Author Interview + Spotlight: “Murder at the Picture Show” by Miranda Atchley

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Miranda Atchley’s new historical mystery, Murder at the Picture Show! Miranda has graciously answered my interview questions. Read on for more about the book and enter her blog tour giveaway at the end!

About the Book

Lights. Camera. Murder.

On an autumn evening in New York City, amateur sleuth Fiona Clery and her partner Max Gillespie attend the picture house for the premiere of a silent film shot in their city. The night is filled with excitement and glamor…until the star of the film, Sylvie Boscombe, is murdered. Unable to sit back with a killer on the loose, Fiona pursues the case, leading her across the city, from opulent neighborhoods, to film sets, to the underground speakeasies Sylvie frequented. When a man she believes to be innocent is arrested for the murder, Fiona’s search becomes all the more urgent. Can she solve the case before it’s too late?

Meanwhile, Max gets a shocking surprise about his past that could offer answers to questions he has long held. And Fiona makes a discovery regarding her missing sister that could blow the case wide open.

BUY MURDER AT THE PICTURE SHOW

Miranda Atchley is a history enthusiast and complete bookworm whose passion for books and times gone by have compelled her to write several novels, one of which was a finalist for an indie writing award. When not writing at her home in Arkansas’s Ouachita Mountains, Miranda loves getting lost in a good book, spending time with her dogs, watching period dramas, and learning about her favorite period in time, the 1920s. Visit her blog at: mirandaatchley.blogspot.com

CONNECT WITH MIRANDA

Goodreads | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

Thank you, Miranda, for stopping by for an interview today! Let’s get started by talking about your current series. What inspired you to write the Fiona Clery Mystery series?

Fiona appeared in the fourth book in my previous series, The Abi Hensley Series. When Abi and her maid/friend Meg (Fiona’s sister) traveled to Europe, making a stop in Ireland to visit the Clery family, I thought Fiona was such an interesting character and knew she had to have her own series. As it was revealed that Fiona and her parents would be immigrating to the U.S., I found the idea of being a twenty-something coming to America in the 1920s, which seems like such a fun time to be a young person, the perfect idea for a new series. I was also reading the Sherlock Holmes mysteries at the time, and I really wanted to try my hand at writing my own mysteries.

What is the inspiration behind your Fiona’s personality?

Fiona has a layered personality. She’s incredibly smart and curious, but she’s also fun loving and has a dry sense of humor. And she’s very headstrong. Parts of her personality were inspired by Tuppence Cowley from one of my favorite books, Agatha Christie’s The Secret Adversary; a fearless “bright young thing” who charges head-on into the world of sleuthing. She also has a dash of Sherlock Holmes, with his keen observations, and a bit of Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice fame, particularly inspired by the line, “She had a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in anything ridiculous.”

What spiritual message or theme do you want to communicate to readers with this story?

When we think of the 1920s, we think of flappers dancing the Charleston and men driving pretty cars and people just generally having a good time. But underneath that, there was a lot of grief. The people of the 1920s had just lived through the First World War and the Spanish Flu pandemic, both of which claimed thousands of lives, and they both affected every person one way or another. It isn’t altogether different from things we are experiencing today. Seeing so much death leads people to wonder why? And it’s okay to wonder why these things happen. Yet there are some things in this life that we can’t understand until we get to heaven. Just because things like war and disease occur doesn’t mean that God has abandoned us; he hates these things as much as we do. Yet he is always there with us.

What was most challenging about writing a story set in the Jazz Age?

With each book I write, I want to be as historically accurate as possible. I’ve found that one of the biggest challenges in writing historical fiction is getting down everyday details. For example, I’ve found myself googling, “What was the price of a doughnut in 1922?” or “Did they serve popcorn in picture houses in the 1920s?” Sadly, they did not. 😦 Small parts of everyday life like that can be a bit challenging to research.

Did anything you learned surprise you while researching for this book?

There are many little things that have surprised me since I began researching this era (such as flappers hollowing out the heels of their shoes to discreetly transport alcohol during Prohibition), yet I think the most fascinating thing I learned while researching for Murder at the Picture Show is how involved women were in the film industry at the time. From writing, to producing, and even inventing some of the equipment that is still used today, they were the ones running the show in those days, and I think that is fantastic. Hollywood needs a little more of that these days!

I think that is fascinating!

Which character was your favorite to write?

Fiona and Max are a lot of fun to write about and I love them both dearly, but there’s something about Rose that is so relatable and makes her a delight to write about. She’s a romantic and a dreamer and I think a lot of us can relate to that. Things don’t always work out for her, but she keeps trying.

Just for fun:

Do you have any hobbies?

I love to spend time with my dogs, Gracie and Ginger. I also like to paint, even though I’m not that good at it.

If you could live in any other time period in history, which would it be and why?

Well, of course the 1920s would be my first choice, but if I were to choose another era, I would have to pick the late 1800s, specifically around the height of the industrial revolution. I love that era and I just think it would be so interesting to be there and see so much history taking place.

What are you currently reading?

A View Most Glorious by Regina Scott, a marvelous novel set in the 1890s about a suffragette scaling Mount Rainer to call attention to woman’s suffrage. Anyone who knows me knows that I love to read about suffragettes!

One winner will receive a Kindle edition of Murder at the Picture Show. Must be 18 or older to enter.

Click here to enter the giveaway!

Audiobook Review: “Once Upon a Royal Summer” by Teri Wilson

Happy Friday! I’m sharing a quick audiobook review today of a recently released novel: Once Upon a Royal Summer by Teri Wilson. This is the first full book I’ve read by Teri and Hallmark Publishing, and I’m delighted to say it offered fun and depth in one cute, summer-y package!

About the Book

A theme park “princess” meets a single dad…who turns out to be a real prince! Enjoy the delightful royal romance from acclaimed author Teri Wilson and Hallmark Publishing.

Lacey found her dream job: playing a princess character at a popular fairytale theme park in sunny southern Florida. Her diamond tiara might not be real, but the smiles of the children she meets every day certainly are. It’s just too bad that her ex-boyfriend was never impressed with her career choice.

Henry, the crown prince of Bella-Moritz, is trying to fulfill his young daughter’s birthday wish: to be a normal girl with a normal life. That’s why they’re pretending to be ordinary tourists at an American amusement park. Henry lost his wife four years ago, and he’s been going through the motions ever since. But could a meeting with a make-believe princess lead to real love?

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

I really enjoyed the audiobook version of Once Upon a Royal Summer! It combines a sweet romance with all the romcom moments and fairytale references galore. The narrator did a fantastic job with the accents of a southern heroine and the posh Bella-Moritz royals.

Our heroine Lacey is likable and relatable, with her genuine heart for children and their dreams at the core of her motive to play a princess every day. I love how her growth in confidence comes naturally as a result of her interactions with Henry. And HENRY… he is princely perfection and a great dad, too! What is it about single dad heroes that inspire such tenderness?! His daughter, Rose, lives up to the beauty of her name and is absolutely endearing.

With references to classic princess tales, pop culture, and showcasing a unique side of theme park culture, Once Upon a Royal Summer is sweetly original. I recommend it to anyone looking for a quick and uplifting summer-y read. The close nods to Cinderella and the slight twist on the role of a fairy godmother are my favorite parts!

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the audiobook review copy.

Revew + Blog Tour: “Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey” by Abigail Wilson

Welcome to my review post in the HFVBTBlogTours.com Tour for Abigail Wilson’s new Regenecy romance: Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey! That title is a clever play on words — this marriage of convenience (one of my favorite tropes!) comes with many secrets, some hidden identities, and concealed truths that all come to light with an enthralling mystery. Read on for more about the book, my thoughts, and enter the giveaway for a chance at a paperback copy of the novel.

Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey by Abigail Wilson

Publication Date: May 26, 2020 by Thomas Nelson Historical/Regency/Christian    

 

 

In this new Regency romance, Elizabeth knows she must protect her heart from the charm of her new husband, Lord Torrington. She is not, however, prepared to protect her life.

When the widowed Lord Torrington agreed to spy for the crown, he never planned to impersonate a highwayman, let alone rob the wrong carriage. Stranded on the road with an unconscious young woman, he is forced to propose marriage to protect his identity and her reputation, as well as his dangerous mission.

Trapped not only by her duty to her country but also by her limited options as an unwed mother, Miss Elizabeth Cantrell and her infant son are whisked away to Middlecrest Abbey by none other than the elder brother of her son’s absent father. There she is met by Torrington’s beautiful grown daughters, a vicious murderer, and an urgent hunt for the missing intelligence that could turn the war with France. Meanwhile she must convince everyone that her marriage is a genuine love match if her new husband has any hope of uncovering the enemy.

Determined to keep her son’s true identity a secret, Elizabeth will need to remain one step ahead of her fragile heart, her uncertain future, and the relentless fiend bent on her new family’s ruin.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Review

Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey is a Regency romance and mystery that will have you turning the pages late into the night to figure out its secrets. I was rooting for the hero and heroine through all their action-filled escapades (that were also, somehow, SUPER romantic) to embrace their newfound friendship and solve quite the twisting puzzle.

The first person POV of Elizabeth creates empathy and understanding for the reader while it conveys the likability of Lord Torrington (Adrian) and an almost-tangible sense of the doubts, secrets, and questions about the well-plotted mystery.

The marriage of convenience trope is done wonderfully by Abigail Wilson in this instance. Time for a list (!!!) of things I love about Adrian: his humorous, personable nature; his trust and confidence in Elizabeth; the way he cares for his family. Elizabeth, too, is a very likable heroine whose revelations enlighten the mystery thread and inform her own character of the freedom to trust others and offer forgiveness freely.

I really appreciated that Elizabeth and Adrian are older than your average Regency romance couple– him moreso with his almost-grown daughters. This sets up a deeper romance plot because they are in a position to have grasped life lessons and experience already, allowing for moments of intention and emphasis of choice in their love story.

 

Thank you to HFVBT and the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

About the Author

Abigail Wilson combines her passion for Regency England with intrigue and adventure to pen historical mysteries with a heart. A registered nurse, chai tea addict, and mother of two crazy kids, Abigail fills her spare time hiking the national parks, attending her daughter’s gymnastic meets, and curling up with a great book. In 2017, Abigail won WisRWA’s Fab Five contest and in 2016, ACFW’s First Impressions contest as well as placing as a 2017 finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. She is a cum laude graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and currently lives in Dripping Springs, Texas, with her husband and children.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, May 26 Review at Bitch Bookshelf | Review at The Green Mockingbird

Wednesday, May 27 Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Thursday, May 28 Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Friday, May 29 Review at Heidi Reads | Review at Amy’s Booket List

Saturday, May 30 Feature at Journey in Bookland | Feature at What Is That Book About

Sunday, May 31 Review & Excerpt at Robin Loves Reading

Monday, June 1 Review at Probably at the Library | Interview at Jorie Loves A Story

Tuesday, June 2 Feature at I’m All About Books | Feature at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, June 3 Review at Rhodie Girl Reads | Review at Rejoice in Reading

Thursday, June 4 Review at Jessica Belmont | Review at A Chick Who Reads

Friday, June 5 Review at View from the Birdhouse | Review at Foals, Fiction and Filigree

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 5 paperback copies of Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 5th. You must be 18 or older to enter. Paperback giveaway is open to the US only. Only one entry per household. All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Enter the giveaway here!

Audiobook Review: “Echoes Among the Stones” by Jaime Jo Wright

I’m happy to be sharing my thoughts on an enthralling mystery I listened to on audiobook! Echoes Among the Stones by Jaime Jo Wright is a split time, standalone novel with suspense and just a hint of romance.

The best time for me to listen to audiobooks is when I drive back and forth to work. Let me just say it was a CHALLENGE to get out of my car at the end of the day and “pause” the story!

About the Book

After Aggie Dunkirk’s career is unceremoniously ended by her own mistakes, she finds herself traveling to Wisconsin, where her grandmother, Mumsie, lives alone in her vintage, though very outdated, home. Aggie didn’t plan for how eccentric Mumsie has become, obsessing over an old, unsolved crime scene–even going so far as to re-create it in a dollhouse.

Mystery seems to follow Aggie when she finds work as a secretary helping to restore the flooded historical part of the town’s cemetery. Forced to work with a puzzling yet attractive archaeologist, she exhumes the past’s secrets and unwittingly uncovers a crime that some will go to any length to keep hidden–even if that means silencing Aggie.

In 1946, Imogene Grayson works in a beauty salon but has her sights set on Hollywood. But coming home to discover her younger sister’s body in the attic changes everything. Unfamiliar with the burgeoning world of forensic science and, as a woman, not particularly welcomed into the investigation, Imogene is nonetheless determined to stay involved. As her sister’s case grows cold, Imogene vows to find justice . . . no matter the cost. 

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

I adored this split time mystery. Its deep themes of grief and family are balanced against a clever and suspenseful mystery that spans decades. I was equally caught up in the historical and contemporary timelines, puzzling how they would fit together. The atmospheric and almost-creepy things that happen are balanced by two strong heroines and their devotion to family.

I feel the need to devote a whole paragraph to Collin O’Shaughnessy. Collin, whose crisply ironed wardrobe, almost-British accent, charming sense of humor, and wavy ginger hair nearly seem out of place in a contemporary setting. But oh, how Aggie needs his friendship and perspective. I loved how he is a steady voice of reason but comes with a bit of a mystery of his own; and how all of this Providentially fits into Aggie’s world. The narration of his accent, as acted by narrator Pilar Witherspoon, was a FUN and bright part of an otherwise serious story.

I love that Jaime Jo Wright’s stories consistently surprise me! Echoes Among the Stones had me guessing the “whodunit” aspects AND questioning the loyalty of many characters throughout. All of it wraps up neatly, with some very accurate and grace-filled lessons of grieving paced throughout.

Thank you to Netgalley for the ebook copy. I purchased the audiobook copy. This is my honest review.

Best of 2019: Novellas & Audiobooks

Welcome to my annual “best-of” celebration! Like last year, I’m separating the categories of my yearly best-of lists over a few days. It’s going to take me a few to talk about all the stories I loved in 2019!

I have exceeded my reading goals for 2019 according to my Goodreads reading challenge! That makes me happy. I have read SO MANY good books this year, which I will attribute to knowing how to better choose my genres and preferences, and even being “picky” when it comes to review-book choices. So, I have decided to limit my best-of lists this year to a max of 10 books. If you’d like to see all of my 5-star reads and extensive reviews, just check out my completed Goodreads challenge or browse my blog archives.
Each day leading up to New Year’s Day you’ll get a new post about my 2019 favorites:

  1. Best of 2019: Novellas & Audiobooks
  2. Best of 2019: Contemporary Fiction
  3. Best of 2019: (General) Historical Fiction
  4. Best of 2019: (Inspirational) Historical Fiction
  5. Best of 2019: Film & TV
  6. Best of 2019: Happy New Year #OnTheBlog

The rules: because sometimes I need to keep things brief, I’m choosing to share 3 things that describe each of these stories along with a link to Goodreads and my review.

Today’s post is all about Novellas + Audiobooks! The audios are all 5 star reads I’m considering “bonuses” on my lists because I listened to their fabulous audio productions AND loved the stories!

Best of 2019: Novellas & Audiobooks

From The Christmas Heirloom novella collection:

Because of You by Becky Wade | Review

Booknerd hero. Friendship. Serving

Gift of the Heart by Karen Witemeyer | Review

Second chances. Humor. Tender hearts.

The Royally Yours Novella Collection | Review to come!

Literary love notes. Small town charming traditions. Whimsy.

From the Finding Ever After novella collection:

Between Stairs and Stardust by Pepper Basham

Whimsical. Cinderella. Swimming.

Entanglements by Rachel McMillan

Hairpins. Chess. Music.


Something New by Joanne Bischof |Review

Dreams. Restoration. Hope.

The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright | Review to come!

Identity. Forgiveness. Worth beyond the surface.

The Matrimonial Advertisement by Mimi Matthews (reread)| Review

Trust. Delicious accents. Capacity to love.

Wedded to War by Jocelyn Green | Review

Sacrifice. Healing. Purpose.

Welcome to Wishing Bridge by Ruth Logan Herne | Review

Hope. Sisterhood-friendship. Sacrifical love.

Review + Blog Tour & Giveaway: “A Match for Emma” by Pepper Basham

A
Match for Emma JustRead Blog Tour Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour & Giveaway for A Match for Emma by Pepper Basham, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

A Match for
Emma by Pepper BashamTitle: A Match for Emma

Author: Pepper Basham

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: November 21, 2019

Emma Mitchell may enjoy sprinkling romance into the lives of others, but her own plans involve a single first – class ticket to culinary school in Europe. When her best friend, Jon Noble, suddenly moves back to Ransom, Emma’s fairly certain her life can’t get any better…unt il her matchmaking schemes nosedive, her culinary future falls flat, and a life – long friendship begins to teeter on the brink of something unexpected. With a little inspiration from Jane Austen’s classic and a touch of Blue Ridge charm, will Jon and Emma discover that what they need the most may be the last thing they’re trying to find?

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

BOOK REVIEW

A Match for Emma is the quintessential contemporary romance with a little Austen, a little Appalachia, and a whole lot of heart. I loved returning to Ransom and the Mitchell clan’s territory for Emma’s story. With subtle nods and influence from Jane Austen’s classic Emma, Pepper Basham weaves a deeper tale of friendship, trust, romance, grace, and even touches on grief and pride through the stories of Jon and Emma. The slow-growing romance has the right amount of tension for the reader to be fully engaged until the promised happily-ever-after!

FB_IMG_1574066627090.jpgIf sweet friends-to-romance is your favorite story trope, you will love Jon and Emma’s journey. In my opinion, the pacing of the romance and beginnings of attraction is portrayed in the “Goldilocks” just right way. Emma and Jon’s dynamic friendship is what MAKES this story fantastic. Emma knows just how to break through his armor, and he knows just when to “speak truth” (if not always how) to help her be a better person.

I appreciate the way Pepper Basham draws on the power of dreams and incorporates it into this story to emphasize that dreams are worth chasing. Retellings are often fun and insightful, but A Match for Emma draws out even deeper parts of the classic characters and sends them on a unique journey all their own. For instance, grief is an unexpected theme; one that is articulated and experienced by Jon in real-life ways. And, Emma’s own struggle with pride and surrender adds layers to her personality. Spiritual themes are incorporated through Emma’s growth especially, allowing her to recognize mistakes and see how God uses all of the pieces of our lives to make a beautiful picture. The supporting characters, both family and friends (ahem Mama Mitchell!) also offer discernment, insight, and wise counsel to Jon and Emma’s lives.

I’m a big fan of Pepper’s stories from the beginning but there is just something special about the Mitchells that hits home for me and is the most relatable. With plenty of good cooking, cupcakes, Scrabble games to root for, Narnia the talking cat, and a Thor look-alike, this novel has enough humor and heart to keep me grinning for a while. I’m already ready for the next Mitchell’s Crossroads story!

Thank you to JustRead tours for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Reviews of the first two books in series: A Twist of Faith & Charming the Troublemaker

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pepper
Basham Pepper Basham is an award – winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with southern Appalachian flair. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her most recent historical romance, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge, showcases her Appalachian heritage and family history, as well as her love for humor and family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech – language pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of choco late, jazz, hats, and Jesus. Her upcoming release, A Match for Emma, is the third book in her popular Mitchell’s Crossroads series. Pepper loves getting to know readers and other authors through social media. You may also learn more about her on her website!

CONNECT WITH PEPPER: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive a Paris cube decorative tote, paperback copy of Jane Austen’s Emma, paperback copy of A Match for Emma (or another one of the Mitchell’s Crossroads books, if preferred), a ‘love’ ornament, a mug that reads “You’re my cup of tea”, and Misty Mountain handcrafted soap (made locally) – the scent is Mountain Berries!

A Match for Emma JustRead
Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule shown below. Giveaway will begin at midnight November 9, 2019 and last through 11:59 PM EST on November 16, 2019. Open internationally except where prohibited by law or logistics. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY


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

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*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Review, Character Interview + Giveaway: “Rose in Three Quarter Time” by Rachel McMillan

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I have the immense pleasure of sharing a review today of a novella written by an author who has also become a dear friend: Rachel McMillan. Her new contemporary novella, Rose in Three Quarter Time, releases today (happy book birthday!). It is one of THE MOST ROMANTIC books I’ve read this year (instant favorites shelf status). The second in her “Three Quarter Time” series, it takes readers back to Vienna for a marriage-of-convenience story that hits all the right notes with its story of friendship, music, and a rose-colored look at the picturesque city itself.

Lead character Oliver Thorne has also stopped by the blog for an interview! Also, Rachel has graciously offered a Kindle ebook giveaway to one of my blog readers, so be sure to stick around and enter it, too!

About the Book

Some people marry for love; others marry for music…

Rose in Three Quarter Time

Rose McNeil is rising the ranks at the Mozarteum in Salzburg as a violinist to watch. Her musical Nova Scotian heritage has loaned an unparalleled technique to her interpretation of some of the most beautiful compositions in the world. The opportunity of a first chair assignment to the Rainer Quartet under the tutelage and baton of Oliver Thorne is a dream come true— until her student visa expires and the threat of leaving Vienna looms. As much as she grieves the prospect of leaving Vienna and the quartet, it is Oliver—with his dry sense of humour and unexpected charm- she will miss most.

British ex-pat Oliver Thorne’s recent appointment as conductor to the Rainer Quartet make him the youngest in the role during its prestigious history. But it wasn’t the path he wanted. A tragic accident years ago forbade him from ever playing his beloved cello again. Now he spends his life conducting for premiere orchestras at the Musikverein. When he first hears Rose McNeil play, all the dreams he left by the wayside are reborn with her unexpected talent. When Rose learns she may have to leave Vienna, Oliver has to come up with a solution. Losing his first violinist is unfortunate, losing her is unimaginable.

So he comes up with a crazy idea: A marriage on paper only. She’ll take his name and his citizenship. They’ll split rent money and coin toss to decide who takes the bed or the futon every night. They’ll keep their secret from the orchestra. She’ll play and he’ll conduct and, most importantly…she’ll stay.

Unbeknownst to each other, Rose is in love with Oliver and Oliver is in love with Rose. They might even find a happy ending, if only their pesky marriage doesn’t get in the way.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Rose in Three Quarter Time is an exquisitely gorgeous love story. Set against the romantic backdrop of Vienna, Oliver and Rose traverse hot chocolate, friendship, and a witty and wonderful marriage of convenience for the sake of their passion: music. What neither expects, to the reader’s sheer delight, is to realize their mutual love is romantic in nature. Their journey is full of the details that make up everyday life, from loss to joy to selfless choices and 12 kinds of cereal. The references to music and composing alone are brilliant and work wonderfully in a world of timeless classical music. (You will want to read this with YouTube open to have a deeper “listening” experience for all of the works referenced. Rachel has even made playlist!)

Oliver and Rose are endearing and charming with their flaws and virtues. Oliver’s story of personal loss and Rose’s pursuit of a dream intersect and act as a catalyst that deepens their relationship’s common ground. Add Godiva chocolate, plenty of whipped cream, knee-weakening kisses, and a Shirley Temple or two, and their time together unfurls like the sweetest symphony of romance borne of friendship.

This is a book I will reread again and again, savoring it with some whipped cream and Mozart of my own.

