Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Book Spotlight and Excerpt: ROSALIND by Jessie Mills


Follow the tour HERE

'A luminous, pin-sharp portrait of a true trailblazer. Mills's writing simply glows.' Zoë Howe, Author, Artist and RLF Writing Fellow at Newnham College, University of Cambridge

Rosalind: DNA’s Invisible Woman tells the true story of the woman who discovered the structure of DNA, whose work was co-opted by three men who won a Nobel prize for the discovery.

Her story is one of hope, perseverance, love and betrayal.

Driven by her faith in science, Rosalind Franklin persisted with her education in the face of formidable obstacles, including the de-reservation of women from war science.

In Norway at the start of World War II, her place at Cambridge's first women's college was thrown into jeopardy.

A decade later, she fled Paris upon the news that the research director at the State Chemicals Lab was having an affair. They continued to write to each other in secret. 

Rosalind knew when embarking on science, a gentleman's profession, that the odds would be stacked against a woman's success. But she did not foresee that her pay would later be cut on account of her age and gender, that she would be burned by the plagiarism rife among her male contemporaries or face her own battle with cancer.

When she took a research post at King’s College London, the head of the physics department switched her subject to DNA at the last minute.

She was tasked with discovering its structure using X-ray crystallography. Could she become the first scientist to map the DNA molecule and would the discovery ultimately be worth it?

When two researchers at Cambridge University, her alma mater, built a three-chain model of DNA weeks after seeing her lecture, she knew that it was wrong.

Scientists at each of the three labs competing in the race to find DNA’s structure had guessed that the molecule had three chains. Her evidence proved them wrong. But would anybody listen?

This is the story of DNA that you won't find in the history books...  

The woman behind science's greatest discovery has been variously referred to as 'an obsessive woman', 'difficult', and 'the dark lady of DNA'. Why was she called these names, and were they justified?

Written by journalist and former Wall Street Journal (PRO) editor Jessica Mills Davies, following nearly three years of intensive archival research, the novel aims to give Rosalind Franklin a voice for the first time in history. Her story is the most well-documented account of 'the Matilda effect' and its corollary 'the Matthew Effect', whereby women's contributions to science and other professions are often ignored or misappropriated.

The Exeter Novel Prize-longlisted novel is peppered with copies of original correspondence between her and her contemporaries, illustrating how three men got away with the biggest heist in scientific history.


Buy Links:

 Universal Link

 .•*´¨) ¸.•*¨) ( ¸.•´



The chance of making a major scientific discovery is minuscule. Nearly half are by accident. Serendipity, or mishap by another name, pulls scientists from the clutches of flat Earths and illusory sirens. Controlled experiments frame those fallacies and rescript the world’s truths. At King’s College London, we were specks of dust in the gargantuan cosmos, investigating the very secrets of life. Progress was not a lightning-bolt moment, it was hours of toil, in a basement that smelled of mothballs. If you had asked me then if I knew we would find the structure of DNA, I would have said, simply, that the data speaks for itself. Its voice is audible for those who listen.

The mysteries of the universe reside in the simplest of shapes. The twisted loop of a figure of eight was visible in my X-ray photographs. Two strands of the genetic code entwined together beneath the glass, intersected at the centre, and flecked with atomic dots. I traced their smooth lines, back and forth, back, eight, back. The meandering curve of the infinity sign hides an eternity of secrets.

 .•*´¨) ¸.•*¨)  ( ¸.•´

Cambridge, 1957

‘How did you get the poliovirus past immigration?’ Francis asks from the hallway.

‘With a bit of ingenuity,’ I say, putting my book down.

‘You will tell me if you put it in the fridge, won’t you Rosy?’ Francis says. ‘So, you’re sure you won’t be joining us at the Eagle tonight?’

‘Not tonight, Francis, Odile and I have catching-up to do,’ I reply.

Odile laughs.

‘Ne t’inquiète pas pour eux,’ she says.

Odile grew up in Norfolk, but her French mother wanted her to be bilingual. She honoured her mother’s wish each time she spoke the language. She has given me the recipe for her mother’s French onion tart, who prescribes stock for that singular umami flavour. For breakfast, we have coffee with croissants and cheese. Odile’s accent is crisp, like glass. It is recognisably Germanic, a hangover from her time translating German to crack enemy code during the war. If anything, it is a Parisian accent, rather than textbook French.

