Join us as we chat about C.J.’s fascinating historical fiction saga set in Viking times. We are talking about naming characters, relying on beta readers, and why the thoughts of moving to a small island in Northern France is so tempting! Author Chat
I am so delighted to spotlight my good friend and fellow seventeenth-century author Cryssa Bazos today and feature her award-winning novel, Traitor’s Knot. This still has to be one of my favourite Stuart-era novels (along with her second in the collection, Severed Knot, and the soon-to-be-released Rebel’s Knot)! Enjoy this brilliant book and excerpt:
Quest for Three Kingdoms
By Cryssa Bazos
England 1650: Civil War has given way to an uneasy peace . . .
Royalist officer James Hart refuses to accept the tyranny of the new government after the execution of King Charles I, and to raise funds for the restoration of the king’s son, he takes to the road as a highwayman.
Elizabeth Seton has long been shunned for being a traitor’s daughter. In the midst of the new order, she risks her life by sheltering fugitives from in a garrison town. But her attempts to rebuild her life are threatened, first by her own sense of injustice, then by falling in love with an outlaw.
The lovers’ loyalty is tested through war, defeat and separation. James must fight his way back to the woman he loves, while Elizabeth will do anything to save him, even if it means sacrificing herself.
Violence, animal injury/death.
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From nowhere, a racing black horse flashed past her window, the rider passing close to the carriage. Startled, Elizabeth craned her head, wondering at his reckless pace. Without warning, the coach veered off the road and pulled up, throwing her onto the floor. The others shrieked and braced themselves. They heard panicked shouts from the driver and the deep, jarring voice from another.
“Stand and deliver!”
Elizabeth heard the measured clopping of a single horse drawing close and the nervous shifting of their team. She crept to regain her seat. Mistress Pritchett shook with terror, and Elizabeth reached out her hand to reassure her.
“One inch more and your brains will lie in a pool at your feet.” They heard the click of a cocked pistol.
Elizabeth froze, fearful that he spoke to her. But with his next words, she knew that he still dealt with their driver.
“Toss your musket over the side.”
“You’ll have no trouble.” The driver’s voice cracked, and the carriage swayed and creaked as he scrambled down from the top seat.
Elizabeth followed the Pritchetts, nearly stumbling on her skirts. Her foot found the first step and froze. A pair of pistols trained upon her, unwavering and baleful. Slate-grey eyes burned with equal intensity above a black scarf. Although every instinct screamed retreat, Elizabeth descended the coach.
The highwayman rode a large black horse with a white blaze on its forehead. He commanded the powerful animal by his slightest touch, moving like one, rider and horse, fluid and instinctive. The highwayman wore all black from his heavy cloak to his mud-splattered boots.
“Richard Crawford-Bowes.” The highwayman’s voice cut through the stunned silence. “Step forward. I would fain make your acquaintance.”
Sir Richard did not twitch.
Provoked by the absence of a response, he pointed his pistol at Sir Richard’s stubborn head. “Mark this well—I never repeat myself.”
“I am he,” he said and stepped forward.
The highwayman circled Sir Richard with the imposing horse. “This is a unique pleasure, my lord. Are you beating the countryside looking for desperate souls to fill your court, or have you reached your quota?”
“Now listen here,” Sir Richard sputtered. “If you persist in this venture, I vow to bring you before the assizes and see you hang!”
The highwayman shrugged. “You deserve nothing more than to share the same fate as the honest men you rob in the name of your Commonwealth. Strange idea that—common wealth. As though the wealth stolen from the King would ever be given to the common man. Deliver your coin or die.”
Sir Richard’s brow darkened. From his pocket, he withdrew a handful of shillings.
A shot fired. Elizabeth jumped and smothered a scream, pressing her hand to her mouth. Shouts and shrieks erupted from the people around her. The highwayman lowered his smoking pistol. Sir Richard remained standing, a foot back from where he had been and pale as chalk.
“My patience is nearing an end,” the brigand said levelling his other pistol. He tucked the spent one in his belt and replaced it with a primed carbine. “A few pieces of silver. I’m sure you have more than thirty.”
