Monday 27 May 2024

“We gave everything we had to treat the wounded, no matter the danger, we remained committed until the last.”

A Nightingale's Last Song: A WWII Romance 
By Kathleen Harryman

Publication Date: 13th November 2023
Publisher: ISBN Services
Page Length: 605 Pages
Genre: Romance

“We gave everything we had to treat the wounded,
no matter the danger, we remained committed until the last.”

On Lillian Elizabeth’s death, Lilibeth inherits her grandmother’s home, Seagulls Rest, but it comes with a condition. Lilibeth must reveal her grandmother’s secret.

November 1940: Lillian Elizabeth joins the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Services in the fight against Hitler. She never meant to fall in love.

Major Joseph Lawrence is a doctor. Sergeant Alick McNavis a Scottish soldier. They are very different men. One will capture Lillian Elizabeth’s heart. The other her soul. One, a forbidden love. The other, permissible.

From the destruction of war, a Nightingale brings hope. Across the battlefields of France to the sandstorms of Egypt, a Nightingale’s voice is often the last sound a soldier will hear.

Now this Nightingale needs the help of her granddaughter, Lilibeth, so her soul can rest in peace.

Pick up your copy of 
A Nightingale's Last Song

Kathleen Harryman

Kathleen Harryman is a storyteller and poet living in the historically rich city of York, North Yorkshire, England, with her husband, children and pet dog and cat.

Kathleen first published a suspense thriller in 2015, The Other Side of the Looking Glass. Since then, she has developed a unique writing style which readers have enjoyed and is now a multi-published author of suspense, psychological thrillers, poetry and historical romance.

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Sunday 26 May 2024

Some debts you cannot repay, even if you live forever.


The Last Roman
By B.K. Greenwood

Publication Date: 29th May 2021
Publisher: Bat City Press
Page Length: 300 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Some debts you cannot repay, even if you live forever...

Seasoned imperial officer Marcus Sempronius Gracchus leads the 9th Roman Legion into a bloody battle against a fierce barbarian tribe. It's a battle he won't survive.

When he awakens three days later, clawing his way from a shallow grave, Marcus must face the reality of his new existence. He will never see the afterlife--but that won't stop him from dying time and again over the next 2,000 years.

But Marcus is not the only one cursed with eternal life, and they are determined to bring the world crashing to its knees. Forced to confront the only brother he has ever known, can Marcus prevent the inevitable and find redemption?

Follow the story of a man who should be dead, as he tries to save the world... and his soul.

Pick up your copy of
The Last Roman

 B.K. Greenwood

B.K. Greenwood lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and wolfpack of 4 rescue dogs. He loves to travel and has incorporated his experiences into his writing. B.K. enjoys works of fiction and nonfiction, with a heavy emphasis on history, adventure, and classics. His passion for history is on display in his debut novel, The Last Roman: Exile.

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Friday 24 May 2024

The rose girl is a potent reminder of our capacity to turn our greatest pain into love.


Rose Girl:
A Tale of Resilience and Rumi 
By Holly Lynn Payne

Publication Date: 1st September 2023
Publisher: Skywriter Books
 Page Length: 334 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

From Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers author Holly Payne, Rose Girl is a medieval thriller that unravels the mystery surrounding an orphaned girl saint in the 13th century. Named after the flowering rosa damascena, the rose girl grows up in a monastery under a tyrannical monk but flees his wrath and soon develops a mysterious gift‚ turning roses into rose oil and is exploited as a saint for performing miracles. Determined to unburden herself of her servitude, the rose girl escapes to medieval Turkey and undergoes a powerful transformation when she meets the great mystic Rumi and discovers the secret of her birth. The rose girl is a potent reminder of our capacity to turn our greatest pain into love.

Pick up your copy of
Rose Girl

Holly Lynn Payne

Holly Lynn Payne, MFA, MIM, is an award-winning, internationally published author of four novels, private writing coach, and the host and producer of the Page One Podcast. Her debut, The Virgin's Knot (Dutton), was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers book. She earned a master’s degree from USC, BA in journalism from University of Richmond, and has served on the faculty of the California College of the Arts, Academy of Art University, San Francisco State University and Stanford. She is the former CEO and founder of Booxby, a startup that built AI powered book discovery software, backed by a grant from the National Science Foundation. She has served as a volunteer producer for Litquake, the West Coast’s largest literary festival and lives near a mountain with her daughter and dog, and enjoys mountain biking. She is also a trained intuitive healer in Energy Medicine®. 

