Book Tour: Tho I Be Mute by Heather Miller #historicalfiction @HMHFR

Book Title: ‘Tho I Be Mute

Author: Heather Miller

Publication Date: 13th July 2021

Publisher: Defiance Press and Publishing

Page Length: 340 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

Home. Heritage. Legacy. Legend.

In 1818, Cherokee John Ridge seeks a young man’s education at the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Connecticut. While there, he is overcome with sickness yet finds solace and love with Sarah, the steward’s quiet daughter. Despite a two-year separation, family disapproval, defamatory editorials, and angry mobs, the couple marries in 1824.

Sarah reconciles her new family’s spirituality and her foundational Christianity. Although, Sarah’s nature defies her new family’s indifference to slavery. She befriends Honey, half-Cherokee and half-African, who becomes Sarah’s voice during John’s extended absences.

Once arriving on Cherokee land, John argues to hold the land of the Cherokees and that of his Creek neighbors from encroaching Georgian settlers. His success hinges upon his ability to temper his Cherokee pride with his knowledge of American law. Justice is not guaranteed.

Rich with allusions to Cherokee legends, ‘Tho I Be Mute speaks aloud; some voices are heard, some are ignored, some do not speak at all, compelling readers to listen to the story of a couple who heard the pleas of the Cherokee.

Buy Links:

Universal Amazon Link: https://books2read.com/u/mV6p5r

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tho-Be-Mute-Heather-Miller-ebook/dp/B08ZB276Y2

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Tho-Be-Mute-Heather-Miller-ebook/dp/B08ZB276Y2

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Tho-Be-Mute-Heather-Miller-ebook/dp/B08ZB276Y2

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Tho-Be-Mute-Heather-Miller-ebook/dp/B08ZB276Y2

Excerpt:

Chapter 1: Daughter of the Sun, Clarinda Ridge, daughter of John and Sarah Ridge

Storm clouds stole the last daylight while I removed my coat. In the sudden darkness, my hand reached for the cold pewter candle holder, topped with beeswax stick and wick. Carrying it to the wood-burning stove near the window, I pulled a twig from a thin broom, its usefulness long forgotten, and removed a switch, touching it to an ember in the banked fire. Smoke billowed into the cabin from the stove’s door. The switch sparked. I torched the candlewick in its man-made rest and returned to the wood-burning stove, dragging the chair behind me—the tree’s extension of my hand. Opening the stove door and loading the iron beast with oak, wood smoked, ignited. This weather premeditated more of its kind: a harsh, blowing fall that doused and chilled the bones of those left outside under tonight’s storm’s revenge.

I removed my leather shoes and woolen socks, stretching out my legs near the fire. Digaleni stirred and stood, expecting the stove’s radiant heat. He stretched his hind legs, extending his hindquarters high as his ears weighed his head low. He slunk for a scratch behind his namesake—Digaleni, ears in English—and sank low in front of the stove. I propped my feet atop his shoulder blades, both of us content to remain for the upcoming hours of this full moon’s rebellious storm.

Anxious rain pelted the roof with innumerable drops. Water collected in an old iron pot from a small hole in the roof where the oak’s branches grew through weaker boards. Neither limb nor rain intruded, was only a welcomed, accustomed guest. Like two people sitting with their backs together, my home and oak tree held one another upright.

I grabbed a spool and my hoop from Momma’s sewing box beside my chair. Using my teeth to separate a strand, I licked the thread to make it straight and held the needle steady to weave the cotton thread through the eye. With the muslin-covered hoop angled in my lap, I stitched from practice and skill. With continued minute and deliberate gestures, a border formed with each stitch. Then, with keen eyes, I rethreaded the needle. This time, instead of thread, I used a strand of my hair, licking the end before threading the eye.

From here, I sewed with my eyes closed, each stitch guided by touch alone. The door rattled against the wind. Not hearing, I sewed one petal of the incomplete moonflower. I must complete this task tonight. Opening my eyes, I saw the shape of the full bloom, filling with my hair, sewn by my fingers. I continued to the next. 

Digaleni stood with a slow-rumbled woof to the door while I sewed and prayed to the Great Spirit for an hour longer. The rain beat and blew. With one last elaborate pull and knot, the poisonous moonflower was complete but starkly different from the one between the pages. It contrasted in color from the bloom, as do I, with my blood from two nations. 

From exhaustion, the rain ceased its tantrum. The moon looked peacefully again upon the Earth. While the Thunder Brother, the one that lost the game, growled and rumbled with resignation from the far side of the mountain. I moved to my bed and dreamt of bird spirits who lost their wings and transformed into great white snakes.

Daylight found my eyes in the eastern sky’s morning haze. It turned colder. Digaleni pawed beside the door as I rubbed my eyes against the day’s masked sun. I moved first to sit and then to stand and walked to lift the latch. Digaleni bounded down the steps and pawed at the grassy ground. I could not see what he sought. Then, his body contorted and limped away, darkened within my standing shadow. He fell on his side, curled, and did not move again. With hurried steps, I reached for him. The rattler struck, jaws spread wide, clamping onto my outstretched forearm. I gasped with escaping breath—soundless. 

Poison seeped into my blood. My eyes clouded as I fell. My body spilled down the stairs. The snake slithered across my tousled strands into the grass. Having completed his quest, he rattled in triumph. Continuous ticks pulsed in time with my failing heart. Owl’s wings shuttered, and he flew northward.

About the Author

Heather Miller

As an English educator, Heather Miller has spent twenty-three years teaching her students the author’s craft. Now, she is writing it herself, hearing voices from the past.

