Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Historical Fiction Enticements 5/29

Of Carrion Feathers
Katherine Pym

Of Carrion Feathers takes place in London 1662 during the worst of the nonconformist uprisings, and plots are rampant against the king.

Oliver Prior is a man jaded and alone. While still a lad, his parents abandon him after his sister is killed, and this loss haunts him into adulthood. With nothing to live for, Oliver Prior enters the Crown’s burgeoning spy network.

Beatrice Short’s goal is to go on stage, but she must work as a servant. While cleaning, she finds ciphers and invisible script. After the king’s undersecretary finds her snooping, he recognizes her brilliance in breaking code and blackmails her into going undercover as a spy.

Beatrice does not want to be a spy.  Since the king returned from exile, he had brought the French way of the theatre, which put women on stage.  Beatrice wants to be an actress, but as a servant, she doesn't have the coin to take music and dance lessons. After getting caught by the Undersecretary, he strikes a bargain with her. If she spies, and breaks code, the Crown will pay for her lessons.

Beatrice reluctantly agrees. She is paired with Oliver Prior, and they go undercover to a bakeshop. For most of their mission, neither knows the other works for the Undersecretary--a wily, controlling fellow. Beatrice figures it out much sooner that Prior, since she's so smart, but when Oliver finds out, he is furious.

While Oliver and Beatrice bond to discover the backbone of insidious schemes to kill the king, they learn who runs the plots. He is a man steeped in hate, and he must be put down.

Amazon US
Amazon UK


What the Silk Mercer’s Daughter Saw
A Theo Bryght, Runner Mystery
Jolie Beaumont

A dead racehorse in provincial, mercantile Chester is definitely not Theo Bryght’s cup of claret.

But when the Bow Street Runner learns that the owner of the racehorse, Mr. William Halsey, is a lovesick young man whose matrimonial hopes may have been slain along with his poisoned horse, Bryght agrees to take on the case.

To Chester he therefore goes, and in Chester the Runner is quickly confronted with the news of another death—the untimely demise of Mr. Thomas Steele, a wealthy silk mercer who happens to be the father of Emily Steele, the young woman that William Halsey loves.

Is there a connection between the two incidents, as the whispers wending their way through Chester’s mysterious, medieval Rows seem to suggest? Or can at least one of the deaths, the poisoning of Thomas Steele, be laid at the door of a new arrival in town, Alexander Steele, the estranged heir to the Steele fortune? And what about Halsey and Emily Steele—will love conquer all, or will these two crimes drive them apart forever?

To complicate matters even further for Theo Bryght, who is no stranger to dashed hopes and disappointed dreams himself, his investigations take an unexpected and personal turn when he discovers that in Chester he has a second chance to win the love of his life, Lady Charlotte Ashe.

Amazon US
Amazon UK


Running with Crows - The Life and Death of a Black and Tan
DJ Kelly

It is 1921. In Ireland a war of bloody reprisals wages between Republican volunteers and Royal Irish Constabulary. The Constabulary, their ranks augmented by Great War veterans – dubbed The Black and Tans – face daily ambushes and sieges. Outrages are perpetrated by both sides in this struggle for an independent Ireland. Meanwhile, in Dublin’s Mountjoy Gaol, 33 year old Constable William ‘Mitch’ Mitchell awaits execution for the murder, in a quiet Wicklow town, of respected magistrate Robert Dixon. Fearing he will never again see his lovely young wife Alice or get to hold his newborn daughter Kitty before he goes to the scaffold, former soldier Mitch reflects upon his life and the people and circumstances which have led him to his fate.

A little-known fact is that at least a quarter of the notorious Black and Tans were Irish. Mitch too is an Irishman; raised in Dublin’s Monto slum district, where his first love affair ends most cruelly; introduced to petty crime as an adolescent in Bermondsey’s foul tannery district; defending King and Empire from India to the trenches of the Western Front until badly wounded at The Somme. DJ Kelly’s fact-based novel tells the true and hitherto untold story of the only member of the British Crown Forces to be hanged for murder during the Irish War of Independence, and asks: did he actually kill the magistrate or was this perhaps an awful miscarriage of justice.

'A fascinating book ... impressive research ... What Kelly has done is to put a face and a real story to one of the most notorious paramilitary groups ever ... an absolutely fascinating read ... a thoroughly researched book.’ David Lawlor, Associate Editor, Irish Evening Herald

‘An excellently written novel, fast-paced and with a compelling storyline ... utterly believable and not easily forgotten ... I heartily recommend this book.’ Dr Chris Lawlor, West Wicklow Historical Society

Amazon US
Amazon UK


A Notable Occupation
Patricia O'Sullivan

"Every day more British war ships appeared in Narragansett Bay, blockading Newport's harbor. Trade was cut off, and just about everyone in our little Synagogue community began to leave for safer havens inland. But it was not just the Jews who were fleeing Newport. Hundreds of Christians were leaving as well. Shops and houses were boarded up, ships no longer crowded the port, and church bells fell silent. Only the fog remained unmoved by the British threat. The fog and Herr Marck."

