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Please welcome Anne Cleeland back to the blog! She is promoting her latest book, Murder in Hindsight. Naturally, she will give a copy of the book to one of you. All you have to do is leave a comment telling her you want it.

We’ll start with the intriguing cover!

 

Murder In Hindsight2

Now the blurb.

There’s an unusual killer combing London’s streets—a vigilante is at work, killing suspects from prior cases who were never convicted; those who’d gotten away with murder, in hindsight.

It’s a puzzler, though; this vigilante is staying to the shadows, and covering his tracks so that Detective Sergeant Kathleen Doyle is left to guess at his motivation.  Is the killer guilty about his own role in helping murderers get off, or is it someone who’s just had-it-up-to-here with the imperfect justice system?

Meanwhile, the crises keep piling up; Chief Inspector Acton, her husband, is up to something having to do with brassy female reporters and the heir to his estate, and when Acton is up to something, murder and mayhem are the certain result.  Not to mention she’s needed to quash a messy little blackmail plot, and do battle with the dowager Lady Acton.  All in all, it will make for a busy few weeks; now, if only the ghosts that haunt the manor house would leave her alone. . .

And an excerpt.

Detective Sergeant Kathleen Doyle was fretting; fretting and stalling until Detective Chief Inspector Acton could make an appearance whilst she tried to appear calm and composed in front of the Scene of the Crime Officers. As a newly-promoted DS, she should maintain a certain dignity and display her leadership abilities, even though she was longing to bite her nails and peer over the hedgerow toward the park entrance.   The various Scotland Yard forensics personnel were impatiently waiting because Acton was delayed, and Doyle had a good guess as to why he was delayed.  One of these fine days, someone else may make the same guess, and then the wretched cat would be among the wretched pigeons—although the mind boggled, trying to imagine Acton being called on the carpet by Professional Standards.  Pulling out her mobile, she pretended to make a call just to appear busy.

“I’ll lose the light soon, ma’am.”  The SOCO photographer approached, cold and unhappy, and small blame to her; Doyle was equally cold and unhappy, but with better reason.

“Ten more minutes,” Doyle assured her, holding a hand over her mobile so as to interrupt her pretend-conversation. “Then we’ll move forward—whether DCI Acton makes it or no.”  She wanted Acton to have a look before the corpse was processed and removed, but she could always show him the photos.

The woman immediately plucked up. “No hurry; we can wait, if the DCI is on his way.”

Has a crush on him, the brasser, thought Doyle.  Join the club, my friend; the woman probably had some private photographs she’d be all too happy to show Acton in her spare time.  The SOCO photographer used to treat Doyle with barely-concealed contempt, but her attitude had improved remarkably after the bridge-jumping incident. A few months ago, Doyle had jumped off Greyfriars Bridge into the Thames to save a colleague, and was now a celebrated hero.  All in all, it was a mixed blessing, because Doyle was not one who craved the spotlight and now she was perceived as sort of a female version of St. George—except that she’d rescued the dragon instead of the maiden, when you thought about it.

Irish by birth and fey by nature, Doyle had an uncanny ability to read people, and in particular she could recognize a lie when she heard it.  This perceptive ability had launched her career as a detective, but it also made her reclusive by nature—it was no easy thing, to be able to pick up on the currents and cross-currents of emotion swirling around her. The SOCO photographer, for example, was lusting after the vaunted Chief Inspector but bore Doyle no particular ill-will for being married to him, since she was the heroic bridge-jumper and thus above reproach.

With a nod of her head, the photographer gestured toward the victim, being as she didn’t want to take her hands out of her pockets until it was necessary.  “Is there something special about this one, then?”

There was, but Doyle did not want to say, especially before the loose-lipped SOCOs who were notoriously inclined to blather in their cups—it came from wading knee-deep in guts all the livelong day. So instead, she equivocated, “There are a few details that are worrisome, is all.  I wanted the DCI to have a quick look.”

Buy links: Amazon

About Anne.

Anne CleelandAnne Cleeland is a lifelong Southern California resident, and currently makes her home in Newport Beach. An attorney by trade, she’s been reading mystery stories since her Nancy Drew days, and especially loves Agatha Christie and the other Golden Age British mystery writers.  The Acton & Doyle series features two Scotland Yard detectives, and if you are a fan of Masterpiece Mystery, you may enjoy their adventures.

Anne also writes a historical series set in 1814 because she loves historicals, too. Being a romantic at heart, all her stories have a strong romantic element.

She has four grown children, three wonderful grandchildren, and one nutty dog.

www.annecleeland.com @annecleeland

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While I’m off on the last stop of my blog tour at Karen’s Killer Fixen’s. , Anne is going to introduce you to her latest release, Murder In Retribution! The second installment of Anne Cleeland’s Acton & Doyle Scotland Yard series. The two detectives are investigating an escalating turf war between two underworld factions.

Ann is giving away one print copy to a commenter who tells her you want the book!

Murder In Retribution cover

Now the blurb.

Perhaps there’s nothing more to the murders than under-the-table business dealings gone wrong, but Doyle is uneasy because there’s something here that doesn’t make sense. . .and sometimes vengeance takes a wrong turn.

Here’s the starred review from Library Journal:

“While dealing with the aftermath of their relationship going public, DC Kathleen Doyle and CI Michael Acton set out to discover who is behind a rash of underworld murders in London. As the couple try to find a balance between their work and personal lives, everything escalates when violence hits close to home. In addition to dealing with her not-so-traditional marriage to Acton, Doyle must face some hard truths during her investigation that might better have stayed unrevealed. VERDICT Doyle and Acton are incredibly flawed and engaging protagonists who stay in the reader’s mind long after the case is solved and the last page turned. With just a second book (after Murder in Thrall), Cleeland is developing a memorable series that will captivate fans of police procedurals and complicated sleuths such as the protagonist in Carol O’Connell’s “Mallory” series.”

Here’s an excerpt:

Detective Constable Doyle and Detective Chief Inspector Acton crouched on the cement floor of the aqueduct and peered into the conduit that diverted surface waters into the greater London drainage system. Lodged in the conduit—dry at this time of year—was the decomposing body of an adult white male of perhaps forty years.  Doyle held a paper mask over her face because the odor was making her stomach heave, and they studied the crime scene in silence while the SOCOs—Scene of the Crime Officers—stood by, clad in their paper bunny suits and awaiting instruction. Weak morning sunshine filtered through the trees lining the aqueduct, which ran though a remote wooded area near Epping Forest.

“Less than a week?” suggested Doyle.

“Perhaps,” said Acton. “Difficult to say—it is cool down here, and so we’ll wait for the Coroner to come up with something more precise.” He glanced at her. “Ready to pull him over?”

Doyle nodded, unaccountably annoyed that he was being so deferential, and they carefully rolled the corpse over, allowing the SOCO photographer to step in and take photos as they studied the decedent. It was an unusual wound; the man had been shot in the face with a large caliber weapon. An act of rage, thought Doyle; not your average professional job, which was a bit strange as all other aspects indicated a professional job. The remains of the face were a mess as the maggots had been busy, and between this gruesome sight and the odor of decomposition, Doyle made a strangled sound in her throat and wished she were elsewhere.

“Need a moment?” asked Acton quietly, motioning the photographer away.

“No. I am in perfect curl.” Annoyed, she broadened her Irish accent so that she pronounced it “paarfect,” just so he was aware she was annoyed—not that there was any mistaking. She knew she was being childish, snapping away at him, but couldn’t seem to help herself; she was miserable, he knew she was miserable, and he was walking on eggshells which was a sad, sad testament to her supposed role as his helpmeet.  Unconsciously lifting a hand to bite her nails, she was thwarted in this desire by her latex gloves, and so instead fought an almost overwhelming urge to cry. Or start throwing things; either, or.

Acton’s dark eyes rested on her for a moment and then returned to study the body. “It would probably be best to know for certain.”

With a monumental effort, Doyle took hold of her foolish, sorry self. “I do know for certain. I took a pregnancy test this mornin’.”  Best not to mention that she had panicked, thinking he’d discover the evidence, and so had thrown the stupid stick out the bathroom window, no easy feat from seven stories up.

He raised his gaze to meet hers.

“I am wretchedly sorry, Michael; I am bein’ such a baby and I can’t seem to help myself.” She sighed so that her mask puffed out and then collapsed again.

He touched her hand and said with quiet emphasis, “I am not sorry; it is wonderful news, Kathleen.”

It was the truth—which came as a complete surprise. Doyle had an innate ability to read people, and she could usually tell when someone was lying. Presumably, this ability was inherited from some Irish ancestor—hopefully one who hadn’t been burned at the stake as a result—and it was a mixed blessing; it was no easy thing to constantly aware of the currents of emotions that swirled around her at any given time. Acton guarded his own emotions very closely but she knew on this occasion he was speaking the pure truth. It was a huge relief, all in all.

Fearing she would disgrace herself by being sick during what should be a sentimental milestone in married life, she stood and backed away a step, taking in a deep breath and trying to settle her stomach.  Acton rose to stand alongside her and the SOCO team took this as a cue that the visual inspection by the detective staff had now concluded—although there had been precious little detecting done, thus far.  As Acton nodded permission, the examiner moved in to bag the corpse’s hands and conduct preliminary tests for trace evidence before the body itself would be bagged and removed.  After the man moved away, Doyle continued, “And do not pretend this blessed turn of events is not completely my fault.”

“Oh? I feel I may have had a hand in it.”  He cocked his head, trying to tease her out of the sullens.

For whatever reason, this attempt to humor her only succeeded in making her more annoyed and she made a hot retort. “I am well-aware that you have no self control, my friend; mine is the burden of keepin’ you at arm’s length.”

“You failed miserably,” he agreed. “A very memorable occasion.”

She had to duck her head to suppress an inappropriate smile; it wouldn’t do at all to be seen giggling while this poor mucker’s mangled body was supposedly under examination.

 

Buy Links: Amazon ~ B&N

 

about Anne.

Anne Cleeland

Anne Cleeland holds a degree in English from UCLA as well as a degree in law from Pepperdine University, and is a member of the California State Bar.  She writes a historical series set in the Regency period as well as a contemporary mystery series set in New Scotland Yard.  A member of Romance Writers of America, The Historical Novel Society and Mystery Writers of America, she lives in California and has four children.  www.annecleeland.com; @annecleeland.

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This has been a pretty quite week. I’ve not received the names of the winners from the blogs I’ve been on, and, due to a cyber glitch, my editor has not selected a title yet. We do have one book winner though!!

CongratulationsMelissa Keir won Anne Cleeland’s book!! Congratulations, Melissa!!

Except for a wonderful day spent with fellow author, Amy Pfaff, when she came in on a cruise ship, I’ve spent most of the week working on my Christmas novella for 2014. This is Georges and Madeleine’s story. If you’ve read The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh, you’ll remember the not always very likable, shadowy French guy. Having to limit my word count to 25,000 is a real struggle for me, but it will get done. I also foresee lots of editing.

Here is an excerpt. Tell me what you think.

September 1814, Beaune, France

Madeleine, Comtesse du Beaune, laid her pen down on the old cherry desk. Thank the Lord she had a head for numbers. Each vineyard, even the ones that held only one or two rows were accounted for. If only the central government had allowed her to completely take her father’s position as négociant. Better a wine-trader than a dead Aristo or a pauper, papa had said. Mamma had begged him to take the family to England, but he would not leave France. Yet now he was dead, and no one could explain how it had come about. After all, a man who did not ride horses anymore could hardly fall off one and break his neck. What was worse was Monsieur Coupe, the person who had been assigned to oversee Madeleine’s work.

A knock sounded on the door, and it opened. “Milady, Monsieur Coupe”—her butler, Durant’s, lip lifted in a sneer—“is here to see you.”

She’d like to cut Monsieur Coupe’s male parts off and feed them to the pig.

This time of year Magen’s gets every north swell going. It makes walking a challenge, and paddle boarding not much fun. So, I’m taking you to Secret Harbor on the East end of the island.

Secret Harbor

I wasn’t the only one paddling. People paddling

I love seeing the boats.

boats

So what do you think of the new beach?

Have a wonderful week,

Ella

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Please welcome Anne Cleeland to the blog today. Anne is giving away a copy of her book, Murder in Thrall, and talking about secondary characters, one of my favorite topics.

Here is the cover.

MURDER IN THRALL

 

And the blurb.

From Anne Cleeland comes the first in a captivating new mystery series, following the perilous exploits of two Scotland Yard detectives as they track down London’s most elusive killer.  .  .

First-year detective Kathleen Doyle and Chief Inspector Michael Sinclair, Lord Acton, are a most unlikely pair. An Irish redhead of humble beginnings and modest means, Doyle is the antithesis of Acton, the British lord who has established himself as a brilliant but enigmatic figure with a knack for solving London’s most high profile homicides. But Acton senses something exceptional beneath Doyle’s awkward naiveté and taps her to help him with his investigations. And her spot-on intuition is just what he needs to solve a chilling string of murders.  .  .

When a horse trainer is found dead at a racetrack, Doyle and Acton begin interviewing witnesses and the victim’s associates, but the killer continues to strike and they’re left with more questions than answers. Their investigation is further muddled by their colleagues at CID Headquarters, whose career-driven jealousies and workplace blunders could jeopardize the case–and their nosing into the nature of Doyle and Acton’s after hours relationship could lay bare the most classified information of all.  .  .

Perhaps the trainer was the target of a jilted lover on a killing spree. Or maybe the victims were collateral damage in a political coup gone awry. As the murders pile up, Doyle and Acton uncover something far more sadistic than they could have imagined, and now that they know too much, they’ll find themselves squarely in the crosshairs of a cold-blooded killer.  .  .

Buy link: Amazon

Scheming Rivals and Deplorable Relatives: How Minor Characters Enrich a Romance

            Although opinions may vary, a list of the best romances of all time would probably include these four stories near the top:  Pride and Prejudice, Outlander, Jane Eyre, and Twilight.

What do these stories have in common?  The heroine has a Deplorable Relative as well as a Scheming Rival.  But that’s not all; the heroine also has a Kind Friend to confide in, a Despicable Villain to best, and at least one acquaintance who seems impossibly good.

Notice that—while the heroine is usually a complex combination of character traits—the secondary players all tend to fit into time-honored roles, almost as though they are placeholders.  There’s a reason for this, and it’s been the same reason since fairy tales were first recited: it makes for a very satisfying story.

In Pride and Prejudice, Lizzie and Darcy’s happily ever after is made all the more sweet because we know Caroline Bingley is gnashing her teeth in frustrated rage somewhere.  Ditto for Blanche Ingram in Jane Eyre who is—when you think about it—the same character as Caroline Bingley, and the same character as the Baroness von Schraeder in The Sound of Music, and the same character as either of the wicked stepsisters (take your pick) in Cinderella.  We get an extra measure of satisfaction when the union of the lovers also thwarts the Mean Girl, who didn’t deserve the hero in the first place.

Another staple character is the Deplorable Relative—which probably strikes such a chord because everyone has one.  The heroine is related to someone she’d rather not be related to, and it serves as another source of hardship.  Again, there is a fairy tale aspect to this element; Mrs. Bennet may not be wicked, but she is an embarrassment to Lizzie and one more reason she is ineligible as a potential bride.   Mrs. Reed is downright wicked to Jane, even after her promise to Jane’s dead uncle.  Bella’s mother sets all events in train by marrying someone unsuitable, and Dougal MacKenzie is not exactly what you would call a supportive uncle-in-law.

Of course, there are always exceptions to these placeholder roles—in Gone with the Wind, the Scheming Rival is the heroine of the story, after all—but in general, the addition of these tried-and-true characters helps to make a story three-dimensional and in a satisfying way, predictable.  As soon as we realize there is a Scheming Rival, we happily settle in to await her inevitable comeuppance.   When we are introduced to the Deplorable Relative, we are immediately aware that he or she will contribute to the conflict in the story—because that’s what Deplorable Relatives always do. And although we weep when the Impossibly Good Person dies, we saw it coming from a mile away.

In Daughter of the God-King, one of the secondary characters is the heroine’s companion, Bing.   Before I sold the story, an agent was very taken with this character, and suggested that I concoct a “story arc” for her.  I respectfully disagreed; Bing is the placeholder for the Staunch Supporter and in my view has no business competing with the heroine’s storyline.

The classic romance is all about the heroine—the heroine and her journey to happily ever after.  This being said, the storyline is enhanced many times over when along that journey the heroine interacts with interesting secondary characters—whether they be Staunch Supporters,  Vile Betrayers, or Kindly Benefactors.  It’s no coincidence that many of our favorite stories have a large, well-drawn supporting cast, and the heroine becomes a stronger and more compelling character because of it.

Who are your favorite secondary characters, and why?

Anne CleelandAnne Cleeland is the author of Murder in Thrall, the first book in a new mystery series featuring Acton and Doyle, two Scotland Yard detectives.   She is an attorney living in California, and also writes a historical fiction series.  Her website is http://www.annecleeland.com.

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Regency Mystery Author Anne Cleeland

Regency Mystery Author Anne Cleeland

Please help me welcome fellow Regency author Anne Cleeland. She is here today to promote her debut novel, Tainted Angel. Anne is also giving away a copy of her book to one lucky commenter. As usual, to be eligible all you have to do it leave your email with a comment.

Ella: Anne you’re a lawyer, what made you decide to write historical romance?

Anne:  Technically, I’ve always made my living by writing— but instead of fiction I wrote dry-as-dust legal briefs (adverbs and adjectives strictly prohibited!)   I’ve read Regencies all my life, and so I decided to try my hand at writing the kind of stories I love to read.  My favorite stories are about ordinary women swept up in extraordinary events, so that’s what I like to write.

Ella: When did your muse first move in? Can you tell us a little about your writing journey?

Anne:   I was constantly writing ideas in a spiral notebook, but I was too intimidated to actually sit down and start a serious project. One day I went to listen to Stephanie Laurens speak to my local RWA chapter, and she explained that she doesn’t plot out her books, but writes scene-to-scene. This was exactly what I needed to hear, and I went home and just got started. My advice is to everyone else in the same boat is to do just that—buy a comfortable laptop and bang out a few paragraphs at a time. You’ll be surprised at how easy it really is.

Ella: Now you don’t write the usual Regency romance, yours are mysteries. Would you compare yourself to C.S. Harris?

Anne:  I always thought of myself as writing Regency adventure, until I was informed that there was really no such sub-genre. This series combines historical fiction with mystery or adventure—as though alter-egos Jean Plaidy and Victoria Holt collaborated together on a project. My favorite example of this type of story is Georgette Heyer’s The Toll Gate, where the plot arises from a scheme to disrupt England’s treasury. The villains are real and the stakes are high—not the usual romance that Heyer offers up (although I love the romances, too.) 

A continuing theme in these books is courage, and how ordinary women react when extraordinary circumstances require them to be brave, come what may.  After her terrible experiences in the war, the heroine is content to retreat into her shadowy, solitary work that requires no honesty and where trust is to be avoided at all costs.  But despite herself, she finds hidden depths of courage; the courage to face her past, her fears and to fight for a future that she once thought impossible.

Ella: What’s next?

Anne:  I have a contemporary British detective series coming out in August, and the first book is called Murder in Thrall, if any of your readers like mysteries.  In November, the second historical in this Regency series will come out; Daughter of the God-King. It is about a heroine who travels to Egypt after her famous archeologist parents disappear, only to discover that various factions from the last war are desperate to find her—for reasons that are unclear. She begins to suspect that her love interest is not what he seems, and she doesn’t know whether she can trust him, or trust no one as she uncovers one devastating secret after the other, all while the next war looms on the horizon.

In The Bengal Bridegift, the heroine has grown up in India because her father was a sea captain for the East India Company—unless he wasn’t, and was instead a traitor to the Crown.  Meanwhile, the enemy believes she knows where her father hid a cache of diamonds disguised as her bridegift, and they are in ruthless pursuit of her and of this imagined treasure.  Her love interest is a former Barbary pirate, who may or may not be after the diamonds himself.

Ella: What five things do you want your readers to know about Tainted Angel?

Anne: Tainted Angel is the first book in a new Regency series that combines romance with adventure—the heroine is swept up in a game of spies, with the fate of the world at stake.  Here are five fast facts:

  1. The story is a Regency version of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, with the hero and the heroine playing a deadly game of cat and mouse.

2.   Neither the hero nor the heroine is who they appear to be.

3.   The hero is a widower, but the circumstances surrounding his first wife’s death are                 unclear.

4.   Someone is stealing gold shipments meant for the British army on the continent.

5.   The climactic scene takes place during a masquerade party on a London river barge—and both the hero and heroine must make the fateful choice between love and allegiance.

Tainted Angel

Tainted Angel

Ella: Ok, here’s what you’ve all been waiting for, an excerpt of and buy links for Tainted Angel!

The role of the tender lover was quickly abandoned—much to her relief—and he gave an elliptical answer. “There is much at stake; caution is advised.”

Eying him sidelong, she tried to gauge his thoughts, knowing all the while it was hopeless—he would only reveal what he wished, and if his aim was to arrest her he would reveal precious little. “Will you promise to give me one minute’s warning before I am clapped in irons? I would do the same for you, you know.”

“You will not be clapped in irons,” he said immediately, but she noted he didn’t meet her eye, and hid a flare of alarm.

“No,” she replied with forced lightness. “I would simply disappear, leaving you free to give my wrap to your next mark.”

“Don’t.” He made an involuntary gesture of protest, and the blue eyes finally met hers with a fierce intensity that she could swear was genuine. “But if you know anything of these matters, Vidia, best to say and to say immediately.”

“I cannot decide,” she wondered aloud as they rounded the corner of her street, “whether our interlude that first night was strictly business. If it was, you did a very poor job of pressing for information as opposed to simply pressing.”

He was not fooled by her tone. “You are angry and I cannot blame you. But I assure you it was not strictly business.”

Coming to her town house, she wondered if she was making a monumental mistake—attempting to be honest with him. But she had decided—there on the street with his subtle insincerity grating on her nerves—that she couldn’t continue as she was; not with him. Perhaps he will be my downfall, she thought. But it hardly matters anymore—I am seventeen again, and just as foolish as I was then.

I hope your readers will enjoy Tainted Angel, available on Amazon and at a Barnes & Noble near you. Thank you so much for the opportunity.

Author Bio:

Anne Cleeland holds a degree in English from UCLA as well as a degree in law from Pepperdine University, and is a member of the California State Bar.  She writes a historical fiction series set in the Regency period as well as a contemporary mystery series set in New Scotland Yard.  A member of the Historical Novel Society and Mystery Writers of America, she lives in California and has four children.

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