I originally created this blog to keep track of the books that I read throughout the year, but it has definitely become so much more for me! The title may say Historical Fiction Obsession, but I do read & review ALL genres of books. I am a lover of historical fiction & just reading in general!
Days of Sun and Glory (The King’s Greatest Enemy #2) by Anna Belfrage
Publication Date: July 4, 2016
Matador eBook & Paperback; 418 Pages
Series: The King's Greatest Enemy
Genre: Historical Fiction
Adam de Guirande has barely survived the aftermath of Roger Mortimer’s rebellion in 1321. When Mortimer manages to escape the Tower and flee to France, anyone who has ever served Mortimer becomes a potential traitor – at least in the eyes of King Edward II and his royal chancellor, Hugh Despenser. Adam must conduct a careful balancing act to keep himself and his family alive. Fortunately, he has two formidable allies: Queen Isabella and his wife, Kit. England late in 1323 is a place afflicted by fear. Now that the king’s greatest traitor, Roger Mortimer, has managed to evade royal justice, the king and his beloved Despenser see dissidents and rebels everywhere – among Mortimer’s former men, but also in the queen, Isabella of France. Their suspicions are not unfounded. Tired of being relegated to the background by the king’s grasping favourite, Isabella has decided it is time to act – to safeguard her own position, but also that of her son, Edward of Windsor. As Adam de Guirande has pledged himself to Prince Edward he is automatically drawn into the queen’s plans – whether he likes it or not. Yet again, Kit and Adam are forced to take part in a complicated game of intrigue and politics. Yet again, they risk their lives – and that of those they hold dear – as the king and Mortimer face off. Once again, England is plunged into war – and this time it will not end until either Despenser or Mortimer is dead. Days of Sun and Glory is the second in Anna Belfrage’s series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his lord, his king, and his wife.
I am absolutely in love with Anna Belfrage’s novel “Days of Sun & Glory”, which is the second book in The King’s Greatest Enemy Series. It is so well-written and researched, and completely reaches out and grabs and holds the reader’s attention. I wish I had been able to read the first book in the series prior to reading this one, because it’s obvious a lot of interesting adventures happened in that one as well! Although it is the second book in the series, I was able to read it as a standalone. The author did a great job of mentioning certain instances from the first book that helped to explain what was going on as I read the second.
Kit and Adam de Guirande are perfect. Perfect for each other, perfect foils for other characters in the book, and just perfectly written by an author who obviously put a lot of time and research into creating such an interesting pair. The action is pretty much non-stop throughout this book, and while the author uses creative license, she still sticks with historical figures and details that are specific to the time period. The way Despenser, Mortimer, Queen Isabella, and King Edward II are described really rang true to me. I feel like the author captured their personalities perfectly, and honestly, the way she described them is the way I have always pictured them to be like as I read other books of this time period.
I am already looking into getting the first novel in the series, and then any that follow. I also saw that Anna Belfrage has a series about a family called the Grahams, so I hope to get the first book in that series as well! I’m the type of reader who finds an author I really like, and then reads everything by them that I can get my hands on! This is one of those authors! I definitely recommend this novel/series to fans of historical fiction. It’s packed full of adventure, intrigue, romance, and betrayal, and definitely a page turner until the very end! Definitely a FIVE out of FIVE stars from me!
About the Author
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 interests, namely history and writing. These days, Anna combines an exciting day-job with a large family and her writing endeavours. When Anna fell in love with her future husband, she got Scotland as an extra, not because her husband is Scottish or has a predilection for kilts, but because his family fled Scotland due to religious persecution in the 17th century – and were related to the Stuarts. For a history buff like Anna, these little details made Future Husband all the more desirable, and sparked a permanent interest in the Scottish Covenanters, which is how Matthew Graham, protagonist of the acclaimed The Graham Saga, began to take shape. Set in 17th century Scotland and Virginia/Maryland, the series tells the story of Matthew and Alex, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him. With this heady blend of romance, adventure, high drama and historical accuracy, Anna hopes to entertain and captivate, and is more than thrilled when readers tell her just how much they love her books and her characters. Presently, Anna is hard at work with her next project, a series set in the 1320s featuring Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures and misfortunes in connection with Roger Mortimer’s rise to power. The King’s Greatest Enemy is a series where passion and drama play out against a complex political situation, where today’s traitor may be tomorrow’s hero, and the Wheel of Life never stops rolling. The first installment in the Adam and Kit story, In the Shadow of the Storm, was published in 2015. The second book, Days of Sun and Glory, will be published in July 2016. Other than on her website, www.annabelfrage.com, Anna can mostly be found on her blog, http://annabelfrage.wordpress.com – unless, of course, she is submerged in writing her next novel. You can also connect with Anna on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.
Malcolm MacHeth, one time Earl of Ross, languishes a prisoner in Roxburgh Castle while his sons raise rebellion in his name. Optimistically, the King of Scots promises the earldom of Ross to landless Norman knight, Sir William de Lanson, if he can somehow defeat the infamous MacHeths.
It wasn’t quite how William’s disgraced wife Christian dreamed of coming home. Capture by the strange and ferocious Adam MacHeth was hardly part of her plan either, although she and William quickly become pawns in his.
Adam, warrior and seer, fights for his father’s freedom and for his family’s right to claim the kingdom of the Scots. Plagued by waking dreams which threaten his sanity and his life, he’s learned to use his prophecies to further his family’s goals. But when he abducts his enemy’s lady, his dreams and his desires are suddenly more personal.
Surrounded by intrigue, ambition and betrayal, Christian must choose between loyalty and love in order to keep a fragile peace for her people and for the man she loves beyond all reason. Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo
Rebel of Ross by Mary Lancaster was an interesting look into Scotland during the early 12th century. The author did an amazing job of bringing this era to life for the reader, and obviously a lot of research was done. Of course, it probably helps that she is Scottish herself!
I admired the main female character, Christian de Lanson. She is in a loveless marriage, and has a facial disfigurement, but despite this, she is strong and passionate. She is captured by Adam MacHeth, who is on a mission to free his father, who has been imprisoned since he was very young, and then to help him take back Scotland’s throne. Adam and Christian end up having an inexplicable connection between one another, and fate keeps throwing them together time and again. They are obviously on opposite sides when it comes to who they are loyal to, so they have to find out which side they stand on if they are ever to find a way to be together.
I love the time period that this novel is set in. Not only am I a huge fan of novels about Scotland’s history, but I also try to read as much about England’s King Henry II as possible. The fact that this novel includes both elements grabbed my attention right away. The author did a great job of portraying the events and individuals of this specific time period, all while staying as true to history as possible. As it was so long ago, much of the history of this time is either lost or is very one-sided.
There are a lot of characters that have pretty large parts in this book, and at times it does get a little confusing, especially at the beginning. I was a bit lost in the first chapter or so. Once the action picked up, I was hooked, and ended up really enjoying it. I would definitely recommend it for historical fiction fans who enjoy a bit of a love story! I give it a FOUR out of FIVE stars!
About the AuthorMary Lancaster's first love was historical fiction. Since then she has grown to love coffee, chocolate, red wine and black and white films - simultaneously where possible. She hates housework.
As a direct consequence of the first love, she studied history at St. Andrews University, after which she worked variously as editorial assistant, researcher and librarian. Although she has always written stories for her own entertainment, she began to make serious efforts toward publication in order to distract herself from a job she disliked. She now writes full time at her seaside home in Scotland, which she shares with her husband and three children.
Mary is the author of three historical novels: An Endless Exile - the story of Hereward, 11th century outlaw hero A World to Win - a Scottish governess finds love in revolutionary Hungary A Prince to be Feared: the love story of Vlad Dracula
GiveawayTo enter the giveaway for a $25 Amazon Gift Card, please see the GLEAM form below.
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 26th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to internationally. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
Please join Richard Masefield as he tours the blogosphere for his novels The White Cross, Chalkhill Blue, Painted Lady, and Brimstone, from July 15-August 15.
Publication Date: April 30, 2014
Red Door Publishing Ltd
eBook & Paperback; 240 Pages
Genre: Historical Romance
From her luxurious mansion in St James’s, London, Milady looks back through the years – to hear the church bells ringing in celebration of Wellington’s great victory at Waterloo, at the time when she left clacking tongues behind her in the Sussex village of Alfriston for adventure and employment in fashionable Brighton, the ‘second capital of England’. There as the seventeen-year-old Sary Snudden, with her reputation already ruined, she becomes a prostitute, the ‘Painted Lady’ of the title. Yet even Regency conventions are to prove too narrow for a girl of Sary’s flamboyant character. Caught up in a passionate affair with young David Stanville, heir to Lord Southbourne’s great estate of Hadderton, she and her lover cross the Alps on a perilous journey by coach and sled to the excitement of a popular revolution in Turin and an erotically charged idyll in the Italian lakes. But the question of how she’ll cross the greater gulf, which lies between her humble origins and the noble status David seeks for her, remains the central problem of Milady’s life. Moving from the great military encampments of Napoleonic Sussex to the pleasure grounds of nineteenth century Europe, from the practical routines of a well-run brothel, to the elegant manners of St James’s, Painted Lady spans a colourful half-century of European history. A delightful, romping adventure, the novel introduces an unforgettable new heroine to historical fiction.
The novel, Painted Lady by Richard Masefield was an interesting adventure through Regency England, as well as through different social classes. As an older women, the main character looks back on her life, and tells the story of her adventures in life and love. Her story shows what a strong and resilient woman she is, and how she paved her own road in life, and climbed the ladder in society during a time when being a prostitute was a hopeless and dreary existence. The love story within the novel is passionate and exciting, and the reader truly is hopeful that despite the huge social gap between them, they will somehow find a way to end up together. Her story takes the reader through regency London and Brighton, and then on to cross the Alps, and through Northern Italy.
I enjoyed reading this novel, but I admit that it started out a little slowly for me. I’m glad that I kept going, because I did end up really enjoying it. Also, the main character, known both as Milady (when she is older) and Sary (when she was a young prostitute), was very likeable. The fact that she is the narrator of her own story really gives the reader an inside look at her thoughts and feelings during her life. I wouldn’t say that this is one of the best historical fiction novels that you’ll ever read, but it’s enjoyable, and it will keep you entertained for sure! It’s definitely worth picking up to read!
I give Painted Lady a FOUR out of FIVE stars!
