Friday, August 27, 2021

The Merchant and the Rogue by Sarah M. Eden ~ Blog Tour & Excerpt

Hello, my friends! Happy Friday! Today, I have a lovely excerpt for you to read from Sarah M. Eden's new book, The Merchant and the Rogue! This is the third book of The Dread Penny Society.

The Merchant and the Rogue
by Sarah M. Eden

Series: Book 3 in The Dread Penny Society
Genre: Historical Romance, Historical Mystery/Suspense, Inspirational Fiction
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Pages: 368


London, 1865 

Vera Sorokina loves reading the Penny Dreadfuls and immersing herself in tales of adventure, mystery, and romance. Her own days are filled with the often-mundane work of running the book and print shop she owns with her father. The shop offers her the freedom and income to employ and protect the poverty-stricken Londoners she's come to care about, and it gives her father something to do other than long for their hometown of St. Petersburg. She is grateful for the stability in their lives, but she often feels lonely. 

Brogan Donnelly was born and raised in Ireland, but has lived in London for several years, where he's built a career as a Penny Dreadful writer. He has dedicated himself to the plight of the poor with the help of his sister. His membership in the secretive Dread Penny Society allows him to feel he isn't entirely wasting his life, yet he feels dissatisfied. With no one to share his life with but his sister, he fears London will never truly feel like home. 

Brogan and Vera's paths cross, and the attraction is both immediate and ill-advised. Vera knows from experience that writers are never to be trusted, and Brogan has reason to suspect not everything at her print shop is aboveboard. When the growing criminal enterprise run by the elusive and violent Mastiff begins targeting their area of London, Brogan and Vera must work together to protect the community they've both grown to love. But that means they'll need to learn to trust each other with dangerous secrets that have followed both of them from their home countries.


     Papa’s voice echoed from beyond the back door, raised in a way that told her he was talking as he approached rather than being present already. “Have you read the paper, kotik?”

     Vera lowered her voice and said to Ganor, “Another product of writers he’s willing to endure.”

     Ganor nodded solemnly.

     “I haven’t, papishka,” she called back just as Papa stepped through the doorway.

     He didn’t come all the way inside. She’d wager his distance was part of his ongoing protest over the presence of the penny serials. Vera rose from her seat and crossed to him. Ganor, thank the heavens, set himself to tasks on the other side of the shop. Papa had accepted his presence there, but he’d not seemed overly pleased at the need for hiring someone.

     “It’s about von Brunnow.” Papa pointed to an article on the page he’d folded back.

     “And what does the paper have to say about Russia’s ambassador?”

     “Rumors of a falling out with Lord Chelmsford.” More curiosity sat in Papa’s tone than alarm.

     “Odd, that. They’ve something of a friendship between them.” She took the paper from him.

     Papa scratched at his beard. “I’ve heard whispers he’s been acting strange.”

     “Which one? The baron or the ambassador?”

     “The ambassador,” Papa said as he pushed back his spectacles.

     Vera scanned the article, looking for indications of oddity in Russia’s representative. “Where’ve you heard these whispers? You haven’t much contact with the Russian community here.”

     He stiffened. He always did when talk turned to his countrymen. She ought to have known better after so many years. But his bringing up the ambassador had lulled her into thinking the topic wasn’t as forbidden as it usually was.

     “I suppose von Brunnow will sort things with the baron soon enough,” Vera said, hoping to end the discussion before Papa worked himself into a huff. “We’ve done a vast deal of business today. One of our most profitable.”

     “We’ll have more print business soon enough, you’ll see. Then you can get rid of all those—” He looked over at the display of penny dreadfuls. His nose scrunched as if he’d come across a putrid smell, sending his spectacles slipping once more.

     “They’re only stories, Papa. None of the people who write them are here, and they never will be. We’re a small shop in Soho. We’re too far below any of their notice.”

     But Papa was shaking his head in that mechanical way he did when dismissing an argument even as it was being made. Little Olly hopped into the shop in the very next moment, offering a much needed distraction. “What’ve you got new today, Miss Vera?”

     “Piles and piles, Olly.” She stepped away from her papa, knowing he’d disappear downstairs. “You remember Mr. O’Donnell.” She directed the boy’s attention that way.

