Book Spotlight — Millstone of Doubt

3 Oct

A Bow Street Runner and a debutante in London Society use their skills to find the killer of a wealthy businessman, but the killer’s secrets aren’t the only ones they will uncover. 

Caught in the explosion of the Hammersmith Mill in London, Bow Street runner Daniel Swann rushes to help any survivors only to find the mill’s owner dead of an apparent gunshot–but no sign of the killer.
Even though the owner’s daughter, Agatha Montgomery, mourns his death, she may be the only one. It seems there are more than a few people with motive for murder. But Daniel can’t take this investigation slow and steady. Instead, he must dig through all the suspects as quickly as he can because the clock is ticking until his mysterious patronage–and his job as a runner–comes to an abrupt and painful end. It seems to Daniel that, like his earthly father, his heavenly Father has abandoned him.
Lady Juliette Thorndike is Agatha’s bosom friend and has the inside knowledge of the wealthy London ton to be invaluable to Daniel. She should be in a perfect position to help with the case. But when her trusted instructor in the art of spy craft orders her to stay out of the investigation, Lady Juliette obeys. That is, until circumstances intervene, and she drops right into the middle of the deadly pursuit.

When a dreadful accident ends in another death on the mill floor, Daniel discovers a connection to his murder case–and to his own secret past. Now he and Juliette are in a race to find the killer before his time runs out.

**************

EXCERPT

“This way.” Lifting his lapel to cover his mouth and nose, Daniel

made his way under a sagging beam toward the side of the warehouse that faced the river. Outside, a landing and a set of stairs hugged the side of the building, leading to a walkway over the waterwheel and the mill race that had been built to force water over the giant paddles. The wheel turned, but off balance, wobbling as if it had become disconnected from the shaft. Daniel gripped the railing, dizziness overtaking him as he looked down on the moving water.

Get hold of yourself, man. It won’t do for you to lose your head and need rescuing too. He steadied himself, refusing to show weakness in front of the viscount.

The walkway twisted around a corner and, though flat, felt as if it gained in elevation as the ground fell away beneath the supports. When Daniel navigated the water-splashed planks to the bend, his heart rate increased. He had no head for heights. On this side of the building, though the glass had been blown from the windows, no flames appeared. The villagers must be winning against the fire.

At the far end of the walkway, where it terminated against the stone wall, a man lay on his back, head and feet dangling, close to over- balancing and tipping into the river. As Daniel approached, the man stirred.

“Have a care. Don’t fall into the water.” Daniel touched his shoulder. “Easy . . . let me help you.” He put his hand under the man’s elbow and assisted him. “Slowly until you see if you’re injured.”

“What happened?” Grimaces accompanied every movement. “There was an explosion. Part of the mill is on fire, and you must have been knocked unconscious by the blast. Were you out here working on the wheel?”

The man blinked. “An explosion?” He put his hand to his head. “Working on the wheel? Of course, I wasn’t working on the wheel. I’m not a warehouseman.” He tried to straighten his waistcoat, which was too fine to belong to a laborer. “I’m an accountant. A man of numbers.”

Daniel studied the open window above them. “Then Someone was looking out for you, sir. You could have been blown into the water quite easily.” He pointed to the foaming water pouring off the water- wheel. “Let us get you to a less precarious spot.”

“You said it was an explosion?” The man groaned. “Mr. Montgomery was afraid of this, but I never thought they would do it. I thought it was all talk. Threats, nothing more.” The man remained rooted to the walkway, swaying slightly, squinting as if the sunlight reflecting off the water was too bright for his eyes.

Daniel’s attention sharpened. “Threats? Was someone threatening to do something like this?”

Nodding—and then wincing as if he regretted it—he spoke over the sound of the water rushing below. “Luddites. Anarchists. There was a message nailed to the door last week, and there have been others, letters. Mr. Montgomery was bringing in new methods, new machinery, which would increase the production of the mill while reducing the workforce needed to operate it.” Despite his lurching condition, the man paused to puff out his chest a bit and smooth his hair. “At my suggestion, of course. Mr. Montgomery relies upon me heavily for advice and direction in his business affairs.”

“What did the note say? Do you know who left it?” Daniel kept hold of the man’s elbow, but his detective’s curiosity took hold.

The man gripped the handrail and limped along the walkway. “I don’t know who wrote it, only that it promised retribution if we let workers go. It could have been anyone who works here or any of a dozen groups of rabble-rousers who are against progress.”

A hot coal of anger burned hard in Daniel’s gut. His initial hunch was confirmed. Violence to get attention. With no thought of the dam- age done to people and possessions. There would be no flour milled at this site for a long time, if ever again. Every man employed here was now without work. Every family who needed flour would have to find another source.

“Come. We’ll sort it out when we stand on firm ground.” Daniel handed the man up the steps to where Coatsworth waited and followed them both through the warehouse out into the street.

When they finally stood in the lane, Daniel asked, “Your name, sir?” He might prove a useful source of information as the investigation began.

“Mr. Earnshaw. Hubert Earnshaw. I am Mr. Montgomery’s accountant, both personal and business.” He didn’t seem to realize he had already told Daniel his occupation. “I had an appointment with Mr. Montgomery. The hallway from the milling floor was blocked by a cart that had overturned, and men were shoveling spilled flour. The air was thick with dust. I had to go around through the warehouse to enter from that direction. Mr. Coombe was there, carrying a toolbox . . . which is odd, because he doesn’t usually do manual labor. He’s the mill manager.”

“Mr. Earnshaw, where are the offices located? I need to find Montgomery.”

“The hallway to the left.” He pointed into the warehouse. “His office overlooks the race and wheel, though how he can stand the noise is beyond me. He says he likes the sight of the moving water.”

“Right. I’ll go back. Mr. Earnshaw, head that direction, and you’ll find people who can help you.” Daniel pointed up the lane toward where the Thorndike carriage sat at the far end. He caught sight of his cloak, still draped around Lady Juliette. She was bent over someone lying on the ground, and the red sash indicated the man next to her was Duke von Lowe.

Daniel shoved down the uncomfortable feeling in his chest at seeing them together and entered the warehouse once more.

Coatsworth, to his credit, followed Daniel back into the building, and this time they went deeper into the structure, entering the passage that must lead to the offices. At the far end of the stone hallway, shadows moved through the smoke and steam, pouring water on hot spots. Soot streaked the walls of the passageway. The machines and inner workings of the mill must have been destroyed, but perhaps the structure could be saved.

Montgomery would have a long task ahead of him to rebuild.

Two bodies lay in the hallway, strewn atop a pile of half-burned flour sacks that had spilled from a cart. This must be where they had been shoveling the flour Earnshaw mentioned. Daniel checked both men but found no sign of life. The blast must have sucked all the air out of the hallway and tossed them hard against the stone wall. He shook his head at the viscount and checked the office door opposite.

The top half of the door had once contained a glass window, but that opening now gaped. The rest of the door looked as if a sneeze would disintegrate it.

A blizzard of paper—some with charred edges—lay in drifts over every surface, and in the center of the room, sprawled like an abandoned rag doll, lay Mr. Montgomery.

Daniel rattled the door handle, surprised when the door remained firm. It was sturdier than he had thought. He reached through the broken glass to open it from the inside, but nothing happened. Feeling lower, he tried to locate the key, but only the keyhole met his fingertips. “Stand back,” he said to the viscount, who peered over Daniel’s shoulder before shouting “Garfield!” upon seeing Mr. Montgomery on the floor.

Daniel shoved him away, stepped back a pace, and raised his boot, kicking hard at the latch. Thankfully, the door splintered, rocketing open and thudding against the wall before listing on its hinges.

Coatsworth nearly ran Daniel over getting to Montgomery’s side. “Garfield.” He dropped to his knees and took the man’s hand, leaning over to press his ear to his chest.

“Is he alive?” Daniel squatted and touched Montgomery’s neck.

Nothing. He brushed aside some debris, and his hand stilled.

A perfectly round hole perforated Mr. Garfield Montgomery’s forehead.

He had not been pulped by the explosion. He had been shot.

***************

PURCHASE LINKS

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKSHOP | GOODREADS

Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling author and ACFW Carol Award winner and has been a Romantic Times top pick for her previous books. She loves Jesus, history, romance, and watching sports. This transplanted Kansan now makes her home in Rochester, Minnesota.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | BOOKBUB | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADSNEWSLETTER

Blog Tour + Giveaway! — Covert Danger

29 Sep

Covert Danger JustRead Blog + Review Tour
Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for Covert Danger by Jerusha Agen, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Covert Danger

Title: Covert Danger
Series: Guardians Unleashed #2
Author: Jerusha Agen
Publisher: SDG Words, LLC
Release Date: September 22, 2022
Genre: Christian, Romantic Suspense

A K-9 protection team. An assassin. Only one can survive.

