Thursday 30 May 2024

How could everything have gone so terribly, heartbreakingly wrong?

The Midwife's Promise
By Eliza Graham

Publication Date: 6th December 2023
Publisher: Storm Publishing
Page Length: 342 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction 

New England, 1992. 

Sophie’s hand trembles as she places the birthday card on to the creamy wood of her dresser – this one postmarked from far away, and signed with a name she’s never forgotten, despite their years apart. Downstairs, guests wait around a colourful pile of gifts – Happy 90th Birthday, Sophie! But Sophie has a gift of her own to give today – a tattered collection of photographs she’s never shown anybody. Holding it to her heart, a single tear slides down her wrinkled cheek.

France, 1944. 

Sophie is folding Camille into her arms, kissing her daughter’s hair. She’s smiling through tears at the plaintive cries of a tiny, perfect newborn baby – her first grandchild. As a midwife, she’s helped so many take their first breath, but this is special. In the street outside, Nazi soldiers patrol day and night, and each week more people disappear. Sophie clenches her fist and vows she’ll do anything to save Camille and her baby from that fate.

But when evil has stolen everything you know, even the truest promises are tested. Sophie swore she’d give her life for her family. How could everything have gone so terribly, heartbreakingly wrong?

The Midwife's Promise is only 0.99 on #Kindle for a Limited Time. It is also FREE with #KindleUnlimted subscription.

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The Midwife's Promise

Eliza Graham

Eliza Graham's novels have been long-listed for the UK's Richard & Judy Summer Book Club in the UK, and short-listed for World Book Day's 'Hidden Gem' competition. She has also been nominated for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction and the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.

Her books have been bestsellers both in Europe and the US. 

She is fascinated by the world of the 1930s and 1940s: the Second World War and its immediate aftermath and the trickle-down effect on future generations. Consequently she's made trips to visit bunkers in Brittany, decoy harbours in Cornwall, wartime radio studios in Bedfordshire and cemeteries in Szczecin, Poland. And those are the less obscure research trips.

It was probably inevitable that Eliza would pursue a life of writing. She spent biology lessons reading Jean Plaidy novels behind the textbooks, sitting at the back of the classroom. In English and history lessons she sat right at the front, hanging on to every word. At home she read books while getting dressed and cleaning her teeth. During school holidays she visited the public library multiple times a day. 

At Oxford University she studied English Literature, which didn't teach her much about writing a modern novel, but expanded her knowledge of the literary canon and how people have used books and words to communicate with one another since Saxon times.

She has worked as a 'Saturday' girl in Marks & Spencer, an entrance-hall cleaner, a trainee banker and as a PR consultant and business writer, covering subjects from long-tail insurance risks to jumbo factory loo rolls.

Eliza lives in an ancient village in the Oxfordshire countryside with her family. Not far from her house there is a large perforated sarsen stone that can apparently summon King Alfred if you blow into it correctly. Eliza has never managed to summon him. Her interests still mainly revolve around reading, but she also enjoys walking in the downland country around her home and travelling around the world to research her novels.

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Wednesday 29 May 2024

First she took on Al Capone. Then came World War II.


Lady Codebreaker
By K.D. Alden

Publication Date: 12th March 2024
Publisher: Forever 
Page Length: 432 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Grace Smith has never been one to conform to society’s expectations. She flees small-town Indiana to seek adventure—and finds more than she bargained for when she’s hired by an eccentric millionaire to learn codebreaking. Soon she’s using those skills to help head the government’s fledgling cryptanalysis unit.

During Prohibition, Grace takes up the fight against rumrunners—not to mention Al Capone himself. And as the country careens from one Great War to another, it’s Grace who must crack the secrets of foreign governments, catch spies, and derail saboteurs . . . before it’s too late.

With wry wit and sheer grit, she forges her own path as a codebreaker, wife, mother. She’s spent a lifetime going up against powerful men and winning. But as war rages and the stakes grow impossibly high, Grace faces a truly impossible choice: her family or her country?

Pick up your copy of
 Lady Codebreaker

K.D. Alden

K.D. Alden is the award-winning, best-selling author of over 25 novels for major publishers. While she's created hundreds of characters under multiple names, she herself has only one personality! 

She grew up in Austin, Texas, is a graduate of Smith College and resides in south Florida with her husband and two rescue greyhounds. 

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Tuesday 28 May 2024

Book Review - The Cross of Ciaran by Andrea Matthews

The Cross of Ciaran
By Andrea Matthews

Publication Date: 18th June 2020
Publisher: Inez M. Foster 
Page Length: 362 Pages
Genre: Time Travel Romance

When a fifth century pagan priest is unearthed in Ireland fifteen hundred years after being entombed, archaeologist Caitlin O’Connell is convinced it’s the find of the century. The body is in perfect condition, right down to the intricate tattoos adorning the Celt’s skin. In fact, if scientific data hadn’t proved otherwise, she would swear he hadn’t been interred more than a few hours. Eager to discover more about the mysterious Celt, Caitlin accompanies the body back to the New York museum where she’s employed, but before she has time to study him, the priest disappears without a trace. Rumors surrounding the event begin to circulate and result in the excavation’s benefactor pulling the plug on the entire expedition. The rumors are not far off the mark though. After being buried alive for betraying his goddess and his priesthood in the dawning age of Christianity, Ciarán wakes to a strange new world. Alone and frightened in an unforgiving city, he stumbles upon the only thing familiar to him and seeks sanctuary within the church walls. With the help of the parish’s pastor, Father Mike, Ciarán slowly grows accustomed to his surroundings, though he’s plagued by dark dreams and the disturbing sensation that an evil from his past has followed him into the future. But a more immediate danger lurks on his doorstep. Caitlin is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery concerning her missing Celt, and when she meets her Uncle Mike’s new handyman, Ciarán Donnelly, she’s convinced the handsome Irishman knows more about the theft than he’s letting on. Yet, even she can’t deny the attraction between them, simmering below the surface and blurring the lines between her personal and professional life. But will Ciarán’s secrets draw them together or shatter their future forever

Caitlin O’Connell’s dream comes true when, during an archaeological dig, her team uncovers a tomband on opening it reveals a body inside. The Celt must have been entombed for more than 1500 years, yet it remained perfectly preserved and in pristine condition. One could almost be convinced he was only asleep.

Due to the overwhelming publicity surrounding the discovery, Caitlin has less time than expected to study the Celt before he is exhibited in the museum for everyone to see. Nevertheless, she continues to feel an overwhelming sense of pride for her find and anxiously anticipates the opportunity to have the Celt to herself once more.

One night, though, the Celt goes missing. The museum shows no signs of forced entry, and the cameras didn’t capture any footage. It is almost as if he simply stood himself up and walked out of his own accord. And yet, this was impossible. The man had been dead for fifteen hundred years. And now, Caitlin’s chances of studying him were close to zero.

The past becomes a modern mystery romance in The Cross of Ciarán: A Celtic Romance by Andrea Matthews, a novel that reawakens the past and brings forth ideas and events that no one could ever have even imagined to be possible. 

Ciarán awoke after being buried alive, locked in a tomb for the crime of turning his back on his goddess and giving himself over to Christianity. But the world he has awoken in is little like the one he remembers, and there is no one around to help him. He finds himself surrounded by people who do not even speak the same language as him and are certainly not dressed like him. The only thing he can find that he is vaguely familiar with is a church, and he takes himself inside to rest in the haven the church walls create. Found by Father Mike, Ciarán is slowly introduced to the new world and yet he must acclimatise himself to it quickly. A fifteen hundred-year-old pagan priest, walking around as if no time had passed – the experiments and tests he would be subjected to were enough to drive him into hiding, and make him work hard to make sure that no one, bar those who needed to know, would ever find out his true identity.

The problem lies with Father Mike’s niece, though. Caitlin is determined to find her missing Celt, and her uncle’s new handyman seems remarkably familiar. Plus, he acts strange, and she doesn’t entirely believe his story about having amnesia, and not truly remembering who he is or where he comes from. With her suspicions aroused, Ciarán must work even harder to keep his cover, but neither can deny the fact that, despite all of Ciarán’s secrets, and Caitlin’s curiosity, they both feel something they were not expecting. In each other, they see a like-minded spirit, someone who seems to understand them, and who actually takes an interest in what they have to say. After all, what better pairing – an archaeologist who specialises in Celtic history, and an actual Celtic priest? 

The attention given to portraying Ciarán is wonderfuland it makes his story even more believable as he truly comes to life within the pages of this book. His palpable fear and uncertainty, as he awakens in an unfamiliar world, devoid of any familiar faces for reassurance, adds a sense of authenticity to his character. Ciarán’s endearing qualities and the way he elicits genuine empathy from readers are truly remarkable. As he gains a deeper understanding of his surroundings, his past experiences start to resurface, causing him to grapple with the reality of his past. Reconciling with a history that spans centuries, and being urged to move forward, proves to be a challenging undertaking. Furthermore, concealing his true identity from those in his life, especially as his relationship with Caitlin deepens, proves to be a formidable challenge, as his physical appearance bears the undeniable marks of his ancient heritage, and the more Caitlin scrutinizes, the higher the chances of her uncovering a Celtic tattoo or scar. The uncertainty of the world around him, coupled with having to hide who he really was from those around him, made Ciarán a character you truly feel for as you read, for he is a wonderful man who has so many bad things happen to him, you just want to hold him and tell him that it will all be alright.

As Caitlin and Ciarán get to know each other, they inevitably grow closer and begin seeing each other more often. Caitlin can’t help but keep thinking about her missing Celt, though. The opportunity to study him, to learn from him, seems to be slipping further and further away, and her chances of recovering him for a second time are slim. Caitlin is a woman who boldly speaks her mind, regardless of the rationality of her statements. Could Ciarán have something to do with her Celt’s disappearance? What were the chances of bringing her Celt back safely, without any harm being done to him? At times, Caitlin can be quick to temper, and rather short with those around her, but she is in a position of high stress, and so some of this can be excused. She is almost an entirely different person when she is around Ciarán, though, and starts to relax and enjoy the time she spends with him, outside of work. It’s as if there’s an unexplainable force bringing them together, and she can’t quite pinpoint what about him is so captivating.

Andrea Matthews’ novel, “The Cross of Ciarán: A Celtic Romance,” captivates and holds your attention until the very end. This is an incredibly impressive start to the series, and the open ending of the novel leaves you yearning for additional content. Prepare to be enthralled by Ciarán’s story, as it unfolds over five books and threatens to become something of an obsession as you binge-read the entire series. With Ciarán, Andrea Matthews skillfully revives the past, leaving you hanging onto every word of this captivating narrative. I can’t stress enough how much I recommend this book and I’m eager to read the rest of the series. 

Pick up your copy of
The Cross of Ciaran

Andrea Matthews

Andrea Matthews is the pseudonym for Inez Foster, a historian and librarian who loves to read and write and search around for her roots, genealogical speaking. She has a BA in History and an MLS in Library Science, and enjoys the research almost as much as she does writing the story. In fact, many of her ideas come to her while doing casual research or digging into her family history. She is the author of the Thunder on the Moor series set on the 16th century Anglo-Scottish Border, and the Cross of Ciaran series, where a fifteen hundred year old Celt finds himself in the twentieth century. Andrea is a member of the Romance Writers of America.

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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.”
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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.”

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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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