Tag Archives: historical romance

Review: On the Edge of Sunrise by Cynthia Ripley Miller – Romance and Political Intrigue in 450 AD

02_On the Edge of Sunrise.jpg

On the Edge of Sunrise (The Long-Hair Saga #1)

by Cynthia Ripley Miller

Publication Date: March 23, 2015
Knox Robinson Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 309 Pages

Genre: Historical Romance

When love commands, destiny must obey.

The year is AD 450. The Roman Empire wanes as the Medieval Age awakens. Attila the Hun and his horde conquer their way across Europe into Gaul. Caught between Rome’s tottering empire and Attila’s threat are the Frankish tribes and their ‘Long-Hair’ chiefs, northern pagans in a Roman Christian world, and a people history will call the Merovingians.

A young widow, Arria longs for a purpose and a challenge. She is as well versed in politics and diplomacy as any man … but with special skills of her own. The Emperor Valentinian, determined to gain allies to help stop the Huns, sends a remarkable envoy, a woman, to the Assembly of Warriors in Gaul. Arria will persuade the Franks to stand with Rome against Attila.

When barbarian raiders abduct Arria, the Frank blue-eyed warrior, Garic, rescues her. Alarmed by the instant and passionate attraction she feels, Arria is torn between duty and desire. Her arranged betrothal to the ambitious tribune, Drusus, her secret enlistment by Valentinian as a courier to Attila the Hun, and a mysterious riddle—threaten their love and propel them into adventure, intrigue, and Attila’s camp. Rebels in a falling empire, Arria and Garic must find the strength to defy tradition and possess the love prophesied as their destiny.

Review

For always saying I don’t read romance, I certainly am reading a lot of historical romance lately. However, when I am asked to review these historical fiction books I pick them because of all the great history and plot involved. I think the romance is something swirled into it, but not at all like a harlequin-type read. On the Edge of Sunrise, Book One of the Long-Hair Saga, by Cynthia Ripley Miller, is one of those types of books that is filled full of historical detail and story based on a great deal of research of 450 AD and the conflict between Attila the Hun, Gaul, and the Frankish Long-Hair chiefs.

This side of the world during this time period is something I’ve rarely read about or seen much written on and it was refreshingly new and different. I do generally really enjoy ancient history and so much of this was enticing. I can tell that Cynthia did an extensive amount of research of cultures/tribes, battles, weaponry, and landscape of the time to give readers a beautifully detailed account of the heated interactions and political machinations.

The romance between Arria, a Roman, and Garic, a Frank warrior, lends to soften to the over political story and bring some suspenseful tension. We are propelled by their dangerous love story through the pages quickly and treated to a foundation of history of the time period. She wrote two heroic and courageous people as her leads, even though they come from different experiences. The book doesn’t focus on their romance too much though, but more on those that surround them and interact with them (and conspire against them) which creates a dramatic story line filled with a well-developed cast.

Cynthia adeptly creates the time period for us in all its tenuous detail, with many vivid images. I enjoyed learning about the rise of Christianity in that area and the juxtaposition of all the cultures. She wrote battle scenes well without over doing the violence, but with fervent action that kept the book exciting. Her descriptions are bold and helped to carry the book along for me as a reader.

As an editor, some constructive things I might note for future development is to work on the dialogue to seem more natural, and not forced or stilted. Maybe she did that to represent it being so long ago  and not their actual language, but I think it could be softened. Also, I was also a little held up by sentence structure and felt that the book could improve by letting the sentences flow more freely. The cover is pretty, but makes it look like it’s all romance when it has so much else to offer!

Overall, it took me some focused concentration to read as it taught so much history between its pages, and her prose wasn’t light and airy, but more grounded, but that’s not a bad thing. It wasn’t a quick light romance at all, but I don’t like to read those anyway. I just tell you that in case that’s what you’re looking for in your historical fiction. It’s a deep look at a ancient time and place not often showcased, where so many rivaled for power, as well as the story of a very motivated and intelligent woman who used her abilities to change her own destiny.

I recommend for a long weekend by the fireplace somewhere it’s cold and your can cuddle up inside and get lost in time. Myself, I look forward to the next book in the series.

Purchase

AMAZON (KINDLE) | AMAZON (PAPERBACK) | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY

Praise

“From cover to cover a gripping read – in all senses of the word! Grips your interest and imagination, your held breath and your pounding heart! A thumping good novel!” –Helen Hollick, USA Today bestselling author & Managing Editor Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews

“AD 450. The Roman Empire is breaking apart, and Attila the Hun has his sights set on conquering Gaul. … The love story between Garic and Arria is set against a background of fierce battles, intrigue, jealousy and betrayal. … The story weaves, twists and turns at a tremendous pace, and the characters leap off the pages, which simply keep on turning. This is the author’s debut novel, the first in her ‘Long Hair’ series. I look forward to reading more in due course. Recommended. – Marilyn Sherlock, Historical Novel Society, HNR Issue 74 (November 2015)

“On the Edge of Sunrise is a compelling epic, sure to appeal to fans of historical fiction. Forbidden love, a turbulent time period, and world-changing events combine to produce a real page-turner.” – India Edghill, author of Queenmaker, Wisdom’s Daughter, and Delilah

“On the Edge of Sunrise is a passionate and intriguing take on the often overlooked clash of three brutal and powerful empires: the Romans, Franks, and Huns. A Compelling read!” – Stephanie Thornton, author of The Secret History and The Tiger Queens

03_Cynthia Ripley Miller.jpgAuthor Cynthia Ripley Miller, Biography

Cynthia Ripley Miller is the author of On the Edge of Sunrise, the first novel in the Long-Hair Saga, a series set in late ancient Rome and France, and a Chanticleer International Chatelaine Award finalist. She has lived and traveled in Europe, Africa, North America and the Caribbean, taught history and currently teaches English. Her short stories have appeared in the anthology Summer Tapestry, The Scriptor, and at Orchard Press Mysteries.com.

Cynthia blogs at Historical Happenings and Oddities: A Distant Focus and on her website, http://www.cynthiaripleymiller.com. She lives with her husband and their cat, Romulus, and German Shepherd, Jessie, in a suburb of Chicago. Book Two: The Quest for the Crown of Thorns will be published in October of 2016.

For more information visit http://www.cynthiaripleymiller.com. You can also connect with Cynthia on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

03b_on-the-edge-of-sunrise_blog-tour-2-banner_final

Follow the Tour Schedule HERE

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @CRipleyMiller

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Review: Stunning Novel Avelynn: The Edge of Faith by Marissa Campbell

Today, I have a review of book two, Avelynn: The Edge of Faith, in the Avelynn series from one of my favorite writers, Marissa Campbell! I read this some time back and fell in love with it, kinda like I did the first one, Avelynn. You can read that review HERE. It’s a series, but they can be read stand alone as well. Secondly, check out this beautiful cover by Jenny Q, and then the blurb of the book, so you know a little about what it’s about….

Avelynn-Edge-of-Faith-eBook-Cover-Large.jpg

Avelynn: The Edge of Faith

by Marissa Campbell

Publication Date: September 26, 2016
eBook; 302 Pages
ASIN: B01KUC6N9Y

Genre: Historical Romance/Medieval
Series: Avelynn (Book Two)

Avelynn: The Edge of Faith, a stand-alone Viking Romance from author Marissa Campbell.

It’s the year 871. Charges of treason, murder, and witchcraft follow Avelynn into exile as she flees England with Alrik. Arriving in Wales, they find refuge among Alrik’s friends in the Welsh nobility. Cast out by his half-brothers, Alrik seeks to regain his honor and earn favor with the gods. When war threatens, Alrik embraces gold and the opportunity for his crew to become mercenaries, aiding the Southern Welsh kings in their fight against Rhodri the Great.

Desperate to return home, Avelynn seeks to find a way to prove her innocence, but she is pitted against Alrik as their desires for the future clash. With battle looming, Avelynn’s faith in their relationship is further tested through a bitter struggle with Marared, a jealous lover from Alrik’s past. Marared’s threats turn deadly, and Avelynn runs afoul of magic and sorcery, causing her to question her beliefs and role as priestess.

When Avelynn and Alrik are betrayed, Avelynn is captured and Alrik is charged with regicide. The two become separated, a chasm of greed, deceit, and ambition driving them apart. In an act of harrowing faith, Avelynn will stop at nothing to find her way back to Alrik and break them both free from Wales’s bloodthirsty grasp.

AVELYNN: THE EDGE OF FAITH is a stand-alone novel and #2 in the Avelynn series.

Review –

Let me start off by saying that Marissa Campbell is a phenomenal writer. For me, being an editor and long time book reader and reviewer, it takes <this> level of writer to allow me to fully immerse myself in a book in a way that makes it entertainment for me. It’s hard for my mind to allow me to be swept me away to another time and place without habitually dissecting the work. And I’ve been craving that because I love reading!

I read her debut novel, Avelynn from St. Martin’s Press, last year and have been looking forward to more from Marissa since then. This is the type of writing that immediately captivates me and holds me hostage. My mind doesn’t wander innately to seeing content or dialogue flaws or ever get glitched by sentence structure or errors. Marissa doesn’t realize what an amazing writer she is and how much she stands out in an overwhelming sea of books. She’s a blockbuster in my opinion. Her second novel, Avelynn: The Edge of Faith, is a stand alone but also follows the story of the characters from the first novel. I believe that this second work is even better than the first and I didn’t think that was possible!

So what makes Marissa’s writing and Avelynn: The Edge of Faith so good? Besides being quite flawless editorial wise, her words flow poetic, like sugar on my tongue. The story dissolves smoothly and quickly and her vocabulary and phrasing makes even me in awe. I want all my writing to come out like hers. With a beauty not often found in novels these days, her writing is art and her characters and settings glow.

Speaking of characters, in this second book we really are able to see Avelynn blossoming in her own right, asserting her independence and knowing her need to be respected, yet also respectful of her betrothed – Alrik. She’s vibrant and strong, flowing with the power of the goddess and I could SWEAR I KNOW Avelynn personally. I connected to her and she flies off the page in fully dimensional development, but yet that’s an after reflection, not something I thought about during the reading of the novel. I was too wrapped up in her emotions, trials, fears, and triumphs. She has so much power inside her and that reverberates so clearly. Alrik’s character is also fully developed and the perfect complement to Avelynn – he’s also strong and knows how to gently reign in her in. He’s the protective type and a rock to her, giving her more strength and the ability to grow within herself. Marissa knew just the right type of man to place with Avelynn. Their ease together – their dialogue and actions – through arguments, tension, and gentle moments is both comical and endearing.

This relationship is the basis of why this is categorized as a romance, though to me, someone who rarely reads romances because I find them so fake, forced or contrived, I feel the romance encased itself as the glue to the suspenseful drama of the plot of this book. And…that was a GOOD thing. I see why this was lightly compared to Outlander by Diana Gibaldon, even thought it’s not time travel in nature. For me, I totally love the show Vikings, and this book is helping to cure my pining for the next season to return, so this is absolutely like mixing the show Vikings with Games of Thrones. It was about relationships, including romance, mixed with the strife and fighting of the times! I LOVED the romance in this book, and yes there is some steamy scenes, because Marissa knows how to write romance to make it feel real and natural (and HOT!). She makes me blush. It’s the type of passion that so many authors have trouble with…but not Marissa. I swear she is a sex whisperer. If you want a totally clean read, here’s your warning that this is not it, but maybe if you are feeling daring this is the book for you to try!

As for the plot in the book, Avelynn and Alrik have had to flee England as Avelynn is accused of witchcraft and murder, among other things. She is a preistess of the goddess and adheres to her pagan beliefs seriously. She feels the power and the hand of the gods with her and wants to stay grounded and follow their guidance. However, she is not a witch and doesn’t relate to magic. When she meets a past lover of Alrik in Wales, who threatens her with evil witchcraft she doesn’t know how to react at first. She seeks the counsel of her ancestors but is left with more questions rather than insight and has to figure out her proper path on her own with one constant – she wants to be by Alrik’s side. Things don’t always go as planned though, even if you have the gods on your side.

This is what I enjoyed the most the book – all the fantasy elements. To me, this book primarily read as a fantasy-based historical and I suppose that is where some of my Games of Thrones attribution comes into play. When Marissa digs into her writing with fervor, she is unmatched in description and detail. She creates sense of place and atmosphere at different stages that made me not just feel like I was painted a picture, but that I was inside a virtual reality sequence – walking around in the place myself behind the character, or maybe even that I AM the characters – kind of like I was in the movie Avatar! Marissa’s ability to write visually is exceptional. I totally wish that this would become an historical fantasy show on streaming television, because I totally want to watch it!

When you read Avelynn: The Edge of Faith, you’ll read way more than a romance or fantasy though, you’ll see the struggles of intertwining faiths and practices at a volatile time for England during the Viking take-over. You’ll read a woman fighting for her beliefs while also trying to come to terms with some of her own practices and those of others. You’ll read a well-researched historical base, so superb in fact, you’ll forget that the author had to create this world from historical basis mixed with a large imagination. As a reader, you’ll feel what the people of that time may have felt – a deep desire to hold on to ancestry and yet grow with the times testing her own inner faith and desires.

I don’t like to give too much plot away in my reviews, but to tell you my experiences. This was a very smooth and quick read that dipped me on a vacation back to medieval Wales, with lush and decadent description, sizzling romance, strong fantastical elements and plot, and I wouldn’t care if I couldn’t use my hair dryer or inside plumbing, I WANT to be in this story as Avelynn myself. Thank you Marissa for captivating me and making me feel passionate about words – oh, and feeding my Viking obsession.

So, book three ready yet, eh??

Get your copy now – I promise you – you’ll love it!!

AMAZON (KINDLE) | BARNES & NOBLE (NOOK) | KOBO

03_marissa-campbell_author-1

Author Marissa Campbell, Biography

Marissa Campbell is a published freelance author, and co-author of the award-winning, spiritual self-help book Life: Living in Fulfillment Every Day. Her debut historical fiction AVELYNN, was published through St. Martin’s Press, September 2015.

She is a proud member of the Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America, Writer’s Community of Durham Region, and local critique group B7. When she is not writing, she is busy looking after her wonderful children, spending time with her fantastic husband, hanging out with her awesome friends, teaching yoga, dancing, laughing, and having fun!

For more information visit http://marissacampbell.com. You can also follow Marissa Campbell on FacebookTwitterGoodreadsGoogle+TumblrPinterest, and Instagram.

04_the-edge-of-faith_blog-tour-banner_final

 

2 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Uncategorized

To Catch a Falling Star Wraps Up Anna Belfrage’s The Graham Saga Time Slip Historical Series in Grand Style

02_To Catch a Falling Star_CoverReview~

I thought about just not writing this review and begging forgiveness. The reason for that being that it’s for the eighth book in Anna Belfrage’s The Graham Saga series, which is also the last. Yes, To Catch a Falling Star is the last. Crying ensues from everyone, everywhere (cue Kleenex!). This really is a best-loved series by so many, and I am included in both the crying and the loving. However, since Anna told me recently (and you’ll see in our interview tomorrow) that she may re-visit some of the characters, I’ll choose to keep hope alive. Also, I’ll leave links below to all my previous 10+ posts with Anna during this series. There is also an excerpt below so you can get a glimpse into this final book.

What might I think of this final book To Catch a Falling Star, this epic tale of Matthew Graham and Alexandra Lind and family, you ask? As always, Anna has great characterization. The proof of this is our connection to her characters over the series. I know I’m not the only one who fell in love with the Graham family. In this final book, we still see the enduring love and support of Matthew and Alex, both for each other, as well as their grown children.

We also see a great amount of adventure, action, and trauma. I mean, Anna can’t write a book that doesn’t make us all cry and tug at our heart strings. Poor Alex is always heavy in heart over one of her children. The situations as each go their separate ways is sometimes sad, as well of course, the fact that Anna doesn’t shy away from the hard emotional scenes that include death and grieving. She writes with real authenticity and pours everything out onto the page.

In the plot of this particular novel, Matthew receives a note from Luke, his brother that he hasn’t spoken to in many years, informing him that he now owns the family manor in Scotland. Of course, I know why Alex would be wary, she isn’t keen on seeing Luke and she isn’t thrilled about going to Scotland. It’s 1688 and there is religious and political upheaval. Matthew seems surprised at how much Scotland has changed, once he arrives with Alex and a few of their children. As always, it can’t be easy and some tragedy ensues, leaving Alex wondering when they’ll be able, and if they’ll be able, to return to their home in Maryland.

I know Alex wasn’t happy to be going to Scotland, but I did think it was great for Anna, as the author, to let her character of Matthew return to his roots, as well as enjoyable that we, as readers, are returned to the start of it all in Scotland. It does seem fitting also, the return, as she writes in a way to wrap things up and come full circle, just as their lives have come around to older age. They need to be able to make amends and face things from their past. Matthew and Luke also having an understanding, so her story is a little about brothers too. Matthew making resolution with his brother, as well as the relationships between the sons of Alex and Matthew as grown brothers. We see love, remorse, sadness, healing, forgiveness, redemption, loss, and joy.

I think that the main plot, which is really the love story of Matthew and Alex, all comes around and ties up nicely. Their love endures throughout the saga and we are left feeling that Alex’s time slip was the best thing that ever happened to her. We are left feeling good by the end, though I don’t want to give it all away, so I’ll just say that I felt it was a very fitting ending.

One of the side stories I found interesting was with Alex’s son Issac, who is a gifted painter. When he falls through a painting he time slips 300 years into the future! This is something I’ve always wanted to do, might I add! However, he does have a bit of a struggle as he tries to paint his way back. I thought it was so fitting to find that Alex’s son, like herself and his grandmother Mercedes, is also a time traveler! He also has a bit of her personality! I always felt like one of the children should have the gift as well.

Of course, there are several other stories and issues occurring throughout the book in regards to historical situations that Alex and Matthew’s children and family find themselves in that make for excellent reading. The action propelled me through the pages, the dialogue kept my eyes moving. I should choose favorites, but my favorite side story of one of their children is Samuel. I enjoy his story. I’d be sad to not hear of him again.

Thinking back throughout the series, I do feel that the books have gotten so much better with ever increasing quality of writing and story telling, even with adding more and more historical information with each new time and place. I especially enjoyed the last few books. Anna’s writing is quick-witted, focused, interesting, and engaging. I like how Anna writes of Matthew and Alex in terms of religious and political situations as well; both characters always seem to be the peace makers or at least are very good at making each side see the other side’s story. They are able to get out of some very sticky situations. I think they teach readers strength, courage, and compassion. This final book is a true testament to a wonderful couple, one that balances out each other with fine precision, though not always with ease.

Anna has created a beautifully written series that should adorn anyone’s bookshelf. I know they’ll urge to be read many times again (I don’t think these characters will rest!). The notion of time slipping is captivating, but what is truly spellbinding is Anna’s writing–her characters, her life humor, her long-abiding love story. It’s an unforgettable saga that is to be passed among generations, as time has no boundaries in regards to it.

My previous reviews/spots with Anna:

Book One: A Rip in the Veil (missed this one!)
Book Two: Like Chaff in the Wind

Book Three: The Prodigal Son
Book Four: A Newfound Land

Book Five: Serpents in the Garden
Book Six: Revenge & Retribution
Book Seven: Whither Thou Goest
Book Eight: To Catch a Falling Star (today)

Guest article on Creating her Series
Guest article on Creating Dialogue with Characters
Guest article on History of Sugar Production
Interview with Anna 1
Interview with Anna 2 (tomorrow!)

Excerpt from To Catch a Falling Star!

Matthew and Alex talk about Luke, Matthew’s perfidious brother~

“He looked old,” Matthew said some hours later, unable to keep a satisfied tone out of his voice.

“Who?” Alex said, sinking deeper into the hip bath. The room they’d taken was full of sleeping lads on pallets, but she had insisted on taking a bath, curtly informing Matthew that as far as she knew, all her sons had seen her naked before and weren’t about to die of shock.

“Luke.”

“Yes, he did, didn’t he?” she said, lathering her hair. “He does, however, look very wealthy.”

“Let me,” Matthew said, sinking his fingers into her scalp. “He is wealthy, and for all that he spent a year in house arrest, it hasn’t damaged his standing in court over much.”

“How do you know?” Alex asked.

“I’m not entirely without contacts, even if quite a few of my erstwhile companions are dead by now.” Matthew rinsed her hair, handed her a couple of towels, and sat on the bed to watch her step out of the tub, pink and glowing. “The King was right in placing him under house arrest.” This was information he had pieced together from several letters arriving not only from London but also from Edinburgh and even from Amsterdam. It would seem Luke had very much on purpose sent Charlie to Amsterdam, hoping the lad would become a well-known face at the court of William of Orange. Unfortunately, he had been dazzled by the Duke of Monmouth instead, thereby becoming an enthusiastic participant in the rebellion three years hence that nearly cost Charlie his life.

“You think?” Alex tugged a clean shift over her head and came to join him on the bed.

“Aye, he’s politically astute, my wee brother, and just like you, he doesn’t see the English taking to a line of Catholic kings.”

“Well, to be entirely honest, I know, don’t I? I know James will be out on his ear shortly.” She hunted about for her comb. “It’s just that I can’t recall exactly when. I should have paid more attention in history class.

“When do we leave for Hillview?” she asked some while later, wrenching Matthew out of private musings as to how close to the fire his brother might be flying.

“In some days. I have deeds to notarise, and then we must find ourselves horses and such.”

“Some days?” Alex gave him a penetrating look.

He averted his face from her, muttered something about having the maid empty the hip bath and cart it away, and escaped the room to yell down the stairs. Alex retreated behind the bed hangings when the door swung open to let in the harried maid and the yard lad.

“You’re scared,” she said once they were alone again.

“Nay, not afraid precisely, more…I’ve never been away this long from it before, and it may have changed.” He twitched the bed hangings closed, enveloping them in a musky, deep red glow, the candle on the headboard flaring in the resulting waft of air before settling down to burn steadily again.

“I seem to remember having had this conversation with you before,” she said, curling up against his chest.

“But that time it was only three years. This time, it’s twenty.” He closed his eyes, imagining all kinds of destruction. Mayhap someone had moved the barn, or torn down the stables, and where the dovecote had stood since time immemorial he might come home to find a pigsty.

“A pigsty?” Alex laughed and shook her head.

“Or a privy.”

“The ground’s too rocky for a privy there, and pigs like mud, not stones. Besides, you can always change it back.” She nestled into him. “You don’t think they’ll have touched the graveyard, do you?” Despite her casual tone, he knew this was her secret fear, that they’d return to find the headstones gone, the rowan tree cut down, and they’d have no idea where their wee daughter lay at rest.

“Of course not, that would be desecration. And Magnus said, didn’t he, how the rowan was still there when he visited Hillview last.” It made him smile – albeit crookedly. His father-in-law had been to Hillview before his longing for Alex drove him to attempt some time travelling of his own – successfully, as it happened, even if the mere thought of those accursed painted time portals had Matthew breaking out in a cold sweat. Magic: black magic, even.

As always when they touched upon the sheer improbability of his dear wife’s life – born in 1976, fallen back to land in the seventeenth century with him – he felt her tense, her hands gripping his shirt.

He tightened his hold on her shoulders. “I won’t let time take you back, lass. You’re staying with me ’til the end of our days and well beyond.” He threw her a teasing look down the length of his nose. “Although I fear that means I must join you in hell.”

“Not if God is fair and unprejudiced. I do as well as I can.”

“But we all know that God is selective as to who gets in to heaven. Most of us are not accorded grace.”

“Not my God. He has plenty of room up there in His rolling meadows for all the truly good and kind souls.” She propped herself up on an elbow to smile down at him. “And I bet you He has tea and cake as well.”

“Tea and cake?” Matthew laughed out loud. “What will a soul want with tea and cake?”

“Let me tell you I have no intention spending an eternity just wafting about and looking adequately spiritual.” Alex grinned. “I’m planning on eating and drinking and having lots and lots of sex.”

“Sex, hmm?” Matthew rolled her over, lowering his voice to a seductive rumble.

“As much as I can get,” she said, tugging his shirt out of the way. Her hand found his balls, she ran a nail up his member, and he dipped his head to nibble her ear, smiling at the responding gooseflesh that flew up her thighs. “Although I think we can manage that in hell as well,” she went on, “it will just be that much hotter.”

”You shouldn’t jest about it,” he said with attempted severity.

Her eyes stared up at him, mostly black in the night. “I don’t care where I go after death, as long as it’s with you.”

It still made his heart flutter when she said things like that, a heartfelt, silent thank you buzzing through his brain. For my life and my bairns, for my health, but most of all for my wife, my miraculous Alex, I thank you, Lord, every day, I thank you.

To Catch a Falling Star, Synopsis~

02_To Catch a Falling Star_CoverPublication Date: March 1, 2015
SilverWood Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Series: Book Eight, The Graham Saga
Genre: Historical Fiction/Time-Slip

GoodReads

To Catch a Falling Star is the eighth book in Anna Belfrage’s series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.

Some gifts are double-edged swords …

For Matthew Graham, being given the gift of his former Scottish manor is a dream come true. For his wife, Alex, this gift will force her to undertake a perilous sea journey, leaving most of their extensive family in the Colony of Maryland. Alex is torn apart by this, but staying behind while her husband travels to Scotland is no option.
Scotland in 1688 is a divided country, torn between the papist Stuart king and the foreign but Protestant William of Orange. In the Lowlands, popular opinion is with Dutch William, and Matthew’s reluctance to openly support him does not endear him to his former friends and neighbours.

While Matthew struggles to come to terms with the fact that Scotland of 1688 bears little resemblance to his lovingly conserved memories, Alex is forced to confront unresolved issues from her past, including her overly curious brother-in-law, Luke Graham. And then there’s the further complication of the dashing, flamboyant Viscount Dundee, a man who knocks Alex completely off her feet.

All the turmoil that accompanies their return to Scotland pales into insignificance when a letter arrives, detailing the calamities threatening their youngest daughter in Maryland – at the hand of that most obnoxious minister, Richard Campbell. Matthew and Alex have no choice but to hasten back, no matter the heartache this causes.

Will they make it back in time? And what will Richard Campbell do?

Buy To Catch a Falling Star~

Amazon 
Barnes & Noble

Graham Saga Titles

Book One: A Rip in the Veil
Book Two: Like Chaff in the Wind
Book Three: The Prodigal Son
Book Four: A Newfound Land
Book Five: Serpents in the Garden
Book Six: Revenge & Retribution
Book Seven: Whither Thou Goest
Book Eight: To Catch a Falling Star

About the Author, Anna Belfrage~

03_Anna BelfrageI was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result I’m multilingual and most of my reading is historical – both non-fiction and fiction.

I was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive …

Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred.

I was always going to be a writer. Now I am – I have achieved my dream.

For more information, please visit Anna Belfrage’s website and blog. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Tour Schedule: see more reviews, excerpts, giveaways by clicking banner below.

Hashtags: #ToCatchaFallingStarBlogTour #HistoricalFiction #GrahamSaga

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @Anna_Belfrage

04_To Catch a Falling_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

A Grave Inheritance, Second in Historical Fantasy Series, Leads Celtic Goddess Descendant to Victorian London

02_A Grave Inheritance_Cover

Review~

When I read Kari Edgren’s A Goddess Born, the first book in this series, earlier this year I fell in love with it. You can see my review of that here. Not only do I like historicals, but I love paranormals/supernaturals (especially those with mythological components) and though I don’t normally like all kinds of romance, I do like them when they are not sappy or southern, so to speak.

So, when A Grave Inheritance, book two in the series also called Goddess Born series, became available to me for review, I was anxious to read it. It pretty much picks up where A Goddess Born leaves off, yet takes us to new places and on an action-adventure that kept me turning the pages. If you haven’t read the first book, she does do the usual back telling in a way that you’ll still enjoy the story, but both books are so good, you might want to go back and read the first one. They’re in digital format, so they are relatively cheap enough to buy the whole series.

In this second book, she takes her protagonist Selah (who is human, but with some powers of the supernatural, as she is descended from a Celtic goddess). Kari escorts her, and readers, back to Victorian England and ingratiates us to all the atmospheric details that emanate from that time period. She writes with a vivid and lively pen in a way that swept me right into the tale. Her descriptions are lovely and sweet-tasting, her sentences lovely. She’s one of those writers that treats writing like a work of art.

She’s labeled New Adult, but she crosses many boundaries. Without the paranormal element, she’d be historical romance. And really, to me, it’s more supernatural historical fiction! They are clean, which is the way I like my romances too (I’m not a prude either!). They essentially are good for young adult readers, too, and I’d love to share these with my daughter at some point. If you are buying for YA, they are good for 18-25, but younger also based on their interest and reading level. They are a sophisticated break from some of the dystopian, vampire, zombie, and etc. novels. I’d say they are wonderful for those young readers who like mythology, and in my case, adults too.

They do have enough meat to be read and enjoyed by adults, unless you like strictly old school Harlequin or erotica romance. But see, it’s the kind of meat that, personally, that I love in a book.  A great plot, magical story, courageous and kind main female, and a dreamy, but decent man who treats the woman as equal all score high marks with me for this book. The characters have challenges and conflicts to face, giving the reader twists and turns to enjoy, and this creates an exciting tale–one that had me sliding past each page of my Kindle with fervor.

I love Kari’s original tale and her ancient supernatural elements. I think that A Grave Inheritance was even better than the first, bringing more suspense and drama and great sense of time and place as they head to 18th Century London. I liked the villains she portrayed and the introduction of more with goddess-like powers.

I am super happy Kari chose to write this series; it has taken me to my fun place of reading magic and mythology and Old Word tales mixed with love and adventure. I absolutely can’t wait to read the next one. Highly recommended for any weekend night you have free! It will enchant you in a way that will lead you to read it very quickly.

A Grave Inheritance, Synopsis~

02_A Grave Inheritance_CoverPublication Date: December 1, 2014
Carina Press
eBook; ASIN: B00OHV6MFA

Series: Goddess Born
Genre: Historical/Paranormal/New Adult/Romance

Selah Kilbrid may descend from the goddess Brigid, but her heart beats—and breaks—the same as any human. Yet enduring the scorn of London’s most noble lords and ladies is a small price to pay for a chance at true happiness. Selah would endure much more for love, and her betrothed, Lord Henry Fitzalan, is prepared to challenge anyone foolish enough to stand in their way—even another goddess born.

But when a captivating young gentleman draws Selah into a world shadowed by secrets, she is forced to confront her darkest fears. What if some differences are too great to overcome and a future with Henry is doomed from the start?

With these doubts threatening her impending marriage and the very last of Brigid’s fire draining from her soul, a violent attack on an innocent child pushes Selah to the very edge of her power. She must find a way to cross into the Otherworld and regain her strength—or forfeit the streets of London to death and disease.

Buy the eBook~

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

Author Kari Edgren, Biography~

03_Kari EdgrenKari Edgren is the author of the Goddess Born series. In 2010 and 2011 she was a semifinalist for the Amazon Break Through Novel Award. In 2013, she was a RWA Golden Heart finalist.

Ms. Edgren enjoys writing both historical and contemporary fiction, so long as there’s a spark of paranormal. She resides on a mountain top in the Pacific Northwest where she spends a great deal of time dreaming about the sun and torturing her husband and children with strange food and random historical facts.

For more information please visit Kari Edgren’s website. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Sign Up for Kari Edgren’s Newsletter.

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/agraveinheritanceblogtour/

Hashtags: #AGraveInheritanceBlogTour #GoddessBornSeries #Historical #Paranormal #Romance #NewAdult

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @KariEdgren @CarinaPress

04_A Grave Inheritance_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

Absorbing and Visual: Seventh Book in Graham Saga Time Slip Series to the 17th Century

01_Whither Thou Goest

Review~

Let me start this review by saying that if you don’t follow this blog, this is the sixth review (not counting the guest articles and interviews) that I’ve written for Anna Belfrage about historical novels in her Graham Saga Series–the latest being the seventh book (I missed reviewing book one!) called Whither Thou Goest.

I have to say, I’ve grown quite fond of reviewing Anna’s books every six months or so. I feel very possessive of the characters in her books, with their quite strength, devotion, loyalty, love, and most of all humor. The humor and courage that Anna’s main time-slip character Alexandra Lind exudes over hundreds and hundreds of pages reminds me now of Anna (and she’ll either love or hate I said that–but she’s extremely strong and super funny herself). I can’t imagine not having Alex and Matthew in my life, so I pleasantly urge Anna to soon enough make them immortal. Hey, it happens, it could happen!!

Since I am not the type of reviewer that regurgitates plots, as I feel you should experience them for yourself and I never want to accidentally spoil anything, what can I say in a review for a seventh book in the series? Well, speaking of plot, and that it IS the seventh book, I can tell you that no matter what adventures that Alex has been on since time-slipping back in time from 2002 to the 17th Century, where she meets her soul mate Matthew Graham, Anna has twisted, turned, and intertwined plots in such a fashion, while keeping characters and historical facts in check, with not only grace, but with flawless precision. Also, with less long-winded sentences than the one I was just compelled to write.

No seriously, she writes with a flowing ability, filled with every ounce of love she’s squeezed from herself and put onto the page. I DO think that with each book, I enjoyed her writing more and felt it increasingly absorbing, captivating, and beautiful. The details she presents with each location in time, history, or as in this book their travels (yep, back aboard a ship) make me feel as if I’ve time slipped myself and traveled back in time. In this book, Anna’s personal experiences with Latin American culture shine through. I felt as if I landed on a beach and was observing that section of the book while sipping mango juice.

With Anna’s characters, as by now Alex and Matthew are older and much of the plot surrounds their children or extended family, she creates such distinct, vivid, and dimensional characters. There are those we love and those we hate. There are the normal issues for the time periods and locations, in this seventh book they are in the Colony of Maryland, and as a reader I feel the hardships as well as the love, the heartbreak as well as the joys. But also, there are the ghosts of their past to deal with, which keeps it extra interesting.

Anna does a tremendous job of balancing that all out within her novels, but especially this one in particular. And what I love most about Alex, besides her humor, is her unwavering desire to protect her children and make them happy. Second most, I love how she “keeps it real,” you know when she is hurt and why, and so does her family, but I adore their respect for her and how they appreciate her undying love and devotion. In other words, we feel her emotions are true and authentic and so her character is one that most readers can relate to easier.

As for Matthew, he does also shine in the novel, as this book’s plot takes him deep within himself to a place and time he probably wishes not to remember, as he helps his brother and nephew, at the peril and danger of himself and family. But that’s what he does, isn’t it? Always helping others? He does always somehow seem to find himself taking issues of the decade on with full speed. It’s his involvement that allows Anna to show us the social and religious undercurrents of the times they are in. I’m curious what decision he is about to make at the end of this seventh novel…ah, the suspense!

As for Matthew and Anna together, what a match made and watching their relationship and life unfold before my eyes is a pleasure. That’s why I like this title, Whither Thou Goest, as it truly is Alex’s motto to Matthew. “After all, where you go, I go, right?” said Alex.

On a personal note, I really enjoyed the story line in this book about Samuel, or White Bear, who is Alex’s son that was “adopted” by a Native American tribe. It was so touching and very well-done. I appreciated her portrayal of Native Americans. It reminded me of a story in my own heritage, when my ancestor was captured by the Native Americans during the American Revolution. He lived with them for a year before escaping back to where I live now and setting up a homestead. A story is told about meeting one of his fellow tribe members years later and it still being cordial. I often wonder what it was like for him to live with them and how he felt later in life about the experience. Somehow Anna channeled not only a mother’s emotion of this to Alex, but also she handled it well from all sides–Samuel, his adopted tribe, and Matthew–giving them all a voice in the matter that seemed realistic.

Anyway, I digress. Anna has many plot points to tie-up in this novel, new plots to move forward, old vendettas and issues to resolve, as well as new ones to decipher, and I am looking forward to seeing what her next, and most likely, final novel will hold in store. She seamlessly writes each and every one in a way that you are engaged and moved along in the story without any hindrance or comment. That’s why I think as I reader I most feel as if I am walking in a new place myself, removing myself from my world as I know it, and entering into a new adventure. I do hope she continues on with the series though, through the Graham children, if I must be selfish.

Anna writes Whither Thou Goest with flowing pen, flawless structure and sentences, intriguing and engaging plot, dimensional characters filled with emotion and authenticity, and gorgeous imagery. This is an excellent series worth the money so you should splurge on the entire set, as you’ll want to read this series from the start.

Whither Thou Goest, Synopsis~

01_Whither Thou GoestPublication Date: November 1, 2014
SilverWood Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Genre: Historical Fiction/Time-Slip
Series: The Graham Saga

Whither Thou Goest is the seventh book in Anna Belfrage’s series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.

In their rural home in the Colony of Maryland, Matthew and Alex Graham are still recovering from the awful events of the previous years when Luke Graham, Matthew’s estranged brother, asks them for a favour.

Alex has no problems whatsoever ignoring Luke’s sad plea for help. In her opinion Matthew’s brother is an evil excuse of a man who deserves whatever nasty stuff fate throws at him. Except, as Matthew points out, Luke is begging them to save his son – his misled Charlie, one of the Monmouth rebels – and can Charlie Graham be held responsible for his father’s ill deeds?

So off they go on yet another adventure, this time to the West Indies to find a young man neither of them knows but who faces imminent death on a sugar plantation, condemned to slavery for treason. The journey is hazardous and along the way Alex comes face to face with a most disturbing ghost from her previous life, a man she would much have preferred never to have met.

Time is running out for Charlie Graham, Matthew is haunted by reawakened memories of his days as an indentured servant, and then there’s the eerie Mr Brown, Charlie’s new owner, who will do anything to keep his secrets safe, anything at all.

Will Matthew deliver his nephew from imminent death? And will they ever make it back home?

Graham Saga Titles

Book One: A Rip in the Veil
Book Two: Like Chaff in the Wind
Book Three: The Prodigal Son
Book Four: A Newfound Land
Book Five: Serpents in the Garden
Book Six: Revenge & Retribution
Book Seven: Whither Thou Goest
Book Eight: To Catch a Falling Star (March 2015)

Author Anna Belfrage, Biography~

03_Anna BelfrageI was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result I’m multilingual and most of my reading is historical – both non-fiction and fiction.

I was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates, and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive…

Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half-grown, the house is at times eerily silent, and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred.

I was always going to be a writer. Now I am – I have achieved my dream.

For more information, please visit Anna Belfrage’s website and blog. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

 

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/whitherthougoestblogtour/

Hashtags: #WhitherThouGoestBlogTour #GrahamSaga #Historical #TimeSlip

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @anna_belfrage

02_Whither Thou Goest_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

2 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews

Past Encounters is a Beautifully Written Novel of Relationships and Secrets Post-WWII

02_Past Encounters

Oh, what a beautiful story that Davina Blake has written in her novel, Past Encounters! I like so many genres of historical fiction, but I am always drawn to the books that feature flashbacking to WWII, with characters either telling their wartime story, or characters that tell their story while the reader gets to view how their lives unfolded after the war (whether 10 years or 40). I’m always interested in exploring the secrets someone left behind or how the psychology behind how war affected their personalities. If someone pulls out a long lost letter or photo or letters from their love who was away at war or abroad…..I’m hooked. I don’t read a lot of romance, but if I do, this is the type for me. I have a penchant for letters, long lost loves, and secrets.

Past Encounters was written after Davina was inspired by the movie “Brief Encounters” (circa 1945), which critics say is considered one of the great romances made by British film industry. It takes place surrounding a railway station, which before, during, and after the war was certainly a place of hustle and bustle during the war time era. Davina also sets part of her book here, during the flashback of her main female protagonist, and brings the filming of “Brief Encounters” into her novel. I loved how she intertwined the two, as I love old cinema too.

The secrets explored and discovered in this book are heart-wrenching and emotional, as most things are when they come down to love in a time full of turmoil. Hasty romances, marriages, loved ones gone due to war for extended periods, chance meetings, and the constant unknown of the WWII era, always allows for stories ripe with sorrow, loss, betrayal, and secrets.

From the moment I read the first part of the book, which takes us from a confused housewife in 1955 in Rhoda, then back to before and during the war with her husband Peter, his friend Archie, and his wife Helen, I was emotionally invested in finding out what happened to each of these characters between 1939 and when Peter returned from the war up to their present time of 1955. The way that she lays out the chapters and constructs the story makes it all flow together seamlessly. She was able to keep the story moving and on track, even with the use of flashbacks, making it all clear but while also able to hide her twists, turns, and secrets until the right time to unveil them. Just from the first few pages I was immediately captivated by Rhoda’s marriage plight and questions, became intrigued, and burned through the pages.

I did notice the change from Rhoda’s first person, to Peter’s part being third person, and later Helen’s; however, to me it worked, but it was a way to tell Peter and Helen’s side (a side that Rhoda couldn’t tell in present) without making him/her the star protagonist. I believe that was always Rhoda, and that ultimately, it was Rhoda’s story. I liked how she constructed it this way. It was unique, and for me, it worked.

I always enjoy Davina’s other novels, as Deborah Swift, which are more historical, but I truly loved her writing style even more in this book. She has a way with writing hauntingly beautiful prose that at first you might deem simple, but in reality, her character development and imagery are fine tuned. In this book, in this era with all its dark emotional drama, she writes as if she is penning a 1950s film. I felt as if her characters were so real, especially Rhoda, and that I knew them personally. My heart was really touched by their story, almost as if they were long lost loved grandparents. She brings an authenticity to her characters, bringing true thoughts and feelings to the surface, and even if some might not always think the choices right, they are certainly real and create depth in her characters.

I especially like lines such as:

“I could not help staring. It was as if they were from a different England altogether, one where young men didn’t die, where clothes were always new and well pressed. It was like two parakeets arriving in a world of sparrows.”

I think Davina truly is a masterful storyteller. In Past Encounters, she’s created a character-driven story that will linger on past the time when you think you’ve finished with the novel. The characters won’t leave you behind, but will haunt you. They’ll leave you wondering about all the possible true stories of this era, a time where it seemed everyone held secrets, whether from the war or in the heart.

I highly recommend this book for readers who enjoy whirlwind or intriguing romances as featured in 1950s films, emotional and gripping dramas from WWII era, and heart-wrenching tales of women and men whose past won’t stay in the past and who are tortured by love or some other emotion or secret. Davina has penned a beautifully executed novel that is a perfect read for Holiday vacation time, when you can snuggle up with a blanket and a book, becoming lost between the pages without a care for the clock.

As for me, I love railway stations. I’d like to take a trip to England, sit in the railway station with a hat and cup of tea, and read this book a second time. By chance, maybe I’d find a secret letter or hear a story or two from a passer-by. If I wasn’t already in a relationship, perhaps I’d even sit waiting for my own chance encounter.

Brief Encounters, Synopsis~

02_Past EncountersPublication Date: November 22, 2014
CreateSpace
Paperback; 442p

Genre: Historical Fiction/Literary Fiction

GoodReads Link

England 1955

The day Rhoda Middleton opens a letter from another woman, she becomes convinced her husband, Peter, is having an affair. But when Rhoda tracks the mysterious woman down, she discovers she is not Peter’s lover after all, but the wife of his best friend, Archie Foster. There is only one problem – Rhoda has never even heard of Archie Foster.

Devastated by this betrayal of trust, Rhoda tries to find out why Peter has kept this friendship a secret for so long. Her search leads her back to 1945, but as she gradually uncovers Peter’s wartime experiences she must wrestle with painful memories of her own. For Rhoda too cannot escape the ghosts of the past.

Taking us on a journey from the atmospheric filming of Brief Encounter, to the extraordinary Great March of prisoners of war through snow-bound Germany, PAST ENCOUNTERS explores themes of friendship, hope, and how in the end, it is the small things that enable love to survive.

Includes bonus material for reading groups.

Praise for Past Encounters~

“Her characters are so real that they linger in the mind long after the book is back on the shelf. Highly Recommended!” – The Historical Novels Review

Praise for Deborah Swift~!

“stellar historical fiction” -Orange Prize Nominee Ann Weisgarber

“compelling’” -Westmorland Gazette

“The past comes alive through impeccable research…and the sheer power of descriptive prose” -Lancashire Evening Post

Buy the Book~

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Author Davina Blake, Biography~

02_Deborah SiwftDavina Blake used to be a set and costume designer for theatre and TV, during which time she developed a love of research which fueled her passion for the past. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and also writes successful seventeenth century historicals under the pen name Deborah Swift. ‘Her characters are so real that they linger in the mind long after the book is back on the shelf. Highly recommended.’ The Historical Novels Review

From Davina: ‘I was inspired to write Past Encounters because I live close to the railway station where the iconic “Brief Encounter” was filmed in 1945. I have often used the refreshment room that featured in the film when waiting for a train. I love a good cup of tea, preferably accompanied by a chocolate brownie!’

For more information visit Davina Blake’s website and blog. You can also find her on Twitter.

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/pastencountersblogtour/

Hashtags: #PastEncountersBlogTour #HistoricalFiction

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @davina_blake

 04_Past Encounters_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

Highland Hunger by E. Knight is a Clever Scottish Romance with Passion and Action

03_Highland Hunger Complete Set Cover

Today I have the pleasure of reviewing E. Knight’s Highland Hunger novel, which was first released in several parts before being condensed into the whole. It’s a planned book series, as well. I was first intrigued by the branding of this book. Eliza and her graphic artist, Kim I think, did a cool job of branding this series with appealing graphics for the book cover, bookmarks, other graphics, etc. Take that from someone that’s been in marketing for 18+ plus years. So, yes, the graphics pulled me in. What else? Well, I love the movies and TV show, Highlander, and I’ve liked Scottish lore since I was little and I lived in England and my American parents were enamored by Scotland. I also like Disney’s Brave, does that count? Also, I like plaid. Joking.

Now if that wasn’t enough, I also really like the medieval times, their games, their Kings and Queens, their legends, and their drama. I like their fierce and strong women as well. Furthermore, in regards to what this book seems to take a nod from, I also REALLY like the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, which by the way, I read the books before the movies and find them extremely well-written. With the use of the phrases, “Let the Games Begin” and “May the Gods Be Forever In Their Favor” it’s pretty obvious that there is a reference used. I thought maybe she could have left off using the latter phrase and opted for something more Scottishly original; however, it may sell books.

However, E. Knight brings us a really well-brainstormed and imaginative story from the Scottish Isles set in the medieval times in which a male and female are chosen every five years from a series of war games. They are married and rule the land until the next games. I liked her unique twist on the games and that there are two winners to be married at the end. It’s very interesting the dynamics that this two-win marriage created between the game players in the book. I love this premise!!

When I first opened the novel, I was immediately drawn in by the “legend,” which was a kind of prologue that told of King Olaf and the legend of how the games began. I’m a sucker for that type of thing. I would have enjoyed reading more of that story. However, I enjoyed meeting the protagonist female warrior, Ceana, from the start and watch the story from her eyes. I liked her determination. The first couple chapters, though fine, weren’t enthralling enough for my taste however. Maybe I wanted more legend, or more visuals, but I didn’t feel sucked into the story anymore.

As the novel went on, it gave me a darker taste of these games to the death as the characters deal with all sorts of emotion stemming from the killing, the stress, the decisions, the mourning, and basically, being human. I am glad she gave them their humanity, whether it be in being sad for those who had died, or in the feral attraction between Ceana and Macrath. Of course, E. Knight will write adult fiction in a sexy and real way. She accomplished that well. I am sure she knows how to write the steamy romance that most romance readers are pinning for!

I haven’t read any of her other works beside her Eliza Knight Tudor Series, so I can’t speak of how this compares to her other romances, as I don’t normally read a ton of romance unless it is underlying to a historical fiction. If you’re wondering though, of course it does have sex, violence, and a dark side, but no more than many other things I read. It isn’t overdone and most adults should be fine reading it, but I don’t think it should be given to your teen reader if you are strict about sex in their reading.

It was entertaining in many parts and lulled in others. It wasn’t a book in which I wanted to turn the pages like flash lightening. I had hoped it would be. I would have preferred more grit myself and for her lead lady to be more of an independent warrior that needed no man. I probably would have been able to read even more dark and war-like parts myself. And I’m not into the story line where males get jealous of each other and fight over the female. Or when the man is possessive or dominant. That is just me and so I don’t want to mislead my own followers. But understanding what E. Knight writes, I can see it fits her writing and her fans would love it. Anyone who likes a heavy romance set amid some drama will love it.

One other hold up for me was that I was halted a little in getting into the story in a fluid fashion by her sentence structure. Though in most parts fine, in quite a few cases I didn’t like the short, choppy, or incomplete sentences. That is the editor in me though, wanting to fix the sentences and make them flow more. I also wanted to remove or place many commas. I didn’t notice this as much in her Tudor series, so I am not sure why it was hiccuping me so bad here. I also like sentences filled with emotion, details, or visuals and felt her needed a little more work. I am so sorry to say this, but I have to be honest, and as I’ve been an editor for a long while in all shapes and forms, I hope it’s nothing more than just helpful. If others aren’t bothered by this in their reading, then that is quite alright too.

I enjoyed checking it out and I’d continue to read the rest of the series. I applaud her for trying something new and I think it’s really different from anything in the historical fiction realm. I’ll be giving it a 4 on Amazon for her imagination and plot construct, but I’d like to give it a 3 for better editing and depth to characters and details. And I’d give it a 5 for marketing and packaging! I’d even buy dolls if she put them out for purchase.

Overall, if you like steamy medieval romances from the Scottish Highlands and are looking for something entertaining, imaginative, and fun to heat up your dark nights, then start with Highland Hunger and enjoy her unique historical romance series.  Romance fans will stand up and cheer for the victors!

03_Highland Hunger Complete Set CoverHighland Hunger, Synopsis~

Publication Date: September 18, 2014
Knight Media, LLC.
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 278

Genre: Historical Romance

GoodReads

***ALL FIVE GAMES!!!***

An unclaimed land in the Scottish isles is ruled by the male and female victors in a series of war games every five years. Named Chief and Lady of the land, they rule the vast holding, and protect the people by divine right, until the next game begins.

After her brother’s death Ceana is named laird. The only way for her clan to survive the ravages of the Highlands is to join in the war games. Bastard son of a powerful earl, Macrath is placed in the games by his vengeful stepmother. He must survive for the ultimate retribution.

Ceana can’t afford to like the formidable, captivating, Highlander who seems to be following her, and yet she can’t seem to walk away. Macrath wants nothing more than to protect the enchanting warrior lass, but doing so may get in the way of his need for revenge. What starts out as a race to survive turns into passion to endure together.

May the gods be forever in their favor…

Buy the Book~

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Author E. Knight, Bio~

Eliza KnightE. Knight is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America and several RWA affiliate writing chapters: Hearts Through History, Celtic Hearts, Maryland Romance Writers and Washington Romance Writers.

Growing up playing in castle ruins and traipsing the halls of Versailles when visiting her grandparents during the summer, instilled in a love of history and royals at an early age.

Feeding her love of history, she created the popular historical blog, History Undressed (www.historyundressed.com).

Under the pseudonym Eliza Knight, she is a bestselling, award-winning, multi-published author of historical and erotic romance.

For more information please visit E. Knight’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/highlandhungerblogtour/

Hashtags: #HighlandHungerBlogTour #HistoricalRomance #HighlandWarsGameOn

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @ElizaKnight

04_Highland Hunger_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

The Crystal Cage Time Slips Not Only to The Great Exhibition of Victorian London, but to High Marks by Me!

Today, I am reviewing The Crystal Cage, a historical romance by Merryn Allingham. You’ll find this review and a *giveaway* link, below the synopsis. On the post today you’ll also find two extracts from her novel, one from the modern day setting and then under the author bio, the Victorian era excerpt. Reading both will give you an idea of what you might expect from this lovely book. And isn’t this a beautiful cover!!??

02_The Crystal Cage

The Crystal Cage, Synopsis~    
by Merryn Allingham

Publication Date: August 4, 2014
eHarlequin
eBook; ASIN: B00JTPU72S

Genre: Historical Romance

GOODREADS LINK

Captivated…or captured?

Appearances don’t always reveal the truth. Grace Latimer knows this better than most. Illusions of commitment and comfort have her trapped—until bohemian adventurer Nick Heysham charms his way into her world. Commissioned to recover a Great Exhibition architect’s missing designs, he persuades her to assist in his research. The mystery of the Crystal Palace seduces Grace, and once she discovers clues about a forbidden Victorian love affair, she’s lured into the deep secrets of the past…secrets that resemble her own.

As Grace and Nick dig into the elusive architect’s illicit, long-untold story, the ghosts of guilt and forbidden passion slip free. And history is bound to repeat itself, unless Grace finds the courage to break free and find a new definition of love…

Review~

I absolutely loved this book! I love historical romances in which either the characters time travel, or the book time travels. The Crystal Cage juxtaposes between modern and the Victorian Era. The author does this very well, leaving me grappling to go forth between the times to discover the mysteries presented. As historical fiction is my favorite genre, I also enjoyed the historical details that she weaved throughout the story in the past and how much research she put into mid-1800s Victorian London, during the time of The Great Exhibition, which is sometimes referred to as The Crystal Palace Exhibition (hence the book title, I think).

This was totally enthralling for me, as I have a real obsession with anything World’s Fair circa 19th or early 20th century! The Great Exhibition was an international exhibition that was held inside a great pavilion in London in 1851. It was first in a series of World’s Fairs, organized in part by Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, monarch of England at the time.

Grace, the women serving as sleuth in the modern day, taking on the mystery of a past 150 years before her, is a well-developed character. I admire her talent and motivation and feel connected to her due to her relationship issues with Nick, and even within herself. She’s had to put up a wall around herself, and I relished in watching her unfurl out of her shell.

After Nick asks her to help him work through the mystery of some missing historical pieces, she is intrigued by Lucas Royde, an architect of the past who designed the Pavilion at the Exhibition, and Alessia, of whom he has a relationship. Grace, who begins to unravel Royde’s ghosts of the past, sees situations mirroring her own relationship. The pages of this book turned quickly as I watched visually in my head the intertwining and unfolding of these two relationships.

As a female reader who likes reading novels that show women of the past overcoming circumstances, and even modern day women who do, I enjoyed how the author dealt with the elements of these couples and presented to us that though sometimes times change, they also DON’T change when it comes to love and gender roles in romance and work. Fears are still real, no matter what the century and the past can’t seal the future. Which is where the cage part of the title comes into the mix!

I believe the book was elegantly written, flowed nicely between the time periods and within the time periods, had excellent character development, and kept me intrigued and interested. I don’t read much romance overall, but this one with its blend of history and mystery, really had me captivated for a few day’s time.

Giveaway~

To win an eBook of The Crystal Cage please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway HERE. Two copies are up for grabs tour wide by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours! Giveaway is open internationally. It ends at 11:59 p.m. on October 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

EXCERPT FROM MODERN DAY SETTING:

I reached Silver Street before the Merricks, and the tarpaulins flapping in the wind led me straight to the schoolroom. Apart from an ineffectual attempt to shelter a part of the roof that had been opened to the sky, it was obvious that the builders had abandoned the site without securing it. I was able to open the heavy front door and wander into the narrow vestibule. This was where the girls would have hung their coats and capes and left their galoshes on inclement days. I should have waited for the Merricks here, but I didn’t. I was being nudged to explore. Another door faced me; I pushed it ajar and was drawn into a wide, open space. The schoolroom had remained much the same as it had when the last child had closed the lid of her desk.

I walked across the scratched tiled floor towards the dais that stood at the very end of the room. Remarkably it still boasted a desk, placed in a position of authority. This was where the teacher would have sat, cane no doubt by his or her side. It was as I approached the raised wooden structure that I first felt the prickling. A definite prickling of the skin that started at my scalp and inched downward to my feet. Then my chest began to feel tight and my breath to come less easily. This is absurd, I thought. I was in an empty room, a space that was entirely innocuous. Was I allowing Leo Merrick’s tale of unquiet spirits to get to me?

I was at the dais and starting up the steps to the desk when I stumbled. My legs felt suddenly heavy, so heavy that I could hardly drag one foot in front of the other. It was as though an invisible force was manipulating me, a force I wasn’t able to control. Somehow I managed to clamber onto the dais and collapse into a seat. The prickling had ceased but my chest was still tight, encased in a steel band. I sat staring down at the desk top for what seemed an age, until its grimy ridges began to flow one into another in a mad crisscross dance. When my pulse gradually steadied, I dared to look around. I’d been fearful at what I might see, but all I gazed on was emptiness. Light from the tall, arched windows fell crookedly across the floor, casting the corners of the room into shadow. But nothing moved, nothing breathed.

I should have walked back to the vestibule then, but instead I lifted the desk lid. What made me do that, I have no idea; I just knew in that instant that I had to. The desk was empty, of course. Except for the scent. It was a scent that was very familiar and for a moment it caught in my throat. Then common sense returned, and I lifted the lid a little farther and glimpsed a patch of white. Scrabbling in the deep well of the desk I brought out a linen handkerchief and put it to my nose. The perfume was unmistakeable—jasmine. I shook the handkerchief out and looked at it closely. Patched with a century’s dirt, it must have been tucked at the very back of the desk for years. One corner held a small, embroidered initial. When I saw what it was, my heart gave a sharp jolt. It was the letter A.

Buy the eBook

Amazon Kindle
Barnes & Noble Nook
Kobo Books

About Merryn Allingham~

03_Merryn AllinghamMy father was a soldier and most of my childhood was spent moving from place to place, school to school, including several years living in Egypt and Germany. I loved some of the schools I attended, but hated others, so it wasn’t too surprising that I left half way through the sixth form with ‘A’ Levels unfinished.

I became a secretary, as many girls did at the time, only to realise that the role of handmaiden wasn’t for me. Escape beckoned when I landed a job with an airline. I was determined to see as much of the world as possible, and working as cabin crew I met a good many interesting people and enjoyed some great experiences – riding in the foothills of the Andes, walking by the shores of Lake Victoria, flying pilgrims from Kandahar to Mecca to mention just a few.

I still love to travel and visit new places, especially those with an interesting history, but the arrival of marriage and children meant a more settled existence on the south coast of England, where I’ve lived ever since. It also gave me the opportunity to go back to ‘school’ and eventually gain a PhD from the University of Sussex. For many years I taught university literature and loved every minute of it. What could be better than spending my life reading and talking about books? Well, perhaps writing them.

I’ve always had a desire to write but there never seemed time to do more than dabble with the occasional short story. And my day job ensured that I never lost the critical voice in my head telling me that I really shouldn’t bother. But gradually the voice started growing fainter and at the same time the idea that I might actually write a whole book began to take hold. My cats – two stunning cream and lilac shorthairs – gave their approval, since it meant my spending a good deal more time at home with them!

The 19th century is my special period of literature and I grew up reading Georgette Heyer, so when I finally found the courage to try writing for myself, the books had to be Regency romances. Over the last four years, writing as Isabelle Goddard, I’ve published six novels set in the Regency period.

Since then, I’ve moved on a few years to Victorian England, and I’ve changed genre too. The Crystal Cage is my first novel under the name of Merryn Allingham. The book is a mystery/romantic suspense and tells the story of a long-lost tragedy, and the way echoes from the past can powerfully influence the life of a modern day heroine. The next few Allingham books will see yet another move timewise. I’ve been writing a suspense trilogy set in India and wartime London during the 1930s and 1940s, and hope soon to have news of publication.

Whatever period, whatever genre, creating new worlds and sharing them with readers gives me huge pleasure and I can’t think of a better job.

Connect with Merryn Allingham on Facebook and Goodreads.

EXCERPT FROM VICTORIAN PERIOD:

‘You are very quiet, my love,’ he remarked as they strolled down the South Walk. ‘Does this place perturb you? Vauxhall is hardly the Crystal Palace, I grant.’

She looked vaguely around as though she hardly registered her surroundings. ‘I am well, Lucas, thank you.’ Her voice had lost its rich music.

‘Are you sure?’

‘Yes, it is really nothing.’

‘Which means that you are bothered by something. Tell me,’ he urged.

She hesitated for some minutes before saying diffidently, ‘I thought that I recognised someone as I approached the gates. But I must have been mistaken.’

‘Who?’

‘A woman. She looked like a visitor who once came to tea with my mother-in-law. But I must be mistaken,’ she repeated.

‘I think you must. I cannot imagine a friend of the elder Mrs Renville frequenting Vauxhall!’

He was cajoling her, quite sure that her nervous state had precipitated these qualms. ‘But just in case, we will hide ourselves completely,’ and he steered her towards one of the small paths that led away from the main promenade towards what he knew was the Dark Walk. Here the lamps were absent and the company very thin. It was not long before he found a small wooden shelter half way up the Walk where they could be entirely alone amid thick darkness.

‘I have news,’ he said, trying to not to betray his excitement. ‘The plans I have been pursuing are now almost certain. I hope to be designing the Carlyon chapel as an architect in my own right.’

She looked at him blankly. Her mind still seemed far away and he had to reiterate, ‘I will be leaving de Vere’s.’

This startled her into words. ‘But without a salary, how will you manage? How will you afford your lodgings?’

‘Once I am working for the earl, I will be able to afford far superior lodgings. So superior they will be good enough to accommodate you.’

‘I will be able to visit you there?’

He clasped her hands tightly between his. ‘You will be able to live with me there.’

‘You are suggesting that I leave my home?’

He could not understand her reluctance but said patiently, ‘We cannot continue to meet like this, Alessia. You must know that. We must have a place to call our own.’

‘But I cannot leave Edward. I am his wife.’

Why did she cling so tenaciously to a life that she despised? ‘Are you not more my wife than his?’ he asked urgently.

‘But in the eyes of the church…’ Her voice trailed off, disappearing into the night mist.

‘What matters most—our eyes or those of a distant church?’ He was almost fierce in his denunciation.

‘Ours,’ she agreed unhappily.

‘So?’

‘But you cannot have thought—my daughters—’

‘The proceeds of the Carlyon commission will allow me to rent a substantial house. We will have them to live with us.’

‘Edward would never agree.’

‘But surely he would not separate them from their mother.’

‘They are his children and he will wish to keep them. The law is on his side.’

‘I accept that, but if he knows what it means to you to have them?’

‘Can you not understand? They are his children, I am his wife. We belong to him. If I should dare to leave, he will do everything in his power to hurt me.’

The eagerness slowly drained from Lucas and he slumped back against the shelter’s rough wooden wall. She turned to him in anguish, desperately gripping his shoulders. ‘I cannot relinquish my daughters, Lucas. You cannot ask it of me.’

When he responded, his voice held the note of defeat. ‘What you are saying is that you will never come to me.’

A long and painful silence descended between them while Alessia slowly twisted into mangled leather the gloves she held. At length, in a voice hardly above a whisper, she said, ‘I did not say that.’

The words appeared wrenched from her, but they galvanised Lucas. He leant forward again, all his eagerness returned. ‘Then say you will come. Say that you love me enough to do this.’

‘Sometimes,’ she said slowly, ‘I think you do not know just how much I love you.’

‘Then come to me, my darling.’

‘When?’

‘As soon as the Great Exhibition has opened, I will be free to work for Lord Carlyon. I will make all the necessary plans.’

‘And my children?’

‘Once we are settled in our new home, I will request an interview with your husband. I will tell him your need for your daughters and say that everything will be done discreetly. You are not a part of his social world, so who is to know that you no longer live at Wisteria Lodge?’

She shook her head and a look of near despair flooded her lovely face.

‘Alessia!’ he said urgently. ‘It cannot truly matter to Edward Renville whether you live with him or not. It is only his business that he cares for. And as for the children, he will see them whenever he wishes.’

Her continued silence moved him to desperation. ‘If you love me, you will come.’

‘I do, I do,’ she said sobbing into his shoulder.

04_The Crystal Cage_Blog Tour Banner_FINALv2

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/thecrystalcageblogtour

Hashtags: #TheCrystalCageBlogTour #HistoricalRomance

Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @merrynallingham

Giveaway note: Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on October 16th and notified via email and have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. Giveaway is run by Historical Fiction Virtual Book tours and Hook of a Book claims no responsibility.

I was given a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

2 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews

Interview with the Intelligent and Humorous Anna Belfrage, historical author of The Graham Saga Series

Today, I have an excellent exclusive interview with Anna Belfrage, author of The Graham Saga series, the newest release being book three, called The Prodigal Son. Make sure to sign-up for the giveaway for a copy of the book, following the interview. Enjoy my discussion with Anna, she’s so insightful and humorous! You’ll love it!

Hi Anna! So happy to have you on Oh, for the Hook of a Book today for an interview! You’re an absolute delight and I bet readers are going to have as good a time reading our interview as I will have hosting it. How are things? You’ve been so busy producing your book series, have you had time for anything else?

Anna: Hi Erin, I’m so thrilled to be here – I feel quite honoured to have the opportunity to chat with you like this. As to how things are, well it’s all a bit hectic – but fun hectic. However, if you ask my family they might grumble, along the lines that their mother & wife spends too much time in front of her computer, too little in the kitchen.

Erin: Ah, well let’s relax and have a tea party then, shall we? What’s your choice of tea (Anna replies that she likes black tea, no milk) and I’ll make up a pot. Let’s splurge and eat something yummy while we’re at it too! Let’s get our discussion started!

Q:  When were you first inspired to write? Given your day job, how did you decide it was time to let your creative side out for all of us to enjoy?

A: I was first inspired to write when as I child I read a book (by Henry Treece I think) where the ending was not to my liking. I’m a bit of a sucker for some sort of a happy end – it doesn’t have to be an uncomplicated happy end, and there may be sorrows and losses along the way, but still, some sort of “phew, they made it!” feeling is important to me. This is why – dare I admit it? – I always peek at the last page to reassure myself the characters I’m rooting for will be okay. Makes it a bit difficult to read George. R.R. Martin, let me tell you! (But I do)

As to my day job, I am fortunate enough to have a demanding, challenging job that keeps me on my toes and allows me to grow. Yes, I have a number of time conflicts, but now that my children are more or less grown up, I invest the time I used to spend on them at my writing desk. I escape into my bubble of make believe for a couple of hours and reappear refreshed and energized – well, sometimes I reappear a bit too late, like three a.m. which makes next morning somewhat heavy, but the sheer joy of writing makes it all worthwhile.

Q:  How did the idea form for you to write A Rip in the Veil, your first book that started your Graham Saga series, which is just now publishing Book Three, The Prodigal Son? Were at first just set to write one book and it became a series? Or did you always have a series in mind?

A: Alexandra Lind has been in my head for very many years. She’s danced through my brain and in her wake came Matthew (happy sigh) and a whispered account of so many adventures my mind suffered a minor quake. So when I started writing A Rip in the Veil I already knew one book wouldn’t be enough.

Q: How much do you control the characters in your novel as you write and how often do they lead you to where their story needs to go?

A: “Control?” Alex laughs and shakes her head. “You have no idea, do you Erin? We lead Anna quite the merry dance, we do!” Well; maybe not as merry as all that, because I do have a general blueprint of how the story is going to develop, but my characters do have a major influence on events. I have spent a lot of time with Matthew and Alex, I know where they’re going, I know where they’ve been, and still there are moments when they act in a way that surprises me but which, after having considered it for some minutes, makes absolute sense.

In book two, Like Chaff in the Wind, there is a scene where Alex feels obliged to taunt Matthew into a rage to break through the walls of silence he is building to protect his vulnerable and ravaged inner core. The fallout was not quite what I had expected… (And Matthew prefers not to think of it – at all.) In book three Captain Leslie decided to reappear, riding down the lane with perfect timing. I was very happy to see him – as was Alex – especially as he goes on to play an important part in all the subsequent books.  

Q:  Has it been an easy story to tell in the sense of it flows pretty easy on paper? I know you have several planned in the series (all with great covers), have you already written them all or do you have it all scheduled out? Can you talk about what is coming up in the series?

A: It’s an easy story to write, definitely. The problem lies in pruning it, because there are so many potential side stories, so many cameo characters that could grow into something more. And yes, I have already written them all – but that doesn’t mean I am finished as I have a LOT of editing left to do.

As to where the future books will take us, we will follow the Graham family to Maryland and their new life there, we will spend some time in London, traipse down to the West Indies to rescue a family member and return to Scotland with a  detour through Seville. Religion remains a recurring theme and in Maryland the relationship between colonists and Indians play a central part. One of Mercedes’ magical paintings will resurface, causing considerable chaos, and to top it all off both Matthew and Alex will come face to face with people from their past – not all of them friendly faces.

Q:  Speaking of covers, you have some of the most beautiful covers! Did you have a hand in designing them?  Do you think covers help sell books?

A: Why thank you! The credit resides with Oliver Bennett at GB Print. I will waffle on about what I want – I have a very clear image of what I want and sometimes I’ve sent him a sketch – he will think for a couple of days, and voilà! a new cover lands in my inbox. It’s sort of amusing; Oliver is a young man, far from the intended target group for my books, and yet he immediately gets it, now and then adding details to make the whole even better. I think a good cover snags the eye, thereby generating the initial interest that is a prerequisite for a sale.

The Prodigal Son

Q:  Who is your favorite character in any of your books so far? And why?

A: I am rather in love with Matthew. (“What?” Alex scowls. “Hands off, lady!” “Fine,” I mutter, “it’s not as if I have a chance anyway, is it?” “Nay, not as such,” Matthew says, gathering Alex to his chest. He winks at me, that long mouth of his quirking into a smile. ) I like his steadfastness, his convictions, the stubborn streak in him that Alex finds enervating. I like how vulnerable he can be at times, that he admits to being frightened, that he recognizes how dependent he is on his Alex. (“Shush,” Matthew mutters, “she doesn’t need to know, aye?” Alex hugs him from behind. “I already do,” she says, kissing his nape. “Besides, it’s mutual.”) I have really enjoyed working with a male POV – I think it has deepened my understanding of men in general.

Q: What has been your favorite part of writing this series? (I know, when those voices talk to you..ha!)

A: Yes, the voices in my head do add an extra dimension to my life. 🙂 Actually, I really enjoy following Matthew and Alex through their lives, being at their side as their family expands, holding their hand when they suffer loss. Through them I have learnt so much; about life in the seventeenth century, about the sheer courage required to set off for a new life in the colonies, about love in all its varied forms, about faith and determination – and about myself.

Q:  What has been your biggest challenge?

A: As a writer of Historical Fiction, I think the biggest challenge is to always remember that it’s the characters, not the historical events, that must be the backbone of your book. Readers relate to people, not to dates, and no matter how much facts you load your work with it won’t fly unless there’s a human interest. There is a constant temptation to show off, to add a paragraph or two describing just how the cider press works, or how the honey is separated from the honeycomb, or how the maple syrup is kept simmering for hours on end over open fire. The thing is, most of the readers don’t care! Having said that, most readers are quick to spot an anachronism, so whatever you do include must be correct, so I don’t have Alex wandering out to collect eggs in in December – hens don’t lay eggs between November and March – nor do Matthew’s breeches have zippers (duh!).

Q:  What is your favorite historical time period? Do you have another time and place you’d like to write about outside of this series? If you could time travel yourself, where would it be to?

A: Well, obviously I have a thing about the 17th century – it is something of a breaking point between old and new. Many of the foundations upon which our modern societies are based saw the light of the day in the 17th century, starting with the Bill of Rights approved by the English Parliament in 1689. Also, I am rather fascinated by the religious conflicts that dominated the century.

I am also very interested in the medieval period and have a draft for a story set in early 14th century in England. Also, I have a fascination for the period of the Reconquista in Spain (15th century, mainly) and especially in the Andalucía region.

If I could time travel I would love to spend time with Henry II of England. And with Llewellyn Fawr. And with Robert Bruce. And with Isabel of Castille. And with Henry of Navarre. And with St Catherine of Sienna. And with Cardinal Richelieu. And with my favourite Swedish king, Gustavus Adolphus. Sheesh; I’d have one major jetlag after all those trips back and forth!

Q:  Do you think that it’s possible to time travel now or in the future? What kind of impact might that have on the future if we mess with history?

A: No, I don’t think time travelling will ever be possible – unless one resorts to magic, and one should never discount magic, should one? If it were possible, I think we would all be very tempted to tamper with history. Assassinating Robespierre would seem a good idea to avoid the terror he unleashed on Paris in the aftermath of the revolution. Drowning Hitler as a baby seems a good idea, and as to Lenin and Stalin… The problem with this is that we have no idea what the consequences would be if we did away with all these baddies. An excellent novel about the potential disaster caused by time travelling is Stephen Fry’s book Making History.

Q:  Are there any famous women in history that you’d like to write about in a novel or one that you admire?

A: I have a thing about Queen Christina of Sweden. I’m not sure I admire her, but she did know how to cause quite the ruckus – imagine that; the queen of staunchly protestant Sweden abdicated AND converted to Catholicism. I do have a WIP in which Queen Christina figures quite prominently. Otherwise, my admiration is mostly for the women who lived “ordinary” lives, who fed their children, held their families together, who followed their men across the seas to unknown lands. I cannot begin to comprehend just how brave these pioneer women were!

Q:  What advice do you have for women writers? How can they fulfill their writing dreams and make time for family and other obligations as well?

A: Difficult question: it is always a question of priorities, isn’t it? If you’re in that stage of your life where you have young children and have to combine this with a full time job I don’t think you should even try – it is difficult enough to juggle kids and work and your relationship. For many years all I did was write notes to self on scraps of paper, in notebooks – but I did write those notes! Once the children got older, I set aside “me” time for my writing – and made it clear to my family this was very important to me. Unless you consider it important enough to set aside time for it, no one else will take your writing seriously.

Q:  Do you have any other projects you are working on or plan for the future you haven’t already discussed?

A: Well, I did mention the book with Queen Christina in it, didn’t I? My lead character is a young woman called Sofia Carolina who decides she deserves a new start in life and finances this by nicking a nobleman’s family jewels. Off she goes, the enraged nobleman comes after, and things would not have ended well for Sofia if it hadn’t been for Jon Darrow, a disillusioned royalist who has been forced into exile and earns his living through various … err… creative endeavours.

Q:  Who are your writing mentors? Who inspires your writing? And who are some of you own favorite authors?

A: I don’t have any mentors – but I have a handful of people who support me and cheer me on, first and foremost my husband. Inspiration comes from various sources, but my children have definitely contributed to the Graham children. My favourite authors… now that is a long list! I read voraciously, across all genres, but if I restrict myself to the Historical Fiction genre the authors I always return to are Sharon Penman, Edith Pargeter, Barbara Erskine (especially her early books) and Pamela Belle. And yes, when in need of a special treat I will re-read my favourite passages in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.  

Q:  Where is the most beautiful place in the United Kingdom?

A: Given that I’m not British, I probably haven’t seen ALL the beautiful places in the UK, no matter that I’ve spent a lot of time there. However, I would argue that the Aber falls (Afon Rhaedr fawr) close to the A55 on the northern coast of Wales is a spectacular spot.

Q:  And last but not least, what kind of food gets you through marathon writing sessions?

A: Chocolate. Tea. More chocolate. Unfortunately carrots don’t do it for me…

Q: Where can readers connect with you?

A: On my website, www.annabelfrage.com, or by commenting on my blog, annabelfrage.wordpress.com. I am also on facebook and on twitter, @Anna_Belfrage.

Q:  Where is the best place to purchase your books?

A: They’re actually available on most online bookshops, but I tend to recommend Amazon, Barnes& Noble and Trobador.co.uk.

Erin:  Anna, thank you so much for coming by my site, it’s always a pleasure to get to speak with you. Best wishes on your writing!

Anna: Likewise Erin – and thanks! And hey, if you’re not having that last slice of chocolate cake, can I have it?

Erin: I’ll split it with you. *wink*

Giveaway~

The giveaway is for one copy of The Prodigal Son and open internationally.  To enter, please comment below in the footer, email me to hookofabook(at)hotmail(dot)com, or on the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/HookofaBook. In all cases, you must leave your email so I can contact you if you win.

Extra entries: +1 for following this blog, +1 for recommending the blog, and +3 for “liking” the above mentioned Facebook page. Good luck and let me know which extras you do.

 THE PRODIGAL SON, Synopsis~

The Prodigal SonPublication Date: July 1, 2013
Matador Publishing
Paperback; 392p
ISBN-10: 1780885741

Safely returned from an involuntary stay on a tobacco plantation in Virginia, Matthew Graham finds the Scottish Lowlands torn asunder by religious strife. The government of His Restored Majesty, Charles II, requires all his subjects to swear fealty to him and the Church of England, riding roughshod over any opposition.

In Ayrshire, the people close ranks around their evicted ministers, stubbornly clinging to their Presbyterian faith. But disobedience comes at a price – a very steep price – and as neighbours and friends are driven from hearth and home, Alex becomes increasingly more nervous as to what her Matthew is risking by his continued support of the clandestine ministers – foremost amongst them the charismatic Sandy Peden.

Privately, Alex considers Sandy an enervating fanatic and all this religious fervour is totally incomprehensible to her. So when Matthew repeatedly sets his faith and minister before his own safety and therefore per extension her safety and the safety of their children, he puts their marriage under severe strain.

The situation is further complicated by the presence of Ian, the son Matthew was cruelly duped into disowning several years ago. Now Matthew wants Ian back and Alex isn’t entirely sure this is a good thing, watching from a distance as her husband dances round his lost boy.

Things are brought to a head when Matthew yet again places all their lives in the balance to save his dear friend and preacher from the dragoons that chase him over the moor.
How much is Matthew willing to risk? How much will he ultimately lose?

Will she find him in time? And if she does, will she be capable of paying the price required to buy him free?

Author Anna Belfrage, Biography~

Anna BelfrageI was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result I’m multilingual and most of my reading is historical – both non-fiction and fiction.

I was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred.

I was always going to be a writer. Now I am – I have achieved my dream.

www.annabelfrage.com

Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/theprodigalsontour/
Twitter Hashtag: #ProdigalSonTour

The Prodigal Son Tour Banner FINAL

4 Comments

Filed under Q and A with Authors

The Prodigal Son by Anna Belfrage Continues The Graham Saga with Love and Hope in the Midst of Harsh Times

The Prodigal SonThe Prodigal Son is Anna Belfrage’s third book in her Graham Saga series, a story about a time shifted Alexandra (Alex) Lind and her husband, Matthew Graham, whom she marries in the seventeenth century.  In this installment, Anna continues to give us the same well-developed characters, cherished love story, conflicts and resolution, and her usual amazing feelings of hope.

Starting the series with A Rip in the Veil, we meet Alex who is caught in a thunderstorm that suddenly transports her from 2002 to 1658 Scotland where she lands near the feet of Matthew and is thrown into the adventure of adjusting to an entirely new set of circumstances. Even as she is independent and strong, Matthew is stubborn and protective and they fall in love quickly as well as a whole host of other situations.  As we read the second book, Like Chaff in the Wind, Alex and Matthew sail to the New World.  You can read my review of that HERE.

This third book, The Prodigal Son, sets them back in Scotland during a time of much upheaval due to politics and religion, both intertwined at the time. With many people standing up and almost risking their lives to be able to have religious freedom and not conform to the Church of England under Charles II, Matthew puts his life, as well as his family’s in danger, by helping ministers and the cause. One of those ministers he assists is Sandy Peden (who actually existed and was on the run for his religious beliefs almost his whole life), much to Alex’s disdain as she didn’t want her family to suffer for the antics of these people’s fervent beliefs (she doesn’t quite always understand Matthew’s desires and would prefer he stay out of it!). 

Though not a religious novel, due to the time period itself being racked with religious zeal and war, it really seeped into every life during this time period following England’s restoration as well as the settling of the American colonies. Men like Anna’s character of Matthew would have felt strongly about holding onto his personal rights at that time, even if it meant hiding “on the run” ministers who were upholding freedom of religion and speech, even as others threatened their lives and chased them down. I enjoyed the times in Anna’s story when Matthew and Alex would discuss religion or actions, even theology with alternate and proposed ideas of God, all as if they were discussing the price of tea, then they’d kiss and declare their love for one another. THAT is the best part of this book for me, by the way, the never-ending, undying love that Matthew and Alex have for one another that knows no bounds.

The worst part for me is that Matthew’s devotion to the freedom of religion cause and helping others does leave a disastrous mark on their family and their life together. It was a chapter of weeping, but I won’t share and spoil the novel. However, it’s sooo sad!!!  It truly tugged at the heart-strings. Again though, it didn’t change their love for one another and there is a chance for rebirth of hope and family.

Another plot point in Anna’s third book has to do with the title (The Prodigal Son), as Matthew’s ex-wife, who was always in love with Matthew’s egotistical brother Luke, comes to their country residence saying she needs to run from the plague, but when she has to leave the son that Luke has declared his, even though it most likely has always been Matthew’s son, Matthew and Ian grow close, only to be torn apart and brought together in an ebb and flow of sorts. It’s up to you to read and see if they are reunited permanently. But you’ll love how Anna’s writes so much emotion into all of the characters; you’ll feel what they feel. She does a phenomenal job of developing characters and she handles, and has Alex handle, the situation with grace and understanding.

Overall, I love the LOVE that spills forth through this novel. I love Alex’s independence, strength, devotion, will, endurance, understanding, plus she learns and adapts quickly! Living in the late 1600s is not easy when you are from the 2000s. I also enjoy her humor quite a bit, her bluntness, and her wit.

I’ve loved Anna’s series so far, and especially The Prodigal Son, and I look forward (not very patiently) for the next novel in The Graham Saga.  I highly recommend this historical series and I personally can’t wait to see where Anna will take the series.  Matthew and Alex are the perfect couple who fit together as two parts of an apple, which really shows us as readers that nothing can stand in the way of love (even 300 years)!

THE PRODIGAL SON, Synopsis~

The Prodigal SonPublication Date: July 1, 2013
Matador Publishing
Paperback; 392p
ISBN-10: 1780885741

Safely returned from an involuntary stay on a tobacco plantation in Virginia, Matthew Graham finds the Scottish Lowlands torn asunder by religious strife. The government of His Restored Majesty, Charles II, requires all his subjects to swear fealty to him and the Church of England, riding roughshod over any opposition.

In Ayrshire, the people close ranks around their evicted ministers, stubbornly clinging to their Presbyterian faith. But disobedience comes at a price – a very steep price – and as neighbours and friends are driven from hearth and home, Alex becomes increasingly more nervous as to what her Matthew is risking by his continued support of the clandestine ministers – foremost amongst them the charismatic Sandy Peden.

Privately, Alex considers Sandy an enervating fanatic and all this religious fervour is totally incomprehensible to her. So when Matthew repeatedly sets his faith and minister before his own safety and therefore per extension her safety and the safety of their children, he puts their marriage under severe strain.

The situation is further complicated by the presence of Ian, the son Matthew was cruelly duped into disowning several years ago. Now Matthew wants Ian back and Alex isn’t entirely sure this is a good thing, watching from a distance as her husband dances round his lost boy.

Things are brought to a head when Matthew yet again places all their lives in the balance to save his dear friend and preacher from the dragoons that chase him over the moor.

How much is Matthew willing to risk? How much will he ultimately lose?

Author Anna Belfrage, Biography~

Anna BelfrageI was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result I’m multilingual and most of my reading is historical – both non-fiction and fiction.

I was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred.

I was always going to be a writer. Now I am – I have achieved my dream.

www.annabelfrage.com

Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/theprodigalsontour/
Twitter Hashtag: #ProdigalSonTour

The Prodigal Son Tour Banner FINAL

4 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews