March 28, 2014

J.R. Tomlin's A King Ensnared -- Guest Post and {Giveaway}

Someone once asked me what I would write if I wrote the book of my heart.

I said that I had already written it. At the time, I was talking about Freedom's Sword but all of my historical novels in one way or another been books of my heart. It had to do with growing up steeped in the history and fiction of Scotland.

As a wean, a child if you're not a Scot, I lived with my grandparents in Edinburgh for some years, and my amazing granny read me the early works of Scottish literature. John Barbour's 14th The Bruce, and Blind Harry's later Wallace made up my bedtime stories. She didn't approve of Robert Louis Stevenson whom I'm afraid she didn't approve of. Later I moved to other authors, but that early clarion call to a struggle against conquest never left me.

What I came away with was an admiration for the people of a small nation who stood up their own
freedom against the invasions and bullying of a large and powerful neighbor. It is a classic David and
Goliath story except that you can't count on David winning. He often didn't.

Which brings me to a question that I have been asked, how do you know it was freedom they fought for. Weren't they just fighting for power against others who wanted power? Did people in the middle ages
even care about freedom?

People often underestimate those of the middle ages who had the same desires as people in any age, so
I tend to let them speak for themselves. In about 1370, John Barbour penned this:

Freedom all solace to man gives:
He lives at ease that freely lives!
A noble heart may have none ease,
Nor ellys nought that may him please,
If freedom fail.

How could one not want to write about such people and such a struggle?

About the book
Publication Date: November 22, 2013
Paperback; 244p
ISBN-10: 1493786598

On the dangerous stage of medieval Scotland, one man–in an English dungeon–stands between the Scots and anarchy.
Robert III, King of the Scots, is dead, and Scotland in 1406 is balanced on a knife’s edge. As he eyes the throne, King Robert’s ruthless half-brother, the Duke of Albany, has already murdered one prince and readies to kill young James Stewart, prince and heir to the crown.

James flees Scotland and his murderous uncle. Captured and imprisoned by the English, he grows to be a man of contradictions, a poet yet a knight, a dreamer yet fiercely driven. Hardened by his years in the Tower of London and haunted by his brother’s brutal murder, James is determined to find some way to recover his crown and end his uncle’s misrule. But the only way may be to betray Scotland and everything he believes in.

About the Author
J. R. Tomlin is the author of five historical novels: A King Ensnared, Freedom’s Sword, A Kingdom’s Cost, Countenance of War, and Not for Glory. She has also co-authored several fantasies with C. R. Daems: Blood Duty, Talon of the Unnamed Goddess, The Shadow Ryana, The Shadow Gypsy, and Women of Power.

She has close ties with Scotland since her father was a native Scot, and she spent substantial time in Edinburgh whilst growing up. Her historical novels are set in Scotland. You can trace her love of that nation to the stories of the Bruce and the Good Sir James her grandmother read her when she was small and to her hillwalking through the Cairngorms where the granite hills have a gorgeous red glow under the setting sun. Later, her writing was influenced by the work of authors such as Alexander Dumas, Victor Hugo and of G.R.R. Tolkien.

For more information visit J.R. Tomlin’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Visit the other tours for more guest posts, reviews and giveaways - HFVBT TOUR SCHEDULE
Follow the tour on Twitter - #KingEnsnaredTour

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March 25, 2014

Spotlight: Peter Danish's The Tenor {Giveaway}

Publication Date: February 24, 2014
Pegasus Books
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

The Tenor is a sweeping tale of historical fiction in the style of Ann Patchett’s “Bel Canto” and De Burniere’s “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.” It swiftly moves from Pino Vaggi’s youth in pre-war Italy, to his coming of age as a soldier in war-torn Greece, before ending in a shattering surprise finale at Maria Callas’ historic final performance ever on the stage of New York’s Metropolitan Opera House in 1965. It is based loosely on the stories and anecdotes that I learned from several of Maria Callas’ personal friends and from nearly a dozen trips to Italy and Greece to research the subject.

Pino Vaggi is not like the other children in Italy in 1930. While they play soccer, he listens to opera. By age ten, he is already a child prodigy, an opera singing sensation on the fast track to a major international career. On the eve of his debut, WWII breaks out. The theater is closed. The season is cancelled. Pino is drafted. He is stationed in war-torn Athens, where he hears and ultimately falls in love with another child prodigy, the young Maria Callas. There is one major problem: she is the enemy. However, as famine devastates Athens, (a famine created by the diversion of humanitarian aid meant for the Greeks to the Russian front to feed the German Army) the artist in Pino can’t fathom the thought of the greatest singer the world will ever know perishing, especially if he is in a position to prevent it. With a firing squad in the balance, he repeatedly risks his own life to protect and feed the young girl and her family. In the process, his love for her deepens, until something tragic happens – something with devastating consequences that blows the young lovers apart.

Praise for The Tenor
“Mr. Danish’s clever use of the history of one of the greatest voices ever to sing, Maria Callas, and a little known part of that history, her early life during turbulent times in the world, gives this a truly romantic and involving idea…. I loved it and any opera lover would too. Easy, readable and knowledgeable about life, music and all the stuff that happens in between….!” – Aprile Millo, Metropolitan Opera Star

“Mr. Danish’s exceeding knowledge of and passion for the medium of opera suffuses every line of this cinderella narrative, one that provides a thrill ride for both the novice and the seasoned opera fan. The Tenor is impossible to put down….” – Samuel Juliano, Wonders in the Dark

“As an operatic diva that has sung over 100 performances with the Metropolitan Opera, I can say without hesitation, that “The Tenor” is a riveting and accurate tale of life imitating art! Peter Danish’s story telling ability is lyrical and powerful as he explores the life of an opera singer through passion, longing, romance and war! The accuracy of his descriptions about a singer’s journey, his musical and operatic references and his colorful characters, including the incomparable Maria Callas, make this a must read!” – Victoria Livengood, Metropolitan Opera Mezzo Soprano

“Whether Peter Danish is writing about music, history or travel in his vastly entertaining novel, “The Tenor,” his words fly off the page. The whirlwind of images invites the reader into a world that will be familiar to some, foreign to others—but captivating to all. Read it!” – Richard Sasanow, Editor-in-Chief BWW Opera

“The easy flowing prose of Mr. Danish’s historically engaging novel is expertly paced and eloquently depicted. As an opera singer who has sung hundreds of performances around the world I think this book will be a compelling read for music lovers and an exhilarating story for all readers. Bravo, Mr. Danish!” – Korliss Uecker, Metropolitan Opera Soprano

“Each page of Tenor is as rich as a box of Italian chocolates. By page 8 I already found 7 lines I wanted to steal. Dive in and trust author Peter Danish to sweep you up and lead you through a remarkable adventure! I couldn’t put it down.” – Tom Dudzick, playwright, Over the Tavern, Miracle on South Division Street

“Facts and fiction playfully intertwine in this opera lover’s delight!” – Alberto Ferreras, award-winning author, ‘B as in Beautiful’

“The Tenor was not what I was expecting. Yes, it’s about opera. Yes, it’s an homage to art and artists. Yes, it’s about dreaming of fulfilling one’s destiny. But, it’s about all those things without being fussy or precious. It’s decidedly unfussy–because it’s about people who work really hard….Peter Danish creates characters you root for. He has woven a tale that keeps you wanting to find out what happens next! I think they call those page-turners!” – John Cariani, Tony Award Nominee, playwright, ‘Almost Maine’

“With his far-reaching opera expertise and keen insight into the Italian soul, Peter Danish draws us into his captivating story of the joys and heartaches of the performer’s life. The result is a satisfying read for book lovers and opera lovers alike. Bravo, Il Tenore!” – Erica Miner, Award-winning Author, ‘Murder in the Pit’

Buy the Book

About the Author
Peter Danish is the Classical Music Editor in Chief for, the classic music site for, covering and reviewing the classical music performance in and around New York City and the greater New York Area. A proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America, he is the playwright of the play: “Gods, Guns and Greed,” as well as the new musical: “The Flying Dutchman.” His writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Ad Age, Ad Week and Media Week Magazines.

Visit the other tours for more guest posts, reviews and giveaways - HFVBT TOUR SCHEDULE
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March 21, 2014

Nancy Bilyeau's The Chalice - US Book Blast and {Giveaway}

The new novel The Chalice, by Nancy Bilyeau, sends readers on a page-turning historical quest. Set in Henry VIII's England, the story is driven by plot twists, deceptions, spiritual searching and romantic tension. Readers fall in love with protagonist Joanna Stafford, a Catholic novice forced to leave her priory and find her answers. "She is strong and determined and very likable," says one blogger. "Exhilarating," says Good Housekeeping, and "The novel is riveting and provides fascinating insight into into the lives of displaced nuns and priests, with fully realized characters," says RT Book Reviews. Launching in paperback on March 18 and available in ebook too.

The Chalice

The Chalice
by Nancy Bilyeau

Publication Date: March 18, 2014
Touchstone Publishing
Paperback; 496p
ISBN-10: 1476708665

Series: Joanna Stafford, Book Two
Genre: Historical Mystery


Between the crown and the cross stands one woman...

IN 1538, ENGLAND is in the midst of bloody power struggles that threaten to tear the country apart. Aristocrat-turned-novice Joanna Stafford knows what lies inside the king’s torture rooms and risks imprisonment when she is caught up in an international plot targeting the king. As the power plays turn vicious, Joanna understands she may have to assume her role in a prophecy foretold by three different seers.

Joanna realizes the life of Henry VIII, as well as the future of Christendom, are in her hands—hands that must someday hold the chalice that lies at the center of these deadly prophecies...

Praise for The Chalice

"A brilliant and gripping page-turner…A fascinating blend of politics, religion, mysticism and personal turmoil. Well-researched and filled with sumptuous detail, it follows Joanna’s early life from Bilyeau’s début novel, The Crown, but this book easily stands on its own. Bilyeau fills in the blanks from her earlier work while leaving the reader both wanting to read the first book and eagerly awaiting the next. This is a must-read for lovers of historical fiction." – Free Lance-Star

"English history buffs and mystery fans alike will revel in Nancy Bilyeau's richly detailed sequel to The Crown." – Parade

"The novel is riveting, and provides fascinating insight into the lives of displaced nuns and priests during the tumultuous Tudor period. Bilyeau creates fully realized characters, with complex actions and emotions, driving the machinations of these historic personages." – RT Book Reviews, (Top Pick)

"The human and political battles of Henry VIII's reformation are brought to exhilarating life in The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau." – Good Housekeeping UK, April 2014

"Bilyeau sends her plucky former novice back into the intrigue-laden court of Henry VIII." – Entertainment Weekly

"Bilyeau continues from her first novel the subtle, complex development of Joanna’s character and combines that with a fast-paced, unexpected plot to hold the reader’s interest on every page . . . history and supernatural mysticism combine in this compelling thriller." – Historical Novel Society

"Joanna Stafford is a young novice caught up in power struggles familiar to readers of Hilary Mantel and C.J. Sansom, but with elements of magic that echo the historical thrillers of Kate Mosse." – S.J. Parris, author of 'Heresy,' 'Prophecy' and 'Sacrilege'

"[A] layered book of historical suspense." – Kirkus Reviews

"The Chalice is an engrossing mix of the complicated politics of the Reformation with the magical elements of the Dominican order, and Joanna--fiery, passionate, determined to honor what she thinks God wants her to do--is a fascinating character. Fans of historical mysteries, Tudor politics and supernatural fiction will all be pleased by the broad scope, quick-moving plot and historical integrity of Bilyeau's second novel." – Shelf Awareness

Watch the Book Trailer


Buy the Book

Barnes & Noble
Simon & Schuster

About the Author
Nancy Bilyeau

Nancy Bilyeau has worked on the staffs of InStyle, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Ladies Home Journal. She is currently the executive editor of DuJour magazine. Her screenplays have placed in several prominent industry competitions. Two scripts reached the semi-finalist round of the Nicholl Fellowships of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Her screenplay "Zenobia" placed with the American Zoetrope competition, and "Loving Marys" reached the finalist stage of Scriptapalooza. A native of the Midwest, she earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan. THE CROWN, her first novel, was published in 2012; the sequel, THE CHALICE, followed in 2013.

Some earlier milestones: In 1661, Nancy's ancestor, Pierre Billiou, emigrated from France to what was then New Amsterdam when he and his family sailed on the St. Jean de Baptiste to escape persecution for their Protestant beliefs. Pierre built the first stone house on Staten Island and is considered the borough's founder. His little white house is on the national register of historic homes and is still standing to this day.

Nancy lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

Author Links


Sign up for Nancy Bilyeau's Newsletter.

Nancy Bilyeau Gives an Inside Peek Behind THE CHALICE

Book Blast Schedule

Tuesday, March 18
A Book Geek
Kinx's Book Nook
Passages to the Past
Book Lovers Paradise
To Read or Not to Read
Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Historical Fiction Obsession

Wednesday, March 19
Closed the Cover
A Chick Who Reads
The True Book Addict
A Dream within a Dream

Friday, March 21
A Bookish Affair
The Maiden's Court
Let Them Read Books
Historical Fiction Connection

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To enter to win one of 10 copies of The Chalice please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only.

Giveaway will run from March 17-21. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter on March 22 and notifiied via email.
Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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March 17, 2014

Deborah Swift Book Blast

HF Virtual Book Tours is delighted to introduce you to historical novelist Deborah Swift! Deborah’s acclaimed novels are set in turbulent seventeenth century England and have been described as “brilliant” and “a must for all readers looking for something out of the ordinary but grippingly alive”. Her previous life as a scenographer and costume designer shine through as the settings are beautifully evoked, immersing the reader in the sights and smells of the time.

Deborah’s multi-layered and engrossing historical adventures will make perfect picks for reading groups. Reading Group Guides can be conveniently found in the back of each book and on her website.

Find more information on Deborah's novels below and enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card (£15 UK)!

The Lady's Slipper

The Lady's SlipperPublication Date: June 3, 2011
Pan MacMillan
Formats: Ebook, Paperback

England, 1660.

The King is back, but memories of the English Civil War still rankle. In rural Westmorland, artist Alice Ibbetson has become captivated by the rare Lady’s Slipper orchid. She is determined to capture it’s unique beauty for posterity, even if it means stealing the flower from the land of the recently converted Quaker, Richard Wheeler. Fired by his newfound faith, the former soldier Wheeler feels bound to track down the missing orchid. Meanwhile, others are eager to lay hands on the flower, and have their own powerful motives.

Margaret Poulter, a local medicine woman, is seduced by the orchid’s mysterious herbal powers, while Geoffrey Fisk, Alice’s patron and former comrade-in-arms of Wheeler, sees the valuable plant as a way to repair his ailing fortunes and cure his own agonizing illness. Fearing that Wheeler and his friends are planning revolution, Fisk sends his son Stephen to spy on the Quakers, only for the young man to find his loyalties divided as he befriends the group he has been sent to investigate.

Then, when Alice Ibbetson is implicated in a brutal murder, she is imprisoned along with the suspected anti-royalist Wheeler. As Fisk’s sanity grows ever more precarious, and Wheeler and Alice plot their escape, a storm begins to brew, from which no party will escape unscathed. Vivid, gripping and intensely atmospheric, The Lady’s Slipper is a novel about beauty, faith and loyalty.

