book review, history, review, television

The Bonfire of Destiny

Hello, everyone! It’s freezing here in New Jersey, which means it’s time to binge read and watch until I can go outside without 64 layers on. So between my usual book reviews, I’ll be sharing shows I think you should be watching. And if it’s based on true events, I’ll give you the real deal.

The first show? The Bonfire of Destiny.

Genre: Historical Drama

Where to Watch: Netflix

In 1897 Paris, the aristocracy has descended on an annual charity bazaar to see the moving picture show, shop with all their wealthy friends, and generally be seen. It’s just one of the many social functions for the French elite who have no idea, tragedy will strike.

Adrienne is the unhappy wife of a politician who mistreats her terribly. Although he has just sent their daughter away to boarding school to punish Adrienne, she must still make an appearance at the bazaar. As soon as she shows her face, she slips back outside and into a waiting carriage, safe from the impending flames. But she’s not free from danger.

Alice, Adrienne’s niece, is thrilled to go out on the town with her maid Rose, both to do some shopping and to see a man she’s had her eye on. Wide eyed and wealthy, she’s has a good heart and doesn’t expect one small fire to destroy everything. And as those around her being sifting through the rubble, she sees everything in a new light.

Rose the maid is gearing up to sail to a new life with her husband Jean. She’s fiercely dedicated to Alice, and even goes back into the building to se if she can save her mistress before the fire gets out of hand. She enters the bazaar a nobody, and like a Phoenix, rises from the ashes.

The mood is electric and stories are intertwined as a fire both destroys lives and gives the chance for new ones. As the show goes on, murder, intrigue, and secret affairs are revealed with death in the background.

Even if historical shows aren’t usually your deal, the soapy dramas and lovable, and hatable, characters pull you in. The voiceovers are immaculate, and every episode leaves you wondering when the other shoe will drop.


Onto the facts! Starting in 1885, the Catholic aristocracy of Paris held the annual charity bazaar. It was a chance for the wealthy women and their maids to socialize while giving back to a good cause. But in 1897, everything would literally come crashing down.

The bazaar that year was held in a wooden building, where the inside was transformed into a medieval Paris street with the use of wood, papier-mâché, canvas for a roof, and other various other flammable things. Scheduled to last for four days, it was expected to be a hit.

More than 1,500 people were in attendance on the second day of the bazaar. Even Americans and other Europeans came to see the sites. One of the most notable was Duchess Sophie, the sister of Empress Elisabeth of Austria. At around four thirty, the projector in the small cinema caught on fire. The fire burned hot and fast, rapidly engulfing the building in flames and setting the cloth ceiling alight.

There were several exits, but none of them were clearly marked, and some were hidden behind the decorations. Many ran for the main doors, which were soon clogged with people. There were men in attendance, who were faster and stronger than the women, who struggled to move quickly in their mass of skirts. There were reports of men pushing women and children out of the way to escape first.

This was before the idea of modern fire safety. There was a fire brigade, but no contemporary hydrants or way for them to really put out the flames. People escaped though some of the exits, though many of the doors opened inwards and jammed when frantic people pushed against them. Those outside broke out windows to help people climb to the streets. Most notably, the cook and manager of the Hotel du Palais broke bars off a window and saved over 150 women while also poring water down on the flaming bazaar from the hotel.

But the fire moved quickly and soon it became too risky to try to save anyone else. People, mostly women, were still trapped inside. Their skirts were flammable, many had been trampled, and the walls and ceiling were beginning to fall. The fireman continued to spray the building as those inside screamed until the only sound that was left was the crackle of fire.

In the end, 126 people were confirmed dead while around 200 were injured. Many were so badly burned, they could only be identified by their jewelry. Some dentists were even called on to identify their patients by their teeth, one of the first uses of dental records in the identification of a body.

The aristocracy, and the Parisians at large, we’re shocked and demanded both an explanation and justice. In the end, it was officially noted to be an accident. But the public still wanted someone to answer for the tragedy.

The President of the Charity Bazaar Committee Ange-Ferdinand-Armand, the Baron of Mackau was the first. His charge was negligence, as he didn’t hire enough staff or ensure the doors were clearly marked. Then came the cinema operator Victor Bailac and his assistant Gregoire Bagrachow. Apparently, the light for the projector went out and the cinema staff had to hurry to relight the small flame. But in their haste, a mistake was made as the match they used lit the ether gasses that surrounded them. Soon, the drapery caught fire and the damage was done.

