Exclusive Guest Post

#GuestPost and #Review | Her Dark Knight’s Redemption (Lovers and Legends #8) by Nicole Locke #HerDarkKnightsRedemption #LoversandLegends #Giveaway @NicoleLockeNews @MillsandBoons @HarlequinBooks

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Hello Sunshines! Have I got an amazing, epic post for you all today, not only am I sharing my review of the brilliant Her Dark Knight’s Redemption (be prepared for waffle), but I also have an exclusive guest post by Nicole where she will be introducing us all to that brutishly handsome Knight himself, not only that but I have teamed up with Nicole to bring you the most amazing giveaway – really it’s a doozy and not to be missed! Honestly, I’m sure it’s not healthy to be this excited…So settle back, grab that cuppa and enjoy!

‘This man was shadow and night…
He was Darkness.’
Homeless Aliette is saved from punishment for stealing by a mysterious knight. This stranger informs her that to stay alive she must claim his child as her own. She should fear the knight’s power, and yet it’s clear there’s more good to this man than he’s prepared to show. Can she break down the barriers of the tortured knight she calls Darkness…?


Oh, my! Oh, my! Oh, my! Nicole Locke, you have out completely outdone yourself!! You have well and truly cemented yourself as the best Medieval Romance Author!! This is – well, I honestly don’t have the words to fully describe the wealth of emotion that is swimming through me at the moment. There are words that I could brandish about to describe just how extraordinarily good this book is; such as amazing, flawless, stunning, inspiring, beautiful, dark, delicious, deadly, gorgeous, sexy – Hmmm, I may have just described the delectable hero there! – but honestly, this is just too damn good, that my little brain can’t handle it. I am a wreck, I am a simmering cauldron of emotion!

I love how different this is from the other books in the series, it is far darker then what I have read before from Nicole, and the sexual chemistry between Aliette and Reynold is like sparks shooting from a blazing fire, it’s sizzlingly hot, there may not be a lot of bedroom action but the attraction between our couple is instant, the air crackles like thunder and lightening around them as they both are consumed with lust for the other. Every scene is full of heated glances and a tingling tension that even the reader can feel running down their backs and then there is this beautiful sweetness between them, times where he is human his love of reading and teaching her to read made me not only swoon but fall in love with him that little bit more.

Reynold – those who have been following this series may remember him from ‘The Knights Scarred Maiden’ and if you’re like me then you would have been avidly awaiting his story and oh my!! I cannot begin to express how much I adore this dangerously dark and deadly man, you know me I do love a bad boy especially one who not only needs to learn to love and trust but needs love to unfreeze his frozen heart…Sigh! Honestly, this lone wolf is a menace, how am I ever to look at another hero again? I am ruined, who wants a clean-shaven goody-two-shoes when there is a dark knight with a nice backside lurking in the shadows?

Hmmm, it seems my waffling and lurid thoughts have well and truly taken over this review, I have just realised that I haven’t actually said anything about the book…stop perving on Reynold and get on with the review!!!

Reynold is wealthy, powerful, manipulative, dangerous with a hunger for vengeance and blood, in some way another he has been playing deadly games with his enemies for as long as he can remember, a game that continues and one that he is determined to win whatever the costs – that is until a little surprise lands in his lap, in the form of a scrawny little girl by the name of Grace who the strange women who arrive with her claims is his, being the super cynical and menacing creature that he is, he has to stop himself from killing the old woman on the spot as he doesn’t trust or believe a word she says. But he soon learns the truth, and little Grace finds herself in the care of her broodingly handsome predator of a father. In the care of a man who has a hardened fragile heart and too many secrets and shadows.

Now he has Grace in his care, what is he going to do with her? His lifestyle of devilment and games isn’t the place for a baby, plus he knows that the moment anyone of his enemies finds out about her, she will be in huge danger – something that our cunning plotter will not hear of – especially if his family learn how quickly she has become his Achilles heel.

Oh, I have to mention that scene when Aliette meets him and he is holding Grace close to his well-formed chest…sigh that could melt any heart!

Our heroine Aliette is currently homeless, she is a really good young woman, she is resilient and a survivor. She has taken under her wing an elderly couple who have found themselves in difficulty and a young thief; Gabriel, the four of them have become a little family. Being abandoned by her birth family many years ago, Aliette knows more than most the importance of sticking together to survive. It is because of young Gabriel that puts Aliette into the sphere of our brutally gorgeous mastermind, she is taken from the street and thrust into the calculating gaze of Reynold. She is the answer to his problem of what to do with Grace, and he will damn well make sure that Aliette complies with his scheme.

Aliette can’t trust the seething cauldron of danger that is standing looking at her as though she were a piece of meat, she is unnerved by him and incredibly attune to her primal womanly feelings for him, she is instantly attracted to him but not enough to tell him who she is or anything about herself of her life, and especially not about her little family who depends on her. No matter how much she demands he release her he refuses instead offers her a pretty odd position in his household.

I won’t say too much, but throughout the book, we are kept on this constant dizzying will they open up to each other or won’t they, it is mesmerising and ….well too damn good!

As it says in the authors note, this is a turning in direction to the Lovers and Legends series, and I am really loving where this is going, and cannot wait for more especially mesmerizing mercenary Knight; Louvre, now he is a man that I really can’t wait to get to know – you know me I have a one-track mind and you all know that I was drawn to the rougher and rugged heroes, which explains why I was so taken with Reynold. But Louve, I feel will be different, he has that ferocious and dangerous side, But I think there is something else simmering beneath the surface.

I love the really dark and brooding feel of this book, like the hero it has a really different feel to it then the other’s in the series, it is a lot edgier then Nicole’s other work and I utterly love the new direction her writing and this series is going in. Anyone who knows me knows that more Gothic feel romances are my Achilles heel I love the brooding and the dangerous feeling that you really can only get from a well written Gothic, historical romance and this is easily the finest I have read. From that first chapter when we meet the darkness himself you know you are going to be in for a real deadly threat. Every page is like walking along a spiders web to get to the finale, to your Knight but along the way you are unsure if at any moment you are going to either fall to your doom or be captured by the spider in search of her dinner.

This will probably sound a wee bit odd, but at times I was so wrapped up in the story that I forgot I was reading a romance. Usually, you know that the characters are going to have their happily ever after, and all will be well once they have got past their own issues, but here the question of whether or not they would actually allow the other in was constant, it kept me glued. I was completely taken in with them, I loved getting to know Aliette and Reynold as individuals and as a couple, they are fabulous!

I think you may be able to guess how much I loved this book, I could keep whittling on and on about how amazing, seductive, tantalizing this book is, but I really don’t want to sound like a broken record, I’ll just finish with – Read This Book!!!

This was an Arc copy via the author, which I voluntarily reviewed, thank you, Nicole, massive apologies for how late this review is.

Her Dark Knight’s Redemption is available now, do go and grab a copy!

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Link

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Exclusive Guest Post

Top Ten Things About Reynold of Warstone by Nicole Locke

  1. He’s hot, and the writer who wrote about him couldn’t put it in the story often enough for her liking.
  2. He’s actually in three of the Lovers and Legends series, and she’s writing about him in her current novel as well…just to prove her point she thinks he’s hot.
  3. He’s a villain in pretty much all the stories whether the reader knows it or not. The entire series of #LoversandLegends has been a game to him. However, in Her Dark Knight, he gets to be a lover and a legend (lol).
  4. Reynold knows torture. Not only can he dish it out, but he’s got this really evil mother who likes her sons to prove their loyalty to her by holding their left hand over an open flame. This scar in his hand is why the heroine, Helissent, in The Knight’s Scarred Maiden thought she could talk some sense into him to not be so villainy (he’s scarred, she’s scarred…they could share). Of course, he wouldn’t bond with some gentle baker who lusted after his enemy, but can’t blame a woman for trying.
  5. He’s got three brothers. He’s glad one of them was killed (saved him the mess and made him wealthier). He’s making plans to kill the other two. After all, it’s them again him…and he’s far too arrogant to think anyone else deserves to live more than him.
  6. He speaks several languages and loves to read anything he can get his hands on. If he can’t find something, he has books commissioned for him. His favourite book is Tales of Odysseus. If asked, he’ll tell you he likes the adventures, but in truth, the part that intrigues him is Odysseus’ need to return to Penelope and Penelope’s devotion to Odysseus. His parents would kill each other if given the chance, but something of this tale makes him long for something other than the games he plays.
  7. He waits in shadows and darkness. It’s all part of his game so he can observe his next prey without being observed. It often surprises and unnerves people, but the writer thinks the habit is part of his charm.
  8. He’s really rich. He’s inherited a ton, stolen even more and he’s stashed the money all over England and France. Some of his cache is in Mei Solis, the home of Nicholas and Matilda from Reclaimed by the Knight. He spreads his coins around so that he’s never without in case his brothers’ back him in a corner.
  9. There truly was only ever going to be one heroine for a man like him: Aliette. She’s uneducated (but loves stories). Doesn’t have a family (so she’s adopted people..a little tidbit she keeps as a secret). Doesn’t have coin or food or truly any proper clothing. In fact, she lives on the streets. And one thing she cannot stand is waiting. Who has time for dilly dallying or games?
  10. So when Reynold captures Aliette and blackmails her to play his game? He doesn’t stand a chance of winning. Good thing he’s so cute.

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About the Author

Nicole discovered her first romance novel in a closet, where her grandmother, the godmother in the romance black market, was hiding hundreds. Knowing her grandmother wouldn’t approve, Nicole hid in the closet to read them. It was only a matter of time before she was found out and given an offer she couldn’t refuse: enjoy them, but out in the living room please. Oh, and if she could go to the store and get a few more…. A few more? Nicole got two jobs.

Inexplicably, Nicole stopped reading romances (she blames her handsome university English professor, who she was trying and failing to impress). So she didn’t discover them again until, at work, where another black market book swap occurred. Instead of swapping for another forgettable book, Nicole chose a romance (which she still reads).

Needless to say, she didn’t return to work (good thing it was after 5:00 pm) and she didn’t immediately return home either. At that moment, she insists Etta James was singing “At Last”. It was only natural she’d start writing romances as well.

Currently, she lives in Seattle with her two completely opposite children, who if not for their birth certificates and their red hair, she’d argue they weren’t related, and her husband, who if not for his red hair, would have returned them.

Website / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads / Facebook

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Giveaway

I have the most amazing Giveaway for your all, Nicole has so generously donated a print copy of Her Dark Knights Redemption and a pair of Odyssey Book Earrings – which, I have a pair of these earrings and they are absolutely gorgeous – for one lucky winner!

How to Enter?

To be in for a chance of winning this amazing prize, then just tell me who your favourite Badboy/Lovable Rogue is (This can be from a book, tv or film) Mine is below, to some, it isn’t a surprise, as always pictures and gifs are welcome!

The giveaway is not only open here, but across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook too, same rules apply; just like the giveaway post and comment with your answer. (Each post you comment on is a separate entry, eg; If you comment here and on all the social media posts then that is four entries) Sharing is also hugely appreciated, but not mandatory.

Finally, Good Luck my Sunshines!

*T&C’s – Closing date is Wednesday 15th January at 9pm GMT, the winner will be chosen at random and will be announced shortly after, the winner will be contacted directly by myself whether that be by email or DM via Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. This Giveaway belongs to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals and it is not sponsored or endorsed. Giveaway Open Internationally.

#BlogTour | The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Vol. III by Collins Hemingway #TheMarriageOfMissJaneAusten #GuestPost #HFVBTBlogtour @austenmarriage @hfvbt

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Hello, my Festive Sunshines! I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this wonderful blog tour for; The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen by Collins Hemingway. Not only will I be telling you all about this book, but I have an exclusive guest post by Collins, which is so good, plus a giveaway. So, grab a cuppa and enjoy!

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Vol. III by Collins Hemingway

Publication Date: November 4, 2017
Format: eBook & Paperback; 338 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

 

The Stunning Finale to Jane Austen’s Saga

In the moving conclusion to “The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen,” Jane and her husband struggle with the serious illness of their son, confront a bitter relationship with the aristocratic family who were once their friends and face the horrific prospect of war when the British Army falters on the continent. The momentous events of the Napoleonic wars and the agonizing trials of their personal lives take Jane and Ashton to a decision that will decide their fate—and her future—once and for all.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

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Praise for The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Series

Hemingway again displays his notable ability to recreate time and place, moving on from the heady days of Jane Austen’s early love to a marriage beset by difficulties and a country at war. Hemingway … vividly and authentically portrays the times. … [T]his is a lively, compelling read, [a] sobering but moving finale to Hemingway’s successful trilogy. —BlueInk Review

Immensely satisfying … Marriage is lively, compelling, and fun. … [Her] relationship with her husband Ashton still sparkles. Marriage is a lovely ode to their connection. … Hemingway has combined Austen’s humanity with her fiction and created a Jane that lives and breathes on the page. Audiences will want her to be real… It offers a wonderful, imagined alternate life for the well-loved author. —Claire Foster, Foreword Review

‘Enjoyable … an imaginative, well-researched series.’ —Kirkus Reviews

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Guest Post

What Do We Really Know of Austen’s Romantic Life? by Collins Hemmingway

If we talk on a superficial level, Jane Austen’s life is one of the best documented of any writer. She was born and raised at Steventon, Hampshire, moved to Bath (unhappily, it appears) when her father retired in 1801, and settled in 1809 in the now famous Chawton Cottage where she produced her literary masterpieces.

But what of the years between her mid-twenties to early thirties? Unlike the rest of her life, this seven-year period between 1802 and 1809 goes puzzlingly blank. About all we know is that she, her mother, and her sister shuttled around southern England looking for cheap places to live after her father died in 1805.

Jane’s beloved sister Cass destroyed virtually all her correspondence about the seven-year period, along with any journals she may have kept. For most of her life, the surviving correspondence is relatively steady at ten or so letters a year. But the 1802-09 period contains gaps of a year at a time to three-and-a-half-years at a time. From 1801 to late 1808, we have only 13 letters—not quite 2 a year. Except for an occasional passing reference to her in other people’s letters and diaries, we know very little of Jane’s whereabouts or doings for this time.

Though her family maintains she had no serious relationships, it’s this seven-year period when any romance would have occurred. There is an alleged proposal from a person she wasn’t serious about, and little else. Yet there have been rumors of at least one other man, of which little is known.

According to the family, in 1828 Cassandra saw a man who reminded her of a one-time suitor of Jane. She told her nieces Caroline and Louisa that they had met the beau on the Devonshire coast in 1801, he and Jane had fallen in love, and they were to meet again, when a proposal was expected. Instead, Jane learned that he had died. Cass says he was “pleasing and very good looking,” but never provides the man’s name.

What’s odd is that Cass does not mention this story until 1828— more than a quarter-century after it is supposed to have happened! The nieces cannot even agree about where on the Devonshire coast this romance occurs. Cassandra spreads more confusion than information about that circumstance.

Even speaking about this expected proposal, she apparently fails to mention to her nieces a proposal that Jane supposedly did receive in December 1802. Biographers dutifully recount the engagement to Harris Bigg-Wither, when (the story is) she accepted a proposal from the wealthy but boorish young man, recanted it overnight, and fled back to her parents in Bath.

This purported engagement and refusal, which would have created a scandal, does not show up in any surviving contemporaneous letters or journals by anyone who knew Jane. The event is not recorded until nearly 70 years later by one of same nieces, Caroline, who was not even alive when it supposedly occurred in 1802!

Caroline sourced the story to her mother, Mary, who died in 1843—26 years after Jane died, 41 years after the event, and 27 years before Caroline’s telling. How would Mary have recalled the exact dates, December 2-3, 1802, of a proposal involving a sister-in-law she was not close to? In her notes, Caroline references her mother’s day books—brief diaries. However, the entries say nothing of the proposal, only that Jane and Cassandra were at Steventon on those dates. The suitor lived nearby.

The proposal is recounted in the first memoir of Jane, put together by James Edward, Caroline’s older brother, with Caroline’s help. Caroline is one of the younger relatives. How is it this story is handed down by her but not by the many other older nieces and nephews? James Edward was seven years older than Caroline and was around Jane on a regular basis. He attended her funeral on behalf of his ill father. Yet he sources his younger sister for the tale of the botched proposal. Wouldn’t he have heard the story around the dining room table himself?

Both of these “romances” come across as a bit unreal. There are too many specifics in one encounter (Bigg-Wither) and far too few in another (the mysterious suitor on the beach). Were there separate romantic encounters, each one ending disastrously, or perhaps one relationship that these inconsistent stories point to—or are designed to point away from?

Austen’s family took notice of her increasing fame in the middle of the repressed Victorian era. As the memoir makes clear, her younger relatives were happy to bury any suggestion that Austen would have ever done anything untoward such as write to make a living or—fall in love. The author Virginia Woolf, in contrast, says that her last novel Persuasion proves that Austen had loved intensely and, in the last year of her life, no longer cared who knew.

One does not have to be a conspiracy theorist to envision the possibility that there may have been a very serious relationship overlooked or even hidden by her prim and proper descendants. What if Jane Austen had married? What if she had met someone very much her equal but also the sort of man a Victorian might want to lose in the mists of time?

What kind of man might that be? How would their relationship have begun? Might bits and pieces of the history be true? How would it have developed? How would it have ended? This possibility led me on a lengthy research and writing project culminating in the trilogy The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen.

My goal was to tell a tale of a meaningful relationship built upon the “understanding” Austen often writes about. I wanted to see how, as a married woman, she might have fit into the large and turbulent world of the Regency. I wanted to create a story that seriously tested a woman when everything was against her—law, society, biology. Perhaps most important, I wanted to see how the archetypal woman of the period would have handled all that marriage meant for a woman of that day.

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About the Author

Collins’ passion for literature, history, and science enable him to create complete, sharply drawn fictional characters fully engaged in their complex and often dangerous worlds. His fiction is shaped by the language of the heart and an abiding respect for courage in the face of adversity.

As a nonfiction book author, Collins has investigated topics as diverse as corporate culture and ethics; the Internet and mobile technology; the ins and outs of the retail trade; and the cognitive potential of the brain. Best known for the #1 best-selling book on business and technology, Business @ the Speed of Thought, which he co-authored with Bill Gates, he tackles challenging topics with clarity and insight, writing for the intelligent but nontechnical reader.

Born and raised in Arkansas, Collins has lived most of his adult life in the American Northwest, with a career that has spanned writing, high tech, and aviation. He has a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of Arkansas, Phi Beta Kappa; a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Oregon; and numerous technical certifications in computer technology.

For more information please visit Collins Hemingway’s website and blog. You can also find him on FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram, and Goodreads.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 16
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Tuesday, December 17
Review at Jackie and Angela’s Book Reviews

Wednesday, December 18
Review at Books and Zebras
Guest Post at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Thursday, December 19
Excerpt at Jathan & Heather
Guest Post at Library of Clean Reads

Saturday, December 21
Review & Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Friday, December 27
Review at Pencils & Pages

Saturday, December 28
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Wednesday, January 1
Review at Older & Smarter

Thursday, January 2
Review at The Book Junkie Reads

Friday, January 3
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Monday, January 6
Review at @ya.its.lit

Thursday, January 9
Excerpt at I’m All About Books

Friday, January 10
Excerpt at The Lit Bitch
Review at Peaceful Pastime

Monday, January 13
Review at Jackie & Angela’s Book Reviews

Tuesday, January 14
Review at Impressions In Ink

Thursday, January 16
Review at Amy’s Booket List

Friday, January 17
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Review & Excerpt at To Read, Or Not to Read

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Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, please use the Gleam form here – The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Vol III

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on January 17th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

#BlogTour | Entertaining Mr Pepys (The Women of Pepys’ Diary Book 3) by Deborah Swift #EntertainingMrPepys #Review #GuestPost @swiftsstory @AccentPress

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Hello my sunshines, I have the massive pleasure to be today’s stop on the amazing blog tour for; Entertaining Mr Pepys by Deborah Swift, I have a brilliant post for you all not only will I be sharing my review of this incredible book, I also have a fascinating guest post by Deborah, so settle in, grab that cuppa and enjoy.

Entertaining Mr Pepys by Deborah Swift

London 1666

Elizabeth ‘Bird’ Carpenter has a wonderful singing voice, and music is her chief passion. When her father persuades her to marry horse-dealer Christopher Knepp, she suspects she is marrying beneath her station, but nothing prepares her for the reality of life with Knepp. Her father has betrayed her trust, for Knepp cares only for his horses; he is a tyrant and a bully, and will allow Bird no life of her own.

When Knepp goes away, she grasps her chance and, encouraged by her maidservant Livvy, makes a secret visit to the theatre. Entranced by the music, the glitter and glamour of the surroundings, and the free and outspoken manner of the women on the stage, she falls in love with the theatre and is determined to forge a path of her own as an actress.

But life in the theatre was never going to be straightforward – for a jealous rival wants to spoil her plans, and worse, Knepp forbids it, and Bird must use all her wit and intelligence to change his mind.

Based on events depicted in the famous Diary of Samuel Pepys, Entertaining Mr Pepys brings London in the 17th Century to life. It includes the vibrant characters of the day such as the diarist himself and actress Nell Gwynne, and features a dazzling and gripping finale during the Great Fire Of London.

Amazon / Kobo / Waterstones

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Exclusive Guest Post

Pepys’s London by Deborah Swift

Samuel Pepys is well-known as England’s foremost diarist. In his diaries we gain an insight into London’s seventeenth century history, but his London was a different city from today’s London. For a start it was much smaller, with a

Claude de Jongh – View of London Bridg

population of about 60,000 within the walls. Another key difference was the way the River Thames cut through the city, and the fact it had only one bridge – Old London Bridge, with its teetering houses, precariously balanced above a roaring tide.

Scarcely a week goes by in the diary without Pepys mentioning travelling by boat, and there were many stops where you could alight. Wherries, small passenger craft, operated much like trains or trams, with passengers using The Thames as the main arterial route for getting about. Where the tide flowed strongly and frothed under the bridge, people often disembarked rather than ‘shoot the bridge’, a dangerous exploit that made it easier to catch another wherry further downstream than risk a ducking.

Night-time in Pepys’ London was hazardous as it was so dark. Houses were supposed to put out a brand at night to light the streets, but in the poorer areas this was frequently disobeyed. Pepys often hired a ‘link boy’ – a boy carrying a torch to light his way through the streets. Even this was not reliable, for link-boys often were paid by thieves or ‘footpads’ to lead unwary travelers into a trap.

Grub Street

The city was supposed to be locked at night by closing the gates, and then the ‘watch’ was supposed to police the curfew which went on until the morning. It was not strictly observed, with many breaking the rules. A bellman rang the bell to start and end the curfew, and also to call out the times. ‘Past one of the clock and a cold, frosty, windy morning!’ Jan 16th 1660

In this era, carrying a sword was commonplace. It was necessary as a deterrent, for thieves abounded. Mrs Pepys was a typical victim;

‘’bringing home in her coach her new ferrandin [poplin] waistcoat, in Cheapside a man asked her whether that was the away to the Tower; and while she was answering him, another on the other side snatched away her bundle out of her lap’ Jan 28th 1663

Fights in the streets were common; and in July 1664 Pepys tells us he witnessed a fight between the butchers and the weavers, who had ‘ever an old competition for mastery’. ‘At first the butchers knocked down all the weavers that had green or blue aprons, till they were fain to pull them off and put them in their breeches.’ The weavers won in the end though and ‘went triumphing, calling 100l (a hundred pounds) for a butcher.’

Great Fire Of London

The houses in Pepys’ London were the old medieval streets, many were still Elizabethan houses with jettied frontages which jutted into the road. Streets were narrow, and the overhangs made the passages gloomy and lightless even in the daytime.

This is the world Elizabeth Knepp knows and loves, but not for much longer.

For it is about to be destroyed by the biggest disaster London has ever seen – the Great Fire of London.

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This is the first I have read by Deborah Swift, I don’t know how I have gone so long without reading one of her books especially as she has been on my radar for a while now – It really is true I walk around in a bubble with my eyes closed – something which will be rectified. As soon as I got offered the chance to be apart of this tour, I couldn’t say yes fast enough, the blurb caught my attention, I was completely hooked by the blurb and the actual story itself did not disappoint.

Entertaining Mr Pepys is the third book in the ‘Women of Pepys’ Diary Series’ I didn’t actually know when I started the book that it was apart of a series, I read it as a stand-alone , not once did I feel that I was missing out on something by not reading the previous two, but since reading this one I will definitely be seeking out the other’s.

Set during the 17th Century, our heroine Elizabeth Carpenter – otherwise known as ‘Bird’ – finds out that she is to be married to a Christopher Knepp a horse trader who wants nothing more than a woman to keep the house and bear his children. Bird doesn’t see herself as a run of the mill housewife, she wants more, she has big dreams and yet she knows that, she will never be able to stay in her home and fore fill her dream here not since her father re-married and her much younger step-mother doesn’t want another woman in the house to steal the starlight, so her weak, vain and rather selfish father decides to marry her off to the first man he meets wanting a wife, who cares if he is wholly unsuitable and she is to be stuck in loveless marriage? But, she does what is expected of her – maybe this man won’t be as bad as she initially thinks him to be?

How wrong she is, he is far worse, her life takes a huge downward dip, she finds herself alone in his run-down house with a tyrannical, abusive and villainous man of a husband who treats no better then a servant, most heroines at this point would be all; woe is me and start making conversations with the resident bed bugs, but not our Bird she is resourceful, determined, she knows what she wants and she will get it no matter what. With no one but her terrible husband and the bed bugs to talk to she friends the servant; Livvy, even though she has no found a friend she still longs for more, she longs for freedom, she longs to sing. This is what struck me most about the story, that running through the plot is the need for freedom, the overall wanting to go out and just do what you love.

While her husband is away, Bird and Livvy secretly attend the theatre which really is the turning stone of her life, she is dazzled by the opulence, by the art, by the songs, by the actors on stage, she is enthralled by it all, as we readers as, it is like we are standing right beside Bird and taking in the colourful and mysterious world before us. She knows then and there that the stage beckon’s her, the only problem is her husband who forbids it.

Bird is a wonderful character, she is so determined to be an actress and thwart her abusive husband so she comes up with a brilliant plan to not only tread the boards but to finally be able to be shot of her husband too, I really won’t go too deep into the plot as I wouldn’t wish to ruin a single moment of it for you all. I will give a little warning at some of the content is at times very shocking, the abuse and domestic violence isn’t for the faint-hearted, yet it is instrumental to the story and what we need to remember is that this is how people lived in the 17th Century, this is how husbands treated their wives and that no one even batted an eyelash.

The writing really is exceptional, it is enthralling reading and exactly how a historical should be written, I was completely captivated by it all, the historical details are exquisite there is a real edge to it that grabs the readers imagination, I loved every moment of this book.

If you love your rich and powerful historical’s, then this is the book you need to read, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher and the author, which I voluntarily reviewed as apart of this blog tour, thank you, Kayleigh and Deborah

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About the Author

Deborah lives in North Lancashire on the edge of the Lake District, a beautiful area made famous by the Romantic Poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge. In the past she used to work as a set and costume designer for theatre and TV, so she enjoys the research aspect of creating historical fiction, something she loved doing as a scenographer. Each book takes about six months of research before she is ready to begin writing. More details of her research and writing process can be found on her website. Deborah likes to write about extraordinary characters set against the background of real historical events.

Twitter / Facebook / Website / Pinterest 

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Blog Tour Schedule

#GuestPost | Layer-Out Of The What? By Jeanine Englebert @JeanineWrites

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Hello my friends, I have an amazing post for you all today! I have the massive pleasure to welcome lovely historical romance author; Jeanine Englert to the blog, she is going to be sharing an amazing, exclusive guest post with you all – really, you are all going to love it. Plus she will be telling you all about her gorgeous new book; Lovely Digits, which I am currently reading and completely adoring it, you are all in for a treat. So, over to Jeanine!

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“Layer-out of the What?”

by

Jeanine Englert

This is a fairly common response from people after I tell them about my debut novel, Lovely Digits, and my quirky heroine’s profession as layer-out of the dead. It’s usually paired with a subtle lean in, small head tilt, and furrowed brow. So, lean in, tilt your head, and I’ll tell you all about a profession that used to be dominated by women, and one that drives the backdrop for my Victorian romantic suspense.

The layer-out of the dead of times past was the equivalent to today’s mortician. Preparing bodies for burial was predominantly performed by women up until the later portion of the Victorian era when mourning and all the practices that came along with it became its own business. Once men learned of the money that could be had in preparing bodies for burial and honoring the loss of loved ones, morticians became fashionable and the “business” of burying the dead was born, displacing many of the jobs previously performed by women to men. And as you may have guessed, the layer-out was well, out of fashion.

The business of dying became a consumer affair full of tradition and etiquette. Not only were there specific mourning clothes, procedures, and practices after a family member passed on, there were preparations one often made while one lived. It wasn’t uncommon for families to go without the necessities while living to ensure they had the money needed to provide a proper rather than pauper like burial for any of their family members if they died. “Burial clubs” ensured such appropriate funerals, by providing an insurance policy of sorts, to families making sure its members were cared for and provided proper funerals, when needed.

The job of preparing a body for burial had morphed into a business, one that no longer needed a simple layer-out of the dead, like my novel’s heroine, Lucy Wycliffe. But for hundreds of years before that, women had been the primary preparers and caregivers of the dead before they were seen to pass on to whatever they believed to be the next world.

Is that a nod of interest and understanding I see? I hope so. Care to get a glimpse into Lucy’s world? Then, check out an excerpt below. Thank you, Frankie, for having me on Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals today!

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About the Book

When two murders strike the sleepy Victorian town of Clun, England, an unlikely partnership forms. But can the killer be found before there is a third?


Lovely Digits is the town oddity…


But quirky spinster Lucy Wycliffe prefers to ignore gossip and embrace her position as the town’s layer out of the dead, despite how her parents’ deaths thrust her into such unlikely work. Lovely Digits, as she’s known to the local townspeople, no longer dreams of marriage, but takes pride in providing dignity to the dead. Desperate to hold on to her family’s cottage and support her widowed sister and young niece, an unexpected offer of employment as assistant to the constable arrives at the perfect time.


Former sailor John Brodie is the mysterious new constable…


But John Brodie is far from a stranger to Clun or the events of its past. Accepting the position as constable in the small town is a double edged sword meant to heal his past and redeem his future, but falling for the beautiful and intelligent Lucy Wycliffe was never part of his plan. As the killer closes in, will John reveal his secret and risk losing everything to save Lucy’s life?

Amazon / Goodreads

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Exclusive Excerpt

Clun, England

February, 1839

Old Man Codger’s frozen toe rolled across the floor toward the door.

Lord above. Mind the corner, sister,” Lucy muttered. She blew an errant curl from her cheek as they swung the man’s stiff body onto the scarred wooden table in front of the hearth. The body landed with a thud.

Blast. Lucy scanned the floor. Nothing. Where had it gone? She lifted her skirts.

There you are,” she grumbled. The rogue digit rested between the scuffed heels of her old brown boots. Using the edge of one of the sleeves of her faded blue blouse, she leaned down and clutched the rather putrid, large hairy toe and placed it on the man’s chest. Now she’d have to sew on a toe, too. A frozen toe.

Perfect.

Priscilla covered her mouth with the back of her hand and yielded a dry retch. Plugging her nose, she rolled her eyes. “There has to be another way.”

Lucy eyed her pert younger sister and sighed. At thirteen, Cil was on the cusp of womanhood. There were so many things she would miss from their parents not being there to guide her. The guilt over the death of Mother and Father a month past stung like a barb under Lucy’s skin. If only she’d arrived home at the cottage sooner instead of lingering about the forest to find her pet starling. She banished the thought away.

After tying back her hair, Lucy pushed up her sleeves to the elbow. “If there had been any other option, we’d have done it. It’s either prep him for burial or starve. It’s just us now, Cil.”

The old man’s time in the woods had not been kind to him, but at least the extreme cold had kept the insects at bay. A white milky maggot dropped from his nose to the table. Lucy shuddered. Most of them. She loathed insects, especially worms. Things that could move without legs weren’t natural.

Hand me the needle and thread.” Lucy rested her hands on her hips. “I need to get this toe sewn back on when he thaws. I’ll not be docked pay for him missing parts.”

***

About the Author

Jeanine Englert is a Golden Heart ® Finalist and Daphne du Maurier Award winner in historical romantic suspense. After years of writing in secret, she joined Romance Writers of America and Georgia Romance Writers in 2013 and has been an active member ever since. She writes Scottish Highland historicals and historical romantic suspense novels.

When she isn’t wrangling with her characters on the page, she can be found trying to convince her husband to watch her latest Masterpiece or BBC show obsession. She loves to talk about books, writing, her beloved pups, and of course mysteries with other readers on Twitter @JeanineWrites, Facebook, or at her website www.jeaninewrites.com.

Her debut novel, Lovely Digits, was released in June of 2019 by Soul Mate Publishing. It is a Victorian romantic suspense that won the 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award and was named a 2018 Golden Heart ® Finalist for best unpublished romantic suspense.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Amazon / Goodreads

#BlogTour : Listen To The Wind (The Orphans of Tolosa #1) by @Susanne_Dunlop #Review & #GuestPost #ListenToTheWind #TheOrphansOfTolosa @HFVTB

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Hello everyone! I have the great pleasure to be todays stop on this wonderful blog tour for; Listen To The Wind by Susanne Dunlap. Let me tell you that I have a mammoth post for you all today; Not only will I be sharing my review of this splendid book, I also have an exclusive guest post by Susanne for you all – and it is an amazing post and there is a chance to win a cop of Listen To The Wind. So without further ado, sit back and enjoy.

Listen to the Wind by Susanne Dunlap

Publication Date: April 22, 2019
Publisher: Bellastoria Press
Format: eBook & Paperback; 388 Pages

Series: The Orphans of Tolosa, Book 1
Genre: Historical Fiction/Medieval

 

 

Sent away from their families for their own protection when they were very young, Azemar and Azalaïs become separated when they are forced to flee from the band of outlaws who served as their supposed protectors. Armed only with scraps of memories and the wits and intelligence that have helped them survive brutal conditions, they struggle to find each other again and discover the mysterious past that links them across distance and time. Who are they? And do they hold the secret of the legendary Cathar treasure? All they know is that knights and monks spell danger, and they must find a way to survive at all costs if they are to fulfill their destiny—and preserve their vanishing culture.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound | Kobo

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Guest Post by Susanne Dunlap

One of the best things about being a historical novelist is having the opportunity to delve deeply into a period and imagine the world as it was at that time. Perhaps that’s why, in order to put in the months (or years) of researching and writing a historical novel I have to become completely passionate about my subject and my characters—real or invented.

Most of my novels have taken place in the modern world, from the 17th-20th centuries. But something about the world of thirteenth-century Languedoc caught me and simply wouldn’t let me go.

It all started in grad school. I was studying music history at Yale University, working toward a PhD, and loving every minute of the research and writing. When in the medieval seminar I found out about the women troubadours (trobairitz) of Languedoc in the 12th and 13th centuries, I was utterly intrigued. Apparently all 20 of the trobairitz historians know of came from one small region of what is now southern France, but was then its own patchwork of political entities and its own culture. They didn’t even speak French, but spoke what is now referred to as Old Occitan, and was then sometimes referred to as Lemozin.

The troubadours and trobairitz wrote courtly poetry in very complex metrical forms. The subjects were love, of course, but in the case of the trobairitz, the love was decidedly earthly. They spoke of disappointments, of unrequited love, of friendship, and passion—where the men tended to go in a more esoteric direction, making the object of their love poetry the idea of a lady rather than an actual living, breathing, woman.

So, I thought, these women who weren’t afraid to be honest must have been strong, intelligent, educated, and imaginative. What’s not to like?

Very little is known about the real lives of the trobairitz, so I found myself creating characters and a story that integrated the poetry and music, and captured the volatility of the period. Because trobairitz came from the educated upper classes, Jordane de la Moux d’Aniort, daughter of a baron, is the trobairitiz in Listen to the Wind.

The Orphans of Tolosa trilogy (of which Listen to the Wind is book one) takes place as the culture of the region is being crushed by the inquisition, which not only sought to eradicate the Cathar heretics, but to impose the legal systems of northern France and subsume the region into the territories ruled by the King of France.

Although the region is now fully part of France, a modern version of the language is still spoken, and the descendants of those fiercely independent people cling to their cultural heritage. In recognition of this heritage, what used to be known as Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrenees is (as of 2016) now referred to as Occitanie, and if you visit there, you’ll see many street signs in both French and Occitan.

It is my hope that readers will not only be drawn into the adventures of the characters in Listen to the Wind, but also appreciate the culture that inspired the story.

More historical tidbits and a glossary of Old Occitan terms featured in the book is at https://orphansoftolosa.com.

***

Well, what can I say about this book? Thrilling, engaging, illuminating and brilliantly entwined with history and a wonderfully complex story. It takes you on a real adventure through 13th Centaury France, the colourful writing makes every scene so beautifully detailed and vivid you can see it playout like a film in your mind.

I haven’t read any of Susanne Dunlap’s work before, but after reading this – or should that be; devoured – I will definitely be reading more, her writing is so imaginative and atmospheric that you become completely lost in the story and before you know it you have whiled away a full afternoon.

The story opens with siblings; Azalais and Azemar who are living in a orphanage in Tolosa, they live a happy simple life roaming around the woods and surrounding area, making up games with the other orphans abuts knights in shining armour and damsels in distress. Everything in their life is good, that is until a illness spreads throughout the area and the people who were supposed to be protecting them soon turn on them and the other orphans, thinking it them that has caused all this illness and death. The children flee for their lives and in the melee Azalais and Azemar become separated, promising to meet up.

But, all doesn’t go to plan and what should have been a simple meet each other again in the next town turns into years of uncertainty and adventure for our two youngsters. What at first appears to be a very simple story of these two young people trying to forge their way through such hardships and attempting to find one and other again, you soon realise that this is far more then that. There is a ethereal and magical quality to the story, that is both surprising and addictive reading. We soon see that there is more to these two then meets the eyes, they have secrets buried within them that even they don’t know and even though once they have separated and when they try to find their feet they are more intricately entwined to one and other then originally thought.

So when they meet again years later, which is an amazing and gorgeous scene their shared past and destined future soon becomes clear.

This is an intriguing and complex story with lots of secrets and lies interwoven within the characters personal stories, it is charming, exciting and mesmerising. Ms Dunlap’s writing is wonderfully immersive and brilliantly atmospheric, there is a real starlight quality to this book which will grab any readers attention.

Definitely a must read, I cannot wait to see what comes next in this series.

This was a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review as apart of this blog tour, thank you Susanne and Amy.

***

About the Author

Susanne Dunlap is the author of six works of historical fiction. Two are for adults (Emilie’s Voice and Liszt’s Kiss, both published by Touchstone books of Simon & Schuster). Four are for young adults (The Musician’s Daughter, Anastasia’s Secret, In the Shadow of the Lamp, and The Academie, published by Bloomsbury). A graduate of Smith College with a PhD in Music History from Yale University, Susanne grew up in Buffalo, New York and has lived in London, Brooklyn and Northampton, MA. She now lives in Northampton with her long-time partner, Charles, has two grown daughters, three granddaughters, a grandson, a stepson and a stepdaughter, four step-grandsons and one step-granddaughter—that’s a total of four children and nine grandchildren!

In her spare time she cycles in the beautiful Pioneer Valley.

For more information, please visit The Orphans of Tolosa website. You can follow author Susanne Dunlap on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, Pinterest, and BookBub.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Make sure you go back through the blog tour and check out all the blogs which have participated.

Monday, May 13
Review at Bibliophile Reviews

Tuesday, May 14
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Wednesday, May 15
Interview at Passages to the Past

Thursday, May 16
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Friday, May 17
Review at Bookish Sarah
Review at Comet Readings
Feature at What Is That Book About

Monday, May 20
Review & Guest Post at Clarissa Reads it All
Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Tuesday, May 21
Feature at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Wednesday, May 22
Feature at Just One More Chapter

Thursday, May 23
Interview at Donna’s Book Blog

Friday, May 24
Review at Passages to the Past

Monday, May 27
Review at Macsbooks
Feature at The Lit Bitch

Tuesday, May 28
Review at Coffee and Ink
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review & Guest Post at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

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Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away one copy of Listen to the Wind by Susanne Dunlap! To enter, please use the Gleam form here – Listen to the Wind

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

#BlogTour : The Catherine Howard Conspiracy (The Marquess House Trilogy #1) by Alexandra Walsh #Review & #GuestPost @purplemermaid25 #TheCatherineHowardConspiracy @SapereBooks

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Hello my lovely readers, I have the great pleasure to be today’s stop on this wonderful blog tour for The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh, and I have an amazing post for you all to get stuck into. Not only sharing with you my review of the fabulous book, but I also have an exclusive to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals guest post from Alexandra for you all – and it is a doozy! So, grab yourselves a cuppa and tuck in.

The Catherine Howard Conspiracy

The Catherine Howard Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh

A timeshift thriller that will have you completely gripped! Perfect for fans of Dan Brown, Philippa Gregory, Kate Mosse and Tom Harper.

What secrets were covered up at the court of Henry VIII …?

Whitehall Palace, England, 1539

When Catherine Howard arrives at the court of King Henry VIII to be a maid of honour in the household of the new queen, Anne of Cleves, she has no idea of the fate that awaits her.

Catching the king’s fancy, she finds herself caught up in her uncle’s ambition to get a Howard heir to the throne.

Terrified by the ageing king after the fate that befell her cousin, Anne Boleyn, Catherine begins to fear for her life…

Pembrokeshire, Wales, 2018

Dr Perdita Rivers receives news of the death of her estranged grandmother, renowned Tudor historian Mary Fitzroy.

Mary inexplicably cut all contact with Perdita and her twin sister, Piper, but she has left them Marquess House, her vast estate in Pembrokeshire.

Perdita sets out to unravel their grandmother’s motives for abandoning them, and is drawn into the mystery of an ancient document in the archives of Marquess House, a collection of letters and diaries claiming the records of Catherine Howard’s execution were falsified…

What truths are hiding in Marquess House? What really happened to Catherine Howard?

And how was Perdita’s grandmother connected to it all?

THE CATHERINE HOWARD CONSPIRACY is the first book in the Marquess House trilogy, a dual timeline conspiracy thriller with an ingenious twist on a well-known period of Tudor history.

Available at Amazon

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About The Author

From tales spun for her teddies when she was a child (usually about mermaids) to film scripts, plays and novels, Alexandra Walsh has always been a storyteller. Words are her world. For over 25 years, she has been a journalist writing for a wide range of publications including national newspapers and glossy magazines. She spent some years working in the British film industry, as well as in television and radio: researching, advising, occasionally presenting and always writing.

Books dominate Alexandra’s life. She reads endlessly and tends to become a bit panicky if her next three books are not lined up and waiting. Characters, places, imagery all stay with her and even now she finds it difficult to pass an old wardrobe without checking it for a door to Narnia. As for her magical letter when she was 11, she can only assume her cat caught the owl!

Alexandra’s other passion is history, particularly the untold tales of women. Whether they were queens or paupers, their voices resonate with their stories, not only about their own lives but about ours, too. The women of the Tudor court have inspired her novels. Researching and writing The Marquess House Trilogy (Book One: The Catherine Howard Conspiracy) has brought together her love of history, mysteries and story telling.

Website / Twitter

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The Queen In Isolation by Alexandra Walsh

When I began the story that has become The Marquess House Trilogy, my first plan was to write it as one tale. However, as the plot grew and the sheer amount of historical detail required to make the story flow became apparent, I braced myself for a longer task and, perhaps, two books. Again though, my optimistic hopes were dashed and suddenly, it was a trilogy.

Why the surprise at this, you may ask? Well, it’s because my starting point with this series was not Catherine Howard, it was Elizabeth Tudor, my favourite historical person, and I had thought Catherine would be a minor character. Catherine Howard, however, was having none of it and quickly stepped forward from the myriad historical women wandering around my head to make it clear that book one was all about her – The Catherine Howard Conspiracy. Who was I to argue?

As she became the focus of some intense research, her story laying itself before me, my protectiveness of this much maligned young woman grew. It was not until I was immersed in her world though, that one thing struck me, something which my main protagonist, Dr Perdita Rivers, mentions: Catherine Howard is always portrayed as being alone. As I learned more about the teenage queen, I found this a problematic presentation of her.

The perpetual image of the tragic teenager is as a naïve orphan who was easily led astray by more powerful men and women preying upon her innocence. You can almost feel the moustache-twirling, Victorian-esque villain hovering just off the page waiting to lead the poor fainting damsel into disaster. The wicked harridan sizing her up as a potential meal ticket as she encouraged Catherine into lewd and boisterous behaviour with the wrong sort of men. Yet, if you look a little more closely, this myth is soon banished and a very different view of Catherine emerges.

It is true that Catherine was an orphan. Her mother, Jocasta Culpeper died in 1528 and her father, Lord Edmund Howard, 11 years later in 1539, only eight months before Catherine was summoned to court to be a Maid of Honour to Anne of Cleves. However, Catherine Howard was one of 11 children. Five of her siblings were full brothers and sisters: Henry Howard, Sir Charles Howard, Sir George Howard, Margaret Howard and Mary Howard. While five were half siblings from her mother’s, first marriage to Sir Ralph Leigh: John Leigh, Ralph Leigh, Isabel Leigh, Joyce Leigh and Margaret Leigh.

Even more surprising are her step-siblings: Edmund Howard married twice more, giving Catherine two step-mothers. His second wife was Dorothy Troyes, and after her death in 1530 he married Margaret Mundy. Both women were widows with children. Dorothy Troyes was mother to eight: Arthur, John, William, Richard, Francis, Agnes, Anne and another unnamed daughter, while Margaret had three children: Bernard, Juliana and Anna. A total of 11 step-siblings. Not quite the isolation suggested in most biographies.

The reason I’ve chosen to highlight this point is because while I was considering how best to portray Catherine, the discovery of siblings gave me a clue to her personality. To be surrounded by so many relations destroys the Victorian suggestion of the vulnerable orphan making her way in the world. If she had so many siblings, people with whom you can always be yourself (I’m one of seven, some step-siblings, some not, I understand), there is always someone to turn to in times of trouble. You may not always get on with your siblings but when times are hard, no matter how much you’ve squabbled over the last slice of cake, there is usually someone who is willing to fight your corner.

Being part of a large family also teaches you skills which would have been invaluable at the Tudor court. You learn to develop a thick skin, you understand about power plays (I refer you back to the last-slice-of-cake scenario), you learn how to, both, stand out and blend in with the crowd depending on which is going to protect you from the most trouble, you learn how to defend yourself and you know when to back down and forgive. While the broadness of the age range between the siblings suggests Catherine did not live with all the entire 22 at any one time, she would certainly have spent a portion of her childhood with a varying crowd of brothers, sisters, half-brothers, half-sisters, step-brothers and step-sisters. Life was probably noisy, chaotic and fun, even with the limitations placed on women in Tudor times.

When she became Henry VIII’s fifth queen, at least two of her sisters were with her as ladies-in-waiting: Lady Isabel Baynton nee Leigh and Margaret Arundell nee Howard. One of her brother’s Charles Howard became engaged to Lady Margaret Douglas, the king’s niece. Charles was also a member of the king’s bedchamber, while another brother, George, was also at court. It is likely more of the extended Howard, Leigh, Troyes and Mundy gang were there, too. Possibly not in positions of power but enjoying the reflected glory of Catherine’s reign.

It seems unlikely that they would all have abandoned her the moment she slipped from Henry’s favour. Again, I suspect the influence of the Victorian view of events, not to mention the old-fashioned male view of how they thought women behaved towards each other. Despite what they may have assumed, women are not generally out to get each other. It is more likely her sisters would have done their best to help, even if their power was limited due to their status as women.

The joy of writing historical fiction is that I can take these facts and spin them around to create a new version of events. I can guess her reactions, I can imagine myself into Catherine’s world and try to see things from her perspective. It also helped that I have a 15-year-old niece and I imagined her reaction to Catherine’s situation – a top show of bravado as she is thrown into a situation way above her capabilities, her, perhaps, foolish behaviour a cover for her fear and doubt.

We will never know what really happened, what Catherine felt and how she managed to face her death with such courage. We can only guess from the documents that have been left behind, examine the clues and the reactions of the people around her. I hope that by putting her back into the context of her family, Catherine becomes more human again, no longer the isolated child and we must hope that when we re-imagine her personality and tell her tale, that we have done her story justice.

***

Chicks Rogues and Scandals Review

Oh, my this is good! What an introduction to this author, this is an amazing book that will have shackle you to your chair until the very last word, I can guarantee that this will be devoured by again and again. I absolutely loved the premise of this, I have a soft spot for time-slip stories when done properly they can change your whole view on what you love to read and this is one of the best I’ve read. Ms Walsh has a real gift as a narrator, she has meticulously entwined an out of this world great piece of fiction with a bit of history, thrilling plot line and amazing character’s who you will be rooting for from day one.

The book opens in 1539 and from that brief chapter set during the court of Henry VIII where innocent and young Catherine Howard, has just been appointed the newest maid to honour new Queen Anne of Cleves. Let me tell you that this opening is gripping, it had me hooked with the undercurrent of danger that surrounds Catherine. I won’t say too much, other than this is how you grab hold of your reader from the off.

Fast Forward to 2018 where historian archaeologist Perdita is currently working at a dig that has unearthed a part of the Armada when she get some news that changes her life forever. Her grand mother has passed away and she has left everything, her multi-billion pond estate to Perdita and her twin sister Piper. But, it’s not all there is a secret luring deep in their history one that will bring danger in to their lives if ever revealed.

Honestly, there is so much going on in this book I daren’t go into too much detail with my review, I wouldn’t wish to spoil this book and the start of this new series for others but I will say that there are aspects to it’s that just blew my mind, I was literally reading and then I’d be like “Whoah, did that really just happen?”.

There is something very magical about this book, it’s imaginative with it’s duel timeline and various inter-twining factors from past to present and that mix of fact and fiction so seamlessly and beautifully done. It’s gripping and classy!

If you want a thrilling and intriguing time-split story with the feel of Dan Brown you really want to read this one. I was completely and utterly gripped by it, I love the time-split with it’s duel storyline that were interlinked together.

Overall this is an astounding start to what I know is going to be an impressive and brilliantly addictive series, think Dan Brown and Kate Mosse and you will have an inkling of just how glorious this is. It’s stylish, smart as a whip, engaging, thrilling, atmospheric, clever, magical – I could go on. It really is a must read for any who loves their thrillers with an extra oomph!

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review as apart of this blog tour, thank you Caoimhe!

***

Do have a look at the other blogs which are participating in the great blog tour.

#Exclusive Guest Post : The Truth About Love And Dog’s; The Cover by Lilly Bartlett @MicheleGormanUK #GuestPost #TheTruthAboutLoveAndDogs

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black twist pen on notebook
Photo by Mohammad Danish on Pexels.com

Hello my lovelies, Today I have a brilliant guest post for you to feast your eyes over, from the utterly charming Michele Gorman aka; Lilly Bartlett. Lilly is here chatting all about her new book; The Truth About Love and Dogs and the difference in US and UK covers. So, I will hand you over to Lilly…

The Cover by Lilly Bartlett.

How often do you pick up a book because of the cover? I do it all the time. It’s what makes me take the time to look at the description, read the first few paragraphs, and, if I like all that I see, decide to buy it.

So, is it any wonder that covers cause us authors so much angst? They might even make us more nervous than writing the book itself. That’s because writing is an evolutionary process. It takes months to do, plus there are many rounds of editing. But the cover is the instant, one-and-only first impression your book will make. It’s like getting ready for a first date with someone that you really really want to impress! You’ve only got one chance.

Every single author I know holds her breath when that email comes through from the publisher saying “Here’s the cover art and we hope you’ll love it as much as we do.”

So here it is: my one chance. These are the two covers we’ve chosen to make a first impression for The Truth About Love and Dogs.

What do you think? They’re very different from one another, aren’t they? That’s because tastes in romcom covers in the UK are so different from preferences in the US.

For the US cover – the basket of pups – we wanted something fun and eye-catching that conveys the book’s tone rather than the story exactly. Publishers go for the look and feel more than an image that literally tells you what the story is about (that’s the job of the title and the description). There are pugs in the book, by the way!

The UK cover might have a very different look, but its tone is the same. There, we wanted to project a cover the reader can fall into, with intriguing groupings of people that provoke curiosity.

I always ask my Facebook friends and newsletter followers for their feedback about my proposed covers, and the US readers mostly go for a photographic cover while UK readers love the illustrated ones. Does that hold true for you? Which do you like better?

Whichever cover grabs you most, I hope you’ll love the story inside!

Happy reading!

Lilly xo

About The Book 

Four little words, uttered by her husband…
‘Oh my god,’ he gasped into her shoulder. ‘Shannon!’
There’s just one problem: her name isn’t Shannon.

Rewind six months and Scarlett and Rufus aren’t in the honeymoon stage anymore so much as the honey-should-we-bother phase. Desperate to get their sparkle back, Scarlett has plotted, planned and waxed more than any woman should have to, but none of it is working. Which makes it very hard to start the family they want.

At least her business is going strong, even if her marriage isn’t. She and her best friend spend their days tangled up in dog leads and covered in fur. Scarlett/ is the fairy dogmother, training hopeless pets like compulsive eater Barkley, impulsive Romeo Murphy and bossy Biscuit. Meanwhile, her best friend walks the dogs and pines for the man who doesn’t know she exists. Thank goodness the women have each other.

If only Scarlett could work out how to get her marriage back on track. But Rufus isn’t sharing his feelings with her. He is, though, sharing with her best friend. Her best friend, Shannon.

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About The Author

Michele Gorman Author
Michele Gorman/ Lilly Bartlett

Michele writes books packed with heart and humour, best friends and girl power. Call them beach books, summer reads, romantic comedy or chick lit… readers and reviewers call them “feel good”, “thought-provoking” and “laugh out loud”. She is both a Sunday Times and a USA Today bestselling author, raised in the US and living in London with her husband. She is very fond of naps, ice cream and Richard Curtis films.

Michele also writes cosy chick lit under the pen-name Lilly Bartlett. Lilly’s books are full of warmth, romance, quirky characters and guaranteed happily-ever-afters.

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