Reign of the Marionettes

Title of Book: Reign of the Marionettes
By: Sheena Macleod
Genre: Historical Fiction

Book Excerpt: CHAPTER ONE
The Cavalcade

Grey clouds formed over London, casting dark shadows across the river entrance to Whitehall Palace. In the dimming light, Elizabeth stepped through a double door, set high on the crumbling facade of the palace wall. As she weaved her way through the throng of courtiers gathering on the cobbled courtyard, their accusing faces turned towards her.

Keeping her head down, she pulled her fur-lined cloak tight against the biting air and quickened her steps. Her thoughts filled with concern for her family. At forty, she’d already spent a lifetime glancing behind her, looking for danger. A surge of fear, tinged with excitement coursed through her. Could the approaching cavalcade bring them greater freedom? She dared not even think it. All she could do now was wait and hope.

Reaching the stone balustrade, overlooking the privy stairs, Elizabeth stopped and gazed out in surprise. All along the riverbank bonfires blazed into life and flames lit up the darkening sky. It was as if half of London had come to watch the procession of gilded barges sail up the Thames. The left bank of the river had transformed into a teeming mass, and shouts of, “No papists!” rang from the milling throng.

“Meu amigo, Baroness Powis.”

A smile formed on Elizabeth’s face. She hadn’t heard Queen Catherine approach, and she turned around. Her smile faded. Since they’d last met a few days before, Catherine’s olive-tinted skin had paled, and dark shadows had formed beneath her eyes.

She curtsied. “Your Majesty.”

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The King’s Secret Daughter

Title of Book: The King’s Secret Daughter
By: K. M. Ellis
Genre: Historical Fiction

Book Excerpt: 1779: Anna has grown into a woman within the heavily decorated walls of George III’s magnificent palaces. When offers of marriage arise in her favor, Anna seeks to escape her prison of tightly laced corsets and formal dinner parties.

Little does she know, marriage to the high ranking colonel chosen for her will introduce her to a world so different beyond her wildest dreams. Thrown into the heat of the American Revolution during the final stages in the South, Anna must choose where her loyalties truly lie.

Author Bio: K.M. Ellis is a graduate of Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut with a B.A. in History and Minor in English. She currently lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and daughter.

Author Contact Links:

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Murder in Chelsea

TitleMurder in Chelsea

By: Victoria Thompson

Genre: Gaslight Mystery/Historical Fiction


Frank knew the Upper West Side well.  He’d visited too many of the fancy town houses with their marble steps and their velvet draperies and their dreary furniture.  He’d listened to too many rich people make the pettiest complaints and give the paltriest excuses for committing murder.  He did not expect today would be much different.

The maid who answered his knock at Mr. Wilbank’s house looked him up and down and stuck her nose in the air.  “Tradesmen use the rear,” she said and started to slam the door in his face.

Frank gave it a shove and sent her staggering back.  Before she could recover, he stepped inside and closed it behind him.

“I’ll scream,” she said her eyes wide.

“Don’t bother.  Just announce me to Mr. Wilbanks.  Tell him I have a message from Miss Anne Murphy.”

“I shouldn’t ‘ve let you in.  He’ll give me the devil.”

“Not if you tell him what I said.  He’ll want to hear news of the child.”

“What child?”



About the Author: (from

Edgar® Nominated author Victoria Thompson writes the Gaslight Mystery Series, set in turn-of-the-century New York City and featuring midwife Sarah Brandt. Her latest is MURDER ON ST. NICHOLAS AVENUE. She also contributed to the award-winning writing textbook MANY GENRES/ONE CRAFT. A popular speaker, Victoria teaches in the Seton Hill University master’s program in writing popular fiction. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and a very spoiled little dog.

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The Beaufort Woman

51edeut2dml-_uy250_Title of Book: The Beaufort Woman: Book Two of The Beaufort Chronicles

By: Judith Arnopp

Genre: Historical Fiction


Book Excerpt:

March 1461 – Margaret’s husband, Henry Stafford prepares to ride out to fight for the King.

“You cannot go, Harry. You are too sick.”

“I have to go. There is no …”

He sways on his feet, closes his eyes and grips the bedpost.

“There, you see. Just as I said. Now, lie back down and let me tend you. A sick man will only be a hindrance to the cause, not a help.”

As easily as if he were a child, I push him down and try to tug the blankets to his chin. He pushes my hand away. His face is as white as the linen he lies upon, but he hauls himself up again.

“Bring me something to stop the dizziness.”

“No, I won’t; and the king wouldn’t ask me to.”

By all accounts, the king is too far gone in madness to care one way or the other who rides with him into battle. It is the queen we heed now.
Despite London and most of England having turned against her in support of the Yorkist king, she refuses to surrender her cause. It is for her son, of course, and if I were in her position, I would do the same. But by all accounts, many of my fellow Lancastrian supporters are wary of young Edward of Lancaster. They whisper of cruelty and the mistreatment and bullying of his servants. He is also accused of hiding behind his mother’s skirts, manipulating her love for him.

After the battle at St Albans, when his father the king was discovered in the company of two Yorkist knights, Margaret let Edward decide how the men, who had done no more than follow York’s orders, should die. The boy could have chosen to show them mercy, yet instead, he chose beheading. I suppose battle hardens the best of us, and in his short life, Edward of Lancaster has known nothing but war. Yet I would hope that in similar circumstances, my own son would show mercy.

Now, refusing to give up the fight, the queen is summoning supporters for yet another battle. Everyone is sick of war. Our men are depleted and sickening, our women have been tested to the utmost. We live on a knife’s edge, afraid that each day will bring new disasters. More than anything, England needs peace. Sometimes, I think, for the sake of peace, perhaps it might be better if York wore the crown. But I do not speak that thought aloud; it is a brief and fleeting thing.

I close my eyes, send up an earnest prayer to atone for even contemplating such treason, and turn back to my husband, who is trying to struggle out of his nightshirt.

“No, no, no! Harry, you are sick. Let me at least fetch you a remedy to bring down the fever. Perhaps you will be fit to ride out by morning.”

“It will be too late by then.”

“Then you will have to ride harder and faster to make up for it. You will not set one foot from this house until you are fit enough to do so.”

His capitulation illustrates just how ill he really feels. He crawls back into bed.

“Very well, Margaret. I am beaten. Do your worst.”

I spin on my heel and hurry to the still-room to prepare a posset. Sending my serving girl away, I take down an old book of recipes, drawing the candle closer so that I can read the close-written text. I run my index finger down the page, carefully noting the correct ingredient. It will not do to give him too much.

With great care, I pour an infusion of cherry bark and coriander to treat his recurrent fevers, but after some hesitation and soul searching, I add three drops of poppy juice. I stare for a long moment at the innocuous looking cup before hastily crossing myself and hurrying back with it to his chamber.
He tips it back, drains the cup and hands it to me. I kiss his brow.
He slides down the bed, turns onto his side and hauls the covers over his shoulder.

“See they make my horse ready. I will leave at dawn. Tell them to … wake me …”

Harry will not wake at dawn. If my calculations are correct, he will not wake until the battle is done and the fate of York and Lancaster decided.

“Harry, NO!” I break out of the daydream. He pauses, the cup half way to his mouth. I snatch it away.

“I am sorry. I made a mistake. I will mix you another.”

“Margaret.” He struggles from the bed, his voice halting me in my tracks. I pause and wait for him to confront me at the hearth. He narrows his eyes, twitches his head, silently questioning.

“What do you mean … a mistake? You never make mistakes. I have seen you myself, double checking, making sure before you even dose the dogs for worms. What are you up to?”

“Nothing.” I make to move away, but his hand snakes out and pinions me. He takes the cup, waves it beneath his nose.

“What is in it?”

I swallow, turn my face away.

“Cherry bark, coriander, and something to sweeten it.”

“What else? Have you tried to poison me?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. As if I would ever dream of doing such a thing.”

I am facing him now, hating the suspicion, the disappointment in his eye.

“What then? Tell me.”

He forces me back to the bed, grabs my wrists and makes me sit.

In my mind, I invent a hundred reasons for wanting to prevent him leaving. To me, each one is a viable excuse but I know he will hate me for it. I have spoiled our perfect marriage, possibly forever. A sob is bottled up in my chest; suddenly it releases, an ugly noise marking an ugly deed.

The mattress dips as he sits beside me. Gentle now, he picks up my hand.

“What was in it?”

I sniff and wipe a tear away. “A little poppy juice to make you sleep.”

The hammer of his condemnation hovers just above my head. His voice when it comes is thick with suppressed anger.

“So I would be spared the battle? You think I am not man enough?”

Shame floods me. I let my head fall backward and look upon the smoke-blackened timbers of the roof. They are stark and threatening, hanging over us like a curse.

“No, don’t be silly. You are ill, Harry. My instinct was to protect you.”

“At whatever cost?”

“At whatever cost.”

A long silence. Only the rapid sound of my breath, the rasp of Harry’s congested chest. I feel I am waiting on God’s judgement. I probably am. At last, Harry emits a long breath.

“You are headstrong and … and … devious, Margaret. I feel I hardly know you, as if I have lived these last years with a stranger. How could you do that to me? Have you no care for the king, for the country?”

I sit ramrod straight, enveloped in shame, my hands clenched in my lap. I know my expression is mulish. I know I have done a terrible thing. I wish I could say I am sorry, but I am not. I am only sorry I lacked the courage to carry it through. I will never make him understand.

How can I describe the terror of my last weeks with Edmund, my fear of reliving them? His face blurs beneath my tears. He gets up and strides about the room. I have never seen him lose his temper before. He has always been calm and mild – mistakenly, I also thought him meek … and manageable. Perhaps he is right and we have never really known each other.

“Well? Explain yourself. Why did you do it?”

“You were sick, Harry. I was afraid …”

“Afraid I would die? What of all the men, our friends, our allies, who also risk their lives for our king? Did you think of them?”

I shake my head, remorse and misery washing over me.

“I am sorry, Harry. I thought only of you … of myself. I cannot bear the thought of losing you. I didn’t think, until the last moment. Can you not forgive an action I did not carry through?”

“What hour is it?”

“It must be a little after three.”

“Call for my horse to be made ready.”

“Yes, Harry.”

Miserably, I get up and cross the room to do my husband’s bidding. This battle will be a test. If Harry comes safely home and Lancaster has the victory, I will know God forgives me, but if we lose, I will know that I am by Heaven condemned.

Author Bio:

When Judith Arnopp began to write professionally there was no question as to which genre to choose. A lifelong history enthusiast and avid reader, Judith holds an honours degree in English and Creative writing, and a Masters in Medieval Studies, both from the University of Wales, Lampeter. Judith writes both fiction and non-fiction, working full-time from her home overlooking Cardigan Bay in Wales where she crafts novels based in the Medieval and Tudor period. Her main focus is on the perspective of historical women from all roles of life, prostitutes to queens.
Her novels include: The Beaufort Bride, The Beaufort Woman (Book One and Two of The Beaufort Chronicles); A Song of Sixpence; Intractable Heart; The Kiss of the Concubine; The Winchester Goose; The Song of Heledd; The Forest Dwellers, and Peaceweaver. She is currently working on Book Three of The Beaufort Chronicles: The King’s Mother.
Her non-fiction articles feature in various historical anthologies and magazines.

Author Contact Links:


Where to purchase the book:
or signed copies available from the author

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Spring Forward Book Attack

Do you like to read? Do you like free books? Of course, you do! This is Goodreads!
Support for Indie Authors is proud to announce our first Free & Bargain Book event of 2017!

Load up your Kindle with more than 125 free and 99¢ book deals in a wide variety of genres!

Details: For three days beginning Friday, March 31st and running through Sunday, April 2nd, visit our event website to nab a whack load of free and 99¢ Kindle ebooks by our indie author members.

