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Archive for August, 2016

Deadly Engagement
(Alec Halsey Mystery, #1)

Genre: Historical Mystery (Georgian, 1763)

Cover Blurb:

Spring 1763. Career diplomat Alec Halsey returns to London to the shocking news his estranged brother, the Earl of Delvin, has not only killed his friend in a duel but is engaged to the woman Alec hoped to marry. The dead man’s mother wants Alec to investigate, so he reluctantly attends a weekend house party celebrating the engagement. Houseguests get more than they bargained for when a lady’s maid is murdered, the bride-to-be is attacked, and a guest is shot dead. Uncovering a connection between these sinister acts and his brother’s duel, Alec confronts a cruel twist of fate and why his brother will go to any lengths to ruin him in Polite Society.

The Alec Halsey mysteries explore the darker side of Lucinda Brant’s deliciously romantic 18th century world. Along with her trademark wit and high drama there are deeper subplots and even quirkier characters that will have you shuddering and laughing in equal measure!

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I teamed up with fellow blogger, Eileen Dandashi of Booktalk With Eileen to share our thoughts on Deadly Engagement.

Carol: Deadly Engagement was a real departure for me because it is essentially a historical mystery with romantic elements rather than a historical romance. Having read/listened to several books in Lucinda Brant’s Roxton Family Saga series, which I absolutely loved, it didn’t take much for my friends to persuade me that I should read this series. What were your initial thoughts, Eileen?

Eileen: Initially? I, once again, marveled at the suave, polished and refine voice Alex Wyndham uses to narrate. The use of his voice in its various nuances clues the listener into the internal conflicts of each of the characters. He propels the mysterious and suspenseful storyline forward with such vigor, a listener cannot stop listening.

Alec has quite a mix of emotions rolling inside himself. He thinks he loves Emily. He thinks he’s gotten over Selina. He thinks he can handle the duplicity of his elder brother, Edward. He thinks he can unravel who killed his friend Jack, for he is sure he was set up. He is confused, mystified and ultimately scared to death! I totally get into a mystery, Carol. It must come from all the Nancy Drew books I read as a young girl!

Carol: I totally agree with you about Alex Wyndham’s brilliant narration. I felt as if I was listening to a radio play performed by several actors instead of just one person and he gives each character a distinctive and easily identifiable voice. He seems to live and breathe every character and perfectly captures the personalities of each one. Listening to his superb performance definitely enhanced my enjoyment of the book.

Alec is a wonderful hero – handsome, intelligent and honourable. He had an unconventional upbringing with his rabble-rousing Uncle Plantagenet and, therefore has a very different outlook on life to his peers. What I really like about him is that he is his own man. He likes his life as it is and has no desire to be the Earl of Delvin. Whatever he achieves it is on his own merit.

I enjoyed the romantic elements simmering in the background and poor Alec certainly goes through the emotional wringer. I was happy to see him rekindling his feelings for Selina but was somewhat disappointed that matters between them remained unresolved. I’m hopeful of a happy ending later in the series.

Eileen: I’ve got to say it, pure and simple. I so disliked Edward Delvin. He is quite the devil, although dressed in proper attire as Earl. The man is extremely astute—additionally, he’s a conniving creep! Talk about a man who will do anything to gain more prestige and status. Ugh! I particularly didn’t like his little trick of using people against each other and going out of his way to take as much happiness from Alec as possible. He plays Lady Charlotte, getting her to do part of his dirty work. Frankly, her idea of appearing so terribly proper is offensive. Carol, do I make myself clear??!!

I’ve got to know what you think of Simon Tremarton and Lady Gervais. What about Plantagenet Halsey? This man was a balm to my nerves! He supported women and truth.

Carol: We both agree about Edward Delvin. I thoroughly detested that self-serving man. I hated how he called Alec “second” in that sneering way and how he manipulated the scene in Selina’s bedroom knowing just what Alec would believe (I loved Selina’s method of revenge!). Oh yes, Lady Charlotte. A real viper with an acid tongue!

I think Alec’s friend Sir Cosmo described Simon Tremarton perfectly – an opportunistic weasel and the polite word for the voluptuous Lady Gervais is promiscuous. What about that scene where Lady Gervais and her husband argue and then have anger-fueled sex?

Eileen: Nodding with complete agreement.

Carol: I love Plantagenet Halsey…such an outrageous character who is not afraid to voice exactly what he thinks. He obviously cares very much for his nephew and do I detect a potential romance between the old curmudgeon and The Duchess of Romney St. Neots?

Eileen: Yes, Plantagenet had simply a hard outer surface, but sweet and sincere to his core. I’m eager to see if The Duchess will find the honey within the lemon!

There were lots of characters in this story. Usually, I have difficulty keeping them apart, but the author did a fabulous job giving them each their own distinctive personality. In doing so, it also gives more depth to the mystery. More characters, more possibilities of who is culpable.

Was there any one point you told yourself, you had figured out what was going on? On my part, I kept hitting surprise after surprise in the many twists this story takes. Just when I think I have a pulse on the mystery another layer of intrigue is exposed.

Carol: I agree, despite there being a large number of characters, they were all so well-drawn, each with distinctive traits. They all added depth to the story and, as you say, provided a wide choice of potential suspects. I thought the mystery was so well-plotted and the twists and turns certainly kept me guessing as to the identity of the culprit and the motive. I also like how Ms Brant explored the darker side of Georgian society within the context of the story.

Eileen: I enjoyed the part of Tam, the young self-appointed valet to Alec. For a young man, he has seen much cruelty of the world, yet has a compassion to help the weak. He experiences the wickedness of those who connive and realizes noblemen who do wrong, very often go unpunished.

Sir Cosmo, a very good friend of Alec, is a very earnest and sincere young man. A most likeable character. He’s speaks what we are all think. I love when he speaks of the physique of a male. “Who wouldn’t prefer a stallion to an ass!”,

Carol: I thought Tam was an interesting character with his apothecary skills. He’s honest and it infuriated me to see him suspected of a murder he didn’t commit simply because of who he is. Unfortunately, that’s how most of society treated their servants. So I enjoyed the scene where the reform-minded Plantagenet Halsey lambastes Lord Gervais who objects to seeing Tam drinking coffee in the same room. When we discover the identity of Tam’s father, it was quite a shock.

I very much liked the rather corpulent Sir Cosmo. As you say, he is a man who speaks plainly and provides some delightful humour with the things he says. At the same time, he is a good and decent man and a true friend to Alec even when it means telling Alec some hard truths where Selina is concerned.

Eileen: So all in all, we both agree. This story was superb. I’m ready to listen to book 2 of the series. I can’t possibly leave the threads hanging nor leave what Ms. Brant has in store for the characters. She really knows how to gather her listeners and engage them.

Carol: Yes, this is an excellently written, superbly narrated story and I’m eagerly looking forward to listening to the other books in this series. I agree, Ms Brant certainly knows how to keep you coming back for more!

REVIEW RATING: STELLAR 5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: SUBTLE

https://eileendandashi.wordpress.com/?s=Deadly+Engagement

Booktalk with Eileen: Journaling a Journey -- Learning the Art of Crafting a Novel

pic 1Hey, Carol what do you think? It was hard getting down here, I know. My backside is so-o-o sore! These mules aren’t the easiest way to reach the bottom of the canyon, but just look at the view!  A – MA-A_A_A – ZING!!

Anyone coming to the states to see its vastness and beauty needs to make a trip here, don’t you think?. And since we’ve recently had a nice visit at the Pettigrew Tea Room in Wales, I thought you’d like a change of pace, that is roughing it, as many Americans like to do for vacations.  I wonder if it has anything to do with our frontier days and conquering the west?  Perhaps our DNA drives us to do it. Hmmmm.pic 4

Lucky, we’re in front of these guys.  At least our mules won’t slip on something, ah, newly made and take us over the side!

Carol: WOW, Eileen!…

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Regina Jeffers

I’m delighted to welcome to Award-Winning Author and fellow blogger REGINA JEFFERS to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Diolch, Carol. As often as you and I interact on social media, it only seemed proper that we “meet” and have a pleasant conversation and perhaps a cup of tea. My cup is filled with lemon ginger today.

I’m partial to a cup of Earl Grey, Regina.

~~~~~~~

R&R:
Could you tell us where you were born and what it was like growing up there?

Regina:
I am from Huntington, West Virginia, a small town on the Ohio River, where the states of Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia meet. It is a college town, home of Marshall University (named after Chief Justice John Marshall). It is a city steeped in history, founded in 1775 in what was then the Colony of Virginia, but the area was settled as early as 1609 by French settlers. It is named after Collis Potter Huntington, the founder of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway.

Living in Huntington was the best. You could never meet friendlier people. In fact, a large number of my followers on my Facebook page are long-time friends and former students who wish to see me succeed. Even though I have not lived in Huntington since 1982, they consider me part of them.  It is the way of things in my hometown. People still stop to assist others. You can bet that one of your new neighbors will show up on your doorstep with a smile of welcome and a chocolate cake for your sweet tooth. A person can still purchase a frosted mug of root beer at the FrostTop drive in, the best hotdogs at Stewarts, and yummy pork sandwiches at Midway Drive Thru. Growing up, we did not go to Crispy Creme We went for long walks, rode our bikes, and simply enjoyed life. Our parents never worried for our safety, for even strangers were helpful. It is a community with strong Scottish, Irish, Welsh, and German ties.

I was an only child. A Navy military brat. Part of the Sputnik generation. I skipped grades in school. Was crippled with Rheumatic fever until I was 5. Played with my two cousins. Respected my elders. Enjoyed the outdoors. Loved to listen to the stories around the dinner table. Attended church regularly. Recognized we were poor, but was proud of how my mother always kept us safe. Read everything placed before me. Mine ideal life for I knew friends, family, and love.

Regina Jeffers Interview - childhood photo

 

R&R:
How would you describe yourself – temperamental or easy-going?

Regina:
I often say I am a “lead, follow, or get out of my way” type of person. I am one of those people that if I am in a crowd, I become the authority in charge. Although I do not consider myself high maintenance, I guess I would say temperamental. Those of us raised during the Second World War forward understand the idea of females claiming their own while still knowing certain subjugation to males. I tend to be a type-A personality – bordering on OCD when it comes to some facets of my life. LOL! I am a perfectionist and my own worst critic. I was once a “clean freak,” but having children broke that exacting habit.

 

R&R:
When it comes to food do you like sweet or savoury or both?

Regina:
Although I like something salty periodically, I do avoid too much sodium in my diet. I will be 69 in September, and my physician is most insistent upon that fact. As to spicy food, I generally avoid it for I have an esophageal ulcer. That simply leaves me with my sweet tooth – generally ice cream for I do love Magnum Gold and Double Caramel bars. That being said, I have been a vegetarian for many years. I do eat fish for protein and for the iron component.

 

R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Regina:
Needless to say, my son and grandchildren are more important than any physical possessions, but I do hold onto some items close to my heart. From my grandmother, I have a necklace and bracelet that is made from pink gold. There are so unusual, that I receive lots of compliments on them. I also have a bicycle that has the original 1947 license plate on it. It was a used bike and my first one.

 

R&R:
If you were able to afford a second home anywhere in the world where would you choose and why?

Regina:
It will sound as if I am just playing to the British “card,”  but I would choose a home in the UK. I said earlier that I was a military brat, but I was also a military wife. I have seen enough of the world. I do not require a tropical beach. Give me England’s rain. When I did the ancestry.com DNA test, my ancestral results came back as 99.7% being from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and western Europe. One could put a large glass tumbler over the British Isles on a map, draw a circle, and you would mark my ancestral roots. At my age, learning more of my family in the UK and Germany would serve me well. Plus, I could explore the fascinating history that consumes my waking hours.

 

R&R:
Finally, what has been your most embarrassing moment?

Regina:
I have had my fair share of falls, guffaws, misspeaks, and pure “blonde” moments. Yet, the most embarrassing one was when I went into labor in the middle of my theatre class. I was nearly two months early. While my students were practicing scenes, I walked across the room to the file cabinet to retrieve another list of play excerpts from which they could choose to perform for their acting finals. Unfortunately, my son decided to make himself known at just that moment. My water broke, flooding my slacks and oozing onto the floor. My acting class suddenly became “marriage and family life.”

~~~~~~~

Thank you for taking time out to be here today and sharing these interesting facts about yourself, Regina.

This was great fun, Carol. Thank you for hosting me today. The questions had me laughing good-naturedly at my shortcomings.

 


If you would like to find out more about Regina, her books and her blog, here are the links:

Website: http://reginajeffers.com
Blog: https://reginajeffers.wordpress.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1153072.Regina_Jeffers
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Regina-Jeffers-Author-Page-141407102548455
Twitter: https://twitter.com/reginajeffers

 

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