My Reading Pal
• May 25, 2002 - Oct 22, 2010 •
Forever in my heart
Please join author Donna Thorland on her blog tour with HF Virtual Book Tours for Mistress Firebrand, from April 6-May 8.
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Series: Renegades of the American Revolution (Book 3)
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
Excerpt from Mistress Firebrand
John Burgoyne was in New York.
Jenny overheard the wine merchant telling the tavern keeper in hushed tones. She knew better than to look up when she felt their eyes on her. Two years in a city buffeted by mob violence and political intrigue had honed her instinct for self-preservation. She kept her head down and studied her mother’s letter from home.
Seated beside one of the tall windows in the elegant taproom at the Fraunces Tavern, with its lofty ceilings and fine painted paneling, she nursed her single cup of chocolate and tried to concentrate on the words on the page, but her mind kept returning to Burgoyne. For the wine seller and the publican, Burgoyne’s presence meant a business opportunity, and one that must be kept secret from the Liberty Boys, who had abducted a loyalist judge, an Anglican clergyman, and a British physician from their homes only the week before. Politics, the two merchants agreed, were terrible for trade.
They were also murder on the Muses. Isaac Sears and his rabble had stormed the theater, broken all the benches in the pit, and would have beaten the players as well if the company had been performing. Congress had closed all the other theaters in the colonies. Only New York’s John Street remained open, performing without a license, and at the mercy of the Rebel mob, which saw it as a British institution and an instrument of tyranny.
There was no future for a playwright in North America.
Jenny’s mother tried to tell her as much in her weekly reports from New Brunswick. The newsy letters arrived every Tuesday like clockwork, carried by the dishearteningly efficient Rebel post, threaded with the subtle message that, in such trying times, Jenny would be wise to come home.
But even her mother could not claim that New Brunswick was untouched by the current troubles. It had taken eight men a whole day, she wrote, to raise the new church bell, which had been cast in Holland from six hundred pounds of silver donated by the first families of the parish, into the steeple. It had been rung only once before word reached the town that the British were abroad—hunting for caches of weapons and confiscating church bells along the way so that the Rebels could not raise the countryside with their alarms.
Whatever their individual political leanings, the faithful of New Brunswick had denuded their tables and donated their plate for the glory of God, not King George. The church consistory voted unanimously, her mother wrote with obvious satisfaction, to take the bell down and bury it in the orchard across the lane.
If Jenny did not do something about it, she would end up like the bell, buried in New Brunswick until the Rebels were routed. Teased and tormented by four loving brothers who had followed her father into the brick-making trade and could not understand why a pretty girl bothered herself with scribbling for players.
There was no future for a playwright . . . in North America. That was why Jenny wanted, needed to meet Burgoyne.
The general was said to be a personal friend of David Garrick. Burgoyne’s plays had been performed at Drury Lane in London.
“The Boyne will be a week at least refitting,” murmured Andries Van Dam, who was arranging to send a crate of his best Madeira aboard the ship. “The general also asks for six quarts of Spanish olives, twelve pounds of Jordan almonds”—the tavern keeper began writing it all down, eyes alight—“two dozen doilies, one box of citron, six jars of pickles, and one Parmesan cheese.”
Jenny waited until they disappeared into the storeroom—all furtive glances and quiet whispers—before dashing out of the tavern. Samuel Fraunces, publican—Black Sam, to his friends—was a notorious Rebel, but evidently not a man to let that get in the way of trade. Jenny had never cared for politics. She liked them even less now that the royal governor and the garrison had retreated to their gun ships in the harbor and left ordinary New Yorkers like herself to the pity of the rabble, who had none.
She wanted nothing better than to dash directly home to John Street and Aunt Frances with her news, but she still had errands to run for the theater’s manager: costumes to pick up from the mantua maker, canvas to fetch for repairing the scenery, playbills waiting at the printer. This, though, gave her the opportunity to make discreet inquiries about the Boyne with the sailmakers and victuallers. By the time Jenny reached the little blue house next door to the theater, wrapped in her plain wool cloak and laden with packages, she had acquired a box of oranges, and knew that the Boyne was anchored off the Battery undergoing repairs.
