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Welcome to History Writers Day 2022

Welcome to History Writers Day (weekend) 2022, organised by the fabulous @Book2Cover on Twitter. Started last year, this is a weekend of History Writers sharing their books, special offers, and just an opportunity to celebrate all things history and historical fiction. That it just about coincides with the first-year book birthday for The Automobile Assassination is excellent.

So, first, a little bit about myself. I mainly write stories set in Saxon England in the years before the events of 1066. Whereas some authors might write a series in a few different periods, I’ve opted to tell as many stories from the 600 years of Saxon England as possible. Starting in the seventh century, and running up to about the 1040s (at the moment – the series will run up to 1066 when it’s finished), there is so much material to work with. I tend to write about the ‘lost’ characters, and events, and I love battles and politics, and sometimes, a bit of a love story as well. But mainly fighting, and politics. I enjoy a war of words just as much as a war of swords:) And my characters are likely to be a bit ‘fresh’ with their language (The Ninth Century series – I’m looking at you).

And, when I’m after a bit of light relief, I write the odd 20th-century mystery because sometimes I just want my characters to be able to get into a car and not worry about their horse.

For History Writers Day, I have paperbacks for sale on the blog, (which I hope will work), and I’m also running a competition to win a signed copy of The Automobile Assassination and Warrior of Mercia (2 separate prizes). Just sign up for my newsletter, and receive a free short story set after the events of the Gods and Kings trilogy, and I will pick two lucky winners. I will post worldwide! I will close the competition on 1st December 2022, but you will still get the free short story if you sign up after that date.

If the book you’re after isn’t available, please drop me a line at mjporterauthor@gmail.com. I do have other books in stock, but there’s just too many to pop them all on the blog.

Not in writing order, but rather, in chronological order, here are the books I’ve written. The majority are indie published, but I am also working with the wonderful Boldwood Books to bring my Saxon stories to a wider audience. An increasing number of titles are available in audio format and hardback, as well as ebook and paperback. I’m not adding lots of links other than ones for the series on my blog, but you can find my author page on Amazon here. Select titles are also available widely, including The Eagle of Mercia Chronicles, the Gods and Kings Trilogy and Cragside, a 1930s mystery.

Tales of Saxon England

Gods and Kings Trilogy (The Seventh Century) The story of the mighty pagan, Penda of Mercia

Pagan Warrior

Pagan King

Warrior Kings

The Eagle of Mercia Chronicles (The earlier Ninth-Century) Boldwood Books

Son of Mercia

Wolf of Mercia

Warrior of Mercia

Eagle of Mercia (May 2023)

The Ninth Century Mercian Series (the later Ninth-century)

The Last King

The Last Warrior

The Last Horse

The Last Enemy

The Last Sword

The Last Shield

The Last Seven

The Tenth Century Series – the forgotten women of the 10th century

The Lady of Mercia’s Daughter

A Conspiracy of Kings

Kingmaker

The King’s Daughters

The Brunanburh Series (with Boldwood Books) mid-tenth century

King of Kings (February 2023)

The Lady Elfrida Books – the tenth century – England’s first crowned queen

The First Queen of England, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

The King’s Mother

The Dowager Queen

Once A Queen

The Earls of Mercia Series (the last century of Saxon England through the eyes of the Earls of Mercia)

The Earl of Mercia’s Father

The Danish King’s Enemy

Northman Part 1 and Part 2

The King’s Earl

The Earl of Mercia

The English Earl

The Earl’s King

Viking King

The English King

The King’s Brother (June 2023)

20th-century mysteries

Cragside – A 1930s mystery

The Erdington Mysteries

The Custard Corpses

The Automobile Assassination

As a reader of historical fiction, I also have a very active blog, hosting blog tours, showcasing others writers, and sharing my love of 20th-century Golden Age mysteries and cosy crime.

Do please think about following me on your social media channel of choice, or on the blog. All links can be found here, and yes, I am also on Mastodon.

I hope you enjoy History Writers Day 2022. I know I will.

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I’m delighted to be on the An Ear For Trouble by K.T. Lee blog tour, and there’s a fabulous competition to enter #blogtour #mystery

Here’s the blurb:

Elise Butler is a wildlife biologist who enjoys her stable (if somewhat predictable) job in finance at the World Wildlife Trust. However, when the veterinarian at Riverbend Animal Conservation Center goes missing, Elise offers to help the unlucky wildlife Conservation Center get back on its feet. Not only will the job in Riverbend, Indiana let her get back to her roots of working with animals, but it’s also a short drive from her sister’s workplace at Riverbend K-9 Academy, a training center for some of the FBI’s best explosive detection dogs.

FBI Special Agent Finn Cooper and his canine partner, Sedona, are chasing a well-funded animal trafficking ring. After an injury sidelines Finn from official FBI undercover work, he goes to work at Riverbend K-9 Academy to stay busy while he recovers…and to investigate his only remaining lead in the animal trafficking case.

Just as Elise begins to settle into life in Riverbend, her sister asks her to help the K-9 Academy by fostering one of their puppies. Finn is eager to keep Elise focused on training Zeke, the enthusiastic German shepherd puppy earmarked to become Riverbend’s first wildlife detection K-9, and keep her well away from his quiet animal trafficking investigation. Zeke quickly proves himself an expert both at chewing shoes and sniffing out clouded leopards. When Zeke starts finding scents where they don’t belong, Elise and Finn begin to realize that the Conservation Center may be more criminal than unlucky. And if Elise doesn’t keep her nose out of it, she might be the next target.

An Ear for Trouble is Book 2 in the Riverbend K-9 Series. All books in the Riverbend K-9 Series may be enjoyed as standalone novels or as a series.

Purchase Links 

My Review

An Ear For Trouble is an engaging cosy mystery involving a local conservation zoo and some strange shenanigans that causes a member of the WWF accountancy team to be called to help out after the unexpected disappearance and presumed death of not just their veterinarian but also one of their prized cubs.

What follows is an intriguing and well-developed story with all the hallmarks of a small-town mystery. The addition of the K-9s makes for often quite crowded scenes, and I was impressed that the author never once inadvertently forgot one of the animals:)

There’s a great deal of detail in the story about conservation work, alongside the mystery of what’s been happening. We’re not spared the details of spreadsheets and doggy training, but the two main characters of Finn and Elise. alongside their friends and dogs, means that the story never gets bogged down. It moves at a lovely pace – always advancing the storyline. On more than one occasion, I did think I’d worked out ‘who did it’ only to be proved wrong.

An Ear for Trouble is a lovely, easy-going story without too much peril and perfect for fans of wildlife, dogs and small-town mysteries. An enjoyable and rather lovely read.

Meet the author

K.T. Lee is a writer, mom, and engineer who grew up on a steady diet of books from a wide variety of genres. She’s the author of multiple books, including those in the Riverbend K-9 Series and The Calculated Series.

Connect with K. T. Lee

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KTLeeWrites

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ktleeauthor/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ktleewrites

Giveaway to Win 10 x e-copies of An Ear For Trouble (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494537/?

Follow the An Ear for Trouble blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources
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Happy Book Birthday to The Automobile Assassination (Book 2 in The Erdington Mysteries)

I don’t really need an excuse to share these wonderful photos, but a book birthday does seem like a good opportunity to do so. So below are some of the images that first inspired me to write about The Automobile Association sentry boxes in my story The Automobile Assassination.

Below is Beadnell Sentry Box, near Seahouses in Northumberland – on the road opposite Beadnell. (For anyone who doesn’t know, this is close to Bamburgh Castle AKA Bebbanburg, for fans of the Saxon period). And Ardgay Sentry Box, North Scotland, which I visited on my way to my holiday in Orkney in 2021. I had to include the view from the Ardgay sentry box, which is absolutely stunning. And it makes perfect sense as to why a sentry box would have been needed there – it is very remote.

Very few of these sentry boxes remain in their locations – and the majority are in Northern England and Scotland, and are, hopefully, now listed buildings. But, there would have been a time when these sentry boxes would have been a regular sight throughout the United Kingdom. A list of all the sentry boxes known up to 1962 reveals that there were 862 boxes (although not all of them may have been constructed) and just to add to the joy of them, these numbers make very little sense. Boxes located close together are not numbered concurrently.

Inside one of these sentry boxes would have been a telephone, and if you were lucky, a petrol canister so that you could make it to the next petrol station, if you did happen to run out of petrol. Patrolmen (yes, sadly, they were all men at the time) would have followed a specific route, to begin with on peddle bikes, but eventually using motorbikes with sidecars stuffed full of tools to help the stranded motorist. And the phone, in the 1940s, would have been answered by someone in the head office based in London.

AA members paid a subscription fee, and were then given a key which allowed access into the sentry boxes. Can you imagine how cross you’d have been to need to use the telephone only to discover you’d left your key at home. Cars also had a very dapper badge, often attached to the front grill, which proclaimed they were members. AA patrolmen were to salute to all cars showing a badge.

But enough about the sentry boxes, and the AA organisation in the 1940s. here’s the blurb for the book.

Erdington, September 1944


As events in Europe begin to turn in favour of the Allies, Chief Inspector Mason of Erdington Police Station is once more prevailed upon to solve a seemingly impossible case.

Called to the local mortuary where a man’s body lies, shockingly bent double and lacking any form of identification, Mason and O’Rourke find themselves at Castle Bromwich aerodrome seeking answers that seem out of reach to them. The men and women of the royal air force stationed there are their prime suspects. Or are they? Was the man a spy, killed on the orders of some higher authority, or is the place his body was found irrelevant? And why do none of the men and women at the aerodrome recognise the dead man?

Mason, fearing a repeat of the cold case that dogged his career for two decades and that he’s only just solved, is determined to do all he can to uncover the identity of the dead man, and to find out why he was killed and abandoned in such a bizarre way, even as Smythe demands he spends his time solving the counterfeiting case that is leaving local shopkeepers out of pocket.

Join Mason and O’Rourke as they once more attempt to solve the impossible in 1940s Erdington.

The Automobile Assassination is currently available in Prime Reading in the UK, and in Australia, and can be read in ebook, paperback, hardback and audio version (narrated by the wonderful Matt Coles). I do hope you will check out the birthday blitz.

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I’m delighted to welcome the historical fantasy book, Liopleurodon:The Master of the Deep by MB Zucker to the blog #blogtour

I’m delighted to share an excerpt from Liopleurodon. Enjoy.

Scene 4: Luke reflects while waiting for the Liopleurodon to arrive for the monster’s first battle with the protagonists.

Luke watched the sunrise on the Sea Otter’s deck as the sky became an evolving painting, shifting from black to pink to orange to blue. Nature’s beauty was a lifelong source of excitement. He should get up early every morning—with Kelsey beside him. It was free entertainment, as captivating as any work of art ever crafted by man because this was crafted by God. The sky’s progression was only the beginning. Beyond it waited the universe, infinite in scale, majesty, and power. Who knew what was out there, what marvels existed to be adored? Stars, planets, other species, all going through their own cycles of life and death. He resented being stuck on Earth. Though the Earth had its own untapped universe to explore, one that was closer and more meaningful. Luke glanced at the ocean’s surface. Beneath was another world, virtually none of which man had yet seen. Incredible creatures—predator and prey, monster and magnificent—all part of the same planet, from the same hand as the colors drawn across the sky. That included the ancient monster—evolution’s most dangerous creation—that Luke knew was on its way.

Anxiety bubbled below the surface of Luke’s mind. He sought to impose calm, but his consciousness struggled to put its pants on as his subconscious darted ahead. Panic surged every few moments, not derived from thoughts, but from his intuition of what was coming and what was at stake if the Navy failed. What if too many poisoned bullets and harpoons missed? What if the Liopleurodon killed everyone on the patrol boats? What if the Germans captured it? What would they do with it? Could it affect the outcome of a future war? Would the Kaiser rule the world? Luke tried taking his mind off his fear. He thought of Kelsey. Her blonde hair. Her embrace. Yes. Think of that. Another surge. Kelsey’s image faded. Tainted. Next he thought of his father. A legacy redeemed. If only he’d known. He didn’t have to die. Didn’t have to leave Luke and his mother. Another surge. Damnit. Think of the sea, where he was more comfortable than he was on land. Of being a great fish. A being of power and grace. No issues of status or love to think of. Just swimming. And eating. And reproduction. And not being killed by sharks. Or the Liopleurodon. Another surge.

Luke shook his head and snorted. He looked at the others. Maybe getting out of his musings would distract him. Professor Harris was nearby. Like Luke, Harris wore a float vest and a belt that clipped to a canister full of putrescine. Harris looked away from the water, staring blankly, focusing on his breathing to stay calm. Luke looked at Colonel Roosevelt and General Wood, sitting together on the other side of the deck, facing opposite the Paulding and the concoction zone. Roosevelt’s forearms rested on his knees, his hands dangling between his stretched legs. He wore khaki trousers and a blue flannel shirt with yellow suspenders. Atop his head sat a brown felt hat with a blue and white bandanna tied around it. It was the same outfit he’d worn when he rode up Kettle Hill.

Roosevelt noticed Luke staring at him.

Here’s the blurb:

From M. B. Zucker, award-winning author of “The Eisenhower Chronicles” 

Liopleurodon ferox was the deadliest sea predator of all time, the king of the Jurassic ocean. This whale-sized reptile’s return to the early twentieth century triggers a geopolitical crisis in this new historical science fiction thriller. Former President Theodore Roosevelt foresees the threat the Liopleurodon would pose if it falls into the wrong hands. The race is on as Roosevelt leads the American effort to destroy it before the Kaiser’s Germany can turn it into a weapon. 

Fans of Jurassic Park and Steve Alten’s Meg series will not want to miss this adventure filled with action, political intrigue, and characters that readers will remember long after finishing this novel. 

Advance Praise for Liopleurodon: The Master of the Deep

“The storyline itself was superb —- A Jaws/Jurassic Park thriller and a bit of a spy novel all in one – and compelling.– The Historical Fiction Company

Buy Links:
Universal Link: https://mybook.to/liopleurodon  

Amazon UKAmazon US:   Amazon CA:    Amazon AU

Barnes and Noble:     Waterstones:    Kobo:   

Meet the author:
M. B. Zucker has been interested in storytelling for as long as he can remember. He discovered his love of history at fifteen and studied Dwight Eisenhower for over ten years. 

Mr. Zucker earned his B.A. at Occidental College and his J.D. at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. He lives in Virginia with his wife. 

Connect with M B Zucker

WebsiteTwitter: and https://twitter.com/michaelzucker1  

Facebook:  LinkedInAmazon Author PageGoodreads:  

Follow The Master of the Deep Liopleurodon blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club
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#CoverReveal for My Spanish Romance by Olivia Spring #MySpanishRomance

Here’s the blurb:

My Spanish Romance: Falling For My Brother’s Best Friend…

Dating her brother’s best friend is against the rules. 

But some rules are meant to be broken…

After discovering her cheating ex’s plans to move into her building, accountant Lily jets off on a sabbatical to Marbella. 

When she unexpectedly bumps into her brother’s best friend, hot Spanish DJ Carlos—the guy she’s had a crush on since forever—sparks fly. 

But Carlos promised Lily’s brother he’d never mess with his little sister. Breaking the bro code would end their friendship. 

Lily knows that Casanova Carlos doesn’t do relationships, so all he could offer is a steamy holiday fling. And after wanting him for so long, if they spent the night together, Lily’s heart and body might never recover.

She tries to suppress her feelings, but when Carlos takes Lily to his favourite places in Spain, the attraction becomes harder to resist. With her brother hundreds of miles away, what he doesn’t know won’t hurt, right?

Should Lily throw caution to the wind and risk heartbreak by enjoying a sizzling Spanish romance? And if she does, will it lead to long-term love? 

Order this fun, steamy, brother’s-best-friend, forbidden love romcom now and join Lily in Spain to find out!

Read as a standalone novel or as part of the My Ten-Year Crush series.  

A bright yellow cover showing a man and woman walking on the beach, holding hand.

Pre-order Links

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3OmXHUB

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3zIFw6O

Publication Date: 19th January 2023

Meet the author

Olivia Spring is a British, London-based writer of contemporary women’s fiction, sexy chick lit and romantic comedy. Her uplifting debut novel The Middle-Aged Virgin, which was released in 2018, deals with being newly single in your thirties and beyond, dating, relationships, love, sex and living life to the full.

In addition to The Middle-Aged Virgin, Olivia has published The Middle-Aged Virgin in Italy, Love Offline, Losing My Inhibitions, Only When It’s Love and the sequel When’s The Wedding?

My Ten-Year Crush, Olivia’s seventh novel, marked the start of a new series in 2021. My Lucky Night and My Paris Romance followed soon afterwards and book four, My Spanish Romance will be published in January 2023.

When she’s not writing, Olivia can be found enjoying cupcakes and cocktails and of course, seeking inspiration for her next book!

Connect with Olivia 

https://twitter.com/ospringauthor

https://www.facebook.com/ospringauthor/

https://www.instagram.com/ospringauthor/

https://www.tiktok.com/@oliviaspringauthor

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/olivia-spring

A bright yellow back drop with the title of the book, and the author's name.

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Today, I’m delighted to host and review Crazy for You by Domhnall O’Donoghue on the blog #blogtour

Here’s the blurb:

  • ‘Genuinely hilarious, charmingly intelligent’ – The Irish Times​  
  • ‘Assured, astute and wickedly funny’ – Woman’s Way  
  • ‘Witty and charming and very, very funny’ – The Irish Examiner          

When Clooney Coyle promises Vonnie Gallagher they’ll be friends for life, he has no idea what he’s letting himself in for. The lonely and eccentric Vonnie quickly becomes obsessed with the kind-hearted but insecure actor, and her misguided crush soon develops into something much more sinister, which leaves Clooney’s career in tatters.  

But when fate takes a strange turn and elevates the pair into an overnight celebrity couple, Clooney must decide whether to embrace the fame he has longed for since childhood or end the ridiculous charade before Vonnie’s jealous – and murderous – inclinations spiral out of control.

Purchase Links

Amazon: Amazon Crazy for You

Mercier Press: Mercier Press Crazy for You

Book Depository: Book Depository Crazy for You

Itunes: ITunes Crazy for You

My Review

Crazy for You is a deliciously funny story by author Domhnall O’Donoghue. (Do check out my review for Sister Agatha here). Told with a delightful sharp wit and not sparing either of his main characters from their less appealing characteristics, Crazy for You is not at all a love story.

I’m drawn to the fast-pace and wit of Domhnall’s story and their firm grounding in his Irish heritage. The places and people come alive from the page, and the humour is told with just the right amount of detail. The two stories of his that I’ve read have made me chuckle out loud. There is a rich vein of detail in Crazy for You, but never laboured, and the attendant cast are used well and to advance the story.

I really enjoyed Crazy for You (as I did Sister Agatha), and I really hope you’ll try this uproariously funny tale with its unexpected ending.

Meet the Author

Hailing from Navan, Co. Meath, Domhnall is a graduate of the Bachelor in Acting Studies Programme, Trinity College Dublin, later completing a Master’s in Screenwriting at Dún Laoghaire IADT. He now works as a journalist, author and actor.

In 2016, Tirgearr Publishing released Domhnall’s first novel, Sister Agatha: The World’s Oldest Serial Killer (‘We loved it’ – Woman’s Way). Pink Spear, an American, Emmy-winning production company, holds the TV and film rights.

Mercier Press, Ireland’s oldest publishing house, released Domhnall’s second and third novels, Colin and the Concubine (‘Hilarious’ – RTE.ie) and Crazy for You (‘Genuinely hilarious, charmingly intelligent’ – The Irish Times).

For four years, Domhnall enjoyed the responsibility of being Assistant Editor at Irish Tatler Man. Thanks to this role, he interviewed high-profile names such as Tommy Hilfiger, Kevin Spacey and Chris Pine. He writes a monthly column for Woman’s Way and is a features writer for Ireland of the Welcomes, the world’s largest Irish-interest magazine.

As an actor, Domhnall appeared as Pádraig in TG4’s award-winning series Ros na Rún for nine seasons.

Connect with Domhnall 

FB – Domhnall O’Donoghue (facebook.com)

T – https://twitter.com/Domhnall1982

IG – https://instagram.com/domhnall82

Follow the Crazy for You blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources
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Today, I’m excited to share my review for the BRAND NEW book in the St Bride’s series, Wicked Whispers at St Bride’s by Debbie Young #blogtour

Here’s the blurb:

Gemma Lamb is ready for an uneventful term at St Bride’s, she’s had enough of dastardly deeds and sinister strangers.

However, she’s barely back at school before:

  • Unlucky in love Oriana is sneaking around at odd hours
  • Handsome Joe is keeping secrets
  • Militant Mavis feels a scandal is brewing

It’s all a bit much, but when a stranger appears Gemma thinks she’s had enough. But this stranger isn’t so sinister, instead he looks rather too familiar. If Gemma can’t get him away from the school the whispers and scandal his presence could unleash may just close St Bride’s doors for good.

Purchase Link https://amzn.to/3Surw7g

My Review

The St Bride’s books are rapidly becoming one of my favourite series.

Wicked Whispers at St Bride’s takes place during the half term after the Christmas holidays. While the girls are all learning how to play games with the teachers, Cluedo, Chess, and a touch of poker, Gemma finds herself wondering what’s going on between Joe and Oriana, which leads her to make a rather impromptu decision when a stranger appears at the doors of St Bride’s.

What follows is a series of misunderstandings, a somewhat unexpected fire alarm, and not one, not two, not three, but four trips out for afternoon tea, during which two more mysteries are solved.

I really do enjoy this series featuring the staff and students of St Bride’s. They’re just the right sort of cosy to fill a couple of hours with feel-good reading. I’m hoping there’ll be a book 4 soon.

Meet the Author

Debbie Young is the much-loved author of the Sophie Sayers and St Brides cosy crime mysteries. She lives in a Cotswold village where she runs the local literary festival, and has worked at Westonbirt School, both of which provide inspiration for her writing. She is bringing both her series to Boldwood in a 13-book contract. They will be publishing several new titles in each series and republishing the backlist, starting in September 2022.

Debbie Young

Connect with Debbie  

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDebbieYoung

Twitter https://twitter.com/DebbieYoungBN

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/debbieyoungauthor/  

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/DebbieYoungNews

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/debbie-young

Follow the St Bride’s blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources
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Today, I’m delighted to be reviewing For Richer, For Deader by Helen Golden, book 2 in her Right Royal Cozy Investigations series #blogtour

Is the Wedding Between Sir Hewitt Willoughby-Franklin’s Step-Daughter and Billionaire’s Son Off?

Rumours are that the recent death of Kelley Lindsell (29), the personal chef of tycoon Rudy (68) and  Sheri Trotman (65) at Sir Hewitt’s Fawstead Manor country estate in Fenshire, has spooked Sybil Bransgrove (36) so badly she’s considering cancelling her nuptials. 

Meanwhile the bride and her mother, Lady Grace (61), are being supported by family friend Lady Beatrice (36), the Countess of Rossex, who, alongside her business partner Perry Juke, is currently managing the project to refurbish the Manor House and Lodge on the estate. 

Not again! Now that Lady Grace has asked Lady Beatrice to liaise with the police during the investigation into Kelley’s death, she’ll have to cooperate with boorish Detective Chief Inspector Richard Fitzwilliam whether she likes it or not. Her only relief will be solving the murder with the help of her friends Perry and Simon and her dog Daisy to get rid of him faster.  But with so many wedding party guests staying on-site, any one of them could be the killer. Can they find out who it is before Sybil calls off the wedding…

Purchase Links

Amazon – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0BF5P3C9N (UK) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BF5P3C9N (US)

My Review

For Richer, For Deader is the second in the Right Royal Cozy investigations series, and the series is a bit of a delight.

Lady Beatrice, once more engaged on one of her interior design projects, finds herself at the centre of another strange mystery, with threatening notes, an over-anxious bride, and an even more over-anxious mother-of-the-bride, and that’s before the murder even takes place.

The same cast are here, Perry, Simon, and Daisy the dog, as well as Detective Chief Inspector Richard Fitzwilliam, and that pesky online rag, the Society Page Online stirring up problems.

The mystery is well put together, and again, I didn’t decipher the true culprit thanks to the liberal dosing of red-herrings. And it was a really enjoyable cozy mystery. I’m looking forward to book 3, Not Mushroom for Murder. Check out my review for book 1, Spruced up for Murder.

Meet the author

Hello. I’m Helen Golden. I write British contemporary cozy whodunnits with a hint of humour. I live in small village in Lincolnshire in the UK with my husband, my step-daughter, her two cats, our two dogs, sometimes my step-son, and our tortoise.

I used to work in senior management, but after my recent job came to a natural end I had the opportunity to follow my dreams and start writing. It’s very early in my life as an author, but so far I’m loving it.

It’s crazy busy at our house, so when I’m writing I retreat to our caravan (an impulsive lockdown purchase) which is mostly parked on our drive. When I really need total peace and quiet, I take it to a lovely site about 15 minutes away and hide there until my family runs out of food or clean clothes

Connect with Helen

Insta: www.instragram.com/helengolden_author

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/helengoldenauthor

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@helengoldenauthor

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Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for a new historical mystery, Chaos at Carnegie Hall by Kelly Oliver #blogtour #BoldwoodBooks

Here’s the blurb:

Agatha Christie meets Downton Abbey in the Fiona Figg and Kitty Lane Mystery series opener.

Can Fiona catch a killer and find a decent cup of tea before her mustache wax melts?

1917. New York.

Notorious spy, Fredrick Fredricks, has invited Fiona to Carnegie Hall to hear a famous soprano. It’s an opportunity the War Office can’t turn down. Fiona and Clifford are soon on their way, but not before Fiona is saddled with chaperon duties for Captain Hall’s niece. Is Fiona a spy or a glorified babysitter?

From the minute Fiona meets the soprano aboard the RMS Adriatic it’s treble on the high C’s. Fiona sees something—or someone—thrown overboard, and then she overhears a chemist plotting in German with one of her own countrymen!

And the trouble doesn’t stop when they disembark. Soon Fiona is doing time with a group of suffragettes and investigating America’s most impressive inventor Thomas Edison.

When her number one suspect turns up dead at the opera and Fredrick Fredricks is caught red-handed, it looks like it’s finally curtains for the notorious spy.

But all the evidence points to his innocence. Will Fiona change her tune and clear her nemesis’ name? Or will she do her duty? And just what is she going to do with the pesky Kitty Lane? Not to mention swoon-worthy Archie Somersby . . .

If Fiona’s going to come out on top, she’s going to have to make the most difficult decision of her life: the choice between her head and her heart.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3dMIUoT

My Review

Chaos at Carnegie Hall is a cosy historical mystery set in London, onboard a transatlantic ship during its crossing and also in New York in November 1917. We’re introduced to Fiona Figg, an enterprising young woman, a spy if you would, who is happy to don male costumes to get the answers she seeks.

I did find the beginning of the book a little confusing, but then I discovered why, for Fiona Figg isn’t a new literary creation, but this is her in a new series, complete with references to previous exploits. Once I realised this, I was flying. The backstory isn’t overly relevant, and it adds a wonderful layer of depth to the character. Fiona Figg is not new to this jig, and she knows what she’s about, despite all the men in her life trying to make it more difficult for her.

This story is bursting with historical details – the Suffragettes, events at Carnegie Hall, ‘real’ historical characters, and of course, yellow cabs – which our fine main character informs us makes it much easier to spot a cab in the snowy November conditions she’s enduring. I really enjoyed the way the story is woven around events that actually happened.

The mystery builds really well, and the attendant sidekicks of Clifford, Kitty and, of course, Poppy, the dog, really add to the ongoing mystery.

A thoroughly enjoyable historical mystery recommended for fans of the genre and with just a smidge more historical detail than some other cosy mysteries, which makes it all the more appealing to me.

Meet the Author

Kelly Oliver is the award-winning, bestselling author of three mysteries series: The Jessica James Mysteries, The Pet Detective Mysteries, and the historical cozies The Fiona Figg Mysteries, set in WW1. She is also the Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University and lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She is bringing new titles in the Fiona Figg series to Boldwood, the first of which, Chaos in Carnegie Hall, will be published in November 2022.

Connect with Kelly

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kellyoliverauthor  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kellyoliverbook  

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kelly-oliver

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Today, I’m reviewing the second book in Debbie Young’s fabulous St Bride’s cozy mystery series, Sinister Stranger at St Bride’s #blogtour

Here’s the blurb:

When an American stranger turns up claiming to be the rightful owner of the school’s magnificent country estate it could spell trouble for everyone at St Bride’s . . .

No one can believe it when the headmistress, Hairnet, instantly accepts the stranger’s claim, not:

  • the put-upon Bursar, ousted from his cosy estate cottage by the stranger
  • the enigmatic Max Security, raring to engage in a spot of espionage
  • the sensible Judith Gosling, who knows more about Lord Bunting than she’s letting on
  • the irrepressible Gemma Lamb, determined to keep the school open

Only fickle maths teacher Oriana Bliss isn’t suspicious of the stranger, after all she can just marry him and secure St Bride’s future forever. That’s if inventive pranks by the girls – and the school cat – don’t drive him away first.

Who will nab the stranger first? Oriana with the parson’s noose? Gemma with sinister secrets? Or could this be the end of St Bride’s?

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3dBLZZ1

My Review

Sinister Stranger at St Bride’s is a fabulous sequel to Dastardly Deeds, and the villain of the piece, Earl, is sure to almost rouse hatred on a scale of the evil Umbridge in the Harry Potter books.

I love the feel of this series. As someone who did indeed read all the boarding school books as a child, this is a welcome ‘grown-up’ tonic to those long ago days:)

The story for book 2 is, I feel, stronger than for the first book in the series. The answers aren’t quite so easy to fall into the lap of Gemma Lamb, and Max Security has a bigger starring role, as do some of the girls attending the school. But don’t fear, Joe and Oriana, as well as McPhee do still have important roles to play.

I’ll be sharing my review for book 3 on 21st November 2022.

Meet the author

Debbie Young is the much-loved author of the Sophie Sayers and St Brides cosy crime mysteries. She lives in a Cotswold village where she runs the local literary festival, and has worked at Westonbirt School, both of which provide inspiration for her writing. She is bringing both her series to Boldwood in a 13-book contract. They will be publishing several new titles in each series and republishing the backlist, starting in September 2022.

Connect with Debbie

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDebbieYoung

Twitter https://twitter.com/DebbieYoungBN

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/debbieyoungauthor/  

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/DebbieYoungNews

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/debbie-young

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Today, I’m really excited to be sharing my review for Dastardly Deeds at St Bride’s by Debbie Young #blogtour #cozymystery

Here’s the blurb:

When Gemma Lamb takes a job at a quirky English girls’ boarding school, she believes she’s found the perfect escape route from her controlling boyfriend – until she discovers the rest of the staff are hiding sinister secrets:

  • Hairnet, the eccentric headmistress who doesn’t hold with academic qualifications
  • Oriana Bliss, Head of Maths and master of disguise
  • Joscelyn Spryke, the suspiciously rugged Head of PE
  • Geography teacher Mavis Brook, surreptitiously selling off the library books
  • creepy night watchman Max Security, with his network of hidden tunnels

Even McPhee, the school cat, is leading a double life.

Tucked away in the school’s beautiful private estate in the Cotswolds, can Gemma stay safe and build a new independent future, or will past secrets catch up with her and the rest of the staff?

With a little help from her new friends, including some wise pupils, she’s going to give it her best shot…

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3A3l13R

My Review

This one is short and sweet but shouldn’t detract from the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed this cosy mystery with a difference.

Dastardly Deeds at St Bride’s is definitely the book for all those who spent a childhood ensconced with a good boarding school book (The Chalet School, Malory Towers, St Claires etc). Sadly, there is no lacrosse, as the main characters here are all the teachers, but it is a charming story of our main character’s desire to start her life over again following an abusive relationship. There are a few mysteries to solve for her and a lovely cast of supporting characters, who all have their quirky sides, as does the boarding school itself.

I’ve been lucky enough to read book 2 and 3 already, and I will be sharing my reviews over the next few days, but I highly recommend checking out this new series if you love cosy mysteries (and tales of boarding schools).

Meet the Author

Debbie Young is the much-loved author of the Sophie Sayers and St Brides cosy crime mysteries. She lives in a Cotswold village where she runs the local literary festival, and has worked at Westonbirt School, both of which provide inspiration for her writing. She is bringing both her series to Boldwood in a 13-book contract. They will be publishing several new titles in each series and republishing the backlist, starting in September 2022.

Connect with Debbie

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDebbieYoung

Twitter https://twitter.com/DebbieYoungBN

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/debbieyoungauthor/  

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/DebbieYoungNews

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/debbie-young

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It’s release day for Wolves of Wagria by Eric Schumacher #blogtour #Viking #HistoricalFiction #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub 

Here’s the blurb:

Three kingdoms. Two friends. Only one way to survive.

For fans of Bernard Cornwell and Conn Iggulden comes the tale of Olaf Tryggvason and his adventures in the battle-scarred kingdom of Wagria.

It is AD 972. Olaf Tryggvason and his oath-sworn protector, Torgil, are once again on the move. They have left the Rus kingdom and now travel the Baltic Sea in search of plunder and fame. But a fateful storm lands them on the Vendish coastline in a kingdom called Wagria.

There, they find themselves caught between the aggression of the Danes, the political aspirations of the Wagrian lords, and the shifting politics in Saxland. Can they survive or will they become just one more casualty of kingly ambitions? 

Find out in this harrowing sequel to the best-selling Forged by Iron and Sigurd’s Swords.

Buy Links:

This book is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.

Universal Link

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU

Meet the Author

Eric Schumacher discovered his love for writing and medieval European history at a very early age, as well as authors like J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Bernard Cornwell, Jack Whyte, and Wilbur Smith. Those discoveries fueled his imagination and continue to influence the stories he tells. His first novel, God’s Hammer, was published in 2005.

You can follow Eric Schumacher on Amazon or by joining his newsletter at https://www.ericschumacher.net/readers-club.

Connect with Eric

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LinkedInBook BubAmazon Author PageGoodreads: 

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Happy Release Day to Warrior of Mercia, book 3 in the Eagle of Mercia Chronicles

Today sees the release of book 3 in my series about young Icel, a much-loved character from my The Ninth Century series featuring King Coelwulf, the last king of Mercia. And so, now that Icel as a young man, and Icel as a crotchety older man are both firmly in reader’s minds, I thought I’d share more about the idea for the Eagle of Mercia Chronicles series.

My characters in the Ninth Century series feel like they very much arrived in my head fully formed. Coelwulf was obviously the first, but others quickly followed, and Icel, with his derisive comments about any of their accomplishments, was an early fan favourite, and one of my favourites as well. Surly, and outspoken, while offering little of his life before the period that my characters knew him, he really did speak to me when I was deciding on a new series to write for Boldwood Books. All those little comments he makes. I think the below is our first introduction to his character;

“In the reign of King Wiglaf I first became a man,” he’s fond of saying, although he never explains what act made him a man. Again, I’ve stopped questioning him. Edmund likes to when he’s either drunk too much, or is trying to distract himself from whatever attack we’re about to begin. And of course Rudolf hangs on Icel’s every word. They’re an excellent match for each other, the boy who never runs out of questions, and the man who never answers them.’ (The Last King)

All these hints at what he might really have been like when he was perhaps no older than Rudolf, another firm fan favourite, made me want to tell his story. It did help that Mercia, at the time he would have been a boy was in political turmoil. It also helped that the Viking Raiders were making an appearance in Saxon England as well throughout the 830s. But Icel is a fictional character, and while fictionalising my Saxon characters, the men and women I normally write about did actually exist, even if we only have their names. But Mercia, in the 820s and 830s suffered a series of successive kingships, many of which failed, and so while Icel is fictitious, he does allow me to give a more rounded view of the entirety of events. He will live through these tumultuous times, and that’s important when I wanted to write about these events as well as all the kings.

It also helped that, in my contrary nature as a writer of historical fiction, that I always want to offer something a little different to the oft-taken paths when authors write about Saxon England – the Vikings, the reign of Alfred, Ethelred the Unready and the Norman Conquest, as well as the Golden Age of Northumbria, are often chosen but there is just so much more in these six hundred years to write about. So, no one else was writing about Mercia as it begins to falter in the 820s and 830s, and so I thought, why not:)

I really, really hope you’ll enjoy book 3, Warrior of Mercia, which follows Icel to the kingdom of the East Angles. I can also assure you that Book 4 is well underway as well.

Icel is a lone wolf no more…

Oath sworn to Wiglaf, King of Mercia and acknowledged as a member of Ealdorman Ælfstan’s warrior band, Icel
continues to forge his own destiny on the path to becoming the Warrior of Mercia.

With King Ecgberht of Wessex defeated and Londonium back under Mercian control, the Wessex invasion of Mercia is over. 

But the Wessex king was never Mercia’s only enemy. An unknown danger lurks in the form of merciless Viking raiders, who set their sights on infiltrating the waterways of the traitorous breakaway kingdom of the East Angles, within touching distance of Mercia’s eastern borders.

Icel must journey to the kingdom of the East Angles and unite against a common enemy to ensure Mercia’s hard-won freedom prevails.

books2read.com/WarriorofMercia

Available now in ebook, paperback, large print paperback, hardback and audio.

Check out some blog posts I wrote for release day!

And you can follow the blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources too. I’ll be updating with links to reviews, and I’d like to say a huge thank you to my blog tour hosts and usual reviewers for going out of their way to make release day so special.

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I’m welcoming Carolyn Hughes to the blog, with her new book, Squire’s Hazard #Medieval #HistoricalFiction #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub

Carolyn Hughes is treating us to a fabulous blog post. Enjoy.

Writing what you don’t know…

One of the wonderful aspects of writing fiction – and perhaps especially writing historical fiction – is that your imagination will drive you to include scenes in which your characters engage in some activity or other that you know absolutely nothing about. So, you have to consult books, and the internet, and other resources, in order to fill in the yawning gaps in your knowledge. 

In Squire’s Hazard, two such scenes involve my eponymous squire, Dickon de Bohun, in his struggle against a fellow squire, Edwin, who is making his life a misery with his bullying. Dickon knows he has to get the better of Edwin, but can’t bring himself to do anything dishonourable, or to snitch on Edwin and get him into trouble. 

A wrestling scene arises when Edwin challenges Dickon to a match, to be held, in principle, away from the vigilant eyes of their masters. Edwin imagines he’ll trump Dickon easily, and make him look a fool in front of other squires. Though in the event it doesn’t go all his way. Dickon is somewhat caught off guard by Edwin’s challenge and, although he’s not keen to fight him, as he believes that clandestine wrestling would be frowned upon by their lord, he nonetheless agrees to the match, hoping that his own wrestling skills are good enough.  

The second (extended) scene is that of a boar hunt. Hunting was something that the young squires engaged in, for entertainment, presumably, but also as part of their training. They learned about the process and ritual of the hunt, and practised skills that, as future knights, they might one day use in battle. I imagine they started out hunting small deer, and maybe foxes, but I wanted the hunting scene to have the potential for real danger. Thus I had the squires act as beaters in a hunt for boar – extremely dangerous animals. Powerful and fierce, and aggressive if cornered or protecting young, they could easily kill a dog and badly injure a man at the very least. 

However, the purpose of the hunting scene is not simply to show this aspect of the squires’ life. It has a more sinister purpose: for Edwin intends to find a way of exploiting the danger of the hunt to deliver yet another of his “pranks” against Dickon. It is important to the progress of the story.

Needless to say, I knew nothing about either wrestling or boar hunting (or indeed hunting of any sort), and so I had somehow to discover enough about both to enable me to write reasonably convincing scenes. Of course, if I was a proper, “hands-on” researcher, I’d go out hunting boar, and challenge someone to a wrestling match, so that I could obtain first-hand experience. But I’m afraid I’m way past such energetic, not to say, risky, pursuits, so I confined myself to reading as much as I could about techniques, then using my imagination to round out the narrative.

In both cases I watched YouTube videos to see how things were done. I’ve done this for other activities I needed to know something about, such as charging at the quintain with a lance under your arm, and also the gentler pursuit of making cheese. YouTube is a wonderful resource: you might be surprised what you can learn from studying films produced by practitioners of all sorts of activities, and of course historical reenactors. It’s undoubtedly not quite as good as “doing-it-yourself”, but I hope I have made it work.

So, here are a couple of snippets of the result of my research and video-watching, the first a scene of the wrestling, the second, part of the boar hunt.

The wrestling match

Standing at the edge of the clearing, on the opposite side to Edwin, and some distance from the band of witnesses, he stripped off his belt and tunic and laid them carefully on the ground. Edwin then strode forward, his chest thrust out, to the grassy centre of the clearing. One or two of the onlookers cheered.

Dickon stepped forward too. Each of them took up a stance, legs tensed, arms out.

Then Edwin lunged, grasping Dickon’s wrist with one hand and his elbow with the other. He leered as he thrust a knee forward, clearly intending to unbalance Dickon. But Dickon flicked his free hand up and drove it hard against Edwin’s inner arm, making him let go. Unbalanced then himself, Edwin staggered, giving Dickon time to grab one of his flailing hands.

Squeezing it hard, he flipped it up and twisted it at the wrist, causing Edwin to cry out, then grabbed the rest of Edwin’s arm with his other hand. Quickly putting out a leg in front of Edwin’s and pushing hard against his arm, he threw Edwin over and he fell back onto the ground.

A collective groan rose from the group of bystanders, but Edwin recovered fast and, leaping up, he glowered at Dickon. ‘Right, de Bohun,’ he hissed, ‘now you’re really for it.’ He lunged again.

At first it felt an even match in terms of strength and skill. Dickon would trounce Edwin, then Edwin would do the same to him. But, as each of them tumbled onto the grass time and time again, Dickon realised that Edwin’s energy was waning: his grip was becoming weaker, and he was finding it harder to throw him over. Yet there was still power left in his own hands. When Edwin lurched towards him yet again, but with little vigour, Dickon threw up his hands to fend him off and caught him hard upon the nose.”

The boar hunt

At the outskirts of the wood, the master gathered the squires and dog handlers together.

‘Right,’ he said, ‘our master huntsman has already confirmed there’s a goodly number of boar here today, so it’s your job now to find them. You know the drill. Look for the signs: muddy wallowing hollows in the ground, areas of uprooted soil where the beasts have grubbed for food. And, of course, footprints: you know the shape you’re looking for, with the dewclaws at the back. When we’re confident we’ve found some, we free the dogs to scent them out. You follow on, fast but never recklessly, beating the animals forward towards the huntsmen.’

A mixture of exhilaration and anxiety set Dickon’s heart thumping. He knew what he had to do. But he’d not done it before and prayed he’d make no mistakes.

At first, it all went well. They found a number of fresh wallows, and trees nearby with muddy trunks, where the boars had scraped their mucky bodies clean. The ground was cratered with so many footprints, it seemed there might be several boar drifts in the forest. At length the hounds were set loose to pick up the scent. Quiet now, but with their tails still wagging, they scurried back and forth, sniffing at the tree bark and snuffling around the undergrowth. It wasn’t long before they were off, their handlers and the beaters chasing after them.

Thank you so much for sharing. It is a nightmare when you realise you want to write a scene and have no idea how it might actually have happened. Well done:)

Here’s the blurb:

How do you overcome the loathing, lust and bitterness threatening you and your family’s honour?

It’s 1363, and in Steyning Castle, Sussex, Dickon de Bohun is enjoying life as a squire in the household of Earl Raoul de Fougère. Or he would be, if it weren’t for Edwin de Courtenay, who’s making his life a misery with his bullying, threatening to expose the truth about Dickon’s birth.

At home in Meonbridge for Christmas, Dickon notices how grown-up his childhood playmate, Libby Fletcher, has become since he last saw her and feels the stirrings of desire. Libby, seeing how different he is too, falls instantly in love. But as a servant to Dickon’s grandmother, Lady Margaret de Bohun, she could never be his wife.

Margery Tyler, Libby’s aunt, meeting her niece by chance, learns of her passion for young Dickon. Their conversation rekindles Margery’s long-held rancour against the de Bohuns, whom she blames for all the ills that befell her family, including her own servitude. For years she’s hidden her hunger for retribution, but she can no longer keep her hostility in check.

As the future Lord of Meonbridge, Dickon knows he must rise above de Courtenay’s loathing and intimidation, and get the better of him. And, surely, he must master his lust for Libby, so his own mother’s shocking history is not repeated? Of Margery’s bitterness, however, he has yet to learn…

Beset by the hazards these powerful and dangerous emotions bring, can young Dickon summon up the courage and resolve to overcome them?

Secrets, hatred and betrayal, but also love and courage – Squire’s Hazard, the fifth MEONBRIDGE CHRONICLE.

Buy Links:

This book is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/bW5yJz

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU

The paperback is available to buy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Waterstones. 

Meet the Author

CAROLYN HUGHES has lived much of her life in Hampshire. With a first degree in Classics and English, she started working life as a computer programmer, then a very new profession. But it was technical authoring that later proved her vocation, as she wrote and edited material, some fascinating, some dull, for an array of different clients, including banks, an international hotel group and medical instruments manufacturers.

Having written creatively for most of her adult life, it was not until her children flew the nest several years ago that writing historical fiction took centre stage, alongside gaining a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Portsmouth University and a PhD from the University of Southampton.

Squire’s Hazard is the fifth MEONBRIDGE CHRONICLE, and more stories about the folk of Meonbridge will follow.

You can connect with Carolyn through her website www.carolynhughesauthor.com and on social media.

Connect with the author

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I’m welcoming Julia Ibbotson and her historical romance, A Shape on the Air, to the blog #historical #timeslip #BlogTour #CoffeePotBookClub

Here’s the blurb:

A haunting Anglo-Saxon time-slip of mystery and romance

Can echoes of the past threaten the present? They are 1500 years apart, but can they reach out to each other across the centuries? One woman faces a traumatic truth in the present day. The other is forced to marry the man she hates as the ‘dark ages’ unfold.

How can Dr Viv DuLac, medievalist and academic, unlock the secrets of the past? Traumatised by betrayal, she slips into 499 AD and into the body of Lady Vivianne, who is also battling treachery. Viv must uncover the mystery of the key that she unwittingly brings back with her to the present day, as echoes of the past resonate through time. But little does Viv realise just how much both their lives across the centuries will become so intertwined. And in the end, how can they help each other across the ages without changing the course of history?

For fans of Barbara Erskine, Pamela Hartshorne, Susanna Kearsley, Christina Courtenay.

Praise for Julia Ibbotson

Praise for A Shape on the Air:

“In the best Barbara Erskine tradition …I would highly recommend this novel” – Historical Novel Society

“Amazing …a really great book …I just couldn’t put it down” – Hazel Morgan

“Well-rounded characters and a wealth of historical research make this a real page-turner” – Amazon review

“Enthralling” – Amazon review

“Julia does an incredible job of setting up the idea of time-shift so that it’s believable and makes sense” – Amazon review

“Viv/Lady Vivianne … lovely identifiable heroine in both time periods … I love her strength and vulnerability. And Rory/Roland is simply gorgeous!” – Melissa Morgan

“gripping … a very real sense of threat and danger, an enthralling mystery … a wholly convincing romance, across both timelines” – Anne Williams

Buy Links:

This novel is available on #KindleUnlimited

Universal Link: http://myBook.to/ASOTA

Amazon UK:   Amazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU

Meet the Author

Julia Ibbotson is fascinated by the medieval world and the concept of resonances across time. She sees her author brand as a historical fiction writer of romantic mysteries that are character-driven, well-paced, evocative of time and place, well-researched and uplifting page-turners. Her current series focuses on early medieval dual-time/time-slip mysteries. 

Julia read English at Keele University, England, specialising in medieval language/ literature/ history, and has a PhD in socio-linguistics. After a turbulent time in Ghana, West Africa, she became a school teacher, then a university academic and researcher. 

Her break as an author came soon after she joined the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme in 2015, with a three-book deal from Lume Books for a trilogy (Drumbeats) set in Ghana in the 1960s. She has also indie-published three other books, including A Shape on the Air, an Anglo-Saxon timeslip mystery, and its two sequels The Dragon Tree and The Rune Stone. Her latest, Daughter of Mercia, is the first of a new series of Anglo-Saxon dual time mystery/romances where echoes of the past resonate across the centuries. 

Her books will appeal to fans of Barbara Erskine, Pamela Hartshorne, Susanna Kearsley, and Christina Courtenay. Her readers say: ‘compelling character-driven novels’, ‘a skilled story-teller’, ‘evocative and well-paced storylines’, ‘incredible writing style’, ‘intricately written’, ‘absorbing and captivating’, and ‘an absolute gem of a trilogy’.

Connect with the author:

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Today, I’m delighted to feature Floats the Dark Shadow by Yves Fey on the blog #HistoricalMystery #MontmartreParis #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub

I’m delighted to share an excerpt from Floats the Dark Shadow.

Protest Against Women Being Admitted to the Ecole des Beaux Arts—Floats the Dark Shadow

“Down with women! Down with women!”

The shouts of the male students clanged in Theo’s head, as she watched them march inside the huge iron gates of the École des Beaux Arts. She had woken groggy and wretched after crying late into the night, but determined to meet Carmine here, for Mélanie’s sake.

“They are yapping dogs.” Carmine didn’t yap, she snarled.

“Puppies with power,” Theo agreed unhappily. Her headache grew worse with each angry shout. She probably should have gone back with Averill yesterday, but she’d needed to be alone after seeing Alicia in the morgue.

“Out with the women! Out! Out! Out!”

“No!” “Stop!” “Cowards!” Cries rose from the crowd as a new pack of male students drove the two distraught women students across the vast courtyard, through the gate, and into the street. The protesters outside quickly drew them into the center of a protective circle. Theo had seen the same arrogance and brutality when she marched for the vote in San Francisco. Why had she expected Frenchmen to be any better, especially when they granted their women even less power than American men did? Her friends were the exception, and even they preferred the image of the perfect muse—a seductive, destructive Salomé who would rend their souls the better to inspire their poems.

“Go back to your embroidery!” a whey-faced student taunted.

“Go back to your diapers!” Another student surged to the front of the pack. He looked like a scruffy fox—a rabid fox.  “You can use baby caca for your paints!”

“They are the ones full of caca,” Carmine fumed. “Only men can create le grand art! You remember Mélanie’s Cassandra.”

“It was beautiful!” Theo affirmed as insults pelted them like rocks. “It was everything they say art should be and it had soul. It had passion.”

“That’s why they didn’t give it an award. Too much life. Not posed pain—real pain. They need their art to be dead, like a rabbit strung up for a still life.”

The futility of Mélanie’s sacrifice tormented Theo, but Carmine brought back Mélanie’s hope for her art, her courage in fighting for what she believed. The demonstrating women shared that hope and that courage.

“Your brains are stuffed full of ruffles!” the whey-faced one sang out, winning hoots of laughter from his friends.  

Theo thrust off the smothering misery of the morgue and stalked to the gates, looking into the paved quadrangle where the irate students marched and shouted. Men she presumed to be professors and administrators hovered anxiously in the background, but some of the male students and teachers squeezed through the gates to join the growing crowd supporting the women. Turning to look across the street, Theo saw a man who must be a journalist scribbling madly in a notebook. Behind him, half-hidden in the arch of a corner doorway, a young woman watched the protesters. Theo caught her eye and beckoned her to join them. She smiled a little but shook her head, looking anxiously from side to side.

“You’re ruining everything!” a petulant voice called out. “All sorts of stupid new rules and restrictions came trailing on your petticoats.”

“We don’t need new rules!” Theo shouted back, adding her voice to the other women. “We don’t want special treatment! We want the same treatment, the same classes, the same models!”

“And the same medals!” Carmine yelled. “That’s why you’re really afraid! You’ll have to compete with women for the prizes you’ve been keeping to yourselves.”

“Why should I be afraid of that!” another student taunted. “No woman is better than I am!”

Remembering Mélanie, Theo seethed with scorn. “These women got higher scores than you did.”

That brought a deluge of cries. “Liar!” “Bribery!” “You don’t belong here!” “You belong on your backs!”

The whey-faced student yelled out above the others. “Go find yourself a husband!” 

The scruffy fox lifted his cane above his head, waving it furiously. “Yes! A husband will teach you to paint with your tongue!”

The men laughed and wagged their tongues at them. The crass insults gave Theo a surge of furious energy. “Did you swing the same cane at the Charity bazaar?” she yelled at the fox. “Did you beat your way through those women too?”

“I was never there!” he yelled back, though the whey-face one suddenly turned even paler and backed out of sight. The fox looked stunned, then shrugged off the defection.

Theo put a hand to her head, remembering the painful cut that some man had inflicted. Hot anger flowed through her. “You are just as much of a coward!” she accused the fox. “More of a coward. Your life’s not at risk—just your vanity!”

Suddenly, the woman she had seen half-hiding in the doorway darted from her haven and ran down the street. Perhaps because of their silent communication, she came straight to Theo and Carmine. She was quite petite, barely five feet. She had a gentle, shy countenance, lit by eyes full of steely determination.

“The police are coming,” she warned, pointing back down the cross street.. “I saw them at the end of the block.”

“Let’s hope they arrest these men!” Carmine said. “But with our luck, they’ll punish us for daring to protest.”

“Go now,” one of the women students said to the protesters. “But thank you for joining us.”

“We should leave,” Theo said to Carmine as the women began to disperse.

“I will walk with you to the corner and circle back around. I don’t want to be arrested!” the young woman said.

Quickly they walked down the rue Bonaparte toward the quai. “You’re American, aren’t you?” Theo asked their companion.

She nodded. “Yes, and you?”

“From Mill Valley, California. That’s near San Francisco. My name is Theodora Faraday.”

“And I am Julia Morgan. We were neighbors. I am from Oakland. I came to Paris last year because the École promised women would soon be admitted.”

“You see they will use any excuse to refuse you,” Carmine muttered, squaring her shoulders. She set her hat at a jauntier angle and plucked at her sleeves to puff them out.

“I want to study architecture,” Julia said firmly. “This is the most prestigious school in the world. There is no equivalent.”

“What are you doing meanwhile?” Carmine asked.

“I am working in the architecture atelier of Marcel de Monclos and submitting my designs to international competitions.”

“Have you won any?” Carmine asked.

“Indeed I have. I am gaining a reputation. Surely the École will admit me.”

“Surely they will,” Theo affirmed.

“Perhaps,” Carmine said gloomily.

Julia stopped when they turned the corner that brought the Seine into view. “I must go back to work.”

Bonne chance,” Theo wished her good luck. Tiny and soft-spoken as she was, Julia obviously had the tenacity to triumph over the forces allied against her sex.

Here’s the blurb:

Young American painter Theodora Faraday struggles to become an artist in Belle Époque Paris. She’s tasted the champagne of success, illustrating poems for the Revenants, a group of poets led by her adored cousin, Averill. 

When children she knows vanish mysteriously, Theo confronts Inspecteur Michel Devaux who suspects the Revenants are involved. Theo refuses to believe the killer could be a friend—could be the man she loves. Classic detection and occult revelation lead Michel and Theo through the dark underbelly of Paris, from catacombs to asylums, to the obscene ritual of a Black Mass. 

Following the maze of clues they discover the murderer believes he is the reincarnation of the most evil serial killer in the history of France—Gilles de Rais. Once Joan of Arc’s lieutenant, after her death he plunged into an orgy of evil. The Church burned him at the stake for heresy, sorcery, and the depraved murder of hundreds of peasant children. 

Whether deranged mind or demonic passion incite him, the killer must be found before he strikes again.

Buy Links:

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/3GW2BO

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CA:   Amazon AU

Barnes and NobleKoboAudioAppleBooks

Meet the Author

Yves Fey has MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Oregon, and a BA in Pictorial Arts from UCLA. Yves began drawing as soon as she could hold a crayon and writing at twelve.  

She’s been a tie dye artist, go-go dancer, creator of ceramic beasties, writing teacher, illustrator, and has won prizes for her chocolate desserts. Her current obsession is creating perfumes inspired by her Parisian characters. 

Yves lives in Albany with her mystery writer husband and their cats, Charlotte and Emily, the Flying Bronte Sisters.

Connect with the author

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Book Review – Domitian by S J A Turney – highly recommended historical fiction

Here’s the blurb:

Rome, AD 52. The Julio-Claudian dynasty is in its death throes. Over the next twenty years, chaos descends as Claudius then Nero are killed. The whole empire bucks and heaves with conspiracy, rebellion and civil war.

Out of the ashes and discord, a new imperial family emerges: the Flavians. Vespasian is crowned emperor, with his sons, Titus and Domitian, next in line.

Domitian, still only a teenager, has known only fear, death and treachery for as long as he has been alive. Suspicious of the senate as a breeding ground for treachery, and fiercely protective of his surviving family members, he uses a network of spies to stay one step ahead of any would-be conspirators.

When Titus unexpectedly falls gravely ill, the throne beckons for Domitian, something he never wanted or prepared for. As in all his darkest moments, Domitian’s childhood guardian, Nerva, is the man he turns to with his fears, and his secrets…

Domitian by S J A Turney is an engrossing story of political shenanigans in first-century AD Rome.

I’m not hugely well-read on Roman history, but through reading Turney’s books, I’ve come to appreciate just what a rich tapestry there is to weave tales of corruption, war and politics. And cor, doesn’t Domitian have it all? The narrative starts during the reign of Nero, and takes us through the year of the four emperors, when Vespasian comes out on top, through the brief rule of his son, and then onto Domitian. It’s not quite as whistlestop as it sounds, but the viewpoint Turney adopts, through the eyes of Nerva, allows the reader to stand back and watch it all happen, perhaps, like me, with an increasingly open mouth of disbelief.

This isn’t a fast read, as perhaps others of Turney’s more martial Roman stories might be, but it is absorbing. There isn’t a cast of thousands, but there are still many men who rise and fall (not so many women, but they are still included in the story), and events that we all might know more about, such as the eruption of Vesuvius and the continuing invasion of Britannia under Agricola (I see what you did there Mr Turney:)).

This is a story of politics, spies and corruption; of men who don’t want to fall into the same traps as those who went before. It is a fabulous story, and I highly, highly recommend it.

Buy Now: https://amzn.to/3gUAehY

Connect with the author:

http://www.simonturney.com/

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I’m delighted to welcome Linnea Tanner back to the blog with her new book, Skull’s Vengeance #blogtour

I’m delighted to have the opportunity to grill Linnea Tanner about her new book, Skull’s Vengeance.

Thank you, MJ, for hosting my blog tour of Skull’s Vengeance (Curse of Clansmen and Kings, Book 4) and for giving me the opportunity to discuss some of the resources I used to research the history and mythology of Celts in Roman Britain.

