It’s release day!

A PERILOUS UNDERTAKING is out in paperback–don’t miss Veronica and Stoker’s second precarious Victorian adventure!

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Events this week! Don’t miss out–if you’re in the greaterĀ  NYC area, Sherry Thomas, Juliana Gray, and I are looking forward to meeting you!


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Sometimes you need something soothing

For bedtime soothing, there’s nothing better than a straight slug of plain whiskey. (Although it’s usually bourbon in our house because that’s husband’s preference and I never buy the stuff.) But I am eating and drinking QUITE clean right now which means no alcohol for the foreseeable future, and what’s a girl to do when she needs something relaxing and comforting? A cup of tisane. If you’ve seen MY COUSIN RACHEL or read the book, you might be twitching by now, but it’s cool. I haven’t poisoned anyone yet…

For my blend, I mix equal parts dried mint, marjoram, sage, and lavender. If you have trouble finding mint–and I do–you can always take a plain peppermint teabag with nothing in it but the mint and use the innards. Make sure the herbs are all dried but NOT powdered or you’ll just make a nice green mush. Use a tea infuser to brew the dried herbs into a cup of just boiling water until it turns a soft golden-green–five to ten minutes depending on your taste. NEVER add sugar, although a drop of honey is not the worst thing you could do.

Carry this to your bed and sip slowly.

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Something tasty for the TBR pile!

Today is pub day for Ashley Weaver’s latest Amory Ames novel! I have so enjoyed this series beginning with MURDER AT THE BRIGHTWELL. The third is out today–THE ESSENCE OF MALICE–and there was a short story set in Capri that dropped this summer if you want to be fully caught up on all of Amory and Milo’s adventures. Fun, stylish Golden Age perfect for fans of Nick and Nora or Tommy and Tuppence.

It’s also pub day for my sister in Victorian crime, Sherry Thomas! Her latest Lady Sherlock novel, A CONSPIRACY IN BELGRAVIA comes hot on the heels of her fabulous series debut, A STUDY IN SCARLET WOMEN. (Sherry and I will be doing two events in the NYC area later this month with Juliana Gray/Beatriz Williams. Come see us!) Highly recommended for Sherlock fans.

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We have a giveaway!

Check out this fabulous sweepstakes provided by my publisher! It features women who defy convention by authors you love–Amanda Quick, Joanna Bourne, Jennifer Ashley, and Sherry Thomas. Oh, and I’m in there too! Enter for your chance to win ALL FIVE books–A CURIOUS BEGINNING, THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, A STUDY IN SCARLET WOMEN, DEATH BELOW STAIRS, and THE SPYMASTER’S LADY. That’s a HEAP of good reading in one spot and I’m so happy to see Veronica hanging out with Irene, Charlotte, Kat, and Annique. Good luck and happy reading!

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Pondering their stories

So I’ve chatted from time to time here about interesting ancestors–interesting to me, anyway. I’ve always been fascinated with ancestral stories and how they shape us, the knowledge that some part of what and who we are is predetermined. To what extent, we may never know, but I’m intrigued by the latest secrets science is teasing out of strands of DNA. (Did you know that the DNA of people who have suffered tremendous trauma–the Holocaust, for example–is permanently altered and passed in its altered state to their offspring?) How much of their experience, their lives, their passions and dreads and talents and fears, reaches down to us?

When my parents had DNA tests done, the results were astonishing. Between the two of them, they had genetic material originating on four different continents. Their ancestral maps spread from Europe, across the Mediterranean to north Africa and along the Silk Road to southern Asia. A slender ribbon of North American Indian turned up in my mother’s line. But was it entirely unexpected? I have set books in locations I have never visited, lands I’ve never traveled, but the DNA map says my ancestors were no strangers to those places. Does something within us remember? If I stood on the top of a mountain astride the Caucasus, would it feel familiar? If I waded into the Bay of Bengal or touched the shores of Algeria, would I know I had come home?

Daphne du Maurier, one of my desert island authors, wrote: “As an individual living here and now I am only too well aware that I possess feelings, emotions, a mind and body bequeathed to me by people long since dead who have made me what I am.” That is the best explanation I’ve found for why I chase the stories of my ancestors. Every fact I discover about them is another puzzle piece to define me. Stories run in the blood, and the more of them I know, the more of me I know.

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We’ve got a sweepstakes!

My fabulous publisher is offering a chance to win a Veronica Speedwell library! That’s both Veronica books and an advance copy of A TREACHEROUS CURSE–10 runners up will receive advance copies of TREACHEROUS. Check it out and good luck!

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Have I got recs for YOU!

So ordinarily I save book recs for the newsletter, but I can’t stop myself. Last week I read one that was just SO IMPOSSIBLY GOOD, I had to share. Mackenzi Lee’s THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE is unspeakably delicious. I’ve seen it termed a YA historical, but if you’re not a usual YA reader or into historicals, don’t let either of those put you off from this book. It is complex but thoroughly accessible and rollicking good fun. I haven’t enjoyed a novel this much in years! (You might know Mackenzi from her stupendously fabulous #bygonebadassbroads hashtag on Twitter. If you haven’t checked out those threads, DO. Mackenzi tweets out the facts on women who were making the history you weren’t taught in school. There’s a book based upon the tweets coming next year and I cannot WAIT.)

Have I sold you on this book yet? Hope so! And if you are a writer, it’s doubly wonderful because I have never seen such a skillful job of handling characters who are gay, of color, or struggling with issues like feminism or disability in a historical setting. (And if you think that there weren’t gay people or people of color or feminists or disabled people in 18th-century Europe, then you NEED this book because I guarantee you there were all of those and more.) So, go and read and I’m not even going to say that I hope you love this book as much as I did because I’m convinced you will.

Now, for fans of Elizabeth Peters, THE PAINTED QUEEN just pubbed–the last Amelia Peabody adventure following Peters’ death. This one was technically written by Joan Hess from extensive notes and outlines left by Peters. (That’s my understanding, but I can’t swear to it…) I haven’t read RIVER IN THE SKY because that was the last book Peters wrote and I didn’t want the series to end. But with THE PAINTED QUEEN making her debut, I think it’s time to read to the end and bid a fond farewell to Amelia, Emerson, Ramses, and the gang who have provided me with so much pleasure during the last few decades.

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Ever wonder about the Templeton-Vane boys?

Well, reader Jenny did and she asked about them on Goodreads. Specifically, she wanted to know how they got their names. Here’s the link to read all about it. I explained the STAR TREK easter egg in one name but forgot to mention another homage: Merryweather is actually named for one of SLEEPING BEAUTY’s fairies!

Last post I shared a few of my favorite things right now, and I forgot my newest nail find: Essie’s TLC–Treat Love & Color. I grabbed a bottle from my local drugstore for about $10 and it’s been the perfect summer nail solution. It strengthens and brightens with barely-there color, and best of all it doesn’t chip! I add a fresh coat every few days and remove it to start clean after about two weeks. I always wear red on my toenails and red or silvery pearl on my fingernails so it’s nice to just give everything a break for a few months and go with a more natural look. I’m using the blush version which goes from undetectable to very slightly rosier than usual depending on how many coats I have on. This stuff is SUBTLE. But that’s just what I’m looking for during the summer when sun and chlorine and the great outdoors do their worst.

Reminder that the monthly newsletters go out on the 5th which means it’s almost time for the August edition–and there will be announcements! If you haven’t already signed up, be sure to drop your info in the handy form just to your right——->

(And, as ever, I do not share your information and emails only go out monthly.)


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Let’s have a dose of frivolous, shall we?

Yes, let’s. I haven’t raved about things I like in quite a long while, so let’s share a few products I’ve found recently that are aces.

*John Masters Organics Sea Salt Spray with Lavender. Okay, here’s a bit of truthful truthiness for you: my midlife hormones have decided to go frolicking in my follicles with the result that my formerly stick-straight hair has turned curly. Yep. THAT’S been quite an education. I now have to scrunch things and use dry shampoo. I have also found that curl sprays are fine, but BEACH sprays are the bomb-diggity. Unfortunately, most of them smell like you’ve just upended a 7th-grader’s spring break beach bag over your head. They’re full of faux coconut (“fauxconut”?) scents, which I can handle but only in small doses and never if I’m going to be near other actual humans. Enter this magic potion which smells like a SPA. It’s salty as seawater–I know this because I accidentally got it in my mouth–and it is divinely effective. It makes the curls bounce up but doesn’t make them gummy or sticky or any other candy-adjacent adjective. I buy mine at Ulta, and I even found a small spray bottle of it which is perfect for travel.

*L’Oreal Voluminous Superstar Mascara. You guys, this stuff is MY JAM. For years I used Lancome’s Cils Booster–a white mascara primer that did amazing things to my lashes. Now, L’Oreal, Lancome’s drugstore sister, has made what I swear is exactly the same product available in a duo with their Voluminous mascara. I could not be happier about this. I buy it in brown/black because the darker versions are straight up Goth black, but whichever you choose, you’ll love the convenience of having the two products at hand. It’s superb for travel.

*Revlon Kiss Balm. Revlon’s new answer to Maybelline’s Baby Lips, this comes in a delectably retro strawberry that throws me right back into the summer BEAUTY AND THE BEAT was charting and I was spending all my money on Sea Breeze and Sun In. Tinted balm is the perfect answer when you’re looking for a little color and a lot of hydration, so–I know I sound like a broken record here–it’s great for travel!

*Breathe Magazine (UK). My pal Stephanie dangled this in front of me, and I was hooked! I’m a sucker for a good bookazine, and this one is tranquil and mindful and all those other soothing words we’re trying to shoehorn into our lives. Like most imported bookazines, it’s not cheap, but for restful reading while you’re lying on a sun lounger it can’t be beat. I found my copy at Barnes & Noble, and you can also follow on Instagram.


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