Aunt Frances was upstairs in the little parlor at her desk working on a manuscript. She looked effortlessly stylish—as always—in a simple blue silk gown with her hair teased and tinted to match. Her arrival in New Brunswick, after fleeing her London creditors, had changed Jenny’s life. Aunt Frances was old enough—just—to be her mother, but unlike the matrons of Jenny’s acquaintance she had not rushed headlong into the trappings of domesticity or middle age. She wore no frumpy caps or homely aprons. She neither baked nor sewed. She wrote a little, acted a great deal, and charmed the patrons in the greenroom, always.
Without raising her head, she said, “How is your mother and everyone in New Bumpkin?”
“New Brunswick,” Jenny corrected. “They are fine. And Burgoyne is in New York.”
About the Book
British Occupied Manhattan, 1777. American actress Jenny Leighton has been packing the John Street Theater with her witty comedies, but she longs to escape the provincial circuit for the glamour of the London stage. When the playwright General John Burgoyne visits the city, fresh from a recent success in the capitol, she seizes the opportunity to court his patronage. But her plan is foiled by British intelligence officer Severin Devere.
Severin’s mission is to keep the pleasure-loving general focused on the war effort…and away from pretty young actresses. But the tables are turned when Severin himself can’t resist Jenny Leighton…
Months later, Jenny has abandoned her dreams of stage glory and begun writing seditious plays for the Rebels under the pen name “Cornelia,” ridiculing “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne and his army—and undermining the crown’s campaign to take Albany. With Jenny’s name now on the hanging list, Severin is ordered to find her—and deliver her to certain death. Soon, the two are launched on a desperate journey through the wilderness, toward an uncertain future shaped by the revolution—and their passion for each other…
Titles in the Renegades of the American Revolution Series
Book One: The Turncoat
Book Two: The Rebel Pirate
Book Three: Mistress Firebrand
About the Author
A native of Bergenfield, New Jersey, Donna graduated from Yale with a degree in Classics and Art History. For many years she managed architecture and interpretation at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, and wrote and directed the Witch City’s most popular Halloween theater festival, Eerie Events. She later earned an MFA in film production from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Donna has been a sorority house mother, a Disney/ABC Television Writing Fellow, a WGA Writer’s Access Project Honoree, and a writer on the ABC primetime drama, Cupid. Her screenwriting credits include episodes of the animated series, Tron: Uprising. Her short fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Albedo One. The director of several award-winning short films, her most recent project, The Night Caller, aired on WNET Channel 13 and was featured on Ain’t It Cool News. Currently she is a writer on the WGN drama SALEM. She is married with one cat and divides her time between the real Salem and Los Angeles.
GIVEAWAY – OPEN INTERNATIONALLY
1 paperback copy up for grabs!
*CLICK HERE* and fill out the form to enter
Draw Date April 22/15
Please join author David Blixt as he tours the blogosphere with HF Virtual Book Tours for The Prince’s Doom, the fourth book in the Star Cross’d series, from March 16-April 3.
Publication Date: December 23, 2014
Series: Book Four, Star Cross’d Series
Genre: Historical Fiction
About the Book
The long-awaited explosive fourth novel in the Star-Cross’d series! Verona has won its war with Padua, but lost its war with the stars. The young prodigy Cesco now turns his troubled brilliance to darker purposes, embracing a riotous life and challenging not only the lord of Verona and the Church, but the stars themselves. Trying desperately to salvage what’s left of his spirit, for once Pietro Alaghieri welcomes the plots and intrigues of the Veronese court, hoping they will shake the young man out of his torpor. But when the first body falls, it becomes clear that this new game is deadly, one that will doom them all.
Pietro reached Cesco along the stairs, the sound of the revels at their backs. “Cesco. Please, talk to me.”
Cesco spun, balancing on his heels. “Why? Are you starved for conversation?”
“I don’t think you see where all this is leading.”
“On the contrary, my eyes are unblinkered. It was earlier that I chose blindness. Unseeing, I fell into an obvious trap.”
The meaning was plain. “Love is not a trap.”
Cesco scoffed. “Says the man whose sole romantic love was a woman who lied, used, and manipulated him, all the while knowing that she would never let him taste of her lips. I’ve known more women in the last fortnight than you have in your whole life.”
Pietro blushed. “That would not be difficult.”
“We both know I was not meant to be pure. If I am damned, I mean to enjoy it. I will indulge in all the arts of love until I can claim a laurel wreath.”
“I thought you said love was a trap.”
“You mistake love for passion, Nuncle.”
“You said love.”
“I said arts of love. Art is short for artifice. Fake. Unreal. Deceptive.”
“Don’t let Manuel hear you say that. Is music so false? Or poetry?”
“As false as the emotions they inspire. But perhaps I misspoke, Nuncle. I am not done with love. I am done with dreams. Now, if you’ll excuse me…” He sauntered away, his step faltering slightly.
In no mood to rejoin the revels, Pietro exited the palace, reliving the conversation, wondering if he could have done better.
The Star Cross’d Series
Based on the plays of William Shakespeare, the poetry of Dante, and the history of Italy, the Star-Cross’d Series is a tale of wars won, friendships lost, and conspiracies both mortal and stellar, an epic journey into the birth of the Renaissance that recalls the best of Bernard Cornwell and Dorothy Dunnett.
Titles in the Star Cross’d Series
Book One: Master of Verona
Book Two: Voice of the Falconer
Book Three: Fortune’s Fool
Book Four: The Prince’s Doom
About the Author
Author and playwright David Blixt’s work is consistently described as “intricate,” “taut,” and “breathtaking.” A writer of Historical Fiction, his novels span the early Roman Empire (the COLOSSUS series, his play EVE OF IDES) to early Renaissance Italy (the STAR-CROSS’D series, including THE MASTER OF VERONA, VOICE OF THE FALCONER, FORTUNE’S FOOL, and THE PRINCE’S DOOM) up through the Elizabethan era (his delightful espionage comedy HER MAJESTY’S WILL, starring Will Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe as inept spies). His novels combine a love of the theatre with a deep respect for the quirks and passions of history. As the Historical Novel Society said, “Be prepared to burn the midnight oil. It’s well worth it.” Living in Chicago with his wife and two children, David describes himself as “actor, author, father, husband. In reverse order.”
GIVEAWAY – OPEN TO US RESIDENTS ONLY
Giveaway is for one Prince’s Doom branded T-Shirt
*CLICK HERE* and fill out the form to enter
Draw Date April 15/15
I’m pleased to be kicking of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours tour of The Tapestry by Nancy Bilyeau today! From the very moment I started reading The Crown years ago, the first book in this series, I was hooked. Next The Chalice came along and it only furthered the intrigue of the series which has now culminated in The Tapestry releasing on March 24. Nancy Bilyeau is truly an artist with words and she weaves fact and fiction seamlessly together in The Tapestry to offer us a glimpse into the Tudor Court with all its court intrigue, politics, and murder plots. The Tapestry brings us the Tudor Court in all of its glory along with a fine mystery and a heroine, Joanna Stafford, who the reader will find themselves rooting for at every turn.
What sets this novel, in fact this series apart, is the character of Joanna Stafford. The first time we meet Joanna in The Crown she is a nun in a Dominican priory in Dartford but it is also a time of great religious turmoil thanks to Henry VIII who was on a quest to destroy anything to do with the Catholic church and he succeeds in closing down Joanna’s priory. In The Chalice Joanna finds herself drawn into a conspiracy against King Henry VIII. When we meet with her again in The Tapestry we find a Joanna who has promised herself a much calmer life going forward. All she really wants from her life now is to weave her beautiful tapestries. It is not to be though. Joanna is summoned to Whitehall Palace because the very person she loathes – King Henry VIII – has taken an interest in her tapestries.
The court is not a place for Joanna who isn’t experienced in court politics and only yearns for the more virtuous side of life. She is happy to find her friend Catherine Howard at the court although that pleasure soon turns to dread for her dear friend’s life. Catherine has caught the eye of none other than King Henry and even worse Joanna fears that Catherine has already been compromised by the King. Joanna makes it her mission to protect the young Catherine Howard from the King and a life that she feels sure will not end in a good way for Catherine. However it soon becomes apparent that Joanna needs to be watching out for herself as well as it seems that someone is following her and quite possibly means her harm. Who though? It seems impossible to tell in a court rife with back stabbers but Joanna must or she may not survive…
With The Tapestry Joanna comes full circle in her life. She must decide what her very future holds. Does she want the excitement and danger of the court or the peace and contentment of a life filled with marriage, children, and tapestries? I urge you to begin with the first novel in this series The Crown and continue with The Chalice and now The Tapestry and immerse yourself not only in Joanna’s life but the excitement of The Tudors. It is one you will find yourself drawn into completely and when all is said and done you will miss it and her immensely. I know I already do.
I highly recommend this whole series! These novels are among the best that historical fiction has to offer!
GIVEAWAY DETAILS – OPEN TO NORTH AMERICA AND THE UK
WIN ONE OF THREE SIGNED HARDCOVER COPIES OF THE TAPESTRY
This is a tour wide giveaway and here are the rules:
Giveaway starts on March 16th at 12:01am EST and ends at 11:59pm EST on April 3rd.
Giveaway is open to residents in North American and the UK.
You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winners will be chosen via GLEAM on April 4th and notified via email.
Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
Please email Amy @ email@example.com with any questions.
*CLICK HERE* and fill out the form to enter. Draw Date April 4/15!
Letters to Kezia by Peni Jo Renner is Book 2 of The Puritan Chronicles. I read the first book Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames which I really enjoyed so I was thrilled to see a second book and it is just as good so I flew through it quickly. Letters to Kezia picks up in the years following Puritan Witch and tells the story of Rebecca Eames son, Daniel. Letters to Kezia can definitely stand on its own but I found it nice to have the story of Daniel’s mother Rebecca and all that had gone on in Daniel’s life as a younger man. For me, reading the first book enriched my enjoyment of this one.
In the course of Daniel’s life he has a daughter named Kezia who grows up with her mother Mary Case. Kezia, in present time, finds sealed letters that have her name on them. She questions her mother as to what they are and Mary tells her that they chronicle the history of who Kezia’s biological father was and just how she came to be. As Kezia begins to read the letters we are taken back to 1693 and to how Daniel and Mary first meet. Daniel, accused of being a thief, is being held in jail and Mary, the reverend’s daughter brings meals to the jail for him. Mary, betrothed to another that she does not want to marry, finds Daniel intriguing. There is something about him that draws her in although she doesn’t know what it is. Soon enough though she is persuaded to help him escape from jail. What she doesn’t expect is to find herself a fugitive and a murderer. The two escape and thus begins their harrowing journey just to stay alive meeting with an Indian tribe and others out to hunt them down. When Mary learns she is pregnant she is shamed and horrified. Girls in her time and those of a Puritan minister do not get themselves pregnant. What will she do? Will Daniel be hung? Will she? As Kezia reads these letters she learns so much about her mother and real father. How her mother faced adversity and betrayal in a time when women had no rights. It still amazes me how easily a woman could be accused of witchcraft and worse. The things we take for granted today could have had you shackles back then.
This is a great read for those who enjoy historical fiction. I urge you to read both books but as I said they stand on their own and both are very enjoyable reading. I have always found anything to do with the Puritan way of life or the Witch Trials extremely interesting and what makes Peni’s books even better is that they are based on findings from her own ancestors – she’s actually distantly related to Daniel and Rebecca Eames. What an exciting history to have!
Definitely recommended for historical fiction readers!