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 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

You can connect with Holly Bush via these platforms -








Amazon Author Page:


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

That's it for now.

Till the next time.

Take care Zoe.

Friday 15 April 2022

Welcoming Nadine Kampen and her book - The Brantford Wagers - to my blog

Today I'm welcoming Nadine Kampen and her book - The Brantford Wagers (The Brantford series book 1) to my blog as part of the blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club (founded by Mary Anne Yarde)

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

The Brantford Wager

Is Clara Vincent ready to risk it all for love?

Clara Vincent is “the artful dodger” when it comes to marriage, especially when her father is bent on match-making. Will her attitude change when she meets two eligible suitors and is drawn into the lives of intensely competitive families? Clara falls unexpectedly in love, but when fortunes are reversed and relationships up-ended, she needs to decide whether to trust James Brantford, who is seeking retribution, or accept the love of the man everyone else believes is her ideal match.

As the Brantford wagers unfold and lay bare the history of past relationships, will Clara be able to learn the truth and finally follow her heart?

Publication Date: 20th January 2022

Publisher: Birdsgate Publishing

Page Length: 358 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Regency Romance

You can purchase a copy of the book via -

Now for the excerpt -

From Chapter 15 - The Seton Ball 

The fact that these were Mr Brantford’s guests, while not being the best of news, was somewhat reassuring. It would be natural, thought Clara, for Mr Brantford to remain with them. She craned her neck a little and saw him approaching across the length of the hall, coming towards her. When he addressed her, she felt completely confused.

‘Miss Vincent,’ he said, ‘Would you be so kind as to dance this next set with me?’ 

‘Oh,’ she blushed. ‘Are you certain?’ 

‘Completely, yes, of course. Is that a yes, or a no?’ 

‘Thank you, yes,’ she said, recovering her composure.

There is nothing else that James Brantford could have done to engage the interest of almost everyone in the room than to arrive with Miss Westcott and dance first with Miss Vincent. For her part, beautiful Miss Westcott expected to hold his attention for as long as she wanted it, and was denied that option. Miss Vincent, beginning to understand the nature of her feelings, longed for his attention, and gained it. Both results, one wanting, one getting, were entirely positive from the man’s position, or so one might assume.

Was Mr Brantford aware of this? He was not lacking powers of observation. It is improbable that he was unaffected by his guest’s good looks. Yet he did not stay by her side; he came first to enjoy the company of Clara Vincent. In his view, the impression Clara created when he first met her was as indelible, in an altogether different way, as that made by Miss Westcott this evening. Miss Vincent had shown courage and poise, two qualities he greatly admired, and he cherished his memory of meeting her at the river.

Brantford stayed at Clara’s side, waiting for the dance to begin, and she shyly received his attention. She could not recall when she had looked forward to dancing more, and with such a partner.

Their conversation began easily enough while they waited to dance. ‘I was wishing that I could speak with you at length someplace else—perhaps in the middle of a field, or on the bridge where we met that day. Do not you wish, Miss Vincent, that two people could have a conversation, on any point of interest, without attracting everyone’s attention?’ He looked with disdain at people straining to listen. Clara saw how closely they were being watched. ‘You do realise,’ he said seriously, ‘that all discussions in Finstead are attended on three sides; or four, if you come by the toll road.’

‘I have noticed that, yes.’

‘By noon tomorrow, every matron shall know who danced with whom, how many times, and more to the point, exactly what was said.’ 

‘Not that, surely!’

‘They will hear most of it in confidence, and if the source is insufficient, it shall be invented.’

‘I see how you hold members of my sex.’ 

‘And they will know—in this case, without a single word from either of us—that Mr Brantford found Miss Vincent to be extremely fine company, and an excellent dancer, and that he wanted her to know how lovely she looked this evening, and how he wished to know her better, but that circumstances have arisen to prevent him spending as much time with her as he wishes.’

He noticed Mrs Drinscol hovering nearby, trying to overhear their conversation. He pulled Clara towards him, nodding politely, and smiled as he skilfully moved Clara away from the older woman.

The dance commenced, and they moved for some moments in silence. After this surprising speech, Mr Brantford looked resigned, and his expression unreadable. Clara, puzzled, could only suppose he had intended his remarks as some form of light-hearted flattery. He had, after all, been the one to bring guests, one of whom was an attractive woman staying on his property. She could not understand him and felt taken aback. In the pause between sets, not knowing how best to continue their conversation, Clara, mentioned the recent steeplechase race and his first-place finish.

‘My cousin John told us that you won a good horse from Mr Ashton. That is a quite the prize. Is racing a common pass-time in this region?’

‘Not serious racing, no, but Ashton holds an event every year or two with his friends.’

‘You are accustomed, I suppose, to winning horses.’

‘I cannot say that I am. That is a fairly high purse. Mr Ashton put up the filly this year to entice a few of us to race again.’ 

‘What shall he do for an encore, do you suppose?’

‘Seton Manor, I should think,’ he replied, looking archly at her. Clara felt colour surging into her cheeks. 

‘You have an open countenance, Miss Vincent. Your friends must love to play opposite you at the tables.’

‘I never gamble, Mr Brantford.’ 

‘Women purportedly never do. It is said to be a man’s sin entirely, and one heavily active in this county, I cannot deny. Tell me, do women truly believe they take no risks? Is Mrs Drinscol not gambling this evening—and playing high stakes at that?’

Clara followed his look towards the bare-shouldered Miss Drinscol, standing nearby.

‘Women would benefit from two basic lessons every boy learns at his father’s knee: never bet unless you have some chance of winning, however small; and be prepared to accept the consequences of your wager. Some people mistake their odds entirely. You, Miss Vincent, I would suggest, have a risk-taking nature; I witnessed this first-hand. You only need some outlet for it within the confines of our social norms and you will outshine us all.’

‘Pray, do not believe it, sir. I do not approve of gambling. I have seen entire fortunes lost by it. My own aunt, who came to live with us, had her world crumble in an instant. A few farthings at Loo—that is merely playing games—but gambling on horses and property is another thing entirely! I wonder that men can court ruin for such fleeting pleasure and no certainty of gain.’

Nadine Kampen

In her début novel, The Brantford Wagers, Nadine Kampen draws on her passion for stories that bring a smile and warm the hearts of the reader. The author immerses the reader in the fictional world of traditional historical romance, set in the memorable Regency England period, sharing the hopes, schemes, and antics of her characters.

Prior to her career as an author, Nadine served as a regional marketing manager with an international consulting firm and as a communications and marketing director on university campuses. Earlier in her career, she worked in public relations and journalism, and was co-author and project lead for five non-fiction books comprising The Canadian Breast Cancer Series, published in 1989.

A resident of Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada, Nadine loves relaxing with family and friends, reading and walking, playing tunes on her 1905 Bell piano, and gardening. 

You can connect with Nadine Via these platforms -




Facebook Author Page:


Amazon Author Page: 



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

That's it for now.

Till the next time.

Take care Zoe.