Tag Archive | historical romance

Review: The Betrothal

Title: The Betrothal

Author: Kiera Cass

Date of Publication: May 5th, 2020

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Goodreads Summary:

When King Jameson declares his love for Lady Hollis Brite, Hollis is shocked—and thrilled. After all, she’s grown up at Keresken Castle, vying for the king’s attention alongside other daughters of the nobility. Capturing his heart is a dream come true.

But Hollis soon realizes that falling in love with a king and being crowned queen may not be the happily ever after she thought it would be. And when she meets a commoner with the mysterious power to see right into her heart, she finds that the future she really wants is one that she never thought to imagine.

My Review:

So the Selection books (first three) are part of my all-time favorite books! I was pretty ecstatic, to say the least, when I saw that Mrs. Cass would be having a new book out! And another lovely cover with a beautiful dress!

In the Betrothal, I feel as though the author’s writing has gotten even better with lush descriptions! The setting was a fun one too!

Now the bad news for me was that I couldn’t connect with these characters. I knew this story wouldn’t be the Selection, and I didn’t want another Selection, but I did want to see characters that I could fall in love with just the same. But while that didn’t happen, there were definitely some draw-dropping moments that I hadn’t been expecting.

Because of how the Betrothal ended, I’m very much interested in seeing how book two plays out and to see more of this historical world!

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Have you read The Selection?

Review: Do You Want to Start a Scandal

Title: Do You Want to Start a Scandal

Author: Tessa Dare

Date of Publication: September 27th, 2016

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Goodreads Summary:

On the night of the Parkhurst ball, someone had a scandalous tryst in the library.
•Was it Lord Canby, with the maid, on the divan?
•Or Miss Fairchild, with a rake, against the wall?
•Perhaps the butler did it.

All Charlotte Highwood knows is this: it wasn’t her. But rumors to the contrary are buzzing. Unless she can discover the lovers’ true identity, she’ll be forced to marry Piers Brandon, Lord Granville—the coldest, most arrogantly handsome gentleman she’s ever had the misfortune to embrace. When it comes to emotion, the man hasn’t got a clue.

But as they set about finding the mystery lovers, Piers reveals a few secrets of his own. The oh-so-proper marquess can pick locks, land punches, tease with sly wit … and melt a woman’s knees with a single kiss. The only thing he guards more fiercely than Charlotte’s safety is the truth about his dark past.

Their passion is intense. The danger is real. Soon Charlotte’s feeling torn. Will she risk all to prove her innocence? Or surrender it to a man who’s sworn to never love?

My Review:

Charlotte has a history of her mother causing her to make a fool of herself and seem desperate, and before her mother can set her sights on Lord Granville Charlotte is set on warning him. While Charlotte is warning Lord Granville they get interrupted and have to hide but while hiding the mysterious couple who they can not see decide to have a tryst. When the couple leaves Charlotte and Lord Granville are caught together and are mistaken for the couple. Charlotte is determined to find out who the couple was so that she will not be forced to marry Lord Granville even though she quite likes him.

This was a cute book that was light and fluffy and had a little mystery as well. Charlotte was a great character, and I adored her personality and her sense of humor. I pretty much never read historical romance unless it is Tessa Dare because they are always so cute and funny.

I liked seeing Lord Granville since in book two in the Castles Ever After series he was left not engaged anymore, so it was good seeing him get his own romance. The swoon was spot on, and it was a quick and easy read for a nice fall day!

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How does this book sound to you?

Excerpt: The Secret Language of Stones

MJ TSLOS Collage with magic quote

 

 

THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF STONES is a stunning historical gothic romantic suspense published by Atria, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, being released on July 19th. This is the second title in M.J. Rose’s The Daughters of La Lune Series and absolutely not to be missed! Check out the first chapter below then pre-order your copy today!

 

 

 

The Secret Language of Stones

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBound

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).

 

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

July 19, 1918

“Are you Opaline?” the woman asked before she even stepped all the way into the workshop. From the anxious and distraught tone of her voice, I guessed she hadn’t come to talk about commissioning a bracelet for her aunt or having her daughter’s pearls restrung.

Though not a soldier, this woman was one of the Great War’s wounded, here to engage in the dark arts in the hopes of finding solace. Was it her son or her brother, husband, or lover’s fate that drove her to seek me out?

France had lost more than one million men, and there were battles yet to be fought. We’d suffered the second largest loss of any country in any war in history. No one in Paris remained untouched by tragedy.

What a terrible four years we’d endured. The Germans had placed La Grosse Bertha, a huge cannon, on the border between Picardy and Champagne. More powerful than any weapon ever built, she proved able to send shells 120 kilometers and reach us in Paris.

Since the war began, Bertha had shot more than 325 shells into our city. By the summer of 1918, two hundred civilians had died, and almost a thousand more were hurt. We lived in a state of anticipation and readiness. We were on the front too, as much at risk as our soldiers.

The last four months had been devastating. On March 11, the Vincennes Cemetery in the eastern inner suburbs was hit and hundreds of families lost their dead all over again when marble tombs and granite gravestones shattered. Bombs continued falling into the night. Buildings all over the city were demolished; craters appeared in the streets.

Three weeks later, more devastation. The worst Paris had suffered yet. On Good Friday, during a mass at the Saint-Gervais and Saint-Protais Church, a shell hit and the whole roof collapsed on the congregation. Eighty-eight people were killed; another sixtyeight were wounded. And all over Paris many, many more suffered psychological damage. We became more worried, ever more afraid. What was next? When would it happen? We couldn’t know. All we could do was wait.

In April there were more shellings. And again in May. One hit a hotel in the 13th arrondissement, and because Bertha’s visits were silent, without warning, sleeping guests were killed in their beds.

By the middle of July, there was still no end in sight.

That warm afternoon, while the rain drizzled down, I steeled myself for the expression of grief to match what I’d heard in the customer’s voice. I shut off my soldering machine and put my work aside before I looked up.

Turning soldiers’ wristwatches into trench watches is how I have been contributing to the war effort since arriving in Paris three years ago. History repeats itself, they say, and in my case it’s true. In 1894, my mother ran away from her first husband in New York City and came to Paris. And twenty-one years later, I ran away from my mother in Cannes and came to Paris.

In trying to protect me from the encroaching war and to distract me from the malaise I’d been suffering since my closest friend had been killed, my parents decided to send me to America. No amount of protest, tantrums, bargaining, or begging would change their minds. They were shipping me off to live with family in Boston and to study at Radcliffe, where my uncle taught history.

At ten AM on Wednesday, February 11, 1915 my parents and I arrived at the dock in Cherbourg. French ocean liners had all been acquisitioned for the war, so I was booked on the USMS New York to travel across the sea. A frenetic scene greeted me. Most of the travelers were leaving France out of fear, and the atmosphere was thick with sadness and worry. Faces were drawn, eyes red with crying, as we prepared to board the big hulking ship waiting to transport us away from the terrible war that claimed more and more lives every day.

While my father arranged for a porter to carry my trunk, my mother handed me a last-minute gift, a book from the feel of it, then took me in her arms to kiss me good-bye. I breathed in her familiar scent, knowing it might be a long time until I smelled that particular mixture of L’Etoile’sRouge perfume and the Roger etGalletpoudre de riz she always used to dust her face and décolletage. As she held me and pressed her crimson-stained lips to my cheek, I reached up behind her and carefully unhooked one of the half dozen ropes of cabochon ruby beads slung around her neck.

I let the necklace slip inside my glove, the stones warm as they slid down and settled into my cupped palm.

My mother often told me the story about how, in Paris in 1894, soon after she’d arrived and they’d met, my father helped her secretly pawn some of her grandmother’s treasures to buy art supplies so she could attend École des Beaux-Arts.

Knowing I too might need extra money, I decided to avail myself of some insurance. My mother owned so many strands of those blood-red beads, certainly my transgression would go unnoticed for a long time.

Disentangling herself, my mother dabbed at her eyes with a black handkerchief trimmed in red lace. Like the rubies she always wore, her handkerchiefs were one of her trademarks. Her many eccentricities exacerbated the legends swirling around “La Belle Lune,” as the press called her.

Mon chou, I will miss you. Write often and don’t get into trouble. It’s one thing to break my rules, but listen to your aunt Laura. All right?”

When my father’s turn came, he took me in his arms and exacted another kind of promise. “You will stay safe, yes?” He let go, but only for a moment before pulling me back to plant another kiss on the top of my head and add a coda to his good-bye. “Stay safe,” he repeated, “and please, forgive yourself for what happened with Timur. You couldn’t know what the future would bring. Enjoy your adventure, chérie.”

I nodded as tears tickled my eyes. Always sensitive to me, my father knew how much my guilt weighed on me. My charming and handsome papa always found just the right words to say to me to make me feel special. I didn’t care that I was about to deceive my mother, but I hated that I was going to disappoint my father.

During the winters of 1913 and 1914, my parents’ friends’ son TimurOrloff lived with us in Cannes. He ran a small boutique inside the Carlton Hotel, where, in high season, the hotel rented out space to a select few high-end retailers in order to cater to the celebrities, royalty, and nobility who flocked to the Riviera.

Our families first met when Anna Orloff bought one of my mother’s paintings, and Monsieur Orloff hired my father to design his jewelry store in Paris. A friendship developed that eventually led to my parents offering to house Timur. We quickly became the best of friends, sharing a passion for art and a love of design.

Creating jewelry had been my obsession ever since I’d found my first piece of emerald sea glass at the beach and tried to use string and glue to fashion it into a ring. My father declared jewelry design the perfect profession for the child of a painter and an architect—an ideal way to marry the sense of color and light I’d inherited from my mother and the ability to visualize and design in three dimensions that I’d inherited from him.

My mother was disappointed I wasn’t following in her footsteps and studying painting but agreed jewelry design offered a fine alternative. I knew my choice appealed to the rebel in her. The field hadn’t yet welcomed women, and my mother, who had broken down quite a few barriers as a female artist and eschewed convention as much as plain white handkerchiefs, was pleased that, like her, I would be challenging the status quo.

When I’d graduated lycée, I convinced my parents to let me apprentice with a local jeweler, and Timur often stopped by Roucher’s shop at the end of the day to collect me and walk me home.

Given our ages, his twenty to my seventeen, it wasn’t surprising our closeness turned physical, and we spent many hours hiding in the shadows of the rocks on the beach as twilight deepened, kissing and exploring each other’s body. The heady intimacy was exciting. The passion, transforming. My sense of taste became exaggerated. My sense of smell became more attenuated. The stones I worked with in the shop began to shimmer with a deeper intensity, and my ability to hear their music became fine-tuned.

The changes were as frightening as they were exhilarating. As the passions increased my powers, I worried I was becoming like my mother. And yet my fear didn’t make me turn from Timur. The pleasure was too great. My attraction was fueled by curiosity rather than love. Not so for him. And even though I knew Timur was a romantic, I never guessed at the depths of what he felt.

War broke out during the summer of 1914, and in October, Timur wrote he was leaving for the front to fight for France. Just two weeks after he’d left, I received a poetic letter filled with longing.

Dearest Opaline,

We never talked about what we mean to each other before I left and I find myself in this miserable place, with so little comfort and so much uncertainty. Not the least of which is how you feel about me. I close my eyes and you are there. I think of the past two years and all my important memories include you. I imagine tomorrow’s memories and want to share those with you as well. Here where it’s bleak and barren, thoughts of you keep my heart warm. Do you love me the way I love you? No, I don’t think so, not yet . . . but might you? All I ask is please, don’t fall in love with anyone else while I am gone. Tell me you will wait for me, at least just to give me a chance?

I’d been made uncomfortable by his admission. Handsome and talented, he’d treated me as if I were one of the fine gems he sold. I’d enjoyed his attention and affection, but I didn’t think I was in love. Not the way I imagined love.

And so I wrote a flippant response. Teasing him the way I always did, I accused him of allowing the war to turn him into even more of a romantic. I shouldn’t have. Instead, I should have given him the promise he asked for. Once he came back, I could have set him straight. Then at least, while he remained away, he would have had hope.

Instead, he’d died with only my mockery ringing in his head.

My father was right: I couldn’t have known the future. But I still couldn’t excuse myself for my thoughtless past.

The USMS New York’s sonorous horn blasted three times, and all around us people said their last good-byes. Reluctantly, my father let go of me.

“I’d like you to leave once I’m on board,” I told my parents. “Otherwise, I’ll stand there watching you and I’ll start to cry.”

“Agreed,” my father said. “It would be too hard for us as well.”

Once I’d walked up the gangplank and joined the other passengers at the railing, I searched the crowd, found my parents, and waved.

My mother fluttered her handkerchief. My father blew me a kiss. Then, as promised, they turned and began to walk away. The moment their backs were to me, I ran from the railing, found a porter, pressed some francs into his hand, and asked him to take my luggage from the hold and see me to a taxi.

I would not be sailing to America. I was traveling on a train to Paris. Once ensconced in the cab, I told the driver to transport me to the station. After maneuvering out of the parking space, he joined the crush of cars leaving the port. Moving at a snail’s pace, we drove right past my parents, who were strolling back to the hotel where we’d stayed the night before.

Sliding down in my seat, I hoped they wouldn’t see me, but I’d underestimated my mother’s keen eye.

“Opaline? Opaline?”

Hearing her shout, I rose and peeked out the window. For a moment, they just stood frozen, shocked expressions on their faces. Then my father broke into a run.

“Hurry!” I called out to the driver. “Please.”

At first I thought my father might catch up to the car, but the traffic cleared and my driver accelerated. As we sped away, I saw my father come to a stop and just stand in the road, cars zigzagging all around him as he tried to catch his breath and make sense of what he’d just seen.

Just as we turned the corner, my mother reached his side. He took her arm. I saw an expression of resignation settle on his face. Anger animated hers. I think she knew exactly where I was going. Not because she was clairvoyant, which she was, of course, but because we were alike in so many ways, and if history was about to repeat itself, she wanted me to learn about my powers from her.

I’d been ambivalent about exploring my ability to receive messages that were inaudible and invisible to others—messages that came to me through stones—but I knew if the day came that I was ready, I’d need someone other than her to guide me.

Years ago, when she was closer to my age, my mother’s journey to Paris had begun with her meeting La Lune, a spirit who’d kept herself alive for almost three centuries while waiting for a descendant strong enough to host her. My mother embraced La Lune’s spirit and allowed the witch to take over. But because Sandrine was my mother, I hadn’t been given an option. I’d been born with the witch’s powers running through my veins.

Once my mother made her choice to let La Lune in, she never questioned how she used her abilities. She justified her actions as long as they were for good. Or what she believed was good. But I’d seen her make decisions I thought were morally wrong. So when I was ready to learn about my own talents, I knew it had to be without my mother’s influence. My journey needed to be my own.

“I’m sorry, but I plan to stay in Paris and work for the war effort,” I told my mother when I telephoned home the following day to tell my parents I’d arrived at my great-grandmother’s house.

When my mother first moved to Paris, my great-grandmother tried but failed to hide the La Lune heritage from her. Once my mother discovered it, Grand-mère tried to convince my mother that learning the dark arts would be her undoing. My mother rejected her advice. When Grand-mère’s horror at Sandrine’s possession by La Lune was mistaken for madness, she was put in a sanatorium. Eventually my mother used magick to help restore Grand-mère to health. Part of her healing spell slowed down my great-grandmother’s aging process so in 1918, more than two decades later, she looked and acted like a woman in her sixties, not one approaching ninety.

Grand-mère was one of Paris’s great courtesans. A leftover from the Belle Époque, she remained ensconced in her splendid mansion, still entertaining, still running her salon. Only now she employed women younger than herself to provide the services she once had performed.

“But I don’t want you in Paris,” my mother argued. “Of all places, Opaline, Paris is the most dangerous for you to be on your own and . . .”

The rest of her sentence was swallowed by a burst of crackling. In 1905, we’d been one of the first families to have a telephone. A decade later almost all businesses and half the households in France had one, but transmission could still be spotty.

“What did you say?” I asked.

“It’s too dangerous for you in Paris.”

I didn’t ask what she meant, assuming she referred to how often the Germans were bombarding Paris. But now I know she wasn’t thinking of the war at all but rather of my untrained talents and the temptations and dangers awaiting me in the city where she’d faced her own demons.

I didn’t listen to her entreaties. No, out of a combination of guilt over Timur’s death and patriotism, my mind was set. I was committed to living in Paris and working for the war effort. Only cowards went to America.

I’d known I couldn’t drive ambulances like other girls; I was disastrous behind the wheel. And from having three younger siblings, I knew nursing wasn’t a possibility—I couldn’t abide the sight of blood whenever Delphine, Sebastian, or Jadine got a cut.

Two months after Timur died, his mother, Anna Orloff, who had been like an aunt to me since I’d turned thirteen, wrote to say that, like so many French businesses, her husband’s jewelry shop had lost most of its jewelers to the army. With her stepson, Grigori, and her youngest son, Leo, fighting for France, she and Monsieur needed help in the shop.

Later, Anna told me she’d sensed I needed to be with her in Paris. She had always known things about me no one else had. Like my mother, Anna was involved in the occult, one reason she had been attracted to my mother’s artwork in the first place. For that alone, I should have eschewed her interest in me. After all, my mother’s use of magick to cure or cause ills, attract or repel people, as well as read minds and sometimes change them, still disturbed me. Too often I’d seen her blur the line between dark and light, pure and corrupt, with ease and without regret. That her choices disturbed me angered her.

Between her paintings, which took her away from my brother and sisters and me, and her involvement with the dark arts, I’d developed two minds about living in the occult world my mother inhabited with such ease.

Yet I was drawn to Anna for her warmth and sensitive nature— so different from my mother’s elaborate and eccentric one. Because I’d seen Anna be so patient with her sons’ and my siblings’ fears, I thought she’d be just as patient with mine. I imagined she could be the lamp to shine a light on the darkness I’d inherited and teach me control so I wouldn’t accidentally traverse the lines my mother crossed so boldly.

Undaunted, I’d fled from the dock in Cherbourg to Paris, and for more than three years I’d been ensconced in Orloff’s gem of a store, learning from a master jeweler.

To teach me his craft, Monsieur had me work on a variety of pieces, but my main job involved soldering thin bars of gold or silver to create cages that would guard the glass on soldiers’ watch faces.

To some, what I did might have seemed a paltry effort, but in the field, at the front, men didn’t have the luxury of stopping to pull out a pocket watch, open it, and study the hour or the minute. They needed immediate information and had to wear watches on their wrists. And war isn’t kind to wristwatches. A sliver of shrapnel can crack the crystal. A whack on a rock as you crawl through a dugout can shatter the face. Soldiers required timepieces they could count on to be efficient and sturdy enough to withstand the rigors of combat.

Monsieur Orloff taught me how to execute the open crosshatched grates that fit over the watch crystal through which the soldiers could read the hour and the minute. While I worked, I liked to think I projected time for them. But the thought did little to lift my spirits. It was their lives that needed protecting. France had lost so many, and still the war dragged on. So as I fused the cages, I attempted to imbue the metal with an armor of protective magick. Something helpful to do with my inheritance. Something I should have known how to do. After all, I am one of the Daughters of La Lune.

But as I discovered, the magick seemed to only make its way into the lockets I designed for the wives and mothers, sisters and lovers of soldiers already killed in battle. The very word “locket” contains everything one needs to know about my pieces. It stems from old French “loquet,” which means “miniature lock.” Since the 1670s, “locket” has been used to describe a keepsake charm or brooch with a personal memento, such as a portrait or a curl of hair, sealed inside, sometimes concealed by a false front.

My lockets always contained secrets. They were made of crystal, engraved with phrases and numbers, and filled with objects that had once belonged to the deceased soldiers. Encased in gold, these talismans hung on chains or leather. Of all the work I did, I found that it wasn’t the watches but the solace my lockets gave that proved to be my greatest gift to the war effort.

 

old letters, french post cards and empty open book. nostalgic vintage background

 

 

 

A dazzling mix of history, mystery and mystical arts . . . Rose’s paranormal historical bewitches from start to finish. Her amazing ability to make her story line believable and her extraordinary protagonist relatable result in an unforgettable psychic thriller.” (Library Journal (Starred review))

“An exciting mix of adventure, intrigue, and romance in this thrilling historical tale.” (Booklist)

“Haunting, spellbinding, captivating; Rose’s story of the power of love and redemption is masterful. More than a romance or ghost story, this is a tale of a young woman learning to embrace her unique qualities…So carefully crafted and beautifully written, readers will believe in the magical possibilities of love transcending time.” (RT Magazine (Top Pick))

“Rose follows up The Witch of Painted Sorrows (2015) with Sandrine’s daughter’s story, set against the tragic yet exquisite canvases of Paris, the Great War, and the Russian Revolution, and offers fascinating historical tidbits in the midst of bright, imaginative storytelling and complex, supernatural worldbuilding. A compelling, heart-wrenching, creative, and intricate read.” (Kirkus Reviews)

 

 

MJ Rose - HeadshotAbout M.J. Rose:

New York Times Bestseller, M.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 believes mystery and magic are all around us but we are too often too busy to notice… books that exaggerate mystery and magic draw attention to it and remind us to look for it and revel in it.

Rose’s work has appeared in many magazines including Oprah Magazine and she has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, WSJ, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – Authorbuzz.com

The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Reincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and currently serves, with Lee Child, as the organization’s co-president.

Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.

 

Website | Twitter| Facebook | Author Goodreads | Novel Goodreads| Newsletter| Pinterest

 

 

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Scattered Seeds by Julie Doherty with Excerpt + INTERVIEW!

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Scattered Seeds

Julie Doherty

Genre: Historical fiction, elements of romance

Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing

Date of Publication: April 27, 2016

ISBN: 1-68291-050-4

ASIN: B01E056H1Q

Number of pages: 339

Word Count: 100,000

Cover Artist: Fiona Jayde

Book Description:

 

In 18th century Ireland, drought forces Edward and Henry McConnell to assume false names and escape to America with the one valuable thing they still own–their ancestor’s gold torc.

Edward must leave love behind. Henry finds it in the foul belly of The Charming Hannah, only to lose it when an elusive trader purchases his sweetheart’s indenture.

With nothing but their broken hearts, a lame ox, and a torc they cannot sell without invoking a centuries-old curse, they head for the backcountry, where all hope rests upon getting their seed in the ground. Under constant threat of Indian attack, they endure crushing toil and hardship. By summer, they have wheat for their reward, and unexpected news of Henry’s lost love. They emerge from the wilderness and follow her trail to Philadelphia, unaware her cruel new master awaits them there, his heart set on obtaining the priceless torc they protect.

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/bNzrVFnl9Ts

Amazon

Excerpt:

CHAPTER 1

County Donegal, Ireland
1755

Henry stood next to his father surveying their largest field. He longed to say that the seeds might yet sprout, that there was still time to yield a return, but the undeniable truth lay right before them: drought had come to Ireland. Their investment in imported flaxseed was lost.
“A hundred days, Henry.” Father’s face bore the pained expression of a man whose hope was as withered as his crops. “A hundred days was all we needed, all that stood between us and prosperity.” He kicked a clod of dirt, and it turned to dust. “It’s all gone, gone along wi’ the horse that harrowed the ground.”
A lump rose in Henry’s throat. He ached for his father, and he missed their horse. Paddy was a fine animal purchased ten years ago after a bumper crop of rye, when Edward McConnell’s luck was good and Henry’s only chore was to stay out of his mother’s hair. Elizabeth McConnell moldered in the ground now, and Paddy plowed another man’s fields.
“We will pray, Father. God will help us.”
“God?” Father kneaded his forehead with calloused fingers. “God’s groping in our pockets right along wi’ your Uncle Sorley. Praying did nae pay our tithes or the hearth tax, did it?”
Surely he didn’t mean that. Everyone knew Edward McConnell to be a godly man.
“We’ll get more seed, Father. It’ll grow next year.” He squared his shoulders and tried to look confident.
“Will nae do us any good. Your Uncle Sorley plans to decrease our tillage in favor of pasture.”
“Wi’ no cut in rent, I’ll wager, and early payment again this year.”
Father spat on the parched ground. “He stopped by yesterday looking for it. Said he’ll call in after services on the Sabbath.” He ground his teeth together. “I’d gi’ anything to see the look on his face when he finds our empty hoose.”
Henry’s chest tightened. Were they moving again? He rubbed the back of his neck and looked across the rolling patchwork of fields to the northeast, where their last home rose above a copse of ash, and where his mother’s daffodils still swayed in the Ulster wind. Four years ago, the cattle plague put them out of that house and into the windowless shack they now shared with Phoebe, their only remaining sow. The hut contained a hearth, a curse necessitating the payment of tax despite the fact that it never contained a fire.
With no peat left and no horse to haul more from the bog, the McConnells relied on a moth-eaten blanket and Phoebe’s body heat for warmth.
They had room to fall; many Catholics lived in the open, bleeding cattle and boiling the gore with sorrel for sustenance. Perhaps his father intended to join them.
“Are we moving again?” he asked.
Father slipped two fingers under his brown tie wig and rubbed his temple, something he often did when puzzled.
Henry followed his gaze to the ruins of Burt Castle, which sat atop a knoll, just above Uncle Sorley’s grand plantation house.
“Nine years we’ve suffered bad luck, Henry. E’er since I buried . . .”
Buried what? Maw? She died five years ago, not nine.
Father sunk his head into his hands, muffling his speech. “I . . . I guess it’s time to . . .”
Henry stepped into the hard, hot field, directly in front of his father. “Father, what in the name of heaven is it?”
Father tilted back his head and whispered to the sky, “Forgive me, Elizabeth.” He looked at Henry. “I buried something. Your maw insisted on it, said it was pagan and she did nae want it in her hoose. I did as she asked. A woman can talk ye into cutting off your own hand, Henry, remember that if ye can.”
Henry nodded, not comprehending, wondering what pagan thing lay buried. He’d never heard it mentioned before, and he was a skilled eavesdropper. “What was it? What did ye bury?”
Father inhaled deeply, removed the worn tricorn from his head, and tucked it under his arm. “I’ll tell ye the whole tale, but first, we have to dig it up. We canny do that until after dark.” He turned without warning and headed for home.
Henry followed him, volleying questions against his back.
Father said nothing until they reached their hut. There, he stormed past Phoebe, flung open the door, and nodded toward a worm-ravaged chest sitting next to a heap of rushes that served as their bed.
“Gather up our claithes and shoes. Use my good cloak for a sack. Bring the dried nettles.” He grabbed the peat spade, the only tool left from his once abundant array of implements, and used it to prop open the door.
“Why bring the nettles?” Henry hated the bitter leaves. “There are more nettles than rocks in Ulster.”
When his father offered no reply, he lobbed another question, desperate for clues as to their destination. “Will ye not wear your good cloak, if we are traveling far?”
“My auld cloak will draw less attention.”
So, they were going to some populous place where good cloaks were bad.
Henry spread the cloak across the dirt floor, careful to avoid Phoebe’s manure. The cloak was long out of fashion, but still a quality garment that Edward McConnell could not afford to replace. He threw their scant belongings into the middle of it, brought the cloak’s corners together, then tied them together to form a sack. Excepting Phoebe and the clothes they wore, the sack contained everything worth saving.
He sat on the rickety chest to watch his father pace.
When Burt Castle became a silhouette against an amber horizon, Father donned his hat and cloak and ducked outside.
Henry followed him to the stone wall separating their field from Uncle Archibald’s.
Father began to tumble a section of wall.
With his perplexity and fear mounting, Henry assisted until there was enough of a breach to push Phoebe through the wall.
She trotted away, grunting and wagging her curly tail, while he helped restack the stones to prevent her from returning.
He could no longer hold his tongue.
“What are we doing? Why are we putting Phoebe in Uncle Archibald and Aunt Martha’s field? Are we going somewhere? Where are we going? Why are we taking nettles?”
In his frustration, he grabbed his father’s arm.
Father whirled around and gave Henry’s shoulders a fierce shake. “Get hold of yoursel’, lad, or I’ll cloot ye upside the noggin. No more questions. Just do as ye’re told.”
Henry stared at his father, who had never once laid a hand on him, nor threatened to.
“I’m sorry, lad. Go on in the hoose and get the bundle.”
When Henry returned with their belongings, his father was holding the peat spade.
“Get a good look around ye, son. It’s the last time ye’ll clap eyes on your hame.”

Interview

  • Give us the history of you. (family life, where you’re from, etc.)

I’m a native Pennsylvanian, but I lived in Virginia for two years and Ireland for six months. I spend a lot of time reading colonial documents, thanks to a fascination with early American history.

  • Tell us about your new book in 10 words or less.

Father/son duo seeks love and fortune in frontier Pennsylvania.

  • Walk me through the process that you went through to write your new book.

At the end of my debut novel, SCENT OF THE SOUL, an American woman shows up at a Scottish gift shop with a gold torc she unearthed at her Pennsylvania farm. Here’s a photo of it.

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Readers know who the torc belongs to, but they are left to wonder how it got to Pennsylvania. I wanted SCATTERED SEEDS to tell that story. I decided my own ancestors, Edward and Henry McConnell, would be the ones to deliver the torc from Ireland to America in 1755.

Once I had the basic plot, it was just a matter of fitting the story within known events, which meant lots of research about the French & Indian War. It also meant studying immigrant vessels of the day and learning sailing terms. I assure you, my head was spinning by the time I typed THE END on this one, but I firmly believe it was worth it.

  • How did you come up with your book’s name?

My characters are connected to seeds in several ways. Because they descend from a king (Somerled from my debut novel), they consider themselves scattered seeds. My character puts it this way:

“His descendants are many, and scattered like windblown seeds. Many of them rooted in Scotland, some floated across the sea, and some, like us, blew into this godforsaken muckhole called Ireland.”

For tenant farmers like Edward and Henry McConnell, prosperity always seems to hinge upon the next harvest. In the beginning of the novel, drought kills their expensive flaxseed, which plunges them into poverty. They flee Ireland for America, where they again look to seed to save them. They haul bags of it across unforgiving wilderness, and break their backs to plow and plant their fields. But my young character, Henry, endures crushing toil and hardship, knowing that once the grain is winnowed and bagged, they will haul it back to civilization . . . where he hopes to find his lost love.

 

  • What made you decide to write this book?

I ask myself that very question about each book I write. It’s not a great time to be an author. The market is saturated, which means it’s tougher than ever to stand out. It doesn’t help that I always seem to set my novels in lesser known (and therefore, lesser read) time periods. I can’t help myself, though. I love early America, and I hold hope that one day, readers will, too.

  • How many characters are based on people you actually know? Do those people know they were the basis for your characters?

Edward and Henry McConnell existed, but of course, I can only guess what they were like. They are Scots-Irish, so they sound very much like my Glasgow-born Irish husband. Some characters take on traits of people I know or have seen. Like many writers, I’m a skilled eavesdropper. I observe and tuck away little behavioral tidbits for future use.

  • How many publishers did you send your book to before it was picked up?

I only queried one publisher this time around, but I entered the book in the Dixie Kane contest and tied for second in the historical category.

  • What book did you read most recently that you loved, and would recommend to everyone?

I recently re-read THE FOREST AND THE FORT by Hervey Allen, one of my favorites. I love those older books, written before worldwide ban on purple prose and adverbs.

  • Any tips for new writers?

Write what you are passionate about. Zeal in literature is infectious. If you love what you write, your readers will, too.

  • Have you ever liked the movie more than the book? Be honest

I really don’t think so. We watch movies, but we live books. Books allow us to become the characters. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a good movie, and certainly, film producers can take a mediocre book and turn it into something spectacular.

  • Are there any popular books you know you would never read?

If there are, it would only be because the subject matter doesn’t interest me. I’ll read just about anything, though.

  • What are you working on now?

Another frontier story featuring a female protagonist. Picture LAST OF THE MOHICANS meets THE REVENANT, only with one bad-ass German widow who’s sick of living in a man’s world.

  • Anything else you would like to add?

Just that I appreciate you featuring me here. Thanks, too, to anyone willing to give my novel a chance. You can read the first five chapters for free at Amazon. Give it a try. You might just find a new favorite setting—the French & Indian War period.

 

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/SquareSails

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

Blog: http://juliedoherty.com/blog/

Thanks so much to Julie Doherty for agreeing to be on the blog today!!! ❤

About the Author:

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Julie Doherty expected to follow in her artist-father’s footsteps, but words, not oils, became her medium. Her novels have been called “romance with teeth” and “a sublime mix of history and suspense.”

 

Her marriage to a Glasgow-born Irishman means frequent visits to the Celtic countries, where she studies the culture that liberally flavors her stories. When not writing, she enjoys cooking over an open fire at her cabin, gardening, and hiking the ridges and valleys of rural Pennsylvania, where she lives just a short distance from the farm carved out of the wilderness by her 18th century “Scotch-Irish” ancestors.

 

She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Central Pennsylvania Romance Writers, Perry County Council of the Arts, and Clan Donald USA.

 

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SquareSails

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/532434.Julie_Doherty

Web: http://juliedoherty.com/

Blog: http://juliedoherty.com/blog

 

kattie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tour giveaway

 

$30 Amazon gift card

 

5 free Kindle copies of SCATTERED SEEDS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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