Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap by Paulette Mahurin


A women's Brokeback Mountain. The year was filled with memorable historical events: the Dreyfus Affair divided France; Booker T. Washington gave his Atlanta address; the United States expanded the effects of the Monroe Doctrine in South America; and Oscar Wilde was tried and convicted for gross indecency under Britain's recently passed law that made sex between males a criminal offense. When news of Wilde's conviction went out over telegraphs worldwide, it threw a small Nevada town into chaos. This is the story of what happened when the lives of its citizens were impacted the Wilde news. It is a chronicle of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating consequences, and how love and friendship bring strength and healing.

Set in the 1880s Nevada, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap is about a lesbian couple earning their livelihood on a Nevada. They live quietly, happily, keeping to themselves. Then, Britain brought in a law that made homosexuality an illegal act and the famed Oscar Wilde was charged, convicted, and imprisoned, news set telegraph wires resounding through America.

Mildred Dunlap and her lover are terrified that attention and suspicion will now fall upon them. While they try to keep themselves inconspicuous, town gossips stir up terrible trouble. As suspicions grow worse, they are helped by someone who unexpectedly comes to their aid.

Written on every page are messages of true love, individual prejudices, odium, and the power of love to overcome. A pleasantly gripping story that definitely engaged me. I’m not surprised that there are so many 5 star reviews of this novel. It is definitely worth reading.

Sunday's Child by Rosemary Morris



Back Cover

Georgianne Whitley’s happy life ends after the death of her beloved father and brothers. Sunday’s Child, Georgianne Whitley, must cope with her widowed mother in order to secure her happiness and that of her two younger sisters.

When Rupert, Major Tarrant returns to England from Spain in 1813, his family expect him to marry and father an heir, but although Tarrant wants to please his relations he has compelling reasons for not wanting to have a child.

A rich, elderly suitor desperate for a male heir seeks Georgianne’s hand in marriage. Although the titled man’s offer would improve her situation, she hesitates to accept his proposal.

Georgianne, who has known Tarrant since she was in the nursery, turns to him for help. She knows he is quixotic and that he will never fail her. Yet, even in order to help her sisters she is not sure as to whether or not she wants to accept his solution to her problems.

Tarrant admires dainty Georgianne and wants to protect her, but if he expects her to conform to Regency conventions and manners, he will be surprised. Sunday’s child is ‘fair of face’ but she is not a ‘bread and butter Miss’. Neither Tarrant nor Georgianne can guess what the future holds.

Review

Sunday’s Child is a historical romance set during the Regency period in England. The novel is comfortable to read, filled with believable characters whose lives become complicated through no fault of their own, even though they must confront and overcome their own adversities. Georgianne is a courageous, spirited heroine who holds to her convictions in order to preserve what matters most to her. Conformity is definitely not one of her qualities, which makes for a well-rounded, interesting heroine. At the same time, Major Rupert Tarrant is steadfast, honorable, and utterly romantic. The mutual need for these characters to marry is what slowly binds them together.

This is another refreshing romance by author Rosemary Morris – easy to read, sweet, and nicely old-fashioned. Excellent writing with clever dialogue are present throughout, as is a compelling storyline. For anyone who loves romances set in the Regency era, this is definitely a lovely novel to settle down with at the end of a hectic day.
Anita Davison is a Historical Fiction Author whose latest release, ‘Royalist Rebel’ a biographical novel set in 17th Century England, is being released by Claymore Press in early 2013 under the name Anita Seymour ============================================= BLOG: http://thedisorganisedauthor.blogspot.com FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/anita.davison? GOODREADS: http://www.goodreads.com/AnitaDavison =============================================

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Royalist Rebel by Anita Seymour


Back Cover Synopsis

Set in a period of great social unrest, this novel explores the various rivalries acted out between Royalist and Parliamentarian factions in 17th Century Britain. The real-life historical figure of Elizabeth Murray serves as the novels central protagonist; Countess Dysart and Duchess of Lauderdale, she inhabited Ham House, a Jacobean mansion built on the River Thames at Petersham. Throughout the reigns of Charles I, Charles II, James II, William and Mary, she became deeply embroiled in the politics of the Civil War. Wielding a great deal of influence due to her elevated position, and partaking in her fair share of adventure, she found herself right at the heart of the action. It is into this, which we are thrust, as Anita Seymour takes us on a breathtaking ride through the landscape of a divided England.



Review

Elizabeth Murray, 2nd Countess of Dysart, Lady Tollemache, Duchess of Lauderdale
Born September 1626 – died 5 June 1698


Elizabeth Murray aged 18 painted by Peter Lely in 1648
Which hangs in Ham House

Royalist Rebel is a biographical novel about the tumultuous life of Elizabeth Murray, the Countess of Dysart, and later, the Duchess of Lauderdale. Born into a noble family and staunchly loyal to King Charles, their livelihood is threatened and daily life turns perilous when civil war breaks out. Elizabeth’s royalist father works secretly for his monarch while the women of the family suffer sanctions and live in near destitution in Ham House. Rebels are everywhere and they are under constant suspicion. Faced with difficult decisions and torn between duty and love, Elizabeth strives to do what is best for those she loves.

Written in first person present tense, the feeling that you get when reading the novel is one of immediacy and clarity. Elizabeth’s character is beautifully depicted with all her virtues as well as her faults. This is due to the fact that Anita Seymour lived near Ham House and walked its corridors, its garden, its pathways. Her first hand knowledge of the scenery, décor, and locale make the story extra sharp with detail, lending it great credibility.

I believe that behind every great woman is a great man. In Elizabeth’s case, two great men – Baronet Lionel Tollemache, her loving husband of several decades, and her true love, John Maitland, Duke of Lauderdale. Both men are depicted insightfully through Elizabeth’s eyes. 

Extremely well-rounded characters and their individual dreams, ambitions, and plights pepper each page of this fascinating novel. Most importantly of all, King Charles’ execution is written with poignancy and respect, and remains one of my favourite parts of the book.   

Royalist Rebel is a novel of survival in desperate times and the ability of one one woman to overcome adversity in a period when women had little rights and were nothing more than chattel. A beautiful story with eloquent prose that truly brings the era to life! Historical fiction at its very best. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

False Pretences by Rosemary Morris


Back Cover:

Five-year-old Annabelle arrived at boarding school fluent in French and English. Separated from her nurse, a dismal shadow blights Annabelle’s life because she does not know who her parents are.

Although high-spirited, Annabelle is financially dependent on her unknown guardian. She refuses to marry a French baron more than twice her age.



Her life in danger, Annabelle is saved by a gentleman who says he will help her to discover her identity. Yet, from then on, nothing is as it seems, and she is forced to run away for the second time to protect her rescuer.


Even more determined to discover her parents’ identity, in spite of many false pretences, Annabelle must learn who to trust. Her attempts to unravel the mystery of her birth, lead to further danger, despair, unbearable heartache and even more false pretences until the only person who has ever wanted to cherish her, reveals the startling truth, and all’s well that ends well.


Review:

Rosemary Morris has penned a delightful romantic story about a young woman named Annabelle in search of her family. Raised in a boarding school, with no contact with any family member, and under the wardship of a guardian she has never met, she runs away only to find herself in danger. Roland, a handsome man of means, saves her from imminent danger. He takes her under his wing and together they work to unravel a web of lies until the shocking truth of Annabelle’s past life is revealed.

Rosemary Morris writes with ease and readability. Her characters are well rounded, evolving as the plot unfurls. This novel has a bit of everything – an endearing romance, a hint of mystery, dastardly villains, plenty of suspense, and a memorable hero and heroine who will stay with you long after you finish reading. The ending is intense as all the secrets are revealed, leading to a highly satisfying conclusion. A lovely sweet romance worthy of all age groups! 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Spirited Away by Maggie Plummer


It's May 1653. When young Frederica (Freddy) O'Brennan and her sister Aileen trust a stranger on an empty beach in western Ireland, they inadvertently place themselves in the crosshairs of Cromwell's notorious Reign of Terror. Freddy awakens in the crammed hold of a slave ship bound for Barbados. She and Aileen endure the gruesome voyage only to be wrenched apart when purchased at auction by sugar plantation owners from different islands. Freddy is left alone to face the brutal realities of life as a female Irish slave on a seventeenth century Barbados plantation. As she struggles to survive the ordeal, Freddy's harrowing experiences paint an intimate, compelling portrait of 1650s Irish and African slavery in the Caribbean.

Until I read this novel, I was unaware of the plight of the Irish during Cromwell’s period of influence in England. From the introduction, author Maggie Plummer opens her heart and explains the importance and significance of the suffering experienced by the Irish during the mid 17th century. To understand that any were placed into slavery came as a shock to me. And because of this, the novel is an important read for all those who love history. What better way to learn of the Irish’s plight than through a fabulously researched, well-told fictional novel.

The story is told through the point of view of the main character, Frederica who is stolen off an Irish beach with her younger sister, placed into the hold of a ship, and taken to Barbados to be sold into slavery. Through her eyes, readers experience the cruelty, barbaric punishments, and grueling work the Irish faced as slaves. But the novel is not all doom and gloom. Rather, there are powerful lessons woven into the tale and profound romances that go well beyond the chains of prejudice. This is a book that brings to life the very real issues of prejudices, greed, and social status against Africans, the Irish, and Aboriginals. I was hard-pressed to put the book down and read the book in one day. Highly recommended. 


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Éire’s Captive Moon by Sandi Layne


Éire's Captive Moon, the first book of Sandi Layne's Éire's Viking Trilogy, brings you to the unsettled era of the early Viking raids along the coast of Éire - today's Ireland. Red-striped sails make their first appearance on the shores near the village of Ragor and the peaceful life of the villagers is obliterated in one deadly raid. Agnarr Halvardson and his overlord, Tuirgeis, have come to Éire for treasure, honor, and slaves. After slaying her husbands, Agnarr claims Charis, the healer of the village, as his personal medicine woman - and sex slave. Cowan, a local prince, is captured by Tuirgeis to serve as translator for trading journeys. Leaving the smoking ruins of Ragor and Bangor Monastery behind them - as well as the children Charis had carefully hidden from the Northmen - the invaders sail away. Cowan, a Christian, is captivated by the pale, widowed herbalist, and finds himself in love with her by the time they reach Nordweg, where they will spend the winter. He is compelled to leave her, however, to serve his master. The winter brings many trials. An invasion from another village's warriors throws Cowan and Charis together more intimately than she is prepared to handle equitably. Her own feelings are growing uncertain, though she reminds herself that she has to return to Éire and the children she left there. As winter passes in Nordweg, Charis plans vengeance upon Agnarr even as she learns to see him differently. Beset by accusations of witchcraft, hounded by Agnarr's betrothed and her slave - a refugee Charis herself healed more than a year before - and having to adapt to the strange language and customs among the people around her, Charis still makes her plans. Will she be able to put aside her feelings and escape when spring returns? Captivating.

Éire’s Captive Moon is a novel of ancient Ireland during Viking raids. The novel is an intriguing read delving into myths that have been part of Irish culture for centuries. At the heart of the story is a romance between two healers, Achan and Charis. Tragedy, revenge, and survival are strong themes throughout this engaging story.

Compelling, three-dimensional characters who are interesting, imperfect, and very intriguing make the story pop and grab the reader’s interest as they each journey through their own adversities towards their ultimate destinies. The amount of research that went into this novel is also commendable. The romance is well drawn out without overshadowing the story. A blend of romance, fantasy, and historical fiction, make this a novel that will appeal to lovers of all three genres.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Blighted Troth by Mirella Sichirollo Patzer

Review by Christina Dionne, Guest Blogger:

Love and treachery, faith and loss, forgiveness and triumph 

in the turbulent world of the 18th century.


In 1702, on the eve of Emilie’s wedding to Robert, she catches the eye of the unscrupulous overlord, Richard Tonnacour who threatens to kill the parish priest if he performs the marriage. His eyes set on Emilie, the overlord attempts to kidnap Emilie, setting off a catastrophic chain of events that turns Emilie’s life, and that of her betrothed, into a desperate flight for their lives, separating them, and sending them straight into the arms of peril. Emilie and Robert’s plight sweeps them into the convents and taverns, the riots and small-pox epidemics of the new world where they face death and discover the true meaning of love and forgiveness. 

The Blighted Troth is a retelling of the classic novel, The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi) by Alessandro Manzoni. Inspired by this epic Italian classic novel; a new and captivating tale in a new setting, a new century, and with new plot twists while remaining faithful to key story elements.


Oh I loved it! It's a love story with lots of intrigue, drama, history, and suspense and a good combination of all of that with a nice twist at the ending which I did not expect. I don't usually go for love stories as some are just so "fluffy" But Mirella Patzer is not a fluffy writer. She weaves in lots of other stuff to make it real.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Cymberie by Maggie Freeman

Penniless and far from home with a small son in sixteenth century Essex, Elaine has no choice but to nurse the man who condemned her innocent husband to death. Energetic and resilient, she learns to read and becomes Sir Richard’s clerk. She is courted by the candlemaker in the village – and then Sir Richard’s handsome explorer son returns. But she’s an independent woman now.

CYMBERIE is a strong story with intriguing characters, the story of a young woman’s struggle against the odds to provide for her child and herself, and at the same time to find fulfilment both in the work that she does and in her personal relationships.


Cymberie is one of those books that makes you reluctant to leave the story even for a moment. I raced through this novel, intent on every word, eager to read to the end, and yearning for more when the story came to an end. It is a gut-wrenching tale of a starving young woman in extreme poverty who finds herself having to offer what little breast milk she has to the dying overlord who sentenced her innocent husband to death. Poor, destitute, unable to read and write, she must set aside her abhorrance for Sir Richard, the man she is trying to keep alive, and do what she can to save her life and that of her child.

The story is compelling and the characters highly developed who evolve in a realistic manner. Set in Essex during the 16th century, one cannot help but feel for the heroine’s predicament. Slowly, her abhorrance dissolves and she embraces her duty, gaining her the opportunity to read and write, and her overlord’s undying faith. There is love, animosity, the struggle to survive, and ultimate achievement nestled in its pages. A rich story with so much depth and realism that it captures the reader. The plot moves at a great pace with plenty of interesting circumstances to keep the pages turning. Very highly recommended. Get this book and watch it soar to success. You won’t be sorry.

The Midwife's Tale by Samuel Thomas


In the tradition of Arianna Franklin and C. J. Sansom comes Samuel Thomas’s remarkable debut, The Midwife’s Tale.

It is 1644, and Parliament’s armies have risen against the King and laid siege to the city of York. Even as the city suffers at the rebels’ hands, midwife Bridget Hodgson becomes embroiled in a different sort of rebellion. One of Bridget’s friends, Esther Cooper, has been convicted of murdering her husband and sentenced to be burnt alive. Convinced that her friend is innocent, Bridget sets out to find the real killer.


Bridget joins forces with Martha Hawkins, a servant who’s far more skilled with a knife than any respectable woman ought to be. To save Esther from the stake, they must dodge rebel artillery, confront a murderous figure from Martha’s past, and capture a brutal killer who will stop at nothing to cover his tracks. The investigation takes Bridget and Martha from the homes of the city’s most powerful families to the alleyways of its poorest neighborhoods. As they delve into the life of Esther’s murdered husband, they discover that his ostentatious Puritanism hid a deeply sinister secret life, and that far too often tyranny and treason go hand in hand.

Author Samuel Thomas has written a fascinating whodunit about a courageous midwife who plies her trade in 17th century England in the midst of a civil war. Deep in the heart of York, Widow Bridget Hodgson is a savy, quick-witted midwife with a penchant for doing good. As a midwife, she holds power and prestige – giving evidence on issues of bastardy and infanticide. Her skills take her into the dredges of poverty and into the elegant salons of the wealthy. When she is ordered by the Mayor to declare a condemned woman not pregnant, Bridget staunchly refuses in order to buy more time to help clear the woman of murder charges she knows are untrue. With the aid of her feisty and secretive servant named Martha, the two set off on this murder investigation that soon turns into a dangerous enterprise.

The author did an exceptional job in recreating 17th century York, no surprise due to the fact he is a history professor and knowledgeable. This not only lends credence to the story, but makes it shine with vividness. Memorable characters like Martha, who is much more than what she first appears to be, and powerful Bridget, who is unafraid to confront trouble at every turn, make this a gripping read from start to finish. Well disguised clues throughout the story make it difficult to predict the fabulous, unpredictable twist at the end. 


Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Cross and the Dragon by Kim Rendfeld

A tale of love in an era of war and blood feuds.

Francia, 778: Alda has never forgotten Ganelon's vow of vengeance when she married his rival, Hruodland. Yet the jilted suitor's malice is nothing compared to Alda's premonition of disaster for her beloved, battle-scarred husband.

Although the army invading Hispania is the largest ever and King Charles has never lost a war, Alda cannot shake her anxiety. Determined to keep Hruodland from harm, even if it exposes her to danger, Alda gives him a charmed dragon amulet.

Is its magic enough to keep Alda's worst fears from coming true--and protect her from Ganelon?

In Kim Rendfeld’s debut novel, set in eighth-century Europe, the heroine Alda faces a dilemma common to many marriageable heiress of the Middle Ages: submission to a husband chosen for her by others. Alda is a spitfire with a sharp wit and keen intelligence to match her spirited personality. She relies on an inherent strength and a charmed dragon amulet to fortify herself against the proposed husband, the ruthless Count Ganelon, and protect Hruodland, the proud Breton warrior who has likewise claimed her affections. Her commitment never wavers, although the rigid expectations of medieval, male-dominated society often stand in her way. Ganelon angrily refuses to accept her rejection. His dogged pursuit ensures trouble for Alda and Hruodland’s marriage.

Although Hruodland claims Alda for his own, their mutual devotion remains threatened, thanks to the connivance of his family. As the relation of King Charles the Great, better known throughout history as Charlemagne, Hruodland faces grave responsibility for the protection of his domain and the duty to sire heirs. Has he married a woman who is incapable of helping him fulfill the latter task? Before Hruodland and Alda can become parents, warfare takes him far from her and leads her to desperate choices that affect more than just her future.   

Part of the enjoyment of this novel comes from the author’s ability to create an authentic sense of time and place. She weaves a powerful tale out of a few strands of history, encapsulated in the epic poem The Song of Roland. Despite scant details mired in legend, there is great emphasis on a vivid portrayal of the medieval period. The author truly brings it to life. Alda and Hruodland’s mutual courage is equally inspiring. Both are representative of the viewpoints and attitudes of people in the Middle Ages. The Cross and the Dragon is a great debut from an author who clearly understands the period and its myriad personalities well.    

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Emperor's Conspiracy by Michelle Deiner


From nineteenth-century London’s elegant ballrooms to its darkest slums, a spirited young woman and a nobleman investigating for the Crown unmask a plot by Napoleon to bleed England of its gold.

Chance led to Charlotte Raven’s transformation from chimney sweep to wealthy, educated noblewoman, but she still walks a delicate tightrope between two worlds, unable to turn her back on the ruthless crime lord who was once her childhood protector.

When Lord Edward Durnham is tapped to solve the mystery of England’s rapidly disappearing gold, his search leads him to the stews of London, and Charlotte becomes his intriguing guide to the city’s dark, forbidding underworld. But as her involvement brings Charlotte to the attention of men who have no qualms about who they hurt, and as Edward forges a grudging alliance with the dangerous ghosts of Charlotte’s former life, she faces a choice: to continue living in limbo, or to close the door on the past and risk her heart and her happiness on an unpredictable future.

If you love historical novels with a a touch of suspense and a hint of mystery, Michelle Deiner’s latest novel, The Emperor’s Consiracy, is sure to please. The author has a knack for writing snappy, action packed novels that are quick and easy to read – pure delight for those who love to escape into a page turner.

In The Emperor’s Conspiracy, a young woman named Charlotte Raven, who rose to great wealth from the dregs of England’s impoverished slums, finds herself aiding English Lord Edward Durnham in thwarting a plot by Napoleon to steal a great deal of England’s wealth. Because of her connections to the underworld from which she was raised from, Charlotte is able to lead Edward through a maze of cutthroats, murderers, and crime lords to thwart the plot.

Set in 19th century London, the story is full of colorful characters from all walks of life. The tale sweeps us into luscious ball rooms and then plunges us into slimy back streets. The heroine struggles to move away from her past, but her character never forgets those who once aided her when she was most desperate. The author knows how to write to make reading easy and pleasurable. This story was interesting from start to finish. Definitely another winner for this terrific author. Recommended for those who love historical fiction and who want a quick and intriguing read.