Rachel Meares is unhappily married to a German smuggler, in love with a British physician, and forced to spy for the American rebels by her African slaves, who know too many of her secrets, including how her brother and father are running guns to the Americans from a Dutch island in the Caribbean. There seems to be no escape for Rachel from her marriage or from Newport when the rebel spy blackmailing Rachel decides to take matters into his own hands.

Set against the British occupation of Newport in Narragansett Bay and of St. Eustatius in the Caribbean Sea during the American War for Independence, A Notable Occupation is a story about a young Jewish woman trying to find love in a time of war.

Amazon US
Amazon UK


A House Near Luccoli
D.M. Denton

A Novel of Musical Intimacy and Intrigue in 17th Century Genoa

Published by All Things That Matter Press

High expectations, magnificent music, reckless choices, and the paradox of genius defined the life of one of the most legendary and undervalued figures of Italian Baroque music.

In 1678 the charismatic composer, violinist and singer Alessandro Stradella sought refuge in the palaces and twisted alleys of Genoa, royally welcomed despite the alleged scandals and even crimes that forced him to flee from Rome, Venice and Turin. Three years later, having lost a prime position at the city’s la Teatro Falcone and residence on the city’s street of palaces, la Strada Nuova, his professional and personal life have begun to unravel again. Yet Stradella is offered—by the very man he is rumored to have wronged—a respectable if slightly shabby apartment in a house near la via Luccoli, and another chance to redeem his character and career.

He moves in with a flourish met with curiosity and consternation by the caretakers who are also tenants, three women whose reputations are only of concern to themselves.

One of those women, Donatella, unmarried in her mid-thirties, cares more for her bedridden grandmother and cats than overbearing aunt, keeping house and tending to a small terraced garden, painting flowers and writing in her journal. Like the city she lives in there are hidden longings in her, propriety the rule not cure for what ails her.

At first she is in awe of Stradella and certain she will have little to do with him. Slowly his ego, playfulness, need of a copyist and camouflage involve her in an inspired and insidious world, exciting and heartbreaking as she is enlarged by his magnanimity and reduced by his missteps, forging a friendship that challenges how far she will go.

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Historical Fiction Enticements 5/22

Enjoy our five Historical Fiction synopses. Historical Fiction Enticements is a regular Wednesday feature on this blog. 

Fair Weather
Barbara Gaskell Denvil

His voice haunts her quiet hours and like the rustle of dead leaves it whispers, threatening and insistent.

All her life Molly has been haunted. The place of her visions is dark and its people are troubled by hunger and poverty. This is the distant past – England at the turn of the 13th Century; medieval shadows during the reign of King John. The past and the present exist at the same time.

Her personality splits and as the past encroaches further, Molly inhabits the life and thoughts of Tilda, a young orphaned waif whose friends and companions are a group of children, taught to steal to avoid starvation in a period of famine. They are looked after by an ambiguous figure whose motives seem confusing and dangerous. At best, he appears more aware of the alchemy inherent in the time switch than should be expected. Molly is not frightened at first, she is bewitched and excited. She loves Tilda and wants to protect her. Gradually she learns to relish her experiences in medieval London, and regrets all spontaneous returns to her modern platitudes.

But it is murder within her own modern time which suddenly changes everything. Molly is drawn into the police investigation, and now pulled between past and present, each as disturbing as the other, she becomes confused. Then an identical murder in the haunted past of her dreams joins the two worlds in equal danger. Molly passes between. She travels time while followed by a horror which kills and mutilates at will. She has opened the way to evil and the man, his words ever echoing, is always there.

It is the ancient battle between good and evil, yet Molly discovers far more than fear and misery. In both this world and that there are astonishing surprises, and some involve her more personally than she could even have dreamed. She discovers a whole new life, and a love she could never have imagined. She no longer wishes to lose the deep happiness of the past – but she is given no choice. Choice seems to be the last thing she can be allowed.

This is a historical thriller set in England of 800 years ago compared to modern values. The plot is founded on strong individual characterisation with a deep magical content, several important twists, and considerable inherent romance.

Amazon US
Amazon UK


A Thing Done
Tinney Sue Heath

Florence, 1216: The noble families of Florence hold great power, but they do not share it easily. Tensions simmer just below the surface. When Corrado the Jester's prank-for-hire at a banquet goes wrong, a brawl erupts between two knightly factions. Blood is spilled, and Florence reels on the brink of civil war. One side makes the traditional offer of a marriage to restore peace, but that fragile peace crumbles under the pressure of a woman's interference, an unforgivable insult, and an outraged cry for revenge. It's the thirteenth century, and the great families do not forgive – they even the score, for lost honor must be regained.

Corrado is pressed into unwilling service as messenger by both sides, watching in horror as the headstrong knight Buondelmonte violates every standard of chivalry to possess the woman he wants, while his betrothed, spurned and furious, schemes to destroy him. Corrado is sworn to silence, but he already knows too much. The need for secrecy is destroying all trust between the Jester and his housemate Neri, the musician who is like a brother to him. The Jester can neither stop the inexorable tide of events nor step outside of it to safety.

Will Buondelmonte's reckless act set off a full-scale vendetta? If it does, will even the Jester's famous wit and ingenuity be enough to keep himself alive and protect those dear to him? And what of his beloved city, torn apart by the knights' bitter feud?

Corrado's story is also the story of three fiercely determined women in a society that allows them little initiative. Selvaggia may have been humiliated, but as Corrado will learn, she is not a woman to cross. Gualdrada is the proudly partisan noblewoman who tempts Buondelmonte with her daughter's extraordinary beauty. She manipulates him adroitly, alternately goading and flattering him. Ghisola, Corrado's great-hearted friend and Neri's lover, agonizes over the rift between Corrado and Neri. From behind the scenes each will do whatever she must to achieve her goal—to avenge, to prevail, to survive.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

The Last King of Lydia
Tim Leach

In the ancient world, myth is more important than history, martial strength is the only guarantor of peace, and the power of the fickle Gods is feared by all. It is in this world that Croesus, a king of legendary wealth and ruler of a great empire, finds himself haunted all his life by a single question – what does it mean to be happy?

When an old Greek philosopher gives him a troubling answer – that no man can be called happy until he is dead – Croesus dismisses it as nonsense. Surrounded by a loving family and benevolent ruler of a peaceful kingdom, his happiness seems assured. But a new power rising in the east threatens to shatter his idyllic life of wealth, power and love. As his world begins to collapse around him, he will find everything that he holds dear under threat, everything that he thought about himself newly questioned.

Following in the tradition of writers like Robert Graves, Mary Renault and Gore Vidal, this is a story about the corruption of power, the birth of wealth and empire, and the search for redemption when all hope seems lost.

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Waterstones UK

The Fall of the Empire
Zoe Saadia

"One empire is about to fall, another is about to rise - the Empire is dead, long live the Empire.

A successful trader, a slave girl, an ambitious warlord of the invading forces, thrown together in a triangle neither of the three anticipated, in the face of the war that is destined to change the history of the Mexican Valley, bringing the Aztecs to power.

Having just been advanced into the ranks of the first-class traders, Etl thought his life could not get any better. He was a trader of the Tepanec Empire, living in the Great Capital itself. Yes, there had been a war, an outright revolt by the united tributaries and other subdued nations of his beloved city-state, but those would be squashed easily. The Tepanecs were always victorious.

The only thing that made him worry was the decision of Tlalli, the girl from the marketplace he liked, to sell herself into the Palace’s services. He didn't want her to do that, having intended to take care of her himself, but the stubborn, pretty thing went on and did it all the same. Why?

Apparently, Tlalli was not just a simple market girl, but a young woman with a very unusual agenda. She had her own grudge to settle, and with no lesser person than the Emperor himself.

But then the enemies struck…"

Amazon US
Amazon UK


Syncopation: A Memoir of Adèle Hugo
Elizabeth Caulfield Felt


Adèle Hugo.

Balzac called her the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, like a statue from antiquity. She was a talented poet and musician but her father, the famous Victor Hugo, prohibited her from publishing and performing. She had marriage proposals and lovers but never wed.

Syncopation, by Elizabeth Caulfield Felt, breathes life into the unconventional thoughts of this controversial female figure. An elderly Adèle recounts her desperate attempts to gain personal freedom. Her memoir blurs the fine line between truth and madness, in a narrative that is of off-kilter,
. . . syncopated.

For humans there is only memory, and memory is unreliable.

Cornerstone Press

Come back next Wednesday for five more synopsis. You may find your new favorite book!

Authors of historical fiction from any location may contact me to submit a synopsis using the contact form on this site. No steamy romance novels, please.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Historical Fiction Enticements 5/15

Welcome to our weekly Wednesday feature, Historical Fiction Enticements. Five histfic novel synopses will be highlighted each week. 

The Winchester Goose: at the court of Henry VIII
Judith Arnopp

Tudor London: 1540. Each night, after dark, men flock to Bankside seeking girls of easy virtue; prostitutes known as The Winchester Geese. Joanie Toogood has worked the streets of Southwark since childhood but her path is changed forever by an encounter with Francis Wareham, a spy for the King’s secretary, Thomas Cromwell.

Meanwhile, across the River, at the glittering court of Henry VIII, Wareham also sets his cap at Evelyn and Isabella Bourne, members of the Queen’s household, drawing the girls into intrigue and the shadow of the executioner’s blade.

Set against the turmoil of Henry VIII’s middle years, The Winchester Goose provides a brand new perspective of the happenings at the royal court, offering a frank and often uncomfortable observation of life at both ends of the social spectrum.

Amazon US
Amazon UK


On a Foreign Field
Hazel West

Sir Reeve Montgomery is an Englishman born and bred, proud of his heritage and the right to serve his country fighting against the Scottish rebels. But when the tide is turned unexpectedly during the Battle of Stirling Bridge, he is wounded by an English arrow, left for dead by his comrades who he always thought of as brothers, and is taken captive by William Wallace's army. Wounded, and alone on a foreign field, he knows he should expect nothing but torture and death at the hands of the Scottish rebels who are known to be complete savages.

At first, he is bitter, angry at his betrayal, and wanting revenge. He plans to escape as soon as his wounds heal, and hopes to take Wallace’s head back to England with him.

However, as he comes to know this tight brotherhood better, and sees Wallace's utter devotion to his men and the cause of freedom, he is surprised to find that his feelings are conflicted. He had been taught in his training as a knight that the Scottish were barbarians and had no honor on the battlefield. But seeing Wallace care for his men, coupled with his own interventions on Reeve’s behalf, causes the Englishman to wonder whether the English are right to oppress them at all, and even more dangerously, whether he could ever fight against the Scots again.

Faced with these troubling thoughts, Reeve must decide whether he will stay true to his king and the country of his birth, or join Wallace’s brotherhood of freedom fighters, thus turning his back on everything he has ever known or believed in and committing treason, a crime punishable by a horrid form of execution. But there are other factors to consider as well, including his budding comradeship with the men and something else entirely concerning the beautiful Maggie Armstrong.

On a Foreign Field is a heartfelt, thought-provoking read for teens and adults alike, focusing on the reality of war, and the friendship, love, and loyalty that can be formed among people fighting for the same thing.

Amazon US
Amazon UK


The Companion of Lady Holmeshire
Debra Brown

Returning by carriage from London to a cold Northumberland castle where she had once scrubbed the floors, Emma Carrington knew that life would be different—and difficult at that. Though there would be none of the previous chores, she would accompany her mistress, the sweet and unconventional Countess of Holmeshire, to dinners and tea, reproached for her status by many. But Her Ladyship would insist.

Emma adored Wills, Her Ladyship’s son, the young Earl of Holmeshire, though he was engaged by arrangement to Lady Genevieve, who was, of course, suitable. His warmth toward the former housemaid Emma and irritation with his fiancé were unmistakable. But conventions would be honored. When The Season began, they would find themselves in London following society’s rules.

Who was the old, tattered man following Emma about the village? It frightened her! And Emma wondered—what were the secrets her mistress hid?

Emma hoped to beg off from dinner with Genevieve’s family, but it was not to be. She must endure the glare of the Marquess of Breighton and the condescension of his insecure wife. Curry was served, a nod to their love of India. Genevieve despised the Indian décor and especially the Holmeshire mud and moors in favor of balls and the lights of London. “At least,” she said, “when I am mistress of Holmeshire Hall it will be kittens and rococo for me.” Wills had spent thousands on Italian marble and art. The rococo would go to the London house Genny would have as a settlement.

Who were the well-dressed men following Genny in Town? It frightened her. Something, at last, united Genevieve and Wills. No hope existed for Emma. Or did it?

Wills rose quickly in Parliament as the future son-in-law of the marquess. The peers respected his opposition to the workhouses and his philanthropic efforts—until everything fell apart.

What might the force of Lady Holmeshire’s secrets reveal? And just who is this story really about?


Cossacks in Paris
Jeffrey Perren


How far will one man go for love and freedom?

Rebellious Breutier Armande, a rising young civil engineer in Paris, is drafted into the Grande Armeé on the eve of Napoleon's 1812 Russian campaign.

On a scouting mission in St. Petersburg he meets Kaarina, a Finnish mathematician and daughter of the counselor to Tsar Alexander I. The pair soon fall in love — but Kaarina is betrothed to Agripin, a vicious Cossack and a favorite of the Tsar. When she refuses him, Agripin kidnaps her, aided by Kaarina's envious twin sister, Kaisa.

During Europe's brief, uneasy truce Breutier deserts Napoleon's army and the Tsar's employ to reclaim Kaarina. Dodging the vengeance of the world's most powerful rulers sends him on a perilous quest to hunt down the era's most ruthless Cossack.

Interweaving the characters' personal dramas with the epochal events of the following two years forms the core of the story. Historically accurate, the novel climaxes at the moment when, for the first time in 400 years, foreign armies invaded France, leaving behind Cossacks in Paris.

Amazon US
Amazon UK



Have No Shame
Melissa Foster

When civil rights and forbidden love collide

This book will resonate with readers who enjoyed Kathryn Stockett's, The Help, Julie Kibler's, Calling Me Home, John Grisham's, A Time to Kill, Sue Monk Kidd's, The Secret Life of Bees, and Kathleen Grissom's, The Kitchen House.

"Within moments of starting to read, you will be transported back to the Arkansas of 1967 - hot, dusty, utterly rural and edgy. Poor white farmers dependent upon cheap black labor who, due to their superior numbers, are constantly suppressed, living on the wrong side of town, ghettoised and terrified. You will remember scenes from `In the Heat of the Night' and `Easy Rider'; you will remember that, less than fifty years ago, if you were black, you could be beaten for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And if you died at the hands of a white youth, justice would almost certainly be denied you." Author Roderick Craig Low


Alison Tillman has called Forrest Town, Arkansas home for the past eighteen years. Her mother's Blue Bonnet meetings, her father toiling night and day on the family farm, and the division of life between the whites and the blacks are all Alison knows. The winter of 1967, just a few months before marrying her high school sweetheart, Alison finds the body of a black man floating in the river, and she begins to view her existence with new perspective. The oppression and hate of the south, the ugliness she once was able to avert her eyes from, now demands her attention.

When a secretive friendship with a young black man takes an unexpected romantic turn, Alison is forced to choose between her predetermined future, and the dangerous path that her heart yearns for.

"A gripping and poignant novel dealing with a subject once taboo in American society." Hagerstown Magazine

"Have No Shame is a powerful testimony to love and the progressive, logical evolution of social consciousness, with an outcome that readers will find engrossing, unexpected, and ultimately eye-opening." Midwest Book Review

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Come back next Wednesday for five more synopsis. You may find your favorite-ever book!

Authors of historical fiction from any location may contact me to submit a synopsis using the contact form on this site. No steamy romance novels, please.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Book Review and Giveaway: Roses Have Thorns, by Sandra Byrd

I received this book free of charge from the publisher for an honest review.

Roses Have Thorns is the third of the Ladies in Waiting Tudor-era novels by Sandra Byrd. It introduces the reader to a Swedish historical woman, Elin von Snakenberg, or as she came to be known in England, Helena, Marchioness of Northampton. Through the story of Elin we come into the court of Elizabeth I where we are brought face to face with the carefully researched ups-and-downs and at times life-and-death intrigues of life for a queen who had grown up with an all too realistic fear for her own neck after her father ordered the beheading of her mother and her wary half-sister took the throne. Surely such a Rose would have dangerous thorns as a cousin entered her land and was said to contend for her throne. Who around her could Elizabeth trust?

Byrd paints a sympathetic and likeable heroine from the start of the book as Elin must leave her fiance behind obviously entangled in a love affair with her sister as Elin travels to England attending a Swedish princess. A difficult, lengthy voyage and Danish interference cut off communication with her family. Love quickly finds her in England, however, with Lord Northampton, brother of the late Queen Kathryn Parr, and she comes to be the second most powerful woman in the land. Yet we see how Elin endured puzzling rejection and even near death for having brought along into Elizabeth's bedchamber a custom from her homeland.

Lovers of historical fiction will enjoy becoming better acquainted with numerous persons--the Swedish princess, many from Elizabeth's court and especially the not-well-known Elin from Sweden. Byrd won a fascinated readership with this choice of a lovely, young woman who would enchant an uneasy queen with her soothing massage and her discerning words spoken with a lilting accent.

Writing in the first person, Byrd conjures interesting phrases that make reading her fiction a word-lover's delight while raising the level of suspense. "She took my proffered arm, but I felt warned rather than warmed."

The author mentions places, customs and persons of the time without giving the story a textbook feel and without taking the reader out of the story. I was far too intrigued with what might happen next to go looking things up (except for the delightful main character!), yet I grew in knowledge of the period and felt ever more dressed in a Tudor gown.