Readers and fans of the first novella of the “Three Quarter Time” series will be ecstatic to see Klaus and Evelyn on occasion! Oh, and this story features one of my favorite fictional cats ever: Parcheesi. ❤

Thank you to the author for an advance copy of this novella. This review is my honest opinion.

Character Interview with Oliver Thorne

Welcome to my blog, Oliver! After reading your story, I’d like to know more about you and Rose, so I have a few questions…

When did you know your feelings for Rose ran deeper than friendship?
I knew in the third bar of Bach’s Partita #2 that I was feeling differently than I ever had before. And I have seen a lot of performances. But, Rose was special. Not just the way she looks (which, truth be told, is gorgeous. She is a beautiful woman. Far more beautiful than should be attached to myself—though fortunately for me, she doesn’t seem to see that) but the way she connects with a piece as she is playing it. She loves it the way I loved to play. But, I truly believe it was when I saw her sipping a Shirley Temple. We work in a world of pandering to crowds and pandering to other musicians and patrons. Rose was so pure. Here was a girl…no…a woman… who had just played with several scouts in the audience: people who could change her life. She must have been terrified and then relieved and she orders a Shirley Temple of all things. When I saw her play, I knew she was special. But, when I saw her alone playing with a toy umbrella in her drink when she might have been working a crowd, I knew she was different. She played because she loved it. And she wasn’t trying to be anything but who she was. I had spent too much of my life with people who treated connections as a stepping stone toward personal gain. Rose wasn’t like that. I loved her immediately for that. Then we had hot chocolate at a nearby café and I spoke with her more easily than anyone I ever had in my life. People may think that my accident and its ramifications led to certain social limitations. That is an erroneous assumption. I have always been somewhat shy.

Shaun Evans from IMDB

Actor Shaun Evans resembles Oliver Thorne

What would Rose say is your best quality? Annoying habit? What about hers?
I like to think Rose thinks my best quality has to do with my work. At least I believe that this is so. She has also told me on occasion that I have a propensity to listen to people carefully and use the information they give me to make them comfortable. She was quite taken, she told me, by the fact that I made sure Parcheesi (our cat) had a space of his own when she moved in and that I had procured numerous options of breakfast cereal for her. I didn’t understand why this was so magnanimous. Listening to Rose is the easiest thing in the world. And after meeting her, you want to make her happy in whatever way you can… large or small.
Rose hates how I can immediately turn on what she calls my “conductor mode” and freeze out everything and act like (again, this is her perspective, I think I am doing just fine, thank you) “an automaton”. I just separate my personal life from music. I can flip it on and off like a switch. So, when we’re in rehearsal or in a performance, I don’t see Rose, per se, I just see a cog in the wheel that needs to turn in order to create a perfect experience for the audience and to honour the piece we are playing. Of course, there was one rehearsal when she was ill and it turned my world upside down. I don’t fancy that experience again. I need to have control of the world I am creating with each piece and so I can’t afford to focus on Rose no matter how distracting she is under the chandeliers of the Brahms Saal.
Rose’s most annoying habits? Her pop song alarms every morning. They’re so loud and she sings to them. Off-key, I might add. She also does a preposterous job of making the bed every morning she wins it from our nightly toonie-toss (it decides who gets the bed and who gets the futon in the studio). She often puts a milk or orange juice carton back in the refrigerator with just a smidgeon left. Who does that?
She also wears a lot of cat-themed clothing and she snores. But don’t think for an instant that any one of her habits would tear me away from her. I love her completely.

What is it like living with Rose (and a feline)?
I think that Parcheesi might just be the smartest of all of us. Rose has her habits but I love knowing she is there; especially because I came so close to losing her completely. Just to hear her humming while she’s washing dishes or see her on the sofa reading one of those romance novels she loves while eating cereal out of the box. Of course, I get to hear her play. A lot. And I love listening to her. It tends to get a little bit difficult (I supposed that’s an understatement) living with a woman I am madly attracted to and in love with knowing she solely married me for friendship and a piece of paper. That has its moments. She is very close. Always. And she smells like coconut (her shampoo and body wash, turns out).

Musikverein, Vienna

The Musikverein in Vienna

Do you have any “must listen” music recommendations? (Classical and contemporary?)
My favourite composer is Dmitri Shostakovich (though he is probably angry with me right now beyond the grave at an arrangement I did with one of his cello concertos). I like Shostakovich because he is a universe of music in so many different styles. And everyone is unexpected and tells a story. With the Rainer, my home orchestra, everything is pretty much Baroque and Baroque sounding. Safe. When I guest conduct Shostakovich I feel like there is something spiraling me away from myself. No two pieces are exactly the same and I love the energy. It is so different from my day to day world in the Rainer.
I love Coldplay. They have an intense musicality about them and really classical and baroque constructs. I think that is why when Viva La Vida came out, everyone called them “Chamber Pop”
Rose has me listening to music from her home in Cape Breton. The type played in ceilidhs and kitchen parties and there is a celtic flavour to it and it is really quite beautiful. It is this music that taught her her skill on the violin and I appreciate it for that. She listens to a lot the Rankin Family and a group from Newfoundland called Great Big Sea and everytime I hear this music’s flavour, I feel I am stepping into Rose’s past.
Living with Rose means living in close proximity to a million and one pop tunes on her iphone. I suppose I have learned that there is something in Celine Dion –an over the top pageantry and artistry —that is not unlike going to the Staatsoper to see Verdi.

You left your country, England, and chose Austria as your home. Why is Vienna so special?
Vienna is the city of music. The mecca of composers and musicians and has been for centuries. I was drawn to the beautiful concert halls I had played as a cellist and am meeting again as a conductor. The Viennese also don’t mind if you are quiet or not effusive. The culture here is polite and reserved which works wonders for someone like myself who is not adept at meeting people — but has to in high social gatherings. Once I step out from a meeting or a party or a concert, I can lose myself in the city and shrug off all of the social expectations like a coat.
But I also wanted to choose a place so completely different from London –where it happened. Where my life changed. To start over, perhaps. Too many places in London reminded me of playing and thinking about playing. I needed a fresh start. Now, Vienna is special because it is a constant reminder of Rose: turning and seeing her wearing a baroque get up and peddling a concert, accidentally running into her at the U-Bahn station, taking her for a birthday dinner at the Sacher Hotel. Everything in Vienna is Rose now. Which is pretty perfect for me.

What should readers expect from your love story?
Take the one thing you have loved more than anything else in the world. It could be a talent. A hobby. A pursuit. A purpose. Then multiply it by 20 thousand. This love story is one shaped around my realizing that I love a person more than I could ever anticipate loving anything in the realm of my control: music.
For years of my life, music was my compass. My center. You never feel, as a musician, you could love anything more than music, the art, the craft. Turns out, I love Rose more.
I also think readers can expect a lot of awkwardness. When two close friends get married (for whatever reason), there is bound to be some challenges.
There are so many stories (in films, on television) where something tragic or dark or secretive gets in the way. I love Rose for many reasons, one of which being she is kind and good. There is nothing sordid in my past. Nor hers.

The Dowager Countess (Downton Abbey)

A Dowager meme for Oliver!

Do you have anything to say about Downton Abbey?
How do you know that? Rose swore to secrecy on that. Well, having watched it through twice now, I have two stand out thoughts: Why did Lady Sybil have to die? I would very much like to take Mr. Carson for a pint.

Your role as a musician has been a challenging one, changing from proficiency at the cello to that of conducting a world-famous orchestra. How has that shaped you?
I had to relearn how to live life after my accident. Not just learning how to live with the use of only one hand (it is just as difficult as it seems. For years later, I would go to do something and still forget that I had this limitation. It becomes so natural), but how to live in a spotlight. In order to stay in the world of music (and there was really no option for me but to stay in the world of music, truth be told), I had to take center stage. Sure, I could teach; but conducting still allows me to be a part of the magic of the whole thing. The performance. The adrenaline and the sound. And to have control over music in proxy with the players. This role clashes with my natural disposition, though. I am not altogether comfortable with people and in front of a crowd. Hiding behind a big cello was one thing, when I could look down and just concentrate on the instrument. Now I am the focal point of concert goers. So I was shaped by two things: relearning life when the thing I loved most about it and poured my heart and soul into was taken away and learning how to be in the spotlight.

Rachel McMillan

What is it like working with Rachel McMillan?
She giggles a lot. And she talks to me. She thinks I look like a fellow from the telly. One of those detective shows. I googled him once, I can’t be as dour as all that! Besides, his eyes are blue and mine are grey.

I have to agree with Rachel! I think you look like “that detective”, too. Thank you SO much, Oliver (and Rach!), for taking the time to answer my questions. It was delightful to hear your thoughts on music, Rose, and especially Downton Abbey 😉 !

Giveaway

Author Rachel McMillan has graciously offered a kindle ebook giveaway of Rose in Three Quarter Time! Click the link below to enter the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open internationally. Giveaway ends 10/04/2018, 12am CT time.

Review: “A Refuge Assured” by Jocelyn Green

Sometimes, stories will sweep you up into an era and a people that both fascinate and stir the heart with truth. This is all the more special when such a story exhibits historical facts and accuracy which are results of detailed research. Author Jocelyn Green’s latest historical novel, A Refuge Assured, is just such a story. Its characters are as vivid as the tumultuous time frame portrayed: the peak of the French Revolution colliding with post-revolution America. With it, Jocelyn has worked her way onto my list of all-time favorite authors! I highly recommend this historical novel (with a hint of romance) to fans of authors like Lori Benton and Laura Frantz.

About the Book

A Refuge AssuredLacemaker Vivienne Rivard never imagined her craft could threaten her life. Yet in revolutionary France, it is a death sentence when the nobility, and those associated with them, are forced to the guillotine. Vivienne flees to Philadelphia, but danger lurks in the French Quarter, as revolutionary sympathizers begin to suspect a young boy left in her care might be the Dauphin. Can the French settlement Asylum offer permanent refuge?

Militiaman Liam Delaney proudly served in the American Revolution, but now that the new government has imposed an oppressive tax that impacts his family, he barely recognizes the democracy he fought for. He wants only to cultivate his hard-won farm near Asylum, but he soon finds himself drawn into the escalating tension of the Whiskey Rebellion. When he meets a beautiful young Frenchwoman recently arrived from Paris, they are drawn together in surprising ways to fight for the peace and safety for which they long.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

A Refuge Assured is an emotionally gripping and immersive story of a search for refuge and peace. With high emotions and multifaceted characters, Jocelyn Green knows how to pen a story that appeals to the heart and displays a bright hope. I felt like I was witness to revolutions and cries for liberty!

A Refuge Assured QuoteThe plights of Vivienne, and subsequently Liam, are attention-getting and full of natural ups and downs as they face challenges from their environments, political pressures, family stresses, and personal secrets that determine their paths. The added knowledge that so much REAL historical facts and events are portrayed in this story makes it all the more interesting!

What is true freedom? Is it rooted in a government, a cause, authority? Or, is it found as a child of the King, in His will and freedom to choose His path of forgiveness? These are just a few of the questions a reader might ponder when reading A Refuge Assured. This story is more than a narrative on history with relatable characters, it’s an experience of an era, vivid settings, and the hearts of human beings.

Thank you to the author and publisher, Bethany House, for the complimentary review copy of this book. This is my honest review.

Review: “Troubled Waters” by Susan May Warren

It’s no secret I love everything Susan May Warren writes, and her latest adrenaline-packed romance is no exception. Fans of the “Montana Rescue” series have eagerly waited for Ian and Sierra’s story, sometimes not-so-patiently (ahem, that’s me). This fourth book is everything I hoped it would be and more!

About the Book

Billionaire Ian Shaw can have everything he wants–except a happy ending. Or at least that’s what it feels like with his fortune recently liquidated, his niece, Esme, still missing, and the woman he loves refusing to speak to him. In fact, he doubts she would date him even if they were stranded on a deserted island.

Troubled WatersDespite her love for Ian, Sierra Rose knows he has no room in his life for her as long as the mystery of his missing niece goes unsolved. The only problem is, Sierra has solved it, but a promise to Esme to keep her whereabouts secret has made it impossible to be around Ian.

When the PEAK chopper is damaged and Sierra lacks the funds to repair it, Ian offers a fundraising junket for large donors on his yacht in the Caribbean. But the three-day excursion turns into a nightmare when a rogue wave cripples the yacht and sends the passengers overboard. Shaken up and soaked to the bone, Ian finally has a chance to test his theory when he and Sierra do indeed find themselves washed up on a strange, empty shore.

It will take guts and gumption for the PEAK team to rescue the duo. But it will take a miracle to rescue Ian and Sierra’s relationship.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Troubled Waters is a page-turning, heart-engaging story of choice, love, and sacrifice. The story is full of adrenaline-fueled moments of action and serious, soul-level conversations between the characters. If I were the nail-biting type, I don’t think I would have many left!

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I updated Goodreads with a spinoff novel idea…. and Susan shared it! *fangirling squeal*

This series continues to impress because of its increasing complexity in both plot and character development. For instance, Susan’s writing proves excellent not because she uses high peril situations to take advantage of the emotions of the moment, but because she uses unusual or trying circumstances to show her characters a truth or lesson about themselves or their peers. In Ian and Sierra’s case, they each deal with honesty, control, and choosing faith when you have nothing else to hold on to. They have to reach their limits both physically and emotionally to push past their problems and grow.

The ROMANCE is everything I wanted it to be. From the very beginning (the prequel novella), I was rooting for Ian and Sierra. But, they both had to journey down some difficult paths before they were in a place to truly, selflessly love and support each other.

Another treat for returning fans of this series is Pete and Jess’s page time!!!!! Their story will be the final book in the series. I really like the way Pete has matured and the man he has gradually grown into over this series…. he makes some impressive choices in Troubled Waters. I’m anxious to see how things will fall into place between them!

Ok, I’m done gushing over this favorite series! If you want, you can visit my reviews of the previous books in the series below. Or, you can go pick up a copy for your shelf now!

Prequel: If Ever I Would Leave You

Book 1: Wild Montana Skies

Book 2: Rescue Me

Book 3: A Matter of Trust

Thank you to Revell and Baker Publishing Group for the review copy. This is my honest review.