Tuesday, August 23, 2016

BOOK TOUR & GIVEAWAY - With Excerpt & Guest Post by Bethany Swafford Author of "A Chaotic Courtship"



Title: A Chaotic Courtship
Author: Bethany Swafford
Genre: Historical Fiction

Blurb


Twenty year old Diana Forester, a country bred young woman fears that her inexperience and uncertainties has driven Mr. John Richfield away. On arriving back home from London, she learns that he is already there, ready to continue their acquaintance. If Diana thought that it was difficult in London, courting takes on a whole new aspect when Diana's younger siblings become involved. She finds herself dealing with her own feelings, her sister, her younger brother, jealous members of a house party, a jilted suitor, and a highwayman as she falls in love with the charming Mr. Richfield.



Guest Post


First of all, I’d like to say I’m honored to be a guest here today. I make no claims at being an expert of the Regency era, or a historian. I can only offer my own opinion based on what I have learned from my research.

Many Regency based novels feature daring ladies, either with a title of their own, breathtaking beauty, or the wealth to grant them entry into the highest level of society. An official coming out, with balls and soirees, vouchers to Almack’s, all with the aim of marrying well. But what about a well born woman from a more humble background?

From infancy, a girl would be trained to manage a household. Likely, due to her family’s circumstances, this practical training, along with accomplishments such of a musical or artistic nature, would come from her mother. Once she reached the age of about seventeen, a young woman ought to have been ready to move on to the next stage in her life: marriage.

Of course, meeting an eligible man could present a bit of a problem. Being raised in a small community, young lady might be required to seek such a man elsewhere. Spending a season in London would have been near impossible. She would have to rely on an invitation from family members to visit new places where she would have the opportunity to expand her circle of acquaintance.

In a time when men held all the power, a woman really only had one right: she could accept or refuse a gentleman’s offer of marriage. This would not be a simple decision for her. After all, this was a decision that would set the course for her entire future. Not to mention, how the expectations of her family and friends would be a strong motivator for her.

Still, a young lady with patience could find love, if she kept her wits about her and took advantage of every opportunity presented to her.


Book Excerpt


“I thought you’d never get here!” Sarah said, ignoring my question completely as she spun to face me. I frowned at her as I put my outside garments away. She seemed highly agitated, a state which I had seldom seen her in. “Diana, I must speak with you!”

“About what?” I asked calmly.

Sarah took up pacing, and for a moment I believed she wasn’t going to continue with whatever she wanted to say. “You must listen to me for once in your life!” she finally said, as
though I had been disagreeable.

Sinking onto our bed, I tried to hide a smile. “Then come out and tell me what has you in such a state.”
“I think Mr. Richfield is the highwayman!”

My smile faded instantly as I stared at her. How had she come up with this ridiculous idea? “You what?” I asked in astonishment.

“There, I’ve said it!” Sarah collapsed into the chair at the dressing table. “I’ve considered the matter carefully, Diana, and as your sister, I could not let you become attached to such a black-hearted criminal!”

I couldn’t help but laugh in response to that absurd notion. “Blackhearted criminal? You cannot be serious, Sarah. I have never heard anything so outlandish. Have you been reading my novels?”

“Diana, I am being completely serious! Stop laughing!”

“How can I take you seriously when everything you say is utter nonsense? Why would you possibly think Mr. Richfield, a true gentleman if I’ve ever met one, is a common criminal?”

Sarah leaned forward, her eyes wide. “Don’t you remember what Aunt Forester said at dinner yesterday?” she asked, lowering her voice for some reason. She acted like she was about to disclose some deep secret to me, and I found myself leaning closer. “About the highwayman being around the Bath area?”

Thinking back, I did in fact remember the conversation and our aunt’s comment. “Yes, of course I remember. What about it?”

“Mr. Richfield was there!”

I failed to follow her line of reasoning. “I’m sure a great many people were in Bath at the same time, Sarah. Aunt and Uncle Forester, for example, were there for two months, I believe.”

Shaking her head, Sarah groaned. “Don’t be obtuse, Diana! You have to see the connection here. Mr. Richfield was in Bath when a highwayman terrorized innocent people. And now, he’s here, where a highwayman has mysteriously appeared to threaten our peaceful home!”




Author Bio


For as long as she can remember, Bethany Swafford has loved reading books. That love of words extended to writing as she grew older and when it became more difficult to find a ‘clean’ book, she determined to write her own. Among her favorite authors is Jane Austen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Georgette Heyer. When she doesn’t have pen to paper (or fingertips to laptop keyboard), she can generally be found with a book in hand. In her spare time, Bethany reviews books for a book site called More Than A Review.


Author's Links

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Giveaway

Giving away a PDF copy of A Chaotic Courtship!

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Monday, August 15, 2016

REVIEW, GIVEAWAY, & EXCERPT - Blog Tour: Rebel of Ross by Mary Lancaster

02_Rebel of Ross

Rebel of Ross by Mary Lancaster

Publication Date: July 31, 2016
eBook & Paperback; 340 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Historical Romance/Medieval


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Scotland, 1156.

Malcolm MacHeth, one time Earl of Ross, languishes a prisoner in Roxburgh Castle while his sons raise rebellion in his name. Optimistically, the King of Scots promises the earldom of Ross to landless Norman knight, Sir William de Lanson, if he can somehow defeat the infamous MacHeths.

It wasn’t quite how William’s disgraced wife Christian dreamed of coming home. Capture by the strange and ferocious Adam MacHeth was hardly part of her plan either, although she and William quickly become pawns in his.

Adam, warrior and seer, fights for his father’s freedom and for his family’s right to claim the kingdom of the Scots. Plagued by waking dreams which threaten his sanity and his life, he’s learned to use his prophecies to further his family’s goals. But when he abducts his enemy’s lady, his dreams and his desires are suddenly more personal.

Surrounded by intrigue, ambition and betrayal, Christian must choose between loyalty and love in order to keep a fragile peace for her people and for the man she loves beyond all reason.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo


My Review


Rebel of Ross by Mary Lancaster was an interesting look into Scotland during the early 12th century. The author did an amazing job of bringing this era to life for the reader, and obviously a lot of research was done. Of course, it probably helps that she is Scottish herself!

I admired the main female character, Christian de Lanson. She is in a loveless marriage, and has a facial disfigurement, but despite this, she is strong and passionate. She is captured by Adam MacHeth, who is on a mission to free his father, who has been imprisoned since he was very young, and then to help him take back Scotland’s throne. Adam and Christian end up having an inexplicable connection between one another, and fate keeps throwing them together time and again. They are obviously on opposite sides when it comes to who they are loyal to, so they have to find out which side they stand on if they are ever to find a way to be together.

I love the time period that this novel is set in. Not only am I a huge fan of novels about Scotland’s history, but I also try to read as much about England’s King Henry II as possible. The fact that this novel includes both elements grabbed my attention right away. The author did a great job of portraying the events and individuals of this specific time period, all while staying as true to history as possible. As it was so long ago, much of the history of this time is either lost or is very one-sided.

There are a lot of characters that have pretty large parts in this book, and at times it does get a little confusing, especially at the beginning. I was a bit lost in the first chapter or so. Once the action picked up, I was hooked, and ended up really enjoying it. I would definitely recommend it for historical fiction fans who enjoy a bit of a love story! I give it a FOUR out of FIVE stars!


About the Author

03_Mary LancasterMary Lancaster's first love was historical fiction. Since then she has grown to love coffee, chocolate, red wine and black and white films - simultaneously where possible. She hates housework.

As a direct consequence of the first love, she studied history at St. Andrews University, after which she worked variously as editorial assistant, researcher and librarian. Although she has always written stories for her own entertainment, she began to make serious efforts toward publication in order to distract herself from a job she disliked. She now writes full time at her seaside home in Scotland, which she shares with her husband and three children.

Mary is the author of three historical novels:
An Endless Exile - the story of Hereward, 11th century outlaw hero
A World to Win - a Scottish governess finds love in revolutionary Hungary
A Prince to be Feared: the love story of Vlad Dracula

Mary loves to hear from readers. You can email her at Mary@MaryLancaster.com, and connect on Facebook. Find out more about Mary and her books at www.MaryLancaster.com.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 8
Review at A Book Drunkard

Tuesday, August 9
Review & Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads
Interview at Books and Benches

Wednesday, August 10
Excerpt at The Reading Queen
Guest Post at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Thursday, August 11
Review at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf
Guest Post & Excerpt at The Silver Dagger Scriptorium

Friday, August 12
Review at Let Them Read Books

Saturday, August 13
Interview at The Book Junkie Reads

Monday, August 15
Review at Impressions in Ink
Review & Excerpt at Historical Fiction Obsession

Giveaway

To enter the giveaway for a $25 Amazon Gift Card, please see the GLEAM form below.

Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 26th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Rebel of Ross

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: The Spider and the Stone: A Novel of Scotland's Black Douglas *5 Stars*


The Spider and the Stone: A Novel of Scotland's Black Douglas
Paperback and ebook editions
432 pages
Brigid's Fire Press (2014)



* * * 2015 CHAUCER AWARD FIRST-PLACE HISTORICAL FICTION CATEGORY * * *

* * * FOREWORD REVIEWS MAGAZINE BOOK-OF-THE-YEAR FINALIST * * *

* * * indieBRAG MEDALLION WINNER * * *

* * * BTS MAGAZINE READER'S CHOICE HONORABLE MENTION AWARD * * *


Blurb



She will crown a king.
He will carry a king’s heart. 
Both will pay an unthinkable price for Scotland.


As the 14th century dawns, Scotland’s survival hangs by a spider’s thread. While the clans fight among themselves for their empty throne, Edward Longshanks of England schemes to annex the northern kingdom to his growing realm.

But one Scot lad refuses to move from the brutal monarch’s path.

James Douglas is cherished by his fellow countrymen as the Good Sir James. Yet his daring raids across the border wreak such havoc that the English brand him the Black Douglas and nearly bankrupt their treasury to capture him. As a boy, James falls in love with the ravishing Isabelle MacDuff, whose clan for centuries has inaugurated Scottish kings on the hallowed Stone of Destiny. Their bliss is threatened when James befriends Robert Bruce, a bitter enemy of the MacDuffs. Forced to choose between love and clan loyalty, James and Isabelle make a fateful decision that will lead the armies to the bloody field of Bannockburn.

This is the little-known but true story of Scotland’s War of Independence and the remarkable events that followed the execution of William Wallace, whose legend was portrayed in the movie Braveheart. At last, James Douglas takes his rightful place with Wallace and Bruce in the pantheon of Scottish heroes. This thrilling epic leads us to the miraculous Stone of Destiny, the famous Spider in the Cave, the excommunicated Knights Templar, the suppressed Culdee Church, and the unprecedented Declaration of Arbroath that inspired the American Declaration of Independence four hundred years later.

The Spider and the Stone is the unforgettable saga of star-crossed love, spiritual intrigue and heroic sacrifice that saved Scotland and prepared the way for the founding of the United States.




My Review


“The Spider and the Stone: A Novel of Scotland’s Black Douglas” by Glen Craney is the best book I’ve read this summer! I have been extremely interested in Robert Brue and James Douglas for several years now, even since reading a trilogy about Robert Bruce a few years back. All of the novels that I have read about this time period have been focused on either Queen Isabella, King Edward II, Mortimer, Robert the Bruce, etc., so a book with the focus on James Douglas, Bruce’s right hand while fighting the English, was exactly what I had been wanting to read! The author, Glen Craney, does an amazing job taking the reader through Scotland during the time that Longshanks (King Edward I) and his inept son, King Edward II, were attempting to bring Scotland to its knees. The strength and fortitude that Douglas, Bruce, Randolph, and the Scottish people had during this time period was almost unbelievable. The author does note at the end that much of Douglas’ history is based on legend, but in order to inspire those legends, I’m sure the stories must have had some truth to them. The descriptions of Douglas’ methods of fighting the English are completely ingenious. The Scottish were outnumbered by thousands, yet Douglas had a deep-seated understanding of battle tactics, and the English were no match to his methods on the battle field. Not to mention the absolute respect and devotion he inspired in his men, which caused them to follow him anywhere, and never question his command. He inspired Robert the Bruce to be a good and just king, and inspired Scotland to fight for its freedom. This did not come without personal sacrifice for James Douglas, and though it is not a historical fact that he and Belle, The Duchess of Buchan, were in love. This does add an interesting romantic element to the novel, and definitely becomes a driving force for James Douglas.

I had put off reading this book for a little bit, because I was finishing my master’s degree, and there were other books on my list. Now that I know just how amazing this book is, I wish that I had read it as soon as the author sent it to me for review. So, I do apologize to the author for not getting to it sooner. Once I began reading it, I honestly had difficulty putting it down at night to go to sleep. It is the perfect novel to get wrapped up in if you are a fan of historical fiction. There is a lot out there about this period in time. Anyone who has ever watched Braveheart knows how fierce the people of Scotland were, and how hell bent they were on keeping their independence from England. “The Spider and the Stone” delves a little deeper into some of the legends and tales that were born during this period of time. Usually I am not a fan of anything that leans towards fantasy or the supernatural in historical fiction novels, but the author does it in a way that brings to attention Scottish lore and legend, but does not make that part the forefront of this novel.

I 100% recommend getting your hands on this novel. It’s a great read, and really gives you a up close look at one of the most fascinating periods of time in Scotland and England’s long history that was fraught with chaos and discord.

Definitely a FIVE out of FIVE stars from this historical fiction fan!





Editorial Reviews


"The book is an interesting, well-crafted scenario ... [Craney] has woven an interesting tale proposing that the crowning of Robert the Bruce occurred largely because of the help and sacrifice of James, Scotland's Black Douglas and the love of his life, Isabelle MacDuff." — Historical Novel Society


"The best book I've read this year." — John Graham, seneschal of the Society of Creative Anachronism


"The battle scenes are detailed and vivid, giving the reader a ringside seat at Scotland's desperate fight for freedom. ... 'Spider' will hold readers in suspense. ..." — InD'tale Magazine


About the Author


A native Hoosier, GLEN CRANEY is a screenwriter, novelist, journalist, and lawyer. He holds degrees from Hanover College, Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis, and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

As a member of the Washington, D.C. press corps, he covered national politics and the Iran-contra scandal for Congressional Quarterly magazine. His feature screenplay, Whisper the Wind, about the Navajo codetalkers of World War II, was awarded the Nicholl Fellowship prize by the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences for best new screenwriting.

His debut historical novel, The Fire and the Light, received several honors, including being named Best New Fiction by the National Indie Excellence Awards and a Finalist/Honorable Mention Winner by Foreword Reviews for its Book of the Year in Historical Fiction. In 2014, he was named a double BOTYA finalist by Foreword Reviews for The Spider and the Stone and The Yanks Are Starving. He is also a two-time recipient of the indieBRAG Medallion.








Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Richard Masefield BLOG TOUR - REVIEW of Painted Lady

Please join Richard Masefield as he tours the blogosphere for his novels The White Cross, Chalkhill Blue, Painted Lady, and Brimstone, from July 15-August 15.
02_Painted Lady


Painted Lady
Publication Date: April 30, 2014 
Red Door Publishing Ltd 
eBook & Paperback; 240 Pages 
Genre: Historical Romance

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Blurb

From her luxurious mansion in St James’s, London, Milady looks back through the years – to hear the church bells ringing in celebration of Wellington’s great victory at Waterloo, at the time when she left clacking tongues behind her in the Sussex village of Alfriston for adventure and employment in fashionable Brighton, the ‘second capital of England’. There as the seventeen-year-old Sary Snudden, with her reputation already ruined, she becomes a prostitute, the ‘Painted Lady’ of the title. Yet even Regency conventions are to prove too narrow for a girl of Sary’s flamboyant character. Caught up in a passionate affair with young David Stanville, heir to Lord Southbourne’s great estate of Hadderton, she and her lover cross the Alps on a perilous journey by coach and sled to the excitement of a popular revolution in Turin and an erotically charged idyll in the Italian lakes. But the question of how she’ll cross the greater gulf, which lies between her humble origins and the noble status David seeks for her, remains the central problem of Milady’s life. Moving from the great military encampments of Napoleonic Sussex to the pleasure grounds of nineteenth century Europe, from the practical routines of a well-run brothel, to the elegant manners of St James’s, Painted Lady spans a colourful half-century of European history. A delightful, romping adventure, the novel introduces an unforgettable new heroine to historical fiction.



My Review


The novel, Painted Lady by Richard Masefield was an interesting adventure through Regency England, as well as through different social classes. As an older women, the main character looks back on her life, and tells the story of her adventures in life and love. Her story shows what a strong and resilient woman she is, and how she paved her own road in life, and climbed the ladder in society during a time when being a prostitute was a hopeless and dreary existence. The love story within the novel is passionate and exciting, and the reader truly is hopeful that despite the huge social gap between them, they will somehow find a way to end up together. Her story takes the reader through regency London and Brighton, and then on to cross the Alps, and through Northern Italy.

I enjoyed reading this novel, but I admit that it started out a little slowly for me. I’m glad that I kept going, because I did end up really enjoying it. Also, the main character, known both as Milady (when she is older) and Sary (when she was a young prostitute), was very likeable. The fact that she is the narrator of her own story really gives the reader an inside look at her thoughts and feelings during her life. I wouldn’t say that this is one of the best historical fiction novels that you’ll ever read, but it’s enjoyable, and it will keep you entertained for sure! It’s definitely worth picking up to read!

I give Painted Lady a FOUR out of FIVE stars!





The White Cross

Publication Date: September 24, 2014
 Red Door Publishing Ltd eBook & Paperback; 496 Pages
 Genre: Historical Fiction

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 The White Cross is a whole new reading experience; a book that brings something entirely original to historical fiction. Set in the late twelfth century at the time of King Richard I’s crusade to win back Jerusalem from the Saracens, the story deals with timeless issues – with the moralities of warfare and fundamental religion, the abuse of power, the heights of martial fervour and the depths of disillusionment The writing blazes with colour (literally in the case of the printed edition, which makes groundbreaking use of colour throughout). It pulses with life, capturing the sights and sounds, the very smells of medieval life. At the novel’s heart is the relationship between Garon and Elise – the story of an arranged marriage which rapidly develops into something deeper, to challenge a young husband’s strongly held beliefs and set him on a long and painful journey to self-realisation, to break and finally restore a woman’s spirit as she battles for recognition and for justice in a brutal man’s world. And then there is the Berge dal becce; a character who is surely more than he appears? The only way to uncover all the secrets of The White Cross is to read it!



02_Chalkhill Blue

Chalkhill Blue

Publication Date: April 30, 2014 
Red Door Publishing Ltd 
eBook & Paperback; 352 Pages 
 Genre: Historical Fiction

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Chalkhill Blue is an award-winning novel of the First World War, and of so much else besides. A grand romance in the English narrative tradition, it spans more than two decades, from the Edwardian heyday through the cataclysm of the ‘war to end wars’ to the uncertain new world of the 1920s. As a study of deception and self-deception, it traces the lives of two women who have dared to flout the rules of their society, and those of the men who love them; the double strands of a remarkable love story which concludes with a heart-stopping double-twist that makes it literally unforgettable. But far more than a romance, this is also a descriptive novel of tremendous scope, transporting the reader from the parched drove-trails of Queensland to the horse-drawn congestion of Edwardian London; from the snow-capped cordilleras of the Andes to a truly astonishing underground city deep in the chalk of Artois. The timeless downland landscapes of Sussex and the little blue butterfly that haunts them are horrifyingly contrasted with the man-made desolation of their notorious counterparts across the Channel at Arras and on the Somme. Based on a true story, Chalkhill Blue is compulsory reading for anyone with a taste for the authentic and the unusual.

      

02_Brimstone

Brimstone

Publication Date: May 1, 2014 
Red Door Publishing Ltd 
eBook & Paperback; 288 Pages 
 Genre: Historical/Romance/Adventure

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Brimstone is a story of temptation, ambition and their consequences. The year is 1793. The Terror is at its height in France, Britain is at war with her old enemy once more, and along the coast of Sussex the smugglers’ trade in spirits and tobacco is flourishing. The novel’s two heroes are brothers bound by love, but separated by opposing characters which come to represent two the two faces of eighteenth century England – its brutality and its enlightenment. For the reckless Aaron Corbyn, there are adventures to be had and profits to be made from contrabanding. While his elder brother Rafe, a sobrely steadfast physician, runs the family estate of Chalkdean, Aaron builds an illegal empire as master smuggler across the Channel, at Fecamp in Normandy. Ellin Rimmer, daughter of a ‘fire and brimstone’ preacher, marries one brother to escape the loneliness of life in a parsonage, only to find herself hopelessly attracted to the other – and to be compelled through him to an impetuous decision that will have drastic consequences for all three. Sweeping from the open downland and flintstone villages of Sussex to the coast of revolutionary France, from Newgate prison and the subhuman conditions of a convict transport ship to the penal colony of New South Wales, Brimstone weighs the destructive aspects of sexual obsession against the healing power of generosity to bring its heroine an unexpected redemption.


About the Author



03_Richard MasefieldRichard Masefield comes from a family of writers – John Masefield was his cousin – and with a love of animals and the outdoors he decided at a young age that he would farm and write, if necessary both at once. It took years of hard work before Richard could realise his dream, and in fact his first published novel was written while milking a herd of Friesian cows. He still lives on his farm in Sussex with his wife Lee and together they spend as much time as possible with their large family of children and grandchildren. You can visit Richard’s website at www.richardmasefield.co.uk.


Blog Tour Schedule


Friday, July 15
Review at Back Porchervations (The White Cross)
Monday, August 14
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession (The Painted Lady)
Wednesday, July 20
Review at Back Porchervations (The Painted Lady)
Tuesday, July 26
Review at Back Porchervations (Chalk Hill Blue)
Monday, August 1
Review at Back Porchervations (Brimstone)
Wednesday, August 3
Review at Book Nerd (The White Cross)
Tuesday, August 9
Review at Book Nerd (The Painted Lady)
Wednesday, August 10
Review at Diana's Book Reviews (Brimstone)
Thursday, August 11
Review at The Silver Dagger Scriptorium (The Painted Lady)
Saturday, August 13
Review at The Silver Dagger Scriptorium (The White Cross)
Monday, August 15 Review at Broken Teepee (The White Cross)




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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

BLOG TOUR: BOOK REVIEW - The Secret Language of Stones by M.J. Rose

02_The Secret Language of Stones

The Secret Language of Stones by M.J. Rose

Publication Date: July 19, 2016
Atria Books
Hardcover & eBook; 320 Pages

Series: The Daughters of La Lune, Book Two
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy

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Blurb


As World War I rages and the Romanov dynasty reaches its sudden, brutal end, a young jewelry maker discovers love, passion, and her own healing powers in this rich and romantic ghost story, the perfect follow-up to M.J. Rose’s “brilliantly crafted” (Providence Journal) novel The Witch of Painted Sorrows.

Nestled within Paris’s historic Palais Royal is a jewelry store unlike any other. La Fantasie Russie is owned by Pavel Orloff, protégé to the famous Faberge, and is known by the city’s fashion elite as the place to find the rarest of gemstones and the most unique designs. But war has transformed Paris from a city of style and romance to a place of fear and mourning. In the summer of 1918, places where lovers used to walk, widows now wander alone.

So it is from La Fantasie Russie’s workshop that young, ambitious Opaline Duplessi now spends her time making trench watches for soldiers at the front, as well as mourning jewelry for the mothers, wives, and lovers of those who have fallen. People say that Opaline’s creations are magical. But magic is a word Opaline would rather not use. The concept is too closely associated with her mother Sandrine, who practices the dark arts passed down from their ancestor La Lune, one of sixteenth century Paris’s most famous courtesans.

But Opaline does have a rare gift even she can’t deny, a form of lithomancy that allows her to translate the energy emanating from stones. Certain gemstones, combined with a personal item, such as a lock of hair, enable her to receive messages from beyond the grave. In her mind, she is no mystic, but merely a messenger, giving voice to soldiers who died before they were able to properly express themselves to loved ones. Until one day, one of these fallen soldiers communicates a message—directly to her.

So begins a dangerous journey that will take Opaline into the darkest corners of wartime Paris and across the English Channel, where the exiled Romanov dowager empress is waiting to discover the fate of her family. Full of romance, seduction, and a love so powerful it reaches beyond the grave, The Secret Language of Stones is yet another “spellbindingly haunting” (Suspense magazine), “entrancing read that will long be savored” (Library Journal, starred review).

A spellbinding ghost story that communicates the power of love and redemption through Rose's extraordinary, magical lens.” (Alyson Richman, internationally bestselling author of The Lost Wife)

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound


My Review


The Secret Language of Stones is another hit by author M. J. Rose. I fell in love with the story of Sandrine and the gifts passed down by her ancestor La Lune in The Witch of Painted Sorrows, so it was easy for me to pick right back up with the story of Sandrine’s daughter, Opaline, in this novel. I love that M.J. Rose’s novels have major elements of magic, spiritualism, and the supernatural, yet I still feel like I'm reading a historical fiction novel. The existence of La Lune and her history is woven seamlessly into this novel, and the author shows the effects that La Lune's inherited “gifts” have on the lives of Opaline and her mother, Sandrine. I love that Ms. Rose is able to do this in a way that makes it completely believable. I usually am not a huge fan of novels that involve the supernatural, but it works perfectly with both The Witch of Painted Sorrows and The Secret Language of Stones. It also helps that the historical aspects of this (and the last) novel are so well-written. It’s obvious that it was well researched, and being that I am not overly familiar with the background of World War I, this novel really helped me to see the war from the viewpoint of someone who was right in the midst of it. Opaline’s character is definitely a favorite of mine. The relationships that she has with others, flesh and blood or other, are easy for readers to relate to. It’s easy to connect with Opaline, and to in a way share the experiences she is having while she learns how the secrets of her heritage fit into her life.

This novel takes the reader through war-torn Paris, at the height of World War I, through Opaline’s relationships with those grieving for their lost soldiers, and on to her interactions with Russian royalty. While dealing with all the upheaval around her and in her life, Opaline is also learning more about her heritage and how to use her gifts from La Lune. A lot is covered in this novel, but I never felt rushed, or that the author skimped on the story to fit everything into this novel. The transitions were smooth, and the book is written in a way that allows the reader to become lost within its pages for long periods of time. There is romance, intrigue, mystery, the supernatural, magick, and much, much more in The Secret Language of Stones, and I highly recommend that anyone who is looking for a good read purchase it immediately. This is the second novel in The Daughters of La Lune series, but it can definitely be read as a standalone. However, the first novel in the series, The Witch of Painted Sorrows, is amazing as well, so I would definitely suggest reading both books!

There is no way that I can give this novel anything less than a FIVE out of FIVE stars. It honestly includes everything that makes a book interesting and easy to read, not to mention, the cover of print edition of the book is gorgeous! Amazing job M.J. Rose, I look forward to your next novel!



About the Author

03_M.J. Rose AuthorM.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading her mother’s favorite books before she was allowed.

She is the author of more than a dozen novels, the co-president and founding board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: AuthorBuzz.com. She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut. Visit her online at MJRose.com.

Connect with M.J. Rose on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads.

Sign up for M.J. Rose’s newsletter and get information about new releases, free book downloads, contests, excerpts and more.


Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, July 12
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at The Mad Reviewer
Review at Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, July 13
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Thursday, July 14
Spotlight at Teddy Rose Book Reviews

Friday, July 15
Review at A Dream within a Dream

Monday, July 18
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, July 19
Review at First Impressions Reviews

Wednesday, July 20
Review at Laura's Interests

Thursday, July 21
Review at Read Love Blog

Friday, July 22
Review at Nerd in New York
Spotlight at I Heart Reading

Monday, July 25
Review at Broken Teepee
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, July 26
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession

Wednesday, July 27
Interview at First Impressions Reviews

Thursday, July 28
Review at Creating Herstory

Friday, July 29
Review at Beth's Book Nook Blog

Monday, August 1
Review at The Book Junkie Reads

Tuesday, August 2
Interview at The Book Junkie Reads

Wednesday, August 3
Review at Diana's Book Reviews

Thursday, August 4
Interview at Diana's Book Reviews

Friday, August 5
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Monday, August 8
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Tuesday, August 9
Review at Worth Getting in Bed For

Wednesday, August 10
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at CelticLady's Reviews

Thursday, August 11
Review at Girls Just Reading

Friday, August 12
Review at Dianne Ascroft's Blog

Monday, August 15
Review at Fangirls Ahead!

Tuesday, August 16
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Review at The True Book Addict



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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

REVIEW & GUEST POST: Book Blast with GIVEAWAY - Snow in July by Kim Iverson Headlee

Snow in July - Tour Banner

BOOK INFORMATION


TITLE – Snow in July AUTHOR – Kim Iverson Headlee GENRE – Paranormal Historical Romance PUBLICATION DATE – July 2014 LENTH (Pages/# Words) – 386 pages/94K words PUBLISHER – Pendragon Cove Press COVER DESIGNER – Natasha Brown

Snow in July - Book Cover


BOOK SYNOPSIS


Sir Robert Alain de Bellencombre has been granted what every man wants: a rich English estate in exchange for his valiant service at the Battle of Hastings. To claim this reward, the Norman knight must wed the estate's Saxon heiress. Most men would leap at such an opportunity, but for Alain, who broke his vow to his dying mother by failing to protect his youngest brother in battle, it means facing more easily broken vows. But when rumors of rampant thievery, dangerous beasts, and sorcery plaguing a neighboring estate reach his ears, nothing will make him shirk duty to king and country when people's lives stand at risk. He assumes the guise of a squire to scout the land, its problems, and its lady. Lady Kendra of Edgarburh has been granted what no woman wants: a forced marriage to an enemy who may be kith or kin to the man who murdered her beloved brother.

Compounding her anguish is her failure to awaken the miraculous healing gift bequeathed by their late mother in time to save his life. Although with his dying breath, he made her promise to seek happiness above all, Kendra vows that she shall find neither comfort nor love in the arms of a Norman… unless it snows in July.

Alain is smitten by Lady Kendra from the first moment of their meeting; Kendra feels the forbidden allure of the handsome and courtly Norman "squire." But a growing evil overshadows everyone, invoking dark forces and ensnaring Kendra in a plot to overthrow the king Alain is oath-bound to serve. Kendra and Alain face a battle unlike any other as their honor, their love, their lives, and even their very souls lie in the balance.


My Review


Snow in July by Kim Iverson Headlee was truly a wonderful historical romance to read. I love that the author endeavored to keep true to history by setting this novel during the aftermath of the Battle of Hastings, yet also add a mixture of magic and intrigue to entertain readers! This novel is the perfect addition to a summer reading list, especially for fans of cleaner historical romances that are not “bodice rippers”.

Alain and Kendra have an instant connection, but also seem to have insurmountable obstacles which they need to cross before they can finally be together and be happy. Alain is not honest with Kendra at the beginning, in fact, Kendra has no idea that Alain is her soon to be betrothed, as he is posing as a squire to check out the strange things that have been happening around his future English estate. Kendra is completely against marrying a Norman, as they invaded her country, and because of this her brother, whom she deeply loved and adored, was killed in battle. It takes a little bit for things between them to finally come together, and the main thing holding them back from seizing happiness were vows that made to loved ones which they were unable to fulfill. Alain and Kendra’s characters are written extremely well, and are very easy for readers to relate to. You can definitely feel their anguish and despair at losing a loved one, and feeling as though they are somewhat responsible for their death. It’s also easy to lose yourself in their romance as it grows.

There is a supernatural aspect to this novel, but it is not the main focus, so don’t let that turn you away. If anything, the supernatural element adds some additional interest to what would otherwise be just another well-written historical romance novel. I whole-heartedly recommend this novel for a great summer read that you can get completely lost in this summer. It definitely gets a FIVE out of FIVE stars from me!
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EXCERPT

(Hero's first impression of heroine)
A young woman was standing on the staircase’s top landing as Alain approached. No, he amended, feeling his eyes widen and his blood heat, a goddess. The suggestive clinging of her grayish-blue gown made him forget his blasphemous lapse. 
He shifted from foot to foot to mask his reaction. Her ashblonde curls, creamy complexion, and alluring curves conquered his fear of failure. As his heart thrummed its praises of her beauty, he vowed to protect this lady unto the ends of the earth. 
But he tempered his lauds with a petition for wisdom, for he needed to ascertain her heart. Experience had taught him the folly of loving a beautiful but title-hungry woman like Marie. 
Yet sorrow enveloped this lady like a shroud. The slope of her delicately boned shoulders, the tilt of her petite chin, the hooded reserve of her slate-blue eyes, the slight pout of her full lips all sang the same dirge. 
Blessed Virgin, could I be the cause of her misery? Please, let it not be so! 
He wanted nothing more than to gather her into his arms and kiss those lips until their song transformed from sorrow to joy. 
Their gazes met. Her look, a cross between appreciation and reprimand, made him remember his “station,” and he looked down.


GUEST POST


4 Fun Facts about Snow in July...

  • The medieval-inspired interior art used as character glyphs for chapter and scene headings was created by Kim Headlee’s daughter Jessica.
  • The route that the hero Alain walks between St. Mary’s Church and the tavern in Chapter 2 was adapted straight off a map of medieval Winchester, England.
  • Alain wanted to name his canine ally “Seigneur Noir” (“Black Lord”), but Noir decided that was too much of a mouthful.
  • The story adapts the legend that the wounded King Harold survived the Battle of Hastings and lived out the remainder of his days as a monk, and Snow in July also references the legendary manner in which Joseph of Arimathea (a merchant and contemporary of Jesus) established the first Christian church in Britain, as well as the legends of King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, and the Round Table.



AUTHOR BIO


Author Photo - Kim HeadleeKim Headlee lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her family, cats, goats, Great Pyrenees goat guards, and assorted wildlife. People and creatures come and go, but the cave and the 250-year-old house ruins—the latter having been occupied as recently as the mid-twentieth century—seem to be sticking around for a while yet. She has been an award-winning novelist since 1999 (Dawnflight, first edition, Sonnet Books, Simon & Schuster) and has been studying the Arthurian Legends for nigh on half a century.



Snow in July - Book Spine


AUTHOR FOLLOW LINKS


AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE (Worldwide link) – WEBSITE
BLOG – FACEBOOK – TWITTER – GOOGLE+


LATEST AUTHOR INTERVIEW (2015)




GIVEAWAY PRIZES


1 autographed copy of SNOW IN JULY (US Only) 5 copies of SNOW IN JULY e-book (International)


Click Here To Enter Kim Headlee's Awesome Giveaway

Saturday, May 14, 2016

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Blog Tour - The Rivals of Versailles (The Mistresses of Versailles #2 in Trilogy) by Sallie Christie

02_The Rivals of Versaille

The Rivals of Versailles (The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy #2) by Sally Christie

Publication Date: April 5, 2016 
Atria Books eBook & Paperback
 448 Pages 
 Genre: Historical Fiction

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And you thought sisters were a thing to fear! In this compelling follow-up to Sally Christie’s clever and absorbing debut, we meet none other than the Marquise de Pompadour, one of the greatest beauties of her generation and the first bourgeois mistress ever to grace the hallowed halls of Versailles. 

The year is 1745 and Louis XV’s bed is once again empty. Enter Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, a beautiful girl from the middle classes. As a child, a fortune teller had mapped out Jeanne’s destiny: she would become the lover of a king and the most powerful woman in the land. Eventually connections, luck, and a little scheming pave her way to Versailles and into the King’s arms. All too soon, conniving politicians and hopeful beauties seek to replace the bourgeoise interloper with a more suitable mistress. As Jeanne, now the Marquise de Pompadour, takes on her many rivals—including a lustful lady-in-waiting, a precocious 14-year-old prostitute, and even a cousin of the notorious Nesle sisters—she helps the king give himself over to a life of luxury and depravity. Around them, war rages, discontent grows, and France inches ever closer to the Revolution. Enigmatic beauty, social climber, actress, trendsetter, patron of the arts, spendthrift, whoremonger, friend, lover, foe: history books say many things about the famous Marquise de Pompadour. 

Alongside Catherine the Great of Russia and Maria Theresa of Austria, she is considered one of the three most powerful women of the 18th century, and one of the most influential royal mistresses of all time. In The Rivals of Versailles, Christie gets to the heart of Pompadour’s legendary relationship with Louis XV, France’s most “well-beloved” king. Pompadour was not only his mistress, but his confidante and influential political adviser for close to twenty years. Full of historical insight, decadence, wit and scandal, The Rivals of Versailles is about one woman’s trials and triumphs, her love for a king, and her role in shaping a nation.

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The Mistresses of Versailles Series


My Review

            "The Rivals of Versailles” by Sally Christie is just as amazing as the first book in the series, “The Sisters of Versailles.” I was pleasantly surprised at how seamlessly it picked up with the intrigue, action, and passion from the first book! Mr. Christie is truly a talented historical fiction author.

            This novel comes on the heels of the last Nesle sister to grace King Louis XV’s bed as a mistress. The first book in the series is about the king’s affinity for sisters, while “The Rivals of Versailles” starts up near the beginning of Jeanne Poisson’s (better known as Madame Pompadour) reign as the Royal Mistress. While I adored “The Sisters of Versailles”, I felt that I was better able to connect with Madam Pompadour. I think this might have been because there she was the only main character to really keep track of, rather than the four Nesle sisters. Plus, I felt like I learned a lot more about the time period in general, because Madame Pompadour was very involved in the king’s decisions for France. Ms. Christie really brought her to life through this novel. She is described as such a strong and engaging person. She had to deal with a lot of negativity as the first bourgeois mistress of King Louis XV, but eventually she hardened herself to the condescending attitudes of those around her, and she made a place for herself in history. The kind certainly did not make her life easy, and over the course of his relationship with her, he was not exactly faithful! Madame Pompadour was able to retain her position in Louis’ life for almost 20 years due to the fact that she was able to survive the intrigue of Versailles, and keep Louis dependent on her friendship and advice. She also showed her rivals that she was an enemy they did not want, and when she went up against those who tried to usurp her position in Louis’ heart, she won.

            It is obvious that Sally Christie admired Madame Pompadour, and once you finish the book, you are a true fan of hers as well. History doesn’t always paint her in the kindest light, because of her influence on the king, so it’s great to see her through a different lens. This series is absolutely fantastic, and I am so excited about the next and final novel in the series, “The Enemies of Versailles”!

Without a doubt this is a FIVE out of FIVE!



About the Author



04_Sally Christie_Author
I'm a life-long history buff - and I mean life-long. One of the first adult books I read was Antonia Fraser's masterful Mary, Queen of Scots. Wow! That book just blew my little ten year old mind: something about the way it brought the past right back to life, made it live again on the page. I date my obsession with history to that time, but I'd been writing ("writing") ever since I was able to hold a pencil. If you'd told my 12-year old self that I'd not be a writer when I grew up, I would have laughed you out of the tree house. With a few detours along the way, to work overseas in consulting and development, as well as to go to business school, I've finally come full circle to where I think I should be. I currently live in Toronto and when I'm not writing, I'm playing lots of tennis; doing random historical research (old census records are my favorite); playing Scrabble, and squirrel-watching (the room where I write has French doors leading out to a deck; I avidly follow, and feed, a scruffy gang). 

 For more information please visit Sally Christie's website. You can also find her on Goodreads and Pinterest.



Blog Tour Schedule


Sunday, May 1
Review at A Book Drunkard
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Monday, May 2
Review at Caroline Wilson Writes
Tuesday, May 3
Interview at The Maiden's Court
Wednesday, May 4
Review at To Read or Not to Read
Review at With Her Nose Stuck In A Book
Review, Guest Post, & Giveaway at History Undressed
Thursday, May 5
Review at Bookish
Friday, May 6
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective
Monday, May 9
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Guest Post at leeanna.me
Tuesday, May 10
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Wednesday, May 11
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Thursday, May 12
Review at The Lit Bitch
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Friday, May 13
Review at #redhead.with.book
Sunday, May 15
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views
Review & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession




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