#BookBlitz “The Eagle & the Lynx (Destined, Book 3)” by Michele James

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Destined, Book 3

Historical Fantasy Romance

Date Published: February 16, 2021

Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group

WE ARE OUR FUTURE

Alyssa asked Jerrik to marry her when she was eight-years-old. When he finally makes good on his promise to return when she’s old enough to wed, nothing could prepare her for what becoming his queen truly means.

Jerrik is haunted by a tortured past, and has done everything he can to avoid any ties to his parents’ mistakes. Life has other plans, and against his wishes, he agrees to assume the cursed throne that has taken the lives of his loved ones. Now a king, he must wed, and the only real choice is his best friend’s sister – the girl who has loved him since she was a child.

His bride has grown into a beautiful, tempting woman, and Jerrik succumbs willingly to her charms. But lies and betrayal surround them at every turn, and while she holds true, he makes the ultimate mistake, almost ruining an incandescent love.

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Other Books in the Destined Series:

The Lion & The Swan

Destined, Book 1

Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group

Published: January 2020

STAR CROSSED

A northern princess captured by pirates is sold into slavery and gifted as dowry to the cruel father of a prince betrothed to a woman he despises. So is the lot of Oona, the Swan, an exceptional singer and dancer, stolen from her father’s ship along with her sister, the Dove. Of all the horrors that awaits them, including training to be pleasure women for the brutal king, Oona never would have believed his son, Asad, the lion, Prince Black Mane of the Southern Great Valleys, would capture her heart. Any contact or familiarity between her and the prince with the glowing amber eyes, guarantees a flaying, if not death, and Oona, grief stricken over the prospect of never again seeing the prince for whom she has fallen, must get her sister home, or the delicate Dove will surely perish at the hands of the despicable king.

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The Stallion & The Tigress

Destined, Book 2

Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group

Published: September 2020

A BATTLE OF HEARTS

Bastard son of a king, Aleksandr has scrimped and saved to attend the races at King Asad’s City by the Sea. Nothing will stop Aleksi from returning home with a string of fine horses, a sizable purse of gold, and an easy tempered wife who will bear his children. What he finds is a spitting tigress with unparalleled beauty, a will of iron, and a mare she assures him will beat his stallion. She’s also the king’s pampered, spoiled daughter and is off limits. But that doesn’t seem to matter when passion burns so hot propriety is ignored and all the rules are broken.

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About the Author

Michele James lives in a southern California beach town with her understanding husband, two lazy house cats, and two crazy cattle dogs. She is the proud mother of two fully functional adults, and is Oma to the world’s most adorable grandson.

A mostly retired veterinarian technician, she enjoys reading everything from cereal boxes to serious tomes, watching movies without commercials, cooking, gardening, walks on the beach (especially in winter), and practicing yoga.

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#ReleaseBlitz “Love and War” by Shirrá Lynn

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BWWM Interracial Romance

Date Published: Feb 12, 2021

She’s a singer posing as a maid. He’s a surgeon forced to serve the Reich. For both of them, deception is the only way to survive the war.

Cocktail singer Victoire Duplanchier knows Nazi-occupied Paris is not safe for a black woman. But that’s exactly why she’s trying to get her family out. When she’s caught in a roundup, a man with ocean-blue eyes saves her from being sent to an unknown fate. But can she really trust him? He might seem kind and handsome, but he’s also a Nazi.

Surgeon, Emil von Konig, was duped into serving the Reich by his deceitful father. When he encounters Victoire, he knows he needs to keep her safe. He offers refuge at his estate in the Parisian countryside, but in order to stay undetected, she must pose as his maid.

Their new roles as maid and master find them in close confines. As their connection grows their passion is impossible to ignore.

While war rages on around them, Emil and Victoire believe they are safe. But danger is closer than ever. When the true nature of their relationship is discovered, everything will be at risk.

Is their love strong enough to conquer the forces that conspire against them?

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Excerpt

I sit up alert in my chair wondering what could be wrong. Herr von Konig seldom summons me, but I am on my feet and in the dining room within seconds. As I enter my heart flutters when his ocean blue eyes take me into their gaze.

Yes, Herr von Konig,” I furrow my brows, “Is everything alright? Was your breakfast not warm…the coffee?” He smirks, but with soft eyes.

No Victoire, everything is–was perfect, as usual,” he says to me in a calming tone, trying to reduce the anxiety he can see written on my face. It works. My brow relaxes as I look at him trying to slow my breathing to a normal rate.

Tonight, I have yet another event to attend in the city,” I swallow trying not to show my disappointment.

I understand Monsieur,” I nod once.

I have two surgeries today and will probably not make it back at a decent time to prepare, I would like it if you would assist me and layout my formal dress for me, pressed, and metals shined. I know it is much to ask of you among the other duties you carry out, but I–”

Non, Monsieur,” I stop him, “It is my pleasure to serve you.” I don’t know why I say those words. They seemed to fly from my lips on wings, and I couldn’t catch them to bring them back and scold them for being so eager to leave me…but I see a light flicker behind his eyes, almost ablaze.

Shall I teach you pleasure?” he asks.

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About the Author

Shirrá Lynn is a native of Washington, DC. A writer of Interracial Romance, she is also a hobbyist poet and floral designer. When she isn’t writing or snipping roses, she loves spending time with her family, especially her nieces and nephew. In college, during a critique session in a creative writing class, her professor described her writing style as ‘too colloquial’. Shirrá took this appraisal and used it as a catalyst to produce stories that are engaging, real and speak to the heart.

Love and War is her debut romance novel.

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#BookSale “Ashes From A Burning Corpse (An American True Crime Reporter in the 20th Century)” by Noel Hynd


On a hot rainy summer night in Nassau, the Bahamas, in 1943, someone murdered Sir Harry Oakes, one of the richest men in the world, as he slept. When police found him the next morning, there were four wounds to his skull. His corpse had been abused, covered ritualistically with feathers and set on fire. The murder was perverse, horrific and jaded by anyone’s standards.

A few evenings later in New York City, the phone rang in the home of Alan Hynd, identified in that era by the NY Times as America’s highest paid true crime reporter. The Oakes case would send the writer, with a quarter of a century of experience covering murders, to the Bahamas in wartime. He would try to bring truth to a case that was littered with a colorful cast of international characters and which, in its resolution, became unique in the annals of true crime.

Ashes From A Burning Corpse is the fictionalized story of that writer’s coverage of the case – and how it changed his life forever. It is also a literary and cultural journey into New York and the colonial Bahamas of the World War Two era, a story touching upon Hemingway, Sinatra and FDR, big-shot film and Broadway producers, crooked cops, gangsters and a murder trial so big that it knocked the world war off the front pages.

Welcome to what is also a literary journey into true crime, politics, book publishing and magazine work in the World War Two era, with allusions to writers from Edmond Pearson to Scott Fitzgerald. Ashes is part of a trilogy titled An American True Crime Reporter in the 20th Century, three cases which were the centerpieces of a veteran real-life crime reporter’s legacy. The trilogy will also include first person novels on the original Charles Ponzi swindling case, The Pied Piper of Boston and the Charles Lindbergh kidnapping case, The Crimes of The Century.

Noel Hynd is the author of more than a dozen novels, originally published by Doubleday, Dial, Bantam, Tor, Kensington, Zondervan/HarperCollins, and currently, his own imprint, Red Cat Tales LLC Publishing of Los Angeles, California.

He has sold more than 7 million books worldwide, including hardcover, trade paperback, mass market paperback, Literary Guild and digital editions. His best known titles in the espionage genre are Flowers From Berlin and Truman’s Spy. In the supernatural genre, his best known titles are Ghosts and Cemetery of Angeles.

Ingenious…Suspense fiction that stands out!New York Times

Noel Hynd knows the ins and outs of Washington’s agencies both public and private. – Publishers Weekly

A few notches above the Ludlums and Clancys of the world. – Booklist

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#PreOrder “The Colors Of Time: A Collection Of Poems” by Maya and Jello

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The Colors Of Time is a timeless masterpiece of Poetry that takes you on an epic journey through Time to our modern-day crisis. The US Review Of Books says, Eye opening and revealing, each piece offers the reader food for thought….. A read that is briskly paced and perfect for taking a break from the rest of the day for a moment of reflection…These poems are written for every reader… Readers of any age or background will be able to see themselves in some poems…. this is a thoroughly modern, relevant and necessary collection of experiences and artistic opinions that will offer the mind plenty of space to roam, discover, and play. Read the full review at:
http://www.theusreview.com/reviews/The-Colors-of-Time-by-Maya-and-Jello.html

Even if you do not have a taste for history you would enjoy traveling along the corridors of Time as Maya shares her thoughts in verse as she is inspired by a particular event or Era. These poems are masterful and are written with all the intrigue and heart that we have come to expect from Maya. This is by no means a history book. But after you have read The Colors of Time by Maya And Jello, you would be hard-pressed to deny a new appreciation and sense of empathy for the struggles endured by mankind through the Ages.

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#Featured “Unthinkable Sins: Book 1” by Tiffani Quarles-Sanders

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A family’s darkest secrets are about to be revealed.

Jerome Durham is an up-and-coming black politician who faces a dilemma when his elderly mother starts showing signs of dementia.

Until now, the family and friends of elderly Hattie Durham have known her to be a God-fearing, law abiding Christian woman. But as her aging mind starts to unravel, Hattie begins confessing to a litany of sins she’s committed throughout her lifetime. During several conversations, she tells stories that describe emotional incidents she went through in her life, unconsciously giving the reasons for the terrible things she did in her later years.

Jerome does not know if his mother’s confessional is driven by guilt or revenge, or just an unfortunate random consequence of her illness, but he’s not sure he can wait to find out. His career is at stake if she tells anyone how his own past mistakes are entwined with hers. Neither he nor his wife is about to let that happen.

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#BookBlitz “Speakeasy” by A.M. Dunnewin

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Suspense Thriller / Historical
Date Published: 12/21/2011
Publisher:  Dark Hour Press, LLC
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The novella is centered on Eddie Durante, owner of a speakeasy who’s supported by his mobster uncle—the boss of the Durante family. Eddie is a young widower after his family’s rival, the Caprice family, murdered his wife over a territory dispute. After devising a plan that retaliated against four of the rivaling capos, Eddie is left with the daunting task to try and move on. That is, until he’s notified that the Caprices have put a hit man in the speakeasy—and Eddie’s name is on the list. But things take an unexpected turn when Eddie instead starts to find the dead bodies of his relatives, the ones who had helped in the retaliation.
Behind the backdrop of jazz music and glistening flappers, murder after murder begins to unravel as revenge takes center stage, and Eddie soon learns that some secrets can’t be taken to the grave.

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Excerpt

Once the doors were closed, Sal didn’t take long to get right to the point. “They know it was you, Eddie.”

The words slapped him across the face, but Eddie didn’t respond.

“That you were the one who came up with the idea,” Sal continued. “They’re out for retaliation, and it’s rumored that they’ve sent a torpedo into this juice joint of yours. That’s part of the reason why I’m not being too open with the information. Afraid of who might be listening.”

A hit man in his speakeasy. Eddie stared out the windshield, watching Sal begin to light a cigarette out of the corner of his eye. “I had a lot of ideas,” he remarked hoarsely, fear and dread subtly mixing into his thoughts.

“Only took one,” Sal responded as he lit the cigarette. He silently offered one to Eddie, who refused with a shake of his head. “Sorry, kid,” Sal explained as he took a puff. “After what they did to your wife, I wouldn’t have blamed ya.”

Eddie remained silent, his eyes drifting to the bootleggers who were moving the last of the crates. No wonder they weren’t laying their eyes on him. He was a dead target.

Sal took another drag on his cigarette, taking a moment for himself. “Don’t worry, though,” he finally remarked. “Your family’s got your back. My brother-in-law, your dear uncle, has requested that Joe stay by your side until we can square away if there’s a torpedo and who it is.”

“What?” Eddie balked, shattering his calm exterior.

“It’s temporary,” Sal cooed, trying to calm the young man down. “He’s just some extra protection.”

Eddie gawked, unable to believe that they’d send Joe, of all people, to protect him. “He’s crazy,” was all Eddie could summarize when it came to his cousin.

“He’s happy,” Sal tried to smooth over.

Trigger happy,” Eddie corrected.

Sal shrugged his shoulders. “He gets the job done. And when the boss’ favorite nephew needs protection, the boss will only send the very best.”

“I don’t need protection,” Eddie fought back, trying not to raise his voice to the lunacy. “And even if I did, I have Anthony and Marcus in there—”

“Little orphan Anthony and Baby Marcus?” Sal choked, half laughing, half sputtering on the cigarette smoke. “Marcus is too naive, and Anthony,” but Sal had to chuckle first before he could continue. “Well, ya better just pray your killer isn’t a female.”

“Thanks for warning me,” Eddie begrudgingly admitted as he pulled the door handle…

 

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About the Author

A. M. Dunnewin grew up with a taste for mysteries and thrillers, inherited ever so lovingly from her family. An affiliate member of the Horror Writers Association, A. M.’s own stories cover a wide range of genres that tend to take a dark turn when least expected. With a B.A. in Psychology, she’s a gambler of words, obsessed with chai tea, and addicted to books – everything from classical literature to graphic novels. Other hobbies include art, history, music, equestrianism, and a good classic film. She currently dwells in Northern California.
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#Featured “The Temple of My Familiar (The Color Purple Collection Book 2)” by Alice Walker

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The Temple of My Familiar

by Alice Walker

Genre: Literary Fiction/Historical/African-American/

Cultural Heritage Fiction

1.99 at time of posting! LIMITED TIME ONLY!

The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Color Purple weaves a “glorious and iridescent” tapestry of interrelated lives in this New York Times bestseller (Library Journal).

In The Temple of My Familiar, Celie and Shug from The Color Purple subtly shadow the lives of dozens of characters, all dealing in some way with the legacy of the African experience in America. From recent African immigrants, to a woman who grew up in the mixed-race rainforest communities of South America, to Celie’s own granddaughter living in modern-day San Francisco, all must come to understand the brutal stories of their ancestors to come to terms with their own troubled lives.

As Walker follows these astonishing characters, she weaves a new mythology from old fables and history, a profoundly spiritual explanation for centuries of shared African-American experience.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Alice Walker including rare photos from the author’s personal collection.

The Temple of My Familiar is the 2nd book in the Color Purple Collection, which also includes The Color Purple and Possessing the Secret of Joy.

 

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#ReleaseBlitz “Say Goodbye and Goodnight” by Daniel Ruggerio

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Romance

Date Published: 6/11/20
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
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This is the love story to end all love story’s! 1977, the most tumultuous year in New York City’s history. In a place called Bensonhurst, a young Italian-American fighter named Anthony Marino meets his love in Romeo and Julie disco on 86th Street. Gia steals his heart away, and through tremendous trials and tribulations, their love survives. A modern Shakespearean tale that pulls on every heart string we possess.

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About the Author
Known worldwide as a celebrity chef, David Ruggerio’s life-story is one of redemption, sacrifice, and a new lease on life as an award-winning genre fiction writer.

Ruggerio rose to the position of top chef at the famous La Caravelle in New York by age 25. He went on to take command of Pierre Cardin’s New York outpost of Maxim’s de Paris, where he garnered three stars fromThe New York Times. In 1995, Robert Mondavi, the note vintner, named him one of the thirteen best young chefs in America.
With two acclaimed cookbooks under his belt, David Ruggerio became known as a “Super Chef” and was called for television guest spots that quickly became opportunities. He hosted the iconic TV showsRuggerio to Goon the Food Network, andLittle Italy with David Ruggerioon PBS. Throughout his outstanding career as a chef, Ruggerio cooked for five US Presidents.
Today, Ruggerio lives on the East Coast and spends his days writing mostly genre fiction.He is an Amazon bestselling author and the recipient of the Maxy Award for Best Horror 2019 for his debut horror novel,A Wistful Tale of Gods, Men and Monsters. His second book of fiction, Say Goodbye and Goodnight, releases June 2020.
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#CoverReveal “She Wears the Mask” by Shelly Stratton

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SHE WEARS THE MASK

BY SHELLY STRATTON

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No one can ever really know what lies behind the mask . . .

Gripping and moving, She Wears the Mask is a novel about two women from two very different worlds, both burdened with secrets from their pasts, who form an unexpected bond…

1950s Chicago: Angelique Bixby could be one of many fresh-faced sales girls working along the Magnificent Mile, but she’s unique. She’s a white woman married to a black man in 1950s Chicago, making her stand out among the tenements on the South Side where she lives. Despite the challenges the couple faces, they find comfort and strength in their love for one another. Angelique is content, as long as she has her Daniel by her side and their baby in her arms, until she loses them both—one to death and the other to dire circumstances.

1990s Washington, D.C.: Angelique Crofton is a woman of privilege. A rich, aging beauty and mother of a rising political star, she has learned to forget her tragic past. But now that she is facing her own mortality, she is finally ready to find the daughter she left behind, remember the young woman she once was, and unearth the bittersweet memories she had long ago buried.

Jasmine Stanley is an ambitious lawyer—the only black woman at her firm. She is too busy climbing the corporate ladder to deal with her troublesome family or their unresolved issues. Tasked with Angelique’s case, Jasmine doesn’t know what to make of her new client—an old debutante with seemingly too much time and money on her hands. Jasmine eagerly accepts the challenge though, hoping if she finds Angelique’s long-lost daughter, it will impress the firm’s partners. But she doesn’t count on the search challenging her mentally and emotionally. Nor does she expect to form a friendship with Angelique, who is much more like her than she realizes—because Jasmine is harboring secrets, too.

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EXCERPT

Chapter 1

 Angelique

 November 9, 1950

Chicago, Illinois

 

She will never get used to the sound of the “L” train.

Angelique realizes this for the umpteenth time as the train thunders above her and she ducks her head and clutches the collar of her wool coat in a white-knuckled grip with one hand. While crossing the street under the train tracks, she doesn’t look up—too frightened to witness its passage. She focuses her runny eyes instead on the puddles of melting snow where the halogen lights from bars and the late-night delicatessen glow. Her eyes then drift to the bundle in the basket she holds.

Hearing the steady click-clack of the train wheels, the seismic rattle of metal beams, and the whoosh of air as it passes will never become background noise to her, no matter how long she lives in the “Windy City” to some or “Chi-Town” to others—but it did for Daniel. He laughed at her the first time she cringed when the train passed their bedroom window.

“Look at you,” he drawled that first night they slept in their apartment. “It’s just a train, sugar. It can’t hurt you none.”

But what did Daniel know? Even though he’d grown up on the alfalfa fields of North Carolina with dirt under his nails and the sweet stench of manure in his nostrils, he’d been a city boy at heart. The “L” was practically a Mama’s lullaby, lulling him to sleep at night, while it became her torturer, yanking her awake every time her eyelids would drift closed.

When she did sleep, the train would haunt her dreams—those hungry steel wheels gnashing at the tracks, sending up sparks into the dark night. Her mind’s eye would see the train barreling at high speeds over Logan Square, Hyde Park, and Chinatown, like it was searching for her, leaving quaking windows in its wake.

She dreamed of standing with other commuters waiting to head Uptown, only to have someone accidentally shove her. She’d go tumbling off the platform, onto the train track, and get hit by the “L,” yelling for help as she watched it approach. She dreamed of Daniel riding on his way to work at the stockyards, and one of the train cars would derail and go careening to the busy street twenty feet below. She would wake up screaming, and Daniel would wrap her in his strong arms, pull her close, and let her tremble in his embrace.

After a while, she started to sleep with a pillow over her head to finally get some rest, hoping to drown out the sound of the train at night. Unfortunately, it also drowned out their baby’s cries. Daniel had to shake her awake and tug the pillow from her head a few times.

“She’s hungry, sugar,” he would say, bringing their baby girl to her.

She would turn onto her back, prop the pillow behind her, tiredly undo the ribbons of her night gown, and lower the infant to her tender breast, yawning and staring out the window at the passing of the “L” as she nursed.

Ultimately, Daniel would be proven right. It wasn’t the train she should’ve feared, but the street car. That’s what took her man away in the end. The sound of the trolley bell would be the harbinger of death for him, not the screech of train wheels.

She gives a bleak, dark chuckle at the irony as the “L” finally . . . mercifully passes overhead, leaving behind the distant sound of rattling metal and fluttering newspapers. She can hear her baby girl, Emma Jean, crying now and see her squirming in the basket at her side, making it hard not to drop the basket and the baby from her sore fingers. She holds fast though, and continues to walk in the cold and through the melting snow. Her leather shoes—one of her few remaining pairs—are covered in rubber booties, but the booties have holes in them. The shoes are now damp and she suspects her feet are starting to freeze. Her toes are stinging like they’re being poked by tiny needles. She wonders if she will develop gangrene, but she doesn’t stop to check her feet. She’s already walked this far. May as well keep going.

“Hey, lady! What you doin’ out here with that baby?” a voice slurs, startling her and making her pause for the first time.

Angelique turns to her right to find a figure lurking in a doorway. An old Negro man with weathered skin stumbles out of the shadows like someone has given him a hard shove. He clutches a half pint of Old Forrester in his dirty hand. He’s wearing several layers of clothing, all of which are either shredded, riddled with holes, or covered with stains. The rank smell of alcohol, body odor, and urine drifts from him like an atomic cloud. He narrows his bloodshot eyes at her.

She stares back at him, tugging the basket close to her side, but she doesn’t respond. She turns back around and starts walking again.

“Cain’t you hear that baby cryin’?” he shouts drunkenly after her and she starts to walk faster. “Shouldn’t be out here in the cold with no baby no way! Take it inside!”

When she nears the end of the block, she is almost at a run, jostling the infant in the basket and making her cry louder.

“Crazy cracker wench!” his voice howls against the growing wind.

Angelique is finally a block away. She stops at an empty wooden bench to regain her breath. She sets the wicker basket on the bench, sits beside it, and takes out Emma Jean. She holds her against her chest, cooing to her and rocking her softly. Emma Jean is no more than a little round face engulfed in blankets under the street light. Big brown, watery eyes gaze up at her. After a few minutes, the wails quail to whimpers and the whimpers die down to hiccups. Emma Jean’s eyes close. Long dark lashes like her daddy’s sweep her cheeks. Eventually, Emma Jean quiets, asleep again.

This is when Angelique begins to lose her nerve, feeling the familiar warmth of her baby girl against her body, seeing Emma Jean slumber so blissfully in her arms.

Her vision begins to blur as the tears well. She sniffs and a nose that was already chapped red from the chill and the wind, becomes even redder.

“I can’t do this. I can’t do this,” she whimpers, shakily rising to her feet, leaving the basket on the bench. She lurches back toward the corner with Emma Jean, and sees the outline of the drunken bum leaning against a brick wall, watching her from a distance like a specter in the dark.

Seeing him again, she suddenly remembers the empty shelves in the kitchenette cabinets back at her apartment and the icebox filled with one block of cheese and a bottle of milk that is about to go bad. She remembers the “Rent Due” notice tacked to her front door. And she remembers that she can’t return to her plush sales girl job thanks to Mr. Mullan. She probably will never be able to show her face, let alone work anywhere at the posh stores on State Street again. Odd jobs at night clubs and seedy bars won’t keep her and Emma Jean from starving. She could very well find herself on the street like that bum. She must move on and start all over again, but her baby girl will not be able to move on with her. Emma Jean does not fit into her life anymore. Not after the mess she’s made of it. That is why she is here to procure her daughter a new life—a better one.

She lowers the infant back into the basket, nestling her in the soft blankets, careful not to wake her again. She adjusts the envelope beside the baby, the one containing a note, a picture of Daniel, looking dapper in his Army uniform, and a lock of her own hair.

Angelique blinks through her tears and starts walking again, continuing to her destination.

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ABOUT SHELLY STRATTON

Shelly Stratton is the penname an award-nominated author who has published almost a dozen books under another pseudonym.

She is married and lives in Maryland with her husband and their daughter. Visit her at her web site http://www.shellystrattonbooks.com to learn more about her work.

CONNECT WITH SHELLY

AUTHOR SITE | FACEBOOKTWITTER | INSTAGRAMAMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

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#BookTour “The Black Cabinet” by Jill Watts

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THE BLACK CABINET: THE UNTOLD STORY OF AFRICAN AMERICANS AND POLITICS DURING THE AGE OF ROOSEVELT

BY JILL WATTS

“A unique and enlightening portrait . . . [The Black Cabinet] is a groundbreaking reappraisal of an unheralded chapter in the battle for civil rights.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Drawing on government documents, newspapers, and an extensive number of archives, historian Watts vividly recounts an important chapter in black American history.” Kirkus Reviews

“A compelling and moving account of their struggle to secure civil rights for black Americans, The Black Cabinet, brings to life hidden figures whose contributions were systematically erased from the record.” Goodreads, Best New Books to Read this Spring

“A well-researched, urgent, and necessary history of black folks during the New Deal that excavates the too often ignored history of black female genius behind racial progress.” —Michael Eric Dyson, New York Times bestselling author

“My great-uncle Frank Horne, a poet, a doctor and an educator, was a member of FDR’s so-called ‘Black Cabinet.’ For the first time, this fascinating new book tells the whole story of the victories and defeats of these brilliant black New Dealers and the dynamic, charismatic black woman, Mary McLeod Bethune, who was their leader.”—Gail Lumet Buckley, author of The Black Calhouns: From Civil War to Civil Rights with One African American Family

Offering a compelling history of the evolution, impact, and ultimate demise of a New-Deal-era hidden “cabinet” to Franklin Delano Roosevelt on racial affairs, historian Jill Watt’s THE BLACK CABINET: The Untold Story of African Americans and Politics During the Age of Roosevelt illuminates the progress of black citizenship between Reconstruction and the modern Civil Rights movement.

In 1932 in the midst of the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt won the presidency with the help of key African American defectors from the Republican Party. At the time, most African Americans lived in poverty, denied citizenship rights and terrorized by white violence. As the New Deal began, a “black Brain Trust” joined the administration and began documenting and addressing the economic hardship and systemic inequalities African Americans faced. They became known as the Black Cabinet, but the environment they faced was reluctant, often hostile, to change.

“Will the New Deal be a square deal for the Negro?” The black press wondered. The Black Cabinet set out to devise solutions to the widespread exclusion of black people from its programs, whether by inventing tools to measure discrimination or by calling attention to the administration’s failures. Led by Mary McLeod Bethune, an educator and friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, they were instrumental to Roosevelt’s continued success with black voters. Operating mostly behind the scenes, they helped push Roosevelt to sign an executive order that outlawed discrimination in the defense industry. They saw victories—jobs and collective agriculture programs that lifted many from poverty—and defeats—the bulldozing of black neighborhoods to build public housing reserved only for whites; Roosevelt’s refusal to get behind federal anti-lynching legislation. The Black Cabinet never won official recognition from the president, and with his death, it disappeared from view. But it had changed history. Eventually, one of its members would go on to be the first African American cabinet secretary; another, the first African American federal judge and mentor to Thurgood Marshall.

Masterfully researched and dramatically told, THE BLACK CABINET brings to life a forgotten generation of leaders who fought post-Reconstruction racial apartheid and whose work served as a bridge that Civil Rights activists traveled to achieve the victories of the 1950s and ’60s.

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The Black Cabinet is the first ever account of how African American appointees in the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt came together to form a unofficial advisory group that became known as the “Black Cabinet.”  It uncovers the story of a lost generation of African American federal appointees who provided a bridge between black leaders of the early twentieth century and the post-WWII Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King.  The Black Cabinet members were the “hidden figures” of the New Deal and WWII era who pushed not only for African American rights but for the fulfillment and expansion of the promise of democracy to all Americans.

Why was the Black Cabinet so important? Black Cabinet members fought for the inclusion of African Americans in New Deal programs designed to help the nation recover from the Great Depression, and for equal opportunities in the military and in the defense industry during WWII. They played a key role in rescuing the nation from the Great Depression. They were able to compel the government to introduce the first anti-discrimination clauses into federal contracts, and win jobs, agricultural, and educational assistance for African Americans and other citizens suffering from marginalization and impoverishment. They proposed universal health care, fought for public housing, successfully challenged segregation in the federal workplace, and campaigned against lynching. They paved the way for African Americans to shift their allegiance from the Republicans to the Democrats. They campaigned for better treatment of African Americans in the military including the celebrated Tuskegee Airmen.

Why haven’t we heard of the Black Cabinet?  Because they were an unofficial group and they often worked clandestinely. They faced enormous resistance and hostility from within the federal government and confronted a President who fretted that supporting black needs would alienate the powerful white southern wing of the Democratic party. When Black Cabinet members couldn’t get results internally, they turned to the African American press and black leaders to further their causes. Often, they covertly opposed policies put forward by the administration or by Congress and, as a couple of Black Cabinet members later remember, regularly feared for their jobs.

Who were the leaders of the Black Cabinet?

  • The dynamic and indominable Mary McLeod Bethune:  Born to a sharecropping family, her parents had been enslaved.  She rose to become the founder of Bethune-Cookman College, a leader in the black women’s club movement, and, with her appointment in the New Deal, the first African American woman to head up a federal program. She took the reins of the Black Cabinet in 1936 and drove the group ahead in their battles for equality refusing to accept no as an answer from anyone, including the President.

  • The young and brilliant Robert Weaver: A member of Washington, D.C.’s black elite, he attended Harvard University where he became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in economics.  Recruited early in the New Deal for his statistically compelling studies showing how the New Deal was actually hurting black Americans, Weaver continually argued that if any group was left behind economically, then the nation would never fully recover from economic crises. He would become the “brains” behind the Black Cabinet.”

  • Black Cabinet Pillars: Crusading newspaper editor, Robert Vann, a former Republican who led the defection of African Americans from the GOP and was appointed in the Justice Department; Alfred Edgar Smith, a scrappy Arkansan who grew up poor and rose to head one of the New Deal’s largest black jobs programs; Bill Hastie, boyhood friend of Robert Weaver and graduate of Harvard Law School who became the first African American federal judge; and Lucia Mae Pitts who became the first African American woman to serve as a secretary to a white federal administrator.

Who were the Black Cabinet’s main allies? 

  • Eleanor Roosevelt: The First Lady shared a deep friendship with Mary McLeod Bethune and she provided The Black Cabinet with access to the President. Outside of Bethune, none of the other Black Cabinet members met with FDR.  But Eleanor Roosevelt endeavored to get their requests to the President, even if it meant leaving a note on his nightstand.

  • The White House Domestic Staff:  In particular, Elizabeth and Irvin McDuffie who respectively served as FDR’s maid and valet.  They often conveyed Black Cabinet messages and needs of the African American people directly to the President.

  • African American Leaders including the NAACP’s Walter White and union head A. Philip Randolph: The Black Cabinet looked to the NAACP to pressure FDR from the outside.   Several Black Cabinet members supported Randolph’s call for a March on Washington in 1941.  The March was postponed after FDR signed an order outlawing discrimination in defense employment (E.O 8802) but it was later revived and carried out by Randolph and Martin Luther King in 1963.

  • The African American Press:  Several members of the Black Cabinet had worked in journalism before joining the Roosevelt administration and collaborated with the black press through leaks and by providing information to black reporters.

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ABOUT JILL WATTSJill Watts

Jill Watts is a Professor of History at California State University San Marcos where she teaches United States Social and Cultural History, African American History, Film History, and Digital History. In addition to her forthcoming book The Black Cabinet: The Untold Story of African Americans and Politics During the Age of Roosevelt, Professor Watts is also the author of Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood; Mae West: An Icon in Black and White; and God, Harlem USA: The Father Divine Story. Her books on Hattie McDaniel and Father Divine have been optioned for film.

Professor Watts was raised in her father’s hometown of San Diego and grew up in the neighborhoods of Emerald Hills and Southeast San Diego. After earning a B.A. in History from UCSD, Professor Watts received an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California Los Angeles. Before returning to San Diego County to teach at California State University San Marcos, she taught at UCLA, Weber State University, Cornell University, and Santa Monica College. She was a fellow at Cornell University’s Society for the Humanities and, in 2017, was selected as a Brakebill Distinguished Professor at California State University San Marcos. She has served as the History Department’s Chair, the coordinator of the History Graduate Program, the program director of Film Studies, and the co-director of Women’s Studies.

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