Thursday, November 15, 2018

#Eveleen'sSeduction #HistoricalRomance



Title: Eveleen’s Seduction
Author: Christine Young
Genre: Historical Romance/Regency
Book Heat Level: 4

Buy at: Amazon


TAGLINE

Young Eveleen Hepburn discovers truths about herself she never expected as she enchants Logan Maxwell's cynical heart.

BLURB: Eveleen's Seduction

A WHISPER OF SEDUCTION

A brutal attack on Eveleen Hepburn's cherished island off the Scottish coastline leaves her shattered and bewildered. Learning a man she once trusted can kill as easily as he can breathe even though the deed saves her life, creates questions that need answers. An innocent beauty, she enchants Logan Maxwell's cynical heart—giving in to the raging passion she feels for her mysterious suitor.


A WHISPER OF INTRIGUE

In Logan's Maxwell's world of espionage and privilege, young Eveleen discovers truths about herself she never expected, and a need for passion and love can overcome all her fears if she learns to accept certain truths. She finds herself entangled in a lethal battle for land that was once owned by French nobility, taken from them during the revolution and sold to Maxwell. But grave peril would unleash the flames of love that simmers, creating a magical union that cannot be refuted.


EXCERPT: Eveleen's Seduction

“We’re here,” he said, and not waiting for the driver to open the door, he did it himself and leapt from the carriage. Holding out his hands for her, he placed them on her waist and helped her from the carriage.
When they walked through the park, the fallen snow crunched beneath her feet. The sun poked its head from behind the clouds sending sparkles alight on the snow.
“There they are.” She pointed to Ella and Drake and rushed to meet them. Ella and Evie hugged. “I’ve missed you.”
“I’ve had so much I’ve wanted to talk to you about,” Ella said then turning to Drake, she laughed, watching him with a twinkle in her eyes, “Time to make your snow angel.”
Drake looked at the snow then back to Ella then, “I don’t suppose I can put this off to the next snowfall.”
“Of course not,” Eveleen answered for Ella. “And you, Logan, I’m waiting.” With hands on her hips, she tapped one foot, grinning.
“After you,” he waved a hand at the ground.
Eveleen laughed delightedly and lying on the ground, she ran her arms and legs across the snow. She stopped and sat up. “That was fun. I can’t remember the last time. Logan?”
He contorted his face in what looked like a grimace. Even though he hesitated, he followed suit and soon a second angel was formed. “Are you happy now?” He stood and drew Eveleen into his arms, kissing her soundly.
“Yes,” her breathless reply seemed to make him beam. They both turned their attention to Drake. Ella sat on her snow angel.
“Well,” Ella patted the ground near her, smiling at her ever so reluctant husband.
He scratched his head. “I suppose if it gets me a kiss and maybe more, I can do just about anything.”
A moment later with the deed accomplished, Drake drug Ella into his arms. Rolling over her, he kissed her soundly to the applause of a few onlookers in the gardens.
“Drake,” laughing she beat his shoulders with her fists. “This isn’t proper. You have to stop before there is more talk about us.”
He roared with laughter, “You should know I’m never appropriate and neither are you. That would be so boring.” He rolled with her, snow cloaking her pelisse and hat.
Seeming to like what Drake was doing, Logan gently tackled Eveleen to the snowy landscape. She laughed, picking up snow in one hand and tossing it at him.
“Oh, you don’t play fair.” He loosely packed a snowball and tossed it at her, missing as she anticipated and ducked.
“I don’t need to be treated like a girl. This isn’t my first snowball fight.” She packed snow and threw it, hitting him in the chest.
“Doesn’t appear that it is.” He reciprocated and the game continued until they were both quite breathless.
With a quick look to Ella, Eveleen signaled to her cousin and snowballs flew at the men. They laughed, running from the onslaught of missiles directed their way, hiding behind a tree while they fashioned more weapons.
The two men appeared on either side, and they were bombarded even as they emptied their arsenal. Laughing again, they raced from their hiding place to see other people had joined in the snow fight.
“Look what you started.” Logan stood behind her, his hand on her shoulder as he put the cold wet snow on her neck.
“Oh! That’s not fair.” She shivered from the cold wetness, pushing away from him.
“It’s a fight. Everything is fair,” he whispered, and seeming to take pity on her, he brushed the snow from her body.
“I want to find privacy. Do you?” he asked her, retrieving her muff and handing it to her.
Moistening her lips, she nodded, wondering what he intended yet she had a pretty good idea. “You don’t mean to do it here?”
“Only if you want to,” he teased.
Her breath caught in her throat. “It’s too cold.”
“We will warm each other.” He grinned and winked.
One hand on her elbow he guided her down a path then another and finally they saw no one. Finding a rock to sit on, he pulled her onto his lap and kissed her hard and deep.
Determined to meet his deviltry with her own, she slipped her fingers inside his coat and finding the fastenings on his shirt, she undid enough to slip her hands inside to meet hot flesh.
“Evie!” he gasped. “Your hands are freezing.”
“I know and I thought you could help warm them up. Isn’t that what you just said?” She smiled sweetly at him.
“Little devil,” he whispered. “You can warm your hands on me any time as long as I can heat mine as well.”
“Don’t think that will be possible with all the clothes I have on.” She wasn’t about to tell him her secret, which Ella had wickedly passed on to her.
“Hmm...there are other tender places, hot places, I can put my hands. If you’re willing.” He drew her pelisse around them, making a tent of sorts with the two of them inside.