  1. Is there a book that first inspired your passion for the era of Roman Britain?

Although the setting of the book is toward the end of the era of Roman Britain, I was first inspired about the time period with Marion Zimmer Bradley’s novel, The Mists of Avalon. The novel explored pagan beliefs and rituals of the Celts which were being replaced by the Christian religion. This novel introduced me to the concept of a “sovereignty goddess” who confers sovereignty on a mortal king in a ritual union. The key element of their sacred marriage—his kingship—is the consummation between the king and the Goddess of the territory he is to rule over. There is a scene in The Mists of Avalon in which Arthur sleeps with his sister, Morgaine—a priestess of the Goddess—as part of the ritual to confer his kingship. 

  • Do you have non-fiction book recommendations for people who might just be discovering this period in time?

Several books about ancient Celts have been written by Professor Barry Cunliffe that describe the rise and fall of the Celtic civilization spanning from Ireland, across northern Europe, and as far as Turkey. Two of his books that I keep on my bookshelf are: The Ancient Celts and Britain Begins

  • Is there a resource that you wouldn’t be without when you’re writing your books?

I often refer to Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces for elements of the hero’s journey. Also, I keep reference books such as a thesaurus and dictionary handy. Other resources include The Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation and The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White.

  • How did you go about researching the more fantastical elements of your stories?

I use a variety of resources including Greek, Roman, and medieval historical accounts; various books about Celtic mythology; and archaeological books. Some of my favourite books include: The Celtic Heroic Age edited by John T. Koch in collaboration with John Carey; The History of the Kings of Britain by Geoffrey of Monmouth; The Religion of the Ancient Celts by J. A. MacCulloch; and The Druids by Peter Berresford Ellis.

  • Who are your favourite authors who write similar stories?

My favourite authors are Marion Zimmer Bradley and Diana L. Paxon for the Roman Britain time period. However, I’ve recently enjoyed reading novels set in the Saxon/Viking Middle Ages. One author I follow is Eric Schumacher and his character-driven, action-packed Viking series: Olaf’s Saga and Hakon’s Saga

  • Do you have a favourite place to visit in Britain?

Oh…this is like trying to choose your favourite child. I’ve had the opportunity to explore London, Hadrian’s Wall, Bath, Stonehenge, Salisbury, Canterbury, and Wales. However, I keep returning to Dover and exploring the grounds around the historical castle in which there is a well-preserved Roman lighthouse. 

Dover Castle Roman Lighthouse

One of my biggest thrills was to hike eleven miles from Deal to Dover in 2012. Right before our hike, a large wall of the Dover Cliffs collapsed into the sea of which I took a photo. 

Collapsed Wall White Cliffs

Five years after that, my husband and I brought our granddaughter with us to hike the trails around Dover. Some of the scenes in Skull’s Vengeance take place on the hilltop overlooking the city.

Hiking Dover Cliffs

Thank you so much for sharing such great answers. Marion Zimmer Bradley was definitely an influence for me as well, as was Patricia Kenneally Morrison:)

Here’s the blurb:

A Celtic warrior queen must do the impossible—defeat her sorcerer half-brother and claim the throne. But to do so, she must learn how to strike vengeance from her father’s skull.

AS FORETOLD BY HER FATHER in a vision, Catrin has become a battle-hardened warrior after her trials in the Roman legion and gladiatorial games. She must return to Britannia and pull the cursed dagger out of the serpent’s stone to fulfill her destiny. Only then can she unleash the vengeance from the ancient druids to destroy her evil half-brother, the powerful sorcerer, King Marrock. Always two steps ahead and seemingly unstoppable, Marrock can summon destructive natural forces to crush any rival trying to stop him and has charged his deadliest assassin to bring back Catrin’s head.

To have the slightest chance of beating Marrock, Catrin must forge alliances with former enemies, but she needs someone she can trust. Her only option is to seek military aid from Marcellus—her secret Roman husband. They rekindle their burning passion, but he is playing a deadly game in the political firestorm of the Julio-Claudian dynasty to support Catrin’s cause.

Ultimately, in order to defeat Marrock, Catrin must align herself with a dark druidess and learn how to summon forces from skulls to exact vengeance. But can she and Marcellus outmaneuver political enemies from Rome and Britannia in their quest to vanquish Marrock?

Trigger warnings:

Sex, Slave trafficking and abuse, Violence, Childbirth

Acclaim for other books in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series:

“[An] epic tale of love, betrayal and political intrigue.” —InD’tale Magazine

“The requisite fantasy elements of magic and mystery abound…Tanner also does an admirable job weaving in the politics and mythology of a bygone people.” —Kirkus

“Part fantasy, part historical fiction, Linnea Tanner has woven together a wonderful tale of romance, intrigue, mystery, and legend to create an entertaining and complex story.” —The International Review of Books

“[A] captivating tale of triangles; love, lust and espionage; friend, foe, and spies; barbarians, civilized Rome and spiritual-supernatural beings.” —2019 Pencraft Book of the Year Award

Buy Links

Skull’s Vengeance:

Universal:

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU

Barnes and Noble:   iTunesKoboGooglePlayBooktopia

Buy Links

Books from Curse of Clansmen and Kings series:

Apollo’s Raven

Dagger’s Destiny

Amulet’s Rapture

Skull’s Vengeance

Meet the Author

Award-winning author, Linnea Tanner, weaves Celtic tales of love, magical adventure, and political intrigue in Ancient Rome and Britannia. Since childhood, she has passionately read about ancient civilizations and mythology. Of particular interest are the enigmatic Celts, who were reputed as fierce warriors and mystical druids.


Linnea has extensively researched ancient and medieval history, mythology, and archaeology and has traveled to sites described within each of her books in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series. Books released in her series includeApollo’s Raven (Book 1), Dagger’s Destiny (Book 2), Amulet’s Rapture (Book 3), and Skull’s Vengeance (Book 4).

A Colorado native, Linnea attended the University of Colorado and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry. She lives in Fort Collins with her husband and has two children and six grandchildren.

Connect with Linnea

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Today, I’m taking part in blog tour for Warrior and Protector by Peter Gibbons #histfic #blogtour

Here’s the blurb:

The start of a brand NEW series – an unputdownable fast paced adventure, filled with unforgettable characters.

989 AD.

Alfred the Great’s dream of a united England has been forged by his daughter Aethelfaed and grandson, King Aethelstan.

The Vikings have been expelled from York following the death of Erik Bloodaxe, and for two generations there has been peace between Saxon and Dane.

A new Viking warlord Olaf Tryggvason seeks revenge for Bloodaxe’s death and the slaughter that followed, and has set his sights on a fresh assault on England’s shores. With Skarde Wartooth they set sail for Saxon lands, hungry for glory, conquest and vengeance.

Beornoth, a brutal and battle-hardened Saxon Thegn, is called to arms to fight and protect the Saxon people from the savage Norse invaders. On a personal crusade, he joins the army of Byrthnoth, Lord of the east Saxons in a desperate fight against the bloodthirsty Vikings.

Beornoth must lay his own demons to bed, survive vicious attacks and find redemption for his tragic past.

If you like Bernard Cornwell, Simon Scarrow, Conn Iggulden, and David Gemmell you will love this epic Saxon adventure packed with battles, Vikings, and adventure. 

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3RuNZ4u

My Review

Warrior and Protector takes the reader to England in the late 980s.

While England may have been largely peaceful and free from attacks from the Viking raiders for the last thirty years, Beornoth, once a respected thegn, is tormented by his own failings as a husband, warrior and father. Only the return of his despised enemy can rouse him from his drunken stupor. And luckily for Beornoth, but not for the English, the Viking raiders are about to make an unwelcome return to the eastern shores of England. Beornoth is forced to face his enemy and his past and, in the process, make a few new enemies as well.

This tale of England in the 980s resounds with the fierceness of battle-hardened men, both the English and the Viking raiders, and the concluding battle is portrayed in fierce and bloody detail.

I’m looking forward to following this series that will take readers to one of the best-known battles in Saxon England.

Meet the Author

Peter Gibbons is a financial advisor and author of the highly acclaimed Viking Blood and Blade trilogy. He comes to Boldwood with his new Saxon Warrior series, set around the 900 AD Viking invasion during the reign of King Athelred the Unready. The first title of the new series, Warrior and Protector, will be published in October 2022. He originates from Liverpool and now lives with his family in County Kildare.

Connect with Peter

Facebook: Peter Gibbons Author – Home | Facebook

Twitter: Peter Gibbons Author (@AuthorGibbons) / Twitter

Instagram: Peter Gibbons Author (@petermgibbons) • Instagram photos and videos

Bookbub profile: Peter Gibbons Books – BookBub

Follow the Warrior and Protector blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources

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Pagan King – a sneak peek (or listen) to the forthcoming audiobook

It’s not quite with us yet, but still, I want to share the wonderful audio for Pagan King, which should be available at some point in the next few weeks. It’s all uploaded, and now the waiting begins. I will share when it’s released into the wild. (I can’t even share a preorder link as it will just go live on Amazon, Audible and iTunes). Enjoy.

Sample for Pagan King read by Matt Coles
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I’m welcoming Harry Duffin and his new book Island of Dreams to the blog #HistoricalFiction #BlogTour #CoffeePotBookClub

I’m delighted to share an excerpt from Harry Duffin’s new book, Island of Dreams.

Anna wasn’t there when Jose got back from the camp kitchen. He looked around. One of the rebels seated nearby nodded and pointed into the forest. 

    The sound of one of Batista’s helicopters broke the quiet of the camp. It was lowdown, nearby. They all looked up, but the foliage of the trees was so thick it was impossible to see it. 

    Jose waited until the sound of the helicopter faded away, then picked up his rifle and went into the trees to look for Anna. She hadn’t gone far. He found her sitting with her back against a large banyan tree, whose perpendicular roots, growing upwards, looked like the columns of a tiny cathedral. 

    When she saw him, she got up, and stared at him.

    ‘Are you alright?’ he said.

    She had the opened note in her hand. ‘Is it true?’ 

    ‘What?’

    ‘Are you really a spy for the police?’ 

    ‘What?’ said Jose, shocked.

    ‘It’s what the note says.’

    ‘What? That’s crazy…! Crazy…! Let me see!’

    Anna moved away as he came towards her. Her hand moved to the butt of the pistol in her belt.

    Jose stopped. ‘Anna, this is crazy! You know that Freddie fancies you. You said that yourself. He even told your mother! He’s obviously just gone mad. He wants to break us up…Maybe he wants you to leave and go back to him. I just don’t know why he said that.’

    ‘Jose, the note was from my father. He got the information from Hans.’

    ‘Hans?’

    ‘Hans met someone in Miami. CIA, they think. He said it happened in prison. That they threatened to kidnap your sisters, and take them away to be prostitutes in America.’

    Jose looked at the ground, and then this way and that. 

    ‘Is that true, Jose?’

    Finally, Jose looked at Anna. ‘I wanted to protect them, Anna. The police can do what they want. I couldn’t stop them…Clara is just eleven years-old!’

    ‘Jose, why didn’t you tell me?’

    ‘There was nothing you could have done! You were only safe because you were with me…I didn’t want to do it, Anna!’

    Anna was breathing deeply now. At first, she didn’t believe the note. She had to read it several times, to see what her father said was true. But she knew her father would never lie to her. He must believe it, and Jose had just confirmed it. 

    ‘Did you kill Nico?’

    ‘No…I just suggested it was him. To take suspicion from me. Because of the police raid at your house.’

    ‘When you hid the printing machine. You knew it was going to happen?’

    She looked at Jose, whose head and shoulders had slumped. 

    ‘Did you plant the bomb that nearly killed Hans?’

    Jose looked up at Anna, with tears in his eyes.  ‘He was the obvious choice…because he delivered the radio. The transmitter.’

    ‘You planted the bomb to kill my brother?’ She took her pistol from her belt.

    ‘You’re going to shoot me?’

    ‘No. I’m going to take you to the camp. And let Ché decide what to do.’

    Jose slowly slipped the rifle from his shoulder. Anna raised her gun, and pointed it at Jose’s chest. As Jose swung the rifle up, Anna’s finger tightened on the trigger. He put the muzzle under his chin.

    ‘I love you, Anna.’

    The crack of the rifle bullet, shattered the silence of the forest. 

   Anna stared at the prone figure of Jose. He had fallen backwards, so she couldn’t see the gaping hole that had scattered his brains up into the trees. Dropping to her knees, she put her hands to her face and began to cry. 

 ‘Oh, Jose,’ she muttered. ‘Jose, why didn’t you tell me…? We could have done something!’ she said through her tears.

    Slowly, she looked up. They would have heard the sound of the shot in the camp and would come looking for them. They might be watching her now from the undergrowth, seeing what had happened before approaching her. She’d show them her father’s letter, and they would understand. But Jose would have been shot anyway. There was no way they could guard and drag a prisoner around, as they moved from place to place, attacking the army, and then hiding from them. Maybe suicide was the best way for Jose. 

    She got up and put the note in the top pocket of her fatigues. There was no way she was going to leave Jose’s body where it was, to be eaten by the forest animals. She needed to go to the camp and get them to help burying him.

    Suddenly, the roar of the helicopter crashed through the leaves. They must have heard the rifle shot and come back to investigate. Then, she heard rat-tat-tat of its machine gun, raining death through the foliage. She dived for cover beneath the banyan tree. 

    There was firing from the camp, aiming for a helicopter. She felt the ‘whoosh’ of a mortar landing close by. The pilot must have given an army unit the co-ordinates. She knew she had to get away from the attack. Crawling on her hands and knees along the ground, she felt a massive shock-wave lift her up, and hurl her through the ferns. Then she was falling. Huge, stinging leaves and jagged branches slapped and tore her skin. It was a long fall, through damp air and silence, except for the silent scream in her brain. 

    And then, blackness…

*******

Here’s the blurb:

In May 1939, when Professor Carl Mueller, his wife, Esther, and their three children flee Nazi Germany, and find refuge on the paradise island of Cuba, they are all full of hopes and dreams for a safe and happy future.  

But those dreams are shattered when Carl and Esther are confronted by a ghost from their past, and old betrayals return to haunt them. 

The turbulent years of political corruption leading to Batista’s dictatorship, forces the older children to take very different paths to pursue their own dangerous dreams. 

And – among the chaos and the conflict that finally leads to Castro’s revolution and victory in 1959, an unlikely love begins to grow – a love that threatens the whole family. 

Having escaped a war-torn Europe, their Island of Dreams is to tear them apart forever.

Buy Links:   

Publication date: December 2022. 

This title will be available on Amazon and on #KindleUnlimited.

Meet the author

Harry Duffin is an award-winning British screenwriter, who was on the first writing team of the BBC’s ‘Eastenders’ and won the Writers’ Guild Award for Best TV serial for ‘Coronation Street’. 

He was Head of Development at Cloud 9 Screen Entertainment Group, producing seven major television series, including ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ starring Richard ‘John Boy’ Thomas, and ‘Twist in the Tale’, featuring William Shatner. 

He was the co-creator of the UK Channel Five teen-cult drama series ‘The Tribe’, which ran for five series. 

He has written three novels, Chicago MayBirth of the Mall Rats [an intro to the TV series ‘The Tribe’], and Island of Dreams, which will be published in December 2022.

Chicago May is the first book of a two-part series: www.chicagomay.com

Connect with Harry

Website:    Twitter:     

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With the rerelease of the Earl of Mercia’s Father, a post about the family of Ealdorman Leofwine, Saxon England and the position of ealdormen/earls

I’m so excited to share that the first book in my Earls of Mercia series is once more available via Amazon Kindle. With the rerelease of the book, I wanted to share a little about what drew me to this story over a decade ago.

Ealdorman Leofwine , was the ealdorman of the Hwicce (c.994-1023), one of the ancient tribal regions in Mercia, which was a part of England, at the time the story begins. It is possible he may have been related to Ælfwine, who is named, and dies at the Battle of Maldon (more below).

Ealdorman Leofwine and his descendants, who would hold positions of power until the Norman Conquest of 1066, are a unique family in this tumultuous period. No other family, apart from the ruling family of Wessex (and even then there was a minor hiccup caused by those pesky Danish kings) held a position of such power and influence and for such a long period of time, as far as is currently known. The position of ealdorman was not hereditary. It was a position in the gift of the king, and Saxon kings ruled with a varying number of ealdormen. To understand Leofwine’s significance, it’s important to understand this. Unlike an earl – a term we are all perhaps far more familiar with – but specifically a medieval earl in this regard – that position was both more often than not hereditary AND meant that the person involved ‘owned’ significant properties in the area they were earls over. This is not how the ealdormanic system worked in Saxon England, as it’s currently understood.

It is difficult to track many of the ealdormanic families of this period, and the previous century, but there are a few notable individuals, all who bucked the usual trend, which no doubt accounts for why we know who they are.

Perhaps most well-known is Ealdorman Athelstan Half-King, who was the ealdorman of East Anglia from about 934 to 955/6 when he fell from favour at court during the reign of King Eadwig and retired to Glastonbury Abbey. Before he did so, he ensured that his son, Æthelwald, was elevated to the position of ealdorman in his place. This was most unusual, but then, he came from a powerful family, fiercely loyal to the ruling House of Wessex, if not actually a member of them. Athelstan Half-King is believed to have been the son of Ealdorman Æthelfrith, a Mercian ealdorman when Lady Æthelflæd was the Lady of Mercia. Athelstan was one of four brothers. His older brother seems to have either briefly retained the ealdordom after their father’s death in Mercia, or been accorded it a few years later, but when he died, Athelstan Half-King didn’t become ealdorman of Mercia in his place. No, he remained in East Anglia while his two brothers, Eahric and Æthelwald, held ealdordoms in Wessex (Eahric) and Kent (Æthelwald). They didn’t become the ealdorman of Mercia either. The ealdordom passed to a different individual.

When Ealdorman Æthelwald of the East Angles died a few short years later (Athelstan Half-King’s son), his place was taken by Ealdorman Æthelwine, the youngest of Athelstan Half-King’s children. But, the family failed to hold on to the position, despite Ealdorman Æthelwine being married three times, and fathering three sons, one of whom died at the battle of Assandun in 1016. The next to hold the ealdordom of the East Angles after the death of Æthelwine was Leofsige, who was the ealdorman until he fell foul of the king in 1002. In the early 1000s Ulfcytel emerges and may have been married to one of the king’s daughters, but is never officially accorded the title of ealdorman.

Another famous ealdorman was Byrhtnoth of Essex, who died at the Battle of Maldon in 991. But Byrhtnoth was not the son of the previous ealdorman, and indeed, he married the daughter of a very wealthy man and in turn was raised to an ealdordom in Essex at exactly the same time that Ealdorman Athelstan Half-King was being forced to retire from his position in East Anglia. (Byrhtnoth’s wife’s sister had briefly been married to King Edmund (939-946, before his murder). While there are some arguments that Byrhtnoth was from a well regarded family, his appointment was not because of an hereditary claim. It’s known that he was father to a daughter, but not to a son. As such his family did not retain the ealdordom on his death. Indeed, it seems as though Essex and the East Anglian earlordoms were united for a time under Leofsige.

The argument has been put forth that the position of ealdorman may have come with properties that were the king’s to gift to the individual to enable them to carry out their duties in a particular area. The Saxons had a number of types of land tenure, bookland, was land of which the ‘owners’ held the ‘book’ or ‘the title deed.’ (There are some wonderful charters where landed people had to ask for the king to reissue a charter as theirs was lost, often in a fire. There is a wonderful example where King Edgar has to reissue a charter for his grandmother, as he’d lost it while it was in his care). Other land tenure was ‘loan land,’ that is land that could be loaned out, often for a set number of ‘lives.’ Ealdormen might then have held bookland that was hereditary, and not in the area they were ealdorman of, and loan land that was in the king’s to gift to them within the area that they were the appointed ealdorman.

