When the body of Maggie McFarland, an 86-year old widow, is
found among the rubble of the once-famous, landmark Artemis Hotel, leveled by
fire nearly seventy years ago, residents of Roscoe are shocked. However, it is
not the location where Maggie is found, but rather the manner of her demise
that has everyone puzzled. For it isn't a heart attack that has felled her; nor
has she suffered a stroke, or taken a fatal fall from a porch. Her life has not
ended so uneventfully. Maggie has been killed by a bullet to the heart, fired
from a pistol at close range. Who would possibly want to kill this kind, gentle
woman, known throughout the area as one of the best trout fly tiers within a
hundred miles of the famed Beaverkill River? That is the mystery that confronts
Matt Davis in Broken Promises, one of the most baffling cases of his career.
Check out one of my all-time favorite trilogies by
Bilyeau. She is one of my favorite writers of the Tudor Era. I highly
Tudor fiction like no other.
Joanna Stafford, a Dominican nun, learns that her favorite cousin has been
condemned by Henry VIII to be burned at the stake. Defying the rule of
enclosure, Joanna leaves the priory to stand at her cousin’s side. Arrested for
interfering with the king’s justice, Joanna, along with her father, is sent to
the Tower of London.
While Joanna is in the Tower, the ruthless Bishop
of Winchester forces her to spy for him: to save her father’s life she must
find an ancient relic—a crown so powerful, it may possess the ability to end
With Cromwell’s troops threatening to shutter her
priory, bright and bold Joanna must decide who she can trust so that she may
save herself, her family, and her sacred way of life. This provocative story
set in Tudor England melds heart-stopping suspense with historical detail and
brings to life the poignant dramas of women and men at a fascinating and
critical moment in England’s past.
It was a time of fear. It was a
time of prophecy. It was a time for one woman to show a courage she never knew
Winner of the Best Historical Mystery Award from
the RT Reviews, 'The Chalice' is a thriller told from the point of view of a
young woman caught in the crosswinds of time: She has pledged to become a
Dominican nun in an England ruled by Henry VIII, who has ruthlessly smashed his
country's allegiance to Rome. By 1538, the bloody power struggles between crown
and cross 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.
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. As she struggles to forge a life for herself in a country
that rejects her faith, she must also decide if her future should be shared
with a man--and if so, which of the two men who love her should be chosen.
The next page-turner in the
award-winning Joanna Stafford series takes place in the heart of the Tudor
court, as the gutsy former novice risks everything to defy the most powerful
men of her era.
After her Dominican priory in Dartford closed
forever—collateral damage in tyrannical King Henry VIII’s quest to overthrow
the Catholic Church—Joanna resolves to live a quiet and honorable life weaving
tapestries, shunning dangerous quests and conspiracies. Until she is summoned
to Whitehall Palace, where her tapestry weaving has drawn the King’s attention.
Joanna is uncomfortable serving the King, and
fears for her life in a court bursting with hidden agendas and a casual
disregard for the virtues she holds dear. Her suspicions are confirmed when an
assassin attempts to kill her moments after arriving at Whitehall.
Struggling to stay ahead of her most formidable
enemy yet, an unknown one, she becomes entangled in dangerous court politics.
Her dear friend Catherine Howard is rumored to be the King’s mistress. Joanna
is determined to protect young, beautiful, naïve Catherine from becoming the
King’s next wife and, possibly, victim.
Set in a world of royal banquets and feasts,
tournament jousts, ship voyages, and Tower Hill executions, this thrilling tale
finds Joanna in her most dangerous situation yet, as she attempts to decide the
life she wants to live: nun or wife, spy or subject, rebel or courtier. Joanna
Stafford must finally choose.
I have the great pleasure to announce that I have been
honored of being the short-list judge for the Historical Novel Society Indie
Award alongside Steve Donoghue HNS US Indie Review Editor and author Janis
Pegrum Smith - and the Finalist judges: James Aitcheson (author and historian)
and Anna Belfrage author and 2015 Indie Award Winner.
