Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter Weekend Special - 3 free Kindle Books

Easter Weekend Special - 3 novels free on Amazon!

Orphan of the Olive Tree

Free

March 30 and 31



A blood oath, a dreadful curse, and the evil eye. A dark family secret that will shatter lives and the woman who risks everything to keep it buried!

From two neighboring villas in the heart of the Tuscan countryside to the elegance of Siena; from a world steeped in ancient superstitions to a culture where family honour is paramount comes, this multi-layered novel of the lives, loves, secrets and strivings of two women and their families in the 13th century.

A blood oath to wed their first born children binds the Benevento and Ventura families. When Prudenza Benevento learns her nemesis, Felicia Ventura, is pregnant, she is jealous and secretly casts the curse of the evil eye upon her.

Felicia gives birth to twin boys. Jealous, Prudenza visciously resurrects an ancient superstition that unidentical twins can only come from different fathers. The scandal tears apart Felicia’s marriage and makes her an outcast in the small Italian village where they live.

Fate intervenes, and when Prudenza gives birth to twin daughters, she is desperate to save herself from the same scandal that ruined Felicia. She orders the midwife to take one daughter away. With only a gold ring and a brocade blanket as clues to the infant’s past, the midwife leaves the child and the items in an olive tree in front of a small convent. The nuns lovingly name the child Olivia and raise her.

Years later, in a shocking encounter, Olivia meets a young man named Luca. When an act of God nearly kills her, it is Luca who comes to her rescue. Soon, their love for each cannot be denied. When she finds herself with child, Luca offers to care for her and the child, but cannot wed her because he is already betrothed. Despite her misgivings, her love for Luca proves strong and Olivia places her faith in him and follows him to his new villa and a new life. Luca makes numerous unsuccessful attempts to avoid his forthcoming marriage and marry Olivia instead, but the blood oath and Church laws make it impossible.

As the date of Luca’s wedding draws near, and the secrets of Olivia’s secret past begin to surface, long buried secrets are exposed in a twist of fate no family member can anticipate.

An absorbing novel about wicked intentions, medieval superstitions, a curse uttered in envy, undisclosed secrets, unstoppable destinies, and two generations of women and the extraordinary event that will vindicate or destroy them.

The Contessa's Vendetta

Free

March 29, 30, and 31 



When faced with the ultimate betrayal, a murderous vendetta is one woman's only solution!

A deadly plague is raging, killing thousands in 17th century Vicenza Italy. Carlotta Mancini struggles to protect her family and servants, but despite her precautions, she is the one who falls prey to the deadly illness. Her body is tossed into a coffin and swiftly buried in the underground, dank confines of her family’s vault. But Carlotta is not dead; she is merely unconscious because of the illness. She returns home to her beloved husband, her best friend, and her darling daughter. But before she reveals herself to her loved ones, she learns of an endless series of lies, deceits, and betrayal. As she unravels the labyrinth of shocking treachery, her wrath breathes life to an overwhelming need for vengeance. Slowly, meticulously, she launches her diabolocial vendetta. The Contessa's Vendetta is a historical fiction thriller ripe with suspense from first page to last. A tale of betrayal and revenge that will hold you spellbound until the shocking ending! The Contessa's Vendetta is a retelling of the classic novel, Vendetta by Marie Corelli. Inspired by this epic 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.
 
The Pendant

Free for the last time ever!
March 29, 30, and 31




A lost ancient treasure.  A 100 year family feud.
And a woman with a passion richer than the bloodstone pendant she wears around her neck!

In medieval Italy, as spirited and stalwart as any man, the brazen Contessa Morena is betrothed to the impoverished, black-hearted Count Ernesto, a man desperate to escape his mounting gambling debts by marrying her and laying claim to the ancient treasure secreted somewhere in the underbelly of her castle. Morena meets her match when Amoro, the handsome and brash heir to the Duchy of Genoa, who swears an oath upon his father's grave to claim her as his bride and end the feud between their families. Soon, Amoro's virile charm awakens the passion in her steadfast heart. But a treacherous plot ensnares them; Ernesto abducts Morena and renders Amoro helpless. Embroiled in a life-and-death chase, Morena learns that not even the devious madness of her captor can destroy her love for Amoro as their hearts unite and their destinies become one.

This Italian historical romance novel has it all - an ancient mystery, a bloodstone pendant with a secret, murder, vengeance, and a love story to take your breath away!

An historical gothic romance of murder, desperation, and true love!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Camelot and Vine by Petrea Burchard

Blurb

Hawking cheap products on TV commercials suits Casey Clemens, because it's easy and it pays well. Telling lies is second nature to Casey, whether to strangers on national television or to her mother on the phone. Casey's got a decent condo, a cleaning lady, and a rich boyfriend (never mind that he's married). If Casey feels dissatisfied, all she has to do is fantasize about her hero, King Arthur.

It feels like an acting career, sort of, until the day before Casey's 40th birthday, when she loses everything she never cared about, falls through a gap in time, and accidentally saves the real King Arthur's life. The king has enemies, war encroaches, and an actress with an honesty problem has no place in a war camp. Not if she wants to make it back to the 21st century alive. Not that she could go back if she wanted to. Not that she wants to.

Review

I read a contemporary short story by Ms Burchard recently and admired the sharp, witty prose, so I was expecting something similar from Camelot and Vine, but with an historical twist. The opening delivered as expected with a sharply written cameo of a woman who has been let down by life and her family, but manages to retain a positive spin and makes jokes to keep her spirits up.

Then the heroine, Casey, finds herself inexplicably in King Arthur’s England, somewhere near Salisbury Plain fifteen hundred years in the past. No Disneyish fantasyland this where maidens wander round stone castles in wimples and the men kiss their hands at every opportunity, but a primitive, harsh world where men have to fight for what they have and then fight again to keep it. Where the middle-aged King Arthur isn’t the blond, youthful guy of the TV series, but a middle-aged, rough and ready character with an eye for treachery who warns Casey in no uncertain terms that she is a wizard sent to ‘save’ him from his enemies, and if she ceases to be of use to him - she’s dead!

Casey has to struggle with being a chained prisoner with no flushing loo, mirror or proper washing facilities, becoming a privileged visitor suffering the envy of those around her, together with all the disadvantages of being a woman in a tribal society where outsiders are treated with hostility.

The historical background, where the characters and stories of Arthur’s knights are distorted but still recognisable, is truly excellent and I enjoyed unravelling the legends from a credible historical society - had it ever existed. There are some hilarious parts too, for instance, when Casey explains she got her ‘gossamer chain mail’ at The Gap, which she hurriedly changes to ‘gap in time’ and whenever a character asks her ‘did that come from the gap too’, I couldn’t help a chuckle.

This is a beautifully written story that flows perfectly, and I found it hard to believe it is a debut novel. The fantasy aspect is tempered by Ms Burchard’s emotive writing as Casey spends her solitary hours coming to terms with her dysfunctional family and her own unsatisfactory life, and learns not to judge others by modern day standards. The author also uses her experiences as a former actress in the narrative which gives a unique and fascinating perspective to the way she describes things.

Thoroughly recommended - and I also have a guest post from Petrea on The Disorganised Author Blog for Easter too.



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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A House Near Luccoli by DM Denton


Over three years since the charismatic composer, violinist, and singer Alessandro Stradella sought refuge in the palaces and twisted alleys of Genoa, royally welcomed despite the alleged scandals and even crimes that forced him to flee from Rome, Venice, and Turin, his professional and personal life have begun to unravel again. He is offered, by the very man he is rumored to have wronged, a respectable if slightly shabby apartment and yet another chance to redeem his character and career. He moves in to the curiosity and consternation of his caretakers, also tenants, three women whose reputations are of concern only to themselves. Donatella, still unmarried in her mid-thirties, is plainly irrelevant. Yet, like the city she lives in, there are hidden longings in her, propriety the rule, not cure, for what ails her. She cares more for her bedridden grandmother and cats than overbearing aunt, keeping house and tending to a small terraced garden, painting flowers and waxing poetic in her journal. At first, she is in awe of and certain she will have little to do with Stradella. Slowly, his ego, playfulness, need of a copyist and camouflage involve her in an inspired and insidious world, exciting and heartbreaking as she is enlarged by his magnanimity and reduced by his missteps, forging a friendship that challenges how far she will go.

A House Near Luccoli is a character-driven novel about the flamboyant Baroque composer, Alessandro Stradella. 



Recognized as a genius, he is wildly eccentric and irresistibly charming. His bold, gregarious personality, eccentric manner, and ungodly manners both endear and repel. The disreputable Stradella flees to Genoa after a scandalous affair and a botched attempt at embezzling money from the Catholic Church, he arrives in Genoa. He moves into to an apartment in the same house where the unmarried, youthful spinster Donatella. She is thrilled when he hires her as his copyist. Donatella soon succumbs to this enigmatic man his fascinating life and work. The more she is drawn into his life, the more she must struggle to maintain her own identity.

Author DM Denton writes with verve and great style. In Alessandro and Donatella she has recreated the romance between them with vivid believability. The 17th century is a period of extremes – lavish wealth and devastating poverty, lofty heights and dire circumstances. As the story unfolds and more of each character is revealed, I got a strong sense of the times, its foods, clothing, music, and art. Alessandro is a lovable rogue, a bad boy who never seems to learn from his mistakes. Ultimately, it all catches up to him in a tragic ending.

I always enjoy novels of unique historical settings with lesser known heros and heroines of the times. This is one such novel. Very well put together and researched. Highly recommended.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Okatibbee Creek by Lori Crane


Review by Cori Van Housen

In the bloodiest years of our nation’s history, a young mother was left alone to endure the ravages of the Civil War and a typhoid epidemic that threatened the lives of everyone left behind. Okatibbee Creek is based on the true story of Mary Ann Rodgers, who survived the collapse of the Confederate dollar, food shortages, and the deaths of countless family members to war and disease. As she searched for a way to feed her children and her orphaned nieces and nephews, Sherman’s Union army marched through Mississippi on their way to destroy Meridian, and Mary Ann found the distant war literally on her doorstep. Help arrived just in the nick of time in the form of an unexpected champion, and Mary Ann emerged on the other side a heroic woman with an amazing story. Okatibbee Creek is a novel of historical fiction that brings the Deep South vividly to life and will have you cheering and crying through a real-life story of loss, love and survival.


During the course of a genealogical search into her roots, Lori Crane visited the grave of her third great grandmother, Mary Ann Rodgers.  After becoming acquainted with, and fascinated by, this forebear, Crane gathered data and assembled the facts of her life.  Then she put flesh on the bones, breathed imagination into it, and wove it into a novel, the result of which is Okatibbee Creek.  Told almost exclusively through Mary Ann Rodgers, the story opens in Mary’s sixth year.  It follows her through years of growing up, courtship, and motherhood, largely against the backdrop of a south torn by conflict and privation during the Civil War.

In the pre-war days, one can’t help but be astonished by the amount of babies born, the size of the families, and the complex interrelation of families.  Children grow, marry, and reproduce at an astounding rate.  Households are established, businesses formed, and small fortunes built, until war breaks out and men rush to the defense of the south.  Casualties mount as the conflict begins in earnest.  Disease claimed more in the ranks than battle, and those who remained at home were not immune to its ravages.  Anyone acquainted with history knows the losses were appalling, and Crane puts it in unique perspective.  Through the eyes of Mary, we get a glimpse of how it was for one woman, her family, extended family, and her community. 
      
Okatibbee Creek is about perseverance in the face of hardship and heartbreaking loss.  There is limited historical detail, for the weight of the text inclines towards revealing Mary’s heart.  Crane writes of Mary’s grief over several lost dear ones: “I can’t remember one moment to the next.  I don’t know how, but each moment just comes and goes and I am still alive.”  The account reads much like a diary, a page-turner of a diary.  Crane’s language is simple, yet profound.  One Christmas Eve, as families light candles for the dearly departed at a church service, Mary makes the poignant observation, “The room is brighter than a wheat field on a sunny day.”  It is such juxtaposing of the tragic with the hopeful that makes this novel shine. 
    
Lori Crane is sensitive and respectful of the subjects at hand.  She does not dwell on the more difficult aspects of slavery, which to some may seem a convenience, but it must be said that this is clearly not the aim of the book.  The slave stories, besides, are based on original accounts of the era.  She also refrains from delving into the more intimate details of Mary’s personal life, an omission one might expect from a proper southern lady of the time.  Her theme, as stated through Mary, is that we must honor the memories of our loved ones, and give witnesses to each other’s lives.  And in Okatibbee creek, this is exactly what Lori Crane has done--given faithful witness to these long-since passed on family members.  One likes to think Mary Ann Rodgers herself would be proud.

Destiny at Oak Valley by Jeffree Wyn Itrich


In Destiny at Oak Valley, Rachel Kingston begins a casual exploration of a New Mexican ghost town with her adopted sister. Little does she know the trip will take her on a time-traveling adventure to the town's past and a powerful connection to a man who is unlike any she has ever known.

Rachel, a licensed balloon operator, uses her skills to navigate the skies above New Mexico to Oak Valley, a Victorian-era settlement that existed for less than 20 years, until the gold rush ended. Without a railway connection, the town's residents abandoned it. While exploring the streets with their boarded-up structures, Rachel exhibits an otherworldly perception of the past, centered on a property denoted by a plaque, "La Querencia" and she finds an oval cameo on a gold chain. Beneath years of dirt and grime, the features of a man and woman are visible. There is also an inscription, "To R, My Querencia, Love M." Rachel keeps the old jewelry, though mystified by uncanny feelings about it.

On the next day's balloon ride, Rachel is alone when a dense fog bank. When she is finally able to land her balloon, she meets Dr. William Bradshaw who is shocked by her sudden appearance, and strangely mystified by her clothing. After several misunderstandings, both reach a startling conclusion: Rachel has traveled to Oak Valley of the past through an experiment Dr. Bradshaw triggered. The cameo that she had found is also missing. 

Trapped in time, Rachel has a few adjustments ahead. Learning the walk, talk and dress of a 19th century woman is sometimes difficult. It does not help that Bradshaw's granddaughter Emily clearly disbelieves the story of Rachel as the doctor's assistant, one who has no clothes of her own except for items the little cannot identify. Matt, Dr. Bradshaw’s handsome son, also challenges Rachel's notions about men and allows her to open up new possibilities for her future.  The largest obstacle facing Rachel remains how to return to her own time.

Destiny at Oak Valley was an easy read. The ending is not as predictable as it seemed at the outset. The descriptions are vivid and reflect the characteristic features of the New Mexican landscape. While Rachel is definitely a woman of her time, she is capable of tempering a tough stance when practical needs demand a change. The relationship she and Matt share progresses despite their differences. It is a good love story, but also a journey of self-discovery.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Taming Her Forbidden Earl by Catherine Hemmerling

BOOK BLURB

Everyone knows William Bredon, the earl of Pembroke, has a reputation as a captivating rogue, determined to never marry until his duty to produce an heir requires it. So when he invites Lady Hannah Rochester to dance, Hannah vows to keep her distance. But the undeniably gorgeous William, with his dark humor and seductive gaze, draws her in nonetheless.

Of course, Lady Hannah is not completely what she seems, either. A member of the dowager Lady Lancaster’s Garden Society, she secretly spends her days solving mysteries and uncovering intrigues, and when she brings William into the fold, a sinister plot develops that brings the two closer together. William’s protective nature ensures he remains by Hannah’s side, but he will not surrender his anti-marriage stance.

Can intrigue, passion, and maybe even a little bit of scandal reform the most notorious of rakes?

REVIEW BY ANITA

Lady Lancaster's Garden Society gathers ostensibly to exchange gardening tips, but is more an informal detective agency where the ladies help those in trouble by gleaning information discreetly from the drawing rooms of high society.

I liked the premise of this story, even if the first few pages contain a lot of names to get to grips with as the author’s characters cavort around a ballroom. The narrative also jumps into omniscient point of view which can be confusing if you are used the current trend of writing in a specific ‘head’, but I got used to it.

Lord Shrewsbury is determined to marry Hannah, whose title and dowry are just as attractive as her person and he doesn’t care how he goes about it, or that Hannah herself is repulsed by him. When his attempt at compromising her doesn’t work, Shrewsbury reveals he has some information which will ruin her brother, David -information he will keep to himself if Hannah becomes his bride. When she discovers William Bredon, Earl of Pembroke’s brother is also involved and under threat, the two join forces.

This story isn’t wildly dramatic, but the villain is suitably odious, the hero charmingly reticent but strong and capable, and the leading lady feisty and characterful. Some of the antics and conversations are well crafted and quite funny, and the ending is delightfully satisfactory - as an historical romance, this novel ticks all the boxes.

On a less complimentary note, the tone is too modern, and although the word ‘ton’ is sprinkled liberally throughout the narrative I kept having to remind myself it was set in early 19th Century. The villain’s name is Caleb - not one I have ever encountered in Regency England before, especially among the aristocracy - but what do I know, and terms like ‘body language’, ‘taking the man out’, and ‘powers of observation’ were used, which I felt belonged in a different time.

Then there is the moment Hannah takes proper notice of William, describing him as ‘downright mouth-wateringly gorgeous.’ Really? In the early 1800’s? And his opinion of her is that, ‘She is just so damn cute.’ - not what you would expect to come out of the mouth of a 19th Century English lord.

This is a sweet romance but there is a sex scene, where Hannah tells the reader she has never seen a nude man before, but then she gasps in panic and declares ‘it won’t work’- How? She hasn’t seen a nude man before so what is her basis of comparison? And William isn’t that much of a gentleman either, bedding Hannah before they are even engaged let alone married. - The cad!

Villain Caleb turns up at the end to spoil things and Hannah manages to escape his clutches by blowing a two-fingered whistle so loudly he lets go of her - most unladylike - and the author running out of plot devices there I think - but I was glad Hannah wasn’t stabbed by Caleb whose ‘intense ice blue eyes and butter-blond hair’ was sinister to say the least.

If you like sweet romances with delightful characterisation and dialogue, you will enjoy this book. But if you are a stickler for historical accuracy you may find some parts annoying.




Anita Davison is a Historical Fiction Author whose latest release, ‘Royalist Rebel’ a biographical novel set in 17th Century England released by Claymore Press under the name Anita Seymour

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Vlad: The Last Confession by C.C. Humphreys


For centuries, the ruler Vlad Dracula has been mired in horrific legends and vampiric folklore inspired by Bram Stoker's wildest imaginings. Author C. C. Humphreys strips away some of the superstitions and reveals aspects of the real man who fought against the Ottoman Turks in Vlad: The Last Confession. In the years after his death, those who knew him best gather to offer their unique perspectives on Vlad's troubled life. The reader meets Vlad's best friend and Ion Tremblac, his lover Ilona Ferenc and a man who once served as Vlad's confessor. Viewed through their eyes, Vlad's turbulent past comes to life, beginning with captivity among his lifelong enemies, the Turks.

Ion and Vlad endure a fragile existence among the Turks during their formative years, along with Vlad's younger brother Radu. Although Vlad remains beholden to the Turks for his education and his very life, he never loses sight of the differences between himself and his captors. He takes what he can from them, including the lessons offered by the charming Hamza, who shares Vlad's love of falconry.  When a chance meeting with the concubine Ilona, Vlad's countrywoman, gives him the chance to thwart the vain Prince Mehmet, Vlad soon regrets his actions. There are harsh teachings about the cost of betraying the Turks awaiting Vlad in Tokat, where he learns a fundamental principle that influences future dealings with his enemies. Vlad emerges from the ordeal only to find himself bereft of a father and brothers, even his beloved Radu. Destiny takes him home where he attempts to forge a principality strong enough to survive the Turkish onslaught. There are enemies intent on destroying him and Vlad's brutal methods embolden them against him. Even the beguiling Ilona does not offer the comfort Vlad seeks. Friendships, love affairs and alliances are only a temporary respite from the true cause that calls to him: the destruction of the Turks.

Humphreys portrays a ruler who is principled but brutal, wise in the ways of the Turks but bold and rash in his determined fights against them. Vlad is a man of many contradictions, as ruthless as his enemies' imaginings. He is hero and tyrant, savior and destroyer, a devoted but sadistic lover. He inspires sympathy for his cruel suffering among the Turks, his losses among family and friends. Yet, it is impossible to ignore the consequences of his savagery and the impact upon those who love and know him best. In the end, Humphreys leaves it up to the reader to form an opinion of Vlad. Whatever anyone may think of him, he's a vivid character who leaves a lasting impression.              

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Treasuring Theresa by Susana Ellis


BOOK BLURB

At the betrothal ball of the man she had expected to marry herself, Lady Theresa latches on to the most dashing gentleman present, hoping to divert attention from her own humiliation. That gentleman happens to be her father’s distant cousin and heir, Damian Ashby, a useless London fribble, in her opinion. He is not favorably impressed with her either.

But when her father becomes mortally ill and Damian is unwillingly obligated to spend time with her at the Earl’s country estate, the two of them unexpectedly find admirable qualities in each other and discover a mutual attraction.

But can a London swell and a country lady ever make their diverse lives and interests work together?


REVIEW BY ANITA


This story is an Elloras Cave ‘Quickie’   - it's longer than a short story, but not as long as an average book. It is very well-written and contains some interesting Regency phrases I have never encountered before: eg.  ‘dicked in the nob’  I think it means he was mistaken, or have I forgotten my Georgette Heyer?

Theresa is a young woman whose beau has married another woman, her father is not only unwell but his circumstances have been reduced by the actions of an embezzling business partner. When Theresa has to face the fact her father is dying and as a result, his reduced and entailed estate will go to Damien Ashley, a man only interested in London Society who has a Darcy-esque attitude to ‘country girls’ i.e. they aren’t worth his valuable time.

Ashley makes a dutiful and reluctant visit to Granville Hall, and what he finds there comes as a surprise.
Theresa is pragmatic about her change in fortunes and has turned her intellect to managing her father’s ailing estate and has no time for small talk or flirting at tea parties.

Theresa and Damien, from initial hostility, find they are physically attracted to each other, but the circumstances of their being thrown together makes it difficult to admit that their growing feelings are genuine.
There is a little dancing around and misunderstandings, but the story, which comes to an end far too quickly, is that the pair realize that a marriage between them is not only convenient, but what they both want.

A must for Regency enthusiasts.




Anita Davison is a Historical Fiction Author whose latest release, ‘Royalist Rebel’ a biographical novel set in 17th Century England released by Claymore Press under the name Anita Seymour

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Ming Storytellers by Laura Rahme


It is the 15th Century. At the dawn of the Ming Dynasty, three women's path will cross. And of their journey, a tale will be born. An imperial concubine, a Persian traveler, and a mysterious storyteller. Three women: One story.

This is BEIJING. A city seething with mystery and royal intrigue. Once a palace orphan, the wilful Min Li has only ever sought to please, even if that means pleasing Emperor Zhu Di. Now a powerful concubine, Min Li unearths a terrible secret concealed within the walls of Beijing's Imperial city. Driven to despair, she seeks help from her lover, Admiral Zheng He. But this will spark a chain of events that even sets Beijing's palace on fire. Min Li's fate is sealed but her true enemy is not who she thinks.

The Ming Storytellers is a historical tale of 15th century China that sweeps across the palaces of Nanjing and Beijing into the mountainous villages of Yunnan, where a mysterious shaman holds the key to a woman's destiny. 

Across the oceans, from the bustling bazaars of Southern India to the lush shores of Zanzibar, nothing is quite what it seems. For the eyes and ears of the Ming Emperor are ever near. 

A tale of the far East replete with dark secrets, The Ming Storytellers is set during the early Ming Dynasty, soon after the reconquest of The Middle Kingdom from the Mongols.

The Ming Storytellers delves into the political and personal intrigues of the Zhu Imperial family. On the eve of the great Beijing Palace fire and the Ming fleet's sixth expedition, an imperial concubine is swept up by dark forces of obsession and revenge. The Ming Storytellers is a must journey for historical travelers and for those who believe in the bridging between worlds.


Filled with fascinating characters, The Ming Storytellers is a novel of 15th century China. The author weaves together the paths and destinies of several compelling characters. Historical detail is carefully woven into the details seamlessly. The story takes place inside the Forbidden City, a place of intrigue and danger. The paths of the emperor’s Admiral Zheng He cross with those of the emperor’s favourite concubine, Ming Li causing conflict throughout. And my favourite character is the poor eunuch who was castrated at a young age and is forced into a life of servitude.

This novel contains a wonderful romance, a fascinating mystery, heartbreaking scenes of cruelty, and an intricate plot that held my interest. Although not a fast paced novel, the story moved steadily forward to a satisfying ending that bound together the lives of the characters. There are a lot of characters, and that, coupled with foreign names and titles, can make this book a little intimidating at first, but soon, I became used to it and the book flowed smoothly.


Friday, March 8, 2013

HerStory Launches! Prizes and Giveaways


In ancient times, women were regarded as sacred. They were thought to hold the mystical power of creation—responsible for the continuation of our species. With the rise of Science and Religion, these myths were dispelled and their plight began.

HerStory: Fiction Honoring Women’s History Month is a collection of Flash Fiction and Short Stories from today's top authors featuring female characters that exemplify strong strength of mind, body, and character. Some of these tales are based on real people while others are purely fictional. However, all are standing up for themselves and what they believe in.

Grab yourself a glass of wine or favorite hot beverage and get comfortable as you read about the lives of women who will light the fire in your soul.

It's finally here. HerStory. Available to the masses. And to honor release day, we're having a party. Use the Rafflecopter below to enter to win some terrific prizes. *U.S. residents only*

Here's what's up for grabs.


GRAND PRIZE

First Grand Prize
First Grand Prize
Because they have the same agenda: empowering girls/women, Keira's Kollection owner Mr. Wagstaff has graciously agreed to donate a Strong is Beautiful T-shirt. One very lucky woman is not only going to walk away with a paperback copy of HerStory and be empowered through words, but she will also be showing her empowerment right there on her shirt.

And that's not all, the grand prize winner also gets a pair of earrings from Cathy from Etsy, who runs Yesware. The earrings sparkle one side and have a message on the other side: the greatest story never told.

Only, we're telling it, the authors of HerStory. We are telling it.



SECOND GRAND PRIZE



Author Laura DeLuca has donated an incense diffuser to go along with some handmade soap from Greenchild Creations.

And we're throwing an e-book into this mix. Why soap and diffusers? What does that have to do with women's history?

In HerStory, Mathilda of Ringelheim runs a bath house. It seems appropriate to honor herstory this way.


AND as Mathilda seems to know, every woman needs soap and every woman needs time to relax. So one lucky winner will take a nice long shower with her fantastic handmade soap, set her diffuser on a table, and curl up with HerStory on her kindle. Who says you can't be relaxed and empowered at the same time? (and smell good)






THIRD GRAND PRIZE

Another donation from Laura DeLuca: an ebook, a Japanese tea set, and an Oriental incense diffuser. How does this tie into HerStory?

In Please Stay, Asuka, a Japanese wife of the 1600s, is preparing the evening meal while awkwardly trying to discuss a matter--somewhat delicate--but of great importance with her husband.

As you get lost in your ebook, in Asuka's story (penned by Becca Diane), you can pretend you are there. Perhaps you feel your husband's penetrating stare. But you serve him his tea, straighten your spine, and say what needs to be said...then wait, breath held, for his reply, incense lightening the tension in the air...



FOURTH GRAND PRIZE


One lucky winner will have a chance to make their voice heard on the radio...with a $25 Amazon gift card burning a hole in their pocket!

HerStory goes behind the scenes to locate the stories of women who lived, laughed, and touched the lives of generations...

Now, here is your chance to have your story told to the world....or your mother's...it's your chance to talk about the most inspiring woman or women in YOUR life. Shout it out! Tell listeners everywhere about this amazing person. Honor her!

This prize is being donated by Indie Reviews Behind the Scenes.


PRIZE 5, FOUR WINNERS, FOUR TINS OF EMPOWERMINTS



Four of these tins of mints are being donated by the Unemployed Philosophers Guild. That means four lucky winners are going to win a tin of mints to carry around in their pockets and every time they look at the tin, they'll be empowered!

The tin is also the perfect size to serve as a pillbox once the mints are gone. This is something you can keep for a LONG time.




PRIZE 6, TWO WINNERS, CROSS STITCH WALL HANGINGS

Author and editor Tara Chevrestt has a secret addiction and hobby. It makes her feel like an old lady, so she keeps it under wraps, but now the truth is out...


She likes to cross stitch!!!

And with the suffragette tales (Sister Suffragettes by Dahlia DeWinters and Chevrestt's own From You No and Silent Suffragette) in the back of her mind, she found a pattern on Etsy by Patternbird and set to stitching.

Two lucky winners will walk away with these. They are 3.25" by 6" and have a hard backing so they may be placed on a wall.



PRIZE 7, ONE WINNER, FLAPPER-STYLE HAT


Donated from Rakestraw Book Design.

Toni Rakestraw, one of the HerStory contributors, is stitching this hat so one lucky reader can--in her mind--march in a suffragette parade as she reads HerStory. Or perhaps this is something Margaret Sanger would have worn as she leaves the workhouse in The Woman Rebel.


PRIZE 8, ONE WINNER, ONE PAINTING



You've heard the term multi-published and many of HerStory's authors can place that before their name, but how about multi-talented?

Author Morgan Summerfield can not only write as she shoes us in Adella, but she can paint too! She is kindly donating a painting 27" wide by 11" high, titled Morning Poppies. The frame is handmade with real wood and she stretches all her own canvases. It is hand-painted-by her!-in multi media.


And last, but certainly not least, we have a lovely Coco Chanel quote pendant donated by the lovely Jewelry Designs by Lula. One winner will win this delightful pendant that says  A girl should be things: WHO and WHAT she wants.

I could not have said it better.

Enter for all prizes using the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is for three weeks. Winners will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to respond with their snail mail addresses. After 48 hours, new winners will be chosen.

Thank you and enjoy HerStory! Be empowered! Learn something. Believe in yourself and womankind.

Buy links:




The Day Embroidered by Anne Brear


The Scottish Highlands, 1899. A life altering event led Catrina Davies to hide from her family and society. Alone in The Highlands she exists in a lonely world cared for only by her saviour, a kind old gentleman. When she receives a surprise visitor, Travis Millard, the man she used to love, her head and heart are thrown into turmoil. Travis is determined to save her from this poor life and return her to her family where she belongs. No one is more surprised than he when she agrees to marry him. When Catrina arrives back at her family estate, Davmoor Court in Yorkshire, she is stunned to see the changes. While her father clings to life, Davmoor is nearly ruined by her brother's gambling obsession, and there is something strange about his new wife. As Catrina adjusts to her regained position in society and being with Travis, her marriage comes under attack from Travis's grandmother, who has her own secrets and reason for loathing the Davies family. When one of her brother's adversaries comes to stake his claim on the estate, the resulting chaos threatens not only Catrina's home, but the very lives of those she loves the most. Can she find the strength to fight once more for the right to be happy?

Author Anne Brear has long been a favourite of mine and this new release is in keeping with success of her previous novels. If you’ve never read a novel by Anne Brear, then you are in for an exceptional treat if this is your first, and rest assured, it won’t be your last. To read a novel by this author evokes memories of reading books by Catherine Cookson or Jane Plaidy. Most of her novels are set in Victorian era England, a time of tumult and great change. And they are always compelling and richly told.

Like all her novels, at the heart of The Day Embroidered, is an exceptionally courageous woman and a family with dark secrets. Catrina comes from a well-to-do family who has fled the security of her family home because of an inaccurate, unjust scandal. Befriended by her benefactor, an elderly, wealthy, childless gentleman, who is like a father to her, she lives in a secluded cottage in The Highlands. When her ex-beau, Travis arrives to see for himself what has become of Catrina and if the rumors are true that she has taken up with a man old enough to be her father, he learns the truth and urges her to return home. With the blessing of her adopted father, she returns home with Travis, only to find her family’s estate is in dire peril due to her brother’s gambling debts and mismanagement.

Anne Brear has once again weaved a story where her heroine must face insurmountable problems and unfathomable dilemmas. As in real life, her characters are imperfect, each with his or her own past issues to resolve, making her tale seem very real and probable. Years of research has enabled the author to write with reality and historical accuracy. The author’s love of England and York come through with every word. Exceptional writing, compelling characters, and a rich tale with plenty of plot twists, kept me reading. I finished this book in two sittings because I simply struggled to put it down. 
         

Dead Born by Joan Lock

Book Blurb

When the bodies of a number of babies are found scattered around Islington, the volatile Detective Sergeant Best is sent undercover to lodge next door to a suspected baby farm. He shadows an alleged 'child dropper' onto a Thames pleasure steamer and finds himself caught up in Britain's worst civilian tragedy — the 1878 sinking of the Princess Alice — a ghastly experience which will haunt Best forever. His determination to avenge the death of a young pregnant girl he had befriended and save the life of another becomes a crusade. Meanwhile, his beloved Helen returns from Paris with the promise of a decision as to their future. Previously published by Robert Hale in 2002

Review

Ernest Best is a young widower with a sentimental heart, which along with his dark Mediterranean good looks makes him an unusual character in East End London’s police force. Sent under cover in a boarding house to uncover a ‘baby farm’, he befriends a pregnant girl named Nella, who disappears suddenly from the house he is watching.

Best spots Martha, another girl who works there, leaving one day with a suitcase and goes in pursuit, convinced she is about to dispose of yet another dead baby.However, when he catches up with Martha aboard the Princess Alice steamboat,  he instigates a conversation with her. Martha turns out to be innocent, relatively, but while they are discussing the goings on in the house next door, the Princess Alice collides with the Bywell Castle and sinks in minutes.

Best throws himself into not only trying to survive, but helps the rescue mission, among them a small boy named Joseph.  he aftermath of the tragedy is chaos and Best’s lady friend, Helen, newly arrived from Paris, does her utmost to help him get over the trauma of over six hundred dead and locate little Joseph’s family, but he still has a case to solve.

Ms Lock’s in-depth knowledge of the less salubrious areas of Victorian London are masterful, but in some places this encumbers the actual story as she tends to hook into a particular aspect and then expands on it so much it becomes a distraction.  

That is the most critical I can be about this novel, which is wonderfully written and so compelling I read it at one session. The characters are well drawn, memorable and very much of their time without being cliche. The tragedy of the Woolwich Ferry is detailed, and poignant without being mawkish. The author doesn’t baulk at describing the worse sides of life in East End London in the 1870's, including the casual incompetence of the Victorian police, something Best has to overcome as his moral compass points in the right direction.

This novel is a sequel to a previous Ernest Best story, 'Dead Image', and according to the author website it’s not the only one. It's not a long book, but I became fond of Ernest and his lovely relationship with the toddler Joseph. I will definitely read more books by this author.

Joan Lock is a retired policewoman who also has published an impressive list of non-fiction titles about crime in Victorian London which any author would find a valuable research source.

Click here for more about the Princess Alice Disaster:
Joan Lock's Website

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

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BLOG: http://thedisorganisedauthor.blogspot.com
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/anita.davison?
GOODREADS: http://www.goodreads.com/AnitaDavison
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Monday, March 4, 2013

Brandy Row by Shelagh Mazey


Brandy Row takes place on the Isle of Portland between 1830 and 1851 – when smuggling was rife and the close knit community armed themselves against foreigners or ‘Kimberlins’.

A young fisherman, Matthew, has fallen for Violet, the beautiful daughter of a smuggler. They are childhood sweethearts when the new Customs Riding Officer arrives on the scene. Richard Dryer is handsome and shrewd and a worthy protagonist for the smugglers, but trouble is brewing for everyone when Violet falls in love with him. Knowing that she risks being ostracised by her family and friends Violet has to make a decision that will have repercussions throughout the rest of her life.


Brandy Row is a family saga that encompasses two generations, it puts the flesh and bones on the history of Portland. It begins at a time when the only access to Portland was by rope ferry and leads up to the construction of the breakwater. Brandy Row also fictionalises the arrival of the convicts on their way to the Verne prison prior to transportation and the traditions, celebrations, superstitions and customs of Portland at that time. It features smuggling, sea rescues, attempted rape and murder, blackmail, imprisonment, tragedies and heartache.

Brandy Row is the first of a new regional saga series that follows one family across a generation and takes place chronologically throughout the 19th century.


One of the main reasons historical fiction is so beloved is because readers can journey to an unusual place and time and immerse themselves with fascinating characters who face adversity. In this regard, Brandy Row really delivers!

Portland is a tiny island south of Dorchester and Weymouth in the English channel. There is a unique flavour and strong culture there. In the 19th century, Portland’s tight knit community survived through the smuggling of goods and alcohol. At the heart of the story is a love triangle between a young woman named Violet, her childhood sweetheart, Matthew, and a handsome Customs Officer named Richard Dyer. The plot is further complicated by the hazards of life, sea storms and rescues, and numerous tragedies and injustices.

The author did an outstanding job of bringing to life the uniqueness of the setting and culture of the tiny isle. It is historical accurate and detailed. Written with lovely prose and rich storytelling, this was a totally immersing novel.