Interview with Author Patricia Bracewell

Patricia, congrats on your debut novel, Shadow on the Crown and thank you the pleasure of an interview. I was so delighted to receive an ARC of your book and I absolutely loved your story! You wrote about one of my favorite female heroines and time period in history. Could you please tell your audience about your story?


Thank you, Stephanie. I’m honored to be interviewed and thrilled that you liked my book. Shadow on the Crown is about a remarkable historical figure, Emma of Normandy, who was sent to England in 1002 as the peaceweaving bride of the king, Æthelred II. Thrust into a hostile court filled with intrigue, suspicion and the constant fear of attack by Viking raiders, Emma must negotiate the moods of a haunted king and the schemes of powerful men in order to secure for herself a position as something more than just a royal hostage. The choices that she makes shape not only her own future, but the future of England as well.


Emma falls in love with someone other than the King. Without giving who it was away, could you please tell me if their relationship was real or fictional?


The relationship in my book is purely fictional, although it wouldn’t have been impossible. Who can say? It is an echo, though, of a real event that occurred in the 9th century when a Frankish princess wed an Anglo-Saxon king and then…well, interesting things happened.


Were there any research challenges you faced?


There were several challenges, and one of the biggest was discovering the facts of Emma’s life. Her birth date, her land holdings, her role in Æthelred’s court and household, her relationships with her husband’s children by his first wife – none of that was of interest to the historians of the time. What we know of it is all conjecture drawn from wills, charters, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and, frankly, hearsay that’s been passed off as fact. It’s like trying to draw someone’s face when all you can see is their shadow.


What led you to write about Emma?


I first read about Emma in an on-line bulletin board about a dozen years ago. I considered myself fairly knowledgeable about English royalty, yet I found myself reading about a queen I’d never heard of who married two different kings of England and who had also been mother to two kings of England. I began to research, and the more I learned about Emma the more fascinated I became, and the more astonished I was that she had been relegated to little more than a footnote in history. I wanted to write a book that would make her name just as familiar as those of the Tudor queens.


Will there be other books to follow about Emma and this time in history?


Yes. This novel is the first of a trilogy about Emma of Normandy, and I am working on the sequel now. I’m taking my time, because the next two books will cover the final, turbulent years of the reign of Æthelred II, and there are huge opportunities for dramatic tension and conflict.


Who designed your book cover?


The jacket designer was Kristen Haff. She has a website that displays many of the book covers that she’s done for Penguin. I hope she posts mine there because I think she did a marvelous job. The photographer was Richard Jenkins, who is based in the U.K.


What advice would you give to anyone who wants to write Historical Fiction?


Take a deep breath and throw yourself into the research, but when it comes time to write your book, remember that you are a storyteller, not a historian.  Be true to the history, but always remember that a good story is about people and their emotions, their relationships and their conflicts; it’s not about historical minutiae, however accurate it may be. Don’t get lost in it.


When did you know you wanted to be a writer?


I must have been about twelve when I decided that I wanted to write novels, but it seemed like nothing more than a girl’s impossible dream. In college my Creative Writing professor was not terribly encouraging, and I realized that being able to write well did not necessarily make one a novelist or even a writer. I put that dream aside and focused on earning a living as a teacher, but the desire to write never went away. When I finally decided to scratch that itch, I focused first on essays, then short stories, and finally I turned to my first love – the novel. I produced two manuscripts that are now sitting in a box on the top shelf of my closet, and then I began work on Shadow.


If you had to choose just one book that is your favorite? What would it be?


That’s a really hard question to answer, as I’m sure you know. Today’s favorite, out of the thousands of books I’ve read in my life, would be Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue. It’s a re-spinning of thirteen familiar fairy tales in a way that is surprising and a little subversive. Donoghue’s writing is radiant.

What are you currently reading?


I’m reading an ARC of A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by fellow Penguin author Dina Nayeri. Her book debuts the same day as mine. It’s about a young woman who has to find a way to survive in a harsh, repressive world – not unlike Emma. But Dina’s book is set in 1980’s Iran. I’m also listening to an audio book: Nancy Bilyeau’s Tudor mystery The Crown. Just now we’re wandering the maze of corridors in the Tower of London.