Many will be familiar with the family of Earl Godwin and his sons (thanks to the influence of the Danes, the term ealdorman was replaced by earl, which was the anglicised version of jarl). Much work has been done on the land that the Godwin family held when the great Domesday survey was undertaken during the reign of William the Conqueror. It will quickly become apparent that while they had areas where they held a great deal of land, these were not necessarily the areas over which first Godwin and then his sons Tostig, Harold, Gyrth, Leofwine and Sweyn held the position of earl. Most notably, Tostig was earl of Northumbria from 1055-1065, and yet the family had almost no landed possessions there.

And this is where we return to Ealdorman Leofwine and his family. While everyone knows about Earl Godwin and his sons, they didn’t hold their position for as long as Ealdorman Leofwine and his family. Earl Godwine is first named as an earl in charter S951 dated to 1018. By that period, Leofwine of the Twice had already held a position of importance since 994. The families of both men would converge as the events of 1066 drew nearer, and indeed, Godwine’s son, Harold, was married to Ealdorman Leofwine’s great-granddaughter when he was briefly king of England.

When Ealdorman Leofwine died, his son, Leofric, didn’t become ealdorman in his place. Leofric was a sheriff during the period between his father’s death and his own appointment. And indeed, Leofric’s son, Ælfgar was elevated to an earldom before his father’s death, and so was not initially the earl of Mercia. However, on this occasion, and because of a political situation that was rife with intrigue, Ælfgar did become the earl of Mercia after his father’s death, and after Ælfgar’s death, his young son also took the earldom of Mercia. The family survived the events of 1066, but they didn’t retain their hold on the earldom. The House of Leofwine were a family to not only rival that of Earl Godwine’s, as far as it’s known, but they were also the ONLY family to retain a position as an ealdorman/earl for over seventy years. And yet, very few know about them, and indeed, in many non-fiction books, they’re not even mentioned. And that was the perfect opportunity for me to write about the fabulous family, largely inspired by a non-fiction book, The Earls of Mercia: Lordship and Power in Late Anglo-Saxon England by Stephen Baxter.

books2read.com/TheEarlofMerciasFather

The Earl of Mercia’s Father is available in ebook and paperback, as well as being in Kindle Unlimited.

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I’m reviewing Spruced up for Murder by Helen Golden #cozycrime #blogtour #NewRelease

Death at Francis Court Now Confirmed as Murder!

Speculation is rife that the victim, estate manager Alex Sterling (44), was found by Lady Beatrice (35), the Countess of Rossex, niece of King James. Lady Beatrice, who has finally come out of hiding following her son’s departure to boarding school, has been managing the project to refurbish and redesign the Events Suite at Francis Court, alongside Perry Juke.

Heading up the murder investigation is Detective Chief Inspector Richard Fitzwilliam. Rumour has it that he and Lady Beatrice have a fractious history…

Awful man! How dare Fitzwilliam suggest Lady Beatrice’s sister is the number one suspect for Alex’s murder. It could be any one of the staff who were on-site that morning. Well, she’ll show Mr High and Mighty Fitzwilliam! With her attention to detail, her clever dog Daisy, Perry’s imagination, and his partner’s contacts at Fenshire CID, they’ll find the murderer before him. 

Unless the murderer finds her first…

Purchase Links

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Spruced-Murder-Right-Royal-Investigation-ebook/dp/B0BDGN7PSB

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Spruced-Murder-Right-Royal-Investigation-ebook/dp/B0BDGN7PSB

My Review

Spruced up for Murder is a really enjoyable cosy mystery with just the right amount of action and suspense, and I confess, it was one that kept me guessing until almost the end.

Lady Beatrice has been living in semi-seclusion since the death of her husband, some years earlier in mysterious circumstances, concentrating on raising her son. But, now that he’s away to boarding school, her mother and sister have plans afoot to get her out of her seclusion. Only while busily refurbishing one of the event rooms at her family home (open to the public and complete with a cafe – which is very important to this story, as is the local pub) a body is discovered.

The mystery that follows is well thought out, and the author does a really good job of making it quite complex, with a number of really well-fleshed-out characters along the way. There is a skeleton in the closet, which soon worms its way into this investigation, and there are more than enough shady characters for the reader to suspect. As well as a slightly too straight-laced cop who gets right under Lady Beatrice’s skin for reasons that will soon become clear.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, so much so that I’ve already nabbed books 2 and 3 in the series and will be reviewing them over the next few months. This gets one of my, so I’ve been told, quite rare 5/5 stars over on Goodreads. I really loved the little news snippets the author weaves into the story from the local society rag. If you love a cosy mystery, then you will really enjoy this one:)

Meet the author

Hello. I’m Helen Golden. I write British contemporary cozy whodunnits with a hint of humour. I live in small village in Lincolnshire in the UK with my husband, my step-daughter, her two cats, our two dogs, sometimes my step-son, and our tortoise.

I used to work in senior management, but after my recent job came to a natural end I had the opportunity to follow my dreams and start writing. It’s very early in my life as an author, but so far I’m loving it.

It’s crazy busy at our house, so when I’m writing I retreat to our caravan (an impulsive lockdown purchase) which is mostly parked on our drive. When I really need total peace and quiet, I take it to a lovely site about 15 minutes away and hide there until my family runs out of food or clean clothes

Connect with Helen

insta – https://www.instagram.com/helengolden_author/

Tik Tok – https://www.tiktok.com/@helengoldenauthor   

Website – https://helengoldenauthor.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/helengoldenauthor

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I’m delighted to welcome Elizabeth St. John and her new book, The Godmother’s Secret to the blog #HistoricalFiction #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub

I’m delighted to welcome Elizabeth St John to the blog to tell me a bit more about the research she undertook when writing The Godmother’s Secret.

If you knew the fate of the Princes in the Tower, would you tell? Or forever keep the secret?

In a complete moment of serendipity, I discovered that a 15th century ancestress, Elysabeth St.John, was the godmother to Edward V, the eldest brother of the missing Princes in the Tower. When I was looking for inspiration for my new book, The Godmother’s Secret, I literally entered my own name into our digitised family tree to see who else was recorded. I had just completed my 17th Century historical fiction trilogy “The Lydiard Chronicles” and was looking for a whole new generation to fall in love with. As a little background, my books are inspired by my own family stories that I have discovered through our ancestral records, diaries, letters, and the locations they lived in. I’m fortunate the St.John family was prominent in English history, and so we left quite a trail—which can be both good and bad! 

So, back to Elysabeth St.John, Lady Scrope. In medieval times, a godmother was considered a blood relative, and was responsible for the spiritual wellbeing and security of their godchild. A serious commitment. Where the history gets interesting is Elysabeth St.John was also the half-sister to Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII. Elysabeth’s husband, Lord John Scrope, was a close ally and relative of Richard III. Margaret was married to Thomas Stanley, a powerful northern lord an ally of Edward IV and Richard III. So not only was Elysabeth (a Lancastrian) godmother to the York heir, and married to a fervent York supporter, she was also aunt to the Tudor claimant. For anyone familiar with the Wars of the Roses, and the ultimate battle at Bosworth Field, you’ll know how that worked out. Talk about family feuds! 

My plot revolves around Elysabeth’s vow as godmother and her desperate efforts to protect her 12-year-old godson, Edward V, from the intrigue and betrayal that surrounds him after she delivers him to the Tower of London for his coronation.  He was automatically king upon the death of his Edward IV (“the king never dies”). However, he had yet to be anointed when the Duke of Buckingham moved Edward into the Tower for his own safekeeping and to prepare for his coronation. In my novel, Elysabeth is navigating her own conflict, upholding her loyalty to both her husband and her sister as competing factions battle for the throne. More than anything, Elysabeth defies the bounds of blood and loyalty to make her own decisions for her godson’s survival in a hostile medieval world where women had little authority.

And remember, the princes went missing. Their bodies were never discovered, and no one was ever found guilty of murdering them. Even the bones that are claimed to be theirs in Westminster Abbey are not authenticated. Their disappearance is the biggest mystery in English history. As a historical fiction novelist, I could weave in genuine family facts and create my version of their story. About halfway through the first draft I came across a piece of research (basically a dynastic marriage) that made my story plausible, which was really exciting. As far as if my version is true? It’s historical fiction. As writers, we create narratives from the known facts, sift through rumours and gossip until we find the source – or can dismiss them. 

The White Tower Tower of London view from The Bloody Tower

Of course, wading into the biggest controversy in English history is bound to raise some eyebrows. Did Richard III kill his nephews? Was Margaret Beaufort to blame? Why did the Duke of Buckingham suddenly rebel after the princes disappeared? Or was the whole murder accusation Tudor propaganda? I hope readers enjoy the way I’ve presented the story of the Princes in the Tower.

Wow, what a fabulous story, and connection. Thank you so much for sharing. Good luck with the new book.

Here’s the blurb:

What if you knew what happened to the Princes in the Tower. Would you tell? Or would you forever keep the secret?

November, 1470: Westminster Abbey. Lady Elysabeth Scrope faces a perilous royal duty when ordered into sanctuary with Elizabeth Woodvillewitness the birth of Edward IV’s Yorkist son. Margaret Beaufort, Elysabeth’s sister, is desperately seeking a pardon for her exiled son Henry Tudor. Strategically, she coerces Lancastrian Elysabeth to be appointed godmother to Prince Edward, embedding her in the heart of the Plantagenets and uniting them in a destiny of impossible choices and heartbreaking conflict.

Bound by blood and torn by honour, when the king dies and Elysabeth delivers her young godson into the Tower of London to prepare for his coronation, she is engulfed in political turmoil. Within months, the prince and his brother have disappeared, Richard III is declared king, and Margaret conspires with Henry Tudor to invade England and claim the throne. Desperate to protect her godson, Elysabeth battles the intrigue, betrayal and power of the last medieval court, defying her husband and her sister under her godmother’s sacred oath to keep Prince Edward safe.

Were the princes murdered by their uncle, Richard III? Was the rebel Duke of Buckingham to blame? Or did Margaret Beaufort mastermind their disappearance to usher in the Tudor dynasty? Of anyone at the royal court, Elysabeth has the most to lose–and the most to gain–by keeping secret the fate of the Princes in the Tower.    

Inspired by England’s most enduring historical mystery, Elizabeth St.John, best-selling author of The Lydiard Chronicles, blends her own family history with known facts and centuries of speculation to create an intriguing alternative story illuminating the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower. 

Buy Links:

This title is on #KindleUnlimited. 

Universal Link: https://geni.us/GodmothersSecret

Amazon UKAmazon US:   Amazon CA:   Amazon AU:  

Meet Elizabeth St. John

Elizabeth St.John spends her time between California, England, and the past. An acclaimed author, historian, and genealogist, she has tracked down family papers and residences from Lydiard Park and Nottingham Castle to Richmond Palace and the Tower of London to inspire her novels. Although the family sold a few country homes along the way (it’s hard to keep a good castle going these days), Elizabeth’s family still occupy them— in the form of portraits, memoirs, and gardens that carry their legacy. And the occasional ghost. But that’s a different story.

Having spent a significant part of her life with her seventeenth-century family while writing The Lydiard Chronicles trilogy and Counterpoint series, Elizabeth St.John is now discovering new family stories with her fifteenth-century namesake Elysabeth St.John Scrope, and her half-sister, Margaret Beaufort.

Connect with Elizabeth

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I’m delighted to be taking part in the Murder in Tuscany by TA Williams blog tour #cosymystery

Here’s the blurb:

A remote retreat…

Nestled high in the Tuscan hills lies Villa Volpone, home to renowned crime writer Jonah Moore and his creative writing course. It’s also the last place retired DCI Dan Armstrong expected to spend his retirement! Dan’s no writer, but maybe this break will help him to think about the next chapter in his own life story?

A gruesome murder…

But only days into the course, Jonah Moore is found stabbed to death with his award-winning silver dagger! And Dan finds himself pulled out of retirement with a killer to catch.

Eleven possible suspects.

The other guests all seem shocked by Jonah’s death, but Dan knows that one of them must be lying. And as he and Italian Commissario Virgilio Pisano begin to investigate it quickly becomes clear that everyone at Villa Volpone has secrets to hide…

But can Dan discover who the murderer is before they strike again?

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/3Pnw7q3

My Review

Murder in Tuscany is a sun-drenched tale of an erotic writer’s retreat marred by the murder of the alleged ‘bestselling’ author running the event.

Retired DCI Dan Armstrong, dreaming of writing that bestseller, has been set up by his ‘mates’ in the police force with the unusual retirement gift of a 2-week writing course in Tuscany. The only catch is that it’s for writing erotic fiction when Dan dreams of writing historical fiction about the Medici. What follows is a gentle and engaging tale of writers, would-be-writers, and course leaders, all mixed up with a touch of intrigue, and then, at about 30% through the book, the murder, which Dan ends up feeling honour-bound to help solve, and not just because his Italian counterpart in the police is missing his English speaking deputy. And it is quite a strange murder when the true facts slowly start to reveal themselves.

This is a tale that will amuse writers, but there’s also more than enough in here for fans of cosy mysteries. There’s a lot of eating and descriptions of Italian food as Dan begins to fall in love with the place so that by the end of the book, the soon-to-be-divorced ex-police inspector is making some big changes in his life.

Much of Murder in Tuscany is certainly setting up this character and place for future investigations, but the story still has a very much ‘closed-room’ feel of a country house murder mystery, with some surprisingly modern takes.

I thoroughly enjoyed Murder in Tuscany, and I look forward to reading more in the series.

Meet the author

T A Williams is the author of over twenty bestselling romances for HQ and Canelo and is now turning his hand to cosy crime, set in his beloved Italy, for Boldwood. The series will introduce us to retired DCI Armstrong and his labrador Oscar and the first book, entitled Murder in Tuscany, will be published in October 2022. Trevor lives in Devon with his Italian wife.

Connect with T A Williams

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrevorWilliamsBooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TAWilliamsBooks

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Today, I’m delighted to welcome Jane Davis and her new book, Small Eden, to the blog #HistoricalFiction #TheCoffeePotBookClub #BlogTour

Today, I’m welcoming Jane Davis to the blog with a fascinating post about her new book, Small Eden.

In England’s Green and Pleasant Land

In Victorian England, Carshalton and nearby Mitcham were known for their physic gardens, where plants were grown for medicinal and cosmetic use. Peppermint, lavender, camomile, aniseed, rhubarb, and liquorice were stable crops but today the name Carshalton is best associated with lavender growing. Of the many lavender farms that used to exist, only two remain. Mayfield Lavender is the larger of the two. In the summer months, people come a long way to see it. https://www.mayfieldlavender.com/

Lavender Fields (copyright, author)

At a time when few women ran their own businesses, I was delighted to stumble across the story of Sarah Sprules. Sarah had worked alongside her father in his physic garden and took over his business after he died. Her produce was known worldwide. Her lavender water won medals at exhibitions in Jamaica and Chicago, but the highest accolade she held was her Royal Warrant to supply lavender oil to Queen Victoria, bestowed on her after the Queen and Princess Louise visited her during August 1886. The royal connection proved especially beneficial as Queen Victoria had so many European relatives. 

But that wasn’t all. it was the discovery that Mitcham was once the opium-growing capital of the UK that made me decide my leading man, Robert Cooke, should be a physic gardener. This chapter has been written out of the history books, but in the nineteenth century, far from having a seedy reputation, opium use was respectable. Queen Victoria’s household ordered opium from the royal apothecary, and Prime Minister William Gladstone is said to have drunk opium tea before important speeches. It was used an anaesthetic, in sedatives, for the relief of headaches, migraines, sciatica, as a cough suppressant, to treat pneumonia, and for the relief of abdominal complaints and women’s cramps.

Mrs Beeton’s famous Book of Household Management recommended that no household should be without a supply of powdered opium and laudanum, and she included a recipe for laudanum. But awareness of its dangers was beginning to spread. 

Opium Poppy or Papaver somniferum, vintage engraved illustration. Trousset encyclopedia (1886 – 1891). (Image licensed to author)

Short Matching Excerpt from Small Eden

It was Freya who first showed him Dr Bull’s Hints to Mothers, a pamphlet highlighting the dangers of opiates in the nursery. Of course he doesn’t agree with the practice of dosing up babies so that they sleep all day, he told his wife, but yes, he’s aware it goes on. Working mothers have little choice but to leave children for hours at a time, so they doctor their gripe-water. And it’s not just the poor. Mothers read the labels that say Infant Preservative and Soothing Syrup. They think that ‘purely herbal’ and ‘natural ingredients’ means that products are safe. Though it was chilling to read about case after case of infant deaths linked to over-use.

As many as a third of infant deaths in industrial cities.

And he, who has buried two sons.

But even Dr Bull didn’t condemn the use of opiates outright. They are medicines, he wrote, and like any medicine, ought to be prepared by pharmacists. The trouble is, Robert told Freya, that until recently any Tom, Dick or Harry could operate a pharmacy. And hasn’t he been vocal in his support for an overhaul of the system?

***

Why did it take so long for opium to be banned?

In the 19th Century, Great Britain fought two wars to crush Chinese efforts to restrict its importation. Why? Because opium was vital to the British economy. And then there was the thorny issue of class. The upper and middle classes saw the heavy use of laudanum among the lower classes as ‘misuse’; however they saw their own use of opiates was seen as necessary, and certainly no more than a ‘habit’. Addiction wasn’t yet recognised. That would come later.

The anti-opium movement

In 1874, a group of Quaker businessmen formed The Society for the Suppression of the Opium Trade. Then in 1888 Benjamin Broomhall formed the Christian Union for the Severance of the British Empire with the Opium Traffic. Together, their efforts ensured that the British public were aware of the anti-opium campaign.

Short Matching Excerpt from Small Eden

“Indulge me if you will while I explain how the Indian trade operates – a system that the House of Commons condemned this April last. The East India Company – with whom I’m sure you are familiar – created the Opium Agency. Two thousand five hundred clerks working from one hundred offices administer the trade. The Agency offers farmers interest-free advances, in return for which they must deliver strict quotas. What’s so wrong with that? you may ask. What is wrong, my friends, is that the very same Agency sets the price farmers are paid for raw opium, and it isn’t enough to cover the cost of rent, manure and irrigation, let alone any labour the farmer needs to hire. And Indian producers don’t have the option of selling to higher bidders. Fail to deliver their allocated quota and they face the destruction of their crops, prosecution and imprisonment. What we have is two thousand five hundred quill-pushers forcing millions of peasants into growing a crop they would be better off without. And this, this, is the Indian Government’s second largest source of revenue. Only land tax brings in more.”

More muttering, louder. The shaking of heads and jowls.

“I propose a motion. That in the opinion of this meeting, traffic in opium is a bountiful source of degradation and a hindrance to the spread of the gospel.” Quakers are not the types to be whipped up into a frenzy of moral indignation, but their agreement is enthusiastic. “Furthermore, I contend that the Indian Government should cease to derive income from its production and sale.”

Robert looks about. Surely he can’t be the only one to wonder what is to replace the income the colonial government derives from opium? Ignoring this – and from a purely selfish perspective, provided discussion is limited to Indian production – his business will be unaffected. Seeing his neighbours raise their hands to vote, Robert lifts his own to half-mast. Beside him, Smithers does likewise.

***

The time comes when Robert Cooke must make a choice. He can either diversify, or he can gamble that the government will ban cheap foreign imports and that the price of domestic produce will rise. Robert Cooke is a risk-taker. He decides to specialise, and that decision will cost him dearly. It may even cost him his family. 

Thank you so much for such a fascinating post. Good luck with your new book.

Here’s the blurb:

A boy with his head in the clouds. A man with a head full of dreams.  

1884. The symptoms of scarlet fever are easily mistaken for teething, as Robert Cooke and his pregnant wife Freya discover at the cost of their two infant sons. Freya immediately isolates for the safety of their unborn child. Cut off from each other, there is no opportunity for husband and wife to teach each other the language of their loss. By the time they meet again, the subject is taboo. But unspoken grief is a dangerous enemy. It bides its time.

A decade later and now a successful businessman, Robert decides to create a pleasure garden in memory of his sons, in the very same place he found refuge as a boy – a disused chalk quarry in Surrey’s Carshalton. But instead of sharing his vision with his wife, he widens the gulf between them by keeping her in the dark. It is another woman who translates his dreams. An obscure yet talented artist called Florence Hoddy, who lives alone with her unmarried brother, painting only what she sees from her window… 

Buy Links:

Universal Link

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU

Barnes and NobleWaterstones:    (POD) / Trade paperback – Waterstones

FoylesKoboiBooksSmashwords:

Meet the author

Hailed by The Bookseller as ‘One to Watch’, Jane Davis writes thought-provoking literary page turners.

She spent her twenties and the first half of her thirties chasing promotions in the business world but, frustrated by the lack of a creative outlet, she turned to writing.

Her first novel, ‘Half-Truths and White Lies’, won a national award established with the aim of finding the next Joanne Harris. Further recognition followed in 2016 with ‘An Unknown Woman’ being named Self-Published Book of the Year by Writing Magazine/the David St John Thomas Charitable Trust, as well as being shortlisted in the IAN Awards, and in 2019 with ‘Smash all the Windows’ winning the inaugural Selfies Book Award. Her novel, ‘At the Stroke of Nine O’Clock’ was featured by The Lady Magazine as one of their favourite books set in the 1950s, selected as a Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choice, and shortlisted for the Selfies Book Awards 2021.

Interested in how people behave under pressure, Jane introduces her characters when they are in highly volatile situations and then, in her words, she throws them to the lions. The themes she explores are diverse, ranging from pioneering female photographers, to relatives seeking justice for the victims of a fictional disaster.

Jane Davis lives in Carshalton, Surrey, in what was originally the ticket office for a Victorian pleasure gardens, known locally as ‘the gingerbread house’. Her house frequently features in her fiction. In fact, she burnt it to the ground in the opening chapter of ‘An Unknown Woman’. In her latest release, Small Eden, she asks the question why one man would choose to open a pleasure gardens at a time when so many others were facing bankruptcy?

When she isn’t writing, you may spot Jane disappearing up the side of a mountain with a camera in hand.

Connect with Jane:

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Today, I’m delighted to share my review for Victoria and Violet by Rachel Brimble #blogtour #historicalfiction #historicalromance

Here’s the blurb:

It should be a dream come true to serve the Queen of England…

When Violet Parker is told she will be Queen Victoria’s personal housemaid, she cannot believe her good fortune. She finally has the chance to escape her overbearing mother, a servant to the Duchess of Kent. 

Violet hopes to explore who she is and what the world has to offer without her mother’s schemes overshadowing her every thought and action.

Then she meets James Greene, assistant to the queen’s chief political adviser, Lord Melbourne. From entirely different backgrounds and social class, Violet and James should have neither need nor desire to speak to one another, yet through their service, their paths cross and their lives merge—as do their feelings.

Only Victoria’s court is not always the place for romance, but rather secrets, scandals, and conspiracies…

Purchase Links 

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Victoria-Violet-Royal-Maids-Book-ebook/dp/B0B6T47ZX5

US – https://www.amazon.com/Victoria-Violet-Royal-Maids-Book-ebook/dp/B0B6T47ZX5

My Review

Victoria and Violet is a beautifully evoked story of Queen Victoria and her court, in the days before and during her marriage to Prince Albert. I won’t be alone in having read other books and watched film adaptations about the young Victoria, and Victoria and Violet really does capture the feel and mood of the royal court.

Violet is that most typical of women of the era, her life revolving around the will of another, only on this occasion, her mother, and her mother’s employer, Victoria’s mother, the Duchess of Kent. And we all know that’s not going to end well. Only, while she might be sent to spy on Queen Victoria, Victoria quickly strikes up a friendship with her maid and together, the two seem to be able to conquer just about anything the Duchess of Kent puts in their way.

James Greene too is not able to do what he wants, an expectant father, who was also a brutal father, expecting him home to run a prosperous estate, whereas James is keen to continue his work with Melbourne, the Prime Minister, and then Prince Albert himself.

This is a story filled with twists and turns. Will James and Violet fall in love? Will they be able to live their lives together? Or will his father, and her mother, force them apart?

This really is a delightful tale, well researched and very well grounded in the era and period. I’m really pleased I decided to read it:)

Meet the author

Rachel lives in a small town near Bath, England. She is the author of 29 published novels including the Ladies of Carson Street trilogy, the Shop Girl series (Aria Fiction) and the Templeton Cove Stories (Harlequin). Her latest novel, Victoria & Violet is the first book in her new Royal Maids series with the Wild Rose Press.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association as well as the Historical Novel Society and has thousands of social media followers all over the world. 

Connect with Rachel

Website: https://bit.ly/3wH7HQs

Twitter: https://bit.ly/3AQvK0A

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Today, I’m reviewing the short story collection, Love, Loss and Life in Between by Suzanne Rogerson #blogtour #blogblitz

Here’s the blurb:

This collection of short stories gives a glimpse into life, love, loss, and the inexplicable in between.

Including themes of grief, finding hope and second chances, facing the consequences of your actions and getting help from the unlikeliest of places.

·        As Cecilia helps the dying, she questions what happens to their spirits. But is she ready to find out?

·        Can a mother’s race through the New Forest save her son?

·        Will visiting a medium bring Christina the closure she needs?

·        Can an intruder help an old lady with her loneliness?

·        Will the start of another wet and miserable Monday morning end with Maeve’s happy ever after?

This anthology includes the prize-winning flash fiction story – ‘Spirit Song’.

Judge’s critique – ‘Unusual, emotional, warm, surprising — a warm, unusual story. It moved me when I read it.’

Full story list:

Spirit Song

Goodbye Forever

Garden Therapy

Starting Over

A Cat-Shaped Hole

The Phone Call

Knocked Off Her Feet

Catalyst

Not Just For Christmas

A Mermaid’s Tail

From the author of fantasy novels Visions of Zarua and ‘Silent Sea Chronicles trilogy’, this short story collection features multiple genres including romance, supernatural and thriller.

Purchase Link – https://mybook.to/LoveLoss

My Review

Love, Loss and Life In Between is a really lovely collection of short stories focusing on acceptance, moving on and recovery. I confess, I feared the stories might be upsetting, but they really weren’t. Garden Therapy, with its slight otherworldliness was delightful, and A Mermaid’s Tale was a beautiful account of a young girl coming to terms with the loss of her mother, whereas Catalyst was quite edgy. Not Just for Christmas is a tale many pet owners with feel resonates with them.

This really was a delightful collection of short stories. The author has a lovely turn of phrase and manages to evoke strong feelings in her characters which make them believable, so that in only a few words the reader is already rooting for them. Highly recommended, as was the author’s previous short story collection, of which you can find the review here.

Meet the author

Suzanne lives in Middlesex, England with her husband, two teenagers, a crazy cocker spaniel and an adopted cat that thinks she’s the boss.

Suzanne’s writing journey began at the age of twelve when she completed her first novel. She discovered the fantasy genre in her late teens and has never looked back. Giving up work to raise a family gave her the impetus to take her attempts at novel writing beyond the first draft, and she is lucky enough to have a husband who supports her dream – even if he does occasionally hint that she might think about getting a proper job one day.

Now an author of four novels including the Silent Sea Chronicles trilogy and her debut, Visions of Zarua, Suzanne hopes the dreaded ‘W’ word will never rear its ugly head again!

She loves gardening and has a Hebe (shrub) fetish. She enjoys cooking with ingredients from the garden and regularly feeds unsuspecting guests vegetable-based cakes.

She collects books, is interested in history and enjoys wandering around castles and old ruins whilst being immersed in the past. She likes to combine her love of nature and photography on family walks, but most of all she loves to escape with a great film, binge watch TV shows, or soak in a hot bubble bath with an ice cream and a book.

Connect with Suzanne 

Twitter  Goodreads BookBub 

Amazon  Facebook Instagram

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Today I’m welcoming JULIA PRIMA by Alison Morton to the blog #HistoricalFiction #BlogTour #CoffeePotBookClub

I’m delighted to feature JULIA PRIMA by Alison Morton, and she’s written a fabulous post about her book.

The dangers of travelling in the fourth century

Historical fiction at its best transports the reader into another time and place – the heat, fear and smell of battle, the celebration of a marriage where fire flickers nearby when the bride’s hair is arranged with a sharp spear point, or a voyage across a cold featureless sea where you feared might drop off the edge of the world into oblivion.

Style, tone and construction may be radically different, and the settings may be frightening or fascinating, but all good historical fiction conveys the impression of being an eyewitness to what is happening around them as well as how they are acting in that context.

One immediate way of anchoring a book in the past is thinking about how people travelled. We are so used to leaping into the car or catching a train or plane that we forget how completely different journeys were for pre-industrial people.

The concept of distance has changed radically over time. Over much of human history, it was measured in days or weeks taken rather than in land measurement such as miles. Depending on modes of transport available, whether imperial courier’s horse, an ox cart or simple trudging on foot, the perception of distance depended on the state of tracks, paths or roads. 

JULIA PRIMA features a journey on horseback through mountains, transfer on a coastal barge, a voyage on a trading ship, crossing the Apennines on horseback and finally walking through the city of Rome. Each method presents challenges. Horses must be rested and fed regularly. Roman imperial couriers carrying urgent dispatches would change horses at official way stations every 8-10 miles for this reason. Only in Hollywood films and Netflix series can they gallop on and on all day. Saddles at that time had four horns – two back and two front – which held the rider in securely; there were no stirrups. Then there was the question of whether horses were shod or not . . . 

Not all Roman roads were hard metalled and impeccably paved and drained. Primarily, the roads had been built for military use as a quick and efficient means for overland movement of armies and officials. Altogether there were more than 400,000 kilometres (250,000 miles) of roads, of which over 80,500 km (50,000 miles) were stone paved. Many were gravelled, even in towns with some slabbed surfaces in the most important parts such as the forum. Added to these were private roads, rural roads, tracks and link roads. Much more detail here: https://www.alison-morton.com/2020/12/18/on-the-road-to-rome/

Taken together, they allowed the movement of people and goods, and connected isolated communities, helping them to absorb new ideas and influences, sell surplus goods, and buy what they could not produce locally. This trade resulted in an increase of wealth for everyone to a level not seen before and is suggested as a strong reason why many people strove to adopt the lifestyle of their conquerors. 

But towards the end of the fourth century, there were potholes, missing slabs and invasive vegetation as local authorities could not afford their upkeep. Bridges built earlier, especially in the time of Augustus nearly two hundred years earlier, were failing, with parapets missing, holes in the surface and even collapsing completely.

Sailings, even for short passages such as across the Adriatic from Trieste to Ancona, were subject to season, usually May to October, and in the late fourth century, the most fearful danger: pirates. The imperial navy was mostly based in Constantinople by the time of JULIA PRIMA in AD 370 and the few ships still based in Ravenna would not offer comprehensive protection. Storms could bring all sea transport to a grinding halt as could a complete lack of wind. Nevertheless, traders still crossed the water, usually in convoys, and if fortunate escorted by a naval ship which gave an appearance, if not the reality, of protection.

Ferries today such as the cross-Channel ones offer cushioned seating, restaurants, shops and even cabins with ensuite bathrooms. Julia and her companions travel on the hard deck of a merchant ship with whatever shelter and comfort, such as light mattresses, they brought with them. The galley could provide hot water, but you brought your own washing bowl, cups and eating dishes and your own food. Once it set sail, a ship was a self-contained and vulnerable world that was lost to all human contact until it docked again. No ship’s radio, GPS, satellite tracking and communication meant that it could disappear without trace and nobody would know its fate. And news of events, e.g. death of an emperor, would only be available once the ship docked. 

Many travellers stayed with friends, family or trade colleagues. In larger cities and ports, there was a range of possibilities from well-equipped rooms in top class inns to a bed in a shared dormitory, often also shared with travellers of the insect variety!

At the most simple were private houses offering a room in their property for a fee. They could include stabling for animals and supper for their riders. Perhaps an early form of B&B! Travellers would know these houses by a lamp lit over their entrance door. Often this was the only form of hospitality in rural or remote areas.

mansio gave accommodation to official visitors and feeding, watering and stables for their animals. They had to produce a travel document/official chit to show their entitlement to gain access to these government-funded facilities or they were back on the road again. 

Non-official travellers had a choice, depending on the size of their purse and their inclination. Cauponae were often sited near the mansions and performed the same functions at a lower level of comfort. However, they suffered from a bad reputation as they were frequented by thieves and prostitutes. Tabernae provided hospitality for the more discerning traveller. In early days, they were mere houses along the road, but as Rome grew, so did its tabernae, becoming more luxurious. Of course, some did not, but they were generally above the level of the scruffy cauponae. Many cities of today grew up around a taberna complex, such as Rheinzabern in the Rhineland. 

A third system of way stations serviced vehicles and animals: the mutationes (changing stations). In these complexes, the driver could purchase the services of wheelwrights, cartwrights and equarii medici, or vets.  Some hostelries had elements of each type above, so historical fiction writers can often use generic descriptions such as inns or lodgings and vary the description of the accommodation as it suits their story. 

For travellers in the late imperial period, such as Julia in AD 370, the danger from bandits had increased markedly. Some were dispossessed agricultural workers, some escaped slaves, mercenaries for hire or just criminals. As systems dissolved, the military became less visible and finances to fund them ran out, thereby making travelling increasingly dangerous.

Here’s the blurb:

“You should have trusted me. You should have given me a choice.”

AD 370, Roman frontier province of Noricum. Neither wholly married nor wholly divorced, Julia Bacausa is trapped in the power struggle between the Christian church and her pagan ruler father. 

Tribune Lucius Apulius’s career is blighted by his determination to stay faithful to the Roman gods in a Christian empire. Stripped of his command in Britannia, he’s demoted to the backwater of Noricum – and encounters Julia.

Unwittingly, he takes her for a whore. When confronted by who she is, he is overcome with remorse and fear. Despite this disaster, Julia and Lucius are drawn to one another by an irresistible attraction.

But their intensifying bond is broken when Lucius is banished to Rome. Distraught, Julia gambles everything to join him. But a vengeful presence from the past overshadows her perilous journey. Following her heart’s desire brings danger she could never have envisaged…

Buy Links:

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/JULIAPRIMA

Amazon UK:   Amazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU

Barnes and NobleWaterstonesKoboApple

Meet the author:

Alison Morton writes award-winning thrillers featuring tough but compassionate heroines. Her nine-book Roma Nova series is set in an imaginary European country where a remnant of the ancient Roman Empire has survived into the 21stcentury and is ruled by women who face conspiracy, revolution and heartache but with a sharp line in dialogue. 

She blends her fascination for Ancient Rome with six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, historical and thriller fiction. On the way, she collected a BA in modern languages and an MA in history.  

Alison now lives in Poitou in France, the home of Mélisende, the heroine of her latest two contemporary thrillers, Double Identity and Double Pursuit. Oh, and she’s writing the next Roma Nova story.

Connect with Alison

Alison Morton’s World of Thrillers site

Facebook author pageTwitter

Alison’s writing blog:  InstagramGoodreads:  

BookBubAlison’s Amazon pageNewsletter sign-up

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I’m delighted to welcome The Conjuror’s Apprentice by G J Williams to the blog #HistoricalFiction #mystey #BlogTour #CoffeePotBookClub

Read an excerpt from The Conjuror’s Apprentice.

As Margaretta retreated through the stables, she passed a stall with the name Jonas carved into the cross beam. Inside was a truckle bed, neatly covered with a blanket and, on the floor, a leather bag. She banged the stable door closed without stepping out. It was only five quiet steps back to Jonas’s bed space, where she huddled down in the black of the shadows.

The voice of Father Thomas started in a rhythm of prayer and blessing. Then Luke, his voice strained and urgent, like all men who are trying to stop their emotions spilling out of their mouths.

‘I cannot just sit here and do nothing, Father. Jonas was like a son to me… and…’

The priest’s response was low and firm. ‘Luke. We have spoken of this before. Lord Cecil will not let this rest until the killer has been found.’ 

‘Killers. Jonas was a strong lad. It would take more than one to hold him down and do those things to him.’ Luke’s voice was tinged with anxiety now, like a child whose pleading is being dismissed. ‘Have you told Lord Cecil what I told you? Did you tell him that Jonas spoke of someone called the Shepherd? Did you tell him that Jonas said he was in a flock?’

Then banging followed by a whimper. It was Luke beating his fists on the timbers of the stable. The priest was telling him to calm himself, that there was nothing he could do. Luke almost shouted: ‘Jonas was afeared the night before he disappeared. In church that morning he was praying like he had never done before. Flock be damned. He was a lamb to the slaughter.’

‘Did he say who he feared?’

‘No. But he had a bruise on his cheek a few days before. When I asked him who did it he claimed a few street boys battered him…that a woman called…called…something I cannot recall…had helped. That she was good no matter what others said.’

The priest snapped. ‘What woman? You did not tell me of this before.’

Luke’s intake of breath was audible. ‘Tell truth, father. My mind has been full of witnessing the lad’s body. Memories are sneaking back.’

‘You must tell me everything, Luke. How can I pass the information to Lord Cecil if you do not? Now, what was the woman’s name?’

‘I cannot recall.’

‘You must.’ The voice was hard now, like a teacher with an errant child. ‘I will return in half of an hour for the name.’

There was a rustle as the priest turned, his long black coat sweeping hay along the floor. His tread was heavy, determined as he made towards the stable door. Then he stopped. From the shadow on the floor it was obvious he was looking into Jonas’s sleeping area. Margaretta held her breath. The cleric muttered something low under his breath as he peered into the gloom. It was not English. He stepped forward. Then a shout from outside. ‘Father. Are you here?’

With a grunt, he turned for the door and walked away. The only sound was the chomping of the horse in the stable opposite and the moaning from Luke. She was listening to a heart break.

Here’s the blurb:

Born with the ability to hear thoughts and feelings when there is no sound, Margaretta Morgan’s strange gift sees her apprenticed to Doctor John Dee, mathematician, astronomer, and alchemist. Using her secret link with the hidden side and her master’s brilliance, Margaretta faces her first murder mystery. Margaretta and Dee must uncover the evil bound to unravel the court of Bloody Mary. 

The year is 1555. This is a time ruled by fear. What secrets await to be pulled from the water?

The Conjuror’s Apprentice takes real people and true events in 1555, into which G J Williams weaves a tale of murder and intrigue. Appealing to readers of crime and well researched historical fiction alike, this is the first in a series which will follow the life, times, plots and murders of the Tudor Court.

Trigger Warnings:

Descriptions of bodies and the injuries that brought about their death. 

Threat of torture; description of man who has been tortured.

Buy Links

Amazon UK 

Waterstones

RedDoor

Meet the author

After a career as a business psychologist for city firms, G.J. Williams has returned to her first passion – writing tales of murder, mystery and intrigue. Her psychology background melded with a love of medieval history, draws her to the twists and turns of the human mind, subconscious powers and the dark-side of people who want too much. 

She lives between Somerset and London in the UK and is regularly found writing on a train next to a grumpy cat and a bucket of tea.

Connect with the author

Twitter

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I’m delighted to feature Owerd the Briton by James Gault on the blog #HistoricalFiction #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub

Here’s the blurb:

In Saxon England of the 1060s, the prospects for Owerd are grim. He is a Briton; son of a miller; and looks like a Dane. The Church beckons, as does a warrior life but he must first learn his ‘station’ with frequent humiliation. 