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Thursday, November 8, 2018

Life On Another Island #HistoricalRomance



Title: Life on Another Island
            Life on Another Island Series Book 2
Author: Ruth Danes
ISBN: 978-1-62420-383-1
Genre: Alternative History/Historical/Adventure/Romance
Keywords: Alternative history, adventure, thrillers, 18th century, historical, romance
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 4

Buy at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble


TAGLINE

Adeliza, the Demonic princess turned English maid, begins another chapter of her life, this time with a companion. However danger and adventure still follow her.


BLURB: Life on Another Island

Adeliza, now a little older and very much wiser, makes an alliance in the hope of keeping herself safe and promoting her future happiness.

However, events both in Britain and abroad threaten not only her unexpected joy but also her very life and her adopted homeland. Can she fight to save herself, those she loves and Britain itself?


EXCERPT: Life on Another Island

It was decided that as a bride I should open the ball and the guest of honour was to be Mr. Wild so I had to dance with him. There was no way around it, he had recently received his medal and everyone expected it. I dreaded being in such close contact with him for two dances, I could not believe he would not recognise me.
Mr. Wild gave me his arm and we led the way into the ballroom to form the head of a set for the first dance. I felt shy at so many eyes upon me, although I was becoming used to being considered important once more and annoyed at my partner’s self-satisfied smile. However, as our two dances progressed I learnt things from him which made me glad I had the opportunity to be with him.
We talked of the Demonic plot which seemed to have materialised as a few tiny pockets of rebellion in both Scotland and the north of England which had soon been suppressed. In Denmark there were riots and wide-spread looting. In Iceland the situation was even worse due to the country’s poverty which became desperate after the volcanic eruption in 1783.
“Those who went back to the Devil’s Isles are unfortunate if they were transported and fools if they went willingly. There is very little there, the blast of 1780 saw to that, and that was supporting a colony of about three hundred people. Many times, the number have drawn anchor at the Bay of Arx. They’ll be famine, war and disease in no time.”
I shuddered and could only be thankful for my own situation. Mr. Wild continued.
“I’d bet you’re glad your husband is no longer a commissioner, ma’am.”
“I am glad to have him with me, yes. Why, are they going to be sent out there again?”
“Officially no, but unofficially it is very likely. At the moment they are hunting out plots all over Europe, including here. The tide is starting to turn against them though. They were revered as men who risked their lives and sacrificed their dignity to win a war and wipe out human sacrifice but now there are complaints that they are taking bribes and sticking their noses into other people’s business unnecessarily. Lots of dirty little secrets have been uncovered, secrets that have nothing to do with Demons, the Devil’s Isles or plots.”
“I meant to ask, how can Demons be transported from Denmark and Danish colonies if the Devil’s Isles belong to Britain?”
“I don’t know ma’am, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some people very high up have some very dirty little secrets indeed.”


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Saturday, September 8, 2018

Both End in Speculation by Nancy Avery Dafoe



Title: Both End in Speculation
Author: Nancy Avery Dafoe
ISBN: 978-1-62420-395-4
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Keywords: Mystery, Thriller, Crime, Detective, Italy, Rome
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 3
Price: 3.99

Buy at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble


TAGLINE

Both End in Speculationis a Vena Goodwin mystery about three murders in Rome, Italy, centered around a previously unknown John Keats’ poem. 

BLURB: Both End in Speculation

Both End in Speculationbegins with two discoveries: a murdered woman found on the Arch of Constantine and the revelation of a John Keats’ poem written at the end of his life in Rome, Italy. Disclosure of the invaluable poem causes events leading to murders with bodies deposited at historical sites in Rome.
The Vena Goodwin mystery is also an exploration of Keats’ concept of “negative capability,” in which intuition and uncertainty are prized over absoluteness. The speculation refers to light and darkness in the plot, bringing in the European refugee crisis, the Keats’ poem, and why we seek out uncertainties, including mystery. 
Familiar characters from book one in the series are the protagonist Vena Goodwin and her Italian lover Elio Canestrini. 


EXCERPT: Both End in Speculation

Professore Giancarlo Pavoni had been to the Coliseum more times than he could count, but on the evening of March 14, Giancarlo was lying in pooled blood inside a body bag at the lowest levels of the Coliseum. From a historical perspective, the Coliseum had always impressed the young university professor of Greek and Latin studies.
A hulking figure dressed in black, pulled up the construction vehicle in pouring rain, and dragged Pavoni’s wrapped body out and, with considerable exertion, lifted the bag over his shoulder. Indifferent to the Coliseum's night lights and cameras, pictures blurred by the downpour, the mysterious man was thinking about body weight. The city’s carelessness about farming out construction on their monuments made everything possible. This man’s specialty was dismantling and dismembering anything and everything. Of course, he could pay a couple of mechanics to do his bidding on a stolen truck. He knew they could be trusted because they owed him money, and owing Guerra money could be a death sentence.
Guerra was surprised the middle-aged man was nearly as light as the young woman had been when he climbed steep stairs inside the Arch of Constantine. Comparing body weights was the straightforward but determined thought process of the man who was immune to risks; a man who knew Webcams would capture his photo, scenes of his crimes, his construction truck. None of the physical evidence mattered because they would not find him or link him to the scene. He had, however, left a conspicuous clue, one designed to confuse authorities. Stapled to Pavoni’s shirt was a note.


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Saturday, September 1, 2018

Wolves and Deer #HistoricalRomance



Title: Wolves and Deer
            A Tale Based on Fact
Author: Catherine Haustein
ISBN: 978-1-62420-374-9
Genre: Historical Romance/Regency
Keywords: historical, regency romance, science, Dora (Dorothy) Jordan, dark humor
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 4
Price: 3.99

Buy at:Amazon, Barnes and Noble


TAGLINE

An actress, a secret, and a prince who’s not too charming. Who will get the last laugh?

BLURB

In 1832, Grace Clare works at the Royal Institution under the direction of the well-known chemist Michael Faraday. But science isn't all she has on her mind. She learns that her birth mother was famous comic actress Dora Jordan. Grace is dangerously drawn into the tale of Dora's mysterious, unjust death after her twenty-year relationship with the prince who now occupies the throne--a man who betrayed his life partner and mother of his children. As the only child free to do so, Grace travels to Paris for work and to view her mother’s lonely grave. Awash with the injustice of the cruel betrayal, will Grace be doomed to a tragic life of seeking revenge or like her mother will she be laughing in the end?


