Are you ready for the cover reveal? I’m so excited! I’ve waited a long time to release the first in my Gardens in Time novels. Labor of Love has been a labor of love, straight from my heart. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did writing it. For this series I chose four gardens in four different eras and countries with unique characters and plots. Labor of Love will release in February 2022. You have an opportunity to preorder your eBook copy and free short story from the publisher with this link: http://www.celebratelitpublishing.com/posts/book/labor-of-love/
Once again Roseanna White has designed a beautiful cover. Celebrate Lit Publishing has made this journey a joy! I cannot wait to hold my copy. February seems so far away…
Here is the backcover copy about the book:
Something sinister lurks in Pitti Palace.
Despite having spent eight years as companion to her cousins, Ana Geovani still questions her role and place in the Medici household. This uncertainty compounds and alarms as her cousin’s marriage approaches and a marriage is arranged for Ana.
With no say in her own future, fear and despair dulls even the splendor of the gardens she holds so dear.
As the newest under gardener at the palace, Marco Rossi should have everything he’s dreamed of–beautiful gardens to tend and master architects and gardeners to learn from. Yet a secret mission threatens his peace of mind, his position, and even the love of Ana. Although God is always with him, reminding him of a bigger plan, Marco feels the weight of the consequences he will face if he challenges a Medici member.
The desires of men and women, both royal and common, create costly dilemmas and potential disasters of hearts and souls. What will it take for Marco and Ana to prevail against everything driving them apart?
Reserve your copy today and stay connected for future updates! Leave your comments about the cover and the plot!
Amid the violent last days of the glittering Russian court, a Russian princess on the run finds her heart where she least expects it.
1917, Petrograd. Fleeing the murderous flames of the Russian Revolution, princess Svetlana Dalsky hopes to find safety in Paris with her mother and sister. But the city is buckling under the weight of the Great War, and the Bolsheviks will not rest until they have erased every Russian aristocrat from memory.
Born the second son of a duke, the only title Wynn MacCallan cares for is that of surgeon. Putting his talents with a scalpel to good use in the hospitals in Paris, Wynn pushes the boundaries of medical science to give his patients the best care possible. While treating Svetlana for a minor injury, he is pulled into a world of decaying imperial glitter and underground Russian clubs where drink, culture, and questionable dealings collide on bubbles of vodka.
Out of money and options, Svetlana is forced into a marriage of convenience with Wynn, who will protect her and pay off her debts. It’s the right thing for a good man to do, but Wynn can’t help hoping the marriage will turn into one of true affection. As the Bolsheviks chase them to different corners of the earth, Wynn and Svetlana begin to see they will never be able to outrun the love they have for one another.
I have always loved Russian history ever since I took a Russian history course in college. I consumed fiction and non-fiction on the subject. The Ice Sway has taken me back to the drama of the 1900s when the nation of darkness and ice imploded. The author’s portrayal of her heroine as a stoic, icy princess captures the country’s hold on the world. Only in the meeting and melding with other fragile lives does the true heart of the Russian commence to use her powers of strength for good.
Trust is an element in a relationship that holds great weight. If treated lightly, harm hangs around every turn. If treated without forgiveness, relationships can be severed. The balance is a must. Add a war, strict boundaries, different languages and cultures, cold climates, volatile times. Trust gets swallowed up as decisions are made. What is truth in the worst circumstances?
About the Author
With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages Award and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle. Learn more at www.jnellciesielski.com.
More from J’nell
When we think of the Great War we often only think about events happening right on the battlefield of France, Belgium, and Germany. It was a time of great upheaval for so many people and countries, none more so than Russia. It was during the Great War that the Bolsheviks rose up against the monarchy, assassinated the tsar and his family, and plunged Russia into civil war. The country was in such chaos that they pulled out of the war to deal with their own revolution. The Russian Revolution was the result of centuries of oppression and imperialism that finally boiled over. As the Bolsheviks seized power, nobles and anyone associated or favorable to the monarchy were stripped of their privileges and homes, many killed, and still thousands of others fled in fear of their lives where they became the great wave of White emigres.
The stories of the ill-fated Anastasia and the evil Rasputin are legendary, but it wasn’t until recently when I watched a Russian miniseries called Road to Calvary that I became fascinated with the nobles and their struggle and from all that an idea sparked that would become my upcoming release, The Ice Swan. It’s about a Russian princess fleeing the Revolution to Paris in 1917 where she meets a handsome surgeon who is breaking new grounds in cardiology. We see the plight of the White emigres who have taken refuge in Paris and founded their own little Russia in the heart of the city, the exhausted City of Light after four years of war, the overflowing hospitals, and highly controversial advancements in surgery. Plus, a romance to prove that true love can overcome any difference and who doesn’t need a little more love these days?
It’s that time again–time for my monthly giveaway. Please comment on my blog for your chance to win one fo the two books this month.
I’m reading Kara Swanson’s second book in the series, Shadow, and decided I had to read the first one, Dust, so I bought two copies. Amazon has this posted about Dust:
The truth about Neverland is far more dangerous than a fairy tale…
Claire Kenton believes the world is too dark for magic to be real—since her twin brother was stolen away as a child. Now Claire’s desperate search points to London…and a boy who shouldn’t exist.
Peter Pan is having a beastly time getting back to Neverland. Grounded in London and hunted by his own Lost Boys, Peter searches for the last hope of restoring his crumbling island: a lass with magic in her veins.
The girl who fears her own destiny is on a collision course with the boy who never wanted to grow up. The truth behind this fairy tale is about to unravel everything Claire thought she knew about Peter Pan—and herself.
Draw Me to Your Side, Book Four in my Revolutionary Faith Series is historical fiction:
Warships in the harbor explode with battle cries for freedom in the heartsof Charles Town’s patriots.
Charles Town, South Carolina, 1775—With the British warships threatening his family and livelihood, Louis Lestarjette commits to aid the fiery Patriots like Francis Marion, Christopher Gadsden, and Silas Deane with secret correspondences in code and in French. With an expanding family, Louis values their lives and safety over his. Not convinced that the colonies can succeed in separation from Britain, he abides by his word—available with funds, his life, and his possible absence from Elizabeth, an unpleasant sacrifice.
As Elizabeth faces the birth of her second child, she wonders at the wisdom of bringing new life into this war zone. While cannons are aimed at the city and she’s confined to her home, she watches other women continue in their secret mission. Knowing her activity can eventually begin again, she considers where and how her little family can survive in the turbulence of pending independence. Louis’ impending volatile role leave her questioning the possibility of being in a war alone. To survive she must draw to God’s side as all else is changing.
Comment for your chance to win: What is the last fairy tale retold or historical fiction that you read?
It’s 1777 and there are battles everywhere. Men from Charles Town are deployed to different parts of the colonies—some join the Swamp Fox, others go north to help General Washington, and some stay close to home guarding the town and their loved ones. Wait for Me centers on the years 1777-1782. It is a very difficult thing to be in a battle facing weapons and uncertain survival.
Yet, when the British choose your town to siege and occupy, survival hits home when fear wraps around scarcity of food, disease, wounded soldiers, dwindling provisions, fire, and the British at every turn voicing insults and accusations.
With the British in charge, the rebel citizens are citizens on parole. “Prisoners able to roam the city, even go to work, but not allowed to meet together to promote their beliefs. Their property should be left unharmed. They could not travel from the city. And Louis knew they would be watched as enemies with the overlord waiting to pounce at any semblance of disloyalty to the terms of surrender.”
How would you have managed as a citizen on parole? Perhaps found a way to meet anyway? Help the wounded anyway? Plan anyway? And pray always.
Rising opera star, Juliana Chamberlain, still has nightmares of the night she witnessed the assassination of the President of the United States from her spot on stage at Ford Theater. Recruited by The Pinkerton Detective Agency, Juliana was instrumental in bringing those responsible to justice.
Now, two years later, the Pinkertons ask her once again to join forces in exposing a corrupt political organization terrorizing her home in Texas.