An assassin is on the loose in the Twin Cities, aiming to kill FBI witnesses the Phoenix K-9 Security and Detection Agency is hired to protect. Rogue CIA agent Amalia Pérez and her protection K-9 must get the edge on this deadly opponent before he kills her childhood best friend—the only man who knows her true identity.

Investigative journalist Michael Barrett can’t believe his eyes when the woman he’s spent years searching for walks back into his life. But he soon fears the woman he loved is lost forever beneath the secrets Amalia wears like armor.

As the assassin closes in, Amalia will risk anything to keep Michael safe—anything except believing in the God he trusts. When the layers of deception become as dangerous as bullets, can Amalia and Michael uncover the truth in time to stop the assassin from completing his lethal mission?

EXCERPT

“Trouble?” Michael’s voice, different but familiar at the same time, beckoned Amalia to turn around.

She could leave now. She’d accomplished what she needed to. Activating her radio earpiece, she smiled as she moved toward the door. “Patrol duty.”

Raksa emitted a low rumble.

She jerked toward the K-9.

He stared at the patio doors, his erect ears trained forward. 

“Is he growling at me?” Michael watched the dog with raised eyebrows.

“What is it, boy?”

A bark burst from Raksa’s deep chest, and he lunged toward the doors, hit the end of the leash. He barked and snarled as he pulled hard.

“Get down!” She released the leash, sprinted for Michael. Threw herself into his torso.

A suppressed shot sounded.

Glass splintered as they crashed to the floor.

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository | IndieBound | BookBub


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jerusha Agen

Jerusha Agen imagines danger around every corner, but knows God is there, too. So naturally, she writes romantic suspense infused with the hope of salvation in Jesus Christ. Jerusha loves to hang out with her big furry dogs and little furry cats, often while reading or watching movies.

Connect with Jerusha by visiting JerushaAgen.com to follow her on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.


TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive a $50 Barnes & Noble gift card, a signed Covert Danger paperback, plus a Covert Danger mug and swag.

Covert Danger JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight September 26, 2022 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on October 3, 2022. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

Top 10 Tuesday — Fancy Fonts!

27 Sep

Today’s TTT is all about typography — book covers where the title takes center stage. I went with fancy fonts as my focus. I have a mix of those I have read and some on my TBR list. There are a lot of great books on the list; hope you find one to love!

For more, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top 10 Fancy Fonts!

As Dawn Breaks by Kate Breslin

Dangerous Beauty by Melissa Koslin

Every Word Unsaid by Kimberly Duffy

Healing Skye by Janet W. Ferguson

In Search of A Prince by Toni Shiloh

Jane And The Year Without A Summer by Stephanie Baron

The Premonition at Withers Farm by Jaime Jo Wright

The Sings My Soul by Amy K. Sorrells

To Love A Viking by Heather Day Gilbert and Jen Cudmore

Where The Blue Sky Begins by Katie Powner

First Line Friday — Sunburst

23 Sep

Happy Friday! I am on my last day of vacation with a final day in Edinburgh. I wrote this post two days before we boarded our plane to London, so I’m crossing my fingers that I have had a wonderful trip! 😉 Today I am sharing the second book in Susan May Warren‘s Sky King Ranch series, Sunburst, which is on my TBR list. My book club loved book one, Sunrise, and some members have read this one too and given it high marks. Let me know if you’ve read it and what you thought.

Here’s the first line:

Ranger wasn’t here to get into trouble, but wow, she was pretty.

When former Navy SEAL and lifelong bachelor Ranger Kingston is called upon to take part in a rescue mission to save his brother Colt, who has been kidnapped by terrorists in Nigeria, he is shocked to find among the hostages a woman he knows and could never forget.

Noemi Sutton was attempting to return a young girl to her family in Boko Haram territory when she and the girl found themselves taken hostage, along with several others. 

And while Ranger Kingston may be able to get the hostages away from their captors, he’ll need Noemi’s help if he ever hopes to get out of Nigeria alive.

Her solution? Pose as husband and wife. But when her uncle discovers the union, he insists on a traditional Nigerian wedding–binding Noemi to a man destined to break her heart. Worse, she’s discovered the real reason she was kidnapped, and anyone around her is bound to be caught in the cross fire. Including her so-called new husband.

She’ll need to figure out a way to leave the man she loves if she wants to save his life.

