Monday 31 August 2020

Check out Jill Caugherty's fabulous book — Waltz in Swing Time #HistoricalFiction #America @JillCaugherty

Waltz in Swing Time
By Jill Caugherty

Growing up in a strict Utah farm family during the Depression, Irene Larsen copes with her family’s hardship by playing piano. Even when an unthinkable tragedy strikes, Irene clings to her dream of becoming a musician. When a neighbor's farm is foreclosed, Irene's brother marries the neighbor's daughter, who moves in with the Larsens and coaches Irene into winning leading roles in musicals. Clashing with her mother, who dismisses her ambition as a waste of time, Irene leaves home.
During a summer job at Zion National Park, she meets professional dancer Spike, a maverick who might be her ticket to a musical career. But does pursuing her dream justify its steep price?
Alternating between Irene’s ninetieth year in 2006 and her coming-of-age in the thirties, Waltz in Swing Time is a poignant tale of mother-daughter relationships, finding hope amidst loss, and forging an independent path.

The Coffee Pot Book Club


Highly Recommended

Read the full review HERE!

Pick up your copy of

Waltz in Swing Time

Amazon UK • Amazon US



Jill Caugherty


Jill Caugherty is the author of the novel WALTZ IN SWING TIME, set in Depression-era Utah.

Jill’s short stories have been published in 805Lit and Oyster River Pages, and her debut short story, “Real People,” was nominated for the 2019 PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers.

Jill holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Stanford University, an M.S. in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and an MBA with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School.

An award-winning marketing manager with over twenty-five years of experience in the high tech industry, she lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband and daughter.


Connect with Jill: Website • Twitter • Goodreads.

Welcome to Day #5 of the blog tour for The Promise #HistoricalRomance #WW2 @KathleenHarrym1 @cathiedunn


The Promise

A World War II Historical Romance

By Kathleen Harryman and Lucy Marshall

How far would you go to keep a promise?
In the heat of battle, one man's promise to another will be tested.

September 1939


As Britain is gripped by the fear and uncertainty of war, Tom Armitage stands to gain the one thing that he never thought possible - his freedom.

Rosie Elliot sees her future crumbling to dust as Will Aarons leaves Whitby with Jimmy Chappell to fight in the war. As she begins work at The Turnstone Convalescent Home, Rosie finds something she thought she had lost. Friendship. But friendship soon turns to love. Can this new love replace Will?

This is not an ordinary love story.

It's a story of love, loss, courage, and honour.
Of promises that must be kept or risk losing everything you've ever held dear.


Today we are stopping over on Cathie Dunn Writes... for a sneak-peek between the covers of The Promise.

Click HERE! 

Take a sneak-peek inside the covers of David Blixt's fabulous book — What Girls Are Good For #HistoricalFiction @David_Blixt

 What Girls Are Good For

By David Blixt

Nellie Bly has the story of a lifetime. But will she survive to tell it?

Enraged by an article entitled ‘What Girls Are Good For’, Elizabeth Cochrane pens an angry letter to the Pittsburgh Dispatch, never for a second imagining a Victorian newspaper would hire a woman reporter. Taking the name Nellie Bly, she struggles against the male-dominated industry, reporting stories no one else will—the stories of downtrodden women.

Chased out of Mexico for revealing government corruption, her romantic advances rejected by a married colleague, Bly earns the chance to break into the New York’s Newspaper Row if she can nab a major scoop – life inside a madhouse. Feigning madness, she dupes the court into committing her to the Insane Asylum on Blackwell’s Island.

But matters are far worse than she ever dreamed. Stripped, drugged, beaten, she must endure a week of terror, reliving the darkest days of her childhood, in order to escape and tell the world her story. Only, at the end of the week, no rescue comes, and she fears she may be trapped forever. . .

Based on the real-life events of Nellie Bly’s life and reporting, What Girls Are Good For is a tale of rage, determination, and triumph—all in the frame of a tiny Pennsylvania spitfire who refused to let the world tell her how to live her life, and changed the world instead.





From Chapter Forty-Four of What Girls Are Good For.


Feigning madness, Nellie Bly has gotten herself committed to the Insane Asylum on Blackwell’s Island. After being interviewed by reporters fascinated by “Nellie Brown,” Bly is left alone with the sole kind physician on the island, Dr. Frank Ingram.



“Dr. Ingram. May I ask you a personal question?”

“You may ask,” he said with a wary smile. “I’ll not promise to answer.”

“It is very impertinent,” I said. “You may re-evaluate my sanity.”

“I think you’d better ask it at once, then, don’t you?”

I looked at him gravely. “What does the H stand for?”

He blinked. “Excuse me?”

“Dr. Frank H. Ingram. What does the H stand for? Several of the girls are wondering, and they’ve taken to making wagers. Hamish is the favorite contender, but also Harrison, Horatio, Horace, and Homer.”

“Quite a fanciful list!” said Dr. Ingram, laughing. “I’m afraid it’s nothing so bold. In fact, I now hesitate to tell you. It will seem far too prosaic.”

“Then I think you’d better tell me at once, don’t you?”

He laughed, a real laugh, as one caught off guard. “Harold. Frank Harold Ingram.”

I nodded. “And did you always want to be a doctor?”

He puzzled for a bit. “I’m not sure I thought about it in those terms. My father was a banker, and expected me to follow in his footsteps. But when he died, the doctors were all helpless. I suppose I wanted to understand what they could not.”

“So you came to New York to study medicine. When was that?”

“About ten years ago.” Meaning he was about twenty-six or twenty-seven.

“What led you to mental disorders?”

“Is this your revenge? Is it my turn to be interrogated?” I employed the reporter’s trick of waiting, and at last he answered. “It is a field open to interpretation, and of sudden interest. If we are to understand people’s actions, we must understand their motives. Motive matters, Miss Brown. Motive is the key to understanding, and understanding is the key to empathy. We have so little understanding for our fellow man. So many cannot comprehend a problem unless they have themselves lived it. And people alienated from themselves are the most lost, and most in need of understanding.”

“Do you know the poet Joaquin Miller?” I asked.

“I don’t believe I do.”

“There is a line from one of his poems.” And I quoted:

In men whom men condemn as ill

I find so much of goodness still.

In men whom men pronounce divine

I find so much of sin and blot

I do not dare to draw a line

Between the two, where God has not.

The doctor had begun rearranging the chairs, returning them to their places. “I wish I knew more of poetry. So much truth in so few words.” He paused, a wistful smile on his face. “I had a professor at Bellevue who said what seemed to me to be the wisest proverb I shall ever hear. ‘It doesn’t matter what you choose to learn, so long as you learn to learn deeply.’ That, to me, is key. Once you have learned how to explore a subject, wring from it every ounce of meaning, you can then attack any subject with the same ferocity. It strikes me now that the same applies to empathy. Once you have learned to have compassion for one group of people, it is hard not to have equal sympathy for another group. Compassion is a bucket above a bottomless well. We can always find more, if we so choose. It only goes dry if we choose not to lower the bucket.”

“So you believe lack of compassion is a choice?”

“Not necessarily,” he said, lowering himself into a chair, properly distant from mine. “Not always. At first it is ignorance. An inability to look beyond one’s self. But from the moment that bucket is first dipped, from that time on, it is a choice. Once a soul has learned to have compassion for one downtrodden soul, it must be an active decision not to have compassion for another. Learning cannot be unlearned. It can only be ignored.”

“What allows people to ignore their compassion?”

“When they fear compassion will prove costly. Which it never is. Compassion is the best of humanity. It is the backbone of all good religion, and all good medicine. People turn their back on compassion when they feel they are losing control. So they label others not worthy of their compassion. Negroes. Immigrants. Women. The bankrupt. The diseased. People who are—”

“Inconvenient,” I supplied.


“I will tell you a secret, Doctor Ingram. Most of the women here are no less sane than you or I. Very few are a danger to themselves or to others. But here they are, because there is no other place for them. They are not mad. They are inconvenient.”

“Surely not!”

“You think not? I have been told often enough in my life that I am crazy. Crazy for not wanting to marry. For not wanting children. For wanting to work. For not wanting what I was supposed to want, and for wanting things denied to me. I was called crazy for being troublesome, loud, inquisitive—inconvenient.” I waved a hand to the walls around us. “That’s what all these women have in common. They are inconvenient. To their husbands, their children, their relations, their community. To society. They are inconvenient, and too poor to pay for that inconvenience. I doubt you have any rich ladies here on the island.”

“No,” he agreed with furrowed brow. “I doubt we do.”

“Madness in the rich is eccentricity. They can afford to be inconvenient. Think of that word, convenient. I find it insidious.”

“Why, what does it mean to you?”

“What does it mean to you?”

