Thursday 29 February 2024

Will she pay for her husband's mistakes, or will she manage to escape from a terrible fate?

Treason in the Mortimer Household 
A Betrayed Wife
By Anne O'Brien

Why would I write about Joan de Geneville, the little known wife of the notorious Roger Mortimer, Earl of March?  Why did I consider her to be the perfect protagonist for a medieval historical novel, centring on the role of women?  Because Joan's  life was an emotional one, dominated by treason, imprisonment and betrayal,  Her reaction to her fate was impressively resilient. 

Joan de Geneville was an heiress, inheriting extensive lands in Ireland, in France, as well as in the Welsh Marches, including  the magnificent fortress of Ludlow Castle.  Without doubt she was a valuable bride for any family with foresight and ambition; the perfect wife for Roger Mortimer, son and heir of the Mortimer marcher lords.  The dispatch of her two younger sisters to a convent ensured that her claim to the de Geneville inheritance would never be challenged.

Heraldic image of the Mortimer-de Geneville marriage: Mortimer on the left, de Geneville on the right.

The Mortimer-de Geneville marriage at first offered much satisfaction and even happiness.  Joan travelled extensively with her husband, to Wales, to Ireland, and within the Welsh Marches, while Roger escaped death in skirmish and battle.  They had twelve children all of whom grew to healthy adulthood, while Roger rebuilt Wigmore Castle as a palace as well as a fortress.

Remains of Wigmore Castle, once the pre-eminent Mortimer stronghold in the Welsh Marches.  

What could go wrong, after such a fortunate beginning?

Threats against the lands of the marcher lords along the Welsh Marches by the royal favourite Hugh Despenser, supported by the King, drove the area into insurrection.  When raising the Mortimer banners against Despenser was interpreted as treason by King Edward II, Roger was arrested and dispatched to the Tower of London with execution hanging over his head, while Joan and the Mortimer offspring were subjected to rigid and penurious confinement, Joan in Skipton Castle.  Would this be a lifelong penance for Joan?

All was not lost.  Roger escaped from the Tower of London, Joan and the young Mortimers were released, and Roger returned from exile with an invading force, intent on reclaiming his lands and his titles.  A matter, it seemed, for rejoicing.  Except that Roger returned to England intent on revenge against the King, with Queen Isabella at is side, in a close relationship with her that roused much comment and rumour.

How humiliating for the Mortimer wife, when she must welcome the Queen as her guest in Ludlow Castle.

Ludlow Castle: Roger and Joan would have known and lived in this main block of chambers.

For appearances' sake Joan had little choice but to work in tandem with her errant husband, to accomplish the prestigious marriages of their daughters.  Did she enjoy the experience, sharing her castles and her authority with the Queen at her husband's side? Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned! Even with the accession of a youthful King Edward III there was no suggestion of a change in this situation.  The reins of power were firmly held by Roger and Isabella.

But as King Edward grew into maturity, fired with a desire to recover what was his by right of inheritance, his first priority would be to take back those reins of  power into his own hands. All eyes turned to the Court and the inevitable Mortimer downfall.

What a denouement for this tale of treason.  What would be the outcome for Roger Mortimer and for Joan?  Would Joan be forced to pay the penalty for her husband becoming an over-mighty magnate, would she be punished for the treason that took him to the scaffold?

History hides Joan under the usual medieval shadow of female anonymity, but she was far more than an invisible and obedient wife, far more than a rejected lover.  Joan proved to be a woman of courage, both resourceful and resilient; a woman intent on keeping her family safe, fighting for the restoration of Mortimer land and power for future Mortimer descendents. 

As for Roger, in spite of everything, perhaps in the end Joan felt that she had a debt to pay to him.  

Joan de Geneville emerged as an irresistible protagonist in A Court of Betrayal.  How could I resist writing her story?

A Court of Betrayal 
By Anne O'Brien

Publication Date: 29th February 2024
Publisher: Orion
Page Length: 464 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

The Welsh Marches, 1301

Strong-willed heiress Johane de Geneville is married to Roger Mortimer, Earl of March, at just fifteen years old.

Soon Johane finds herself swept up in a world of treacherous court politics and dangerous secrets as her husband deposes Edward II and rules England alongside Queen Isabella.

Yet when Roger is accused of treason, she is robbed of her freedom and must survive catastrophic events in her fight for justice - with her life, and her children's, hanging in the balance...

Will she pay for her husband's mistakes, or will she manage to escape from a terrible fate?