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Thursday 23 May 2024

It is 1294 and Eustace de Lamont is back in England after five years in exile. He will stop at nothing to ruin Robert FitzStephan and his wife, Noor d’Outremer.

Their Castilian Orphan
By Anna Belfrage

Publication Date: 23rd March 2024
Publisher: Timelight Press
Page Count: approx. 400 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romantic Historical Fiction, Historical Romance

It is 1294 and Eustace de Lamont is back in England after five years in exile. He will stop at nothing to ruin Robert FitzStephan and his wife, Noor d’Outremer.

Robert’s half brother, Eustace de Lamont, has not mellowed during his absence. He is more ruthless than ever, and this time he targets Robert’s and Noor’s foster son, Lionel.

Lionel is serving King Edward as a page when Eustace appears at court. Not only does Lionel become the horrified witness to Eustace’s violent streak, Eustace also starts voicing his suspicions about Lionel’s parentage. The truth about Lionel’s heritage is explosive—should King Edward find out, all would be lost for Robert and Noor.

In October of 1294, Wales rises in rebellion. Robert must leave his family unprotected to fight the Welsh rebels on the king’s behalf, comforted only by the fact that Eustace too is called to fight.

Except that Eustace has no intention of allowing his duty to his king—or a mere rebellion—come between him and his desire to destroy Robert FitzStephan . . .


In which Lionel grapples with who he really is.

Lionel had spent the last few days day mulling over what Papa had told him, and with every passing hour, the anger in him grew. They’d lied to him! All of them—Mama, Papa, Elias and John, Tom and Harry. Even Rhys, because he too must have known. Mayhap that was why he so often told Lionel of Wales, taught him the odd Welsh word. His attempt at giving Lionel something of his true homeland when he was likely sworn to secrecy by FitzSte—no, not even at his angriest could he think of Papa as anything but Papa. 
It had been a relief to convince Papa to allow him to return to the service of the king. But as he hurried from task to task, his mind whirred. He was Welsh, not Castilian. He did not have a father named Enrique, no, his father was an Owain—assuming the man had given Mama his true name. But why wouldn’t he? Unless, of course, he was a Welsh nobleman, determined to hide his son and heir from the long reach of the marauding Englishmen. Lionel swallowed, casting a look at King Edward, presently divesting himself of the clothes he’d worn when receiving the delegation of London merchants. There he was, the man who’d ordered all that marauding. Perhaps it was because of King Edward that the unknown Owain had never returned to claim his son. Maybe he, like Rhys, had lost everything as he fought for his prince—but in difference to Rhys, he’d died on the battlefield. 
All these thoughts made his head ache. There was a moment when he’d almost wept because if he was Welsh, if his unknown father was a man who’d died fighting the English, how was he to serve the English king? 
“Pah!” Soaking Sally said when he shared all this with her. He found her doing laundry—where else?—and was now sitting on an overturned barrel beside her as she scrubbed the king’s shirts. “First of all, you do not know who that father of yours was fighting for. Many Welshmen fought for our king, as disenchanted as any Englishman by that faithless worm Dafydd ap Gruffydd.”
“Not all Welsh considered him faithless.” Rhys rarely spoke of that last Welsh prince, but when he did, his voice grew heavy with loss. 
Sally wiped at her ruddy face and picked up the next shirt. Strong hands scrubbed it up and down in a steady rhythm. “Nay, of course not. But men like Owain de la Pole most certainly did, happy to support our king instead.”
“Owain?” Lionel asked. 
“A right fine man, that one,” Soaking Sally said. “But not, I think, your father.”
“Well, not unless he wanted to hide his bastard get from his wife.” 
Lionel flushed. “So you think I am a bastard?”
Sally stopped her scrubbing, dropping the shirt into the water. “Does it matter? You are Lionel, lad. Truth be, the fact that you do not know who fathered you is something of a blessing—you can become whoever you want to be.”
“Except the king has said I must remain Castilian.”
“And who in God’s name would want to be Welsh instead? You told me before how your Castilian father shares blood with both the Castilian queen and our own beloved dead queen. That is not a bad heritage to claim.”
“But it is a lie!”
Soaking Sally dunked the shirt a couple of times before transferring it to a barrel of clean water. “Who cares?” she said, and Lionel stormed off. 
He almost fell down the stairs in his haste, coming to an abrupt halt when he heard Eustace de Lamont’s voice from the passage. 
“. . . and I told him he could stay with her in that house he has in Clerkenwell.” 
“He’s your clerk,” a female voice said. Lionel pulled a face: Florence de Lamont was a beautiful lady, but her voice was uncomfortably shrill. “And leaving aside the fact that he should not be consorting with women, he should be here, with you.” 
“Humphrey is a loyal servant,” Eustace said, his voice already fading away. “He deserves a reward. And the priory of St John is not that far away should I need him.” 
Lionel waited until they were well and truly gone before he set off at a run. He had to find Papa or Mama. Now. 