     “You bought us a story last time.” Olly popped Ganor one of his cheeky salutes.

     “What’d you think of it, lad?” Ganor asked, leaning a shoulder against the doorframe, his thick arms folded across his chest, light falling on the thick scars on his knuckles.

     “It’ll be frightening, I know it. All them dead animals.” 

     Ganor nodded. “I suspect it will be.”

     Olly dropped his voice to a whisper. “Who do you think’s taking the missing animals?”

     Ganor matched the boy’s volume. “If I knew, I’d not tell you, lad. ’Twould ruin the story.”

     That brought Olly’s eyes to Vera. “Have you sorted it?”

     She shook her head. “It’s a mystery to me.”

     Raised voices echoed outside, pulling all their attention. Ganor stood nearest the door and was the first outside. Vera was there an instant later. A bit of commotion had broken out in front of the tobacconist’s shop a few doors down. Peter, the costermonger who worked on the street, stood in his usual spot just outside the print shop.

     “Any notion what’s happened?” Vera asked.

     “I heard shouts of ‘thief.’ I’m guessing Mr. Bianchi’s been robbed,” Peter said.

     “A common thing on this street?” Ganor asked.

     She shook her head. “We’ve crime, sure enough. But thievery ain’t much heard of.” Vera hooked a thumb in the direction of her own shop. “Keep an eye on the place, will you? I mean to go learn what’s happened.”

     “Surely will, Miss Vera,” Ganor said.

     No objection to being asked to remain behind while a woman investigated the danger. There weren’t many men who’d accept that arrangement, especially those with a brawler’s history.

     Vera dipped her head to a few neighbors she passed, all of whom were watching the proceedings outside the tobacco shop with worried curiosity. She reached the doorway in a matter of moments and eyed the scene.

     The shop was a bit broken up. Mr. Bianchi sat atop an overturned crate with a wet rag pressed to one eye. Mr. Overton, the barber from across the way, stood beside him, a reassuring hand on his shoulder.

     “What happened?” Vera asked.

     “A couple of roughs demanded money of him, then tossed the place around.”

     “Because he wouldn’t pay?”

     Mr. Bianchi shook his head.

     Mr. Overton answered. “He gave them what they demanded. They tore the place to bits anyway.”

     The damage didn’t look irreparable, but it was a full mess. “I’ve extra hands at my shop today. I’d bet Ganor’d be willing to come help you set the place to rights.”

     “I’ll not take away your employee,” Mr. Bianchi said. “You’d be paying him and getting nothing for it.”

     “Not a bit of truth to that. Having your shop running as it ought and showing anyone wishing to follow these roughs’ example that they’ll not manage much are both well worth doing.”

Whether Mr. Bianchi and Mr. Overton believed her, she couldn’t say, but she kept her word. Ganor was more than willing to head to the tobacconist’s and clean and sort things, though he too expressed concern about being paid by her for work he wasn’t doing for her. While she was grateful so many people were concerned for her, she was a little frustrated that no one seemed to take her at her word.

     She was still considered new in the area, and she was younger than a lot of the local merchants. Papa’s gruff standoffishness likely didn’t help. And, though she sounded London, she was told often enough that she looked Russian that she wondered if that might also be considered by some people a mark against her. There were plenty enough immigrants in this corner of London; it ought not to have been a point of trouble.

     In time, she would find a way of forging connections here. She would make a home of this bit of Soho.

     She would stop being so painfully alone.

Chapter 4, Pages 50-55

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FTC Disclaimer: Link to Amazon US. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks!

About the Author

Sarah M. Eden is the author of critically acclaimed and award-
winning Proper Romance series novels including The Lady and the Highwayman and Ashes on the Moor. Combining her passion for history and an affinity for love stories, Sarah crafts smart, witty characters and heartfelt romances. She happily spends hours perusing the reference shelves of her local library and dreams of one day traveling to all the places she reads about.