An appealing cover shows Elizabeth and her lady in cloth of gold, and the family trees of main characters assist the reader in placing them accurately in context. Chapter numbers are underscored with scrollwork befitting the historical setting, and a description of dates and locations for each chapter help the reader remain grounded. Bestselling authors and respected literary journalists fill pages with praise for the book.


Roses Have Thorns is available at Amazon. The publisher is offering to send a copy to one winner. You may enter the drawing by commenting below. Please be sure to leave your contact information. A winner will be chosen by random drawing and announced here by May 29th, 2013.

Roses Have Thorns is published by Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster, Inc.
Copyright 2013 by Sandra Byrd
ISBN 978-1-4391-8316-8
ISBN 978-1-4391-8318-2 (ebook)


About the author

After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd has now published more than forty books. Her adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne BoleynTo Die For was also named by Library Journal as a Best Books Pick for 2011 and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr, was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012. Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I, will publish in April, 2013.

Sandra has also published dozens of books for tweens and teens.

A former textbook acquisitions editor, Sandra has also published many nonfiction articles and books. She is also passionate about helping new writers develop their talent and their work toward traditional or self publication. As such, she has mentored and coached hundreds of new writers and continues to coach dozens to success each year.

Please visit to learn more, or to invite Sandra to your bookclub via Skype.

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The Giveaway Winner is Lady Wesley!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Historical Fiction Enticements 5/8

AUTUMN DUCHESS: A Georgian Historical Romance Roxton Series Book 3
(Follows on from Noble Satyr and Midnight Marriage)
Lucinda Brant

A beautiful duchess mourns for her beloved.
A sun-bronzed merchant returns to claim a birthright.
Disparate souls in need of love and renewal.
Paths cross and the journey begins...

Set in Hampshire, England, 1777. Antonia, Dowager Duchess of Roxton emerges from utter despair after the death of her husband and soul mate to unexpectedly find love again.

5 stars Readers’ Favorite Book Award Finalist
5 stars Night Owl Reviews Top Pick
All Time Keeper Shelf 5 stars Crowned Heart InD’Tale Magazine

Webpage to all buy sites
Amazon US
Amazon UK


Lenin's Harem
William Burton McCormick

One night in the Russian imperial province of Courland, an eleven-year-old boy more than a little drunk on his parents’ champagne slips away from his aristocratic manor and heads for the village that houses his family’s Latvian farmhands. It is Christmas 1905, two months after Emperor Nicholas II of Russia’s October Manifesto has turned his autocracy into the semblance of a constitutional monarchy, and the subject peoples of his empire are restive. In Courland, a province governed by Baltic barons who descend from the thirteenth-century chivalric orders of the Teutonic and Livonian Knights, that hope for change centers on the populace’s desire for independence from its German overlords—even more than from the Russian Empire itself.

Thus begins the story of Wiktor Rooks, a Baltic German boy who soon sees his family’s estate burned, its ancestral property lost, and his own future compromised. Wiktor yearns for the academic life, but family tradition requires him, as a second son, to become a soldier. He joins the Russian imperial army, which assigns him to spy on a unit full of Latvian soldiers fighting to rid themselves of men like him. Slowly he wins their trust, and the friendships he forms there—and the wartime atrocities he witnesses—send him into the ranks of the Latvian Red Riflemen, AKA "Lenin's Harem." By 1918, he is guarding the new Soviet government.

When Latvia achieves its independence in 1920, Wiktor’s fortunes change again, and he returns to the land of his birth. There he strives, once and for all, to overcome his past as the second son of a Baltic baron. But soon the forces of Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia are massing, and tiny Latvia stands smack in their way.

Amazon US
Amazon UK


The Folly at Falconbridge Hall
Maggi Andersen

1894 Vanessa Ashley felt herself qualified for a position as governess, until offered the position at Falconbridge Hall.

Left penniless after the deaths of her artist father and suffragette mother, Vanessa Ashley draws on her knowledge of art, politics, and history to gain employment as a governess. She discovers that Julian, Lord Falconbridge, requires a governess for his ten-year-old daughter Blyth at Falconbridge Hall, in the countryside outside London.

Lord Falconbridge is a scientist and dedicated lepidopterist who is about to embark on an extended expedition to the Amazon. An enigmatic man, he takes a keen interest in his daughter's education. As she prepares her young charge, Vanessa finds the girl detached and aloof.

