Review: The Ninja’s Daughter by Susan Spann

02_The-Ninjas-Daughter-1Book Description:

Autumn, 1565: When an actor’s daughter is murdered on the banks of Kyoto’s Kamo River, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo are the victim’s only hope for justice.

As political tensions rise in the wake of the shogun’s recent death, and rival warlords threaten war, the Kyoto police forbid an investigation of the killing, to keep the peace–but Hiro has a personal connection to the girl, and must avenge her. The secret investigation leads Hiro and Father Mateo deep into the exclusive world of Kyoto’s theater guilds, where they quickly learn that nothing, and no one, is as it seems. With only a mysterious golden coin to guide them, the investigators uncover a forbidden love affair, a missing mask, and a dangerous link to corruption within the Kyoto police department that leaves Hiro and Father Mateo running for their lives.

My thoughts:

The Ninja’s Daughter was a real treat to read. I don’t think I have read a story that takes place in Japan during the 16th Century before. The culture, social norms, customs, class distinctions during that period are really fascinating and Spann really shows that in this story. Not only that but the political and social conflicts were interesting as well.

Spann does a great job in keeping her readers engaged with the story and the mystery of who killed Emi. The Kyoto police do not feel that her death is worth an investigation and Hiro Hattori and Father Mateo are determined to find the killer. What a dual those two make. I loved the interaction between them and how they uncover the killer and so on.

This story makes a good stand-alone but I look forward to reading more Hiro’s and Mateo’s life from the previous books.

I rated this story three stars.

About the Author

03_Susan-SpannSusan Spann is the author of three previous novels in the Shinobi Mystery series: Claws of the Cat, Blade of the Samurai, and Flask of the Drunken Master. She has a degree in Asian Studies and a lifelong love of Japanese history and culture. . When not writing, she works as a transactional attorney focusing on publishing and business law, and raises seahorses and rare corals in her marine aquarium.

For more information, please visit Susan Spann’s website. You can also follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

 

 

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Book Blast: As Death Draws Near by Anna Lee Hunter

02_As-Death-Draws-NearAS DEATH DRAWS NEAR (LADY DARBY MYSTERY #5)
BY ANNA LEE HUBER

Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Berkley
Harcover & eBook; 336 Pages

Series: Lady Darby Mysteries
Genre: Historical Mystery

The latest mystery from the national bestselling author of A Study in Death tangles Lady Kiera Darby and Sebastian Gage in a dangerous web of religious and political intrigue.

July 1831. In the midst of their idyllic honeymoon in England’s Lake District, Kiera and Gage’s seclusion is soon interrupted by a missive from her new father-in-law. A deadly incident involving a distant relative of the Duke of Wellington has taken place at an abbey south of Dublin, Ireland, and he insists that Kiera and Gage look into the matter.

Intent on discovering what kind of monster could murder a woman of the cloth, the couple travel to Rathfarnham Abbey school. Soon a second nun is slain in broad daylight near a classroom full of young girls. With the sinful killer growing bolder, the mother superior would like to send the students home, but the growing civil unrest in Ireland would make the journey treacherous.

Before long, Kiera starts to suspect that some of the girls may be hiding a sinister secret. With the killer poised to strike yet again, Kiera and Gage must make haste and unmask the fiend, before their matrimonial bliss comes to an untimely end…

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOKS-A-MILLION | IBOOKS |INDIEBOUND

Praise for the Lady Darby Mysteries

“Riveting…Huber deftly weaves together an original premise, an enigmatic heroine, and a compelling Highland setting for a book you won’t want to put down.”—Deanna Raybourn, New York Times bestselling author

“[A] history mystery in fine Victorian style!”—Julia Spencer-Fleming, New York Times bestselling author

“[A] fascinating heroine…A thoroughly enjoyable read!”—Victoria Thompson, national bestselling author

“[A] clever heroine with a shocking past and a talent for detection.”—Carol K. Carr, national bestselling author

03_Anna-Lee-HuberAbout the Author

Anna Lee Huber is the Award-Winning and National Bestselling Author of the Lady Darby Mystery Series. She was born and raised in a small town in Ohio, and graduated summa cum laude from Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN with a degree in music and a minor in psychology. She currently resides in Indiana, and when not working on her next book she enjoys reading, singing, traveling and spending time with her family.

For more information, please visit www.annaleehuber.com. Connect with Anna Lee Huber on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Tuesday, July 5
100 Pages a Day
Jorie Loves a Story
Passages to the Past
Just One More Chapter

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Layered Pages
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History Undressed
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A Chick Who Reads
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It’s a Mad Mad World
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The Reading Queen
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To win a paperback copy of As Death Draws Near by Anna Lee Huber, please enter the giveaway here. Two copies are up for grabs!

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Book Spotlight: Loving Eleanor by Susan Wittig Albert

02_Loving EleanorLoving Eleanor
By Susan Wittig Albert

Publication Date: February 1, 2016
Persevero Press; Thorndike (Large Print)
Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Large Print

Genre: Historical Fiction/Biographical Fiction

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When AP political reporter Lorena Hickok—Hick—is assigned to cover Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the wife of the 1932 Democratic presidential candidate, the two women become deeply, intimately involved. Their relationship begins with mutual romantic passion, matures through stormy periods of enforced separation and competing interests, and warms into an enduring, encompassing friendship that ends only with both women’s deaths in the 1960s—all of it documented by 3300 letters exchanged over thirty years.

Now, New York Times bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert recreates the fascinating story of Hick and Eleanor, set during the chaotic years of the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the Second World War. Loving Eleanor is Hick’s personal story, revealing Eleanor as a complex, contradictory, and entirely human woman who is pulled in many directions by her obligations to her husband and family and her role as the nation’s First Lady, as well as by a compelling need to care and be cared for. For her part, Hick is revealed as an accomplished journalist, who, at the pinnacle of her career, gives it all up for the woman she loves. Then, as Eleanor is transformed into Eleanor Everywhere, First Lady of the World, Hick must create her own independent, productive life.

Drawing on extensive research in the letters that were sealed for a decade following Hick’s death, Albert creates a compelling narrative: a dramatic love story, vividly portraying two strikingly unconventional women, neither of whom is satisfied to live according to the script society has written for her. Loving Eleanor is a profoundly moving novel that illuminates a relationship we are seldom privileged to see and celebrates the depth and durability of women’s love.

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Praise

“Albert captures Hick’s spirit with energetic prose, painting a colorful picture of her fascinating life together with and apart from Eleanor. Although this memoir is fictional, the author draws upon thousands of personal letters, first-person accounts by others, and further research to present a compelling possible narrative of the relationship between Eleanor and Hick. Albert’s illuminating afterword adds important context to her narrative choices, and a comprehensive bibliography will encourage additional research. This warm, extensively researched novel will entrance readers and inspire them to look further into the lives of two extraordinary women.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Albert captures the turbulent thirties and forties with affecting detail, writing a novel notable not only for its emotional authenticity, but for its careful historicity. The nuances of Eleanor and Hick’s relationship are both moving and involving. Loving Eleanor is an intelligent love story with huge historical appeal.” —Foreword Reviews

“Susan Albert has done it again with another engaging, rich portrait, this time of women in love. Drawn from history, the love story of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena Hickok is full of excitement, drama and pathos. Both women of great intelligence and deep feelings, Eleanor and Lorena move from lovers to lifelong friends in the context of the most turbulent times of the 20th Century. As same-sex relationships finally move toward full acceptance in our culture, Albert’s book reminds us that love has always been love, no matter the partners.” —Robin Gerber, author of Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way

“Loving Eleanor, Susan Wittig Albert’s novelized memoir of Lorena Hickok’s intimate relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt, is both richly nuanced and impressively detailed. Drawn from the thirty years of correspondence Hickok donated to the FDR Library toward the end of her life, “Hick’s” voice felt utterly authentic to me, always real, raw and compelling. Hick is a dichotomy—a tough, streetwise Associated Press reporter, and a tender, devoted friend and lover. This is not only an important book, but a great read. Loving Eleanor deserves to be at the top of your reading list!” —Ellen Hart, author of The Grave Soul, a Jane Lawless Mystery

“Susan Albert has, with imagination and deep knowledge of the historical record, supplied the missing pieces of the love story of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok. Here is everything we wish we knew. I couldn’t put it down.” —Leila Rupp, Professor of Feminist Studies, UC Santa Barbara,

“This birds-eye view of the FDR years is engaging from the first sentence. With Eleanor Roosevelt’s long-time lover as its narrator it navigates the catastrophes of the era and the heartbreak of women loving women in an unwelcoming time.” —Rebecca Coffey, author of Hysterical: Anna Freud’s Story

About the Author03_Susan Wittig Albert

Susan Wittig Albert is the award-winning, NYT bestselling author of the forthcoming historical novel Loving Eleanor (2016), about the intimate friendship of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok; and A Wilder Rose (2014), about Rose Wilder Lane and the writing of the Little House books.

Her award-winning fiction also includes mysteries in the China Bayles series, the Darling Dahlias, the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and a series of Victorian-Edwardian mysteries she has written with her husband, Bill Albert, under the pseudonym of Robin Paige.

She has written two memoirs: An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days and Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place, published by the University of Texas Press.

Her nonfiction titles include What Wildness is This: Women Write About the Southwest (winner of the 2009 Willa Award for Creative Nonfiction); Writing from Life: Telling the Soul’s Story; and Work of Her Own: A Woman’s Guide to Success Off the Career Track.

She is founder and current president (2015-2017) of the Story Circle Network and a member of the Texas Institute of Letters.

For more information please visit www.susanalbert.com and www.LovingEleanor.com, or read her blog. You can also find Susan on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Like the Loving Eleanor page on Facebook.

PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY IS AN HISTORICAL MYSTERY, BUT IT’S ALSO A TOUR OF FLORENCE

Welcome Donna Russo Morin to Layered Pages! 

Thank you so very much for hosting me today. It’s always a pleasure to have a chance to chat with bloggers and their readers.

PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY: Da Vinci’s Disciples has its historical basis rooted firmly in truth…one of the greatest conspiracies of the 15th century, a conspiracy that reached all the way to the Vatican. An assassination plot history now calls the Pazzi Conspiracy. With such a firm historical foundation, it allowed me to immerse myself fully in the city of Florence, as it was in 1478. And thanks to the many resources, both paper and virtual, the details of the setting found their way onto my page. It even allowed me to create a map, something I’ve always wanted to do.

Renaissance Florence map

Today, I’d like to share some of those remarkable architectural delights with you.

We must start where the story starts, where the assassination takes place: in Brunelleschi’s Duomo. In truth the Gothic style basilica, part of the complex of Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (Saint Mary of the Flowers Cathedral), was originally designed by Arnolfo di Cambio. Built on the ruins of the 7th century Santa Raparata Church, construction on the new structure began in 1296; it wasn’t complete, as it stands today—as it was in 1478—until 1436.

 

Duomo collage

The exterior façade is a checkerboard of marble using three different colors and strains of the opulent stone. Only in comparison, can the inside be called rather plain. By far one of its most enchanting features is the mosaic pavements that cover the floor.

But it is the dome itself that has always made the Duomo not only one of the greatest tourist attractions in the world, but one of its most innovative. Using buttresses was forbidden in Florence, for it was a favored technique of their enemies to the north. Creating an unsupported dome had never been done before. Only a Renaissance genius such as Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446) would dare attempt it. For decades, Florentines feared it would fall upon their heads, especially during times of unrest, when they believed the wrath of God would strike the dome, burying any beneath in a fatal rubble. Today, the golden-bricked dome is one of Florence’s most recognized monuments and dominates the skyline.
Palazzo della Signoria collage

Giuliano de’ Medici is murdered. His brother, the powerful Lorenzo de’ Medici survives. But he would never be the same again. He sets out on a rampage of vengeance that would eventually find close to one hundred executed. Lorenzo’s preferred method of eliminating his enemies…throwing them out a window of the Palazzo della Signoria (now known as the Palazzo Vecchio), a rope wrapped around their throats.

The government palace is made of solid rusticated stonework and is enhanced with two rows of Gothic windows. It is from these windows that the Otto, the eight that ruled the police forces of Florence, flung the Medici enemies.

Built in 1299 by the citizens of the original Florence commune, it has been enlarged and enriched by decorative details in the many years since. It is at one of the main entrances to the palace that Michelangelo’s David originally stood. This most famous sculpture has since been replaced with a copy when the original was damaged in one of Florence’s many military challenges.
Santo Spirito collage

The secret society of women artists that inhabit Portrait of a Conspiracy are a product of my imagination only. Santo Spirito, the church in whose sacristy the woman have their ‘secret studio’ is very real.

The Basilica of the Holy Spirit (simply known as Santo Spirito) is located in the Oltrarno quarter of the city, in 15th century Florence, one of the wealthiest sections of the city.  The original structure was also built in the 13th century. The existing structure was also designed by Brunelleschi after it suffered both physical and spiritual ruin during a period of the city’s civil unrest. The first cornerstones of the building, the pillars, were delivered ten days before Brunelleschi’s death. His followers Antonio Manetti, Giovanni da Gaiole, and Salvi d’Andrea completed the work begun by the master.

Santo Spirito will play a major role in all volumes of the Da Vinci’s Disciples trilogy. It is not only the home of this secret art society, it is the location of some of their most decisive challenges.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of Florence. You’ll find more, including the actual names of the streets as they existed in the 15th century, within the pages of my books.

Book Blurb:

02_The-Portrait-of-Conspiracy

One murder ignites the powderkeg that threatens to consume the Medici’s Florence. Amidst the chaos, five women and one legendary artist weave together a plot that could bring peace, or get them all killed. Seeking to wrest power from the Medici family in 15th Century Florence, members of the Pazzi family drew their blades in a church and slew Giuliano. But Lorenzo de Medici survives, and seeks revenge on everyone involved, plunging the city into a murderous chaos that takes dozens of lives. Bodies are dragged through the streets, and no one is safe. Five women steal away to a church to ply their craft in secret. Viviana, Fiammetta, Isabetta, Natasia, and Mattea are painters, not allowed to be public with their skill, but freed from the restrictions in their lives by their art. When a sixth member of their group, Lapaccia, goes missing, and is rumored to have stolen a much sought after painting as she vanished, the women must venture out into the dangerous streets to find their friend and see her safe. They will have help from one of the most renowned painters of their era the peaceful and kind Leonardo Da Vinci. It is under his tutelage that they will flourish as artists, and with his access that they will infiltrate some of the highest, most secretive places in Florence, unraveling one conspiracy as they build another in its place. Historical fiction at its finest, Donna Russo Morin begins a series of Da Vinci’s disciples with a novel both vibrant and absorbing, perfect for the readers of Sarah Dunant.

“A riveting page-turner unlike any historical novel you’ve read, weaving passion, adventure, artistic rebirth, and consequences of ambition into the first of a trilogy by a masterful writer at the peak of her craft.” -C. W. Gortner, author of The Confessions of Catherine de’ Medici and The Vatican Princess

 Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

 About the Author

03_Donna Russo Morin (2)

Donna Russo Morin is the award winning of author of historical fiction. A graduate of the University of Rhode Island, she lives near the shore with her two sons, Devon and Dylan, her greatest works in progress.

Donna enjoys meeting with book groups in person and via Skype chat. Visit her website at www.donnarussomorin.com; friend her on Facebook and follow her on

Twitter@DonnaRussoMorin.

 Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, May 10
Review at Unshelfish
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Spotlight at Passages to the Past

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Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

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Review at Let Them Read Books
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Review at Just One More Chapter
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Review at Flashlight Commentary
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Review at Worth Getting in Bed For
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Guest Post at Layered Pages
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Review at Broken Teepee

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Review at #redhead.with.book
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Review at Puddletown Reviews

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Review at A Bookish Affair

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Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

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Review at The Book Connection

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Review at Book Nerd
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Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Giveaway

To enter to win an eBook of PORTRAIT OF A CONSPIRACY by Donne Russo Morin please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below. FIVE copies are up for grabs!

Rules

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– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Direct Link to enter giveaway click here

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The Dark Lady’s Mask by Mary Sharratt

02_The Dark Lady's MaskThe Dark Lady’s Mask: A Novel of Shakespeare’s Muse
by Mary Sharratt

Publication Date: April 19, 2016
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Hardcover, eBook, Audio Book; 416 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Shakespeare in Love meets Shakespeare’s Sister in this novel of England’s first professional woman poet and her collaboration and love affair with William Shakespeare.

London, 1593. Aemilia Bassano Lanier is beautiful and accomplished, but her societal conformity ends there. She frequently cross-dresses to escape her loveless marriage and to gain freedoms only men enjoy, but a chance encounter with a ragged, little-known poet named Shakespeare changes everything.

Aemilia grabs at the chance to pursue her long-held dream of writing and the two outsiders strike up a literary bargain. They leave plague-ridden London for Italy, where they begin secretly writing comedies together and where Will falls in love with the beautiful country — and with Aemilia, his Dark Lady. Their Italian idyll, though, cannot last and their collaborative affair comes to a devastating end. Will gains fame and fortune for their plays back in London and years later publishes the sonnets mocking his former muse. Not one to stand by in humiliation, Aemilia takes up her own pen in her defense and in defense of all women.

The Dark Lady’s Mask gives voice to a real Renaissance woman in every sense of the word.

Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Hardcover) | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble

Advance Praise

“An exquisite portrait of a Renaissance woman pursuing her artistic destiny in England and Italy, who may — or may not — be Shakespeare’s Dark Lady.”
— MARGARET GEORGE, internationally bestselling author of Elizabeth I

“Perfectly chosen details and masterful characterization bring to life this swiftly moving, elegant story. As atmospheric and compelling as it is wise, The Dark Lady’s Mask is a gem not to be missed.”
— LYNN CULLEN, bestselling author of Mrs. Poe and Twain’s End

“Mary Sharratt’s enchanting new novel, The Dark Lady’s Mask, is a richly imagined, intensely romantic and meticulously researched homage to lauded poet, Aemilia Bassano Lanyer, an accomplished woman of letters who many believe to be Shakespeare’s Eternal Muse. Sharratt unfolds a captivating tale, a compelling ‘what if ’ scenario, of a secret union that fed the creative fires of England’s greatest poet and playwright.”
— KATHLEEN KENT, bestselling author of The Heretic’s Daughter

“Mary Sharratt is a magician. This novel transports the reader to Elizabethan England with a tale of the bard and his love that is nothing short of amazing. Absorbing, emotional, historically fascinating. A work of marvelous ingenuity!”
— M.J. ROSE, New York Times bestselling author of The Witch of Painted Sorrows

“I enjoyed this exciting fantasy of Shakespeare’s ‘dark lady.’ There was adventure, betrayal, resilience, and above all, the fun notion that Shakespeare might have had far more than a muse to help him create his wonderful plays.”
—KARLEEN KOEN, bestselling author of Dark Angels and Before Versailles

“Through the story of Aemilia Bassano, a talented musician and poet, Mary Sharratt deftly tackles issues of religious and gender inequality in a time of brutal conformity. The Dark Lady’s Mask beautifully depicts the exhilaration and pitfalls of subterfuge, a gifted woman’s precarious reliance on the desires of powerful men, and the toll paid by unrecognized artistic collaborators. Resonant and moving.”
—MITCHELL JAMES KAPLAN, author of By Fire, By Water

“In The Dark Lady’s Mask, Mary Sharratt seduces us with a most tantalizing scenario —that the bold, cross-dressing poet and feminist writer Aemilia Bassano is Shakespeare’s mysterious muse, the Dark Lady. Romantic, heart-breaking, and rich in vivid historical detail and teeming Elizabethan life, the novel forms an elegant tapestry of the complexities, joys, and sorrows of being both a female and an artist.”
—KAREN ESSEX, author of Leonardo’s Swans and Dracula in Love

“Mary Sharratt has created an enchanting Elizabethan heroine, a musician, the orphaned daughter of a Jewish Italian refugee who must hide her heritage for her safety. Taken up by powerful men for her beauty, Amelia has wit and daring and poetry inside her that will make her a match for young Will Shakespeare himself and yet she must hide behind many masks to survive in a world where women have as much talent as men but little power.”
— STEPHANIE COWELL, author of Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet

“Prepare to be swept away by Mary Sharratt’s latest foray into historical fiction. Inspired by the true story of poet, Aemilia Bassano, THE DARK LADY’S MASK explores her relationship with William Shakespeare. Richly detailed and well researched, this lush tale brings Aemilia out of the shadows of history and let’s her emerge as one of the founding mothers of literature. Drama, intrigue, and romance will have readers racing through this brilliant celebration of the muse.”
PAMELA KLINGER-HORN, Sales & Outreach Coordinator, Excelsior Bay Books

About the Author03_Mary Sharratt

MARY SHARRATT is an American writer who has lived in the Pendle region of Lancashire, England, for the past seven years. The author of the critically acclaimed novels Summit Avenue, The Real Minerva, and The Vanishing Point, Sharratt is also the co-editor of the subversive fiction anthology Bitch Lit, a celebration of female antiheroes, strong women who break all the rules.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, April 19
Review & Giveaway at Unshelfish
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Wednesday, April 20
Review at A Bookish Affair
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Review at A Book Drunkard
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Review & Giveaway at History Undressed

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Review at Seize the Words: Books in Review

Tuesday, April 26
Review at With Her Nose Stuck In A Book
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Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

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Review at Just One More Chapter

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Review at A Chick Who Reads

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Review at Queen of All She Reads

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Review at Flashlight Commentary
Review at Cynthia Robertson, writer

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Interview at Flashlight Commentary

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Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

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Excerpt & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

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Review at Book Nerd

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Review at A Dream within a Dream

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Character Interview at Boom Baby Reviews

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Review at Puddletown Reviews

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Review & Giveaway at View from the Birdhouse

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Review at First Impressions Reviews
Excerpt at Layered Pages

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Review at A Book Geek

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Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, May 18
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Thursday, May 19
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Friday, May 20
Review at Broken Teepee

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Book Blast & Giveaway: The House of Barlic by Jillian Bald

02A_Shield's DownThe House of Baric Part One: Shields Down

Publication Date: December 5, 2015
Hillwalker Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 440 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction\Romance

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READ AN EXCERPT.

Marriage matches for the Venetian nobility were not preordained by God in heaven. They were skillfully negotiated by fathers looking to enhance their own prestige and wealth. A young lady could overlook petty shortcomings in her future husband, if he were rich, held a title, and was easy on the eyes. The young Baron Mauro Baric was such desirable yet flawed match.

Mauro was the last of the House of Baric, and he required a wife to provide him with sons. Resi Kokkinos was not interested in marrying an aristocrat any more than Mauro wanted a common, Ottoman Greek girl as his bride. Betrothed as children to repay Resi’s father’s debt to the Barics, they had no choice in their paired future.

Resi made the best of her sequestered adolescence in Thessaloniki while she waited to be summoned to the Venetian colony of Croatia to marry. Since her fate had already been decided, Resi’s mother allowed her to be tutored with her brothers. She did not need to learn the skills her friends focused on to entice a desirable husband, so she used her freedom to read every book she could find.

Mauro’s bachelor years of soldiering gave way to burdensome responsibilities as a baron and a new husband. Personal and political conflicts added more challenges to the couple’s awkward first year of marriage. Dear friends and unexpected visitors would bring their own troubles to the House of Baric. Through it all, Mauro could no longer deny that his complicated and unpredictable wife might be his perfect match after all.

Set in the summer of 1649, you are a fly-on-the-wall into their intriguing and adventurous world. Love, war, hating, and mating were perhaps not so different back in the seventeenth century. These memorable characters only wanted to steer their own destinies in search of happiness, and you will find yourself rooting for them to succeed in their quest.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo | Smashwords

02B_A Brother's DefenseThe House of Baric Part Two: A Brother’s Defense

Publication Date: March 16, 2016
Hillwalker Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 526 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction\Romance

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Book two of this fast-paced tale of aristocratic life in the 17th century Venetian Empire begins where book one left off: the mercenaries arrive to visit Resi and her new husband, Baron Mauro Baric.

Part One: Shields Down introduced you to the colorful characters of the House of Baric, their loyal bonds of friendship, willing romances, arranged marriages, political conflicts, and suspicious deaths. Mauro’s family secrets and buried pain can no longer be ignored. In Part Two: A Brother’s Defense, he must face his demons. But first, his new brother-in-law stirs up trouble, while the elegant Venetian guests fill their idle time at the Baric castle with new romantic pursuits.

Set in the summer of 1649, this gripping rendition of the saga of love, revenge, and redemption do not disappoint. Questions will be answered, and more will come to light, as this engaging trilogy speeds along. Swords will be drawn. The House of Baric must be protected. But from whom?

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About the Author03_Jillian Bald

Most of the novels in Jillian Bald’s library take place in the far past or the far future, so it came naturally for Jillian to set her first novel in the year 1649. She has always enjoyed discovering new things, and historical fiction is an entertaining path to learning. After working in business management and living in France and Germany for several years, Jillian moved with her husband across the country while taking time off to raise her boys. Writing is a new occupation to Jillian, but she has always had a story churning in her imagination. “The House of Baric Part One: Shields Down” is Jillian Bald’s first published work.

Connect with author Jillian Bald on Facebook and Goodreads.

Book Blast Schedule

Tuesday, April 19
The Book Junkie Reads

Wednesday, April 20
The Never-Ending Book
Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne

Thursday, April 21
The Reading Queen

Friday, April 22
The Writing Desk

Monday, April 25
Passages to the Past

Tuesday, April 26
Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Friday, April 29
Book Nerd

Monday, May 2
Laura’s Interests

Thursday, May 5
Let Them Read Books

Friday, May 6
Layered Pages
CelticLady’s Reviews

Monday, May 9
To Read, Or Not to Read

Wednesday, May 11
What Is That Book About

Giveaway

To enter to win a signed copy of The House of Baric Part One: Shields Down please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below.

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The House of Baric Book Blast

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The Sons of Godwine: Part Two of The Last Great Saxon Earls by Mercedes Rochelle

02_The Sons of Godwine

Publication Date: March 7, 2016
Sergeant Press
eBook & Print; 306 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Emerging from the long shadow cast by his formidable father, Harold Godwineson showed himself to be a worthy successor to the Earldom of Wessex. In the following twelve years, he became the King’s most trusted advisor, practically taking the reins of government into his own hands. And on Edward the Confessor’s death, Harold Godwineson mounted the throne—the first king of England not of royal blood. Yet Harold was only a man, and his rise in fortune was not blameless. Like any person aspiring to power, he made choices he wasn’t particularly proud of. Unfortunately, those closest to him sometimes paid the price of his fame.

This is a story of Godwine’s family as told from the viewpoint of Harold and his younger brothers. Queen Editha, known for her Vita Ædwardi Regis, originally commissioned a work to memorialize the deeds of her family, but after the Conquest historians tell us she abandoned this project and concentrated on her husband, the less dangerous subject. In THE SONS OF GODWINE and FATAL RIVALRY, I am telling the story as it might have survived had she collected and passed on the memoirs of her tragic brothers.

This book is part two of The Last Great Saxon Earls series. Book one, GODWINE KINGMAKER, depicted the rise and fall of the first Earl of Wessex who came to power under Canute and rose to preeminence at the beginning of Edward the Confessor’s reign. Unfortunately, Godwine’s misguided efforts to champion his eldest son Swegn recoiled on the whole family, contributing to their outlawry and Queen Editha’s disgrace. Their exile only lasted one year and they returned victorious to London, though it was obvious that Harold’s career was just beginning as his father’s journey was coming to an end.

Harold’s siblings were all overshadowed by their famous brother; in their memoirs we see remarks tinged sometimes with admiration, sometimes with skepticism, and in Tostig’s case, with jealousy. We see a Harold who is ambitious, self-assured, sometimes egocentric, imperfect, yet heroic. His own story is all about Harold, but his brothers see things a little differently. Throughout, their observations are purely subjective, and witnessing events through their eyes gives us an insider’s perspective.

Harold was his mother’s favorite, confident enough to rise above petty sibling rivalry but Tostig, next in line, was not so lucky. Harold would have been surprised by Tostig’s vindictiveness, if he had ever given his brother a second thought. And that was the problem. Tostig’s love/hate relationship with Harold would eventually destroy everything they worked for, leaving the country open to foreign conquest. This subplot comes to a crisis in book three of the series, FATAL RIVALRY.

Available at Amazon

TOSTIG REMEMBERS

Not long after we were comfortably housed in Flanders, Judith and I attended church with Matilda, Baldwin’s only surviving daughter, and her ladies. Matilda was a tiny thing, but a spirited little bundle of energy nonetheless, and very pretty. She would have fit under Judith’s chin. But she was the pride and joy of her parents, well-educated and very conscious of her lineage; her mother was the king of France’s sister, and Baldwin’s ancestors have ruled Flanders since the ninth century.

It had been raining that day and the sun was just peeking from the clouds as we finished the services in the church of St. Donation, which stood only about 400 meters from the castle. As we were leaving, Matilda led her little procession; I was far back in the crowd when the commotion began. Women were screaming, arms were waving, and people were pushing into each other trying to fall back. By the time I elbowed my way through the door, craning my neck to see over all the heads, Matilda was lying face-down in a puddle of mud. She was sobbing for all the world like she had just taken a beating. The poor girl was covered from head to toe with muck, and her beautiful dress was ruined. As she pushed herself up by the arms, I shook the girl next to me.

“What happened?”

“It was him,” she sobbed, pointing. Looking up, I saw a somewhat disheveled man riding away. There was no time to catch up with him—not with poor Matilda in need of assistance. I ran to her side and rolled her into my arms, picking the unresisting girl up like she was a child. She put her arms around my neck, smearing mud and tears all over my tunic.

“Take…take me home,” she coughed between sobs. She didn’t need to tell me that!

By now we had drawn a crowd, but they all parted respectfully as I carried Bruges’ favorite daughter back to her father’s castle. I heard the murmurs as we passed by.

“William the Bastard,” said somebody.

“The Duke,” said another. “He must be punished.”

“Poor girl,” said a third. “He just grabbed her by the back of the neck and threw her in the mud.”

“He beat her!”

“No, he kicked her!”

“He rolled her in the mud then got on his horse.”

I was shocked. That was the Duke of Normandy?

Murmuring words of encouragement, I carried Matilda up the hill to the castle. We passed between rows of soldiers and into the citadel where her ladies ran ahead of me to prepare her chamber. I laid Matilda on a pile of covers and she rolled on her side, hiding her face. Her father rushed in the door and knelt by her bedside.

“Oh my poor child. What happened?”

At that, she sat up and threw her arms around Baldwin’s neck, covering him with mud, too. After a few moments of sobbing, she pulled herself together.

“Oh father. It was Duke William. He was waiting for me at the church. When I came out, he accused me of humiliating him! I told him I would not lower myself to marry a mere bastard, when he grabbed me and threw me into the mud. He pushed me back and forth until I was totally covered then got on his horse and rode away.”

She took a cloth from one of her ladies and blew her nose in it.

“Outrageous!” spit the Count. “I will have his head for this!”

Turning Matilda over to her women, he rose and tried to look dignified. But he was all bespattered like myself, and decided to leave the room, taking the witnesses with him. He put an arm around my shoulder.

“Thank you, Tostig. Poor girl.” He tried to straighten out his tunic then gave up. “Right before you came to Flanders, Duke William sent an embassy asking for Matilda’s hand in marriage. You can imagine how quickly she sent them packing. William was beneath her station, and a bastard on top of everything else. She is not shy, my little Matilda!” He laughed briefly. “But we weren’t expecting this!”

The more he thought about it, his face became redder and redder.

“How dare he shame my little girl! Come, Tostig. We cannot let this go unavenged!”

There is one thing I can say about Count Baldwin; he is a very decisive man. He wasted no time in calling together his scribes and composing letters to his knights and captains. He summoned his household steward and demanded an accounting of all supplies. He called for his banker so he could determine how many funds he could raise. He worked long into the night.

The following day, as Baldwin was busily giving orders, Matilda walked into the great hall, trailing her women. There were no signs of the previous afternoon’s dishevelment; in fact, she had regained her proud bearing. Everyone stopped what they were doing and stared at her.

“Father, I have made a decision,” she said evenly. “You may stop preparations for war. I have decided I will marry Duke William of Normandy.”

You could have heard a feather drop in the room. We were all stunned into silence.

“You what?” her father finally muttered.

“I will have no one else.”

Apparently used to Matilda’s strange behavior, her father leaned back and put the quill down.

“And what has brought about this change of mind?” He crossed his arms over his chest.

She appeared to think for a moment. “It must be a brave and powerful man who would dare do such a thing, right in the middle of your territory.” A brief smile flicked across her face. “I understand him better, now.”

Baldwin looked around at his courtiers. “There you have it. Cancel our preparations.” I detected a bit of sarcasm in his voice, but he was quickly obeyed. He held out a hand to Matilda.

“Come, my child. Sit beside me.”

Someone brought a chair and Matilda obliged, taking her father’s hand.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” he said gently. “He may prove to be a dangerous husband.”

“I will manage him. After all, he really didn’t hurt me.”

Baldwin didn’t even try to reason with her. Given time, he told me later, she might change her mind again.

Mercedes Rochelle

About the Author

Born in St. Louis MO with a degree from University of Missouri, Mercedes Rochelle learned about living history as a re-enactor and has been enamored with historical fiction ever since. A move to New York to do research and two careers ensued, but writing fiction remains her primary vocation. She lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.

For more information visit Mercedes Rochelle’s website and blog. You can also follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, April 18
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, April 20
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter

Friday, April 22
Excerpt & Giveaway at Queen of All She Reads

Sunday, April 24
Excerpt & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Monday, April 25
Review at Book Nerd

Wednesday, May 4
Excerpt at Layered Pages

Thursday, May 5
Review at Impressions In Ink

Friday, May 13
Interview at Passages to the Past

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