Hi Friends,

I hope you are enjoying the first day of Spring. It’s a bit cool and gray here in NJ, but I know brighter days are ahead. Keep reading all the way to the end of this post for a fun giveaway.

Today I’m excited to reveal the cover of my next book, Where Two Hearts Meet! Release day is April 15th. These two novellas that were originally published in 2005 and 2006, and I’ve revised and updated them for you.

There’s no better place for romance, forgiveness, and new beginnings than the Sweet Something Teashop.

Where Two Hearts MeetTea For Two

Allison Bennett, co-owner of a financially strapped teashop in Princeton, New Jersey, receives a large anonymous check that saves her business. But she has no idea who sent it. Could it be from Peter Hillinger, the wealthy businessman who owns the shop next door and wants to win Allison’s heart? Or is it from Tyler Lawrence, Allison’s old boyfriend, who returns to town claiming a renewed faith and a changed life. Allison doesn’t know who she should trust. Should she follow her head or heart, or is there Someone else who can guide her toward the best path for her future?

Wherever Love Takes Us

After twenty-five years of marriage, Matt and Tessa Malone are struggling to recover financially and rebuild trust following a business failure. Then Matt inherits property in Oregon, and he wants to move the family there to make a fresh start. But Tessa can’t imagine giving up the cozy teashop she co-owns with her sister, or leaving her friends and family in Princeton. Whose dream will they follow, and how much will it cost their family? Can they resolve their differences and rebuild a love that seems lost?

Would you help me spread the word? I will be giving away two copies of the ebook. Just share the cover photo and a link to this blog post on Pinterest or Facebook, and then leave a comment below with a link to your pin or post.

Blessings and Happy Reading!


Keep Calm British Flag

Downton Abbey Season Four has come to an end, and those of us who enjoy that series will miss seeing our favorite characters on Sunday night. Here are some fun ideas to help fans get their Downton fix until next season:

1. Watch Downton Abbey again on DVD or Amazon Instant video. It’s free for Amazon Prime members. PBS also has a few episodes available online that you can watch at any time.

2. Watch other programs and movies set durring the Gilded Age, Edwardian Age, or simply set in England: Berkley Square, Ann of Green Gables, A Little Princess, Manor House, The Lost Prince, The Secrets of Highclere Castle, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Little Dorrit.

Pamela Foster3. Visit Downton Abbey Cooks Website and prepare some Edwardian enspired recipes. Pamela Foster, a cullinary historian, has a fun blog and cookbook with recipes to try. Maybe you’d like to invite your friends over for tea and scones while you watch Downton Abbey again.

4. Visit Pinterest and search for boards about Downton Abbey. I have two boards dedicated to Downton Abbey and Highclere Castle.

Highclere Castle

5. Enter contests that will take you to England. Masterpiece Theater is offering one, and actress Laura Carmichael who plays Lady Edith is also sponsoring a fundraiser for health care in Haiti.

Downton Style Earrings6. Shop online for Downton books, gifts, calendars, puzzles, etc.  There is also a new line of Downton linens, lace, and housewares. Macey’s carries Downton themed jewelry, and it’s also available at the PBS online giftshop.

Downton Costumes


7. Visit The Downton Costume Exhibit at Winterthur Museum in Delaware. I’m headed there on March 21, and I’ll be sure to take photos if they are allowed and report back to you!

8. Read books that are similar to Downton Abbey. Ah, now here’s a great idea!

The Governess of Highland HallThe Governess of Highland Hall is set in 1911- 1912, the same year as the first season of Downton Abbey. It takes place on a beautiful English country estate similar to Downton Abbey/Highclere Castle, and features both upstairs and below stairs characters.

It’s availabe at Barnes & Noble, Target, Walmarts, Costco, and wherever books are sold. Here are links to purchas a copy online: Happy reading to all my friends and fellow Downton Abbey Fans!

Main-Image-Downton-Abbey-Series-4Hi Friends,

Downton Abbey Season Four premieres on January 5th on PBS, and I can’t wait! I’m excited to see what will happen to all the characters, and I plan to follow them through this new season.

Season three had a rather shocking ending . . . but I’ll be cheering for Mary and eager to see how she overcomes her grief and moves forward as George’s mother and as the new partner in overseeing the estate. And what about Edith—will she finally find happiness? I’m hoping Anna and John Bates will enjoy married life and perhaps have a baby. And then there’s Mr. Carson, Mrs. Hughes, Daisy, Mrs. Patmore, Lord and Lady Grantham and my favorite, Violet – the Dowager Countess.

The Governess of Highland HallMy enjoyment of Downton Abbey inspired me to write the Edwardian Brides Series. Book one, The Governess of Highland Hall, released last fall, and I am hard at work on Book 2, The Daughter of Highland Hall which comes out this October. Book 3 is also in the works and will follow the Ramsey family of Highland Hall into WW1.

To celebrate Dowton Abbey’s new season and The Edwardian Brides Series we’re hosting a, “Win a Downton Abbey Finale Viewing Party” contest, where you can win treats and Downton Abbey-themed items for you and your friends. It will run through February 9, 2014. US residents only.

Downton Pize PackagePrizes include:

  • Downton Abbey DVDs, Seasons 1, 2, and 3.
  • A Downton Abbey Tote Bag
  • Downton Abbey English Rose Tea
  • Four Tea Cups, Scone Mix, and Lemon Curd
  • The Governess of Highland Hall, four copies

Downton Viewing Party2Are you a Downton Abbey fan? Will you be watching too? Be sure to fill out the entry below and share this contest with your friends!

Happy viewing and  happy reading!


Hi Friends,

Researching the role of governesses in English society in the late 19th and early 20th century was one of the topics I enjoyed delving into as I prepared to write The Governess of Highland Hall. Here are some of the interesting facts I learned about women who took on this role.

The English governess occupied a unique and sometimes lonely role in society. She must be educated enough to teach others, but poor enough to needed a job.  It could be an isolated life, because she was not really part of the community of servants downstairs, and she was often excluded from much of the family life upstairs.

Some governesses were invited to join the family at mealtimes. But the governess’ presence at the dinner table could serve as an uncomfortable warning and threat. She was a constant reminder that if a daughter didn’t marry, she might have to earn a living, and her primary option was to become a governess herself.  On the other hand, an attractive, charming, single woman could be considered competition for the daughters of the family.

This in-between state created wonderful potential conflict for my story. Would my heroine, Julia Foster, be considered part of the family, or would she be considered more an employee?  What authority would she have over the children?  How would they respond to her instruction? How much responsibility would she have for their upbringing?  How would the other members of the family relate to her? I increased the conflict for Julia by giving her four charges: a nine-year-old boy with ADHD (of course undiagnosed in that period) and six-year-old girl with fragile health, a fifteen-year-old starry-eyed teenage girl, and an almost eighteen-year-old young woman who deeply resented having a governess.

The term governess was used in three ways. It could refer to a schoolteacher; or a woman who lived in one place and traveled to another home to teach (a “daily governess”); or a woman who lived in a household in order to teach the children and serve as a companion to them (a “private governess”).

A governess should not be confused with the nurse, who was a member of the servant class and responsible for all the physical and emotional needs of the children during their first four to five years of life. After that, the children would be turned over to a nursery governess, who was responsible for the education of both boys and girls until they reached the age of eight. The most important duty of the nursery governess was to teach reading and writing.

Edwardian ChildA preparatory governess would then teach the girls subjects such as English, geography, history, singing, piano, drawing, and needlework until they reached the age of twelve, when a finishing governess or a boarding school instructor would take over their education and give lessons in fine arts, dancing, piano, and singing. By the age of seventeen or eighteen, girls would be ready for their social debut, and finding a husband.

Boys typically left the care of their governess at the age of eight, when they entered a preparatory school. (I stretched this a bit in my story, keeping Andrew with his family at age nine. But it seemed reasonable to me since they had just moved to Highland Hall.) This followed the belief that boys’ education was vitally important because they were the future supporters of their families. Girls didn’t need as much formal education, since their prospects for marriage were based on their personal fortunes and on their appearance and genteel manners.

It was this emphasis on gentility that characterized a good governess—and also contributed to a great deal of social conflict. Above all, a good governess had to be a lady herself, in order to instill in her students proper morals and values. Yet as a group, governesses were generally seen as inferior and often looked down upon. That also became a key element in my story.

The yearly salary for a governess ranged from twenty to forty pounds per year, but could be as high as 100 pounds if she worked for a very wealthy family. Although a private governess was provided with food and shelter, she was expected to either buy or make her own clothes, keeping in mind that she was required to look presentable at all times in order to avoid shaming her employer. She was also expected to pay for her own medical care, travel expenses, and laundry, and she could expect no security of employment.

governess of highland hallDespite this popular image that governesses were lonely and looked down upon, there were many examples of happy situations in which the governess was respected and well treated by her employers and was loved by her pupils.

How was Julia treated when she came to Highland Hall? Was she able to cross the great divide that separated her from Sir William Ramsey, the master of Highland Hall? How did her faith and pure heart help her overcome the stigma attached to the role of governess? I hope you’ll pick up a copy of The Governess of Highland Hall and find out! Blessings and Happy Reading!

Governess Release Parties_400x600-4
Hi Friends,
It’s finally time for the release of the Governess of Highland Hall! I am so excited for you to meet Julia Foster and William Ramsey, and all those who live on the beautiful country estate called Highland.
We had a wonderful time at the local book launch on Sunday, Oct. 13th. But I know many of you live too far away to come, so here’s how you can join in the fun!
Joanne Bischof, Carrie Turansky, and Julie Lessman.

Joanne Bischof, Carrie Turansky, and Julie Lessman.

Online Facebook Party
Everyone is welcome to join us on Tuesday October 15th for an Online Facebook Book Launch Party, 7:00 – 8:00 pm Eastern time. It will be a Livestream video chat from my Author Page (look for the bright red Livestream button under where you like the page to connect to the event). I’ll be giving you the behind the page info on The Governess of Highland Hall, answering your questions, and giving away copies of the book and some fun prizes including Downton Abbey DVDs, Calendars, and Cookbook, plus teacups! Authors Julie Lessman and Joanne Bischof will be calling in as my special guests, and they will be giving away copies of their books too! Please RSVP  for the Facebook Party, and we will send you a reminder so you don’t miss the fun and prizes!
Prize Giveaway #1 – Over $40.00 Value
• Tea Infuser
• Downton Abbey Season 1 DVD
• 1 copy of The Governess of Highland Hall
Prize Giveaway #2 – Over $30.00 Value
• The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbooks
• Tea Infuser
• 1 copy of The Governess of Highland Hall
Prize Giveaway #3 – Over $40.00
• Tea Infuser
• Downton Abbey Season 2 DVD
• 1 copy of The Governess of Highland Hall
Prize Giveaway #4 – $30.00
• Tea cup and saucer
• Tea Infuser
• Lady Alminia and the Real Downton Abbey Book
• 1 copy of The Governess of Highland Hall
Prize Giveaway #5 – Over $30.00 Value
• Tea cup: http
• Tea Infuser
• Downton Abbey Page-a-Day Calendar
• 1 copy of The Governess of Highland Hall
Prize Giveaway #6 – Over $40.00 Value
• Tea Infuser
• Downton Abbey Season 3 DVD
• 1 copy of The Governess of Highland Hall
Governess TeaParty Giveaway_400x400
Online Giveaway
Everyone is welcome to enter the Highland Hall Novel Tea Giveaway for a chance to win one of three full-to-the-brim English Tea and Downton Abbey themed gift baskets.



