When you make a conscious choice to be happy, no one can take it away from you because no one gave it to you: you gave it to yourself.

A quote from April Green's - Bloom For Yourself Journal

Friday, 13 May 2022

Welcoming M. K. Tod and her book - The Admiral's Wife - to my blog

Today I'm welcoming M.K.Tod and her book - The Admiral's Wife to my blog as part of the blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club (founded by Mary Anne Yarde)

I'm delighted to share an excerpt with you all, but first I will introduce the book.

The Admiral's Wife

The lives of two women living in Hong Kong more than a century apart are unexpectedly linked by forbidden love and financial scandal.

In 2016, Patricia Findlay leaves a high-powered career to move to Hong Kong, where she hopes to rekindle the bonds of family and embrace the city of her ancestors. Instead, she is overwhelmed by feelings of displacement and depression. To make matters worse, her father, CEO of the family bank, insists that Patricia’s duty is to produce an heir, even though she has suffered three miscarriages.

In 1912, when Isabel Taylor moves to Hong Kong with her husband, Henry, and their young daughter, she struggles to find her place in such a different world and to meet the demands of being the admiral’s wife. At a reception hosted by the governor of Hong Kong, she meets Li Tao-Kai, an influential member of the Chinese community and a man she met a decade earlier when he was a student at Cambridge.

As the story unfolds, each woman must consider where her loyalties lie and what she is prepared to risk for love.

Trigger Warnings:
Brief sex scenes


“Family secrets and personal ambitions, east and west, collide in this compelling, deeply moving novel." -- Weina Dai Randel, award-winning author of THE LAST ROSE OF


“Irresistible and absorbing.” Janie Chang, bestselling author of THE LIBRARY OF LEGENDS

Publication Date: 11th April 2022

Publisher: Heath Street Publishing

Page Length: 390 Pages

Genre: Dual-Timeline

You can purchase a copy of the book via -

Amazon (Universal Link):

Now for the excerpt -

At 6:00 p.m., Kennedy Road was still crowded along the winding section that cut across Victoria Peak. Hong Kong’s ubiquitous red taxis dodged from lane to lane as they ferried commuters from offices in Sheung Wan, Central, and Wan Chai to apartment buildings that crammed the hillside like an invading army. Patricia stared out the tinted windows of their limousine, idly reading the names mounted on each grand entrance gate: Camelot Heights, Wing Wai Court, Amber Garden, Bamboo Grove.

“You seem moody,” Andrew said.

“Do I?” She turned to look at him. “I’m sorry. I guess I’m still annoyed with my father.”

“Come on, sweetheart. That was more than a week ago. Just ignore him and find a job on your own.” He squeezed her hand. “What’s happened to my strong, capable wife? The woman who could handle tough negotiations with people who had twice as much experience.”

Patricia flashed him a little smile. “You’re right,” she said. “But the whole thing still pisses me off.”

Her husband rubbed the red stubble on his face, a sign that he was weighing his next words. “Should we return to New York?” he asked.

She pushed a strand of long black hair behind one ear. “No, no, no. We can’t go back to the U.S. My father would have a fit. So would my mother. But I’m going nuts with nothing to do.”

During the first three or four months in Hong Kong, Patricia had spent her days organizing their spacious apartment, exploring the city, spending time with her family, and indulging in what she thought of as frivolous pursuits like shopping and weekly pedicures. She had also played tennis, learned mahjong, taken up qigong, and made a few friends. After almost twenty years of working in a demanding career, she’d considered this interlude a well-deserved rest.

Depression had come on unexpectedly. The first sign was difficulty getting out of bed in the morning. General fatigue and irritability had followed, and there were days when she just couldn’t focus. Andrew had encouraged her to go to the doctor. Doctor Leung, her mother’s GP, had prescribed pills but after less than a month Patricia had stopped taking the medication. At the same time, she’d resolved to get back to work.

“I know it’s been difficult,” Andrew said. He took her hand again and ran his thumb across her fingers. “You’ll find something. But please don’t antagonize your father tonight. I’m finally making headway at the bank. I think he’s even beginning to appreciate my skills, which is an improvement over resenting me. If he believes he can trust me, there could be more opportunity here than back home. And more money. I have to think of the kids.”

“I wish we could see them,” she said. Sadness surged across her chest.

“So do I. Very much. But they’ll be here for Christmas.”

Andrew’s ex-wife had primary custody of his two children. When Patricia and Andrew lived in New York, Steven and Emma had spent every other weekend with them, but now that they were in Hong Kong, visits could only be scheduled during summer holidays, spring break, and Christmas, unless business took Andrew to the U.S. After agonizing over the decision, she and Andrew had agreed to restrict their relocation to three years. They both missed his children terribly, a sacrifice made more
acute by her inability to carry a baby to term.

Patricia looked at her husband, whose pale blue eyes were bloodshot from a string of late nights. She was being unreasonable but couldn’t help herself. Situations that she would have dismissed as trivial when they lived in New York had become major sources of discontent and angst.

“If I had a job . . .” Her voice trailed off. They’d been round and round the topic all week. Andrew was becoming exasperated.

“Well, given your father’s reaction, you should probably wait a while before raising that topic again.” Andrew withdrew his hand and fingered the crease of his dark gray pants. “What about looking outside banking? You’re a great project manager.”

“Maybe,” Patricia said. “But so far, every possibility I’ve found requires Asian experience and fluency in Cantonese or Mandarin.” She sighed. “Dammit. Why does he always make things so difficult?”

“To tell you the truth, I have no idea. Probably because he can. I admire many of your father’s tactics. But I don’t like the way he treats people, especially you.” Andrew’s voice was gentler than before. “Aren’t you seeing someone about that board position?”

“Mm-hmm. Arthur Chung said it’s mine if I want it.” She linked her fingers with Andrew’s. “We’re meeting Friday afternoon for a briefing on the role he wants me to play. I’m sure he only asked me to get a donation from Ah Ba, but it could be interesting.”

Their driver merged the Mercedes onto Queen’s Road East, past hotels and schools along with a Sikh temple and remnants of air-raid tunnels built during the Second World War. Traffic was at a standstill.

“Well, make the best of it for now,” he said. “I’m sure things will get better.”

Patricia knew her husband was trying to be helpful, but his remark felt patronizing. She hated being patronized. Unlike many of her male colleagues who had underestimated her abilities, Andrew had treated her as an equal from the day they’d met. Had their new circumstances changed his perspective? Was she only his equal when they were both working?

After she’d told him about the conversation with her father, Andrew had asked why she’d allowed her parents to persuade her to live in a place that had never been her home. Patricia hadn’t replied. And ever since, the question had hovered, unsettling in its stark clarity.

She loved her parents, despite their idiosyncrasies and traditional ways. And they loved her. Of that she was certain. Eighteen months earlier, when she and Andrew still lived in New York, her mother had ended a lengthy argument about Patricia’s duty to her family by saying, “We’ll be dead soon and then you’ll be sorry you never came back.”

That conversation had been the tipping point. After much debate, Andrew had agreed to try living in Hong Kong. They’d also agreed that if it didn’t work out, they would return to New York. Ever since, she’d felt displaced, torn between Andrew’s world and the Chinese world of her parents. Her husband expected a modern businesswoman with Western values; her parents expected a dutiful Chinese daughter. The two were irreconcilable.

“I wonder when this place is going to feel like home,” Patricia said.

“You’re the one—”

“Yes, I know,” she said. “I’m the one who wanted to move here. I’m just a little out of sorts. But don’t worry. I’ll make nice with my father. You should know, though, that I’m not going to put up with him telling me what to do any longer.”

M.K. Tod

M.K. (Mary) Tod’s interest in historical fiction began as a teenager immersed in the stories of Rosemary Sutcliff, Jean Plaidy, and Georgette Heyer. In 2004, her husband’s career took them to Hong Kong where, with no job and few prospects, Mary began what became Unravelled, her first novel. The Admiral’s Wife is her fifth novel.

Mary’s award-winning blog,, focuses on reading and writing historical fiction. She’s an active member of the historical fiction community and has conducted five unique reader surveys on topics from readers’ habits and preferences to favorite historical fiction authors. Mary is happily married to her high-school sweetheart. They have two adult children and two delightful grandsons.