Colour returned to Sir Richard, and his thin mouth pressed into a resentful line. “You will regret this.” He drew a larger pouch from his cloak and took a step forward, but the rogue’s next words stopped him.
“Take one more step and it will be your last. I care little for the honour of judges and trust their intent even less. Hand the purse to someone else.” His flinty gaze passed over the huddled couple and singled out Elizabeth. “Come forward, mistress. You’re neither fainting nor quivering.”
Startled, she considered pleading to be left alone but smothered the impulse. She would not show fear to this villain. Taking a deep breath, Elizabeth walked towards Sir Richard. A sheen of sweat beaded his forehead, and his Adam’s apple bobbed in this throat. She held out her hand and tried to keep it from trembling. Her nape prickled as if the pistol pressed against her skin. Sir Richard clutched the purse, glaring at her as though she was the villain.
“Your purse, my lord,” she whispered. “Please.”
Sir Richard hesitated for another moment before shoving it into her hands.
Greedy wretch. Elizabeth’s annoyance with Sir Richard gave her the courage to walk up to the brigand. With every step, her determination grew. She would be quite happy to hand over Sir Richard’s money.
The rogue motioned her to give him the pouch, and when she dropped it into his outstretched hand, she met his direct gaze. Elizabeth expected to see the cold eyes of a ruthless madman, but to her surprise, she did not. There was a hardness in those grey depths, but also a keen, calculating intelligence that heightened her curiosity. He stared back at her boldly, and she could not look away.
“My thanks.” His tone was an unmistakable dismissal.
Elizabeth stood puzzled. Old Nick’s small purse rested under her cloak, the sum of everything she owned. She would have been sick over parting with it but wondered why the highwayman had made no demands on her or the others.
“Was there anything more, mistress?”
She was about to shake her head and back away, but the muffled weeping behind her ended thoughts of retreat. Having reached the end of her endurance, Mistress Pritchett began to cry, soft at first and then with more violence. She would have collapsed to the ground had her husband not supported her. Elizabeth grew outraged for the hysterical woman. The audacity of the scoundrel, with all that he dared, awakened her. “Pray, what is your name, sir, so that we may know the coward who threatens us behind a scarf?”
Cryssa Bazos is an award-winning historical fiction author and a seventeenth-century enthusiast. Her debut novel, Traitor’s Knot is the Medalist winner of the 2017 New Apple Award for Historical Fiction, a finalist for the 2018 EPIC eBook Awards for Historical Romance. Her second novel, Severed Knot, is a B.R.A.G Medallion Honoree and a finalist for the 2019 Chaucer Award. A forthcoming third book in the standalone series, Rebel’s Knot, will be released November 2021.
Social Media Links:
Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/cryssa-bazos?list=about
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B072871QB3
Huge congrats to the very talented Irish author Pam Lecky on her new release! Here’s more about Pam’s book and a delicious excerpt to enjoy.
HER SECRET WAR by Pam Lecky
Published by: Avon Books UK/Harper Collins
A life-changing moment
May 1941: German bombs drop on Dublin taking Sarah Gillespie’s family and home. Days later, the man she loves leaves Ireland to enlist.
A heart-breaking choice
With nothing to keep her in Ireland and a burning desire to help the war effort, Sarah seeks refuge with relatives in England. But before long, her father’s dark past threatens to catch up with her.
A dangerous mission
Sarah is asked to prove her loyalty to Britain through a special mission. Her courage could save lives. But it could also come at the cost of her own…
A gripping story that explores a deadly tangle of love and espionage in war-torn Britain, perfect for fans of Pam Jenoff, Kate Quinn and Kate Furnivall.
Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK
Extract from Her Secret War
Sarah and her sister Maura are alone in their home when the Luftwaffe drop bombs on neutral Dublin.
Maura shuddered, her eyes wide with terror. Sarah put an arm around her shoulder and tried to smile, but panic was almost choking her. She couldn’t think straight. Should they stay in the house or leave? Where would be safer if Jerry came back? Seconds later, they heard a distant rumble. Maura clutched at her neck. “Oh my God, that must be another one.”
Sarah pulled her back into the house. “Maura, it’s a blitz! We need to find shelter. Quick, under the stairs.” Sarah tussled with Da’s bike and flung it across the hall. They squeezed into the gap left by the bicycle and clung to each other, shivering.
“I don’t understand,” Maura said after a few moments of silence. “There was no warning, no siren. Why would they bomb us? We’re neutral!”
“I tell you what, why don’t I go out and flag the bastard down and ask him in my best German?”
Maura scowled back at her. “That’s not helpful!”
“Then don’t ask stupid questions, Maura.”
A few minutes passed as they sat in silence.
“Do you think Da’s alright?” Maura asked.
Sarah didn’t give a fig, but she didn’t want to frighten Maura any further. “Sure he is. It would take more than the Jerries to do him in. He was either in the bar at Egan’s or on the bridge having a smoke. He’ll have got a fright, that’s all. No doubt, he’ll return home to check we are not hurt … soon.” More likely, he’d head back to the pub if at all possible, Sarah knew. The men would like nothing better than to dissect tonight’s activities over a few malt whiskies.
Time dragged, but they were too afraid to move. Sarah heard the noises out on the street; people milling about, talking loudly, someone shouting instructions. A fire engine sped past, siren blaring. Maura crossed herself and muttered a prayer under her breath.
Then, the drone of a bomber could be heard again. “Jaysus! He’s back,” Maura cried. “I can’t stand it, Sarah, I can’t stand being cooped up! We’ll be trapped if we stay under here.” Maura pushed her way out and headed for the front parlour. Ma’s best room: the room they only used for special occasions. Ma’s wake was the last time they had used it.
Sarah followed, reluctant to be left alone under the stairs.
“What should we do? What if there are more bombs? Would we be safer outside?” Maura asked, tilting her head, listening out for the plane. “It sounds fainter. Has he moved away, do you think?”
With growing alarm, Sarah stood in the centre of the room, running her fingers through her hair. Her hands were shaking. “I don’t know, Maura, ok? I’m trying to think.” Her voice shook.
“Sorry, Sarah. I’m dead scared. Why won’t it stop? I want them to go away. Why can’t they leave us alone?” Maura asked, sitting down on the edge of the armchair. She wrapped her arms around herself, her lower lip trembling. “Oh, no! Look!” Maura pointed to the window.
Sarah moved closer to the large sash window – Ma’s photograph had pride of place on the deep sill – and saw that the upper pane of glass had cracked, probably when the bombs fell. Da would be livid about the damage. The picture was the only decent one they had of Ma, and Sarah couldn’t bear the thought of it getting damaged; best it went into a drawer. As she reached for the silver frame, there was an ear-splitting whistle, followed by a huge boom.
The window exploded inwards, and Sarah fell into darkness.
Pam Lecky is an Irish historical fiction author with Avon Books UK/Harper Collins. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society, The Crime Writers’ Association, and the Society of Authors. She is represented by Thérèse Coen, at the Hardman & Swainson Literary Agency, London. Pam has a particular love of the late Victorian era/early 20th Century. In November 2020, Pam signed with Avon Books UK/Harper Collins in a two-book deal. The first book in the historical thriller series, Her Secret War, will be published on 14th October 2021; the sequel in 2022.nHer debut novel, The Bowes Inheritance, was awarded the B.R.A.G Medallion; shortlisted for the Carousel Aware Prize 2016; and longlisted for the Historical Novel Society 2016 Indie Award. Her short stories are available in an anthology, entitled Past Imperfect, which was published in April 2018. June 2019, saw the release of the first book in the Lucy Lawrence Mystery series, No Stone Unturned, a fast-paced Victorian mystery/crime, set in London and Yorkshire which was awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion. The sequel, Footprints in the Sand, set in Egypt, was released in March 2020. She is currently working on the third book in the series, The Art of Deception, which will be published in late 2021.
