Based on a little-known true story, from award-winning author Siobhan Daiko comes a tale of love and survival against all the odds set in Hong Kong at the start of the Pacific War.
In the spring of 1939, dashing young William Burton and the beautiful Constance Han set sail from London on the same ocean liner to Hong Kong.
Romance blossoms while they enjoy games of deck quoits and spend sultry tropical evenings dancing under the stars. Connie is intrigued by Will’s talent for writing poetry, and she offers to give him Cantonese lessons to help him with his new job— a cadet in the colonial service.
But once in Hong Kong, Connie is constrained by filial duty towards her Eurasian parents, and their wish for her to marry someone from her own background. She can’t forget Will however and arranges to meet him in secret under the magnificent canopy of a flame of the forest tree—where she fulfils her promise to teach him to speak Chinese.
Before too long, trouble looms as Japanese forces gather on the border between Hong Kong and mainland China. Will joins a commando group tasked with operating behind enemy lines, and Connie becomes involved in the fight against local fifth columnists.
When war breaks out, they find themselves drawn into a wider conflict than their battle against prejudice. Can they survive and achieve a future together? Or do forces beyond their control keep them forever apart?
Perfect for readers of Dinah Jefferies, Ann Bennett and Victoria Hislop.
Siobhan Daiko is a British historical fiction author. A lover of all things Italian, she lives in the Veneto region of northern Italy with her husband, a Havanese dog and a rescued cat. Siobhan was born of English parents in Hong Kong, attended boarding school in Australia, and then moved to the UK—where she taught modern foreign languages in a Welsh comprehensive school. She now spends her time writing page-turners and enjoying her life near Venice. Her novels are compelling, poignant, and deeply moving, with strong characters and evocative settings, but always with romance at their heart.
Giveaway to Win a signed copy of The Flame Tree (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.
For bastard-born Robert FitzStephan, being given Eleanor d’Outremer in marriage is an honour. For Eleanor, this forced wedding is anything but a fairy tale.
Robert FitzStephan has served Edward Longshanks loyally since the age of twelve. Now he is riding with his king to once and for all bring Wales under English control.
Eleanor d’Outremer—Noor to family—lost her Castilian mother as a child and is left entirely alone when her father and brother are killed. When ordered to wed the unknown Robert FitzStephan, she has no choice but to comply.
Two strangers in a marriage bed is not easy. Things are further complicated by Noor’s blood-ties to the Welsh princes and by covetous Edith who has warmed Robert’s bed for years.
Robert’s new wife may be young and innocent, but he is soon to discover that not only is she spirited and proud, she is also brave. Because when Wales lies gasping and Edward I exacts terrible justice on the last prince and his children, Noor is determined to save at least one member of the House of Aberffraw from the English king.
Will years of ingrained service have Robert standing with his king or will he follow his heart and protect his wife, his beautiful and fierce Castilian hawk?
The Kindle ebook of this title is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.
Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.
Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients.
Her Castilian Heart is the third in her “Castilian” series, a stand-alone sequel to her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. In the second instalment, The Castilian Pomegranate, we travel with the protagonists to the complex political world of medieval Spain. This latest release finds our protagonists back in England—not necessarily any safer than the wilds of Spain!
Anna has also authored The Whirlpools of Time in which she returns to the world of time travel. Join Duncan and the somewhat reluctant time-traveller Erin on their adventures through the Scottish Highlands just as the first Jacobite rebellion is about to explode!
All of Anna’s books have been awarded the IndieBRAG Medallion, she has several Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choices, and one of her books won the HNS Indie Award in 2015. She is also the proud recipient of various Reader’s Favorite medals as well as having won various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards.
Find out more about Anna, her books and enjoy her eclectic historical blog on her website, www.annabelfrage.com
Hani must secretly obtain a Hittite bridegroom for Queen Meryet-amen, but Ay and the faction behind Prince Tut-ankh-aten are opposed–to the point of violence. Does the death of an artisan have anything to do with Ay’s determination to see his grandson on the throne? Then, another death brings Egypt to the brink of war… Hani’s diplomatic skills will be pushed to the limit in this final book in The Lord Hani Mysteries.
