Guest Post: “Alternate Endings Anthology” by Historical Writers Forum Spotlight

Alternate Endings Tour BannerToday, I am pleased to welcome the Historical Writers Forum to my blog to promote their latest novel, “Alternate Endings Anthology.” I would like to thank The Coffee Pot Book Club and the Historical Writers Forum for allowing me to be part of this blog tour. 

Alternate Endings coverBlurb: 

We all know the past is the past, but what if you could change history?

We asked eight historical authors to set aside the facts and rewrite the history they love. The results couldn’t be more tantalizing.

What if Julius Caesar never conquered Gaul?

What if Arthur Tudor lived and his little brother never became King Henry VIII?

What if Abigail Adams persuaded the Continental Congress in 1776 to give women the right to vote and to own property?

Dive into our collection of eight short stories as we explore the alternate endings of events set in ancient Rome, Britain, the United States, and France.

An anthology of the Historical Writers Forum.

Buy Links:

This title is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.

Universal Link:  https://mybook.to/AltEnd 

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0BKC33GFX 

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Alternate-Endings-Short-Anthology-Historical-ebook/dp/B0BKC33GFX/ 

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0BKC33GFX 

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B0BKC33GFX 

Author Bios:

Samantha WilcoxsonSamantha Wilcoxson

Samantha Wilcoxson is an author of emotive biographical fiction and strives to help readers connect with history’s unsung heroes. She also writes nonfiction for Pen & Sword History.

Samantha loves sharing trips to historic places with her family and spending time by the lake with a glass of wine. Her most recent work is Women of the American Revolution, which explores the lives of 18th-century women, and she is currently working on a biography of James Alexander Hamilton.

Sharon Bennett ConnollySharon Bennett Connolly

Historian Sharon Bennett Connolly is the best-selling author of five non-fiction history books, with a new release coming soon.

A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Sharon has studied history academically and just for fun – and has even worked as a tour guide at a castle. She writes the popular history blog, http://www.historytheinterestingbits.com. 

Sharon regularly talks about women’s history; she is a feature writer for All About History magazine, and her TV work includes Australian Television’s ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’

Cathie DunnCathie Dunn

Cathie Dunn writes historical fiction, mystery, and romance. The focus of her historical fiction novels is on strong women through time.

She loves researching for her novels, delving into history books, and visiting castles and historic sites

Cathie’s stories have garnered awards and praise from reviewers and readers for their authentic descriptions of the past.

Karen HeenanKaren Heenan

As an only child, Karen Heenan learned early that boredom was the enemy. Shortly after, she discovered perpetual motion and has rarely been seen holding still since.

She lives in Lansdowne, PA, just outside Philadelphia, where she grows much of her own food and makes her own clothes. She is accompanied on her quest for self-sufficiency by a very patient husband and an ever-changing number of cats. 

One constant: she is always writing her next book.

Salina B BakerSalina Baker

Salina Baker is a multiple award-winning author and avid student of Colonial America and the American Revolution. 

Her lifelong passion for history and all things supernatural led her to write historical fantasy. Reading, extensive traveling, and graveyard prowling with her husband keep that passion alive. 

Salina lives in Austin, Texas.

Virginia CrowVirginia Crow

Virginia Crow is an award-winning Scottish author who grew up in Orkney and now lives in Caithness.

Her favorite genres to write are fantasy and historical fiction, sometimes mixing the two. Her academic passions are theology and history, her undergraduate degree in the former and her postgraduate degree in the latter, and aspects of these frequently appear within her writings.

When not writing, Virginia is usually to be found teaching music. She believes wholeheartedly in the power of music, especially as a tool of inspiration, and music often plays when she writes. Her life is governed by two spaniels, Orlando and Jess, and she enjoys exploring the Caithness countryside with these canine sidekicks.

She loves cheese, music, and films but hates mushrooms.

Elizabeth K CorbettElizabeth K Corbett

Elizabeth K. Corbett is an author, book reviewer, and historian who has recently published a short story, “Marie Thérèse Remembers.” She is working on her debut novel, a gothic romance set in Jacksonian America.

When she is not writing, she teaches academic writing, something she is very passionate about. She believes in empowering students to express themselves and speak their truth through writing. Additionally, she is a women’s historian who studies the lives of women in eighteenth and nineteenth-century North America. Mostly, she is fascinated by the lives of the lesser-known women in history.

A resident of gorgeous coastal New Jersey, she takes inspiration from local history to write her historical fiction. She is an avid reader who adores tea and coffee.

Stephanie ChurchillStephanie Churchill

After serving time as a corporate paralegal in Washington, D.C., then staying home to raise her children, Stephanie Churchill stumbled upon writing, a career path she never saw coming.

As a result of writing a long-winded review of the book Lionheart, Stephanie became fast friends with its New York Times best-selling author, Sharon Kay Penman, who uttered the fateful words, “Have you ever thought about writing?” 

Stephanie’s books are filled with action and romance, loyalty and betrayal. Her writing takes on a cadence that is sometimes literary, sometimes genre fiction, relying on deeply-drawn and complex characters while exploring the subtleties of imperfect people living in a gritty, sometimes dark world.

She lives in the Minneapolis area with her husband, two children, and two dogs while trying to survive the murderous intentions of a Minnesota winter.

Michael RossMichael Ross

Best-selling author Michael Ross is a lover of history and great stories.

He’s a retired software engineer turned author with three children and five grandchildren, living in Newton, Kansas, with his wife of forty years. He was born in Lubbock, Texas, and still loves Texas.

Michael attended Rice University as an undergraduate and Portland State University for his graduate degree. He has degrees in computer science, software engineering, and German. In his spare time, Michael loves to go fishing, riding horses, and play with his grandchildren, who are currently all under six years old. 

Connect with the Historical Writers Forum:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HistWriters 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100063689944203 

Guest Post: “Spotlight for ‘A Matter of Faith’ by Judith Arnopp

Today, I am pleased to welcome Judith Arnopp to my blog to share the blurb from her latest novel, “A Matter of Faith.” I would like to thank Judith Arnopp and The Coffee Pot Book Club for allowing me to be part of this tour. 

Blurb:

Finally free of Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII is now married to Anne Boleyn and eagerly awaiting the birth of his son. In a court still reeling from the royal divorce and growing public resentment against church reform, Henry must negotiate widespread resentment toward Anne. He places all his hopes in a son to cement his Tudor bloodline, but his dreams are shattered when Anne is delivered of a daughter.

Burying his disappointment, Henry focuses on getting her with child again, but their marriage is volatile, and as Henry faces personal bereavement and discord at court, Anne’s enemies are gathering. When the queen miscarries a son, and Henry suffers a life-threatening accident, his need for an heir becomes critical. Waiting in the wings is Jane Seymour, a lady-in-waiting who offers the king comfort and respite from Anne’s fiery passions.

But, when Anne falls foul of her former ally, Thomas Cromwell, and the king is persuaded he has been made a cuckold, Henry strikes out, and the queen falls beneath the executioner’s sword, taking key players in Henry’s household with her. 

Jane Seymour, stepping up to replace the fallen queen, quickly becomes pregnant. Delighted with his dull but fertile wife, Henry’s spirits rise even further when the prince is born safely. At last, Henry has all he desires, but even as he celebrates, fate is preparing to deliver one more staggering blow. 

Henry, the once perfect Renaissance prince, is now a damaged middle-aged man, disappointed in those around him but most of all in himself. As the king’s optimism diminishes, his intractability increases and the wounded lion begins to roar.

