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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Book Review: The Innocents by C. A. Asbrey

The Innocents - Mystery Series book 1
(and thank goodness there’s more coming!!)


Blurb:
Pinkerton Detective Abigail MacKay is a master of disguises—and of new crime-solving technology! But she’ll have to move fast to stay a step ahead of Nat Quinn and Jake Conroy.

Nat and Jake are the ringleaders of The Innocents, a western gang that specializes in holding up trains carrying payrolls—and Nat is pretty savvy when it comes to using the new sciences of 1868 in committing his crimes.

Charismatic Nat and handsome Jake are on the run, and they’ve always gotten away before—before Abi. But when Abi is caught by another band of outlaws during the chase, there’s no other choice for Nat and Jake but to save her life. Abi owes them, and she agrees to help them bring in the murderer of a family friend.

The web of criminal activity grows more entangled with each passing day, but Nat, Jake, and Abi are united in their efforts to find the murderer. Once that happens, all bets are off, and Abi will be turning Nat and Jake over to the law. But can she do it? She finds herself falling for Nat, but is that growing attraction real? Or is he just using her to learn more about the Pinkertons’ methods? Abi always gets her man—but she may have met her match in her “best enemies”—THE INNOCENTS.

My review:

If you're looking for a mystery to twist your mind, awesome dialogue that makes you legit laugh out loud, and characters to fall in love with… Look no further!!

The Innocents, the debut novel by C. A. Asbrey, fully delivers!

From the first page I was immediately captured and drawn deep into the story. My curiosity on who and what and how and when ensured that I remained tightly intrigued and invested. As it were, having to close the pages and be present in real life was difficult to accomplish. So... it didn't happen often. Ha! And even after the last page was complete I was diving back in to re-experience some of my favorite scenes.

Abi is quite the leading lady, with her wits, her strength, her passion, and her vulnerability. I'm not afraid to admit that I want to adopt some of the same tricks and traits that make her her. Especially that hair pin...

Nat. (happy sigh) Nat’s sense of honor, compassion, and humor endeared him to me. And whoever said being smart isn’t sexy? They haven’t encountered Nat. The way that man adored and pursued the challenge of being around Abi and taking on what he did had me melting… even through the few rough moments. He sure knows how to use his mind and turn up the charm and… never mind. If I say too much more I'll ruin it. Just trust me.

Jake. The muscle. Haha. Oh, Jake! His claim to loyalty, family, and his soft under the gruff scary exterior won my heart over. He had his own unique charm about him that made him the perfect partner to Nat, and one of the most adored characters in the story.

I loved how the words flowed off the page, weaving the world around me and bringing all the characters to life. I was laughing as much as I was sifting through all the clues to determine what was happening and who was going to do what next.

The Innocents is a delightfully unique story that will appeal to all readers. Whether you love a western or a mystery, with just a dash of heat thrown in, this will most definitely satisfy.

I was delighted to discover that it’s the first book in a series and that Abi, Nat, and Jake’s story is not over yet. I am most anxious to get the next book in my hands to see what journey C. A. Asbrey takes me (and you!) on next!

What are you waiting for?  Grab your copy here!

     

Thursday, April 19, 2018

New Release -- The Innocents (The Innocents Mystery Series Book 1) by C.A. Asbrey @prairierosepubs #historicalmystery

Pinkerton Detective Abigail MacKay is a master of disguises—and of new crime-solving technology! But she’ll have to move fast to stay a step ahead of Nat Quinn and Jake Conroy. 

Nat and Jake are the ringleaders of The Innocents, a western gang that specializes in holding up trains carrying payrolls—and Nat is pretty savvy when it comes to using the new sciences of 1868 in committing his crimes.

Charismatic Nat and handsome Jake are on the run, and they’ve always gotten away before—before Abi. But when Abi is caught by another band of outlaws during the chase, there’s no other choice for Nat and Jake but to save her life. Abi owes them, and she agrees to help them bring in the murderer of a family friend. 

The web of criminal activity grows more entangled with each passing day, but Nat, Jake, and Abi are united in their efforts to find the murderer. Once that happens, all bets are off, and Abi will be turning Nat and Jake over to the law. But can she do it? She finds herself falling for Nat, but is that growing attraction real? Or is he just using her to learn more about the Pinkertons’ methods? Abi always gets her man—but she may have met her match in her “best enemies”—THE INNOCENTS.

