Review and Giveaway Bride by Blackmail

About the Book

Book: Bride by Blackmail

Author: Debbie Lynne Costello

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Release Date: September 15, 2020

A broken heart, a controlling father, and an intrusive Scot leave Charlotte Jackson reeling. Accused of stealing an heirloom pin, she must choose between an unwanted marriage and the ruin of her family name. With the futures of her three younger sisters at stake, as well as her own reputation, Charlotte must navigate through injustice to find forgiveness and true happiness.

Eager to find the traitor that caused the death of his brother, Duncan Mackenzie comes to America and attempts to fit in with Charleston society. But when the headstrong Charlotte catches his eye, Duncan takes on a second mission—acquiring the lass’s hand. After being spurned several times, he uses unconventional ways of winning her heart.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

Historic Charleston, South Carolina and Debbie Costello—what a fantastic combination. Back to my favorite city, no matter the time period. I love to walk the streets in any decade or century. Debbie brings life and mystery in her writing with characters that capture the time and essence of Charleston.

Her heroine Charlotte has an interesting and possibly devastating dilemma with neither option rendering happiness for all involved. She has to take the less selfish offer to save her family from shame, doesn’t she?

How many times do we put others first even to our own detriment and pain? As a parent—sacrifice. As a spouse—compromise. But do I remember to seek another way, God’s way? It’s comforting to know He can turn my crazy plans into good. How much easier and rewarding if I would listen to Him first.

Envision a beloved town as you the reader meet these characters on the street, in the mansions, trying to find that blend of purpose and hope, doing God’s will even with the sacrifice of the familiar. Enjoy!

About the Author

Debbie Lynne Costello has been writing since the young age of eight. She went to college for journalism. She enjoys medieval settings and settings set in nineteenth century Charleston, South Carolina. She loves the Lord and hopes to touch people’s lives through her stories. Debbie Lynne lives in the beautiful state of South Carolina with her husband of 40 years, their 4 children, 2 Tennessee Walking horses, 2 Arabians, miniature donkey, 6 ducks, and 3 dogs.

More from Debbie

It is fun to build characters in books and one of the best ways is to show some sort of a hobby or skill that the particular character enjoys. In Bride by Blackmail, Charlotte and her sister, Nellie, are doing needlework on a tablecloth that they hope to have done by the holiday season. My grandmother who would be over a hundred today loved to do needlework. I have pieces from when she was young up until her later years when she did needlework on pillowcases to decorate them up as a Christmas present. But I also have pieces done by my great-great grandmother and her sisters. They are cherished pieces I hope to hand down for generations. As part of my giveaway I’ve purchased antique needlework and embroidered pieces to giveaway with the prizes.

Another fun way to build characters is show something they love to eat. Nellie, who is a minor character, is visiting the hero’s home with her family. Duncan being from Scotland has scones on the breakfast menu. Nellie can’t get enough of the yummy biscuits and finds the servant enjoys helping her continue her indulgence even after she leaves.

SCONES

Preheat oven to 400

2 cups of flour

1/3 cup sugar

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

½ cup sour cream

½ cup butter (hard)

½ cup cranberries

1 large egg

2 tsp. sugar (do not put this in with the dry ingredients. This is for topping.)

Mix together dry ingredients in large bowl. Once mixed well, cut hard butter into pats and drop into the bowl. Now cut the butter into the floured mixture until it is more like a crumble. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together your egg and your sour cream until well mixed.

With a fork (no mixer!) blend the liquid mixture into the flour mixture, keep stirring until the mixture becomes one large ball. If you need to you can use your hands toward the end to make sure all the flour is in the ball.

On a lightly floured surface pat the dough out to about 3/4” thick. I try to make mine a rectangle for the next step. Once you have the thickness right, sprinkle with the remaining 2 tsps. sugar. Cut the dough into triangles and place on cookie sheet (you can use parchment paper on the cookie sheet). Be sure to place adequately apart on the sheet to prevent them touching when rising.

Bake approximately 15 minutes or until they are a beautiful golden color.

Allow to cool slightly. These are wonderful warm or cold!

Blog Stops

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 14

Hallie Reads, December 14

Sara Jane Jacobs, December 15

Novels Corner, December 15

Ashley’s Bookshelf, December 16

Connect in Fiction, December 16

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 17

Artistic Nobody, December 18 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Britt Reads Fiction, December 18

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 19

Simple Harvest Reads, December 19 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Rebecca Tews, December 20

deb’s Book Review, December 20

Inklings and notions, December 21

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 21

Texas Book-aholic, December 22

Splashes of Joy, December 22

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 23

Vicky Sluiter, December 23

Labor Not in Vain, December 24

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, December 25

Connie’s History Classroom, December 26

Bizwings Blog, December 26

For Him and My Family, December 27

Maureen’s Musings, December 27

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Debbie is giving away the grand prize of a smart watch!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/104ae/bride-by-blackmail-celebration-tour-giveaway

I look forward to reading your comments.

Review and Giveaway Georgia Ann–English Rose

Georgia Ann

About the Book

Book: Georgia Ann, English Rose

Author: Elva Cobb Martin

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Release Date: November 17, 2020

Georgia Ann English Rose

Two Charles Town men love Georgia Ann Cooper—Samuel Vargas and his step-brother, Joshua Becket—but only one both attracts and infuriates her. Even though he’s a dangerous budding patriot and a privateer—or more likely pirate—Samuel fills her dreams and waking moments. When he leaves Charles Town for high sea adventure on the legendary Spice Trail, she determines to push him out of her thoughts and her graces. A task made slightly easier when she sets out on her own journey to accompany her father on one of his merchant trips to the Mediterranean.

Samuel Vargas is determined to make his own way in the world, not live in the glow of his parents’ escapades throughout Charles Town and the seas surrounding the Spanish Main. There’s no better place to earn his fortune than the Spice Trail. But the adventure becomes more than he bargained for when he stumbles across a familiar face from Charles Town in Tripoli, and he’s forced to use all his abilities to save the life of the woman he’s been trying to forget.

As their paths intertwine on a journey filled with Barbary pirates, intrigue, and romance, only love and the grace of God can overcome the past and ignite a new beginning for Georgia Ann and Samuel.

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

Just say the word Charleston and I am there in my mind, wanting to be there in person. In Georgia Ann—English Rose the adventures are endless, whether in Charleston, on the High Seas, or Tripoli, the characters are thrown into action for survival and rescue. The prospect of landing in a harem or marring the wrong man because of a whisper of a promise aren’t to be taken lightly in the 1700s.

Danger lurks today as we travel but we expect to reach the destination with little discomfort. Stories of piracy, abduction, and slavery still exist too. But the feats of bravery in this novel beat beyond what most of us face in a lifetime.

If the reader wants a fast-paced read, I’d recommend Georgia Ann—English Rose. The characters resonate as flesh and blood always a heartbeat away from danger.

I almost forgot to mention one of my favorite historical characters, Christopher Gadsden, has a role, alluding to the idea of war with the British.

About the Author

Elva Cobb Martin

Elva Cobb Martin is a wife, mother, and grandmother who lives in South Carolina with her husband and a mini-dachshund. A life-long student of history, her favorite city, Charleston, inspires her stories of romance and adventure. Her love of writing grew out of a desire to share exciting stories of courageous characters and communicate truths of the Christian faith to bring hope and encouragement. Connect with her on her web site at http://www.elvamartin.com.

More from Elva

Georgia Ann (& the Spice Trade) – Book 2 in my Charleston Brides Series

I enjoy researching material to make my novels richer and help readers learn something new while enjoying my Christian historical romances. In Georgia Ann, my hero, Samuel Vargas, sails off to make his fortune in spices we take for granted in our kitchens today. I loved doing the research about this flavorful commodity.

The Spice Islands are actually called the Maluku Islands and theylie in the Indonesian Pacific archipelago, north of Australia and south of Thailand and China.

The history of spices reveals a hazardous, exciting tale spread over centuries of daring, courage and greed and many countries and oceans.

The spice trade actually drove the world’s economyfrom the end of the Middle Ages well into modern times. But the economical importance of spices, recorded in the history of Kerala, referred to as “The Spice Garden of India,” goes back as far as 3000 BC which marks the beginning of the spice trade.

Wars have been fought on land and sea and nations have been made wealthy (and at least one annihilated) in the battle for control of the spice trade.

Nutmeg and New York

The spice trade brought great riches to Arab, Indian, Venetian, Portuguese, Dutch, and Spanish traders. It once brought death to residents of the Banda Spice Islands over a nutmeg monopoly. In 1603 the Dutch East India Company (known as VOC) ousted the Portuguese control of nutmeg on these islands.

Here’s an interesting tidbit in the history of nutmeg. The English fought the Dutch over control of this spice. England finally handed their island of Rhun over to the Dutch in exchange for a swampy island trading post in North America, an unattractive property known then as New Amsterdam; today as Manhattan Island!

The search for cinnamon, ginger, pepper, cloves, nutmeg, turmeric, cassia, in the ancient world gave rise to unbelievable tales. To satisfy the curious, to protect their market, and to discourage competitors the spice-source countries like India and Asia spread fantasy tales of danger, magic, strange animals, and snake-infested glens. Sinbad the Sailor stories grew out of this mindset.

For us in the USA, another most important fact stands out about the Spice Trade, besides it being involved in the trade for Manhattan Island. The Americas were discovered (1492) due to Spain sending Columbus to find a western route to India (from the Atlantic to the Pacific) to reap in the rewards for these valuable spices desired by all Europe.

The danger-fraught routes at that time (1400’s) from Europe were through the Mediterranean and Egypt (Alexandria) overland to the Red Sea and down the Persian Gulf, then sailing over the Indian Ocean to India, and to the Spice Islands.

Cloves

A native tradition of the Spice Islands was to plant a clove tree at a child’s birth, symbolically linking the child to the tree’s life.

The clove tree is an evergreen that grows up to twelve feet tall with large glossy leaves and crimson flowers in clusters that when ripe and dried become the cloves like we use in cooking.

Today, spices are grown in many countries other than the Spice Islands that have temperate climates.

The World’s Three Most Traded Spices Today

Pepper, vanilla, and ginger are spicing up lives and economies. Millions of dollars are earned in sales. Pepper is exported by Viet Nam, India, and China. Vanilla comes from mainly Madagascar, Indonesia, and Mauritius. Main exporters of ginger are China and the Netherlands.

And one last spicy tidbit: The United States leads the world in spice consumption and imports.

Hope I haven’t bored you, but I love discovering history like this and sowing bits into my novels.

Thanks for stopping by.  And remember when you use cloves again to stick in that ham, or use the powdered form in an apple pie—a lot of “stuff” happened over centuries to get this spice so readily available in your kitchen.

Elva Cobb Martin

Blog Stops

Connie’s History Classroom, November 28

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 29

Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 30

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 1

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 2

Connect in Fiction , December 2

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Elva is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/103eb/georgia-ann-english-rose-celebration-tour-giveaway

Please leave your comments. Is there a special spice that you enjoy?

A Stroll Down Memory Lane

Honestly, I miss vacations and the planning of vacations. Almost every year I go to Charleston, South Carolina because I ADORE this charming city. But, as you know, not much traveling is happening right now. COVID19 summer could be a bummer for travel. So far, I’m staying home except for jaunts to state parks and wide open places.

So, I stroll down memory lane with my pictures. Those blessed souvenirs of past travels. Why does Charleston come to mind when I’ve been many other places? Well, last year I spent a week there with my wonderful sisters. I can relive each day with them and return thankful that we had the time together.

I’ve also spent time in Charleston with my husband–early in our marriage and recently. While I enjoyed researching my novels, he found unique places and facts that made it into my books. The male perspective is good material every now and again.

About ten years ago, when my novels where just a speck in my cluttered brain, I found myself on a plane on my way to Charleston all by myself. I needed to find the connection between my ideas and the historical value. I found it in the streets of Charleston–the museum, the churches, the houses, the streets, the bookstores, the dungeon, the harbor.

The great thing about vacations (because they are over so quickly) is the memories. These I can conjure up at any point. The pictures sure do help. As I’m waiting to be able to fly away to a fun destination, the stroll flowing with memories will have to suffice.

How about you? Are you vacationing this summer? Where? If not, what past vacations are you remembering? Enjoy the stroll. 

A Walking Tour

IMG_4075Walking is one of my favorite pastimes whether for exercise or a stroll to check out new and old neighborhoods. What about you? Does the prospect of a walk send you searching for your walking/running shoes? When I travel, I enjoy setting off through the streets and paths of the area hoping to find something not overtly popular in a guidebook. And if there is time, getting “lost” is sometimes a pleasant use of time especially if it is in Venice, Paris, or any other interesting city or town. My husband is a master at leaving the tour and winding through the less traveled streets. One of my favorite memories is turning off the main passageway in Venice with a few hours to spare soaking up the ambiance of the neighborhoods with a few stops for gelato.

Before I write one of my historical novels, I wander the streets of the characters’ town and imagine walking in their footsteps, the ones taken two centuries before when life was a lot different. But still, they would have taken the same routes to take care of everyday chores and activities. I’ve spent many hours in Charleston, SC walking from my characters’ house to the wharf, church, mercantile, friends’ houses, Custom House, government buildings, etc. It gives me a sense of understanding their lives and actions better. The cobblestones are the same ones their feet had traveled.

I’m reading a fun little book I bought in Charleston this summer– Unplug Every Day. One of the suggestions is “Take a walking tour of your town.” What a great idea! Have you done that recently? Have you really looked at the sights that you see all the time? Think about the significance of the buildings, the landmarks, the plaques. Think about who lived in your town before you. This physical walk down memory lane is a great exercise that I plan to repeat more often.

When was the last time you walked the streets of your town with your eyes alert and focused?

 

Not an ordinary vacation activity

IMG_8599Recently I joined my three sisters on a much-needed vacation and sister time in Charleston, South Carolina. We always include yummy restaurants and a beach journey if possible. After walking and walking in this beautiful, historic city, we enjoyed the relaxation each evening with a movie in our little rented house with a coveted dessert or two.

IMG_1181Part of my research for my books and for genealogical information included searching the cemetery at St. Philip’s for ancestors. I had done this before with my husband with no luck. Finding a tombstone that is legible from 1760-1780 is difficult. My father had seen it around 1952 and later in the 1960s. But the church has no records of where my relatives were buried just the fact that they were buried in the cemetery.

My father gave us instructions before we left for our trip. “I want pictures of you in the cemetery searching for the graves.” He laughed. And I’m sure we were a sight taking off across the graveyard scouring all the headstones for a familiar name or two. I promise not one of the four of us thought about not completing this task.

Growing up with Daddy and traveling with him led us to many cemeteries. Mama and the four of us would follow him around, listening to his stories or family or historical events. I still do this. For some odd reason, I like visiting the grave sites of historical figures whether in Europe or the US.  From the elaborate tombs of Elizabeth I or the missing headstone of an Uncle Jack in North Louisiana.

After my sisters’ left, I stayed a few days and found myself in the Pioneer Cemetery in Orangeburg, S.C. I found some family members and one stone with unrecognizable lettering on it. Records show that Louis and Elizabeth Lestarjette (major characters in my Revolutionary Faith Series) are in this cemetery with their children but the graves are unmarked, disappearing through the 200 plus years. I will be back to try again to see if I can find out more.

I wondered as we roamed cemeteries, if anyone else does this strange activity on vacation or anytime. Do you have something you include in a vacation that might be a bit odd? Share here.

 

First Things First

IMG_9580How I love summer! I use the time to do something different from teaching. Since I have completed the preliminary draft of a novel and submitted it to the publisher, I’ve been thinking and planning for my next novel. I spent a week in Charleston, S.C. with my sisters for four days then myself for three days. Beautiful, inspiring, lots of ideas!

I write historical fiction where the characters roam and live in a factual historical world. I always use a venue that I have traveled by walking the streets, visiting the sites, and researching. I’ve discussed my library before when I was writing the first four books in Revolutionary Faith Series–35 sources. On my latest venture to Charleston, I added more sources. I will have to scour the pages, formulating a plot, developing characters, outlining a historical backdrop. I’m so excited about this process.

IMG_9749So in the month of July, I’ll read and highlight my new books from Charleston. But the first book I am reading is an old 1906 book that will not receive any highlighting because of its value. Charleston The Place and the People by Mrs. St. Julien Ravenel is a treasure, one found in my parents’ library. I’m sure there are quite a few interesting observations discussed by Mrs. Ravenel.

I bought my books from two wonderful shops in Charleston–Historic Shops of Charleston on Meeting Street and The Preservation Society Shop on King Street. Time spent in both shops is a thrill. One book I bought is South Carolina and the American Revolution: A Battlefield History by John. W. Gordon. I’ve read another of his books for research and thoroughly enjoyed it.

As I advance in my plot for the next book, I decided to add A Gallant Defense: The Siege of Charleston, 1780 by Carl P. Borick. I want to know what it was like living in a city under siege by the British.

Two historical figures have fascinated me as I’ve researched and written them into my novels. One is William Moultrie, an American General in Charleston. I added  Crescent Moon over Carolina: William Moultrie and American Liberty by C.L. Bragg.

One of my favorite characters that I have already used in my novels is Francis Marion (the Swamp Fox).  I found The Life of General Francis Marion by Brig. Gen. P. Horry and Parson M. L. Weems. I’m hoping for some interesting insight into this extraordinary man.

