Karla Stover graduated from the University of Washington in 1995 with honors in history. She has been writing for more than twenty years. Locally, her credits include the Tacoma News Tribune, the Tacoma Weekly, the Tacoma Reporter, and the Puget Sound Business Journal. Nationally, she has published in Ruralite, Chronicle of the Old West, and Birds and Blooms. Internationally, she was a regular contributor to the European Crown and the Imperial Russian Journal. In addition, she writes monthly magazine columns, “Walk Abouts” for Senior Scene and “The Weekender” for Country Pleasures. In 2008, she won the Chistell Prize for a short story entitled “One Day at Appomattox.” She has hosted “Local History With Karla Stover” on KLAY AM 1180, and she has been the advertising voice for three local businesses.
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Neither Ada nor Minna Simms Lester actually liked men, particularly after marrying brothers and suffering from spousal abuse. But the women weren’t opposed to making money off of men, and after several years in a traveling road company, they were good actresses and you don’t become the most famous madams in the world without knowing how to fake it.
The sisters faked a lot of things. They claimed to have been born to a wealthy lawyer in Louisville, Kentucky, to have gone to finishing school and to have had proper social debuts. More likely, they were born in Greene County, Virginia and their family lost much of their wealth, including their plantation, during the Civil War. And before opening their first brothel, they may or may not have been prostitutes themselves. With family still alive, the pair changed their surname from Lester to Everleigh, in honor of their grandmother, who signed her correspondence, “Everly yours.” Most of their known history begins with the famed Everleigh Club in Chicago’s Levee District, where the sisters created and ran their club for ten years, amassing a ton of money and a pile of diamonds while doing so. A visitor to their club could count on spending up to $1,500 per visit, at a time when the average weekly wage was $6.
Parlor Girls begins with Ada and Minna leaving their husbands and joining a traveling road company before opening a brothel in Omaha. It ends with a happy retirement in New York. Along the way they entertained such luminaries as Diamond Jim Brady and Prince Henry of Prussia, and left a lasting piece of slang: a man who wanted to get laid was Ever-laid.
In the 19th century, a twenty-two year old, unmarried woman was on the shelf—already an old maid, destined to live on the charity of a family member. For Jane Heath, this is not an option. Disappointed in love and determined to make a life for herself, she takes a job at Wynters Way, the remains of a burned manor house deep in the country near the little town of Yearsley. The Wynters family is returning from India and Jane is hired to make their home habitable.
From the day she leaves home, Jane begins encountering the locals: a mute named Billy, a little person named Bright who is destined to become her closest friend, and the aggravating local doctor. And as if her job isn’t difficult enough, Wynters Way feels inhabited by the presence of a mysterious family member, one the Wynters won’t talk about. What are the strange sounds Jane hears? Bright says they’re just birds on the roof and mice in the wainscoting. But that doesn’t explain pockets of frigid air that suddenly appear, or the scent of apple blossoms only Jane encounters.
Wynters Way combines life in a country house from the housekeeper’s perspective with a love story and a family mystery with a solution destined to change lives.
When Mercedes Mackaill has a month off work in which to house and dog sit at a waterfront home, she soon finds that too much of her own company palls. Then the body of an old woman is pulled from the water in front of where she's staying and Mercedes discovers she'd talked to the woman just days before the drowning. An unexpected meeting with Dorsey Finch, the victim's tenant, leads to discovering the woman's strange past—a story reaching back to 1940s Hollywood and a well-known house on Nob Hill in San Francisco.
Until she discovers the mutilated body of her best friend, widow Mercedes Mackaill thinks her life is dull and lonely. But somebody murdered Isca Haines, a secretary and part-time phone sex worker. Mercedes suspects it has more to do with the evening job than their boring nine-to-five at Jackson, Johnston and Associates, a Tacoma brokerage house.
In an effort to track down the killer, she teams up with Isca’s former husband, handsome Andrew Clay. Clues have them visiting the Psychic Showcase in Seattle for tarot card readings and a hippy colony on the Olympic Peninsula. But when Mercedes is stalked and her apartment broken into, things get a little too interesting. The hot cop who responds to her phone call has Mercedes choosing between two desirable men—and whether she wants a man in her life at all. She just has to stay alive long enough to make the decision.