Friday, October 24, 2014

Book Alert: The Secrets of Casanova by Greg Michaels

Be sure to check out the book tour schedule, there are some giveaways and guestposts.

 2014 Nancy Pearl Award Winner for Fiction

Loosely based on the life of Jacques Casanova, The Secrets of Casanova is a rich, lush novel of love, sex, family, ambition, intrigue, and adventure. Set in Paris of 1755, Casanova’s luck is fading and his past is shoving up against his present with potentially disastrous consequences. What price must he pay to uncover a treasure of inestimable value? What hearts must he break along the way? 
Casanova’s will and destiny collide again and again in this riveting historical fiction that brings to light a man of great passion and not a few secrets.

 Publication Date: October 21, 2013
Booktrope Editions
Formats: eBook Paperback; 334p
Genre: Historical Fiction


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Praise for The Secrets of Casanova

“A Shakespearean actor with a flair for the dramatic and a superb ear for dialogue, Michaels’s debut novel puts a brilliantly original spin on an historical figure whose very name is a cliché. This Casanova must wrestle not only with falling hopelessly and passionately in love, but embarking on a mysterious quest that is as much a spiritual awakening as a swashbuckling adventure. The Secrets of Casanova is so erotic and so sensitively written, I found it difficult to believe its author was a man.” -Robin Maxwell, national best-selling author of The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn

 

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After receiving his B.A. in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin, a chance experience thrust Greg into a career as a professional actor and fight director. To date he’s acted in over fifty theater productions, more than forty television shows, and choreographed dozens of swordfights for stage and screen.

 In THE SECRETS OF CASANOVA, Greg again proves his skill at telling a theatrical story. He lives with his wife, two sons, and Andy the hamster.

For more information please visit Greg Michaels’s website.

 Like The Secrets of Casanova Facebook Page. Follow Greg Michaels on Twitter.

 

Monday, October 13
Review at Bookish
Tuesday, October 14
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Review at With Her Nose Stick in a Book
Spotlight & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, October 15
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Obsession
Thursday, October 16
Review & Interview at Carpe Librum
Spotlight at Historical Tapestry
Friday, October 17
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Monday, October 20
Review at A Book Geek
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, October 21
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Spotlight & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, October 22
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Review at Good Friends, Good Books and a Sleepy Conscience
Guest Post at Mina’s Bookshelf
Thursday, October 23
Review at Beth’s Book Reviews
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Friday, October 24
Review at Book Nerd
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Spotlight: Music for My Soul by Lauren Linwood

As the third wife of an abusive French vineyard owner, Madeleine Bouchard hasn’t produced the expected heir after three years of marriage. Fearing he plans to kill her, she flees during a trip to England. Unable to make her way home, she joins a troupe of traveling mummers and reinvents herself as the only woman troubadour in the land, captivating audiences with both song and story.

Nobleman Garrett Montayne’s fascination with Madeleine causes him to pay the troupe to bypass their next stop in order to journey to his estate. Though he suspects Madeleine of being a thief with dark secrets, love blossoms between them under the magical moon of summer solstice.

But Madeleine’s past is about to catch up with her, as her husband is set to arrive to conduct business with Garrett. Madeleine determines to free herself from her loveless marriage and make a new life with Garrett, no matter what the cost.

Publication Date: May 15, 2013
Soul Mate Publishing
Formats: eBook, Paperback
# of Pages: 282
Genre: Historical Romance
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Amazon UK
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Book Depository
IndieBound

 

Praise for Music For My Soul

“Told with humor, heartache, loveable characters and plenty of adventure, this is a story that grabs your attention from the first page and holds you captive until the very end. Much like real life, MUSIC FOR MY SOUL is a mixture of ups and downs along with a few surprises thrown in just to keep you on your toes.” -Romance Junkies, Reviewer Chrissy Dionne

“This story takes a wonderful turn into the seldom explored topic of the life of traveling mummers and musicians. Placing the heroine between the line of aristocracy and commonality is also a stroke of creative genius that makes for a delightful breath of fresh reading air! The characters are created and developed with a fine touch, making the story both believable and enjoyable.” -InD’tale Magazine, Reviewer Ruth Lynn Ritter

“This is a marvelous and intricate story of desperation, escape, finding love…also of forgiveness,mystery, danger, and righting old wrongs! The tale is incredibly well told with some humor as well as a building romance. The characters are loveable, some you can hate, and some are comic…a little bit of everything! Lauren Linwood is a wonderful writer with a fantastic imagination. I hope this is only the beginning of many wonderful tales. Believe me, it’s hard to put this one down. I found myself awake until the wee hours of the morning because I just had to know what was going to happen!” -The Reading Café, Reviewer Georgianna S

Lauren Linwood became a teacher who wrote on the side to maintain her sanity in a sea of teenage hormones. Her romances use history as a backdrop to place her characters in extraordinary circumstances, where their intense desire and yearning for one another grow into the deep, tender, treasured gift of love.
Lauren, a native Texan, lives in a Dallas suburb with her family. An avid reader, moviegoer, and sports fan, she manages stress by alternating yoga with five mile walks. She is thinking about starting a support group for Pinterest and House Hunters addicts.

For more information please visit Lauren’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.



Music for My Soul Blog Tour Schedule


Monday, October 6
Interview at Mythical Books
Tuesday, October 7
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, October 8
Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing
Thursday, October 9
Spotlight at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Friday, October 10
Review at Tea and Inspiration
Tuesday, October 14
Spotlight & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection
Thursday, October 16
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Friday, October 17
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Saturday, October 18
Review at A Cup of Tea & A Big Book
Thursday, October 23
Review at The Lit Bitch
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter
Friday, October 24
Review at Devilishly Delicious Book Blog
Guest Post at Historical Romantic Lovers


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Review & Giveaway: Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn

New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn returns with a Jazz Age tale of grand adventure…

On the verge of a stilted life as an aristocrat’s wife, Poppy Hammond does the only sensible thing—she flees the chapel in her wedding gown. Assisted by the handsome curate who calls himself Sebastian Cantrip, she spirits away to her estranged father’s quiet country village, pursued by the family she left in uproar. But when the dust of her broken engagement settles and Sebastian disappears under mysterious circumstances, Poppy discovers there is more to her hero than it seems.

With only her feisty lady’s maid for company, Poppy secures employment and travels incognita—east across the seas, chasing a hunch and the whisper of clues. Danger abounds beneath the canopies of the silken city, and Poppy finds herself in the perilous sights of those who will stop at nothing to recover a fabled ancient treasure. Torn between allegiance to her kindly employer and a dashing, shadowy figure, Poppy will risk it all as she attempts to unravel a much larger plan—one that stretches to the very heart of the British government, and one that could endanger everything, and everyone, that she holds dear.

Publication Date: October 1, 2014
Harlequin MIRA
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction
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*****

 "I had a habit of engaging in what Mother called Inappropriate Conversation.  The trouble was, I never realized I was doing it until after the fact. I was always far too busy enjoying myself."

I've never read anything  by Deanna Raybourn before, realizing her Lady Julia Grey was a series I shied away from them, seriously I really don't need to start another series. I jumped at the chance to be part of this book tour, especially since this is a stand alone and I really wanted to check this author out.

Be sure to read my previous post, which is an excerpt from this book.  Poppy Hammond is a character, she is spunky, snarky at times and there is never a dull moment when she is around.  I won't do a play by play as to what happens in this book except to say that once she escapes her wedding she is off to the Middle East in search of her rescuer.

I loved the authors writing style.  The bantering conversations were so real and had me laughing out loud many a time.  Action scenes weren't choppy, her descriptive settings were vivid and realistic, there was no problem visualizing the settings.

I was thoroughly entertained with this book right from the get go, I was drawn in and engaged right to the end.  Forget what I said at the beginning of this reviews about not wanting to start another series, Silent from the Grave is already loaded on my kindle.

"There was an element of game to it all, like a chess match with an unseen opponent, pitting one's wits against another's.  But there would be no civilized handshake at the end of this, no cordial goodbyes.  There would be winners and losers, and the the stakes were death."

Buy the Book

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Amazon (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble (Nook)
Barnes & Noble (Paperback)
Books-a-Million
iTunes
Kobo

A sixth-generation native Texan, Deanna Raybourn grew up in San Antonio, where she met her college sweetheart. She married him on her graduation day and went on to teach high school English and history. During summer vacation at the age of twenty-three, she wrote her first novel. After three years as a teacher, Deanna left education to have a baby and pursue writing full-time.

Deanna Raybourn is the author of the bestselling and award-winning Lady Julia series, as well as, The Dead Travel Fast, A Spear of Summer Grass, and City of Jasmine.

For more information please visit Deanna Raybourn’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

 

  Night of a Thousand Stars Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 29
Review & Giveaway at Bookish
Tuesday, September 30
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, October 1
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Spotlight at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Thursday, October 2
Review at Ramblings From This Chick
Friday, October 3
Review at Book Babe
Monday, October 6
Review at Unabridged Chick
Spotlight & Giveaway at Reading Lark
Tuesday, October 7
Review at Candace’s Book Blog
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, October 8
Review at Good Books and Good Wine
Thursday, October 9
Excerpt at A Book Geek
Guest Post & Giveaway at Good Books and Good Wine
Friday, October 10
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Monday, October 13
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, October 14
Review at Reading the Past
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Wednesday, October 15
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Thursday, October 16
Review at A Bookish Affair
Friday, October 17
Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Monday, October 20
Review at The Life & Times of a Book Addict
Excerpt at Historical Fiction Connection
Tuesday, October 21
Review & Giveaway at Bookshelf Fantasies
Spotlight & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing
Wednesday, October 22
Review, Excerpt & Giveaway at Just One More Chapter
Thursday, October 23
Review at Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Friday, October 24
Review at Curling Up By the Fire
Monday, October 27
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Tuesday, October 28
Review at To Read or Not to Read
Wednesday, October 29
Review & Giveaway at Bibliophilia, Please
Thursday, October 30
Review & Giveaway at Historical Tapestry

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Excerpt: Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn

Grab yourself a cup of tea, put you feet up and read this excerpt (links to purchase are at the end, because you will want to read the rest of the book when you finish :)



March 1920

“I say, if you’re running away from your wedding, you’re going about it quite wrong.”

I paused with my leg out the window, satin wedding gown hitched up above my knees. A layer of tulle floated over my face, obscuring my view. I shoved it aside to find a tall, bespectacled young man standing behind me. His expression was serious, but there was an unmistakable gleam in his eyes that was distinctly at odds with his clerical garb.
 “Oh! Are you the curate? I know you can’t be the vicar. I met him last night at the rehearsal and he’s simply ancient. Looks like Methuselah’s godfather. You’re awfully young to be a priest, aren’t you?” I asked, narrowing my eyes at him.
“But I’m wearing a dog collar. I must be,” he protested. “And as I said, if you’re running away, you’ve gone about it quite stupidly.”
“I have not,” I returned hotly. “I managed to elude both my mother and my future mother-in-law, and if you think that was easy, I’d like to sell you a bridge in Brooklyn.”
“Brooklyn? Where on earth is that?”
I rolled my eyes heavenward. “New York. Where I live.”
“You can’t be American. You speak properly.”
“My parents are English and I was educated here—oh, criminy, I don’t have time for this!” I pushed my head out the window, but to my intense irritation, he pulled me back, his large hands gently crushing the puffed sleeves of my gown.
“You haven’t thought this through, have you? You can get out the window easily enough, but what then? You can’t exactly hop on the Underground dressed like that. And have you money for a cab?”
“I—” I snapped my mouth shut, thinking furiously. “No, I haven’t. I thought I’d just get away first and worry about the rest of it later.”
“As I said, not a very good plan. Where are you bound, anyway?”
I said nothing. My escape plan was not so much a plan as a desperate flight from the church as soon as I heard the organist warming up the Mendelssohn. I was beginning to see the flaw in that thinking thanks to the helpful curate. “Surely you don’t intend to go back to the hotel?” he went on. “All your friends and relations will go there straight away when they realise you’ve gone missing. And since your stepfather is Reginald Hammond—”
I brandished my bouquet at him, flowers snapping on their slender stems. “Don’t finish that sentence, I beg you. I know exactly what will happen if the newspapers get hold of the story. Fine. I need a place to lie low, and I have one, I think, but I will need a ride.” I stared him down. “Do you have a motorcar?”
He looked startled. “Well, yes, but—”
“Excellent. You can drive me.”
“See here, Miss Hammond, I don’t usually make a habit of helping runaway brides to abscond. After all, from what I hear Mr. Madderley is a perfectly nice fellow. You might be making a frightful mistake, and how would it look to the bishop if I aided and abetted—”
“Never mind!” I said irritably. I poked my head through the window again, and this time when he retrieved me he was almost smiling, although a slim line of worry still threaded between his brows.
“All right then, I surrender. Where are you going?”
I pointed in the direction I thought might be west. “To Devon.”
He raised his brows skyward. “You don’t ask for much, do you?”
“I’ll go on my own then,” I told him, setting my chin firmly. Exactly how, I had no idea, but I could always think of that later.
He seemed to be wrestling with something, but a sound at the door decided him. “Time to get on. My motorcar is parked just in the next street. I’ll drive you to Devon.”
I gave him what I hoped was a dazzling smile. “Oh, you are a lamb, the absolute bee’s knees!”
“No, I’m not. But we won’t quarrel about that now. I locked the door behind me but someone’s rattling the knob, and I give them about two minutes before they find the key. Out you go, Miss Hammond.”
Without a further word, he shoved me lightly through the window and I landed in the shrubbery. I smothered a few choice words as I bounced out of his way. He vaulted over the windowsill and landed on his feet—quite athletically for a clergyman.
“That was completely uncalled-for—” I began, furiously plucking leaves out of the veil.
He grabbed my hand and I stopped talking, as surprised by the gesture as the warmth of his hand.
“Come along, Miss Hammond. I think I hear your mother,” he said.
I gave a little shriek and began to run. At the last moment, I remembered the bouquet—a heavy, spidery affair of lilies and ivy that I detested. I flung it behind us, laughing as I ran.


“I shouldn’t have laughed,” I said mournfully. We were in the motorcar—a chic little affair painted a startling shade of bright blue—and the curate was weaving his way nimbly through the London traffic. He seemed to be listening with only half an ear.
“What was that?”
“I said I shouldn’t have laughed. I mean, I feel relieved, enormously so, if I’m honest, but then there’s Gerald. One does feel badly about Gerald.”
“Why? Will you break his heart?”
“What an absurd question,” I said, shoving aside the veil so I could look the curate fully in the face. “And what a rude one.” I lapsed into near-silence, muttering to myself as I unpicked the pins that held the veil in place. “I don’t know,” I said after a while. “I mean, Gerald is so guarded, so English, it’s impossible to tell. He might be gutted. But he might not. He’s just such a practical fellow—do you understand? Sometimes I had the feeling he had simply ticked me off a list.”
“A list?” The curate dodged the little motorcar around an idling lorry, causing a cart driver to abuse him loudly. He waved a vague apology and motored on. For a curate, he drove with considerable flair.
“Yes. You know—the list of things all proper English gentlemen are expected to do. Go to school, meet a suitable girl, get married, father an heir and a spare, shoot things, die quietly.”
“Sounds rather grim when you put it like that.”
“It is grim, literally so in Gerald’s case. He has a shooting lodge in Norfolk called Grimfield. It’s the most appalling house I’ve ever seen, like something out of a Brontë novel. I half expected to find a mad wife locked up in the attic or Heathcliff abusing someone in the stables.”
“Did you?”
“No, thank heaven. Nothing but furniture in the attic and horses in the stables. Rather disappointingly prosaic, as it happens. But the point is, men like Gerald have their lives already laid out for them in a tidy little pattern. And I’m, well, I’m simply not tidy.” I glanced at the interior of the motorcar. Books and discarded wellies fought for space with a spare overcoat and crumpled bits of greaseproof paper—the remains of many sandwich suppers, it seemed. “You’re untidy too, I’m glad to see. I always think a little disorder means a creative mind. And I have dreams of my own, you know.” I paused then hurried on, hoping he wouldn’t think to ask what those dreams might be. I couldn’t explain them to him; I didn’t even understand them myself. “I realised with Gerald, my life would always take second place. I would be his wife, and eventually Viscountess Madderley, and then I would die. In the meantime I would open fêtes and have his children and perhaps hold a memorable dinner party or two, but what else? Nothing. I would have walked into that church today as Penelope Hammond and walked out as the Honourable Mrs. Gerald Madderley, and no one would have remembered me except as a footnote in the chronicles of the Madderley family.”
“Quite the existential crisis,” he said lightly. I nodded.
“Precisely. I’m very glad you understand these things.” I looked around again. “I don’t suppose you have a cigarette lying about anywhere? I'd very much like one.”
He gestured towards the glovebox and I helped myself. As soon as I opened it, an avalanche of business cards, tickets, receipts and even a prayer book fell out. I waved a slip of paper at him. “You haven’t paid your garage bill,” I told him. “Second notice.”
He smiled and pocketed the paper. “Slipped my mind. I’ll take care of it tomorrow.”
I shoveled the rest of the detritus back into the glovebox, and he produced a packet of matches. I lit a cigarette and settled back then gave a little shriek of dismay. “Heavens, where are my manners? I forgot to ask if you wanted one.”
He shook his head. “I don’t indulge.”
I cocked my head. “But you keep them around?”
“One never knows when they’ll be in demand,” he said. "How long have you had the habit?"
"Oh, I don't. It just seems the sort of thing a runaway bride ought to do. I'll be notorious now, you know."
        I gave the unlit cigarette a sniff. "Heavens, that's foul. I think I shall have to find a different vice." I dropped the cigarette back into the packet.
        He smiled but said nothing and we lapsed into a comfortable silence.
I studied him—from the unlined, rather noble brow to the shabby, oversized suit of clothes with the shiny knees and the unpolished shoes. There was something improbable about him, as if in looking at him one could add two and two and never make four. There was an occasional, just occasional, flash from his dark eyes that put me in mind of a buccaneer. He was broad-shouldered and athletic, but the spectacles and occupation hinted he was bookish.
There were other contradictions as well, I observed. Being a curate clearly didn’t pay well, but the car was mint. Perhaps he came from family money, I surmised. Or perhaps he had a secret gambling habit. I gave him a piercing look. “You don’t smoke. Do you have other vices? Secret sins? I adore secrets.”
Another fellow might have taken offence but he merely laughed. “None worth talking about. Besides, we were discussing you. Tell me,” he said, smoothly negotiating a roundabout and shooting the motorcar out onto the road towards Devon, “What prompted this examination of your feelings? It couldn’t be just the thought of marrying him. You’ve had months to accustom yourself to the notion of being the future Viscountess Madderley. Why bolt now?”
I hesitated, feeling my cheeks grow warm. “Well, I might as well tell you. You are a priest, after all. It would be nice to talk about it, and since you’re bound by the confessional, it would be perfectly safe to tell you because if you ever tell anyone you’ll be damned forever.”
His lips twitched as if he were suppressing a smile. “That isn’t exactly how it works, you know.”
I flapped a hand. “Close enough. I always had doubts about Gerald, if I’m honest. Ever since he asked me to dance at the Crichlows’ Christmas ball during the little season. He was just so staid, as if someone had washed him in starch rather than his clothes. But there were flashes of something more. Wit or kindness or gentleness, I suppose. Things I thought I could bring out in him.” I darted the curate a glance. “I see now how impossibly stupid that was. You can’t change a man. Not unless he wants changing, and what man wants changing? The closer the wedding got, the more nervous I became and I couldn’t imagine why I wasn’t entirely over the moon about marrying Gerald. And then my aunt sent me a book that made everything so clear.”
“What book?”
“Mrs. Stopes’ book, Married Love.”
“Oh, God.” He swerved and neatly corrected, but not before I gave him a searching look.
“I’ve shocked you.” Most people had heard of the book, but few had read it. It had been extensively banned for its forthright language and extremely modern—some would say indecent—ideas.
He hurried to reassure me. “No, no. Your aunt shocked me. I wouldn’t imagine most ladies would send an affianced bride such a book.”
“My aunt isn’t most ladies,” I said darkly. “She’s my father’s sister, and they’re all eccentric. They’re famous for it, and because they’re aristocrats, no one seems to mind. Of course, Mother nearly had an apoplexy when she found the book, but I’d already read it by that point, and I knew what I had to do.”
“And what was that?”
“I had to seduce Gerald.”
This time the curate clipped the edge of a kerb, bouncing us hard before he recovered himself and steered the motorcar back onto the road.
“I shocked you again,” I said sadly.
“Not in the slightest,” he assured me, his voice slightly strangled. He cleared his throat, adopting a distinctly paternal tone in spite of his youth. “Go on, child.”
“Well, it was rather more difficult to arrange than I’d expected. No one seems to want to leave you alone when you’re betrothed, which is rather silly because whatever you get up to can’t be all that bad because you’re with the person you’re going to be getting up to it with once you’re married, and it’s all right then. And isn’t it peculiar that just because a priest says a few words over your head, the thing that was sinful and wrong is suddenly perfectly all right? No offence to present company.”
“None taken. It does indeed give one pause for thought. You were saying?”
“Oh, the arrangements. Well, I couldn’t manage it until a fortnight ago. By that time I was fairly seething with impatience. I’m sorry—did you say something?”
“Not at all. It was the mental image of you seething with impatience. It was rather distracting.”
“Oh, I am sorry. Should we postpone this discussion for another time? When you’re not driving perhaps?”
“No, indeed. I promise you this is the most interesting discussion I’ve had in a very long while.”
“And you’re still not shocked?” I asked him. I was feeling a bit anxious on that point. I had a habit of engaging in what Mother called Inappropriate Conversation. The trouble was, I never realised I was doing it until after the fact. I was always far too busy enjoying myself.
“Not in the slightest. Continue—you were seething.”
“Yes, I was in an absolute fever, I was so anxious. We were invited to the Madderleys’ main estate in Kent—a sort of ‘getting to know you’ affair between the Madderleys and the Hammonds. It was very gracious of Gerald’s mother to suggest it, although now that I think about it, it wasn’t so much about the families getting to know one another as about the viscount and my stepfather discussing the drains and the roofs and how far my dowry would go to repairing it all.”
I stopped to finish unpinning the veil and pulled it free, tearing the lace a little in my haste. I shoved my hands through my hair, ruffling up my curls and giving a profound sigh. “Oh, that’s better! Pity about the veil. That’s Belgian lace, you know. Made by nuns, although why nuns should want to make bridal veils is beyond me. Anyway, the gentlemen were discussing the money my dowry would bring to the estate, and the ladies were going on about the children we were going to have and what would be expected of me as the future viscountess. Do you know Gerald’s mother even hired my lady’s maid? Masterman, frightful creature. I’m terrified of her—she’s so efficient and correct. Anyway, I suddenly realised that was going to be the rest of my life—doing what was perfectly proper at all times and bearing just the right number of children—and I was so bored with it all I nearly threw myself in front of a train like Anna Karenina just to be done with it. I couldn’t imagine actually living in that draughty great pile of stone, eating off the same china the Madderleys have been using since the time of Queen Anne. But I thought it would all be bearable if Gerald and I were compatible in the Art of Love.”
“The Art of Love?”
“That’s what Mrs. Stopes called it in Married Love. She says that no matter what differences a couple might have in religion or politics or social customs, if they are compatible in the Art of Love, all may be adjusted.”
“I see.” He sounded strangled again.
“So, one night after everyone had retired, I crept to Gerald’s room and insisted we discover if we were mutually compatible.”
“And were you?
“No,” I said flatly. “I thought it was my fault at first. But I chose the date so carefully to make sure my sex-tide would be at its highest.”
“Your sex-tide?”
“Yes. Really, you ought to know these things if you mean to counsel your parishioners. The achievement of perfect marital harmony only comes with an understanding of the sex-tides—the ebb and flow of a person’s desires and inclinations for physical pleasure.”
He cleared his throat lavishly. “Oh, the sex-tides. Of course.”
“In any event, Gerald and I were most definitely not compatible.” I paused then plunged on. “To begin with, he wouldn’t even take off his pyjamas when we were engaged in the Act of Love.”
The curate’s lips twitched into a small smile. “Now that shocks me.”
“Doesn’t it? What sort of man wants a barrier of cloth between himself and the skin of his beloved? I have read the Song of Solomon, you know. It’s a very informative piece of literature and it was quite explicit with all the talk of breasts like twin fawns and eating of the secret honeycomb and honey. I presume you’ve read the Song of Solomon? It is in the Bible, after all.”
“It is,” he agreed. “Quite the most interesting book, if you ask me.” Again there was a flash of something wicked as he shot me a quick look. “So, was your betrothed a young god with legs like pillars of marble and a body like polished ivory?”
I pulled a face. “He was not. That was a very great disappointment, let me tell you. And then it was over with so quickly—I mean, I scarcely had time to get accustomed to the strangeness of it because, let’s be frank, there is something so frightfully silly about doing that, although you probably don’t know yourself, being a member of the clergy and all. But before I could quite get a handle on things, it was finished.”
“Finished?” he said, his hands tight on the steering wheel.
“Finished. At least, Gerald was,” I added sulkily. “He gave a great shudder and made an odd sort of squeaking sound.”
“Squeaking sound?”
“Yes.” I tipped my head, thinking. “Like a rabbit that’s just seen a fox. And then he rolled over and went to sleep just like that.”
“Philistine,” he pronounced.
“Then you do understand! How important the physical side of marriage is, I mean. Particularly with a husband like Gerald. One would need a satisfactory time in the bedroom to make up for—” I clapped a hand to my mouth. He smiled then, indulgently, and I dropped my hand, but I still felt abashed. “Oh, that was unkind. Gerald has many sterling attributes. Sterling,” I assured him.
Sterling is what one wants out of one’s silver. Not a husband,” he said mildly.
I sighed in contentment. “You are good at this. You understand. And you haven’t made me feel guilty over the sin of it, although you mustn’t tell anyone, but I don’t really believe in sin at all. I know that’s a wicked thing to say, but I think all God really expects is a little common sense and kindness out of us. Surely He’s too busy to keep a tally of all our misdeeds. That would make Him nothing more than a sort of junior clerk with a very important sense of Himself, wouldn’t it?”
“I suppose.”
“Oh, I know you can’t agree with me. You make your career on sin, just as much as anybody who sells liquor or naughty photographs. Sin is your bread and butter.”
“You have a unique way of looking at the world, Miss Hammond.”
“I think it’s because I’ve been so much on my own,” I told him after a moment. “I’ve had a lot of time to think things over.”
“Why have you been so much on your own?” he asked. His voice was gentler than it had been, and the air of perpetual amusement had been replaced by something kinder, and it seemed as if he were genuinely interested. It was a novel situation for me. Most people who wanted to talk to me did so because of my stepfather’s money.
“Oh, didn’t you know? Apparently it was a bit of a scandal at the time. It was in all the newspapers and of course they raked it all up again when I became engaged to Gerald. My parents divorced, and Mother took me to America when she left my father. I was an infant at the time, and apparently he let her take me because he knew it would utterly break her heart to leave me behind. He stayed in England and she went off to America We’re practically strangers, Father and I. He’s always been a bit of a sore spot to Mother, even though she did quite well out of it all. She married Mr. Hammond—Reginald. He’s a lovely man, but rather too interested in golf.”
“Lots of gentlemen play,” he remarked. His hands were relaxed again, and he opened the car up a little, guiding it expertly as we fairly flew down the road.
“Oh, Reginald doesn’t just play. He builds golf courses. Designing them amuses him, and after he made his millions in copper, he decided to travel around the world, building golf courses. Places like Florida, the Bahamas. He’s quite mad about the game—he even named his yacht the Gutta-Percha, even though no one uses gutta-percha balls anymore.”
He shook his head as if to clear it and I gave him a sympathetic look. “Do you need me to read maps or something? It must be fatiguing to drive all this way.”
“The conversation is keeping me entirely alert,” he promised.
“Oh, good. Where was I?”
“Reginald Hammond doesn’t have gutta-percha balls,” he replied solemnly. If he had been one of my half-brothers, I would have suspected him of making an indelicate joke, but his face was perfectly solemn.
“No one does,” I assured him. “Anyway, he’s a lovely man but he isn’t really my father. And when the twins came along, and then the boys, well, they had their own family, didn’t they? It was nothing to do with me.” I fell silent a moment then pressed on, adopting a firmly cheerful tone. “Still, it hasn’t been so bad. I thoroughly enjoyed coming back here to go to school, and I have found my father.”
“You’ve seen him?” he asked quickly.
“No. But I made some inquiries, and I know where he is. He’s a painter,” I told him. I was rather proud of the little bit of detection I had done to track him down. “We wrote letters for a while, but he travelled extensively—looking for subjects to paint, I suppose. He gave me a London address in Half Moon Street to send the letters, but he didn’t actually live there. You know, it’s quite sad, but I always felt so guilty when his letters came. Mother would take to her bed with a bottle of reviving tonic every time she saw his handwriting in the post. I didn’t dare ask to invite him to the wedding. She would have shrieked the house down, and it did seem rather beastly to Reginald since he was paying for it. Still, it is peculiar to have an entire family I haven’t met. Some of them kept in touch—my Aunt Portia, for one. She sent me the copy of Married Love. When I came to England for the little season, I asked her where Father was. She promised not to tell him I’d asked, but she sent me his address. He has a house in Devon. He likes the light there, something about it being good for his work.”
“I see.”
“It’s very kind of you to drive me,” I said, suddenly feeling rather shy with this stranger to whom I had revealed entirely too much. “Oh!” I sat up very straight. “I don’t even know your name.”
“Sebastian. My name is Sebastian Cantrip.”
“Cantrip? That’s an odd name,” I told him.
“No odder than Penelope.”
I laughed. “It’s Greek, I think. My mother’s choice. She thought it sounded very elegant and educated. But my father called me Poppy.”
Sebastian slanted me a look. “It suits you better.”
“I think so, but when I was presented as a debutante, Mother insisted on calling me Penelope Hammond. Hammond isn’t my legal name, you know. It gave me quite a start to see the name on the invitations to the wedding. Mr. and Mrs. Reginald Hammond cordially invite you to the wedding of their daughter, Penelope Hammond. But I’m not Penelope Hammond, not really.” I lifted my chin towards the road rising before us. “I’m Poppy March.”

 

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Spotlight: Highland Hunger by Eliza Knight

 ***ALL FIVE GAMES!!!***

An unclaimed land in the Scottish isles is ruled by the male and female victors in a series of war games every five years. Named Chief and Lady of the land, they rule the vast holding, and protect the people by divine right, until the next game begins.

After her brother’s death Ceana is named laird. The only way for her clan to survive the ravages of the Highlands is to join in the war games. Bastard son of a powerful earl, Macrath is placed in the games by his vengeful stepmother. He must survive for the ultimate retribution.

Ceana can’t afford to like the formidable, captivating, Highlander who seems to be following her, and yet she can’t seem to walk away.

Macrath wants nothing more than to protect the enchanting warrior lass, but doing so may get in the way of his need for revenge. What starts out as a race to survive turns into passion to endure together.
May the gods be forever in their favor…


 Publication Date: September 18, 2014
  Knight Media, LLC.
 Formats: eBook, Paperback
 Pages: 278
Genre: Historical Romance
 
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E. Knight is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America and several RWA affiliate writing chapters: Hearts Through History, Celtic Hearts, Maryland Romance Writers and Washington Romance Writers. Growing up playing in castle ruins and traipsing the halls of Versailles when visiting her grandparents during the summer, instilled in a love of history and royals at an early age. Feeding her love of history, she created the popular historical blog, History Undressed (www.historyundressed.com).

Under the pseudonym Eliza Knight, she is a bestselling, award-winning, multi-published author of historical and erotic romance.

For more information please visit E. Knight’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

 Highland Hunger Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 20
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, October 21
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, October 22
Interview at Romance Book Junkies
Thursday, October 23
Guest Post at Back Porchervations
Monday, October 27
Interview at Room with Books
Tuesday, October 28
Spotlight at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, October 29
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Friday, October 31
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Saturday, November 1
Review at Book Nerd
Monday, November 3
Review at Historical Romance Lover
Tuesday, November 4
Review at Book Marks the Spot
Wednesday, November 5
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book!
Guest Post at Boom Baby Reviews
Thursday, November 6
Guest Post at SOS Aloha
Friday, November 7
Review at Journey with Books
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews




Saturday, October 18, 2014

Review & Giveaway: Taking the Cross by Charles Gibson (Book Tour)

 Taking the Cross is a historical novel by Charles Gibson about the little-known crusade launched by the Roman Catholic Church against fellow Christians in France, a time of great religious turmoil and conflict.

In the Middle Ages not all crusades were fought in the Holy Land. A two-pronged threat to the Catholic Church was growing within Christendom itself and Pope Innocent III called for the crusade against heresy to eliminate both the Albigenses and Valdenses, two movements that did not adhere to Church orthodoxy.

Andreas, a knight who longs to go on crusade to the Holy Land, finds himself fighting against one in his French homeland. While Andreas wages war for the lives and religious freedom of his people, a battle rages within his soul.

Eva, a young woman of a new religious order, the Beguines, discovers a secret message within a letter about the death of her father in the Holy Land. As she learns more of her father, she is forced to confront the profound and perilous spiritual inheritance he has bequeathed to her. A legacy for which she must fight.

Hearing of the feats of Andreas, Eva senses her inheritance may lead her to him.
Filled with battles of the flesh and the spirit, Taking the Cross reveals a passionate aspect of Medieval times where some fought ardently for the freedom of others. [provided by the author]

Attention reviewers: some medieval warfare violence

Release date: October 1, 2014
at Köehler Books
269 pages
ISBN: 1940192277
****

This was an educational and entertaining story, which is one of the things that I love about reading historical fiction.  I always thought the crusades took place in the Holy Land not the south of France. 

  I really like the authors writing style, the story flowed smoothly with enough descriptions that I was able to visualize the setting and feel of the time period.  His knowledge and love of this period in history is evident. Introduced to Andreas in the first chapter then Eva in the next this story weaves back and forth until they connect.  I was able to get to know the characters, there was depth here and realized that this wasn't just a story about physical battles but also those internal ones.

This is Charles Gibson's debut and also the start of a series, definitely an author I will be reading more of.  Be sure to check out his website,

Charles Gibson first started reading about history and geography when he was seven.
He wrote his first short story at the age of nine.
He continues to read and write whenever he can.
Charles has spent many years researching the Middle Ages and the Crusades,
and has traveled to the Languedoc region in France.
He has combined the passions of history and geography and prose to finish his first novel, Taking the Cross.
It takes place during the summer of 1209 in France.
Charles Gibson has previously written for the inspirational book series God Allows U-Turns
as well as for a Minnesota newspaper.
He also works as a project manager for a medical device company.
He also loves travel writing,
and would like to start his own magazine some day about travel as a journey through life.
The dominant theme of his writing is freedom.
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free;
therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”
He lives in Minnesota with his lovely wife and energetic sons.
He can be reached at cg [at] charlesgibson [dot] net
Visit his website. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter , Google +
Send him your questions and comments.

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VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE

Monday, October 13
Review + Guest- Post + Giveaway at Books Are Cool
Tuesday, October 14
Review + Giveaway at Unshelfish
Friday, October 17
Review + Giveaway at Deal Sharing Aunt
Saturday, October 18
Review + Giveaway at Just One More Chapter
Sunday, October 19
Review + Giveaway at An Accidental Blog
Monday, October 20
Review + Interview at Jorie Loves A Story
Tuesday, October 21
Review + Giveaway at Words And Peace
Wednesday, October 22
Review + Excerpt + Giveaway at Book Nerd
*
You can enter the giveaway here
or on the book blogs participating in this tour.
Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter,
they are listed in the entry form below
.
Visit each blogger on the tour:
tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour
will give you 5 extra entries each time!
[just follow the directions on the entry-form]

Entry-Form

It’s open internationally
We will have 2 winners
print copy for resident of any country!