Book Blitz & Excerpt: Murder at the Met + Giveaway

murder at the met

Murder at the Met
by E.W. Cooper
(Penelope Harris Mysteries #2)
Publication date: April 8th 2021
Genres: Adult, Historical, Mystery

November 1928, New York City. No one can keep a secret like high society – especially when that secret is murder.

There are two things Penelope Harris would rather do than get involved with another murder—sing opera and flirt with Thom Lund. When two tickets ensure Penelope and Thom get some precious time together at the Metropolitan opera, neither believes another murder will interrupt their romantic evening.

Fate has a different plan. Before the night is over a failed manufacturing tycoon is found dead at the bottom of a staircase, his poisoned and dying daughter nearby. Is it an accident? Suicide? Or murder? When a fellow soprano pleads for help, Penelope just can’t help her inquisitive nature.

As Penelope pulls back the cover on a diabolical crime, Lund rushes to complete the investigation of a suicide on the Gold Coast of Long Island. What they find will uncover the sordid underbelly of high society and put Penelope on the wrong side of her own gun.

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murder at the met

EXCERPT:

“There are three sisters?” Penelope prompted.

“Clover, Ivy, and Tulip Warwick. Sisters, all of them.” Mary replied, happy to be the source of all the best gossip. “Ivy is the worst kind of child. Ill-behaved. Well, you saw, didn’t you? Her mother knows it too—keeps sending her away to finishing school. She must have just gotten back. Tulip would be the best of the three if she could just buck herself up. At least Ivy got to go away. Tulip had to stay behind and look after her mother. I see her from time-to-time volunteering at the library. She’s nice.”

“Only nice? Not the best recommendation, Mary darling.”

“You’d know how high a recommendation if you met Clover.” Mary lowered her voice. “Clover Warwick positively has the very worst temper I’ve ever seen. Last year she attacked one of her housemaids with a shoe. The poor girl lost an eye to Clover’s dancing shoe. I was certain she was going to be arrested this time—”

“This time?”

“—but she wriggled out of it again. Everyone said her father bought the maid off. Roger Warwick must have done something, because the girl had an uncle in the police. I was so certain she would be charged!”

“Mary, that simply cannot be true! You can’t just assault a maid and get away with it!”

“Connie Whitman volunteers at the hospital and saw the maid after it happened. She said Clover could have killed her. Good lord!” Mary put a hand to her mouth. “I hope she didn’t die. I hadn’t thought of that. I hope the poor girl didn’t succumb. Absolutely horrible. But that’s who Clover is, isn’t it?”

“Are you telling me that Clover Warwick, who everyone knows almost beat her maid to death with a shoe, is singing at a society gala with a premier soprano from the Metropolitan Opera? How is that possible?”

“Violet Warwick has spent thousands on Patsy’s production to get Clover the best solo. Patsy says it’s a drawing, you know—so everyone gets a fair chance. But we all know it’s not. It always comes down to money, one way or another,” Mary nodded sagely. “I do wonder what happened to the maid.” A furrow appeared on her brow. “I see how unfair it all was now. No one would have hired her afterward, you see. It would have upset Clover. No one upsets Clover. She retaliates—I suppose it’s a good thing her father is only in manufacturing. If it had been lumber or coal . . .”

“What on earth do you mean by that?” Penelope’s head was spinning with all the social rules she didn’t know. Running a casino in Shanghai had been easier than learning the hierarchy of New York society. The rules guiding the criminal class had been as straightforward as they come. “Why would it make a difference where he makes his money? Isn’t it all the same money?”

Mary was aghast. “It’s well and good to have money when no one else does, but you can’t swan about without a care in the world when everyone knows you made your packet manufacturing cheap wire hangers. I’ll never use them, and I don’t know anyone who would. Charles says it’s just a piece of wire tied up in a knot. Can you imagine? I tell you this, Penelope: Clover can work as hard as she wants to get an invitation from an Astor, but she never will. High society won’t have anything to do with something as low as a wire hanger—even if it is clever. I bet you Clover would leave town and change her name if she could, just to get away from it.”

Author Bio:

Author of the Penelope Harris Mysteries, E.W. Cooper was ecstatic to learn her debut in the series, The Jade Tiger, was the 2020 Booklife Prize Finalist in Mystery/Thriller. A lifelong fan of classic mysteries and Grand Opera, Ms. Cooper is hard at work on the second book in the Penelope Harris Mystery series, Murder at the Met (April 2021). She lives quietly with her partner, children, three dogs, and one cat in a very noisy house in South Texas.

To learn more about Penelope Harris Mysteries (and the author) go to www.ewcooper.com and snoop around.

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Spotlight & Excerpt: Ellerslie + Giveaway

ellerslie

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. William Francis will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Ellerslie
by William Francis
Genre: Paranormal/Historical/Mystery

Did you know author F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda lived in a haunted house?

It’s the Jazz Age, it’s Prohibition and aviator Charles Lindbergh is the most famous person in America. Author F. Scott Fitzgerald rents a mansion in Edgemoor, Delaware called Ellerslie hoping for a quiet retreat so that he can write his next novel following The Great Gatsby.

April Ross, the first and only female history major at the University of Delaware, is commissioned by the owner of Ellerslie to research the estate’s history for a potential sale. At least, that’s what April is told. In the days ahead, April’s historical research uncovers Ellerslie’s former owners dating back to 1810. She interacts with the Fitzgeralds, yet endures unexplained occurrences and visits by an unknown woman. Against her better judgement, April eventually accepts that the woman is a ghost and realizes that her true purpose is to find out who this woman is, or was, and what happened to her in real life.

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Read an Excerpt

“I signed a two-year lease,” Scott said. “And I came here to get away from the noise of New York so that I could write. I also came here because I have a fascination with medieval Europe and feudalism. I wanted to study the DuPonts and their quasi-feudalism over this area and create a novel loosely based on them. Unfortunately, every time I sit down to write it nothing happens. I think my problem is that I always want to write something that’s never been written before, something unique and extraordinary rather than another rehashing of a familiar plot.”

“If the DuPont idea isn’t working, then stop trying to force it and write something else.”

“You sound like my editor, Max Perkins. He’s pretty upset with me right now. I promised him a novel by July first. That’s not going to happen.”

“Well, as they say, get crackin’. And don’t worry about your lease. I’m sure Mr. Sellers will let you break it when you tell him that Ellerslie is haunted.”

“Haunted?” Scott said with an uneasy laugh. “Don’t be ridiculous.”

“It’s not ridiculous. Mr. Sellers knows it. The maids know it. Phillipe knows it. My real purpose here is to discover the identity of a crying female ghost.”

Scott moaned. “Well, then. I guess Elena spilled the beans.”

“She did not. Marie did, but I would’ve figured it out. This female manifestation has been reaching out to me, giving me clues meant to help my investigation. Of course, if she could speak it would go a lot faster, but in life she was strangled and possibly crushed her throat. I guess this makes her spirit unable to speak. I don’t know. I’m no expert on ghosts. Have you seen her?”

“Yes, I was drunk and in the kitchen the first time, about two weeks after we moved in. I knew who she was by Mr. Sellers’ description. I didn’t believe it. I still don’t believe it.”

“Do you know anything about her?”

“Not much. Apparently, she’s been on the estate for many years. Mr. Sellers said his father knew about her and called her the ‘melancholy lady.’ Servants recalled hearing the old gentleman talk to somebody late at night, usually in the library, and when they entered the room he was the only one there. Then shortly before his death he told his son about her, said she cried all the time and he couldn’t figure out why. Mr. Sellers Junior dismissed it as the rantings of an old man. Then one tenant after another kept telling stories about a ghost or unexplained acts of violence. Junior didn’t believe them until he saw the lady for himself.”

“So Mr. Sellers told you about the lady ghost before you moved in but you signed the lease anyway?”

“Yes. Zelda and I thought it might be exciting to live in a haunted house.”

About the Author:

Raised in Newark, Delaware, William spends his days working in Corporate America and writing about the First State. He achieved a Masters Degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, but also writes non-fiction. Through Arcadia Publishing he has produced 5 books related to Delaware: The DuPont Highway, Along the Kirkwood Highway, Along the Christina River, Building Interstate in 95 in Delaware and Newark Then &amp Now. Fiction titles include: A Life Told to None, The Umpire, Seacrest, and the five-star The Katie Dugan Case. Whether his books are fact or fiction, William hopes to entertain as well as inform and leave the reader with a satisfying experience.

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: At His Mercy + Giveaway

At His Mercy Banner

At His Mercy
by Elvira Bell

Word Count: 22,321
Book Length: NOVELLA
Pages: 90
Genres: EROTIC ROMANCE, FANTASY, GAY, GLBTQI, HISTORICAL

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Book Description

 

A thief and his captor… A spicy demand in exchange for freedom. Will Lio give in to the lord of the manor?

Young thief Lio should have known better than to steal from the mighty Lord Callen. After he’s been locked up in a cold cell in Callen’s manor, he’s told that he’ll be set free on one condition—that he agrees to share Callen’s bed for one night. Lio refuses, but can’t help wondering what sleeping with Callen might be like. Callen, on the other hand, takes the rejection badly and thinks Lio finds him old and unattractive. He can’t stop thinking about the pretty boy with the white hair though, and they’re about to overcome their hostility toward one another when something happens that brutally cuts off their budding friendship and causes Callen to throw Lio out headfirst.

For months they are apart. Callen isolates himself in his chamber, enraged and bitter, while Lio struggles to make it through the winter. In the end, starvation forces him to seek out the last man he wants to see—Lord Callen. Callen, who resents him and does nothing to hide it. Will Lio be able to get through to him? Will they ever have what they both want—each other?

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, threats of sexual harrassment, captivity and homophobia.

Excerpt

They never should have taken the forest road at night.

“We could go back,” Lio said, stumbling after his father on the muddy path. “That cottage we passed a mile back, maybe we could…”

Athos grunted, his boots leaving large, wet prints in the sludge. Almost doubled over from the weight of the burlap bag, he looked like a hunchback. “You’ll walk until I tell you to stop.”

Lio drew his hand over his eyes to wipe the icy rain away. “But…” He racked his brains for words that might make his father see reason. They were far away from the manor by now, and they had merely taken some tools and iron from the smithy, after the smith and his apprentice had left for the day. With luck, the theft wouldn’t be noticed until morning. Lord Callen certainly had enough gold to replace the tongs and hammers he’d lost. To Lio’s family, though, the stolen goods meant they could repair the hole in the roof, and his father could forge nails and horseshoes the villagers would be only too happy to pay for. Athos had been a blacksmith once, in his youth, but Lio had never dared ask why he had left such a good profession. His work was fine, and although there were some people who’d never buy anything made by his hands, he could make enough money this way to see them through the winter.

Athos coughed, a nasty, hollow sound Lio was all too familiar with.

“Father, you’re not well. Let me carry it.”

“No!” Athos spun around to give him a wild look. He towered over Lio, the way he always had. “I don’t take orders from a whelp like you, understand? While you’re living in my house, lad, you do as I tell you.” He coughed again, but pressed on through the darkness. The lantern swinging in his hand wasn’t strong enough to light up much of the surroundings, and a shiver ran down Lio’s spine at the thought of packs of wolves out on the hunt, or trolls and monsters eager to lure wanderers into their lairs. Traveling through the woods in daytime wasn’t so bad, though he wouldn’t like doing it without company, but everyone knew that one shouldn’t be out after dark. His mother would scold them when they got home—if they did. Lio had accompanied his father on similar business before, but they had been closer to home then and back by the hearth before midnight. Athos didn’t steal unless there were no other options, and before this he had only taken the odd bread loaf or piece of meat from those of the nearby farmers who spat after him and his family. ‘Only steal from those who deserve it,’ he had told Lio often. Lio didn’t know much about Lord Callen, but if he owned half as much land and gold as people said he did, he deserved it more than most. It wasn’t fair that someone like him had everything, while others starved.

“I can carry the lantern, at least,” he tried, uneasy at the sound of his father’s labored breathing.

“The lantern?” Athos scoffed. “It weighs nothing. Now be quiet, all right? I brought you as a lookout. Wouldn’t expect a wisp of a thing like you to carry anything, would I?”

Lio bit back an angered reply. He was small compared to his father, it was true, closer in height to his mother and with her slender build, too. From her he had his ghostly pale hair as well, that made the villagers hiss ‘Devil-child’ and other such nonsense after him. The one thing he had from his father was the dark color of his eyes. His little brother and sisters had those eyes, too, but their hair was dark as coal. He often wished his own was, too.

