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Monday, August 31, 2015

Book Review & Giveaway: The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie

sisters of versailles

The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie
Series: The Mistresses of Versailles
ARC, Kindle, 432 pages
Atria Books
September 1, 2015

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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received for review as part of TLC Book Tours

A sumptuous and sensual tale of power, romance, family, and betrayal centered around four sisters and one King. Carefully researched and ornately detailed, The Sisters of Versailles is the first book in an exciting new historical fiction trilogy about King Louis XV, France's most "well-beloved" monarch, and the women who shared his heart and his bed.
Goodness, but sisters are a thing to fear.

Set against the lavish backdrop of the French Court in the early years of the 18th century, The Sisters of Versailles is the extraordinary tale of the five Nesle sisters: Louise, Pauline, Diane, Hortense, and Marie-Anne, four of whom became mistresses to King Louis XV. Their scandalous story is stranger than fiction but true in every shocking, amusing, and heartbreaking detail.

Court intriguers are beginning to sense that young King Louis XV, after seven years of marriage, is tiring of his Polish wife. The race is on to find a mistress for the royal bed as various factions put their best foot - and women - forward. The King's scheming ministers push Louise, the eldest of the aristocratic Nesle sisters, into the arms of the King. Over the following decade, the four sisters:sweet, naive Louise; ambitious Pauline; complacent Diane, and cunning Marie Anne, will conspire, betray, suffer, and triumph in a desperate fight for both love and power.

In the tradition of The Other Boleyn Girl, The Sisters of Versailles is a clever, intelligent, and absorbing novel that historical fiction fans will devour. Based on meticulous research on a group of women never before written about in English, Sally Christie's stunning debut is a complex exploration of power and sisterhood; of the admiration, competition, and even hatred that can coexist within a family when the stakes are high enough.

French history is an area that my knowledge is considered sketchy at best and what I do know, is primarily Marie Antoinette/Louis XVI and Napoleon. And…that’s about it. Of course I have heard of The Sun King and Louis XV, but I couldn’t tell you much more than their names. So, quite frankly, I had never heard of the Nesle sisters. But let me tell you, if you think The Sun King (Louis XIV) and Charles II of England had interesting mistresses, Louis XV is right up there with them (and if you love reading about their exploits, you will enjoy this book too)!

With five sisters that are all going to have significant leading roles in the novel, they need to each be established as their own identity. Christie does a great job very early on of establishing these ladies as their own people, right from their childhood. And their personalities later on in life were consistent with their childhood lives – which was nice to see the consistency. And I had very decided opinions on ALL of these women: I HATED Pauline the whole time; came to HATE Mary-Anne over time; felt bad for Louise and really wanted her to stop being a push-over; Hortense was so righteous and occasionally got on my nerves; and Diane who was sort of innocent in the hedonistic world of Versailles. I feel like in their own sort of skewed way, these ladies represented a traditional sisterly arrangement (as traditional as you can be when 4 of the 5 sleep with the same man!); they supported each other, fought with each other, and pushed each other out to take on the spotlight. Besides the sisters, we were given a great cast of side characters and you really get to know them, they are not just on the fringes – this includes the Queen, the king’s ministers, some of the other ladies that the women are frenemies with. And don’t forget the King himself! These women represented over a decade of the king’s life and through their window we see the king grow and change through time as he learns from them and also comes into his own after the death of the cardinal.

The plot raced right along, I have nothing to complain about there. The way the story bounces back and forth between the different sisters as narrators keeps it lively and shifts your perspective, which certainly helps move the plot along. Additionally, with a story focused on court intrigue and rivalry between sisters, there is ALWAYS something happening.

I only have one issue with this book…and that is the overuse of the word “sororal”. According to my Kindle, it was used 18 times. Now I don’t normally notice these kinds of things. However, with a word that stands out because it is not normally used in everyday language today, it stands out like a sore thumb. Every time I encountered the word is shook me out of the narrative and actually started to make me angry as I encountered it more and more. I understand that it well describes the sisterly relationship, but a few uses would have been more than enough. Rant over, I’m sorry.

Overall, a wonderful read, and I cannot wait to read the next 2 books in the series (that’s right, 2 more books).

If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book? There are also some great resources about the sisters available on the author’s website.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Also by Sally Christie:

This is the debut novel by Sallie Christie, however, here is what we can look forward to with the rest of this series:

rivals of versailles

The Rivals of Versailles (Book 2) Coming April 2016

“The Rivals of Versailles continues the story of King Louis XV and his lady loves, this time focusing on the fabulous Madame de Pompadour, a little girl from the middle classes who rose to become the virtual Queen of France.  Best of all? Lots of characters from the first book play active roles in this second book (as a writer, I love that - sometimes it’s hard to let characters go!).  Madame de Pompadour's voice and story are balanced against a few of her many rivals - as Louis XV continues his descent into pure libertinage, Madame de Pompadour was along for the ride....”

the enemies of versailles

The Enemies of Versailles (Book 3) Coming in 2017

“The third and final book about the mistresses of Louis XV, entitled The Enemies of Versailles, will focus on the fabulous Comtesse du Barry, the last official mistress of Louis XV.  She had a hoot of a life, and many fans of Marie Antoinette will be familiar with her - du Barry overlapped with Marie Antoinette for several years at Versailles.  I'm planning to balance her voice with that of Madame Adelaide, the King's eldest daughter, and I'm really looking forward to writing history from both their perspectives.”

Find Sally Christie: : Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest



I have a giveaway to offer readers from the USA and Canada as part of the blog tour!!! It is for one copy of The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie.  Entries will be made through the Rafflecopter widget below.  Good luck!! Giveaway ends Sunday September 13th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Follow the Tour

tlc book tours

Sally Christie’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, August 17th: Broken Teepee

Tuesday, August 18th: The Reading Date

Wednesday, August 19th: Scandalous Women

Wednesday, August 19th: Raven Haired Girl

Monday, August 24th: Peeking Between the Pages – Review and “Sister” Bio**

Tuesday, August 25th: Curling Up With A Good Book – “Sister” Bio **

Wednesday, August 26th: Stephanie’s Reviews… 100 Pages a Day

Thursday, August 27th: Historical-Fiction.com

Friday, August 28th: Bibliophilia, Please

Monday, August 31st: The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, September 1st: Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, September 1st: Books a la Mode – author guest post & giveaway

Wednesday, September 2nd: Life is Story

Thursday, September 3rd: Book Dilettante

Friday, September 4th: Books Without Any Pictures

Monday, September 7th: A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, September 8th: A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, September 9th: Read. Write. Repeat.

Thursday, September 10th: Lavish Bookshelf

Friday, September 11th: A Literary Vacation

Monday, September 14th: Ace and Hoser Blog – Review and “Sister” Bio **

Tuesday, September 15th: Living in the Kitchen With Puppies **

Wednesday, September 16th: The Baking Bookworm  **

Thursday, September 17th: #redhead.with.book – Review and “Sister” Bio **

Monday, September 21st: Snowdrop Dreams of Books – Review and “Sister” Bio **

Monday, September 28th: Pingwing’s Bookshelf **

** denotes Canadian bloggers


Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Book Review: Gallagher's Hope by M.K. McClintock

gallagher's hope
Gallagher’s Hope by M.K. McClintock
Book 2 of the Montana Gallagher series
Unabridged, 7 hr. 8 min.
Trapper’s Peak Publishing
Alan Philip Ormond (Narrator)
March 6, 2015
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Genre: Historical Romance, Western
Source: Received audio download from the author
She sought a new beginning. 
He sought what he didn't know was missing. 
Together they would discover hope in unlikely places. 
Isabelle Rousseau must escape New Orleans and the memory of her family's tragic loss. With her younger brother in tow, she accepts a position as the new schoolteacher in Briarwood, Montana. Desperate to keep what's left of her family together, Isabelle joins her life with a stranger only to discover that trust and hope go hand in hand. 
Gabriel Gallagher lived each day as it came believing he had everything he could possibly want . . . until a determined woman and her brother arrive with a little luggage and a lot of secrets. It will take a drastic choice to protect her and give them both hope for the future.
I can honestly say that I enjoyed Gallagher’s Hope just as much as I enjoyed Gallagher’s Pride. This book continues the story of Ethan, Gabriel, Eliza, and Brenna (who I loved) and introduces us to Isabel Rousseau and her brother, Andrew…only this time the story takes on the perspective of Gabriel and Isabelle.

Isabelle is brought into the Gallagher clan in much the same way as Brenna was – these men LOVE to collect women in trouble! In both occasions, I had to slightly suspend belief that these women would so quickly and easily go with these men when they were newly arrived in town, but I was willing to do so because I enjoy the author’s writing style and the nature of the story being told. Andrew adds a needed light-hearted children’s perspective when there are many heavier moments that the Gallagher’s et al experience in this tale.

While there is some light romance (no bodice ripper here!), the development of that romance occurs naturally within the confines of a story of a family in the west; at times it takes precedence, but at others it steps back and lets the action scenes take over. I think it is the perfect balance of romance, action, hardscrabble life in the west, and heartwarming family story.

My only small qualm is that there is one scene early on when Isabelle is brought to Hawks Peak that is basically a direct overlap from a scene toward the end of Gallagher’s Pride, except that it is seen from the perspective of Gabriel and Isabelle rather than Ethan and Brenna. And while this served well to tie the timeline and progression of the two stories together, the fact that I read these stories back to back made it feel extremely repetitive.


My thoughts on the narration of this book are fairly similar to those of Gallagher’s Pride - I don’t think that a more perfect narrator could have been found for this book. I just absolutely loved his narration! It felt so true to the characters and story being told. His voice is so smooth with just a touch of drawl that was perfect for the setting of the book. So, not only did the characters and story suck me in, but the narration was the icing on the cake. Loved, loved loved!!

