Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tangled Ends (Magnolia Series #5) by Taylor Dawn

Welcome to the release celebration for Taylor Dawn's Tangled Ends, the fifth book in the series. This contemporary romance suspense from the international bestselling author is available today on all of your favorite book platforms! Check it out and then give it a download!

Please note that affiliate links are present within this post. Should you make a purchase through one, I may earn a small commission to support my sites, at no additional cost to you.

Title: Tangled Ends
Author: Taylor Dawn
Genre: Contemporary Romance Suspense
Publisher: Princess Press
Publication Date: April 24th, 2018
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR

Tangled Ends

Liam McDermott of the DEA had one job. Bring the infamous hacker, Kat McCormick to the FBI field office in Biloxi Mississippi. With her secure in handcuffs, Liam finds himself running from the people who want her dead. He must protect her no matter what, but can’t resist the temptation of the pink haired tech wizard. Lives are on the line as he races the clock to help bring down one of the biggest human and drug trafficking rings in the United States. Can he slay his attraction to Kat long enough to get the job done? Or will he end up in an even more tangled web than before?

Kat McCormick has spent her life hiding behind strings of binary code and screen names. Her hacking ability is second to none but soon she finds herself stumbling across information that puts her at the top of someone’s hit list. As she dodges bullets, Kat fights the brewing attraction to the Agent in charge of keeping her safe. Can she open up her heart and mind to help bring down the bad guys, or will she tuck tail and run like she’s done most of her life? Follow Kat and Liam as they try to unravel the truth in the fifth and final book in the Magnolia Series by Taylor Dawn.

Buy Links: 
Amazon *  Kobo *  B&N * iTunes

International Bestselling Author Taylor Dawn began writing as an item to check off her bucket list. She resides in the southernmost part of Illinois, right on the mighty Mississippi river. She enjoys the quiet country life with her husband, son and the many farm animals that make up the rest of the family. Deciding that farm life was just a little too mundane, Taylor began writing romance and fantasy to liven things up, so far so good. Before starting her writing career, Taylor entered the field of cosmetology. When she isn't writing, she can usually be found sitting around a table making people laugh. She has always wanted to be a standup comic. She loves pulling practical jokes, dresses up in a costume every Halloween and believes that dancing is the key to a happy life (even if you aren't a good dancer). She believes that life shouldn't be taken too seriously, we will never get out alive anyway. More than anything, she is a kid at heart, she doesn't believe in bedtimes, eating everything on her plate, or having ice cream only for dessert. Her favorite quote is by Dr. Seuss..."Why fit in, when you were born to stand out." You can find Taylor at taylordawnauthor.com

Author Links:

Friday, April 20, 2018

Read an excerpt from Edger by David Beem with Giveaway!

Welcome to the blurb blitz tour for Edger by David Beem! You'll enjoy the quirky humor in this book, so I highly recommend checking it out! For this moment, though, you can check out an excerpt and then download it on your favorite platform. Be sure to leave David a comment or ask him a question. Make sure you give him more cowbell, too! And then follow the rest of the tour for extra chances to win the giveaway.

Note that there are some affiliate links present in this post. Should you make a purchase through one, I may earn a small commission to support my websites (and maybe get more cowbell of my own). It won't cost you anything extra!


It’s been said every story must start somewhere. Ours begins with a professional dork. The kind who fixes computers and lives in his gran’s basement. The kind tapped by destiny (that saucy minx) to become the world’s first superhero! And not a moment too soon… A nano-sized artificial intelligence is on the loose! It got itself dart-gunned into a cow butt by a frog man in a porn store! Two stoners are corrupting it on twitter! And that’s just the first three pages!! Join our dork of destiny as he channels the collective unconscious—his psychic superpower—in a harrowing tale of high drama, romance, betrayal, revenge, Jesus chickens, cocaine, weirdos, magicians, ninjas, NFL spies, and disco ball water torture administered to the tune of Rapture, by Blondie. My God, man, what does it all mean!? It means uncorking that next bottle of wine isn’t only a good idea—it’s advisable.


Read an excerpt:
Water and glass shower the dance floor. Needle scratches vinyl. Hattori Hanzo seizes control instinctively and I land with the grace of a ninja. Mary, who has no dead ninja in her head, thuds with the grace of a turkey carcass dropped from the Level Two parapet of Westfield Horton Plaza.

“Kill them!” someone yells.

“Don’t kill them!” I yell back, figuring that’s got to be worth a try.

Shots are fired. Screaming patrons run and duck for cover. A bullet ricochets off the wall. I grab Mary by the ropes binding her, and drag her behind a nearby couch.

More gunfire.

I chance a peek. Caleb Montana is near the front door, exchanging shots with two Nostradamus agents hiding behind a life-size statue of Caleb in his quarterback uniform, one arm cocked back, preparing to pass the football, and the other stretched out in front, pointing.

I round on Mary, who flings her wet hair back like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. Water sprays my supersuit’s visor.

“Cut me loose.”

“Right, right,” I say, feeling around on my utility belt. Jeez, I’ve never tried to locate anything without someone helping me from the Collective Unconscious. There are a lot of things here. I pull a tiny ball out, and the nano-technology grows into a switchblade-shaped object. Seems promising. I flick it on. Blue flame blows out from the end.

“Holy crap!”

“Come on, quit fooling around.”

“Don’t rush me! Do you have any idea how stressful this is?”

“Come on,” she says, her voice husky, cheek to floor, back arched, butt in the air.

“You never see Batman having this problem,” I mutter.

Check out an interview with David Beem here.

About David Beem

David Beem enjoys superhero movies, taekwondo, and flossing. He lives in Djibouti with his family and crippling self-doubt. Help actualize David’s inner confidence. Visit his website today, and buy all the stuff.


David Beem will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Meet Philip Wilson, author of Songs for Lucy with Giveaway!

Thanks for stopping by Andi's Book Reviews today. I'd like to introduce you to author Philip Wilson. Take the time to get to know him a little bit better and also check out his new book Songs for Lucy. You can check out an excerpt and my review and even ask him some of your own questions in the comments section. Be sure to enter the giveaway and travel along the rest of the book tour for even more chances to win!

Please note that affiliate links are present. Should you make a purchase through one, I may earn a small commission to support my websites at no additional cost to you. I also received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Songs for Lucy

It’s spring, and Allison Connelly has it all – pretty, popular and smart. With a summer job teaching tennis and starting Harvard Law School in the fall, Allison plans on a successful law career, marriage and kids – and dreams of becoming a Supreme Court Justice. When relentless headaches drive her to her doctor, Allison receives a terrifying diagnosis that destroys her plans and imperils her life. Devastated, Allison struggles to accept her shattered dreams and uncertain future. One night, she happens into a small-town pub and, on a whim, takes a job singing, finding solace and a measure of peace in her music. She settles in the town, and from that small beginning finds love, a new life and a new reason for living.

Read an excerpt:
Doctor Mackay spoke for the first time. “Allie, I’ve known you since you were a kid,” he began sadly. “You’re a fighter. Your first reaction is to look for other options, to refuse to accept defeat. But — both Doctors Smythe and Graham are experts in their fields. They’ve conferred with some of the leading oncologists at Johns Hopkins, the Cleveland Clinic, and others; and the response has been unanimous and unequivocal. If I thought there was the remotest chance that something might work, I’d say go for it. You’re young, healthy, and should have your whole life ahead of you. But I just don’t believe there are any legitimate realistic treatment options out there, and I don’t want you spending your remaining time chasing false hopes, only to be disappointed. I’m so terribly sorry.”

Allison looked at him, hearing the pain in his voice and seeing the anguish in his face. Doctor Mackay had known her since she was a baby. He’d watched her grow up; he had been close friends with her father. Now he was telling her she was going to die – and it was tearing him apart.

“How long do I have?” Allison asked quietly.

“Each case is different,” Doctor Graham replied.

“We’d estimate two months. Could be one, conceivably three. We’ll prescribe corticosteroids which reduce the swelling around the tumors. This should also reduce the headaches and any drowsiness you’ve been feeling. You will probably feel fine for a month or so.”

“And then?”

“The headaches and nausea will eventually recur, and will increase in frequency and severity. All we’ll be able to do then is treat the symptoms.”

Buy links

**My thoughts**

I was drawn to this story because I am a sucker for those dealing with life tragically cut short from devastating illness. Of even more interest to me is how Allie is suffering from a glioblastoma. While usually fatal, I do have one friend who has managed to survive one and is still symptom-free now five years later. It's a horrific experience for the people who are suffering from this cancer, as well as difficult for loved friends and family to watch happen.

In some ways, this book has too much tragedy in Allie's life for her and all of those around her. She is also almost too perfect, other than her diagnosis. For a little while in the beginning, I found her hard to relate to because of this. But the more that I read and the more that I got to know her, the more I did relate to her and like her. She became a real person and I found myself swept along her journey.

I also realized that this was part of the point of the book. Just because your life appears to be perfect, that doesn't mean that it can be. It also shows that glioblastomas, and cancer in general, aren't picky in whom they attack. Allie appears to have it all, but she doesn't. Her best friend that she meets at Second Journey (the hospice) is her complete opposite, in appearance and life history. Cancer didn't care and attacks her just as hard. But the friendship that develops between Allie and Terri is a beautiful one and one that not many of us get to experience in our lives. 

I think the biggest lesson of his book is to appreciate life. Be grateful for what you have and spend your time with those you love and doing good in this world. You never know when all of that is going to change. Allie thought her whole life was still ahead of her, and in the twinge of a headache, it was all gone. We really just don't know.

This book will also make you fall in love with New England. I'm aching to go visit my family out there. I'll even take spring finally arriving so that I can get out along Lake Ontario, which I believe also inspired some of the scenes and descriptions in the book. And if you don't find yourself somewhat choked up and thinking about your loved ones, I'll wonder if you're even human.


What was the inspiration for this book?
After writing The Librarian – a revenge thriller in which a shy librarian finds the will and determination to fight back against a group of men who destroyed her life, I wanted to try writing a novel that would be more thoughtful, emotive and inspirational and I needed a storyline that would support these objectives. Unfortunately, there was no flash of inspiration. I contemplated a number of storylines that might work, before deciding on one with a young woman suddenly diagnosed with a devastating and probably terminal disease.
How did you go about researching it?
Most of the research related to glioblastoma, a particularly aggressive form of brain cancer that is almost always fatal and for which the progression includes cognitive decline, physical disabilities, personality changes and increasingly severe headaches. (This is the same disease that killed Edward Kennedy and Joe Biden’s son and from which John McCain is now suffering.)
Which character spoke to you the most?
A number of them spoke to me. Certainly Allison who, faced with the loss of her dreams and an uncertain future, contemplates ending it all; but gradually builds a new life, finds love and a renewed sense of purpose. Marion Siegel, Allison’s aunt, who is tough, principled and compassionate. Against the wishes of both her husband (a lawyer) and Allison’s doctor, she assures Allison that if the fight becomes more than she can bear, she will support and enable her decision to give up the fight.
What was one of your favorite scenes?
Unfortunately describing my two favorites, one of them being the final scene in the book, would provide spoilers. However, in another scene I like, Allison, standing at the top of a cliff overlooking the ocean during a savage storm, is overcome by feelings of despair and hopelessness.
Will we ever see these characters again?
Probably not. I liked the characters and how they developed through the novel. Lucy actually started as a minor character but, to my surprise, developed to the point I named the book after her. However, the thought of writing a sequel or otherwise carrying them forward doesn’t have much appeal. I like the feeling a fresh start with a new plot and new characters.
What do you want readers to get out of your book?
I feel I should have a ready answer for this, but I don’t. I hope they find it thought-provoking, moving, and inspirational. One of my early readers called it ‘beautiful’ – and that certainly works for me.
Tell us about your other published works.
Songs for Lucy is my second novel. My first was The Librarian, which I briefly described above. At the risk of a little self-promotion, the response to The Librarian has been gratifying. The book has been featured in The Huffington Post as one of the best Indie books in 2017, reviews have been excellent and sales are growing steadily.

What are you working right now?
I’ve started a third novel, tentatively titled ‘Ayla’s Arc.’ It is about a young Syrian woman who is orphaned during the recent Syrian civil war and goes to work for the CIA in the Middle East, first as an interpreter, then as a spy and ultimately as an assassin. She becomes one of the most successful and prolific assassins on the CIA payroll, but eventually realizes she can’t do it forever. She finally gives it up and moves to New York to pursue a legal career, but still finds the occasional need to fall back on her old skills.
What are you reading right now? On your TBR?
I am part way through The Rooster Bar by John Grisham and The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. I’m also reading a non-fiction book on a theoretical area of mathematics than intrigues me. However, I probably only finish half the books I start.

When not writing, what can we find you doing?
I have a 32-foot sailboat on Lake Ontario and spend much of the summers sailing. (Hence the sailing scenes in both my books.) I spend winters in Florida and do a fair amount of kayaking and some tennis. (Hence the kayaking and tennis scenes in Songs for Lucy.) Although, I’m retired from a career in finance, I still do some work in that area.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Unlike The Librarian, Songs for Lucy is not the type of book I would typically buy, and certainly not the type of book I would have imagined myself writing. That said, I enjoyed writing it, and I like it. Even more so than for The Librarian, I’m curious to see what kind of reaction it gets.

