Thursday, July 11, 2019

Blog Tour Spotlight + Giveaway: The Earl in Black Armor by Nancy Blanton

The Earl in Black Armor by Nancy Blanton

Publication Date: March 17, 2019
Ellys-Daughtrey Books
eBook, Paperback, Hardcover
Genre: Historical Fiction

Ireland, 1635.

When the clan leader sends Faolán Burke to Dublin to spy on Thomas Wentworth, the ruthless Lord Deputy of Ireland, the future of his centuries-old clan rests upon his shoulders. Wentworth is plotting to acquire clan lands of Connacht for an English Protestant plantation. To stop him, Faolán must discover misdeeds that could force King Charles to recall Wentworth to England.

Leaving his young daughter Elvy in the care of his best friend Aengus, Faolán works as a porter in Dublin Castle, and aligns with the alluring Denisa, Wentworth’s personal assistant. She, too, spies on Wentworth, but for very personal reasons.

While Faolán knows he should hate Wentworth, he admires his prosecution of pirates and corrupt nobles who prey on Irish merchants. Supremely arrogant and cruel to his enemies, Wentworth shows loyalty, warmth and compassion for family, friends and a few select others.

A common mission takes Faolán and Denisa from Dublin to London and Hampton Court; to York and Scotland; and to the highest levels of court intrigue and power. But secrets, fears, war and betrayal threaten their love—and even their lives. And as Wentworth’s power grows, so grow the deadly plans of his most treacherous and driven enemies.

"If you are looking for an adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat, then look no further! Get ready for court intrigue, roguish behavior, and of course, that little bit of romance... Well, then you have a book that is hard to put down." -- Rebecca Hill, Net Galley Reviewer

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About the Author

Nancy Blanton writes award-winning novels based in 17th century Irish history. Her latest, The Earl in Black Armor, tells a relentless story of loyalty, honor and betrayal in the Stuart era prior to the great Irish Rebellion of 1641. The Prince of Glencurragh, her second novel, occurs in 1634 during the English Plantation of Ireland. Her first novel, Sharavogue, is set in Ireland and the West Indies during the time of Oliver Cromwell. In non-fiction, Brand Yourself Royally in 8 Simple Steps is also a medalist, providing a valuable personal branding guide for authors, artists, and business consultants. Her blog, My Lady’s Closet, focuses on writing, books, historical fiction, research and travel. Ms. Blanton is a member of the Historical Novel Society and is proud to be an occasional guest author on the award-winning UK blog, Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots. She has worked as a journalist, magazine editor, corporate communications leader and brand manager. Her books celebrate her love of history and her Irish and English heritage. She lives in Florida.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Blog Tour Q&A + Giveaway: The Portrait by Cassandra Austen

Please join me in welcoming Cassandra Austen to Let Them Read Books! Cassandra is touring the blogosphere with her new historical romance, The Portrait, and I recently had the chance to ask her a few questions about her inspiration and the challenges and rewards of writing. Read on and enter to win a copy of The Portrait!

Lady Catherine, banished to the countryside as a useless girl with a lame leg, got her revenge by playing a dangerous game. And now it will ruin her.

When the old earl dies, his only child feels no sorrow. The earldom will now revert to the crown and Lady Catherine will continue to live life exactly as she pleases. But when she learns that she is the heir to a secret family title, everything changes. Marriage had once seemed unnecessary and out of the question; now it is the only thing she wants. The two men in her life both need her influence and wealth. Whom shall she choose? The kind but secretive Captain Avebury? Or the notorious Sir Lyle, the handsome smuggler? Both men deal very differently with honor. And when Catherine’s secret self-destructs, which man can be trusted to save her?

The Portrait is about a strong woman, foolish decisions, trust, and the definition of honor. Fans of Jane Austen’s independent women will recognize in Catherine a voice which will not be silenced.


Hi Cassandra! Thank you so much for visiting Let Them Read Books! What inspired you to write historical romance?

I’ve loved history and historical fiction ever since I was a kid. The first story I ever wrote was set in the French Revolution! I must have been seven years old, writing on a yellow pad with a pencil. My favorite television shows were historicals. I ended up studying medieval Japanese history in graduate school. So when I finally got back to writing fiction, I knew I wanted to eventually write a historical novel. The Regency period is one of my favorite eras, not only because of Jane Austen, but because it’s a fascinating period full of political and social tension. I didn’t dwell on politics in The Portrait, but I thought a lot about the fate of women during the period, especially women who were for one reason or another judged to be “not enough” by the men in their lives. As painful as it is to think about, it was the reality of the time, and I try to be faithful to the historical period when I write, even if I’m writing fiction. And I wanted to write a romance because a novel that is all about manipulative men just isn’t a fun read.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Blog Tour Excerpt + Giveaway: Severed Knot by Cryssa Bazos

Severed Knot by Cryssa Bazos
Publication Date: June 7, 2019
W.M. Jackson Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

Barbados 1652. In the aftermath of the English Civil War, the vanquished are uprooted and scattered to the ends of the earth.

When marauding English soldiers descend on Mairead O’Coneill’s family farm, she is sold into indentured servitude. After surviving a harrowing voyage, the young Irish woman is auctioned off to a Barbados sugar plantation where she is thrust into a hostile world of depravation and heartbreak. Though stripped of her freedom, Mairead refuses to surrender her dignity.

Scottish prisoner of war Iain Johnstone has descended into hell. Under a blazing sun thousands of miles from home, he endures forced indentured labour in the unforgiving cane fields. As Iain plots his escape to save his men, his loyalties are tested by his yearning for Mairead and his desire to protect her.

With their future stolen, Mairead and Iain discover passion and freedom in each other’s arms. Until one fateful night, a dramatic chain of events turns them into fugitives. Together they fight to survive; together they are determined to escape.


The song ended, and Iain watched Alastair as he entered the crushing mill. He disappeared for a moment, and when he reappeared, he cradled a violin in the crook of his arm.
Iain couldn’t sit there any longer. Passing by the keg, he dropped the cup on top and manoeuvred through the crowd to head back to his hut.
Tam stopped him. “Where are you off to, Scotsman? You’re truly sour, man.”
“I’ve had enough.” Iain patted the man on the shoulder and attempted to move past him. Before he did, he glanced to the crushing mill in time to see Alastair handing the violin to Mairead. The rapt expression on her face made Iain pause. She handled the instrument reverently, as carefully as a woman cradling her bairn. Iain had never seen her eyes so round, her normally wary expression soft.
Mairead lifted the violin to her collarbone and adjusted her grip. She tried a few tentative plucks and adjusted the tuning until the chord sounded right. She lifted the bow against the strings and started to play. 
The sound that came from her violin was low, wistful and with a melody that stirred long-buried hopes. Both light and dark notes rounded each other out as she pushed the tune farther along. A low drumbeat joined in, and she adjusted her rhythm slightly to hit the rising notes with the downbeat.
Then the main melody started.
Iain knew this song. An old Scottish ballad, one of his favourites. It called to mind the longing of home. It had been the song that he had sung to himself during the gruelling journey from England.
How was it that she stood there playing that very song?
The melody had always stirred him, providing comfort during all those times he had been away on campaign, far from home. But Mairead’s rendition added layers he had never heard. The mournful tone of the violin spoke of the wind in the firs and smoky twilight clinging to the mountains. A flight of swallows darting in a cold twilight sky and the cry of terns riding a lonely sea breeze. It called to memory swiftly flowing burns bordered with purple heather, and the hope of love reunited.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Book Blast: Lacewood by Jessica James

Lacewood by Jessica James

Publication Date: June 18, 2019
Patriot Press
eBook; 348 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Sometimes love is just too powerful for one lifetime…

Part love story, part ghost story, Lacewood is a timeless novel about trusting in fate, letting go of the past, and believing in things that can’t be seen.

MOVING TO A SMALL TOWN in Virginia is a big change for New York socialite Katie McCain. But when she stumbles across an abandoned 200-year-old mansion, she’s enthralled by the enduring beauty of the neglected estate—and captivated by the haunting portrait of a woman in mourning.

Purchasing the property on a whim, Katie attempts to fit in with the colorful characters in the town of New Hope, while trying to unravel the mystery of the “widow of Lacewood.” As she pieces together the previous owner’s heartrending story, Katie uncovers secrets the house has held for centuries, and discovers the key to coming to terms with her own sense of loss.

The past and present converge when hometown hero Will Durham returns and begins his own healing process by helping the “city girl” restore the place that holds so many memories. As the mystic web of destiny is woven, a love story that might have been lost forever is exposed, and a destiny that has been waiting in the shadows for centuries is fulfilled.

Rich in emotion and poignant in its telling, Lacewood is an unforgettable story about love and loss, roots and belonging…and spirits of the past that refuse to be quieted. 

A haunting story from award-winning author Jessica James that connects the past with the present—and the present with eternity.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

About the Author

Jessica James is an award-winning author of suspense, historical fiction, and military fiction ranging from the Revolutionary War to modern day. Her highly acclaimed Civil War novel Shades of Gray won numerous national literary awards, and is often compared to Gone with the Wind.

By weaving the principles of courage, devotion, duty, and dedication into each book, James attempts to honor the unsung heroes of the American military--past and present--and to convey the magnitude of their sacrifice and service. Her novels appeal to both men and women and are featured in library collections all over the United States including Harvard and the U.S. Naval Academy. 

James resides in Gettysburg, Pa., and is a member of the Military Writers Society of America, NINC, Sisters in Crime, and the Romance Writers of America. She is a two-time winner of the John Esten Cooke Award for Southern Fiction, and was featured in the book 50 Authors You Should Be Reading, published in 2010.

Sign up for her free newsletter at and ask for a free copy of From the Heart: Civil War Love Letters and Stories. You can also find Jessica on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: Project Duchess by Sabrina Jeffries

From the Back Cover:

From New York Times bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries comes a sparkling new series about an oft-widowed mother’s grown children, who blaze through society in their quest for the truth about their fathers ... and in the process find that love just might conquer all...

A series of stepfathers and a difficult childhood have left Fletcher “Grey” Pryde, 5th Duke of Greycourt, with a guarded heart, enviable wealth, and the undeserved reputation of a rogue. Grey’s focus on expanding his dukedom allows him little time to find a wife. But when his mother is widowed yet again and he meets the charmingly unconventional woman managing his stepfather’s funeral, he’s shocked to discover how much they have in common. Still, Grey isn’t interested in love, no matter how pretty, or delightfully outspoken, the lady...

Beatrice Wolfe gave up on romance long ago, and the arrogant Duke of Greycourt with his rakish reputation isn’t exactly changing her mind. Then Grey agrees to assist his grief-stricken mother with her latest “project”: schooling spirited, unfashionable Beatrice for her debut. Now that Beatrice is seeing through Grey’s charms to his wounded heart, she’s having trouble keeping him at arm’s length. But once Grey starts digging into her family’s secrets, she must decide whether her loyalties lie with her family . . . or with the man whose lessons capture her heart...

My Thoughts:

When Grey's stepfather dies unexpectedly, Grey is forced to go home to comfort his grieving mother and siblings. It's not that he doesn't love his mother, and he loved and admired his stepfather, but he's never forgiven them for sending him away when he was a boy. Prepared to do his duty and flee, he is unprepared for Beatrice Wolfe, the sharp-tongued spinster helping with the funeral, or for the news that his stepfather was murdered, and the prime suspect is Beatrice's reclusive, war-wounded brother. Charged with helping solve the case, Grey does not object to spending time with Beatrice, but only because it means he can have her brother arrested as soon as possible. It has nothing to do with how he feels when he's around her. At least that's what he tells himself.

Tired of being a charity relation, Beatrice longs for a life and family of her own. Though she is daunted by the idea of a London season, she allows Grey's mother to make a project of her, knowing how badly the dear woman needs a distraction from her grief. Lessons in etiquette and dancing with the arrogant Duke of Greycourt are something she must put up with, even though she finds it harder and harder to deny her attraction to him. But as that attraction deepens into something more, Beatrice is stunned to learn Grey suspects her brother of murder and that he's been using her for information. Both Beatrice and Grey will have to determine where their hearts and loyalties lie and how far they're willing to go to protect their families.

I have enjoyed previous Sabrina Jeffries novels, but this one was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I really liked the characters, and the banter between them was sizzling, but I can't say there was anything really original or memorable about this story. I'm all for a mystery, and it appears the mystery of who murdered Maurice and why will run the course of the series, but I felt like it needed to have more substance in this first book to set it up. It seemed like more of an afterthought against the backdrop of dancing and etiquette lessons. The sex scenes, while hot, were too flowery for my tastes. Too many "ohs" and exclamation points. But I still found it an enjoyable way to pass the time, and I may read the next book to see if the mystery deepens.

My Rating:  3 Stars out of 5


Project Duchess is on a blog tour!


We have two paperback copies of Project Duchess up for grabs!
To enter, please use the Gleam form below.