Pick up your copy of 
A Court of Betrayal 

Anne O’Brien

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

She now lives with her husband in an eighteenth-century timber-framed cottage in the depths of the Welsh Marches in Herefordshire, on the borders between England and Wales, where she writes historical novels. The perfect place in which to bring medieval women back to life.

Anne loves to hear from readers, you can find her: Website, Facebook, Twitter

Tuesday 27 February 2024

One woman must sacrifice everything to uncover the truth in this enthralling historical novel, inspired by the true World War Two campaign Radio Aspidist


The Shadow Network 
By Deborah Swift

Publication Date: 13th February 2024
Publisher: HQ Digital
Page Length: 376 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction / WW2

One woman must sacrifice everything to uncover the truth in this enthralling historical novel, inspired by the true World War Two campaign Radio Aspidistra…

England, 1942: Having fled Germany after her father was captured by the Nazis, Lilli Bergen is desperate to do something pro-active for the Allies. So when she’s approached by the Political Warfare Executive, Lilli jumps at the chance. She’s recruited as a singer for a radio station broadcasting propaganda to German soldiers – a shadow network.

But Lilli’s world is flipped upside down when her ex-boyfriend, Bren Murphy, appears at her workplace; the very man she thinks betrayed her father to the Nazis. Lilli always thought Bren was a Nazi sympathiser – so what is he doing in England supposedly working against the Germans?

Lilli knows Bren is up to something, and must put aside a blossoming new relationship in order to discover the truth. Can Lilli expose him, before it’s too late?

Set in the fascinating world of wartime radio, don’t miss The Shadow Network, a heart-stopping novel of betrayal, treachery, and courage against the odds.


England, 1941

It was all very mysterious, being summoned like this by letter. After all, he was no se to anyone, hobbling about with two smashed legs. These days it took him fifteen minutes to struggle up a flight of stairs. Neil hoped whatever it was would have something to do with coding, because that was what he did before – well, before that awful year when his life had gone off the rails. He shuddered. Just the thought of it had the power to make him sweat. If they were going to drag all that up again, he’d be in serious trouble.
He concentrated on the view through the dusty window. The car turned left between two sentries, and down a short drive to a country house with a church tower at the front. 
‘Wavendon Tower,’ Harrison said, as the wheels crunched to a halt on the gravel. ‘Isn’t it spectacular? I’ll take you in to meet Mr Delmer.’
Neil eased himself out onto a gravelled drive. So not Bletchley and coding after all. The plot thickened. 
He was led through a gloomy corridor and into a library where a coal fire gave out sooty smoke in the corner.
Delmer, bear-like and bespectacled, stood up with his hand out and a big smile. Neil leant his stick against a chair and grasped hold. Delmer’s handshake was firm and warm. He had that air of easy confidence born of getting what he wanted. 
‘Do sit,’ he said. ‘Harrison will bring us some tea.’
Neil was glad to get off his feet and into one of the leather armchairs. 
‘I expect you’re wondering what this is all about,’ Mr Delmer said, wedging himself into a too-small armchair. ‘Have you heard of the Political Warfare Executive?’
‘I’ve heard of it, yes, but I’m not really sure what they do.’ 
‘Ah. Exactly the position I was in a few weeks ago.’ Delmer laughed. He had a broad open face and eyes that were very alive. He was a little overweight, which was unusual in these times, and balding already, though he was only, Neil guessed, in his late thirties. ‘Basically,’ Delmer went on, ‘it’s psychological warfare we’ll be involved in. You know I was a journalist?’
The ‘we’ bothered him, as if his job was a foregone conclusion, but Neil nodded.
‘Well, now I’m going into broadcasting. Radio. We’re going to make a radio station that will spout our propaganda. With me so far?’ He didn’t wait for Neil’s answer. ‘The idea is to undermine Hitler – pretend to be his fanatical supporters, grow a base of his listeners, and then, once we’ve reeled them in, do everything we possibly can to damage German morale.’
‘If you’re looking at me to do this,’ Neil said, ‘I don’t think my spoken German’s good enough. Not for radio broadcasting.’
‘No, Mr Callaghan. We’re going to use captured prisoners of war, people who’ve fled Germany and have a grudge. They’ll all be native speakers. The thing is, we need someone listening in; someone who can make sure these people are following the script. A chap who can alert us if they say or do anything out of order. A minder, if you like. And of course I can’t be everywhere, so I need some German-speaking helpers. People who pick things up quickly. Are you willing to have a go? It’s a desk job. Beauclerk thought it might suit, since you’re . . . less mobile these days.’
Just at that moment, Harrison brought in a tray of tea. She gave him a wink before passing him the plate of biscuits.
Neil wondered if Beauclerk had told Delmer about his less-than-salubrious past. It seemed not, and he certainly wasn’t going to enlighten him. After last year, he wasn’t sure he could cope with any more Germans, even the thought was terrifying.
‘I’m not sure I’m really ready for it,’ he said, searching for an excuse. ‘The bomb really knocked my confidence. I have bad days, you know, when I can’t—’
‘I don’t think I’m being clear. We need you, Mr Callaghan. And MI5 said you would be glad to help, particularly as you made a few . . . how shall we say? A few faux pas in your last post.’
So Delmer did know. And now he was piling on the pressure. Guilt kicked in, as Delmer must have known it would. And shame. Neil straightened his tie and tried to think positively. Maybe this time it wouldn’t all go belly-up and he’d be able to do something positive for his country. Reparation for his wrongs, if you like. 
He had no choice. And somehow that was a relief. That he didn’t have to choose a side.
‘I’m in,’ he said. He grabbed a Marie biscuit from the plate and took a bite. 

Pick up your copy of
The Shadow Network 

Deborah Swift

Deborah Swift is the English author of eighteen historical novels, including Millennium Award winner Past Encounters, and The Lady’s Slipper, shortlisted for the Impress Prize. 

Her most recent books are the Renaissance trilogy based around the life of the poisoner Giulia Tofana, The Poison Keeper and its sequels, one of which won the Coffee Pot Book Club Gold Medal. Recently she has completed a secret agent series set in WW2, the first in the series being The Silk Code.

Deborah used to work as a set and costume designer for theatre and TV and enjoys the research aspect of creating historical fiction, something she loved doing as a scenographer. She likes to write about extraordinary characters set against the background of real historical events. Deborah lives in North Lancashire on the edge of the Lake District, an area made famous by the Romantic Poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge.

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#WW2 #Thriller #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub

The Trail to Crooked Creek, a novella, is a tale of resilience, compassion, and the triumph of the human spirit set in the breathtaking and sometimes unforgiving landscape of post-Civil War Montana Territory.

The Trail to Crooked Creek 
By MK McClintock

Publication Date: February 20th, 2024. 
Publisher: Trappers Peak Publishing. 
Page Length: Novella. 
Genre: Historical Western Romance

Two years after the devastations of war left their mark on a country torn apart, Wesley Davenport, a former soldier haunted by his experiences on the battlefield crosses paths with Leah Tennyson, a teacher who helps him heal his emotional wounds—and discovers unexpected love in the most unlikely place.

The Trail to Crooked Creek, a novella, is a tale of resilience, compassion, and the triumph of the human spirit set in the breathtaking and sometimes unforgiving landscape of post-Civil War Montana Territory.


About the Crooked Creek Series:

"MK McClintock knows what readers want." ~ Readers' Favorite

Set in post-Civil War Montana Territory, in the small town of Crooked Creek, it all started with Emma. Her story was written for a contest, but I soon realized there were more women whose tales needed to be written. The war is over between the North and the South, but the battles at home are just beginning. If you love stories of bravery and courage with unforgettable women and the men they love, you'll enjoy the Crooked Creek series. 

Also Available:
The Women of Crooked Creek
Christmas in Crooked Creek

This title is available to read in #KindleUnlimited, and also in paperback and large print.

MK McClintock

MK McClintock is an award-winning author who writes historical romantic fiction about chivalrous men and strong women who appreciate chivalry. Her stories of romance, mystery, and adventure sweep across the American West to the Victorian British Isles with places and times between and beyond. 

Her works include the following series: Montana Gallaghers, Crooked Creek, British Agents, Whitcomb Springs, and the stand-alone collection, A Home for Christmas. She is also the co-author of the McKenzie Sisters Mysteries.

MK enjoys a quiet life in the northern Rocky Mountains. Visit her at, where you can learn more about her books, explore extras, view her blog, and subscribe to receive news. 

Author Links:

Saturday 24 February 2024

A woman who could not be conquered. A love that was never forsaken. A land that will not be forgotten.


The Enchanted Land 
By Jude Deveraux

Publication Date: 29th November 2011
Publisher: Avon
Page Length: 452 Pages
Genre: Historical Romance

A woman who could not be conquered.
A love that was never forsaken.
A land that will not be forgotten.

For beautiful Morgan Wakefield, the enchanted land is the ranch in New Mexico her father has left her. But the only way for her to inherit is if she lives there for a year with a husband. And so Morgan proposes a marriage of convenience to a man she just met—handsomely rugged rancher Seth Colter.

In Seth's powerful embrace, Morgan discovers a passion she never knew existed, and an unexpected new love blossoms between them. But devastating challenges and betrayal conspire against these lovers, and they will have to fight for a future together on this wild, enchanted land.

Pick up your copy of 
 The Enchanted Land 

Jude Deveraux

Photo Credit: Deborah Feingold
Jude Deveraux is the author of forty-three New York Times bestsellers, including For All Time, Moonlight in the Morning,and A Knight in Shining Armor. She was honored with a Romantic Times Pioneer Award in 2013 for her distinguished career. To date, there are more than sixty million copies of her books in print worldwide.

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Friday 23 February 2024

She has everything at stake. He has nothing left to lose.

A Devil of a Time
By Gretchen Jeannette

Publication Date: 6th December 2021
Publisher: Independently Published
Page Length: 345 Pages
Genre: Historical Romance

Tidewater Virginia, 1781

She has everything at stake . . . Ravaged by the evils of war, Clarice Wade struggles to heal and rebuild her life in an emerging nation. Her husband Andrew, maimed in battle in both body and soul, fails to support her efforts to save his ancestral estate, Farview. Unable to cope with his demons, he finds comfort at the bottom of a bottle. The couple’s future seems bleak until they hire Andrew's wartime friend and former soldier, Niall McLane, to help manage their failing tobacco plantation. With a hopefulness not felt in years, Clarice forms a bond with Niall that could change everything for the better.

He has nothing left to lose . . . Niall McLane might think he has endured the worst that could happen to any man, but as the war for independence draws to a close, he finds his troubles have only just begun. A survivor of wilderness warfare in Kentucky, Niall hopes to leave his past behind, but his reputation as a merciless soldier haunts him at every turn. When a gruesome murder occurs at Farview, bearing all the hallmarks of Niall’s formidable skills, the local sheriff and townspeople deem him the prime suspect. Only Clarice and Andrew Wade stand by him. But the murders continue, each more grotesque than the last, leaving him no choice but to hunt down a killer whose next victim might be the woman Niall loves.

From the mysterious forests of Kentucky to a war-torn Virginia plantation, A Devil of a Time weaves a tale of courage, betrayal, and forbidden love, of a driven man grappling with a demon from his past, and the remarkable woman destined to change all their lives forever.

MATURE CONTENT: This novel borders on American Gothic, with dark themes, a strong romantic element, and integral violence that some readers might find disturbing. Reader discretion is advised.

Pick up your copy of
A Devil of a Time

Gretchen Jeannette

Gretchen Jeannette was born in 1955 in Wilmington, Delaware. She lives and works in Chester County, Pennsylvania, an area rich in Revolutionary War and Colonial American history. Her enduring interest in 18th Century America began at a young age, inspired by the novels of Dale Van Every and Allan Eckert, whose timeless tales of adventure and romance capture the essence of early American lore. Eager to read more such stories, to her disappointment she had trouble finding them on bookshelves, so she decided to write one of her own. Thus began a journey fueled by her passion for breathing life into history through believable characters, authentic historical details, and plots woven with adventure, romance and suspense.

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Thursday 22 February 2024

Book Review — The Matchstick Boy by Rowena Kinread


The Matchstick Boy
By Rowena Kinread

Publication Date: 10th October 2023
Publisher: Goldcrest Books International Ltd 
Page Length: 329 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

When his young brother, Josef, is killed by a rock avalanche, Jakob believes it is murder. He had seen someone on the mountain ridge, above the scree, before it began to roll. But who would want to kill a child, and why? Jakob suspects Ramun, the privileged son of the owner of a matchstick factory, but nobody takes him seriously and he is powerless to obtain justice.

Thirty years later, Jakob’s profoundly deaf daughter is raped by Ramun and becomes with child. Determined to gain justice for his daughter, Jakob unearths a myriad of well-kept secrets in the tight-lipped community, but is anyone willing to tell the truth?

Just as he thinks he has uncovered all the facts, he realises he has made a vital mistake all along. Nothing is really as it seems.

Bad news travels fast in Weissbrügg. The storm that came had no mercy and claimed seven farms, burning them to the ground. But on that dreadful night, Anton Schneider lost more than just his farm. He lost his beloved wife, Lena, because of a complication in childbirth. Somehow, he has to find the courage to pick up the shattered pieces of his life and start a new one with his children. But, unbeknownst to Anton, the storm was just the beginning.

The Matchstick Boy by Rowena Kinread is a gripping historical family saga that does not threaten to mesmerise, it really does.

Kinread's book impressively combines meticulous research, thrilling action, and a stark portrayal of the characters' impoverished conditions. The detailed account of factory owners' exploitation and the hazardous working conditions the characters endure is described in exquisite detail. The events in this novel unfold without pause, leaving no time to catch one's breath. It's nearly impossible to tear yourself away from this mesmerizingly brilliant story. One more page became one more chapter. It's a book that demands your undivided attention.

The story is very fluid, and it flawlessly moves from one generation to the next. Even though I enjoyed Anton's story, it was Jakob's that truly captivated me. Jakob's attitude towards life mirrors that of his father - both share the desire to escape poverty, but they soon come to understand that dreams are more easily attainable for the wealthy, rather than those who have less. And yet, Jakob is determined to better his situation, he wants to work his way out of poverty, and he wants to become skilled in a trade. Jakob is a character that one cannot help but like. At times his story is utterly heartbreaking, as is his father’s, but somehow he finds the courage to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I thought Jakob’s depiction was wonderfully portrayed. He was a character that one could get behind and root for.

At first, I felt a strong sense of sympathy for Regina, but as the narrative unfolded, my feelings towards her turned bitter. Her marriage to Anton was certainly no love match, and she certainly failed in her task to be a loving mother to Anton’s children. She is, however, ambitious, and wants more from life than what she has. Much of her thoughts are centred around money and she has no qualms about forcing the children into work at the matchstick factory, and although child labour was not uncommon, I really did feel for Anton as this was not what he wanted for his children. But saying that I wish that Anton had more of a backbone and stood up to his wife. However, Regina does have her moments, especially in her treatment of Anneli.

However, what Regina does is nothing in comparison to Ramun Lauber’s actions. Ramun has every advantage. He is the son of a factory owner, and he has only known a life of privilege. During his childhood, he experiments with arson, and later as an adult, he escalates to committing more serious offences. Ramun's employees, especially women, suffer greatly under his leadership. He is an abhorrent man with an even more abhorrent appetite and he preys on the vulnerable. However, he consistently evades punishment for his crimes and never faces consequences. Thankfully, that changes by the end of the novel. While undeniably the primary antagonist in this book, his actions effectively drive the story.

Another character that I think is worthy of mention is Margot. Margot possesses the most gentle disposition, yet she is exceptionally skilled in the art of making lace. So skilled in fact that she soon makes a living out of it. I really enjoyed reading about Margot, she was like a burst of sunlight on a cold winter day. I thought her character was wonderfully drawn and came across as very realistic in the telling.

Helga was another character who was incredibly disagreeable. She is so selfish she will not even try to feed her brother’s motherless baby and she always thinks she is above everyone else. Her airs and graces mean little when she finds herself in a desperate situation of her own. Although one should feel sorry for Helga it is impossible to do so, for she is a very disagreeable character!

The historical detailing of this story is staggering. Kinread's elegant and authoritative penmanship reflects the countless hours she has devoted to research. The historical setting of this story is splendidly portrayed and I really felt like I had stepped into a portal and travelled back in time.

With a masterful stroke of the quill, Kinread has hooked her readers with a story that's impossible to set aside. My expectations were completely met, and this novel went above and beyond. If you're a fan of family sagas, you absolutely need to add this book to your reading list.

The Matchstick Boy by Rowena Kinread is a truly wonderful novel and I am looking forward to reading more books from this talented author. There is a realism to this story that is almost tangible. It is in all ways a complete success and one I would not hesitate to recommend.

Review by Ellie Yarde
Yarde Book Reviews & Book Promotion

Pick up your copy of
The Matchstick Boy

Rowena Kinread

Rowena Kinread grew up in Ripon, Yorkshire with her large family and a horde of pets. Keen on travelling, her first job was with Lufthansa in Germany.

She began writing in the nineties. Her special area of interest is history, after researching her ancestry and finding family roots in Ireland with the Dalriada clan, particularly this era. Her debut fiction novel titled “The Missionary” is a historical novel about the dramatic life of St. Patrick. It was published by Pegasus Publishers on April 29th, 2021 and has been highly appraised by The Scotsman, The Yorkshire Post and the Irish Times.

Her second novel “The Scots of Dalriada” centres around Fergus Mór, the founder father of Scotland and takes place in 5th century Ireland and Scotland, and is published by Pegasus Publishers.

The author lives with her husband in Bodman-Ludwigshafen, Lake Constance, Germany. They have three children and six grandchildren.

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