About Philip Wilson

Philip Wilson is a retired financial executive who spends winters in Florida and summers sailing on the Great Lakes in his 32-foot sailboat. Songs for Lucy is his second book. His first, The Librarian, was rated one of the best reviewed books of 2017 by IndieReader and featured in the Huffington Post. Learn more at

Website: www.philipmwilson.com


Philip Wilson will be awarding a signed paperback copy of the book to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, April 15, 2018

A Gentleman's Bidding (The Scarlet Salon #1) by Jean Wilde

I was compensated via Fiverr for sharing this book. I only share those books that I feel my readers will enjoy. Also note that affiliate links are present within this post. Should you make a purchase through one, I may earn a small commission to help me support my blogs at no additional cost to you.

A Gentleman's Bidding

Miss Emily Price is in desperate need of funds. With her family estate mortgaged and her young brother not yet of age, it falls to her to save her family from financial ruin. What is a lady with no title or connections to do? Auction her virginity at one of London’s most notorious brothels.

Heir to a baronetcy, James Hughes has always been caught between two worlds. His fortune and education help him pass for a member of the ton but his career as an engineer and his family ties stop him from actually becoming one. Quiet and serious-minded, he knows he needs to marry into the peerage for his sake, as well as, his family’s. But when he finds himself by chance at an auction in London’s infamous Scarlet Salon he throws his ambitions to the wind to bed the lovely Miss Price.

It doesn’t take long for Emily to lose her heart to her dry-humored, generous benefactor. But when their affair goes public in one of the most scandalous newspapers in town, Emily must decide if she must cast her feelings aside and leave James to pursue his societal ambitions, and James must decide if family and duty are worth giving up the chance of love.

Scandal, manipulation and ambition hinder the lovers’ path to happiness. Only they can decide if love is worth fighting for.

Available on KU

About Jean Wilde

I'm a bookaholic, chocoholic, binge-watching Canadian author. I've loved books every since I was a child and fell in love with regency romances when my mother introduced me to the world of Georgette Heyer at the age of 12. My background is in journalism but I'd much rather write fiction than reality. I live in Toronto with my hubby, 2 children and black Lab.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeanwildeforromance
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jeanwildeauthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jean_wilde
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jeanwildeforromance
Website: https://jeanwilde.wordpress.com

Friday, April 13, 2018

Get more #MeTime with #Audiobooks #Giveaway Ends 4/30

Welcome To The Audiobooks.com Subscription Giveaway! 

It's so important to get in some time to myself and reading is one of the ways I do this best. I've started even listening to more audiobooks to sneak in more reading time. It's perfect on my phone at work or in the car while driving around. Have you jumped on the audiobook bandwagon? 

Our hosts The Mommy Island and The Kids Did It both love to read and are delighted to offer you the chance to win this year of reading from Audiobooks.com! 

Get “Me” Time Anytime With Audiobooks.com

We all love when our kids get excited about books, but between running errands, doing chores and scrubbing magic marker “art” off the walls, it can be tough to get excited about books for ourselves (let alone find a quiet moment to actually sit down and read). Audiobooks.com believes that reading great books (or any books, really) makes a person happier, helps them learn and makes them grow. And if we encourage our kids to read more, shouldn’t we do the same?

Audiobooks.com is giving away a FREE one-year subscription so you can take your favorite books anywhere, anytime. Get inspired, educated and entertained by books whether you’re commuting, at the gym, doing dishes or on a weekend road trip with the family. Instantly stream and download more than 100,000 incredible audiobooks to your smartphone, tablet or computer.

Enter The Giveaway!
One lucky entrant selected by the entry form will receive a FREE one-year subscription to
Audiobooks.com! (ARV $180) Open for entry from April 13, 2018, to April 30, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. EST. The winner will have 24 hours to respond to the notification email or a new winner will be selected. The Mommy Island and participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment. If you're a blogger wanting to join more events like this one join Blogger Talk. If you're a brand looking for a promotion like this one email themommyisland@gmail.com. Don't forget to come back daily for bonus entries. Good Luck! 
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Friday, April 6, 2018

Marianne's Memory by Winona Kent

Welcome to the blitz for Marianne's Memory by Winona Kent. This is the third book in this accidental time travel series. You get to check out an entire chapter of the book and then you can order it on your favorite Amazon platform. Please note that affiliate links are present. Should you make a purchase through one, I may earn a small commission to help support my websites and it won't cost you anything! Thanks for stopping by!

Marianne's Memory

Historical Time Travel Romance
Date Published: March 2018

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Marianne's Memory is the third novel in Winona Kent's accidental time travel / historical romance series, featuring Charlie Duran and her 19th century companion Shaun Deeley.

A Beatles badge from 1965 accidentally sends Charlie and Shaun back to London at the height of the Swinging Sixties, where they're mistaken for KGB spies and subjected to a terrifying interrogation.

Rescued by top-ranking MI5 agent Tony Quinn, they soon uncover the details of a child born out of wedlock to Charlie's mum and the uncomfortable truth about Charlie's dad's planned marriage to selfish socialite Arabella Jessop.

Further complicating their journey into the past is Magnus Swales, an 18th century highwayman turned time-travelling assassin, and the timely arrival of William Deeley, Shaun's father, who's been persuaded to leap forward from 1790 in order to save Tony from Swales's deadly mission.

Read an Excerpt


Friday August 13, 1965


Charlie couldn’t find Mr. Deeley.

She’d gone back downstairs with Justin and had walked with

him to the drawing room, where the party was now in full-swing.

Arabella, in her blue silk pyjamas, flitted between little gatherings of

people, some standing, some having made themselves at home on

the antique sofa or on similarly-upholstered armchairs.

“Buffet in the dining room!” she announced. “Two chefs,

darlings! All the way from London! And we’ve got a lovely

marquee tent set up outside for dancing…Giles’s band’s come to

play for us!”

Giles himself was lounging in a deep armchair beside the

fireplace, wearing a black velvet suit, with a navy blue shirt and a

purple brocade tie, surrounded by admirers: three impossibly-thin

girls with lavish makeup and long, straight hair who might have

been models; a bearded gentleman in a pink fur coat who was

describing his latest project—an art installation involving a square

block of concrete on top of which he’d placed a bent fork; and a

young man with a pudding-bowl mop of hair who looked

uncannily like Brian Jones from the Rolling Stones.

The air in the drawing room was filled with the smell and haze

of marijuana and hash. In another corner sat a large woman in a

flowing kaftan and sandals, strumming an autoharp which she held



to her shoulder like a child needing to be freed of wind. She

seemed to be entertaining no one in particular, and yet an audience

was beginning to gather in front of her as they were introduced to

one another.

Arabella was in full hostess mode, dragging Justin into their


“Darling,” she said, to a distinguished-looking gentleman who

appeared to be someone who did something important at the BBC,

“do meet my lovely Justin…and of course Portia—Lord Wintle’s


Lord Wintle, Charlie recalled, was a British ambassador who

was posted somewhere that was in the thick of a coup. His

daughter had a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other and

was wearing knee boots and a see-through knitted dress that clung

to her lithe body like plastic wrap.

“Charmed,” said Portia, introducing, in turn, her friends Binky

and Pierre—Binky being the daughter of an existential poet serving

a sentence in prison for setting fires, and Pierre the son of an

American actor who’d been blacklisted for being a Communist and

had fled to England, where he’d found work as a talking milk bottle

on a children’s radio program.

And still, no sign of Mr. Deeley. Or Charlie's mum. Or Tony

and William and Astrid.

Charlie turned away in frustration and negotiated her way

through the pop stars and the adult children from titled families

who were chummy with the Boswell-Thorpes, the glammy

socialites dripping in diamonds, the boutique owners and the

clothing designers and the actors and actresses and a fellow dressed

all in black who was taking candid photographs of everyone

without their permission because they all secretly longed to be

featured in one of his fabulous avant-garde exhibitions.

She found the servants’ stairs behind the breakfast room and

went down into the cellar, thinking she might find them there. But

the cellar seemed to be mostly abandoned, with all of its doors

locked. Even the big 19th century kitchen, which in 1825 had been

bustling with a cook and her assistant and assorted serving staff,

was inaccessible and dark, the Boswell-Thorpes having installed a

much more convenient—and functional—kitchen upstairs, beside

the breakfast room.

Annoyed, and still frustrated, Charlie made her way back to the



main floor and outside, to see if Mr. Deeley was in the big marquee

tent that had been erected next to the manor’s west wing.