He rallied gamely. “I suppose it means easy. Comfortable. At hand. Something that requires no effort. A thing to make life easier.”

“That’s what the world wants women to be. A convenience. A balm to their hurts, a comfort to their nights, a grease to the tracks of their lives. Any woman who is not one of those things is damned as being mad. Crazed. Hysterical. Insane.

I fell silent, and Dr. Ingram stared as if trying to peer inside my head. “I confess, Nellie Brown, your case confounds me. You seem so very lucid, I wonder you are in here at all. I have no doubt that you have a hopeful future before you once you are released.”

“I fear that will never come so long as I am on Hall Six. The nurses there are wickedly cruel.” I recounted the worst offenses I had seen Miss Grady and Miss Grupe perform.

After two minutes Dr. Ingram held up a hand. “I know sometimes women have a difficult time getting along. It’s just something in your nature.”

“There it is!” I cried, rolling my eyes. “You refuse to believe what I say, because it would be inconvenient. It would disorder your world. Whereas if a man was beaten, choked, doused with ice water, he would be believed. You say a lack of empathy is a choice? What are you choosing right now, doctor?”

That brought him up short. For a moment he worried his lower lip. Then he said, “What if I were to transfer you to a quieter ward?”

“And Miss Neville and Miss Mayard, if you please. All three of us.”

“I’ll do what I can. Miss Mayard may be too ill. You said she had a fit this morning? She might be better off where she is.”

“I promise you,” I said, “she is not.”



Pick up your copy of

What Girls Are Good For

Amazon UKAmazon US

Add What Girls Are Good For to your ‘to-read’ list on




David Blixt

David Blixt's work is consistently described as "intricate," "taut," and "breathtaking." A writer of Historical Fiction, his novels span the Roman Empire (the COLOSSUS series, his play EVE OF IDES) to early Renaissance Italy (the STAR-CROSS'D series) through the Elizabethan era (his delightful espionage comedy HER MAJESTY'S WILL) to his Victorian age series following daredevil journalist Nellie Bly. His novels combine a love of the theatre with a deep respect for the quirks and passions of history. As the Historical Novel Society said, "Be prepared to burn the midnight oil. It's well worth it."

When not stuck home in a pandemic, David continues to write, act, and travel. He has ridden camels around the pyramids at Giza, been thrown out of the Vatican, been blessed by a pope, scaled the Roman ramp at Masada, crashed a hot-air balloon, leapt from cliffs on small Greek islands, dined with Counts and criminals, climbed to the top of Mount Sinai, and sat in the Prince's chair in Verona's palace. Yet David is happiest at his desk, weaving tales of brilliant people in dire and dramatic straits.


Living in Chicago with his wife and two children, David describes himself as "actor, author, father, husband. In reverse order."


Connect with David:

Website  Newsletter (with a Free Nellie Bly Novella for signing up!) Twitter.





Have a sneak-peek between the covers of Lesley Eames' fabulous book — The Orphan Twins #HistoricalFiction @LesleyEames


The Orphan Twins

By Lesley Eames


Torn apart as children, kept apart by war…


London 1910. When the death of their beloved grandmother leaves orphan twins Lily and Artie alone in the backstreets of Bermondsey they’ve never needed each other more. But fate offers a privileged life to one and only poverty to the other. Growing up apart in such different circumstances, can they ever be truly together again, especially after war explodes across the world and romance beckons?





January 1910

Lily entered the yard from the alley that ran behind the shabby little terraced house that was home. Seeing Gran at the kitchen window, she raised a hand in a wave only to realise that Gran was hunched over the sink in what looked very much like pain, her eyes screwed shut and her lips clamped tightly together.


Lily’s steps came to a halt as she was torn between rushing to darling Gran’s aid and allowing Gran her pride because Maggie Tomkins would hate to be caught out in what she was likely to consider weakness. Standing watching for a moment, Lily hoped Gran had simply stubbed her toe or received a minor burn from a hot iron. Despite that hope, the memory of Mum doubled up and coughing blood caused a chill to rise up Lily’s spine.


‘Cor, Lil! Dunno where it came from but it was a whopper!’ Artie burst into the yard behind her, having paused to inspect a caterpillar he’d noticed in the alley.


The noise roused Gran who looked up and straightened with a guilty air as though she’d been caught out in wrongdoing. Always hungry, Artie rushed into the kitchen for his dinner. Lily followed, but slowly. Thoughtfully.