Connect with Sarah M. Eden

Tour Schedule

Aug 16 Among the Reads (Review)
Aug 16 Austenprose (Review)
Aug 16 Reading is My Superpower (Review) 
Aug 17 Literary Time Out (Review)
Aug 17 Getting Your Read On (Review)
Aug 17 Heidi Reads (Excerpt) 
Aug 17 Laura's Reviews (Review)
Aug 18 Our Book Confessions (Review)
Aug 18 Bookworm Lisa (Review)
Aug 19 Fire & Ice (Review)
Aug 19 From Pemberley to Milton (Excerpt)
Aug 20 My Bookish Bliss (Review)
Aug 20 Gwendalyn's Books (Review)
Aug 20 Storeybook Reviews (Excerpt)
Aug 21 Bookish Rantings (Review)
Aug 21 The Calico Critic (Review)
Aug 22 Books, Teacups, & Reviews (Excerpt)
Aug 23 My Jane Austen Book Club (Spotlight)
Aug 23 Reading with Emily (Review)
Aug 24 Wishful Endings (Review)
Aug 24 Relz Reviewz (Review)
Aug 24 The Book Diva Reads (Excerpt)
Aug 25 Bookfoolery (Review)
Aug 25 Greenish Bookshelf (Review)
Aug 26 A Bookish Way of Life (Review)
Aug 26 Nurse Bookie (Review)
Aug 27 So Little Time… (Excerpt)
Aug 27 Probably at the Library (Review)
Aug 27 Bringing Up Books (Review)
Aug 28 Books and Socks Rock (Review)
Aug 28 The Bibliophile Files (Review)
Aug 29 A Darn Good Read (Review)

Congratulations to Sarah on the release of The Merchant and the Rogue!

Many thanks to Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose for organizing and having me on this blog tour! 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Misunderstandings & Ardent Love by Susan Adriani ~ Blog Tour ~ Author Interview & Giveaway!

Hello, my friends! I'm delighted to have Susan Adriani visiting with us! She has a new book out - Misunderstandings & Ardent Love! Woohoo! I had the pleasure to ask Susan a few questions about her new book. I hope you enjoy the interview and check out her new book! Plus, there's a chance to win an eCopy! Details are at the bottom of the page. 

Hello, Susan! I’m so excited to have you here today! Congratulations on your new book, Misunderstandings and Ardent Love! Your book Affinity and Affection (republished as The Truth About Mr. Darcy) was one of the first variations I read—way back before there were eBooks. Gosh, I remember waiting for what seemed like forever before someone would publish a paperback! Lol! How was this experience different from your first?

Hi Candy! It’s a pleasure to be your guest today—thank you so much for having me!

Wow, Affinity and Affection was written a long time ago! That was such an exciting time for me. I was brand new to writing, and the idea of sharing something I had written was not only scary, but daunting. I had found an online community I enjoyed, and, after much deliberation, I decided to take the plunge and post. I had a beta reader, and my editor was my best friend. I slapped together a cover, uploaded everything to Amazon, and hit the ‘publish’ button before I could change my mind.

My experience this time around was very different. And by different, I mean everything moved with the ease of a well-oiled machine. I had a great team of editors at Quills & Quartos to guide me through every step. Jan and Kristi were not bashful about telling me what I should cut and what I should expand upon and why. And they were wonderful listeners as well. If I felt strongly about something (be it a significant scene or some minuscule detail), they were supportive, encouraging, and always open to compromise. Misunderstandings & Ardent Love would not have become what it is without them, and I am incredibly grateful!

Since then, you’ve written a couple of novellas and some short stories. Misunderstandings and Ardent Love, a novel, is 474 pages (Kindle edition). Nice! What was your inspiration for writing M&AL?

To be perfectly honest, I love the characters in Pride and Prejudice, I love the regency period, and I love to tell stories. What drove me to write this story was not so much the storyline (there’s nothing unusual or overly dramatic about it), but the dialog and relationships between the characters and what I could do with those elements. I am not a fan of over-the-top angst. Since we’ve all had enough angst with the pandemic, I wanted to keep everything lighter and focus, not only on the relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth, but also on the relationships they have with their family members and friends. 

What is your favorite thing about M&AL?

I think my favorite thing about M&AL is that I finally finished it, lol! It was years in the making, and at one point abandoned completely. It feels great to be writing again.

Ooh, reading the book blurb, I like that Jane isn’t so forgiving of Mr. Darcy’s interference into her happiness. What insights can you give us about that?

