Friday, December 20, 2013

Casting Light Upon the Darkness

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Forgive, please, but I've had to drop out of this hop; a wedding decided to happen in the family as well as computer problems, and you know how that goes.

Please catch the list of blogs at Helen Hollick's page.

Thanks, and may the shortest day of your Northern year be full of light and good cheer!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Historical Fiction Excerpt: The Defiant Lady Pencavel

by Diane Scott Lewis

Down another gloomy corridor, Melwyn and her abigail entered a large room that smelled of leather and smoke. The light from the lamp barely touched on the numerous shelves of books. A large walnut desk, a smaller neoclassical desk by Maggiolini, and leather chairs filled out the area.

“Run your hands along the books, to try to find a latch or lever of some type,” Melwyn whispered, the lamp flame flickering in her gush.
“I’m doin’ it, over here in the dark in case ‘ee hasn’t noticed,” Clowenna groused. “Keep your knickers on, m’lady.”

“We don’t wear knickers yet.” Melwyn traced her fingers along the smooth and tooled leather volumes. “Though why is beyond me, and it’s extremely inconvenient at times.” She felt along the shelves, frustrated that she found nothing.

“I don’t feel naught but books an’ more books. Who has time for so much readin’?” Clowenna grumbled, then the sound of tripping and a thud. “La, and damme, I walked into a picture frame.”

“Shhhh. Do you want the wrath of his lordship, or his dragon of a housekeeper down on us?” Melwyn hurried to where she stood, shining light over the maid who rubbed her nose, and a tall portrait of Henry VIII that hadn’t swung on the picture rail. “This seems solidly in place.”

Melwyn pushed on the frame and the picture slid to her left. “Oh, my, I think we’ve found it.” She shone the lamplight on a dark wood panel.
“How do we open it?” Clowenna sniffed loudly, still intent on her nose.

“Find a latch or lever.” Melwyn handed her maid the lamp, and felt along the panel’s grooves and carvings, her fingers dipping into every nook and cranny. Finally, something metallic under her fingertips. She lifted it, and the panel creaked open slowly.

Melwyn grabbed the lamp and shone the light inside a musty, tiny room. “It looks like a priest’s hole. There is even a cabinet where they hid the sacred vessels and vestments.”

“Hope there’s no dead priest in there.” Clowenna gripped her mistress’s shoulder.

“I thought you weren’t a superstitious ninny.” Melwyn stepped in, and soon discovered another latch. The far door squeaked open. The dank smell of earth swept in on her, almost dousing the lamp. “This must be the secret tunnel.”

“Great, we found it. Now we can go home and tell your father.” Clowenna tugged on Melwyn’s arm. “I’m tired; let’s go up to bed afore we’re murdered.”
“I remind you that this was your idea.” Melwyn shook her off and put one foot into the tunnel, her heart racing. She held up the lamp. “This could be a passageway built by a previous ancestor and have nothing to do with Lord Lambrick.”

“That be wishful thinking, m’lady.” The maid tapped her foot in irritation. “Now come back an’ don’t do no too-stupid-to-live act.”

“We need more proof,” Melwyn insisted. She chewed on her lower lip. “How will I take you to the continent if you’re going to be a nervous Nellie?”

The light barely reached down the tunnel with its crude shored-up walls, and the sound of water could be heard farther along. Melwyn shivered in the cooler air. A stack of crates sat a few yards away. She walked toward them, and reached out her hand to touch the top one’s scarred lid.
A shadow moved to her right. A hand grabbed her wrist and she gulped in astonishment, almost dropping the lamp.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Historical Fiction Excerpt: But For the Grace of God


But For the Grace of God

by Ginger Myrick

West Virginia, May 1864

The Confederate soldier galloped his flagging mount through the densely wooded copse, unheeding of the bullets zinging dangerously past his head. He didn’t know how they could see to draw a bead on him in this thick growth so close to the river. They were probably shooting blindly.

Maybe he could lose them. It didn’t really matter. He’d already been hit once and would probably be dead soon, but he wasn’t about to give the bastards the satisfaction of his capture. If he could just hold on long enough to find a hiding place, somewhere he could at least settle down to take a look at his wound and perhaps stem the bleeding. He pressed his hand more tightly to his side, bent lower over the horse’s neck, and rode even harder.

The unfolding drama did not go unnoticed by the residents of a nearby farm. The gunshots drew Hannah Carter to her window, and she pulled back the curtains to scan the dimming twilight for some explanation of the commotion outside. She was about to abandon her vigil when her eye caught movement down by the river’s edge. She saw a horse struggle up from its crossing, and her vision focused just in time to witness its rider’s unceremonious yet oddly graceful slide to the ground. She let out a little cry of surprise as he hit the grassy bank not fifty feet from the house and rolled three times before coming to a stop face down in the dirt.

She reached the door in three swift steps, flung it open, and sprinted down the porch. Halfway across the yard she was joined in her flight by a big bear of a man running from the barn. They reached the soldier at the same time, and Hannah threw herself down at his side to get a better look. As she rolled his shoulder back, she saw that his face was dirty and covered with small abrasions from his tumble. She inhaled sharply as her eyes took in the tattered right side of his uniform and the gaping hole oozing blood in a slow but steady stream.

“Jeb, we have to get him to the house,” Hannah said, looking anxiously up into the big man’s dark brown eyes.

“We can’t,” he said, his face taking on a defiant set. “Have you forgotten about the pick-up tonight?”

“Well, we can’t leave him out here to bleed to death.”

“Why not? It’s what he’d do to me,” Jeb insisted stubbornly.

Hannah smiled tenderly, amused by his reluctance. Though there was no time for this, she placed her gentle hand on the powerful brown forearm exposed by his rolled-up sleeve. “Jeb,” she said softly, “I know you’re too smart for that petty argument. Besides, it would eat at your conscience to leave him. You wouldn’t sleep for a month.”

He sighed wearily, knowing that she was right. He hefted the considerable mass of the soldier’s long lanky body as if he were a child, threw the man over his shoulder, and made his way up the slight incline to the house, mumbling the entire time that they would all hang for this. Hannah shook her head, chuckling nervously to herself behind his wide sulking back. She grabbed a small leafy branch lying under an oak tree and scraped it along in the dirt behind them, doing her best to erase the evidence. Maybe it’s dark enough they won’t notice, she prayed hopefully, attempting to convince herself.

When she reached the porch, she hurriedly tossed the branch around the corner of the house and jogged up the steps, casting a last worried glance over her shoulder at the dusky horizon before stepping inside and closing the door—and just in time. No sooner had the latch securely clicked home than she heard pounding hoof beats thundering past on the other side of the river. They would have to hurry.