Miller’s foundation began in the theatre, through performance storytelling. She can tap dance, stage-slap someone, and sing every note from Les Misérables. Her favorite role is that of a fireman’s wife and mom to three: a trumpet player, a future civil engineer, and a future RN. There is only one English major in her house.

While researching, writing, and teaching, she is also working towards her M FA in Creative Writing. Heather’s corndog-shaped dachshund, Sadie, deserves an honorary degree.

Social Media Links:

Website: https://heathermillerauthor.com/home/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HMHFR

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HMillerAuthor

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/heather-miller-896627208/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hmillerauthor/

Pinterest: https://pin.it/26kOsvl

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/tho-i-be-mute-by-heather-miller

Guest Post: Ariadne Unraveled by Zenobia Neil #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalFantasy #AncientGreece @ZenobiaNeil @maryanneyarde

Ariadne Unraveled by Zenobia Neil

Publication Date: July 7, 2021

Publisher: Hypatia Books

Page Length: 345 pages

Genre: Mythic retelling/Historical Romance

Ariadne, high priestess of Crete, grew up duty-bound to the goddess Artemis. If she takes a husband, she must sacrifice him to her goddess after no more than three years of marriage. For this reason, she refuses to love any man, until a mysterious stranger arrives on her island.

The stranger is Dionysus, the new god of wine who empowers women and breaks the rules of the old gods. He came to Crete seeking vengeance against Artemis. He never expected to fall in love.

Furious that Dionysus would dare meddle with her high priestess, Artemis threatens to kill Ariadne if Dionysus doesn’t abandon her. Heartbroken, the new god leaves Crete, vowing to become better than the Olympians.

From the bloody labyrinth and the shadows of Hades to the halls of Olympus, Dionysus must find a way to defy Artemis and unite with his true love. Forced to betray her people, Ariadne discovers her own power to choose between the goddess she pledged herself to and the god she loves.

Buy Links:

Universal Amazon Link: https://books2read.com/u/bwolxG

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09647R6CF

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09647R6CF

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B09647R6CF

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B09647R6CF

From the Author…

We’ve all heard that history is told by the victors, but it took me a while to realize that this applies to the ancient world and Greek mythology as well.

I’ve long been fascinated by the Minoans, Crete and the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, though I always had questions about it. The myth goes that Minos, a son of Zeus, was given a beautiful white bull as acknowledgement that he was king. Minos was so in awe of this beautiful bull that instead of sacrificing it, he put it among his own bulls and sacrificed another in its place. In anger, Poseidon made Minos’s wife Pasiphae lust after the bull. She got the famous engineer Daedalus to make a wooden cow that she could hide inside… and nine months later the Minotaur was born.

This story has always been strange and disturbing. Years ago I joined an amazing Facebook group that focuses on Modern Minoan Paganism—a testament to how powerful Minoan culture is. At some point, a member mentioned how this story of Pasiphae, queen of Crete, lusting after a bull was a great story to tell about one’s enemy. What a way for a patriarchal culture like Athens to insult a powerful witch-queen than to say she lusted after the bull and bore a monster. What a fantastic story to tell that the monster demanded the sacrifice of Athenian youths, and that the cultural hero Theseus was the one to kill the monster and free Athens from this horrible blood sacrifice.

What better way to slander one’s enemy than to tell this story and to have it be believed and recorded thousands of years later? I was inspired by this idea because I’ve always been interested at looking at history from different perspectives. We currently think of Crete as part of Greece, but Minoan civilization was its own culture for a very long time.

I’ve always been interested in Dionysus and the conflicting myths about his origins. About five years ago, I read Bacchus: A Biography by Andrew Dalby. In my other novels about the ancient world, I’ve made a few jokes about how all children with unknown fathers are said to be the children of gods. Andrew Dalby recounts how Dionysus’s mother Semele was impregnated by Zeus. The story I had always heard is that Semele was tricked by Hera in disguise to ask Zeus to give her a promise. Once he promised, Semele asked him to show himself in his true form. Zeus begged her not to, knowing seeing his essence would kill her. But Semele insisted and even though Zeus tried to show only the slightest bit of himself, she was incinerated. Zeus scooped the essence of Dionysus up, tore open his thigh and carried the baby to term.

What I didn’t know until I read Dalby’s book is that there was another story that Semele, pregnant by a palace slave, claimed Zeus was the father. When lightning struck her bedroom, everyone thought it was divine retribution for her lies. I began to imagine a young Dionysus, unsure of his godhood. Unsure of what kind of god he wanted to be.

My latest novel Ariadne Unraveled: A Mythic Retelling is a look at the conflicting myths of Ariadne and Dionysus, but it’s also a kind of coming-of-age story for Dionysus. Dionysus is the last god to become an Olympian and the only Olympian who is a demi-god. This gives him a rare opportunity to be different from the other Olympians.

Another huge inspiration for me to write Ariadne Unraveled was to reimagine Ariadne herself. She is often mentioned as a sidenote in Theseus’s story. She is portrayed as a pawn—a princess who falls in love with a stranger who is her father’s enemy. She helps Theseus kill her half-brother the Minotaur.

In most versions of the myth, Daedalus, is the one who gives Ariadne the thread to help Theseus escape the labyrinth. Ariadne has no agency and no motivations for the things she does. Then, after sacrificing everything for the Athenian hero, he abandons her on Naxos.

Some myths say that Athena told Theseus to abandon her or that Dionysus came to him in a dream and claimed Ariadne for himself. In all the myths Ariadne is nothing more than a girl, a daughter of the king, the lover of the hero, the wife of the god. I wanted to give her back the power a Minoan priestess would have possessed. I wanted to tell a Greek myth from a Minoan perspective. And I wanted to re-empower women in the ancient world and depict Minoan culture not as a patriarchy as we often see in the Hellenistic world, but as a culture where women have freedom and Ariadne had her own motivation and strength. I was inspired to write Ariadne Unraveled to tell a story that was written by the victors from the other side and give a mythical woman back her power.

About the Author

Zenobia Neil was named after an ancient warrior queen who fought against the Romans. She writes historical romance about the mythic past and Greek and Roman gods having too much fun. Visit her at ZenobiaNeil.com

Social Media Links:

Website: www.zenobianeil.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ZenobiaNeil

Facebook: www.facebook.com/zenobianeilauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zenobia.neil/?hl=en

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/zenobianeil 

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/zenobia-neil

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Zenobia-Neil/e/B01KY86Q46

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15661007.Zenobia_Neil

Book Tour: The Anarchy (Conquest) by Tracey Warr #HistoricalFiction #Medieval @TraceyWarr1 maryanneyarde

Book Title: The Anarchy

Series: Conquest, Book 3

Author: Tracey Warr

Publication Date: 2nd June 2020

Publisher: Impress Books

Page Length: 218 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/ Historical Romance

Unhappily married to Stephen de Marais, the Welsh princess, Nest, becomes increasingly embroiled in her countrymen’s resistance to the Norman occupation of her family lands. She plans to visit King Henry in the hope of securing a life away from her unwanted husband, but grieving for the loss of his son, the King is obsessed with relics and prophecies.

Meanwhile, Haith tries to avoid the reality that Nest is married to another man by distracting himself with the mystery of the shipwreck in which the King’s heir drowned. As Haith pieces together fragments of the tragedy, he discovers a chest full of secrets, but will the revelations bring a culprit to light and aid the grieving King?

Will the two lovers be united as Nest fights for independence and Haith struggles to protect King Henry?

Buy Links:

Universal Links:

The Daughter of the Last King (Book 1) – https://geni.us/LPF1

The Drowned Court (Book 2) – https://geni.us/ddAFsas

The Anarchy (Book 3) – https://geni.us/274ZX

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Conquest-Anarchy-Trilogy-3/dp/1911293109

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Conquest-Anarchy-Tracey-Warr-ebook/dp/B087NFP6WD/

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Conquest-Anarchy-Tracey-Warr-ebook/dp/B087NFP6WD/

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Conquest-Anarchy-Tracey-Warr-ebook/dp/B087NFP6WD/

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/conquest-iii-the-anarchy-tracey-warr/1137022979

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-anarchy-conquest-3/tracey-warr/9781911293439

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/conquest-iii-the-anarchy

BookShop.org: https://uk.bookshop.org/books/the-anarchy-conquest-3/9781911293439

Excerpt:

Tracey Warr, Conquest III: The Anarchy, Impress Books, 2020

Chapter 9

Reunion

We were all up with the lark in the morning but so was the rest of the household and a great deal of clattering and neighing broke through the swirling morning mist that lifted and lowered around the castle courtyard in waves. The air was damp and Amelina forecast more rain. Readying to dress me, she laid out an oiled riding cloak and heavy boots. She would remain at the castle and wait for my return, but I asked Ida to accompany me and keep her face well concealed. ‘It’s too dangerous,’ she gasped.

‘I have a notion,’ I told her as we stood at the window watching Breri leave to continue his journey into Wales. Through the swirling mist, we glimpsed his flamboyant hat and his back, as he swayed in the saddle, disappearing down the road.

‘I have an idea about this threat.’ In response to her inquisitive glance, I continued. ‘While Breri is in Pembroke, you are at great risk in Wales. I’m thinking you might be safer at Henry’s court for a while.’

‘What are you talking about, Nest!’

‘Henry would not betray you to the Church. I assure you that he will find the notion of a renegade nun a great amusement, and he was very grateful to you for nursing him through his sickness before.’

Ida’s expression showed her hesitation at my idea. ‘But then, I would have to leave you.’

‘Not for ever, just until we are sure that Breri is no threat.’

‘I believe Breri would have no compunction in betraying me for a handful of coin.’

‘Whereas the king would protect you.’

‘I don’t know, Nest.’

‘I have two motives, I confess. I think the king needs you, Ida. I was a little concerned at his speech last night on prophecies of death and births. Perhaps you could help keep him stable, keep him well?’

She nodded, but her face showed her reluctance and anxiety at the risk we would run in exposing her situation to the king.

Amelina’s prediction was true, and we rode for half an hour through sheets of cold rain that blustered at our cloaks, penetrated beneath the brims of our hats and under our collars, slid wet fingers inside the tops of our boots. ‘You’ll be regretting this, Nest!’ Henry laughed.

‘I hope not, sire.’ First, I saw the long, curving line of the grey wall of the deer park running far across the fields, as far as the eye could see. We trotted through the gateway into the park and the trees gave us some respite from the downpour. Then, the hunting lodge came into view through the trees. Halting before the lodge, two of the king’s men came to help Ida and me dismount. We ran for the shelter of the door. ‘Stay close to me,’ I told Ida in a low voice.

‘Come in, Nest, and ….’ Henry turned, holding his hand out to me. Ida stood close behind me with her face swathed in a veil. He stopped mid-sentence at the sight of her, thinking that I had come alone, perplexed that my chaperone persisted in accompanying me even into private conversation with him. I pulled her fully into his chamber and closed the door behind us. The king had already discarded his sopping cloak and Ida and I followed suit. Then Ida slowly removed the veil that was moulded wet to the contours of her face.

‘Sister Benedicta … Haith’s sister,’ Henry said slowly.

‘Yes.’ She cast her eyes to the ground and Henry looked at me bewildered.

‘You are a long way from Fontevraud.’ I saw his eyes roving over her clothing. ‘And from your nun’s habit.’

‘Sister Benedicta is known as Ida de Bruges now,’ I told Henry. He opened his eyes wide to me and then to her, but she only glanced briefly at him, her face flushed. ‘She has temporarily left … she is on an extended pilgrimage.’

‘I see.’ Henry’s voice was loaded with amusement. I was relieved to find that my prediction about his reaction was correct.

‘Henry, I have two favours to ask of you.’ I spoke quickly.

‘Ask away.’ He was chuckling openly now at Ida.

‘Would you keep Ida with you, in your court for a while, and safeguard her. She is at risk of exposure as a runaway nun, and I want to protect her from that.’

‘I would, certainly,’ he assented warmly. ‘I owe her a great deal.’

Ida thanked him quietly.

‘And would you sign my charter and ask witnesses for it from your household members breaking fast in the next room.’

He narrowed his eyes, distracted for a moment from his amusement at Ida’s renegade status. ‘Hmm. You wish to be away from your husband, Nest?’

I did not respond. ‘Very well. It is the least I can do for you, my beloved.’ He took my hand and I let him.

‘I would have it in writing,’ I persisted.

He rummaged in the saddle bag that he had brought in with him and produced my rolled charter. He unrolled it on the table, weighting it at either end with two stones that were left on the table for just such a purpose. He read it through again, and looked up at us both, his eyes glinting with humour. He took a few steps to the door, opened it a crack and called out, ‘Give me a stylus, quick.’ He closed the door and returned, stylus in hand to stare again at my charter spread out on the table.

 ‘Was it a man?’ he asked Ida, without looking up from his perusal of my charter.

Ida kept her lips tightly pressed together and her gaze directed at her feet.

He signed the charter with a flourish. ‘My scribe will see this witnessed for you, Nest, and sealed with the royal seal.’ Now he looked up. ‘I have no doubt it was a man,’ he said to Ida, smiling delightedly at us both, and holding the charter out to me.

Author Bio:

Tracey Warr (1958- ) was born in London and lives in the UK and France. Her first historical novel, Almodis the Peaceweaver (Impress, 2011) is set in 11th century France and Spain and is a fictionalised account of the true story of the Occitan female lord, Almodis de la Marche, who was Countess of Toulouse and Barcelona. It was shortlisted for the Impress Prize for New Fiction and the Rome Film Festival Books Initiative and won a Santander Research Award. Her second novel, The Viking Hostage, set in 10th century France and Wales, was published by Impress Books in 2014 and topped the Amazon Australia charts. Her Conquest trilogy, Daughter of the Last King, The Drowned Court, and The Anarchy recount the story of a Welsh noblewoman caught up in the struggle between the Welsh and the Normans in the 12th century. She was awarded a Literature Wales Writers Bursary. Her writing is a weave of researched history and imagined stories in the gaps in history.

Tracey Warr studied English at University of Hull and Oxford University, gaining a BA (Hons) and MPhil. She worked at the Arts Council, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Chatto & Windus Publishers, and edited Poetry Review magazine with Mick Imlah. She also publishes art writing on contemporary artists, and in 2016 she published a future fiction novella, Meanda, in English and French, as part of the art project, Exoplanet Lot. She recently published a series of three books, The Water Age, which are future fiction and art and writing workshop books – one for adults and one for children – on the topic of water in the future. She gained a PhD in Art History in 2007 and was Guest Professor at Bauhaus University and Senior Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University and Dartington College of Arts. Her published books on contemporary art include The Artist’s Body (Phaidon, 2000), Remote Performances in Nature and Architecture (Routledge, 2015) and The Midden (Garret, 2018). She gained an MA in Creative Writing at University of Wales Trinity St David in 2011. She is Head of Research at Dartington Trust and teaches on MA Poetics of Imagination for Dartington Arts School.

Social Media Links:

Website: https://traceywarrwriting.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TraceyWarr1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/traceywarrhistoricalwriting/

LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/traceywarr

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tracey.warr.9/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tracey-Warr/e/B0053YDVPE

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/series/192570-conquest

Book Tour: Sigurd’s Swords by Eric Schumacher #HistoricalFiction #Vikings #KindleUnlimited @darkagescribe @maryanneyarde

From best-selling historical fiction novelist, Eric Schumacher, comes the second volume in Olaf’s Saga: the adrenaline-charged story of Olaf Tryggvason and his adventures in the kingdom of the Rus.

AD 968. It has been ten summers since the noble sons of the North, Olaf and Torgil, were driven from their homeland by the treachery of the Norse king, Harald Eriksson. Having then escaped the horrors of slavery in Estland, they now fight among the Rus in the company of Olaf’s uncle, Sigurd. 

It will be some of the bloodiest years in Rus history. The Grand Prince, Sviatoslav, is hungry for land, riches, and power, but his unending campaigns are leaving the corpses of thousands in their wakes. From the siege of Konugard to the battlefields of ancient Bulgaria, Olaf and Torgil struggle to stay alive in Sigurd’s Swords, the riveting sequel to Forged by Iron

Tour Schedule:

Follow the tour: https://www.coffeepotbookclub.com/post/blog-tour-sigurd-s-swords-olaf-s-saga-book-2-by-eric-schumacher-june-28th-july-9th-2021

Buy Links:

Is your book on Kindle Unlimited? Yes

Pre-order link

http://mybook.to/sigurdsswords

EXCERPT

Chapter 12

We turned our prows to steer board and headed for the docks below the fort. Though the sun had not yet risen, the garrison and people who lived in or near the fort came to greet our ships, for many were wives and kin to the warriors who had just returned. I knew their smiles and waves would die as soon as our ships touched land. Nearly half of our warriors had perished in the south, and there would be many families left without their menfolk that night.

As our hulls scraped land and we shipped our oars, the crowd settled into an uneasy silence. Families and friends scanned the ships with weary eyes for their loved ones. Most of our warriors did not wait to grab their things. They simply leaped from the ships and made their way into the crowd to end the suspense of those who waited. It was at once a tender and solemn affair, for seeing loved ones reunited warmed me, but seeing wives and children standing alone, searching, then eventually learning the hard truth, wrenched my gut. For them there was no comfort on that brittle night. There were only tears and memories.

To look upon them was too hard, and so I turned to Olaf, who stood beside me. But his gaze was fixed on something else — or I should say, someone else. I followed that gaze up the boarded path that led to the fortress, where a notable group of warriors and lords stood, looking down at us. They surrounded a young woman, and it was on her that Olaf’s eyes now focused. The entire group was dressed in dark cloaks and hats of fur. She, too, was wrapped in a thick cloak of fur. But unlike the others, her white-blond hair danced on the breeze in the wavering torchlight, giving her an almost ethereal aspect. 

I knew instantly who she was and punched Olaf’s shoulder. “Best not be caught ogling the prince’s bride-to-be.” Though I admit, I too was fascinated by her. Even from a distance, she was as mesmerizing as a flame.

Olaf smiled that mischievous smile of his. “Who is ogling? I was just curious.”

I rolled my eyes. “Curious in a leering sort of way.” I lowered my voice and looked about to ensure no one was listening. “Just mind yourself,” I warned.

Olaf brushed my warning aside with a wave of his hand and lifted his pack from his sea chest. “Take your ease, Torgil. I seek only good beer and hearty food, and mayhap the company of a warm woman. I will let the nobles have their own dealings. Come, we have earned our fun this night.” 

I looked at the milling crowd, then at the stark walls of the town, then back at Olaf’s mischievous smile. I envisioned myself in some tavern sipping beer, while he and the others bragged about their exploits and I struggled to stay awake, and the mere thought of it exhausted me. What I needed most was silence and comfort. “The night is gone,” I said. “Besides, I seek someone else.”

Now it was Olaf’s turn to roll his eyes. “Gods. You are about as fun as a rock.” He dismissed me with a snort. “If you find her, I wish you an evening like no other. If you change your mind, you know where to find me.”

I hefted my own pack, which carried my byrnie, helmet, and a few loose items, then I grabbed my shield from the port-side rack. “Watch yourself,” I said again as I leaped from the ship. 

I threaded my way through the growing crowd and headed north along the Volkhov, following the beach several hundred paces until I reached the tributary that turned east from the main river. There, at the intersection of the waterways, stood Sigurd’s hall. And there I froze, as nervous as if I were facing an army of Pechenegs, a hundred doubts accosting me at once. What would Turid think when she saw me? How would she react? Had I changed? Had she? Had she met someone else in my absence? The questions came at me unhindered, unabated, rapid-fire. They made my palms sweat and my stomach flutter. I had never been good with women, and here I was again, faltering. I cursed myself in an attempt to bolster my courage, but it did not work. Rather, it alerted the guard who walked nearby and whom I had not seen.

“Who is there?”

I raised my hands in surrender. “It is me, Oleg. Torgil Toralvsson.”

The man turned to me and a flash of light danced across his drawn blade. There was a smile on his wrinkled face. “Gods, you had me worried. I am getting too old for night fights.” He stepped closer and looked me up and down. “So Sigurd is home?” he asked.

“Aye,” I said. “He is. He and the men are at the fort.”

He sheathed his blade. “We heard rumors. Was it bad?”

“Aye, Oleg. It was.”

He beckoned me to him. “Come, lad. You are home.” There was that strange word again. I walked to him and he patted my back, ushering me forward.

Sigurd’s was a large estate, with a comfortable main hall in which he lived and entertained, a barracks for his men, a smithy, a larder, and a barn. Attached to the barn was a pen for his chickens, sheep, pigs, and two horses. Down near the water was a boathouse for Sea Snake and Sigurd’s two other ships. Service in the East had been kind to him.

“Head to the barracks and find yourself some warmth,” Oleg instructed. “The men are sleeping, so try to be quiet.” 

His words turned my mind to the ten men who had remained behind to guard Sigurd’s estate. Those lucky bastards were sleeping in their cots with full bellies and furs to warm them, and they were the last thing I wanted to see. I shook my head. “There is someone else I must see first.” Though it was night and I knew Oleg could not see my face very well, I blushed. “Is Turid in the main hall?”

“Oh,” he answered. I was about to explain myself when he waved me forward. “Come, then. Leave your things by the door. She sleeps in the first bed to the left as you enter. Mind your noise, now.” He winked at me. “And do not fall asleep. You know the rules. No warriors are to sleep in the main hall.”

I thanked him and deposited my things at the door, then entered the hall as quietly as I could. The door creaked as it swung open. I paused, letting the warmth seep into my skin as my eyes adjusted to the firelit interior and my nose to the smoke and body odor and must. Snores and heavy breathing and the crackling of burning logs filled the space. As silently as I could, I closed the door and moved to Turid’s bed. She lay curled in a ball with her face near the wall. Her fire-red hair was splayed across her shoulder and pillow. Gods, how peaceful she looked. My heart thundered as I sat carefully on the frame of her bed, then brushed my fingers against her shoulder. “Turid,” I whispered with my heart in my throat.

She rolled her head to me suddenly, a mixture of confusion and sleepiness on her freckled face. “Torgil?” she finally asked.

I smiled and whispered, “Aye.”

She sat up and wrapped her arms around my torso. I returned the hug, my nose close to her neck, and immersed myself in her scent. 

“I have missed you, Torgil,” she whispered fiercely.

I pulled back from her and studied her face. Those glacial eyes now filled with tears. That straight nose and prominent jaw and jutting chin. Those full lips and fair skin covered with freckles. “I have missed you too,” I whispered back, then looked away because her beauty left my cheeks searing hot and my body bereft of strength.

She lifted my furry chin with her finger and smiled gently. “From the rumors we heard, I feared I might never see you again.”

“And I, you,” I admitted softly. “It was good that you remained here.”

Suddenly her brows dipped and she looked beyond me, then back at me. “Where is Olaf?”

“He is at the fort. I came to see you.” My voice trailed off.

She lifted her blanket. “Come. Warm yourself.”

“Are you certain?” I knew what she had suffered at the hands of our Estland captors and did not want to break that barrier indelicately.

“Aye,” she whispered, holding the fur blanket open for me.

I shed my boots and slid under the furs beside her, aware of how much I must reek and hoping she did not care. She reached up and wrapped her arms around my torso. I closed my eyes, reveling in her touch and her scent, trying to ignore my ache for her. 

Her hand reached up and stroked my chest softly. “Rest now. You are home,” she breathed.

I sighed, relaxing into her warmth and into the peace I suddenly felt. Home.

“One day you must tell me of your adventure.” 

“I will,” I responded drowsily, trying to keep my weary mind from falling asleep.

It was the last thing I remembered. 

Author Bio

Eric Schumacher

Eric Schumacher (1968 – ) is an American historical novelist who currently resides in Santa Barbara, California, with his wife and two children. He was born and raised in Los Angeles and attended college at the University of San Diego.

At a very early age, Schumacher discovered his love for writing and medieval European history, as well as authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Those discoveries continue to fuel his imagination and influence the stories he tells. His first novel, God’s Hammer, was published in 2005.

Social Media Links:

Website: 

www.ericschumacher.net

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https://twitter.com/darkagescribe

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BookBub:

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/eric-schumacher

Amazon Author Page:

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Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/399517.Eric_Schumacher

Book Tour: Sisters at War by Clare Flynn #historicalfiction #WW2 @clarefly @maryanneyarde

Sisters at War

Clare Flynn

Publication Date: 1st May 2021

Publisher: Cranbrook Press

Page Length: 314 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

1940 Liverpool. The pressures of war threaten to tear apart two sisters traumatised by their father’s murder of their mother.

With her new husband, Will, a merchant seaman, deployed on dangerous Atlantic convoy missions, Hannah needs her younger sister Judith more than ever. But when Mussolini declares war on Britain, Judith’s Italian sweetheart, Paolo is imprisoned as an enemy alien, and Judith’s loyalties are divided.

Each sister wants only to be with the man she loves but, as the war progresses, tensions between them boil over, and they face an impossible decision.

A heart-wrenching page-turner about the everyday bravery of ordinary people during wartime. From heavily blitzed Liverpool to the terrors of the North Atlantic and the scorched plains of Australia, Sisters at War will bring tears to your eyes and joy to your heart.

Buy Links:

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/sistersatwar

Amazon UK: https://amazon.co.uk/dp/B08Z473XG2

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Sisters-War-wartime-voyage-across-ebook/dp/B08Z473XG2/

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Sisters-War-wartime-voyage-across-ebook/dp/B08Z473XG2

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Sisters-War-wartime-voyage-across-ebook/dp/B08Z473XG2/

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/sisters-at-war-1

Excerpt:

At some point his luck was going to run out. As a merchant seaman, Will Kidd was only too aware of the heavy losses sustained by merchant ships and yet, so far, he had come through the first months of the war with barely a sight of a German vessel. On the way south through the Bay of Biscay, towards Gibraltar, just two weeks ago, they had spotted the periscope of a submarine, only to find on closer inspection that it was a piece of driftwood. They had also identified a German warship off the south coast of Ireland but either it was running low on fuel and heading for home, unwilling for an encounter with a convoy, or somehow it failed to spot them. Either way, it sailed on without engaging. Such good fortune could not last forever.

This morning, Will was keeping watch as they headed back to England. The Christina was straggling along, heavily laden with cargo. Being low in the water, they’d been unable to sustain the eight knots the rest of the convoy were keeping to, and Captain Palmer had requested permission for them to continue alone. They were following a course as far from the Spanish and Portuguese coast as possible, as the risk of being sighted was less the further out to sea they were.

Will scanned the dark water around him with a practised eye, all too aware that somewhere out there, danger was lurking. The stretches closer to home were always the most perilous.

The Christina was an ageing tramp steamer. Will knew the ship like the back of his hand, having served on her between African ports before the war. The vessel was slow, cumbersome and would have been all too easily picked off trailing at the rear of the convoy. Better to take their chances alone, rather than slow the other ships down. But the problem of leaving the shelter of the convoy was that they only had a four-inch, low-angle gun, a relic from the last war. If a torpedo struck, they could be heading to the bottom of the sea before they had a chance to fire a shot back.

Night was falling. Will was near the end of his watch and looking forward to a few hours’ sleep. At first, he thought he saw a pod of dolphins, then realised it was moving much too fast – a line of bubbles crossing the bows from starboard to port. Grabbing the voice pipe, he sounded the alarm whistle and within moments Captain Palmer was beside him on the bridge.

‘Bring her about!’ Palmer ordered and the helmsman swung the ship through ninety degrees. The captain ordered them to increase speed but, even at full throttle, the Christina was too slow for a U-boat, even a submerged one whose speed would be constrained by battery power.

As the captain reached for the steam whistle to alert the rest of his sleeping crew, Will saw the unmistakable phosphorescent trail of a torpedo as it narrowly missed the Christina’s bow, closely followed by another.

‘Send an SSS with our coordinates,’ the captain instructed the radio operator.

The first officer appeared on the bridge. ‘Torpedo near miss off the stern.’

‘Turn her again. To port, hard about ninety degrees.’

The Christina turned again so that the stern of the ship faced the attacker. Will was astonished. Three torpedoes and none of them on target. He could barely believe their luck. It couldn’t hold out.

‘Full steam ahead.’ The captain was holding them on a steady course, hoping to put some distance between them before the U-boat fired another torpedo.

Will was the first to see the sub as it surfaced on the port side. He sent out an alarm as shells began raining down.

The radio officer was frantically sending out signals that they were under submarine attack; the Germans were targetting the ship’s aerial masts. The only gun, better suited to anti-aircraft defence, was little use at the angle required to fire at a surfaced submarine.

Palmer continued to steer the Christina on a random zigzag path, to make aiming as difficult as possible for the German vessel, aided by the cover of darkness.

But the shelling had only just begun. The Christina shook and groaned under the onslaught of fire from close range. Shells exploded everywhere across the decks.

Will looked at Captain Palmer, awaiting instructions.

‘Bastards.’ Palmer’s voice was grim. He grabbed the megaphone and gave the order.

‘Abandon ship.’

The booming of exploding torpedoes continued. Water rushed down the companion ways. Steam shot up as a boiler exploded. Torchlights cut through the blackness of the night.

Everything was happening so fast. Will staggered along the deck to supervise the lowering of the port lifeboat, under the constant bombardment from shellfire.

Looking back, he saw the captain flinging the confidential books overboard, consigning them to the depths, safe from German hands.

As the bosun climbed into the port lifeboat to ready it for lowering, a shell exploded on the deck beside them. Will watched in horror. The explosion killed the first officer instantly and sent the bosun and the lifeboat plunging headlong into the roiling sea. Blinding lights, confusion, noise, pitching back and forth. Will looked over the side but there was no sign of the bosun. Just a mess of shattered timber floating on the black void of the sea.

The Germans must have known that they were abandoning ship, yet the U-boat had fired regardless. Will and the rest of the crew followed Captain Palmer over to the other side where they managed to lower the starboard lifeboat and clamber on board, fumbling in the dark, lit only by torchlight. The waves crashed against the Christina and buffeted the lifeboat as it went into the water.

The boat moved away from the ship and the men watched as the German U-boat continued to hammer shells into the now-blazing hull of the Christina. It was sport – like throwing balls at a fairground coconut shy. Shattering. Blasting. On and on, remorselessly.

The pounding of the old girl was painful to the whole crew. A slow noisy torture. They sat huddled in the lifeboat surrounded by the cold sea, watching transfixed.

It took a full hour before the Christina gave a few earsplitting creaks, roaring like an animal in the jaws of a lion, before she finally succumbed and slipped beneath the waves. No one spoke. But there was a collective sigh as the vessel that had been their home disappeared.

The silence was broken by Captain Palmer reciting the Lord’s Prayer. Thinking of their two lost comrades, the men joined in or bowed their heads respectfully, regardless of their religious beliefs.

Its brutal task complete, the U-boat slid away into the darkness. The destruction of the Christina had been performed with complete disregard for human life or the terms of the Geneva Conventions. The men, drenched with salt water, shivering from cold and shock, began to sing to keep their spirits up, before hoisting sail.

Will exchanged looks with Captain Palmer. They were the longest-serving on the Christina. Will could imagine what Palmer must be going through having lost his ship as well as one of his three officers and a valued crew member. Whilst not the fastest or most elegant of vessels, the Christina had been home to them for a long time and both men had many memories.

The lifeboat limped along, through mercifully calmer seas, in what the compass indicated was towards the north-west coast of Spain. Will sent up a silent prayer of thanks that his life had been spared in his first encounter with the enemy. He would be seeing Hannah again soon.

Author Bio:

Clare Flynn is the author of thirteen historical novels and a collection of short stories. A former International Marketing Director and strategic management consultant, she is now a full-time writer.

Having lived and worked in London, Paris, Brussels, Milan and Sydney, home is now on the coast, in Sussex, England, where she can watch the sea from her windows. An avid traveler, her books are often set in exotic locations.

Clare is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of The Society of Authors, ALLi, and the Romantic Novelists Association. When not writing, she loves to read, quilt, paint and play the piano.

Social Media Links:

Website: https://clareflynn.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/clarefly

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorclareflynn

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Clare-Flynn/e/B008O4T2LC/

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Book Tour: Under the Light of the Italian Moon by Jennifer Anton #historicalfiction @boldwomanwrites @maryanneyarde

Book Title: Under the Light of the Italian Moon

Author: Jennifer Anton

Publication Date: 8th March 2021

Publisher: Amsterdam Publishers

Page Length: 394 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Biographical Fiction

A promise keeps them apart until WW2 threatens to destroy their love forever

Fonzaso Italy, between two wars

Nina Argenta doesn’t want the traditional life of a rural Italian woman. The daughter of a strong-willed midwife, she is determined to define her own destiny. But when her brother emigrates to America, she promises her mother to never leave.

When childhood friend Pietro Pante briefly returns to their mountain town, passion between them ignites while Mussolini forces political tensions to rise. Just as their romance deepens, Pietro must leave again for work in the coal mines of America. Nina is torn between joining him and her commitment to Italy and her mother.

As Mussolini’s fascists throw the country into chaos and Hitler’s Nazis terrorise their town, each day becomes a struggle to survive greater atrocities. A future with Pietro seems impossible when they lose contact and Nina’s dreams of a life together are threatened by Nazi occupation and an enemy she must face alone…

A gripping historical fiction novel, based on a true story and heartbreaking real events.

Spanning over two decades, Under the Light of the Italian Moon is an epic, emotional and triumphant tale of one woman’s incredible resilience during the rise of fascism and Italy’s collapse into WWII.

Buy Links:

Amazon: getbook.at/JAnton

Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/3n1nDqC​ 

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/under-the-light-of-the-italian-moon/jennifer-anton//9789493231009

Bookshop.org (U.S. only): https://bit.ly/3ofS39T

I am Books Boston: https://bit.ly/2Z0mWUO

Jennifer Anton

Jennifer Anton is an American/Italian dual citizen born in Joliet, Illinois and now lives between London and Lake Como, Italy. A proud advocate for women’s rights and equality, she hopes to rescue women’s stories from history, starting with her Italian family.

Social Media Links:

Website: www.boldwomanwriting.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/boldwomanwrites

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jenniferantonauthorpage

Instagram: www.instagram.com/boldwomanwriting

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/janton1468/_created/

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jennifer-anton

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Anton/e/B08RL6HBDN%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Goodreads: https://bit.ly/2XsHt3F

Youtube: https://bit.ly/3i9XvZA

Book Tour: Discerning Grace by Emma Lombard #historicalfiction #womensfiction @LombardEmma @maryanneyarde

Book Title: Discerning Grace

Series: The White Sails Series

Author: Emma Lombard

Publication Date: 22 February 2021

Page Length: 372 pages

Genre: Historical Women’s Fiction

As the first full-length novel in The White Sails Series, DISCERNING GRACE captures the spirit of an independent woman whose feminine lens blows the ordered patriarchal decks of a 19th century tall ship to smithereens.

Wilful Grace Baxter, will not marry old Lord Silverton with his salivary incontinence and dead-mouse stink. Discovering she is a pawn in an arrangement between slobbery Silverton and her calculating father, Grace is devastated when Silverton reveals his true callous nature.

Refusing this fate, Grace resolves to stow away. Heading to the docks, disguised as a lad to ease her escape, she encounters smooth-talking naval recruiter, Gilly, who lures her aboard HMS Discerning with promises of freedom and exploration in South America.

When Grace’s big mouth lands her bare-bottomed over a cannon for insubordination, her identity is exposed. The captain wants her back in London but his orders, to chart the icy archipelago of Tierra del Fuego, forbid it. Lieutenant Seamus Fitzwilliam gallantly offers to take Grace off the fretting captain’s hands by placing her under his protection.

Grace must now win over the crew she betrayed with her secret, while managing her feelings towards her taciturn protector, whose obstinate chivalry stifles her new-found independence. But when Grace disregards Lieutenant Fitzwilliam’s warnings about the dangers of the unexplored archipelago, it costs a friend his life and she realises she is not as free as she believes.

Buy Links:

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/discerning-grace

Author Bio

Emma Lombard

Emma Lombard was born in Pontefract in the UK. She grew up in Africa—calling Zimbabwe and South Africa home for a few years—before finally settling in Brisbane Australia, and raising four boys. Before she started writing historical fiction, she was a freelance editor in the corporate world, which was definitely not half as exciting as writing rollicking romantic adventures. Her characters are fearless seafarers, even though in real life Emma gets disastrously sea sick. Discerning Grace, is the first book in The White Sails Series.

To join the crew—subscribe to Emma’s newsletter: http://www.emmalombardauthor.com

Social Media Links:

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57177943-discerning-grace

Book Tour: The Queen’s Rival by Anne O’Brien #HistoricalFiction #Medieval #BlogTour #CoffeePotBookClub @anne_obrien @maryanneyarde

The Queen’s Rival

Anne O’Brien

England, 1459.

One family united by blood. Torn apart by war…

The Wars of the Roses storm through the country, and Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, plots to topple the weak-minded King Henry VI from the throne.

But when the Yorkists are defeated at the battle of Ludford Bridge, Cecily’s family flee and abandon her to face a marauding Lancastrian army on her own.

Stripped of her lands and imprisoned in Tonbridge Castle, the Duchess begins to spin a web of deceit. One that will eventually lead to treason, to the fall of King Henry VI, and to her eldest son being crowned King Edward IV.

Buy Links

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | Waterstones

Kobo | Audio | Blackwells | WHSmith

Author Bio

Anne O’Brien

Sunday Times Bestselling author Anne O’Brien was born in West Yorkshire. After gaining a BA Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Master’s in Education at Hull, she lived in East Yorkshire for many years as a teacher of history.

Today she has sold over 700,000 copies of her books medieval history novels in the UK and internationally. She lives with her husband in an eighteenth-century timber-framed cottage in the depths of the Welsh Marches in Herefordshire. The area provides endless inspiration for her novels which breathe life into the forgotten women of medieval history.



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