The White Cross
Publication Date: September 24, 2014
Red Door Publishing Ltd eBook & Paperback; 496 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
The White Cross is a whole new reading experience; a book that brings something entirely original to historical fiction. Set in the late twelfth century at the time of King Richard I’s crusade to win back Jerusalem from the Saracens, the story deals with timeless issues – with the moralities of warfare and fundamental religion, the abuse of power, the heights of martial fervour and the depths of disillusionment The writing blazes with colour (literally in the case of the printed edition, which makes groundbreaking use of colour throughout). It pulses with life, capturing the sights and sounds, the very smells of medieval life. At the novel’s heart is the relationship between Garon and Elise – the story of an arranged marriage which rapidly develops into something deeper, to challenge a young husband’s strongly held beliefs and set him on a long and painful journey to self-realisation, to break and finally restore a woman’s spirit as she battles for recognition and for justice in a brutal man’s world. And then there is the Berge dal becce; a character who is surely more than he appears? The only way to uncover all the secrets of The White Cross is to read it!
Publication Date: April 30, 2014
Red Door Publishing Ltd
eBook & Paperback; 352 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Chalkhill Blue is an award-winning novel of the First World War, and of so much else besides. A grand romance in the English narrative tradition, it spans more than two decades, from the Edwardian heyday through the cataclysm of the ‘war to end wars’ to the uncertain new world of the 1920s. As a study of deception and self-deception, it traces the lives of two women who have dared to flout the rules of their society, and those of the men who love them; the double strands of a remarkable love story which concludes with a heart-stopping double-twist that makes it literally unforgettable. But far more than a romance, this is also a descriptive novel of tremendous scope, transporting the reader from the parched drove-trails of Queensland to the horse-drawn congestion of Edwardian London; from the snow-capped cordilleras of the Andes to a truly astonishing underground city deep in the chalk of Artois. The timeless downland landscapes of Sussex and the little blue butterfly that haunts them are horrifyingly contrasted with the man-made desolation of their notorious counterparts across the Channel at Arras and on the Somme. Based on a true story, Chalkhill Blue is compulsory reading for anyone with a taste for the authentic and the unusual.
Publication Date: May 1, 2014
Red Door Publishing Ltd
eBook & Paperback; 288 Pages
Brimstone is a story of temptation, ambition and their consequences. The year is 1793. The Terror is at its height in France, Britain is at war with her old enemy once more, and along the coast of Sussex the smugglers’ trade in spirits and tobacco is flourishing. The novel’s two heroes are brothers bound by love, but separated by opposing characters which come to represent two the two faces of eighteenth century England – its brutality and its enlightenment. For the reckless Aaron Corbyn, there are adventures to be had and profits to be made from contrabanding. While his elder brother Rafe, a sobrely steadfast physician, runs the family estate of Chalkdean, Aaron builds an illegal empire as master smuggler across the Channel, at Fecamp in Normandy. Ellin Rimmer, daughter of a ‘fire and brimstone’ preacher, marries one brother to escape the loneliness of life in a parsonage, only to find herself hopelessly attracted to the other – and to be compelled through him to an impetuous decision that will have drastic consequences for all three. Sweeping from the open downland and flintstone villages of Sussex to the coast of revolutionary France, from Newgate prison and the subhuman conditions of a convict transport ship to the penal colony of New South Wales, Brimstone weighs the destructive aspects of sexual obsession against the healing power of generosity to bring its heroine an unexpected redemption.
About the Author
Richard Masefield comes from a family of writers – John Masefield was his cousin – and with a love of animals and the outdoors he decided at a young age that he would farm and write, if necessary both at once. It took years of hard work before Richard could realise his dream, and in fact his first published novel was written while milking a herd of Friesian cows. He still lives on his farm in Sussex with his wife Lee and together they spend as much time as possible with their large family of children and grandchildren. You can visit Richard’s website at www.richardmasefield.co.uk.
As World War I rages and the Romanov dynasty reaches its sudden, brutal end, a young jewelry maker discovers love, passion, and her own healing powers in this rich and romantic ghost story, the perfect follow-up to M.J. Rose’s “brilliantly crafted” (Providence Journal) novel The Witch of Painted Sorrows.
Nestled within Paris’s historic Palais Royal is a jewelry store unlike any other. La Fantasie Russie is owned by Pavel Orloff, protégé to the famous Faberge, and is known by the city’s fashion elite as the place to find the rarest of gemstones and the most unique designs. But war has transformed Paris from a city of style and romance to a place of fear and mourning. In the summer of 1918, places where lovers used to walk, widows now wander alone.
So it is from La Fantasie Russie’s workshop that young, ambitious Opaline Duplessi now spends her time making trench watches for soldiers at the front, as well as mourning jewelry for the mothers, wives, and lovers of those who have fallen. People say that Opaline’s creations are magical. But magic is a word Opaline would rather not use. The concept is too closely associated with her mother Sandrine, who practices the dark arts passed down from their ancestor La Lune, one of sixteenth century Paris’s most famous courtesans.
But Opaline does have a rare gift even she can’t deny, a form of lithomancy that allows her to translate the energy emanating from stones. Certain gemstones, combined with a personal item, such as a lock of hair, enable her to receive messages from beyond the grave. In her mind, she is no mystic, but merely a messenger, giving voice to soldiers who died before they were able to properly express themselves to loved ones. Until one day, one of these fallen soldiers communicates a message—directly to her.
So begins a dangerous journey that will take Opaline into the darkest corners of wartime Paris and across the English Channel, where the exiled Romanov dowager empress is waiting to discover the fate of her family. Full of romance, seduction, and a love so powerful it reaches beyond the grave, The Secret Language of Stones is yet another “spellbindingly haunting” (Suspense magazine), “entrancing read that will long be savored” (Library Journal, starred review).
“A spellbinding ghost story that communicates the power of love and redemption through Rose's extraordinary, magical lens.” (Alyson Richman, internationally bestselling author of The Lost Wife)
The Secret Language of Stones is another hit by author M. J. Rose. I fell in love with the story of Sandrine and the gifts passed down by her ancestor La Lune in The Witch of Painted Sorrows, so it was easy for me to pick right back up with the story of Sandrine’s daughter, Opaline, in this novel. I love that M.J. Rose’s novels have major elements of magic, spiritualism, and the supernatural, yet I still feel like I'm reading a historical fiction novel. The existence of La Lune and her history is woven seamlessly into this novel, and the author shows the effects that La Lune's inherited “gifts” have on the lives of Opaline and her mother, Sandrine. I love that Ms. Rose is able to do this in a way that makes it completely believable. I usually am not a huge fan of novels that involve the supernatural, but it works perfectly with both The Witch of Painted Sorrows and The Secret Language of Stones. It also helps that the historical aspects of this (and the last) novel are so well-written. It’s obvious that it was well researched, and being that I am not overly familiar with the background of World War I, this novel really helped me to see the war from the viewpoint of someone who was right in the midst of it. Opaline’s character is definitely a favorite of mine. The relationships that she has with others, flesh and blood or other, are easy for readers to relate to. It’s easy to connect with Opaline, and to in a way share the experiences she is having while she learns how the secrets of her heritage fit into her life.
This novel takes the reader through war-torn Paris, at the height of World War I, through Opaline’s relationships with those grieving for their lost soldiers, and on to her interactions with Russian royalty. While dealing with all the upheaval around her and in her life, Opaline is also learning more about her heritage and how to use her gifts from La Lune. A lot is covered in this novel, but I never felt rushed, or that the author skimped on the story to fit everything into this novel. The transitions were smooth, and the book is written in a way that allows the reader to become lost within its pages for long periods of time. There is romance, intrigue, mystery, the supernatural, magick, and much, much more in The Secret Language of Stones, and I highly recommend that anyone who is looking for a good read purchase it immediately. This is the second novel in The Daughters of La Lune series, but it can definitely be read as a standalone. However, the first novel in the series, The Witch of Painted Sorrows, is amazing as well, so I would definitely suggest reading both books!
There is no way that I can give this novel anything less than a FIVE out of FIVE stars. It honestly includes everything that makes a book interesting and easy to read, not to mention, the cover of print edition of the book is gorgeous! Amazing job M.J. Rose, I look forward to your next novel!
About the AuthorM.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading her mother’s favorite books before she was allowed.
She is the author of more than a dozen novels, the co-president and founding board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: AuthorBuzz.com. She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut. Visit her online at MJRose.com.
Adam de Guirande has cause to believe the turbulent times are behind him: Hugh Despenser is dead and Edward II is forced to abdicate in favour of his young son. It is time to look forward, to a bright new world in which the young king, guided by his council, heals his kingdom and restores its greatness. But the turmoil is far from over. After years of strife, England in the early months of 1327 is a country in need of stability, and many turn with hope towards the new young king, Edward III. But Edward is too young to rule, so instead it is his mother, Queen Isabella, and her lover, Roger Mortimer, who do the actual governing, much to the dislike of barons such as Henry of Lancaster. In the north, the Scots take advantage of the weakened state of the realm and raid with impunity. Closer to court, it is Mortimer’s increasing powers that cause concerns – both among his enemies, but also for men like Adam, who loves Mortimer dearly, but loves the young king just as much. When it is announced that Edward II has died in September of 1327, what has so far been a grumble grows into voluble protests against Mortimer. Yet again, the spectre of rebellion haunts the land, and things are further complicated by the reappearance of one of Adam’s personal enemies. Soon enough, he and his beloved wife Kit are fighting for their survival – even more so when Adam is given a task that puts them both in the gravest of dangers.
Anna Belfrage does an amazing job at completing the third book in The King's Greatest Enemy series. Under the Approaching Dark is the third book in the series, and it really brings all of the action and drama together for the reader.
While reading this series, I definitely became connected to the main characters, Kit and Adam. The ability to connect with, and to like the main character(s) (or at least admire), is always my number one requirement for a great book. I also love when historical fiction authors are able to stay relatively close to being true to history, yet use a bit of creative license in order to make things interesting, and to add elements of adventure and suspense throughout the book. Anna Belfrage does a great job of creating adventure upon adventure for her main characters, yet also keeping true to the history of England at that time. The events happening at this time in England did not really need an author to make them interesting, as the real people of that time were doing a good job of creating drama all on their own! During this time period, King Edward II has been captured and put in prison, his crown taken from him due to his poor leadership, and his son, King Edward III is newly crowned. However, due to his young age, he is being led by his mother, Queen Isabella, and her lover, Roger Mortimer. Things are definitely strained in the country, and sides are being chosen. Many of the nobles are angry at the closeness of Mortimer to the crown, and his influence on the new King; not to mention his position in the Queen's bed. Also, King Edward III is beginning to grow weary of his mother and her lover micromanaging his every move, and undermining his power. As he grows more resentful of their relationship and gains more confidence in himself, it is clear that something is going to give.
Ms. Belfrage weaves the lives of her main characters, Kit and Adam, in among those historical figures who are well known throughout history. They are forced to find their way in a court full of intrigue and danger, and to be successful in doing so. Definitely a great book to read, especially if you love historical fiction. Although this novel CAN be read as a stand-alone, I would highly recommend beginning with book one of the series, In the Shadow of the Storm. There is so much that happens in the first two novels, both historically and with Kit and Adam, that there would definitely be some confusion if you began with this novel. Plus, the books are great, so why wouldn't you start with the first one? A solid FIVE out of FIVE stars from me!
"The writing is impeccable. The story has everything. Under the Approaching Dark is just perfect in every sense" - Sharon Bennett Connolly, History The Interesting Bits
Anna was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result she's multilingual and most of her reading is historical- both non-fiction and fiction. Possessed of a lively imagination, she has drawers full of potential stories, all of them set in the past. She was always going to be a writer - or a historian, preferably both. Ideally, Anna aspired to becoming a pioneer time traveller, but science has as yet not advanced to the point of making that possible. Instead she ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for her most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career Anna raised her four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive… For years she combined a challenging career with four children and the odd snatched moment of writing. Nowadays Anna spends most of her spare time at her writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and she slips away into her imaginary world, with her imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in her life pops his head in to ensure she's still there. Other than on her website, www.annabelfrage.com, Anna can mostly be found on her blog, http://annabelfrage.wordpress.com – unless, of course, she is submerged in writing her next novel.
To win a copy of Under the Approaching Dark by Anna Belfrage, please enter via the Gleam form below.
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on May 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open internationally. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
In the final installment of Sally Christie’s “tantalizing” (New York Daily News) Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, Jeanne Becu, a woman of astounding beauty but humble birth, works her way from the grimy back streets of Paris to the palace of Versailles, where the aging King Louis XV has become a jaded and bitter old philanderer. Jeanne bursts into his life and, as the Comtesse du Barry, quickly becomes his official mistress. “That beastly bourgeois Pompadour was one thing; a common prostitute is quite another kettle of fish.” After decades of suffering the King's endless stream of Royal Favorites, the princesses of the Court have reached a breaking point. Horrified that he would bring the lowborn Comtesse du Barry into the hallowed halls of Versailles, Louis XV’s daughters, led by the indomitable Madame Adelaide, vow eternal enmity and enlist the young dauphiness Marie Antoinette in their fight against the new mistress. But as tensions rise and the French Revolution draws closer, a prostitute in the palace soon becomes the least of the nobility’s concerns. Told in Christie’s witty and engaging style, the final book in The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the sumptuous and cruel world of eighteenth century Versailles, and France as it approaches irrevocable change. Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Kobo
Having read the first two novels in this series, I couldn’t wait for Enemies of Versailles to come out! While it did start a little slower than the first two, it definitely picked up and I enjoyed it as much as the others in the series. Her portrayal of characters, both major and minor, is amazing. I always feel like I’m reading an actual historical novel, and that the dialogue and actions of these historical figures is how everything really played out in the past. The author, Sally Christie, obviously does her research when writing her novels, because everything she writes about feels like it could have actually happened the way it is written.
Madame Adelaide, the king’s daughter, is a bit difficult to take at times. She is so full of herself and believes that if SHE thinks one way about something, than everyone around her also thinks that way. In the end, I do believe she always means the best for those she loves, but she is a demanding figure that was very off putting for many in her time, and a big for myself as well! Comtesse du Berry was fun to read about. I had heard of her in a few books that I have read about Marie Antoinette, and she always came across as a horrible person. It was nice to see a different perspective of her. One that shows her as charming and sweet, yet not particularly intelligent, at least as far as book smarts go. However, she was raised the position she ended up in through more than just her good lucks. She knew what the king needed, and she became that person. The king was older, and he didn’t want a woman to match wits with, he wanted a woman to love him and in a way, to “mother” him. He definitely got that with Comtesse du Berry.
Overall, this book is a great read. I would definitely recommend the entire series to readers who are interested in historical fictions, especially in what was going on in Versailles that helped to lead up to the French Revolution. You get an idea of just how frivolous the people of wealth were during this time, and how little room they had in their minds to care about what was going on outside of Versailles. They were all in their own little world full of intrigue, far from the downtrodden people of France who had nothing. It’s easy to see how these people might become bitter after seeing the amount of money the court went through for unnecessary items. Definitely a great book worth purchasing!
Praise for The Sisters of Versailles“Such an extraordinary tale makes for compelling reading and, as the lead book in a planned trilogy, will draw in readers who are interested in royal lives before the French Revolution….historical fiction fans, unfamiliar with the history of the Nesle sisters, will be intrigued.” (Library Journal)
"Sally Christie's The Sisters of Versailles is an intriguing romp through Louis XV's France. Filled with lush backdrops, rich detail, and colorful characters, fans of historical fiction will enjoy this glimpse into the lost golden era of the French monarchy." (Allison Pataki, author of THE ACCIDENTAL EMPRESS )
“A stunning breadth of period detail, offered in a fresh, contemporary voice.” (Juliet Grey, author of the acclaimed Marie Antoinette trilogy ) “Tantalizing descriptions and cliff-hangers will leave the reader rapidly turning the pages in anticipation… A wickedly delightful read.” (New York Daily News)
About the AuthorSally Christie is the author of The Sisters of Versailles and The Rivals of Versailles. She was born in England and grew up around the world, attending eight schools in three different languages. She spent most of her career working in international development and currently lives in Toronto.
GiveawayFive copies of The Enemies of Versailles are up for grabs during the blog tour! To enter, please see the Gleam form below.
Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 31st. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to residents in the US only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
The Rivals of Versailles (The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy #2) by Sally Christie
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Atria Books eBook & Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction
And you thought sisters were a thing to fear! In this compelling follow-up to Sally Christie’s clever and absorbing debut, we meet none other than the Marquise de Pompadour, one of the greatest beauties of her generation and the first bourgeois mistress ever to grace the hallowed halls of Versailles.
The year is 1745 and Louis XV’s bed is once again empty. Enter Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, a beautiful girl from the middle classes. As a child, a fortune teller had mapped out Jeanne’s destiny: she would become the lover of a king and the most powerful woman in the land. Eventually connections, luck, and a little scheming pave her way to Versailles and into the King’s arms. All too soon, conniving politicians and hopeful beauties seek to replace the bourgeoise interloper with a more suitable mistress. As Jeanne, now the Marquise de Pompadour, takes on her many rivals—including a lustful lady-in-waiting, a precocious 14-year-old prostitute, and even a cousin of the notorious Nesle sisters—she helps the king give himself over to a life of luxury and depravity. Around them, war rages, discontent grows, and France inches ever closer to the Revolution. Enigmatic beauty, social climber, actress, trendsetter, patron of the arts, spendthrift, whoremonger, friend, lover, foe: history books say many things about the famous Marquise de Pompadour.
Alongside Catherine the Great of Russia and Maria Theresa of Austria, she is considered one of the three most powerful women of the 18th century, and one of the most influential royal mistresses of all time. In The Rivals of Versailles, Christie gets to the heart of Pompadour’s legendary relationship with Louis XV, France’s most “well-beloved” king. Pompadour was not only his mistress, but his confidante and influential political adviser for close to twenty years. Full of historical insight, decadence, wit and scandal, The Rivals of Versailles is about one woman’s trials and triumphs, her love for a king, and her role in shaping a nation.
"The Rivals of Versailles” by Sally Christie is just as amazing as the first book in the series, “The Sisters of Versailles.” I was pleasantly surprised at how seamlessly it picked up with the intrigue, action, and passion from the first book! Mr. Christie is truly a talented historical fiction author.
This novel comes on the heels of the last Nesle sister to grace King Louis XV’s bed as a mistress. The first book in the series is about the king’s affinity for sisters, while “The Rivals of Versailles” starts up near the beginning of Jeanne Poisson’s (better known as Madame Pompadour) reign as the Royal Mistress. While I adored “The Sisters of Versailles”, I felt that I was better able to connect with Madam Pompadour. I think this might have been because there she was the only main character to really keep track of, rather than the four Nesle sisters. Plus, I felt like I learned a lot more about the time period in general, because Madame Pompadour was very involved in the king’s decisions for France. Ms. Christie really brought her to life through this novel. She is described as such a strong and engaging person. She had to deal with a lot of negativity as the first bourgeois mistress of King Louis XV, but eventually she hardened herself to the condescending attitudes of those around her, and she made a place for herself in history. The kind certainly did not make her life easy, and over the course of his relationship with her, he was not exactly faithful! Madame Pompadour was able to retain her position in Louis’ life for almost 20 years due to the fact that she was able to survive the intrigue of Versailles, and keep Louis dependent on her friendship and advice. She also showed her rivals that she was an enemy they did not want, and when she went up against those who tried to usurp her position in Louis’ heart, she won.
It is obvious that Sally Christie admired Madame Pompadour, and once you finish the book, you are a true fan of hers as well. History doesn’t always paint her in the kindest light, because of her influence on the king, so it’s great to see her through a different lens. This series is absolutely fantastic, and I am so excited about the next and final novel in the series, “The Enemies of Versailles”!
Without a doubt this is a FIVE out of FIVE!
About the Author
I'm a life-long history buff - and I mean life-long. One of the first adult books I read was Antonia Fraser's masterful Mary, Queen of Scots. Wow! That book just blew my little ten year old mind: something about the way it brought the past right back to life, made it live again on the page. I date my obsession with history to that time, but I'd been writing ("writing") ever since I was able to hold a pencil. If you'd told my 12-year old self that I'd not be a writer when I grew up, I would have laughed you out of the tree house. With a few detours along the way, to work overseas in consulting and development, as well as to go to business school, I've finally come full circle to where I think I should be. I currently live in Toronto and when I'm not writing, I'm playing lots of tennis; doing random historical research (old census records are my favorite); playing Scrabble, and squirrel-watching (the room where I write has French doors leading out to a deck; I avidly follow, and feed, a scruffy gang).
– Must be 18 or older to enter. US and Canada Only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
Death at St. Vedast: A Bianca Goddard Mystery by Mary Lawrence
Print Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Kensington (December 27, 2016)
Publication Date: December 27, 2016
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
During the tempestuous reign of Henry VIII, London alchemist Bianca Goddard has seen up close what keeps a man alive—and what can kill him. A good thing, for she will need all her knowledge to keep a friend away from the gallows . . .
Bianca and her husband John are delighted to share in the glad fortune of their friend, Boisvert, the silversmith, who is to wed Odile, the wealthy widow of a goldsmith. But a pall is cast over the upcoming nuptials when the body of a pregnant woman is found beneath the bell tower of St. Vedast, the very church where the betrothed are to be married.
Tragedy strikes again at the couple’s reception, when Odile suddenly drops dead in the middle of the wedding feast. The constable suspects Boisvert poisoned his new bride for her money, but there’s not a trace of poison in her food or wine. Could the two deaths be connected? To prove their friend’s innocence, Bianca will need to employ her knowledge of alchemy—for if she can determine how the bride was killed, she may find the person responsible for her murder—before another victim is added to the death toll . . .
This is the third book in a series involving the talented and intelligent alchemist, Bianca Goddard. I was immediately drawn to this novel, as it is set during the reign of King Henry VIII. This was a time period where no one was truly safe, even the king's wives. Whether it be disease, childbirth, infection, witchcraft, plague, or other illnesses, both physical and mental; it was a very dangerous time to be alive in!
Bianca is determined to discover what is causing the mysterious deaths that are happening right around and involving the Church at St. Vendast. In one instance a pregnant woman climbs to the top of the church spire, all while singing and acting in an insane manner, than falls to her death. Then there is another death, this one a wealthy widow. Bianca begins to piece together this mystery, and the reader is kept on the edge of their seat as she does. I found myself wanting to skip pages to find out what was going to happen next! The writer definitely has a great talent when it comes to writing mystery novels. Usually I am not a huge fan of mysteries, however I love most novels that are set during medieval times, especially Tudor times, and this novel is no different.
If you're looking for a novel that is going to keep you up at night, because you can't put the book down until you find out what happens next, than this is perfect for you! It's a lovely historical mystery novel, and I definitely recommend it!
Bianca Goddard Mystery Series:
Book One: The Alchemist's Daughter
Book Two: Death of an Alchemist
Book Three: Death at St. Vedast
About the Author
Mary Lawrence lives in Maine and worked in the medical field for more than twenty-five years before publishing her debut mystery, The Alchemist’s Daughter (Kensington, 2015). The book was named by Suspense Magazine a “Best Book of 2015” in the historical mystery category. Her articles have appeared in several publications, including the national news blog The Daily Beast. Book 2 of the Bianca Goddard Mysteries, Death of an Alchemist, released in February 2016.
Eighteen-year-old James Douglas can only watch, helpless, as the Scottish freedom fighter, William Wallace, is hanged, drawn, and quartered. Even under the heel of a brutal English conqueror, James's blood-drenched homeland may still have one hope for freedom, the rightful king of the Scots, Robert the Bruce. James swears fealty to the man he believes can lead the fight against English tyranny.
The Bruce is soon a fugitive, king in name and nothing more. Scotland is occupied, the Scottish resistance crushed. The woman James loves is captured and imprisoned. Yet James believes their cause is not lost. With driving determination, he blazes a path in blood and violence, in cunning and ruthlessness as he wages a guerrilla war to restore Scotland's freedom. James knows he risks sharing Wallace's fate, but what he truly fears is that he has become as merciless as the conqueror he fights.
As a fan of the historical fiction author, J.R. Tomlin, as well as a huge fan of Scotland's history, especially The Black Douglas, I was more than excited to read this novel. The author does an amazing job of staying as true to Scotland's history as possible, without coming across as though you were reading a textbook. "A Kingdom's Cost" is yet another great historical fiction novel by J.R. Tomlin, and The Black Douglas, aka James Douglas, is brought to life for the reader.
I've read a couple of books dealing with his life, and I felt that I was able to get to "know" him, and what drove him to become so determined and loyal to Scotland, best with this novel. James Douglas was loved by Scotland's people and their king, Robert the Bruce; however, this meant that he was one of England's greatest enemies at one point in time. His intelligence and knowledge of ways to beat the English, even though greatly outnumbered and having much less artillery, made him a legend in his country. This novel is the first in a series of three, and it gives you a look into exactly why he chose the path of fighting for his country's freedom, no matter the personal cost; and he did suffer a great amount of personal loss. The author does a great job of showing his readers what James Douglas was up against, his strength of character, as well as his loyalty to his country and king.
If you are a fan of Scotland's history, with William Wallace, The Bruce, The Black Douglas, etc., than I 100% recommend this book (and series) to you. In fact, I recommend all of J.R. Tomlin's novels, as I am a huge historical fiction fan, and she does a fantastic job of bringing real people, who died long ago, back to life for the reader. She is definitely one of my top 10 favorite authors for this genre. A solid five out of five star rating from me!
About the Author
J. R. Tomlin is the author of seven historical novels: The Black Douglas Trilogy (A Kingdom's Cost, Countenance of War, and Not for Glory), A King Ensnared, A King Uncaged and Freedom's Sword, as well as a historical mystery, The Templar's Cross. She has also co-authored several fantasies with C. R. Daems: Blood Duty, Talon of the Unnamed Goddess, The Shadow Ryana, and The Shadow Gypsy.
She has close ties with Scotland since her father was a native Scot, and she spent substantial time in Edinburgh whilst growing up. Her historical novels are set in Scotland. You can trace her love of that nation to the stories of the Bruce and the Good Sir James her grandmother read her when she was small and to her hillwalking through the Cairngorms where the granite hills have a gorgeous red glow under the setting sun.
In addition to spending time in Scotland, she has traveled in the US, Europe and the Pacific Rim. She now lives in Oregon.
Joanna of Navarre knows her place in society. And defies it. Forthright, unemotional and politically minded, she is more than a match for the men in the court of Brittany. And when she inherits control of her lands after her husband's death, it's a testament to her intellect and loyal duty.
Then comes an unexpected proposal — marriage to Henry IV, King of England. The price? Abandoning her homeland, leaving her children, and sacrificing her independence.
Henry's hold on the crown is unsteady and war is brewing. Crossing the channel is a dangerous prospect. If Joanna's pride will allow it, this could be a chance to unite two nations.
But pride comes before a fall, and there are many who conspire to watch Joanna tumble from the English throne...
I honestly do not even know where to start with my review of “The Queen’s Choice. Anne O’Brien once again displays her artistry when it comes to bringing history to life. I was truly lost in medieval England every minute I spent reading it! This novel brings to light the fascinating life of Joanna of Navarre, who became Queen of England when she married King Henry IV. Although I have read hundreds of historical fiction novels set in medieval England, I knew next to nothing about her life prior to reading this novel, and only a little more about her husband, King Henry IV. I definitely had never imagined that there was a passionate love between them, or had any idea of the impact she had as Queen of England. Joanna’s strength is shown over and over throughout this novel as she sets out to prove to her husband, the King, as well as to the people of England, that she is more than just a foreign bride. She is a diplomat, a ruler, as well as an intelligent and strong woman. She is determined to sit beside him as his queen, and as his equal. She left everything she knew, and children she loved, in order to become his queen, and to experience true love. This novel is so incredibly well written and detailed, that I challenge any fan of historical fiction not to fall in love with this book, and with Joanna.
“The Queen’s Choice” has absolutely cemented my belief that Anne O’Brien is the best historical fiction author past of present. I have read all of Philippa Gregory’s novels, most of Elizabeth Chadwick’s, many of Sharon Kay Penman and Alison Weir’s novels, as well as hundreds of other historical fiction novels, and Ms. O’Brien’s novels honestly surpass them all, in my opinion. She has the ability to bring these somewhat obscure, royal women, as well as their passionate romances to life for the reader. As you read, you really feel as though you get to know the characters, and you’re left thinking about them when the book comes to an end. The fact that most of the women she writes about are not widely known or written about is what draws me to her novels the most. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good novel about Anne Boleyn, Eleanor of Aquitaine, or Lucrezia Borgia, but it can get repetitive reading about the same famous and dramatic women from history by different authors. The royal women Anne O’Brien chooses to bring to life are women like Elizabeth of Lancaster, Katherine de Valois, Philippa of Hainault, and more. These women were all important to the history of England, and they all have fascinating stories of strength and intelligence, and they all had incredible tales of love. However, they do not have the dramatic stories of incest and adultery like Anne Boleyn and Lucrezia Borgia, or tales riding horses half naked during the Crusades and waging war on their husband like Eleanor of Aquitaine! However, with Anne O’Brien’s gift of writing, she creates novels that are able to illustrate just how amazing and interesting these women from history truly were. I go into the majority of her novels honestly not knowing how it will end, because most of the women she writes about are only secondary characters in other novels I have read. It’s refreshing to learn more about these women, and through her impeccable research, to get an idea of who they were, what their trials were in life, and how they impacted history in their own way. I cannot say enough great things about Anne O’Brien as a writer, and I await her next novel with great anticipation!
It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyways) that “The Queen’s Choice” is a clear FIVE out of FIVE stars. It’s one of those books where you wish it was possible to rate it seven or eight stars!
O’Brien cleverly intertwines the personal and political in this enjoyable, gripping tale.--The Times
"Anne O’Brien, the much-loved historical novelist who breathes new life into forgotten medieval women, is back to enchant and enthral us with a torrid tale of love, sacrifice and rebellion at the volatile court of King Henry IV…Packed with drama, danger, romance and history, The Queen’s Choice is the perfect reading choice for the long winter nights."--Pam Norfolk, PA
‘Joanna of Navarre is the feisty heroine in Anne O’Brien’s fast-paced historical novel The Queen’s Choice.’ --Good Housekeeping
‘A gripping story of love, heartache and political intrigue.’--Woman & Home
"...packed with powerful emotions and tumultuous unfolding of an affair that changed the course of royal history, this is a novel in which to enjoy the past in all it rich colour and dramatic detail..."
--Lancashire Evening Post
'There are historical novels and then there are the works of Anne O'Brien - and this is another hit.'
About the Author
Anne was born in the West Riding of Yorkshire. After gaining a B.A. Honours degree in History at Manchester University, a PGCE at Leeds University and a Masters degree in education at Hull University, she lived in the East Riding as a teacher of history. Always a prolific reader, she enjoyed historical fiction and was encouraged to try her hand at writing. Success in short story competitions spurred her on.
Leaving teaching – but not her love of history – she wrote her first historical romance, a Regency, which was published in 2005. To date nine historical romances and a novella, ranging from medieval, through the Civil War and Restoration and back to Regency, have been published internationally.
Anne now lives with her husband in an eighteenth century timber-framed cottage in the depths of the Welsh Marches in Herefordshire, a wild, beautiful place on the borders between England and Wales, renowned for its black and white timbered houses, ruined castles and priories and magnificent churches. Steeped in history, famous people and bloody deeds as well as ghosts and folk lore, it has given her inspiration for her writing. Since living there she has become hooked on medieval history.
Sometimes she escapes from writing. She enjoys her garden, a large, rambling area where she grows vegetables and soft fruit as well as keeping control over herbaceous flower borders, a wild garden, a small orchard and a formal pond. With an interest in herbs and their uses, Anne has a herb patch constructed on the pattern of a Tudor knot garden and enjoys cooking with the proceeds. Gardening is a perfect time for her to mull over what she’s been writing, as she wages war on the weeds.