Fate lends a hand in rewarding his courage but as his lot improves the Normans invade. Does he fight them or aid them? 

His loyalties are tested by events involving violence, loss, love and fate as he tries to manage the balance between security and oppression.

Buy Links:

This title is available to read on #KindleUnlimited 

Universal Buy Link: https://books2read.com/u/31DOAw

Amazon UK:    Amazon US:    Amazon CA:    Amazon AU:   

Meet the Author

James, or Jim by preference, was a successful mariner who spent much of his life at sea mucking around in ships and boats. That was the relatively adventurous part of his life, encompassing a good slice of the world and its ever-changing challenges and joys, from violent wars and cyclones to glorious sunrises and oceans of tranquillity.

These days the stability of reading and writing are preferred, especially writing about the fictional adventures of others. He enjoys the company of his wife Sally and Labrador dog Pippa in a small coastal town in Australia.

Connect with James

Twitter:   Facebook:   Instagram:  

Book Bub:   Amazon Author Page:   Goodreads:  

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Today, I’m welcoming Thomas Tibor and his new book, Fortunate Son to the blog #HistoricalFiction #BlogTour #CoffeePotBookClub

I’m delighted to share an excerpt from Thomas Tabor’s new book, Fortune Son.

…An hour later, Adam watched with amusement as Reed drenched himself with Brut cologne, rubbed most of it off, and tried on different outfits.

First, he tried the hippie route—faded jeans, one of Adam’s worn-out flannel shirts left untucked. Nah, too affected.Next, the country-club look—light-blue button-down oxford, chinos, and Bass Weejuns. Too square. Finally, he settled into his comfort zone—polo shirt, jeans, and white Adidas.

“You’ve never spent this long getting ready for a date.”

“Yeah, well. This is different. She’s different.” Late the night before, Jordan had called and asked him to pick her up at six.

Driving to her house, he recalled the fantasy that had kept him aroused the night before.

He rolls up to Jordan’s house.

Dressed in skimpy cutoff jean shorts and a low-cut T-shirt, she greets him with a deep kiss.

As the Mustang rumbles along country roads, she tosses her windblown hair, laughs at Reed’s witty jokes, and praises his well-rehearsed left-wing propaganda.

And when they arrive at a lover’s lane deep in the woods, they waste no time.

Naked, she straddles him as they make passionate love in the front seat.

Reed waited on her doorstep in the glow of the sinking sun. Despite his fears about Annabel’s state of mind, perpetual anxiety about his father’s possible fate, and trepidation about talking to his mother on Easter Sunday, life was looking up in his small corner of the universe.

That is, until Olivia opened the door, blew her nose into a handkerchief, and glared at him as if he were a Bible salesman.

“Oh, it’s you.” She retreated, replaced by Jordan, who was looking sexy in tight jeans and the raised-fist feminist T-shirt.

“Hi, do you mind if Olivia tags along? She’s been psyched to see this flick.”

Reed managed a polite smile. “Yeah, no problem.” But it was a problem. Three’s a crowd. What was she thinking? He wanted to hold hands at the movie, share milkshakes afterward, drive somewhere and make out—your basic, grade A, All-American Date.

Olivia reappeared in her usual baggy overalls and work boots. “Let’s split. I want a good seat.”

Like air slowly hissing from a punctured balloon, his hopes for the evening dissipated on the way to the theater. Jordan sat in the passenger seat. Olivia sprawled lengthwise in back, the soles of her boots rubbing dirt on the immaculate vinyl.

Reed glanced back a few times before saying anything. “Sorry, but do you mind keeping your shoes off the seat?”

Rolling her eyes, Olivia reluctantly moved her long legs.

Jordan turned on the radio news.

“Yesterday,” the announcer was saying, “President Nixon announced further troop withdrawals from Vietnam over the next year, contingent on progress at the Paris peace talks.”

“What a load of bullshit,” Olivia said.

“Why is it bullshit?”

“Simple. Because the peace talks are bogus, a cover for Tricky Dicky to keep the war going.”

Reed scoffed. Everything Nixon did was bogus or outright evil to Olivia. “Why the hell would he do that?”

She leaned forward, head between the front seats, frizzy hair brushing his shoulders. “How naive can you be? Because it’s an imperialist war. We claim to defend democracy but undermine it instead. Do you realize the U.S. has supported the French colonialists in Vietnam since World War II? Do you realize Ho Chi Minh would have won eighty percent of the vote had elections been held in ’56? And do you realize just who prevented those elections from taking place? Wedid.”

“So let me get this straight . . . according to you, we’re the bad guys, and the North Vietnamese are the good guys?”

“That’s exactly right. Vietnam’s been fighting for its independence for decades, first against the French and now us. Ho Chi Minh is like, you know, their George Washington.”

“You have got to be shitting me!”

Jordan switched off the radio. “Enough already. It all sounds like a broken record. By the way, I think you missed the turn a few blocks back.”

The movie was Midnight Cowboy, starring Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight. Reed sat next to Jordan, Olivia on her right. The acting was good but the story was tedious, so he only feigned interest. Mostly he focused on Jordan’s thigh—an inch from his own—and mentally rehearsed draping an arm around her shoulder. Just when he finally worked up the nerve to lift his arm, he glanced over at Jordan—who was holding hands with Olivia.

He lowered his arm, slid down in his seat, and prayed for the “date” to end.

Afterward, though, Jordan wanted to drive into the countryside, and he glumly agreed. She inserted a Jefferson Airplane tape, Olivia lit a joint the size of a small cigar, and the car soon morphed into a cocoon of psychedelic music and pot smoke.

Olivia thrust the joint toward him. “Want some?”

“Fuck no,” he said, venom in his voice.

“Figures.”

Jordan smiled knowingly—must be enjoying his misery. He punched the radio on and twisted the dialed until a newscaster’s voice materialized from the crackle of static:

“In related news, the League of Families expressed satisfaction with the president’s call for North Vietnam to provide more information on the whereabouts and condition of American prisoners of war . . .”

“It’s just like this lying government to keep calling them ‘prisoners of war,’” Jordan said.

“Hold on a minute,” Reed demanded. “What the hell else would they be?”

She took a deep hit from the joint, held the smoke, and exhaled slowly. “Think about it,” she said in a professorial tone. “This is an undeclared war. Never authorized by Congress. In fact, a lot of people think the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave Johnson the green light for this disaster, was based on fraud. Basically, Johnson and McNamara bamboozled the American people.”

“I’ve heard that bullshit theory,” Reed said. “Forget it. Those commie gunboats definitely attacked us. We didn’t do anything to provoke them.” Jordan shook her head mechanically. “Either way, what’s your point?”

“Simple. The North Vietnamese don’t feel bound by the Geneva Convention because they view this as an illegal war. So why should they release information about prisoners?”

Reed yelled, “Because they’re supposed to! Because it’s the goddamn moral thing to do!”

The Mustang barreled down the road.

From the back seat, Olivia scoffed. “Morality? Give me a break!”

Jordan continued calmly. “From their point of view, our soldiers aren’t official POWs.”

Reed’s foot pressed harder on the accelerator pedal. “That’s a lot of crap, and you know it!”

The lights of a one-stoplight town grew brighter. Jordan eyed the speedometer, which had edged above eighty. “Hey. You wanna slow down some?”

Olivia piped in. “Either way, if we’d stop bombing the North, they’d let those POWs go.”

“We stopped for two years, and nothing happened,” Reed countered.

“Is that what Rot-cee teaches you? Bomb Third World countries into the Stone Age?”

“How would you know what the fuck they teach me?”

A police siren wailed, growing louder until red flashers loomed in Reed’s rearview.

“The sad fact is the POWs have become pawns in the peace talks,” Jordan said.

“More like war criminals,” Olivia added.

Reed smashed his fist on the dashboard. “He’s not a goddamn war criminal!”

“Who’s not a war criminal?” Jordan and Olivia yelled at the same time.

Now the police car’s siren and flashers crowded the Mustang’s bumper.

“Shit! Son of a bitch!” Reed slammed on the brakes and veered onto the narrow shoulder, gravel flying.

“Fucking pigs,” Olivia muttered.

Reed ripped the joint from her hand and tossed it out the window. Leaning across Jordan, he yanked open the glove compartment and grabbed the registration. “Both of you—don’t move! Just shut the hell up!”

Unnerved by his rage, Jordan regarded him with a mix of curiosity and concern.

He jumped out, hoping to intercept the cop before he got near the car. What kind of a major dumbass shithead would drive into redneck country in a pot-infused car? Most of the people around here worked at the nearby state prison and hated hippies, drugs, and anything reeking of the counterculture.

Reed’s head swirled with panicked visions. Handcuffs clicking on his wrists. Judge’s gavel banging down—Guilty of Possession. Jail door slamming shut. Dismissal from ROTC. Eternal shame.

The cop was a baby-faced good old boy, standing over six feet with a sizable belly protruding above his gun belt. 

Standing behind the car, Reed handed over his registration and license. Fidgeting, right hand opening and closing, he read a billboard outside a church across the street: Let the Power of Love Replace the Love of Power.

The cop studied both documents and took in Reed’s neat appearance and his pristine car. He wore a tiny gold lapel pin in the shape of a pig, an attempt at irony by the Florida State Police.

“Son, do you have any notion how fast you were goin’?”

Reed launched into a detailed justification, punctuated by a stream of obsequious Yes, sirs, No, sirs, and I’m sorry, sirs. Yes, of course he’d been speeding and was “very, very sorry, sir.” He’d already slowed down when the speed limit changed, “in only two blocks, from sixty-five to thirty-five. Isn’t slowing down that fast actually kind of dangerous, sir?”

The cop muttered several “uh-huhs” as he checked the license plate and glanced inside. Jordan’s and Olivia’s demure smiles beamed back at him.

“Pretty decent bullshit, son. I’ve heard worse.” Then he wrote Reed a speeding ticket and warned him to be careful. “Some folks aren’t too happy with you college kids and all this protesting goin’ on. If you ask me, it’s goddamn un-American.”

“Yes, sir. I understand, sir. Thank you very much, sir.”

Reed pocketed the ticket and made a cautious U-turn. He vowed to remain silent on the way back and stay well below the speed limit, though he couldn’t wait to get home.

Unfortunately, Olivia still felt the need to spew more left-wing sewage. Only Reed’s Leave It to Beaver clean-cut looks, along with his groveling and ass-kissing, had kept “that redneck Neanderthal from locking us up.” Fascists cops like him were “tools of the capitalist power structure, which is all about keeping women barefoot and pregnant, not to mention oppressing the poor and Blacks.”

If only he had his boxing gloves, he could jam his fist down her throat.

Jordan, who’d been glancing at him curiously, interrupted. “Before, you said, ‘He’s not a war criminal.’ Who’s not a war criminal?”

He didn’t want to answer, but what was the point of keeping it a secret? The night had gone to hell long ago.

“My dad. He’s a Navy fighter pilot. MIA.”

“Wow,” Jordan said. “For how long?”

“Three years. We don’t know if he’s dead or alive.”

“I’m so sorry. I really am,” Jordan murmured…

Here’s the blurb:

A powerful, evocative novel that transports the reader to a tense period in America, Fortunate Son is set on a southern college campus during the turbulent spring of 1970. Reed Lawson, an ROTC cadet, struggles with the absence of his father, a Navy pilot who has been Missing in Action in Vietnam for three years.

While volunteering at a drug crisis center, Reed sets out to win the heart of a feminist co-worker who is grappling with a painful past, and to rescue a troubled teenage girl from self-destruction. In the process, he is forced to confront trauma’s tragic consequences and the fragile, tangled web of human connections.

Trigger warnings:

One aspect of this story dramatizes instances of self-harm and makes references to suicide.

Buy Links:

This book is available to read on #KindleUnlimited

Universal Buy Link:

https://books2read.com/u/boyrra

Amazon UK: Amazon US: Amazon CA: Amazon AU:

Barnes and Noble: Not available yet; will be available by October 1, 2022

Meet the Author

A veteran writer and video producer, Thomas Tibor has helped develop training courses focusing on mental health topics. In an earlier life, he worked as a counselor in the psychiatric ward of two big-city hospitals. He grew up in Florida and now lives in Northern Virginia. Fortunate Son is his first novel.

Connect with Thomas

WebsiteTwitter: LinkedIn:

Instagram: Amazon Author Page: Goodreads: 

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I’m welcoming Brushstrokes from the Past by Heidi Eljarbo to the blog #solihansenmysteries #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub

How to enjoy research for a novel

by Heidi Eljarbo

Ask an avid reader of historical fiction if research is important, and the answer will be an unanimous, “Absolutely!”

Last year I taught a class about research at a writer’s conference in the USA. When preparing the presentation, I placed a survey on two Facebook groups. Yes, I did some research for my research class. I wanted to know how readers felt about research for historical novels.

I wrote, “I’d like to know your opinion. How important is historical research when you pick up a book? Do you enjoy learning new things about the time period of the novel you’re reading?”

Many readers answered that historical facts sparked their interest; they wanted to learn more; they followed up by doing their own research. A common answer was also that research is essential, and they especially don’t like inaccuracies, anachronism, or too many unnecessary descriptions.

Proper world-building will place the reader right in there with the characters. They need to know about the clothes, food, religion, politics, customs, and so much more. An author who chooses historical fiction as his or her genre should have a special interest in history. Because as you research, learn, and become acquainted with the time period you’ve chosen, the story will come alive. Writing historical fiction requires a passion for the craft, and weaving in interesting history without making it read like a textbook or making it obvious adds the attention-grabbing details.

My latest novel, Brushstrokes from the Past, is a historical art mystery. It’s a dual timeline with elements of three things I am particularly interested in: WWII resistance, the seventeenth century, and art history. The research has been fascinating and fun. I’ve studied about brave women during the last days of WWII, delved into the life and times of Amsterdam in the year 1641, and even discussed how to write an airplane scene with a fighter pilot.

Then there’s art. I have a passion for art history…always have…and finding information about master painters, techniques, hues and compositions, and the beautiful renditions they created, has been rewarding. 

The Soli Hansen Mysteries is a dual timeline series. Each book in the series can be read as a standalone, but they are more enjoyable when read in order as both stories progress. A common theme is the baroque artists who perfected the technique of chiaroscuro—the play of light and dark—in their paintings. We meet Caravaggio, Rubens, and Rembrandt van Rijn.

Brushstrokes from the Past is the fourth book in this series. Going deeper into Rembrandt’s personal life has been wonderful. I have moved beyond his work as a master painter and gotten to know him, not only as artistically gifted, but as a husband and father. His love and admiration for his wife Saskia made a deep impression on me. His sorrow for the children they lost was immense. These studies have made this Dutch Golden Age painter even more heroic in my eyes.

Brushstrokes from the Past takes place in 1641. Rembrandt is 32 years old, lives with his beloved Saskia in an expensive canal house, and he is widely celebrated as an extraordinary artist. He is working on an enormous painting we know as the The Night Watch where he implements the use of sunlight and shade (chiaroscuro).

Close to a hundred self-portraits—paintings, etchings, and drawing—made it easy to describe Rembrandt’s looks in book three and four. In Brushstrokes from the Past he is a close friend of fictional French musketeer Claude Beaulieu and his Jewish-Italian wife Annarosa Ruber.

How is Rembrandt’s portrait of his musketeer friend discovered in the spring of 1945? And who wants to get their hands on the precious artwork? You’ll have to read Brushstrokes from the Past to find out. Enjoy the adventure and journey!

Here’s the blurb:

A Historical Art Mystery

WWII and the mid-seventeenth century are entwined in this fourth dual timeline novel about Nazi art theft, bravery, friendship, and romance.

April 1945. Art historian Soli Hansen and her friend Heddy arrive at an excavation site only to find Soli’s old archeology professor deeply engrossed in an extraordinary find in a marsh. The remains of a man have lain undisturbed for three centuries, but there’s more to this discovery…

As Soli tries to understand who the baroque man was and discovers what he carried in a sealed wooden tube, problems arise. A leak reveals the finds to the notorious Lieutenant Colonel Heinz Walter, and soon, both Nazi elite and the Gestapo are after the treasure.
When Heddy and the professor disappear along with the artwork, Soli and her resistance group must find them before it’s too late.

1641. In Amsterdam, French musketeer Claude Beaulieu has had his portrait done by his close friend and artist Rembrandt van Rijn. When a band of thieves steal the precious painting, Claude and his wife Annarosa Ruber pick up their swords and a few belongings and go after the culprits.

Set in Norway during the tumultuous last days of the second world war, as well as the peak of the glorious baroque art period, these two stories are a must for readers who love historical fiction with adventure, suspense, and true love that conquers all.

Perfect for fans of Kate Morton, Lucinda Riley, Kathleen McGurl, Rhys Bowen, and Katherine Neville.

Buy Links:

Available on #KindleUnlimited 

Universal Link

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CAAmazon AU

Meet the author:

Heidi Eljarbo is the bestselling author of historical fiction and mysteries filled with courageous and good characters that are easy to love and others you don’t want to go near.

Heidi grew up in a home filled with books and artwork and she never truly imagined she would do anything other than write and paint. She studied art, languages, and history, all of which have come in handy when working as an author, magazine journalist, and painter.

After living in Canada, six US states, Japan, Switzerland, and Austria, Heidi now calls Norway home. She and her husband have a total of nine children, thirteen grandchildren—so far—in addition to a bouncy Wheaten Terrier.

Their favorite retreat is a mountain cabin, where they hike in the summertime and ski the vast, white terrain during winter.

Heidi’s favorites are family, God’s beautiful nature, and the word whimsical.

Sign up for her newsletter at https://www.heidieljarbo.com/newsletter

Connect with Heidi

Website: 

TwitterFacebookLinkedIn

InstagramInstagram author pagePinterest

Book BubAmazon Author PageGoodreads

Follow the Brushstrokes from the Past blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club
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I’m delighted to reveal the cover for Warrior of Mercia #TheEagleofMerciaChronicles

I’m delighted to share the cover for book 3 in young Icel’s story, Warrior of Mercia, which is available to preorder now, and can also be requested on Netgalley. It’s released on 9th November 2022.

The next thrilling adventure, all NEW from MJ Porter

Icel is a lone wolf no more…

Oath sworn to Wiglaf, King of Mercia and acknowledged as a member of Ealdorman Ælfstan’s warrior band, Icel
continues to forge his own destiny on the path to becoming the Warrior of Mercia.

With King Ecgberht of Wessex defeated and Londonium back under Mercian control, the Wessex invasion of Mercia is over. 

But the Wessex king was never Mercia’s only enemy. An unknown danger lurks in the form of merciless Viking raiders, who set their sights on infiltrating the waterways of the traitorous breakaway kingdom of the East Angles, within touching distance of Mercia’s eastern borders.

Icel must journey to the kingdom of the East Angles and unite against a common enemy to ensure Mercia’s hard-won freedom prevails.

Preorder now

books2read.com/WarriorofMercia

I love the new cover, and can assure you that Icel isn’t about to hang up his shield and seax anytime soon.

Sign up to my Boldwood Books newsletter to keep up to date with all things Icel, and The Eagle of Mercia Chronicles related.

https://bit.ly/MJPorterNews

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Today, I’m excited to share my review for Daggers at the Country Fair, the second book in Catherine Coles delightful 1940s cozy crime series

Here’s the blurb:

Winteringham Village 1947

As a thank you for her previous brilliant crime solving, amateur sleuth, Martha Miller is guest of honour at the Winteringham Country Fair. However, this time she is looking forward to simply judging dog shows and eating cream teas rather than apprehending a killer!

And Martha is just beginning to enjoy spending quality time with Vicar Luke Walker away from the prying eyes and gossips of her own village, when disaster strikes, and the local teenage femme fatale is found stabbed to death behind the tea tent by Martha’s trusted red setter Lizzie!

