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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Cover Crush: The Carnelian Crow

cover crush

We can all say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but I guarantee that we all have done so at least once! Cover Crush is designed to feature some of those covers that have caught the eye as a standout on the bookshelf.

the carnealian crow

I will admit that this might not be a top 5 cover, but it certainly makes me stop and do a double take and spend time considering it.  I mean, how many covers really feature any bird, in such vivid detail, on its cover?  The woman really isn’t anything more than a vehicle to present the bird.  It definitely makes me think.

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week? Let’s check it out: (to be updated as they go live).

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Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Two Sides to Every Story: Port Royal, Jamaica

two sides

Today I have the opportunity to welcome Johanna Craven, author of The Devil in the Deep Blue Sea, to The Maiden's Court with the next contribution to the Two Sides to Every Story series.  I know it has been a long delay since we had an installment in this series (more ARE coming) and I hope you will enjoy this one.  Today we are treated to a piece about the life in Port Royal, Jamaica.

Port Royal, Jamaica – Wicked City or Island Paradise

In the seventeenth century, tiny Port Royal on the south coast of Jamaica was a flourishing trade centre and a notorious hang-out for pirates, privateers and prostitutes. The streets glittered with gold and the taverns numbered one for every ten men. In 1692, the town was destroyed by an enormous earthquake and tsunami that left a third of the city at the bottom of the Caribbean Sea. An act of divine retribution against 'the wickedest city on earth'? Or a tragic end to an island paradise?

Well, that depends on who you ask…

6th March, 1686

My dear sister Mary,

It has been three days since John and I arrived in Port Royal. This is a place of great beauty; clear blue seas and white sands, with a dramatic backdrop of the Blue Mountains. Flowers grow in every colour of the rainbow and fish leap from the sea like firecrackers. A paradise, some would say. But looks can be deceiving, Mary. This place is far from paradise.

Port Royal has a fine harbour and its position in the centre of the Caribbean makes it a perfect base for merchants and naval men. But with these honest seamen have come a despicable crowd of pirates, privateers, and smugglers, all eager to make their fortunes, with no regard for decency. The churches are near empty while the taverns overflow with scoundrels and fallen women. 'The Sodom of the New World', says John. I pity my dear husband for the impossible task he has been given; saving the souls of these wayward people. Indeed, this town is a veritable hell on Earth.

Keep us in your prayers. I shall write again soon.

Ever yours,


9th October 1688

Edward, my friend, I have found Heaven. A paradise where the liquor flows like water, the streets shine with gold and the women leave little to the imagination.

They welcome privateers here- the celebrations in the street when a ship returns full of French treasure is something to behold. Ah, but don't worry, I've no thought of turning to lawful privateering. Why should I give a share of my hard-fought riches to the Crown?

No, my friend, it is still a pirate's life for me- and men of our sort are welcomed in Port Royal. All right, perhaps it's a stretch to say the governor welcomes us, but he certainly turns a blind eye to our comings and goings. With the sheer numbers of our kind, the poor fool has little choice!

Needless to say, our crew is now using this fine town as a base- indeed several of the men have found wives here, although I fail to imagine what would possess them to give up the lavish life this place offers in exchange for a family!

The drink of choice here is a rum punch we like to call Kill-Devil. Our captain claims the secret ingredient to be gun-powder. Whether to believe him, I am unsure! Either way, the punch has fuelled many a memorable night. I only wish you could join us, my friend.

A man in search of a fine life could do no better than to come to this jewel of a town.

Your friend,


3rd November, 1691.


As you know, it has been four years since anti-piracy laws were passed in this Godforsaken town. Four years I've been hoping to see its inhabitants come to their senses; to awaken to the error of their ways.

And yet such wickedness persists. Have these men no fear of the gibbet? The bodies of captured pirates now dangle from Dead Man's Cay, and yet the pirates of Port Royal look to this as a challenge, rather than a deterrent.

Have they no fear of the Lord's wrath? These people will be punished, there is no doubt in my mind. It will be a happy day when Port Royal is destroyed. Mark my words, dear sister, this town cannot stand, but will sink and be destroyed by the judgement of God.

7th June, 1692

Are you a superstitious man, Edward? I confess that I am, though I'm sure this will not surprise you, me being a seafarer and all.

An uneasiness has fallen over the city. People fear an attack from our enemy is imminent- they see French spies around every corner. But it is more than just the war that has us unsettled. The town was visited recently by a man who claimed to read the stars. Yes, I can imagine what you're saying. A charlatan. Witchcraft. But in the stars, he claimed to see a terrible end for Port Royal. A 'cataclysmic earthquake', he said.

The weather is not helping things. It is steamy and windless, the sea like glass. We've experienced this before, you see. And each time, the eerie stillness brings a shake of the earth.

Thanks to this man's prediction, the streets are now full of self-made prophets: arm-waving madmen with ragged clothes and flashing eyes. Fools, yes, and yet something stops me from casting their words aside.

Something is not right. Out of my window, I see a golden glow in the sky. It is otherworldly and unnatural. I am afraid, Edward. There, I've said it. Against enemy fire, I feel nothing but excitement, but I know I cannot hope to battle the will of a God I've long ignored. Do you think it is truly possible this man saw Port Royal's demise in the stars? Could this be the end?


Johanna Craven was born in Australia in 1981 and grew up in Melbourne. As she was finishing school, she agonised over whether to pursue a career in music or creative writing, before finally coming to the (painfully obvious in hindsight) realisation that she could do both. She ended up studying composition at uni, interspersed with writing classes in which she began the story that would become her first novel, Music From Standing Waves.

After uni, she worked a ridiculous number of jobs in order to move to Los Angeles and study film scoring. She loved the energy of L.A. and the incredible experiences it provided: the chance to learn from some of the world's best teachers, a lecture by David Lynch, the chance to conduct an ensemble who had come straight from recording a John Williams score...

After returning to Australia in 2007, she worked steadily as a composer for several years, writing for film, theatre and television both in Melbourne and abroad. 

She moved to London in 2011 with her partner and immediately fell in love with the place. She continued work in film scoring, but also began to feel a strong desire to share her own stories with the world, as opposed to helping other people tell theirs. She pulled Music From Standing Waves out of my bottom drawer and self-published it in 2015, before signing with Endeavour Press for her second novel The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.

When not working, Johanna loves to travel, cook (and eat...) and is passionate about environmental issues, particularly the conservation of the Great Barrier Reef. She loves ghost hunting, dance meditation and is learning to play the fiddle!

Find Johanna Craven: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

devil in the deep blue sea

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Book Blurb:

1692. The Atlantis, captained by veteran seaman Benjamin Archer, flies the colours of an English merchantman on the high seas between the English Channel and the Caribbean.But she also runs up the ‘jolie rouge’ – the Jolly Roger – whenever the prospect of plundering a Spanish treasure ship presents itself.
Nipping at Spain’s empire is common practice for state-sponsored privateers like the Atlantis at a time when lesser European powers dare not directly make war on Spain.

But when those governments abandon the practice of issuing letters of marque to privateers against the Spanish galleons, many of the crews turn pirate.
Such is the fate of Archer’s men.

The crew is forced to sign the ship’s articles consenting to their new piratical ways, thereby placing their heads in a noose. Unless, that is, they can stage a mutiny and turn Archer over to the authorities in the Caribbean city of Port Royal, a popular homeport for privateers – and notorious for its gaudy displays of wealth and loose morals, the ‘wickedest city on earth’.

But superstition is rife among seamen and the presence on board the Atlantis of two women – one a high-born French stowaway Catherine and the other a Jamaican slave-born ‘cabin boy’ Serafine – will only be a bad omen if they are discovered.

Worse, the runaway is thought by her family to possess the powers of a witch while the ‘boy’ worships voodoo gods who rule life from beneath the waves.
Will the mutiny succeed? What is the secret bond between Archer and Serafine?

And can Catherine escape the captain’s determination to make her his after she has fallen for another young officer?

Is some unstoppable divine force slowly gathering to punish the profane?

Beyond the power and control of man lies what …?

Buy the Book: Amazon

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, September 18, 2017

Wish List 5: Denied by Netgalley


Once a month I am planning on sharing with you all 5 of my biggest wish list books broken up by theme.  I know that you all need more on your TBR!!!  This month’s theme is books that I have been denied review copies on Netgalley that I still want to read.  Honestly, in my 8 years of reviewing, Netgalley has only denied me a small handful of requests, which is amazing considering my completion percentage has been dismal!  The 5 below are the ones that bug me the most, especially when all my blogging friends are approved and I’m not!  Kidding! (only slightly!)

The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron

the last neanderthalFrom the author of The Bear, the enthralling story of two women separated by millennia, but linked by an epic journey that will transform them both.

40,000 years in the past, the last family of Neanderthals roams the earth. After a crushingly hard winter, their numbers are low, but Girl, the oldest daughter, is just coming of age and her family is determined to travel to the annual meeting place and find her a mate.

But the unforgiving landscape takes its toll, and Girl is left alone to care for Runt, a foundling of unknown origin. As Girl and Runt face the coming winter storms, Girl realizes she has one final chance to save her people, even if it means sacrificing part of herself.

In the modern day, archaeologist Rosamund Gale works well into her pregnancy, racing to excavate newly found Neanderthal artifacts before her baby comes. Linked across the ages by the shared experience of early motherhood, both stories examine the often taboo corners of women's lives.

Haunting, suspenseful, and profoundly moving, THE LAST NEANDERTHAL asks us to reconsider all we think we know about what it means to be human.

The Pharaoh’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews

the pharaoh's daughter“Fear is the most fertile ground for faith.”

“You will be called Anippe, daughter of the Nile. Do you like it?” Without waiting for a reply, she pulls me into her squishy, round tummy for a hug.

I’m trying not to cry. Pharaoh’s daughters don’t cry.

When we make our way down the tiled hall, I try to stop at ummi Kiya’s chamber. I know her spirit has flown yet I long for one more moment. Amenia pushes me past so I keep walking and don’t look back.

Like the waters of the Nile, I will flow.

Anippe has grown up in the shadows of Egypt’s good god Pharaoh, aware that Anubis, god of the afterlife, may take her or her siblings at any moment. She watched him snatch her mother and infant brother during childbirth, a moment which awakens in her a terrible dread of ever bearing a child. Now she is to be become the bride of Sebak, a kind but quick-tempered Captain of Pharaoh Tut’s army. In order to provide Sebak the heir he deserves and yet protect herself from the underworld gods, Anippe must launch a series of deceptions, even involving the Hebrew midwives—women ordered by Tut to drown the sons of their own people in the Nile.

When she finds a baby floating in a basket on the great river, Anippe believes Egypt’s gods have answered her pleas, entrenching her more deeply in deception and placing her and her son Mehy, whom handmaiden Miriam calls Moses, in mortal danger.

  As bloodshed and savage politics shift the balance of power in Egypt, the gods reveal their fickle natures and Anippe wonders if her son, a boy of Hebrew blood, could one day become king. Or does the god of her Hebrew servants, the one they call El Shaddai, have a different plan—for them all?

Garlic, An Edible Biography: The History, Politics, and Mythology Behind the World’s Most Pungent Food – With Over 100 Recipes by Robin Cherry

garlicGarlic is the Lord Byron of produce, a lusty rogue that charms and seduces you but runs off before dawn, leaving a bad taste in your mouth. Called everything from rustic cure-all to Russian penicillin, Bronx vanilla and Italian perfume, garlic has been loved, worshipped, and despised throughout history. No writer has quite captured the epic, roving story of garlic—until now.

While this book does not claim that garlic saved civilization (though it might cure whatever ails you), it does take us on a grand tour of its fascinating role in history, medicine, literature, and art; its controversial role in bigotry, mythology, and superstition; and its indispensable contribution to the great cuisines of the world. And just to make sure your appetite isn’t slighted, Garlic offers over 100 recipes featuring the beloved ingredient.

Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon

flight of dreamsOn the evening of May 3rd, 1937, ninety-seven people board the Hindenburg for its final, doomed flight to Lakehurst, New Jersey. Among them are a frightened stewardess who is not what she seems; the steadfast navigator determined to win her heart; a naive cabin boy eager to earn a permanent spot on the world’s largest airship; an impetuous journalist who has been blacklisted in her native Germany; and an enigmatic American businessman with a score to settle. Over the course of three hazy, champagne-soaked days their lies, fears, agendas, and hopes for the future are revealed.

Flight of Dreams is a fiercely intimate portrait of the real people on board the last flight of the Hindenburg. Behind them is the gathering storm in Europe and before them is looming disaster. But for the moment they float over the Atlantic, unaware of the inexorable, tragic fate that awaits them.

Brilliantly exploring one of the most enduring mysteries of the twentieth century, Flight of Dreams is that rare novel with spellbinding plotting that keeps you guessing till the last page and breathtaking emotional intensity that stays with you long after.

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon

i was anastasiaAriel Lawhon, a rising star in historical suspense, has set her sights on one of history's most beguiling mysteries: Did Anastasia Romanov survive the Russian Revolution, or was Anna Anderson, the woman who notoriously claimed her identity, an impostor?

Russia, July 17, 1918 Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia where they face a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed.

Germany, February 17, 1920 A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water or even acknowledge her rescuers, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless, horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious young woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess.

As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre at Ekaterinburg, old enemies and new threats are awakened. The question of who this woman is and what actually happened to Anastasia creates a saga that spans fifty years and three continents. This thrilling page-turner is every bit as moving and momentous as it is harrowing and twisted.

If you are looking to add more books to your list, here are some of the wishlists from a few of my friends this month: (to be updated as they go live)

  • Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede –
  • Colleen @ A Literary Vacation –
  • Erin @ Flashlight Commentary –
  • Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books –
  • Stephanie @ Layered Pages –

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Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, September 15, 2017

New Book Alert: Last Gentleman Standing by Jane Ashford

Last Gentleman Standing cover

Last Gentleman Standing by Jane Ashford
e-Book & Mass Market Paperback; 354 pages
Sourcebooks Casablanca
September 5, 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction
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Book Blurb:

A fortune hunter's dream...

Miss Elisabeth Elham is an unlikely heiress. She never knew the curmudgeonly uncle who died suddenly and left her a fortune. She's proud, outspoken and independent―a definite challenge for London's fortune hunting suitors.

As various determined gentlemen vie for her attention at balls, routs, picnics and parties, Elisabeth finds herself embroiled with a charming rake, a mysterious nabob, and an elegant neighbor. This would all be great fun, if only she wasn't so fascinated by the one man in London who's not trying to woo her...

Originally titled Bluestocking, this story has been unavailable for over 25 years.

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | IndieBound

Last Gentleman Standing spotlight graphic

I have an awesome excerpt of Last Gentleman Standing for you today!

Elisabeth had recrossed a stile and was traversing an open field when she heard hoofbeats behind her. Turning, she was just in time to see the rider urge his magnificent chestnut up and over the fence she had just climbed. The form of both was flawless, and she forgot herself in her admiration of the jump, watching unself-consciously, as the horseman approached her.

The chestnut had white feet and was one of the most beautiful and spirited animals she’d ever seen. He moved with the ease and power of a true thoroughbred and might have made almost any rider appear insignificant, but the man on his back matched his quality. He looked to be tall, and his figure was well-molded and athletic. His buckskin breeches fitted him to perfection, and his coat fairly cried out its fashionable origin in the workrooms of a Weston or a Stultz. Elisabeth had seen a few gentlemen of the haut ton in Bath, and she knew enough to recognize that the deceptive simplicity of the folds of his cravat and the carefully casual arrangement of his hair were the signs of a veritable tulip, a top-of-the-trees corinthian. At that moment, she met his slightly mocking gaze and looked down in confusion, recalling herself with annoyance. She had been gaping like a schoolgirl, she thought.

The rider pulled up before her. “I almost feel I’ve been in a competition,” he said. His voice was deep and resonant. “I hope you gave me full points for that jump.”

Elisabeth looked up. His eyes were pale blue, she noted, in spite of his black hair and rather dark complexion. “I was staring quite rudely, I know,” she replied. “I beg your pardon. But I was transfixed by the way your horse took that fence.”

The man patted the chestnut’s neck, “He’s wonderful, is Tristram.”

“Tristram?” repeated Elisabeth, smiling. “That’s an uncommon name for a horse. Do you take it from Tristram Shandy?”

The rider looked at her with much more interest than he’d first shown. “Yes, I’m fond of Sterne.”

“Oh, it is my favorite of all books. I thought hardly anyone read it now.”

He smiled back at her somewhat quizzically. “And I should hardly have thought it fit reading for young ladies.” He surveyed her. He was the despair of his mother and several aunts, who had all at one time or another introduced to him dazzling debutantes calculated to urge him into marriage. But though he’d treated them politely, he’d been extremely bored in their company and really had very little notion of what to say to conventional young women. Seeing that Elisabeth was a bit uncomfortable under his gaze, he continued, “But then I rarely find young ladies wandering about my land unattended. So I can’t quite make you out. Are you someone’s governess, perhaps? Do you teach your pupils from Sterne?” His amused smile faded as he went on before she could answer. “No, that doesn’t seem right.”

Looking down at her drab garments, Elisabeth laughed. “I’m sure I don’t know why you say so. I do look very like a governess. In fact, until a few weeks ago, I was a teacher at a seminary for young ladies. Now that my uncle has obligingly left me his fortune, I shall have to change my style of dress.”

“Uncle?” he asked. His eyes narrowed. “You can’t mean old Anthony Elham? I heard of his death.”

“Yes. I am Elisabeth Elham. Though it is not at all the thing to go about introducing oneself to strange men,” she told herself reflectively.

The rider laughed. “I hope I’m not strange. But I beg pardon. I should have made myself known to you immediately. I am your neighbor, Derek Wincannon. Do you mean to say that old Elham has left you Willowmere?”

Elisabeth shrugged. “It is part of the estate. And a very ramshackle part, I must say. I have never seen so neglected a house.”

“It’s the scandal of the neighborhood,” said Mr. Wincannon. “Your uncle was a shocking landlord and a worse neighbor.”

“From what I heard of him,” answered Elisabeth, “he was uniformly shocking. I’m rather sorry I never met him.” The man laughed again. “But in any case, you may inform the neighborhood that I shall be putting the place to rights as soon as I may.”

“That’s good news. Will you be settling there?”

“No. At least, not immediately. I shall live in London for a time, at Elham House.”

“For the season, I assume.”

“Yes, I’ll be bringing out my cousin.”

“You are bringing out someone? I’d have thought it would be the other way about.”

“Oh, no,” Elisabeth smiled. “I’m beyond that sort of thing. Quite on the shelf, in fact,” she added lightly.

“I see it now,” he responded dryly, “a veritable antique. How can I have mistaken you for girl in her twenties?”

She laughed. “Well, I daresay I shall attend a few parties also, if I’m asked.”

He smiled. “There can be little doubt of that, I should think. You’ll wish to sample the gaities of the season and attend the assemblies at Almack’s.”

“Almack’s? Oh, no, I shouldn’t think so.”

He raised his eyebrows.

“My father used to tell me stories about London, and he was most severe on Almack’s. He called it the Marriage Mart and painted such a vivid picture of the trials young girls undergo as they are catalogued and labeled according to their faces and fortunes that he gave me quite a horror of the place. I don’t at all wish to go there now.”

Mr. Wincannon’s interest was definitely caught. “Now?”

“Well, of course I might have done so some years ago had I been offered the opportunity,” Elisabeth explained obligingly. “When one is thrown penniless upon the world at the age of nineteen, one is willing to try any shift to come about again. I was very willing then to marry to make my fortune. But I wasn’t given the chance, and how fortunate that was, really. For now, you see, there is no need.”

Derek Wincannon laughed. “You are a most unusual girl,” he said.

“Because I prefer to order my own life now that I have the means to do so?” asked Elisabeth. “I’m persuaded you can’t really think so. Would you give up your independence without need? No indeed. When I was desperate and might have married, no one dared offer for me. I certainly won’t encourage anyone to do so now that I have an income.”

“Much good that will do you, I should say.”

jane ashford

Jane Ashford discovered Georgette Heyer in junior high school and was captivated by the glittering world and witty language of Regency England. That delight led her to study English literature and travel widely in Britain and Europe. Her historical and contemporary romances have been published in Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, Slovenia, and Spain, as well as the US. Jane has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. She lives in Beverly Hills, CA.

Find Jane Ashford: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Tour-Wide Giveaway

After enjoying this classic romance, dive into Jane Ashford’s current series, The Dukes Sons! Enter to win a copy of Heir to the Duke by Jane Ashford.  You can enter the giveaway through the Rafflecopter below or on any of the host blogs in this tour.  If you have any questions please contact the publisher who is hosting this review.

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Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Cover Crush: Lies & Letters

cover crush

We can all say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but I guarantee that we all have done so at least once! Cover Crush is designed to feature some of those covers that have caught the eye as a standout on the bookshelf.

lies and letters

This has an ethereal cover for sure.  At first all I saw was the woman and how she fades into the background.  As I look at it more, it looks like there is handwriting of a letter in the background.  Then with the title, loved that the ampersand is more faded while the words are clear and crisp.  Love!

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week? Let’s check it out: A Literary Vacation; A Bookaholic Swede; Of Quills and Vellum; Flashlight Commentary; Layered Pages; 2 Kids and Tired.   

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Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

New Book Alert: A Scarlet Woman by Lorna Peel

a scarlet woman

A Scarlet Woman by Lorna Peel
Book 1 in The Fitzgeralds of Dublin series
e-Book & Paperback; 400 pages
Create Space Independent Publishing
July 8, 2017
Genre: Historical Romance
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Book Blurb:

Can Isobel escape her past? Or will she always be seen as a scarlet woman?

Dublin, Ireland, 1880. Tired of treating rich hypochondriacs, Dr Will Fitzgerald left his father’s medical practice and his home on Merrion Square to live and practice medicine in the Liberties. His parents were appalled and his fiancée broke off their engagement. But when Will spends a night in a brothel on the eve of his best friend’s wedding, little does he know that the scarred and disgraced young woman he meets there will alter the course of his life.

Isobel Stevens was schooled to be a lady, but a seduction put an end to all her father’s hopes for her. Disowned, she left Co Galway for Dublin and fell into prostitution. On the advice of a handsome young doctor, she leaves the brothel and enters domestic service. But can Isobel escape her past and adapt to life and the chance of love on Merrion Square? Or will she always be seen as a scarlet woman?

You can check out an excerpt from Chapter 1 of A Scarlet Women here!

Buy the Book: Amazon

lorna peel

About Lorna Peel:

Lorna Peel is an author of historical romance and romantic suspense novels set in the UK and Ireland. She has had work published in three Irish magazines – historical articles on The Stone of Scone in Ireland’s Own, on The Irish Potato Famine in the Leitrim Guardian, and Lucy’s Lesson, a contemporary short story in Woman’s Way.
Her debut novel, ONLY YOU, a romance set in London, England, was published in 2014. INTO THE UNKNOWN, a World War Two romance set in London, the south east of England, and Ireland, was published in 2015 and reached Amazon’s top 20 best sellers in 20th Century Historical Romance. THE IMAGE OF HER, a romantic suspense set in rural England about a woman’s search for her birth mother, was published in May 2016. NEW BLOOD, a romantic suspense set in a stately home in Yorkshire, England, was published in ebook and paperback in November 2016. BROTHERLY LOVE, an historical romance set in 1830s Ireland, is available now in ebook, paperback, and on Kindle Unlimited. A SCARLET WOMAN: THE FITZGERALDS OF DUBLIN BOOK ONE, an historical romance set in 1880s Dublin, Ireland, is available now in ebook, paperback and on Kindle Unlimited.
Lorna was born in England and lived in North Wales until her family moved to Ireland to become farmers, which is a book in itself! She lives in rural Ireland, where she writes, researches her family history, and grows fruit and vegetables. She also keeps chickens (and a Guinea Hen who now thinks she’s a chicken!).

Find Lorna Peel: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Perpetually on My Nightstand: Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

the art of power

I’ve mentioned before that I have a history of holding on to books in progress for quite a long time.  With my last installment featuring The Summer Garden by Paullina Simons I have ultimately given up on it (at least for now, maybe the audiobook will be in my future).  This time I want to feature a book I have not given up on, it just has fallen out of my priorities.


Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham I started reading in 2012!  I only barely cracked the surface of this before I had to switch priorities and it fell by the wayside.  I have continually shuffled it around my nightstand and every time I look at it I think, “I have to get back to this one”.  Unlike other titles that have sat there awhile, I do actually WANT to finish this one.  It’s a long book and more on the dense side as it focuses on politics and such, so it doesn’t read quickly like a novel, which is why when I was reading it, it was just small amounts at a time.  I have heard very good things about this book and I do want to finish it – I just might have to grab up an audiobook version if it ever comes up on sale. 

Have you read or listened to this book?  What have you thought?

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, September 11, 2017

Interview with Mercedes Rochelle

Good morning everyone!  I have the pleasure of welcoming BRAG Medallion recipient, author Mercedes Rochelle, to the blog today.  Her book, The Sons of Godwine, is a novel set in the years of Saxon England leading up to the Norman Conquest.  I can’t wait to share about this book with you.


Heather: Hi Mercedes! Welcome to The Maiden’s Court.  Can we get started today by first telling me how you discovered indieBRAG?

Mercedes Rochelle: Hi Heather. Thanks so much for having me! I kept seeing the IndieBRAG medallion gracing the cover of my favorite books on social media. Once I investigated further, I saw how invaluable the service was to indie authors like myself.

H: Could you give our readers an idea of what your book is about?

MR: Although most history buffs know who Harold the last Anglo-Saxon king was (the good guy versus the bad guy William the Bastard), little is known about the rest of his family. The sons of Godwine don't understand their father all that well, and at times they don't really understand each other. The younger sons are mostly in awe of their big brother, but not Tostig. Harold would have been surprised by Tostig's resentment, if he had ever given his brother a second thought. And that was the problem. I'm telling their stories in first person, for I think an insider's perspective is the best way to understand just why things started to go so wrong.

H: Ah, an insider’s view! That can be an enjoyable change of pace in a story oftentimes.

The Sons of Godwine is book 2 in a series about the Godwine family, The Last Great Saxon Earls. What can you tell us about this series?

MR: Godwine Kingmaker, the first book in my trilogy (The Last Great Saxon Earls) is about the rise and fall of Earl Godwine, without whom there would be no King Harold II. But for books two and three, I had another purpose: historically, Queen Editha originally commissioned a work to memorialize the deeds of her family. But historians tell us that after the Conquest she abandoned this project and changed it to a life of Edward the Confessor. In The Sons of Godwine and Fatal Rivalry, I am telling the chronicle as it might have survived had she collected and passed on the memoirs of her tragic brothers. Book two takes us up to 1064, and we watch Godwine's sons come of age. We see the emergence of Tostig's love/hate relationship with his brother that would eventuallly destroy everything they worked for, leaving the country open to foreign conquest. Book three covers the last two disastrous years before 1066; but that's not all. There's one son left: Wulfnoth, hostage in Normandy, who finishes the compilation and tells us what happened—with his limited knowledge—after William invaded England. After all, Wulfnoth lived until 1094. Their story didn't end at the Battle of Hastings!

H: Your last statement is so true! Many tend to end their stories at the start of or just after the invasion and don’t tell what happened next, although that is quite fascinating too.

The part of English history focusing on the Saxons and the subsequent Norman invasion is one of my FAVORITE time periods to read about and in my opinion it is a period underserved by novels! What is it that drew you to this period to write about?

MR: Ironically, it was Shakespeare's Macbeth that sparked my interest. I called my first novel, Heir to a Prophecy, a sequel to Macbeth; for Banquo's grandson Walter participated in all the major events surrounding the Norman invasion before fulfilling his destiny at the court of Malcolm III. Once I unlocked that door, I had to know more!

H: Macbeth is my favorite of Shakespeare’s plays so I love that it started out your inspiration for your series.

Did you do a lot of research before writing your Godwine series?  What type of research?

MR: I took a 20-year hiatus between my research and publication of my first novel—mostly because I was too thin-skinned to deal with a bad experience I had with an agent. So my most intense research took place before the internet, when I could only use the books I could find in my local library. What a huge difference between those days and now! It's one of the reasons I moved from St. Louis to New York: access to the New York Public Library (and the most fun I ever had). Once I stumbled across Edward A. Freeman and his exhaustive "History of the Norman Conquest of England" I knew I had found what I needed (I purchased a set in England). Fast forward to today, and even the internet can't supplant his incredible research, although newer sources certainly call some of his assumptions into question.

H: I think I actually read a portion of Freeman’s work for a research project while working on my Masters degree. It is quite extensive!

There is always something fun that you spend time researching, but for whatever reason doesn’t make the cut into the book. Do you have such an example you would like to share with us?

MR: In The Sons of Godwine I found it interesting to cast Edith Swanneck as a rich widow (rather than a rich daughter), but she had to wait for one year after her husband's death before she could marry. This came from the most amazing set of laws written by Canute. The ordinance in question referred to Heriot (kind of a death tax): "And let every widow continue husbandless a twelvementh...and if she, within the space of a year, choose a husband, then let her forfeit her 'morgengyfu (morning-gift) and all the possessions which she had through the first husband." This is just one intriguing law in this famous code, but I just couldn't work it into the novels.

H: I can see why it certainly would have been beneficial to someone wealthy to wait out that 12 months!

You mentioned in our discussion before this interview, that the first book in the series, Godwine Kingmaker, was traditionally published in the UK and then you chose independent publishing from that point. Can you tell us what led to that choice? Have you found anything more easy or difficult in terms of independent publishing?

MR: My UK publisher is one of those new breeds known as a hybrid publisher, kind of a cross between traditional and cooperative publishing. The more lucrative an author, the more they are willing to take on the whole expense. I fell somewhere in the middle, but I felt like I was doing the lion's share of the marketing anyway, and I had absolutely no control of pricing, discounts, or promotions (forget about giveaways). My publisher tells me they have no control over Amazon's pricing structure, and I believe their higher prices have hindered sales in this competitive market. So I decided to go indie. I have good computer skills (a must for indies, I think) so I'm very hands-on with my own book production. Create Space has been easy to work with and they put out a good product. What I love is the ability to manage my own promotions. I'm not sitting back hopelessly and waiting for something to happen.

H: I can imagine that the ability to have more control over your work is something I would find beneficial too.

Let’s get to know you a little bit here with these next questions. When you are not reading for research, what type of books or what authors do you enjoy reading?

MR: I hate to admit it, but I rarely venture out of the historical fiction field. I attempt to review every book I can finish, and these seem to be the only books I find interesting all the way to the end. I like to read for information, so romances and fantasies all start to look the same to me.

H: Your answer almost sounds like it could have come out of my mouth!

What type of things do you like to do for leisure?

MR: I love gardening. Between that, my writing and my day work, I don't have much time for anything else!


Born and raised in St. Louis MO, Mercedes Rochelle graduated with a BA in Literature from University of Missouri. She learned about living history as a re-enactor and has been enamored with historical fiction ever since. A move to New York to do research and two careers ensued, but writing fiction remains her primary vocation.  She lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.

Find Mercedes Rochelle: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog

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Book Blurb:

Emerging from the long shadow cast by his formidable father, Harold Godwineson showed himself to be a worthy successor to the Earldom of Wessex. In the following twelve years, he became the King's most trusted advisor, practically taking the reins of government into his own hands. And on Edward the Confessor's death, Harold Godwineson mounted the throne—the first king of England not of royal blood. Yet Harold was only a man, and his rise in fortune was not blameless. Like any person aspiring to power, he made choices he wasn't particularly proud of. Unfortunately, those closest to him sometimes paid the price of his fame.

This is a story of Godwine's family as told from the viewpoint of Harold and his younger brothers. Queen Editha, known for her Vita Ædwardi Regis, originally commissioned a work to memorialize the deeds of her family, but after the Conquest historians tell us she abandoned this project and concentrated on her husband, the less dangerous subject. In THE SONS OF GODWINE and FATAL RIVALRY, I am telling the story as it might have survived had she collected and passed on the memoirs of her tragic brothers.

This book is part two of The Last Great Saxon Earls series. Book one, GODWINE KINGMAKER, depicted the rise and fall of the first Earl of Wessex who came to power under Canute and rose to preeminence at the beginning of Edward the Confessor's reign. Unfortunately, Godwine's misguided efforts to champion his eldest son Swegn recoiled on the whole family, contributing to their outlawry and Queen Editha's disgrace. Their exile only lasted one year and they returned victorious to London, though it was obvious that Harold's career was just beginning as his father's journey was coming to an end.

Harold's siblings were all overshadowed by their famous brother; in their memoirs we see remarks tinged sometimes with admiration, sometimes with skepticism, and in Tostig's case, with jealousy. We see a Harold who is ambitious, self-assured, sometimes egocentric, imperfect, yet heroic. His own story is all about Harold, but his brothers see things a little differently. Throughout, their observations are purely subjective, and witnessing events through their eyes gives us an insider’s perspective.

Harold was his mother's favorite, confident enough to rise above petty sibling rivalry but Tostig, next in line, was not so lucky. Harold would have been surprised by Tostig's vindictiveness, if he had ever given his brother a second thought. And that was the problem. Tostig's love/hate relationship with Harold would eventually destroy everything they worked for, leaving the country open to foreign conquest. This subplot comes to a crisis in book three of the series, FATAL RIVALRY.

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

A Message from IndieBRAG:

brag interview team

We are delighted that Heather has chosen to interview Mercedes Rochelle. who is the author of, The Sons of Godwine, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, The Sons of Godwine, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, September 7, 2017

New Book Alert: The Soldier’s Return by Laura Libricz

02_The Soldier%27s Return

The Soldier’s Return by Laura Libricz
Book 2 in the Heaven’s Pond trilogy
e-Book & Paperback; 331 pages
Blue Heron Book Works, LLC
September 15, 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction
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Book Blurb:

The year is 1626. A senseless war rips through parts of Germany. Ongoing animosity between the Catholics and the Protestants has turned into an excuse to destroy much of the landscape situated between France, Italy and Denmark. But religion only plays a minor role in this lucrative business of war.

The young dutchman, Pieter van Diemen, returns to Amsterdam in chains after a period of imprisonment in the Spice Islands. He manages to escape but must leave Amsterdam in a hurry. Soldiers are in demand in Germany and he decides to travel with a regiment until he can desert. His hope of survival is to reach Sichardtshof, the farm in Franconia, Germany; the farm he left ten years ago. His desire to seek refuge with them lies in his fond memories of the maid Katarina and her master, the humanist patrician Herr Tucher. But ten years is a long time and the farm has changed. Franconia is not only torn by war but falling victim to a church-driven witch hunt. The Jesuit priest, Ralf, has his sights set on Sichardtshof as well. Ralf believes that ridding the area of evil will be his saving grace. Can Pieter, Katarina and Herr Tucher unite to fight against a senseless war out of control?

The Soldier’s Return is the second book in the Heaven’s Pond Trilogy and will be released on September 15, 2017.

Buy the Book: Amazon

03_Laura Libricz

About Laura Libricz:

Laura Libricz was born and raised in Bethlehem PA and moved to Upstate New York when she was 22. After working a few years building Steinberger guitars, she received a scholarship to go to college. She tried to ‘do the right thing’ and study something useful, but spent all her time reading German literature.

She earned a BA in German at The College of New Paltz, NY in 1991 and moved to Germany, where she resides today. When she isn’t writing she can be found sifting through city archives, picking through castle ruins or aiding the steady flood of musical instruments into the world market.

Her first novel, The Master and the Maid, is the first book of the Heaven’s Pond Trilogy. The Soldier’s Return and Ash and Rubble are the second and third books in the series.

Find Laura Libricz: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Follow the Tour!

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HFVBT Website
On Twitter: #TheSoldiersReturnBookBlast   #LauraLibricz   #HeavensPondTrilogy

**There is a giveaway of the 2 books in this series, The Master and the Maid and The Soldier’s Return over at the HFVBT Facebook page.**

Monday, September 4
A Book Geek
Mello & June, It’s a Book Thang!

Tuesday, September 5
100 Pages a Day
The Reading Queen

Wednesday, September 6
Must Read Faster
Just One More Chapter

Thursday, September 7
The Writing Desk
The Maiden’s Court
To Read, Or Not to Read

Friday, September 8
Book Nerd
CelticLady’s Reviews

Saturday, September 9
Passages to the Past
Books, Dreams, Life

Sunday, September 10
I Heart Reading

Monday, September 11
A Literary Vacation
Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Tuesday, September 12
Jo’s Book Blog
WS Momma Readers Nook

Wednesday, September 13
Laura’s Interests
Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Thursday, September 14
A Holland Reads
Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, September 15
T’s Stuff
Pursuing Stacie

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Cover Crush: A Name Unknown

cover crush

We can all say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but I guarantee that we all have done so at least once! Cover Crush is designed to feature some of those covers that have caught the eye as a standout on the bookshelf.

a name unknown

Well doesn’t that look in her eye make her seem sneaky or that she is up to something?  And that title contributes to that fact in that maybe she is an unknown entity.  I need to know more!

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week? Let’s check it out: A Literary Vacation; Flashlight Commentary; 2 Kids and Tired; A Bookaholic Swede; Of Quills and Vellum; Layered Pages.    

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Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

New Book Alert: Highland Flame by Mary Wine-Excerpt & Giveaway


Highland Flame by Mary Wine
Book 4 of Highland Weddings series
e-Book & Paperback; 322 pages
Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN: 1492602531
September 5, 2017
Genre: Historical Romance
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Book Blurb:


Laird Diocail Gordon has just inherited his uncle’s run down castle and rag-tag clan. He knows the sorry sight of the castle would send any woman running, but is determined to find a wife to help return his home to its former glory.

Widowed lady Jane Stanley is determined to return to England, even if she has to tromp through the Scottish Highlands on foot to get there. Her travels lead her straight into the midst of a troop of dangerous Highland warriors. The mysterious, brawny laird forbids his men to harm her, and the spark between them is immediate. The only way Diocail can keep her safe is to take her home with him, but will the miserable state of his clan douse her newly ignited Highland flame?

