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

#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.

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

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

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

Follow the blog blizt for For Richer. For Deader, with Rachel’s Random Resources

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

Follow the Chaos at Carnegie Hall blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources

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

Follow the St Bride’s blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources

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

WebsiteTwitterFacebook

LinkedInBook BubAmazon Author PageGoodreads: 

Follow the Wolves of Wagria blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club

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

Follow the St Bride’s blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources

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.

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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.

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