Praise for The Lady's Slipper

"The novel grips from the opening lines and carries the interest throughout. The several plot-lines are seamlessly blended and come together in a wholly satisfying conclusion. Her characters are so real that they linger in the mind long after the book is back on the shelf. Highly recommended." - Historical Novels Review Magazine

"Recommended for fans of Philippa Gregory and Rose Tremain, as well as students of the English Civil War." - Library Journal

“The intertwined stories of the orchid’s fate, the mounting problems between the Quakers and the King’s men, and Alice’s murder trial and its aftermath make for a riveting narrative.” - For the Love of Books Blog

The Gilded Lily

The Gilded Lily UK CoverPublication Date: September 13, 2012
Pan MacMillan
Formats: Ebook, Paperback

Westmorland, 1660.

Sadie Appleby has lived all her life in her small village. One night she is rudely awoken by her older and bolder sister, Ella, who has robbed her employer and is on the run. The girls flee their rural home of Westmorland to head for London, hoping to lose themselves in the teeming city. But the dead man’s relatives are in hot pursuit, and soon a game of cat and mouse begins.

Ella becomes obsessed with the glitter and glamour of city life and sets her sights on the flamboyant man-about-town, Jay Whitgift. But nothing is what it seems – even Jay Whitgift.

Can Sadie survive a fugitive’s life in the big city? But even more pressing, can she survive life with her older sister Ella?

Set in London’s atmospheric coffee houses, the rich mansions of Whitehall, and the pawnshops, slums and rookeries hidden from rich men’s view, The Gilded Lily is about beauty and desire, about the stories we tell ourselves, and about how sisterhood can be both a burden and a saving grace.

Praise for The Gilded Lily

"There is no greater compliment than ‘Give me more!’ A delight." - Susanna Gregory

"The Gilded Lily is impeccably written historical fiction. The detail is superb and life in London is so vividly depicted that the city seems to take on its own persona and become a lurking character in the story." - Let Them Read Books

"A heart-rending story of two sisters on the run, searching for a better life. Beautifully written and meticulously researched, the novel drew me straight into the teeming streets of Restoration London. An addictive, page-turning read." - Mary Sharratt

"Superb dialogue, steeped in contemporary language, adds credibility and atmosphere to this compelling tale which examines the ties that bind together siblings, the consequences of greed and ambition, the fickleness of fate and women’s constant battle to survive in a man’s world. The Gilded Lily is also a fast-paced adventure peopled with ruthless villains and feisty heroines whose exploits grab the imagination and add suspense and excitement to a historical gem." - Lancashire Evening Post

The Gilded Lily Book Trailer

A Divided Inheritance

A Divided InheritanceUK Publication Date: October 24, 2013
Pan MacMillan
Formats: Ebook, Paperback

London, 1609.

Elspet Leviston’s greatest ambition is to continue the success of her father Nathaniel’s lace business. But her simple dreams are thrown into turmoil with the arrival of her mysterious cousin Zachary Deane – who has his own designs on Leviston’s Lace. Zachary is a dedicated swordsman with a secret past that seems to invite trouble. So Nathaniel sends him on a Grand Tour, away from the distractions of Jacobean London. Elspet believes herself to be free of her hot-headed relation but when Nathaniel dies her fortunes change dramatically. She is forced to leave her beloved home and go in search of Zachary – determined to claim the inheritance that is rightfully hers.

In the searing heat of Seville, Elspet and Zachary become locked in a battle of wills. But these are dangerous times and they are soon embroiled in the roar and sweep of something far more threatening, sending them both on an unexpected journey of discovery and finally unlocking the true meaning of family.

Praise for A Divided Inheritance

"a true gem. It has a pacy storyline, the characters are complex, intriguing and often unexpected – and it is packed with fascinating historical fact" - Gabrielle Kimm, author of His Last Duchess

"Elegantly written, A Divided Inheritance brings the uncertainty of the seventeenth century gloriously to life in an engaging tale of determination, tenacity and family loyalty." - Flashlight Commentary Blog

"a multifaceted tale about the consequences of religious intolerance, the expiation of guilt, the importance of family, and the appearance of unexpected love. And swordplay! The action sequences are as sharp and dazzling as Zachary’s hand-forged blade." - Sarah Johnson, Reading the Past

Buy the Books

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

Deborah Swift About the Author

Deborah Swift used to work in the theatre and at the BBC as a set and costume designer, before studying for an MA in Creative Writing in 2007. She lives in a beautiful area of Lancashire near the Lake District National Park. She is the author of The Lady’s Slipper and is a member of the Historical Writers Association, the Historical Novel Society, and the Romantic Novelists Association.

The Riddle of Writing Blog
Royalty Free Fiction Blog
English History Authors Blog

Book Blast Schedule

Sunday, March 16
Lily Pond Reads
Kincavel Korner
Bibliophilia, Please
Passages to the Past
The True Book Addict

Monday, March 17
Mari Reads
Turning the Pages
A Chick Who Reads
Historical Fiction Connection
History from a Woman's Perspective

Tuesday, March 18
Just One More Chapter
Susan Heim on Writing
Caroline Wilson Writes
Historical Fiction Obsession
Historical Readings & Reviews

Wednesday, March 19
Book Nerd
Broken Teepee
Literary Chanteuse
Historical Tapestry

Thursday, March 20
Book Drunkard
Mina's Bookshelf
Curling Up By the Fire
To Read or Not to Read
Svetlana's Reads and Views

Friday, March 21
Closed the Cover
CelticLady's Reviews
The Little Reader Library
Books by the Willow Tree


To enter to win a $20 (£15 UK) Amazon Gift Card please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form.

Giveaway will run from March 16-21. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on March 22 and notifiied via email.
Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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March 14, 2014

Caddy Rowland - Making History, Bohemian Style (Part 3)

Please welcome back historical fiction author and artist, Caddy Rowland, our regular contributor here at Historical Fiction Connection.

Making History Bohemian Style (Part 3) 
By Caddy Rowland

“The Star 1876-77”
Edgar Degas

Last month I talked about why artists started painting in new ways back during the nineteenth century. I ended by saying Impressionism had been born. That it had, but what exactly is Impressionism, and who were the originators of it? Both are good questions. Put simply, Impressionism is a style that shows what you would see if you simply caught a glimpse of the subject matter. It is the artist’s impression of how the subject looked at a certain time of day, with a certain amount of light or during weather phenomena, and how the colors appeared to him or her because of it. Details are not important, although some Impressionistic work has more than others. What is important is the color, the brushstrokes, the mood, the light, etc.

Although some Impressionists showed some dimension, they reveled in the fact that their paintings were to be appreciated as just that: paintings. They didn’t try to make the painting look “real”. One way they often avoided doing that was by allowing the painting to look flat, instead of trying to use perspective to show depth and distance, as in Vincent van Gogh’s painting below: 

“Starry Night”
Vincent van Gogh

I mentioned brushstrokes in Impressionism. Until then, artists were encouraged to blend their strokes so that no edges showed. After all, real people and things don’t have brushstrokes on them, and the whole goal before Impressionism was to paint subjects as close to reality as possible. Now, however, that was pushed to the wayside. Not only were brushstrokes vividly shown, colors were bright and laid next to each other before drying, allowing the paints to do their own blending together. Layering was often done before paints were dry. They frequently used pure color, not mixing or blending, as the vibration of color mattered more than line and contour. Note the brushstrokes on this painting also (and the play of light on her dress):

“The Swing”
Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Certainly no one would confuse either of the above pieces with the actual view of the sky or of the actual people in the second painting. Yet, in many ways, both paintings evoke a more powerful emotional response than if they were painted like a photograph. One can feel the passion of the artist in them; can sense the love of color and texture those skilled hands knew. Impressionists also painted modern life with common subject matter, capturing the immediacy, movement, light. They also showed people in seemingly candid poses instead of formal and stiff like classical portraits. The goal was to show life in all its intensity and reality, not to show a person dressed up and standing or sitting unnaturally for all eternity.

They also often painted en plein air (outside). This again allowed them to capture light on canvas in its various stages. A single building could be painted several times and look completely different each time because of the time of day and the amount of light on it (or lack thereof).

Even though the camera had spurred them to painting something different, they did embrace one aspect of photography. Instead of commanding the viewer to focus only on the main subject, that immediacy and freshness gave many of their paintings the “feel” of a photograph in that subject and background both blended together. In a photograph the subject doesn’t show stronger than anything else and most times with impressionism the same is true. Again, color, light, and mood matter more than line and contour. Color, light and mood IS the subject.

Impressionism began in France and soon there were many artists who embraced the style. There had to be artists who started it, though. Next month I’ll introduce you to those who first dared to paint different. They are considered the original Impressionists. What excites me about these originals is that one of them was a woman. When you study the history of art during this time you will not find many female artists mentioned. It was very much a man’s world, but there were a couple—and one woman stands out as part of the original group who changed the world of painting.

We didn’t always take a backseat. The few who did step forward made waves.

Historical Fiction by Caddy Rowland:

Contact and Social Media Info. For Caddy Rowland: 
Author Blog 
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Twitter: @caddyorpims

March 12, 2014

Guest Post - Christina E. Pilz's Fagin's Boy


Firstly, thank you for letting me do a guest post on your blog.

A question on one of my virtual tour interviews was to ask which character I liked better. I told the interviewer that that wasn’t a fair question because I wasn’t supposed to have favorites! Which is still true, even though, secretly, I have a thing for Jack. And that’s because, I think, I’ve not yet been able to write any scenes from his point of view. And also, as one reviewer pointed out, Oliver is not a very sympathetic character, so Jack is easier to like than Oliver.

I built Oliver that way on purpose, to be less than likeable for a couple of reasons. I think that often Oliver gets dismissed as being a two-dimensional milksop at best, and often is labeled as being a mere metaphor for good overcoming evil. Either of which chaps my hide, because I saw in all of the versions of Oliver (both the book and all the movie versions) a kid who overcame evil by the sheer effort of being bull-headed enough not to give into it. I mean, he puts up with two weeks of beatings and near-starvation after being ballsy enough to ask for more, then beats up a kid twice as big as he is (Noah) and then walked 70 miles to go to London, and then, is able to resist Fagin’s wiles to become a criminal.

I love this character, so much, that I had to make him a bit of a jerk to be believable. I wanted to give show those personality traits that would present him as a real human being, and not a metaphor for goodness. So, I looked at him from as many angles as I could. I turned his ability to beat up a bigger kid into a flash paper temper, which was lot of fun. Anyone might think that Oliver was this tame housecat, but if you cross him, he will mess you up. Mention his mother in anything but glowing terms? He will try and kill you. (The latter of which is actually canon.)

I determined that Oliver had a taste for the gin; Fagin gives him at least one tumbler of gin and sugar, and so, with that being one of the first bits of alcohol Oliver has ever tasted, well. He finds he likes it. And when he drinks, different things happen. If he’s in a dark mood, he could probably find a bar fight to get into. If he’s morose (which is very likely), he might want to sing sad songs. I think that Jack recognizes early on that Oliver is fairly malleable and relaxed when he drinks, at least when Jack is in the room. So I have Jack purposefully feeding Oliver more gin and water and sugar. In the next book, the sequel to Fagin’s Boy, I hope to develop this idea even further; I’m going to write one of these scenes from Jack’s point of view and show him doing it on purpose. Right now, Oliver doesn’t have a clue.

One part of Oliver that was very fun to work with was his fussy nature. He’s particular about having enough soap and hot water, which I take as a reaction to the memory of 9 or so years being coated in grime. He likes his food and loves to eat pretty much anything; a good cook will gain his affection forever. This is also based on his memory of 9 or so years of near-starvation. If you’ve ever gone hungry, food is the last thing you would take for granted. But it makes you difficult to be around, particularly if the food isn’t up to your standards. Ever go to a restaurant with a foodie, a restaurant that you particularly liked? You’re all stoked to have your food-conscious friend enjoy the things on the menu that you want to share. But the foodie, after the first bite, goes, hmmmmm. Wouldn’t you just want to scream at that point? Well, Oliver and his fussiness make me want to scream sometimes. I aim to make him have to eat eels in the next book, just to get back at him.

To me, my characters are real. When the interviewer asked me which character was my favorite, I had to stop myself from blurting out Jack, because I knew that Oliver would find out and it would break his heart. If I said Oliver and Jack found out, Jack would just laugh. He’s got enough self-confidence to be completely unaffected by what I think of him. Anyway, since I do care about both Oliver and Jack, but in different ways (I decided this, just now) I’ve determined that I want Oliver to come into himself. To step forward, not just as the romantic, dashing figure he’d like to see himself as, but as someone who is true to himself without tying himself in knots about it. Thing is, Jack already knows this about Oliver, and he’s patient enough to see Oliver through until he gets there.

About the book
Publication Date: January 1, 2014
Blue Rain Press
Paperback; 624p
ISBN-10: 0989727300

Five years after Fagin was hanged in Newgate, Oliver Twist, at the age of seventeen, is a young man of good breeding and fine manners, living a quiet life in a corner of London. When Oliver loses his protector and guardian, he is able, with the help of Mr. Brownlow’s friends, to find employment in a well-respected haberdashery in Soho.

However, in the midst of these changes, Jack Dawkins, also known as the Artful Dodger arrives in London, freshly returned from being deported. Oliver’s own inability to let go of his past, as well as his renewed and intimate acquaintance with Jack, take him back to the life he thought he’d left behind.

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About the Author
Being a writer is not just what I do, it’s who I am. Even if everything else in the day turns sour, if I have written, then it’s still a pretty good day.

I decided I wanted to be a writer when my fourth grade teacher (Mrs. Harr) gave me a good grade on a creative writing story I’d written. And not only that, she added “I like your ending,” along with a smiley face. At that point, I was off and running. I’ve been writing and making up stories ever since.

I live in Colorado. I’ve tried to live elsewhere, but it’s always too far from my family, so I returned for good some time ago. Colorado is a brilliant location to live in as it’s not very far from either coast, and the local international airport is only an hour away.

Right beside my writing desk, I have a green arm chair and ottoman that I call The Vortex. There are two reasons I call it that. The first is that it’s always trying to suck me in and sit down and do nothing but think and read and stare at the sunlight and shadows as they dapple the walls and ceiling. The second is that once I sit down in the thing, it’s almost impossible to get up, as The Vortex keeps sucking me in.

Visit Christina Pilz’s website for more information. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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March 10, 2014

Featuring C.J. Sansom's Dominion {Giveaway}

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 About the book
1952. Twelve years have passed since Churchill lost to the appeasers and Britain surrendered to Nazi Germany. The press, radio, and television are controlled. British Jews face ever greater constraints. But Churchill’s Resistance soldiers on. As defiance grows, whispers circulate of a secret that could forever alter the balance of the global struggle. The keeper of that secret? Frank Muncaster, a scientist, who languishes in a Birmingham mental hospital. David Fitzgerald—a civil servant, a spy for the Resistance, and a university friend of Frank’s—is given the mission to rescue Frank and get him out of the country. In a spellbinding tale of suspense, DOMINION dares to explore how, in moments of crisis, history can turn on the decisions of a few brave men and women.

About the author
C.J. Sansom is the bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Matthew Shardlake series, praised by Philippa Gregory as "utterly convincing" reads, as well as the runaway international bestseller Winter in Madrid. He lives in Sussex, England.


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March 06, 2014

C. Wayne Dawson's Vienna's Last Jihad -- Guest Post and {Giveaway}

They Measured Their Wealth in Flesh
By C. Wayne Dawson

It was late morning in the village; the men had left to work in the fields. Women prepared the mid day meal as children bawled for attention.

Suddenly, hooves pounded as strange looking men rode in, leaning from horse’s backs with outstretched arms, scooping up everyone in their path. Some raiders threw torches on buildings. Mothers screamed in horror as the men carried off their children. Soon, they, too, were either lifted up or tied to one another and dragged away.

When the men of the village raced home, their families were gone. Those who returned unarmedor too soon were cut down by a hail of arrows. The village was no more.

This scene was repeated thousands of times from 1500 -1700, when the Tartars carried off two million Europeans. Ferocious descendants of Genghis Khan’s Mongol army, the Tartars rode from their home in the Crimea and depopulated huge areas from Russia to Germany. The commodity they traded in was flesh.

The captives lucky enough to survive the journey back to the Crimea were sold into slavery where they enriched their capturers.

The Tartars’ fellow Muslims, the Ottoman Turks, incorporated the Tartars into their army as scouts. The Tartars began a campaign by capturing people from an area they planned to raid and tortured them for information before killing them.

Excellent horsemen, the Tartars rode with two to four mounts at a time to swiftly cover long distances before anyone knew they arrived. Their ponies could stand motionless, making it difficult for others to know their position. And, they were skilled at swimming across swift flowing rivers, so their masters could travel where the enemy dared not.

In order to gather victims efficiently, the Tartars preferred a quick raid on a village rather than confronting armed soldiers. When the occasion called for it, however, their attacks could be deadly. They began by trilling like wolves to strike fear in their enemy. Then, they shifted tactics and retreated, encouraging their opponents to chase them. As the Christians neared, the raiders sat backward on their horses and fired arrows into their ranks. Then the Tartars lured their victims into an area where they encircled and trapped them in a crossfire.

The Tartars are the antagonists in my novel, Vienna’s Last Jihad, and take a heavy toll on the men defending Central Europe. To learn more about them, visit and look under The Battle of Vienna Blog.

About the book
Publication Date: October 20, 2013
Katy Crossing Press
Paperback; 334p
ISBN-13: 978-1490426341

Brash and brilliant, twenty year old Mathis Zieglar, Professor of Languages, faces an agonizing choice: should he fight the Turks who take his family hostage and move to destroy Vienna? Or should he betray his army to save his kin? Vienna’s Last Jihad is an historical novel set against the 1683 siege of Vienna.

Europe is balanced on a knife’s edge while Mathis, the man who holds its fate in his hands, struggles against powerful enemies: Father Sistini, a Jesuit who brands him a heretic and drags Mathis’ fiancée off to the Inquisition; a xenophobic city mob, who wants him dead for protecting a Hungarian soldier; but most dangerous of all, Captain Tyrek, a Muslim chieftain who will kill Mathis’ family unless he spies against his own army. One by one, Tyrek’s agents murder Mathis’ closest associates in an attempt to isolate him. As 138,000 Turks grind down Vienna’s 11,000 defenders with no relief in sight, Mathis’ only chance to save family and country is to use his wits, the ability to speak Tartar and the knack he learned as a child to leap, whirl, and strike.


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About the Author
C. Wayne Dawson writes for The Williamson County Sun, and has written for History Magazine, Focus On Georgetown, The Georgetown Advocate, and SAFVIC Law Enforcement Newsletter. In 2012, he founded Central Texas Authors, an author’s marketing collective.

He was an Adjunct Professor of History for ten years at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California, where he created the Chautauqua program. There, he enlisted scholars, government officials and activists to discuss and debate social policy before the student body and the media.

In 2009, the students of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society honored him with the Glaux Mentor Teacher Award for bringing the Chautauqua program to Mt. SAC.

He currently lives in Georgetown, TX with his wife and two dogs.

For more information please visit C. Wayne Dawson’s website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

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March 03, 2014

Featured: The Stolen Bride series by Eliza Knight {Giveaway}

About the series
Stolen Bride Series
Book One - The Highlander's Reward
Book Two - The Highlander's Conquest
Book Three - The Highlander's Lady
Book Four - The Highlander's Warrior Bride
Book Five - The Highlander's Triumph
Book Six - The Highlander's Sin
Book Seven - The Highlander's Temptation

The Highlander’s Reward (Book One)
Publication Date: July 19, 2012
Paperback; 262p

She belonged to another…

Lady Arbella de Mowbray abhors the idea of marrying an English noble occupying Scotland. When she reaches Stirling where she is to wed, she is thrown into the midst of a full battle between the Scots and the English. Fighting for her life, she is whisked from her horse by a warrior fighting with William Wallace who escapes with her into the Highlands.

But was destined to be his…

The last thing Laird Magnus Sutherland wants is a wife…but that is exactly what he got when he saved the beautiful English lass. Their countries are at war and they should be each other’s enemy. When she is attacked by one of his own men, he determines the only way to keep her safe is to marry her.

Magnus brings Arbella to his home of Dunrobin Castle. And that’s where the trouble begins… Neither one considered their mock marriage would grow into a deeply passionate love. What’s more, they were both unhappily betrothed and those who’ve been scorned are out for the ultimate revenge.

The Highlander’s Conquest (Book Two)
Publication Date: September 22, 2012
Paperback; 290p
What is a Highlander to do when he falls for the daughter of his enemy?

Highland warrior, Blane Sutherland, has one mission: disguise himself as an Englishman, cross the border and retrieve Lady Aliah de Mowbray. Always up for a challenge, he agrees, pursuing his conquest with vigor–and trying to deny the powerful desire that eclipses him each time he touches his charge. A rogue of the highest order and a younger son, he has nothing to offer a lady but a broken heart.

And what is a lady to do when she cannot trust her heart?

Aliah is skeptical of the English noble who has come to take her to her father and sister in Scotland, but she pushes her doubts aside. Without word in months, she must make certain her family is safe, then she can return to England to join the convent to which she has sworn to pledge her life. But then her escort reveals his true self–he’s a Highlander and his kisses are more seductive than the sweetest of wines.

Surrender never tasted so sweet…

The Highlander’s Lady (Book Three)
Publication Date: December 7, 2012
Paperback; 292p

A Highlander tamed…

Laird Daniel Murray seeks adventure, battle and freedom for his countrymen. Putting off his duties as laird–with a promise to his clan he’ll return come spring–Daniel sets off with his men to fight alongside William Wallace and the Bruce. But soon he stumbles across an enchanting lady in need. She tantalizes him with an offer he simply can’t refuse and a desire he attempts to dismiss.

A lady’s passion ignited…

Escaping near death at the treacherous hands of a nearby clan, Lady Myra must find the Bruce and relay the news of an enemy within his own camp. Alone in a world full of danger and the future of her clan at stake, she must trust the handsome, charismatic Highland laird who promises to keep her safe on her journey–and sets her heart to pounding.

Together, Daniel and Myra will risk not only their lives, but their hearts while discovering the true meaning of hope and love in a world fraught with unrest.

The Highlander’s Warrior Bride (Book Four)
Publication Date: March 29, 2013
Paperback; 272p

Their greatest opponent won’t be battled with a sword…But with their hearts…

Ronan Sutherland is a fierce warrior. Swearing off all else, he thrives on his powerful position within William Wallace’s army. Freedom for the Scots is his mission–until he meets fair Julianna. She captivates him, intoxicates him…makes him want more out of life than what harsh dangers he’s accustomed to.

Lady Julianna is no meek maiden. She’s trained in the art of war, sister to one of Scotland’s most powerful men, and tasked with keeping the future king safe. Until she’s kidnapped by a rivaling clan. Now her only hope is for the one man she trusts–and desires–to save her.

Together, they’ll have to face down one of Scotland’s most treacherous foes… And keep from falling victim to the one thing they’ve both eluded thus far–love.

The Highlander’s Triumph (Book Five)
Publication Date: June 19, 2013
Paperback; 260p

He was a warrior fighting for Scottish freedom. She was his enemy’s mistress.

Laird Brandon Sinclair has given his life to the Scottish cause. Swearing fealty to Robert the Bruce, he will stop at nothing to see oppression end.

Lady Mariana wants nothing more than to break free of the tyrannical hold the English king has on her. When he sends her to Scotland with a message for the rebels, instead of obeying his orders, she finds herself submitting to her desires. After one sizzling, life-altering night, Brandon and Mariana must part ways. But Mariana has no intention of betraying her heart again.

And Brandon is determined to get her back. Stealing Longshank’s secrets felt like victory, but taking his woman will be this Highlander’s ultimate triumph.

The Highlander’s Sin (Book Six)
Publication Date: October 23, 2013
Paperback; 290p

He stole her away… But she set him free…

They called him The Priest. Maybe because of his billowing black robes and the steel crucifix that hung around his neck. Or perhaps it was because those who met him were compelled to pray. But Duncan Mackay was anything but a saint. He was a sinner—a paid mercenary. Until he met her, and she made him want to change his ways.

Lady Heather Sutherland, has never been compelled to follow rules. And this time, she’s gone too far. Following in the footsteps of her brothers and cousins, she chooses to join the fight for Scottish freedom—and gets herself abducted by a handsome, rogue warrior, whose touch is sweet sin.

Duncan’s duty was clear—steal Heather away from Dunrobin Castle. What he didn’t expect, was to be charmed by her spirit and rocked by her fiery kiss. Now, he doesn’t want deliver her to those who hired him, instead he wants to keep her all to himself.

The Highlander’s Temptation (Book Seven)
Publication: February 2014

Desire tempted them, but love conquered all…

Laird Jamie Montgomery was a warrior with a mission. When he travels to the northern Highlands on the orders of William Wallace, temptation in the form of an alluring lass, could be his undoing.

Lady Lorna Sutherland can’t resist the charms of one irresistible Highlander. Though she’s been forbidden, she breaks every rule for the pleasure of his intoxicating embrace.

When their love is discovered, Jamie is tossed from Sutherland lands under threat of death. But danger can’t keep the two of them apart. No matter what perils may try to separate them—Lorna and Jamie swear they’ll find a way to be together.

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About the Author
Eliza Knight is the multi-published, award-winning, bestselling author of sizzling historical romance and erotic romance. While not reading, writing or researching for her latest book, she chases after her three children. In her spare time (if there is such a thing…) Eliza likes daydreaming, wine-tasting, traveling, hiking, staring at the stars, watching movies, shopping and visiting with family and friends. Being a self-proclaimed history nerd, she owns the acclaimed historical blog, History Undressed ( Eliza lives atop a small mountain, and enjoys cold winter nights when she can curl up in front of a roaring fire with her own knight in shining armor.

For more information please visit Eliza Knight’s website.

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Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance at winner's choice of a print copy (U.S. only) OR an eBook copy (International) of one of the Stolen Bride series books by Eliza Knight!

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