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The Mystery of Masks

The urge to dress up isn't universal, but it is wide spread!  In historical romances, one of the fun tropes is the masquerade ball, where guests can come as Cleopatra or a Cavalier or whatever else they fancy.  Or if they don't want a costume, they can wear sweeping, caped and hooded dominoes that disguise face and body.  Masks are a major part of the fun because they allow guests to dance with mysterious strangers, or flirt, or steal a kiss, or possibly a good deal more.  The joy of anonymity!

At a ball, the masks generally came off at midnight, at which point you find that the masked man who is a great kisser is the neighbor you thought was really boring, or some other interesting discovery.  Of course, those who really valued anonymity would sneak out before the unmasking. 

I've use masked balls a time or two because the plot possibilities are so delicious.  In Nowhere Near Respectable, Princess Charlotte, the teenage daughter of the Prince Regent, goes in disguise to a mask where hero and heroine have to rescue her from villains.  A little too much excitement, even for a bored princess!

Most of us don't get invited to that kind of masquerade ball, but we do have Halloween.  When I was little, Halloween was more a matter of kids and candy, but over the years, adult have been dressing up more and more.  Because dressing up is fun, and it does add a little excitement to one's life when the grocery cashier is a vampire. 

Are you someone who loves dress up?  Or do you prefer to watch and applaud from the sidelines?  Or would you rather avoid vampire cashiers altogether?

Mary Jo Putney

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Once A Scoundrel - Reviewed by Alex

If there is one author you can count on to give you an impeccably researched and action-packed read filled with heart every single time, it’s Mary Jo Putney. Is it silly that every year when her books come out, I undoubtedly provide my Staff Pick for them? Only as silly as the fact that every year, her books are showered with starred reviews, top picks, awards, and accolades. And it’s simply because Mary Jo is a legend in historical romance. ONCE A SCOUNDREL is her new book in the Rogues Redeemed series (spinning off from the Lost Lords series), and it’s one of her most adventurous stories yet. This book has everything—a swashbuckling hero, adventure on the high seas, a beautiful heroine who has no problem tackling the world on her own, and not one, but TWO romances!

Gabriel Hawkins is a former officer in the Royal Navy who has been disgraced and disowned, only to now captain his own ship—performing deeds both above and below board. He has a checkered past that he’s worked to come to terms with, and he’s established in his ways, until he is asked to rescue the headstrong Lady Aurora Lawrence from pirates along the Barbary coast. What follows is an adventure that takes readers from London to the Mediterranean to Constantinople on a rescue mission that becomes more and more layered as the story progresses.

Will they escape their captors? Will they escape their pasts? Can a disgraced captain and the daughter of an Earl survive to find happiness despite the constraints of Regency society? You’ll have to read the book to find your way to this well-earned HEA.



A Healing Justice - Reviewed by Michaela

What’s a cat lover like me doing, writing about a dog book? Actually, I love all animals. I’m proud to share my life with three beautiful and sweet-natured cats. But sometimes I have to wonder . . . should I adopt a dog too? 

Kristin von Kreisler’s novels make me realize how deep the bond between humans and canines can be.  Her new book, A Healing Justice, tells the story of police officer Andrea Brady and her K-9 partner, Justice. A violent incident leaves Justice fighting for his life – and Andrea on the brink of losing everything that is meaningful to her.  Both partners find strength they didn’t know they had as they help each other on a journey of healing that is sure to touch the hearts of animal-loving readers.
Fun facts: The dog on the cover of A Healing Justice is Kristin’s own dog, Bridget.  Kristin and “Bridgie” live on an island in the Puget Sound, much like the setting of this book. Kristin attended a civilian police academy training program there to learn about the challenges that police officers and their K-9 partners face every day.
One thing I know . . .If I ever get a dog, I’d want one like Justice.