Tag Archive | historical fiction

Eliza Redgold: Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva (Giveaway)

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The Morning (After) Gift

 Silently he rolled away and reached over to where his belt laid cast aside on the floor. My eagle gold beside it.

A small leather pouch. He held it out it to me.

“The morgengifu. Your morning gift.”

My brow furrowed. “But we’ve set our terms.”

Coventry. Was he revoking our agreement?

He shrugged and pressed the package into my palm.

Slowly I untied the long cord.

A ring. A dull gleam of gold. Carved swirls. A large smooth gem in the centre, egg shaped. I held it up to the light.

The gem glowed red as a wood berry. “It’s beautiful.”

“A ruby.”

I’d not expected such a courtesy of him, just as I hadn’t expected the pleasure he’d given me.

I slipped the ring onto my finger. “Thank you,” I said, made shy. “Where did it come from?”

“It was my mother’s. It’s Mercian made.”

So he’d brought it with him to Coventry. The eagle belt too he must have had with him. He must carry them with him always, a family keepsake.

“And now you give it to me.” 

A beautiful old custom I discovered while writing NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva was the Anglo-Saxon custom of the morgengifu or ‘morning gift’.

The morning gift was given to a bride by her husband the morning after their wedding. It could be land, money, goods or jewels. More than a mere dowry, it defined the power relations in a marriage and between the two families of the bride and groom joined in wedlock. Negotiations could be heated and many alliances (and misalliances) were built.

In NAKED, Godiva’s morgengifu is more than the ring she receives by surprise from her new husband. Historical documents from the 11th century show Godiva’s name as a female landowner. Her status as a landowner indicates that she inherited her own estate. Godiva had a lot to offer … and a lot to lose.

Marriage was a risk for Anglo-Saxon noblewomen like Lady Godiva. As Lord Leofric puts it:

“There’s something you have forgotten.” Moving nearer still, he closed the gap I’d stretched between us. His breath warmed my cheek. “The morgengifu is given to a woman by her husband the morning after their wedding night. Not before. To wed is to gamble. In our language even the words have the same meaning.”

Godiva vows to protect her land and her people, whatever the cost. As you’ll discover in NAKED, her marriage gamble may cost her virtue, her heart… or her life.

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About Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva

We know of her naked ride. We don’t know her true story.

We all know the legend of Lady Godiva, who famously rode naked through the streets of Coventry, covered only by her long, flowing hair. So the story goes, she begged her husband Lord Leofric of Mercia to lift a high tax on her people, who would starve if forced to pay. Lord Leofric demanded a forfeit: that Godiva ride naked on horseback through the town. There are various endings to Godiva’s ride, that all the people of Coventry closed their doors and refused to look upon their liege lady (except for ‘peeping Tom’) and that her husband, in remorse, lifted the tax.

Naked is an original version of Godiva’s tale with a twist that may be closer to the truth: by the end of his life Leofric had fallen deeply in love with Lady Godiva. A tale of legendary courage and extraordinary passion, Naked brings an epic story new voice.

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Excerpt

Magic sparkled in the sunlight, falling on the leaves as we reached the edge of the Forest of Arden.

Leofric stroked Wyrd’s neck as we tethered our horses. “This is a sacred place.”

“How did you know?”

Arden was the home of our ancient spirits but it wasn’t common knowledge beyond our borders. Many still came to worship in Arden on holy days, but only those who lived in the Middle Lands.

A shrug was his only reply as we went deeper into the forest by foot, the oaks, elms and poplars whispering their mysterious welcome. Yet I swore he bowed as we entered the deep green grove.

About the Author

MediaKit_AuthorPic_Naked copyEliza Redgold is an author, academic and unashamed romantic.

Eliza Redgold is based upon the old, Gaelic meaning of her name, Dr Elizabeth Reid Boyd. She was born in Irvine, Scotland on Marymass Day and currently lives in Australia. She has presented academic papers on women and romance and is a contributor to the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Romance Fiction. Eliza has also written two upcoming Victorian historical romances for Harlequin Historical. Look out for Enticing Benedict Cole in November 2015.

NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva was released internationally by St Martin’s Press New York in July 2015.

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Linda Bennett Pennell: Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn (Giveaway)

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Linda will be awarding $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Click here for the Rafflecopter. Click the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chances of winning.

Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn is set in 1943 in the weeks leading up to the First Allied Conference. The book could just as easily have been entitled Unconditional Surrender. It was at the conference that Roosevelt and Churchill set that policy with regard to surrender of the Axis powers. Might have made a nice little double entendre, no?

In the novel, the hero, OSS officer Kurt Heinz, is sent on a mission that has a high chance of proving fatal. If he is successful, no one will ever know of his heroism and that he prevented disaster from occurring for the Allied war effort. As he flies toward danger, he thinks about Sarah, the army nurse whom he loves. Their paths crossed by accident in a vortex of danger and intrigue. Falling in love was unexpected and unwanted, but became an undeniable force for both of them. Kurt scribbles a last minute letter to Sarah as he prepares to parachute into the night somewhere over the Tunisian desert.

My Darling,

I owe you an apology and I must beg your forgiveness. I still can’t tell you where I’m going or what I will be doing, but I should have been honest with you about one thing. The chances of my coming back from this are not great. I should never have talked you into promising to wait for me. It was selfish and wrong. You are young and beautiful with your whole life ahead of you. You shouldn’t spend months or years waiting and worrying, but even now, I cannot bring myself to tell you to forget me. A less selfish man would write those words and mean them.

If I don’t make it, live life for both of us. Find a guy who will love you and take care of you. You deserve happiness, marriage, children, and that little cottage with the white picket fence you said you wanted. For now, I can’t promise anything except that I love you with my whole heart and will cherish our time together as the most important and happiest of my life.

With All My Love,

Kurt

What is this suicide mission Kurt is on? Does he make it back alive? Does Sarah wait for him?

The answers are in Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn.

About Casablanca: Appointment at Dawn

Casablanca, 1943: a viper’s nest of double agents and spies where OSS Officer Kurt Heinz finds his skill in covert operations pushed to the limit. Allied success in North Africa and the fate of the First Allied Conference—perhaps the outcome of the war—hang on Kurt’s next mission. The nature of his work makes relationships impossible. Nonetheless, he is increasingly torn between duty and the beautiful girl who desperately needs his protection and help.

Sarah Barrett, U.S. Army R.N., is finished with wartime romance. Determined to protect her recently broken heart, she throws all of her time and energy into caring for her patients, but when she is given a coded message by a mysterious dying civilian, she is sucked into a vortex of danger and intrigue that threatens her very survival. The one person who can help Sarah is Kurt Heinz, a man with too many secrets to be trusted.

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Excerpt

Kurt watched in dismay as the man in gray picked up his fedora and rose from the table next to the one recently vacated by the two women. This had to be his contact. The man had watched Kurt on the sly since he arrived at the restaurant. Moreover, the guy matched the description right down to the red pocket square in his suit breast pocket and the thin, pale scar running along his left jawline. Making a quick decision, Kurt pushed his chair back and tossed some cash on the table.

“It’s been interesting guys, but I’m calling it a night. Use this to cover my tab.”

“What’s the rush, Heinz? We haven’t even ordered dinner.”

“I guess my sins are catching up with me. It’s return to quarters and bed for me.”

“You headed back with us on the return flight tomorrow?”

“Nope, I’m here with the Old Man for the duration. You boys have a good trip.”

The street was nearly deserted when Kurt stepped out onto its glistening concrete surface. Misty rain created halos around the sparse street lamps and obscured most objects more than a few feet distant. Only the two women, Sarah and Agnes, stood under an umbrella waiting for a taxi. Kurt watched them from the restaurant’s portico. Focused on their conversation, they seemed oblivious to anyone behind them.

Glancing to his right, Kurt saw his man in gray scurrying toward the cross street. He stepped onto the sidewalk and crept along a good twenty paces behind. When his quarry slowed at the corner and looked back over his shoulder, Kurt stepped into the shadow of a doorway behind the taxi stand and waited. If this guy didn’t want to make contact, he wouldn’t appreciate being followed.

About the Author

AuthorPhoto_CasablancaAppointmentAtDawn copyI have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother’s porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the American South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.

As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to her or himself, “Let’s pretend.”

I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one adorable German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite certain she’s a little girl.

“History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up.” Voltaire

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Other Books:

Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel (Soul Mate Publishing)

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Confederado do Norte (Soul Mate Publishing)

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When War Came Home (Real Cypress Press)

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Jeanette Watts: Wealth and Privilege

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Jeanette will be awarding a Victorian cameo to a randomly drawn winner (international) via Rafflecopter during the tour. Click here for the Rafflecopter. Click the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chances of winning.

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Interview with Jeanette Watts

Susana: Do you have a favorite quote or saying?

Jeanette: There are two expressions that always keep my life in perspective.

Susana: One of them is “I’d rather be lucky than good.” There are always millions of people around the world with incredible talents. But the vast majority never get that “Lucky Break” that makes a would-be actress into a star, or a good basketball player into a national hero.

Jeanette: My second expression is “The stitch ripper is your friend…be one with the stitch ripper.” I sew. A lot. I always have friends over to sew with me. I’ve taught a lot of people how to sew. Part of sewing is making a mistake, and having to rip out the stitches and do it again. Some people find a lot of shame in making these mistakes, I came up with this mantra to take away some of the stress. Sewing is like life. We all make mistakes. The nice thing about sewing, we can rip out the stitches and we get a do-over. How awesome is that?

Susana: When was the moment that you knew you had to be a writer?

AuthorPhoto_WealthAndPrivilege copyJeanette: When I was in 5th and 6th grade, I used to make up stories in my head and tell them to my best friend while we were walking to school. I’d have an ongoing serial, and every day I’d give her the new installment. One day, she dragged me over to another friend of ours, and she told me to tell one of my stories to this other person. I tried to reproduce it as best I could, but I kept leaving out details. That’s when my best friend exclaimed, “What do you mean, you aren’t writing these down?!” She changed my life that day. I’ve been a writer ever since.

Susana: What are you reading now?

Jeanette: The biography of Amelia Bloomer. I absolutely adore biographies! David McCullough is awesome, although I’ll read all sorts of different authors.

Susana: What comes first: the plot or the characters?

Jeanette: The characters, of course! A writer can have a plot in mind, but characters who really come to life take on a spirit of their own, and they will derail your plot. When that happens, all you can do is run with it. If you try to force the characters to suit the plot, it is always to the detriment of the story. You have to stay true to the characters.

Susana: What author or authors have most influenced your writing?

Jeanette: Margaret Mitchell. Gone With the Wind is the one book that has had a huge impact on my writing. She did her homework, then did some more, then did some more. The characters may be fictional, but the eyewitness account she gives of the Civil War and Reconstruction are spot on. I spent a lot of years researching for Wealth and Privilege, because I needed to live up to that standard.

Susana: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?

Jeanette: That I don’t actually own dogs. My husband is allergic to everything with fur, so I can’t have any pets. And no, I’m not interested in fish. So Anthra and Bit are the fantasy dogs I would have if I could. I love labs!

Susana: If your publisher offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming project, where would you mostly likely want to go? Why?

Jeanette: Greece. I have had one particular love story floating around in my head for something like 20 years. I haven’t written it down because I haven’t figured out the setting yet. Is it science fiction or fantasy? Is it a contemporary drama? Is it historic fiction? I think I found my answer when we went to Athens and Sparta on vacation. I think I want to set it during the Peloponnesian War.

Susana: Who gave you the writing advice that sticks with you to this day?

Jeanette: I had two English professors at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who had policies that will be with me all my life. One professor used to hand out writing assignments and say “Just be brilliant!” His view on the world was that if you treat people like geniuses, they will perform like geniuses. If you treat them like idiots, they will behave like idiots. I did some of my best writing for him, just because he told me to. This is less writing advice than it is life advice, but I learned it in a writing class.

The other English professor was this stern and somewhat intimidating fellow who surprised the hell out of me when he told my class that if they were having trouble getting ideas written out on paper because they were censoring things before they were written out, just “give your internal censor a shot and tell it to go to sleep for awhile.” While I don’t recommend becoming an alcoholic, I do think the fundamental advice is very sound. Get everything down on paper, THEN go back and edit.

Susana: What are your favorite pastimes?