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

Highland Flame

Check out this awesome excerpt from Highland Flame!


Jane’s belly rumbled.

She’d ignored it for a day, but by the next morning, she simply could not any longer.

Not that it changed her mind. She wasn’t returning to Gillanders and his offer to be his harlot in exchange for her keep.

Curse Henry for his gambling.

Jane regretted the thought. She knew it was unkind to think ill of the dead. Her body might ache, but she wasn’t yet ready to regret the fact that she was still drawing breath. Life might be difficult, but it was still to be treasured. She stepped on a rock and winced as she moved toward the sound of water. It was only a temporary solution, but she cupped her hand and drank until she felt some measure of relief.

She straightened, looking at the water and seeking any sign of fish. Desperation was beginning to claw at her. The chill from the night lingered in her joints, and the water wasn’t very satisfying.

No, I am not going back to the boardinghouse…

However, that meant she very well might die in the wilds of Scotland.

At least her situation made for a good tale. A hint of adventure—wasn’t that what her stepmother had gleefully informed her would be her lot when she’d decreed that Jane would wed Henry with his determination to travel into Scotland when it was so very risky?

Oh yes. How grand Jane’s life had been with Alicia. Her stepmother had taken her husband’s house in hand and made it plain that Jane and her sisters would obey her. Not that such an attitude was uncommon. Still, the happy home she’d enjoyed with her mother had vanished within months of her father taking a second wife. Of course, her father had never noticed because Alicia made certain her husband was very comfortable indeed. Complaints to her father had met with his confidence in his new wife’s ability to raise his daughters into women who could run their own households.

Jane was bitter and not one bit interested in being repentant about it. What had all of her obedience to Christian values and duties gotten her? A husband who raised his hand to her, gambling away every coin and then going so far as to promise her favors to settle his unpaid debts.

Turned out in her shift.

Indeed I was.

And still, she preferred it.

Her belly rumbled again. It hurt now, the hunger.

Well, life had not been comfortable for her for many years, so there was no reason to think today would be different. There was, however, a very real satisfaction in rising to meet the challenges as they came her way. If that was pride, so be it.

She looked back at the water and moved a bit farther upstream as she watched for signs of life. The water was tumbling out of a pool, and a fish slithered down the fall.

She blinked, thinking she’d imagined it. No, there was a plop as another fish swam too close to where the rocks gave way, and she realized someone had piled up rocks to make a dam of sorts.

Of course!

It made sense. She looked around, making sure no one was about before she pulled her smock over her head. Without a net or basket at hand, the cloth was all she had. Once wet, it would bring her even more suffering, but if sacrificing her comfort helped her fill her belly, she would take the shivers. She moved into the stream and held the ends of her garment under the water. Her belly twisted with hunger, her mouth beginning to water while she waited. Time seemed to slow down, tormenting her as she tried to maintain her confidence while ignoring how cold the water was around her bare feet.

At last there was another plop, and suddenly there was a fish flopping on the surface of her wet smock. She jumped with surprise, and the fish went sailing right out of her grasp. She whirled around, desperate to catch it. The sun shone off its body as it flailed and fought to buck itself back into the deeper part of the stream. Jane fought just as hard to reach the fish, skinning her knee as she landed next to it and clamped her hands around it.

Victory surged through her when she held it high. She carried it up farther onto the bank and then struggled back into her wet smock. The fabric stuck to her body, but she smiled as she retreated into the forest in search of a way to cook her catch.

“Ye do nae have a knife.”

Jane froze, looking up from her fish to see who her company was. She let out a sigh of relief when she realized it was a boy, a rather small one who looked up at her from where he was crouched next to a rabbit snare. His face reflected his disappointment over finding the snare empty. He looked at her fish, longing in his young eyes.

“The fish are too big for me to catch,” he muttered. “Give me that one, and I’ll let ye use me knife when ye get another for yerself.”

He couldn’t have been more than six or seven winters, but it was clear his life was as challenging as hers. He was thin, his face drawn with hunger. He held out his hands for the fish, aiming a smile at her as he tried to bargain.

“I know how to gut it and put it over a fire,” he tempted her.


“Can you start a fire?” she asked.

He was wearing only a shirt and a belt that held his knife. His feet were blackened from

having no shoes.

“I can get a coal from the house,” he assured her quickly. “But I can nae go home to me ma without something to eat. I am the man of the house now.”

His eyes returned to the fish in her hands. “That’s a fine, big fish, and there are plenty more.”

Trusting him was a risk, but one she had to take unless she planned to eat her fish raw with her teeth. And a fire would warm her and help dry her shift. She hated that she was desperate enough to resort to such behavior. At least Fate was offering her another solution. Yet it would not come without a price. Handing over the fish took a great deal of effort. She watched the way his face lit up.

“I’ll be back,” he promised. “I’m going to give this to me mother and bring back a coal from the hearth like I promised.”

God, she hoped so.

He ran away from her, the fish in his hands, as she fought off tears to see it leaving.

Nonsense, she chided herself.

It will be a good bargain.

mary wine

 About Mary Wine

Acclaimed author Mary Wine has written over 30 works of Scottish Highland romance, romantic suspense and erotic romance. An avid history-buff and historical costumer, she and her family enjoy participating in historical reenactments. Mary lives in Yorba Linda, California with her husband and two sons.

Find Mary Wine: Website | Goodreads | Facebook

Tour Wide Giveaway!

There is a tour wide giveaway for 2 bundles of Mary Wine’s Highland Weddings series.  Entries can be made through the Rafflecopter widget below or on any participating blog page.  Please note that this tour is being coordinated by the publisher and any questions should be directed to them.  Good luck!

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Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court