Prize Package 1: Over $120.00 Value

Downton DVD

  • Tea Set
  • English Breakfast Tea
  • Tea Infuser
  • Downton Abbey, Season 3 DVD
  • Silver and Faux Pearl Pendant
  • 2 copies of The Governess of Highland Hall

Prize Package 2: Over $80.00 Value


  • Tea cup
  • English Breakfast Tea
  • Tea Infuser
  • Tea Spoon
  • The World of Downton Abbey book
  • Secrets of Highclere Castle DVD
  • 2 copies of The Governess of Highland Hall

Prize Package 3: Over $60.00 Value 

tea cup

  • Tea cup
  • English Breakfast Tea
  • Tea Infuser
  • Tea Towel
  • Downton Abbey Calendar
  • Pride &Prejudice Bookmark
  • 2 copies of The Governess of Highland Hall
The Highland Hall Novel Tea Giveaway starts Oct. 7th. To be entered in the drawing, please fill out the form below. Winners will be drawn on Wednesday, October 16th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank You!
I appreciate all my reading friends who have stopped by to help me celebrate the release of The Governess of Highland Hall! If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy yet, just click here.


The final cover design

The final cover design

Hi Friends,

Did you know it takes a team of people to create a beautiful book cover? I never realized how many people were involved, but I am grateful for each one who contributed to the process of designing the lovely cover for The Governess of Highland Hall.

I was an art major in college, and book covers are important to me, especially my book covers! So I was pleased when the team at WaterBrook Multnomah asked for my input. They allowed me to choose the model to represent the heroine from a group of three. Then they invited to give input about her clothing, hairstyle and hat. I sent in photos of the manor house that I had in mind as I wrote the book, and the designer was able to use that exact house on the cover!

GovernessGoverness 1



Governess_Comp_7Photographer Mike Heath of Magnus Creative did the photo shoot of the heroine last January, and he sent all those photos to WaterBrook Multnomah designer Kristopher Orr who did an awesome job pulling all the elements together in the final design.


The final cover design

The final cover design









The design on the left looked great, but I asked for a few changes, and they were kind enough to consider those ideas in the final version on the right.

Can you spot the changes that were made to the final design?  There are at least eight. Some are quite small, so click on the cover to enlarge it and look closely. The first two people who correctly list those changes in their comment will receive an Advanced Reader Copy of The Governess of Highland Hall. US addresses only. Good luck!

Early in 2012 when I started working on ideas for The Governess of Highland Hall, I wanted to find an English country estate for my setting. I am a visual person, and finding images for my characters and setting brings the story to life for me. I loved visiting Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is filmed, and I wanted to find an estate that gave a similar impression but was unique. After a short search online, I discovered Tyntesfield, and I was delighted when I followed several more links to other images and articles. It was the perfect inspiration for the Ramsey family’s Highland Hall.

The marble fireplace in the great hall at Tyntesfield

The marble fireplace in the great hall at Tyntesfield

Tyntesfield is a beautiful Victorian Gothic Revival house and estate near Wraxall, North Somerset, England. The house is a Grade I listed building and now is owned by the National Trust of England.

The house is named after the Tynte baronets, who had owned estates in the area since about 1500. The location was formerly a 16th-century hunting lodge, which was used as a farmhouse until the early 19th century. In the 1830s a Georgian mansion was built on the site, and it was bought by William Gibbs, an English businessman, who made his fortune by importing guano (bird droppings) from South America that was used to make fertilizer. Gibbs became the wealthest non-noble in England for a time. Gibbs had a beautiful chapel added in the 1870s. The Gibbs family owned the house until the death of Richard Gibbs in 2001.

The great hall and gallery above

The great hall and gallery above

Tyntesfield was acquired by the National Trust in June 2002 after a fundraising campaign to prevent it being sold to private interests and to ensure it would be open to the public. The house was opened to visitors for the first time just 10 weeks after the acquisition, and over 189,000 people visited Tynestesfield in 2012. I hope to visit Tyntesfield in person next spring.

Several of the scenes in The Governess of Highland Hall are set in the great hall, the gallery, and the nursery. So I thought you would like a peek at those areas of the house.

Julia, Andrew, and Millie spend a lot of time in the nursery.

Julia, Andrew, and Millie spend a lot of time in the nursery.

What do you think it would be like to live in a house like this?

Would you like a sneak peek at the first chapter?

Still eager for more? Here is my Pinterest board with lots more photos.