Cover Reveal of Christmas at Sugar Plum Manor

Cover Reveal of Christmas at Sugar Plum Manor

It’s Time!

For Another Cover Reveal!!

Last week I revealed the cover for An Honorable Deception and also shared pre-order links for both it AND this one…which actually releases first. 😉 

I know, I know, I’m so out of order! LOL. But it made sense in my little head to first finish out the covers in the on-going series and THEN jump to the holiday book! This one is a stand-alone.

Now, I know we’re not in the Christmas season now…but we also know how eager we all are to dive back into it when it rolls around again, and wouldn’t you love to have a head start on what holiday reads to put on your list in 2024?

Let’s meet…

Lady Mariah Lyons

Mariah loves the Christmas season, when she gets to help transform her stepfather’s estate, Plumford Manor, into a winter fairyland that she has dubbed Sugar Plum Manor. This year, however, it seems like the whole world is out to steal her Christmas cheer. All she wants to do is show her family who she really is…and, hopefully, how approaching life with whimsy and imagination isn’t foolish. It is, in fact, what faith is made of.

She doesn’t know what to think about the fact that Cyril, her stepfather’s heir, will be joining them again. Once, they were friends. Once, she’d dreamed they’d be more. But anyone fool enough to pay court to the duplicitous Lady Pearl isn’t worth her consideration…and gossip says Cyril and the lady are all but engaged.

An old friend…and the heir

Cyril Lightbourne

Cyril hasn’t returned to Plumford in years, not since he was a child, brought in to be introduced to the distant cousin whose heir he apparently was. But knowing that Lord Castleton doesn’t want him for an heir has made him neglect coming back…especially after he and Mariah, who had become fast friends during that enchanted visit as children, eventually stopped writing to each other. The girl, he had adored. But her letters had changed over the years, and he’s convinced she’s no longer the bright-hearted person he’d once counted as his dearest friend. Was it any wonder, then, that he’d let himself think he could fall in love with the beautiful Lady Pearl when fate threw them together in a way that allowed him to save her life? Yet she’d scorned him and sent him packing, all because he’d shown up bruised after defending her honor.

A Cold-hearted Rival

Lord Søren Gyldenkrone

Cousin to the Danish king, Søren is in England for one purpose: to find an English bride whose family is close to the royals, thereby solidifying relations between Denmark and England. He’d at first thought Lady Pearl to be the best contendor…but her recent behavior has left him apalled. And worse, the scrum over her resulted in the upstart Lightbourne tarnishing his family name. But when he realizes that the next young lady on his list of potential brides–the pretty Lady Mariah with her head full of fluff and nonsense–is special to Lightbourne, he knows the fates are in his favor.

He can get his bride and his revenge in one fell swoop.

Inspired by

The Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffman

this Edwardian-era historical romance is a tale of holiday spirit, love, and the power of family and friendship.

Ready? Here it is!
The cover of Christmas at Sugar Plum Manor!

What do you think??

I admit my first imaginings had an outdoor scene, with snow falling and beautiful plum-purples and golds…but I do admit it would have been tough to get the Nutcracker doll in that concept…and really, can you possibly go wrong with a gorgeous Edwardian ballroom, complete with Christmas tree, Nutcracker, and a stunning dress in holiday red?

Nope. You really can’t. The moment I saw this, I was over the moon. Such a perfect image of the high-society Christmas story that this is!

Now, I know Christmas and release day is still a while off, but you know me. I can’t resist putting it up for you now!

An early endorsement

From Christmas-book fanatic (and my amazing assistant) Rachel Dixon:

“This, THIS is what us Christmas book reading fanatics WANT and drool over every Christmas. You’ve fully captured the magic of Christmas and the Nutcracker, and balanced it beautifully with the hope of Jesus.” ~ Rachel Dixon, aka BookwormMama

Cover Reveal of Christmas at Sugar Plum Manor

Cover Reveal of An Honorable Deception

It’s Time!

For TWO Cover Reveals!!

Say what? Yes, that’s right, I have TWO new covers to show you.

First is the one you might be expecting…book 3 in The Imposters, An Honorable Deception. With book 2 releasing in a few short weeks, it’s no surprise that the cover for the final book in the series is ready for you!

But I also have the cover for my Christmas novel to show you, which will actually be releasing before this!

Today, though…Imposters. Unleeeesssssss you REALLY want to see the cover for Christmas at Sugar Plum Manor too. In which case, read on! 😉 There’s info at the bottom on how you can see that one a week early too!

But First…

Our Hero, Yates

First we have Yates. Technically Lord Fairfax, an earl…but if you’ve read his sister’s story in A Beautiful Disguise, you know he’s far more interested in running their P.I. firm and playing with the retired circus animals that live at their estate than attending the Sessions.

I don’t often write muscle-bound heroes, but Yates HAS to be…so that he can toss and catch his sister on the trapeze. And building ledges. And wherever else they need to get into and out of for their clandestine work. But in addition to all the muscles, Yates has a heart of gold and will do absolutely anything to protect the people he loves.

A New Acquaintance

Lady Alethia Barremore

Lady Alethia hires the Imposters to help her find her dearest friend–her Indian ayah (nanny) who has gone missing. As the daughter of a former viceroy of India, Alethia has made a splash in her first season by wearing Indian finery. But she’s also apparently made enemies, because she’s shot three times leaving her meeting with Mr. A of the Imposters. What have she and her former ayah, Samira, stumbled into?

And an old friend…

Lady Lavinia Hemming

Lavinia is still reeling from the family secrets that nearly undid them all in A Beautiful Disguise, and she’s still regaining her strength from the bout of Scarlet Fever that weakened her heart and nearly killed her. She doesn’t knew who in the world she can trust when her own family would betray her–but when she discovers her dearest friends are the Imposters, she’s relieved to find that their secrets are noble…and she promptly recruits herself, so that she can help them find Lavinia’s friend.


as clues lead them deeper into the darkest of society’s secrets…

Alethia, Yates, and Lavinia soon learn anew that the gentry isn’t always noble…and truth isn’t always honorable. Amidst burgeoning love and old betrayal, scandalous secrets will test the bounds of redemption in this exhilarating series finale.

Ready? Here it is!
The cover of An Honorable Deception!

Isn’t it beautiful??

I love the autumn colors and how they work so well with the beautiful rose of the dress.

Now…you may be wondering which of the ladies this is. Alethia? Lavinia? From the character images I shared above, you may even notice that they bear a passing resemblance to each other.

That’s no accident, friends!

So to discover which one is the “heroine”…which one steals Yates’s heart…you’re just going to have to wait and read the book! 😉

Lucky for you, you can:


What about that second cover??

Well, you can come back next week and see it here on the blog or in the newsletter, no problem. There will be a post much like this one, with some character images and a bit about my Nutcracker-inspired story.

But if you want to be the FIRST to get a peek, you can do so by ORDERING either of these two books! Pre-order from my shop, and you’ll get an email within minutes with the second cover!

(Of course, you’ll still want to come back next week for the full info! LOL)

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

I imagine most of you will be wrapped up in celebration rather than checking on blogs, but I wanted a short message of peace and praise and good will on here in case you happen by.

First, a quick reminder.

Christmas Day is the BEGINNING of the Christmas season, not the end! Today is the First day of the Octave (eight days of feasting), of the Twelve Days that lead us to Epiphany, and of the whole season that traditionally stretches long into January. I know that society today moves quickly on, but I hope we as believers let the beauty of Christ’s arrival linger long in our hearts.

Here’s a traditional Christmas prayer to warm you.

Lord, in this holy season of prayer and song and laughter,
we praise you for the great wonders you have sent us:
for shining star and angel’s song,
for infant’s cry in lowly manger.
We praise you for the Word made flesh in a little Child.
We behold his glory, and are bathed in its radiance.


Merry Christmas, Friends!

A Nutcracker Kind of Christmas

A Nutcracker Kind of Christmas

Time to tell you about a fun new story you can expect in time for Christmas of 2024!

I’ve hinted at it here and there, but I’ve yet to give a full peek…because, well, it seemed like a funny thing to talk about in the spring and summer when I was first signing the contract and then writing the book. But with Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas ahead, now seems like the PERFECT time to tell you about . . .

(That designed title is my own imagingings, nothing official, LOL. Just FYI.)

Christmas at Sugar Plum Manor

So here’s the story. Just about a year ago, my editor at Bethany House emailed to ask if I’d be interested in writing a short Edwardian-era Christmas novel.


As I drove the kids to youth group and continued to mass, I brainstormed what sort of Christmas story I could write. What would be fun? What did I love? What would bring me joy? I knew the answer within hours of asking it.

The Nutcracker.

You see, my daughter was in our local ballet studio’s annual production of The Nutcracker for a decade, from the time she was five until the studio closed its doors a few years ago. We LOVE the ballet. We know its music by heart. Xoe has danced most of the dances and gotten to wear most of the costumes. Every year, this classic Christmas production was a HUGE part of our year.