You can connect with Mary Tod via these platforms -

Monday, 9 May 2022

Welcoming Phil Hughes and his book -The Alcoholic Mercenary - to my blog

Today I'm welcoming Phil Hughes and his book - The Alcoholic Mercenary to my blog as part of the blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club (founded by Mary Anne Yarde)

Delighted to share an excerpt with you all, but first I will introduce the book.

The Alcoholic Mercenary

They said, See Naples and then die!

Rachel had thought it was to do with the natural beauty of the place. A misconception she soon lost after climbing down from the C130 troop carrier. The suspicious death of her predecessor, followed by the murder of a sailor, and an enforced liaison with a chauvinistic and probably corrupt cop saw to that.

See Naples and then die!

Some said the saying was anonymous. Some attributed it to Goethe. Still, others said it was Lord Byron, or maybe Keats. When the young brother of a mercenary hitman became her main suspect, Rachel leant towards Keats. Didnt the poet die here? Somewhere near, for sure. Probably coined the phrase on his deathbed.

And then, the cherry on the top of her ice cream soda, she could smell grappa on the breath of the mercenary when she interviewed him. The only thing worse than a violent man: a violent man who drinks.

The only thing worse than a violent man who drinks: a violent man who drinks and considers himself Rachels enemy.

Publication Date: 30th April 2022

Publisher: PerchedCrowPress

Page Length: 350 Pages

Genre: Historical Crime

You can purchase a copy of the book via -

Universal Amazon Link:

You can also find the book on Kindle Unlimited.

Now for the excerpt -

Quantico, USA

Arriving in the Director’s anteroom, Rachel asked, ‘Do you know what it’s about?’

The aide shook his head, not looking up from his spreadsheet. Director’s weekly planner, or whatever. Rachel couldn’t read it upside down, nor did she have any inclination.

Her thoughts were on the summons. It had come from nowhere. She’d been in her office working on the probability of an armed invasion of Afghanistan when Special Agent Thomas knocked on her doorframe, smiled – flashing at least a thousand bucks of dental work – and ordered her to go see the Director. Rachel had asked Thomas what it was about as she stood and smoothed down her slacks, palms already turning slick with sweat, suddenly glad she’d chosen a dark pantsuit. But Thomas just tutted and shooed her out.

During the five-minute walk to Hubble’s office, Rachel racked her brains for what it might be about. She could think of nothing; had done nothing deserving either praise or castigation. Still, she knew it had to be the latter because Hubble was not renowned for issuing the former.

‘Take a seat, Rachel. The Director will be with you shortly. He’s just finishing a call,’ the aide said, still not looking up. Rachel nodded and took a seat on the leather couch opposite the man’s desk.

What was going on? Whatever it was, it was an annoyance. She could ill-afford the time, working hard on the risk assessment, the NIS counter-threat remit having taken on a new meaning with the growing crisis in Afghanistan. Rachel had spent the last weeks looking into risks associated with possible actions from the Sixth Fleet in response to an invasion. She needed to be in her office. Not here, crossing and uncrossing her legs.

The intercom buzzed. Rachel looked up expectantly. The aide nodded at her and moved around the desk to open the door into the inner sanctum. Walking through, she looked at the Director, seated on the other side of his rosewood desk. His face was set in an unfathomable mask, a look that would give a Navy SEAL reason to pause. Rachel stopped, unsure of herself, once again throwing her mind into the recent past, trying to think what she’d done to earn his displeasure.

‘Please sit,’ Hubble said, gesturing at a chair with an open palm.

Rachel watched the aide close the door before taking the offered seat. She felt an urge to rub her hands on her thighs, to rid her of the sweat gathering on her palms, a sweat that first started in high school when her peers would jeer at her and call her names. Instead, she placed them in her lap, keeping her face as neutral as she could. What could it be? Nothing presented as a solution.

Is it Afghanistan? Have the Soviets invaded?

‘How long have you been with me now, Rachel?’ Hubble asked. 

‘A year and a bit, sir.’

She could have said one year, eleven months, and twelve days. She knew to the minute when Jake had turned his back on her in the municipal park. Walking away into an unknown future. Leaving her and her love behind without a backward glance. She hated to admit that she missed him. She thought she probably still loved him, but often a feeling of loathing replaced that thought. How could he just abandon their marriage like that? Abandon her? Head to Washington, like he’d dreamed of since snapping at the ankles of those around him.

‘Nearer two,’ Hubble said, smiling.

Why would he be smiling? After her initial meeting with him, she hadn’t spoken to the Director at all. Apart from team meetings, she barely saw him. She’d been starting to think Jake’s assessment was less knee jerk reaction and more realistic than she had given him credit for.

Wouldn’t Jake just love this?

‘Really, sir. I hadn’t realised,’ Rachel said with a frown.

‘No. Far too busy to be thinking of such mundanities, I should imagine. What are you working on, Afghanistan?’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘How’s it going?’ Hubble asked, broadening his smile. Confused, Rachel didn’t allow it to sway her, to daunt her, looking him in the eye as she shrugged. ‘I mean the job, rather than the Afghan crisis.’

‘It’s all relative,’ she said.

Truth be told, after being admitted to his inner circle, she’d expected a faster progression. At least one promotion. A career with wings. Instead, this morning, she arrived here expecting the Director to tear her a new one for some innocent infringement.

‘I know you find it all slow,’ Hubble said, head angled sympathetically, more condescending than sympathetic.

‘Yes, sir,’ she said. Just another chauvinist, flashed through her mind.

Suddenly, her nerves of moments before dissipated. She was just sitting opposite another senior officer. Another chauvinist in a service that was full of them. She wondered what it would feel like to sit on the other side of that desk when she became Director.

‘I also expected miracles when I graduated top of the year,’ Hubble continued with a shake of the head and a smile, fond memories. ‘Course, the reality is never in line with expectations

‘No, sir. Of course. I just…’ She trailed off, unsure what she wanted to say. 

‘Yes, I understand. Well, your opportunity is here now, Rachel. You’ve spent the best part of two years at Quantico. The brass have decided you need to be tested.’

‘Tested, sir?’

‘Yes. Bit of fieldwork.’

Rachel swallowed several times. Fieldwork was not what she’d expected – or wanted. Senior Field Agent in some no hope hole at the back end of nowhere was not high on her priority list. Not when the promotion path began in Quantico.

‘There is a sudden vacancy we need to fill.’

‘Sudden vacancy, sir?’ Dead man’s boots, she realised. Her day was nose-diving real quick. There were no plaudits from being sent to fill the footwear of a corpse. No one would say, “She deserved that.”

‘Yes.’ He looked down at the report on his desk. ‘SAC Alex Troy, NSA in Naples. Sudden infarction at his desk. Died on the spot. One of his Junior Field Agents found him several hours after the event. Sad.’

‘Several hours later? Is that not a little suspicious, sir?’ It sure as hell sounded suspicious to Rachel and not just because it hit close to home.

‘I’m not following.’

‘Why did someone in his team not discover him sooner? I don’t know when bringing him a coffee or reporting on activities in the field.’

And give him CPR instead of just letting him die.

‘He was not active in the field agent side of his duties.’

‘And the other side?’ she asked, trying to hide her scepticism.

‘No. Troy was not really active there, either.’

‘I see.’ Baking with the alligators. Great. ‘North Naples in Florida?’

‘No, Naples, Italy. There is a heavy naval presence there because it’s the headquarters of AFSOUTH, Allied Forces South. Us and the Brits, mostly, but all the other nations too.’

Phil Hughes

Although educated in Classical Studies, Phil is the author of several historical crime novels. Having spent many years living in the Mafia infested hinterlands of Naples, Phil bases his novels on his experiences while living there. Much of what he includes in his stories is based on real events witnessed first-hand.

Having retired from writing and editing technical documentation for a living, Phil now lives in Wexford with his partner and their border terriers, Ruby, Maisy, and the new addition Ted. He writes full time and where better to do it than in the Sunny South East of Ireland.

 You can contact Phil Hughes via these platforms -






Amazon Author Page:


You can learn more about the author and the blog by visiting the other blogs on this tour.

That's it for now.

Till the next time.

Take care Zoe.

Friday, 22 April 2022

Welcoming Amy Maroney and her book - Sea of Shadows - to my blog

Today I'm welcoming Amy Maroney and her book - Sea of Shadows (Sea and Stone Chronicles book 2) to my blog as part of the blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club (founded by Mary Anne Yarde)

I am delighted to share an excerpt with you all, but first I will introduce the book.

Sea of Shadows
1459. A gifted woman artist. A ruthless Scottish privateer. And an audacious plan that throws them together—with dangerous consequences. 

No one on the Greek island of Rhodes suspects Anica is responsible for her Venetian father’s exquisite portraits, least of all her wealthy fiancé. But her father’s vision is failing, and with every passing day it’s more difficult to conceal the truth.

When their secret is discovered by a powerful knight of the Order of St. John, Anica must act quickly to salvage her father’s honor and her own future. Desperate, she enlists the help of a fierce Scottish privateer named Drummond. Together, they craft a daring plan to restore her father’s sight.

There’s only one problem—she never imagined falling in love with her accomplice.

Before their plan can unfold, a shocking scandal involving the knights puts Anica’s entire family at risk. Her only hope is to turn to Drummond once again, defying her parents, her betrothed, even the Grand Master of the Knights himself. But can she survive the consequences?

With this captivating tale of passion, courage, and loyalty, Amy Maroney brings a lost, dazzling world to vivid life.

Sea of Shadows is Book 2 in a series of stand-alone historical novels packed with
adventure and romance.

Publication Date: 12th April 2022

Publisher: Artelan Press

Page Length: 396 Pages

Genre: Historical suspense/romance

You can purchase a copy of the book via -

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Amazon CA:

Amazon AU:

Now for the excerpt -

Summer, 1459

Rhodes Town

A man appeared at Émile de Chambonac’s elbow, dressed in a long tunic of burnt-orange silk. Drummond recognized him as the agent who had taken the gold from him at the harbor. The man smiled, revealing small, widely spaced teeth.

“Our supper awaits,” he said smoothly. “Lord de Milly has promised me the Scotsman’s ear, and I’m eager to take my place at his side.”

Drummond studied him. “And you are . . . ?”

“Guillaume Lopic, at your service. Servant of the Order.”

Servant? The man was dressed like a noble. Gold rings adorned nearly every finger on his hands. His short brown beard was painstakingly oiled.

“I’m surprised we haven’t already met,” Drummond said. “I’d never clapped eyes on you before that day at the harbor.”

“I’ve been living in Genoa these past few years, representing the Order and protecting its interests with our allies. Please, Master Fordun, follow me. The grand master desires us both to sit at the high table with him.”

The young knight made to follow them, but Monsieur Lopic put up a hand. “Émile, I believe you’ll find a place on a bench at that table over there, with the other novice knights.”

The man frowned, his lower lip thrust out in a display of petulance that nearly forced a laugh from Drummond, and slunk away.

Drummond took his seat in a heavy oak chair at the head table. A servant poured a long stream of wine into his cup. He began to guzzle it, then stopped himself.

Steady, man. You’ve got to keep a few wits about you tonight.

Before him lay a knife, a spoon, and a two-pronged silver instrument with a long mother-of-pearl handle he recognized as a fork, an item common on tables in Alexandria and Damascus but something he rarely saw anywhere else. The knights’ vow of poverty—it, too, was merely a guideline, Sir Peter always said with a wink.

The musicians strolled into the center of the room, playing their courtly tunes. Shoveling in a spoonful of roasted peacock mixed with saffron-scented rice, Drummond relaxed a little. He might as well enjoy the feast itself.

“So, Master Drummond,” Guillaume Lopic said. “The Mamluk peace holds, thanks to you. A fragile peace indeed, all too easily frayed.”

“I just do my job and follow orders. I don’t know much about the Mamluks or peace accords.”

