- Publication Date: January 23, 2014
New Arcadia Publishing
Set amid the twisting streets and sunlit piazzas of medieval Italy, the Towers of Tuscany tells the story of a woman who dares to follow her own path in the all-male domain of the painter’s workshop. Sofia Barducci is born into a world where a woman is only as good as the man who cares for her, but she still claims the right to make her own mistakes. Her first mistake is convincing her father to let her marry Giorgio Carelli, a wealthy saffron merchant in San Gimignano, the Tuscan city of towers. Trained in secret by her father to create the beautifully-crafted panels and altarpieces acclaimed today as masterpieces of late medieval art, Sofia’s desire for freedom from her father’s workshop leads her to betray her passion and sink into a life of loveless drudgery with a husband who comes to despise her when she does not produce a son.
In an attack motivated by vendetta, Sofia’s father is crushed by his own fresco, compelling Sofia to act or risk the death of her soul. The choice she makes takes her on a journey from misery to the heights of passion—both as a painter and as a woman. Sofia escapes to Siena where, disguised as a boy, she paints again. When her work attracts the notice of a nobleman who discovers the woman under the dirty smock, Sofia is faced with a choice that nearly destroys her.
The Towers of Tuscany unites a strong heroine with meticulously researched settings and compelling characters drawn from the rich tapestry of medieval Italy during one of Europe’s most turbulent centuries. The stylishly written plot is packed with enough twists and turns to keep readers up long past their bedtimes.
The Towers of Tuscany is a very powerful story about a woman’s passion for art and independence. Sofia is a wonderful character who will face any obstacle to remain true to herself and her true passion. Since her birth, Sofia has been surrounded by art. Her father taught her the intricacies of frescoes and panels. He taught her to look at the world differently. She took all of his lessons to heart and attempted to make a world for herself.
I really loved the way Ms. Cram used flashback conversations between Sofia and her father to really enhance how Sofia looked at life. Her father really made Sofia into who she was. I’m not sure it was really fair to her due to the fact that being a woman in medieval Italy was extremely limited. Sofia had to hide her talent and passion to paint. She sacrificed everything to achieve her dream.
Ms. Cram’s description of the medieval art world was so descriptive and detailed. You feel that you are actually in a workshop smelling and seeing the creation of a panel or fresco.
There are some characters that I really didn’t like which was, I believe, the author’s intent. Sofia’s love interests started out to be so hopeful and optimist; but in the end, both men wanted her to give up her life as an artist and become basically their wife in servitude. It was so sad to see Sofia’s heart break each time. Ms. Cram really captured the misogynistic tone of medieval Italy.
The Towers of Tuscany is a wonderful book about passion and courage. The backdrop of medieval Italy was beautiful and so vibrant. You could picture Sofia’s world in your mind. You could feel her passion and pain. This book just makes you feel.
About the Author
Carol M. Cram has enjoyed a great career as an educator, teaching at Capilano University in North Vancouver for over twenty years and authoring forty-plus bestselling textbooks on business communications and software applications. She holds an MA in Drama from the University of Toronto and an MBA from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. Carol is currently focusing as much of her attention as she can spare between walks in the woods on writing historical novels with an arts twist.
She and her husband, painter Gregg Simpson, share a life on beautiful Bowen Island near Vancouver, Canada.
Virtual Book Tour Schedule
Monday, April 14 Review at Historical Novel Reviews Tuesday, April 15 Review & Giveaway at Kinx’s Book Nook Wednesday, April 16 Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past Thursday, April 17 Review at Book Lovers Paradise Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages Friday, April 18 Review at A Chick Who Reads Guest Post & Giveaway at Just One More Chapter Monday, April 21 Review at CelticLady’s Reviews Excerpt & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time Tuesday, April 22 Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book Guest Post at Kincavel Korner Wednesday, April 23 Review at Flashlight Commentary Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book Thursday, April 24 Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views Interview at Flashlight Commentary Friday, April 25 Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace
The new novel The Chalice, by Nancy Bilyeau, sends readers on a page-turning historical quest. Set in Henry VIII’s England, the story is driven by plot twists, deceptions, spiritual searching and romantic tension. Readers fall in love with protagonist Joanna Stafford, a Catholic novice forced to leave her priory and find her answers. “She is strong and determined and very likable,” says one blogger. “Exhilarating,” says Good Housekeeping, and “The novel is riveting and provides fascinating insight into into the lives of displaced nuns and priests, with fully realized characters,” says RT Book Reviews. Launching in paperback on March 18 and available in ebook too.
by Nancy Bilyeau
Publication Date: March 18, 2014
Series: Joanna Stafford, Book Two
Genre: Historical Mystery
Between the crown and the cross stands one woman…
IN 1538, ENGLAND is in the midst of bloody power struggles that threaten to tear the country apart. Aristocrat-turned-novice Joanna Stafford knows what lies inside the king’s torture rooms and risks imprisonment when she is caught up in an international plot targeting the king. As the power plays turn vicious, Joanna understands she may have to assume her role in a prophecy foretold by three different seers.
Joanna realizes the life of Henry VIII, as well as the future of Christendom, are in her hands—hands that must someday hold the chalice that lies at the center of these deadly prophecies…
Praise for The Chalice
“A brilliant and gripping page-turner…A fascinating blend of politics, religion, mysticism and personal turmoil. Well-researched and filled with sumptuous detail, it follows Joanna’s early life from Bilyeau’s début novel, The Crown, but this book easily stands on its own. Bilyeau fills in the blanks from her earlier work while leaving the reader both wanting to read the first book and eagerly awaiting the next. This is a must-read for lovers of historical fiction.” – Free Lance-Star
“English history buffs and mystery fans alike will revel in Nancy Bilyeau’s richly detailed sequel to The Crown.” – Parade
“The novel is riveting, and provides fascinating insight into the lives of displaced nuns and priests during the tumultuous Tudor period. Bilyeau creates fully realized characters, with complex actions and emotions, driving the machinations of these historic personages.” – RT Book Reviews, (Top Pick)
“The human and political battles of Henry VIII’s reformation are brought to exhilarating life in The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau.” – Good Housekeeping UK, April 2014
“Bilyeau sends her plucky former novice back into the intrigue-laden court of Henry VIII.” – Entertainment Weekly
“Bilyeau continues from her first novel the subtle, complex development of Joanna’s character and combines that with a fast-paced, unexpected plot to hold the reader’s interest on every page . . . history and supernatural mysticism combine in this compelling thriller.” – Historical Novel Society
“Joanna Stafford is a young novice caught up in power struggles familiar to readers of Hilary Mantel and C.J. Sansom, but with elements of magic that echo the historical thrillers of Kate Mosse.” – S.J. Parris, author of ‘Heresy,’ ‘Prophecy’ and ‘Sacrilege’
“[A] layered book of historical suspense.” – Kirkus Reviews
“The Chalice is an engrossing mix of the complicated politics of the Reformation with the magical elements of the Dominican order, and Joanna–fiery, passionate, determined to honor what she thinks God wants her to do–is a fascinating character. Fans of historical mysteries, Tudor politics and supernatural fiction will all be pleased by the broad scope, quick-moving plot and historical integrity of Bilyeau’s second novel.” – Shelf Awareness
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Nancy Bilyeau has worked on the staffs of InStyle, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Ladies Home Journal. She is currently the executive editor of DuJour magazine. Her screenplays have placed in several prominent industry competitions. Two scripts reached the semi-finalist round of the Nicholl Fellowships of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Her screenplay “Zenobia” placed with the American Zoetrope competition, and “Loving Marys” reached the finalist stage of Scriptapalooza. A native of the Midwest, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. THE CROWN, her first novel, was published in 2012; the sequel, THE CHALICE, followed in 2013.
Some earlier milestones: In 1661, Nancy’s ancestor, Pierre Billiou, emigrated from France to what was then New Amsterdam when he and his family sailed on the St. Jean de Baptiste to escape persecution for their Protestant beliefs. Pierre built the first stone house on Staten Island and is considered the borough’s founder. His little white house is on the national register of historic homes and is still standing to this day.
Nancy lives in New York City with her husband and two children.
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Nancy Bilyeau Gives an Inside Peek Behind THE CHALICE
Book Blast Schedule
Monday, March 17
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Thursday, March 20
Friday, March 21
Publication Date: April 8, 2014
Atria Books Hardcover; 384p
From one of America’s most imaginative storytellers comes a passionate tale of love and treachery, spanning the days of Catherine de Medici’s court to the twenty-first century and starring a woman drawn back, time and again, to the past.
In 1533, an Italian orphan with an uncanny knack for creating fragrance is plucked from poverty to become Catherine de Medici’s perfumer. To repay his debt, over the years René le Florentine is occasionally called upon to put his vast knowledge to a darker purpose: the creation of deadly poisons used to dispatch the Queen’s rivals.
But it’s René’s other passion—a desire to reanimate a human breath, to bring back the lives of the two people whose deaths have devastated him—that incites a dangerous treasure hunt five centuries later. That’s when Jac L’Etoile—suffering from a heartache of her own—becomes obsessed with the possibility of unlocking Rene’s secret to immortality.
Soon Jac’s search reconnects her with Griffin North, a man she’s loved her entire life. Together they confront an eccentric heiress whose art collection rivals many museums and who is determined to keep her treasures close at hand, not just in this life but in her next.
Set in the forest of Fontainebleau, crisscrossing the lines between the past and the present, M.J. Rose has written a mesmerizing tale of passion and obsession. This is a gothic tale perfect for fans of Anne Rice, Deborah Harkness, and Diana Galbadon.
The Collector of Dying Breaths is a wonderful book of intrigue, sensuality and deadly passion. This totally mesmerized me and I couldn’t put it down. I was caught in its fire and I couldn’t put it down.
In the beginning, Jac is in denial and pain. She isn’t able to accept her abilities or her life. However, by trying to fulfill her brother’s experiments she is able to finally accept who she is and not live her life in fear. She has found her passion again and it is a deep and sensual passion. Her connection with Griffin is incredibly passionate and romantic. It is timeless.
Rene is an excellent and moving character. I love the scents he seemed to create. Ms. Rose’s description of each fragrance seemed to real and vivid. Each fragrance brought so much passion!
Now, Melinoe is a great villainous character. She is obsessive and broken. Her live revolves around her collections and her obsession to remain with them. She cares not for people; only her prized possessions. Her brother, Serge, knows of her character and still remains by her side. Their life is so tragic; beginning, middle and end.
The Collector of Dying Deaths is a must read for any true romantic. It is full of love, hate, obsession and finally fulfillment. It is to die for. I will end with my favorite line of the book:
The secret, which is not so secret after all, is that people who we love live in our hearts, in the beat of our blood.
Praise for The Collector of Dying Breaths
“History, mystery, ambition, lust, love, death and the timeless quest for immortality…a riveting tale of suspense.” – B.A.Shapiro, New York Times bestselling author of The Art Forger
“Mysterious, magical, and mythical…what a joy to read!” – Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author
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M.J. Rose is the international best selling author of fourteen novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in many magazines and reviews including Oprah Magazine. She has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – Authorbuzz.com. The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Renincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and runs the blog- Buzz, Balls & Hype. She is also the co-founder of Peroozal.com and BookTrib.com.
Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.
Publication Date: December 2, 2013
LightEye Editions Paperback; 396p
A few months after Richard FitzUrse and his fellow knights murder Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, Lord Robert and Lady FitzUrse are instructed by King Henry to make a penitential pilgrimage to the tomb of Saint James the Greater in Spain in order to earn redemption for his disgraced family.
William Beaumont has made a promise to his dead mother and younger sister to go on a pilgrimage to save their souls. William is secretly in love with Alicia Bearham, niece of Lord Robert. He is overjoyed when he is asked to accompany the family and their servants on their three-month pilgrimage.
They face many adversities, dangers, and an attempted murder on the long and hazardous journey across England, France and Spain. Who is trying to kill Sir Robert and Alicia? What does the gypsy woman they meet in Paris mean when she predicts that Alicia and William are destined to be soul mates, but only when the eleventh flaming star returns to the skies and the water carrier rises over the horizon? One fateful night, a shocking event changes their lives forever.
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Sylvia Nilsen, well known in the Camino world for her ‘amaWalker blog’ is a South African freelance writer who has been published in numerous local and international publications.
She has worked as a research agent and editor for a UK-based travel guide publisher and produced several African city and country guides.
Sylvia has walked over 5,000 km of pilgrimage trails in Europe including Paris to Spain, the Camino Frances from St Jean Pied de Port and Roncesvalles to Santiago, from Lourdes to Pamplona, el Ferrol to Santiago, Santiago to Finisterre and from Switzerland to Rome on the Via Francigena. She also walked from Durban to Cape Town as part of the ‘Breaking Free’ team in aid of abused women and children. Sylvia has served as a volunteer hospitalero in Spain and is a Spanish accredited hospitalero trainer having trained over 40 people to serve as volunteers in Spain. She was the Regional Co-ordinator for the Confraternity of St James in South Africa from 2003 to 2010.
In 2009 she started amaWalkers Camino (Pty) Ltd and takes small groups of pilgrims on three weeks walks of the Camino Frances in Spain.
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Virtual Book Tour Schedule
Tuesday, February 25 Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, February 27 Spotlight & Giveaway at Kinx’s Book Nook
Friday, February 28 Guest Post at A Bookish Libraria
Wednesday, March 5 Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Thursday, March 6 Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Friday, March 7 Review at Reading the Ages
Monday, March 10 Review & Guest Post at Just One More Chapter
Tuesday, March 11 Review at The Most Happy Reader
Thursday, March 13 Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Friday, March 14 Interview at Layered Pages
Monday, March 17 Review at Book Nerd
Tuesday, March 18 Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, March 19 Guest Post at Kelsey’s Book Corner
Thursday, March 20 Review at From L.A. to LA
Friday, March 21 Spotlight at Passages to the Past
Written by Loïc Dauvillier, Marc Lizano (Illustrations), Greg Salsedo (Ink), Alexis Siegel (Translator)
To be published on April 1, 2014 by First Second
Graphic Novel – Historical
Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
In this gentle, poetic young graphic novel, Dounia, a grandmother, tells her granddaughter the story even her son has never heard: how, as a young Jewish girl in Paris, she was hidden away from the Nazis by a series of neighbors and friends who risked their lives to keep her alive when her parents had been taken to concentration camps.
Hidden ends on a tender note, with Dounia and her mother rediscovering each other as World War II ends . . . and a young girl in present-day France becoming closer to her grandmother, who can finally, after all those years, tell her story. With words by Loïc Dauvillier and art by Marc Lizano and Greg Salsedo, this picture book-style comic for young readers is a touching read.
Hidden is a beautifully written and illustrated book about a horrific time in our history. I felt extremely comfortable for my eight-year-old to read it as well. It is a perfect introduction for a young minds without scarring them and giving them nightmares.
However, as an adult, I felt all the pain and humiliation that was portrayed in Hidden. Dounia had an amazing journey during the war. So many people risked their lives to save hers. This book depicted her incredibly scary journey in fairly simplistic terms to make sure that a child like Dounia could feel her fear and uncertainty.
I loved that Dounia began her story with her granddaughter on her lap. It brings in a younger generation who have no idea what happened during the Holocaust. I really love multi-generational stories where the older generation tells their life story to the younger generation. There is so much wisdom, and sadness to their stories. It breaks your heart while at the same time, heals it.
I really can’t wait to share this book with my daughter. I feel she’s not quite ready for Diary of Anne Frank; but Hidden is a great way to introduce a very scary time in our history. I will give her a good sense of what happened so they will never forget; because the millions of people who were murdered CANNOT be forgotten.
Between the Cracks
Written by Carmella Cattuti
Published on August 20, 2013 by Three Towers Press
Received from HFVBT in exchange for an honest review
Join Angela Lanza as she experiences the tumultuous world of early 20th century Sicily and New York. Orphaned by the earthquake and powerful eruption of Mr. Etna in 1908, Angela is raised in the strict confines of an Italian convent. Through various twists of fate, she is married to a young Italian man whom she barely knows, then together with her spouse, immigrates to the U.S. This novel is an invitation to accompany the young Angela as she confronts the ephemeral nature of life on this planet and navigates the wide cultural gaps between pre-World War II Italy and the booming prosperity of dynamic young America. Join Angela Lanza as she traverses the tumultuous landscape of Sicily and New York.
Between the Cracks is a powerful story of ongoing tragedy but also one of continued hope. What I found so amazing is that this book is semi-biographical; taken from life the of the author’s great-aunt. I can’t imagine someone experiencing all of that tragedy and still remain sane. One would think by reading about tragedy, the story would be become incredibly depressing and tiresome. But not this book. It will keep you engaged and wanting to know about more about this family.
Angela and Franco make an interesting couple. First of all, their marriage was basically arranged. No love; but wanting to get away or find the right kind of person. Both had their motives for wanting to marry a complete stranger. I found that to be so intriguing and so different from what I know. They spent their entire marriage trying to get to know each other. There were so many times that I thought they were complete strangers to each other, even when they had been married for many years. But in the end, their bond was extremely strong.
The tragedy that Angela faced seems so incredible to me. Plus that she was able to overcome and survive just amazes me. I loved watching her grow from an insecure little girl to a strong, confident woman who takes care of her family. She ended being the backbone that everyone came to for help. She was their savior. Your heart will break as Angela’s continues to search for her lost sister. Loss after loss, Angela was still able to endure and maintain her home.
Franco frustrated me at times; but he was a good man. He faced his own turmoil and did his best to deal with his life. The frustrating times for me were when kept he himself ignorant over his little sister’s situation. He wouldn’t interfere until it was too late. I found that to be so incredibly sad.
Between the Cracks is a very special book about a young woman’s journey to overcome tragedy and loss and find a place in a new world. Please read and be prepared to be overwhelmed with all kinds of emotions.
Carmela Cattuti started her writing career as a journalist for the Somerville News in Boston, MA. After she finished her graduate work in English Literature from Boston College she began to write creatively and taught a journal writing course at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education As fate would have it, she felt compelled to write her great aunt’s story. “Between the Cracks” has gone through several incarnations and will now become a trilogy. This is the first installment. To connect with Carmela email her firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment at betweenthecracksnovel.
Follow the Tour
Thursday, February 13 Guest Post at Broken Teepee
Friday, February 14 Review at Just One More Chapter
In a dark age of unending war and violence, one young warrior opposes a mighty king to forge a new path to peace…
During the savage Frankish-Saxon wars, the moving force of his age, Karl der Grosse, King Charlemagne, fights and rules like the pagan enemies he seeks to conquer. But in the long shadow of war and genocide, a spark of enlightenment grows, and the king turns to learned men to help him lead his empire to prosperity.
One of these men is the unlikely young warrior Sebastian. Raised in an isolated fortress on the wild Saxon border, Sebastian balances his time in the training yard with hours teaching himself to read, seeking answers to the great mysteries of life during an age when such pastimes were scorned by fighting men. Sebastian’s unique combination of skills endears him to Charlemagne and to the ladies of the king’s court, though the only woman to hold his heart is forbidden to him. As the king determines to surround himself with men who can both fight and think beyond the fighting, Sebastian becomes one of the privileged few to hold the king’s ear.
But the favor of the king does not come without a cost. As Charlemagne’s vassals grapple for power, there are some who will do anything to see Sebastian fall from grace, including his ruthless cousin Konrad, whose hatred and jealousy threaten to destroy everything Sebastian holds dear. And as Sebastian increasingly finds himself at odds with the king’s brutal methods of domination and vengeance, his ingrained sense of honor and integrity lead him to the edge of treason, perilously pitting himself against the most powerful man of his age.
This fast-paced adventure story brings Charlemagne’s realm to life as the vicious Christian-pagan wars of the eighth century decide the fate of Europe. Filled with action, intrigue, and romance, Sebastian’s Way is a riveting and colorful recreation of the world of Europe’s greatest medieval monarch.
Sebastian’s Way is an inspiring story of a young man’s journey during a time of great violence and ignorance. The story takes place during the early reign of Charlemagne. Life was so hard during that time. War defined a man; not his desire to learn. Sebastian thrived to rise about expectations and live a life he can be proud of.
Mr. Steger has written a very rich and engaging piece of historical fiction. He was able to give the readers a vivid picture of life during the 700s. It was dark and dirty but also full of hope of what could be. Sebastian represented that hope of growth and improvement.
Charlemagne is a larger than life character. He is passionate, intelligent and powerful. At times, he can be very compassionate. He is a great king but with a few flaws; like winning at all costs. However, in the end, he was able to listen and make decisions that benefit everyone; all with Sebastian’s wise counsel.
Sebastian’s Way is a wonderful book that I highly recommend. It is full of historical detail and I loved every page!
A native of Louisiana, the author followed a long tradition of young men from the Deep South by seeking to improve his prospects in the military. From a green second lieutenant in the famed 101st Airborne Division to battalion command in Vietnam, Colonel Steger spent most of the rest of his military career in four European tours as an intelligence officer and Russian foreign area specialist, working on both sides of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. He traded sword for plowshare in a second career in academia and is now Professor Emeritus of history and international affairs at the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kansas. The motivation to write Sebastian’s Way came from his experiences in both war and peace, from fourteen years in Germany and Eastern Europe, and from his love of teaching medieval and other European history courses.
Steger is an avid hiker and trail biker, and much of the story of Sebastian came out of time spent in the woods and fields of eastern Kansas. In memory of Mary Jo, his wife of many years, he and filmmaker son Ben spent a recent summer trekking across Spain on The Camino de Santiago, one of Europe’s oldest pilgrimage trails. He lives and writes in rural Kansas and has four other grown and gifted children.
Monday, January 13 Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, January 14 Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, January 16 Giveaway at Layers of Thought
Tuesday, January 21 Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Wednesday, January 22 Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Thursday, January 23 Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Friday, January 24 Giveaway at Bibliophilic Book Blog
Monday, January 27 Review at The Most Happy Reader
Tuesday, January 28 Review at The Musings of a Book Junkie
Wednesday, January 29 Interview & Giveaway at The Most Happy Reader
Friday, January 31 Review at Book Nerd
Monday, February 3 Review at Closed the Cover
Tuesday, February 4 Guest Post at HF Connection
Wednesday, February 5 Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Thursday, February 6 Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
I’m so excited to be a part of the The Tenth Saint blog tour. Here is an amazing excerpt! Enjoy and happy reading!
In Chapter Thirty-two, Sarah Weston meets her antagonist: the man who has been trying to silence the prophecy of the tenth saint. Not only is Sandor Hughes the mastermind behind so much evil, he also is the architect of a heinous environmental crime that threatens the very balance of the Earth. Or is he?
The fingers of sunrise were barely touching the sky when Sarah’s captor pulled up to the Gulfstream G-550 parked on the private aviation tarmac at Brussels Airport. Two dark-suited men with coiled wires extending from their ears to the inside of their collars stood at the base of the stairway. One spoke into a microphone on his wrist, announcing the car’s arrival, and the other opened the door and helped Sarah out of the back seat. She shivered as the icy pre-dawn air hit her face. Neither of the guards said anything as they escorted Sarah up the stairs to the cabin of the Gulfstream.
Sarah knew these jets well, but this one was an extraordinary specimen. The interior had been customized to the hilt. Instead of a traditional configuration, the cabin was arranged like a living room with a modern, almost futuristic, sensibility. An elliptical white leather sectional faced a grouping of Lucite tables in various freeform shapes. Abstract art was mounted on the walls that divided the main cabin and the galley. The floor was made of a glossy, ebony stained wood composite, with an intarsia-style inlay of a familiar logo at the center. Before the black leather Eames lounge chair swiveled around, Sarah knew whom she was about to meet.
Sandor Hughes was a man in his eighties, ruddy faced and wearing a barbed grin. His white hair was thicker and wavier than a man his age should be entitled to. His blue eyes were dulled from cataracts but surveyed her with an alertness that betrayed a fierce intelligence. The chairman of Donovan Geodynamics waved his guards away with a pink, puffy hand and spoke in a raspy voice, not with the Texas accent she was expecting but rather with the familiar diction of a northeasterner.
“It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Sarah. Please, sit.”
Sarah sat tentatively on the edge of the sofa and waited for him to start the conversation. Her senses were on high alert as she faced the mastermind of all the evil that befell her expedition, a man capable of anything.
Hughes got right to the point. “I know you think you know who I am. The truth is, you’re right. And very, very wrong.”
She looked out the window. A drizzly morning was dawning, and in the gloom the Belgian capital looked older and more tired than usual. She kept quiet as Hughes resumed his narrative.
“Andrew Matakala was a brilliant young man with an education, a Western sensibility, and a whole lot of connections. I hired him to find the tomb and keep the prophecies hidden—nothing more. I had no way of knowing he would become more and more corrupt with every ounce of power he tasted. People have been hurt . . . killed. I never asked for that, never sanctioned it. I am many things, but I am not a murderer. Yet every drop of blood he spilled, I have on my hands.”
“Did you bring me all the way here for a confession?” Sarah snapped. “Or are you just trying to get me out of your way?”
“You know, you and I are more alike than you might want to believe,” he said, his hands shaking as he took a sip of his morning scotch. “When I was your age, before I saw the worst in human nature, I was much more of an idealist. I believed I could change the world . . . just as you do.”
“Don’t presume to know what I believe.” Her tone carried more emotion that she wanted to betray.
“How can I not? You’ve made it amply clear by taking on this quest to vindicate the tenth saint, even if it means gambling everything—your job, your reputation, the respect of your own kin. I admire that kind of conviction, I do. But there are things you don’t understand. You have no idea what’s at stake here. Not everything is as it appears.”
Sarah looked squarely into his opaque blue eyes, bloodshot to match his ruddy complexion. “Oh, I know what’s at stake. I’ve known men like you all my life. Everything is a pawn in your chess game. You need the Alliance’s support to advance Poseidon. And you need Poseidon to make Donovan the biggest provider of alternative energy in the world. So what if there are a few pesky thorns in your side? Just banish them, like all the others.” Her face was now hot with rage. “Where is your conscience, Mr. Hughes? Are you willing to put the earth’s future in jeopardy for your corporate profits?”
“Is that what you think? That I’m doing this for material gain? Because if that’s the case, you’re not as astute as I thought.”
“Then why are you trying to silence the messages of two people who saw with their own eyes an end brought on by exactly such a manipulation of the planet? The beast they spoke of and your Poseidon are one and the same. And yet you simply refuse to allow for such a possibility. It is the height of arrogance.”
He rose with great effort and leaned into a cane. He shuffled over to the bar and poured himself another two fingers of scotch over a single ice cube.
“If you believe the world could be destroyed by an errant algae, you’re absolutely right,” he said.
That took her by surprise. The last thing she was expecting was for him to agree with her.
“Only that algae won’t be Poseidon,” he continued. “What if I was to tell you that forty years from now, the world will be suffering so much from greenhouse gases that a company named Aurora Technologies will introduce a similar product that is far more aggressive and volatile? And that nations, anxious to counter the insidious effects of global warming in the face of vast deforestation, will not scrutinize it or test it adequately? That our leaders, desperate and out of time, will regard that program as the savior and hastily approve it without bothering to verify its stability? And that it will gradually bring about destruction, just as your prophets predicted?”
She was perplexed. Was this a theory? Or a declaration?
“If we continue on our current trajectory of manipulating the earth, Sarah, planetary conditions will deteriorate so rapidly that leaders will be forced to assume great risk to mitigate the damage. That’s why it’s important to go forward with Poseidon before things reach that breaking point. Our years of research have been focused on controlling the growth of the algae so that it does not spread or multiply out of control. We have foreseen every possible scenario—toxic substances, nuclear waste, extreme temperatures, changes in the atmosphere—and have been testing Poseidon against all of them. Our facility is so advanced that we are simulating true oceanic conditions. We are not the bad guys here, Sarah. We want the same things you want—to save the planet from certain ruin. If Poseidon gets voted down, we will hasten that ruin rather than curtail it.”
“So you say. But it’s not enough to make me change my mind. Anyway, it doesn’t matter what I think. The decision rests with the Alliance. It’s in their hands now.”
He coughed nervously and his face turned an ugly shade of magenta. He loosened his shirt collar to catch his breath. “Let me be candid here. I know you know things that could be very . . . damaging. I need your cooperation.”
Sarah stood. She stared him down, her teeth clenched but her thoughts clear. She wasn’t playing his game, damn the consequences. “Why would I want to cooperate with you, after all you’ve done?”
“Because I’m on your side, God damn it,” he thundered. “Yes, there will be a nuclear accident. It will be the most horrific, deadliest meltdown in the history of mankind. The runoff will spill into the oceans and Aurora’s algae will mutate and grow exponentially. There will be nothing anyone can do to stop it. With every additional square foot it occupies, it will consume more carbon dioxide. Before long it will crowd the oceans and cause marine life to die, sinking to the ocean floor and leaving behind a cloud of methane. The algae will eventually sap the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, leaving it with dangerously high levels of oxygen. The intense concentrations of methane will cause fires to erupt, and oxygen will feed their flames. One fire will beget another. And another. And another, until fires rage all over the earth, leaving destruction and death in their wake. And all will be lost.” He looked out the window with misty eyes. “Your prophets are right.”
Sarah froze. A chill raked her skin, and the fine white hairs on her arms stood on end.
“Who are you?” she asked, though she already knew the answer.
About the Author
She is the mother of twin toddlers and, in her spare time, volunteers for causes she believes in—literacy, education, child advocacy, and the advancement of traditional and tribal arts from around the world. Born in Athens, Greece, she now lives with her family in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Monday, January 27 Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Tuesday, January 28 Review at Book Nerd
Thursday, January 30 Excerpt at Kinx’s Book Nook
Friday, January 31 Review at Sir Read-a-Lot
Monday, February 3 Review at Royalty Free Fiction
Tuesday, February 4 Guest Post at Royalty Free Fiction
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Cool Gus Publishing
Isabella is just twelve years old when she marries Edward II of England. For the young princess it is love at first sight – but Edward has a terrible secret that threatens to tear their marriage – and England apart.
Who is Piers Gaveston – and why is his presence in the king’s court about to plunge England into civil war?
The young queen believes in the love songs of the troubadours and her own exalted destiny – but she finds reality very different. As she grows to a woman in the deadly maelstrom of Edward’s court, she must decide between her husband, her children, even her life – and one breath-taking gamble that will change the course of history.
Does she submit to a lifetime of solitude and a spiritual death – or seize her destiny and take the throne of England for herself?
This is the story of Isabella, the only woman ever to invade England – and win.
I’m always intrigued by powerful historical women of the Middle Ages and that is why I decided to read about Isabella. Before I even started this book, I did a little research because I knew very little of her. Her portrayal in history has not been kind. She has been called a “She-Wolf” and a murderer. This definitely piqued by interest. I decided LONG ago that history very rarely portrays a powerful woman in a good light. And that is way I really enjoy Colin Falconer’s portrayal of Isabella. She is strong, loyal, and good. Not the “she-wolf” history has portrayed her.
Mr. Falconer has written a lovely historical novel about a woman who wants to be loved and be a good Queen and wife. She tries everything in her power to achieve that. She proves to England and English Barons that she is intellect, savvy, and understands what it is to be royal. Her husband and king never understand that and it frustrated her throughout her life as Queen. Mr. Falconer was able to show the despair she felt at being put aside for another. That rejection was a constant source of pain for her. The pain is what led her to make some serious decisions that changed England.
Edward II is adeptly portrayed as a self-absorbed pitiful king. His constant rejection of Isabella is so painful. No wonder she overthrows him to be her son on the throne. Edward had so concept of his role of King. He was a constant thorn to the people of England.
I truly enjoyed Isabella: Braveheart of France. I felt she was portrayed in a very honest light. She was a very strong and intelligent woman of the Middle Ages and I thought Mr. Falconer gave her a real and honest life.
About the Author
Born in London, Colin first trialed as a professional football player in England, and was eventually brought to Australia. He went to Sydney and worked in TV and radio and freelanced for many of Australia’s leading newspapers and magazines. He has published over twenty novels and his work has so far been translated into 23 languages.
He travels regularly to research his novels and his quest for authenticity has led him to run with the bulls in Pamplona, pursue tornadoes across Oklahoma and black witches across Mexico, go cage shark diving in South Africa and get tear gassed in a riot in La Paz.
His most recent novels are Silk Road, set in the 13th century, and Stigmata, set against the backdrop of the Albigensian Crusade in Southern France in 1209. He currently lives in Barcelona.
HFVBT Tour Dates:
Monday, January 6 Review at Seaside Book Corner
Tuesday, January 7 Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Wednesday, January 8 Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Thursday, January 9 Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Friday, January 10 Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, January 13 Review at A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, January 15 Review at Ageless Pages Review
Thursday, January 16 Review at Dee’s Reads
Friday, January 17 Review at Just One More Chapter
Tuesday, January 21 Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Wednesday, January 22 Review at The Bookworm
Thursday, January 23 Review & Giveaway at Words & Peace
Friday, January 24 Review at The Most Happy Reader
Tuesday, January 28 Review at Reading the Ages
Friday, January 31 Review at Turning the Pages
Monday, February 3 Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Tuesday, February 4 Review at Historical Fiction Notebook
Wednesday, February 5 Review at Book of Secrets
Thursday, February 6 Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Friday, February 7 Review at Found Between the Covers
A Divided Inheritance
Written by Deborah Swift
UK Publication Date: October 23, 2013
Pan MacMillan Paperback; 480p
Elspet Leviston’s greatest ambition is to continue the success of her father Nathaniel’s lace business. But her dreams are thrown into turmoil with the arrival of her mysterious cousin Zachary Deane – who has his own designs on Leviston’s Lace.
Zachary is a dedicated swordsman with a secret past that seems to invite trouble. So Nathaniel sends him on a Grand Tour, away from the distractions of Jacobean London. Elspet believes herself to be free of her hot-headed relative but when Nathaniel dies her fortunes change dramatically. She is forced to leave her beloved home and go in search of Zachary – determined to claim back from him the inheritance that is rightfully hers.
Under the searing Spanish sun, Elspet and Zachary become locked in a battle of wills. But these are dangerous times and they are soon embroiled in the roar and sweep of something far more threatening, sending them both on an unexpected journey of discovery which finally unlocks the true meaning of family . . .
A Divided Inheritance is a breathtaking adventure set in London just after the Gunpowder Plot and in the bustling courtyards of Golden Age Seville.
I love historical fiction and A Divided Inheritance is one of the reasons why. It is so rich in detail, drama and vivid imagery. I felt like I was traveling through Europe. Deborah Swift ably explores family, loyalty and duty in 17th century England; at a time, where Catholicism was forbidden in one country and violently enforced in another.
Elspet is our heroine in this novel. She is strong; but innocence. She has been given a difficult situation and very valiantly finds her path. She has to continually deal with a man’s shortcoming; whether it be her father, Hugh, or Zachary. However, she is strong and prevails.
Zachary is on a journey of self-discovery. His life prior to meeting Elspet and her father is very sad and full of abuse and violence. When he finds kindness but how does he deal with it? Poorly. Watching Elspet and Zachary trying to salvage their life is very interesting and compelling.
Religious intolerance is another aspect to this book. The fear and anxiety prevails throughout. The Inquisition is completely incomprehensible. I will never understand it. As well, as the intolerance in England. Elspet’s friar’s cellar instilled so much imagery in my mind. I couldn’t imagine having to practice my faith is secret. Same with the Moriscos in Spain. So much fear is just so sad.
A Divided Inheritance is a wonderful book full a rich historical detail. It is journey that definitely needs to be followed.
About the Author
Deborah Swift used to work in the theatre and at the BBC as a set and costume designer, before studying for an MA in Creative Writing in 2007. She lives in a beautiful area of Lancashire near the Lake District National Park. She is the author of The Lady’s Slipper and is a member of the Historical Writers Association, the Historical Novel Society, and the Romantic Novelists Association.
Virtual Book Tour Schedule
Wednesday, October 23 Review at Unabridged Chick
Thursday, October 24 Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Friday, October 25 Review at Luxury Reading
Wednesday, October 30 Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, October 31 Review at The Most Happy Reader
Friday, November 1 Interview at Layered Pages
Monday, November 4 Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Tuesday, November 5 Guest Post at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Wednesday, November 6 Review at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, November 7 Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, November 8 Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Monday, November 11 Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court
Tuesday, November 12 Review at Reading the Past
Thursday, November 14 Review & Giveaway at The Eclectic Reader
Friday, November 15 Review at Book of Secrets
Monday, November 18 Review at HF Book Muse-News
Wednesday, November 20 Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Monday, November 25 Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Tuesday, November 26 Review at So Many Books, So Little Time