The fascinating world of 1930s Colonial India is the location of Liz Harris’s latest historical fiction novel. I’m delighted to welcome her to Author Chats, where we discuss naming characters, researching locations and yes, of course, everything you could ever want to know about life on a tea plantation. One lump or two?Author Chat
I’m delighted to welcome Philip Yorke to my blog today, as the author of the acclaimed English Civil War series, The Hacker Chronicles, and newly released Volume 2, Redemption. Philip and I share a common fascination about the impact the Civil War had on all levels of English society…and he portrays this with great flair in his fast-paced historical adventures. Join me as we chat about investigative journalism in the archives, saying goodbye to characters, and defining the real meaning of success.
Today I chat with Tammy Pasterick about her new release, Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash. Tammys’ written a heartfelt novel about the golden age of American industrialization and the emotional cost and contribution paid by the Eastern European immigrant community. We talk about the challenges of historical accuracy, looking for character’s names on the Social Security Admin’s website (great idea!) and the value of listening to beta readers.
During one of the darkest times in history, at the height of the German occupation of the Netherlands in 1943, members of the Dutch resistance began a mission to rescue Jewish children from the deportation center in Amsterdam. Heading the mission were Walter Süskind, a German Jew living in the Netherlands, Henriëtte Pimentel, a Sephardic Jew, and Johan van Hulst, principal of a Christian college. As Nazis rounded up Jewish families at gunpoint, the three discreetly moved children from the deportation center to the daycare across the street and over the backyard hedge to the college next door. From the college, the children were transported to live with Dutch families. Working against irate orders from Hitler to rid the Netherlands of all Jews and increasing Nazi hostilities on the Resistance, the trio worked tirelessly to overcome barriers. Ingenious plans were implemented to remove children’s names from the registry of captured Jews. To sneak them out of the college undetected past guards patrolling the deportation center. To meld them in with their new families to avoid detection. Based on actual events, Over the Hedge is the story of how against escalating Nazi brutality when millions of Jews were disposed of in camps, Walter Süskind, Henriëtte Pimentel, and Johan van Hulst worked heroically with the Dutch resistance to save Jewish children. But it is not just a story of their courageous endeavors. It is a story of the resilience of the human spirit. Of friendship and selfless love. The love that continues on in the hearts of over six hundred Dutch Jewish children.
This novel is available to read on #KindleUnlimited
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/me9eZr
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B09BM8QVLF
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09BM8QVLF
Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Over-Hedge-Paulette-Mahurin-ebook/dp/B09BM8QVLF/
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B09BM8QVLF
Paulette Mahurin is an international bestselling literary fiction and historical fiction novelist. She lives with her husband Terry and two dogs, Max and Bella, in Ventura County, California. She grew up in West Los Angeles and attended UCLA, where she received a Master’s Degree in Science.
Her first novel, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, made it to Amazon bestseller lists and won awards, including best historical fiction 2012 in Turning the Pages Magazine. Her second novel, His Name Was Ben, originally written as an award winning short story while she was in college and later expanded into a novel, rose to bestseller lists its second week out. Her third novel, To Live Out Loud, won international critical acclaim and made it to multiple sites as favorite read book of 2015. Her fourth book, The Seven Year Dress, made it to the bestseller lists for literary fiction and historical fiction on Amazon U.S., Amazon U.K. and Amazon Australia. Her fifth book, The Day I Saw The Hummingbird, was released in 2017 to rave reviews. Her sixth book, A Different Kind of Angel, was released in the summer of 2018 also to rave reviews. Her last four books: Irma’s Endgame, The Old Gilt Clock, Where Irises Never Grow, and Over the Hedge all made it to bestselling lists on Amazon. Her new release, Over the Hedge, was #1 in Hot New Release Amazon U.K. its second day out.
Social Media Links:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Paulette-Mahurin/e/B008MMDUGO
The very talented Amy Maroney pops in for a chat today, and shares all kinds of great stories behind her fabulous new historical fiction novel Island of Gold. Come and join us! Author Chat
I loved Annie’s newest Anglo Saxon novel, The Sins of the Father. Join us today as we chat about researching those dark and elusive times. ruthess editing (ouch, that must have hurt, Annie!) and why a Woolly Warrior watches over her when she writes.