Buy Links:

This title is available to read on #KindleUnlimited. 

Universal Link: http://mybook.to/amofaith 

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0BWF2WL1Q 

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BWF2WL1Q 

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0BWF2WL1Q 

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B0BWF2WL1Q 

Author Bio: 

When Judith Arnopp began to write professionally, there was no question about which genre to choose. A lifelong history enthusiast and avid reader, Judith holds an honors degree in English and Creative writing and a Masters in Medieval Studies from the University of Wales, Lampeter. 

Judith writes both fiction and non-fiction, working full-time from her home overlooking Cardigan Bay in Wales, where she crafts novels based on the Medieval and Tudor periods. Her primary focus is on the perspective of historical women from all life roles, from prostitutes to queens, but she has recently turned her attention to Henry VIII himself.

Her novels include: 

A Matter of Conscience: Henry VIII, the Aragon Years. (Book one of The Henrician Chronicle)

A Matter of Faith: Henry VIII, the Years of the Phoenix (Book Two of The Henrician Chronicle)

The Beaufort Bride: (Book one of The Beaufort Chronicle)

The Beaufort Woman: (Book two of The Beaufort Chronicle)

The Kings Mother: (Book three of The Beaufort Chronicle)

The Heretic Wind: the life of Mary Tudor, Queen of England

A Song of Sixpence: The Story of Elizabeth of York

Intractable Heart: The Story of Katheryn Parr

The Kiss of the Concubine: A Story of Anne Boleyn

Sisters of Arden: on the Pilgrimage of Grace

The Winchester Goose: at the court of Henry VIII

The Song of Heledd: 

The Forest Dwellers

Peaceweaver

Her non-fiction articles feature in various historical anthologies and magazines, and an illustrated non-fiction book, How to Dress like a Tudor, will be published by Pen & Sword in 2023.

Social Media Links:

Website: https://www.judithmarnopp.com

Blog: http://juditharnoppnovelist.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JudithArnopp

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thetudorworldofjuditharnopp

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/judith-arnopp-ba999025/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tudor_juditharnopp/ 

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/judith-arnopp

Amazon Author Page: http://author.to/juditharnoppbooks 

Guest Post: “Horse Breeds in the Middle Ages” by Rowena Kinread

The Scots of Dalriada Tour Banner 1Today, I am pleased to welcome Rowena Kinread to my blog as part of the blog tour for her novel, “The Scots of Dalriada.” I want to thank The Coffee Pot Book Club and Rowena Kinread for allowing me to be part of this blog tour.

In ‘The Scots of Dalriada’ Fergus hides in a horse breeding- and training- centre on Aran. Is it realistic that such studs existed in the early Middle Ages? The answer is yes!

Throughout this period, horses were rarely considered breeds, such as today we have the Clydesdale horse, Haflinger, or Lipizzaner, to name just three; but instead, they were defined by type, by describing their purpose or physical attributes.

Breeders practiced selective breeding, as opposed to certain bloodlines as usual today. For example, the destrier or war horse was required to be strong, fast, and agile. Horses that had already proved themselves in battle would be used to breed new generations.

Horses from this age differed in size and build to the modern horse. Generally speaking, they were much smaller. The average horse of the time was 12 to 14 hands (48 to 56 inches, 122 to 142 cm). The destrier was described in contemporary sources as ‘tall and majestic and with great strength’. It was frequently referred to as the ‘great horse’ because of its size and reputation. This was a subjective term by medieval standards, and the destrier would appear small to our modern eyes. In my novel, I name the height as 14.2 hands; this would be exceptionally tall in the day.

 In addition to selective breeding, training was also common. Kings would not have the time to train their horses themselves. It would take a minimum of two years to fully train a destrier. A lot of schooling is required to overcome a horse’s natural instinct to flee from noise, the smell of blood, and the confusion of combat. It must also learn to accept smoke and fire and any sudden movements.

For this reason, war horses were more expensive than normal riding horses, and destriers the most prized, but figures vary greatly from source to source. Destriers are given values ranging from seven times the price of an ordinary horse to seven hundred times. The Bohemian king Wenzel II rode a horse ‘valued at one thousand marks’ in 1298. At the other extreme, a 1265 French ordinance ruled that a squire could not spend more than twenty marks on a rouncey. Knights were expected to have at least one war horse (as well as riding horses and packhorses), with some records from the later Middle Ages showing knights bringing twenty-four horses on the campaign. Five horses were perhaps the standard.

 

Image destrier
An armored medieval knight, axe in hand, and with a helmet decorated with antlers, rides his horse through a dense forest. 3D Rendering

 

Other horse ‘types’ in the Middle Ages:

  1. Palfreys = riding horses. The well-bred palfrey, which could equal a destrier in price, was popular with nobles and highly-ranked knights for riding, hunting, and ceremonial use. Ambling was a desirable trait in a palfrey, as the smooth gait allowed the rider to cover long distances quickly in relative comfort.
  2. cart horses or packhorses
  3. ‘Coursers’ were generally preferred for hard battles as they were light, fast, and strong. They were valuable but not as costly as the destrier. They were also used frequently for hunting.
  4. ‘Rouncey’ is a more general-purpose horse, which could be kept as a riding horse or trained for war. It was commonly used by squires, men-at-arms, or poorer knights. A wealthy knight would keep rounceys for his retinue. Sometimes the expected nature of warfare dictated the choice of horse; when a summons to war was sent out in England in 1327, it expressly requested rounceys for swift pursuit rather than destriers. Rounceys were sometimes used as pack horses but never as cart horses.
  5. ‘Jennet’ is a small horse first bred in Spain from Barb and Arabian bloodstock. Their quiet and dependable nature, as well as size, made them popular as riding horses for ladies; however, they were also used as cavalry horses by the Spanish.
  6. The ‘hobby’ was a lightweight horse, about 13 to 14 hands, developed in Ireland from Spanish or Libyan bloodstock. This type of quick and agile horse was popular for skirmishing and was often ridden by light cavalry known as Hobelars. Hobbies were used successfully by both sides during the Wars of Scottish Independence, with Edward I of England trying to gain an advantage by preventing Irish exports of horses to Scotland. Robert Bruce employed the hobby for his guerilla warfare and mounted raids, covering 60 to 70 miles a day.

The Scots of Dalriada coverBlurb:

THREE BROTHERS

Fergus, Loarn, and Angus, Princes of the Dalriada, are forced into exile by their scheming half-brother and the druidess Birga One-tooth.

THREE FATES

Fergus conceals himself as a stable lad on Aran and falls helplessly in love with a Scottish princess, already promised to someone else. Loarn crosses swords against the Picts. Angus designs longboats.

TOGETHER A MIGHTY POWER

Always on the run, the brothers must attempt to outride their adversaries by gaining power themselves. Together they achieve more than they could possibly dream of.

Fergus Mór (The Great) is widely recognized as the first King of Scotland, giving Scotland its name and its language. Rulers of Scotland and England from Kenneth mac Alpín until the present time claim descent from Fergus Mór.

Full of unexpected twists and turns, this is a tale of heart-breaking love amidst treachery, deceit, and murder.

Buy Links:

Universal Link:   https://books2read.com/u/47VXAL 

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0BS78THF3 

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BS78THF3 

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B0BS78THF3 

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B0BS78THF3 

Rowena Kinread 1Author Bio:

Rowena Kinread grew up in Ripon, Yorkshire, with her large family and a horde of pets. Keen on traveling, her first job was with Lufthansa in Germany.

She began writing in the nineties. Her special area of interest is history. After researching her ancestry and finding family roots in Ireland with the Dalriada clan, particularly in this era. 

Her debut fiction novel titled “The Missionary” is a historical novel about the dramatic life of St. Patrick. It was published by Pegasus Publishers on Apr.29th, 2021, and has been highly appraised by The Scotsman, The Yorkshire Post, and the Irish Times.

Her second novel, “The Scots of Dalriada,” centres around Fergus Mór, the founder father of Scotland, and takes place in 5th century Ireland and Scotland. It is due to be published by Pegasus Publishers on Jan.26th, 2023.

The author lives with her husband in Bodman-Ludwigshafen, Lake Constance, Germany. They have three children and six grandchildren.

Social Media Links:

Website: https://www.rowena-kinread.com/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RowenaKinread 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rowena.strittmatter 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rowena-kinread-6b054b228/ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rowenakinread/ 

Guest Post: “Excerpt from ‘Close Your Eyes- A Fairy Tale’ by Chris Tomasini

Close Your Eyes A Fairy Tale Tour BannerI am pleased to welcome Chris Tomasini to my blog today to share an excerpt from his novel, “Close Your Eyes- A Fairy Tale.” I would like to thank Chris Tomasini and The Coffee Pot Book Club for allowing me to be part of this tour. 

Tycho

The first year Tycho spent with us at Gora, he was like a child running frenzied through a kitchen full of Christmas delicacies. The gossip which arose about him was voluminous. I often sat in the castle kitchen, a mug of beer in my hand, listening to what the women said about the boy. What amused me most, as I watched them roll their eyes when his name was again mentioned in a less than lustrous light, was that they adored Tycho. They pretended they didn’t, not wishing to be teased, but I could see it in their eyes, in their rapt attention when the boy walked into a room, in their troubled breathing when he touched his hands to their shoulders or hair.

I don’t know what drew them to him, but it was much more than his youth and good looks. He was playful and irreverent, and the aura of foreign lands hung about him. Tycho could speak a dozen languages fluently, he could tell those magical stories, twinkle his eyes seemingly at will, and when they twinkled for you, it felt like you were sharing something with him, a sort of blissful astonishment at being alive.

It was also in the way he moved. Tycho eased through a room like a breeze across a field. He was around you; you raised your face to allow the wind to sweep close, and then he was gone, around a table, talking to someone else. He was here and there, here and gone, coming and going, a smile for you, a smile for someone else, and from watching him in the kitchen, in the dining hall, amongst crowds, I think what made him so sought after was that people felt a need to be alone with him, to possess him unreservedly, if only for a few short moments.

I have spoken, in the years since he left, to many people about Tycho. I asked the women why they chased him, why they desired him when he was unabashedly a scamp who was sleeping with every woman in the castle. I asked other of our friends why it felt such a privilege to be alone with him, and I think we all knew, unconsciously, that the road was not yet done with Tycho and that he had only been given to us for a short time.

Ahab has spoken to me of a Greek historian named Herodotus and of his fascination with a people named the Scythians, who lived around the Black Sea. Ahab thought that Tycho resembled these people, who did not live in cities or settle farms, but rather followed their herds of cattle across endless prairies, riding on wagons, carrying their tents with them. The Greek word for this way of life was aporia – to be a nomad, to be without a home, to be inaccessible to others.

I have been a child of the road. I lived that life for three years, and Ahab, with his delight in things ancient, things intellectual, did not grasp the fundamental difference between Tycho and the Scythians. To be a Scythian, I imagine, was to carry your life with you – your family, your belongings, your past, your history. But Tycho was a single boy, an orphan, alone upon a road.

The road forces you to decide if your destination is worth the hardship – making this decision is the traveler’s burden. But Tycho was more than a traveler. He was a wanderer who did not even have a destination. I think it was this sadness which many of us saw in the boy beneath the charm and the winning smile. We saw the sadness of a soul which would forever be in transit, which would never know a home, and which would forever be apart.

Close Your Eyes CoverBlurb:

Set in early 1400s Europe, Close Your Eyes is a sincere yet light-hearted and lustful ode to love. As Samuel, the court jester, struggles to describe why his friends, Agnieszka, the cook, and Tycho, the storyteller, fled the King of Gora’s service, he learns that love was the beating heart behind everything that happened in the castle. 

He learns as well that more ghosts than he knew of walked the midnight halls and that the spirit of Jeanne d’Arc haunted his friend and once slid into bed with Tycho, daring him to leave – to take to the cold roads of Europe, where he had once wandered orphaned and alone, and find his destiny there.

Buy Links:

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/4DJN6g 

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09NRYXDM9

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09NRYXDM9

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Close-Your-Eyes-Fairy-Tale/dp/B09NRK3ZQH

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Close-Your-Eyes-Fairy-Tale/dp/B09NRK3ZQH

Chris Tomasini

Author Bio:

Chris Tomasini lives in Ontario, Canada. He has studied creative writing via Humber College’s “Correspondence Program in Creative Writing” and through the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies. 

In the 1990s, Chris taught English as a Second Language and had stops in England, Poland, and Japan.

Since 2000, Chris has worked in bookstores, publishing, and libraries.

Chris is married with two children and can often be found (though not very easily) on a bicycle on country roads in central Ontario.

Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.christomasini.ca/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chrisfindsthelight/

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@chrisfindsthelight

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/chris-tomasini

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/stores/author/B019NO9NO2

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14814659.Chris_Tomasini

Guest Post: “Spotlight for ‘Pagan King’ by MJ Porter”

Pagan King Tour BannerToday, I am pleased to welcome MJ Porter to my blog to share the blurb for her book, “Pagan King.” I would like to thank MJ Porter and The Coffee Pot Book Club for allowing me to be part of this blog tour. 

Pagan King coverBlurb:

From bestselling author MJ Porter comes the tale of the mighty pagan king, Penda of Mercia.

The year is AD641, and the great Oswald of Northumbria, bretwalda over England, must battle against an alliance of the old Britons and the Saxons led by Penda of the Hwicce, the victor of Hæ∂feld nine years before, the only Saxon leader seemingly immune to Oswald’s beguiling talk of the new Christianity spreading through England from both the north and the south.

Alliances will be made and broken, and the victory will go to the man most skilled in warcraft and statecraft.

The ebb and flow of battle will once more redraw the lines of the petty kingdoms stretching across the British Isles.

There will be another victor and another bloody loser.

 

Buy Links:

Universal Link: books2read.com/PaganKing

 Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pagan-King-Gods-Kings-Book-ebook/dp/B01AWL0SW6/

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Pagan-King-Gods-Kings-Book-ebook/dp/B01AWL0SW6/

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Pagan-King-Gods-Kings-Book-ebook/dp/B01AWL0SW6/

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Pagan-King-Gods-Kings-Book-ebook/dp/B01AWL0SW6/

 

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pagan-king-m-j-porter/1141113393?ean=2940161148495

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/pagan-king/m-j-porter/9781914332210

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/pagan-king-1

iBooks: https://apple.co/3XKZ0kC

iTunes: https://apple.co/3ZSRC8E

Audio: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Pagan-King-Britain-Audiobook/B0BLXB5SQ2

MJ Porter imageAuthor Bio:

MJ Porter is the author of many historical novels set predominantly in Seventh to Eleventh-Century England, as well as three twentieth-century mysteries. Being raised in the shadow of a building that was believed to house the bones of long-dead Kings of Mercia meant that the author’s writing destiny was set.

Social Media Links:

Website: www.mjporterauthor.com/

Blog: www.mjporterauthor.blog

Twitter: https://twitter.com/coloursofunison

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mjporterauthor

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mj-porterauthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/m_j_porter/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/coloursofunison/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/mj-porter

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/MJ-Porter/e/B006N8K6X4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7163404.M_J_Porter

Linktr.ee: https://linktr.ee/MJPorterauthor

Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@mjporterauthor

 Matt Coles – audiobook narrator:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mattcolesvoiceovers/

Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@mattcolesvoiceovers

Website: www.mattcolesvoiceover.com

 

Guest Post: “Excerpt from ‘The Black Madonna’ by Stella Riley”

The Black Madonna Tour BannerToday, I am pleased to welcome Stella Riley to my blog to share an excerpt from her novel, “The Black Madonna.” Thank you, The Coffee Pot Book Club and Stella Riley, for allowing me to be part of this blog tour. 

A rescue … and the beginning of a close and unusual friendship.

Richard and Eden turned north through the labyrinthine alleyways of Bridewell in order to cross the Fleet.  It was an insalubrious area and, fully alive to the possibility of robbery, Richard kept a watchful eye around them – which was how he came to notice the savage proceedings, illuminated by fitful moonlight, in a yard off to his left.

What was happening was happening in near-silence – largely due to the gag which had been stuffed into the victim’s mouth while two pairs of hands held him roughly upright to receive the blows of a third.  Richard broke his son’s lethargy with one sharp jab of his elbow and then went plunging in at the assailants with a sort of flying dive that Eden, plunging swiftly in behind him, still found time to admire.

Dropped like a well-roasted chestnut while his captors met the unexpected attack, the victim slithered down the wall into an inert heap on the cobbles.  His fall passed unheeded.

Finding himself bereft of his cudgel without quite knowing how, the first man launched himself at Richard and collided with a fist that broke two teeth and loosened several others.  Eden, meanwhile, in a series of flawlessly executed moves learned in the Hotel de Cazenove (and a couple of effective but less genteel ones picked up in the taverns outside it), laid one man out cold against a water-butt and sent the other into staggering, retching retreat up the lane with Gap-Tooth in unsteady pursuit.

Richard flexed the fingers of his right hand, winced and grinned companionably at his son.

‘Well.  It’s nice to know that your time at Angers wasn’t completely wasted.’

‘And almost as comforting to discover that you’ve still got the hardest fist in three counties,’ retorted Eden with a grin.  Then, in a very different tone, ‘The only satisfaction, I suspect, either one of us will get.  Have you seen who we’ve rescued?’

Richard dropped on one knee, pulled the gag from the victim’s mouth and peered into the battered, unconscious face.

‘Ah.  Didn’t I see him at Far Flamstead last summer?  A money-lender, isn’t he?’

‘Amongst other things,’ came the dry response.  ‘Aside from pegging him up on the bridge, what do you suggest we do with him?’

Richard looked up, his brows lifting in mild surprise.

‘You don’t like him?’

‘Does anyone?’

‘I’ve no idea.  But if they don’t, one presumes they have cause.  Have you?’

‘Only indirectly.  Not as much as whoever ordered this … but enough to understand why they might want to.’  Eden bent to disentangle one wrist from the human wreckage on the cobbles.  ‘He’s not dead, at any rate.’

‘Nor even dying,’ added a thread-like voice with commendable distinctness.  ‘Though I confess it feels like it.’

Slowly and with extreme caution, Luciano del Santi opened his eyes on Richard’s face and achieved the ghost of his usual sardonic smile.

‘Ah.  Mr Maxwell, I believe?’

‘Yes – but never mind that now.  If you’ll tell us where your house is, we’ll endeavour to get you there.’

‘Cheapside.’  The heavy lids fell again, as if in an effort to conserve energy.  ‘The corner of Friday Street.  It’s too far.’

‘Then where?’

‘Malt Lane … near Blackfriars Stairs,’ came the fading response.  ‘The sign of the Heart and Coin.’

Eden met his father’s quizzical gaze with a carefully neutral one of his own.

‘The Heart and Coin?’ he said.  ‘It sounds like a bawdy-house.’

‘The word,’ said Luciano del Santi, ‘is brothel.  Don’t be shy.  Just knock three times and ask for Gwynneth.’

*  *  *

On the mercifully short journey to Malt Lane, the Italian lapsed in and out of consciousness with a frequency that made his bearers greet the sign of the Heart and Coin with profound relief.  It was a modest property but looking more like a comfortable country inn than the stew they had expected and inside, the cosy well-lit room was full of people.

The dark, beak-faced individual that Eden remembered from the hawking party was there, one hand on his knife.  In front of him and involved in heated discussion were a slender, soberly-dressed woman with the whitest skin Eden had ever seen and an expression of desperate anxiety, and a small dynamic person who waved his arms wildly as he talked but still managed to look like a large brown nut with moustaches.  Behind these three and collected into little tearful huddles were the girls.  Girls with skin of every shade from lustrous pearl to ebony, hair of gold and copper and jet … and apparently only one thing in common.  They were all uniquely beautiful.

Eden found that his mouth was open and resolutely shut it.  Luciano del Santi opened his eyes, summoned his dwindling resources and said vaguely, ‘Pardon my intrusion … but if there is a chair, I believe these gentlemen would be glad to put me in it.’  And promptly passed out again.

There was a brief silence; and then the occupants of the room surged forward on a tide of exclamation.  Predictably, the fellow with the knife got there first by the simple expedient of brushing the others aside. Nor did he waste time talking but merely removed his master from the hands of Richard and Eden and carried him inside to lay him carefully on the  rug in front of the hearth.

The woman in grey, surrounded by the girls like a dove amongst humming-birds, followed issuing a stream of lilting orders during which

Richard and Eden found themselves sitting on a cushioned settle while a dazzling blonde pressed glasses of brandy into their hands

Kneeling on the hearth and having cautiously examined the unconscious man’s ribs, Gwynneth looked up at the hawk-faced fellow and said, ‘There’s some damage but we’ll need a doctor to say how much.  Certainly it’s worse than last time and I really don’t like the look of him.’

‘And that, as they say, adds insult to injury,’ breathed Luciano del Santi from behind closed lids.  ‘But I forgive you. I’ll even allow Selim to put me to bed.  The only question is – whose?’

A sudden flush stained the lovely skin and Gwynneth lost her calm façade.

‘You fool – you fool!  Why do you do it?  It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last.  You promised not to stir after dark without Selim – you promised us all.  One day they’ll kill you.’

The Italian opened his eyes, his mouth twisting with wry amusement.

‘No. Haven’t you realised yet that the devil looks after his own.  I’m indestructible.’

‘Yes.  You look it.’

He managed a long, extremely careful breath.

‘My looks again?  You’re unkind, cara.  Don’t cry.’

‘I’m not crying!  You think I’d waste my tears on you?’  She sniffed and cradled his hand in both of hers.  ‘Don’t think I care what happens to you – I don’t.  But you might spare a thought for what’s to become of the girls and me if you get your throat cut.’

A faint laugh, abruptly checked, caused him to close his eyes again until the pain receded and made Gwynneth reach for the brandy.

‘Here,’ she said roughly. ‘Drink it all.  And, if you must talk, say thank you to the good gentlemen who saved your worthless life tonight.’

Luciano del Santi turned his head to locate Richard and Eden, his brow furrowed with the effort of it.  Then he said, ‘Forgive me.  I thought you had gone.’

Richard crossed to his side, followed more slowly by Eden.

‘Think nothing of it.  The brandy is excellent, so I’ve no complaints.  And I’m sure that – for other reasons entirely – my son has none either.’  He paused briefly and then said, ‘Tell me … does this kind of thing happen to you often?’

‘Not often, no.  Only when I grow careless.’

‘Only when you go out without Selim, you mean,’ said Gwynneth tartly.  ‘There’s scarcely one of those fine gentlemen of the Court who buy their dinners with your money who wouldn’t stick a knife in your back given half a chance.’

‘You talk too much, cara.’  The beautiful voice, though faint, was pleasantly final. ‘There’s no reason why Mr Maxwell should interest himself in my affairs.’

‘None,’ said Richard, ‘save that I’ve already done so.’

‘And thereby placed me under an obligation to you.’

‘Are you suggesting that as my motive?’

The Italian stared inscrutably back at him.

‘No.  I’m saying that if there is anything – either now or in the future – that I may do for you, you have but to name it.’

An arrested expression crossed Eden’s face and he opened his mouth as if to speak, then thought better of it.

Richard said, ‘I appreciate the offer and the fact that it isn’t made lightly.  But not quite everything has to be paid for, signor.’

‘I know it.’  Luciano del Santi’s smile was crooked but oddly infectious.  ‘But you must allow me to observe that you are the first Englishman I have met who knew it also.’

The Black Madonna coverBlurb:

As England slides into Civil War, master goldsmith, and money-lender Luciano Falcieri del Santi embarks on his hidden agenda. A chance meeting one dark night results in an unlikely friendship with Member of Parliament Richard Maxwell. Richard’s daughter, Kate – a spirited girl who vows to hold their home against Cavalier and Roundhead – soon finds herself fighting an involuntary attraction to the clever, magnetic, and diabolically beautiful Italian. 

Hampered by the warring English, his quest growing daily more dangerous, Luciano begins to realize that his own life and that of everyone close to him rests on the knife-edge of success … for only success will permit him to reclaim the Black Madonna and offer his heart to the girl he loves. 

From the machinations within Parliament to the last days of the King’s cause, The Black Madonna is an epic saga of passion and intrigue at a time when England was lost in a dark and bloody conflict.

Buy Links:

*Only £1.95 / $1.95 for the duration of the Blog Tour*

Universal Buy Link: https://books2read.com/u/bPNKpd 

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Madonna-Roundheads-Cavaliers-Book-ebook/dp/B00D4CF3LM/ 

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Black-Madonna-Roundheads-Cavaliers-Book-ebook/dp/B00D4CF3LM/ 

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Black-Madonna-Roundheads-Cavaliers-Book-ebook/dp/B00D4CF3LM

Amazon AU:  https://www.amazon.com.au/Black-Madonna-Roundheads-Cavaliers-Book-ebook/dp/B00D4CF3LM/

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-black-madonna-stella-riley/1115550936?ean=2940044562431

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-black-madonna-5

Apple:  https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-black-madonna/id659127225

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/321222

Audio:  https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/The-Black-Madonna-Audiobook/B07SYMJ11G 

Stella RileyAuthor Bio:

Stella Riley

Winner of three gold medals for historical romance (Readers’ Favourite in 2019, Book Excellence Awards in 2020, Global Book Awards in 2022) and fourteen B.R.A.G. Medallions, Stella Riley lives in the beautiful medieval town of Sandwich in Kent.

 She is fascinated by the English Civil Wars and has written six books set in that period. These, like the seven-book Rockliffe series (recommended in The Times newspaper!) and the Brandon Brothers trilogy, are all available in audio, narrated by Alex Wyndham.

Stella enjoys travel, reading, theatre, Baroque music, and playing the harpsichord. She also is fond of men with long hair – hence her 17th and 18th-century heroes.

Social Media Links:

Website: https://stellarileybooks.co.uk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RileyStella

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stellariley.books

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/stellarileybooks/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/riley9631/stella-riley-books/

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/stella-riley 

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stella-Riley/e/B0034PB7UU/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50913323-the-black-madonna 

Guest Post – Introducing Matthew Graham by Anna Belfrage

A Rip in the Veil Banner 2Today, I am pleased to welcome Anna Belfrage to my blog to discuss her book, “A Rip in the Veil,” and her character Matthew Graham. I want to thank Anna Belfrage and The Coffee Pot Book Club for allowing me to be part of this blog tour.

Date of Birth: March 31 in the year of our Lord 1630.

Astrological sign: Aries (but he scoffs at such nonsense)

Education: None from a formal perspective; he knows his letters, has a knack for complex ciphering and has most of the Catechism down by heart. (He grins and mimes an aching backside as he explains his Da was most insistent on this.) An intuitive horseman (said with pride), an excellent swordsman – no choice, had he not learned to wield the sword, he’d have died well before his twentieth birthday given the unrest of the times. Quite the marksman with a musket. Pistols, he says, are unreliable things. He has gone unbeaten in chess since his Da died, enjoys singing, and has a secret passion for John Donne’s poetry – not something he talks all that much about.

Favorite dish: Food, he says with something of a frown. As long as there’s something to eat daily, what does it matter what it is? He admits to a fondness for pork cracklings – and Alex’s spice cake when I push.

Favorite pastime: Long winter mornings spent in bed. (He winks)

He is most reluctant. Matthew ducks his head as he enters the room but remains by the door, hat in hand. Outlined against the square of light that is the open door, he stands tall – inordinately tall given the times – and with a pleasing width to chest and shoulders. A strong man is accustomed to physical work, as seen from his forearms and hands, at present rather dirty after a full day out in the fields.

“I don’t see the point,” he mutters, slapping his hat against his thigh.

“It’s called PR,” I say. After all, he’s the protagonist of A Rip in the Veil, my book presently on tour. To be correct, he stars in the entire The Graham Saga.

Matthew squirms at the “stars in” part and rolls his eyes at PR. I’ve tried to explain this concept to him over and over again, but as far as he’s concerned, this is all a waste of time.

“I just want to introduce you to my readers,” I say.

“Hmm.” Someone laughs in the yard, and he turns towards the sound, exposing a strong jaw and straight nose. As he turns back towards me, sunlight strikes him full in the face, and his hazel eyes lighten into golden green.

“Some background, no more,” I wheedle.

With a sigh, he comes over to join me by the table, sitting down on one of the stools. He leans back against the wall, extends his long legs, and crosses them at the ankle. His thighs bunch and relax under the coarse homespun of his breeches. Too tight, these breeches, too worn – not that I mind, not at all.  I pour him some beer, leaning close enough to catch his scent, a fragrance of morning dew on a mossy moor, overlaid by the riper tones of wood smoke and male sweat. He needs a shave, his cheeks covered by dark stubble that is highlighted by the odd streak of deep chestnut.  Matthew clears his throat, and I retake my eyes. It makes him smile.

“Background, aye?” And with that, he begins to talk.

Okay, so I’m not going to bore you with his detailed description of his childhood. At times I think he forgets I’m sitting there, so sunk is he in his memories of his Mam. He describes a very religious home, a place where having regular conversations with God about just about everything was the norm. But his mother laughs and sings; she berates God loudly when he’s inconsiderate enough to let it rain on her drying laundry and blows kisses to the heavens when the harvest is bountiful. His father is another matter; Malcolm Graham practices a stern faith, and as a consequence, so do his children – and, in particular, his eldest son.

“As it should be.” Matthew shrugs. He shifts on his stool, drumming his fingers against the tabletop.

His speech slows when he tells me of his years in the Commonwealth Army. A boy growing to a man amongst so much violence—it makes me shudder, but he speaks of his comrades and officers with warmth and respect. I have realized just how much these men have shaped him into what he is today, a man with a deep-seated belief in every man’s right to have a say in how he’s governed.

He breezes over the details of the battles he took part in, which is equally brief as he recounts his courtship of Margaret, his first wife. He says her name carefully as if his mouth fills with thorns when he pronounces it. And as to Luke . . . Matthew refuses to say a word about his brother – well, beyond cursing him for being the misbegotten treacherous pup that he is.

“Three years,” he says. “That’s what yon miscreant has cost me. Three years of non-life, of one endless day after the other, so alike there was no way of knowing if it was Sunday or Thursday, March or October. Well, mayhap the Sunday part is not correct; there’d be a minister come to visit us every now and then, long sermons about our duty to the Realm and its Lord Protector, very little about Our Lord’s mercy.” Matthew smiles crookedly and fiddles with his belt. “It wasn’t as if I had betrayed the Commonwealth, but no matter what I said, no one believed me. So I stopped talking – beyond the necessities.” He has twisted his hands together and spends some minutes studying the way his fingers braid around each other.

I wait. Talking about the years spent in prison due to the false testimony of his younger brother becomes difficult for Matthew.

“Sometimes . . .”

“What?” I prompt.

“I . . . they had me flogged, aye? For being obstructive. But I wasn’t – no more than all of us were.” He spits to the side. “It was Luke, I reckon.”

“You think?”

“Gold buys you favors everywhere,” Matthew says. “And he paid them well enough that they found reason to flog me on a regular basis, aye? Hoped I’d die of it, I reckon.” His shoulders tense under the linen of his shirt. His back is decorated with scars courtesy of those floggings, and he’s terribly self-conscious about his broken skin.

“But you didn’t die,” I say.

“I would have –had I not escaped.” A smile tugs at the corner of his mouth. “Took them some time to realize I’d run – if not, they’d have caught me before I made it over the Trent. As it was, I was well away by dark. But the next day—”

“What?” I lean forward. I’ve not heard these details before.

“Persistent man, yon commander. He’d had his men out looking for me all night, and at dawn, they had me neatly cornered.” Matthew laughs, and his eyes crinkle together for an instant or two. “It makes you right weak livered to sit on a roof and watch your pursuers come closer and closer. I had no choice; it was either leap off the roof and run for it or . . .”

“Or what?”

“The chimney.” He shakes his head. “Near on falling down it was, and with so many rooks’ nests crammed down inside it, it’s a marvel it hadn’t caught fire before. Part of the upper ledge crumbled when I clambered inside and no sooner was I out of sight, but the entire thing toppled.”

Not only the chimney, but the roof as well, and he’d fallen to land in a bed atop a woman – an old crone of a woman with no teeth and a grimy, oversized nightcap crammed down on her head. Fortunately, she’d been alone in the bed that took up most of the little garret room.

“I’m not sure who was the most frightened, me or her, but she kept her wits about her, and when the guards came storming up the stairs, she shoved me under the quilts while screaming like a banshee. About the roof, her imminent death, and the terror of having unknown men invade her bedroom.” He chuckled. “She didn’t mention the unknown man squished against her bosom.”

“Ah.” I can imagine that hadn’t been too much of a sacrifice. A man like Matthew Graham in your bed . . .

“She was old! Like Methuselah!  And she stank, aye? The whole bed stank, and it sagged so badly in the middle her arse must have been resting on the floor, with me on top.” He makes a face. “She wiggled her hips, the dirty old trollop, and all the while the men were in the room, she had me pressed so close to her chest I near on swooned with lack of air.”

“Ah,” I repeat. 

He looks at me from under his lashes – long, dark lashes – and smiles, his generous mouth curving in a way that makes me feel a ridiculous urge to giggle. I don’t.

“So why did she hide you?” I ask.

“A royalist helping another royalist, I reckon. And I saw no reason to correct her perception of me. Not even when she gave me her late son’s shirt, saying he’d died at Naseby. She saved my life,” he says, sounding serious. “Had that old lady handed me over, I’d have been dead and buried long since, and Alex—”

“Would never have met you – or you her.”

“Nay.” He looks away at absolutely nothing. “That would have been a great loss.”

“For her or you?” I ask, somewhat touched by his tone.

“For us both.” He grins and stands up. “But mostly for her. How would that daft lass have survived had I not found her?”

By the door, he turns to look at me. “She’s made it all worthwhile again.”

“Made what worthwhile?”

“Life,” he says, covering his dark, wavy hair with his hat. “Alex?” he shouts as he steps into the yard.

“Over here,” I hear her call back.

I rise to peek at them through the little window. Two people walk off towards the moor, so synchronized they walk like one. By the time they’ve crossed the yard, she is fused to his side, her arm around his waist, his arm around her shoulders.

“Lucky girl,” I say out loud. Or is she? After all, I haven’t quite made up my mind as to how this story will end. I chew on my pencil and watch them out of sight.

A Rip in the Veil CoverBlurb:

 On a muggy August day in 2002, Alex Lind disappears. On an equally stifling August day in 1658, Matthew Graham finds her on a Scottish moor.  Life will never be the same for Alex – or Matthew.

Alexandra Lind is thrown three centuries backward to land at the feet of escaped convict Matthew Graham.

Matthew doesn’t know what to make of this strange woman who has seemingly fallen from the skies—what is she, a witch?

Alex is convinced the tall, gaunt man is some sort of hermit, an oddball, but she quickly realizes the odd one out is she, not he.

Catapulted from a life of modern comfort, Alex grapples with her new existence, further complicated by the dawning realization that someone from her time has followed her here—and not exactly to extend a helping hand.

Potential compensation for this brutal shift in fate comes in the shape of Matthew, a man she should never have met, not when she was born three centuries after him. But Matthew comes with his baggage, and on occasion, his past threatens them both. At times Alex finds it all excessively exciting, longing for the structured life she used to have.

How will she ever get back? And more importantly, does she want to?

Buy Links:

This title is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.

Universal Link: http://myBook.to/ARIV1

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B071VP9V5F

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071VP9V5F

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B071VP9V5FClub

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B071VP9V5F

Anna Belfrage authorAuthor Bio:

Anna Belfrage

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time traveler. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time-traveling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th-century Scotland and Maryland, and the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy, set in 14th-century England. 

Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients.

Her Castilian Heart is the third in her “Castilian” series, a stand-alone sequel to her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales; His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. In the second installment, The Castilian Pomegranate, we travel with the protagonists to the complex political world of medieval Spain. This latest release finds our protagonists back in England—not necessarily any safer than the wilds of Spain!

 Anna has also authored The Whirlpools of Time, in which she returns to the world of time travel. Join Duncan and the somewhat reluctant time-traveler Erin on their adventures through the Scottish Highlands just as the first Jacobite rebellion is about to explode!

Anna’s books have been awarded the IndieBRAG Medallion, she has several Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choices, and one of her books won the HNS Indie Award in 2015. She is also the proud recipient of various Reader’s Favorite medals and has won various Gold, Silver, and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards.

Find out more about Anna and her books and enjoy her eclectic historical blog on her website, www.annabelfrage.com

Social Media Links:

Website: www.annabelfrage.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/abelfrageauthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annabelfrageauthor

Instagram: https://instagram.com/annabelfrageauthor

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/anna-belfrage

Amazon Author Page: http://Author.to/ABG

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6449528.Anna_Belfrage

Guest Post: “His Castilian Hawk” by Anna Belfrage- AudioBook Blast

His Castilian Hawk Tour BannerToday, I am pleased to welcome to my blog Anna Belfrage to promote the audiobook for her novel, “His Castilian Hawk.” Thank you, Anna Belfrage and The Coffee Pot Book Club, for allowing me to participate in this tour. 

Blurb:

For bastard-born Robert FitzStephan, being given Eleanor d’Outremer in marriage is an honour. For Eleanor, this forced wedding is anything but a fairy tale. 

Robert FitzStephan has served Edward Longshanks loyally since the age of twelve. Now he is riding with his king to bring Wales under English control once and for all. 

Eleanor d’Outremer—Noor to family—lost her Castilian mother as a child and is left entirely alone when her father and brother are killed. When ordered to wed the unknown Robert FitzStephan, she has no choice but to comply. 

Two strangers in a marriage bed are not accessible. Things are further complicated by Noor’s blood ties to the Welsh princes and by covetous Edith, who has warmed Robert’s bed for years. 

Robert’s new wife may be young and innocent, but he is soon to discover that she is not only spirited and proud but also brave. Because when Wales lies gasping and Edward I exacts terrible justice on the last prince and his children, Noor is determined to save at least one member of the House of Aberffraw from the English king.

Will years of ingrained service have Robert standing with his king, or will he follow his heart and protect his wife, his beautiful and fierce Castilian hawk?

His Castilian Hawk audiobook coverBuy Links: 

The Kindle ebook of this title is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.

Universal Link: http://myBook.to/HISHAWK

Audible Amazon: https://www.audible.com/pd/His-Castilian-Hawk-Audiobook/B0BLPXJL8M 

Bingebooks : https://bingebooks.com/book/the-castilian-hawk 

NOOK (Barnes and Noble): https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/his-castilian-hawk-anna-belfrage/1137734133 

Chirp: https://www.chirpbooks.com/audiobooks/his-castilian-hawk-by-anna-belfrage 

Libro: https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9789198507249 

Storytel: https://www.storytel.com/se/sv/books/3555095 

Scribd: https://www.scribd.com/audiobook/600535465/His-Castilian-Hawk 

Kobo & Walmart: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/audiobook/his-castilian-hawk 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/audiobooks/details/Anna_Belfrage_His_Castilian_Hawk?id=AQAAAEBCAX5BLM 

Audiobooks: https://www.audiobooks.com/audiobook/his-castilian-hawk/640346 

Anna BelfrageAuthor Bio:

Anna Belfrage

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time traveler. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time-traveling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th-century Scotland and Maryland, and the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy, set in 14th-century England.

Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients.

Her Castilian Heart is the third in her “Castilian” series, a stand-alone sequel to her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales; His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. In the second installment, The Castilian Pomegranate, we travel with the protagonists to the complex political world of medieval Spain. This latest release finds our protagonists back in England—not necessarily any safer than the wilds of Spain!

Anna has also authored The Whirlpools of Time, in which she returns to the world of time travel. Join Duncan and the somewhat reluctant time-traveler Erin on their adventures through the Scottish Highlands just as the first Jacobite rebellion is about to explode! 

Anna’s books have been awarded the IndieBRAG Medallion, she has several Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choices, and one of her books won the HNS Indie Award in 2015. She is also the proud recipient of various Reader’s Favorite medals and has won different Gold, Silver, and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards.

Find out more about Anna and her books, and enjoy her eclectic historical blog on her website, http://www.annabelfrage.com.  

Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.annabelfrage.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/abelfrageauthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annabelfrageauthor

Instagram: https://instagram.com/annabelfrageauthor

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/anna-belfrage

Amazon Author Page: http://Author.to/ABG

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6449528.Anna_Belfrage

Guest Post: “The Hearts of All on Fire” by Alana White Blurb

The Hearts of All on Fire Tour BannerI am pleased to welcome Alana White to my blog today to share a blurb from her latest novel, “The Hearts of All on Fire.” I would like to thank The Coffee Pot Book Club and Alana White for allowing me to be part of this tour.

The-Hearts-of-All-on-Fire_coverBlurb:

Florence, 1473. An impossible murder. A bitter rivalry. A serpent in the ranks.
Florentine investigator Guid’Antonio Vespucci returns to Florence from a government mission to find his dreams of success shattered. Life is good—but then a wealthy merchant dies from mushroom poisoning at Guid’Antonio’s Saint John’s Day table, and Guid’Antonio’s servant is charged with murder. Convinced of the youth’s innocence and fearful the killer may strike again, Guid’Antonio launches a private investigation into the merchant’s death, unaware that at the same time, powerful enemies are conspiring to overthrow the Florentine Republic—and him. A clever, richly evocative tale for lovers of medieval and renaissance mysteries everywhere, The Hearts of All on Fire is a timeless story of family relationships coupled with themes of love, loss, betrayal, and, above all, hope in a challenging world.

 

Buy Links:

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/md1RGZ

Amazon UK:
Kindle: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hearts-All-Fire-Alana-White-ebook/dp/B0BGJ1XHXS/
Paperback: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hearts-All-Fire-Alana-White/dp/1639884211

Amazon US:
Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Hearts-All-Fire-Alana-White-ebook/dp/B0BGJ1XHXS/
Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Hearts-All-Fire-Alana-White/dp/1639884211/

Amazon Canada:
Kindle: https://www.amazon.ca/Hearts-All-Fire-Alana-White-ebook/dp/B0BGJ1XHXS/
Paperback: https://www.amazon.ca/Hearts-All-Fire-Alana-White/dp/1639884211/

Amazon Australia:
Kindle: https://www.amazon.com.au/Hearts-All-Fire-Alana-White-ebook/dp/B0BGJ1XHXS/
Paperback: https://www.amazon.com.au/Hearts-All-Fire-Alana-White/dp/1639884211


Barnes & Noble:
Paperback: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-hearts-of-all-on-fire-alana-white/1141662345

Bookshop:
Paperback: https://bookshop.org/books/the-hearts-of-all-on-fire/9781639884216

Waterstones:
Paperback: https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-hearts-of-all-on-fire/alana-white/9781639884216

Parnassus Books (Nashville, Tennessee)
Paperback: https://www.parnassusbooks.net/book/9781639884216


Alana White author photoAuthor Bio:

Alana White’s passion for Renaissance Italy has taken her to Florence for research on the Vespucci and Medici families on numerous occasions. There along cobbled streets unchanged over the centuries, she traces their footsteps, listening to their imagined voices, including that of her protagonist, Guid’Antonio Vespucci, and his friends, Sandro Botticelli, Michelangelo, Lorenzo de’ Medici.

Alana’s first short story featuring real-life fifteenth-century lawyer Guid’Antonio Vespucci and his favorite nephew, Amerigo Vespucci, was a Macavity Award finalist and led to the Guid’Antonio Vespucci Mystery Series featuring “The Sign of the Weeping Virgin” (Book I) and “The Hearts of All on Fire” (Book II).

She is a member of the Women’s National Book Association and the Historical Novel Society, among other organizations. She loves hearing from readers, and you can contact her at her website, http://www.alanawhite.com.

Social Media Links:

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Guest Post: “What Makes a Historical Novel Seem ‘Authentic’?” by Carolyn Hughes

Squire's Hazard Tour BannerToday, I am pleased to welcome Carolyn Hughes to my blog to discuss the topic, “what makes a historical novel seem ‘authentic’” as part of the blog tour for her latest novel, “Squire’s Hazard,” the fifth book in her Meonbridge Chronicle series. Thank you, The Coffee Pot Book Club and Carolyn Hughes, for allowing me to be part of this blog tour. 

I love reading and writing historical fiction. My series of novels, The Meonbridge Chronicles, is set in fourteenth-century rural Hampshire. Though, the last three books, De Bohun’s Destiny, Children’s Fate, and Squire’s Hazard, do have scenes set elsewhere as well. The novels mostly focus on the lives of “ordinary people,” and in particular, the common people of fictional Meonbridge, though both De Bohun’s Destiny and Squire’s Hazard also depict the lives of the gentry too. But the novels are not about politics or war, or royals or heroes, but are rather the “everyday stories of country folk,” and my particular writing pleasure is trying to recreate their world in which readers can immerse themselves. 

And to make that world feel natural requires both “authenticity” and a little “strangeness,” so here are a few thoughts on how I try to achieve this…

Although my novels are not about “history,” history does provide the important factual context in which my characters’ fictional lives are set. The novels are set in a specific time, and each one follows on from the previous one after a two or three years gap. Mostly, what was going on in England as a whole is not important to the Chronicles’ stories. But that isn’t the case for Fortune’s Wheel, the first Chronicle, or the fourth one, Children’s Fate, where what we call the Black Death – plague – underlies the premise for the stories. In Children’s Fate, too, I describe a devastating storm that occurred in January 1363. I write about it because it emphasizes the horror that people had already been suffering in the previous months when the plague was killing children and young people when it must have seemed as if the world was coming to an end.

What was it like to live then? I enjoy depicting what we know or can deduce about how people lived – their homes, clothes, food, tools, and working practices – and showing everyday life as authentically as possible. Portraying the environment, in particular – people’s homes and their interactions with the world outside – can also help to give an authentic-seeming picture.

For example, in my depictions of peasants’ homes, I try to show how generally cramped, dark and smoky they were and, in bad weather, cold and damp. I don’t dwell on the unpleasantness but don’t shy away from it when required. Part of me thinks the grimness would be in our eyes rather than theirs. The Chronicles are told in the voices of the characters, not from the perspective of an omniscient narrator, and my feeling is that the people wouldn’t necessarily notice those things that we would find hard to cope with. Trying to put me into my characters’ shoes, to imagine the minutiae of their daily lives, is what I see so fascinating about writing about the past and what I hope contributes to that sense of authenticity.

Some readers might think I’m obsessed with the weather! Weather does play a big part in my novels, for it surely affected medieval people’s lives far more than it does ours (here in England, at any rate). If you owned only, at most, two sets of clothes, how miserable was it to work outdoors in the rain and come home all wet, with just a small hearth fire (no radiators or tumble dryer…)? Drying clothes must have been so difficult! No book has yet told me exactly what they did, so, putting myself in their shoes, I assume they arranged their clothes around the fire, on some sort of rack, perhaps, and that they possibly slept in their damp clothes – sometimes, anyway – to help dry them out. A pretty ghastly prospect! Yet what else could they do?

Depicting the physical aspects of daily life is important, but almost more important – and yet more difficult – is portraying the intangible aspects. Sexuality, religion, superstition, ideas, and sensibilities, in general, are trickier. The difficulty lies in transporting oneself as a writer into their very different mindsets. Fourteenth-century people must have been like us in many ways, yet also unlike us in many others, and tapping into those dissimilarities is a challenge and, perhaps, one of the principal points – and pleasures – of writing historical fiction.

For example, the Church was central to daily life: in prayers and oaths, influencing people’s view of their position in society, directing how they ran their lives to an extent that we would consider deeply interfering. The fourteenth century was also a world where what we consider natural (or man-made) disasters, such as ruinous weather, famine, and plague, were presumed to be God’s punishment for man’s sin. These aspects of life need to be portrayed in a way that shows the differences in people’s thinking, yet without making them seem alien – they were still individuals with ambitions and concerns, emotions and desires.

Historical fiction is sometimes criticized for failing to portray the past’s strangeness (the “foreign country”). Beyond religion and superstition are aspects of belief that modern readers are likely to find obscure or even bizarre: religious charms, relics, magic and spells, monsters, weird concepts, and seemingly fantastical happenings that today can be explained or dismissed. All of these were normal to people of the time, yet they need careful handling in a novel. “Magic and monsters” might have been part of a medieval person’s ordinary belief, but they are the opposite: we tend to consider them fantastical, not commonplace. And a danger of introducing such elements – however natural they might have been to a medieval mind – is that the novel might seem to the modern reader to be less historical fiction than fantasy. Achieving a sense of naturalness requires a balance between the authentic past and the skeptical present. This aspect of writing historical fiction makes it both a challenge and a pleasure. 

Squire-Final-working.inddBlurb:

How do you overcome the loathing, lust, and bitterness threatening you and your family’s honour?

It’s 1363, and in Steyning Castle, Sussex, Dickon de Bohun is enjoying life as a squire in the household of Earl Raoul de Fougère. Or he would be if it weren’t for Edwin de Courtenay, who’s making his life a misery with his bullying, threatening to expose the truth about Dickon’s birth.

At home in Meonbridge for Christmas, Dickon notices how grown-up his childhood playmate, Libby Fletcher, has become since he last saw her and feels the stirrings of desire. Libby, seeing how different he is, too, falls instantly in love. But as a servant to Dickon’s grandmother, Lady Margaret de Bohun, she could never be his wife.

Margery Tyler, Libby’s aunt, meeting her niece by chance and learns of her passion for young Dickon. Their conversation rekindles Margery’s long-held rancor against the de Bohuns, whom she blames for all the ills that befell her family, including her own servitude. For years she’s hidden her hunger for retribution, but she can no longer keep her hostility in check.

As the future Lord of Meonbridge, Dickon knows he must rise above de Courtenay’s loathing and intimidation and get the better of him. And, surely, he must master his lust for Libby so his own mother’s shocking history is not repeated? Of Margery’s bitterness, however, he has yet to learn…

Beset by the hazards these powerful and dangerous emotions bring, can young Dickon summon up the courage and resolve to overcome them?

Secrets, hatred, and betrayal, but also love and courage – Squire’s Hazard, the fifth MEONBRIDGE CHRONICLE.

Buy Links:

This book is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/bW5yJz 

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Squires-Hazard-Meonbridge-Chronicle-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B0BHKH1QB1/ 

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Squires-Hazard-Meonbridge-Chronicle-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B0BHKH1QB1/ 

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Squires-Hazard-Meonbridge-Chronicle-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B0BHKH1QB1/ 

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Squires-Hazard-Meonbridge-Chronicle-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B0BHKH1QB1/ 

The paperback is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Waterstones. 

Carolyn Hughes authorAuthor Bio:

CAROLYN HUGHES has lived much of her life in Hampshire. With a first degree in Classics and English, she started working life as a computer programmer, then a very new profession. But it was technical authoring that later proved her vocation, as she wrote and edited material, some fascinating, some dull, for an array of different clients, including banks, an international hotel group, and medical instruments manufacturers.

Having written creatively for most of her adult life, it was not until her children flew the nest several years ago that writing historical fiction took centre stage, alongside gaining a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Portsmouth University and a Ph.D. from the University of Southampton.

Squire’s Hazard is the fifth MEONBRIDGE CHRONICLE, and more stories about the folk of Meonbridge will follow.

You can connect with Carolyn through her website http://www.carolynhughesauthor.com and on social media.

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Amazon Author Page UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Carolyn-Hughes/e/B01MG5TWH1/ 

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