Friday, September 2, 2016

GUEST POST: One Writer's Dreams by Christy English, Author of Aphrodite's Choice

One Writer’s Dreams

By Christy English


How does a writer go from obsessing about Eleanor of Aquitaine to being possessed by the need to write about a goddess? For any of you who have read my historical fiction novels THE QUEEN’S PAWN or TO BE QUEEN, both of which have Eleanor of Aquitaine as a narrator, you know that it is not that far a leap from queen to goddess. Indeed, I think Eleanor would have enjoyed the comparison.

But as with more than one of my novels, APHRODITE’S CHOICE first came to me in a dream.

During the summer and fall of 2010, I was traveling around the Southeastern US going to book signings and literary festivals to support my first published novel, THE QUEEN’S PAWN. While I did this, I took time out to see friends and family along my route, and I stopped at my godmother’s on my way back to my home base (at the time, that was Wilmington, NC.) We got to talking about books, as we so often do, and she asked me why I had never written a paranormal novel, a genre she loved to read.

I didn’t have an answer for her, other than to say that a character with a paranormal story had never shown up on the doorstep of my mind. If one ever did, I said, I was sure to write it. Because, in my world, the book is always the boss.

That night I slept well, tucked away in her frilly guest bedroom downstairs. And as the early morning light began to creep in at the windows, I dreamed of a goddess of love, of her mortal friends, and of the man who was hunting her.

The first fifty pages of the novel came from my very involved, very detailed dream, pretty much as they appear now in APHRODITE’S CHOICE. While my Aphrodite, or Addy Stanfield as she calls herself in modern Boston in 2016, is an immortal being who came down to earth to offer an aspect of the healing of Divine Grace, she is also a woman. A woman with a perspective out of time, a woman who belongs to all times and places, and to none.

Addy loves her mortal friends, though she knows that she will very likely live long enough to watch them die. She keeps an immortal lover, the war god Ares, who comes into and out of her life on his own whims, and in his own time, often wreaking havoc as he passes through her world. And for the last eight hundred years or more, the same group of men has hunted Addy and her sisters, fellow goddesses who do the work of serving humanity, each in their own way. This group, the Brotherhood of the Light, destroy her sisters when they can, and as the novel opens, Addy discovers that they have found her yet again.


Paranormal thrillers are a lot of fun to read, but before APHRODITE’S CHOICE, I had never written one. She opened my eyes to a whole new world, as each of my characters has, as I pray each new character always will. I am very grateful for that conversation with my godmother, and her off-the-cuff question about paranormal story-telling. My life is infinitely richer for having met and worked with Addy, and I hope that, if you read her story, she enhances your life half as much as she has blessed mine.


GIVEAWAY & REVIEW: Blog Tour - Aphrodite's Choice by Christy English

02_Aphrodite's Choice

Aphrodite's Choice by Christy English

Publication Date: May 20, 2016 
eBook; ASIN: B01FZQ80F0 
 Series: The Goddess Diaries #1 Genre: Fantasy/Mythology/Paranormal/Romance


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Blurb


  Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, still walks the modern world. No longer thronged by worshipers, Aphrodite heals the bodies and souls of the men she touches, one man, one night, at a time. But not everyone thinks of her as a long-dead myth. Someone is stalking her. The men who have hunted her kind as witches for centuries have passed their hatred on to their sons. As she flees her enemies and tries to warn her sisters of the danger facing them once again, Aphrodite is followed by one of the members of the Brotherhood, a man who has been given the task of killing her, and any of her sisters who cross his path. But it does not take her long to discover that Steven Wharton is not a murderer, and his soul is one she has known before. In this paranormal romance, a goddess’s past is brought to life, from the Greek city of Corinth to the shores of the island of Cyprus, at the court of Versailles to the burning city of Persepolis. But it is not until she meets Steve that Aphrodite falls in love for the first time. As she faces an ancient enemy, Aphrodite discovers that the love she feels, not the love she gives, is the root of her soul. And that love might even be the path to her freedom...

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


My Review


I have been a fan of Christy English for several years now, and one of my favorite things about her novels is the seamless way that she is able to weave historical fact and fiction into her stories. “Aphrodite’s Choice” is more of a paranormal romance novel, and less of a historical romance/fiction novel, yet the reader is still transported to the past with Ms. English’s fantastic descriptions and well-researched historical details. As Aphrodite has been around for 9,000 years, her story covers many different periods of history, as well as fascinating places like Versailles, Corinth, Cyprus, etc.

Despite being the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite has somehow avoided truly falling in love during her many, many interactions with members of the opposite sex. That is, until she meets Steven Wharton, who is a danger to more than just her heart. Aphrodite (who goes by Addy in modern times) is faced with the daunting task of not only keeping herself safe from those who want to destroy her, but also to protect her sisters. This novel is full of drama and intrigue, and the author does a great job of creating romance and passion, without it coming across as a tacky bodice-ripper. Paranormal romance is definitely not a genre I would normally read, but I wanted to give it a chance after I discovered that Christy English was the author. There was enough of a historical aspect added to the novel to keep my interest, so in the end I was happy that I gave it a chance. I probably won’t run out and look for another book in this genre, but I enjoyed “Aphrodite’s Choice” enough to give it a FOUR out of FIVE stars!


About the Author

Ever since Christy English picked up a fake sword in stage combat class at the age of fourteen, she has lived vicariously through the sword-wielding women of her imagination. Sometimes an actor, always a storyteller, Christy works happily with Sourcebooks Casablanca to bring the knife-throwing women of her novels to life. A banker by day and a writer by night, she loves to eat chocolate, drink too many soft drinks, and walk the mountain trails of her home in western North Carolina. Please visit her at http://www.ChristyEnglish.com. You can also find Christy on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.




Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 29
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Spotlight at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, August 30
Review at Luxury Reading
Wednesday, August 31
Review & Excerpt at The Silver Dagger Scriptorium
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books
Thursday, September 1
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Review & Guest Post at Historical Fiction Obsession
Friday, September 2
Review at Just One More Chapter
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Monday, September 5
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective
Tuesday, September 6
Review at A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, September 7
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Interview at A Bookish Affair
Excerpt at Buried Under Romance
Thursday, September 8
Review at CelticLady's Reviews
Excerpt at A Literary Vacation
Friday, September 9
Review at Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne


Giveaway


To win an eBook of Aphrodite's Choice by Christy English, please enter via the Gleam form below. 5 eBooks are up for grabs!


Rules


– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on September 9th. You must be 18 or older to enter. 
– Giveaway is open 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.


  Aphrodite's Choice



04_Aphrodite's Choice_Blog Tour Banner_FINALMytho

Monday, August 29, 2016

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY - Blog Tour - Days of Sun & Glory by Anna Belfrage

02_Days of Sun and Glory

Days of Sun and Glory (The King’s Greatest Enemy #2) by Anna Belfrage

Publication Date: July 4, 2016
Matador eBook & Paperback; 418 Pages 
 Series: The King's Greatest Enemy 
Genre: Historical Fiction 


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Blurb


   Adam de Guirande has barely survived the aftermath of Roger Mortimer’s rebellion in 1321. When Mortimer manages to escape the Tower and flee to France, anyone who has ever served Mortimer becomes a potential traitor – at least in the eyes of King Edward II and his royal chancellor, Hugh Despenser. Adam must conduct a careful balancing act to keep himself and his family alive. Fortunately, he has two formidable allies: Queen Isabella and his wife, Kit. England late in 1323 is a place afflicted by fear. Now that the king’s greatest traitor, Roger Mortimer, has managed to evade royal justice, the king and his beloved Despenser see dissidents and rebels everywhere – among Mortimer’s former men, but also in the queen, Isabella of France. Their suspicions are not unfounded. Tired of being relegated to the background by the king’s grasping favourite, Isabella has decided it is time to act – to safeguard her own position, but also that of her son, Edward of Windsor. As Adam de Guirande has pledged himself to Prince Edward he is automatically drawn into the queen’s plans – whether he likes it or not. Yet again, Kit and Adam are forced to take part in a complicated game of intrigue and politics. Yet again, they risk their lives – and that of those they hold dear – as the king and Mortimer face off. Once again, England is plunged into war – and this time it will not end until either Despenser or Mortimer is dead. Days of Sun and Glory is the second in Anna Belfrage’s series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his lord, his king, and his wife.


Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


My Review


I am absolutely in love with Anna Belfrage’s novel “Days of Sun & Glory”, which is the second book in The King’s Greatest Enemy Series. It is so well-written and researched, and completely reaches out and grabs and holds the reader’s attention. I wish I had been able to read the first book in the series prior to reading this one, because it’s obvious a lot of interesting adventures happened in that one as well! Although it is the second book in the series, I was able to read it as a standalone. The author did a great job of mentioning certain instances from the first book that helped to explain what was going on as I read the second.

Kit and Adam de Guirande are perfect. Perfect for each other, perfect foils for other characters in the book, and just perfectly written by an author who obviously put a lot of time and research into creating such an interesting pair. The action is pretty much non-stop throughout this book, and while the author uses creative license, she still sticks with historical figures and details that are specific to the time period. The way Despenser, Mortimer, Queen Isabella, and King Edward II are described really rang true to me. I feel like the author captured their personalities perfectly, and honestly, the way she described them is the way I have always pictured them to be like as I read other books of this time period.

I am already looking into getting the first novel in the series, and then any that follow. I also saw that Anna Belfrage has a series about a family called the Grahams, so I hope to get the first book in that series as well! I’m the type of reader who finds an author I really like, and then reads everything by them that I can get my hands on! This is one of those authors! I definitely recommend this novel/series to fans of historical fiction. It’s packed full of adventure, intrigue, romance, and betrayal, and definitely a page turner until the very end! Definitely a FIVE out of FIVE stars from me!


About the Author


03_Annna_Belfrage 2015Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does as yet not exists, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing. These days, Anna combines an exciting day-job with a large family and her writing endeavours. When Anna fell in love with her future husband, she got Scotland as an extra, not because her husband is Scottish or has a predilection for kilts, but because his family fled Scotland due to religious persecution in the 17th century – and were related to the Stuarts. For a history buff like Anna, these little details made Future Husband all the more desirable, and sparked a permanent interest in the Scottish Covenanters, which is how Matthew Graham, protagonist of the acclaimed The Graham Saga, began to take shape. Set in 17th century Scotland and Virginia/Maryland, the series tells the story of Matthew and Alex, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him. With this heady blend of romance, adventure, high drama and historical accuracy, Anna hopes to entertain and captivate, and is more than thrilled when readers tell her just how much they love her books and her characters. Presently, Anna is hard at work with her next project, a series set in the 1320s featuring Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures and misfortunes in connection with Roger Mortimer’s rise to power. The King’s Greatest Enemy is a series where passion and drama play out against a complex political situation, where today’s traitor may be tomorrow’s hero, and the Wheel of Life never stops rolling. The first installment in the Adam and Kit story, In the Shadow of the Storm, was published in 2015. The second book, Days of Sun and Glory, will be published in July 2016. Other than on her website, www.annabelfrage.com, Anna can mostly be found on her blog, http://annabelfrage.wordpress.com – unless, of course, she is submerged in writing her next novel. You can also connect with Anna on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.



Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 29
Kick Off at Passages to the Past
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Tuesday, August 30
Review at Beth's Book Nook Blog
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Wednesday, August 31
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Spotlight at Queen of All She Reads
Thursday, September 1
Review at Lampshade Reader
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Friday, September 2
Review at Book Nerd
Monday, September 5
Review at Just One More Chapter
Tuesday, September 6
Guest Post at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Wednesday, September 7
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Guest Post at A Literary Vacation
Thursday, September 8
Interview at Books and Benches
Character Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, September 9
Review at A Holland Reads
Monday, September 12
Review at Broken Teepee
Tuesday, September 13
Review at Let Them Read Books
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Wednesday, September 14
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Thursday, September 15
Review at Seize the Words: Books in Review
Monday, September 19
Review at A Book Drunkard
Tuesday, September 20
Review at CelticLady's Reviews
Wednesday, September 21
Review at It's a Mad Mad World
Friday, September 23
Review at The True Book Addict
Spotlight at The Reading Queen
Monday, September 26
Review at Diana's Book Reviews
Tuesday, September 27
Guest Post at Passages to the Past
Thursday, September 29
Review at Bookramblings


Giveaway

To win a copy of Days of Sun & Glory by Anna Belfrage, please enter via the Gleam form below.


  Rules 

 – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on September 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
 – Giveaway is open 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. 




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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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Goodreads



Giveaway

Giving away a PDF copy of A Chaotic Courtship!

a Rafflecopter giveaway




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)




04_Richard Masefield_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL