Tag Archives: @dcbiller

Hotel of Secrets by Diana Billers

Hotel of Secrets
Diana Billers


During ball season,
anything can happen—
even love.

It’s ball season in Vienna, and Maria Wallner only wants one thing: to restore her family’s hotel, the Hotel Wallner, to its former glory. She’s not going to let anything get in her way – not her parents’ three-decade-long affair; not seemingly-random attacks by masked assassins; and especially not the broad-shouldered American foreign agent who’s saved her life two times already. No matter how luscious his mouth is.

Eli Whittaker also only wants one thing: to find out who is selling American secret codes across Europe, arrest them, and go home to his sensible life in Washington, DC. He has one lead – a letter the culprit sent from a Viennese hotel. But when he arrives in Vienna, he is immediately swept up into a chaotic whirlwind of balls, spies, waltzes, and beautiful hotelkeepers who seem to constantly find themselves in danger. He disapproves of all of it! But his disapproval is tested as he slowly falls deeper into the chaos – and as his attraction to said hotelkeeper grows.

Barnes and Noble logo_150 KoboLogogoogle_play_logo_002_002

This book is set in 1878 Vienna with the first chapter the 1877 New Year’s Eve Ball at Hotel Wallner.

Maria Wallner is the current manager of the hotel, she lives there with her mother and grandmother, but the hotel has been passed down through daughters starting with her great grandmother Theresa Wallner. It flourished under her grandmother, Josephine, but unfortunately under her mother Elizabeth the property had gone to near ruin. Maria is determined to bring the Hotel back to its original beauty and popularity, beginning with this ball.

There are plenty of scandals but the one that involves her parents, Elizabeth and Heinrich is one of the biggest as they dance and flirt in front of his wife. Maria pleads with her half-brother Macario ‘Mac’ to get his mother to leave but she won’t because Count von Kaufstein is there and his son is engaged to Mac’s sister Annalise. Needless to say there are many more affairs and such going on.

There is also this thing about the Wallner woman finding not her man but ‘the man’. Supposedly, this man would father the next daughter to inherit the hotel but wouldn’t necessarily stick around.

Earlier on this day Eli Whittaker had checked in to Hotel Wallner, it’s the only clue in his investigation of the stolen codes from the United States. He’s puzzled by the population’s one-track mind when it comes to Balls. He’s there to work, not party.

He’s out observing the activities of the early morning when Maria shows up and stands in the middle of the road looking back at the hotel.

This is a favorite scene.

The champagne was turning her sentimental, she thought as she stood, laughing to herself, but there was one more thing she wanted to do before she slept.

She wanted to toast the grande dame herself.

Taking the bottle with her, she wound her way out of the hotel, waving at Abraham, her head footman, standing alert at the front desk, and swung out the wide double doors into a crisp winter morning.

The sky was cold and blue overhead, and people dressed for work mingled with those in ball gowns and evening suits still enjoying the evening prior. The street was still closed for the night, as both the Hotel Wallner and the Hotel Hoffmann, across the road and two doors down, had hosted New Year’s Eve balls, so it was quieter than usual, no shouting drivers and clattering horse hooves.

Somewhere up the street a violinist scratched out a waltz, and Maria hummed along. She pulled her velvet evening coat around her shoulders and wove her way across the narrow Innere Stadt street the hotel faced, to the square across from it.

In the summer the wide tree in the middle cast lovely, leafy shade over the four wrought-iron benches; now it was bare, the benches frosted. Still, a man sat on one, his wide shoulders hunched against the cold.

This was where she wanted to end her triumphant night: across the street from the pink and white facade of the hotel, admiring its five magnificent stories. Maria spared a glare for the Hotel Hoffmann, tipping her nose in the air at its pretentious marble columns.

“No magic,” she said, scornfully, then dismissed it entirely, turning back to her hotel. “Not like you, darling.”

She stepped out onto the cobblestone street and raised her bottle. “To you,” she said, tipping it against her lips.