Texas Ranger, Cade Matlock, has a job to do. He needs no help from a meddlesome diva with big ideas. However, he is a man of his word. He’s committed to partner with the lovely songstress to smoke out the mastermind of a dangerous clan who has proven he will stop at nothing to satisfy his thirst for vengeance.
Cade and Juliana soon discover their greatest strength is in working together until shadows of the past threaten to destroy their future.
Texas Ranger, Pinkerton, undercover agents, and an opera singer. What a combination! Adding the Reconstruction gives rise to a lively tale. I had forgotten what a volatile time it was following the Civil War. Even though not “at war,” the fighting, uncertainty, and hatred remained. And Texas, as the great state’s reputation of independence grew, had quite a few interesting quirks involving trust and support of the US government.
Amid the drama of the uncovering of an evil ring of malicious would-be rulers, the author unfolds a layer of history often unnoticed or unreported. The same happened after the American and French revolutions. What now? After so much death and destruction, how do citizens recapture a lifestyle of peace and prosperity? Each major war has a list of ongoing causalities as well as ones wanting to continue the fight or create new divisive sects. Bravo to the author for weaving a history lesson into the novel.
About the Author
Lori Bates Wright is an award winning author with a love for history.
Raised in New Mexico, Lori now lives in Texas with her husband of 38 years. She has two grown kids and four adorable grand boys (who leap tall buildings in a single bound!) When she’s not writing, she’s heading up small group ministries with her husband. She enjoys speaking and interacting with women of all ages.
More from Lori
Growing up, my family loved to laugh.
Some of my favorite childhood memories are centered around my grandmother’s dining room table listening in while my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles told amazing stories. Sometimes I laughed until I’d lose my breath. Sometimes I sat quietly, taking in the bravery and perseverance shown by those who’d gone before me.
History has been a passion ever since. Couple that with an insatiable love for story and there you have the heart of what inspires me to write.
So, when it came time to brain-storm for this brand new series, I decided to take a known historical event and think about it from every angle. Beyond the recognized players, to the “what if” characters that might have played a role. And, ultimately, how such an event would have changed the course of their lives.
Thus, a star was born.
In THE SONGSTRESS, Juliana Chamberlain witnessed the assassination from her place on the stage. Because I love a little mystery and intrigue, I decided that the leading detective agency of the day would have enlisted her help in identifying the accomplices. Allen Pinkerton had been known to hire a lady detective or two, so she would be trained by the best. Her investigative skills proved helpful in bringing a quick resolution to the case.
Fast forward four years and she’s still haunted by what she saw that night. When Pinkerton again approaches her about a case involving her family in Texas, she accepts.
Being from Texas, I was so happy she did. I’ve wanted to write a story based in the Lone Star State for quite awhile. I loved visiting Georgia and the shores of England in my last series, but I have to say it was good to bring this one home. With all the rugged charm of the post-Civil War era, this book has a little more local flavor than my last three. Al-in-all, I believe my readers are in for a treat. A new cast of fun, quirky characters as we revisit a significant time in our nation.
So, here’s to new beginnings! Or as we say in Texas, “Hang on, y’all are in for a wild ride!”
Pricilla Middleton only attended the Lemoore house party to keep her friend out of trouble. Now, her only chance to keep from becoming a gossip column headline is to sneak aboard her brother’s ship and pretend she’d been visiting him instead of taking part in the debacle. Before she can speak to her brother, the ship sets sail, and the man in charge is not at all who she expects.
Captain Tobias Prescott, son of an infamous war hero, has been assigned on a critical mission to deploy warships in St. Kitts for battle in New Orleans. Unfortunately, his orders require him to assume command of a friend’s ship, and he must weigh anchor the instant the former captain is escorted down the gangplank. When they reach open waters, the last thing he expects is to find a woman hiding in the captain’s cabin, yet his mission is too urgent to return her to England.
