Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The Coffee Pot Book Club: #BookReview — Forgiving Nero by Mary Ann Bernal

The Coffee Pot Book Club: #BookReview — Forgiving Nero by Mary Ann Bernal #H...:   Publication Date: 14th February 2021 Publisher: Independently Published Page Length: 306 Pages Genre: Historical Fiction Rome. 

Rome. The jewel of the civilized world is no longer what it was. Strength has failed the Senate. Her legions are in disarray, and the Empire has fallen into Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus Nero’s hands. His reign begins under a cloud of scrutiny, for he is the depraved Emperor Caligula’s nephew. Nero is determined to overcome that stigma and carve a name of his own. One worthy of Rome’s illustrious history. Politics and treachery threaten to end Nero’s reign before it begins, forcing him to turn to unexpected sources for friendship and help. Many of the Praetorian Guard have watched over Nero since he was a small child, and it is in Traian that the young Emperor places his trust, despite the inherent threat of reducing his mother’s influence. Traian is the father he never had and the one man who does not judge him. When Traian secretly marries the hostage Vena, it sets in motion a collision of values as Traian comes to odds with his former charge. The whirlwind that follows will shake the very foundations of the greatest Empire the world has ever known, and survival is far from guaranteed.

I am Nero. And I am your Emperor.

Ruthless, ambitious, and determined to secure her position, Agrippina saw an opportunity and took it. Her son, Lucius, would become Emperor, and she cared not who she had to step over or kill to achieve that aim. Once her son had been named Emperor, Agrippina was determined to use his youth to her advantage, and rule through him. But she failed to see the danger of what she had created.

Traian Aelius Protacius had been assigned to protect Lucius when he had been a young, frightened boy in exile in Calabria. Lucius had been a compassionate child, a little boy desperate for love. But now, as a man, he was unrecognisable. His reign had started with such promise, but there was nothing of the boy in the Emperor who stood before him now. Traian would remain loyal to Nero—as he now liked to be called. He would be the one constant. He could not abandon him, no matter what he did, and yet nor could he save him. Instead, all he could do was watch while Nero rapidly turned away from his trusted advisors and instead listened to those who fed his ego, who bowed to his every whim, and who treated him like a god.

Deep down Nero knew that his hold on the throne would always be precarious. For in truth, the throne, like the laurel upon his head, was never meant to be his...

From a fearful young boy’s first night in the Imperial Palace to his descent into madness, Forgiving Nero by Mary Ann Bernal is the unforgettable story of one of the Roman Empire’s most notorious Emperors.

Nero is one of the infamous emperors whose history has been dictated by those who wanted to see his downfall. History, after all, is not written by the loser. Bernal does not pretend that Nero was a beloved emperor, but nor does she make him quite as monstrous as we have all been led to believe. He is a competent administrator; he takes advice from learned men such as Seneca, and although he is also greatly influenced by his mother in this story, Nero is compassionate when compassion allows. History has often accused Nero of causing the Great Fire of Rome so that he could build his ‘golden house, but Bernal argues quite rightly that this was not the case at all, and in fact, he helped those who had lost their homes—it just so happened that the fire meant he could build his palace, which in turn meant he needed money and was not afraid to demand it! Bernal has also given us a Nero who is not opposed to murder, nor is he opposed to persecution. Someone had to take the blame for the Great Fire, and the Christians just so happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I thought Bernal’s depiction of Nero’s mental health, especially his guilt at some of the things he had done, demonstrated her understanding of human fragility and how easy it is to travel down a path of self-destruction. His childlike behaviour in Greece, his instance on winning the laurels at the Olympic Games, caused his sanity and, therefore, his rule to be questioned. He acted like a spoilt child, and he was, consequently, seen as such. But underneath it all, Bernal hints there is still a frightened little boy who just wants to be held by his mother and told that everything would be alright. Bernal has taken the historical sources and picked through the myths and the lies, and has given her readers a more rounded view of Nero and his time as emperor.

The antagonist in this novel is surprisingly not Nero but his mother. Agrippina was a survivor. She had been abused but had somehow managed to turn the tables and come out on top. She used her beauty, intelligence and her ruthless ambition to achieve her aim. I thought Agrippina’s depiction was fabulously portrayed. She is this powerful woman, who not only influenced her son but allowed him to be convinced that he was divine. Unfortunately, Agrippina made the terrible mistake of thinking she could control this monstrous man she had shaped and created. Agrippina was a character that initially I felt sorry for because of the abuse she had endured, and perhaps, to some extent, that abuse explained some of her behaviour - she wants to be in a position of power so that such a thing can never happen again. However, her lack of empathy, the lies, the manipulation of information, and how she makes her son dependent on her made for some disturbing reading. The abused becomes the abuser, and Bernal asks her readers if Nero ever stood a chance to become the man he wanted to become. And in fact, there are several moments in this novel where Nero realises that the boy he was, Lucius, has been devoured by this monstrous Nero that his mother had fashioned in her image.

Honour and loyalty is a theme that runs throughout this novel. Nero’s benevolent nature and youthful desire to change the world came through on the odd occasion, such as when he helps those in need after the Great Fire. On such occasions, he behaves honourably. But there are moments when his extravagance and debauchery and his belief that he rules by Divine right means he loses track of what is honourable and what is not. He becomes confused, baffled even, as to what he is meant to be doing. He believes that he rules supreme and everyone should bow down to him. He demands loyalty, which history teaches us and Bernal shows us, never ends well.

Unlike Nero, who struggles throughout this book with what is right and what is wrong, Traian does his very best to be an honourable person, and although at times he is disloyal, not to Nero, never to him, but to another that he loves, he takes that act of disloyalty and does his best to learn from it, which I think demonstrated how vastly different Traian was to Nero. Acte, much like Traian, remains loyal to the memory of Lucius the boy and that memory she would never betray. Nero is surrounded by good people in this novel, but he is influenced by the wicked because those who wish him well, who want to help guide him to follow the right path, fear that if they upset him or his mother, they could forfeit their lives.

Religion and religious persecution are also explored in this story. Initially, the Christians are tolerated, to an extent. Through characters such as Vena, Bernal examines the dangers of practising a faith that differed so very much from Roman theology. Paul of Tarsus makes several cameo appearances in this novel, and his beliefs put him at odds with the Empire. The slaughter of the Christians after the Great Fire was incredibly harrowing, but masterfully drawn.

This story demanded all of my attention from beginning to end. The narrative was utterly enthralling, and Bernal told Nero’s story with a keen understanding of what makes history worth reading. Bernal has brought Nero back to life, and she has explored that life with a profound sweep and brilliance.

Bernal writes with such elegance and authority, not to mention with a keen attention to the historical detail, that a reader can comfortably immerse themselves in this story. Forgiving Nero by Mary Ann Bernal is a must-read for anyone who enjoys quality Historical Fiction.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club

Mary Ann Bernal attended Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, NY, where she received a degree in Business Administration.  Her literary aspirations were ultimately realized when the first book of The Briton and the Dane novels was published in 2009.  In addition to writing historical fiction, Mary Ann has also authored a collection of contemporary short stories in the Scribbler Tales series and a science fiction novel entitled Planetary Wars: Rise of an Empire. Originally hailing from New York, Mary Ann now resides in Elkhorn, Nebraska.

Connect with Mary Ann: 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

An interview with M. Lynes, author of Blood Libel

 Seville, 1495

The mutilated body of a child is discovered behind a disused synagogue. The brutal Spanish Inquisition accuses the Jewish community of ritual child murder - the ‘blood libel’. The Inquisition will not rest until all heretics are punished.

Isaac Alvarez, a lawyer working for the royal estate, is a reluctant convert to Catholicism who continues to secretly practice Judaism. When his childhood friend is accused of the murder Isaac is torn between saving him and protecting his family. Isaac is convinced that solving the murder will disprove the blood libel, save his family, and protect his faith.

As the Inquisition closes in, how far will Isaac go to protect both his family and his faith?

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Michael Lynes
Author Interview

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I started out as an English teacher. I had a long career in global education during which I wrote and edited professionally. I’m originally from London, England but now live with my family in Dubai.

When did you start writing?

I’ve always written. When I was at primary school my ambition was to be a journalist but when that didn’t work out, I went into teaching English as both a first and second language. But I always enjoyed teaching Literature the most. I’m not a writer who feels the need to write every day, neither do I keep a journal, but I’m usually thinking about writing something.

What projects have been published?

My debut novel Blood Libel was published in January this year. It won a prize at the Emirates Literature Festival in 2020 and I launched it at the February 2021 event. It’s the first of the Isaac Alvarez mysteries. I’ve also published The Lost Book of Hours, a short story that shows Isaac undertaking his very first investigation – at home. It’s available for free when you sign up to my newsletter at

Tell us about Blood Libel

Blood Libel is set in Seville in 1495 at the height of the Spanish Inquisition. A child is brutally murdered and the Jewish community is accused by the Inquisition of ritual killings – the ‘blood libel’. Isaac Alvarez, a lawyer with the royal estate, is commissioned by King Ferdinand to find the identity of the real killer. Isaac is a reluctant convert from Judaism to Catholicism – a ‘converso’. He is determined to find the killer to defend his faith and protect his family before the Inquisition discovers his secret.

The novel is a mystery but at the heart of it is a family drama. We see at close quarters how the Inquisition sets families and neighbours against each other. We discover how the terror affects individuals and tears families apart. I was a little concerned that the violence would be off-putting to some readers, but early reviews have put my mind to rest. One reviewer said, “I was afraid that the horrors of the Inquisition would overwhelm me but the story centered more on how ordinary people suffered through the uncertainty of the times.”

How did you select the title of your novel?

The title comes from the anti-Semitic slur of the blood libel. One of the first cases of this was Simon, who was two years old when he was found dead in a cellar in the Italian city of Trentino at Easter 1475. The Jewish community was immediately accused of murder and of using the blood of children for ritual purposes - a blood libel. Fifteen Jews confessed, under torture, to the murder and were executed. The Catholic Church subsequently venerated Simon as a martyr.

What was your inspiration?

I learnt about the story of Simon of Trentino whilst spending time with Moisés Hassan-Ansélem in Seville. He is knowledgeable and passionate about the little-known Jewish history of Seville. I was fortunate that Moises read the book and offered invaluable advice. I wanted to explore the parallels with our contemporary concerns about how we can accurately discern truth from fact. How do we know what is true in the age of ‘fake news’? Although the medium has changed, it's astonishing how little human behaviour has.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on Books 2 and 3 of the series. They will be linked and move on to explore how the Muslim community, the Mudejars, were treated during this time. Isaac will travel to Granada and Northern Africa as members of his family are placed in great jeopardy. I’m hoping to publish Book 2 later in 2021 and Book 3 in early 2022.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m binge reading Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series which, if you haven’t read it, I’d strongly advise giving a go. It’s a little quirky but if you read Donna Leon or Andrea Camilleri you will probably like it. For research, I’m reading Blood and Faith by Matthew Carr which is a very readable, comprehensive account of Muslim Spain from 1492-1614. I’m also just about to start Medieval Bodies by Jack Hartnell which has some fabulous, and occasionally gruesome, pictures.

What do you like to do in your free time when you're not reading or writing?

At the moment all my free time seems to be spent on aspects of publishing and marketing books! But I love playing football and building huge Lego sets with my twelve-year-old son Danyal, going for long walks and occasional runs.

Do you have any advice for other authors?

There’s so much advice out there but I think two simple things are important: read as widely as you can and find out what works for you in the writing process. The other thing I’ve found invaluable is taking the courage to share my work with other writers on a regular basis.

And finally, can you tell us some fun facts about yourself, such as crossed skydiving off my bucket list.

I’m not sure it counts as fun, but I completed the London Marathon five years ago.

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M Lynes

Michael is an author of historical mysteries who writes under the pen name of M Lynes. He has a particular interest in early 16th century Andalucia. He is fascinated by the interplay between cultures, globalization and religious intolerance of that period in Spain’s history. The ‘Isaac Alvarez Mysteries’ are set against this rich background. He won a prize for his fiction at the 2020 Emirates Literature Festival and is an alumna of the Faber Academy’s Writing a Novel course.

His debut novel ‘Blood Libel’, the first full-length Isaac Alvarez Mystery, was published in January 2021. Isaac, a lawyer working for the royal estate, must solve a brutal child murder to protect his family and his faith from the Spanish Inquisition.

Michael is hard at work on the second novel in the series and planning the third. He is originally from London but currently lives in Dubai with his family.

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Thursday, February 18, 2021

Spotlight on Mal Foster, author of Jude & Bliss


In the Victorian era, for many young women, going into domestic service was a significant source of employment where they found suitable work but with extended hours for a reasonable salary, receiving free accommodation as well as enjoying the perks and prestige of working for the aristocracy or other members of the upper or middle-classes.

As a matter of course, employers had a moral obligation, but one without a legal requirement to ensure their servants were kept clean, healthy, and well-nourished. However, for one poor girl, that, unfortunately, was not the case.

In 1896, Jude Rogers, a wide-eyed but vulnerable sixteen-year-old from Woking, Surrey, secures a position as a domestic servant at a large terraced house in Half Moon Street, near London's Piccadilly. Following a brief settling-in period, she quickly realises everything is not quite as it seems.

As time moves ruthlessly forward, what happens next is almost beyond comprehension. Jude finds herself in the most impossible of situations and finally succumbs to the pure evil dealt out by her employer.

This story is NOT for the faint-hearted!

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Mal Foster

Fun Facts

I used to belong to an amateur musical society in Camberley, Surrey, called CAMUS. In 1983 I was invited to play the part of Lt Joseph Cable in their stage version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘South Pacific’, singing solo for the first time ever. ‘South Pacific’ was one of my late mother’s favourite films, so I gave her two tickets for the show, but didn’t tell her I was appearing. The look on her face when she saw me walk on stage was something else, and to this day, I still don’t know whether it was one of shock, horror, of just plain pride in her son who had obviously duped her.

Gozo, Malta, I regard as my second home. My third novel, ‘An Invisible Nemesis, published in 2019, is predominately set on the islands. I made my first visit to Malta alone in October 1988. The second day I was there, I was walking down a street in the capital, Valletta when I heard a voice, I recognised behind me. It was Mr Wilkinson (or Rodney), a teacher I hadn’t seen since leaving school some fifteen years previously. He somehow recognised and remembered me and with his wife, we spent the rest of the week sharing stories, ‘what might have beens’ and drinks together. He said, “one day I might make it as a writer!”

In 1984 I joined the railways fulfilling a series of roles before taking early retirement in 2014 after 30 years. In November 1998, as a station manager, I was on Royal Train duties. It was my task to escort HRH Prince Charles on to the train at Hampton Court railway station. It had passed midnight and a little worse for wear, he had been celebrating his fiftieth birthday at Hampton Court Palace. The train had been prepared for a trip to Sheffield where the prince had an engagement the following day. The media were at the station in numbers, expecting the prince to be with Camilla, it was just after he had started seeing her in the aftermath of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, just over a year before. Camilla wasn’t there, and the only thing the press photographers got, was an image of HRH Prince Charles and me walking along the station platform. It was quite amusing seeing myself labelled as his Royal Equerry in some of the national newspapers a couple of days later. 

It’s no secret that I had left school at just fifteen-years-old before taking any formal qualifications. My ambition was always to be a journalist but without the necessary qualifications that was never to be. Well, not until I had reached my late fifties anyway. In 2015 I was attending a local football match near where I live when I struck up a conversation with the new editor of the Woking News & Mail. She had seen some of my work on the local community website and was impressed with my style of writing. Within a week I joined the paper on a freelance basis. So, never, say never! 

I have a bit of a reputation for going to the pub. I’ve also been married three times, and by pure coincidence, I met all three of the ex-wives in pubs. (Two of them were barmaids). Towards the end of each marriage, all of them said, ‘Mal, you can never stay out of the pub.’ One good thing to come out of the recent Covid-19 restrictions is that I’ve been able to prove all of them wrong! 

 Buy Links

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About the Author

Mal Foster

Mal Foster was born in 1956 in Farnham, Surrey, and grew up in nearby Camberley. He was educated at secondary modern level but left school at just fifteen years old to help support his single mother and younger brother. It was around this time that he began writing, and indeed, his first poems were published soon after. 

In 2007 his most widely read poem The Wedding was published in the Australian Secondary Schools anthology Poetry Unlocked' a book that formed part of its English Literature exam curriculum. The irony of its inclusion has always amused Mal considering he left school before gaining any formal qualifications himself.  

A former local journalist, his first novel The Asylum Soul, a historical tale of incarceration was published in 2015. A second book, Fly Back and Purify, a paranormal drama appeared in 2017. Described as an explosive conspiracy thriller, An Invisible Nemesis was published at the beginning of May 2019.

In November 2020, his fourth novel, Jude & Bliss, was published and marked a return to historical fiction for Mal. "This book is close to my heart, it's the one, I think, which will define the course of my future writing," he told one observer.  

Connect with Mal


Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Book Spotlight and Excerpt: The North Finchley Writers’ Group by Richard Tearle, with Helen Hollick


When a group of north London writers meet each month for a chat, coffee, and cake – what else is on their agenda? Constructive criticism? New Ideas? An exciting project? And maybe, more than one prospective romance...?

Eavesdrop on the monthly meetings of the North Finchley Writers' Group, follow some ordinary people with a love of story writing, and an eagerness for success. Discover, along with them, the mysteries of creating characters and plot, of what inspires ideas, and how real life can, occasionally, divert the dream...



My name – my personal and professional name – is Rob Taylor and I'm a writer.

It is rather strange to state that as a fact after years of scribbling, despair at rejections tempered by moments of high elation when one of my stories was accepted by a respected magazine. But I can state it as a truth now, for I write regularly for several publications, and my first compilation has recently been published with a fixed contract for two more to follow. At the moment, I write short stories, but more than a few friends have encouraged me with prompts such as “You have a novel in you, you know,and, “A short story has the potential to be a novel writ long.” I am working on the idea.

 But enough of that.

 About a year or so ago, I was unexpectedly made redundant. Jobless, but with a good-enough redundancy bank balance to keep me going for a bit, and a determination to do what I wanted to do – write – I took the plunge and converted the spare bedroom into a study. I started writing full time and joined the North Finchley Writers' Group, where I met some lovely people who, one way or another, gave me the encouragement to develop my ideas.

 All to my satisfaction, but my wife's dismay.

The members of our writers’ group are a very mixed bunch, as you will find out. We meet every month at a different house and whoever is the host gets to provide tea and coffee – often with cake or ‘light snacks’ – and chooses a topic for discussion. We talk, voice opinions, and yes, sometimes we argue. But it is all forgotten when we walk away into the night.


They've had quite a turnover of members over the years. Some who came for a couple of meetings and then disappear. Some who weren't really writers but 'dabble' and think that attending a writers' group meeting makes them one. They never last long. Some have moved along and, sadly, one or two have passed on to the great Library in the Sky. Nowadays we have about a dozen or so regulars. There are one or two who are deliberately obstructive. Outspoken.  Single-minded. Cantankerous.

Some are shy and introverted and, in truth, offer little. But they listen and learn, and that is what we are all there for. To learn from others, be they best sellers or unpublished writers. Because, whatever our differences, we stick together and, if anyone is down, we stand by them and offer encouragement. If someone is on a high, then we enthuse in their success.

Most of us, anyway.

We do have a few Best Sellers. Angela Knight, for example, and Zak Nichols. Charlotte Caroll is more than adept at Regency romances, (not my bag, but, well, credit where credit's due) and Jean Hart uses her history degree to good effect, as does Hilary Jackson, albeit covering a different period of time.

I'll introduce them all properly as we go along...

 Buy Link


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Richard Tearle

A Word From Richard Tearle :

 “To the writing community, whether they be traditionally published, indie or aspiring. 

You make the rocking world go round...Writers are such a wonderful community – supportive, helpful and ever willing to give their time and expertise to one humble chap such as I. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

Richard – December 2020

 Connect with Richard



Helen Hollick

A Word From Helen Hollick:

It was with great enthusiasm that I encouraged Richard to write this, his first novel. His enjoyment of creating a good story, I felt, should be shared to readers and writers, everywhere. Unfortunately, at the editing stage, Richard became ill, involving hospitalisation. In discussion with his son, rather than abandon the project or put it on hold, we decided that the best course of action was for me to continue with getting this book published on his behalf. The characters, plot – the story – are all Richard’s immense talent, I merely tidied up and added the final polish, coming in as ‘painter and decorator’ to Richard’s main role as architect, designer, and builder.

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Sunday, February 14, 2021

NEW RELEASE: Forgiving Nero by Mary Ann Bernal


Rome. The jewel of the civilized world is no longer what it was. Strength has failed the Senate. Her legions are in disarray, and the Empire has fallen into Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus Nero’s hands. His reign begins under a cloud of scrutiny, for he is the depraved Emperor Caligula’s nephew. Nero is determined to overcome that stigma and carve a name of his own. One worthy of Rome’s illustrious history.

 Politics and treachery threaten to end Nero’s reign before it begins, forcing him to turn to unexpected sources for friendship and help. Many of the Praetorian Guard have watched over Nero since he was a small child, and it is in Traian that the young Emperor places his trust, despite the inherent threat of reducing his mother’s influence. Traian is the father he never had and the one man who does not judge him.

 When Traian secretly marries the hostage Vena, it sets in motion a collision of values as Traian comes to odds with his former charge. The whirlwind that follows will shake the very foundations of the greatest Empire the world has ever known, and survival is far from guaranteed.


Global Link

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About the Author

Mary Ann Bernal

Mary Ann Bernal attended Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, NY, where she received a degree in Business Administration. Her literary aspirations were ultimately realized when the first book of The Briton and the Dane novels was published in 2009. In addition to writing historical fiction, Mary Ann has also authored a collection of contemporary short stories in the Scribbler Tales series and a science fiction/fantasy novel entitled Planetary Wars Rise of an Empire. Her recent work includes Crusader’s Path, a redemption story set against the backdrop of the First Crusade, and Forgiving Nero, a novel of Ancient Rome.

Since Operation Desert Storm, Mary Ann has been a passionate supporter of the United States military, having been involved with letter-writing campaigns and other support programs. She appeared on The Morning Blend television show hosted by KMTV, the CBS television affiliate in Omaha, and was interviewed by the Omaha World-Herald for her volunteer work. She has been a featured author on various reader blogs and promotional sites.

Mary Ann currently resides in Elkhorn, Nebraska.

 Connect with Mary Ann:

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Author Portrait by Doctor Ivan Graphix @DocIvanSFN

Monday, February 8, 2021

Book Spotlight: The Fall of Kings (Legend of the Cid, Book 3) by Stuart Rudge

 Castile. 1071AD. Three kings. One crown.

After Sancho II of Castile dispatches his champion Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar to capture his brother, King Garcia of Galicia, he hopes it is a defining moment in his quest to reunite the lands of his father under one banner. But Alfonso VI of Leon is one step ahead, and has already added the lands of Galicia to his domain. When the only alternative is war, Sancho turns to Rodrigo to lead the armies of Castile, and he must use all his tactical acumen to defeat the Leonese in the field. Only one son of Fernando can claim victory and become the Emperor of Hispania.

Rodrigo and Antonio Perez, now a knight of the realm, find difficulty adjusting to the new regime. Dissent and unrest run rife throughout the kingdom, and the fear of a knife in the dark from enemies old and new hangs heavy upon the pair. But if it is allowed to fester, it threatens to undo all that has been achieved. Can Rodrigo and Antonio root out the enemies of the king, and prevent chaos reigning throughout the land?

The Fall of Kings in the breathtaking third instalment of the Legend of the Cid.

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Stuart Rudge

Stuart Rudge was born and raised in Middlesbrough, where he still lives. His love of history came from his father and uncle, both avid readers of history, and his love of tabletop wargaming and strategy video games. He studied Ancient History and Archaeology at Newcastle University and has spent his fair share of time in muddy trenches, digging up treasure at Bamburgh Castle.

He was worked in the retail sector and volunteered in museums, before working in York Minster, which he considered the perfect office. His love of writing blossomed within the historic walls, and he knew there were stories within which had to be told. Despite a move in to the shipping and logistics sector (a far cry to what he hoped to ever do), his love of writing has only grown stronger.

Rise of a Champion is the first piece of work he has dared to share with the world. Before that came a novel about the Roman Republic and a Viking-themed fantasy series (which will likely never see the light of day, but served as good practise). He hopes to establish himself as a household name in the mound of Bernard Cornwell, Giles Kristian, Ben Kane and Matthew Harffy, amongst a host of his favourite writers.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Spotlight on Michael L. Ross, author of The Search (Across the Great Divide, Book II)


Where do you go when home is no longer an option?

The guns of the Civil War have ceased firing, and the shots are but an echo... yet the war rages on, deep inside Will Crump's soul. His "soldier's heart" is searching for peace, and in that quest Will joins the westward movement, setting his path on a collision course with adventure, loss, and love.

The Westward Expansion floods the sacred, untouched lands with immigrants, bringing conflict to the Shoshone, Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho. Amidst the chaos Will finds safety in the shadow of the US Army, but the army brings battle-hardened troops into Red Cloud's War, pulling Will into a tornado of conflict. Broken treaties and promises leave both sides searching for answers. Will's search leads him to a battle for survival, and there he finds a love that could change him forever.

Dove, a young Shoshone woman, is a survivor of the Bear Creek Massacre. After being kidnapped and escaping from the Cheyenne, she joins Will's search, seeking where she belongs. Dove longs for more than the restricted role placed on women in her tribe. If she can learn to trust a white man, he just might help her find home... and hope.

Together, Will and Dove must search for understanding, and reach Across the Great Divide.


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Michael L. Ross

Fun Facts

 I once thought about working for the CIA. I went through two sets of interviews, but couldn’t find out what the job was, despite already having a top-secret clearance from my previous job.  Through a friend of a friend that worked for the Agency, I found out that the job didn’t pay well, and might have me supporting operations I didn’t believe in, so I declined further interviews.

        When I was three years old, I nearly drowned. My swimming instructor was negligent, and my mother dived in to save me. I acquired a great fear of drowning. I am only now learning to swim well in my sixties. But I love canoeing, and used to do solo whitewater.

·        I’ve visited all fifty states of the United States, and lived in seven of them. I’ve also traveled to Mexico, Canada, Honduras, England, Scotland, Austria, Italy, Greece, Germany, Israel, Russia, China, and Japan.

·        I was on my college fencing team and won tournaments.

·        I love airplanes and horses. I’ve flown in the back of an F14 as a passenger. I used to own and show Morgan horses.

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About the Author

Michael L. Ross

Best-selling author Michael Ross is a lover of history and great stories. He's a retired software engineer turned author, with three children and five grandchildren, living in Newton, Kansas with his wife of forty years. He was born in Lubbock, Texas, and still loves Texas. The main character of "Across the Great Divide", William Dorsey Crump, is one of the founders of Lubbock and Shallowater, Texas. Michael knew Will's granddaughter when he was a child. He has written a scholarly article on Will Crump for the Texas Historical Society, published in the Handbook of Texas Online, and has sold short stories in the past. This is his first novel and the first in the Across the Great Divide series, now an Amazon bestseller.

Michael attended Rice University as an undergraduate, and Portland State University for his graduate degree. He has degrees in computer science, software engineering, and German. In his spare time, Michael loves to go fishing, riding horses, and play with his grandchildren, who are currently all under six years old.

He sees many parallels between the time of the Civil War and our divided nation of today. Sanctuary cities, immigration, arguments around the holiday table, threats of secession - all are nothing new. Sometimes, to understand the present, you have to look at the past- and reach Across the Great Divide.  

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