While I don’t want to give away too much, I can tell you that Jane is hurt. She has begun to see Elizabeth’s melancholy and credits that to Darcy and his letter. She has no idea whether he means to attend her wedding and has also begun to realize he may have played a part in keeping Bingley from returning to Hertfordshire last winter. To put it bluntly, after years of being compliant, reliable, and forgiving, Jane’s patience has worn thin.

A question I like to ask is, when did you discover Jane Austen, and what is your favorite story of hers?

I was late finding Jane Austen, but I was first introduced to her through my best friend. I was in my early 20s, and she sat me down and said, “You have to watch this,” and popped a VHS recording of Andrew Davies’s 1995 BBC version of P&P into her VCR. We watched all six episodes that day, back-to-back and I bought the book the next day. The rest is history.

What inspired you to start writing Jane Austen Fan Fiction?

I love Jane Austen’s stories. I had read them all multiple times over the years, but Pride and Prejudice was the one I kept coming back to over and over again. I think what it boils down to is that Mr Darcy fascinates me. While we get to know him to some extent throughout the book, there is much about him that is still left to our imagination. Elizabeth Bennet (who I absolutely adore) misreads him again and again. Our own opinion of his character is based on hers, but we know there is more to him than meets the eye. I take immense delight in constructing my own interpretations of him (and many other beloved P&P characters) through my writing. It’s challenging and I love doing it. I love having a guideline to follow, be it a timeline, or social etiquette. I don’t always get it right, but when readers think I do there is no better feeling.

I also like to hear about your writing style. Do you map out your stories, or are you more of a seat-of-your-pants kind of writer?

Ha! I suppose that depends on what I’m writing at the time. I’ve written short stories where I’ve mostly just followed where the characters led me, and longer stories where I’ve mapped most everything out beforehand. With M&AL, it was a little of both. While I generally have an idea of where I’m going and how I want to get there, sometimes chapters and scenes and characters run astray and I end up with a very different outcome than the one I had thought to write. That’s not always a bad thing, by the way! I tend to embrace that whenever it happens…after mumbling a few choice words and shaking my head, of course! 

Lastly, are you working on anything now?

I am! But you will have to wait until July 2022 to read it. My lips are zipped.

On that note, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today, Candy. It’s been wonderful being here with you and your readers!

Absolutely! I loved having you here! Thank you for answering my questions. 

Misunderstandings & Ardent Love
by Susan Adriani

“I have never been able to forget you...I am yours, in body and soul, for as long as I am able to draw breath.” 

AFTER MONTHS OF BROODING DESPAIR while Bingley prepares to wed Jane Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy realises he has no choice but to put his heart at risk and try to win the only woman he will ever love.

ELIZABETH BENNET WOULD MORE THAN WELCOME his return to Longbourn. Yet despite such mutually ardent feelings, her most beloved sister and Darcy’s own uncle hold quite the opposite points of view. 

TORN BETWEEN PERSONAL LOYALTIES and responsibilities, the couple must balance finding a discreet solution for a family scandal in London and dealing with new outrageous actions by Mr and Mrs Wickham, all while facing a Jane Bennet who cannot forgive Darcy his interference in her love story. 

Can the two overcome misunderstandings and meddling and find their way to one another at last?
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FTC Disclaimer: Link to Amazon US. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks! 

About the Author

When she was five, Susan Adriani wanted to be an opera singer,
but changed her mind when she realized she would have to perform in front of an audience instead of her bedroom mirror. She attended art school instead and became a graphic designer who spends more time writing stories and researching the social niceties of Regency England than she does cleaning her house. She has a teenage daughter who dearly loves to laugh, and a handsome husband who is not the least bit intimidated by Mr Darcy. She makes her home in New England, and cannot imagine a world without books, Google maps, copious amounts of tea, or Jane Austen.

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

It's giveaway time! Quills & Quartos is giving away an eBook of Misunderstandings & Ardent Love to one of my lucky readers! Leave a comment to enter!  The winner will be picked shortly after the end of the blog tour. Open Internationally!

For more chances to win, visit and leave a comment at any of the other blogs on the tour!

Again, thank you to Susan for being here today!

Also, many thanks to Quills and Quartos Publishing for having me on the tour!

So, friends, are you excited about Susan's new book?! I am!

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