‘Are you home for your dinners already?’ Gran said, wiping sweat from her forehead. ‘I wouldn’t have stood idle if I’d realised the time. But it’s hot in here with all this ironing and there’s only so much heat a body can take before she needs to catch her breath.’


She waved round the room at all the shirts she’d ironed. Two irons sat in the hearth warming up for the next lot.


Had she really only been catching her breath? Being a washerwoman was certainly back-breaking work. But Gran was pale instead of flushed and could easily have opened the door or window to let in a blast of freezing winter air if she’d needed to cool down.


Lily looked back at the shirts and wondered if there were actually fewer of them than normal. If Gran was ill, it stood to reason that she’d be unable to work as hard.


‘Let’s get some food inside you,’ Gran said.


‘I’ll fetch it,’ Lily offered quickly. ‘You put your feet up.’


‘Put my feet up when there’s work wants doing?’ Gran laughed, but Lily persisted.


‘Just for a minute or two. I’ve been sitting down at school all morning. I need to move around.’


‘Maybe I will sit down,’ Gran finally conceded. ‘But not for long.’


To Lily’s relief, Gran pulled out a chair that was tucked under the small kitchen table and sat. Lily moved to the cupboard where food was kept along with plates, cups and cutlery.  Inside she found a loaf on a wooden board which she carried to the table together with a knife before returning to the cupboard in search of something to put on the bread.


Artie loved the meat paste that came in round white pots but it had been a long time since they’d had any of that. Sometimes there was cheese but not today. There was butter but not much of it so Lily reached for the jam pot instead. Gran had made the jam from the blackberries Lily and Artie had gathered from any stray bush they’d been able to find in the autumn months but the jar was already half-empty and there weren’t any more. Less work meant less money coming in, of course, and that meant emptier cupboards.


Gran had been ill only twice before as far as Lily could remember. The first time, they’d all had upset stomachs and spent the day dashing outside to the privy. Gran had blamed a piece of mutton she’d cooked in a stew. ‘I’ll give that butcher a piece of my mind,’ she’d threatened, and as soon as she was well enough she’d marched into his shop to tell him what had happened.


‘’Course that mutton was off,’ she’d insisted when he’d argued. ‘You must have let it sit in the window too long.’


‘I didn’t!’


Gran had simply crossed her arms and waited.


‘Look, I’m not saying you’re right,’ the butcher had finally said, looking round at his other customers as though fearing they might take themselves and their custom elsewhere. ‘But I can see you’re out of sorts so, just to show I’m a man who likes to help his customers, I’ll make you a gift of a nice string of sausages.’


‘I’ll take some bacon too,’ Gran told him. ‘And the same again next week.’


Gran was afraid of no one but there’d been no free sausages or bacon the second time she’d been ill because there’d been no one to blame for her bad chest. The only wonder was that her chest hadn’t been bad more often considering they lived in a house that spent its days filled with steam and its evenings with the steam turning to drips downs walls and windows. Sometimes the drips turned to ice.


Lily decided to say nothing of her suspicions for the moment, seeing as Gran obviously didn’t want to worry them. Lily didn’t want Artie worried either. But she’d watch Gran carefully from now on and help as much as she could.


She cut a thick slice of bread for Artie as he was always so hungry. ‘Gran?’ Lily invited.


‘I’ll have mine later.’


Would she, though? Probably not, if food was in short supply. Lily was tempted to go without eating too but Gran would know then that she’d given the game away about being unwell. Her pride would be hurt as Gran liked her grandchildren to be both well-fed and well-shod. No running around in bare feet in all weathers for them. Artie would realise something was wrong as well. Reluctantly Lily cut a slice of bread for herself but made it a thin one. She spread jam liberally on Artie’s slice but added little more than a dab to her own.


She picked her slice up quickly to hide the lack of jam but Artie had already noticed. ‘I’ve got more jam than you,’ he pointed out. He was a sweet boy who liked to be fair.


‘You’ve got more growing to do,’ Lily told him, hoping a little good-natured teasing would distract him from the jam before Gran noticed it too.


Artie pulled a face. It was a sore point with him that Lily should be just thirty minutes older yet a whole two inches taller. ‘You a girl and all,’ he often complained.


Lily took after their father and Gran, being straight and slender with the near-black hair and blue eyes common among people from the Irish homeland Gran had left as a child – though Gran’s hair was white all over now. Artie was more like their gentle mother – small and soft with honey-coloured eyes and toffee-coloured hair.


