Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Spotlight on Rachel R. Heil, author of Leningrad: The People’s War (Leningrad, Book 1)


Leningrad, 1941. As Europe crumbles under the German war machine, the people of the Soviet Union watch. There are whispers of war but not loud enough for the civilians of Leningrad to notice. Instead, they keep their heads down and try to avoid the ever-watching eyes of their own oppressive government.

University student Tatiana Ivankova tries to look ahead to the future after a family tragedy that characterizes life under the brutal regime. But, when the rumors that have been circulating the country become a terrifying reality, Tatiana realizes that the greatest fear may not be the enemy but what her fellow citizens are prepared to do to each other to survive.

As his men plow through the Russian countryside, Heinrich Nottebohm is told to follow orders and ask no questions, even if such commands go against his own principles. His superiors hold over him a past event that continues to destroy him with every day that passes. But, when given the opportunity to take an act of defiance, Heinrich will jump at the chance, ignoring what the end results could be.

Leningrad: The Peoples War tells the harrowing beginning of a war that forever changed the landscape of a city, told through the eyes of both sides in a tale of courage, love, and sacrifice.

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Rachel R. Heil

I didn’t always want to be a writer. I actually wanted to be a professional ballet dancer. My bedroom was decorated with a ballet theme, and when I was little I would binge-watch the animated Barbie movies because they always incorporated ballet. I started taking classes at five years old and went until I was thirteen. Ultimately it didn’t work out, but I still have a love for ballet and have attended a few ballets in my home city. A dream of mine would be able to see one of the premier ballet companies perform in their native city.


Paris Ballet
Source: Wikimedia Commons

In 2008 my state’s major museum got to host the Titanic exhibit that traveled the country. The Titanic was the event that sparked my love for history, so when I saw the exhibit was coming to my state it was all I could talk about for six months. My parents took me on the second day it was open (alas, the first day was a Friday and eleven-year-old me had to go to school) and I looked at every item, spewing to my parents and sister a million facts about the ship. Only years later did my mom tell me how I had a group of other visitors following me so they could hear the stories and facts I was sharing! I was just too absorbed in the exhibit to notice.


Titanic Pigeon Forge

My favorite book is The Great Gatsby, and F. Scott Fitzgerald is my favorite author. In my final year of college, I had to do a senior seminar project. I wrote an essay and gave a presentation on how The Great Gatsby was Fitzgerald’s definitive book as opposed to Tender is the Night, the work Fitzgerald was seemingly most proud of. 


Source:  Charles Schribner's Sons, Wikimedia Commons

I’ve done quite a bit of travel. My family has taken many vacations together, and we’ve been to Disney World, Chicago, Niagara Falls, Washington DC, Boston, Seattle, New Orleans, Minneapolis, Fort Meyers, and Michigan. Internationally, I’ve been to Toronto, London, and Paris. Currently, we’re planning a trip to Ireland and a brief stop in London. I have plenty of more places I want to see, and I hope I can get back into it with the end of the pandemic. I don’t like my passport collecting dust.


Buckingham Palace

I am not much of a summer person. The heat and bugs are just not my cup of tea. While I enjoy a lazy day by the pool reading a good book, I’m much more of a fall and winter person, especially if I can stay inside during not-so-great winter. People tend to be pretty surprised by that as I live in Wisconsin, and our winters last a long time! But I love the winter and especially enjoy writing when it’s snowing.


Source: Wikimedia Commons

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Rachel R. Heil

Rachel R. Heil is a historical fiction writer who always dreamed of being an author. After years of dreaming, she finally decided to turn this dream into a reality with her first novel, and series, Behind the Darkened Glass. Rachel is an avid history fan, primarily focused on twentieth-century history and particularly World War Two-era events. In addition to her love for history, Rachel loves following the British Royal Family and traveling the world, which only opens the door to learning more about a country's history. Rachel resides in Wisconsin.

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Friday, June 24, 2022

The Briton and the Dane: Timeline - character interview with Dr. Gwyneth Franger

 An Interview with 
Dr. Gwyneth Franger

Commentator (C): Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Dr. Franger.

Gwyneth (G): Please call me Gwyneth, and I appreciate this opportunity for my fans to know the “real me.”

C: Let’s start with where do you live?

G: London, but the year is 2066. It is an exciting city, rich in history but also progressive, blending the old with the new. One challenge, however, is recruiting talented men and women to study the past, not only in the classroom but on archeological sites. There is nothing more exciting than discovering ancient artifacts buried in rubble after spending hours, days, or even years, removing centuries of dirt and debris.

C: You appear passionate about history. Did you always feel that way?

G: Since I was old enough to hold a shovel. I would spend hours in the park, “excavating” possible sites. It didn’t bother me that I never discovered a relic. I was learning my craft. One day I struck an object; you can imagine my excitement when I unearthed pieces of Roman pottery. Of course, I didn’t learn until much later that my parents were behind my first find.

 C: What is your favorite archeological site?

 G: The ruins of the Wareham citadel. Thankfully, the fortress had been reinforced with stone since the wooden structures suffered the effects of time and natural disasters, such as fire. The Keep, which is the tower, still stands as it once did during the reign of Alfred the Great. The view is breathtaking, and I never tire of summer evenings watching the waves crashing gently upon the rocks below.

C: Has your belief in God helped or hindered your investigations?

G: I believe in Divine Intervention. There is no other way to explain how I was transported, unscathed, back in time to the eleventh century. My life definitely changed from the experience, and without this Divine Intervention, I would not have returned to my timeline, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

C: What was it like living in the eleventh century?

G: It was quite a challenge, and I was very concerned about doing something that would change the course of history. I had seen the old Star Trek television shows and was very aware of the dangers of interfering. I found having to take a submissive female role disconcerting, but I threw myself into the role of my character. What helped was having studied drama one summer at Stratford-upon-Avon with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

C: Who provided for you during that time?

G: Lord Erik of Wareham, my husband. Again, this is where Divine Intervention comes into play. The night I arrived in Wareham, Erik was waiting for me in the chapel; yes, we were married that evening. He had been expecting me, which I found unnerving. However, he didn’t know at that point that I was from the future. I need to interject that I have been obsessed with him since I stumbled upon a rare painting at a Renaissance Fair. The portrait is still on the wall in my office.

C: Fascinating. When did you take Erik into your confidence? And were other people privy to your true identity?

G: It was disturbing, initially. However, Erik’s belief and trust in God were strong; everything he could not understand was attributed to Divine Intervention. Remember, religion played an essential role in everyday life. While Erik accepted I was from the future, he never pressed me for information about how events turned out. A select few were taken into our confidence, but as far as everyone else was concerned, I was Lord Erik’s wife, who was not from these parts.

C: Would you change anything if you could revisit the eleventh century?

G: The thought is tempting; how different would the world be if William the Conqueror had been defeated at the Battle of Hastings? Oh, my gosh, we could discuss what-ifs for hours on end and still be unhappy with the results. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to live during a time that people can only read about in history books, and I count my blessings every day that I have been so blessed.

C: Thank you, Gwyneth, for your candor. We look forward to reading about your adventures in The Briton and the Dane: Timeline.


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Award-winning author, 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.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Book Spotlight: Clement: The Templar’s Treasure (Clement, Book 3) by Craig R. Hipkins


Clement & Dagena return for another action-packed adventure. From the cold and dreary shores of Greenland to the fabled land of Vinland. The legendary treasure of the Knights Templar awaits.


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Clement: The Templar’s Treasure is set in the middle of the 12th century. It was the age of chivalry and the day of the troubadours. The history of Europe during this time is well known. There have been countless books written about the crusades and the jousting tournaments prevalent during this age. Every student of medieval history knows about Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard the Lionheart, and Geoffrey of Monmouth. Even the peasant life of medieval Europe has been written about and popularized by writers such as Frances and Joseph Gies. In China, this was the age of the Song dynasty and the birth of gunpowder. However, not much is known about what was going on across the ocean in North America.

(Christian Krohg) Leif Discovering America

In this third installment of the Clement series, the boy knight travels in the wake of Leif Erikson, albeit a century and a half after that explorer first mentions Vinland in the Norse sagas. It is said that Leif filled a boat with grapes in a region more temperate than Greenland or Iceland. It is thought by historians Leif might have stumbled across the cranberry bogs of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Not much is known about the people living in this region during the 12th century. The indigenous inhabitants of New England at this time did not keep calendars or written records, or if they did, they have not survived. It would be nearly five centuries until the English colonists in the 17th century recorded anything about the Wampanoag or Nipmuck peoples that lived in this area. As I am a native New Englander, I am familiar with the history of these Native American people. In my book, I describe in detail what a Nipmuck village might have looked like in the 12th century. I based the description on a late 16th century watercolor of an Algonquin village which is located in the British Museum. It is believed that like most European towns and cities in medieval times, indigenous American towns would also have been fortified to prevent a sudden attack by a hostile power.

I am well familiar with the topography in Clement: The Templar’s Treasure. I grew up in Central Massachusetts and woke up every morning with a view of the ‘Lone Mountain’ out my bedroom window. The name of the mountain is Wachusett which, loosely translated is an Algonquin word for ‘Near the Mountain.’ My research of the Nipmuck and Wampanoag of New England was limited to descriptions and literature of early colonists like William Bradford. However, a lot can be discovered by reading these early accounts of New England life. I imagine that not much had changed in the centuries between the events in my book and the arrival of the Mayflower in 1620.

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 Craig R. Hipkins

Craig R. Hipkins grew up in Hubbardston Massachusetts. He is the author of medieval and gothic fiction. His novel, Adalbert is the sequel to Astrolabe written by his late twin brother Jay S. Hipkins (1968-2018) He is an avid long-distance runner and enjoys astronomy in his spare time.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Book Spotlight: Gwenna The Welsh Confectioner (The New Zealand Immigrant Collection) by Vicky Adin

 Against overwhelming odds, can she save her legacy?

Gwenna's life is about to change. Her father is dead and the family business on the brink of collapse. Thwarted by society, the plucky sweet maker refuses to accept defeat.

Amid the bustling vibrancy of Aucklands Karangahape Road, she promised her father she would fulfill his dreams and save her legacy. But thanks to her overbearing stepbrother that legacy is at risk. Gwenna must find hidden strengths and fight for her rights if she is to keep her promise.

She falls in love with the cheeky and charming Johnno, but just when things are beginning to look up, disaster strikes. Throughout the twists and turns of love and tragedy, Gwenna is irrepressible. She refuses to relinquish her goal and lets nothing and no one stand in her way. Blind to anything that could distract her, Gwenna overlooks the most important person in her life, putting her dreams, her family, and her chance at happiness in jeopardy.

Trigger Warnings:

Domestic violence, death.

Follow the tour  HERE 


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 Available on Kindle Unlimited.


Universal series links:

Gwenna The Welsh Confectioner:

Brigid The Girl from County Clare:

The Costumiers Gift:

Vicky Adin


Vicky Adin is a family historian in love with the past. Like the characters in her stories, she too, is an immigrant to New Zealand, arriving a century after her first protagonists and ready to start a new life.

Born in Wales, she grew up in Cornwall until age 12. Her family emigrated to New Zealand, a country she would call home. Vicky draws on her affinity for these places in her writing. Fast forward a few years, and she marries a fourth-generation Kiwi bloke with Irish, Scottish, and English ancestors, and her passion for genealogy flourishes.

The further she dug into the past the more she wanted to record the lives of the people who were the foundations of her new country. Not just her ancestors but all those who braved the oceans and became pioneers in a raw new land. Her research into life as it was for those immigrants in the mid-late 1800s and early 1900s gave her enough material to write about the land left behind and the birth of a new nation for many years.

Vicky holds a MA(Hons) in English, is a lover of art, antiques, gardens, good food, and red wine. She and her husband travel throughout New Zealand in their caravan and travel the world when they can. She hopes that younger generations also enjoy learning about the past through her stories as much as she had in writing them.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Book Spotlight and Excerpt: The Wistful and the Good (Cuthbert’s People, Book 1) by G. M. Baker

The mighty are undone by pride, the bold by folly, and the good by wistfulness.

Elswyth's mother was a slave, but her father is a thegn, and Drefan, the man she is to marry, is an ealdorman's son. But though Elswyth is content with the match, and waits only for Drefan to notice that she has come to womanhood, still she finds herself gazing seaward, full of wistful longing.


From the sea come Norse traders, bringing wealth, friendship, and tales of distant lands. But in this year of grace 793 the sea has brought a great Viking raid that has devastated the rich monastery of Lindisfarne. Norse are suddenly not welcome in Northumbria, and when Elswyth spots a Norse ship approaching the beach in her village of Twyford, her father fears a Viking raid.


But the ship brings trouble of a different kind. Leif has visited Twyford many times as a boy, accompanying his father on his voyages. But now he returns in command of his father's ship and desperate to raise his father's ransom by selling a cargo of Christian holy books. Elswyth is fascinated by the books and the pictures they contain of warm and distant lands.


But when Drefan arrives, investigating reports of the sighting of a Norse ship, Elswyth must try to keep the peace between Drefan and Leif, and tame the wistfulness of her restless heart. 


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Edith put two fingers in her mouth and whistled loudly. Three boys came scampering at the command.

“Run to the fields and tell the men that the thegn summons them,” she told them. She held out a hand to her husband so that he could help her rise. “You should not use that girl as a sentinel.”

“There’s not a better set of eyes in the village.”

“That may be, but she is to marry Drefan after the harvest, and I’ve much to do to make a lady of her yet. Can you imagine if, the day after she marries Drefan, Lady Cyneburg finds her in the mud behind Bamburgh hall, barefoot, playing pickup sticks with the slave children?”

“Cyneburg loves her.”

“Everyone loves her. That is her curse. But Cyneburg loving Elswyth and Cyneburg thinking Elswyth fit to succeed her as lady to the ealdorman of Bamburgh? That is a very different thing. For that she must be a lady—and not just when it pleases her. Cyneburg has not forgotten who she is. She has not forgotten that I was born a slave. There were days I washed her feet and served her meat, and she has not forgotten that, I promise you.”

“You’re a lady now,” Attor said. “And Elswyth always was.”

“But she looks more like those who serve in Bamburgh than those who rule. So in her dress, in her manner, she must be more a lady than any of them, than Cyneburg herself. But what is she today? A shoeless child pining for sailor men. And it is you giving her leave to do it.”

“It frees a man for the haying.”

“And is the haying worth losing her marriage over?”

It was an old argument between them. Not a week went by without Edith asking her husband if some adventure or indulgence was worth losing Elswyth’s marriage over.

“She’ll not lose the marriage,” Attor said. “Drefan’s smitten.”

“Smitten?” Edith said. “Of course he’s smitten. But what has smitten to do with the marriages of nobility?”

“I was smitten,” he said, placing one arm around her and pulling her to him so he could kiss first her, and then Daisy, upon the head. “Still am.”

“And what advantage did you have by it? It cost you thirty hides that Elene of Hadston would have brought you, your brother’s friendship, your mother’s love.”

“My mother loved the children.”

“She loved Elswyth because everyone does. She loved Hilda because she looks like her. She never loved me or forgave you. Blood debt or not, Kenrick and Cyneburg won’t throw so much away if they don’t think Elswyth suitable.”

At that moment, the unsuitable child came tearing down the path from the clifftop, bare feet flying, hair streaming behind her.

“It is Norsk!” she cried as she ran towards them. “It is Norsk, but I think it is Uncle Harrald. It is a knarr for sure. But perhaps I should ride to Alnwick anyway, just in case.”

“Ride to Alnwick?” Edith said.

“Father said I could ride to Alnwick if it was vikingar. To give the alarm.”

“Well you can’t,” Edith said. She turned to her husband. “What were you thinking? We would not have seen her for a month if you had given her leave and a good horse.”

“Of course you would,” Elswyth said. “Of course, it would be rude to ride to Alnwick and then not call on Uncle Leofwine and Uncle Osgar, and Eglingham is so close that I would have to go there too. But I would only be gone a week at most.”

“And four men taken from the fields to escort you.”

“No. Father said I could ride alone.”

“Just to give the alarm,” Attor protested. “Thegn Wigberht would have sent you right back with an escort.”

“If he could catch her,” Edith said. “You are not leaving this village, miss, till the ship comes to take you to Bamburgh after the harvest. And by then you must have your wedding dress complete.”


“If the ship is Norsk,” Attor said, “then I must certainly meet them with spears, whether you think it is Harrald or not.” He who had never flinched in the battle line wanted no part of war between his wife and daughter. He hurried off, with his awkward gait, to organize the men who were beginning to stream in from the fields.

“You don’t really think I would ride away for a month and miss Uncle Harrald and Uncle Thor, do you?” Elswyth asked her mother.

Edith looked at her daughter. Elswyth’s appearance provoked a frown that expressed not simply annoyance, but a deep and vexing puzzle. Elswyth was a lovely young woman, plump in the bosom, round in the hips, with a mane of glossy black hair. Her face was the image of Edith’s own. It was the face that Edith had once seen staring back at her from a still pool, when she was a slave and her face had been the whole of her fortune. It was a wholly Welisc face with not a trace of Anglish in it. On Edith, who had been born to Welisc slaves on the manor where she was now lady, that face had been enough to catch the eye of an Anglish thegn’s son. On Elswyth, Edith believed, it was a face that might have caught the fancy of an Anglish king, if only the opportunity had presented itself.

Elswyth was clad in a summer dress of green linen with brooches befitting her rank, and a decorated belt with heavy copper terminals shaped like the heads of herons, which she wore high to emphasize her bosom. Yet she was barefoot like a child, and there were at least a dozen sticky burs clinging to her skirts and a posy of assorted and drooping wildflowers stuck behind one of her brooches.

“Where are your shoes?” Edith asked.

“Why would I wear shoes in the middle of summer?”

“Because you are no longer a child. A respectable noblewoman wears shoes on her feet, winter or summer. And a wimple on her head.”

“There’s a ship, Mother.”

“Where is your work basket?”

“It’s Norsk! I can tell by the shape, by the way it sails. I’m almost sure it’s Uncle Harrald.”

“I’d be glad if it was,” Edith said. “But he has not come in two years. Wrecked and drowned, like as not. Such is the fate of sailors.”

“Of course they are not wrecked or drowned,” Elswyth said. “Uncle Thor would never let them be wrecked or drowned.”

“Uncle Thor is just a man. I know you loved him, darling, but you are a woman now and you have seen quite enough of death to know that people die, no matter how much we love them.”

“I know,” Elswyth said, looking downcast for the moment or two that was all her nature was capable of. “But not Uncle Thor. Not Uncle Harrald either. You’ll see. It’s their ship. I know it is.”

“Well then go put your shoes on and make yourself presentable to receive guests.” Edith yanked out the posy of flowers that drooped behind Elswyth’s brooch, and threw it on the ground. She bundled Daisy into Elswyth’s arms while she pulled the sticky burrs out of Elswyth’s skirts. Then she took the baby back from her grown daughter and said, “And put on a wimple too. You should not be parading your hair in front of sailors at your age.”

“Not till I’m married, Mother. You promised!” Elswyth replied. But she said it over her shoulder as she ran off so that she was gone before Edith had a chance to respond.

 G. M. Baker

G. M. Baker has been a newspaper reporter, managing editor, freelance writer, magazine contributor, PhD candidate, seminarian, teacher, desktop publisher, programmer, technical writer, department manager, communications director, non-fiction author, speaker, consultant, and grandfather. He has published stories in The Atlantic Advocate, Fantasy Book, New England’s Coastal Journal, Our Family, Storyteller, Solander, and Dappled Things. There was nothing much left to do but become a novelist.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Book Spotlight and Excerpt: Raleigh – Tudor Adventurer (The Elizabethan Series, Book 3) by Tony Riches


Tudor adventurer, courtier, explorer and poet, Sir Walter Raleigh has been called the last true Elizabethan.

He didn’t dance or joust, didn’t come from a noble family, or marry into one. So how did an impoverished law student become a favourite of the queen, and Captain of the Guard?

The story which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy follows Walter Raleigh from his first days at the Elizabethan Court to the end of the Tudor dynasty.

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Durham House, London, May 1583

I could list a dozen reasons not to fall for Elizabeth Knollys, Lady Leighton. As a gentlewoman of the privy chamber, under the judgemental glare of the queen, her conduct had to be exemplary. Lady Leighton was also married – to Sir Thomas Leighton, Governor of Guernsey – and was a cousin, once removed, of the queen.

With a jolt, I realised why I couldn’t deny my feelings for her. Elizabeth Leighton was the embodiment of Queen Elizabeth as she could have been at my own age. Her lustrous golden-red hair was her own, her pale skin smooth and perfect. Her eyes regarded me not with fierce power, but with what I hoped was admiration, even longing.

‘You don’t dance, Master Raleigh?’ She’d found me watching the capering courtiers at the May Day celebrations at Greenwich Palace. The musicians played loudly, and she moved so close I could breathe in the scent of her perfume, delicate and sensual. Intoxicating.

‘I never learned to dance, my lady, and have no regrets.’ I sensed her gentle warmth as our thighs touched, and was filled with half-forgotten feelings.

She smiled, revealing perfect teeth. ‘No regrets?’ She turned to watch the laughing dancers, most of whom looked as if they’d enjoyed a little too much wine. ‘How I wish I could say the same.’

The unexpected sadness in her voice surprised me. ‘I was only talking about not learning to dance, my lady. I regret many things. I’ve passed thirty, and have no wife or children. I don’t even have a proper title.’

‘I regret marrying a man I rarely see, nineteen years my senior.’ Her hand brushed my thigh as if by accident, sending a frisson of arousal through my body. ‘My greatest regret is having no time for my two daughters, who barely know me.’

We were breaking the strictest rules of court, in such a public place. I’d not forgotten Alice’s warning about the ladies of the queen’s bedchamber. Be wary of them, Captain Raleigh, lest they harm you with their gossip. I’d been lonely since she’d left, and longed to take Lady Elizabeth Leighton in my arms.

If destiny brought us together most days in the privy chamber, it was adventure that drove my reckless feelings. I missed the sense of ever-present danger in Ireland, and had almost forgotten the rebellious man I’d been in my youth.

I lay awake at night dreaming of her, reliving every moment with her at the May dance. I heard the unmistakeable invitation in her words, and saw the glint of promise in her amber eyes. It would be madness to pursue her, a great risk to my reputation – and hers – yet I couldn’t put her from my mind.

She’d worn a jewelled pendant at her breast, in the form of a dove and serpent. I knew them as the emblems of mildness and prudence, yet in my daydreams I wondered if she was a dove, and I the snake who threatened our futures with temptation to taste the forbidden fruit.

I rose at first light to capture the lines of the verse that kept me restless in my bed. I shivered in my nightshirt as I sat close to the window overlooking the grey river, changing and crossing out words until I was satisfied.

Lady, farewell, whom I in silence serve.

Would God thou knewst the depth of my desire,

Then might I hope, though naught I can deserve,

Some drop of grace would quench my scorching fire.

But as to love unknown I have decreed,

So spare to speak doth often spare to speed.

Yet better ’twere that I in woe should waste

Than sue for grace and pity in despite,

And though I see in thee such pleasure placed

That feeds my joy and breeds my chief delight,

Withal I see a chaste consent disdain

Their suits which seek to win thy will again.

Then, farewell! Hope and help to each man’s harm!

I read my words aloud, sure no servants would hear my voice so early in the day. I had to say farewell, as there could be no future for us in this world. My intent was honourable – to end our liaison before it began. Yet some faint glimmer of hope and longing made me add a final verse.

The wind of woe hath torn my tree of trust,

Care quenched the coals which did my fancy warm,

And all my help lies buried in the dust.

But yet, amongst those cares which cross my rest,

This comfort grows, I think I love thee best.

 Tony Riches

Tony Riches is a full-time UK author of best-selling historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the lives of the Tudors. He also runs the popular Stories of the Tudorspodcast, and posts book reviews, author interviews and guest posts at his blog, The Writing Desk. For more information about Tonys books please visit his website and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches

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Friday, June 10, 2022

Book Spotlight and Excerpt: Alpha Revealed by Brenda Sparks

Natasha Peterhoff is the luckiest vampire in the world. Having pined over the sexy but aloof Vladimir Starikovich for centuries, her feelings are reciprocated when the pair are drawn to each other the night of her brother's wedding. Unfortunately, the stark light of day dawns, and the couple parts ways.

Back in Siberia, Vlad is overcome by doubts. Not only will Natasha's brother kill him, but his own past is reason enough to keep her away. He vows to do everything in his power to keep her safe, even it if means never seeing her again.

With so many reasons to stay apart, will the ties that bind be strong enough to pull them together?

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Vlad is a man of many secrets. Natasha has a little secret of her own. But secrets have a way of coming out…and sometimes that is for the best.


She lifted one arm in his direction. He raised a hand to still her movement. “Don’t…touch me.”

Well, damned if that didn’t smart. He didn’t want her to touch him, even to offer him a little comfort. My, how things changed. He certainly hadn’t minded her touch the night of her brother’s wedding.

Fine. If he doesn’t want me touching him, so be it.

Natasha turned around, sending her harlequin-colored pigtails twirling about her face, and retrieved the bag of blood from the floor. Without looking in his direction, she stalked through the room and sat in the only padded chair. She punctured the bag with her fangs and drank, glaring at him over the top of the bag.

The blood seeped into her cells, nourishing both her and the baby. The baby moved as she continued to down the bag quickly. Her hunger pangs eased a little with each gulp of the life-sustaining liquid.

Vlad slowly straightened to his full height. The expression on his face, a cross between disdain and pain, softened her eyes. With an awkward gait, he gingerly moved in her direction.

“We need to talk,” he barked, his voice still rough with pain.

She just bet they did. No doubt, Vlad would tell her to leave. It was there on his face. He obviously didn’t want her in his home, and she didn’t blame him.

She had run out after they made love, avoided him for months, and now she had injured his manhood. If the tables were reversed, she probably wouldn’t want him around either.

Brenda Sparks

Born in Virginia, Brenda Sparks now resides in the Sunshine State.  Balancing her professional commitment to the local school district with her writing is challenging at times, but writing suspenseful paranormal romance is a passion that won’t be denied. Her idea of a perfect day is one spent in front of a computer with a hot cup of coffee, her fingers flying over the keys to send her characters off on their latest adventure.  Brenda loves to connect with readers.  Please visit her online or stop by her website to say hi.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Book Spotlight: The Accursed King (The Plantagenet Legacy Book 4) by Mercedes Rochelle


What happens when a king loses his prowess? The day Henry IV could finally declare he had vanquished his enemies, he threw it all away with an infamous deed. No English king had executed an archbishop before. And divine judgment was quick to follow. Many thought he was struck with leprosy—God's greatest punishment for sinners. From that point on, Henry's health was cursed and he fought doggedly on as his body continued to betray him—reducing this once great warrior to an invalid. Fortunately for England, his heir was ready and eager to take over. But Henry wasn't willing to relinquish what he had worked so hard to preserve. No one was going to take away his royal prerogative—not even Prince Hal. But Henry didn't count on Hal's dauntless nature, which threatened to tear the royal family apart.


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Series Links:

A King Under Siege (Book 1):

The King’s Retribution (Book 2):

The Usurper King (Book 3):

The Accursed King (Book 4):


Mercedes Rochelle

Mercedes Rochelle is an ardent lover of medieval history, and has channeled this interest into fiction writing. Her first four books cover eleventh-century Britain and events surrounding the Norman Conquest of England. The next series is called The Plantagenet Legacy, about the struggles and abdication of Richard II, leading to the troubled reigns of the Lancastrian Kings. She also writes a blog:, to explore the history behind the story. Born in St. Louis, MO, she received a  BA in Literature at the Univ. of Missouri St.Louis in 1979, then moved to New York in 1982 while in her mid-20s to see the world.” The search hasnt ended! Today she lives in Sergeantsville, NJ, with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.

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