Friday 30 April 2021

Nancy Northcott is talking about the inspiration behind her #NewRelease - The Steel Rose (Book 2 of The Boar King's Honor Trilogy) #timetravel #HistoricalFantasy @NancyNorthcott


By Nancy Northcott

A wizard’s misplaced trust

A king wrongly blamed for murder

A bloodline cursed until they clear the king’s name


Publication Date: April 29, 2021
Publisher: Falstaff Books
Page Length: 370 Pages
Genre: Historical Fantasy/Romantic Fantasy

Amelia Mainwaring, a magically Gifted seer, is desperate to rescue the souls of her dead father and brother, who are trapped in a shadowy, wraith-filled land between life and death as the latest victims of their family curse. Lifting the curse requires clearing the name of King Richard III, who was wrongly accused of his nephews’ murder because of a mistake made by Amelia’s ancestor.

In London to seek help from a wizard scholar, Julian Winfield, Amelia has disturbing visions that warn of Napoleon Bonaparte’s escape from Elba and renewed war in Europe. A magical artifact fuels growing French support for Bonaparte. Can Amelia and Julian recover the artifact and deprive him of its power in time to avert the coming battles? 

Their quest takes them from the crowded ballrooms of the London Season to the bloody field of Waterloo, demanding all of their courage, guile, and magical skill.  Can they recover the artifact and stop Bonaparte? Or will all their hopes, along with Amanda’s father and brother, be doomed as a battle-weary Europe is once again engulfed in the flames of war?

The Steel Rose is the second book in the time-traveling, history-spanning fantasy series The Boar King’s Honor, from Nancy Northcott (Outcast Station, The Herald of Day).

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My Road to Waterloo

by Nancy Northcott

Readers frequently ask authors, “Where do you get your ideas?” There are many answers to that question. Some authors cite books, newspapers, playing what if, or a combination of those. Another common answer is that in a series, the first book sets the parameters for those that follow. That’s how I came to write The Steel Rose and wound up doing a deep dive into the famous Battle of Waterloo.

The Steel Rose is the second book in a trilogy, so that dictated some story elements. The trilogy follows the efforts of a wizard family, the Mainwarings, to lift a blood curse. When they die, the Mainwaring heirs’ souls are trapped in a wraith-ridden shadowland. This is because their ancestor Edmund unwittingly helped murder Edward IV’s sons, who’re known as the Princes in the Tower. Edmund magically helped agents of his liege lord sneak into and out of the Tower of London unseen. He had no idea they would murder the boys, who’d been installed in the Tower’s royal apartments by their uncle, King Richard III, for their safety.

When Edmund realized he’d abetted murder, he flung himself on the king’s mercy. Because of the political situation, King Richard told him to keep quiet until the king gave him leave to speak. Unfortunately, Richard III died at Bosworth Field before that happened. Revealing the truth under the Tudors, who blamed King Richard for the boys’ deaths and anything else they could, would’ve been disastrous. Edmund would’ve been killed as a traitor, and his confession suppressed. Tormented by guilt, he cursed the heirs of his line to not rest in life or death until the family cleared the king’s name. 

The first book in the trilogy, The Herald of Day, sent the hero and the heroine on a quest for a monastic chronicle that contained previously lost information justifying Richard III’s claim to the throne. They also had to battle a wizard who’d changed history to create a dictatorship of the mageborn, who’re known as Gifted.

In The Steel Rose, a new generation must deal with the family curse but in a different way. I’ve been a Ricardian (one who thinks Richard III was not nearly as bad as Shakespeare painted him, for those unfamiliar with that term) for most of my adult life, so I had a pretty good idea of the path I wanted to take regarding the curse. I don’t want to spoil it by saying too much, but I will say the Mainwarings hope the affidavit of a spurned would-be queen will provide the proof they need.

With that, I had the seeds of the plotline dealing with the blood curse. I still needed the larger plot that would drive the book.

Changing England’s history in The Herald of Day led to cataclysmic upheaval and thus involved high stakes. To follow up, I needed equally important stakes for The Steel Rose—something that involved a widespread threat with a lot on the line. Changing history again would’ve been repetitive, and I didn’t want to write a trilogy with that in each book anyway. I’ve read quite a few Regency romances and am drawn to those that feature the Battle of Waterloo or its aftermath. That battle, the greatest of its age, would supply the high stakes I needed.

The more I read about Waterloo, the more fascinated with it I became. As you may know, there have been more than enough books written about it to fill a library, even with double (and possibly triple) shelving. Writers talk about research taking them “down the rabbit hole,” and I definitely went there with Waterloo. I read everything I could get my hands on. In the end, only small bits landed on the page. The Steel Rose focuses more on the run-up to the battle than on the battle itself. But I needed to see the big picture to decide which parts I should include. The Prussians’ role, for example, struck me as critical and inspired an important event in the story.

There’s some disagreement as to what happened in the final moments of the battle, as Napoleon’s elite Imperial Guard charged the British and Allied line. I chose the sequence of events that worked best for my story. I’m happy with the result, and I hope readers will be too. Meanwhile, I’m hooked on the period. I’ll continue to read about this sprawling, important conflict from time to time. You never know when a story idea will pop up.

This is from Chapter 1, which is set at a ball in London on February 26, 1815. Stymied in her quest for information that will help lift the family curse, the heroine, Amelia Mainwaring, resolves to enjoy the rest of the evening. But a seer never knows when her Gift will change her plans.

Amelia sighed. She had done what she could this evening. She should put her disappointment aside for now and enjoy herself. Sophie and her family were always good company, and Amelia could begin a new round of inquiries tomorrow. One never knew who might have a clue to the truth or information about other ways to lift family curses.

“Let’s walk again,” Sophie said.

The two women moved along. Amelia watched the dancing, smiling couples. They seemed to enjoy themselves, and why not? She and Crispin, her tall, dark-haired husband, had enjoyed flirting with each other from the moment they met until a few days before his death. 

They’d shared everything about themselves, including her closeness to the family ghosts. She would’ve bet her pin money few of the dancers, if any, believed in ghosts.

Yet ghosts had been Amelia’s main teachers in the use of her Gifts. Her mother opposed the use of magic, allowing training for Adam, Amelia’s twin, only because he was the heir. Fortunately, Adam had shared what he’d learned, and their ghostly great-great-grandparents had offered further aid. Grandmother Miranda had taught her summoning and guided her in using her Gifts since she was small. 

“Sophie, do you—”

The ballroom winked out of being. In its stead, faint, fuzzy images drifted over shadowy ground. Gradually they resolved into men in blue or red or green uniforms fighting on foot or horseback. She knew those uniforms, worn by Napoleon Bonaparte’s armies and the Allies who opposed him. 

A red-jacketed cavalryman charged at her, his sword high. Shrieking, she tried to dodge, only to have him ride through her in a rush of icy cold that made her shiver.

Out, she thought. I need out of this vision. Out.

She tried to put power behind the words, as her ghostly tutors had instructed, but nothing changed. Another rider charged. She scrambled out of his path—and through a red-coated infantryman’s musket barrel. Gasping with cold and terror, she dived under a slashing blade to cower against a waist-high outcropping of rock.

The soldiers fired at each other through air already thick with gunpowder smoke. The din rang in her ears. Smoke and the acrid stench of blood stung her nostrils, and she coughed.


As suddenly as it had begun, the vision ended. She was back in the ballroom with Sophie peering at her anxiously. The scents of beeswax and perfumes supplanted those of gunpowder and blood. The musicians still played the same quadrille.

Yet her heart pounded, and her head felt light. Shivering, she clutched her shawl. Her seer Gift had never manifested so strongly on its own. Why now?

“Did I do or say anything odd?” she asked Sophie.

“No, but you looked dazed. What is it?”

“Not here. Let’s find a private place.” 

The library or some other unoccupied room would have a fire. Amelia could use the flames to scry, to see if she could develop what she’d Seen.

Nancy Northcott’s childhood ambition was to grow up and become Wonder Woman.  Around fourth grade, she realized it was too late to acquire Amazon genes, but she still loved comic books, science fiction, fantasy, history, and romance.

She has written freelance articles and taught at the college level.  Her most popular course was on science fiction, fantasy, and society. She has also given presentations on the Wars of the Roses and Richard III to university classes studying Shakespeare’s Richard III. Reviewers have described her books as melding fantasy, romance, and suspense. Library Journal gave her debut novel, Renegade, a starred review, calling it “genre fiction at its best.”

In addition to the historical fantasy Boar King’s Honor trilogy, Nancy writes the Light Mage Wars paranormal romances, the Arachnid Files romantic suspense novellas, and the Lethal Webs romantic spy adventures. With Jeanne Adams, she co-writes the Outcast Station science fiction mysteries.

Married since 1987, Nancy and her husband have one son, a bossy dog, and a house full of books.

Social Media Links: WebsiteFacebookTwitterBookBubAmazon Author PageGoodreads

Thursday 29 April 2021

Welcome to Day 7 of the blog tour for Embers by Josephine Greenland #Excerpt #YoungAdult #BlogTour @greenland_jm

By Josephine Greenland

March 18th - May 20th 2021

Publication Date: 4th March 2021
Publisher: Unbound
Page Length: 336 Pages
Genre: Young Adult / Crime / Mystery

Two siblings, one crime. One long-buried secret. 
17-year-old Ellen never wanted a holiday. What is there to do in a mining town in the northernmost corner of the country, with no one but her brother Simon – a boy with Asperger’s and obsessed with detective stories – for company? 
Nothing, until they stumble upon a horrifying crime scene that brings them into a generations-long conflict between the townspeople and the native Sami. When the police dismiss Simon’s findings, he decides to track down the perpetrator himself. Ellen reluctantly helps, drawn in by a link between the crime and the siblings’ own past. What started off as a tedious holiday soon escalates into a dangerous journey through hatred, lies and self-discovery that makes Ellen question not only the relationship to her parents, but also her own identity.

Follow the tour HERE!

Wednesday 28 April 2021

Welcome to Day 7 of the blog tour for A Matter of Conscience: Henry VIII, The Aragon Years by Judith Arnopp #HistoricalFiction #BlogTour #CoffeePotBookClub @JudithArnopp


17th March – 19th May 2021

Publication Date: February 2021

Publisher: Feed a Read

Page Length: 335 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

‘A king must have sons: strong, healthy sons to rule after him.’

On the unexpected death of Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales, his brother, Henry, becomes heir to the throne of England. The intensive education that follows offers Henry a model for future excellence; a model that he is doomed to fail.

On his accession, he chooses his brother’s widow, Catalina of Aragon, to be his queen. Together they plan to reinstate the glory of days of old and fill the royal nursery with boys. 

But when their first-born son dies at just a few months old, and subsequent babies are born dead or perish in the womb, the king’s golden dreams are tarnished.

Christendom mocks the virile prince. Catalina’s fertile years are ending yet all he has is one useless living daughter, and a baseborn son.

He needs a solution but stubborn to the end, Catalina refuses to step aside.

As their relationship founders, his eye is caught by a woman newly arrived from the French court. Her name is Anne Boleyn.

A Matter of Conscience: the Aragon Years offers a unique first-person account of the ‘monster’ we love to hate and reveals a man on the edge; an amiable man made dangerous by his own impossible expectation.

Follow the tour:

Click Here!

Tour Schedule

Welcome to Day 10 of the #audio blog tour for State of Treason (Book 1, William Constable Spy Thrillers) By Paul Walker, Narrated by Edward Gist #HistoricalFiction @PWalkerauthor


February 24th - April 28th 2021
Publication Date: February 2021

Publisher: Audible Studios

Page Length: 317 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction
Amazon Audio

London, 1578

William Constable is a scholar of mathematics, astrology and practices as a physician. He receives an unexpected summons to the Queen’s spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham in the middle of the night. He fears for his life when he spies the tortured body of an old friend in the palace precincts.

His meeting with Walsingham takes an unexpected turn when he is charged to assist a renowned Puritan, John Foxe, in uncovering the secrets of a mysterious cabinet containing an astrological chart and coded message. Together, these claim Elizabeth has a hidden, illegitimate child (an “unknowing maid”) who will be declared to the masses and serve as the focus for an invasion.

Constable is swept up in the chase to uncover the identity of the plotters, unaware that he is also under suspicion. He schemes to gain the confidence of the adventurer John Hawkins and a rich merchant. Pressured into taking a role as court physician to pick up unguarded comments from nobles and others, he has become a reluctant intelligencer for Walsingham.

Do the stars and cipher speak true, or is there some other malign intent in the complex web of scheming?

Constable must race to unravel the threads of political manoeuvring for power before a new-found love and perhaps his own life are forfeit.

I can't believe we are on the last day of the tour. 
We are stopping over on two fabulous blogs today.

Our first stop is over on Brook's Journal.

Click Here.

And our final stop is over on Anna Belfrage - Stolen Moments.

Click Here.

A huge thank you to all the hosts who made the tour so very sucessful.

Tour Schedule

#BookReview — Quetzalcoatl: Time Stones Book II by Ian Hunter #YoungAdult #TimeTravel @IanHunterAuthor

Quetzalcoatl: Time Stones Book II

By Ian Hunter

Publication Date: 21st April 2021
Publisher:  MVB Marketing- und Verlagsservice des Buchhandels GmbH
Page Length 295 Pages
Genre: Young Adult / Historical Fantasy / Time-Travel

Since finding her mother’s Time Stone, Jessie Mason’s life has been one challenge after another. Together with her fellow travellers, Tip, Kes and Abe, she is beginning to understand the incredible powers that the stones bestow on them. However, escape from the woodlands of 18th Century New York extracted a heavy price, for they left behind their aged mentor, Grandfather. Now Jessie must lead her friends in the hopeless task Grandfather set them: hunt down and destroy the Time Stones. As her consciousness awakes in the timeless void, she knows her leadership has already failed. Tip has severed the link which bound them together, Abe has disappeared, and she and Kes have arrived at some unplanned place and time.

Jessie quickly learns their destination is the centre of an empire; one in turmoil as it struggles to comprehend a changing world. With an act of self-preservation, she and Kes are unexpectedly thrust into the heart of a fractured Mexica nobility, desperate to halt the advancing Spanish conquistadors. Trapped and awaiting the inevitable clash of cultures, Jessie is immersed in a way of life, fascinating and disturbing in equal measure, that she knows will be brutally extinguished.

Abe’s sudden appearance places the friends on opposing sides, as Tenochtitlan, the fabulous capital of the Mexica, descends into savage violence. But Abe brings startling news, the man pursuing them through time, the man responsible for their predicament, is close at hand. They just have to find him, and his stone, in the chaos of battle.

With world history changing direction around them, Jessie and her friends are forced to decide which is more important: stone or escape. Finally, they discover only one course of action remains, they must fight to survive.

Too late, he understood the stone’s curse. It lay not in the stone, but in those who possessed it.

Jessie, Kes, Tiponi and Abe knew all about the power of the stones. They knew that they were both a blessing, and a curse.

Thrown together from very different eras, these four unlikely friends must complete the task that their mentor had set them. They must hunt down and destroy the Time Stones. But that was a task easier said than done…

The end of Quillan Creek and the Little War (Time Stones, Book 1) seemed so final that I was left wondering how Ian Hunter would approach Book 2. The dramatic ending of Book 1 hinted that all the protagonists had died but, of course, with the sacred stones that allow time travel, it made sense that they would escape death. Quetzalcoatl (Time Stones Book II) carries on the story of Jessie, Kes, Tiponi, and Abe. These four brave young adults must first survive this strange world that they have been thrown into, but they must also find each other, because only when united can they figure out why their stones took them to this place.

Having thoroughly enjoyed Book 1, it was with eager anticipation that I waited for Book II. Initially, I was slightly thrown by the beginning of this novel, for it opens in the home of a merchant who has in his possession a cursed stone - it must never be touched. He seemingly has no understanding of what the stone is and what it can do. But he keeps it carefully locked away and thinks of his son, who has travelled to the new world, seeking adventure and wealth. The importance of this merchant and his son only becomes clear at the very end of this novel. Indeed, there are many threads to this story, all woven intricately together to create a vast tapestry of myths, legends, history and magic.

The historical events that the friends witness is depicted with a tremendous amount of skill and knowledge. In this novel, the author asks his readers to question what a civilised world looks like. The Aztecs are seemingly barbaric with their human sacrifices and religion, but did that make them uncivilised? They had a very defined social structure, and I thought Hunter did a tremendous job in capturing the very essence of these people during this turbulent era. The Cortés’ siege of Tenochtitlan is depicted with a brutal reality that is almost tangible. Hunter has brought this era majestically back to life. It is a finely detailed reality with a very convincing visual presence. Like our four intrepid heroes, I too felt like I had fallen through time.

Friendship is a theme that runs throughout the length of this novel. There is a strong sense of camaraderie that is dependent upon mutual support, both emotionally and physically. This especially applies to Jessie and Kes, who are connected in a way that the others are not. However, this connection comes with its own set of challenges, because there is a simmering romantic attraction between the two, which in turn leads to irrational feelings of jealousy. This unexpected jealousy brings a new dynamic to the friendship group. Hunter certainly has a great understanding of human fallibility and because of this all of his characters are believable.

There is nothing about the four protagonists of this novel - Jessie, Tip, Kes and Abe - that screams heroism, and yet, through no choice of their own, they become the heroes of the day. Their everyday fight to stay alive is eclipsed only by the knowledge that the stones have taken them to this era for a specific reason. The horrors that each of them have witnessed could have destroyed their fragile mental health, but together they are a strong team that can weather the storms.

Jessie was one of my favourite characters in Book 1 and she continued to be so in Book 2. Jessie is a young woman who is constantly out of her depth. Because of the magic of her stones, she can understand what everyone is saying and, although initially the Aztecs look at her with contempt, they soon change their mind when Jessie is forced into a situation where she has to use her stones magic to stop someone she loves from being sacrificed. This immediately changes the Aztecs’ opinion of her. Some think she is a messenger from the God, Quetzalcoatl. While others think she is Quetzalcoatl. Either way, she is at the mercy and generosity of the Aztecs until it is safe for her to search for Tiponi and Abe. She also has to wrestle with the question as to why the stones had brought them here. I thought Jessie’s depiction was sublime. She has been torn, as all the heroes in this story have, from her own time and finds herself in a very foreign world, but her courage and her unwavering sense of loyalty makes her a protagonist that a reader can get behind and root for.

Another character that I simply adored was Kes. Kes sufferers horrendously at the hand of the Aztecs, and if it were not for Jessie and his stone, he would be dead. Kes, like Jessie, takes his responsibilities seriously, and he also tries to see the bigger picture. I thought Kes’ depiction was fabulous.

Unlike Book 1, Tiponi and Abe are very much secondary characters, as the author concentrates on Jessie and Kes’ journey. I liked the fact that Hunter decided to focus on these two, as it is their experience, their understanding, and their relationship that I had become invested in. Hunter certainly seems to know what his audience wants!

Quetzalcoatl (Time Stones Book II) by Ian Hunter is a tautly gripping novel that is written with a sensitivity to the era it depicts, but it is also a story packed with adventure and magic. Hunter’s vivacious storytelling made this novel impossible to put down. It is a story that has been penned with an impressive sweep and brilliance.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Ian Hunter

Books have been an important part of my life as long as I can remember, and at 54 years old, that’s a lot of books. My earliest memories of reading are CS Lewis’, “The Horse and His Boy” – by far the best of the Narnia books, the Adventures series by Willard Price, and “Goalkeepers are Different” by sports journalist Brian Glanville. An eclectic mix. My first English teacher was surprised to hear that I was reading, Le Carré, Ken Follett, Nevil Shute and “All the Presidents’ Men” by Woodward and Bernstein at the age of 12. I was simply picking up the books my father had finished.

School syllabus threw up the usual suspects – Shakespeare, Chaucer, Dickens, Hardy, “To Kill a Mockingbird” – which I have reread often, and others I don’t immediately recall. By “A” level study, my then English teachers were pulling their hair out at my “perverse waste of talent” – I still have the report card! But I did manage a pass.

During a 35 year career, briefly in Banking and then in IT, I managed to find time, with unfailing family support, to study another lifelong passion, graduating with an Open University Bachelors’ degree in History in 2002. This fascination with all things historical inspired me to begin the Time Stones series. There is so much to our human past, and so many differing views on what is the greatest, and often the saddest, most tragic story. I decided I wanted to write about it; to shine a small light on those, sometimes pivotal stories, which are less frequently mentioned.

In 1995, my wife, Michelle, and I moved from England to southern Germany, where we still live, with our two children, one cat, and, when she pays us a visit, one chocolate labrador. I have been fortunate that I could satisfy another wish, to travel as widely as possible and see as much of our world as I can. Destinations usually include places of historic and archaeological interest, mixed with a large helping of sun, sea and sand for my wife’s peace of mind.


Connect with Ian:

Website • Twitter • Goodreads.