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.