Hannah bustled into the kitchen where Jebediah had already deposited his burden onto the heavy oaken table and begun to cut away the raggedy remnants of the battle-stained coat. Ginny had dropped her supper preparations and had already begun to wash the soldier’s face and the area surrounding his wound.

“The bullet’s going to have to come out before we do anything else,” Jeb said, his earlier reticence forgotten as enemy now became patient.

“We don’t have time to open him up now,” Hannah observed, gathering the gray rags of the uniform and pitching them into the stove. “Those soldiers will be back as soon as they catch up to his horse. Just clean his face and wrap him up tight enough that he won’t bleed all over everything. Then get him upstairs into a bed. I’ll help Ginny clean up this mess.”

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Amazon US
Amazon UK

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Historical Fiction Excerpt: Walk to Paradise Garden

by John Campbell

(Following a brawl that happened in a military canteen during WWI.)

John lingered in the ethereal comfort of near-oblivion, safe within his mind. Yet despite his resistance, dawning alertness drew him to the surface. He lay on his back, eyes closed. His tongue slid over his teeth, checking and rechecking, searching out any sharp edges that hadn’t been there before. Various sensations began nagging him, each fighting for dominance: upper back, shoulders, neck, jaw and stomach. When he tried to take in a deep breath, another agony joined the ranks, a dull, almost restrictive one, telling him his chest must be badly bruised. Ah yes, he thought. The fracas.

He didn’t regret a word of what had inflamed the testy Manchester bunch, but he cursed himself regardless. When would he learn discretion? He tried to open his eyes, but the glare of the room pressed them closed. The glare and…a silhouette stationed close to his bed. Please heaven, not Evelyne. Not with humiliation stuck to his face like scabs.

He forced his eyes open a slit and saw it was indeed Evelyne in her uniform, her lovely eyes searching for his. Her gaze commanded him to open his. He tried to mask his embarrassment, but in that instant she read him, and he knew she understood. He considered feigning a drift back to unconsciousness, but thought better of it. He tried to smile, but his swollen jawline quickly put a stop to that.

“John.”

In that syllable she communicated a book of sentiments: honesty, understanding, a little judgment, perhaps? Concern, certainly. And could it be…affection? With complete focus, he studied her face, but she averted her eyes toward the small table next to his infirmary cot. Her chair stood next to the mattress, within reach. He sensed movement, then felt her hand settle on his arm. Her cool, soft fingers calmed his jagged breathing, helping him to think more clearly.

“I, uh…” It hurt to move his mouth. His right hand went to his jaw and carefully explored the damage. His puffy skin felt like an overripe tomato. “I, uh, must look a fright.”

She nodded, eyes still locked with his.

“I’d fancy some water.”

“I have some right here. Can I help you sit up?”

“Uh, no, no.” His stomach felt like jelly. He tried to push with his hands against the mattress to raise himself, but could barely clench his teeth to fight the pain. Once up, he needed to catch his breath.

After a moment she said, “Now, as you try to sip, don’t be alarmed if some drips down your chin. You’ll find your lips are clumsy yet.”

He frowned, feeling vaguely pleased that at least he could frown without pain. He couldn’t help but remember all the times Edwina had ministered to him like this.

“I’ll hold it,” she said. “Keep your hands on the bed to steady yourself.”

She placed the tin cup against his bottom lip and tilted it. He tried desperately to sip without mishap, but water came around and over his lame lips, dribbled down his chin and onto his lap. He almost cursed. She could easily read his frustration in his face, but he was relieved she didn’t change her facial expression or say a word. What he could swallow refreshed his throat.

He took a shaky breath. “I feel like a baby.”

“That’s rather appropriate.”

Ah, there was judgment after all.

“Sorry.” Her expression pinched with remorse. “That was unattractive. I know you were only trying to be true to your ideals.” She smiled for reassurance. “Ideals that I agree with, by the way.”

After setting the cup down, she took his hand in both of hers. This time it was his turn to look away, away from this married woman.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Fourteen Years Overseas for Stealing Two Sheep

Victorian era punishment for crime quite baffles us today. What might be a misdemeanor in our court systems now could have meant a devastating change in a person's life then if not death, and often for merely trying to keep from starvation. Read the post HERE (on my other blog) by Prue Batten which is found in the book Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

HistFic Cover Reveals 11/20

Twelfth Night at Longbourn
Given Good Principles Vol. IV
Maria Grace

Her youngest sister’s outrageous behavior has left Kitty Bennet a social outcast. Abandoned by her friends and the man who she thought cared for her, Kitty has all but given up hope when an unexpected Christmastide invitation promises the chance to start a new. Can the wonder of Twelfth Night bring life to her dreams?

To be released December 16, 2013

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The Lost Duchess
Jenny Barden

An epic Elizabethan adventure with a thriller pace and a high tension love story that moves from the palaces of England to the savage wilderness of the New World. The Lost Duchess explores what might have happened to the ill-starred 'Lost Colony of Roanoke'.

Amazon UK

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The Disinherited
Helena Page Schrader

Mercenary Sir Gerard receives an unexpected summons from a dying monk, his father. The encounter sets him on a journey to the castle of his birth and a confrontation with the man who has stolen his family’s lands and titles.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Perfiditas
Alison Morton

Falsely accused of conspiracy, 21st century Praetorian Carina Mitela is forced to flee into the criminal underworld. As she struggles to overcome the desperate odds and save her beloved Roma Nova and her own life, she faces the ultimate betrayal…

Amazon

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God's Daughter
Heather Day Gilbert

Almost five centuries before Columbus, Viking women sailed to North America with their husbands. God's Daughter, Book One in the Vikings of the New World Saga, offers an expansive yet intimate look into the world of Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Please let us know what you like about these covers!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

HistFic Cover Reveals 11/13

The Spider and the Stone: A Novel of Scotland's Black Douglas
Glen Craney

Brutal Edward Longshanks schemes to steal Scotland. But a boy, James Douglas, defies three kings for his friend, Robert the Bruce, to lead armies to the bloody field of Bannockburn. A thrilling saga of love and sacrifice during the Scottish Wars of Independence.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

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A Newfound Land – book 4 in The Graham Saga 
Anna Belfrage

Tired of strife, Alex and Matthew Graham have left Scotland and hope for a new start in 17th century Maryland. Unfortunately, the past has a nasty tendency to resurface – and their new life comes with dangers & adventures.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Shattered Moments
Irina Shapiro

Murder, blackmail, long buried secrets, and a tender new romance take center stage in Shattered Moments, the final installment of The Hands of Time Series as the Whitfields and Sheridans face their toughest challenges yet.

Shattered Moments will be available the first week of January.

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What She Left Behind
Ellen Marie Wiseman

Merging the past and present, this haunting story follows a young museum worker as she discovers a decades old journal inside a shuttered state asylum and is compelled to piece together the journal owner's fate—with shocking and unexpected results.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Gang Petition
Peter St. John

The Women’s Land Army is taking over the Widdlington allotments, stirring up trouble in the village, particularly for the children. But who committed the midnight act of wartime sabotage? Everything turns on a secret visit to bomb-menaced London.

Gang Petition will be released November 15, 2013. It is available for preorder:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Please let us know what you like about these covers!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cover Reveals for New Historical Fiction

I am going to be doing cover reveals here. I am a lover of good art, and many of the covers are really well done. I hope you enjoy looking them over as I do!

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The Kiss of the Concubine
Judith Arnopp

Henry VIII lies on his deathbed. A little boy snivels into his sleeve; he is about to become King. Candles flicker shadows in the room. Someone has come to tell her husband it is time to pay his dues.

A Novel of Anne Boleyn

Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Staymaker - The Downfall of Thomas Kingsmill and the Hawkhurst Gang
Andy Millen

Gritty and violent from the start, this novel follows the Hawkhurst and Chichester Smuggling gangs and the attempts to bring them to justice in the final years of the 1740’s.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

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The Girl Who Came Home - A Novel of the Titanic
Hazel Gaynor

A retelling of the Titanic disaster through the experiences of a young Irish woman, travelling in steerage. Blending fact and fiction, the novel explores the tragedy’s impact on survivors and their families.

April 1, 2014 by William Morrow Books (HarperCollins)
Preorder US
Preorder UK


What do you like about these covers?

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

New Release

Moonless
Crystal Collier

Moonless is Jane Eyre meets Supernatural

Alexia’s nightmares become reality: a dead baron, red-eyed wraiths, and forbidden love with a man hunted by these creatures. After an attack close to home, Alexia realizes she cannot keep one foot in her old life and one in this new world. To protect her family she must either be sold into a loveless marriage, or escape with her beloved and risk becoming one of the Soulless.

Purchase

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Historical Fiction Enticements 10/02

The Patterer
Larry Brill

In 1765 London, Leeds Merriweather is scratching out a living as a common street performer, a patterer, using his wit and storytelling skills to draw crowds and sell newspapers. Although he aspires to be a respected journalist and start his own publishing house, he is relegated to pattering by a handsome face, strong voice and straight teeth.

Inspired by a drunken chance encounter with Benjamin Franklin, Leeds assembles a zany cast of characters to become history’s first celebrity newscaster. But at the peak of his meteoric rise to fame and fortune, Leeds risks it all for the love of a conniving wench in this Dickensian comedy.

The Patterer is the first release in a trilogy.

Amazon US
Website

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Sisters of The Bruce
Jeanette Harvey

Sisters of The Bruce is a captivating work of fiction that weaves family history with a gripping narrative through the social and political landscape of medieval Scotland, Norway and Orkney.
Late 13th century Scotland is a wild and perilous place. Against a background of cataclysmic events, the adventurous lives of Robert the Bruce and his five sisters come to life through their own words in a series of letters. Courage and tenacity are often associated with Scotland’s great hero, but few appreciate the enormous challenges experienced by these remarkable sisters.

As a young girl, Isa leaves her home and family to sail to the land of the Vikings to become Queen of Norway whilst her sister, Kirsty, finds herself Countess of Mar: chatelaine of the great Kildrummy Castle in Scotland’s far northeast. Danger shifts and swirls about them. With assistance from Isa, younger sisters, Mathilda and Margaret, escape north.

As Scotland spirals into war, the Bruce kinfolk face the wrath of King Edward I of England, whose murderous vengeance wrought the brutal death of William Wallace some years earlier. Kirsty is incarcerated in solitary confinement in an English nunnery whilst Mary languishes within a cage on the walls of Roxburgh Castle. Only a Scottish victory at Bannockburn can save them.
Under Robert’s kingship, old wounds heal and his committed fighting force achieves a miracle. Eight years on, the fragile women return home to rebuild their shattered lives. Such an intimate account of love, loss and hope still resonates today.
Sisters of The Bruce is due out September/October in book and ebook form. Available through Amazon and Troubador Publishing UK or order through your local bookstore.

Blog: www.sistersofthebruce.wordpress.com
Websites: sistersofthebruce.com; robertthebruce.info

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Roan Rose
Juliet Waldron

More like a gangland war for turf and loot than chivalry, the War of Roses disrupted the life of commoners for hundreds of years. Roan Rose is the story of one of them, Rose Whitby, born on the Yorkshire dales. When the Countess of Warwick, decides to take the sturdy, gentle child to Middleham Castle to be companion and bed-time poppet for her youngest daughter, Rose’s fate is changed forever.

Rose bonds strongly with Anne Neville, her young mistress. She also meets a delicate royal boy enduring his knightly training—Richard of Gloucester, King Edward’s youngest brother. The noble children suffer illness and accidents as they grow, but Rose is a constant, always there to nurse and serve.

Rose bears intimate witness to betrayals, murders, battles and all the abrupt reversals of fortune which will shape Anne’s life--and her own. When Anne and Richard are at last free to marry, Rose is given a husband, too. From now on, she will live in the village at Middleham, work as a herbalist, raise her children and watch while her friends travel among their many castles. When King Edward unexpectedly drops dead, the hitherto loyal Richard surprises everyone by declaring his nephews illegitimate and seizing the throne. Rose’s beloved Anne will briefly become a Queen, while Richard’s name will become synonymous with evil. After he, the last Plantagenet King, is betrayed and slain on the field of battle, Rose returns to her humble existence on the Dales. She has one last service to perform.


Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Hellraiser - Mother Jones: An Historical Novel
Jerry Ash

"If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must man be of learning from experience." — George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright and co-founder of the London School of Economics.

Hellraiser —Mother Jones: An Historical Novel brings Irish American Mother Jones back to renew the lessons of her history, to understand and compare the economic injustices of her time with the economic inequalities of contemporary life and to enable Mother Jones to once again call her people to action.

In history, Mary Harris Jones faces threats and jail terms, bullets and bombs to defend the American worker, the underclass — men, women and children — against the greed of robber barons like Ford, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Morgan and Vanderbilt.

In the end, the spirit of Mother Jones returns to find an America where economic servitude has shifted from the coal mines and sweatshops of her day to the fast food chains, big box retailers and even the high tech industries of ours. Where capitalism has robbed the people of the promises of justice, equality, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in what was supposed to be a democratic society. Just as she warned 100 years ago.

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Hellraiser website
Barnes & Noble

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Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors
Edited by Debra Brown and M.M. Bennetts

Please see also this newly released nonfiction tome--a delicious anthology of British history posts from the first year of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog.
It is a large, beautiful book of 514 pages. Each article is just a few pages, making it a book that you can read on coffee breaks or in a waiting room, choosing a section that interests you at the moment. It is divided into various eras of history, and the table of contents enables you to quickly find what appeals.

