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.

About the Author:

"Dreamland" is Nancy Bilyeau's fifth novel of historical suspense. She is the author of the best-selling historical thriller “The Blue” and the Tudor mystery series “The Crown,” “The Chalice,” and “The Tapestry,” on sale in nine countries.

Nancy is a magazine editor who has lived in the United States and Canada. She studied History and English Literature at the University of Michigan. After moving to New York City, she worked on the staffs of “InStyle,” “Good Housekeeping,” and “Rolling Stone.” She is currently the deputy editor of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at the Research Foundation of CUNY and a regular contributing writer to “Town & Country" and "Mystery Scene Magazine."

Nancy’s mind is always in past centuries but she currently lives with her husband and two children in Forest Hills in the borough of Queens. "Dreamland" is her first novel set in her adopted hometown of New York City.

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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.

   For a few long moments, the three of us stood on the Palace roof in companionable silence, enjoying being inside the dark cocoon, free to contemplate the mysteries of the universe outlined above our heads. I was the first to speak: ‘France and England as foes. England and France as friends. Why does history always have a habit of repeating itself?’
  ‘Thucydides!’ exclaimed Henry and Tom together, before dissolving into laughter.
  ‘Thucydides?’ I repeated, at a loss.
  ‘The Greek historian,’ said Tom, ‘who believed that in accordance with human nature, historical events are likely to repeat themselves at some future time - if not in exactly the same way, then in one very similar.’  
     I knew of old how much Henry enjoyed such discussions as these, grabbing them with his hands, kneading them into shape as if he were a baker producing the best manchet loaf, and they the dough. ‘Throughout the ages,’ he said now, ‘a philosopher or politician might well have regarded this as proof of human weakness or stupidity, an inability to learn from past lessons. An astrologer might have looked to a shift in the planets above, their movements reflected in events below. Whatever the reason, no one can deny patterns exist that are endlessly repeated.’ 
  ‘I’m nought but an old soldier,’ I said, ‘yet, that makes sense to me.’

About the Author:

A Phoenix Rising is Vivienne Brereton’s debut novel and the first in a series of Tudor historical romance books entitled The House of the Red Duke. Vivienne has a degree in medieval history and a lifelong passion for the Tudors. For her research, she visited most of the places in the book, using it as an opportunity to step back in time…


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 ( 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:

Thursday, August 1, 2019

BookTrib's Romance Awareness Month Giveaway!

Many will swoon over this week’s BookTrib giveaway!

To kick off Romance Awareness Month,
they’ll be featuring 24 different romance novels and love stories that’ll go to one lucky winner.

Enter from now until August 8 for a chance to win all of these titles in their romance box! 

Click the pic to enter! Good luck!