Thursday, November 27, 2014

Spotlight + Giveaway: The Novels of Juliet Waldron

Please join Juliet Waldron as she tours with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for her novels Roan Rose, Hand-Me-Down Bride, and Angel’s Flight, from October 6-November 30.

Roan Rose

Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Books We Love, Ltd.
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Loyalty Binds Her.

More like a gangland war for turf and loot than chivalry, the War of Roses disrupted the life of the English commoners for hundreds of years. Roan Rose is the story of one of them, a girl born on the Yorkshire dales.

When the Countess of Warwick decides to take sturdy, gentle Rose to Middleham Castle to be companion and bed-time poppet for her youngest daughter, Anne, her fate is changed forever. Rose bears intimate witness to the passions, betrayals, battles and all the reversals of fortune which will shape her lady’s life—and her own. Anne Neville will briefly become a Queen, and Richard, Rose’s secret love, will become a King, one whose name has become synonymous with evil. When her King is betrayed and slain at Bosworth Field, Rose returns to a peasant’s hard life. She has one final service to perform.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Blog Tour Q&A with Victoria Vane, Author of Slow Hand

Please join me in welcoming author Victoria Vane back to Let Them Read Books! I'm a big fan of Victoria's Devil DeVere historical romance series, and now she's branching out into contemporary Westerns with the first novel in her new Hot Cowboy Nights series, Slow Hand. I recently had the chance to ask Victoria a few questions about the challenges in writing multiple genres and the research trips she made for this series. Read on and check out the trailer for Slow Hand, available now from Sourcebooks Casablanca!

Hi Victoria! Thanks so much for stopping by Let Them Read Books! 

Thanks so much for inviting me, Jenny Q!

You've been very successful as a historical romance author. What inspired you to start writing contemporaries?

Successful is a relative term! LOL!  While I have certainly received numerous accolades for my books, and have established a very loyal following, particularly with my Devil DeVere series, I still have not been able to break out as a writer.

After writing full time for three years with thirteen published novels and novellas, this has become increasingly frustrating to me. Although my first love will always be historicals, I thought it was time to spread my wings. I began my first contemporary romance expecting to fall flat on my face, but that absolutely has not happened. Once my characters came to life, the stories just took off.

I would imagine writing contemporaries and historicals present different sets of challenges. Can you tell us about some of the differences and how you approach them?

Surprisingly, I took exactly the same approach with my contemporary stories as I do with all of my historicals – I researched. I did this because I want all of my books to have a strong element of realism.

As far as the actual writing goes, I thought it would be really hard (next to impossible) for me to make the leap to contemporary because I didn’t think my writing voice would translate well, but once the characters came to life, it was really easy. I just let them tell the story. I discovered a completely different writing voice, but all of my strengths remained – well-researched, character driven, smoking hot stories!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: A Christmas Reunion by Susanna Fraser

From the Back Cover:

Gabriel Shephard has never forgotten his humble origins. So when he discovers a war orphan at Christmastime, he resolves to find a home for her—even if that means asking help from the very family who found and raised him, only to cast him out for daring to love the wrong woman.

Lady Catherine Trevilan has spent five years poring over the British Army's casualty list, dreading the day she sees Gabe's name. She's never forgotten him, and she's never forgiven herself for not running away with him when she had the chance, though she's agreed to a marriage of convenience with a more suitable man.

When Gabe returns home on Christmas leave just days before Cat's wedding, a forbidden kiss confirms their feelings haven't been dimmed by distance or time. But Cat is honor-bound to another, and Gabe believes she deserves better than a penniless soldier with an orphan in tow. How can Cat reconcile love and duty? She must convince Gabe she'd rather have him than the richest lord in all of England…

My Thoughts:

I'm a sucker for a star-crossed lovers story and a Christmas historical romance, and I'd been wanting to try Susanna Fraser, so I was excited to find the two combined in her latest novel. It starts by filling us in on what's happened in the past and what is happening with the present and sets our hero and heroine on a Christmas collision course. Much has changed in the five years since Cat and Gabriel have seen each other, yet much remains the same, including their feelings for each other. But Cat is promised to someone else, and Gabe is only on a short leave from the war, plus he now has an infant ward to provide for. Renewing their friendship is dangerous with the tension still high between them and Cat's fiance also staying in the same house. But their nearness to one another after so long and the warm memories of Christmases past pull them together. But with Cat's commitment to another and Gabe's commitment to the war standing between them, it will take a Christmas miracle--along with the help of some friends--to keep them together.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Review: Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

From the Back Cover:

Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn't mean she has...