Mini-Book Review: The Souls of Lost Lake

21 Sep

Jaime Jo Wright is the queen of spooky, and The Souls of Lost Lake is no exception! The dual timeline features a young woman who everyone suspects of murdering her family, yet there’s no evidence and plenty of skepticism that a child could carry out such a heinous crime. Years later Ava Coons has become a campfire story to scare the daylights out of kids! Wren grew up with the stories, but now suspects that a missing child is somehow tied to the legend. I loved both stories as told by Wright. To get the scoop on what really happened decades before, and have a modern mystery to solve, was a treat for this reader. And when I say spooky, I mean it! Especially a creepy porcelain doll that shows up in unexpected places — shiver-y goodness. The title is appropriate as people can be lost in so many ways. While throughout their lives, Wren and Ava feel disconnected from others, they find a sense of place and acceptance. Wright kept me guessing until the very end of the book. I didn’t see either ending coming!

The Souls of Lost Lake is perhaps my favorite of all of Wright’s books, and that is saying a lot. It definitely is a highly recommended read. Just make sure you keep the light on. 😉

Highly Recommended.

Audience: Adults.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To save the innocent, they must face an insidious evil.

Wren Blythe has long enjoyed living in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, helping her father with ministry at a youth camp. But when a little girl in the area goes missing, an all-out search ensues, reviving the decades-old campfire story of Ava Coons, the murderess who is believed to still roam the forest. Joining the search, Wren stumbles upon the Coonses’ cabin ruins and a sinister mystery she is determined to unearth.

In 1930, Ava Coons has spent the last several years carrying the mantle of mystery since the day she emerged from the woods as a thirteen-year-old girl, spattered with blood, dragging a logger’s ax. She has accepted she will never remember what happened to her family, whose bodies were never found, and that the people of Tempter’s Creek will always blame her for their violent deaths. And after a member of the town is murdered, and another goes missing, rumors spread that Ava’s secret is perhaps more malicious than previously imagined.

Two women, separated by time, must confront a wickedness that not only challenges who they are but also threatens their lives, and the lives of those they love.

Daphne du Maurier and Christy Award-Winning author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing suspenseful, mysteries stained with history’s secrets. Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimewrightbooks.com!

Top 10 Tuesday — Fall TBR

20 Sep

I can’t wait until it is Fall here in the sunny South. High temperatures are still in the mid-80s where I live, but we have had a hint of cool-ish air in the mornings. Not enough to declare it is sweater weather, but it’s promising. 😉 I have a lot of great books on my TBR list spanning a number of genres. There should be something on my list to pique everyone’s interest!

For more Fall TBR Lists, head to That Artsy Reader Girl.

Fall TBR List

Concrete Evidence by DiAnn Mills

Crossfire by Lynette Eason

Dangerous Beauty by Melissa Koslin

Deception by Patricia Bradley

The Lady’s Mine by Francine Rivers

A Night to Remember by Danny and Wanda Pelfrey

The Premonition at Withers Farm by Jaime Jo Wright

A Stranger’s Game by Colleen Coble

Turn to Me by Becky Wade

Where The Blue Sky Begins by Katie Powner

First Line Friday — Concrete Evidence

16 Sep

Concrete Evidence, the newest romantic suspense from DiAnn Mills is on my Fall TBR List. It’s one of the books that is headed with me to the UK. Not sure if I’ll have time to complete it with our whirlwind travel itinerary, but I’ll be posting my thoughts in October. For now, here’s the first line:

Avery Elliott spurred her horse across one of the thirty-five thousand rolling acres of the Brazos River Ranch in the blazing heat.

On the family’s Brazos River Ranch in Texas, Avery Elliott helps run her grandfather’s commercial construction business. Raised by Senator Elliott, Avery has never doubted her grandfather is the man of integrity and faith she’s always believed him to be . . . until the day she finds him standing with a gun over the body of a dead man. To make matters worse, Avery’s just discovered a billing discrepancy for materials supposedly purchased for construction of the Lago de Cobre Dam.

Desperate for answers, Avery contacts FBI Special Agent Marc Wilkins for help. As Marc works to identify the dead man Avery saw, threats toward Avery create a fresh sense of urgency to pinpoint why someone wants to silence her. With a hurricane approaching the Texas coast and the structural integrity of the Lago de Cobre Dam called into question, time is running out to get to the bottom of a sinister plot that could be endangering the lives of not only Avery and her loved ones but the entire community.

Audiobook Review — Every Word Unsaid

15 Sep

I recently listened to the third of Kimberly Duffy‘s books set in India. I loved the exotic feel of Every Word Unsaid and the appreciation that main character Augusta Travers had of the uniqueness of India. This is an historical novel that features a woman’s place both in American and Indian society. If you like traveling to foreign lands, even from an armchair, then I highly recommend trying this book out.

