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First Page: Unpublished manuscript Historical romance with paranormal elements

First Page: Unpublished manuscript Historical romance with paranormal elements

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[Editorial note from Jane: sorry this is a little long as I wasn't sure the best place to cut it off.]

The village of Brockway, Derbyshire, England

Early October, 1838.

As she sat on a bench in the graveyard of St. Michael’s church, her eyes closed, her temples pounding and her toes thoroughly frozen, Catharine Avery swiftly concluded a person could experience far worse things in life apart from being both fatherless and motherless, almost penniless and fluent in conversing with dead people. Making a herb oil that ought to be smeared all over a wealthy lady’s face somehow managed to outdo every other misfortune present in her life. Fancy that.

“It simply boggles the mind you managed to lose a position after just three days!” a voice in her head screeched and Catharine suddenly yearned to find a brick so that she might put herself out for an hour or two. Fainting held an alluring promise of uninterrupted silence. Even an hour seemed like such a gift given her current predicament.

“Don’t even think about it! I haven’t finished yet. And why do you always come here to reminisce?This lot is not the most cheerful company. Present dearly departed excluded, of course,” the voice kept yammering.

Catharine lifted her head and aimed her eyes piously toward the blue sky.

“Might you be so kind and tell me what have I ever done to be thus plagued? Has it ever crossed Your mind to send some sunshine and daisies my way instead just showering me with pestilence, boils and lice?”

“Are you calling me a boil? Or am I pestilence?”

“You, my dear Bertha, are a hundred and fifty year old croaking frog I cannot shoo away, ” Catharine muttered, looking around to make sure she indeed sat alone in the quiet graveyard. The last thing she needed was for the village folk to add barmy to other charming adjectives already attached to her person. Or come after her armed with pitchforks and holy water. Though she sort of expected “The Brockway Poisoner” would be pinned to her round derrière come tomorrow.

“You irk me, Catharine. And I’m not hundred and fifty. I’m hundred and forty-nine and a wee bit more, but certainly not hundred and fifty!” an irritated voice hissed in her mind and Catharine rolled her eyes.

“If I irk you, off you go. Amuse yourself somewhere else.”

“Hump!”echoed in Catharine’s mind after which some blessed silence followed.

“How can a person be so reason-impaired to drink a bottle of oil clearly marked “face oil, external use!? I wrote it in capital letters… ” Catharine whispered as she slowly got up, her thoughts returning to a problem at hand.

“Easy, silly dolt doesn’t know what “external” means! You should have written “put on your face and don’t pour it down your throat”. Instead you had to go and be your clever, literate self. Only you are to blame here, Miss Avery. The very reason you haven’t a husband yet. Nobody likes an intelligent women, why can’t I make you understand that? You’ll die an old maid! For shame, girl, for shame.”

Catharine gnashed her teeth. “Bertha, go away! I’ve got more problems then years and you’re bored silly. I have neither strength nor will to entertain you today. You, Miss Flemming, have all the time in the world and no need to put any food in your mouth or clothes on back.”

This provoked an immediate reaction and Catharine had to wonder if she had some strange masochistic streak in her. She could have kept her inner tongue well, tied, really.

“You could have had all of that if you listened to me! What was wrong with Thomas Quinn, eh? Two arms, two legs, a head, and enough pretty pennies to keep you clothed and fed for the next hundred years. So he’s not the brightest lad but one needn’t listen to his prattling. You certainly wouldn’t be sitting here, all sour and frozen. Dear Lord the state of you! I shan’t even mention that horrid Blackwood woman will make your life hell the moment she stops vomiting. You’ll never be accepted into another decent house in this village again!” 

Daily Deals: Maeve Binchy, a Tartine cookbook, and a historical with conflicting reviews

Daily Deals: Maeve Binchy, a Tartine cookbook, and a historical with...

Minding Frankie  by Maeve BinchyMinding Frankie by Maeve Binchy. $ 2.99

From the Jacket Copy:

Maeve Binchy is back with a tale of joy, heartbreak and hope, about a motherless girl collectively raised by a close-knit Dublin community.

When Noel learns that his terminally ill former flame is pregnant with his child, he agrees to take guardianship of the baby girl once she’s born. But as a single father battling demons of his own, Noel can’t do it alone.

Fortunately, he has a competent, caring network of friends, family and neighbors: Lisa, his unlucky-in-love classmate, who moves in with him to help him care for little Frankie around the clock; his American cousin, Emily, always there with a pep talk; the newly retired Dr. Hat, with more time on his hands than he knows what to do with; Dr. Declan and Fiona and their baby son, Frankie’s first friend; and many eager babysitters, including old friends Signora and Aidan and Frankie’s doting grandparents, Josie and Charles.