Pilot Who Knows the Waters is a really well-written novel, stuffed full of historical detail and with a charming main character, Hani.
I have a real fascination with ancient Egypt, (some might blame Stargate but I actually think it’s more to do with Paul Doherty’s mystery books, the Amerotke Mysteries), and I love it when authors manage to recreate so much of the detail. It also perhaps helps that I’ve just read Simon Turney’s new Egypt-based Roman stories, The Capsarius and Bellatrix. It’s fabulous to find all the little connections between these stories.
The writing style is very engaging, and I don’t think many authors manage to recreate the omnipresent, but character specific point of views in the main narrative well, but NL Holmes certainly does so. With the point of view switching from Hani to his son in law, and also his father, the audience are treated to a number of different thoughts and feelings.
I also really enjoyed the fact that the author provided enough detail for the long journeys but without making it a day by day account of what was happening. Again, I think this is a real skill.
I’m so glad I decided to read Pilot Who Knows the Water, and yes, it might be book 6 in a series, but that just means I get to go back to the beginning now and read the stories that have led to this moment.
A wonderful novel, rich in historical detail, but incredibly readable and with a lovely pacing. So enjoyable.
Meet the author
N.L. Holmes is the pen name of a professional archaeologist who received her doctorate from Bryn Mawr College. She has excavated in Greece and in Israel, and taught ancient history and humanities at the university level for many years. She has always had a passion for books, and in childhood, she and her cousin (also a writer today) used to write stories for fun. Today, she and her husband live in France with their chickens and cats, where she weaves, plays the violin, gardens, and dances.
Education during the Tudor era was a privilege and took many forms including schools, colleges and apprenticeships. Those responsible for delivering education came from a variety of backgrounds from the humble parish priest to the most famed poet-laureates of the day. Curriculums varied according to wealth, gender and geography. The wealthy could afford the very best of tutors and could study as much or as little as they chose whilst the poorer members of society could only grasp at opportunities in the hopes of providing themselves with a better future.
The Tudors were educated during a time when the Renaissance was sweeping across Europe and Henry VIII became known as a Renaissance Prince but what did his education consist of? Who were his tutors? How did his education differ to that of his elder brother, Prince Arthur and how did Henry’s education change upon the death of his brother? There is no doubt Henry was provided with an excellent education, particularly in comparison to his sisters, Margaret and Mary. Henry’s own education would go on to influence his decisions of tutors for his own children. Who had the privilege of teaching Henry’s children and did they dare to use corporal punishment?
Educating the Tudors seeks to answer all of these questions, delving into the education of all classes, the subjects they studied, educational establishment and those who taught them.
Educating the Tudors by Amy McElroy is a fascinating and thorough examination of the state of education for all during the Tudor era, following developments due to the Renaissance and the Reformation, as well as the introduction of the printing press. Not content with researching the tutors of the royal children from Arthur to Edward, Amy has also examined education for all levels of society as well as what would have been taught. With an eye for the difference between class, sex and wealth, Amy has examined what education was, and how it was undertaken, as well as the titans who were making use of their interest in learning to advance learning for all, making use of the printing press, even as they sought to catch the eye of the reigning monarch.
And this isn’t just book-learning, but also the paths of apprenticeships, as well as how people became lawyers, and just what effect the Reformation did have on an education system that was so heavily reliant on priests and had to be radically rethought when the monasteries, and later, chantries were closed.
I was fascinated by the subject matter, and learned so much from reading this book – indeed, even things I’ve read about before suddenly made a lot more sense.
An absorbing and well-researched book, which is sure to fascinate all those interested in the Tudors, as well as the development of education in England.
(I found the subject matter absolutely fascinating, especially as I’ve personally been researching the education of the children of King Alfred. I was struck by the similarities, despite the six hundred plus year distance between the two eras. I’m sure I won’t be alone in that – I hope:) And there’s a another link between the Tudors and the Saxons, as it was the renewed interest in learning that is responsible for many of the surviving Saxon text we now have, including the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.)
My thanks to the author, the publisher and Netgalley for my review copy, but my hardback is in the post as well:)
Meet the Author
Amy my was born and bred in Liverpool before moving to the Midlands to study Criminal Justice eventually becoming a civil servant. She has long been interested in history, reading as much and as often as she could. Her writing journey began with her blog, sharing thoughts on books she had read, before developing to writing reviews for Aspects of History magazine and culminating in her own book.
A serial killer is being driven to Birmingham Crown Court in a prison van, escorted by police, to give evidence for the prosecution in a murder case. But armed members of a criminal gang, including one of two corrupt detectives, are lying in ambush, ready to free the prisoner from custody.
Detective Sergeant Bains flicked off the car radio. He glanced towards the driver sitting beside him, Tahir Khan. They had turned off the main Pershore Road in Edgbaston and were parked in a black Audi Q7, which had tinted rear and side windows, a few metres along a side road, Brunel Way, close to Calthorpe Park.
‘Shouldn’t be long now,’ Bains remarked. ‘I’ve got three guys on look-out and we should hear from them the minute the convoy appears.’
‘Bloody cold today,’ moaned Khan, who like Bains was wearing suitably dark clothing.
‘Yes, but at least it’s stopped raining.’
‘Why did you decide we should stop here? I’d have thought it would’ve been easier to do this little job in a quiet country lane.’
‘Well, Seymour found out the main route they usually take up from the Vale is along the A441 and then they take the inner ring road. They’re mainly fast roads and, of course, there’s a chance they’d be on a blue light. The only part of the journey where they’re forced to slow down is here. They turn off the Pershore Road and use this street as a cut-through to Bristol Road at the other end. So this is our only chance before they hit the dual carriageway.’
‘How does Seymour know they always come along here?
‘We’ve got an insider. The prison driver’s wife used to live round here, so he’s very familiar with the area. There’s an added bonus for us – there aren’t many shops round here, so there’s not much in the way of CCTV.’
Just then Bains’ mobile phone rang. It was Leroy, one of the new gang members Blake had recently taken on. The sergeant looked at his watch.
‘What did you say, Leroy? … It’s just coming up to twenty past one and they’ve just passed the zoo at Cannon Hill? … OK, thanks, mate,’ said Bains as he ended the call.
‘I’ll just let the brothers know,’ he told Khan, while pressing buttons on his phone.
‘Hello, is that Gabriel? … Hi, it’s Phil. They’ll be here in a couple of minutes. Are you both ready? … Good. Don’t forget to dispose of your phone afterwards … OK, so you know exactly what to do? … Good man!’
The minutes ticked by. The two men put black balaclavas over their heads. The sergeant, who had a Beretta pistol on his lap, was becoming nervous. The adrenalin was beginning to flow. He kept glancing over his shoulder at Khan’s sawn-off shotgun on the back seat and watching in the side mirror as the traffic passed slowly along the Pershore Road behind.
Suddenly they became aware of a siren in the distance. The noise became louder until the pair spotted a glimmering blue light near the junction. Khan flashed his headlights on and off to alert Gabriel and Dominik Nowak – who were two hundred metres ahead at the entrance to the Bedford housing estate. The Nowaks started up their hired box lorry and waited in anticipation just a few metres back from Brunel Way.
Within seconds, a police motorcycle appeared at the Pershore Road junction, where its rider halted briefly to cast his eyes around. Then he set off along the cut-through.
After he had travelled at least a hundred metres up the street, two constables in a police Ford Focus with its siren blaring turned the corner, followed closely by a white prison van with blacked-out windows. A solitary officer in a police Range Rover brought up the rear.
The motorcyclist continued past the entrance on the right to the Bedford estate, but no sooner had he gone by than the eighteen-tonne lorry lurched across the road, at once separating the rider from the police car.
The lorry careered directly in front of the car driver – forcing him to slam on his brakes.
The van driver behind was compelled to do the same. The lorry, which was eleven metres long, completely blocked the road. Despite the police driver turning off his siren and hooting his horn instead, the man in the cab made no attempt to shift it.
Then, just as the constable was thinking of stepping out of the car to have words with the driver, he was stunned into shock. Part of the lorry’s blue webbing was hauled back and a man in a black balaclava strode across the lorry’s floor – like an actor taking to the stage in a chilling melodrama.
What really caught the attention of the two officers in the Focus was that the slim man, Dominik Nowak, was grasping a double-barrelled shotgun. He pointed his menacing weapon at the car’s windscreen, ordering the constables to remain inside.
Meet the author
I am a semi-retired journalist who was born in West Kent. While growing up, I spent hours reading and writing, and, from an early age, nursed an ambition to become first a journalist and then novelist. My theory was that, in order to write novels, one had to have life experiences to colour one’s writing and one could obtain those experiences through journalism.
I was fortunate enough to be named Time-Life Magazine Student Journalist of the Year in 1971 in a competition organised by the National Union of Students. At the time, I was editing the student newspaper at Hull University, where I gained a BA Honours degree in History and Political Studies.
After six years working on provincial newspapers in Sidcup, Worcester and Cardiff, I became a freelance journalist in London. For 24 years, I was a reporter on the staff of the Sunday People (now part of Reach plc, formerly Trinity Mirror). Over the years, I sold tens of thousands of stories to the national newspapers, including the Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, The Sun, Daily Star, Daily Telegraph and London Evening Standard. I helped cover the Jeremy Thorpe trial at the Old Bailey for the Evening Standard. I broke the news in a Sun newspaper exclusive in April 1989 that Bill Wyman, the Rolling Stones guitarist aged 52, was to marry 18-year-old Mandy Smith. I bought 200 blank MOT forms to expose a trade in fake certificates.
My speciality was tracking people down. For instance, I found evidence about Rod Stewart’s secret love child Sarah Streeter by tracing a retired adoption agent through a library ticket. On one occasion, I took an escaped gangster back to prison. Some of my stories can be read on my website (see below); others are generally available online. For thirty years, I was also employed as a birth and marriage researcher mainly for the Mail on Sunday, Sunday Mirror, Sunday People and The Sun.
I have a grown-up son and four grown-up daughters who all live in South Wales.
Gritta, Appel, and Efi managed to survive the Black Death, only to find that they are in desperate need of money. With limited options and lots of obstacles, they band together to become alewives – brewing and selling ale in the free Alsatian town of Colmar. But when an elderly neighbor is discovered dead in her house, the alewives cannot convince the sheriff and the town council that her death wasn’t an accident, it was murder. As the body count piles up, the ale flows and mystery is afoot!
Set in the tumultuous years after the most devastating pandemic the world has ever experienced, The Alewives is a playful romp through a dark time, when society was reeling from loss and a grieving population attempted to return to normal, proving that with the bonds of love, friendship, and humor, the human spirit will always continue to shine.
The Alewives is a fantastically well-written murder mystery set in the immediate aftermath of the Black Death, with delightful characters and a sinister murderer and thief, at the heart of all the problems. Set in the tannery area of Colmar, something smells bad.
The three main characters of Gritta, Appel, and Efi are all glorious creations – Grita with her useless husband and horde of children (she had 12, you see), Appel with her mysterious nighttime activities, and young Efi, who has the sense of a young kid goat at the beginning of the tale.
This story is immersive and filled with just enough tension and humour to make even a story about those who survived the Black Death an absolute delight to read. The humour is well constructed, the antics of the three women, acting a little outside the ‘law’ in a deeply patriarchal society that doesn’t allow women to brew their own ale for profit, artfully created, and even the Friar, Wikerus, is a sympathetic character, in the end. The three women are put upon. Society is against them, as is the sheriff (all the male characters are dismissive of the women, but they get on with it, doing all they can to circumnavigate the obstacles placed in their path), and the church, and just about everyone else, but they triumph.
The mystery itself is really well constructed, as are the red herrings. I didn’t know who the culprit(s) (no spoilers here) were until the big reveal.
A short, sharp, snappy, hugely entertaining, medieval mystery that portrays the realities of life at the time, with just the right amount of humour to make it thoroughly entertaining. A well-deserved 5/5 from me!
Meet the Author
Elizabeth R. Andersen’s debut novel, The Scribe, launched in July of 2021. Although she spent many years of her life as a journalist, independent fashion designer, and overworked tech employee, there have always been two consistent loves in her life: writing and history. She finally decided to do something about this and put them both together.
Elizabeth lives in the Seattle area with her long-suffering husband and young son. On the weekends she usually hikes in the stunning Cascade mountains to hide from people and dream up new plotlines and characters.
Casual antique dealer Jake Patch picks up an unusual object and can’t put it down. Literally. His find is a time travel device, and he hatches a bold plan to acquire objects from the past and sell them at modern day prices. But when the mysterious Infinity Glass leaves Patch stranded in a dangerous past, it falls to his teen daughter Cass to save him.
With hints of The Time Traveller’s Wife and Back to the Future and a smattering of Lovejoy, Patches through Time will send you spinning headlong into the past, then spit you back into the twenty-first century.
This book contains occasional profanities. Trigger warning: bereavement (parent, spouse).
Patches Through Time is a really enjoyable novel. It hooked me from the beginning, with its premise of limited and location-specific time travel.
Patch is a great character, but the story really comes to life with the point of view switch to Cass, and having visited a handful of places in the distant past, much of the narrative revolves around events in war-torn Hastings in the early 1940s. The author does an excellent job of reconstructing the past locations, and the characters that Patch and Cass meet there are believable and all bring something new to the story.
I’m not sure if the plan is to write a sequel, but if it is, then, I’ll happily read it, as I think there’s much more that Cass and Patch can do with their time travelling device.
A thoroughly enjoyable novel.
Meet the author
Sian Turner was born in Wales, but lives in East Sussex. She has recently started learning Welsh (and can categorically testify that Welsh is difficult).
She works as a part-time volunteer in her local RSPCA cat re-homing centre, from where she keeps adopting new family members (only one or two at a time).
Sian enjoys reading and reviewing some of the many truly amazing novels by Independent Authors, and she is secretary of her local writers’ group, Shorelink Writers.
A dead body. A hoard of forged banknotes. A gangster out for blood.
Newcastle, December 1955. Returning home after a weekend away, singer and amateur sleuth Rosie Robson discovers a man lying on a baggage trolley with his throat cut. After the police get involved, an attack on Rosie and her boss prompts Inspector Vic Walton to find a safe house for the pair. But the bad guys seem to be one step ahead of them and Rosie is forced to track down a possible witness to the murder in a bid to learn the truth. Can the canny crooner solve the mystery before a Newcastle gang boss catches up with her?
Set on Tyneside, Blood on the Tyne: Red Snow is book #3 in the Rosie Robson Murder Mysteries series.
Extract from: Blood on the Tyne: Red Snow by Colin Garrow (contains some strong language)
Having tracked down the train station porter to a Gateshead apartment, Rosie and Frankie question him about money he stole from the dead man’s pocket. Finally admitting his crime, the porter hands over the money. But a man in a trench coat is watching the building:
Frankie wandered into the kitchen while I counted the notes. Three hundred and thirty pounds. I looked up at the porter. ‘Not worth getting killed over, is it?’
He worked his mouth for a minute. ‘Ye’re sayin it belongs to that Danny Fisher, are ye?’
‘Know him, do you?’
‘Only by reputation.’ He pointed to the money. ‘So are yous gonna give it him back?’
I laughed. ‘Don’t be daft. This’ll go to the police.’
Martin’s eyes widened. He stared at me. ‘But what if Fisher thinks Ah’ve still got it?’
I hadn’t considered what the consequences might be for Martin if Fisher did track him down. I studied the carpet for a moment, thinking. ‘If he didn’t suspect you’d nicked it, he’d have no reason to come visiting, would he?’
He glared at me. ‘But ye said,’ stabbing the air with a grubby finger, ‘ye said if Ah didn’t talk to yous, Ah’d have to deal with Fisher.’
I shook my head. ‘I implied that if we were able to find you, sooner or later he would too.’
His eyes almost popped out of his head. ‘Jezaz Christ. So, he might still turn up here, eh?’
‘He might. But if no-one saw you take the cash, there’s nothing to worry about.’ I looked hard at him. ‘No-one didsee you, did they?’ I’d dismissed the idea that Fisher might’ve seen something while he’d been standing by the bridge on the station platform. If he had seen the porter messing with the body, he’d have been here already, and we’d likely have another dead body to deal with.
‘Oh, Christ, man.’ Martin threw his hands up in the air. ‘When Ah found the money, Ah shook so much Ah could hardly walk. Ye could’ve driven a steam train up me arse and Ah’d not have noticed.’
I tried not to laugh. Resting a hand on his arm, I said, ‘Look. We’ll tell the police where we got it and they’ll probably come round to speak to you. If you’re worried about anything—’
Frank grabbed my shoulder. ‘We’ve got a problem, bonny lass.’
I followed him back into the kitchen. The man in the trench coat stood in the lane, looking up at the flat. Now though, he had two more men with him. Behind him, Maurice’s car had been pushed out of its hiding place.
‘Is that who I think it is?’
‘It’s not the fuckin Pied Piper, that’s for sure,’ said Frankie.
Back in the living room, I caught sight of Martin making for the front door.
‘I wouldn’t do that, Mr Sutherland,’ I called.
He turned and stared at me. ‘Well Ah’m not bloody stayin here to get me neck sliced open.’
‘No, and neither are we. Is there a fire escape?’
He paused. ‘Not from this building.’ He came back into the room. ‘If we could get onto the roof…’
‘Aye. The warehouse next door has a fire escape.’
Frankie pushed past me and opened the flat door. Me and Martin followed him. Gazing over the banister into the stairwell below, we peered into darkness. Everything seemed quiet.
Frankie shushed me. Lowering his voice, he murmured, ‘There’s someone there.’
Turning to the porter, I whispered, ‘How do we get to the roof?’
I didn’t hear what Martin said, my attention focused on the shadowy figures sliding up the first flight of stairs towards us.
Blood on the Tyne: Red Snow by Colin Garrow is an exciting murder mystery set in and around Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland and Northumberland in 1955.
Many of the locations are familiar to me, and I could quite happily trace Rosie’s journey upon discovering a body at Newcastle train station on her return from York.
This really is a fast-paced tale of murder, mayhem, forgery and gangsters. Rosie is headstrong even when embroiled in something far beyond her control. She’s resourceful and determined to find out the truth and stay alive.
Surrounding her is a great cast of supporting characters, and the story takes some quite unexpected twists and turns before reaching its conclusion.
As might be expected, there is some foul language throughout the book, and the author has also done a great job of ensuring the Geordie accent is prevalent throughout. Readers will quickly come to ‘hear’ the characters as well as read about them.
An entertaining read.
Meet the Author
True-born Geordie Colin Garrow grew up in a former mining town in Northumberland and has worked in a plethora of professions including taxi driver, antiques dealer, drama facilitator, theatre director and fish processor. He has also occasionally masqueraded as a pirate. Colin’s published books include the Watson Letters series, the Terry Bell Mysteries and the Rosie Robson Murder Mysteries. His short stories have appeared in several literary mags, including: SN Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Grind, A3 Review, Inkapture and Scribble Magazine. These days he lives in a humble cottage in Northeast Scotland.
Today, I’m sharing an excerpt from Holly Bush’s new book, The Captain’s Woman.
The Captain’s Woman – Excerpt
“I promise, Mrs. Phillips. I will not forget to stop and see you,” Anthony said to his landlady as the last of his things were loaded into a closed wagon sent by his stableman, Mr. Reynolds, to Devlin Street. His stableman! It was still hard to believe that the changes in his life were real. That they’d actually happened.
“I’m so happy for you and that dear child of yours,” she said as she wiped tears from her eyes.
“And do not hesitate to call on John Pennyknoll. He’s a good all-around carpenter and won’t gouge you. And the veterans, especially the wounded ones, need work.”
“Mr. Pennyknoll seems to know his way around a hammer, but it won’t be you.”
“You are too kind. Now please get out of this wind. I carried down all the extra coal I had in my rooms for you to use.”
He looked over her shoulder and saw Ann trudging through the snow holding the hand of Sister Ann Marie. She was not chattering or smiling. In fact, her head was hanging. Strange to see his girl less than happy, especially as of late, after he’d told her about having her own room and a school nearby her new home for her to attend. She looked up, saw him, and ran straight to him. Her face was tear streaked.
“Papa,” she said softly against his neck as he held her. “I will miss the sisters and all the children. I want to take them all with us to our new home so they will have a home too, but I know I can’t.”
He kissed her forehead. “I’ve promised Mrs. Phillips we will visit occasionally. We’ll make time to visit the orphanage too.”
“Maybe Miss Thompson will bring me with her when she comes.”
“We will see.”
“I’m excited about all the changes and scared too, Papa.”
“I know exactly what you mean. It is a bit overwhelming.”
She shimmied down from his arms and hurried over to hug Mrs. Phillips, who was drying her tears with the corner of her white apron. Anthony glanced up at the windows of his room, his former room, and felt a little melancholy too. Not for the worry that he wouldn’t be able to pay Mrs. Phillips what was owed or if he would be able to replace Ann’s clothes as she grew out of them, but for the community that he’d found in the orphanage, at the grocer and other businesses, and with his landlady.
He would not be sad long, however, and he did not think Ann would be either. Not once they’d settled into their new home on Spruce and 33rd Street. The street bordered the wealthiest section of the city and was only a few blocks from the Vermeal mansion and their headquarters nearby. He’d been to see it already, accompanied by Mr. Critchfeld and the housekeeper, Mrs. Smithy, who was to see to the redecorating or updating that would need to be done. He’d been overwhelmed at the time and said very little. The house held fifteen rooms, not counting staff quarters. There was a small ballroom, a large library, a formal dining room, and a casual parlor on the second floor where he imagined he and Ann would spend much of their time. There was indoor plumbing, including hot water and a bathing room near his suite and one on the top floor for the staff. The kitchen, which the cook informed him she would prefer he stay out of, had every modern appliance available recently installed.
He took Ann’s hand as she waved with the other to Mrs. Phillips and led her to the small carriage, where Reynolds was holding open the door for he and Ann to climb in. He turned to her when they were settled and she’d shouted her last good-bye to Mrs. Phillips. Reynolds climbed in his seat in front of them, flicking the reins for the horse to begin moving.
“We are on our way, Papa,” she said. “There are so many things to think about!”
“We are on our way, but we are not going to hurry any of our decisions. We are going to take our time and allow ourselves to be accustomed to our new home. Other than new clothes I’ve ordered and the new clothes to be made for you, we need not worry about anything.”
Twenty minutes later, she was latched on to his arm as they pulled up to the brick house, the snow swept from the stone walkway and steps. They both sat still, looking at the bright red front door and peering up at the three stories of windows, even after Reynolds had opened the door of the carriage.
“Come along now, dear,” he said. “Let us see our new lodgings.”
She glanced at him. “It seems every bit as nice as Mrs. Phillips’s house.”
It took him a moment to realize she was teasing him, trying to lighten their mood. “I will miss the steps that creaked so loudly I worried I was about to fall through them.”
“I will miss running to the water closet in the middle of a cold night,” she said with a smile.
“Perhaps we will tell the housekeeper to light no fires in our sleeping rooms so we will be comfortably cold.”
She laughed then and looked back at the house through the open carriage door. “Oh, Papa! It is so beautiful! And we are keeping poor Mr. Reynolds out in the cold.”
She held his hand as they went up the brick walk. The door was opened by Mrs. Smithy. “Come in out of this weather, young lady,” the woman said.
“It is very cold out,” Ann said and held out her hand. “Good morning. I am Ann Marcus.”
The housekeeper smiled and took her hand. “And I am Mrs. Smithy. I am so glad to be managing a household with such a lovely young lady in residence.” She looked up at him. “Welcome home, sir.”
Here’s the blurb
Meet the Thompsons of Locust Street, an unconventional family taking Philadelphia high society by storm…
1870 ~ Muireall Thompson has taken her duties seriously since her parents died on the family’s crossing from Scotland to America in 1854. As the eldest sibling, their death made her responsible for her family and left little time for a life of her own. But now her brothers and sisters are adults; even the youngest is nearly ready to face the world on his own. What will she do when she is alone, other than care for an elderly aunt and volunteer at the Sisters of Charity orphanage? Has the chance for a husband and children of her own passed her by?
Widower Anthony Marcus, formerly a captain in the Union Army, is a man scraping the bottom of his dignity and hanging on to his honor by the barest thread. Reduced to doing odd jobs to keep a roof over his dear daughter Ann’s head, he often leaves her with the Sisters of Charity while he is out seeking steady work with a decent salary that will allow him to move from their single-room living quarters.
After an initial meeting that finds Muireall and Anthony at odds, a tentative friendship forms as they bond over their mutual affection for Ann. As friendship leads to passion, can a wealthy spinster and a poor soldier overcome their differences in station to forge a future together? Just as Muireall finds the courage to reach for her own happiness, Anthony’s past rises up between them and an old enemy reemerges to bring the Thompson family down once and for all. Will the divide between them be insurmountable, or can they put aside pride and doubt for a love worth fighting for?
Holly Bush writes historical romance set in the U.S.in the late 1800’s, in Victorian England, and an occasional Women’s Fiction title. Her books are described as emotional, with heartfelt, sexy romance. She makes her home with her husband in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Connect with Holly at www.hollybushbooks.com and on Twitter @hollybushbooks and on Facebook at Holly Bush.
Warrior and combat medic of the Twenty Second Legion, Titus Cervianus, must fight the armies of the fabled Warrior Queen in this blistering new Roman adventure from Simon Turney.
Egypt, 25 BC. Titus Cervianus is no ordinary soldier. And the Twenty Second is no ordinary legion. Formed from the personal guard of a conquered king, the Twenty Second’s ways are strange to soldiers of the Empire – yet the legion has proved itself in the blistering heat of the desert.
Cervianus and his comrades march into the unknown as he and the Twenty Second Legion contend with the armies of the Bellatrix: the Warrior Queen of Kush. The Kushites and the Egyptians are united against the Roman presence in their lands – but there are complex political and military forces at work. Deep in the deserts, Cervianus and his comrades must brace themselves for a furious onslaught as they take on the might of the Bellatrix.
Bellatrix is the sequel to The Capsarius, (find my review here) a book that I thought was fantastic. I’ve been desperately waiting for Bellatrix, and it doesn’t disappoint.
From the first page, we’re plunged once more into the heat and cold of Egypt’s desert, an intense journey that makes for difficult reading at times. Our Capsarius is sorely tested. He’s not happy to be there, but he has orders to follow, and follow them he must. Luckily, his tent-mate, Ulxsses, is at his side, and just about manages to refrain from causing trouble for quite some time. Not that he manages to continue to do so for long.
This truly is a story about surviving against the odds. If you think the desert trek is bad, then things are only going to get much, much worse for our soldiers.
What I enjoy most about these stories of The Capsarius is the complete change of scene. I don’t read huge amounts of Roman-era fiction, although it’s a period that’s certainly growing on me, but even I know many of these stories take place in Europe or the UK. Egypt is completely new, and the clash of cultures between Rome and the Kush, is one of the highlights of the books.
Bellatrix is a worthy sequel to The Capsarius. You can taste the sand in your mouth and the pounding heat on your head as the story surges towards its stunning conclusion. Highly recommended.
Meet the Author
Simon Turney is from Yorkshire and, having spent much of his childhood visiting historic sites, fell in love with the Roman heritage of the region. His fascination with the ancient world snowballed from there with great interest in Rome, Egypt, Greece and Byzantium. His works include the Marius’ Mules and Praetorian series, the Tales of the Empire and The Damned Emperor series, and the Rise of Emperors books with Gordon Doherty. He lives in North Yorkshire with his family.