EXCERPT

Sacred to the memory of DOROTHY JORDAN, who, for a series of years, in London, as well as other cities of Britain pre-eminently adorned the Stage. For Comic Wit, sweetness of voice, and imitating the manners and customs of laughing maidens, as well as the opposite sex, she ranked second to none in the display of that Art, wherein she was so pre-eminently skilled. Neither was any one more prompt in relieving the necessitous. She departed this life the 5th of July 1816, aged fifty. Remember and weep for her!
Harry handed Grace the tulips. It was true; he did find her beautiful, her dark eyes mysterious. His fingers ached to touch her hair. But the talk of poison put him off. He had to find something to say as she stood forlornly in front of her mother’s grave.
“Relieving the necessitous. There’s the mark of a fine person, someone who cares for the poor. A hard-working and talented commoner, I hear tell. I’m happy to pay my respects.”
“Yes. This is my mother. Here she rests. I, however, shan’t rest.” Grace climbed over the fence and placed the tulip bouquet next to the stone. There were no other flowers.
“She needs some roses planted to show she died in midlife,” Grace said. “I will come back with roses.”
“My condolences. My parents admired her. There is still a postcard of her as Viola in our kitchen. My mother speaks of her generous heart and her sad fate.”
“I’m overwhelmed by it all. Yes, my dear mother, so far from home.” Grace let the tears come. She crouched down and put her hand on the dirt that separated Dora from the air and the sunshine and from the child who longed so much to know her. The ground was wet as if even the earth wept for her. Grace ran her hand across it as sorrow rose up and shook her like a dog shakes a rabbit. Aunt Hester was right. This grave held a broken heart that caught anyone who came to pay respects.
“Oh, my. It’s so forlorn. So forlorn and forgotten,” Grace said in her ripe peach voice.
Harry wanted to take the broken girl in his arms, to tell her how sorry he was that he’d agreed to bring her here. Instead, he folded his arms across his broad chest, but this gesture didn’t hold in the injustice that grew in it. “The people still speak of how her royal ‘protector’, now our glorious King, worked her like a plow horse, as they’ll do to us all. The powerful expect our sacrifice. It’s nothing to them.”
Grace wiped her cheeks with the back of her hand. “No mention of mate or offspring on that stone. What does that tell you?”
“That her fans laid the stone. It’s known.” This, to Harry, was the most grievous part of the death; no family had come forward to pay for a grave marker. An English couple who had visited her in Paris made the arrangements for the simple memorial, and a mysterious male friend arranged for the gravesite.
“More than that, Harry. It means that her connections wanted her to be forgotten. She didn’t come here to escape swindling sons-in-law, as my aunt has suggested. She was purposely sent here to be disremembered,” Grace said. “How can it be that none of her other children have visited?” Disappointment filled her. There wasn’t anything more to this place. It was just a lonely grave in a damp spot.
“A shame.” Harry climbed over the fence and kneeled beside Grace. “The Royals are beasts. They aren’t better than we are as they wish we’d believe.”
Harry took out a handkerchief, and bent down and wiped her cheeks.
“Here now, Miss Clare, allow me. I don’t mean to be forward, but your face is dirty.”
Grace cried as the softness of the handkerchief stroked her face. “She doesn’t belong here. I’m so melancholy. My insides are like a crumpled letter. Death is meant to bring peace, but even her bones were kept from everything she’d loved.”
Harry went to the carriage and came back with a bag. He took out a trowel and dug a hole six inches deep through the spindly grass. He handed Grace a tulip bulb.
“Mr. Babbage says that the tulip signifies the brevity of life. Place it point up in the hole.”
“Are you giving me advice?”
“I am simply passing on gardening wisdom. Do you want them to grow?’
“Will anything grow in this dank spot? ‘Twill be a miracle if we’re not overcome by miasma. I believe I am sick already.”
Grace put the bulb in the hole while Harry dug another one.
“Do you know why no one was allowed to attend her death?” Grace asked.
“They did not know about it until it was too late.”
“No. It was a way of signaling to the population of England that she was doomed to hell for her sins, for there are but two directions, heaven or hell, and if you are alone, it shows God that you were not loved and to hell you go. My Aunt Hester has told me this much. Not that she believes it, but as evidence that Mother’s death was arranged by the palace to appear as a judgment.” Grace put another bulb in the hole, and Harry scooped dirt over it.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Ella'sPleasure #Historical/RegencyRomance



Title: Ella’s Pleasure
Twelve Dancing Princesses Book Seven

Author: Christine Young
ISBN: 978-1-62420-393-0
Genre: Historical Romance
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 4

Buy at: Amazon,


TAGLINE: Ella's Pleasure

Ella Hepburn discovers passion and desire can overcome everything she's been taught to resist.

BLURB: Ella's Pleasure

A WHISPER OF PLEASURE

Ella Hepburn was an auburn haired debutant from the harsh Scottish coastline—a wild innocent to be seduced and tamed. A spirited beauty, she captivated Drake Montgomerie's jaded heart—while succumbing to the smoldering desire she felt for her unyielding suitor.

A WHISPER OF DANGER

In Drake Montgomerie's glittering world of money and privilege, young Ella discovered passion and desire could overcome everything she'd been taught to resist—entangling Drake, the heir apparent, in a lethal coil of aristocratic family intrigue. But grave peril would only nurse the sparks of a love that knew no limits and a magnificent ecstasy that would not be denied.



EXCERPT: Ella's Pleasure


“Come, let’s take this path.” He settled one hand on the small of her back, directing her to the left. “I want to show you something.”
She gazed at him with wide eyes. “What? It’s getting late, I’m sure The Duchess will be looking for us.”
“Trust me, she won’t have to search for you. Between my men and Scarlett, they know exactly where we are. I mean to elude them for a few minutes of privacy.” He bent close to her and whispered. “I want to kiss you and there are just too many folks here.”
“Kiss me? I like your kisses.”
“I’m glad.” Lord, but he didn’t know what he’d do if she’d told him the opposite. “This way.” They were strolling deeper into the gardens where fewer people walked. Privacy was what he wanted; this was exactly where he meant to steal a real kiss from Ella Hepburn.
“What are those noises?” she stopped and looked at him, searching for the source of the sounds.
He ran one finger between his collar and neck attempting to figure out what to tell her. “They are people enjoying pleasure.”
The expression on her face outlined by the gaslights amazed him. “Is it what I’m thinking?”
“I don’t know. What do you believe you hear?” He laughed inside at the joy he felt about this inquisitive lady.
“Well, I don’t think they are just kissing.” Even in the half-light he watched the blush rise on her cheeks as she covered her mouth as if she understood what was going on all around her.
“Remember our conversation about love making?”
She nodded her eyes huge with wonder. “In public?”
“My darling girl, can you see them?”
“No, but I now know what they are doing.”
“Hush,” he said, guiding her to a spot just beneath a light. “I’m going to kiss you until your Auntie finds us and stops me from having my wicked way with you in those bushes.”
He turned Ella and looking into her eyes, his mouth descended to meet hers. His hands at the small of her back pulled her close. With a surprised gasp she delighted him by opening her mouth. His tongue invaded with a primal urgency, creating a mercuric heat within. Tasting her sweetness and the honeyed depth of her mouth, his groan emanated from deep within.
Ella responded by wrapping her hands around his neck and running her fingers through his hair. Slipping her tongue inside his mouth, she met him with courage and passion. Her tiny feminine cry of surrender gave him confidence she enjoyed him. His hands slipped lower to cover her derriere and pull her tight against his pulsing cock, wondering if she understood the intense desire emanating from him.
He accepted all of her; teeth, tongue, lips, pressed together in an age-old rhythm. Taking her inside himself was heaven on earth. For a moment he pulled away, needing to see her eyes. Her face, flushed with pleasure, enticed him and his mouth found hers once more. Never wanting this to end, his kiss became urgent, and she responded with so much passion he wanted to bury himself deep inside her warmth. For today and this moment the kiss would have to be enough.
A sudden sharp pain shot across his back. “Stop this, Drake Montgomerie.” Another whack hit him in the buttocks and another. “Stop. Unhand Miss Ella before I let my sword slip from its hiding place.”


KEYWORDS

Historical, Romance, Regency, England

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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

#WhereAllPastYearsAre


Title: Where All Past Years Are
Author: Joseph Allen
ISBN: 978-1-62420-399-2
Genre: Family Life
Key words: generational fiction, family, saga, family ties, LGBT, strong marriages, Americana

Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 2
Price: 

Buy at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble


TAGLINE

Saga of the sprawling Chadwick clan from 1954 to 2015. Highly emotional and affecting, the family will make you laugh and break your heart.

BLURB

Starting on Thanksgiving Day 1954, the Chadwick family encounters wars, financial crashes, 9-11, and the Great Recession. As a family with a WASP history they discover the wider world that is America, marry across religious, racial and ethnic lines, live, love, laugh and celebrate Thanksgiving and Independence Day at the Old Home on the shore of Lake Champlain near the Canadian border in New York.  

The love of husbands and wives, the closeness of relatives who are an increasingly rainbow-like group, the touching beauty of the Old Home on the Lake as some family members move back to the property into new cottages – all are major themes.  Children running a three-legged race watch the young man, Gray Chadwick, drop to his knees to beg his pregnant girlfriend, Melissa, to marry him. Births, deaths, burials, 4th of July fireworks, boating and bass fishing, and the strengthening power of love lead to a final surprising and unexpected reunion of two branches of the family for the first time in over three hundred years.


EXCERPT

As he headed back up the stairs from the basement with the first of three cases of a good St. Estephe, he could smell biscuits cooking, and chattering women’s voices. When he got to the top of the stairs he could smell coffee too, and in the warm hallway with the excited sound of voices in the kitchen, he thought to himself that it was at moments like this that he really loved being who he was and being there in the Old Home with the genially snobby but sweet-natured Chadwicks; even Pop, who had a sour side, but looked forward to holidays with the eagerness of a child waiting for Santa. It was as though he pumped himself back up and lost at least ten years driving up from Manhattan—which was a long, boring drive for most people. 
He put the wine by the door to the dining room and went back and hauled the other two up, one at a time. Then he went back downstairs and finally found a case of Puligny Montrachet; a dry white for those who didn’t drink the hearty reds, especially the meaty, chewy St. Estephe. Then he staggered exaggeratedly into the kitchen and the women handed him a basket of biscuits and a mug of hot coffee. There were three kinds of jam open on the butcher-block table: marmalade, a reddish berry that was probably raspberry, and a dark one that almost had to be grape jelly. All home-made. There was something about Thanksgiving that dictated home-cooking and homemade everything.
It couldn’t last, he thought with a touch of sadness. This house, this time, this group, had more in common with the past than with Ike’s America. All but the children had been through the Depression and at least one World War, maybe two. There was actually a surprising mix of political opinions in the family (mostly Republican, spanning the spectrum), but everyone was agreed that Ike was the right man at the wheel. They learned from Truman, who couldn’t resist a war in Korea, that no one could keep the United States out of war better than Ike, who commanded the troops in World War II. And, he thought with the beginning of a smirk, Ike and the Chadwicks had one thing in common—a wife who at least seemed to be slightly tipsy a lot of the time.   
There were no Christmas decorations, because usually there was no one here at Christmas other than the caretaker’s family. The winter around Lake Champlain could be severe, and since there were no mountains, there was no skiing. The house was used a lot in the summer, with Rich and Lizzie keeping a calendar of family members who wanted a week on the lake. There was an optional family gathering for the Fourth of July, with fireworks over the lake, but Thanksgiving was more or less mandatory. He looked around at the beautiful dark wood molding that ran along the tops of the walls, the enormous Persian carpets, and the probably hand-made Chippendale dining table and twelve chairs. Like a movie set. A world on the way out. It would be ruinously expensive to maintain a house like this, but fortunately Pop seemed to have an endless fortune.
“Penny for your thoughts,” a voice behind him called out. 
He turned to see Jane smiling from ear to ear. “Just thinking how lucky we are to be here, year after year, and wondering...” He turned away.
“How long it will last? Me too. Pop is the one who keeps it going, and he’s certainly not young.” She put her hand on his forearm, kissed him lightly on the cheek and led him back toward the kitchen. He gestured at the cases of wine and she smiled again and took his arm. “Biscuits and jam in the kitchen, and you can help singe the birds.”
“Maybe Rich will step up when Pop gets too old,” he said. 
“Or you,” Jane said, holding his arm with her free hand. “Maybe you’ll step up.”
The bottle of vodka was gone. He peered into the parlor as they passed the door, and a couple of the guys—Connecticut cousins—were sitting on a couch with tumblers of tomato juice. Good for you, he thought. 
There were two big turkeys to be roasted, and two big hams. Pies were baking in the two ovens, and the cloying smell of mincemeat floated in the air. He looked over the first turkey to see where the pinfeathers needed to be burnt off. He found a stack of newspapers in the butler’s pantry and spread some of them on the back porch, shivering a bit at the chill. Then he rolled up about an inch of newspapers into a torch and lit the end with his lighter. As it flamed up, he passed it over the areas of the bird where the little hairlike feathers were, and they disappeared as the flame went by, with an unpleasantly pungent smell. Ugh. He tamped out the newspaper torch, took the carcass back into the kitchen and grabbed the other one, repeating the process. He was a little like Lizzie, he thought, a consort rather than a family member. Meant he had to work harder.
“What’s next?” he asked the kitchen.
“Take a breather,” Jane said. “If we need help, we’ll yell.” There were too many cooks in the kitchen, but these women didn’t get to talk to each other often and they never ran short of news or breath. The youngest was about twenty, he estimated, and most of the worker-bees were, like Jane, closer to thirty. Two of the older women were punching bread dough on a flour-covered plank sitting on the counter. Looked like a Saturday Evening Postcover. 
He ambled into the parlor and grabbed a newspaper. Premier Mendes France had struck a deal with Habib Bourguiba for Tunisia to be independent. He was set on getting rid of the French colonies. 
He had agreed with Ho Chi Minh after the massacre at Dien Bien Phu to withdraw French troops from Vietnam and turn the government over to the locals. Of course he was a Jew, everyone knew that—he looked like a Jew, too—but he had been a fighter pilot in the war and the French liked him. 
The French were always unpredictable. They had owned most of north Africa and he was just giving it away, back to the natives. Well, not natives like in the movies, you know, but the locals. Camel drivers or whatever.
Well, Britain was starting down the same path, from the greatest empire the world had ever seen, to a small island with some trade agreements with places they used to own. Look at India. Look at Burma. That Nehru, he was almost British, about as good as India was going to get.
“Where’d you get the tomato juice?” he asked the two men on the couch. “Hi, I’m Ted Semple. I’m here with Jane.”
“In the kitchen,” the blond one said. “I’m Eric Chadwick, and this is my brother Antony.”  They stood up and the ritual of handshaking was taken care of. “We met a year or so ago, here in this room, I think.”
“I’m sorry, there are so many people here at Thanksgiving, and my memory of names from last Thanksgiving is faulty. I’ll try to be better.”
“Most people call me Ricky, and everybody calls him Tony. Don’t worry about it. We have an advantage. We’ve been coming to Thanksgiving here all our lives, so we grew up knowing a lot of the people here. Even so, I have a hard time remembering some people—even people I recognize. Just the names go away. We’re from the Massachusetts side of the family. Jane is the Virginia side, or what we call the Virginia side, even though she and her parents and grandparents and probably great-grandparents at least were all born around here. They’ve been living around New York City since before the Civil War.”
Ted smiled and nodded. An advantage, he thought. You bet. The advantage is being a Chadwick and being rich. Who was it said the rich are different from the rest of us? Fitzgerald. And Hemingway said, yes, they have more money. That gets to the bottom of it. He quick-walked back to the kitchen and one of the women poured some tomato juice into a tumbler from a quart can she took out of the refrigerator that had been opened with a churchkey. He headed back to the parlor and asked “Do you have the vodka?”
Ricky shook his head and looked puzzled.
“Oh, sorry. There was a bottle of vodka sitting on the buffet earlier and it wasn’t there anymore. I just assumed when you were drinking tomato juice that you’d picked up the bottle,” Ted said. He looked at the tomato juice and though, hmmm, I don’t even like tomato juice, tastes metallic. He took a swig. At least it was cold. He wandered back to the dining room and looked around. No vodka. 
“Looking for this?” It was Sam, and she was holding the vodka bottle. She was always pretty and looked especially fetching with a ruffled apron on and her hair in a bun. 
“Thanks,” he said, holding his glass out to her. “I was wondering if I would have to drink this plain.”
“Say when,” she said and started to pour. 
“When,” he said. “Just a blessing, not a real drink. I don’t want to be drunk and I would be if I started drinking this early.”
She wrinkled her forehead and he realized what he said had been awkward.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…”
She smiled and wiggled her nose and smiled. “Don’t worry about it. We’re all drinkers, especially at the holidays. Comes with the genes.”
“I smell pies,” he said. And craned his neck around the corner toward the kitchen. The table by the kitchen window was covered with pies. He counted eleven pies. “Help me escape from the mincemeat; there’s something about it.” He shook his head with a shiver.
She tilted her head back and laughed. “Me too. Problem is you have no idea what’s in it, yesterday’s meat or last week’s meat, and could be anything. And so sweet and spicy. That’s why there are so many spices in it, and the raisins and the brandy, because otherwise it would stink. Here, have a dividend,” she said, and held the bottle out. 
He poured more into the remaining tomato juice. “Just this once,” he said. 
“Right,” she said. “Just this once.” She opened the cabinet door in the center of the buffet and put the bottle inside. “If it’s gone, I’ll know who took it.” And she swept back into the kitchen.
There was a sound of feet running in the hallway above the dining room, and then Lizzie appeared at the top of the stairs. “Help me,” she stage-whispered. “I can’t get Pop to wake up.”