REVIEW: Death in Provence by Serena Kent

 

Death in Provence

Blurb

When Penelope Kite swaps her humdrum life in Surrey for a picturesque farmhouse in the south of France, she imagines a simple life of long lunches and chilled rosé . . . What she doesn’t imagine is the dead body floating in her swimming pool.

Convinced that the victim suffered more than a drunken accident, Penelope plunges headlong into local intrigue and long-simmering resentments to uncover the truth.

But with a meddling estate agent, an unfriendly Chief of Police, a suspiciously charming Mayor, and the endless temptation of that second pain au chocolat, life in the delightful village of St Merlot is certainly never simple.

 

Review

I so enjoyed Death in Provence.

Although I’m still to visit Provence, I’ve always loved the locale, the colours, and the lavender. This story brings them all out and I loved it.

It’s a light-hearted murder mystery, filled with intrigue and laughs. A loved the characters. The main character, Penelope Kite is a wonderful, older woman, clever, and determined to discover why there was a body in her swimming pool. Not what she expected when she bought a home in the small village of St Merlot.

This is a perfect holiday read. Escape to the sunshine. I highly recommend it.

 

 

 

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The Thornton Mysteries – New Short Story

 

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2018 is nearly over but not before I enjoy the Christmas Season with family and friends.

This year has been amazing for me. I was and still am over the moon to have been signed by Crimson Cloak Publishing for four books in The Thornton Mysteries series.

Some of you have read The Dragon Sleeps. Crimson Cloak Publishing will be publishing it, followed by The Inca’s Curse.

Because it will be a while before my books are released, I’ve written a short story, with the intention to write a couple more, featuring Alexandra Thornton and Edith Blackburn.

It’s titled, Alexandra & Edith’s Escapades – The Diamond Ring.

This short story, in a PDF format, is free to download on my website. Simply click on the link and download it.

You can join my newsletter while you’re there or browse through some of my photo galleries but there’s no obligation to do so. 

I hope you enjoy The Diamond Ring.

If you like it, please leave a comment here or on my website.

http://www.ellenread.com

The Thornton Mysteries – Book 3, Draft 2

I’m very pleased to have finished the Second draft of Book 3 of The Thornton Mysteries.

It’s set in the Barossa Valley, northeast of Adelaide, in South Australia, which is an area known for its superb wines. Shiraz grapes are the local speciality.

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Barossa Valley.  Photo by Ellen Read

 

The stone cottages and Lutheran churches throughout the region owe their heritage to a 19th-century wave of German settlers.

My story is also set in Handorf, a beautiful little town, closer to Adelaide. Its German history can be traced back to 1838 when George Fife Angas, a director of a South Australian company, made a trip to London to promote colonisation. During his trip he met Pastor Kavel who was helping German Lutherans, being persecuted by the King of Prussia, to immigrate to safer places.

 

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Photo by Ellen Read

Set in 1928, the Handorf in my story has become Ambleside. Because of the Great War 1914-1918 (World War I), the government changed the name of the town because it sounded too German.

An interesting point I discovered in my research is that Handorf/Ambleside residents were not interned during the war, unless they posed a threat because of strong German allegiances. Anyone who was interned, however, was deported to Germany after the end of the war.

Four days ago at 11.00am on the 11 November, was the 100th Anniversary of the signing of the Armistice, the agreement that warring parties would stop fighting.

In my book, the Thornton family go to the Barossa Valley as Benedict’s parents have a vineyard and winery. Alexandra wants to discover why they rejected Benedict after he returned home from the war.

This was Benedict’s war and he suffers nightmares from the horrors of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Page – Crimson Cloak Publishing

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I am so thrilled to have my own page on my publisher’s website.

Crimson Cloak Publishing

My first two books are with my publisher.

Book 1 – The Dragon Sleeps

Book 2 – The Inca’s Curse

Book 3 – I’m working on it now.

Book 4 – To follow

The Next Steps after a Publishing Contract

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As writers, it would be wonderful to always stay in our own little bubble and write. Perhaps a cave, as long as there was enough light to see. Or a sanctuary with a view, overlooking the ocean, or a rainforest or even a beautiful garden. Reality won’t allow it though, and we have to peek out sometimes and see what is going on out there, knowing full well that it isn’t as interesting as anything going on in our heads.

For me, hand in hand with a passion to write, was the desire to be published. When I moved towns just over three years ago, I write Love The Gift, a time-slip novella, which I self published. I then started The Dragon Sleeps, book one in The Thornton Mysteries Series. I went down the road of self publishing with it as well – a way that is not easy. I’m pleased I did this, as I have met so many wonderful people along the way.

By the time I had finished writing book two, I realised I wanted try for a traditional publisher. I had come so close many years ago, in another life, when I had an agent in London. Things didn’t work out, even though I received a verbal offer to publish a book I’d written back then.

This time I had success. A publisher, US company Crimson Cloak Publishing, said they would publish book two. But where was book one? After reading it, they said they’d publish it also. In the end, my contract was for four books. I was ecstatic!

My first steps, onto a new publishing path, started straight away with a media kit and an interview to do for the publisher. Why did I write? Why did I write this book? Tell me about your characters. What motivated you? And so many more questions. It made me think hard about…everything. Difficult to do but it was great to go over everything.

So, now these have been sent to the publisher. What’s next? So much more, but for now back to writing book three in The Thornton Mystery Series.

Book Two Title Reveal : The Thornton Mysteries

I’m very pleased to announce the title of Book Two in The Thornton Mysteries Series.

THE INCA’S CURSE

 

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In the 1850’s, Daylesford, in Country Victoria, found itself in the grip of a gold rush. Thomas Thornton Senior made his fortune during those days, as did his friend, Aquilino Bassetti. Giacomo Rigoni remained a dirt miner before he worked for Thomas Thornton Senior.

By 1928, when the Thorntons visit Wombat Hill Manor, their holiday home, tucked into the side of Wombat Hill, Daylesford’s new ‘rush’ is spring water. Mount Franklin, which most Australians know for its spring/mineral water, is close by.

The Thorntons have kept their gold mines in operation, but others, like the Bassettis, have gone into the hotel business. Hungry miners have to eat and drink. In 1928, the Bassettis still own an hotel, cheese factory and mineral springs. The Rigonis remain at Wombat Hill Manor as caretakers and staff.

Through the years, the Inca’s curse has insidiously filtered through the generations, killing with its touch, until at the end, it nearly tears three families apart.

BLURB:  Inca’s Curse – Book 2  is set at the Thornton’s holiday home in Daylesford, country Victoria. Alexandra and Benedict are no sooner there, than Alexandra’s pearls are stolen. Two murders follow. A girl’s body thrown into a lake. The second body is found at the bottom of a collapsed gold mine tunnel.

What do these have to do with the drowning of Thornton Antique’s acting manager in Melbourne?

Then, Alexandra discovers an old love letter written by her grandfather, along with a necklace that is missing a large diamond.

Are the rumours about a cursed necklace true? Can a curse cling to an object and unleash its power through the decades?

Alexandra must discover the truth before more people are killed.

 

REVIEW TIME: Sleeper’s Castle

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Sleeper’s Castle by Barbara Erskine.

Blurb:

Two women, centuries apart. One endless nightmare tearing Wales apart – and only they can stop it.

Hay-On-Wye, 1400 – War is brewing in the Welsh borders, Catrin is on the brink of womanhood and falling in love for the first time. Her father is a soothsayer, playing a dangerous game playing on the mixed loyalties and furious rivalries between welsh princes and English lords. For two hundred years, the Welsh people have lain under the English yoke, dreaming of independence. And finally it looks as though the charismatic Owain Glyndwr may be the man legend talks of. In the walls of Sleeper’s Castle, Catrin finds herself caught in the middle of a doomed war as she is called upon to foretell Wales’s destiny… And what she sees, is blood and war coming closer…

Hay, 2015. Miranda has moved to Sleeper’s Castle to escape and grieve. Slowly she feels herself coming to life in the solitude of the mountains. But every time she closes her eyes her dreams become more vivid. And she makes a connection with a young girl, who’s screaming, who’s reaching out… who only Miranda can help. Is she losing herself to time?

My thoughts:

Sleeper’s Castle enthralled and enchanted me from the very beginning. Barbara Erskine effortlessly weaves together the two eras of this time-slip story. I loved the references back to the ancient druids and their sacred dreaming.

There’s magic and mystery, a hint of romance, wild Welsh countryside, and mysterious characters, such as Meryn, who is mentioned in the beginning of the story. When he makes an appearance, he still carries an aura of the unknown about him. Not to mention, Pepper, the condescending cat that believes he really own Sleeper’s Castle.

I love the historical side of the story, which follows the life of Owain Glyndwr, Prince of Wales, who waged a campaign to free Wales from the English yoke.

