This Christmas Book Tour & Giveaway

Welcome to the Prism Book Tours: This Christmas Book Tour. This book is written by Laurie Winter. The Book Tour will last from October 19-24.

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

This Christmas (The North Star Series #1) By Laurie Winter Contemporary Romantic Suspense Paperback & ebook, 240Pages October 20, 2020

‘A beautiful story of loss and new love, set in a snow-capped mountain ski resort town.’

Celia Batista waited a long time for all three of her sons to be together for Christmas. But after one of her identical twins disappears without a trace, Celia must rely on Police Captain Luke Veldkamp for help. Despite Luke’s accusations that her other twin son is involved with organized crime, she falls for the handsome, Stetson wearing cop.

Luke Veldkamp is facing his first Christmas after the loss of his wife, working nonstop to avoid the holidays and his grief. His daughter, who’d moved home to care for her mom before her passing, pushes him to face his pain. Luke pushes back, telling her to return to college and regain her own life. If his own strife isn’t enough, the mission to locate the missing son of his beautiful neighbor grows more personal than any other case.

While Luke and Celia fight to keep their families from falling apart, they find comfort and strength in one another. And when love blooms between their children, Luke and Celia’s own relationship takes root and grows. But Celia is used to living on her own terms, and loving a man who has isolated his heart is a risk too great. Now, Luke must either confront his emotions or face a life without the woman he’s come to love.

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About the Author

Laurie Winter’s head has always been full of stories. Then a dream gave her the inspiration to put her thought into written words, sharing a part of her heart and soul. Now, she creates authentic characters who overcome the odds and find true love. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, daughter, and rescue dog. Please connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Bookbub.

WebsiteGoodreads | BookBub | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Tour Schedule

Tour Giveaway

One winner will receive a Loqi Reusable Shopping Bag with birds design, Soy Wax Candle – Snowflake and a $25 Amazon gift card (US only)

Ends October 28, 2020


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Luke climbed into the protection of his vehicle, started the engine, and pulled out of the police department parking lot. He turned onto Main Street. Coming into view through his windshield was a majestic panorama that still left him awestruck. 

The snowcapped peaks of the Wasatch Mountain Range loomed ahead like icy giants, guarding the town. A bank of thick clouds rolled over the mountains, filled with moisture that would soon release multitudes of snowflakes. Deep shadows of fir and spruce trees covered the side of the mountains, and the remaining daylight highlighted white tipped peaks. He never wanted to lose the excitement and wonder of the natural beauty surrounding him. 

Downtown Polaris was bustling with activity. Most of the small shops on Main Street had closed for the night, but the restaurants and bars were well lit and drawing large crowds of tourists. Strands of Christmas lights hung on every building, and a massive, decorated pine tree was placed at the entrance to the city park. The holiday cheer mocked him. He calculated the cost of electricity. So many better ways that money could be put to use. 

@2020, copyright Lisa Ehrman

I Love You Always Book Blitz

I Love you Always

One Family’s Alzheimer’s/Dementia Journey and the Lessons Learned Along the Way 

Non Fiction

Date Published: July 10, 2020 

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“I Love You Always” introduces you to Lottie Mae Polk Berry, a self-proclaimed badass who battles Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia for years, hoping to make it to age 90. Her daughter, LaBena, gives a detailed account of Lottie’s life from her teenage years, through diagnosis and beyond. 

“I Love You Always” will have you on an emotional roller-coaster as Lottie’s wit and antics send you into hysterical laughter one moment and leave you silently sobbing the next. Calm, turbulence, and laughter are recurring themes throughout. 

Her children struggle to see that she receives the best medical care while hoping, in spite of her condition, that she makes it to her 90th birthday. LaBena shares valuable caregiver tips she’s learned, in the form of “lessons” throughout the book as well messages of faith in the form of beloved biblical passages. Believers and non-believers alike can benefit from reading this story. 

About the Author

LaBena Fleming was born in Detroit, Michigan, raised in Ravenna, Ohio, and presently resides in Richmond Heights, Ohio with her husband. LaBena received her bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Development from Notre Dame College of Ohio. She went on to earn master’s degrees in Education and Educational Administration from Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, Ohio. A former insurance industry professional, school teacher/administrator, and community education and outreach coordinator for an organ and tissue procurement organization, LaBena retired from her position as Provider Relations Manager/Community Outreach and Education Coordinator with Hospice of the Western Reserve in 2017. Retiring afforded LaBena the opportunity to serve as one of the caregivers for her mother, who had Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. 

LaBena currently enjoys spending time with her husband, daughters, and granddaughter, public speaking, gardening, cooking, traveling, reading, and of course writing. Although she has always “dabbled” in writing; having written multiple poems and freelancing for a few greeting card companies, I Love You Always is her first book. 

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RABT Book Tours & PR

A Beautiful Broken Life

A Beautiful Broken Life

a beautiful broken life
Zoey Zane
Publication date: December 3rd 2020
Genres: Poetry, Romance

some of the best and worst things come in pairs
and two has always been my favorite number

they tried to break me
the two of them

if this was black and white
there’d be a clear winner

but it’s not
and there isn’t

there is only my story
muddled with color

Add to Goodreads / Pre-order

Author Bio:

Zoey Zane is an aspiring author and poet, who has been a zealous reader for most of her life. She has a love for dark romance and thrillers, two genres that dominate most of the space on her bookshelves. a beautiful broken life is her first poetry collection. Zoey lives in Tennessee with her husband, their son, and their adorable pitbull-mix. For Zoey, writing has never been optional; like eating and breathing are essential to living. Writing is like that childhood toy you lost during a move, but then you find out your mother saved it for when you got older. There’s that huge section of life where it’s missing, but the craving is always there. She has always wanted to write poetry, has a love for creative writing, collects bookmarks, and truly believes all people should use the Oxford comma. If you can figure out how Zoey Zane (very) loosely relates to her real name, she’ll give you a cookie. Oh, and a signed paperback of her book.

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Killer Deadline Book Tour & Giveaway

Killer Deadline
Join us for this tour from Sep 21 to Oct 16, 2020!

Book Details:

Book TitleKiller Deadline (A Nikki Bryant Cozy Mystery) by Lauren Carr
Category:  Adult Fiction (18 +),  232 pages
Genre:  Mystery/Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Acorn Book Services
Release date:   April 23, 2020
Audiobook release date: August 5, 2020
Content Rating: G. This is a true cozy mystery. No sex. No on-stage violence. No swearing. Just good clean fun!

“Here we go! Carr is a master storyteller who always offers a plot full of twists and turns, a bit of humor to offset the dark, and a unique cast of characters. In Killer Deadline that cast includes – handsome Ryan, her first love (who is now her step-brother); a mysterious social media friend called Nerdy Guy; Elmo, a super smart dog, a boxer, she rescued who has become a social media star and has a penchant for cleaning; a TV station full of suspicious employees; and more.

“This book is a wonderful read to pick up at the end of a long day. It truly is a “cozy murder mystery.”  I promise, it’ll draw you in right from page one and keep you turning the pages until you reach the very last page. I can’t wait for the second book in this series.” – Marilyn R. Wilson, Olio by Marilyn

Book Description:

Folks in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, claim that where Nikki Bryant goes, trouble is not far behind. Her refusal to back down from a challenge has made Nikki Bryant a top investigative journalist.

When an online friend nudges her to join him in a pact to reconnect with their first loves, Nikki and her boxer dog Elmo leave the bright lights of Las Vegas for the charming town of Pine Grove. There, she must face the biggest challenges in her career and life—the first love she had left behind and her father’s unsolved murder.

But before she has time to unpack her car, Nikki stumbles upon the dead body of local news anchor, Ashleigh Addison, her childhood rival. Could Ashleigh’s death be connected to an explosive news story that she had teased about airing live? Did that explosive story have anything to do with the murder of Nikki’s father?

With the clues in her father’s cold case hot again, Nikki intends to chase down the story of her life until she catches his killer—no matter what it takes. 
Buy the Book: ~ Audible ~ BookBub
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Meet the Author:

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, Chris Matheson Cold Case, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty-five titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Killer Deadline marks Lauren’s first venture into mystery’s purely cozy sub-genre with a female protagonist.

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.

​A popular speaker, Lauren is also the owner of Acorn Book Service, the umbrella under which falls iRead Book Tours. She lives with her husband and two spoiled rotten German Shepherds on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with the author: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Instagram ~ Pinterest ~ Bookbub

Tour Schedule:

Sep 21 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Sep 22 – Books, Tea, Healthy Me – audiobook review / author interview / giveaway
Sep 23 – seasons of opportunities – audiobook review
Sep 23 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – audiobook review / guest post / giveaway
Sep 23 – A Page Before Bedtime –book review / giveaway
Sep 24 – I’m All About Books – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 25 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Sep 28 – Stephanie Jane – book spotlight / giveaway
Sep 29 – Viviana MacKade – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Sep 29 – Blooming with Books – audiobook review / giveaway
Oct 1 – The Book View – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 2 – My Journey Back – audiobook review / giveaway
Oct 5 – eBook Addicts – audiobook review
Oct 5 – Pen Possessed – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 6 – fundinmental – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 6 – Bound 4 Escape – audiobook review / giveaway
Oct 7 – Library of Clean Reads – book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 7 – Buried Under Books – audiobook review / giveaway
Oct 8 – Mystery Suspense Reviews – audiobook review / author interview / giveaway
Oct 9 – Hall Ways Blog – audiobook review / giveaway
Oct 12 – Amy’s Booket List – audiobook review / giveaway
Oct 12 – Deborah-Zenha Adams – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 13 – jea reads/instagram – book review
Oct 13 – Book Lover in Florida – book review / giveaway
Oct 13 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 14 – Christa Reads and Writes – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 15 – My Reading Journeys – audiobook review / author interview / giveaway

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Guest Post

How to Kill Your Boss Without Getting Arrested…or Sued

By Lauren Carr

I can say with confidence that every time I make a new acquaintance who discovers that I write murder mysteries, they are bound at some point to shoot me a worried expression and ask, “Do you ever kill anyone you know in your books?”

I will reply quite honestly, “Yes.”

That’s why I have no friends.

I don’t always kill people I know. Sometimes I kill absolute strangers. Sometimes I make people who tick me off killers. Or sometimes I’ll make them just plain so nasty that everyone sees them for the evil villain they are. 

However, as anyone who is not living under a rock will tell you, and me, and any writer, to blatantly write someone you know into a book can be a litigiously dangerous operation. Yes,  

For this article, I am addressing the use of real people and situations from the artistic point of fiction. Writers can and have been sued and there have been cases in which the plaintiff has won such lawsuits. So, before you kill your mother-in-law into your next whodunit, you should do your legal research on how best to do it without getting sued.

For the sake of this article, since I am not a lawyer, I am address the creative aspects of killing her … or your boss, or your ex, or just that nasty psycho neighbor across the street arrested without ruining your literary masterpiece or getting arrested. 

Frankly, writers have every right to kill real people on paper. What writer isn’t inspired by the things, people, places, and circumstances around them? If you make all those things off limits for fear of being sued, then you are turning off the faucet for an abundance of material to draw upon.

The best writers will not write someone into a book simply because they got ticked off and wanted the world to know about it, even subconsciously (usually … mostly … okay, generally)

Here’s why. Say you’re writing a book and your boss really ticks you off. I mean really, really ticks you off and you decide, “I’ll get her.” 

Seventy-two pages into your work-in-progress, you insert your boss. Maybe you even go back to the beginning and insert scenes with her in them.  You changed the name and maybe make her a dyed blonde with gray roots, but it’s her none-the less and you’re telling the whole world what she did to you in the subplot of your comedy. Most likely, the reader, not knowing anything about what happened between you and the boss, will come away scratching his head and wondering, “What was the point of that subplot?” 

Experienced authors use real people and situations in fiction the way an accomplished chef uses ingredients in a delightful recipe. A chef doesn’t simply throw spices in because it strikes her fancy. With the first priority being the meal, the chef will only put in that which will improve on the final experience of the diner.

Admittedly, it is not only my worst enemies who inspire me. I’ve been inspired by friends. 

For example, among all of the suspects, victims, and witnesses in Killer Deadline, the first installment in the Nikki Bryant Cozy Mysteries, there is Meredith Norris, the bright sunny meteorologist turned television host and local celebrity. She likable, pretty, and steers away from drama. Yes, she does serve a purpose in the plot. When it came to creating the character of Meredith, my mind wondered to a friend who has everything in proper perspective. Always steady and calm.

But then, I have also been inspired by total strangers.

A few years ago, while on a pit stop on the way to Snow Shoe, West Virginia, I was sitting in the car when I saw a man come out of the bathroom, purchase a soda at the machine, and go to his car. He was medium height, black hair on top of his head with gray from the temples down, like a gray strip around his head. Under a hook nose that was so huge it looked fake, his mustache was bushy and gray and he had a gray goatee. He also had a pot belly above his waist that made him look nine months pregnant and about ready to burst.

This stranger’s appearance was so intriguing that I have stored him away in my memory to use later in a book. I still don’t know what book yet. I may kill him. Or maybe he’ll turn out to be a killer? Maybe. Maybe not. You’ll need to read my books to find out.

Christmas Charms Book Blitz & Giveaway

Christmas Charms

Christmas Charms
Teri Wilson
Published by: Hallmark Publishing
Publication date: October 6th 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

She never dreamed her holiday would include
her hometown, a dog, or a firefighter.
But a mysterious charm bracelet 
predicted it all…

Ashley’s supposed to be having the Christmas of her dreams. After four years of working at an upscale jewelry store in Manhattan, she’s finally going to get a little velvet box of her own—from her boyfriend Jeremy, who’s taking her on a romantic trip to Paris. What could go wrong? 

Well, everything. 

Ashley heads home to Owl Lake instead, falling asleep on the train ride there…and waking up with a beautiful antique charm bracelet on her wrist. Soon, she realizes that each silver charm predicts an event that happens in real life. What does this mean for her and Jeremy…or her and Aidan, her former high school boyfriend, who’s now a local firefighter? Is there still a chance that she could have the perfect Christmas?

This small town Christmas romance includes a free Hallmark original recipe for Spiced Walnut Crust Cookies with Chocolate Ganache and Sea Salt.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo


Attention, passengers. This is your conductor speaking. We’re nearing the Owl Lake Station, our final stop. All train passengers must disembark. Thank you for traveling by rail, and have a happy holiday season.

I jolt awake, disoriented as the train comes to a stop. The overhead lights have been turned up brighter, and I seem to be the only person left in my car. My heart sinks as I realize that the seat Betty occupied is now empty.

I’ve missed the chance to tell her goodbye.

I sit up, rubbing the sleep from my eyes, and something in my lap shifts. When I look down, I spot a familiar red bundle—it’s the stocking Betty had been knitting while I shared my story. There’s a small lump near its toe, and when I gather the stocking in my hands, it makes a jingling sound.

No. My heart hammers in my chest. It can’t be.

I reach inside, and as soon as my fingertips brush against cool silver, I know it’s true. Betty has left me her vintage charm bracelet.

My astonished gaze travels over it, moving from charm to charm, and I run the pad of my thumb over the bracelet’s interlocking links. The charms swivel in place, almost as if they’re winking at me. I can hardly believe it. This bracelet can’t possibly be mine. There’s no way I can accept it. It’s far too precious for Betty to give it away to a perfect stranger.

I glance up and down the aisle, but she’s nowhere to be seen. She must have gotten off at an earlier stop, and I slept right through it. How can this be happening?

I peer inside the knit stocking, hoping she’s left me her contact information. If so, I’ll return the bracelet the first chance I get. Sure enough, there’s a small piece of paper folded into a square deep inside the stocking’s round toe. But when I unfold the note and scan Betty’s swirling cursive script, there isn’t a hint of an address or phone number. Not even her full name. She’s only written a single, mysterious sentence.

Please wear this and have the Christmas of your dreams.

Author Bio:

Teri Wilson is a Publishers Weekly bestselling author of heartwarming, whimsical contemporary romance. Three of Teri’s books have been adapted into Hallmark Channel Original Movies by Crown Media, including UNLEASHING MR. DARCY (plus its sequel MARRYING MR. DARCY), THE ART OF US and NORTHERN LIGHTS OF CHRISTMAS, based on her book SLEIGH BELL SWEETHEARTS. She is also a recipient of the prestigious RITA Award for excellence in romantic fiction for her novel THE BACHELOR’S BABY SURPRISE. Teri has a major weakness for cute animals, pretty dresses and Audrey Hepburn films, and she loves following the British royal family. Visit her at or on Twitter @TeriWilsonauthr.

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The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy Book Blitz

The Mysterious Death of Mr Darcy

A Pride and Prejudice Vagary

Historical Mystery

Date Published: August 2020


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Fitzwilliam Darcy is devastated. The joy of his recent wedding has been cut short by the news of the sudden death of his father’s beloved cousin, Samuel Darcy. Elizabeth and Darcy travel to Dorset, a popular Regency resort area, to pay their respects to the well-traveled and eccentric Samuel. But this is no summer holiday. Danger bubbles beneath Dorset’s peaceful surface as strange and foreboding events begin to occur. Several of Samuel’s ancient treasures go missing, and then his body itself disappears. As Darcy and Elizabeth investigate this mystery and unravel its tangled ties to the haunting legends of Dark Dorset, the legendary couple’s love is put to the test when sinister forces strike close to home. Some secrets should remain secrets, but Darcy will do all he can to find answers—even if it means meeting his own end in the damp depths of a newly dug grave.

With malicious villains, dramatic revelations and heroic gestures, The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy will keep Austen fans turning the pages right up until its dramatic conclusion.


She had left the pages resting on the small desk to stand and stare out the window. Heavily, she leaned against the frame. Elizabeth’s cheek rested against the cool pane. “Protect him, God,” she whispered to the night sky. She said no more. God would know her sentiments regarding the probability of Darcy’s demise.

There she had stood from three to five of the clock, staring out the window, gazing at the road: She had kept an anxious vigil awaiting Darcy’s return, but saw nothing. As dawn’s fingers broke through the blackness, her anxiety increased.

“Where is he?” she whispered as she searched the outline of trees and shrubbery on the horizon. Elizabeth reasoned, “If he were injured, Mr. Holbrook would have brought word.” For a brief moment, she felt the satisfaction of Darcy’s continued health, but the dread Elizabeth had forcibly placed aside returned. “But if Fitzwilliam were dead …” She stared intently at the narrow path leading to the main road, the same road her husband would ride upon his return. Hot tears pricked her eyes, and Elizabeth could not catch her breath. “Would they not inform me?” she sobbed. “Would they not permit me to comfort my husband in his last hours? His last minutes?”

A figure appeared at the far end of the path, and for the pause of three heartbeats, hope swelled in Elizabeth’s chest. She clung to the sash and watched as the figure moved closer. Her heart lurched. “Not Darcy,” she whispered. The figure belonged to a woman. “Too spry for Mrs. Jacobs,” she speculated.

Whoever it was, Woodvine was the woman’s destination. Elizabeth turned from the window. She quickly gathered Samuel’s journals and shoved them from view between the mattresses of her bed. She would hide them more carefully upon her return. Elizabeth shed the satin robe she had worn over a simple chocolate- brown day dress to ward off the night’s chill. She had chosen the brown dress for its warmth when she had hoped to accompany Darcy to the field. When her husband had refused, Elizabeth had remained dressed for an impending emergency.

Now, she caught up a heavy wool shawl before rushing toward the servants’ stairs. Elizabeth meant to meet their visitor and learn news of her husband. Surely, a woman would not be on the road at this hour without words of pressing importance.

She burst into the kitchen just as the door opened quietly upon the room. Few servants were about at this hour, and, other than a scullery maid filling a kettle with water at the well, no one stirred. The familiarity of the visitor’s countenance subtracted from the surprise Elizabeth might have felt otherwise.

“Mrs. Ridgeway?” Elizabeth hissed. “What has brought you to Woodvine at this hour?”

The woman glanced to where the door to Mrs. Holbrook’s small room was propped open with a broom. She stilled, her features, initially, proving unreadable. However, with a grimace, the housekeeper caught Elizabeth’s arm and tugged her in the direction of an alcove, which served as a stillroom. “I came to fetch you, Mrs. Darcy,” she whispered.

“Why all the secrecy?” Elizabeth asked.

“Mr. Stowbridge did not want the others to know what happened in Mr. Rupp’s field.”

Elizabeth’s breath caught in her throat. She let out a long exhale. It was her impatience showing, but Mrs. Ridgeway appeared to ignore Elizabeth’s exigency. “You have word of my husband.” The housekeeper nodded curtly. “Is Mr. Darcy in health?” Elizabeth asked through trembling lips.

Mrs. Ridgeway tugged Elizabeth along a passage to a side entrance. “I cannot say for certain,” she said seriously. “For I have not seen Mr. Darcy personally. Mr. Stowbridge thinks such matters are not in the realm of a lady’s disposition.”

Elizabeth could hear the strained words, a sound of contention between the housekeeper and the woman’s new employer, but she had more pressing concerns. “Speak to me of Mr. Darcy.” She rushed to keep pace with the housekeeper. They had exited Woodvine and had set off across the well-tended lawns.

Mrs. Ridgeway spoke over her shoulder at the trailing Elizabeth. “I possess only the knowledge of a second tongue in what I overheard Mr. Holbrook tell Mr. Stowbridge.”

Elizabeth caught the housekeeper’s arm and dragged the woman to a halt. For a discomfiting moment, neither of them moved. “I understand,” she said with more calm than she possessed, “that Mr. Stowbridge did not confide in you. Yet, if you possess any knowledge of Mr. Darcy, I demand you speak of it immediately.”

Mrs. Ridgeway’s eyes appeared distant, and Elizabeth could not read the woman’s true intentions; yet, she would let nothing stand between her and her husband. The lady paused for what seemed forever, but was likely only a handful of seconds. Finally, Mrs. Ridgeway said, “If you will accompany me, I shall explain what I have learned. I think it best if we speak while we walk. It will save time, and, as I am certain you will wish to reach Mr. Darcy’s side as quickly as possible, we should hurry our steps.”

Elizabeth offered, “Should I have someone saddle horses or bring around a gig?”

Mrs. Ridgeway tutted her disapproval. “In the time it would take to rouse one of Captain Tregonwell’s men to assist us, and then have the gentleman locate us appropriate transportation, you could be reunited with your husband. That is assuming you do not mind a walk across a country lane.”

Elizabeth despised the challenging tone in the woman’s voice, but she hesitated only a moment to glance toward the house before making her decision. “Lead on, Mrs. Ridgeway,” she said with determination.

The housekeeper strode toward the line of trees, and Elizabeth quickened her step to keep abreast of the woman. They entered the shadowy overhang before the woman spoke again. “This is what I overheard when Mr. Holbrook came to Stowe Hall in the early hours.” Their pace slowed when they reached the rough terrain of the wooded area. “Mr. Samuel’s groom called at the squire’s house at a little past four of the clock. He told Mr. Stowbridge a most astounding tale.”

They climbed a stile and descended the other side. Mrs. Ridgeway set a diagonal path across the field. “Mr. Holbrook spoke of discovering a coven celebrating Beltane under the stars where the old monoliths are found. Do you know the area, Mrs. Darcy?”

Elizabeth wished the woman would speak of Darcy’s condition, but she understood the housekeeper’s perverseness. Mrs. Ridgeway held all the high cards, and Elizabeth was a mere player. She said encouragingly, “I am familiar with Mr. Rupp’s land.”

The housekeeper continued her tale and the punishing exercise. When they exited the field over a like stile, Elizabeth realized this was a part of the Darcy estate with which she was unfamiliar, but she brushed the thought aside as she hiked her skirt to maintain her gait. If Mrs. Ridgeway thought her a pampered lady of the ton, the housekeeper was in for a surprise. Elizabeth was not afraid of a long walk or a steady stride.

“Apparently, Mr. Barriton had taken Mrs. Jacobs prisoner and threatened to kill the woman.” 

Elizabeth heard the derision in Mrs. Ridgeway’s voice. She supposed the housekeeper thought Mrs. Jacobs deserved part of her punishment. Elizabeth said cautiously, “Mr. Darcy and Mr. McKye journeyed to Mr. Rupp’s land to put a stop to Mr. Barriton’s plans.”

“Well, they certainly managed to accomplish their task,” the housekeeper declared. “One of Mr. Tregonwell’s men shot Mr. Barriton after the man shoved Mrs. Jacobs into the fire the coven had built in Mr. Rupp’s field.”

Fear skated along Elizabeth’s spine. She offered up a silent prayer that it had not been Darcy who had dispatched Mr. Barriton. She thought such an act would lie heavily on her husband’s conscience. “Was Mrs. Jacobs badly injured?”

The housekeeper led Elizabeth deeper into the woods. Elizabeth supposed this was the shortcut to Stowe Hall, which Samuel Darcy had traversed the night he died. The thought of how easily someone had overcome the trusting archaeologist sent a shiver of dread down Elizabeth’s spine. She glanced around to learn her bearings.

“According to Mr. Holbrook, he was to seek the services of the junior surgeon Mr. Glover had once trained,” Mrs. Ridgeway shared.

“Mr. Newby.” Elizabeth provided the name.

Mrs. Ridgeway confided, “If Geoffrey Glover trained the man, Mr. Newby will serve this community well. Mr. Glover was a man of science.”

Elizabeth’s patience had worn thin. She had thought to permit Mrs. Ridgeway her moment. In some ways, she supposed she owed the housekeeper that much, for Mrs. Ridgeway’s forced exit from Woodvine had placed the woman in an untenable position. In truth, Elizabeth harbored a bit of guilt for having dismissed the woman, but she could no longer tolerate the lack of news of her husband. “Please,” she said as she came to a halt. “I beg of you; speak to me of Mr. Darcy. I cannot bear not knowing.”

The housekeeper came to an abrupt standstill. She turned to Elizabeth, and with a smile of what appeared to be satisfaction, she said, “Mr. Holbrook was to fetch the surgeon to tend your husband. It appears Mr. Darcy fought with the butler. Your husband was stabbed with some sort of ceremonial knife. Mr. Holbrook says Mr. Darcy has lost a sizeable quantity of blood.”

Elizabeth felt her legs buckle, and she could do little to prevent herself from sinking to her knees. Darcy had been seriously injured. While she slept at her small desk, her husband had lain in a field, possibly bleeding to death. “Dear God,” her trembling lips offered in supplication. “Do not take him from me.” She swayed in place as the darkness rushed in.

“Mrs. Darcy,” the housekeeper said brusquely. “We have no time for histrionics.”

Despite wishing to rock herself for comfort, Elizabeth gave herself a sound mental shake. She bit her lip to prevent the cry of anguish on the tip of her tongue. She looked up into the disapproving countenance of the housekeeper. However, Elizabeth did not apologize; instead she managed to stagger to her feet. “What else should I know?” Elizabeth asked fearfully.

“Mr. Stowbridge sent word of his late return to Stowe Hall. In the message, he indicated the surgeon had seen to your husband and had advised Mr. Darcy to permit Mrs. Rupp to nurse him until a coach could be sent from Woodvine. However, Mr. Darcy insisted on returning to your side.”

Elizabeth thought how like Darcy it was to recognize her concern and, therefore, place himself in danger in order to relieve Elizabeth’s anxiety. “Where is my husband now? At Stowe Hall?”

“They found him on the road after he could not sit his horse. Mr. Newby is treating Mr. Darcy in a small tenants’ cottage while Mr. Holbrook escorts Mrs. Jacobs to Woodvine and returns with a wagon. Tregonwell’s men assist Mr. Stowbridge with the investigation and the prisoners.” The woman turned back to the path, and Elizabeth fell in step beside her. “It was thought Mr. Darcy would prove a better patient with you in attendance.”

Despite the seriousness of the situation, a smile shaped Elizabeth’s lips. She could easily imagine an aristocratic Darcy barking orders to the young surgeon. That is if he were able, Elizabeth cautioned the knot lodged firmly in her chest. “Where is this cottage?” she asked in concern.

“One more field to cross,” Mrs. Ridgeway said confidently. “See.” The woman pointed to where a thatched roof could be seen behind an overgrown hedgerow.

Elizabeth quickened her stride. “Why in the world would they have taken shelter in such a deserted area?”

The housekeeper shrugged her shoulders. “It is the way of men to make women’s lives complicated.”

Elizabeth rushed across the field, which now stood fallow. Her heart pounded in her ears from the speed of their journey and from the all-encompassing fear that surrounded her. Would she be in time? Mr. Holbrook had said Mr. Darcy had lost a sizeable quantity of blood. Men did not normally worry so unless danger existed. Was Mr. Newby skilled enough to stop the bleeding? What of infection? She lifted her skirts higher and quickened her pace. Soon she was running, needing to reach Darcy before it was too late.

Gasping for air, Elizabeth burst into the small cottage, nothing more than a one-room sanctuary from the cold, to discover a profound silence. Nothing moved within. Her chest heaved from her run and from the heart-stopping realization that Mrs. Ridgeway had erred somehow. She caught at the stitch of pain in her side. “Where is he? Where is my husband?” she croaked.

An arm caught her across the neck while another hand placed a large damp handkerchief over her mouth and nose. From behind her, Mrs. Ridgeway’s harsh words stung her ear. “Dead. Mr. Darcy is dead.”

About the Author

Regina Jeffers, an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels and retellings, as well as Regency era romances, has worn many hats over her lifetime: daughter, student, military brat, wife,