She heard the warning too late. By the time she heard the horses’ wild cries and the shouts of the driver, she could only freeze, watching the carriage bear down upon her.

Time hung slowly. She noticed everything. The whites of the horses’ eyes. The panicked expression of the young nobleman who’d lost control. The scream of a nearby woman.

And then something grabbed her arm and pulled, and she ran into something hard, and time moved once more.

Gasping, she stepped back, her head spinning from shock and champagne. Her stomach was suddenly extremely unsettled, and for a moment that took all her attention.

A man was talking to her. Touching her. The hard thing had been him, and even now he was steadying her with his hands. She looked at his hands. She looked at his chest. Finally, she looked up at his face.

He had stopped talking and was looking down at her with an expression halfway between concern and irritation.

He had dark, chestnut hair, styled sternly, and deep-set brown eyes. His skin was pale, his jaw sharp and clean, almost harsh. A severe face. Except for his mouth.

She blinked. His mouth . . . was absolutely luscious. Wide and sensual and, at the moment, caught in a rigid frown.

That mouth, she thought, is pure sin.

It had been— she tried to calculate quickly but for some reason the numbers were rather fuzzy— at least a week since she’d had a man in her bed, which wasn’t really that long, but planning the ball had been very stressful, and that mouth looked very stress relieving, and really the arms around her were pleasantly strong, and she had the vague feeling he might have just saved her life, which she had never experienced before and was discovering was every bit the aphrodisiac tawdry novels would have you believe, and she did need to test out her linen closet concept; after all, what kind of hotel manager would she be if she offered her guests an experience she hadn’t thoroughly vetted first—

And then, with no warning at all, everything rushed back in. The sound of the street, the smell of the frost, the faint strains of the violinist, and most importantly, the color of his hair.

Her stomach flipped again.

He’s handsome, in a way. Ooh yes. Dark-haired, definitely dark-haired.

“No,” she said. “They were joking.”

“Are you all right?” He spoke in careful, American-accented German. A foreigner then. An incredibly gorgeous, dark-haired foreigner.

“No,” she said, pushing his hands away. He retracted them immediately.

“You’re not all right?”

The Hotel Wallner was back. Well, almost back. And the two occultists had simply been teasing her— they had wicked senses of humor—

Yes, but have you ever known them to lie about what they saw?

Maria gulped. “I’m fine,” she said, cautiously, putting a hand on her stomach. It occurred to her that she had, perhaps, drunk too much champagne.

“You shouldn’t have been in the street,” he said, disapprovingly. Well. The words were disapproving. The mouth was . . . mmm. Stern.

Stop it, she told herself. Stop it right now.

“The street is closed to carriage traffic,” she said faintly, as her mind spun through everything Madame Le Blanc and Frau Heilig had said. “That carriage shouldn’t have been there.”

The thing to do was to leave. On the off chance— on the off chance that Fate was an absolute bitch.

“I’m fine,” she repeated. “No need for dark-haired men whatsoever. Thank you.”

She tried to step away, but apparently her legs were still weak, and she stumbled. He caught her before she landed on the ground.

Strong. He was very strong.

She sighed in annoyance. “Yes, I see,” she said, either to Fate or Madame Le Blanc, she wasn’t sure. “He’s very strong and tall and good-looking and that mouth is indeed quite something, but he’s not the man.”

“I— have no idea who you’re talking to,” he said, the impatience in his voice clear. “I think you’re drunk.”

“Yes, hold on to that. Good. Irritation is good. Just dump me on the ground and leave me. That’s the wisest course of action. Above all, though, we cannot sleep together.”

He dropped his hands. She staggered, but remained upright.

His expression of horror was— rather delicious actually. No, not delicious. Absolutely not.

“That will not present any difficulty,” he said, and then he bowed crisply, and, bless him, walked away.
Diana Billers. Hotel of Secrets (Kindle Locations 278-325). Kindle Edition.