IMG_9744Research–I LOVE the process. I’m rubbing my hands together in excitement wondering which book I’ll read first.

Do you have a project that you really anticipate with joy? 

Delays or Cancellations–It’s okay!

IMG_8707Happy Summer! Since I am a teacher, I’m enjoying every moment, storing up energy for the school year that is only seven weeks away. I started my summer vacation with a sisters’ trip to Charleston, South Carolina. The four of us spent four days eating, laughing, crying, sharing, walking, movie watching, eating more, shopping–forming memories that can never be taken away.

 

After my sisters returned to their homes, I stayed  three extra days to research, read, walk the streets, and make new “research” friends. So relaxing and so productive.

Then, the inevitable day arrived when I turned in my car and proceeded to my gate at the airport for a 10:06 departure to Atlanta. Let me offer a caveat here–I was traveling alone, no husband, no group, no children. Alone. My perspective will be a bit ashew with those perimeters. Anyway, I have traveled enough with children, family, and students enough to have experienced a few set backs.

This day ended up being one that I will remember as an eventful travel situation. Storms in Atlanta brought the flight world to a standstill. The 10:06 departure turned to 11:15, then 12:15, then a canceled flight and no departure time. For me, I knew there was nothing I could do. This was a weather condition that did not fall under the fault of the airport, the airline, the pilot, or the attendants.

 

Besides having the passengers from the Charleston cancelled flights, the airport had redirected flights that could not land in Atlanta. This small airport was packed. Luckily, I love airports and travel, most aspects of the journey. I read and finished a great book, The Girl on Legare Street by Karen White.  And I had to buy another book, The Tinderbox by Beverly Lewis.

With eight hours in the airport, I had time to walk, snack, watch people, and read. I loved it especially since I knew I could do nothing about it. It was sad to see couples fight and children, tired children, act up. The attendants did their best to pacify the passengers.

IMG_9643Once I left Charleston at 6:00 p.m. for Atlanta, I still had that monstrosity of an airport to maneuver and a ticket to secure. The attendant was very proud that he found a seat for me on the 12:17 a.m. to Jackson.

All fine, right? The plane carried 300 very tired and frustrated people, especially the parents and children. I was determined to make it through with a smile on my fatigued face.

You probably have guessed what happened once in Jackson. Right you are. The luggage had not followed all of us since none of us had this flight as our original connection. Once in my car with no luggage, I drove to my sister’s house thirty minutes away and crawled into bed for five hours sleep.

IMG_9663Twenty-four hours late, I arrived home (without my bag) and praised God for a safe journey, one with a few delays and cancellations. No harsh words or annoyed facial expressions. This is part of traveling.

Do you have a delayed or canceled travel story? How did you handle it? 

Sister Trip to Charleston

Charleston 06 020Do you want to know a great blessing I have? Well, I have three younger sisters! We are the best of friends and love our time together. Yes, I’m the oldest, and I know that is the  best place to be! Haha! Any oldest siblings out there? I know all other positions think they are the best too. Anyway, the four of us like to choose a destination and meet there to relax, catch up, talk about everything–just exist together in the same place.

Charleston 06 022This year one sister suggested Charleston, South Carolina. Why? Because she had just finished Bring Me Near, my  Revolutionary Faith Book Three. “I want to see all those places in the books.” As well she should. Charleston holds her roots as much as mine. How could I refuse being a book tour guide to my very own sisters!

Charleston 06 042I plan on showing them the different houses featured in my books, including the Lestarjette house on Church Street. We’ll include a cemetery search behind St. Philip’s Church for Elizabeth Elliott’s parent’s tombstones. Also, on the tour are the college, the Exchange Building with the dungeon ,and most likely a house tour.

Charleston was voted the best Southern city in “Southern Living” recently. Of course, it is. And the food…we will eat and eat, soaking up the atmosphere. The city is very walkable, and we love exercise, especially since our house is in the historical district.

Charleston 06 086There is no way I will pass up a chance to research. I decided to stay an extra three days giving a few hours to research at the South Carolina Room in the Charleston County Public Library and the South Carolina Historical Society. A quick trip to Orangeburg will add an additional dimension to my research as that is where Louis and Elizabeth are buried.

I look forward to sharing tidbits about Charleston and my research. Since I’ve finished writing Draw Me to Your Side, I am anxious to start on As I Wait which involves another phase of the American Revolution.

Charleston 06 033Do you have a favorite city or destination to which you repeatedly return? Charleston is that for me.