Friday, August 28, 2015


Today I’m so happy to welcome fellow Rose, Linda Bennett Pennell with her brand new release CASABLANCA: APPOINTMENT AT DAWN. Congratulations, Linda

Thank you so much for having me here today, Barb!! I really appreciate the chance to talk about my latest release. Here is a little taste of what it’s about.

Will seven days be enough time to save the Allied war effort and the girl he loves?

Sarah Barrett, U.S. Army R.N., is finished with wartime romance. Determined to protect her recently broken heart, she throws all of her time and energy into caring for her patients, but when she is given a coded message by a mysterious dying civilian, she is sucked into a vortex of danger and intrigue that threatens her very survival. The one person who can help Sarah is Kurt Heinz, a man with too many secrets to be trusted. 

 Goodness, Linda. This sounds exciting! This isn't your first book.What others have you published?

This is actually my third book to be published. I have one in the drawer that needs work and a work in progress, as well. My first release was AL CAPONE AT THE BLANCHE HOTEL. My second was CONFEDERADO DO NORTE.
Quite a variety of interest, although each looks suspenseful. What draws you to this genre?

I have been in love with the past since I was a small child. Anything with a history fascinates me, whether it is a castle or a hovel, if it has a history, I am all over it!

Oh, so am I, Linda. What inspired you for this particular story?

I have always been interested in World War II history. If there has ever been a clearer battle between good and evil, I cannot think of what it would be. I originally thought I would write a story about a ninety day wonder, as WWII Army Air Corps pilots in training were known, and an army nurse stationed at the Hialeaha, Florida training facility, but it just wasn’t working for me. During my research, I was in communication with a WWII pilot who mentioned a friend who had flown in North Africa and was stationed in Casablanca. I read up on the Casablanca Conference and found my premise. My guy morphed into an OSS officer and my problem was solved!

It's a terrific premise.You said you are working on something else. What’s your next project?

My work in progress returns to my contemporary main character from Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel. Liz is a university professor who specializes in the history of American crime. The novels in which she is featured are told in alternating timelines from her contemporary POV and the POV of the historical figure she is researching. My WIP is entitled MIAMI DAYS, HAVANA NIGHTS.This time, Liz is following the trail of a low level Meyer Lansky associate. She believes that history comes alive through telling the stories of how ordinary people were affected by the powerful gangsters of American history.

You've chosen a creative way of telling that series of stories. It must be challenging. What one tip would you offer writers?

I really have nothing new to add to the advice given already by so many. It may seem trite, but things become trite and/or clich├ęs because there is so much truth in them. If I were limited to one thing, it would be this: be kind to yourself. There are many, many opportunities for hurtful experiences, like rejection by agents and editors, on the road to publication. Negative self-talk has never done anyone any good. It also kills creativity. Learn what you are able from all feedback and then move on!

Ignoring negativity is difficult, but so important to do, especially for writers. We must have confidence in ourselves. Thanks so much for being here today. I hope you’ll come back again.

Here's an intriguing peek at Linda's new work.


“I’m Heinz. What do you want?”

“Oh. It’s you.”


“From the restaurant on New Year’s Eve.”

Kurt was silent for a moment, then it came back to
him. “I remember. Sarah, right? You’re the girl who refused to dance with me.”

A red flush crawled from her throat onto the apple of her cheeks. “Yes. I’m sorry if I was rude.”

“I’ve been cut dead before. I got over it.”

The girl’s eyes glittered. “I’m sure you did. Are you going to keep me standing here on the doorstep for everyone to see?”

“Why? I’m not expecting company. Would it be a problem?”

“It certainly might if the people who tore my apartment apart followed me here."
Kurt looked into her eyes with complete attention for the first time since opening the door. Whatever had happened to this girl, she looked terrified and angry. Not a particularly good combination for the covert activities he and Phelps were up to. Kurt made a quick decision.
He stepped back and pulled the door wide while raising his voice.“You better come inside and tell me why you think what happened to your apartment has anything to do with me.”

When they stepped into the living area, Phelps had disappeared. Kurt gestured toward the sofa and the girl sat down. Propping himself on the sofa’s arm, he looked down into her frightened eyes. “Now tell me how I can help you, Miss, uh…”
“Barrett, Sarah. US Army. RN.”

“Well, Nurse Barrett, what can I do for you?”

The girl stuck her hand in her coat pocket and whipped out a scrap of paper that she waved in his face. “By telling me what’s on this paper and why it’s so
important that somebody took a knife to my furniture.”

I have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother's porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the American South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.

As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to her or himself, "Let's pretend." 

I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one adorable German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite certain she’s a little girl.

My favorite quote regarding my professional passion:  "History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up." Voltaire 

Visit Linda at

Twitter:  @LindaPennell

Buy link Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn:  

Buy link for Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel:

Buy link for Confederado do Norte:

Buy link for When War Came Home:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Post-Napoleonic Paris and Sasha Cottman's The Duke's Daughter

Sasha Cottman has a delightful new Regency out and I'm to happy to have her stop by to tell us all about it. THE DUKE'S DAUGHTER is set just after the end of the Napoleonic wars.

Post-Napoleonic Paris

It’s amazing to think that only two hundred years ago, Paris looked very different to the city the world knows it today. 

While writing the latest story in the Duke of Strathmore series, The Duke’s Daughter, I decided to set part of the story in post Napoleonic Paris

As soon as I began to write, I was struck by how different a city it was then compared to today.

In 1817, the Eiffel Tower was still over 70 years away from being built. The famous Arc de Triomphe was only partially built (Napoleon marched under a wooden version in his victory parade). It wouldn’t be until 1836 that this icon of Paris would finally be completed.

Even the white domed basilica of Sacre Coeur would not begin to rise from the ground until 1871.
So what then was Paris like after the fall of Napoleon? 

The Regency period visitor could ride in a carriage down the Champ-Elysees, which at that time was little more than a tree lined avenue. The fashion houses of Louis Vuitton and Hugo Boss were still many years in the future.

No visit to Paris was complete without a visit to the thirteenth century masterpiece Notre-Dame. At this time however, the cathedral had suffered extensive damage during the French Revolution. It would take until 1845 for the repairs to get underway.

Fascinating to realize many of the landmarks we think of today weren’t there, isn’t it? Thanks for the insight, Sasha.
Here’s a peek at the latest in Sasha’s THE DUKE OF STRATHMORE SERIES

When handsome army officer Avery Fox unexpectedly inherits a fortune, he instantly becomes one of the season's most eligible bachelors. More accustomed to the battlefield, he has no patience with the naive debutantes who fill the ballrooms of London.

Honest and impetuous Lady Lucy Radley is a breath of fresh air, guiding him through the season and helping him to avoid any traps. So when Avery is left with little option but to marry Lucy, he can't help but feel he's been manipulated. Nor can he shake the feeling that a duke's daughter should be out of his reach.

From the wildly beautiful Scottish Highlands to the elegant soirees of Paris, Avery and Lucy go on a journey that is full of surprises for them both.  But will their feelings for each other be strong enough to overcome the circumstances of their marriage and survive the ghosts of Avery's past?


Chapter One 

By every measure of her own behaviour, Lady Lucy Radley knew this was the worst. 

'You reckless fool,' she muttered under her breath as she headed back inside and into the grand ballroom. 

The room was a crush of London's social elite. Every few steps she had to stop and make small talk with friends or acquaintances. A comment here and there about someone's gown or promising a social call made for slow going. 

 Finally she spied her cousin, Eve. She fixed a smile to her face as Eve approached.

'Where have you been, Lucy? I've been searching everywhere for you.'

'I was just outside admiring the flowers on the terrace.' 

Eve frowned, but the lie held. 

Another night, another ball in one of London's high-society homes. In one respect Lucy would be happy when the London social season ended in a few weeks; then she would be free to travel to her family home in Scotland and go tramping across the valleys and mountain paths, the chill wind ruffling her hair.

She puffed out her cheeks. With the impending close of the season came an overwhelming sense of failure. Her two older brothers, David and Alex, had taken wives. Perfect, love-filled unions with delightful girls, each of whom Lucy was happy to now call sister.

Her newest sister-in-law, Earl Langham's daughter Clarice, was already in a delicate condition, and Lucy suspected it was only a matter of time before her brother Alex and his wife Millie shared some good news.

For herself, this season had been an unmitigated disaster on the husband-hunting front. The pickings were slim at best. Having refused both an earl and a viscount the previous season, she suspected other suitable gentlemen now viewed her as too fussy. No gentleman worth his boots wanted a difficult wife. Only the usual group of fortune-hunters, intent on getting their hands on her substantial dowry, were lining up at this stage of the season to ask her to dance. Maintaining her pride as the daughter of a duke, she refused them all.

Somewhere in the collective gentry of England there must be a man worthy of her love. She just had to find him. 

What a mess. 

'You are keeping something from me,' Eve said, poking a finger gently into Lucy's arm. 

Lucy shook her head. 'It's nothing. I suspect I am suffering from a touch of ennui. These balls all begin to look the same after a while. All the same people, sharing the same gossip.' 

'Oh dear, and I thought I was having a bad day,' Eve replied. 

'Sorry, I was being selfish. You are the one who needs a friend to cheer her up,' Lucy replied. She kissed her cousin gently on the cheek.

Eve's brother William had left London earlier that day to return to his home in Paris, and she knew her cousin was taking his departure hard.

'Yes, well, I knew I could sit at home and cry, or I could put on a happy face and try to find something to smile about,' Eve replied.

Eve's father had tried without success to convince his son to return permanently to England. With the war now over and Napoleon toppled from power, everyone expected William Saunders to come home immediately, but it had taken two years for him to make the journey back to London.

'Perhaps once he gets back to France and starts to miss us all again, he shall have a change of heart,' Lucy said.

'One can only hope. Now, let's go and find a nice quiet spot and you can tell me what you were really doing out in the garden. Charles Ashton came in the door not a minute before you, and he had a face like thunder. As I happened to see the two of you head out into the garden at the same time a little while ago, I doubt Charles' foul temper was because he found the flowers not to his liking,' Eve replied. 

It was late when Lucy and her parents finally returned home to Strathmore House. The Duke and Duchess of Strathmore's family home was one of the largest houses in the elegant West End of London. It was close to the peaceful greenery of Hyde Park, and Lucy couldn't imagine living anywhere else.
As they came through the grand entrance to Strathmore House she was greeted by the sight of her eldest brother David seated on a low couch outside their father's study. He was clad in a heavy black greatcoat and his hat was in his hand. 

'Hello, David; bit late for a visit this evening. I hope nothing is wrong,' said Lord Strathmore. 

'Clarice?' asked Lady Caroline. 

'She's fine, sleeping soundly at home,' he replied.

Lucy sensed the pride and love for his wife in her brother's voice. He had found his true soulmate in Lord Langham's daughter.

David stood and came over. When he reached them, he greeted his mother and sister with a kiss. His dark hair was a stark contrast to both Lady Caroline's and Lucy's fair complexions.

He turned to his father. 'Lord Langham's missing heir has been found, and the news is grave. My father-in-law asked that I come and inform you before it becomes public knowledge. A rather horrid business, by all accounts.'

'I see. Ladies, would you please excuse us? This demands my immediate attention,' Lord Strathmore said.

As Lucy and Lady Caroline headed up the grand staircase, he and David retired to his study. As soon as the door was closed behind them, David shared the news.

'The remains of Thaxter Fox were retrieved from the River Fleet a few hours ago. His brother Avery, whom you met at my wedding ball a few weeks ago, has formally identified the body. Lord Langham is currently making funeral arrangements,' David said.

His father shook his head. It was not an unexpected outcome of the search for the missing Thaxter Fox.

He wandered over to a small table and poured two glasses of whisky. He handed one to David. 

'Well, that makes for a new and interesting development. I don't expect Avery Fox had ever entertained the notion before today that he would one day be Earl Langham,' Lord Strathmore replied, before downing his drink.

'Perhaps, but he had to know the likelihood of finding his brother in one piece was slim at best. From our enquiries, it was obvious Thaxter had a great many enemies,' David replied. 

'Including you,' said the duke.

David looked down at his gold wedding ring. It still bore the newlywed gleam, which made him smile.

'He and I had come to a certain understanding. If he stayed away from Langham House and Clarice, I would not flay the skin off his back. No, someone else decided to make Thaxter pay for his evil ways.'

The Langham and Radley families held little affection for the recently deceased heir to the Langham title. After Thaxter had made an attempt to seize Clarice's dowry through a forced marriage, both families had severed all ties. Thaxter had disappeared not long after.

David would do everything in his power to protect Clarice. With a baby on the way, he was fully prepared to stare down the rest of the town if it meant keeping his wife safe. As the illegitimate, but acknowledged, son of the duke, David had overcome many of society's prejudices in order to successfully woo and wed Lord Langham's only daughter. 

'Unkind as it sounds, I doubt many at Langham House will be mourning the demise of the eldest Mr Fox,' his father replied.



THE DUKE'S DAUGHTER, released through Destiny romance, is the latest in THE DUKE OF STRATHMORE SERIES. It joins:


The Duke’s Daughter is available as an ebook at the following eretailers.
Amazon Australia
Amazon UK, 

Social Media Links
You can follow Sasha and find out more about her and her books on her website:

Pinterest board The Duke’s Daughter