That’s it! No RSVP, no obligation, and best of all, no need to put on pants!* Some books will be offered all three days, but there are many one day only freebies, so make sure to check the site each day!

*Pants are only optional if you are browsing our event from the comfort of your home. SIAFBB is not responsible for pantsless readers wandering aimlessly in public spaces.

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Murder Any Witch Way

Title: Murder Any Witch Way
By: N. M. Howell
Publisher:  Dungeon Media Corporation
Published Date: September 12, 2016
236 Pages, 492 KB
Genre: Cozy Paranormal Mystery

About the Book:

Being a witch is hard. It’s even harder when you live in a town that doesn’t believe in witches.

When young witch River Halloway moves to sleepy Brimstone Bay for her very first journalist job, she doesn’t expect to cover anything ground-breaking. That is, until a paranormal festival comes to town and a body is found on opening night. Now, with all evidence pointing towards a witch, River must find the true killer before she becomes the prime suspect, or worse, the next murder victim.

This is book 1 of the Brimstone Bay Mysteries series. If you’re a fan of Amanda M. Lee, Juliette Harper, and Amy Boyles, then be sure to get your fill of magic, mystery, and murder with this cozy new paranormal mystery series.

Book Excerpt:

Every day was a busy day at the office, given that the paper had only been around for a few weeks now and we were still trying to make a name for ourselves. JoAnn worked us extra hard, often expecting ten stories from each of us at a time, just to be sure that we didn’t run out of fresh material for the paper. It was a weekly publication, but by the number of hours that we worked every day, you would think that it was a daily report. I rolled my eyes with my back to her and took a big swig of the burning-hot coffee. God, it felt glorious.
When I turned back towards her, I noticed her eyeing the messy stack of papers I had on my desk and she raised her eyebrow quizzically like she so often liked to do.

“Oh, I just had an idea for a story. I wanted to get in early and prepare before you got here, but I’m not too sure I found what I was looking for.”

“Okay then, let’s hear it.” JoAnn picked up her cup, leaned back in her reclining chair with her feet up on the desk, and took a long sip of hot coffee. “What’ve you got?”

“Well, I was thinking. Nothing too exciting ever really seems to happen in this sleepy town. Why don’t we make something happen?”

“I’m listening.” She looked skeptical.

“Well.” I chose my words as cautiously as I could muster. “I heard the Shadow Festival is passing through Portland this week. Why don’t we ask them if they’ll come through Brimstone Bay on their tour?”

I sat in my chair and sipped my coffee, watching JoAnn as she stared at me wide-eyed.

She laughed suddenly. “You actually think a town like Brimstone Bay would allow the Shadow Festival to come through?” She laughed again.

“No, think about it. Summer is almost over and before we know it, fall will be here. The Shadow Festival will get people excited for the Halloween season. If anything, it will bring money into the town and help all the local businesses.

Besides, who doesn’t love a little spooky fun?”

She continued to laugh and shake her head. “It’s just not going to happen.”

“It would make for a great story,” I said. “There are only so many births, birthdays, and deaths that we can put in the paper before people start dying of boredom from what we’re writing.”

“I agree, it would make for a great story. It would certainly liven up this sleepy town. But there’s no way to get anyone here to agree to let the festival come through.” JoAnn sat her coffee on the desk and opened her laptop to begin her day’s work.

I chewed my lip, trying to think of ways that we could get past this hurdle. The Shadow Festival was a traveling fair that went from the West Coast to the East Coast and then back again each year, celebrating all things paranormal. Most people assumed it was just a show and took their kids there as a fun way to celebrate the beginning of the Halloween season. Sometimes, it was just a fun excuse to do something spooky in the off-season, depending on when they came through each town. They had all the typical treats like candied apples and caramel corn, but the real treat was seeing all the witches, werewolves, ghouls, and other paranormal creatures coming out in their full glory. They would be out and about and wouldn’t have to hide behind closed doors.

Of course, most people just thought that they were wearing costumes and were part of the show, but everyone from within the paranormal community knew otherwise. It was a fun way for us to get together, celebrate our heritage, and finally get to be ourselves in front of non-magical people. Not only was it fun and exciting, but it always drew a massive crowd and brought a lot of money into each city it traveled through. It was just the kind of thing that Brimstone Bay needed, both socially and economically.

“Well, if I can find a way to get approval from the mayor…” I eyed JoAnn, waiting to hear her response.

She glanced up at me from behind her laptop, raised her eyebrow again and made a mmhmm noise. “Well, you have my blessing, dear. Good luck with that.”

I grinned. What JoAnn didn’t know was that our young new mayor had a bit of a crush on me, and I had a feeling that I could persuade him to allow the festival to come to town. Not only did he like me, but he had spent the better part of 20 years in Los Angeles and was familiar with the paranormal community. Mayor Scott confided in me that he had a number of friends that were witches back in the city. While I never admitted to being one myself to him, I suspected he knew anyway.
I finished the rest of my first coffee, grabbed the second, picked up my sweater and backpack, and bounded out the front door before JoAnn could protest.

Author Bio:

N.M. Howell is an author, publisher, and all-around nerd from the West Coast of Canada. She has an obsession with coffee, spicy food, and the rain, and she absolutely hates sleeves! (Seriously, they’re like little fabric prisons.) When not working on her latest book – or latest ten books, more realistically – she spends her time working on her Master’s Thesis and fighting with her micro-wolf pup over who gets the best spot on the couch. Hint: the dog wins.


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A Roux of Revenge

A Roux of Revenge

By: Connie Archer

Genre: Mystery

A Roux of Revenge is set in Snowflake, Vermont and is the third Soup Lover’s mystery by Connie Archer.

Lucky Jamieson and her crew are busy preparing for Halloween and the Harvest Festival.  Ahh, Vermont in autumn…red and gold leaves and cool evenings that are perfect for a big bowl of pumpkin rice soup cooked up by soup chef, Sage.

While many of the town folks decide to have a booth at the Harvest Festival, Lucky and By the Spoonful staff decide to host a pumpkin carving contest at the restaurant.  Everyone gets into the spirit except for waitress, Janie, who is weary of the man watching her from across the street.  Who is he?  Is he one of the gypsy/carnival travelers or someone else?

Meanwhile, Sheriff Nate Edgerton has a mystery of his own to solve.  A suspicious vehicle accident occurred outside of town and the dead man driving the stolen van has no identification, so Nate decides to investigate the carnival workers to see if there is any connection.

Another mystery appears in the story when a retired insurance investigator tells about an armed robbery that took place years before that is still unsolved.

Is there any connection between the man watching Janie, the unidentified man in an accident and the unsolved robbery?

Join Lucky Jamieson as she works to solve the clues…one at a time.


About Connie Archer:

Connie Archer is the national bestselling author of the Soup Lover’s Mystery series set in Snowflake, Vermont — A Spoonful of Murder, A Broth of Betrayal, A Roux of Revenge, Ladle to the Grave and A Clue in the Stew. You can find excerpts from the Soup Lover’s Mystery series and Connie’s recipes in The Cozy Cookbook from Penguin Random House and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. Connie was born and raised in New England and loves writing about Vermont. Today she can be found on the other coast inventing soup recipes and designing plots.

You can visit her website and blog at

You can find her on Facebook at

Twitter @SnowflakeVT
Writing as Connie di Marco, she also writes the Zodiac Mysteries from Midnight Ink. The first book in the series, The Madness of Mercury was released on June 8, 2016.

You can visit her at,

Twitter:  @askzodia.

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Murder on Edisto

Title of Book: Murder on Edisto
By: C. Hope Clark
Genre: Mystery

Book Excerpt: When her husband is murdered by the Russian mob, Boston detective Callie Jean Morgan suffers a mental break and relinquishes her badge to return to South Carolina. She has no idea how to proceed with her life, but her son deserves to move on with his, so she relocates them to the family vacation home.

