Guest Post: Antonia Hodgson

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My debut novel, The Devil in the Marshalsea, is set in a debtors’ prison in London, in 1727.The Devil in the Marshalsea

On discovering this, most people ask me why. (It is a reasonable question.) The early eighteenth century is comparatively neglected by historical novelists, which is one answer to the question. I am drawn to neglected things.

I fell in love with the period in part because of the people I met there. They were familiar to me. Take John Grano, for instance. A talented musician who played trumpet in Handel’s orchestra, Grano was also terrible with money. A “live for today, pay for it tomorrow” sort of fellow. Inevitably, he ended up in debt. In 1728 he was thrown into the Marshalsea debtors’ prison and languished there for over a year.

Grano would have fallen out of history unremembered—but he happened to write a diary of his time in the Marshalsea, and it survived.

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A page of John Grano’s diary, edited by John Ginger.

 

Grano is not a great stylist or thinker. His spelling is interesting. (Eighteenth-century spelling is rather fluid.) He’s not a very good judge of character either—he makes friends with all the wrong people, has endless squabbles with his cell mates, and fails to realize that the jail’s keeper, William Acton, could be dangerous and cruel. (Acton was later tried for murder.)

But Grano is endearing precisely because he is flawed. He drinks too much and suffers terrible hangovers. He worries about his friends and gets sulky when they neglect him. He sends somewhat passive-aggressive begging notes to his hardworking sister. He becomes gloomy, then rallies himself. He finds solace in music and the company of ladies.

He is human, in other words, and beyond the obvious differences of time and place, very familiar.

There are some wonderful Georgian historians—scholars such as Lucy Worsley and Amanda Vickery. There are the contemporary novelists—Swift, Defoe, Fielding. There are the wise, clear-eyed, and witty paintings by Hogarth.

But nothing quite beats a primary source—and this period is rich with them. This was the age of pamphlets, broadsheets, ballads, and sermons. The birth of newspapers. Criminals waiting to be hanged wrote their memoirs. Courtiers wrote mischievous accounts of palace life. Travellers sent outraged letters about the debauched, drunken, foul-mouthed citizens of London.

And an impoverished musician wrote a diary to keep himself occupied in one of the worst places on earth.

In every one of these personal stories there is something strange and something familiar. There is an old saying: times change, and we change with them. But in our hearts, in the things that really matter—like love and betrayal, family and friendship—I don’t think we have changed at all.

And that, perhaps more than anything, is why I love discovering people like John Grano. And why I love writing historical fiction.

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About the AuthorAntonia Hodgson

Antonia Hodgson is the editor in chief of Little, Brown UK. She lives in London and can see the last fragments of the old city wall from her living room. The Devil in the Marshalsea is her first novel.

For more information please visit Antonia Hodgson’s website. You can also find her on Goodreads and Twitter.

The Devil in the Marshalsea Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, June 10
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, June 11
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, June 12
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Monday, June 16
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Friday, June 20
Interview at Reading the Past

Monday, June 23
Guest Post at Kinx’s Book Nook

Wednesday, June 25
Review & Giveaway at Book Nerd

Monday, June 30
Interview at Caroline Wilson Writes

Tuesday, July 1
Review at Mina’s Bookshelf

Thursday, July 3
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews

Monday, July 7
Review & Giveaway at 100 Pages a Day

Tuesday, July 8
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict

Wednesday, July 9
Spotlight at Layered Pages

Friday, July 11
Review at Princess of Eboli
Spotlight & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

 

A Conversation with Deborah Harkness…And Giveaway!

A CONVERSATION WITH DEBORAH HARKNESS

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  Q: In your day job, you are a professor of history and science at the University of Southern California and have focused on alchemy in your research.  What aspects of this intersection between science and magic do you hope readers will pick up on while reading THE BOOK OF LIFE? There’s quite a bit more lab work in this book!

 A. There is. Welcome back to the present! What I hope readers come to appreciate is that science—past or present—is nothing more than a method for asking and answering questions about the world and our place in it. Once, some of those questions were answered alchemically. Today, they might be answered biochemically and genetically. In the future? Who knows. But Matthew is right in suggesting that there are really remarkably few scientific questions and we have been posing them for a very long time. Two of them are: who am I? why am I here?

 Q: Much of the conflict in the book seems to mirror issues of race and sexuality in our society, and there seems to be a definite moral conclusion to THE BOOK OF LIFE. Could you discuss this? Do you find that a strength of fantasy novels is their ability to not only to allow readers to escape, but to also challenge them to fact important moral issues?

 A. Human beings like to sort and categorize. We have done this since the beginnings of recorded history, and probably well back beyond that point. One of the most common ways to do that is to group things that are “alike” and things that are “different.” Often, we fear what is not like us. Many of the world’s ills have stemmed from someone (or a group of someones) deciding what is different is also dangerous. Witches, women, people of color, people of different faiths, people of different sexual orientations—all have been targets of this process of singling others out and labeling them different and therefore undesirable. Like my interest in exploring what a family is, the issue of difference and respect for difference (rather than fear) informed every page of the All Souls Trilogy. And yes, I do think that dealing with fantastic creatures like daemons, vampires, and witches rather than confronting issues of race or sexuality directly can enable readers to think through these issues in a useful way and perhaps come to different conclusions about members of their own families and communities. As I often say when people ask me why supernatural creatures are so popular these days: witches and vampires are monsters to think with.

Q: From the moment Matthew and a pregnant Diana arrive back at Sept-Tours and reinstate themselves back into a sprawling family of witches and vampires, it becomes clear that the meaning of family will be an important idea for THE BOOK OF LIFE. How does this unify the whole series? Did you draw on your own life?

A. Since time immemorial the family has been an important way for people to organize themselves in the world. In the past, the “traditional” family was a sprawling and blended unit that embraced immediate relatives, in-laws and their immediate families, servants, orphaned children, the children your partner might bring into a family from a previous relationship, and other dependents. Marriage was an equally flexible and elastic concept in many places and times. Given how old my vampires are, and the fact that witches are the keepers of tradition, I wanted to explore from the very first page of the series the truly traditional basis of family:  unqualified love and mutual responsibility. That is certainly the meaning of family that my parents taught me.

Q: While there are entire genres devoted to stories of witches, vampires, and ghosts, the idea of a weaver – a witch who weaves original spells – feels very unique to THE BOOK OF LIFE. What resources helped you gain inspiration for Diana’s uniqueness?

 A. Believe it or not, my inspiration for weaving came from a branch of mathematics called topology. I became intrigued by mathematical theories of mutability to go along with my alchemical theories of mutability and change. Topology is a mathematical study of shapes and spaces that theorizes how far something can be stretched or twisted without breaking. You could say it’s a mathematical theory of connectivity and continuity (two familiar themes to any reader of the All Souls Trilogy). I wondered if I could come up with a theory of magic that could be comfortably contained within mathematics, one in which magic could be seen to shape and twist reality without breaking it. I used fabric as a metaphor for this worldview with threads and colors shaping human perceptions. Weavers became the witches who were talented at seeing and manipulating the underlying fabric. In topology, mathematicians study knots—unbreakable knots with their ends fused together that can be twisted and shaped. Soon the mathematics and mechanics of Diana’s magic came into focus.

Q: A Discovery of Witches debuted at # 2 on the New York Times bestseller list and Shadow of Night debuted at #1. What has been your reaction to the outpouring of love for the All Souls Trilogy? Was it surprising how taken fans were with Diana and Matthew’s story?

A. It has been amazing—and a bit overwhelming. I was surprised by how quickly readers embraced two central characters who have a considerable number of quirks and challenge our typical notion of what a heroine or hero should be. And I continue to be amazed whenever a new reader pops up, whether one in the US or somewhere like Finland or Japan—to tell me how much they enjoyed being caught up in the world of the Bishops and de Clemonts. Sometimes when I meet readers they ask me how their friends are doing—meaning Diana, or Matthew, or Miriam. That’s an extraordinary experience for a writer.

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Q: Diana and Matthew, once again, move around to quite a number of locations in THE BOOK OF LIFE, including New Haven, New Orleans, and a few of our favorite old haunts like Oxford, Madison, and Sept-Tours. What inspired you to place your characters in these locations? Have you visited them yourself? 

 A. As a writer, I really need to experience the places I write about in my books. I want to know what it smells like, how the air feels when it changes direction, the way the sunlight strikes the windowsill in the morning, the sound of birds and insects. Not every writer may require this, but I do. So I spent time not only in New Haven but undertaking research at the Beinecke Library so that I could understand the rhythms of Diana’s day there. I visited New Orleans several times to imagine my vampires into them. All of the locations I pick are steeped in history and stories about past inhabitants—perfect fuel for any writer’s creative fire.

Q: Did you know back when you wrote A Discovery of Witches how the story would conclude in THE BOOK OF LIFE? Did the direction change once you began the writing process?

 A. I knew how the trilogy would end, but I didn’t know exactly how we would get there. The story was well thought out through the beginning of what became The Book of Life, but the chunk between that beginning and the ending (which is as I envisioned it) did change. In part that was because what I had sketched out was too ambitious and complicated—the perils of being not only a first-time trilogy writer but also a first time author. It was very important to me that I resolve and tie up all the threads already in the story so readers had a satisfying conclusion. Early in the writing of The Book of Life it became clear that this wasn’t going to give me much time to introduce new characters or plot twists. I now understand why so many trilogies have four, five, six—or more—books in them. Finishing the trilogy as a trilogy required a lot of determination and a very thick pair of blinders as I left behind characters and story lines that would take me too far from the central story of Diana, Matthew, and the Book of Life.

 Q: A Discovery of Witches begins with Diana Bishop stumbling across a lost, enchanted manuscript called Ashmole 782 in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, and the secrets contained in the manuscript are at long last revealed in THE BOOK OF LIFE. You had a similar experience while you were completing your dissertation.  What was the story behind your discovery?  And how did it inspire the creation of these novels?

A. I did discover a manuscript—not an enchanted one, alas—in the Bodleian Library. It was a manuscript owned by Queen Elizabeth’s astrologer, the mathematician and alchemist John Dee. In the 1570s and 1580s he became interested in using a crystal ball to talk to angels. The angels gave him all kinds of instructions on how to manage his life at home, his work—they even told him to pack up his family and belongings and go to far-away Poland and Prague. In the conversations, Dee asked the angels about a mysterious book in his library called “the Book of Soyga” or “Aldaraia.” No one had ever been able to find it, even though many of Dee’s other books survive in libraries throughout the world. In the summer of 1994 I was spending time in Oxford between finishing my doctorate and starting my first job. It was a wonderfully creative time, since I had no deadlines to worry about and my dissertation on Dee’s angel conversations was complete. As with most discoveries, this discovery of a “lost” manuscript was entirely accidental. I was looking for something else in the Bodleian’s catalogue and in the upper corner of the page was a reference to a book called “Aldaraia.” I knew it couldn’t be Dee’s book, but I called it up anyway. And it turned out it WAS the book (or at least a copy of it). With the help of the Bodleian’s Keeper of Rare Books, I located another copy in the British Library.

Q: Are there other lost books like this in the world?

A. Absolutely! Entire books have been written about famous lost volumes—including works by Plato, Aristotle, and Shakespeare to name just a few. Libraries are full of such treasures, some of them unrecognized and others simply misfiled or mislabeled. And we find lost books outside of libraries, too. In January 2006, a completely unknown manuscript belonging to one of the 17th century’s most prominent scientists, Robert Hooke, was discovered when someone was having the contents of their house valued for auction. The manuscript included minutes of early Royal Society meetings that we presumed were lost forever.

Q: Shadow of Night and A Discovery of Witches have often been compared to young adult fantasy like Twilight, with the caveat that this series is for adults interested in history, science, and academics. Unlike Bella and Edward, Matthew and Diana are card-carrying members of academia who meet in the library of one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Are these characters based on something you found missing in the fantasy genre?

A. There are a lot of adults reading young adult books, and for good reason. Authors who specialize in the young adult market are writing original, compelling stories that can make even the most cynical grownups believe in magic. In writing A Discovery of Witches, I wanted to give adult readers a world no less magical, no less surprising and delightful, but one that included grown-up concerns and activities. These are not your children’s vampires and witches.

 

 

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Book Blast: Successio

Follow Alison Morton’s Book Blast for SUCCESSIO, the third book in her Roma Nova Series, from June 16-27 for a chance to win your own autographed copy and bookmark!

SuccessioPublication Date: June 4, 2014
SilverWood Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Alternative Historical Thriller

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Roma Nova – the last remnant of the Roman Empire that has survived into the 21st century – is at peace. Carina Mitela, the heir of a leading family, but choosing the life of an officer in the Praetorian Guard Special Forces, is not so sure.

She senses danger crawling towards her when she encounters a strangely self-possessed member of the unit hosting their exchange exercise in Britain. When a blackmailing letter arrives from a woman claiming to be her husband Conrad’s lost daughter and Conrad tries to shut Carina out, she knows the threat is real.

Trying to resolve a young man’s indiscretion twenty-five years before turns into a nightmare that not only threatens to destroy all the Mitelae but also attacks the core of the imperial family itself. With her enemy holding a gun at the head of the heir to the imperial throne, Carina has to make the hardest decision of her life…

Praise for Successio

“If there is a world where fiction becomes more believable than reality, then Alison Morton’s ingenious thrillers must be the portal through which to travel. Following in Caesar’s footsteps, she came with INCEPTIO, saw with PERFIDITAS – and has well and truly conquered with SUCCESSIO!” – Helen Hollick, author and Managing Editor Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews

“Alison Morton has done it again. SUCCESSIO is the latest in her series of powerful tales of family betrayals and shifting allegiances in Roma Nova. Once again, I was gripped from start to finish.” – Sue Cook, writer and broadcaster

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Roma Nova Series

Book One: Inceptio

Book Two: Perfiditas

Book Three: Successio

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About the AuthorAlison Morton

Alison Morton writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with strong heroines. She holds a bachelor’s degree in French, German and Economics, a masters’ in history and lives in France with her husband.

A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, she has visited sites throughout Europe including the alma mater, Rome. But it was the mosaics at Ampurias (Spain) that started her wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by women…

INCEPTIO, the first in the Roma Nova series, was shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award and awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion® in September 2013. The next in series, PERFIDITAS, published October 2013, has also just been honoured with the B.R.A.G. Medallion®. Alison is currently working on the fourth book.

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Follow the Successio Book Blast

June 16: Flashlight Commentary & Princess of Eboli

June 17: Kincavel Korner, Mina’s Bookshelf, & Literary Chanteuse

June 18: Kinx’s Book Nook & Svetlana’s Reads and Views

June 19: So Many Books, So Little Time, The Lit Bitch, & West Metro Mommy

June 20: Historical Fiction Obsession

June 21: A Bookish Affair & Broken Teepee

June 22: Just One More Chapter

June 23: The Little Reader Library & The True Book Addict

June 24: A Bibliotaph’s Reviews & Historical Fiction Connection

June 25: Historical Tapestry & The Maiden’s Court

June 26: Book Nerd & Passages to the Past

June 27: CelticLady’s Reviews

Giveaway

To win an Autographed copy of SUCCESSIO & Bookmark please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on June 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on June 28th and notified via email.

Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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Review: That Old Ace in the Hole

334187That Old Ace in the Hole

Written by Annie Proulx

Published in 2002 by Scribners

357 pages

Literary Fiction

Synopsis:

Folks in the Texas panhandle do not like hog farms. But Bob Dollar is determined to see his new job as hog site scout for Global Pork Rind through to the end. However, he is forced to face the idiosyncratic inhabitants of Woolybucket and to questions his own notions of loyalty and home.

That Old Ace in the Hole is a wonderful book about preserving a way of life and not fall victim to corporate takeover. It is a refreshing take on small town life and how its residents refuse to let go of their stories and home.

The book’s antagonist is the wretched corporate hog farm. Not many people in Woolybucket favor the hog farms coming into their community. That’s why when Bob Dollar arrives in town he is told by his superiors to make up a cover story and not admit he’s scouting for a hog farm. The secrecy of Bob’s mission really conveys the message that Global Pork Rind is up to no good and doesn’t care about the people and their community. Global Pork Rind doesn’t care if they destroy the land or town. It is the evil and vile corporation at its best.

For the rest of my review, head over to The Red Dirt Report.

KinxsBookNookScore5

Review: Dreaming For Freud

Dreaming For Freud
Written by Sheila Kohler
Published on May 28, 2014 by Penguin Books
256 pages
Historical Fiction

18667786Synopsis:

Sigmund Freud’s motives and methods in taking on the seventeen-year-old daughter of one of his former patients seem highly questionable: what does he know about women’s psychology in the first place, and about adolescents, in the second? The outcome seems a preordained disaster.

From the day I was asked to review this book I was intrigued. I loved the cover and the storyline sounded fascinating. I have read other pieces of historical fiction that focused on Freud and I found those to be engaging and enjoyable. However, I was disappointed with Dreaming For Freud and it did not meet my high expectations.

First, I didn’t think the characters of Freud and Dora (the seventeen-year-old patient) were completely developed. I found it difficult understand the bond between doctor and patient that was supposed to be there. At one point, Dora felt totally dependent on Freud. However, I don’t know how she got there. Throughout the book, she seemed resentful towards Freud; far from being dependent. I would have liked to know how she became so enamored of him. I only felt her anger and bitterness for Freud’s lack of understanding of her problems.

The same thing can be said for Freud’s character. He seemed very self-absorbed and not digging very deep to help his patient. He was obsessed with dreams; whether they helped his patient or not. I would like to have read more about his theories and how he truly helped his patients. He seemed very detached. So, when he became very attached to Dora I found it a little perplexing. It didn’t make sense.

The ending seemed a little haphazard. In order to have resolution of the characters, the narrative kept bouncing back and forth between past and present. Dora’s adult life didn’t really fit with how she was as a teenager. I think this is where more development was needed to better explain Dora’s life. I felt Dora’s adult life was too disconnected from her teenage life to be plausible.

The one thing I did like about this book is the cover. It is beautiful and really grabs your attention. It makes want to open the books and start reading. However, I wish the story matched the cover. I don’t regret reading this book but I do wish it had a little more depth to the characters.

Review: The Return of Zita the Spacegirl

  • The Return of Zita the Spacegirl
  • Written and Illustrated by Ben Hatke
  • Published on May 13, 2014 by First Second
  • 240 pages
  • Graphic Novel

18465632Synopsis:

Zita the Spacegirl has saved planets, battled monsters, and wrestled with interplanetary fame. But she faces her biggest challenge yet in the third and final installment of the Zita adventures. Wrongfully imprisoned on a penitentiary planet, Zita has to plot the galaxy’s greatest jailbreak before the evil prison warden can execute his plan of interstellar domination.

Zita the Spacegirl is an amazing series for all ages; young and old. I loved reading it just as much as my daughter. Zita is an awesome character and a great role model. She is strong, loyal and extremely brave. She is willing to sacrifice herself for the people she cares about. These books have so many important messages that our kids really need to adsorb.

Loyalty and acceptance run deep in The Return of Zita. Her friends come from all different alien races. She embraces them all and will do anything to protect them. She has no prejudice and she accepts them as they are. In return, her friends will race to save her. Devotion runs thick throughout this adventure and sends a wonderful message to our kids.

The illustrations in Zita just jump right off the page. I love the colors and images. They tell an amazing story. Each page is filled with action and emotion. Each page keeps you totally immersed in the story. I just devoured each page.

I sincerely hope that this is not the last adventure for Zita. I want to read more! I want my daughters to read more! Zita the Spacegirl should be devoured by all.

KinxsBookNookScore5

 

 

Book Excerpt: Book of Life

16054217From The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness. Reprinted by arrangement with Penguin Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Deborah Harkness, 2014

Chapter 1

Ghosts didn’t have much substance. All they were composed of was memories and heart. Atop one of Sept-Tours’ round towers, Emily Mather pressed a diaphanous hand against the spot in the center of her chest that even now was heavy with dread.

Does it ever get easier? Her voice, like the rest of her, was almost imperceptible. The watching? The waiting? The knowing?

Not that I’ve noticed,  Philippe de Clermont replied shortly. He was perched nearby, studying  his own transparent  fingers. Of all the things Philippe disliked about being dead—the inability to touch his wife, Ysabeau; his lack of smell or taste; the fact that he had no muscles for a good sparring match—invisibility topped the list. It was a constant reminder of how inconsequential he had become.

Emily’s face fell, and Philippe silently cursed himself. Since she’d died, the witch had been his constant companion, cutting his loneliness in two. What was he thinking, barking at her as if she were a servant?

Perhaps it will be easier when they don’t need us anymore, Philippe said in a gentler tone. He might be the more experienced ghost, but it was Emily who understood the metaphysics of their situation. What the witch had told him went against everything Philippe believed about the afterworld. He thought the living saw the dead  because they needed something from them: assistance, forgiveness, retribution. Emily insisted these were nothing more than human myths, and it was only when the living moved on and let go that the dead could appear to them.

This information made Ysabeau’s failure to notice him somewhat easier to bear, but not much.

“I can’t wait to see Em’s reaction. She’s going to be so surprised.” Diana’s warm alto floated up to the battlements.

Diana and Matthew, Emily and Philippe said in unison, peering down to the cobbled courtyard that surrounded the château.

There, Philippe said, pointing at the drive. Even dead, he had vampire sight that was sharper than any human’s. He was also still handsomer  than any man had a right to be, with his broad shoulders and devilish grin. He turned the latter on Emily, who couldn’t help grinning  back. They are a fine couple, are they not? Look how much my son has changed.

Vampires weren’t  supposed to be altered by the passing of time, and therefore Emily expected to see the same black hair, so dark it glinted blue; the same mutable gray-green eyes, cool and remote as a winter sea; the same pale skin and wide mouth. There were a few subtle differences, though, as Philippe suggested. Matthew’s hair was shorter, and he had a beard that made him look even more dangerous, like a pirate. She gasped.

Is Matthew . . . bigger?

He is. I fattened him up when he and Diana were here in 1590. Books were making him soft. Matthew needed to fight more and read less. Philippe had always contended there was such a thing as too much education. Matthew was living proof of it.

Diana looks different, too. More like her mother, with that long, coppery hair, Em said, acknowledging the most obvious change in her niece.

Diana stumbled on a cobblestone, and Matthew’s hand shot out to steady her. Once, Emily had seen Matthew’s incessant hovering as a sign of vampire overprotectiveness. Now, with the perspicacity of a ghost, she realized that this tendency stemmed from his preternatural  awareness of every change in Diana’s expression, every shift of mood, every sign of fatigue or hunger. Today, however, Matthew’s concern seemed even more focused and acute.

It’s not just Diana’s hair that has changed. Philippe’s face had a look of wonder. Diana is with child—Matthew’s child.

Emily examined her niece more carefully, using the enhanced grasp of truth that death afforded. Philippe was right—in part. You mean “with children.” Diana is having twins.

Twins, Philippe said in an awed voice. He looked away, distracted by the appearance of his wife. Look, here are Ysabeau and Sarah with Sophie and Margaret.

What will happen now, Philippe? Emily asked, her heart growing heavier with anticipation.

Endings. Beginnings, Philippe said with deliberate vagueness. Change.

 Diana has never liked change, Emily said.

That is because Diana is afraid of what she must become, Philippe replied.

 

Marcus Whitmore had faced horrors aplenty since the night in 1781 when Matthew de Clermont made him a vampire. None had prepared him for today’s ordeal: telling Diana Bishop that her beloved aunt, Emily Mather, was dead.

Marcus had received the phone call from Ysabeau while he and Nathaniel Wilson were watching  the television news in the family library. Sophie, Nathaniel’s wife, and their baby, Margaret, were dozing on a nearby sofa.

“The temple,” Ysabeau had said breathlessly, her tone frantic.  “Come. At once.”

Marcus had obeyed his grandmother without question, only taking time to shout for his cousin, Gallowglass, and his Aunt Verin on his way out the door.

The summer half-light of evening had lightened further as he approached the clearing at the top of the mountain,  brightened by the otherworldly power that Marcus glimpsed through the trees. His hair stood at attention at the magic in the air.

Then he scented the presence of a vampire, Gerbert of Aurillac. And someone else—a witch.

A light, purposeful step sounded down the stone corridor, drawing Marcus out of the past and back into the present. The heavy door opened, creaking as it always did.

“Hello, sweetheart.” Marcus  turned from the view of the Auvergne countryside and drew a deep breath. Phoebe Taylor’s scent reminded him of the thicket of lilac bushes that had grown outside the red-painted door of his family’s farm. Delicate and resolute, the fragrance had symbolized the hope of spring after a long Massachusetts winter and conjured up his long- dead mother’s understanding smile. Now it only made Marcus think of the petite, iron-willed woman before him.

“Everything will be all right.” Phoebe reached up and straightened his collar, her olive eyes full of concern. Marcus had taken to wearing more formal clothes than concert T-shirts around the same time he’d started to sign his letters Marcus de Clermont instead of Marcus Whitmore—the name she’d first known him by, before he had told her about vampires, fifteen-hundred-year-old fathers, French castles full of forbidding relatives, and a witch named Diana Bishop. It was, in Marcus’s opinion, nothing short of miraculous that Phoebe had remained at his side.

“No. It won’t.” He caught one of her hands and planted a kiss on the palm. Phoebe didn’t know Matthew. “Stay here with Nathaniel and the rest of them. Please.”

“For the final time, Marcus Whitmore, I will be standing beside you when you greet your father and his wife. I don’t believe we need discuss it further.” Phoebe held out her hand. “Shall we?”

Marcus put his hand in Phoebe’s, but instead of following her out the door as she expected, he tugged her toward him. Phoebe came to rest against his chest, one hand clasped in his and the other pressed to his heart. She looked at him with surprise.

“Very well. But if you come down with me, Phoebe, there are conditions. First, you are with me or with Ysabeau at all times.”

Phoebe opened her mouth to protest, but Marcus’s serious look silenced her.

“Second, if I tell you to leave the room, you will do so. No delay. No questions. Go straight to Fernando. He’ll be in the chapel or the kitchen.” Marcus searched her face and saw a wary acceptance. “Third, do not, under any circumstances, get within arm’s reach of my father. Agreed?”

Phoebe nodded. Like any good diplomat, she was prepared to follow Marcus’s rules—for now. But if Matthew’s father was the monster some in the house seemed to think he was, Phoebe would do what she must.

 

Fernando Gonçalves poured beaten eggs into the hot skillet, blanketing the browned potatoes already in the pan. His tortilla española was one of the few dishes Sarah Bishop would eat, and today of all days the widow needed sustenance.

Gallowglass sat at the kitchen table, picking drops of wax out of a crack in the ancient boards. With his collar-length blond hair and muscular build, he looked like a morose bear. Tattoos snaked around his forearms and biceps in bright swirls of color. Their subject matter revealed whatever was on Gallowglass’s mind at the moment, for a tattoo lasted only a few months on a vampire. Right now he seemed to be thinking about his roots, for his arms were covered with Celtic knotwork, runes, and fabulous beasts drawn from Norse and Gaelic myths and legends.

“Stop worrying.” Fernando’s voice was as warm and cultured as sherry aged in oak barrels.

Gallowglass looked up for a moment, then returned his attention to the wax.

“No one will prevent Matthew from doing what he must, Gallowglass. Avenging Emily’s death is a matter of honor.” Fernando turned off the heat and joined Gallowglass at the table, bare feet moving silently across the flagstone floors. As he walked, he rolled down the sleeves of his white shirt. It was pristine, in spite of the hours he’d spent in the kitchen that day. He tucked the shirt into the waistband of his jeans and ran his fingers through his dark, wavy hair.

“Marcus is going to try to take the blame, you know,” Gallowglass said. “But Emily’s death wasn’t the boy’s fault.”

The scene on the mountain  had been oddly peaceful, considering the circumstances. Gallowglass had arrived at the temple a few moments after Marcus. There had been nothing but silence and the sight of Emily Mather kneeling in- side a circle marked out with pale rocks. The witch Peter Knox had been with her, his hands on her head and a look of anticipation—even  hunger—on his face. Gerbert of Aurillac, the de Clermonts’ nearest vampire neighbor, was looking on with interest.

“Emily!” Sarah’s anguished cry had torn through the silence with such force that even Gerbert stepped back.

Startled, Knox released Emily.  She crumpled to the ground, unconscious. Sarah beat the other witch back with a single, powerful spell that sent Knox flying across the clearing.

“No, Marcus didn’t kill her,” Fernando said, drawing Gallowglass’s attention. “But his negligence—”

“Inexperience,” Gallowglass interjected.

“Negligence,” Fernando repeated, “did play a role in the tragedy. Marcus knows that and accepts responsibility for it.”

“Marcus didn’t ask to be in charge,” Gallowglass grumbled.

“No. I nominated him for the position, and Matthew agreed it was the right decision.” Fernando pressed  Gallowglass’s shoulder briefly and returned to the stove.

“Is that why you came? Because you felt guilty about refusing to lead the brotherhood when Matthew asked for your help?” No one had been more surprised than Gallowglass when Fernando turned up at Sept-Tours. Fernando had avoided the place ever since Gallowglass’s father, Hugh de Clermont, died in the fourteenth century.

“I am here because Matthew was there for me after the French king executed Hugh. I was alone in all the world then, except for my grief.” Fernando’s  tone was harsh. “And I refused to lead the Knights of Lazarus because I am not a de Clermont.”

“You were Father’s mate!” Gallowglass protested. “You are as much a de Clermont as Ysabeau or her children!”

Fernando carefully shut the oven door. “I am Hugh’s mate,” he said, his back still turned. “Your father will never be past tense to me.”

“Sorry, Fernando,”  Gallowglass said, stricken. Though Hugh had been dead for nearly seven centuries,  Fernando had never recovered from the loss. Gallowglass doubted he ever would.

“As for my being a de Clermont,” Fernando continued, still staring at the wall over the stove, “Philippe disagreed.”

Gallowglass resumed his nervous picking at the wax. Fernando poured two glasses of red wine and carried them to the table.

“Here,” he said, thrusting one at Gallowglass. “You’ll need your strength today, too.”

Marthe bustled into the kitchen. Ysabeau’s housekeeper ruled over this part of the château and was not pleased to see intruders  in it. After giving Fernando and Gallowglass sour looks, she sniffed and wrested the oven door open.

“That is my best pan!” she said accusingly.

“I know. That’s why I’m using it,” Fernando replied, taking a sip of wine. “You do not belong in the kitchen, Dom Fernando. Go upstairs. Take Gallowglass with you.” Marthe took a packet of tea and a teapot from the shelf by the sink. Then she noticed the towel-wrapped pot sitting on a tray

next to cups, saucers, milk, and sugar. Her frown deepened. “What is wrong with my being here?” Fernando demanded.

“You are not a servant,” Marthe said. She picked the lid off the top of the pot and sniffed suspiciously at its contents.

“It’s Diana’s favorite. You told me what she liked, remember?” Fernando smiled sadly. “And everyone in this house serves the de Clermonts, Marthe. The only difference is that you, Alain, and Victoire are paid handsomely to do so. The rest of us are expected to be grateful for the privilege.”

“With good reason. Other manjasang dream of being part of this family. See that you remember that in future—and the lemon, Dom Fernando,” Marthe said, placing emphasis on his lordly title. She picked up the tea tray. “By the way, your eggs are burning.”

Fernando leaped up to rescue them.

“As for you,” Marthe  said, fixing her black eyes on Gallowglass, “you did not tell us everything you should have about Matthew and his wife.”

Gallowglass looked down into his wine with a guilty expression.

Madame your grandmother will deal with you later.” On that bonechilling note, Marthe stalked out of the room.

“What have you done now?”  asked Fernando, putting his tortilla— which was not ruined, Alhamdulillah—on the stove. Long experience had taught him that whatever the mess, Gallowglass had made it with good intentions and complete disregard for possible disaster.

“Weeell,” Gallowglass said, drawing out the vowels as only a Scot could, “I might have left one or two things out of the tale.”

“Like what?” Fernando said, catching a whiff of catastrophe among the kitchen’s homely scents.

“Like the fact that Auntie is pregnant—and by none other than Matthew. And the fact that Granddad adopted her as a daughter. Lord, his blood vow was deafening.”  Gallowglass looked reflective. “Do you think we’ll still be able to hear it?”

Fernando stood, openmouthed and silent.

“Don’t look at me that way. It didn’t seem right to share the news about the babe. Women can be funny about such things. And Philippe told Auntie Verin about the blood vow before he died in 1945, and she never said a word either!” Gallowglass said defensively.

A concussion  tore the air, as if a silent bomb had been detonated. Something green and fiery streaked past the kitchen window.

“What the hell was that?” Fernando flung the door open and shielded his eyes against the bright sunlight.

“One pissed-off witch, I imagine.” Gallowglass’s tone was glum. “Sarah must have told Diana and Matthew the news about Emily.”

“Not the explosion. That!” Fernando pointed to Saint-Lucien’s bell tower, which was being circled by a winged, two-legged, fire-breathing creature. Gallowglass rose for a better look.

“That’s Corra. She goes where Auntie goes,” Gallowglass said matter-of- factly.

“But that’s a dragon.” Fernando  turned wild eyes on his stepson.

“Bah! That’s no dragon. Can’t you see she’s only got two legs? Corra is a firedrake.” Gallowglass twisted his arm to show off a tattoo of a winged creature that strongly resembled the airborne beast. “Like this. I might have left out one or two details, but I did warn everybody that Auntie Diana wasn’t going to be the same witch she was before.”

 

“It’s true, honey. Em is dead.” The stress of telling Diana and Matthew was clearly too much for her. Sarah could have sworn that she saw a dragon. Fernando was right. She needed to cut back on the whiskey.

“I don’t believe you.” Diana’s voice was high and sharp with panic. She searched Ysabeau’s grand salon as though she suspected to find Emily hiding behind one of the ornate settees.

“Emily’s  not here, Diana.” Matthew’s  hushed voice was infused  with regret and tenderness as he stepped before her. “She’s gone.”

“No.” Diana tried to push past him and continue her search, but Mat- thew drew her into his arms.

“I’m so sorry, Sarah,” Matthew said, holding Diana tight to his body. “Don’t say you’re sorry!” Diana cried, struggling to free herself from the vampire’s unbreakable hold. She pounded on Matthew’s shoulder with her fist. “Em isn’t dead! This is a nightmare. Wake me up, Matthew—please! I want to wake up and find we’re still in 1591.”

“This isn’t a nightmare,” Sarah said. The long weeks had convinced her that Em’s death was horribly real.

“Then I took a wrong turn—or tied a bad knot in the timewalking spell. This can’t be where we were supposed to end up!” Diana was shaking from head to toe with grief and shock. “Em promised she would never leave with- out saying good-bye.”

“Em didn’t have time to say good-bye—to anyone. But that doesn’t mean she didn’t love you.” Sarah reminded herself of this a hundred times a day.

“Diana should sit,” Marcus said, pulling a chair closer to Sarah. In many ways Matthew’s son looked like the same twenty-something surfer who had walked into the Bishop house last October. His leather cord, with its strange assortment of objects gathered over the centuries,  was still tangled in the blond hair at the nape of his neck. The Converse sneakers he loved remained on his feet. The guarded, sad look in his eyes was new, however.

Sarah was grateful for the presence of Marcus and Ysabeau, but the person she really wanted at her side at this moment was Fernando. He’d been her rock during this ordeal.

“Thank you, Marcus,” Matthew said, settling Diana in the seat. Phoebe tried to press a glass of water into Diana’s hand. When Diana just stared at it blankly, Matthew took it and placed it on a nearby table.

All eyes alighted  on Sarah.

Sarah was no good at this kind of thing. Diana was the historian in the family. She would know where to start and how to string the confusing events into a coherent story with a beginning, a middle, and an end, and perhaps even a plausible explanation of why Emily had died.

“There’s no easy way to tell you this,” Diana’s aunt began.

“You don’t have to tell us anything,” Matthew said, his eyes filled with compassion and sympathy. “The explanations can wait.”

“No. You both need to know.” Sarah reached for the glass of whiskey that usually sat at her side, but there was nothing there. She looked to Marcus in mute appeal.

“Emily died up at the old temple,” Marcus said, taking up the role of storyteller.

“The temple dedicated to the goddess?”  Diana whispered,  her brow creasing with the effort to concentrate.

“Yes,” Sarah croaked, coughing to dislodge the lump in her throat. “Emily was spending more and more time up there.”

“Was she alone?” Matthew’s expression was no longer warm and understanding, and his tone was frosty.

Silence descended again, this one heavy and awkward.

“Emily wouldn’t let anyone go with her,” Sarah said, steeling herself to be honest. Diana was a witch, too, and would know if she strayed from the truth. “Marcus tried to convince her to take someone with her, but Emily refused.”

“Why did she want to be alone?” Diana said, picking up on Sarah’s own uneasiness. “What was going on, Sarah?”

“Since January, Em had been turning to the higher magics for guidance.” Sarah looked away from Diana’s shocked face. “She was having terrible premonitions of death and disaster and thought they might help her figure out why.”

“But Em always said higher magics were too dark for witches to handle safely,” Diana said, her voice rising again. “She said any witch who thought she was immune to their dangers would find out the hard way just how powerful they were.”

“She spoke from experience,” Sarah said. “They can be addictive. Emily didn’t want you to know she’d felt their lure, honey. She hadn’t touched a scrying stone or tried to summon a spirit for decades.”

“Summon spirits?” Matthew’s eyes narrowed into slits. With his dark beard, he looked truly terrifying.

“I think she was trying to reach Rebecca. If I’d realized how far she’d gone in her attempts, I would have tried harder to stop her.” Sarah’s eyes brimmed with tears. “Peter Knox must have sensed the power Emily was working with, and the higher magics have always fascinated him. Once he found her—”

“Knox?” Matthew spoke softly, but the hairs on the back of Sarah’s neck rose in warning.

“When we found Em, Knox and Gerbert were there, too,” Marcus ex- plained, looking miserable at the admission. “She’d suffered a heart attack. Emily must have been under enormous stress trying to resist whatever Knox was doing. She was barely conscious. I tried to revive her. So did Sarah. But there was nothing either of us could do.”

“Why were Gerbert and Knox here? And what in the world did Knox hope to gain from killing Em?” Diana cried.

“I don’t think Knox was trying to kill her, honey,” Sarah replied. “Knox was reading Emily’s thoughts, or trying his best to. Her last words were, ‘I know the secret of Ashmole 782, and you will never possess it.’”

“Ashmole 782?” Diana looked stunned. “Are you sure?”

“Positive.” Sarah wished her niece had never found that damned manuscript in the Bodleian Library. It was the cause of most of their present problems.

“Knox insisted that the de Clermonts had missing pages from Diana’s manuscript and knew its secrets,” Ysabeau chimed in. “Verin and I told Knox he was mistaken,  but the only thing that distracted him from the subject was the baby. Margaret.”

“Nathaniel and Sophie followed us to the temple. Margaret was with them,” Marcus explained in answer to Matthew’s astonished stare. “Before Emily fell unconscious, Knox saw Margaret  and demanded to know how two daemons had given birth to a baby witch. Knox invoked the covenant. He threatened to take Margaret to the Congregation pending investigation into what he called ‘serious breaches’ of law. While we were trying to revive Emily and get the baby to safety, Gerbert and Knox slipped away.”

Until recently Sarah had always seen the Congregation and the covenant as necessary evils. It was not easy for the three otherworldly species—daemons, vampires, and witches—to live among humans.  All had been targets of human fear and violence at some point in history, and creatures had long ago agreed to a covenant to minimize the risk of their world’s coming to human attention. It limited fraternization between species as well as any participation in human religion or politics. The nine-member Congregation enforced the covenant and made sure that creatures abided by its terms. Now that Diana and Matthew were home, the Congregation could go to hell and take their covenant with them as far as Sarah was concerned.

Diana’s head swung around, and a look of disbelief passed over her face. “Gallowglass?” she breathed as the salon filled with the scent of the sea. “Welcome home, Auntie.” Gallowglass stepped  forward, his  golden beard gleaming where the sunlight struck it. Diana stared at him in astonishment before a sob broke free.

“There, there.” Gallowglass lifted her into a bear hug. “It’s been some time since the sight of me brought a woman to tears. Besides, it really should be me weeping at our reunion. As far as you’re concerned, it’s been only a few days since we spoke. By my reckoning it’s been centuries.”

Something numinous flickered around the edges of Diana’s body, like a candle slowly catching light. Sarah blinked. She really was going to have to lay off the booze.

Matthew and his  nephew exchanged glances.  Matthew’s  expression grew even more concerned as Diana’s  tears increased and the glow surrounding her intensified.

“Let Matthew take you upstairs.” Gallowglass reached into a pocket and pulled out a crumpled yellow bandanna.  He offered this to Diana, carefully shielding her from view.

“Is she all right?” Sarah asked.

“Just a wee bit tired,” Gallowglass said as he and Matthew hustled Diana off toward Matthew’s remote tower rooms.

Once Diana and Matthew were gone, Sarah’s fragile composure cracked, and she began to weep. Reliving the events of Em’s death was a daily occur- rence, but having to do so with Diana was even more painful. Fernando appeared, his expression concerned.

“It’s all right, Sarah. Let it out,” Fernando murmured, drawing her close. “Where were you when I needed you?” Sarah demanded  as her weeping turned to sobs.

“I’m  here now,” Fernando said, rocking her gently. “And Diana and Matthew  are safely home.”

 

 

“I can’t stop shaking.” Diana’s teeth were chattering, and her limbs were jerking as if pulled by invisible strings. Gallowglass pressed his lips together, standing back while Matthew wrapped a blanket tight around his wife.

“That’s the shock, mon coeur,” Matthew murmured, pressing a kiss to her cheek. It wasn’t just the death of Emily but the memories of the earlier, traumatic loss of her parents that were causing her distress. He rubbed her arms, the blanket moving against her flesh. “Can you get some wine, Gallowglass?”

“I shouldn’t. The babies . . .” Diana began. Her expression turned wild and her tears returned. “They’ll never know Em. Our children will grow up not knowing Em.”

“Here.” Gallowglass thrust  a silver flask in Matthew’s  direction. His uncle looked at him gratefully.

“Even better,” Matthew said, pulling the stopper free. “Just a sip, Diana. It won’t hurt the twins, and it will help calm you. I’ll have Marthe bring up some black tea with plenty of sugar.”

“I’m going to kill Peter Knox,” Diana said fiercely after she’d taken a sip of whiskey. The light around her grew brighter.

“Not today you’re not,” Matthew said firmly, handing the flask back to Gallowglass.

“Has Auntie’s glaem been this bright since you returned?” Gallowglass hadn’t seen Diana Bishop since 1591, but he didn’t recall it being this notice- able.

“Yes. She’s been wearing a disguising spell. The shock must have knocked it out of place,” Matthew said, lowering her onto the sofa. “Diana wanted Emily and Sarah to enjoy the fact that they were going to be grandmothers before they started asking questions about her increased power.”

Gallowglass bit back an oath.

“Better?” Matthew asked, drawing Diana’s fingers to his lips.

Diana nodded. Her teeth were still chattering, Gallowglass noted. It made him ache to think about the effort it must be taking for her to control herself.

“I am so sorry about Emily,” Matthew said, cupping her face between his hands.

“Is it our fault? Did we stay in the past too long, like Dad said?” Diana spoke so softly it was hard for even Gallowglass to hear.

“Of course not,” Gallowglass replied, his voice brusque. “Peter Knox did this. Nobody else is to blame.”

“Let’s not worry about who’s to blame,” Matthew said, but his eyes were angry.

Gallowglass gave him a nod of understanding. Matthew would have plenty to say about Knox and Gerbert—later. Right now he was concerned with his wife.

“Emily would want you to focus on taking care of yourself and Sarah. That’s enough for now.” Matthew brushed back the coppery strands that were stuck to Diana’s cheeks by the salt from her tears.

“I should go back downstairs,” Diana said, drawing Gallowglass’s bright yellow bandanna to her eyes. “Sarah needs me.”

“Let’s stay up here a bit longer. Wait for Marthe to bring the tea,” Mat- thew said, sitting down next to her. Diana slumped against him, her breath hiccupping in and out as she tried to hold back the tears.

“I’ll leave you two,” Gallowglass said gruffly. Matthew nodded in silent thanks.

“Thank you, Gallowglass,” Diana said, holding out the bandanna. “Keep it,” he said, turning for the stairs.

“We’re alone. You don’t have to be strong now,” Matthew murmured to Diana as Gallowglass descended the twisting staircase.

Gallowglass left Matthew and Diana twined together in an unbreakable knot, their faces twisted  with pain and sorrow, each giving the other the comfort they could not find for themselves.

 

I should never have summoned you here. I should have found another way to get my answers. Emily turned to face her closest friend. You should be with Stephen.

I’d rather be here with my daughter than anywhere else, Rebecca Bishop said. Stephen understands. She turned back to the sight of Diana and Matthew, still locked in their sorrowful embrace.

Do not fear. Matthew will take care of her, Philippe said. He was still trying to figure out Rebecca Bishop—she was an unusually challenging creature, and as skilled at keeping secrets as any vampire.

They’ll take care of each other, Rebecca  said, her hand over her heart, just as I knew they would.

Review: Floats the Dark Shadow

Floats the Dark Shadow
Written by Yves Fey
Published on August 15, 2012 by BearCat Press
340 pages
Historical Fiction/Psychological Thriller

13646255Synopsis:

Young American painter Theodora Faraday struggles to become an artist in Belle Époque Paris. She’s tasted the champagne of success, illustrating poems for the Revenants, a group of poets let by her adored cousin, Averill. When children she knows vanish mysteriously, Theo confronts Inspector Michel Devaux who suspects the Revenants are involved. Theo refuses to believe the killer could be a friend – could be the man she loves. Classic detection and occult revelation lead Michel and Theo through the dark underbelly of Paris, from catacombs to asylums, to the obscene ritual of a Black Mass. Following the maze of clues they discover the murderer believes he is the incarnation of the most evil serial killer in the history of France – Gilles de Rais. Once Joan of Arc’s lieutenant, after her death he plunged into an orgy of evil. The Church burned him at the stake for heresy, sorcery, and the depraved murder of hundreds of peasant children. Whether deranged mind or demonic passion incite him, the killer must be found before he strikes again.

Floats the Dark Shadow is an incredibly dark and provocative psychological thriller that is set in late nineteenth century Paris. This book is definitely not for the faint of heart. It is dark, twisted and very graphic. However, this book is well-written and very much a page-turner. The mystery of the killer’s identity will keep the reader engaged to the very end.

Paris is the perfect setting for this book. It is the perfect blending of darkness and light that makes Paris such a wonderful background. Further, the Belle Époque literary scene contributed heavily to the dark themes of the story. The Revenants, a group of poets who seem to want to wallow in gloom, play a very important part. They gather to share their demons and perpetuate their mission; spreading the darkness of their minds to the world. At the heart of the story, is whether the darkness has completely swallowed one of them. Ms. Fey did a wonderful job laying out the path of who the killer is. That path will keep you guessing at every wicked turn.

The occult runs throughout through the entire book. However, it is not just evil. There are several moments where “white magic” tries to prevail over “dark magic.” It is a constant battle between the two forces with no apparent winner. At the heart of the “white magic” is Theodora Faraday. She is portrayed as the light who attempts to destroy the darkness. She’s caught in the middle throughout this battle. The question is whether she will survive, physically and mentally. Her involvement with the Revenants leads her down a path that will change her life forever.

Gilles de Rais is not a fictional character. He, in fact, was a child serial killer during the fifteenth century. I found that fact to be truly disturbing. Ms. Fey brought him back to life to live in a new century and to find new innocent victims. He was truly a diabolical character. Evil permeated his every action. However, what was interesting is that he truly believed he would be saved by his actions; he would be forgiven and redeemed. It is a thought-provoking paradox that the author presented.

Floats the Dark Shadow is an unusual story that was very hard to put down. Its dark themes may disturb many but it is well-written and the plot was laid out in way that will keep you thinking. There isn’t a happy ending but it will leave you knowing that the light will prevail over the darkness.

Book Blast: Love at Pemberley

Please join Reina M. Williams on her Love at Pemberley Series Book Blast from May 12-June 13.

About Most Truly

01_Most TrulyPublication Date: December 15, 2013
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
eBook; 88 pages

Heat level: Sweet

Colonel James Fitzwilliam is home. The war has left him weary, battle-scarred—and a free man of fortune ready to find a wife. He travels to Pemberley, his second home. There he meets Kitty Bennet. Her unexpected charms soon have him questioning his familial duty and his expectations. A fight looms on the horizon when his aunt—Lady Catherine de Bourgh—and his parents arrive with their own plans for his future.

Kitty Bennet has found happiness. At Pemberley, she has improved herself and formed true friendships with her sister Lizzy and Georgiana Darcy. Kitty is captivated by the gentlemanly Colonel Fitzwilliam. But she will not be silly over a redcoat again, and she will not risk her happiness—or his family’s displeasure—for his attentions. Colonel Fitzwilliam, Darcy, Lizzy, and Georgiana have their say, and Kitty learns a new lesson—love will find you at Pemberley.

About Miss Darcy Decides

Miss Darcy DecidesPublication Date: January 21, 2014
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
eBook; 77 pages

Heat level: Sweet

Miss Darcy Decides is a light, sweet Pride and Prejudice novella, book two in the Love at Pemberley series.

While visiting a young woman—who was not so fortunate as Miss Georgiana Darcy in escaping the persuasions of a rogue—Georgiana meets Sir Camden Sutton, whose reputation causes Georgiana to wonder as to his motives. Her wondering soon turns to a different feeling when Sir Camden comes to stay at Pemberley, showing himself to be a very different man than was rumored.

While Sir Camden struggles with his past and his commitment to his future, as well as the ill intentions of haughty Caroline Bingley, Miss Darcy must decide whether to listen to others, or the words written on her heart.

About Miss Bennet Blooms

03_Miss Bennet BloomsPublication Date: 4/25/14
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
eBook; 70 pages

Heat level: Sweet

Miss Mary Bennet is the last unmarried Bennet sister. She believes she will live out her days as a maiden aunt, seeking quiet in the libraries and parlors of her father’s and brother-in-laws’ homes. On a visit to Pemberley, the estate of Fitzwilliam Darcy, her sister Lizzy’s husband, Mary begins to feel more is possible than her planned life of solitude. Among new friends and with new confidence, Mary opens to new feelings when she meets Mr. Nathaniel Bingley.

Nathaniel Bingley, at the insistence of his cousin Charles Bingley, finds himself at Pemberley. After Nathaniel’s years in the West Indies studying its intense flora, he is ready to seclude himself to compile his work into a book. But Nathaniel could not say no to Charles, who was one of Nathaniel’s few kind relatives after the deaths of his beloved parents. Soon, Nathaniel also finds it difficult to say no to his own feelings about the lovely Miss Mary Bennet.

Can Mary and Nathaniel look beyond their plans and accept the grace of love at Pemberley?

Buy the Novellas

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About the AuthorReina M. Williams

Reina M. Williams loves period dramas, sweet reads, fairy tales, cooking and baking. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her two boys, who hope to someday take a research trip to England with their mom.

For more information please visit Reina M. Williams’s website. You can also connect with her on Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Book Blast Schedule

May 12: Kincavel Korner
May 13: Hardcover Feedback
May 15: Peeking Between the Pages
May 16: A Bookish Girl & The Lit Bitch
May 20: CelticLady’s Reviews
May 21: Historical Tapestry & To Read, Or Not to Read
May 22: Book Nerd, & Historical Fiction Obsession
May 24: Passages to the Past
May 26: Mari Reads
May 27: Long Ago Love
May 28: Kinx’s Book Nook
May 30: Flashlight Commentary
June 1: Literary Chanteuse
June 2: History From a Woman’s Perspective
June 4: She is Too Fond of Books
June 5: So Many Books, So Little Time
June 7: A Bookish Affair & Griperang’s Bookmarks
June 8: The True Book Addict
June 9: West Metro Mommy
June 11: Book Lovers Paradise, Historical Fiction Connection, and The Tower of Babel
June 13: Carole’s Ramblings & The Mad Reviewer

Giveaway

To win one of the following prizes please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open internationally.

  • 2 eBook Sets of Love at Pemberley Trilogy
  • 2 Audio Books of Most Truly

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on June 13th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on June 14th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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Review: Love & Treasure

04_Love and Treasure_Tour Banner_FINAL

Publication Date: April 1, 2014

Knopf Publishing Formats: Ebook, Hardcover, Audio

  17842038Synopsis:

A spellbinding new novel of contraband masterpieces, tragic love, and the unexpected legacies of forgotten crimes, Ayelet Waldman’s Love and Treasure weaves a tale around the fascinating, true history of the Hungarian Gold Train in the Second World War.

In 1945 on the outskirts of Salzburg, victorious American soldiers capture a train filled with unspeakable riches: piles of fine gold watches; mountains of fur coats; crates filled with wedding rings, silver picture frames, family heirlooms, and Shabbat candlesticks passed down through generations. Jack Wiseman, a tough, smart New York Jew, is the lieutenant charged with guarding this treasure—a responsibility that grows more complicated when he meets Ilona, a fierce, beautiful Hungarian who has lost everything in the ravages of the Holocaust. Seventy years later, amid the shadowy world of art dealers who profit off the sins of previous generations, Jack gives a necklace to his granddaughter, Natalie Stein, and charges her with searching for an unknown woman—a woman whose portrait and fate come to haunt Natalie, a woman whose secret may help Natalie to understand the guilt her grandfather will take to his grave and to find a way out of the mess she has made of her own life.

A story of brilliantly drawn characters—a suave and shady art historian, a delusive and infatuated Freudian, a family of singing circus dwarfs fallen into the clutches of Josef Mengele, and desperate lovers facing choices that will tear them apart—Love and Treasure is Ayelet Waldman’s finest novel to date: a sad, funny, richly detailed work that poses hard questions about the value of precious things in a time when life itself has no value, and about the slenderest of chains that can bind us to the griefs and passions of the past.

Love & Treasure is a beautifully written story that will not leave your mind easily. Ms. Waldman weaves her story through several time periods; pre and post WWII and the present. She is able to interweave all the time periods into one amazing story.

I thought Ms. Waldman really captured the aftermath of WWII with honesty and intensity. Americans were not the knight in shining armor coming to rescue the Jews from imprisonment. Instead she writes of corruption, prejudice and depression. I found it so heartbreaking on how the survivors were trying live their lives after so much tragedy. The Jews didn’t have many friends or supporters. They had to create their own support system. The initials stages of the creation of Israel was incredibly interesting; but also depressing. It was so sad how other Jews thought of and treated the prison camp survivors. It seemed the survivors were expendable in order for the rest to regain their homeland. You wished for unity but its just not there.

The present day is all about forgiveness, redemption and rebirth. There is pain as there was in the past; but to different degrees. WWII veteran Jack Wiseman has put all of his guilt into one piece of jewelry. The pendent represents what he lost during the war and the corruption he witnessed. For him, returning the pendent to its rightful owner will relieve him of his burdens. His story with Ilona was incredibly sad. I wish Ms. Waldman included a bit how Ilona lived her life. Did she survive? Did she live a full life?

I wasn’t that attached to Natalie as I was to Ilona. However, I liked her tenacity to solve a mystery and fulfill her grandfather’s wish. It was nice that she was able to find love as well.

I really enjoyed how Ms. Waldmen ended her story. At first, I thought it was a bit disjointed but by the end it fit perfectly with the overall storyline. Nina and Gizelle made for a very tragic story in of itself. I would love to know more.

Love & Treasure is a wonderful book and should be read by anyone who loves WWII history.

KinxsBookNookScore4

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About the Author02_Ayelet Waldman Photo Credit Reenie Raschke

Ayelet Waldman is the author of the newly released Love and Treasure (Knopf, January 2014), Red Hook Road and The New York Times bestseller Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace. Her novel Love and Other Impossible Pursuits was made into a film starring Natalie Portman. Her personal essays and profiles of such public figures as Hillary Clinton have been published in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Vogue, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. Her radio commentaries have appeared on “All Things Considered” and “The California Report.”

For more information please visit Ayelet’s website. Her missives also appear on Facebook and Twitter.

Her books are published throughout the world, in countries as disparate as England and Thailand, the Netherlands and China, Russia and Israel, Korea and Italy.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Tuesday, May 27
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews

Wednesday, May 28
Guest Post at Passion for Novels

Thursday, May 29
Review at Mari Reads

Friday, May 30
Review at She Reads Novels
Review at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Monday, June 2
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, June 3
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, June 4
Review at Seaside Book Corner

Thursday, June 5
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Friday, June 6
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Monday, June 9
Review at Closed the Cover

Tuesday, June 10
Interview at Closed the Cover

Wednesday, June 11
Review at A Bookish Girl
Review at Peeking Between the Pages

Friday, June 13
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Monday, June 16
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection

Wednesday, June 18
Review at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, June 19
Review at Book Nerd

Friday, June 20
Review at Curling Up with a Good Book

Monday, June 23
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Tuesday, June 24
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading

Wednesday, June 25
Review at Lit Nerd

Thursday, June 26
Review at The Little Reader Library

Friday, June 27
Review at Man of la Book

Monday, June 30
Review at A Bookish Affair
Review at Just One More Chapter
Interview at Layered Pages

Tuesday, July 1
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Wednesday, July 2
Review at From L.A. to LA
Review at Mina’s Bookshelf

Thursday, July 3
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

 

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