Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Historical Fiction Enticements 6/5

Marquess of Cake (The Redcakes #1)  
Heather Hiestand

London:  1886
Alys Redcake’s family has come a long way from the days when she and her twin brother worked side by side in their father’s baking factory. Now happy in her position as wedding cake designer in her father’s London tea shop and emporium, she’s not ready for the changes coming to her lifestyle when Queen Victoria knights her successful industrialist father.

Michael Shield, Marquess of Hatbrook, adores Redcake’s Tea Shop and Emporium. He visits frequently as he works to rebuild his family’s finances, and not just for the pastry either.

Alys unaware that with each morsel—and flash of ankle—she is seducing the handsome marquess frequenting her father’s tea shop. Unmarried at twenty-six, Alys’s first love is the family business. But thoughts of the gentleman’s touch are driving her to distraction… even as her father is insisting she marry someone, anyone, so that her younger sisters, who were raised more gently, can enter fashionable society’s marriage mart.

With his weakness for sugar, the Marquess of Hatbrook can imagine no more desirable woman than one scented with cake and spice. Mistaking Alys for a mere waitress, he has no doubt she would make a most delicious mistress. When tragedy strikes his family and he finds himself in need of an heir, he plans to make her his convenient bride. Yet as they satisfy their craving for one another, business and pleasure suddenly collide. Will Hatbrook’s passion for sweets—and for Alys—be his heart and body’s undoing? Can Alys find happiness away from her beloved cakes? Nothing will ever be the same again.



Emeralds of the Alhambra
John D. Cressler

In Emeralds of the Alhambra, Christians, Muslims and Jews live together in peace, sharing languages, customs, and a level of tolerance and mutual respect unheard of today.

Working together, they spawn one of the world’s greatest intellectual and cultural flowerings in medieval Spain.

William Chandon is a wounded Christian knight brought to the Sultan’s court in Granada. and the strong-willed Layla al-Khatib is on a quest to become the first female Sufi Muslim mystic in a male-dominated society.

As Chandon’s influence at court grows, he becomes trapped among his forbidden love for Layla, his Christian heritage, the demands of chivalry, and political expediency.

Chandon must make a choice between love and honor, war and peace, life and death--a choice which ultimately will seal Granada’s fate as the last surviving stronghold of Muslim Spain.

Set amidst the resplendent Alhambra Palace in Granada during the Castilian Civil War (1367-1369), Muslims take up their swords to fight alongside Christians.

Emeralds of the Alhambra is the first book in the Anthems of al-Andalus trilogy.

Releases June 15th.

The Afflicted Girls
Suzy Witten

As a funeral is held in a church meetinghouse for a boy infant, a hired coach carrying Maine orphans Mercy Lewis, 19, and Abigail Williams, 15, crashes in a forested wilderness. Two 20 year-old friends, Joseph Putnam and Ben Nurse, who are out hunting, come to the girls’ aid and escort them to their destination, Salem Village. A powerful, otherworldly, but morose, attraction begins between Mercy and Joseph. Abigail grows jealous observing it. At the same time, she is rebuffed by Ben.

The dead baby’s father is Joseph’s impoverished, older half-brother, Thomas Putnam, a Pro-Parris farmer, who is suing to regain a stolen inheritance. Divided politically, half in the village want to fire the minister, while the other half vehemently support him, like Thomas.

Abigail's uncle is Samuel Parris, the self-righteous minister at the center of the village strife. Begrudgingly, he accepts the arrival of an unknown niece, and also hires out Mercy as an indentured servant to Thomas. Ann Putnam, Thomas’ wife, is succumbing to grief, and their three daughters have long suffered a mad mother’s neglect. Mercy’s kindness comforts.

Reverend Parris has one daughter, nine-year old Betty, who is more loved by the parsonage slave Tituba than by her own stern mother. Kidnapped as a child from a Carib jungle tribe, Tituba has been Samuel Parris’ property since his profligate youth. She is married to the parsonage manslave, John Indian. Abigail’s cunning intelligence works quickly to supplant her younger cousin in her uncle’s affection. She also suspects, rightly, that Tituba has powers.

Ignored by their drunken fathers on Sundays after church, a pro-Parris group of friends sneaks to scandalous Bridget Bishop’s high road tavern to play shovelboard. After encountering Joseph there, Mercy returns after midnight seeking a love charm from Bridget. She also confesses a sordid history of abuse. Bridget, outraged and in spiritual kinship, swears on her life to protect and teach this gifted girl.