But the day they arrive on Edisto Beach, Callie finds her childhood mentor and elderly neighbor murdered. Her fragile sanity is threatened when the murderer taunts her, and the home that was to be her sanctuary is repeatedly violated. Callie loses her fight to walk away from law enforcement as she becomes the only person able to pursue the culprit who’s turned the coastal paradise into a paranoid patch of sand where nobody’s safe. But what will it cost her?

An explosion shot flames out of the roof. She pulled against the officer. “John!”

Firemen labored to unravel more hoses. In the background, she heard Jeb screaming for his father above all the sirens and people hollering.

A deafening blast. The force hurled her and the cop backward across the lawn. Air whooshed from her lungs as her back slammed into the grass. She lay half-dazed, but pain still tore through her left forearm.

Two firemen lifted her and smothered her burning sleeve, careful not to hit the jagged piece of embedded shrapnel.

She stared numb at the burning wreckage of her home as someone fussed over her arm. No one could have survived.

Then, as if to confirm the terrible finality, she caught the reality of John’s death in the sorrow of a fireman’s eyes, the slow shake of his head to his partner. Their glance back at her.

Jeb beat his way through the throng and threw himself into her arms. At first she didn’t hear his sobs, then her son’s deep wrenching cries reverberated hard against her collarbone. She dug her fingers into his hair, her injured arm around his trembling body.

“Shhh,” she said against Jeb’s shoulder. She couldn’t bring herself to say everything would be all right. Nothing would ever be right again. As she stroked his head, she squeezed her eyes shut and her tears leaked into his shirt. She could pray John was kidnapped, but her heart told her it just wasn’t so.


Author Bio: C. Hope Clark holds a fascination with the mystery genre and is author of The Carolina Slade Mystery Series as well as the Edisto Beach Series, both set in her home state of South Carolina. In her previous federal life, she performed administrative investigations and married the agent she met on a bribery investigation. She enjoys nothing more than editing her books on the back porch with him, overlooking the lake with bourbons in hand. She can be found either on the banks of Lake Murray or Edisto Beach with one or two dachshunds in her lap. Hope is also editor of the award-winning Find out more about her at

Author Contact Links:
Twitter – @hopeclark

Where to purchase the book: and anywhere books are sold. Autographed copies available at

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The Lady in the Attic









Several years ago while browsing through an Annie’s craft magazine, I saw the advertisement for this book, The Lady in the Attic.  While I was captivated by the title and description, I never ordered it.

While at a yard sale recently, I came across a book case of “free” books and among them was The Lady in the Attic.  I could not pass up this book!  I added it to my shopping basket and took it home.

Now, I am reading another book, but since this one had been on my radar for several years, I took a few moments to start reading it.  Before too long, I was finished.

I was going to write a review here on my blog, however, I think you will get a better understanding for the book by viewing the book trailer here.

The Lady in the Attic was written by Tara Randel.


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When Mrs. Bookmark applies for a kitchen job

A Scheduled Book Tour

My Mum, the Dinner Lady by R. B.N. Bookmark


It was April 1972, and I had settled down fairly well at St Iggy’s. The initial brawls to establish my middle ranking in the class hierarchy were over, and for the most part, I’d arrive home with my clothes and nose still intact.

The miners’ strike was in full swing, and Britain had become a cold and dark place to live.

One of our neighbours had hit upon the idea of making her own candles, a very enterprising thing to do in light of the “dark” economic situation at the time. My mum bought a few, but within minutes of them being lit, the room would smell of chip fat and other more nondescript odours of a dubious nature. We persuaded Mum not to buy any more, and the earth’s ozone layer was given a short reprieve.

One morning at school assembly, Mr. Bishop announced that the school was looking for a new dinner lady to work in the kitchen and if we knew of anyone to tell them to get in touch with the head. When I arrived home later that day, I mentioned it to Mum, as she was always going on about returning to work now we were grown up.

“If you like I’ll speak to the headmaster and book an appointment for you to come over.”

Mum couldn’t say yes fast enough, and the next day I knocked on Mr. Bishop’s door. “Come in,” said that all-too-familiar commanding deep voice.

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