**FREE** PATCH MAN By Rick Stepp-Bolling **FREE** — Denna Holm

Get your FREE copy HERE A prophecy declares a small child will decide the victory between two countries paralyzed by war… An old man sells magical patches on the ruined streets of Hagra-Dis when a small, one-armed girl begs him to fix her doll. An Imperial missile blast kills the little girl, Meesha, but Var […]

**FREE** PATCH MAN By Rick Stepp-Bolling **FREE** — Denna Holm






“The Dragon Sleeps reminded me fondly of a classic whodunit novel and I see a few reviewers before me have compared this novel to an Agatha Christie offering, which is warranted. It also serves up a side story of romance and it gives us a fascinating glimpse into the art world, in particular the complicated antiques business. There are plenty of secrets to unlock, along with a hint of the supernatural to keep things interesting.”  Reader Review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

BLURB: A Dragon statue. An ancient sword. What treasure is worth killing for?

It’s 1927 in Victoria, Australia.  A hedonistic time after the Great War when young people knew they could enjoy life without the threat of war hanging over them. 
A time when women have more options opened to them.
There is a weekend house party at Thornton Park and Alexandra Thornton thinks it will be a good time to break the news to her father that she wants to be an antiques dealer, like him, her grandfather and great-grandfather before her.
Only a small number of people are invited. Amongst the guests are Zhang Huo, the Chinese antiques dealer who, with his son, has brought a Ming dragon statue from China for Thomas Thornton.
Benedict Archer, who is manager of Thornton Antiques in Melbourne and who has been secretly helping Alexandra learn more about her family business, is also invited. Alexandra asks Benedict and Edith Blackburn, her friend since childhood, to be with her when she approaches her father.
When Edith claims that Benedict is in love with her, Alexandra can’t believe it. In all the time 
they’d been at Thornton Antiques together, he’d never said a word. Now, Alexandra looks at him differently. Can it be true?

Then a body is found in the orchard and before the weekend is over, a priceless artefact is stolen. 
Alexandra is determined to discover how these things are connected to the Ming dragon and the antiques her great-grandfather brought with him from Hong Kong so many years ago.

What secret has remained hidden at Thornton Park
for the last eight years?


FREE for a LIMITED TIME on Amazon from 1st July to 5th July




Set in 1928 in Victoria, Australia. The Thornton family made its money in the goldfields during the 1850s and the antiques trade. Thornton Park is their lavish mansion close to Melbourne. They also own a home and a goldmine in Daylesford, in the heart of Victoria, where their close friends, the Bassetti family, are part of a thriving Swiss-Italian community.
Alexandra Thornton has married Benedict Archer. On their honeymoon in Daylesford, Alexandra’s pearls are stolen and within days there are two murders.
Back at Thornton Park, Alexandra discovers a secret compartment in a desk. Inside is a gold and diamond necklace and a letter written by her grandfather, James Thornton. It’s a love letter, Alexandra assumes written to his wife after her death. He claims the necklace is cursed. 
After further investigation, Alexandra uncovers the deaths of two miners at Thornton Goldmine. 
The family return to Daylesford where Thomas Thornton is accused of murder.
Alexandra is determined to work out how it all connects. 
What is the link to the Inca Emperor Atahualpa? Is it gold? 
Is gold the curse?


Visit Crimson Cloak Publishing, sign up for the newsletter, and receive a free copy of Den of Dragons, an fun anthology all about dragons. 

Prophecies, goddesses, legends, myths, lost love, new love…. A little bit of everything involving dragons can be found inside these magical pages. 
Included: “The Dragon Wakes” and “The Beached Whale” by Ellen Read 





A Quote + Podcast Review on The Dragon Sleeps — Pauline Reid

It’s as if a giant hand has sprinkled stardust over the black velvety dome of heaven Below is my podcast channel with the latest podcast, if you want to listen to The Dragon Sleeps podcast review, Episode 6 is the one you are looking for. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to […]

A Quote + Podcast Review on The Dragon Sleeps — Pauline Reid


I’m so pleased to announce the DEN OF DRAGONS Anthology is OUT NOW!