The book also introduces readers to fifty-five authors of historical fiction and their titles. There really is something for everyone who enjoys British history and the stories that develop around it in the imagination of histfic authors.

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Kobo

Monday, September 23, 2013

English Historical Fiction Authors Anniversary Celebration

The English Historical Fiction Authors blog is celebrating two years today of daily British historical posts--join us in our fun!

We have a post at the blog which introduces our new release, Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors- a wonderful anthology of history posts from our first year. You can enter a drawing to win a copy. The book is at a special price at this writing. It is also available on Kindle, is available on Amazon UK, and will be at other online stores within days. Reviewers have said, "It's an amusing trot through British history and excellent bedtime reading." "I opened the book expecting to find something akin to a conference proceedings without 'trained' experts. Instead I found a new appreciation for the meticulous research and knowledge of the genre's authors." And "Fans of historical fiction and England will find the book rich in supplemental information to complement their reading with an introduction to authors of works they might enjoy."

The post invites you to our all-day Twitter chat at #EHFAChat--and tells how to join in the chat if you do not know how. We'd love to visit with you there!

The post also kicks off our Castles Blog Hop- visit the blogs of individual authors and enter drawings for books and castle-gifts!

Well, we know it is a Monday, but what better day to be sure to take a coffee break and visit with friends? We'll see you at our sites. Start the day of fun HERE!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sailing for Landlubbers!





You might be interested in touring the Nautical Blog Hop organized by author Helen Hollick. If so, start HERE!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Historical Fiction Enticements 9/4

The Source
James A. Michener
 
by Jim Susky

I’ve read but a few of James Michener's novels, his  memoir, and his travelogue “Iberia”. That said, “The  Source” presents such a stunning vision with such an immense historical sweep that it must be his Magnum Opus.

The book is door-stopper, comprised of over 500,000 words,  it occupies 1200+ pages in fine print, “pocket paper” format (just try fitting it in most pockets!) and covers  pre-Judaic, proto-Judaic/Hebrew, and Judaic history going back to about 10,000 BC.

The story opens at an early-60s archaeological dig at "tell" Makor (Hebrew for “source”) - an  ancient, long abandoned city in Israel. It looks like a  mound, since the ancient city (town, actually,  since the  mound measures 1000' x 1000') was built upon the  rubble left by generations of  inhabitants. What remains is a rich collection of artifacts, buildings, granaries, temples, stables, amongst the accouterments of civilization.

Fifteen artifacts are found in a test trench extending from the top layer seventy feet down to bedrock. The deepest object is an obsidian hand tool. The shallowest is a coin.

Michener tells a story involving each artifact and its corresponding time in history. Sandwiched  between the  historical tales is a running tale, mostly set in the dig. The historical tales explore early  monotheism, the Talmud, the mystics, and Zionism.

You will first become familiar with pre-Hebrew religions, early Christianity, and Roman rule followed by the Crusades, Muslim culture, and early rabbinical attempts to interpret the Torah. Michener even inserts Josephus into one of the stories.

The modern story explores Jewish culture in detail. Michener contrasts the Ashkenazim with the Sephardim, the still-unresolved conflict between non-believing Israelis and Orthodox Jews. He explains why those non-believers nonetheless still study the Torah in Hebrew. He outlines the
long tension between Arabs and Jews.

What made this a best-seller and not a long-forgotten academic treatise are Michener’s vivid plots involving timeless family conflicts set amongst innumerable invasions and defenses of Makor. It even has a love-story – no longer will you wonder why archeologists marry archeologists.

The novel concludes with the defense of nascent Israel that rivals any account of heroism-in-warfare.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Work of Art
Ginger Myrick

Work of Art: Love and Murder in 19th Century New York is a Cinderella story with a violent twist set 139 years in the past. From the mean streets of Five Points to carriage rides in the park and lunch at Delmonico’s, it evokes all of the extravagance of the age along with the stark disparity between classes.

Every girl dreams of a handsome Prince Charming to whisk her away to a fairytale ending. For Del Ryan it seemed unlikely, but that’s exactly what happened.

In 1874, New York booms with prosperity and conspicuous consumption with a clear social divide between classes. Families have lost their men to the Civil War and do what they can to get by. Del Ryan, an intelligent and talented Irish immigrant, works as a lady’s maid for a society matron to support her invalid mother. Although plain and unassuming, she is an accomplished artist with the gift of clairvoyance. She meets Killian Arthur, a golden god from a privileged New York family. He is flawlessly handsome with impeccable manners and a penchant for bare-knuckle boxing. Fascinated by her, Killian transforms Del into a fine lady, the toast of her new class of friends.

But things are not always what they seem. Rough Jimmy Sheehan is from the same Irish community and has always thought of Del as his own. He has known Del her entire life and has a keen understanding of her plight. Hot-tempered and hard drinking, he is Killian’s polar opposite in form and deed. Jimmy has seen enough of the world to know that there is something not quite right about Del’s suitor and warns her to that effect. Is he simply jealous, or does he want the best for the woman he loves?

The fairytale takes a violent turn when girls from the neighborhood start turning up dead. Del witnesses the murders through her disturbing visions and documents them in startlingly accurate detail with her artistic talent. She realizes that with each new victim, the killer is getting closer. Will his identity be revealed before he comes for her?

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Nook

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Sarah's Special Gift
Linda Weaver Clarke

Scotland has the Lock Ness Monster and Bear Lake Valley has theirs. Do they really exist? "Sarah's Special Gift" focuses on deep-rooted legends, a few mysterious events, and a tender love story.

Sarah is a beautiful and successful dance teacher. She is deaf, but this does not stop her from living life to its fullest. While visiting the Roberts family, David finds himself entranced with this very special lady and ends up defending her honor several times. He finds that Sarah has gone through many trials as she teaches him the importance of not dwelling on the past and how to love life. Meanwhile, David learns about the legend of the Bear Lake Monster and wonders why the community believes in such a thing. He is determined to prove there is no Bear Lake Monster.

"The romantic friction between David and Sarah is central to a story that will have you cheering for them to get together!" wrote Allison King, Allison's Attic. "The fun part is wondering if there is truly a monster in the lake. It makes for an interesting adventure, with a surprise ending to the 'tale' of the monster. I love that the author based the monster on a local folklore in Idaho. This is a heart-warming story of finding that right person to live the rest of your life with. It teaches us that people with disabilities are just like any other person who has dreams for their life. So, if you want to laugh, learn and live in the life of some wonderful characters....read this book and enjoy the journey!!!"

After a few teases, tricks, and mischievous deeds, David begins to overcome his troubles. As time passes, he realizes he must now face the dilemma of choosing between his career and matters of the heart.

Midwest Book Review wrote: "Love is never easy, and David must overcome many obstacles to finally claim his beloved. This is another fine entry into Clarke's work, highly recommended."

Purchase Book Link 

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Sons of the Wolf
Paula Lofting

On the battlefield, Wulfhere fights for his life but elsewhere the enemy is closer to home, sinister and shadowy and far more dangerous than any war.

1054, pious King Edward sits on the throne, spending his days hunting, sleeping and praying, leaving the security of his kingdom to his more capable brother-in-law Harold Godwinson, the powerful Earl of Wessex. Against this backdrop we meet Wulfhere, a Sussex thegn who, as the sun sets over the wild forest of Andredesweald, is returning home victoriously from a great battle in the north. Holding his lands directly from the King, his position demands loyalty to Edward himself, but Wulfhere is duty-bound to also serve Harold, a bond forged within Wulfhere's family heritage and borne of the ancient Teutonic ideology of honour and loyalty.

Wulfhere is a man with the strength and courage of a bear, a warrior whose loyalty to his lord and king is unquestionable. He is also a man who holds his family dear and would do anything to protect them. So when Harold demands that he wed his daughter to the son of Helghi, his sworn enemy, Wulfhere has to find a way to save his daughter from a life of certain misery in the household of the cruel and resentful Helghi without comprising his honour and loyalty to his lord, Harold.

Sons of the Wolf is a panoramic snapshot of medieval life and politics as the events that lead to the downfall of Anglo Saxon England play out, immersing the reader in the tapestry of life as it was before the Doomsday Book. With depictions of everyday life experienced through the minds of the peoples of the time; of feasts in the Great Halls to battles fought in the countryside, it cannot help but enlighten, educate and entertain.

Amazon US
Amazon UK


Friday, August 23, 2013

Goodreads Giveaway of Castles, Customs, and Kings!

You can enter a Goodreads giveaway of Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales of English Historical Fiction Authors. It runs till September 23rd, the release date.

The book is an anthology of blog posts from the first year of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog. Truth can indeed be stranger than fiction!

This book keeps a person’s attention. Each “chapter” is a page or two long, so it is wonderful for reading in short sittings. It would be a great waiting room book, lobby or break-room book, or a book to be read on public transportation. These essays from different time periods would also help to interest high school students in history.

 Please visit the Goodreads page to enter.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Historical Fiction Enticements 8/14

Sown in Tears
Beverly Magid

The place is Russia, the time, 1905. The country has lost the war with Japan, the peasants are frustrated with their poverty, soldiers are on the brink of mutiny, and the government, in order to distract the citizens, scapegoats the Jews, blaming them for all the country’s ills.

Inflamed by the lies, peasants attack the Jewish community where Leah Peretz and her family live. After a brutal assault on her husband, Leah has to survive and protect her two young children. But her life is complicated by the unexpected attentions of Ivan Vaselik, the Russian captain-in-charge, who is drawn to Leah, despite a long-held antipathy towards Jews.

Leah is conflicted by her growing feelings for Vaselik, while at the same Yaakov, the young peddler tries to bring her into the clandestine workers’ movement, which aims to change the lives of Russia’s workers.

Leah is a woman at the crossroads of her life, conflicted by emotions she never before experienced, in a community which is religiously constrained, as her journey is played out against the background of Russia’s growing revolutionary fever.

Amazon US 
Amazon UK 
Vroman's Bookstore

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Heyerwood: A Novel
Lauren Gilbert 

Control and authority… two words that did NOT apply to women like Catherine.

After her father sold her into a sham marriage, Catherine unexpectedly found herself in charge of her own life. After years of living alone and isolated in the country, she was the sole heir to an ancient estate, a title, and wealth beyond her wildest dreams.

Suddenly, she was discovered by relations of whom she had never heard but who were more than willing to help her with her inheritance, and she became engulfed in responsibilities for which she was not prepared. After years of isolation, she now had the means and the opportunity to do what she wanted. But what did she want? A man?

Between her father and her late husband, inviting another man into her life did not appear that attractive an option, until she made the acquaintance of more than one eligible gentleman. What else could she do with her life? Rediscovering old friends and finding new ones, Catherine discovers herself. A novel of choice and change, manners and growth, HEYERWOOD: A Novel follows a woman’s coming into her own as she learns to navigate Society alone and manage unexpected power.

Available in print and e-formats.

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

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A Vow to Keep
Book I of The Vengeance Trilogy
Lana Williams

Set in Medieval England, A Vow To Keep is the story of Sir Royce de Bremont, a bold knight set on vengeance, determined to reclaim his birthright. Capturing Lady Alyna is merely one step on his path of thwarting his traitorous uncle’s plans. He never expected her to capture his heart.

Lady Alyna has no desire to be a pawn in the knight’s game. She wishes only to find a safe place to raise her son, a boy gifted his second sight. Her son’s growing ability seems both a blessing and a curse as she tries to determine whom she can trust.

Royce’s traitorous uncle plays the game by his own rules, no matter the cost. And he has no intention of losing.

The beautiful lady and her precocious son make Royce long for a family of his own, yet until he reclaims his birthright, he has little to offer them. Alyna soon realizes this bold knight has captured her heart but fears she’s merely part of his plan for revenge. As passions rise, Royce is forced to choose between vengeance and love.

"An extraordinary tale of medieval love." Barnes and Noble Review

“A fun, enchanting read” Amazon Review

Amazon
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble

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Finishing School
David Bruce


 “Finishing School” is a novel intended to tell a truly representative story about a veteran WWII RAF bomber pilot leading a rookie crew through their last few weeks training at a Lancaster Finishing School, where they were trained to fly the Lancaster bomber. It is a story that has not been told before, either factually or in fiction, and the aim has been to make the tale as realistic as possible. The story is woven closely into the real events of March, 1944, and the technicalities involved in flying and fighting the Lancaster are treated in a highly realistic, but readable, way.

It is March 1944, and Flight Lieutenant Hugh MacKay is returning to operations after a long gap caused by severe injuries sustained in a crash the previous year. MacKay has an outlook as bleak as the war-torn skies over Germany and takes a very businesslike approach to getting his new crew up to the mark. During training, he meets June, a WAAF Flight Officer who appears to be taking an interest in him; an interest of which he is initially sceptical, but which leads him to accept a few days leave with her and her fighter pilot brother at the house of their aunt and uncle. During his leave, he becomes emotionally closer to June, but his imminent posting to an operational squadron causes him to fight shy of making any kind of meaningful commitment.

MacKay and his crew join their new squadron and spend the first few days getting settled in. MacKay’s reputation as a brilliant pilot is such that, rather than making him take a trial operational run with an existing crew as a second pilot, the squadron commander allows him and his new crew to participate in the next operation. That operation is the notorious attempted bombing of Nuremberg on the night of the 30th of March, during which nearly one hundred RAF bombers were shot down. For MacKay, it is the ultimate test of his qualities as a commander, and that, if he survives, a different personal destiny may await him.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Historical Fiction Enticements 8/7

The Circle of Ceridwen
Octavia Randolph

How far would you go for your best friend? Would your risk your life to ensure her safety? Place yourself in danger to protect what is most precious to her?

Remember the courage you had at fifteen. Remember the need that drove you to make your own way.

Now step back over a thousand years. It is the year 871, when England was Angle-Land. Of seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, five have fallen to the invading Vikings.

Across this war-torn landscape travels fifteen year old Ceridwen, now thrust into the lives of the conquerors. Driven from the priory in which she was raised, she is discovered by the warriors accompanying young Ælfwyn, daughter of a Saxon lord, sold against her will in marriage as part of a peace treaty with a marauding Viking war chief. Their destination is the captured fortress of Four Stones, a ruin holding glittering treasure. There Ælfwyn must keep her vow and wed Yrling - and Ceridwen must do all she can to support her new friend in the rebuilding of the ravaged village and great hall.

But living with the enemy affords Ceridwen unusual freedoms - and unlooked-for conflicts. Amongst them she explores again her own heathen past, and learns to judge each man on his own merits. Yrling's nephews Sidroc and Toki, both formidable warriors yet as different as night and day, compete to win Ceridwen for their own.

As the threat of full-scale war escalates, a midnight party of furtive Danes delivers someone to Four Stones who destroys the girls' hopes of peace and contentment. Now Ceridwen must summon all her courage - a courage which will be sorely tested as she defies both Saxon and Dane and undertakes an extraordinary adventure to save a man she has never met.

The first book of The Circle of Ceridwen Trilogy, the historical adventure saga enjoyed by thousands of readers in over 125 nations. With illustrations by Marta Roselló.

Young women with courage. Swords with names. Vikings with tattoos. Warfare. Passion. Survival. Sheep. And Other Good Things...

Amazon US
Amazon UK

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The Last Seal
Richard Denning

Gunpowder and Sorcery in 1666

On the eve of the Great Fire of London, Benjamin, a truant schoolboy and Freya, a thief orphaned during the plague, blunder into a struggle between rival secret societies. Whilst evading its deadly agents they discover that the Liberati serve a powerful demon which was trapped under London by their opponents - the Presidium - who created arcane seals round the city which the Liberati aim to destroy when they start the fire at Pudding Lane. The fire destroys seal after seal, each releasing horrific servants of the demon which drive the fire onwards.

Before the fire the Liberati had fought and almost destroyed the Presidium and so Gabriel, the sole remaining member of the Presidium is forced to recruit the two youths along Tobias a doctor - the son of another Presidium member murdered by the Liberati - to try and locate the Last Seal where the demon himself is trapped. The Liberati dog their every footstep and so a desperate race ensues. Meanwhile all of them must evade agents of the King who suspect that they are foreign spies who started the fire, as well as dealing with their own problems and motives.

Freya must overcome her natural self interest, aided by love for “her City” to protect it from the demon. Tobias is bitter, cynical and skeptical of his murdered father’s beliefs and motivated by a desire for revenge that could consume him. Gabriel is afraid his failures led to the death of Tobias’ father and that he will fail again. In the end though success or defeat depends on the school boy Ben who learns he must confront his own guilt over his parent’s death in order to gain the means to destroy the demon.

Amazon Kindle US
Amazon Kindle UK
Amazon Paperback US
Amazon Paperback UK

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Eulogy's Secret
Grace Elliot

Greed, prejudice and a stolen identity
(A Regency Romance)

Eulogy Foster craves to learn more about the mother who died giving her life. With her guardians passing, Eulogy sets off to London in search of her last living relative, a brother, Lord Lucien Devlin. But rather than welcome his estranged sister, Devlin denies their blood tie and throws her onto the streets. A passing stranger, Jack Huntley, gives Eulogy shelter and helps to find an old acquaintance of her mother's, the once great artist Tristan Farrell. But Farrell has fallen on hard times and is a derelict drunk. However, Eulogy's sudden appearance shakes Farrell, reminding him of the woman who once begged for help…and he turned away. Could Eulogy be a second chance to right past wrongs?

Jack Huntley doesn't trust Farrell and keeps a protective eye on Eulogy, but the more he sees of her quiet determination to unearth her mother's story, the deeper he falls in love. This faces Jack with an impasse, a life without her would be empty and worthless, and yet Eulogy is far beneath him on the social scale and marriage is unthinkable…and she refuses to become his mistress.

With Eulogy as his muse Farrell starts to paint again, to critical acclaim. Eulogy's pictures take the ton by storm, Farrell's talent is rediscovered and she is feted by society. Meanwhile Huntley lies to himself that his only interest in Eulogy is as a business investment, whilst he falls deeper in love. But with her reputation on the rise a series of dangerous accidents take place that make Huntley suspect someone wants Eulogy dead. But who… and why? What secret from the past is worth her life and will Huntley realise in time, that nothing matters besides love?

Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Edith and the Mysterious Stranger
Linda Weaver Clarke

Intriguing letters... letters that were given much thought... letters written so eloquently... letters that touched Edith's heart! Who had written such letters? This was the last thing Edith had expected in this historical romance novel.

With mysterious letters, cattle rustlers, a spunky woman, Halloween, and young love, there is always something happening. Edith, a nurse, moves to Idaho to care for her cousin Melinda who is having a difficult pregnancy. She has wonderful qualities but never gives a man a second chance because her expectations are so high. However, all that changes when a mysterious stranger starts writing to her. For the first time, she gets to know a man's inner soul before making any harsh judgments. Whoever he is, this man is a mystery and the best thing that has ever happened to her. The question that puzzles her is whether or not he's as wonderful in person as he is in his letters.

Edith used to sing professionally but has now settled down and serves others through her nursing abilities. While visiting her parents in Idaho, she meets two men. Henry, the superintendent of schools, seems to be arrogant, flirtatious, and quite impressed with her talents. Joseph, a farmer and ranch hand, acts completely disinterested in her and unimpressed with her talents. At first, both men get on her nerves until she decides it's about time to not be so judgmental.

"Clarke's passion for her historical subject matter is apparent in the solid writing, which transports the reader back in time effortlessly. Her multi-layered characters are unique individuals who evoke empathy. The experiences, challenges, dialogue, and dress are realistic for the time period and the descriptions are so vivid the reader is more a participant in the events than a page-turner. Edith and the Mysterious Stranger is a highly recommended read. It's a great adventure story with strong values; great for the entire family." --Lisa Haselton, Allbooks Reviews

Purchase Book

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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Historical Fiction Enticements 7/31

The Amber Treasure
Richard Denning

“I will take care of the body of my lord and you can carry the sword, story teller. For all good stories are about a sword.”

