain capital to beat Gould, temporarily, at his own game. 

As railroads advanced, many new towns were founded. Whether the railroad’s route included a particular town could mean the difference between death and survival for the town. Often towns paid handsome sums to the railroads to influence the route. Dallas paid a large cash bounty to gain three railroad lines running through it, cementing it as a center of Texas commerce. In 1860, Dallas only had 261 people. By 1900, it had 82,726.3

Often the town was required to pay for a depot, as well as show that there would be sufficient freight and passenger traffic to warrant choosing a route through the town. In Nicodemus, the citizens raised $16,000 for a depot, with great hopes. There was lots of politics and influence peddling. 

Lubbock, Texas, the other town in this book, was initially unsuccessful in wooing the railroad. However, with persistence, growth, and the fact that it was racially white, the town fathers, including Will Crump, were successful in the end. 

Image: Public Domain

[1] https://www.saddleandsirloinportraitfoundation.org/post/george-henry-hammond-inducted-in-1953-or-1954

2Encyclopedia of Chicago

Dallas population

Thank you so much for sharing such a fascinating post.

Here’s the blurb:

Two men, two dreams, two new towns on the plains, and a railroad that will determine whether the towns—one black, one white—live or die. 

Will Crump has survived the Civil War, Red Cloud’s War, and the loss of his love, but the search for peace and belonging still eludes him. From Colorado, famed Texas Ranger Charlie Goodnight lures Will to Texas, where he finds new love, but can a Civil War sharpshooter and a Quaker find a compromise to let their love survive? When Will has a chance to join in the founding of a new town, he risks everything—his savings, his family, and his life—but it will all be for nothing if the new railroad passes them by.

Luther has escaped slavery in Kentucky through Albinia, Will’s sister, only to find prejudice rearing its ugly head in Indiana. When the Black Codes are passed, he’s forced to leave and begin a new odyssey. Where can he and his family go to be truly free? Can they start a town owned by blacks, run by blacks, with no one to answer to? But their success will be dependent on the almighty railroad and overcoming bigotry to prove their town deserves the chance to thrive.

Will’s eldest sister, Julia, and her husband, Hiram, are watching the demise of their steamboat business and jump into railroads, but there’s a long black shadow in the form of Jay Gould, the robber baron who ruthlessly swallows any business he considers competition. Can Julia fight the rules against women in business, dodge Gould, and hold her marriage together?

The Founding tells the little-known story of the Exodusters and Nicodemus, the black town on the plains of Kansas, and the parallel story of Will’s founding of Lubbock, Texas, against the background of railroad expansion in America. A family reunited, new love discovered, the quest for freedom, the rise of two towns. In the end, can they reach Across the Great Divide? The Founding is the exciting conclusion to the series.

Praise for The Founding:

“Michael is an excellent storyteller and has done a wonderful job depicting Luther, and the other black characters in this book.  He has done his homework and depicts many historical facts about Nicodemus in a most enlightening and creative way.  It has been a pleasure working with someone who has made a concerted effort to get things right.  

~ Angela Bates

Nicodemus Descendant/Historian

Executive Director

The Nicodemus Historical Society and Museum

Buy Links:

Universal Link

Amazon UK: Amazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU

Meet the author

Michael Ross is a lover of history and great stories.

He’s a retired software engineer turned author, with three children, and five grandchildren, living in Newton, Kansas with his wife of 39 years. Michael graduated from Rice University and Portland State University with degrees in German and software engineering. He was part of an MBA program at Boston University. 

Michael was born in Lubbock, Texas, and still loves Texas. He’s written short stories and technical articles in the past, as well as articles for the Texas Historical Society. 

Across the Great Divide now has three novels in the series, “The Clouds of War”, and “The Search”, and the conclusion, “The Founding”.  “The Clouds of War” was an honorable mention for Coffee Pot Book of the Year in 2019, and an Amazon #1 best seller in three categories, along with making the Amazon top 100 paid, reviewed in Publisher’s Weekly. “The Search” won Coffee Pot Cover of the Year in 2020, and Coffee Pot Silver Medal for Book of the Year in 2020, as well as short listed for the Chanticleer International Book Laramie Award. 

Connect with Michael:

WebsiteTwitterFacebook: 

LinkedInInstagram:  

Book Bub: Amazon Author PageGoodreads

Follow the Across the Great Divide blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club

Welcome to History Writers Day 2022

Welcome to History Writers Day (weekend) 2022, organised by the fabulous @Book2Cover on Twitter. Started last year, this is a weekend of History Writers sharing their books, special offers, and just an opportunity to celebrate all things history and historical fiction. That it just about coincides with the first-year book birthday for The Automobile Assassination is excellent.

So, first, a little bit about myself. I mainly write stories set in Saxon England in the years before the events of 1066. Whereas some authors might write a series in a few different periods, I’ve opted to tell as many stories from the 600 years of Saxon England as possible. Starting in the seventh century, and running up to about the 1040s (at the moment – the series will run up to 1066 when it’s finished), there is so much material to work with. I tend to write about the ‘lost’ characters, and events, and I love battles and politics, and sometimes, a bit of a love story as well. But mainly fighting, and politics. I enjoy a war of words just as much as a war of swords:) And my characters are likely to be a bit ‘fresh’ with their language (The Ninth Century series – I’m looking at you).

And, when I’m after a bit of light relief, I write the odd 20th-century mystery because sometimes I just want my characters to be able to get into a car and not worry about their horse.

For History Writers Day, I have paperbacks for sale on the blog, (which I hope will work), and I’m also running a competition to win a signed copy of The Automobile Assassination and Warrior of Mercia (2 separate prizes). Just sign up for my newsletter, and receive a free short story set after the events of the Gods and Kings trilogy, and I will pick two lucky winners. I will post worldwide! I will close the competition on 1st December 2022, but you will still get the free short story if you sign up after that date.

If the book you’re after isn’t available, please drop me a line at mjporterauthor@gmail.com. I do have other books in stock, but there’s just too many to pop them all on the blog.

Not in writing order, but rather, in chronological order, here are the books I’ve written. The majority are indie published, but I am also working with the wonderful Boldwood Books to bring my Saxon stories to a wider audience. An increasing number of titles are available in audio format and hardback, as well as ebook and paperback. I’m not adding lots of links other than ones for the series on my blog, but you can find my author page on Amazon here. Select titles are also available widely, including The Eagle of Mercia Chronicles, the Gods and Kings Trilogy and Cragside, a 1930s mystery.

Tales of Saxon England

Gods and Kings Trilogy (The Seventh Century) The story of the mighty pagan, Penda of Mercia

Pagan Warrior

Pagan King

Warrior Kings

The Eagle of Mercia Chronicles (The earlier Ninth-Century) Boldwood Books

Son of Mercia

Wolf of Mercia

Warrior of Mercia

Eagle of Mercia (May 2023)

The Ninth Century Mercian Series (the later Ninth-century)

The Last King

The Last Warrior

The Last Horse

The Last Enemy

The Last Sword

The Last Shield

The Last Seven

The Tenth Century Series – the forgotten women of the 10th century

The Lady of Mercia’s Daughter

A Conspiracy of Kings

Kingmaker

The King’s Daughters

The Brunanburh Series (with Boldwood Books) mid-tenth century

King of Kings (February 2023)

The Lady Elfrida Books – the tenth century – England’s first crowned queen

The First Queen of England, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

The King’s Mother

The Dowager Queen

Once A Queen

The Earls of Mercia Series (the last century of Saxon England through the eyes of the Earls of Mercia)

The Earl of Mercia’s Father

The Danish King’s Enemy

Northman Part 1 and Part 2

The King’s Earl

The Earl of Mercia

The English Earl

The Earl’s King

Viking King

The English King

The King’s Brother (June 2023)

20th-century mysteries

Cragside – A 1930s mystery

The Erdington Mysteries

The Custard Corpses

The Automobile Assassination

As a reader of historical fiction, I also have a very active blog, hosting blog tours, showcasing others writers, and sharing my love of 20th-century Golden Age mysteries and cosy crime.

Do please think about following me on your social media channel of choice, or on the blog. All links can be found here, and yes, I am also on Mastodon.

I hope you enjoy History Writers Day 2022. I know I will.

Happy Book Birthday to The Automobile Assassination (Book 2 in The Erdington Mysteries)

I don’t really need an excuse to share these wonderful photos, but a book birthday does seem like a good opportunity to do so. So below are some of the images that first inspired me to write about The Automobile Association sentry boxes in my story The Automobile Assassination.

Below is Beadnell Sentry Box, near Seahouses in Northumberland – on the road opposite Beadnell. (For anyone who doesn’t know, this is close to Bamburgh Castle AKA Bebbanburg, for fans of the Saxon period). And Ardgay Sentry Box, North Scotland, which I visited on my way to my holiday in Orkney in 2021. I had to include the view from the Ardgay sentry box, which is absolutely stunning. And it makes perfect sense as to why a sentry box would have been needed there – it is very remote.

Very few of these sentry boxes remain in their locations – and the majority are in Northern England and Scotland, and are, hopefully, now listed buildings. But, there would have been a time when these sentry boxes would have been a regular sight throughout the United Kingdom. A list of all the sentry boxes known up to 1962 reveals that there were 862 boxes (although not all of them may have been constructed) and just to add to the joy of them, these numbers make very little sense. Boxes located close together are not numbered concurrently.

Inside one of these sentry boxes would have been a telephone, and if you were lucky, a petrol canister so that you could make it to the next petrol station, if you did happen to run out of petrol. Patrolmen (yes, sadly, they were all men at the time) would have followed a specific route, to begin with on peddle bikes, but eventually using motorbikes with sidecars stuffed full of tools to help the stranded motorist. And the phone, in the 1940s, would have been answered by someone in the head office based in London.

AA members paid a subscription fee, and were then given a key which allowed access into the sentry boxes. Can you imagine how cross you’d have been to need to use the telephone only to discover you’d left your key at home. Cars also had a very dapper badge, often attached to the front grill, which proclaimed they were members. AA patrolmen were to salute to all cars showing a badge.

But enough about the sentry boxes, and the AA organisation in the 1940s. here’s the blurb for the book.

Erdington, September 1944


As events in Europe begin to turn in favour of the Allies, Chief Inspector Mason of Erdington Police Station is once more prevailed upon to solve a seemingly impossible case.

Called to the local mortuary where a man’s body lies, shockingly bent double and lacking any form of identification, Mason and O’Rourke find themselves at Castle Bromwich aerodrome seeking answers that seem out of reach to them. The men and women of the royal air force stationed there are their prime suspects. Or are they? Was the man a spy, killed on the orders of some higher authority, or is the place his body was found irrelevant? And why do none of the men and women at the aerodrome recognise the dead man?

Mason, fearing a repeat of the cold case that dogged his career for two decades and that he’s only just solved, is determined to do all he can to uncover the identity of the dead man, and to find out why he was killed and abandoned in such a bizarre way, even as Smythe demands he spends his time solving the counterfeiting case that is leaving local shopkeepers out of pocket.

Join Mason and O’Rourke as they once more attempt to solve the impossible in 1940s Erdington.

The Automobile Assassination is currently available in Prime Reading in the UK, and in Australia, and can be read in ebook, paperback, hardback and audio version (narrated by the wonderful Matt Coles). I do hope you will check out the birthday blitz.

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Rambling Mads

Celtic Lady Reviews

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Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for a new historical mystery, Chaos at Carnegie Hall by Kelly Oliver #blogtour #BoldwoodBooks

Here’s the blurb:

Agatha Christie meets Downton Abbey in the Fiona Figg and Kitty Lane Mystery series opener.

Can Fiona catch a killer and find a decent cup of tea before her mustache wax melts?

1917. New York.

Notorious spy, Fredrick Fredricks, has invited Fiona to Carnegie Hall to hear a famous soprano. It’s an opportunity the War Office can’t turn down. Fiona and Clifford are soon on their way, but not before Fiona is saddled with chaperon duties for Captain Hall’s niece. Is Fiona a spy or a glorified babysitter?

From the minute Fiona meets the soprano aboard the RMS Adriatic it’s treble on the high C’s. Fiona sees something—or someone—thrown overboard, and then she overhears a chemist plotting in German with one of her own countrymen!

And the trouble doesn’t stop when they disembark. Soon Fiona is doing time with a group of suffragettes and investigating America’s most impressive inventor Thomas Edison.

When her number one suspect turns up dead at the opera and Fredrick Fredricks is caught red-handed, it looks like it’s finally curtains for the notorious spy.

But all the evidence points to his innocence. Will Fiona change her tune and clear her nemesis’ name? Or will she do her duty? And just what is she going to do with the pesky Kitty Lane? Not to mention swoon-worthy Archie Somersby . . .

If Fiona’s going to come out on top, she’s going to have to make the most difficult decision of her life: the choice between her head and her heart.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3dMIUoT

My Review

Chaos at Carnegie Hall is a cosy historical mystery set in London, onboard a transatlantic ship during its crossing and also in New York in November 1917. We’re introduced to Fiona Figg, an enterprising young woman, a spy if you would, who is happy to don male costumes to get the answers she seeks.

I did find the beginning of the book a little confusing, but then I discovered why, for Fiona Figg isn’t a new literary creation, but this is her in a new series, complete with references to previous exploits. Once I realised this, I was flying. The backstory isn’t overly relevant, and it adds a wonderful layer of depth to the character. Fiona Figg is not new to this jig, and she knows what she’s about, despite all the men in her life trying to make it more difficult for her.

This story is bursting with historical details – the Suffragettes, events at Carnegie Hall, ‘real’ historical characters, and of course, yellow cabs – which our fine main character informs us makes it much easier to spot a cab in the snowy November conditions she’s enduring. I really enjoyed the way the story is woven around events that actually happened.

The mystery builds really well, and the attendant sidekicks of Clifford, Kitty and, of course, Poppy, the dog, really add to the ongoing mystery.

A thoroughly enjoyable historical mystery recommended for fans of the genre and with just a smidge more historical detail than some other cosy mysteries, which makes it all the more appealing to me.

Meet the Author

Kelly Oliver is the award-winning, bestselling author of three mysteries series: The Jessica James Mysteries, The Pet Detective Mysteries, and the historical cozies The Fiona Figg Mysteries, set in WW1. She is also the Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University and lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She is bringing new titles in the Fiona Figg series to Boldwood, the first of which, Chaos in Carnegie Hall, will be published in November 2022.

Connect with Kelly

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kellyoliverauthor  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kellyoliverbook  

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kelly-oliver

Follow the Chaos at Carnegie Hall blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources

It’s release day for Wolves of Wagria by Eric Schumacher #blogtour #Viking #HistoricalFiction #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub 

Here’s the blurb:

Three kingdoms. Two friends. Only one way to survive.

For fans of Bernard Cornwell and Conn Iggulden comes the tale of Olaf Tryggvason and his adventures in the battle-scarred kingdom of Wagria.

It is AD 972. Olaf Tryggvason and his oath-sworn protector, Torgil, are once again on the move. They have left the Rus kingdom and now travel the Baltic Sea in search of plunder and fame. But a fateful storm lands them on the Vendish coastline in a kingdom called Wagria.

There, they find themselves caught between the aggression of the Danes, the political aspirations of the Wagrian lords, and the shifting politics in Saxland. Can they survive or will they become just one more casualty of kingly ambitions? 

Find out in this harrowing sequel to the best-selling Forged by Iron and Sigurd’s Swords.

Buy Links:

This book is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.

Universal Link

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Meet the Author

Eric Schumacher discovered his love for writing and medieval European history at a very early age, as well as authors like J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Bernard Cornwell, Jack Whyte, and Wilbur Smith. Those discoveries fueled his imagination and continue to influence the stories he tells. His first novel, God’s Hammer, was published in 2005.

You can follow Eric Schumacher on Amazon or by joining his newsletter at https://www.ericschumacher.net/readers-club.

Connect with Eric

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LinkedInBook BubAmazon Author PageGoodreads: 

Follow the Wolves of Wagria blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club