Although he saves her life, Eli doesn’t introduce himself and neither does she. It’s not until later when he saves her live once again that they truly meet.

Now obviously there is attraction between these two, but Maria and Eli are fighting it hard.

There are several incidents that are life threating, and others damaging to the hotel as these two embark on a very interesting relationship while he’s investigating.

I couldn’t put this book down, it’s quite the journey for everyone involved. The journals that begin each chapter give insight into the Wallner women and their lives, times, and scandals. Every page draws you deeper into the intrigue of the times and a step forward into the mystery and relationships that are somehow entwined.

5 Contented Purrs for Diana!

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!


Diana Biller

I think the best way to you about myself is to tell you about the things I love. So here’s a completely inexhaustive list: I love my husband, my dog and cat, my family, and my friends. I love ballet–both watching it and taking adult beginner classes. I love hiking alone, writing in gardens, and jumping in waves. I love Los Angeles, where I live. I love reading–it’s my oldest passion and my favorite.

And I love playing pretend, which is, for me at least, the thing underneath all the words and writing. I love living in worlds I’ve imagined, and I love meeting every new character who walks into them. I hope you’ll love them too.

newsletter - for blog

Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Amazon Author Page

My Review and an Excerpt from Diana Biller’s Debut Novel – The Widow of Rose House

The Widow of Rose House
A Debut Novel
Diana Biller



It’s 1875, and Alva Webster has perfected her stiff upper lip after three years of being pilloried in the presses of two continents over fleeing her abusive husband. Now his sudden death allows her to return to New York to make a fresh start, restoring Liefdehuis, a dilapidated Hyde Park mansion, and hopefully her reputation at the same time. However, fresh starts aren’t as easy as they seem, as Alva discovers when stories of a haunting at Liefdehuis begin to reach her. But Alva doesn’t believe in ghosts. So when the eccentric and brilliant professor, Samuel Moore, appears and informs her that he can get to the bottom of the mystery that surrounds Liefdehuis, she turns him down flat. She doesn’t need any more complications in her life―especially not a handsome, convention-flouting, scandal-raising one like Sam.

Unfortunately, though Alva is loath to admit it, Sam, a pioneer in electric lighting and a member of the nationally-adored Moore family of scientists, is the only one who can help. Together, the two delve into the tragic secrets wreathing Alva’s new home while Sam attempts to unlock Alva’s history―and her heart.


Barnes and Noble logo_150 ibooks-logo-150x150KoboLogo google_play_logo_002_002


Set in 1875 New York City and the Hudson Valley, this book is quite delightful.

Alva’s life had not been easy in Europe, so when her husband passes she returns to America, her homeland. She desires to enter the world of publishing by way of home decorating designed for everyone, not just the crème of society. To this end she purchases a neglected home she remembers from her childhood and has the renovations started.

Then all work stops, the rumors of a ghost circulate rapidly and attract the attention of scientist Samuel Moore. He happens to be in the area working on street light designs, when he hears of the house and the ghost. Ghosts have been a hobby of his and he sets out to gain Alva’s permission to investigated the possibilities.

This tale is suspenseful, fun, naughty and full of surprises. I do hope this becomes a series, I loved the Moore family and would like to see Samuel’s brother and sister both find their soul mates.

5 Contented Purrs for Diana!

New York City, February 1, 1875

Alva stood on the city sidewalk and sucked in a deep, triumphant gulp of air. The clock had just struck ten—the middle of the evening by New York City standards—and she was surrounded by elegantly dressed men escorting women dripping diamonds and rolled up tightly in furs. A few feet from her, the street was busy with carriages. She could smell the city: The damp fog, the sharp tang of refuse, the high floral notes of perfumed women. Horse dung.