Here's the full longlist - the nine selected shortlist
titles will be announcedhereon 1st January.
a story, I am always wondering how the writers came up with the name for their
characters. Now, historical fiction, I get. Except maybe for the fictional characters
thrown in. Does the writer look on the internet, billboards, name their characters
after friends, favorite actor, family or foe? Or do the names just pop in their
heads? I wonder if some writers come up with the name from the personalities of
their characters. That would be cool. Or do they take an on-line survey? As you
can see, there are endless ways to come up with names…
reason, this is just one of the many thoughts on my mind in the world of a
writer and reader.
I write alternate history, so I use names of Historical figures. Okay, okay, I use names that have always
appealed to me or of names of people I’ve come across growing up as well. Names
of girls I wish my mother named me or who I despised. Names of boys I disliked
with a passion or had a crush on. Hey, at least I can admit this out loud in a
VERY public way.
Do you often
wonder how writers come up with names?
Pompeii was a lively resort flourishing in
the shadow of Mount Vesuvius at the height of the Roman Empire. When Vesuvius
erupted in an explosion of flame and ash, the entire town would be destroyed.
Some of its citizens died in the chaos, some escaped the mountain's wrath . . .
and these are their stories: A boy loses his innocence in Pompeii's flourishing
streets. An heiress dreads her wedding day, not knowing it will be swallowed by
fire. An ex-legionary stakes his entire future on a gladiator bout destined never
to be finished. A crippled senator welcomes death, until a tomboy on horseback
comes to his rescue. A young mother faces an impossible choice for her unborn
child as the ash falls. A priestess and a whore seek redemption and
resurrection as the town is buried. Six authors bring to life overlapping
stories of patricians and slaves, warriors and politicians, villains and heroes
who cross each other’s' path during Pompeii's fiery end. But who will escape,
and who will be buried for eternity?
There are moments when I read more
than one book at a time. I can’t help myself and my moods have been all over
the place lately with differnt genres. Luckly, I can keep up with all of the stories in
my head without getting confused. Okay, Okay I’ll tell you a little secret. I take notes
as well. Shh…don’t tell. Plus, I have a big project I have been asked to work
on in the new year and I need to clear some of my reading shelf. This project
will take up almost half a year worth of reading. More to come later about
So let’s get started! Below are the
books I’m reading and what I have to say about each book thus far. Enjoy!
I have been dying to get my hands on
one of Libbie Hawkers books. When this came available through NetGalley, I
jumped on it. I’ve read the first few pages so far and I am intrigued with the
premise. Review coming soon.
Zenobia takes control of her own fate, will the gods punish her audacity? Zenobia, the proud daughter of a Syrian sheikh,
refuses to marry against her will. She won’t submit to a lifetime of
subservience. When her father dies, she sets out on her own, pursuing the power
she believes to be her birthright, dreaming of the Roman Empire’s downfall and
her ascendance to the throne.
Defying her family, Zenobia arranges her own
marriage to the most influential man in the city of Palmyra. But their union is
anything but peaceful—his other wife begrudges the marriage and the birth of
Zenobia’s son, and Zenobia finds herself ever more drawn to her guardsman,
Zabdas. As war breaks out, she’s faced with terrible choices.
From the decadent halls of Rome to the golden
sands of Egypt, Zenobia fights for power, for love, and for her son. But will
her hubris draw the wrath of the gods? Will she learn a “woman’s place,” or can
she finally stake her claim as Empress of the East?
The Beautiful Daughters has been completely conflicted. My thoughts are torn with this story, actually. I’m reviewing this one for
NetGalley, so you will see more of my thoughts soon when I post the review.
Adrienne Vogt and Harper Penny
were closer than sisters, until the day a tragedy blew their seemingly idyllic
world apart. Afraid that they got away with murder and unable to accept who
they had lost—and what they had done—Harper and Adri exiled themselves from
small-town Blackhawk, Iowa, and from each other. Adri ran thousands of miles
away to Africa while Harper ventured down a more destructive path closer to
Now, five years later, both are convinced that
nothing could ever coax them out of the worlds in which they’ve been living.
But unexpected news from home soon pulls Adri and Harper back together, and the
two cannot avoid facing their memories and guilt head-on. As they are pulled
back into the tangle of their fractured relationships and the mystery of
Piperhall, the sprawling estate where their lives first began to unravel,
secrets and lies behind the tragic accident are laid bare. The former best
friends are forced to come to terms with their shared past and search for the
beauty in each other while mending the brokenness in themselves.
I’m almost through with, 'In the Shadow of the
Storm' by Anna Belfrage. I am on the last few pages. What an adventure! I’m
reserving the rest of my thoughts for my written review which will come in the
Adam de Guirande owes his lord,
Roger Mortimer, much more than loyalty. He owes Lord Roger for his life and all
his worldly goods, he owes him for his beautiful wife – even if Kit is not
quite the woman Lord Roger thinks she is. So when Lord Roger rises in rebellion
against the king, Adam has no choice but to ride with him – no matter what the
ultimate cost may be.
England in 1321 is a confusing
place. Edward II has been forced by his barons to exile his favourite, Hugh
Despenser. The barons, led by the powerful Thomas of Lancaster, Roger Mortimer
and Humphrey de Bohun, have reasons to believe they have finally tamed the
king. But Edward is not about to take things lying down, and fate is a fickle
mistress, favouring first one, then the other.
Adam fears his lord has over-reached, but at present Adam has other matters to
concern him, first and foremost his new wife, Katherine de Monmouth. His bride
comes surrounded by rumours concerning her and Lord Roger, and he hates it when
his brother snickers and whispers of used goods.
Kit de Courcy has the
misfortune of being a perfect double of Katherine de Monmouth – which is why
she finds herself coerced into wedding a man under a false name. What will Adam
do when he finds out he has been duped?
Domestic matters become irrelevant when the king sets out to punish his
rebellious barons. The Welsh Marches explode into war, and soon Lord Roger and
his men are fighting for their very lives. When hope splutters and dies, when
death seems inevitable, it falls to Kit to save her man – if she can.
'In the Shadow of the Storm' is
the first in Anna Belfrage’s new series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story
of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his lord, his king, and his wife.
Hysterical Love by Lorraine Wilke is a B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree and the author kindly sent me a copy because of the support I
have been giving her on Layered Pages. She is a delight to work with and I’ve
been wanting to read her stories for a while now. Being from the South and
reading a story where the setting takes place in California is new to me and
thus far I am enjoying the experience. Lorraine certainly does not hold back
with her prose and style. One can tell she enjoys her craft in character building.
Dan McDowell, a
thirty-three-year-old portrait photographer happily set to marry his beloved
Jane, is stunned when a slip of the tongue about an “ex-girlfriend overlap” of
years earlier throws their pending marriage into doubt and him onto the street.
Or at least into the second bedroom of their next-door neighbor, Bob, where Dan
is sure it won't be long. It's long.
His sister, Lucy, further confuses matters with
her “soul mate theory” and its suggestion that Jane might not be his... soul
mate, that is. But the tipping point comes when his father is struck ill,
sparking a chain of events in which Dan discovers a story written by this man
he doesn’t readily understand, but who, it seems, has long harbored an
unrequited love from decades earlier.
Incapable of fixing his own romantic dilemma, Dan
becomes fixated on finding this woman of his father’s dreams and sets off for
Oakland, California, on a mission fraught with detours and semi-hilarious
peril. Along the way he meets the beautiful Fiona, herbalist and flower child,
who assists in his quest while quietly and erotically shaking up his world.
When, against all odds, he finds the elusive woman from the past, the ultimate
discovery of how she truly fit into his father's life leaves him staggered, as
does the reality of what’s been stirred up with Fiona. But it’s when he returns
home to yet another set of unexpected truths that he’s shaken to the core,
ultimately forced to face who he is and just whom he might be able to love.
Lorraine Devon Wilke, author of the acclaimed
debut novel, After The Sucker Punch, brings her deft mix of humor and drama to
a whip-smart narrative told from the point of view of its male protagonist.
Hysterical Love explores themes of family, commitment, balancing creativity,
facing adulthood, and digging deep to understand the beating heart of true love.
Perfidtas is the sequel to Inceptio by Alison
Morton. Her stories have been awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion. Her alternate history
series is unlike anything I have read before. I’m totally digging its
uniqueness and the world she has created. Be sure to check out this series. I
recommend starting with the first book. The stories build on each other.
Present day, alternate reality.
Captain Carina Mitela of the Praetorian Guard Special Forces is in trouble –
one colleague has tried to kill her and another has set a trap to incriminate
her in a conspiracy to topple the government of Roma Nova. Founded sixteen
hundred years ago by Roman dissidents and ruled by women, Roma Nova barely
survived a devastating coup d’état thirty years ago. Carina swears to prevent a
repeat and not merely for love of country.
Seeking help from a not quite legal old friend could wreck her marriage to the
enigmatic Conrad. Once proscribed and operating illegally, she risks being
terminated by both security services and conspirators. As she struggles to
overcome the desperate odds and save her beloved Roma Nova and her own life,
she faces the ultimate betrayal…
Often times I switch to modern day thrillers to
mix things up a bit. It also helps me keep things in perspective when it comes
to my own writing. I am an avid reader of Historical Fiction but writing
an alternate history story that takes place in the modern day and reveals a 16th
Century past. It’s pretty cool. I’m having a lot of fun with it.
A body in a rundown Opera House.
Simmering resentment in a small Virginia coastal town.
A missing manuscript.
A dark family secret.
Former piano prodigy turned FBI agent Scott Drayco is suffering nightmares from
his last case as a private consultant. To add insult to injury, he's bequeathed
an unwanted and rundown Opera House in Cape Unity, a down-on-its-luck seaside
village where vacation homes were once a playground for the rich. His hopes for
a quick sale are dashed when a new client with dreams of his own redemption is
murdered in the Opera House, the letter “G” mockingly carved into his chest.
Slowly, inevitably, Drayco is pulled into a tangled web of jealousy and
betrayal that reaches across the Atlantic into some of the darkest days of
human history. But will he be able to untangle the web before the tensions in
Cape Unity explode into more violence and he becomes the next victim?
Okay, so as a general rule I do not do Vampire
Stories (usually) but this captured my attention some time ago and I’ve been
too curious about it to stay away. What do I think of it so far? Well, you’ll
just have to wait. I want to surprise you.
Henry Stuart, Duke of
Gloucester, the youngest brother of King Charles II is a handsome man with
sound principles. When the twenty-year-old prince contracts smallpox in 1660,
however, his life takes a decidedly sinister turn. Obsessed with Henry from afar,
Contessa Griselda di Cuorenero - one of the Devil's concubines - turns him into
a vampire and plunges him into the world of night. But Henry soon discovers
that not all horrors are of the paranormal kind... In the unnaturally close
village of Coffin's Bishop, Henry encounters a severely abused young woman -
Susanna Edmonds - a woman who has suffered under humans more monstrous than
vampires. Could love save them from the evil they have known? And at what cost?
Henry must choose between his humanity and his monstrous, insatiable desire for
human blood. From the author of "His Last Mistress," The Stuart
Vampire is a dark gothic tale in the vein of The Monk.
The Historian is one I have read before (more
than once) and I’m thoroughly enjoying it still. I’m reading it with a different
eye this time around. Alas, it’s a dense read with articulate prose and I am absorbing this lush story in small lavish dosages.
To you, perceptive reader, I
bequeath my history…
Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a
young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters addressed
ominously to ‘My dear and unfortunate successor’. Her discovery plunges her
into a world she never dreamed of – a labyrinth where the secrets of her
father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an evil hidden in the
depths of history.
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