The Middleton name has always brought Tobias trouble, and Pricilla is no exception. As the waters clear and the temperature warms, the danger escalates too. Yet Tobias discovers the intuitive and strong woman who struggles to hide her anxiety is nothing like her disloyal brother. He may lose the opportunity to help his country, but perhaps he can still save the woman who’s rescued his heart.
Lorri Dudley is a new-to-me author. Although The Captain’s Quest is book 4 in the Leeward Islands series, it works perfectly as a stand alone novel. After finishing the novel, I have put the other three on my Amazon list. From the mischievous shenanigans on the very first pages, the reader becomes a part of an unrehearsed journey—a stowaway, deserted island, a clever “monkey,” and fermented peaches, and turning lives upside down while tangling with a spy ring—but for the good or the bad?
Recently, I’ve looked back on decisions, pivotal points, that directed my life. I can pinpoint the journey’s rise and decline by who made the decision—God or me? Why at my “age” do I still want to captain my life? I would enjoy the journey more if I let a seasoned captain make those life changes. Even with my faux pas there is forgiveness and redirection. At least there are lessons to be learned on the wayward courses. But from my experience, the best journey is with God in control.
About the Author
Lorri Dudley has been a finalist in numerous writing contests and has a master’s degree in Psychology. She lives in Ashland, Massachusetts with her husband and three teenage sons, where writing romance allows her an escape from her testosterone filled household. Find her online at www.lorridudley.com.
More from Lorri
Priscilla Middleton’s character begged for her story to be told. The Captain’s Quest is the fourth book in the Leeward Island series. While it can read as a stand-alone, the heroine, Priscilla, had a brief guest appearance at the beginning of book two, The Merchant’s Yield, as Lottie’s closest friend. With Lottie now living on the isle of St. Kitts, that left Priscilla to navigate the London season all on her own. I imagined what mischief a young woman would find whose parents allowed her too much freedom, especially with her friend, the voice of reason, across the Atlantic.
When my close friend moved to Michigan, the loss of her physical presence left me feeling disoriented, lost, and out of place, even in familiar surroundings. There was loneliness, a desperate need to replace what was missing, and fears about being forgotten. In Lottie’s absence, Priscilla clings to an unhealthy friendship, landing herself in a precarious situation, with no other option but to hide aboard her brother’s ship to save her reputation and that of her family.
The biggest issue with running from problems is that we can’t run from ourselves. Priscilla avoids one catastrophe only to walk right into another as Captain Tobias Prescott takes command of the ship. She blames the brooding captain for her predicament only to realize she’s battling the wrong enemy. The more Priscilla tries to hide from the problems she must face within herself, the further she drifts from everyone she knows and the chance to be fully loved.
Although Priscilla’s story was drafted pre-pandemic, her struggles are similar to those that surfaced during the lockdowns. Anxiety, loneliness, isolation, fear, and feelings of being disregarded mounted as the pandemic spread. Vacations, Thanksgivings, and Christmases were canceled. Families couldn’t visit or see each other—the feeling of being forgotten sliced open raw wounds.
Cory Ashbury’s song Reckless Love was popular as I plotted The Captain’s Quest, and the lyrics from the book of Matthew of how God will leave the ninety-nine to chase after the one lost sheep developed Priscilla’s story. Through its comical mishaps, dramatic twists, and struggles to prevail, The Captain’s Quest is a reminder of the heights, depths, and lengths that our great God will go to show His passionate love for us.
It’s the end of May, and you can tell summer is coming in Southern California. The days are warm, which means it is very nice reading weather. As a mom of three, summer usually means I have more time for reading, and my TBR pile is ready for me to go! What about you?
In this issue, we have several chances for you to win books for your TBR pile plus get updates and personal insights from authors only found here. You don’t want to miss it!
Here is wishing you a wonderful summer!
Until next time, readers.
There are many different divisions to the magazine. Visit all of them for interesting articles and giveaways.
**Stop by and read our #BecauseFiction May Historical Edition with featured authors such as Caryl McAdoo, Marguerite Martin Gray, and Liz Tolsma!