A snoop always, Abigail follows Tituba into the parsonage woods one night and watches the slave pick a thorny plant, eat seeds, and do an erotic dance. From her window, she also sees Mercy plant thecharm in Joseph’s father’s grave in the parsonage graveyard. She threatens to expose her unless she teaches her and her friends conjuring games.

When Mercy meets Joseph Putnam on the road accidentally, she is easily coaxed to a hidden bower, where they make love. His detached, rough-handed manner is unsettling, but she attributes it to the sinister side of charms. He asks her to spy for him on his brother.

On their Sunday picnic, Abigail distributes auguring cakes based on Tituba’s recipe. Mercy’s charge, frail twelve-year-old Lucy Putnam, experiences a dazzling vision of Jesus in Heaven, which Abigail denounces as blasphemy. In God’s name, she and Putnam cousin, Susanna Walcott, cry out on villagers they think are witches. When a sudden thunderstorm sends her friends runing home, Abigail seduces the boy, who was with them.

Betty Parris, desperate for news of the picnic, eats a cake then gazes at her thumbnail. After demonic visions, she falls into a deathly fit. Abigail succumbs, as well. As the fits spread, Reverend Parris declares a Devil’s assault on the innocents. Examinations by magistrates are held. Witchcraft trials end with convictions and a hanging. A murder mystery is strangely solved.

After losing his lawsuit and nearly his farm, Thomas discovers Mercy’s betrayal with his brother. Enraged, he beats and rapes her. She tries to run away, but is caught. Forced to be an accuser by her master, in church she denounces Reverend Parris for the corruption. Abigail, touched by God, accuses her.

Imprisoned, pregnant by either brother, in despair, someone comes to help Mercy flee the witch hunt and begin a new life in distant, freer lands.

THE AFFLICTED GIRLS by Suzy Witten (Winner of the 2010 IPPY Silver Medal for Historical Fiction)

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble
Google Books


The Chalice
Nancy Bilyeau

The Chalice, by Nancy Bilyeau
The Chalice is the second novel in my series set in Tudor England, with a main character who is a young Dominican novice from an aristocratic family. The first book, The Crown, was praised by Oprah: “The real draw of this suspenseful novel is its juicy blend of lust, murder, conspiracy, and betrayal.”

In the second book, Sister Joanna Stafford plunges into an even more dangerous conspiracy as she comes up against some of the most powerful men of her era. Booklist said, "Bilyeau paints a moving portrait of Catholicism during the Reformation and of reclusive, spiritual people adjusting to the world outside the cloister. This intriguing and suspenseful historical novel pairs well with C. J. Sansom’s Dissolution (2003) and has the insightful feminine perspective of Brenda Rickman Vantrease’s The Heretic’s Wife (2010)."

In 1538, England is in the midst of bloody power struggles between crown and cross that threaten to tear the country apart. Joanna Stafford has seen what lies inside the king’s torture rooms and risks imprisonment again, when she is caught up in a shadowy international plot targeting the King.

As the power plays turn vicious, Joanna understands she may have to assume her role in a prophecy foretold by three different seers, each more omniscient than the last. 
Joanna realizes the life of Henry VIII as well as the future of Christendom are in her hands—hands that must someday hold the chalice that lays at the center of these deadly prophecies.

Amazon US
Amazon UK


A Rip in the Veil
Anna Belfrage

On a muggy August day in 2002 Alex Lind disappears without a trace. On an equally stifling August day in 1658, Matthew Graham finds her on an empty Scottish moor. Life will never be the same for Alex – or for Matthew.

Due to a series of rare occurrences, Alexandra Lind is thrown three centuries backwards in time. She lands at the feet of Matthew Graham – an escaped convict making his way home to Scotland in this the year of our Lord, 1658.

Matthew doesn’t quite know what to make of this concussed and injured woman who has seemingly fallen from the skies- what is she, a witch?

Alex gawks at this tall, gaunt man with hazel eyes, dressed in what to her mostly looks like rags. At first she thinks he might be some sort of hermit, an oddball, but she quickly realises the odd one out is she, not he.

Catapulted from a life of modern comfort, Alex grapples with this new existence, further complicated by the dawning realization that someone from her time has followed her here – and not exactly to extend a helping hand.

Potential compensation for this brutal shift in fate comes in the shape of Matthew – a man she should never have met, not when she was born three centuries after him. But for all that Matthew quickly proves himself a willing and most capable protector he comes with baggage of his own, and on occasion it seems his past will see him killed. At times Alex finds it all excessively exciting, longing for the structured life she used to have.

How will she ever get back? And more importantly, does she want to?

A Rip in the Veil is the first in Anna Belfrage’s time slip series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

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.

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