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The Promise of Tomorrow by AnneMarie Brear: moving historical fiction

The Promise of Tomorrow

Charlotte Brookes flees her lecherous guardian, McBride, taking her younger sister with her. After a year on the road, they stumble into a Yorkshire village. There, they are taken in by the Wheelers, owners of the village shop. This new life is strange for Charlotte, but preferable to living with McBride or surviving on the roads.
Harry Belmont is an important man in the village, but he’s missing something in his life. His budding friendship with Charlotte gives him hope she will feel more for him one day, and he will have the woman he needs.
However, when McBride finds out where Charlotte lives, his threats begin, and Harry takes it upon himself to keep Charlotte safe. Only, World War I erupts and Harry enlists.
Left to face a world of new responsibilities, and Harry’s difficult sister, Charlotte must run the gauntlet of family disputes, McBride’s constant harassment and the possibility of the man she loves being killed.

Can Charlotte find the happiness that always seems under threat, and will Harry return home to her?


My review

The Promise of Tomorrow is a touching and powerful historical romance set just prior to and during the First World War. It grabs the reader’s attention from the very start when we meet the conniving McBride, who is planning to ‘lose’ his ghastly wife and marry his wealthy ward instead.

Those plans evidently go wrong because in the next chapter we meet Charlotte and her little sister, Hannah, who are living on the streets. Charlotte realised in time that something bad was going on and chose to life rough with her sister, supporting them both by working then stay where she was, in a life of luxury but menace. Charlotte is our heroine, and we see straight away that she’s a remarkable and strong woman. This strength remains throughout the novel as further challenges come her way.

So does romance. Harry is the perfect foil for her. He too is strong and loyal, and these two good souls are well suited. But he enlists, putting his own life in danger with all the other brave young soldiers, but also Charlotte’s since McBride is hot on her trail. Tension builds as the book progresses with these added dangers to Charlotte’s happiness. She has a lot to deal with, but her love for Harry and her family keep her motivated.

The story is moving at times, terrifying at others. Our characters ran the gamut of emotions from despair to elation, and are all interesting to meet. The plot is clever and the writing absorbing. All in all this is a polished and pleasing work of historical fiction.

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK

Amazon US –


Author bio

Australian-born AnneMarie Brear writes historical novels and modern romances and sometimes the odd short story, too. Her passions, apart from writing, are travelling, reading, researching historical eras and looking for inspiration for her next book.

Social Media Links
Twitter @annemariebrear

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The Mistress of Pennington’s by Rachel Brimble: atmospheric historical fiction


1910 – A compelling tale of female empowerment in Bath’s leading department store. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.

Elizabeth Pennington should be the rightful heir of Bath’s premier department store through her enterprising schemes and dogged hard work. Her father, Edward Pennington, believes his daughter lacks the business acumen to run his empire and is resolute a man will succeed him.

Determined to break from her father’s iron-clad hold and prove she is worthy of inheriting the store, Elizabeth forms an unlikely alliance with ambitious and charismatic master glove-maker Joseph Carter. United they forge forward to bring Pennington’s into a new decade, embracing woman’s equality and progression whilst trying not to mix business and pleasure.

Can this dream team thwart Edward Pennington’s plans for the store? Or will Edward prove himself an unshakeable force who will ultimately ruin both Elizabeth and Joseph?

My review

Elizabeth, our heroine, is ahead of her time in her ambition for the family department store, but her father doesn’t share her plans. He’s the sort of domineering, intolerant and narrow-minded man we associate with the Victorian era. In contrast, Joseph, the glove-maker, is far more modern in his views and is prepared to listen to and consider what women have to say. His wife Lillian, tragically murdered, was a proactive woman, like Elizabeth, and so he values women for their intelligence and insight, and not just their looks. He shares Elizabeth’s vision for catering to women customers considerably more. The two work well together, and inevitably attraction follows. But there are other impediments besides Edward Pennington: class conventions, political issues and personal agendas are there too.  As well as struggling to be mistress of Pennington’s store, Elizabeth also struggles to be mistress of her own fate.

Elizabeth has built a shell around herself to protect herself from her father’s constant belittlement. She thus appears somewhat stiff and distant at first, but as we get to know her better as the book progresses we see her hidden side. She’s sensitive and motivated, very much her lively mother’s daughter. Or at least her mother was lively until Edward finally stifled her joie de vivre. Elizabeth fortunately seems to be made of sterner stuff and we have faith that she’ll escape from her father’s shadow.

I especially liked the atmosphere created in the book. In scenes with Edward there’s oppressiveness and stuffiness, but Elizabeth always seems to bring light and hope. Joseph carries sadness with him, but a growing air of optimism. Pennington’s, brightly lit, shines out like a beacon beckoning to the future, like Elizabeth herself.

The author recreates an exciting time in history in her novel and furnishes it with fascinating, contrasting characters and a clever plot. This makes for very enjoyable reading.

The book is beautifully presented with an eye-catching cover. However, my one criticism of this book is in relation to the cover. It would look even better without the ‘Welcome to Bath’s finest department store’ on the right hand side. To me it is a completely unnecessary addition, and it detracts from  the symmetry and perspective. But maybe that’s just me – I admit I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about slogans plastered on covers!

Super book, thoroughly enjoyable and one to add to your ‘to be read’ list.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Barnes & Noble:


Google Play:

Author Bio

Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Since 2007, she has had several novels published by small US presses, eight books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical.

In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a brand new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The first book, The Mistress of Pennington’s, released July 2018.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.

Social Media Links





Facebook Street Team – Rachel’s Readers

Amazon Author Page:


Giveaway to win £20 / $20 Amazon Gift Card (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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The Second Footman by Jasper Barry: atmospheric and captivating

I’m delighted to be taking part in the book tour for this truly fascinating novel.

The Second Footman of the title is a man of many names, but Max is the one he settles on for himself. In his footman role he is Jean, the name of his predecessor. It won’t do for his mistress, the Duchess de Claireville, to have to learn a new name.

Max is nineteen. He has a somewhat mysterious past that we gradually learn more about as the story proceeds. We quickly learn that he’s ambitious and has a plan to further and improve himself up his sleeve. This book, the first in a trilogy, sets the scene for his future machinations which will involve Armand de Miremont.

The setting is nineteenth-century France and the author evokes this superbly. If we thought life then was all elegance then we’re soon disabused. The wealthy citizens might appear to be lucky with their big houses and indulgent lifestyles, but there are many constraints,  social, moral and religious. Servants live in squalor, with sweat-stiffened uniforms and stuffed into tiny, shared, stifling rooms.  Our eyes are really opened to such details.

The language and style of writing sets this book firmly in its time too. You can easily believe you’re reading something by an author of the period that the book is set in. Aptly, the book is quite slow-moving but never becomes bogged down. The author gives back story and detailed character portrayals where appropriate alongside the action. So occasionally it’s two steps forward, one step back but we need to cover our bases so that this book and the rest of the trilogy can be firmly established.

Despite the rigid class structure and outward appearances, it is still possible although not easy to indulge passions. Same-sex love has to be expressed in private.

This is a story of dark secrets, opportunism, selfishness but also self-truth and slightly menacing romance. It’s captivating.


Nineteen year-old Max is the duchesse de Claireville’s second footman, but he does not intend to endure the indignities of service for long. He has a plan-to find an aristocratic patron who will become his unwitting accomplice in an audacious fraud. It is true that in 1880s’ France, despite nearly a century of revolution and social turmoil, the aristocracy is still firmly entrenched in privilege, and the gulf between the salon and the servants’ hall is as wide as ever. But Max is handsome, quick to learn and confident of his abilities as a seducer of both men and women. Whether ladling soup into noble plates beneath crystal chandeliers, or reading biographies of the great generals in his squalid footman’s dormitory, he is planning his strategy. He, Max, is the man of the future – ruthless, above morality and sentimental attachments. Yet, when, after a couple of false starts, he at last acquires his patron, he finds himself ambushed by instinctive longings-for friendship, for affection-that threaten his grand plan. ‘Be true to yourself…’ the saying goes. But to which self? And what is ‘truth’?


Purchase Link –

Author Bio 

Jasper Barry graduated from Cambridge with a degree in English and has worked in

advertising, then in journalism. Jasper lives in London with too many books and three

obstreperous cats.

Social Media Links –

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Barnabas Tew and the Missing Scarab by Columbkill Noonan: lively and unique


My review

It’s hard to classify this lively novel – it’s detective story, with steampunk, supernatural and fantasy elements. Quite unique and definitely admirable. I’m a firm believer that any book that can’t be pigeonholed neatly is definitely worth a read.

And this one is. It’s extremely entertaining.

