Meet My Character – Blog Hop – Mark Afton Wolf Shifter

Thanks to M.S Kaye for inviting me to participate in this blog hop!

M.S. Kaye has multiple published books user her black belt. A transplant from Ohio, she lives with her husband Corey in Jacksonville, FL, where she tries not to melt in the sun. Find suspense and the unusual at

This hop is all about the author’s work in progress…

My work in progress is a historical paranormal romance novella. I’m branching out  of my strictly historical box. It is currently in the last round of edits.


1. What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or historical?

Mark Afton…and he’s fictional.

2. When and where is the story set?

New Orleans in 1850 although most of the story takes place on a steamer.

3. What should we know about your character?

He is a lawyer who caters to the elite in New Orleans. He is also secretly a wolf shifter and, as an alpha, will be the heir to the Bayou Pack.

4. What is their main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

According to tradition Mark cannot take over leadership of the Bayou Pack without mating first. Unfortunately, he is having a hard time finding a woman who pleases both his human and wolf form. After a reading from Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau he is told that he will never marry but he will find a mate.

He didn’t know how that could be until he met Violet Creed on the Southern Rose steamer. The colored belle captures his heart, but can he get the stubborn woman to see that despite their differences they belong together?

5. What is the personal goal of your character?

At the beginning of Alpha’s Voodoo, he is just trying to unwind from his stressful life. By the end, he’s fighting for his mate’s love.

6. Is there a working title for this novel, can we read more about it?

Alpha’s Voodoo is the title of the new book. It is the first book in the Bayou Pack series. You can read an excerpt here.

Now to tag some more writers…

Allyson Lindt

About Allyson Lindt
allysonlindtAllyson Lindt is a full-time geek and a fuller-time contemporary romance author. She prefers that her geeky heroes come with the alpha expansion pack and adores a heroine who can hold her own in a boardroom. She loves a sexy happily-ever-after and helping deserving cubicle dwellers find their futures together.

Amazon author page:

Diane Saxon

DSC_0066Diane Saxon lives in the Shropshire countryside with her tall, dark, handsome husband, two gorgeous daughters, a Dalmatian, one-eyed kitten, ginger cat, four chickens and a newly acquired plump, lazy black Labrador puppy called Beau – a name she may have to consider for a future hero.

After working for years in a demanding job, on-call and travelling great distances, Diane gave it all up when her husband said “follow that dream”. Having been hidden all too long, her characters have burst forth demanding plot lines of their own and she’s found the more she lets them, the more they’re inclined to run wild.

Author Website

Author Blog

Author Facebook Page

Author Twitter: @Diane_Saxon

Author Goodreads Profile

Author Amazon Profile Page

Previous Books: Loving Lydia -Atlantic Divide Book 1

Flight of Her Life
Bad Girl Bill – Atlantic Divide Book 2
Finding Zoe – Atlantic Divide Book 3
Flynn’s Kiss – Disarmed & Dangerous Book 1


Tara Quan

TaraQuan_SGlobetrotter, lover of languages, and romance author, Tara Quan has an addiction for crafting tales with a pinch of spice and a smidgen of kink. Inspired by her travels, Tara enjoys tossing her kick-ass heroines and alpha males into exotic contemporary locales, fantasy worlds, and post-apocalyptic futures. Armed with magical powers or conventional weapons, her characters are guaranteed a suspenseful and sensual ride, as well as their own happily ever after. Learn more at

Buy links




Facebook Page Address:

Twitter handle @LaylaTarar

Google Plus:


Sandra Dauber

avatar3Sandra Dauber works on her first novel, a fiction dealing with a fragile ego-ed man making his way in a strange world, from her home in Washington with her husband, Alan, and two children, Brian and Tatianna.

Midnight Caller is #Free on iTunes! @lsb_lsbooks #histrom

Midnight Caller was chosen to be a part of Apple (iTunes) 1st in series free promotion.

This means you can go to iTunes and download a free copy from 9-16 to 10-1.

You can’t go wrong with free!

Here is the link:




When Emma Bennett’s husband dies in a carriage accident in 1865, she is released from her loveless, controlling marriage. Now she has a chance to find happiness and raise a family. But before she begins courting again she wants to experience her freedom. At the advice of the leading socialite in town, she takes a black lover to fulfill her sexual needs. His raw, masculine power awakens feelings she didn’t know existed. After the first touch she craves more.
Frederick works as a roustabout by day and moonlights as a prostitute. He knows better than to fall in love with his white client, but Emma enchants him the first time he calls on her. To keep them both safe, he works hard to put up barriers. Unfortunately, he can’t protect Emma from the slimy Mr. Hawthorne, who wants her as his bride. Frederick vows to keep her safe even if his forbidden love costs him his life.


“You know, Mr. Hawthorne is interested in you.”

Emma gave a slight nod. Everyone in town knew Mr. Hawthorne was interested in her. Hank had forbidden the telegraph operator to come around her again, but now Hank was gone, would he pursue her?

“Mr. Hawthorne is a respectable man,” Mrs. Dimshire said.

A throbbing pain began above Emma’s left eye. Surely, the old lady wouldn’t try to set them up. Out of all the eligible bachelors in town…with his thinning auburn hair and long, homely face, he was as attractive as a gnarled tree. She couldn’t imagine sleeping next to him. Her lungs compressed, making each breath a chore.

“He isn’t my type,” Emma squeaked out. He was worse than Hank. He would be more than demanding and controlling. He would be jealous and overbearing, maybe even violent.

She picked up her cup again, hoping the tea would be soothing. It wasn’t. Her hands shook and she set the cup down before she spilled it on the white lace tablecloth.

Mrs. Dimshire’s wrinkled hand grabbed her wrist tenderly. Emma’s heart punched her ribs. The touch was probably meant to be comforting, but she felt trapped.

“Do you know how I get through each day without Connor?”

Emma shook her head.

“Whenever I feel the need to have a man next to me, I satisfy that need.”

Emma’s eyes bulged. Had the leading socialite in Louisville just said she shared her bed with a variety of men? But there would have been gossip, surely. No one had said a word.

Mrs. Dimshire’s eyes were sincere and she spoke as matter-of-factly as if she had just ordered a cut of beef from the butcher.

“I know you are not ready to remarry.” The older woman’s fingers slipped away from her skin. “But I thought you might like some male company once in a while.”

A thrill rushed from Emma’s head to her toes. Being with a man, no-strings attached. All the power and freedom she wanted. She could control the affair.

“Ah, I see the glow in your eyes,” Mrs. Dimshire said. “Yes, it is exciting and invigorating for a woman to take charge. I can tell you where to go. No one will ever find out.” Mrs. Dimshire paused and leaned back in her brown-and-burgundy striped chair. “And I trust you will keep my secret.”

“Yes, ma’am. Of course.” Going against Mrs. Dimshire would be social suicide.

“There is one thing though that might dissuade you,” Mrs. Dimshire said and then dabbed her lips with a linen napkin. “The men are colored.”

Write Tip Wednesday: Starting in the Right Place

Welcome to a very late edition of Write Tip Wednesday. I haven’t been blogging much because I’ve been bogged down in home renovations, but this has been on my mind lately so I thought I’d share.

Cup Of Hot Black Coffee With Steam And Notebook

Openings are perhaps the most difficult to get right. I constantly struggle with this. The opening needs to show what the characters lives are like before the life changing moment. This establishes their history, who they are, and sets up the change which will set the rest of the story in motion. I have a tendency of spending too much time in the opening showing how my characters lived before their perfect little world was shattered.

I like my characters. Perhaps subconsciously I want to delay hurting them. I don’t know. Good thing I have beta readers who tell me what I have to cut. If you spend too much time on the opening then it slows the pace of the story and while readers need to get to know your characters they don’t need to know everything that has happened to them since they were born, lol. Okay maybe I was exaggerating, but I’m sure you get the idea.

Here is the deleted scene from the opening of Midnight Heat. George isn’t sure he is ready to be domesticated. He needs to get away from his brother’s children and start a life of his own.

Midnight Heat Cover

St. Louis, Missouri

September 14, 1868

George hesitated entering the house. Lately chaos met him every time. His stomach rumbled and the faint whiff of Emma’s fresh baked biscuits forced him to open the door. One-year-old David threw his arms open wide and toddled toward him on chubby legs.

“Watch him!” Emma shouted.

His sister-in-law stood in the kitchen cradling a wailing Katie in one hand and stirring gravy with the other.

David stumbled and fell to the ground before George could catch him. He sat on the floor and let out an ear-piercing scream.

George cringed and backed away, ready to turn tail and run. This was too much for him.

