February 25, 2013

Richard III: Portrait of a king, by Anne Easter Smith

Please welcome Anne Easter Smith as part of her virtual tour while promoting her newest novel, Royal Mistress

Publication Date: May 7, 2013 | Touchstone | 512p

From the author of A Rose for the Crown and Daughter of York comes another engrossing historical novel of the York family in the Wars of the Roses, telling the fascinating story of the rise and fall of the final and favorite mistress of Edward IV.

Jane Lambert, the quick-witted and alluring daughter of a silk merchant, is twenty-two and still unmarried. When Jane’s father finally finds her a match, she’s married off to the dull, older silk merchant William Shore—but her heart belongs to another. Marriage doesn’t stop Jane Shore from flirtation, however, and when the king’s chamberlain and friend, Will Hastings, comes to her husband’s shop, Will knows his King will find her irresistible.

Edward IV has everything: power, majestic bearing, superior military leadership, a sensual nature, and charisma. And with Jane as his mistress, he also finds true happiness. But when his hedonistic tendencies get in the way of being the strong leader England needs, his life, as well as that of Jane Shore and Will Hastings, hang in the balance. This dramatic tale has been an inspiration to poets and playwrights for 500 years, and told through the unique perspective of a woman plucked from obscurity and thrust into a life of notoriety, Royal Mistress is sure to enthrall today’s historical fiction lovers as well. 

  About the Author
Anne Easter Smith is an award-winning historical novelist whose research and writing concentrates on England in the 15th century. Meticulous historical research, rich period detail, and compelling female protagonists combine to provide the reader with a sweeping portrait of England in the time of the Wars of the Roses. Her critically acclaimed first book, A Rose for the Crown, debuted in 2006, and her third, The King’s Grace, was the recipient of a Romantic Times Review Best Biography award in 2009. A Queen by Right has been nominated by Romantic TImes Review for the Best Historical Fiction award, 2011.

Portrait of a king by Anne Easter Smith

Thanks for hosting me today!

So now we know! It was Richard III under the car park in Leicester, and the exciting announcement on February 4th made me cry. Now all of us who are Richard fans will have somewhere to go and pay our respects. It appears Leicester has won out in the re-interment battle between there and York Minster. A ceremony is being planned for early 2014, I understand.

Many of you may have seen pictures or videos already of the amazing and wonderful reconstruction of Richard’s face from his skull found in Leicester. I can’t tell you how powerful that was for me to see! You must agree with me, this is not the face of a murderous, evil tyrant. Sure, we have several portraits of him, but none of them is actually from his time. They are copies--estimated to have been done anytime during the 50 years following his death in 1485.

So if we have reproductions of actual paintings to look at, why was the facial reconstruction such a delightful surprise? Because we know the portraits were altered to fit the descriptions the Tudor historians had written about King Richard.
John Rous, who was writing during Richard’s time but quickly latched on to Henry VII’s coattails wrote that Richard had been in his mother’s womb for two years and emerged with a mouth full of teeth and a headful of long hair. Really! And they bought it? Well, if they bought that, then of course they would buy all the other nasty slanders slung at Richard. That he had a withered arm, that he murdered people and that he poisoned his wife in order to marry his niece. Jezum! What a load of codswallop (as we say in England).

There are several portraits of Richard that would have been done during his two-year reign when he was 30-32. If you go to this link you can hear an expert talk about how x-rays revealed the portrait in the Royal Collection was tampered with to create a haggard, older and bad-tempered face, added inches to the right shoulder, and turned the fingers into claws. Now the 16th century public had a portrait they could believe depicted the tyrant usurper Richard III!

However, if you look at the one belonging to the Societies of Antiquities in London, you will notice there is no discrepancy in the shoulder heights, his hands are elegant, and he looks more like a man of 30.

Of them all, I’ll take the reconstruction! Nicolas von Poppelau, a German visitor at Richard’s court in 1484, wrote in his journal that Richard was: “...three fingers taller than myself...also much more lean; he had delicate arms and legs, also a great heart...” No mention of a hunchback!

And Archibald Whitelaw, a Scottish Archdeacon, wrote: “Now I look for the first time upon your face, it is the contenance worthy of the highest power and kingliness, illuminated by moral and heroic virtue...never before has nature dared to encase in a smaller body such spirit and strength.”

The experts decided that even though Richard’s skeleton straightened measured 5 ft. 8 in., his scoliosis would have caused him to appear smaller. Scoliosis is quite common--in fact Usain Bolt has it--and Richard must have made up for his lack of inches with muscle and strength to have been able to wield those huge battle-axes and handle a destrier at the same time.

If a picture tells a thousand words--even if it’s computer-generated--then I’d say Richard was not evil-looking, but pretty handsome!

Check out the video of the facial reconstruction HERE.

Thank you to the author for this fabulous piece of history coming alive!
Twitter Hashtag: #RoyalMistressBlogTour
Please visit Anne Easter Smith's tour stops at Historical Fiction Virtual Book tours:

February 07, 2013

Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell

Happy Release Day!

Available for purchase today is the debut novel from Patricia Bracewell, set at the start of the High Middle Ages where no one was safe from Vikings or even their fellow nobles!
Find it at Amazon or Barnes & Noble
Read my review

Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell
(First in a trilogy)

A rich tale of power and forbidden love revolving around a young medieval queen.
In 1002, fifteen­-year-old Emma of Normandy crosses the Narrow Sea to wed the much older King Athelred of England, whom she meets for the first time at the church door. Thrust into an unfamiliar and treacherous court, with a husband who mistrusts her, stepsons who resent her and a bewitching rival who covets her crown, Emma must defend herself against her enemies and secure her status as queen by bearing a son.

Determined to outmaneuver her adversaries, Emma forges alliances with influential men at court and wins the affection of the English people. But her growing love for a man who is not her husband and the imminent threat of a Viking invasion jeopardize both her crown and her life.

Based on real events recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Shadow on the Crown introduces readers to a fascinating, overlooked period of history and an unforgettable heroine whose quest to find her place in the world will resonate with modern readers.

(click for larger images:)

About the Author:
Patricia Bracewell is a native of California where she taught literature and composition before embarking upon her writing career. A lifelong fascination with British history and a chance, on-line reference to an unfamiliar English queen led to years of research, a summer history course at Downing College, Cambridge, and the penning of her debut novel SHADOW ON THE CROWN. Set in 11th century England, SHADOW is the first book of a trilogy about Emma of Normandy who was a queen in England and a power behind the throne for nearly four decades. Patricia is working on the two follow-up novels in the series, but takes time out for tennis, gardening and travel. She is the mother of two grown sons and lives with her husband in Northern California. Visit her website at http://www.patriciabracewell.com/ 

February 01, 2013

Coming soon... Forsaken Dreams by MaryLu Tyndall

First in a brand-new series from bestselling author MaryLu Tyndall, Forsaken Dreams launches readers on a romantic adventure as Colonel Blake Wallace leaves the war-torn South behind to build a utopian society in Brazil. But will unexpected dangers on the ship and the secret of one captivating lady keep him from beginning anew?
Forsaken Dreams, available March 1, 2013
Visit author MaryLu Tyndall's blog, Cross and Cutlass, to follow her tour for her new book Forsaken Dreams. This is her twelfth novel, and every Friday in February she will be hosting a giveaway for Forsaken Dreams, congrats to Amanda!!

They Left Everything Behind to Build a New Southern Utopia

Colonel Blake Wallace has seen enough death to last a lifetime. Weary and disillusioned, he slumps beneath the weight of defeat and loss. With his entire family murdered by the North and his name appearing on a list of officers wanted for war crimes, Blake organizes a shipload of southerners who, like him, long to escape the horrors of war and start a new life in a verdant land called Brazil.

Eliza Crawford can barely remember the days of her youth spent in opulence and comfort at her Georgian home. She can't help but wonder how different her life would be had she not met her late husband, Stanton Watts, a general in the Northern army. Now a war widow, Eliza is rejected by both North and South. Desperate to keep her marriage a secret and escape her past and pain, she longs to start over again in Brazil.

But once the voyage begins, troubles abound. Dangers at sea and enemies from within threaten to keep Blake and Eliza from the new life—and love—they long for.

Visit this post on MaryLu's blog to learn about her main protagonist, Eliza! We'll get a sneak peek at Captain Blake, too!

Visit MaryLu on Facebook, too!