Welcome to Book Chat with Julie! This month I have two recommendations for you that will keep you on the edge of your seat and reading long into the night.

My first recommendation is The Bachelor and the Bride by Sarah Eden. This is the fourth book in her Dread Penny Society series and while it can be read standalone, you really don’t want to miss a page of this series! This one really takes the suspense to the next level.

Dr. Barnabus Milligan has been part of the Dread Penny Society for many years, doing his best to rescue women and children from a life on the streets. Unbeknownst to his friends and colleagues, he married Gemma Kincaid three years ago to save her from her criminal family. Living together under the same roof didn’t last long, though, when Gemma realized she was in love with her new groom, but he didn’t return her feelings. She left, telling Barnabus if his feelings ever changed, to ask her to come back. Though his feelings haven’t changed, Barnabus needs her connections to figure out how to stop the crime wave rolling through the city. He asks her back and she reluctantly agrees to help. As they work on the case and get to know each other again, everything Barnabus once believed about his past, his future, and his feelings for Gemma becomes tangled the longer he’s with her. But before he can talk to her about any of it, danger finds them and the future he’s only beginning to see may be snatched away from them.

This is a fresh twist on a marriage of convenience story that will intrigue readers and keep them glued to the page. Gemma is a heroine you can root for as she tries to escape the past she was born into and navigate her future with a husband who doesn’t seem to feel anything for her beyond friendship. Gemma doesn’t let circumstances get her down, though, and her knack for finding friends and silver linings was endearing. Their journey to love is deftly intermixed with the couple’s search the The Mastiff, a criminal mastermind who is terrorizing London. Ms. Eden strikes the perfect balance of suspense and romance as the reader is immersed in the Dread Penny Society’s world of trying to make a difference for the poor and downtrodden, while staying ahead of the villain, and keeping their loved ones safe. The many layers to this series showcase Ms. Eden’s talents in writing powerful stories that draw readers in and doesn’t let them go until the final page. And the jaw-dropping ending to The Bachelor and the Bride will leave you wishing the next book was already out! Sarah Eden fans will not want to miss this one.

The second recommendation is Sinister Secrets, a novella collection from three suspense writers, Traci Hunter Abramson, Clair Poulson, and Paige Edwards.

The first short story is Secrets of St. Augustine by Traci Hunter Abramson. FBI agent Doug Valdez is doing a quick stop to investigate possible money laundering at a boarding school in France before he goes on vacation with his family. Something is terribly wrong at the school, but he doesn’t really get any leads—until he finds a thirteen-year-old girl hiding in the back of his car afraid for her life. Layla has overhead a plot to kill her because of a recent inheritance and Doug must protect not only her, but his wife and daughter as well. An action-packed suspense from the first page to the last.

The second story is Hounded by Clair M. Poulson.  Renn Huitt is an ex-Army Ranger starting fresh with a new job. His boss, Bob Lyman, has been receiving threatening notes and things have escalated. Renn must do whatever he can to keep his boss alive as well as help attorney Kimberly Cantor prove her young client is innocent of murder. There is a lot going on in this short story, but fans of true crime will enjoy the fast pace and detailed cases.

The third story is In Plain Sight by Paige Edward. Cody meets Jaclyn at a coffee shop before he reports to his new job with the FBI. He makes an impression on her, so when they meet at the Hostage Rescue training session later on, it’s inevitable that they should get to know each other better. But Cody is soon sent undercover with a drug cartel and Jaclyn accidentally gets caught up in the investigation and becomes a target. Cody races to protect her while bringing down a cartel and readers will be flying through the pages to see how it all ends!

Suspense fans will love this tension-filled collection that will keep you guessing until everything is finally revealed!

Behind the Scenes—A Chat with Sarah Eden

Sarah Eden is one of my favorite authors and I loved discussing books with her, especially her newest novel and what she has coming out soon! If you’d like to hear more of our chat, you can tune into my Book Chat with Julie podcast.

Here’s a little bit of what she had to say about The Bachelor and the Bride.

Julie: Barnabus and Gemma both have difficult backgrounds that influence how they see the world and how they see each other. Their love story is definitely a twist on a marriage of convenience and it was fascinating to see how they dealt with the emotions of the past in trying to make a future for themselves. What stands out to you about these two characters from an author’s perspective? Would you ever consider writing their prequel story?

Sarah: One thing that I love about these characters, but that was also a struggle, was that their failed marriage didn’t result in resentment or harsh feelings toward each other. I had to sort out what about them as people and the circumstances of their marriage would allow for that “heartbroken but amiable” connection after parting ways. I wanted it to ring true, to make sense for them to see each other that way despite all that happened. And I needed to sort out what it would take for them to finally have their happy connection without either having to wholly change who they were.

As to writing a prequel, I’m not certain I would. It doesn’t, after all, really end happily. I think readers would find it a bit of a let down to see these characters fail at building a life together and have the story end with both feeling let down and disappointed and lonely.

Julie: Is your central villain, The Mastiff, based on anyone?

Sarah: Not anyone specific. I read a lot about criminal masterminds of the Victorian Era, how they operated and what crimes they were involved in. And I spent a lot of time researching the behavior and motivations of this kind of criminal. The Mastiff grew out of all of that.

Julie: There are some truly breath-stealing moments in The Bachelor and the Bride. Without giving away any spoilers, which scene was your favorite to write? 

Sarah: I don’t know that I can answer that without spoilers. There were three scenes in particular that I loved writing, but all three of them are enormous spoilers. I will say this, one of those scenes required me to try my hand at a very odd sort of carpentry. 

Julie: The Bachelor and the Bride is the fourth book in the series. How many more books are planned?

Sarah: There will be five total, so one more!

Julie: When does your next book come out?

Sarah: My next release is “The Best Intentions,” set in the late 1810s amongst a group of best friends known to Society as “The Huntresses.” This is the beginning of a brand new series, and the story revolves around an ever-expanding house party, an inheritance that isn’t what it seems, and a desperately hidden secret. It will hit shelves on November 22nd.

Thank you so much for joining me for our book chat today. These books are just what you’ll need for a spine-tingling read this month!

The Bachelor and the Bride by Sarah Eden published by Covenant Communications, 304 pages, available in softcover, audio, and ebook.

Sinister Secrets by Traci Hunter Abramson, Clair Poulson, and Paige Edwards, published by Covenant Communications, 304 pages, available in softcover, audio, and ebook.

After winning $10 in a second-grade writing contest, Julie Coulter Bellon knew she wanted to be a published author someday. That dream came true and she is now the author of thirty books. She is also a podcast host for Authors Off the Page and Book Chat with Julie