By Various Authors and Published by Crimson Cloak Publishing.

I have two short stories in it.

The Dragon Awakes – following Alexandra and the Thorntons in another mystery.


The Beached Whale is my debut children’s story. 

I have also read the other stories in the anthology and really enjoyed them. I’d certainly highly recommend this book. There is something for everyone. And, after all, who doesn’t love dragons. They can be frightening and others can be sweet.

My video is on YouTube if you’d like to take a look.

Book Review

Pauline Reid

Book Review by Pauline Reid ⭐ The Dragon Sleeps by Ellen Read

The Dragon Sleeps by Ellen Read
Book One of The Thornton Mysteries

Historical Fiction ( Australia – 1927 post or after WW1)
Cosy Mystery Murder/Romance

Thank you to Ellen Read for giving me an ARC of The Dragon Sleeps in return for an honest review. This book has been re-published by Crimson Cloak Publishing

My View On What This Book Is About
We open The Dragon Sleeps, and here we are, an invitation to a weekend party at Thornton Park. The hot topic is a brass Dragon…… it sits inside a velvet-lined box. An antiques dealer, Mr Zhang sold it to, Thomas Thornton, (Alexandra’s father) the owner of Thornton Antiques.

Edith wasn’t all that impressed with the brass Dragon and told Alexandra so. However, Alexandra felt she had to defend her father and said to Edith it…

View original post 837 more words


MRS PRESTON’S KITCHEN (The Thornton Mysteries)

Morning Tea


Miss Alexandra said to me, Mrs P … Miss Alexandra calls me Mrs P. Such a lovely young woman. I’ve seen her grow from a beautiful baby … wait, I’m getting off track. Edward, that’s my husband, Mr Preston, he tells me I waffle too much. Dear Edward, he only teases me. So, Miss Alexandra said why don’t you tell everyone about what you have for morning tea … especially this time, because of Anzac Day. Mr Benedict fought in the Great War. He was only a boy. So many boys killed. I think it upsets Miss Alexandra too much to talk about it.

I had to get my head on straight though to talk to you about it, too. I had to think when it all started. 1916 – that was the first Anzac Day. One year after all those poor boys and men died on Gallipoli Peninsula on the 25th April 1915. Anzac stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

Well, we had to commemorate the tragic loss of life. I remember that first Anzac Day. We held a Dawn Service here at Thornton Park, and in the afternoon, Mr Thornton opened the polo field up to the locals for a football match. Some people played tennis. Mr Preston told me later that services were held across Australia and our boys in Egypt had a sports day. To us Aussies, it’s the mateship that’s important.

Such a terrible time. The things I read in the newspaper about our poor boys. They landed at Gallipoli to knock Turkey out of the war but everything … now what’s that word …stalemated, that’s it. Eight months and over eight thousand soldiers killed.

I remember on other Anzac Days, the 25th April became the day we remember the sacrifice of all those who had died in war. Ooh I can’t think of it without crying. Miss Alexandra always gives me a kiss on the cheek when I get upset. Edward tells me to pull myself together … but it upsets him to remember, too. Those Anzac boys were courageous and have left a strong legacy.

By now, you’re probably wondering about morning tea. At Thornton Park, we have Anzac biscuits. Like the poor boys in the trenches ate. They weren’t called Anzac biscuits then. The boys called them the Soldiers Biscuits. Food took a long time to reach the boys and there wasn’t any refrigeration then. Not like I have here now. Mr Thornton bought me one of those new ice boxes. So, food had to last. Like hard tack, bully beef – tinned corned beef, rice and tea. That’s what fed the army.

I always make Anzac Biscuits. It’s so easy – rolled oats, plain flour, sugar, butter, golden syrup or treacle, coconut, bi-carbonate of soda, and boiling water. I like to make the original recipe. I’ll let you have a copy of it. I had it from a friend of a friend.

I hope you’ll enjoy a cuppa and an Anzac biscuit now with me. Mr Preston and Harry just served the family. I made some jam tarts to go with the biscuits.

I’ll see you next time. After I’ve finished my cuppa, I have to think what to prepare for lunch.




1 cup each of plain flour, rolled oats, coconut and sugar

4 ounces butter

1tablespoon treacle or golden syrup

2 tablespoons boiling water. (Add a little more if the mixture is dry)

1 teaspoon bi-carbonate soda


1 Grease tray and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

2 Combine the dry ingredients.

3 Melt together butter and golden syrup. Combine water and bi-carbonate-soda – add to butter mixture

4 Mix butter and dry ingredients.

5 Drop teaspoons of mixture onto tray.

Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden.

Allow to cool on tray for a few minutes before transferring onto cooling racks.

Makes approximately 35 biscuits.

(This is from an original recipe by Mr Bob Lawson, an ANZAC present at the Gallipoli landing.)



The Thornton Mysteries

When writing a book set in the 1920s, the first thing you realise is there is a lot of research to do. The Dragon Sleeps is a murder mystery, the first in The Thornton Mysteries.

The family home, Thornton Park, is a lavish mansion. There are servants and a definite upstairs downstairs scenario. Fashions, music and cars aside, I found the need to research food. What would the family eat in 1927? What did the servants eat?

Mrs Preston is the cook at Thornton Park. Not a chef, but she’s as meticulous and proud of her culinary achievements, as any chef in a restaurant would be. She manages the menus and the kitchen staff to perfection. She does discuss the family menus with Alexandra Thornton, who is mistress of the house.

Kedgeree - photo credit

On an average day, the family is served breakfast in the morning room. This usually entails dishes such as Kedgeree served with softly scrambled eggs. This is a British recipe, as much of Australian food was at that time. Kedgeree originated in India, during the British Colonial days. At a time before refrigeration, it allowed cooks to use leftovers from the night before to make into appetising breakfast dishes.  Essentially the ingredients are boiled rice, chopped hard-boiled egg, cold minced fish, fried in one pan and flavoured with herbs.

Strawberry jam on English muffins w Credit

Sausages are also a much-loved breakfast fare, along with English muffins and toast, served with marmalade and strawberry jam. All served with tea or coffee.

Royal Albert tea set 02a


For the servants of Thornton Park, Mrs Preston always cooks a whole grain oatmeal or porridge, whether it be summer or winter. The servants need a hearty breakfast to sustain them for the long hours ahead.

Servants Hall OatmealSQ-600x600


Now, there’s morning tea to think of. What will Mrs Preston serve?



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You can purchase The Dragon Sleeps from the following:

Amazon    http://myBook.to/DragonSleeps

Book Depository

Barnes and Noble




Better World Books

Chapters Indigo

You can follow Ellen on the following


The Dragon Sleeps

Thank you so much to Karen’s Book Buzz Blog.

Magic Reviews

Screen Shot 2019-11-19 at 11.23.28Genre Mysteries/Women Sleuths

Benedict Archer, who is manager of Thornton Antiques in Melbourne and who has been secretly helping Alexandra learn more about her family business, is also invited. Alexandra asks Benedict and Edith Blackburn, her friend since childhood, to be with her when she approaches her father.

Amazon UK
Amazon US


It was as if the room had wrapped its shadowy folds about her and shut out the world. As a child, she may have been afraid but now, she felt comforted, as if the room welcomed her. It was also the smell … that wonderful bouquet of aged paper, ancient artifacts and dust.
It called to something in her blood, perhaps the same call that had taken the first Thomas Thornton to Hong Kong, the same surge of excitement and wonder that ran through the veins of her grandfather and father.
It was the reverence of something…

View original post 187 more words