New Release | Anna Belfrage | Excerpt: The Whirlpools of Time

I am so excited to share an excerpt from Anna Belfrage’s fabulous new time slip novel with you today. Let me just say, this was my first summer read, and it is perfect. So slip onto your chaise, pour yourself a chilled drink, slather on the suntan oil and travel with Duncan and Erin to the 18th Century…and maybe back again. My review is here.
The Whirlpools of Time
He hoped for a wife. He found a companion through time and beyond.
It is 1715 and for Duncan Melville something fundamental is missing from his life. Despite a flourishing legal practice and several close friends, he is lonely, even more so after the recent death of his father. He needs a wife—a companion through life, someone to hold and be held by. What he wasn’t expecting was to be torn away from everything he knew and find said woman in 2016…
Erin Barnes has a lot of stuff going on in her life. She doesn’t need the additional twist of a stranger in weird outdated clothes, but when he risks his life to save hers, she feels obligated to return the favour. Besides, whoever Duncan may be, she can’t exactly deny the immediate attraction.
The complications in Erin’s life explode. Events are set in motion and to Erin’s horror she and Duncan are thrown back to 1715. Not only does Erin have to cope with a different and intimidating world, soon enough she and Duncan are embroiled in a dangerous quest for Duncan’s uncle, a quest that may very well cost them their lives as they travel through a Scotland poised on the brink of rebellion.
Will they find Duncan’s uncle in time? And is the door to the future permanently closed, or will Erin find a way back?
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Excerpt: In which Erin and Duncan meet for the first time
Thunder crackled through the night and Erin jumped, the car swerving slightly. Shit! More thunder, and if anything the rain intensified, a veritable deluge that had her slowing her speed to a crawl. A flash of lightning illuminated the landscape and a huge bundle lying right in the middle of the crossroads. Was that a man? An outflung arm? Erin stepped on the brake. Too late. There was a dull thump when her fender connected with the object. For some moments, she just sat there, her hands clenched so tight round the steering wheel they hurt. On the radio, someone was singing about perfection.
From outside came a loud howl. It made her jump. Definitely a human voice and with a deep sigh Erin concluded her day had just gone from bad to worse. She’d just hit some poor idiot, although to be fair, it was just as much his fault as hers. What sort of moron would just lie on the middle of the road? An injured one, her brain told her, one that is even more injured now that you’ve run him over.
There was a gun in the glove compartment, and she tucked it into the waist of her jeans before getting out. One never knew, this could be one of Steve’s more subtle attempts at getting his hands on her, but the moment she thought it she dismissed it as ridiculous. Steve had little finesse, was way more into brutal intimidation. She shivered, uncertain if it was the rain or the thought of Steve that chilled her to the bone. The pile on the road groaned.
A man, she concluded some moments later. Dark hair plastered to his forehead, something that resembled a linen shirt stuck to his torso and long legs encased in weird pants and knee-high boots. Erin rolled her eyes. One of those Renaissance Fair types, she thought, placing a careful hand on his back to make sure he was still breathing.
“Hey,” she said, wiping at her face. “Are you okay?” Stupid, stupid question. The man’s eyes fluttered open.
“Hi,” she said, trying out a little smile.
“Hi?” He scooted out of reach and sat up, groaning loudly. He looked at her. His eyes widened. He blinked and looked again.
“Can you stand?” she asked him, wondering if it would be totally uncharitable to help him to the side and then drive off.
“Aye.”
Aye? And what an odd accent. He sounded British, somehow.
The man lurched to his feet, took a step and promptly fell to his knees.
“Are you drunk?” she demanded. He clutched at his left leg and she was suffused with guilt. She’d broken his leg or something, and here she was accusing him of being drunk.
He looked at her. “I wish I was,” he said. “It would explain my hallucinations.”
“Hallucinations?”
“Aye.” His eyes narrowed. “Or are you real?” Once again, he stood, favouring his left leg. He was tall, well over six feet, and that shirt of his displayed an impressively broad chest. He was also bleeding from a gash on his forehead, his right sleeve was badly burned as was the forearm and hand, and he grimaced when he put weight on his left foot.
“Of course I’m real.” She grabbed hold of him when he swayed. He yelped and shied away, landing yet again on the ground.
“God’s fish!” he exclaimed. “You are real!”
What was the matter with him? She took a couple of steps away from him, uncomfortable by how he stared at her, as if she were some sort of apparition. Sort of rich, seeing as he was the one wearing weird clothes, not her.
“Where’s Lewis?” He filled his lungs. “Lewis!” he yelled. “Damn it man, where are you?”
“Not here,” Erin told him.
“But he was right behind me when…” He broke off, stared down at the crossroads and shuffled hastily to the side. “Where’s my horse?”
Erin shook her head. No horse. And who in their right mind would go riding in this weather? Some people took all that re-enactment stuff way too far.
“Who…” he began, but whatever he was about to say drowned in the sound of a large, revving engine. A huge van skidded to a stop and Erin hurled herself towards her car. Too late, and here came Steve, with that oaf Johnny and his dear cousin Marco. Johnny had hold of her before she reached the car. A twist, and he had her arm high up on her back, making her scream with pain.
“Let me go!” She kicked and fought.
Johnny just laughed. “Don’t think so. You’re coming with us.” He pulled her in the direction of the van.
“What, you thought we were done?” Steve asked. He glanced at the stranger, who was swaying on his feet. “Who’s he?”
“No idea. Let me go, you bastard!”
“Now, now: you know what we want. You give it to us and we’ll let you go. You don’t, and…” Whatever else Steve had planned on saying she’d never know—not that it took that much imagination to fill in the blanks. Instead, Steve was staggering back, staring at the stranger. An arm flew out, a fist connected with Steve’s face and he toppled backwards. The stranger turned her way.
“The lady said to let her go,” this oddly dressed apparition said. He pulled his sword as he advanced on Johnny.
“Seriously?” Johnny said with a sneer, pulling his gun. Erin took the opportunity offered, stomped down on his toes and pulled free, fumbling for her gun. Steve was back on his feet, stalking towards them.
“Watch out!” she yelled. The stranger swirled. His blade sliced through the air, Steve yelped. He wheeled again and his blade rapped down sharply on Johnny’s hand, sending the gun flying.
And then there was Marco, bringing down a cudgel on the stranger’s head. The stranger stumbled, regained his balance, ducked the next blow and punched Marco in the gut. With a growl, Johnny threw himself forward. Steve joined the fray. The stranger disappeared in a flurry of arms. Three against one was impossible odds—especially against someone like Johnny. But the stranger held his own for a while, giving as good as he got. At one point Steve screeched. The cudgel came whistling through the air and the stranger collapsed.
“Bastard!” Steve snarled, kicking at the poor man. “Who do you think you are, some sort of Zorro?”

About the author:
Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.
Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients. Her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk, has her returning to medieval times. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. Her most recent release, The Whirlpools of Time, is a time travel romance set against the backdrop of brewing rebellion in the Scottish highlands.
All of Anna’s books have been awarded the IndieBRAG Medallion, she has several Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choices, and one of her books won the HNS Indie Award in 2015. She is also the proud recipient of various Reader’s Favorite medals as well as having won various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards.
Find out more about Anna, her books and her eclectic historical blog on her website, www.annabelfrage.com or check out her Amazon page.
Follow Anna on twitter or on FB.
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Author Chat with Barbara Greig | Discovery

I was intrigued by Barbara’s new release Discovery, for it is an exceptionally interesting story set in a time and place we seldom see – 17thC Quebec. Join me as we chat about her writing inspiration, walking in the footsteps of her characters, and the challenges of writing about real historical characters (hint – did they really say that?!)

Discovery | An epic tale of love, loss and courage | Barbara Greig

Author Chat | Step into New York’s Golden Age with A.B. Michaels

The Madness of Mrs. Whittaker explores two intriguing forces of early twentieth century America: the religious movement called Spiritualism and treatment of the mentally ill. Join me for a fascinating Author Chat with A.B. Michaels and discover more about New York’s Golden Age and the people who created this memorable epoch.

A.B. Michaels | New Release | The Madness of Mrs. Whittaker

Featured Excerpt | Guardians at the Wall | Tim Walker

Today I’m delighted to feature an excerpt of Tim Walker’s exciting new dual timeline historical fiction novel, Guardians at the Wall:
Archaeology student Noah scrapes the soil near Hadrian’s Wall, once a barrier that divided Roman Britannia from wild Caledonian tribes, in the hope of uncovering an ancient artefact around which he can build a project-defining story.
He makes an intriguing find, but hasn’t anticipated the distraction of becoming the object of desire in a developing love triangle in the isolated academic community at Vindolanda. He’s living his best life, but must learn to prioritise in a race against time to solve an astounding 2,000-year-old riddle, and an artefact theft, as he comes to realise his future career prospects depend on it.
In the same place, almost 2,000 years earlier, Centurion Gaius Atticianus, hungover and unaware of the bloody conflicts that will soon challenge him, is rattled by the hoot of an owl, a bad omen.
These are the protagonists whose lives will brush together in the alternating strands of this dual timeline historical novel, one commencing his journey and trying to get noticed, the other trying to stay intact as he approaches retirement.
How will the breathless battles fought by a Roman officer influence the fortunes of a twenty-first century archaeology mud rat? Can naive Noah, distracted by the attentions of two very different women, navigate his way to a winning presentation?
Find out in Tim Walker’s thrilling historical dual timeline novel, Guardians at the Wall.
Buy Links:
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Available on Kindle Unlimited

Extract from Guardians of the Wall
The following Saturday, we were in the car park loading Mike Stone’s Land Rover with shovels, hessian sacks, sample bags, trowels, sieves, a metal detector and a ground-penetrating radar device that Richard had signed out for the weekend. I had identified the current owner of the farmhouse, Mrs Betty Hardcastle, a retired widow, and I’d spoken to her on the phone, introducing myself as an archaeology student who was interested in identifying sites of old Roman graveyards. 
It had piqued her interest when I said I had a hunch that there might be a family graveyard plot in the corner of her house enclosure. She’d replied that she was a member of the Corbridge History Society, and was interested in the prospect of finding historical remains on her land. I had played it down, saying that I would like to come over one Saturday with a couple of friends to have a look around. She had agreed, and proposed that we come over right away, on the forthcoming Saturday.
“What did Professor Wilde say to you, Richard?” Dave asked, placing a cool box of sandwiches and drinks in the back.
Richard carefully stored the last of the equipment in and shut the rear door. “She gave me a copy of the trust’s dig rules and told me not to disturb or remove any artefacts we may uncover. We’re only to photograph and record them, then come back and fetch Mike Stone.” 
I groaned at the thought of having to stop if we found anything of interest. I held the passenger door open for Dave. Only three could squeeze into the cab, so Russ had agreed to stay behind.
“Well, I guess she could take the credit if we found anything,” Dave said as he wedged himself in the centre seat by the gear stick.
The drive time to Hardcastle Farm was only thirty minutes, and the electric gate opened for us after I waved at a CCTV camera. We rattled across a cattle grid onto the one-hundred-yard straight drive to the manor house, passing two dozen shaggy-coated Highland cattle and as many sheep chewing the thick, coarse moorland grass. Away to our left I saw the boundary fence and the buildings of the Corbridge Museum between trees, owned by the English Heritage Trust.
“To think that Gaius must have been so near and yet somehow thwarted from reaching Coria,” I said as we waited for a second set of electric gates to swing open. Our approach had been tracked on a moving CCTV camera. The main house, front garden, barn and outhouses were all enclosed by an electric fence.
Richard parked next to a newer, but similar, Land Rover on the gravel driveway. “Let’s hope this is the right place.” 
We got out to the barks of two large smooth-coated hounds with floppy ears, and the approach of our host, a stout, grey-haired woman in cream Aran jumper and corduroy trousers tucked into green gumboots. It was practically a uniform around here, and we were similarly attired.
“Good morning and welcome to Hardcastle Farm,” she said.
“Hi, Mrs Hardcastle.” I held out my hand. “I’m Noah. Thanks for inviting us to have a look around.”
“Not at all, and please call me Betty.” She gave me a firm hand shake. I could see from her ruddy cheeks and frame that she was an outdoors person, no doubt a keen hiker and dog walker on the Northumberland hills that rose from the river valley in which her property sat. “I’m so pleased you called. I’ll take you to the overgrown corner which I think would be a good place to start. There’s a pile of stones that may have been used as grave markers. I’ve put a couple of rakes over there. If you wouldn’t mind clearing away the leaf mulch and twigs for me and tidying up, I’d be grateful.”
She led the way across an expanse of mown lawn towards the corner of the enclosed area, past a stone border and hedgerow that marked the edge of the garden, and onto a rough track that led into an area of low-hanging trees and bushes. There was a disused wooden shed with a partially collapsed roof, then a secluded area with lumps of coarse grass where no trees grew, only a few bushes.
“This looks promising,” I said.
“Yes, I’ve often wondered if this was an old graveyard. The nettles and brambles run riot, so it’s a magnet for butterflies. You can rip up the bushes and slash back the grass, but leave the trees that border this area, please,” Betty replied. The area covered roughly forty square yards.
*****
[In the Roman fortified town of Coria in the year 180 CE, Centurion Atticianus gives his report to Tribune Bebius]
Gaius silently rehearsed the report he knew he would soon be giving, then composed himself as the voices of officers entering the commander’s office filtered through the thin door.
“Ah, Centurion Atticianus, come forward and meet your fellow officers,” Tribune Flavius Lucius Bebius said in a welcoming tone, his composure fully recovered.
“Yes, sir!” Gaius replied, standing to attention. “I am Gaius Vitellius Atticianus, Centurion of Horses of the Fourth Century, Fourth Cohort, Sixth Legion, Victrix Pia Fidelis. I was sent here by Tribune Helvius Pertinax from Vindolanda which is under attack from a large force of barbarians these past two days.”
He paused as the officers gasped. With late arrivals, there were now two prefects and twelve centurions in the room, including Lupus, whom Gaius had recently escorted from Habitancum Fort to the Wall. He nodded to the Senior Centurion whom he knew, Julius Flavius or ‘First Spear’, who was above all centurions.
“It is necessary that you speak slowly, so that my clerk can record the detail of your report,” Tribune Bebius said. Gaius glanced over his shoulder at the clerk sitting at a small table in the corner of the room, stylus hovering over a wax tablet.
“Certainly, sir. But before I continue, may I ask, what action was taken upon hearing the report by Centurion Lupus Viridio of the fourth cohort? He had witnessed the gathering of the Caledonii tribes at the dun of the Selgovae king.” 
A look of anger flashed across the tribune’s face. After glaring at Gaius for his impudence, he looked at the huge man in polished, gilded armour standing before him. “Well, First Spear, did you receive a report from this centurion of a gathering of the tribes?”
“I… did, Your Excellency, but you were otherwise detained at the time, and so I thought it could wait until our weekly briefing, scheduled for tomorrow, sir.”
“Fool! Do you not recognise an important piece of intelligence when you hear it?” The tribune’s cheeks turned puce again, this time with rage. “You could learn much from Centurion Atticianus here, who practically battered down my door to give me his report of hostiles approaching…” He checked himself, and his storm blew over as quickly as it had started, and he continued in a calm manner. “Right, put the entire garrison on full alert and send out your cavalry on patrols. Is there anything else we should know, Centurion Atticianus?”
Gaius cleared his throat and replied, “We were forced off the road at the estate of Magistrate Lucius Gabia…”
Tribune Bebius chuckled, cutting him short. “Ah, Fortuna guided you there. He is a friend of mine and I know his estate is built like a fortress. He convinced himself that one day barbarians would attack… and now they have. He is away in Eboracum at the courts. The walls are high and he even had corner towers built.”
“Yes, Fortuna be praised, sir. We made use of the walls and towers. And with the help of his estate workers, managed to keep the savages at bay long enough to bury our payroll chest and standard, before making a staggered retreat via the river path.”
“You did well, Centurion. My compliments to you for your wise actions in what must have been a grim situation. Remain behind and give the location details to my clerk. They must be recovered after we see off the barbarians.”
Gaius spun on his heels and marched out, followed by the scurrying clerk clutching half a dozen tablets to his chest. Gaius could see soldiers and civilians rushing about through the windows, and knew that meant the warband had been spotted.
The clerk sat and looked up, expectantly.
“We buried a chest of coins and the fourth cohort standard at the estate of Magistratus Lucius Gabia, in a grave marked with a stone in the name, Domina Drusilla Gabia,” he enunciated in a slow, deliberate manner, watching the bird’s nest on top of the clerk’s head wobble as he made deep and deliberate indents in the soft wax. “Those are the salient facts. And now, I take my leave.”