EXCERPT


     “So, you want to pretend you’re a Pinkerton? As a female?” His eyes darkened. “I’ve questioned one before, although he didn’t know who I was. They’re trained real well on being both sides of interrogations. You don’t want to do this. Not as a woman. He had a real hard time. You’ll have it even harder.” 
     She sat staring ahead once more, her face impassive and stony.
     “You’ve nothing to say?”
     Her eyes flashed. “Beating the hell out of me won’t change anything but my view of you.”
     Nat reached out and entwined a hard fist in her hair and dragged her backward until the chair balanced on the back legs. He brought his face close to hers, his hot breath burning into her cheek.  “Think harder, lady. This isn’t a game. Who are you?”
     Abigail felt the dragging pain at the back of her head as shards of pain lanced across her scalp. He held her, balanced between his painful grip and a clattering fall to the floor but her stubborn nature wouldn’t let her acquiesce.
     “Others will come after you, no matter what you do to me.” She darted her eyes to meet his, unable to move her pinioned head. “I won’t be the last.”

          

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Let's Discuss the Blind Spot





Last month I wrote about breaking the Fourth Wall—that moment when the author does something that takes you out of the story—and making it impossible for readers to continue to suspend disbelief and enjoy the story.


For me, it was the moment when the author has the heroine assess her features in a mirror as a way of describing her to us.

That led to a discussion about another common trope: the heroine who doesn't realize she’s attractive.

I’ve been thinking about this way too much these past few weeks, but the more I’ve considered it, the more concerned I’ve become. 

Why is it our heroines are so blind to their own looks when I would lay bets that most of us are quite realistic in our assessment of our attractiveness even if we’d never admit it out loud?

Worse, in my readings, the woman who not only knows that she’s attractive, but is comfortable with her looks is usually the jaded mistress-slash-villainess.

So why do we do this?

Worse, what message are we sending to our readers?

So many women, even highly successful ones, struggle with their looks, feeling like they never look as they should. You have to be attractive enough to gain male interest, but not so attractive that other women would be jealous of you. And only a certain type of woman uses her looks to get what she wants (free drinks) or needs (her flat tire changed). 

In trying to make our heroines reflective of our common struggles, have we gone too far in reinforcing another impossible standard that women have to navigate daily?



Keena Kincaid writes historical romances in which passion, magic and treachery collide to create unforgettable stories. Her medieval heroines don’t always know how pretty they are—but that’s because they don’t always have mirrors. If you want to know more about her as an author, visit her Facebook page or her Amazon page.






Monday, April 16, 2018

Lock'em Up- SONORA'S TUOLUMNE COUNTY JAIL by Zina Abbott


Sonora, like so many other gold mining towns in California, found the lure of gold brought hoodlums along with the gold miners to a predominately male population that for the most part disregarded the social controls they had learned at home. It lead to overwhelming law enforcement problems. In 1850 alone, Tuolumne County, with Sonora as its principle community, dealt with 30 murders. Twelve took place within one week.
1866 Downtown Sonora, California
The need of a jail in this largely lawless land became apparent. However, housing was at a premium. The first means of securing prisoners was to chain them to a large oak tree.  Next, the inhabitants constructed a 20' X 50' log building.  Due to the number of escapes from this building, it was deemed not secure enough for a jail.

Bradford Street, Sonora - near Sonora Creek and Jail 
In early 1853, the county purchased a building on the north bank of Sonora Creek. This served as its jail until 1857 when the public demanded something be done to prevent frequent escapes and provide healthier quarters for prisoners.  As a result of the 1856 Grand Jury report, the Board of Supervisors purchased two city lots on which to build a county jail.  B. Stout's bid for $13,300 was accepted and the work began.  Completed in 1857, the final cost of the jail was $20,186.
Jail cell-ctsy Tuolumne Co. Historical Soc.
Inside Jail-ctsy Tuolumne Co. Historical Soc.

On December 20, 1865, the newly built jail was destroyed by a fire set by a prisoner.  Using salvaged material, the present structure was rebuilt by J. D. Patterson for $8,400.  On September 19, 1866, the displaced prisoners were transferred to the new jail by Sheriff Bourland.

The Tuolumne County jail was used continuously from 1857 to 1961.

Side of old Tuolumne County Jail-ctsy of Tuolumne Co. Historical Society
The jail is also an example of city and county cooperation to avoid duplication of public services.  The two cell blocks, one of which was divided into two parts, allowed for the incarceration of women and juveniles and also city prisoners as the occasion arose.  This flexibility accommodated all types of prisoners in a single facility with a minimum of supervisory staff.  This supervision included the sheriff and sometimes his deputy, and later, a jailer.
 
Criss-crossed Iron Bars used on cell doors and windows- 
Courtesy of Tuolumne County Historical Society
The jail walls were constructed using two thicknesses of red brick.  All of the doors and windows had iron bars and shutters to provide security and air.  From the old Western movies, we think of jail cells having bars. However, typical of jails of the time, the Tuolumne jail had doors and windows with criss-crossed iron strips. The brick walls were set on a foundation of well laid schist rock.

The jail yard, which served as the prisoners' exercise yard, was enclosed by a high brick wall. Family quarters were an important part of the jail. The sheriff and his family lived in a building attached to the jail. Often the sheriff's wife was contracted to provide meals for the inmates. Also, she acted at the matron for female prisoners.


By 1960, the old jail was obsolete and a new jail was constructed one block to the north.  Shortly after use was discontinued, the building became the Tuolumne County Museum.   Used for its original purpose and limited in the number of its alterations for so long, the museum building remains a good example of the jails built to house prisoners during the county's first hundred years. 
Current Tuolumne County Historical Society in old Tuolumne County Jail 
The majority of the information for this post was taken from the Tuolumne Historical Society's website. For more information on the jail in Sonora, California, please visit their site at this link:   https://www.tchistory.org/TCHISTORY/Jail_Print.htm


Anyone who has not yet read my Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series which takes place just on the other side of the Sierra Nevada mountains from Columbia and Sonora, you may enjoy my first two books in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series. You may find the first book in the series, Big Meadow Valentine, by CLICKING HERE.

The second book, A Resurrected Heart, is about the April resurrection day in the gold mining town of Lundy, but it has nothing to do with Easter. You may find this book by CLICKING HERE.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Book Review: Beneath a Horse-Thief Moon by Elizabeth Clements *NEW RELEASE*


Beneath a Horse-Thief Moon by Elizabeth Clements is the first in the Prairie Moon Trilogy.  Check it out!!

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Blurb:

U.S. Marshal Chase Reynolds is on a mission—to track down an escaped train robber, even if it takes him into the wilds of Canada! Hot on the outlaw’s trail, he follows him into the Canadian West—and encounters more than he bargained for when he’s taken prisoner by a beautiful woman.

Sara Cranston is trying to hold on to her ranch that a band of outlaws is determined to steal from her. A woman alone, she’s “easy pickin’s”—and this ruthless crew is after more than the ranch—there’s a legend of buried gold hidden somewhere on her land.

Sara and Chase have a shared past—one that is full of lies and secrets…and love. Seventeen years have gone by, and the passion is still there between them—but will deceit and mistrust keep them from the happiness they both crave?

Chase has a duty to bring in the outlaws, but now he must work fast to do it before they murder the woman he loves. Can he convince her the future is still theirs for the taking if they only survive to enjoy it? Anything can happen BENEATH A HORSE-THIEF MOON…

My review:

Anything worth having is worth fighting for -- and oh my goodness, did Chase have a fight on his hands to win his Sara and claim their hea!! But it was one that had amazing rewards and was so desperately needed for both of them.

I was immediately hooked once I started this book and I didn't want to have to put it down! This story delivered on all the emotions - laughter and swooning, sorrow and triumph. And getting to watch that connection between Sara and Chase as it sizzled and sparked....sometimes hot, sometimes cold, but always undeniable, so totally worth it!

I loved Chase's heart and stubbornness. He was the perfect compliment to Sara. He made me laugh and happy sigh over and over again.

I loved Sara's heart and strength. She held things together and refused to be beaten down. Her heart was so filled with love that despite the way she struggled with expressing it, it was a thing of beauty.

I needed a moment to catch my breath after experiencing Chase and Sara's journey to their happily ever after. This is definitely one story that will stick with me and has a place on my favorites shelf.

~~~~~~

And I'm not the only one who loves it! 

I loved this heartwarming adventure from talented debut author Elizabeth Clements.
—Jacquie Rogers, author of the Hearts of Owyhee series

Get it here:


Thursday, April 12, 2018

New Release -- Beneath a Horse-Thief Moon (Prairie Moon Trilogy) by Elizabeth Clements @prairierosepubs #westernromance

U.S. Marshal Chase Reynolds is on a mission—to track down an escaped train robber, even if it takes him into the wilds of Canada! Hot on the outlaw’s trail, he follows him into the Canadian West—and encounters more than he bargained for when he’s taken prisoner by a beautiful woman.

Sara Cranston is trying to hold on to her ranch that a band of outlaws is determined to steal from her. A woman alone, she’s “easy pickin’s”—and this ruthless crew is after more than the ranch—there’s a legend of buried gold hidden somewhere on her land.

Sara and Chase have a shared past—one that is full of lies and secrets…and love. Seventeen years have gone by, and the passion is still there between them—but will deceit and mistrust keep them from the happiness they both crave?

Chase has a duty to bring in the outlaws, but now he must work fast to do it before they murder the woman he loves. Can he convince her the future is still theirs for the taking if they only survive to enjoy it? Anything can happen BENEATH A HORSE-THIEF MOON…

I loved this heartwarming adventure from talented debut author Elizabeth Clements.
—Jacquie Rogers, author of the Hearts of Owyhee series

EXCERPT

Whistling Blaze over, Chase pulled rawhide strips from his saddlebag and hobbled the outlaw. There wasn't much he could do about the man's wounds except clean them with water from his canteen. Folding his handkerchief over the bloody stumps, he bound them with the man's bandana.
“I'd just as soon see you bleed to death,” Chase muttered to the unconscious man. “One less outlaw. But dead men tell no tales. And I want to hear all about your rustling partners.”
Murmuring to calm the skittish tethered horse, Chase slung the outlaw across the saddle and tied him down with a rope. He did the same with the dead man, although neither was a featherweight. His shoulder throbbed and burned like hell. Blood trickled inside his sleeve.
“Hold it right there,” a familiar voice growled behind him.
Damn, I'm getting old if a woman gets the drop on me twice in one night.


    

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Why is Friday the 13th unlucky? by Kaye Spencer #PrairieRosePubs @PrairieRosePubs #superstions #Fridaythe13th


Friday the 13th — A date for the superstitious to keep a low profile.

According to that model of excellence in accuracy, Wikipedia, Friday the 13th occurs at least once a year, and can occur up to three times in one year. For 2018, the dates are April 13th and July 13th. Also, according the Wikipedia article, there are many origin stories for the superstition surrounding Friday the 13th.

It appears that, historically, there is ‘…evidence of both Friday and the number 13 being considered unlucky, [but] there is no record of the two items being referred to as especially unlucky in conjunction before the 19th century”*. This article also states that an estimated 21 million people in the U.S. are seriously affected by this day and they are unable to go about their normal activities.  Businesses, particularly airlines, report millions of dollars in lost revenue on any given Friday the 13th.

While Friday the 13th is a superstition, it is not a worldwide superstition. Other days of the week are associated with the number 13 in different cultures.

Apparently, the origins of the superstitions surrounding Fridays and the number 13 are found in the ancient world. Here are a few of the more interesting examples from an article on the website National Geographic News, Reporting Your World Daily – April 12, 2004**:

  • In a Norse myth, 12 gods had a dinner party at Valhalla. In walked the unlucky number 13 guest: Loki. Loki wreaked havoc by “…arranging for the blink god of darkness, Hoder, to shoot Balder the Beautiful, the god of joy and gladness, with a mistletoe-tipped arrow… Balder died and the whole Earth got dark. The whole Earth mourned. It was a bad, unlucky day…From that moment on, the number 13 has been considered ominous and foreboding”.
  • Biblical reference to 13 as unlucky in that Judas was the 13th guest at the Last Supper. There are numerous other biblical references.
  • Ancient Rome’s superstitions for the number 13 involve the belief that witches gathered in twelves and the thirteenth was the devil.
  • Numerology: There is a negative association with the number 13. As 12 is considered a complete number (12 months in a year, 12 signs in the zodiac, 12 gods on Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles of Jesus), 13 is considered ‘a little beyond completeness…restless and squirmy’.
  • High rise buildings often skip the 13th floor.
  • Airports will avoid having a 13th gate.
  • Hospitals and hotels tend not to have a room marked 13.
  • In some countries/cities, if a house address should be 13, it will be designated 12½.
Two older literary sources regarding Friday and/or the number 13 as unlucky are:
  • Chaucer wrote of Friday being an unlucky day to undertake a journey or to begin a new project in the Canterbury Tales*.
  • Thomas W. Lawson's 1907 novel Friday, the Thirteenth in which “…an unscrupulous broker takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th”*.
The origin story that I find the most intriguing is the persecution of the monastic military order the Knights Templar. In 1307, King Philip IV of France in collusion with Rome and the Pope ordered the arrest of hundreds of members of the Knights Templar, which resulted in their ultimate demise, so to speak. Here is an oh-so-painfully brief and white-washed summary:

As the Crusades came to an end, the Templars had gained wealth and power. King Philip, as head of an impoverished kingdom, and in collusion with the Pope in Rome, not only viewed the Templars with suspicion of their intentions to gain even more European power, they viewed their wealth as a ‘get out of debt card’. So, ‘evidence’ of Templar heresy toward the church popped up and, in an amazing feat of clandestine planning and orchestration, King Philip and the Pope had hundreds of Templars simultaneously arrested in diverse locations. They were charged with all manner of heresy, blasphemy, and sacrilegious offenses, none of which were ever proven. All of the accusations were fabricated and confessions were gained under duress and torture. Nonetheless, the Templars’ assets were seized in a masterful move fueled by  jealousy of their wealth and fear of their power.

The date was Friday, October 13, 1307.



So, if you’re worried about staying safe from the unluckiness of the upcoming Friday the 13th in two days, here are ways people throughout the ages have protected themselves:

  • Wake up on the right side of the bed
  • Sleep facing south
  • Carry an acorn in your pocket
  • Avoid black cats


  • Wear your clothes inside out
  • Pick up a penny (heads up or tails up)
  • Don’t walk under a ladder
  • Make a wish on a wishbone
  • Don’t open an umbrella indoors

  • Don’t step on cracks in the sidewalk
  • Throw salt over your left shoulder
  • Stand on your head and eat a piece of gristle
  • Sprinkle salt in the corners of rooms and underneath windowsills
  • Burn sage in your house


  • Climb to the top of a mountain or skyscraper and burn all the socks you own that have holes in them
  • Light a white candle in a white dish with a cup of water nearby – candle burns, negative energy is absorbed into the water
  • Wear red
  • Carry a rabbit’s foot (obviously not so lucky for the poor rabbit)
  • Knock on wood (doesn’t bring good luck, but keeps bad luck away)
  • Hang up a horseshoe (ends pointing up) – iron, not aluminum – iron counters all evil and keeps harm away


And the number one safety precaution to take on Friday the 13th is NOT to break a mirror, because the broken mirror represents the broken soul, and a mirror is said to reflect a person’s soul. Hence, your soul, which is now in pieces, will bring you seven years of bad luck and misery in its desire for vengeance for breaking it into pieces.


Do you have Friday the 13th superstitions or favorites you’ve heard of? Share them…if you dare.



Until next time,

Kaye Spencer
Writing through history one romance upon a time

Website/Blog- https://www.kayespencer.com
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YouTube Channel - https://www.youtube.com/c/kayespencer0203


Images from Morguefile.com:
Clover: Michelle Bulgaria
Horseshoe: Seeman
Cat: lisaleo
Mirror: Dee

Knights Templar image:
Public Domain: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Knights-templar.jpg


References:
-NPR: https://www.npr.org/tags/136274257/friday-the-13th
-The Criminal Element website:
https://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2013/09/friday-the-13th-evolution-of-a-thirteenth-superstition-history-myth-literature-deborah-lacy
-*Friday the 13th: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friday_the_13th
-**National Geographic News: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/02/0212_040212_friday13.html
-*Knights Templar: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Knights_Templar