Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Guest Blog with Gina Danna on Time Travel and her new book Love and Vengeance

Time Travel
If you could travel back in time, where would you go?
A fellow writer had written a time travel piece I read about going back to the time of knights. It was good and I commented how I’d travel back to Ancient Rome but feared I’d enter the Colosseum where I would be killed like the Christians. She retorted but what if a man saved me? That immediately set my muse to playing. What if…
            Instantly, Marcus and Gustina came to life. The opening to Love & Vengeance is that rescue. These two demanded I tell their story, which got me into researching just how did people live back then? What was the Colosseum like? Gladiators? Research isn’t new to me – I have graduate degree in History though I admit, my favorite time has been the American Civil War. But Ancient Rome held a certain appeal to me I couldn’t deny.
            The Roman Empire thrived for hundreds of years, first as a Republic then as an Empire. It expanded throughout Europe, the Middle East and northern Africa. But the pinnacle of the entire civilization was Rome itself. To the Romans, everyone wanted to be one of them. The town itself grew to over a million inhabitants by 100 A.D. (or C. E.). There many of today’s foundations took hold – the idea of a representative assembly, The Senate; philosophy (they took the Greeks beginnings and expanded them, adopting them as their own); architecture; sewer systems that survive to today; aqueducts and baths survived; roads.
And war. The bulk of their Empire was amassed through war. Those defeated in war often were turned into slaves – a commodity the Romans needed badly. Those infamous structures like the Colosseum were built through slave labor. Anyone could become a slave then, even miscreant Romans, convicted of crimes, would become a slave. Slavery was extremely bad then, used as expendable lives. Even gladiators for the most part were slaves though a few freemen fought in the games to earn coin enough to get out of debt, selling themselves to the gladiatorial schools for a couple of years to do so though the price tag could mean they died in the games instead of leaving a free man. Gladiators, though, were the ‘rock stars’ of the period. Successful champions had a following of fans, mostly women. Roads to the arena often were lined on game day with vendors selling items for purchase on those favored, like pictures, trinkets used by them, vials of their blood (blood of a champion was thought to cure ills like infertility, epilepsy, etc.) and other goods.
It is a fascinating time, full of intrigue and mystery. Come and get a taste of long ago, in Ancient Rome with Marcus and Gustina in Love & Vengeance!

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Gina Danna has spent the better part of her life reading.
History has been her love and she spent numerous hours devouring historical romance stories, dreaming of writing one of her own. Years later, after receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees in History, writing academic research papers and writing for museum programs and events, she finally found the time to write her own stories of historical romantic fiction.

Now, under the supervision of her three dogs and three cats, she writes amid a library of research books, with her only true break away is to spend time with her other life long dream – her Arabian horse – with him, her muse can play.

Monday, April 21, 2014

What Does Your Photo Gallery Say About You? by Tracy March

What Does Your Photo Gallery Say About You? by Tracy March

I’ve been fortunate enough to take some awesome vacations. One such unexpected adventure happened a couple of years ago after my husband came home from work one day and told me we were going to Switzerland! He’d been tapped to give the keynote address at a conference and I’d lucked into a European vacation.

We had an amazing time in mesmerizing, historic Lucerne. Set at the edge of the snowy Alps, countless swans swim in the lake at the center of the city. Covered footbridges festooned with flower boxes span the lake that’s bordered by a tree-lined promenade. Centuries-old buildings are painted with murals, colorful shutters hung at their windows. Clocks housed in Rapunzelesque towers chime every hour, but the oldest clock in the city does the honors. It’s allowed to chime a minute before all the others. Up on nearby Mount Pilatus, there is ziplining with a view, and a breathtaking aerial gondola ride to the peak. You can come down the same way, or take the world’s steepest cog railway all the way to the bottom. As if that isn’t enough to entice you to visit Switzerland—there’s chocolate! Swiss chocolatiers have fountains overflowing with decadent chocolate, and nearly any chocolate treat you can imagine. Mmm…

I was busy eating chocolate and snapping pictures the entire time, hoping to capture images to go with my memories that will last a lifetime. When I got home, I downloaded my photos and studied them, oohing and ahhing over the beautiful sights. I could practically hear the unique sounds of Switzerland, and I missed its magic. There were pictures of castles and mountains and bridges. Dogs and cows and swans. Then I noticed that I had taken a remarkable number of pictures of doors.

Doors? What was it about doors that had me snapping so many pictures of them? I often fall for places really hard, and immediately want to write stories about them. It took me no more than a day to get that feeling about Lucerne. The city turned out to be a perfect setting for my sexy new romantic suspense novel, A Shot of Red, so perhaps I saw the doors as openings to the possibilities I’d find as I wrote the story. I certainly saw them as beautiful and interesting—each a unique work of art.

I found the pictures curious enough that I looked up the symbolism of doors. Turns out they represent hope; opportunity; opening; a passage from one state or world to another; entrance to a new life; initiation; and liberation. It was pretty cool when some of those themes emerged in A Shot of Red.   

How about you? Have you ever checked out your photo gallery and been surprised to find numerous pictures of something unexpected? What is your eye drawn to, and what gets your camera-finger clicking? 

A Shot of Red

After fleeing DC following a one-night stand that had her reeling, biotech company heiress Mia
Moncure has thrived working with a humanitarian aid team administering vaccines in Haiti. When the United States is threatened with a flu epidemic, Mia’s grandmother demands her return to unveil a new flu vaccine for Moncure Therapeutics. She arrives to find that her ex-boyfriend, the company’s PR Director, has died in a suspicious accident in Switzerland that Mia soon suspects was murder.

Determined to reveal a killer, Mia heads to Switzerland, where she’s threatened as she discovers a plan to infiltrate the vaccine for nefarious purposes. Desperate for backup, she turns to sexy Gio Lorenzo, Communications Director for her mother, a high-ranking senator—and Mia’s one-night stand. While negotiating their rocky relationship, they race to uncover a deadly scheme that could ruin her family’s reputation. But millions of people are being vaccinated, and there’s more than her family’s legacy at stake. Mia and Gio struggle to discover the truth about the scheme and their feelings for each other, but it just might be too late.  

Tracy March’s Bio
Award-winning author Tracy March writes romantic thrillers influenced by her interest in science and politics. She also writes lighthearted romances inspired by her real-life happily ever after.
Always up for travel and adventure, Tracy has flown in a stunt plane, snowmobiled on the Continental Divide, ziplined in the Swiss Alps, and been chased by a bull in the mountains of St. Lucia. She loves Nationals baseball, Saturday date nights, and Dairy Queen Blizzards—and rarely goes a day without Diet Coke and Cheez-Its.
Tracy lives in Yorktown, Virginia, with her superhero husband who works for NASA. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

GONE AND DONE IT by Maggie Toussaint

Gone And Done ItI have been a fan girl of Maggie Toussaint for four years and then some.  We were connected through everyone's favorite military spouse, Kim Adams Lowe.  Kim and I did a promo for Maggie and I have been doing them every time she says "Mary I have a book coming out", and I scream how soon can I get my hands on it.

The character in Gone and Done It is a strong woman who knows fact from fiction and takes no crap off of any man regardless of self important they are.  Baxley has powers she is trying to get under control and my thought is "aren't we all"...

GONE AND DONE IT by Maggie Toussaint
A Dreamwalker Mystery

Baxley Powell has a lot on her mind and way too much roaming through her head every day.  She has gone back to her home town waiting to find out the status of her husband, especially with the Army refusing to say if he is alive or dead.  Baxley is running a landscaping business that is getting by but she really needs to bring every job to completion to survive.  What is unique about Baxley is her ability to see, hear, and feel things about others both living and dead.  Baxley comes from a long line of gifted people and even her daughter is showing signs of having this treasured ability if one regard it as such, which Baxley does not always do.

What Baxley never wants is to find a dead body let alone three on the property she is landscaping or for the police to think she had something to do with how they got in the ground in the first place.  This was a job to build a lifetime business around and everything is sinking into the ground, literally.  The police ask for her help but want to pretend she does not give it; her father wants her to take over his dream walking ability which brings in no hope of a profit; and everyone wants to point a finger at her and say that everything fell apart once she got to town.

However, someone thinks Baxley may know too much and is going to expose them for the murderer they apparently are.  This pushes Baxley into the very dangerous territory of trying to keep her child safe, stay calm and alive at the same time.  There is a snake in the grass moving about trying to remove anyone that is getting in the way of the goal no one is sure they understand.  

Maggie Toussaint writes with a depth of characters, a wonderfully scary storyline, and a dose of real life for a single, working mom.  Enjoy every page of this book it is reading time well spent and should be a part of every book club discussion.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

THE SEA HOUSE by Elisabeth Gifford

The Sea House: A Novel

Could you live in house deemed as haunted?

THE SEA HOUSE by Elisabeth Gifford 

The ghosts of the past cannot be buried 

A story told from two different perspectives is always interesting but add to that two different centuries and the story becomes riveting.  When Ruth and her husband Michael decide to build a new life in a house they are rehabbing they never expected to find the remains of what appears to be a deformed baby.  There are legends of this type of deformity and none that the average person would believe, but Ruth fears the stories she had been told of mermaids and sea creatures may have been true.  Ruth listened to her mother tell the tale of where she came from and after her tragic death Ruth learned to let go but never stop believing. 

When researching the remains Ruth is introduced to a set of journals created by the vicar who resided there many generations ago.  As the story is laid out on each page it becomes clear that Ruth is more disturbed than ever about what she is reading and the feeling that something bad happened to her a long time ago.  Her husband, Michael believes it may be the hormones from her pregnancy, but Ruth knows as she uncovers so many secrets that solving this mystery is as important and figuring out where she originated from and why her life unfolded as it had.  Michael is her rock and the stability she needs to dig deep into the dark crevices of what her life was like that led her to be who she is now.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

SWEET TALK ME by Kieran Kramer

I have been off my reading, reviewing, and blogging game for close to 8 weeks while I sorted through how to help my son get back on his feet.  I never saw the break down coming and never thought for a minute that he was as sick as he was.  It was not for a fact of checking things out but more along the lines of not knowing the signs.  One of the good things that comes out of hitting bottom is the realization of how much family, friends, even neighbors care about you and want to help.  Every day he is working through the darkness and getting better with some medication.  I say to everyone that asks One Day At A Time because that is another day I have kept him alive which means everything.

Thank you for being patient and helping me get back to a routine and start giving some books away!  

Leave a comment today on whether you could be involved with a super star?

SWEET TALK ME by Kieran Kramer

You have to open the door when the past comes knocking

When you make a mistake and walk away from any thoughts of it the mistake is supposed to leave you alone.  True Maybank wanted that to happen after one night with Harrison Gamble.  It was a terrible decision for this southern belle to have been involved with Harrison in the first place, but who knew the guy would become famous and come back to town haunt her every moment of the day.

While Harrison rose to fame as a country and western singer, True had enough family tragedy that takes her once wealthy family down selling off everything but the family jewels.  True is going to marry a man that can save her knowing that the love she feels for him is not overwhelming but strong enough to give her heart up even though it belonged to another.  True had her land, her family and future to think about and Harrison was not one to stay rooted in their little town forever.

Now Harrison had other ideas going through his head which included doing what he had to in order to take True from her waste of space fiancĂ©.  It might need a lot of dazzle, perhaps a song written in her honor, and a decision on his part about whether his life was meant to be lived as a super star or just another person in town.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Anne Clinard Barnhill and QUEEN ELIZABETH'S DAUGHTER (A Novel of Elizabeth I)

queen-elizabeths-daughter-goldAnne Clinard Barnhill 
(A Novel of Elizabeth I)

Anne has once again shaken her family tree and this time, Mary Shelton appeared, lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth.  A royal ward, Mary is like a daughter to the Virgin Queen, and, like any mother, Elizabeth wants to make a fine match for her girl.  The Earl of Oxford seems to be exactly what the queen has in mind, but Mary knows him to be villainous and cruel.  Instead, she finds the charms of a lowly courtier, Sir John Skydemore, more to her liking.  But he’s poor and he’s a Catholic at a time when the Old Religion is banned.  Indeed, because of traitorous plots against Elizabeth sanctioned by the Pope himself, being a Catholic has become dangerous.  Will Mary risk the queen’s wrath and marry her love?  If so, what will become of them?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Laura London with Four eBook Novels

From the author of the beloved romance classic The Windflower comes four novels available for the first time as an e-book this April:

A Heart Too ProudA Heart Too Proud
Country bred and city green, Elizabeth Cordell lives a quiet life with her sisters in a humble cottage in Kent. But upon the death of their kindly guardian, the orphaned girl discovers that her happy home is now the property of a surprising new owner: the notorious Lord Nicholas Dearborne.

Devilishly rich, diabolically handsome-and rumored to be a despicable cad-Dearborne arrives in a grand carriage with a wicked woman and a wanton smirk. Elizabeth can't help but be flattered by Dearborne's bold flirtations, and can't refuse his offer to stay as a companion to his young ward. But how long can she resist his masterful seductions-when she craves his kiss as much as he craves hers? 
As the daughter of a blacklisted gambler, Katie Kendricks has few options in life but to work in a back-alley gin shop like the Merry Maidenhead. But when the most refined and dashing man she has ever seen-hellion Lord Linden-defends Katie's honor from a drunken brute, her life takes a surprising turn . . . 

Concerned for her safety, the handsome Lord Linden vows to take Katie under his wing and teach her the ways of the world. He will educate her on the duties of a proper duchess-and train her in the skills of a celebrated courtesan. But in transforming this simple duckling into a glorious swan, Linden unwittingly ignites a change in his own hardened heart. By some miracle, this innocent waif soon turns into the most desirable woman he has ever known. And now it is he who must be saved . . . by the unexpected pleasures of love.

Known as the "naughtier twin" of Downpatrick Hall, Miss Lynden is far more brash and adventurous than her sister Lorraine. After flying a kite into a tree and climbing out onto a branch, she is saved from a terrible fall by Lord Justin Melbrooke, who pulls her through his open window . . . and into his bedroom.

It's all quite innocent, of course. But when an unannounced visitor walks in-and sees Lord Justin untangling Lynden's skirt-there is only one way to salvage her reputation: marriage. In a whirlwind ceremony, Lynden finds herself exchanging vows with one of England's most sought-after bachelors. Neither one is truly ready to settle down, but their heated words soon turn to heated kisses, and their marriage of convenience may just turn out to be the match of a lifetime.

A resourceful young gypsy living by her wits, Liza knows what proper-bred Englishmen think about women of her kind. So when she's caught trespassing on the estate of the esteemed Earl of Brockhaven, she expects no mercy. Fortunately for her, the master of the house-the impossibly handsome Lord Stewart-finds the lovely Liza to be utterly enchanting, a wild gypsy rose just waiting to be plucked . . .

Stewart soon learns that there's more to this girl than meets the eye. No ordinary vagabond, Liza displays a fierce intelligence that sets his heart on fire-and she wears a mysterious medallion that arouses his curiosity. An old family heirloom, it is Liza's only link to a long-lost fortune. But the poor girl can't even think about money-when she would gladly trade it all for one reckless night in Stewart's arms

Laura London is the pen name for the husband and wife writing team Tom and Sharon Curtis, authors of the bestseller The Windflower“The nice thing about historical fiction is that it exists outside of present time and in an unchanging past,” Tom told RT in their April issue, and we highly agree! I’ve included widgets for three of the four novels below as well as descriptions. Fans of London will rejoice as they reread their favorites after years of being out of print, and newcomers will fall in love with London’s enchanting writing.

Friday, April 4, 2014


 Drawing literary inspiration from Melissa Bank’s warm-hearted insights into contemporary life in The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing, and from Daphne Du Maurier’s passionate, classic melodrama Rebecca, Moran’s The Last Time I Saw You offers a gripping plot, deepened by a heartfelt, relatable examination of friendship and love.

          Praise for Eleanor Moran

“Gripping, emotional – looks at how losing a friend can be worse than losing a lover.” –Daisy Goodwin, author of My Last Duchess

“Eleanor Moran is a stunningly good writer. Her prose is a joy to read, it wraps you up and draws you in and you daren’t take your eyes off the page for fear of being wretched out of her gripping narrative.” –Santa Montefiore, author of The House by the Sea
“Such a funny writer … more like that American snappy fast humor of Bridesmaids, of Tina Fey … really great dialogue.” – Alex Heminsley, BBC Radio 2

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER: QUERCUS PUBLISHING, INC. publishes under the imprints Quercus, MacLehose Press, Quercus Children’s Books, Jo Fletcher Books, and Heron Books. We publish a range of high quality commercial, literary, and translated fiction; as well as nonfiction, illustrated, science fiction, fantasy, horror, young adult, and juvenile titles. Quercus North America is distributed by Random House.

T:  @QuercusUSA

April 1, 2014
$15.99, 400 pages
ISBN 978-1623651336
A Conversation with Eleanor Moran

Q. What was your inspiration for THE LAST TIME I SAW YOU? How did you first get the idea for the story?

A. The Last Time I Saw You came out of two experiences – a hypnotic, seductive friendship I had at university which exploded in my mid twenties. It took me a long time to process the viciousness of the ‘break up’ and I wanted to write about the ambiguity and treachery of female friendship gone wrong. I also wanted to write about the ‘haunting’ that can take place in relationships we have in our thirties and forties. Livvy’s sister tells her “men move on, they can’t stand the silence” and I think it’s true. I wanted to write about that.

Q. Do you have a favorite character from the book? One who was a pleasure to right? Difficult?

A. I love all my characters! I fell in love with William, despite him being such a stuffed shirt. I sort of have to when I write a love interest. I loved the complexity of Sally, and I loved her, despite her selfishness and how bad she was for Livvy. She is mercurial and a trickster, and in drama those characters are vital. She can do unexpected, wild things. Livvy has a lot of me in her, as all my heroines do.

Q. If you could give just one piece of advice to fellow writers what would it be?

A. Gosh, I wouldn’t presume to advise other writers at my stage, but to newbies I would say… Do you know, I don’t know! Understand the market, but don’t be handcuffed by it, as you need to find your own voice.

Q. Who are your favorite authors? Who has inspired your writing?

A. I adore Rebecca. Daphne Du Maurier found something universal, and then wrote a deeply specific story. Beautiful Ruins. Loved that. The Fault In Our Stars. The Help. Heartburn. The Time Traveler’s Wife. For me it’s the books about rounded, flawed characters doing their very best in believable ways.  If you look at my website – – I wrote about my 10 favorite love stories. And romantic films.

Q. What’s next? Are you working on your next book?

A. I am hard at work on book 5. It’s about a young female psychotherapist who is forced to confront her past.

Visit Eleanor Moran’s Website:

Follow Eleanor Moran on Twitter: @EleanorKMoran

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Amazing Ella Quinn is here to discuss DESIRING LADY CARO and her Grand Tour

I admire Ella Quinn as a writer and person of such great friendship to everyone she comes in contact with.  To sponsor her today is my honor on every level…..

Hi Mary, thank you so much for having me back on your blog!

My latest release, Desiring Lady Caro, book #4 in The Marriage Game takes place on the go; all the way from Venice at the beginning to Paris at the end. The year is 1816, Napoleon had been finally routed the previous summer, and the English are pouring onto a continent they have not been able to travel safely for twenty years, including my hero, the Earl of Huntley. 
Though his reasons have more to do with avoiding marriage for another several months. The first place he plans to make an extended stop is Venice, where his aunt lives.

 If you’ve been to Venice, you’ll know it hasn’t changed much, other than sinking into the lagoon another several inches. But for those of you who haven’t visited, let’s take a tour.
At the time, Venice, as well as most of northern Italy, belonged to the Austrians. Here is a map of where exactly Venice is located.

Venice is mainly negotiated by water. The main thoroughfare is the Grand Canal. Off the Grand Canal are side “streets.” This painting of the Grand Canal was done in 1835, and gives you a good idea of what things were like back then.

The Canal was lined with large houses called palazzos. You’ll see the photo shows a deep balcony off what would be a main drawing room. Huntley, his aunt and Caro spent a good deal of time on the balcony.

Here are a couple of photos of the inside of a 16th century palazzo; I’ll venture to say it has not changed much in the past few hundred years.

We’ve all seen pictures of gondolas, but it was interesting to discover that the modern gondola is different than the ones back in the early 1800’s. The vast majority don’t have a small enclosed space called a felze. This was where the owner, or an important guest rode. Having Caro and her maid ride in the main part of the gondola was one of the ways Huntley tricked the Venetian villain who was after Caro.

Aside from waterways, boats, and beautiful houses, Venice was famous for its opera house. Opera is an Italian passion. When in Italy, you can hear it being sung almost everywhere by everybody.  La Fenice was the first opera house in Europe, and England open to the public. It opened in 1792 and is still going strong today, albeit, in its third reincarnation. Here is an image of what it looked like in the early 19th century. The next photo is what it looks like today.
I hope you’ve enjoyed your brief tour of Venice. Have you been there, do you want to go?

Author Biography

     Barnes & Nobel and Amazon bestselling author Ella Quinn’s studies and other jobs have always been on the serious side. Reading historical romances, especially Regencies, were her escape. Eventually her love of historical novels led her to start writing them.

     She is married to her wonderful husband of twenty-nine years. They have a son and granddaughter, Great Dane and a Chartreux. After living in the South Pacific, Central America, North Africa, England and Europe, she and her husband decided to make St. Thomas, VI home.

     Ella is a member of the Romance Writers of American, The Beau Monde and Hearts Through History. She is represented by Elizabeth Pomada of Larsen-Pomada Literary Agency, and published by Kensington. Her debut novel The Seduction of Lady Phoebe, was released in September 2013

Website: (Up soon)


DESIRING LADY CARO (The Marriage Game) by Ella Quinn 

There is such intimacy having a name being said not a title 

For Lady Caroline Martindale hiding from her past has to date been very successful and the life she has enjoyed as companion has been fulfilling and very satisfying.  But when unwelcomed attention is given it seems running away is the only option available.  Gervais, Earl of Huntley is visiting his aunt and discovers the predicament Caro is in and volunteers to rescue her to fill the time before his Grand Tour comes to an end.  Having convinced himself that Caro is only someone to rescue not be involved with helps keep Huntley’s mind free of thoughts of entanglement, or so he keeps telling himself. 

The determination of Caro’s unwelcomed suitor has her and Huntley traveling a long and detailed road that keeps them off the normal path.  They follow the map in a manner of speaking but have the ability to stay a step ahead for most of the trip.  The problem with long, drawn out trips is the time you have to sit next to one another and flirt with the idea of what it might be to have the person next to you still next to you many years down the road.  There are tests of strength for Caro and Huntley, an ability to share with each other deep and well kept secrets, as well as the ability to warm the other physically and emotionally.  The fever that Caro catches may threaten her well-being but the heat that she feels right now is only for Huntley. 

Can the two stop the mad man from taking Caro who he believes is his property to do with as he pleases, or will Huntley lose his footing and Caro all at the same time?  Huntley has learned good deeds may truly go unpunished if it means a lifetime of loving Caro. 

Ella Quinn has shown yet again that the base of a well written love story is the character development and building the romance to a crescendo that will last a life time.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Guest Blog Day with Amanda Carmack to talk about.....MURDER at WESTMINSTER ABBEY by Amanda Carmack

