Book Review: A Twist in Time by Julie McElwain

a-twist-in-time-iiFormer FBI agent Kendra Donovan’s attempts to return to the twenty-first century have failed, leaving her stuck at Aldridge Castle in 1815. And her problems have just begun: in London, the Duke of Aldridge’s nephew Alec—Kendra’s confidante and lover—has come under suspicion for murdering his former mistress, Lady Dover, who was found viciously stabbed with a stiletto, her face carved up in a bizarre and brutal way.

Lady Dover had plenty of secrets, and her past wasn’t quite what she’d made it out to be. Nor is it entirely in the past—which becomes frighteningly clear when a crime lord emerges from London’s seamy underbelly to threaten Alec. Joining forces with Bow Street Runner Sam Kelly, Kendra must navigate the treacherous nineteenth century while she picks through the strands of Lady Dover’s life.

As the noose tightens around Alec’s neck, Kendra will do anything to save him, including following every twist and turn through London’s glittering ballrooms, where deception is the norm—and any attempt to uncover the truth will get someone killed.

My Thoughts:

I am really fascinated in time-travel stories. Alas, often times they do not appeal to me. However, McElwain’s Kendra Donavan’s time travel is convincing and vivid. In A Murder in Time, FBI Agent Kendra has a disastrous raid where many members of her team is murdered and she uncovers a mole in the agency. She flees from the assassin and is pulled back in time…to the early nineteenth century. Then things from there get really interesting….

I was so delighted when the second book, A Twist in Time was available for reviewers to pick up. I was anxiously waiting to read about Kendra and the supporting characters again. What a wonderful cast of mixed characters.  I love the central story-line and how the characters face the challenges together in solving the crime. There are also class distinctions in the story and I found that story-line intertwined intriguingly and blends perfectly with the main plot.

In England during that time there was no real police force in place. Only a loose network of constables, magistrates, sheriffs, bailiffs, bow street runners and watchmen. Then there was the class system-as I mentioned above-that made questioning peers and their servants about on-going investigations and murder difficult. People seemed to be appalled that a peer could commit such a heinous act. That is brilliantly told in this story.

I believe the plot came together nicely and there was strong character development. Which is vital in storytelling. The profanity is lesser in this book than the first and I was appreciative of that fact.

I do recommend reading the first book before diving into this one. I rated this book four stars and I do hope there will be another Kendra Donavon story.

I obtained a review copy from the publishers through NetGalley for an honest review.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Be sure to read my review of A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

My interview with the author, Julie McElwain about A Murder in Time

Disclaimer: All book reviews, interviews, guest posts and promotions are originals. In order to use any text or pictures from Layered Pages, please ask for permission from Stephanie. M. Hopkins/Owner of Layered Pages

Cover Crush: Mr Lazarus by Patrice Chaplin

Cover Crush banner

I’ve been on a science fiction kick lately and I love book covers with clocks on them for some reason. Especially old looking clocks. The clock shows a story of time travel, a woman who is obviously part of the story and there is a certain intensity of the cover. Maybe it’s the richness of the colors and the flowing look of the ladies’ hair as she is looking down. Or maybe it is the clock itself that gives off the intensity feel. The title has me intrigued as well. Who is this Mr Lazaus and what is his role in the story? I look forward to finding out!

Mr LazarusMr Lazarus by Patrice Chaplin

London. 1970.

Vicky Graham, an unsuccessful film producer at the BBC, crosses the path of Luciano Raffi, a famous violinist, as he performs at the Proms.

For Vicky he represented something she could not have, but something she longingly craved for. A chance to lift her out of the unloving greyness of everyday life.

Through her job at the BBC, she is able to organise an interview with him, but their meeting triggers a renewed obsession with him.

The reason? Luciano has something in common with Vicky – they both know about the portal.

A secret history, nearly untraced, connects these distant souls.

But will it last?

Raffi is about to disappear from her life…

To get him back, she must travel to where and when she had never expected.

She must uncover the secret history of the portal…

************

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary.

