Love and Sabotage follows Marty Gregg, a new graduate beginning her first job. She is a female journalist in what is still a man’s world. To further complicate Marty’s life, her fiancé is away at war, stationed in the pacific during WWII.
This is a story that is easy follow, which is certainly a benefit in a mystery novel as riveting as this one. The novel is narrated by our captivating young protagonist Marty, and we follow the trials and tribulations she faces working in a male dominated industry whilst constantly awaiting word from her fiancé. As she follows a breaking story readers are treated to glimpses of the quaint town she lives in, and the complex relationships she has. There are delightful descriptions of the town, including many descriptions of the houses and buildings, as well as the gardens and trees. Author Martha Tolles cleverly integrates several community features such as the library that makes the setting feel realistic and like a character on its own. Set during World War Two, most of the references to technology, clothing and speech are consistent with this time period, which allows the reader to be immersed in the story.
I enjoyed the main characters in this story and felt that they were well developed. Marty, the young female journalist pinning for her fiancé Eddy who is away at war, feels like a trope but its given much more dimension with Marty’s unique personality. She is clearly dedicated to her job, this is shown by her thoughts, her conversations with others, and actions. However, it is clear that being a young female journalist during the war can be difficult in what is still essentially a man’s industry. We see her hesitation in dealing with her employer’s sexual overtones, as well as other men who are not accustomed to working with women. Understandably, her fiancé Eddy is never far from her mind, however we never really learn much about him. Another complex relationship is the relationship between Marty and her friend Grace. Their relationship encompasses both a personal friendship and a working relationship. We see Grace authentically try to support her friend from her employer’s advances, whilst still maintaining her own professional relationship with him. It’s a relationship that I thought was intriguing and wanted to see more of.
Love and Sabotage is a mystery novel that is easy to read and, because of that, is easy to get wrapped up in. The setting descriptions allow the reader to immerse themselves both in the town of Rye and the circumstances for civilians living in WWII. Fans of historical fiction will find plenty to enjoy in this compelling novel?
Pages: 182 | ASIN: B07MHQXKJT
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A Ring of Promises by Marie Gage is a romantic adventure set between 1912 and 1916. Will and Janet are to be married and Will sets off for Canada to find a place where they can be together. Before he leaves, he gives her a promise ring. Janet remains behind in Scotland, but while she waits to hear from Will with the news that she can set off to join him, she faces her own personal battle. She swears her sister, Mary-Ann, to secrecy. When Janet loses her battle, the author takes us on a journey to find out what will happen to Mary-Ann and Will.
A Ring of Promises is set principally in Canada and Scotland. I loved the Scottish setting, possibly as being Scottish, I was familiar with many of the locations. I didn’t dislike the Canadian setting, but having some familiarity with the Scottish setting meant I favored that over the Canadian setting. The use of Scottish dialect was also done very well–it gave a real sense of authenticity to the setting and to the Scottish characters, although those not familiar with the Scottish dialect might find those parts a little more difficult. The book centers principally around Will, Janet and Mary-Ann. Although she was only in the first few chapters, Janet’s presence was felt throughout the book without feeling contrived. I have to admit I wasn’t sure about Janet’s suggestion about Will and Mary-Ann, but I suspect that reflects present-day values where it’s ‘easy’ to find love thanks to the proliferation of dating apps and the ease of communication. As Mary-Ann developed her relationship, I wanted to feel for Will, but of all the characters, he was the one I felt least connected with. That wasn’t any fault of the author as she has created believable characters, but I just couldn’t connect with him.
The ending was just right and had the author chosen any other ending, I do not think it would have worked. The author’s note about the fact and fiction element of the book was interesting, and I think knowing the background to the book increased my enjoyment. This book is well researched and worth a read for those interested in historical romantic fiction. A Ring of Promises is a thrilling emotional journey that many readers will enjoy.
Pages: 449 | ASIN: B089DN4GFQ
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Bedeviled by Her Suspicions follows a woman who fears that her cousin could be Jack the Ripper and hires a detective agency to find out the truth. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
I wanted to write a series involving three brothers who operate a detective agency in Victorian England. When researching that era for famous murderers and their crimes, Jack the Ripper was of course a prominent figure. Researching that case and the various individuals suspected of being the Ripper inspired Bedeviled by Her Suspicions.
Isabel is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
Isabel is intrinsically good and is torn between doing what she feels is morally correct, seeking the truth to save lives, and the guilt she harbors in suspecting her cousin of being Jack the Ripper. This laid solid ground work for her character development.
I enjoyed the mystery at the heart of this story. Was the mystery planned before writing or did it develop organically?