Welcome to the April Edition of the BecauseFiction Magazine. Spring is here in Southern California. The weather has been on the warm side, and the flowers are blooming all over! Today we saw 22 baby ducks down at the lake. They were so cute!With the weather turning nice, it is fun to sit out on the balcony and read with a cup of coffee or a Diet Coke – I am game for either. I am on the hunt to build up my TBR list to read, read, read.To help you build your TBR list, we have some great reads for you this month! Be sure to check out each author’s update, enter the giveaways, and grab your free book.
Until next month, may God bless you richly! Sandy Barela
American socialite Lily Durham is known for enjoying one moment to the next, with little regard for the consequences of her actions. But just as she is banished overseas to England as a “cure” for her frivolous ways, the Great War breaks out and wreaks havoc. She joins her cousin in nursing the wounded at a convalescent home deep in the wilds of Scotland at a crumbling castle where its laird is less than welcoming.
Alec MacGregor has given his entire life to preserving his home of Kinclavoch Castle, but mounting debts force him to sell off his family history bit by bit. Labeled a coward for not joining his countrymen in the trenches due to an old injury, he opens his home to the Tommies to make recompense while he keeps to the shadows. But his preference for the shadows is shattered when a new American nurse comes streaming into the castle on a burst of light.
Lily and Alec are thrown together when a series of mysterious events threatens to ruin the future of Kinclavoch. Can they put aside their differences to find the culprit before it’s too late, or will their greatest distraction be falling in love?
How romantic and mystical to live in an old Scottish castle, unless it is during WWI, used as a convalescent home for soldiers, with the walls and ceiling crumbling down. Add in an unwanted American girl serving as a nurse and a grumbling laird. The air of privilege and prosperity meet, leaving a vague potential for romance.
Another aspect of war is the healing and housing of the wounded, safely away from the mayhem of the war zone. Some of the heroes yearn to return to war, others dread the prospect, and still others want to die. I’m always impressed with the women in any war who exit their homes and leave family to tend to the tasks out in the world in the years of war.
In Beauty Among Ruins, a wealthy American heiress in Scotland in 1916 before America enters the war is not accepted with open arms. Proof is needed to secure that respect. The heroine faces the mysterious threats to the castle, herself, and the laird with bravery. But is it enough?
I wonder what my role would have been close to a country at war. This novel reveals many difficult sides of war. The author takes the reader on a journey through the trials of owning and managing a dilapidated castle during wartime as a home for the wounded of body and heart. I was not disappointed in participating in this aspect of war.
About the Author
With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Winner of the INSPY and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle. Learn more at www.jnellciesielski.com.
More from J’Nell
Inspiration for Beauty Among Ruins
Once again, blame it on Downton Abbey. This time on Lady Rose. She was impulsive, spoiled, a free spirit, yet with a good heart. I knew I wanted to take on the challenge of writing a heroine like her. A character who starts off one way and by the end of the book has completely charmed you over. So I started writing and everything was going great until … it wasn’t. The plot just stopped on me. No matter how hard I tried the story refused to reveal itself to me which is incredibly frustrating for someone who doesn’t like to give up once they’ve started something. But I had to. In the end, I had to put the story, affectionately titled Love on the Limp, away for several months while I wrote The Socialite. Then one day the story clicked. It was meant to be a WWI telling on the classic Beauty and the Beast story. Everything fell into place and the story and characters burst onto the page in glorious technicolor.
Lily and Alec took me by surprised with how much I fell in love with them. Bubbly Lily and brooding Alec. Never had two more opposites been so perfect for one another (at least in my writing experience). They had so many obstacles to overcome, many of them self-imposed, that I often found myself in tears over their heartaches, but golly gumdrops when they came together, boy o boy were there fireworks!
You may have also noticed that the story is set in Scotland because I happen to believe that every good story is set there. I had the privilege of staring at pictures of this breathtaking landscape for months so I could imagine the characters strolling among the heather and watching the river twist through the green moors. To me, nothing rivals the awe inspiring beauty of a certain place, and hopefully readers will feel that through these pages.