Cerdic is the nephew of a great warrior who died a hero of the 6th Century Anglo-Saxon country of Deira. Cynric’s body and sword were brought home by a family retainer, Grettir and a bard, Lilla.

Growing up in a quiet village, Cerdic is often told the stories of his uncle and gazes in awe at his sword. Along with his friends, the nervous agile Cuthbert and lumbering but brave Eduard, he dreams of the glories of battle and of one day writing his name into the sagas as told by Lilla. As a youth he trains for war under the guidance of the veteran, Grettir along with the youths from the area including the mysterious local boy Hussa who seems to bear him a grudge and watched by the resentful family slave, the Welshman, Aedann. As he grows he also becomes interested in a beautiful red haired village girl, Aidith who along with Cerdic’s sister, Mildrith are often about teasing and taunting the boys.

Cerdic’s dreams of glory along with his idyllic childhood years come to an abrupt end when he experiences the true horrors of war. His home is attacked, his sister kidnapped, his family betrayed and his uncle's legendary sword stolen by a cruel warlord from a neighbouring kingdom, Samlen ‘One Eyed’. In the disastrous rescue attempt that follows, the seventeen year old Cerdic is forced to take on the role of leadership in order to get his people home and comes to the attention of Deira’s King Aelle, the indecisive Prince Aethelric and hostile Earl Sabert who resents the authority given to this mere youth.

Cerdic, his friends, rivals and family are thrown into the struggles that will determine the future of 6th century Britain. In the ensuing battle he must show courageous leadership and overcome treachery, to save his kingdom, rescue his sister and return home with his uncle’s sword.

Amazon Kindle US
Amazon Kindle UK
Amazon US Paperback
Amazon UK Paperback

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The Widow's Redeemer
Philippa Jane Keyworth

It's the year 1815 in Regency era London. Letty Burton is widowed at two-and-twenty without fortune or prospects. Leaving the West Country for Town, Letty is thrust into the London Season by her domineering mother-in-law. Amid the glittering soirees and balls of the ton, Letty endeavours to hide a dark past she wishes to forget. Facing an uncertain future, all she wants is to navigate London Society as a silent companion.

Meeting old acquaintances of her husband’s, and making a few new ones of her own, Letty is calm in the thought that her past will stay buried--until a chance meeting with London’s most eligible bachelor shatters her peace and sets in motion a series of events that will bring her life under the unfriendly scrutiny of the ton.

The Viscount Beauford holds secrets of his own, and Letty finds those dark, brooding eyes inescapable. As their relationship develops, the gossip mongers' tongues start to wag, both their secrets resurface, and their worlds are pulled apart. The net of scandal, debts and rivals rapidly closes in, and as Letty is pushed to breaking point she must decide--will she let her dark past dictate her life forever? Will she learn to trust again? And most importantly, will she allow herself to love?

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Barnes & Noble

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Elena, Woman of Courage
Linda Weaver Clarke

The "Roaring Twenties" was a time of great change, when women raised their hemlines and bobbed their hair. It was a time of independence, courage, and adventure. In the 1920s, the new generation spoke a language their parents didn't understand. They used words like: Cat's pajamas! Ah, horsefeathers! Baloney! When referring to a woman, they used doll and tomato. When a person was in love, he was goofy. And when a woman was not in the mood for kissing, she would say, "The bank's closed." Elena, Woman of Courage: A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho creates the mood of the "roaring twenties" and is filled with sweet romance, courage, and humor.

When Elena Yeates settles into a small western town as the newest doctor, a few problems arise. The town is not ready for a female doctor, let alone one so strong and independent. She must struggle against the prejudice to establish her new practice. As she fights to prove herself, the town's most eligible bachelor finds it a challenge to see if he can win her heart. When you mix a happy-go-lucky bachelor with a roaring 20s woman, you have Elena, Woman of Courage.

Suko's Notebook Reviews wrote: "Linda Weaver Clarke is outstanding at presenting the characters' thoughts, especially when it comes to romance, and she captures the highs and lows of romantic life rather adeptly."

Elena is a courageous woman who went to college during a time when women were not encouraged to be educated beyond high school. The 1920s was a time of change when women began fighting for their rights. After getting her degree as a doctor, she moves to the West to set up her own practice. When she arrives in a small town in Idaho, she meets those who oppose her from day one but Elena's stubborn nature will not allow her to give up. In her fight for equality, she learns to love the people of Bear Lake Valley and realizes she has found a home at last.

"Elena Woman of Courage is a wonderful book full of history, passion and romance, as well as a touch of suspense and humor," wrote Kim Atchue-Cusella, Book Loons.

Purchase

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Summer Rain: Getsikahvda Anitsalagi 
(The Removal of the People)
Robyn Leatherman

Welcome to the life of a young Cherokee girl named Rain, as she grows into maturity just as the Trail of Tears begins. Summer Rain: Getsikahvda Anitsalagi (The Removal of the People) is an unforgettable story that taps into a sad part of American history.

This journey begins in Georgia in a typical Cherokee village in the early 1800s, where a young girl and her best friend realize there are strangers poised to take their land and home away from the Cherokee and from neighboring tribes.

The girls witness the birth of the new written language of Tsalagi in the year 1821 and the printing press in the year 1827. The Cherokee Nation’s growth is also financial, and would mark the first newspaper to ever be printed and circulated by a Native American tribe.

Rain falls in love with a white boy and is forced to follow her heart and save her own life, or to remain loyal to her family, knowing that in doing so, she could lose not only her true love, but her very life as well.

Purchase

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Cawnpore
Tom Williams

After years spent in the Far East, John Williamson has joined the East India Company. Based in Cawnpore, in the North West Frontier province, he is a successful administrator, running a chunk of India on behalf of his London masters. Although he enjoys his work, he struggles to fit in with the other Europeans: a gay man in a straight society; a farm labourer's son in a world of gentleman's clubs and refined dinner parties. Uncomfortable with his compatriots, he falls in love with the country and, in particular, with a young Indian nobleman in the court of the local lord. Then the Indian troops rise in mutiny and the country is plunged into war. With the British Raj teetering on the edge of destruction and Cawnpore a by-word for horror across the Empire, Williamson has to choose whose side he is really on.

'Cawnpore' is a story firmly rooted in real historical events. Williamson finds himself at the centre of one of the bloodiest conflicts of the Indian Mutiny at a crucial point in history. 'Cawnpore' is the story of events that shocked the world and shaped the future of British India. But, above all, it is a story of one man, caught in an impossible situation. It's guaranteed to make you cry.

Amazon Kindle UK  (It is also available in paperback.)
Amazon Kindle US  (Also available in paperback)

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Historical Fiction Enticements 7/24

Welcome to this week's Wednesday feature, Historical Fiction Enticements. I hope you will find your new favorite book!

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The White Rajah
Tom Williams

When James Brooke arrived in Borneo on the schooner 'Royalist', he planned to make a quick profit trading with the natives. He didn't expect to find himself caught up in a civil war. And he certainly didn't expect to end up the legal ruler of his own country.

As the first White Rajah of Sarawak, Brooke was determined to show how the Britain of Queen Victoria could bring civilisation to the native people of the world. But life in Borneo proved more complicated than it seemed. Soon pirates were exploiting the divisions in the country and, when the old rulers staged a coup, Brooke found himself fighting for his life.

Faced with the destruction of all he had worked for, Brooke is driven to desperate measures to reclaim his country. But is he bringing civilisation to Borneo or will his ruthless destruction of the pirates just bring a new level of brutality to the people he had meant to save?

The White Rajah is the story of a man, fighting for his life, who must choose between his beliefs and the chance of victory. Based on a true story, Brooke's battle is a tale of adventure set against the background of a jungle world of extraordinary beauty and terrible savagery.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

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A Widow's Crusade
Helena Schrader

Anno Domini 1212

Across France, children are on the march. Seduced by a shepherd boy with a vision of freeing Jerusalem through the power of innocence alone, tens of thousands of children have left their homes to embark upon a new, peaceful crusade. As they stream through the city of Chavigny in Poitou, they are singing the old crusader ballade: The Song of Palestine.

The melody awakens memories in the heart of a rich widow, Blanche. Long ago, when she was still young and beautiful, she had been in love with a poor knight, Abelard. He left her to follow Richard the Lionheart on crusade – and never returned. An oblique reference to a man of the same name in a letter addressed to someone else sparks in Blanche an irresistible longing to go to the Holy Land in search of her lost love.

Blanche sets out on a personal crusade, across the war-torn Languedoc, daring the pirates and slavers of the Mediterranean -- only to find a man, who is nothing like she remembered him, and anything but pleased to see Blanche again.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Castles, Customs, and Kings: 
True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors
Edited by Debra Brown and M.M. Bennetts

Madison Street Publishing is pleased to announce that Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors will be released on September 23, 2013. The anthology is a selection of essays from the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, a site organized by Debra Brown with a daily historical post contributed by one of the member authors. The release date marks the two year anniversary of the blog.

A compilation of essays from the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this book provides a wealth of historical information from Roman Britain to early twentieth century England. Over fifty different authors share hundreds of real life stories and tantalizing tidbits discovered while doing research for their own historical novels.

From Queen Boadicea’s revolt to Tudor ladies-in-waiting, from Regency dining and dress to Victorian crime and technology, immerse yourself in the lore of Great Britain. Read the history behind the fiction and discover the true tales surrounding England’s castles, customs, and kings.

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Leap the Wild Water
Jenny Lloyd

Megan Jones was meant to marry Eli, but an act of treachery on the part of her religiously zealous and spiteful mother prevented their marriage. Now her Mam has died and Eli has returned wishing to marry her. During Eli’s absence, and believing he would marry another, Megan was driven by desperation to escape the drudgery of her home life and her mother’s overbearing spite and malice. Megan’s escape arrived in the form of Iago, a ne’er-do-well professing love and promises of marriage. But Iago abandons her and her unborn child, and Megan faces being cast out, not only by the religious chapel community at large but by her own mother and brother.

Determined to avoid public shame, when the child is born, her Mam persuades Megan’s brother, Morgan, to steal away the new-born babe and leave it with a woman who takes in illegitimate children for payment.

Fearing judgement and rejection, Megan cannot find the courage to tell Eli about her past, and the marriage is set to go ahead. But Morgan is consumed by guilt and desperate to make amends. Now their Mam is dead, responsibility for what happens to Megan’s child lies solely with him. He knows what Megan does not; that her child lives in squalor and is neglected and abused by the woman who is paid to care for her. If he does nothing he cannot live with his conscience, but he cannot bring the child home without ruining his sister’s reputation and destroying her hopes of marriage. He has badly betrayed his sister once, against his will and better judgement. Now, it seems, he must betray Megan again, for the sake of her child. To do so will destroy his sister, but he may already be too late. As events gather momentum, Megan’s past charges relentlessly towards the present, threatening to destroy her marriage, her sanity and, ultimately, her life.

Set amid the windswept hills of early 19th century rural Wales, Leap the Wild Water is a tale of treachery, secrets, betrayal and sexual double standards, in a community ruled by fear of hell-fire and the religious fervour of the times.

Amazon US 
Amazon UK

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The Song of Heledd
Judith Arnopp

In seventh century Powys a feast at the hall of King Cynddylan of Pengwern is in full swing. The torches are burning, the musicians are tuning their instruments and the dogs are snarling over a bone beneath the king’s table.  The men have removed their weapons but the talk is still of war but for the royal princesses, Heledd and Ffreur, the night is one of wonder and excitement. When the reveller’s bellies are full and the war talk mellowed by mead, a travelling minstrel steps forward, his hair shining red in the firelight. As his harp sounds and he begins to sing something in the heart of fifteen year old Heledd stirs, and an illicit liaison is born. A liaison that triggers a chain of events that will destroy two kingdoms and bring down a dynasty.

Set against the backdrop of the pagan-Christian conflict between kings Penda and Oswiu, The Song of Heledd sweeps the reader from the ancient kingdom of Pengwern to the lofty summits of Gwynedd where Heledd battles to control both her own destiny and that of her family. 

The Song of Heledd is a work of fiction inspired by fragments of ancient Welsh poetry known as Canu Heledd (The Song of Heledd) and Marwnad Cynddylan (Elegy of Cyndyllan).  In the poems Heledd is the sole surviving member of the royal house of Pengwern.  Her dynasty and family have been destroyed and, in the poem, her brother, King Cynddylan’s, hall is in ruins.  Her lament for him and the destruction of the royal seat remains powerfully emotive but the most striking thing is her sense of blame.  Judith Arnopp says, “The historical detail of 7th century Powys and Gwynedd is almost as fragmented as the surviving poetry.  We can never know what really became of Heledd and her family but there are enough references to know they existed.  The poems show a strong family bond and that Heledd was a woman whose actions impacted upon the world around her. The Canu Heledd provides rich descriptions of the llys and the people who lived there, Cynddylan in his purple cloak, the richly carved mead halls, the merging tradition of Celtic and Christian religion, the high halls filled with music. And they also mention a sister named Ffreur, whom Heledd once mourned but mourns no longer.  Canu Heledd raises many questions but, for me, this one is the greatest, she no longer mourns her sister? Why? 

I spent many months sifting through the smoke-ruined embers of Cynddylan’s hall to piece together a story for Heledd and Ffreur and produce a fiction of what might have been. It is a heart breaking story but, in spite of that, I hope you enjoy it.”