When I began research for my Zane Brothers Detective Series, I found a female criminal whose crimes were mimicked in Book 1 of the series. But because I chose my setting to be in 1888 London, naturally the crimes of Jack the Ripper and the Torso Killer needed to be intertwined with that mystery. That led to the mystery in Book 2, Bedeviled by Her Suspicions, in which historical suspects in the Jack the Ripper case were incorporated into the historical mystery. So, in the case of Bedeviled by Her Suspicions, I knew how I wanted the mystery to develop.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Currently I am writing my 26th book, Medley of Murderous Intent, which takes place in 1908 London where the 1908 Olympics were being held and during which the first African American won a gold metal. A new generation of Zane brothers must determine who is threatening the Olympian contestant…the historical personality John Baxter Taylor, Jr. This historical mystery will be available late 2021.
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Catherine Sloper, a young and beautiful heiress with everything to live for, has been brutally murdered in New York. Harry Ramsay, Pinkerton Detective, is given the job no one else wants – to pursue her sadistic killer across the Atlantic to London.
The year is 1888. His journey takes him to London’s notorious East End, populated by desperate women and broken men. Who can be trusted in this labyrinth of dimly-lit backstreets? Ramsay encounters prostitutes, pimps and violent criminals. There are women like Marie Morgan, an actress fallen on hard times, and Helen Lynch who is looking for the mother she has not seen in 15 years. These women tell him they need his help but are they drawing him deeper and deeper into a trap?
The East End is beyond the reach of the law and The Old Nichol Gang treat everyone as mugs to be conned or robbed. Jack the Ripper roams these gaslit streets at night, leaving the bodies of his victims in the gutters and scavengers pick the pockets of the dead. Then there is the solitary figure that no one talks about yet everyone is afraid of: the strange Mr Hyde.
His search has led Harry Ramsay into this cesspit of deceit and despair. Can he find his way past the charlatans, cheats and racketeers to smoke out Catherine’s killer in this city of the dreadful night?
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Bedeviled by Her Suspicions (Zane Brothers Detective Series Book Two) by Patricia Catacalos is a historical fiction mystery set in London in 1888. Isabel Haynes is a milliner who suspects that her cousin, Thomas Haynes Cutbush, might be the serial killer known as Leather Apron (Jack the Ripper), murdering women in Whitechapel. She enlists the help of the Zane Brothers Detective Agency to prove that her suspicions are wrong. Isabel feels drawn to Noah Zane from their first meeting. Noah pretends to be Isabel’s beau so that he can remain close to her. Can he protect her from harm as they search to find the truth?
I enjoyed reading this riveting historical thriller. I love mysteries that keep me guessing throughout the story. Part of this story is told from the point of view of the killer, and the few clues that are given match up with Thomas, but could also indicate several other characters. I was immediately suspicious of every man described with a handlebar mustache, since that was the only identifying physical feature that was mentioned about the killer. Although this is the second book in the series, it is not necessary to read book one to enjoy this story. This books can be read as a standalone mystery story. Book One, The Mystery of Her, features Noah’s older brother, Zachery. Book Three and Book Four both feature Noah’s younger brother, Evan.
While I enjoyed this story, I felt that the romance happened a bit too quickly for me, with Noah and Isabel declaring their love for each other within a week of their first meeting. I liked the historical Victorian setting of the story, which was vividly described, but I felt that some of the descriptions of actions were unnecessarily specific and distracted from the flow of the story.
With that said, Bedeviled by Her Suspicions is a compelling murder mystery that will appeal to anyone looking for an alluring mystery that will keep them guessing throughout this entertaining book.
Pages: 238 | ASIN: B01NCM4HJY
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State of Grace by John Sweeney is a fast-paced and intriguing espionage thriller that will keep you eagerly flipping through its pages. Set between World War I and World War II, State of Grace tells the story of Phillip Kumar, a young man in London who is recruited by the British intelligence service for a secret mission in Germany. Phillip, a completely quotidian man with no experience as a spy, accepts the mission and finds himself in Bavaria, at the center of history as the National Socialist (Nazi) party grows in power and begins setting in motion their horrific and racist work.
The novel follows Phillip, who, in spite of his inexperience, is rather likable and an enjoyable protagonist. Though Phillip is of mixed heritage, he passes as someone with Nordic roots. It is through this lens that most of the novel is experienced – Philip, concealing his Indian roots, is both blessed and cursed with his Nordic looks, as in Germany he is welcomed and admired as an “Aryan” Adonis, while in his heart he knows that the racial preference he receives and the work of eugenics that many in Germany advocate is deeply wrong. As Phillip embarks on his mission in Bayreuth, a university town in Bavaria, he quickly falls in love with Ruth, a young woman of Jewish heritage. Their relationship highlights the fractures within German society and the not-so-subtle racist sentiments held by many, in Germany and beyond.
What I enjoyed about State of Grace primarily was its setting, both in time and location. I find the interwar period to be exceptionally fascinating, especially in southern Germany, where the Nazi party came to power. I enjoyed how Sweeney juxtaposed his novel with many of the actual historical events that occurred at the time, though of course this is a work of fiction. I also enjoyed that Sweeney did not single out Germany as the sole perpetrator of racist activity during the interwar period; he puts both Britain and the United States under a microscope for their racist principles and activity, which is a dark side to these countries’ history of which many may have been unaware. Additionally, I have had the pleasure of visiting Bayreuth multiple times, and was excited to read a book set in this quaint city. I enjoyed picturing Phillip, Ruth, and the supporting characters of State of Grace running through the cobbled streets of Bayreuth, where I, myself, have walked many times.
Where State of Grace could have been improved in my opinion was in depth of character and plot. The novel is fast-paced, which is often a good thing, but I found that it felt rushed. With numerous minor supporting characters, I found myself somewhat confused about who was who and what was important. The character relationships felt rushed and forced as well, with Phillip falling for Ruth in seemingly a weekend and for no reason other than her availability. In spite of these things, I thoroughly enjoy reading State of Grace for its creative story and honest examination of racism in many countries in the interwar period. I would recommend this riveting story to readers interested in history or spy novels.
Pages: 483 | ASIN: B08GQ5N25F
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The Keepers of the Light follows an ordinary young man who finds out he’s destined to be a leader and face a dangerous enemy. What were some new ideas you wanted to introduce in this book that was different from book one?
It was important to make the transition in this book to full-blown fantasy in a believable way. We are dealing with some classical fantasy elements n a contemporary setting so I really wanted this to feel believable. I approached this by asking myself if this were actually happening, how would these characters respond?
Garrett continues to be a compelling character. What were some obstacles in the story that you felt were important to his character development?
Trust. Every adult in Garrett’s life has lied to him about who is his entire life. Trust is, and will continue to be a challenge for him, and understandably so. The other issue for Garrett is leadership. He will have to take the reins in this series and lead. He will have to stop seeing himself as a just a kid and step up or humanity may not make it.
What was one of the most challenging scenes in this book to write?
The scenes inside the underground temple were tough because there were so many moving parts. I spent a lot of time with a tape measure, measuring out distances in my yard, throwing things, yelling, running around, and essentially acting it out. Yes, my neighbors may think I have issues and they may not be entirely wrong:) Without giving away any spoilers, let’s just say it was tough with a whole group of humans and a handful of magical creatures to keep it clean and clear for the reader. Alternating between Breanne and Garrett’s perspective each chapter while controlling pace added to the challenge. My editor and I went back and forth a lot trying to perfect those scenes. In the end, I think the extra effort was totally worth it.
This is book two in your God Stones series. What can readers expect in book three?
Book three will take Garrett and his companions on a journey across the country as the world deteriorates into an apocalypse. There are still plenty of issues, both new and old, the friend’s need confront, overcome, and make peace with. Book three promises danger a plenty with dragons, giants, and what I am most excited about, a massive army of supernatural creatures that have been right here under our noses this hold time. I have been hard at work on book three and am excited to share that the rough draft is complete, and edit will begin very soon. Expect book 3 later this year!
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Imelda’s Secret is a historical fiction novel based on true stories from women during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I wrote Imelda’s Secret in the hopes to inspire and empower those who read about the Filipina “comfort women” and their continued struggle to find peace and justice decades after the end of World War II. After learning about the “comfort women,” I embarked on a mission to build awareness of their continued plight.
I did not want to write another war story. In this novel, I focused on the continued struggle by the “comfort women.” To survive, many of these women kept their torturous experience a secret that further exacerbated their situation because the alternative was nothing better. For the women who came forward were ridiculed, shunned, branded and sometimes killed. Those who endure with their secrets slowly devolve as their secrecy slowly destroys their lives and the lives of those around them.
If anything, the goal is to help empower individuals, especially women, to have courage and take their power to control their own chosen path.
I thought the historical accuracy of the novel was excellent. What type of research did you undertake to ensure things were accurate?
These were based on stories told to me by members of my family and friends of their own experiences. The first chapter was based on what my grandfather had to do to hide my mother and her siblings when the Japanese army stormed their next door neighbor’s house and how the river was filled with blood and headless bodies. I had a few eyewitness accounts on how male babies were thrown up in the air and sliced with a samurai sword. My very fair mestiza grandmother described how she had to cut her hair, wear men’s clothing, and roll in the mud to hide from the Japanese soldiers.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from your story?
I want to bring awareness to the “comfort women” and the struggle that still continues for them. I truly want my readers to be inspired and empowered to do more. Survival takes sheer will at times. Things may be insurmountable, but change begin with one step.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on another women’s interest book and I plan to have it available next year.
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