About the Book
Newlyweds Lord and Lady Astley have already experienced their fair-share of suspense, but when a honeymoon trip takes a detour to the mystical land of Egypt, not even Grace with her fiction-loving mind is prepared for the dangers in store. From an assortment of untrustworthy adventure-seekers to a newly discovered tomb with a murderous secret, Frederick and Grace must lean on each other to navigate their dangerous surroundings. As the suspects mount in an antiquities’ heist of ancient proportions, will Frederick and Grace’s attempts to solve the mystery lead to another death among the sands?
About the Author
Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with southern Appalachian flair. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her historical romance novels, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge and The Red Ribbon, and her contemporary novels, the Mitchell’s Crossroads and Pleasant Gap series, showcase her Appalachian heritage, as well as her love for humor and family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.
You can learn more about Pepper at her website http://www.pepperdbasham.com or connect with her on FB, IG, or Twitter
Read an Excerpt Here!
February 1914, Havensbrook
Gunfire erupted from outside, sending Frederick Percy, Earl of Astley, leaping from his chair. The seat crashed against the floor behind him in time with another shot. What on earth! He grabbed the first weapon-like item he could find—his grandfather’s cane—and dashed toward the sound, nearly colliding with his butler moving in the same direction.
“Did you hear the gunfire, Brandon?”
The older gentleman’s brows rose as high as they could go without becoming part of his snowy hairline. “Indeed, my lord. From the south garden, if I guess correctly, sir.”
“My thoughts exactly.” Frederick tapped the cane against the floor and took a step in the direction of the garden door. Then stopped, a sudden sense of dread forming a lump in his stomach. His butler’s response was much too cavalier for an emergency. “Have you seen Lady Astley of late, Brandon?”
“Not since after breakfast, sir.”
“Well, then.” Frederick returned to his office for his own pistol and prayed whatever inspired a gunshot near his home would prove more benign than dangerous. After surviving several near-death experiences over the past Christmas season, Frederick was quite finished with drama for a while. Though drama seemed to follow his new bride in spades.
He met the butler back in the hallway.
“Might I offer an insight, sir?”
Frederick pivoted in his approach to the door and turned back to Brandon. “Insight?”
“Yes, sir.” The man released a deep sigh which pulled his pristine posture into a slight slump. He then sent Frederick a look which somehow inspired a grimace before Frederick even heard the man’s words. “Her ladyship was speaking with Mr. Blake after breakfast, sir.”
“Mr. Blake?” Frederick rolled his gaze heavenward, the tension in his jaw uncoiling into a slight annoyance that manifested in an ache over his right eyebrow. He loved his cousin. There was no man Frederick trusted more. But for some reason, the idea of Blake and Grace together followed by the sound of gunfire did not bode well.
“About pistols, my lord.”
And the answers emerged, along with an increased throbbing in Frederick’s head. “Thank you, Brandon.”
Setting a slower pace, he moved toward the south side of his manor house, another shot reverberating nearer. Within a month since Christmas, his American wife had learned how to drive the car and throw knives, two skills she appeared to excel in more than knowing the fashion of the season or how to address the complicated hierarchy of the aristocracy. His lips almost split into a grin as he recalled her stumbling over addressing the Duke of Westonbridge two weeks ago by calling him “Your Honorable Lord” and then in quick correction, “Your Grace, or at least I hope you are since I fumbled your title so atrociously.”
Of course the duke had fallen under Grace’s spell within five minutes, as everyone else who met her seemed to do since she’d moved to his crumbling Derbyshire estate two months earlier. Well, everyone except the villainess who’d tried to kill them just before Christmas. But that was hopefully a distant story, and their next chapter would be a lovely, peaceful belated honeymoon—he increased his steps at the idea—with a little surprise tagged on for his lovely Lady Astley.
Frederick nodded a good afternoon to the police officer inconspicuously posted near the house so that Frederick’s mother could work out her sentence of house arrest in connection with his father and brother’s deaths. He released a sigh. No, she was no murderess, unless glares and harsh words counted, but she’d harbored information that could have protected others. The law had been gracious with her due to her age and status, merely revoking her freedoms from leaving Havensbrook, so his mother’s life stayed very much as it had since Frederick’s father’s death; however, the added blemish of “criminal” to her reputation ensured she spent her days away from the public eye.
And if the police officer appeared in no great distress over the gunfire, Frederick knew all too well what must be happening.
Just around the edge of the house, a large garden opened to the south, its walls still well intact, though ivy-grown and tangled. Another shot reverberated through the damp air, followed quickly by laughter and his wife’s exuberant exclamation of “I hit it.”
Frederick’s lips pinched into a frown. Why he ever expected his cousin Blake to mind Frederick’s subtle requests was beyond him! The garden gate stood open, welcoming him forward into an even more tangled array of vines and twined greenery, the winter roses, a remnant of the garden’s healthier days, sleeping until spring.
He hadn’t had the means to make things right with Havensbrook before but, with Grace’s wealth and her generous heart, he could now. Another way to make amends for the past, he hoped, though
God had already bestowed on him much more than he deserved.
His cousin stood to the right, hands on the hips of his gray suit jacket, but Frederick’s gaze followed Blake’s focus to the woman in the center of the garden. Her bright auburn hair was twisted up beneath a deep purple hat that matched her coat, both in contrast to her pale skin. Her laughter echoed toward him, so filled with joy and hope. Two things he’d thought lost forever before he’d met her.
Yes, God had given him much more than he deserved, and sometimes, he wondered if God had given him more than he could manage.
“Of course, we’d all be in terrible trouble if Christ hadn’t taken our many horrible actions on Himself so that we don’t have to worry about the curses.” She chuckled and then stopped. “Do you think it’s rong to mention one religion while climbing through a tomb for a very different one?” Frederick would have laughed if the thick air didn’t require focus on breathing.”
Freddie and Grace are headed to Egypt for a delayed honeymoon. The trip was supposed to be a simple one that involved visiting family and exploring the pyramids and other sites. But where Grace is involved, nothing is very simple. Especially when she thinks that there might be a mystery to solve.
When they arrive, trouble has been happening at the archeological site. Plus the whole operation seems to cost too much. Can Freddie and Grace get to the bottom of what might be involved?
This is a sequel to the Mistletoe Countess. I do recommend reading that one first as you will connect to the characters more thoroughly. Grace is a delight even if she is a bit foolhardy at times. This is a historical fiction book, but I think it almost reads like a contemporary book other than with their modes of transportation and dress. Romance is another element, but nothing is unseemly at all. Faith overrides the whole plot.
I did read an advanced copy through NetGalley. I loved the first book and really enjoyed this one as well. All opinions are my own.
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