This wasn’t entirely true. Drummond did know that the Mamluks were descended from elite Turkish slaves who had been taken from their families and raised to be ruthless warriors. They’d turned their fate around when they overthrew the Egyptian Sultanate, making them the rulers of Egypt to this day. What he had little knowledge of was the patchwork of diplomatic arrangements between the Mamluks and various other powers in this part of the world, including the Order. And quite honestly, he didn’t care to learn all the details.

“I find it confusing myself,” Lopic said, spearing a morsel of peacock with his fork. “No sooner is a truce arranged than it falls apart again.”

He was clearly no stranger to the utensil in his hand. Drummond, for his part, had no intention of handling his own spindly little fork, especially not when he was sitting at the high table during a lavish feast. Why invite embarrassment to an already charged moment?

“As long as we rule the seas, the Mamluks will continue to negotiate with us,” his companion went on. “So a man like yourself—well, your service to the knights is equal in value to my own, though our work is quite different.”

“What is it you do, then?” Drummond asked, eyeing him sideways.

“I began as a notary, and my skill with languages launched me to the highest ranks of the Order’s servants. I help smooth over diplomatic tangles for the knights, usually by wielding a quill and an inkpot, unlike you with your swords and crossbows.”

“Ah.” Drummond helped himself to a pile of grilled octopus from a platter offered by a servant. He’d been slow to warm up to this popular treat when he first arrived in Rhodes, but now he eagerly consumed it every time he had the chance.

“Of course, as a Frenchman, my loyalties are twofold: to the Order and to my kingdom.”

“Naturally.” Drummond reached for a piece of flatbread glistening with olive oil, wondering how many slices he could consume without looking like a complete glutton. He had not eaten this well in months.

Lopic put down his cup. “Tonight, I have a delicate matter to address, something that encompasses both loyalties at once.”

Drummond swallowed an enormous mouthful of bread and stifled a belch. “Is that so?”

“Yes. I’ve been instructed to find a suitable protector for a newcomer to the Order, someone whose life is very precious indeed. Someone who needs a bit of extra guidance in the art of war.”

A sinking feeling struck Drummond in the gut. “Who do you speak of?”

Lopic took up his cup again and gestured to one of the lower tables. “Émile de Chambonac. His father is Lord de Milly’s cousin, and a generous benefactor to the Order.”

“Has he seen any action at all?” Drummond asked bluntly.

Lopic smiled. “Only at the hands of his sword masters. Of course, he’s got enthusiasm and the courage of youth. But he needs seasoning. Lord de Milly will send him out on a mission or two, to please him and his father, but only under the strictest surveillance of a trusted man. You would be the ideal candidate for such a role. Despite the risks, the great danger of the seas, you and your men return alive from every mission, against all odds. There’s no one better suited to take De Chambonac under his wing.”

A slow burn of uneasiness crept up Drummond’s throat. He watched the young knight regale his seat mates with some story, then sulk peevishly when their attention was diverted elsewhere. He was barely more than a child. A spoiled, daft child. One who’d made sport of killing a lone fisherman at sea. And Drummond was supposed to invite him onto his vessel? Be a mother hen to a strutting little cockerel?

He turned and looked Lopic full in the face. “I’m guessing I don’t have the option to refuse,” he said. “But know this. When I’m on the seas, it’s as an agent of the Order. If a knight joins my crew and puts all of us in danger, he will be breaking the one vow that has any teeth in this organization—the vow of obedience. If that boy—forgive me, man—does not follow my commands at sea, I’ll have no choice but to return him to Rhodes. Have I made myself clear?”

Lopic nodded, his shrewd brown eyes never leaving Drummond’s. “Perfectly.”

Drummond raised his cup and drained it dry.

Amy Maroney

Amy Maroney studied English Literature at Boston University and worked for many years as a writer and editor of nonfiction. She lives in Oregon, U.S.A. with her family. When she’s not diving down research rabbit holes, she enjoys hiking, dancing, traveling, and reading. Amy is the author of The Miramonde Series, an award-winning historical fiction trilogy about a Renaissance-era female artist and the modern-day scholar on her trail. Her new historical suspense/romance series, Sea and Stone Chronicles, is set in medieval Rhodes and Cyprus.

You can connect with Amy Maroney via these platforms -







Amazon Author Page:


You can learn more about the book and the author by visiting the other blogs on the tour. 

That's it for now.
Till the next time.
Take care Zoe.

Thursday, 21 April 2022

Welcoming Holly Bush and her book - The Professor's Lady - to my blog.

Today I'm welcoming Holly Bush and her book - The Professor's Lady (The Thompsons of Locust Street, Book 3) to my blog as part of the blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club (founded by Mary Anne Yarde)

I am delighted to share an excerpt with you all, but first I will introduce the book.

The Professor's Lady

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

1870 Kirsty Thompson is determined to begin her own business bringing beloved Scottish fabrics and yarns to Philadelphia but first she must meet the men and women who weave the plaids and spin the wool. How will she ever escape her protective older siblings and sail to Scotland?

Albert Watson is a medical doctor focusing on research, especially that of Joseph Lister and his sterilization techniques. He speaks at universities in America and in England while visiting his London relatives. As he prepares to sail for just such an engagement, Kirsty Thompson boards his ship to beg him to take her with him. Whats a gentleman to do? Albert cancels his trip across the ocean to escort Miss Thompson back to Philadelphia and finds there is danger afoot for her and her family.

Soon he comes to realize there is also danger for his heart, even for a man who rarely pulls his nose from a medical journal. He finds himself unable to put Miss Kirsty Thompson out of his thoughts, where they belonged, because certainly a beautiful, ambitious, and charming young woman could have no interest in him. Or could she?

Publication Date: 25th January 2022

Publisher: Holly Bush Books

Page Length: 216 Pages

Genre: Historical Romance Gilded Age

You can purchase the book via -

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Amazon CA:

Amazon AU:

Barnes and Noble:


Apple Books:

Now for the excerpt -

Muireall Thompson woke with a start from where she’d been dozing in the parlor of the Thompson home at 75 Locust Street, Philadelphia. “Has anything happened?”

“Nothing,” James said. His wife, Lucinda, was upstairs in one of the beds trying to sleep, although he doubted she would. Nothing had happened as of yet, he thought, but James was sick with fear that the men after their family, especially after his younger brother, had taken Kirsty just like they’d taken Elspeth two years ago to hold her for ransom. There but by the grace of God she’d been rescued before anyone had harmed her more than could be healed. And in the end, Elspeth, always quiet and seemingly fragile, had killed a man with a knife as he beat her with his fists. He glanced at her as she came through the door.

“Mrs. McClintok is making some sweet rolls for us, and I’ve got tea,” Elspeth said as she carried the tea tray awkwardly on her swollen belly. Her husband, Alexander, jumped to his feet.

“Let me carry that,” he said. “You should be off of your feet.”

Tears rolled down her cheeks. “I can’t, Alexander! I can’t sit still for one more minute worrying about Kirsty. I have to do something!”

“It’s after four in the morning, Elspeth,” James said. “We don’t need tea.”

“I’ll have tea,” Muireall said. “Where is Payden?” 

“In the kitchen with Mrs. McClintok and Robbie, sound asleep on his arms at the table. I tried to get him to go to his room, but he will not listen to me,” Elspeth said as her lip trembled.

“Elspeth, darling,” Alexander led her to the settee, “please sit. You are upsetting yourself.”

She looked at him and wobbled a smile. “I am being silly, am I not? But I just can’t help myself.”

“Is this what I have to look forward to?” James asked.

Muireall arched a brow, and their great-aunt Murdoch’s eyes flew open. “What are you saying, boy?”

He shook his head and returned to peering out between the curtains to the street. “Someone is coming.”

Alexander jumped to his feet and followed James to the front door. “Could you see who it was?” he asked. 

“It looked like one of those telegram messengers,” James said.

The brass door knocker clattered, and James pulled the door open quickly, yanked the man inside, and shoved him against the wall.

“Hey,” the man yelled, losing his cap. “Whatcha doing? Leave me be!”

“Where is she?” James growled and tightened his hold on the man’s neck.

“Don’t know what you’re talking about! Just delivering a message to 75 Locust Street!”

