Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Blog Tour Review: How to Love a Duke in Ten Days by Kerrigan Byrne

From the Back Cover:

Famed and brilliant, Lady Alexandra Lane has always known how to look out for to herself. But nobody would ever expect that she has darkness in her past—one that she pays a blackmailer to keep buried. Now, with her family nearing bankruptcy, Alexandra strikes upon a solution: Get married to one of the empire’s most wealthy eligible bachelors. Even if he does have the reputation of a devil.


Piers Gedrick Atherton, the Duke of Redmayne, is seeking revenge and the first step is securing a bride. Winning a lady’s hand is not so easy, however, for a man known as the Terror of Torcliff. Then, Alexandra enters his life like a bolt of lightning. When she proposes marriage, Piers knows that, like him, trouble haunts her footsteps. But her gentleness, sharp wit, independent nature, and incredible beauty awakens every fierce desire within him. He will do whatever it takes to keep her safe in his arms.

My Thoughts:

This story starts with an awful scene depicting what happened to our heroine, Alexandra, when she was eighteen. It's tough to get through, but it's necessary to understand what she deals with in the years that follow and why she behaves the way she does. We also find out she's being blackmailed over what happened all those years ago, and she's about to run out of the money she so desperately needs to keep her secret safe. So when she meets the scarred and brooding Piers Atherton, the Terror of Torcliff, who is in need of a wife to beget an heir so his nasty cousin doesn't inherit the dukedom, she makes a rash proposal of convenience. Piers readily accepts, but for him this marriage will be very real. He's already half in love with the beguiling, bookish beauty who attempts to hide herself from society's prying eyes.

Alexandra is frightened by her attraction to Piers. Understandably afraid of sexual intimacy, she presents him with a list of rules for their time together in the bedroom. Piers is puzzled by her reactions, but he's determined to prove his skittish wife can trust him, though as time goes on he grows frustrated that she won't open up to him. But they soon have bigger problems as a series of mysterious "accidents" that nearly get one or both of them killed on their honeymoon leads Piers to believe that someone is determined to stop him from siring an heir, while Alexandra thinks her blackmailer has grown bolder and is prepared to resort to murder. As the chasm of mistrust between them deepens, the danger around them intensifies. When Alexandra's secret is revealed, can Piers finally prove to her that she can trust him? Or will the villain determined to destroy them put an end to their happily ever after before it even starts?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Cover Reveal: Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau

Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau

Publication Date: January 16, 2020
Endeavor Quill
Genre: Historical Fiction


The year is 1911 when twenty-year-old heiress Peggy Batternberg is invited to spend the summer in America’s Playground.

But the invitation to Coney Island is unwelcome. Despite hailing from one of America’s richest families, Peggy would much rather spend the summer at the Moonrise Bookstore where she works voluntarily, than keeping up appearances with Brooklyn socialites and her snobbish, controlling family.

But soon it transpires that the hedonism of Coney Island affords Peggy more of the freedom she has been longing for. For one, she finds herself in love with a troubled pier-side artist of humble means, whom the Batternberg patriarchs would surely disapprove of.

Disapprove they may, but hidden behind their pomposity lurks a web of deceit, betrayal and deadly secrets. And as bodies begin to mount up amidst the sweltering clamour of Coney Island, it seems the powerful Batternbergs can get away with anything…even murder.

It is up to Peggy to overcome the oppression of her family and clear the name of her vulnerable lover, before she or her beloved sister become the next victims of Dreamland.

Extravagant, intoxicating and thumping with suspense, bestselling Nancy Bilyeau’s magnificent Dreamland is a story of corruption, class and dangerous obsession.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Guest Post + Excerpt: A Phoenix Rising by Vivienne Brereton

Please join me in welcoming Vivienne Brereton to Let Them Read Books! Vivienne just published her debut historical novel, A Phoenix Rising, and she's here today with a guest post about the inspiration for her novel, Thomas Howard, and an excerpt!

“If I have anything to do with it, we Howards will live forever.” 

Thomas Howard Charismatic head of one of the most powerful Houses in Tudor England. An indomitable old man approaching eighty: soldier, courtier, politician, a ‘phoenix’ rising from the ashes. After a calamitous period of disgrace, the Howards, renowned for their good looks and charm, are once more riding high at the court of Henry VIII.

Set against the backdrop of the extraordinary 1520 ‘Field of Cloth of Gold’, it is a tale of ambition, love, and intrigue, with Thomas at the centre of this intricate tapestry

Will Thomas’s bold vow be fulfilled? Danger stalks the corridors of the royal courts of Europe. Uneasy lies the head beneath a crown. Every other ruler - a fickle bedfellow…or sworn enemy.

 The action takes place in England, Scotland, and France. On either side of the Narrow Sea, four young lives are interwoven, partly unaware of each other, and certainly oblivious to what Dame Fortune has in store for them.

“Nicolas de La Barre laid his lute to one side, hardly bothering to stifle a yawn of boredom. Nevertheless, he couldn’t escape the fact he’d agreed to take on a new wife….”

Explosive family secrets are concealed behind the ancient walls of castles in three lands. But… “There are no secrets that time does not reveal.”

Fascinated by the Howard dynasty, I was drawn to the head of the family, Thomas Howard. His longevity was quite extraordinary in an era when most men did not live beyond their early fifties. The fact that he was grandfather to two Tudor queens (who both came to a tragic end in the Tower of London), Anne and Katherine, increased my interest. Who was this man who survived his first wife and then re-married her young cousin at fifty-four, his fertility showing no sign of waning? I think his rude good health and ability to father sons probably affected Henry’s decision to marry two Tudor women. After all, he needed sons and there was no shortage of Howard boys. Anne was a Bullen (Boleyn), but in Thomas’s mind, she was a Howard marriage pawn.

Thomas stands in the centre of A Phoenix Rising, intelligent, brave, plain-spoken, never losing his mental faculties, secure in his position as Lord Treasurer until the last two years of his life. All around him, like branches of a tree, are his various offspring and grandchildren. The series title is The House of the Red Duke, which is appropriate because it is just as much the story of his dynasty as his own. He appears in the book at intervals and is never very far away from the main action. I used a mixture of first person and third person for my characters, but Thomas was very definitely a first person! With his strong personality and presence on the page, he couldn’t have been anything else.

To give readers a glimpse into Thomas’s character, I have chosen a scene where he is on the rooftop of the Palace of Placentia in Greenwich, watching the stars with the young Henry VIII and Thomas More. We have to remember that with no electricity, and only the occasional flare of a torch, lantern, or candle, the nights would have been very dark indeed and the skies, a velvety tapestry of stars.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Blog Tour Spotlight: In the Full Light of the Sun by Clare Clark

In the Full Light of the Sun by Clare Clark

Publication Date: July 9, 2019
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Hardcover, Paperback, & eBook
Genre: Historical Fiction

Based on a true story, this gorgeous new novel follows the fortunes of three Berliners caught up in an art scandal—involving newly discovered van Goghs—that rocks Germany amidst the Nazis’ rise to power.

Hedonistic and politically turbulent, Berlin in the 1920s is a city of seedy night clubs and sumptuous art galleries. It is home to millionaires and mobs storming bakeries for rationed bread. These disparate Berlins collide when Emmeline, a young art student; Julius, an art expert; and a mysterious dealer named Rachmann all find themselves caught up in the astonishing discovery of thirty-two previously unknown paintings by Vincent van Gogh.

In the Full Light of the Sun explores the trio’s complex relationships and motivations, their hopes, their vanities, and their self-delusions—for the paintings are fakes and they are in their own ways complicit. Theirs is a cautionary tale about of the aspirations of the new Germany and a generation determined to put the humiliations of the past behind them.

With her signature impeccable and evocative historical detail, Clare Clark has written a gripping novel about beauty and justice, and the truth that may be found when our most treasured beliefs are revealed as illusions.


“As compelling as it is expansive… In an age that has apparently lost faith in experts and verifiable sources of information, Clark’s fictionalization of the Wacker affair stands as a salutary tale for the post-truth era.” —The Guardian

“[Clark] excels at evoking the febrile tensions of the Weimar Republic… A gripping and ultimately moving story about art, artifice and authenticity.” —The Mail on Sunday

“With great skill and sympathy, Clark evokes a febrile society in which politics, love and art offer no certainties, and the ground always threatens to open beneath her characters’ feet.” —The Sunday Times

“Set over the decade of the Nazis’ rise to power, In the Full Light of the Sun loosely follows the real-life mystery of whether paintings apparently by Van Gogh that were exhibited in Berlin in the 1920s were forgeries…The most enjoyable mystery here is the matter of whether anyone is really their authentic self.” —The Times (UK)

“An engrossing read.” —Image Magazine Ireland

“Clark’s beautiful writing is as dense and layered as thick, Post-Impressionist oils.” —Tablet

“A completely fascinating novel about the early 20th century art world and its many dubious machinations. Expertly researched, compellingly narrated and full of potent resonance today.” —William Boyd, author of Sweet Caress

“Clare Clark casts her spell of time and place with casual elegance and no apparent tricks - yet caught me up in this juicy story of colossal art fraud, the passions and intrigues of her vivid and moving characters - and the truly terrifying rise of the Nazi party, with all its contemporary echoes. The atmosphere of this book lingers on.” —Laline Paull, author of The Bees

“I loved In the Full Light of the Sun, a novel about deception, self-deception, truth, love and lies that will enthrall anyone fascinated by Van Gogh, the art world and Berlin in the 1920s. Written with verve and assurance it is both engaging and humane.” —Amanda Craig, author of the Lie of the Land
“In her gripping new novel Clare Clark paints a picture of Weimar Berlin in which surface glitter hides sinister and bitter truths. Page by page she brings secret lives into the light; nothing: not love, not art, not politics, is what it seems, and few escape the brutal forces that emerge.” —Stella Tillyard, author of Aristocrats

Friday, August 2, 2019

Blog Tour Guest Post: The Fire of Winter by D.K. Marley

Please join me in welcoming D.K. Marley to Let Them Read Books! D.K. is touring the blogosphere with her new historical novel, The Fire of Winter, and she's here today with a guest post about her fascination with Scotland. Read on and enter to win a copy of The Fire of Winter and a surprise gift!

She is known as Lady Macbeth.
What leads her down the path of murder?
What secrets fire her destiny?

Gruah, granddaughter of King Cìnéad III of the Royal Clan Alpin, marries two men in less than six months, one she loves and one she hates; one in secret, the other arranged by the High King of Scotland. At the age of eighteen, she lays her palm upon the ancient stone of Scone and sees her destiny as Queen of Scotland, and she vows to do whatever necessary to see her true love, Macbeth macFindlaech, beside her on the throne.

Amid the fiery times and heated onslaughts from Denmark and England, as the rule of Scotland hangs in the balance, Gruah seeks to win the throne and bring revenge upon the monsters of her childhood, no matter the cost or amount of blood tainting her own hands; yet, an unexpected meeting with the King called the Confessor causes her to question her bloody path and doubt her once blazing pagan faith. Will she find redemption or has the blood of her past fire-branded her soul?

The story weaves the play by William Shakespeare with the actual history of Macbeth and his Queen in 11th-century Scotland.

“…a woman’s story at a winter’s fire…”
(Macbeth, Act III, Scene IV)


My Fascination With Scotland
by D.K. Marley

The first thing I learned about Medieval Scotland is there is not much historical record there before the 13th-century. Much of the data I collected was based on the Book of Kells or from the Book of Deer, and whatever Google link and book I could devour in my research.

I found one amazing research site for the history of Scotland and I highly recommend it (www.scottishhistory.com) where there is s wealth of information for anyone wanting to know more about this amazing and beautiful country.

I visited Scotland almost twenty years ago and the impression has never left me. There is a kinship there, however remote it may be in my ancestry, but it is there nonetheless, so to write about a Queen of Scotland felt very natural to me. My own ancestry lies closer to Carlisle near the borderlands of the Lake District of Cumbria, and I have thought oftentimes of delving into my own history to write a story of my ancestor, Robert deWauchope of Lammerside Castle, but, for now, Lady Macbeth suits me well.

In doing the research for this novel, The Fire of Winter, I was fascinated with the ins and outs of how the Thanages were arranged, about the people who lived during the Medieval period, the ancient customs of the Picts, the herbology of the land used in medicines and folklore, the foods they ate, the clothing they wore...well, just everything.

Here is just a taste of some of the things I learned: