Book Review (SERIES): League of Lords

Looking over some other reviews before starting this one – the description of a water-down X-men by way of a Victorian Regency Romance does a real good job of capturing the story. For most of the reviewers, this was a negative – for me, it’s enough of a positive that after reading book 1 (using the first one free-marketing scheme), I picked up book 2 (priced real cheap), and then onto book 3. I’ll pass book 4, since I have a high dislike of time travel – Days of Future Past and other time twisty stories annoy me. I enjoyed all three of the books I did read.

League of Lords series by Tracy Sumner

  1. The Lady is Trouble
  2. The Rake is Taken
  3. The Duke is Wicked
  4. The Hellion is Tamed (not reviewed)


Amazon Cover


What’s a reluctant viscount to do when the woman he can’t have becomes the woman he can’t live without?

Viscount Julian Alexander works dutifully to protect London’s outcast clairvoyants. But when the woman he’s sworn to keep from harm threatens to turn his orderly life and League of the gifted upside down, he finds himself craving her above all others. And with her brash American ways driving him to distraction, he fears the ensuing chaos could expose them all to danger.

Psychic healer Lady Piper Scott is tired of being ignored by the man she desires. In an impulsive bid to draw his attention, she slips her protective leash to pose as a medium for bored aristocrats. But when an arsonist turns the séance into an inferno, her plan simultaneously succeeds and fails when Julian flies into a rage… and then whisks her away to his mansion, alone.

Confronted with the woman’s implacable persistence, the handsome nobleman worries that giving into his heart will only inch her closer to those who would abuse her power. But Piper is more resolute than ever to prove her place is by his side, opposing their enemies together.


First of the series: Why I like – I love friends-to-lovers troupes. The main couple grew up together. Viscount Julian is trying to distant himself from Lady Piper, stiff upper lip and all that – to protect her, of course, but the Lady is having none of that.

The women of this series are all “unconventional” – i.e. they are all very modern (as in OUR time, not Victorian England time) in their want of independence and their sexuality.

Piper starts wearing down Julian, convincing him the fortress of controlled emotions is a prison and not a defense, but then bad guys happen, proving his point. Will she be able to prove love is an even stronger fortress, especially with the love of found family to support them?


Amazon Cover


A gorgeous psychic. An unwanted betrothal. A tantalizing compromise.

Lady Victoria Hamilton has a supernatural gift, a fiancé, and a guardian angel. She just never expected her protector to be the most dazzling man in England, a devilish scoundrel they call the Blue Bastard. Victoria has agreed to marry for duty, not love, but her unforeseen desire for her mystical angel threatens to destroy not only her plans for the future but the armor surrounding her susceptible heart.

A confirmed scoundrel, a mind reader, and the only man she desires…

Illegitimate son of a viscount and reigning king of London’s gossip sheets, Finn Alexander has spent a lifetime hiding his ability to read minds behind charming smiles and wicked behavior. No one knows the real man, and he likes it that way. Until he meets the lone woman who sees the man beneath the disguise—a blue-blooded temptress with the power to bring him to his knees.

As they embark on a journey of passion and friendship, Victoria and Finn must decide if they’re willing to risk everything for the promise of true, magical love.


The second book of League of Lords follows the way-Way-WAY too handsome Finn Alexander, mind-reader, dealing with the first woman in his life whose mind wasn’t an open book. How do you woo a woman when you don’t know what she is thinking, and Lady Victoria is a bit more unconventional than most, so guessing doesn’t work. He is going to have to (gasp) TALK to her and actually listen to the responses.

The paranormal activity continues to be fun in the second book, the presentation of mind-reading works well, and the extended paranormal community for the League of Lord grows in complexity and interest. For the regency romance side, we have a forced engagement, a faked engagement, and tons of other beloved troupes. A good book, more lively than the first.


Amazon Cover


~FINALIST: HOLT Medallion 2022
~WINNER: MAGGIE Award 2022
~Best Reads of 2021 – Lady With a Quill Reviews

He’s harboring a fiery secret….

The Duke of Ashcroft is determined to keep the League of Lords under wraps. After all, the group’s supernatural gifts brought the mystical misfits together and nobody is going to tear them apart. Intelligent and wily, Sebastian knows better than to trust anyone–especially an impulsive and intrusive American woman.

She’s looking for answers…

Competitive and confident, Delaney Temple is hellbent on uncovering the truth about the League. She’ll stop at nothing to unearth the secrets they’re burying. But when Sebastian is in trouble and Delaney comes to his rescue, their contempt turns to a burning desire. Suddenly, with their passion ignited, they can no longer deny their attraction.

A wicked duke. A troublesome beauty. And the forbidden desire they can’t deny.


Our fiery Duke meets his match in an America woman, who makes the unconventional women who married his friends look normal. Struggling with class and culture is a battle the Duke is willing to face, but can he keep Delaney’s interest on him instead of on the books inside her head?

This third book of the series is both stronger and weaker than the first two. Delaney’s power is interesting, but not as visceral as the rest of the members of the League. The familiar characters from the past stories continue to fill out the larger world, but the best Big Bad so far facing off against our League of Lords happened in book one – and a superhero series is only as good as its villains.

A good read, better than average, especially if you like romance and superhero mixes.

Book Review: Elena (Book 2 of Shadow and Blood)

Book Cover from Amazon

Elena (Daughters of Shadow and Blood Book 2) by J. Matthew Saunders


Gračanica. Kosovo, 1689: Elena, an Albanian peasant girl, has sacrificed her own future to keep her family from starving, but one horrific night they are taken from her, murdered by monsters out of her nightmares. She seeks refuge at the nearby monastery, where she meets Stjepan, a Serbian monk familiar with creatures that stalk the night. Elena longs to return to her farm, but piecing her life back together may be impossible. Stjepan draws her into a dark conspiracy involving an ancient brotherhood, and as war looms, a stranger named Lek appears, threatening to overturn everything she thought she knew about her family and herself.

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1999: Since surviving the showdown between the vampire Yasamin and the terrorist group Süleyman’s Blade, Adam Mire has lived in hiding, posing as an unassuming Czech librarian. His life is upended again, however, when a new threat arises—one intent on using Dracula’s legacy to unleash another wave of violence across the already war-ravaged nation.

Meanwhile, Clara MacIntosh, the love Adam left behind, has come to Eastern Europe to find him. While tracking him down, she becomes entangled in a string of grisly murders—deaths Adam is investigating as well. As they both follow clues literally written in blood, time runs short to unmask the killer before history comes full-circle and chaos engulfs the region again.



Not quite as engrossing as the first book of the trilogy; Yasmin and the Ottoman Empire are a tough beginning to beat, both being powerhouses of beauty and death. Elena is much more quiet, the shadows are hers … a person you fall for even as you know she will kill you. The silent breeze brushing a moment against your throat.

Mr. Saunders again creates a compelling Bride, completely different from the first. The story continues to have the tangle of timelines – going over Elena’s story from the middle ages, the horror of present day Sarajevo, a quick side trip to Lord Bryon eighteen hundreds, etc. The mysteries deepen – where I thought the green hand was going is not necessarily where the trip will end. And as for the medallion – so many players are after it, Mr. Saunders has his work cut out for him to bring this to a satisfying conclusion in the final book.

A slightly slower book for the middle of the trilogy, but driving relentlessly forward to a conclusion with Mr. Saunders beautiful descriptive prose. The book works well both as a stand-alone and as part of the series; I would recommend reading the first book of the series first, but it is not required.

I lightly touched on the first book of the series in an author spotlight for Mr. Saunders: here.

Author Spotlight: Michael G. Williams

Amazon Cover

Around the time I wrote the Author Spotlight on Michael G. Williams back in 2017, my publisher asked me if I knew Mr. Williams and would be interested in editing a book by him. Seems the boss had picked up the series which I discussed in the blog post, plus would be publishing the last of the series. If I was available, he would assign it to me.

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, OMG, OMG!!!! Squeal!

After I calmed down, I worded a reply – deleted that one as being way too fangirl – did another after I calmed down again. Finally I managed something along the lines of: “I have enjoyed his work and believe I can fit another book into my schedule.” Hit send on the email, then finger out and take a sip of tea. So professional. While quivering in excitement.

One book turned into two, then three, and now I am his go-to editor at Falstaff. (He does get some of his short work published elsewhere.)

My mantra when editing his work is “Don’t pull a J.K. Rowlings with Mr. Williams.” I want his work to be the best possible, which means he must get edited completely. Unlike Ms. Rowlings, whose books clearly had editing slack off as her editors changed into fans, I had to remain an editor. No matter how much of a fan I am.

And if I stay good, I get to see his work before anyone else!

That’s a big incentive to stay on the straight and narrow red editing line.

This year Falstaff Books put out three of his novels/novellas.

First one happened back in January 2019, A Fall in Autumn. In fact, it was Falstaff’s first publication of the year as well as the first book in a science fiction series about a detective. It’s amazing! The central conceit of the SF aspect is organic manipulation, not the typical military and spaceship story.

Second happened in June, Nobody Gets Out Alive, concluded the Withrow Chronicles. ( The final cross-genre for the vampire series was War Chronicles. I had to dig deep to remember what I knew about the tropes of that genre, but I truly feel that the conclusion delivers on the promise of the series. Not an easy thing to do for a five-book opus.

Amazon Cover

Third, and last one, published this year, Through the Doors of Oblivion, the first of a new series in the Quincy Harker/Shadow Council universe. This is perhaps his best story yet, mixing in so many of his passions. Mr. Williams love of San Francisco bleeds through every page. In fact, most of my editing felt like: “Pull back. This scene doesn’t fit this story right now. I know you love it, but save it for later books.” This time the urban fantasy focuses on witches vs. a demon, with a lot of the City by the Bay history thrown in.

Each book published this year had a different focus, a different sub-genre, and yet his author’s voice dances throughout even as the series voice and character voices adjust. He is an amazing writer.

And I get to edit him! (squeal, hands clapping)

Read his stuff. Give him a reason to complete the next book of the Fall in Autumn and the Servant/Sovereign series. I can’t wait to see them.

You can follow him at:

Geeking Science: EmDrive

Image (c) SPR Ltd. /

Breaking Science – EmDrive

The engineers are trying to break science again. They do this periodically just to keep scientists honest. The newest thing hairbrain idea is the EmDrive (officially a “radio frequency (RF) resonant cavity thruster”).

Engineers (practical application) have been driving Scientists (theory modelists) to distraction since the beginning of time.


STORYTIME: The Scientist and the Engineer

“Hey, Scientist Uke, I got fire by rubbing two sticks together,” reported Engineer Bob.

“That isn’t how fire comes.” The scientist explained the world-model everyone knew to be true. “It comes from the sky from the gods as an element. Wood is a different element from a different god that is destroyed by the fire gods. It is the way the world works.”

“Well, I rubbed two sticks together using that bow thing I put together last month, and I got fire from wood.”

The scientist scrunched his Neanderthal brow. “Prove it. Recreate your experiment.”

“Don’t know what an experiment is, Uke, but see…” Bob used the bow string to rapidly rotate a stick and create fire.

“Oh hey, guys.” Average hunter-gatherer, Ted, who brings in a lot of food and keeps everyone alive entered the clearing. “Hey, fire. I got stuff to cook!”

“No, don’t use it.” The scientist-priest-overthinker tried to stop the average guy from cooking a few roots and a squirrel. “That isn’t normal fire. The wrong god was used to create it.”

Ted took a couple of bites. “Tastes just fine.”

“You sure you are okay.” The scientist watched Ted for reactions.

“Yep. Works just like normal fire.”

Bob smiled. “We can now make fire anywhere and not wait for a god to strike.”

“Cool beans. That could be useful.” Ted wandered off leaving some of the extra food behind for the big thinkers. They do a lot to make his life easier – the engineer had invented the bow and the scientist figured out how to leave enough roots behind so they can eat them year after year.

Uke looked at Bob, frowning. “You are going to make me figure this out, aren’t you?”

“If you want.” Bob responded. “Not sure why you need to figure it out though. What good is a structure of the universe?”

“Well, if we know what wood gods can create fire and when they can create fire, we can make it in the winter and summer. We know fire likes the fall, but is really hard to make in the winter and spring.”

“You think that the fire might be different later?”

“Well, when everything has been claimed by the rain gods, fire doesn’t start.”

“True.” Bob slung his bow across his back. “Tell you what, I will see if I can make fire next time it rains.”

“Yes, that is a good experiment.” Uke watched his friend walk away before dancing. “I get to figure out something new.”


Thousands of years later.

“What do you think?” The engineer, Bob, pointed at the large stone cathedral with no columns holding up the ceiling.

The scientist, Uke, blinked. “That should fall. Only caves can be open. Natural openings held by god’s hands”

“Yeah, well, I had been using arches to hold open doorways and thought, why not?”

Ted and his daughter, Tish, came up with a couple loaves of bread in a basket, “Cool beans, that is a big space. Can I use it to store grain?”

“I just built you a grinding wheel, why do you need a big place for grain?” Bob looked at the farmer-food provider.

“Well, with the grinding wheel, I can grind grain a lot faster, so I need more grain. A big open area would be great.”

Ted scratched the back of his head. “Yeah, well. I got this to work some of the time, but not all of the time. A couple of them have fallen. I was hoping Uke could figure it out.”

“I told you it couldn’t be done.” The scientist scrunched his brow. “Why did you do it?”

“What did you say?” Bob studied Uke for a moment. “I think I heard something wrong.”

“I told you it couldn’t be done.”

“Yeah, that is what I thought you said. ‘See if you can do it.’ Well, I did, but it works part of the time.”

“No, I said it couldn’t be done.”

The engineer shook his head. “I see lips moving, but the words are strange. Anyway, I need to see if I can make something for Ted here. I think I will call it a silo. You figure out the arch thing, okay?” He grabbed a loaf from Ted to better think and build.

Uke took the second loaf of bread offered by Ted and asked the everyday man, “Why does he always take ‘it can’t be done’ as a challenge to do it?”

Tish, a dreamer, spoke up. “I don’t know. Mom says it to dad and he reacts the same way. Maybe you should study human actions too.”

“Humans are created in god’s image, they don’t bend to scientific study.”

“Didn’t you tell me that the world is god’s creation? If we can study the world using the scientific method, and it was made by god, we should be able to study humans, made by god, the same way, right?”

The scientist blinked at the young questioner. “You may be right.” Uke went off and studied arches and humans, breaking up science into a variety of topics including the humanities.


Hundreds of years later.

“So, Uke.” Bob came up behind his scientist friend. “I made something in 1989. I call it an EmDrive.”

Uke jumped out of his skin. “Don’t do that!”

“Do what?” The engineer held up a big copper engine. “It works with microwaves bouncing around and provides propulsion without propellant.”

Uke rolled his eyes. “Why are you always doing this to me? I taught you the Conservation of Momentum. To move ahead, you got to have something pushing out the back.”

“Well, you told me you wanted to go to the stars, but it took too much propellant, so I am trying to figure out a way without the stuff.” Ted shot back.

“Well, fine. Just make a unicorn while you are at it.”

“No need for a unicorn, we got horses.” The engineer pointed out logically. “Anyway, I need you to look at the engine.” He handed it to the scientist. “It works.”

“It what?” The scientist stared down at the engine. “It can’t work. That would break quantum laws, and well, everything. I would need to rework everything.” He frowned, trying to hide the giddiness bubbling inside.

“Well, near as I can tell, it works.”

“Tell you what, let run this by Dr. White. He breaks everything. If he can’t break it, you might got something.” The scientist rotated the shiny object. “We will need to test it in vacuum because that is where we want to use it. You know outer space has a vacuum, right?”

“Yeah, I know, I just didn’t have the money to make a vacuum yet.” Bob groused.

Dr. White got back to the scientific community at the 50th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference in 2014. “I couldn’t break it, not even with vacuum.” (See Rodal, et al. in the Bibliography)


The engineer shook his head. There was always a catch.

“I got these eleven other possible things to look at.”

Uke, the scientist, shook his head. “I need Ted to give me money to run the tests.”

Ted, who was recovering from a long recession didn’t have much money and was getting annoyed by scientists with stuff like Climate Change, antivax  and other fake news, rocked back on his heels. “Before I give you money to figure out if it can’t work, tell me what I get out of it. Especially with you telling me it can’t work before you even begin testing.”

“Well, if it works, it will save money and effort getting to the stars. It will drop satellite weight to a third. It can make low Earth orbit stations like the International Space Station last longer as they can self-boost. If we get our act together, we can get to the moon in four days, Mars in less than four months, and Alpha Centauri in just shy of a century. It would be awesome because we wouldn’t need to calculate slingshots, and we could go anywhere in space without a lot of preplanning.”

“Yawn.” Ted waved a hand in front of his face. “You already said it can’t work. So let’s save a lot of time and money and just not worry about it, okay?”

“Hoverboards.” The engineer said.

“No, it can’t—“

Bob slapped a hand over Uke’s mouth, interrupting him.

“Hoverboards?” Ted perked up.

“Yep, hoverboards. We will need mature the technology and then miniaturize it, but hoverboards.” The engineer assured the money-man who provided food, shelter, and manufacturing to the engineer and scientist so long as the inventions were useful, or at least interesting to people.

“Cool beans, here is enough to feed about thirty people for a few years. You work on that.” Ted walked away after writing the check. “Oh, and I want to be able to get to Alpha Centauri in fifty years or less. If I send something there, I want to hear back before I die. Just saying.”

After Ted was safely out of the space exploration room, the engineer removed his hand from Uke’s face. Immediately the scientist hissed, “It can’t do hoverboards.”

“Actually I can make it work with miniaturization and maturity of technology.” Bob smiled at Uke. “Trust me.”


“I told you I could make computers smaller than a building, right?”

“It took several decades, but yes.”

“So get me the theory to work with. Prove this actually works, and I can get us hoverboards to make Ted happy, and you and I can continue to figure out new things to keep everyone looking up and out.”

“What if it doesn’t work?”

“Well, we are on, what, the third round of proofs?” The engineer shrugged. “I need to know what doesn’t work before I can figure out what does. It took me a while to get the lightbulb working. I will get us profusion in a small package somehow.”

Trish ran into the room, “Lasers!”

Bob and Uke turned to the new kid who constantly shouted out crazy ideas from science fiction and fantasy. “What?”

“I can levitate stuff with LIGHT!” Trish ran in circles around the room, showing off her new trick. (See Tangermann in the Bibliography) “You know light is an energy and a MATTER, right. So cool. You can use it to shove stuff. I might be able to push things to space really, really fast.”

“Like Alpha Centauri in less than fifty years?” asked the scientist.

Trish, the dreamer where money and science meet, jumped up and down. “Twenty!” (See Shankland in the Bibliography)

Uke and Bob looked at each other.

Uke said, “The science is actually sound and proven, we just need something that works.”

“Kid, we need to talk.” Bob started taking Trish from the room.

Uke yelled after him, “Keep working on that EmDrive too. The laser will only send small things to space. I want humans to get to Alpha Centauri as well.”



The EmDrive is nasty in that if it works, it will break a lot of scientific theories. Which in turn is kind-of fun, because having to figure out how things work. In the meantime, scientists and engineers are enthralled with inventing tests and test machinery to figure out why it works even a little in the first place. 

If the EmDrive works, it would be totally awesome!

And the laser drive already works, which is totally awesome!

Space, here we come!



Drake, Nadia. “NASA’s ‘Impossible Space Engine Tests-Here Are the Results.” 2018 May 22.  (Last viewed 2019 March 24 … seems removed as of 11/17/2022.)

Hambling, David. “Why DARPA Is Betting a Million Bucks on an ‘Impossible’ Space Drive.” 2018 November 2. (Last viewed 2019 March 24.)

PBS Space Time. “The EM Drive: Fact or Fantasy.” 2017 January 11. (Last viewed 2019 March 24.)

Rodal, Jose, Jeremiah Mullikin and Noel Muson. Subedited by Chris Gebhardt. “Evaluating NASA’s Futuristic EM Drive. 2015 April 29. (Last viewed 2019 March 24.)

Shankland, Stephen. “Are we alone? Tiny spacescraft will head to Alpha Centauri to find out.” 2018 August 27. (Last viewed 2019 March 24.)

Tangermann, Victor. “Researchers Found a Way to Levitate Objects Using Only Light.” 2019 March 19. (Last viewed 2019 March 24.)

Wikipedia. “RF resonant cavity thruster.” (Last viewed 2019 March 24.)

Author Spotlight: AJ Hartley

Amazon Cover

My publisher is ecstatic – we picked up A.J. Hartley for a short series his Big Press didn’t want to keep the rights to because it couldn’t sell the 100,000 copies they need to make money. Mr. Hartness became friends with the NY-times best-selling author on the convention circuit (remember writers, networking is a thing) and when Dr. Hartley mention a pet project of his that was available, John threw himself on that grenade to keep the Shakespearean professor from trunking his Will Hawthorne stories.

For his day job, A.J. Hartley is the Robinson Distinguished Professor of Shakespeare at UNC Charlotte. Which means he doesn’t just like literature, he breathes it.  Working with David Hewson, he recreated prose versions Macbeth and Hamlet. 

Well and truly bitten by the writing bug, he puts pen to paper for a variety of genres: thriller, fantasy, the previous mentioned historical fiction, and even some middle grade and young adult. He goes as far as to write additional works under a pseudonym of Andrew Hart. But nearly everything he does, including his literary non-fiction professor publications, are doen under A.J. Hartley.

His Steeplejack series is the “new thing” and worth a read, as is nearly everything this master of the English language produces.