But one of my favorite memories comes from her first year performing. She was one of the Littles, who only came on stage two or three times. The rest of the time, all those primary schoolers were backstage, in a room above the theater, where somehow one parent was expected to keep a dozen hyperactive little ones who were excited and nervous about the show quiet. Um…yeah.

But I had a plan. After Simon Says lost its luster, I told them all to sit down, and I broke out a book. It was an adaptation of the original story, Nutcracker and Mouse King, that had inspired Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet. This story, written by E. T. A. Hoffman, had backstory we never get in the show, a mystical and magical and far-fetched tale of curses and magical nuts and sworn enemies and unlikely friends. It’s a truly charming tale, and it held those little girls rapt as I read it to them.

So I pitched a Nutcracker-themed romance to my editor–one with a villain more Scrooge-ish than really evil, with happily-ever-afters abounding, but with an imaginative heroine who was misunderstood by her very practical family, and yet whose belief in the power of laughter and joy and yes, even the absurd stories of a child with an overactive imagination, ends up changing them all.

Just before Christmas last year, I got the news that the committee had approved the story idea and that Christmas at Sugar Plum Manor would be slated for publication in September 2024, in time for the holiday season!

My version of the story is set in one of England’s “classic Christmas card villages,” Castleton (which was seriously on postcards and holiday greeting cards), at a fictional estate just outside of town which is officially called Plumford Manor thanks to its plum orchards, but which at Christmas the heroine always dubs Sugar Plum Manor. Each year, she helps the staff turn their dried fruit into her favorite holiday treat–sugar plums (prunes that have been rolled in sugar and baked, then rolled and baked again, and again, until they’re a crystallized delight). But she is, in fact, only the stepdaughter of the Earl of Castleton. He and her mother had no children of their own, which means an heir had to be tracked down…and Cyril Lightbourne is exactly the kind of hero she can imagine falling in love with–if only they can reclaim the joy they had together as children when he came to be introduced to the family and not let the hard realities of society…and a Danish lord set on revenge…get in the way.

I had so much fun picking out some of the key elements of the original story–Nutcracker dolls and a landscape made of sweet treats, a creative heroine whose siblings and parents are far too practical to indulge her fancies, a noble young hero who’d been spurned by a great beauty, and someone to play the part of the Mouse King, of course–and twist and turn them enough to make sense in the “real” world. And of course, a rather mad professor who created magic in his workshop. 😉

I don’t yet have an official cover to show you, but I’m so excited to see what they come up with!

AND…another fun thing. I’ll be publishing a new adaptation of that original Nutcracker and Mouse King story too! Many of us today don’t even know the original story, only the ballet, and that’s a real shame, because it’s so much fun! This companion edition will include historical sidebars, definitions, recipes, craft ideas, and more to help you bring this classic children’s Christmas story to life for a whole new generation! Stay tuned for more info on that and the novel as it all comes together in the next year!


Are you familiar with the original story about brave Nutcracker? With the ballet? Do you have other favorite classic Christmas stories?

An Invitation to the World of the Awakened

An Invitation to the World of the Awakened

An Invitation to the World of the Awakened

Where the magic is in the meeting of those who should never be friends…

Imagine a world thousands of years in the future, where the Lord has tarried in His return…

A world where a great cataclysm has struck,
sending a portion of the population beneath the sea
in search of safety. Imagine a people who learned
to thrive and survive beneath the waves.

They are still men. But they are also mer.
And they will not be dictated to by land-dwellers.

Imagine a world that cried out to God for help…and He answered.

A gift from God…combined with the technology of men.

“Magic,” they call it, knowing it is truly
science and faith combined.
But it doesn’t show up just anywhere.

Magic only comes in the meeting.
The meeting of worlds,
where enemies find a way to become friends.

And magic must be Awakened.
Awakened by the blood of another with this Gift.

King Seidon

In that world, King Seidon rules the tidal kingdom of Daryatla. He is the latest–and perhaps last–in a line of powerful half-mer rulers whose “magic” helps him control water, especially the sea. He is the strongest monarch since the days of the evil first Sea King, who tried to subjugate the mer. Seidon is a man of faith and conviction, and during his 200 years of rule, he has grown his power more and more, so that he can bring prosperity to lands all up and down the continent and extending ever farther inland.

He brings rain when it is needed, holds it off when it would flood. He calms storms and keeps the rivers in their courses, keeps a hand on the tides and can change them at will. It is a dangerous power–but one that he knows is kept in check by the Lord. If ever the Triada’s favor is revoked, all his people will know it. The Waters of Mercy won’t surge their blessing in the great cathedral, and his power will be given to whoever arises as worthy of it. He must seek God above all, always.

