Thursday, August 4, 2022

A Coup of Tea (+ Giveaway)

A Coup of Tea
By Casey Blair
(Tea Princess Chronicles, #1)
Publication date: August 2nd, 2022
Genres: Adult, Fantasy

When the fourth princess of Istalam is due to dedicate herself to a path serving the crown, she makes a choice that shocks everyone, herself most of all: She leaves.

In hiding and exiled from power, Miyara finds her place running a tea shop in a struggling community that sits on the edge of a magical disaster zone. But there’s more brewing under the surface of this city—hidden magic, and hidden machinations—that threaten all the people who’ve helped her make her own way.

Miyara may not be a princess anymore, but with a teapot in hand she’ll risk her newfound freedom to discover a more meaningful kind of power.

A Coup of Tea is the first book of the Tea Princess Chronicles, a cozy fantasy series full of magic tea, friendship, and lifting people up even when the odds seem impossible.

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EXCERPT:

She hands me a third cup, and I eye her mistrustfully, that unease back again and sharp.

“Earning your tablecloth,” she reminds me.

I smell the grassiness of the green tea before I taste it. But the flavor is so strange I can’t immediately identify the elements—she’s used aloia nectar not just as a sweetener, but to bind this mystery ingredient, and the result has a strangely smooth, nutty element. I frown at the cup and take another sip, swirling the tea in my mouth.

“So?” Lorwyn asks.

It’s much better than the other two, but this tea gives the impression of oozing—no, crawling through the grass—

I set the cup down abruptly. “Please tell me your mystery ingredient is not insectoid.”

Her eyebrows rise in surprise. “Wow. Okay, I’m impressed. Apparently the trekkers named them sleekbeetles. New species discovered in the Cataclysm. Talmeri bought crates of their scales.”

I am drinking beetle scale tea.

This morning I was a princess, and now I sit sopping in a tablecloth drinking beetle scale tea.

“Why?”

Lorwyn shrugs. “I’m sure they were cheap. Talmeri’s always on the lookout for novelty items to boast the most unique tea flavors in the city, and she also likes torturing me. Who can say which was the primary factor this time?”

I grimace. “Wonderful. A hitherto untasted bug. I hope it’s at least magically inert and you haven’t poisoned me?”

“Of course I didn’t poison you,” Lorwyn says. “I tasted it before you did. How could you tell it was beetle?”

“The grassiness of the green tea,” I say. “It’s too sharp. You need something mellower that’s still robust enough to hold up to the aloia nectar.”

Lorwyn slumps back—I’m not entirely sure how she manages to, since she’s sitting on a stool.

“Aloia is tricky,” she grumbles.

“Maybe it needs another note,” I say. “The aloia manages the beetle flavor into something nearly salvageable. Now you need a bridge between the aloia and the tea.”

Lorwyn bolts out of her stool. “Wait there!”

She returns with another small pot and a cup, adds them to the tea service. She lifts the pot to pour, and all at once I realize, beetle scales aside, what’s been bothering me.

The water from that kettle should not have correctly brewed different kinds of teas and tisanes. The temperature of the water has to have changed, and there are no cooling or heating devices anywhere near the table.

I glance around for a structure, anything she could have used to anchor magecraft. The stools aren’t in any particular order around the table, there are no candles, and the teacups are arranged for the taster’s benefit alone.

Which means this isn’t magecraft at all.

It’s witchcraft.

I promise I can maim you in any number of ways, she said.

Lorwyn holds a cup of tea out to me with an excited look on her face.

I’ve lost my wits. After realizing what she’s doing, it’s the only explanation for what I do next.

I take the cup, and I sip.


Meet the Author: Casey Blair

Casey Blair writes adventurous fantasy novels for all ages, and her serial fantasy Tea Princess Chronicles is available online for free. After graduating from Vassar College, her own adventures have included teaching English in rural Japan, attending the Viable Paradise residential science fiction and fantasy writing workshop, and working as an indie bookseller.

She now lives in the Pacific Northwest and can be found dancing spontaneously, exploring forests around the world, or trapped under a cat. For more information visit her website caseyblair.com or follow her on Twitter @CaseyLBlair.

Website / Goodreads / Twitter

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Doesn't this sound like a fascinating story. I'm a huge coffee drinker, but a enjoy a cup of tea now and then. Doesn't the cover just make you smile and want a cup of tea?

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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

A Dress of Violet Taffeta

It’s a pleasure to share with you today the recent release of author Tessa Arlen’s A DRESS OF VIOLET TAFFETA (Berkley Trade Paperback Original; July 5, 2022), a sumptuous novel based on the fascinating true story of La Belle Époque icon Lady Lucile Duff-Gordon.

Lucy shattered the boundaries of fashion with her magnificently sensual and striking designs. She launched her fashion empire in the late 1890s as a way to keep her and her five-year-old daughter financially afloat after she was abandoned by her husband.

In a time when women from good families were expected to look beautiful and be content with producing children and running their elegant houses, this woman triumphed in the competitive London world of dressmaking and became the Queen of Haute Couture.

Lady Lucile Duff-Gordon was a female fashion icon, trailblazer, and survivor of the Titanic, yet very little has been written about her life and work.

This is the second historical fiction novel from Tessa Arlen, whose debut in the genre, In Royal Service to the Queen, received rave reviews from BuzzFeed, People Magazine, Parade, and Woman’s World.

A DRESS OF VIOLET TAFFETA

By Tessa Arlen
Fiction - Biographical
Berkley Trade Paperback Original
on sale July 5, 2022

The story: Lucy Duff Gordon knows she is talented. She sees color, light, and texture in ways few people can begin to imagine. But is the male-dominated world of haute couture, who would use her art for their own gain, ready for her?

When she is deserted by her wealthy husband, Lucy is left penniless with an aging mother and her five-year-old daughter to support. Desperate to survive, Lucy turns to her one true talent to make a living. As a little girl, the dresses she made for her dolls were the envy of her group of playmates. Now, she uses her creative designs and her remarkable eye for color to take her place in the fashion world—failure is not an option.

Then, on a frigid night in 1912, Lucy’s life changes once more, when she becomes one of 706 people to survive the sinking of the Titanic. She could never have imagined the effects the disaster would have on her fashion label Lucile, her marriage to her second husband, and her legacy. But no matter what life throws at her, Lucy will live on as a trailblazing and innovative fashion icon, never letting go of what she worked so hard to earn. This is her story.

Meet the Author: Tessa Arlen

Tessa Arlen is the author of the Woman of World War II Mysteries and the novel In Royal Service to the Queen.

Born in Singapore, the daughter of a British diplomat, she has lived in Egypt, Germany, the Persian Gulf, China, and India. She now lives with her husband in historic Santa Fe, where she gardens in summer and writes in winter.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Isn't it fascinating to read stories based on true events? Does it make it want to Google Lady Lucile Duff-Gordon to learn more about her? It does me! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Miss Aldridge Regrets

I’m delighted to share with you the news that today acclaimed British novelist Louise Hare delivers the first in an all-new series: MISS ALDRIDGE REGRETS (Berkley Hardcover; on sale July 5, 2022), a twisty, locked-room mystery set in 1936 aboard the Queen Mary.

In her US debut, Louise introduces readers to a delightfully flawed protagonist, Miss Lena Aldridge, a bold, brave, and clever multiracial jazz singer and actress who is never afraid to speak her mind or bend the rules, and who passes for white in a society that rarely celebrates Black women.

Despite her best efforts, Lena’s career hasn’t taken off as she has hoped. She’s mourning the loss of her beloved father and just scraping by, singing in a dull basement club in London, recently dumped by her married lover. So, Lena is thrilled when she’s approached by an American businessman who offers her a chance to cross the pond on the Queen Mary and become a Broadway star in New York.

Lena accepts the opportunity without a second thought. Just imagine—Lena, under the shining lights of Broadway! She’s never been to America, and after all, her life in London is hardly extraordinary. And an escape sounds even more appealing after she’s witnessed a brutal crime in the night club. But it never occurs to Lena that she may well be crossing the Atlantic alongside a killer.

Miss Aldridge sets sail alongside her new agent and a wealthy American family, who invite her to dinners and take her under their wing, never suspecting Lena’s true heritage. But when members of the family begin to drop dead, and the family doctor goes missing, Lena once more finds herself at the center of a murder investigation—and it’s looking more and more like the opportunity of a lifetime may in fact turn out to be her swan song.

Meet the Author: Louise Hare

Louise, a multiracial British woman like her protagonist, was inspired to pen MISS ALDRIDGE REGRETS by the works of Agatha Christie and Patricia Highsmith. While unfolding a well-executed mystery perfect for fans of Jacqueline Winspear and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Louise takes on issues like class, race, and women’s equality that continue to resonate almost 100 years after the action in the novel.

Louise’s debut novel, This Lovely City, was published in the UK to wide acclaim, and was a Between the Covers Book Club Pick on BBC Two. She has an MA in creative writing from the University of London. 

Thanks so much for stopping by today. This sounds like a great summer read. Doesn’t this synopsis just draw you in making you want to know what happens next?

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

When It Falls Apart (+ Giveaway)

I’m delighted today to welcome author Catherine Bybee to Thoughts in Progress as she launches her newest series with WHEN IT FALLS APART.

Brooke Turner has always had a complicated relationship with her father. But when his health takes a turn for the worse, she drops everything to care for him. He’s her dad, after all, and he needs her. What Brooke doesn’t anticipate is the unraveling of her long-term relationship and a cross-country move to San Diego’s Little Italy.

          Luca D’Angelo is the oldest of three children and a single father to a young daughter. When his mother rents the top floor of their house to Brooke, he’s angry. Who is this beautiful stranger with no ties to the neighborhood? Can she be trusted in such close proximity to his family?

          As Luca learns of Brooke’s difficult journey with her ailing father, his heart softens. And Brooke, who witnesses Luca’s struggle as a single parent, develops feelings for him, too. But when it all falls apart, will love heal their wounded hearts?

Now here’s an excerpt for your reading please followed by a bit of background on the author and the chance to enter a $50 Amazon gift card giveaway.


When It Falls Apart
Excerpt

“Oh my God, Carmen. He was standing at his car first thing this morning. Like ‘hop in, bella, let’s get stuff done today.’ Who does that?” 

Brooke had picked up the phone as soon as Luca was off in search of a dump guy. 

“We’re talking about the single, hot, Italian dad, right?” 

Brooke rolled her eyes. “Yes. Luca.” 

“Oy, oy, oy.” 

“Stop it. I need advice. And I need it before he gets back.” 

Carmen stopped teasing. “You don’t need advice. You need to relax. He sounds like one of the good ones. Let it happen.” 

Let it happen,” she mocked. “I don’t ‘let’ things happen. It happens to me and it’s never good.” 

“You didn’t used to be such a pessimist.” 

“Once upon a time the glass was half full. Not these days.” 

“Okay, Debbie Downer. You want my advice . . . here it is. Keep doing whatever it is you’re doing.” 

“I’m not doing anything. Zero effort.” 

“Really?” Carmen didn’t sound convinced. “Makeup . . . a nice dress?” 

Brooke hesitated. “Maybe . . . a little last night, but that was it.” 

Carmen chuckled. 

“Carmen!”

“Sorry. Okay . . . any red flags?” 

Brooke thought about that. “He loved his ex-wife.” 

“That’s a red flag?” 

“I guess not.” 

“Is he good to his mom?” 

Brooke looked back on the dinner the night before. “To the whole family. He takes being the oldest brother quite seriously.” 

“And his daughter?” 

All Brooke could do was smile. “Great dad. We should all be so lucky.” 

“He’s Italian, does he smoke?” 

“No.” 

“A lot of Italians smoke,” Carmen pointed out. 

“In Italy. The San Diego variety are less in that wheelhouse.” 

“That’s good.” Carmen sighed. “I don’t know what to tell you, Brooke. How does he kiss?” 

“He hasn’t kissed me,” Brooke nearly yelled. 

“Now then . . . we have a problem.” 

“There hasn’t been . . . I don’t even know if—” 

“Stop right there. He did not drive your sorry ass all the way to Upland to do grunt work all day if he wasn’t interested in kissing you, bellllaaa. More than that, you want him to.” 

Brooke closed her eyes, and even in her own head she couldn’t convince herself that Carmen was wrong. 

“Let it happen. You deserve some happiness, Brooke.” 

The van with the air conditioning repair guy pulled into the driveway. 

“I gotta go.” 

“I want a kissing update the next time we talk,” Carmen teased. 

“Love you,” Brooke said with a laugh.

“Back at ya, boo.” 

She hung up. 

Her best friend was such a dork.

Meet the Author – Catherine Bybee

New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee has written twenty-eight books that have collectively sold more than five million copies and have been translated into more than eighteen languages.

Raised in Washington State, Bybee moved to Southern California in the hope of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms.

She now writes full-time and has penned the Not Quite Series, the Weekday Brides Series, the Most Likely To Series, and the First Wives Series.

For more on Catherine and her writing, you can connect with her on the following links:

Website: http://www.catherinebybee.com 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCatherineBybee 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/catherinebybee 

Tik Tok: https://www.tiktok.com/@catherinebybee1 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2905789.Catherine_Bybee  

Now to enter the giveaway, you can click HERE or click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions.

Thanks so much for stopping by today during Catherine’s visit and being patient with my being absent from the web.  Doesn’t this sound like a intriguing and heart-warming story?


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