Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Book Review: The Seamstress of New Orleans by Diane C McPhail


The year 1900 ushers in a new century and the promise of social change, and women rise together toward equality. Yet rules and restrictions remain, especially for women like Alice Butterworth, whose husband has abruptly disappeared. Desperate to make a living for herself and the child she carries, Alice leaves the bitter cold of Chicago far behind, offering sewing lessons at a New Orleans orphanage.

Constance Halstead, a young widow reeling with shock under the threat of her late husband’s gambling debts, has thrown herself into charitable work. Meeting Alice at the orphanage, she offers lodging in exchange for Alice’s help creating a gown for the Leap Year ball of Les Mysterieuses, the first all-female Krewe of Mardi Gras. During Leap Years, women have the rare opportunity to take control of their interactions with men and upend social conventions. Piece by piece, the breathtaking gown takes shape, becoming a symbol of strength for both women, reflecting their progress toward greater independence.

But Constance carries a burden that makes it impossible to feel truly free. Her husband, Benton, whose death remains a dangerous mystery, was deep in debt to the Black Hand, the vicious gangsters who controlled New Orleans’ notorious Storyville district. Benton’s death has not satisfied them. And as the Mardi Gras festivities reach their fruition, a secret emerges that will cement the bond between Alice and Constance even as it threatens the lives they’re building . . .


I love New Orleans, we are regular visitors to the city, so I was instantly intrigued by The Seamstress of New Orleans by Diane C McPhail. Not to mention that cover is so eye-catching and beautiful it makes you want to pick it up no matter what it was about.

I loved Diane C McPhail's writing, the story was well written and I enjoyed how she incorporated a mystery into the historical fiction, however being a fan of New Orleans, I was really hoping that the historical fiction part of the book was the major story and it really did not seem to be to me. The story spent most of its time on the mystery of the two men. Usually, I would have enjoyed that, I do love a good mystery, but in the case of this book, it did not work for me.

The two main characters were fantastically written as strong women who in the time of having a husband taking care of you, as a rule, showed strength in being able to do without one. 

The Seamstress of New Orleans was very well researched, the females are empowering and have a wonderful friendship. I only wish it had more on the lead-up of Mardi Gras, which the blurb spoke about, the glamour of the dresses that were being made, the female Krewes, and of course the magic that is New Orleans.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022




Gabby Allan’s second Santa Catalina Island-set mystery series with a rom-com twist, boat tour guide Whitney Dagner, her chunky cat Whiskers, and Whitney’s not-so-ex police diver boyfriend must lead a dangerous investigation into years of scandal and bad blood...

Take in the wild beauty of Santa Catalina Island with tour guide and eclectic gift shop owner Whitney Dagner. On the itinerary: dramatic Pacific coastlines, diverse marine life, and murder!

Since returning home from mainland California and finding her groove with the family tourism business, Whitney Dagner’s daily routine has become a wonderfully chaotic adventure. She and her nimble kitty, Whiskers, often find themselves at the center of the action on Catalina, from staged treasure hunts to gossipy birdwatchers. But before Whit can get too comfortable in the place where she grew up, a gift shop order leads to a stunning discovery—someone’s dead body . . .

One of Whit’s best boat tour clients, Leo Franklin was young and newly engaged when he unceremoniously took his own life. Only it doesn’t seem like that’s what really happened—not after the suspicious activity displayed by his family’s old rivals at the scene of his death. As a bitter, generations-long feud between Leo’s kin and the local Ahern clan comes to a head, Whit and her police diver not-so-ex-boyfriend must lead a dangerous investigation into years of scandal and bad blood to figure out who’s innocent . . .and who’s covering a killer’s tracks.


I adored Gabby Allan's Much Ado About Nauticaling so I was excited to get the chance to read her newest book Something Fishy This Way Comes.

The first thing I want to say is that I love her titles and their take on classics, but with that nautical twist. Also, her covers are so appealing with their bright colors that just scream summer, and I will admit, the cover cat Whiskers who I swear could be kin to my Marmalade they look so much alike!

Speaking of Whiskers, I think he or she ( I cannot for the life of me remember if the cat is male or female )  and Whitney make the cutest detective duo, they are both so fun.

Whitney again finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery, this time it involves a feud between two families.

I love the setting on Catalina, Gabby Allan makes it come to life for me and gives it such a cozy feel, and I was glad to be able to pay it another visit. She makes you want to call your travel agent and book you a room ASAP. I suggest you put it on your vacation bucket list because I have been there and loved it!

Allan writes colorful characters that really add to the store, doesn't matter if they are the main or the secondary characters, they are all vibrant and entertaining. In both books, my favorite is Goldie, Whitney's grandmother who adds excellent comedic parts to the story with her quirkiness.

A Little Note to first-time readers, this is the second book in the Whit and Whiskers Mystery Series, but you can totally pick it up today and read it without needing to read Much Ado About Nauticaling....but if you do, be sure to go back and read the first one because if you like Something Fishy This Way Comes you will love Much Ado!