Monday, December 23, 2013

REVIEW: Royal Mistress: A Novel by Anne Easter Smith


Jane Lambert, the quick-witted and alluring daughter of a silk merchant, is twenty-two and still unmarried. When Jane’s father finally finds her a match, she’s married off to the dull, older silk merchant William Shore. Marriage doesn’t stop Jane from flirtation, however, and when the king’s chamberlain, Will Hastings, comes to her husband’s shop, Will knows King Edward will find her irresistible.

Edward IV has everything: power, majestic bearing, superior military leadership, a sensual nature, and charisma. And with Jane as his mistress, he also finds true happiness. But when his hedonistic tendencies get in the way of being the strong leader England needs, his life, as well as those of Jane and Will Hastings, hangs in the balance. Jane must rely on her talents to survive as the new monarch, Richard III, bent on reforming his

brother’s licentious court, ascends the throne.

This dramatic tale has been an inspiration to poets and playwrights for five hundred years, and, as told through the unique perspective of a woman plucked from obscurity and thrust into a life of notoriety, Royal Mistress is sure to enthrall today’s historical fiction lovers as well.


"This story of a freewoman makes for a refreshing change, and Easter Smith, who specializes in the mistress subgenre, includes some rich historical text."
(The Washington Post)
"Anne Easter Smith is Queen of the 15th-century British scene, the chronicler of the endlessly fascinating and monstrously complex War of the Roses. . . . Meticulously researched and with a real sense of place and time — and pretty steamy."
(Newburyport Current)
“A very readable, intriguing look at Jane as both a mistress and an intimate participant in the royal circle.”
(Historical Novel Society)
“Anne Easter Smith creates a vivid tapestry of life in the slippery court of Edward IV and illuminates the masterful commoner mistress who survived by her instincts and charm."
(Margaret George, author of Elizabeth I)

  About the Author

A native of England, Anne Easter Smith has lived in the United States for more than forty years. She was the features editor at a newspaper in New York State and now lives in Newburyport, Massachusetts, with her husband, Scott. You can visit her website at

My Review:

Anne Easter Smith does not disappoint with “Royal Mistress: A Novel”. I have read and loved all of her books, and this one was a great read as well. I appreciate how she stays true to historical facts, but does so in an interesting and engaging way. The characters were well developed, and by the end I felt like I knew them all. Jane Shore’s character was very well written, and as a reader you really cared for her and for her welfare. I really liked that the author chose to write from several different character’s perspectives. It really helps the reader to follow the entire story of what was going on during that time period, not just what was going on with Jane during that time. I’m a huge history buff, so I really liked reading about the lives of other people, like King Richard and Will Hastings.  I also liked that the author continued Jane’s story past when King Edward IV died. Her life didn’t end at his death, and although she was his mistress, she did have a life outside of him. It was nice to read about what happened to her, and where her life lead her after he died. In fact, some of the most interesting events happened after he died, and she was no longer a royal mistress.

The author was very descriptive, and I was able to imagine what was happening clearly while reading. This is a novel that anyone interested in historical fiction would really enjoy. Her description of Jane and the people in Jane’s life are clear and creative. Anne Easter Smith is an amazing author, and those who are fans of England’s Kings and Queens should definitely pick up her books to read if they have not already done so. She is wonderful at creating a novel about a historical character, and adding just enough romance and action to make it a novel that is hard to put down!

I definitely give this novel a FIVE out of FIVE stars!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

INTERVIEW with Brandy Purdy, Author of "The Boleyn Bride"

Questions for Brandy Purdy – The Boleyn Bride – Historical Fiction Obsession

How did you become a writer? What was your journey like?

Well, I’d always been a reader, and I suppose it had always been in the back of my mind that I might become a writer someday, but it wasn’t until my mother died ten years ago that I actually started to become one. Books have always been the one constant in my life and when they fail me I know I am in serious trouble. After my mother died I kept picking up books and putting them down, I couldn’t take anything in, then I picked up a book about royal scandals, one of those books written in kind of a comic, trashy tabloid style and opened it at random and found myself reading the story of Edward II’s grand passion, Piers Gaveston. Something in that story spoke to me, and I started reading everything I could find about Gaveston, and became intrigued by all the rumors about him yet how few facts are known about him. I decided to try writing a novel, The Confession of Piers Gaveston; I wanted to write from the viewpoint of an unreliable narrator, to tell the kind of story where the reader might wonder if this person was sitting in front of them telling this story if they would believe it or not. No one in my life really believed I could do it, but it was something to occupy me and help me through my grief. I finished the book and after about a dozen or so query letters was signed to a literary agency but, as an unpublished nobody from nowhere with no college education or other degrees or experience that the agent thought would help paint a better picture of me, I was basically at the bottom of the barrel. In the meantime I moved on to another fascinating character from history, Lady Rochford, who is remembered today for accusing her husband, George Boleyn, of incest with his sister Anne, and wrote my second novel, which was then called Vengeance Is Mine. Finally I decided to gamble on myself and self-published both books, a few months later I had a new agent and Kensington had bought the rights to my second novel and changed the title to The Boleyn Wife,  and The Tudor Throne, The Queen’s Pleasure, The Queen’s Rivals, and The Boleyn Bride followed. It’s been an interesting journey, I’ve loved writing and researching the books, and the challenge of finding new and different ways to tell these oft-told stories, the only thing I regret is not having the close, personal support system many other writers are very fortunate to have. I started out gambling on myself because no one else would, and in a strictly personal sense, I still am.

Any particular thing or event draw you write to historical fiction?

Sometimes a certain person will just “speak” to me in a way that makes me feel compelled to learn more and perhaps tell their story.  I never know when that is going to happen.

How did the Tudor Era inspire you?

I’ve always been fascinated with the Tudor era ever since I was a little girl about nine or ten years old and I bought a book of ghost stories that had a chapter about Anne Boleyn’s ghost haunting the Tower of London. To be honest, I didn’t originally plan to write so many Tudor novels, I’m interested in many historical characters and eras, but I’m very glad I was able to write about some of the characters who particularly intrigued me like Lady Rochford and Amy Robsart.

What kind of research is involved in your process?

I read a great deal and take notes and I am very visual I always look at lots of pictures. I like to be surrounded by pictures when I am writing.  I see the story playing out like a movie in my mind, sometimes in whole scenes, sometimes in fragments, sometimes in full color with crisp, clear images, sometimes like an old silent movie in dire need of restoration,  and it’s my job to try to turn those pictures into words, to convey the actors emotions, and get it all down on paper, hopefully in a way that my readers will enjoy.

What inspired you to share Elizabeth Boleyn’s story?

I didn’t really want to write another novel about someone who had already been the subject of dozens of books, and while I was sitting thinking about it I realized how absent Elizabeth Boleyn was from the story of her more famous daughters. I did some research and it confirmed that very few facts about her have come down to us, and that absence intrigued me. It’s actually, in some ways, a book about absence, it’s the story of a woman who is both emotionally and physically absent from her children’s lives until they become grown up and a little more interesting to her, but, by then, it’s too late. It’s also a story about mistakes, missed opportunities, regrets, and choices made for all the wrong reasons.

Out of all your books, which character has been your favorite to bring to life?

That is a very hard question. It’s a tie between three: Piers Gaveston was in a sense my knight in shining armor, writing his story saved me and also showed me that I could be a writer; Lady Rochford was both fun and fascinating, I loved the challenge of writing from the viewpoint of a madwoman, and one that hated Anne Boleyn, who is actually one of the women in history I admire most; and Amy Robsart’s was such a sad and neglected life, she’s been largely reduced to just a name on a page, so many focus on the glamour and romance of her husband’s ambitious dalliance with Queen Elizabeth I, and even when I was a little girl just becoming immersed in the Tudor saga I thought it was so unfair that Amy’s voice was lost, and I remember thinking if I ever wrote a novel when I grew up I wanted to give her back her voice, to let her be the star of the story for once.

Are there any authors you admire or any must-read books you’d like to recommend?

Anya Seton is my favorite historical fiction author, I’ve read all her books. Green Darkness is my favorite, it was one of the first adult novels I ever read, and I loved the way it used the reincarnation theme to weave together the modern and historical stories. I still try to reread it every few years when I can, next time I get the chance I hope to review it on my blog.

If you could go back in time, what place would you visit?

Well, I have a toothache now, so I don’t think I’d like to visit anywhere without modern dentistry so that kind of limits my choices. But, that’s not a very good answer, so,  if I could be a noblewoman and have the fabulous clothes and indulge my love of jewelry, and have my hair styled by Leonard, I’d kind of like to pay a visit to 18th century France during the time of Marie Antoinette, before the Revolution, when panniered skirts were at their widest and powdered hair was at its highest,  and maybe pay a call on Count Fersen; I’d like to see for myself if he looked anything like Tyrone Power in the movie. Anyone who knows how shy I really am will know I’m joking:-)

Are you working on anything currently?

I am, something very special, but I can’t say what it is right now, only that it’s not another Tudor novel, and if all goes well I hope to have a big surprise for my readers in time for next Christmas.

Do you have any advice for aspiring historical fiction writers?

There’s really nothing I can say that hasn’t been said countless times before. Keep writing, keep submitting, believe in yourself even when no one else does, and always remember that books are like candy, not everyone likes the same kinds and flavors, and keep repeating that to yourself when the bad reviews come. I know better than anyone all that is easy to say but sometimes very hard to do. I wish you all the best of luck.

"The Boleyn Bride" is due to come out February 25th 2014! Preorder it at amazon now!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Feud by Derek Birks


It is 1459 and England stands on the brink of chaos. York and Lancaster go to war for the throne. As the Wars of the Roses begin, the rule of law breaks down and in the heart of Yorkshire an old local score is being settled.

"From the eye-catching cover to the last page, Feud is an exciting story of survival through personal upheaval during a vicious war, where the outcome is not always certain." Historical Novel Society.

Young Ned Elder, a Yorkshire knight, finds himself caught up in the civil war when his family is brutally attacked by their neighbour, Lord Radcliffe.
For the Elders, nothing will ever be the same again. With only a few loyal companions, Ned is hounded across the land by the Radcliffes. His sister Emma is forced into a loveless marriage with Radcliffe's heir whilst his younger sister, the brash Eleanor, is confined within an austere nunnery.

With their father and older brother dead, it falls to Ned and his sisters to fight back. But they are young, they make mistakes and they will need help if they are to survive, for once the Feud begins, no-one is safe...

FEUD is the compelling story of Ned Elder, his sisters and the girl he loves. They fight for survival and, whilst the civil war rages across a snow-covered battlefield, the bitter feud is played out to its bloody conclusion.

FEUD is the beginning of a story - the story of the Elder family's struggle through the Wars of the Roses - and the story continues in the next book of the Rebels & Brothers series, A Traitor's Fate, which is out on November 1 2013.

My Review:

“Feud” by Derek Birks is a great novel for lovers of historical fiction. It has the perfect mixture or action, adventure, and romance. The War of the Roses in English history has always interested me, and I’ve read several books from author's who write from the perspective of one side of the other. I like that Birks writes from the point of view of the ‘regular’ people of that era. It was interesting to read the story from the different perspectives of the nobility, servants, as well as men and women. I love historical fiction that is told from more than one viewpoint, and “Feud” does a great job at this.

Many of the historical fiction novels that I have read over the years are more geared towards a female reader, and put a lot of focus on the character’s romance. “Feud” has the element of romance in it, but I think the story line, which is packed full of action and descriptive battle scenes, will be of more interest to a male reader.  Birks has a gift when it comes to describing the battle scenes, and is able to put the reader right in the battle with the characters.

I enjoyed reading “Feud”, but at times the number of battles and general action were a little much for me, but that’s just my taste. Also, as a reader you need to have a little background knowledge of the War of the Roses, or there’s a good chance you’ll be a little lost. However, I definitely recommend this novel to historical fiction lovers, especially those who enjoy reading about the War of Roses.

I give this novel 4 out of 5 stars!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Woman of ill fame by Erika Mailman Virtual Book Tour

About Woman of Ill Fame

eBook Publication Date: November 11, 2013

Looking for a better life, Nora Simms sails from the East Coast to gold rush San Francisco with a plan for success: to strike it rich by trading on her good looks. But when a string of murders claims several of her fellow “women of ill fame,” Nora grows
uneasy with how closely linked all of the victims are to her. Even her rise to the top of her profession and a move to the fashionable part of town don’t shelter her from the danger, and she must distinguish friend from foe in a race to discover the identity of the killer.

Praise for Woman of Ill Fame

“I LOVED Woman of Ill Fame! Nora Simms is hilarious, heartbreaking, tough, perceptive…and one of the most engaging characters I’ve ever met between the pages of a book. Wonderful story, great setting and really good writing made this one of the best books I’ve read in a long time!” -Diana Gabaldon, internationally-bestselling author of the Outlander series

“The whodunit aspect makes Woman of Ill Fame a page-turner, and Mailman manages to keep the reader guessing. Yet it’s the depiction of early San Francisco that propels this thriller above its genre, in the manner of historical fiction such as Caleb Carr’s The Alienist.” -Kemble Scott, San Francisco Bay Guardian

“Mailman serves up vivid description, sparkling prose and a Gold Rush prostitute as scrappy as Scarlett O’Hara.” -Kathleen Grant Gelb, Oakland Tribune

About the Author

Erika Mailman is the author of The Witch’s Trinity, a Bram Stoker finalist and a San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book, and Woman of Ill Fame, a Pushcart Press Editor’s Book Award nominee. While writing The Witch’s Trinity, she learned she was the descendant of a woman accused twice of witchcraft in the decades predating Salem.

My Review:

“Woman of Ill Fame” by Erika Mailman is the best book that I have read in quite some time. I was completely drawn in by Nora’s character, and I struggled to put the book down once I started it! I absolutely loved Nora’s character. The novel is written from her perspective, and though she is a prostitute, she is savvy, witty, and hilarious! She is the type of character that you really are rooting for as a reader. I became attached to her immediately, and I really cared about her success in this novel. The author really brought Nora to life, and created a novel that made it impossible for me to put down, so much so that I finished this book in two days!

I also loved the fact that I was kept guessing throughout the novel. It is a great ‘whodunit’ novel, and I loved the twists and surprises. The ending was completely unexpected, and had me on the edge of my seat as I read it. Who doesn’t love a great book that keeps you guessing until the end?

I recommend this novel to any and all lovers of historical fiction, or even just lovers of fiction in general. While it doesn’t go into depth with factual information regarding the gold rush in San Francisco, it does represent the era very well. I was definitely able to imagine, through the author’s great descriptions, the streets of San Francisco and the people visiting Nora’s ‘crib’ at the Cowyard where she was employed. It’s a fantastic novel for anyone looking for a good mystery novel with some sex, drugs, and prostitution thrown in! 

I am so glad I was asked to review this novel for my blog. I am definitely looking forward to reading any future novels by Erika Mailman.

This novel definitely receives a FIVE out of FIVE star rating from me!