Friday 30 July 2021

Blog Tour: Bloody Dominions (The Conquest Trilogy, Book 1) by Nick Macklin @NMacklinAuthor

 Join The Coffee Pot Book Club on tour with…

Bloody Dominions
(The Conquest Trilogy, Book 1)
By Nick Macklin

September 20th – October 1st 2021

Publication Date: 28th June 2021
Publisher: Troubador Publishing
Page Length: 368 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Journey with those at the heart of the conflict as Caesar embarks on the tumultuous conquest of Gaul 58-51 BC. Book One 58-56 BC.

As Caesar’s campaign begins, tests of courage and belief will confront the three protagonists, shaping them as individuals and challenging their views of the world and each other:

Atticus – an impetuous but naturally gifted soldier, whose grandfather served with distinction in the legions;

Allerix – a Chieftain of the Aduatuci, who finds himself fighting both for and against Caesar; and

Epona – a fierce warrior and Allerixs’ adopted sister.

Experiencing the brutalities of conflict and the repercussions of both victory and defeat, Atticus, Allerix and Epona will cross paths repeatedly, their destinies bound together across time, the vast and hostile territories of Gaul and the barriers of fate that have defined them as enemies. In a twist of fate, Atticus and Allerix discover that they share a bond, a secret that nobody could ever foresee…

Nick Macklin

A history graduate, Nick enjoyed developing the skills that would stand him in good stead during the extensive research he conducted prior to writing his novel. Whilst the ancient world unfortunately didn’t feature to any extent in his history degree, (the result of failing miserably to secure the A level grades that would have permitted greater choice) he maintained a lifelong and profound interest in ancient history and especially the Roman Empire, continuing to read avidly as he embarked on a career in HR. Over the next 30 years or so Nick occupied a variety of Senior/Director roles, most recently in the NHS. Unsurprisingly, writing in these roles was largely confined to the prosaic demands of Board papers but Nick never lost the long-harboured belief, motivated by the works of writers such as Robert Fabbri, Robyn Young, Anthony Riches, Simon Scarrow, Matthew Harffy and Giles Kristian, that he too had a story to tell. When he was presented with a window of opportunity c3 years ago he took the decision to place his career on hold and see if he could convert that belief into reality. 

Nick always knew that he wanted to set the novel against the backdrop of a significant event/period in Roman history. Looking to narrow that down to something offering the potential for meaningful character and plot development, but that hadn’t already received exhaustive coverage, he settled on Caesars tumultuous occupation of Gaul. Spanning 8 years, the prolonged clash of cultures offered ample opportunity for the kind of dual perspective from which he was hoping to tell the story, whilst the violent conflict provided a wealth of exciting material to explore the changing fortunes of war and its impact at a personal level. The switching of allegiances, nations fighting for and against Rome also provided the potential for some intriguing plot lines. As his research unfolded, he was also struck by just how heavily the Roman psyche during this period was influenced by the scare they had received 50 years earlier when Germanic tribes invaded their territories and defeated their legions. Seeing references to the veterans of that war watching their sons and grandsons enlist for a similar campaign, he started to think about developing that link on both sides of the conflict. And so, the idea for the Conquest Trilogy was born.

In Bloody Dominions Nick has sought to produce a novel in which unfolding events are experienced and described from the perspective of protagonists on both sides of Caesar’s incursion into Gaul. Conscious that the role of women in Roman fiction, Boudica aside, is largely confined to spouse, prostitute or slave, Nick wanted to ensure that one of his lead characters was female and a prominent member of the warrior clan of her tribe. The novel is driven by these characters but the framework against which their stories unfold is historically accurate, featuring actual participants in Caesar’s campaign and drawing on real events as they occurred. As such Nick is genuinely excited about his characters and the story they have to tell.

Nick lives in Exeter with his two daughters and is currently juggling work as an Independent HR Consultant with writing the second novel in the Conquest Trilogy, Battle Scars. 

Read an excerpt from Kathy L Wheeler's fabulous book - The Earl's Error @kathylwheeler

The Earl's Error
(Rebel Lords of London, Book 2)
By Kathy L Wheeler 

Publication Date: April 6, 2021
Publisher: Chisel Imprint
Page Length: 322 Pages
Genre: Historical Romantic Suspense

Lorelei Grey, the countess of Kimpton, can't trust her husband. Not only did he exile her brother from England without a word to her, but, she's since learned he fathered his ex-mistress's unborn child. She had only one stipulation for their treat her with respect. 

 Thorne Grey, the Earl of Kimpton, wants his wife, craves his wife. When she threatens to leave, he panics and offers to pay her to stay with him. He's bought himself two weeks and prays it's enough time to find her missing brother and prove he's not the scoundrel she believes. 

 Neither is able to ignore the explosive passion between them, but in their search for her brother, they encounter a threat that could not only destroy their relationship, but their very lives.

She stilled. “You sent my brother away. He’s an artist, not a f-fighter. He could be killed.” The softness of her voice pierced him with the sharpness of a blade. She held her head high, one slipper-shod foot four steps from the top. She shook her head, hard enough that one of the pins slipped and let loose a rogue curl. “And now, another woman?” She broke off on a choked cry, darting up the remaining stairs. 

Sent her brother away? “Darling, wait.”

“I shan’t forgive you for that. Ever.”

“Dammit, Lorelei. Don’t. Don’t run from me.” He took the stairs two at a time. Reached the top as she turned down the hall of the wing where their chambers nestled side by side. He should never have allowed her a separate room. At the end of hall, her hand twisted the knob on her door. “I’ll pay you,” he blurted. She stopped but didn’t turn. “One thousand pounds if... if you can manage a fortnight. Just until—” Until what?

The tightness in his gut registered as fear. Fear he’d never gain ground. But he had the advantage. Lorelei had nothing. She’d had no dowry. He didn’t need or want one. She’d be destitute without him. He’d saved her useless brother from debtor’s prison. But now, her brother had stooped to a new low. Abandoning not only his sister, but a child as well. So what if the mother was one of the most sought-after courtesans in London? Lorelei would never care about such a detail, though most of the beau monde would turn her away if they knew she felt that way. 

Blast. The short, cruel thing would be to enlighten her. Take her by the shoulders and shake her until she heard the truth. Make her realize that he hadn’t put her brother on board a ship, show her that her precious Brandon was acting as an irresponsible cad, running from his responsibilities of a mistake—a mistake most men of their standing took pains to buy their way out of. Hell, the man was more a noose around one’s neck. Had been since Thorne and Lorelei’s wedding.

Lorelei’s body stiffened, and he swallowed the words. Thorne could never hurt her so callously. She turned, pierced him with flinty blue eyes. The world revolved to a stop, and perspiration gathered at the nape of his neck. He inhaled through his nose, letting out a slow stream through pursed lips.

“Per week,” she said. His wife’s tone, usually warm and full of husky mischief, radiated cold gray steel.


“A thousand pounds. Per week. For two weeks I shall stay. And I want half now.” Her crystallized pitch would have made Medusa proud. Curiosity driving him, Thorne looked her in the eye, certain he would turn to stone, while bitter irony held him in a firm grip.

Two weeks. Could he find that no-good brother of hers in that amount of time? Force him to acknowledge his responsibility? Thorne had his doubts, but he would accept her offer. Give her half now, and pray it was enough to keep her from leaving before he located Harlowe. 

But he had his pride as well. In a tone that matched her cold glare, he said, “Done.” He stepped back, enough out of reach to keep from grabbing her, with the scent of her hair annihilating what was left of any remaining sense, good or bad. He tipped his head, unable to stem the sarcasm. “Perhaps you’ll excuse me, my lady, I’ve urgent business to attend.” He stalked down the stairs to his study and shut the door with a solid click. Someday he might learn to hold his tongue. Not speak until spoken to—a quality his father had tried beating into him until the day the old bastard dropped dead of an apoplexy when Thorne was but ten and three. 

He tossed the note he still clenched on his desk, furious with his reaction—no, overreaction—and moved behind the desk. He peered up at his father’s portrait with disgust. The pompous ass. It showed in the set of his shoulders, his grim facade. He made a silent vow to remove it to the attic. Or perhaps make Harlowe paint over it as retribution.

Thorne reached up and ran his fingers along the gilded edge of the frame, just inside one corner, and pressed the minute mechanism. The large painting parted slightly from the wall without a sound. He slipped a key from his watch fob pocket and fit it into his pride and joy—one of the first burglar-resisting safes created by Charles Chubb. Granted, it was a test model, but it worked magnificently. Talk about an exquisite piece of art. 

Thorne counted out several hundred guineas, locked the safe, and restored the painting to its rightful position.

Of all the asinine things he could have thought of to entice his charming and beautiful wife into remaining by his side, he had to offer money. It was the panic, of course. Money she would likely use, inevitably leading him to the same fate she’d threatened. Losing her. 

Well, he’d bought himself a fortnight to locate Harlowe and hopefully convince Lorelei to stay. He jerked out the bottom drawer of his desk and grabbed a sheet of paper. He scribbled off a quick note and rang for Oswald.

Minutes later, snatching up his top hat, he jammed it on his head. There was some satisfaction in slamming the door behind him. Only fifty feet from the stables, the heavens parted, dumping a waterfall of ice-cold tears that soaked through every layer he wore. 

The perfect ending to the perfect day, eh? There was nothing now but to follow through on this idiotic voyage he’d forged for himself. For if his wife found out about the babe ...

Find this novel on your favourite online bookstore - HERE! 

Also available at Barnes & Noble and iTunes 

Kathy L Wheeler graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a BA in Management Information Systems and Vocal Music minor.

Kathy loves the NFL, NBA, musical theatre, reading, writing and karaoke. She belongs to RWA’s Greater Seattle and Contemporary Romance Writers chapters, and the Regency Fiction Writers.

She lives with her musically talented husband in the Pacific Northwest, a recent migrant from Oklahoma. She has one grown daughter (who has two adorable boys), and a neurotic dog, Angel!

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Tuesday 27 July 2021

Blog Tour: Empire’s Heir (Empire’s Legacy, Book VI) by Marian L Thorpe @marianlthorpe

Join The Coffee Pot Book Club on tour with…

Empire’s Heir
(Empire’s Legacy, Book VI)
By Marian L Thorpe

September 23rd – November 25th 2021

Publication Date: 30th August 2021
Publisher: Arboretum Press
Page Length: 438 Pages
Genre: Historical Fantasy

Some games are played for mortal stakes.

Gwenna, heir to Ésparias, is summoned by the Empress of Casil to compete for the hand of her son. Offered power and influence far beyond what her own small land can give her, Gwenna’s strategy seems clear – except she loves someone else.

Nineteen years earlier, the Empress outplayed Cillian in diplomacy and intrigue. Alone, his only living daughter has little chance to counter the Empress's experience and skill. Aging and torn by grief and worry, Cillian insists on accompanying Gwenna to Casil.

Risking a charge of treason, faced with a choice he does not want to make, Cillian must convince Gwenna her future is more important than his – while Gwenna plans her moves to keep her father safe. Both are playing a dangerous game. Which one will concede – or sacrifice?

Marian L Thorpe

Essays, poetry, short stories, peer-reviewed scientific papers, curriculum documents, technical guides, grant applications, press releases – if it has words, it’s likely Marian L Thorpe has written it, somewhere along the line. But nothing has given her more satisfaction than her novels. Combining her love of landscape and history, set in a world reminiscent of Europe after the decline of Rome, her books arise from a lifetime of reading and walking and wondering ‘what if?’ Pre-pandemic, Marian divided her time between Canada and the UK, and hopes she may again, but until then, she resides in a small, very bookish, city in Canada, with her husband Brian and Pye-Cat.

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Monday 26 July 2021

#BookReview - A Wider World (The Tudor Court, Book 2) by Karen Heenan @karen_heenan

A Wider World 
(The Tudor Court, Book 2)
By Karen Heenan

Publication Date: 25th April 2021
Publisher: Authors 4 Authors Publishing Cooperative
Page Length: 349 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Memories are all he has…

Now they could save his life.

Returning to England after almost five years in exile, Robin Lewis is arrested and charged with heresy by the dying Queen Mary. As he is escorted to the Tower of London, Robin spins a tale for his captor, revisiting his life under three Tudor monarchs and wondering how he will be judged—not just by the queen, but by the God he stopped serving long ago.

When every moment counts, will his stories last long enough for him to be saved by Mary's heir, the young Queen Elizabeth?

Robin Lewis has lived a fascinating life. But is it fascinating enough to save that life?

Never knowing his real parents, and having escaped an abusive childhood into the safety and security of the church, Robin Lewis has risen through the ranks of the Tudor court, ending up as one of Cromwell’s men. A meteoric rise indeed for a man of such lowly status, and one which didn’t come about without making some potentially dangerous enemies for his future. 

It is a rare thing indeed when a book has you torn between racing through its pages, and really not wanting to get to the final chapter for fear of what might happen there. But that’s what happened to me here. I’ll confess, I could very easily have looked up some key dates to see where we were in the overall timeframe of Queen Mary’s reign, but what would have been the fun in that? Instead, this read in parts more like a thriller than a historical novel, with excellent pacing throughout. 

If we are being honest, the dissolution of the monasteries, and the politics of the Reformation, are not always the most interesting or explored element of Tudor history. After all, when you have all the swirling drama of Henry VIII’s court, why would you leave that? But that is exactly what Karen Heenan has done here, by instead following Robin. The main characters of the court are there, but mostly in the background, save for a few conversations with Cromwell, when Lewis is in his service, or the young Princess Elizabeth. But they are only there for a few pages, and then we are back to the main focus: Robin, and his travels, both home and abroad. And by keeping tight focus on Robin, with his own religious and personal struggles, we get a real sense of what was happening for the ordinary people during this tumultuous time. 

In the 1500s, following the ‘wrong’ religion didn’t just brand you an outsider; you were a heretic, and potentially heading for the most terrible punishment of being burned alive. Robin is, as we all would be, keen to avoid this, and knows that if he can just delay his journey to the Tower of London, fate may just be kind, bringing about another change in monarch just in time to save his life, with Robin being the same religion as the soon-to-be Queen Elizabeth. But is there time? 

He has a past connection with the father of the man sent to bring him to London, William Hawkins, and he decides to tell the young man the story of his life, from a terrible childhood, through his student days, and his roles at court, both as a choir-boy and then in the households of Wolsey and Cromwell. Robin has had quite the adventure… 

As he tells his tale to his captor, we are transported too, from Yorkshire, to London, overseas through Europe, and finally back to England, meeting the people who helped transform Robin’s life over the years, from the monk who cared for him in Italy, to his loyal servant Seb, and the beautiful Bianca, who allows the young Robin into her home in Chelsea, and access to her and her brother’s vast library. Each of them, along with the monks who helped raise him, shaped Robin and his view on the world, and when we’re given the chance to meet some of them again later in the book, it’s interesting to see how personal relationships have shifted with the great religious changes. Robin was brought up by the brothers, and was then part of their undoing: it’s a complicated reunion. 

The dual time-line structure, of sorts, never falls into the trap of having one element you want to rush through to get to the other. In Robin’s stories, there is such rich detail of an almost ‘ordinary’ life in the Tudor court, if there could be such a thing, and in the present, we see the frosty relationship between him and Will beginning to thaw, as the younger man sees that perhaps not everything is as black-and-white as he has been trained to believe. 

As the two time-lines converge, we reach the days before Robin is due to sail back to England, believing things to be safer, with Queen Mary not long for the world. Which of course, brings us to where the ‘present’ begins at the start of the book, as Will arrives to escort his prisoner to London. 

It’s no lie to say that I was absolutely hooked on this story throughout. There is sufficient detail to show that the author has done substantial research, including the books which these intelligent men and women would have on their shelves. A running theme throughout the book is Robin’s love for education, for learning, and for his books, and his joy at finding new libraries to visit is evident. All of this research never weighs the story down though, rather, it enriches it. 

There are some very ‘big’ themes explored in the book: religion, of course, but also race, the status of women, and romantic relationships. But these are dealt with in such a way that you hardly notice. It’s a wonderfully-written tale, and cleverly done, to deal with such heavy themes with a lightness of touch. 

In conclusion, if you are looking for a sumptuous Tudor tale, and in particular a different perspective, I would certainly recommend this. 

Review by Jennifer C. Wilson.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

As an only child, Karen Heenan learned early that boredom was the enemy. Shortly after she discovered perpetual motion, and has rarely been seen holding still since.

She lives in Lansdowne, PA, just outside Philadelphia, where she grows much of her own food and makes her own clothes. She is accompanied on her quest for self-sufficiency by a very patient husband and an ever-changing number of cats.

One constant: she is always writing her next book.

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Read an #Excerpt from M. C. Bunn's fabulous novel - Where Your Treasure Is @MCBunn3

Where Your Treasure Is
By M. C. Bunn

Publication Date: 23rd April 2021

Publisher: Bellastoria Press

Page Length: 454 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Victorian Romance

Feisty, independent heiress Winifred de la Coeur has never wanted to live according to someone else’s rules—but even she didn’t plan on falling in love with a bank robber.

Winifred is a wealthy, nontraditional beauty who bridles against the strict rules and conventions of Victorian London society. When she gets caught up in the chaos of a bungled bank robbery, she is thrust unwillingly into an encounter with Court Furor, a reluctant getaway driver and prizefighter. In the bitter cold of a bleak London winter, sparks fly.

Winifred and Court are two misfits in their own circumscribed worlds—the fashionable beau monde with its rigorously upheld rules, and the gritty demimonde, where survival often means life-or-death choices.

Despite their conflicting backgrounds, they fall desperately in love while acknowledging the impossibility of remaining together. Returning to their own worlds, they try to make peace with their lives until a moment of unrestrained honesty and defiance threatens to topple the deceptions that they have carefully constructed to protect each other.

A story of the overlapping entanglements of Victorian London’s social classes, the strength of family bonds and true friendship, and the power of love to heal a broken spirit.

Approaching the right turn that would take him to Swift Street and the Royal Empire Bank, Court Furor concentrated on traffic. Cold bit his cheeks and hunger gnawed his belly, but he ignored both through force of habit. The soles of his boots were thin and his gloves pointless. He hunched more deeply into his coat and wished he hadn’t tossed his last coppers to that flower girl. But when she had thrust her wilted violets at him and smiled—those black teeth of hers—Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! Of course, she could’ve stained them for effect. At her age, he’d already had quite a few similar tricks up his sleeve to elicit the pity of potential targets. Early on, he’d known how to get by. Only because of that girl’s need—or her guile—he was now officially without a penny to his name. What did that say for the wisdom of experience? 

No point worrying about what the day would bring, never mind the next one. At Beryl and Rosie’s flat he’d read in a pamphlet the doctor had left that the life expectancy of men from the East End was only—it wasn’t worth repeating. At twenty-four, he was living on borrowed time. No one had to tell him that. 

People down his way didn’t celebrate birthdays, mostly because there was nothing to celebrate, but he was doing all right for a boy born in the Old Nichol. That is, he’d opened his eyes another day. If he opened them tomorrow, he’d be twenty-five. He even had a job, sort of. Dear old Mum would’ve felt, not proud, exactly. She couldn’t feel much these days. Wound in a dirty sheet and dropped into a pauper’s grave. How old had she been? He’d no idea. But she’d known his birth date to the hour and the minute. Baptized and registered, he was! 

Look up lad, she used to say. “You have to look up to get up.” So far, the highest he’d managed was a carriage box. Screwed to the lowest rung in the social ladder, Court kept his eyes on the traffic and minded his horse. If he raised his sights too high, he might run over one of those boys who kept darting out into the street, begging coppers he didn’t have any more of. 

He was the last son of Mick and Sadie Furor. His four older brothers had given up in quick succession during their infancies. According to Beryl’s pamphlet, his miraculous survival beyond the cradle was another statistical anomaly, though no one had taken note but his dear old Mum. By the time he was delivered, Sadie was completely worn out. She’d lost her good looks and her patience with her heavy-handed, fast-talking, skirt-chasing mate. Mick Furor saw his new son as another gaping mouth to feed and acted accordingly. He eschewed all responsibility for Court’s upbringing except to provide him with a bad example and an early education in how to pick a pocket or take a blow. Meanwhile, Mick continued to populate the neighborhood with his dark-haired progeny, supplying Sadie with interminable heartache and Court with a half-sister, Beryl, among others. For all he knew, the rest of Mick’s children had suffered the fates listed in the pamphlet and died young of various fevers, neglect, or starvation. 

Then again, one never knew. One of the louts in the hackney, Geoff Ratchet, was from the old neighborhood and the same approximate age as Court. People said there was a resemblance. Court didn’t see it. The Methodist pastor who headed the school they’d briefly attended preached that all men were brothers. If that included Geoff, Court hoped the pastor was wrong. 

On the eve of his quarter century, Court felt it incumbent upon him to reflect. Since it would be ages before he’d be able to get some sleep, he might as well. His survival was both a mystery and a wonder. He was a man of no prospects and no property but preferred to think of it as freedom from responsibility. Both of his parents had survived much longer than Beryl’s pamphlet indicated was normal for folks of their ilk. Court supposed he might too but wouldn’t bet on it. Mick was stabbed in a brawl while Court was yet a boy. Sadie had recently succumbed to gin poisoning after a series of abusive liaisons. Her last paramours came from the list of Mick’s compatriots: cardsharps, pickpockets, and opium addicts. Court’s company was not much better. But he was inclined to gambling, horseflesh, and women.


He directed the horse to a slow walk, trying to secure a place in the queue for the curb. In the gleaming brougham beside him sat a woman, her face hidden under an enormous, bright green hat trimmed with black ostrich feathers. Her driver signaled, and Court tugged his reins. Her carriage cut in front of him, taking a spot held open by a waiting footman in the bank’s livery. Court philosophically picked the grime from his fingernails while another footman helped the woman descend and took her small case. Though a thick veil covered her face, Court caught a glimpse of golden hair, coiled in heavy masses on her shoulders. The wind lifted the edge of her mantle, and he was briefly amazed by the brilliant green of her dress. 

The chestnut seller and his cart caught up to the line of vehicles. The aroma was delicious. What he wouldn’t give to go to that chop house advertised on the other man’s boards. Court’s stomach ached. He felt a twinge of resentment toward the woman. She’d obviously never missed a meal in her life.

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M. C. Bunn grew up in a house full of books, history, and music. “Daddy was a master storyteller. The past was another world, but one that seemed familiar because of him. He read aloud at the table, classics or whatever historical subject interested him. His idea of bedtime stories were passages from Dickens, Twain, and Stevenson. Mama told me I could write whatever I wanted. She put a dictionary in my hands and let me use her typewriter, or watch I, Claudius and Shoulder to Shoulder when they first aired on Masterpiece Theatre. She was the realist. He was the romantic. They were a great team.”

Where Your Treasure Is, a novel set in late-Victorian London and Norfolk, came together after the sudden death of the author’s father. “I’d been teaching high school English for over a decade and had spent the summer cleaning my parents’ house and their offices. It was August, time for classes to begin. The characters emerged out of nowhere, sort of like they knew I needed them. They took over.” 

She had worked on a novella as part of her master’s degree in English years before but set it aside, along with many other stories. “I was also writing songs for the band I’m in and had done a libretto for a sacred piece. All of that was completely different from Where Your Treasure Is. Before her health declined, my mother heard Treasure’s first draft and encouraged me to return to prose. The novel is a nod to all the wonderful books my father read to us, the old movies we stayed up to watch, a thank you to my parents, especially Mama for reminding me that nothing is wasted. Dreams don’t have to die. Neither does love.”

When M. C. Bunn is not writing, she’s researching or reading. Her idea of a well-appointed room includes multiple bookshelves, a full pot of coffee, and a place to lie down with a big, old book. To further feed her soul, she and her husband take long walks with their dog, Emeril in North Carolina’s woods, or she makes music with friends. 

“I try to remember to look up at the sky and take some time each day to be thankful.” 

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