If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book or this audio excerpt?

You can also watch the book trailer below.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Also by M.K. McClintock
Also in the Gallagher's Pride series:
galagher's pride
Gallagher’s Pride (Book 1)
My Review

Gallagher's Choice
Gallagher’s Choice (Book 3)
My Review

An Angel Called Gallagher (Book 4)


Other M.K. McClintock books I have reviewed:

Find M.K. McClintock: Website | Newsletter | Facebook |Pinterest | Twitter | Youtube | Blog

Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Book Review: Decisions for War: 1914-1917 by Richard F. Hamilton and Holger H. Herwig

decisions for war

Decisions for War: 1914-1917 by Richard F. Hamilton and Holger H. Herwig
Paperback, 284 pages
Cambridge University Press
December 13, 2004

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Genre: Non-Fiction

Source: Purchased for my Masters Class

Decisions for War focuses on the choices made by small coteries, in Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia, France, Britain, and elsewhere to address an easy, yet perplexing, question--why did World War I happen? In each case, the decision to enter the war was made by a handful of individuals--monarchs, ministers, military people, party leaders, ambassadors, and a few others. In each case also, we see separate and distinct agendas, the considerations differing from one nation to the next. The leadership of not just the major countries, but also Japan, the Ottoman Empire, Italy, the Balkans, and the United States are explored.

Please note: this is more of an academic review that I submitted for a prior semester Masters class.

Decisions for War, 1914-1917 by Richard F. Hamilton and Holger H. Herwig is a book that I found to be extremely valuable to my understanding of the complex and varied reasons for the belligerents in World War I to decide to enter the fray. The topic is one that many authors have set out to cover in their books as there is a lot of interest in why the war occurred. Hamilton and Herwig set out to present their material in a different way from those other books out there that analyze this topic. Whereas many authors look at the socio-political reasons for war, or discuss the entry into war as a progressive slide, the authors here very clearly theorize that World War I was a direct result of careful decision making and deliberate actions toward war by a small group of decision makers within all of the major powers in the war.

Regarding their thesis, I found Hamilton and Herwig well supported their thesis and through their writing achieved what they set out to prove in their work. There was no question as to what their thesis was; they clearly delineated it in the earliest chapters and proceeded to further support it in each subsequent belligerent’s chapter. In the introduction to each country’s chapter, they enumerated the individual factors that related to their thesis, reminding the reader in each chapter of how they would support their goals. For example, one of the most direct statements supporting their thesis of deliberate war actions occurs at the introduction to the “Austria-Hungary” chapter, “Austria-Hungary’s leaders were the first to opt for war, and they did so with plan and foresight…their action was not inadvertent, it was no accident, or, to use the most frequent cliché, this was no ‘slide into war.’ In short, the timing and the pace of the July Crisis were set in Vienna” (pg 47). They remained focused on their point throughout the work and at no point did I lose sight of their main idea, which has occurred in others non-fiction books I have read. As much as supporting their own thesis, Hamilton and Herwig also chipped away at the thesis of other authors who wrote on the same topic and provided reasoning as to why these other interpretations left a lot of holes in the story of the origins of World War I. As I have not read very widely on this subject I appreciated the introduction of other theories behind the decisions to go to war as this helped to round out my understanding of other theories out there, without having to have read all of the other books.

With regard to my experience reading Decisions for War, 1914-1917, I found this book to be very well laid out with a logical progression and easy to follow. The authors provide background to the period just prior to the war in one concise chapter to give the reader enough information to proceed with their discussion. Then each of the major powers has their own chapter which focuses on that country’s individual situation surrounding their entry into war – providing important personages and how that group of people reached their decision to partake in the war. Following the major powers are chapters on the later entering belligerents, whose reasons for war were very different from the major powers. Focusing on each country in this way allowed me to get into the mindset of that particular country and see the situation from their perspective, rather than from the grand scheme of an outsider. I think this approach was effective in helping the authors to clearly stick to their thesis as well as to achieve their thesis. I believe that to look at something from the big picture tends to lean the resulting analysis toward a sociological rationale as you are more likely to look for trends amongst the group, rather than the individual level where you can really dig into things.

The only section of this book that I think would have benefited from being tightened up a little bit is the final chapter, “On the Origins of the Catastrophe”. I understand that the purpose of this chapter was to take what the authors compiled during each of the preceding individual country’s chapters and bring them together into the culminating analysis of their thesis, and this is what they did. While I understand the purpose, the execution left the text feeling redundant to me. There was again an analysis of the major powers and the minor powers and their respective power players. This may have worked well as an actual conclusion if they had wrapped it up there; however, they proceeded to introduce some newer analysis following this rehashing which felt like a reopening of the topic again instead of bringing it to a close. Further, when the authors did bring the book to a close, it was rather abrupt and on a seemingly new area of analysis that they had not discussed before – how World War I was a precursor to World War II. This aspect came seemingly out of left field for me. While it makes sense to draw some conclusions on the effect of World War I on the next great war, it would have made more sense to introduce this issue earlier on or at least allude to the fact that it would be being discussed at some point. These last few paragraphs which conclude the book left me more confused than complete. If the authors wanted to tie into World War II it would have made sense to also draw some parallels throughout the chapters on the individual countries to lead into their concluding section.

My reading experience with this book was very enjoyable and I learned quite a bit about the decision-makers and their rationales for war as promised by the authors in the title and at the outset of the book. I appreciated the easy flow of the narrative and how it did not appear to become mired down anywhere. Each chapter had a deliberate purpose in the greater whole and by the end of the book I felt that each of the important participants in the war had been well represented within the pages of this book.

If you would like to preview the book before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia



Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sunday Updates

Good morning and happy Sunday everyone!!  I hope you are having a nice weekend - we went out to a peach festival yesterday.  We picked up a peach and raspberry pie and a bunch of freshly picked nectarines - both were AMAZING!!  Today starts my version of Hell Week - I have my final research paper due next Sunday, so my every moment that I am home is going to be spent on that; so I may not be around that much this coming week.  Have to prioritize sometimes!

First, I wanted to do a quick summary of things that have went on this week, in case you missed anything:

  • Monday I reviewed Three Links of Chain by Dennis Maley - ★★★½☆☆- Looking for a good HF for your teen/pre-teen? Three Links of Chain addresses the issues of the Underground Railroad and "Bleeding" Kansas admirably.

three links of chain

  • Wednesday I shared a guest post by Eliza Redgold about mead as a honeymoon drink in her novel Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva.  I am super excited to read this one.  In addition to the guest post, there is a tour-wide giveaway too!

02_Naked A Novel of Lady Godiva_Cover

  • Thursday I reviewed Enchantress of Paris by Marci Jefferson - ★★★★ ½☆ - I LOVED this book! I haven't read much set in the court of the Sun King, so it was a new experience for me. Summary of this review: You should get your copy now!  And you can!  There is a giveaway posted with the review - open until the 23rd.

Enchantress of Paris Giveaway

  • Saturday I posted a book blast for Enchantress of Paris for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.  You want another chance to win Enchantress of Paris?  Check out this tour-wide giveaway.

In the reading world this week - I finished 3 books!  Not as impressive as it sounds because I didn't begin reading any of those books this week.  I listened to Gallagher's Choice by M.K. McClintock, finishing up that series.  Review to come soon (I think I still need to review book 2, I have to check!).  I finally finished Lady of the Eternal City by Kate Quinn - looooonnngggg overdue, I know!  But it is done and a review might be upcoming this week, but more likely next week.  And I also finished Enchantress of Paris by Marci Jefferson. 

enchantress of parisGallagher's Choicelady of the eternal city

I started reading The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie for a review/tour stop upcoming in a couple weeks and began listening to The Woman Who Would Be King by Kara Cooney about Hatshepsut of Egypt.  Both are good so far, I am only in the early moments of both of these as I started them yesterday.

sisters of versaillesthe woman who would be king

And last but not least, I have a winner to announce for the giveaway of The Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig... and that winner is...

giveaway over lure of moonflower 




Congrats!!! I have already sent out the email to the winner.  Thanks to everyone that entered and make sure you check out the rest of the giveaways! 

Thanks for being great blog followers, see you later in the week!



Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Enchantress of Paris Book Blast

enchantress of paris

Enchantress of Paris by Marci Jefferson
E-Book & Hardcover, 336 pages
Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press
Published on August 4, 2015
ISBN: 1250057094

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Blurb:

Fraught with conspiracy and passion, the Sun King's opulent court is brought to vivid life in this captivating tale about a woman whose love was more powerful than magic.

The alignment of the stars at Marie Mancini's birth warned that although she would be gifted at divination, she was destined to disgrace her family. Ignoring the dark warnings of his sister and astrologers, Cardinal Mazarin brings his niece to the French court, where the forbidden occult arts thrive in secret. In France, Marie learns her uncle has become the power behind the throne by using her sister Olympia to hold the Sun King, Louis XIV, in thrall.

Desperate to avoid her mother's dying wish that she spend her life in a convent, Marie burns her grimoire, trading Italian superstitions for polite sophistication. But as her star rises, King Louis becomes enchanted by Marie's charm. Sensing a chance to grasp even greater glory, Cardinal Mazarin pits the sisters against each other, showering Marie with diamonds and silks in exchange for bending King Louis to his will.
Disgusted by Mazarin's ruthlessness, Marie rebels. She sacrifices everything, but exposing Mazarin's deepest secret threatens to tear France apart. When even King Louis's love fails to protect Marie, she must summon her forbidden powers of divination to shield her family, protect France, and help the Sun King fulfill his destiny.

You can read an excerpt from Chapter 1 of this WONDERFUL novel at the Macmillan website.


Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | IndieBound | Macmillan


Advanced Praise for Enchantress of Paris:

“Told with vivid historical detail and packed with court intrigue, this is sure to please fans of royal fiction.” — Library Journal

About Marci Jefferson

Years after graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University, immersing herself in a Quality Assurance nursing career, and then having children, Marci realized she’d neglected her passion for history and writing. She began traveling, writing along the way, delving into various bits of history that caught her fancy. The plot for GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN evolved slowly after a trip to London, where she first learned about the Stuart royals. Marci is a member of the Historical Novel Society. She resides in the Midwest with her husband, making hair-bows for their daughter, trying not to step on their son’s Legos, and teaching a tiny Pacific Parrotlet to talk.

Find Marci Jefferson: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter |Pinterest | Goodreads

Follow the Blast Tour!

04_Enchantress of Paris_Book Blast Banner_FINAL

Tuesday, August 4
Unabridged Chick

Wednesday, August 5
Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Curling up by the Fire

Thursday, August 6
Book Lovers Paradise
History From a Woman’s Perspective

Friday, August 7
100 Pages a Day
Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Saturday, August 8
Historical Readings & Reviews

Sunday, August 9
Book Nerd

Monday, August 10
Genre Queen

Tuesday, August 11
A Chick Who Reads
To Read, Or Not to Read

Wednesday, August 12
A Literary Vacation
So Many Books, So Little Time

Thursday, August 13
Broken Teepee
CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, August 14
A Book Geek
The Lit Bitch

Saturday, August 15
The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, August 16
Ageless Pages Reviews

Monday, August 17
Luxury Reading
Boom Baby Reviews

Tuesday, August 18
A Bookish Affair



Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Book Review & Giveaway: Enchantress of Paris by Marci Jefferson

enchantress of paris

Enchantress of Paris by Marci Jefferson
ARC, Hardcover, 336 pages
Thomas Dunne Books
August 4, 2015
★★★★ ½☆

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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from the publisher for review

Fraught with conspiracy and passion, the Sun King's opulent court is brought to vivid life in this captivating tale about a woman whose love was more powerful than magic.
The alignment of the stars at Marie Mancini's birth warned that although she would be gifted at divination, she was destined to disgrace her family. Ignoring the dark warnings of his sister and astrologers, Cardinal Mazarin brings his niece to the French court, where the forbidden occult arts thrive in secret. In France, Marie learns her uncle has become the power behind the throne by using her sister Olympia to hold the Sun King, Louis XIV, in thrall.

Desperate to avoid her mother's dying wish that she spend her life in a convent, Marie burns her grimoire, trading Italian superstitions for polite sophistication. But as her star rises, King Louis becomes enchanted by Marie's charm. Sensing a chance to grasp even greater glory, Cardinal Mazarin pits the sisters against each other, showering Marie with diamonds and silks in exchange for bending King Louis to his will.

Disgusted by Mazarin's ruthlessness, Marie rebels. She sacrifices everything, but exposing Mazarin's deepest secret threatens to tear France apart. When even King Louis's love fails to protect Marie, she must summon her forbidden powers of divination to shield her family, protect France, and help the Sun King fulfill his destiny.

I was a HUGE fan of Marci Jefferson’s first novel, Girl on the Golden Coin, and I could not wait to get my hands on Enchantress of Paris. I can tell you that I was not at all disappointed!

One of the aspects of Golden Coin that I loved was how Jefferson can create characters that pull at the heartstrings, and she doesn’t miss that beat in Enchantress either! There were two or three moments when I had tears in my eyes. I had become invested in the characters and their relationships with each other and to see those relationships bend and break was painful. I think this is because the author crafts characters who are people that I could see standing in front of me and their actions and emotions are entirely believable. Despite the fact that they live in the 17th century, some things just don’t change over time! I loved Marie Mancini – in Jefferson’s hands she is passionate, charming, smart, and strong willed – someone I would love to be friends with. The relationships between the Mancini sisters were sometimes contentious and stormy, while at other times they pulled together for solidarity; sounds just like real sisters to me! I can honestly say that Cardinal Mazarin had pretty much no redeeming qualities; I was all too happy to see him go. And then there is King Louis – I loved him, while at the same time was angry and disappointed with him too.

There are SO many novels set in the royal courts of Europe, and the court of the Sun King is a frequent stop. For me this was a refreshing iteration. Some court novels can drag because of the confines of the life in the court, but Enchantress never encounters that problem. Marie’s life takes her across France, Italy, and Spain and she is not always within the court – so she does have a little more freedom at times. There was always something exciting happening, whether it was court drama, Mancini family drama, or the elements of astrology and belief in magic. Even with all of this excitement, Jefferson balances that with excellent character building.

I could have read so much more about the Mancini’s; those sisters certainly had their share of adventures and excitement. I hope that the author chooses to write more about their stories! Honestly, I would read anything Marci Jefferson writes.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:


Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia


Also by Marci Jefferson:

girl on golden coin

Girl on the Golden Coin [My Review]

Find Marci Jefferson: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest



I have 1 copy of Enchantress of Paris to giveaway to one lucky reader in the USA courtesy of the publisher.  Giveaway is open until August 23rd.  Entries are made through the Rafflecopter application below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Guest Post by Eliza Redgold

Good afternoon everyone!  I hope you are having a good week.  Today I have the chance to share this blog post from Eliza Redgold, author, academic and unashamed romantic. Her new novel Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva was released by St Martin’s Press in July.  I am so excited to read this book, I have had my eye on it since I first found out about it. 

Magical Mead: Godiva's Honeymoon Drink
Guest post by Eliza Redgold, Author of

Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva

02_Naked A Novel of Lady Godiva_Cover


My people were so happy, so pleased to see me wed. After the battle scars and losses of good men in the fight with Thurkill, they needed the festivity, the cheer. I suspected they were also comforted by our new alliance with Mercia and Leofric’s reputation and strength. They didn’t guess at the battle being fought inside me.

Drumming started on the table tops.

“A toast!” The cry came from a Mercian warrior at one the tables below.

“Was Leofric hail!”

“Was Godiva hail!”

I was Lady of Coventry. The sacred act that had been my mother’s, of offering our feast cup full to the brim, was now my task.

I hadn’t expected it to be my wedding cup.

I raised the silver goblet shimmering with amber.

Filled it to overflowing with feast mead. Spiced. Offered it to Leofric.

He grasped it. My fingers too.



For a moment he seemed to caress the cup.

Over the edge of the goblet our stares met.

“Good health! Was hail!”

He bowed.

Lifted it to his lips. And drank.

“To my bride,” he said when he was done.

A hint of a smile. A creased cheek.

More mockery?

“To Coventry,” I said.

The smile vanished.

He released the cup.

“Good health! Was hail!” The cry came again.

I lifted the goblet.

And drank.

Quote from NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva


Honey was considered a ceremonial food in Lady Godiva’s time. Mead is honey wine, an alcoholic beverage made of fermented honey and water. Spices, fruits and grains are added to it according to taste and local tradition. For the Anglo-Saxons, the mead-bench was a place of feasting and celebration.

Mead was often made for special occasions, including weddings – from which we get the sweet name ‘honeymoon’. Traditionally, mead would be drunk by the wedding couple for a full month after a wedding. Imbibing plenty of mead augured well for a good marriage. Today, it still makes a delightful wedding gift.

In the novel, another version of mead drunk by Godiva is called oxymel. In her day, recipes for this secret elixir would have been closely guarded. Oxymel was a health cup made from apple cider, honey and ‘mother’ vinegar that was believed to have life giving properties. Versions of this health drink, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, are still imbibed today.

Honey bees also make an appearance in NAKED. One of the most sacred old symbols is the bee and so it would have been for Lady Godiva. Ancient myths tell of goddesses who would gather nectar from apple orchards of the otherworld, and bring it to earth, bearing their wisdom. The Queen Bee, ruler of the hive, represents leadership and service for the good of all.

The bee is also a symbol of life and immortality. ‘Telling the bees’ was a traditional custom of visiting hives to talk to the bees, as one might do to plants, so that they were part of the community. So legend has it, if bees are not conversed with, they will flee the earth.

In NAKED, Godiva needed to summon up all the wisdom and courage she could. Hopefully, she tapped into the wisdom of the bees - and drinking plenty of mead and oxymel probably helped. If you’d like to taste mead yourself, visit my webpage at www.elizaredgold.com I’ve made some honey themed serving suggestions in the Book Club section and included some worldwide stockists for mead. It’s an enchanting drink. Was hail!

03_Eliza Redgold_Author

ELIZA REDGOLD is based upon the old, Gaelic meaning of her name, Dr Elizabeth Reid Boyd. English folklore has it that if you help a fairy, you will be rewarded with red gold. She has presented academic papers on women and romance and is a contributor to the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Romance Fiction. As a non-fiction author she is co-author of Body Talk: a Power Guide for Girls and Stay-at-Home Mothers: Dialogues and Debates. She was born in Irvine, Scotland on Marymass Day and currently lives in Australia.

Find Eliza Redgold: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

02_Naked A Novel of Lady Godiva_Cover

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Book Blurb:

We know her name. 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.

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | ITunes | IndieBound | Kobo

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On Twitter: #NakedBlogTour   #LadyGodiva

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Tour Wide Giveaway!!

Please note, this giveaway is a HFVBT tour wide giveaway - I am not in charge of the rules or selection of winners.  To enter to win a copy of Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva or a $50 Amazon Gift Card, please enter via the GLEAM form below. Three winners will be chosen.


– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents 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.

Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva Blog Tour



Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, August 10, 2015

Book Review: Three Links of Chain by Dennis Maley

three links of chain

Three Links of Chain by Dennis Maley
ARC, Paperback, 250 pages
July 7, 2015

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Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult

Source: Received a copy from the publisher for review

Blanche thinks he has it good. He has risen above the field hands to a position helping run a printing press. He's well fed, never physically mistreated, and he has taught himself to read, though he keeps the illicit skill a secret. Most importantly, he has been promised a chance at emancipation. Then, in a single bloody morning, his world is overturned, his master lies dead, and the widow has no intention of following through with her husband's promise to free Blanche.

Blanche would never have considered running away from his old life, but faced with the prospect of being sold as a laborer or worse, he forges his free papers and flees north, a fugitive, to create his own future. Only a few steps ahead of the slave catchers, he travels hundreds of miles across the violent backdrop of “bleeding Kansas” in the 1850s, a land torn by apart by two very different visions of humanity.

This richly researched work of fiction weaves actual historical characters and institutions into the gripping story of a young man born into slavery but resolute in his quest for freedom.

Although American history is my favorite location/period to read, the time surrounding the Civil War has never been one of particular interest to me. I was interested in Three Links of Chain because I wanted to see how an issue as heavy and dark as slavery and the Underground Railroad would be handled in a novel aimed at a young adult audience. And overall, I was rather impressed with this book.

One of the aspects that caught and held my attention was that despite the short length of 250 pages, it had the feel of a much longer epic journey. I will compare it in many ways to the travails that Odysseus faces in the Odyssey. Every time Blanche escapes one hardship he lands square in the middle of another, even worse, situation. He has to keep persevering in an attempt to attain his ultimate goal. At many times he questions if he is taking the right action or if he should turn back to some easier end point. I think that the epic adventure quality will be quite successful with younger readers as they get caught up in Blanche’s journey.

The history of the time period (Underground Railroad, Bleeding Kansas, life of slaves on the western frontier) was well integrated into the narrative. The Underground Railroad portion of the story highlights how dangerous it was, whereas I think a lot of novels make it feel a little more glamorous. There was the dangers of trying to walk that line between questioning and trusting the folklore, signs, and people whose hands they were putting their lives. That balance was well achieved as Blanch moved forward; he grew from complete naiveté to someone with a little more experience under his belt. In the early chapters there is the juxtaposition of how Blanche holds himself above those of the field hands because he knows how to read and then how little he really understands about the workings of the greater world.

There was only one place the fell a little flat for me and that was the opening chapter. This was a little unfortunate because it almost made me put it down. The first chapter is set in and around an outhouse. And while I have no issues with that per se, and it was an interesting gimmick, it felt very weird to me. It was more like you shouldn’t be there and I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the feel the author was going for because you were very distinctly supposed to be there. It just felt out of place and it pulled me out of the narrative. If the chapter had been a little further into the narrative, I don’t think I would have had as much issue with it, but as an introduction I found it awkward. However, it might grab the attention of young adults better than adults, I don’t know.

If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Find Dennis Maley: Website | Facebook | Blog



Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Cover Reveal, Excerpt, and a Giveaway - Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War

Good afternoon everyone!!! I'm so excited to share this cover reveal and excerpt with you today for the upcoming historical short story collection, Fall of Poppies, by the following authors: Heather Webb, Hazel Gaynor, Beatriz Williams, Jennifer Robson, Jessica Brockmole, Kate Kerrigan, Evangeline Holland, Lauren Willig, and Marci Jefferson.  Wow! That is QUITE the collection of authors!! I have reads works by 4 of them and 3 on my TBR, and a couple who are relatively new to me and I need to go look up their works!!  I have loved seeing the couple of collections that have come out in the last couple years (I have read and enjoyed both Grand Central and A Day of Fire)

To drag out this cover reveal just a little bit more, I first want to share the blurb to whet your appetite!

Top voices in historical fiction deliver an intensely moving collection of short stories about loss, longing, and hope in the aftermath of World War I—featuring bestselling authors such as Hazel Gaynor, Jennifer Robson, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig and edited by Heather Webb.

A squadron commander searches for meaning in the tattered photo of a girl he’s never met…

A Belgian rebel hides from the world, only to find herself nursing the enemy…

A young airman marries a stranger to save her honor—and prays to survive long enough to love her…The peace treaty signed on November 11, 1918, may herald the end of the Great War but for its survivors, the smoke is only beginning to clear. Picking up the pieces of shattered lives will take courage, resilience, and trust.

Within crumbled city walls and scarred souls, war’s echoes linger. But when the fighting ceases, renewal begins…and hope takes root in a fall of poppies.

Ok, doesn't that sound awesome!!!?? But I know you are here for the cover reveal, so let's get on to it!!!


fall of poppies

AHHHH!!! GORGEOUS!!! Understated and beautiful!! I hate that it isn't coming out until March 2016!!! That is SOOOOO far away!!! To hold you over, I have an excerpt of this one of the short stories from this book titled, "Hour of the Bells".  Enjoy!

Excerpt from “Hour of the Bells”

A short story included in Fall of Poppies

Beatrix whisked around the showroom, feather duster in hand. Not a speck of dirt could remain or Joseph would be disappointed. The hour struck noon. A chorus of clocks whirred, their birds popping out from hiding to announce midday. Maidens twirled in their frocks with braids down their backs, woodcutters clacked their axes against pine, and the odd sawmill wheel spun in tune to the melody of a nursery rhyme. Two dozen cuckoos warbled and dinged, each crafted with loving detail by the same pair of hands—those with thick fingers and a steady grip.

Beatrix paused in her cleaning. One clock chimed to its own rhythm, apart from the others.

She could turn them off—the tinkling melodies, the incessant clatter of pendulums, wheels, and cogs, with the levers located near the weights—just as their creator had done before bed each evening, but she could not bring herself to do the same. To silence their music was to silence him, her husband, Joseph. The Great War had already done that; ravaged his gentle nature, stolen his final breath, and silenced him forever.

In a rush, Beatrix scurried from one clock to the next, assessing which needed oiling. With the final stroke of twelve, she found the offending clock. Its walnut face, less ornate than the others, had been her favorite, always. A winter scene displayed a cluster of snow-topped evergreens; rabbits and fawns danced in the drifts when the music began, and a scarlet cardinal dipped its head and opened its beak to the beauty of the music. The animals’ simplicity appealed to her now more than ever. With care, she removed the weights and pendulum, and unscrewed the back of the clock. She was grateful she had watched her husband tend to them so often. She could still see Joseph, blue eyes peering over his spectacles, focused on a figurine as he painted detailing on the linden wood. His patient hands had caressed the figures lovingly, as he had caressed her.

The memory of him sliced her open. She laid her head on the table as black pain stole over her body, pooling in every hidden pocket and filling her up until she could scarcely breathe.

“Give it time,” her friend Adelaide had said, as she set a basket of jam and dried sausages on the table; treasures in these times of rations, yet meager condolence for what Beatrix had lost.

“Time?” Beatrix had laughed, a hollow sound, and moved to the window overlooking the grassy patch of yard. The Vosges mountains rose in the distance, lording over the line between France and Germany along the battle front. Time’s passage never escaped her—not for a moment. The clocks made sure of it. There weren’t enough minutes, enough hours, to erase her loss.

As quickly as the grief came, it fled. Though always powerful, its timing perplexed her. Pain stole through the night, or erupted at unlikely moments, until she feared its onslaught the way others feared death. Death felt easier, somehow.

Beatrix raised her head and pushed herself up from the table to finish her task. Joseph would not want her to mourn, after two long years. He would want to see her strength, her resilience, especially for their son. She pretended Adrien was away at school, though he had enlisted, too. His enlistment had been her fault. A vision of her son cutting barbed wire, sleeping in trenches, and pointing a gun at another man reignited the pain and it began to pool again. She suppressed the horrid thoughts quickly, and locked them away in a corner of her mind.

With a light touch she cleaned the clock’s bellows and dials, and anointed its oil bath with a few glistening drops. Once satisfied with her work, she hung the clock in its rightful place above the phonograph, where a disk waited patiently on the spool. She spun the disk once and watched the printed words on its center blur. Adrien had played Quand Madelon over and over, belting out the patriotic lyrics in time with the music. To him, it was a show of his support for his country. To Beatrix it had been a siren, a warning her only son would soon join the fight. His father’s death was the final push he had needed. The lure of patrimoine, of country, throbbed inside of him as it did in other men. They talked of war as women spoke of tea sets and linens, yearned for it as women yearned for children. Now, the war had seduced her Adrien. She stopped the spinning disk and plucked it from its wheel, the urge to destroy it pulsing in her hands.

She must try to be more optimistic. Surely God would not take all she had left.

Reprinted Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers

Oooh, I'm intrigued now!  I can't wait to get my hands on this one! 


In the meantime, to hold us over until March, I have a special giveaway to offer you: print copies of After The War is Over by Jennifer Robson, A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor, and Land of Dreams by Kate Kerrigan.  This giveaway is being run by the publisher and all rules are theirs.  They will be selecting the winner as well.  Good luck!  Those books look wonderful!  I have After the War is Over to read soon myself.

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Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Giveaway Updates!



Hi everyone!!! I have a couple of giveaway updates for you all today - a couple winners and reminders.

First the winners, because I know you are all itching to know!


The winner of The Road Home by Kathleen Shoop is.... Anne F!!!



The winner of The Sisters of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle is...Lisa M!!!!




Congrats ladies!!! Emails have already been sent out for mailing info.  Thank you to everyone who entered!


Don't forget, there is still a giveaway going on here right now for a copy of Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig!  It is open until August 11th.  Click on the giveaway image below to check out an excerpt of the book and enter the giveaway.

lure of moonflower


* A redraw of the winner was required on August 24th based on the location of the winner being outside of the scope of where the publisher will mail the prize.


Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court