‘Just wait until we’re eleven,’ Artie said now. ‘I’ll catch you up and leave you behind.’


‘We’ll see,’ Lily said, smiling, and she was glad to see Artie tuck into his bread with every sign of having forgotten his extra jam. ‘School was good this morning,’ she said, changing the subject before he remembered it. ‘Miss Fielding said she was pleased with my handwriting.’


‘You always write a nice hand,’ Gran said.


‘Davie was sick in my class.’ Artie grinned.


Lily looked at Gran and they both rolled their eyes. Boys laughed at the oddest things. ‘Poor Davie,’ Gran said.


‘He said he felt better afterwards. I think he did it on purpose because Mr Simpson has new shoes and—’


‘I think we’ve heard enough of Davie,’ Gran said. ‘You’ll put us off our dinners.’


Talk of Davie’s indisposition hadn’t put Artie off his dinner. He crammed his bread into his mouth and ate it hungrily. Lily ate hers more slowly then lifted the kettle onto the fire to save the cost of lighting the gas on the stove. It was a rare day when there wasn’t a fire in the kitchen hearth. Gran boiled most of the washing water on the stove in the big copper but the fire was used for extra water as well as for heating the irons and drying the washing, especially at this time of year when it could hang on the lines in the yard all day and still come in damp.


Gran looked out of the window where sheets billowed on the washing line like sails. ‘I’d better fetch that lot in,’ she said, hands flat to the table as she levered herself out of her chair.


To Lily’s eyes it seemed to require more effort than usual. Lily waited until Gran was outside then got up to return the loaf and jam to the cupboard. With her back to Artie so he couldn’t see what she was doing, she reached for the old tea caddy in which Gran kept their money. It felt worryingly light.


Replacing it, Lily took out cups and a small jug of milk. The rest of the milk was kept in the front parlour where it was cooler. They used their tea leaves three times before they gave them to Harold Finnegan on Grace Street to use on his allotment in return for occasional vegetables or rhubarb. It was a day for new leaves but Lily used the old ones again. There wasn’t much life left in them but hopefully Gran wouldn’t notice the tea was weak.


‘Any buttons to sew back on?’ Lily asked, as Gran returned with her arms full of washing.


Gran’s sight wasn’t what it had once been so sewing was a job Lily took on gladly.


‘A few. There’s a fallen hem that needs mending too.’


Artie drank his tea then wandered back outside to see if any of his friends were playing in the alley. Lily set to work with the sewing, glancing in Gran’s direction occasionally and noting the lines that cut crevasses into the ageing face. Gran was definitely under the weather but everyone felt under the weather sometimes and usually they got well again.


Not always, though. Dad had dropped dead unexpectedly due to a sudden bleed on his brain. Within a year Ma had fallen ill. Tuberculosis, the doctor had called it, though everyone else had called it consumption. Arrangements had been made for her to go to a sanatorium at the seaside where the air was cleaner but she’d been taken off by pneumonia before she could get there.


The cold lick of dread was back in Lily’s stomach. ‘Why don’t I stay at home this afternoon and help with the laundry?’ she offered.


‘And miss school? You’ll have one of those inspectors down on me for keeping you away from your book learning.’


‘We aren’t doing book learning this afternoon.’ More was the pity because Lily loved it. ‘We’re doing sewing and you’ve taught me all I need to know about that.’


‘You’re a quick one, that’s for sure. Your dad always said so.’


Lily remembered overhearing Dad saying exactly that and adding, ‘I wish Artie were half as quick. It doesn’t seem fair that a girl should have more brains than a boy when it’s Artie who’ll have to put food on the table when he’s older.’


Gran had pointed out that, as a widow, she’d been putting food on her own table for years as did countless other woman.


Pick up your copy of

The Orphan Twins

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Lesley Eames

Lesley has worked as a solicitor, event organiser and Marketing and Fundraising Development Manager for a charity but writing has been her passion since childhood.


Her first published stories were written for the women’s magazine market and she is now the author of three historical novels covering the years 1910 to the Roaring 20s. Having won the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Elizabeth Goudge Cup and the Festival of Romance’s New Talent Award, she was delighted when both of her first two books were shortlisted in the UK Romantic Novel Awards.

In addition to her own writing, Lesley is a creative writing tutor, mentor and editor. She lives in Hertfordshire where she loves spending time with family and friends while also dreaming up more fictional characters.


Connect with Lesley: