Showing posts with label recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label recipes. Show all posts

Friday, October 4, 2019

Galliano Gold (Franki Amato Mysteries) by Traci Andrighetti

Galliano Gold
(Franki Amato Mysteries)
by Traci Andrighetti

About Galliano Gold

Galliano Gold (Franki Amato Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Limoncello Press (October 1, 2019)
Print Length: 327 page
Digital ASIN: B07XXDC6X9

It’s Mardi Gras season in New Orleans, but PI Franki Amato has too many problems to celebrate. A proven Sicilian lemon tradition hasn’t landed her a proposal, so her nonna has amped up the meddling to get her married, and pronto. Franki’s also under pressure to solve the strange murder of a family friend’s nephew, Nick Pescatore, who was found on a Mississippi River steamboat rumored to be haunted. When the sinister old boat sets sail on an overnight gambling cruise, Franki goes undercover with a motley crew, including a Mark Twainophile captain with a murderous past and a slimy galley chef with a mobster brother, not to mention an ex-stripper landlady with a newfound career as a memoir writer and all-too public speaker. Franki has to figure out what missing Civil War gold, a playing card, and a mysterious woman on roller skates have to do with Nick’s death. If she doesn’t, it’s anchors aweigh for Franki—down to Davy Jones’ locker.

About Traci Andrighetti

Traci Andrighetti is the USA TODAY bestselling author of the Franki Amato Mysteries and the Danger Cove Hair Salon Mysteries. In her previous life, she was an award-winning literary translator and a Lecturer of Italian at the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics. But then she got wise and ditched that academic stuff for a life of crime--writing, that is. Her latest capers are teaching mystery writing for Savvy Authors and taking aspiring and established authors on intensive writing retreats to Italy with LemonLit.

Author Links -

Amazon Author page:

Purchase Links - Amazon


Every book in the Franki Amato mysteries features an Italian liqueur or wine and a matching color—in the title and in the mystery. For my latest release in the series, I chose a liqueur that I remember from my parents’ parties in the seventies, specifically in the Harvey Wallbangers they served—Galliano. Hence the title Galliano Gold.

Galliano also makes me think of my mother’s Bananas Foster because, like a lot of people, she substitutes Galliano for the banana liqueur in the recipe. The famous dessert is perfect for a Franki Amato mystery because Franki is a PI—and Bananas Foster has a crime connection.

In the 1950s, New Orleans was a major port of entry for bananas, so Owen Brennan, the founder of Brennan’s restaurant, asked Chef Paul Blangé to create a dessert with the fruit. Brennan named the dessert after his good friend Richard Foster who served with him on the New Orleans Crime Commission, a civic group created to clean up the French Quarter. Incidentally, Franki thinks the commission needs to finish the job, so she doesn’t have to.



¼ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup banana liqueur (or Galliano)
4 bananas cut in half lengthwise then halved
¼ cup dark rum
4 scoops vanilla ice cream


Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a flambé pan or skillet. Place the pan over low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the Galliano, then place the bananas in the pan. When the bananas soften and begin to brown, carefully add the rum. Cook the sauce until the rum is hot, then tip the pan slightly to ignite the rum. When the flames subside, remove the bananas from the pan and place four pieces over each scoop of ice cream. Generously spoon warm sauce over the ice cream and serve.

It has been a pleasure being on T’s Stuff. As a Traci, I love that T!

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October 1 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

October 2 – I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

October 2 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW

October 3 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT - Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book

October 4 – T's Stuff – RECIPE POST

October 4 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 5 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

October 5 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

October 6 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 7 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

October 8 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

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October 11 – Ascroft, eh? – GUEST POST

October 11 – A Blue Million Books – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

October 12 – Cassidy's Bookshelves – REVIEW

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Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Great Jewel Robbery (A Front Page Mystery) by Elizabeth McKenna

The Great Jewel Robbery (A Front Page Mystery)
by Elizabeth McKenna

About the Book

The Great Jewel Robbery (A Front Page Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Independently Published (June 3, 2019)
Paperback: 204 pages
ISBN-10: 0578503018
ISBN-13: 978-0578503011
Digital ASIN: B07SKB5YX7

Mystery with a splash of romance…
Chicago Tribune reporters Emma and Grace have been best friends since college despite coming from different worlds. When Grace is assigned to cover an annual charity ball and auction being held at a lakeside mansion and her boyfriend bails on her, she brings Emma as her plus one. The night is going smoothly until Emma finds the host’s brother unconscious in the study. Though at first it is thought he was tipsy and stumbled, it soon becomes clear more is afoot, as the wall safe is empty and a three-million-dollar diamond necklace is missing. With visions of becoming ace investigative journalists, Emma and Grace set out to solve the mystery, much to the chagrin of the handsome local detective.

About the Author

Elizabeth McKenna’s love of books reaches back to her childhood, where her tastes ranged from Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys to Stephen King’s horror stories. She had never read a romance novel until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene). She combined her love of history, romance, and a happy ending to write Cera’s Place and Venice in the Moonlight. Her contemporary romance novel, First Crush Last Love, is loosely based on her life during her teens and twenties. The Great Jewel Robbery is her debut cozy mystery, and she hopes readers will like it as much as they have enjoyed her romances.
Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a sassy Labrador. When she isn’t writing, working, or being a mom, she’s sleeping.
Author Links

Purchase Links - Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Kobo - Scribd - Apple

Hello mystery readers!
In The Great Jewel Robbery, Emma and Grace stay at a bed and breakfast while solving the mystery and take time out for a plate-licking potato, ham, and cheddar waffle. Robert and Douglas of the Aldrich Guest House in Galena, Illinois, offered to share their recipe, which won first runner-up in a national breakfast competition that had over 300 entries! 
From their website: “One of the great things about this recipe is that it takes simple ingredients and combines them in a very different way. It's also easy to substitute for dietary restrictions—make it veggie by using spinach, feta, and sun-dried tomatoes or omit the cheese for lactose sensitivities.”
I hope you enjoy both The Great Jewel Robbery and the Potato Waffles recipe!
Take care,
Elizabeth McKenna
Source: Robert and Douglas of the Aldrich Guest House, Galena, Illinois

Potato Waffles
Yield – 4

4 medium sized potatoes, peeled, shredded, and drained (approx. ½ pound per person)**
2 eggs
½ t salt
¼ t fresh ground pepper
1 c sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
6 slices diced ham
¼ c minced chives
Cooking spray
Poached eggs (optional)
Red pepper flakes (optional)

  1. Heat waffle iron to medium high while preparing mixture.
  2. Whisk together eggs, salt, and pepper then mix in cheese, ham, and chives.
  3. Stir egg mixture into shredded potatoes.
  4. Generously spray waffle iron with cooking spray.
  5. Scoop approximately 1 c (if using a scale, approx. 185g) of potato mixture onto waffle iron.
  6. Cook 5-10 minutes until golden brown.
  7. Waffles can be stored in a warm (225 degrees) oven on a rack while the rest are made.
  8. Top with a poached egg, additional chives, red pepper flakes, etc.

**To drain potatoes after shredding, place them on a kitchen towel and squeeze them into a ball until all the liquid is out of them. Do this in two batches to make sure that they are as drained as possible, as wet potatoes will not brown or crisp.

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August 5 – I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

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August 6 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 6 – Cassidy's Bookshelves – REVIEW

August 7 – Carla Loves To Read – REVIEW

August 8 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 9 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

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August 10 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

August 10 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

August 11 – T's Stuff – SPOTLIGHT, RECIPE

August 12 – Books Direct – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

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August 13 – Here's How It Happened – REVIEW

August 14 – Mallory Heart's Cozies – REVIEW

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Friday, December 14, 2018

A Magic Redemption by Tena Stetler

Twinkle Bright – Elves Secret Santa

Direct from the North Pole,
welcome to the Elves Secret Santa party! Here at the North Pole it's extremely
busy, but we still have time for a little holiday fun and shenanigans.

Let me introduce myself.  I'm an elf and my name is Twinkle Bright
because my elf hat has twinkle lights wound all around the scalloped edge and
the pointy top.

I make yummy Hot
Chocolate for Santa and the elves from a secret family recipe passed down from
generation to generation. My hot chocolate keeps everyone warm and toasty
inside at the North Pole. There is even an automatic dispenser in Santa's
Sleigh providing him with hot chocolate during his travels on Christmas
Eve.  It goes good with the cookies the
children leave for him.

While I am mixing up large
batches of hot chocolate, I listen to Christmas Carols from a variety of pop,
country and rock artists. I always taste each batch to insure it’s up to elf
standards. .  You would think I'd get
tired of hot chocolate, but no -- never.
I love the steaming chocolaty drink.
I usually keep mine in an insulated mug so it stays warm while sampling
the cookies in the elves' bakery.
Frosted sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies are my absolute favorites.

Now, I'm going to let you in on a
little secret.  But you must promise not
to tell...anyone. 

We do a secret Santa gift
exchange around here and this year I got Bob, her job at the North Pole is name
checker to make sure Santa has all the correct spellings of the girls and boys.
One year she spelled Chrys' name Chris and wow what an uproar. 

Luckily Santa caught it, but we
had to rush to change all the tags on her packages. 


I'm getting Elf Bobi a package of
120 different color markers in a jewel encrusted case for marking off the
correctly spelled names after she checks them.

Do you think
she'll like that?

Do you like fudge?  Great, I'll share with you my favorite Fantasy Fudge Recipe.

3 cups of sugar

3/4 cup butter

1 -  5 oz can of evaporated milk (do not use sweetened
condensed milk)

1 – 12 oz package semi sweet
chocolate chips

1 - 7 oz jar marshmallow cream

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla

You may add chopped nuts if you

Bring sugar, butter and
evaporated milk to a full rolling boil in a large saucepan over medium heat,
stir constantly

Cook for four minutes or until a
candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees.

High altitude takes about 5

Remove from heat and add
chocolate chips and marshmallow cream, stir until melted.

Add vanilla and nuts. Stir until

Pour into a greased 9x13 pan,
spread evenly.
Cool completely and cut into

A Magic Redemption

A Demon’s Witch Series

Book Five

Tena Stetler

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Date of Publication: 12-5-18

ISBN: 978-1-5092-2343-5

Number of pages: 322
Word Count: 80,585

Cover Artist: Kristian Norris

Tagline: Even with magic, finding your place in the world proves more difficult than imagined especially when someone is out for revenge.

Book Description:

Synn, a demon, carries extraordinary magic and power, but there is more within her than she dreams. Kidnapped as a child, her captors murdered her family and forced her into training as a warrior assassin.

When an assignment goes horribly wrong, she finds herself at the mercy of the friends and family of her intended target. Offering valuable information in exchange for protection, she gains her freedom, but it is not without its challenges.

Gavin Shaughnessy is the publican at his family’s Irish pub. He is certain Synn is meant to be his and isn’t bothered by her past. He must find a way to convince her their future together is stronger than the dark memories that haunt her dreams.
When her past comes calling for revenge, will their love survive the raging inferno she brings down upon them? Or will the searing path of destruction destroy all they hold dear.

Amazon        Amazon UK        Amazon AU

Amazon CA        BN       iTunes

Time seemed to
go on forever as she slowed and walked backward for a while, her foot steps in
the sand filling with water as she traveled along the shoreline, as if nature
erased her intrusion. She turned around and continued her trek. Unaware of how
long or how far she'd walked, the sudden outline of a figure, cloaked in the
fog, jogging toward her caused panic to set in. Her heart pounded rapidly in
her chest, she swallowed hard, adrenalin pumping through her veins as flight or
fight response kicked in. Digging her good foot into the sand she prepared to
attempt a sprint…to where. Where the hell am I? A quick glance around, she
spied a light from a familiar building far off on the bluffs as the figure
burst from the fog. A tall, wide-shouldered male with long muscular legs came
closer. She froze.

Once lithe,
strong and agile in her former life, a boss’s retaliation had taken a toll on
her body. Now tired her gait was uneven and unsteady, even a slow sprint would
likely end with her face planted in the sand.

About the Author:

Tena Stetler is a best-selling author of award winning paranormal romance. She has an over-active imagination, which led to writing her first vampire romance as a tween to the chagrin of her mother and delight of her friends. After many years as a paralegal, then an IT Manager, she decided to live out her dream of pursuing a publishing career.

With the Rocky Mountains outside her window, she sits at her computer surrounded by a wide array of witches, shapeshifters, demons, faeries, and gryphons, with a Navy SEAL or two mixed in telling their tales. Her books tell stories of magical kick-ass women and mystical alpha males that dare to love them. Well, okay there are a few companion animals to round out the tales.

Colorado is home; shared with her husband of many moons, a brilliant Chow Chow, a spoiled parrot and a forty-five-year-old box turtle. When she’s not writing, her time is spent kayaking, camping, hiking, biking  or just relaxing in the great Colorado outdoors. During the winter you can find her curled up in front of a crackling fire with a good book, a mug of hot chocolate and a big bowl of popcorn.

Twitter Page:  

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Dear Departed by Anne Roebuck

Lambswool is one of the traditional drinks of the  Wassail’, (or Apple Howling) it is either so called after the light colour and frothy appearance of the drink on the surface, or, as Richard Cook in 1835 believes, it stems from being served at the ancient Celtic pagan festival of La mas ubal, that is, ‘The Day of the Apple Fruit’; and being pronounced lamasool, it was corrupted to Lambs Wool. 

This traditional and authentic recipe given below is taken from a 1633 source and a poem first published in 1648.  The poem by Robert Herrick entitled, ‘Twelfe-Night’, or ‘King and Queene’ describes several practices seen at 12th Night, or the twelfth night after Christmas just before the Christian feast of Epiphany.  It is celebrated by drinking and merrymaking which are presided over by a King or Queen of Fools.  

3 pints of traditional real ale – or traditional cider
6 small cooking apples, cored 
1 nutmeg freshly grated
1 tsp ground ginger
6 oz brown sugar 

Preheat the oven 250F

Prepare the apples in advance: time it so they are ready when you want to put them into the lambswool to serve.

Core the 6 apples fully, getting rid of the pips. Lightly grease the baking tray. Place the apples on the baking tray about 2 inches apart – they will swell up a little. Bake the apples at 250F for about an hour or so – so they become soft and pulpy and the skins are easy to peel away.

In a large thick bottomed saucepan (which is quite tall to avoid splashes when whisking) add the sugar. Cover the sugar in a small amount of the ale (or cider) and heat gently. Stir continuously until the sugar has dissolved. Then add in the ground ginger and grate in the whole of the nutmeg. Stir, and keeping the pan on a gentle simmer, slowly add in all the rest of the ale (or cider). Leave for 10 minutes on a gentle heat as you deal with the apples.

Take the baked apples out of the oven to cool slightly for 10 minutes – they should now be soft and pulpy.

Break open the apples and scoop out the baked flesh into a bowl, discarding the skin. Then take a fork and mash this apple pulp up, while it is still warm, into a smooth purée with no lumps. Add the apple purée into the ale (or cider) lambswool, mixing it in with a whisk.

Let the saucepan continue to warm everything through for thirty minutes, on a very gentle heat, until ready to drink. When warmed through use the whisk again for a couple of minutes (or use a stick blender) to briskly and vigorously froth the drink up and mix everything together. The apple and light froth will float to the surface, and depending on how much you have whisked it, the more it looks like lamb’s wool. 

Ladle the hot Lambswool into heat-proof mugs or glasses and grate over some nutmeg, or pour the drink into a communal bowl (with several thick pieces of toast in the bottom) to pass around if wassailing. 

The Dear Departed

Anne Roebuck

Genre: Historical Paranormal

Publisher: Boroughs Publishing

Date of Publication:  February 2016

ISBN: 978-1-944262-14-3

Number of pages: 355
Word Count: 102,748

Tagline: A young widow and a mysterious magician battle a psychic killer in Victorian era San Francisco.

Book Description:

Young widow Virginia Paley has no interest in attending the séances at The Society for Eternal Love, but the women of the society are dying mysteriously in their sleep, leaving their fortunes to Professor Arthur Chadwick, its charismatic medium. As her aunt might very well become the next victim, Virginia will do whatever she must to ensure that doesn’t happen. She will even join forces with the darkly mysterious Jonathan Bradshaw, a man who isn’t what he appears to be.

From the moment he spies her, Jonathan is smitten. But romance is impossible.

Mrs. Paley is a respectable woman, and he himself is outside of society, an orphan, an ex-thief and a true wizard, able to hypnotize with a word and even separate his spirit from his body. No, he must instead remain focused on his goal, avenging his mentor’s death. But, facing a foe with power over demonic forces and Virginia’s very life in the balance, love might indeed be the only salvation.

Chapter 1
San Francisco
The gaslight on the wall burned low, leaving only the spectral glow of the astral lamps to illuminate the séance room. Virginia Paley felt her stomach knotting up in both fear and anticipation as the wind rattled the shutters, sounding just like someone—or something—was trying to get in. In the center of the circular oak table, a single red lamp glowed like an all-seeing eye.
            Virginia shuddered. Why, oh why, had she allowed her aunt to talk her into this madness?
            Six other people sat with her around the table‑—all women save for one lone man who occupied the chair on her left. She studied him for a moment out of the corner of her eye. Just her luck that the only man attending this absurd spectacle was not only handsome but was seated so close to her that she could hear him breathe. As though he sensed her watching him, he suddenly turned to her with a mysterious smile curling his full mouth.
            His eyes met hers and Virginia caught her breath. A prickle of apprehension and excitement shot through her insides. The darkness shrouded his face, but his eyes reflected the ruby light within their azure depths, making him appear otherworldly—and disturbingly familiar. He looked like he had stepped out of a dream—her dream.
            Was she gazing into the eyes of her secret fantasy lover?
            No. She forced herself to turn away. Stop this right now. This was insane. The lover who haunted her midnight fantasies was not a real man. He was only a phantasm that appeared out of nowhere to invade the dreams of a lonely widow. Nothing more.
            This man sitting next to her at the séance table was not her fantasy lover, she told herself firmly. She didn’t even know him. Her reaction to him was just one more ridiculous aspect of this silly séance. She abruptly released her hold on the man’s hand, grateful that the darkness prevented him from seeing the flush that burned her cheeks.
            She simply mustn’t allow herself to be sucked into the insanity of this place.
            Frowning in annoyance, she turned to her aunt sitting on her right. “Really, Aunt Marian.” She kept her voice low. “This whole business is getting absurd. Come. Let’s go home.”
            “And miss a message from my beloved Henry?” Behind her pince nez, Marian’s blue eyes widened in alarm. She clutched the lace collar of her high-necked black gown with her gloved hand. “I wouldn’t dream of doing that.”
            “Mrs. Salonius got a message from her late husband, too,” Virginia persisted. “And look what happened to her.”
            “Now, now, dear.” Marian smiled and gave Virginia’s hand an affectionate pat. “It was just Rachel’s time to depart this life, that’s all. And isn’t it wonderful that she had her adored Hiram waiting for her in the Summerland of Spirit?”
            Virginia shuddered at her aunt’s blissful expression. This wasn’t like Aunt Marian at all. And where on earth did the disturbingly vacant look in her eyes come from? Despite her aunt’s beatific smile, Virginia felt in the pit of her stomach that something was very, very wrong.
            A man of about sixty years of age, dressed in a frock coat, snow-white waistcoat and white bow tie, strode into the room and took his place behind the enormous armchair at the table. Silver-haired and distinguished-looking, he carried himself with the aloof kindliness usually reserved for a college professor or a tent revivalist.
            “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.” He swept the room with his gaze. “I am Professor Arthur Chadwick. It gives me great pleasure to introduce two newcomers to our circle. This is Mr. Jonathan Bradshaw.” He indicated the man sitting beside Virginia, who nodded slightly in acknowledgement. “And Mrs. Virginia Paley. A warm welcome to you, both.”
            Virginia started as Chadwick's ebony eyes met hers for an uncomfortably long moment. Virginia shivered with sudden dread. They were piercing eyes. Calculating eyes. Cold eyes.
            Eyes that threatened to penetrate the secret hidden in her soul—a secret she had no intention of revealing to a living soul. Or any other kind of soul for that matter.
            Chadwick finally took his penetrating gaze elsewhere, much to Virginia’s relief. “In tonight’s demonstration, you will experience many manifestations of spirit power. The purpose is to convince even the most skeptical person that spirits do, indeed, exist beyond this earthy plane.” He paused for emphasis. “Which means that the spirits of our departed loved ones exist as well and are eager to reveal themselves to us, if we will but heed them.”
            He allowed the murmurs and whispers of approval to buzz around the table. Of the four other women in the room, Virginia was the only one not shrouded head to toe in black taffeta.
            “You see, this is why I continue to come here,” Marian whispered in Virginia’s ear. “It comforts me so much to know that my beloved Henry awaits me on the Other Side. And when you receive a message from your dear George, you will be comforted, too.”
            Virginia’s stomach dropped to her toes. In spite of all her misgivings about the Society for Eternal Love, Virginia had agreed to attend one of Chadwick’s séances. It was, after all, only fair that she see one for herself before passing judgment on them.
            She was sincerely glad that her aunt had found comfort for her grief in the notion of love after death. However, this business of conjuring spooks was going much too far. And the last thing Virginia wanted was for Chadwick to conjure up her own late husband. Any message from him wasn’t likely to be particularly comforting.
            As far as Virginia was concerned, it was better to let the dead—especially George—rest in peace.
            “Let us all join hands.” Chadwick’s voice intruded into Virginia’s reverie. “And rest the toes of our shoes against the shoes of those sitting beside us. This way, you will each reassure yourselves that everyone, including myself, is seated with hands and feet fully accounted for. Thus, you will see that no living person in this room is producing the phenomena that we shall soon experience.”
            Aunt Marian took Virginia’s hand, gave it an encouraging squeeze, and nestled her high-buttoned shoe next to Virginia’s slipper. Virginia hesitated for a moment, then nestled the toe of her other slipper against the instep of Mr. Bradshaw’s boot.
            He smiled again and offered her his gloved hand with a flourish. Gingerly, she laid her own hand into the center of his palm. His strong fingers enclosed hers with a gentle firmness that she could feel even through the fine white cotton of his glove. The tingle in her stomach turned into an unexpected throb of desire. Even if he was a real man and not a fantasy, he was certainly having an effect on her. What was he doing here? And why was she so stirred by him?
            “Don’t be afraid, Mrs. Paley.” His voice, a musical baritone, caressed her ears.
            “I’m not afraid,” she whispered.
            “Good. And don’t be afraid of the spirits, either.” He winked at her.
            She glanced away in annoyance. It was obvious that he had noticed her loss of composure. Now, she was even more nervous.
            “Now, again for the sake of our new members, allow me to remind all of you not to break the circle for any reason during the séance.” Chadwick glanced about the table to make sure his instructions were being followed. “A great deal of psychic force is built up when we join together to concentrate upon a common goal. This force enables me to bring through our loved ones in spirit. Breaking the circle of hands short circuits this force and ends our communication with them. I trust we are all clear on this point.”
            Everyone around the table nodded in solemn agreement. After another minute or two of shuffling feet, rustling petticoats and wooden chair legs squeaking on the hardwood floor, expectant silence descended upon the room. Virginia sat rigid in her chair.
            “Now, take a deep breath and let all the affairs of the mundane world fall away,”—a collective sigh rose from the group at Chadwick’s words. The wind moaned like a soul in torment against the shutters—“while we attune our minds and our hearts to a higher plane of being. Soon, we will be able to welcome our spirit friends as they come through and speak to us.”
            Chadwick paused for a moment, then shattered the silence with a loud sneeze. All the women around the table jumped in unison.
            “Forgive me,” he murmured. “A slight cold…”
            “Maybe we should postpone the séance.” One of the women leaned across the table with concern in her eyes. “If you are ill.”
            Chadwick waved the suggestion away. “No need, my dear Mrs. Henderson. I am well enough. Let us continue. Please be so kind as to extinguish the gaslight.”
            Mrs. Henderson, a thin, reedy woman in her late fifties, rose to her feet and turned the handle on the gaslight, plunging the room into total darkness. Only the tiny flame in the blood-colored lamp continued to flicker, making the lamp throb like a beating heart.
            Chadwick waited patiently until Mrs. Henderson found her chair once more. “Now, if we are ready…” His voice trailed off into another loud sneeze. “Again, forgive me,” he said after a moment. “Please take my hands once more and let us begin.”
            He paused again, letting silence engulf the room once more. Virginia held her breath.
            “Come, ye spirits,” Chadwick intoned in a sing-song tone. “Blessed denizens of the Summerland, that happy place of peace and contentment. We ask you to reveal yourselves to us. Come and speak…speak to your loved ones here assembled. Comfort them, give them hope, lend them solace from their grief and loneliness.”
            A bell rang somewhere in the room. Virginia quickly turned her head to try to determine from which direction the sound came, but it seemed to come from all corners of the room at once. She shuddered at the sudden tingling in her spine. It was only a trick, she told herself sternly. It wasn’t real. It couldn’t be real.
            “Ah, the veil between this world and the spirit realms is lifting,” Chadwick said. “One by one, our spirit friends announce their presence to us.”
            Virginia gasped. The table in front of her, a piece of solid oak so heavy that she would have thought it almost immovable, rocked and thumped beneath her hands, almost as if it had come to life. Several sharp raps echoed hollowly from somewhere beneath its surface making a pattern that sounded almost like the dit-dah-dahs of Morse code.
            Finally, it rose into the air so high that Virginia strained to keep her hands on its surface, as though it were up to her to keep the wayward piece of furniture from escaping altogether.
            “Our spirit friends cavort and play as they did in life.” Chadwick chuckled. “They wish us to be very sure that they are here. Look!”
            Virginia looked up at the ceiling. There, in the darkness, danced several little bright points of light, darting first this way and now that, now, flying around over her head, now floating down towards her like little wisps of fluff blown about by some spirit breeze. Then, they would vanish abruptly, only to reappear again just as suddenly somewhere else entirely.
            Virginia's eyes widened as a human hand, glowing pasty white in the darkness of the room appeared just above her head. Other gasps echoed in the room as the ghostly hand, opening, closing and wiggling its fingers, fluttered about the room.
            Chadwick moaned suddenly, his deep base voice echoing eerily off the walls. A small brass trumpet sitting on the table began to quiver, rattling a staccato pattern on the tabletop. It rose slowly into the air, all by itself, until it was high over Virginia's head. As she stared up at it, it turned about several times, then halted in mid air.
            “It is I, Gentle Fawn.” A small voice floated from the mouth of the trumpet. “I bring you greetings from one of your company who has recently crossed over into the spirit world.”
            “Gentle Fawn is Arthur’s spirit guide,” Aunt Marian whispered. “You remember that I told you about her?”
            Virginia nodded curtly. Marian had told her all about Chadwick’s various spirit “guides.” But hearing the eerie voice issuing from the trumpet was another thing altogether.
            “Rachel gives everyone her love,” the voice continued. “She wants everyone to know how happy she is. Hiram is with her and they’re holding hands. It’s so sweet to see them together again at last.”
            The trumpet whirled around again, then pointed to Marian. “I have a message for Marian from her beloved Henry.”
            Marian sighed ecstatically, her ample bosom lifting up from her whalebone corset, then falling once more. The voice dropped to a masculine tone. “Marian?”
            “Oh yes, Henry. Yes, I’m here.”
            “Keep up with your good work, my dearest Marian. You will be given an opportunity to do even more to comfort the bereaved. Watch for that opportunity.”
            “I will,” Marian said with a catch in her voice. “Thank you, Henry.”
            The trumpet carefully selected its next subject. “This is a message for Ethel.”
            “Oh, yes.” Mrs. Henderson scooted forward in her chair, her eyes gleaming in the red light. “Yes, I’m right here.”
            “Ethel?” The voice that emerged from the trumpet was a light tenor this time. “Dear Ethel, it is almost time. I am waiting for you, my love. Waiting…yearning…aching for you. Oh, my darling, how I long for you. I cannot wait much longer to hold you, kiss you, love you.”
            “Tomorrow.” Ethel’s voice trembled with emotion. “It will be done tomorrow. I promise, Oswald dearest. Then, I will be ready.”
            Ethel sat back in her seat and closed her eyes, a look of utter ecstasy on her face. Virginia watched her with growing apprehension. Ethel Henderson had seemed like such a sensible woman when Virginia had spoken with her in the foyer before this sideshow began. Now, she looked as though she had abandoned her sensibilities completely, just like Aunt Marian had.
            What on earth was happening to these women?
            Startled out of her reverie, Virginia jumped as the trumpet swung around again and halted directly in front of her. “There is a man here,” Gentle Fawn’s voice announced. “He is a portly man, middle-aged with thinning hair. He calls for Virginia. Is she here?”
            Virginia stiffened. No! She frowned in sudden anger. Don’t you dare!
            Aunt Marian certainly must have informed Chadwick of Virginia’s own widowed status. Now, she was the newest pigeon in the flock.
            “I'm here,” she muttered through clenched teeth.
            “It is difficult.” The voice lowered to a throaty bass. “So difficult to come through. I have so much to say to you. But I cannot. Not now.”
            Virginia’s heart began to hammer painfully. The voice couldn’t be George’s. It was impossible, wasn’t it? If only she could be sure. It had been barely a year since he died. Surely, she had not forgotten the sound of his voice already.
            No, Virginia told herself sternly for the third time. This was not real. It was only a confidence trick Chadwick designed to try to dupe her just as he had duped her aunt.
            Still, Virginia let her breath out in a heavy sigh of relief as the trumpet turned again—this time to the man sitting beside her with his hand cradling hers with such firm strength.
            “Jonathan?” A woman’s voice emerged, sounding on the verge of tears. “Oh, Jonathan, where are you? I can’t see you. I don’t know where I am. I’m so frightened.”
            She heard Jonathan Bradshaw suck in his breath in a startled gasp. His gloved hand suddenly squeezed hers.
            “Susan?” He called out in a voice that quavered with emotion. “Oh my love, is that really you?”
            Virginia turned to him in alarm. He sat still in his chair, his lips pressed tightly together with a look of anguish on his expressive features. He was obviously maintaining his composure with a considerable effort, but Virginia could see the glint of tears at the corners of his eyes. Virginia’s heart went out to him. How disgraceful that Chadwick, with his bogus messages, should take such advantage of this man’s obviously deep and heartfelt grief.
            Perhaps after the silly séance was over, she could find some place away from the babbling crowd of women and try to comfort him. Maybe, press his cheek against her breast, stroke his hair, kiss his furrowed brow. Show him in other ways that love was not dead.
            Acutely embarrassed at the direction her wayward thoughts were taking her, she turned her gaze back to the ruby lamp. For the second time that evening, she was grateful for the dim light which prevented anyone seeing the flame creeping up into her cheeks.
            “You see?” The voice of Gentle Fawn returned. “Souls on both sides of the Veil must learn to accept the reality of love which transcends the change you call death. If only we could tell Susan that her beloved Jonathan is here waiting to talk to her, it would comfort her so much. But she doesn’t hear us. We will have to wait until she is ready.”
            Chadwick caught his breath and sneezed a third and final time. “Perhaps we ought to end this séance for now,” he said. “My dear Mrs. Henderson, would you please turn up the light?”
            Ethel shoved her chair back with a squeak and rose to her feet. She turned up the gaslight on the nearest wall, then went to the light on the far wall. As Virginia’s eyes adjusted to the brightness, she could clearly see Chadwick seated at the table with both of his hands still firmly held by the women on either side of him.
            “I hope this modest demonstration has served to convince even the most doubting mind.” He disengaged his hands from the women’s grip and rose to his feet. “I thank you most sincerely for your attention and cooperation.”
            Virginia pushed back her chair and rose to her feet as well. All the women, Aunt Marian included, swarmed around Chadwick like bees on a sunflower. Virginia hung back, not wanting to be drawn into the midst of the adoring throng.
            The door opened and a maid came in rolling a cart with a coffee urn, sugar, cream and a stack of china cups. She parked the cart by the far wall and tiptoed back out of the room. Virginia edged backwards towards the cart, grateful for an excuse to leave the laughing group before she said something that would embarrass her aunt.
            She noticed that Jonathan Bradshaw already held a steaming cup of coffee in his hands. She took the opportunity to discreetly study him in more detail while he stirred sugar into his cup.
            He was certainly more good-looking than a mortal man had any right to be. Tall and lithe like an athlete, his broad shoulders narrowed to a trim waist and slim hips, accentuated by a dove gray waistcoat and tapered silk trousers.
            Black hair, longer than the current fashion, curled well past his collar and swept back from his brow in an ebony wave. It gave him a look reminiscent of some bygone romantic era even though his dinner jacket and black bow tie were cut in the latest style.
            Not only did she find him attractive, Virginia had also been impressed with how his finely sculpted features and generous mouth had mirrored such strong emotion during the séance. It showed him to be a man capable of deep and tender feelings.
            She sighed. What a shame for any woman to have to die and leave such a husband behind.
            Professor Chadwick, with Aunt Marian and Mrs. Henderson trailing along in his wake, detached himself from the group and approached them. Virginia shrank back against the wall at their approach, but it soon became clear she was not their quarry.
            “Ah, there you are, Mr. Bradshaw,” Chadwick spoke up over the babble of female voices. The target of his inquiry glanced up sharply. “I trust our little demonstration has succeeded and you are satisfied of the veracity of our claims.”
            “Absolutely.” Jonathan gave him a wan smile. “I must admit that I was skeptical when I first arrived. It all seemed so, shall we say, theatrical. But now…” He paused for a moment, his sensitive mouth tightening. “I find that there can be no other explanation for what I experienced. None, whatever. It was truly extraordinary.” His voice hoarsened. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
            Chadwick acknowledged Jonathan’s expression of gratitude with a gracious nod. Satisfied that he had found another true believer, he turned and rejoined his group of disciples.
            “There, you see, dear?” Marian turned to Virginia with a triumphant look. “Mr. Bradshaw came here with an open mind about the existence of the spirits, and now he believes. Why on earth, can you not believe as well?”
            “Aunt Marian, please.” Virginia twisted the strand of pearls around her neck in annoyance and embarrassment. The last thing she wanted was to argue with her aunt here in Chadwick’s parlor, especially in front of this handsome man. She didn’t want to sound like a shrew. “Mr. Bradshaw can hardly be interested in my opinion of these proceedings.”
            “On the contrary, Mrs. Paley.” Jonathan’s smile was polite and proper, but his eyes were not. His gaze caressed her body boldly and appreciatively, making her want to grab her shawl and cover her bare arms and low neckline. “I am very much interested in your opinion of these proceedings. Do tell me.”
            “I must say I find this spirit business quite unhealthy.” She lifted her chin, ignoring her aunt’s disapproving glare. After all, he had asked for her opinion and she fully intended to give it to him. “I have lost my husband too, and I know how devastating it can be. But, one mustn’t dwell on the past like this. One must go on with one’s life. And perhaps find someone else to love.”
            Virginia broke off suddenly. She hadn’t intended to say those last few words. They tumbled out before she could stop them. Unnerved, she pressed her lips tightly together, lest the other, more suggestive words that filled her mind escape.
            “You have a very sensible argument, Mrs. Paley.” Jonathan turned away from her and gazed into the depths of his china cup, as though he were trying to read an oracle from it. “Still, when you lose your one true love, anything— no matter how strange and unorthodox it might be—which offers some kind of hope of finding that love again is worth exploring. If there is one chance in a million that it could be genuine, then one must take that chance, mustn’t one?”
            His voice trailed off into a husky whisper. Reaching into his breast pocket, he pulled out his handkerchief and pressed it to his nose. After a moment, he recovered himself and tucked the handkerchief back into his pocket.
            “I had better be going. It’s growing late.” He drained his cup, placed it back onto the tray, then turned to Virginia. “Will I see you here next week, Mrs. Paley?”
            Virginia bit her lip. She hadn’t planned on having anything more to do with the Society for Eternal Love. But that was before she gazed into his captivating eyes and felt the pang of longing that those eyes aroused within her. “Are you planning on being here next week?”
            “Indeed, I had planned on doing just that. And I urge you to do the same.” His tone grew intense. “It is very important that all of us who have lost loved ones believe that true love endures beyond the grave, or we shall all perish from grief.”
            Virginia turned and found Aunt Marian gazing at her with an eager expression. Behind her, Chadwick loomed like a specter, fixing Virginia with another of his piercing looks.
            “Well, dear?” Marian demanded. “Will you come back next week?”
            Virginia faltered for a moment. Every instinct she had told her to run and not look back at these two people— her beloved aunt and this disturbingly attractive man—who so compelled her to return to this madhouse.
            She glanced up at Chadwick, then looked away with a shudder. “I shall consider it.”
            Jonathan regarded her with a raised eyebrow for a moment. Wearing that mysterious half-smile she had seen several times during the evening, he bid Chadwick and Aunt Marian goodnight, then retreated into the hallway. He retrieved a silk top hat from a rack in the corner gathered up what looked like a full-length cape which men who frequent the opera often wore and headed for the door.
            Virginia waited until her aunt had rejoined the knot of women, then edged her way into the hallway after him, making sure that no one lurked close enough to overhear.
            She knew she was taking a terrible risk. No doubt by now, her aunt had informed Chadwick that she was less than impressed by his demonstration. But she couldn’t bring herself to allow this tormented man out of her sight without one final word of warning.
            “Mr. Bradshaw.” As he turned around to face her, she lowered her voice to a whisper. “Please forgive me for being so forward. I know I have absolutely no business interfering in your affairs. But I fear that this man and his so-called ‘spirit messages’ is taking dreadful advantage of my aunt’s grief. I should hate to see you taken advantage of as well.”
            He made no reply for several moments, his handsome face wearing an expression Virginia couldn’t quite name. He seemed to be choosing his words with care before uttering them.
            “I deeply appreciate your concern.” He kept his voice low and conspiratorial. “And I assure you I have no intention of allowing myself to be taken advantage of. But this is something I must investigate—both for my sake and the sake of my adored Susan. You understand, of course.”
            “Of course.” Virginia lowered her gaze. In spite of all her best intentions, she had been much too bold and judgmental. Or perhaps she was just jealous of a dead woman. “Good night, Mr. Bradshaw.”
            “Good night, Mrs. Paley.” Jonathan took her hand in his and caressed her palm for a long moment before releasing released it. Virginia felt her pulses suddenly throb. His touch held the same sense of intimacy that she had seen in his eyes—eyes that weren’t those of a man in mourning. “Until we meet again.”

About the Author:

From her first poem at age 10 and her first short story at age 12, Anne hasn’t been able to help writing about her two favorite things—magic and love. An unrepentant nerd, Anne started out in biomedical research but ended up writing software manuals instead. She spent many years as a member of science fiction and historical reenactment groups and has been at various times a Renaissance scholar, a druidess, a pirate wench, a saloon floozy, a belly dancer and a chainmail-wearing warrior maiden.

Still, her first love is writing. It doesn’t matter whether the story is set in the Middle Ages, Victorian times, the present day or far in the future. If it has both love and magic, Anne will write about it. Anne also writes young adult historical fantasy under the name of Ann Finnin.

A native of Southern California, Anne lives in the hills above Los Angeles with her husband Dave, and a Dog of Indeterminate Breed named Rufus.

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