But who would want to kill such a young girl and why? Someone in the village has secrets to hide and it seems Martha and Luke have another case to solve!

Let the investigation commence!

Purchase Link

https://amzn.to/39FO4RF

My Review

Daggers at the Country Fair is a welcome return to the sleuthing duo of Martha and Luke. This time the characters aren’t at home but rather on a weekend away, when their skills are unexpectedly called into use once more.

What follows is an intriguing examination of the inhabitants of Winteringham when a body is found during the country fair. Martha and Luke work to unpick what happened to the deceased and to hunt down the killer, as a collection of likely murderers make themselves known

I do love a Catherine Coles cozy mystery, and Daggers at the Country Fair is a welcome addition to the Martha Miller series. I will definitely look out for book 3 in the series.

Catherine Coles writes bestselling cosy mysteries set in the English countryside. Her extremely popular Tommy & Evelyn Christie series is based in North Yorkshire in the 1920’s and Catherine herself lives in Hull with her family and two spoiled dogs.

Connect with Catherine 

Facebook 

Twitter 

Instagram

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Bookbub profile

Follow the Daggers at the Country Fair blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources
Featured

Happy release day to Donovan Cook and his new book, Chaos of the Gods #historicalfiction #Vikings

Here’s the blurb:

The gods want chaos. He wants no part of their game. Can one man defy the will of the gods?

Bruised and battered from a disastrous raid, Ulf and his companions are set to return to their home. But the gods have other ideas. A violent sea storm pushes them back onto the treacherous land of Francia. With their ship damaged, Ulf and his Norse brothers are left stranded.

While the sea nearly cost them their lives, the land on the North Frankish coast could prove more deadly. And with the ruthless Griml on their tail, they must stay alert to survive.

But another threat looms over them, one that ensures the gods will get their chaos.

This battle is far from over.

Chaos of the Gods

Check out the first book in the series here: Son of Anger

Connect with Donovan

WebsiteTwitter:   Facebook

BookBub Amazon Author Page

  Goodreads: 

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Today, I’m delighted to welcome Lucy Morris and her new book, Tempted by Her Outcast Viking to the blog #blogtour #newrelease #HistoricalRomance #VikingRomance

Here’s the blurb:

Tempted by the Warrior

But she’ll never wed

Brynhild had once been close to Erik – until he’d betrayed her, and she’d hoped never to see him again. Now the fiercely independent shieldmaiden needs Erik’s skills to rescue her sister. Striking a truce with the tough, isolated loner they reach a mutually beneficial deal: in return, she’ll help him in his quest to find a wife – by teaching him how to please a woman in bed…!

Buy Links:

Harper Collins:

Universal Link

WH Smiths

Meet the author:

Lucy Morris has always been obsessed with myths and legends. Her books blend sweeping romance with vivid worldbuilding to whisk you away to another time and place filled with adventure. Expect passion, drama and vibrant characters. 

Lucy lives in Essex, UK, with her husband, two children, and two cats. She has a massively sweet tooth and loves Terry’s Chocolate Oranges and Irn-Bru. In her spare time she likes to explore castles with her family, or drink bubbly with her friends.

Connect with Lucy:

WebsiteTwitterFacebookInstagram

Book BubAmazon Author PageGoodreads

Follow the Tempted by Her Outcast Viking blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club
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Today, I’m delighted to be hosting Essex Dogs by Dan Jones on the blog #blogtour #newrelease #TheHundredYearsWar

Here’s the blurb:

July 1346. The Hundred Years’ War has begun, and King Edward and his lords are on the march through France. But this war belongs to the men on the ground.

Swept up in the bloody chaos, a tight-knit company from Essex must stay alive long enough to see their home again. With sword, axe and longbow, the Essex Dogs will fight, from the landing beaches of Normandy to the bloodsoaked field of Crécy.

There’s Pismire, small enough to infiltrate enemy camps. Scotsman, strong enough to tear down a wall. Millstone, a stonemason who’ll do anything to protect his men. Father, a priest turned devilish by the horrors of war. Romford, a talented young archer on the run from his past. And Loveday FitzTalbot, their battle-scarred captain, who just wants to get his boys home safe.

Some men fight for glory. Others fight for coin. The Essex Dogs? They fight for each other.

My Review

Essex Dogs by Dan Jones, despite its girth, coming in at nearly 7500 lines on my Kindle and 450 pages in hardback, is a really easy-going read. It has a light writing style, and therefore, it’s not an onerous read for anyone worried that it might just be that little bit longer than they’re used to. (I never used to consider the length of a book, but now I do, when there are so many books to read and so little time).

The opening scene, the landing on the beach for the invasion of France, is very well told, and draws you into the world that the Essex Dogs live within. The action then slightly backs off, as we learn more about the men behind the invasion and the details of what’s planned. And there are many little details that slowly draw the reader into the scenario the Dogs face, as just one of many bands of warriors, commissioned for their 40 days of service, to fight on behalf of a lord, who’s in turn beholden to the king or the prince of Wales.

While the Hundred Years War is not ‘my’ time period, I’m not a stranger to it. If you’ve read other books set in the period, as I have, then this feels very close to those books. In no time at all, I was remembering some of the historical details, and I felt right at home with the ‘Dogs.’

This, as the blurb says, is the story of the Essex Dogs, and not the king and lords. The prince, Northampton and Warwick are the most notable members of the nobility to get a decent-sized portion of the story but only in relation to the way the Essex Dogs’ lives mingle, merge and separate with them. You can almost smell the dust and heat, the stink of the rivers, and not for the first time when I read books like this, I’m left considering why the English king was so determined to claim a province that was so hostile to him.

The story, not without tragedy, slowly builds to an intriguing finale, on the field of Crecy, where we follow the efforts of young Romford as he attempts to stay alive.

There is blood and gore in this book, but not tonnes of the stuff. There is some pretty strong language, but not tonnes of it (if you’ve read my The Last King series, it will feel a little tame). My overwhelming feeling on finishing it is that the games kings play affected the men who fought for them more than them, and I more than imagine that this is what Dan Jones is hoping to make us feel. And so, an engaging and well-told tale, not without moments of tragedy and comedy, and one certainly worthy of picking up and devouring.

About the author

Dan Jones is the Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author of ten non-fiction books, including The Templars, The Colour of Time and Powers and Thrones. He is a renowned writer, broadcaster and journalist, and has for many years wanted to write authentic but action-packed historical fiction. His debut novel, Essex Dogs, is the first in a planned trilogy following the fortunes of ten ordinary soldiers in the early years of the Hundred Years’ War. He lives near London with his family.

Purchase link

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3cNE9LN

Follow Dan

Twitter: @dgjones

Instagram: @d_a_n_jones
TikTok: d_a_n_jones

Follow Aries

Twitter: @AriesFiction

Facebook: Aries Fiction

Website: http://www.headofzeus.com

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Today, I’m welcoming The Ultimate Village Game to the blog for a release day post, author Q & A and a competition! #blogtour #mystery

Here’s the blurb:

Riddled with guilt and tormented by desire, Lucy Short keeps notes about newcomers to the village, but why? The misfit with the rescue dog has a mysterious past. She’s been biding her time, plotting and scheming, and now she’s determined to get what she deserves. It won’t be straight forward. Someone is sure to be watching her every move, and there seems to be something more sinister going on.

Mr. Lester Senior is dead. The family is in turmoil. The future of the famous village treasure hunt is in doubt, but for Lucy a new world beckons. She must stick to her task. The rewards could be huge, but will there also be a price to pay?

Purchase Links 

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ultimate-Village-Game-Beth-Merwood-ebook/dp/B0B4Z7VJRN/ref

US –  https://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Village-Game-Beth-Merwood-ebook/dp/B0B4Z7VJRN/ref

My Review

The Ultimate Village Game is a bit of a slow burner, but one that keeps you intrigued from the very beginning. The author does an excellent job of creating a mystery without really letting the reader in on what the mystery is.

The big reveal slowly starts to come into focus from about half way through the book, gaining pace as the end of the book comes into sight.

There is a lot of attention to detail here, a cast of characters that’s quite wide-ranging but interesting all the same. I was entirely drawn into the lives of the main characters and really enjoyed both the big reveal and the bits that came after it – no spoilers here.

This is, as the author says below, unconventional, and not at all your usual local murder mystery, but it is incredibly enjoyable and my only slight complaint would be that there was a lot of scope here for it not to be quite such a pleasant ending:) But, if you’re looking for an absorbing read, then this is certainly that.

Author Q & A

Hi Beth. Thanks for answering my questions about your new book.

Hi MJ, Thanks for having me. 

I do love a cosy mystery. Can you tell me who and what influences your writing?

It was really just life in general that influenced The Ultimate Village Game, the quirks of our lives, the things that are hidden or left unsaid, words or deeds or memories that may be misinterpreted or distorted. I am sometimes taken with a conversation I overhear or a real life situation I come across. Of course, I may only have heard or come across a fragment of information, so I work on it, develop it. I’m a day dreamer too, so on occasion ideas come into my head that way. 

Can you tell me about the fictional location where your novel is set?

The Ultimate Village Game is set deep in the heart of the English countryside. Steely Green is a small, picturesque village but with idiosyncrasies. It’s a contemporary setting, but the village is probably a little behind the times, and to an extent the characters reflect this. Even so, there’s plenty going on!

Can you name your favourite cosy crime novel or author?

Aunt Dimity’s Death – Nancy Atherton 

Do you have a favourite cosy crime film or TV show?

Cozy crime is my absolute favorite genre on TV, and I can watch almost any of it. I’m happy to watch the same episodes over and over. In a way, it’s my wallpaper. 

What did you find the hardest part of writing your cosy crime? 

The Ultimate Village Game is not a conventional cosy mystery, and I had to concentrate on keeping the story moving at a pace I was happy with. I generally read my work back a lot along the way, and with this novel I found I had to do so even more. One of the hardest parts, though, was keeping track of all the characters. They seemed to want to go off and do their own thing on occasion.

No spoilers, but did you know who was going to be the murderer before you started writing your story or did it come to you as you wrote?

(Sorry, can’t answer this one!)

Thank you so much for answering my questions and good luck with your new release.

Meet the Author

Beth Merwood is a writer from the south of England. Her debut novel, The Five Things, was published in 2021.

Connect with Beth

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Website Facebook BookBub TikTok

Giveaway to Win 1 x Paperback and 1 x e-copy of The Ultimate Village Game (Open to UK Only)

1st Prize- Paperback copy of The Ultimate Village Game

2nd Prize – E-copy of The Ultimate Village Game

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494524/?

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Today, I’m reviewing Murder in Myrtle Bay by Isobel Blackthorn #cosycrime #blogtour

Here’s the blurb:

When feature writer Ruth Finlay and her elderly neighbor Doris Cleaver visit an antique and collectibles market in the small town of Myrtle Bay, they get a lot more than they bargained for.

After Ruth’s old tennis coach is found dead, they discover that there’s no lack of people who harbor a grudge against the victim, and a tangled web of family ties and lies begins to unravel. But can Ruth and Doris find the killer in time to avert a second murder?

A quirky feel-good mystery laced with intrigue, Murder in Myrtle Bay is the first book in Isobel Blackthorn’s ‘Ruth Finlay Mysteries’ series. Set in small town Australia, it is a sure pick for any fan of classic whodunits and cozy mysteries!

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Murder-Myrtle-Ruth-Finlay-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B0B5VRZX2Q/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Murder-Myrtle-Ruth-Finlay-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B0B5VRZX2Q/

My Review

Murder in Myrtle Bay is an engaging, contemporary mystery set in Australia. While it took me a chapter to get into the storyline, as soon as I’d worked out who was who, I was hooked on the mystery of who had murdered the man in the antique centre.

There’s a lot of food in this book and a lot of drinking tea and coffee, amongst other things, but through it all is an intriguing mystery, making use of the joy of a small, and tight-knit community to add even more mystery to the storyline.

The ultimate resolution to the mystery, and the final few concluding scenes are well done. I hadn’t guessed who’d ‘done it,’ which is always the sign of a good mystery – and there was some engaging misdirection and false leads that added to the enjoyment.

A fun read for those who like a contemporary mystery.

Meet the author

Isobel Blackthorn is a prolific novelist of unique and engaging fiction. She writes across a range of genres, including gripping mysteries and dark psychological thrillers.

The Unlikely Occultist: A biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey received an Honorable Mention in the 2021 Reader’s Favorite book awards. A Prison in the Sun was shortlisted in the LGBTQ category of the 2021 International Book Awards and the 2020 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. Her short story ‘Nothing to Declare’ was shortlisted for the Ada Cambridge Prose Prize 2019. Her dark thriller A Legacy of Old Gran Parks won a Raven Award in 2019. The Cabin Sessions was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award 2018 and the Ditmar Awards 2018.

Isobel holds a PhD in Western Esotericism from the University of Western Sydney for her ground-breaking study of the texts of Theosophist Alice A. Bailey. Her engagement with Alice Bailey’s life and works has culminated in the biographical novel The Unlikely Occultist and the full biography Alice A. Bailey: Life and Legacy.

Isobel carries a lifelong passion for the Canary Islands, Spain, her former home. Five of her novels are set on the islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. These standalone mystery novels are setting rich and fall into the broad genre of travel fiction.

Isobel has led a rich and interesting life and her stories are as diverse as her experiences, the highs and lows, and the dramas. A life-long campaigner for social justice, Isobel has written, protested and leant her weight to a range of issues including asylum seekers and family violence. A Londoner originally, Isobel currently lives in rural Victoria, Australia.

Connect with Isobel

https://twitter.com/IBlackthorn

https://www.facebook.com/Lovesick.Isobel.Blackthorn/

www.isobelblackthorn.com

Follow the Murder in Myrtle Bay blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources
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Today, I’m delighted to be reviewing Flora Flowerdew and the Mystery of the Duke’s Diamonds and there’s also a competition to enter #blogtour #historicalfiction #historicalromance

Here’s the blurb:

Flora Flowerdew has a secret. The former Florrie Gubbins, music hall dancer, is now Madame Flowerdew, one of London’s most renowned spirit mediums. But it’s actually her beloved Pomeranian dog, Chou-Chou, who can see the ghosts.

One of her most lucrative seances, for the wealthy Petrie family whose daughter is about to marry a handsome young duke, goes chaotically awry. The duke’s late, and very irate, grandfather demands Flora and his grandson Benedict find the long-missing family diamonds—even the search becomes littered with mayhem and murder! Can Flora discover the jewels before she loses her career, her sanity—and her heart?

Sparks fly as Flora, Benedict, and Chou-Chou pursue the truth of the diamonds’ disappearance in this lighthearted, cozy historical mystery set in foggy, gas-lit London

Purchase Links 

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Flowerdew-Mystery-Diamonds-Victorian-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B09ZSWGXYS/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Flowerdew-Mystery-Diamonds-Victorian-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B09ZSWGXYS/

My Review

Flora Flowerdew and the Mystery of the Duke’s Diamonds is a delightful, light-hearted Victorian mystery. For all that, it is stuffed with all the elements we would expect to find in a novel of the period, including the always needed addition of the reticule, as well as hansom cabs, wonderful clothing and period detail.

Flora is a delightful character, a woman on the up as she makes her name, not as a chorus girl, but as a spirit medium, with her collection of allies, including a female news reporter for the local newspaper. And of course, there’s a hint of romance along the way; as well as stories of intrigue and mystery, an intrepid explorer, and strange goings-on.

The mystery is engaging, and I think we can all agree, that the inclusion of an irate ghost is particularly fitting for the time period.

An enjoyable, light-hearted read, perfect for those wanting to dip their toe into Victorian London.

Meet the author

Amanda McCabe wrote her first romance at the age of sixteen–a vast historical epic starring all her friends as the characters, written secretly during algebra class (and her parents wondered why math was not her strongest subject…)

She’s never since used algebra, but her books (set in a variety of time periods–Regency, Victorian, Tudor, Renaissance, and 1920s) have been nominated for many awards, including the RITA Award, the Romantic Times BOOKReviews Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Booksellers Best, the National Readers Choice Award, and the Holt Medallion. She lives in New Mexico with her lovely husband, along with far too many books and a spoiled rescue dog.

When not writing or reading, she loves yoga, collecting cheesy travel souvenirs, and watching the Food Network–even though she doesn’t cook. She also writes as Amanda Allen…

Please visit her at http://ammandamccabe.com

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Giveaway to Win an e-copy of Flora Flowerdew and the Mystery of the Duke’s Diamonds & a Victorian necklace (Open to US Only)

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494520/?

*Terms and Conditions –US entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Follow the blog tour for Flora Flowerdew and the Mystery of the Duke’s Diamonds

Featured

Things what I have written about Saxon England :)

This post is just a quick summary of where you can find a few articles I’ve written in the last few months, in case you’ve missed them (in no particular order).


I wrote a feature for Shepherd about the five books that led to my obsession with Saxon England.

https://shepherd.com/best-books/that-led-to-my-obsession-with-saxon-england


I wrote a feature for The Coffee Pot Book Club about Lady Elfrida, England’s first crowned queen. Is she the stereotypical wicked stepmother?

https://thecoffeepotbookclub.blogspot.com/2022/08/historicalfiction-author-m-j-porter-is.html


And sticking with all things Saxon, I’ve written a piece all about Saxon England for this month’s interactive Historical Times magazine. (this link will take you to the sample – sign up to become a member – the magazines are always stuffed with fabulous content)

https://online.1stflip.com/dssx/3jpe/


And if you’ve not yet read The Last Seven, you can read a short excerpt here, on The Coffee Pot Book Club.

https://thecoffeepotbookclub.blogspot.com/2022/08/have-sneak-peek-between-covers-of-m-j.html


Phew, I hope you find something fun to read. Thank you.

Featured

Welcome to today’s stop on the Vendetta by Edie Baylis new release blog tour #Gangland

Here’s the blurb:

Who can you trust?

Once bitter enemies, Samantha Reynold and Seb Stoker’s powerful alliance enables their firms and casinos to go from strength to strength. With the families no longer in opposition, it seems that Sam and Seb are untouchable…

But not everyone is happy with the new power couple of the club world.

Unbeknownst to everyone, someone new wants to see Sam’s perfect life ruined. And they will stop at nothing to seek their revenge – even if it means destroying everything – and everyone – in their path.

With tensions high, Sam and Seb must put their trust in each other completely. But can they trust those closest to them? Or do they have a vendetta of their own?

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3bcvMYW

My Review

Vendetta is the third book in the Allegiance series, and the second book that I’ve read by Edie Baylis.

I really enjoyed returning to the world of Samantha and Seb, and I found the build-up to the second half of the book, which is pretty non-stop, to be much easier going for me. I think, as with these things, not having read the first book made the second book a bit tough. But with this book, I already knew many of the characters, and it was far more enjoyable for that.

As ever, none of these characters really have any redeeming qualities, but I did find myself hoping some of the women would have a happy outcome. Whether they do or not, I won’t spoil it for other readers.

It’s always fascinating to read about places that you know. And these books, set in Birmingham in the 1990s resonate with me. I think I also enjoy knowing a little more about the landscape.

A fabulously entertaining read. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for my review copy. Vendetta is released today, 1st September 2022, and I wish the author a happy publication day:)

Meet the Author

Edie Baylis a successful self-published author of dark gritty thrillers with violent background settings. She lives in Worcestershire, has a history of owning daft cars and several motorbikes and is licensed to run a pub. She has signed a five-book deal with Boldwood and the first book in her new ganglit series, set in Birmingham, was published in January 2022.

Connect with Edie

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/downfallseries

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ediebaylis

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ediebaylis/

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/EdieBaylisnewsletter

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/edie-baylis

Check out my review for the previous book in the series, Fallout.