Pick up your copy of
Their Castilian Orphan

Anna Belfrage

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with three absorbing interests: history, romance and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England. Anna has just released the final instalment, Their Castilian Orphan, in her other medieval series, The Castilian Saga,which is set against the conquest of Wales. She has recently released Times of Turmoil, a sequel to her time travel romance, The Whirlpools of Time, and is now considering just how to wiggle out of setting the next book in that series in Peter the Great’s Russia, as her characters are demanding. . .

All of Anna’s books have been awarded the IndieBRAG Medallion, she has several Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choices, and one of her books won the HNS Indie Award in 2015. She is also the proud recipient of various Reader’s Favorite medals as well as having won various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards.

“A master storyteller” 

“This is what all historical fiction should be like. Superb.”
Connect with Anna:

Book your Blog Tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club today!

#HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance #MedievalEngland #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub

Wednesday 22 May 2024

TURNING THE STORM is a can’t-miss, action-packed addition to the saga of four daring siblings willing to sacrifice everything they hold dear in order to save their country—and do each other proud.


Turning the Storm
By Lee Jackson

Publication Date: 24th August 2021
Publisher: Severn River Publishing 
Page Length: 566 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Feeling the mantle of duty lying heavily on their shoulders, the Littlefields are pushed to their limits in the much-anticipated third installment in the AFTER DUNKIRK series.

The Blitz is in full force.

Bombs rip relentlessly through London, destroying buildings and rattling confidence.

How much more can the country—and one family—take?

As Britain falls further into chaos, the Littlefields—ever-dedicated—must keep fighting. Their country needs them now, more than ever, and each sibling will be tested in ways they never imagined.

Jeremy prepares to fly a mission without his trusted Eagles. But the sudden capture of someone he loves will force him to choose between fulfilling his duty and following his heart.

Still held as a POW at a high-security facility, Lance grows more and more desperate to make an escape.

And thousands of miles apart, Claire and Paul—both armed with top-secret war intelligence—experience a similar struggle: They know more than they can say. And that knowledge places their siblings in grave danger.

Meanwhile, at home and under German occupation on Sark Island, the Littlefield's parents struggle as food becomes scarce and the fire in their bellies is joined by a gnawing hunger.

Then, in a move that shocks the entire world, Germany invades Russia.

But is it really a surprise to Churchill?

What will it mean for Britain—and for the Littlefield family?

Pick up your copy of
Turning the Storm

Lee Jackson

Lee Jackson is a bestselling, award-winning international World War II and spy thriller author. He was an Infantry officer with a front-row seat on world affairs and spent 38 months in Iraq and Afghanistan. Click FOLLOW for instant notification of new releases. Join his mailing list for bonus content and book updates:

Prodded by his publisher after the success of his first series, Lee launched into writing fact-driven, well-researched WW2 novels in the After Dunkirk Series that trace the challenges and acts of courage of a family scattered in England, across Europe, and to the US and the Pacific Theater during the world's most widespread and destructive conflict. Join Jeremy Littlefield as he escapes Dunkirk and then engages in dogfights flying a Spitfire. Watch Paul as he learns of and copes with intrigue at the highest levels in Great Britain and the US. Scheme with Lance as he outthinks tried to evade capture. Will he succeed? And delve into decrypting and analyzing German military messages, anticipating what the enemy will do next. Can this family survive and find themselves intact at the war's end. 

Of Lee's prior series, The Reluctant Assassin (formerly Curse The Moon) was his first and was published in 8 countries. It follows Atcho, a counter-revolutionary leader in Cuba turned unwilling spy in the U.S. The odds he faces seem overwhelming as he must choose between saving the world from a nuclear holocaust - or his daughter. In Lee’s second book, Rasputin's Legacy, Atcho faces a surreal challenge: he must save the country that enslaved his own or deliver control of the Russian nuclear apparatus into the hands of a maniac. Can he set aside his personal desire for revenge? In his third book, Vortex: Berlin, he battles forces bent on keeping absolute power in the divided German city. Can he stop the massacre intended to terrify increasingly rebellious citizens determined to regain control over their own lives? And in the fifth and final book of the series, he goes after the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993.

Lee lives with his wife in Texas and is a full-time writer.

Tuesday 21 May 2024

Read an excerpt from Stumbling Stones by Bonnie Suchman


Stumbling Stones
By Bonnie Suchman

Publication Date: 9th May 2024
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Page Length: 282 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

"Alice knew that Selma sometimes felt judged by their mother and didn't always like it when Alice was praised and Selma was not. Alice glanced over at her sister, but Selma was smiling at Alice. In what Alice understood might be Selma's last act of generosity towards her sister, Selma was going to let Alice bask in the glow of Emma's pride toward her elder daughter. Then the three shared a hug, a hug that seemed to last forever."

Alice Heppenheimer, born into a prosperous German Jewish family around the turn of the twentieth century, comes of age at a time of growing opportunities for women.

So, when she turns 21 years old, she convinces her strict family to allow her to attend art school, and then pursues a career in women's fashion. Alice prospers in her career and settles into married life, but she could not anticipate a Nazi Germany, where simply being Jewish has become an existential threat. Stumbling Stones is a novel based on the true story of a woman driven to achieve at a time of persecution and hatred, and who is reluctant to leave the only home she has ever known.

But as strong and resilient as Alice is, she now faces the ultimate challenge - will she and her husband be able to escape Nazi Germany or have they waited too long to leave?


The weekend following the incident at the Westend Synagogue was the opening weekend of the summer season for the Frankfurt bath resorts. Frankfurt had a number of public bath resorts along the Main River, but the Heppenheimer family had always gone to the Nierderrad Licht- und Luftbad (Light and Air Bath). Located on a peninsula in the Main River, the bath had a sand beach, a river pool, and a café. When Alice was a child, the facilities were rather primitive. But while she was living in Nuremberg, the city had added changing rooms and showers. And while the consumption of alcohol was forbidden through the 1920s, the café began serving wine and beer in 1933. After Alice returned to Frankfurt, one of her favorite activities in the summer was to spend an entire Sunday at the Nierderrad bath, swimming in the pool and enjoying the afternoon with family or friends.
Unfortunately for Frankfurt’s Jews, the enactment of the Nuremberg Laws impacted this coveted summer leisure activity. While Jews could frequent any of the public baths before those laws were passed, beginning in the summer of 1937, Jews in Frankfurt could only visit the Nierderrad Light and Air Bath. Asit turned out, this was one of the few new directives that did not affect Alice, since she had always gone to the Nierderrad Bath. And that was Alice’s plan for the first Sunday the bath was open.
Alice woke early that Sunday morning and was just too excited to remain in bed. She began packing the wicker basket with enough food for lunch and an afternoon snack, taking her time as she made the sandwiches. Alfred and Alice had planned to pick up Selma and Emma around 10 am, and the four of them would take the tram to the bath. Fortunately for Alice, Leo would not be joining them – he claimed it would be too hot for him. After she finished preparing all of the food for the day, Alice still had an hour before they needed to leave, and so sat down with a cup of coffee and read yesterday’s paper. Alice didn’t mind the wait -- it was nice to just sit and not have to work.
Just before 10 am, Alice and Alfred left the apartment and walked to Selma’s apartment. Of course, when they arrived, Emma was not even close to being ready. But Alice expected that her mother would be late and joined her sister in the kitchen. Selma inspected the food basket, made a face at Alice, and then replaced much of what Alice had packed with food she had prepared. Alice laughed, but did not object. When Emma was finally ready, the four left the apartment and walked to the tram stop. As they boarded the tram, they could see others carrying baskets for a day at the bath. As they continued the ride, Alice could see the car filling with more and more Jews taking the tram to the Niederrad Bath. Alice thought to herself, regardless of all the other challenges in their lives, today, Frankfurt’s Jews were going to enjoy a day in the sun. That was certainly the case for Alice.
The tram stopped just outside the gates of the bath, and virtually everyone exited the tram. They all walked up to the ticket booth to pay the small admission fee. The Jewish community had been forced to lease the bath from the city for the 1937 summer season, and the fee was intended to cover the cost of the lease. After entering the facilities, the ladies went to the right and Alfred went to the left to change into their bathing suits. After they finished changing, Alfred rented four chairs and an umbrella and then the four found a place to settle for the day.
Alice and Selma had taken swimming lessons as children and both immediately went into the pool to swim. Emma did not like the water, but enjoyed watching her daughters swim. Alfred was afraid of the water, but was happy to sit in a chair and read his book. He also enjoyed talking to his mother-in-law. Emma had been raised by a religious scholar and Alfred had attended an orthodox yeshiva. Alfred was no longer religious, but Emma still attended services when she could and liked to discuss the week’s Torah portion with Alfred when they were together. Emma’s scholarly father believed it was important for all of his children to receive a Jewish education, and Emma was happy to share that knowledge in conversations with her son-in-law. At some point, Alice stopped swimming and looked over at her mother and Alfred. It was clear they were arguing over some point and having fun. Without having to worry about whether Alice or Selma would be bored by the conversation, the two could enjoy challenging each other with various arguments, which they were clearly doing. But it was always in good fun, and neither ever left the discussion with bruised egos, so Alice went back to her swim.
Around noon, Alice opened the food basket. Alfred had already walked to the café for cold drinks. The sun was strong, but the breeze from the river kept everyone comfortable as they ate their lunch. After lunch, Alice decided to take a nap, and was soon sound asleep. Deep into a dream, Alice could hear her name and woke with a start. She stared at Alfred.
“What’s wrong? What’s happened?”
Alfred smiled at her. “Nothing has happened. I am sorry I startled you. They are about to start the boat races and I thought you would want to watch.”
Alice took a deep breath to calm herself. “I was dreaming that you were being chased by Nazis and then I heard you call my name in the dream. I thought something bad had happened. But it was just a dream. Yes, let’s go watch the races. Where are Selma and Mama?”
“Your mom was getting a bit warm, so Selma took her to the café for a cold coffee.”
The Jewish sports club Schild was on the peninsula next to the Nierderrad bath and had built a boathouse in the 1920s. Following the restriction on Jewish participation in all sporting events, Schild invited other Jewish boat clubs to store their boats at the boathouse and then organized rowing races to run through the summer. The first rowing race was about to start when Alice and Alfred reached the shoreline. There were so many people there to watch the race that Alice and Alfred had trouble seeing the river. Six boats were in the water and then the gun went off to start the race. People started to cheer for their team and Alice and Alfred soon found themselves cheering for Schild. The race lasted about a minute and Schild was victorious. Alice and Alfred hugged each other and then hugged others who had been cheering for Schild.
There were several other boat races, but Alice and Alfred decided to take a walk instead along the path that followed the water. Others were also walking along the path, and Alice and Alfred stopped to chat with several people they knew. Alfred noticed someone selling ices and bought them both ices. They reached their chairs as they were finishing their ices. Selma was reading and Emma was napping.
“Welcome back. How were the races?”
“We only watched the first race. Schild won, which was pretty exciting. Then Alfred and I took a walk along the water. How is Mama doing?”
“I think Mama might be ready to leave.”
“I am also ready to leave. Let’s pack up everything and then we can wake Mama. We can all change in the changing rooms and then head home.”
By the time they left the bath, it was nearly 3 pm. The tram arrived almost immediately after they reached the stop, and it soon filled with other Jews, exhausted from their day at Niederrad Bath. Alfred found a seat for Emma and Selma, but he and Alice were forced to stand. That was okay, Alice thought. The ride would be relatively quick. As the tram started to empty of bathers, Alice could hear several teenage boys in the back bothering an elderly Jewish couple.
Alfred looked at Alice and shook his head. “Alice, say nothing. Just look to the front of the tram. Out stop is next.”
As soon as the tram stopped, Alice and Selma helped up their mother and the four quickly left the tram. I hope that couple is okay, Alice thought to herself. But she knew it would not have helped them if she had tried to intervene. What could she or Alfred have been able to do? They actually could have made things worse. She tried not to think about the couple as they walked her sister and mother home.
Alice was singing to herself as she prepared dinner that evening. Nothing fancy, just a cold soup and a cold chicken salad. She could hear Alfred enter the kitchen. Her hugged her from behind and kissed the back of her neck.
“Well, someone is in a particularly good mood.”
“I am. It was just a really nice day. The weather was perfect and it was nice not to have to worry about being hassled by people that hate you. The only bad thing that happened to me today was that my shoulders got a little too much sun. But being there today makes me think maybe we can wait out this craziness. Maybe if the Nazis gave us our own space to live, we could be okay.”
“I know what you mean about feeling safe in a place. It was really nice to be in a place where it was okay to be Jewish. But that was only because the Nazi won’t let Jews visit the other baths.
And we are not safe even in places that are just for Jews. Remember what happened last week at the concert in the synagogue? Today was just a respite from reality. We will never be truly safe as long as we are in Germany. And I believe it will only get worse. We need to leave as soon as we can.”
“I agree. Still, it was nice to feel totally safe, at least for a few hours. Hopefully, we will feel that all the time once we are in America.”

Pick up your copy of
Stumbling Stones

Bonnie Suchman

Bonnie Suchman is an attorney who has been practicing law for forty years. Using her legal skills, she researched her husband's family's 250-year history in Germany, and published a non-fiction book about the family, Broken Promises: The Story of a Jewish Family in Germany. Bonnie found one member of the family, Alice Heppenheimer, particularly compelling. Stumbling Stones tells Alice's story. Bonnie has two adult children and lives in Maryland with her husband, Bruce.

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#HistoricalFiction #WWII #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub 

Monday 20 May 2024

Book Review - A Nightingale's Last Song: A WWII Romance by Kathleen Harryman

A Nightingale's Last Song: A WWII Romance 
By Kathleen Harryman

Publication Date: 13th November 2023
Publisher: ISBN Services
Page Length: 605 Pages
Genre: Romance

“We gave everything we had to treat the wounded,
no matter the danger, we remained committed until the last.”

On Lillian Elizabeth’s death, Lilibeth inherits her grandmother’s home, Seagulls Rest, but it comes with a condition. Lilibeth must reveal her grandmother’s secret.

November 1940: Lillian Elizabeth joins the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Services in the fight against Hitler. She never meant to fall in love.

Major Joseph Lawrence is a doctor. Sergeant Alick McNavis a Scottish soldier. They are very different men. One will capture Lillian Elizabeth’s heart. The other her soul. One, a forbidden love. The other, permissible.

From the destruction of war, a Nightingale brings hope. Across the battlefields of France to the sandstorms of Egypt, a Nightingale’s voice is often the last sound a soldier will hear.

Now this Nightingale needs the help of her granddaughter, Lilibeth, so her soul can rest in peace.

Although her mother had expressly forbade Lilly from doing so, Lilly put her name forward for Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Services. She might lose her inheritance, but she knows what she wants to do, and nothing is going to stop her. Throwing herself into danger’s path, Lilly finds things she never could’ve expected from the job. She comes face to face with harrowing scenes and horrifying injuries, but she also meets friends along the way, and two men she simply can’t choose between. With friends surrounding her, Lilly grows a formidable force who are behind her as she fights the battles that come her way.

A heartfelt WWII romance, A Nightingale’s Last Song by Kathleen Harryman is a novel of friendship and love during a time of confusion and unease, following Lillian Elizabeth Nutman’s life and experiences as a nurse during the war.

Harryman has boldly tackled every year of World War II, although much of the story takes place on the Duchess of Richmond – a cruise ship that had been requisitioned as a troopship. It is on this ship that Lilly solidifies her love for Joe and meets the other love interest in her life, Alick. The way Lilly and Joe's love story was depicted was both beautiful and sweet, a classic romance that I found delightful to read about. The connection between Lilly and Alick is filled with intense passion and an enduring sense of forever. The author's skill in writing unforgettable romances is remarkable, and I was fully absorbed in this love triangle. I even found myself reaching for tissues more than once.

The author has spent a great deal of time depicting the comradeship between Lilly and her fellow nurses, which helps to bring a sense of light-heartedness to the novel at times. The struggles all the nurses face when confronted with the horror of war are shared by all, but the burden is lightened by the fact that they are all in it together, and experiencing the same things. Lilly and her friends go through some truly harrowing experiences in this novel, but they are all very strong characters, and are able to push their emotions down in order to carry on with their duties and keep going. Despite the seriousness of their work, there is certainly a balance between work and leisure time. For the most part, when they are not on duty, they spend their time having a good laugh, mostly at each other’s expense! Pearl is always on the hunt for her next lover, and is not particularly worried about her reputation – somehow, her antics are overlooked by the matron, although she is very lucky to get away with as much as she does! I did find it rather amusing that all of the matrons in this novel were so incredibly boorish – especially later on in the novel when Sister Maud is not allowed to vomit, even though they are at sea and Maud is suffering from terrible sea sickness!

I thought the author did a marvellous job in depicting the hardships that the medical teams and soldiers faced, not only from the German guns and bombs but also from the vermin. They had to contend with the sand, mosquitoes, flies, scorpions, and not forgetting the rats. The difficulties of keeping the field hospitals as sterile as possible seem like an impossible task, and yet there is some light entertainment when the rats start chasing Morag around the ward. The author has done a marvellous job of lightening the darker moments of this novel with humour. One minute you might be reaching for the tissues and the next, laughing out loud!

Lilly’s relationship with her mother was very interesting. At the beginning of this novel, their relationship is very strained to say the least, but by the end of the novel, Jane Anne has certainly thawed. A great deal of this book is depicted in letters from Lilly to Jane Anne, letters that Lilly has no intention of ever sending. I was left wondering whether, if she had sent the letters, would Jane Anne have been quite so cordial towards her daughter, for Lilly leaves nothing out of the letters. By the end of the novel instead of an antagonist, Jean Anne becomes something of an ally. I thought Jane Anne’s depiction was wonderfully drawn, and incredibly realistic in the telling.

It is easy to forget that this novel is a dual timeline. We are introduced to Lilibeth at the beginning of this novel when her grandmother (Lilly) has just passed away, but after meeting her initially, we do not come back to her until the end of the novel. She both opens and closes the story, but this novel is Lilly’s story to tell. The ending itself was very poetic and truly quite wonderful in the telling. This novel is certainly an emotional one, so I’d recommend keeping a pack of tissues close by.

A Nightingale's Last Song by Kathleen Harryman is a novel that will play on your emotions, and will make you both laugh out loud and shed a few tears. I will certainly be looking out for more novels by this author.

Pick up your copy of 
A Nightingale's Last Song

Kathleen Harryman

Kathleen Harryman is a storyteller and poet living in the historically rich city of York, North Yorkshire, England, with her husband, children and pet dog and cat.

Kathleen first published a suspense thriller in 2015, The Other Side of the Looking Glass. Since then, she has developed a unique writing style which readers have enjoyed and is now a multi-published author of suspense, psychological thrillers, poetry and historical romance.

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Friday 17 May 2024

Book Review - Novice Threads (Silver Sampler Series Book 1) by Nancy Jardine

Novice Threads
(Silver Sampler Series Book 1)
By Nancy Jardine


Publication Date: 15th May 2024
Publisher: Nancy Jardine with Ocelot Press 
Page Length: 388 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

A thirst for education. Shattered dreams. Fragile relations.

1840s Scotland

Being sent to school is the most exhilarating thing that’s ever happened to young Margaret Law. She sharpens her newly-acquired education on her best friend, Jessie Morison, till Jessie is spirited away to become a scullery maid. But how can Margaret fulfil her visions of becoming a schoolteacher when her parents’ tailoring and drapery business suddenly collapses and she must find a job?

Salvation from domestic drudgery – or never-ending seamstress work – comes via Jessie whose employer seeks a tutor for his daughter. Free time exploring Edinburgh with Jessie is great fun, but increasing tension in the household claws at Margaret’s nerves.
Margaret also worries about her parents' estrangement, and the mystery of Jessie's unknown father.

When tragedy befalls the household in Edinburgh, Margaret must forge a new pathway for the future – though where will that be?

Nothing has ever excited young Margaret Law as much as her first day of school, if only Jessie Morison, her best friend in the whole world, was with her! Her determination to teach Jessie everything she is taught is a true testament to what best friends do for each other. 

Unfortunately, circumstances tear the best friends apart.

Jessie would have been left without any means if not for a mysterious person who helped her secure a job as a scullery maid in a respected Edinburgh household, following her grandmother’s passing. Although Jessie hasn’t fully mastered her lettering and grammar, Margaret cherishes every letter she receives from her best friend.

Margaret aspires to become a teacher, but her parents can no longer finance her education due to changing circumstances. Despite still being a child, Margaret, like Jessie, must assume adult responsibilities. She has to find work. Thankfully, Jessie’s employer is seeking a tutor for their daughter. Margaret jumps at the chance to be united with her childhood friend, and her parents seem pleased with her being employed. However, things are not quite what they seem in the Duncan household and tragedy is just a heartbeat away.

Readers will be captivated by the poignant tale of the lasting bonds of friendship formed in childhood. Novice Threads (Silver Sampler Series, Book 1) by Nancy Jardine is a truly wonderful book. Right from the start, I was mesmerized by the enthralling plot and the intricately crafted characters. This is a book that demands to be read in one sitting.

The historical backdrop of this novel has been meticulously studied. The first part of the novel is set in Milnathort, where there is seemingly little opportunity for its inhabitants. The textile mills, where certain characters are employed, paid little attention to health and safety. The poverty depicted is a sombre reminder of the time the book is set in, and the landlords’ treatment of their tenants is abhorrent. Empathy and common decency seem to go out the window when money is involved. The story later moves to Edinburgh, where once again the author has demonstrated her skill at creating a realistic historical backdrop for her novel. I thought the depiction of both Milnathort and Edinburgh were masterfully portrayed.

From a modern standpoint, it’s hard to understand the immense difficulty of sending your child into service. It was the only opportunity for Jessie to escape destitution after her grandmother died, but she had to work excessively long hours and playtime is now a thing of the past. Likewise, Margaret is still very much a child when she starts work, but her situation is better than Jessies, for she has the necessary education skills to care for her charge. Before sending Margaret off to Edinburgh, her mother tells her to be cautious of strangers in the street who may use charm to exploit her. At first, Margaret is unsure of what it means, but eventually, she comprehends her mother’s cautionary words.

Margaret has always had a hunger for learning, even as a child, and fortunately, her parents can financially support her education unlike other children her age. The contagious excitement Margaret displayed on the first day of school brought back memories of my first day of school excitement. As the narrative develops and her situation alters, her passion for learning remains unwavering. Margaret was a beautifully crafted character that I grew to care deeply for.

Oh, Jessie — how I adored her, and what heartrending choices she is forced to face. She’s a young girl who must quickly adapt to the responsibilities of being a grown-up. Jessie’s lovable nature has captured my heart completely. She doesn’t easily get angry; she gracefully accepts whatever comes her way, hiding the true extent of her emotional turmoil behind her sunny smile. Jardine has depicted a poignant portrayal of a young woman on a journey of self-discovery.

All the secondary characters in this book play a crucial role in driving the narrative forward. Witnessing Mistress Duncan’s mental health decline was truly sad, and her violent mood swings affected everyone in the Duncan house, including the servants. Her gradual decline coincides with that of the health of her daughter, Rachel. Although she is painted in a negative light, I couldn’t help but feel some compassion for Mistress Duncan because back then there was a lack of understanding about mental health conditions and her obvious guilt over Rachel’s accident was very evident throughout this story As her delirium intensifies, her moods become even more erratic, and she is seemingly oblivious to Rachael’s declining health. Her story is a truly tragic one.

Rachel is the darling of this story. A tragic accident left her paralyzed, necessitating constant care, but she still craves an education. Rachel is a determined young girl with a thirst for knowledge and a desire to explore the world. While her health declines and her world becomes smaller, Jessie and Margaret are the two constants in her life. Despite being young, Rachel’s intuition is so strong that she deduces Jessie’s heritage before Jessie does. Rachel, with her ever-present smile, was an extremely likeable character whom I grew to adore.

From the very first sentence to the final full stop, Novice Threads by Nancy Jardine captivated me with its emotionally charged storytelling. With a realistic historical backdrop, Jardine has created a story that is as impossible to put down as it is to forget. This is a story that will stay with me for a very long time. I cannot wait to read the next book in what promises to be an enthralling series.

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Novice Threads

Nancy Jardine

Nancy Jardine lives in the spectacular ‘Castle Country’ of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Her main writing focus has, to date, been historical and time travel fiction set in Roman Britain, though she’s also published contemporary mystery novels with genealogy plots. If not writing, researching (an unending obsession), reading or gardening, her young grandchildren will probably be entertaining her, or she’ll be binge-watching historical films and series made for TV. 

She loves signing/ selling her novels at local events and gives author presentations locally across Aberdeenshire. These are generally about her novels or with a focus on Ancient Roman Scotland, presented to groups large and small. Zoom sessions have been an entertaining alternative to presenting face-to-face events during, and since, the Covid 19 pandemic restrictions.

Current memberships are with the Historical Novel Society; Scottish Association of Writers; Federation of Writers Scotland, Romantic Novelists Association and the Alliance of Independent Authors. She’s self-published with the author co-operative Ocelot Press.

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