Monday, September 8, 2014

SPOTLIGHT: Shadow on the Highway by Deborah Swift

BLURB:


May 1651. 

England has been in the midst of a civil war for nearly ten years. 


The country has been torn in two, and the King is getting ready to make his last stand against Cromwell’s New Model Army. 


Abigail Chaplin, a young deaf girl, has lost her father to the parliamentarian cause. 


But with her family now in reduced circumstances, she is forced to work as a servant at a royalist household - the estate of Lady Katherine Fanshawe. 


Abi is soon caught up in a web of sinister secrets which surround the Fanshawe estate. 


The most curious of which is the disappearance of Lady Katherine late at night. 


Why are her husband’s clothes worn and muddy even though he hasn’t been home for weeks? 


How is she stealing out of the house late at night when her room is being guarded? 


And what is her involvement with the robberies being committed by the mysterious Silent Highwayman? 


‘Shadow On The Highway’ is based on the life and legend of Lady Katherine Fanshawe, the highwaywoman, sometimes known as ‘The Wicked Lady’. It is the first book in ‘The Highway Trilogy’. 




Praise for Deborah Swift: 

‘There is no greater compliment than “Give me more!”’ - Susanna Gregory 

‘realistic dialogue, an author’s obvious love for history, and characters that leap off the pages’ - Romance Reviews Today 


‘genuinely engrossing… with characters you can get interested in’ - The Mum Website 


Deborah Swift lives in North Lancashire on the edge of the Lake District. She teaches classes and courses in writing, and is the author of three other historical novels: ‘The Lady’s Slipper’, ‘The Gilded Lily’ and ‘A Divided Inheritance’. You can find out more about her on her website, www.deborahswift.co.uk. 


Endeavour Press is the UK's leading independent publisher of digital books.




Review

'a terrific read ... thoroughly engaging for lovers of historical fiction of any age'
Gabrielle Kimm, author of His Last Duchess 

From the Author

This is a shorter, more lightweight novel than my other books, which sometimes run to more than 400 pages. The story itself naturally fell into three parts and so it made sense to divide the narrative into three books of about 200 pages each, and form a trilogy. Each book is a stand-alone story with a different main character, but each book features Abi, Katherine and Ralph. I hope the subject matter will appeal to younger readers of historical fiction - but that is not to say adults won't enjoy it too!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

BLOG TOUR, GIVEAWAY, & EXCERPT: Once More, My Darling Rogue by Lorraine Heath

Once More my Darling Rogue
The Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James # 2
By: Lorraine Heath
Releasing August 26th, 2014  
Avon


Blurb

From New York Times bestselling author Lorraine Heath, comes the second book in a brand new series, The Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James, featuring three eligible bachelors...and the scoundrels that reside within each.

Born to the street but raised within the aristocracy, Drake Darling can't escape his sordid beginnings. Not when Lady Ophelia Lyttleton snubs him at every turn, a constant reminder he's not truly one of them. But after rescuing her from a mysterious drowning, he realizes she doesn't remember who she is. With plans to bring her to heel, he insists she's his housekeeper—never expecting to fall for the charming beauty.

While Ophelia might not recall her life before Drake, she has little doubt she belongs with him. The desire she feels for her dark, brooding employer can't be denied, regardless of consequences. So when Ophelia's memory returns, she is devastated by the depth of his betrayal. Now Drake must risk everything to prove she can trust this rogue with her heart once more.


EXCERPT

Irritated with himself for being drawn to the sound, he glanced back over his shoulder to spy her flirting outrageously with the Duke of Avendale and Viscount Langdon. Their families were well-respected,  powerful, and wealthy. He was not surprised to see two other ladies in the group. The gents were sought-after, but just as he tended to avoid social affairs, so did they. Marriage was so far in their distant future that they wouldn’t be able to see it with a spyglass. They were here only because they were close to both Grace and Lovingdon. But now that the happy couple had departed, he suspected Avendale and Langdon would be headed elsewhere for their entertainment.
Unlike Lady O they would invite him to join them. Ophelia’s laughter reached him again, only this time when the sound went silent, her gaze landed on him like a huge stone, then dipped to the champagne, and her lips tipped upward in triumph, just before she wrinkled her nose as though she smelled something quite unpleasant. Her face settling once more into deceptive loveliness, she shifted her gaze back to Avendale, summarily dismissing Drake in the process.
Unfortunately for her, he was no longer quite so easily dismissed.
Ophelia knew a quick spurt of panic. Darling strode toward her with purpose in his step, his large hands—a workman’s hands—dwarfing the flute he carried. His expression shouted that he was tossing down the gauntlet and she feared she might have misjudged his mood tonight, that managing him might be more challenging than she’d expected, but manage him she would. She would not be cowed, not by him, not by any other man for that matter.
He was a commoner who came from common beginnings. He might wear the outer trappings of a gentleman, but she had no doubt that deep down he was a scoundrel, with a scoundrel’s ways, and a penchant toward sinful behavior.
She didn’t know why that thought caused her to grow uncomfortably warm. It was the crowded room, the gaslit chandeliers, the layers of petticoats, and the tight corset. She certainly wasn’t imagining those hands exploring her body. She was not of the streets. She was a lady. And ladies did not contemplate such things.
But as he neared, something within the black depths of his eyes twinkled as though he knew precisely where her errant thoughts had journeyed and was more than willing to serve as her companion on a sojourn into wickedness. He was not handsome, at least not classically so. His features were rugged, craggy, as though shaped by an angry god. His nose was too broad, his brow too wide. His jaw too square. She could see the beginning of shadow, bristles that hadn’t the decency to wait until later to appear. Why was she wasting her time cataloguing each and every inch of him when she had lords aplenty willing to give her attention?


Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19099623-once-more-my-darling-rogue?from_search=true

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Author Info
LORRAINE HEATH always dreamed of being a writer. After graduating from the University of Texas, she wrote training manuals and computer code, but something was always missing. After reading a romance novel, she not only became hooked on the genre, but quickly realized what her writing lacked: rebels, scoundrels, and rogues. She’s been writing about them ever since. Her work has been recognized with numerous industry awards, including RWA’s RITA® and a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award. Her novels have appeared on the USA Today and New York Times best-seller lists.



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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

PROMO & GIVEAWAY: What a Lady Most Desires by Lecia Cornwall

What a Lady Most Desires
The Temberlay Series # 3
By: Lecia Cornwall
Releasing August 26th, 2014
Avon Romance


Blurb


On the night before the final battle against Napoleon, Lady Delphine St. James finds herself dancing with the one man she has always wanted, Major Lord Stephen Ives. He makes it clear he has no time for a lady he sees as flirtatious and silly, but as the call to arms sounds, she bids him farewell with a kiss that stirs them both. When he returns gravely injured, she is intent on caring for him, even if his surly behavior tests her patience.

After the battle, Stephen is not only wounded and blind, but falsely accused of cowardice and theft. The only light in his dark world is Delphine, the one woman he never imagined he could desire. But she deserves more than he can give her.

As their feelings deepen and hidden enemies conspire to force them to part forever, can their love survive the cruelest test of all? 



Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18518676-what-a-lady-most-desires?from_search=true




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Author Info
Lecia Cornwall is a PRO member of the Romance Writers of America’s Seattle and Calgary Chapters. Her background includes all facets of writing, including running a successful freelance writing business specializing in direct marketing and advertising. Both history and writing have been lifelong passions. Lecia currently lives and writes in Calgary, Alberta, the heart of the Canadian West.






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Excerpt

Stephen pushed his way through the crowded streets to his quarters, a house he shared with five other unmarried officers. Marching columns of men filled every boulevard and alley, flowing like a river toward the city’s southern gate. Officers waded through the flood on horseback, bawling orders. Women waved and cried, and children marched alongside the soldiers until their mothers caught their hands and pulled them back. The heavy beat of the march step pounded like thunder in Stephen’s breast. He was late. He should have left the ball much earlier, and he would have it hadn’t been for Delphine St. James. He had not expected to see her there. She’d kissed him. And he had kissed her back. It hadn’t been a sisterly peck, or a fond send off for an old acquaintance. It had been a lover’s kiss. It had been surprising and unexpected, but not unpleasant. In fact, he’d found it very pleasant indeed, and that surprised him most of all. Of all the eligible females on earth, Delphine St. James was the last woman he’d have chosen for what might well be his last kiss. He’d thought that honor would belong to another woman. The familiar ache of losing her filled him. He ran a hand through his hair, but it was the faint ghost of Delphine’s perfume, not Julia’s, that rose around him. What had Julia’s perfume been? He couldn’t remember. Odd—he hadn’t thought of Julia Leighton for hours, and it was the first time in weeks that she hadn’t filled his mind every waking minute of the day. He tried to picture her as he’d last seen her, at another ball, months ago, in Vienna. He’d lost her to a man far less worthy of her in Stephen’s opinion than he himself would have been. He loathed balls.





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Sunday, August 31, 2014

REVIEW, GIVEAWAY, & EXCERPT: Highland Burn by Victoria Zak

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BOOK INFORMATION

TITLE – Highland Burn SERIES – Book one Guardians of Scotland AUTHOR – Victoria Zak GENRE – Scottish medieval paranormal romance (shifters) PUBLICATION DATE – July 22 2014 LENGTH (Pages/# Words) - 186 PUBLISHER – Victoria Zak COVER ARTIST – Z creations

Highland Burn - Book Cover
 

BOOK SYNOPSIS

Will Love’s Flame Quench the Dragon’s Fire? …


The past never stays in the past, it rears its ugly head eventually. James the Black Douglas knows this all too well. With a past that has left him vengeful and his dragon blood thirsty, his reputation as a ruthless warrior haunts his enemies in their sleep. As his allegiance stands with Robert Bruce, the King of Scotland, he must now repay a debt to the king and agrees to marry his daughter, Abigale Bruce. The problem is he doesn’t want a wife. When flames start to burn out of control between him and the auburn-haired lass, he must decide to either kindle the flames of passion or shelter her from the truth and set her free.


It’s What Shines in the Dark That Brings Forth Your True Light…


Determined to keep his daughter safe and out of the hands of the English, Robert hides Abigale behind the safe walls of a nunnery. After eight long years of living her life in seclusion, Abigale is finally set free. But her new found freedom comes to an abrupt halt when she learns of her betrothal to the infamous Bogeyman – James the Black Douglas. She soon finds herself falling in love with the uncontainable and haunted man. Is her love enough to soften his hardened heart?


MY REVIEW


I really enjoyed Highland Burn (Guardians of Scotland Series) by Victoria Zak. When I started the book I was a little shocked by how the prologue went. It definitely put sex right in your face, and fast! I was thinking I was about to read a porn! Haha! It definitely didn’t turn out like that though, and it had just the right amount of romance and steamy sex scenes! James Douglas is the ultimate sexy rogue. You want to be the woman who tames him and makes him your man. Abigale is a great heroine, because she is sweet and has an innocence about her that draws you to her character. You want James to protect her and to love her forever. When the two of them are in the same area, there is definitely a ton of sexual tension. They are obviously made for one another.

I’m more of a historical fiction fan than a historical fantasy fan, however this book had enough history added to it to keep my attention. The whole idea of dragons existing is not something I typically like to read about, but I have always liked reading about Scotland’s history and about Robert Bruce and James Douglas. Some of the book was a little strange to me, but overall I really enjoyed reading it, and I would definitely recommend it.

I give Highland Burn a FOUR out of FIVE stars!


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HB-Teaser-AbigaleFergus

EXCERPT

Chapter one

“Fergus, the water is verra refreshing. Why don’t ye join me?” The white stallion inhaled deeply then snorted, as he ate from a patch of lush green grass. “Well, ye dinnae have to be rude about it.” Long white hair with streaks of gray fell over his muscled neck as the fine steed shook his head and stomped his hoof. He pulled on a blade of grass, indicating that he was perfectly content grazing near the loch’s edge. A slight giggle escaped her mouth as she splashed at her horse. Abigale Bruce had ridden hard and fast through the glen most of the morn. Since her father’s recent successful victory over the English at the battle of Bannockburn, Abigale had been freed from the nunnery. Her excitement of finally being able to explore her new-found freedom was too much to hold back as she charged through the forest. Now she rewarded Fergus with a patch of grass while she cooled off in the loch. Oh how she cherished these moments; they were few and far between. Eight long years at Dunfermline Abbey wasn’t the ideal place to grow up, but she had no choice in the matter. Her father, Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, had placed her there in order to keep her safe from his enemy, the English. Throughout her time at the Abbey, King Edward, the King of England, had gotten close to capturing her a few times, but the small secretive community of nuns had held true to their oath and kept her hidden well. Unhappy about the newly crowned King of Scotland, the English had captured Abigale’s step-mother, half-sister, and her two aunts, and had also beheaded three of her uncles. Humiliated, held prisoner behind iron bars of a bird cage, and hung from the Tower of London had been the women’s fate. Even though her freedom was taken away, Abigale knew it was nothing compared to what they had endured. Abigale’s trouble had started as soon as she walked through the gates of the abbey. Robert Bruce had given Dunfermline Abbey a generous contribution to repair part of the church that had been attacked by King Edward. In return he requested that Abbot Benard take his daughter in and protect her. With such a gracious amount of coin given, the Abbot could not refuse. Therefore Abigale, at the wee age of ten, had been left at the abbey and placed in the cruel hands of Abbess Margaret. Since Abbess Margaret was in charge of twelve nuns, she declared she had not the time to look after the wee brat, so she left Sister Kate in charge of Abigale. Abbess Margaret was a beautiful middle-aged woman with short, raven hair, and possessed the ability to inflict the cruelest of punishments. She watched and waited for Abigale to slip up so she could take pleasure in punishing her. Abigale knew why the woman hated her; she was jealous and thought it unfair that she had special treatment just because she was the king’s daughter. Abigale was afforded a few exceptions to the rules. Because of her lack of interest in taking the vow to become a nun, she didn’t have to cut her hair like the other sisters. Furthermore, she could marry, and own property. Although there was one rule that had to be followed; she had to be obedient. And Abbess Margaret took great pride in punishing a disobedient Abigale. Sending Abigale on a daily pee pot cleaning always seemed to make the corners of her thin lips twitch. “Ye’re no princess, a bastart child who her own father has abandoned." After a few missed visits from her father and daily tongue lashings from Abbess Margaret, Abigale started to feel pushed aside and abandoned, yet her spirit held firm. Sister Kate had kept a watchful eye on Abigale, keeping her work-load full so she would stay out of trouble, but trouble seemed to follow her wherever she went as if she was born into it. Abbey life wasn’t the life for her. She grew to hate the prayer bells, for they rang eight times during the day starting at the wee hours of night. The blasted bell would ring either when she was sound asleep or assisting a monk in surgery. More times than not she was late to prayer and being tardy was frowned upon. The consequences were harsh, in fact they were harsher than falling asleep during worship. Abigale knew this all too well; she had fallen asleep in a choir stall one night. Sister Kate had been the circator that night, pacing up and down the aisle as she shined her bright cresset lamp into the stalls checking if anyone had fallen asleep. A sharp point with a stick to her ribcage had woken Abigale up quickly. Of course she got a rap on the legs for that one. Thank God it was Sister Kate, for she showed her mercy. Now that she was home, her father was more than ever adamant about keeping his family safe. He vowed to never allow another Bruce woman to be captured by the filthy Sassenach. Just as Abigale thought she’d regained her freedom, here she was once again with it ripped away from her by an arranged marriage to her father’s first in command. Who better to protect her than the Bogeyman himself? Trepidation crept over her, sending a shiver through her body as she thought about the man her father had arranged for her betrothal. “The Black Douglas,” she thought. A man with a reputation that would make the Devil himself shudder with fear. A ruthless warrior who had fought in many battles with her father. The English feared him terribly, making up nursery rhymes warning their wee bairns to “hush before the Black Douglas will get ye”. She’d never met the man before, but the deal was done. Her father had arranged the marriage and Abigale was to abide by his orders. Abigale turned to Fergus who was chewing on a blade of grass. “At least ye don’t have to marry the Bogeyman.” She shuddered. Saying it out loud made it all too real. For a moment she wondered just what the Black Douglas would look like. Could her father be so cruel as to wed her to an evil, battle-worn old man? Nay, who could possibly be scared of an old man? Then again, a warrior’s reputation lived on even after death. Or mayhap he really was a monster of some sort, a mythical creature of the night that lurked under your bed waiting to nip at your heels. Abigale was letting her imagination get the best of her. Shaking those thoughts from her head she dipped down into the coolness of the loch, washing away every bit of worry. Today was her day and she was going to enjoy the peace that the loch gave her before it was taken away from her. Coming back up she lay her body out flat to float on top of the water’s surface. Her light linen shift clung to her petite body, long dark auburn hair spread out and floated with the ripples of the water. Closing her eyes, she opened her arms out wide allowing her fears to fall from her body and sink to the bottom of the loch. A snapping of twigs alerted Abigale that she wasn’t alone. Quickly she dipped her body down into the water to hide from what was lurking in the woods. Panic pricked up her spine as she searched the glen’s wooded edge for some kind of movement. Nothing… no movement at all. It must be a small animal frolicking through the thicket. Another snap. This time it sounded too close and too loud to be a small animal. Abigale turned and faced Fergus. Ears pointing in the direction of the snapping sound, Fergus let out a gut deep neigh. “Ye heard that too?” she whispered, trying not to draw attention to herself. Abigale slowly moved toward the water’s edge, not making a sound. The last thing she needed was to be attacked by a wild animal or worst yet… a rogue Highlander. Dripping wet and cold, Abigale stepped out of the water and headed straight for the huge boulder covered in green moss where her dress and her dirk lay. If instincts had taught her anything, it was to never let your guard down and never leave home without your dirk. A third snap sounded like it came from behind her and way too close. Taking a steady breath, she grabbed her dirk and spun around to meet her attacker face to face. Lunging the blade forward she pointed it at his throat, the tip inches away from piercing it. “Och lass, I will no hurt ye.” A massive six-foot-four man with vibrant amber eyes stood before her with his hands up in surrender. Abigale arched a dark brow over deep blue eyes. “How do I know I can trust ye?” “I have no weapons on me… frisk me if ye dinnae believe me.” With a sly grin he turned around with his arms in the air inviting her eyes to gaze upon every inch of his muscular body. Abigale took him up on his offer, for she could not will her eyes off him if she tried. Following his every move, her body became alive. Her hands began to itch as she thought about running them down the corded muscles that lined his abdomen. Hulking arms shimmered in the sunrays as if they had been kissed by the sun and she wondered how his arms would feel wrapped around her body. As he turned around, long black hair hung over his big broad shoulders and stopped at his shoulder blades. His lower back tapered in to a firm backside which was covered in a black and gray plaid. Funny… she had a sudden urge to squeeze his buttocks. God could not have forged a more perfect man, she thought. Being ten-and-eight, innocent, and sheltered behind the walls of the nunnery, she hadn’t had much of a chance to explore the ways of men. In fact if she wasn’t praying, she was in the infirmary mending men severely wounded from battle, or ill. Sister Kate’s nagging voice reminded her that “Ye only have room for one man in yer heart and He would never steer ye wrong.” Only if Sister Kate could see this man standing before her now, even she would blush. “Ye should no be sneaking up on me like that.” Abigale lowered the dirk, but still kept her grip tight. The alluring man crossed his massive arms in front of his bare chest. “I was taking a rest while out riding when I saw ye over here. Ye know a bonny young lass like yerself should no be oot alone without an escort.” “I can take care of myself just fine.” “Aye, I can see that.” He rubbed his throat. She stood shivering from the cold or mayhap from the intensity of his gaze; she needed to retrieve her clothes before she caught her death. Then she remembered that she was wearing a thin shift. Surely he could see right through to her naked body? Quickly with her free hand she tried to cover her breasts and still have some dignity. “Would ye kindly turn around now so I can dress?" She motioned with the dirk for him to turn around. He turned, giving her privacy to dress. “That’s a fine horse ye have there,” he said over his shoulder. Abigale finished dressing and began to smooth the wrinkles out from her dress with her hands. “That’s Fergus, he’s a gift from my da. A true warhorse." Of the few times her father had come to visit her at the abbey, and there were only a few, she remembered the day when he had brought Fergus to her as a gift. A gift perhaps but more like a peace offering for being absent for over a year. Abigale forgave her father, and the white charger quickly became more than a horse, he was a friend. “Ye may turn around now.” As Abigale glanced up, her heart skipped a beat as amber eyes pierced her, sending a rush of heat through her body. She licked her lips and struggled to swallow past a dry throat. How could this man, who she had never met before, make her hunger for something that she had not yet had? Feeling uneasy, she broke their stare and quickly searched for her shoes. “Are ye a Highlander?” What kind of a question was that? Of course he was a Highlander… that was a plaid he wore. Way to go, Abigale Bruce, he must think I’m a real dunderhead. “Why do ye ask?” “That is a plaid ye wear? “Abigale leaned against the boulder and bent down to slip her shoes on.” “Aye.” “Then ye must be a Highlander.” Indeed the ways of Highlanders were much different from the English-influenced ways of lowland men like her father. Still both parties had fought for Scotland until the crown and riches were in their grasp. Some would say that greed was the root of all evil. Abigale thought differently. The crown was the root of all evil. Men fought for it, killed for it, and sold their souls for a taste of the crown and the power it held. The crown grew evil in men and she knew that all too well because it was her father's own greed for the crown that left her abandoned at the abbey. The unsettled nature of Scotland had left Abigale hardened. She’d seen firsthand the aftermath of battles fought; mended wounds, prayed over dead bodies, and even buried the dead. The nunnery where she grew up would set up tents to aid those wounded in battle. Abigale would assist in surgery and her passion grew for healing the sick and mending wounds. Life was to be valued, not destroyed. In a way she blamed Lady Scotland for her misfortunes. Her father’s growing need to fight for Scotland had caused her to stay hidden, conceal her true identity, and grow up without a family. Her whole family had been affected by the battles fought for Scotland and the greed of claiming the crown. Though it was true she had long forgiven the Lady; she could not forget. The Highlander seemed far away in thought, because he took a while to answer. “Some would say I’m a Highlander.” He approached Abigale. "May I?” The beautiful stranger reached for a piece of hair that was stuck to her face and tucked it behind her ear. He brushed a callused finger down her cheek to her slender neck leaving a fiery path trailing behind. He held her stare and captivated her to the point that she could not form a coherent thought. Her body was no longer hers to control, her heart dropped, and desire pooled in her core setting her body on fire. This Highlander was so close to her she could feel his breath on her skin, she could smell his masculine scent and soon she wanted to taste his lips. The mysterious man lowered his head, cupped his hand behind her neck, and pulled her close to him to claim her lips. Abigale drew in a deep breath in anticipation when suddenly a nudge from behind broke her trance. She turned to find Fergus. “Fergus!” she scolded. “What’s gotten into ye?" Another nudge by a wet gray muzzle almost sent Abigale to the ground until strong arms caught her around the waist. “I got ye lass,” he whispered in her ear. For some odd reason the deep rich tone of his voice soothed her. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and leaned back against the warmth of his body. Wait… what was she doing? Abigale Bruce, you are to be married. Quickly she slipped away from his hold and began to gather up the leather reins. “I should be getting back.” Observing the stallion’s actions, it was clear to Abigale that Fergus did not approve of the stranger. Jumping up on the back of Fergus, she turned to face the Highlander. The man rubbed the back of his neck as if he was thanking the white horse for saving his arse from making a huge mistake. She dared one last look at him before she rode off into the glen back to her father’s castle where she would prepare for travel to Castle Douglas and marry the Bogeyman. Her eyes roamed his massive body sketching everything about him to memory; his striking amber eyes, strong masculine jaw line, and the way his eyes strayed over her body. She did not want to forget this man. If only she did not have to go. Mayhap she could run away with this beautiful man and avoid being married to a monster. Deep down, she was drawn to this mysteriously intriguing, charming and pure male Highlander. He made her think that for once she could be in control of her life and make her own decisions. In a way she envied his freedom. It did not seem fair that she had to marry a man who her father wanted her to marry. Shouldnae one marry for love? But then again, he was a stranger… a mystery. Before she ran away with fantasies she knew better than to think of, she squeezed her legs, sending Fergus into a run. She had to marry the Bogeyman.
HB-Teaser-CoupleLaying(1)



AUTHOR BIO

Highland Burn - Author PhotoVictoria Zak lives in the sunshine state with her husband, two beautiful children, and three furry friends. Before having kids, Victoria spent fifteen years in the veterinary business and volunteered in pet rescue.

“One of my most rewarding jobs was finding unwanted animals their forever homes.” A writing career was the last item listed on her bucket list, until she discovered that she wanted to put her stories on paper and breathe life into her characters. Her love for Scotland, curiosity of history, and passion for romance has inspired her to write her first book, Highland Burn.

“Fourteenth century Scotland was a fascinating time in history. Not only was Scotland fighting for their freedom from the English king, their own people fought each other; clan vs clan. Though being a woman of the twenty-first century, I wouldn’t want to live in those unsettled times. But writing historical fiction paranormal romance allows me to escape into their world and breathe a fresh air of romance and magic into that era, which I love to do.”

Victoria loves to hear from her readers. You can connect with her through FB, Twitter, G+, and her website


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Friday, August 29, 2014

REVIEW: The Golden Widows by Isolde Martyn

BLURB

Two young women on opposing sides find their lives wrecked by battle...can they be restored by love?

As sister to Warwick the Kingmaker and cousin to the new young
King Edward IV, Kate Neville finds herself on the winning side of the latest bloody battle of the War of the Roses — and under pressure to marry again. Kate’s family want to ensure her new husband will be someone they control, such as the king’s handsome chamberlain, Lord William Hastings, but Kate is refusing. Hastings has a reputation as a womaniser and she wants a man who won’t betray her like her first husband did. But the debonair Hastings is determined to win her heart. Can she thwart her brother’s plans for her?

Elysabeth Woodville is a beautiful young woman, much adored by her husband, Sir John Grey. But when he is killed in battle on the losing side and named as a traitor, his estate is seized by the Yorkists and Elysabeth finds herself penniless and friendless. In her desperate struggle to restore her sons’ inheritance, she finds herself not only kneeling before her enemy but winning his heart. Is she is too proud to become his mistress? Or does the King of England love her enough to ignore his friends’ advice and make her his queen?

In the precarious peace of a bloody civil war, can love heal wounds and reunite families?



MY REVIEW

The Golden Widows by Isolde Martyn was a fantastic piece of historical fiction. Once I started I found it impossible to put down! I love historical fiction that gives me a new perspective on the lives of people I have read about previously. This novel let me look at what Elysabeth Woodville’s life might have been like BEFORE she met King Edward IV. All of the other novels that I have read that she has been a part of have been about her life when she first met the king or after she met him. They include the romantic way they met and married, and then the books are about her life as a queen, and about her children. It was interesting to read about what her life might have been like with her first husband, Sir John Grey. I had always wondered what her life was like before becoming queen, and I thought it was interesting to see Ms. Martyn’s idea of what her first marriage and life were like. It was also interesting to see what the great Earl of Warwick’s sister’s life was like. I had never read about Kate Neville before this book, but she definitely had an interesting life. Most novels focus on her brother, The Kingmakers life, so it was refreshing to see what another member of his family was doing at the time he was making kings and causing problems between King Edward and his brothers!

I am so glad that I came across this novel on Netgalley, and that they accepted my request to read and review it. I will definitely be looking forward to other novels by Isolde Martyn!


I give this novel a FIVE out of FIVE stars!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Isolde is a lady with an absolute passion for history and writing historical fiction is a wonderful way to share her enthusiasm.

Winning both a RITA-award (the romance equivalant of an Oscar) in the USA plus the mainstream 'Romantic Novel of the Year Award' in Australia for her debut novel The Maiden and the Unicorn was a tremendous thrill after years when 'Life' just got in the way of writing! Being married to a geologist, whose job took him away into the field a great deal, meant that for many years bringing up their two children always came first for her.

Isolde grew up in London and has a History Honours degree from the University of Exeter, UK, with a specialisation in Yorkist England, a lifelong passion. Falling into conversation with a post-graduate at a bus stop in Dorset, she somehow found herself moving to Perth, Western Australia, half a year later. She has since warned young women waiting at that particular bus stop that casual conversations can lead to a change of continents.

Since arriving in Australia, she has worked as a university history tutor, research assistant and archivist. Her other career has been editing and she was a Senior Book Editor with a major international publishing house before writing fiction full-time. She now divides her time between Sydney and the UK, and one of her delights is in being Vice-Chair of the Plantagent Society of Australia, which she co-founded with five other enthusiasts twelve years ago. And, by the way, Bus Stop Day is still an annual celebration!



Thursday, August 28, 2014

SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY, & EXCERPT: The Lady Quill Chronicles by D.D. Chant

Lady Quill Chronicles - Tour Banner
 

BOOK INFORMATION

TITLE – The Promise (book #1) The Vow (book #2) SERIES – The Lady Quill Chronicles AUTHOR – D.D. Chant GENRE – Historical Fiction/romance/adventure/mystery PUBLICATION DATE – 3rd March 2012 / 28th July 2014 LENGTH (Pages/# Words) – 95.620 words / 108.290 words PUBLISHER – Self-Publish COVER ARTIST – D.D. Chant

BOOK SYNOPSIS (The Promise & The Vow)

The Promise Cover

Dear Reader,

I wish to tell you a tale that began with a promise destined to change the lives of many.
When only a child, Lady Adele of Berron lost her family during a dreadful battle and was betrothed to a stranger.

Lord Rafe of Valrek, only a boy himself when the battle of Calis raged, grew to be a feared warrior and trusted advisor to his King. But sadness filled his past and Adele served only to remind him of all he had lost.
However the promise that bound these two together caused great anger to some. What, Dear Reader, happened in those days of treachery and darkness? Incline your ear that I may whisper the secrets that you so desire to hear......

Lady Quill


The Vow - Book Cover
 
Dear Reader,

My next story begins with Velrek, where Lord Rafe and Lady Adele's arrival was cause for much celebration and rejoicing.
However Finan of Gournay, Rafe's foster brother and the captain of Valreks army, could not help a lingering feeling of worry.
Were Rafe and Adele truly safe from Lord Kyule's hate?

Adding to Finan's problems was the unsettling presence of Rafe's sister, Lady Esme. Used to keeping his distance from the woman of Valrek, Finan found that he could no longer escape as before.
As danger and treachery enveloped Valrek, Finan and Esme found themselves drawn together to fight the shadowy assailant that threatened the lives of those they loved.
What secrets would they unearth in their search for the enemy that taunted them?
Would they find that their stories were more closely linked than either of them ever knew?
Allow me please to answer these questions...

Lady Quill


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EXCERPT (The Promise)

Rafe watched as Adele pushed a wisp of hair back from her cheek and tucked it behind her ear. She was unaware of his eyes upon her, all her attention was on the robin that hopped about on the frozen earth, pecking at the crumbs she had scattered for it. She must be tired, she had to be. Eda was even now asleep, curled up in the shelter of a fallen log. It was Eda who had begged for rest, for food, but never once had Adele demanded anything, no word of complaint had passed her lips. Still he was uneasy. Adele and Eda had talk in a desultory manner, but there had been silence between himself and her for too long. At first he had not noticed, his head was too full of plans and worries for him to spare a thought for conversation. But for a long while he had been conscious of the deafening silence between them and had been made uncomfortable by it. That was strange in itself because he had been used to long marches from an early age and had never found the quiet awkward before. Certainly he had never voluntarily conversed with any lady not related to him. He was surprised to find that the hush had become oppressive and longed for her to say something, however inconsequential, to show him that she was not upset by his having ignored her for so long. Maybe he should talk to her, but he could think of nothing to say. The robin, encouraged by Adele’s stillness and enticed by the crumbs, bravely moved a little nearer. Adele smiled breaking another piece of rye bread and crumbling it between her fingers before dropping them to the floor. The robin fluttered away nervously and Adele laughed. “’Tis only crumbs, you silly thing.” The robin cocked its head to one side, regarding her speculatively from one beady eye before hopping a little nearer. He was so close that Rafe could see with incredible clarity the overlapping feathers on his bright red chest and he realised that he had never really looked at a robin before, not really looked. “He’s a handsome fellow, isn’t he?” Rafe was startled to hear Adele’s warm and friendly voice. He looked up to find her regarding him from wide, clear eyes. “Welcome back to the land of the living, you were gone a long time you know.” She was still smiling, there was no reproach in her words. “I was thinking,” answered Rafe apologetically. “Forgive me, I have not been very good company for you.” “You are worried,” shrugged Adele. “I only hope that you have found some solution to the problem that vexes you so. It is not pleasant to be always troubled.” She scattered a few more crumbs for the waiting robin. “You know, this little fellow reminds me of a passage in the Bible.” Adele smiled again. “When Jesus was teaching upon the Mount of Olives and he said to take a lesson from the lilies of the field because they neither toil nor spin but even Solomon in all his glory was not comparable to one of them.” Her serene eyes drifted up to meet his gaze. “’Tis true; for I have never yet seen a fabric that could equal this little robin redbreast.” Rafe stared hard into her softly unfocused eyes for some moments. “You are a very unusual girl.” The words slipped from his mouth before he could check them. Adele’s eyes met his and, for the first time in the short while he had known her, he saw that they were clouded with uncertainty. It had been meant as a compliment, in his own mind it had been a praising description, although it was true that he never meant to speak the words out loud. It seemed that although she might well be unusual, she did have one thing in common with the rest of her sex. That was the belief that in a woman, unusual was not an epithet to aspire to. She had taken the comment to be little better than a slight and was embarrassed, he could tell. It was with some surprise that he discovered that he would have given a great deal to unsay those words, or to come into possession of others that would assure her of his meaning. But he had none. He knew not how to converse with women, although there were many who would have refuted that statement. Rafe was held as a favourite with ladies, they thought him charming, attentively courteous and yet still retaining that elusive air of reckless danger. Rafe had never been easy in their company, it had rendered him silent. Strangely enough this silence had the effect of inspiring admiration in female hearts and these ladies believed that his lack of words had betrayed a great depth of emotion and sympathy. Gradually he had learnt to suffer the discomfort he felt in their presence stoically. He had never found their conversation particularly interesting, but then again he had not found it to be fraught with as many difficulties as conversation with Adele so often was. Indeed these ladies would have said, had they been asked, that it was possible to converse with Lord Rafe in complete openness. Rafe was innately polite and had always listened to their prattle in well concealed boredom, leaving them with the impression that he was a wonderfully sensitive man, with whom a lady could always enjoy a deep and meaningful conversation in which the souls of the principals had been poured out with unrestrained and frank honesty. The fact that Lord Rafe rarely said a word, but listened in silence while the Lady in question divested herself of her opinions on every subject under the sun, completely escaped them. This left said Lady with the impression that Rafe were something of a fountain of wisdom. Thankfully there had never been the need to say very much, for it had often been his reflection that ladies were quite capable of holding a conversation without the participation of a second party. In fact they seemed vaguely put out when one interrupted them half way through their monologue. It was different with Adele, she required active participation. To her conversation was to learn about others, not discussing, at length and in great detail, her own feelings and needs. He should have found the change refreshing, and in a way he did, but he found it alarming too. Adele would have been greatly surprised to know that he had any interest in her at all and her opinion of this last remark was not well defined. She was conscious of a sinking feeling of disappointment, tangled up with hurt and embarrassment. It had never occurred to Adele that she might be different to other girls, for she had thought that the whole point of her training at the fort was that she might conform to the idea of a proper wife. It came as something of a shock to find that this was not so and she knew a sudden and uncomfortable fear that perhaps she would not please Lord Rafe, that he too would be disappointed. “Are you thirsty, Lady Adele?” Rafe didn’t know what she was thinking, but he misliked the look of perturbed concentration on her face. She looked up at him, not having heard what he had said but knowing that he had addressed her. Her large, troubled eyes met his and he felt as if the breath were knocked from his body, suddenly he heard himself speaking. “I did not mean that!” He registered the meaning of his words and began to stammer. “That is… ‘tis not that I didn’t mean it, ‘tis just… I just…” He broke off, unsure if his tangled explanations were making it worse. He was relieved to find that the worry had faded from her eyes and that they were filled with the beginnings of mirth. “You are funny when you become nervous.” “I’m not nervous!” Rafe looked vaguely revolted by this description. “It is only that I did not mean it like that.” Again he looked sheepish. “All I meant was, that to be different… ’tis good... that is, Lord Rafe will be pleased.” He broke off abruptly again. “You do not think Lord Rafe will mind?” asked Adele blushing. “You think he will like it, Finn?” “I… yes.” Rafe cleared his throat and stood, looking in the direction in which they had come. The conversation was becoming a little too complicated, too difficult. He even had a vague suspicion that the discussion should not have been taking place. As he looked through the trees, his eyes keen and searching, worry entered his face. Adele saw it, saw his mind change track and begin on lines wholly different to those of a few moments before. He was gone again, lost to her as a companion. Though his form was still there standing across from her, his mind was somewhere else, somewhere along the trail that they had traversed, restless, questing, searching for answers, for something that she did not know. “Finn?” Rafe turned at the sound of her voice, it was low, gently probing and for a few seconds he said nothing as he tried to recover his wondering thoughts. She didn’t speak again, did not question him, but sat looking up, her eyes placid, waiting for him to say something. He had the feeling that she was not requesting confidences, but merely seeking reassurance, the comfort of companionship with another person. “You look tired.” “So do you,” she replied. “In truth I think you must be more weary than I, for ‘tis you who must bear the responsibility of our journey.” She stole a look up at him from beneath lowered lashes. “And I think you are plagued by much worry, more even than befits the gravity of our situation.” Rafe was taken back, few were the people who could read his thoughts with such a degree of perspicacity, and rare was the person who could hold their curiosity in check, questioning not from whence these other worries came. For some reason her understanding unsettled him. “We have yet much ground to cover before we make camp tonight, it is best that we move along now.”
Facebook.LQC.

EXCERPT (The Vow)

The night was black as pitch, so dark that Finan could not make out anything in the room. He sat upright, wondering what could have woken him. He was by no means a light sleeper and during the evening’s festivities had indulged liberally in mead. It had not been enough to inebriate, but enough to relax him and give him an altogether more cheerful view of the world. So why was he sleepless now? Grinding a fist against his eye, it suddenly occurred to him that the room was too dark. The fire had gone out, leaving the air to take on the chill of the night. He shivered and grumbled irritably under his breath. He had managed to remove his tunic before falling in to bed, now with the woollen blanket and the furs covering the bed pooled at his waist, his skin was covered with gooseflesh. Vaguely he wondered if he could be bothered to relight the dead fire, or if it would be simpler to find another blanket. He was almost certain there was a spare at the foot of his bed. Yawning he flung back the covers, but his sleepiness made him clumsy and he cracked his knee against the table to one side of the bed. With an angry oath he lurched to rest against the wall, soothing his bruised appendage. He stood there for some considerable time, cursing with a fluency that would have alarmed Lady Ebba, if only she had heard him. He found a great many things to curse: the table, himself and whatever fool had thought to put the table there in the first place. Finally he straightened and sighed heavily. The flavour of smoke hung on the air and Finan frowned glancing to where his fire should have been burning merrily. There was enough of the scent of smoke to burn the back of his throat, yet no source for its abundance. The mists of sleep cleared sharply from his brain, replaced by an uncomfortable sensation that something somewhere was amiss. It was a feeling that he had learnt long ago not to ignore, a cold certainty that clawed in his stomach giving him no peace. Opening the door he stepped out into the hall beyond. The main house and great hall was used only during the day. One of the smaller secondary halls housed the bedchambers. It was a square structure with an apex roof, built with a secondary wall within a first and partitioned into private rooms. Finan had been given the first chamber on the left, as his duties called for him to be readily available for his men. The stench of smoke was stronger in the hall but the large fire toward the end of the room was nothing more than a few glowing embers. After a few moments investigation, Finan found the source of the smoke; it seeped under the door of Rafe’s bedchamber. Panic welled within him and he threw back the bedroom door. Smoke billowed out, causing him to recoil, with a shout for help he plunged into the room, almost blind with tears as the smoke laden air assaulted his eyes. He fought his way forward to the bottom of Rafe’s bed. He could just make out his friend’s form, unnaturally still beneath the covers, a twisted woollen blanket spreading flames over the furs. “Rafe!” Finan’s hoarse voice had no affect on the still form and he reached to pull the burning covers free from the bed. The walls on either side were aflame preventing Finan from stepping forward, and greedy flames licked at the frame of the bed. Finan made out Rafe’s heavy, fur lined cloak carelessly thrown over a nearby chair and used it to cover Rafe’s inert body. It would at least shield him from the flames long enough for Finan to get him out of the room. He sucked in a dry lungful of hot air that scorched his throat and wiped the sweat free of his eyes. There was no way past the flames that surrounded the bed, no way to reach Rafe but through the scorching heat. With sudden determination Finan plunged forwards, pain filling his mind as he felt the touch of fire on his hands and crawling along his forearms. This couldn’t happen again, he couldn’t lose another brother! Wrapping Rafe within the cloak, he hoisted him over his shoulder and staggered towards the door. The scorching burn against his shirtless skin was agonising but Rafe’s lax body in his arms frightened him more. Dimly he was aware of shouting as the rest of the house became aware that something was wrong. As soon as he made it into the hall, eager hands lifted Rafe away from him. “Don’t put him down in here.” Adele’s voice cut through the noise, her tone calm and confident. “Get him outside, he needs clean air, Finan too.” “I must help with the fire.” A firm grip fell on his shoulder and Finan grimaced shifting away from the touch. Esme released him immediately. “You have helped enough Finan, there are sufficient people to see the fire is put out.” Looking at the men staggering to and fro with buckets of water, he saw the truth of her statement. Worry for Rafe propelled him out into the cool night air. Too many was the time he had seen someone shut too long in a smoky room die. It didn’t seem to matter whether the flames had touched them or not, they fell into a sleep that no one could rouse them from. Adele directed the men to lay Rafe down some distance from the house. She was shrouded in a plain nightgown, without a cloak to offer her protection from the night air. She looked more childlike than ever with the voluminous white folds billowing about her and her hair plaited neatly down her back. Finan swayed, his vision blurring and nausea making his stomach roll. “Finan? What is it? What is wrong?” Lady Esme’s concerned face swam before his eyes and he shook his head attempting to bring her into focus. The nausea hit harder and Finan turned and vomited on to the grass. He’d never felt so weak before, his legs as unsteady as a newborn colt. Someone slid their arm around his waist, giving him much needed support as he discharged the rest of his evening meal on to the ground. His legs gave way and he dropped to his knees, despite the cold air his skin still seemed to burn. Esme watched his laboured breathing worriedly. His hands were fisted and pressed into the ground either side of his knees and his head was bent forward, eyes tightly closed. She could see the pain in the lines of his face and red burns stood out patchily against pale skin. Reaching forward she drew his head to rest against her shoulder, surprised that he didn’t pull away, but sagged tiredly against her. The new position gave a better view of his arms and hands. The blood drained from her face and she winced. Large blisters and red open wounds covered his skin from hand to elbow. Finan would bear a constant reminder of this night for the rest of his life. “Rafe?” Finan’s voice, rough and husky made her jump and she looked where Adele held Rafe’s limp form in her arms. Tears blinded her, closing her throat so she could hardly breathe. It didn’t seem possible that her energetic, vibrant brother could be lying so still and silent. Was it just a few hours ago that he had stood before them all with the tale of his adventures? Her gaze shifted to where her father clasped her sobbing mother tightly, a grey expression of horror drawing his features tight. Aisly stood to one side, immaculately elegant as ever, her long chestnut locks hanging around her slender frame, making her appear as some ethereal pagan goddess. There were tears standing in her eyes but Esme knew that Aisly would not let them fall. She clenched her hands into fists and stood stiff and defiant. Finan struggled upright on receiving no response and cast a worried look down into her face. Whatever he saw expressed upon her features caused him to pull away and drag himself to where Rafe lay pillowed in Adele’s embrace. Adele wasn’t crying but there was bleakness in her expression, pain in her eyes. “Is he…?” “Give him but a moment.” Adele’s soft voice was no more than a whisper and Finan felt that she was not exactly answering his question but reassuring herself. He gazed down at Rafe’s lifeless body and pale face. Bile rose in his throat as he recalled another white face and lax body laid out as if in sleep. His vision blurred between the two faces, both so dear to him. Once again it seemed as though he sat in Lord Brogan’s tent, a bloody battle field without and Evoric’s body laid within. His brother had looked so calm, so peaceful, as if he slept. Finan had felt that he had only to reach out and touch his shoulder and Evoric would rise from his slumber. He couldn’t recall how long he’d sat by his brother’s still form. It hadn’t seemed possible that Evoric was truly dead, Finan’s mind had recoiled from the idea, yet deep down he had known it to be the truth. It was why he could not bring himself to touch Evoric’s body and find it cold and lifeless. In the end he had sat beside his brother through the night, and when the soldiers came to bury him the next morning, Finan had exchanged his own dagger with Evoric’s. At least they would always have something of each other that way. “Rafe?” Finan jumped at Adele’s soft voice, she was stroking Rafe’s cheek with gentle fingers. “You must wake up now, you have to try, can you not do that for me?” Her voice trembled with the effort it took to hold back her tears, but still Rafe made no move. She bent her head to touch her lips to his brow. “I know how strong you are, your heart still beats with the might of a warrior.” Adele shifted to set a lingering kiss against Rafe’s mouth. Her next plea was so softly spoken Finan doubted anyone but he heard it. “Pease, Rafe, you cannot leave me all alone.”

YOU TUBE TRAILER & PLAYLIST

My sister is a musician and she wrote two custom pieces for both books.
The Promise [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsFh7KI6i5U]
The Vow: [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8XJp1Ezcwo]


     

AUTHOR BIO

Lady Quill Chronicles - Author PhotoHi everyone! My name is Dee Dee, I’m twenty six and I live in a beautiful part of Devon, England with my family. I have a younger sister, Amy who is a brilliant guitar player, some chickens, duck, geese, pheasants, a cat (that adopted us when we moved in!!!) and some Koi.
Broken City is actually my second novel. My first, as my Aunt so delicately put it, was crazy but in my defence I was only sixteen at the time. On the plus side I learnt a lot (or so I hope) and two years later ‘Broken City’ was finished.
I really hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them.
I love reading and have a kindle: I read almost anything with adventure and romance in it! I also like to cook and wear impractical high heels!!! And as you might have noticed I have a horrible addiction to exclamation marks!!!

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GIVEAWAY PRIZES

1 Set of the Lady Quill Chronicle Books (The Promise & The Vow) via smashwords

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