The novel has a Victorian setting and the language and characters and their situations are entirely apt for this. Barnabas Tew, a Sherlock Holmes wannabe with sidekick Wilfred, isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. He tends to solve the crimes after he’s lost his clients – either because they’ve given up on him or been killed by the stalkers he was hired to find! However, nothing daunted he tackles his next undertaking with zeal, and some surprise. A trip to view the new Egyptian treasures display at the British Museum leads neatly into this particular adventure. His new client is none other than Anubis, the Egyptian god, and since the sun god (the scarab beetle of the title) has gone missing, the fate of humankind is at stake if BT can’t solve the mystery so that the sun can continue to be rolled across the sky. Could this be the case that will rocket Barnabas Tew to fame and give him an equal ranking with his hero? Or will he fail miserably, as seems to be the pattern of his sleuthing attempts?

The book is a breathless and romp through the underworld, and immense good fun. There’s lots of wit and wryness, imaginative action and comedy. There’s great chemistry between Barnabas and the unflappable, sensible Wilfred who does his best to keep his boss safe. Both take dealing with Egyptian mythological figures and all that entails firmly in their stride with Britishly stiff upper lips and get on with the unlikely task at hand.  

If you enjoy novels that are quirky and escapist, then this is one for you. I loved it and will be following Barnabas’s future adventures with keen interest. You have to wonder what he can possibly do for an encore…


Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab
Barnabas Tew, a detective in Victorian London, is having a hard time making a name for himself, probably because most of his clients end up dead before he can solve their cases. His luck is about to change, though, for better or worse: Anubis, the Egyptian god of the dead, notices him and calls him to the Egyptian underworld. A terrible kidnapping has occurred; one that promises to put an end to the status quo and could perhaps even put an end to the entire world. It is up to Barnabas (along with his trusty assistant, Wilfred) to discover the culprit and set things to right. Can he turn his luck around and solve the most important case of his life?
Purchase Link –

Author Bio

Columbkill Noonan lives in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, where she teaches yoga and Anatomy and Physiology. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. Her first novel, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab” by Crooked Cat Books, was released in 2017, and her latest work, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine Worlds”, is set to be released in September 2018.
In her spare time, Columbkill enjoys hiking, paddle boarding, aerial yoga, and riding her rescue horse, Mittens. To learn more about Columbkill please feel free to visit her website (, on Facebook ( or on Twitter (@ColumbkillNoon1).
Social Media Links – Facebook:

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A Plague on Mr Pepys by Deborah Swift: riveting historical fiction

My review

‘A Plague on Mr Pepys’ is a fascinating work of historical fiction. It’s based firmly on fact, but the author has used her imagination to bring real people from the past to vibrant life.

Our heroine is Bess Bagwell, a very determined and likeable woman. She’s the driving force in the household. Husband Will is a very talented carpenter but lacks ambition. His stern father destroyed his self-confidence when he was young. Will is also hampered by his cousin Jack Sutherland, a rogue who doesn’t hesitate to take advantage of anyone or any situation. He’s a millstone around the Bagwells’ necks.

Bess just wants to better herself and her situation, since, as she observes, there are only masters and servants in this world and she’s not going to be the latter, and this desire brings her into dramatic contact with Mr Pepys. The latter remains something of an enigmatic figure and secondary character in the book although he plays a crucial role. However, for various reasons, of which kindness is prominent, the Bagwells keep finding themselves in financial difficulties. This leads to Bess earning money in a decidedly controversial manner.

The plague has been bubbling in the background during the early action of the book, and then it comes destructively to the forefront throwing society into turmoil. Few households escape of it, the Bagwells’ included. This part of the story hammers home the horror this disease represented at that thime, and brings to life for us, or rather death, both its devastating impact and the helplessness of people when faced with it.

I must give a quick mention to Bess’s mother, Agatha. She’s made a mess of things in the past, falling prey to the evils of drink and Bess holds many grudges. However, Agatha is a changed person and family ties are strong, against all odds. She plays an important role in the story, and the difficult relationship between mother and daughter is both heartwrenching and warming.

The book is a delight to read. The author grabs our attention from the very start and keeps us riveted. She has clearly done much detailed research, and this all adds to the authenticity of the story. We learn what a farthing would buy, what people wore, how guilds were organised and so on, and this is all really interesting. There’s no info-dumping, these little snippets of information are dropped in when necessary and make the writing all the richer.

Definitely one to add to your shelves or Kindle. It’s the second in a series, but works perfectly well as a standalone. A wonderful read.


Details and synopsis

Series: Women of Pepys Diary Series #2
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: July 5th 2018
Publisher: Accent Press
The second novel in the series based on the different women in Samuel Pepys’s famous diary.

Sometimes the pursuit of money costs too much…

Ambitious Bess Bagwell is determined that her carpenter husband, Will, should make a name for himself in the Navy shipyards. To further his career, she schemes for him to meet Samuel Pepys, diarist, friend of the King and an important man in the Navy.

But Pepys has his own motive for cultivating the attractive Bess, and it’s certainly not to benefit her husband. Bess soon finds she is caught in a trap of her own making.

As the summer heat rises, the Great Plague has London in its grip. Red crosses mark the doors, wealthy citizens flee and only the poor remain to face the march of death.
With pestilence rife in the city, all trade ceases.

With no work as a carpenter, Will is forced to invest in his unscrupulous cousin Jack’s dubious ‘cure’ for the pestilence which horrifies Bess and leaves them deeper in debt.
Now they are desperate for money and the dreaded disease is moving ever closer. Will Mr Pepys honour his promises or break them? And will they be able to heal the divide that threatens to tear their marriage apart?

London, March 1663
‘Here’s the address,’ Bess said, pressing the paper down on the table in front of her husband. She patted him on the shoulder, which released a puff of dust. Will was a fine figure of a man – tall and blond, with arms muscled from lifting timber, and the fine-boned hands of a craftsman, but his clothes were always full of sawdust and wood-shavings.
He turned and smiled, with an expression that said he was ready to humour her.
‘It’s on the other side of the Thames, close to one of the shipyards. Big houses all round. A nice neighbourhood. Quiet.’
‘Where?’ Will asked, standing to pick up the paper, and stooping from habit because their attic room was so low.
‘Deptford.’ She held her breath.
‘Deptford?’ he said, throwing it back down. ‘We’re not living in Deptford.’
‘Oh, Will, it has to stop sometime. He won’t even know we’re there.’
‘You don’t know my father, he gets to know everyone’s business.’
‘That’s no reason. That terrible brimstone preacher lives just round the corner, and we manage well enough to avoid him.’
‘Ho, ho.’
‘We need never see your father. The Deptford yard is enormous. More than a mile end to end. Just think, you could work there fitting out ships, and you’d never set eyes on him.’ She tugged at his sleeve. ‘The workshop’s so fine – you should see the workbench. More than eight foot long, and it runs right under the window. You can nearly see the whole shipyard from there.’ She paused; she knew his weak spot well. ‘And the house will be perfect for your new commission. You won’t have to hire a work place again.’
‘It’s more than we can afford, love, to buy a house.’
‘You’ll get better commissions though, once people see Hertford’s chairs. You should see it! There’s room for your lathes and there’s already a wall with hooks for hanging tools. Just come and look, Will. That’s all.’
Will sighed. ‘Suppose looking won’t hurt.’
In the panelled chambers of Thavie’s Inn, Holborn, Will Bagwell lifted the quill and dipped it in the ink. His heart was pounding beneath the buttons of his doublet. The paper before him was thick vellum, as if to emphasise the serious nature of the agreement. Ten years’ of his wages in a good year. An enormous loan. He wanted to read it again, for it was a lot of writing to take in, in a language that took some fathoming. But they were all waiting.
Behind him, he could hear Bess breathing; feel the heat of her hand on his shoulder. He tapped the nib on the edge of the bottle to shake off the excess droplets of ink; Bess’s hand tightened. He swallowed. Just shy of sixty pounds. If he signed this, there would be no going back.
He hesitated, and looked up. Opposite him, the turtle-faced goldsmith, Kite, nodded and narrowed his eyes in a tight smile of encouragement. The notary, an official from the Inn of Chancery in a blindingly white cravat, was impatient, shifting from foot to foot. No doubt he’d seen such an agreement many times.
A deep breath. Will felt the nib touch the paper and suddenly, there it was – his signature flowing across the page. He had no sooner lifted the pen from the document than it was swiped out from under his gaze, and Kite the money-lender was scribbling his name under Will’s. Immediately, a serving boy came with a stub of smoking sealing wax, and even before Kite had time to press the metal die into the red puddle on the paper, the notary was adding his witness signature.
It was over in a few seconds and Will’s damp palm was gripped momentarily in Kite’s wrinkled one, before the duplicate loan agreement and the house deeds were thrust into his hand for him to sign.
‘My man Bastable will collect the repayments on the last day of each month,’ Kite said.
Will felt dazed. He wanted to turn back time, give the agreement back. But they were all smiling, Bess most of all. Her face lit up the room. She had her fine house now, and he couldn’t let her down, could he? But all he could think of was the feeling of his empty purse, like a lung with the breath squeezed out of it.
Check out book 1 in the series!


‘Swift is a consummate historical novelist, basing her books on immaculate research and then filling the gaps between real events and real people with eloquent storytelling, atmospheric scene setting and imaginative plot lines’ The Visitor

‘Pepys and his world spring to vibrant life…Gripping, revealing and stunningly imagined, Pleasing Mr Pepys is guaranteed to please’ Lancashire Evening Post


From Deborah Swift:
I write historical fiction, a genre I love. I loved the Victorian classics such as Jane Eyre, Lorna Doone and Wuthering Heights. As I child I loved to read and when I had read my own library books, I used to borrow my mother’s library copies of Anya Seton and Daphne du Maurier. I have loved reading historical novels ever since; though I’m a bookaholic and I read widely – contemporary and classic fiction as well as historicals.

In the past I used to work as a set and costume designer for theatre and TV, so I enjoy the research aspect of creating historical fiction, something I loved doing as a scenographer. Each book takes about six months of research before I am ready to begin writing. More details of my research and writing process can be found on my website. I like to write about extraordinary characters set against the background of real historical events.

I live in North Lancashire on the edge of the Lake District, an area made famous by the Romantic Poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge.

I took an MA in Creative Writing in 2007 and now teach classes and courses in writing, and offer editorial advice from my home. A Plague on Mr Pepys is my ninth published novel.



1 paperback (UK only) & 1 ebook (international)

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A Warriner To Seduce Her by Virginia Heath

Books Are Cool continues in its current historical fiction mood with a review today of A Warriner To Seduce Her by Virginia Heath. We’re joining in the big launch party for this excellent book.

The title might suggest a bodice-ripper awaits us, and while our hero Jake Warriner is a self-confessed rake this book is far more sophisticated that its name might imply.

For reasons you’ll have to discover for yourselves in the book, Jake is intent on seducing a certain young lady, namely the niece of an influential nobleman, Sir Crispin Rowley. This niece, Felicity  ‘Fliss’ Blunt, at her uncle’s invitation is having her season in London. But she’d really rather not. This down-to-earth northern lass does not want to be spend time trussed up in corsets and ridiculous dresses and being flirted with. And she may be short sighted but she quickly sees through Jakes attempts to win her heart.

Or she thinks she does, and she’s very unimpressed with her handsome would-be suitor. She doesn’t realise that he has genuinely fallen for her. Things are about to get very complicated.

The story proceeds from here with lots of exciting action, witty exchanges. There’s emotion, demons to face, thrills, romance and a clever plot. There is a fine cast of fascinating characters, all rounded and intriguing.  

This is a very enjoyable read. It’s the fourth book in the Warriner series but works well as a standalone, and if you haven’t read the preceding books then you will certainly want to after reading this one.



A sensible schoolmistress… Awakened by the notorious rake!

In this The Wild Warriners story, schoolmistress Felicity Blunt feels old beyond her years?and desperately dull. Meeting confirmed rake Jacob Warriner brings her gloriously alive, and yet no matter his allure she must remain immune to his obvious charms and unashamed flirtation. But is Jacob merely a mischievous scoundrel? Or is there much more to this Warriner than meets the eye…?



Author Bio 

When Virginia Heath was a little girl it took her ages to fall asleep, so she made up stories in her head to help pass the time while she was staring at the ceiling. As she got older, the stories became more complicated, sometimes taking weeks to get to the happy ending. Then one day, she decided to embrace the insomnia and start writing them down. Fortunately, the lovely people at Harlequin Mills & Boon took pity on her and decided to publish her romances, but it still takes her forever to fall asleep.

Social Media Links –


Giveaway – Win 3 x E-copies of A Warriner to Seduce Her (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.


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The Ghost of Glendale by Natalie Kleinman: engaging and charming


It’s obvious from the word go, or rather the word “Ah,” which is the first word in this story, that the author is in her element writing about the Regency period. Her enthusiasm for and knowledge of it shine in every word. Natalie Kleinman uses language, manners and situations to the time and creates a convincing atmosphere.

She has created for us a gentle, civilised setting in Glendale, but like with our heroine Phoebe Marcham, there are some hidden punches. In the novel this comes with the paranormal mystery that lurks at the centre of the story, and alongside it is a very real one – how to reunite the two sides of the divided family, torn apart by the Civil War.

Phoebe is the perfect heroine. She’s interesting, not perfect i.e. she’s a bit rebellious and subject to the odd grump now and again. Tall and lively, no wonder Duncan Armstrong is soon wowed by her. Our hero is an intriguing man too. No empty stereotypes in this story.

What I particularly like is how the author depicts the genteel side of life, since Phoebe is from a moderately wealthy family, but also the harsher side. For example, when Aunt Sophia breaks her ankle, much as we don’t want to feel sorry for this bossy, unsympathetic woman, it’s quite tough to realise is that all she can do is wait for it to heal on its own without effective painkillers. Times were hard then and this peeps through now and again and adds to the realism.

Throughout this engaging and charming novel, there’s wonderful attention to detail that makes the background really sparkle. Add in our cast of interesting characters, dead and alive, and it’s a recipe for total enjoyment.


Synopsis: The Ghost of Glendale

At twenty-four years old, Phoebe Marcham is resigned to spinsterhood, unwilling to settle for anything less than the deep love her parents had shared. That is, until adventurer Duncan Armstrong rides into her home wood, larger than life and with laughter in his eyes and more charm in his little finger than anyone she’s ever met before. Far from ridiculing her family ghost, Duncan resolves to help solve the mystery which has left Simon Marcham a spirit in torment for two hundred years.

Purchase from Amazon UK

Author Bio – Natalie is a published novelist and short story writer whose addiction to the books of Georgette Heyer and love of The Regency have been the inspiration for her latest book, The Ghost of Glendale.

Working on the premise that you never stop learning, she goes to any and every writing event and workshop she can. In addition she attends The Write Place Creative Writing School in Hextable in Kent, one of the rewards for which is an abundant supply of cream cakes to celebrate the frequent successes of its students.

Natalie is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, The Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. She lives with her husband in southeast London.


Social Media Links –

Twitter: @NatKleinman


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Seeding by Beaux Lee: a blossom on the historical fiction tree

The popularity of historical fiction is on the rise. For a long while it was associated mainly with ‘bodice rippers’, and told tales of brooding earls and swooning heroines with heaving bosoms. But luckily it’s left that image behind and really come into its own as a genre. It is getting the respect and attention it deserves.

The best way to define it is as fiction set more than fifty years in the past and one in which the author is writing from research rather than personal recollection.

The goal of historical fiction is not to simply show readers what life was like in another time period – history text books are better at that – but to show us how that particular setting is reflected in the character and plot of the novel. How the people we meet in its pages can only have acted in that particular way because of the circumstances of their time. This helps us see the differences and similarities between our own perspectives and theirs.

seedingSeeding by Beaux Lee does all this, and more. Set in Louisiana at a time when slavery was an accepted facet of life, we meet some truly amazing characters. The first of these is the enslaved Louis Brown who so impresses his admittedly enlightened owner that he grants him freedom. Louis leaves with his strong wife and a few other people and founds Brown Ville that becomes a magnet to free people of colour and runaway slaves. The small settlement grows quickly, offering opportunities to the coloured people but grating on the whites. There are numerous horrific and totally unjustified attacks on them, but their courage and spirit shine on.

Then the story focuses on little Louisiana Brown, who suffers more than her share of trauma but she epitomises the soul of Brown Ville in her strength and determination to succeed. She has her own natural curiosity and intelligence to support her, as well as a loving family and a cousin, Moxie. The two become inseparable despite their very different upbringings. So when Moxie is forced to leave home, Louisiana – or Baby Girl as Moxie calls her – is bereft. But worse is to come. After her father and brother are senselessly killed before her eyes, and her mother and little brother vanish during a night of terror, she flees and eventually tracks Moxie down in New Orleans. Reunited, these two spirited, exceptional young women begin their conquest of this vibrant city in a somewhat unconventional way.

This is a gripping book. There’s humour, horror, romance, violence, injustice, loyalty but above all hope and optimism, and a fascinating set of characters. And there’s more to come – this is the first book in a trilogy.

I asked Beaux Lee some questions about Seeding and also about being an author.

Tell us very briefly about Seeding.

Seeding is the foundation of the trilogy, Flowers Die Young. I really wanted to take my time and thoroughly introduce my reader to not only my characters but also my setting, New Orleans. With an understanding of both, I thought it would make for a far more authentic feel to the story as a whole.

What’s the story behind the story? Why did you write this book?

I just wanted to shed some light on some of the things that went on in New Orleans in the past. I researched the city’s history and it almost seemed like a story that someone had made up already. A city that is older than the country itself and influenced by various countries, that was relaxed about slavery and allowed open racial mixing during a forbidden time in history, that legalized prostitution, was the home of mafia plots for presidential assassinations… the list goes on. I found this very fascinating and just let my imagination run wild with some of the facts that I discovered. I hope I encourage others to look into this historically unique city as well.

Who’s your favorite character?

Madame Leblanc. While researching and learning about the madams who ran the brothels of Storyville in New Orleans, I was most intrigued. This character quickly came to life before there ever was a story to write. I spent so much time developing her that I had to edit much of it out to shorten my book!

Which character is most like you?

Larry Brazier. I think we are very similar. Hardworking, strong, quiet, but when we speak we strive to make it impactful. Patient and long-suffering, but ready and willing to make a stand as well.

What makes Seeding stand out from the crowd?

I think it is unique because it is covering a very unique time and place in history. Not many have written about life in New Orleans during the times stretching from slavery and running up into life in America’s only red light district. It seems as though those would be worlds apart yet this was reality. Therefore Seeding actually sets itself apart.

Seeding has a fantastic cover. Tell us about that.

I found it difficult to find a single image that I felt would capture my book in its entirety. I had the joy of working with a great illustrator, Reese Dante. The moment he suggested this cover I was blown away. Everything revolves around these two characters and I think the cover depicts them in their purest form.

What made you decide to go the self-publishing route?

I feel that things have changed for the better. There are pros and cons to each way of publishing but at the end of the day, I believe that the things you can do for yourself, you should do. Do what you can, learn on the fly if you have to. The gratification you get from pushing that ‘save and continue’ or ‘publish’ button makes it all worth it.

What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?

Don’t give up! Nothing is too difficult. If you love to write and wish to share it with the world, nothing can stop you in this day and age but yourself.

What are you reading at the moment?

The Bible. The 1611 King James version. Researching for my next project!

Do you write every day? Is it hard to find the time?

It depends. Sometimes I lock myself away for days to write morning, noon, and night. Other times I feel like I’m forcing it. I’m not afraid of taking a few days off from writing altogether either. It can be challenging at times but where there’s a will there’s a way.

What ereading device do you have? And why did you choose that one?

I read from my kindle, iPhone, iPad, or anywhere else that I can. No preference here.

Do you dress up or dress down to write? Or maybe you don’t dress at all?!

I definitely dress down!

Where can we find your website? And on other social media?

My website still isn’t up yet. I am on google+, Beaux Lee, as well as twitter @beauxl. Please connect with me there!

And finally anything else we need to know about you?

Nope, I’m a simple man!


Seeding is available in Kindle format from all the Amazon websites

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Tan by David Lawlor: “I wanted to tell a good yarn with lots of pace”

tanAfter stumbling across the local police inspector in-flagrante during a party, Liam has to flee Ireland to avoid a trumped up rape charge. In England he joins the army and serves his time in the hell of the First World War. After demobbing, he finds the respect promised the surviving soldiers to be swamped by the anti-Irish racism of the time and loses his job. Starving and at rock bottom he is induced to join an auxiliary police force being formed to respond the military campaign by the IRA.  Paradoxically his unit is assigned back to his home county. Initially he tries to maintain discipline and standards in his unit but, as the senior figures in the establishment encourage the amoral elements of the force to commit the excesses that the Black and Tans became infamous for, Liam’s divided loyalties are stretched too far and Liam defects to his local brigade.  As the insurgency and reprisals intensify, Liam finds himself in mortal combat with the very inspector who framed him. In the balance is not just Liam’s life but those of his family and friends.

This is a great story with a slow and deliberate build up to an exciting finale. The book examines a difficult time in Anglo-Irish relations and the racism of the time is exposed in frank terms. I found the characters very believable: I’m sure that few people set out to be the bad guy but usually arrive there in small steps. The plot was  engaging and developed well, and the  fractures in society caused by WW1 and the Emergency were well portrayed by the author. I enjoyed this book immensely and have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending it to anyone and everyone. This is historical fiction at its best. Five stars.

And now let’s hear from David about this book and writing in general.

Tell us briefly about Tan.

Tan is set in Ireland in 1914 and tells the story of Liam Mannion, a young man who is wrongly accused of a crime and forced to flee to England. He enlists and is sent to France. After five years of trench warfare he returns to England a changed man. Liam falls on hard times and eventually is encouraged to join a new military force headed to Ireland – the Black and Tans.

   While he has been away, many of his friends have joined the republican cause in the fight for Irish independence. Liam now finds himself on the opposite side. Not only that, but he is posted to his old home town, Balbriggan. The Tans turn out to be thugs and Liam must wrestle with his torn loyalties to his friends and family as he comes face to face with the man who spread lies about him all those years before

Photo of some Tans from David's website
Photo of some Tans from David’s website

What’s the story behind your book? How did you become involved with the book’s subject, the Black and Tans in Northern Ireland.

The story deals with the Black and Tans in southern Ireland during our War of Independence, which began in 1919. I have always been interested in this era, mainly because my grandfather was heavily involved in the war and subsequent civil war. Like many people, I wondered how I would have reacted in those testing times. I was also fascinated by the role played by the Tans. They still cast a dark shadow on our history, not least because of the still unacknowledged fact that over 20pc of them were actually Irishmen. I wanted to try to see things from a Tan’s perepctive and explore the conflicts its Irish members must have felt wearing that uniform.

Who are the characters based on?

One character, Frank, who is Liam’s best friend, is very loosley based on the Flying Column leader, Tom Barry. The rest all come from my twisted imagination!

Who’s your favorite character?

That’s a toughy. There were are a few I grew to really like. Frank is the real action figure, along with Liam. He was fun to write as was Liam’s father, Dan, and Liam’s love interest, Kate.

David LawlorHow much impact do your personal experiences have on your writing?

They say ‘write what you know’. Well, I like to write about what interests me and if I can slip in a few experiences of my own into a character’s makeup, then I will.

What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them? 

I wanted to tell a good yarn with lots of pace…a story that would be gripping and hard to put down. I hope I came close.

What are some of the references that you used while researching this book?

I got a few books on the War of Independence. I found a great book called IRA Jailbreaks, which was a great help in one section of the story. I already had a couple of books on World War One. These, combined with internet searches, gave me all I needed. Plus, George Orwell’s Down And Out In Paris And London was helpful in scenes I wrote related to vagrancy

What was the hardest part of writing Tan?

The editing, the re-writes and accepting your gut instinct that something wasn’t quite working.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Getting totally wrapped up in the characters, and when the dialogue starts to really flow. Also, those rare times when a scene really develops quite quickly and you capture it well.
How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and self vs. traditional publishing?
I hate the snobbery involved. I have tried to be published the traditional way, but have had no joy so far. I feel that there are some pretty poor print books out there and and even larger amount of ebooks. That said, there are some  real gems when it comes to ebooks, too. I feel that just because something is available electronically doesn’t make it any worse than some work whose pages you can turn in your hand. However, one thing I absolutely can’t stand (no reflection on you here, Stephanie) is the self-promotion I must do for my book. I have a blog and use Twitter but, really, my heart isn”t into much of the social media, which is a bit of a bummer when it comes to plugging your own book.
What authors do you like to read?

John Connolly, Jo Nesbo, Robert Harris, lots and lots

 Do you write every single day?

When I have a project I’m working on I try to write a thousand words a day. I write on the 50-minute train journey in and out of work and on my lunchbreak
How do you remain sane as a writer?
I have four children and a very busy wife to help knock me back to the real world. They are a tonic
Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer?
Yes…angst, angst and more angst that you are not good enough or that a storyline/character just doesn”t cut the mustard.
What are you writing now?
I have just finished the sequel to Tan, which is being read by a few people before I decide to sign-off on it. I will send it out to agents to begin with, but will self-publish if that doesn’t work out. I am researching a third book in the series at the moment, which is set around Michael Collins and the Treaty talks in London.
Do visit David’s fascinating website:

You can buy David’s book here:
tan david lawlor

Also available from Smashwords here.

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Book Review: The First Apostle by Katherine Pym

The First Apostle by Katherine Pym is gripping historical fiction. Set in Paris, it relates the story of journalist and pamphleteer Camille Desmoulins during the period of the French Revolution. He was an active and outspoken revolutionary, a close friend of Robespierre and other influential politicians. From verging on starvation and being forced to live on maggoty bread and wine more often than he’d like, as his fame as a controversial writer grew, so did his fortune. He was finally able to marry his beloved Lucile and enjoy domestic happiness with her and their son Henri for a short while. However, he walked a dangerous line. He made powerful enemies and eventually he ends up on the wrong side of a farcical trial. It was a risk he took by choosing his path. But his unpopularity leaves his wife at great risk too, and Camille would not have her harmed for the world.

This is a very exciting, atmospheric novel. The author’s enthusiasm for and interest in her topic shows in every word. She paints an intricate portrait of life in late eighteenth-century France. The problems, the prejudices, the joys, the horrors shine through. We meet every emotion from love to hate, from hop to despair and bump into a whole range of interesting characters. Some appeal, some repel but they’re all memorable. It’s an absorbing read and it’s hard to put down. The First Apostle leaves you feeling enriched and educated and is a book you won’t forget for a long time.