Wrapping his arms around himself in a futile attempt to get warm, he wondered how far they had left. Their cottage was on the other side of the woods, in a clearing out of sight from any other people. The nearest farm was only a short walk away, but Lio and his family had never been counted among the villagers who were their neighbors. Young women sought out his mother secretly, when her herbs were the only thing that might help them end unwanted pregnancies or cure their sick babies. His father was the one the villagers called for when they needed shameful or dangerous tasks done, like gelding foals or burying disease-spreading corpses. Shame, filth—that was all they were associated with. They always had been.

A strange sound pierced through the roaring of the rain. The neighing of a horse? He stopped, throwing anxious looks around him. “Father, did you—”

“Quiet!” Athos trudged on, muttering to himself. The rain streamed down Lio’s face, plastering his hair to his skin. He shivered, not sure if it was from the cold or from fear. Another sound came through the darkness—a voice? Several voices?

“Father, run!” But he hadn’t taken more than a step forward before someone grabbed him by the neck, pulling him back. In front of him he saw his father stop as a rider blocked his path. A dark-clad man on a black steed, carrying a torch in his hand. His hair was obscured by a helmet. There were four men in total, including the one with the forceful grip on Lio’s neck. Lio struggled in vain to free himself, and the man chuckled in a low, raspy voice.

“Well,” said the rider in black, as two of his henchmen closed in on Athos with their swords drawn. “We found our prey at last. Did you really think I’d allow anyone to steal from me?” His voice was smooth but cold. It was difficult to tell his age—Lord Callen was hardly a young man, but he was well-built and tall, with broad shoulders and a straight, proud posture. His eyes were just as icy as his voice.

Athos dropped the burlap sack, rising to his full height and taking a step closer to Callen, as if to challenge him. “You’ve got enough for a whole village, but we ain’t got a thing!”

“Oh, is that so?” Callen curled his lip. “While I applaud your courage, I really can’t let a thing like this slide. You understand, surely? Men, how should we punish this pitiful crime?”

“Their right hands,” said one of the henchmen, giving Athos a nudge with the blunt side of his sword. “Off with them.”

“Death,” suggested another man with an ugly grin. “That’d stop them from doing it again, my lord.”

Callen nodded. “Why, certainly, but I personally feel it’s a tad…boring?” His cool gaze landed on Lio’s face. He scrutinized him for a few moments before turning away. “Seize them,” he said. “We bring them with us.”

“I’ve got little ones at home, sir!” Athos called out. “They’ve had nothing to eat for the last week, and me and my wife—”

“What a pity,” Callen said.

Athos roared, trying to make a run for it, but one of Callen’s men stabbed his sword into his shoulder before he’d gotten away. Callen snorted as Athos was tied up and thrown over the back of one of the horses as if he were a sack of flour. Lio stared, his eyes fixed on his father’s shape. That wound… How bad is it?

“Now the boy,” said Callen.

“Yes,” murmured the man who held Lio captive. He jumped to the ground and pulled Lio toward him, his breath hot and revolting against Lio’s neck. “I’ll take care of you.”

“Let me go!” Lio squirmed, but the man quickly tied his wrists together and put him face down in front of the saddle before mounting the horse again. Lio’s breath hitched in his throat as the man put a big, gloved hand on the back of his thigh.

“Keep still now,” he said, voice low. “Filthy little thief. You’re going to regret what you’ve done.”

Yes. As the riders started retracing their tracks through the woods, back to Lord Callen’s manor, Lio thought bitterly that he regretted everything. He couldn’t see his father, but he heard his pained groans and whimpers, and the men shouting at him to keep quiet. If only he could do something! What would happen to them once they reached the manor? His father’s injury—how bad was it? His mother would have been able to stop the blood—she would have healed him in no time. But Lio didn’t have any of her knowledge. He couldn’t do anything but hope, in spite of everything, that they would make it out of this alive.

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About the Author

Elvira Bell

Elvira Bell lives in Sweden and spends most of her time writing, reading or watching movies. Her weaknesses include, but are not limited to: vintage jazz, musicals, kittens, oversized tea cups, men in suits, the 18th century, and anything sparkly.

Elvira writes m/m romance and has a penchant for historical settings. She adores all things gothic and will put her characters through hell from time to time because she just loves watching them suffer. It makes the happy endings so much sweeter, after all.

Find out more at Elvira’s website.

 

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Evira Bell’s At His Mercy Giveaway

ELVIRA BELL IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GET A FIRST FOR ROMANCE GIFT CARD! Notice: This competition ends on 16th March 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.