Jeanette: I’m a seamstress, a dancer, and a fencer (although I haven’t done it for a couple of years, and I miss it terribly). I do all kinds of different dance forms – everything BUT tap, jazz and ballet. That includes international folk dancing, and swing dancing, and belly dance. I want the opportunity to take up Argentine Tango. I also am always working on our house. We’ve just finished remodeling the kitchen, so now I’m eyeing the peeling paint in the dining room. I’ve refinished woodwork in several parts of our house. Paint is the devil, and should never be applied to gorgeous pieces of oak.

Susana: What has been your biggest adventure to date?

Jeanette: Starting a Cancan troupe. It’s called Madame Gigi’s Outrageous French Cancan Dancers. I started with me, two yoga instructors, two teenagers, an elementary school teacher and my living room. We borrowed pettipants, made the petticoats, and had no clue what we were doing. Now I have 15 dancers, including men, we dance at the biggest Bastille Day festival in the country, we’ve done more television appearances than we can count, and we have had invitations from Boston to San Diego to Hong Kong (which, sadly, fell through). The dancers keep getting better, the costumes keep getting better, the audiences keep getting bigger. It’s been an amazing journey!

Susana: What is the one modern convenience you can’t do without?

Jeanette: As tempted as I am to say my iPhone, because I’m totally addicted to it, I’m going to name the less newly-minted automobile. I know I could get by without my phone if I had to. But I don’t want to think about not being able to get in a vehicle and drive to another city for a dance, or back to Wisconsin to see friends, or out to some exciting new city for a book signing! I love to travel. Life without the ability to go places? Horrifying.

About Wealth and Privilege

Money. Family. Love. Hate. Obsession. Duty. Politics. Religion – or the lack thereof. Sex — or, once again, the lack thereof.

Thomas Baldwin finds himself married to a woman he can’t stand, while head-over heels in love with another woman he can’t have. Talk about bad planning. He feels like a kite, buffeted by circumstances which blow him not only through personal crises, but also through some of the most significant events in Pittsburgh during the late 1800s, including the railroad riots of 1877, the creation of the Homestead Steel Works, the assassination of President Garfield, and the Johnstown Flood. Over time, and with the help of his muse, who dances maddeningly just beyond his reach, he takes control of his life, wresting it from the winds attempting to control him.

A carefully-researched historical novel about life among the privileged class of Pittsburgh during the Industrial Revolution.

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Excerpt

A soft rumble of thunder sounded in the distance, and they both groaned.

“Just what we need,” Thomas observed. “More water.”

“Well, I suppose thunder doesn’t necessarily mean more rain,” Regina answered hopefully.

It was an odd sort of thunder. It took Thomas a moment to realize why. Then it occurred to him that it was continuous, and getting louder, instead of fading away.

A strange black fog began to drift through the air. They froze, staring at each other, listening. The rumble increased like – what? It was a cross between an oncoming train, and – and – Thomas imagined this must be what an avalanche must sound like.

Then he knew what was going on. The South Fork dam had broken!

Before he could share his insight, Regina’s face changed. She stared up Clinton Street, mouth open, eyes wide with horror. She pointed, incoherent noises issuing from her throat. Thomas turned, and nearly fell off their precarious little raft.

The source of the crashing rumble was a towering wall of debris moving toward them. A misty black cloud hung in the air, occasionally obscuring the horrific sight. A writhing mass of tree roots, rooftops, planks, railroad pieces and other metal parts tumbled over and over upon itself.

The rumble had clarified into a roar of screaming and crashing as the rapidly approaching behemoth rolled toward them.   They couldn’t outrun it, either on or off their little craft. Regina pointed to the nearest building. The brick corners were coined, laid unevenly enough to make a decent ladder. Thomas understood without a word. They poled their way across the watery distance, desperation giving them strength and speed.

About the Author

Jeanette Watts has written television commercials, marketing newspapers, stage melodramas, four screenplays, three novels, and a textbook on waltzing.

When she isn’t writing, she teaches social ballroom dances, refinishes various parts of her house, and sews historical costumes and dance costumes for her Cancan troupe.

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Ramona Flightner and Banished Love

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 One randomly chosen commenter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card. Click here for the Rafflecopter. Click on the banner above to follow the tour and increase your chances of winning.

About Banished Love

Free-Spirited…

Clarissa Sullivan dreams for more from life than sipping tepid tea in stifling parlors in Victorian Boston. She defies her family’s wishes, continuing to teach poor immigrant children in Boston’s West End, finding a much-needed purpose to her life.

Radical…

As a suffragette, Clarissa is considered a firebrand radical no man would desire. For why should women want the vote when men have sheltered women from the distasteful aspects of politics and law?

Determined…

When love blossoms between Clarissa and Gabriel McLeod, a struggling cabinetmaker, her family objects. Clarissa’s love and determination will be tested as she faces class prejudices, manipulative family members and social convention in order to live the life she desires with the man she loves.

Will she succeed? Or will she yield to expectations?

Banished Love follows Clarissa Sullivan on her journey of self-discovery as she learns what she cannot live without.

Available

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Excerpt

MEDIA KIT Banished Love Book Cover“You’ve known my beliefs for some time,” I croaked out.

“A schoolgirl’s idealism,” she snapped. “Nothing to be acted on.”

Mrs. Chickering cleared her throat, as though to remind Mrs. Smythe she remained present. “I think it takes a tremendous strength of character to have beliefs and then actually act on them,” she said with her own fervor. “I would hate for women to lock away their desires for a better world once they leave school or marry. They, as women, have lives, have hopes and dreams for the future, independent of what a man might want.”

“How dare you come into my house and tell me that what I have is not sufficient?” Mrs. Smythe gasped.

“I am saying no such thing, Mrs. Sullivan,” Mrs. Chickering replied. “I believe you need to understand that your stepdaughter has beliefs and aspirations that are different from yours.”

“Aspirations that include the vote?” Mrs. Smythe scoffed. “Men have voted in the past, they will continue to vote, and I have no desire of it. I feel as my husband does on all things to do with politics, so it would only be giving the same politician two votes rather than one. There’s no purpose to women having the vote.” Her eyes flashed, true enmity in their depths as she glared at Mrs. Chickering. “And didn’t we women of Massachusetts show you suffragettes we didn’t want the vote in’95? No one voted for women to become enfranchised then, and they won’t now.” She sighed loudly, as though trying to calm herself.

“An aspiration for independence?” Mrs. Smythe continued, unable to stop speaking. “Are you telling me that someday it should be lauded, hoped for, that young women become independent and have no need for marriage? No need for children? How could that ever be a hoped-for future? You and your group want too much for women. Women should focus on their home, on creating a moral, upstanding environment in which to raise children. She will want for nothing if she has such a home,” Mrs. Smythe argued.

“So I suppose women should remain tied to the kitchen stove with children at their ankles, and a husband who might, or might not, come home with a paycheck as their only recourse?” Mrs. Chickering countered. “Relying on the benevolence of men to write laws and enforce them without women having any involvement in the legislative process? Sitting at home knitting, hoping that men will ensure that our rights are protected? That is all you envision for women? Nothing more?”

“It has been enough for generations. I do not know why it should need to change now,” Mrs. Smythe snapped, banging down her teacup with such force I thought she might crack it.

“Was that enough for you in your first marriage, Mrs. Sullivan?” Mrs. Chickering asked, pinning her with an intense gaze.

About the Author

Ramona Flightner is a native of Missoula, Montana. After graduating from Tufts University with a B.A. in Spanish, she earned a Masters degree in Spanish Literature from the University of Montana. Her Master’s thesis, Chilean Testimonial Literature: the collective suffering of a people, highlighted her continued interest in the stories of those who were at risk of being forgotten or silenced.

MEDIA KIT Author photoShe studied nursing at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with a Master’s in Nursing as a Family Nurse Practitioner. She has worked for ten years as a family nurse practitioner providing care to the poor and under insured at two community health centers, first in Wilmington, Delaware and now in Boston, Massachusetts.

An avid reader, she began writing three years ago. She enjoys the demands of research and relishes the small discoveries that give historical detail to her books.

Ramona is an avid flyfisher and hiker who enjoys nothing better than spending a day on a remote Montana river, far from a city. She enjoys research, travel, storytelling, learning about new cultures and discovering new ways of looking at the world. Though she resides in Boston, Massachusetts, Ramona remains a Montanan at heart.

Her dreams are to see the plains of East Africa, marvel at the wonder of Petra in Jordan, soak in the seas of the South Pacific, and to continue to spend as much time as possible with her family.

Banished Love is her first novel and is the first in the forthcoming Banished Saga. 

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