Sleeper’s Castle is the pivotal link. The house is an extra character in the story, with its own past, tragic tales and hopes for the future. However, it’s the stories of Miranda (Andy) and Bryn, in the present day, and Catrin and Edmund in 1400 that held me all the way through, along with the suspense engendered by a crazy ex-wife out for blood.

This is a fantastic read. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and highly recommend it.

5 STARS

The House behind Thornton Park

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When I first thought of writing The Dragon Sleeps and needed a grand house for the Thornton’s family home, Werribee Park and mansion in Victoria came to mind. I’d first visited it years earlier and always intended to include a house like it into a story. 

I thought you might like to read something about the house behind my Thornton Park.

Werribee Park is approximately 10 hectares of manicured gardens and native woodland. There is Werribee Mansion, which is next to the Victorian State Rose Garden, and also Werribee Open Range Zoo.

Many people think that Australia’s history is not as rich as England’s or Europe‘s and that we don’t have grand houses and gardens. They haven’t seen Werribee Park. 

Scottish brothers Thomas and Andrew Chirnside, built the Italianate styled mansion over three years, from 1874 to 1877. They had made their fortune in Australia’s developing agricultural industry, so had the wealth to construct such an elaborate residence. 

It’s intriguing to note that there was a romantic triangle here. Some years earlier, Thomas had proposed marriage to Andrew’s wife Mary, who was also their first cousin. The mansion was built by the brothers for Mary, who held both their hearts.

It is sad that Thomas committed suicide in 1887 from depression. Andrew died in 1890. Werribee Park was left to Andrew and Mary’s children, with Mary residing in it for the remainder of her life. 

In 1923 the property was sold to the Roman Catholic Bishops of Australia, where it became a seminary, a place of reflection and spiritual development, named Corpus Christi College.

Today, the mansion is open to the public. It also has an adjoining hotel and spa. Visitors can experience the grandeur of Werribee Mansion, discover Victoria’s unique pastoral history down at the farm and homestead, or have a picnic on the Great lawn surrounded by stunning formal gardens.

It’s located 30 minutes from Melbourne by car.

Mrs Preston’s Kitchen

Thank you to Michael Chrobak for inviting me to write a guest post for his blog.

Please visit his link below.

https://eatingwrite.weebly.com/guest-blogs/mrs-prestons-kitchen

Merry Christmas and Season’s Greetings to Everyone

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You may wonder why I have a wombat in my photo. This is Waddles. I bought him in Daylesford when I was researching my next book. So what does a wombat have to do with a cozy murder mystery?

My next book, the second in The Thornton Mysteries is set in Daylesford, Victoria, Australia, where the Thorntons have a holiday home. It isn’t as grand as Thornton Park but it’s a large house set into the side of Wombat Hill. There’s the clue. Daylesford, in its gold mining days, was called Wombat.

I first went to Daylesford about ten years ago. It’s set in the Macedon Ranges and is a favourite spa town. The area is known for its mineral springs. Mt Franklin, which most Australians know of, is about a twenty minute drive away.

The Thornton’s home is Wombat Hill Manor, and just as I did with Thornton Park, I based Wombat Hill Manor on a real building. It was initially built as a private residence and later sold to the Catholic Church as a Convent.

It’s now The Convent Gallery, beautifully restored as an art gallery and restaurant/cafe. If you go to Daylesford, I recommend going there. It’s about a one hour drive from Melbourne and worth the trip.

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I’ve been to Daylesford twice this year, the first time to do research for my book. The second time was after I finished my first draft and I wanted to check on some details.

This year has been a busy one. The two trips to Daylesford. A trip to Adelaide and the Barossa Valley, which besides being a wonderful holiday, was also research for book three. For those who don’t know, the Barossa Valley in South Australia is famous for it’s wineries. I’ll be starting book 3 early in the new year. You’ll remember from reading The Dragon Sleeps that Benedict’s family own a vineyard in South Australia. There’s a hint about book three.

I’ve not long returned from a trip to Hawaii. It was another fabulous holiday with my family. I thought I can’t go to such a location and not write a book set there. I didn’t have any ideas for a story when I arrived but I had the start of Book 4 before I left. My dilemma was why would the Thorntons want to go to Hawaii. Book two is set in 1928. Book three in 1928 also. So why in 1929 would they want to travel so far? The reason came to me. I was so pleased! Originally, I intended writing three books but now book four is on the schedule.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends and I wish you a Happy New Year.