Showing posts with label Book Excerpts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book Excerpts. Show all posts

9 June 2021

[Blog Tour] 'Sisters at War' By Clare Flynn #HistoricalFiction #WW2

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[Blog Tour] 'Sisters at War' By Clare Flynn #HistoricalFiction #WW2
Sisters at War - Tour Banner

The Book:

Sisters at War
By Clare Flynn
  • Publication Date: 1st May 2021
  • Publisher: Cranbrook Press
  • Page Length: 314 Pages
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

The Blurb:

1940 Liverpool. The pressures of war threaten to tear apart two sisters traumatised by their father’s murder of their mother.

With her new husband, Will, a merchant seaman, deployed on dangerous Atlantic convoy missions, Hannah needs her younger sister Judith more than ever. But when Mussolini declares war on Britain, Judith's Italian sweetheart, Paolo is imprisoned as an enemy alien, and Judith's loyalties are divided.

Each sister wants only to be with the man she loves but, as the war progresses, tensions between them boil over, and they face an impossible decision.

A heart-wrenching page-turner about the everyday bravery of ordinary people during wartime. From heavily blitzed Liverpool to the terrors of the North Atlantic and the scorched plains of Australia, Sisters at War will bring tears to your eyes and joy to your heart.
[Blog Tour] 'Sisters at War' By Clare Flynn #HistoricalFiction #WW2
Sisters at War - Front Cover 

'Sisters at War' - Excerpt:

At some point his luck was going to run out. As a merchant seaman, Will Kidd was only too aware of the heavy losses sustained by merchant ships and yet, so far, he had come through the first months of the war with barely a sight of a German vessel. On the way south through the Bay of Biscay, towards Gibraltar, just two weeks ago, they had spotted the periscope of a submarine, only to find on closer inspection that it was a piece of driftwood. They had also identified a German warship off the south coast of Ireland but either it was running low on fuel and heading for home, unwilling for an encounter with a convoy, or somehow it failed to spot them. Either way, it sailed on without engaging. Such good fortune could not last forever.

This morning, Will was keeping watch as they headed back to England. The Christina was straggling along, heavily laden with cargo. Being low in the water, they’d been unable to sustain the eight knots the rest of the convoy were keeping to, and Captain Palmer had requested permission for them to continue alone. They were following a course as far from the Spanish and Portuguese coast as possible, as the risk of being sighted was less the further out to sea they were.

Will scanned the dark water around him with a practised eye, all too aware that somewhere out there, danger was lurking. The stretches closer to home were always the most perilous.

The Christina was an ageing tramp steamer. Will knew the ship like the back of his hand, having served on her between African ports before the war. The vessel was slow, cumbersome and would have been all too easily picked off trailing at the rear of the convoy. Better to take their chances alone, rather than slow the other ships down. But the problem of leaving the shelter of the convoy was that they only had a four-inch, low-angle gun, a relic from the last war. If a torpedo struck, they could be heading to the bottom of the sea before they had a chance to fire a shot back.

Night was falling. Will was near the end of his watch and looking forward to a few hours’ sleep. At first, he thought he saw a pod of dolphins, then realised it was moving much too fast – a line of bubbles crossing the bows from starboard to port. Grabbing the voice pipe, he sounded the alarm whistle and within moments Captain Palmer was beside him on the bridge.

‘Bring her about!’ Palmer ordered and the helmsman swung the ship through ninety degrees. The captain ordered them to increase speed but, even at full throttle, the Christina was too slow for a U-boat, even a submerged one whose speed would be constrained by battery power.

As the captain reached for the steam whistle to alert the rest of his sleeping crew, Will saw the unmistakable phosphorescent trail of a torpedo as it narrowly missed the Christina’s bow, closely followed by another.

‘Send an SSS with our coordinates,’ the captain instructed the radio operator.

The first officer appeared on the bridge. ‘Torpedo near miss off the stern.’

‘Turn her again. To port, hard about ninety degrees.’

The Christina turned again so that the stern of the ship faced the attacker. Will was astonished. Three torpedoes and none of them on target. He could barely believe their luck. It couldn’t hold out.

‘Full steam ahead.’ The captain was holding them on a steady course, hoping to put some distance between them before the U-boat fired another torpedo.

Will was the first to see the sub as it surfaced on the port side. He sent out an alarm as shells began raining down.

The radio officer was frantically sending out signals that they were under submarine attack; the Germans were targetting the ship’s aerial masts. The only gun, better suited to anti-aircraft defence, was little use at the angle required to fire at a surfaced submarine.

Palmer continued to steer the Christina on a random zigzag path, to make aiming as difficult as possible for the German vessel, aided by the cover of darkness.

But the shelling had only just begun. The Christina shook and groaned under the onslaught of fire from close range. Shells exploded everywhere across the decks.

Will looked at Captain Palmer, awaiting instructions.

‘Bastards.’ Palmer’s voice was grim. He grabbed the megaphone and gave the order.

‘Abandon ship.’

The booming of exploding torpedoes continued. Water rushed down the companion ways. Steam shot up as a boiler exploded. Torchlights cut through the blackness of the night.

Everything was happening so fast. Will staggered along the deck to supervise the lowering of the port lifeboat, under the constant bombardment from shellfire.

Looking back, he saw the captain flinging the confidential books overboard, consigning them to the depths, safe from German hands.

As the bosun climbed into the port lifeboat to ready it for lowering, a shell exploded on the deck beside them. Will watched in horror. The explosion killed the first officer instantly and sent the bosun and the lifeboat plunging headlong into the roiling sea. Blinding lights, confusion, noise, pitching back and forth. Will looked over the side but there was no sign of the bosun. Just a mess of shattered timber floating on the black void of the sea.

The Germans must have known that they were abandoning ship, yet the U-boat had fired regardless. Will and the rest of the crew followed Captain Palmer over to the other side where they managed to lower the starboard lifeboat and clamber on board, fumbling in the dark, lit only by torchlight. The waves crashed against the Christina and buffeted the lifeboat as it went into the water.

The boat moved away from the ship and the men watched as the German U-boat continued to hammer shells into the now-blazing hull of the Christina. It was sport – like throwing balls at a fairground coconut shy. Shattering. Blasting. On and on, remorselessly.

The pounding of the old girl was painful to the whole crew. A slow noisy torture. They sat huddled in the lifeboat surrounded by the cold sea, watching transfixed.

It took a full hour before the Christina gave a few earsplitting creaks, roaring like an animal in the jaws of a lion, before she finally succumbed and slipped beneath the waves. No one spoke. But there was a collective sigh as the vessel that had been their home disappeared.

The silence was broken by Captain Palmer reciting the Lord’s Prayer. Thinking of their two lost comrades, the men joined in or bowed their heads respectfully, regardless of their religious beliefs.

Its brutal task complete, the U-boat slid away into the darkness. The destruction of the Christina had been performed with complete disregard for human life or the terms of the Geneva Conventions. The men, drenched with salt water, shivering from cold and shock, began to sing to keep their spirits up, before hoisting sail.

Will exchanged looks with Captain Palmer. They were the longest-serving on the Christina. Will could imagine what Palmer must be going through having lost his ship as well as one of his three officers and a valued crew member. Whilst not the fastest or most elegant of vessels, the Christina had been home to them for a long time and both men had many memories.

The lifeboat limped along, through mercifully calmer seas, in what the compass indicated was towards the north-west coast of Spain. Will sent up a silent prayer of thanks that his life had been spared in his first encounter with the enemy. He would be seeing Hannah again soon.
[Blog Tour] 'Sisters at War' By Clare Flynn #HistoricalFiction #WW2
Clare Flynn

Author Bio:

Clare Flynn is the author of thirteen historical novels and a collection of short stories. A former International Marketing Director and strategic management consultant, she is now a full-time writer.

Having lived and worked in London, Paris, Brussels, Milan and Sydney, home is now on the coast, in Sussex, England, where she can watch the sea from her windows. An avid traveler, her books are often set in exotic locations.

Clare is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of The Society of Authors, ALLi, and the Romantic Novelists Association. When not writing, she loves to read, quilt, paint and play the piano.

Connect with Clare Flynn:

Website ✔ Twitter ✔ Facebook ✔:Amazon Author Page ✔:Goodreads ✔

[Blog Tour] 'Sisters at War' By Clare Flynn #HistoricalFiction #WW2
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1 June 2021

[Blog Tour] 'The Usurper King' (The Plantagenet Legacy, Book 3) By Mercedes Rochelle #HistoricalFiction

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[Blog Tour] 'The Usurper King'  (The Plantagenet Legacy, Book 3)  By Mercedes Rochelle #HistoricalFiction
'The Usurper King' - Tour Banner

The Book:

The Usurper King
(The Plantagenet Legacy, Book 3)
By Mercedes Rochelle
  • Publisher: Sergeant Press
  • Page Length: 308 Pages
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

The Blurb:

From Outlaw to Usurper, Henry Bolingbroke fought one rebellion after another.

First, he led his own uprising. Gathering support the day he returned from exile, Henry marched across the country and vanquished the forsaken Richard II. Little did he realize that his problems were only just beginning. How does a usurper prove his legitimacy? What to do with the deposed king? Only three months after he took the crown, Henry IV had to face a rebellion led by Richard's disgruntled favorites. Worse yet, he was harassed by rumors of Richard's return to claim the throne. His own supporters were turning against him. How to control the overweening Percies, who were already demanding more than he could give? What to do with the rebellious Welsh? After only three years, the horrific Battle of Shrewsbury nearly cost him the throne—and his life. It didn't take long for Henry to discover that that having the kingship was much less rewarding than striving for it.
[Blog Tour] 'The Usurper King'  (The Plantagenet Legacy, Book 3)  By Mercedes Rochelle #HistoricalFiction
'The Usurper King' - Front Cover

'The Usurper King' - Excerpt:

The Duke of York confronts Henry Bolingbroke:

York was waiting for them at the Church of St. Mary's. It was an old edifice hosting many generations of the Berkeley family within its humble vaulted nave. Accompanied by his nobles, Henry pushed open the door and slowly entered, looking over the silent effigies lining both sides of the church. The Duke of York stood before the altar, waiting in the gloom. At his side hovered John Beaufort and a handful of knights like so many ghosts.

Henry could just imagine that the king's regent wanted nothing more than to sit down; he knew his uncle suffered from severe arthritis, and this audience was undoubtedly a strain for him. The newcomers moved closer. York's face, usually so affable, was drawn and frowning. Despite himself, Henry felt a pang of guilt.

Putting his hands on his hips, the duke stuck out his chin. "You have much to answer for, Henry Bolingbroke. How dare you drag your horde of bandits across England, pillaging the good people who have done nothing to deserve this outrage?"

Henry extended his hands. "Uncle, uncle. Give me a chance to explain."

"Don't uncle me! You have been forbidden to return these six years, and here you are, just as soon as the king conveniently leaves the country. Surely you must know I speak for him."

"I do, your grace. And I trust your good judgment."

"My good judgment!" York sputtered. "My good judgment! I judge that you are outlawed."

Despite York's words, Henry felt his uncle spoke out of obligation rather than conviction. He took a step forward. "It was Bolingbroke who was outlawed. I speak for Lancaster."

Temporarily at a loss, Edmund opened and closed his mouth. The trembling of his thin white beard betrayed his inner conflict. Henry took advantage of his discomfiture.

"Uncle, listen to me. My poor father, whom I was not allowed to see even at the last, would have trusted you to look after my entitlements—just as he would have looked after your son's claims had they been challenged. I ask no less of you. You know I have been wronged..." He paused, waiting for an answer. None was forthcoming.

Percy stepped up next to Henry. "This issue touches all of us," he said in his gruff voice. "We stand united behind Lancaster. If such a great inheritance can be thus taken away, then none of us are safe."

Unresolved, York lowered his head.

"And what have I done to deserve this treatment?" Henry pleaded. "What treason have I committed? I only ask to be given what I was promised: the ability to sue for my inheritance. I have come to claim my own." He dropped to one knee. "I am prepared to swear to this, before the altar."

Throwing up his hands, Edmund turned toward the sepulcher. "Then do so, nephew." He crossed his arms, waiting.

Exchanging glances with Percy, Henry moved forward, kneeling under the great crucifix. "I swear, as God is my witness, I have come to claim my inheritance. That is all." He crossed himself.

"Hmm." York was unconvinced. "Why do you need such a large army to merely claim your inheritance?"

Considering his oath discharged, Henry stood. "I am well aware that if I fell into the king's hands, my life would be forfeit."

"So you will confront the king as well?"

"If I must, uncle. I believe he seeks to enrich himself with Lancaster's patrimony. Many would call King Richard a tyrant. Many feel he needs the guidance of wiser heads."

"Like yours, I suppose?" York's voice sounded shrill.

"And yours, uncle. We have had ruling councils before."

Snorting in disgust, Edmund turned his back on Henry.

"Surely you have heard the cries of the people," Bolingbroke pleaded. "The king is not satisfied with one pardon. He requires many. He demands surety from every side. No one knows whether he is safe from arrest. No one knows whether their possessions will fall prey to the king's cupidity. As Lord High Steward of England, I have sworn to right these wrongs." He paused; whether he should be acting High Steward was anyone's guess. So far, no one debated his right to it—even York, it seemed.

Turning again, Edmund balanced on legs spread wide. "You have sworn to right these wrongs? By deposing the king?"

"That is not my intent." Henry gestured to the others. "Ask them. They would not follow a usurper."

Setting his mouth, York glared at Henry's companions. They stared back at him, not giving an inch. The silence stretched uncomfortably.

Finally, Edmund gave in, shaking his head. "All right. So be it. I no longer have the means to oppose you." Pausing, he raised a finger threateningly. "But do not assume I give you a free hand in this. You are bound by your word."

Allowing himself a smile, Henry put on his gloves. "I hope to convince you we mean to do the best for England's sake."

Grunting again, Edmund sat heavily on the nearest pew. It was the dismissal Henry was waiting for. He knew that in time, he would be able to cozen his uncle. For the moment, however, it would probably be better to let him get used to his failure as regent. It wasn't York's fault. He had done the best he could, considering that the king had left him with very few resources. Luckily for Henry. Luckily for Lancaster. So far, things had gone amazingly well. Henry almost couldn't believe it.

[Blog Tour] 'The Usurper King'  (The Plantagenet Legacy, Book 3)  By Mercedes Rochelle #HistoricalFiction
Mercedes Rochelle

Author Bio:

Mercedes Rochelle is an ardent lover of medieval history, and has channeled this interest into fiction writing. Her first four books cover eleventh-century Britain and events surrounding the Norman Conquest of England. The next series is called The Plantagenet Legacy about the struggles and abdication of Richard II, leading to the troubled reigns of the Lancastrian Kings. She also writes a blog: HistoricalBritainBlog.com to explore the history behind the story. Born in St. Louis, MO, she received by BA in Literature at the Univ. of Missouri St.Louis in 1979 then moved to New York in 1982 while in her mid-20s to “see the world”. The search hasn’t ended! Today she lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves

Connect with Mercedes Rochelle:

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25 May 2021

[Book Tour] 'Chateau Laux' By David Loux #HistoricalFiction

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[Book Tour] 'Chateau Laux' By David Loux #HistoricalFiction
Chateau Laux - Tour Banner

The Book:

Chateau Laux
By David Loux
  • Publication Date: April 6, 2021
  • Publisher: Wire Gate Press
  • Page Length: 292 Pages
  • Genre: Historical/Literary Fiction

The Blurb:

A young entrepreneur from a youthful Philadelphia, chances upon a French aristocrat and his family living on the edge of the frontier. Born to an unwed mother and raised by a disapproving and judgmental grandfather, he is drawn to the close-knit family. As part of his courtship of one of the patriarch’s daughters, he builds a château for her, setting in motion a sequence of events he could not have anticipated.
[Book Tour] 'Chateau Laux' By David Loux #HistoricalFiction
Chateau Laux - Front Cover

'Chateau Laux' - Excerpt:

Excerpt from Chateau Laux, starting on Chapter TWELVE, Page 95 . . .

Long before Martin Luther, Jean Calvin, and the Protestant Reformation, there were a number of groups, in addition to Catholics, who called themselves Christians, and while their beliefs differed in fundamental ways, one of the problems they all shared was explaining how a just, all-powerful God could countenance evil in the world. The Cathar solution was simple. According to them, there were two gods—a New Testament god of goodness and light, and an Evil One, who ruled the physical world, where unholiness prevailed. Pierre may have reached the point where he no longer wished to think of himself as a religious man, because he had witnessed firsthand the malevolence of the followers of a so-called loving god, be they Catholic, Protestant, or otherwise. But his mother had been a devoutly religious woman, whether he liked it or not. He could reject her Catharism. But he couldn’t reject her love, no matter how problematic it seemed, and the seed of her faith followed him to the New World, where all things were not as new as he might have hoped.

Little prepared him for that desperate ocean passage into what was then still largely an unknown. People left the European ports and but precious few came back, and at the age of thirteen, Pierre found himself on a ship crammed with hollow-eyed men, huddled women, and sickly children. In extremis, a person needs a sustaining thought, something to hold onto, and he thought of horses. The manoir had had a stable and he remembered the smell of them, their sighs and shuddering vocalizations, their settlings and shufflings. As a young child, he would press his cheek against the massive velvet noses and breathe the same air they breathed, imagining he was running with them through lush green fields. He dreamed he was one of them, heart to heart and soul to soul, and on the rolling and tossing ship to the New World, the word for them was the first that he learned in English.

His teacher was a Norman boy who worked as a deckhand and whom he would meet on the bow, where the fresh breezes blew. The Norman had a blistered, brick red face and blue eyes pale as water.

“You talk funny,” the Norman said.

“If that’s what you think, then you should hear yourself. I can hardly understand a word you say.”

The Norman gave a snort.

“You’re kind of quiet, aren’t you, and now maybe I know why. If people can’t figure out what you’re saying, then why say anything at all? Right?”

The Norman laughed at his own joke, but both boys knew it was not always easy for one person to understand another. In the land they were from, residents of one village struggled to talk to the residents of another, and a person from as far away as another valley was sometimes impossible to understand. The fact that the boys could speak to each other at all was due to Pierre’s education—which was not at all a common thing—and his familiarity with the language of the Far Court, as his father had called it.

“So, tell me,” the Norman said, shaking his head. “With all of the English words that I know and could tell you about, why do you want to know about horses? I’ve never had a horse—have you? Only rich people ride horses, and you don’t look any richer than I am. You’re not rich, are you?”

This was a challenge that could not go unanswered, as Pierre’s friendship with the Norman was based on what they had in common, not what set them apart. What they had in common was youth and proximity, the sense that they were impoverished vagabonds in a world that loomed large. What would set them apart was anything one had that the other lacked.

“I just like them,” Pierre said. He felt the weight of the pouch of gold coins under his shirt, against his skin, and knew that he had to guard its secret well.

“If you like them so much, why are you here? Why not just be a stable boy and spend your life cleaning up turds?”

“Let’s change the subject.”

“I’m just having some fun with you,” the Norman chided. His eyes softened and his chin relaxed, as he eased into his role as teacher. “Eh bien,” he said. “C’est ce que vous voulez. Pour le cheval, le mot en anglais, c’est horse. Ha-oh-are-ess. Ho-arse. Horse.”

“Seriously?” Pierre said, in his native Occitan.

Quoi?” the other boy said, in his Norman French.

“It’s such an abrupt, ugly word for such a noble animal,” Pierre said.

Mais oui, vous avez parfaitement raison,” the Norman said, grinning. “You can only know the true spirit of something in your own language, n’est-ce pas?

Yes,” Pierre said, nodding and thinking the statement profound. Indeed, he had already come to the realization that he might never hear his own language again, that the lyricism of his youth was gone forever.
[Book Tour] 'Chateau Laux' By David Loux #HistoricalFiction
David Loux

Author Bio:

David Loux is a short story writer who has published under pseudonym and served as past board member of California Poets in the Schools. Chateau Laux is his first novel. He lives in the Eastern Sierra with his wife, Lynn.
[Book Tour] 'Chateau Laux' By David Loux #HistoricalFiction
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17 May 2021

[Blog Tour] 'The Shadows of Versailles' (An Affair of the Poisons, Book One) By Cathie Dunn #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalMystery

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[Blog Tour] 'The Shadows of Versailles' (An Affair of the Poisons, Book One) By Cathie Dunn #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalMystery
The Shadows of Versailles - Tour Banner

The Book:

The Shadows of Versailles
(An Affair of the Poisons Book One)
By Cathie Dunn

  • Publication Date: November 20th, 2020
  • Publisher: Ocelot Press
  • Page Length: 251 (ebook) / 277 (pb)
  • Genre: historical fiction / mystery

The Blurb:

Dazzled by Versailles. Broken by tragedy. Consumed by revenge.

When Fleur de La Fontaine attends the court of King Louis XIV for the first time, she is soon besotted with handsome courtier, Philippe de Mortain. She dreams of married life away from her uncaring mother, but Philippe keeps a secret from her.

Nine months later, after the boy she has given birth to in a convent is whisked away, she flees to Paris where she mends gowns in the brothel of Madame Claudette, a woman who helps ‘fallen’ girls back on their feet.

Jacques de Montagnac investigates a spate of abducted children when his path crosses Fleur’s. He searches for her son, but the trail leads to a dead end – and a dreadful realisation.

Her boy’s suspected fate too much to bear, Fleur decides to avenge him. She visits the famous midwife, La Voisin, but it’s not the woman’s skills in childbirth that Fleur seeks.

La Voisin dabbles in poisons.

Will Fleur see her plan through? Or can she save herself from a tragic fate?

Delve into The Shadows of Versailles and enter the sinister world of potions, poisoners and black masses during the Affairs of the Poisons, a real event that stunned the court of the Sun King!
[Blog Tour] 'The Shadows of Versailles' (An Affair of the Poisons, Book One) By Cathie Dunn #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalMystery
Shadows of Versailles - Front Cover

 'The Shadows of Versailles' - Excerpt:

(From Chapter Two:)
Châtelet, Paris

Jacques de Montagnac approached the gate of the Grand Châtelet. The stench of blood and carcasses from the streets lingered in the air, even though it was late evening. The lack of street lighting, recently introduced in the finer quarters of Paris, made walking through the streets around the headquarters of the new police force treacherous. He didn’t want to leave a trace on his worn leather boots of where he had been.

His hood drawn deep over his face, he looked around but found no proof of anyone following him. He slipped through the gateway that let into an inner courtyard. Cries and moans from prisoners locked up in the many oubliettes reached him. The poor devils. Jacques had seen the maze of small cells, and they weren’t a pretty sight. Many a man never left them alive.

Taking a deep breath, which he regretted instantly, he turned to the far side, towards the door to the offices of the Lieutenant General of the police, Gabriel Nicolas de La Reynie. This wasn’t Jacques’ first visit. In fact, he’d long lost count of the number of times he reported back to his superior. Ever since he’d joined La Reynie’s extensive spy network five years earlier.

He’d been so naïve! Aged nineteen, and with a confidence far exceeding his diminished funds, he’d presented himself to the Lieutenant General. Jacques grinned as he climbed the stairs two at a time. On La Reynie’s request, he’d had to prove himself by blending into the underworld of Paris. But he’d had to work hard for it.

“Good evening,” a fellow officer greeted him in passing. “He’s awaiting your company.”

Jacques nodded. Eventually, outside de la Reynie’s office, he pulled back his hood and straightened.

At his knock on the door, he heard the gruff voice of his superior. “Come in!”

Around him, the corridor was deserted. Still, it was worth to check. His life depended on secrecy. He slipped inside the office and lowered his head. “Lieutenant General.”

“Jacques, please sit.” La Reynie never wasted time with polite conversation so beloved by the nobility.

Jacques sat as bid and waited until his superior had placed a note into a file, then moved it to a shelf behind him.

“I’ve not seen you in over a week. Has something happened?”

The man’s sharp eyes met his. Nothing seemed to escape him.

“Yes, sir.” Jacques leaned forward, placing his elbows on his legs. “There is trouble brewing.”

La Reynie laughed. “There always is. Tell me something new!”

Jacques remained serious. “Some of the charlatans are getting devious. There has been a rise in abductions of infants.”

The Lieutenant General leaned back in his seat and folded his hands in his lap. “I’ve learned about the disappearance of several babies. Continue.”

“They are alive when they’re taken, sir. Many women in the quartiers around the former Court of Miracles worry about this. I’ve spoken to six new mothers who were told their baby had been stillborn, yet they could hear a child’s whimper when the midwives took them away.”

“Is it one particular midwife, or do they work hand in hand?”

“Oh, most definitely more than one. I have no names as yet, but I’ll get them for you.”

“Thank you. Do you think it is intentional? They deceive the mothers, removing their children against their will?”

Jacques nodded. “Yes. The men in charge of the thieves and cutpurses brush off any questions about it. I believe they have a hand in it, or at least know who does.”

La Reynie stood and walked to the window overlooking the River Seine. “We have problems finding out the truth from that quartier. You’re one of the few men on the inside, and I'm aware of the danger you put yourself into every day is real.” He turned to face Jacques, his mouth in a thin line. “We lost Etienne two weeks ago. I have no idea what gave him away.”

Jacques nodded faintly. “Ah. I’d been wondering if something had happened to him.”

“His body floated in the Seine,” La Reynie said drily. “My men fished him out last Sunday morning. His throat was cut.”

Jacques hung his head. “I’m sorry, sir.” He hadn’t particularly liked Etienne, but the man had been a comforting presence in the den of cut-throats, thieves and scheming alchemists. It confirmed his suspicion that he must look over his shoulder all the time.

“Do you know what he was working on last?”

“Not in detail.” Jacques shook his head, meeting his superior’s gaze. “When I last spoke to him, he said he’d uncovered something linked to black masses. But he didn’t share his findings with me.”

“But you think the black masses are linked to the missing children?”

“It makes sense. But it has to be a fairly important person to demand such a risky sacrifice. I’d imagine a high price.”

“Like courtiers.”

Jacques nodded. “Yes.”

“But no names came up?”

“No. I’ve heard of several persons having visited herbalists, or whatever they like to call themselves, but they’re very secretive, often sending servants in their place. That reminds me, how goes the search for the Marquise de Brinvilliers? Rumour has it she is in the Spanish Netherlands.”

A sly smile played on La Reynie’s lips. “She might be. Or in England. We are on her trail, although she tries to trick us by moving around various nunneries.”

“The news should send some people in the quartiers scurrying into their dens,” Jacques mused.

“And that’s why you, Jacques, are best placed to discover who these rats are that are going into hiding.”

Jacques didn’t like the smug look on La Reynie’s face, his thin smile and challenging glance. Everything the Lieutenant General did served a purpose. He did not waste time. “What would you like me to do?”

“There is a specific priest Desgrez has been watching, but he might be aware of it. Abbé Guibourg. There is something about him, but we have no proof of wrongdoing so far. Here is the address.” La Reynie handed Jacques a note, and he slid it into his inner coat pocket. “Keep your ears open to any gossip!”

“I shall. And what about the stolen babies?”

“Yes, keep digging. I want to discover who organises those black masses – and who attends them. People would pay a lot of money for them.” De la Reynie returned to his seat and leaned forward, elbows on his large desk. “Who knows – these incidences are likely linked.”

“That’s what I think, sir. Is that all?”

“It is, for today. Report back to me by next Monday if you can.” The Lieutenant General gave him a sharp nod, then picked up a file on his right.

Jacques stood and took his leave. As he opened the door, La Reynie said, “And Jacques?”

He turned, pulling his hood up. “Sir?”

“Be careful!”


[Blog Tour] 'The Shadows of Versailles' (An Affair of the Poisons, Book One) By Cathie Dunn #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalMystery
Cathie Dunn

Author Bio:

Cathie Dunn writes historical fiction, mystery, and romance.

Cathie has been writing for over twenty years. She studied Creative Writing, with a focus on novel writing, which she now teaches in the south of France. She loves researching for her novels, delving into history books, and visiting castles and historic sites.

Her stories have garnered awards and praise from reviewers and readers for their authentic description of the past.

Cathie is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Alliance of Independent Authors.

After nearly two decades in Scotland, she now lives in the historic city of Carcassonne in the south of France with her husband, two cats and a rescue dog.

Connect with Cathie Dunn:

Website ✔ Twitter ✔ Facebook ✔ Instagram ✔ Pinterest 
BookBub 
✔ Amazon Author Page ✔ Goodreads 


[Blog Tour] 'The Shadows of Versailles' (An Affair of the Poisons, Book One) By Cathie Dunn #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalMystery
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14 May 2021

[Blog Tour] 'Under the Light of the Italian Moon' By Jennifer Anton #HistoricalFiction #ItalyWWII

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[Blog Tour]  'Under the Light of the Italian Moon'  By Jennifer Anton #HistoricalFiction #ItalyWWII
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The Book:

Under the Light of the Italian Moon

By Jennifer Anton

  • Publication Date: 8th March 2021
  • Publisher: Amsterdam Publishers
  • Page Length: 394 Pages
  • Genre: Historical Fiction/Biographical Fiction

The Blurb:

A promise keeps them apart until WW2 threatens to destroy their love forever

Fonzaso Italy, between two wars

Nina Argenta doesn’t want the traditional life of a rural Italian woman. The daughter of a strong-willed midwife, she is determined to define her own destiny. But when her brother emigrates to America, she promises her mother to never leave.

When childhood friend Pietro Pante briefly returns to their mountain town, passion between them ignites while Mussolini forces political tensions to rise. Just as their romance deepens, Pietro must leave again for work in the coal mines of America. Nina is torn between joining him and her commitment to Italy and her mother.

As Mussolini’s fascists throw the country into chaos and Hitler’s Nazis terrorise their town, each day becomes a struggle to survive greater atrocities. A future with Pietro seems impossible when they lose contact and Nina’s dreams of a life together are threatened by Nazi occupation and an enemy she must face alone…

A gripping historical fiction novel, based on a true story and heartbreaking real events.

Spanning over two decades, Under the Light of the Italian Moon is an epic, emotional and triumphant tale of one woman’s incredible resilience during the rise of fascism and Italy’s collapse into WWII.

[Blog Tour]  'Under the Light of the Italian Moon'  By Jennifer Anton #HistoricalFiction #ItalyWWII
'Under the Light of the Italian Moon' - Front Cover

'Under the Light of the Italian Moon'  - Excerpt:

November 1914 Nina Argenta stared at the altar, trying to concentrate on the Mass since there was no chance of escape. The warm fragrance of incense surrounded her, and the priest’s recitations combined with the candlelit sanctuary made it hard to keep herself awake. It was Sunday, and like every Sunday of her ten years on Earth, she sat dutifully, bored by the teachings of the ancient text that is the Roman Catholic Holy Bible.

Under the vaulted ceiling of the Chiesa della Natività di Maria, the Madonna statue at the side of the church watched her. Candlelight illuminated the blue veil and gentle expression of the Blessed Virgin casting a shine, like polish, on one side of her face and leaving the other in shadow. Nina shivered, tugging her sweater around her shoulders. The yarn, thick under her fingertips, made her feel secure. It had been a gift from her mother on Nina’s birthday two weeks before – the birthday they shared.

“We are born on the cusp of two moons, passionate and loyal. A gift for my gift,” her mother had said when she gave Nina the present, blue to match her light eyes. It covered the once-white dress she wore that had belonged to her older sister. She leaned against the solid wood of the pew and studied the colours in the paintings of Frigimelica and Forabosco hanging on the grand church walls. Garments of rich burgundies like dried blood, sparkling golds, skin on a flat canvas painted to project luminescence and curve. It was easy to distract yourself from Mass when surrounded by such intricacy.

The women of her family sat to her right: seven of them in the row behind the nuns, a place of honour. The Argenta women occupied the same pew every Sunday. Onorina, four years her senior, perfect and pious, kept her eyes closed and prayed with a sparkling rosary threaded through her clasped hands, oblivious to the three youngest sisters who fretted next to their mother. Her father and younger brother, Vante, sat in front with the other men. Men in front, women in back, separated by the nuns. Nina’s older brother, Antonio, had not joined them today. At breakfast, tension had hung between him and their mother, which she assumed was why he missed Mass. The priest would surely notice. Mamma would be disappointed. Nina knew how it felt to let her down.

The chapel veil sitting atop her head slipped as she looked up at the imposing crucifix that stabbed down above the altar. Adjusting the lace, she missed a prayer response, causing her mother to look over with a lifted eyebrow. Adelasia Dalla Santa Argenta was not a woman to make angry, especially not during Mass. Her wooden spoon would be waiting at home to beat your culo if you weren’t good. She had a reputation for sternness not only with her family but with the entire town.

As the only trained midwife in Fonzaso and the villages surrounding, she had delivered every child Nina knew and had earned the nickname, La Capitana, The Captain. It was said even the priest feared her.

Nina could see her father, Corrado Argenta, through the heads and habits as he shifted from side to side. His eyelids drooped in boredom, but he glanced back from time to time to check on his wife and mother, both of whom he feared as much as the children did. Nonna Argenta, small and severe in her black dress and head covering, was the only one besides Onorina entirely consumed by the Mass. Nonna looks just like a strega, thought Nina, missing only a broom to fly away on.

Nina let out a relieved sigh when it was time for Communion. At last! Mass would be over soon, and she couldn’t wait to be by the fireplace, reading her book after helping Mamma and Nonna prepare the polenta for supper. She walked up the marble aisle, inching forward behind the nuns, then knelt at the altar and held out her tongue, awaiting the body of Christ. Receiving the wafer, she gave the sign of the cross and stood to head back to her seat. The taste of creamy paper stuck to the roof of her mouth and she contemplated why God would want children to have sore knees and numb bottoms to get into Heaven.

Passing rows of men knelt to pray after Communion, she saw the large Pante family filling two benches in the front of the church. Pietro, one of her sister’s classmates, leaned unceremoniously in the pew, trying to help his tiny brother fix his shoelaces, tied together so he would trip. A messy redhead crouched in the seat behind them was the likely culprit of the prank. The Pante boy finished helping his brother, then sat back on the pew, catching Nina’s eye and giving her a quiet smile. She hesitated before returning it. The Madonna was still watching her. I should be praying after receiving the body of Christ. She returned to her seat, then knelt again, bruised knees on cold wood, to await the end of the Mass.

Fratelli e sorelle, ” Don Segala proclaimed after he had completed the liturgy. “I would like to ask for a special prayer today. Another group is leaving tomorrow for America. They will travel to Genoa and take a long ship ride. Signori, please join me here on the altar.” The pews squeaked, echoing in the church as a group of five men and three boys walked to the front. To Nina’s surprise, the Pante boy was one of them. Was it possible such a young boy was going on that voyage? There was an earnestness in the way he stood next to the other men who were a head taller than he was; his face was sombre. He stuck out a proud, lifted chin, smooth, unlike the others. A patched brown jacket, cut too wide, hung on his slender physique. I wonder how many brothers have worn that jacket before him.

The priest called out each of the men’s names. “Lord, please bless these men and give them a safe journey to America. Allow them to prosper there and, if it is your will, bring them safely home to their families here in Fonzaso.”

The parishioners united in an “Amen”. As Pietro returned to his seat, he peered back towards the Argenta pew, gave a wry smile, and nodded. Nina tried to see if he was looking at her or her sister, but Onorina was quick to bow her head again. The Madonna was watching her, too.

Nina knew many men were leaving Fonzaso to find work abroad. She had overheard her father mentioning it to her mother – the emigranti – but she never imagined such young people going. It unsettled her, and her heart raced as questions filled her head. Pietro Pante, who lived with his family a few streets down, who went to school with her sister, was leaving for America.

America!

The furthest she had travelled was to Padua with her mother, and Bergamo once. How exciting! What will happen to him? What would it be like to sail on a ship, miles away, to a new country? To start life over far away from Fonzaso? The Mass ended and the parishioners rose in song. Nina lent her voice with fervour and when she looked again at the Blessed Virgin, it seemed the Madonna was smiling at her.

[Blog Tour]  'Under the Light of the Italian Moon'  By Jennifer Anton #HistoricalFiction #ItalyWWII
Jennifer Anton

Author Bio:

Jennifer Anton is an American/Italian dual citizen born in Joliet, Illinois and now lives between London and Lake Como, Italy. A proud advocate for women's rights and equality, she hopes to rescue women's stories from history, starting with her Italian family.

Connect with Jennifer Anton:

Website ✔ Twitter ✔ Facebook ✔ Instagram ✔ Pinterest ✔ Book Bub 

Amazon Author Page ✔ Goodreads ✔ Youtube 

[Blog Tour]  'Under the Light of the Italian Moon'  By Jennifer Anton #HistoricalFiction #ItalyWWII
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12 May 2021

[Audio Blog Tour] 'The Assassins' By Alan Bardos (Audiobook Narrated By Jack Bennett) #HistoricalFiction #Thriller

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[Audio Blog Tour] 'The Assassins' By Alan Bardos (Audiobook Narrated By Jack Bennett) #HistoricalFiction #Thriller
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The Book:

'The Assassins' 
By Alan Bardos
Audiobook narrated by Jack Bennett
  • Series: Johnny Swift Thrillers
  • Publication Date: (current edition) 15th February 2021
  • Publisher: Sharpe Books
  • Page Length: 376 Pages
  • Genre: Historical Thriller

The Blurb:

1914.

Tensions are reaching boiling point in Europe and the threat of war is imminent.

Johnny Swift, a young and brash diplomatic clerk employed by the British embassy is sent to infiltrate the ‘Young Bosnians’, a group of idealistic conspirators planning to murder Franz Ferdinand. The heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, in a bid to liberate their country from the monarchy’s grip.

Swift has been having an affair with his employer’s wife, Lady Elizabeth Smyth. Sir George Smyth dispatches the agent on the dangerous mission, believing that it will be the last he will see of his young rival.

The agent manages to infiltrate the Young Bosnian conspirators’ cell, helped by Lazlo Breitner, a Hungarian Civil Servant.

However, Swift soon realises that he may be in over his head. His gambling debts and taste for beautiful women prove the least of his problems as he struggles to survive on his wits in the increasingly complex - and perilous - world of politics and espionage.

Desperate to advance himself and with the lives of a royal couple unexpectedly in his hands, Swift tries to avert catastrophe.
[Audio Blog Tour] 'The Assassins' By Alan Bardos (Audiobook Narrated By Jack Bennett) #HistoricalFiction #Thriller
'The Assassins' By Alan Bardos - Front Cover

Praise for 'Assassins':

A cracking read, highly recommended’ - Roger A Price
Written with polished panache, it kept me gripped from the first to last. Five stars from me!’ - A.A. Chaudhuri
Part historical fiction, part thriller and part love story, this is a compelling and entertaining read’ - Gary Haynes
Buy Links: Amazon UK ✔  Amazon US 
 ✔ 
  • This book is available to read for free with #KindleUnlimited subscription.

Audiobook Excerpt:


Audiobook Buy Links: 
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[Audio Blog Tour] 'The Assassins' By Alan Bardos (Audiobook Narrated By Jack Bennett) #HistoricalFiction #Thriller
Alan Bardos

Author Bio:

Alan Bardos is a graduate of the MA in TV Script Writing at De Montfort University, he also has a degree in Politics and History from Brunel University. Writing historical fiction combines the first great love of his life, making up stories, with the second, researching historical events and characters. Alan currently lives in Oxfordshire with his wife… the other great love of his life.

Despite the amount of material that has been written about the twentieth century there is still a great deal of mystery and debate surrounding many of its events, which Alan explores in his historical fiction series using a certain amount of artistic license to fill in the gaps, while remaining historically accurate. The series will chronicle the first half of the twentieth century from the perspective of Johnny Swift, a disgraced and degenerate diplomat and soldier; starting with the pivotal event of the twentieth century, the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, in ‘The Assassins’.

Connect with Alan Bardos:

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7 May 2021

[Blog Tour] 'The Queen's Rival' By Anne O'Brien #HistoricalFiction #Medieval

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[Blog Tour] 'The Queen's Rival' By Anne O'Brien #HistoricalFiction #Medieval
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The Book:

The Queen's Rival
By Anne O'Brien
  • Publication Date: 15th April 2021(paperback) September 2020 (Hardback and ebook)
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • Page Length: 531 pages
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

The Blurb:

England, 1459.

One family united by blood. Torn apart by war…

The Wars of the Roses storm through the country, and Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, plots to topple the weak-minded King Henry VI from the throne.

But when the Yorkists are defeated at the battle of Ludford Bridge, Cecily’s family flee and abandon her to face a marauding Lancastrian army on her own.

Stripped of her lands and imprisoned in Tonbridge Castle, the Duchess begins to spin a web of deceit. One that will eventually lead to treason, to the fall of King Henry VI, and to her eldest son being crowned King Edward IV.

Buy Links: 

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Barnes and Noble  Waterstones  Kobo ✔ Audio  Blackwells ✔ WHSmith  

'The Queen's Rival' - Front Cover

'The Queen's Rival' - Excerpt:

Duchess Cecily takes the King to task in Reading Abbey, September 1464

Edward, King of England, stood before me.

‘Where is she?’

‘Who?’

‘Do not be obtuse, Edward.’

I could not address him as Ned. There was no maternal affection within me.

His eyes widened with just the hint of the temper that he rarely showed to me.

‘You refer to my wife, Madam.’

A little silence fell, broken only by a squawk from the popinjay that had been consigned to the corner of the room. I ignored the wine poured and presented to me. Rejected the delicacy of fried fig pastries he had ordered to sweeten my mood. There would be no sweetening here.

‘What have you done, Edward? What in God’s name have you done?’

Replacing the cup on the salver, my son stood foursquare before me. He had known that he would have to face this conversation with me. They said that he was charismatic in his treatment of women. There was no doubting it. His smile could have melted winter ice.

‘I have entered into a marriage. Was that not what you had been commanding me to do since the day that I became King?’

The truth of this stirred my anger to a new level of heat.

‘I am finding it difficult to choose my words. You have married a commoner, a woman of no connection, a woman already wed, with a family of her own, and so defiled. A Queen of England should be a spotless virgin, not a widow. I can barely believe the truth of it, that you should have embarked on so misguided a policy.’

‘I regret that you are so dismissive of my choice of wife.’ How smooth he was. How adult. I remembered that he was now two and twenty years old. ‘Not one word to wish us happy. I might have hoped for more.’

At least his smile had waned.

‘Happy is not a concept for a King when entering into matrimony,’ I replied. ‘Did you not think? Did you not stop and consider before you committed the deed? As King of England you had your choice of European women of high birth. Bona of Savoy would have been the perfect match. Your children would be magnificently connected to the best blood of England and France. Here was a chance to tie France into an alliance which would defeat the Lancastrians for ever. Since, without a reply, Edward picked up his own cup and drank, I continued.

‘Instead you have chosen a woman who will give you no advantage, and in so doing you have antagonised Warwick, humiliated King Louis, horrified your Council. And if that were not enough you have angered the bedrock of your Yorkist followers whose blood has been spilt in our cause on the battlefield. They think that you have betrayed them by this marriage. Surely I and your father raised you to see the value of making and keeping friends in political circles. You have destroyed so much goodwill. It will serve you badly if King Louis, feeling thwarted by your inexplicable volte-face, promptly gives his support to Queen Marguerite and furnishes her with French troops to win the throne back for her son. We could have a French army landing on our shores within months, and it will be entirely your own fault.’

Which at last prompted my son into some level of response.

‘You take no account of the reason why I asked that she would wed me. It is very clear to anyone who knows me well, and who knows the lady. I fell in love. I wed her because I did not wish to live without her.’

His features were alight with it. I would not be persuaded.

‘Love! It is an embarrassment.’

And there again was the flash of temper in his eyes as they held mine without any sense of regret.

‘I love her! Did I not appreciate the problems surrounding this marriage? I am neither ignorant or naive, but the moment I set eyes on Mistress Grey, my heart was hers, as hers was mine. I wed her because I wished to spend my life with her. I know that she will be an unimpeachable Queen.’

His confidence was disquieting. 'You say that you are not naive. This marriage was the opportunity to make that one single irrevocable alliance with a European power through the hand of a foreign Princess. Instead you have thrown it away on a family of little renown. Rivers, a man of meagre nobility. Jacquetta, it is true, the daughter of some distant branch of the family of Luxembourg, but it does not make amends for Woodville’s less than glorious birth.’

‘I care not.’

‘You should care. A King, particularly a new King with a kingdom to take in hand, should wed a virgin, a woman of pure reputation. It is not acceptable for you to wed a widow.’

My son’s face was wiped clean of any expression, but he was not lost for words.

‘It’s always an education to hear your views of my character, Madam.’ Edward, opening the door for me to depart, bowed with a perfect degree of respect, denied by his closing words.

‘I hope you will change your mind. In the interest of harmony in my household. If you will not, then I fear that you will be the loser.’

Before the door closed behind me, all I heard was the popinjay’s shriek, startled by some reaction from within the room. Edward laughed. The popinjay had more effect on him than I.

All was clear, like iron nails hammered into a coffin. Elizabeth Woodville would be Queen of England. I had been supplanted by a woman for whom I had no respect.

At some point I would have to meet her.

What a game that would be to play out. Queen versus King’s Mother.
Anne O'Brien

Author Bio:

Sunday Times Bestselling author Anne O’Brien was born in West Yorkshire. After gaining a BA Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Master’s in Education at Hull, she lived in East Yorkshire for many years as a teacher of history.

Today she has sold over 700,000 copies of her books medieval history novels in the UK and internationally. She lives with her husband in an eighteenth-century timber-framed cottage in the depths of the Welsh Marches in Herefordshire. The area provides endless inspiration for her novels which breathe life into the forgotten women of medieval history.

Connect with Anne O’Brien:

Website ✔ Twitter  Facebook  LinkedIn  Pinterest  

[Blog Tour] 'The Queen's Rival' By Anne O'Brien #HistoricalFiction #Medieval
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