Other great book bloggers who cover crush

Heather @ The Maiden’s Court 

Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede 

Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired 

Colleen @ A Literary Vacation -Coming soon

 

Review: Hold My Heart by Esther M. Soto

Hold my heartOn a manhunt for a serial killer, FBI Special Agent Ileana Harper falls through a break in time, ripping her from the present and everything she knows. After forming an uneasy alliance with the man who comes to her rescue, she unearths long-buried family secrets. Spiraling out of control, she clings to memories of Tommy, her partner and best friend of eight years, to keep her sane, fearful she may never see him again.

FBI Special Agent Tommy Colton relies on Ileana to keep him grounded; she’s the closest thing he’s ever had to love in his life. When Ileana disappears, leaving no trace, he falls apart. Without her beside him, Tommy is about to face the biggest challenge of his career, if not his life.

While trying to find a way home, Ileana races to determine the killer’s identity and discovers he might be closer than she realized.

Will she risk everything to catch him, or sacrifice justice to find her way back to Tommy before it’s too late?

My thoughts:

Hold My Heart is the second book I have read this year where a female FBI Agent is pulled through time from the present. These stories really interest me and I liked how this one played out. There was even a bit of humor in the story-line. I have to admit I liked the characters that lived in the past much better than the ones in the present. Though I do like Ileana very much, I wasn’t thrilled about Tommy-at first and I am not sure I have quite warmed up to him yet. To me he came across like an over-protective, jealous and insecure boyfriend. The guy definitely has issues and you will learn more about that in the story. Having said that these two have a connection and it shows throughout the book.

Esther M. Soto does a marvelous job depicting the past and you feel as if you were taken back to the past with Ileana. Truly atmospheric and absorbing. I have to admit, I wanted Ileana to stay in the past. She meets wonderful people and I believe she learns a lot about herself. So many intense parts in this story and it was thrilling to read about Ileana racing to find the identity of the killer.

I would like to caution readers who are sensitive to profanity. There is a lot in the story and the “f” bomb was dropped a lot. I really could have done without that. For me it was too much and it would have been even better if there wasn’t any use of that word in the story.

Having said that, I can’t talk enough about how I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.

I have rated this book four and a half stars.

I obtained a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Review: A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

A murder in time

Beautiful and brilliant, Kendra Donovan is a rising star at the FBI. Yet her path to professional success hits a speed bump during a disastrous raid where half her team is murdered, a mole in the FBI is uncovered and she herself is severely wounded. As soon as she recovers, she goes rogue and travels to England to assassinate the man responsible for the deaths of her teammates. While fleeing from an unexpected assassin herself, Kendra escapes into a stairwell that promises sanctuary but when she stumbles out again, she is in the same place – Aldrich Castle – but in a different time: 1815, to be exact. Mistaken for a lady’s maid hired to help with weekend guests, Kendra is forced to quickly adapt to the time period until she can figure out how she got there; and, more importantly, how to get back home. However, after the body of a young girl is found on the extensive grounds of the county estate, she starts to feel there’s some purpose to her bizarre circumstances. Stripped of her twenty-first century tools, Kendra must use her wits alone in order to unmask a cunning madman.

My thoughts:

I’d like to start off my mentioning the whole concept of time-travel story. Sometimes it works in stories and sometimes it does not. In this story, it works and the author gives such a brilliant and believable description of Kendra being pulled through time. For me that was pretty intense. I could almost feel the physical pain she was going through.

I really dig the premise of an FBI Agent traveling through time and ending up working a case of a 19th century murder that turns into much more. You also meet some other great characters that race to help her solve the crimes. For starters, Rose, Rebecca, Molly, Alec and Duke Aldridge are about the best written supporting characters I have read in a good while. Most of all I was so fascinated with Kendra’s process in trying to solve these murders and some of the other characters thought process. I believe Kendra really brought that out in them and she really got them to think outside their 19th century minds.