In the end, all charged were set to pay fines, and Bailac and Bagrachow were sentenced to short prison terms. Items found in the bazaar’s rubble were auctioned off and the lessons learned from the tragedy resulted in better fire safety laws in France.


I hope you enjoyed this little look into The Bonfire of Destiny. Check back soon for similar posts on shows like Vikings, You, Daybreakers, Banished, and more.

New Book

The Power of Witches

Noa Rembrandt was found in a dumpster. 

Since then, she’s been wanting only one thing in life: to find a loving family to take her in or successfully age out of the foster system. She thought she’d found her family, until after her eighth birthday, her younger foster brother died under suspicious circumstances—circumstances Noa might have had a part in.

Now at sixteen and with no where else to go, Noa Rembrandt is sent to Gardenside County Home for Troubled Youth. With a countdown to her eighteenth birthday, Noa is determined to keep her head down and not cause any trouble.

Trouble instead finds her, in the form of her eccentric roommate and cute boy across the hall who both seem to know more about Noa’s background than she does.

Preorder The Power of Witches now HERE!


Shay Bencosme is a 22 Navy servicemember who writes and photographs in her spare time. She currently lives in North Carolina, USA with her husband, Josh, and their kitten, Lucy.

Shay has always had aspirations of being a writer and just decided to go for it one day, finishing her debut novel is less than 3 months. Since choosing self-publishing, she’s loved every step of her journey through the indie world.

book review

Twenties Girl

It’s the ’20s again, and for the first review of the year, I’d like to talk about Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella.

  • Genre: Romantic Comedy/Chick Lit
  • Heat Level: ❤️❤️
  • Overall Rating: 5/6 Glass Slippers

Lara is adrift in the world when she’s forced to go to her estranged Great Aunt Sadie’s funeral. She barely knew Sadie existed, as her father and rich, coffee baron uncle never really brought her up. But as Lara sits in the nearly empty funeral home, a slim, chic, upset young woman yells, “Where’s my necklace?”

Lara soon learns she’s the only one who can see Sadie’s ghost. Sadie appears as she did in the 1920’s, glamorous and blunt with a smart mouth and a missing dragonfly necklace, and she won’t rest until Lara finds her favorite jewelry. And no one is louder or pushier than Sadie.

She needs to save her failing business, reclaim the love of her ex boyfriend, and stop Sadie from using her shrill scream to persuade people to do her bidding…including having an American man go on a date with Lara so Sadie can live vicariously through her. From vintage shops and police stations to the London Portrait Gallery and backstage at a fashion show, Lara will do whatever it takes to help her new favorite aunt.

I’m a big Sophie Kinsella fan and always love the lighthearted stories she tells. I was skeptical of the paranormal aspect, as the only time I read ghost stories are when murder and horror are general themes. But Sadie is both a phantom and a real character with real feelings.

The romance in the story took a backseat to the relationship between Lara and Sadie. Their growing bond has highs and lows speckled with hilarious moments. I also enjoyed the small bits of flapper lifestyle like the makeup routine and how to do the Charleston dance.

Overall, Twenties Girl is a charming, witty take on chick lit and what it means to have a guardian angel.

New Book, sale

Royally Abandoned Sale

Happy holidays everyone!

We’re had such a fun year so far as friends and writers. Sarah’s been busy with her recent move to Virginia and her job in personnel security. Kelsey’s still working for the nonprofit and her daughter started kindergarten.

We’ve been to New York City for dinner with Tule Publishing, went to Hallmark’s first Christmas Con, and had some of our books pitched to film directors. Between late night phone calls, constant rewrites, and brainstorming sessions, we’ve also began more writing projects we hope to share more about soon.

We’re thrilled to say we’ve set up a special holiday sale to round out the year where Royally Abandoned will be on sale for only $0.99 from now until December 26th!

A seat on the throne or a place in her heart?

Greyson Montgomerydreams of a simple life, but as the crown prince of Aldora, simple is not in his future. Before ascending the throne on Christmas Eve, Greyson is given one month to explore how the other half lives. Armed with a few hundred dollars and a fake backstory, Greyson flies to Savannah, Georgia, to see if he has what it takes to chase the American Dream.

Scarlett Calhoun is a Southern Belle with a heart as big as a Georgia peach. When she meets the charming construction worker, Greyson, it isn’t long before she is embracing the holiday cheer. Soon, she’s teaching him how to cook, falling for his exotic accent and soulful eyes, and joining him on picnic lunches where they talk for hours.

With Christmas Eve nearing, Greyson must fly back to Aldora and either abdicate the throne, or take his rightful place as king. Will he ignore his birthright to remain with Scarlett or will she be royally abandoned?

This book is available for only $0.99 on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Google Play HERE!PS. Royally Abandoned is up for a Swoony Award in the Christmas Romance and Royal/Celebrity Romance! If you’d like to vote, click HERE and type in the title and our names.

Book Lists

Marietta Bound

Hello everyone!

While Sarah and I are working on some fun, new projects together and some solo books, I have some exciting news! Next year, I’ll be publishing a series of steamy, contemporary romances set in the fictional town of Marietta, Montana.

What makes the cozy, mining town full of cowboys unique is that it was created by Tule Publishing. Featuring a solid roadmap of businesses and landmarks, authors insert their own characters to bring Marietta to life. At the moment, I’m busy writing my own love stories in Marietta, so for now, here’s just a few of the books set in the town, from steamy rodeo romances to sweet holiday tales.

When Rachel inherits a bookstore in Marietta, she doesn’t think small town life would be for her. Texas born Atticus wants to expand his empire, starting with Marietta. Find out what happens during their first white Christmas HERE.

The Love in Montana Series features a cast of crossover characters from firemen to baseball stars, and can be read as individual standalones, or as a series. Start reading today HERE.

Christmas at Sleigh Bell farm is a sweet, holiday romance, perfect for Christmas. Order your copy HERE.

Love blooms in the Copper Mountain Chocolate Shop for three lucky couples. Date your sweet tooth HERE.

The Doctor’s Christmas Proposal follows Dr. Wyatt as he nurses his broken heart with the help of his best friend Mia. This steamy, second chance romance is available HERE.

The Zabrinski family are a tight knit clan of locals with big hearts and big stories to tell. Begin with book one of the Big Sky Mavericks series HERE.

In The Patolays of Montana series, Marietta locals find romance. Or more like romance finds them and refuses to let go. Begin reading HERE.

The Wildflower Ranch series is a sweet collection of stories about old fashioned cowboys and girls meeting their matches. Order your copy HERE.

Collie’s in Marietta to escape from a failed engagement. Michael’s tasked with getting the engagement ring back from Collie and going back to Chicago. But a simple task gets more complicated when sparks fly. Order your copy HERE.

The Frontier Montana series is a collection of steamy Historicals set in the early years of Marietta when cowboys reigned supreme. Begin reading HERE.

The Big Sky Hathaways series consists of two sweet, Christmas romances. One is already a fabulous Hallmark Channel movie you just might have seen! Order your copies HERE.

The Scot’s Montana Bride follows a Scottish man as he crosses an ocean to convince a cowgirl he’s the one for her. Start reading today HERE.

The Hanson Brothers series follows a trio of brothers as they search for love. This series is available HERE.

The Watson Brothers is a series that gives the mail order spouse theme a refreshing twist. Pick up your copies HERE.

A small town sweetheart and a bad boy turned big city tycoon cross paths once again in Falling for the Hometown Girl. Snag this second chance romance HERE.

Christmas Lights and Cowboy Nights follows Rosa, who’s looking for Mr. Right and Calvin, who’s looking for Miss Right Now. Find out if they can find some middle ground HERE.

The Bar V5 Ranch is the last place these five couples think they’ll find love. But romance blossoms in the most unlikely of places. Start reading this series HERE.

Scotswoman Emma’s been left at the alter. Ex football star Mitch wasn’t prepared for his Christmas to get all shook up. Meet them under the mistletoe HERE.

Bridal salon owner Lisa is poised to help make a celebrity wedding a success. Dr. Adam is enjoying his role as Marietta’s newest doctor. Wedding fever’s hit the town. Find the cure HERE.


There are dozens of other Marietta books and fun facts at the Tule website HERE. Small towns don’t mean small romance, and Marietta never disappoints. Happy reading!

book review

The Betrayed

Every time Irina Shapiro releases a new book, I wonder if it’ll have a happy ending. Will the couple who left only bones behind actually end up together? Will Quinn unlock her own past, which seems more unlikely with each page? In a collection of books that never get old, I’m always left with questions that never have easy answers.

Introducing The Betrayed, Echoes From the Past book seven by Irina Shapiro.

As always, I will try to avoid spoilers, but since this is the 7th book in the series, some things will slip through the cracks. Want to avoid that? Start with book one today, The Lovers. Trust me.

  • Heat Level: ❤️❤️
  • Genre: Historical and Contemporary Fiction
  • Overall Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

In 2005, Dr. Quinn Allenby unearthed a crucified skeleton in Ireland. Among the bones and dirt is a hamsa charm, a protective amulet often often used by Muslims. She can’t figure out how a Muslim would have found his way to Ireland and what led to the crucifixion.

In 1588, the Spanish Armada ship Rafael de Silva was sailing on crashes on the rocky coasts of Ireland. With limited English, a hidden hamsa, and wounded comrades, he’s trapped in hostile territory with no way home. And as the Protestant English forces progress into Catholic Ireland, protecting his identity becomes more vital than ever.

While trying to learn more about Rafael, Quinn is mired in mysteries in the present day as well. Her long lost sister isn’t lost anymore, not physically at least. But as Quinn pushes to get closer to Jo, Jo begins to run before her own past catches up to her. The secrets never end for poor Quinn, although she’ll do anything to set things right.

As always, I need a breather after each of Shapiro’s books. Not since Outlander has a series so completely set the bar for what a good book is. Each installment is so deliciously dark, but still makes you hope for just once, things won’t be as bad as Quinn’s skeletons make them out to be.

Quinn is completely lovable. Kind, selfless, and always eager to see the best in people, she’s never prepared for those close to her to betray her. Every book, I root for things in her life to go east on her, just once, and things always seem to just fall apart in both the past and present.

Overall, I suggest this book in ebook and audio format to all book lovers.

book review

Falling for Cowboys

It’s getting chilly in New Jersey, so soon I’ll be sticking inside and starting on my massive TBR list. Today, I’d like to share seven cowboy romances so you can add to your lists too!

Coming Home to the Cowboy by Megan RyderChampion bull rider Chase has a background that’s kept him constantly pushing people away. With his dude ranch failing, he’ll have to do the one thing he hates the most…ask for help. Accountant and small business advisor Hailey can turn any business into a gold mine. But when she’s called to fix the ranch of the one man she can’t stand to see, her job will get more difficult than she ever imagined.

Midnight Ride by Kat Johnson

Ranch hand Tyler isn’t a one woman kind of guy. Young, single, and ready to mingle, he’s only looking for a good time. Widowed rancher Janie is ready to get back into the dating scene, but none of the men she meets ignites a spark within her. When the younger ranch hand next door crosses her path, she’ll have to re-evaluate what kind of guy she needs.

Reckless in Texas by Keri Lynn Dell

Rodeo owner Violet is trying to run her family business, co-parent her son, and keep her life in order. Bullfighter Joe didn’t mean to get in trouble or end up in his old small town. In front of a crowd, they put on one hell of the show, but behind closed doors, things are much more complicated.

Corralled by Lorelei James

Sports therapist Lainie has seen and heard it all as she travels the rodeo circuit. She’s immune to cowboy charm until two different men make her reconsider her rules against riders. Both Hank and Kyle want to be her one and only, so she’ll have to choose fast before she loses them both forever.

Second Chance Cowboy by A.J. Pine

Jack is back home on the family land after ten years. He thinks it’s only for his father’s funeral, but now he has to take charge of his inheritance. Ava has a secret she’s been holding on to for ten years, one Jack has a right to know. When Jack comes back into town, old wounds will reopen.

Trouble in Texas by Katie Lane

Librarian Elizabeth is the last person suited to owning the local “house of ill repute,” but an inheritance and a group of women who like working at Hattie’s Henhouse means Elizabeth can’t sell. Cowboy Brant came into town to investigate a cold case and ends up handcuffed to a bed. Opposites attract and lines are crossed at Hattie’s Henhouse.

Big Bad Cowboy by Carly Bloom

Travis doesn’t want to return to his hometown, but his nephew needs him. He wants to sell the family ranch and leave town as soon as possible. He and Maggie have a past, one that left her hating him. But when they’re forced together, they might just have to learn to make it work.


Are there any cowboy romances you adore? Let me know!