Tim Walker
is an independent author living near Windsor in the UK. He grew up in Liverpool where he began his working life as a trainee reporter on a local newspaper. After studying for a degree in Communication studies he moved to London where he worked in the newspaper publishing industry for ten years before relocating to Zambia where, following a period of voluntary work with VSO, he set up his own marketing and publishing business. He returned to the UK in 2009.
His creative writing journey began in earnest in 2013, as a therapeutic activity whilst recovering from cancer treatment. He began writing a historical fiction series, A Light in the Dark Ages, in 2014, inspired by a visit to the part-excavated site of a former Roman town. The series connects the end of Roman Britain to elements of the Arthurian legend and is inspired by historical source material, presenting an imagined history of Britain in the fifth and early sixth centuries.
The last book in the series, Arthur, Rex Brittonum, was published in June 2020. This is a re-imagining of the story of King Arthur and follows on from 2019’s Arthur Dux Bellorum. Both titles are Coffee Pot Book Club recommended reads. The series starts with Abandoned (second edition, 2018); followed by Ambrosius: Last of the Romans (2017); and book three, Uther’s Destiny (2018). Series book covers are designed by Canadian graphic artist, Cathy Walker.
Tim has also written three books of short stories, Thames Valley Tales (2015), Postcards from London (2017) and Perverse (2020); a dystopian thriller, Devil Gate Dawn (2016); and three children’s books, co-authored with his daughter, Cathy – The Adventures of Charly Holmes (2017), Charly & the Superheroes (2018) and Charly in Space (2020).
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Elizabethan Rebel | An Author Chat About Essex with Tony Riches

Tony Riches writes brilliantly authentic Tudor tales, and his most recent historical fiction novel, Essex – Tudor Rebel, is richly detailed and hums with the suspense and excitement of the age. Join Tony as he chats about his research, why he’d like to be locked up in the Tower of London, and who his next Tudor hero is…

Essex – Tudor Rebel | Tony Riches | An Epic Elizabethan Tale

Author Chats | New Release | Clare Flynn’s Sisters at War

Today I’m delighted to welcome Clare Flynn to Author Chats to talk about her latest release, Sisters at War. A sweeping saga, Clare takes us from her own hometown of Liverpool to the Australian outback, following the fortunes of two sisters during WWII. It’s a great chat, and I’m fascinated by how Clare writes her own life of travel into her novels.

Sisters at War | Clare Flynn | A Sweeping WWII Saga