Had she missed it? She wasn’t sure, although she knew she missed the steep, tangled streets of Montmartre already. But it was America that held her future now, even as it held her past. For a second her triumph was tempered by the remembrance of the thin envelope in her pocket, a few brief lines from her mother’s secretary, thanking her for her interest in visiting and regretting that Mrs. Rensselaer would be unable to see her. Alva knew her mother, likely even now sitting down to a stiff dinner with her husband and twelve of their closest friends fifty blocks away, did indeed feel regret. She just suspected it was about giving birth to her at all.

The restaurant door opened behind her, and, recalled to the moment, she signaled to the boy hailing cabs to find her one.

“Excuse me,” a deep voice said. “Mrs. Webster?”

Oh, for heaven’s sake. Couldn’t she stand outside for one min- ute without some intrepid lothario assuming she must be waiting for him? In the less than seventy­two hours she’d been back in the States, she’d been propositioned eleven times. Twice by friends of her father’s.

She glanced over her shoulder at the man, receiving an instant impression of big, though he stood mostly in the shadows. “I don’t know you,” she said, her voice flat. “Go home to your wife.

“But I don’t have a wife,” the man said. He took a hesitant step towards her, leaving the shadows, and her eyebrows lifted. He looked more like a laborer than a man finishing a dinner at Delmonico’s, for all he was dressed in a suit and tie. Sort of dressed, she amended; the suit looked like it had been made for someone two inches shorter and two inches narrower across the shoulders. “Do I need a wife to talk to you? Is it a chaperone sort of thing? I have a mother, but she’s in Ohio.”

Alva blinked. “You’re not very good at this,” she observed. “I’m not a man, but I don’t think it’s standard behavior to invoke one’s mother at a time like this.”

They stared at each other in puzzlement. He was attractive in the sort of way she’d always imagined the heroes of west­ ern folktales to be: tall, broad shouldered, with a strong nose and a square jaw. He could stand to add barber to the list of people he needed to see, though, the one that started with tailor. Actually, looking at the way his dark blond hair fell into his eyes, she thought he’d better have it start with barber and go from there.

“There’s been a misunderstanding,” he said finally. “Perhaps if I introduce myself—my name is Professor Samuel Moore.”

He held out his hand. She looked at it, looked up at him, and did not extend her own. Bafflingly, he smiled at her, as though she’d done something rather clever.

Was he really a professor? He certainly didn’t look like one, not that it mattered, because she made it a policy, these days, never to talk to strange men—

“A professor of what?” she heard herself saying, although she was pleased it at least came out with a nice air of sarcasm and disbelief.

“This and that,” he said, still smiling. “Engineering, mostly.”

She looked at his rumpled clothes. Yes, she could see that, one of those men who always had a tool in one hand and a grease can in the other. She didn’t know they were giving professorships out to men like that, but why not, after all? She was as appreciative of things like trains and working carriage wheels as the next person.

And now she’d gone and encouraged him. Stupid. “I see,” she said as coldly as she could manage. “Well, I’m not interested, so I’ll wish you good evening.”

“But how can you know if you’re not interested?” He shook his head in confusion, still smiling at her. The smile was . . . impressive. “I haven’t even explained my proposition, yet.”

“I find that if you’ve heard one proposition, you’ve heard them all,” she replied. Stop talking to him, you idiot. “They’re not as unique as men would like to believe.”

“But—who else has approached you? Was it Langley, from Yale?” His tone turned plaintive. “How did he hear about this before me?”


“Piers Langley,” he said. “No? I can’t think of anyone else reputable—look here, if you’ve been approached by anyone from that quack Santa Fe institute you should know they’re absolute frauds.”

“Institute?” Alva said faintly. “What on earth are you talking about?”

“Your house, of course. I hadn’t realized I was so behind on the news.” His face fell—What must it be like to let all your emotions float freely on your face?—but he nodded gravely. “If it’s Langley, though, he’s an excellent researcher, and a decent human, too.”

“It’s not Lang—what do you want with my house?” It was her turn to sound plaintive.

“But that’s what—” He stared at her, his brows crunched to­ gether. “Oh god. I wasn’t—I wouldn’t—”

To her astonishment, a distinct touch of pink appeared in his cheeks. He cleared his throat.

“I beg your pardon, ma’am. Henry warned me—that is, I shouldn’t have; my proposition is not of an intimate nature.”

“I’m coming to understand that,” she said.

“You thought . . . do men . . . they must—good lord.”

She began to feel in charity with this befuddled giant. “In­ deed,” she said. “I quite agree. But I must ask again—what is it you want with Liefdehuis?”

“To study it,” he said. “One of my personal interests is in metaphysical energies, you see, and from what I’ve heard, your house may prove a most interesting case. Your ghost story is so recent, you know. I hardly ever hear one claiming to be that new—”

He broke off as she shook her head. “You almost had me con­ vinced that you were unlike the majority of your sex,” she said. “And now I see you are. I’m just not sure insanity is much of an improvement.”

To her surprise, he smiled again. “You’re not the only one who thinks so,” he said. The embarrassment had left his face; he was quite relaxed once more. A man who apologizes for a proposition and grins at an insult, Alva thought. Where did you come from, Professor Moore?

“And I’ll admit there’s no conclusive evidence yet,” he continued, “but what I have collected looks extremely promising. Certainly promising enough to warrant extensive study.”

A hint of cold pierced her thoughts. Firmly, she banished it.

“You’re talking about ghosts,” she said.

“Maybe,” he replied. “Or I could be studying some kind of alien intelligence that just happens to concentrate in areas corresponding to local folklore.”

“Alien intelligence.”

Invisible alien intelligence,” he clarified. “At least invisible to the naked human eye. But ‘ghost’ is probably the easiest term.”


“People tend to go a bit strange when you talk to them about invisible alien intelligences,” he confided. “Which is odd, when you think about it, because why are the shades of one’s dead an­ cestors any less unsettling?”

She found herself nodding before the rest of her wits caught up with her. “No,” she said, not because the word corresponded with any particular question, but because she had the feeling the only way to survive here was to stick to very black­and­white words. His nuances were both compelling and sticky. “I’m afraid I won’t give you access. I don’t believe in ghosts, and I’m about to start several months’ worth of building work.”

“Don’t decide yet,” he begged. “I’m willing to pay you for the privilege, and I promise I won’t be in the way . . . although there is rather a lot of equipment, so I suppose—”

The boy hailing cabs caught her eye and gestured as a hansom pulled up beside him.

“That’s mine,” she said. “I’m sorry I can’t help you. Good evening.”

“Wait!” he said. “I’ll—I’ll send you a letter. Henry said that was the way to do it—I’ll write you and explain more.”

“It won’t help,” she said as the cab boy helped her into the carriage. “I’m sorry. Good­bye, Professor Moore.”

Finally, he sighed acceptance and raised his hand. “Good evening, Mrs. Webster.”

As the cab pulled away from the sidewalk, though, she looked back at him, to find him staring after her with his hands shoved in his pockets and that apparently irrepressible grin back in place. An uncomfortable lightness expanded in her chest as she watched him standing head­ and­ shoulders taller than the passersby around him, looking back at her as though he would be perfectly happy never to look at anything else ever again.

What couldn’t I get, if I could look at people like that? she thought, and settled grumpily back against her seat.


  Diana Biller

I think the best way to you about myself is to tell you about the things I love. So here’s a completely inexhaustive list: I love my husband, my dog, my family, and my friends. I love ballet–both watching it and taking adult beginner classes. I love hiking alone, writing in gardens, and jumping in waves. I love Disneyland. I love Los Angeles, where I live. I love reading–it’s my oldest passion and my favorite.

And I love playing pretend, which is, for me at least, the thing underneath all the words and writing. I love living in worlds I’ve imagined, and I love meeting every new character who walks into them. I hope you’ll love them too.

newsletter - for blog

Website | Twitter
Amazon Author Page