Augusta Travers has spent the last three years avoiding the stifling expectations of New York society and her family’s constant disappointment. As the nation’s most fearless–and reviled–columnist, Gussie travels the country with her Kodak camera and spins stories for women unable to leave hearth and home. But when her adventurous nature lands her in the middle of a scandal, an opportunity to leave America offers the perfect escape. 

Arriving in India, she expects only a nice visit with childhood friends, siblings Catherine and Gabriel, and escapades that will further her career. Instead, she finds herself facing a plague epidemic, confusion over Gabriel’s sudden appeal, and the realization that what she wants from life is changing. But slowing down means facing all the hurts of her past that she’s long been trying to outrun. And that may be an undertaking too great even for her. 

Kimberly Duffy is a Long Island native currently living in Southwest Ohio. When she’s not homeschooling her four kids, she writes historical fiction that takes readers back in time and across oceans. Her books feature ahead-of-their-time heroines, evocative settings, and real-life faith. Kimberly loves trips that require a passport, recipe books, and practicing kissing scenes with her husband of 20 years. He doesn’t mind. 

You can find Kimberly at:

http://www.kimberlyduffy.com 

My Impressions:

Kimberly Duffy has ignited my imagination in her books. Every Word Unsaid is just the latest to bring another place and time to life for me. Augusta Travers, or Gussie, is a main character to love. Her need to find a place in the world, to do something important, is at odds with her family and societal expectations. But as she runs to India to photograph and document its wonders for her magazine’s readers, Gussie grows in her understanding of the world and herself. India was not all she expected, and neither is her renewed relationship with her childhood friends. Every Word Unsaid seems like a coming of age story for Augusta as she discovers the beautiful, the tragic, and the horrific world of early 1900s India. Readers will discover the tenuous place women had in society, the domination of colonial rule in everyday life, and the necessity to see people as they are — unique and valued. There’s adventure, suspense, and romance all wrapped up in a beautifully written story. (I am in awe of Duffy’s facility for creating a wonderfully crafted narrative.) You’ll fall in love with all of the characters, not just Gussie. The audiobook was excellently narrated, and I was immediately swept up in the story.

For those seeking an immersive reading experience, I highly recommend Every Word Unsaid.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: Adults.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Happy Release Day! — A Night to Remember

14 Sep

Happy release day to Danny and Wanda Pelfrey. The first book in the new Adairsville Heritage Mystery series, A Night to Remember, is now available. If you are a fan of mysteries set in small towns, then you need to check this one out! Note: the book’s setting is real life Adairsville, Georgia!

Riley Gordan is back in Adairsville, Georgia anticipating a leisurely vacation from the rigors of law school with her college friend, Trish. Then, as part of a political plot, one of her Sunday School girls is kidnapped. Stumbling upon the abduction, Riley and her friends are drawn headfirst into a search for the girl.

Their probe leads them into a fast paced and dangerous string of encounters that include a Neanderthal named Houston, searches in some of the most hazardous places in North Georgia, a green Kia Soul, an old man with a big gun, and ultimately murder.

It is an adventure that provides some unusual twists and turns and is highlighted by a beautiful relationship between an old baseball player entering politics and a spunky adolescent who are jointly known around town as “Nate and The Kid.”

Danny along with his wife, Wanda, is currently writing mysteries with a message set in Adairsville, Georgia. Four volumes in the Davis Morgan Mystery series are available. A new series, The Adairsville Heritage mystery series, now occupies much of his time. He is also active in the areas of inspiration and Georgia history. Danny is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Recently released, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO EVANGELISM?, is creating a significant stir.

Top 10 Tuesday — Geographical Titles

13 Sep

Happy Tuesday! Surprise, surprise! I am actually sticking to the topic today. It was fun looking back at the books I’ve read to find titles (and covers!) that could be found on a map, albeit a fictional one. 😉 Many genres are represented. I hope you find a book to love!

For more geographical titles, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top 10 Geographical Titles

Blackberry Beach by Irene Hannon

Bookshop by The Sea by Denise Hunter

Bride of A Distant Isle by Sandra Byrd

The Deadly Shallows by Dani Pettrey

The House at The End of The Moor by Michelle Griep

A Light on A Hill by Connilyn Cossette

On The Cliffs of Foxglove Manor by Jaime Jo Wright

A Silver Willow by The Shore by Kelli Stuart

Under The Bayou Moon by Valerie Fraser Luesse

Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin