English Civil War
#BlogTour | Killing Beauties by Pete Langman #KillingBeauties #Review #RandomThingsTours @elegantfowl @annecarter @Unbound_Digital
Hello Sunshines! I have the pleasure to be today’s stop on this wonderful blog tour for; Killing Beauties by Pete Langman. I can’t wait to share my review with you all, so grab a cuppa, sit back and enjoy.
England, 1655. Following the brutal civil wars the country swelters under a cloud of paranoia, suspicion and the burgeoning threat of rebellion. With the fragile peace being won by Cromwell’s ever-efficient Secretary of State John Thurloe, the exiled king Charles Stuart sends two spies on a dangerous mission to wrest back the initiative. These spies are different, however: they are women. Their task? To turn Parliament’s spymaster into their unwitting accomplice.
Killing Beauties is a dark tale of subterfuge, jealousy and betrayal.
It is sometimes said that women are written out of history, but often they are not yet written in. Killing Beauties is based on the true stories of two female spies from the 1650s and gives them the voice that only fiction can.
I know the old saying says; ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ and usually I don’t jump onto a blog tour or take on a review by the cover alone, but I did instantly love it it’s so darkly gothic I was fascinated. Add an intriguing blurb, a historical tale all about unknown women from history then you have me hooked.
Set in 1655 during the English Civil War where the country is full of spies, danger, back-stabbing, death, and rebellion ready to tear the country apart even more then it is already. Exiled King Charles II wants more than anything to wrestle his country back and for eventual peace, something that looks set to be very difficult with Cromwell’s spy-master; Thurloe lurking bout in the shadows. So Charles sends his own spies into infiltrating Thurloe, but these aren’t just any ordinary spies they are women. Something which not only surprised me as I didn’t know that there were female spies in the period even existed, and now has made me want to learn more.
Anyone who follows me knows that I love reading about seemingly unknown historic women, I had never heard about Susan Hyde or Diana Jennings, in fact, I hadn’t known that King Charles had a league of female spies – a fact that I will definitely be reading more about. Killing Beauties isn’t a hugely taxing book to read and it is very enjoyable getting to know the author’s impersonation of these two fascinating women, there are times when the story sort of feels a little flat or vague at times but I looked past that and enjoyed the journey that the author was taking us on.
I really enjoyed this, it’s dark and gothic, Killing Beauties is based on the true life’s of Susan and Diana, their characters are well defined, they all work well with one another throughout and make the reader instantly like them and wanting them to succeed in their mission, even though this is predominately a work of fiction there is a strong sense of in-depth research that has gone into the story, which only makes the reader discover more about this fascinatingly complex era and the women who staying within the shadows to do a man’s job.
The overall story could have done with a bit of fattening up, there are gaps and moments which did keep me hanging on and wondering only for the story to move past and on to the next part of the story, something which is a real shame, but I liked Langman’s writing and the story did capture my attention.
Overall this is an interesting historical, not the strongest which I have read as it does have its weak moments but certainly, one to read for anyone who loves their women’s history, as there is promise for more.
About The Author
Pete Langman is a writer, academic, cricketer and sometime rock and roll guitarist who holds a PhD on Francis Bacon (the other one) and was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease at 40. His non-fiction encompasses Cricket, Parkinson’s Disease, Music, History of Science, literature and culture, and has appeared in publications ranging from The Guardian to Guitar and Bass Magazine. He lives between Leiden and Brighton with his partner Dr. Nadine Akkerman, award-winning author of Invisible Agents, who supplies him with historical expertise and who keeps asking if they can have a cat now, please.
Blog Tour Schedule
Hello my lovely readers! I have the massive pleasure to be sharing my review of this amazing book, my goodness this is good! I know that I have babbled a fair amount through this review, but when you come across such stunning quality like we have here, then it is very hard not to rabbit on a bit, apologies in advance.
Barbados 1652. In the aftermath of the English Civil War, the vanquished are uprooted and scattered to the ends of the earth.
When marauding English soldiers descend on Mairead O’Coneill’s family far, she is sold into slavery. After surviving a harrowing voyage, the young Irish woman is auctioned off to a Barbados sugar plantation where she is thrust into a hostile world or depravation and heartbreak. Though stripped of her freedom, Mairead refuses to surrender her dignity.
Scottish prisoner of war Iain Johnstone has descended into hell. Under a blazing sun thousands of miles from home, he endures forced labour in the unforgiving cane fields. As Iain plots his escape to save his men, his loyalties are tested by his yearning for Mairead and his desire to protect her.
With their future stolen, Mairead and Iain discover passion and freedom in each others arms. Until one fateful night, a dramatic chain of events turns them into fugitives.
Together they must fight to survive; together they are determined to escape.
My goodness this is good! Honestly, this is way beyond the meagre word of ‘good’ there is a shining star-like quality about this book and I can’t seem to find the appropriate words to describe what I want to say. I feel like after reading this my whole perception of what a historical should be like has changed, Cryssa you may have ruined me for other authors now.
I was completely blown away by just how incredibly hard-hitting and powerful this book is, its thrilling, heart-breaking, emotional, original, cleverly written, there is a sadness that pulls you in and then amongst the heartache there is a real wit and natural humour, plus a soul melting romance; Mairaid and Iain will undo you with their tantalizing love. This is how a historical should be written; meticulously researched history, gripping plot, beautifully crafted characters, gorgeous scenery. Ms Bazos is a master at dynamic and realistic historical which take the reader on a gorgeous journey to the end.
Cryssa Bazos, I bow down to your excellence, this is stunning!
Set in 1652, just after the English Civil War; Scotsman Iain Johnstone and his band of soldiers have been captured by the English first kept on as POW then sold into slavery and transported to Barbados, where he, his brother in law; Glencross and their comrades find themselves owned by a sugar cane plantation owner. Forced to work in the fields, doing back breaking work in the burning heat, practically starved and beaten they have found themselves in the inner circle of hell.
With the English invading her precious Ireland, Mairead O’Conneill is sent to live with her aunt, uncle and cousins in the country to try and protect her from the English. Unfortunately, the English arrive at the house and take her and her cousins; Bronagh and Ciara prisoners, which sees them sold into slavery and sent to Barbados – on the same ship as Iain, which is where our couple first meet. Mairead is heartbroken not just to be stolen away from her home, branded like a work horse and sold she is separated from her cousins and finds herself amongst strangers who most hate her. She made a promise to her cousins that one day they, all three of them will be reunited and find their way back home.
My heart goes to all of them, they are stolen away and treated like cattle, it is heart-breaking to witness such brutality toward them. Iain is a proud man and the mere thought of being ‘owned’ and being slave does make him feel like he has failed not just him but his men. He vows that whatever it takes he will find his way back to Scotland, that he will not die as a slave he will escape. I love Iain, no matter what he is faced with he sticks to his guns, he shoulders a lot of responsibility, but he is loyal, Protective and caring for his men. He does come across as a growling, brooding, monosyllabic bear at times but that is just to cover the raging emotions below the surface.
Mairead is so strong, she is patriotic, loyal, feisty and defiant. She faces everything with a brave and stubborn tilt of her chin and gets on with whatever is thrown at her. Like Iain she has faith that she will see home again, she won’t be defeated and she won’t be used like the other girls have been.
They are a brilliant couple, they have to face so much together but yet they feed of one and other, they see kindred spirits in each other. Those little moment when they are able to just be themselves and don’t have to worry about what is going on around them, is so beautiful. You will be cheering these two on the moment you meet them, if ever there were a couple who deserved a happy ever after then these two are it.
Severed Knot is astonishing, it is far more then just your standard historical romance there is a real life and death, raw, gritty and deadly undercurrent to it, that is all consuming. You feel every emotion, sadness, fear, heartache, pain, laughter, joy, happiness, empathy – all the human emotion that makes a great story is all here. At times it’s intense, violent and difficult reading, especially when it comes to how Mairead and Iain are treated. I will say it is not for the faint hearted, but if you are like me who likes to become entrenched in historic realism then you need to read this book.
Ms Bazos has done an astounding job at reeling the reader into her world, its all so vivid and real you can see the plantation in your mind, you can practically feel the heat of the sun burning into your back as you watch Iain and his comrades toil away in those sun baked fields. You can feel smell the evil that is emanating around the whole Vale property, it’s intense and graphic and will certainly give you goosebumps.
Honestly, I cannot praise this enough. Severed Knot is one of those books that you just know from those first few pages will be a classic. It will be enjoyed again and again, I know that I will be pulling off my bookcase again. I can say for a certainty, that this will be going on my best books of the year.
I am just so in love with this book, I cannot recommend this enough. If you love your more daring, brutally honest and tenderly loving historical’s then this is the book for you.
This was an Arc from the author in exchange for an honest review, thank you so much Cryssa.
Severed Knot is to be released on 7th June and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.
Theo Howard, Earl of Suffolk is torn. Betrothed to a child to satisfy his family dynasty, he longs for the freedom to make his own choice. And when he attends a lavish party at his family’s newly-restored palace, he is immediately attracted to Lucy, a beautiful young lavender-seller. But in this enchanted world of Shakespeare’s Midsummer’s Night Dream, all is not as it appears. Theo’s headstrong sister Frances is determined to sabotage her own arranged marriage, and aided by the cunning of Frances and her friend Barbara St.John, perhaps Theo can find his own path to happiness and true love.
When I wrote The Lady of the Tower, the story revealed itself in the narrative of my ancestress, Lucy St.John. But, as with all novels, other characters appeared, and their voices grew strong and insistent, demanding their own story be told. And so, a novelette was born. This is Theo’s counterpoint to chapter six in the novel, in which Theo falls in love.
A counterpoint is a melody played in conjunction with another, or an opposing viewpoint in an argument. Our lives are complex, and each one of us carries within us a counterpoint to another’s story. Here is one to Lucy St.John, the lady of the Tower.
What a wonderful taste into this authors work, as this is the first I have read by Elizabeth St. John and I will definitely be reading more from her. I hadn’t read her full-length story; The Lady in the Tower but, I didn’t find that to be a hindrance or feel that I had missed out on something as this is very cleverly written. In fact, I found I was intrigued even more by the character’s and the story want to learn more about them and their antic’s.
This is a short story which basically follows Theo; Earl of Suffolk as he meets and falls in love with lovely Lucy the Lavender seller. This is written in first person and we see the events through Theo’s eyes. To please his family, he is betrothed to a woman whom his family deem worthy of the Earls of Suffolk dynasty. But Theo is feeling suffocated by it all, he just wants one moment where he can do what he wants and for a few moments be who he wants to be. Which is when he meets beautiful and spirited lavender seller; Lucy St John at a party at his families newly refurbished home. He is instantly drawn towards her, but with his tenacious sister Frances set to cause a scandal, will Theo have the future he wants with Lucy?
What a wonderful little peek into another’s world, that is how I saw this when I read it. I have never read a ‘counterpoint story’ before and I thoroughly enjoyed the sneaky dip into Theo and Lucy’s world. What I particularly like about this is that it is loosely based on the author’s ancestry, something which I can relate to completely as this is something I am doing myself. It is quite the inspiration seeing an author who has taken her ancestry and created a book out of it. I really like that!
I found Ms St. John’s writing to be clever and vivid to the senses plus brilliantly detailed that the era has come to life as you read, even though this is a short story you get a real sense of the author’s love for the story and the era.
A very enjoyable read, one that gets the taste-buds watering for more.
This was a complimentary copy via the author in exchange for an honest review.
Counterpoint; Theo Earl of Suffolk is available to purchase at Amazon.
Royalist officer James Hart refuses to accept the tyranny of the new government, and to raise funds for the restoration of the king’s son, he takes to the road as a highwayman.
Elizabeth Seton has long been shunned for being a traitor’s daughter. In the midst of the new order, she risks her life by sheltering fugitives from Parliament in a garrison town. But her attempts to rebuild her life are threatened, first by her own sense of injustice, then by falling in love with the dashing Hart.
The lovers’ loyalty is tested through war, defeat and separation. James must fight his way back to the woman he loves, while Elizabeth will do anything to save him, even if it means sacrificing herself.
Traitor’s Knot is a sweeping tale of love and conflicted loyalties set against the turmoil of the English Civil War.