* * *

Shaun had, in fact, located both his father and Tony Quinn. His

father had been lingering in a hallway in the west wing of the

manor, between the dining room with the sitting room. It was not

so much a connecting passage as a room of its own, with a lavish

oriental Axminster carpet of blue, red and gold, and ceiling-to-floor

leaded windows embedded with patterns of stained glass and,

occupying pride of place, several full sets of armour, assembled and

erected as if ready to do battle.

“But this is marvellous,” William said, spying Shaun as he

entered from the dining room. “This is beyond anything I have

ever beheld…if only Lord and Lady Ellington could be here to

share my wonder.”

“I suspect,” Shaun observed, “that if Lord and Lady Ellington

were here, they might be confounded by your mingling with the

master and mistress and their numerous guests.”

“As am I,” William confessed. “I find I am awkward in their

presence. I would feel far more at home below stairs with the


“However, there are no servants,” Shaun provided, “other than

Mr. Brindlesworth, the butler, who is on loan from the Boswell-

Thorpes’s house in London.”

“This is by far the most discomforting of my experiences,” said

William, shaking his head. “No staff and no household routine. No

servants to look after the daily needs of the family. A complete

absence of structure. I have met people tonight who, in my time,

would be considered beneath contempt. And yet they are treated

with reverence by ladies and gentlemen of good breeding, with

titles, education and property.”

“These are all things which I have, myself, also observed,”

Shaun replied. “And my reactions, at first, were very much the

same as yours. But I have grown accustomed to the discrepancies.

It is refreshing once again to be reminded of the time I originally

came from—and for this, I owe you many thanks.”

“You are most welcome,” William said, surprised.

“Do you know where Mr. Quinn is?”



“I do, in fact. Would you like me to take you to him?”

* * *

Tony Quinn was outside.

William led Shaun up the grand staircase to the manor’s second

floor, and then back into the building’s west wing. Here, there was

a narrow hallway which Shaun vaguely recalled, led to several of

the manor’s grand bedrooms. He could see one of these through

its open door, its walls and ceiling painted white, its fireplace

surrounded by exquisite white stone.

Halfway along the narrow hallway was another door, which,

upon investigation, opened onto a little set of stone steps leading

up to the roof.

Tony was sitting near its furthest edge, well concealed, with a

view overlooking the top of the marquee tent and the roofless,

brick-walled enclosure Shaun recognized as the kitchen garden,

where Monsieur Duran the Lesser had often taken great delight in

shooting at hedgehogs.

Tony put his finger to his lips as William and Shaun

approached, cautioning them into silence and, furthermore, into

lowered visibility.

Shaun crouched down—as did William—and, after ensuring

that he was nowhere near any point that might precipitate his

falling, peered carefully over the edge.

“Surveillance,” Tony provided, in a whisper. “I’m pleased

you’ve arrived safely. Now do me a favour and go away.”

* * *

Shaun had done as he was told.

He had gone back downstairs—in the company of William—

with the thought that he might try to locate Jackie Lewis and

perhaps prevent her from making the gravest mistake of her life.

She was not, however, anywhere to be found.

With William, he wandered again into the drawing room, whose

population had been diminished somewhat by an announcement

that the concert promised by Arabella’s brother was about to begin

in the tent outside. Indeed, Shaun could hear noises which

indicated that the band was preparing to play—portions of tunes, a



crashing of drums and cymbals, a testing of microphones and the

boxes which amplified the sounds made by the guitars.

Those few left behind in the drawing room seemed to be

imbued with a sort of lethargy—perhaps caused by an

overindulgence in the special tobacco Mrs. Collins had described

earlier. The music on the record player had ceased.

“Not interested in the goings on outside?” a woman inquired,

causing Shaun to turn around in order to attach a face to the voice.

It was not an English voice. In fact, it sounded quite American.

The American voice belonged to a woman with an abundance

of flax-coloured hair which seemed to have been artificially built up

over the crown of her head. She was wearing a bright red silk cape,

beneath which was a black satin floor-length gown.

“Layla,” she said. “Layla Hancock.”

“I am…John Drake. And this is my colleague…”

“Phinneas Phelps,” William provided. “We are honoured to

make your acquaintance.”

“Mr. Drake and Mr. Phelps. So pleased to meet you as well. I’ve

been hired by Miss Jessop to provide…amusements…to the more

discerning of her gentlemen guests. Might my services be of

interest to either of you…?”

Shaun looked at his father.

“I think not,” he decided, “but we are very grateful for your

kind attention nonetheless.”

Miss Hancock seemed disappointed.

But then she brightened.

“Perhaps then you’d like a little nibble of my confectionary?”

She produced a square of cake, dark brown in colour, and

finished with a layer of what appeared to be chocolate icing.

“Many thanks,” William said, “but, alas, cake tends to be a

disagreeable companion to the fluctuating state of my digestion.”

“It’s not cake,” Miss Hancock whispered, conspiratorially. “It’s

called a brownie. Nobody’s heard of it over here but it’s one of my

specialties. And it’s a very special brownie.” She lifted the square to

Shaun’s lips. “Go on. Give it a try.”

Shaun did. And found it altogether delightful, although it left a

slightly peculiar aftertaste which reminded him, unaccountably, of

freshly mown hay.

“Good, isn’t it?”

“Very good,” he agreed. “Unusual.”



“Have the rest of it. I’ve got lots more.”

Shaun accepted the offer and sat down on the sofa so as to

avoid dropping crumbs on the expensive carpet.

Somewhere in the distance, he could hear the beginnings of

Giles Jessop’s pop band’s concert. He listened, finding the tune

pleasing to his ears.

“I shall return to the armoury,” his father decided, “if you have

no objections.”

“None whatsoever,” Shaun replied, amused, applying himself

again to the baked chocolate square.

William’s place on the sofa was taken by Miss Hancock, who

seemed also to be very taken by the music of Brighton Peer.

There passed a period of time, perhaps thirty minutes, during

which Shaun engaged Miss Hancock in polite and trivial

conversation, although none of it was particularly enlightening or,

in truth, of much interest to him.

And then, Shaun saw Jackie. She was wearing a plain black dress

with a white collar and long sleeves with white cuffs. Her legs were

encased in black stockings and in her hair she wore black ribbons.

She walked into the drawing room and lingered for a moment,

observing who was there. And then, obviously seeing no one she

recognized, she turned, and left.

Shaun got to his feet.

“Hey lover, where you going?” Miss Hancock reached out to

take his hand.

“I must excuse myself. Please forgive me.”

He tried to pull free, but Miss Hancock would not let go.

“Stay awhile, lover. I’m all on my own here.”

Shaun managed to release himself and made for the door. But

he was too late. Jackie had disappeared. He looked to the right and

to the left. She was gone.

And something else was happening. He felt most peculiar.

Things were slowing down, as if he was mired in jelly. It seemed as

if his mind was occupying one particular place, while his body—his

hands and feet, his legs, his arms—were most definitely elsewhere,

and not connected in any logical way whatsoever.

“How are you feeling, lover?”

It was Miss Hancock again, her voice dancing around his head.

It took Shaun a few moments to process what she had said.

“I am…content,” he said.



“That’s the secret of my special brownies. They make you very

very very content. And I do like to make my gentleman

acquaintances happy. Why don’t you come with me?”

Shaun wanted to object. He knew he ought to. He was acutely

aware that Miss Hancock’s suggestion would not be condoned by

Mrs. Collins, and that he needed to be here and alert and most of

all, locating Jackie Lewis…and not being led by the hand to the

servants’ staircase, and most certainly not allowing himself to be

taken down into the cellar.

Where Miss Hancock was leading him was familiar. She

produced a key and unlocked the door. It was the door to his old

bedroom, the one where he had slept every night while in the

employ of Monsieur Duran as his head groom.

“Have you never tried hash before, Mr. Drake?” she inquired.

“I have not,” said Shaun. His voice was somewhere else as well,

and most definitely had not come from anywhere within his body.

“Mmmm,” said Miss Hancock. “A virgin. My favourite.

Welcome to my dungeon, Mr. Virgin.”

The room was unmistakably his, but unrecognizable. Gone

were his upright wooden wardrobe, his books and his framed

paintings of horses and the brass harness decorations he had used

as paperweights. There was a bed. It was not his simple bed, but an

elaborately large one, with four brass posts, laid with a black satin

sheet and a similarly encased pillow. And it appeared to be the only

article of furniture there aside from a small round table and a

candelabrum, its five branches fitted with white wax candles.

Miss Hancock switched off the electric light—an embellishment

that had been added in his absence—and lit the candelabrum, then

closed and secured the door. And then she kissed him, quite

forwardly, and loosened the tie that Mrs. Collins had expertly

knotted for him earlier in the evening, and slid it over his head.

“Would you like to be flogged, my lovely virgin?” she

whispered, into his ear.

“No, I would not,” Shaun replied.

Miss Hancock removed her red satin cape and stepped out of

her gown and revealed what she was wearing underneath—a black

corset and stockings and suspenders, very similar to the stockings

and suspenders and corset Mrs. Collins had donned in Mr.

Tavistock's gentlemen's club, which were now causing some

familiar stirrings within him. “Are you absolutely sure about




“I have been flogged in the past and I am not overly anxious to

suffer the punishment again,” he objected, finding it increasingly

more difficult to put into words what was drifting through his

mind. “Especially as I have done nothing to deserve it.”

Miss Hancock bestowed another kiss upon him and undid the

buttons of his shirt.

“But you and I both know you’ve been a very, very naughty

boy,” she whispered, slipping his shirt down and removing it,

expertly. “And you know what happens to naughty boys.”

She turned him around.

“Oh!” she said, surprised. “You really have been flogged!

You’ve got scars.”

“I would not tell you an untruth.”

“How many lashes?” She began to count them, touching each

faint mark with a curious finger.

“A dozen,” Shaun supplied, “and one for good measure.

However, the instrument of punishment was a cat, so you may

multiply that figure by nine.”

“You have no idea how much this turns me on,” Miss Hancock

whispered, kissing each mark on his back. “I’m going to strip you

naked and tie you to that bed and have my wicked wicked way with


She turned him around again and pushed him onto the bed,

face up, and had fastened his wrists to each of the brass posts

before he could object. Now she was undoing his trousers…they

were off…and what he was wearing beneath…and his boots and

his socks…and his ankles were tied to the posts at the foot of the

bed…and it had all happened in an instant, a completely irrationally

slow instant.

“And now,” said Miss Hancock, reaching for the candelabrum,

“I’m going to visit every inch of your exquisite body, top to

bottom, and…perhaps…drop a tiny splash of candle wax along the

way…to heighten your senses…to explore the pain…”

As she tipped the candles, there was a knock upon the door, an

urgent-sounding rat-a-tat.

“What?” Miss Hancock shouted in an annoyed voice, replacing

the candelabrum upon the little table.

Shaun recognized the gentleman’s voice instantly. “Might I

inquire as to whether you are entertaining Mr. Drake within?”



“We’re busy!”

But William would not be dissuaded.

“I must insist. Mr. Drake’s presence is urgently required


“By who?”

“By his good wife, Mrs. Drake, who is the mother of his four

children, the youngest of which suffers from an ailment which has

worsened this past hour. She has come from the village. He must

hasten to his home immediately.”

Miss Hancock clambered off the bed and opened the door.

“For real?” she said.

William shielded his eyes, both from the sight of Miss Hancock

in her revealing costume, and the sight of Shaun, completely

unclothed and bound to the bed.

“The child is feverish and the physician has been summoned.

Mrs. Drake has collapsed from the strain but has been brought

back to consciousness with a judicious dose of sal volatile.”

“OK,” said Miss Hancock. “You win. This is too weird.”

She shut the door and quickly unfastened Shaun’s wrists and


“Just my luck,” she said, handing him his clothes. “Maybe next

time, hey?”

* * *

William was waiting for Shaun beside the servants’ staircase.

“I apologise for the interruption however I observed your

departure with Miss Hancock and thought it wise to intervene.”

“I am indebted to you,” Shaun replied, heavily. “Have you seen

Mrs. Collins…?”

“I have not. But I promise I shall safeguard your secret, Mr.

Patrick. Shall we rejoin the party?”

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About Winona Kent

Winona Kent was born in London, England. She immigrated to Canada with her parents at age 3, and grew up in Regina, Saskatchewan, where she received her BA in English from the University of Regina. After settling in Vancouver, she graduated from UBC with an MFA in Creative Writing. More recently, she received her diploma in Writing for Screen and TV from Vancouver Film School.

Winona has been a temporary secretary, a travel agent and the Managing Editor of a literary magazine. Her writing breakthrough came many years ago when she won First Prize in the Flare Magazine Fiction Contest with her short story about an all-night radio newsman, Tower of Power. More short stories followed, and then novels: Skywatcher, The Cilla Rose Affair, Cold Play, Persistence of Memory and In Loving Memory. Marianne’s Memory is Winona’s sixth novel.

Winona currently lives in Vancouver and works as a Graduate Programs Assistant at the University of British Columbia.

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