As Vanessa learns more about Falconbridge Hall, more questions arise. Why doesn't Blythe feel safe in her own home? Why is the death of her mother, once famed society beauty Clara, never spoken of? And why did the former governess leave so suddenly without giving notice?
Book Depository

The Sign of the Eagle
Jess Steven Hughes

The Sign of the Eagle, a breathtaking historical novel of action and suspense set in the year 71 A.D. amid the exotic and vibrant streets of Ancient Rome. Macha, the strong-willed daughter of a legendary Celtic British king and wife of the Roman tribune, the heroic but reckless, Titus, is the only one who can prove her husband innocent of treason, solve the murders of two slaves who possessed information that could have exonerated Titus, and ultimately save the life of the Roman Emperor Vespasian.

Vivacious and iron-willed, Macha undertakes a dangerous journey and fight for her life to evade assassins through the city's treacherous back alleys, notorious bath houses, and the awe-inspiring palaces of the Roman elite.

With time running out to save her husband and the emperor from certain death, Macha can count on only two allies, the esteemed Senator Bassus─a family friend─and her faithful slave, a resolute and clever Moorish woman, Shafer.

Arrayed against Macha and Titus are the wealthy and wicked Pollia, once scorned as a bride by Titus; unnamed co-conspirators from the army and nobility; and Falco, a military tribune and womanizer, who offers to be Macha's protector once Titus is condemned and executed.

Macha discovers that one of her friends, a Vestal Virgin, Antonia, knows where a list of conspirators, who are planning to murder the emperor, can be found. When urged by Macha to reveal the location, she refuses to divulge its whereabouts. She has a dark secret past that not only leaves her open to blackmail and death, but that of Macha's patron, Senator Bassus as well. This is one of many blind alleys and roadblocks that Macha encounters in her efforts to clear Titus's name.

Macha is devastated when her eight year-old son is kidnapped in an attempt to block her efforts to free Titus, with the threat of his death. What will she do now?

Join Macha in her quest to exonerate her husband...and the discovery of the real threat against the Emperor.

Amazon US
Amazon UK


Julie K. Rose

Set during the separation of Norway from Sweden in 1905, this richly detailed novel of love and loss was inspired by the life of the author's ancestors.

Oleanna and her sister Elisabeth are the last of their family working their farm deep in Norway's western fjordland, after their beloved brother moves to America and leaves them behind. A new century has begun, and the world outside is changing, but in the Sunnfjord their world is as small and secluded as the verdant banks of a high mountain lake.

The arrival of Anders, a cotter living just across the farm's border, unsettles Oleanna's peaceful but isolated existence. Sharing a common bond of loneliness and grief, Anders stirs within her the wildness and wanderlust she has worked so hard to tame. When she is confronted with another crippling loss, Oleanna must decide once and for all how to face her past, claim her future, and find her place in a wide new world.

"There's elegant restraint in how Rose articulates love and loss, passion and madness, the rhythm of farm life, the quietude of rural Norway. In this book, I saw shades of both Sigrid Undset and Willa Cather." (Unabridged Chick; Top 10 of 2012 pick)

"This is a novel of quiet depth that evokes strong imagery; it is a story that is stark and humble and at the same time, finely drawn. The awe-inspiring scenery, the backbreaking work, and, at the same time, the appeal of and sense of belonging the women feel for their home are brightly painted through the author’s judicious use of language. A beautiful story." (Historical Novels Review)

"This novel paints such a vivid picture of life at this time in history and you feel drawn in from the very first page. You feel the hardships, love, loss, loyalty and family that flow from the pages of this book all the while feeling haunted by the shadows of ghosts past. I don’t often turn the last page of a book and want to go right back to the beginning but that’s how this novel has made me feel with all the beautiful passages and the quiet but deep and touching tale." (Peeking Between the Pages)

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Come back next Wednesday for five more synopsis. You may find your favorite-ever book!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Historical Fiction Enticements 5/1

Wednesdays, life permitting, I will be hosting a variety of historical fiction book synopsis. I hope to introduce you histfic lovers to many authors and their novels from a variety of areas and eras. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
SALT REDUX: Sequel to Salt Bride 
Lucinda Brant


Jane and Salt—four years of Happily Ever After
Sir Antony Templestowe—four years of Exile
Lady Caroline—four years of Heartache
Diana St. John—four years plotting Revenge

The time has come... How does a brother cope with life knowing his sister is a murderess? How can a nobleman have the life he has always wanted when a lurking evil consumes his thoughts and haunts his dreams? What will it take for good to triumph over evil?

For readers who enjoyed Salt Bride: A Georgian Historical Romance, the story continues…

5 stars from Readers' Favorite and a Night Owl Reviews 5 star Top Pick

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Of Honest Fame
M.M. Bennetts

Gambler, gaoler, soldier, sailor, smuggler, spyman, traitor, thief
A battle of wits against the brutal forces of Napoleon’s tyranny over Europe

On a summer night in 1812, a boy sets fire to a house in Paris before escaping over the rooftops. Carrying vital intelligence about Napoleon’s Russian campaign, he heads for England.  But landing in Kent, he is beaten almost to death.

The Foreign Secretary, Lord Castlereagh, is desperate for the boy’s information.  He is even more desperate, however, to track down the boy’s assailant – a sadistic French agent who knows far too much about Castlereagh’s intelligence network.

Captain George Shuster is a veteran of the Peninsula, an aide-de-camp to Wellington, now recalled from the continent and struggling to adjust to civilian life.  Thomas Jesuadon is a dissolute, living on the fringes of society, but with an unrivalled knowledge of the seamy underside of the capital.  Setting out to trace the boy’s attacker, they journey from the slums of London to the Scottish coast, following a trail of havoc, betrayal, official incompetence and murder.  It takes an unlikely encounter with a frightened young woman to give them the breakthrough that will turn the hunter into the hunted.

Meanwhile, the boy travels the breadth of Europe in the wake of the Grande Armée, witnessing at first hand the ruination they leave behind and the awful price of Napoleon’s ambition.

This companion to M.M. Bennetts’s brilliant debut, is a gripping account of deception, daring and determination, of intelligence and guile pitted against brutality.  Bennetts brings to vivid life the harrowing devastation wrought on the civilian populations of Europe by Napoleon’s men, and the grit, courage and tenacity of those who stood against them.

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David William Wilkin

Hermione knew that there were not many opportunities for a great marriage when one lived exclusively in the country. In Cornwall near the mines. 

Even when the daughter of a Baronet, if you didn't go to Town, the chances to make a noteworthy match was difficult, if one were to choose a word to describe it.

Yet, Hermione was content. She admired her father, Sir Lawrence, greatly, and even should she make a match that was not of the first, second, or even the third circle of the Ton, but one that would allow her to stay in Scorrier or Redruth near her father, she would be happy.

Yes, there were troubles. Aside from the war with the Tyrant that waged, the upstart Tadcaster's, led by a patriarch who once had worked as but a miner for Sir Lawrence seemed to threaten the Merwyn's with ruin nearly on a daily basis. The income from Sir Lawrence's holdings also diminished, and Hermione's younger step-sister campaigned for a season in London even should it mean the ruination of their father's pocketbook.

Yet Cornwall was far from the troubles of the kingdom and the world. Hermione was sure that she could find a simple life here in the barrenness of the county. That was, she thought so until Samuel Lynchhammer arrived. A man whose past was obscured, mysterious would be too cliche. A man who instantly took to the labour of aiding her father to right his fortunes and thwart the Tadcaster's. A man who might disrupt all her careful, quiet plans.

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Silent Trauma
Judith Barrow

MEG MATTHEWS’ daughter, LISA is diagnosed with a cancer of the cervix, at the age of eighteen. Not able to face having a hysterectomy she commits suicide.

When pregnant with Lisa, Meg was prescribed the drug Stilboestrol by her doctor, as were thousands of women in the mid twentieth century in the belief that it prevented miscarriages, It didn’t. But it did cause both the cancer and internal abnormalities in the reproductive structures of the daughters. 

Meg spends years trying to expose the drug. Then she tells Lisa's story to the local radio station.

Having suffered a fourth miscarriage, RACHEL CONWAY hears the interview and contacts Meg. Exposed to the drug in utero she despairs of having children. She confides in her friend, JACKIE DUFFY, who is shocked. She also has been affected by Stilboestrol having had endometriosis since puberty. She has never told anyone. 

Jackie has a destructive relationship with her mother, MARY, who refuses to accept that the drug caused the problems. Her rejection of Jackie stems from guilt and her homophobic revulsion of Jackie's relationship with HAZEL, an older possessive woman.

Rachel discovers that her husband STEPHEN is having an affair and his lover gives birth to a son. Two months after he leaves her she realises she is pregnant again. This time she carries the child, a girl, to term.

Like Meg's daughter, Lisa, AVRIL BREEN, a writer, developed cancer in her late teens. She underwent a hysterectomy and vaginectomy after which her fiancé called off their wedding. Unwilling to form another close relationship Avril isolated herself in a cottage in the Pennines. She hears about Meg's interview through relatives in Wales and contacts her, consequently becoming friends with Rachel and Jackie. 

Each woman's story interacts throughout the novel and is underlined by the main theme of the drug.
As the friendships grow we follow the women's lives and their determination to make public the devastating results of the drug. Avril persuades them to collaborate in writing a play about it.

The story ends as the curtain rises.

Their stories are fiction - the drug real.

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