The stronger he grows, the longer his life stretches out before him…but Seidon is alone. His friends age and die while he grows only younger. And never, in all his years, has he been able to find the thing he craves most: a family, children to raise to take his place.

And now, the mer kingdom off his shores is in uproar…
and war is looming for them all.

Arden never expected to be called upon to help her kingdom.

Arden Bleu

She still remembers the lonely years, when her father, Guardian of the Barrier Banks–one of the king’s most trusted men–waited for her mother to come back and prove herself alive. She’d said she was dying and must return to her people before she did…but Arden doesn’t even remember her mother. She only remembers the haunted look in her father’s eyes, and how it all changed when he finally admitted his first wife was gone forever, fell in love with Sapphire, and married her, giving Arden a little sister and a best friend–Jade.

Jericho Bleu, Guardian of the Barrier Banks

Sapphire Bleu, Artist

They were inseparable as children, they’re inseparable still as adults, even though Jade is so beautiful that it surely means magic waits in her veins to be Awakened. Arden has always known Jade is special–so special that one of the Great Golden Sea Hawks circles them every day, and has ever since the day Jade was born. Arden doesn’t even know what her own dreams are, only that she can’t imagine what she’ll do when Jade leaves. After their Awakening ceremony, she’ll surely be swept into service by the king, or she’ll chase her dreams into a position as ambassador to the mer…and Arden will no doubt still be here. On her father’s island. Alone, always the outcast. It’s enough to make her hate the king she’s never met, who has been away from his capital city all her life.

But then the unthinkable happens.
Jade is kidnapped by the mer.


And not just any mer…
it seems the mysterious Black Tails have returned.
And where there are Black Tails, there is war between mer and men.

Jade Calimore

Arden will do anything to save her stepsister, even appeal to the king she hoped never to meet, the king who could have taken her father from her at any moment, the king who would surely have seen Jade’s potential too and called her into service. With her cousin, Storm, who her father has been training to be a member of the king’s Elite Guard–and who is in love with Jade–she goes to the palace to make her appeal, on the day of the biggest celebration Daryatla has seen in a century:

The king’s 275th birthday and 200th coronation anniversary ball–The Blue Ball.

Together, Arden and Storm beseech King Seidon for his aid.

But Seidon knows that more than the fate of one of his oldest friends’ stepdaughters is at stake. He knows that the mer would not have kidnapped Jade unless they thought she possessed strong magic.


Storm Bleu, Guardian in Training

Magic like he sensed in the water when she was taken. Magic that may just be strong enough to match his own.

Magic that could finally make a way for a future for Daryatla…if only he can rescue her from the mer.

Beneath the waves, Jade finds a kingdom on the brink of revolution.

Her kidnappers, the elusive Black Tails, are fighting for their very survival. When the Crown Princess ascends to the throne in a few months, she has sworn to kill all other Awakened, thinking it will strengthen her own power enough to challenge Seidon. But her siblings, cousins, and the other magical mer aren’t about to give up without a fight.

Prince Finn Sael

Prince Finn is the leader of the rebellion, but he knows that alone, and even with the help of his comrades, may not be strong enough to defeat his sister once she holds the power of the crown. So when his cousin, a priest of the One, tells him a prophecy foretells someone with Sky Magic, and that he thinks he’s found her, Finn agrees to kidnap Jade…and secure her powers for his purposes.

Electra is none too pleased with the plan, but she goes along because Finn is her best hope of survival. When she’s charged with training Jade, though, Jade isn’t sure if she is an ally…or the most dangerous enemy.

Electra, Black Tail Warrior

Librus, Priest of the One

Electra’s brother, Librus, the priest advising Finn, takes Jade under his wing…and reveals to her a magic no one on land knows. A magic that could well challenge Seidon and threaten everyone she loves. A magic she can’t convince him she doesn’t share, no matter how she tries.

What neither Arden nor Seidon could know is that more than Jade is waiting to be found.

Jade’s guardian hawk soon swoops down to help in the search, but even that isn’t the biggest surprise. What neither king nor guardian’s daughter could have expected was the quick connection they find in each other. No one ever took the time to know Arden at all, as long as she was in Jade’s shadow…and no one looks beyond the king to see the man beneath the fearsome powers and strength of the crown.

Ora, the Great Golden Sea Hawk

But in order to save Jade and all of Daryatla, they’ll have to be willing to sacrifice everything…and be willing to trust God to do the impossible.

The Tidal Palace

If you’ve read this far, then you may be interested in exploring new worlds with me–or rather, a vision of what our own world could become if God so ordained it. A world in which the hearts of His people must still seek Him, and seek unity with each other, to unlock our true potential. A world of romance and royalty, mermaids and giant sea birds, rivalries and friendships in unexpected places.

This is a story that has nourished my mind and heart and spirit over the last few months as I’ve developed it…but obviously a far cry from my usual historical romances. Oh, there’s still much the same–deep characters, swoon-worthy heroes, heart-racing romance, and an invitation to look deep into your own heart and soul. But this time, it’s on a backdrop of my own making, a future earth, instead of a world of centuries past. (Don’t worry though, historical romance fans! I’m still writing that too!)

I don’t want to bore my historical romance readers with news and updates of this story if you’re NOT interested in joining me on this adventure as it unfolds…but I definitely DO want to invite along anyone who thinks this story world sounds like a place they’d like to spend some time. I envision it eventually unfolding as a series, exploring the various regions of this new version of the world and what this God-given “magic” looks like in different kingdoms. First though, of course, is this book. I’m about halfway through the first draft.

In the next several months, I want to call upon YOU, you readers who are interested in joining me here, to help me decide on a title, on the cover, and so on. I’ll share images like the ones I’ve created (with AI) for this post, bits and pieces as I write, and what my plans are as they develop. I want to make sure the story I’m telling is one you want to hear. So if you’re interested in being part of my new core of royal fantasy readers, please let me know!

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It’s Release Day! A Beautiful Disguise

It’s Release Day! A Beautiful Disguise

Welcome to the Launch Day Celebration for A Beautiful Disguise!

If you’ve been hanging out with me much online in the last couple months, you likely know how excited I am for the beginning of this new series, The Imposters. The concept is just so…much…FUN.

I mean, two aristocratic siblings forced to become private investigators to make ends meet after their father leaves them all but bankrupt? Who have special skills from the performers who had peoples their childhoods…and on whom their father had wasted all that money? A retired circus family now filling in as servants on the estate, with their exotic animals taking up the stalls in the stables?


Live Event!

Join me for a Facebook Live video tonight, Tuesday August 22, at 7 pm Eastern! (You can watch it afterward too, and I’ll try to answer any questions in the comments!)

  • Behind the scenes
  • Fun facts
  • Short author reading
  • What’s coming next

And I couldn’t be more excited to welcome you all into that Imposters world with book 1, A Beautiful Disguise! This book is primarily about the older sister of the two siblings, Lady Marigold, and their latest, too-noble client, Lieutenant Colonel Sir Merritt Livingstone.

Marigold is known among society for her ostentatious, haute couture fashions. But it’s all just intended to mask the real her, so that she can learn things for their cases. People are so used to just noting her hat or dress that they fail to look at her or pay any attention to what she’s doing. Handy thing for a PI.

Sir Merritt earned his knighthood serving among the Coldstream Guards in the Boxer Rebellion, where he rescued a family of missionaries that remain some of his closest friends. He landed behind a desk thanks to pneumonia, and now he’s tasked with helping in the formation of England’s first unified intelligence force, combining the divisions of the army, navy, and police. But he soon discovers something that looks like treason…and which he’s too ill to investigate alone. He calls on the Imposters for help.

And their lives change forever. =D

Introducing Lady M’s Fabulous and Frugal Fashion Column!

Marigold has a secret though–her high fashions don’t come from Chanel in Paris. They come from her own attic. She uses the dresses that were her mother’s and grandmother’s, remakes them for current cutting-edge trends, and dyes or bedecks them. Basically, she creates new looks for next to nothing.

And Lady M has brought her fabulous and frugal advice to the blog! (With the help of a few wonderful ladies you can meet when you follow the link below.)

You can read the advice up already and check back regularly for new fashion tips, because Lady M has a lot to share with you! You can even write to her with your questions, requests, and suggestions!

More from the world of the Imposters

There’s So Much to Explore!

Learn more about the Edwardian circus that defined the Imposters’ childhood, get fashion tips from Lady M, explore the theater of the day, meet the team, pet the animals, go behind the Top Secret stamp to learn about intelligence in the early 20th century, train yourself to be a private investigator, and dive into some fun and games!

Shop the Imposters Collection

Spy gadgets, handmade vintage style bags, peacock stationery, and more!


US entrants, enter to win a copy of A Beautiful Disguise
(or another book of your choice) + a $25 gift card to my shop!

International entrants, enter to win a copy of any of my books, shipped from your usual online retailer.