I’m a huge fan of Amy Maroney’s “Miramonde” series, and was so excited to read the fabulous first novel in her new collection, Island of Gold. Already a best-seller, available on Amazon, read my review here, and enjoy an excerpt below!
Island of Gold
Cédric offered the falcon a strip of rabbit meat. Ignoring the tidbit, she retracted her neck low into her shoulders, plumped her feathers, and fixed him with a baleful glare.
“Still off your feed?” he asked softly. “What ails you, my girl?”
A low growl of thunder startled him. He glanced through the open door to the courtyard, where rain pummeled the cobblestones. The scent of rotting straw hung in the air. If only sunshine would break through the clouds and give the land a chance to dry out.
Then a familiar figure filled the doorway, jolting him out of his thoughts.
“Philippe?” he said in surprise. “You’re early—”
“It’s your father,” his sword master replied, breathing hard. “He’s wounded.”
Cédric dropped the pouch of meat and pushed past Philippe into the courtyard. He broke into a run when he glimpsed a guard and a servant carrying his father through the front doors of the main house.
Inside the great hall, he cleared the broad oak table near the hearth with one sweep of his arm. Pewter and crockery smashed against the tile floor. Quickly, the men settled his father on the table and removed his leather cuirass and chain-mail shirt. A deep wound gaped at his lower abdomen, leaking blood. His moans reverberated to the rafters.
Cédric yanked an embroidered flax runner off a nearby chest. It was one of the few reminders of his mother left in the house since her death on his twelfth name-day, nearly four years ago. With trembling hands, he wrapped it around his father’s waist. The mingled aromas of sweat and blood filled his nostrils.
“It was the écorcheurs,” said the guard, removing his helmet and running a hand through his matted hair. “They surprised us on the road back from the seminary.”
“They took my purse, my boots, my belt,” Papa managed to croak. “The ring off my finger. And ran me through with my own sword.”
“Those devils. I’ll kill them!” The words exploded from Cédric’s lips without warning. Philippe pressed a restraining hand on his shoulder. His heart thrummed crazily against his ribs all the same.
“Where is Yves?” Cédric demanded, tying the ends of the cloth together to bind his father’s wound. The faint outlines of pink silk roses embroidered by his mother vanished under a relentless tide of scarlet blood. His eyes burned with tears at the sight.
“Your brother went to check on the mill this morning,” Philippe said, accepting a cup of wine from a servant. “I’ve sent someone to fetch him. And the priest.”
Cédric propped up his father’s head and held the cup to his lips. He spluttered and coughed, then swallowed a bit of wine. A gust of wind swept through the doorway, the flames in the hearth dancing in response.
“These cursed rains,” Papa muttered. “There will be no harvest this year.”
Cédric stared at the fire, refusing to watch death tighten its grip on his father.
“And all the while, bandits circle like wolves.” Philippe’s voice was steady, but it held a trace of anger.
Papa sucked in a ragged breath. “My boy, look at me.”
Cédric dragged his gaze from the hearth with reluctance.
“Yves will take my place as viscount. Stéphane is safe at seminary; his path to priesthood is secure. And you—a third son, born with the least advantage.” He caught his breath, grimaced. “God forgive me, I’ve not prepared you, Cédric. You care more for falcons than swordplay. You’re not ready to enter service for a seigneur . . .”
Philippe leaned closer, covered Papa’s hand with his own. “I swear to you as a servant of the Knights Hospitaller that your son has the makings of a strong fighter. I’ll be sure his training is complete before he enters any lord’s household, my friend.”
Papa sought Cédric’s eyes again. “You can change your fate, but not if you spend your life bowing to the whims of other men, understand? One day you must make your own fortune.”
The worry and pain in his expression made Cédric’s heart twist.
“Vow it to me, son.”
“I vow it.” Cédric tried to swallow, but his throat felt dry as dust.
Papa’s face relaxed. His breath grew faint, his skin pale.
“You will make your own way in the world,” he whispered. “But first you’ll learn to live by your sword—and stay alive.”