Friday 30 June 2017

#newrelease ~ Quest of a Warrior #Romance @m_morganauthor

Quest of a Warrior

(Legends of the Fenian Warriors Book 1)

By Mary Morgan

"You met them in the Order of the Dragon Knights. Now, journey to the realm of the Fae and witness their legends!"

Fenian Warrior, Conn MacRoich has traveled the earth for thousands of years, guarding the realm between mortal and Fae. His deeds are legendary. Yet, one mistake will force him on a journey to fix a broken time-line. However, on Conn’s quest, he must face a human female who will eventually bring this ancient warrior to his knees.

When Ivy O’Callaghan inherits her uncle’s estate, she never imagines there will be more secrets to unravel, including the one she hides from the world. With the help of a mysterious stranger, she learns to trust and step out of the shadows. However, nothing prepares Ivy when she learns Conn's true identity.

As the loom of fate weaves a thread around the lovers from two different worlds, will the sacrifices they make lead them to love? Or will their secrets destroy and separate them forever?

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About the author

Scottish paranormal romance author, Mary Morgan resides in Northern California, with her own knight in shining armor. However, during her travels to Scotland, England, and Ireland, she left a part of her soul in one of these countries and vows to return. 

Mary's passion for books started at an early age along with an overactive imagination. She spent far too much time daydreaming and was told quite often to remove her head from the clouds. It wasn't until the closure of Borders Books where Mary worked that she found her true calling--writing romance. Now, the worlds she created in her mind are coming to life within her stories. 

Thursday 29 June 2017

The Land of Merlin ~ Merlin's Cave #FolkloreThursday #Arthurian #Britain #legend

We tend to think of folklore as stories that were told a long time ago — but are we right in this assumption?

The Great sorcerer, Merlin.

Last week I took a look at Geoffrey of Monmouth’s interpretation of Merlin. This week, I am going to stick with Merlin, but instead of Monmouth I am going to take a look at another one of the Great Arthurian Writers. I will also try to answer the question I just posed.

"Wave after wave, each mightier than the last,
Till last, a ninth one, gathering half the deep
And full of voices, slowly rose and plunged
Roaring, and all the wave was in a flame:
And down the wave and in the flame was borne
A naked babe, and rode to Merlin’s feet,
Who stoopt and caught the babe, and cried "The King!
Here is an heir for Uther!"

The above quote was taken from Tennyson’s Idylls of the King and the place Tennyson was referring to was none other than Merlin’s Cave in Cornwall. The cave itself sits under Tintagel Castle, and if you have the slightest interest in Arthur, then I am sure you have heard of Tintagel. If you ever get the chance to visit Tintagel, then do. It is a stunning location, well worth checking out.

Who was Lord Tennyson?

Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson, (6 August 1809 – 6 October 1892) was the Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria’s reign. Lord Tennyson was appointed to the position of Poet Laureate in 1850, after the death of William Wordsworth, and he is mostly remembered for his great work — The Charge of the Light Brigade. But I am interested in him because he also published an Arthurian inspired epic poem between 1859 and 1885 and he called it, as I have already said, The Idylls of King.

Now anyone who writes about Arthur, myself included, draws on the work of the Great Arthurian Poets, and Tennyson was no different. But his poem was so epic that he split it into 12 parts, and each part dealt with a different aspect of the Arthurian tale — however, he gave his stories a slight Victorian twist!

Tintagel Castle and Merlin’s Cave.

Geoffrey of Monmouth had already given us Tintagel Castle as the birthplace of Arthur. Tennyson took this one step further, and I can understand why he did. There is a cave under Tintagel Castle, and this cave was begging to be included in the tale. The cave in question fills up with water at every high tide, and it is easy enough to imagine Merlin approaching the cave with a shining staff in his hand, lighting his way. If Merlin were to have a cave, then this would be it. This unknown cave became a tourist attraction that suddenly had a long association with Arthurian legend — it was just that no one knew about it until Tennyson told us!

Another Arthurian location...

I don’t know about you, but I love checking out film locations. I am lucky enough that I live very near some Poldark film locations. I have also travelled around Scotland checking out the Outlander film locations. Now I am sure you would not disagree with me when I say that neither Poldark or Outlander scream folklore. But when we put the same principles into Arthur’s story then there are some startling similarities because, let’s be honest, if you are going to visit an Arthurian location, it isn’t the same as spending the day at, I don’t know, Hampton Court. You are instead visiting book locations, folklore locations. 

However, saying that, visiting Arthurian book locations doesn’t feel the same, as visiting the locations of Poldark, Outlander or even Game of Thrones for that matter, because we recognise them as stories, but when it comes to Arthur, we don’t do that. The folklore is so engrained into our culture that we just kind of accept it as maybe not fact, but something very close. And the reason for this is simply because Geoffrey of Monmouth’s great work in the 12th Century was a must read. A factual, must read. And that is where the problem lies with Arthurian folklore. For centuries we were told these stories were true and somewhere ingrained deep down inside us is the belief that they are. Of course, over the centuries there are plenty of people who have exploited the Arthurian story — the monks of Glastonbury Abbey being one of them. But just think on this, a thousand years ago the people of Britain were making pilgrimages — we would probably call it a holiday, or a day out — to these sites that were associated with Arthur and we are still doing it, after all this time. Isn’t that incredible? Arthur is still drawing in the crowds, and I believe that he will continue to draw in the crowds long after we have forgotten all about Poldark and Outlander and even, dare I say it, Jon Snow. And that, my friends, is the power of folklore. It is not the same as a book, it isn’t the same as factual history. It evolves, and we accept it. Suddenly Tennyson’s version of events seems as old as time. Merlin always had a cave...didn’t he? It is humbling when you think about it.

If you fancy finding out what happened after the death of King Arthur, then why not check out my historical fantasy series — The Du Lac Chronicles...

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Wednesday 28 June 2017

Author’s Inspiration ~ Judith Arnopp #Historical #Histfic @JudithArnopp

Please give a warm Coffee Pot welcome to Historical Fiction author, Judith Arnopp. Today, Judith is going to share with us her inspirations behind her latest series…

The Beaufort Chronicles

The Beaufort Bride - As King Henry VI slips into insanity and the realm of England teeters on the brink of civil war, a child is married to the mad king’s brother. Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond, takes his child bride into Wales where she discovers a land of strife and strangers.

At Caldicot Castle and Lamphey Palace, Margaret Beaufort must put aside childhood to acquire the dignity of a Countess and despite her tender years produce Richmond with a son and heir.

While Edmund battles to restore the king’s peace, Margaret quietly supports his quest; but it is a quest fraught with danger.

As the friction between York and Lancaster intensifies Margaret, now fourteen,  is widowed and turns for protection to her brother-in-law, Jasper Tudor. Two months later at Jasper’s stronghold in Pembroke, Margaret gives birth to a son whom she names Henry, after her cousin the king. 

Margaret’s story continues in The Beaufort Woman

As the struggle between York and Lancaster continues Margaret, now married to Henry Stafford, fights for admittance to the court of the victorious Edward IV of York and his unpopular queen, Elizabeth Woodville.

The old Lancastrian king and his heir are dead, leaving only Margaret’s son, the exiled Henry Tudor, with a tenuous claim to the throne. York’s hold on England is strong and his royal nursery replete, with two small princes securing their line. But Edward and Elizabeth’s magnificent court hides a dark secret, a deception that threatens the security of the English throne … and all who lust after it.

In 1483, with the untimely death of the King, Margaret finds herself at the heart of chain of events that threaten the supremacy of York, and will change England forever.

Author’s Inspiration

I can scarcely believe I am on my ninth historical fiction book now.  My first, Peaceweaver, was published in 2009 and many things about my writing have altered since then. My inspiration however has remained the same.

I’ve read historical fiction all my life and when I began to think about a writing career I didn’t consider any other genre. I have always been fascinated not only with the fashions and social considerations of the past but with the people, particularly the women. Females had it tough – well, everybody had it tough but men were at least allowed their place in history. The motivations, concerns and actions of women, not highly regarded by the male chroniclers, were largely underrepresented. I like to provide these women, silenced by history, with a voice. I write from a female point of view, using fiction to fill the void but I never forget it is fiction, even if it is heavily based on research.

The wives of Henry VIII are often dismissed as ‘boring’ but that is so far from the truth. Each one of Henry’s queens is fascinating, and there is something to admire in all of them. Catherine of Aragon refused to bow to Henry’s desire for a divorce was exiled from court, living in relative penury for the sake of her daughter’s position. Anne Boleyn, dismissed by history as a scheming home wrecker was a strong woman who did much for the new religion and possessed a fierce and challenging intelligence. Henry’s third wife, Jane Seymour, was queen for such a short time that there is little in the record to reveal her real character or motivation. Some historians dismiss her as the tool of ambitious brothers, while some claim she actively sought Henry’s favour with an eye to the main prize. Whichever way you view her, ultimately she sacrificed her life to provide Henry with his deepest desire – a son and heir to secure the Tudor line.

Anne of Cleves, faced with the shame of rejection by the fastidious king ultimately emerged best of all. Henry endowed her with fine residences and she lived a full life, often at court as a good friend of the king. Katherine Howard made mistakes yet, despite her tender years, found the capacity to die bravely on the scaffold. And Katheryn Parr, the last queen, played her role of queen faultlessly, escaping the executioner’s blade by a whisker, only to die tragically shortly after giving birth to Seymour’s daughter.

These inspirational women who had the misfortune to attract the attention of Henry VIII and became entangled in his struggle to secure the Tudor line, are the women who inhabit most of my books.

Set at the time of Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard the narrative of The Winchester Goose passes back and forth between the royal court to the stews of Southwark where prostitute, Joanie Toogood, makes cynical and comical observations on the lives of her betters.

The Kiss of the Concubine is the story of Anne Boleyn – another woman who has been tainted both historically and in fiction. My main inspiration was to allow Anne to tell her side of the story without resorting to the use of witchcraft or to sleeping with her brother! Anne reveals a Henry who is a complex, insecure and often confused man – disappointed in himself and striking out at those who love him best.

Elizabeth of York has, until recently, been neglected in fiction. In A Song of Sixpence I consider the conflicts she, being of York’s line, may have faced as a Tudor queen. I also introduce the mysterious figure of Perkin Warbeck, a challenger to Henry VII’s throne. If Perkin was indeed one of the lost princes, how did Elizabeth overcome the dilemma of choosing between the life of her brother or her son’s future as king of England.
These days, women are seldom required to make politic marriages but we are often forced to do things we’d rather not. When Katheryn Parr agreed to wed Henry VIII she sacrificed her own romantic inclination to marry Thomas Seymour but she didn’t go into marriage with the king half-heartedly. She set aside her own plans and fully embraced her role as queen, championing the new learning, standing as regent while Henry fought in France and, unlike her predecessor, behaving in a thoroughly regal and admirable manner. She was also the first English queen to become a published author! Katheryn Parr was perhaps the most surprising of Henry’s queens.
All the women I feature are intelligent, resourceful and brave but also flawed, just as we all are. My biggest challenge yet has been Margaret Beaufort. Margaret has been very poorly represented in fiction and the reason for this is quite clear. She was not a pretty woman, but she was pious, resilient and very, very determined. It is not easy to turn a strong, plain woman into a romantic heroine and so, in fiction at least, she has become a harridan, a half-mad zealot. Feminists today rejoice in the few medieval women who stepped from beneath the thumb of masculine authority but Margaret is seldom among them. I wanted to change that because I think a celebration of strong medieval women would be lacking without Margaret; in fact, she should be leading the parade!
Margaret emerges as somebody who is imperfect but who seeks perfection, someone whose intentions are honourable but often conflicted. In the beginning, sent as young girl to be the wife of a stranger twice her age, Margaret can have had no concept that she would end her life as the most powerful woman in England.
I embraced her journey from girl to woman in The Beaufort Bride and The Beaufort Woman, allowing her to explain her motivation, and describe how she found the strength to fight her cause with very few weapons. I hope that in providing reasons for her actions, and colouring her relationships with emotion, I’ve managed to evoke a little empathy for her too.
Currently, I am working on The King’s Mother – the third and final book in the series. Having achieved a status beyond her wildest ambition, Margaret must now try to maintain it amid the rebellion and unrest that undermines her son’s early reign.
Margaret is a difficult character to write – sometimes when I try to nudge her along a particular line of narrative she digs in her heels and refuses to move! I have to rethink it and try to negotiate a path that suits us both. When it gets tough I remind myself that the greater the challenge, the greater the reward.
So, I appear to have been rambling, I do apologise. The short answer to your question, ‘what is my author inspiration?’ is ‘to give a voice to women in history who have been silenced in the historical record for too long.’
Thank you for listening.

Links for Purchase

About the author
When Judith Arnopp began to write professionally there was no question as to which genre to choose. A lifelong history enthusiast and avid reader, Judith holds an honours degree in English and Creative writing, and a Masters in Medieval Studies, both from the University of Wales, Lampeter. Judith writes both fiction and non-fiction, working full-time from her home overlooking Cardigan Bay in Wales where she crafts novels based in the Medieval and Tudor period. Her main focus is on the perspective of historical women from all roles of life, prostitutes to queens.
Her novels include: The Beaufort Bride, The Beaufort Woman (Book One and Two of The Beaufort Chronicles); A Song of Sixpence; Intractable Heart; The Kiss of the Concubine; The Winchester Goose; The Song of Heledd; The Forest Dwellers, and Peaceweaver.
She is currently working on Book Three of The Beaufort Chronicles: The King’s Mother.
Her non-fiction articles feature in various historical anthologies and magazines. 
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Tuesday 27 June 2017

#Bookreview ~ Echo in the Wind by Regan Walker #HistFic #Romance @RegansReview

Echo in the Wind

(Donet Trilogy Book 2)


Regan Walker

 England and France 1784

Cast out by his noble father for marrying the woman he loved, Jean Donet took to the sea, becoming a smuggler, delivering French brandy and tea to the south coast of England. When his young wife died, he nearly lost his sanity. In time, he became a pirate and then a privateer, vowing to never again risk his heart.

As Donet’s wealth grew, so grew his fame as a daring ship’s captain, the terror of the English Channel in the American War. When his father and older brother die in a carriage accident in France, Jean becomes the comte de Saintonge, a title he never wanted.

Lady Joanna West cares little for London Society, which considers her its darling. Marriage in the ton is either dull or disastrous. She wants no part of it. To help the poor in Sussex, she joins in their smuggling. Now she is the master of the beach, risking her reputation and her life. One night off the coast of Bognor, Joanna encounters the menacing captain of a smuggling ship, never realizing he is the mysterious comte de Saintonge.

What did I think of the Book?

Love on the High Seas...

Lady Joanna West cannot abide to see the poverty around her, but instead of attending organised charity events by like-minded members of the ton, Joanna embarks on a far more dangerous pursuit to raise some money — she becomes a smuggler.

Her path crosses with the dashing French, Comte de Saintonge. What she doesn't realise is that the Comte is also the captain of one of the smuggling ships that she trades with.

The Comte de Saintonge, appears to be fearless, but that is not so. He fears to fall in love again. Can Lady Joanna help him conquer this fear?

Oh, what is not to like about this book? Set in the year 1784, Regan Walker transports her readers back to pre-revolution France in this most wonderful tale of love, honour and smuggling!

Echo in the Wind grabbed me from the very first page and did not let go of me until I had finished. I was swept away by Ms Walker's descriptive prose. The attention to historical detail in this book is outstanding. Ms Walker has brought this era to life. Kudos, Ms Walker.

I adored the characterisation of both Lady Joanne and Donet. They were both superbly well drawn and believable. As was their love story.

I really can't praise this book enough. A sublime read.

I Highly Recommend.

* I received a copy of this book from the Publishers, via Netgalley for review consideration. *

Links for Purchase

About the author

Regan Walker is an award-winning, #1 Amazon bestselling author of Regency, Georgian and Medieval romances. She writes historically authentic novels with real historical figures along with her fictional characters. She wants her readers to experience history, adventure and love. She has six times been featured on USA TODAY's HEA blog and her novels have won numerous awards.

You can sign up for her newsletter on her website and get the "Readers Extras" there, too. Regan loves to hear from her readers.

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