Exclusive Guest Post

The Boy King by Janet Wertman | #BlogTour #TheBoyKing #GuestPost #HFVBTBlogTours | @JaneTheQuene @hfvbt  

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Hello, Sunshines, I hope you are all well? I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this brilliant blog tour for; The Boy King by Janet Wertman. I am super excited to be sharing this book and an exclusive guest post with you all. I do hope you love it as much as I do, firstly I want to say thank you to Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tours for the invite to this tour. Now let’s have a look at this book…


Publication Date: September 30, 2020

Format: Paperback & eBook; 374 pages

Series: The Seymour Saga, Book 3

Genre: Historical Fiction/Biographical

The Unsuspecting Reign of Edward Tudor

Motherless since birth and newly bereft of his father, Henry VIII, nine-year-old Edward Tudor ascends to the throne of England and quickly learns that he cannot trust anyone, even himself.

Edward is at first relieved that his uncle, the new Duke of Somerset, will act on his behalf as Lord Protector, but this consolation evaporates as jealousy spreads through the court. Challengers arise on all sides to wrest control of the child king, and through him, England.

While Edward can bring frustratingly little direction to the Council’s policies, he refuses to abandon his one firm conviction: that Catholicism has no place in England. When Edward falls ill, this steadfast belief threatens England’s best hope for a smooth succession: the transfer of the throne to Edward’s very Catholic half-sister, Mary Tudor, whose heart’s desire is to return the realm to the way it worshipped in her mother’s day.


Guest Post by Janet Wertman

I love that Chicks, Rogues and Scandals is one of the stops on this blog tour – because even though my main protagonist is too young for any of these himself, there were a few around him!

The Boy King is the third and final book in my Seymour Saga trilogy, the story of the unlikely dynasty that shaped the Tudor era. It takes its name from what people called Edward VI, who came to the throne at age nine and left it six years later, betrayed by his own body after being betrayed by people he should have been able to trust. One of these was his uncle, Thomas Seymour, best known for marrying Henry VIII’s widow a scandalously short time after the king’s death, then behaving inappropriately with Elizabeth Tudor under his pregnant wife’s nose, then killing Edward’s dog while trying to kidnap him. I’ll skip the other betrayals and let you read them directly – much as I don’t believe there are really “spoiler alerts” in historical fiction, I have a slightly different take on the implications of the events and the underlying emotions!

Edward’s reign has been ignored – there are few biographies and no novels covering it (though Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper comes close – with a story that ended on Edward’s accession). The stories from these years are typically bundled into stories of the men who surrounded the King and wielded (or tried to seize) the power they pretended belonged to him. It is a shame, because this little boy deserves a voice – he has a compelling story that deserves to be told.

Mary Tudor, Edward’s sister who went on to become Mary I, is a second point-of-view character so this is her story as well. Far too innocent and straight-laced for scandal, Mary provides an amazing reality check and counterpoint to the manipulation going on in Edward’s court. (This also lets me lay the groundwork for my NEXT trilogy, the first book of which covers the years of her reign…there are a lot of chicks, rogues, and scandals there so I hope you’ll consider having me back!).

*Note from Frankie | Chicks, Rogues and Scandals – Your very welcome at the blog at any time, Janet. It was a pleasure!

About the Author

Janet Ambrosi Wertman grew up within walking distance of three bookstores and a library on Manhattan’s Upper West Side – and she visited all of them regularly. Her grandfather was an antiquarian bookdealer who taught her that there would always be a market for quirky, interesting books. He was the one who persuaded Janet’s parents to send her to the French school where she was taught to aspire to long (grammatically correct) sentences as the hallmark of a skillful writer. She lived that lesson until she got to Barnard College. Short sentences were the rule there. She complied. She reached a happy medium when she got to law school – complicated sentences alternating with short ones in a happy mix.

Janet spent fifteen years as a corporate lawyer in New York, she even got to do a little writing on the side (she co-authored The Executive Compensation Answer Book, which was published by Panel Publishers back in 1991). But when her first and second children were born, she decided to change her lifestyle. She and her husband transformed their lives in 1997, moving to Los Angeles and changing careers. Janet became a grantwriter (and will tell anyone who will listen that the grants she’s written have resulted in more than $30 million for the amazing non-profits she is proud to represent) and took up writing fiction.

There was never any question about the topic of the fiction: Janet has harbored a passion for the Tudor Kings and Queens since her parents let her stay up late to watch the televised Masterpiece Theatre series (both The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Elizabeth R) when she was *cough* eight years old. One of the highlights of Janet’s youth was being allowed to visit the Pierpont Morgan Library on a day when it was closed to the public and examine (though not touch!) books from Queen Elizabeth’s personal library and actual letters that the young Princess Elizabeth (technically Lady Elizabeth…) had written.

The Boy King is third book in the Seymour Saga, the story of the unlikely dynasty that shaped the Tudor era. The first book, Jane the Quene, tells the story of Jane Seymour’s marriage to Henry VIII; and The Path to Somerset, chronicles Edward Seymour’s rise after Jane’s death to become Lord Protector of England and Duke of Somerset (taking us right through Henry’s crazy years). Janet is currently working on a new trilogy about Elizabeth, and preparing to publish her translation of a nineteenth century biography of Henry. And because you can never have too much Tudors in your life, Janet also attends book club meetings and participates in panels and discussions through History Talks!, a group of historical novelists from Southern California who work with libraries around the state.


Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 19 – Review at Pursuing Stacie / Feature at I’m All About Books / Review at WTF Are You Reading?

Tuesday, October 20 –  Review at Amy’s Booket List

Wednesday, October 21- Review at Rajiv’s Reviews / Interview at Novels Alive

Thursday, October 22 – Review at Donna’s Book Blog

Friday, October 23 – Review at Books and Zebras / Feature at What Is That Book About

Saturday, October 24 – Excerpt at The Caffeinated Bibliophile

Sunday, October 25 – Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Monday, October 26 – Review at Books, Cooks, Looks

Tuesday, October 27 – Guest Post at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Wednesday, October 28 – Review at Impressions In Ink

Thursday, October 29 – Review at A Books and a Latte


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a copy of The Boy King by Janet Wertman! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on October 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Boy King

The Lost Diary of Alexander Hamilton by Sophie Schiller | #BlogTour #TheLostDiaryofAlexanderHamilton #HFVBTBlogTours #GuestPost | @SophieSchiller @HFVBT

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Hello, Sunshines, I have the massive pleasure to be today’s stop on the blog tour for; The Lost Diary of Alexander Hamilton by Sophie Schiller. I cannot wait to share this book with you all, plus I have an amazing exclusive guest post, I hope you love it as much as I do. Firstly, thank you to Amy at HFVBT for the invitation to join this blog tour.

The Lost Diary of Alexander Hamilton by Sophie Schiller

Publication Date: July 3, 2020
Publisher: Tradewinds Publishing

Genre: YA/US Colonial & Revolutionary Period/Historical Fiction



The story of Alexander Hamilton’s lost childhood in the Caribbean—a land of sugar plantations and slavery—where an impoverished orphan must learn to survive despite impossible odds. It is a story of struggle, heartbreak, resilience, and ultimately, triumph.