The killings are graphic, there is profanity in this story. Quite a bit of it in the beginning actually. I’m not one for profanity but I understand the scenario the author was portraying. Intense situations cause people to react in all kinds of ways. For many, profanity is one of them. Even though the killings are graphic, this gives you a real sense of what the victims are going through, which makes the story all the more intense. I think that was brilliantly done and gives you a real understanding of that type of evil in the world.

I found this story to be atmospheric, packed with lots of action, high-energy situations and such intense and real emotions. I couldn’t put it down. I loved it and I hope there will be a sequel!  I’ve rated this book four and a half stars.

I received a copy from NetGalley for an honest review.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

 

Interview with Julie McElwain

Julie MelwainI have the great pleasure and honor to introduce Julie McElwain to Layered Pages today, to talk with me about her book A Murder In Time. Julie is an award-winning journalist, who began her career as a business reporter at California Apparel News, a weekly Los Angeles-based fashion trade newspaper. She has freelanced for numerous publications from professional photographer’s magazines to those following the fashion industry. Currently, Julie is an editor for CBS Soaps In Depth, a national soap opera magazine covering the No. 1 daytime drama, The Young and the Restless. Julie lives in Long Beach, CA.

 Julie, please tell your audience about A Murder in time.

A Murder In Time is about FBI agent Kendra Donovan, who goes rogue after her present day mission is botched. In her quest for justice, she infiltrates a costume ball at Aldridge Castle in England. When she encounters an assassin, she escapes through a passageway and encounters a terrifying phenomenon, which transports her back to 1815.

You could say that Kendra’s modern senses clash with Regency England’s sensibilities. She’s initially mistaken for a lady’s maid, but is quickly demoted to a below-stairs maid. When the body of a young girl is found brutally murdered, Kendra realizes that a serial killer is on the loose. Stripped of her twenty-first century tools, Kendra is forced to rely on her wits to unmask the murderer.

What are some of the courage and strengths of Kendra and possibly the isolation she may feel with these attributes?

As the offspring of two scientists who believed in positive eugenics, Kendra didn’t have a normal upbringing. Like an athlete, she spent her life “training” to excel in academics. Her intelligence has always set her apart from her peers, and made her feel isolated. She was only a young teenager when she went to college. Socially, she didn’t fit in with the older college students, which only made her feel more like a freak. When her parents abandoned her after she asserted her independence, Kendra was forced to develop a tough outer shell to survive. She became a loner, dedicated to proving herself in her chosen career, and deeply wary of emotional attachments because of her parents’ abandonment. As tragic as Kendra’s life was, I think it gave her the strength to deal with being transported to 1815, where she’s the ultimate outlier. I think a person with a more normal upbringing would have been driven insane or reduced to a quivering ball of fear!

A murder in time

What is the mood or tone your characters portrays and how does this affect the story?

 There is a great deal of suspicion between Kendra and her nineteenth century counterparts, which adds to the tension. The Duke of Aldridge, Alec, and Sam Kelly are aware that Kendra lied about how she came to England. They have varying degrees of distrust. They also regard Kendra’s manners, speech patterns and behavior as peculiar, to say the least, but they put it down to her being an American. For her part, Kendra has a difficult time trusting them with her big secret, and that has her proceeding cautiously. And she worries about screwing up the space-time continuum, which is something she’s never had to worry about in her previous murder investigations for the FBI! She can’t help but be skeptical over this group’s contribution to the murder investigation. She was always more advanced than her peers, but with these people, she’s centuries more advanced. It’s not that she thinks she’s superior… but she kind of does. It will be a journey for her to reach a different conclusion.

 Who are your five top antagonist? What motivates them?

 Kendra’s father, Carl Donovan, is an early antagonist. He plays a small part in the overall story, but he is crucial in Kendra’s development as a human being. As a scientist, he prizes intellect above all else, and believes that Kendra stubbornly refused to live up to her potential. His black-and-white view always made Kendra feel unworthy, and therefore more determined to prove herself.

I consider Mrs. Danbury — the castle’s housekeeper — a wonderful antagonist. She’s like the Old Guard protecting the status quo. The world of aristocrats, servants, working class, and merchants is what she’s familiar with, and she finds Kendra’s bold behavior — her lack of deference to the hierarchy — to be bewildering and rather threatening.

I really don’t want to give away the murderer’s identity for someone who hasn’t read the book, so I will put the following men in the antagonist category, with Kendra bumping heads with each of them. Alec’s brother, Gabriel, is a self-pitying alcoholic. Mr. Harris is the youngest son of an earl, who was appointed the village vicar, a station that he thinks is beneath him. Mr. Morland lives in a nearby estate and is the local magistrate, whose chauvinistic attitude towards Kendra is typical of the era. Mr. Dalton is a former surgeon, who inherited a nearby estate, and is insulted to be considered a suspect in Kendra’s investigation. Finally, Captain Harcourt is Gabriel’s friend, and is hunting for an heiress to replenish his funds. All of these men are motivated to keep their secrets from coming to light. Of course, no one is more motivated than the murderer!

 What inspired you for your main character to be an FBI agent?

 I really wanted Kendra to be in some type of law enforcement. She needed to have a specialized skill set — the ability to read a crime scene, to understand criminal behavior, and to be able to defend herself. Being an FBI agent was very organic to the story, which involves a serial killer. But it also felt right, given Kendra’s background. Her parents are driven, ambitious scientists who are at the top of their field. While Kendra chose a different path, which led to a chasm between her and her parents, she is as ambitious and determined to prove herself, and wants to be at the top of her field. Being the youngest agent ever accepted by the Bureau certainly put her on that path!

 Why did you choose 1815 for the period Kendra falls back in time too?

 I’ve always found this period in history to be utterly fascinating. It parallels our own era in so many ways. The war with Napoleon had just ended and the Industrial Revolution was just beginning. New machines were taking away jobs, creating a lot of simmering tensions between the haves and have nots. It was a time of contrasts — with great wealth on one side, and terrible poverty on the other; a silliness in its celebrity culture and yet a seriousness in the political upheaval. Of course, I’m also a big Jane Austen fan, and have enjoyed reading romances set during this era… I just wanted to write a mystery that actually had a modern day heroine — sort of Jane Austen meets Criminal Minds.

Does Aldridge Castle really exist?

 No, but I’ve traveled throughout England, Scotland and Ireland, and one of my favorite things to do is tour old castles and great estates. Aldridge Castle is an amalgam of many of the fantastic places that I’ve visited, including Dublin Castle, Kensington Palace and Leeds Castle, just to name a few.

 How much research went into your story?

 I did tons of research! I probably own every reference and history book on the time period. There are many wonderful blogs and websites by romance writers who specialize in the Regency era, which were invaluable. I also have a library of forensics books and police procedurals, and I did a lot delving into the subjects of quantum physics, wormholes, and string theory. This may be a piece of fiction, but it was important to me to be as accurate as possible.

What do you like most about writing a time travel story?

 I really liked the idea of taking a smart, modern person and tossing them back in time. We have a tendency to think that we’re so much more intelligent than our ancestors. But if you take away our modern inventions, just how smart are we? Would we be able to survive? Once my DSL went out, and I was forced to use dial-up to get on the Internet for about a week. That darned near killed me! I loved putting someone as clever as Kendra, as self-sufficient and independent, in a world that was totally alien to her, and watching how she would cope.

The time travel element also allowed me to offer dual viewpoints. Kendra was as much a puzzle and an oddity to her nineteenth century counterparts as they were to her. I liked being able to view the early nineteenth century through modern eyes, while at the same time, look at our own twenty-first century culture through the lens of the nineteenth century. We don’t blink an eye anymore at using profanity in casual conversation, but that would have shocked and appalled most people in 1815.

Time travel is pivotal to the plot, but this is not a science fiction story. Of course, Kendra thinks about the mechanics of time travel — how could she not? — but I’m more interested in the human element, on how we’ve changed as a people… and how we’ve stayed the same.

Will there be a sequel?

 It depends on how well A Murder In Time does, but I’m currently working on a sequel — so cross your fingers!

Who are your influences in writing?

I’m an avid reader, and am inspired by many authors. Some of my favorites are Karen Slaughter, Lisa Gardener, Tami Hoag, Tess Gerritsen, Nora Roberts, Dean Koontz, Lee Child, Ariana Franklin, Amanda Quick… the list goes on. I tend to be pretty eclectic in what I read, but I veer towards mysteries and thrillers. Let’s just say, I get motivated by anyone who can spin a good tale.

Where can readers buy your book?

 Barnes & Noble and independent bookstores, as well as online retailers like Amazon.

Links: 

Author Facebook Page

Pegasus Books

Thank you, Julie! 

 

Serpents in the Garden by Anna Belfrage

Serpents-in-the-Garden

Publication Date: March 1, 2014 SilverWood Books Formats: Ebook, Paperback

After years of hard work, Matthew and Alex Graham have created a thriving home in the Colony of Maryland. About time, in Alex’s opinion, after far too many adventures she is really looking forward to some well-deserved peace and quiet.

A futile hope, as it turns out. Things start to heat up when Jacob, the third Graham son, absconds from his apprenticeship to see the world – especially as Jacob leaves behind a girl whom he has wed in a most irregular fashion.

Then there’s the infected matter of the fellow time traveller Alex feels obliged to help – no matter the risk. Worst of all, one day Philip Burley and his brothers resurface after years of absence. As determined as ever to make Matthew pay for every perceived wrong – starting with the death of their youngest brother – the Burleys play out a complicated cat and mouse game, and Alex is thrown back into an existence where her heart is constantly in her mouth, convinced as she is that one day the Burleys will achieve their purpose.

Will the Burleys succeed? And if they do, will the Graham family survive the exacted price?

Serpents in the Garden is the fifth book in Anna Belfrage’s time slip series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.

Author Bio:

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Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does as yet not exists, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing and time-consuming interests, namely British History and writing. These days, Anna spends almost as much time writing and researching as she does working, which leaves little time for other important pursuits such as cooking and baking.

Anna Belfrage is the author of The Graham Saga – so far five of the total eight books have been published. Set in seventeenth century Scotland and Virginia/Maryland, The Graham Saga tell the story of Matthew and Alex, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him.

Links:

Serpents in the Garden

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Silverwood Books

A Newfound Land

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Silverwood Books

Kobo

Smashwords

Links to Anna’s websites

www.annabelfrage.com

http://annabelfrage.wordpress.com

My Guest, Author Anna Belfrage

Stephanie: Hello, Anna! Thank you for chatting with me today. It is always a pleasure and I am honored you have taken the time to visit with me again. With all the wonderful stories and articles you have written, you are one busy lady! I’m in the middle of reading your book, A Newfound Land and I’m enjoying it very much! The Grahams sure do keep you on your toes! Please tell your audience a little about your new book.

Anna: “A little about my new book” – you are a hoot, Stephanie! I have a problem abbreviating my books, but if I try, I’d say that A Newfound Land is a story about attempting to recreate yourself in a new land and realizing you can’t, as you are much more defined by your past than by the place you live in. It is also about the inherent conflicts between a 17th century man and a 20th century woman – as you know, Alex Graham is a time-traveler, having had the misfortune (or not, depending on what you think of Matthew) of being propelled three centuries backwards in time. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time…

Anyway, in A Newfound Land, the Graham family is struggling to set down roots in their new homeland, the Colony of Maryland. Religious strife forced them to leave Scotland behind, and while the life of a settler is harsh, Alex is hoping that life will become less fraught with conflict in their new home than it was in their old.

Things happen, as they say, and suddenly both Alex and Matthew have to confront spectres from their past. Old enmities blossom into new life, Matthew’s defense of the Native Americans make life-long enemies of the Burley brothers, and just like that Alex is yet again thrown into an existence that very much revolves around her fear that someone will kill her husband.

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Stephanie: What are some of the different challenges they face in America versus Scotland?

Anna: To start with, they have to settle land. Sometimes I think we have a very romanticized version of what it must have been like to ride out into unknown forests and attempt to create a home, a working farm. The sheer work involved was enormous, and while 17th century Scotland had little amenities compared to the present day and age, it was substantially more civilized than the Maryland hinterlands.

Further to this, we have the Native Americans – or Indians, as I call them in the book, just as the white settlers did. If you push people off their land, you cannot be surprised when they start to retaliate, and the threat of a native uprising was always there. In Maryland, things turned very nasty in the 1670’s, affecting Matthew’s and Alex’s life.

Then there was the isolation. Living out in the woods, with well over an hour’s ride to the closest neighbor, required that you be very self-sufficient. It also helped if you liked each other, as there was no other company to be had. Fortunately, Matthew and Alex do like each other. A lot.

Stephanie: How do Alex’s children adjust to the new world?

Anna: Having experienced what it is like to move around to various parts of the globe as a child, I can tell you that as long as there’s a mother and a father around, most children have no problem in adapting to new circumstances. If anything, they have it much easier than the adults, being unburdened with such emotions as nostalgia and homesickness.

Stephanie: That is true!

What is the research that was involved for this book? What have you learned about America that maybe you didn’t know before?

Anna: Well, I obviously learned a lot about the Susquehannock – much more than I knew before, but still very little, as the tribe left very few traces of their existence. My Qaachow, the Susquehannock chief that befriends Matthew and Alex, is a homage to a people that no longer is, but that once were, a powerful tribe that controlled a large part of northern Maryland into Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Then I had the pleasure of learning more about present day Annapolis, founded in the 1650’s by Puritans fleeing persecution in Virginia and at the time named Providence, which is the name I use throughout the book. I believe, you see, that the original Puritan settlers would prefer holding on to this name rather than that of Anne Arundel’s City, which was its official name. Not a name that would go down well with Puritans, as Anne Arundel was Catholic.

Stephanie: Why did you choose Maryland as the colony they moved too?

Anna: Maryland has the proud distinction of being the first place in the world that implemented an Act of Toleration.(One could argue the Muslim kingdoms in Spain were as – if not more – tolerant, but their tolerance came at a price, as Jews and Christians paid extra taxes to be allowed to practice their faiths) Maryland’s Act of Toleration was restricted to Trinitarian faiths – i.e. to such faiths that believed in Jesus Christ, and it was expressly forbidden, under pain of death, to question Jesus’ divinity. Not much of an Act of Toleration, you might think, but if you set it into context (a century marked by religious strife, where Catholics were persecuted in some countries, Protestants in others, and Puritans in very many) it is a remarkably foresighted piece of legislation, brought into place by Lord Calvert, who was a Catholic grandee that owned the colony outright. Maryland’s Act of Toleration is in many ways a precursor to the First Amendment in the American Constitution. In a world full of religious strife, it was an innovative attempt to heal rather than breach.

So when Matthew was obliged to flee his home country due to religious issues, Maryland would have seemed a good choice. Virginia was not an option, being fiercely Anglican (and Matthew would no more return to Virginia than he would have amputated his foot, having spent several humiliating months as a slave on a plantation), Massachusetts was far too Puritan, even for Matthew (who also had to consider his opinionated and vociferous wife) and besides, he had a friend in Maryland, Thomas Leslie.

Stephanie: Can you give us some background information on the Susquehannock Indians? A without giving too much away, their role in the story?

Anna: To write a novel set in Colonial America and gloss over the consequences of white man’s arrival to the original inhabitants would be to misrepresent history. In the area where Matthew and Alex make their home, the Susquehannock used to reign supreme, so of course this was the tribe they would encounter.
In general, the story of the Susquehannock follows the depressing pattern of what happened to very many of the indigenous tribes in the wake of European colonization, both in North and South America.
Upon the arrival of white man, the Susquehannock controlled most of the region round the upper parts of Chesapeake Bay. The Susquehannock welcomed the settlers and traded with them, but inevitably tension spread as the new arrivals claimed more and more land. Despite this, the relationship with the Susquehannock remained amicable – until the Indian wars of the 1670’s, when the Susquehannock were dragged into the conflict between the Powhatan and the Virginia settlers.
The colonist militia made no difference between Susquehannock and Powhatan: an Indian was an Indian, full stop. On one occasion, a band of militia snuck upon a group of unsuspecting Susquehannock and murdered them all in their sleep, and after that the previously good relationship deteriorated into open war.
Today, the Susquehannock are no more. Decimated by epidemics and forced to flee their homelands in the conflicts of the 1670’s, many of them joined the Mohawk. A small group of Susquehannock Indians settled in Conestoga Town in Pennsylvania and survived into the 18th century, but were brutally massacred in 1763 by the Paxton Boys in the aftermath of the French and Indian Wars. One of the little boys killed was called Qaachow, which is how my Susquehannock chief got his name.

In A Newfound Land, Qaachow and his tribe befriend Matthew and Alex, and a tenuous relationship is established whereby Matthew will keep Qaachow’s back and vice versa. I wanted there to be personal feelings involved and invested when Matthew interceded on behalf of the Indian women he saves from abduction. Why? Well, it will become clear as the Graham saga proceeds.

Stephanie: Matthew, never ceases to amaze me. He is always finding himself in danger. He is quite the character. What are his weaknesses and strengths in this story?

Anna: Well, in my book, Matthew has very few weaknesses.
“Hmph!” snorts Alex. “And what about that soft spot he has for rabid preachers, hey?” Yes, she does have a point. Matthew’s somewhat over-tender conscience sometimes leads him into the company of narrow-minded little bigots, such as Richard Campbell, and this, I suppose, is a weakness, as is his desire to revenge himself on Dominic Jones, the overseer who treated him so badly all those years ago on a plantation in Virginia.
Another little weakness – at least according to Alex – is his continued affection for Kate Jones, Dominic’s wife. Alex drowns in bright green jealousy whenever she sees this elegant and attractive woman anywhere near her husband – and even worse, Alex can understand what Matthew sees in her, given that Alex finds Kate quite likeable too.

His strengths are manifold; integrity, perseverance, courage – and a big heart, large enough to accommodate his sizeable brood of children and his wife, whom he loves to the point of distraction. A good fighter, an excellent shot, he is also intelligent, steadfast and generally good at keeping his temper in check, although his wife can at times rile him to the point where his rage boils over.
Mostly, though, I like his tenderness. Not a man given to grand gestures or endearments, Matthew loves quietly, patiently – well, except when the passion he feels for his wife surges through his veins, scorching him, but even then, he is mostly gentle.
Stephanie: Will there be a fifth book in this fantastic series?

Anna: Thank you for the compliment, dear Stephanie! There will be four more books in the series, all of them written, all of them planned for publication. And when the eighth is published I’m going to crawl up in an armchair and cry my eyes out, because how am I to survive without writing (or re-writing) new anecdotes from Matthew’s and Alex’s life?

Stephanie: Where in your home is your favorite place to write?

Anna: At my desk, especially purchased for this purpose. It sits in a corner of our living room, which means I can submerge myself in my writing while still keeping a fond eye on my husband.
Stephanie: Coffee or tea?

Anna: Tea. Real tea, not that rooibos stuff. I like it black, I like it green, I like it iced but I never, ever take milk.

Stephanie: I like green tea as well, with two sugars, no milk. I especially need it while writing.

Where can readers buy your book?

Anna: Anywhere where books are sold, Stephanie. It’s available on Amazon, on Barnes & Noble, and a number of other e-retailers, plus in quite a few bookshops.

Stephanie: Thank you, Anna!! XX

Anna: Thank you for hosting me, Stephanie. It is always an honour to pop by Layered Pages.

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I was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Ideally, I aspired to becoming a pioneer time traveller, but science has as yet not advanced to the point of making that possible. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred.

I was always going to be a writer. Now I am – I have achieved my dream.