Monday, 29 August 2011

Anthem for Doomed Youth

by Carola Dunn

From Anthem for Doomed Youth,

the 19th Daisy Dalrymple mystery,
set in England in the 1920s:

Sitting with him in the dining room while he ravenously disposed of a beef and horseradish sandwich, Daisy shared his Thermos flask of cocoa. She was dying to know what had kept him so late, but she refrained from asking. For once, her discretion was rewarded.

Alec sat back, nursing his mug of cocoa in both hands. "We were out at the site till it got too dark," he said. "The local man, the detective from Chelmsford, left as soon as he heard we'd been called in, and he took all but a couple of constables with him, including their spades and shovels. Not merely to Epping, but all the way to HQ in Chelmsford. I had to send to the Yard for some of our own people and equipment, and you know how happy that's going to make the Super."

Daisy had had her own clashes with Superintendent Crane. One never could tell what would set off an explosion, and Alec had not always been on her side. It was a subject better avoided.

Suddenly she realised the implications of the need for digging tools. "There were more than three bodies?" she asked, aghast.

"No, no! Or at least, we didn't find any more. DI Gant's men had only dug down far enough to be sure there was a third body. Thank heaven they weren't buried very deep."

"If they had been, they probably wouldn't have been found. All the same, it must have been quite a job to bury three victims! Do you think there was more than one murderer? Or perhaps he had an accomplice."

"It's much too soon for any theories. But the local medico says one—the one that was found first—has been there for no longer than a week, one for several months, and one for at least a year."


"It was rather ugh. The two later ones, anyway. Not much left of the first, poor beggar, what with foxes and badgers and—"

"Darling, must you?"

"You asked. They left most of the bones, luckily, or we might never have realised he was there. The murderer must have covered over their diggings each time he brought a new victim." He yawned. "Come on, time for bed. I'll have to be up early."

"You must be awfully tired."

"Not too tired," he said with a grin, and kissed her. "Chief inspectors don't have to do the actual digging."

"How lucky I married a chief inspector!"

UK cover

Large print cover

Sunday, 21 August 2011

'A Pig in the Roses' - new excerpt

In this new excerpt from my Ancient Greece mystery, the barber Kleitias finds that Melitta, the young courtesan who lives in the same building, has had an unwelcome visitor:


By the time he returned to the tenement in Kollytos in the afternoon, Kleitias was humming a familiar song under his breath. His last customer had, like himself, performed at the theatre on the slopes of the Akropolis, mostly in the chorus at comedies, and music they had both practised came readily to mind. Kleitias shifted his barbering equipment to the other hand and let himself in, still humming.

Above him the sound of velvet, seamless chattering came from Melitta’s room, her voice like a stream of small clouds driven by a summer wind. Now and again came the lower, more insistent sound of a man’s voice.

 Kleitias listened. ‘Not Aristarkhos’, he said to himself. ‘Younger, much younger. She’d better be careful. Aristarkhos is a jealous man.’ He reached for a piece of bread and dipped it into an oil jar. Munching, he sat in the doorway of his room, straining to listen. Now that he was in his middle years, or a little past them, this sort of curiosity was becoming a habit.

Melitta began to speak faster than ever, her tone becoming quieter but more urgent. The man’s voice became louder, and Kleitias could make out words: ‘Not before... What did I... Tell me, or I... ‘ Then Melitta, high, piercing: ‘I know nothing, nothing at all. I heard nothing. Take your hands off me, boy!’

 A scream followed, and a crash. Kleitias was on his feet and in the courtyard. ‘Melitta!’ From the street outside came a shout of pain and the sound of panicked limping.

 She came out and stared down at him, her eyes wide, her clothing dishevelled. From her tumble of hair a few small ornaments fell into the courtyard and Kleitias picked them up. Melitta clambered down the stairs and grabbed him with both arms like a small child being helped down from a tree.

 The grey-haired barber eased her arms free and looked at her like an uncle. ‘What was going on?’

‘I don’t know. I wish I did. I might have hit him harder.’ She forced a smile. ‘Don’t worry, Kleitias. Normally you’d pay to get this close, but today it’s free. For you at least. One shout from you and he was through the window.’

‘Who was it?’

She sniffed. ‘Polystratos, the young man from Aristarkhos’ party.’

‘That boy was asleep most of the evening.’

‘He must have been drinking unmixed from the wine jar, even before he came. Then he woke up with a sore head in the morning and started pestering me. I got rid of him, but he must have found out where I live. Sometimes they do. I’ve never had to hit one before, but at least it was a cheap pot. He’ll still be picking bits out of his hair.’

Kleitias handed her the hair ornaments. ‘Don’t forget these.’

Melitta took them and turned towards the stairs. ‘Tonight I shall have a headache, I think. Aristarkhos will have to sleep with his wife. It’ll be a change for him.’

All details of the book are here, on my blog:

Peter Alan Orchard

Sunday, 14 August 2011

THE SCARLET KIMONO (Historical early 17th century)

BLURB: The Scarlet Kimono is the story of Hannah, a young English girl in the 17th century who envies her brother’s adventurous life. She decides to stow away on his merchant ship and ends up in Japan, but once there, she is abducted by a warlord, Taro, to whom she’s instantly attracted. He, in his turn, is fascinated by her, but there’s both a clash of cultures and wills and this of course stops them from admitting the attraction. With Hannah’s brother desperate to find her and a jealous rival equally desperate to kill her, she faces the greatest adventure of her life. And Taro has to choose between love and honour …


Hannah was taken to a small room up on the third or fourth floor of the central building and there she was left alone. Sakura was ordered to follow one of the guards.

‘I’ll be fine,’ Hannah told her, doing her best to give the girl a reassuring smile. She wasn’t sure she succeeded because Sakura threw her a look of pity and stretched out her hands towards Hannah.

‘Oh, mistress, I wish I could stay with you.’

‘Come now, I have my orders.’ The guard pulled Sakura roughly away down the corridor and the door was slammed shut before Hannah could reassure the maid further.

Hannah paced the room for some considerable time, too nervous to relax. After what seemed like an eternity her legs gave way and she sank down onto the polished wooden floor. She was worn out, both physically and mentally, and she wanted to scream with frustration. Her captors had continued their refusal to reveal anything about her destination or why she had been abducted, and she’d spent endless hours fretting about her possible fate. Now she was finally here and yet again she was being left in ignorance. It was torture.

The shadows in the room lengthened. She had almost started to believe she’d been forgotten, when suddenly she found herself looking up at a man who had come into the room on silent feet. From her sitting position she couldn’t immediately see his face, but he looked big and powerful, his stance menacing. She shot to her feet and stared at him, struck dumb at first. Her eyes widened as she looked into a face she knew.

‘Lord Kuma!’ The shock of seeing him, of all people, reverberated through her and almost made her legs give way again. She closed her eyes, but when she opened them once more, he was still there. He wasn’t an illusion.

He inclined his head in greeting, but didn’t reply. Instead he stared at her as if he was reacquainting himself with her features. His very calmness and nonchalance infuriated her and her pent-up fear and frustration suddenly boiled over.

‘How dare you? Why have you brought me here?’ she demanded without preamble. ‘We’ve been travelling for ages and no one would tell me why. You can’t just abduct people at will like that. I’m under the protection of the Englishman you called Anjin-san, and he is high in favour with the Shogun, as you well know. You’ll regret this.’

She ran out of breath and glared at him, but he was still busy studying her. He moved slowly towards her, then circled her, looking her up and down. She wondered what game he was playing. Was he trying to intimidate her? Well, he’d catch cold at that.

‘Possibly,’ he conceded at last, presumably referring to her threat that Will Adams would avenge her somehow, but the prospect didn’t appear to worry him unduly.

Hannah willed herself not to swivel her head around to see what he was doing. Above all she mustn’t show fear. She gritted her teeth. I’ll show him that English women are not to be so easily cowed.

When he had completed his inspection he gave her a measuring stare. ‘Haven’t you been told that here no one speaks to me unless I have spoken to them first?’ he asked calmly.

She frowned, but relieved that he was talking to her and not just staring, she replied with spirit. ‘No, I don’t think so and I don’t even know where here is. Perhaps you would care to tell me? Or is it a secret?’

He smiled, showing the dimples on either side of his mouth which had so attracted her the first time she’d seen them. His face, so harsh a moment ago, seemed instantly more gentle. Hannah drew in a shuddering breath, hoping this signified some sort of turning point. Perhaps now they could clear up what was obviously a misunderstanding. Surely he hadn’t meant to abduct her?

‘Very well, I will forgive you this once since you are a gai-jin and not used to our ways,’ he said. ‘In Hirado I tolerated your ignorance since you had only just arrived, but this place is my home, Shiroi Castle, and here it’s a different matter. I am Kumashiro Taro, daimyo of this province,’ he announced in a grand tone, ‘And in this house my word is law, don’t ever forget that,’ he added sternly.

Buy links: The Scarlet Kimono was published by Choc Lit on 1st March, (ISBN 978-1-906931-29-2). It is available from For further details on where to purchase this book please see

Author Bio: I’m Christina Courtenay and I write historical romance. My debut novel Trade Winds (ISBN 978-1-906931-23-0) was published by Choc Lit in September 2010. It was shortlisted for the RNA’s Pure Passion Awards in the Historical Novel category. The Scarlet Kimono is my second novel (came out in March 2011) and I also write Regency novellas for D C Thomson’s My Weekly Pocket Novel series, published in Large Print by Dales Romance. I’m is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and on their committee, currently I’m their Vice Chairman, organiser of the RoNA Rose Award and libraries liaison. For more details see my website or

Thank you!


Sunday, 7 August 2011

GIFTS GONE ASTRAY, Regency romantic comedy

A gift is a wonderful surprise. Or maybe not.

At the Earl of Langley's family gathering, everyone receives a gift, including the servants. Tutor Stephen Fairfax expects a small token, but the present from family member Mrs. Anne Copley, the widow who has caught his eye, is a dream come true.

Until he opens it. What a gift! How did that demure lady acquire such a book? And she wants to "study" the positions in it with him? If he accepts her offer, tempting as it is, he could lose his job.

Anne has no idea why Mr. Fairfax is in such a flutter. Her present is a simple book of illustrations. The subject interests them both, and she would like nothing better than to examine the book—and Mr. Fairfax—more closely.

She glanced at the mantel clock. "Oh, look at the time! I must return to the drawing room. So much to do before the family party tonight. But, before I leave..." She swallowed. "We had some trouble with the gifts today. Yours went missing. I apologize—"

"But I received a gift. Someone left it outside my door."

"Thank the stars." She pressed her hand to her bosom.

Stephen's gaze followed her hand, and his throat dried.

"I worried your present was lost."

She worried about me. Capital! He tore his attention from her breasts and lifted his head. "I have not yet unwrapped it. A book, I take it?"

"Yes. The volume belonged to my husband. He was a scholar, and that book was one of his favorites. Mine, too. We spent many happy hours enjoying it." Another dazzling smile curved her lips. "I selected it with you in mind."

His pulse thumped. I have a chance. "You flatter me with your consideration."

"My pleasure." She flashed another of her heart-stopping smiles. "As much as I long to, I will not ruin the surprise by telling you what the book is." She smoothed her face into a blank stare, but her glorious chocolate eyes twinkled.

So, she wanted to play games. He gave an inward smirk. He would love to play games of a different sort. But he would settle for a guessing game. For now.

Buy Link:

5 Stars from Lindsay Townsend (To Touch the Knight):
"Gifts Gone Astray by Linda Banche is a delightful romantic comedy of misunderstandings, ghastly relations (old and young) a sinister suitor and two very different books sent as gifts to the 'wrong' people. "
Full Review here.

Author Bio:

Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!

I'm Linda Banche, and I write witty, sweet/sensual Regency romances with nary a rake or royal in sight. Most contain humor, some fantasy, and occasionally a little paranormal. But comedy is my love, and I've created my own wacky blend of humor and Regency with stories that can elicit reactions from a gentle smile to a belly laugh.

I live in New England and like aerobics and ducks.

So, laugh along with me on a voyage back to the Regency era. Me and my ducks. Quack.

I have four Regency novellas now available from The Wild Rose Press. LADY OF THE STARS (time travel, finalist in Science Fiction Romance in the 2010 EPIC eBook Contest), PUMPKINNAPPER (finalist in the 2011 EPIC Contest in the Historical Romance category. I'm two for two now. I've entered the EPIC contest twice, and I've finaled twice.), MISTLETOE EVERYWHERE (Christmas), and my latest, GIFTS GONE ASTRAY. The Wild Rose Press has just contracted my latest novella, AN INHERITANCE FOR THE BIRDS, for their Love Letters series.

Thank you all,
Linda Banche
Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!