Emma shot him a look so hard it would turn him black and blue. “Don’t you dare just leave him there,” she said in a threatening tone.

George swallowed hard. “Yes, ma’am.” He picked David up. “Shh, it’s all right, little man.” David cried, tears streaming down his cheeks. George rocked him in his arms. “Shh. I know it scared you. Shh.”

Finally, he settled down, and Katie seemed to have cried herself to sleep. Emma let out a loud sigh. She looked at her wits end. David was handful enough. Why did she even want a second child? He needed to get out of here and start a life of his own. He heard the docks calling his name. It was his only chance of an escape.

Suddenly a rotten stench permeated the air. George wrinkled his nose and held David at arm’s length. Oh that was nasty. So much for his appetite. He glanced over at Emma silently pleading for help.

She laughed. “That diaper is all yours, uncle. I just got Katie to sleep. If you want me to finish this meal any time soon she better stay that way.”

Grrr. Frederick had agreed to be a father, he didn’t. As long as he lived and worked on their farm he’d be roped into child care whenever it was needed.

He was eighteen. He was a man. It was time he struck out on his own.

Frederick stepped into the house, panting and sweaty. He’d been weeding since sunrise. “Breakfast ready?”

“Soon,” Emma said.

George passed David to his father. “He needs his diaper changed.”

Frederick smiled down at him. “You sure do.” He carried David into the bedroom.

George helped Emma set the table. Chores not involving babies he could handle.

“Mare will be foaling in a couple months,” Frederick said, sitting down with David in his lap.

George nodded. “Good.”

David giggled and grinned at Frederick.

“He’s missed you,” Emma said. “I’ll put Katie in the cradle and be right back.”

Emma returned and kissed Frederick before sitting beside him.

Frederick and Emma had their own life now. He just felt in the way or ignored half the time. He put in hard hours in the field with Frederick but had very little to show for it.

“I’m leaving this afternoon,” George announced.

“What?” Frederick said. “Where are you going?”

“It is time for me to make my own way in the world.”


Living in St. Louis, Missouri, is a nightmare for Allison. It is 1868, but for her slavery never ended. After enduring years of abuse, she reaches her breaking point. She sees a fiery death as her only escape. She did not expect to live through the night, but George came to her rescue and changed her plans. Now she has a chance to fulfill her dream of falling in love and having a normal relationship with a handsome black man. But will he accept her with her baggage and the dark secrets from her past?

At eighteen, George is ready to make his own way in the world. He leaves his brother’s farm and gets a job as a roustabout. Working on the Mississippi River gives him the freedom he craves. Going ashore one night he sees a shack along the waterfront on fire. He never expected to find a beautiful colored woman trapped inside. Protective instincts kicking in, he instantly wants to be her man and take care of her.

Will he be able to gain her trust and love or will the memories of Allison’s painful past burn their relationship to cinders before it has begun?

My Issues with #Reading Civil War Fiction #cw150 #books

civil war

Those of you who know me probably think this kind of odd. The Civil War is my favorite time period. I love reading Civil War diaries and letters. I love researching the Civil War, and most of the stories I write are set either right before, during, or right after the Civil War.

So why do I have issues with reading Civil War fiction?

No, it has nothing to do with reading my competition. Although some writers refuse to read in the genre they write, I do not adhere to that particular belief. It is better to see what other authors are doing than avoid them altogether. I’ve learned a few writing tricks that way!

My problem lies in the fact that I spend hours writing and editing my own Civil War fiction. Reading gives people an escape. Reading takes you into another world and away from your current stresses. I just can’t seem to get into other Civil War fiction stories. They no longer provide that escape for me.  It is sad, and I hope this will pass. I am wondering if I just need a break altogether. The last historical romance I wrote Wild and Tender Care was set in the Old West and that was a refreshing change.

I want to be able to enjoy reading Civil War fiction again!

Fellow authors – have any of you experienced a similar problem?

My Sexy Saturday – Midnight Heat

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It is time for My Sexy Saturday again!

This is our nod for our historical authors. Share with us your sexy carriage ride for the world to see! While some of you may be sad and think this is only for our historic authors, think again. A sexy carriage ride can be in a space ship, a ’67 Mustang or a covered wagon. 

Of course I had to participate in historical week. I’m here with a 7 paragraph excerpt from my African American historical romance Midnight Heat.

Midnight Heat is set in St. Louis, Missouri in 1868. It takes place primarily on a steamboat. I love steamboats! George works as a roustabout and Allison works as a chambermaid on the Queen Bee.

George turned around and smiled. “I was wondering if you weren’t coming back down.”

His eyes quickly swept her frame. He had seen the pine green dress Mrs. Brown had given her many times, but he acted like this was the first.

“You are beautiful, Allison.”

She laughed. She looked like a freak with only half her eyebrows. “Thank you.”

He took her hand and raised it to his lips, kissing her skin chastely. His soft lips stirred her and made her ache for more.

“I saved a good spot for us,” he said, motioning for her to follow him.

A spot for us? He freely threw around the supposition they were together—which they weren’t. Still, she didn’t protest. She wasn’t sure she wanted to be closer to him, but she knew she didn’t want to push him away.

I encourage you to hop over to the My Sexy Saturday website and see the other author’s participating in this week’s blog hop.

Midnight Heat Cover

MIDNIGHT HEAT was recently reviewed by Romance Novels in Color

The trials this couple experiences is heartfelt. You are rooting for George because he so desperately wants Allison to allow him in her life. George was a good man and an even perfect one for Allison. Sometimes we need a good man to tear down our walls of years of abuse, neglect and hurt. Not every man will be willing to stick around and do that. When you find a man like that, you have to keep him. We need more George’s in the modern day world. – See more at:

Click on the link to read the full review.

Author Spotlight: Annette Mardis – The Shore Thing

It is a pleasure to have fellow LSB author Annette Mardis on my blog today. She is talking about her upcoming release The Shore Thing. I think it is the next best thing to taking a trip to Florida! The Summer is winding to a close, but you can still get a helping of beach fun with The Shore Thing.

Take it away Annette. :)

Thank you so much, Haley, for hosting me on your blog. Liquid Silver Books will release my new contemporary romance novel, The Shore Thing, on Sept. 1. It’s the first book in a series set in the fictional west-central Florida beach town of Gulf Shore, where you’ll feel sugary white sand between your toes, the warm sun on your shoulders, and a sea breeze ruffling your hair.
You’ll meet swoon-worthy alpha males who aren’t embarrassed to cuddle a rescued baby dolphin in their muscular arms, and accomplished women looking for an equal partner who thinks that smart is sexy.
You’ll get up close and personal with sea life, join the “snipe and gripe” club for girls’ nights out, and fall in love with a talking parrot who acts like a little boy in a bird suit.
You’ll go behind-the-scenes at the local aquarium and out to the beach to rescue marine animals in distress. And once you visit Gulf Shore, you just may find yourself wishing you could stay.

Here’s what The Shore Thing is about:

Danielle “Dani” Davidson vows to just say no to workplace romances after her first post-college job is soured by a messy breakup with a manipulative coworker at a fish hatchery.       That’s just one reason she doesn’t trust any man with her heart, let alone one who swims with sharks for a living. So why can’t she get cameraman Evan Sanders out of her mind?
Evan is twice shy, too, after an alluring but self-absorbed colleague at Gulf Shore Aquarium takes a bite out of his heart. Thought he’s dead set against dating anyone else he works with, he’s intrigued by Dani’s shyness and tempted by her intelligence and low-key sexiness.

Dani leads tours and educates guests, and Evan is the chief photographer/videographer at the aquarium and marine animal hospital in Gulf Shore. Their attraction smolders until an unfortunate encounter with a stingray sends Dani to the emergency room, and Evan steps up to help her through her recovery.

The two also bond over the rescue of an orphaned baby dolphin. But will Evan’s vindictive ex-lover, his career ambitions, and Dani’s inhibitions tear the young lovers apart?


Here’s an excerpt:

Evan Sanders felt his swim fins touch bottom as he settled into position with his camera pointed at the two ten-foot nurse sharks circling above him. It was feeding time, and Fred and Barney were restless and hungry. Evan watched as black drum, striped mullet, mangrove snapper, and other smaller fish scurried out of the predators’ way.

He was in full scuba gear and had only his camera for protection, but he wasn’t worried. He’d shot still photos and video in Gulf Shore Aquarium’s Florida Fishes tank many times, and the nurse sharks hadn’t shown the slightest interest in him.

Still, the usually sluggish bottom-dwellers did have thousands of tiny, serrated teeth capable of crushing shellfish and delivering a nasty bite to errant hands or feet, so Evan couldn’t afford to be careless.

