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?


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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
HERE!

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
HERE!

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 . . .

Excerpt

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.”
“No?”
“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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