1765. Alexander Hamilton arrives in St. Croix with his family to begin a new life. He longs for the chance to go to school and fit in, but secrets from his mother’s past threaten to tear his family apart. When he sees a young African slave being tortured, Alexander vows to act. He urges his uncle to buy Ajax and promises to set him free. But tragedy strikes when his father abandons the family and his mother dies of yellow fever. Orphaned and alone, Alex is forced to survive by his wits and resourcefulness. By day he works in a counting house learning the secrets of foreign trade. By night he studies Plutarch and dreams of fame and glory. When Ajax is sold to a brutal planter, Alex vows to save him, even at the risk of his own life. With the aid of a reluctant slave-catcher, he concocts a plan to rescue Ajax, but when the price for helping a slave run away is torture or death, no one is safe.

In this gripping tale, Sophie Schiller re-creates the boyhood of the young man who would grow up to become a Founding Father and one of America’s foremost men.

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“The Lost Diary of Alexander Hamilton is a wonderful read… The musical “Hamilton” has brought the impact of this man in the founding of America sharply into our consciousness. But what author Sophie Schiller has skillfully done here is to take what little is known about Alexander’s early life and fashion a fictional story around his upbringing that fleshes out the boy that would become the man. I can highly recommend this read.” – Grant Leishman for Reader’s Favorite (5 star review)

“The Lost Diary of Alexander Hamilton is the kind of story that helps to restore faith in mankind. It helps to illustrate that, while there are those who are evil, who care not for their fellow man, there are also those willing to put their lives on the line for others. Author Sophie Schiller’s story of Alexander Hamilton shows him to be such a man. In these days when it seems that so little history is taught, and when the veracity of much of what is taught is questionable, this is the kind of story that those both young and old would do well to read.” Patricia Reding for Reader’s Favorite (5 star review)


The Amazing, Forgotten Story of Alexander Hamilton’s Boyhood in the Caribbean

By Sophie Schiller

As a young child growing up in St. Thomas, I had heard stories about Alexander Hamilton’s boyhood in St. Croix. I learned about the triangular trade in school, and about the importance of sugar cane and rum. Occasionally, I would stumble upon wild cotton bushes growing near my Northside home, evidence of a once-flourishing plantation. Sugar mills dotted the landscape, contrasting sharply against the pristine blue sea and the lush green hills. Each sector of the island was named after an “Estate”, which I later learned was a plantation. Sometimes I would find Danish and Dutch pottery peeking out of the dirt. One time, after heavy rains, my class stumbled upon a cache of old Danish coins that dated back to the colonial era, back to the days of tall sailing ships. History is at your fingertips in the West Indies. I drank it in like a thirsty sailor, and fell in love with it.

Caption: Estate Grange figured prominently in Hamilton’s childhood. His mother, aunt, and grandmother lived here, and his mother was buried here.

In those days, the airport in St. Croix was still named after Hamilton. But with the waning years, his popularity faded. His old house on Company Street in Christiansted was reduced to rubble, the trading firm where he worked no longer existed, and the memory of his life in St. Croix was lost in the sands of time.

That is, until the musical “Hamilton” became a smash hit on Broadway.

By that time, I was a busy writer with both feet planted firmly in the Edwardian era. I had no desire to write about plantation slavery in the 18th century or the triangular trade. Those were painful subjects to write about. My entire class was glued to the miniseries “Roots” in the 1970’s and some of those scenes were downright painful and uncomfortable to watch. No, I was much more comfortable working in the modern era.

The Christiansted wharf, where Hamilton spent most of his boyhood.

That is, until April of 2016 when I was approached by a gentleman from St. Croix who asked me to write a novel about Hamilton’s childhood in St. Croix, to draw more attention to the island. Since I considered the gentleman a visionary, I accepted his challenge. And soon I began delving into the task of researching and writing about Alexander Hamilton’s forgotten boyhood in the Caribbean.

My research took me to Christiansted, to all the streets he would have walked. I visited the fort, where his mother, Rachel Fawcett, had once been imprisoned, to the Danish West India and Guinea Company Warehouse, where slave auctions had been held, and the Scale House, where great bales of merchandise were weighed. I visited the Governor’s Mansion, a breathtaking example of 18th century Colonial Danish architecture. I strolled past stately mansions, ruined greathouses, ancient cisterns and abandoned brick ovens, imagining what life was like back in the 1760’s and 1770’s. There are still many fine examples of West Indian-style villas similar to the one his mother would have lived and worked in.

During the time I spend on St. Croix, my research took me on a journey of the mind, to a time when sailors and planters cavorted with smugglers and wenches, where slaves and free Africans mingled to form a bustling, cosmopolitan town in the Caribbean Sea, where great sums of money changed hands. Where fortunes were made and lost. Where smuggling and free trade flourished under the nose of the Danish King. Where skippers and agents bribed customs officials with sacks of gold and helped the fledgling American Republic break free of Britain’s rule. Where the English cheered when news of the Stamp Revolt broke out on the neighboring islands of St. Kitts and Nevis. Where men, women, and children were carted across the sea and sold at auction like cattle. All of this happened before the eyes of Alexander Hamilton. This is the world he grew up in, and it was the world I wanted to recreate. I wanted the reader to experience life in a tropical sugar colony—with all its glories and woes—with as much detail as I could muster. What I found was a boy who displayed enormous resilience in the face of all odds, a boy who displayed the kind of courage reserved for the great Roman and Greek statesmen, a boy who would forge a new path for himself and in so doing, forge a new nation. I believe the world of Alexander Hamilton still exists somewhere—if not in the recesses of my imagination, than at least in the pages of my book.

The Lost Diary of Alexander Hamilton by Sophie Schiller ($8.50, Tradewinds Publishing) is out now.


About the Author

Sophie Schiller was born in Paterson, NJ and grew up in the West Indies. She is a novelist and a poet. She loves stories that carry the reader back in time to exotic and far-flung locations. Kirkus Reviews has called her “an accomplished thriller and historical adventure writer.” Her novel, ISLAND ON FIRE was published by Kindle Scout in 2018 and was called, “A memorable romantic thriller” by Publishers Weekly. Her latest novel, THE LOST DIARY OF ALEXANDER HAMILTON, is out now. She graduated from American University, Washington, DC and lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 7
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Tuesday, September 8
Review at Momfluenster

Wednesday, September 9
Review at Books and Zebras

Thursday, September 10
Guest Post at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Friday, September 11
Review at YA, It’s Lit

Saturday, September 12
Review at A Darn Good Read

Monday, September 14
Review at Books, Cooks, Looks
Review at History + Fiction + Adirondack Spirit

Tuesday, September 15
Excerpt at The Caffeinated Bibliophile

Wednesday, September 16
Review at Passages to the Past

Thursday, September 17
Interview at Passages to the Past

Saturday, September 19
Review at Reading is My Remedy



During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of The Lost Diary of Alexander Hamilton + a $10 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky winner! To enter, please use the Gleam form here – The Lost Diary of Alexander Hamilton

The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on September 19th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

#BlogTour | The Rose And The Whip by Jae Hodges | #TheRoseAndTheWhip #GuestPost #HFVBTBlogTours | @HodgesJae @HFVBT

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Hello, sunshines, thank you for stopping by! I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this brilliant blog tour; The Rose and the Whip by Jae Hodges. Not only will I be sharing this book with you all, but I also have an amazing guest post, I hope you love it as much as I do.

The Rose and the Whip by Jae Hodges

Publication Date: March 25, 2020
Publisher: WordCrafts Press
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, & eBook; 252 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction



Lidia Wardell walked naked through the Newbury meeting house. She was prosecuted, and publicly whipped for this crime.

This event is common historical knowledge. The Rose and the Whip is set in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in May 1663, but tells the entire story of systematic persecution of dissenters, by dissenters. Lidia relates the story of her life, and the series of events that culminated in her decision to take this action in protest of the Puritan community leaders’ treatment of Quakers. As she is charged, sentenced, and tied to the whipping post, then subsequently thrashed with twenty or thirty lashes, she critically examines each of these events and reflects on how they served to transform her and her perspectives on truth and faith.

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Guest Post

The Poetry, The Rose and The Whip by Jae Hodges

The Rose and the Whip follows the punishment of Lidia Wardell for walking naked through the Newbury Meeting-house in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in protest of the Puritan treatment of Quaker women in 1663. As she is tied to the whipping post, and lashed with thirty cruel stripes, Lidia recalls the events leading up to her decision to voice her discontent in this way. Following her punishment, the abuses did not stop but eventually served to run her and her husband and three children out of their home in Hampton (now in New Hampshire).

The events in Lidia’s life during the years between 1659 and 1665, and the characters that affected her thoughts and her feelings, were all taken from court records and provincial documents, and some first and second person accounts published into the 18th century. Using this documentary evidence gave some insight into the people and their motivation toward the roles they played, but only so far as their two-dimensional character was concerned. For more depth, I chose to look at poetry for inspiration.

John Greenleaf Whittier was a notable nineteenth century poet and a Quaker. He was born and raised in Haverhill, Massachusetts, just fourteen miles from where Lidia made her statement. And he was visiting relatives when he died in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, walking distance to Lidia’s home. All his life he listened to the folktales and the legends, and he grew sensitive to social and moral issues gathering momentum throughout the 1830s and 1840s. Poetry was his outlet.

Whittier wrote at least nine poems about the persecution of Quakers during Lidia’s time, and many of them spoke to the treatment of Quaker women specifically. They were likely crafted from bits and pieces of the stories he knew well, and shouldn’t be accepted as anything more than historically relevant, but they helped me shape the hearts and souls of many of my characters.

Two of these poems were significant to my writing of The Rose and the Whip: “The King’s Missive (1880) and “How the Women Went From Dover,” (1883). In the “The King’s Missive” I found my best descriptions of Governor John Endicott along with his clerk, Edward Rawson, and their encounter with Samuel Shattuck whom Endicott had previously banished from the Colony under pain of death should he return. King Charles II had been restored to the British throne in 1660, sensitive to the unrest left by Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans. So when Quaker Edward Burrough approached the King in September 1661 with a plea to stanch the flow of innocent Quaker blood in the Colony, the King acted quickly by issuing a mandamus to be carried by Shattuck to Endicott. Endicott was a shrewd man, but he knew how to pick his battles. The excerpt below illustrates the veritable chess match the two played when Shattuck showed up with the King’s missive. Quaker men did not accept the authority of Puritan government and church officials, and so left their hats on in their presence which particularly and continuously piqued the ire of these officials. Endicott was caught off guard by the arrival of this messenger, and the King’s instruction, and was not, at least yet, in a position to risk the King’s displeasure by disrespecting his messenger.

John Greenleaf Whittier & The King’s Missive

“Off with the knave’s hat!” An angry hand

Smote down the offence; but the wearer said,

With a quiet smile, “By the king’s command

I bear his message and stand in his stead.

In the Governor’s hand a missive he laid

With the royal arms on its seal displayed,

And the proud man spake as he gazed thereat,

Uncovering, “Give Mr. Shattuck his hat.”

How the Women Went From Dover” tells the story of Anne Colman, Mary Tomkins and Alice Ambrose who were tied to the cart’s tail, stripped from the waist up and meant to be driven from town to town (eleven in all from Dover south to Dedham) where they would each receive ten stripes apiece. It was winter, and there was snow on the ground, not to mention nearly ninety miles of rough trails. The procession was on its way from Hampton, the second village, when the three were rescued by a kind-hearted soul. Lidia’s husband, Eliakim, was most certainly there when the constable paraded the women through the town, and his time spent in the stocks for the tongue-lashing he gave to one of the priests is well documented. But there is one part of the poem I used to put Lidia there as well.

“How the Women Went from Dover”

Then a pallid woman, in wild-eyed fear,

With her wooden noggin of milk drew near.

Drink, poor hearts!” a rude hand smote

Her draught away from a parching throat.

Take heed,” one whispered, “they’ll take your cow

For fines, as they took your horse and plough,

And the bed from under you.” “Even so,”

She said; “they are cruel as death, I know.”

It is true that the Reverend Seaborn Cotton, the Hampton town priest, would regularly take his rate (a tax paid by each of a town’s inhabitants for the upkeep of the priest and his family) on the Wardell’s by collecting food and livestocks. Just two months after the three vagabond women were brought to the Wardell’s home to rest on their way out of the Colony, Cotton sold Wardell’s rate to an unscrupulous neighbor who came and took as much of the Wardell’s corn as he pleased; the next month, Cotton sent a servant to collect a beautiful pied heifer; and the next month after that, the court fined the Wardells for absenting themselves from the weekly worship by taking a fine saddle-horse worth much more than the fine itself. After that, the court began taking the Wardell’s land.

I’d like to end with a third poem, if you’ll indulge me for a little while longer. “Cassandra Southwick” (1843) tells the story of a young girl-child who was very nearly sold into slavery in payment for her father’s fine for not attending worship. The Southwicks as a family feature prominently in The Rose and the Whip, though I didn’t use this story. In reality, it was Cassandra’s two children, her son Daniel and her daughter Provided, who were dragged to the docks in an attempt to sell them at auction for transport to Barbadoes. Like the three vagabond women, these children were rescued when all the harbor ship’s captains declared they would let their ships sink under the weight of silver bars and Spanish gold coins before they would take her as a captive on board. As Whittier tells it, Endicott, with a sneering priest and his baffled clerk, turned away in disgusted silence and fled, leaving the sheriff to crush their parchment warrant and release the girl to her freedom.

A Country Built on Religious Freedom

All night I sat unsleeping, for I knew that on the morrow

The ruler and the cruel priest would mock me in my sorrow,

Dragged to their place of market, and bargained for and sold,

Like a lamb before the shambles, like a heifer from the fold!

If you’re interested in more of Whittier’s poetry about the Quaker plight, I suggest the following:

“The Exiles” (1841)

“Barclay of Ury” (1847)

“The Truce of Piscataqua” (1860)

“John Underhill” (1873)

“In the ‘Old South’” (1877)

“Banished From Massachusetts” (No date)

Photo Credits:“John Greenleaf Whittier & The King’s Missive” by Melissa Davenport Berry at https://www.ancestoryarchives.com/2015/07/john-greenleaf-whittier-king-missive.html?m=0; “How the Women Went from Dover” at https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2012/02/how-women-went-from-dover.html; and “A Country Built on Religious Freedom” by Jordan Bray at https://medium.com/@dmegivern/a-country-built-on-religious-freedom-b1049dcc87d2


About the Author

Everyone has a history and a story. Jae uses the most alluring stories from the chronicles of her own ancestry and others around her to create timeless tales of everyday people making history. On her quest to capture the essence of walking in their footsteps, she travels and uses her pencil and camera lens to imagine them in their own surroundings.

Jae lives on the Tennessee River in Alabama with her husband and companion pooch.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, July 27
Review at Books, Cooks, Looks

Wednesday, July 29
Review at Passages to the Past

Thursday, July 30
Interview at Passages to the Past

Saturday, August 1
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Wednesday, August 5
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Friday, August 7
Feature at I’m All About Books

Wednesday, August 12
Review at Books and Zebras

Thursday, August 13
Review at Older & Smarter

Friday, August 14
Guest Post at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Monday, August 17
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Thursday, August 20
Review at Nurse Bookie



During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a copy of The Rose and the Whip by Jae Hodges! To enter, please use the Gleam form here –
Rose and the Whip

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on August 20th. 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 | Tales Of Ming Courtesans by Alice Poon #TalesOfMingCourtesans #GuestPost #HFVBTBlogTours @alicepoon1 @hfvbt

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Hello, Sunshines, I hope everyone is well? I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this fabulous blog tour for; Tales Of Ming Courtesan’s by Alice Poon. I am super excited to be sharing this book with you all, it looks absolutely amazing and has gone straight on to my wish list. Not only will I be taking a peek at this book – the cover alone is so striking – but I also have an exclusive guest post by Alice, which is brilliant and so relevant for the times. So without further ado, have a look and I do hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Tales of Ming Courtesans by Alice Poon

Publication Date: June 1, 2020
Publisher: Earnshaw Books
Format: Paperback; 354 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction



From the author of The Green Phoenix comes a riveting tale of female friendship, honor, and sacrifice for love, set in 17th Century China and featuring the intertwined stories of three of the era’s most renowned courtesans, escorts skilled in music, poetry and painting who could decide themselves whether or not to offer patrons bed favors.

Inspired by literary works and folklore, Tales of Ming Courtesans traces the destinies of the three girls from the seamy world of human trafficking and slavery to the cultured scene of the famously decadent pleasure district of the city of Nanjing, evoking episodes in Memoirs of a Geisha.

The girls all existed – Rushi was a famous poet, Yuanyuan became the concubine of a general who changed the course of Chinese history by supporting the Manchu invasion in 1644 and Xiangjun challenged the corruption of court officials to try to save her lover. Rushi’s daughter, Jingjing, gradually pieces together the stories of the three from a memoir left to her by her mother.

Betrayal, tenacity and hope all come together in a novel that brings to life an important era in China’s history, and particularly highlights the challenges faced by independent-minded women.

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Praise for Tales of Ming Courtesans

“In Tales of Ming Courtesans, Alice Poon masterfully brings to life three fascinating women who had a lasting impact on China’s culture and history. This beautiful telling of their turbulent lives and devoted friendship is a reverential testament to their memories.” – Kelli Estes, bestselling author of The Girl Who Wrote in Silk

“Tales of Ming Courtesans is a poignant and captivating exploration of the lives of three extraordinary women…. Ultimately an enduring tale of the power of sisterhood and the bonds between women.” – Jeannie Lin, USA Today bestselling author of The Lotus Palace

“Tales of Ming Courtesans is a brilliant, ‘own voices’ alternative to Memoirs of a Geisha….An exquisite reading experience. Highly, highly recommended.” – M. H. Boroson, author of The Girl With Ghost Eyes

“Alice Poon’s excellent Tales of Ming Courtesans follows the intertwined lives of three seventeenth-century courtesans….. Poon’s real achievement is to create believable depth to her characters’ known histories….She has clearly written Tales from the heart.” – David Leffman, author of The Mercenary


Take a Peek at the Book Trailer.


Exclusive Guest Post by Alice Poon

In Tales of Ming Courtesans, I’ve told the tragic story of three beautiful and talented women who worked as courtesans in the pleasure districts of 17th century Jiangnan (i.e. the prosperous region south of the Yangtze River). These beauties are sold into slavery in their early teens and have to live with that stigma their entire life.

Women throughout history and in many cultures have been treated as tools and sex objects, as the #MeToo movement highlights today. Tales of Ming Courtesans not only describes the main characters’ tragedies but also celebrates how they transcend the challenges and create goodness and more around them. If there is one common spiritual thread to the experiences of the #MeToo victims and my Ming courtesans, it is the triumph of hope.

But there is no lack of anecdotal parallels.

Victims in the notorious Harvey Weinstein case have had to live in constant fear and to play along with demeaning rules set by their predator in order to stay employed. Likewise, my main characters, in their struggle to survive, have no choice but bow to a life of shame and indignities.

Many #MeToo victims have to sacrifice their privacy in the high-stakes media game in their desperate attempt to seek redress. In a similar way, my Ming women are forced to use their beauty and wiles to buy hope for a better future even when hope seems beyond their reach.

Both groups of victims consider it crucial to seek out sisterly support, because they know only in solidarity can they hope to see a silver lining in their quest for justice. Indeed, it takes tons of courage for a violated woman even today to stand up for her dignity in a culture that remains profoundly ashamed of sexually abused women, as Chanel Miller testifies from experience in her memoir Know My Name.

For hundreds of years, the stories of Liu Rushi, Chen Yuanyuan and Li Xiangjun have been told by male writers from the male perspective. As a result, these three extraordinary ladies have always been known as Great Beauties of Qinhuai, as if beauty was their only attribute. (Qinhuai is a main setting in the novel and is the name of the glitzy pleasure hub in Nanjing.)

Typically, male writers cannot avoid the trap of measuring these women solely in terms of the men in their lives. They tend to conveniently gloss over the women’s incredible moral courage in their fight against subjugation, and the fact that they were extremely intelligent human beings with an independent mind. In the eyes of self-styled moralists, these women were nothing but witless tramps whose only aim was to ruin men. What has been left unsaid is that society’s cruel bigotry and misogyny was in fact the main culprit that wrecked these women’s lives.

After reading my research materials, I was convinced that these women had far more moral courage and integrity than people gave them credit for. There was only one way to do them justice, and that is, to give them voice – something which has always been denied them. I imagined what they might have said, thought, felt and done in their daily struggle for survival, dignity and hope in a deeply misogynistic society. My musings then became Tales of Ming Courtesans. The story is told entirely from their viewpoints and in their own voices.

Liu Rushi’s part is essentially based on the eminent historian Chen Yinke’s (1890 – 1969) 800,000-word biography of her, Chen Yuanyuan’s story is recreated from famous literary works and popular legend, while Li Xiangjun’s role closely follows that in the iconic historical drama The Peach Blossom Fan written by famous Qing playwright Kong Shangren.

Above all, I want my novel to send a positive message: that tenacity, love and hope will ultimately triumph over adversity and evil.


About the Author

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Alice Poon steeped herself in Chinese poetry and history, Jin Yong’s martial arts novels and English Literature in her school days. This early immersion has inspired her creative writing.

Always fascinated with iconic but unsung women in Chinese history and legends, she cherishes a dream of bringing them to the page.

Her new historical novel Tales of Ming Courtesans will be released by Earnshaw Books on June 1, 2020.

She is the author of The Green Phoenix and the bestselling and award-winning non-fiction title Land and the Ruling Class in Hong Kong. She now lives in Vancouver, Canada and devotes her time to writing historical Chinese fiction.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 25
Excerpt at Journey in Bookland
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Tuesday, May 26
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Wednesday, May 27
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Friday, May 29
Review at Reader then Blogger

Monday, June 1
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, June 3
Guest Post at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Friday, June 5
Review at YA, it’s Lit

Monday, June 8
Interview at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, June 10
Feature at What Is That Book About

Friday, June 12
Review at Passages to the Past



During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a copy of Tales from Ming Courtesans! To enter, please use the Gleam form here – Tales of Ming Courtesans

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 12th. 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 | the Night Is Done by Sheila Myers #TheNightIsDone #GuestPost #Giveaway #HFVBTBlogTours @hfvbt

Posted on

Hello Sunshines, I hope you are all safe and well?! I have an epic post for you all today, I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this amazing blog tour for: The Night Is Done by Sheila Myers. Not only will I be sharing this gorgeous book with you all, but I have a wonderful guest post by Sheila which is a brilliant read, and there is a chance to win a copy of The Night is Done. As always grab that cuppa and enjoy!

The Night is Done by Sheila Myers

Publication Date: August 11, 2017
Format: eBook & Paperback; 260 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Durant Family Saga, Book Three



William and Ella Durant, heirs to a bygone fortune, are recounting the events that led to the Durant family downfall during the Gilded Age. In 1931 William returns to visit the estate he once possessed in the Adirondacks to speak with the current owner, copper magnate Harold Hochschild, who is writing a history of the region and wants to include a biography of William. Simultaneously, Ella is visiting with an old family friend and former lover, Poultney Bigelow, journalist with Harpers Magazine, who talks her into telling her own story. William recounts the height of his glory, after his father’s death in 1885 when he takes control of the Adirondack railroad assets, travels the world in his yacht and dines with future kings. However, his fortune takes a turn during the Financial Panic of 1893 and amid accusations of adultery and cruelty. Ella’s tale begins when she returned from living abroad to launch a lawsuit against her brother for her fair share of the Durant inheritance. The court provides a stage for the siblings to tear each other’s reputation apart: William for his devious business practices and failure to steward the Durant land holdings, and Ella for her unconventional lifestyle. Based on actual events, and historic figures, The Night is Done is a tale about the life-altering power of revenge, greed and passion.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound | Draft2Digital



“Myers writes with skill and has chosen well in deeply researching the Durant saga, which remarkably parallels Greek tragedy. It’s a truly engrossing story, and Myers does it justice.” – Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

“Myers satisfyingly concludes her historical trilogy set in the Gilded Age by presenting the detailed downfall of ruthless real estate mogul William West Durant; his exasperated wife, Janet; and his estranged sister, Ella. In 1931, the penniless Durant recounts his tragic life. After inheriting his father’s vast wealth and interest in the Adirondack Railroad, William immediately begins to make bad investments. He squanders money on yachts, panders to princes, and builds mansions he can’t afford to run, all while hiding assets from Ella. She sues him for her rightful inheritance and tries to overcome discrimination to become a novelist. Meanwhile, Janet, verbally abused and infantilized by William, begins an affair with her doctor. Myers expertly depicts a precarious era soaked in vicious gossip, stained reputations, and ostentatiousness. Readers will enjoy the historical details that bring this Gilded Age soap opera to life.” – Publishers Weekly

“While the covers of Myers’s trilogy are done in subdued pastels, the pages inside flash with forbidden romance and a family torn apart by greed.” – Betsy Keepes, The Adirondack Explorer

“The trilogy of the Durant family is capped by the fascinating final volume, The Night is Done. In a vein of nostalgia, the story ends in William West Durant’s last years and closes out a saga of tragic proportions as the vast Durant wealth and privilege is reduced to impoverished circumstances.” – Harvey H. Kaiser, author, Great Camps of the Adirondacks

“The builders of the first “Great Camps,” the Durant family defined the Adirondack experience during the Gilded Age. Sheila Myer’s trilogy of novels chronicling their saga combines great historical research with compelling writing. The Night is Done is the capstone novel of the saga and takes the story to the end of the Durant fortune where bankruptcy and retribution dominate the family’s relations. The book is a great read for those interested in American history or the Durants.” – Garet D. Livermore, Exec Director, Sagamore Institute of the Adirondacks


Guest Post

Doc Durant and Hell from Hell on Wheels by Sheila Myers

Doctor Thomas C. Durant (Doc Durant)

Doctor Thomas C. Durant (Doc Durant), one of the men who forged the Transcontinental Railroad in the 1860s, is a colorful historical figure. Newspaper accounts and diaries left behind by men who knew him describe him as ferocious looking, tall, dark, and patrician. Although he had trained as a doctor, he eventually turned to business. His specialty, like many tycoons of the time, was in trade and rail. It is no wonder that AMC made a television series about these men called Hell on Wheels.

Durant was a complex man who had many admirers and just as many who both feared and loathed him. He had frequent run-ins with the workers on the Union Pacific, mostly Irish immigrants, who often threatened to strike if they were not paid on time. He was reviled by colleagues, some of whom left the company in protest, others who got him kicked off the Union Pacific Board after the line was finished in 1869. And he made enemies of his rivals, especially Collis P. Huntington, who was head of the Central Pacific Railroad. Both men were competing for government funds based on the miles of track laid.

Collis P. Huntington,

Like Huntington, Doc Durant knew how to influence people that mattered, persuading members of Congress and others to invest in the Transcontinental and Union Pacific. In 1866 he orchestrated a large gathering of dignitaries and newsmen at the 100th Meridian in Nebraska to showcase the accomplishments of the Union Pacific. In his grand style, Doc Durant managed to pull off an enormous publicity stunt. The guests were brought in by rail, set up in encampments on the plains, fed and entertained. Durant paid the Pawnee Indians to put on a mock show of attacking the railroad and fighting the Sioux.

His lavish spending back home in New York was also legendary. A biographical piece in the New York Tribune in 1869 reports he frequently entertained people on his yacht Idler at the New York Yacht Club.

I have seen him entertain a party of ladies and gentlemen upon it, for the entire forenoon as if he had not a care in the world beyond the comfort of his guests. And at one o’clock say nonchalantly: “Well good-bye, I must go ashore. I have a million dollars to pay before three o’clock. Have your sail out and don’t return until you are ready.”  

The Tribune had other flattering things to say about Doc Durant, including that he worked as hard as a galley slave.

 There were times he could not have told whether the next turn of the wheel would make him or lose him a million dollars but the great work never flagged. 

When the Transcontinental Railroad was officially complete with the joining of Central Pacific and Union Pacific lines at Promontory Summit, Utah in 1869, Durant turned his attention east where he owned a substantial amount of land. In the 1860s forests cut over and abandoned by lumber companies in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State were being sold off at tax sales for a mere five cents an acre. Durant instructed his lawyers to attend the sales and managed to accumulate over ½ million acres. The land was tax free as long as Durant promised to build a railroad and make infrastructure improvements. But by the financial panic of 1873, an economic depression left Durant land rich and cash poor, and he was having a hard time finding investors.

He had other problems as well. In 1872 it came to light that while building the Transcontinental, Durant had set up a contracting firm called Crédit Mobilier to handle the construction, putting himself and his cronies in charge. Government investigators claimed that his company had over-charged the U.S. Government millions of dollars for building the Transcontinental. He somehow escaped prosecution but his reputation was severely tarnished.

William and Thomas Durant, Circa 1884

When he finally called his family home from England to attend to business in the States, his son, William, who had never had to deal with his father’s tyranny growing up, was suddenly in his shadow. William recalls his father as autocratic and hard to work for, as the two attempted to build a railroad empire that would take people from New York City into the Adirondack interior and on to Canada.

They were successful in bringing a line from Saratoga to North Creek, NY but never to Canada and when Doc Durant died in 1885 he left his family without a will and creditors looking for their pay-out. There were several lawsuits against Doc Durant from former investors in both the Transcontinental and Adirondack Railway Company. William was left to unravel his father’s unscrupulous and tangled financial dealings as well as a railroad company in disrepair and major debt.

What the Adirondack Railway Company did have however was land, and lots of it. It was around this time that Collis P. Huntington, befriended his old enemy’s son, becoming a board member of the Adirondack Railway Company. His business acumen and advice must have been welcomed by William who never questioned Huntington’s motives. Using questionable business practices that would have made his father proud, William managed to sell off the Railway Company but keep most of the land. Ironically, Huntington’s influence over William may have led to his undoing. But in the end, it was William’s sister Ella who sued William for an accounting of the family fortune and brought to public light the family legacy of unscrupulous business dealings.

Find out more about the fictional lives of the Durants in the Durant Family Saga by Sheila Myers.


About the Author

Sheila Myers is a Professor in Upstate New York and an award-winning author of four novels. When she’s not teaching, she spends her spare time writing and enjoying the outdoors. Her essays and short stories have appeared in the Adirondack Life Magazine, History News Network, Crossing Genres, and Women Writers Women’s Books blog.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, April 20
Review at Passages to the Past

Thursday, April 23
Feature at I’m Into Books

Monday, April 27
Guest Post at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Wednesday, April 29
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books

Friday, May 1
Review at History + Fiction + Adirondack Spirit

Monday, May 4
Interview at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, May 6
Review at Books and Zebras



During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 6 signed copies of The Night is Done! To enter, please use the Gleam form here – The Night is Done

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 6th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US & UK 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 | Crimes and Survivors by Sarah Smith #CrimesandSurvivors #GuestPost #HFVBTBlogTours @sarahwriter @hfvbt

Posted on

Hello Sunshines, I hope you are all safe and well?!  I have the absolute pleasure to be today’s stop on this amazing blog tour, for; Crimes and Survivors by Sarah Smith. Not only will I be sharing this gorgeous book with you all – one of which has gone stright onto my wish list, but I also have a fabulous guest post by Sarah for you all to tuck into. As Always, sit back grab that cuppa and enjoy!

Crimes and Survivors by Sarah Smith

Publication Date: April 15, 2020
Publisher: Make Light Work LLC
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook; 394 Pages

Series: A Reisden and Perdita Mystery, #4
Genre: Historical Mystery



It’s 1912. America. The land of Jim Crow, of lynchings and segregation. And a young society woman has just discovered that the grandfather she barely knows may be black.

She has a family. She has a child. If she’s black, her friends will deny they know her. Her marriage will be illegal. Her little boy will never be a full citizen of America.

She can’t be black. She’s experienced prejudice before. Never again. It will not happen to her or to anyone she loves.

She follows her grandfather onto the newest, safest, biggest ship in the world, to learn the truth. The right truth, the one that will save her family.

But after the iceberg, she finds the truth is far more complicated than black and white. More inspiring, more loving. Far more dangerous… And what she’ll need to find is not a convenient truth but a new America.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound



“The Titanic still cruises our imaginations…And she has secrets. Sarah Smith knows them and knows how to tell them in this riveting, page-turning novel, a tale unraveling from out of the ignorant past, through that terrible moment of truth on the Titanic, and on toward a hopeful future. Read it and be enthralled.” — WILLIAM MARTIN, New York Times bestselling author of Cape Cod and Bound for Gold:

“You may think you know everything there is to know about Titanic, but Sarah Smith’s ‘Crimes and Survivors’ carves out a space of its own—while, in the same breath, demarcating a huge swath of America’s history and painting a resonant vision of its future. The result is suspenseful, insightful, moving and highly recommended.” — LOUIS BAYARD, bestselling author of Courting Mr. Lincoln

“For those of us who have been hoping for a new tale of intrigue featuring Sarah Smith’s star-crossed couple Alexander Reisden and Perdita Halley, the wait is over! Smith’s new installment, Crimes and Survivors, takes readers aboard the Titanic and to Jim Crow-era America for a thrilling and romantic literary mystery that unflinchingly examines issues of race and identity, love and family, and the danger and beauty of uncovering long-hidden truths.” — SARAH STEWART TAYLOR, author of the Sweeney St. George mysteries and The Mountains Wild

“Come for the rich prose, meticulous research, and vibrant characters. Stay for the heart-stopping mystery. Sarah Smith’s fresh take on the doomed Titanic sailing is filled with twists and turns and will enthrall both new readers and longtime fans of the Vanished Child series!” — EDWIN HILL, Edgar and Agatha-nominated author of Little Comfort and The Missing Ones


Guest Post

Surviving by Sarah Smith

Want to live a life of danger and adventure? Be a mixed-race woman in New York in 1912.

Want to live a life of danger, adventure, and incredible uncertainty? Be a woman who doesn’t know if she’s mixed-race or not.

This book actually didn’t start with the Titanic. I knew I wanted to write about the ship, but while I was planning the mystery, a character walked in and surprised me with a problem I’d never read about before.

This woman has always thought she’s white. She has a beloved husband, a little boy; she has a mother, brothers, sisters. They all think they’re white.

But she’s just found out that her grandfather, whom she barely knows, might be passing for white.

This is 1912, the period of Titanic—but also of Jim Crow. In most states in America, her marriage to a white husband would be illegal. She’s an aspiring concert pianist; she couldn’t play with most orchestras. She couldn’t stay in white hotels or eat at white restaurants. She could buy clothes at a white store but she couldn’t try them on beforehand, couldn’t even touch them.

She hasn’t even thought of places as “white”—they were just orchestras, hotels, restaurants. Now she could be excluded from them.

Who would want that?

She doesn’t even know she isn’t white.

She follows her grandfather on board Titanic to find out the truth from him—the right truth, the one that will save her family.

But after the iceberg—

There were three strategies people used to survive Titanic.

Some survivors behaved as though the wreck had never happened to them. Not even their families knew they’d been on Titanic. Too late for my Perdita and her family secret. The wrong person already knows.

Some were overwhelmed by it. Perdita refuses to be overwhelmed. For herself and her family, she wants an America where they can be equal to anyone.

Some mourned, but lived, and changed their lives. Rose deWitt Bukater gave up a life of privilege and embraced adventure. The real-life Renée Harris took over her husband’s business and became a Broadway producer. What does Perdita do? As she and her husband solve a mystery together, she agonizes over the right decision. But as she decides what she’ll do, what she has to do, she finds a whole new world within America.

What a privilege it’s been to visit that world. Jim Crow defined it only from the outside. It was (and is) a great American culture. Cheering for Jack Johnson. Singing at church. Second-lining at a funeral. The best black detective in emerging Harlem is part of it. So is his “traditionally built” female sidekick,who disguises herself as a cook. (Thank you to Barbara Neely’s Blanche White, one of my favorite detectives). In 1912 New York “downtown whites” hold “white-only” jobs in midtown and live as themselves uptown. Perdita’s friend Garnet Williams is a downtown white, who takes her life in her hands to become a fashion model. People pass from white to black, from black to white, and colonize the middle. In 1912 New York, multiculturalism and multiracialism are alive and well.

And what a delight to tour the rest of 1912 New York. The Waldorf-Astoria, in mourning for John Jacob Astor. The models at Macy’s weeping for the Strauses. The suffragettes, and the men (and women) who criticize them for taking space on the lifeboats. Survivors of Titanic at St. Vincent’s. The electric lights blinking and moving over Times Square. The Chelsea Piers, crowded with New Yorkers waiting to see the survivors. Leo Astor, the lion at the New York Public Library, wearing a great black mourning ribbon. The first of the Titanic disaster movies filming in New Jersey, with a “Titanic” moored in the Hudson and a Titanic survivor as heroine. An entire city, reeling from a disaster, thinking about survival.

We’re all thinking about survival now. We’ve struck an iceberg. Some people have died. Like on Titanic, too many of them are “essential workers.” In 1912 they kept the lights on and played music on deck. Now they nurse the sick and stock grocery shelves.

Others of us are in the lifeboats.

But, as one of my survivors says, it’s all one story. All one city. All one boat. And we’re all in it together.

Here’s what I know from writing about Titanic:

May we all find lifeboats. May we be each other’s lifeboats. May we make together a lifeboat as big as all Titanic, where we can all survive together.

Surviving together is how we’ll all survive.

Stay well, friends, and thanks for reading.


About the Author

Sarah Smith started telling stories as a child in Japan. Her sitter would tell her ghost stories at night, and the next morning she’d act them out on the school bus for an audience of terrified five-year-olds. Back in America, she lived in an unrestored Victorian house, where every morning she would help her grandmother haul coal and break sticks into kindling to light the household stove. She’s loved storytelling and history ever since.

She studied English at Harvard, where she spent Saturdays in the library reading mysteries, and film in London and Paris, where she sat next to Peter Cushing at a film show and got to pet Francis Bacon’s cat. While teaching English, she got interested in personal computers (she and two friends bought 3 of the first 5 PCs sold in Boston). She realized that software could help her plot bigger stories, and she’s never looked back.

Her bestselling series of Edwardian mysteries, starring Alexander von Reisden and Perdita Halley, has been published in 14 languages. Two of the books have been named New York Times Notable Books. The Vanished Child, the first book in the series, is being made into a musical in Canada. The fourth book in the Reisden-Perdita series, about the Titanic, will be published April 15, 2020. Crimes and Survivors. You can preorder it now from your favorite bookstore.

Sarah’s young adult ghost thriller, The Other Side of Dark, won both the Agatha (for best YA mystery of the year) and the Massachusetts Book Award for best YA book of the year. Her Chasing Shakespeares, a novel about the Shakespeare authorship, has been called “the best novel about the Bard since Nothing like the Sun” (Samuel R. Delany) and has been turned into a play.

Sarah lives in Boston with her family and not enough cats.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Blog Tour Schedule

Do check out all the other brilliant blog’s participating in the blog tour.

Wednesday, April 15
Review at Passages to the Past

Thursday, April 16
Review at Books and Zebras

Friday, April 17
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books
Feature at What Is That Book About

Saturday, April 18
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Sunday, April 19
Review at Jessica Belmont

Monday, April 20
Review at Captivated Pages

Tuesday, April 21
Feature at I’m Into Books

Wednesday, April 22
Guest Post at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Saturday, April 25
Excerpt at Historical Graffiti

Monday, April 27
Instagram Feature at Just a Girl and Her Books

Wednesday, April 29
Interview at Passages to the Past

Friday, May 1
Review at YA, It’s Lit


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a copy of Crimes and Survivors! To enter, please use the Gleam form here – Crimes and Survivors

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 1st. 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 | Her Side Of History by Claudia Severin #HerSideOfHistory #GuestPost #HFVBTBlogTours @hfvbt

Posted on

Hello Sunshines, I hope you are all safe and well?! I have the huge pleasure of being today’s stop on this brilliant blog tour for; Her Side of History by Claudia Severin, not only will I be telling you all about this great book, but I also have an amazing guest post from Claudia which I’m sure you will all love. So take a seat grab a cuppa and enjoy!

Her Side of History by Claudia Severin

Publication Date: March 19, 2020
Format: eBook & Paperback; 303 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction



Author Claudia J. Severin took things into her own hands when her genealogy research seemed limiting. Follow her foremothers, four mothers plucked from her family tree. She reimagines the lives of ancestral families in this anthology. Ina, the tragic suffragette, traded her college degree and teaching career for a loving husband and children in the 1910s, in the shadow of the Great War, but things did not work out as she planned. Mary, a German immigrant, finds love with an Iowa farmer, and crosses the state in a covered wagon with his entire family to become a homesteader on the Nebraska plains in 1869. She didn’t know that Indian encounters, prairie fires and locusts would threaten her and her rapidly growing family. Nellie fell for the bad boy, the Good Time Charley who didn’t let a little thing like Prohibition stand in his way. She tries to control his drinking and spending, while supporting her family in times of calamity in the 1920s and 1930s traveling from Nebraska to Kansas and back again. Katie finds herself the sole heir to her father’s farm in southeastern Nebraska decades after the Homestead Act took most of the land ownership out of play. She enjoys playing the flirtatious games learned from her older half-sisters. But are her suitors interested in her or her inheritance?

Available on Amazon


Exclusive Guest Post

Some Degree of Happiness by Claudia Severin 

And they lived happily ever after.” Is this just a fairy tale? I tried to end each of my four stories in my book, HERside of HIStory—Finding My Foremothers’ Footprints on a positive note. However, I don’t think I have seen anyone live every moment happily. At some point, we all have to die, and that may involve some pain which I would interpret as unhappiness. I think the best we can hope for is “mostly happiness.” That’s what I should start wishing people, a life with mostly happiness, or more good than bad.

One of the first thing you read when you are trying to learn better writing skills from those with experience, is that conflict makes the story. Conflict reeks of unhappiness. I certainly found that it was more fun to write about people arguing or undermining each other than those who were always pleasant and agreeable. One could even argue that a certain degree of unhappiness is necessary for happiness to occur. A cosmic duality, yin and yang if you will. You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.

So you have to expose a problem or two when writing a novel and show how your heroine overcomes the adversity. And grows. Or yes, this experience is supposed to make her grow in some way. I don’t know about you, but in real life dealing with adversity just makes me tired. Or if makes me grow older. Not so much wiser, but maybe I am selling myself short.

In that vein, I am going to add some “outtakes” from the aforementioned book. The section “Nellie” contains the most conflict. I omitted this part of the story when I was trying to cut back on the content. Stephen King suggested reducing your book by 10% in the second draft, and I took his advice. This was on the cutting room floor, so to speak:


This scene takes place in Brewster, Kansas, in 1919 after Nellie and Ben had been dating awhile, and she realized they kept having the same argument: She knew it was time to be as honest as she could with Ben, and hoped he would do likewise, even if it meant they had to stop seeing each other.

This is not working for either one of us,” she told him a few days before Thanksgiving, as they were walking to the Cochrane house, where she was picking up her sister, Zella. “I think we are getting too old to go out partying every weekend. For one thing, it is too expensive. If you are ever going to have anything worthwhile in life, you have to save your money to buy a house or a farm, something that is an investment. I know you say that you don’t want to turn into your father, and have all those responsibilities, and that is your choice. But going forward, I think that is what I want for my life, to have a business or a job, be able to have some sort of stable home life, with children, and just do what other people do. I think we just want different things. Maybe we are wasting our time trying to be together.”

He was clearly a little shocked. “You’re telling me after all this time, you don’t wanna be with me? Now you want someone like your daddy. I think you would just get bored. Maybe I won’t want to be a free spirit forever, but I am still sowing my wild oats after being cooped up in that so-called army training camp for almost two years. But, hey, if that is what you want, I guess it ain’t me.”  With a note of sarcasm he added, “See you around, Sweetheart.”  Then he turned on his heel and walked the other way, back toward the store.

By Thanksgiving Day, she had gotten past the initial pain of breaking off a relationship, but she had not gotten up the nerve to mention it to her family. It was easier just to not think about him at all. She was in the middle of making her favorite chocolate meringue pie when she heard a racket outdoors and looked out to see her young brother, Verner, and her nieces Lazetta and Beth all laughing over a dark furred puppy that Ben was holding out to them. Oh no, she thought. Why is he here?  I suppose he was invited weeks ago, maybe Mom even mentioned it to him, but surely he realized that everything has changed now.

Just then, five-year-old Beth came running into the kitchen, cradling the dog, followed by the others. “Aunt Nellie, look. Look what Ben brought for me!  Isn’t he just adorable?  I’m going to call him Gobbler cuz I got him on Thanksgiving. Do you want to pet him?”

She gave the dog a pat, and had to admit he was very cute. Then Beth raced off to show the puppy to her grandfather, who was in the living room. Nellie gave Ben a questioning look, but he simply acted as though everything was fine, and he went to talk to her father about the dog. That just made her angry, as she was two days into forgetting about him, and he just showed up as though nothing had changed. At the dinner table, she didn’t speak to him unless it was to ask to pass the potatoes, but kept glaring at him while he tried to entertain her family with his witty anecdotes. No one seemed to notice except for Zella, who began to look back and forth between Nellie and Ben. She confronted Nellie when they went back into the kitchen while clearing away the dishes.

You two had another fight, didn’t you? No, NO…you broke up with him? And he still came to dinner?” Zella asked, reading Nellie’s face.

She hadn’t expected her tears to betray her, but she wasn’t able to stop them. She reached for her heavy coat hanging on a hook in the hallway. “I’m going outside. Would you ask him to come talk to me?”

Aren’t we having dessert?” Ben called out, when he found her on the back porch.

Dessert?  No, this is the part where you explain why you are here. Why did you come to Thanksgiving dinner with my whole family after we broke up? I thought you agreed that we didn’t belong together.”

I don’t do explanations or apologies, I thought you’d figured that out,” he muttered. “But I’m here, I want to be here. I’m willing to try it. Can’t you just see that?”

What do you mean, you are going to try?  Are you saying you’re going to settle down, stop going to the clubs, save your money, plan a future?  What is it you are trying?” she asked, wiping away a warm tear from her frozen cheek.

Whatever you want. I am trying to be what you want. I want to be with you, and if that is what you want, I will try.” She smiled then, not quite believing her ears, and wrapped him in a warm embrace.

Can we go have some pie now?” He sounded like a little boy.

He was serious about changing his lifestyle, Nellie soon realized. He stopped going to Goodland, unless it was on an errand for Mr. Horney, or to take her to a picture show. He mentioned that some of the clubs had closed with the enactment of the Eighteenth Amendment, which had started nationwide alcohol prohibition. In Kansas, the speakeasies were even under more scrutiny because of the strong presence of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union there. He spent more time at her parents’ farm and even begin asking her father for advice on setting up a dairy business.

You will find the rest of Nellie and Ben’s saga in the recently published book.


About the Author

Claudia Johnson Severin lives with her farmer husband on a southeastern Nebraska farm that was homesteaded in 1869 by her husband’s great-grandparents, a setting for a portion of her anthology. At one time, the farm was home to dairy cows and chickens, as well as children. The cows, chickens, and children have all moved on, along with her day job. She spent a year researching many branches of her family tree, but decided the facts she uncovered did not leave enough to the imagination. She applied imagination to the facts and came up with this book.

When she is not writing, she is constructing one-of-a-kind play structures for her grandchildren. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Journalism and a Cornhusker football fan.

Website | Facebook


Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, March 31
Review at Nursebookie

Thursday, April 2
Review at Impressions In Ink

Saturday, April 4
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Sunday, April 5
Review at Historical Graffiti

Tuesday, April 7
Guest Post at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals

Thursday, April 9
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Friday, April 10
Interview at Passages to the Past



During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 2 eBooks of Her Side of History! To enter, please use the Gleam form here – Her Side of History

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on April 10th. 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.

#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!




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.


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



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

Posted on Updated on

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


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


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.


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.


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



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

Posted on Updated on

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


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.


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


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.

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