Leaning against the clear face of the tank for support, he noticed an attractive young woman watching him. She had her long chestnut hair pulled back in a neat ponytail and wore khaki slacks and the aquarium’s standard-issue teal polo shirt with the GSA logo. A small crowd gathered around her, and Evan knew she was regaling them with facts about how nurse sharks in the wild use vacuum-like suction to snatch fish, mollusks, and crustaceans from their hiding places, sometimes even yanking a sea snail right out of its shell.

He wished he had time to take a closer look at her because he liked what he could see. But duty called.

Evan zoomed in and fired off frame after frame as Fred sucked a freshly thawed herring from the stainless steel grilling tongs a trainer held just beneath the water’s surface. He tracked Fred with his camera as the shark circled around for another handout.

Suddenly, Evan’s peripheral vision picked up a hulking shape closing in fast on his right. He pivoted to find Barney’s snout within inches of the camera lens.

Pulse pounding, Evan barely had time to react. He bumped the shark’s nose just hard enough to discourage him from coming closer. The lumbering fish veered away at the last second and swam up to a second trainer, who enticed him with a hunk of squid.

On the dry side of the Plexiglas, the young woman stared wide-eyed. Evan gave an exaggerated shudder and patted his chest over his heart. She laughed, and he grinned around his regulator mouthpiece and wiggled his fingers. She waved back.

As Evan held her gaze for a moment longer, the young woman blushed.


* * * *


Fifteen minutes earlier, Danielle “Dani” Davidson had returned from an early dinner break to see the diver standing on the concrete deck of the tank, looking like he belonged on the cover of Hot Hunks Monthly. He checked his air tank and hoses, spit in his mask to keep it from fogging, and collected his camera gear. He’d zipped up his wet suit only as far as his flat waist, and it was only natural for Dani to pause and admire the wide set of his shoulders and the muscles rippling over his tanned arms and chest.

Just then, he raised his head as if he felt her gaze roaming his body and, face reddening, she hurried toward the stairs. She stopped on the top step, hidden by a sign identifying the animals in the tank, and watched as he worked his arms down the sleeves of his wet suit and then zipped it closed.

The show over, she headed down to the underwater viewing area to narrate the nurse shark feeding.

Now, as Dani’s heartbeat returned to normal, the guests gave her an expectant look, obviously waiting to hear what she had to say about the diver’s close call.

“Barney was just making sure our photographer got a nice close-up of his handsome face,” she ad-libbed, adding a reassuring smile for good measure.

“You wouldn’t catch me in the water with those monsters,” one woman proclaimed.

“Sharks are awesome!” the boy with her enthused. “During Shark Week on TV, they showed a great white leaping out of the water with a seal in its jaws, and the seal was all bloody and flopping around and stuff, and its guts were hanging out, too. It was so cool!”

“Eeeewww,” a girl behind him squealed. “That’s totally disgusting.”

“Well—” Dani began, but was interrupted by the man beside her.

“So, would that shark have bitten that diver just now?” he asked.

“Nurse sharks usually aren’t aggressive and are tolerant of people,” she told him. “Unless, of course, someone is careless enough to step on the shark or foolish enough to pull its tail. Our diver is anything but an inattentive imbecile.”

Several people laughed.

“Then why did that shark charge him?” the man pressed.

“‘Charge’ is an overstatement. Sharks are attracted by bright and shiny objects, like a camera flash.”

“Won’t they eat those other fish in there?” someone else asked, setting off a flurry of questions from the group.

“Not as long as we keep Fred and Barney well-fed,” Dani said. “Nurse sharks are lazy hunters who forage at night when their prey is resting.”

“How often do you feed them?”

“Four times a week.”

“Why don’t you just throw the food in there instead of using tongs?”

“The trainers need to keep track of how much fish and squid each shark eats,” she explained. “And they also get vitamin supplements in their food.”

“How big do nurse sharks get?”

“They average seven to nine feet, but it’s possible they can reach fourteen feet.”

“How long do they live?”

“About twenty-five years in human care.”

“Human care? Let’s call it what it is—captivity.”


“Are these, like, the only sharks you have? Because they’re, like, totally lame,” said a bored-looking teenage girl.

“We have a lot of other species at Shark Pier, which is near the back of the property,” Dani answered.

“So, um, why are these here, then?”