My Thoughts:

I love this series. Grave Mercy was great, and Dark Triumph was even better. So I had super high expectations for the third and final book, Mortal Heart. We first met Annith as the resident good girl of the convent of St. Mortain, where daughters born of Death are taken in and raised as assassins to do Death's bidding. Annith has been quietly waiting in the background while younger and less experienced girls than she have been granted the privilege of being sent out on assignment. The best trained of all of them, and the most fervent in her devotion to Mortain, Annith begins to suspect that the Abbess is manipulating the wishes of Death for her own purposes. Her suspicions are confirmed when the Abbess announces that Annith will begin training to replace the convent's aging seer. Why would Death wish for his most talented and faithful handmaiden to spend her life locked in the convent's tower, especially since she's never displayed any sign of having the gift of sight? When the Abbess is called by the Duchess Anne to attend an urgent meeting of those still loyal to Brittany, Annith seizes the opportunity to snoop. But she finds more questions than answers. Tired of wasting away waiting for others to give her life purpose, she sets out on her own to uncover the truth about the Abbess and the convent and the mysterious circumstances surrounding her birth.

But even though she's more than capable of taking care of herself, these are dangerous times to be on the road alone. The King of France is making one last play for possession of Brittany, the duchess is beset by enemies and traitors, and loyalties are divided, throwing the region into civil war. When Death's hellequin corner her, damned men who ride at night to track down errant souls and escort them to the underworld, she thinks they've come to take her back to the convent. Instead, their handsome leader, Balthazaar, offers her safe escort to her destination, the city of Rennes, where the duchess is holding court. Suspicious yet powerfully drawn to the enigmatic soldier, she hides her true identity from him and falls in with the hellequin. She gets more than she bargained for as she comes to know these men and their damned souls and witnesses their despair and longing for the afterlife that has been denied them. They become her unexpected allies as her destiny unfolds, and her growing feelings for Balthazaar conflict with her own desires and long-held beliefs until she can no longer be sure of what is real and what isn't.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: Sinful Folk by Ned Hayes

From the Back Cover:

A tragic loss. A desperate journey. A mother seeks the truth.

In December of 1377, five children were burned to death in a house fire. Villagers traveled hundreds of miles across England to demand justice for their children’s deaths.

Sinful Folk is the story of this terrible mid-winter journey as seen by Mear, a former nun who has lived for a decade disguised as a mute man, raising her son quietly in this isolated village. For years, she has concealed herself and all her history. But on this journey, she will find the strength to redeem the promise of her past. Mear begins her journey in terror and heartache, and ends in triumph and transcendence.

The remarkable new novel by Ned Hayes, illustrated by New York Times bestselling author/illustrator Nikki McClure, Sinful Folk illuminates the medieval era with profound insight and compassion.

My Thoughts:

This is the story of a woman named Miriam, who has been living as a mute man, raising her child in a remote village after fleeing a monastery and a mysterious pursuant. We meet Mear (as she's being called by her fellow villagers) as an awful fire consumes the village weaver's home with five of the village's young boys inside, one of them Mear's own beloved son, Christian. The fire could have been the result of an accident--after all, these things happen. But the village soon discovers that someone had tied the door shut from the outside, and that the death of the next generation of young men was no accident at all. Suspicions and accusations immediately start flying, and many point their fingers toward the few Jews who still live in England, even though none of them live in their village. A handful of men decide they must seek justice, and so they set out with the bodies of their sons on an arduous journey to present their case to the king and demand satisfaction from a faceless villain.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Spotlight + Giveaway: Kathy Fischer-Brown's Blog Tour

Please join Kathy Fischer-Brown as she tours the blogosphere with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours from October 6-November 30 for her Serpent’s Tooth trilogy – Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Courting the Devil, and The Partisan’s Wife – and her novel Winter Fire.

Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter (Book One, Serpents Tooth Trilogy)

Publication Date: June 13, 2012
Books We Love Ltd.
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Genre: Historical Fiction

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As a child, Anne Fairfield dreams of the father she never knew, the hero who died fighting the French and their Indian allies in a land across the sea. Her mother’s stories, and fantasies of her own devising, sustain and nurture her through a poor and lonely existence. Until one winter night, a strange man comes to call, and the life she has known comes crashing down like shattered glass.

Forced to confront sordid truths, secrets and lies, the headstrong young woman begins to learn that, like generations of women ruled by their hearts, she is destined to follow in their footsteps.

Set against the backdrop of 18th century England, Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter is the first book in “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy, which follows Anne from the rural countryside, to London society and into the center of the American Revolution.

Praise for The Serpent's Tooth

4 Stars “Jane Austen showed us the gentle side of 19th century England; Kathy Fischer-Brown sets her work a century earlier and shows us how envy, revenge, and greed can work to effect long-term changes on one young woman…. The author does a wonderful job of showing all these complications clearly, with apt description, and I could easily see this series as a movie-maybe one day I will. So, if you are a fan of dark gothic themes, enjoy seeing the underbelly of British society and what goes on behind the scenes, as it were, I highly recommend you buy this trilogy.” — Long and Short Reviews

4 ½ Stars “...This is a dark novel that deals with the resentment and anger of a girl who has been misled and cannot seem to get past her grief …. While not a typical romance, this is a fascinating, complex story that I completely enjoyed. It is well written and entertained me with mystery, suspense, scandal, sinister characters and first love.” — Romantic Historical Lovers

Monday, November 17, 2014

Blog Tour Q&A + Giveaway with Mary F. Burns, Author of The Spoils of Avalon

Please join me in welcoming Mary F. Burns to Let Them Read Books! Mary is touring the blogosphere with her brand new book, The Spoils of Avalon, first in a series of historical mysteries featuring real-life friends John Singer Sargent and Violet Paget, two stars of the Victorian London artistic community, on the trail of holy relics that disappeared during the reign of the Tudors. I recently had the chance to ask Mary a few questions about the inspiration for this new series and the challenges of writing a story set in dual time periods. Read on and enter to win your own copy of The Spoils of Avalon!

What inspired you to create a mystery series featuring two stars of the Victorian artistic community, Violet Paget and John Singer Sargent?

I had written about the two of them in a previous novel, Portraits
of an Artist, about the time in Sargent’s life when he was the toast of Paris, and about the spectacular disaster that unseated him—in the form of the scandalous Madame X. Violet (her nom de plume was Vernon Lee) was one of the primary narrators in the book, which presents the story as coming from several people (15 actually!) whose portraits Sargent painted during that time. I came to know and love John and
Violet, and when the book was done and published, I really missed them! I didn’t think I wanted to write another “serious” novel about them, so I decided to star them in their own mystery series. I love historical mysteries, and it seemed to be the right time to start my own.

What kind of research did you do to help bring these people to life in your novel?

I read several biographies for each of them, plus a lot of correspondence that has been collected. I was able, of course, to read Violet Paget’s actual writings (most of them available for free, now, at online places like the Gutenberg Project) and those have been very revealing of her style and opinions—she wrote in a highly conversational, exaggerated style, often stating outrageous opinions to provoke a conservative society into thinking about important issues. She was a very out-spoken person, extremely intelligent and argumentative, self-educated and a prolific writer. Sargent, on the other hand, though equally well-educated (they both spoke four or five languages fluently), was more convivial and amiable, didn’t like controversy or arguments, and had trouble speaking in front of strangers—but they were the best of friends from an early age, when their families met each other in Rome. John and Violet used to wander the dirty, derelict streets of Rome, from the age of ten onwards, searching for antique coins in the dirt and following the goats and cows into the hills above the city. He would encourage her to draw, and she would encourage him to write!