‘I don’t like how they speak about you behind your back,’ she says once Francis has gone.

‘They don’t know you like I do.’

‘Scientists are in the business of asking questions,’ I say, adjusting the red patterned scarf around my head in the mirror over the fireplace.

Although the cancer has gone into remission, I cover my head with a scarf. It’s just until my hair grows back.

Odile pours us coffee from the cafetière.

I came to stay with the Cricks when Don was seconded to Cambridge so that we would have a chance of seeing each other again. From up high in the mountains during our trip to the Alps, the wings of my imagination could finally spread unencumbered.

At that moment, I didn’t need God. I just needed myself. My cancer went into remission the following year. So I travelled to Cambridge, where Don works, to live in the Cricks’ townhouse in Portugal Place. It has been a year since my diagnosis and even though my womb is gone, my mother still cannot accept the idea of me sharing a room with a man.

‘When you’re not married? Come on Rosalind, please!’ she said.

I packed my bags, promising not to stay with my parents for a moment longer than was necessary.

‘Scientists do indeed ask a lot of questions. It’s like that time Francis and Jim asked Dr Perutz if they could see your data,’ Odile says.

‘What?’ I respond.

‘Didn’t they tell you?’ Odile asks.

‘Tell me what?’ I say.

‘Well, I don’t like to interfere,’ Odile says, putting down her coffee cup.

‘Jim tried to describe your photograph to Francis, but you know what he’s like.’

‘What photograph?’

‘You know, the one Maurice showed him. The one that was in the Medical Research Council report,’ Odile says.

‘Those reports are meant to be confidential.’


Jessie Mills

Jessica is a journalist and author. She has written for publications such as The Independent, The Wall Street Journal and Business Insider, where she investigated the use of flammable cladding in hospital intensive care units in 2020.

Before that she was a member of the steering committee for Women at Dow Jones, where she spent several years as an editor and led the team that uncovered the misuse of funds at Abraaj.

Her debut novel tells the true story of Rosalind Franklin, the invisible woman behind the discovery of DNA’s double helix. It was longlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize 2020.

Social Media Links:

 Website   Twitter   Facebook   Instagram   Pinterest   Amazon Author Page    Goodreads

Monday, January 30, 2023

Book Spotlight and Excerpt: The Adventures of Ruby Pi and the Math Girls by Tom Durwood


Follow the tour HERE

A collection of adventure stories featuring young heroines at turning points in history who use math to solve colossal problems. Smart girls take on buried secrets, villains, tanks, mysteries, codes, and economics to save their people “Stories, mystery and math go well together… a welcome addition.”

(~ Jeannine Atkins, author of “Grasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved Math”)


Buy Links:

 Universal Link

.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨) ( ¸.•´


From the eastern sea to the western sea, the area
in between the Himalayas and the Vindhyas,
is what wise men call the land of the Aryans ...
beyond it is the country of the barbarians.
– Manusmriti, Second Century B.C. Book of Law

Now Third Aunt was coughing blood.

The healers, despite all their ministrations, gave up.                                                          

“A better world awaits her,” said Chikistak, one of the healers.

“And soon.”

Third Aunt squeezed Jayani’s hand with her own.

She eventually stopped coughing.

The old woman slept, but fitfully. Her breath was labored. Her bent spine kept her in a curved position. 

“What if I can get her to the clinic in Pataliputra,” asked Jayani. “The Vedic doctors …”

“Yes. They might fix this. But it costs money,” said Chikistak.

“Do you have it?”

“How much is it?” asked Jayani.

He told her.

The girl shook her head. The blood had drained from her face. 

The coughing started up again.

It was getting worse.

“I am strong, sister,” said Ganesh, when the healers had gone. “I can work harder! In the next rotation, I might be a wagon-boy.”  

“You’re eight years old,” Jayani reminded her little brother. 

Later, deep in the night, hidden among the murmurs of the night prayers and rustlings among the camels, the boy could see the silhouette of his sister out on the sands, alone, and he could hear the forlorn sound of her crying.


The power of pure thought has shaped

our world for over two millenia.

-- Jim Al-Kahlili

“You are Jayani,” said the tall traveler the next morning.  “The Oven-Master’s apprentice.”

The Arab cast a shadow as he stood in the courtyard of the kilns compound. He was cloaked in black. A servant knelt behind him.  His speaking voice was rich with influences, syllables and vowels and cadences from other lands. 

“Aye, yaatree,” answered the oasis girl, turning to face the visitor. She might have used the term musafirin, but she was not yet sure about him.

“I am Jayani.”

This fateful exchange took place in the age of the Mughal princes, self-involved Mirza Abu Bakr and the ever-incompetent Rafi-ush-Shan, at an oasis named Ahichhatra, which lay some small distance from the northern highway known as Uttarapatha, in the Valley of the Gangee.

The watering-hole community nestled in the dusty lower hills of the Gongotri was a beehive of activities.     

Jayani stood in front of the second cylindrical oven, holding an oversized kiln paddle, in her gloved hands. 

As slight a figure as the stranger was imposing, the girl Jayani, only fourteen, stood straight and calm, even when the Arab stepped closer.

“I am Salim Abdallah al-Ayyashi.”

He signaled to his servant.

“I come lately from the Christian lands. Bound for Changsha.”

The girl squinted in the morning sunlight.

“Won’t you bake this for me,” said the traveler evenly.

The Arab’s servant unwrapped a large platter and handed it to Jayani.

“It would be a great favor.”

Jayani, hard-working apprentice of the communal ovens, removed the big leather gloves from her hands. She stuck them in the pocket of the blue apron she wore.

It was a Govindan upahaar, a ceramic platter, one of a kind.

Its ivory surface showed the outlines of carvings. Looking closely, you could see circular patterns figures, the delicate   articulation of some vision.     Those hidden painted patterns that would emerge, turning into vibrant colors if the platter was properly glazed, at the correct heat, for the correct length of time.

“This is the work of Nabil Matar,” said Jayani.

The Arab nodded. “A heavenly scene. A gift for Yikuang, the Manchu prince.  

His wife has given birth to a son.”

Jayani handed it back.

“It is a most elegant thing,” said the girl. “Rare. And I will not be the clod who ruins it.”

“Ibn Batuta recommends you,” said the Arab. “He speaks of you as an artist.”

“The Moroccan is too generous with his praise.”

Zrimat, Ovens-Master, hovered nearby, sensing an exchange of coins.

“Of course,” Salim Abdallah al-Ayyashi challenged Jayani.“If you think you are incapable of such a task …” 

Jayani turned to face the bank of ovens nestled into the rock.  She saw the impossible jumble of generations of clever bakers and smelters applying all manners of flame and heat to all manners of substances. Here stood Venetian vertical stoves, four active half-cylinder ovens which dominated the commerce, with wooden pallets hung alongside. And there were deck ovens as well, and behind them, squat, square Vulcans and clay chamber stoves, clusters of dwarf cob (mud, that is) furnaces. Along the sides of the bake-shop lay open char pits lined with coals, half-buried wood-fired roasters, columns of pottery kilns. There were dusty banks of fourneau, or chimneyed bread ovens. Two kang platform stoves towered over the left batteries.  There were kilns for pottery, some abandoned, and blazing furnaces for metal. She saw cauldron-hung fire-pits for stews and open roasters for poultry. Spits for large fish. Earthen kilns for dye and a section of domed beehive ovens, or skep, such as the long-dead butchers and bakers and culinaries used when they prepared the wedding feasts of Qasim Abdallah.

“Come back after lunch,” Jayani told Salim Abdallah al-Ayyashi.

* * *

Every particle, every brushstroke, every atom of the ceramic platter’s latent beauty had come to life. 

“This is … fine work. Very fine. It is beyond my hopes,” breathed Salim Abdallah al-Ayyashi.         

The purples and ruby reds and midnight-blue hues on the plate had emerged in lacquered glory, and the more somber ochres and ambers as well. The Arab traveler swore that Matar himself would blush to see it. One could now see the carving’s influences – Persian, Indian, even European. Winged figures carrying birds which had been invisible before were now prominent, and the symbols would please and mystify those of the Middle Kingdoms for years to come.  One of the shepherds invented a song about the platter, its fine glaze, and the iron-rich clays, and the brave young oven-keep who had brought the pigments to life.

A crowd gathered spontaneously.

He held the piece aloft.

“All the Mughal lands will hear of this!”

The Ovens-Master, Zrimat, inserted himself.  

“It took my assistant three hours’ labor,” the Ovens-Master reminded the Arab. “Plus customized details … ”

Salim Abdallah al-Ayyashi smiled and paid with a flourish that implied it would have been cheap at ten times the price.

Zrimat rolled the coins along his fingers.  He counted them twice. He placed the bag of coins in his jacket pocket. None did he pass on to his apprentice, Jayani. 

Tom Durwood

Tom Durwood is a teacher, writer and editor with an interest in history. Tom most recently taught English Composition and Empire and Literature at Valley Forge Military College, where he won the Teacher of the Year Award five times. Tom has taught Public Speaking and Basic Communications as guest lecturer for the Naval Special Warfare Development Group at the Dam’s Neck Annex of the Naval War College.

Tom’s ebook Empire and Literature matches global works of film and fiction to specific quadrants of empire, finding surprising parallels. Literature, film, art and architecture are viewed against the rise and fall of empire. In a foreword to Empire and Literature, postcolonial scholar Dipesh Chakrabarty of the University of Chicago calls it “imaginative and innovative.” Prof. Chakrabarty writes that “Durwood has given us a thought-provoking introduction to the humanities.” His subsequent book “Kid Lit: An Introduction to Literary Criticism” has been well-reviewed. “My favorite nonfiction book of the year,” writes The Literary Apothecary (Goodreads).

Early reader response to Tom’s historical fiction adventures has been promising. “A true pleasure … the richness of the layers of Tom’s novel is compelling,” writes Fatima Sharrafedine in her foreword to “The Illustrated Boatman’s Daughter.” The Midwest Book Review calls that same adventure “uniformly gripping and educational … pairing action and adventure with social issues.” Adds Prairie Review, “A deeply intriguing, ambitious historical fiction series.”

Tom briefly ran his own children’s book imprint, Calico Books (Contemporary Books, Chicago). Tom’s newspaper column “Shelter” appeared in the North County Times for seven years. Tom earned a Masters in English Literature in San Diego, where he also served as Executive Director of San Diego Habitat for Humanity.

Two of Tom’s books, “Kid Lit” and “The Illustrated Boatman’s Daughter,” were selected “Best of the New” by Julie Sara Porter’s Bookworm  Book Alert

Social Media Links:

 Website   Newsletter   Twitter   Facebook   Linked-in   Pinterest   Amazon Author Page   Goodreads

Friday, January 27, 2023

Forgiving Nero by Mary Ann Bernal - 2022 Chaucer Finalist for Early Historical Fiction


The Chaucer Book Awards recognize emerging new talent and outstanding works in pre-1750s Historical Fiction. The Chaucer Book Awards is a division of the Chanticleer International Book Awards (The CIBAs).

Check out the complete list HERE


Universal Link

Spotlight on author Bronwyn Elsmore


Me (pink top and shades) between rickshaw driver and sister, in Malacca, Malaysia

 Hello, or as we commonly greet people in New Zealand – kia ora, meaning be well or healthy.

My writing career began with my first job when I left school and was employed at Radio New Zealand as a copywriter/production writer. It was splendid training for my writing life to come because the deadline work taught me I couldn’t wait around for inspiration – the day’s work had to be done on time. Since then, I’ve been a freelance writer, contract writer, editor, education writer, academic writer, and playwright. My dozen books cover fiction and non-fiction – children’s books, serious histories, and, more latterly, novels.

My latest book, Rushton Roulette is a light novel about 4 women who resist the thought of sliding into old age and decide to meet the challenge head-on.

It came about in an interesting way.

Years ago, being aware of actresses’ complaints that there were few good opportunities for them, especially after ‘a certain age’, I decided to write a stage play with not one but four roles for aging actors. If you know anything about theatre, you’ll know the chances of getting a play onstage is minimal. I’ve been lucky with several of mine, but this one never got a production.

A year or two ago I decided to rewrite the idea as a novel. So, Rushton Roulette the play, became Rushton Roulette the book.

When you read it, you may wonder how some of the scenes can be shown onstage. Yes, it’s possible. I gave my suggestions in directions but left the final decisions to the director. I never underestimate the imagination and expertise of a good director – they add so much!

Excerpt from chapter 12, Rushton Roulette, by Bronwyn Elsmore

 “Five. Merryn did a quick calculation. So there was a twenty percent chance she’d draw her choice. The probability was not favourable enough for her liking.

“There are four of us. If we put them all in the hat we’ll have one to spare. Good.” Joan was delighted with the way the plan was moving along.

Heather laughed. “It’s a bit like the gun with the six chambers.”

“Russian Roulette,” Joan confirmed.

“In Russian Roulette, if I understand it correctly,” Cecily pointed out, “there are six chambers but only one of them holds a bullet.”

Merryn was still far from convinced about the whole plan, and the mention of the word bullet caused her stomach to knot. She attempted to sound as calm and logical as Cecily was as she responded.

“It means the odds in Russian Roulette are a lot better. There it’s only one chance in six that you get the bullet.”

“But possibly more lethal.”

“I wish I were so sure,” Merryn’s thought returned to her earlier fears of all that could go wrong. She countered Joan’s comment, but her doubt was dismissed immediately with an observation it was hard to argue against.”

“If we do it with five blanks, none of us may have to do anything. Only one of us, at the most, which would rather defeat our purpose. So the five options stay.”

“We could put in a blank one and make it up to six.” Cecily’s suggestion was welcomed by Merryn. It gave her two chances of coming out of this alive, or relatively unscathed. Now the odds had risen to 33 per cent she’d get either abseiling or the blank. Lady Luck better be with her today.

“A sporting chance? Good idea.” Joan was all for it. “Now, how shall we do this?”

 Disclaimer: no guns are used and no animals harmed in Rushton Roulette.

 You can find out more about author Bronwyn Elsmore here:






Book Council

You can purchase Bronwyn Elsmore's novels here:


 Other fiction books by Bronwyn Elsmore

Backwards Into the Future

Everyone knows you can’t go back. Everyone except Mary.  A plum tree has gone. A lemon tree thrives.  A mystery surrounding a boat with painted eyes remains. A novel with the feel of a memoir – I find the combination very appealing.”    

Every Five Minutes

Gina, if that is her real name, sets out for work. Deliberately, she misses the bus and walks into the city, then turns and walks back again. This is not a day for work. Today she will spend with a white dog and a remarkable man. “I hated the story to end. Read it and you'll see. It's a lovely, lovely book.”

Seventeen Seas

Stowaways in lifeboats? Germans claiming deckchairs? When passengers from many places cruise together, there must be fun. Fiction, non-fiction, humor – Seventeen Seas is all of these. For all who have taken a cruise, think they'd like to, or are certain they never would!

These Islands Here — Short Stories of the South Pacific

Literary fiction, stories of life in the South Pacific – pleasure, pain, calamity, comedy, fun, misfortune, loss, triumph. Most have been published previously, several have won short story competitions.

.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨) ( ¸.•´

And here’s the way we say goodbye in New Zealand – haere ra. Or we say ka kite ano, I’ll see you again. I hope we will meet again via one of my books.


Monday, January 23, 2023

Book Spotlight: The Flame Tree by Siobhan Daiko


 Follow the tour HERE
In the spring of 1939, dashing young William Burton and the beautiful Constance Han set sail from London on the same ocean liner to Hong Kong.

Romance blossoms while they enjoy games of deck quoits and spend sultry tropical evenings dancing under the stars. Connie is intrigued by Will’s talent for writing poetry, and she offers to give him Cantonese lessons to help him with his new job— a cadet in the colonial service.

But once in Hong Kong, Connie is constrained by filial duty towards her Eurasian parents, and their wish for her to marry someone from her own background. She can't forget Will however and arranges to meet him in secret under the magnificent canopy of a flame of the forest tree—where she fulfils her promise to teach him to speak Chinese.

Before too long, trouble looms as Japanese forces gather on the border between Hong Kong and mainland China. Will joins a commando group tasked with operating behind enemy lines, and Connie becomes involved in the fight against local fifth columnists.

When war breaks out, they find themselves drawn into a wider conflict than their battle against prejudice. Can they survive and achieve a future together? Or do forces beyond their control keep them forever apart?

Based on a little-known true story, The Flame Tree is a tale of love and survival against all the odds.


“Siobhan Daiko will tug at your heartstrings, and leave you desperate for more…”

~ Ellie Yarde, The Coffee Pot Book Club.

“Daiko is an author you’ll want to add to your historical fiction favourites.”

~ Netgalley Reviewer


 Buy Links:

  Universal Link

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. Siobhan was born of English parents in Hong Kong, attended boarding school in Australia, and then moved to the UK—where she taught modern foreign languages in a Welsh comprehensive school. She now spends her time writing page-turners and enjoying her life near Venice.

Her novels are compelling, poignant, and deeply moving, with strong characters and evocative settings, but always with romance at their heart. You can find more about her books on her website www.siobhandaiko.org

Social Media Links:

Website   Twitter   Facebook Asolando Books   Facebook Biobhan Daiko    Linked-in

Instagram   Pinterest   BookBub   Amazon Author Page   Goodreads

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Audiobook Spotlight: His Castilian Hawk by Anna Belfrage, Narrated by Greg Patmore


Follow the tour HERE

His Castilian Hawk
by Anna Belfrage
Narrated by Greg Patmore

For bastard-born Robert FitzStephan, being given Eleanor d’Outremer in marriage is an honour. For Eleanor, this forced wedding is anything but a fairy tale.

Robert FitzStephan has served Edward Longshanks loyally since the age of twelve. Now he is riding with his king to once and for all bring Wales under English control.

Eleanor d’Outremer—Noor to family—lost her Castilian mother as a child and is left entirely alone when her father and brother are killed. When ordered to wed the unknown Robert FitzStephan, she has no choice but to comply.

Two strangers in a marriage bed is not easy. Things are further complicated by Noor’s blood-ties to the Welsh princes and by covetous Edith who has warmed Robert’s bed for years.

Robert’s new wife may be young and innocent, but he is soon to discover that not only is she spirited and proud, she is also brave. Because when Wales lies gasping and Edward I exacts terrible justice on the last prince and his children, Noor is determined to save at least one member of the House of Aberffraw from the English king.

Will years of ingrained service have Robert standing with his king or will he follow his heart and protect his wife, his beautiful and fierce Castilian hawk?


Buy Links:

 The Kindle ebook of this title is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.

 Universal Link

Audible Amazon   BingeBooks   Nook (Barnes and Noble)   Chirp   Libro   Storytel

Scribd   Kobo & Walmart   GooglePlay   

Anna Belfrage

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.

Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients.

Her Castilian Heart is the third in her “Castilian” series, a stand-alone sequel to her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. In the second instalment, The Castilian Pomegranate, we travel with the protagonists to the complex political world of medieval Spain. This latest release finds our protagonists back in England—not necessarily any safer than the wilds of Spain!

Anna has also authored The Whirlpools of Time in which she returns to the world of time travel. Join Duncan and the somewhat reluctant time-traveller Erin on their adventures through the Scottish Highlands just as the first Jacobite rebellion is about to explode!

All of Anna’s books have been awarded the IndieBRAG Medallion, she has several Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choices, and one of her books won the HNS Indie Award in 2015. She is also the proud recipient of various Reader’s Favorite medals as well as having won various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards.

Find out more about Anna, her books and enjoy her eclectic historical blog on her website, www.annabelfrage.com 

Social Media Links:

 Website   Twitter   Facebook   Instagram   BookBub   Amazon Author Page   Goodreads


Book spotlight and excerpt: Pilot Who Knows the Waters by N.L. Holmes

 Follow the tour HERE

Hani must secretly obtain a Hittite bridegroom for Queen Meryet-amen, but Ay and the faction behind Prince Tut-ankh-aten are opposed--to the point of violence. Does the death of an artisan have anything to do with Ay’s determination to see his grandson on the throne? Then, another death brings Egypt to the brink of war… Hani’s diplomatic skills will be pushed to the limit in this final book in The Lord Hani Mysteries.


Buy Links:

 Universal Link

 .•*´¨) ¸.•*¨) ( ¸.•´


After a cautious look around from the doorway, Hani took his leave and made his way inconspicuously to his tent, his thoughts whirring like the wings of a flock of starlings taking off.

Strangely, the most horrific image that haunted him from the day of the accident was that of the dead lion bristling with vengeful spears, his majestic head looking not murderous but reproachful, his massive paws helpless. The pelt had been too massacred to bother saving for a trophy, although Menna had reclaimed the arrow in the lion’s breast as a grisly souvenir.

Hani found it hard to breathe at the tragic waste of lives in a matter of moments. But perhaps the death of the prince had been a good thing after all, better than the success of Hani’s mission would have been. Thank you, mighty one, he addressed the beast silently. Because you wanted to live, you may have saved the Two Lands from a terrible fate.

Hani sat down on his camp bed, his forearms on his thighs, and pondered events. Despite every appearance of an accident, it was altogether possible that Lord Ay had found a way to stop the queen’s marriage in the most absolute manner. In fact, that would explain why Hani’s caravan had suffered no attacks en route to Hattushatheir opponents had preferred to wait until the stakes were higher. Yet that meant that someone in Hani’s party had colluded with Ay, kept him informed of the negotiations, and seen to it that an opportunity had arisen when the assassination of the bridegroom might have the look of a mischance. Perhaps they’d even suggested the hunt. It occurred to Hani that the prince had to have been shot well before the lionhe was lying on his back by that time and presented no target. If he was pierced, let’s say, in the instant the lion took him to the ground, we wouldn’t even have noticed in the terror of the moment, with everyone yelling and watching the animal. It clearly didn’t kill him right away because he was still struggling. But then Hani realized the youth’s movements might have been merely convulsive. Hani rose to his feet and, his hands behind his back, began to pace reflectively from one side of the tent to the other.

Was there, in fact, a plot to kill Prince Zannanza before he ever reached Kemet? Did someone spy on members of the Hittite delegation or milk them of information that resulted in this tragedy? Hani found it hard to imagine that anyone among his men—handpicked for loyalty to the queen’s project—was such a hardened enemy of the marriage between Hatti and the Two Lands. He tried to think back to the days they had spent in the capital. Whose behavior was suspect? Someone in my staff or among the soldiers had to have been seen in conversation with a son of Kheta Land. We were always together. No illicit contact could have gone unnoticed.

In spite of himself, Hani remembered Maya’s suspicionsMery-ra had been engaged in some sort of mysterious visits to a private house in the company of a Hittite royal scribe and had taken pains to keep Maya away. That was unlike him. For him, the more family around, the better. Mery-ra had been seen with the scribe in the street, still, it seemed, hoping not to be witnessed. Then he had left early. Hani visualized the bland, jowly face of Hattusha-ziti’s secretary. That inoffensive-looking man, a villain? A spymaster? He pushed the idea out of his mind. What interest could Father have had in seeing this mission fail? Unless he, like Hani, had begun to realize the danger the alliance with Kheta posed for the Two Lands and had decided to take things into his own hands. No, that’s ridiculous. Father is far too straightforward and honest. He would surely have intimated such scruples to me.

But then… A lump rose in Hani’s throat. Father was apparently a spy in Kheta all those years ago. Is it possible he’s actually renewed his old contacts and let himself be drawn into somebody’s grudge? Is he working for Ay?

The thought left him chilled. Hani would have to confront Mery-ra with it when he next saw his father—assuming, of course, he, Hani, made it home alive.

The likelier possibility—the one he seized upon—was that one of the soldiers who had been billeted in the Upper City with the horses and pack animals had been working against the marriage on the sly. Hani would have to talk to Menna and Pa-ra-mes-su. If the escort had been investigated, as Hani had been told, surely all the men had dossiers. One of the officers would know.

But why does it even matter? he asked himself hopelessly. The damage is done. Shuppiluliuma won’t listen to stories of defectors in our ranks. He’ll take the whole horrible accident as malice on the part of Queen Meryet-aten. Some scheme to make a fool of him and his kingdom. An act of war.


 N.L. Holmes

N.L. Holmes is the pen name of a professional archaeologist who received her doctorate from Bryn Mawr College. She has excavated in Greece and in Israel, and taught ancient history and humanities at the university level for many years. She has always had a passion for books, and in childhood, she and her cousin (also a writer today) used to write stories for fun. Today, she and her husband live in France with their chickens and cats, where she weaves, plays the violin, gardens, and dances.

 Social Media Links:

 Website   Twitter    Facebook   Linked-in   Instagram   Pinterest    Instagram   Amazon Author Page   Goodreads