Rebel’s Knot Review | Gorgeous, Thrilling and Intensely Emotional

My review of Rebel’s Knot, Cryssa Bazos’s fabulous new release in her Quest for Three Kingdoms series. Travel to war-torn seventeenth-century Ireland for a thrilling historical adventure with Niall and Aine. Think there might be some romance too? Yep – and it’s delicious.
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A gorgeously written, intensely emotional historical fiction novel, Rebel’s Knot is an extraordinary journey through an Ireland beset by war and betrayal, weaving through a hauntingly beautiful and tragically devastated landscape misty with folklore and magic. Niall and Aine are survivors in a hostile world–Niall by his wits and training as a hardened Irish soldier, Aine by her instincts and wisdom learned from tales of the ancient heroes of her land. Meeting under terrible circumstances, they are thrown into a world of danger and betrayal, hostility and false friends. And although they carry within them dreadful secrets that trigger shame and a desire for vengeance, they also discover a world of myths, love and tenderness that illuminates a growing longing to be together. Fuelled by their passion, they are determined to fight to the very end, for their beloved Ireland–and each other.

Cryssa Bazos is a remarkable storyteller, for she has a unique gift of blending sweeping events with the detailed footnotes of history, creating a compelling saga rivalling those of the bards of old. Rebel’s Knot is the third in her fabulous Quest for Three Kingdoms series, and it can be read as a standalone; however, those who have read her previous books will be delighted to recognize some favourite characters re-appearing in a delicious subplot. Tense and powerful, tender and lyrical, Rebel’s Knot is an evocative telling of a love story as heart-achingly stunning as Ireland itself. Highly recommend.

Ride with the Moonlight | A thrilling timeslip set in 16th-Century Scotland

I’ve known and loved Andrea’s work since before she published her first novel (we cut our teeth in a writing group together) and I’m so happy to feature an excerpt today. Take a ride to the border with her time-travelling heroine and delicious renegade reiver!
Ride with the Moonlight
(Thunder on the Moor, Book 2)
By Andrea Matthews
After rescuing sixteenth-century Border reiver Will Foster from certain death at her family’s hands, time traveler Maggie Armstrong finally admits her love for the handsome Englishman, though she can’t rid herself of the sinking suspicion that her Scottish kin are not about to let them live in peace. What she doesn’t expect is the danger that lurks on Will’s own side of the Border. When news of their plans to marry reaches the warden, he charges Will with March treason for trysting with a Scot. Will and Maggie attempt to escape by fleeing to the hills, but when Will is declared an outlaw and allowed to be killed on sight, they can no longer evade the authorities. Will is sentenced to hang, while Maggie is to be sent back to her family. Heartbroken, she has no choice but to return to Scotland, where her uncle continues to make plans for her to wed Ian Rutherford, the wicked Scotsman who she now realizes murdered her father in cold blood. With Will facing the gallows in England, and herself practically under house arrest in Scotland, she continues to resist her uncle’s plans, but her efforts are thwarted at every turn. Will’s family, however, is not about to stand by and watch their youngest lad executed simply because he’s lost his heart to a Scottish lass. A daring plan is set into motion, but will it be in time to save Will’s life and reunite the lovers? Or will Ian’s lies prompt Maggie’s family to ensure the bond between them is forever destroyed?
Trigger Warnings
Violence, sexual content.
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Maggie woke less than three hours later and pulled herself from bed. Many of the guests were still sleeping off the effects of the previous night, but her aunts were already up preparing for the next day’s festivities. As for Maggie, she spent the day making her plans. It was clear she was doomed to be handfast to Ian, but that didn’t mean she was going to be the subservient wife. Whenever Ian tried to beat her, she’d fight back, and if he dared touch a hair on her child’s head, she’d castrate him there and then. As soon as the baby was old enough, she’d convince Marion to whisk him away to the Fosters. After that, it wouldn’t matter what happened to her.
Her aunts kept her in the kitchen baking for most of the day, and though she was bone tired, she still found herself lying awake that night. She pretended to sleep once more, as she had for the past few nights, for there was no longer any peace in her dreams. Each time she drifted off, she would see Will’s face, filled with anguish, with the ghastly scar around his neck to remind her of his fate. In the silence of the wee hours, he would come, caressing her with his cold hands, only to leave her there, alone in her agony. Better not to sleep at all, not to harbor any illusion that she might ever again hold him in her arms.
It became a vicious cycle. She’d fight to stay awake, only to nod off into an uneasy slumber. After an hour or so, she’d wake again to find her cheeks covered in tears. In the end, she’d cry herself back to sleep, setting off the whole painful pattern again. Tonight she had been too ill to even think of sleeping, depositing the last of her supper in the chamber pot not moments before, and more than likely would have continued in that vein if not for the intensive baking marathon her aunt had put her through well into the evening. Now exhausted and brokenhearted, she found her eyes were once more growing heavy.
Determined to stay awake, she rolled on her side and looked out the window. Though the waning moon was not quite as bright as it had been a few nights before, it nevertheless cast an eerie glow on the buildings scattered around the barmekin yard. From its position, Maggie could tell it was still deep in the small hours of the morning, well before dawn, though she was not sure that thought cheered her. On the one hand, it meant there were still hours before she’d be thrust into Ian’s care, but on the other, it was just dragging out the inevitable.
The sky had cleared and bright stars sparkled like specs of glitter on a velvet robe. A cool breeze ruffled the purple heather, and Maggie sighed longingly as it carried the fragrant blossom through her open window. It reminded her of her father. How he loved to breathe in the fresh country air. She used to love it too, but now she could only watch sadly and wait for the first rays of sunlight to tinge the sky.
As she lay there in silence, she heard a sound beneath her window that caused her heart to stir. In truth, she knew it must be Ian coming to claim her, but for a moment she let herself believe it was Will. Determined to have these last few minutes with her fallen love, she quickly closed her eyes, hoping to put Ian off as long as possible.
Someone knelt down beside her, and a coldness overcame her as he pressed his icy hand across her mouth. But this was not Ian who sealed her lips with his chilling grip, not Ian whose breathless voice whispered her name. Slowly, apprehensively, she opened her eyes, sure that she had once more drifted off to sleep. The sight she beheld, however, caused her heart to quicken, for there before her, his dusky blue-gray eyes sparkling mischievously, was Will Foster, alive and well . . . or was he?
Andrea Matthews is the pseudonym for Inez Foster, a historian and librarian who loves to read and write and search around for her roots, genealogical speaking. She has a BA in History and an MLS in Library Science, and enjoys the research almost as much as she does writing the story. In fact, many of her ideas come to her while doing casual research or digging into her family history. She is the author of the Thunder on the Moor series set on the 16th century Anglo-Scottish Border, and the Cross of Ciaran series, where a fifteen hundred year old Celt finds himself in the twentieth century. Andrea is a member of the Romance Writers of America.
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A holiday romance from Heidi Eljarbo | Fair Mountain Christmas

Today I’m welcoming a stop on Mary Anne Yarde’s Coffee Pot Book Club blog tour, with an excerpt from Heidi Eljarbo’s lovely Christmas story. Nothing like a snowy night and a starlit sky to get you in the mood for the holidays.
Fair Mountain Christmas
By Heidi Eljarbo

Nostalgia and Christmas miracles burn bright in this uplifting and heartwarming story about new beginnings and falling in love under a blanket of stars.
Fair Mountain, December 1972.
A few days before Christmas, Juni’s editor gives her a writing assignment that throws her far outside her comfort zone. She and her terrier, Leo, retreat to her grandparents’ old cabin in the Norwegian mountains in hopes of inspiration. But the trip turns into a heart-wrenching and emotionally challenging encounter.
Memories of Juni’s childhood seep in as soon as she enters the cabin, and as for the writing assignment…what does she know about what children need for Christmas?
Juni’s focus changes when handsome Henry Norheim from Moose Lodge down the hill unexpectedly shows up outside her cottage door. His dedication to family, traditions, and Christmas celebration is contagious, but for Juni, coming out of her lonely shell is easier said than done.
As Juni’s deadline draws closer, and the snowflakes softly swirl down on Fair Mountain, she has to face up to her past, open her heart, and dare to take a step forward.
Will the miracle of Christmas live up to its promise of hope, goodwill, and love this year?
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Minutes later they were outside. It was a cold night, and the sky boasted a deep indigo covered in a blanket of stars. Henry carried a stuffed rucksack and two sets of snowshoes. He handed her a pair.
“Are you ready? We’ll head for the woods over there away from the lights from the lodge and the surrounding cabins.”
They strapped the snowshoes on the bottom of their boots and made their way into the forest. Leo struggled a little but ran up ahead as if he knew where they were going. Silly dog. He put his tail up and darted around like a bouncing tennis ball to the left side of the path, to the right…then back to the left.
They followed the trail through the woodland and up a hill to a glade with a spectacular view of the valley below. Henry put his rucksack on a rock and pulled out two sleeping bags, a woolen blanket, a thermos, and two cups.
Juni started laughing. “Are we sleeping here tonight?”
He pushed some of the snow away from a large, flat rock and arranged the woolen blanket with the sleeping bags on top.
“No time for sleep. The night is young, and you’re in for some serious stargazing.”
Juni removed the snowshoes and eased into one of the sleeping bags. Leo came and snuggled next to her, and Henry crawled into his bag on the other side. He poured hot chocolate into the cups and handed her one.
“Careful. It’s steaming.”
“Thank you.” She blew on the cocoa and tasted some. The warm, sweet chocolate went down easily.
“My father used to take me out on dark winter nights and show me the stars,” Henry said. “You could call him a space science nut. He was very enthusiastic and always reading about constellations and planets. His nightstand held a pile of astronomy books, a glass of milk, and a banana. He’d read into the night, and the next day, weather permitting, he’d take me outside and share his findings.”
Henry’s enthusiasm and devotion to his father was contagious. Just hearing about the man made Juni wish she’d known him.
“I know little about stars,” she said and leaned back, taking in the myriad of sparkling lights above them.
Henry smiled. “Well, then. Look up, and I’ll show you some patterns of stars. After you’ve seen the patterns, you’ll always notice them when you look at the sky.”
“So, you’re saying this will change my view of the heavens?”
“I am.”
She settled into a comfortable position. “Then go ahead. I’m ready.”

Heidi Eljarbo is the bestselling author of historical fiction and mysteries filled with courageous and good characters that are easy to love and others you don’t want to go near.
Heidi grew up in a home filled with books and artwork and she never truly imagined she would do anything other than write and paint. She studied art, languages, and history, all of which have come in handy when working as an author, magazine journalist, and painter.
After living in Canada, six US states, Japan, Switzerland, and Austria, Heidi now calls Norway home. She and her husband have a total of nine children, thirteen grandchildren—so far—in addition to a bouncy Wheaten Terrier.
Their favorite retreat is a mountain cabin, where they hike in the summertime and ski the vast, white terrain during winter.
Heidi’s favorites are family, God’s beautiful nature, and the word whimsical.
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Traitor’s Knot | Irresistible Historical Adventure by Cryssa Bazos

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:

Traitor’s Knot
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.
Trigger Warnings:
Violence, animal injury/death.
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Traitor’s Knot

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.
“Everyone out!”
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.
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Fabulous New Release | Pam Lecky | WWII Irish Historical Fiction

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. 
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.
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