“Let him talk, James,” Alexander said and held up the cap he’d picked up from the floor. “It says ‘Bernardo’s Messenger Service’ on this card on his hat.”

James released the man and stepped back. “What are you doing here? Who sent you?”

The man grabbed his cap from Alexander. “I’m here because my boss paid me extra to deliver the message in my satchel in the middle of the night. Special delivery from New York City.” He looked up with wide eyes at Alexander, who was aiming a pistol at him.

“Slowly,” Alexander said. “Pull out that message slowly.”

“Here,” the man said and handed over the recognizable telegram envelope to James. 

“He might be telling the truth.” Alexander lowered his weapon. Muireall slipped into the entranceway, coins in her hand.

“Here is a tip for your trouble.”

“Don’t want no money, ma’am. Just want to get out of here.”

James opened the door, and the man ran down the steps, glancing over his shoulder as he did. He handed Muireall the letter. “It’s addressed to you.”

Muireall took the telegram and went into the parlor. She slit the envelope and pulled out two pieces of paper. She unfolded one and plopped down on the seat behind her, her hand over her mouth.

“What is it?” Elspeth asked. “Tell us!”

“She’s fine.”

Elspeth burst into tears, and James dropped down to his haunches in front of Aunt Murdoch. “Where is she?” he asked.

Muireall scanned the letter. “In New York. At a hotel. With Albert Watson.”

“Albert? What is she doing with Albert?” Alexander asked.

Muireall began to read:

Couldn’t get off the boat. I am fine, with Mr. Watson in NYC hotel, someone tried to kill me, be home soon.

“A New York hotel? I’m going to kill her,” James said. “I’m going to f—”

“James,” Lucinda said from the doorway.

“And then I’m going to kill Watson!” James said.

Muireall held up her hand:

Miss Thompson safe but not out of danger. Escorting her home on the 16th.

“He is the one that took her into dinner on the night of your party, isn’t he, Alexander?” Muireall asked.

“He is, and although this is highly unusual, Albert is to be trusted. He’ll guard Kirsty with his life if necessary.”

“What could possibly be the reason she got on a boat?” Elspeth asked.

Lucinda walked into the room and sat down on the arm of Aunt Murdoch’s chair. “I believe I know. She told me she wants to visit Scotland to meet the people she’s been corresponding with about importing wool. She knows that Mr. Watson travels back and forth to England because he still has family there and for his work in medical research. She was going to ask him to escort her and a companion on a voyage to Scotland since he would be traveling there anyway.”

“That is absurd! Albert would never agree to escort her,” Alexander said.

“But it does sound so much like our dear Kirsty,” Elspeth said and patted her eyes.

“How did she know what ship he would be on?” Muireall asked.

“That is my fault,” Lucinda said. “My aunt’s stepson has been meeting with Mr. Watson and getting help from him with some advanced studies. Kirsty was at our house the day Geoffrey told us of Mr. Watson’s plans to sail on the Maybelle on the fourteenth.”

“Good God, that girl will be the death of me,” Aunt Murdoch said. “And she’s going to have to marry this Watson person after this escapade.”

“We must not jump to conclusions, Aunt,” Muireall said.

“Be realistic, Muireall. Kirsty, our Kirsty, sleeping in a room alone with a handsome man—and I think he was, if I remember correctly. She’d be . . . energetic,” Aunt said.

Alexander looked away, and James gritted his teeth.

“If he has touched her, I’ll kill him, regardless of how energetic she was,” James growled.

“I fear this is my fault.” Lucinda turned to Muireall. “Of course, I discouraged her plans before that day with Geoffrey, but I never in my wildest dreams thought she would board the Maybelle.”

“Kirsty can be . . . unpredictable, Lucinda. You could not have prevented this.”

“Also, energetic,” James said and shook his head. “I’m going to kill her.”

Payden McTavish Thompson, the Tenth Earl of Taviston, moved from the door where he’d been standing, listening to the telegrams Muireall read. “But more than any of it, they are back. Plowman is back, and we must be on our guard.”

Holly Bush

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

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That's it for now.

Till the next time.

Take care Zoe.