When I started writing Murder at Westminster Abbey, I had lots of fun digging through boxes looking for photos and scrapbooks of my trips to England, and I got to revisit my very first visit to Westminster Abbey!  It was a rainy, stormy day, and I had just arrived in London after a long overnight flight.  The hotel room wasn't yet ready, I was jet-lagged and a bit silly with lack of sleep and too much Chardonnay (I am a terrible flier!).  So what could be better than a few hours wandering around in the cool darkness of Westminster Abbey, out of the rain?
            For a lifelong history geek like me, the Abbey was a magical place.  I spent hours at Poet's Corner, visiting Chaucer and Browning.  I stumbled across Anne of Cleves, Margaret Beaufort, and Aphra Behn, and stood atop where Oliver Cromwell once lay, before the Restoration came and he was dug up again.  Best of all, I found myself nearly alone for a few precious minutes at the tomb Elizabeth I shares with Mary I. 
            It was wonderful to revisit my memories of that trip (and re-watch a DVD of William and Kate's wedding, just for research on cathedral details, of course!).  It was also a lot of fun to delve deeply into the events surrounding Elizabeth I's coronation—I almost feel like I could have been there now, and met all the historical figures who played a part in the glittering events.  I loved weaving the real pageantry with my fictional characters and what happened to them on those momentous days in January 1559.
            Queen Mary's funeral was on December 14, 1558, and Elizabeth then moved to Whitehall Palace to celebrate the Christmas season with a series of feasts and dances, organized by her newly appointed Master of the Horse, Robert Dudley.  But there was work to be done as well as dancing, a household to organize, counselors to appoint, and a coronation to plan.  The city, which had been quiet and somber for the last months of Queen Mary's sad life, sprang to life.  Viewing stands were built, streets graveled, the river cleaned up, and vast quantities of cloth of gold and silver, silks, velvets, and satins were ordered.  Seven hundred yards of blue cloth was laid as a carpet from Westminster Palace to the Abbey.  Despite the economy of re-making Queen Mary's royal robes for Elizabeth's more slender figure, the Exchequer paid out more than 18,000 pounds.
            Dr. John Dee, the new queen's favorite astrologer, laid out a horoscope predicting January 15 as the best date for the coronation.  He didn't predict the fact that the weather would be gray, cold, and icy, but the party went on.  On January 12, the queen boarded her barge at Whitehall and processed along the Thames to the Tower, where new monarchs traditionally slept before their coronation.  Accompanied by dozens of other barges, musicians, the Mayor and his aldermen, she floated past hundreds of people lining the riverbanks to toss flowers and shout their approval.  (The poor victim in my story, Nell, watches this procession before she sadly loses her life.  She'd heard from her grandmother about Queen Anne Boleyn's procession, and wants to see Queen Anne's daughter go by now...)
            On leaving the Tower, Elizabeth processed four miles through London, wearing 23 yards of cloth of gold and silver trimmed with ermine, riding in a white litter lined with gold and drawn by white mules.  Trumpeters proceeded her, and her household rode behind, dressed in their finest red velvets and furs to watch five stately pageants that symbolized the new beginning of the reign.  I loved having my heroine, Kate Haywood, ride behind the queen, taking it all in.
            As for the coronation will just have to read Murder at Westminster Abbey for a glimpse of it!
            Here are a few of the resources I found useful:
--Greville Cook, Queen Elizabeth And Her Court Musicans (Musical Times, 79, 1918)
--AL Rowse, Elizabeth's Coronation (History Today, III, 1953)
--Lawrence E. Tanner, The History and Treasures of Westminster Abbey, 1953
--Neville Williams, The Coronation of Elizabeth I (Quarterly Review, 597, 1953)

--WI Woodfill, Musicians in English Society from Elizabeth to Charles I (1953)

A Review of 
Murder at Westminster Abbey
An Elizabethan Mystery

Kate Haywood has been a loyal and devoted servant to her Queen during exile and now as she is about to take the throne.  With an inquisitive mind Kate is able to blend in with any person she might be standing next to and solving puzzles seems to be a gift.

With the buzz and excitement of the coronation the happiness is lending itself to sadness and danger as beautiful young women are being murdered.  Their only link is the resemblance to the newly crowned Queen and with no clues to find Kate takes on the task of finding the monster that is taking these lives. 

With the motive of making sure regardless of your station that justice is served Kate begins the hunt for clues that are scarce and potential witnesses that refuse to cooperate.  Kate is nothing if not a determined achiever and while running back and forth to handle the Queen and her investigation she may be moving too fast into one world where she is not “one of them” anymore.

As Kate chases down clues trying to find answers it seems that the women killed was a smoke screen to the target the murderer is really after.  Kate pushes on delving into every dark corner she can find and refuses to stop as the threats escalate and the person who is a determined killer breathes down her neck.

Amanda Carmack has written a classic mystery of suspense, intrigue, and devious behavior surrounded by the pomp and circumstance of how the other half lives.