 What do you plan on reading next?


My “To Read” stack is taller than I am! Up next, Parlor Games, Maryka Biaggio’s historical novel set at the turn of the last century. But please don’t think I only read female authors! I’ve just finished reading books by Bernard Cornwell, Robert Low and Oscar Wilde, all of which I enjoyed very much.

Author Bio:

Patricia Bracewell grew up in Los Angeles where her love of stories led to college degrees in Literature, a career as a high school English teacher, and a yearning to write. She has travelled extensively in Europe, Asia and South America, both for research and for pleasure. She enjoys gardening, tennis, and, of course, reading, and she is a passable guitarist and folksinger, although her writing leaves her little time these days for practice. She lives in Northern California where she met and married her Canadian husband and where they raised their two sons.



http: //,,9780670026395,00.html?Shadow_on_the_Crown_Patricia_Bracewell

Thanks you!


Attention Authors!


Ladies & Literature MOD Rachel and I have combined forces and have put a fantastic review team together (team members are L&L members) and we will be starting up a review group on Goodreads next week called, “Reviews-R-Us!” So authors if your interested in our new review team and would like to have one of our team members review your book please email us at:

L&L Book Club:

Layered Pages
Co-Founder of L&L   


Author Martin Crosbie talks about pricing e-books over at BRAG! Come on over and see what he has to say on the subject.

“There’s a short answer to this question but I’m going to make you read through the whole article to find out what it is. Don’t worry; it’s less than five hundred words, so it won’t take long.When I released my first book “My Temporary Life” in December 2011 I priced it at $4.99. Based on other books out there this seemed like a reasonable price. I sold a few books but I knew there were others selling a lot more, and I believed in my book. So, I tried a .99 cent sale to try and get the ball rolling and…

Continue reading here:

Interview with Author J.D.R Hawkins

                                                         A Beautiful Glittering Lie
Author: J. D. R. Hawkins
Fiction / Historical
Publication Date: March 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4697-7174-8 (sc)
            978-1-4697-7176-2 (hc)
            978-1-4697-7175-5 (e)
204 Pages
On Demand Printing
Available from Ingram Book Group, Baker & Taylor and iUniverse, Inc.
J.D.R., thank you for the pleasure of an interview and congrats on winning the BRAG Medallion for you novel, “A Beautiful Glittering Lie. ” Your story takes place during a crucial time in our history. Could you please tell me about your story?

In the spring of 1861, a country once united is fractured by war. Half of America chooses to fight for the Confederate cause; the other, for unification. In north Alabama, the majority favors remaining in the Union, but when the state secedes, many come to her defense. Such is the case with Hiram Summers, a farmer and father of three. He decides to enlist, and his son, David, also desires to go, but is instead obligated to stay behind.


Hiram travels to Virginiawith the Fourth Alabama Infantry Regiment. Although he doesn’t intentionally seek out adventure, he is quickly and inevitably thrust into combat. In the meantime, David searches for adventure at home by traipsing to Huntsville with his best friend, Jake Kimball, to scrutinize invading Yankees. Their escapade turns sour when they discover the true meaning of war, and after two years of service, Hiram sees enough tragedy to last a lifetime.


A Beautiful Glittering Lieaddresses the naivety of a young country torn by irreparable conflict, a father who feels he must defend his home, and a young man who longs for adventure, regardless of the perilous cost.


Who or what inspired you to write this story?

The story inspired itself, so to speak. I took a trip to Gettysburg a few years ago. It was the first Civil War battlefield I had ever seen, and I was so impressed that I was inspired to write a novel. Not about commanding officers, or warfare tactics, but about a typical Southern soldier. He doesn’t own slaves, and he brings his horse with him to enlist with the cavalry. This book, A Beckoning Hellfire, led to two more sequels and a prequel. A Beautiful Glittering Lie is that prequel. It is the first book in the Renegade Series.


What was some of the research involved?

My research was extensive. I spoke to numerous authorities on the Civil War, delved into hundreds of old tomes at the library, requested books from other libraries, researched online, and travelled to various battlefields to get a first-hand look at the terrain and speak to park rangers about the battles. My primary resource for this particular novel is the journal of R. T. Cole, who was an adjutant with the Fourth Alabama Infantry Regiment.


Could you please tell me a little about the fictional aspects to your story?

Although the book is based on one soldier’s journal, most of the main characters in the story are fictitious, including the Summers family and their friends. In my opinion, writing fiction is more interesting, because the characters are able to converse, therefore enabling the reader to become a part of the story and get inside each character’s head.


What advice would you give to someone who would like to write about this period of time in our history?

My advice is to thoroughly research your topic first. Many people out there are avid Civil War fans who won’t hesitate to call you out if you make a mistake!


Your book cover is stunning! Who designed it?

My book cover was designed by my publisher. However, I found the artwork for it myself. The painting is entitled “Up Alabamians!” by Don Troiani.


What book project are you currently working on?

At the moment, I am working on several projects. I just finished a nonfiction book about the Civil War, as well as a novel set in the 1930’s. My next project will be a memoir, which takes place in Ireland.


Will you self-publish again?

I would consider self-publishing again. It is a quick, effective way to get your book in print, and you have a lot more control over the finished product. Self-publishing is slowly developing acknowledgement and respect in the book world. Many authors use both traditional and self-publishing companies simultaneously.


How did you discover IndieBRAG?

I was alerted to the contest through Writers Market.


What is your favorite genre to read?

My favorite genre is historical fiction, although I am a fan of mainstream fiction as well.


Paperback or e-book?

I am partial to paperbacks, although I read e-books on occasion. My novels are available in both formats, as well as hard covers.


What is your favorite quote?

My favorite quote comes from Mahatma Gandhi:

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Author Bio:
J.D.R. Hawkins is an award-winning author who has written for newspapers, magazines, newsletters, e-zines, and blogs. She is one of a few female Civil War authors, uniquely describing the front lines from a Confederate perspective. Her Renegade series includes the debut novel, A Beckoning Hellfire, recipient of two awards. Her new prequel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, is also an award winner. Both books tell the story of a family from north Alabama who experience immeasurable pain when their lives are dramatically changed by the war. Ms. Hawkins is a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the International Women’s Writing Guild, and the Mississippi Writers Guild, and is an artist and singer/songwriter. She recently completed a nonfiction book about the War Between the States, as well as two more sequels for her Renegade Series. Learn more about her at
 A message from BRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview J.D.R. Hawkins  who is the author of, A Beautiful Glittering Lie, one of our medallion honorees at To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, A Beautiful Glittering Lie  merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.
Thank you!

Review/Q&A with Author David Pilling

The White Hawk (Revenge, #1)

The White Hawk takes place during fifteenth century in England and explores two rivals-Lancaster and York-who is at civil war with each other and is tearing the country apart. Henry VI is king and is unable to prevent these tragic events. He has no stomach for politics and is too weak to fight. This story also, follows the Bolton’s, a family who is caught up in this civil war and struggles to survive. They are loyal to the house of Lancaster and as the story begins with a battle scene-lives are lost, families are torn apart and revenge for the death of love ones takes hold and bad decisions are made and more lives are destroyed.

One of the first things about, “The White Hawk” that I was impressed with was the opening scene-a battle-very dramatic and detailed. Pilling gives you a clear picture of war, revenge and continuous political instability throughout this period. As the plot unfolds and his characters come to life-I was enthralled in such a way- I found myself holding my breath and clinching my teeth anticipating what is going to happen to next.  
Pilling gives the reader a tremendous amount of history and he depicts medieval history brilliantly. One can tell he does his research and takes his findings seriously. I highly recommend this absorbing book to anyone who enjoys this period of time and who is looking for well-written historical fiction.
~Stephanie Moore Hopkins

Q&A with Author David Pilling
David, if you had lived during the time your story is set in, which side would you be on? Lancaster and York?
Even though my father is from Lancashire, and my story is told from the viewpoint of a family of Lancastrian loyalists, I would probably be for York. England was in a terrible state under the Lancastrian King Henry VI, and the Duke of York’s faction (initially) wanted to reform the government. Something that was badly needed.
Realistically, though, I would probably have been some no-mark peasant, and like most of the rest of the population merely done my best to survive in an extremely nasty world!
Even though Richard is my favorite character in your story, it seems to me like the act of revenge is a vicious circle and it makes a person make very mad or poor-if you will- decisions. Do you think Richard was justified in taking out his revenge? Or were any of the other characters justified?
The main theme of the book – hence the subtitle – is revenge and its consequences. The Wars of the Roses make for perfect subject matter in that regard, because the wars were largely driven by the desire for revenge. As Lord Clifford is supposed to have said to Edmund of Rutland shortly before killing him – “By God’s death, thy father slew mine, so I shall slay thee.”
Richard is a man of his time and so perhaps it is inevitable that he should seek revenge for his father’s death in battle. This was exactly the sort of vicious cycle that caused much of the English baronage to wipe each other out during this era. I think Richard’s desire for revenge is understandable, but some of his actions in pursuing it are unjustified and self-defeating. The same could be said for some of the other characters (fictional and non-fictional) in the book.


What interests you the most about this period?
The sheer level of brutality and the insane power politics, as well as the cyclical nature of events: the Wars of the Roses were very similar in many respects to the various Barons’ Wars that had preceded them, but no-one seemed keen on learning the lessons of history. Once again, as during the reigns of Henry III and Edward II, England had an incompetent king on the throne, and once again this led to the kingdom disintegrating into factionalism and civil war.
Who is your favorite historical character you have written about in your story and why?
That’s a difficult one. I’m rather fond of York: he’s torn between his natural ingrained loyalty to the crown, and his own ambitions and desire for reform. Taken in all, he was a rather strange and enigmatic character, and an interesting one to try and interpret.
How long did it take you to write, The White Hawk?
About five or six months, editing and revisions included!

Thank you David!


Interview with Author William Gordon

William, congrats on winning the BRAG Medallion for your book, “Requiem,” please tell your audience about your story.

Requiem is the first in a five-part saga tracing the fortunes of a family from the Victorian age until the present day. Under the umbrella title Byland Crescenteach book in the saga will concentrate on a successive generation. The story tells of Albert Cowgill’s rise from poverty in the squalid slums of Bradford in West Yorkshire, to become one of the leading figures in the textile industry. When he and his family move into Byland Crescent in the genteel seaside resort of Scarborough, it seems as if they have it all, and that their contentment will be endless. However, betrayed sometimes by their own passionate nature and at other times affected by events they cannot control, their lives are turned upside down, and the onset of World War 1 signals the requiem for a lost generation.

Requiem (Byland Crescent)  

You write about a daunting time in history, what were some of the research involved? Did you discover anything you didn’t already know?

I am conscious that when writing historical fiction, the need for accuracy in relating factual events is crucial, so a lot of time was spent in research and in checking dates. I may know when a particular event took place, but that doesn’t mean my fingers will transcribe it accurately. The research that was most rewarding and necessary included the assassination in Sarajevo and the events leading up to it that led to the outbreak of World War I. What I didn’t begin to comprehend was the sheer scale of the casualties during those four years. When I read the bare statistics I was both shocked and appalled by them. Nor did I appreciate how quickly it all began. Bearing in mind that in 1914 there were no computers, internet or email, no radio or TV and that very few people had telephones, for the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife on June 28th to lead to the whole of Europe being at war by July 28th led me to the belief that nobody was prepared to negotiate. In other words they were spoiling for a fight.


What there a particular scene you found a challenge to write?

The war scenes were the most difficult and challenging part of the book to write. The more research I did, the angrier I became, both with the headlong plunge into war and the senseless slaughter that ensued. That slaughter, of millions of young men (and women) more often than not achieved absolutely nothing. I was also sickened by the increasingly brutal tactics adopted by both sides, which was signified by the concept of ‘total war’. That meant that men, women and children, be they combatants or civilians, are to be considered legitimate targets. I believe my sense of anger is reflected in the passages I wrote about this, thinly disguised as sarcasm.

Who or what inspired you to write this story?

Byland Crescent was inspired by the sight of a beautiful crescent of fine, stone-built Victorian terraced houses in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. As I looked at them, I wondered what stories those houses could tell about the people who have lived there over the years. The original concept was to write a story about each house, but I got so involved with the lives and loves of the inhabitants of No.1 that I stayed with them. However, the neighbours do enter the story from time to time, and the actions of one of them have a pivotal impact on the outcome of book 5, Reunion.


Who designed your book cover?

The cover photograph is of Byland Abbey, the ruined Cistercian monastery close to where I live in North Yorkshire, which gave its name to the crescent and therefore the series. The abbey itself is crucial in the lives of at least three of the leading characters in the series. I took the photograph under the expert guidance of my wife, Val, who designed the rest of the cover, including the text, blurb and review quote.

What is next up for you?

Renaissance, book 2 of the saga, which covers the period between the two world wars, is in the final editing phase. This should be available sometime in early spring. In addition, I am a third of the way through the first draft of book 3, Retribution, and have just started work on the second book in a new crime series set in the 1980s. It’s nice to be busy!


What is your favourite literary genre?

That’s a very tricky question. I enjoy a wide variety of books, but principally some historical fiction and a lot of crime.


What are you currently reading?

I have just finished re-reading The Snow Geese by William Fiennes, and have started To Defy A King by Elizabeth Chadwick.
To Defy a King (William Marshal, #5)

What is the last truly great book you read?

I read a thriller with what I consider to be the perfect ending, in that all the strands of the plot were drawn together by the final word of the epilogue. That word, which is a surname, caused me to gasp aloud with surprise. I don’t think you can improve on that. The book is The Stranger House, by the late Reginald Hill.


Do you prefer Paperback or e-book?

The choice would be paperback for me and e-reader for Val. However, I am increasingly aware of the value of e-readers, both to read in bed, and to take on holiday, where air travel luggage restrictions are limited. Last year, Val read 11 e-books on holiday. That would have cost a fortune in excess baggage! There is a greater than ever choice for readers thanks to the availability of e-readers, and this means they are not restricted by what established publishers consider they should read, but by what they themselves actually want to read. This increased freedom can only be good for readers and author’s alike, especially independent authors.


How did you discover BRAG?

I found out about BRAG via the medium of social networking. Considering the network I was on, you could say that a little bird told me! I read a message congratulating Helen Hollick on one of her titles being honoured with a Medallion and decided to investigate. I liked what I discovered and put Requiem forward for consideration.


What is your favourite quote?

My favourite quote comes from cricket commentator and legendary West Indian fast bowler, Michael Holding, who said ‘the only problem with commonsense is that it isn’t as common as it ought to be.’

Image of Bill Kitson (William Gordon)

Author Bio:

Bill Kitson is a writer of crime thrillers and historical fiction. He lives with his wife and their slightly eccentric Labrador I North Yorkshire. He lists his interests as cricket, crime, Crete, cooking, cryptic crosswords and alliteration!

A message from BRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview William Gordon who is the author of,Requiem , one of our medallion honorees at To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as Requiem merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.
Thank you!

Interview with Florence Osmund

Florence Osmund

Thank you Florence for the pleasure of an interview and congrats on winning the BRAG Medallion. Please tell me about your story, “The Coach House.”

“The Coach House” story begins in 1945 Chicago. Newlyweds Marie Marchetti and her husband, Richard, have the perfect life together. Or at least it seems until Marie discovers cryptic receipts hidden in their basement and a gun in Richard’s desk drawer. When she learns he secretly attends a mobster’s funeral, her suspicions are heightened, and when she inadvertently interrupts a meeting between him and his so-called business associates in their home, he causes her to fall down the basement steps, compelling Marie to run for her life.
Ending up in Atchison, Kansas, Marie rents a coach house apartment tucked behind a three-story Victorian home and quietly sets up a new life for herself. Richard soon learns her whereabouts and lets her know he is not out of the picture yet, but ironically, it is the discovery of the identity of Marie’s real father and his ethnicity that unexpectedly affect her life more than Richard ever could.
This looks like an intense read, what inspired you to write this story?
Inspiration for this story culminated over a period of several years. Each time I had a thought about what would make a good story, regardless of where I was, I wrote it down. The idea may have come to me while waiting on a street corner for the light to change, or in a business meeting, or even in my sleep. Then when I retired and was ready to start writing my first book, I gathered all these scraps of paper I had accumulated, sorted them into piles, and before long a story emerged. I saved the leftovers for future books.

Chicago 1945 is an interesting period of time in the US. Did you have to do any research for that period? If, so please explain.

It’s surprising how much research I had to do for this book. The colloquialism had to be appropriate for the time period as did current events, clothing, cars, movies, and popular songs. Sometimes I had to look up the most mundane things, like whether there were phone booths in 1945 or phones in hotel rooms. There were hundreds of little details I had to research in order to make the story convincing.
Coach House


Where there any scenes you found difficult to write?
The difficult scenes for me were ones that involved racism. The discrimination that occurred in the 1940s was unconscionable, and it troubled me to write narrative that fed into it.
Is there a message in your story you would like readers to grasp?
I hope my story confirms for the readers that outward appearances do not and should not matter, and regardless of how insurmountable something appears to be in your life when you’re in the midst of it, there is always a solution.
What is your next book project?
“Daughters” is the sequel to “The Coach House” and is expected to be released later this month. In “Daughters,” Marie gets to know her biological father and his family and faces her ethnicity head on while trying to figure out exactly where she belongs in society and relationships.
My third book, “Mystic Coins” is in the works. The male protagonist in this novel, Lee Winekoop, comes from extremely wealthy parents who give him everything anyone would ever need to be successful in life. That seems to work for his two older brothers, but unfortunately, Lee can’t seem to do anything right. “Mystic Coins” is the story of how a young man deals with weaknesses, frustrations and feelings of inadequacy, but more importantly, it is the story of differing views on what defines success.
What are you currently reading?
I just finished a wonderful book titled, “Searching For Lincoln’s Ghost” that was written by another first-time novelist, Barbara Dzikowski, who does an exemplary job channeling a young girl’s journey into finding answers about what happens after you die.
How did you discover indieBRAG?
Actually indieBRAG discovered me. I received an e-mail from president, Geraldine Clouston, telling me she had been perusing my website and thought I might be interested in her organization. And she was so right!
What is your favorite quote?
I post my favorite quotes related to authors and writing on my Wednesday blogs, and one of my very favorites was initially said by Douglas Adams. “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”
Author Bio:
Florence Osmund grew up in an old Victorian home in Libertyville, Illinois, complete with a coach house, the same house she used as inspiration for her first two books. She earned her master’s degree from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management and has obtained more than three decades of experience working in corporate America. Osmund currently resides in Chicago where she is working on the sequel to this novel.
A message from BRAG:
 We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Florence Osmund who is the author of, The Coach House, one of our medallion honorees at To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as The Coach House merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.
Thank you!

Caroline, Countess of Ravensbrook & Giveaway

In Defense of Ladies Who Fence

By Caroline, Countess of Ravensbrook

Whose courtship and early marriage is told of in the steamy novel


by Christy English


 When I was but a girl, my father encouraged me to learn to wield a sword. Indeed, not just a sword, but a rapier, and a hunting knife as well. On the day before he left us to fight the Usurper, who most are polite enough to call Napoleon now that he is safely tucked away at St Helena, my father showed me first how to hold a sword. I, for one, have not forgiven the Usurper, for not only did his greed and avarice for power take away my father, it took away many a good man from his hearth and home, never to return again. We were fortunate indeed that my father did come back, but only after ten years, when I was a woman grown, and on the way to leaving the house myself, and forever. Upon my marriage, I have had occasion to return to my father’s house for visits, but the married women among us will know what I mean. Once the door to childhood closes, there is no way to force it open again, not even for the space of an hour.


But on the day before my father left us, when I was eight years old, he was polishing his cavalry sword. When I came upon him doing so, and begged him, he was kind enough to show me a few thrusts from the ground. Though, an officer without his horse might as well be dead already.


He was quick to tell me that, too.


After he was gone, I found an old cane which I polished assiduously and then began to brandish like a cavalry sword as he had shown me. I had begun to ride a horse by then, but once I picked up my cane, the sword of my imagination, only old Hercules, who had been wounded in battle and sent home to honorable retirement, could tolerate me on his back. We became fast friends, and indeed, Hercules became my first teacher.


When my father’s veterans began to find their way home to us in Yorkshire, wounded and defeated as they were, while the war raged on, a few saw me riding Hercules, who they remembered well, and watched as he and I made our way through our paces, stunted and short-armed as I was at the age of nine. They had seen a great deal of war, and not all of it on the battlefield. They would never speak to me of what they had seen, but it seemed they all believed that a woman should not be defenseless, that indeed, a woman who could cut her own throat was a woman who was always safe from the worst of fates.


I have met few women with the stomach to do so. Indeed, I am not entirely certain if I would have the stomach, or the fortitude for it. Whatever fate doles out, it seems to me that life always offers hope, but I did not tell my father’s veterans that. Instead, I let them teach me to fight, drinking in all they knew, and then some, so that each were challenging the other how to teach me yet one more hold, one more thrust, one more jab to the eye or the chin or the groin, the thrust that might one day save my life, should warfare ever come to Yorkshire, or should I have the misfortune, in my married state, be caught unawares in a nasty part of London.


This is of course unlikely for a gentleman’s daughter, especially for the daughter of a baron, but I did not tell them this. Indeed, they seemed to think my father’s title and position little enough protection in the world. Paul, my last and best teacher, was clear that no woman was safe, and that to carry my own blade, indeed more than one, and to know how to use it, was the only answer. I did not abuse him of this notion, but learned to fence like a gentleman from him, too, much to the chagrin of my husband.


Lord Anthony, Earl of Ravensbrook, has had many a sleepless nights at the thought of my wielding a blade. But he has seen me do so, and he has even witnessed a blade saving my life more than once, so by now, the third year of our marriage, I believe he is content to let me be. I have hopes that he will even agree to let me teach our daughter how to fight. Not on horseback, as I first learned, but real combat for a woman, in close quarters, hand to hand, when a woman has nothing but her wit and her blade to stand between herself and ruin.


Freddie is almost two years old, and I am enceinte again, so I have laid my weapons down. Indeed, there seems no harm in being quiet for a few months while the baby grows within me. I know already in my heart that she is a girl, and one less spirited than I, I think, for she is docile and delicate even as she rests within me, rarely kicking as Freddie did, but only turning over and pressing her foot or her hand to mine when I touch the side of my belly. But she is in there, and she waits to see my face just as I wait to see hers.


Anthony will no doubt wrap us both in cotton wool for the rest of our lives, and while I will indulge him for the most part, I will teach my daughter to defend herself. For no matter how doting her husband one day will be, there will come a time when she is alone, with only her blades to defend her. When that day comes, my daughter will be ready, as I was.


How to Tame a Willful Wife (Shakespeare in Love, #1)

 Description of How To Tame A Willful Wife:

 1. Forbid her from riding astride
2. Hide her dueling sword
3. Burn all her breeches and buy her silk drawers
4. Frisk her for hidden daggers
5. Don’t get distracted while frisking her for hidden daggers…
Anthony Carrington, Earl of Ravensbrook, expects a biddable bride. A man of fiery passion tempered by the rigors of war into steely self-control, he demands obedience from his troops and his future wife. Regardless of how fetching she looks in breeches.
Promised to the Earl of Plump Pockets by her impoverished father, Caroline Montague is no simpering miss. She rides a war stallion named Hercules, fights with a blade, and can best most men with both bow and rifle. She finds Anthony autocratic, domineering, and…ridiculously handsome.
It’s a duel of wit and wills in this charming retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. But the question is…who’s taming whom?

Christy English
Author of How To Tame A Willful Wife
and the upcoming Love On A Midsummer Night
from Sourcebooks Casablanca

I’m delighted to announce that Author Christy English is giving a paperback copy to a lucky person on Layered Pages! To qualify your chance to win, please leave a comment about Caroline’s post and why you would like to have a copy of Christy’s fabulous novel in the comment are with your name and email address. The Giveaway will run through the 31st of January and the winner will be announced on February the 1st!