Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Book spotlight: The Mallory Saga Series by Paul Bennett


Follow the Mallory family as they attempt to live a peaceful life on the PA frontier in 1756. They face tragedy and loss as they become embroiled in The French and Indian War - Clash of Empires. In Paths to Freedom, the colonies are heading to open revolt against King George III, and the Mallory's are once again facing the spectre of war. Crucible of Rebellion continues the Mallory story through the early years of The Revolutionary War. Book 4, A Nation is Born completes the Revolution and The Mallory's have played their part in the victory. In book 5, A Turbulent Beginning, the nascent nation finds it hard going to establish a peaceful existence. The Natives of this land resist the westward expansion of white settlers.

Trigger Warnings:

Violence and battle scenes, mild sexual content, and profanity.


Book 2 - Paths to Freedom

The French and Indian War is over, but the aftermath widens the gulf between the colonies and King George III. A hard handed approach by the King and Parliament fuels the flames of resistance; flames that soon engulf the Mallory clan, consuming the frontier, shattering their hopes for Mallory Town, and changing their lives forever. Revolution is nigh.

Buy Links:

 This series is available to read for free with a #KindleUnlimited subscription.

 Series in order:

Universal Links

Clash of Empires

Paths to Freedom

Crucible of Rebellion

A Nation is Born

 A Turbulent Beginning

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  Clash of Empires Universal Link

Paul Bennett


Paul was born in Detroit when the Big Three ruled the automobile industry, and The Korean Conflict was in full swing. A lifelong interest in history and a love of reading eventually led him to Wayne State University where he majored in Ancient History, with a minor in Physical Anthropology. However, to make ends meet, those studies were left to the realm of dreams, and Paul found himself accidentally embarking on a 50-year career in computers. A career that he has recently retired from in order to spend more time with those dreams….seven grandchildren will help fill the time as well.

He now resides in the quaint New England town of Salem, Massachusetts with his wife Daryl, just a few minutes' walk from the North River, and the site where the Revolution almost began.

The Mallory Saga is the culmination of Paul’s love of history, and his creative drive to write stories. With Nightwish and Bruce Cockburn coming through his headphones, and many cups of excellent coffee, Paul hopes to carry the Saga into the late 19th century, bringing American History to life through the eyes and actions of the Mallory family.

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Friday, July 22, 2022

Book Spotlight and Excerpt: Cragside: A 1930s murder mystery by M J Porter

Lady Merryweather has had a shocking year. Apprehended for the murder of her husband the year before, and only recently released, she hopes a trip away from London will allow her to grieve. The isolated, but much loved, Cragside Estate in North Northumberland, home of her friends, Lord and Lady Bradbury, holds special memories for her.

But, no sooner has she arrived than the body of one of the guests is found on the estate, and suspicion immediately turns on her. Perhaps, there are no friendships to be found here, after all.

Released, due to a lack of evidence, Lady Ella returns to Cragside only to discover a second murder has taken place in her absence, and one she cant possibly have committed.

Quickly realising that these new murders must be related to that of her beloved husband, Lady Merryweather sets out to solve the crime, once and for all. But there are many who dont want her to succeed, and as the number of murder victims increases, the possibility that she might well be the next victim, cant be ignored.

Journey to the 1930s Cragside Estate, to a period house-party where no one is truly safe, and the estate is just as deadly as the people.

Trigger Warnings:

Description of murder scenes and bodies

 Buy Links:

 Amazon Universal Link   Barnes and Noble   Waterstones   Kobo   Apple Books


 ¸.•*´¨) ¸.*¨) ( ¸.•´


The reader's first introduction to Detective Aldcroft

“Ah, Lady Merryweather.” The voice of Detective Inspector Aldcroft is uncertain, far from the confident man I was forced to speak to yesterday. He’s not at all the confident man who ordered my apprehension for a crime I hadn’t committed.

“Detective Inspector,” my words are like ice. I see him shiver at them as he comes to an abrupt stop in front of me, as I do the same. I raise my chin, refusing to be cowed by the state he finds me in, with my blond hair dishevelled by the rain and by not seeing a brush for over twenty-four hours. I’ve slept in my travel clothes. I know I smell of the damp police station, but my eyes are ice blue and clear. My fury ensures I’m thinking clearly. 

The detective looks little better than I imagine I do. His overcoat is dark with rain, and beneath his feet, a trail of water pools that one of the housemaids will need to clear up before someone slips.

Silence falls between us, the sound of the kitchen drifting to us. Perhaps the sobbing housemaid has returned inside to make tea. Or maybe Mrs Underhill has taken refuge in what she knows best; providing for the household living at Cragside.

Evidently, Aldcroft has been outside. Aldcroft knows what’s happened in the rain. He knows the identity of the victim who’s been injured on the rockery.

“Well. Um. So I see you’ve been released.” He licks his lips before he speaks. I try not to note how snake-like the action is.

“Of course I have. It seems that even the Northumberland County Constabulary actually require proof of a person’s guilt before holding them indefinitely on suspicion of murder.”

“Ah, yes, well, um, apologies, Lady Merryweather. My humble apologies.”

Aldcroft runs his wide-brimmed hat through thin fingers, his eyes trying to look anywhere but at me. He’s a man of moderate height, a few inches taller than me now that I’ve discarded my shoes. His lips are covered with a fine brown moustache, although no beard. His police-issue overcoat is black, his boots filthy, the hems of his trousers spotted with what I hope is mud. And I feel just a single moment of pity for him, quickly banished. This man doesn’t deserve any kind thoughts.

“Good day,” I turn to continue my path to the library, thoughts of hot tea and something to eat driving me onwards to hunt down one of the housemaids who aren’t assisting the butler and whoever else is on the rockery. I know I’ll pass the stairs to the Turkish bath on the way, but right now, I’m cold and hungry. Bathing can wait.

Only Detective Inspector Aldcroft speaks. Somehow, I sensed he would. I consider whether he has, in fact, been seeking me out, having heard the growl of the motorcar engine pulling up on the gravel drive.

“Well, actually. If I could. If you wouldn’t.” And Aldcroft pauses again. “You’re cold. Let’s talk before the fire. There’s tea and biscuits,” and he indicates with his hand that I should lead into the library. I open my mouth to speak, to proclaim my innocence, but I bite down on those words. I won’t beg. I never have before, even when facing the noose.

I wish I’d kept my shoes on then. My passage makes no sound on the wooden floor, robbing me of the chance to make my displeasure felt in such an obvious way. Instead, I have to rely on rigid shoulders and tight steps. It won’t do. Not at all.

I bend and place my shoes before the vast fireplace in the library, noting as I do that there’s a fine spread laid out on the dark wooden table but that none of the other houseguests is partaking of the delicate sandwiches or gently steaming teapot. The library, which only a day ago had housed twelve people, is now silent and empty, even if every single electric lamp is turned on, including the converted cloisonnĂ© vases. The glass pendant shade over the table adds a warm glow to the cold food.

The fire is well-stocked with burning coals and logs, no doubt from the many trees on the estate. The smell is fragrant with pine and the promise of the coming Christmas.

I pull out one of the wooden backed chairs surrounding the table and hang Williams sopping overcoat over its back, stifling a shiver. My eye catches the hem of my sopping skirt. Aldcroft hesitates in the doorway, his eyes peering back towards the open front door. I believe he might attempt to escape at any moment, although he’s asked for this conference.

“Well, come in, or go out, but don’t hover,” my tone is reassuringly acerbic. I’m pleased to be feeling so much myself, despite the tribulations of the last twenty-four hours.

“Yes, well,” and Aldcroft casts a fleeting look along the inner hallway one more time, as though the answer lies out there.

I begin to pour myself tea into the delicate china cups, thinking of Williams. I can’t leave him without sustenance, but I need to see what the Detective Inspector wants first. Equally, I wish for a huge mug so that I can grip it between my two white-rimmed hands.

Carefully, I place two lumps of white sugar into the dark brown mass and then liberally apply the milk.

Only then do I remember my manners.

“Would you like one?” But Aldcroft shakes his head miserably, his lips fixed in something similar to a grimace.

I stand and take a sip, wincing at the tartness of the too-long brewed tea, but welcome the warmth and the sweetness. It soothes me like nothing else. At least it’s better than the mixture they’d given me in the police station, which had not been worthy of the name tea. I don’t even think it deserved the name mud. It had been something indescribable, but I’d needed the warmth.

MJ Porter is the author of many historical novels set predominantly in Seventh to Eleventh-Century England, as well as three twentieth-century mysteries. Raised in the shadow of a building that was believed to house the bones of long-dead Kings of Mercia, meant that the author's writing destiny was set.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Book Spotlight and Excerpt: The King’s Inquisitor by Tonya Ulynn Brown


The queen of Scotland is dead. Her almoner’s son, William Broune, has fulfilled his father’s wish that he should serve the king, James VI, at court. William finds himself caught between loyalty to the king or loyalty to his conscience. As William is forced to serve as the king’s inquisitor in the North Berwick witch trials, he must make a decision. Will he do what the king asks, and earn the wife, title, and prestige he has always desired, or will he let a bold Scottish lass influence him to follow his heart and do the right thing?

If William doesn’t make the right choice, he may be among the accused.

Trigger warnings: Some violent imagery.

 Buy Links

 This book is available to read on #KindleUnlimited

 Universal Link

 ¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨) ( ¸.•´


“Mother,” I started slowly. She looked up at me from her plate, a smear of lemon glaze stuck to the corner of her mouth. “Do ye recall how I told ye of a plot to put the king in danger and remove him from the throne?

Mother, to her credit, shot her eyes to William, then back at me. I was thankful that she was in her senses and knew enough to be leery of mentioning such things in front of people we barely knew. Especially when it pertained to the help we were trying to give the accused witches. A slight nod of her head told me that she knew exactly to what I referred. 

“I had to share the information with someone we could trust. I told Sir William of what information I had in hopes that he could prevent the plot from coming to fruition.”

Mother swallowed the bite of wafer that she had been chewing. “But Ailsa dear, I thought ye said that Master Broune was not to be trusted?” 

William coughed, almost spitting his tea down his beautiful velvet doublet.

“I don’t know that I said those exact words—” 

“Nay, not those exact words. But ye said he wanted something, and we must be very careful what we say or do around him.” She sat, wide-eyed, clueless as to the fact that she had just embarrassed me and shared something that I had spoken in private. 

“Mother,” I began, but William cut me off. 

“Mistress Blackburn, Ailsa is right. I do want something. I want to be your friend. You can trust me. I will not betray any confidence that has been shared.” He looked as if he would have said more, but he was suddenly taken with a sneeze that practically rattled our cups.     

Mother was unphased. She fluttered her eyelashes again and said in a sickeningly sweet voice. “That is kind of ye, but ye might not say as much when ye find out how Ailsa came about the information.”      

“Mother!” I was horrified. What was she doing? William wiped his nose with a scrap of cloth he had tucked into his pocket and looked at me, the shock on his face reflecting my own. Mother said no more as she stuffed another wafer into her mouth and took a gulp of tea.

“I have already shared it with him, Mother.” 

“Aye, that is why I am—” Another sneeze overtook him, cutting his words short.

“Oh dear, ye aren’t catching a cold, are ye, son?”

“Mother, don’t call him son.” I was mortified. This visit was quickly turning into a disaster, as so many of my encounters with this man seemed to do. “He is the king’s man. Ye must address him with respect.” 

“It’s all right,” he began before a third sneeze shook his body. His eyes were beginning to water, the rims reddening in irritation. Just then, Sadie mewed at him from below as she wrapped her tail around his calf and rubbed her head against the soft leather of his boot. “Ah, there is the culprit.” He leaned away from Sadie as if she had the plague and tucked his legs beneath his chair.

“What do ye mean, sir? She is the sweetest feline ye will ever lay eyes on.” I picked Sadie up and rubbed my cheek against her head.     

“I mean I have a reaction to such animals. Their fur causes my eyes to itch, my nose to run, and a series of sneezes to ensue.”

“Oh.” I gulped, understanding taking hold. I quickly took the feline to the door and shewed her outside to get some fresh air. “I am sorry. I did not know.”

“How could you know?” Achoo. Another sneeze bellowed forth. 

“My, ye do shake the crockery,” Mother observed. I giggled.

“My apologies,” he said sniffling as he wiped his nose again. Inwardly I beamed; for once this man was not in full possession of his composure. Finally!

“Sometimes my eyes itch. In the spring when the flowers are at their first bloom. This always helps me.” I handed him a cloth that I had wetted and rung out. I had folded it into a rectangle and motioned to his face. “Lay it over your eyes.”

“Here now, Ailsa,” Mother crooned. “Let him lay upon the bed for a moment. It’s hard to keep the cloth over your eyes when ye are sitting upright.” She grasped him under his upper arm and pulled him from his chair. I marveled that this small woman could lead such a large man, like an ox with a ring through his nose.     

“I don’t think that is necessary,” William began.

“Ye will do well to just obey, sir,” I advised, struggling to hold down my amusement.

“You’re laughing at me,” William accused, pulling the cloth from his eyes, and sitting back up on the side of the bed to glare at me. A red, glassy glare.

“Ignore her,” my mother commanded, pushing him back down.     

“Mistress Blackburn, my boots, they are dirty. I don’t want to soil your bed linens.”

“Oh pish,” Mother waved away his concern with her hand. “Here, we can solve that.” And with a huff, she pulled his boot from his right foot.

“Mother!” All decorum was completely gone.


“Shh,” Mother hushed, but I could clearly see that William was uncomfortable. 

 “Mother, Sir William is very particular about his clothing. I don’t think he wants his boots removed. Just leave him be for a moment. The wet cloth will help, and he’ll be good as new.”

Mother huffed in disagreement but said nothing more. I watched as William’s chest slowed to a steady pace, his breaths calming and relaxation taking over. He was silent for several minutes, and I was afforded the opportunity to admire him unashamedly, without being seen. A dimpled chin and strong jawline, covered with the first appearances of dark whiskers could still be seen from beneath the cloth, and thin, smooth lips parted slightly as he pulled breath into his lungs. 

Heat crept up my neck as the awkwardness of the situation began to take hold. I could have probably observed him for another hour or so and wished for an instant that I had taken up drawing lessons along with Bess’s mother. He would have made a fine study in the human form, but instead I finally said, “At least ye aren’t sneezing anymore.”     

“Aye, I do believe the warm cloth has helped.” He sat up and removed it from his eyes. The rims had returned to a faint pink, and his cobalt blue eyes fastened onto me. 

“My apologies for my mother’s overbearing nature,” I whispered, trying my best to tamp down another smile. “Sometimes she won’t take no for an answer.”

“She means well.” He handed the cloth back to me and picked up his boot, shoving his foot into it. Something in my chest warmed to his gentleness concerning my mother. Most men of his position would have been put off by her antics. Indeed, I wasn’t sure what had gotten into her. But I was thankful for his understanding, even if I didn’t understand her myself. 

  Tonya Ulynn Brown

Tonya Ulynn Brown is an elementary school teacher. She holds a Master’s degree in Teaching and uses her love of history and reading to encourage the same love in her students. Tonya finds inspiration in the historical figures she has studied and in the places she has traveled. Her interest in medieval and early modern British history influences her writing. She resides in rural southeastern Ohio, USA with her husband, Stephen, two boys, Garren and Gabriel, and a very naughty Springer Spaniel. 

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Saturday, July 16, 2022

Book Spotlight: ‘A Ha’penny Will Do’ by Alison Huntingford


‘A Ha’penny Will Do’

Alison Huntingford


Love, dreams and destitution

Three members of one family are linked by their struggle to survive poverty and war at the turn of the century. 

Kate, a homesick, lonely Irish immigrant, dreams of being a writer.  After difficult times in Liverpool she comes to London looking for a better life.  Hoping to escape from a life of domestic service into marriage and motherhood, she meets charming rogue William Duffield.  Despite her worries about his uncertain temperament, she becomes involved with him. Will it be an escape or a prison?

Fred is a restless elder son, devoted to his mother yet locked in a tempestuous relationship with his father.  War intervenes and he secretly signs up to serve abroad.  Is his bad reputation deserved?  What will become of him?

Joe, too young to sign up for WWI, is left to endure the hardships of war on the home front and deal with his own guilt at not being able to serve.  He starts an innocent friendship with his sister-in-law which sustains him through hard times.  Will he survive the bombs, the riots, the rationing and find true love in the end?

 These are their intertwined and interlocking stories recreated through the medium of diaries, letters and personal recollections, based on the author’s family history covering the period of 1879 – 1920. The truth is never plain and rarely simple.

This novel is a fresh and compelling look at life for the working-class poor in England at the end of the Victorian era.  Covering issues such as the struggle for home rule in Ireland, the hardships of domestic service, marital strife, the suffragettes and the horrors of World War 1 on the home front and abroad, this is a realistic and gripping tale which keeps the reader involved in their human plight all the way.


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Nominated for the Walter Scott prize for Historical Fiction  2019

Took part in ‘A Miscellany of Authors’ at Blandford Forum Literary Festival  2019

Western Morning News describes ‘The Glass Bulldog’ as ‘a gripping tale of dark pasts and second chances’   2019

5 star reviews for ‘The Glass Bulldog’ on Amazon, Goodreads and Facebook

Radio Interviews with Chat & Spin, BBC Radio Devon and The Voice FM (N.Devon)

Published a short novella ‘Someone Else’ available on Amazon  2020

Founded the South Hams Authors Network first meeting Sept 2021

Second full-length novel ‘A Ha’penny Will Do’ published January 2022

Author Takeover Day on the Historical Fiction Club Facebook Group Feb 2022

Book Launch and signing, Ivybridge Bookshop, February 2022

Readings at Ivybridge, Kingsbridge and Totnes libraries 2022

5 star reviews for ‘A Ha’penny Will Do’ on Amazon, Goodreads and Facebook

¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨) ( ¸.•´

Alison Huntingford

Contact details

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Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Audiobook Spotlight: The Girl from Oto (The Miramonde Series, Book 1) by Amy Maroney, narrated by Meg Price


The Girl from Oto

(The Miramonde Series, Book 1)

By Amy Maroney

Narrated by Meg Price


A Renaissance-era woman artist and an American scholar. Linked by a 500-year-old mystery…

The secrets of the past are irresistible—and treacherous.

1500: Born during a time wracked by war and plague, Renaissance-era artist Mira grows up in a Pyrenees convent believing she is an orphan. When tragedy strikes, Mira learns the devastating truth about her own origins. But does she have the strength to face those who would destroy her?

2015: Centuries later, art scholar Zari unearths traces of a mysterious young woman named Mira in two 16th-century portraits. Obsessed, Zari tracks Mira through the great cities of Europe to the pilgrims route of Camino de Santiago—and is stunned by what she finds. Will her discovery be enough to bring Miras story to life?

A powerful story and an intriguing mystery, The Girl from Oto is an unforgettable novel of obsession, passion, and human resilience.


Buy Links:


This book is available on #KindleUnlimited.


Audiobook The Girl From Oto

Series links:

The Girl from Oto

Mira's Way

APlace In The World


Amy Maroney 


Amy Maroney lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family, and spent many years as a writer and editor of nonfiction before turning her hand to historical fiction. When she's not diving down research rabbit holes, she enjoys hiking, dancing, traveling, and reading. Amy is the author of the Miramonde Series, a trilogy about a Renaissance-era female artist and the modern-day scholar on her trail. Amy's new series, Sea and Stone Chronicles, features ordinary people seeking their fortunes under the rule of the medieval Knights Hospitaller in Rhodes, Greece. To receive a free prequel novella to the Miramonde Series, join Amy Maroney’s readers' group at www.amymaroney.com.


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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Book Spotlight and Excerpt: The Girl from Bologna (Girls from the Italian Resistance) by Siobhan Daiko



Bologna, Italy, 1944, and the streets are crawling with German soldiers. Nineteen-year-old Leila Venturi is shocked into joining the Resistance after her beloved best friend Rebecca, the daughter of a prominent Jewish businessman, is ruthlessly deported to a concentration camp.

In February 1981, exchange student Rhiannon Hughes arrives in Bologna to study at the university. There, she rents a room from Leila, who is now middle-aged and infirm. Leila’s nephew, Gianluca, offers to show Rhiannon around but Leila warns her off him.

Soon Rhiannon finds herself being drawn into a web of intrigue. What is Gianluca’s interest in a far-right group? And how is the nefarious head of this group connected to Leila? As dark secrets emerge from the past, Rhiannon is faced with a terrible choice. Will she take her courage into both hands and risk everything?

An evocative, compelling read, “The Girl from Bologna” is a story of love lost, daring exploits, and heart-wrenching redemption.

Trigger Warnings:

War crimes against women

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 Available on #KindleUnlimited

 Universal Link

¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨) ( ¸.•´


I went to visit Rebecca the afternoon after my parents left. I remember climbing the stairs to the piano nobile and following her into the Matatias’ living room. It was such a beautiful place. Intricate glass and ironwork chandeliers hung from the centre of the coffered ceiling. Thick carpets the colour of whipped cream stretched over darkly lustrous parquet. I loved the nineteenth-century paintings—landscapes and portraits—covering the walls, and the fact that there were books, most of them rebound, in rows behind the glass doors of huge, dark mahogany bookcases. Despite it being spring already, mammoth radiators released heat on a scale which at home PapĂ  would have declared plain crazy—a heat redolent of a luxury hotel rather than a private dwelling, and of such intensity that, almost immediately, breaking out in a sweat, I’d had to take off my cardigan.

Giulia served us with tea on a silver tray, and we sat on leather chairs, eating homemade cupcakes while we chatted about the essay which we were due to hand in the following week. ‘Let’s go up to my room and listen to records,’ Rebecca suggested after we’d eaten our fill.

A radiogram held pride of place by her bedroom door—a Philips as chance would have it, like the cassette recorder I’m using now. Rebecca had eclectic tastes and her collection consisted of a bit of everything: Monteverdi, Scarlatti, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven. But it was her jazz records which thrilled me most. Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Benny Goodman. I didn’t have any records of my own in those days, and relished listening to hers.

We tapped our feet to Ellington’s It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing). I didn’t speak any English—I still don’t—but not even the happy-go-lucky sentiment conveyed by the music could dispel the disquiet preying on my mind, a sense of impending doom. Ever since the Germans had occupied Bologna, they’d been rounding up Jews. I’d mentioned my fear for her family to Rebecca before, but she’d assured me that her father had covered all traces of their origins.

I fixed her with a concerned look as the song came to an end. ‘Did you hear that the Germans have been arresting Jews?’ I reached across the space between us and held Rebecca’s hand in mine. ‘Shouldn’t you and your parents go into hiding?’

She scoffed and squeezed my fingers. ‘We’re Bolognese. We haven’t done anything wrong. Father’s factory is manufacturing car parts. It’s important work and, much as he hates it, the Nazis buy them from him and send them to Germany. We’ll be fine, Leila. No need to be concerned.’

I took Rebecca at her word. What else could I do? We decided she should come to my place the next day, Sunday, so we could go for an afternoon hike along the porticoes leading to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca on a hill overlooking the city. It was our favourite passeggiata and we loved to walk under the winding vault arcades, over six hundred of them, almost four kilometres leading from the Saragozza gate at the edge of the old part of the city.

Rebecca saw me to the door and kissed me on both cheeks. ‘See you tomorrow.’ She paused and added with a blush. ‘I hope to see Dani too.’

‘You might well do so,’ I laughed. ‘I’ll ask him to come along with us.’

The next day, after lunch, I waited for her. The second hand on my watch ticked on into minutes, and the minutes ticked into an hour. I knew something was terribly wrong. Daniele offered to go and see what had happened. I insisted on going with him, a sick feeling in my stomach.

‘All will be well, don’t worry.’ My brother’s words were optimistic but I could see he was concerned. He ran a shaky hand through his thick, dark brown, wavy hair.

It only took us five minutes to get there, we ran so fast. We rang the bell and Giulia answered straight away. ‘They’ve been taken,’ she said, tears rolling down her face. ‘The SS came at dawn. Oh Dio,’ she sobbed, twisting her hands in her apron. ‘And now the Germans will move in here. I’ve been given a choice. To serve them or leave.’ She lifted her chin. ‘I will stay and look after things for my signori until the Allies get here and liberate us from those Nazi swine.’

Cavolo, I’m crying. I will have to stop recording now. Sorry, but I can’t go on…

I press the off switch and put down the microphone. Romeo, my big ginger cat, jumps up onto my lap. I stroke him and the action soothes me. My heartrate slows, my sobbing ceases and my breathing steadies. Romeo meows hungrily. ‘You’re a fickle lover,’ I tell him with a sad smile. ‘You only give me affection when you want to be fed.’

I go through to the kitchen and top up his bowl with kibble. On the table is Rhiannon’s application form. I glance at the girl’s photo. She’s a redhead sporting a hairstyle like Lady Di’s. Wide blue eyes. Very Celtic looking. Rhiannon wrote me a letter introducing herself, which I received last week. I’m looking forward to meeting her and, holding onto that realisation, I go to get ready for bed.

Siobhan Daiko

Siobhan Daiko is a British historical fiction author. A lover of all things Italian, she lives in the Veneto region of northern Italy with her husband, a Havanese dog and a rescued cat. After a life of romance and adventure in Hong Kong, Australia and the UK, Siobhan now spends her time indulging her love of writing and enjoying her life near Venice.

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Friday, July 1, 2022

Book Spotlight and Excerpt: More Precious Than Gold (The Hearts of Gold Trilogy, Book 2) by Renee Yancy


A young woman refuses to become a pawn in her grandmother’s revenge scheme and forgoes a life of wealth and royalty to pursue a nursing career as America enters WWI and the Pandemic Flu of 1918 wreaks havoc in New York City.

Buy Links:

 Universal Link

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The face should be trained never to show a trace of anxiety or alarm, no matter how grave the occasion; no surprise should be expressed even by so much as the lifting of an eyebrow. —Nursing Ethics, Isabel Hampton Robb, 1917

Now classes on antiseptics, bacteriology, and instruction on bandaging and dressings alternated with twelve-hour shifts on the various wards, beginning with the medical floor. The first two weeks had gone well. Kitty had adapted to the new schedule and found she enjoyed taking care of the older patients.

On the first day of the third week, they had been on duty a quarter of an hour when cries of distress emanated from a low iron bed in a corner of the ward. Elderly Mr. Johnson sat up and scrabbled through his mussed bedclothes.

Oh dear, oh dear, Ive lost it.” He raked his hands through his hair, setting his white curls on end. It must have fallen under the bed. Oh, dear, oh, dear!”

Can I help you, Mr. Johnson?” Kitty laid a gentle hand on his scrawny shoulder, feeling the thinness of his frame under the cotton pajamas. What have you lost, sir? Perhaps I can assist you.”

Oh, oh, oh.” He wrung his hands. It must be under the bed. I have to find it.”

Kitty untied her pinafore, unpinned her nurses cap, and set them on the patients bedside stand. Then she got down on her hands and knees. It had taken nearly an hour to starch and iron her uniform and white pinafore before reporting for duty this evening, and already the shift had taken its toll on her uniform. She sighed and poked her head under the bed. What am I looking for, Mr. Johnson?”

The bedsprings above her head creaked with the patients frantic movements and a bare foot with horny toenails dropped down next to her.

Stay in bed, sir. Ill find it. But what am I looking for?” The foot disappeared but there was still no answer, only Mr. Johnsons repeated exclamations of distress.

Kitty sighed and flattened her body to slide her upper torso into the dim recesses under the bed. Aside from a few dust balls, nothing else emerged from the darkness. Someone on the day shift hadnt done a thorough job of dusting. Gingerly, she felt around with both her hands. I dont see anything under here, Mr. Johnson.” She sneezed violently twice.

I know its under there.” His voice quavered. It must have rolled into the corner.”

Kitty groaned. There was no help for it. She reached her hand to the bed leg and pulled herself the rest of the way under the bed, holding her breath. She patted her hand around the floor again and came up empty. It would help if I knew what I was looking for, Mr. Johnson.”

She tried to keep the irritation out of her voice as her hand touched something round and hard and cold. She picked it up, turned it over, then recoiled and let out a muffled shriek. The back of her head hit the mattress boards so hard she saw stars. A glass eye glared back at her in the gloom, the blue iris surrounded completely by bright white. She nearly dropped it again but managed to wriggle herself out backward from underneath the bed. She pushed herself to her feet and brushed dust and cobwebs off her uniform.

Well, dizzy me,” she said. She gave several vociferous sneezes. Is this what you were looking for?”

Mr. Johnson snatched the artificial eye from her palm. Thats it!” He rubbed the eye on his nightclothes, gave it a lick, and popped it in. Thank you, nurse.”

Renee Yancy

 Renee Yancy is a history and archaeology nut who works as an RN when she isnt writing historical fiction or traveling the world to see the exotic places her characters have lived.

A voracious reader as a young girl, she now writes the kind of books she loves to read—stories filled with historical and archaeological detail interwoven with strong characters facing big conflicts. Her goal is to take you on a journey into the past so fascinating that you cant put the story down.

When she isnt writing, Renee can be found in the wilds of Kentucky with her husband and a rescue mutt named Ellie. She loves flea markets and collecting pottery and glass and most anything mid-century modern.

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