Sunday, April 26, 2020

Jack The Ripper Finally Identified!

After all these years of speculation about his true identity, it seems that Jack The Ripper finally has a name.

It will be 132 years this November since the world's most famous—perhaps infamous is a more appropriate word—serial killer murdered and mutilated his fifth and final victim. Mary Kelly was only 25 years old when her body was discovered on November 9, 1888, in London's East End Whitechapel neighborhood.

For over a century theories about his identity ran rampant, including such candidates as a member of the royal family, a prominent surgeon, a famous artist, an American doctor, and a Polish immigrant living in the neighborhood. One case was even made for Jack The Ripper being a woman. I had always thought the Polish immigrant was Jack The Ripper. However, after seeing a documentary about the search for Jack The Ripper's true identity, I started leaning toward the American doctor as the culprit. Francis Tumblety was an Irish-born American medical quack who earned a small fortune posing as an East Indian herb doctor throughout the United States and Canada. He was in England at the time of the murders and when he returned to the U.S., the London murders stopped and a similar series of murder started in the U.S.

I find it interesting that most images of Jack The Ripper, whether drawings from that time or modern depictions, show him dressed in formal gentleman's attire including a cape and top hat. A man dressed like that on the streets of Whitechapel at night in 1888 would definitely have stood out to anyone living in the area as someone who didn't belong there.

Thanks to modern forensic science, a DNA match shows that Jack The Ripper is Aaron Kozminski, a Polish Jew who fled to London in the 1880s. He died from gangrene at the age of 53 while incarcerated in Leavesden Asylum. Kozminski was one of the names on the list of strong suspects from the time of the murders, but the police never had enough evidence to arrest him.

Russell Edwards, author of Naming Jack The Ripper (published in 2014), bought a shawl in 2007 at an auction. Even though the shawl came without provenance, he was told that it belonged to Catherine Eddowes, the Ripper's fourth victim, and had been found near her body. After the auction, he obtained a letter from the previous owner claiming his ancestor had been a police officer who was present at the murder scene and had taken the shawl.

Edwards handed the shawl over to Dr. Jari Louhelainen, a world-renowned expert in analyzing genetic evidence from historical crime scenes. He tracked down a descendant of Catherine Eddowes and a British descendant of Kozminski's sister, both of whom agreed to provide DNA. With a DNA match from the samples, the doctor stated that Aaron Kozminski was Jack The Ripper.

The evidence has not yet been independently verified.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

FATED ENCOUNTER—release date Monday, April 20, 2020

My next release, available Monday April 20, is FATED ENCOUNTER, an adult romance novella that's the latest addition to my Encounter books published by The Wild Rose Press. The book is set in Seattle, Washington, and on Bainbridge Island across the bay from Seattle. It tells the story of Shaina Thomas, a graphic artist/illustrator from Phoenix, Arizona, and Brody Danvers, an entrepreneur who owns a radio station and an upscale restaurant in Seattle.

A chance encounter a year ago set fate on a course for the future

G-Excerpt #1:
“You don’t need to cover for me, Jeannie. Totally my fault.” A spontaneous laugh accompanied the man’s words. “Time got away from me. I came sneaking in the back door hoping for an unobtrusive arrival.”

The smooth masculine voice sent a rush of excitement darting through Shaina’s body. Something familiar about it, something stuck in the back of her mind…something from the past. She turned to see who possessed the mesmerizing sound.

First surprise, then confusion hit Shaina’s senses. Just like the sound of his voice, he looked very familiar, but from where? How could she not remember the identity of Mr. Incredibly Sexy and Desirable, all six feet one inch of him with his thick light brown hair and piercing blue eyes? A dynamic man who appeared to be maybe four or five years older than her thirty-two years? She had just moved to Seattle and didn’t know anyone. Where would she have encountered this very handsome and enticing man?

As soon as he looked in her direction, his face lit up. “Shaina Thomas? Is that you?”

“Yes…” She searched her mind for any hint to his identity. He obviously remembered her, which confirmed they had met, but it only increased her bewilderment. Where and when?

He flashed a devastatingly sexy smile as he held out his hand toward her. “What an unexpected pleasure running into you. It’s been…what—” He wrinkled his brow in a moment of concentration—“a little over a year ago that we met? The party at Kent and Patti Blanchard’s house.” He gave her a teasing grin. “You were with a date and left before I had a chance to get you alone and ask you to have dinner with me, followed by a totally indecent proposition.”

“Yes…” The memory suddenly popped into her mind. “I remember now.” She accepted his offered handshake and extended a friendly smile. His touch sent an instant arc of desire coursing through her veins. No man had ever sparked such an immediate and intense response in her. Not until now.

A sparkle darted through his eyes. Had he experienced the same jolt of excitement as a result of the physical contact? “You’re Brody…” She visualized the party scene where they had met but couldn’t recall his last name.

“Danvers…Brody Danvers.” He continued to clasp her hand, his touch playing havoc with her senses as he steered her away from the front door and out of the main flow of customers coming and going. “Would it be presumptuous of me to hope that your presence here means you moved to Seattle?” As he released her hand, he took a blatantly obvious close look at her ring finger. “And you’re unattached?”

A bit of a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. Very straight forward, not even a pretense at trying to be subtle. I’m not sure if he’s arrogant or a breath of fresh air. “Guilty. I just moved to Seattle a week ago and will be starting my new job in another week. I’m still unpacking and getting settled into my new apartment. I saw the information for the radio station's game weekend and immediately signed up. I love games. I thought this might be a good way to meet people. I understand the pre-game social get together always takes place at this restaurant.”

“Yes, upstairs in the banquet room. I coordinate the activities—decide what the game will be, see that newcomers are made welcome and introduced to the other participants, keep everything on track, organized, and under control…things like that.”

She won't be owned by any man. He's determined to make her his.

Seattle restaurant owner and entrepreneur Brody Danvers met the woman of his dreams a year ago at a party in Phoenix…her and her fiancé. When a chance encounter brings her—minus a ring on her finger—back into his life, he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her there.

Graphic artist Shaina Thomas has moved from Phoenix to Seattle to get away from a controlling ex-fiancé who refuses to accept the end of their relationship. Seeing the man she’d nicknamed Mr. Incredibly Sexy and Desirable and not forgotten is an unexpected but complicated surprise. She’s seriously attracted to him, but he seems to possess the same controlling traits as her ex. And then there’s the beautiful restaurant hostess who has her sights set on him…

FATED ENCOUNTER, an adult romance novella by Samantha Gentry from The Wild Rose Press.  

Available in ebook at:
And other online vendors.

Excerpts and other information available on my website: 

Sunday, April 12, 2020

FATED ENCOUNTER—A Character Interview with Shaina and Brody

FATED ENCOUNTER by Samantha Gentry is an adult romance novella from The Wild Rose Press scheduled for release Monday, April 20, 2020.

A chance encounter a year ago set fate on a course for the future

Let me introduce you to Shaina Thomas and Brody Danvers. Their story is one of fate stepping in to help two people find true love and happiness. How a one time chance meeting from a year ago set the stage for a lifetime.

Good morning Shaina and Brody. I know you have busy schedules. I appreciate you taking the time to be here today and share your story with my readers.

Shaina:  It's our pleasure, thanks for inviting us.

Brody:  (loving glance toward Shaina as he squeezes her hand). I'm always happy to talk about this lovely lady.

My first question is where and when did the two of you meet? Which one of you would like to go first? Brody…Shaina…

Brody: I'll take that. It was a little over a year ago. I was in Phoenix on business checking out a radio station for sale. The attorney negotiating for the station owner invited me to a party at his house that evening—a party attended by Shaina…and her fiancé. The moment I laid eyes on her, I was instantly captivated. I had the opportunity of chatting with her for a little bit and found her intelligent and very personable. (slight frown wrinkles his brow) Her fiancé, however, was a different story. I simply didn't understand how this intelligent, lovely lady could be engaged to such a disagreeable and unlikable man.

Shaina: (laughs) I think I'd better jump in here. In my defense, I did call off the engagement about three months later. As soon as Jerry and I became engaged, he instantly changed. It was like flipping a switch that changed the man I thought I knew into someone I didn't recognize—a controlling personality, an objectionable person. He started making my decisions for me, telling me where I could and couldn't go, determining who my friends should be—things I found totally unacceptable. After three months of trying to figure out what happened and telling him I objected to his behavior, I broke off the engagement. Unfortunately, his attempts at controlling me continued. He refused to accept that I didn't want to see him. I didn't feel physically threatened and didn't see any reason for a restraining order. I finally decided I had no choice but to move away from Phoenix. I picked Seattle because it was about fifteen hundred miles away from Phoenix and totally different from the desert where I had lived all my life.

So, from the night of the party in Phoenix, we fast forward one year to an evening in Seattle.

Brody:  A night that truly changed my life for all time. It started out as a typical Friday evening at my restaurant, with the social get together for the participants in the radio station's monthly game weekend.

Game weekend?

Brody:  Once a month my radio station hosts a game weekend. Participation is limited to the first 100 people who sign up via the website. The weekend activity can be board games such as Clue® or Monopoly® with several game tables set up. It could be a scavenger hunt. Or sometimes we do a movie marathon with a theme, either a genre of movie or a specific star. Friday evening is the happy hour social gathering of the participants where everyone has an opportunity to meet and greet. Saturday is the actual game event and then Sunday evening is an informal awards ceremony for the winner.

Actually, that sounds like it would be a fun weekend. How long has your radio station been doing this?

Brody:  I've been conducting the monthly weekend game for about two years.

You do this personally?

Brody:  Yep…it's something I enjoy. I'm currently considering expanding it to twice a month. The game weekend has become more and more popular, lots of people trying to register to play after the limit has been reached. Twice a month will allow more people to participate. I'll probably work some of the radio station's on-air personalities into a rotation of hosting.

Shaina:  It was the game weekend that grabbed my attention as soon as I moved to Seattle. I hadn't even finished unpacking my belongings in my new apartment yet. I immediately signed up. I thought it would be a great way to meet people with whom I would instantly have something in common.

And that's where the two of you ran into each other a year later?

Shaina:  Exactly. The moment I saw him at the restaurant, I knew I had met him before but couldn't figure out where it was, especially considering Seattle was new to me.

Brody:  I knew exactly who she was the moment I saw her. Ever since that evening in Phoenix, she was never very far from my thoughts. I also knew I wanted a true relationship with her. (a soft chuckle escapes his throat) It was a totally off the wall thought. I wasn't even sure exactly where it came from, but I knew it was real. It was just a matter of convincing her.

Shaina:  And to that end, he almost destroyed any possibility before it got started.

What do you mean by that?

Shaina:  (shoots quick sideway glance toward Brody including a tender smile) I have to admit that it was probably my fault…at least more my fault than his. On the surface, he seems to be the perfect guy—intelligent, charming, successful, well established, attentive…I mean, he actually listened to what I was saying rather than simply waiting for his turn to talk. He had all the qualities of that elusive Mr. Right. Except…

Brody:  Except I didn't understand what I said or did that occasionally elicited a flash of anger from her. It didn't last long, but the dynamic kept repeating, and I couldn’t figure out why. The only thing I knew for sure—she was absolutely worth the effort to figure out what was going on, what was causing her confusing behavior.

Shaina, would you care to share with us what was behind this…uh…unusual behavior?

Shaina:  Well, let's just say that not all of the baggage I brought from Phoenix to Seattle was tangible belongings. It included what was apparently some emotional baggage as well.

Brody:  Compounded by the evening her ex-fiancé showed up at her door—

Shaina:  Not to be confused with the afternoon his restaurant hostess—

Ah Ha—now we're getting into the heart of the matter. So, what happened?

Brody:  I can't give away all the secrets or reveal all the obstacles we encountered. I'm afraid you'll need to read the book.

How about you, Shaina. Do you have anything you'd like to contribute?

Shaina:  Only what Brody said—you'll need to read the book.

That's it? If I want to know anything else, I need to read the book?

Brody:  Yep.

Shaina:  (laughs) You'll have to read the book.

Well…apparently I have a book to buy. Thank you, Shaina and Brody, for spending some time with us.
Seattle restaurant owner and entrepreneur Brody Danvers met the woman of his dreams a year ago at a party in Phoenix…her and her fiancé. When a chance encounter brings her—minus a ring on her finger—back into his life, he'll do whatever it takes to keep her there.

Graphic artist Shaina Thomas has moved from Phoenix to Seattle to get away from a controlling ex-fiancé who refuses to accept the end of their relationship. Seeing the man she'd nicknamed Mr. Incredibly Sexy and Desirable and not forgotten is an unexpected but complicated surprise. She's seriously attracted to him, but he seems to possess the same controlling traits as her ex. And then there's the beautiful restaurant hostess who has her sights set on him…

PG-Excerpt #3:
“Do you need to rush away? I thought we could have a drink or get something to eat and catch up.”

She glanced at her watch, then out the window at the rain. “Well…”

“Good.” He immediately took control as he steered her toward the door. “We’ll find a quiet corner downstairs and grab something to eat. This, however, does not count as that dinner we’re going to share”—he lowered his voice to a sexy whisper—“although it could involve that totally indecent proposition I mentioned.”

Shaina instantly bristled. She stopped walking and stood her ground. How dare he make her decisions for her, tell her where she’s going and what she should be doing. He didn’t even do her the courtesy of asking if she’d like to have something to eat.

“You, uh, seem a little pushy. Did it ever occur to you that I might not be hungry?” She tried to keep the level of irritation out of her voice but without much success. Her break-up with Jerry happened nine months ago, long enough that it shouldn’t continue to be an issue with her, but that logical thought didn’t stop the intrusion of the emotional baggage attached to her ill-fated engagement.

A hint of confusion darted across his face. “Excuse me?” He shot her a curious look. “It certainly wasn’t my intention to offend you. Perhaps we could have dinner some other time.”

An instant hint of guilt jolted her thoughts.

His brow lifted as he tilted his head to one side, a look bordering on something akin to a challenge. “When do you think you might be hungry?”

She stood in stunned silence for a moment, not sure what to say or do.

FATED ENCOUNTER, an adult romance novella by Samantha Gentry from The Wild Rose Press.  

Available in ebook at:
And other online vendors.

Excerpts and other information available on my website:  

Sunday, April 5, 2020


When you hear the word 'scientist,' it usually conjures an image of a sterile room with a person in a white lab coat surrounded by test tubes, Bunsen burners, and beakers with bubbling lab experiments. But in reality, there are many scientists working in various fields of discovery whose 'lab' is far removed from that stereotypical image--scientists who do their work in the field. I read an article about scientists who work on location rather than in a lab…the ones whose labs are out there, in dangerous places and situations where most of us would never go.

So, in no particular order, here are nine of these dangerous scientific work locations.
1)  Inside Volcanoes
When you think of geologists your first thought is usually the study of rocks and various landforms, something safe and basically stable. But for the branch of this particular science known as volcanology, things are definitely less stable and a certainly a little hotter. Having been to Mt. St. Helens, Washington, not long after the explosive eruption and viewing the devastation first hand, I'm very familiar with the story of David Johnston, the thirty-year-old volcanologist who was on duty at the time and was one of the fifty-seven people who died in the eruption. Volcanologists study the intense heat and chaos inside active volcanoes, and recently a team of three researchers descended inside the Marum Volcano on Ambrym Island off the coast of Australia to study lava flows inside. Wearing a heat-resistant suit, one of them descended 1200 feet into the volcano’s crater to capture video footage of the lava's movement. Normally, scientists use robotic cameras mounted to small helicopters or drones to do this extremely dangerous work.
2) Tornado Country
The movie Twister gave us a good look at what storm chasers do, and those who live in the part of the U.S. referred to as Tornado Alley see the results of their work on the news when the storm conditions are present that produce tornadoes. Collecting data on storms is a tough process. Getting close to a tornado is risky on a good day, and self-proclaimed storm chasers run that risk all the time. Even with technology such as Doppler radar giving us the overall picture of a severe storm, some scientists claim there is some data that can only be gathered at ground level. One of the most noted tornado researchers, Tim Samaras, routinely drove in front of tornadoes to place cameras and pressure sensors to record the velocities of objects swept up by the storm. Unfortunately, in 2013 Samaras, his son, and another storm chaser died in an Oklahoma tornado.
3) Biosafety Level 4 Labs
All the news these days is about the Coronavirus which has been elevated to the status of a pandemic. Laboratories that deal with germs and diseases that can be dangerous or fatal to humans are given a biosafety rating from one to four. Facilities that deal with Level four are where the really bad stuff happens. One of the most notable is the NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) integrated research facility located at Fort Detrick, Maryland (pictured here). The laboratory is housed in a three-story office building—an airtight, pressurized environment restricted to only a select number of researchers. The facility has airlocks that separate it from the outside world and anything that leads outside the building, such as light fixtures or electrical outlets, is sealed in epoxy to prevent even a single germ from escaping. Scientists are given a seven-minute showering with virus-killing chemicals before they leave.

4)  Underwater Caves
The ocean is a massive mystery to humanity, covering the majority of the Earth’s surface. Even though it's part of our planet, we seem to know more about outer space than we do the depths of our oceans. One of the most interesting areas under the ocean's surface are what are known as blue holes, underwater caves that can reach as deep as six hundred feet below sea level. These caves have difficult topography. They vary in size from massive, sprawling caverns to holes barely big enough to admit a human. Diving there can be very dangerous with unpredictable currents. Despite the dangers, scientific rewards are huge with both biological and archaeological finds waiting to be discovered.
5)  Tree Canopies
Forest ecosystems are made up of distinct layers, each with its own climate and variety of plants and animals. It's a simple task to study the layers nearest the ground, but botanists have lots of questions about what's happening up above. And that's where canopy research comes in. Scientists at Humboldt State University climb to the top of trees that can exceed 350 feet in height, anchoring their bodies to the trunk. From that risky perch they can observe the canopy ecosystem…as long as they don't lose their balance. At the top of the trees, researchers have discovered a whole ecosystem of moss, lichens, and even whole new trees and bushes growing from dead stumps.

6)  Amundsen-Scott Station
Originally built by the United States government in 1956, the Amundsen-Scott Station sits squarely on the south pole. With temperatures ranging from minus 13.6 degrees Celsius (minus 56.48 Fahrenheit) on a nice day to minus 82.8 degrees Celsius (minus 181.04 Fahrenheit) when winter is in high gear, it's one of the most inhospitable regions on the planet. Even though blizzards and intense winds are common, astronomers spend months at the station because the six months of total darkness during winter makes Amundsen-Scott a perfect place to observe the night sky. Other researchers study the movements of the Antarctic ice sheet—the station itself moves about thirty-three feet a year as the ice drifts.
7)  Aquarius Lab
Operated by the National Oceanic and Aeronautic Administration, this deep-sea science station comes with a little twist. The human body is only capable of staying underwater for a short period at a time because decompression sickness (commonly referred to as the bends) can cause incredible damage when gas bubbles form and disrupt tissue. Some scientists have long-term research projects that need to happen in deep water, so they do it at the Aquarius Lab. This facility rests on the sea floor outside of Key Largo, Florida at a depth of fifty feet. Researchers spend up to ten days underwater at a time, studying the nearby coral reefs.

8)  Inside Hurricanes
Here’s another meteorological condition where some scientists like to get a little too close. The National Oceanic and Aeronautic Administration employs a number of flight meteorologists who take airplanes into the eyes of hurricanes to gather data on the storm's strength and direction. They use two planes—one is a Gulfstream G-4 that has the easy job of circling the storm's funnel, the second is a smaller propeller plane that actually penetrates the fast-moving wind to fly right to the eye of the storm. In addition to using Doppler radar on the plane's tail, they also release a device called a dropsonde that transmits pressure and humidity data.
9)  Outer Space
And finally…there is literally no environment as hostile to the human body as the vacuum of space. Long-term weightlessness has negative effects on muscle tone, bone density and the immune system. Exposure to radiation in low-earth orbit comes at levels ten times higher than the normal dose on the Earth's surface. And there's also the fact that outer space doesn't have any of that oxygen stuff our bodies need to function. Experimentation in outer space has led to a number of fascinating discoveries in fields as diverse as astronomy and cancer medicine.

And there you have a sampling of dangerous locations some scientists refer to as their lab (minus those white lab coats, of course).