But not everyone is pleased with the unconventional arrangement, especially a nosy social worker, Moira, who is convinced that Frankie would be better off in a foster home. Now it’s up to Noel to persuade her that everyone in town has something special to offer when it comes to minding Frankie.

I went on a Maeve Binchy reading spree after watching the Circle of Friends movie with Minnie Driver until I realized her endings wouldn’t be satisfying for me. The books are full of heartbreak but the stories were still touching and evocative.

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A Lily on the Heath (Medieval Romance) (The Medieval Herb Garden Series)  by Colleen GleasonA Lily on the Heath (Medieval Romance) by Colleen Gleason. $ .99

From the Jacket Copy:

“Lush, romantic and unputdownable!” –bestselling author Cheryl Bolen

Passion and deception amid the shadowy court of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II….

An honorable man: Malcolm de Monde, Lord of Warwick needs a wife. He reluctantly journeys to the turbulent royal court where his plan is simple: find a dutiful woman, gain the king’s approval for his choice and return to Warwick with his chosen lady wedded, bedded, and carrying his heir—all before winter.

An independent woman: Judith of Kentworth, Royal Falconer and lady-in-waiting, is a woman from Malcolm’s past. Although she is a confidante of the queen, Judith’s beauty and vivacity attract the unwanted attentions of the king—and the woman who commands winged predators becomes prey herself.

A simple plan that goes awry when Malcolm encounters Judith, once betrothed to his friend—and a woman who is nothing like the meek wife he seeks…but who may be exactly the type of woman he needs.

An impossible choice: Malcolm offers Judith a chance to escape her predicament…But can she risk entangling her own personal white knight in a dangerous web of royal intrigue?

This is number four in the “Herb Garden” series by Gleason. I primarily associate the Gleason name with the Gardella Chronicles which was a Buffy in Victorian London series. I didn’t read it but Jia did. I got the sense she wasn’t thrilled with how the series came to a close.

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Tartine Elisabeth PrueittTartine by Elisabeth Prueitt. $ 3.03 Amzn | Google Play

From the Jacket Copy:

Every once in a while, a cookbook comes along that instantly says “classic.” This is one of them. Acclaimed pastry chef Elisabeth Prueitt and master baker Chad Robertson share not only their fabulous recipes, but also the secrets and expertise that transform a delicious homemade treat into a great one. It’s no wonder there are lines out the door of Elisabeth and Chad’s acclaimed Tartine Bakery. It’s been written up in every magazine worth its sugar and spice. Here their bakers’ art is transformed into easy-to-follow recipes for the home kitchen.

The only thing hard about this cookbook is deciding which recipe to try first: moist Brioche Bread Pudding; luscious Banana Cream Pie; the sweet-tart perfection of Apple Crisp. And the cakes! Billowing chiffon cakes. Creamy Bavarians bursting with seasonal fruits. A luxe Devil’s Food Cake. Lemon Pound Cake, Pumpkin Tea Cake. Along with the sweets, cakes, and confections come savory treats, such as terrifically simple Wild Mushroom Tart and Cheddar Cheese Crackers.

There’s a little something here for breakfast, lunch, tea, supper, hors d’oeuvres—and, of course, a whole lot for dessert! Practical advice comes in the form of handy Kitchen Notes. These “hows” and “whys” convey the authors’ know-how, whether it’s the key to the creamiest quiche (you’ll be surprised), the most efficient way to core an apple, or tips for ensuring a flaky crust. Top it off with gorgeous photographs throughout and you have an utterly fresh, inspiring, and invaluable cookbook.

Sounds delicious. I’m going to buy the book but what I’d really like is for someone to make every recipe in it. Maybe I’ll do that someday. I guess I’d have to leave Dear Author and start a food blog.

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Devil's Mistress by Heather GrahamDevil’s Mistress by Heather Graham. $ .99.

From the Jacket Copy:

HE IS A MAN POSSESSED—BY A WOMAN WHOSE BEAUTY DRIVES MEN TO MADNESS.

If there was ever a devil who could lure and seduce the innocent, Lord Sloan Treveryan is that man. Captain of the Sea Hawk and bound to the king’s business, Treveryan may be a lord but he is no gentleman. Yet even he cannot ignore a lady in distress—or the temptation she provides.

Bewitched by Brianna MacCardle’s beauty, Scottish inquisitors have called her the devil’s own. Though Treveryan saves her from the witch-hunter’s clutches, how can she be grateful? He has carried Brianna off to America, claimed her, and taken her innocence. She vows that he will never capture her heart. But against her will she begins to fall in love—while swearing to reap revenge against the arrogant lord who has made her the devil’s mistress.

The blurb makes the heroine sound like a siren. Is the phrase “Taken her innocence” a euphemism for something rather darker? The reviews say that it is “does not follow the standard formula” and another review says it’s predictable but most do say that the heroine’s actions are a bit, um, frustrating.

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