September 28, 2015

Judith Barrow's Living in the Shadows - Guest Post

Marital violence is as old as marriage itself. Wife beating was both widely tolerated and sanctioned by law in 18th-century England; husbands were legally entitled to strike their wives in order to ‘correct’ their conduct. So-called moderation was the watchword with one judge, Francis Buller, specifying that a husband could beat his wife with a stick so long as it was no thicker than his thumb.

Later, English law allowed women to separate from their husbands because of abuse, but did not let them get
divorced. Husbands were still allowed to abuse their spouses as long as it could not be seen. This meant abuse on the back, where clothing would cover wounds caused by abuse.

It was not until the late 1800s that men were not permitted to chastise or abuse their spouses under any circumstances, according to law.

According to law– yet it still continued

In the early to mid-twentieth century domestic violence was still viewed by some men as their right and by some women with resigned acceptance.

The following short passage is from the first book of my trilogy, Pattern of Shadows. This conversation between the protagonist, Mary Howarth, and her mother, Winifred, portrays, I think, the attitude that prevailed in the 1940s.

Just another domestic.’

 “’What is it, Mam, aren’t you feeling well?’
Her mother didn’t answer. She pushed the small pile of dust and bits of vegetable peelings onto a piece of newspaper on the floor and crushed it up, tossing it into a bucket under the sink. Straightening she moaned softly under her breath, holding her side.
Mary put an arm around her. Seeing the ugly swelling on her mother's cheek and the red-rimmed eyes she scowled. ‘Aw, Mam, not again, what was it this time?’
Winifred pushed her daughter away and turned on the tap to rinse her hands. ‘There was only me here and he had one of his moods on him. It’s Patrick really, as if we haven’t enough to worry about. He’ll have the police at the door, with all this trouble: picketing, striking, fighting the government. Your father says there’s a right way and a wrong way to tackle the bosses and your brother’s going about it all wrong.’ She wiped her hands on a piece of towelling. ‘He’s furious because it’s unofficial. You know what he’s like.’
Like a bully and a bastard. Mary gritted her teeth, holding back the words. ‘Why were you holding your side?’
‘I banged into the table when …’
‘When he hit you.’
Winifred glowered defensively at Mary. ‘It’s not his fault.’
‘Of course it’s his bloody fault. You can’t keep putting up with it, Mam.’
‘What can I do? Tell the police? ’ Winifred gave a short ironic laugh. 'Sergeant Sykes is as bad. His wife often sports a black eye.'” END QUOTE

“It’s a private, family matter.”

From the middle of the 1900s there came more reforms for women. But it was still the era of the captive wife, when most women were housebound housewives kept by a man, completely under the thumb of their husbands, whatever their class.  And no one ever talked about domestic violence; it was as if it never happened.

After World War II, studies linked growing up in an abusive home with the likelihood of criminal behaviour later in life. Most domestic batterers showed a consistent pattern of violence and manipulation for the purpose of power and control. Domestic violence was acknowledged, but treated as a private family matter.

In the sequel to Pattern of Shadows, Changing Patterns, Mary Howarth tries to persuade her friend and sister-in-law, Jean, to leave her husband– Mary’s own brother, Patrick.

“’Has Patrick actually hit you?’
Jean slid off the windowsill and stood motionless. ‘Mary ...’
‘Has he?’ She knew the answer, saw the humiliation in her friend’s eyes. She moved swiftly from the sofa and grabbed Jean’s arms. ‘You have to tell me.’
Jean lowered her head
‘Oh Jean.’ The distress merged with the rush of rage. ‘I am so sorry.’ She gathered her in her arms, frightened by the ferocity of her friend’s sobs. ‘It’ll be all right. We’ll sort something out. You can stay here as long as you want.’ Mary ignored the sudden vision of her own husband’s reaction; he’d understand when she explained. ‘As long as you want,’ she said again.
‘I can’t. I can’t leave Mother.’
‘Then move back in with her.’ The solution came with a sense of relief that shamed Mary. ‘You have to; you can’t stay with him.’
Jean shrugged her away and turned back to the window. ‘It’s not that easy. Jacqueline...’
‘Your daughter is frightened.’
‘I’ll make it right with her. Tell her she was mistaken in what she saw.’
Mary gave a cry of derision. ‘Mistaken?’
‘It was only the once. He was upset about Tom.’
‘He thumped you because of our brother? I don’t believe that. He hated Tom.’
‘He didn’t. You should have seen him, Mary, he was heartbroken.’
‘He was.’ Jean spun around to face her. ‘I should have left him alone.’ Her face crumpled. ‘I should have left him alone but I didn’t. I wanted to comfort him. I tried to hold him.’
‘So he hit you.’ Mary dragged out the words.
‘It was the first time.’
‘I don’t believe you.’
Jean flushed. ‘Then don’t, but it’s true.’ She looked out of the corner of her eye at Mary. ‘Please don’t tell your sister.’
‘Ellen already knows, I’ve told her.’ Mary folded her arms, angry her friend wanted to cover up what Patrick had done.
‘How could you? You know what she’s like about me.’
‘She has a right to know, he’s her brother too.’
‘She’ll tell all and sundry,’ Jean muttered, leaning on the windowsill.
‘She won’t ... and if she did, it’s not you who should be ashamed. It’s him.’
‘I pushed him into it. I should have left him alone,’ Jean said again.
‘Leave him, Jean. You have to.’
‘Then you’re a bloody fool.’” END QUOTE

Shelters for battered women were opened in the 1960s and men were actually prosecuted for their actions. The attitude to domestic violence over the last hundred years has, thankfully, changed drastically from resigned acceptance to complete condemnation of any bullying. In the following short passage from the last book of the trilogy, Living in the Shadows, Linda Booth, who has taken over from Mary as the protagonist, is talking to Karen Worth.

“They spoke at the same time.
‘Does Richard know what he’s like…’ she couldn’t say his name. ‘Your father?’
‘I’m sorry about my stepfather.’ Karen flushed. ‘You know, the way he—’
  ‘Your stepfather? He’s not your dad then?’ Linda was shocked by the gladness she felt; she knew how much her cousin liked this girl. Her not being George Worth’s real daughter made it easier somehow.
‘No, I’m glad to say.’ This time she looked straight at Linda. ‘He’s horrible. A bully.’
‘Well I won’t disagree there.’ Linda was surprised how calm she felt. ‘How long have your mum and him been married?’
‘Dad died when I was ten.’ Karen said. ‘George worked for him. Then, before I knew it, he was always around the house. They married…’ she stopped to think, ‘about five years ago. I can’t believe how much Mum dotes on him.’
‘Or is afraid of him?’
‘Are you frightened of him?’ It was like prodding a tooth that ached.’ Linda couldn’t help it. She watched Karen closely.

Spousal abuse is a perpetual issue that remains at the forefront of women's rights today.

Publicly, it is not acceptable.
Privately, it still goes on. 

Living in the Shadows
by Judith Barrow

Publication Date: July 16, 2015
Honno Press
eBook & Paperback; 320 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Family Saga

It’s 1969 and Mary Schormann is living quietly in Wales with her ex-POW husband, Peter, and her teenage twins, Richard and Victoria. Her niece, Linda Booth, is a nurse – following in Mary’s footsteps – and works in the maternity ward of her local hospital in Lancashire.

At the end of a long night shift, a bullying new father visits the maternity ward and brings back Linda’s darkest nightmares, her terror of being locked in. Who is this man, and why does he scare her so?

There are secrets dating back to the war that still haunt the family, and finding out what lies at their root might be the only way Linda can escape their murderous consequences.

Sequel to the acclaimed Changing Patterns and Pattern of Shadows.

Judith Barrow has lived in Pembrokeshire for thirty years. She is the author of three novels, and has published poetry and short fiction, winning several poetry competitions, as well as writing three children’s books and a play performed at the Dylan Thomas Centre. Judith grew up in the Pennines, has degrees in literature and creative writing and makes regular appearances at literary festivals.

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September 25, 2015

Spotlight on Donald Michael Platt's Bodo, The Apostate

Bodo, the Apostate
by Donald Michael Platt

Publication Date: September 29, 2014
Raven’s Wing Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction

“… in the meantime, a credible report caused all ecclesiastics of the Catholic Church to lament and weep.” Prudentius of Troyes, Annales Bertiniani, anno 839

On Ascension Day May 22, 838, Bishop Bodo, chaplain, confessor, and favorite of both his kin, Emperor Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne, and Empress Judith, caused the greatest scandal of the Carolingian Empire and the 9th century Roman Church.

Bodo, the novel, dramatizes the causes, motivations, and aftermath of Bodo’s astonishing cause célèbre that took place during an age of superstitions, a confused Roman Church, heterodoxies, lingering paganism, broken oaths, rebellions, and dissolution of the Carolingian Empire.

“In a masterfully controlled narrative, Platt builds up to this amazing moment, taking readers first through Bodo’s childhood, upbringing, and rise to power at the heart of the 9th century Carolingian Empire, whose kings, princes, prelates and ordinary people Platt captures with a pitch-perfect blend of research and dramatization. By the time the story winds its way to Bodo’s momentous decision, I, too, felt like everything in the world was on the line. A fantastic, thought-provoking novel; very enthusiastically recommended.” – Historical Novel Society (Editor’s Choice Pick)

Author of four other novels, ROCAMORA, HOUSE OF ROCAMORA, A GATHERING OF VULTURES, and CLOSE TO THE SUN, Donald Michael Platt was born and raised in San Francisco. Donald graduated from Lowell High School and received his B.A. in History from the University of California at Berkeley. After two years in the Army, Donald attended graduate school at San Jose State where he won a batch of literary awards in the annual SENATOR PHELAN LITERARY CONTEST.

Donald moved to southern California to begin his professional writing career. He sold to the TV series, MR. NOVAK, ghosted for health food guru, Dan Dale Alexander, and wrote for and with diverse producers, among them as Harry Joe Brown, Sig Schlager, Albert J. Cohen, Al Ruddy plus Paul Stader Sr, Hollywood stuntman and stunt/2nd unit director. While in Hollywood, Donald taught Creative Writing and Advanced Placement European History at Fairfax High School where he was Social Studies Department Chairman.

After living in Florianópolis, Brazil, setting of his horror novel A GATHERING OF VULTURES, pub. 2007 & 2011, he moved to Florida where he wrote as a with: VITAMIN ENRICHED, pub.1999, for Carl DeSantis, founder of Rexall Sundown Vitamins; and THE COUPLE’S DISEASE, Finding a Cure for Your Lost “Love” Life, pub. 2002, for Lawrence S. Hakim, MD, FACS, Head of Sexual Dysfunction Unit at the Cleveland Clinic.

Currently, Donald resides in Winter Haven, Florida where he is polishing a dark novel and preparing to write a sequel to CLOSE TO THE SUN.

For more information please visit Donald Michael Platt’s website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

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September 19, 2015

Spotlight on Marissa Campbell's Avelynn

by Marissa Campbell

Publication Date: September 8, 2015
St. Martin’s Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback, Hardcover
Pages: 320
ISBN13: 978-1250063939
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

One extraordinary Saxon noblewoman and one fearless Viking warrior find passion and danger in this dazzling and sensuous debut.

Marissa Campbell’s debut novel is a winning combination of romance, history, and adventure sure to appeal to fans of Diana Gabaldon.

It is 869. For eighteen years, Avelynn, the beautiful and secretly pagan daughter of the Eadlorman of Somerset has lived in an environment of love and acceptance. She hasn’t yet found a man to make her heart race, but her father has not pressured her to get married. Until now. With whispers of war threatening their land, her father forces Avelynn into a betrothal with Demas, a man who only covets her wealth and status. The dreaded marriage looming, she turns to her faith, searching for answers in an ancient ritual along the coast, only to find Alrik the Blood-Axe and sixty Viking berserkers have landed.

Alrik is unlike any man she has ever known, strong and intriguing. Likewise, he instantly falls for her beauty and courage. The two stumble into a passionate love affair, but it’s more than just a greedy suitor who will try to keep them apart.

As the Saxons and Vikings go to war, Avelynn and Alrik find themselves caught in the throes of fate. Can they be true to their people as well as to each other?


“Marissa Campbell brings a long-forgotten era splendidly to life in this adventurous and passionate debut.” – Susanna Kearsley, New York Times bestselling author

“Avelynn is a captivating tale of star-crossed lovers. He is a Viking and she is a Saxon. Their struggle to be together will lead you on an exciting journey through a background filled with rich and detailed description.” – Connie Mason, New York Times bestselling author of Viking Warrior

“Marissa Campbell’s Avelynn is a fast-paced, rollicking historical novel whose irresistible heroine starts out as the willful daughter of a Saxon earl and evolves into a warrior and leader, as fierce as she is passionate.” – Barbara Rogan, author of A Dangerous Fiction and Suspicion

“A hot-blooded tale of Viking invasion, Saxon valor, and a love that conquers kingdoms. Get ready to be bewitched by the bold, brave Avelynn.” – Barbara Kyle, author of The Queen’s Exiles

Marissa Campbell is a published freelance author, and co-author of the award-winning, spiritual self-help book Life: Living in Fulfillment Every Day.

Look for her debut historical fiction Avelynn coming September 8th, 2015, from St. Martin’s Press. Currently, hard at work on the second book in the Avelynn series, she is a proud member of the Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America, Writer’s Community of Durham Region, and local critique group B7.

When she is not writing, she is busy looking after her wonderful children, spending time with her fantastic husband, hanging out with her awesome friends, teaching yoga, dancing, laughing, and having fun!

For more information visit You can also follow Marissa Campbell on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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September 18, 2015

Spotlight on Sally Christie's The Sisters of Versailles

The Sisters of Versailles (Mistresses of Versailles, Book One)
by Sally Christie

Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Atria Books/Simon & Schuster
Formats: Ebook, Paperback
Pages: 432
ISBN-10: 1501102966
Genre: Historical Fiction


A sumptuous and sensual tale of power, romance, family, and betrayal centered around four sisters and one King. Carefully researched and ornately detailed, The Sisters of Versailles is the first book in an exciting new historical fiction trilogy about King Louis XV, France’s most “well-beloved” monarch, and the women who shared his heart and his bed.

Goodness, but sisters are a thing to fear.

Set against the lavish backdrop of the French Court in the early years of the 18th century, The Sisters of Versailles is the extraordinary tale of the five Nesle sisters: Louise, Pauline, Diane, Hortense, and Marie-Anne, four of whom became mistresses to King Louis XV. Their scandalous story is stranger than fiction but true in every shocking, amusing, and heartbreaking detail.

Court intriguers are beginning to sense that young King Louis XV, after seven years of marriage, is tiring of his Polish wife. The race is on to find a mistress for the royal bed as various factions put their best foot – and women – forward. The King’s scheming ministers push Louise, the eldest of the aristocratic Nesle sisters, into the arms of the King. Over the following decade, the four sisters:sweet, naive Louise; ambitious Pauline; complacent Diane, and cunning Marie Anne, will conspire, betray, suffer, and triumph in a desperate fight for both love and power.

In the tradition of The Other Boleyn Girl, The Sisters of Versailles is a clever, intelligent, and absorbing novel that historical fiction fans will devour. Based on meticulous research on a group of women never before written about in English, Sally Christie’s stunning debut is a complex exploration of power and sisterhood; of the admiration, competition, and even hatred that can coexist within a family when the stakes are high enough.

“A stunning breadth of period detail, offered in a fresh, contemporary voice.” —Juliet Grey, author of the acclaimed Marie Antoinette trilogy

“Sally Christie’s The Sisters of Versailles is an intriguing romp through Louis XV’s France. Filled with lush backdrops, rich detail, and colorful characters, fans of historical fiction will enjoy this glimpse into the lost golden era of the French monarchy.” – Allison Pataki, author of The Accidental Empress

I’m a life-long history buff – and I mean life-long. One of the first adult books I read was Antonia Fraser’s masterful Mary, Queen of Scots. Wow! That book just blew my little ten year old mind: something about the way it brought the past right back to life, made it live again on the page. I date my obsession with history to that time, but I’d been writing (“writing”) ever since I was able to hold a pencil.

If you’d told my 12-year old self that I’d not be a writer when I grew up, I would have laughed you out of the tree house. With a few detours along the way, to work overseas in consulting and development, as well as to go to business school, I’ve finally come full circle to where I think I should be.

I currently live in Toronto and when I’m not writing, I’m playing lots of tennis; doing random historical research (old census records are my favorite); playing Scrabble, and squirrel-watching (the room where I write has French doors leading out to a deck; I avidly follow, and feed, a scruffy gang).

For more information please visit Sally Christie’s website. You can also find her onGoodreads and Pinterest.

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September 14, 2015

Spotlight on Andy Kutler's The Other Side of Life

The Other Side of Life
by Andy Kutler

Publication Date: August 11, 2015
Neverland Publishing Company LLC
Formats: Trade Paperback and Kindle
Pages: 360
Genre: Historical Fiction

December 1941, Pearl Harbor. A peaceful Sunday morning turns into a devastating attack on American soil. Naval officer Malcolm “Mac” Kelsey is severely wounded while defending his ship. A flawed man abandoned long ago by his alcoholic wife, Kelsey has been mired in despair and hopelessness following the accidental death of Lucy, the young daughter he considers the only redemptive aspect of his life. Near the point of death, Kelsey is brought to what he believes to be an afterlife where he is offered an opportunity to shed his past memories and embark upon an alternate path in another place and time. Eager to escape his torment and begin a more tranquil existence, Kelsey accepts, only to feel quickly betrayed as he soon finds himself back in the midst of battle, this time as a Union soldier at the dawn of the Civil War.

Through Antietam, Gettysburg and four years of relentless fighting, Kelsey attempts to cast aside his painful past while trying to survive the horrors of combat. He crosses paths with compelling figures on both sides of the conflict determined to persevere and return to those they left behind. Idealistic Ethan Royston, promoted from the enlisted ranks, believes in preserving the Union but is plagued by insecurity and self-doubt. His closest friend, West Point-trained Cal Garrity, remains loyal to his home state of Virginia despite his misgivings about the virtue of the Southern cause. The war will divide these friends, just as it will divide Garrity from his adoring wife, Emily, the charismatic and headstrong daughter of a prominent Norfolk shipbuilder, forced to face the onset of war alone.

Each will endure unimaginable hardship and brutality that will forever reshape their core beliefs and values. Each will find their strength and resolve tested as they search for self-purpose, humanity, and reconciliation. Most of all, Mac Kelsey will discover the very essence of life and death, and whether the new beginning he has long coveted will bring him the inner peace he has so desperately sought.

“Employing some new twists on the novelist’s technique of time travel, Andy Kutler sends a naval officer bombed at Pearl Harbor back to the Civil War. Among his comrades in a Union cavalry regiment he absorbs the enduring values of trust, loyalty, love, and selflessness during the chaos and tragedy of a war that took place a half century before he was born. Readers will find themselves immersed in this story and captivated by its principal characters.” — James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winner author of Battle Cry of Freedom and The War That Forged a Nation

“Profound, smart, and entertaining – the path through The Other Side of Life is an amazing journey through history.” — Joe Weisberg, Creator and Executive Producer of FX’s The Americans and author of An Ordinary Spy

“Andy Kutler’s war scenes are gripping, his characters vulnerable and honest, and his story ultimately triumphant — an exciting journey back into two levels of the past.” — David Hardin, author of Emblems of Woe: How the South Reacted to Lincoln’s Murder

“The Other Side of Life imaginatively mingles brutal scenes of Civil War battlefields with thought-provoking moral issues. It describes the conflicted loyalties and sufferings of that tragic era and the spiritual growth of the book’s hero—a naval officer wounded in the Pearl Harbor attack—and those he becomes close to when he is transported to the past. The swiftmoving, compelling narrative grips the reader from first page to last.” — Bernard Weisberger, historian and author of America Afire: Adams, Jefferson, and the Revolutionary Election of 1800

“Andy Kutler has written a thoughtfully imaginative adventure across time, approaching the Civil War from a fresh perspective while creating memorable, compelling characters. The story flows beautifully and is consistently challenging.” — Ivan R. Dee, Publisher, Now and Then Reader (

Andy Kutler is a writer living in Arlington, Virginia. A native of Madison, Wisconsin and a graduate of Michigan State University (B.A.) and Georgetown University (M.A.), he has previously worked on the senior legislative staff of two United States Senators before serving as a senior policy officer with the U.S. Secret Service. He is working today as a consultant to the national security community.

While Andy’s writings have appeared in The Huffington Post and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Other Side of Life is his first novel. Andy’s interests include travel, military history, his Wisconsin sports teams, and most importantly, spending time with his wife and two children.

For more information and news please visit Andy Kutler’s Facebook page.

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September 11, 2015

Amy Stewart's Girl Waits With Gun - Spotlight and {Giveaway}


Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Formats: Ebook, Hardcover
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Drunken Botanist comes an enthralling debut novel based on the forgotten true story of one of the nation’s first female deputy sheriffs.

Constance Kopp doesn’t quite fit the mold. She towers over most men, has no interest in marriage or domestic affairs, and has been isolated from the world since a family secret sent her and her sisters into hiding fifteen years ago. One day a belligerent and powerful silk factory owner runs down their buggy, and a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their family farm. When the sheriff enlists her help in convicting the men, Constance is forced to confront her past and defend her family — and she does it in a way that few women of 1914 would have dared.

“A sheer delight to read and based on actual events, this debut historical mystery packs the unexpected, the unconventional, and a serendipitous humor into every chapter. Details from the historical record are accurately portrayed by villains and good guys alike, and readers will cross their fingers for the further adventures of Constance and Sheriff Heath. For fans of the Phryne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood, and the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mysteries by Laurie R. King.”—Booklist, starred

“Stewart crafts a solid, absorbing novel based on real-life events—though they’re unusual enough to seem invented. Stewart deftly tangles and then unwinds a complicated plot with nice period detail…More adventures involving gutsy Constance, quietly determined Sheriff Heath, and a lively cast of supporting characters would be most welcome.”—Kirkus, starred

“In her engaging first novel, Stewart (The Drunken Botanist) draws from the true story of the Kopp sisters (Constance became one of the country’s first female deputy sheriffs) and creates a welcome addition to the genre of the unconventional female sleuth. Colorful, well-drawn characters come to life on the page, and historical details are woven tightly into the narrative. The satisfying conclusion sets up an opening for future Constance Kopp novels. VERDICT: Historical fiction fans and followers of Rhys Bowen’s ‘Molly Murphy’ mysteries and Victoria Thompson’s ‘Gaslight Mystery’ series will delight in the eccentric and feisty Kopp women.”—Library Journal, starred

“A smart, romping adventure, featuring some of the most memorable and powerful female characters I’ve seen in print for a long time. I loved every page as I followed the Kopp sisters through a too-good-to-be-true (but mostly true!) tale of violence, courage, stubbornness, and resourcefulness.”—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

“How could you not fall in love with a book about one of the first female deputy sheriffs and her sisters–especially when it’s written by the enthralling Amy Stewart? Full of long-held secrets, kicked-up dust, simmering danger, and oh yes, that gun—this gritty romp illuminates one of history’s strongest women with a hold-your-breath panache.”—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You

“Girl Waits With Gun makes excellent use of history to put a fresh spin on classic cop-and-crook types. Amy Stewart’s true-life protagonist is a ‘rough and tumble’ version of the early 20th century’s New Woman. She is witty, sharply-drawn, and suffers no fools!”—Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist

“Yowza! Amy Stewart’s debut boasts pomaded gangsters, pistol-packin’ dames, kidnappings, shots in the dark, and everything from Girls Gone Wrong to carrier pigeons finding their way home. You might want to stay up all night reading, you might want to lie down on your fainting couch with a cool cloth on your forehead. Either way, you’ll have the time of your life.” —Robert Goolrick, New York Times bestselling author of A Reliable Wife

“Girl Waits with Gun is fresh, funny and utterly compelling– and Constance Kopp and her sisters are not just great investigators, but completely original women. It was a blast from start to finish and I can’t wait to see what Deputy Kopp gets up to next.”— Lisa Lutz, author of The Spellman Files, How to Start a Fire, and others

“Amy Stewart has crafted the best kind of historical novel; she uncovers an intriguing, all-but-forgotten historical nugget and spins it into a wildly entertaining tale with an engaging, tough-minded heroine. Girl Waits With Gun hits the bulls-eye.”—Daniel Stashower, author of The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War

“Amy Stewart’s debut novel Girl Waits With Gun is an irresistible and thoroughly enjoyable book, a suspenseful historical mystery spiced with marvelous characters, wit, and humor. Is it too soon to beg for a sequel?” —Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule

“Engaging, lively, and substantive, Girl Waits with Gun is a perfect mystery, and the Kopp sisters are my new best friends. Amy Stewart writes about crime as well as she writes about plants and poisons. I loved this book, and will be first in line for the next installment.”—Sara Gran, author of Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway

Amy Stewart is the author of seven books. Her latest, Girl Waits With Gun, is a novel based on a true story. She has also written six nonfiction books on the perils and pleasures of the natural world, including four New York Times bestsellers: The Drunken Botanist, Wicked Bugs, Wicked Plants, and Flower Confidential. She lives in Eureka, California, with her husband Scott Brown, who is a rare book dealer. They own a bookstore called Eureka Books. The store is housed in a classic nineteenth-century Victorian building that Amy very much hopes is haunted.

Stewart has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and many other newspapers and magazines, and has appeared frequently on National Public Radio, CBS Sunday Morning, and–just once–on TLC’s Cake Boss. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the American Horticulture Society’s Book Award, and an International Association of Culinary Professionals Food Writing Award.

For more information visit Amy Stewart’s website. You can also find her onFacebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

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GIVEAWAY: One paperback copy. Open to US residents only. To enter, leave a comment telling us what intrigues you about this book. Last day to enter - September 25, 2015.

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September 09, 2015

Hilary Rhodes' The Outlander King - Excerpt

The Outlander King (The Aetheling’s Bride, Book 1)
by Hilary Rhodes

The riders had now drawn even closer. They trotted alongside the stream, vanished briefly, and emerged alarmingly near on the other side. At this, curiosity at last sharpened into fear. I scrambled along the mossy ledge and hid myself in the boulders that formed the steep northern face of the tor.

This was done not a moment too soon. I dared a look, and saw that they were filing under the ledge, directly beneath me. Perhaps fifty, fighting men all, and a further ten or so horse behind them, laden with packs and supplies. The men were clad in dirty hauberks and helmets, longbows, swords, and kiteshaped shields strapped to their saddles. Their banners materialised through the fog like blooms of blood: rust-red, two golden lions rampant, tails lashing and claws raised.

I did not move. I knew what men might do to a maid, if they came upon her a sudden with battle still fresh in their minds. They had drawn to a halt, and horse whinnied almost in my ear, startling me badly. I bit my tongue, then bit it again when, in a sudden, clear voice, the leader spoke. His words were in a language I did not understand, although his tone was fiery. But I did understand the result. They laughed, and a roar went up.

The leader stood in his saddle to look down the valley: the huddled crofts, the bare terraces, and the rocks lining the muddy cart track. He surveyed it with a vicious, acquisitive pride, as if seeing it the first time. He must have been. The alien tongue had been my indication, but even without it, I would have known he was no Saxon. His shoulders were broad, his bearing majestic, and he wore a scaled-leather cuirass over his mail hauberk. His hair was rich gold, crowned by a dirty silver circlet. His nose was long, his cheekbones high. I could not tell what colour his eyes were.

I was still cautious, but curious. Abandoning my protected position, I inched forward. I was certain I did not make a sound, or move too quickly, but he saw me nonetheless. He lifted his head sharply, and gazed straight into my face.

His eyes were grey. The grey of beaten silver, living water. There was something wild in them – neither cruel nor merciful – and I knew then that this was it. He was going to call to me, bid me answer what a lone woman was doing out so far. And if I could not, he would set on me. But he merely considered me a moment more, then shook his head, and our gaze was broken. I lingered as if frozen, then jerked back behind the boulders.

He gathered the reins, and gave a light click to his horse. Immediately, the host behind him gave spur to their mounts as well, and they rumbled off toward the mill bridge. It was only when they had gone, and as I watched the dust settle, did it strike me who that man was. I had just looked into the eyes of the new King of England.

Publication Date: June 1, 2015
eBook; 476 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

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The story of The Lion and the Rose and the Norman Conquest continues in this spellbinding new historical fiction series from author Hilary Rhodes, pulling back the curtain on the lives of two remarkable women connected across centuries: Aislinn, a seventeen-year-old English girl caught up in the advancing army of the “outlander king,” the man who will become known to history as William the Conqueror. Thrust into the center of the new Norman court and a dizzying web of political intrigue and plotting princes, she must choose her alliances carefully in a game of thrones where the stakes are unimaginably high. Embroiled in rebellions and betrayals, Aislinn learns the price of loyalty, struggles to find her home, and save those she loves – and, perhaps, her own soul as well.

Almost nine hundred years later in 1987, Selma Murray, an American graduate student at Oxford University, is researching the mysterious “Aethelinga” manuscript, as Aislinn’s chronicle has come to be known. Trying to work out the riddles of someone else’s past is a way for Selma to dodge her own troubling ghosts – yet the two are becoming inextricably intertwined. She must face her own demons, answer Aislinn’s questions, and find forgiveness – for herself and others – in this epically scaled but intimately examined, extensively researched look at the creation of history, the universality of humanity, and the many faces it has worn no matter the century: loss, grief, guilt, redemption, and love.

Hilary Rhodes is a scholar, author, blogger, and all-around geek who fell in love with medieval England while spending a year abroad at Oxford University. She holds a B.A. and M.A. in history, and is currently preparing for doctoral studies at the University of Leeds, fulfilling a years-long dream to return to the UK. In what little spare time she has, she enjoys reading, blogging about her favorite TV shows, movies, and books, music, and traveling.

For more information please visit Hilary Rhodes’ blog.

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