“Fred and Barney came to us before we built Shark Pier. A local man had them at his home and gave them to us after they outgrew every tank he bought. They’ve settled in here, so why move them again? Think of them as the aquarium’s greeters, like the ones at Walmart, but with much sharper teeth.”

Dani smiled, but the teenager stayed stone-faced.

“What’s the most bloodthirsty shark in this part of Florida?” asked a man wearing a floppy fishing hat and a sticky layer of coconut-scented suntan lotion.

“We prefer not to use words like bloodthirsty and vicious. Yes, they’re top predators, but sharks don’t hunt humans. Of the more than three hundred and fifty species, fewer than ten are considered dangerous to people.”

“You didn’t answer my question,” the man accused, his hands folded across his chest. Then he spoke with a deliberate pause between each word, as if she had rocks for brains. “Which sharks should we be most afraid of when we’re in local waters?”

“Bull sharks. They’re aggressive and unpredictable.” Dani’s smile wavered, but she kept it pasted on her face.

“Anybody been attacked?”

“Off Gulf Shore? No. None reported, anyway. South of here, in the Tampa Bay area? Yes, but not many. You don’t have to worry. I swim in the Gulf all the time.”

“Hey, it only takes one bite! What happened with those attacks? This is stuff we have a right to know!”

“Yes, sir, absolutely,” she agreed. “Nobody’s trying to keep secrets. In 2000, a nine-foot bull shark feeding on mullet killed a retiree who jumped off his dock near St. Pete Beach and Gulfport.”

Several guests gasped, and someone muttered, “Good Lord!”

“That happened in Boca Ciega Bay, where nine years later a teenage girl was swimming—”

“Wait a minute. Boca Ciega Bay? Oh! My! God! We’re staying right near there!” shrieked an older woman who looked like she’d just come off the beach and now regretted sticking even a toe in the surf.

“Did that girl get eaten?” the young Shark Week fan asked before Dani could say anything else.

“No, she was bitten just below the knee. It was serious but not life-threatening.”

“We need to stay someplace else if there are killer sharks in that bay,” the woman insisted, on the verge of a full-blown frenzy.

“Ma’am, sharks are found in every major body of saltwater in the world,” Dani said.

“Is that supposed to make me feel better, young lady?”

Dani’s shirt was sticky with sweat. “Your chances of being attacked are about one in eleven million,” she assured the woman. That didn’t seem to satisfy her, so Dani launched into tips for lessening that already minuscule risk.

“Don’t swim alone, at twilight, after dark, or if you’re bleeding. Don’t wear shiny jewelry. Be extra cautious in murky water. Don’t splash a lot or let pets in the water with you. Avoid going in the water where people are fishing.”

The woman’s face looked like she’d just sucked on a lemon, and the man who’d raised the specter of shark attack gave an impatient huff.

Geez, what’s with these people? Dani thought, sneaking another look at the diver with the camera. I’d be safer in there with him, not to mention with Barney and Fred.



The Shore Thing is available for pre-order from Liquid Silver Books at Order now and buy the book for $3.99, which is 20 percent off the regular cover price.



Now, a little about me. I’m a veteran of some 30 years of newspaper work in the Tampa area, most of it with The Tampa Tribune, and work as a freelance editor in addition to writing books.

In July 2013, I published the e-novella Getting Her Money’s Worth, inspired by and dedicated to a close friend who died in June 2012 after a failed bone marrow transplant.

In my spare time, I greet and educate the public as a volunteer at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home to movie star dolphins Winter and Hope from the Dolphin Tale films.

I also enjoy reading; riding on the back of my husband’s Harley-Davidson; playing with my pets; and cheering for my favorite NASCAR drivers and Tampa Bay area sports teams.


Visit me at my website,, my Facebook page at and my Pinterest boards at and Follow me on twitter: @AnnetteMardis48.

I also post book reviews, publishing news and other reader-friendly content through a public forum at

#NewRelease The Troublesome Apprentice by Liza O’Connor #historical #mystery

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It is my pleasure to have Liza O’Connor on my blog today for an author interview. She is on a book tour for her new release The Troublesome Apprentice. I have started reading it and let’s just say I think it will please all those Sherlock Holmes fans!

Hi Liza! Thanks for taking time out from your busy schedule to answer a few questions.

1. What is your book about?

Imagine you’ve gone through a time machine back to the last decade of the Victorian era. Women are still being treated like possessions, but it’s a fabulous time for men. The middle class is flourishing. A new level of society rises called the intelligentsia. Inventions are popping up all the time. They’ve more improvements than any time in history before: They will or have developed both electric & fuel cars, telephones, typewriters, refrigerators, plumbing, batteries, electric grids, enabling electric lights and water heaters so you can have a nice bath. You can fly about in human kites, gliders or the reliable, but sometimes explosive, dirigibles. For a man this is an exciting and fabulous time to be alive.

This might explain why at the age of twelve, Vic Hamiliton decided she would rather be a boy. Their guardian, Aunt Maddy, who daily fought for women to have rights, didn’t try to persuade Vic out of the idea, instead she gave her butler the task of making Vic a proper young man.

Ten years later, while Vic is studying at Oxford she receives notice her Aunt Maddy has died by falling in front of a carriage. She’s convinced, from the start, that it’s murder. Determined to find the killer, she asks Xavier Thorn, the greatest sleuth in England, to assist her in solving the crime.

Xavier Thorn is amazed by Vic’s natural talent for intuiting likely possibilities even when given limited facts. The young man’s mind fascinates him and soon his dormant heart awakens as well. He offers Vic the job of his secretary, and by the 2nd day upgrades the pup to an apprentice. He sees a future in which he and Victor can be partners in all ways, if he’s willing to overlook the fellow’s constant cheekiness and occasional failure to come to work unless receiving a note to do so.

Thus, begins the tangled deception, which Xavier must discover, with no help from Vic, that his troublesome apprentice is female. And while all this confusion is going on, they still manage to solve five mysteries….well four and a half. In one case, a portion of the mystery remains a secret to be pondered, even now. How does one become invisible?

2. How do you think readers can relate to your main characters?

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Vic is one of the most likable fellows you’ll ever meet. She’s got the kindness and caring nature of a woman wrapped up in the clothing and determination of a man. She’s highly intelligent, incredibly intuitive, and prone to scolds if you impede the resolution of her cases.

Vic should be highly relatable to the modern woman, because she is much like us. That she could do successfully pretend to be a man in the Victorian age is without question.

There are real documented cases of women living their lives as Victorian men, one in which I share in the preamble of the book. It appears all you had to do to be accepted as a man in the late Victorian Era was to 1) wear a suit and cut your hair, 2) be highly confident and willing to yell at people, 3) be good at your job.

xnv_X smkg pipe with bow tie
Then there is Xavier, a man of logic, who initially believes he has fallen in love with a young man. (He has never been attracted to a man before, but to be honest, he hasn’t be attracted to either sex since he incurred a broken heart in his youth.) But he does not suffer a moment of shame or abhorrence with this new direction his heart has taken. Xavier is a man of logic. He concludes it’s only natural he desires this extraordinary young man who has talents that will compliment his own. What the bloody hell would he do with a wife? He constantly works.

His attitude of non-disgust or shame is most appropriate for this time. The intelligentsia were often openly gay. Even Oscar Wilde was out and about being most flamboyant with his lovers. Later, he would be imprisoned, but that was not because he was gay, but rather because he was stupid enough to sue his lover’s father for libel when the man called him a poser (a term used for a homosexual back then).

Anyone who is uncomfortable with homosexuality should probably skip this book and begin with book 2 when it comes out later this year.

3. What inspired you to write this story?
The true fact that a very small young woman with a high squeaky voice could become the highest ranking physician in the Queen’s army with 44 years of service, proved to me that being a man in the Victorian Era was remarkably easy since they believed women incapable of such deceit or competence. So I created Vic, then had the England’s greatest sleuth give her a job to see how long it would take him to discover the truth. I never imagined how fun the couple would be. IMO, this is the best series I’ve ever written.

4. What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I hope my readers laugh at least a hundred times. And perhaps they will appreciate their own bosses better after meeting Xavier. (He can be most unreasonable.) And of course I want them to enjoy the budding romance between the two main characters and expect they’ll love my secondary characters…well most of them. Some can be quite trying. And don’t forget, we have to solve five mysteries as well. Can you do so before them?

5. Please share a short excerpt 500 words of less
Vic learned much about her new profession over the next four hours.
Lesson one: Waiting for a criminal to show might rank the most tedious and boring occupation in the world.
Lesson two: Remaining perfectly still, stuffed into a dress closet for hours, causes muscle cramps that hurt like bloody hell.
Lesson three: The desire to sniffle can reach a level of mental anguish in less than an hour.
Lesson four: One should always go to the water closet before beginning a surveillance mission.
Lesson five: If not for the mental torture of sniffle prevention, the pain of muscle cramps, and a great need for a toilet, a person waiting to assist would surely fall asleep, for the body is accustomed to sleeping when it’s dark and nothing is going on.
Lesson six: The profession of banking has its good points and should be reassessed.
A soft bumping noise distracted Vic from her list. At first, she suspected Xavier had dozed off and fallen onto the floor. However, as further noise sounded, including the breaking of glass, Vic knew their plan had come to fruition. Soon, they would have Aunt Maddy’s killer.
Vic listened as the window opened followed by a great deal of huffing and wheezing. Finally, the sound of feet thudded onto the floor. Drawers opened and closed while someone systematically searched Aunt Maddy’s room. As time went on, Vic questioned the wisdom of her hiding place. Soon, the man would open the closet to search it as well. Vic readied herself to leap out, deciding surprise would be her best defense.
She could hear the man breathing outside the closet and readied herself for attack. Before the door actually opened, the lights in the room came on and Xavier spoke with a deadly calmness that sent chills down her spine. “Lost something?”

The Writing Process
1. Are you a plotter, a pantser or a combination of both?

223.442% panster…except Vic has run off with all my long pants, so I’m a shortser at the moment.

2. What was your favorite part of the story to write?

The beginning, because I’ve just woken up from sleep with a story plot bouncing about in my head and now I get to flush out personalities and quirks as I write and let them decide where the story is going.

3. Was there a part of the story that was difficult to write?

Not with Victor and Xavier. They are the most delightful couple I have ever written and nothing can break their love. NOTHING. But first Vic’s got to jump in the deep end, and she keeps resisting, throwing one wagon wheel after another. How will we ever get this cart moving?

4. Do you have any quirky writing habits?

I prefer to write in silence, because there is a great deal of noise going on in my head.

5. What advice would you give to other writers?
To be: write.
Otherwise, it’s not to be.
(That’s me being profound.)
Thanks for having me over. This has been a great deal of fun!

XnV Troubled Apprentice 400 x 640
The Adventures of
Xavier & Vic

Book 1
The Troublesome Apprentice
By Liza O’Connor

The Key to Aunt Maddy’s Death
The Missing Husband of Mrs. Wimple
The Disappearing Scarlet Nun
The Clever Butcher’s Wife
The Rescue of Lady Anne

While investigating the death of a friend and client, Maddy Hamilton, Xavier Thorn (reputed to be the greatest sleuth in England) is greatly impressed with Maddy’s nephew, Victor, and offers him a job as his secretary. Aware of Xavier’s history of firing secretaries, Victor garners a promise that for three months he cannot be fired. Vic then proceeds, in Xavier’s view, to be cheeky and impertinent at every turn. Xavier endures the impudent pup because Victor is most skilled in extracting the truth from clients and intuiting facts with little evidence to assist.
As they solve a string of cases, Xavier discovers a few more important details about his troublesome apprentice, such as her true gender, and the realization that she has awakened his long dormant heart.

The Troublesome Assistant

About the author
I’m tired of telling my proper bio. So you get the improper bio.
Liza O’Connor was raised by feral cats, which explains a great deal, such as why she has no manners, is always getting in trouble, and doesn’t behave like a proper author and give you a proper bio.
She is highly unpredictable, both in real life and her stories, and presently is writing humorous romances. Please buy these books, because otherwise, she’ll become grumpy and write troubled novels instead. They will likely traumatize you.

Mostly humorous books by Liza:
Saving Casey – Old woman reincarnates into troubled teen’s body. (Half funny/half traumatizing)
Ghost Lover —Two British brothers fall in love with the same young woman. Ancestral ghost is called in to fix the situation. There’s a ghost cat too. (Humorous Contemporary Romance)
A Long Road to Love Series: (Humorous Contemporary odd Romance)
Worst Week Ever — Laugh out loud week of disasters of Epic proportions.
Oh Stupid Heart — The heart wants what it wants, even if it’s impossible.
Coming to Reason — There is a breaking point when even a saint comes to reason.
Climbing out of Hell — The reconstruction of a terrible man into a great one.

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